Virtual Half-Marathon Recap

Last Saturday I wrapped up my Boston Marathon training block with a virtual half-marathon.  This of course was definitely not the way I imagined things to end.  I imagined loud cheers and bright red numbers illuminating my goal time of 2:48.  In my head, it was all pretty glorious and memorable.  

That vision will have to be saved for another day.  My virtual half was the next best option. And here’s the thing, it was entirely unglamorous.  It was actually pretty painful. When you start hurting in a race, you can really rely on the crowds and people to carry you through.  When I started to hurt at around mile 9, there were no crowds or expectations, and part of me just wanted to stop. Thankfully, Lance pulled me through and got me to a time of 1:23:45. 

Before I dive into the miles, I just want to say that Lance is amazing. I would not have been able to run that time or probably even have finished if it was not for his even pacing and encouraging words.  He is so even-keeled and I can be so dramatic.  The last 4ish miles, every word amount of my mouth was a complaint and a whine.  Lance is so good at not letting my negative thoughts or complaints change what he believes in me.  The whole time, even when I started to half-cry, he said you got this, you are going to run an amazing time.  I am so thankful God gave me a husband that not only cheers me on, but that believes in me more than I do.  

The Course

For this 13.1 mile course, Lance and I started at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and ended at a random street in Manhattan Beach.  The course was actually a really fun and beautiful one. It would have probably been even more enjoyable in an actual race setting. As a whole, there was a good amount of downhill, which I desperately needed.  The first 5 miles were all in Palos Verdes and there was a good amount of rolling hills. Every time we hit a hill, I lost contact with Lance. I used to pride myself on being a strong hill runner, but I am really struggling on the hills. My glutes are so much weaker and I much prefer the free speed from a downhill.  

Once we got out of Palos Verdes, it was mostly downhill + flat, but these were the miles I also struggled on, so a lot of this section of the course was about holding on and just making it to the 13.1.

We drove the course a few days before, so we knew we would finish right around the Manhattan Beach Pier.  It was just about a quarter mile past the pier. Since the strand and beach is currently closed, we finished on Ocean Drive.  

The Miles

Mile 1- 6:15

Mile 2- 6:20

Mile 3: 6:17

Mile 4: 6:34

Mile 5: 6:09

Mile 6: 6:16

Mile 7: 6:01

Mile 8: 6:14

Mile 9: 6:33

Mile 10: 6:38

Mile 11: 6:30

Mile 12: 6:44

Mile 13: 6:38

The mile splits were a bit all over the place, but the average was 6:24 per mile.  Right when I finished and hit stop on my Garmin, I smiled when I saw the 6:24 average.  That was my exact goal pace for the marathon. Obviously I ran only half the distance, but I was proud to be on that pace in a non-race environment.

Miles 9-13 were rough to say the least.  Aerobically, I felt great. I had the capacity to complain and whine to Lance.  It was all in my head and the right side of my body. I was feeling pretty good up until the 9th mile.  Then, began to mentally check out. Running hard on quiet streets is mentally tough!!! My whole right side of my body was also beginning to tighten up.  My right leg was definitely in pain. And because there were no other racers or crowds, it was the only thing I could focus on. The pain really got in my head.  I am a pretty tough runner, but I was so mentally and physically tired that I began to shed a few tears. People we passed at the end probably thought I was crazy.  I definitely had trouble pushing through the pain and it definitely slowed down my last few miles.

The Finish 

Still, I finished.  I definitely did not sprint in like I usually do.  I was maxed out. 1:23:45 was all I had on that day.  And I am really proud of this time. Not only, is it the easiest PR to remember: 1-2-3-4-5, it is a time that I can say I fought for.  I pushed through. I did not give up. I adjusted when original plans fell through. I kept going because here’s the thing, running Boston was never really about running Boston.  It was about honoring God. It was about chasing dreams. It was about remembering I can still fight and run hard.  

All of this ended in a very different way than I had imagined it would.  But in some ways it all makes sense. It ended on an alley. There was no music (headphones stopped working a few miles in), no people, no cheers, no finish line.  Yet, in this place of quiet, in this place of literally being in the shadow, I put one foot in front of the other. I hit my Garmin exactly when I saw 13.1 and I immediately went to sit on the curb.  Done.  

As I was finishing in this quiet alley, my reflective self could not help but think that this is how I want to continue to live out my days for the rest of my life.  I hope and pray that regardless of the stage, whether it is an alleyway or Boston or the Olympic Trials, I can run my heart out.  

The same is true with my own life.  Whether it is writing to an engaged audience of thousands or just one girl that needs to hear the words, I pray that the performance and the heart behind what I do always remains the same.  The reality is that I have only an audience of one.  This seems to be a theme in my own life.  I wrote about this concept nearly a year ago.  This is when I can actually act out what I write.  It is easy to write it out, but I am convinced the real transformation happens when we actually live out the words we preach.  

These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep.  What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent?  Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise.  

This is the freeing part.  It was never about the stage.  It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart.  Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets.  

In typical fashion, the words are running away from me.  The point of this post is to share about my virtual half-marathon, but more so it is to encourage you to not be afraid of saying yes to God when the stage looks dim.  To not be afraid to treat things like they are really, really big deals, even when you are running in the shadows.

With this goal virtual race complete, I am going to take some time away from running. I am feeling a bit burnt out. I am ready to take a bit of a break, but I so look forward to my next season with running.

P.S. SO thankful for my husband, coach, pacer, and encourager. You were the best coach because you know me so deeply!

5 Things to Keep Doing During Coronavirus Pandemic

Now more than ever, the routines we have in place are essential for getting through this time of pandemic. Our calendars have emptied and we are uncertain what the next few weeks will truly look like.  We each are affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in different ways. I can only speak from my own experience. Since we do not yet have school-aged kids and I stay-at-home with our toddler, our routine does not feel drastically different. 

With that said, last week I internally struggled not having our usual routine filled with toddler class, park playdates, and library outings. I was left wondering: how should I spend this extra time?  Should I just sleep in? Should I just watch all the movies during H’s nap time?  Should I just stop training since the marathon is postponed?  Should I just mindlessly consume social media and let everyone’s thoughts and opinions and anxiety seep into my own heart? These personal questions plus more have been bouncing in my head the past two weeks.

And the answer? Keep on keeping on.  Keep doing the same rhythms I do on a daily basis, minus of course the things I can’t do.  If you are feeling stuck, in a rut, and confused about how your days should look in this new normal, here are a few things I am continuing to do during the coronavirus pandemic, we are currently living through.

1. Keep Waking Up At the Same Time 

After everything was postponed and cancelled, my first thought when my 5:30 alarm went off was sleep in.  I have a feeling that more people probably are sleeping in.  It makes sense. There is less of a need to urgently get out of the door.  I get the temptation and the reality of sleeping later, but for me personally, that small choice can really mess up the rest of the day and my own attitude.  Keeping up with this rhythm of still rising early has been an important piece of keeping me grounded. Now more than ever, I need this quiet time to process with God, to read His Word, and journal out what is in my heart.  

2. Keep Moving (Running is always a good option).

In the midst of all the hard news and fear surrounding us, I have been deeply encouraged to see SO many people using this time to get moving outdoors.  The New York Times in an article last week, even called it “a back-to-basics exercise boom.”  As I am typing this, running, walking, and biking outdoors is still within CDC guidelines. And for that, I am really thankful. 

If it comes to the point, that we can’t run outdoors, I am not exactly sure what I will do, but for now, I am deeply appreciative of my hour runs outside. It feels like freedom, it feels accessible, and it feels essential.  We need movement. Whether that is doing those push-up challenges cropping up all over social media or walking the dog around the block or lacing up those running shoes that have been gathering dust. This is the time to make movement a daily rhythm of yours.  It is essential.  

3. Keep Setting Goals 

With the cancellation or postponement of so many events, races, conferences, and gatherings, it is easy to just scratch all the goals you made at the beginning of 2020.  Along with being routine-oriented, I am very much goal-oriented. I need a clear goal to keep me focused and working hard. With the Boston Marathon’s postponement, I decided I desperately still needed a goal to look forward to and motivate me to continue to get out the door. 

