Farewell 20s, hello 30s!

2014-10-11 crop.jpg

Dear twentysomething me: You have a lot to look forward to.

On January 23, I turned 30.

I know some people freak out at the turn of every decade, with thoughts of getting old and the fear of a swift downward spiral, but I truly love birthdays and my 30th was no different. (It also doesn’t feel so old once you get here … despite my 13-year-old sister calling me ancient.)

I will admit that in the weeks leading up to the milestone, I was a bit sad to see my 20s slipping away. But as I thought about all the things I’d done and all the places I’d gone, I felt like I really made the most of it.

Now that I’m a few weeks into my 30s, I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the past decade—and to make a list of things I look forward to in the next 10 years.

In my 20s, I …

  • Studied abroad in Australia where I
  • Met my future husband.
  • Finished college and
  • Put myself through grad school.
  • Had 11 roommates.
  • Moved 6 times, including dorm rooms, apartments and a house,
  • Which I bought.
  • Held 6 jobs—
  • One selling expensive cutlery,
  • Another working for a newspaper, where I reported on everything from crime scenes to farming.
  • Totaled a car (not my fault … at least not all of it).
  • Cried at my first speeding ticket (my fault but still unfair).
  • Had 3 dogs.
  • Made 2 road trips to Minnesota.
  • Camped in Canada.
  • Made lots of new friends.
  • Took up running at age 28.
  • Ran three 5Ks.
  • Interned at a performing arts center
  • And a public radio station.
  • Saw numerous friends get married,
  • As well as my kid brother.
  • Tried to start a garden,
  • And determined I’m terrible at growing things.
  • Took an Alaska cruise with my grandmother.
  • Visited North Dakota, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, D.C., Kentucky, Colorado, Washington, New Hampshire, Brazil and Japan.
  • Went skydiving.
  • Changed my hair color 4 times, from red to blonde to dark brown to light brown.
  • Gained wonderful in-laws
  • And 2 nephews.
  • Hosted Easter lunch
  • And Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Took an all-girls trip to Charleston, S.C., with the women of the family.
  • Road tripped to Miami with the coolest co-workers ever.
  • Bought real furniture.
  • Read the entire Bible (twice).
  • Kept 4 blogs.
  • Went snowboarding and skiing for the first time … and don’t intend to ski ever again.
  • Celebrated 5 years of marriage with a bike trip.
  • And took thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pictures of it all.

Last night, as I browsed those old photos and blog posts, half of me wanted to go back and relive some of those moments. The other half didn’t, since going backwards would mean missing out on all that’s ahead—the fun, the challenges, the crummy things that still make you stronger.

So, here’s what I’ve got so far.

In my 30s, I look forward to …

  • Running my first 10K in April.
  • Visiting Hawaii … next week!
  • Learning to drive a manual. I mean it.
  • Finally going to Ireland!
  • Seeing Emily graduate from high school.
  • And completing anything else on my bucket list, in no particular order.

What about you? What was/is the greatest thing about your 30s?   


That Spiritual Workout


For the past 12 days, I haven’t felt my best. I came down with a nasty cold that’s been hanging on for dear life, and it’s about to annoy the heck out of me. It seems no amount of meds, Emergen-C, soup, honey lemon tea or even sleep can knock this thing out.

That also means I haven’t exercised in almost two weeks, and until today started worrying that my muscles would atrophy.

But this morning I decided it’s time. Though still a bit stuffy, I laced up my shoes to go for a run.

Now I haven’t actually been running in a month, so I figured it would be a small challenge. And it was.

By the time I ran around the block with both dogs—a mile and a half each—I was beat. That last quarter of a mile couldn’t come soon enough. (I doubt the chocolate cake I had last night helped my endurance.)

Still, as I collapsed on the living room floor a few minutes later to stretch, I was proud of myself for reaching my goal—3 miles, no more, no less.

Here’s the thing: When I don’t exercise for a while, I start to feel blah. Tired, mushy and blah.

And the same could be said for my Bible-reading habits.

Twice—in 2007 and 2012—I read through the Bible in a year. Each time, I found a different reading plan that took me through a certain number of chapters every day. Some days were harder than others—those Old Testament laws were a struggle—but by the end of it, I noticed a difference.

And really, it didn’t take an entire year to see that difference.

When I spend even a few days in a row reading my Bible, I find my life more balanced, and I’m more at peace. Not that I don’t still feel rushed sometimes or that things don’t still get on my nerves, but there’s definitely a marked, gradual difference.

So why is it so hard for me to stay on track?

I’ll do great for a while, then miss a couple days and those couple days turn into a couple months. Once I stop making it a habit, it’s hard to find my rhythm again.

Here are my top excuses for not reading my Bible:

  • I’m tired.
  • I can’t focus right now.
  • I still have so much to do.
  • I’ve been reading and writing all day. The last thing I want to do is sit down with a book, of any kind.

When I set out on my run this morning, I hadn’t eaten in 14 1/2 hours. I was low on fuel, and I felt it a mile in. I felt myself slowing down, and my breathing got out of sync.

That’s what it’s like when I stop reading “the Word.” Sometimes it’s called “spiritual food,” and I think that’s a good term for it. It keeps us going and helps us focus. It’s also the best source of direction I’ve found.

I once taught a Sunday school class about reading the Bible and used an iPhone charger as an example. Everyone in the class had an iPhone, so I held up the charger and asked what happens when they don’t plug their phones in.

The phone dies. It loses power and eventually turns itself off.

That’s what happens when we’re disconnected from our greatest source of power, I told them. God isn’t just our Creator, He’s our Sustainer, and He speaks to us through the Bible. It’s not just some book on a shelf; it’s “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12), the very power of God.

And for me, when I leave it untouched until Sunday morning, I feel my life getting a bit out of whack. My priorities get jumbled, I get stressed easier and I’m less likely to “act Christian” in difficult situations.

So, starting today, I’m renewing my effort to read the Bible each day—a spiritual workout of sorts. I know I’ll miss some days, but I also know I need to try harder.

He is God after all. I should probably see what He has to say.

This summer, our team at work put together some ways to dive into your relationship with God, including tips for reading the Bible. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, too.

The Daniel Plan: Complete!

Today I had a small piece of mint Oreo pie and immediately felt like I needed fruit to balance it out. Pete made the pie for me to celebrate the end of the Daniel Plan/Valentine’s Day, and it is scrumptious, but I think I have a lower tolerance for sweets now. (That doesn’t mean I won’t continue eating a little here and a little there.)

The plan ended Friday and I waited until the next afternoon to have my first non-Daniel Plan morsel: a square of dark chocolate with sea salt from World Market. I was happy to know that I still adore chocolate, but I admit it wasn’t the hallelujah moment I thought it would be.

Overall, I’m really glad I did the Daniel Plan. Here are some good things that came of it:

  • I feel calmer. Not all the time, but in general. I’ve been less stressed with house work and with things that typically annoy me. I think it’s a combination of eating well, trying to get more sleep, exercising and making a point to read the Bible every day. Any one of those things can affect mood, but I think taken altogether, they can really pack a punch.
  • I feel good about myself. I feel like I’m doing myself a favor by trying to take care of the one and only body I’ll ever have.
  • I’ve experienced new things. I’ve tried several new recipes since this thing started. I even bought flax seed for the first time last week to add to my smoothies. (It’s high in fiber and Omega-3’s.) You can use it as a substitute for eggs, butter and oil, too, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve also discovered a slew of free workout videos. Pete added the All Fitness TV app to our Roku and I tried one of them this morning.
  • I learned more about Daniel. Reading through the book of Daniel in the Bible was fun for me. A couple of my favorite stories are included in that book, and as a whole, it was a great lesson in courage and faithfulness.

Here are some things I could have done better:

  • I still haven’t finished The Daniel Plan book. My bad. I had every intention of finishing it by now, but that hasn’t happened. I’m still going to read it all, though. The parts I have read are chock full of good advice.
  • I wasn’t great at checking in with friends. One focus of the Daniel Plan is friends. You’re supposed to encourage each other and hold each other accountable. I did that more with one of my friends than the other because I see her more, but that’s not the greatest excuse.
  • Fewer date brownies. I had my fair share of “healthy brownies”—made with dates—while on the plan. (I referred to these in my Week 3 blog post.) While I don’t think that’s necessarily bad, it was a bit of a crutch. Dates are still sweet, and it probably would have benefited me to take a cleaner break from anything sweet. My sweet tooth still craves chocolate some afternoons, but I’m getting better at blocking the craving by focusing elsewhere or munching on fruit instead.

