She Looks Strong

A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing the “new nonfiction” books at my local library, and I picked up one with a picture of a super fit girl on the cover. It was called “The Badass Body Diet” by Christmas Abbott (Crossfit Star). I don’t think I have EVER read a diet book, or had any desire to, but this chick looked so strong and fit, that I decided to check it out.

Two weeks later, and I’ve read the entire thing. This “diet” she follows is no joke. Thankfully, you don’t have to count calories! BUT…you do need to weigh your food. Ummm…who has time for that?! 

Anyway, even though it seems entirely daunting and nearly impossible, there is a part of me that really wants to give it a try. Why??? Because she has me convinced that if I follow her meal plan, I will build more muscle…guaranteed. And maybe that in itself wouldn’t convince me, but let me show you a picture of her, and maybe you’ll feel the way I do…

Look at those muscles! Ah-mazing.

So, while I was out on my solo run today after work, on a local rails-to-trails path where a teenage girl was murdered while taking her dog for a walk last year, I found myself wishing I was stronger than I am. 

My trusty pepper spray was in my right hand, where I always carry it. However, I couldn’t help but notice how many men were out on the trail, while I only came across one other woman. I kept imagining that if any of them were creepers, I really hoped they were thinking, “Ya. I’m going to leave that one alone. She looks strong.” But, in reality, I don’t think that’s the case. 

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to follow a meal plan where I weigh my food in order to gain muscle and give people the impression that I’m a total bad a$$. (I mean, as you can tell by this picture, I’m well on my way…)

Hahaha! Just kidding! 

But in all seriousness, I want to be stronger. I want to feel confident that I can protect myself in any situation. And, I definitely want to be able to stop allowing those thoughts to even creep into my head while I’m out in the sunshine enjoying a run on a beautiful day.

It’s time to make it happen!

Sparkle.Pounce.Look strong.Be strong.


***Side note: When I talked to my husband about these thoughts that go through my head while I’m out on a run, he was completely surprised and said he’d never even thought about that. I’m thinking I’m not alone in being a woman who feels vulnerable while I’m out on a solo run. I don’t like it, and it’s not fair, but it’s reality. So, we need to be strong and ready for any situation that comes our way!

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get There

This morning at 10:00 AM, I got to submit my application to run the Boston Marathon in April of 2016. I will be waiting to receive an email sometime in the next week that will either confirm my spot, or regretfully inform me that the race filled up with people who are faster than me, and I didn’t make the cut.

Yesterday, on my family’s drive to church, I told my husband that I got to apply to register for Boston today. I was explaining the process to him when my 9 year old son, Liam, overheard the conversation and said, “If Mom qualifies, do we get to go to a Red Sox game?!” I quickly corrected him and said that I DID qualify, I just wasn’t sure I was going to be chosen to run it yet. Let’s ignore the fact that going to a Red Sox game would definitely be the highlight of my husband’s trip to Boston as well as my sons’…

And then the “tough love” started:

How much did you beat your qualifying time by?
I can’t believe you walked.
If I would’ve been there I wouldn’t have told you it was “okay” because I know you could have kept running.

My husband REALLY believes in me (probably more than I believe in myself…) …but he doesn’t believe in not giving your all or in giving up.

I quickly became defensive though:

That was a 20 minute PR for me!
I was by myself! Everyone else had pacers jumping in the race and helping them stay focused.
I still qualified!

Since the Bayshore Marathon, where I finished 1 minute and 1 second under my qualifying time, I have put a lot of thought into whether or not I gave it my all. Could I have finished faster? Did I really need to walk? What happened?

And the only answer I can honestly give is that I could have done better. It really wasn’t my body that was falling apart, it was the thoughts in my head. They convinced me that the wind was too strong, my pace was too slow, and I couldn’t do it.

So, as I filled out my online application this morning, I was filled with a mixture of emotions. First, I was super excited to even be getting the chance to fill out the application. Because, in the end, I DID qualify for the Boston Marathon. A feat that just 1 year ago, I did not think I would ever accomplish. And when I saw this post from a fellow runner in my Instagram feed today, it made me appreciate that opportunity even more. 

Because I know it is not an easy accomplishment, and there are many people who have tried and just missed the mark, and many more people who wish they could even attempt it, but are physically unable. So for that, I am beyond thankful.

Determination is another emotion that I’m filled with today. I know my husband is right. I can run faster. I can be stronger, mentally and physically. When I crossed the finish line at the Bayshore Marathon I had tears in my eyes. And when my sister asked me why I was crying, I said, “Because I don’t want to do this again! I don’t want to run this fast. It’s not fun.”  Even at that point I didn’t say I “can’t” do this again. I just didn’t want to. Because it’s not easy. In fact, it’s really, really hard. 

But Boston is something I want. I mean, I really, really want it. And when I get there, the victory will be sweet.

Sparkle.Pounce.Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get There.


Strong Women

What makes a strong woman?

In the United States, I think a strong woman is often characterized as being independent, fit, healthy, assertive, brave, and able to multitask a million things flawlessly. 

This summer I read the memoir, A House In the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, and just finished the novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Both of these texts have given me a completely new perspective of what it means to be a strong woman, at least in other parts of the world.

Both books touch on the beliefs of extreme Muslims and how women are not allowed to leave the house unattended by a man, they must remain covered by a burqa with only their eyes unveiled if they are out of the home, they may be married off to a stranger at as young as 14 years old, and overall, they enjoy very, very few of the freedoms that women in America enjoy. 

I have to admit, I don’t know how strong I would be if I were put in that situation. 

My reality is so far removed from that. Yesterday, my husband told me that he was sure I could get my car checked out at the auto shop without an appointment if I just put on a pair of yoga pants and a running tank and found a guy to talk to when I went in. Ya. That’s where I live. 

Compared to what women are dealing with all over the world, it makes being a strong woman in the USA not seem like such a difficult task. And yet, I am thankful that God gave me two boys to raise, and no girls. Because I do think it’s hard to raise a strong woman here. 

To get it right, you need to be assertive without being a beeeeotch. You need to be an athlete without being too masculine. You need to be feminine without being a spoiled diva. You need to be stylish without being provocative. You need to be friendly without being a flirt. You need to be confident without being conceited. You need to not eat too little or too much. And on, and on, and on!!! 

In the end, no matter where you are in the world, it’s not a simple task to be a strong woman. But I do know for sure that we can make it easier on each other by being women who build each other up.

And by doing so, we are setting an example for the girls in our lives. And that, is how we can change the world.

Sparkle.Pounce.Be Strong.

**This blog is dedicated to my sister, Rondi, who just had her first baby girl, Dru Alohi, yesterday! I know she is scared to death of raising her, but I know she will raise an amazing, strong woman, just like herself.