nine celebrations for the month of september

Balance, serenity, and focus…that describes my September. Overall it was a quiet month for me, but I have much to celebrate. In no particular order, here’s why I’m throwing some confetti as I say good-bye to September.

  • This Is Us is back on NBC on Tuesday evenings! I don’t watch much television, or should I say television series, but I do completely enjoy this series. I was like a child anxiously awaiting for 9:00 PM to arrive so I could catch episode #1. It did not disappoint!
  • K-cups! I purchased some K-cups just for me. I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy Cafe Escapes Chai Latte. It’s oh-so delicious! It’s my guilty pleasure in the morning as I begin my day at school.
  • Books! There are some new books on my radar for the month of September: The Little Book of Hygge (hoo-ga) and Braving the Wilderness. Both books speak to me on different levels. That’s the thing about books, when they connect to you, you just devour them!
  • My Fitbit! I continue to be just a wee bit obsessed with my Fitbit. It’s a good obsession though! I’ve gained control of my hydration and my overall sleep has improved. The sleep issue is HUGE! I’m so happy that more times than not I am finally gaining control of my sleep patterns and the amount of hours I rest each night. There are other perks to my Fitbit, but I’ll spare you the details for now. Truthfully, I could do an entire post just on my Fitbit!
  • Journaling! I received a journal last Christmas from a dear friend. It’s titled Fit Happens (wink, wink!) It’s a gratitude journal and it has proven to be a great way for me to reflect on my day. I’ve been journaling in it in the evening and I think it is a nice way to wrap up my day. I heart the way it touches upon various aspects of my day and it has a well-rounded approach. I just haven’t been able to keep up with my “morning pages” so this allows me to keep up with my writing and reflections at the end of my day.
  • Caps off to new pens! I have another obsession —> my Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel pens. They write oh-so smooth, come in a nice variety of colors, and do NOT smear for this left-handed girl! I heart them too!
  • 1/2 Marathon training! I’m excited for my upcoming 1/2 marathon in October. During September I was able to complete *all* of the training runs that I scheduled on my new plan. It goes without saying that I’m proud of this accomplishment. After the race, I’m looking forward to mixing my fitness up a bit. It’s time to get back into my cross-training routine.
  • Fall is here! The temperatures are finally cooler! This is fabulous for the runner in me. I certainly enjoyed the sunshiny days, but the heat and humidity definitely made my running a challenge, an enormous challenge! The cooler temperatures are so much more conducive to withstanding a 10, 11, or 12 mile run!
  • #mustreadin2017! I only have two more books to read on my #mustreadin2017 list. They are Two Naomis and Wonderstruck. Wonderstruck will be out in the movie theaters in October so it’s down to the wire that I finish it ASAP.

And that’s a wrap for my nine September celebrations!

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 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
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three choices

May 7th at 5:20 AM…

The alarm sounded. So it was, time to get up, time to lace up, time to race.

But we weren’t feeling it. Matt wasn’t. I wasn’t. Maddie wasn’t. We wanted to stay in bed. We wanted to continue sleeping. Mentally we weren’t there. Blame it on the cold weather, blame it on the chance of rain, blame it on the life happenings at the moment.

We wanted to give up,

but we didn’t. We laced up and headed to the starting line.

7:00 AM…

We stood in the starting corral and we waited and we waited and we waited. Talking was at a minimal. But our mind was speaking, sending us bad vibes even though there was an occasional smile here and an occasional smile there. Snap that selfie. Make it look good for the camera. Our minds told us give in. You can turn around now, if you want.

We wanted to give in,

but we didn’t.

Then we heard those magic words…RUNNERS TAKE YOUR MARK!

7:23 AM…

We were off, off running through the streets of Pittsburgh.

Matt racing in his 8th marathon (26.2 miles),

me racing in my 10th half marathon (13.1 miles),

Maddie racing in her 6th half marathon (13.1 miles)!

We cruised down the streets, up the streets, over the bridges, around the stadiums and there were spectators everywhere! And they were cheering!

Cheering for us! All of us who decided…

not to give up,

not to give in,

but to give it our all!

On May 7th we had three choices: to give up, to give in, or to give it our all. And give it our all we did! When crossing the finish line we were in a state of dismay, but smiles were on our faces. For we knew that when we crossed the finish line, it was so much more than just that. It was the training we completed, the challenges we overcame, and the choices we made.

 

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Matt’s stats

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Amy’s stats

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Maddie’s stats

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What’s Your Marathon?

I’m a runner.

I’ve planned, trained, and completed 4 marathons (26.2 miles). The training plan requires 72 days of training over a span of 18 weeks. It’s an enormous commitment.

And then race day arrives. My mind plays mental games. “Trust in your training, trust in your training,” I whisper to myself again and again. I step up to the starting line and I run. I run up the hills. I glide down them. I use the flat road ahead for recovery.  It’s a roller coaster of emotions and a ping-pong of thoughts the entire time. I exhaust both physical and mental energy. Consequently, this saying that I stumbled upon couldn’t be any further from the truth.

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Enter the Slice of Life Story Challenge. It’s a marathon of writing. Thirty-one days of blogging and sharing life stories during the month of March.

I’ve blogged throughout the year so I’ve trained. I created a rough drafts here, there, and everywhere. I’ve spent time planning what I will write. Some are content rich and some say less but perhaps mean more. Yes, I’ve planned. And I showed up at the starting line on March 1st and have blogged for the last twenty-five days.

On March 23rd I pretty much felt like I was at mile marker 20. I have the topics. I actually have more topics than what I need to complete the challenge. But I’m tired. This marathon of writing is taxing on my mind. I feel like my writing is dead.

Today, March 25th, I feel like I’m at mile marker 22…I’m ready to quit. I’ve told my husband to remind me not to sign up next year. It’s been a balancing act to say the least. But just like running my marathon, I keep.on.going. I keep.on.writing.

Why do I keep on going? I keep on going because next week I know I will have crossed the finish line…too tough to kill. Undoubtably, I will forget about the anguish. What I will have is thirty-one days of memories and thoughts captured and shared, always here to relive and enjoy. I’ve come to realize that we all face marathons in our life in one way or another and we keep plugging away. This month, this challenge has been a marathon of writing, a marathon of writing for me. What’s your marathon?

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The Lies I Tell Myself

I spend a lot of time thinking about my running. I plan ahead what big races I want to conquer for the year, place them on my calendar, and then start mapping out a training plan.  I’ll admit it, I love doing this. I’m a planner. I also analyze obsess over my statistics. I can tell you how I ran the race, where I fell short, and where I shined.

I log every.single.run. 

I analyze every.single.run.

It annoys my family, I’m sure!

My mentality for running the race is just go out there and give it your best shot. You get what you get and you don’t get upset is my motto, most of the time. I show up and while I *never* say it on race day, I’m always hungry for a personal record/personal best.

Since my races for 2017 are already planned, I’ve been thinking about 2018 (I know, it’s only March of 2017!) and what I would like to achieve. The word marathon (26.2 miles) whispers in my ear.

But not just any marathon.

I keep thinking about running a marathon that would enable me to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is the marathon of all marathons that runners strive to race. It has strict qualifying times and even if you qualify there’s no guarantee you’ll get in the race.

But here’s the funny part…I want to qualify, but I really am not that obsessed about running the Boston Marathon. I just want to say, “I qualified!”

Oh yes, I’ve analyzed my stats and I’ve been on the race predictor calculators a few numerous times. I’ve calculated worse case scenarios and best case scenarios. The possibility for success is close; it’s achievable!  I’ve even picked out the race I would run to qualify and I’ve considered working with a coach. So, what’s holding me back?

It’s the lies I tell myself!

  • You are way too old for this! What are you thinking? Give it up!
  • You’re not good enough and probably won’t make it anyway, so why try?
  • You’ll have to do speed work to train for this. You can’t do speed work. You hate it.
  • You don’t like someone else telling you how to train. You will need to be a slave to a coach and someone else’s training plan.
  • You don’t have time for this. You have other priorities you should devote your time to.

Truth be told, we all have lies we tell ourselves.

Those lies can grow like weeds and take over. So why not practice lie management and shift the mindset? A growth mindset that would allow those weeds to turn to bright and beautiful wildflowers. Wildflowers that would takeover, look up and smile at the sun. A mindset that would look like/sound like this:

  • You are blessed that you can get out there and run with those in their 20s, 30s, heck, even those in their early 40s! Go get them!
  • It’s better to say I tried than to have regrets of never trying. If I fail or if I succeed at least I can say I gave it my best.
  • Speed work will take you to the next level. It’s what you need to give you that edge.
  • Hiring a coach will give you the expertise you need, a fresh new perspective!
  • You make time for what you value. You’ll figure it out, you always do.

I’m in the 45-49 age bracket and Boston says I need this:

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My race predictor calculator says I should be able to run this:

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My race predictor believes in me more than I do.

I guess it’s time to grant myself some grace and stop telling lies to myself.

~~~~~

SOL

Slice of Life

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a little talk, a little tea, and some biscotti, please!

Welcome!

Sit down,

join me for some tea.

A little biscotti and some talk is all we need!

If we were talking over tea this morning I would share…

that I am training for a half marathon. This is will be my  10th half marathon (throw some confetti here) and I’ll be running it in the beautiful city of Pittsburgh (and do a happy dance here). I’m not new to the city of Pittsburgh because I ran a marathon there two years ago and I ran the half marathon there last year. I’m in week #3 of my training so my training plan is still very manageable. My long run this week is a six mile run and my total milage for this week is 16 miles. So far, I feel good about my training plan and I’m looking forward to the race in May.

If we were talking over tea this morning I would share…

that I have read six books from my #MustReadin2017 list. I’m currently reading Flying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Ho. It’s a great compilation of stories and it even has one written by my new all-time favorite author, Kwame Alexander. Yes, I’m obsessed with his books. I absolutely loved his newest release, The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life. I loved everything about that book – the quotes, the format, the illustrations, the text, and the fact that orange inside feels and looks like a basketball. (Only book nerds would understand this!) I also finished Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. Her book is shocking, spectacular, and thought-provoking. Yes, I sing Picoult’s praises too. Oh, and then there is Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Have you read it? Well, if you haven’t, you should. I would love to talk to you about that character Betty. There will be no spoilers here so just read Wolf Hollow, okay!?

If we were talking over tea this morning I would share…

that I am anxious for April to arrive. Maddie will be home and she will be turning the big two.one (21!). I don’t know how this happened, but it’s true. When she was home over Christmas she insisted that I learn how to use Snapchat. We’ve been snapping back and forth and having fun with it. Yes, she keeps me young. But most of all I’d like to share how proud I am of her. She’s in her Junior year of nursing school and texted us last week that she was accepted into Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honors Society. She was excited and so are we!

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So that’s a wrap for this runner, reader, and rockin’ mom.

Your turn!

What would you like to talk about over some tea and, of course, biscotti?

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Looking for some writing ideas for the SOLSC? Click here.

~~~~~

SOL

Slice of Life

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Marooned in the Margin & Caught on the Curb

True confession…I haven’t been writing. Well, I have been writing, but barely. And honestly, I haven’t felt like writing. I guess you could say I am…

marooned in the margin.

The ideas are there. There is no shortage of them. But, I just haven’t had made time to write. Yes, I am …

marooned in the margin.

And then there is the Slice of Life writing challenge. Just around the corner in March. Some days I’m all in ready to accept the challenge. But then on other days, I know I am just going to shy away from it all and throw in the towel. Yes, I am…

marooned in the margin.

True confession…I have barely been running. My weekly mileage is at an all-time low of about six miles per week. I guess you could say I am…

caught on the curb.

I have been cross-training though.  Mixing it up with a little yoga, a little core work, and a little strength training. But the running, well, I’ve found an excuse here and an excuse there to legitimize skipping a run. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

And then there is the Pittsburgh half marathon. Just around the corner in 12 weeks. I’m finding it difficult to get motivated to complete my training runs. Yes, I am…

caught on the curb.

But then I stepped forced myself on that treadmill and I ran.

It was magical!

I fell into my own little world.

My running world,

my writing world.

And while I ran, I wrote.

Yes, I write while I run, in my head anyway.

After 3.1 miles, my run was complete and my piece was written.

I bounced off that treadmill.

The words spewed out from mind,

to my fingers,

to my computer.

My run was complete.

My piece was written.

Marooned in the margin,

caught on the curb,

hopefully, no more!

sometimes the most difficult part is just showing up! and sometimes just showing up is enough! ~me

SOL

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What Worked for Me in 2016

It’s that time of the year when reflections are in full swing! I’m usually reading reflections of others, but this year I decided to write and share my own. So, here they are.

  • Journaling & Blogging: I ordered an Erin Condren journal at the end of 2015. I really didn’t have high aspirations for it when I purchased it. I just knew I wanted one. As I moved through 2016, I started to dabble in writing morning pages. Once I saw how rewarding my journaling was, I decided to challenge myself and fill the entire journal. While finding time to journal can be difficult and perhaps a deterrent at times, I always enjoy going back and rereading what I wrote. I even branched out and added some cute little doodles here and there in the journal. I’ve found it is a great way to capture those magical moments and celebrate all that is marvelous in my life. Likewise, blogging has worked for me in 2016. Not only do I enjoy reading the blog posts of others, but I have enjoyed sharing “slices of my life” right here on my blog.
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Erin Condren Journal

  • Essential Oils: Yes, I love them! I was originally introduced to them by a dear friend who is no longer with me. He would always be telling me which ones I needed for this or which ones I need for that. I’ve since expanded my collection to include a diffuser and a wider variety of essential oils. I love to use them at night for a peaceful rest or if I feel a cold is lurking inside of me. I also enjoy using my diffuser in the bathroom. It gives it a “spa-like” feel and well, makes me feel special!
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My diffuser and doTerra essential oils

 

  • Volunteering at the SPCA: In 2016 I spent more time volunteering in the Small Animal Room (SAR) at the SPCA. The SAR houses mostly Guinea pigs & rabbits. My work in the SAR pretty much consists of cleaning the poop out of the cages and feeding the animals. And while this may seem minuscule, it means a world of difference to the animals who have traveled a challenging road in their short life. I’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer for the Meet & Greet adoptions sessions at our local PetSmart. But the most rewarding part…the kisses and loves I get to give to these precious animals!
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SPCA

  • Instagram: This is my new social media go-to or should I say time-waster! One of the main reasons I have enjoyed it so much it the positivity of my IG feed. I enjoy the many positive quotes I capture, the inspiration from others, and the book recommendations that are posted. Oh, and yes, I adore following all those crazy rabbit-loving folks that share countless photos of their fur babies!

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  • Running & Cross-Training:  While my milage in 2016 was a bit lower than the previous two years, I actually participated in more races and managed to squeeze out two more Personal Records (PR).  Perhaps I can accredit this to the Yoga/BODYFLOW that I have incorporated into my weekly exercise routine. I’m not sure how or why I am able to accomplish what I have, but I’ll just say it’s working and I’m good with that!
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cross-training

 

  • My One Little Word: For the last three years a One Little Word (OLW) has chosen me. In 2016, my OLW was “practice”. This has helped me maintain some sort of balance in my life by allowing me to focus on what is most important for me and for my family. I’m forever grateful that Matt is always there by my side by supporting me in my endeavors. Stay tuned for my OLW of 2017!
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2016 OLW: practice

What worked for you in 2016?

I’d love for you to take a moment and share!

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