I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

I come from a very large family. My Dad is #6 out of 10. My mother is #6 out of 9. I have grown up celebrating this family reunions – some more organized than others – and now that I am in my 30s, there is a lot more gray at these reunions than I remember. Have you ever seen a sign like this at a workplace –

Days_Without_Accident Lord. I feel like someone is always either going to the hospital or coming out of the hospital. Perhaps there were never really carefree days, but 20 years ago – even 10 years ago – it didn’t feel like there was always something wrong with somebody I care about.

Adonis’s Mom went to the doctor last Tuesday complaining of pain in her chest. They ran some scans. Tumors on her pancreas and lungs. We went to the doctor two days ago for confirmation after a PET scan, and sure enough, it appears her cancer is advanced. We do not go to the oncologist for further information until next week, but her doctors have recommended hospice and palliative care for her.

I have cried almost every day since getting the news. She is 90 years old, but I am still not ready to let her go. I am not going to eulogize her here because dammit she is still making jokes and seems at peace with the whole situation, but I wish I weren’t having to think about this now – for several reasons. I don’t want her to suffer, but as long as she is doing pretty well, I want her here on earth. Adonis loves her to pieces and I’m doing my best to be here for both of them.

She even made me laugh on the way home from the doctor, who had said that one of the signs that her time is limited would be that she would be losing weight from lack of appetite.  We stopped at McDonald’s to grab something quickly. She got a quarter pounder and a large fry, and when we arrived home she shared with me and added salt to hers. I don’t know if she did that for our sake, but she ate half of the fries and half of the burger. So there it is. As long as there are fries, there is hope.

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Marvelous

Lady J is on her way home!

In my previous post, I was in the air headed north, and I am blessed to be headed the opposite direction, returning to my family and work. Our flight was delayed three times, only to be moved forward again (take away – if they say to be at your gate at your original time, they mean it), leaving plenty of time for questions. What is the cause of the delay? Weather? Maintenance? Is this going to be the type of flight where I will be wondering if my affairs are in order?

At take off, of course, I smell something strong. “Oh my gosh this could be it.” The flight attendant had said we could anticipate a smooth flight once we were at cruising altitude and I am here to tell you WE HAVE NOT REACHED IT YET. The most important question remains –

Should I relax and enjoy it? 

I always get window seats because I have a tendency to get claustrophobic and I love marveling at creation. Right now, I see nothing but a wing jutting out into cloudy darkness. I’ve written in this space many times that while I intellectually grasp that there is not a method of travel more statistically safe than this, I do not find myself clenching on car, bus, or subway rides. And yet, being up here is still marvelous. It is incredible that in mere hours I can be in a completely different part of the country, visiting people that I love. How wondrous that people have worked and are working continuously to make this more efficient and comfortable. In moments, I am going to be able to hit the publish button from 35,000 feet in the air. Plus, someone is going to come down the aisle shortly with some excellent snacks.

I have always looked at the term “first world problems” skeptically, because it seems like a way to dismiss the emotions of others. As a woman of faith, I’ve had no problem that cannot make me look toward the Lord for guidance. Dammit if some bumps don’t remind me to make sure my priorities are right. These bumps are nothing if not “self-inflicted,” as I wouldn’t be feeling them if I hadn’t wanted to have this amazing getaway.

Update: THIS PILOT IS A LIAR HE SAID THE BUMPS WOULD END AT CRUISING ALTITUDE AND IT WAS DEFINITELY FAKE NEWS

person in parachute gliding above mountains

I ain’t ready.

I suppose even the turbulence is marvelous in its own sneaky way, as I have no choice but to surrender to His will and the crew’s expertise. What could be healthier than remembering how little control I have?

More marvelous travel, please!

No Regrets!

Mommy has no choice but to shake her head and smile when I do something, like eat a plate of food that she has obviously set aside for herself, and she calls me out. My response is inevitably, “No regrets!” It’s not like I am going to lose her love, right? The food was calling my name.

I feel similarly about life at times. The world is my Mom’s plate for the taking. I write from about 10,000 feet, on my way to see The Mentor and run a race with her in her current home city of Washington, DC – one of my favorite places in the world.  I am insanely blessed to 1) have an amazing friend like her, 2) have the means to visit her, and 3) have a job from which I am able to take time to visit her. As I gaze out of the window and see God’s beautiful creation, I am made to smile.

Of course, since I am myself, I am unable to feel pure joy. We COULD crash any minute, you know. Also – am I working hard enough? Do I really have any discretionary income – you know, considering? Have I had all of my fun? Live update: we have made it to the gate and as long as I make it back (seriously, Lord, I’m kidding) my loan payment is still due. I will say this – my student loan debt has made me less afraid to die. But I digress, however slightly.

Am I living a life that brings the Lord glory? What am I doing? Is God happy when I am traveling and being the tax and spend Democrat that my Daddy says I am? Perhaps even more importantly, am I using my working days in a manner that pleases Him? What if I am doing everything wrong? How can I be sure that I won’t face Him some day and be greeted by a divine face palm?

At work, I seek to inspire others to tap into their capabilities. I want them to feel comfortable exploring, excited about creating, and willing to collaborate with their classmates to do so. I suppose God could find my desire to facilitate such things pleasing, though I feel I fall short often.

Sadly, my money goes to church with more frequency and predictability than I do. I was baptized in a white evangelical church where I received (and do receive, when I go) solid teaching, but it is difficult for me to cope with the fact that this demographic is the one that is MOST supportive of – well, you know. To be fair, I haven’t really been afraid in the last few years to schedule a race on a Sunday or train or just sleep in. Can I really not afford to give God a concentrated few hours a week? If what we value is reflected in our finances, how much more so with our time?

How much would it suck to be having a good ole time down here like an idiot and being doing it wrong? How can I know I am okay, so to speak? I want to nourish my relationships, professional and personal. I want to challenge myself to grow. I want to see things I’ve never seen before, but I want to do it all in a way that pleases Him. This is the only way I will surely have no regrets. I wish I knew exactly how to do it.

 

I’m a well-educated millennial. It didn’t take two masters degrees for me to learn how to balance a budget, but now that I have them, it seems that for the foreseeable future I will have a line item reading “Student Loan Repayment.” In my first years after school, I wasn’t really thinking about the long-term consequences of having them, but I was forced to when I tried to do the most adulty of adult things last year.

Adonis and I tried to buy a modest townhome and our debt to income ratio, because of my extensive education and my chosen underpaid profession, resulted in a denial of the home loan. Man, I cried and I CRIED. I felt – and still feel, to some extent, like a failure – despite everything I’ve achieved and how hard I’ve worked, my financial profile somehow makes me unworthy of this official step. I feel like I’ve ruined my life and I had the greatest of intentions in pursuing my education. While I am quite sure I’m not the only person in this situation, it is difficult for me not to feel self-pity.

money pink coins pig

How Banks See Me.

I have had several months to reflect on my impassioned reaction. It is interesting to me that I was so profoundly disappointed to not acquire something that I have been historically quite dispassionate about. I often say that I ran out of commitment juice when I got married – no. more. long. term. THINGS. EVER. When I think of homeownership, it honestly seems like a drag – the landlady has more responsibility than the tenant. The ONLY perks are 1) a fixed cost in monthly payment (hahaha that commitment is okay I guess) and 2) building equity. So why was I so upset?

Welp. The most reasonable explanation is that no amount of education can stop the ungodly reflex of lamenting that “everyone else is doing it.” Honestly, the worst part of that is if everyone else is doing AND not everyone else is as educated as I am, maaaaan I have really made some poor (rimshot!) choices. I am half-joking when I tell people that my mind is my mortgage, but for now, that seems to be true. Truer still when the literal meaning of mortgage – DEATH PLEDGE – is examined. I suppose no one would come to foreclose upon my mind and repossess my degrees, but it most certainly feels like it is going to be with me forever.

Paul wasn’t lying to Timothy.

For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:10 (NASB)

I have no wish to wander. Yes, I have an obligation to pay this debt, but that is no reason for me to pierce myself and pine for something that clearly God did not want me to have in that moment. Perhaps my name may never be on a title, but the most important title I will always hold is child of God. The debt I must focus upon is the one I have to God for making a meaningful life possible.

Pray for me.

S-M-R-T Ass! Race Report

The morning was cool and beautiful at 6:45 as Adonis and I left the house for the race. It was a nice change from the week, which had been rainy and/or cold. We found parking close by the race site and strolled through adorable Safety Harbor as we looked for packet pickup. It was nice being there early enough before the race not to have to rush and to have time to explore, with much love to my perpetually late parents. 🙂

3M was running the 10K, so we went to the finish line to cheer her on. She reported it being hot and I hoped foolishly that I wouldn’t feel the same way, although my race didn’t start for another 40 minutes.

i-am-so-7gtovh

I went to the bathroom for a 2nd time since arriving – I’m terribly paranoid about needing to go during a race, especially a shorter distance one. I even have a policy to stop drinking about 30 minutes prior. Since the race was in a public park, we had the option of *gasp* indoor plumbing! Amazing! That 15 minute wait in line was totally worth it. I took the time in line to finalize my race playlist. 33 minutes and change.

Adonis and 3M walked with me to the start line. As I found an appropriate place to corral myself, it dawned on me that I had neglected to warm up. I groaned to myself and hoped I would still have a good race. As the horn sounded, I wrapped up my obligatory tears and sniffles at the start of races and started toward the timing mat. I started my Garmin and my music and off I went.

I felt incredibly determined and focused with my first steps. I was well-rested and feeling confident. Quite frankly, I felt like a badass. Then I felt silly for feeling like a badass with my moderate to slow ass pace. “Who am I to feel like a bad ass in the dead ass center of the pack?” Sigh. I laughed inwardly at my ridiculous self-talk – I was already breathing too heavily to do anything but smile outwardly. How else am I supposed to feel as I am running? There’s no pace threshold at which I should be allowed to feel confident – I have been training regularly and I deserve to feel good RIGHT. NOW, just before making my first turn.

The first mile went by more quickly than I expected. As I passed the mile marker and my watch went off, fewer than 11 minutes had gone by. I pumped my fist and pointed one finger up, my way of thanking God for each mile and asking humbly to carry my legs through the remainder. I saw a sign that read “You are NOT almost there.” I was feeling good enough to laugh until I saw that there was a looooong incline ahead. Not cool – and I don’t just mean how 3M told me it was not cool (she was right, by the way). I grimaced and just pushed forward. I regretted not stopping at the first water stop and hoped there would be one at the top, but alas, it did not come until much later. The incline marked the turn around and I tried to motivate myself by reminding myself I would have a sweet downhill in a little while.

Meanwhile, in my pocket, my amazing playlist was thrown off by the fact that I had forgotten to lock the screen on my phone, so I was now hearing my songs go back and forth and finally one just stuck on repeat. I had planned it so meticulously and it was failing, but I thought to myself, “at least it’s a long one. I hear this about 2 and a half more times and then I’m done.” My 2nd mile took me more than 11 minutes, but I was still on track for my 33 and change despite my having lost my playlist to help me track. I felt slow and tired and I was now at the point I reach every race – why am I doing this, again? I got a reprieve at a water stop and walked for a brief moment. I took the time to reorient my thinking into something positive and told myself I would start running again on the one – it’s totally normal to plan intervals based on downbeats, amirite – and did it.

I dug for a final gear that I could not seem to find. That incline and the weather had pushed me and I realized I was doing my best. Nothing left to do but just go to the finish, and thankfully, it was near. I glanced at the timing clock and I knew I couldn’t slow down if I wanted 33 and change not to become 34 and change. I saw 3M at the chute but I couldn’t shout out because I was damn near out of gas. Adonis saw me and reached out his hand and I managed to high five him. I high fived another stranger as I gave my last effort to the finish.

Boom. 33:43. Down from 35:27 four weeks ago. Goal met. I am S-M-R-T. ❤

 

Well Done, Miss

January 31. Just like that. Here are some key stats:

  • Weight lost: 0 pounds
  • Miles run: 54.2
  • Races run: 1
  • Days practiced: I don’t know, but I played well in a recital, so enough for now

This begs the question – how well am I resisting?

I. The temptation to overeat

I am breaking even. I will confess that I regret weighing myself a few days ago and seeing that, in that I was a bit less motivated to run. Naturally, everything is fitting the same way, but you know, sometimes you just hope to step on the scale and see a miracle. 🙂

II. Nonlinear progress

Although the scale is not budging, I can’t be mad because I’ve been eating whatever and it has been delicious. That being said, I am seeing my resting heart rate come down and I am getting better sleep, so the running is not a waste. I’ve got do to better in February, though, because I’ve got a 10 miler with The Mentor coming up and I already have no hope of keeping up so I’d rather not have negative hope and extra weight.

III. Comparing Myself to Others

I’m especially impressed with myself because I went to a recital and heard some really talented teachers, but I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. Playing the piano can be fun and I think I have a specific calling, so for today, I’m secure. I know someone else could be doing it, but I don’t see anyone else around doing it for right now, and here I am, living life, so I may as well make the best of it.

IV. Allowing the evil one to steal my joy

This past week, I have been looking for any reason to laugh. At myself, with my colleagues and friends, at anything. I’m just ready for a good time even though nothing is really different. When I am happy, the key is to allow it even though I suspect in a week or two I will feel as though the world is ending.

V. Minimizing my accomplishments

I guess 1 through 4 aren’t too bad.

VI. Not prioritizing my time. 

I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to play this past month and that I am on track to complete my 1019 km in 2019! It has been tricky but I’ve been making it work. However, I know that I have to be feeling positive to feel like it is worth it. I was extremely tempted to skip my running for the week because my weight hadn’t moved, but I reminded myself to not minimize my accomplishments, which helps me to prioritize my time.

Onto February:

  1. Weight loss: 5-7 pounds
  2. Miles run: at least 54
  3. Races run: 2
  4. Days practiced: whatever I need to be able to play through the first movement of Florence Price’s Piano Sonata.

black-rosie-cropped

Can My Cycle Be Broken?

My life is fantastic. Until about 10 days ago, it was unbearable.

pms2

I know all women experience some degree of mood swings, but I am starting to think that feeling like I have amounted to nothing and should just give up for half of the year is a problem, to say the least. It is January 27 and I am on track with my running goals and just played successfully in a recital. I just had a student at work sing with the All-State Elementary Chorus, and generally my students seem to be learning and enjoying music. However, depending on what day of the month it is, my life seems to be falling apart.

I have been getting good sleep and regular exercise. I can’t say that I remember it being quite so dramatic when I was at a lower weight. I don’t care to go on a lower carbohydrate diet, but I keep reading that it would be good for PCOS, which I was diagnosed with 15 years ago. I know I have a tendency toward anxiety and depression. I don’t want my running to slow (it’s slow enough as it is) because I’m not having so many carbs. What are my next steps? Nutritionist? Therapist? I feel like if I could have the feeling I feel on the 3rd day of my period all month long, I would be the most productive person in the world. It is difficult to enjoy being happy when I know that I am going to wish for the rapture by the 10th of each month. Like I said two weeks ago, I have no choice but to push forward.

 

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