Saturday, March 18, 2017

My 1st 5K

For years, I've said I was going to do a 5k, except I could never find anyone to do one along side me, mostly because I am not a runner.  I even "trained" with a little bit of jogging for a few weeks when I was dating a runner.  It's not that I couldn't do it alone, I simply thought 5k's are something you do together.  So, remember that church group I'm "trying" to get involved in yet they aren't being very welcoming?  Well, someone in the group posted about a 5k and so I thought it might be another chance to make some new friends.  I asked my siblings if they wanted to join in, but they declined, however my brother suggested I take my 10-almost-11-year-old niece.  I persuaded her easily because let's be honest, I am her favorite, and she loves spending time with me.

The next day, I looked at the weather (a promising sunny and 45°) and registered the both of us.  The 5k was a predict your finish time and the closet person to that time wins.  So, I randomly guessed, making the numbers easy to remember... 01:02:02 for the niece, and 01:02:03 for me.

The night before race, the promising spring weather started with 2" of snow, followed but some hail, and then turning to rain.   The morning of the race, the weather showed a high of 35° with a possibility of a rain/snow mixture.  Ugh, not exactly the most exciting weather for a first 5k.  

However, we bundled up and kept our spirits high as we waiting for the start of the race.  We made a pact not to run because it was just about having fun, however, we made the exception to run if we got cold, if we had to pee, and when we saw the finish line.

But, once everyone started running, the niece decided she wanted to run to keep up.  However, 30 seconds later, both of us went back to the plan of just walking.  There were 2 other walkers in the crowd and we kept pace with them for the first mile, even though the niece was already complaining about her legs being tired after 10 minutes into the walk.  I had to encourage her to keep moving because if we stopped, we would get even more cold.  She took the bait, but I had to reminder her that we were almost near to the water station.  To her, that was her salvation!  She was so thirsty and tired! She couldn't wait for that water break!

After the water break, we lost sight of the two other walkers because the niece was now dragging her feet.  So, I started making up a story about Sonny the Leprechaun who had to travel up the hills, through the magical forest, beyond the mystic swamps, and forbidden tracks.   Every time there was a challenge, the leprechaun would take a sip of his magic potion to make it through the challenge.  So, I would hand my niece the extra water we took for the rest of the trip for her to sip on so we could make it up the hill, or through the snow slush, or across the train tracks.  It was around this time, I noticed the person in charge of organizing the 5k walking behind us, picking up the orange flags that marked our trail.  We made small talk and he was really excited to see someone so young participating.  

Before we knew it, we were at mile marker 3, and the niece was now on a quest for Sonny the Leprechaun's pot of gold, but as soon as she saw the finish line and several people cheering for us to finish, she couldn't help herself and took off running for the finish line!  I picked up my pace while cheering for her as she crossed the finish line, her final time being 01:05:26  (off by 3:24) and I finished at 01:05:28 (off by 3:25).   She was the only participant to receive green beads for finishing, because the owner was so impressed at how well she did.  We had finished, and she was famished!  We headed across the street to the restaurant that offered us a free drink upon finishing.  We celebrated with some Sprite and then filled our bellies with food.  We headed back to my apartment and found ourselves on the couch with the massage mat on and watching Anne of Green Gables.

Though I rarely saw or spoke to the person who told me about the 5k, I did end up talking to one of the other walkers, who mentioned she started doing 5k's in order to make new friends.  I volunteered and we had great conversation for 20 minutes before becoming facebook friends and parting ways.  I imagine I will be doing more 5k's in my future, and I'm okay with being a walker, or coming in last place... after all, it was kind of our goal to come in last place because it was all for fun and for a good cause!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Adventures with Strangers

I've been a bit hesitant on writing this post because I don't want to sound like a negative, complaining person, but the truth is, people can be rude without even realizing it.  After much thought, I see where I could have put more effort in to changing the outcome of my day instead of tolerating it.

I've recently changed churches.  I went from a group of 30 people I'd known since birth, to a mega church.  I started going here because my ex-manfriend was new to Christianity and needed everything we started attending what I've always called a fluff church.    He really liked it so I learned to like it.  We had talked about getting involved so we could meet some people but then he decided to walk out of the relationship.  So, freshly single, I decided to try to get involved and meet some people.  Every week, they end the service talking about getting involved in a group, all you had to do was send an email in to the staff.  I sent in 3 emails before I got a reply.  I realize they are probably super busy but honestly, don't promote it every Sunday if it takes 6 weeks to get a reply.

In the email, I mentioned I was available any day but Thursday to do groups.  Naturally, I got placed in a group that meets on Thursday nights.

I showed up late, sweaty from my zumba class, and awkwardly said hello to this new group of potential friends.  The following Sunday, they invited me to sit with them in their row, but I'd already decided to sit with my brother and his girlfriend.   After the service, the invited me to go hiking with them.  I was pretty excited because I had already planned on going hiking that day anyway, so why not spend time with my new potential friends?