As I wrote about last week, my new goal is to run a sub-1:20 half-marathon in a virtual race.  Obviously, not quite as thrilling as hitting the streets of Boston, but this goal is still keeping me engaged and excited to get the miles in.  This is what it looks like personally for me, but I think it is possible for us all to re-write and adapt our original goals.  This is no time to throw out goals altogether, instead, let’s pivot and adjust. 

4. Keep Connecting 

God made humans to be in community.  We are literally wired for connection and community.  This is one of the MANY reasons, this new time is so challenging.  As much as my own introverted self is perfectly okay spending most of my time with family, this time has reminded me the great value and importance in connecting with others.  It has been encouraging to see so many having virtual meet-ups with friends and Face Times that go beyond the casual “hi” and extend to really hanging out and enjoying time together.  Keep doing this. Keep scheduling time to see your people virtually! Hudson is not quite at the age where I think a virtual playdate would work, but if you have older kids, I found this creative list of virtual playdate ideas.  

5. Keep Praying

Well, of course.  But in full transparency, I know when I begin to get fearful, anxious, and out of my normal routine, sometimes the first thing to go is my daily conversations with the Lord.  Please don’t let this one go. God is listening. He is not surprised with any of this, and I truly believe he desires to teach each one of us something essential during this time of staying at home. 

Are you listening? Are you willing to hear what he has to say? Are you telling him your own concerns, worries, and fears? Please keep praying. Pray for all the medical professionals working tirelessly.  Pray for the elderly that may be especially fearful right now. Pray for those with compromised immune systems. Pray for those personally affected by COVID-19. Pray for those losing jobs. Pray for our grocery stores and the lovely people working in them.  Pray for the students that deeply depend on the structure that school life brings to their days. Pray for the teachers. Pray for the parents. Pray for those that live alone and depend on social gatherings. Pray for our world and for deep healing on a physical and spiritual sense. Christianity Today, put together 20 prayers that can help lead you to pray during this time.

In all the uncertainty and change, let’s work together to keep some things the same. Keep rising, keep moving, keep looking forward, keep connecting, and most importantly, keep praying. 

Also, keep attending church (virtually).

Keep reading books.

Keep having family movie nights.

Keep chasing trash trucks on Mondays.

Keep fort-building.

Keep washing your hands.

Keep taking your vitamins.

Keep sending birthday cards.

Keep the sabbath.

Keep creating.

Keep drinking coffee.

Keep walking the dog.

Keep grocery shopping.

Keep cooking and baking and ordering take-out.

Keep online shopping.

Keep reaching out to your mama.

Keep taking baths.

Keep watering the plants.

These little, unchanging things are becoming more beautiful to me with each passing day.

What are the things you are keeping in your life right now in the midst of pandemic?

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 6

7 Mondays Until Boston! 

Another week of training in the books.  This week did not feel particularly good, but I hit most weekly mileage for this training block, made it into 2 strength classes with Petra, and had a solid 20-miler.  So while things did not feel great (low energy, throbbing legs, tender toenails), hard things still got done. This past week felt like an important week of pushing through and getting some solid work in.  I know there are really only a few solid more weeks left of really hard training before the taper will begin. I want to take full advantage of this time to push myself and run hard and long.  

Even as I type up this recap, I can tell my enthusiasm and motivation to do so is a bit lower than it was last week.  Last week, I just wrapped up a great week of training where I felt amazing. This week is a different story. My toenails feel like they are going to fall off.  My head feels foggy and tired. The fatigue is really beginning to set in. With that said, I am going to keep this short and sweet so I can maybe lay down for a few minutes before Hudson wakes up!

These easy sunrise runs are some of my favorite miles of the week.

The Miles

  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with a workout (3 miles of slightly faster than goal race pace, 6:15ish + 4 x 1 K, these were supposed to be 5:40ish pace, but I was dying and did not hit pace) 
  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 6 solo park loop miles 
  • 20 miles! Solo.  Headphones made it a bit less lonely. This one hurt, but after the fact, I was pleased when I saw overall stats for the run.  More on this at the end!

The only part I want to expand on is that Wednesday workout.  I am the type of person that hates changing a workout. I am pretty determined to hit all my splits and finish a workout in its entirety.  This was not the case for that Wednesday. It was supposed to be 5 Ks, but I texted Lance after 3 and asked him what I should do since I was dying.  I was already way off pace and felt empty.  I ended up doing one more and calling it a day after 4.  This is so not me to cut it short, but I also know my body really well and on that day, my body was done.  There was nothing left. After recovering for a couple miles on the way home, I tried doing some pick-up 100 meters to make for the shortened workout, but even that felt hard.  

Besides the fact that my body is still adjusting to more mileage, it was also super hot out (hello, February in Southern California) and I am not very good at changing pace.  The 3 mile tempo part felt totally fine. It was right when I started the thousands that my legs felt like bricks. I need to work on getting better at changing gears.

What I am Listening To 

I listened to a lot of different interviews this past week.  There were a lot of solo miles with headphones. Of everything I listened to there was only one episode that really stuck with me and inspired me.  It was an interview with Veronica Jackson and Alex Bernardi on the Ali on the Run Show.  They both ran at the trials! They are two friends that pushed each other to believe in this shared goal of qualifying amidst full-time jobs and families.  I love their story. I love their dedication to dream big together. This episode was a treat to listen to and it made me really want to find a group like the women that run at 5:45 in Central Park.  Maybe, we just need to move to New York.  

How I am Fueling

Really it is all the same.  The only thing I need to add is Trader Joe’s cold brew latte dessert bars made the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up as my energy was really dragging in this hot week of training. 

Also, salt sticks, which I mentioned last week, has been a real game changer for me on my long runs.

Bowling with family really was the perfect way to spend our 20 miler.

Recovery

  • Sunday Nap 
  • Stretching at parks, while Hudson plays
  • Bowling? After our 20 miler, we bowled with Grandma Jo! It was a good reminder why I run and I don’t bowl.
  • Clearly, not a whole lot of recovery being done.  I really need to commit to rolling before bed. 

Cross-Training

  • 2 strength classes with Petra.  This will probably be my last week of these classes, since my membership just ended. I am likely not going to renew it.  I am going to have to figure out a way to supplement these classes in the weeks of training ahead.  This will probably involve some creativity and planks in our living room.

What I Keep Telling Myself 

You will eventually feel good.

This was not my week.  Things are hurting. The workout nearly killed me.  However, I still have confidence that fitness will come together in the remaining weeks and I will eventually wake up actually feeling good!  The time will come.  

Also, telling myself that the whole Boston experience is going to be so much fun.  It is beginning to feel closer and both Lance and I are getting more excited. We both will have family coming to watch, which is super special and just last week, we all got tickets to a Red Sox game.  Maybe not the best pre-race activity for a pro, but hey, that is not us, so anything goes, really.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hudson has finally gotten used to being back in the jogger and he has been an angel on our 8 milers.  My pace has been real SLOW on these jogger runs, so he has been extra patient to hang out in jogger for a bit over an hour.  
  • 20 miles! It did not feel perfect, but 20 miles is 20 miles.  It always feels like an accomplishment to get these 20 miler training runs in.  

Low

  • So tired!
  • The workout 

The Long Run

Thankful to have a community of loving family and friends that help out with Hudson so we can get our long runs in! Also, Hudson learned to say “Google.”

This long run was a bit different from the typical one.  Since family friends were watching Hudson, we decided to save a bit of time and run from their place in Hermosa Beach and just go out 10 miles and back 10 miles.  From Hermosa, we both made it pretty far into Palos Verdes.  

The run itself was a good mixture of flat, road surfaces and hilly trails.  It was a bit lonely, since we both did the run solo, but I think it built some good mental toughness.  

The last few miles were definitely a bit painful.  My hips felt like they were on fire. I pushed through and even got some faster mile splits in as I was on a flat surface.  While, I chose to not do an intentional workout, I did focus on staying as controlled as possible and getting faster in the last half.  

Here are the stats: 

  • 2 hours 31 minutes
  • 20 miles
  • 7:34 minutes/mile average.  
  • Fastest mile was the 19th mile at 6:36.  

Okay, I am exhausted.  This is all I got for this week.  Hopefully next week I can report with a bit more energy and enthusiasm!

Year 26 + 2020 Intentions

I am officially 26!  

One thing I love about this little blog of mine is that it holds all the important moments and thoughts of my heart.  It is so fun to go back, even a year ago and see what was going on in my head.  

Last year for my birthday, I wrote a reflective letter to my 15-year old self.  I just went back and read it and I was moved by these words I already had forgotten a year later.  You can go back and read it here.

25 felt like a big one to me and 26 just does not seem to have the same ring, but upon deeper reflection, I can see the great significance in 26.  Turning 26, in a lot of ways actually marks the official beginning of the 2nd quarter of my life (God willing, I live close to 100). Quarter 1 is done and lived. 26 brings on a whole new quarter and I am giddy to see what lies ahead.  

Quarter 1: Learning Everything

The first quarter of my life was all about learning.  Literally learning how to walk and how to talk. Learning about God and who I really am in Him.  Truth is, this is one of those lessons that I know will follow me with each season of my life, but quarter one established truth about who I really am.  I am not just a runner or a teacher or a mother; I am a Daughter of Christ. I look forward to see how this foundational truth will continue to develop in my heart in the years to come.

The first 25 years of my life have been so good.  From following my dreams to run at the D1 level in college to finding my husband to getting the opportunity to teach for a couple years  to becoming a mother. There have been so many firsts and major milestones, but if I am honest (which I love to be as honest as I can on here), I have found them to be a great challenge, especially recently.  

Quarter 2: Fighting Comparison

Contrary to some, I am finding the mid-twenties to be hard. This could be just because I am in a different season full of diapers and chasing trash trucks.  I am finding this mid-twenty season to be a time of uncertainty and comparison.  This is largely why I have greatly reduced my time on social media. My heart simply cannot handle it.  I have been in a battle of comparison as I look around at all my peers seemingly doing really big things.  Becoming lawyers and doctors and traveling the world.  

I don’t want this to come across as complaining because I am full of gratitude for the life I have.  I literally would not change it for the world, but these feelings have reminded me that even when you have all that you could ever want, comparison will steal your joy every single time.  

As I enter quarter 2 of my life, I am fighting this comparison syndrome hard with strict boundaries around social media.  I have limited myself to only 10 minutes per day with Sunday completely off. This reminds me of the 30 minute TV limit I had as a kid, but if there is one thing I have learned, it is that limits are needed in whatever stage of life you are in.  

2020: The Year of Care

As I am greatly reducing time spent on screens (except for writing on here to you), my hope is that I can better care for my soul.  I have been meaning to create a whole post dedicated to my intentions for 2020. Since this post is rather reflective, I thought I would share it here.  2020 is the year of care. Not self-care, which of course is part of it, but an overall better care for all things. Yes, I want to take better care of my body: a more consistent skin care routine (hello, eye cream), more baths, more books, more solo coffee dates.   I also want to take way better care of everything the Lord has entrusted me with: the grass, the car, our home, my marriage, my sweet boy, and my soul.  

As I enter this new quarter of my life and this new decade, I can sense how this intention is seeping through my ordinary days.  I water the grass on our side yard every morning like it my full-time job. I take pride in ensuring each inch is evenly soaked and nourished.  The miles I run are fueled with more care and gratitude and not out of obligation, but because I want to keep up with a skill I know the Lord has hand-picked for me.

I am more present. 

 I am reading more and clicking that Instagram icon way, way less.  Part of better caring for my people, is ensuring that I am actually present before them.  I have a new rule of simply not checking social media when Hudson is up. I was finding myself dug into my phone and missing the amazing little boy before me.  When I am stressed or tired or anxious, my go-to is absolutely to tune out and scroll. This does me no good and I am finally realizing I need some really clear boundaries.  

Lunch & afternoon read!

Make Yourself Lunch

A new thing I am doing is nothing revolutionary, but it really has been a game changer.  I am taking the time to make myself lunch. It is sad to admit, but when it comes to lunch time, I always make Hudson a balanced and colorful plate, while I  pick at cold leftovers or eat some scraps from Hudson’s lunch. Then, I wonder why at the end of the day I feel so cranky and drained. Especially as mileage is beginning to increase for Boston, taking the care and time to properly fuel my body is a necessity.  

For me, this has looked like taking out a pan, heating up oil and garlic, and sautéing veggies and putting them on hot mashed potatoes I made the night before.  It also has looked like making a whole packaged salad and putting shredded turkey on it, and slicing avocados on-top of it. I think how we make ourselves lunch is actually quite significant.  It shows our priorities, how we view our bodies. It is easy to just eat the scraps of our kid’s lunches or forget lunch all together, but I have learned recently how it makes me feel to eat a full and hot lunch that was carefully constructed.  This whole lunch thing is changing things for me.  

I have no idea what quarter 2 of my life will hold for me, but my hope is that it can be marked with me taking better care of all the beautiful things and people the Lord has placed before me.  I hope it is marked with more hot lunches at the table, more runs, more time doing things with my hands (knitting, gardening, scrapbooking), more time with my eyes wide open and present to my people, my family. 

10 Simple Things to Fight Burn Out

If you too have recently been feeling burnt out, uninspired, and uncertain, here is a list of a few things I have been doing that might just help you too.  They all are simple and obvious, but sometimes it takes actually reading something to make it happen.

Ignore weird table, this was on my retreat. Bible, journal, and coffee are the elements of my morning rhythm.

1. Wake up + grab journal + Bible 

I used to wake up and go on my phone and scroll.  That is the worse way to wake up to the day. Get a routine that allows you to start your day with pen and paper.  Again, like the lunch making, this one is a game changer.

2. Water Something

Go out and water the grass in your yard or water plants in your home. It sounds crazy, but I have so much peace as I start my day with watering the grass.  I love the sound of the water, I love the smell of water-seaped soil, I love feeling like this small action is actually allowing for growth to occur.

3. Take a Bath

Let’s really quick talk about the Sunday Bath. I don’t know about you, but taking a bath feels like a real luxury. It is so much easier to take a quick shower. I am finding the only way I actually slow down and enjoy a bath is if it is part of a weekly rhythm.

Thus, the Sunday bath was born. It works well because Sunday is the one day I do not sweat in the morning, so it just makes sense to have a bath Sunday evening on our Sabbath. Find a time to make it a consistent part of your routine. Get some epsom salt (this is the lavender one I use) or use your son’s bubble bath and take a bath. I will literally spend 40-45 minutes taking a bath. This is one of my favorite times to get some reading in! Quick showers are so overrated, I am all about the slow and meticulous process of making a good bath.

4. Listen to a Podcast

The soundtrack of my days greatly affects my mood.  It is a different day if I intentionally choose podcasts that inspire me and worship music that brings my eyes up to Him.  If you are into running, my two fav running podcasts are the Ali on the Run Show and The Road to the Olympic Trials. For faith-based podcasts, favs are The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, The Next Right Thing, and The She podcast.  

5. Make Yourself Lunch

Take the time to crack eggs or heat up garlic or toss a great big salad just for you. You deserve more than cold leftovers and goldfish.

6. Stay off Social Media

It is possible.  Try it for a day.  See how you feel. 

We had no plans on New Year’s Day, so we just did something fun and spent an afternoon at Balboa Island.

7. Do Something Fun

Go to the park, bring sand toys down to the beach, go out to ice cream on a Wednesday night.  I am such a routine person that sometimes I forget to schedule in fun, random, spontaneous things.  I always feel better when we just do something fun.

8. Read a Book in the Middle of the Day

You might be saying, if only I had time for that.  Well, I bet you check social media at least 10-minutes during your day, replace that wasted time with slowing down and giving your brain and body some refreshment.  It does not take many words to put me in a better mindset. I just finished Here Now by Kate Merrick and it is so, so good.  It has a lot of similar themes to what I have been writing in this post. 

Hudson loves “creating” and test tasting with me in the kitchen.

