Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Rhythm of the Run

131 Days until the Utah Valley Marathon. I'm starting to focus more seriously, especially after today's long run with the both of the girls. Well relatively speaking, it wasn't really that long, only 9 miles. This is going to be an interesting ride, to say the least. While watching the girls run youthfully and effortlessly along side me, I heard (loud and clear) my aches and pains scream "YOU'RE TOO OLD FOR THIS!" But then I remembered my own mom who was, at that very moment, completing a half marathon in Arizona at 70 years old. I'm not too old for this.

I remembered why I started running about ten and a half years ago. I remembered how putting one foot in front of the other brought me further away from stresses and closer to clarity of mind, a peaceful soul, and eventually a rested heart. I remembered that the gift to me was not that I was talented or fast, but rather that I could run with purpose. I thought of the first time I ran with the sun rising around every corner, the first time I prayed on a run, the first time I knew I wasn't alone. I recalled my first 18, 19, and 20 milers... and coming home on hot Virginia summer mornings, collapsing on the lawn, and letting the girls (then 5 and 7) spray me down with the garden hose.

10 years, 5000 more feet in altitude, and 60 fewer degrees later, I'm still running. I still love to pray when I run, I still love the promise a quiet sunrise brings, and I still put one foot in front of the other finding peace in the rhythm of the run. Why the marathon event, if the joy comes from the training runs? For me the marathon event allows me to celebrate the blessing of the run with others. The marathon is a traveling party, really, where people come to find closure to months of hard work, encourage others, and simply finish what they started.

I've driven the route of my scheduled marathon many times. I'm training mentally and physically for miles 6-8 and 20-26.2. I know the course. I know when I will hurt, and when I will be tempted to walk, when I will want to cry. I know when I'll remember to pray, quiet my mind, and really listen. I hope to accomplish a time goal at this race. I hope to qualify for Boston, or, at the very least break 4 hours. I hope that real focus, for the first time, will pay off. I hope at the finish line, I will find something I've been looking for, for over a decade.

And then what? Then begins a new chapter and decade of running in my life, and I'll likely find the very same gift of peace and clarity then as I do now. The steady stepping will carry me through seasons of packed snow, muddy puddles, hot roads, crunchy leaves. I'll hear in my mind, hymns to the beat of the run, answers to prayers, and sometimes nothing at all. Dusty trails, paved roads, and even the treadmill will continue to yield a brighter life experience in general if I am willing to always take one more step. It doesn't have to be fast or strong. Just one more step.

My happy time today? Remembering the blessings that come through effort in general.
My sad time? Remembering that the greater the blessing, the greater the required effort.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Progress on #38!!!

Nowhere near finished, but I am making significant strides in one of this year's goals. #38 on my "Bucket List." Just for fun, I thought I'd share some of the things I've done in regard to organization in my home. I have no brilliant ideas, nothing new or fancy, and certainly nothing that costs much in the way of money. But some tried and true tricks that are working wonders in our home.

Project #1: My shower. I invested in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and to make it easier to do a quick wipe-down after use. Words can not express my love for this. I wish I had more thumbs to give it, but for now, it's two thumbs up. You can get it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Project #2: The garage. Space above the car has been put to good use, with an overhead hanging rack. We store items there that we use less often, but use more than we would like to go to the basement or attic. We actually have space for more, and are considering purchasing another. Well worth it, and can be found at Home Depot.

Project #3: Kitchen cupboards. I do not like cluttered messes of lids. I use this dish rack above my ovens on one side of the pots cupboard, to keep lids easily accessible and somewhat organized. Obviously, right now many of my lids are in the dishwasher.

Also in the kitchen, I use plastic cereal containers both for freshness as well as organization. It seems to me that random cereal boxes when left in their original box, end up getting spilt, smashed, and somehow lost in the pantry. Using containers seems to demand order and consistency when they are returned. Not to mention, the cereal stays fresher.

Project #4: Medicine cabinet. Ours was a very unorganized, disaster of a collection of old, expired meds mixed with this and that. Once I cleaned things out, I put in a "lazy susan" to store things used more often so we can easily spin through and find it when we need it. Extra space in the cupboard stores other first-aid and emergency equipment like flashlights, skin care, etc...

Project #5: Entry. First, I started with the coat closet. It was awful. After I gutted it, I simply added 3 baskets on the shelf above the coats for running items I like to grab quickly on my way out, winter hats and mittens, and misc. items. I also added a couple of organizing cubbies below the coats which are stacked on the floor for winter boots, snow pants, etc.

We brought a small dresser into the entry which has great drawer space for misc. items to be stored. I use these drawers for Benny's arts and crafts, puzzles, and other materials, but others might use space like this for purses, keys, or whatever.

Project #6: Clutter. Benny has a lot of toys that ALWAYS end up in the family room. Sometimes I need a quick place to stash them when people come over, if I don't have time to be running up and down the stairs to put them away. We had a chest that was once just for decorative use, but now it's filled with these migrating toys. I really like to keep it in front of the fireplace, but, during the winter WE are usually in front of the fireplace. Now we tuck it away behind the chair, and it doesn't cost us any more space. Benny even helps "cleannup" now, he likes to latch the lock.

Project #7: More clutter. We don't really have a great room for toys, so Benny's room is really his only playroom (except for when he brings his toys downstairs...). I had to figure out two things here. One, was how to make good use of the corner in his room where the roof cuts off a sizable chunk of standing space. Obviously, I chose to put two end tables side by side. This is his puzzle and "quiet corner" now.

The second issue? How to organize the books and toys. A simple solution was found at the grocery store. Baskets for toys, organized by type, and books left out. Benny knows which baskets are for which toys, and where on the shelf each basket belongs. I really believe that even at just 2 years old, people prefer structure and organization when given the option.

Project #8: The laundry room. Dreaded place, once, as it was too small to do what needed to be done in there. And while it hasn't grown any, I can work better with the washer and dryer stacked. Also, there is a place to keep the ironing board out at all times for a quick press if needed. I store a divided hamper in there for towels, sheets, and dishrags. The hamper is easily wheeled out if I need to iron, and nicely tucked in when I don't.

Project #9: Pictures. I have never been a real fan of the collage frame until recently. Michaels has (and often at 60% off), collage frames like none other. They are beautiful, in my opinion, and allow me to display the moments I never want to forget. Below are a couple examples, and a close up so you can see how each picture isn't just matted within the frame, it is framed within the frame!

Project #10: Toddler proofing. I love having a little one around, but sometimes I just have to draw the line of when and where it's okay to go (aka make messes)! Hence, the slide-locks on the doors to places like the pantry, laundry room, DVD closet, etc... So far so good, he hasn't bothered to go to the effort of pulling up a chair to unlock.

Also, Benny uses the "public" bathroom downstairs. I picked up this stool for his hand-washing. He can move it around on his own, it goes with the room, and most importantly, it has a cubby! The top step lifts and underneath is a nice little place for misc. bathroom necessities. I love secret hiding places for random storage!

Last but not least, I tucked shampoos, soaps, razors, and other dangerous things of interest to a toddler into a basket and store them under the sink behind a latched door. While I was at it, I painted the walls and made some curtains. My bathroom has a whole new look now. It was fun to do a quick and rewarding facelift on the bathroom, after lots of organizational work!

I still have a looooong way to go before I'm done, but I am pleased with the progress so far, to organize my home better. I can honestly say, that things appear to be STAYING organized as well. When the family can clearly see where things belong, they make an effort to keep it orderly. I should have done this years ago! I feel addicted, however, and am not sure I'll ever want to stop sorting, dumping, cleaning, painting, filing, labeling, preparing, mending...

"Organize yourselves, prepare every needful thing"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reality Check

Today Tori's school, Maeser, held their annual "Winterfest." For three weeks in January each student gets to choose a subject to study full-time and then ultimately display their works at this event. Tori chose "Meditation and Photography" and created an incredibly beautiful and meaningful picture book that included some insightful thoughts on reality that were truly calming to me. I so appreciated her message.

Tori is right. Reality is often over-looked as we shoot for the picture perfect life, and work for greatness in this way or that. But perfection does not have to come all at once. We are all different, and it would do us good to stop and appreciate the different stages of life we are each in, share the valuable experiences we have had, and take in the deeper insights others may have to offer us. I must admit, generally speaking I'd like to portray mine as a cartoon-ized, song-filled, Disney-ish life. But the truth is, those bold colors and perfectly outlined images are often muted with feelings, emotions, and even pains of reality that life yields. My life-scene, though not always balanced with bouncy, bubbly music and perfectly genius conversation, is real and wonderful things are coming from it.

This makes me think of when I was a little girl and my Mom would tuck me into bed with two questions. "What was your happy time today?" and "What was your sad time?" I never liked the second question. I would have liked to have hidden everyone's sadness and heartaches and go on believing we all lived in some kind of Disneyland where every day had a happy ending. Overly sensitive, I was (and am)... but there is wisdom and power in acknowledging reality and accepting it. I believe that deep within the quiet and still spaces of our hearts and minds, grow the strong and very real roots of character, strength, power, love, selflessness, and peace.

So... my happy time for today? This gentle reminder. And some dreaming of future happy days with Dania ;o) And my sad time? The realization that I have not always welcomed the opportunity to exist and accept myself and/or others in the "now" and instead have spent an awful lot of time pushing toward goals--some meaningful, some meaningless. Wasted time. Thank goodness for the blessing of a new day ahead, bearing more moments to "be" in, and experience with the amazing people in my life.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


While playing hide and seek again with Benny this morning I wished I could freeze time. Looking into his excited eyes when mine met his, I remembered the moments like this, savored with the girls when they were small-- now they are dreaming of building memories with children of their own. The motivation to keep timeless experiences more, and rush less grows inside of me the older I get. Look deeper, connect longer, create beauty, know peace, love others... something whispers.

Goal oriented? Yes I am, but not so much that I'll forget the "now" in my days. I found this posted on facebook today, a great reminder of how to create a life with no regrets... enjoying the smallest and most meaningful gifts in life. Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Having it all together

I saw an adorable wall hanging today at the grocery store. "Family--we may not have it all together, but together we have it all!" Some days are better than others, for sure. There are days when juggling two high school schedules, two careers, and a two year-old can be complicated and I may not always feel in complete control of my surroundings.

BUT, at the end of the day when one by one each of the family members come home, and things to-do are checked, and concerts and meets and events have been attended, and bedtime routines have begun, and the lights are low, and the prayers are said, and the songs begin... I remember. My dream life of being a mom is real. It's really now it's really here and I really love it. Since I was a kid, I dreamed of the day I would get to bring children into my world, and in turn be an active part of theirs.

I love my one-on-one time with each of the kids, and of course Dave. Dave and I drive a lot. What better place than Utah for incredible scenery that NEVER gets old (if only WE would never get old!) I walk with Dania often, our typical route goes from home, around the temple, and back. A little over 6 miles. Amazingly heartfelt and unforgettable moments have come on this loop. Tori and I enjoy movies or nature in various forms. We really like to hike or jog trails together. We don't have to talk too much, but I cherish the quiet moments my heart feels close to hers. As is appropriate for this age, Benny and I play the 2 year-old version of Hide and Seek. I love his squeal and total thrill when our eyes meet around the corner.

So while our lives may seem to go in all directions during the day, and we may not have it "all-together" all the time, it is indeed true that when we are together, we have it all.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Start, and An Old Promise.

New starts at the New Year, and old promises... this is such a great season. Everyone needs a chance to choose to change in some way, start fresh, and at the same time remember the one thing that will never change: the love our Father in Heaven has for us and the encouragement He offers as we set out to do the best we can in our pursuits. What a blessing we have in His promise to always be with us. I will rely on His consistency and strength this year, just as I have every year.

Specifically, as I set out to complete numbers 1, 38, and 39 on my "Bucket List" (see tab on side if you're curious). This will take a little bravery as well as planning, patience, late nights, and early mornings when the house is quiet. But I really want to complete all three of these items this year. After all, it's just as has been said before, we regret most, that which we didn't do...

So here I go, best foot forward. Updates on my progress are sure to follow!