Monday, December 31, 2007

Here comes the sun!

Now that we've lived in the Pacific Northwest for three years, I've developed a true appreciation for sunny days. The excitement over days like today that are crisp and clear, complete with a full blue sky is big. My three year old walks around the house humming "Here Comes the Sun" on days like today. He's content to sing "Rain, rain, Go Away" on our more-typical fall/winter days, but there's a special energy when he sings that famous song of The Beatles!

Even though both kids are down and out with ear infections (ugh!), there is something promising about today's sunshine. Here it is, the last day of 2007 and after countless days (literally, I can't recall the last time we had such a sunny day - all day, even!) it is filled with the promise and excitement of light and celebration. It is a reminder to me that these sick days will pass and we'll soon usher in healthy ones. The days of indoor play and longing for running through the grass will be replaced with hours and hours of outside fun.

Farewell, 2007 . . . thanks for a full year and the glorious sunny ending. Welcome, 2008 . . . I can't wait to see what you have in store for us!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What am I doing?!

Most days I tend to cruise along. You know, I start the day with the traditional "Good morning!" greeting with my children, we do breakfast, get ready for the day and then make our way through our mostly "regular" day before my husband and I tuck them into bed at night. Wash, rinse, repeat. Sure, we sometimes get off course with the pesky cold (sometimes WAY off course when the cold lasts longer than a week) or enjoy a thrill or two when visitors are in town or we cram extra fun into a weekend. But usually we just stick to the schedule. Kids do well with schedules. Moms do well with schedules. Dads like it when they can follow the schedule. Remember to take this all with a grain of salt and know that I'm really just generalizing here!

But then a day like today comes along and *SLAM*. I'm on the ground clutching my head and looking up at Mt. Rainier wondering how I plowed head-first into it (something so big surely couldn't sneak up on a person). No, I didn't really ram into a mountain, rather I confronted about a dozen very real realities that are a part of my proverbial mountain - publishing my book. Dozens of hand-scrawled notes are strewn about my computer space (which I just cleaned last week - really!), I have at least 7 tabs open in my Explorer window going at any given time, and I'm following-up on emails and tasks for six different aspects of the business (distribution, website, reviews, author visits, marketing and . . . give me a minute, oh, yes, this blog!). Yet, while I toil away (breaking for an hour or two at a time to tend to my motherly duties) I don't feel as if I'm getting anywhere. It is like I'm running on the treadmill without the thrill of endorphins or a satisfying sweat. I'm left wondering, "What am I doing?!!"

Thanks to that husband of mine I'm stepping back and looking at each thing one at a time. He even took the paper and pen out of my hand and wrote the list for me (and checked-off some items I'd already managed to accomplish to show me that I AM making progress) so that it would seem more do-able. And so now, before I turn-in for the night (and before I do turn in-to a pumpkin), I can say with a sigh of relief that yes, I think we have some shipping issues on the way to being under control, we are a step closer to having a distributor, I think the formatting is better for the commerce section of the website, it is okay to wait until tomorrow to put together the review packets, author visit stuff can wait until we get the other stuff under control, marketing is another task for another day, and this blog entry is nearly finished.

There. I think I can breathe now. I'm stepping back from that mountain - one careful step at a time. If I can distance myself from it a bit more I'll be able to enjoy its majesty and beauty and then do some training before I attempt to summit it again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The less-fun, but necessary, side of balance

What a day we had yesterday! Funny how being woken-up at 6:30AM doesn't seem so terrible when your three-year-old is bellowing "Santa left a trail of fruit snacks! He came!" We enjoyed living the day through his eyes, while keeping tabs on the little sister (not yet a year old, but close!) as she tried sampling wrapping paper, boxes, and crawling over/through/around the opened packages to make sense of it all (using all of her 5 senses). We also enjoyed many phone calls to family scattered across the country as we shared Christmas greetings, stories of Christmases come and gone, and thanks for love and generosity . We also reported our good fortune of having a white Christmas (not REALLY, but we did enjoy watching snowflakes fall for about two hours). It was a good day.

So yesterday's words were "fun" and "family". Today's words are "clean" and "juggle". I'm the one doing the cleaning - the bathrooms, the laundry, finishing cleaning the kitchen (my husband started this morning, but that job is just NEVER finished), getting gifts put away. My husband is chief-in-charge of the juggling, though I suppose I'm doing a bit of that, too. He's finishing a floor tiling job with my dad in our basement (thanks, Dad!), juggling our son (the "helper"), the dog who is happy to go outside/inside (repeat!), and some of his own cleaning as he works on the floor. I'm handling the other half of the time with our son ("I need a break - that's hard work" he reports), thank you notes (one at a time, which is as long as I can keep Ethan's attention to complete, or as long as I can sit before having to refocus Megan!), and our still-curious and excited daughter. Oh, and of course, there's that cleaning stuff!!

But as part of me wants to grumble (cleaning is not my cup of tea, but really who wakes up and says, "Wow! What a beautiful day, I think I'll go scrub a toilet. There's just nothing more satisfying than a clean throne!"), the other part of me realizes the reality of cleaning/chores is all part of what enables us to enjoy the "fun" and "family" part of life. Thank you notes are an essential part of the season for me. I like taking the time to reflect on the love and thought that went into the carefully chosen gifts people sent, processing the true puprose of gift exchange. And I hope that sharing those moments with the gift-givers helps them feel like they are here with us.

Oh, And I DO have to admit that there IS something satisfying about a clean bathroom, even if it isn't the force that drives my day.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Power of Positive Messaging

I recently received an email from an old friend that got me thinking of the notion of "super" status. My blog posts were leaving her with the notion that I'm some sort of super-mom, super-wife, super-writer.  Just writing that makes me chuckle a bit. 
My friend's email helped me begin to realize the true power of words. Yes, my blogs are of a celebratory and upbeat nature!  She got it!  BUT, they are designed to be that way, as that is part of my personal mission to find satisfaction and joy in ordinary life events - and to help others discover that in their own lives.  That's a big mission, a really, really big mission . . . and I'll just keep plugging along sharing bright glimpses of my life as they happen.  If I were to share stories of misery, doom and frustration (who doesn't have at least a few black clouds that pass over their lives now and then) people would stop reading. We get enough of that gunk thrust in our faces daily. In fact, it would probably knock me into a downward spiral to think of the negative aspects of this life journey all the time.  I would have to quit writing. And just how would that support my mission?!
So, please know that while there might be a bit of super status in me (as there is in each person!), that I'm really just a gal.  A gal who hopes that her thoughts and words might somehow spread a positive message.  If you're looking for my grumbles and sighs of exaspiration, you won't find them here (though they DO exist - I am a real person!).  I reserve those special treats (haha) for the people in my life who have built up the strength to be my sounding boards and help me process my frustrations and turn them into actions that will have a positive impact.  Those are MY true super heroes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Relaxation for Balance

I sometimes feel a bit like Elizabeth Gilbert (the author who opens her life to us in her book Eat, Pray, Love, the book I'm currently enjoying a handfull of pages at a time). She writes of her self-conflict - her brain is in a constant mad dash (toward what? She's not always sure.), she is driven by creating a long list of accomplishments and she's left exhausted if ever there's a pause in the whirlwind of her life. I'm not living at the extreme end of the scale as Liz describes, but I do have a brain that I struggle to quiet (if even for 5 minutes!), I thrive from having an overflowing plate of responsibility (much to my poor husband's utter dismay and my parents' confusion), and if there's a moment of pause, I tend to get sick. Like a truck hit me, sick. Like I'm too weak to lift my body out of the bed sick.

My husband knows this. He knows me better than I know myself, it seems. So in November he put his knowledge to use and got me a gift certificate for 4 hours at the spa for my birthday. 4 whole hours! Initally, my thoughts ran wild about how I was going to schedule 4 hours at the spa when we have 2 small children and we like to reserve evenings for family time. Of course, he already had that part figured out (smart man!). He would take off a day from work to be with the kids, giving me "the day off". Then my thoughts ran wild about how I'd manage to be away from them all for 4 entire hours. I hadn't yet processed the generosity of the gift or how I really did NEED the relaxation to help knock me back into balance. I politely thanked my husband, who must have thought he did something wrong because I stood in silence for much longer than I should have, and then pushed aside the gift certificate. I'd have to mull over how this would all work and if a plain Jane gal like me really had any place in a fancy spa (I'd been to one before - a gift from my husband early in our marriage - and felt a bit out of place).

