Dear children

Dear Children of Divorce,

I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through this. I’m sorry for every grown-up that has told you it isn’t your fault and expected that to make you feel all better. It isn’t your fault, but I know that doesn’t help you navigate the pain that you’re feeling. I’m sorry this hurts so much- there’s no rhyme or reason to explain why you have to go through this and that really sucks. I’m sorry you had to see your parents fight and hear them yelling things at each other that aren’t very nice. I’m sorry for the moments you spent huddled, comforting your siblings and hoping it was going to be over soon. I am truly deeply sorry for every tear that you cried because your home had become a war zone. I’m sorry for every moment that you lived in fear, wondering what was going to happen next and if things would ever be ok again. I’m sorry for the times when you thought it was getting better, only to end another night trying to sleep over the screams from the other end of the house. I’m sorry for every time your mom said anything negative about your dad and I’m sorry for every time your dad said something not nice about your mom. I’m sorry your parents couldn’t work it out and give you a happy, healthy home to grow up in and be proud of and never have to worry about a thing. Life is kind of icky like that and I’m sorry this had to be a part of your life.

I’m sorry a million times over but I also want you to know that you are understood. I see your pain, I see every tear that you’ve cried for yourself, your brother, your sister and your parents. I see the times that you’ve wanted to run away or wanted to harm yourself because you couldn’t take the pain any more. I see how much you worry about your parents and try to pretend that you’re just fine. You don’t have to be fine. Just like the times that you’ve seen your mom and dad fall apart and cry and sob or be angry and hit something, you deserve to have those moments to release your emotions too. No one can tell you how to get through this, but there are always people who want to help you, who love you very much. So, let it go- scream, cry, hit your pillow, see a therapist, journal, paint, dance, run, laugh- do whatever you need to do to find some stable emotions to keep moving forward in life. You deserve this, let it go whenever and however you need to.

I hope as time passes things get better- I know they will. It might take some time before that dull ache in your throat or chest starts to go away. It might be years before you see and understand the strength it took for your parents to make that awful decision to split up the family, but if you seek to understand, someday you will.  I hope you see strength and character in each of your parents and that you let the idea of blame just fade away. I hope you are able to forgive the grown-ups that caused you pain through this divorce. I hope your parents and the people around you are able to show you one day what a healthy relationship looks like and that you can strive to create that in your own life. I hope you never give up on being happy and healthy and that you keep talking about your feelings.

You are loved, you are so loved. You’re going to get through this. Please know that we hear you, we see you and you are never alone.

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3 pairs of socks, 3 bandanas, 2 pairs of shoes and a bajillion popsicles, that is what a nine hour endurance race is made of. When I signed up for the Schuetzen Nein I thought it would be a new, exciting race adventure, plus the price was right! I knew it was a looped course but in my excitement, I don’t guess I read the course description, accurately. It was an adventure alright!

The weeks before the race I revisited the course description and boy oh boy, it sounded more challenging than just running for nine hours. I have never done a timed race before but I did take 9:30 hours on my first 50k so I was a little familiar with spending 9 hours on my feet in the woods. This race was HARD! But it went way better than that 50k. Timed races are often looped courses, and this was no exception, however, this loop was shorter than I expected it to be. The course is less than a mile, .85 miles to be exact and the course description is hilly. The description also mentions a few stairs, which is the understatement of the year. A few stairs, A FEW! No, this course has all the stairs! But I digress. Reading race reviews tells me I am in for quite a challenge with this course. I am starting to get a little nervous, not about the time but about the elevation gain. Am I trained enough, can I handle this race? It didn’t help that the RD kept posting memes about how hot is was going to be and comparing the way the Schuetzen holds in heat to “a hellish inferno”.

 

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Photo credit from Shuetzen Nein Facebook page

Race day dawns with a lot of nerves a few minutes before my alarm goes off. The sun was blazing in from our east facing windows. My bestie Beth and I have rented an apartment for the weekend, so we have all the amenities we need. I try to choke down my gluten free waffles and bacon but I forgot syrup and can’t seem to choke the waffles down without it. I have packed everything I might want in my race bag and cooler. We follow our GPS to the start finish line and glance around at everyone else setting up their “camps”. It is like a dozen mini aid stations right here at the start/finish.  This was very different from anything I have done before.

Beth was awesome and helped me set up our tent, chairs and she even brought rugs, so we were fancy! I got my bib and had a quick chat with the RD, who has a wicked sense of humor and seemed very nice. It was clear a lot of the runners were local and that made me more nervous for some reason. Very quickly it was time for the prerace meeting. As I am typing this I have no idea what he talked about at the meeting, probably stay cool, when we would switch directions…I don’t remember. A quick pre race selfie and it was time to go!!! Coleen had helped me map out a plan for the day so I knew I was going to take the first loop slowly, also it was like a million degrees.

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I don’t remember a lot about the first loop except being surprised by how many stairs the race actually had. I was supposed to try to avoid stopping a lot in the first two hours, so Beth was going for a run of her own so as not to tempt me. I know I got warm and quickly decided I didn’t want to wear my shirt or carry a handheld. My tent was right at the check in point for each loop, so I checked in and then dropped my shirt and handheld and headed back out. Loop two I was still hot and decided it was time for a cold, wet bandanna so I grabbed that and quickly headed back out again. After that loop it was fresh ice in the bandanna every loop or two. It was HUMID as hell and oh so hot but in the trees at least it was shady. The trails were lined with fields of beautiful nettles on every side (can you read my sarcasm?).

A con of having such short loops is that you are never really alone for long in the woods, which isn’t a huge problem unless you need to pee and you are surrounded by nettles and can’t hike out off of the trail much. Timing bathroom breaks was a challenge and sometimes involved hiding behind a bench and getting caught. Oops.

My goal was to power hike the uphill’s and run the downs and the flats and it was going fairly well. I also had to manage the heat and I don’t do heat when running. I’m #teamwinter all the way! The iced bandanna is the best idea ever and I ate a lot of melty Popsicles, had a little Gatorade but mostly just drank coke, la croix and water to stay hydrated.