They wanted to leave at 1 pm, but I had lunch plans with my parents since they were about to leave for Arizona, so they rescheduled it for 2 pm.  I rushed home from lunch, threw on some clothes, not 100% sure how to dress because it was sunny but only 30°.   If I were hiking alone, I would have grabbed my backpack but because I was going with a group, I didn't think I would need my hiking necessities like chalk, a pocket knife, and baby wipes...even though I knew it would be muddy.  Instead, I grab a bottle of water and a hat.

We met at a central location and car pooled 45 minutes to Mohican State Park.  On the drive down, I told the car that I had to be back between 5-6 to do farm chores, but I wasn't very concerned because in my mind, we were driving 45 minutes down, hiking for maybe an hour, and then heading back.  I would easily be home in time to do chores.  I was then told that the driver of this car was going to stay until sunset and I could get a ride back in the other car.  Alright, let's adventure then!  I thought to myself.

When we got to the park, I realized I was completely out of my league.  Though I'm a regular hiker, my pace was nothing close to their pace.  Five minutes into the hike, I noticed the group was a good amount ahead of me, so instead of stopping to capture breath-taking pictures of nature, I was power hiking to catch up.
(Note: The guy in red sometimes slowed down so I could at least see him... the rest of the group is by the pine trees in this picture...)

Not only was everyone power hiking, but this path was not an "easy" path.  It was climbing and muddy.  Somehow, we did a mile in 30 minutes.  And when I say we, I say, they probably did it in 20, I finally caught up with them in 30.  Whenever I would reach the group, they would immediately start continuing on...and soon, I would be left behind again.  Never having a second to catch my breath or enjoy the beauty of the day.  By the third time this had happened, I was starting to get pissed off.  Whenever I ask someone to go hiking with me, I let them set the pace.  I engage in conversation.  I acknowledge their existence and always check and see if they need a break or anything.  It's called being considerate and not knowing a person's health or physical conditions.  This group of strangers left me behind, not even knowing if I was a hiker or not.

Every time I would make it to a beautiful spot, I'd get my phone out to take a picture, just to see the group taking off again.  It was around this time that I realized I would not be making it home in time to do farm chores, so at the next hill, where I had cell phone reception, I contacted my brother and told him my situation.  By the time I finished writing the text, I looked up and saw my group had left me again.

Then, we did another trail.  Within 3 hours, my fitbit was alerting me that I'd met my daily 10K quota, and there seemed to be no end in sight.  My legs were on fire as I climb the next hill.  I literally got to the top, where everyone had been resting and waiting on me, and they started back down.  I was so frustrated at this point, and the other couple at the top of the hill seemed to understand my frustration, so their facial expressions claimed as we made eye contact after the announcement that it was time to head back down.   

The walk down the hill I told myself to let it go, to ignore the fact that these people were rude and inconsiderate, and to simply pretend I was hiking alone...after all, I had hiked alone all day now.  I was with a group that was never within my sight, and instead of enjoying my hike, I was more concerned in keeping up.  So, I slowed my pace and said, screw it.  I didn't care if the group left me behind, in my mind, I was already contacting my brother and asking for a ride home.  I worked on having an attitude change but honestly, I was so incredibly pissed off that despite my mediation breaths and repeating positive mantras, I struggled to let it go.
This was my closest distance at all times... usually it was much further.

I finally made it to the group, only this time, no one even looked at me... I was about 5 steps away from the group when everyone started walking to the cars.  From there, they decided we would go look over the gorge overlook, so we drove over, jumped out of the car, and they power walked to the overlook.  Again, when I got there, they started heading back to the car.  I let out a loud sigh, and headed back.

Then, they decided they wanted to go to Mt. Jeez at Malabar Farms to watch the sunset.  I took a look at the sky and knew we'd already missed the best part but since I'd been ignored all day, I kept this comment to myself.  We made it to Mt. Jeez and walked up another insanely steep hill.  Again, I was the last one to make it to the top, just in time to overhear a comment, "If we hiked a little faster, we could have made it here in time."

From there, they decided they wanted to go to dinner in this point in time, I rolled my eyes.  I had no say in this adventure.  I was simply stuck and tagging along.  The place they wanted to eat was full, so they picked a different location.  When we got there, the host told us it would be a 30 minute wait for a table.  Everyone decided we could wait at the bar.  The girl beside me told me she had to be at work at 9pm and she needed to order food soon so she could make it on time.  I said, "well, I was planning on being home 2 hours ago, and no one told me it was going to be an all day event.  I did have other plans for today."

She looked at me with alert in her eyes.  "Are you serious?  Why didn't you say something?"

I told her I told everyone in the car on the ride over that I needed to be back at a certain time but when I realized that wasn't going to happen, I changed plans.  She apologized on behalf of the group and asked me if I ever intended to hang out with anyone in this group ever again.  I shrugged my shoulders and told her I wasn't sure if I really wanted to.

