Dear Tom Hanks,

As a long time fan of basically anything that has Tom Hanks associated with it, I appreciate how he has made the world a far brighter place.

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And I’m not talking about his acting, directing, or producing skills.

Nope.  Not at all.

Those things help.

I was far too young when I first watched Big (though I still absolutely loved it).  And Turner and Hooch will hold a special place in my heart.  Though Cheese the dog is banned from ever watching the movie.  And then as I got older, the movies just kept getting better and better and better.  Where he and Meg Ryan had a continued love affair through Sleepless in Seattle to You’ve Got Mail.  And then let’s just not even go in depth and my love and appreciate for the uber nerd (from one nerd to another) with how focused and meticulous any war movie ends up being.  Band of Brothers was the first movie(ish) thing that made me ugly cry.  And continues to do so to this day.

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So basically, I will just willingly throw all of my money at anything that has Tom Hanks involved.

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But do you know much about the man (the myth, the legend)?

Tom Hanks is notoriously kind and generous.  From a seemingly infinite set of stories of fans that have met him.  Or people who he has worked with.  Kind and generous are always paramount.

He recently read a series of tweets where he commented on how kind and generous other people had been.  Highlighting that there is, in fact, kindness in our cruel world.

Because, in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our schools, we have a problem.  We have a problem of the heart.  Yes, you can blame it on guns, or violence, or the Democrats, or the Republicans.  You can blame it on the fact that I love the color pink, but you don’t.  On the fact that I believe something that you don’t.  And because we have different beliefs, I have to hate you, because you’re different.

What all of that boils down to is one thing.  One thing only.

The heart.

At some point in history, and everyone is probably going to have a different opinion on this.  And because everyone is going to have a different opinion on this, I’m not going to pinpoint one specific thing.  Because that isn’t the point here.  What is the point is that at some point in our history we decided that hate was going to win.

Ok, maybe it was less of a cognitive decision and more of a we knuckle under because the overwhelming amount of hate that was being thrown in our direction could only be combated with even more hatred.

Right?

Wrong.

That isn’t going to solve anything.  That’s going to exponentially make matters much worse.

But somewhere along the line, we decided that if someone was going to be evil and ugly to me, we would respond in kind.

Dear friends, there is a solution to this awful situation that we are ensconced in.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely yes.

Yes!

Be a little bit more like Tom Hanks.

Do you want to stop school shootings?  Do you want to stop domestic violence?  Do you want to stop the social media based civil war that this country is in the middle of?

Fix the heart issue.

If you fix the heart issue, all of the other issues just cease to exist.  Because instead of spewing negativity and hatred towards one another, we send out love and generosity and kindness and open mindedness.

Does this mean that we all need to agree on, well, everything?

Absolutely not.

But guess what?

THAT’S OK!

Because we don’t have to agree on every single thing to be kind to one another.

It’s as simple as that.

Be.  Kind.

Always.

I Did a Thing

Running has been a hugely important part of my adult life.  I found my way back to God because of running.  I found self-confidence because of running.

I have ran 4 marathons, 4 half-marathons, 1 amazing Army Ten Miler, and a few shorter races.

And during my last marathon, I was about 5 miles in, and my thought at the time was that this was stupid.  I had already proven I could run a marathon, multiple times.  So I no longer had anything to prove.  I made the decision to take some time off of running, and a year later, I had just started running a couple of times, and then broke my ankle in 3 places.

My ankle makes me look like I’m turning into Wolverine.  And I’m kind of ok with that aspect of it.  The pain associated with it, not so much.

But there isn’t much I can do about that.

My knees are another matter entirely.  I have known for many years that we are on the “when not if” timeline of my knees needing to be replaced.

For the past several months, I have been walking.  A lot.  It’s all Cheese’s fault.  And I really thought that I had come to the place where I was ok with not running any more.  Just with walking, my knees ache.  And how much more damage do I really want to put my knees through.

Turns out, I failed at following my own rules.

Buy.  Good.  Shoes.

For my birthday, that hasn’t happened.  Yet.  My mom took me shoe and bra shopping.  The bra shopping is a completely different story that I just can’t get into yet.  But shoe shopping is always an awesome time.  You MUST go to a shoe store where they actually know what they’re talking about.  When you enter the store, and you can physically tell that the people working are also runners, it’s a good start.

I’m not the shoe salesman, so I’m not even going to get into the details of the differences in shoes.  All I’m going to tell you is find the shoes that fit you best.  That are most comfortable for you.  Brooks have always worked well for me.  I have ran all of my marathons, except the first, in Brooks.  I LOVE my Brooks.

My mom, on the other hand, hated her Brooks.  It’s all about what works best for you.

Did I mention I love my Brooks???

Anyway, I got new “walking” shoes for my birthday.  And it’s made a HUGE difference.  Embarrassingly so, my now retired Brooks were many years old.  I ran my last marathon 6 and a half years ago.  I was still walking in the shoes that I ran that marathon in.  Not a good idea.

So no wonder everything hurt.

After I started walking in my new shoes, I had a yearning.  A yearning to run.  Because truth be told, I desperately miss running.  Not really the feeling like I’m going to die while I’m running kind of thing.  I miss what running does for me.

I started by running a quarter of a mile.

And it felt awesome!

The next time, I decided to run the last mile home.  Cheese thought it was the best day ever, and couldn’t understand why I was running so slow.

Tip: If your dog is a sprinter, like Cheese, do NOT run at his or her pace.  Run at the pace YOU NEED TO RUN.

Had I ran at Cheese’s pace, I would have passed out after about 10 feet.

I might not have even made it that far.

But I ran a mile.  And beyond that, I ran a mile at an 11:30 pace!  Which isn’t fast.  But then, I have never been a fast runner.  And when I haven’t ran at all in a couple of years, I’m more than please with an 11:30 pace.

So, then I did another thing.  Last night, I ran almost 2.5 miles.  Not all at once.  I walked, than ran a mile-ish, then walked some more, then ran another mile-ish.  All adding up to almost 2.5 miles.  And I ran them at an average of a 10:30 pace!!  Granted, I felt like I was going to die for a little while.  But I did it!!

But beyond actually just being able to run that far, something else far greater happened.  I, my mind, my body, everything, remembered why I love running.  I had a smile on my face!!!  While I was running!!  That hasn’t happened in FAR TOO LONG!!!

I know that should I continue to do this, I need to do some serious strength training.

But I kind of already started looking at the calendar for how far away this one 1/2 marathon is next Spring.  And to just see if it might be a viable option.  Maybe.  Just, maybe.

But for now, this pretty much sums up where I am in life…

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I Have Created a Monster

I have created a monster.  I’m not saying I’m like Dr. Frankenstein, and have scavenged graveyards, piecing together some monster that is going to try to kill me…because, ew.  

No, what I have created is much, much worse than that.  

Are you ready to see this great beast?  

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Yup, the monster I have created is my dog, Cheese.  

Terrifying, itsn’t he?

4 weeks ago, I made a choice to begin this journey of banishing my scale, and focus more on my relationship with God, and spending time with Him.  Letting his view of me affect my own self-worth much more than a stupid number on a scale.

And yes, part of that process was to start spending more time exercising.  And, because my knees and ankle hate me, it seems walking is going to be the exercise of choice.  At least for now.

Also, because Cheese can be an energetic lunatic at times, I decided that it was time for both of us to get into shape.  Physically and spiritually.  Because, Cheese needs Jesus too.  

Cheese is 3.  And I have taken him for walks before.  There was even a point last year when I made a slightly misguided attempt at getting him to run with me.  My knees said “no” even though I really thought it was a fantastic idea. But I will admit that my own failings at regularly exercising kept Cheese from doing the same thing.  So that’s on me.

But I screwed up somewhere.  

Before this year, the longest walk Cheese and I had taken was 3 miles.  Well, our first outing, just over a month ago, we walked 4 miles. He was worn out, but he tackled those 4 miles like a champ.

Ok, this is awesome.  He enjoys going for a walk with me.  I had no idea what I had started.

But knowing that he enjoyed going for walks…between the exercise and the uninterrupted alone time with mommy, he was all for it.

So we kept going…and going…and going…

It has gotten to the point that if I don’t immediately come get him to go for a walk as soon as I get home from school, I’m in trouble.  He starts barking at me to hurry up, and he stares at the house with this judgy little look on his face.

And heaven forbid if my schedule or the weather intercedes and we CAN’T go for a walk.  The world is ending!!!

Well…last week, because I go to a Life Group with a group from my church on Wednesday, there just isn’t enough time to really go for a walk.  Then it rained on Thursday, so again, no walk.

Friday, I get home from school…and the weather is decent.  So I change, and we head out. This is us about what turned out to be half way through our walk.  

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I look excited, right?  

Grand total for Friday, just over 6 miles.

Grand total for the weekend, 15 miles.

