Fort Bliss Turkey Trot Race Recap

Like my races increasingly are these days, I signed up for this one due to peer pressure. (Gotta love some positive peer pressure!) My friends from Wear Blue: Run to Remember planned to run the Fort Bliss Turkey Trot, a 5k, instead of holding our regular meet-up. Stephen and I both signed up and arrived on post bright and early Saturday morning.

turkey trot1

It was colder out than it had been for most of my runs and windy. That coupled with the fact that my running has been inconsistent since Flying Horse had me nervous! It’s interesting how running ebbs and flows. 5ks intimidate me these days! 3.1 miles of running all out is hard! Still, I felt pumped at the starting line and took off strong when the gun went off.

  • Mile 1: 8:14

One of my WB friends had said that she was going to aim for an 8:45 pace. I had no idea if that was realistic for me, but I figured I might as well stick with her as long as I could. That first mile ended up being a lot faster than I expected. Jennifer (the friend I considered my pacer), was pushing the pace, so I pushed it, too. I couldn’t manage to stick with her stride for stride, but I was right behind her. I felt good. I couldn’t have gone any faster, but I was maintaining my speed.

The course was a lollipop, as opposed to an out and back, so I couldn’t see my other friends for most of the race. At one point, I was at a good angle to see Stephen up ahead. He looked like he was doing good! He wasn’t sure how he’d do, so it was great to see him killing it.

turkey trot

  • Mile 2: 8:13

I was holding steady with Jennifer right up to mile 2. There was a water stop at the mile marker, and I debated running right past or stopping. I don’t think I need water in a 5k. On the other hand, I worried that in half a mile, I’d regret skipping it. I took a 5 second walk break to grab a water, chug it, and toss it. In those 5 seconds, Jennifer sped on, definitely out of my range. I had been a few feet behind her, but now the distance was yards.

I’m really motivated by passing people, but the crowd was extremely thinned out. That meant not many people for me to try to pass. I’m not sure I could have overtaken anyone even if I wanted to. I felt like I had really slowed down, but my Garmin said otherwise. I continued my strategy of “run till the wheels fall off.”

  • Mile 3: 7:52

The last mile went by faster than the others. I was suddenly zooming through the finish line! Huzzah! Stephen and Jennifer were there to greet me, and we all congratulated each other on being awesome. (Stephen finished almost exactly a minute ahead of me. Jennifer beat me by 15 seconds, but she looked so much farther away than that!)

turkey trot2

  • 3.17 mile finish time: 25:36
  • Average pace: 8:04 per mile

Not long after, our other Wear Blue friends (including Julie!) came streaming through as well. We all hung around, joking and listening to music, while we waited for the results to be posted. Shock of all shocks, I managed to get 2nd in my age group! It was even sweeter of an achievement because had I still been in the 20-29 age group, I wouldn’t have placed. Thank you 30! It’s a bummer that I didn’t get first (I was about 90 seconds too slow, which is a lot!) because that would have won me a turkey. I didn’t really want a turkey;I just really like winning things. :)

After collecting my medal, Stephen, Julie, and I hit up Taco Cabana. We spent the better part of an hour eating tacos and catching up. It had been too long! And I’ve decreed that Julie can never move. The next race on the docket is the Fort Bliss Holiday 8k. My goal is to beat my 8k time from September. Time to stop being so lazy and start running consistently!

Everybody Loves Voting!

Ah, voting season. Sweet, sweet voting season. Full of obnoxious advertisements, lawn signs, and Facebook rivalries. So maybe the trappings of voting season aren’t as appealing as say, any other season this time of year, but I don’t mind because I love voting! The whole thing makes me feel very American.

In previous years, I’ve been able to vote right at the school that I worked at. Convenient, eh? In 2008, Stephen and I went together to city hall, then spent the evening watching the results stream by on TV. for the 2012 presidential election, we were very easily able to get absentee ballots and mail them from Germany in advance. We missed out on the cool sticker, but it was pretty neat all the same.

