Mental Toughness Breakdown

Ugh…I don’t play unknowns well, and I fully own the fact that I just need to get past my head, but while I can read books and articles until my eyes bleed and argue with my coach until he wants to bang his head against the wall, I think I’m just grasping at anything to crack this confidence barrier I seem to have hit. (how’s that for a run-on sentence?)

I guess I should back up a bit and explain what I’m even talking about.  Several big things coming up.  Chicago Marathon–I’m surprising okay with this prospect now that the actual details of the trip are in place.  I understand the training methodology my coach uses for marathon and longer distance running because I’ve been through this cycle once–and while it’s very different than say, prepping for a half marathon, and it looks and feels so bizarre to me to not climb in distance as high pre-race and long runs are at lower RPE, but strength, flexibility, and speed training feed into the endurance.  The only variable that I don’t necessarily like playing with is that my coach factors in my adrenaline level when racing–which in my mind is never a guarantee, but I just keep telling myself he’s the pro, just go with it (we all know my trust issues! LOL).  The one that’s been stressing me is the century ride, and this is where I start sounding completely insane.  I know I CAN do it and I WANT to do it (probably a little too much), but I’ve had so much that has shaken my confidence on the long rides recently that are all overcomeable (I know, not a word), but the frustration compounds every time I hit the proverbial wall.  I just want one good long ride that “feels” good (but not necessarily feels good, if that makes sense, it is work after all)…and time is ticking, as pretty much this Saturday and one in October will be my only opportunities (when I’ll be riding completely foreign territory) to lay down that kind of time because of racing next weekend (an oly is totally appropriate marathon prep, yes?) and the next is Chicago…then the one week in between it looks as if I’ll be riding a portion of the IMAZ course because of some travel…and then comes century day…staring down 100 miles.  On a bike. (Still baffles me too…)  I’m also curious to see the modified cycling training calendar post-marathon, so far it’s only been alluded to and likely cementing my nickname for my coach.

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I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday (well, I’ve had a few over the last couple weeks with my coach) and really pinpointed my number one fear dead on…I’ve danced with this fear a little bit recently, but I think I came into a full understanding of it, and it doesn’t make me super happy.  Being alone.  And it sounds completely ridiculous admitting this to myself, because when you look at the idea, it doesn’t seem like a big deal.  In running, it’s not a fear…it’s different.  Running does things in my head that are indescribable in terms of passing time, pushing further, gaining clarity.  I savor that time alone.  Cycling…for 100 miles…alone…that messes with my head.  Sure, there’s aid stations and all, and let’s face it, people passing me.  On the bike there’s so many more things to be conscious of, many of which aren’t just automatic or second nature to me (yet? ever?) so I don’t really reach that “zone out” point like I do in running.  I’m very present, which leaves that laser focus on how I feel and giving myself way too much time to concentrate on the little things that add up to putting me in a negative headspace.  There’s no distraction like if you’re having a conversation with someone or having your mind taken off how much your legs are burning or how much further it is to a particular point in some manner.  I voiced this to a group of cyclists/triathletes yesterday where the point of our discussions are about just this–mental toughness–there were some interesting recommendations on how to pass the time it takes for this ride, but nothing really to alleviate that underlying fear.  I’m still at a loss, and it’s really bugging me.

So, after my almost four hours of sleep I hauled my rear to today’s workout and put in a decent (but undernourished) ride on the trainer (pro tip: don’t eat almonds for dinner at 9:30pm, it doesn’t make for breakfast being palatable).  Also spent some extra time just stretching and moving my body around, and did some yoga that also satisfied a challenge I’m participating in (because, Suf badges…).  I feel good with the exception of that nagging idea at the back of my mind. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I pray (hard!) it comes quickly.  Just one good ride, that’s all I want to crack this before event day.  Just needed to whine and rant a bit today…

In other news, my pigeon pose (my fave) is getting even better–on the other side my head lies on the floor now! (pardon the disgusting arms, can’t change that part)

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It’s Been Awhile…

…and yes, I’ll report on Rev3 Williamsburg one of these days, like before my next race comes round, LOL.

