On The Cusp of 30

Thank you so much for all your warm wishes on Stephen’s return. It’s been crazy and wonderful and so different (in the best way possible) having him home. I have a lot to tell you about it: getting the blow out two days before his return, the homecoming, reintegration thus far, he even wrote a guest post! But all that will have to wait. I had already written this post before he returned, so this is what you get for now. I’ll be back on Monday with my Flying Horse race recap and lots of deployment goodness to discuss after that. Happy Friday, y’all!

Tomorrow I turn the big 3-0!

30 sounds so grown up, but I definitely don’t feel grown up. (Do I say that every year? Apologies if I said all this last year. I’m getting old and my memory is fading.)

Each year, I like to sit back and see if I’ve gained any insight into the workings of life, any wisdom to share with the masses, any longed-sought answers. I don’t know if I really have (womp womp) but I do have one thing I want to discuss. Like just about everything these days, it starts with a podcast…

I was out on a run enjoying the smooth voices of “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” The podcasters were discussing the Dyatlov Pass incident. (Short version: a group of Russian college students mysteriously died on a wintry hike. I know, super upbeat topic.) Toward the end of the podcast, one of the ladies said something along the lines of, “These were really bright students. It’s so sad.”

Being that I’m snarky even while running, my first thought was, “So it wouldn’t be sad if they were dumb?” That’s totally not at all what she was implying. Still, it gave me pause. (Not actual pause cause I was running, but you know what I mean.) When I die, do I want people to say that I was smart? I happen to greatly pride myself on my intelligence. I’m probably one of the few people who can still recall their exact GPA more than 7 years after graduating college. (threepointnineseventhankyouverymuch.) I certainly work hard at being right in most conversations. I like being right so much that I became a teacher, they gave me a Teacher’s Edition book, and now I know the answers to everything. {Insert Evil Laugh Here}

Seriously though, and my family members can attest to this, I place a high value on right-hood. So is that what I want to be remembered for? Is my intelligence my legacy? Is my braininess my defining characteristic? The one I want people to take away from my life above all else? No.

I didn’t even have to think about it. (HA!) Hands down, I want to be remembered for being kind.

That is a trait worth so much more than intelligence. And if that is what I want my legacy to be, I need to live it. Not tomorrow, or later, but now. Every single day, kindness needs to be (and should be!) at the heart of my actions.

So on the eve of this milestone birthday, I’m not disappointed that I haven’t achieved more or earned more or done more. I’m not embarrassed that I don’t own my home or have kids or wear power suits. Instead, I’m energized to focus on the next 30 years, on filling them with kindness, on living a life that I’m proud of.

Getting older is a privilege. I don’t want to waste it being right; I want to honor it by being kind.

Flying Horse Half Marathon – Training & Goals

What a weekend! I was running around town knocking out errands left and right when one of my tires decided it didn’t want to live anymore. My first blow out, and, naturally, it occurred while I was on the highway and after Discount Tire had closed for the weekend. But I don’t want to talk about that! In fact, I don’t even want to think about it. Instead, let’s talk about something exponentially happier: running!

flying horse

The Flying Horse Half Marathon is less than a week away. How has my training been? Meh.

It definitely hasn’t been bad. I’ve hit all of my long runs with a few tweaks (when races rolled around), and I ran most of my mid-week runs. I took a pass on speedwork since my heart wasn’t in it, and that was definitely the right call. (I couldn’t get motivated to even consider lacing up my shoes for a tempo or interval run.) I guess I say ‘meh’ because it seems like I should be feeling confident right now, and instead I’m feeling doubtful. One week out from the race, I should be trusting my training and easily knocking out moderate distances. I ran all summer long and maintained my endurance. I hit the majority of my training runs. All things that should put a check in the “confidence” category, while I’m really feeling intimidated.

Not to mention, I somehow made it through the entire training cycle without nailing down my fueling. Whoops. I tried a few different options out on runs, but none of them felt just right. Recently I’ve been relying on dates. They are cheap, tasty, easy to carry and eat on the run. They fuel me, however, it never feels like enough, even when coupled with Nuun.

Part of my Wear Blue running group this weekend. I'm not in this picture, but check out that sky!

Part of my Wear Blue running group this weekend. I’m not in this picture, but check out that sky!

I ran 12 miles ten days ago. By mile 8 I was tired, by mile 9 I was hungry, by mile 10 my joints hurt, I had to bargain with myself to take every single step that last mile. . I guess the takeaway is that I stuck it out and made it the entire distance. Although I can’t help focusing on the fact that I petered out way too early. For as much running as I’ve done, I feel undertrained.

Where does this leave me?

I still want to make a solid showing, and I still think it might be possible. The course is touted as being flat and fast. Plus, it goes through the same area as my recent 10k (a PR!), and I can attest to the fact that it’s shady. Running Buddy Julie and I discussed it, and we want to start out conservative and whittle away at the pace from there depending on how we feel. I don’t know that I’ve ever successfully aimed for negative splits and hit them in a race, but there’s no reason that Flying Horse can’t be the first.

Some of it will depending on race day magic – good weather, a good breakfast, a good attitude. Some of it depends on me – showing up fresh, having a good strategy, hydrating the day before. No matter what, I want to enjoy myself. Saturday is a milestone birthday, and I’m not running this race to win it or to prove anything. I’m running it because I love running and I want to spend my b-day having fun. So fun I shall have!

Friday Five

Introductory paragraph? Who needs it!

1. I got a new purse, and I’m obsessed with it:

purse

Ever since I legitimately needed a purse (so not in middle school when I carried around a tiny backpack purse, but when I started driving myself places), I’ve been a big purse lady. (As in, the purse is large not me.) My current purse is purple and leather and I got it in Germany and I love it. It’s like the Barney Bag; it has everything I’ll ever need and a few things I will probably never need. I decided that I wanted a small purse for the occasions when my needs are small. Plus, the gorgeous giant purse gets hella heavy! Enter, my new purse. It’s yellow and tiny and I adore it. (For inquiring minds: I got it at Fossil. Here’s the link, but I don’t see yellow as an option.)

2. I made a grocery list/meal plan for when Stephen comes home. Yes, it’s premature. Yes, we will most likely not make any of the dinners I planned and instead go to every restaurant ever. Still, I’m a control freak and there is so little that I can control when it comes to deployment homecoming, so this makes me feel better.

3. The difference between a good race photo and a not good race photo is mere seconds.

Exhibit A:

version 2

Exhibit B:

version 1

Can you guess which one I untagged on Facebook? Of course, I did just post it here, so there’s that.

4. I haven’t had a Frappuccino in over a week. My wallet is happy, my taste buds are sad. I’m going to Starbucks before work today.

5. My neighbor gave me cinnamon rolls from God. It was the strangest thing. I returned from a run with Geronimo to find two people standing at my front door. It was my neighbor and her son. The neighbor doesn’t speak English, so the son spoke on her behalf. He said, “She wants you to have these.” I, of course, said thank you and took the package of cinnamon rolls lickety split. When I asked why they were brining them, he said, “She says God wants you to have them.” {insert stunned blinky face here} On the one hand, I was touched. This kind gesture out of the blue was so thoughtful. On the other hand, I was a little confused. Do they think I’m some sort of heathen? Are these poisoned cinnamon rolls? On the third hand (yes, I have 3 hands), I really like cinnamon rolls. So of course I ate them. And I’d include a picture, but Geronimo ate the two that I was saving. I guess God wanted G-mo to have cinnamon rolls, too.

TGIF.

The Final Countdown

Nope, my husband isn’t home yet. That’s all anyone wants to talk about, me included. Sadly, the wait continues. There is so much I’ve been wanting to say about this phase of deployment, and so many blog posts that I’ve mentally composed while out running. Alas, the words don’t seem to want to bubble to the surface when I sit down at the computer. Work with me here as I try to string together a few of the one million thoughts I’ve had lately.

This has hands down been the most difficult part of the entire deployment. That’s partially due to the fact that we’ve had (at least on my end) a blessedly easy deployment. Not drama-free or scare-free (and certainly not stress-free!) but easy. For the last six weeks, however, I’ve felt like I was slowly imploding. The closer homecoming gets, the more I turn into a really ugly version of myself.

I know homecomings are exciting. I’m excited. But I also think that homecomings are kind of like weddings. That’s the part that people want to talk about and admittedly the part that I want to think about. It’s your one magical day (or one of a few, as the case may be). I’ve gone glassy-eyed imagining what I’ll say when I see Stephen for the first time, how that first hug will feel, how hot I’ll look :) and how much I’ll cherish the moment (and pictures).

But just as someone can get swept up in wedding planning to the detriment of the marriage, the same is true of homecomings. The homecoming is the part with confetti and balloons and apparently fog. It’s the dreamy part, but it isn’t the important part. And really, everything other than the magical, fog-filled first embrace is kind of scary.  All the stress and lack of control and fear are compounding on me in layers like the Grand Canyon of Neurosis. I don’t want to be Homecoming-zilla, yet here I am picking fights, gnawing on my finger nails, and checking my e-mail incessantly.

*

I was stewing, majorly, over all this stress and the to-dos and the frustration when I decided to take a trip to the ADAG. That’s where Stephen will arrive, where we will reunite. It’s tricky to get to and it had been suggested that everyone take a trial run to get familiar with it. So I did. All the while those to-dos and frustrations zoomed around in my head.

Then I found it.

And I realized what a privilege it is to welcome someone home. I’m not talking about the pride of being married to a soldier, although that is also a wonderful thing. I’m talking about the fact that some families reunite over hospital beds seeing each other through teary, clenched eyes and clenched hearts. Others are never to meet again. I know it’s bleak but it smacked me in the face. The stress and fear and fretting that come with homecoming are a gift, one I’m lucky to have despite how I feel right now.

While that doesn’t actually make me less stressed out or less heinous, it does provide some much-needed perspective. I don’t know how I’ll make it through this final stretch, but I’m trying my best. Each day I’m reminding myself that I’m fortunate, that the worst is behind us, and that however hard and far away it feels, my soldier will be home soon.

Au Revoir, Intersession!

Back to work for me today! I spent the last two weeks off of work, and let me tell you, I am a fan. Nine weeks on, two week off is a good deal. It keeps everyone motivated, and we can all return refreshed. My only concern about the schedule is that my students may have lost some of the knowledge they had gained. I guess we’ll see how today goes. ;)

So what does one stodgy old teacher do with two weeks of vacation?

I watched an embarrassing number of episodes of Gilmore Girls

I worked

I attended a full day workshop and taught two half-days. (The half-days were for kids who wanted extra practice.) I was originally kicking myself for volunteering to work during break, but I ended up loving it. The lesson was fun, the kids were fun, and it was a good deployment distraction for me.

I hung with my mom

I worked out

Am I even doing this right?

Am I even doing this right?

I completed the glow run and PRed in a 10k. I ran other times as well. It’s so much easier to get those runs in when you don’t have to squeeze them in around work. Bonus points to Mother Nature for this runner-friendly weather. Yoga and walking also made an appearance.

Got my nails did

I read

I plowed through Wonder by R.J. Palacio and braved the library to pick up a stack of books when one that I bought at Target just wasn’t doing it for me. Oh, Library, I’ve missed you.

I napped

I prepped (a little) for Stephen’s homecoming

My mom helped me with this category big time when she was visiting. After she left, I made a list of everything that needs to get done before he gets here, and I color-coded it a la Janelle. If nothing else, it feels good to get everything written down on paper. I make no promises about actually getting all that stuff accomplished.

I shopped, a lot

Blurry fitting room selfie of a dress that I did not buy.

Blurry fitting room selfie of a dress that I did not buy.

Went to the movies

I saw Gone Girl. I liked but did not love the book. I found all the characters to be despicable. With no one to root for, I got to the end feeling blah. The movie, however, is excellent. It didn’t bother me that I hated everyone because the movie is so short (compared to the book, that is). Plus, I liked seeing how they approach the story-telling style of the book. I think the movie nailed it. Jot this down as one of the few times that the movie is better.

Not too shabby, eh? Two weeks is just enough time to get done almost everything a girl could want to get done and still have time to take it easy. I’m ready to jump back into the teaching saddle. Hopefully my students are ready, too!

10/10

Photo by Hansel Dobbs

10/10/09 – Photo by Hansel Dobbs

Today is my 5th wedding anniversary! (Happy anniversary, Honey!)

It also marks 13 years that Stephen and I have been together total. Part of me feels like, “Yeah, I’ve known him forever.” And another part of me feels like, “Really?! 13 Years already?! Weren’t we just sitting in Ms. Coe’s physics class awkwardly flirting over lab projects?” The calendar don’t lie – it has been indeed 13 years.

An oldie courtesy of Stephen's step-mom. He and I got together the year his half-sister was born. She's 13 now!

An oldie courtesy of Stephen’s step-mom. He and I got together the year his half-sister (in the center) was born. She’s 13 now!

This is our first anniversary apart. Can you believe it? In 2011 (the year Stephen joined the Army and deployed for the first time), he happened to be home on R&R for our anniversary. In 2012, we spent a low-key day at home in Germany. Last year we celebrated with our best friends at our alma mater. Being apart this year meant that we had to do a little bit of advanced planning to make the anniversary special. Stephen sent me a mystery box way ahead of time. He was supa sneaky and had the company blackout their name on the return address! I sent his present in an envelop right before the mail cutoff.

We opened our gifts over Skype. I got Stephen the promise of a hot air ballooning adventure. It’s something neither of us has ever done before, so I thought it’d be the perfect memory-making gift. I’m eager to hammer out the details once he’s home.

The gift he got me is nothing short of amazing. Have a look:

IMG_6906

It’s a custom print of one of our wedding photos on a plank of wood. I feel like that description doesn’t really do it justice. This is a thing of beauty! The words on the right are the lyrics to “Stars Over Texas” by Tracy Lawrence, our first dance song.  I definitely swooned when I realized what it was. Stephen had to plan this out months in advance, he found a seller on Etsy (!), they corresponded back and forth, and voila. I love it! Now I just need my husband to come home and hang it up. :)

On our wedding day, I promised to laugh with Stephen, be there for him, compromise, support him, see the good in him, and love him. I’ve done my best to keep those promises these five years. And I will continue to do so. In Stephen’s vows, he wrote this beautiful line: “Where we go from here isn’t totally clear, but I wanted you to know that whatever, whenever, and wherever we face challenges, I will be at your side.” He’s also held up his end, and I know that we will continue to face life side by side.

Happy five years, Honey. Here’s to a whole lot more!