Proudly voting absentee in 2012!

Proudly voting absentee in 2012!

Although it’s not a presidential election, I was still eager to participate. I sent away for my registration weeks ago, and when it arrived, I put it in a safe place. Upon pulling it out in preparation to vote I realized that my address was wrong! It’s a very slight difference, like Road instead of Street, but the zip code is also wrong. Eep! I was starting to get anxious about what that meant. Would I not get to vote? My driver’s license has my current, correct address, while my voter registration has a type-o. Do I go to the voting location near my house and just hope for the best

Not wanting to leave it up to chance, I called the county clerk. Turns out it’s no big deal. Phew! But, I have to go to the polling place associated with my voter registration, which is 30 miles away

voting

Sigh.

I enviously eyed the nearby polling station on my way across town. As much as I wanted to blow it off, I couldn’t let the drive deter me. I’m doing it for my suffragette sisters! The drive there actually wasn’t bad, and the wait in line was short. My address mix-up was no big deal. All in all, I was back headed home in less than an hour.

But the return trip was in rush-hour traffic. Funny how it’s called rush hour but everyone is just sitting still, going nowhere. The whole experience made me thankful for country radio and the fact that I don’t have a commute. I guess in the end it didn’t matter because I got to vote. It’s crazy to think that less than 100 years ago, women couldn’t do that. We’ve come a long way, baby!

voted

Amy Reads: October

Only two months left in the year! Yikes! That means only two months left to reach my goal of 60 books. Judging by my current reading pace, I don’t think that will happen. I’m not too upset about it, though. When it comes to a reading goal, it really is about the journey. I’ve read so, so many wonderful books so far this year. If nothing else, I’ll have fun trying to read as many books as possible between now and December 31st! Here are the three that I read during October:

1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio  (Juvenile Fiction)

wonder

Short version: A young boy with a facial deformity faces the challenges of growing up, making friends, and finding himself when he attends public school for the first time as a 5th grader.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. While the book is a little predictable (as is appropriate for juvenile fiction), it’s also really sweet and has so much heart. The author does a good job of illustrating what those tough middle years are like without sugarcoating things but also without getting dark. The book is ultimately about compassion, and I found that really inspiring. If you’ve got a kiddo in the ten-year-old range, buy them this book!

2. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (Fiction)

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Short version: The fast-paced life of a high-powered business woman comes to a screeching halt when she sustains a brain injury that prevents her from using the left side of her body and seeing the left side of things in front of her.

Long version: 4 out of 5 stars. I really, really like this author. She wrote Still Alice, which I also loved. Her writing style is right up my alley (beautiful but not long-winded descriptions, a touch of symbolism, beautiful figurative devices, nice pacing of the plot), and she is smart. (Genova has a PhD in neuroscience from Harvard. Total badass!) While I didn’t like this book as much as Still Alice (it was a touch too neat at the end for me), I’m glad I finally picked it up after lots of recommendations. It’s a quick read and a brilliant story.

3. Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of American Cinema by Anne Helen Petersen (Nonfiction)

scandals

Short version: Petersen peels back the curtain on some of the big screen’s most infamous stars ranging from Mary Pickford to James Dean.

Long version: 5 out of 5 stars. After hearing the author on a SMNTY podcast, I immediately wanted it in my hands! Petersen was so well-spoken and knowledgeable, and her book didn’t disappointed. I thought I’d be getting gossip on long-ago stars. While I did, the book is so much more than that. It’s a look at what the popular gossip says about us as a society (what was covered up, how, and the way people reacted. What was forgivable and what was not. What people held on to and what they let go of.) You also get to see the humanity of people whose images are just caricatures of what they were decades ago. I loved everything about it: the people she wrote about, how she wrote about them, how well-researched the book was, the juicy parts, and the human parts. I drank up every bit, right down to the last punctuation mark at the end of the acknowledgements.