So what now? Stuff my face with bacon cheeseburgers and ice cream? Decide No. From here, my goal is to keep up some of the good eating/fitness/focusing habits. If I feel better doing those things, why give it up?

If you missed it: Read Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 of The Daniel Plan blog posts.

It’s electric!

race_245_photo_8568507 (1)

My running buddy.

Last Saturday, Pete and I ran our first 5K. He didn’t have to practice nearly as much as I did, but that’s OK. I’m proud of the fact that I worked my way up from running half a mile to just over 3 miles at a time. That’s an accomplishment! It took about 2 months to get to that point.

The night before the race, I checked out this article about what to eat on race day. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can get “hangry” (hunger angry), so I wanted to be nourished but not stuffed before the run. The morning of the race, I had some granola cereal with almond milk, then about four hours before, downed some oatmeal and a banana.

Shortly before show time, we joined hundreds of others, including some friends, at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Electric Run, donning ourselves in glow necklaces, strobe light bracelets, face paint and bright colors. (I even borrowed some bright knee-high socks with pictures of fruit all over them.)

photo 2

Our friends Sal and Shayna invited us to the 5K.

There were multiple waves of runners that night, so by the time we started, it was around 9:30. We started off really slow since there were so many people in front of us, but Pete made a path around them and we gained some momentum.

The run was only partially on the racetrack; the rest was along a winding path just behind it. I didn’t expect the few small hills, but that’s good for you, right? It was also slightly annoying trying to weave around people who were walking or pushing strollers since the “runners on the right, walkers on the left” rule wasn’t really followed. There was a lot to look at, though—neon decorations, glowing outfits and bright, bouncing tutus. One girl wore a unicorn head, which was more creepy than interesting.

Toward the end of the race, I felt like we should have been at 3 miles already, but we still had a ways to go. I got pretty hot and my ankles got tired, but I didn’t feel too winded.

At the finish line, I threw my arms up in true “I did it!” fashion, but of course the photographer didn’t catch that part. He caught the part where I was looking at my phone to stop the timer on my RunKeeper app. 😦 All said in done, we ran 3.28 miles in about 33 minutes, which isn’t too shabby!

Pete looks fit and serious, and I look like I decided to text mid-walk. I promise I was covered in sweat.

Pete looks fit and serious, and I look like I decided to text mid-walk. I promise I was covered in sweat.

Once we stopped, we grabbed the tiniest cups of water ever and waited for the others in our group to finish. A DJ played music on one end of the track while a bunch of people crowded in front of the stage to dance and wave glow sticks. I people watched and concluded that there are lots of fit people at these things. The kind of people who hit the gym twice a day and shop at Dick’s. But that’s to be expected. There were also lots of normal looking people and I even saw one woman being pushed in a wheelchair.

Once we rounded everyone up, we headed to TGI Fridays where people stared at our bright clan from the windows as we walked in. I was hungry, my legs were tired and now I’d like to do it again.


At the start line.





photoSo guess what I did today. … Guess, guess, guess! … Give up? OK, here it is: Pete and I ran 3.1 miles this morning! That’s a 5K, baby!

My last post about running, exactly a month ago today, talked about running a mile straight. The very first time I ran a mile, I was out of breath and felt like my heart was in my lungs. The second time wasn’t as bad, but it was still a challenge.

I don’t remember when I first ran 2 miles straight, but I know that I ran 2.25 just before we left for Alaska a few weeks ago. I was worried during our time there that I would lose some of the endurance I had built up, but two days after we got back, I was up to 2.5 miles. Then almost 2.9 on Sunday with a brief break.

So today was definitely an exciting milestone. It’s been about 2 months since I started running (about every other day), and I’m happy to see that it’s getting easier. Running still isn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, but I like it more now that I don’t feel like I’m going to die at the one-mile mark. The 3 miles was still challenging this morning, but Pete and I both felt like we could have kept going. I stopped because I wanted time to cool down and my legs were pretty tired. Minus the warm up and cool down, it took us right at 30 minutes.

Because I like to turn things into a learning experience, here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • The absolute best thing I can do for endurance is focus on breathing. I count in through my nose—one, two, three, and out through my mouth—one, two, three. That helps immensely. It also helps to start breathing that way during the five minutes I’m walking to warm up.
  • Wearing a hat while running in North Carolina humidity makes me feel hotter than not wearing a hat. But it does hold my ponytail in place.
  • Listening to music helps the time go by, but because I have ear buds, I can also hear myself breathing, which is kind of distracting. I usually have a dog with me in the mornings anyway, so I haven’t listened to much music. Next time I do, I’m going to listen to something I know all the words to so I can sing along in my head and see if time goes by any faster. 🙂
  • Running with a dog slows me down. Anja always has to stop and pee, and I’m paranoid that Zoey will suddenly dart to one side to chase a squirrel and pull my arm out of the socket.
  • Running with Pete helps distract me in a good way. He gets bored and starts talking about the future, although I don’t talk back because I’m focusing on breathing. (Apparently our future entails paying off our home, building a yurt and Pete being a stay-at-home husband. Or so I’m told.)
  • The RunKeeper app is so-so. I like the GPS feature and that it gives me a running plan to reach my goal, but it hasn’t been applying my activities to my plan. There’s also something off about the way it tracks days. It says the 3.1 miles we ran this morning actually happened yesterday, even though the actual date on the app is correct. I can’t fully recommend it if you’re looking for a running app.
  • Shoes make a HUGE difference. My old worn-out tennis shoes hurt my ankles and I feel like I can’t run nearly as long in them. I’m happy with the Saucony ones I got when we first started running (pictured above). They were pretty inexpensive online.

3 1/2 weeks ’til the 5K!

The mile run


This is from my RunKeeper app. This was the second day I ran a mile straight. The entire walk/run took just under 20 mins.

In my last post, I mentioned that the longest distance I’ve run nonstop since starting my 5K training was only half a mile. Since then, I’ve run a mile straight twice! Pete was with me the first time so it was nice to have someone keep me going. … Most people have to do a mile run in school, but I never did so it’s a small milestone.

On the days my running plan says I can rest, I either follow orders or do a different exercise. I was sick a couple days last week but one of those days was a rest day and the second I felt OK enough to walk/jog.

More updates on life coming soon! (Sneak peek: One involves driving a manual for the first time. As suspected, I’m not very good at it.)

Ready to run

running shoes

If you know I’m not a pink person, you’ll know that these are not my shoes. Mine are blue, but I don’t have a picture of them yet.

Back in September, I wrote this blog about running a 5K—and how, after months of saying I was going to follow the Couch to 5K running plan, I decided not to worry about it because I just couldn’t get into it.

Well, folks, women change their minds.

About a month ago, a friend invited me and Pete to do the Electric Run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s a 5K at night involving glow sticks and rave music. OK, I don’t know about the rave music, but that’s what it looks like. It’s Aug. 23, so it’s good that it’s at night.

A few weeks ago, I started training for it using the RunKeeper app on my phone. It tracks time, distance and so on. My endurance is sad, so I need all the practice I can get. I could walk for hours, but running is a different thing.

Pete and I have since invested in some running shoes since our shoes were old and worn out, and most mornings, I’ve been getting up at 4:30 to walk/run around the neighborhood. If Pete doesn’t go with me, I take one of the dogs. (Zoey has ADD and Anja wants to walk while I run, so it can be challenging.) So far, I think the farthest I’ve run in one stretch is half a mile. And the best time walking/running 3.1 miles is 33 minutes.

My goal for the 5K is to run the entire thing. I signed up for a free running plan on RunKeeper that is supposed to help you do that within 8 weeks.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • If you’re not a runner, your legs might be REALLY sore on the second and third days. So much so that you can’t even take the tiny step onto the sidewalk. Or get into your car without wimpering a little.
  • I’ve found that it helps to switch the side of the street you’re walking or running on. The streets slope up in the middle, so if you’re always on one side, one leg and foot might get more sore than the other.
  • It’s really dark at 4:30 in the morning. It’s also way cooler than 6 p.m. And there aren’t as many cars.

Also, the title of my blog reminds me of this gem of a song from “Runaway Bride”: