Living the Layers: Approaching Change

In one week, I am going back to work. After taking my time to find the right team, the right role, and the right environment for both my family and myself, a few weeks ago I accepted a job offer from Eastern Virginia Medical School for the role of Donor Relations Specialist. Everything feels right. 

As any type of change approaches, I can started to feel shaky in my footing. I worry about loosing myself, my passions, and my priorities as something new is introduced to my life. Change brings growing pains. Change brings discomfort.

 “The ego says ‘I shouldn’t have to suffer,’ and that thought makes you suffer more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it.” ~Eckhart Tolle

When I read this quote for the first time, I immediately thought of my running. This is what I try to accomplish every time I attach a race bib to my shirt. Can I transcend the suffering? 

To grow into my potential, I know I need to push through discomfort. I need to stay rooted in myself to find success at the finish line. 

Running and life always mirror each other. This quote doesn’t just apply to racing. It applies to living. 

As my family drove home today from an amazing little getaway, the realization that I’m going back to work in one week hit me. The familiar feeling of nerves and anxiety surfaced. Familiar habits presented themselves. 

My brain works in compartments. It often times feels like my mind and my emotions are a dresser – each dresser drawer careful containing one aspect of my life: mother, wife, employee, runner, athlete, writer, and friend. If more than one dresser drawer is pulled out, the world can feel overwhelming. I panic. I scramble to find order and control. In one week, I’ll be pulling out the employee drawer. 

I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to absorb. A lot of my time and energy will be given to defining this new role in my life. My natural tendency is to neglect the other aspects of my life – to keep the other drawers neatly tucked away until I organize the employee drawer. 

This tendency makes me feel safe. It helps me feel like I’m in control. But it leaves me unfilled. It leaves my life off balance. 

The truth is I need to say yes to suffering so I can transcend it. 

During our car ride home, I messaged back and forth with my good friend Heidi. Our brains are wired the same way, so I know she always understands what I’m trying to say. How do we embrace the suffering? How do we transcend? 

Maybe, just maybe, the trick is to let it get crazy. Maybe, just maybe, I need to embrace the crazy. Maybe, just maybe, the crazy isn’t really crazy at all. The crazy is everything I love. The crazy is what defines me. The crazy is the pieces of living that I love. 

What do I need in my daily life to be the best version of me? With my roots firmly in place what do I need to layer in to help me transcend life. 

my roots and my layers

On a daily basis, I need to commit to my roots. Then I need to add layers.
Right now I need to focus on my roots and living the layers. 

In many ways this is what I (we) have always done. From the beginning of this blog, Heidi and I have tackled 40 day goals together. We have set annual intentions. Living the layers is just another evolution of what has always helped me live my life. 

in Gettysburg

It may feel chaotic. It may hurt. But by pushing through, by embrace the discomfort of change, I’ll arrive at my finish line knowing I transcended this new beginning. Every day I will know I’m striving to be the best version of myself. 

Today, you have the opportunity to transcend from a disempowered mindset of existence to an empowered reality of purpose-driven living. Today is a new day that has been handed to you for shaping. You have the tools, now get out there and create a masterpiece.” ~Steve Maraboli

Race Recap: Allen Stone 5k

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” ~Haruki Murakami


The truth is I’ve been in a bit of a funk the past few weeks – a summer fog. It happens every summer. I wilt. My head and heart struggle. I feel slightly disengaged and slightly overwhelmed. I can’t tell you what causes is it, but I can tell you it’s become way too familiar when the summer heat becomes prevelant. 

The only thing I know to do is to move through it. 

The Allen Stone 5k was the race I was looking forward to all summer. It was supposed to be the finish line after an intense focus on speed for twelve weeks. The training plan I created (with the help of Run Less Run Faster) is still taped to my fridge without one workout completed. 

Life has seasons, and I knew this wasn’t my season to focus on training. I’ve run when I’ve felt like it. I’ve slept in. I’ve taken afternoon naps. I’ve prioritized strength training over running miles. I know this is what I needed. I know this will reward me in the fall. 

But today was race day. I almost didn’t sign up because I knew it wouldn’t be the race I had envisioned. On Thursday I finally signed up. The only way to combat my summer blues is to move through it. I’d feel worse if I didn’t show up. 

“This is not the moment to wilt into the underbrush of your insecurities. You’ve earned the right to grow.” ~Cheryl Strayed

I had one goal for this race: fight. 

After walking in my last 5k, that wasn’t an option. Regardless of pace, I needed to fight for my potential. 

Mile 1: 8:18

This mile felt like it lasted forever. The fog I’ve been feeling followed me on to the race course. My quiet mantra for the rest of the race emerged: fight for it. Don’t give in. Fight to hang on. 

Mile 2: 8:48

Mile 3: 9:02

Final kick: 7:15 pace

The race felt overwhelmingly quiet. I ran by myself for most of the race. While I looked for someone to race, I seemed to be stuck in no mans land the whole race. 

Official finish: 27:02, 4th in my age group


The finish line was neither disappointing or satisfying. While I’m proud of my ability to hang on when I just wasn’t feeling it, I’m more than ready for this fog to move on. I’m ready for my next season. 

It’s only July, and I’m already craving fall temperatures and running. 

I’ll keep plugging away. I’ll keeping pushing through. Because I’m determined to not get stuck in this middle. 

I’ve got my eyes on another 5k before our fall training team kicks off Harbor Lights Half Marathon training on August 16th. One more race to help build a solid foundation for fall. 

Standing on the Shoreline

Shortly after the sun rose, the boys made their way up the stairs to enjoy breakfast with an ocean view. Beach play immediately followed. As our caravan of kids made their way to the crashing waves, one kid was left behind. 


Four is hard. Four is no longer a baby, but it isn’t quite a child. 

In the pack of four kids, Chet is the only one who can’t swim. He is the only one was left on the shoreline watching waves as the other three kids caught waves. 

Four is hard. 

The first three days on the beach, the waves were aggressive. The shore break churned up the sand. Chet wasn’t ready to make his way past the crashing waves, but he wanted to be included in the fun. 

Four is hard. 

Digging holes and chasing crabs kept him happy for a moment, but his eyes kept gazing to the ocean. He wanted to be with the big kids. 

Four is hard. 

Some mornings we made our way back to the beach house. Some mornings we watched the waves from the deck while eating goldfish. 

On the third day, I asked his brother to pause for a moment before swimming out into the ocean. Maybe he could spend a few minutes with Chet jumping waves before he caught waves of his own. This changed the rest of the day on the beach. Chet didn’t feel left out or alone. 

On the forth day When Chet woke up, he said he was ready to go home. He didn’t want to go to the beach. He didn’t want to stand on the shore line for another day. But the current had changed. The waves were gentle. The water was glassy. When he realized he could surf too, his eyes revealed his happiness. It was his chance to be one of the kids. 


As I watched my boys play during our beach vacation, I couldn’t help but wonder. How many times are we all the four year old stuck on the shore? How many times do we need someone to stand beside us because we aren’t ready just yet to catch our own wave? How many times do we miss the perfect wave because the days before left us disappointed? 

If parenting is teaching me one thing over and over again, it is that being stuck in the middle is one of the hardest places to be. 

Four is hard. 

The middle is hard. 

Whether we are stuck on the middle of the mountain or on the shore line, the lesson is the same. To truly live life, you have to embrace the messy middle. Beginning may be the hardest step and the finish line may be the moment of shining success, but the middle holds the magic. The middle takes work. The middle takes commitment. The middle produces results. 

“The middle is messy, but it is also where the magic happens. ~Brene Brown

Parenting these two vastly different and equally awe-inspiring boys of mine is a continuous test of the middle. 

Exploring my life, constantly reaching for my potential, is a continuous test of the middle. 

Four days with my boys and our dear friends in the Outer Banks was the perfect reminder of the lessons my heart needs while living in the middle. This chapter of my life is closing. In 18 days I will enter a new chapter. I will begin a new career. I will ask my family to join me in this journey. 

We will find ourselves in the middle, and we will know that we are living. Some days we may watch the waves crash  along the shore, but some times we get the chance to ride the wave. No matter what, we have to keep showing up while standing besides each other while looking for the perfect conditions. 

Guilt or Gratitude

By now we have all got used to the stories of hate and violence that fill the nightly news and our newsfeed. 

It’s heartbreaking. It’s unsettling. 

As I watched the news last night, I saw the video of an innocent man being shot by a police officer. I had been avoiding this video because I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to feel it. Then I heard the voice of a young girl telling her mom it was going to be okay. Tears openly fell down my face. 

Could it be me? Could I be the woman in the car? Could that be my husband and my child? 

I turned off the news to head to dinner with two of my favorite guys. Taking advantage of a rare night with just Christian and Cole, we had dinner on the water and stayed up until midnight playing monopoly. 

But it could have been me in the car. It could have been my husband and my child. 

It wasn’t me. I’ve experienced hate. I’ve been victimized. But it has never touched my children. How lucky am I that on a 100 degree day I can sit by the water with the breeze keeping me cool while I sip on a summer drink. 


I started to feel guilty. Should I be endulging in such silly things when people are grieving? 

I have a choice to make. I can choose guilt or I can choose gratitude. The magnitude of the tiny moment isn’t lost on me. 

This morning more hate filled the news. Police officers lost their lives. Their wives and their children are grieving. 

My biggest concern right now is can I run faster at my next race. This feels trivial. This feels self endulgant. 

Again I can choose guilt or I can choose gratitude. 

In moments of strength, in moments of grace, I can choose gratitude. I can choose to continue to grow. Running faster at my next race has nothing to do with running faster. It has everything to do with exploring my potential as a human. It is about overcoming pain and pushing through discomfort. It’s about conquering doubt and self-hate. 

It’s the complete opposite of self-endulgant. It’s living. 

One day it could be me. One day tragedy can show up on my door. 

We all need something that roots us to our world. We all need something that shows us our strength and our potential. For me it’s running. It’s raising boys to be compassionate loving men. It’s enjoying dinner as a family. It’s playing monopoly. It’s running my next race. 

Today I’m choosing gratitude over guilt. I’m choosing to feel alive. 

But I’m not settling. I’ve had enough of the hate and the fear and the violence. My heart is searching for a way to ensure everyone can also make the same choice to feel alive. Where can I lend my voice? Where can I give my heart? What can I do to bring about change? This is an answer I can’t seem to find. 

Challenging Why

When you surround yourself with the right people, conversations you need to have find you.

Last Wednesday morning, I dragged Chet out of bed to run an early morning 5k on the boardwalk. It was hot. He is getting heavy. As I made my way to the start line, I dragged my feet a little. As my friend walked beside me, she laughed. Why wouldn’t I go out there and have fun? Why wouldn’t I enjoy pushing Chet in the stroller knowing our days of running together may slowly disappear? Why wouldn’t I make the best of the day and the experience? 

It was the smack I needed to change mental gears for this 5k. Racing wasn’t invited. Running and smiling was encouraged. 

Official time: 33:22, 10:45 pace


Thursday night was a similar story. Our training team was hosting a happy hour run to build excitement for the fall training team. As a pacer, I’d be leading a group of runners. It was hot. The air was thick. A 9 minute mile felt nearly impossible for the summer. 

I gave myself the same peptalk I received the morning before. Why wouldn’t I make the best of the scenario? Why wouldn’t I embrace pacing? Why wouldn’t I enjoy the heat with so many new and familiar faces?

Four steamy miles later, we all celebrated with beers and fish tacos. 

Garmin run time: 36:36, 9:09 pace 


This slight shift in mentality is working for me. When the negative self talk kicks in, I’m no longer trying to silence it. I’m challenging it. 

I read an article recently by Devon Yanko (read it HERE). As she described her journey to be a better runner, I found myself nodding along. Then she wrote something, I can’t stop thinking about. 

“Slowly, gently and almost imperceptible over the month that I have been training in Tahoe, I challenged my habit of self-deprication, self-loathing, chronic self-doubt and hurt. Thoughts would come up and instead of indulging them, I would crush them with a sometime audible, WHY? There was never a good reason. And I found peace and maybe some love for myself, possible for the first time ever.”

During this period of transition in my life, I’ve thought a lot about my why. What motivates me. What inspires me. What makes me feel alive. Why does all of this matter. These thoughts have always brought me to the place I belong. 

While I know I’ve grown tremendously in so many aspects of my life, I’m still waiting for my breakthrough race. I know I’m still sitting on the edge of my potential. 

The only thing holding me back is me. WHY?

I have a few weeks before fall training begins (and I start a new job. More details soon!). These next few weeks will be a celebration. Running and smiling is welcomed. When those pesky moments of self doubt creep in, you may hear me ask why out loud. 

Everything I’ve learned about myself this year needs to shine through my running. I’ve said it so many times, it is time for me to embrace it. These legs have so much to give if I’d quit holding myself back! 

Chasing dreams forward

“I knew I was going to fall short of greatness. So I had to rewrite the story of what greatness was. I had to figure out how to measure success differently. And I also had to figure out what purpose dreams served, if they served them at all. Maybe part of what, you know, was getting in my way was those very dreams. Don’t Let your dreams ruin your life. … The truth that rose up at my humblest, lowest moment was basically that I had to write a book. And that was it. … I had to surrender to the idea of my own mediocrity.”~Cheryl Strayed 

I listened to Cheryl Strayed give a talk on how her dreams could have ruined her life. Her words etched themselves into my heart. 

This isn’t the first time it has happened. Three years ago I read a collection of letters from her advice column, and her words have never left me. Lately I’ve been thinking about them a lot. 

All those what-ifs, all those unfulfilled dreams, all those aspirations from my youth, where do they go when they are left hanging in space. 

“I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there…grateful for the smallest things.” ~Cheryl Strayed

The last five months have been some of the most restorative months of my life. After years of chasing a dream I held so close to my heart and choosing to let it go, I’ve come face to face with those what-ifs, those dreams and those aspirations. 

I’ve run a marathon through my hometown. I sat in a room full of people who are single handledly making a global impact on healthcare at a conference down the street from the hospital I was born. I flew to Peru. I watch hundreds of lives change on an operating table. I visited sacred temples. I trusted strangers to guide me down unmarked trails. I lived the dream I wished I had always chased when I was twenty one. 

And then I trusted myself. I trusted my heart. I trusted my thirty six years of living. My miracles will never be found by chasing a dream backwards. I let it all go. 

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~Cheryl Strayed

Life has a way of ebbing and flowing. Everything we need finds us when the cycle is right. It also leaves when it no longer serves our purpose. 

Today I’m standing on my shore line confident that it belongs to me and confident that it is mine to live. The tide is bringing me everything I need right now. 

I’m not chasing the dreams that are behind me. 

I’m chasing the dreams that are in front of me. 

I’m letting the dreams come to me. 

I’m surrendering to this amazing life I live. 

I’m here on my shoreline grateful for it all. 

(Watch Cheryl Strayed’s talk HERE)

Standing up. 

I’ve been thinking a lot what it means to stand up. As an adjective it can have various definitions. The act of standing up is viewed as a courageous and loyal act, but sometimes simply standing takes courage too. 

Sunday we joined a group of friends at a local gem that locals and tourists alike should become familiar with. Surf and Adventure company was taking our group of slightly competitive and overly comical friends on a stand up paddleboard trip. 

As we lined up to enter the water, I felt a rush of unexpected nerves. Maybe it was because everyone in front of me effortlessly stood on their boards. Maybe it was because I was one of the last ones to enter the water leaving me feeling a need to catch up. Maybe it was because in a group of incredibly talented runners, I felt like I belonged in the back of the pack. Maybe it was left over emotion from the week of standing up for myself in a really big way. 

I tried to be kind to myself. Progress is a process. It’s not perfection. 

My nerves, the need to catch up, and an all to familiar internal script that I’m just not quite good enough took over. I couldn’t stand up. 

I’ll stand up when I catch up. 

I’ll stand up when we turn the corner. 

I’ll stand up when my legs stop shaking. 

Three and half windy miles later we reached our destination, and I was still sitting. I never found my legs. 


After an amazing day on the water with friends, I came home to a television filled with news of heartache. You all have heard the story by now.  Forty nine people killed. More than fifty injured. 

My heart is having a hard time processing it all. My head is looking for a solution. 

A mother who lost her son said anger is easy. I can feel the anger. It’s the sadness that is hard. I can’t stop thinking about this statement. We are all quick to blame, define, and label, but are we allowing ourselves to feel. Are we standing with our sadness? 

What does it look like to stand up for those that lost their lives? What does it look like to stand up and say no more? 

Right now I feel like I’m still sitting on my board. I feel like I’m waiting to catch up, for our country to turn a corner, and for the hatred to stop. 

When I reached our destination on Sunday afternoon, I wished I had tried. I wished I would have gave myself chance to stand. Even if I fell into the water or behind my friends, I wish I would have found my footing. 

I don’t want another mass shooting to happen in this country while I wish I had done something to make our country better. I don’t want to forget about this next week. I don’t to have this news story replaced by another injustice when we live in a land of freedom. Last week we stood up for a girl who was raped. This week we are standing up for people who were murdered. 

We may not all agree on what needs to come next, but I think we can all agree that this is not okay. Something has to change. We need to stop sitting. We need to stand up. We need to listen. We need to recognize that this country is a blend of beautiful people and best intentions. 

Today I showed up to vote in Virginia’s republican House of Representatives primary. As of 9pm, only 40,000 people showed up to vote. There are approximately 650,000 people who live in the second district. 

I may have sat on my board on Sunday, but I stood up last week. I stood up at my race on Saturday. I showed up to vote today. 

Progress is process. It’s not perfection. 

Our country will never see change if we don’t take part in the process. It will never be perfect, but we need to progress. 

We need to stand up. What we are doing today is failing us all. It failed a young woman who was raped. It failed hundreds immediately impacted in Orlando. We are failing each other. 

We need to stand up for everyone who has been hurt by our countries inability to stand together. While there are many different opinions on what needs to happen next, I think we can all agree we are tired of sitting down. 

I’m still not sure how I’ll find my footing, but I will not show up at our next destination wishing I had tried to stand up. 

Living Unbroken 

When you feel strong, you become strong. 

I had no idea I needed this. I had no idea I still needed to heal. I didn’t know my heart still hurt. I didn’t know I still saw doubt in every familiar face. I didn’t recognize how much I was guarding my heart. I didn’t know I still so desperately needed someone to say I believe you

My intention for this year of life was to prove to myself that I am strong. I lined up at the start line of the Shamrock Half Marathon with a simple statement on the back of my race bib: Permission to be Unbreakable. As race day approached, I wrote these words on this blog:

2016 is different. 2016 is the year I write my own story. This blank slate is giving me the opportunity to launch myself down whatever path I choose. There is no heartache to overcome. There is nothing to heal, fix or piece together. I am whole. 

I believed it with my whole heart. 

Except. 

Except there was still a crack. There was still doubt. There was still a shadow clinging to everything I did. I still didn’t believe that I was unbreakable. I still didn’t believe that I was strong. I had been broken. I had been raped. How I viewed myself, how I spoke to myself, and how I believed in myself had been rewired. I was wired with doubt. 

That doesn’t go away without awareness. This week I’ve become aware. 

A few months ago, I was lifting weights. The owner of Evofit looked at me. She said You don’t have an aggressive bone in you body, do you? It was very much a truthful observation. Her words stuck with me. They’ve motivated me. This week I’ve become aware of why. 

I still didn’t believe I was allowed to fight for myself. 

I still didn’t believe I was allowed to be strong. 

Every time I’ve hit publish on a piece of my story this week, I’ve silenced those beliefs. Every time you’ve read my words, you’ve help me rewire my approach to myself. 

This week has been a lot. I’ve cried. I’ve felt triumphant. I’ve felt empowered. I’ve cried. I’ve cried more. I’ve cried tears for your stories, and I’ve cried tears of release for my story. 

All week I’ve thought to myself when you’re strong you become strong. 

Before strength can ever manifest itself on the outside, I needed to believe it on the inside. I needed to truly believe it. This week I have found my strength. I’ve found it emotionally. I’ve found it physically. 

I didn’t need to believe that I was whole. I’ve always believed that about myself. I needed to believe that I wasn’t broken. 

Healing is something that continuously happens over a lifetime. Being aware of my internal strength will carry me through the process. I will always look back at this week every time I need a reminder. 

My quest for strength also continues. It’s time to live like I’m unbreakable. Finding my strength is now about potential. What can I achieve now that I believe I won’t break? 

It’s time to find out. 

A 70lb PR on Tuesday

A Summer Promise

I’m guilty of it. I’m guilting of rearranging family life to accommodate a baby. There are families that seem to effortless transition into becoming parents and adding kids to their pack. I was not one of them. Chet stunned me in many ways. While I didn’t completely abandon everything, I did quit saying yes to scenarios I used to love because incorporating a baby overwhelmed me. Four years later No has become a reflex again. 

This summer I’m making a conscious effort to saying Yes to the things we love. This weekend was the first of many YESs this summer. When my parents asked us if we wanted to join them to listen to a friend and local musician play music, we said Yes. When friends invited us to a join them in a family beach day, we said Yes. 

What if Chet gets tired and cranky?

What if Chet is naughty?

What if Chet won’t leave my lap? 

I should know better by now. My adventurous and curious little guy thrives on being on the go. He never stops moving or talking. 

On Friday night I played glow stick sword battles with Chet while Cole stood front and center absorbing the energy of the band. He talked to the saxophone player about learning and growth. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Sound. When our wedding song started playing, I got to dance with my husband (for a minute before both boys crashed the party). 

sunset at the Baja

On Saturday our entire family enjoyed an entire day in the sunshine on the beach. We stayed all day splashing in the waves and building sand castles. 

This summer I am going back to saying Yes to things that give me butterflies. 

Yes to more family beach days 

Yes to concerts on the beach

Yes to late night cruiser rides 

Yes to cookouts 

It’s no longer baby Chet that paralysis me from enjoying these summer moments (because he’s not a baby anymore). It’s the stress I assume I will feel if things don’t go according to plan. I’m sure there will be moments I’ll regret venturing out, but I’ll regret wasting away another summer even more. 

“The world is stuck because of the word ‘no’.” ~Dada Bhagwan

It’s time to revisit Saying Yes again. After all, it is one of the main reasons I started this blog. It’s no coincendenec that I always end up back here. Saying Yes has now become my reset button. When life and seasons change, bringing myself back to a place of Yes and possibility is how I make sure my wheels keep moving. 

(Maybe 40 day goals need to make a comeback too.)