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The Gift of Falling Flat on Your Face

Not too long ago I was having a great day. Like a really great day. A great week actually. Felt like I could conquer the world. Then I did something stupid. I won’t provide specifics surrounding the series of awesomeness followed by humiliation. Sorry, I know you’re dying to know but the truth is I’m not interested in reliving it in perpetuity on my blog. Let’s just boil it down to feelings, which is what matters here. I was devastated. Then I was pissed. What the hell! How can the universe be so kind and in the blink of an eye so incredibly cruel? I felt like this:

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This is a still from a video I posted on Facebook yesterday. As you might have guessed, this runner falls down. It’s rather devastating, as you may also have guessed. This is not what’s appealing about the video. It is, in fact, one of the most incredible visual metaphors I’ve ever come across. Watch the whole thing:

What is incredible about this event is not that the runner fell down and got back up and won the race (which is kind of mind-blowing btw). What is really incredible about the message here is that she won BECAUSE she fell down. Now, before you draft an argumentative comment, of course I don’t know that for sure. Would she have won without falling down? Maybe. But probably not. You can see it happen. Falling down gave her the jolt of adrenaline, of anger, of determination to win, that she otherwise would not have felt had she kept with the pack. The girl that clipped her in the foot probably felt so thrown off and embarrassed that it threw off HER game and allowed fallen girl to get up and gain a lead. The other runners probably assumed she was out when she went down, and didn’t in a million years see her coming to dominate at the last minute. This chain of events that started with her falling flat on her face provided a series of gifts that allowed her to win. It’s incredible. She had to fall down to win.

That’s the narrative I see in this video. You might take away something different but isn’t that the incredible thing about a story? Good stories contain layers of meaning that we get to peel off, try on, and see what fits best on our souls and minds. This video arrived on my Facebook feed with the utmost synchronicity. I had metaphorically fallen flat on my face a mere 48 hours prior, and I needed to see this. Failure will come to all of us and we must recognize it as a gift — an opportunity to reap just the exact emotions and motivation we need to win.

After I “fell” I sat in my car and cried. I didn’t want my wonderful week to end this way. It wasn’t fair. Someone! Somewhere! Change this! Much to my chagrin, no deus ex machina came down from above to change my circumstances. I was on my own. So I turned on my voice recorder app on my phone. I talked it out. I purged everything I was feeling. I needed to record it because talking to myself wouldn’t get it out fully. There has to be someone listening, even if that someone is an electronic chip in my smartphone. It makes a difference.  My fall gave me humility, determination, anger, and empowerment. Invaluable gifts made worthless if I remain face down on the ground. I stand up, and I keep running. I want to use these gifts. I know that life isn’t really a competition, but I still hope that I win.

Patience, not-so-young Grasshopper

I’m too impatient to think of a clever way to begin this post. Gah! So impatient! The cat is out of the bag. I’m impatient. It’s a toxic state of mind. The overwhelming desire to have something extraordinary happen overnight often thwarts the possibility of that extraordinary something happening over time. This is why it’s essential to enjoy and take meaning from the journey. Not because it’s so wise, because it’s 95% of the process. You may as well enjoy it. You can’t drive from California to New York overnight, so if you don’t find pleasure in staring out your window at the Oklahoma prairie or Missouri’s rolling hills, it’s going to be a long and painful drive. Learn to savor the journey; something I’m discovering about my endeavors as a children’s book author.

Earlier this year I actually, truly, really, actively, once-and-for-all began taking steps toward becoming a published children’s picture book author. I’d dreamed of such a thing since I was 6 years old, but other than a library of ideas messily cataloged in my brain I’d never pursued it. All that changed with the new year. Knowing NOTHING about the publishing industry I began with as rudimentary a step as possible. I bought Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. Hello, dummy. *Proudly points to self*

Not even knowing how to format a manuscript properly, I needed the basics. It’s actually quite a good book. I recommend it for publishing preschoolers like me.

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I read this book. I joined Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I launched a personal website. I finished my first manuscript. I researched publishing houses accepting unsolicited material. I wrote a cover letter. I signed up for my first conference. I’m ready now! Do you hear me universe! I’m ready, so can this happen now? Oh universe, I know YOU waited patiently for 30 years for me to accept this as my life’s calling, but now that I’m ready let’s do this thing.

I don’t know if writing for children has led me to think like a child, but I am impatient with a capital I. Impatient. IMpatient.

So what has led to this impatience? Well I’ll tell you. Obstacles. There are numerous itchy realities that have put a little bee in my bonnet since I started actively writing. Here are the discouraging things I’ve learned since I’ve gotten myself in the game.

On average it takes 3-6 months for a publisher to respond to your manuscript submission. Most responses will be a rejection.

Many publishers require an exclusive submission so while you’re waiting SIX MONTHS for them to read your three page manuscript you can’t really even submit it to anyone else. This isn’t always the case but SOMETIMES. SOMETIMES!

If and when a publisher wants to buy your manuscript, which you can almost guarantee won’t happen with the first submission, it will then take 18+ months (at least) for your book to be paired with an illustrator, art directed, produced, and published. It can and does take years.

Once your beautiful book baby is born and there you are on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, unless you’re among the incredibly rare breed of New York Times bestselling picture book authors, your book will probably go out of print in 2 years and you’ll net maybe $5,000 of royalties once you make back your advance. It will most likely be 10-15 years before you’ve published enough books to quit your day job and write full time.

So here I am, eager as a little beaver for my life to begin, and all I see are obstacles and “Turn Back Now” signs. I’m not old, but I’m not young either. I’m considering children in a few years. I’d like to start saving for a home, and for kid’s education, and for retirement. I want my life to begin NOW. Now, do you hear me universe? I’m ready! Do I really have to wait years for my three-page manuscript to make it to bookshelves, if it ever makes it at all? There are no guarantees. This could all be for naught. I could be a hack. I could be delusional. I can’t wait years to find that out.

I’m realizing I’m at this point in the story:

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There are many things I don’t know but I’m fairly certain of one thing. For the first time in my life I feel that I’m on the right path. I’ve started my journey down that path feeling prepared and enthused, only to now come across a chasm of unknowns, of long periods of waiting, of inconveniences and obstacles. There are signs that say “Wait here for 6 months, then proceed… maybe,” and others that read “Please pay $500 to advance,” while still others read “Congrats, you’ve earned $5,000! Now make that last for three years!”

A famous actor can indeed make millions. As can a famous author. However the majority of actors are not famous. They work. They struggle. They hustle to make $2,000 for one week on a show they don’t even really like that much and pray they’ll make enough money in their careers for health insurance and maybe a pension. It’s hard. For most, it’s very hard, so if you don’t love it, if Jiminy Cricket isn’t whispering in your ear, “Yes, this is right,” then maybe don’t do it.

Who knew writing would be just as challenging? Well, probably everyone who ever tried to be a writer, but hey I’m new at this. The difference now is Jiminy Cricket is talking to me. I’m starting to sound a little crazy but you know what I mean. It’s there! Some sort of warm omniscient speaking heart telling me that it will all be worth it somehow. This is my story. This is my path.

Okay. I accept. I will wait. I will make the leap. I will stay on the path no matter how hairy it gets. I will employ patience by enjoying the view from the window of this moving train. And while I wait, I’ll keep writing. I’ll see what I see out the window and it will inspire me and I’ll write it down. Even if I’m never published and they line my coffin with rejection letters from Random House, someone will one day clean out my desk and they’ll find what I wrote and they’ll say “Hey, look what she did.”

Hey, look what I did. Look what I’m doing. All you need is patience, young grasshopper.

Or should I say… cricket.

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Running the Home Stretch

We are almost to Tahiti. We are almost to Tahiti! I find this so hard to believe, as Tahiti has been a bit of a distant dream for these past three years, despite our active plan to get there. The number of miles left to run has remained in the 4 digit area code for what feels like so long.

Until now.

I truly can’t believe it but we collectively have less than 800 miles to run. Less than 800 miles to white sandy beaches, crystalline waters, sea creatures, tropical cocktails, and exotic adventures. Less than 800 miles to our Honeymoon!

That 800 miles will fly by. How do I know this? Because we’ve created a built-in carrot to insure that we keep on track for this final stretch. It’s called the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11. If Brad and I stick to our training schedule, which we simply must if we have any hope of finishing our first marathon, we will arrive running on the shores of Tahiti the week of December 15. Just in time for Christmas. Happy Christmas to us! We won’t actually make travel plans and get there until sometime in the spring, but this Christmas you can bet our hearts will be in French Polynesia.

The road has been paved with literal blood, sweat, and tears. As well as vomit, panic attacks, dirt, chaffed skin, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and sunburns. Amidst the injuries and struggles we’ve also had joy, laughs, adventures, and some of the best memories in our 7 years together so far. That’s what running is all about. The incredible beauty in the challenge.

After Tahiti Brad will likely scale back on mileage and FINALLY get rid of the pesky plantar fasciitis that plagues him. I see a bicycle and a swim cap in Brad’s future. Me? I think I’ll stick with running for awhile. It’s become a very important part of me. Running makes me feel strong, sane, and grounded. As long as I’m injury free (knock on wood) I think I’ll always be running somewhere. The question is, where should we run to next?

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10 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

I didn’t realize this until my husband pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, but the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon marked my 10th half marathon completed. I can’t believe it! I ran my first 13.1 miles at the 2010 Disneyland Half. How fitting that my 10th be at the same event. Full circle. Warm and fuzzies. MILEstone.

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In honor of my 10th half marathon-iversary, I thought I’d pay homage to the distance. It’s a great race. I started to think about why I love it so much and as I brainstormed it occurred to me to loop other folks in on the discussion. I’m a member of a fantastic Disney nerd running group on Facebook called Team #runDisney. It’s an amazingly supportive and enthusiastic group of runners. From novices to elites, everyone in this group comes together to share the love of our sport. So who better to answer the question, why do you run the half marathon, than my brothers and sisters in arms (or legs) over at Team #runDisney. The following is a mash-up of their answers as well as my own. I give you:

10 reasons to run a Half Marathon.

  1. Accountability
    • It’s all well and good to say you’re going to run 20 miles a week (or whatever), but let’s be serious, you won’t. You’ll get home from work and you’ll feel all tired and sludgy and give in to the couch calling out to you. Couch says “Hey you, yeah you whose derriere I love so much when it snuggles up on me with a glass of wine and a bag of hot Cheetos. Come put your feet up and watch the new episode of Scandal. It’s far too late and that wine is far too delicious. No need to run today.” That’s what the couch says. You can’t listen. You need something to pull you away. Sign up for a half marathon. Paying that kind of money to run a race will keep you motivated to keep going, keep training. Seeing that countdown widget on your phone everyday will remind you of what you promised yourself. Accountability. Plus, I just used wine and hot Cheetos in the same sentence. God help me.
  2. All about the bling
    • Yes I realize it’s just a cheap piece of metal made for 10 cents somewhere over seas probably by an exploited labor force. But man, I can’t help it, I love my medals. How many instances in life do you get a well-deserved medal placed around your neck for something you accomplished. There’s a reason there’s an established saying “they should give me a medal ” when you bust your butt for something. In this case, they will!
  3. Set an example
    • Whether it’s your kids, students, nieces, spouse, or co-workers, you have the incredible opportunity to set an example for someone around you. At a time when the dangers of obesity are finally starting to sink in, we’re all having healthier discussions about body image, and nutrition often takes center stage in the national debate, thank God that it seems like the world may be getting healthier. Maybe? Hopefully? The truth is we don’t know if all these studies and articles and dialogues are actually doing anything. What I do know is that I’ve had at least three people tell Brad or I directly that our running habit inspired them to get active again. That’s amazing. If something I’ve done changes one person’s life for the better, worth it. Actions speak so much louder than words (coming from the girl who writes a BLOG! *facepalm*).
  4. Raise Money/Awareness
    1. Runners raise a shit-ton of money. Millions of dollars every year. In doing so they take the opportunity to educate their friends and families about causes that matter to them. They provide living proof that positive change begins with doing something for yourself but it can’t END there. Change must be paid forward. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is Sean Astin’s #run3rd campaign. It sums up the philosophy perfectly. Run 1st for myself. Run 2nd for my family. Run 3rd for YOU. Of course “You” being an embodiment of whatever dedication compels you forward; be it a cause, a loved one, a memory, a statement. Give it away, be a part of something bigger. Make effort meaningful. Running does these things. Cool, huh?
  5. FOOD
    • With a capital F! Ok people, I’m not saying you should gorge yourself or anything. That would totally undermine the point I made above about setting a healthy example. But I’m not gonna lie, food tastes waaaay better after you just ran 13.1 miles and know that every single calorie has already been burned off. Most of the time of course you should be healthy and mindful of what you put in your body. Well, actually, all the time. Yes we should be mindful of that all the time. You should see how mindfully I down a chocolate milkshake and stack of buttermilk pancakes with a side of hash browns after I run a half marathon. In all honestly, I’m telling you, when you run consistently you just don’t have to stress about food as much. I never used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight just thinking about a few extra calories. Since I’ve been running really consistently I don’t think about it, and I don’t gain. Admittedly, I haven’t lost weight either, but I’m ok with that. The relief of going to the grocery store and just buying what my cravings tell me to buy is so freeing. (News flash, when you get out of diet mode and listen to real cravings, you’ll probably crave healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and protein. True story). But let me repeat my main point, eating WHATEVER you want after you just ran a half marathon is a gift from above.
  6. Fits into your busy schedule
    • Brad and I just started training this week for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I have to admit, looking at the training calendar I can tell that from here until January running is going to dominate our weekends. Once we get over 14 mile runs, you’re talking about carving out at least 3 hours of straight running every Saturday. That’s *just* the running. That doesn’t include warm-up time, cool-down time, and recovery time. Running over 14 miles is going to knock us out the rest of the day, and we’ll be doing it about 10 weekends in a row. Bye bye social life! Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for the challenge and am committed to making a social sacrifice to get ready for Disney World come January, but let me tell you the great thing about a half marathon. It’s challenging, quite challenging, requires a good amount of training and consistency, but is not SO challenging that it dominates your life. You can train for a half marathon without neglecting your family, and while maintaining a social life. And at the end of it all you’ll still feel so accomplished after running that race! It’s the perfect distance for we amateur athletes who still want lives.
  7.  Runcations
    • Running a half marathon can provide great incentive to travel. It might be hard to convince your spouse to fly across the country for a 5k or even a 10k. The half marathon is that magic distance. Your family will be so impressed by your effort and dedication to the challenge, they will readily jump on board to fly to Boston so you can run the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. Tempt them with a Duck Tour and lobster rolls and you’ll start to see that half marathons can be the markers on your traveler’s map. And you won’t be SO beaten up after 13.1 miles that you won’t have any steam left to enjoy your surroundings. A marathon could put you out of commission. A half marathon will leave you feeling celebratory and revitalized with some extra calories to spare (see point #5). Half Marathons have taken Brad and I to Monterey, Big Sur, San Diego, and of course Disneyland!
  8.  Camaraderie
    • I’ve always gravitated more toward solitary sports than teams. Does that make me a creeper who doesn’t like people? I don’t think so. It’s just that team sports give me so much anxiety. Too much pressure!. However tennis, swimming, cycling, running. I can get behind all of these. The funny thing is I feel more supported by my fellow runners of the world than I ever did on a team played in school. Perhaps because we don’t compete against each other, we compete against ourselves (talking about non-elites of course). I run to beat my own time, not someone else’s. I don’t disappoint anyone if I can’t finish a race. No runner (me) has panic attacks about letting the team down. This leaves 100% room for positive camaraderie with my fellow runners and no where is that more apparent than at a half marathon. Thousands of eager athletes willing each other to succeed. I want them all to succeed so bad! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried hearing the stories of what my running friends have overcome in their journeys. We share tips with each other, we swap horror stories, we salute new PRs and we comfort epic disappointments. Seems like almost every major thread I read on Facebook is chalk full of dissent, argument, and trolls, except for my running groups. They are a virtual haven. In my running groups I can’t say I’ve ever come across a single troll. I may extol the virtues of the solitary athlete, but I’m not-so-secretly dependent on my “team.”
  9. Running is cheaper than therapy
    • There are many ways to maintain positive mental health; and running does it for me. The half marathons that I run every year keep an attainable but challenging carrot dangling out in front of me. I have something to look forward to which is always good for joy-making, and running after that carrot gets all kinds of fancy endorphins pumping through my blood and brain. Training will give you built-in “me time.” It will clear your head. It will help you manage stress. Half marathon training is honestly the best prescription for mental stability I’ve ever undertaken. Half marathon = happiness.
  10. Dreamcatching
    • Admit it, someone at some point in your life has made you feel incapable and bad. Whether that person was a bully, a pesky relative, or yourself. Someone made you think you couldn’t do things like run 13.1 miles. Oh the satisfaction of proving someone wrong. Run a half marathon because someone at some point told you that you couldn’t. Run a half marathon because you need tangible proof that any dream is catchable.

 

To finish, I want to share some quotes from the Team #runDisney thread that inspired me to write this, and continues to inspire me keep on runnin’. (Please apply (sic) to all typos, these comments came from the grammar vacuum known as Facebook). I hope you can feel the inspiration oozing from your computer screen, onto your desk, and down into your feet! These people have overcome and accomplished some amazing things. If they can do it, so can YOU!

I love running with people who are running their first half marathons and getting to share the experience of something I really love. It’s amazing to see all the emotions they go through and to be that voice of confidence and encouragement.

I run because I was told I couldn’t. And 8 years later, when I ended up in a wheelchair, I switched to a racing chair because running had become part of who I am. And it’s taught me way too many things to list…

Running ten miles on a Saturday morning means nachos for lunch don’t count!!

I had a stroke about 6 years ago and I run because I can and I know it’s a luxury!

Easier than a marathon and more challenging than a 10K. Just the right distance and I always feel accomplished at the end.

Because people look at me and say, you don’t look like a runner……

I run all distances for fun… 5Ks and 10Ks I want to go fast. Fulls require focus… With the Half, I can be a bit more casual and enjoy the race from start to finish.

Sometimes I don’t have a lot of control of many things in my life -but I always have control of me. It empowers me to stay strong through uncertain times.

I signed up for my first time last year because I can’t seem to accomplish my personal goal at work and needed to know that nothing could hold me back from what I wanted to do if there was no one in my way….

To raise money for a local charity and in honor of a friend who used to run marathons but died of brain cancer two years ago.

I took 20 years off of Running. Last year my son started Kindergarten. I wanted to set an example of exercise. I started with the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last November. When November rolls around the weekend of the Disney Avenger Race I will have run 9 half marathons in a year’s time. If someone told me last August that I would have run 9 Half Marathons I would have said they were crazy. Yet 5 down, 1 this weekend, then 3 to go!!!

Most of my life I have been a big guy, a couple years ago lost over 100 pounds. I remember how excited I was when I ran my first mile without stopping for the first time in my life. This will be my 2nd half marathon. I don’t run because I can, I run because all my life I couldn’t.

I started running three and a half years ago after my son passed away following a car accident. That’s why I run to honor (him). He was a country runner and rugby player in high school and we had planned to someday do a half marathon together. I’ve done many half marathons and I have three or four more planned in the next 6 months. I run to feel close to and honor him. That’s why I run.

I find a different kind of fulfillment when I run halfs. It’s changed me inside letting me know I am strong and (can) accomplish anything!

I had a rough childhood, survived a relationship that could have ended my life, and emotional struggles from it all.  My boys don’t know all this from my past, but I want them to know that strength comes in many forms. Maybe getting that medal is physical validation of what I conquered internally. I also love that I can have them see me run and we can have a family vacation together at our favorite place on the planet. Double bonus!

I started running a few years ago. Did the Disney World 5K at Animal Kingdom and it was amazing!! I cried at the end!! Jumped straight to Half Marathon and was hooked… still cry at the finish!! LOL

For the amazing feeling you get when you finish the race. That natural high lasts for days and carries over into your normal everyday life!

Why you ask… “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

Runs Worth the Drive!

I read quite a few running blogs. Foremost because I like to connect with fellow runners/writers. The running community is just that, a community. Perhaps it’s because our sport is a lone one, we like to connect with each other whenever possible. Blogging does that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want to see what other people were doing right. You see I often feel like I’m doing things wrong. I read other blogs that are clearly so incredibly popular and successful and I wonder what I should be doing. I read about bloggers getting complimentary entry into runDisney races (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??) and getting sent all kinds of swag for giveaways to increase readership, cross-promote, and network with potential sponsors. I see all of these things and feel there must be some sort of golden goose I can’t find. Last year I would say that all of that worried me. This year I said to hell with it. I didn’t start a blog to worry about all of that. I started a blog to write, to muse, to run, and to keep myself accountable on this adventure to Tahiti. So that’s what I’ve re-focused on in 2014. I stopped worrying about what other people were doing right, what I was doing wrong, and shifted my thinking to doing what I love: running and writing.

And wouldn’t you know it.

Things pick up steam. I’m going to make the moral of this story short so that I can get to to the meat of today’s news, so here it is, listen up. When you stop worrying about the destination and start focusing on the journey, you’ll discover yourself. Yes, the destination IS the journey. Also, life is too short to worry about being successful according to someone else’s standards, so always do what you love and do a good job. That will be a success.

That’s what happens. Really. I stopped worrying about the result of my blog and refocused on the content and it’s now more “successful” than ever. More importantly, it brings me great joy which was always the intention. I Now here’s my news!

Buick is partnering with MapMyRun for a summer campaign called Runs Worth the Drive which encourages runners to take strides outside of their habitual running locales and drive to new terrain, in addition to promoting a healthy and active summer. A few weeks ago Buick contacted me about being a featured blogger in this campaign!

Buick has loaned me a fancy new Verano Turbo this week with which I can drive to as many new running adventures as possible. I then map my route on MapMyRun.com and share my new runs with Buick and the rest of the world via social media. You can follow along at hashtag Driven2Run. It’s a pretty car.

 

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If you’ve been reading since the beginning (thank you), you may recall that the motivation for this blog was to write about the cross-section of running and traveling. Adventure is my middle name and my favorite thing to do on an adventure is to run. When I run in a new land I breathe it in deeper, feel the earth beneath my feet, and take pictures with my eyes. A new landscape gets in to your very pores when you run through it, and that’s how I take places with me. My most vivid memories of the city of Boston come from runs along the Charles or across Boston Common. I can practically smell the Colorado countryside right now thanks to the 3 miles Brad and I ran up a mountain. I love running when I travel. So the fact that Buick targeted Running to Tahiti for this summer campaign is pure serendipity and excitement. I now have not only an excuse, but real motivation to get my running butt out into greater Los Angeles and rediscover this beautiful city with my own two feet.

We get the Buick through next weekend, so next Saturday we’ll really adventure somewhere exciting and a bit remote to prove that the run is indeed worth the drive.

With all of that said I could use your help Angelenos. Where should we run??? Southern California is at our fingertips (or running shoes) and we could really use some suggestions. Please share either in the comments or on social media your favorite running routes in Los Angeles, greater Los Angeles, and Orange and Ventura counties. Use the hashtag #Driven2Run to follow the conversation.

Thanks to Buick and MapMyRun for inviting Running to Tahiti to be a part of this challenge. Brad and I so look forward to discovering SoCal anew!

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Why I Won’t Be Losing Weight For My Wedding

I could go on and on and on and on and on about female body issues. I could probably go on about male body issues as well. I haven’t really tried; but I’m sure I could. Today I’ll try not to go on too much, but ever since I got engaged there’s something I’ve been meaning to say. I won’t be losing my weight for my wedding. For several reasons.

There’s this strange expectation when you get engaged that you’ll want to get fit, lose weight, tone up, look perfect. I’m not going to bash the idea. I understand it. It’s a significant day. One in which dozens of people will all be looking at you, sizing you up whether they mean to or not; and one in which you’ve spent dollars, lots of dollars (probably thousands) to have your picture taken. You likely want to look your best. It doesn’t surprise me that getting fit and looking great become a priority to engaged ladies. What saddens me is that it often seems to become priority #1, and that our culture is obsessed with it.

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To each his own. I’m not here to judge anyone. If getting married is a catalyst for someone to get healthy, who am I to condemn that? My instinct is to criticize that we seem to equate thinness with worth in our society, and no where is that more apparent than the pressure put on a bride. But perhaps I’m projecting. Let me remove myself from the position of casting judgement and turn the focus inward. I’m only here to talk about my own experience, and if anyone out there can relate perhaps we’ll start to open our minds a bit about what it means to be a beautiful bride.

My entire life I’ve been in a perpetual state of trying to lose weight. Truly, for as long as I can remember. I went to my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 12. I was a chubby kid. I got teased. It sucked. Make no mistake about the power of bullies on a sensitive young heart. I wish I had the magic elixir to protect my future children from the nonsense of bullies, but knowing that I don’t have it just as my own mother didn’t have it no matter how much she tried, keeps me up at night. Children can be cruel, and I let myself be a victim. I grew up throughout my teenage years always wanting to lose weight. Always. All. Ways. I begged my mom to let me do three-day crash diets that consisted of canned beets and plain hot dogs, cabbage soup diets, grapefruit juice fasts, the master cleanse, Atkins. All of it, I did it. And I lost weight a lot of the time. I fluctuated between being in a state of weight loss which made me feel FANTASTIC, and being in a state of weight gain which made me feel utterly worthless as a human being. I was addicted to dieting. A weight loss junkie. The highs were so high, the lows so low. But man, those highs. It’s a dangerous state. That being the pattern I allowed myself to grow up in, I began to equate happiness with weight loss.

I had these flights of fancy about what would force me to “finally lose the weight” in a once and for all kind of way, as if it wasn’t me in control, but an external force that could finally put the nail in the chubby coffin. I had some dream of a weight loss fairy Godmother in the form of these motivating life benchmarks. I thought going away to college would do it (apparently I’d never heard of the freshmen 15). Then I thought going off to London would do it (all those cute Brits. I had to be ready). Then I thought graduating from college would do the trick, or moving to L.A. After all, I couldn’t in any way participate in Los Angeles looking like “this.”

With all of those benchmarks come and gone, some hit, some missed, I thought there was one down the road that would be a surefire win. One moment in time that would surely be the catalyst for my final victory over the fat. That moment would be when I got engaged.

That would do the trick right? There’s no way I would allow myself to walk down the aisle looking chubs. And besides, it’s what women do, right? Then a funny thing happened.

I got engaged.

And I felt no desire to lose weight. It didn’t even cross my mind. In other significant moments throughout my life such as getting into college, getting asked to prom, getting cast in a TV show, the absolute first thing that entered my mind when these things happened was “I have to lose weight.” So believe me when I say that I was the most shocked of all when Brad put the ring on my finger and the first thing we did was go eat a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and salad covered in delicious ranch dressing, capped off with chocolate gelato.

So let me take a step back, because the truth is the weight monsters began to drift away a lot earlier. Namely, the moment I fell in love with Brad. That’s not meant to sound sappy because I’m actually a bit critical of myself for it. I’m disappointed in myself that it took the opinion of a male in my life to finally shift my thinking. But that’s the way it went down. Brad fell in love with me, all of me, especially me, with no condition that I lose weight. He didn’t say “oh yeah, I totally love you, but we’ll only really be together once you lose 20 pounds.” See, that’s what I told myself. “I’ll only get a boyfriend when I lose 20 pounds.” So if I recited that to myself then of course I believed it was the steadfast condition upon which I would find a mate. Then along comes Brad and the condition evaporates. It’s not because he loves me that I learned to love myself. It’s more like his love was a wake up call. I finally opened my damn eyes and got over the idea of only loving myself -20 pounds.

And then of course there’s running. Magical, beautiful, blissful running. I attribute a huge portion of my current happiness to my running habit. My feet make me grateful for my calves, and my calves for my knees, and my knees for my spine, and my butt, and my arms, and my lungs, and my eyes. I love running, and I need all of those things to run, therefore I love all of those things. The best thing I could have ever done for my body and self-esteem was to take the first step onto the running track.

So fast forward again to the engagement. Our relationship is built upon the foundation that we love each other as is. Warts and all. Or weight and all, in my case. If Brad’s nose fell off, or he grew a third arm, or his skin turned green, I would still love him. Those things would be weird, but I would love him. So now that we’re planning our wedding the condition, the code that I’ve always lived by which dictates that I must lose weight before accomplishing anything, that code is gone. It feels false, not to mention regressive, to reinstate it just because that’s what brides seem to do.

I’m happy, truly happy, with exactly the way I look right now. And it’s not the same as the volatile roller-coaster of happiness I was on before when my weight would go up and down and up. That happiness was dependent upon something external. This happiness comes from within. Yes I could stand to lose a few pounds to make my doctor happy, but that will come in time. After all I’m about to begin training for a marathon. Something is going to be lost. It might be my weight, it might be my dignity. Time will tell. For now I’m stable. For the first time in my entire life, my self-esteem is stable. I don’t get nervous to look in the mirror, not knowing if I will respond with adoration or disgust. I love every inch of my body and not because it’s thin, but because it keeps me healthy. It’s an absolute miracle, the only one of it’s kind.

Would I like to look the absolute ideal version of myself on my wedding day? Sure. Of course. But I’m not sweatin’ it. I know how my brain works. If I lost weight for my wedding day I would obsess over it. It would consume every thought from here until July 21st. It would make our day about how I look. I don’t want my wedding day to be about how I look. I want it to be about how I feel. And how Brad feels. And right now, I’m in love. Brad loves me just as I am. More importantly, I love me just as I am. I’m a bride. A bride takes a leap of faith in the name of goodness. A bride places the importance of another person’s life right alongside hers. A bride makes a declaration that love conquers, fear falters, and fidelity reigns. A bride (and groom) in love truly is the most ideal version of herself, and that ideal has nothing to do with size.

swimsuit

B&B

 

Plus! There’s sound equipment that needs renting, and paper flowers that need making, and rehearsal dinner that needs planning, and ceremony readings that need picking, and hair that needs highlighting, and a mini-moon that needs booking, and gifts that need buying, and, And, AND! Yeah. I’ve got enough on my plate to not have to worry about what I’m eating off my plate.

Until next time.

Love,

Becky

 

 

 

MILEstones!!

Today Brad and I hit a major milestone, or, MILEstone, you might say. After this morning’s 3 mile run, we have officially hit the 3,000 mile mark! We’re getting so close to Tahiti!

 

3000 miles

 

And man that was a hot run! We worked for it. Only 1,109 miles to go. After this weekend’s half marathon we’ll be in the 1,000’s!

Can you say…

Seinfeld Happy

 

Have a great weekend everyone.

So Much Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. When you get right down to it, the vast majority of us in the world have a WHOLE lot to be thankful for, and with the world as whacked out as it is, I think it’s important to vocalize our thanks. Focus on the good. Be… excellent… to each other. ‘Tis the season.

This year I want to participate in the 30 days of thanks challenge. Is it a challenge? I’m not sure. I may have made that up. 30 days of thanks… extravaganza? Or maybe it’s just 30 Days of Thanks. That sounds more like it. Either way, I want to do that thing where you vocalize, literally or electronically, something you are thankful for each day.

Most people do this through a Facebook post or a tweet, but being the long-winded writer that I am I’m anticipating wanting to elaborate a bit more so I’ll use the ol’ blog to get the word out. This will also give me a true challenge, to write every day for 30 days.

Join me on a 30 day journey of reflection and deep-hearted thanks. I encourage you to join in the extravaganza!

(I’m a few days behind, so I’m going to spitfire Days 1-4 and get on track with one post per day starting tomorrow).

Day 1

This face/person/soul:

 

petal 1

 

Brad Light. I don’t know what I did to find him. Whatever celestial magic that brought him my way, to “you” I say thank you. I am thankful for his spirit, his silliness, his sense of humor, his tenderness, his gentleness, his handsomeness, his goodness, his curly brown hair, his horned-rim glasses, his love of the sea, his quest for adventure, his love of his family, his love of cats, his delicious stir-frys, his understanding, and more than anything I’m thankful that he loves me. Again, celestial magic. It’s a thing. I love you to the moon and back Brad.

Day 2

These squishy fluffy faces:

Kitties

 

It is an excellent idea to live with cuddly animals. They teach you about unconditional love. They challenge you to take care of something precious other than yourself. They encourage you to embrace empathy for non-human creatures, which then translates to empathy for human creatures too. These are truths for me. I am so grateful for my two kitties, Sharky and Mr. Wizard. Now if only they loved each other as much as we love them. Maybe next year.

Day 3

My running route:

Last night Brad and I finished a glorious 10 mile run along the beach. Around mile 4 the sun was setting over the Pacific and Brad says to me “if anyone told me when I was a kid that one day I’d get to run along the beach next to my fiance as the sun sets over the ocean, I’d have been able to suffer through a lot more pain with a smile on my face knowing where I’d eventually end up.” Isn’t that the lesson we all need. First of all, when life sucks, as it often does, you are never without the tiny kernel of knowledge that somehow it will get better. It just will. And that maybe all of the hard times are necessary, as they are leading to something more wonderful than you could imagine. So today I am grateful for where those hard times and wrong turns have landed us. In a little apartment on the Pacific with the most glorious running path two runners could ask for.

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Day 4

I am grateful for the fall.

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Today I woke up and I knew it would feel like fall (as much as it CAN feel like fall in Los Angeles). Brisk autumn days are something I miss so terribly living in L.A. Some people get bummed out by a lack of sunshine. I get bummed out by too much. I like the seasons to obey the seasons and Southern California is the land of eternal summer. Bummer. Today I have a scarf around my neck, and I wore a jacket to work. I noticed some leaves falling off trees, and the shadows are extra long. Today, it feels like California fall and it may only last until about 3:00 pm, but I’ll take it. I’ll savor it.

 

Sometimes I worry that acknowledging all that I’m grateful for will jinx me, and it will all fall apart. This comes from the part of my brain that is convinced I don’t deserve to be happy. Hogwash. We all deserve to be happy. But we gotta thank the universe once in a while. She won’t bite.

 

See ya tomorrow.

 

 

Happy Places

I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.

Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.

Libraries/Book stores

Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)

Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)

Disneyland

Museums/Observatories

The woods

Office supplies stores

The ocean

On my couch with my fiance and my cats

London

I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.

As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.

How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.

  1. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
  2. I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
  3. I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.

I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.

I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.

So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.

If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”

I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

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On our beach. Happy.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

Michael's (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Michael’s (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can't you tell by our faces? Happy places.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can’t you tell by our faces? Happy places.

A Friday night with my boys. Completely perfect happy place.

A Friday night with my guys. Completely perfect happy place. Although Sharky doesn’t look too happy 🙂

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that's going to be one helluva happy place.

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that’s going to be one helluva happy place.

new year, new RUNNING goals

Hello there faithful readers! Been awhile. I need to force myself to get back into the habit of writing more often because when I don’t, I miss it, and I feel all ooky and empty inside. Just like anything else it takes discipline to sit down and write everyday which is exactly what writers need to do if they are serious about their craft. I guess I just haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. The antidote to that problem is certainly not to spend hours in excess on social media while ingesting multiple episodes of The Walking Dead, although if you guessed my logic to curing writer’s block based on recent behavior, you may think so. Nope, the couch is a killer to creativity and I’m getting off of it. Today I want to talk about the opposite of laziness that is currently permeating the running community. Goal setting time!

The start of a new year brings a wave of eagerness and optimism. We runners sit down and set our running and racing goals for the year with enthusiasm and gusto. We reflect on goals missed and/or met in the previous year and make plans to either exceed those goals or to do better to accomplish them. It’s a time of high expectations and while it may be easy to write down in a journal that “I’m going to run 15 miles per week,” the reality sets in quickly that it’s far more difficult to actually accomplish. So how do we avoid this trap? How do we not only make running goals for the year but take action to meet them? Some runners simply have the discipline needed to do exactly that. They say they’re going to do something and they do it. I need more accountability or the couch and my favorite television shows slowly but surely suck me in to their grasp. May I offer my favorite tool for accountability as a tip to all you runners starting off the new year with a long list of goals? Sign up for a race. And one that happens soon.

Ideally I would have posted about this a few months ago and advised you to sign up for a race that happens in January. This is the first year I’ve done just that and man has it helped me to start the running year off right! Normally in January I’m slowly easing out of holiday mode and maybe getting in a few 3 mile runs a week if I’m lucky. This year I’m signed up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on January 20 and I need a lot more than 3 mile runs to get ready. Admittedly I’m behind on my training but I knew that coming into the New Year. I knew that I would need to make these three weeks before race day count. The challenge would be to put in enough miles to be ready for the race without injuring myself. So far, I’m kicking butt.

The reason I say either run a race in January or one that happens as soon as possible in the new year is because if you don’t, you’re not really avoiding the trap. Don’t get me wrong, taking that step to sign up for a race and challenge yourself is always a good thing but if the race isn’t until October then you’re not really lighting the fire under your butt to get out and run NOW. Don’t allow procrastination to present itself as an option. Immediacy is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think you should sign up for a distance you’re not ready for. You can’t go from holiday slug to marathon runner in a month. If you’ve been sluggish the past few months, sign up for a 5k that happens in February. Not quite a slug but still emerging from a slow holiday pace? How about a 10k before March 1st? You know your limits and your abilities. The most important thing right now as we start the new year is just to get out there and run, and for me a countdown to a race that I’m excited about really holds me accountable to that.

There are other ways to hold yourself accountable if your bank account is a little dry after the holiday shopping season and those entry fees are just a bit too much. Why not get a running partner and schedule runs together? You’re more likely to get up out of bed when that alarm goes off at 6:00 am if your friend is waiting for you outside. There are many ways to creatively motivate yourself. The most important thing is to figure out how to make your running goals a priority. For me, accountability comes in the form of pixie dust.

I can state with almost certainty that I won’t be setting any PRs at the upcoming Tink Half. The relief is that I’m totally OK with that. This is another important New Year’s lesson. Not every race has to be a record-setter. Sometimes it’s more important just to finish than to finish first. That’s my goal for this Half Marathon. I want to have fun. I want to finish. I don’t care about my time. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that’s a strange thing for me to say. I’m just excited to get 2013 off to a running start! 🙂

Speaking of running at Disney, it’s an exciting time of year for we runDisney fans! Not only is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon coming up in just a week and a half, but bigger news is that the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is happening this Sunday! I still haven’t found it in me to sign up for a marathon but I know that when I do I want my first to be the WDW Marathon. I love connecting with all of my runDisney pals on Twitter and it’s been very cool to see the feeds exploding in excitement for this weekend’s upcoming events. I’m thinking of all of you! Especially everyone running the Goofy Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, check it out: if you sign up for the Goofy Race and Half Challenge then you run the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday. It’s called Goofy for a reason! Have fun out there and I can’t wait to read all of your race reports in the blogosphere!

One more bit of quick business about the upcoming Half Marathon. I need a costume. Now, it’s called the Tinker Bell Half Marathon so there is an obvious costume choice built right into the title. I’m certain there will be literally thousands of Tinker Bells running the race. My instinct is twofold. On the one hand I want to do something different to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, HOW CAN I TURN DOWN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS TINKER BELL? Yeah, I don’t care if I’m one in 10,000, I gotta dress up as Tinker Bell.

an afternoon in Neverland

an afternoon in Neverland