Two Extremes Blended

I feel as though some aspects of my life are slipping through my hands. Its as if I can’t hold on them, no matter how hard I try.

The reality is that as I get older, the more I realize that I cannot control control anything in my life. Try as I might, life will always get in the way. There will always be outside forces that throw off a plan. Days will start off great and occasionally end with fear or sadness. But I have to cling to the hope that I am exactly where I need to be and doing exactly what I am called to do.

As I continue to think over the last month of my life, I realize how different it is today then what I thought it would look like. So much change, from heartbreak to immense joy. It’s this balance that I have never experienced in my life. The desire to cry and smile all at the same time. Being on this emotional roller coaster that shows no signs of stopping.

I’ve experienced a loss that I never imagined I would have to go through or witness. I’ve watched my best friend lose her child and have sat alongside her in the midst of intense grief and sorrow. I’ve felt this grief myself and its hard to shake the very real reality that we will not have this little on in our lives.

I’ve experienced the great joys at the same time. A new start and chance for my heart to see what good things can happen. Continuing to chase a dream and desire to run with my whole heart. To inspire the world around me in the midst of everything taking place in my life. And to reflect the life and love of Jesus in the midst of everything.

And I am realizing how hard it is to juggle. That these two extremes are so blended and embedded in my life that it seems that they will never separate, no matter how hard I try. But it could also be that I do not know how to handle grief. To sit with these feelings instead of compartmentalizing them and pushing them away until they force their way out.

As I continue to sit with these extreme feelings, I can’t help but be numb. Because in some way, being numb is way easier then actually feeling. Feeling so sad that their seems no way out. Or feeling so filled with joy but secretly waiting for it to be shattered. It’s the dark twisted side of my mind that is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the reality to snap me out of where I am. Even though this is my reality and unless I cause a drastic shift, its not going to change.

I have to remember that time heals all wounds. The wounds of sorrow and loss and the wounds of being hurt again. I know that eventually I will be ok with the loss that I’ve endured and accepting of the joy’s that are in my life. It’s just that right now it feels as if it is all slipping through my hands and I can’t hold on to any of it.

I am reminded that I am not along in these feelings. That I am not walking a path uncharted, no matter how isolating it seems. I am not alone and in a strange way it brings me comfort. To know that others can relate. And if you can relate, feel free to reach out. And if you happen to be in the midst of something similar, also reach out. The only way we can get through this is to be here for one another. Because none of us are actually alone.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

To live with intention

What does it mean to live?

To live a life so filled with experiences and joys that you never realize how full your life is until you stop to really think about it. To live with vulnerability, openness, and a love that reaches out to others, regardless of who they are. To be willing to take the first step, even though you don’t know the road it will lead you down.

I’ve started to realize over the last few weeks how I am living my life. How my desire to show others that I care has helped deepen friendships and form new ones. The ways in which my passions have brought new experiences and people into my life. How my desire to live a fearless life has created stories that I could have never imagined.

And then, today, I saw this quote:
“Live your life with intention.
Live the life you’ve always dreamed of;
The life you have always imagined living.”

And it hit me. I had always imagined this life for myself. And up until a few years ago, it was just a day dream off in the distance that I hoped to reach but never thought was possible. That is, until I started living with intention. The ability to chase a dream, the desire to improve my life, the willingness to step off the edge into the unknown and embrace the risk. One day I just decided to change. To take one step into the unknown and see where it would take me.

But it took years for me to realize it. To see how different my world is, how God has walked me through the highs and lows that have brought me here. And the amount of thankfulness I have is indescribable. I am filled with a deep joy. And even in the midst of chaos and difficult seasons or excitement and smooth waters, I know that I am exactly where I need to be and where God has intended me to be.

To be able to look back and see the path that has unfolded around me reminds me of the ever present goodness of God. Someone told me once, “If you knew everything that would happen between today and five years from now, would you still take the first step?”. And it helped me realize that I don’t want to know the future of my life. I want to have goals and desires, but knowing all the steps along the process before they happen would cause me to step back and not take risks. And I would not be thankful for the journey.

