Year of No Nonsense

It’s been a  hot minute since I’ve splashed words about this space. I had 2018 all planned, scheduled and tied neatly with a bow until life casually spewed gasoline about and flicked a lit match into the middle of it all.

  • I cancelled an early season race in anticipation of returning to the Philippines. And that trip never came together.
  • I volunteered to co-lead the 6th grade girls group in our church’s youth group – something that is so far outside my comfort zone that it’s not even in the same time zone. Not to mention it completely torpedoed my anticipated schedule.
  • I planned on racing in July, August and September. And July 1st I tore a muscle in my hip resulting in crutches for three weeks and physical therapy. Three and a half months later I still feel regular pain/discomfort and cannot run.

Those are the big ones. And yet, it hasn’t been a bad year. It wasn’t what I expected but it has been full of fun, meaningful, happy moments and events.

That being said, as the tail end of 2018 barrels towards us at an unnerving rate, I am also drawn to the idea of a “Year of No Nonsense”. What is that you ask? For me it means a life focused on a few things: being present in the moment, being kind to myself as well as others, being intentional with important relationships, banishing laziness but embracing rest without guilt…and learning the difference.

I’m a planner by nature. Some of my triathlon friends met to discuss our race plans for next year and I showed up with a spreadsheet. But there’s a necessary balance. I’m attempting to enjoy the process and/or journey instead of focusing on what comes next whether that’s one set at at time in the pool or one conversation at a time.

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Privilege

“I want to practice being comfortable with discomfort”.

Do you ever have a clarifying moment? One of those instances when a thought runs through your head and you suddenly realize just how privileged it is.

“I want to practice being comfortable with discomfort.”

I practice that often. I think it drives my husband a bit nutty when he says “You don’t HAVE to put up with/do <fill in the blank>” (or “You know you can just….”) in an attempt to make my life easier or more comfortable and I refuse. I don’t always consciously choose to be uncomfortable or make something more difficult than necessary but sometimes I do and it’s very much in an attempt to build a tolerance to that sensation. I don’t necessarily WANT to be comfortable. Definitely not all the time.

Let’s sit in that for moment though. Do you see the privilege that saturates the above statements? The fact that I get to CHOOSE whether I want to be uncomfortable or not. The fact that 99% of the time, I get to CHOOSE when to step out of the hardship, difficulty, or discomfort. The fact that I may not want to be comfortable in my (comfortable) American life style but I CAN be. The fact that the mere statement is tinged with arrogance and steeped with first world advantage.

All that doesn’t make it any less true. I still don’t want to be entirely comfortable. If God places me in an incredibly uncomfortable, even painful, inescapable season of life, I don’t want to be blindsided. I don’t believe that I’m only called to a life of comfort and luxury (although I am WELL aware that I have the opportunity to live that right now). (Also – I know there’s a whole spiritual side of that where we could discuss reliance on God etc but I’m currently speaking physically and mentally.)

(And if we’re being really honest, the  most privileged, selfish reason for this is because practicing discomfort helps with triathlon/racing).

How many people do I know, either personally or peripherally, that don’t have the choice of comfort. How many living in third world countries? How many living in deplorable conditions here in the U.S?

I don’t have a nice tidy ending here. No plan of or call to action. Nothing. Just one of those moments of recognition.

Don’t Wanna Not Gonna

A teacher recently described our youngest as “politely defiant”.  I laughed because while he and I have had some pretty epic fights, they only happen when I force him to do an assignment he *really* doesn’t want to do. If someone simply asks him or gently suggests/encourages, he just….won’t. Very quietly. And yes, even politely. If he don’t wanna, he’s not gonna.

But lately, he’s been doing assignments, whether he wants to or not. Hubby explained to him that if he wants to attend the charter high school that he likes, he has to prove NOW that he can work hard. (Assuming, of course, that he even gets drawn in the lottery. But that’s irrelevant to the lesson here.) We’ve had the discussion that even with activities/jobs/projects/classes he LOVES, there will be some element that he doesn’t like. But ultimately, to do what you like, you also have to do those things you don’t. And although it’s only been a couple of weeks, he’s proving he can spur HIMSELF to do the less than fun tasks.

I’ve written two whole paragraphs about lessons we’re trying to teach our youngest. And this post is not ACTUALLY about him.

I’ve been to the gym like…once…in the past two weeks. The temperatures are dropping. It’s dark when we leave home for work. It’s dark when we leave work for home. It’s been rainy. I don’t want to get up early. I don’t want to get in a pool when it’s dark and 30 degrees outside. I don’t want to move after work. I want to lay on the couch, sleep and eat bread & cheese and drink hot chocolate when I do wake up. I am a summer girl through and through. Every year I try not to complain about winter. But I hate it. I am incredibly envious of animals that hibernate through these dark bitter months. Seriously.

Earlier this week I turned off my alarm and slept WAY late. I made it to work on time but it was a rushed morning. I was lamenting that I “just need to find my motivation again.” And yes, that would be nice. But if I rely on finicky motivation, then when I don’t wanna, I’m not gonna. And I’m *really* good about rationalizing why that’s okay.

Turns out that training through the winter is the element of triathlon that I don’t like but I just need to do anyway. If I really want to do well next spring/summer, I have to emerge from my carb filled blanket cocoon even if I don’t have a friend waiting (That turns the training session into a non-negotiable event & I’ll go no matter how little motivation I feel). I think they call it drive. Or grit. Thankfully it’s something that can be developed.

Some lessons are easier to preach than practice.

The moment I realized I’m really an athlete…and my first 10k

I completed my first 10k last weekend (Sept 23, 2017). It was an amazing experience and much easier than I expected. But oddly, that wasn’t the moment I realized I was an athlete. Nope.

Wednesday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon and I were driving home from work and passed a guy out for a run. I found that I was ENVIOUS. But I had women coming over for a book study that evening and did not have time to squeeze in a run AND prepare for them. Or at least not enough time to do both and shower. My goal was to be welcoming and that would have been the opposite. But anyway. Still not the moment.

Yesterday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon was heading to a concert with friends and I had promised the youngest we would go out for dinner before tackling school work. At dinner I checked the time for sunset and found that it was still an hour and half away. Back home, I got Lilbit started on his paper, changed and finally got outside for a run. My activity tracker was running but there was no Garmin on my wrist, largely displaying my pace. There were no split times coming through my headphones. There was no timer telling me when to run and when to walk. I did not have a time or a distance goal. It was just the road, how I felt, and music. I returned home feeling much lighter. At least emotionally. And that’s when I realized. I don’t have to qualify my label as an athlete with additions like “slow” or “clumsy” or …whatever. I just went for a run. Not because it was on a training schedule or because I have an event. I unplugged and went simply for the joy of it. And that alone makes me a runner. I already do that with swimming but for some reason that did not impact me like that run did.

The 10k. Ah. I was a little tight and sore last night after two miles so maybe I’m not completely recovered. But the race was a wonderful experience. I really had no idea what to expect. My longest training run had been four miles and that was painful. Of course it was also 90 degrees. The temperature at race start time was forecasted to be 38 degrees. And I don’t really do cold. Eventually I decided that if it was raining, I wasn’t going but if not, I would brave the chill knowing I should warm up within a few miles.

Prepping for the race the night before was odd. I’ve only set up for triathlons lately so only having to set out stuff for one sport, and the one that requires the least amount of equipment, was a bit disconcerting. I kept walking back over to my clothes and saying “Clothes, shoes, race number….that’s really it huh?” It was actually even easier than packing to go the gym before work! I went to bed at a decent hour and proceeded to have nightmares all night. I couldn’t tie my shoes. My shoes were too big. I was wearing flip flops or sandals. There were like 20 laces in each shoe….so I couldn’t tie them. Again. I missed the race start. All. Night. Long. My brain can be weird.

Race morning was pretty non-eventful. It was cold but once we were all in start corrals it wasn’t too bad. I sat with a girl on the shuttle to the start and chatted with her. Somehow out of the thousands of people, I ended up standing next to her in the start corral (I ended up in the 15+ min pace corral. That was a <very minor> mistake on my part). She started to take a selfie and I leaned in over her shoulder and smiled. She turned so I wouldn’t be in the shot. Guess we didn’t bond as much as I thought.

The race actually started on time. Everyone I talked to said they were notorious for starting late so I was glad to realize we would get started when expected. It took about a minute and a half to actually cross the start line but then the crowd spread out pretty quickly. I decided not to use my timer app since but since headphones were allowed, I turned on some music, put in one ear bud and decided to run a song/walk a song. That worked out really well. At one point I frantically thought “I am NOT WARMING UP!” then realized only about ten minutes had passed. I spent most of the first mile weaving around and passing people. My first mile pace was 12 mins. And let me tell you, that is fast for me. I’ve seen that pace only a couple of other times, when I was only out for a mile or two and was pushing pretty hard. I knew I needed to pull it back but I didn’t feel like I was putting out that much effort. And I still wasn’t warm.

By mile 2 I had unzipped my jacket about halfway and had settled in with the people I would stay with through most of the race. At the mile 3 aid station I stopped briefly to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. And then realized I felt really good and was excited to keep going. Normally at mile 3 I’m hating life and glad that I only signed up for a 5k. Between mile 4 & 5 (or somewhere in there) starts an uphill climb. I did not do ANY hill training so I had already planned to walk that. I did. And I was perfectly fine with that. Approaching mile 5 I started running again. A woman I had been leap-frogging with the whole time was passing me again and I happened to actually look directly at her at the same time she looked over at me. We recognized each other from triathlon training and she asked how I was feeling. I shrugged and said “I feel good….REALLY good actually!” I was shocked to realize we were approaching the last, literal downhill, stretch. And I felt amazing. About a quarter mile later my hips started to complain a bit but nothing that hindered me. Just a noticeable little complaint. And then suddenly, I was down the hill and entering the finishing chute….and my left calf cramped up. My first thought was “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?” My second was a mental comment directly to my leg. “Well. You are just going to have to work this out on your own because I am NOT stopping for you. We are almost done and we are running this in so deal with it.”

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And….obviously my leg and I were still having that battle to the bitter end. But when I crossed the line I still thought “That was easy!” immediately followed by “Whose thought was that? Why would I think something so disgusting?!!? But maybe I could do a half in the spring….”

I have since ordered a race fuel belt that will hold my race numbers (great for tri) but I don’t have to carry a water bottle in my hand (awkward). So I guess I’m serious about doing more of these crazy things.

Total time 1:20:44, average pace was approximately 13 mins/mile. What?!!? I have no idea how I maintained that pace over 6.2 miles. And still felt GOOD.

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.

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.