Sunday, November 08, 2009


So. I have been running for an entire year now. This is truly a bizarre thing for me to say because, well, I really don't like to run.

Here's where I will take a moment and tell you that despite what I have been told by people, I can personally attest to the fact that not *everyone* who runs is "a runner." I think that holds true even if you've been running for quite some time and have made progress in your endurance and speed. To me, you are "a runner" when you SEE yourself as "a runner" and FEEL like you're "a runner."

Have I improved my endurance? Yes. Speed? Yes. Confidence? Yep.
Do I enjoy it any more than I did when I first started? Ummm - not so much, actually.

I still cannot say that I enjoy it. (Really not at all.) I will say that I don't *hate* it, but I enjoy the benefits of running and THAT is why I continue to do it. As for a runner's high or anything like that? Nope. Never. I think that my husband likes me running a lot more than I like me running.

So, anyway - last weekend it was absolutely gorgeous outside and I decided that rather than head to the gym, I'd go for a run. I got all ready to go -- my favorite workout shirt that wicks the sweat away, the undies that don't give me an eternal wedgie while I'm running, my favorite pair of capri exercise pants, my running shoes, my cell phone (in case I get hurt or something), and my iPod. I strapped on my music and headed out the door.

I decided to just "go" and not really plan my route like I normally do. I've gotten to know the basics of how to get around our neighborhood the past few weeks, so I was confident that I had a few different route options available based on how I was feeling. We were taking the kids out to dinner after I got back and I wasn't really all that much in the mood for exercise anyway, so I told Chris when I left that I didn't think I'd go very far. (In my old neighborhood I had an easy little one mile run loop that I did on days like that.)

When I did the couch to 5k program last year, the little guy in my iPod who told me when to run suggested that you *always* do a 5 minute warmup and a 5 minute cooldown. Being the rule follower that I am when it comes to this stuff, I still do it every time. As usual, with about a minute left, I started to dread my walk coming to an end because I knew it meant I had to start running. I get this almost panicky feeling inside, which is well - dumb - because no one is *making* me run. Anyway, I got that wonky feeling and shoved it aside and decided that I would just start and run until I wanted to stop. If it ended up being only five minutes, fine. My goal was twenty minutes, but if I just felt sort of BLAH before then, I gave myself permission to just walk. (Like I said, so NOT "a runner.")

I started off on a part of the sidewalk that was still covered with ice and slush from the previous week's blizzard. I put my foot in a puddle and thought "Greaaaaat. Love the way this is starting out." Ya know, all sorts of positive self talk and things like that! I fiddled around with my iPod until I found some music that made me want to beebop along. I think it may have been "Put a ring on it" or something classy like that.

So, the first part of the route that I followed was down a big hill, which is always nice to just coast along. The second part was relatively flat and up to that point, my biggest issue was dodging more slushy/icy parts of the path. I felt pretty good and wasn't feeling at all like I needed to stop -- I think when I looked it had been about 12 minutes or so. I typically run about 10 minute miles so I knew I'd done at least a mile by then and felt good about that.

And THENNNNNN I got to the bottom of the hill and looked up.


My old neighborhood was really flat and there was just one hill that was challenging and I tended to avoid it like the plague. Since we've moved, I've found that unless I literally run around in a little circle in my immediate neighborhood, I will be running on hills now. The one that I found myself faced with was pretty sizeable. It started gradually but then climbed quite a bit in a relatively short distance. I looked it up on my beloved Map My Run site when I got home (or as I call it, the website for people who don't have a Garmin) and found that I climbed 128 feet on my run, and I guarantee you that at least 100 feet of it was on that hill. That is a LOT for me. (Personally, I think it's a lot for anyone, but especially me.)

So, there I was. Feeling good about my run so far, not feeling like I needed/wanted to stop, was enjoying the weather and running through a new part of our surrounding neighborhood, and WHAMMO. The hill. As I turned the corner and started up the gradual incline, I tried to make a mental game plan. The first thing I did was decide that I was GOING to run up this hill. Not walk, but RUN. Why? Ummm, not sure, but that's what I decided. I also decided that I could not do it alone, so the second thing I did was switch the music on my iPod to what my hubby refers to as my "God Rock." (I believe that I chose "My Deliverer" by Mandisa.) The last thing I did was start reciting Phillipians 4:13 which says "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

So, NOW, there I was. Running up a ginormous hill, God Rock blarin' in my ears, my power verse running through my mind. Still feeling like this just was not gonna happen because even though I was working as hard as I could at that point, I literally felt like I was almost standing still. I just kept telling myself - RUN. Then my power verse. RUN. Then my power verse. I was not at ALL concerned about a time, I just wanted to run up the hill -- the ENTIRE hill. About halfway up, the hill sort of went back to a more gradual incline instead of a steep grade for about 50 yards or so. It was almost like a little valley because it made my heart sink to see that on the other side of it was another steep grade. I thought "No WAY can I do that again."

Instead of celebrating how far I'd already run up the hardest part of the hill or the fact that I'd actually *kept* runnning instead of just deciding to walk -- I let my limited view of the next challenge suck the wind out of my sails. I accepted a defeated mentality before I'd even arrived at the next hard part. And guess what? When I got closer and started up that portion of the hill, I found that it wasn't nearly as steep as I had thought it would be! I also discovered that I was *really* close to the top.

I kept plugging away and kept my feet a runnin' and as I reached the top of the hill, it struck me how often I do the same thing in my life. Instead of taking a moment to gather my strength, draw on previous successes for motivation and confidence, and refocus my mind -- many times when I find that I'm facing another challenge, I mentally throw in the towel before I even begin. The thing is, just like the top part of that hill, I am pretty good at psyching myself out and making issues and problems bigger than they are or need to be. It's part of my recurring issue where I try to rely solely on myself and don't look to God for the strength, peace, comfort and guidance that I know I'll receive when I ask. Why do I do this over and over??

As I was contemplating those thoughts, I turned the corner and was now headed home. My legs felt like jello, my lungs were burning, and I was sweating like crazy. I just wanted to stop. When I ran in my old neighborhood, I had a few "finish lines" for myself. A tree and a stopsign. The end of a block. Things like that. I decided that I needed a new finish line for my run and decided on the end of the block that I had just started on.

At that point, I was really wanting to just walk. Like REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY wanting to walk. I could feel myself starting to play the whole "It's okay to stop here" game with myself because the end of the block (it was a long one) seemed so far away. I decided to put on my favorite motivating song, Unwritten. (If you've never checked out the lyrics, take a second and do it.)

As the first few chords started playing, I looked down and saw a trail of dried blood on the sidewalk. It seemed like someone had a bloody nose or something -- just a trail of drops that I was following. My power verse immediately surged back into my mind. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." As I kept running, I found that I couldn't take my eyes off of the trail of blood. My heart swelled as I realized that it is *through* Christ and not my own efforts that I am capable of anything. (Obviously, I mean things within reason - I'm not going to try and fly or anything!) But really -- in every instance, when I look back on challenges I've faced in my life -- big ones or small ones, the times that I have felt the most safe, secure, at peace, confident, full of strength are the ones where I have focused on the Lord.

*I* am in charge of how I set my mind. *I* am in charge of how I handle challenges and adversity. *I* am in charge of whether I decide to go it alone or follow Him. He loves me so much that he paid the ultimate price for me, yet I routinely think that I am all I need. (My heart knows better, but so many times that's the way I live.) As I finished out the last part of my run, I found that the trail of blood stopped and I was left with a clean path again. He has wiped my slate clean and by seeking Him and His forgiveness, His mercy has washed all of the hurt and doubt and sorrow and pain and guilt away.

I felt such a sense of gratitude and accomplishment when I reached my new finish line. As I walked home, I put that song on repeat and just soaked it in. Every day *is* unwritten and it *is* up to me to invite Christ into my everyday life and not try to do it all alone. I am in charge of making that choice to follow him and not waste the gift of his mercy and grace when it is just waiting for me to take advantage of. That is my prayer, that I can remember that moment of following the blood stained path and use it to guide my way through challenges and adversity instead of trying to muscle my way through on my own.

Life and what not...

So much has happened since I last wrote in my blog that I'm not even sure how to try and fill in what's gone on. I have an actual "thing" to write, so I'll catch you up here and then write that stuff separately. Here is the nutshell version of the craziness that has taken place over the past six months, and I'd like to just preface it with saying this: God is so good.

*I went on a trip by myself to Las Vegas with some friends in July. It was way too much fun and I wish I could do it about once a month. We also took a vacation to California in August. I felt really bad about not bringing Mason, but at that time, he was in the stage where he wasn't yet walking but wanted to be on the ground ALL of the time. We took the kids to Disneyland with my parents (well, actually they took us) and Mason stayed with Chris' parents. I felt better about my decision when we were in the park with two perky, energetic kiddos and we were surrounded by people with crying, miserable babies about his age. It was a fabulous trip and the kids had so much fun. We spent one afternoon at the beach and the rest of the trip was all Disney, all the time. There is just something about watching your children experience a feeling of pure joy and wonder that makes your heart swell. Walking through the gates and seeing Mickey Mouse himself standing there signing autographs was one of those moments. They just about burst from excitement and to actually GET his autograph?? Well, it was an event. They still look at their autograph books all of the time. So much fun!

*We decided to give the whole selling our house thing another go so the week before we went to California, we put it back on the market. (If you don't remember, we had it on the market for ten VERY long months right before Mason was born. Tons of showings, not even ONE offer.) This time, we got off of the plane, I turned my phone on and there was a message from our realtor letting us know that someone had made an offer. This was FIVE DAYS after we'd had it on the market. So bizarre! The entire first day of our vacation was spent going back and forth with our realtor through phone calls and faxing documents. We actually worked out the details of the contract while eating a sandwich on Huntington Beach! It was nice to get that all settled the first day and know that we could just enjoy the rest of our trip without fielding phone calls about showings and contract negotiations. It was a pretty stressful month and a half, but we did manage to find a *wonderful* home that we love in a great neighborhood, and closed on the homes on back to back days. We moved ourselves, so I will just let you imagine the fun that was included in that whole ordeal. It's been six weeks since our move and the only area that still has boxes is my husband's office, which I not so lovingly refer to as "The Pit." We don't have anything on the walls yet and have a lot of painting and decorating to do, but we actually feel pretty settled for having been here such a short time. It's nice to actually live in the same neighborhood that our kids' school is in.

*Mason turned one in July. Yes, that's right. Baby Loo is one and is very determined to keep up with his brother and sister at every turn! He's also walking, running, falling, crashing, and generally getting into trouble. He can now reach the top of the kitchen table and desk in the eating nook which in the last week has resulted in a broken dish, a cup of milk poured on his own head, and several tantrums from his sister over stolen princess figurines. I tell Chris that he is the one who will end up being our tattooed, sky diving, motorcycle riding risk taker. He just gets this look in his eye and has this almost cartoon villainish laugh that makes me ultra nervous. I always thought Miss G would be my biggest challenge, but I think ol' Mason is gonna give her a run for her money in that department! He is starting to try and talk more and more every day. He has a few signs that he uses a lot and has a couple of words he can say: bye bye, mama, dada, and uh-oh are about it at this point. Mostly we hear a whole bunch of very interesting, animated stories that sound like this:
Us: Really? Is that true?
Mason: MAMADAbadamamamadadababaBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! (These types of stories are also usually followed by a very mischevious "hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!")

*Mitchell is in first grade and although it's only the first week of November, is now at his second school. He is doing fabulously and makes us very proud just by being the best Mitchell he can be! We had to move him from the school he started the year in when we moved, and it was a really hard decision for us to do that but has worked out great. He has made some really nice friends at his new school and is happy there. My current worry is that I don't have anyone's contact information. His teacher was so nice and sent a note home with some of the kids before they tracked off for three weeks, but obviously she can't give us their information without their permission so I am just praying that the parents feel motivated to at least email us with their email address. His birthday is in a few weeks and I would feel so badly if we had no way to get in touch with the families of the kids he wants to invite. We signed up for cub scouts but I totally underestimated the time commitment there. Most of the activities are from 6:30 - 8:30 pm and in addition to that making a very late night for Mitchell, many times it would mean I'd either have to get a sitter or take the other two with me, and well -- that's just not gonna happen. We are thinking about starting him in karate instead. I'm really looking forward to some special one on one time these next few weeks with him while Miss G is in preschool and Mason is sleeping.

*Georgia is back in preschool and loving it! The biggest day of the month for her is when it's her turn to be snack helper. I wouldn't be surprised if she prepared a speech. (The name of the snack helper and what they brought is also the first piece of news I receive when I pick her up from school each day. It's quite the snazzy position in her eyes, apparently.) She just started gymnastics and is super psyched to get back into that again. Her teacher assures me that klutzy kids make fabulous gymnasts, which is a relief since she managed to cut her forehead once and her right eye twice in about 6 weeks' time this summer. (Three scars, three stitches and one dermabond application resulted.) She is an expert at being three, especially when it comes to the associated drama and tantrums. Georgia is currently obsessed with rhyming and spends a lot of her day doing just that. "Shoe to who." "Me to he." Alllll day long. The trip to Disneyland took her love of all things princess to a whole new level and the little figurines that we brought back are her most prized possessions. She also has a very distinctive "princess voice" that she uses almost more than her actual voice. Her current favorite game to play with Mommy is "Cinderella." She loves it when I'm the stepsisters/mother and she's Cinderella, so it usually means I get to grab a magazine and a cup of coffee, lay on her bed and tell her to fetch me stuff. The other day I got realllllllllyyyy into my role and tossed the fake peas on the floor because they were cold. I thought she was gonna pee her pants from laughing so hard...she is my biggest fan and is really helping my acting come along! *teehee*

*Chris is still working hard! I can't really get into details, but his job has been VERY stressful lately, and it's just so hard to feel like you can't help at all. He is such a wonderful husband and Daddy...I just wish I could take some of the stress away from him. Anyway - he is still all about soccer and just finished another season. He is like a kid with the whole thing -- it's so good for him!! His drive isn't any longer than it used to be but in order to keep it that way he has to leave about a half an hour earlier than normal, so that took some getting used to on his part. Football and basketball season always make for a happy Chris on the weekends, especially now that we have a new giant HD flatscreen tv. I am actually really surprised he didn't sleep on the couch that first night or two! He looks fabulous and has done a great job of keep his 45-50 pounds off...he had to get some new clothes and fits into some that he hasn't worn for years. (I have tried to tell him that he might just want to replace them with something a little more updated. Not so much.)

*As for me, I am still just plugging along. It's funny, when I wasn't ready to take any more clients on, I got referrals all of the time. Now that I'm ready to work a bit more, it's sort of been a struggle to find new clients. In all honesty though, I haven't really worked too hard at it since I've been trying to get settled in the new house, so I think I'll give that a better effort here after the holidays. I am enjoying our new home and all of the extra space that we have. It's been wonderful for the kids to have their own rooms and to have an actual PLAYROOM for all of their stuff!! Makes me so happy to have two tiny little baskets of toys and books that are out of the way in the living room and everything else in the basement where, even if it's a ginormous mess, I don't have to see it or step over it all of the time. I still am taking myself to the gym on a regular basis and have managed to maintain my weight loss. Right now, I'm 60 pounds lighter than I was when I had Mason. I'm sort of disappointed that I've been plateaued for the last six months, but given what's gone on, I guess I should see it as a victory that I haven't gained anything back. I've recently recharged my efforts and am hoping to start seeing a loss again. I have about 25 more pounds to say goodbye to, and I know that they will be the hardest ones yet. It's such hard work!!

I think you are now officially caught up on the Loo family happenings. It feels good to be back in bloggy land, and I really do think I'll be here more often. I have updated my recipes with two of our faves and will also update my menu plan, as I still plan our meals the same way. (Sad that one of the days still said "Christmas Party" next to it. Yikes.)

I will leave you with a picture of the kiddos from our recent blizzard. (I know Miss G's eyes are closed. Trust me when I say, this was the best of the bunch.) *sigh* It's hard to believe how big they're getting! Gotta love Colorado though -- this was last weekend. This weekend it was 75!

Until next time, love and hugs to all of my bloggy friends. *mwah!*