*

Total # of books read so far this year: 49

Total # of pages read so far this year: 13,816

Deployment Homecoming

Happy Halloween! Today was bananas at school. (Friday + a dance + kids in costumes + Halloween = oh my!) Somehow I kept my sanity, and managed to string together a few coherent thoughts about all that I’ve been wanting to share in regards to Stephen’s homecoming. That’s what you’re getting today, a big ol’ deployment dump. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

Before homecoming

For MONTHS Stephen had a certain date that he had been tracking would be the day he’d leave Afghanistan. Somewhere around a month out the date started getting kicked around. Sooner! Later! Way later! The original date! Sooner! Later! Ack! It was giving me heartburn and stress and anxiety (especially since a few days difference meant he’d either be here for my 30th birthday or not). In the end, he left Afghanistan 3 days after the original date; it was accurate after all!

The question mark was a type-o. LOL!

The question mark was a type-o. LOL!

As he stated in his post, the first stop was Romania. Once he got there, I knew the countdown for me was on. All the things that I had been putting off that were time sensitive (getting my hair done, waxing, picking up the dog poop out of the yard, grocery shopping), went into hyper drive. In the midst of running around, I was also worried about how we’d be in touch. I knew that the FRG would e-mail (and call and text) when he was in route, but I was fixated on not knowing exactly how his arrival would coincide with my work schedule. There were a few days of me really stewing. The apex of craziness was when I got a flat tire on the highway two days before he was due home. Sigh. Thankfully, some very kind people helped me, but there were definitely ugly, ugly tears.

Our car affectionately known as the Gold Nugget about to get towed.

Our car affectionately known as the Gold Nugget about to get towed.

Homecoming

Stephen was on track to arrive on a Monday. Very early that morning he left Romania and was en route! Meanwhile, I decided to work a half day. I considered taking the entire day off, but I kept thinking about his return from Afghanistan after his last deployment (I literally walked in circles all morning) and knew the distraction would be good for me. Plus, it was a crazy week at school and I had a ton to do, of course.

Stephen was able to call me from Maine and we spoke briefly. It was still early in the school day here (the start of 2nd period). Hearing him got me excited and also really freaked me out- I was worried that he’d arrive earlier than I expected. I ended up using flight tracker to watch him travel from Maine to Texas. That calmed me down a lot!

When my substitute showed up after 4th period, I bolted. I had to go to Discount Tire to swap cars. (The car with the flat had gotten fixed while I was at work thanks to the help of some friends, and that was the car that I wanted to pick him up in.) From there, I headed back home for a quick lunch and lots of primping.

homecoming sign

I had plenty of time even though Flight Tracker indicated that he was due to land early. I pulled up to the ADAG about an hour early. It wasn’t a huge group since it was only 1 company arriving, but the energy was buzzing. I went to the bathroom 3 times. I was anxious! The FRG leader suddenly ushered all of us outside – the plane was fixing to arrive. We stood in the El Paso sunshine and watched the sky waiting for the plane to appear. Eventually it wooshed into view but then took forever to taxi, and even longer for them to deplane. Eventually a line of green-clad soldiers began to stream by. I saw Stephen immediately, but he didn’t see me. I’m a shorty and a few people were in front of me. Even with my sign and screaming his name, his eyes passed over me without recognition. I scurried back inside the building. The soldiers were routed into a different room, but I knew that once they were all off the plane, it wouldn’t be long until they marched in. I wanted to stake my claim on a good spot, which I managed to do.

Less than an hour later, the music blared and the fog fogged as the guys marched in. Stephen was easy to spot, and I had my eyes on him immediately. Being the good soldier that he is, he kept his eyes straight forward and didn’t see me. Someone spoke briefly and the men were at last released.

I shouted Stephen’s name and held my sign up while charging toward him. He didn’t realize I was there until I was practically on top of him and we had the longest, sweetest hug ever. We snapped a few pictures and then headed outside to get his bags. Unfortunately, it ended up being a two hour wait. There were also some National Guard soldiers from another state on the plane with them, and for some reason, all of their bags got unloaded first. Only to be immediately reloaded. Meanwhile, the sun was setting and we were getting antsy. Eventually his bags materialized. The long day was over!

It's dark and blurry, but I love this shot of Geronimo greeting Stephen after 9 months apart!

It’s dark and blurry, but I love this shot of Geronimo greeting Stephen after 9 months apart!

After homecoming

I’m hesitant to say too much because he hasn’t even been home for two weeks, but it has been better than I had hoped so far. I wouldn’t say we’ve fallen back into our old rhythm. It’s more like, we are rebuilding our family, finding a new routine. I’m sleeping better and eating worse. Haha! I guess that’s too be expected.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how last time felt so unsteady. It was almost like a dream. He came home, we went to Australia, we spent a few weeks together, he went back to Germany, I moved, we got orders to move to Fort Bliss. It was constant motion. Now, I feel like we are side by side, standing still. I get all mushy and doe-eyed when he does things like take out the trash. We tagteam taking care of the dog. He’s been a real sport about doing things I want to do (going to a school basketball game, trying yoga, watching my shows with me), and that means a lot.

Hopefully there is a lot of time ahead of us before we face any more major changes – my job is stable, we are set to stay in EP for a while, there are no field problems or deployments in the foreseeable future. This is it. This is our life now. Which is a good thing because I like it.

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I know that’s a lot, but I can’t wrap-up a post about the end of Stephen’s deployment without saying that my heart is with those whose loved ones are still deployed/preparing to deploy. In the midst of our everyday lives, it’s easy to feel far-removed. I don’t feel that way; I keep y’all in my prayers.

Guest Post: A Soldier’s Perspective on Coming Home

As y’all can imagine, the days leading up to Stephen’s homecoming were frantic for me. I was on edge hoping that the timeline would work out, preparing substitute plans for work, primping, and then there was the fun of getting a flat tire on the highway two days before he came home! Things were not all puppies and kittens for Stephen either. Though we are now blissed out and enjoying the honeymoon phase, it took a lot of miles, time, and patience for him to get from Afghanistan to El Paso. Here is the story of his journey in his own words. Enjoy!

A Soldiers Perspective on Coming Home

…the small hurdles.

 

One might expect that when a soldier is deployed and it’s their turn to get off the merry-go-round their thoughts are filled only with seeing that of their loved ones. I’m here to share a brief experience and what really was going through my mind. I call them the small hurdles, and there are always an abundance when going home at the end of a tour. This is my second tour, first as an NCO, so I suppose I was more privy to the, shall we call it bullshit, of going home-the nitty gritty, read between the lines, contract fine print stuff. Although this deployment was not the most physically challenging, it certainly was the most stressful.

The first and probably most ridiculous, looking back, hurdle was actually leaving country. Last deployment I was told a date around when we would be leaving and plus 3 or so days that actually never changed and I left pretty much without incident. This time, the date would change ranging from a few days to almost a month, ping-ponging and pin-balling all over the place. Not knowing when to believe or not believe what I was actually being told left me with the new outlook: Unless I am physically doing it or I am physically somewhere, I don’t believe what the Army is telling me. This pretty much can be applied to most of my time overseas but I have whole-heartedly adopted this philosophy. Once the final date came and we headed to customs, the next hurdle, the worst part was behind me.

There are multiple micro-hurdles if you will within customs. The first being that at random 40 people are selected for a 100% bag dump. I have some minor OCD and when mailing parcels home, pre-packed just right, only to have the customs woman pull everything out and just cram it back in to fit, my instinct to let out 9 months of rage was peaking. Needless to say I had packed and repacked my bags several times to get everything just right and a bag dump was not what I envisioned that day. Luckily I was passed over, I envision the Passover scene from the Ten Commandments, and I get through the initial bag stages just fine. Second micro hurdle was finding a comfortable spot for many hours while we waited to load on our initial flight. Luckily, and sneakily, a few of us found an upstairs lair unbeknownst to the privates and were able to relax in the cooler less stuffy air.