The first time I scheduled the appointment things went very wrong, seemingly confirming that it was best if I remained in control (have I mentioned that I like being in control, as much as I try to back-off, I have more trying to do!) and stayed with the kids and let a more deserving person go in my place. First, I got started late, then I got 5 miles down the road and realized I didn't have my gift certificate with me, then a tree went down on a major road and all traffic had to be rerouted. After sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 30 mintues on a 2 lane road, I realized there was nothing relaxing about rushing to a day of pampering when you'd miss half of the massage (and for me, I think that is the best part). SO, I called the spa (my third call to them that morning) and asked if I could reschedule (I think my sobbing convinced the manager that this really was not my choice, but truly was due to an act of God, so they would kindly allow me to book my appointment another day). It comes as no surprise to my family that I got sick just 2 days later. Like a truck hit me, sick.

Anyhow . . . I had (and kept!) my appointment yesterday (a week after the second round of knock me down sick). I learned some very important things:

1 - Yes, a stay-at-home mother, wife and author DOES belong at the spa (on occassion, this doesn't need to become habitual!)
2 - My husband is a wise man (though he won't admit it)
3 - 4 hours of time to myself (when I am healthy, not in a sick-induced sleep) to breathe and relax with no responsibility was amazing
4 - I'll be less pouty and rediculous next time someone offers me such a generous gift
5 - Some of my destination-focused energy can use refocusing to soak-in the actual journey

So my next challenge is taking some of Liz Gilbert's modeling of meditation with my own recently experienced calm and applying it to my daily life. It is a WHOPPER of a challenge for me, but I think its effects will ripple nicely throughout my family. Just a few minutes here and there for calm. With regular doses of relaxation maybe my body won't feel like it has to lurch into illness - it might actually enjoy the quiet and reward me somehow. Wow, now that I put it that way, this is definitely something I need to do. Calm, quiet, relaxation . . . Guess my first step is to step away from the computer, right?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Out of the Mouth of a Three Year-old

It is sometimes easy to dismiss the constant stream of words that gushes out of my son's mouth. From the time he is fully awake to the moment he finally gives up and falls asleep, his internal monologue is external. Truly. And I love him for that, but I don't always pay what he shares full attention (if I did, I wouldn't have a chance for thoughts of my own - really, this kid is on fire!).

Today his imaginary scene caught me completely off guard and even induced a few salty tears. It went something like this:

*shuffle, shuffle* "I'll get these ready so our visitors will know about Mama's book," he muttered to himself while swiping some of my business cards from my computer armoire. (to which I sighed, but didn't take action to retrieve)

*ding, ding, ding* (he fingered a few notes on the piano)

"Who eeees it?" he called out in a sing-song voice mimicing the characters from Jack's Big Music Show.

"Oh, a visitor! We have a visitor!" he announced, pointing to me as I sat on the floor in the adjoining room entertaining his little sister.

"Yes, I've come to see you," I played along.

"Oh, good! Thanks for coming. Do you know about my mom's book?" he inquired in a crisp, businessman-like voice.

"Your mom has a book?" I asked, playing dumb (I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be - usually he let's me know my character!).

He handed me one of my business cards and instructed me, "Here, you can read all about it on this card. It is about her book. It'll be ready soon."

"Thank you. Can you tell me about the book?" I fished.

"Oh, sure. It's about being a mama and all that kind of stuff," he said confidently while gesturing wildly with his hands, almost magically as if he would conjure the book to appear right then.

Since he was so focused and clearly dedicated about getting the word out about my book, I thought I'd use this opportunity to let him know just what the book WAS about, while continuing to be in character (still no further details about what character, though, so I just fell into step as my own idea of Visitor #1). "Oh, it says here that the book is about girls who love to run and girls who are strong. Wow!"

"Righ!" he confirmed. And then he floored me . . . "Just like you."

That's when the tears welled up in my eyes. And in true, Ethan-fashion, he darted back to the piano to make the "doorbell" ring again. Visitor #2 (a stuffed hippo) had arrived and clearly needed educating about his mama's book. Visitor #3 (Abu, the monkey) was close behind to get a business card and help spread the word about this great book that would be ready soon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Ever-changing Shoes

