Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wardrobe Angst


 I have nothing to wear.

Cause that is one corner of the closet of someone who has a shortage of wearable clothing. I replay those old standard lines in my head, missing the forest for the trees.

These days I spend my money on a clothing all right, just not the kind a girl would wear out and about. I have work clothes, I have have church attire, and I have run gear.

 But when it comes to casual wear, I don't have much between casual fleece and office sweaters. Truth be told, I don't often need them. Rarely do I go out that a fresh sports bra and race tee don't count as "cleaning up."

This past December, I found myself singing the same ole song. I've got nothing to wear. I'm fat. I wish I weren't poor. None of those things is true, but I find myself easily defaulting to those tired lines.

Since fashion isn't something that excites me, I decided to change my attitude. Why stand out, when you were born to fit in? I don't mean personality-wise. I am me. The older I get the more I'm okay with that. Happy with it even.

Struggling to look cute is not something I'm okay with. For one Christmas party, I opted for the standard black and white sweater with a red scarf. Nothing that was memorable for anyone but me. And I loved it. It was comfortable, the appropriate level of dressiness, and left me feeling that my wardrobe was a non-issue.

Then for Christmas my hubby got me a super-cute tee with skulls on it. Please forgive my goozle in the above pic. Its our family curse. As my cousin so lovingly said that day "You're not fat, you've just got bad genes."

But back to wardrobe. My sis and her family got me a super cute scarf set.

A bit of unintentionally twinning - paring a plain pink tee with a cute scarf. Both of these things got me thinking - maybe I'm over thinking this fashion stuff. Me over-thinking anything? Not exactly a stretch for anyone who knows me to believe.

As my 35 birthday rapidly approaches, I'm starting to think I won't be stuck in an athletic wear wardrobe after all.

What's your personal style? Do you try to be trendy? Classic? Or do you see clothes as a way to not be arrested for indecent exposure?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Inventory of Gifts

Having grown up in the church since 9 months before I was born, I'm very familiar with those Spiritual Gift surveys. I'm not sure who writes the questions or determines the answers, but I've always felt like it was the equivalent of taking a quiz in my latest Seventeen magazine.

I could skew the tests, providing a more favorable outcome. Or else just be straight forward yet not leave with much greater knowledge than I already have. Either way my gifts never fell into the "nursery" or "church kitchen" categories, so I felt like any special abilities I had weren't very useful in my church context.

In my twenties, I really struggled to find a place to fit. Given the married/singles segregation in the church, I found myself thrust into a label which felt more like a prison sentence. Whatever gift the Holy Spirit endowed upon me when He saved me at age 8, I prayed that it wasn't connected to the "gift of singleness" Paul talked about (and our teachers defaulted to, as a lame way of assuring us we weren't the island of the misfit toys).

At age 34, having counted myself as a follower of Christ for 26 years, I'm still not sure I know what my gift is. I'm pretty sure translating what British actors are saying doesn't count as the gift of tongues. I once had a Bible Study teacher suggest my gift could be mercy. I'm still making fun of her for that one.

Late last year my Bible study leader asked if I would be interested in teaching the class in the future. I'm not shy in the least. Add to that my love for reading and comprehending the Bible and she got a solid maybe answer from me.

I prayed about it, asking for humility and wisdom. A few weeks later, I found myself agreeing to teach in January. Given a variety of dates, I chose one without looking at the content our quarterly study guide had already laid out.  

Much like those in the Bible who cast lots, the lesson was chosen for me rather than me choosing the lesson. The subject? Lust.

I think it goes without saying, but the lesson was a difficult one for me. Not because lust is top on my list of sins - unless coveting a husband who cooks falls under the "lust" category. (Our study guide didn't seem to think so, but some other commentaries on the original words used for both covet and lust did.)

Rather this lesson was difficult because I'm a prude, and this is one of those sins most aren't willing to fess up about. Typically we have an easy conversation in class - prompted by our great teacher with scripture shaping the direction of the talk. Thankfully, though, they weren't completely silent on the matter, and I managed to make it through the class mostly unscathed.

What followed, however, surprised me. On the drive home, I received a text from the teacher asking if I considered teaching a spiritual gift. I didn't make as much fun of her as I did the teacher who suggested mercy, but I did brush off the suggestion.

Only she really is an incredible teacher/disciple maker, and pushed me further. If not teaching, then what is my spiritual gift? 

I'm still not entirely convinced, but the most recent BuzzFeed quiz puts Teaching, Knowledge, and Giving at the top of my list. I'm not sure what I think about the results. But the follow up test? Totally spot on.

Do you know your spiritual gift? 
How did you go about discovering your talents - supernatural or otherwise?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Trophy Wife Nightmares

Warning: Crazy dream ahead

 No, I'm not talking about Boston Qualifying.

I'm talking about the movies my mind makes when I'm asleep. This past week I've had 2 weird ones.

Two nights ago, I dreamed of a blood and guts. It seemed as if I did the shooting, yet somehow the bullet passed through the other person in the dream and then through my side. I can't remember who or why, only that the dream was one which felt incredibly real.

When I awoke, I had a pain in my side. This, of course, gives me a chicken/egg question - did I dream about being shot because of the pain in my side? Or did my brain convince my side that it was injured?

Last night I had an even more scary dream - me, preggers. I didn't know how far along. But it was my second night of dreaming about something that terrifies me and I hope to never experience. This time I awoke to a full bladder, which was probably the cause of the strange dream.

I've read up a bit on dream interpretations, but am not an expert by any means. My guess is that I'm feeling out of control in my life and am worried about possible outcomes. Is this more of my marathon anxiety? The race is the only think I'm consciously worried about, but who knows what lies in the innermost recesses of this brain!

My 5 minutes is up, so I'm heading over to link up with Jaime. What's on your mind this weekend? Be sure to let me know if you write a stream post. I'd love to check it out.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Three Easy Ways to Be Blessed

Don't ya just hate those blog titles that barely have anything to do with what the blog post is about, but try to draw the reader in and commit to reading before its too late? Me too. *wink*

Instead of my standard Thursday list of thankfulness for the past week, I wanted to expound a bit as to exactly how these three things have brightened my life.

1) My Love

This past weekend an attraction near our house opened. My darling love, who likes the business on Facebook, saw that they were running a $5 special on Saturday. 

We certainly didn't want to miss out on a great deal, so we headed that way and stood in line for an hour. The weather was beautiful this past weekend, but as the sun went down the air started to get crisp.

I was in the first car, then Jay, then a buddy of mine who came over to hang out on Saturday. Not exactly date night, but I certainly and grateful that Jay likes my friends and vice versa.

2) Fitness

While it may see odd to be thankful for something I often consider a chore, or whine about completing, I'm very thankful for the role fitness plays in my life.

Whether its bundling up to enjoy a run outside with friends, taking it to the treadmill for some easy solo miles, or even heading to the fitness center for a class, I'm blessed to be healthy enough for activity.

This week, I've found myself pushing through the hard miles, basking in the strong miles, and enjoying nature as I've logged miles in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sometimes music gives me a tranquility when I'm able to zone out and focus on the music. Other times my accomplishments help me realize just what I'm capable of when I put my mind to it.

3) Friends

Last Tuesday for a friend's birthday, we headed to Knoxville to enjoy a night of Painting with a Twist. The perfectionist in me hates arts and crafts. If I don't get everything exactly perfect, I quickly grow frustrated with myself.

The instructor did a good job with step-by-step directions on how to achieve the look we were going for - included how to get the faded effect as seen in the starter picture of my art, with only 2 colors of blue and a dab of white.

The "twist" helped me tell my inner-mean-girl to be quiet as I made the imperfections into really cool aspects of the painting. Of course anything can be fun with these girls. I am certainly grateful God brought them into my life!

What blessings have you found noteworthy 
in your life this past week??

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Trail Report - Lead Cove to Rocky Top/Thunderhead

As copied/pasted from my original blog, the first (and only) time we successfully completed this trail:

Yes, the Rocky Top that the song was named after.  If you don't know which song I'm taking about your local University has obviously never played the University of Tennessee in any sort of sporting event.  Its the  most annoying song in the world song the band plays after every touch down at Vols games. 

No, I'm  not singing it.  I'll have it in my head all day.  If you wanna know about a moonshine still or a girl that's half bear the other half cat then you'll just have to google it.  Google is your friend.

Since then, my hiking buddies and I have unsuccessfully attempted to find our way back to Rocky Top on two different occasions (but I can only find the blog report for one). We decided to take another trail to start our journey off this time.

I stuffed my Flat Stanley into my backpack before we headed onto the trail. Unlike the Anthony's Creek path, this one got steep in the first 2 miles. Once we turned right onto the Bote Mountain Trail, the terrain flattened out and began our comfortable, gradual assent.

With each trail sign, we stopped to read the directions (saved on our fearless leader's phone as a picture), and calculate at what mile marker we should be anticipating another transition.

On the accent, we skipped Spence Field and headed straight for Rocky Top. While it was my no means an easy trek, my memories of a practically impassible trail weren't quite accurate. Its amazing what a difference a bit of iron in the bloodstream can do! 

The weather and visibility made it a perfect day for this hike. With temperatures starting at 30* and rising through the morning our snack perch was lovely. How can you beat PB&J sandwiches, good company, and stellar views?

Last time we completed this hike, my hiking buddies went on to Thunderhead while I rested. They told me it wasn't anything remarkable, but while we were there I wanted to go ahead and at least say I saw it.

They were right. It was so unimpressive I didn't even bother to snap a picture.

We decided to do our hot lunch at the Spence Field shelter. Since my companions have decided to get into backpacking, they had a flash-something-or-other cup which boils water. Maybe its a flash boil. Anywho. We made Ramen noodles and hot chocolate then just hung out around the shelter enjoying the day.

We all felt strong this hike, and were able to keep a great pace. This gave us plenty of time before having to head down and off the trail.

This hike was perfect in all ways - rate of difficulty, average pace, weather, and visibility. I only wish Jay would have been able to join us for the fun.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Marathon of Doubt

Confession: This is actually Stream o'Friday. Scheduling the post because I have a busy day tomorrow. I just hope I can remember/find the time to link up with Jaime.


Things are really starting to pick up with marathon training. I'm not sure why, but over these past couple weeks the mileage has finally started to feel "real." The mid-week runs are up to 7 miles now - given they only climb to 8, I feel like I'm almost there.

Of course we ran 15 miles for our long run last weekend, given us another 7 weeks to build an additional 5 miles. Maybe its been so long since I've done 20 I've forgotten how daunting it is, or else my body has just grown accustom to the mileage.

Last round - Covenant 2014 - I didn't even complete a 20 miler. 4 weeks before the race I ran the Whitestone 30K, rounding my mileage up to 19. Then the week of the 20, I chose to ran my annual South Carolina half marathon instead. Intending to add miles before or after, but they just never happened.

Part of me is nervous. Historically I've PRed at every marathon I've ran. Each time I've progressed leaps and bounds as a runner, so naturally my time has improved. As my body has adjusted, 26.2 seems more natural. BUT

What if that's not the case for this race? What if I train more than I've ever trained before and my result falls short of my hopes?

I suppose the optimist would view it as a win/win. Either I do get faster, proving to myself that dedication to a training plan can pay off.

or else

I realize that my body doesn't require as high mileage in order to run the distance, leading to me running more marathons, whilst training less.

Before anyone says it - yes, I know I think/stress/worry to much about a hobby that's supposed to be fun. I'm trying to just enjoy the experience, and for the most part I'm succeeding. Every now and again, however, those pesky little doubts pop up.

So - what's on your mind this weekend? 
If you decide to do a SOCS post, be sure to let me know so I can read it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting the Ball Rolling

My goal for the new year was to get back into my blog routine - both posting and reading. While I've been posting 2-3 times a week, I don't feel like I've really gotten back to the heart of why I love writing.

Sure, it only takes a few minutes to posts some pictures, a quick list, or a 5 minute stream-of-consciousness post. What I'm struggling with, however, is the deep stuff. I love taking an idea and fleshing it out with words - bending, turning, and exploring the issue.

I've just not taken the time to do that, and I miss it.

Heck, I'm even having trouble drafting this into an actual blog post! I guess what I'm looking for is help, inspiration, encouragement. Really anything that may be in the way of assistance.

Do I lack organization, time, or is this just an manifestation of seasonal depression?
Do you have a good system for picking topics? A certain time of day devoted to blogging? 
How do you push through when blogging becomes a chore?

Typing out that last question reminds me a lot of running. Its no secret I love to run. Its also common knowledge that I'm the laziest marathoner I know. So what gives? I love the action, but I hate the idea of getting started.

Is that fear? Apathy? Anxiety? Or just busyness and lack of proper prioritization?
Maybe the answer is a written plan for blogging, much like my run training plans. A training buddy also helps. Any volunteers?

Talk to me! I need help getting this ball rolling again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Money-changers and Fashion Shows

I wrote this blog a few years ago. In Bible Study, have spent a week on each of the 7 deadly sins. This coming Sunday is Wrath, making this repost timely.

Righteous anger.  We’ve heard about it all our lives in church.  How Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, whip in hand.  How anger isn’t a sin, but how we deal with it might lead us into sin.

Only that never made much sense to me.  

Jesus didn’t deal with his anger in this particular situation calmly.  He didn’t rationally explain to the people in the temple the issues he had with them and line out a 4 step plan to making it right.  

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’[a] but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’    Matthew21:12-13

Maybe I’m the last one to this party - learning that the cause of the anger determines its sinfulness.  Then of course, how we deal with it reflects why we’re angry.  

Righteous anger has never led anyone to scream expletives.

Sadly, the more I mature, the more I understand righteous anger:

A church representative who asks the mentally handicap person to find another seat because she’s too distracting on the front row.

A church requiring those seeking membership to sign a covenant– a covenant that even Jesus couldn’t sign. 

Then there are the gray areas.  Am I being divisive or am I truly hurt on behalf of the Lord? This weekend was once such case.

Every now and then, my friends and I attend a Saturday fellowship luncheon.  The point of the event is for women to come together for fellowship.  It’s not a Bible Study, nor a sermon – just ladies coming together for a good time.

The event organizers had set up a fashion show for the luncheon.  We watched a video demonstrating all the different ways to accessorize with a scarf.  The emcees gave away beauty-related door prizes while the models changed from one outfit to another.  The models – women of all ages from the church congregation – wore outfits put together from a local retailer.

As I watched some of the women walk strut down the make-shift catwalk, turn and pose, my heart cried out.  “NO!  NO!  This is all wrong!!”  Of course I kept my mouth shut, except to shovel food in it.  

My heart hurt.

For the woman who might be in the crowd that has suffered from an eating disorder only to see her pain take the form of an answer to a high fashion crossword.

For the woman who can’t afford flashy clothes.

For the woman who will never be as beautify as the models her church has chosen, much less those in the media.  

I’m currently going through a study of how we live in this culture without being overtaken by it.  I couldn’t help but think that this show had it backwards.  After it was over, they tried to close by taking the focus off the clothes and putting it back on God.

“God thinks you are beautiful.”  

Thankfully at this point one of my friends leaned over and said to me “Really – where does it say that??” 

These women didn’t purposefully put on this show to make women feel badly about themselves.  Quite the opposite actually.  They hoped that through this show women could find small ways to be fashionable, thus making them feel better about themselves.

If I thought for a minute this wasn’t done by loving women trying to do good, I would disassociate myself with functions related to this church.  That’s not the case here.  I believe them to be very well intentioned.

My question, I suppose, is when do good intentions stop being enough?  

Where’s the line between using the exciting worship experience to draw people in and making sure that the experience doesn’t become the object of the worship?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Blessings in the New Year

I've finally caught up with my thankful posts, so this list reflects this past week, since passing my 5,000th entry.

5025) Trophy wife dinners with clients
5028) NYE morning with Jay
5033) Tree topped - 70% off sale! 
5040) Trivia Crack app

 my buddy Jay aka SID and I the night at the pasta dinner before the Pistol Ultra

5054) Inspiration to do more
5058) Sunday church with the parents
5063) NFL playoffs
5067) Coffee, bitter & strong

5071) Booking this summer's cruise
5076) my Great-Aunt Iris's legacy
5081) Gear for cold miles

For what have you been thankful this past week??

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My First Ultra Marathon - Sorta, Kinda, Not Really

I participated in the Pistol Ultra race this past weekend, but "only" logged 15 miles. While the common distances at the event are 50K (31 miles), 100K (62 miles), and 100 miles, a couple of buddies and I formed the team Run for Fun and did the 50K relay.

Friday's pre-race festivities included packet pick-up, pasta dinner, and a brief talk by Jeff Galloway.

An evening (or morning or afternoon) with these ladies guarantees plenty of laughs and general craziness, and this was no exception.

My friend Christal, who had originally signed up for the 50K, only to upgrade to the 100K, had gotten a hotel room minutes from the starting line so we had a bit of a slumber party before hand.

The restaurant right next to the hotel made my traditional pre-race beer easy, before we headed back to the hotel room. Of course we stayed up chatting until well past my bedtime, but without the pressure of a time goal of intimidating mileage, I wasn't worried.

We got to the starting line early to see Christal and Johnny (Run for Fun's runner #1) off. Estimating his pace at approximately a 9 m/m, we had about 90 minutes to kill before I ran. Back at the hotel I'd eaten a biscuit with gravy from the free breakfast, knowing that I had plenty of time to digest.

The Ultra experience is so different from other races I've participated in. Given the 30 hour time limit & chip times, people were registering/starting the race after the gun and didn't seem the least bit nervous about it. Crews had tents, tables, and mini-aid stations set up on the sidewalk near the start/finish.

Each loop (3 loops were required for the 50K distance) contained 2 out and back portions. The first was 9ish miles, and the 2nd approximately 2 miles. The runner will cross the start finish line before actually being finished. Seeing Johnny around mile 9 allowed me to get prepped before he came back up the hill for the exchange.

The out and back nature of the course also meant that very little time on the course was every spent alone. There would most always be someone faster than me headed the opposite direction, or else someone slower than me. The slower pace of the long distance made cheering for other runners far easier, and caused the miles to seem as if they were flying by!

Before I knew it, I topped the hill and headed into the exchange zone. I'm currently training for a spring marathon and my training plan called for 14 miles, and my relay leg only netted me 11. I decided to accompany Amy for a mile or 2 before heading back to the start/finish.

2 miles into the course (mile 13 for me) I stopped at the aid station my buddy Blaik was working, but Amy continued on the course. I ate some pretzels, had a cup of Dr. Pepper before turning around and heading back to the start finish line. The aid stations were top notch when it came to fuel!

While I should have been changing into dry clothes and stretching, I found myself along the side of the route, cheering runners as they approached the start/finish. Very few were actually done, but were glad to accept cheers as they began a new lap of their journey.

Amy finished up strong for the team as we accompanied her across the finish line. Then it was time to report in our time, collect our medals, and start planning to run the full 50K next year.

I'm still not sure what our official time was, but we were 8 out of 24 total teams. Not bad for 3 crazies doing it "for fun!"

Monday, January 5, 2015

Maine 2014 - The Drive Up {Day 2}

Finally in Maine, but with still a few more hours of travel before reaching our final destination, we decided to see some of York before moving northward.

I took my time walking around the hotel, sipping coffee, and enjoying free breakfast in my jammies (apparently that's not a thing in Maine) waiting on sleepy-head to wake up. Then we hit the York Cliff Walk.

We strolled a half mile to the dead end, stopping in the middle to get into a little trouble.

Much to the chagrin of our parents, this was the tamest of all the walks/hikes we did on this vacation.

York also provided our first lighthouse of the trip.

Of course what would the trip have been without a stop off to say hello to a certain former president?

I remain impressed at how secure the Bush 41 compound in Kennebunk Pork is, while also allowing for people to pull off the road and take pictures.

This detour was well worth the extra travel time it took us to get there. We drove route 1 the rest of the way up to Southwest Harbor, the city where his parents had rented a house.

Maine Brewing Company was an unexpected stop along the way, but worth turning around for. Both here and at the pizza place where we had lunch, we saw several people wearing Marathon bibs from earlier in the day. I embarrassed Jay (as I always do when I talk to strangers) but I had to congratulate them.