9. Create Something 

Do something with your hands.  It could be as simple as writing a letter to a friend, planting a flower, whipping up some oatmeal chocolate cookies.  I am always amazed how I feel so much better when I tangibly make something with my hands. With the day-to-day demands of being a mom, sometimes a day goes by and I feel like I have no idea what I even did.  You too? Mothering can sometimes feel intangible. We don’t yet see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes, seeing that flower we planted or smelling the cookies in the oven can help.  

10. Connect 

Plan a playdate, text a friend to get coffee, set up a phone call.  We are made for connection. When I start to not feel great, a sure sign is that I am pulling away and isolating.  Get together with your people. Gather.  Open up your home even when it’s a mess. Connect.

2019: The Year of Open

Last Friday, Lance and I had our first date night in a while, and it was amazing.  One of the pieces of advice we both seemed to hear a lot in pregnancy was that you must prioritize your marriage when you start having kids.  Already, I can see how true this is.  The reality is that life is so much busier and more structured than it used to be and if we do not intentionally make the time to just be Lance and Kelli, husband and wife; we will live our lives solely as mommy and daddy.  This is not good for anyone, including Hudson, especially Hudson.  I want my son and any future children we may have to look at our marriage and see a strong Christ-centered marriage that sets an example for them.  We realized that we need to be more intentional about having date nights once a month.  Since this date fell just a few days before the New Year, we ended our date at Urth Cafe and set intentions, goals, and habits we hope to strive after as a family.  We first attempted to come up with what we wanted our overarching theme for the year to be.  What one word did we want to really focus and embody in 2019?  While a few words were tossed on the table, we landed with open.  I wrote it in big letters in my planner: “2019: The Year of Open.”  In many ways, this directly aligns with a vision and campaign at our church entitled The Open Campaign.  In the way that our church is striving to be more open to the surrounding community, Lance and I also hope that we can live 2019 well with an open heart, home, and hand.  The aspect I really love about this concept of openness is that it is two-fold.  In one sense, being open allows us to pour out into others, but the opposite is true as well.  Embracing a posture of openness, also allows us to be filled up.  Both are essential.  Unfortunately, I have a tendency to hyper-focus on the pouring out, that I forget to fill up.  This year, I personally want to better embrace this idea of allowing time and space to be filled up.  I wanted to share 5 ways in which I am attempting to do a better job in this area.

  1. Get Up Early.  When I was teaching, I woke up every morning at 5am.  While I initially dreaded that early morning alarm, it allowed me to be so much more productive and efficient with my time.  I did not realize it at the time, but that early morning commute was a really important time for me to wake up, plan the day, and pray.  It gave me a pause before the day fully started.  Once I stopped working, I stopped setting the alarm and chose to have Hudson be my new alarm clock.  This worked initially, but I began to realize I was starting my days grumpy and unprepared for the day ahead.  Even if it is just 15 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet morning time, I am able to start the day at peace and in joy.  While I don’t quite feel ready to set my alarm back to 5am, setting it to 6am this week has allowed for time to sip my coffee, drink a glass of water, light a candle, write down what Hudson did the previous day, and spend some time alone with the Lord reading my Bible and praying for the day ahead.  These sound like such simple things, especially the one on drinking water, but I am finding it is these simple acts that put me in the right frame of mind to be open to loving and pouring out to the people in my life.
  2. Write Daily. Writing is something I really enjoy to do.  I have always been the journal keeping type of girl.  Journaling and just writing in general really helps me process how I am feeling and why I am feeling that way.  While I really love writing, I have not prioritized it.  I hope to keep a daily practice of making sure I am writing on a daily basis. It might not always be a full blog post in one day, but regardless of the type of day I am having, I hope that I can take at least a few minutes of it to practice my craft of writing.  Even in just a week, I have experienced certain days where the words just rolled off my fingertips and others where the interruptions were abundant and the words scarce.  I am not concerned about length or even initial quality, I really just want to write because it is something I love to do.  The other goal in writing is that I can share some of what I write to be open and vulnerable.  It does not come naturally to me to want to share personal pieces of my life, but I want to be more open in this way.  I know that I am not alone in a lot of my experiences, especially recently in motherhood, so I hope some of what I write can connect well to others.
  3. Read Daily. Like they say, garbage in, garbage out.  Some of my very worst days are the ones spent scrolling on Instagram at every free moment.  Some of my very best days are the ones where I forget where my phone even is and I pick up a book or am outside.  What I consume in a day greatly affects my mood and outlook.  While I am a very slow learner at times, I am finally coming to terms that I cannot handle Instagram.  In the past few months I have deleted and re-downloaded it basically every single week.  I delete it because I am consuming too much of it and then re-download it just to check one thing and the next thing I know I have scrolled away an hour.  Time is now even more precious now, and I do not want to waste it away scrolling through content that often times does not even motivate or inspire me.  I close the app and I feel tired and unmotivated to do anything at all.  I am done with it (hopefully for at least a longer stretch than just a week).  I am very intentionally training myself to pick up a book rather than my phone.  Similarly to the writing intention, I am not expecting to finish novels in just a couple days.  I am a slow reader. This week I have just been reading a chapter a day.   This may seem small, but it is a whole chapter more than what I previously would read in a day. To me, it is not about going through all the bookshelves.  It is about slowing down and just reading.  And not just reading to read, but really delving in and being invested to the people and the lives I read about.  This past week I keep having an image of myself as a little girl staying up past my bedtime reading The Boxcar Children in bed.  I can still remember how those books made me feel.  All I wanted was to be in bed reading about the adventures of Henry and Jessie and the other Alden siblings. I craved those stories.  For quite some time now, I have not craved reading like I used to.  I think schooling and being forced to constantly read material that was not always the most riveting created this lack of desire within me.  I also think I became tired.  Reading is more effort than Netflix.  Whatever the reason, I stopped reading for pleasure and I am really missing it.  I want to return to that little girl curled up reading The Boxcar Children.  Reading, along with listening to really great podcasts, fills me up.  It opens up my perspective and feeds my love for words and storytelling.  Reading is good for me, Instagram is not.  So here’s to hoping in 2019 I read more and scroll less.
  4. Invest In Friendships.  We are built for connection.  God intended for us to live in community.  I love community and I love people, but I am learning more and more that I am naturally more introverted.  It takes more internal convincing and pushing to get myself out to meet with friends.  I always leave a phone call, a brunch, a walk with a friend in such a better mood and mindset.  I love connecting.  I long for connection, but I often times forget that this is a need of mine.  This year, I want to be more intentional about having an open schedule and calendar that allows for planned meetings with friends and even last-minute ones (because sometimes these impromptu meetings are the most important ones).  Friendship is a gift of God.  He is so kind to place people in our lives that make us laugh and make us better.  I never want to be too busy to take the time to invest in the friendships I already have and reach out to make new ones as well.  This year one of my hopes is to be slow to say no when it comes to friends and connection.
  5. Take Sabbath More Seriously. Recently, I have been extremely convicted in not taking the Sabbath as seriously as I should.  When I was running in college, I used to be annoyed that our coach always had long runs on Sundays.  The longest run of the week was on the day that was meant for rest.  I felt like I could not fully practice a Sabbath when I was running 12 miles at 7am on Sunday morning.  Now I am no longer tied to this obligation of Sunday long runs, yet still I find myself not fully embracing the Sabbath.  I still find myself scrambling to get things done even on a Sunday.  I am not fully satisfied with the work that I have done, so feel like I still need to get a few loose ends taken care of.  This is not the Lord’s desire for us.  If even the Lord needs the seventh day to rest, how much more I need it.  He does not care how clean our house is by Sunday; he wants us to rest regardless the state of our home or the length of our to-do list.  So much of my days and weeks are filled with obligations and things I must do, I really want to strive towards using the 6 days of the week in more intentional ways that will open up my Sundays so I can really have no agenda other than church and small group.

Did you notice that word open pop-up in each of the 5 intentions?  2019, my hope and prayer is that I can live out these intentions, not with obligation or pressure, but with joyful willingness because I know these things will allow me to ultimately be more open to your will in my life.