It is funny how our identities change as we get older. Many people put this in the context of the "hats" that we wear, but I like to think of it in terms of shoes.  It struck me about five minutes ago how tied to our roles we truly are. My epiphany went something like this:
"Hello?" I inquired.
"Hi, this is (name omitted for privacy), (son's name)'s mom," came the reply from the other end of the connection.
This woman was wearing her mom shoes.  You know the ones, the shoes that are okay to get wet, muddy, spit-up on, but can still look good with a pair of jeans or corduroy pants. These are the shoes that you pay top dollar (well, okay, moms are smart shoppers, so they'll of course wait for a sale!) for because they'll get you through anything and you need them to be dependable. I'm willing to bet that this mom (my son's classmate's mom) isn't even sure when her identity formally switched from people knowing who she is based on her own name to being "so-and-so's mom", just as I'm not sure when I made the switch to being Ethan's mom . . . and now Megan's mom.  Do I have to wear two pairs of shoes now???
The great thing about our roles, like our shoes, is that we can switch them out when the need arises. For instance, now that the kids are napping, I'm wearing my author shoes. OK, really I'm not wearing any shoes right now.  That's the great thing about being a writer - shoes aren't required.
I'm fortunate to live in the same community as my parents, something I might have been less likely to do earlier in my life, but I'm happy about now. Like me, they are both active in events and groups around town and in the Snoqualmie Valley - so, people know who they are. I find it remarkable that we know the same people, but in different contexts.  For example, when I wore my sassy outgoing co-president shoes for MOD (Mothers of Duvall, a social non-profit group I helped start) I talked with a number of great folks who work for the City of Duvall to get some community service projects in place.  My parents are both Chamber of Commerce members, so when they put on their goin' out, business developing shoes, they interact with many of the same people.  BUT, here's the funny thing . . . the City people are just now learning that when I take off those MOD shoes I sometimes put on my DAUGHTER shoes (funny how those have grown with me) - at the same time that my parents put on their Mom and Dad (Dad shoes are also virtually indestructible) shoes.  We're related!
It leaves me wondering how many pairs of shoes we all have stashed in our closets and if we're fair about which shoes we let out for a wander around our world.  I think it is important for our inner balance to give all of our shoes some time in the sun. That being said, I'm off to find my fun-loving wife shoes so they're ready for date night tonight. My mom and daughter shoes are always out in plain sight and my running shoes are ready at a moment's notice, but I'm afraid the wife ones have gotten buried. I know they're around here someplace!  
What shoes have YOU neglected lately?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Learning Day

Some days are great for running, and some days are great for giving your body a rest and focusing on other parts of your life.  Today is one of those "body rest/mind focus" days for me.
I admit, I've been reluctant to put some lessons I've learned into practice.  For instance, one of our business mentors promises that the key to success is making a specific number of phone contacts each day. For me, this has been a challenge.  Some might call it avoidance.  I'm perfectly happy to pick up a phone and chat with old college pals or family members, but making business calls ties my stomach in knots.  I'm not sure why I have this fear - those who know me will confirm that I have no problem striking up conversations in person!  The fear has left me grumbling at my telephone everytime I think of the phone contact lesson we were taught.  Yet, there is nothing motivating about grumbling, so the calls don't get made.
But today, within 30 minutes I made two phone calls that look like they'll be adding up to some great business for my book. I didn't even think about it as a chore when I picked up the phone the first time.  I was just excited to relay some information about my book, We Are Girls Who Love to Run, and an opportunity for me to do an author visit.  Yes, it helped that I know the person on the other end of the phone line.  As we talked, my excitement grew and it prompted me to make a SECOND call.  Yes, I knew that person, too.  But, the thing of it is, just thinking about that second call (darn, I had to leave a message!) inspired me to think about making a THIRD call!  Nobody had to twist my arm, it just happened.  Did I make the third call, you ask?  Unfortunately, I had an appointment so I couldn't . . . but, I think I'll replay today's excitement in my mind and then pick up the phone tomorrow and do it!
So, now, in addition to my running goals I am going to be serious about my phone call goals.  And just like running, I'll take baby steps.  2 blocks, 2 calls . . . 1 mile, 4 calls . . . I can do it! 

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Running with the boys

For the first time in a long time, it was our daughter who woke up the family this morning. Usually it is our son, the early bird, who announces the numbers displayed on my husband's alarm clock and insists that it is time for us to wake-up - even if the first digit is a 5, or even on occasion a dreaded 4. Much to my surprise, the numbers told me it was eight-zero-zero (as Ethan would read), about an hour later than Ethan EVER lets us sleep! Of course, he was up a few times over the course of the night, but I finally convinced him to settle in and rest by creating a "cozy bed" for him on the floor at the foot of our bed. There is something magical about that space for him. He slept there peacefully from four until eight (if you leave out the incident where our dog thought the space looked pretty cozy, too, and layed ON TOP of Ethan, resulting in Ethan shouting out "Bad Albus! No, no, no! This is MY bed!").

