Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 in Review


This was my word for 2017. I set out to explore my buried feelings of fear, shame and unworthiness to bring them to the surface, welcome them and befriend them. What a year it has been!

This time last year was difficult for N and me. We were not connecting as we had in the past. With 10 years of marriage and 14 years together, we just weren't jiving. We both felt it and wanted to do something about it. I shared what was on my heart and he responded with love and acceptance. And together we worked through what was going on with us. It is safe to say that we are closer now than perhaps we've ever been. We're definitely more honest about our feelings than we've been in the past. We both committed to owning our stuff and dealing with it, rather than stuffing it down and pretending everything is okay, which is the preference for both of us.

I believe the source of our success this past year was our willingness to be vulnerable with each other. Our willingness to reach out to connect without knowing how the other would respond. Our willingness to admit that we can love each other every single day without judgement. That we can simply love each other exactly as we are without expectation every single day.

Being willing to be vulnerable and truthful with myself and those around me has proven to be both challenging and incredibly rewarding.

I did some exploration of my personality type - INFJ. I found podcasts and lectures and read and listened to as much as I could to help me understand how I interacted with the world on a subconscious level.

I was dealing with an issue at work. I was trying to work through it, but could tell I was blaming others and looking for fault and while I tried desperately to figure out what the lesson was for myself, I just couldn't find it. Until one day I figured it out. I wish I could remember what it was that triggered the ah-ha moment for me, but I just can't remember.

Basically, I was living in a "should" life. I had an idea of what success was, and it wasn't where I was in my career. I believed I "should" be running a program somewhere, supervising people and making lots of importance decisions day in a day out. What I intentionally walked away from in early 2016 is what I believed gave me value as a working woman. Anything less was not success as I defined it.

This was all unconscious, and I was not putting my all into my work because I was so concerned about what I "should" be doing with my career. Once this all came to my consciousness, I got it. Once I got past my own self righteousness and saw that I am able to redefine what it means to me to be successful, everything changed.

I can be content with where I am in my career. I can even be proud of what I am doing and the work I did to get here. In order to get to this place though, I had to be willing to explore all of this. It was not easy, and it was honestly embarrassing to admit that I was feeling this sense of self-righteous at all, but once I really felt it, named it and honored it, I could work through it and land on the healthy side of my ego.

I realize my words may make it sound like this exploration and connection is easy, but it absolutely is not. It is a conscious state of curiosity about my feelings and senses where I am always trying to balance my ego and show up honestly and kindly to myself and to others.

It may sound like I have this all figured out but I certainly do not. What I do have is a positive view of vulnerability and how having it as a cornerstone in my life will bring me great understanding of myself and my loved ones. It is the key to human connection. It is what makes us able to empathize and be with others in a meaningful way.

I feel so lucky to have explored vulnerability this past year. I have grown in so many ways! Some of the best resources I found on the topic are "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown, and the podcasts related to ego work on Personality Hacker (dot) com.

So many other amazing things happened this year!

N and I had an incredible time in Mexico seeing Widespread Panic. The trip jump started our reconnection that lasted throughout the whole year. 

BBZ participated in his first real theater production of Lion King, Jr. He was so proud!
LBZ started kindergarten and has loved it so much! It's a beautiful thing to see him so anxious to learn and grow.

BBZ found a new love for Harry Potter. He got the full set of movies and books for his birthday, so we watched all of the movies and he is on book #2.
He loves reading and loves the fantasy world of Harry Potter.

We had a white Christmas! We were all so excited to play in the snow and sled. It was cold and really fun! I love the photo of the boys in the snow. It seems like they are so grown up.
We spent a wonderful week in Massachusetts with my parents, and did lots of things that we did when I was a child, like heading to the top of Mount Wachusett.
What wonderful memories we created!

LBZ has a strong love for soccer. It is so much fun to watch him do his thing. 
After a full year of being gluten free, I finished one of my favorite races feeling healthy and strong and ready for the next adventure! 2018 is going to be a big year for me and my running. I can feel it!

Lastly, I finally committed to a new tattoo that I had been designing in my head for months. My best friend and I went together and the artist designed this for me based on some ideas I brought to him. I am so happy with the way it turned out!
It's a perfect way to show my love and commitment to running in the woods. 

Happy New Year to all of you in the blogger world!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Three Reasons this non-believer loved a book about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I have mentioned that I am not much of a reader. I have read only a handful of books from cover to cover in my 37 years, 2 of which were in the last year. So that's huge. I have officially read three books in one year. Crazy.

So anyway, as a person who doesn't read much, When I do choose a book, it tends to really resonate with me and make a mark in my psyche. Otherwise, I simply don't get past the first 2 or so chapters. When the book The Shack first hit the theaters, the trailer was captivating. I looked into the book immediately, and realized it was about god and religion and I didn't even consider reading it. I figured I might see the movie eventually.

Then, a friend who is a strong believer posted something to Facebook stating that the book is not religious and was a great read. I figured if she says it's not religious, she would know, for sure. So I ordered it on Amazon and figured I'd give it a shot.

About half way through I started to regret my decision to read it. You see, I feel uncomfortable even hearing about the stories of Jesus, so choosing to hear his name in this book and hear the stories I have generally not believed was uncomfortable for me. But I pushed on. I really felt that this book sort of chose me, as did the others I have read this year.

So I pushed on, and finished it last night. This book was really, really good. I can't stop thinking about the impact this book has had on me since I began to read it. I have identified three reasons that this book may have changed the way I parent, the way I connect with my spirituality and the way I interact with others.

#1 It validated the reason I became a non believer in the first place.

During my early years in high school, a classmate died in a horrific accident in a car that another classmate was driving. The driver survived, and the story of this tragic accident haunted many of us young folks trying to make sense of it.

It was around this time that I began to explore the ideas of religion on my own, apart from the very infrequent trips to church as a young child, combined with my father's very clear non-belief. I went with my boyfriend at the time to a small church group that was comprised of other students of my school.

I listened to them describe the way they understood Jesus and his life and how it affected the way they live. At one point, it was clear that they believed, as I had already heard, that people who do not accept Jesus as their lord and savior would be punished by an eternity of hell. I asked, point blank, if this meant my friend, who had died so tragically, was burning in hell and they replied, yes.

This was it for me. Never would I love or find peace in a god that punished my friend for anything. I am a bit stubborn, and this was the end of any type of religion, or even talk of Jesus in a positive way for me. While I have found peace in Buddhist practices, nature, and spirituality, a positive idea of Jesus could never be redeemed for me, or so I thought.

In this story, a man has conversations with Jesus, god and the holy spirit in 3 different, yet connected forms. During his conversations with them, they explain the this belief that god (and therefore Jesus and the spirit) as a punishing god is an untrue story created by humans in an attempt to control that which is out of our control.

I will not go into how this conversation goes in the book, but for the first time in my life, I see a god portrayed in a way that shows love for all people. This is a god that for years I have seen in nature, in my children's eyes, and in the beautiful love I feel when connected to my husband. This was not a concept that was new to me, but this book tied this belief that I already have, with Jesus and the teachings surrounding him. I do not know that I believe in Jesus any more than I did before, but I do see how others' belief in him in this way can give them the peace that I feel when I am with what I consider god.

#2 It addresses the biggest fear that I, and many other parents, hold so close to our hearts. The potential loss of our child(ren).

This story is about loss. The death of an innocent child at the hands of the deepest violence that exists in this world, and the fear we as parents carry about this exact scenario playing out in our own life and in the life of our child(ren).

I am terrified that something awful will happen to my children. So much so, that I try to control anything terrible from happening by worry, fear, and any possible chance of being able to keep this from happening. This has negatively affected my life in many ways.

This story puts it all out there. The fear, the worry, the pain of losing an innocent child to violence. It brings it right up to the uncomfortable surface and forces the reader to acknowledge it. It is difficult to explain how this happened for me by reading this book, but reading this story helped me realize that my life is simply my story. The boys each have their own story, as well.

I have written my boys story to include a long life. Great success and health. Perhaps a family of their own one day. No where in their story that I have written, is their death. Well, maybe there is, but it is long after I am gone and they are asleep peacefully in their old age after a long and fulfilling life. The fear I hold, is that this story may not play out as I have written it.

But what I have come to understand, is that I truly have no control over that. While I hope that my story goes a certain way, and that my boys story goes a certain way, and that my parents have as story for me that they hope goes a certain way, the truth is we have no control over our story. When I die, that will become part of my loved ones' story. If something would happen to someone I love, that would be part of my story as well.