snakes on a plane

The time had come to get on the flight and anyone who has deployed knows that the flight in/out of country is usually on a c-17. Now, the center aisle of seats on this bird makes coach on a center section of a 777 look like luxury. Most people over 5’5” have a less than uncomfortable ride ahead of them. The salvation to this pit of despair are two rows of seats parallel to the fuselage of the plane on either side. Not only are they spacious but they extend slightly to allow more comfort. After much worry I was able to acquire one of these seats and life was good again; for the moment.

Arriving in Romania, I knew that the entire company would be in one building and the outlook of an 8-10 man room was quite obvious. Now, most of this deployment I have gotten away with having my own room, insert huge grin*, and the prospect of sharing a room with Joe for the next 48-72 hours was very low on my list of wants. Joe is a dirty, no sense of privacy, no sense of courtesy, trash producing smelly monster; just ask any NCO. After receiving the initial “Hi, hello, welcome, do and do not” we were released to find our building and by the time I got inside I realized I was one of the last to get in and the bed situation was looking bleak. Alas, the last room open was full of senior leaders and my own PL and my heart was content. I wouldn’t have to room with Joe after all. Now, I didn’t get a bottom bunk, but at that point I still considered my roommates and room selection an overall win.

Living conditions in Romania.

Living conditions in Romania.

Next was a few short days of waiting, aimlessly wandering the internet and strolling around the post looking for something to keep my mind off of the next step: the flights home. The time came, the masses packed like sardines into the buses, and we headed to the commercial plane that would take us all the way home. The last hurdle would be ensuring that I get an ideal seat on this plane because I would be spending the next, although not continuous, 15 hours aboard. When the military boards a plane it’s typically from a formation and filled in from the back with every seat occupied. I knew that before getting on there would be about 60 empty seats and I certainly didn’t want to be one of the people fighting to get space at the last minute. When my rank was called to move forward, fight or flight kicked in and instead of turning left to head onto the plane I grabbed my accountabilibuddy and swiftly turned right and headed to the back of the formation. Sometimes, being the last one on has its perks. We were able to get a 3 seat to ourselves, in the very front of the plane and I got the aisle seat. This aisle seat happened to also be one that was slightly further out because the two rows in front of me narrowed to 2 seats, enabling me to fully extend my legs; a sigh of relief let out as victory was mine.

On the layover in Ireland.

On the layover in Ireland.

All in all the flights went smoothly and without issue. The hurdles were far behind me and now, just now, I could focus only on my reunion with my wife. We landed at Fort Bliss, deplaned, got my bags, and went home with my better half. Life is good again.

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Flying Horse Race Recap

Yesterday was my 30th birthday! I celebrated by running my 50th race ever: The Flying Horse Half Marathon! This race has a reputation as being flat, fast, fun, and one of the best local half marathons. That’s a lot to live up to. I gotta say, Flying Horse delivers. I’m already considering running it again next year! Before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s talk about yesterday.

I woke up bright and early and took my time getting ready. I’ve been having peanut butter on sandwich thins as my pre-run meal, but on a whim I decided to have to toast some regular bread instead. Changing up your routine is a race day no-no, but my regular fueling strategy hasn’t been hitting homeruns, so I figured that I might as well mix things up. Stephen and I arrived at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino bright and early with plenty of time to get ready for the race. (Stephen wasn’t running it, but he had agreed to drive me and cheer me on at the finish.)

The race started and ended on the horse track. Pretty cool!

The race started and ended on the horse track. Pretty cool!

All the usual pre-race activities went by in a blur and soon I was on the racetrack with Julie, my running buddy and partner in crime, waiting for the starting gun. Our plan was to start out slow and pick up speed mile by mile as long as we felt good. It’s such a sensible running plan, but I really had no clue if we would be able to stick to it or if we’d crash and burn.

  • Mile 1: 10:21
  • Mile 2: 10:09
  • mile 3: 10:08

The start felt very strange because everyone had headphones in, but Julie and I were just talking like normal. It was so quiet! Julie said it was as if the start took place in a library. Spot on observation! I liked running on the track. It’s a really pretty location (if you just ignore the nearby smokestacks, which I did), and it was certainly unique.

After nearly a mile on the track, the course is routed into one of my favorite areas: Braden Aboud Park. This was where my recent 10k was held. There are manicured lawns, tree-lined streets (shade!), and plenty of pretty landscaping. I didn’t take in too much of it in, though, because I was in the zone focusing on pacing and talking to Julie. I was so much in the zone that I didn’t even glance at the nearby spectator holding a sign. Julie told me to look back at the sign, and I gave it a half second squint and kept right on going. It was Stephen!

running sign

He surprised me by showing up on the course! He had made it pretty clear that he planned to sit in his car and relax while I ran. Trickery! I was bummed that I missed him at mile 3, so I kept on high alert the rest of the race hoping to see him pop up again.

  • Mile 4: 10:25
  • Mile 5: 10:19
  • Mile 6: 10:13

Somewhere during mile 6, a fellow racer ran up next to us and asked Julie how far we’d gone. She told him, and he said, “Well that’s almost halfway. I’m doing pretty good for an old man!” We all laughed. He was doing pretty good, and so were we. I think we both felt strong and our pacing was right where we wanted it to be. We had been able to talk comfortably the entire time. That makes me think that had we chosen to go faster, we probably could have. That wasn’t the goal for the day, though. We wanted to have fun, and we were!

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  • Mile 7: 9:58
  • Mile 8: 10:00
  • Mile 9: 9:53

I had really worried that this was where the race would go downhill. I felt a tad undertrained, and usually 8 miles was where the fun stopped on training runs. My joints were a little achy, but I was holding up okay. I had been sipping Nuun and occasionally snacking on dates and sport beans. The beans were another day of change. I never trained with them, but they must’ve been magic beans;I never got hungry or had an upset stomach. Thanks, beans!

This was also the second time (or technically first since I didn’t see him the first time!) that we saw Stephen. He provided a good boost, and I powered through the miles I had feared the most.

  • Mile 10: 9:57
  • Mile 11: 9:52
  • Mile 12: 9:55
  • Mile 13: 9:29

As we neared the final few miles, the shade started to run out. We left the neighborhood and had to run around the Casino before running the final mile on the track. The distance was hitting me harder, I noticed that my skin was crazy salty, and I could not stop thinking about how I wanted a tall glass of ice water. Alas, the only way to get some cold water was to keep on running.

The volunteers were great, and a few of them toward the end really pumped us up. My favorite was a guy who shouted, “Come on, don’t quit on me now!” Right around that same time, Stephen drove by and honked at us. As much as my brain wanted to quit, my legs (and my running partner!) wouldn’t let me.

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We eventually wound our way back onto the track for our final lap. Julie and I were beasts and manage to pass nearly 10 people! Lots of people were walking, but I knew there was no way we would do that so close to the finish. I tried to speed up more, but the dirt track made that difficult. Still, we finished strong!

Both Stephen and Julie’s boyfriend were cheering us on in the homestretch. We conquered the race with smiles on our faces!

  • 12.95 mile finish time: 2:10:14
  • Average pace: 10:03
Running in the home stretch!

Running in the home stretch!

I’m a bit disappointed that the race was short. I know that Garmins aren’t exact, but .15 seems outside the margin of error. Julie’s watch measured the race even shorter than that. Still, I’m taking this race as a huge victory. We had so much fun! I loved every single thing about it. I loved running by the mountains and in that particular neighborhood, I loved being on the track, I loved the weather, I loved our personal cheering squad, I loved running with Julie, and I just felt absolutely fantastic the entire time.

Flying Horse lived up to the hype and running it was the perfect birthday activity!

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.