15 miles!!!  

Cheese is an excellent personal trainer.  And honestly, he really is making it easy for me to want to get out and walk.  There have been days where I just wasn’t feeling it. But knowing he was looking forward to walking made me get out and do it.

And how do I know that Cheese enjoys it so much?  Well…just look at this face…

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Pure joy.  Right there.  

Absolute.  

Pure.  

Joy.

So there you have it.

Personal Trainer.  Workout Buddy. Beast.  

I have created a monster.  

Stuck Between The Rock and a Grumpy Place

Disclaimer: I am trying desperately not to have a pity party.

Disclaimer, the second:  I am not referring to Dwayne Johnson.  

The logical and pragmatic side of my brain is telling me I am fine.  The human, emotional, side of my brain is grumpy. Why, might you ask?  Well…let me tell you.

I am trying to give up on any preconceived notions I have for my life.  Letting go of the plans that I have made for my life, and focusing, or at least trying to, on God’s plan for my life.  

And I’m grumpy about it, currently.

Because I feel like I’m what one of my students have called me: a loser.  

And maybe not even necessarily a loser, just that I don’t have much of a life.  I come to work, I try to kick booty and be awesome. Then I go home, and I hang out with my dog.  I eat dinner. Watch TV. And go to bed. And if I talk to anyone outside of school, most of the time it’s my parents.  

And I’m not even saying that any of the things that I do are bad.  Because I’m not. I am comfortable enough with myself (now) to spend time alone with myself.  It took some time to get to that place, but I’m there. I can do things by myself, for myself.  

But as I was getting ready this morning, I was thinking about my life, and I have to ask…is this it?  Is this all there is ever going to be?

So, moving back to the logical side of my brain, and knowing God as I do…I KNOW that if this is what God has planned for my life, I KNOW that He is going to give me the strength to get through it, and survive, and hopefully be happy.  I get that.

But right now, I’m not happy about it.  I’m grumpy.

I’m at that place, and let’s be real honest, I have been there for a long time, where all of my friends are married.  And now they have children. And those children are growing up.

And then, off to the sidelines is me.  Cheering them on. And able to cheer them on from a place that is pure and honest with my absolute joy for their lives.  

But at the same time, feeling left out.  

Maybe moving past this feeling is just part of the process that I need to go through.  A process of grief, you might say.

So that’s where I’m at right now.  Stuck between God’s plan for my life.  And being grumpy about it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a brighter outlook.  

I Apologize If This Is TMI

I have this thing.  This…I don’t really want to call it a disease, because that gives such a horrible connotation that it just isn’t fitting.  I recently shared that I have been sick, and in a near zombie-like state for a few months. And I also recently got a diagnosis, and medication that brought me out of the zombie apocalypse.  

I have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

A big shout out and thank you to my parents, who so lovingly passed along basically every negative possible genetic feature in our family to me.  Including a family favorite from my mom…being difficult to diagnose. This resulted in me being sick for months 9 years ago, I mean months (an another zombie apocalypse) upon months, of not being able to figure out what was wrong with me.  My Dr. was at a complete loss, and was about to start the process of referring me to a psychologist because she thought it was a mental problem, when, during a last ditch effort to determine a physical cause, they discovered I had gallstones.  What should have been a simple diagnosis took months to figure out.

Oh wait, I forgot to mention, I did get one positive genetic trait.  From the dad. He didn’t noticeably get gray hair until he was 60.  I have had 11 gray hairs so far. So there, I did get something good from my parents.

Anyway…when I went to the Dr. a few months ago with some abdominal pain, I wasn’t optimistic about finding the cause.  Turns out, I had a cyst on my right ovary. Simple enough, with a simple enough solution. Birth control. Ok, no big deal.

I went back for a follow up 3 months later, and told my Dr. I had only started feeling like anything close to a human being a couple of weeks before.  Honestly, all I was capable of accomplishing was trudging to work, and I could not wait to go home, where I was a vegetable, until I decided it was finally an acceptable time to go to bed.  Even mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, felt overwhelming, and required too much energy.

My Dr. wasn’t happy in hearing that I still wasn’t feeling better, and took a look at the test results, and determined I had PCOS.  And prescribed Metformin, which is normally prescribed for Type 2 Diabetes. Well, of course I have a family history of Diabetes (on both sides of the family) so there is already a good chance I’m going to end up being Diabetic.  So let’s just try to prevent that as long as possible.

It took almost 2 weeks of being on Metformin for me to honestly and truly start feeling like a human being again.  The first couple of days, I couldn’t believe it. I thought maybe it was a fluke, and any day I would end up feeling like a zombie again.  

A little over a month later, and I’m feeling more confident that it wasn’t just a fluke.

And I also feel like this is just one more negative genetic feature my parents (my mom) have passed along to me.  

My mom was never diagnosed with PCOS, and 20 years after a hysterectomy is far too late for a retroactive diagnosis.  But that being said, knowing what we know now, there is a high likelihood that she did have it. One of the things that she and I have been plagued with is horrible hormonal mood swings.  She has even made the comment many times that she’s amazed that she still has a family left because of how bad her hormones were. Honestly, she’s not wrong. It was tough growing up with that.  And it caused a strain on our relationship. And to be honest, a great deal of my lack of self-confidence came as a result of her mood swings.

Now, don’t think I’m throwing my mom under the bus.  This is something that we have dealt with. And we have a wonderful relationship now, and she is one of my best friends.  And maybe we are so close now because we have appropriately dealt with our issues from when I was a kid.

But now I look back on my life, with such a different perspective than before.  I have much more compassion toward my mom now, knowing that what happened wasn’t a result of her being completely unhinged and outrageous.  

For many, many years I honestly wasn’t sure if I even wanted to have children, because I didn’t want to be the same type of mom that I had growing up.  I wanted something better. And I wasn’t sure if I could be such a person.

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I do, in fact, want to be a mom…and I’m hoping that at the ripe old age of 37 (and being ridiculously single) that it isn’t too late for me.  

But also, maybe the fact that I haven’t had children yet is God answering my prayers from when I was younger.  I didn’t, and still don’t, want to be the type of mom I had growing up. And maybe it took this diagnosis for that to truly come to fruition.  

I also look back and wish that this could have been diagnosed at a much younger age, because maybe I wouldn’t have went through some of the things that I have been through in my life.  Because I have felt the hormone swings before, felt completely unhinged and outrageous. When I had brought it up to Dr’s previously, the initial reaction was to put me on Prozac. Which didn’t really make sense to me at the time, but I was desperate enough to try it.  

After a few months of realizing that the side effects of the medicine were horrific, in addition to the fact that it did absolutely NOTHING to solve the problem it was prescribed for, I stopped taking it.

And then I just tried to deal with the hormones.

Honestly, it is no surprise that I have struggled with my weight my entire life.  Because I have moments where I just cannot eat enough food. I am a bottomless pit.  And no amount of water I drink, or trying to talk myself out of eating anything has worked.  So I go through a vicious cycle of eating everything under the sun, and gaining weight, and then feeling guilty for eating everything under the sun and beating myself up for doing that.  Over, and over, and over, and over again.

Looking through the symptoms of PCOS…weight gain, fatigue, acne, pelvic pain, headaches, sleep problems…I can check all of those (and more) off.  Irregular periods, mood swings…check and check!

So where I thought I was just crazy, and needed to spend a little more time with Jesus, now I know that there actually is something wrong with me.  But even better, it can be fixed! At least, I hope it can be fixed.

So here’s the deal…this is still new.  Yes, I’m starting to feel like a normal human being again.  But I have a lot to learn about how to handle myself now.

For example, once I started feeling better, but still dealing with some of the hormone swings, I started eating.  And eating and eating and eating. I gained back nearly all of the weight I had lost being sick. And I beat myself up over it, a lot.  Hence the journey I’m currently in the middle of, banishing my scale.

But also, I have started exercising a lot more.  Basically, Cheese the dog and I are walking our tails off.  The weather is finally starting to swing in our favor, and between the nasty winter weather, and being sick, I have been cooped up for too long, and I hate it.  So, a huge and immediate increase in working out has thrown off my nutrition. I am keeping track of my calories, and I increased (slightly) the amount of calories I have been eating daily.  BUT, I don’t think I have upped that number enough. A couple of times in the past few days, I have felt shaky, and light headed. And I wondered if maybe low blood sugar was the culprit. Or if I simply am just not eating enough food to counterbalance the increase in activity level.  But, I’m bound and determined not to give up. So hopefully we can figure this out. Cheese enjoys the walks, and the time spent with mommy. I enjoy the walks, and being outside. And honestly, just being active feels amazing.

But I am also smart enough to know that I am not all the way there yet, and I may need to change some things up in my daily routine before all of this is said and done.  

So…here’s to more progress, even if they are baby steps.  

8 days down.  34 to go.