This is not unlike other teachings I have read on the Buddhist ideas of life, or even in other books about letting go of control and trusting in fate, or the stars, or the universe or whatever other way we wish to assign words to this feeling of peace over being able to handle anything that occurs in this life. The way this was delivered in the book was extremely powerful for me, and I feel peace over this huge fear that I have carried for years after reading this book.

#3 It emphasizes connection, vulnerability, and the way in which we all could be interacting with each other.

My word for this year is vulnerability. I have been paying very close attention to how I interact with others. Not only those closest to me, but also others in my circle of the world. I have been very impatient, judgmental, and basically kind of crabby off and on for the last few weeks, but I am starting let some of that go.

I read a few other things while reading this book that also helped me see how I react to what others do, so this third reason may have been a combination of those readings, but again this story just captured the potential for connection that is there for us humans. The book talked about god's original plan for humans, our choice for independence and free will, and how this changed everything for all of us on Earth.

While I am not totally on board with all of that, it's important for me to emphasize that my interpretation of how religion works has always included fierce and merciless judgement, holier than thou, and rules rules rules that separated those who worship god from those who do not. This is not how this concept was addressed in this book. This concept was shown as an underlying love and potential for connection that all of us have deep in our being. It talked about how carrying Jesus in your heart can accomplish this, which isn't the way in which I think this can happen, but for the first time in my life, I have an understanding of how OTHER PEOPLE may be using this concept to find connection and love with and within others.

This concept is huge for me. I have spent most of my life feeling judged by the very idea of Jesus and god, and that my beliefs and spirituality were from a different perspective. This story helped me understand how people who believe and follow the teachings of Jesus, as they were meant to be taught with love and kindness and genuine connection vs. fear and punishment and damnation has resonated with me in a way that I am trying to communicate, but is likely falling short.

This book, like many that I choose, or that choose me, has made a difference in how I view my little corner of the world. While I am sure my struggle with vulnerability, connection and the fear of something happening to my loved ones will persist, the feeling of peace that I have now is almost in a little compartment, and when I begin to feel a certain way, I can quickly access it and rationalize where I am, and bring myself back to this place of peace and security in myself, and in my future.

I have one story that I'd like to tell, that was buried within me for years but brought to the surface when I was reading this book.

When I was a sophomore in college, I had become fairly depressed. I spent a lot of time in my dorm room alone, as my roommate had moved in with her boyfriend. I was single for the first time since early high school, and was confused about who I was and where my life was going.

On one particularly difficult day, I literally could not get out of bed. I laid there, crying, and said out loud "why am I so sad? What is wrong with me? I need help, somebody please help me".

Almost instantly, I felt a release. I sat up, and felt an incredible sense of peace. I had an idea to go get a haircut, so I got up, I got dressed, and I went to get that haircut. Never again did I experience that type of depressive state.

I tell this story because I always felt that something bigger than me helped me during that time in my life. I have never felt worthy of god's help, as I have spent most of my life adamantly not believing, but I wonder. Whatever it was, it was a turning point in my life that I will revisit, and show gratefulness for often.

Next up? to see the film version of The Shack. Hopefully the screen will do it justice.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Panic en La Playa Seis 2017

Sometime last year, when ticket sales were announced, we decided to buck up and head down to paradise for Panic En La Playa Seis (PELP). We figured with N's 40th birthday and our 10th anniversary we could justify the cost and the trip. Then, for months and months we put it out of our minds. Finally, February 26th came and we took off for our 6-day trip to sunny Mexico.

Day One, 2/26/17

We caught an Uber at 4am as my mom settled in to live in our house and care for our boys while we were gone. Passports in hand I finally learned the ins and outs of international travel.

 Sunrise over southern US as we flew to Houston.

We arrived in Cancun around 12:30pm, and immediately realized we were in paradise. There is a bar at the airport right in front of the ground travel buses where you can buy tropical drinks by the yard. We found the PELP shuttle and settled in for an hour drive to the resort.

The beauty in this place is hard to describe. And the people who work there are so friendly and kind. PELP reserved the entire place, but we came a day early so there were people there vacationing on 2/26 before the whole place was flooded with hippies and the good people you find during a show.

The view from our room.

Sine we were there a day early, we got to catch the sound check. It was fun to hear a few songs and watch the workers begin to set up the concert area for the music that would ensue over the next few days. They played the songs but without much gusto. It was the perfect tease of what was in store.

Sound check, 2/26/17

 I have never been to Mexico before, and have never been to an all inclusive resort. It was pretty easy to put the money we paid over the last few months behind us and pretend everything we were experiencing was free, besides tips. The food was mostly buffet style, and it was fabulous. The restaurant staff were well versed in gluten free eating and often took me around the buffet to show me what was safe and what wasn't. 

Or first meal at Toro, one of the many buffet style eateries. 

The day the tickets went on sale all those months ago, My friend J texted me about 20 minutes before and asked if we were going. I replied yes and for the next 20 minutes she went back and forth about getting tickets, too. The expense is high, so it's a tough decision to make, but at the last minute she bit the bullet and decided to go. It was so great to have another couple to hang with. We had such an amazing time with these beautiful people!

A toast to friendship and the first night in paradise. 

As we explored the resort we found some music in the lobby area near some pool tables and other entertainment.
A Mexican Beatles cover band, which is exactly as awesome as one would expect.

At some point someone, I think it was our waiter, had the idea of bringing us a shot. When asked what kind we wanted, N replied "surprise us". This is what he brought, and called it a Jelly Fish. It was gross, but made for a great photo!

My brain is just a jelly fish in the ocean in my head, 'cause I drank too much tequila, and I woke up seein' red. ~String Cheese Incident

Day Two, 2/27/17

2/27/17 was our first full day at the resort, so we did lots of exploring and taking in the beauty of this place. It was chilly with the breeze off of the ocean, and it ended up being pretty cloudy, but that didn't seem to affect the way we appreciated the beauty in this place.

These iguanas were everywhere! They mostly moved slowly, but occasionally jumped out and scared the bejezus out of us! 

This part is a little scary for me, but here it goes. At some point leading up to this trip, I decided to throw all self-consciousness out the window and wear a swimsuit that shows my stomach for the first time, maybe ever. Seriously. Even as a young teenager I was so self conscious of my mid area that I refused to bare it for anyone in public, But this time? Eff it. I was going to enjoy the pool and the sunshine and get some color to my belly for the first time ever. It felt so amazing and freeing!

Rocking a stomach-showing swimsuit for the first time, maybe ever. 

In one of the many emails we received from the planning company for PELP, they encouraged us to bring decorations for the balcony. We saw so many cool decorations. We brought a Missouri state flag and a Cardinals flag. It took us a while to figure out how to hang in the best way, but we did it! Represent!

They also had theme nights, and one was Space Wrangler, so N bought these little guys for that night, which wasn't until Thursday, so he hung around here until then,

Wrangler, Space. 

This is the only photo I have that shows the inside of our room. It was small and perfect since we really only slept there. We didn't turn on the TV once. I still wonder if there are English speaking channels in Mexico. We didn't find out!

Braids, hair flowers, and a constantly stocked mini bar. 

The stage was set up with the ocean behind it and plenty of room for everyone to see the stage. This was where we stood at each show, and we walked up to this area a few minutes before 8pm, so you can see that there wasn't really a bad view anywhere. The show was incredible. It was easy to get caught up in the "free" food and drinks, the ocean, the pool and the sunshine, and it quickly became clear why we were all here. Because of the music. While the whole show was fantastic, that Bear Gone Fishin' > Blight > Climb To Safety was killer.

Show #1, 2/27/17 

We were standing just to the right of the soundboard, which had a person manning the entrance to make sure only VIP folks walked in. I saw Luther Dickinson enter this area and got really excited! I have been an arm's length away from Luther before, and never felt brave enough to go up and talk to him.

At one point he came out of the sound board area and was standing against the back railing. I walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. I told him about my son, LBZ, and how we decided his name. He walked out of the area and we talked for a while. Then we danced to Panic and enjoyed the music. He turned to me and said he was going back to the inside area, and I took his hand and told him how much I appreciate his music and thanked him for sharing his talent with me and with the world.

He invited me into the inside part, but I declined. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed with the moment that I think I needed it to end, if that makes sense. As I turned to walk back to me friends, J came up to us and took this photo. Had she been 2 minutes later, this moment wouldn't have been recorded. Once I returned to N and our friends in the crowd, I busted into tears.

This moment was one of the highlights of my entire music life.
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars

Day Three, 2/28/17

I didn't take many photos this day, I think because we spent most of the day at the pool. They had a side stage where Southern Soul Assembly played a set in the afternoon. It was also fat Tuesday, so they had a Mardi Gras party during the show. It was a crazy good time. A waiter brought us a tray full of drinks and said it was watermelon juice and a surprise. I don't know what that surprise was, but it wasn't good. I didn't feel great afterwards and we figured we spent a little too much time in the sun.

Southern Soul Assembly includes Luther Dickinson, JJ Grey, Anders Osborne and Marc Broussard

We didn't let it stop us from the show! The Mardi Gras costumes were fantastic. So many beads and sparkles and happiness all around. The drums in Fishwater was an insane back and forth between Duane and Sonny and I just couldn't get enough. Tall Boy is always great and the Blackout Blues in the encore was just perfect. We were so tired afterwards that we crashed afterwards and decided we maybe needed to balance the sun tomorrow. It's easy to overdo it in paradise, and we wanted to enjoy every single moment of this fabulous trip.

In Mardi Gras style for Fat Tuesday

Day Four

The day started out just lovely as we took a nice long walk around the resort exploring the beaches and pools on the other side from where we were staying.

We got to the pool around noon and posted up in a place where we could have some sunshine and some shade so we didn't get burned. The sun there is no joke, and we really didn't want to burn. Since the performers are also on vacation, we would randomly run into one at the resort.

Colonel Bruce sat down right next to us in the pool area and swam right by us for a long time. We all chatted briefly, and I noticed when he came back to his lounger, putting his shoes on and heading to the bar. Figuring he was coming back, I didn't pay much attention to the fact that he left his shirt there, but the boys did. We tried to find him to return it, but he was gone. N decided it was just his style.

N wearing Colonel Bruce Hampton's shirt.

Even though the buffets were stocked with incredibly delicious food, we all liked the idea of sitting at a restaurant where they bring us a menu. We chose the Mexican restaurant, and it did not disappoint. We couldn't help but notice the smaller than American portions. This was exactly the right amount of food for our pre-show bellies.

Chicken with rice and mole sauce

N's dessert, which was so pretty!

My dessert, which was nice looking, too.

Night four, show #3 was so good. I felt amazing and we felt like we adulted the heck out of the day so we could hang into the show feelin' alright. The first 4 songs started with the letter G, and I never did find out the significance of that, if there is one. North was pretty great as they sang about Mexico, but the best was probably Genesis, which I thoroughly enjoyed and told the man standing next to me (a guy named Todd who was not a Panic fan but came along with some friends for the week) about a gift N gave his best friend in 2003. N had all of the lyrics to Genesis printed on a poster and mailed it to the writer for his autograph. He then framed it and gave it to our good friends for their wedding. Genesis was their wedding song.

Oh, how I love these good people!!

Day Five, 3/1/17

We woke up on day five feeling great! We knew this was our last full day here, so we got to it. We explored some more and did some souvenir shopping for ourselves and for the boys. After spending the day at the pool, we caught the Bloodkin show and I met a guy named Mike and his wife who were from Orlando and had been to at least 3 of the shows. He sat down next to me and asked if it was okay for him to smoke his cigarette. I said yes, and we talked a lot about quitting and how hard it is. And I took notice of the fact that he actually asked me in the first place.

You see, if you've never been to a Panic show, it is difficult to explain. But if you have been to a show, whether Grateful Dead, Panic, Phish or a similar band, the community is what makes this experience so magical. A woman in the bathroom line snapped at me all bitchy, which happens in the real world a lot, but she actually stopped, came back to me and apologized, which only happens in this world, if the bitchy happens at all. Typically people are kind and generous and looking out for each other. Imagine that community at a show, but now it's in an entire privately rented resort and there are 4 shows and tons of beach and pool time in between. That my friends, is Panic en La Playa.

Bloodkin on the side stage, 3/2/17

The theme of the night was Space Wrangler, so N got these awesome little space men and found the perfect little sparkly cowboy hats for them. They felt like our babies at the beginning of the show, but eventually we put them down against the metal barrier that separated the sound board area from where we were standing.

Our little space wranglers.

During set break a group of resort employees saw them and took them off of the railing. I don't know what they said, but they seemed so happy to find these space men. N and I decided to let them have them, but not before we got a good photo.

I seriously think it made their night!
Even if they did tear the little hats off.

It isn't hard at all for me to talk about the biggest highlight of show #4. The entire set list was full of dance party awesomeness, so I shouldn't have been surprised when they went from >Surprise>Ride Me High>Surprise into the song I have spent 16 years and about 50 shows chasing. My favorite Panic song of all time: Airplane.

During set break I told a lovely lady dressed in a super sparkly space wrangler outfit about my love for Airplane. She said she was in the very front row and if they played it, she would make room for me to go up close to hear it.

As soon as I heard the first 3 notes, I knew. I stood there frozen for a bit, then J asked if I wanted to go up front and said she'd go with me. We wiggled our way to the front row and couldn't find the woman I spoke to at set break, but that didn't matter. I looked at the cute little 20-something hippie in the spot directly in front of JB and told him of my 16-year quest to catch this song. Without a hesitation, he moved to the side and held his hand out for me to take his place.

It's hard to put how much I love this song into words. I sang it to my boys as they fell asleep. LBZ loved it so much, he created his own rendition with a small adjustment that includes a helicopter.
Check it out. This moment was also a huge highlight in my music life.

Front row center for "Airplane"

Show #4 was by far my favorite. They had special guests, they opened with Sewing Machine, which our whole group thought they closed with the night before, but they in fact only played part of the typical combo of Protein Drink>Sewing Machine at show #3. Conrad. Wrangler. Red Hot Mama. Parsons. Time is Free (with Colonel Bruce). Blue Indian. And a closing song of Life During Wartime, another one of LBZ's favs. And of course, Chilly Water. (For a 50-second clip of Chilly click here)

A nice shot of the water being tossed around during Chilly.

Day Six, 3/2/17

Oh, day six. Veterans of PELP tried to warn us about re-entry and the difficulty of leaving after show #4. Many veterans stay an extra day, unlike us who came a day early. As much fun as I had, I missed the boys like crazy and really couldn't wait to get home.

Our plan was to meet at 9am, check out at the main convention center, drop our bags in front, eat some breakfast and catch the 10am shuttle back to the Cancun airport. We met at 9am, went to the convention center and checked out, then walked outside and somehow ended up in the lane to get on the shuttle that was leaving right then. They took our bags and put them on the bus instead of on the stairs for the 10am bus.

We tried to tell them, but at that point we all felt committed. We got on the bus behind our bags and had no water, no food and a one hour trip to the airport. We weren't very happy, but we made the best of it. As we were pulling out of the resort, I realized that not only did I not get breakfast, but I also didn't get a chance to say a proper goodbye to the resort and take any final photos at the resort, but we did get a few of the journey home.

The only vacation sunset photo I caught.
Mostly because of timing and position of our room.

Nevertheless, the trip home was uneventful. Traveling out of the country brought some anxiety, so having the trip go smoothly makes me want to do it again as soon as possible. I was thrilled to see my boys, who were at the airport when we landed, and as I snuggled them to bed last night I realized what a perfect balance this trip was for us. N and I got to have an adventure, to see our favorite band, to connect after 10 beautiful years of marriage and to return home to the loving arms of our boys. It was perfect.

Home, sweet home.

This weekend, on the other hand, has been a little rough. The boys are just off and having trouble listening, the memory of no worries on the beach with nothing but our favorite band's concert on our schedule is fading into the reality of routines and housework and laundry. The workweek is looming, and the struggle for re-entry into the real world is a real thing.

To my friends who could not attend this year, I seriously encourage you to build this trip into your vacation spending plans. Start saving now. It's expensive, but worth every single penny. We will have the opportunity to pre-buy tickets for next year, and I think we just might. We'll be the veterans and can give some good advice going forward. Basically, just do it. Go to PELP.

Other fun stuff to note
(I may add to this as I recollect noteworthy details)

The room key is actually a waterproof bracelet you wear when you check in and they cut off when you check out. So it leaves basically zero chance that you will be locked out of your room.

I read the whole book "Born to Run" this week. It includes a lot of stories about running in Mexico, and it was perfect for this trip.

Even though I didn't run at all during this week, I managed to get over 20k steps every single day we were there, making this week one of the highest in steps I have ever achieved, even with weeks that include my longest races.

If you pay attention, they tell you every single thing you need to know about traveling internationally. Miss something, and your'e pretty screwed.

They took a ton of footage of PELP and will likely make a 4-5 minute video like they did last year. I may or may not be hoping for a cameo in the seis version, 

Street tacos are divine. That's all I have to say.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My word for 2017


My word for 2016 was adventure. Click here to read my report from a year that was full of running, exploring, personal growth and adventures.

Going into 2017 has been tough for me. I've realized some things about myself that I'd like to further explore, but that exploration is scary. The truth about what we hold deep in our hearts, that we cover up with possessions and smiles and tough skin and super mom personas can be hard to uncover. But that is exactly what I intend to do in 2017.

My 2017 word is vulnerable. My goal is to allow those buried feelings of fear, shame, and unworthiness to surface so I can welcome them and befriend them. I've spent the month of January diving in and what I've found so far is nothing short of fascinating.

Let me describe an example. We are a screen watching family. While we value outdoors and adventures, our go-to is often screens. Winter and the cold makes it more challenging for N and me and we have to stay very cognizant of how much time the boys spend on screens. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by this task this past week, then in the midst of this I took BBZ to the dentist and found that he needs a lot of treatment, much like he did a few years ago. The combination of these two things came to ahead in Saturday.

The boys were playing video games together before dinner and had built a huge village and were working really well together. I was concerned about the length of time they were playing, then the village they built dominated their discussion at the dinner table. I felt completely overtaken by screens and LOST IT. You know, the kind of crabby that makes the family walk on eggshells. It was bad.

In his beautiful and supportive way, N asks me if this is just about the screens or if there was something else going on. I sat for a minute, and really explored this feeling. What was going on with me? I've been so even keeled lately. I've been ridding my home of useless stuff and seeking a more calm and quiet life. Where on earth did this anger come from?

Then I figured it out. The screens. The dentist. The decision to try a more minimal life. Under it all was an intense feeling that:

I am not good enough.

How about that for being vulnerable. A better mom would have screen limits figured out. A better mom would provide better dental care. A better mom (or person) wouldn't have all this stuff in the first place, or would have it all out of the house by now. But rather than admitting that this is how I'm feeling, I lashed out at others in "stressed out" aggression. But buried underneath this outer shell is the fear of being right, that I'm really not good enough.

Something that sent me on this path toward being more open and vulnerable is this talk from Brene Brown. It is a bit long (20 Minutes), but I encourage you to take time to watch or listen if you are interested in exploring this topic.

The example I shared is barely scratching the surface of my own fear of vulnerability. I'm consciously trying to welcome these feelings of uneasiness and fear, breathing them in and further discovering the kinds of connections that are possible with the world and the people around me when I'm being my authentic self. This is my year of vulnerability.

I have kept mostly quite on this blog lately, not making time to document my thoughts. An encounter with an old friend makes me want to dedicate some time to this space of mine. She shared that she was moved by my sharing some private thoughts and experiences when I talked about how N and I chose to start our family years ago. It was beautiful to know that she found strength in my words. So perhaps sharing this experience of being more vulnerable will resonate with a reader out there somewhere.

Like a long run on the most challenging trail course imaginable, this is going to suck.

And I'm actually looking forward to it.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 Review


2016 was full of many adventures, both personally, professionally, and within my running goals. It was a great year! Let's recap in photos,because that is super fun.

In February 2016, I started a new job. I know it's been a while since I posted at all, but particularly about this, but this was a HUGE move or me. For the first time in 15 years, I do not supervise a team. I am responsible for my work and my work alone. I am not in charge, and while I get to make some important decisions, the really important ones are made way over my head. This was certainly an adjustment at first, but it is proving to be the huge step back in life I needed, leaving time and space in my heart to be available and present for my boys.

I totally stepped up my running game in 2016. I ran a 15k in February...

Then a 20k in March...

Then a 25k in April! This April race was my first taste of the ultra marathon world, as the 25k distance is basically an ultra half marathon. This got me so excited about increasing my mileage!

Even N decided to run a 5k race with me. Couples who race together...!

This was the 4-week trail race series in May that I ran last year as well. All of the courses are in one of my very favorite parks on different routes throughout the trails. I landed in the top 10 in all four races and even hit the top 5 in race #4!

This guy lost his first tooth. It seems a bit early to me, but I suppose it happens at different times for different kiddos. He's growing like a little weed and is the happiest kid I know!

I just love this photo of N. He and I are just like everyone else in our relationship, we have our ups and downs, and at the end of 2016 we were in a pretty rough down. But we are working hard to stay present and connected and with the needs of our love and our family in the front of our minds. If anything is an adventure, it is going through life with another person. We love each other so, and we get complacent. But we are turning toward each other and doing our best to love each other well.

See? Little signs of love are all around us. We just need to keep our eyes open to see them.

This boy is a whole hand worth of fingers. I haven't posted much about them. I guess I haven't really posted anything in a while, but with them it is somewhat intentional. These boys are becoming the people they are meant to be. What if they don't want their stories on my blog? What if their idea of privacy is different than mine? I feel like I need to be extra guarded as they continue to grow into young men. I can say without a shadow of a doubt, that good things will come for this boy. He's a special one, my little LBZ. His demeanor is so endearing. I only hope he will not feel let down by the world when he finds out it is not as genuine and pure as his little heart.

And this boy. How hard it is to put the beauty of his soul into words. He is kind, and generous, a great friend, and a brave young man. He had a conflict with a fried at school and will barely any help from me, sought out the support from his counselor to help mend the friendship in a way that everyone felt heard and loved. I'm not sure how I got so lucky to have this boy in my life. Watching him grow into a man may be the most rewarding this I will ever do in my life.

In September I ran this race for the second year in a row, but this time it was really challenging. My head wasn't in it, and I was experiencing some burnout. The only reason I am smiling in this photo is because it's the finish line and the race is finally over.

Later in September I had another race scheduled. I got up super early as usual as there was a pretty long drive to this one. When I woke up, I saw this not that N left me. "Have fun, run hard, stay out of your head, enjoy the experience. These words were my mantra during the race. I enjoyed every mile that wrapped around a beautiful lake. This note meant a lot to me, and restored some lost love I had for running.

In the fall, N decided to coach LBZ's soccer team, and BBZ was the "assistant coach". It was a fun adventure where we met lots of new families in our area, and even found some friends that LBZ will be with in kindergarten! N was a great coach. His 3 rules: Be kind, No hand, and Have fun!

This was probably one of the most proud races of my running career so far. It was a 20k on a local trail with some of the toughest climbs around. And I ended as the 4th female overall! It was after this race, however, that I had to finally admit that there was some serious GI issues that happened to me after long runs and races like this. What I had been chalking up as typical runner's trots were becoming a much more worry some situation. I decided to make some major changes to my diet and vitamins and have been gluten free since 10/2016. It has been a slow process, but I can tell my gut is healing and this issues are less severe. I do think it will probably take all year to fully heal my gut to the point where I can build some serious miles into my plan. I hoped to start training for a 50k around this time last year, but that goal in on hold.

This is from another 20 k race in 11/2016. I was signed up for the 30k, but as described above, i needed to back off a bit while I sorted out my health issues. I had been running with a new group I met through the Meetup app, and earned myself a reputation for putting my arms out like an airplane when I go fast down trail hills. Apparently, as captured in this race photo, I also do the airplane when creek crossing, too.

Although I said I would never go to the far north in the winter months again, we made the trek to see my parents and did some hiking and adventuring while there.

My final race of the year was in chilly December, the day after our 10-year wedding anniversary! It was at a lodge, so N and the boys came along and met me at the finish line. It was so great to have them there!

We attended our very first ugly sweater party!

And had an amazing holiday season celebrating our life, our love, and these 2 young boys who simply light up our lives. This whole thing is an adventure, and one wild ride. While I'd like off every now and then, I wouldn't change a thing.

In January of 2016 I set a goals to run/walk/hike 1008 miles in 2016. I met that goal in November and decided to step it up and try and meet the 1008 miles in only running. I met it at the tail end of December, just in time.

2016 was a great year, full of accomplishments and challenges. 2017 will prove to be similar, I think. My running goals are to run 1050 miles in the year, with 300 of those miles on trails. I also hope to focus on strength training and injury prevention as I continue to figure out how I can increase my miles and heal my GI issues. I'd love to add a 50k to this goal, but that may be a 2018 goal.

Stay tuned for my word for 2017. It's a good one!