Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Race Report - Portland to Coast 2014

So... I participate in Portland to Coast this past August. That's right - four months ago I walked 12-ish miles over two legs, in the middle of nowhere, with a group of amazing friends, and I'm just now getting round to telling you all about it. I'm also participating in 2015. Maybe you'll hear about it sometime the year after that.

So, a relay race. Fun, right? I had this vision of having a torch handed off to me that I had to run around with but it wasn't quite so ancient Greece. It was a slap bracelet though! Remember those? I had oodles of fun with them when I was wee and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of it during PTC.

My first leg of the race was the second leg of our group through St. Helens around Germantown Rd. Immediately I realised I hadn't trained quite enough. I had exacerbated an old ankle injury the month before the race and didn't get enough training or exercise and my pace and lung capacity were both pretty miserable. I averaged about 17 mph on that first leg though; not as good as I wanted, but not too slow either. Our team was mostly interested in the fun of it so pace wasn't the most important thing to us.

After each walker takes off, the rest of the team piles into the team vehicle and they drive to the next hand-off point. Along the way, they stop and draw encouraging messages on the sidewalk, honk and wave and shout as they drive past their walker, and generally make you feel awesome.

About half-way through my first leg, I was plodding along walking slightly uphill with my eyes glued to the ground so I could make sure to avoid any obstacles that would send me sprawling; I was winded, my ankle hurt, I was cold-but-sweaty, and sort of feeling miserable about myself when I saw the message my team had written for me on the sidewalk. I don't even remember what it said. I saw my name and something encouraging and immediately my eyes teared up, completely blurring my vision and obscuring the message my teammates had written. I was overcome with a sense of fellowship; I had this go-team-rah-rah feeling that I didn't expect. I did not participate in team sports, or anything else team-oriented for that matter, when I was young. No committees, no groups, and nothing that gave me any sense of team spirit. But when I saw that message from my friends I felt like belonged to part of a team, and it was really nice.

That's probably my favourite part of the experience. The exercise was awesome. I was sore, cold, tired, hungry, and generally physically uncomfortable for the day-and-a-half I was out but it felt really good.

There's so much I would share about this, except it's been ages and it's sort of a blur in my head. There was a massage and some food and free stuff, and goofing around at the beach with friends at the end of it though, and those are always the parts that stick the most.


New Year Goals

With 2014 coming to a close I am reminded again how refreshing the prospect of a new year is. The theme for 2014 was development, and I really feel like I did quite a lot of that during the year. I had some low points for sure: physical therapy which sapped both my will to live and my ability to run, walk, or do any significant exercise. Exercise hits a special trigger with me that really impacts my happiness when I don't have it.

For the past several years I've been focusing on a theme for the year because the prospect of rigidity in "new year resolutions" feels like too much to keep up with, too much pressure, and too much specificity - not leaving me enough room to really grow and instead forcing a structure on me that encourages rushing through a thing just to cross it off a list.

Lately, though, I feel like I need that structure again. I do love a good list, after all, and I've been accomplishing my goals well enough by using the theme method for each year that I'm ready for a change. So here is my list of goals for this year, in no particular order:


  • Achieve 100% visiting teaching for each month in 2015
  • Blog - if not daily, at least once each week
  • Attend a writing seminar or retreat
  • Join a knitting club - with meetings and everything
  • Complete a minimum of one knitting project each month
  • Plan and start Christmas knitting well in advance of Christmas
  • Achieve a 15 mph walking pace
  • Read at least 24 books
  • Walk my dog(s) more often

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things I wish to accomplish in 2015. I also want to cook more, exercise more, take more pictures, write a book, watch less TV, study more, go to school, and solve everyone's emotional problems. You know, the same list of things I don't do every year and keep tacking onto next year's list.

Happy new year!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Funeral

A friend of my husband's died last week and I had an opportunity to attend the funeral service. I didn't know the man who died, but I've heard many stories about him.

His name is Eric, and from what I gather he had a big personality. He got into mischief, and according to everyone who spoke of him he had a big, soft heart.

I don't often attend funerals for people I don't know so I'm not sure if this always happens, but the more I heard about Eric the more I wanted to know about him. I found myself feeling saddened for his friends and family, but I also felt disappointed that I never had a chance to know him.

This was also my first experience at an LDS funeral and it was very nice, as much as a funeral can be 'nice'. It was appropriately somber and inviting to the spirit, but also filled with a sense of love and peace for Eric, and for everyone who was suffering at his loss.

I felt a bit like an intruder, witnessing so much pain: his girlfriend in her devastation; members of the church who knew and counseled him; his family who had such kind things to say about him. Even though I didn't know Eric, I could feel that his passing left such a void in the lives of those who knew him.

I couldn't help but remember Colin in those moments; the pain of his death, and a life that seems ended far too soon.

One of the speakers at Eric's service, a bishop of the church who had served and helped Eric, commented that we are strangers here on Earth but in Heaven we know one another; that we are friends there, and we know each other so well and so deeply that we love everyone once we have returned to that spiritual "home". There is an LDS hymn that includes these lyrics: "no longer as strangers on Earth need we roam". These words hit me very deeply and are part of what is changing in me about how I feel about 'strangers'. I'm starting to understand how we can love people we don't know.

I wish I had had a chance to know Eric. I hope he is at peace where he is.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm not ready

I wrote a great poem a few nights ago. Only, I was in bed and the poem didn't scream at me very loudly; so I didn't get up to write it down.

This happens to me. The less I write, the less urgently I feel about getting it down. So it swirls around in my head, stopping me up and blocking really good stuff.

I wish I hadn't ignored it. My words are so much better when I don't ignore them.

Tomorrow I'm participating in the Portland to Coast relay race. I'm under-prepared and under-trained. Between vacations, injuries, and an overwhelming fatigue I have not accomplished the things I wished to.

Wish me luck. I think I might need it.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Gratitude list - day... uh, oops

I've lost track of what day I'm on. I was supposed to share three things every day but I'm traveling and didn't keep up. So here are a few things that I'm really grateful for; does excessive gratitude make up for inconsistency?

  • Family - most of my family is in California so I don't see them often. I'm happy for this chance to see them and spend some time reconnecting.
  • Steve - my husband is awesome and supportive. I appreciate him and the love he shares so freely.
  • Perspective - the ability to change how we feel about something by changing how we view it; the opportunity we have to let bad feelings go once we change our attitude; the ability to recognise that in the eternities, some things just don't matter. It's sort of a big deal.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baby cousin

"I was afraid you wouldn't like me; I was afraid I wouldn't be what you expected."

This is what my 14 year old cousin told me when I met her for the first time today, and then my heart broke wide open.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gratitude

Today's gratitude list:

  • Road trips. This is making it to my gratitude list a lot, I know. It's sort of a big deal for me. I'm actually known for not loving road trips. I have little patience for extended periods of driving; most road trips end in camping, and my last couple camping trips sort of cured me of ever wanting to do that again. My last road trip, however, was a lot of fun. It didn't end in camping, which helped. This Saturday my mom and I are leaving for Sacramento and I'm really looking forward to it. It turns out, I really love road trips with my mom. She's one of the most fun people I know.
  • People who use Facebook for good. Negative posts or interactions frequently make me want to withdraw from Facebook and society in general. I have a few friends who post quotes - quotes from the LDS church leaders, quotes from Buddhism or Eastern philosophy, some just random cleverness. The positive, uplifting posts and conversations that I get to witness or participate in restore a tiny bit of my faith in humanity every time it happens.
  • My animals. They bring me so much joy in every-day, little ways. The way my Vicious Beast plays with "his" dainty little kitty really tickles me. Even the lizard, all standoffish and bitey. It doesn't entirely make sense to me why animals make such good companions, or how they can make you feel good even though they don't really DO anything. But I love them.

How about you? What makes you happy with life? Comment here, or take the Facebook challenge going around and tag some friends to play along.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today I'm thankful for....

  • Good friends and double dates
  • Reflection
  • Having a fresh start every day
  • Upcoming road trip with my mama
  • Having a supermarket so close

It's my crazy time of year again... when I am uncharacteristically sensitive to everything, when I can't get a handle on my emotions, when everything seems to hit all my triggers. I hate it when I feel this way - when I know that I need to change my attitude or my outlook or my perspective, but I can't see past the blood-red anger:fear:hatred:soulsuckingpain happening inside my head.

I know that it will pass. It always does, and then I can move on to the part where I feel like I have to apologise to everyone I've spoken to during my crazy-time, just in case I've said something horrible.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bad Day

I had a really bad day yesterday. Nothing came out of my mouth right and my head was full of The Awful.

Do you know about The Awful? It's the monster who sits there and convinces you that you are stupid and worthless and that the people who are most important to you don't really like you. He intercepts all incoming words and mashes them around until they reflect precisely how worthless you are. After he's done wtih that he bangs his big fists inside your head until your brain feels ready to explode.

There are few ways to quiet The Awful, none of them good; but he tricks you into thinking that screaming and crying will shut him up. At the end of it all, when you're feeling drained and tired, The Awful sits- fat and happy; gorged on your bad behaviour and hurt feelings; excessively pleased with himself.

I was hoping today would be better; like any binge, I find myself looking backward in shame. Why did I think those things? How could I have believed they were true? Am I subconsciously preparing to be made to feel bad about myself? Is The Awful a part of me, or is it the Devil himself stomping around in my brain? Maybe it's both, and I'm part-Devil.

Today is not better.



Friday, July 11, 2014

Projects I'm excited about

  • Transcribing an audio recording of my husband's grandmother during our family reunion. Grandma is 96 years old, but if you weren't told that you'd never know. She gets around with the aid of one of those walker-scooty-chairs, but she really gets around; her mind is sharp and she's got a great sense of humour. And the love that she radiates... I think she's the template God had for grandmas. During the reunion she spoke about her life, her conversion to the Gospel and joining of the church, and her family. Steve was clever enough to record it, and I'd like to transcribe it and make it available to everyone.
  • Going through all 1000+ photographs I took over the last week in Arizona. I didn't get nearly what I wanted; I missed a couple photo ops with the kids and the family we were staying with, but I got quite a few.
  • Writing letters to my nieces and nephew. Before Grandma spoke about her life one of the cousins mentioned the importance of our heritage, especially to the younger generation; to know about our families, where we come from, and what life was like before we were born... these things are important to a "sense of self". That really resonated with me, but I'm not raising my own children so I thought I'd focus on my brother-in-law's family. I love his children so much and they are such amazing little people; they have such a wonderful family and we live so far away from each other - I thought some letter-writing might be a nice way to bridge the gap between visits and vacation.
  • A secret project I'm working on for one of the missionaries in my area. I'm not ready to talk about this one, but it's going to be awesome.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Arizona

I have so much to say about families, and family reunions. Unfortunately, by the time I have a few quiet moments to record any thoughts, I'm so exhausted that I don't get far before sleep pulls me away...

I am in Arizona for a week at a family reunion on my husband's side - all the descendants from his mother's grandparents, and their posterity. It's really an amazing family and one that I feel so fortunate to be a part of. The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity and I can barely process and record the best parts before the next best parts are happening.

So far my favourite parts are the nieces and nephew and their brilliant energy. I have hundreds of pictures and more words than my brain can coherently generate, but I'll share both when I've had more sleep.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Five year plan?

I was reading The Eighty-Twenty this morning, catching up on my favourite blogs while attempting to get my brain functioning on some higher level. I read something there that gave me pause: "Most of us could probably draw out a general idea of where we'd like to be in five years.” Here's the full post, if you're interested.

Can most of us do this? Are the lot of you walking around with the next five years already planned out? Should I have a five year plan?

I can remember when I was a girl grown-ups asking me what I wanted to "be" when I was grown. Mostly what I wanted to be was a grown-up. Oh, certainly I'd given thought to my dream career; I always wanted to be a writer and a psychologist. But I didn't plan it out very well.

I dropped out of high school and got a job instead of a diploma, got married young, and spent the first few years of adulthood struggling (in a good way) through the challenges brand-new grown-ups face: pay the rent or buy those gorgeous Italian leather sandals?*

I didn't have a plan for the next five years of my life.

Then life exploded on me: my husband died, I eventually got remarried, I started (but didn't finish) college, and I still didn't have a plan for the next five years.

I spent the next few years sort of just existing. Life was normal; solid, stable, mostly boring in a way that wasn't terrible. Then I moved, which completely changed my routine and my day-to-day life. I was happy for awhile, but I still didn't have a five year plan.

I had a crisis of marriage, got divorced, got remarried, joined the LDS church, moved again, lost my job, and now I'm happier than ever but I still don't have a five year plan.

Nobody has asked me where I see myself in five years since I was about 17; I didn't think much about it then (after all - I have my whole life to sort that out) and I haven't much thought about it since. For as long as I can remember I have lived my life trying to navigate the present moment until I can escape to something more desirable... an awful step-father, high school, the work week, a dead husband, a boring life.

I am no longer running away from undesirable circumstances so I suppose I should have a go at that whole five-year plan thing. So, here’s where I’d like to be in five years:

  • Sealed to my husband
  • Published - something, anything
  • Better at scripture study - ideally by then I will have read the entire standard works of scripture at least three times
  • In a new car
  • As debt-free as possible
  • In a new house, maybe even something with land and goats (squee)
  • Skilled enough at sewing that I can make myself decent clothing
  • In something close to my best physical shape

Some of these things will happen sooner than later, or that is my hope. Some may take longer, some might exceed the 5-year mark, and some may fall off my list entirely and be replaced by better goals. I feel like that's okay with me, as long as I'm working toward something valuable. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve wasted the last 18 years of my adulthood, but a small part of me wishes that I’d spent less time escaping my present moments and more time improving myself.

How about you? Do you have a plan for the next five years? Did you make a plan for the last five years? If so, how did you do?



*In case you're wondering I do have a pair of shoes that cost roughly what a single-room apartment rented for in 1996.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Things I'm thankful for...

  • Printed maxi skirts... it should be noted, however, that I am not thankful for the name. It is vaguely reminiscent of a monthly feminine hygiene product.
  • Visiting Teaching; my companion, who has such a sweet soul; the members of the church that I've met through Visiting Teaching duties, who teach me so much even as I am tasked with "teaching" them.
  • The examples I see of parenting; especially as those examples contrast so much with my own mom's parenting style. I hated it so much of the time growing up, but I'm sure it will please her to know that as I've grown up and grown wiser I value her and her example so much.
  • Kate Morton. I know I've mentioned her, and you're probably annoyed hearing about her, but if you haven't you absolutely should go read every book she's ever written. Honestly, her words tap into something in my psyche that lights up my brain and sets my soul on fire. You lot may not feel the same way about her, but she inspires me to write ergo she is brilliant.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Things I'm thankful for

  • My sewing machine, and a place to put it
  • Books that turn my spirit inside out
  • Overcast skies (yes, I said that)
  • The things I learn every day
  • Getting to know others (yes, I said that too)
  • My brain, even when it's sort of in a tailspin

Monday, June 9, 2014

Maybe only a little

I feel melancholy, but not in a bad way.

I feel a bit restless, but I'm not bored.

I am nostalgic about things I've not experienced, and sad about events that didn't happen to me.

I'm feeling a bit weird about a house I've never lived in, and suddenly I want to drive to Idaho and play in a front yard that my bare feet have never touched.

I'd like to sew or clean or experiment with a new recipe or go for a run, but I haven't time for any of that; normally I'd feel frustrated but today I've decide to be okay with it.

Looking over my training schedule, I see that I'm supposed to be on a rest day; but my personal training mantra is "Never Miss a Monday", so now I feel a little confused. I guess I'll have to ponder that one out.

I ate a hard boiled egg for breakfast; it was neither satisfying nor dissatisfying but it sits in my belly and reminds me of something that was supposed to be something else.

Maybe I'll ponder that for awhile as well, and clear my head a little.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

I am...

Grateful: for life's joys as well as its challenges. I sort of relish a challenge, and personal struggle makes me giddy.

Confused: that I am capable of feeling so much happiness and so much pain, all at the same time.

Desperate: to hold onto memories that are starting to fade, fleeting blurs of colour and sound that dance away when I try to hold onto them.

Reading: The Secret Keeper. Kate Morton does something to me - from the first word I read I'm practically in tears. She has the ability to get hold of the deepest parts of my psyche and wring emotion from me.

Looking forward to: change, whatever it means and in whatever shape it takes. I'm near to bursting with the excitement of it, and I don't even know what it is.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Headed home

So, Hawaii is great. The weather is fantastic here, the sun is bright and very serious (I have a wee sunburn to prove it), and the ocean is delightful. It wasn't quite hot enough to spend much time in the water - 70 degree water really does feel cold when it's only 80-ish outside.

I did go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, which is a very pretty place. It took me about an hour to both warm up enough to go full-on into the water and to get over some significant phobias related to the snorkel mask and breathing through my mouth. I didn't really get the hang of snorkeling; I kept trying to breathe through my nose, which caused that flap in my throat to close up - in turn causing a little panic that I had a hard time getting over.

I love swimming though, and when I wasn't swallowing the ocean I rather enjoyed swimming around and seeing all the fish. I don't love coral, and the sea creep-crawlies that live on it are gross and unpleasant. Several times I got trapped in a little coral spot and because I wasn't supposed to stand on it or touch it I felt sort of panicky about being surrounded by it. I was okay as long as I stayed away from it though. And, it turns out that I do enjoy swimming with schools of fish so that's good to know.

We went to Turtle Beach but didn't actually see any turtles. It was raining that day anyway, so even if they'd been there I'm not sure we would have done much apart from observing them (boring).

We also hiked a big crater (Diamond Head). It's only 1.7 miles from base to peak but it felt like a hundred. Somewhat steep and switchback-y, and I learned about several new phobias I wasn't really aware that I had. The first, and most prominent, being that tunnels into a mountain make me run out of breath. It was slightly uphill, dark, and very close; there were so many people around me that I couldn't get enough air and I was (completely unreasonably) convinced the mountain was going to collapse and bury me under piles of rubble. I hated that part.

I also hated the part where there was a giant staircase directly after the tunnel, then another narrow hallway (also carved right into the mountain), and then another giant staircase - this one spiraled and metal and covered with cobwebs and crawly things. I didn't love that either. Despite disliking most parts of the hike, I am so glad I did it. It felt good to have exercised (I decided, once I was done) and Steve really enjoyed it, so that made it worth it. I guess I got some pictures from way up at the top, but the view was boring so I'm not really sure (yes, I said that).

My favourite activities were Pearl Harbour and the Polynesian Cultural Centre. I'll have pictures of the Centre to post soon, but they don't really capture my experience there. It's a giant park with areas featuring the different cultures - Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tonga, etc.. Each area features presentations about the culture and traditions - music, food, dancing, history. There are so many hand-made items available for purchase there too, so it's a great souvenir-buying opportunity.

The Centre is run by the church, and over 75% of the people working there are students at the nearby BYU campus. BYU has a programme that allows students to have a portion (up to 100%) of their student loans forgiven if they use their leadership skills once they return home. So visiting the Centre also meant contributing to the education and opportunities of the college students.

They also offer a guided tour from the Centre over to the La'ie Temple; it's just a short bus ride to the Visitor's Centre, which is so much bigger than the Portland Visitor's Centre! I've always known ours was so small, but it's the only one I've seen so far, so the difference was remarkable. At La'ie, the Christus statue is on a giant marble base and the wall and ceiling behind it are painted like the sky. The Special Witness recordings -this is where the twelve apostles, the prophet of the church, and his counsellors have had their testimony of the gospel recorded for visitors to view- is an actual room with several chairs for sitting and viewing. They have two rooms for the regular videos shown there, with seating for dozens. The Visitor's Centre was really amazing, and the Temple grounds were beautiful. We didn't make time for a session, but I got a few pictures that I'm excited to share.

I have had a relaxing and fun vacation with my sweetie - I joked a little bit that I might never want to leave here, but the truth is that I'm ready to come back and be in my own home and see my animals. I'm also surprised to find that I maybe a little bit kind of miss the overcast rain-ish weather we have in Washington. Whatever.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

World War II Memorial

I had a chance to visit the Pearl Harbour Memorial while in Hawaii. It sort of seems like a must-see while here, and I am very glad we made time for this.


Here is the view from the main entrance area.



This anchor was recovered from the USS Arizona.

There were displays inside the main pavilion with pictures, replicas, and maps. There was too much to photograph and too many people around but here are just a few of the shots I was able to get.

These pictures told brief stories about a few of the men and women stationed at Pearl Harbour, including an African-American man who was only allowed to work in the Mess on account of segregation.

Outside the main pavilion was a concrete wall with some quotes from soldiers engraved in a semi-circle.


We boarded a small boat to go out to the USS Arizona memorial building, which was erected over the spot where the ship went down. Here are a couple ships in the harbour that I liked the look of.

This house is on the other side of the harbour; I don't know if it's owned by the base or if it's a private residence, but I think it would be an amazing place to live.

This wall is engraved with the names of those who were killed in the bomb attacks. The smaller half-walls are pedestals containing the remains of those who survived the initial attack; these soldiers wanted to be interred with their comrades and had their ashes brought back here and laid to rest.

This is part of the original ship which can be seen from the memorial building.

I really enjoyed visiting Pearl Harbour and learning a little more about that part of our history. There were many stories of heroism and heartache and the history feels vibrant in this place.


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