Regardless of what your journey looks like, what your life looks like, or how close you are to your goals, take some time to look back on how far you have come. Think back to your first run, that race you accomplished that you never thought you would, the trial you thought you would never get through. Remember how it felt to push forward, even though it was difficult. How the journey has shaped you into who you are right now. And be grateful for everything that has taken place. It’s only in growth from our past that we can push forward into the unknown of our future.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

A follow up

My story started off like a majority of running stories.

Girl falls in love with boy. Boy breaks her heart. Girl is left to pick up the pieces. Boy is never to be heard from again.

The fact that this is a common reality for a lot of women runners says something. There is something about a broken heart that drives you to do desperate things. Things you would never think of doing. Like jumping out of a plane. Traveling the world for the sake of finding yourself. Learning to cook. Moving to a new city where you know no one. Figuring out how to figuratively and literally place one foot in front of the other and move your life forward.

But what do we do when the past catches up to us? How do we handle when the wounds we thought were healed are ripped open again, leaving us with a sting of pain similar to what originally happened.

I am branded by what happened to me. Some days I feel that people can read what happened to me on my forehead. “Ghosted at wedding, never to hear from him again” is what it reads. “Broken hearted but trying to heal”. Looks of sorrow and pity, people taking refuge on you and reminding you at all times to take care of yourself and to allow time for what happened to heal. But I thought I had healed. Why is this something that keeps coming back to haunt me?

A year ago I wrote a piece titled “To the one who broke me”.  A thank you letter to the man who decided that I was not worth his time anymore and ghosted me on New Year’s Eve at my friend’s wedding.  I publically made it known that I cared so much about one person who didn’t entirely feel the same, to the point where he cut off all contact from me for over two years. But in those two plus years, so much happened in my life.

I found who I was. The person God was calling me to be. I learned some of life’s hardest lessons, like patience, healing, self-discovery, and how to forgive. Or, at least, I thought I had learned how to forgive.

When I took a risk recently, all in the pursuit of being fearless and believing that I am worthy of giving and receiving love, all I could think of was- would this person do exactly like the one before did? Would he leave me here waiting for hours, only to never hear from him again? That is a scary thought to think as you are driving to meet someone and share your heart. This is a moment where my past came back to haunt me. Where all I could think about was how one person tainted my entire view of relationships.

You see, in December, I finally got an answer from the man who ghosted me. Almost three years to the day, after a few messages to not much of an answer, I finally got a response. And in no way was it what I was expecting. It was a shift of blame, a best of luck in what you pursue, a door shut in my face for what I hoped would be the final closure I needed to truly end this chapter in my life. I thought I had forgiven him, moved on in a way that seemed best. But, it turned out that all I had done was shifted this chapter to the back of my mind, hoping to never revisit it again.

And that is the funny thing about life. It has a way of bringing you back to the things that you never wanted to revisit. Reminding you that with time, patience, healing, and wise counsel, you will forgive and move on from what took place, no matter how earth shattering it might have been. I can’t sit here and tell you I know what the other side of this looks like. I am still sitting among the pieces, trying to figure out what true forgiveness looks like, how to move on when I know I will not see him again, and how to remind myself that not all men are the same.

I can tell you, that when I showed up to that coffee shop a few weeks ago, I was reminded that good men do exist in our world. That people do hold up their ends of commitments and show up. And even though things did not go as I would have hoped, they went in a direction that is helping me learn to heal. In so many ways. And if any encouragement can come through this, it is: People will continue to surprise you, your heart will remind you what healing it needs, and eventually you will establish a new view of what was once broken.

I am far from being done with this chapter. This seeking of forgiveness, of remaining thankful for what has taken place in my life regardless of how challenging it has been. For now, I will continue to seek God’s favor, to welcome people into my mess without fear, and learn how to let true, complete healing take place in my heart. Only time will tell where this adventure is leading. And I, for sure, am not ready to give up yet.

Embrace Your Body, Right Where It Is At. 

“How to drop 10 pounds fast”, “Do these 3 exercises for two weeks and get a six pack”, “Lose body fat fast with this simple ingredient”, “Get summer ready in 4 weeks!”. Everywhere we look, society is telling women that we need to improve the way we look. Just existing in the world as we currently are is not enough. The work we put in to being out strongest self should be kicked up a notch to reach this societal ideal of what strong looks like.

The latest in conflicting messages is to embrace who you currently are but always continue to strive for your best self. How do I embrace who I am currently when the world around me is telling me I need to lose another 20 pounds to be deemed acceptable? Wither we realize it or not, we have let society tell women what they should look like in order to gain worth and love. When in reality, we get to decide this each and every day.

As we enter into summer, the messages our culture is throwing at us will get stronger. The magazines in the checkout line will scream at you with headlines on how to lose weight, look great in a bikini, burn fat, and more. If you don’t believe me, just take a look next time you are at the grocery store and happen to not be in the self-checkout line. But, when we look to people like Kelly Roberts, Mirna Valerio, and Candice Huffine (among countless others), we are seeing strong women who are embracing their bodies and encouraging women to do the same.

As we march into the summer, I am reminded that it doesn’t matter what society tells me I should look like. My worth is based on how I feel. My body is a machine that is doing amazing things. And when I run a race, in a sports bra, showing my rolls and stretch marks, I feel strong and worthy. My encouragement for you in these summer months are to embrace your body. Each day you get a run in, chase your kids around, eat a delicious meal, or show up for yourself, thank your body for getting you to this place. You are worthy of love. You are beautiful, regardless of your size. And you are strong, even if you feel weak.

There is an art within vulnerability.

There is an art within vulnerability.

The willingness to share exactly what is going on in your life. To let someone in on the struggles, the complications, the mess that you sit in. To share your heart and know that it will get hurt. To let someone see the real side of you that you hide from the world. We live in a world focused so much on the highlight reel that we forget that aside from the highs, people live lives that are filled with secret spaces.

I am realizing within my own journey the need to share aspect that others would otherwise push aside. But, I am the type of person that can’t handle ambiguity. Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable and can create situations within my mind that get out of control. And when I stop to think about it, to sit with this unsettling, I’d like to think that ambiguity drives most of us slightly nuts. It creates unseen situations in our heads, hands us unrealistic expectations that we place on others, and is the driving force between what is reality and what is made up in our mind.

Sharing with others is also something that I am not good at. And this realization has taken place over the last few days. I am realizing that I like to keep people at arm’s length. To have the ability to let someone in to my life and mess on my terms and in my own timing. Yet, my own timing causes me to feel isolated, burnt out, and in dire need of community that I didn’t realize I was pushing away.

These aspects of reality are part of the mess that I seem to be in and that I can’t just shimmy my way out of. I have to take the time to sit with what is going on, the way things currently are, the place I find myself, and allow time for processing and questioning.  Questions like “What is God up to?”, “How did I end up here?”, and “What is next when everything seems so challenging at this moment?”. The types of questions that no one likes to ask themselves, let alone let someone else in to help them answer. Thanks social media for creating a world of highlight reels to compare our lives filled with non-highlight reel moments. You have made expectations and reality hard to grasp, causing people to think their life is worse than a majority of our own friends, when the reality is we all have our own mess to sit with and deal with.

I can’t lie within the walls of my own heart. I am searching and seeking right now. What is happening is all in the perfect timing of a perfect God who cares so much about me. I know that there is purpose for everything going on. I know that through the various things I do, clarity will come. God is walking people directly into my path and setting up divine appointments that I couldn’t even imagine. Though this time is challenging, I am thankful. Thankful for those who are walking alongside me, those who get that my means of therapy are running, those that are ok with letting me sit in silence in front of them even when it seems uncomfortable, and for those that can tell with one look at me that I am in need of love.

I’ve said it before, but community is the biggest thing that keeps me going. It’s the people who step in and reach a hand down into the pit and remind me that I am not alone. This is why I am always sharing that people need to find their community. The people who get them, who reach out, who sit and listen, and challenge with what is next. Find your people and love them hard. Don’t be afraid to share the depth of your heart and ask for help. And don’t be afraid to go for a run when you should be asleep. Sometimes the best therapy after an emotionally trying day is an “anything goes” run and good conversations with friends.

Until next time
-Be fearless, go boldly

Going in blind

Last weekend I had the privilege of joining many people, from all walks of life, in the Snoqualmie Valley Half Marathon.  Not knowing exactly what to expect for this race, I went in with the intentions to have the best time possible. Simply because if fun is not had, why am I even running?

