May the Fourth be with you

There’s no reason for that title. Except it’s May 4th and I raided my husband’s side of the closet to wear a shirt with the Millennium Falcon on it.

I was thinking about my “Book of 2017” the other day. 124 pages have been written and more of those have been “high points” than not. We spent a week in Seattle with friends and family. We relaxed and visited. We did some touristy things. We went to a concert and then hung out in a tiny little pizza parlor with delicious local sodas and laughed…a lot. We got a break from the OMG BRUTAL winter. My doctor put me on a once a day insulin shot and it did WONDERS for managing my blood sugar. I’m even racing again this year and have started training. I went ball room dancing with a friend while Jon was out with his friends. We spent a Saturday exploring parts of Idaho I had never seen…and saw a herd of elk. We’ve had an abundance of comfortable, enjoyable evenings at home. We’ve watched movies, been to concerts, survived a week of multiple not-small injuries to family members, spent quite a bit of time with friends. I’ve started reading some fascinating text books. Oh…and I accepted a job with Mission Aviation Fellowship that starts on the 15th. Yep. MAF. Where my husband works (and TheKid for now) (But we only overlap for 5 days.) (And that’s good considering he’s also moved home).

We’re about a third of the way through the second quarter of this year. (How convoluted can I make that?) In many ways it’s slipped past quickly, almost without notice.  But my goal is to be more intentional with both my relationships and my time the rest of this quarter. Hopefully my hubby and I will be carpooling pretty often (ie, I will be chauffeured…my life is rough) and we joined the same gym. I’m kinda excited to see how the extra time together and the new commonalities affect our relationship and how we can use that. I’m very excited for the environment I’ll be operating within now although it does mean being firmly inside a Christian “bubble”. I’ll have to be very aware of becoming insulated against the world.  But it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside so I’m naturally more optimistic….and I’m kinda excited for the next 56 days…and beyond.

Two pages down, 363 to go.

365-page-book

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day. I don’t know if Brad Paisley actually said it or not but I rather like the sentiment. It seems everything I’ve read lately has discussed finding (or re-discovering) your true identity: those passions and activities that light you up and make you uniquely you, the traits that have been with you since childhood but perhaps have been buried in the responsibilities and ‘should’s of adulthood. I wasn’t feeling particularly unsure of my identity. However, I did realize that reading and writing have always been integral to my life but I have let them slip to the back burner in the past few years. It’s easy to let happen when doing the whole wife/mother gig and picking up random hobbies. The idea of reintegrating them reinforces that whole restoration theme.

I’m not saying I’m writing all 365 days this year (Ha!). I’m not even setting a goal to write on a set schedule or read X number of books. In fact, if we’re staring at blank 365 pages, mine is off to a slow start. Yesterday we went out to breakfast and upon returning home, I promptly crawled onto the couch and stayed there watching a Fast & Furious marathon until bedtime (with a break to watch football while Tokyo Drift was on because that movie does not count). No shame. Day two has been moderately more productive with dinner cooking in the crock pot, a clean kitchen, a brief yoga session and lots of reading. Most might not consider that a story worth reading but it has been perfect for my last day of vacation. Obviously I don’t know what the next 363 days will bring but I have an idea what I would like them to look like.

 

Time Marches On – 2017

Another year is almost in the books and the natural inclination is to look ahead to the new one. I don’t make New Year resolutions. I don’t particularly like setting myself up to fail. But as I’ve considered what I would like my life to look like in the coming months, one word keeps coming to mind: Restoration.

It’s the same word that resonated at the end of 2015 when I was preparing for my previous trip to the Philippines. But it made sense at the time. I was tired and felt burned out and ill equipped for the trip. I spent the few months before departure focusing on rest and restoration.

This time I don’t feel burned out or bone weary tired but I feel this need to pull back and focus on the details of life that matter most. It’s a desire to focus on restoring habits that strengthen my health on all levels: physically, spiritually and mentally. It’s a craving to spend more time in quiet moments and activities like reading and writing and prayer. (Perhaps not coincidentally one of my Christmas gifts was a coloring book and colored pencils. Perfect.) It’s wanting to spend time in the kitchen cooking meals that nourish my family and friends and relying a little less on chicken from the deli or Papa Murphy’s pizza. It’s wanting to sit across from friends, coffee (or tea) in hand for more time than I spend in a gym.  The closest relationships in my life deserve purposeful cultivating instead of just “letting them happen”.  But for when I AM there, it’s a focus on yoga and swimming rather than heavy weights and running shoes.

I don’t know that this is my “Word of the Year” or that it is the theme for the next 365 days. But it’s what I’m starting with and what I’m using as a guide for life and calendar decisions right now.

Looking Back on 2016

I think I’ve said this before but I love fresh starts. I love new notebooks, with crisp empty pages and a new pen. I love Monday mornings. I love the beginning of school years and the new year. It’s odd I’m not a morning person but that’s one fresh start I wish society would agree to begin a little later.

2016 has been a hard year. From terrorist attacks and the groups sponsoring them, refugee crisis, Aleppo, mass shootings, earthquakes and typhoons and hurricanes, Zika and deaths and a contentious election season and tension between police and citizens…and clowns. Of all things. Clowns. There’s a universal cry of “Good riddance 2016″…as if switching the pages of a calendar has any power.

Personally, 2016 has been neither singularly difficult nor easy-breezy. I began it in a slum in the metro area of Manila, Philippines, surrounded by my team playing games, eating balut (other team members, not me), singing worship songs and cringing as the locals set off fireworks that made the area sound like a war zone instead of a celebration. And while that was a hard trip and I missed my family & friends often, as the clock struck midnight there on January 1, 2016, I was exactly where I wanted to be. I came home sick, got better and felt fantastic. I had a LOT of fun learning to play softball and training for a triathlon that I did not intend to do but gave in to peer pressure. Then we found out we had to move and began a frantic house search, while my husband was out of the country. And in the midst of that, I was diagnosed with diabetes started meds and went from feeling great to…not. My parents came to visit, my father had a massive heart attack but was treated quickly by a top notch group and is fine. Our middle son graduated high school. We moved into a house that is more room than we need but allows us to host guests like I’ve always dreamed (and it was an easy EASY move). Our youngest son started 7th grade in a new school…public for the first time. The oldest started a great job with the same organization where Hubby works, moved out and bought a truck (& a cat).  The middle son start college and a job that he loves. I started a new degree path and dropped my classes because I wasn’t physically able to juggle work, family and school. Hubby traveled out of the country again. We watched a LOT of Olympics. Hubby’s Grandma turned 100.  We both turned 40. Close friends moved away. We went to Salt Lake Comic Con (and had a blast). I fully intended to journey back to the Philippines in December but due to my health, that was not the wisest choice. Many tears were shed over that decision even knowing it was the best one. We had a low key, relaxing Thanksgiving (thanks to my sister-in-law hosting), and a wonderful Christmas. It was a whirlwind of a year and I am sure I’m forgetting something. But I’m ready to shut the book on 2016 and move on. Not because I think the stroke of midnight on December 31/Jan 1 holds any magical power in and of itself but because, well, I love fresh starts. Including new years.

 

Let it Go! Let it Go!

Last year “on this day” (such a fun feature!) I posted on Facebook: NineTEEN days from now I’ll be on a plane to the Philippines! We’re in the teens people!

After that last trip, I finally admitted that my heart and passion is really with the people and ministries in Navotas. I still LOVE my sisters in the Wipe Every Tear safe houses and the ones that haven’t made that choice. My thoughts, feelings and opinion of the Wipe Every Tear organization has not changed. But I’ve always been drawn to hungry/homeless ministries. Drop that in the middle of Manila (figuratively speaking) and I’m smitten.

Tomorrow, at 5:00am, a team from World Family Missions start their first flight to Manila. The leader, a wonderful woman by the name of Sarah, mentioned the possibility of this trip to me back in March. And I was certain – CERTAIN – I would be on that plane. No doubt in my mind. I was SO sure of this that I basically informed my husband instead of asking his input and I didn’t even really pray about it…unless you count telling God all about my plans.

Obviously there was a different future in store for me and I will NOT be on that plane tomorrow. I’ve cried…buckets. I’ve been mad. But in the end, God always puts together the perfect team. As much as the “Mama Rhoni” side on me wanted to be on the plane to help a pregnant leader with her toddler, God had other people – the perfect people – in mind for support. As much as I wanted to snuggle a particular little girl and her sisters in Navotas, there are other people that God wants there. I will be praying for this group, but they are not “my” team. (But I’ll probably still cry when I see updates and pictures or even when I just think about them. So apologies to everyone who crosses my soggy path over the next week or so.)

I am reading a book by Shauna Niequist titled “Present over Perfect”. Early in the book it asked the question I’ve often seen in various forms- if you had a bottomless bank account and empty calendar, what would you do. The answer is supposed to highlight your passion. My answer rang through my mind almost before I finished reading the line. Travel. Duh. But a few pages later, she asks “What are you unwilling to let go of?” That answer rang clearly and just as immediately…Nothing! But as I tried to read on, my eyes kept drifting back to that question. It continued to nag at me until I stopped to mull over it for awhile. Quietly the real answer rose to the surface….travel. And my health.

I’m not sure if I can fully explain this recognition but I’ll try. I still cling with an iron grip to the idea of being my version of healthy. In the depths of my being, I have this notion that if I just check all the boxes and follow all the rules, I can control how my body will respond. That theory has been debunked more than once and yet, still I clutch that belief. Letting go does not equal a disregard for all healthy practices. It simply means doing what I’m supposed to do, what I can do without an expectation of results.

The travel piece is easier. As soon as I realized I really was NOT going to be able to go on this trip, I immediately started thinking about and saving for the NEXT possibility. I never asked God if that is an option. I just assumed I would return. I’ve always had the intense desire to travel. That’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. But once upon a time, I was in a place where I balanced that desire with the desire to be obedient to where God called me. And as I told Sarah the other day “I think that the desire to go back <to the Philippines> is starting to supplant the desire to be obedient.” My first step was donating money I planned to save for my own trip. That’s not a humble brag on generosity. My heart was not fully happy with the decision and I most certainly did not feel generous. I needed a physical action to go along with the emotional response. I could not mentally “let go” without mirroring that physically.

This whole “letting go” thing is not a one and done act. I don’t know exactly what that process will look like but I have a sneaking suspicion it involves re-learning how to truly “be still”. That, however, is another post in itself. Because “still” is not the most accurate descriptor for me. And neither is laconic.

Ground Zero

I’ve debated writing about this. On one hand, it’s not a big deal. On the other hand, it kinda is.

Earlier this year I felt fantastic. I was playing softball and training for a triathlon. Weight was finally dropping, I was getting faster, my energy levels were great.

Then I had blood work done to check my chronically low Vitamin D levels and was diagnosed as severely diabetic.

This year. It’s been a journey of meds and lifestyle changes. Of feeling terrible to feeling normal to feeling terrible again. Of finding out I could “do everything right” and my body still would not respond.

For the record – it is really difficult to stick with the whole strict lifestyle when you feel worse AND your body doesn’t respond.

My mental/emotional journey has not been linear. I have been mad. I checked all the right boxes and my body betrayed me anyway. I have been ashamed. Obviously I *DIDN’T* take care of myself and made myself sick. I have been discouraged and sad. What I do doesn’t matter; all my goals are out of reach and my life is now defined by this. I have been hyper focused and determined. I can eat perfect and work out harder than before; I can reverse this. It changes from week to week – sometimes from day to day. And I’ve found that how I feel physically greatly impacts my mental state. Since I have spent the past couple of months dealing with fatigue and nausea (yay supplemental meds), the mental battle has been the main one I’ve fought. Discouragement stalks me on a regular basis. I’m not ready to succumb completely.

I spend a lot of time on the couch right now (see above: fatigue). I have been forced to slow down (stop) and re-evaluate. I’m finally accepting that the goals, plans and priorities I had for this year, and the foreseeable future, are irrelevant. That leaves a void. I don’t know that I’ve ever stared in the future with absolutely NO idea of how I was going to proceed, with a complete absence of an objective.

Right now the only thing I am ready to commit to is getting my brain back in this whole fighting for my health thing. I haven’t given up. Not completely. But I haven’t been as focused and strict as I could be. Maybe I’ll up my reading and writing game again too. We’ll see.

Y Not Tri – Bike and Run Report

T1 –  3:39

What is there to say about transition? If you’re a triathlete, you just gasped at that transition time. No one else cares. I OBVIOUSLY wasn’t rushing. I was bent over at one point drying my feet and mentioned I was dizzy. Someone said “Um. Stand up.” Huh. Good advise. There are things I could do differently here but blah blah. Ultimately I put on shoes and a bike helmet and headed out.

Bike – 6 miles – 34:23

I expected my bike time to be slow. I expected this leg to be the most painful, both mentally and physically. And it was slow but it wasn’t painful either mentally OR physically. I was passed here. A LOT. But while that would normally bug me, it just…was. It was what was happening at that time and it did not phase me a bit. The course was flat. The day was gorgeous. There were fun, friendly people out there. I really just enjoyed pedaling along (Which could account partially for the time.) Somewhere in my last lap a woman passed me and I had the thought “I bet I can catch her.” I couldn’t. But I kept her in sight pretty much the rest of the lap. One thing to note on this part – I can NOT drink while on the bike. I can’t reach down, get my water bottle and put it back without falling over. So twice I stopped to get a drink. That probably only added a couple of minutes but it’s a skill I would like to learn. As far as my overall speed goes – that is just going to take time in the saddle.

T2- 2:12

How does it take 2 minutes to transition from bike to run when you don’t have to change shoes. Um. Hello. I had to get my earbuds in and music turned on! And say hi to my husband and son. And tell them I was NOT loading Pokemon Go while running…what? I’m not THAT casual of an athlete.

Run – 2 miles – 25:28

Ohhhh the run. The painful painful run. It was everything I expected from the bike and then some. I couldn’t catch my breath and slowed to a walk. I started a slow run and my right thigh cramped up. I slowed to a walk until it subsided then tried to run again and my side cramped. Walk…repeat…I started berating myself. My run was supposed to be strong! After what seemed like HOURS, I got to the half mile mark. Half mile. I glanced up and saw the woman who had passed me on the bike. I briefly considered trying to keep her in sight then dismissed the idea. I had decided I didn’t want to hurt. I consciously decided to “take it easy”.  But by the time I turned around and headed back, I could tell I was starting to oh so slowly gain ground on her. With a little less than a half mile to go I came along side her. She had slowed significantly and I could tell SHE had decided to embrace the hurt. I told her I had been chasing her most of the race. She said she was a slow runner and could walk faster but she had made a bet with herself. I praised her decision. I told her I didn’t care if she could walk faster, she was running and I was impressed. She didn’t seem like she wanted company. She was in a zone. So I went ahead and ran the rest of the way in. But I made sure I cheered super loud when I saw her cross the line.

Conclusion

I felt really good when I crossed the line although not so much when I got up from a brief nap later. And my left calf is still slightly sore. It was one of the worst cramps on the run and apparently it really was a doozy.  I briefly lamented my decision to walk so much during the last leg though. I had more to give. I was uncomfortable but not injured. But I didn’t. My final time was just over 1:18 and my first thought on seeing that was “I bet I can do it in under an hour next year.” Assuming of course that Jon is on board with the idea again. I don’t think anyone could do any distance of any race without support. And I couldn’t do it if he wasn’t okay with it.