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

 

Defining Quiet

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” ~Zen Proverb

It happens often. I feel the spaces around me growing quiet. The noise from the outside world becomes mute. These are my favorite moments. These are the moments when I hear my heart the loudest. These are the moments when I know I’m doing exactly what I am meant to do. My world has been quiet lately.

I used to wait for the quiet moments to find me. I used to crave them and beg for their return. I would long for the calm after the storm. After moments of intense happiness or whirlwinds of sadness, the quiet has always been a welcome surrender. Instead of waiting for the quiet moments to appear, I’ve been intentionally creating the quiet lately. I’ve removed facebook from phone. I’ve left the garmin behind on my runs. I’ve removed myself from chatter that doesn’t have meaning. None of it matters, but yet I can get caught up in the noise. I can find validation in a few new likes on my facebook page. I can feel success when my garmin shows a run that was faster than yesterday. I can feel validation when I feel like I’m accepted by everyone around me. None of this matter. There is a shallowness in all of this, and lately it has become too noisy.

I always struggle when life gets too noisy. Maybe it’s my introverted heart that causes me to crave solitude. I know it’s my heart that causes me to crave meaning in all my relationships. So this is my focus right now. Quiet spaces and meaningful relationships with everything I love: my family, work, real friends old and new, running and yoga.

Inside this new quiet space, I’ve gained awareness. It has brought me so much perspective. (I think the unexpected two week break from running has helped too.)

My running has been a struggle since the Richmond Marathon. I’ve dissected the pieces every way possible. What was I missing? What had I forgot? In many ways, I had a lot of success on the road, but I also had a lot of heart ache. Every run has felt like a gamble. Would today’s run feel like a success or would I come up short? With more quiet, more space to absorb my own life, I can clearly see the picture now. In the past two years, running has become my coping mechanism. I used it to heal my heart while grieving. I used it to find my identity after the fog of having a new baby. I used running to heal everything. Every single time I put on my running shoes, I asked it to heal me. I showed up feeling hurt, sad, lonely, and broken. I left all this energy in my running shoes. I would walk away from each run refreshed, but my shoes still held the puddle of my broken self. And my broken self still lives there. I am no longer broken, but the energy is still in my shoes. I still show up to every run looking for a problem. My heart and head search (or create) broken pieces. Every time I wonder if the run will be a success, I’ve mentally given myself permission to fail.

It’s time to redefine this relationship. I have to fill my running shoes with a new vibration, a new energy. I have to transform my runner heart. As observed by one of the meaningful friends in my life, can you imagine what my running can become when I’m coming to it with a light heart? Can you imagine what it can become when my shoes are filled with the magic of running again?

My relationship with running is no different from any other relationship in my life. What I bring to the relationship, what I leave behind, is exactly what the relationship becomes. It is okay to move through all these emotions. Every single one of them is normal. What isn’t normal is residing in these places. I have to learn to pass through them without getting stuck. This is what these new quiet spaces are showing me.

I’m letting the quiet guide me. I’m letting my heart pull me into these spaces. I’m intentionally seeking quiet spaces in my heart, in my head and in my life. I am creating meaning instead of seeking validation. It’s taking me down a path I didn’t imagine but one that feels like home.

Life is a constant balance. I hope by falling off the radar in some aspects of life, I create space for my heart in many other directions. I hope that by ditching false forms of validation, I recognize the real value in the quiet places. I am transforming my own energy.

It’s the quiet, the depth of life, that makes my heart come to life. This is the place I’m residing.

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Sunday Salad: Crab Pasta Casserole

Hurricane Arthur put a damper on fourth of July plans here in Virginia Beach. While the morning of the fourth was a wash out, the rest of the weekend has been beautiful. Pool parties and fireworks were rescheduled. This all worked out great for our family because Cole came home Saturday afternoon. He made it home from fireworks on the beach, and a cookout with our favorite family friends.

Our entire family sat poolside this afternoon enjoying low humidity and gorgeous summertime weather. My contribution to the cookout was a no brainer. My family requests this dish several times a year:

Crab Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:
8 ounces uncooked pasta
2 large onions chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced (mushrooms omitted for preference reasons)
1/2 cup green red and orange bell peppers, chopped (color changed for visual appeal)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup butter
16 ounces crab meat, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon basil
1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

**I also added a bunch of asparagus, chopped, to the veggie mix

Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile in a skillet, saute onion, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper in butter until crisp tender. Remove from the heat. Drain pasta; add to vegetable mixture. Stir in crab, sour cream, basil and salt.

Transfer to 2 greased 8-inch baking dishes. Sprinkle with cheese. If you don’t wish to cook both, at this point you can cover and freeze one casserole for up to 1 month.

Cover and bake the second one for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes.

Notes: I used one box of pasta (about 14 ounces) and doubled up on the veggies and other ingredients to make a huge family size portion with leftovers for lunch.

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This recipes will always be connected to summer family cookouts. I hope you enjoy it too!

(Read all my Sunday Salad recipes here)

Fear.

Fear. Google it and you will find many different definitions. It’s a noun. It’s a verb. Pick one that works for you.

I’ve been taught by the world that fear is a bad thing. Fear is something to avoid. When I’m feeling afraid, I tend to ignore it. In all honesty, I usually don’t identify the emotion until it has spilled over into another aspect of my life. In my body fear translates itself into anxiety. It manifests itself into stress. It hides behind the illusion of depression. I feel the anxiety, the stress, and the depression long before I’ve identified my fear. This is my reality.

When a spot on my back wouldn’t go away, I decided it was time to visit a dermatologist. It had been months. I no longer believed it was just a hot spot caused by the rubbing of my sports bra. It wasn’t healing. It was getting bigger. And it was starting to make me nervous. The biopsy results confirmed that it wasn’t a hot spot. It was basal cell carcinoma.

Carcinoma. Google it and you will find one definition. It’s a noun. Cancer. This definition doesn’t work for me.

I’ve been taught by the world that cancer is a bad thing. The logical part of my brain knows that basal cell carcinoma is common. The logical part of my brain knows that basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread to other organs. I know it is not life threatening. I know it’s really not that big of deal so I made my appointment with the plastic surgeon to have it removed. No big deal.

Except the word cancer feels like a really big deal. While the logical part of me knows the only inconvenience of having this spot on my back removed is two weeks of no running or yoga while the area heals, my heart is afraid. Fear has creeped it the space left by the cancer on my body. I’ve seen cancer in action. It’s taken two people I hold close to my heart. My heart has led my brain down the dangerous road of what if. What if this is indication of future health problems? What if this means my body is welcomes cancerous cells? I wish this spot had a different name.

This morning I set out for a sunrise run knowing I wouldn’t get to run tonight (but not knowing it would really be two more weeks). Mile repeats were on my schedule. When the miles got tough, the fear I’ve been feeling took over. The miles were harder than they needed to be. My fear of cancer became suffocating during the run. That’s the thing about fear. It creeps in. It doesn’t care what the source is. It doesn’t care if it belongs or not. It takes advantage of the empty spaces, and it fills them up. The same is true for cancer. It can consume every aspect of your life.

Today when I walked into the plastic surgeon’s office to have the spot removed, I didn’t choose the easy route for removal. I decided to be aggressive. I didn’t want to tip-toe around the spot on my back just to avoid cosmetic scarring. I wanted it all gone. I wanted to rid my body of the fear I was feeling from this cancerous spot.  I didn’t want to wonder if it was coming back. Once my back was numb, I had a few minutes to myself to wait for it all to sink it. My lip trembled from fear and tears that wanted to spill out.  I know logically I have nothing to fear, but fear isn’t logical. Fear is emotional.

While the world has taught me that fear is a bad thing, that it is something to avoid, I no longer agree. Fear is a good thing. It is a good emotion. It is the fear of cancer that allows me to choose the aggressive route of ridding my body of the basal cell carcinoma. It is fear that gives me the courage to stand tall knowing the timid route isn’t right for me. It is fear that propels me forward instead of hiding in the shadows of the unknown.

When fear takes over whether it is logical or not, I have to remember it is a chance for me to rise to the occasion. It is a chance to propel myself forward. It’s an opportunity to grow. Fear is just an indicator that something amazing is waiting for me around the corner.  Fear isn’t something to fear. Fear is something to be embraced.

sunrise

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chadron

Breathing Room, June Edition

Let’s keep it real. June has been a tough month for me emotionally. I’ve felt a little fragile this month. I’ve lost sight of my objective for the year. I think I forgot to breath. The whirlwind of the changes that came have settled nicely into place, and I just forgot to breath. I’ve been a little too guarded, a little too aware of myself, and a little too detached emotionally from the things that I love. Life knocked me out of balance for the month.

This is why setting intentions is good. This is why revisiting these intentions is good. This is why it is important to state out loud exactly what you want. It brings you back. When life sends me spinning or sends me into hiding, my intentions, my words, bring me back.

June has brought with it the end of the school year for Cole and the start of the school journey for Chet. It has been a reminder of how much I value my relationship with Christian. He spent nearly two weeks on the couch thanks to back problems. It has hand delivered some wonderful new friendships, and magnified the friendships I already have in place. I got to watch two of my favorite people say “I do”. I got to run miles with friends who just understand me. I’ve got to see Cole grow into a pretty cool preteen while at the same time Chet has blossomed into quite a kid.

In reality June has been really awesome, I’ve just been emotionally afraid. I’ve been afraid of the vulnerability that comes from allowing myself to be seen. I’ve been afraid of failing on so many levels.

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chadron

My running coach Ryan sent me my training plan last week with a note attached to it. Don’t be afraid to fail. Perhaps that is what this month has shown me most. I have a fear of failing at relationships, at love, at friendships, at mothering, at running, and finding success in my life. I fear failing, but the only thing that is holding me back from my own success story is that of fear. It is always me that gets in my own way.

“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all answers in advance, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s time to face July face-first and with full-speed. I do not need to fear failing.

breathing room june

Sunday Salad: Summer Citrus Quinoa Salad

The best part of Sunday Salads: people share recipes with me all the time. My friend Nicole sent me a recipe via facebook earlier this week, and I knew I had to try it. When I got in the kitchen tonight, I did some modifying and created a dish of my own. We had some berries to eat up, and this seemed like a perfect match.

(Modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Summer Citrus Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

Quinoa, cooked (1 cup uncooked, approximately 4 cups cooked)

Strawberries, chopped

Blueberries

Orange, peeled, separated, diced

Dressing:

Lime Juice, 2 limes

Orange Juice, 1 orange

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. honey

1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa

2. Chop up fruit

3. Make Dressing, whisk together

4. Mix together in bowl

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Today Christian spent his day on the water fishing. He brought home Red Drum which we fried for dinner. The quinoa salad topped with fish and avocado was a perfect match.

For lunch tomorrow I’ll be enjoying the same quinoa salad with grilled chicken (marinated with coconut oil, garlic, and paprika) and goat cheese.

I love summer cooking! Simple. Easy. Delicious.

Enjoy!

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