To my surprise, this race is actually more of a trail race. It starts off with a lovely 1/2 mile through the Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation, WA, but quickly changes terrain from there. We dipped under a bridge and hit a section of very large loose rocks of 1/2 a mile, until we reached the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Little did I know that this trail was compacted dirt and gravel, not a paved trail like many that I train on (shout out to the Sammamish River Trail!).

To say I was shocked is an understatement. Nothing on the race page has said this is a lovely out and back on a unpaved trail. We were just informed it was a lovely out and back…. and trust me, I am the type of person who does more research then necessary to feel confident in what I am doing. That research lead to nothing in regards to this trail being an unpaved path.

You might not know this, but running on a paved path is completely different then a trail. Trails provide many unknown variables and use up a greater amount of energy. I set into this race knowing that my times and strength have improved greatly over the past eight months, so I expected a pretty good PR. That was quickly tossed out the window. But surprisingly enough, I did pull off a 30 second PR from my last half marathon, which was the Seattle Rock n Roll last June.

Though this race was not what I expected, I still greatly enjoyed it. Since it is on a trail, there is no need to worry about cars. The trail crossed one main road, and a very kind police office was monitoring it for us, as well as giving out cheers and high fives. Support was minimal since we were on a trail, but the views were amazing. There is something about being amongst the evergreens that just gives me chills and warms my heart, all at the same time. Its the simple things that made me fall in love with this course.

You see, my goal for next year (Yes, I am already planning for next year) is to play in the trails more. I want to do a 50k trail race. But I didn’t know that a similar experience would kick off with this race! This race showed off beautiful views of the valley, river, farmland, and crossed paths with many cyclists. Its false flat course was a slight challenge till the turn around, but it allowed for great opportunity to work on my mental game.

The out and back allowed for cheering of the lead runners, as well as everyone else. Since my goal is to have fun during races, I always make an effort to give out high fives, cheer others on, and just be a bit goofy. Like I said- if I am not having fun, why am I running? When you cheer others on or give high fives, you get to see their face change, and realize the impact you are making on them when they may be struggling in their own race.

Overall, this race was good. If anyone is up for a challenge, I would suggest running this race. Don’t forget your trail running shoes, if you have them. But be prepared to fall in love with Western Washington and trail running. Thank you Orca Running for this opportunity. You put on some amazing races and give out the best race photos. Oh, and did I mention the really cool medal and race shirt?! Yeah, all around this was pretty great, even though I did go in blind.

I am still on the hunt for a road half marathon, simply to see where I am at currently. My next big race is on September 30, running the Bellingham Bay Marathon. But, I am always up for more races, especially during this next training session. If you have a suggestion on a fun half, send it my way.

And as always, I can’t wait to see you all out on the road (or trail!).

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Why I am proud of you

It’s not often we tell each other that we are proud of the effort we put in. I have started to realize this when I tell people who have given their full effort and fallen short. I share with them how proud I am of them for trying, for the dedication and work put into what they view as a failure, and I tell them that I am proud of them. The look I commonly receive is one of puzzlement. Why would someone be proud of a failed attempt?

I keep thinking to the saying “The hardest part of taking the leap of faith is jumping off the cliff”. And it’s so true. When you take the first step to try something- running, singing the national anthem, training for a huge race- the hardest step is believing the possibility of doing it and placing the thought into action. And this is where I am proud of you most. You see, its easy to fall, its hard to trust that the fall with be worth it.

I am proud of you for taking the first step. For continuing on the tough days, when everything seems worthless. For showing up on the day of the big event. And for giving your best effort. Yes, you may succeed and you may fail on the big day. But when you start to view each day as a gift and another opportunity to give your best effort, you never actually fail. Even if you mess up the song, miss your goal time, or have a DNF.  If you give your best and remember the work you’ve put in to get to this point, it is never a failure. NEVER.

So for those of you who have struggled (which is all of us!), know this: I am so proud of you! You have done something amazing, regardless of the final result. Be proud of yourself and where you have found yourself. You are the strongest version of yourself today. And you should be proud of everything you have been able to do. Now get out there and keep chasing down the impossible, regardless of the outcome.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly