Friday, November 23, 2012

Another year older

This week I had my 31st birthday and there's something about a birthday that seems to make me gloomy all day.  I'm not sure why.  I love getting older and I love this stage in life but all day I struggled with a vague, non-specific feeling of discouragement.  As I tried to grasp onto any sort of optimism for the day, I read a friend's expression of gratitude for the challenges in her life because of the beauty she had learned to discover in life because of those trials.   As common as this might be to hear people say, it takes on a deeper meaning when we understand who the statement is coming from.  This came from a mother of several young children who's world was unexpectedly and completely turned upside down in a shocking and cruel twist of fate.  Yet even through the unimaginable nature of her trials, she has blossomed from a sweet and wonderful woman into a woman of unprecedented optimism and strength.

With the Thanksgiving season upon us, I wanted my list of things I am grateful for to be a little different this year.  So in honor of my friend's example, here they are:

-I am grateful for the tight budget we have to live on because it means we get to share that budget with four of God's sweetest children.

-I am grateful for the three times Lauren spilled milk at lunch the other day because it means I had enough milk in the refrigerator to refill her cup each time.

-I am grateful for the loud and obnoxious nature of the presidential elections because it means people can speak openly without fear of incarceration or death.

-I am grateful for this cold, blustery day because I know summer will only be all the sweeter.

-I am grateful for the weekends and evenings we spend without my husband because it almost always means he is busy doing service for someone somewhere.

-I am grateful for the monotony and tediousness I sometimes feel as a stay-at-home mom because I would take it any day over working outside the home.

-I am grateful for the many bitter regrets I have about my past because of the motivation they give me to try to improve on myself.

-I am grateful for the times I have felt hurt or betrayed because it has opened my eyes to how it feels when I have done the same to others.

-I am grateful for the post-baby funk I fell into after Calista was born because of the much needed soul searching I had to do to climb out of it.

-I am grateful for bedtime because life invariably looks brighter in the morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seattle

I just realized I never got around to blogging about our trip to Seattle that we took at the beginning of October!  Percy and Casey moved out there about a year ago and we had been looking forward to visiting them for a long time.

I loved Seattle!  Percy explained that the philosophy of most people is "Live and let live," and  I saw this philosophy first hand immediately.  On our first afternoon we ate lunch at a city park that was filled with homeless people, families, and business men, all sitting alongside each other as they enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon.  I loved the eclectic energy of the city that seemed to welcome people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and appearances.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our visit.

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The troll under the bridge just about a block from Percy's house.
This was one of Camden's favorite highlights from the trip.


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Jellyfish at the aquarium

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Luke and Percy exploring a 3D mural at the city aquarium

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Fun city park where the tree trunks were painted
this bright blue

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I took this picture wanting to capture the simultaneous movement and stillness of the scene.  What made this picture memorable was the lady on the left, in the blue coat, sitting on the bench.  Apparently she must have thought I was trying to photograph her so she extended her arm, flipped me the bird and held that position in complete stillness for the 3 or 4 minutes that it took me to set up and snap several shots.  Afterwards I wanted to thank her for giving character to an otherwise boring shot, but I wasn't sure if she would appreciate that.


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View of the Seattle skyline from atop the Space Needle
(I had to slow down the shutter speed because it was so dark and I loved the movement it captured, especially of the ferry and the jetliner taking off)


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The night we went to the Space Needle, Lauren insisted on
wearing this pink wig.  She reminded me of Thing 1 from the Cat in the Hat.



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My kids love their uncle Percy!

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Casey

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How grateful I am that my brother has found such a fantastic partner!  Casey is a wonderfully kind and genuine person.
And this guy can COOK!



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This is an example of the wonderful coexistence I was taking about.
It all comes down to just two guys who like to play chess.


Thank you, Percy and Casey for being such fantastic  hosts!  My kids ask often when we are going back to visit.  Their only disappointment is that they didn't get to see the wall of chewing gum (???) that they read about in some book.  I guess we'll have to plan on that for next time!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Marathon

Saturday marked the day when 13 weeks of preparation and training came to fruition at the Just Cuz marathon in Pocatello.  In August I decided I was ready for another physical challenge so I decided on a marathon, using speed training to prepare this time.  Two of my friends agreed to run the full marathon with me while my brother, Jimmy, and cousin, Jasmine prepared to run the half.  Training schedules were made and the grueling task of preparing for a marathon began.  I've come to the conclusion that running isn't the hardest part of a marathon, it's the weeks and hours of preparation that go into training beforehand.

The race began as well as could be expected when you find out the night before that the course is going to be much more difficult than you had expected.  But even that had been a gross underestimation of the difficulty of the course.  The race proved to be grueling and by far the most difficult I had ever completed, both physically and mentally.   The first 13 miles were a steady incline that lead us to a summit where we turned around to run the final 13 miles back to the finish line.  But by mile 20 my physical preparation had been outspent and now I was moving on sheer will power, but still I expected to finish somewhat to my satisfaction.
My friends, Nichole and Leena who raced with me.
For each of them, it was their first marathon.

Somewhere between miles 22 and 23, I felt sharp shooting pains coming from my hip so I decided to give myself 30 seconds and walk it out.  After 30 seconds I realized the pain had increased so I gave myself permission to walk another hundred yards.  Then another 100 yards, and then another.  After a mile of this, I realized the pain was only getting worse and that I'd have to walk the remaining 3 miles of the race to the finish line.  To say I was devastated would be an understatement.  As the other runners ran past me giving encouraging remarks as I hobbled alongside the road, I wanted to sock them.  I didn't want their sympathy or their well wishes.  In my mind all of the weeks and hours of preparation had proven to be a complete failure. I was weak.  And I had the next 3 miles of moving at excruciating slowness to wallow in that realization.
Jasmine, Jimmy, and me.  Check out the crazy colored shoes
we were all wearing.  Jimmy doesn't normally dress this
freakishly (at least I don't think he does).  The race theme
was zombies.

As I crossed the finish line my brother, cousin, and friend who had all finished well before greeted me enthusiastically.  They had all ran stellar performances and I was truly happy for them.  My last several athletic events haven't gone as well as I had hoped and I had really wanted this one to be one I could be proud of, but I was more crushed than I had been in any of the others.

As we drove the long way home across the state I had to give myself time to process my feelings of disappointment.  Everyone who runs distances this long knows that at some point what propels you is sheer will power, not just physical preparation.  A marathon is just as much a test of mental strength as it is a test of physical strength.  But I wasn't sure which one had failed at mile 22 and that's what bothered me the most.  I could handle the idea of my body giving out.  We all have our limits and there's only so much we can do before we cross over into the realm of stupidity as we try to cruelly push our body beyond it's capabilities.  I get that.  But what I couldn't come to terms with was the possibility that it had been my will power that had failed me before my body had.

I'm still not sure which of the two it was but as with all things, I realize I have to give myself permission to forgive myself.  I reminded myself that failure is usually a better teacher than success.  So given my track record lately, my learning curve must be exponential.

On a lighter note, I thought I'd share the following picture which shows why Dennis and I are like two peas in a pod.  No, I didn't make this list for him.  He made it himself and has been methodically crossing things off one at a time.  I love this man.