Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Thursday Thoughts

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.

John Barrymore

This is what writing is to me. It’s happiness. I love to write with paper and pencil. The feel of the pencil gliding over the paper soothes my busy mind. Every two weeks, I try to utilize 30 minutes of early morning devotional time to write. Words flow freely from my mind through my hand. Pieces of my soul marked in my handwriting. My middle of the night insomnia sessions are where my best thoughts flow. Will I ever write that book I’ve been dreaming of authoring since elementary school?

The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.

Antonio Brown

Marriage – When I took my wedding vows, full of excitement and passion, I vowed to love him until death do us part in good and bad. I still do. I’m still promising that. It’s deeper and stronger than I could have ever imagined. What I don’t think either of us realized at that point is that we vowed to love – deeply, strongly, confidently, and with covenant – is that we might not always like each other. It is completely unreasonable to vow to like someone all the time. Sometimes, we don’t even like ourselves. The majority of the time, the real issue is with yourself. Your partner’s job, promise, and covenant is to love you thru that. Those valleys are where you grow. Look up. Valleys only happen between mountains. Start climbing.

Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. 

Nadia Boulanger

Parenting – “My child is having a hard time. She is not giving me a hard time.” These words were on repeat this morning in my head starting at 4:32am. Our 6yr old woke up and needed to use the bathroom. Sleep did not find her again… and after two hours of cuddling, it was time to get dressed for school. Cue the sobs. Cue the stomps, whines, pointing, and tantrum. Deep breaths. She is not non-verbal. Her biggest character downfall is her inability to use her words to ask for help or admit when she is incorrect. It’s easier to stomp and sob. Going the tough route with her doesn’t help. She is stubborn and has to make the decision herself. When she threw her twisted sweatshirt at my feet, I refused to help her pull the sleeves out until she verbally asked for help. Her father did the same thing when she furiously swung her brush at him instead of just asking him to help her brush her hair. It was a doozy of a morning. 90% of them are nothing like this. I set a timer and told her she needed to have her fit turned off by the time it went off or she was destined for bed immediately when she arrived home with me this evening. Miraculously (tongue-in-cheek) her tantrum was over about 10 seconds before the timer dinged. Hugs all around before she ran out the door to the bus. Then her father and I considered Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s for breakfast… not really, but we both had to take our own frazzled nerves and anxiety down a couple notches before we came to work. Parenting is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart.

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” 

Jesse Owens

I’m signed up for a spring 2019 half marathon. I didn’t run one in 2018, although I did take on a hill-filled 10K (actually 6.7miles). Half Marathon Number Five. I ran my first 13.1mi organized race a couple of months before my MS diagnosis. Now I need a goal to get my consistency back. After swearing I wouldn’t run another unless I was trained well enough to knock 10 minutes off my previous finish time, my focus has shifted. Many months of just drifting along… I’m ready to get back in the current and head for something. What it is, I’m not sure. The steady beat of my feet and breathing in and out assist my brain in sorting thoughts. We shall see… we shall see.

As you attempt to make big differences, remember to appreciate the small differences.  And remember that you don’t always have to reach the goal you set in order to make a difference.

Win Borden

Be kind today friends. Find a way to lift someone else up. Even if you are dwelling in the valley right now, reach up and out. Be gracious.

Wear the fancy dress. Tell the joke and laugh at it. Do that cannon ball into the pool. Dance in your kitchen. 


Much love — Jen

Fitness · Health

Socks for Christmas

What is the big deal about asking for practical things for Christmas? My list this year included foaming hand soap for the kitchen, a new knife set to replace our 11yr old dull, well used wedding gift set, and socks. I get poopoo’d for asking for simple things like this, but usually end up with what I ask for. Apparently, it isn’t ‘fun’ to buy practical items?!

I’ve asked for socks for Christmas for the last 3 years. Not just any socks though, running socks. If you run distance and haven’t tried a specialized running sock, I highly recommend you invest in a pair or ask for a pair for Christmas or your birthday!

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Crazy Compression Socks that I purchased.

Brands: I like Balega (made in South Africa) and Crazy Compression (pictured here -made in NC, USA). I’ve also heard positive reviews of Feetures and Bombas, but I’ve never tried them. Upon researching the companies (because that is something that I do), I found that Feetures is a family owned company in North Carolina. Owning a small business with my husband, I try to support businesses like this. Bombas are made in China, but do a 1 to 1 donation in the USA with homeless shelters. For each pair of socks sold, they donate a pair to a homeless shelter. This gets snaps in my book.

Cost: They run $10-30 a pair depending on the brand and what sale codes you can find. Thus, they usually go in my “gift” category instead of in the “necessity” category. I did splurge on two pairs of compression socks this year. I didn’t own any, but thought it would help with muscle recovery after long runs. Good news! Crazy Compression has a 30% off sale right now with code: “fun30”

Why Invest in Running Socks?  My philosophy on investing in good running socks lies in keeping the condition of my feet at a tip-top level for running. I’ll never be a foot model. My husband swears I have “hippie feet” from spending my summers barefoot. My feet aren’t pretty, but are completely functional for distance running. Dedicated runners get blisters, lose toenails, and can sometimes have gnarly looking feet. Running socks help with the hot spots and blisters. Getting fitted for the right running shoe for your feet plays a large part with the black and missing toenails.

My Next Run:  I tend to call the 5K, 10K, and half marathons “runs” instead of races. The word race implies that I’m trying to medal. Most half marathons do present you with a medal at the end for completion, but I’m talking about placing in the top 1-2-3. I’ll likely not be able to do that and honestly, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t run for accolades or public praise.

wickedhalfmarathon2017medal

I’m toying with the idea of signing up for 1 of 3 local half marathons. I haven’t chosen one yet. One is in March – Rural Route 13.1, the next in April- Wicked Half, and the final option is in May- Bill Snyder Half. Every year, I think I’ll sign up for the run in March, but then I don’t. Last year it rained for that whole event. The run in April is a good option, but I’ve heard it is a fast course. I’m not sure that even with the addition of interval training for speed that I would be happy doing a “fast course.” The final run is in May. That is as late in the spring/ early summer as I will run due to the heat in the Midwest and my body. Heat and MS do not mix. Depending on which I choose, I’ll have to start a training plan. Hmmm….

Any way around it, I’ll be needing some Christmas socks!

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Faith · Family · Fitness · Health

13.1 miles. Ran it.

We did it!!!! 13.1 miles!!!

2014 Go Girl Run Half Marathon - Overland Park, KS
2014 Go Girl Run Half Marathon – Overland Park, KS

The run was awesome. We ran the first 8 at a 12:40 average pace. It was so easy that we literally held a conversation 95% of the time. There were people cheering for us frequently along the route with encouraging signs and smiling faces from the start line all the way to the finish. By mile 8, I could feel it in my legs that I really needed to run my own pace. My friend told me to go on ahead, she would finish in her time.
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It was so freeing and really enjoyable to just stretch out my legs and go. I cheered loudly for myself at each mile marker and no one thought I was being silly. I honestly wouldn’t have cared if they did.
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My husband saw me off, caught me again around 9 miles, and then was waiting at the finish line for me. He was SO supportive and has been this whole time. He really trusts me that I will slow down and read my body accordingly just as the doctor told me to do. I averaged 10:40 min/mile for the last 5 miles.
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I’m not fatigued from this event at all. Took a bit for my tummy to handle food, but a few smoothies after the race helped that. I woke up feeling great today, minus a few sore toes. That is all because of the 3.5 months of training I did for it. I built up slowly. I would never recommend waking up and trying to run 13 miles. I started with a goal of running 2 miles without stopping.
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My dad asked me WHY I wanted to do this run. I knew my body was capable of this with the proper gradual training and overall, my physical and mental health benefited from the training and goal. I did this for me. I am being faced with a disease that is new to me and new to them. I am not sure what the path will be. It could be negligible. I will do everything in my power to make any “hiccups” as smooth as possible. The best way to keep this machine moving is to make sure I’m keeping all the parts moving and greased. 🙂 You will all have to learn to trust me on this.
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My motto from day 1 of this has been: “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:13
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Love to you — J
Fitness · Health

Thoughts from a Rural Runner

I ran my last long run before doing a half marathon (13.1 miles). I made it 10.5miles this morning. It took me 2:00.27 and that included having to walk for a quarter of a mile or so because my insurance/specialty pharmacy called. After being on hold with them and the drug company’s support team for a total of at least 4 hours of my life the past 2 days, I felt that I had to take the call.

Please keep in mind that I live in VERY rural America. I run dirt roads, gravel roads, and some county highways. For 90% of my run, it is just me and the grasshoppers. Deer, raccoon, skunk, and cattle are occasionally on the side of the road. Most of my paths are traveled more frequently by tractors pulling implements than a car or truck.

Here are my observations after my first 10+ mile run. And they are brutally honest…

1) Bad underwear aren’t just bad the first mile…

2) Shorts are a poor choice if your thighs touch, even just a little bit…

3) Eat like it’s Thanksgiving the day before the race or a long run. Glad I shoved a few Gu gels in my armband…

4) I need a water source every mile, or at least every other mile. A drink a mile 2 and mile 8 is not enough…

and last but not least:

5) You can count on someone else being smack dab in the middle of nowhere with you, pulling over the hill, EXACTLY when you have to stop and rearrange previously mentioned terrible choice of underwear with your hand down the back of your shorts. And thus ends my embarrassment for the day.

All things considered, I’m going to rock this half marathon – in running tights, with water, and more food the night before. 🙂

Happy Friday! Blessings to you on your daily journey.

My route this morning.
Rural Running

Family · Fitness · Health

The Good, the Diagnosis, The Blessing

Four miles. 36 minutes. Energy to spare. Monday morning. I could have pushed for at least one or two more miles but time constraints stopped me.

Could my diagnosis be accurate? I guess that question is answered by the second opinion we sought and received last week. Two neurologists, one being more specialized, looked at my MRI’s, listened to my symptoms, tested reflexes, reviewed my lab work, and independently agreed. I have multiple sclerosis. Talk about a gut punch!

Symptoms? Not many and the ones I do have are easily brushed off as trivial. We discovered something was not quite right after I injured my shoulder doing kettle bell swings. My hand tingled and went numb. I could barely hold a pen or pencil three weeks after the workout.

To see what we were dealing with, my family practitioner ordered a MRI of my spine and then a second MRI that included my brain. I successfully did physical therapy, which greatly helped the thoracic outlet syndrome that the workout caused. I visited a neurosurgeon (for a disc situation), who saw the abnormal MRI but believed I should have major symptoms if the two lesions were active. The neurologist ran me through the whole ‘look here, tiptoes, feel this poke?, etc’ and noted a few things, but none were anything that seemed abnormal to me. He explained that I needed a lumbar puncture and blood work.

Still no major symptoms. I started running a few miles five days a week. Cue the waiting for test results. We went on vacation for a week to South Carolina to see family.

And then… BAM! It looks like MS. No family history of it and no symptoms although my hand is still occasionally a bit slower and doughy feeling. Second opinion with a MS specialist confirmed it. I’m awaiting more blood results to start medication in about 10 days. So, now it is out there.

I am blessed. My MS is in the very very early stages – only one active lesion and one inactive lesion. I am incredibly healthy and virtually without major symptoms. The medication options now available are amazing for slowing the progression to the point that I may never have any disability. This will not hold me down. I will still do my half marathon. I will continue to be an active mother to my two beautiful young children. I am still a loving wife with much to contribute to our relationship and our business.

If you’ve never read ‘Footprints in the Sand’, look it up. It sums up the past week’s emotions.

I am blessed.

Goal for tomorrow is 3 miles.

Coming Soon: A Humorous Look at the Worst Things Said to Someone Who Has Just Received A Crappy Diagnosis. No really, someone did say that…