You can’t Fake the Core

“If there’s one thing I believe more than I believe anything else, it’s that you can’t fake the core. The truth that lives there will eventually win out. It’s a god we must obey, a force that brings us all inevitably to our knees.” ~ Cheryl Strayed

All year I’ve been peeling away the layers. I’ve been seeking out breathing room in nearly every aspect of my life. After a period of my life that felt nearly suffocating, I needed to breathe again. I changed jobs. Our house is being decluttered. I simplified our family life. I took a step back in nearly every aspect of my life. This is what I need. I know it deep inside my core.

I’m meant to live a simple life. I’m meant to live a life full of love. It’s impossible to accomplish this when your life is full of clutter – both physical and emotional.

And yet my running has struggled. I’ve struggled with my relationship with running all year. Injury. Emotional baggage. Mental weakness. I just can’t get over the hump. With my fall race season approaching, I started to panic. I need a training plan. I need to get faster. I need support. My running continued to spiral downward. I don’t want to give up on running. I love running. Should I even be racing at all? I can’t function without running. I’m working on redefining my relationship with my running shoes. Isn’t that enough? Spiraling spiraling downward. And then I bounced back up.

What I need is breathing room!

I already know exactly what I need. My body has been telling me for months (years?).

I need to trust myself. I know how to run. I know how train. Creating my own plan, trusting myself to get me to the finish line, is exactly what I need. I need to empower myself. I need to put my faith back in my own ability. I don’t need a time goal. I just want to do my best.  And I need to listen to my body.

While I was so busy trying to control the outcome of every race, I was ignoring the screams that were coming from my body. I’ve run my body into the ground based on it’s current fitness level. My hips have been rebelling. I feel weaker every time I put on my running shoes.  My body was screaming at me that something needed to change. It was reminding me what I always forget: my running legs aren’t like everyone else’s running legs. They were broken at one point. My femur, my tibia, and my foot broke. They are pieced back together by titanium rods and screws. My hip and knees have been dislocated. I have scar tissue. I have to take care of them. I have to support them. I need to get stronger if I’m going to keep running.

So my training plan is blank minus the few races I’m running this fall. I’ve left space each week for two easy runs, one speed work out, and a long run. I’ve left space for strength workouts. I’ve left space for yoga. How I fill in the space each week will be based on my life – family and work. The blank spaces make me feel alive. The blank space feels like a vote of confidence in myself. I’m smart enough to know how to build mileage. I have run enough speed workouts to select ones that challenge me. I am now smart enough to recognize that my focus has to be on strength and yoga. The running will fall into place.

I’m excited about this new plan. I’m excited to find a balance that works for me. I’m excited to listen to my body in a truly authentic way. It feels amazing to let go of trying to control the outcome. Instead I’m focusing on today, right now, and exactly what my body needs. I have a feeling I’m building the foundation for a very happy running relationship.

I hear you body! I am finally listening!

I finally feel like I am breathing!

 

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Running and life: always a reflection of each other

Heartbeat

“I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where our dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.” ~Lisa Bu

After I wrote these words on a post a month ago, they have followed me. I have shared so many of my dreams in this space – to run Boston, to work for Operation Smile, to practice yoga with Blissology in Bali, to raise boys that feel connected to the world, to love and live with a whole heart. Some of the dreams are concrete. Some of them are abstract. There isn’t a scale to measure if I’m loving with my whole heart, but Boston has a very specific number attached to it. There isn’t a report card to validate my parenting, but producing at work proves my worth in the organization.

During lunch this week I sat in a room with my coworkers. We watched Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk.

The conversation that existed after we watched this talk hasn’t left me either.

“What you do simply proves what you believe.” ~Simon Sinek

This Ted talk, working in environment that allows me to lead with my heart, has brought clarity to dreams.

Why do I want to run Boston? It’s not because I want to be fast. It is because I want to run the streets of Boston with individuals that have poured their heart and soul into their training. I want to stand at the starting line with individuals as our dreams come true. I want to feel the energy of the town at the finish line. I want to be part of the heartbeat of the marathon.

Why have I always dreamed of working at Operation Smile? Because it’s an organization that believes in healing. It believes that our planet is small, and its our responsibility to care for our neighbors. It’s an organization that cares about individuals and sees beyond appearance, religion, and politics. It is an organization that leads from the heart. You feel it when you walk in the front doors. There is a heartbeat in our building.

Why do I want to practice yoga in Bali on a Blissology retreat? So many of my beliefs have been defined from my time on my yoga mat. There is a heartbeat in the Blissology community that echoes in my own heart. I want to be inspired. I want to absorb the energy it has to offer. I want my heart to beat louder.

Will I ever run Boston? I hope so. Will Operation Smile always be part of my life? I plan on it. Will I ever board a plane to Bali with my yoga mat as my carry on? My heart says yes.

“To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart, instead.”  ~Elizabeth Gilbert

While these dreams are all tangible, my real dream, the real passion behind why I want to live my life this way, is a heart beat. To run Boston, to work at Operation Smile, and to practice yoga in Bali are all a result of what I believe. They are all a reflection of my real dreams – to raise boys who grow up grateful and aware of their world and to live my life from my heart.  I want to be surrounded by people whose hearts beat as loudly as my own. I want a community of people who love as much as I love.

My family and the things that I do root me. My heart keeps me dreaming. As long as I’m listening to my heartbeat, I’m going to end up where I belong.

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Sunday Salad: Southwestern Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Salad

Every now and then I get a glimpse of what life looks like without a crazy toddler begging for every second of my attention. Cole is in Florida on a mini vacation with my parents, and Christian was working a beer festival all day, so Chet was my shadow all day. Normally he can be demanding and my day is spent according to his schedule. Today I felt like he become a partner in my schedule. It’s amazing how different that can feel.

Today started off with a run with Heidi while Chet navigated from his stroller. The afternoon was filled with lazy play, and then I got to spend some time in the kitchen with my little sous chef.  We made peach baked oatmeal for an easy breakfast option this week. Dinner was our next task. Tonight we enjoyed Southwestern Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Salad by Eat Live Run. Such a wonderful combinations of foods that I already had in our house thanks to our CSA box from Cullipher Farm. Dinner was delish, and there is plenty for lunch this week!

Ingredients:

for salad —

1 small spaghetti squash

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 orange or red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 bunch cilantro, minced

2 cups shredded green cabbage

2 cups thinly sliced cooked chicken breast (I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker with a jar of salsa and then shredded)

1 cup chopped jicama {optional}

avocado for serving

for zesty buttermilk dressing—

1/2 cup well shaken buttermilk

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used plain yogurt)

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice your spaghetti squash in half length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a greased sheet pan and bake for 40 minutes, until very tender. Let squash cool before using a fork to scoop out “spaghetti” and place in a bowl. You can do this step up to three days before you prepare the salad.

Next, make the dressing. Whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the salad, place the cooled spaghetti squash in a large serving bowl. Top with black beans, chicken, bell pepper, shredded green cabbage, cilantro and jicama, if using. Toss all ingredients together well. Drizzle dressing over salad {you may not want/need to use all the dressing}.

Serve salad on plates topped with sliced avocado.

**Assembled salad will stay fresh, without dressing and avocado, for up to four days covered in the fridge. Dressing will stay fresh for up to a week and is also great served as a dip with raw veggies

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Find my entire collection of salads here.

Breathing Room, July Edition

Priorities. Smart choices. Balance. Knowing that I don’t function well when my world feels noisy and chaotic, this month I made intentional choices to use my time to fill my life with things that make me happy. At the end of every day, I have very little free time to give. My energy is given to my family and my work, so I am making sure I don’t fill up every second of our free time. Weekends have been filled with lazy days on the beach. Summer nights have been spent catching fireflies and taking evening runs to the park.

A two-week break from running this month also brought a lot of clarity to my relationship with running. Happy miles are my driving force right now. I’ve done more easy runs with Chet in the stroller than speed work outs with friends. I’ve run more slow miles on trails than speedier long runs on the road.I’ve let go of the structure of a training plan (for right now), and I’m filling my weekly runs with sunrises, friends, and stroller runs. It’s working. I’m feeling renewed.

This month has been a great reminder that I know myself best. I am at my best when I’m trusting my body and my heart.

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Read my other updates too:

June

May

April

March

February

January

This is a joint project with Heidi Calma Photography that was created when we were wondering how we could stay more focused on our words for the year and celebrate them along the way. Check out her posts, too!

Understanding Need

I sit in front of my computer screen starring at medical companies and emails every single day. All of them are filled with potential, but on my side of the screen, I sit feeling needy. The information I need to make things happen doesn’t exist inside my head. I have to ask for help. The resources I need aren’t readily available to me. I have to ask for support. The people I need to reach are not defined. I have to search until I find the right person. My job at Operation Smile, an amazing organization that provides free surgeries to repair cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities for children around the globe, is to ask for Gifts in Kind. I ask companies to donate medical supplies so we don’t have to purchase them for our medical mission.

I have tunnel vision right now. We are spending thousands of dollars on acetaminophen for every mission. No one donates this simple drug. Bottles of Tylenol are in nearly every household in America. There has to be a way to find a donation. I know I can find the right company. While I researched acetaminophen, while I researched companies, and while I reached out to anyone willing to accept my call, I sat in my chair feeling desperate.

“I’m going to have to get used to feeling needy”

This is the thought that kept echoing in my head. Needy is not a comfortable place for me. Needy is not a character trait I strive to embody.

In the middle of a development conference, I sat in a small room with all my coworkers and our co-founder, Dr. Magee. Tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat is a normal part of my work day. Every single story touches my heart. As I whipped away a tear, a realization washed over my body.

“I am not needy. The children, the adults, the families, and the communities that need acetaminophen as a very small piece of what it takes to make a surgery a success, they are in need.”

I can’t perform the surgery that will fix a child’s life forever. I can’t teach them to speak years after most children have muttered their first words. I can’t provide them information on nutrition so their bodies can thrive. There is a lot I can’t do, but there is even more that I can do. I can carry their need for them. I can sit in my chair at work and turn that need into an honor. I have the privilege of asking. I have the privilege of bringing the mission of Operation Smile to corporations around our global. I get to connect these two worlds.

When I started to feel needy, I could feel myself shrinking. If continuous online searching and dozens of asks to unresponsive receivers could make me shrink in my desk chair, imagine living a life where you’re not accepted or received because of the way you look. That is a real need. When I was reminded that I was advocating for an authentic need of an individual, I sat up a little taller in my chair.

“Love by definition is self-sacrifice. Love is a decision to make someone else’s problem your own.” ~ Dr. Bill Magee

Every single day I love what I do. I love the children around the world that are kept hidden from their communities because of their cleft lip and cleft palate. I love the mothers, the fathers, the caregivers who sacrifice so much to give their child a chance at a normal life. I love every single person who makes this possible. What I do each day is an honor. I will find a company that also feels honored to provide acetaminophen to our patients around the world. I will ask and ask and ask again because this is a real need in our world.

This isn’t needy. This is love.

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Whole Hearted.

“I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.” — Lisa Bu

Over coffee last week, my running coach and I redefined my relationship with running. We chose a new lense for my view of my training plan. I want to run. I need to run. I love to run. But every time I have put on my running shoes lately, I wonder if my run will be a success. I cross my fingers and hope that it turns out to be a good run. Every time I put on my running shoes lately, I feel a little broken.

For the past two years, I have used running to repair the broken things in my life. After having Chet, I used running as a way to reclaim my identity. After I went back to a job I didn’t love, I used running as a way to fix a long work day. After my father-in-law and my aunt passed away, I used running to heal my broken heart. When marriage hits a rough spot, I use running to heal my frustration. When the boys become too much, I use running to fix my sanity. Running has always fixed my broken spots.

As my life heals itself, running has become the broken piece. It’s time to heal my relationship with running.

The only way to heal what is broken is to highlight and enhance all the aspects that I love.

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Last Thursday, my first run back after my stitches were removed, I joined two friends near and dear to my heart for an evening boardwalk run. We ran our favorite route – over the Rudee Inlet bridge straight into the crowd of tourists on the boardwalk. When our feet hit the boardwalk, it felt like the start of summer. We haven’t done this in two years! Three miles into the run, we made a happy hour pit stop for orange crushes and lots of girl talk. The run back to the car was filled with laughter and happiness.

On Sunday, I headed out for my long run. I headed to my favorite running route. I left my garmin at home. I just ran. I ran the Cape Henry Trail into our State Park to some of my favorite back trails. It’s been a while since my running shoes had real trails underneath them. I ran up and down sand downs. I ran alongside water. I skipped over tree roots. I don’t know how far I ran or how fast, but when my feet finally hit pavement again I felt like I was flying.

As I ran down the trails, trails that have held so many of my tears and so much of my laughter, I felt myself picking up all the pieces I had left scattered over the years. I ran these trails, the day the world said goodbye to my aunt. In the middle of a winter storm advisor, I found my refuge in the tree-lined path. On these trails, I spent an entire summer running with my friend Heidi as we both tried to figure out how to be new moms again. Every time I ran with a broken heart down these trails, I left some of myself behind. Every time I ran filled with hope, I left some of myself behind.

Sunday’s run was a declaration. Sunday’s run put an end to broken running. Sunday’s run reclaimed my favorite place.

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There was no stop button to hit when I got back to my car so the run continued. My heart was filled to the brim, and it followed me home.

Last week’s run and all my runs going forward need to be a reflection of my life right now. I’m bring my heart, my whole heart, back to my running. Life is constantly changing. There will be more phases of heart ache, but right now, my whole heart needs a chance to shine. My whole heart needs a chance to run.

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Breathing Room (by Room), Summer Facelift

My parents brought a breath of fresh air to my house plans just when everything was starting to go stale. Do to some rearranging in their own home, they needed to get rid of the bed in their guest room. The timing is perfect since Christian and I have enjoyed our cozy full size bed since our lives joined forces under one roof. A full size bed was always perfect. He was always close. It felt cozy and connected. One dog later and a toddler who likes to wander into our room every now and then, our cozy bed has run out of room. We are upgrading. The shift in our room is causing a trickle effect into the boys rooms as well. Cole is inheriting our bed (which also gives us the ability to host guests if anyone is in town), and Chet will inherit Cole’s bed. With all the shifting going on, I’m taking advantage of the time to organize and add a splash of life to our bedroom as well.

Master Bedroom

  • Queen Size Bed
  • New Sheets and pillows
  • New Bed Skirt
  • Paint walls
  • Refinish bedside table
  • Refinish Dresser
  • Add some character. Fortunately we already have most of the elements I want in our bedroom, so I just need to buy the final touches.
bedroom inspiration via Pinterest

bedroom inspiration via Pinterest

Cole’s Room

  • New Bed
  • New Sheets/Comforter
  • Rearrange

Chet’s Room

  • Bye bye crib/toddler bed
  • New Bed
  • New Sheets/Comforter

While making our bedrooms work for our family will add a huge benefit to our daily living, there is one eye sore in our house I am having a hard time ignoring: our front room/the boys play room. We had great intentions when we created this space (read the Kid Cave post here). Those intentions have never been put to full use. The Kid Cave has never been fully utilized and it has turned into a messy play room/place to drop things when we walk in the door. It’s time to reclaim that space and make it part of the heartbeat of our house.

The Kid Cave is turning into a quiet retreat. With Chet inheriting Cole’s bed, we are left with my dad’s amazing childhood bed frame and an extra twin mattress. I prefer items that have history and are well-loved instead of newly purchased items, so this makes my heart sing! We will be turning it into a daybed/couch. The toys are moving out. The books are moving in. The fish tank is relocating. A desk is taking its place. The train table is staying for now. I’m really excited about what this room can become for our family. I know I need a place that lacks noise, and I know my family needs it too. RIght now every room in our house is filled with toys. We need (I want) a place to read a good book, to practice yoga, to play a card game as a family, and to just relax. I can’t wait to see what it becomes. We already have most of the elements we are looking for, so the redo won’t cost us much money

Front Room Makeover

  • Day Bed
  • Buy bedding
  • Move rocking chair to room
  • Move desk to room
  • Remove all old furniture
  • New baskets for train tracks
  • Rearrange artwork
  • Switch out curtains with sheers we already have, new rod above small window
  • Out with the toys, in with the books! the train table can stay
front room inspiration via Pinterest

front room inspiration via Pinterest