Since we were so late in prying ourselves from the bed, attending church was out of the question for us. We go to the early Mass only, as Ethan just doesn't have the right balance of energy, calm and curiosity for the later Mass. Though David and I decided last night that we'd both like to get in a run today, it just wasn't looking good. Then the phone rang. A phone call at 8:15 AM isn't always the most welcome, but this was by far the best call we've received before 9AM. My mom wanted to deliver a plate of her homemade cookies on her way to her church (of course, Mom, bring them right over!) and then suggested that she take Ethan and Megan to the service with her so they could enjoy watching my dad play with their church band (of course, Mom, I can have them ready whenever you'd like and I'd even be happy to put little Megs in a dress!). She suggested that David and I head out for some breakfast (knowning that sleeping in was a RARE thing and breakfast on our own is even more rare!) together while they were all at church.

We kicked around the idea of a breakfast outing for abut 2 minutes. We immediately knew that this was a chance for us to enjoy a run together outside and that it would be great, even if it was snowing. So, we got the kids fed and dressed, buckled them into their carseats in my mom's car and didn't look back to watch them pull out of the driveway. We were going for a run - together!

Our dog, Albus, loves to run, too. As we got dressed for the run, he immediately recognized the signs - clothes from the bottom drawers, white socks, running shoes . . . with each item his tail wagged faster and his eyes darted between each of our faces to see which of us would acknowledge that he was invited for the event. His running is the same style as David's - full speed ahead. It helps that Albus has four legs and David's legs are LONG. This speed is not my favorite, so Albus doesn't often get to join me when I run. BUT since David would be going, he received the much anticipated nod that he could come, too.

So, there we were, the three of us, running the hills of Duvall at 9AM. While the treadmill has kept my legs strong, it does have the drawback of keeping my lungs from getting the same experience that hills and cold air provide outside. Even with the few walk breaks I requested, it was a good morning to run. We waved good morning to our neighbor has he strung their outdoor Christmas lights - a festive picture, if not the ideal conditions he would choose for such a chore. The wind changed direction with each of our turns, encouraging the snowflakes to fly into our faces and stick on our eyelashes. I can't remember the last time we went for a run in the snow, which means it has probably been a few years. We'll definitely do it again . . . and maybe even give it a try with the kids in the double jogger, if need be.

Thanks, Mom, for sharing your morning with us all. We hope running around with the kids was as satisfing as our run around Duvall!

Friday, December 7, 2007


High school. These two words instantly conjure a tidalwave of emotions. Go ahead, ask anyone who has survived it and they can give you a seemingly endless list of adjectives that describe their emotions and experiences in those short, yet seemingly endless (there seems to be a recurring theme here) crucial years.
Why am I thinking about high school when I'm over ten years out of school and have two young children who aren't even close to entering kindergarten?  It seems that my book is one that will speak to the teen audience as well as the elementary age and adult populations I initially had in mind when writing it. Somehow in my path to bring this book to life (about three years now) I focused my energy on the girls directly served by the Girls on the Run program (and as I'm learning now through my entry into the world of running and self-esteem building for young girls - a good number of other programs!) and the adult runners that serve as mentors, coaches and MY peers.  I've been so focused on these two groups that I managed to glaze over a good quarter of girls' lives (the four years mentioned in the opening paragraph!) that are essential in the forming of a woman's identity.  Gulp!
I hadn't considered the application of the book to these girls until our web design service provider, Jenn, brought it to my attention. It just so happens that she is our local high school's drill team coach and is interested in me talking with her girls before they head to their national competition in February.  She first talked with me about her girls yesterday and mentioned that the book and the background behind it (ie all of the material she's helped us organize for the website!) have inspired her to add running to her life. First of all, I was stunned (and excited and honored and and and) that my book would have such an impact that it would encourage someone to run (maybe I should read it daily to encourage me to run a little more frequently myself!). Then I got nervous.  Those two words caught me off guard: high school.
In my copious free time (somewhere between business meetings, being a full-time mom, sewing a few dozen Christmas gifts, visiting the treadmill, making dinner, feeding the dog, actually having a real conversation with my husband once the kids are in bed . . . ) I've been planning an interactive author visit plan for when I visit schools to share We Are Girls Who Love to Run and the concepts behind it.  My vision for the visits include kids sitting in rows on the gym floor with their legs tucked under them while their teachers sit on small chairs at the ends of the rows monitoring the little critters.  After the kids applaud, they have 5 minutes to ask me anything they want to know.  Questions like "What's your favorite book?  Do you have any pets? and How old were you when you started running?" are generally what I play through my mind.
Enter the high school drill team.  I take a deep breath and plunge under the wave that's about to knock me over. My mind takes me back to my days on my high school pom pon squad (similar to a dance team/drill team combo). We were serious - serious about perfection, serious about practice (daily and weekend, not to mention the 6AM practices in the summer before parade season, camp and the start of the school year), serious about everything.  My experiences as a "pom" were quite mixed.  SO . . . now comes the challenge of sorting through the ups and downs, the reality of how it formed who I am today and my mission to promote a healthy, balanced life-style (my years on the squad were not a good example of this, but could have been with the right mix of mentors). 
I want to approach the girls so they get the message without me seeming preachy or too pie-in-the-sky optimistic.  I'm glad I have until January to work on this author visit, as this is probably one of my most important audiences - real girls who are looking for real inspiration to usher them toward their goals, and real girls who will see me for who I am.  I can't even imagine what the question line-up will be, but I do know that by facing this personal challenge and staying true to my beliefs and experiences that this girl (favorite book: Under the Tuscan Sun, pets: one black lab mix, Albus, age started running: 23) will be ready for any audience.
Thanks, Jenn, for providing me with this practice in self-reflection early in the book release. It is a great way for me to practice what I "preach" and recognize some of my own inner strength that is currently hiding.  High school.  Yeah, I can do it.  Bring it on! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Seattle Diva Dash