The race director was awesome, calling out names at every turn around to let you know he marked your lap and just generally being encouraging. The informational email said that the aid station wouldn’t be a full smorgasboard like most trail races but I thought it was very well stocked! I brought a ton of food for myself but still partook of their popsicles and pickles. They served lunch and beer at noon and there were pastries, soda, most of the things you want in an aid station. They also had three coolers, two with ice to fill hats or put cooling rags in and one with clean ice to ingest. This was the best thing ever and I was so happy to have clean ice! Of course Beth and her parents kept my cooler stocked for me.

Around the half way mark Beth came back from lunch and brought me the best damn green apple slush I have ever had, hands down! This slush was a life changer and so delicious on a hot day. I hadn’t packed my own Popsicles because I normally don’t care for them but they hit the spot during the race. I stopped just about every loop for a little something at my aid station. I ate consistently, chips, more chips, pickles, Popsicles, avocado, strawberries, oranges and potatoes.

The first two hours were the worst of the day for me. At 1.5 I really just wanted to quit. I was frustrated with the hills, tired, hungry and just over it mentally. I texted Coleen and she told me this was where I had to push through the mental part and just make it happen. She also suggested an avocado because I was pretty sure I hadn’t had enough calories but nerves that morning had made it hard for me to get them down. It was time for to walk an entire loop according to our plan so I took my avocado and went for a walk. It made me chuckle a little bit that I was taking my snack on a walk through the woods. It was interesting too that as tired as I was and as much as I thought I hated it when I was supposed to walk the whole loop I kept thinking, I should just run this stretch, this part is runnable.

At on point during the first half I did tell Beth I wanted to sit down and stay and she kicked me back out on the course. She was the perfect crew. Every lap she had a fresh iced bandanna waiting for me, she fed me, she encouraged me and she kept texting Coleen to keep her in the loop. This race just kicked my ass, mentally. It was hot and hard and I was so tired. The second half did go better. I made the mistake once of trying to do two loops without stopping but that made me nauseous and I decided not to do that again.

I spent the entire day soaked from ice melting on me. After about 4.5 hours I decided to change socks so I could have dry feet for at least a little while. Beth helped me getting out my socks, toweling my feet off and prepping my snack for the next loop while I changed. Running counter clockwise felt hard until we switched directions to go clockwise. Clockwise was great for most of the trail but dammit if you didn’t have to climb a huge set of pea gravel stairs after a long downhill run. Towards hour 6 I knew we would be switching directions and I just didn’t want to come back up that damn hill again so I decided it was a good time for a shoe change and new socks again. My feet were so pruney!

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After seven hours you were allowed crew pace you. Coleen and I had agreed that I didn’t need crew but it was time for a walk again and so Beth went out with me to keep me company. She let me set the pace and we hiked a loop. The next loop her dad went out with me and let me set the pace again, we ran a pretty decent loop. They took turns keeping me company on the rest of my loops, running up until the last loop when Beth and I went for a victory loop walk. I was pretty sick to my stomach and we knew I could only get one more loop in, so we decided to hike and enjoy it. I finished with 30 laps and went up to the RD and said, “Thanks for putting on an awesome race. I fucking hated it but it was awesome!”

Recap of the course, a lot of stairs that you climb up and down. Nettles line the course, once when I was climbing over a log (there were 3 to get over) I slipped and discovered why it is nicknamed fire weed. As you descended onto the trail the humidity increased and slapped you in the face! The downhills were a lot of fun! The absolute worst part of the course is the hills in full sun to get back to your camp! I hated every step of that hill, every single lap!

This race was put on very well! I would definitely recommend it to anyone but encourage a lot of hill training! If you finish a 50k you get a spanker (a paddle)! Plus all the money goes to support this cool little park! Check them out! Schuetzen Nein!

Love

Loving yourself is hard. In my opinion it is one of the hardest things to do. It is easy to love our kiddos, our spouses, our friends and family but it can be so challenging to really, truly love our self. Not like our self, but love who we are, right now. I don’t think I can say that I have always loved myself but this year I do. I am turning 40 this year and not only am I not bummed about it, I am downright excited. EXCITED! In the past I have struggled to feel like I am good enough. Good enough for what you say? Am I a good enough wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, earth loving recycler (yes, I feel like a failure if I throw one damn thing away).

When we are children we are in school and if you are a good student than you get good grades and praise from teachers and parents. That praise comes in an almost constant stream. I was a great student. I was just plain good at and loved school and that meant it was easy to feel good about myself when there was so much positive feedback.

After school you get a j-o-b.  If you are good at your job then you will get raises, prime shifts and promotions. Put in the work and you will get positive reinforcement. You guys, I was decent at this too. That means my self esteem wasn’t terrible.

Fast forward a few years. I have a baby and leave the workforce to stay home with her. Being a mom is a thankless job, amiright? Being a parent is a thankless job. Babies don’t thank you for staying up all night with them, usually they just fuss all day as well, they don’t thank you for the diaper change, the money you spend, the time you spend, and it doesn’t get any better as they get older. I have teens now and boy are they ungrateful, and I don’t mean to make my kids sound bad, they aren’t, all I am saying is being a momma is not full of positive reinforcement.

I love being a mom but have floundered a bit since having babies. My three kiddos shook my confidence like nothing ever has before. Am I doing it right? Did I hold them enough, am I too hard on them, too easy, am I feeding them too much junk, teaching them balance, teaching them what is important? Did I mention that I am a perfectionist? Well I am. I want to do this life thing perfectly and that is just not reality. Also, the mommy scene messed with my head. I feel like I am too crunchy for the mainstream mom’s and not crunchy enough for the crunchy moms. I have heard about mommy wars, but I haven’t experienced that personally. I didn’t need to experience it to feel like shit. I did it to myself with all the pressure I put on myself to be perfect at everything. The mom’s I know have not made me feel judged, I made me feel judged. I was judging myself off of what other moms were doing. Girl, you can never win playing that game. You just can’t. And society! Society has this cruel joke going that women can do it all. Now I think women are badass, but I don’t think anyone can do everything. You must choose your priorities and let some shit go. Just let it go. And know that things will change, too. Today you may be letting housework go but next month or year it may be that you are letting cooking at home go. Seasons of life baby, seasons of life.

But things are different now. I have never been more comfortable in my skin than I am right now. I am completely ok with letting housework slide, so I can go run and I am completely ok with not being the best runner I know. I just do my best and to hell with the rest. How did I get here you ask? It took years of self-study and a lot of hard work. I have done therapy, energy work, I read a ton about the subjects that interest me and all that led me to realize I just need to be easier on myself. I also admitted that I was depressed. That was hard because for years I have been angry, but I never equated that with depression. I don’t get sad, I get mad and admitting that finally pushed me to talk to my dr and go the antidepressant route. I know this isn’t the road for everyone and that is ok, get help in whatever form feels right to you but for me it has been great! I feel so much more level and able to work on what I want to work on without the anger looming over everything like a dark cloud. I have also learned to set boundaries. Man is that hard, but it is necessary. You must set boundaries with everyone in your life so that you are not drowning but especially with those people that don’t make your life better. If there are toxic people in your life or people that don’t like you let that shit, go! You can’t make someone like you and they are entitled to their opinion. But you, you are absolutely entitled to your opinion too and allowed to only surround yourself with people that enjoy you for who you are. So, go set those boundaries. Start small. Don’t go trying to change your entire life in one day, it will fail, and you will feel bad about it. Pick one thing to say no to. I started by saying no to the PTA. I felt like I should be involved, and my kids would be happier if I was involved but I just don’t have time and it was so stressful. So, I started saying no to the PTA. It grew from there.

It has taken years but now I am ok with the messy house because I use that time to go run, which I love. I am ok if the kids are eating a few frozen meals, because while healthy eating is a passion of mine I hate cooking! I hate it! So I don’t do it every single day. I love my kids but am not a sit down and play with toys kind of mom. I am the let’s play a board game or go for a bike ride mom, and that is ok. I do the things I do well and leave the rest alone.

So set some boundaries, say yes to things you love and be at peace with what you can’t change. It will all be OK in the end. You are beautiful, strong and amazing. Revel in it. Soak it all in, and believe that your are nothing short of perfect!

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photo credit Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life

 

Wine Trip Shenanigans and Mother’s Day Love

Let me just start off by saying that I am NOT a morning person. As much as I want to be, it’s just not an integral part of who I am at this point in my life. People can change for sure but… Anywho. One thing that IS going to get me out of bed early on a Saturday morning is the promise of quality time with my best friend and endless amounts of wine. Every woman deserves to get away from the kids and the house and just indulge in grown up time with their bff and a bottle or two of delicious, sweet red wine. Or white wine, no one is here to judge.

So, it is due to this promise of wine and friendship that I found myself getting up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning to catch the train to Hermann, Missouri with a bunch of ladies who were ready to create some memories.IMG_34191

Rainey and I arrived a few minutes early and when the train pulled up we quickly climbed aboard and found our spot on the rowdy car full of (mostly) women who were headed for a day away! We had devoured delicious peanut butter flax seed pancakes on the ride to the train so for the first little while we just sipped our waters and caught up on the last few weeks of craziness that is our lives. Shortly before we arrived at our destination we each snagged a delicious bagel and cream cheese and I figured I’d start the day off right with a Corona.

Once we arrived in Hermann it was a whirl of wine and conversation! We started by taking the trolley to the Adam Puchta winery and quickly found our favorites to be The Cat’s Meow and Adam’s Choice- both sweet reds.  One of the cute little barns there was where we did the tasting, another held a gift shope and a very small one was where you ordered wine in a variety of ways including a slushy! Before leaving we slurped through a wine slushy and enjoyed people watching. There were all kinds of unique individuals visiting the winery and enjoying the outdoor picnic area. Groups of ladies, sweet romantic couples, groups of friends gathered around wine and snacks and just enjoying themselves. We had some confusion over the trolley arriving at a certain time but before long we hopped back on the trolley and danced and bumped our way to the next winery where food and more wine was waiting!IMG_34051

Stonehill Winery had a beautiful view of the vines and the town. Inside was beautiful as well with many bottles of wine to choose from and peaceful seating areas to gather in. After a bit of a fiasco over our lunch reservations, we eventually sat down to a feast of German foods, including a delicious brie cheese with a spicy raspberry sauce and of course… wine! Rainey and I split a bottle of the seasonal blackberry wine that has now become a staple in my house! We have a bit of a caffeine addiction so we also ordered coffee and as it’s important to stay hydrated, we put away a few glasses of water as well. I guess you could say we have a drinking problem. After stuffing ourselves we called for another trolley and occupied ourselves by taking silly pictures in front of the Stonehill Winery sign.IMG_20180508_181551_163

The trolley took us back near the train station and since you can never have too much coffee, Rainey and I grabbed hands and ran off to the local coffee shop to indulge. I found the perfect gift to bring home to my man at the coffee shop and we both ordered delicious iced latte’s and snapped a few more pictures.20180421_163736

We still had some time before the train would be arriving so we visited one last Winery. Hermanoff was very traditional inside and even had a cellar that you can tour with the perfect arched doorway for a yoga pose. We didn’t have much time to spend here so we did a quick tasting and purchased our favorite bottle for the train. We knew we would need snacks on the way back too so we picked up some gluten free pretzels and after a few angry looks from the cashier who thought Rainey had given her a $10 instead of a $20, we started heading for the train station.IMG_20180422_131515_780

More people watching commenced and we watched as a bachelorette party swaggered up to await the train. One of the women in their party appeared to have consumed a bit too much wine and was having some trouble keeping her feet under her. We silently hoped we wouldn’t end up too close to her on the train and before we knew it we found ourselves all aboard and headed back towards home.20180421_172808

Because we’re rebels, we accidentally stole someone’s seat on the train. Who knew the sticker above the seat meant it was reserved? So, we ended up in the front of one of the cars with our very own outlet to charge our phones and all the leg room.

The trip back was so much fun! We finished our bottle of wine while jamming to music on Rainey’s phone and greeting the random people who would enter the train car right in front of us. We were about an hour from home and our wine was gone so we ended the night with some whiskey, more conversation and a lot of laughs!

The train arrived a few minutes before our ride so we sat on the steps, enjoying the cool evening air and discussing where dinner was going to come from. Once Reed picked us up, we decided on Five Guys and finished our night with burger boats and some Cajun fries. You can bet, we slept great that night with our bellies full of wine and burgers!

Overall, we had a great time. Rainey and I can have fun just about anywhere and we always come back with great stories. It’s taken us a while in our lives to realize, but making sure we take time for ourselves, as women, and mothers and find new adventures to have is really important.20180421_160846

This weekend is Mother’s Day weekend and I’m sure most of us found ourselves celebrating in a variety of ways. I know for some of you, this weekend was challenging and maybe you didn’t get all of the love and spoiling that you deserve. Some of you were so celebrated that you can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow and get back to a routine! Wherever you’re at on the Mother’s Day celebration scale, rest assured that you are beautiful, unique and deserving of love and gratitude. Being a mom is the most challenging thing that you will ever do. No buts. Yes, it’s rewarding and beautiful and these little people are the most important things in our lives. You know what else is important though? You. You are important. You with your unwashed hair and yesterday’s make up. You with your perfectly done nails and your Xanax. You who sometimes cry yourself to sleep and you who ran 10 miles yesterday because you’re a badass. You, because you are woman, you are fantastic and powerful and no one can do what you can do. You, who can look into the eyes of your child and know exactly what they need and you who can look into those same eyes and not have a freaking clue what to say besides “I love you.” You who didn’t intentionally sign up for this mommy job and you who have been planning your family since you were a little girl. You who spend your every waking moment picking up after your kids and you who just finished your degree. You are so beautiful. You are so real and so present. You who aren’t sure if you can face another day, and you looking forward to the next few weeks of fun activities. You who just got an extra juicy toddler kiss and you who just heard your teenager scream hateful words in your direction. You are healing. You are already doing your best and that is enough. You who have hips so big that jeans are impossible to buy and you who are an A- cup and tired of hearing people say you’re skinny. You with curves, you with high intelligence, you who can cook like a gourmet chef, you who run and you who crochet, you with passion and dreams and a love for life. You who are struggling to find meaning and you who turn to a substance just to escape your reality. You matter, you are alive and you have purpose. Please, let me point out all of the beautiful aspects of you. Let me pour value into that beating heart of yours. Let me hold your face in my hands, look into your eyes and tell you that you are strong and capable and so very, very important. Happy Mother’s Day to you who have given birth and to every woman who has taken even a minute of her life to nurture another living thing. You are special. You are Loved. Thank you for being you!

Peace, Love and VW’s

I have always wanted a vintage Volkswagen Beetle. Always. My husband made it happen for me a few years ago when he purchased me a 1973 Beetle. It didn’t run when we towed it home and it took quite awhile but at last it’s alive!! I don’t drive it everyday but anyone that owns an old car like that knows that when you do it is always an adventure.

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Last week the hubs needed the car and asked me to drive the Bug. When he did he said, and I quote, “it needs gas before it goes anywhere”. I was running late as usual and didn’t have time to stop and get gas, so he agreed to take the Bug and I took the family car. I assumed that meant he put gas in it, I was wrong, but I wouldn’t find that out until later.

This week I decided to drive the Bug to the girl scouts meeting. It was a beautiful spring day and the Bug has a sunroof. My smallest and I jumped in and tooled down the road to the meeting. I notice the car still needs gas and I need to pick up a prescription, so I drop her off and decide to run to the store. It won’t start back up. I call my hubs and angrily ask if he put gas in it. “No, but it should be fine, it is probably the choke.” He precedes to tell me how to adjust it and try to start the car by myself. It involves wedging a screwdriver in the flap and giving it a go. It starts up, so I remove the screwdriver, put the top back on the carburetor and take off. I pull in the parking lot at the store and it runs out of gas. I can see the gas station, but it is too far to push the car, so I get out and push it, by myself, into a parking spot. Two women stop and ask if I need help and I thank them and let them know this is as far as I am going. I walk over to the gas station and ask if they sell gas cans. They don’t but have one that I can borrow. When I try to fill the gas can up the machine won’t take my bank card, what the hell? I never carry cash but today is the exception and I have exactly $1 in my wallet. I pay for $1 in gas, put it in the gas can and walk back to my car.

Another cute little thing about my bug, the gas cap locks. It has a key and you must lock and unlock it. I try the key and it turns but I cannot get the damn gas cap off. I try and try but nothing. I call Dave and ask if there is some trick to it. I am super frustrated by this time and he just keeps saying, “you just turn the key”. I am aware of how locks work. Finally, I get the damn thing unlocked, put my dollars’ worth of gas in and hallelujah it starts! I drive to the gas station, return the gas can and pay inside so they can deal with the stupid bank card issue. I finally have the car running and grab my prescription. I figured I would be gone maybe 15 minutes but by this time I have missed the entire hour of girl scouts, I am sweaty and dirty. God, I love this car.

Double Chubb race report

 

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I had a tough time falling asleep the night before my race, but I wasn’t super worried. I have been told that two nights before the race is when it is important to get a good night’s rest and I comforted myself with that. I am not sure if it was nerves or just nervous energy keeping me up, but I read, meditated and still I laid there awake. When sleep did finally come I slept well, except getting up to go to the bathroom once. When my alarm went off at 5:45 am it still felt really early. I pulled myself out of bed, dressed and went upstairs to eat. Thursday, I spent all day packing and cooking for race day so I had breakfast all ready to be reheated. Nerves finally set in that morning and I had to force myself to eat my gluten free pancake and scrambled eggs. Everything was going well until I filled my hydration pack with water and it just ran back out of the place where the hose connects. I just looked at it…I didn’t pack a spare, what the hell was I going to do!? I texted my coach, Coleen, and she said no worries she would try to track down a handheld water bottle for me from someone she knew at the race but worst case I could just carry a regular water bottle. I knew it would be fine but it didn’t help my nerves! I finished breakfast and left a little early, hoping to find an open Walmart so that I could buy a new water reservoir. As luck would have it there was a Walmart on my way to the race! They didn’t have a regular bladder, just a huge one with cooling gel. When you are wearing it all day you do not want the extra weight and it was twice the price. Finally I just bought a whole backpack setup. It was cheaper and I took the bladder out of it.  I grabbed what I needed and headed for the start line! The new bladder didn’t really fit in my pack well, but I didn’t care, anything had to be better than carrying a handheld for 30 miles! I get pissed off at my handheld after 6 miles, there was no way I would have a good day with it.

I filled the new bladder, dropped my bag at the turnaround aid station and ate another gluten free pancake with peanut butter on it. I felt as ready as I was going to get so I lined up at the start with a few other ladies waiting in line for the bathroom and made small talk. The start line had a digital countdown going and we could tell from the length of the line and the timer we weren’t going to make it to the bathroom before the gun went off. I wasn’t too concerned since I am pretty sure I only felt like I had to go from nerves. Anyone else like that? Nervous bladder? Anyone?

I was nervous for this race and the time goals Coleen and I set made me a little light headed, but I felt really trained and ready. Not being from the area I had never been on the trails before, so I was excited to see what it had in store for us. Friday night it had stormed its ass off so people were warning me that it might be really sloppy out there. I thought to myself, sloppy would suck but I survived two loops at Winter Wyco this year, I can handle it.

IMG_3307The starting horn blew, and we were off. It started on pavement and I took off running with everyone else. Immediately we began to climb and I had to remind myself, “don’t go out like an asshole!” and slow to a hike. The first part of the race is a decent climb uphill so I did a lot of hiking. Our plan for me was to power hike all the uphills in the first half and run  the downhills and the flats. The course is kind of like a bowl, you go up then drop down to a flatter section before climbing back out and once we topped that big hill I had hella fun running back down it. I love a technical downhill! I bombed down the rocky hill, crossed a little creek into an open field and found aid station number 1. I had snacked on a kind bar during the first few miles but Coleen wants me to eat at every aid station no matter how recently I snacked so I got potatoes and oranges and took off again. The next section reminded me so much of Shrek’s swamp, I kept shouting, “What are you doing in my swamp?” in my best Shrek voice. No one found me funny except me, but hey I am the one that matters right? We were running sandy river trails along the Meramec river. It was green, wet, muddy in some places and flat. I think I definitely ran too fast, but I just felt really good.

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I chuckled to myself as I watched people try to go around the puddles on the trail in this section. It was wet everywhere and there was no way to keep your feet dry. I just ran right down the middle in the mud and water. This proved to be the best line later when we got to our first water crossing. Some runners were stopping trying to figure out how to jump a 7-foot-wide creek. It isn’t happening people, you will be wet, just go through it! Thank God for wool socks! They were wet from mile 4 on but my feet were never cold. They just work so damn well. I hit the fire road feeling good!

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Photo credit Mile 90 Photography

It was at this point that I began to have some issues with my menstrual cup. If you don’t want to read about period issues, then I will give you a minute to skip ahead to the next paragraph…. Ok, for those of you that stayed with me, the damn thing started sliding out! I swear it felt like the damn thing was at my knees. I knew there was a port a john at the turn around aid station, so I just kept running. Coming into the aid station at mile 7ish there was a lot of two-way traffic on a single track, so it slowed me down. I got into the aid station, ate then hit the bathroom. I was hoping the issue was that it was full, which can make it slide out. The bathroom was so nasty there was no way I was going to sit down in there, so I had to take out the cup, which wasn’t full, empty it and put it back in standing back up. That isn’t the best method and I knew immediately upon leaving that it wasn’t right still. I’m going to get real honest here and tell you I think the reason it wasn’t fitting correctly is because I was incredibly constipated. My asthma had been super flared up over the last few months and I was on week 4 of prednisone. A happy tummy that does not make. Anyway, it wasn’t staying in place and I wasn’t happy about it. I stopped two more times in the woods and tried to put the damn thing back in, but it wasn’t going well. When I got to the mile 11 aid station I went into the bathroom, took it out and bagged it. Fuck it, I couldn’t deal with a chaffed vagina, I would rather chance it without it. Thankfully I wore my Thinx,  that day, so I wasn’t totally free bleeding.

This course is a double out and back so remember that big hill I ran down, now I get to climb back up it. It is huge! My calves were burning, and my hip flexors were getting sore. It seemed to take a lot longer to get back to the pavement coming back. This section is very rocky, so it is a little slippery which slowed me down a bit, but since I had been running a little fast it wasn’t a bad thing. You hit the pavement and run downhill, you can see the finish line and they send you back into the woods up another giant hill. The first lap it was cruel, the second lap it was torture! I spent a little time at the start finish aid station and changed into new wool socks. I knew they would be wet again in 4 miles, but it was worth it to have dry feet for a little while. By this time, it is raining pretty consistently but I enjoyed my midway treat, a grapefruit LaCroix and some potato chips, then feeling a little stiff I took off on loop two. I was getting sore and afraid that this loop was going to be a lot slower than the first. Hiking back up the same first hill shook things out a little bit and I was looking forward to the big downhill run again. I hit the aid station again and headed back into the swamp. The mud really got to me the second loop and I walked more than I wanted to, but I am super proud of myself because I refused to let myself get caught in the walking too much trap. I would walk a few steps and then say aloud, “Suck it up buttercup” or “it is supposed to be hard” and run again. I for sure got hit by the struggle bus in loop two but I kept on moving forward. When I got to the aid station to turn around and head back for the last time I lingered a little bit eating. I had ham, oranges, a lot of coke and chatted a bit. It was really raining now but the temps were warm enough that I was still in my tank top and didn’t want my rain shell. Back over the water crossings for the last time and through the swamp to the last aid station where I enjoyed the best avocado of my life! Then the push to the finish line!

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After hiking uphill on loop one I was supposed to run as much of loop two as I could. I knew even on my best day I couldn’t run up the big hill to get out of the bowl, so I knew there was a lot of hiking in my future. I was so sore that I was afraid I would be miserable and lose ton of time on the big hills, but I didn’t. I just kept muscling through and climbing up. I did have to stop and catch my breath a few times. It was about this time that my left knee really started to hurt, and my stomach decided it was time to poop. I told them both to fuck off, we had less than five miles left in this race and I would deal with them when I finished. As you hit the pavement at the end there is a port a john, it’s about mile 27. I really didn’t want to stop and lose any time, but my stomach wouldn’t wait any longer, so I made a quick pit stop and then ran down the hill to go back up the last climb. The climb although really challenging wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it would be on exhausted legs but coming down into the finish was a little slower than loop one, it was wet, slick and I was tired.

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Photo credit Mile 90 Photography

I finished this race in 7 hours and 22 minutes which is a little over a two-hour improvement in my personal record for a 50K. I have never been prouder of a race, I ran smart, I ate a ton and I kept pushing even when it was hard. Running for me is never a solo sport, I couldn’t do it without a lot of help. I have friends and family watching my kids, so I can practice, my coach guiding me, friends encouraging me and running with me, I can’t thank them enough!

 

That one time I tried to run..

This has been a hard year. Divorce, starting a new job, moving twice, gaining 20 pounds, trying to find and stay true to who I am. It’s been a bit of a marathon.. Lots of hills, tears, sweat and battling nearly every part of my being. Physically it’s tough, trying to find my path to loving myself and keeping my body healthy. Mentally, keeping my head in the game and having a progressive mindset to keep going. Emotionally, well that’s a gamble any given day. I consistently feel like I don’t belong in this world, like there just isn’t space for me and it’s a daily battle to try to figure out exactly where I fit. Because of all this, I decided that one thing would be in my control this year and I would choose to do something hard. I chose Triple Lakes 40k.

I started training really early for this race. It’s not that I’m new to running but along with a lot of other things, I had given it up. I knew I could do this and I knew it would be hard but I was ready and willing to put in the work. I had plenty of training runs that made me want to give up and several that were really good for my soul. One particular 10 mile run made me feel really strong and capable and I felt encouraged to keep going. And then… It was a Saturday, shortly after a round of bad storms in the Kansas City area and I found myself running along Blue River and dodging obstacles that had been washed over the pathway. About 9 miles into my 14 mile run, I started to get an annoying pain in the outside of my left knee. Like most stubborn runners, I decided to ignore it and keep pushing. Rainey joined me for the last 4 miles and it turned into more of a hike than a run as the knee pain worsened. I was sure it was just overworked and nothing serious so I took a few days off, made a couple of visits to True Health to see my chiropractor and kept trying to run. Unfortunately, the pain continued and stopped my runs at about 1-2 miles in. I again, stubbornly decided that I just needed to rest it and I took to biking instead of running while I started counting down the last few weeks until the race. After several more visits to the chiropractor, acupuncture, foam rolling, and alternate cardio, the Dr broke the news that he deemed it highly unlikely that I would be physically capable of finishing my race. I went through a roller coaster of emotions when he told me that but I’m persistent and I was determined that I was at least going to try.

The plane landed in North Carolina and there was obviously no turning back at that point. We spent the next day enjoying food and family and then made a trip out to the trail head to see where the race would begin the next day. I was so nervous that I was nauseous. The trail was beautiful, the encouragement from my friends and another runner we met at the trail head was great but in spite of my determination, that fear lingered. I knew this would be hard and I knew I needed to prove something to myself. I’ve never been a quitter and this was going to be my moment this year. I needed to prove that I wasn’t going to fail at everything. I needed to feel strong and capable. I needed every mile to run away the pain and confusion and guilt that has plagued my every decision this year. I needed this race. I had worked so hard and race day was finally happening.

We woke up early on race day, had some breakfast, geared up and headed for the start line. I was surprisingly much less nervous that morning than I had been all week and I took that as a good sign. Everything happened so fast once we arrived at the start. It seemed like a matter of minutes and the race had already begun. We started up hill and on pavement instead of trail so Rainey and I decided we would stick with a nice power hike until we found some dirt. It took us over a mile to find that dirt but when we did, we were ready and took off! The trail was gorgeous and we immediately fell into conversation and began to enjoy our time in the woods. Somewhere between mile 2 and 3, the pain in my knee started. The discouragement threatened to overwhelm me but I pushed it aside and decided it was going to be fine. If it didn’t get any worse, I could still finish. A couple of miles later the pain in my knee was still there and I was starting to feel like my shoes were rubbing on both heels. I had worn those exact socks and shoes for most of my runs and to this day have no idea why I had this issue. We met our crew at mile 8 and I changed shoes but the damage had already been done. I had huge blisters on the back of my heels and my knee was not letting up. We made it another 3 miles to the next aid station and that is where I believe I made my first mistake. I decided to try putting bandaids over the blisters and while adjusting the bandage on my left heal managed to rip the skin entirely off the blister. I wasn’t ready to let this stop me. I walked a few steps, adjusted my shoe and walked a few more. I tried Rainey’s shoe, still in pain. I finally settled on wearing my shoe like an elementary kid and smashed the heal down in the back and kept going.

Somewhere around mile 12 the reality of how I was feeling began to really hit. I could lie and tell you that I was tough. I could tell you I was angry and pissed. I could tell you it wasn’t fair and blame everything under the sun. I could also tell you the truth. I cried. My heart broke as the waves of emotion and the reality that I wouldn’t be able to finish, hit me like a brick wall. I felt like a failure. I had worked so hard for that finish line moment and now I wasn’t going to get that moment. Why did this keep happening? I felt like I had experienced so much failure already this year, didn’t I deserve one moment of success? My marriage had failed. I had failed my fitness plan. I felt like I had failed my children and my parents and my friends because so often I had been a wreck over the past year. My heart was breaking and I was crashing through the stages of grief over and over again and yet, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Several times I encouraged Rainey to go on and finish without me but because she is the best human ever, she stuck with me. We had now made it 13 miles and we were still at least 2 miles from the next aid station where our crew was waiting.

Those last two miles were brutal. Dave and Reed (our crew) hiked in with ice and a wrap for my knee. Rainey and I said an emotional good-bye, we loaded her up with fuel from my pack and she took off to finish the race. It took me 49 minutes to go the last mile to the aid station. Multiple times, I had to stop half way down a hill and cry in pain. I couldn’t stop though, I wouldn’t. My knee hurt, my heels hurt and now I had a sharp pain in the outside of my right foot but somewhere deep down, I knew that I had to walk out of those woods on my own two feet.

I made it out and was ushered into the car. The tears continued to flow as we drove to the finish line to watch and wait for Rainey to finish the race. Every time someone came running in and was awarded that medal and the congrats of finishing the race, a fresh batch of tears would spill down my cheeks. This was hard. Life was hard. But.. I knew I had done my best, regardless of the outcome.

The rest of that day and the following day was an emotional and at times hilarious journey of me trying to walk, being ushered through the airport in a wheelchair and passing the time in flight by watching Star Wars with Dave. We made it home, I put my feet up and officially started my post-race healing journey. The insane amount of love and encouragement that I have gotten from my friends, family and co-workers has been so beautiful. This was only one race, one year of my life, one more challenge that I would face, even if it didn’t turn out like I had hoped. This is a single page, not the entire book and there’s no way I’m giving up now.

As I write this, I’m sitting at home with my ugly knee brace on, watching football and trying to listen to my body’s cry for rest. My LCL sprain will heal, just like my heart is healing and even if I never find that exact place in life where I “fit” or even if I never finish a 25 mile race (I will!!! :), I know this isn’t the end and these failures, such as they are will not define me. I’m letting go… I didn’t fail to run 25 miles, I ran 15. I didn’t fail my marriage, I spent over a decade of my life loving fiercely and learning so much. I’m not failing my children, I hope I’m inspiring them to love themselves and try hard things. I have people in my life who will love me no matter what and I know my journey is nowhere near the end. It’s just beginning and it will be a great adventure.

 

 

 

I Talk to Myself and Sometimes it Isn’t Nice

We all have that small voice inside our head that chats us up constantly throughout the day.  Sometimes it encourages us and builds us up and sometimes it’s a real Queen B. Deciphering the truth bombs from the bull shit can be a difficult task at times. I wonder if there’s a secret to quieting the criticism and turning up the voice of encouragement. I’m sure I’m still on that journey of letting go and tuning into the parts that I really need to hear.

A Day inside my head…

*alarm goes off*  I’m tired. Why am I always tired? Ugh, look at my hair. Aren’t my babies so cute when they sleep. I hope I’m a good mom. I have nothing to wear that doesn’t make me look lumpy. I love this outfit. I look pretty. Easy there dark circles, I’m only in my 30’s. What am I going to eat for lunch that’s healthy and helps me meet my goals? Why can’t I just eat Pop Tarts and be fit? Breakfast was filling. Did I pack enough for lunch? I wish I had more time with my babies. I have a really nice car, I’m so blessed. I love my babies, wish I could see them off to school. For the love of God, has everyone forgotten how to drive today!?!? Will they ever finish this road construction? HAHA, my car has a funny voice when my boyfriend calls. Ok work, we are going to be friends today. Mmmm… coffee. ❤ Ok, clients, mail, smile, be a good team member, try to improve, I’ve got this. Have I had enough water today? Time is going so fast. Is that clock even moving? Am I doing a good job? I definitely haven’t had enough water. I’m hungry. I’m doing a good job and I know I’m appreciated. I’m thankful for my job. Here we go, rush hour traffic. I wonder what my babies are doing. I love my gym. Am I working hard enough? Should I up my weight? I feel strong. My butt looks good. I’m hungry. Why do I live so far from the gym? Home sweet home, I’m so blessed. I love my dogs. I love my man. What chores should I do tonight to feel productive? Should I be doing more of the cooking? I’m tired. I should do more yoga. Shaving my legs is so overrated. I love when my skin feels so soft. I’m not getting any younger, I should take better care of my skin. I look pretty without makeup. I’m tired. What do I need to do to feel good about today before going to bed? Am I doing life ok? Should I still feel sad? I have so much to be thankful for. I’m working hard and it’s going to pay off. I’m tired. I should take better care of myself. I’m doing the best I can.

 

In a nutshell, that’s a day inside my head. I waiver between confidence and confusion while counting my blessings and wondering if I should be happier. I’ve been through some things recently that have left me with my brokenness showing, but sometimes I think that’s okay. I haven’t figured out yet how to perfectly navigate my path toward healing but I think that’s part of the whole journey. I often think that I’m failing but then I remember that means I’m at least trying. The idea of feeling whole again is appealing and maybe it’s even a fantasy but I think the pieces I have left are still beautiful and even if they don’t make sense right now, they are a part of who I am. That voice inside my head is me. It’s me climbing through patterns and memories and energy in my body. It’s also me trying to climb higher, push further and embrace that life is worthy of being lived. Pain and pleasure are both part of the journey.

I’m doing the best I can and I know you are too. It’s hard to balance life between that devil and that angel that so annoyingly sit inside your brain and pull you from one side to another. We fight a daily battle to make the “right” choices and most of the time we don’t even know what that means. I think more self-love and less self harm needs to be a goal. Even just allowing those tiny negative thoughts to be entertained for a few seconds can be incredibly harmful to our hearts if we aren’t careful to keep them in check. Guard your heart my friend and if you’ve mastered this secret or you have a great tip for turning negative head space into positive forward movement, we’d love to hear more! Link to your blog in the comments or post your favorite quote that keeps you encouraged on your journey. We are all in this human experience together and that is a beautiful thing. ❤

Shawnee Hills 50k

If you read my Bryce Canyon 50k blog you know that I DNF’d. It was so disappointing after all the training so I decided to try again to conquer the 50k. After searching I found one that fit in my timeline and wasn’t terribly far away. Best of all the accommodations were included in the race entry fee!!! I read the course description, followed them on Facebook and signed up. The Shawnee Hills 100 mile Endurance Race looked amazing. It had waterfalls, a national forest and treehouses!!

The last weekend in August I packed up my nathan hydration vest and headed to southern Illinois. The race started and ended at  Camp Ondessonk, the cutest little place. It has all these cabin clusters that are mostly three walled, open air tree houses. We ended up with four walls but had a fun deck and fire pit. We got settled in, attended the pre race meeting and made dinner before heading to bed.

Race Day dawned with perfect running weather. I was a lot more nervous this time. I don’t know if it was the fear of failing or just knowing the challenge I was heading into, on purpose. My coach, Coleen gave me a bracelet with her picture and a reminder not to go out like an asshole. This was my mantra for the first 3 miles. 20398261_1961105464104833_2836055162831765504_n

I tried to take it nice and slow for the first few miles, which wasn’t terribly hard since there were a few hills to get out of the campground. The forest was gorgeous, even though all the water fall’s were dry.

My asthma was really giving me trouble and I struggled to breathe. I wasn’t sure if the nerves were causing the asthma or the asthma was making the nerves worse but I felt both of them, terribly the first 10 miles or so. Feeling very frustrated I wondered if I was cut out to run long distances. The mind is such an important part of distance running so I tried coming up with a mantra to help me stay positive but I could not think of anything I believed. Finally I settled on the song from the Lego movie. “Everything is awesome!” I sang this over and over to myself, the entire day.

Around mile 5 we came out of the woods onto a fire road, heading into aid station number 1. I was pretty sure there were only 2 people behind me so I was surprised when people started passing me. At first I thought maybe I was mistaken about how many people were behind me, but as more and more runners came from behind and passed me I started to panic that I had taken a wrong turn and cut the course somehow. When a girl I had spoken to in the first mile passed me I asked her what was up. Turns out a large group of runners had taken a wrong turn and added a little distance to their race. This would be an ongoing theme for this race. I felt pretty good at the first aid station, so with Coleen’s words echoing in my ears I got in and got out very quickly.

The next big challenge was a very rocky section. I found it difficult to run this stretch and did a lot of power hiking. There were people everywhere setting up for a day of rock climbing. Coming out of this section I spotted a local photographer hired to document the race. He was set up for an amazing shot but I was nervous I would fall and make a fool of myself. I decided to run across the rocks anyway, injuries be damned, I wanted a cool race photo. Mile 90 photography did not disappoint!!!!

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Photo Credit Mile 90 Photography

Right after this image was taken I heard my name being shouted. My husband Dave and my friend Leia were at the top of the falls and cheering for me! I looked up and then around and said aloud, “How the hell do I get up there?” I soon found out! This was one of the coolest sections of the race. I got to run through a “cave” and up a steep rock climb! Then the trails led along the top of the falls. This section was hard but so amazing we went back and hiked it Sunday. Coming into the second aid station I knew I needed to lose the tall socks and ankle brace. I was hot and it was rubbing my foot wrong. Lucky for me Dave and Leia were waiting for me. They changed my shoes and fed me and had me back out of there like a professional pit crew.

The next aid station was about 5 miles away and by the time I was heading into it my hip flexors were really hurting. I wasn’t sure I could keep going.  I hiked with another runner for about a quarter of a mile and she encouraged me to keep moving. At the aid station I fueled up on soda and pickles. It was really starting to heat up so I had them give me ice to take out on the trail too. A guy I knew had passed me early on was hanging out at the aid station. I asked if he was ok and tried to encourage him to head back out on the trail. He turned me down but then decided to catch up to me a little way down the trail. His name was Jason and he became my race buddy. We stuck together for the rest of the race. When I threw up at mile 25 he waited for me to pull it together and we headed out together. If one of us could run we both tried, when one of us needed a walk we both  hiked. We stuck together the next 16 miles and it was just what I needed. I did finish this race, in 9 hours and 30 minutes. I couldn’t have done it alone, Dave, Leia and Jason all got me through. 21077286_10159227588800254_5525397206382680586_n.jpg

This race suffered from vandalism several times. People using the trails were taking down course markings. It caused a lot of runners to get lost, multiple times during the race. Most runners missed the third aid station which left them with 13 miles or more between places to refuel. I cannot stress how dangerous this was. Missing a water refill with that far to go in the heat of August is not something to mess around with. I was so lucky I never got lost but I may literally be the only one that didn’t. I wanted to feel stronger for the race. I didn’t want to struggle as early as I did but that was what happened. I promised myself the entire race and the rest of the week that I wouldn’t do another one. I checked it off my list now I can stick with half marathons or 25k’s. This week I am researching my next 50k. That is what trail runners do. We have a love hate relationship with the distance and the pain. My plan is to spend the winter getting stronger and focusing on my weaknesses.

I am proud of my accomplishment, I ran even after vomiting, through pain and mental fatigue. The aid stations were amazing and kind, my crew ROCKS and the forest was absolutely stunning. I call it a success!!!

Who am I?

IMG_1133Your parent’s influence you by the way they raise you. Your friends impact your world and your self-esteem by the way they treat you. Your teachers and bosses create a lasting mark on your work ethic and how you see yourself as a student and employee.  You pick up a book and you identify with the character or you go to church and you feel it stir your soul. You feel connection and awareness on a walk through the woods and you find security and love in a laughing fest with a friend. There are so many moments that shape us throughout our lives, right down to the day we take our last breath. So, through all of these feelings, connections, influences and moments when our soul feels free, how do we know who we really are?
Our friend Kelly at Elements Studio Photography recently did an art photo shoot where everyone picked a word that they identified with. It was incredibly moving to see the way that we humans categorize ourselves based on past experience, interaction or relationship with other humans and many other circumstances that were often beyond our control.  Some people claim their word and allow it to give them strength and give them wings. Others of us are more prone to being caged by this reality and allowing those defining walls to hold us back within the boundaries of our insecurities. With so many emotions and so many roller coaster rides through fear and love and indecision, how do we settle on the core of who we are? How do we set a foundation for being unapologetically, confidently, fearlessly our true authentic self?
In my experience, being able to tap into awareness is at the heart of finding a grounded sense of where our core being begins.  That moment while reading a book and your heart felt lighter, that first step into nature where your feet were on clouds, that conversation with your best friend with the most amazing cup of coffee that just felt right… Those are the moments where we find ourselves. The moments when you catch yourself in such a connected moment that even your physical body can’t help but respond, pay attention. Be Aware. If it makes you feel lighter or makes your heart feel full, then it’s feeding your soul which means that’s a glimpse of your true self. Grab on to these moments and let them soak in! We push ourselves through pain and stress and endless emotions on a daily basis and we lose sight of the fact that emotions are important. Those emotional, mental and spiritual connections to our bodies are a gift that we would benefit from paying attention to.
I think a lot of times we get caught up thinking that these self discovery moments need to be a big grandiose slap in the face that pushes us into a higher version of ourselves. I don’t know how many of you have actually experienced that flamboyant of a moment, but I bet the majority of you have at least had a tiny moment of feeling “right” in your body. We don’t have to discount the smaller things in life, not ever. In fact, I believe that the more we learn to be grateful for the little things like a new running PR or a delicious home cooked meal, the more we ground ourselves into this amazing being we were created to be. Pay attention to what makes you feel. What stops you in your tracks with a GOOD emotion? Be aware of what touches your soul and feels great all the way down to your toes! And then, do more of THAT! Don’t be afraid to embrace pleasure and joy along with the stress and frustration that can sometimes haunt our everyday lives. You deserve to feel alive! It is your right as a human to feel pleasure along with pain, to feel strong and confident in your skin and to know that no matter what is going on with you, you have stability and a deep-seated knowing that who you really are will never be rocked by outside circumstances. I know, I know.. These are just a bunch of fluffy words that aren’t super specific but why do we feel like we need three steps and a mantra to put us on the right path? Mantras are fantastic! Having a 10 step program to better our personal life? Awesome! But you don’t NEED that! You just need you, and an intention to be aware of and notice yourself. You are important. You are significant. You are beautiful just the way you are. You are enough. You are always, undeniably, courageously, passionately, beautifully enough.