Rainy days and Mondays

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I have mixed feelings about today’s rain. I welcome the break from soccer but the rain makes everything else harder. Especially since I decided to spend my afternoon doing what I hate most… reeling in my finances. I pride myself in being a spend-thrift. I’m pretty frugal. However, I am not very disciplined when it comes to budgeting and structure. We can’t be all things…I guess I save my discipline for the gym.

So after spending a fretful few hours coming to terms with my excess (and huge medical bills) I set out in the rain to settle up. First stop: ending a very dysfunctional relationship at Chase bank. Remember Washington Mutual? I do. Everyone was nice and friendly..really cheery. Then along came big box bank Chase and away went my free checking. Boo! I was left with a $12 monthly fee to process my insurance and gym membership payments. No bueno. Here’s what’s sad: I tolerated this abuse for over a year! So today I was ready to get my money and give Chase the finger (not really but you know now it is once you wake up from being screwed).

Once I got dressed another reason to dread rainy days surfaced: MY HAIR.

This was me last week once I kinda mastered the art of co-washing.

I know I seem a little to giddy over a hairstyle but after months of ups and downs having my hair do what I request of it was monumental. I was on a hair high all week! I even came across an Afropunzel with a ‘fro the color of mine.

Rain, rain go away!

So back to the bandana I go. It’s all good though. I need to look like Queen Latifah in “Set it Off” anyway. Don’t want them trying to get me to stay or anything. When I pull up to the bank I start grinning. This day is a long time coming. On top of it, I had a savings account there I had forgotten about. Can you say found money?

I think the customer sales rep mistook my grin for a pleasant disposition. Or maybe he was evolved enough to see past my momentary ‘tude and could see my spirit. After routine pleasantries he looked me dead in the eyes and said “I need you to pray for me.” Now I had never met this man but in that moment our spirits connected like old friends.

I take matters of the spirit very seriously. A few weeks ago I had a series of clairvoyant experiences that left me too exhausted to even write about them. God’s business always gets my full attention.

I leaned forward and gently asked what I needed to pray for specifically.

Here is Muhammad’s story.

He finished medical school in 2010. Later that year he was in a fire and was disfigured requiring multiple surgeries (he pulled up his sleeve to show me the scars). He took his exam and did not pass. His father had a stroke right at the point in which he retook the exam. Another bad result. Third time he missed the test by one question. He had just met his wife and gotten married.

He went on to tell me that he hopes to be a pediatric oncologist. Now I’m generally not a big fan of conventional medicine but you got to be made of some tough stuff to treat really sick kids. When I expressed that to him his reply was “It is what I am called to do.” Understood.

His test is in exactly four weeks. He works at the bank to support his family and then studies from 7pm until 1 am every evening. He has $450,000 in student loan debt and it costs $1,000 every time he has to take the test.

After we finished my transaction, he asked me again for my prayers. Now I must emphasize that I truly looked homeless…possibly even criminal. One might easily assume that I was the one in need of prayer. But that is not he saw. He might be an immigrant. Maybe even Muslim. That’s not what I saw. Not that I care. No need for dogma or labels when God is involved. Namaste.

I told him I would put out a public request for prayer. To that he said,

“I love you.”

Best Monday in a long time.

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Breathing Deep

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A run with a view

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert, Dune – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

My friend Jamie is in the hospital and she posted this today.  She is amazing and always finds a way to rise above circumstances so her insight is expected and not the least bit surprising.

My question is : How on Earth did she know I’ve been grappling with fear?

I am not sure when it actually started but this week I became keenly aware that my fears were taking a stronghold. Typically things have to manifest themselves with me physically before I  get a clue. I realized this week that my breath was short and shallow.  Now that sounds scary until I tell you that I only noticed this when I was talking to someone. On my runs (3-10 miles at a time) my breathing was smooth.  As a matter of fact, I have made tremendous gains when it comes to endurance. I’ve also been strong in my Crossfit workouts…even the ones that left me tapping out in the end.

So what was the difficult breathing all about?

Well it was what I was talking about. From my husband’s car accident, my son’s concussion, to the fate of America, my conversations were labored. Add the fact that several of my close friends are battling serious illness (Jamie is one) did not help. I realized that I have literally been holding my breath. Waiting for the next shoe to drop. For weeks.

I consider myself to be pretty pragmatic at this stage in life, so I took this insight and broke it down into pieces. I knew the what and the why. Now I had to figure out how to fix it. And fast. If past performance is any gauge for future experience, I was on borrowed time from my body.

I first focused on exercise. Although my runs are very important to me, I did not need to be pumped up, I needed to chill out. I gave myself permission to do one less run this week. This is huge because my marathon training program already only calls for four runs a week.  I took the high road in Crossfit. Ignoring the Rx and letting my body guide me. No personal bests this week.

I also focused on nutrition. I made sure to get my Vitamix blend (sample recipes here) in five days this week.  I managed to drink water constantly and gave up wine for the week too. <——-MAJOR. Dinners were simple and wholesome.

On Thursday I went to see Sue. She is my pint-sized miracle worker who has a knack for taking my inflamed body and making it shiny and new again. She told me my muscles were more hydrated then ever (yes!) and that with the exception of`a small funky patch in my back and really tight hamstrings (I don’t stretch at all like I should) I was in pretty good shape. She released my right ovary from bondage (that originated as a result of my tight hamstrings -who knew???), applied incredible pressure in my armpits (I am convinced she reached under my ribcage to the other side), taught me stretches (that I already know and don’t do) and sent me on my very merry way.

I had addressed myself physically and cleared my thoughts making room for some spiritual headway. I replaced my anxiety about events taking place around me with feelings of gratitude. Whatever the situation, we were all alive and functioning.

Another day is another chance.

On Friday I paid particular attention to the Fall leaves on my run and  I started breathing consciously. With each breath I felt my heart sing a soft Thank you God. I was becoming very aware of the exchange of air.  I could feel the stress leaving.

I was able to reach out to my husband, son, and friends without totally absorbing their hurt. Taking on someone’s pain can be paralyzing and how is that helpful?  I was able to listen, empathize and help (if that is what they wanted/needed).  I think this worked much better then the deer stuck in the headlights place I found myself in before.

Perhaps the best example of this is my son. He had suffered a concussion in practice the night before leaving for his first National League experience.  My heart sank. This kid works harder than any athlete I know to be better every single day. This is his dream and now it was on hold. So instead of feeling sorry for him (or myself for that matter) I decided to come up with a plan.  His dad and I spoke to his coach and we all got on the same page. Darsi could not play but we would trust him to go with his team (this is somewhat against doctors orders and a mother’s fears). When I told him he could not play (yeah- I had to be the bad cop on this one) I let him feel the pain as I moved on with the plan. He was silent as we drove to meet his team but I gave him something to focus on… pumping up each of his teammate as they cycled on and off the field. I reminded him that his efforts (in part) got them to this point and he could own each and every win; even though he was not going to play.  I also gave him extra money. That always helps. 🙂

His dad met him in North Carolina but Darsi called me every day. Each day I could tell his spirits were getting higher. Not a single complaint.  The situation sucked majorly but he was thriving.  They won three games and tied one.

Thank you, Jamie, for reminding me today of the power of looking fear dead in the eye and owning it.

All the Single Ladies! (part 2):Why Marrying an Ironman isn’t for Everyone

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The Marrying Man

The Marrying Man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While on my long run I started thinking about the advice I gave in my first segment.   I stand by it completely but I think I should give the view from the other side of the nuptials.  So before you book your flight to Kona, take a peek into my world:

 

1) Ironmen are not flashy.  A BMW or a Lexus is not a practical vehicle to carry a bicycle and I have not seen many here. Pickup trucks and jeeps are the preferred mode of transportation.  In many cases their bikes are worth about as much (if not more than) their car. If you are woo-ed by luxury you will probably be disappointed.  My husband’s pick up truck is loud and rough and as far as he is concerned, date approved.

 

2)Ironmen are functional.  You will have a hard time convincing an Ironman that you need those Satin Bow Louboutins. His thought: for that cost, he can get a pair of Mizuno wave riders, a new Garmin and polarized Oakley’s. That’s just makes good sense. Besides, aren’t those shoes really uncomfortable anyway?

 

3) Damsels in distress need not apply.  Endurance athletes typically subscribe to an “All hands on deck” philosophy.  Weak women just slow down the process (think  The Hunger Games).  Last night, I ran in 1 mile to greet Jalal and bring him the last mile in.  I then sprinted the last quarter-mile or so while he was jogging in the finishers shoot.  I had to hurdle over small children in strollers and literally face palm a guy who stepped into my path like it was a challenge (ha! dumba**). All so I could get a picture of him at the finish line. True story.

 

4) Ironmen expect Ironwomen. I know. Ouch. No good way to pull that band-aid off. These guys work hard and nothing is as anti-climatic as coming home to fruit loops when your  you have your diet down to a science. Getting up to do a long run while your mate sleeps until noon gets old real fast. Now, while I do not  foresee an Ironman competition in my future (they don’t allow headphones so like they say in Shark Tank…I’m out),  I take my training seriously. Have you seen the guy I’m married to?

 

5) This goes along with 4. Ironmen will call you out on your bullsh&*%. I know spouses who look the other way while their significant other makes excuses as to why they are not taking care of themselves. They snicker to themselves while she lies to her girlfriends about her ‘healthy eating’ and how she just doesn’t understand why these stubborn pounds just won’t come off.  Not in my house. I have heard “Are you seriously going to eat that?” More times than I can count. It usually involves my occasional consumption of bacon; he gives it to me BIG each time. I tell him, at least the worms I’m eating are free range and grass-fed. 🙂

 

6)Feeling sorry for yourself is not considered sexy. Do or do not; but shut the hell up about it. We wrap, we bandage and we keep it moving. Not a lot of sympathy around here either.  I am exhausted from the drive, the excitement from the race and well… that .25 sprint took its toll. When I told Jalal I took a leisurely 11 mile pace during my 10 miler today (it was only supposed to be 8 but I got lost) he was like “Come on Nick (<—- his nickname for me), you’re faster than that.” Ugh.  I knew better than to mention any of the above.

 

Now I know I don’t paint a pretty picture but for the right girl this is a marriage made in heaven. It means coffee made for you in the morning cause he knows it helps you with morning workout. It also means a homemade breakfast waiting for you when you return home from your long run …he gets it that you are starving. It means no pressure to be skinny. Athletic men appreciate the wonderful balance of curves+ muscle achieved by women who are fit. It also means that you have someone who doesn’t just pay lip service to your dreams, he helps you achieve them.  It also means no guilt. Moms beat themselves up when they leave their babies to go for a run or to workout. We struggle to feel that we deserve that time (shouldn’t we be making homemade play dough or helping with a school project?). It makes such a difference when your spouse looks the kids in the eyes and says “Leave your mother a lone.”Ahhhhh…..

 

Yeah… keep your red soled shoes. I’m about to shake it up in the F-150!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Single Ladies!:Why you should volunteer at an Ironman race

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This weekend my husband competed in his first full Ironman. He has two Ironman 70.3 under his belt but this was the biggie so I surprised him in Panama City Beach with the kiddos.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the race consist of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. Back to Back. Without breaks. Serious business.  I am so very honored to say that I am married to an Ironman.

While waiting and cheering (they race nonstop from 7 am to as late as midnight) I noticed an amazing opportunity for a specific group: single women.

If I were single, I would strongly consider volunteering for an Ironman competition. Even if you have to travel. Even if it costs you money. Seriously. Here are some reasons why:

1) Men outnumber women 3 to 1

2) There is a very strong spiritual component to this type of race. Many people make it obvious (e.g.The International Christian Triathlon Network) but you can see/hear/feel it CLEARLY. This is certainly an example of  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

3)People are happy(really happy)and sometimes flirty.:) Guards are down; you get to see the spirit.

4) The races take places in beautiful places around the world. My hubby has his eye on Hawaii. 🙂

5)These are driven and determined men. They train hard for upwards of a year which leaves very little time for bad habits.

6)They take their health seriously. To compete on this level you are very in-tuned to your body. From your heart rate to your the way you digest your food, you are fully aware.

7)Most of these men are in AMAZING shape. Saw some beautiful bodies here!

8) This is not a poor man’s sport. Equipment alone set some back thousands. This is not an exaggeration.

9)These men are typically gainfully employed with flexible schedules. The training requires it.

10) You’ll meet tons of really cool single ladies that have already figured the above out!

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