Still plugging along, just easier to go on radio silence when life gets a bit tossed about than try to hash it out sometimes, we all know my head isn’t the most sane place to be.  There’s been a few ideas that have been rolling around in the noggin that I’ve been wrestling with that I think easily get summed up in perception, peace, and perseverance. (Ohh…alliteration!)

Perception. This has been an interesting one for me over the last couple months.  Myself included, it’s fascinating to me how people just see what they want to see and close their mind to possibilities.  I get knocked from time to time that all people see is one version of me based on what I outwardly share on social media or in other arenas.  I get it, it’s easy to draw a conclusion if you don’t take the time to engage with me personally.  I also value the precious and personal nature of our ministry, the more we engage with people on a deeper level over the years, the more I shy away from plastering those things on my sleeve or in a public post.  Therefore, what’s not seen can be considered something ‘less than’ in my life.  It’s a decision I make based on real people served and the connections made with them, it’s not a news story or something you can really put in a box.  I understand where those judgments come from, but at the end of the day, I serve a real and living God that has called me to the work that I do, there is a mission under the banner of the ministry that I serve, and I have been equipped to carry out my responsibilities to fulfill that mission.  I wake up each morning and turn the day over to the Lord and what He would have for it–and each day looks is completely different, full of different activities, community engagement, responsibilities, activities, programs, etc.  You wanna know where the bulk of my time is spent? Right there. It’s sleepless nights, tears shed, frustrations vented when in the times we are unable to meet the needs of every single soul that steps over out threshold for one reason or another.  It’s visioning, thinking out of the box, being creative, and seeking every opportunity to serve people in Christ’s name and lead them to a relationship with Him.  It’s mission that will never end until the day Jesus comes again, and I wouldn’t do anything else in this world. But I am also a whole and unique person too, created by God, and in order for me to fulfill His will, I need to remain whole too, and that’s carrying out some of the things that He wills in my life too.  Balance.  Holistic goals–it’s not solely physical change, it’s emotional and spiritual growth too.  And I can say this until I’m blue in the face and I think there’s only a small handful of people that know me really well that “get” this: the work that I put in on those emotional and spiritual goals outweigh anything that I’ve possibly done in the area of physical achievement, and the physical change I’ve experienced is simply a by-product of the holistic journey, not a singular focus.

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But, again, you’ll never convince people of things they aren’t willing to see or hear…so, peace.

Peace.  Let go and let God.  I’ll be the first to admit this is a huge struggle for an eternal people-pleaser.  There are people in life that I’m simply never going to make happy.  I’ve come to a place where I’m exhausted trying to meet such an impossible concept.  Over the last few months, I’ve been in several situations in different areas of my life where I’ve been beating my head against the wall because I’ve met my human limits in trying to accommodate some (real or perceived…?) unrealistic expectations and I’ll never gain that understanding that I mentioned above.  In the end, the only person it’s hurting is me.  It’s stacking needless pressure, extra work, and halfhearted efforts on my plate with no return.  Boundaries are hard sometimes, especially in my professional life, and in the realization that I won’t make everyone happy, I’ve had to figure out what those boundaries are and when to say no for the greater good and my sake. One of the hardest things ever.  I’m so grateful that I have people in my life that serve in so many different ways (and I pray I do them as well)–from those that are there to listen to me vent or bounce ideas off of, that I can call into action in prayer for different situations, and even those that hold me accountable in so many different ways.  I’ve talked about this before, but accountability is huge for me–it’s also very intentional.  I have people and groups in my life that are there to hold me accountable in many different facets of personal and professional life.  Some are friends, some are colleagues, some even are our leaders when we have to reach out for guidance, and some are even people I’ve met along the way that aren’t just friends–but good, honest, and trustworthy friends.  I’m not sure what I would do without any of them–they’re all necessary.  I am of course accountable to God, but by having these deliberate relationships in my life, I have the appropriate people to remind me of the “noise” in life is just noise, what’s really important, when to simmer down, when to charge like a bull, and when to just sit back and let the games play around me, because it’s not about me or anything I have done.  Grateful probably isn’t strong enough of a word for many of these people, I love them, the peace and counsel they provide, and aim to be the reciprocal for them when necessary.

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Perseverance. Boy, this one shows me just how hard-headed I am.  There was a time in life when things get hard that I’d just quit, it wasn’t worth the effort. This is probably my biggest area of growth.  How do I know? Accountability.  Those that have my trust that can call me out.  I don’t like admitting some things, but for the sake of discussion, in trying to control some of the things that I can’t control, it’s flared up a good cycle of depression and insomnia over the last six or seven months (this too shall pass…per usual, no frets).  Part of it is a biochemical process from a larger issue I deal with that I absolutely have no control over, but part of it too is letting all those little things get to me.  As the joke goes, “you can’t please everyone, you’re not bacon.” (or chocolate…man, I just need to go buy a stupid chocolate bar already, this is like a week of craving it already, LOL)  Takes me a little longer to realize that…or at least let it sink in.  There was a point recently where I just imploded, there was a wall of stressors that wasn’t going to budge and reached out for help.  I’m grateful for the help that was received because it brought me back to a place that we are all human, I’m really doing okay even though I beat myself up over the things that aren’t worth getting upset over, and some practical advice in moving forward and the work to be done to get there.  At the same time, when I confided in another one of those trustworthy people I mentioned, I was told to look back.  How would I have handled the scope of things even just a few years ago?  The answer is humbling, and a true testament to God’s work in me.  It would look very different.  And it wouldn’t look as good.  The goals, the growth, the changes, in all areas of my life have equipped me for just this.  I still have to walk through the tough stuff of life, we all do, but I have a much better grasp on the care it takes to do so–because honestly, without the changes I’ve made, life simply wouldn’t be manageable.  As the quote goes, “with great power (knowledge) comes great responsibility.”  I absolutely have to rise every single morning and before my feet even hit the floor praise God for the lessons I’ve learned along the way…and rest that He’ll see me through it, and in the end–good, bad, indifferent, it WILL be worked for HIS glory, and rest in the peace of turning it to Him.

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So, in that, I move forward.  One day at a time, one hour at a time, and depending on what’s up, it might just be a minute at a time.  There’s goals to be conquered for good, and a few fun things too.  On the fun side of things, I’ve got an interesting trifecta to close out the race season…an olympic distance tri to taper into the Chicago marathon followed a couple weeks later by my first century ride.  Go big or go home, right?  Thank God for smart people and those that kick me in the rear that believe I can do it–sometimes I have to ride on their confidence until I see it for myself.  It’s even in the fun times that I learn so many lessons too (and vent, and laugh, take instruction, and ponder the crazy things that go on in this big world).  How to go the distance, how to overcome, how to sustain myself for the journey.  I make a lot of mistakes in these things, and in life, but I do know one thing undoubtedly–it’s all for the glory of God.  He makes the way in all things.  Just maybe I’m not as bad off as I call it in my head…

 


Knowledge Isn’t Necessarily Fun, But It Is Power

So, in my avoidance of focusing on business work on Sunday and procrastination from reviewing my knowledge of intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and understanding the scapular plane and medial epicondylitis among other random parts and conditions to name a few thousand pages…I’m back on a rather random topic that I ranted on about a year ago…

Global Sports Bra Squad Day.

Yep. That crazy movement #sportsbrasquad got back in my head.

So if you have no idea who Kelly Roberts is or what the whole deal is, check it out here–she wrote a blog a few weeks ago summing the movement and its history up pretty well: http://shecanandshedid.com/blog/june-24th-global-sports-bra-squad-day

Now, I still hold firm to my original position that I’m not likely to be chucking my shirt and running in said sports bra…but…let’s just say there’s an evolution of thought afoot.

As I get deeper into exploring body positivity and health at every size (HAES), there’s a lot of values within myself that I am faced with and need to explore their basis and truth.  I will be very honest in that my personal exploration and study into this area errs more on the body positivity side of the spectrum, as there’s much with HAES that doesn’t jive with my value system (and that’s okay–I don’t have to agree with everyone to still respect them) and it also marries into some political platforms and stances that I wouldn’t approach no matter how well-armed statistically or mentally strong I become because they absolutely don’t align with my beliefs or values.

But let’s back up and take this on a much lighter note…

I’m not even a fan of the term body positivity, because of a lot of the connotations it holds.  I much prefer body kindness, and author of the book titled Body Kindness, Rebecca Scritchfield, defines the concept as an approach to well-being from a place of love–that we fully commit to ourselves and respond to our needs accordingly.  Sounds easy, right?

Well, sure…if you haven’t spent your entire life on and off diets, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, coping with an eating disorder, hating your own reflection in the mirror no matter what you dressed it in or painted on it to try to make the view more palatable, engaging in particular relationships because they were all you felt you were worthy of, and speaking to yourself in such vicious and vile ways that have destroyed your worth more than anyone else ever could. It’s WORK to just get to a place to take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack once in a while!

Am I there? Heck no.  Not even close.  Have I chipped into the stone…a bit.  It’s always going to be a work in progress.  God has a bigggggg mess to help me clean out because I sure can’t do this one alone, I worked myself into a good one here.  But that’s okay.  I’m not in a hurry.  Took me how long to get to the point to see the issues clearly?  It’s not going to clear up overnight.  It’s like we talk about over, and over, and over again–we confess our sin and are forgiven, but it doesn’t cancel out the consequences that come along sometimes.  This is life.  Yes, we are forgiven and made clean in the eyes of God (cue “Whiter than Snow” lol), but there is earthly restitution sometimes that still has to take place–and we own it, it’s our responsibility.

So, my restitution is my re-learning.  Backing up and learning the truth that overshadowed so much joy, understanding, and acceptance of who I am–not only as a person, a woman, a professional, but as a child of God.  It’s painful some days, it’s awe-filled almost every day, it’s full of hilarity as I learn to laugh at myself, and I wouldn’t trade any of this journey as I come to understand fully this crazy being that God placed on the planet that is me.

As I rolled my eyes at the #sportsbrasquad this morning, I stopped for a second…I had to look a little bit deeper and understand what bugged me about it, what’s changed over time in my assessment of the movement, how do I feel about it now, and is it really a bad thing….and in this whole thought process, I realized that I was wandering through the house–in my sports bra and cycling shorts.  Eye roll at self.  Followed by a laugh and a face palm (no joke).

Hide your children…and I promise, this will NEVER happen again, but for the sake of the Stephanie head game experiment to see if I can make my head explode in anxiety:

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Okay, so you don’t get it in all glory because…well, I have *some* standards and um, I’ll let my husband tell you about the rest (HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Because that’ll happen!!!!).  I look at this in two ways–I see all the things I don’t like, like the weight still to lose or the sagging skin on my lower back from the 200lbs I’ve already lost, my nasty sagging skin arms….I could go on. BUT–I can also see how my eyes don’t look dead anymore, my face has a shape, I actually have collarbones, I have mad-strong shoulders, my body has a shape other than circus-tent round.  I even sport the scars on my chest from surviving melanoma ten years ago and on my back from having a large portion of deep skin cancer removed last year. (dude, sun protection…).  And yes, my rear end says, “No cupcake left behind.” Never joke about a cupcake…there’s an international cartel of triathletes that take our cupcakes very seriously!

So, while I may not be on the same wavelength as Kelly Roberts in embracing the whole #sportbrasquad and focusing on the portrayal of all-sized athletes in media, I think there’s something to taking a good hard look in the mirror sometimes and trying to figure it all out.  And now my brain hurts.  I think I’ll go back to studying about ghrelin now.

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Present and Future…

(This is my response to a forum post…so some references may sound a bit off, but you’ll catch on to theme well enough.)

Big shock, Stephanie’s long-winded, so this is going to be a blog post instead of just a reply for the masses to have to suffer scrolling through (unless there’s a badge for that?).  I’ve been stewing on this topic for several days now since I listened to this module on Monday.  Self-image is one of my biggest bones of contention, even beyond endurance sports.

I have a lot of trouble seeing myself as I am in the present moment.  There’s the exercise of narcissistic encouragement of documenting the journey with a lot of photographs to visually compare the changes in myself.  Sure, I can intellectually see the physical changes–I couldn’t for a very long time, but when you’ve dropped creepily close to almost half your obscene body weight and are still losing, eventually one would hope that you can see the change with your eyes.  Yeah, got that part.  I think sometimes the difficulty lies in that the majority of the journey is so far beyond the physical, rooted so much in the spiritual and emotional change, that trying to process the physical is just stunting to me.  That’s my working theory at least, and I’m running with it.  That whole learning to be comfortable in my own skin thing, it will come, in God’s time.

I think that the endurance community has helped me in a lot of ways move forward in my journey of self acceptance and self image.  Take the MTP group for example–we are people with an incredible wide range of abilities and goals, but I have yet to see one instance of where someone hasn’t been cheered for, encouraged, given advice, or supported for right where they are not regardless of what level they are at in sport.  This is one of the reasons I think I haven’t been a super fan or had the greatest experiences at recreational or short distance races (ie: a community 5k) but have walked away from endurance, multisport, and long distance event (some even DFL) and felt like I was the first across the finish line.

Here’s where I see the difference–at the recreational events, it’s just that, recreation and fun (and there’s totally a place for that, I’m not knocking it), but when the fat girl shows up, it’s not an inclusive place.  It’s a place of judgment, like I woke up that morning and just decided I would take steps in my life for fitness, health, etc.  Not cool.  But…endurance sports, that’s a different ballgame.  (sans the occasional *coughdouchebagcough*) You show up at the start line, you get a little bit of respect (and it’s still totally fun!!!)–people understand you gave it more than two seconds thought to show up and put in the work to get to that point.  Size doesn’t equate ability, it’s a lesson I fight in my own head daily, nevertheless trying to educate the masses too (the latter, an exhausting effort and a fight I’m not sure I’m up for as it’s rather political in nature).

I think that’s also the benefit of the MTP.  My coach can assign me all the books in the world (and has), and we discuss them ad infinitum, but him saying, “hey, perhaps consider the MTP approach for a cycle or two with the group,” has been a unique experience–it’s brought the endurance race day experience down to a real life place, to see how all of us at every level of cycling and triathlon are working out some of these things on our own lives to conquer some pretty incredible things from simply living and training through cancer treatment to literally climbing some of the most incredible courses in the world on bikes.

I have a TON to still learn…I will shake how I currently see myself (which is my former self), and eventually see the reality of the present moment.  The weird thing in the picture is the future: I can see the accomplishments.  I know what they are–70.3, 140.6, varying ultra marathon distances up to 100 mile (who knows, maybe more? I swore at one point I’d never run a marathon…).  Do I know what I actually look like conquering those Mt. Sufferlandrias? Not a clue.  But I know I’m going to do it.  I’ve come too far not to.

Looks aren’t everything.  Sure, it would be great to look in the mirror and just see myself.  Just see a whole person.  Not focus in on the weight left to lose, the sagging skin on my upper arms and thighs that pulls and causes soreness (oh, thank heavens for lycra and compression running tights!), and all the other things I don’t like about myself.  Yeah, I could also get a lot of those things corrected too–crash diets (but I don’t diet and seem to still be doing a fantastic job, so I’ll stick with what works without the crazy head games), excess skin removal (yes, technically medically necessary, but I’m not entertaining it until I’ve lost all the weight I’m going to lose and have maintained it for a time–and even then, there’s a whole place of self acceptance that I need to get to first before I would consider hacking into my physical appearance.  That’s only responsible).

So, there’s the long-winded answer to a simple question–is my self-image limiting?  You bet.  I believe though having the goals that I have in play (beyond the physical ones I have expressed publicly) are going to continue to take me to that next level to break past it.  When?  How? That part isn’t so easy…but the WHY is solid and unwavering, and I’m not going anywhere.

Present and future


Death By Words

Sigh.  The things that take up real estate in the mind…and I despise that this bugs me so much.

I posed a question earlier, somewhat rhetorical, but sincere in the pursuit of understanding why this happens in my head: Why do positive affirmations so easily fall from the mind, but the single negative comment takes up residence and eats away at you?

Because of, well, the necessity to keep life moving at life’s pace and extremely poor coping skills, I’ve developed the incredible ability to compartmentalize situations in my mind instead of processing things in a healthy manner–this can be okay in some ways, temporarily, but in the long term it accomplishes nothing but rumination and an inability to see the forest for the trees.  This has become better over time, but it is a work in progress, and unfortunately it tends to be the catalyst of me being my own worst enemy.

I got to have a little “me time” Friday night and yesterday morning as my day off has been steamrolled the last few weeks, and now a mandatory meeting and some other tasks take it away without time left in the week to exchange in its place.  Oh well, life happens.  I got to blow off some steam and enjoy dinner and a movie with some gals, take an amazing scenic bike ride on a route I don’t normally have access to, and ran some errands for the church and home.  It was just what the doctor ordered! (Literally…I recently woke up and my neck hurt so badly I couldn’t turn my head and by the second day when I went and got it checked, both the chiropractor and osteopath told me it was stress induced.  It has gotten better, some days better than others, but the nagging discomfort and occasional pain is in direct correlation to the anxiety I experience at a given point…such is life.).  I realize I sound like a child whining about a day off, when it’s something that I have spent 10 years as a pastor neglecting, ignoring my husband’s pleas for many years to take one (and following his example as a godly husband and head of our family in taking a true sabbath), and have made it a priority to make happen as my eyes are opened to the value (and sanity) of it…and have only been successful in it 50% of the time since I’ve made it a goal in my life because of circumstances dictated beyond my control, it’s frustrating.  (and it’s not an invitation for suggestions…short of shortchanging other programs, people, and responsibilities, it doesn’t happen.  I’ll live.  Most of the world doesn’t dedicate the same time to life/quiet time/personal study and knowledge pursuits/morning routines in the AM that I do before starting the day, so that’s my consolation for the time being I suppose.)

Anyway…I digress.  Let’s get back to yesterday’s amazing scenic bike ride.  The last time I rode this area was seven months ago.  It’s a decently challenging ride for the climbing-inept (me), but you are surrounded by such beauty that you have a lot of distraction from your legs screaming at you as you focus on the cadence to propel your rear forward (and up!), and bonus–I didn’t run out of gears this time, my legs are getting stronger!  I was having an absolutely incredible morning–the weather was perfect, I felt great (despite sleeping like crud and my neck bothering me all night long), the scenery was great, I was feeling the improvements of the ride, and everyone out there (tons and tons of other cyclists and a handful of runners as well) seemed to be having a blast of a morning too and was so personable and encouraging to one another and me in greeting.

…and then it happened.  On the last difficult climb of the ride before the final descent, a person (oh the words I REALLY want to use to describe the individual…) came flying by me and chose to mouth off a comment that has just seared its way into my psyche.  It’s not even one of those that can just be misinterpreted through inflection, or “maybe they meant it another way,” no, this was just a mean-spirited jerk of a comment.  If not so deep in concentration of kicking some awesome butt up this hill (I may suck at climbing, but seriously, the speed will come, I understand the mechanics of this–but something was totally on par for me yesterday and I was rocking it for me! I felt amazing!), I would’ve loved to fire back a retort at this person–reminding them to not judge a person’s story by the chapter they walked (rode) in on, but I was just totally deflated.

I kept it up…I peaked the hill and actually ended up having to pull into an overlook to take return a phone call that needed my attention from several minutes earlier, and then savored every moment of the glorious reward of the descent of the last several miles where my car was parked.  But that stupid comment, it stuck in my mind.  It didn’t matter every other positive comment I heard yesterday morning, or those that I gave in return–it was the one person that had to be the turd in the punch bowl that’s taking up head space and I can’t shake it.  I’ve tried to rationalize it–is it truth?  No.  I’ve tried to justify it–could they maybe have been having a bad day and taking it out on someone else?   Maybe… I’ve even tried to reshape the words to figure out how to make it positive.  Not there.  I’m at the point of ripping this apart in my mind where I’m starting to let this false statement absorb as truth about me…and I don’t want to go there.

I’m my own worst critic.  I’ve said it before that the things I say to myself about myself are so vicious that I would never speak them of another human being, yet I do it to myself.  And now I’m adding fuel to the fire, instead of squelching it.  Two steps forward, one step back.  I don’t have the answer…I’m just venting.  It’s a work in progress.  Rewriting the lies in my head has been the hardest part of this journey.  God must have something huge in store with this lesson…that’s all I know, because all I can do is keep turning it over to Him, again and again daily.  Remind myself of His truth.  I desire to see myself as He sees me, to live as He created me to be, but ridding myself of everything the world has piled on to understand that very basic idea is the true journey.

In His time…in His time…

…and pray for those that hurt us.

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Unloading…

I should never be left to my own devices…and then left to my own devices again.  There is a max capacity to time alone spent in my own head, and while the last almost two weeks have been rather productive progress, I’m reaching max capacity and the dog just isn’t much of a conversationalist.

It’s one of those seasons of time where I’m not sleeping well because of, well, things I can’t control.  Thus, more time in my head.  I’m coming back around again to the idea of forgiveness.  I’ve written on this before, it’s an area of struggle for me–not in general, but in a specific area.  It’s so easy to counsel others how to forgive the unforgivable, but I can’t apply the same counsel to a situation in my life.  As much of a logical and analytical person I can be, I can’t separate the action from the emotion in this situation.  I’ve begged God for far longer than I care to over the years on this to show me, to help me, to make this impossible task a little more clear cut…but, crickets.  I’m not going to lie that knowing I have this unsettled situation in my heart makes me often feel inadequate in my role as a pastor.  I don’t have the answer.  I want to, but I just don’t, and I think that hurts more than anything.  Waiting on God…waiting to figure out that next right action.

I want to find my niche again…life is falling into a routine again finally, despite all the catching up still to be done. But I can’t help but feel a little bit lost.  I have my responsibilities, I have our ministry, I have the places that I serve outside our ministry that contribute to our community…but I just can’t seem to find where I fit in the world again.  I’ve spent some time really digging in on what I want that to look like for me and while I know it’s not popular, I know what it is–and I’m going to keep pursuing those things.  I’ve put too much time, education and professional development, blood, sweat, and tears into something that God is pushing me towards not only for the betterment of myself but for others too.  So, in addition to hitting the books in preparation to make a goal a reality very soon, I’m contemplating an opportunity to build on some skills I’ve been cultivating for awhile that will benefit some longer term goals as well.  Life changes in the blink of an eye–I value too many precious things to let assumptions and judgment stand in the way of God’s purpose for me and the benefit for His Kingdom, and I’m burdened to pursue it for His glory.

I don’t really have a pretty package to tie this all up and round it all together….not sure where I’m going here.  Just wanted to lay down some ramblings and get it out of my head, we all know how that goes.  It is what it is. Very happy husband comes home tomorrow, that Friday I get to have lunch with a beautiful friend and see my favorite ballerina in her recital, and that life can hopefully get back to its semblance of “normal” until hubby leaves again in a few weeks.  ‘Tis conference and disaster season!  More later.

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You Could Talk To God, Go Banging On His Door

Daily.  I’d love to say every moment of every single day, but I’m human…so let’s just say–I seek Him a LOT.

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My life verse…my prayer.  The plea of my holistic journey with God.  The pursuit of holiness.  The living out of God’s will on my life.

Yesterday I did a thing, and it was amazing.

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(More pics on my facebook or instagram, links on the sidebar to both of those profiles–husband is awesome at this sherpa/personal race photographer business!)

The swim–

As my wave hit the water waiting for the gun, one of the few songs “kick my rear into gear” songs came on the speakers and we were off.  I think I swallowed half the lake, but my swim time came out 0:01/100yd more than my most recent 800m TT (yeah, I love mixing imperial and metric too…eye roll).  This was a shock as I came out of the water and caught glance at my watch–we estimated my OWS pace at 0:30/100yd over my TT pace.  Other than speedier than expected and oh my rocky beach, I absolutely need to upgrade to RX googles–I may be able to see in a pool and kinda-sorta sight buoys with standard goggles, but I’m going to be a danger to myself in the long term.  I can’t see squat.  I have the info on how to get them reasonably priced…now that I have an updated lens RX, now’s the time.  I felt like I spent way too much time in the water trying to focus my eyes and process on where the buoys were to sight and make sure I was swimming in a (remotely) straight line.

T1-

If you wanted a glimpse of a few of my wilder nights in college, T1 was where it was at!  The speedy swim did a number on me and it took a few minutes and a lot of stumbling over myself to get it together.  I did take my time, finally just sat on the ground, and got myself together.  Hilarity ensued–not in the moment, but after I settled in on the bike I had a pretty good laugh at myself.

Bike-

Who puts bike in/bike out on a hill?!  I thought I had gathered myself together, but the first minutes on the bike were sheer torture climbing up a hill to get from the beach out to the road.  I didn’t even make it to the road before I had to pull over and get my wits about me.  I took a minute or so to take a deep breath, pull my HR down quickly, get my head back to where it needed to be, and employ a few other attack tactics in my mental arsenal.  Got moving and hit the road–and then it was game on.  The bike course was essentially a few climbs of varying degree, so some work and then some reward.  Once I settled in after that first stop, it was exactly what I needed–I was full-on focused.  Shocked me, but bike ended up being my strongest leg of the day.  I would love to improve my speed on the climbs, but I was consistent–and I even overtook several people.  There was one point on a downhill on the return that I must have had a look of just sheer exhilaration on my face because I had like three racers in the other direction yell out that they loved my smile as I flew past them while they were climbing.  Had one guy biff it in front of me near the aid station, but I (nicely) called out in advance of it since there weren’t many riders near me for the volunteers to not to step out to hand me anything that I couldn’t grab it.  Floated my foot well in advance of bike dismount because it was on a downhill and stopping fast–no crashing being clipped in.  Nailed the estimated bike time on the head. It felt amazing. Success!!!

T2–

Nothing special.  Wish I would’ve remembered to grab my chapstick out of my bike bag or put a second one in my running handheld.

Run–

…otherwise known as a stroll in the rocks with 2 miles-ish of actual running.  Due to my disdain for it and severe lack of coordination, I simply don’t have a lot of experience running off-road.  Add in a gut full of lake water sloshing around my stomach and a rocky “path”….yeah. It wasn’t pleasant.  I attempted to recover a bit of time on the small section of paved road we got to run on, and the downhill section that was a bit less rocky where I wasn’t as conscious of every single step, but again–that gut full of lake water.  I tried to focus on the scenery around me as it was really the first time that day I actually got the take in the beauty of Lake Mead and the area and just keep moving quickly.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either.  Run had some wiggle room on estimated finish because it was off-road, but I finished it 12-14 minutes longer than anticipated.  It is what it is, time to practice some trails.  Stupid rocks.

Finish–

All said and done, even with a long T1 and crappy run, but the extra time cushion from the swim, I finished 2:44 under my estimated finish.  And I wasn’t DFL.  It was an incredible day.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world–even the not-so-pleasant moments serve for learning.  And I got to share it with my husband and was cheered on by several friends also racing.  How could you go wrong?

All glory goes to God.

I cried out to Him, I have been obedient to Him spiritually, emotionally/mentally, and physically, and He has been faithful to me.  I know my journey doesn’t make sense to some, and I’m at a place where I’m not going to constantly repeat myself.  The part I’ve always said and will continue to say is that I’m here, let’s chat–because there’s so much more than meets the eye.  The healthy habits that have contributed to achieving a healthier weight and continue to do so, racing/training, physical accomplishments, etc–all of them are a tiny part of a bigger picture of obedience to God’s will.  I won’t be made to feel guilty about pursuing a deeper relationship with God that permeates into every fiber of my being in every single part of my life, ministry, thought, and action, or pursuing or sharing the interests that I have and not wearing the frustrations of my life and/or ministry and the minutiae and absolute insanity of each day on my shoulder like a badge of honor.  Sure, I do share some struggles, because everyday isn’t sunshine and roses…but could it be I share some things over others as my escape from the stresses of life?  Let’s put it this way…without an outlet, you probably wouldn’t want to know me right now.  And I say that in all seriousness.  But I have balance…I have lots of balls that I juggle professionally and personally and believe it or not, life is hard and we’ve navigated through some tough stuff the past few months, but God is faithful and things are coming around.

Life is good.  God is good.

I’m excited for the future in many way.  Stay tuned, there’s more to come.