Saturday morning was a memorable one for two reasons.  First, Duvall experienced its first snow - appropriate for December 1st, don't you think?  Second, I attended the culminating 5K event, the Diva Dash, for the participants of Girls on the Run of Puget Sound. Held at Seward Park in Seattle, the event was well attended with over 800 female entrants!
I was dressed to run, and even paid my entry fee, but instead used my time to volunteer. The event was an opportunity for me to see scores of girls enjoying the fruits of 12 weeks of their labor with their peers, coaches and adult running buddies as they learned ways to recognize their inner strength and build positive self-esteem through the Girls on the Run program.  It also gave me the chance to meet a handful of the dedicated women that enable the girls to experience such a profound program - the Executive Director and Board of Directors for the Puget Sound Council.
Once I handed over my money, I met up with Chris, the newly instated Executive Director to see if I could assist with the preparations. Though there wasn't an immediate need for my help, within a few minutes the sign-in tent folks realized they could use another pair of hands on deck to get the lines of women ready to run. I teamed-up with one of Chris' daughters to help distribute t-shirts, tiaras and wands.  Remember, this was the Diva Dash - and though the girls and women were dressed in layers, they did it in style!  Oh, and we also passed out numbers - each runner/walker/jogger/skipper/jogging stroller rider received the number 1!  As this was an untimed event, each finisher was a champion.  Truly.
Before I knew it, I heard a woman announce that the race would be starting in 2 mintues and that all runners should be in place at the start line.  Start line?  Two minutes?  I was working on checking-in the final entrants (after nearly a non-stop hour of doing so) and wasn't even sure of WHERE the start line actually was.  I was also lucky to be sporting a coat that Chris' husband so kindly offered me, as I had left mine blocks away in my car (again, where I was lucky enough to find a parking spot for this well-attended event!).  The coat was warm and I was NOT ready to remove it!  Did I mention that the race was right along the lake and that the temperatures were in the 30's?  How about the wind - did I mentiont that part?
Well, unlike the gaggles of girls and the strong women running with them as buddies, mothers, sisters and friends, I did not have enough adrenaline running through me to shed the coat and run the 5K (I still also wasn't sure where the start was!).  Instead I helped those other generous Girls on the Run women break-down the sign-in area while I listened to coaching stories and the plans for the council's auction fundraiser in May.
It wasn't long before the first of the champions crossed the finish line.  As the women approached the line, the clouds parted and a much-appreciated sun appeared.  As appropriate as the snow was in Duvall, the streaming rays of sun at the finish were even more fitting.  Dads, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends and park vistors lined the path to the finish line, cheering on the smiling girls as they completed their final 5K for the season.  "You go, Divas!" cheered an encouraging voice through a bullhorn.
Part of me does wish I had run the race (about 10% of me!), but the warm part of me (nearly 80% of me, at that point) and the volunteer part of me (let's call that the other 10%, just to make the math easy) were glad to be at the finish line witnessing the joy of running and the wonder of girlhood.  You go, Divas!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Back to Yoga!

After a nearly 3 month break from my yoga practice, I am thrilled to report that I returned to my favorite Vinyasa class on Thursday night. Hooray!

My husband and I were in the great habit of going to the class together on our Date Night while our kids played at their grandparetns' house. Then cold season hit - HARD! Illness started with Ethan and worked its way around to each of us, at least twice. I've been to more doctors this fall than I've been to in the last 2 years combined. Thankfully we're all healthy now and hopefully we'll stay that way.

Getting back into the swing of workouts has been a bit of a challenge, but both David and I are getting there. I was the first to return to my runs. I haven't ventured outside to run with either of the kids in the jogging stroller, but have worked to stay loyal to our treadmill. While a treadmill doesn't offer the rolling (or killer!) hills, pretty scenery, or fresh breezes of outdoor running, it does provide me with a warm place to run on cold, rainy/snowy days and my kids can play or nap while I get my energy boost.

David is taking the macho route and has now returned to his outdoor lunch break runs. His running gives his brain some free time and ensures that he does see the light of day now that he arrives at work before the sun rises and heads home well after the sun has called it a day. Ah, balance.

But enough about running, I'm here to write about yoga!

Though my running habit was restored, I remained hesitant about returning to yoga. As the class is held during our usual dinner time and it was our date night, and with the colds, sinus infections and ear infections that took over our lives for so long, David and I did use a few weeks to go out for dinner so we could actually see one another without having to stop mid-sentence to wipe a kid's nose or check our watches to see which person needed which antibiotic. We ENJOYED that down time our dinners out provided. I wasn't immediately ready to give up that fun time.

Then I got a new yoga mat for my birthday. It beckoned me. "Hey, Brianna. Aren't I pretty? Come on! Take me to class. I dare you to break a sweat!" And so on Thursday, though David wasn't quite ready to join me, I took the plunge and went back to The Yoga Garden to see my instructor Sara and let my body flow through the asanas once again. Aaaaahhhhhhhh! Thank goodness for the lure of the mat!

When I arrived Sara greeted me so kindly and encouragingly. A hug and a smile assured me that I am always welcome at the studio, no matter how much time lapses between visits. Seven other students joined me for a thorough, yet gentle, whole body stretch and workout. We let Sara do the thinking for us, putting our brains on auto pilot as our bodies followed her directions. 75 minutes later I headed to pick-up our take out dinner (it was, afterall, still Date Night!) feeling limber, relaxed and rejuvinated.

Hooray for yoga! I'm back!

Originally posted 12/2/2007 8:57:04 PM

Another Marathon or another book?

My Spanish editor, Denise, recently asked me which felt better: the thrill of getting We Are Girls Who Love to Run to the printer or crossing the finish line when I completed The Sun Trust Richmond Marathon in 2003?
Those who know me, know that I am rarely speechless, but Denise's question did leave me surrounded by nothing but the gentle whir of my computer.  Really!  It took me a few minutes to consider the feelings associated with each accomplishment before my fingers could begin tapping out my response.  Here's what I shared with her:
"I did do a marathon, and as rewarding as that was, publishing We Are Girls Who Love to Run is even more rewarding as I get to share it with the world. Time wise, this was even more intensive, but like with training, I had people by my side. :)"
At this point in my life, I don't think I'll tackle another marathon, but I'm pretty certain that I'll bring another title (or two . . . or three) to life!
Originally posted: 11/28/2007 2:38:39 PM

Third Place Finish!

I was a bit bewildered when I checked Balanced Steps' post office box last week and found a letter addressed to me from Riverview Educational Foundation.  We haven't published information about our educational consulting yet, so I couldn't figure out how that group got my name and why they'd be contacting me.   I had my two small children in tow so I had to wait until I got them settled with toys at home to unlock the mystery!

Rrrrrrrip - I tore into the envelope to discover a white satin ribbon and a slip of paper.  The paper was a thank you for participating in the Turkey Trot (which, incidentally raised several thousand dollars for Riverview School District wellness grants!) - complete with this year's Jake the Turkey illustration by my book's layout artist, Kirk Werner.  The ribbon was even more exciting - recognition for placing 3rd in my age group for the 5K run!  I already felt good about my run that day, but this was icing on the cake. To top it all off, the note was signed by the race coordinator, a woman whose smile, energy, and dedication to the Snoqualmie Valley make her stand feet above her measurable 5' 2" stature.  A supporter of my book, she has this website bookmarked on her computer and went the extra mile (no pun intended) to track me down.  Thanks Paige!

It is funny to think that at the age of 29 I still get excited about ribbons and recognition.  I was happy to participate in the run because it is always fun to run with others, it supported learning opportunities in my community, and let's face it . . . I needed a jump start back into my own running routine after a few weeks of bad colds being passed around my house.  Placing in my age group was totally unexpected and the fancy ribbon is a nice bit of encouragement for me to keep plugging away at my running, 1 mile or 3 miles at a time, on the treadmill or on the trail, with my dog or pushing one of my kids . . .

So, now my ribbon hangs on the wall beside my computer, tucked into the picture frame with the photo of my husband and me crossing the finish line of the Richmond SunTrust Marathon. Both the 5K and the marathon finishes are memories I'll treasure.

originally posted: 11/28/2007 2:36:28 PM

REF Turkey Trot

Though the morning was chilly and drizzly, it turned out to be a good one for a run. I got the kids ready for the day while my husband caught a few extra minutes of sleep, then headed out on my own to join about 100 or so locals for the Riverview Educational Foundation Turkey Trot in Carnation. This relatively new race (this was the second year!) offers a 5K, a 10K and a scavenger hunt - The Wild Turkey Hunt Urban Legend.

I opted to run the 5K, as we've been passing around cold after cold at our house and I have only been able to run a handful of times in the last few weeks. This race was great motivation for me to get back into a regular routine of running. Also, I've been focusing on my foot strike form, so the race presented me with the opportunity to try out my new foot strike outside on a trail. This race was just the thing I needed all around!

There weren't many of us on the course this morning (compared to the summer races around here, anyhow) and I found that I really didn't know any of my fellow runners. I usually enjoy the energy of running with friends and neighbors that I know, but this morning I found that the energy in the air was just as positive and encouraging amid the crowd of unknowns, giving me an opportunity to reflect and truly focus on my return to running and my physical form. Yet another thing this usual social bug needed!

The school district's superintendent, Conrad Robertson, warned us at the start line that there might be a few muddy spots along the way and that we were welcome to run around or through any puddles on the course, the choice was ours. He got a few chuckles of response, but little did we know that in a few places there wouldn't be too much choice.

I found myself remembering Robertson's words as I watched the field of runners ahead of me seemingly dance across a narrow bridge, manuvering across the leafy, puddle heavy stretch of the course with fancy tip-toe footwork. I joined in with my own leaps, twists and occasional light splashes, thinking that the bike riders that were politely awaiting their turn to cross the bridge wouldn't have nearly as much fun as they rolled through our obstacle course.

Only one dog participated in the event, a young Weimaraner who doubled the distance her person had to cover to reach the finish line. I was fortunate to follow this twosome for the first third of the race, laughing to myself about how that pup really had no idea what was going on and why she wasn't allowed to take a dip in the river along the way. While the river was off limits for her, she did manage to take Robertson's words to heart, choosing to run full speed ahead through a LONG puddle, splashing her owner as she moved her gangly, too long for her body, legs. This was a good morning for a pup to run, too!

The race course took us along the outer loop of a Girl Scout camp. It was the perfect location for a fall race, which would have been even more enjoyable if the sun had graced us with its presence, BUT, still provided a calm atmosphere for the middle of the race. The unexpected suprise on this stretch was a cabin full of girls in their pajamas cheering for us as they watched us through the giant picture window. There they were, with pigtails and slippers, jumping up and down, waving excitedly as we hurried past and waved our own greetings in return. I wonder how many of those girls might lace up their own running shoes for a race someday in the future, thinking back on our field of runners as we trotted through the drizzly morning in conquest of the finish line.

In the end, this race was probably the slowest I've run (I finished right around 30 minutes flat), but it was what I'd consider one of my best. I took the time to enjoy what I was doing, I was focused on my body position and technique, and had time to reflect on my surroundings. Today's Turkey Trot reminded me of my passion for the sport of running - my love of the process, being in the moment and the groove of a good pace, respecting the generosity of the volunteers who enable me to race, and the fun of rubbing elbows with others who enjoy a good run.

Originally Posted by me on 11/10/2007 on the Balanced Steps site: