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

Posts tagged ‘Love’

The Journey Home

Many thanks if you happened to read my last post about our journey from Athens back home and prayed for our safety! I write now from the comfort of our bed and a body and brain still on Eastern European Time. We saw five airports in 34 hours (yes, there are more direct ways, but we have more time than money, no shame in our layover game!) and it was pretty emotional for both of us.

I. Leaving Greece

Leaving our hotel in Athens was very emotional. Not only were we anxious about a long trip, but neither of us were really ready to go. Our taxi driver took us to Attiki Odos – the highway – for one last time to the airport. We checked our bags, grabbed some dinner, and I ran to duty free to get important things! I picked out a box of kourambiedes, which are delicious almond cookies covered in powdered sugar, and my absolute favorite chocolate, Leónidas. I went back and forth about buying some honey because I wasn’t sure the security gods wouldn’t confiscate it as I went through each airport, but I learned later that duty free liquids are exempt from that stupid 100 mL rule! Good to know!

I thought I had bought everything I wanted to, but about 10 minutes before we were to start boarding, I remembered I had some unfinished business. I absolutely love stuffed bears and I wanted to get one! Thankfully, I found one on a keychain to join Travel Bear!

Ready as we’re going to be. At the gate, we boarded a bus to be driven to our plane. Old school! I cherished every moment we were still in Athens, even on the tarmac on a bus. Check out how we boarded the plane!

I settled into my window seat and looked outside wistfully. I am hard-pressed to think of a time I’ve felt more moved on a return trip. Adonis was saying leaving for him was tough because he wasn’t sure when we would be able to return to Greece. I touched the window, as though I could pet Athens. He was right. God only knows when or if we will be able to return. We prayed together and thanked Him for a wonderful time.

Wheels up.

II. Stop #1 – Barcelona

After an uneventful flight, we landed at 0:45 CET. We deplaned and navigated our way to baggage claim. Now the fun begins – how do we get to our next plane? I checked the departure board and noticed the plane we were just on was going right back to Athens. I sighed.

The signs in Barcelona El Prat were in 3 languages – the last language was Spanish, the second was English, and I THOUGHT the first was Portuguese, which in retrospect, was really stupid. Give me a break. It was late! After a while, it dawned on me that we were in CATALONIA and that language had to be CATALAN! Duh! We were definitely clueless as to where to go once we had our bags. My Spanish is decent and we asked someone where we needed to go, but only after we had been in a few círculos. Heh.

“DOES THIS PLACE HAVE ANY DECENT COFFEE?”

I had been preparing myself while still in the US for Adonis’ grumpiness when we left Greece. I had not been prepared for it to set in quite so quickly. “Dude. Spain has coffee.” We were both tired and exchanged words that likely won’t make it into any healthy marriage Hall of Fame, but the coffee was good! We passed some time by talking to my parents and Lil One. What I thought would be the trickiest of our layovers was passing fairly quickly.

We checked in our bags, found some breakfast, and by 5:45 AM, we took the LONGEST. WALK. EVER. To our gate. Seriously, it was insanely long and there was no way to shorten it. I know we were tired but Dios Mío. El Prat needs to tighten up. Adonis noticed that unlike in American airports, there was no option to sit near the gate without sitting at a business, like a bar or cafe. Pagar o estar de pie (pay or stand up), says the airport authority. We didn’t make it onto the plane until about 6:15.

Tired.

Wheels up.

III. Stop #2 – Madrid

As I’m sure you can imagine, the flight from Barcelona to Madrid was short and packed with commuters. It was a bit bumpy, but I managed to sneak in about 15 minutes of much needed sleep. Lucky Adonis was sleeping as soon as we were in the air and didn’t awaken until we landed.

Since we were leaving the Schengen area, we had to go through customs after collecting our things in baggage claim. After receiving my second of two Madrid stamps, we boarded the shuttle to our terminal, where we would wait about 3 hours before the longest flight of our journey. We got some coffee and snacks and I ventured to do something I never had – taken a shower at the airport! They were not scary at all, I am pleased to say, and I was happy to no longer be sticky. I felt as fresh as I could for having gotten 15 minutes of sleep in 30 hours.

Thankfully, the journey to our gate was not as obnoxious as it had been in Barcelona.

After boarding, we settled into our seats. I immediately prepared myself to sleep by spraying some aromatherapy spray on a pillow. Then I did something I have not done since 2005, incidentally on another New York bound flight.

I used the lavatory.

This might not seem so noteworthy, but that was exactly the THIRD time I’d been in 23 years, and I am not that infrequent of a flyer. When I was 10 I used it on a flight for the first time and I couldn’t figure out how to open the door to exit, just as the flight was getting pretty turbulent. I had to yell for help and it’s haunted me since. Notably, this was my first time in the lavatory since I started running and it just reminded me of a portable toilet. Nonetheless, I used it and got the hell out of there as others were still boarding.

Listos para Nueva York.

Wheels up.

IV. Stop #3 – New York City

The pilot had announced that he expected the second half of the ride to be moderately turbulent. The second. HALF. I thought to myself, hopefully I can sleep through the drama. Eat up and then take some Advil pm and knock out until ‘Murka. I also wanted to make sure I was able to buy something from the duty free magazine that I had seen on the flight to Madrid two weeks prior. How to sleep and shop?! Traveler’s dilemma!

As we were in flight, I had to go to the bathroom again, but as it were, my practice run made me feel more confident so I did so without fear. I closed the door behind me and then I heard a ding. My inner 10 year old panicked, but the 33 year old quickly did her business and got the hell out of there. I realized later that it was just the ding of someone calling for the flight attendant, not the *sit your ass down y’all!* ding of impending bumpiness. I think I’m not scared of the lavatory anymore! ✔️

I asked the flight attendant to wake me as the duty free cart was coming around, and she did. Indeed, the second half of the flight was bumpy as promised, but I found myself clenching less and less. Big planes matter, as does experience – I think this being my 8th plane ride in 2018 (so blessed!) is helping to put me at ease. I whipped out my credit card and got a lovely set of earrings. I can’t say I wasn’t happy to land safely, but nor was I in a rush to get off the plane.

After landing at JFK, we had to make our way to customs, where I was pleasantly surprised. I had been feeling so sad to leave Greece that I wasn’t expecting to be happy to be back in the US, but as soon as I saw the big “Welcome to the United States” sign leading into passport control, I broke into a big smile. As messed up as home can be, it’s mine, and I appreciate it even when my sleep is limited, apparently. The joy was quickly muted once we got into a miserably long line, and I can say this was the most unsavory part of our long trip. We got our things and guess what! My Greek cough syrup made it back!

One thing that struck me was how prepared I was to speak Spanish although we had made it home. It took me awhile adjust to feel average and not like an outsider for speaking English, especially since I was surrounded by Spanish speakers at JFK. The only difference was that from what I saw, the Spanish speakers were mostly customers and not staff as it had been for the last day of my life. I love the tapestry of America – seeing different last names on employee tags, recognizing the different heritages, yet all equally American. E pluribus unum, y’all.

We splurged and went to the lounge because the area by our terminal was SO. LOUD and we wanted a bit of respite during our last layover. Let me tell you something – Delta has great cookies at JFK. And chairs comfy enough for a tired girl to crash until her husband wakes her up.

Wheels up.

V. Home! Orlando

Well. I don’t have much to say about this flight. I sat down. I slept. My husband woke me up when we landed. Good job, Delta.

We got our luggage quickly and made our way outside, where The Big One and The Beard (her boo) were waiting outside for us, despite our having landed a bit early. She rocks. We had a quick ride home and debriefed them as much as possible on what had been the trip of a lifetime.

34 hours after we began, this happened.

Bear was thrilled to see Travel Bear and his new friend, Nikos. Petros, our fish, was delighted to see us, I must say. Splashing about like a mad fish, craving a snack like his Mom. My very thoughtful father had stopped by the apartment and left us Publix subs and the best pound cake in the world.

Our trip was truly blessed, from start to finish. While I am eager to get back to Greece, I want to always be thankful for the opportunity I had to go, even one time. I have more about which to write, including meeting family and a race report!

God is good.

The Happiest Place on Earth: Race Report

Yesterday rocked.

I was accompanied by Mom and Dad. Mom was racing too and cussing me the whole way to the start line. “Why am I up? It’s cold. I should be sleeping. This is crazy.” It was actually a bit colder than I was expecting, but it was supposed to be ideal by the time the race started. We got our packets, used the lovely portable toilets, I ate my pre-race navel and lined up at the starting line.

My playlist was set. 31:30. Too ambitious? Maybe. I was just feeling so optimistic! Garmin was on, but I didn’t want to stress myself out by staring at my watch, so I told myself I would turn it on but I would not look at it during the race. I wanted to see where my training had put me in my natural state – pushing, yes, but not killing myself. The hype man started the countdown from 10, and then the horn sounded. Tears came to my eyes once more. What is more beautiful than a chance to start again? I swallowed and made my way to the timing mat.

Two songs into my playlist, I saw the 1st mile marker. My body was feeling good. I pointed to the sky and asked for help for the next 2.1. I made another turn on this familiar Orlando course and saw a sign on a church. “Jesus Loves You,” it read in neon lights. I smiled as I continued running past the first water stop. I hadn’t been drinking water during any of my training runs and didn’t want to lose any momentum. Three more songs pass, as does the 2nd mile marker. I had done an amazing job on my playlist – the words and beat were helping me push forward. I saw a lady from Venezuela whose shirt read “God is with you” on its back – incidentally, near another water stop. Living Water, heh. “Gracias por tu camisa!” I yelled, thanking her for her shirt.

Two songs to go. Two turns to go. I am doing it. I was so happy to be running and feeling strong. One song to go. One turn to go. Final turn made. Finish line in sight. Aaaaand the first song comes on again. Blast you, point 1. I chuckled and found another gear as I crossed the finish line.

Mom had told me to come back for her, which I did, after I brought a snack to Dad, of course. I caught her on the home stretch. “Ready to run to the finish?!” “I will – at the stop sign.” That’s my Mom, ever the rebel. Gonna hit the gas at the stop sign. We went for it as I ducked to the left of the timing mats. I met with her on the other side of the chute. “Where are the race results?” said the woman who had been complaining to me all morning.

I had shaved 00:02:10 off my 5k time from November and Mom was a minute faster than a month ago! I was most pleased because my pace had been incredibly steady – each of my miles was within 20 seconds of the other. Boom. Mom commented that I looked like I just had had a facial. Nope. This is the glow that can only come from the happiest place on earth. A place of sweat, faith, strength, and growth. I want to stay here as long as I can. ❤️

Faith on the Run: Pre-Race Report

I have a 5k tomorrow! While I am confident I can complete the distance, I don’t know how I will feel while doing it or how my time will be.

This feeling is absolutely exhilarating.

2018 has been a year to reset thus far. I am humbled to have been able to find a rhythm with work and working out by using a meal planning service. I am finally making visible progress with my trainer and working out on my own in the mornings again. I know that this could change at any time, but while I have this I know it is something to be cherished. I started Couch to 5k again and completed 7 of the 8 weeks, and have only ‘come up short’ because my trainer suggested that I rest my ankle this week because I will not really progress prior to the race.

I am most happy because this year feels very much like the beginning of my running journey in 2013. At the time, I started with a pair of old sneakers in my closet and nothing but my app – no Garmin, no fancy shoes fitted for my running gait – I was just a girl who only ran after ice cream trucks and away from large dogs trying to lose weight. I have worked hard to simply do my best and not obsess over beating previous times and/or intervals, and am blessed to report that upon looking at the data, I appear to be improving without driving myself nuts.

I love that the anticipation of each training run has inspired both excitement and apprehension. The ability to put one foot in front of the other is a gift to be celebrated. Only the Lord knows how much longer I will have not just the ability to run, but to improve. I want so much to be a good steward of my blessings.

God built us to move forward, both literally and spiritually toward Him. The last 32.5 years have been a bit of a zig zag pattern for me, but tomorrow, I get to lace up and enjoy another new beginning, and Lord willing, another triumphant finish.

I Gots To Be On Fleek: Wedding Day Report, Part I 

Like you don’t already know how the happiest day of my life had to begin. 

  
N.B. How like Sex and the City. I get married and reveal my love’s actual name. 

Mommy had to come with me. On other days, she may have fought me, but I milked that “I’m the bride, you should do what I want” business for all it was worth. All I wanted was a little run! 

Let it be known to all that I am a traditional girl – Adonis and I could not see each until our wedding, but I knew we would be safe at that early hour. Mom and I strolled down the hallway past their room with confidence toward the beach. When we returned, I had Mom scan the hallway before we walked back to the room. I called Lil One from our room to see where Adonis was, after having made clear that I got to eat breakfast first. What? I just ran. Gimme a break. 

I enjoyed my last meal before my fabulous nuclear family grew. Will I still fit into my dress? God only knew. But there was unlimited bacon. Lightning could strike and I might not even get married. Eat up. 

  
After another phone call, I went up to the room to finish (read: start) writing cards for my parents, my soon-to-be stepdaughters, and husband minus 3 hours. I choked back tears as I wrote thank you cards to my amazing parents. What could I possibly say that could do justice to their efforts to serve God whilst raising me? I did the best I could considering my impending deadline – makeup appointment at 9 am! 

Mommy and I met Rasheena at the spa, who asked me what kind of look I was going for. “I’m not trying to look like a clown. Natural, please!” I was thankful that it only took 30 minutes to go from completely natural…

  
…to wedding day natural.

  
Some flowers in my hair…

   
 
I was pleased. This is happening!! 

After Mom and I carefully snuck back into our room, I got into what logically comes next, of course. My heart rate monitor. I had The Big One help me into my corset – responsible almost stepchild was ready with plenty of time to spare, thankfully. Didn’t want Mom to fuss at the fact that I wanted to measure my heart rate as I change my life! Am I so gauche as to wear my Garmin with a wedding dress? 

I found a way, and here it is –

  
This island girl is many things. Gauche ain’t one. Zoom in on my right hand, y’all. Crystal Garmin in full effect. I was going to measure the steps it took to change my life. Believe it. 

At 10:45, Mom, The Big One, and I went downstairs to our meeting place. Adonis was supposed to be already waiting for me at the altar. I stepped off of the elevator and looked toward the lobby and THERE. HE. WAS. I sprinted in the opposite direction around a corner, much to the chagrin of my mother, who was holding my train. It had turned out that they were looking for my Dad, who was hanging out with the pastor at the gazebo, hah! 

The wedding coordinator united us with Lil One and the 5 of us walked to where I was to emerge. Tired of waiting, I amused myself by playing ‘Here Comes the Bride’ on the keyboard of GarageBand, immediately followed by the theme from Jeopardy. The point came where I was “alone,” but I never really felt alone as I noticed guests of the hotel staring, or those who would pass me would wish me luck or compliment me. The bride took it in stride. 

The Garmin is turned on. Showtime. 

  

Hurts So Good

I aggravated an injury today. And I’m thrilled to death about it. 

You see, today marks my 2nd bloggerversary, which means it is my 3rd raceaversary! You know how important writing and racing are to me? My phone doesn’t even autocorrect fake words like raceaversary anymore. I find it incredible that I am still going. If you are a reader of my blog, you might find it incredible that I find it incredible, because I write with (what I feel is) great passion. I just didn’t think that I would stick with it based on my previous history. 

You know what the best part of my raceaversary is? The fact that not everything has been wonderful. I jacked up my ankle on my little 2 mile run today. I can’t say that I would have run if not for my raceaversary. I was, and am, quite tired. I feel huge from my honeymoon. I returned to work today. There is much to be done in our new home. I know that in order to be strong for my new life, I have to bear some things that I don’t want to, like hot runs or angry ankles. 

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the run today, I love that I did it. It means that I am a runner under any circumstance. I am able to get through (even seemingly) unpleasant things and see the good in them. If I hadn’t run today – if I hadn’t ever started running – who knows if I would have ever discovered that? 

Lord willing, I have many more steps to take. I am not sure how any of them will go. I know He is with me and because of that, I can move forward with great hope.

Happy Raceaversary to MEEEEE! 

  

The Setup 

3 days from now, I’m going to be a wife. Pretty big stuff. Adonis’s presence in my life has been a wonderful thing in more ways than I feel like counting right now. One of the things I’ve been reminded of since becoming engaged is just how much love I have in my life – from family, friends, and colleagues. I always have understood that I have been blessed with a lot of love but it seems to be coming out of the woodwork. I’m unsure whether people are behaving differently because these are just the things people do for future wives or perhaps I am simply noticing more things because Adonis has enabled me to be more receptive to love. I have a feeling it is a combination of the two. 

The love and wisdom I have received from  my friends is something I hope I will keep close to me as life continues. However, I have noticed a trending sentiment that disturbs me –

It’s all about you. It’s your day. 

I find the second part of the thought a bit less troubling in a certain context – ensuring that my voice is heard and my wishes expressed amongst a family of REALLY strong personalities can be challenging. I do believe it’s “my day” when it comes to things that don’t matter in the long run, like food and music. The wedding trappings. 

All about me, though? My protest, in part, is because I like celebrating myself. If today is all about me, does that mean other days can’t be about me? I get to a March 12, 2016 and from then on it’s about anyone and everyone else? That’s a bummer. I simply refuse to peak on my wedding day. It’s gonna be big and it may be the best day of my life thus far, but if it goes wedding day —> mortgage —> get fat —> kids —> death AND I don’t get to be a star anymore? I ain’t signed nothin yet! 

The above-mentioned trajectory minus the fat, however, is something that I embrace. I would never have been in a place to embrace it if it weren’t for everyone else. Beginning with my parents on the first day of my life, to my music teachers, to my friends and relatives, and eventually my students – my life has been touched by so many amazing people that have helped me to take my bravest step yet. I wouldn’t be Lady J without them. 

It does make me happy to celebrate our wedding. For sure. I will never forget sitting at my bachelorette party amongst 30 women – how could I have the audacity to say that anything is all about me? There was so much love at that table. If anything, I am pleased that I’ve provided an excuse for people to come out of their holes and love each other. I wish that life weren’t so busy that it has to take life-changing events to get people to show up sometimes. I am thankful that I have my friends, but I am also thankful that my friends have each other. 

I do not want to be setup to believe that anything can be just about me. That can’t be a good recipe for being a good wife, daughter, or friend. I sincerely hope I have been a loving bride-to-be, not consumed by all that is happening. Though it will look different, I believe I have been blessed with the type of friends who will be excited, present, and loving on March 13 and after, just like I will be for them. 

  

A.w. Really? An Introvert’s Tale

Am I an attention whore? 

As though push-ups and burpees are not enough torture before I’ve had coffee, Blonde Oprah said something to me that got me thinking. 

“You hate attention, but you love attention.” 

I don’t remember my facial expression, but I am sure it registered exactly what I was feeling. I know I didn’t respond because it is the kind of comment that is meant to stand by itself. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to say anything. I made a mental note to write about it later and I am thus here, wondering if what she said was true and/or okay. 

1. True? 

I don’t think I have a love/hate relationship with attention. I think I actually really enjoy it, just within certain contexts. It takes a certain personality to be on a stage, or to be in front of a classroom, or even publish a blog. I love to share, and more importantly, be understood. If I don’t think I will be understood, it’s not worth it to me to share. What is often mistaken for shyness is actually my belief in economy of words – I don’t like to waste them. 

2. Okay? 

Should I love attention? I believe it depends on the type of attention. If, for example, I am seeking your attention by clicking “post” and you decide to click “like,” should I care? I suppose I would like to know that I do not write in an echo chamber; that I am not alone in how I experience the world. 

I suppose the underlying question is the intention behind the attention for both seeker and giver. I do not feel competitive when I am sharing, I don’t think. I feel privileged when people share with me – but only when it is genuine. No pretense or shallowness. It is just hard to communicate with people because some of you suck really terribly. 

Ergo I return to my observer’s original statement, but I wish to modify a word to make it even more accurate: 

“You hate people but you love people.” 

Preferably one at a time. 

  

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