Do It For Yourself

I returned to work on Friday full of motivation. My three-day reading training had left me feeling like I could make a profound difference in the lives of my students. So, when I found myself face to face with a class full of 8th graders that did not share in my eagerness for their success and learning, you can see how I would’ve been a bit upset.

I have worked pretty hard over these first few weeks of school to build a relationship with this particular group of kids. You might classify them as “rough around the edges,” and I find myself appreciating their uniqueness. But, Friday morning when I was riding my “I am going to teach you SO much this year” high, they totally knocked the wind right out of me. And, instead of the hour ending with a sense of success, it ended with me giving them a firm lecture. It went something like this….”I cannot make you learn anything. This is a choice you have to make. If you want to get anything out of this class, you are going to have to work at it. I cannot do this for you. You have to do it for yourself.”  GGggggrrrrr. Notice that this ggggrrrrr is not in quotes. But man, I was feeling it.

Then, Saturday morning I had another great run with my sweat sisters. We always come up with new things to chat about over the miles, and this run was no different. One of the topics that came up was how many moms get so caught up in their new role as moms that they “let themselves go.” And not just in how they look, but that their whole sense of “self” is literally gone after they have a child. None of those girls are moms yet, and they all have the fear that that could happen to them. What if they don’t have the motivation to get up at 6:00am and go for runs after they have children? What if they just don’t care about their clothes or their hair or what they look like anymore after they have kids? And, through the conversation we decided that is all comes down to the fact that you have to do it for yourself. No one is going to do it for you, but if it is a part of what makes you you, you will still do it. It’s what makes you happy and it’s time to dedicate to yourself that will make you a better you for everyone else.

So, I had two very distinct “do it for yourself” conversations/talks on Friday and Saturday. Then, this morning I was feeling somewhat guilty on my way to church because deep down I hadn’t really wanted to go to church. I just had a lot of things left on my “to do” list for the weekend and I was worried I wouldn’t have time to get them all done. So I said a little prayer on my way to church that I would be receptive to the message and not distracted by my own agenda.

And, what do you know?! The pastor had his own little lecture to give to me this morning. (Well, not just me, but it sure felt that way!) One part of the sermon was about developing a closer relationship with God. I could tell that the pastor was getting pretty fired up as he told us that he could not make our relationship with God stronger. We had to do it for ourselves. Wow. I felt like he was giving me the same talking to that I had just given to my group of 8th graders, and he was dead on. It is time for me to do the work in that area. Just showing up on Sunday morning isn’t making my relationship with God any stronger. If I want that to happen, I will have to do it for myself.

And so, my friends, that is the moral of today’s story. Whatever it is that you want or need, it’s time to do it for yourself. No one else can do it for you. 

Do it for yourself

Pretty Much Perfect

Over the last 5 days I have found myself really thinking about things more deeply than normal. I like it. I’m not sure exactly what has brought about this change, but I hope I linger in this place for a while. 

It started on Saturday, after my long run. The schedule said we were supposed to run 9 miles on Saturday, which seemed a bit too short to us. So, we decided we’d do 14. Well, we ended up running 11. It was probably the most entertaining training run of my life. All 5 of us that are running the 50K ultra marathon together in 9 days were there, plus another friend who just finished her first 50 mile race (WOOT! WOOT!). It was a 7:00am Saturday morning run, which no one was thrilled about, but we’re busy girls with more on our weekend schedule than running, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Luckily, LA showed up with a dozen donuts! Granted, no one really wanted one before the run, but I at least pretended to be excited and ate half of one before we headed out on the trails. Immediately upon entering the woods it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be a quick run through the forest. There were trees down blocking the trails all over the place. We were doing an equal amount of obstacle course climbing and running. 

Here’s a picture of some of the girls trying “really” hard to move a fallen tree. Hahahahaha! Yup. We are dorks, and we love it. We also found a man-made rickshaw on the trails and decided to try it out. It was all fun and games until LA fell out. Oh wait. That was fun too! And it marked her second major fall of the day. 
After we finally completed our 11 miles of running, we celebrated in the parking lot with delicious donuts (that really did taste good at that point). And we talked about our upcoming trip to Vermont and all of the logistics. We even planned out our matching outfits. Oh. Ya.
On the drive home I couldn’t help but smile as I thought about how lucky I am to A) have such an amazing group of girls to run with that are constantly making me laugh and B) be healthy enough to be able to literally enjoy an 11 mile run. 
So that was Saturday…
Then on Monday, as I ran laps around the driveway after work, Liam started talking to me about the weather. “Is it hot?” he yelled. 
“NO, it’s not hot,” I yelled back.
“Is it cold?” he asked.
“Nope. Not too cold either.”
“It’s pretty much perfect,” he said.
And once again, I just started thinking about how perfect it really was. Yes, the weather was perfect, but not just that. Everything. My new home is pretty much perfect. My new job is pretty much perfect. My family is pretty much perfect. Ah….another moment.
Then on Tuesday I started a 3 day training called EBLI (Evidence Based Literacy Instruction). There were only about 12 people there for training, and before the class started I noticed an old woman standing in the back of the room. She seemed too old to be a teacher and I watched her husband (I assumed) tell her to take good notes, and hug her, give her a kiss, and walk out. Hmmmm….that was odd for a teacher training…
Once the training began, everyone had to take a turn introducing themselves and tell what school they were from and what grades they taught. When it was the old woman’s turn to share, she stated that her grandson was having a very difficult time with his reading and that she was there so that she could help him. 
Gulp. This was a $1500 training, and this old woman was there solely for her 9 year old grandson because nothing else has helped him successfully learn how to read. My heart was so happy for that little boy, and once again it got me thinking. The first thing that I thought about was a different little boy that I tested last week on his letters. When I pointed to the letter “F” he told me that he didn’t know what the letter was called, and he didn’t know what sound it made, but he knew it meant Facebook. Now, you might laugh about that, but really, it’s not funny. If we were all as concerned with the learning and development of our children as that grandmother is, the world would be a better place.
I must say that after 2 days of EBLI training I finally feel equipped with the skills necessary to help struggling readers! And that has also left me thinking… I have been a teacher for 11 years, and for the first time I really feel like I am going to be able to help that group of kids that just doesn’t pick up on reading as easily as other kids. That is an awesome feeling!
So, for those of you who have been asking, “How’s the new job?” “How’s the new house?” “How’s the new school year?”
The answer…pretty much perfect.
Did I make a difference in the life of a living breathing sentient being!

Laugh About It.

After last weekend’s 18 miles of running torture, I was understandably dreading the 20 miler that was on the training plan for Saturday morning at 6:30. First off, I feared a repeat of unexpected emergency potty breaks in the woods. Next, I was really quite sick of getting up before the sun every single day. And finally, it had been about 3 years since I’d run 20 miles and I could still remember just exactly how uncomfortable my body is with that distance. It hurts. And if anyone tells you differently, they are lying.

But it didn’t really matter that all of those fears and complaints were going through my head. I was going to do the run because that’s what I do. Sign up for races, write out a training schedule, then stick to it as closely as possible. So far this plan has gotten me to every finish line I’ve been up against!

And thank goodness I have friends that are just as crazy as me. Three of us met up at 6:30 for our 20 miler. We kicked out the first 11 miles with ease, and even picked up a 4th friend for the last 9 miles. Things were pretty relaxed and I was honestly feeling like I was on top of the world. Then, around mile 15 the aches and pains were starting to set in. Every walk break made the aching more prominent. One of my sweat sisters was having an especially difficult time. Running long distances can do this to you. It can take every ounce of self confidence you have and stomp all over it, leaving you questioning what in the world you were thinking and how in the world are you ever going to reach your goal. This is where she was at mentally. 

Luckily, I was not in that place at that moment. I was still feeling pretty good about this whole thing (heck, I hadn’t even had one “use the woods as a toilet” emergency yet!). But really, my friend was struggling with her confidence on this run. So, what are we to do in this situation? Well, if you’re me, you try to talk about lots of things that will change the subject and take everyone’s mind off of what exactly is happening at that moment. And what, you may ask, would I bring up? Well, how about the time I literally pooped my pants on an 18  mile run and had to walk home the last 2 miles quite uncomfortable? Yup, that’ll do it! Because you may feel pretty bad on this 20 mile run, but you probably aren’t going to poop your pants. And, to make it even better, I was not the only one who had a fantastically funny story about the time that, as an adult, she pooped her pants. Yup. It happens.

Lots of crappy stuff happens to us. And, when it does, we have the option to laugh about it, or cry about it. Believe me, when that actually happened, I didn’t think it was all that funny. But it sure made for a comical and distracting story at just the right time. And yes, I’ve known, and run with, these girls for about 3 years and it’s the first time those stories have been brought to the table. So let’s keep that on the DL. (***Insert winking emoticon…) 

In the end, we all finished our 20 miler feeling extremely happy to have it over with, and entirely proud to have done it. It was just a training run, but come on now, who really gets up at 5:30am on a Saturday to run 20 miles in the woods?!?!

Do what you love. Love what you do. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, have bad days, be crabby, or just feel defeated. But get back up and get back at it.

And most of all, don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. It’s so much more fun than the alternative.

Laugh at yourself!  Good for the soul!

I Think I’m Done…

Sunday morning I did something I thought I’d never do. I set my alarm for 4:30 am and got up in the dark to go on a headlamp run through the wooded trails. If you’re wondering why this is such a big deal, the answer is quite simple…I’m afraid of the dark. Yup. I admit it. Being outside in the woods at night when the sun is still sleeping totally freaks me out. But that was the only way that I could have company for my 18 mile training run, so I sucked it up and never let anyone know that I was completely terrified about the whole thing.

So, when the alarm went off at 4:30am and I wasn’t feeling well, it did not help the situation. Once again, my vertigo was giving me problems. I decided to start my morning off with some Alka Seltzer to help alleviate my spinning head. Unfortunately, my stomach didn’t like that idea and I ended up in the bathroom a few times before walking out the door at 5:00am. Ugh. That was not the start I was hoping for.

By the time I got to the trails to meet the girls I was feeling very anxious (aka…unsure and wanting to crawl back in bed) about the whole adventure. But their enthusiasm wore off a little and I was ready to hit the trails, headlamp and Camel Back in place. 


Once we started running, I have to admit that the dark woods hardly bothered me at all. We heard an owl in the distance, a deer ran across the trail ahead of us, and we even heard coyotes howling! But our lamps lit the way enough to ease my fears. The biggest problem was how awful I felt. After only 7 miles of running (and 2, YES 2!, unplanned emergency potty breaks in the woods, IN THE DARK) I was ready to say the words I had been thinking for about 6 miles, “I think I’m done.” I couldn’t stop thinking about how badly I did not want to be running anymore. I felt horrible and I just wanted to go back to bed. 

But the fact was, I was already out of bed and out in the woods running. I needed to get 18 miles of running in, one way or another (because this 50K isn’t going to run itself!). So, I continued on, thanks to the support of my sweat sisters! Let me tell you, I was NOT the most fun running buddy that morning. 

Finally, after only 13 miles of running (and 3 emergency potty breaks), I really was done. The clock said it was time for me to head to church. Once again, all I wanted to do was go back to bed. I still felt miserable. But, being a girl who likes to stick to her plans, I headed to church. Then I went home and back to bed. Two and a half hours later I woke up feeling much better and headed out to finish the last 5 miles of my run solo. I did it. 18 miles logged on Sunday, and I really was done. 

 Don't stop

 Don’t stop until you’re done.