It was then that I pointed out that everyone in our group was seated at the bar, "so, why don't we all order our food now instead of wait for a table?"  She liked that idea but it was shot down because we should have our table in a few minutes.   By the time we were seated, we ordered food, and scarfed it down.  At 8:45pm, the girl beside me wished me luck on getting home while she headed off to work.  I caught the first ride to our meeting place where our cars were, and while walking out the door, a a girl from the car ride over looked at me and said, "I guess you're not doing farm chores today?  I kept thinking about you and wondering why no one would take you home."  I'm so glad she mentioned this at 9pm.... I mean honestly, do people not understand that animals have a schedule too? That you don't skip out on farm chores like you do laundry or kitchen dishes?  I give her a smug smile and hopped in a car, riding silently all the way home.  I finally made it back to my apartment at 9:45pm.

I'm sure these people are lovely but I've learned to:
1) always drive separately 
2) never assume people remember when you tell them you need to be back by a certain time and constantly nag and remind them 
3) speak up  
4) always get a full description of the event such as arrival and departure time before agreeing to do anything
5) always charge cell phone before hanging out with this group

I don't know if I will continue to participate in any more gatherings this group of people have, but I know one thing for sure, I will never go hiking with this group of people ever again.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Farm Chores Diary

Dear Farm Chores Diary, 

Well, today did not go as planned.  As in everything in life, there was some good, some bad, and some ugly, all mixed into today's assignment of tending to the cows and the chickens.   It was off to a good start.  I put on my boots and made it to the gate quite peacefully.  I entered the chicken house to collect a variety of eggs.  

All was going well until I spotted an egg on the floor of the far corner of the house, in the area of the rafters.  I scooted the chickens out of the way and grabbed the egg.   It was at this point in time when things started to change in the atmosphere of this chicken house.  It was already a bit chaotic but I noticed the rooster was puffing out his chest.  "Well, that can't be good..."  I thought to myself as I was climbing back over the rafters towards the exit with a basket full of eggs.  With a puffed chest, he started flapping his wings, and then words were spoken... "rrrr rrrrr rrr rrrr rrr rrrrrrrrr"  I explained to him that I was doing him a service by feeding the hens and clearing out the place for them to lay more eggs but he disregarded my words and without further warning, he started attacking me!  In a moment of pure self defense, I fought back, kicking him out of my way.  He puffed his chest and started flapping his wings again, "rrr rrrr rrr rrrr rrrrrrrrrrrrrr"  he warned me again and then again, he charged!  I spoke back only this time my words were a little more...french. I continued to practice the best self defense I could with a basket full of eggs in one hand and a rooster pecking full force at my leg.  I made it to the door and escaped to my freedom!  

Well, actually, I got outside and looked some very hungry cows in the eye.  It was then, when I realized, that despite it not actually being their dinner time yet, I should have distracted them with some hay.  After much bribing, the cows took my word for it and let me leave the field.  I made good on my part too, and they were so excited for the early dinner.


I made it back to the house, ready to clean some eggs, when I heard it....a screeching sound like nails on a chalk board.   Naturally, my first thought was my parent's house is haunted and if the rooster couldn't kill me, a ghost would!  With my trusty weapon in hand, (my cell phone) I tip toed around the corner and closer to the sound coming from inside the wood burner.  Then, suddenly it stopped. I called my parents to inform them of the suspicious sound but I had nothing to verify if any animal was actually trapped, just some occasional strange sounds.

Not much longer, my brother came over to inspect the wood burner to see if there were an animal trapped inside or if I'd official lost my mind.  Both are equally possible.  I told him I hadn't heard any sounds in a while so I thought maybe, whatever it was, was no longer stuck.  He shone his flashlight into the firebox, and sitting peacefully inside was a little black bird.  After a few minutes, we came up with a plan that, if it went well, the bird would go straight into the crate and we wouldn't have to capture a bird flying in the house.  Apparently, this bird had plenty of time to sit and think about life while locked in the wood burner, and it concluded that cooperating with us would help him reach his end result faster.  In no time, he hopped into the crate and a few minutes later, we set him free in the great outdoors.

A little bit later, I saw a deer walking across the back field, oblivious to the fact she was being watched. It was quite pretty, since the skies were gray and there was a light mist.  It was simple but I kept watching.  

So, dear farm chores diary, all this to say, that life is much more entertaining with animals.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mediation and Life Lately

Over the last few months I have gotten more serious with my meditation practice.  In fact, I think I finally learned what meditation really was, instead of doing what I had previously been doing for my meditation practice...and basically, I was praying and begging God to make my life what I thought it should be.

Contrary to popular belief, or at least my belief, meditation is not praying.  Meditation is waiting in stillness for God to answer your prayers.

Upon realizing the difference, my prayer life started to shift.  It went from begging God to give me the life I thought I deserved, to thanking Him for the life I have and waiting for guidance on where to go from here.

There are days when I don't feel like I'm being guided at all, it's more like I've been left on a path alone to see if I will be a mere survivor or mighty conqueror.  Lately, I feel like a mere survivor.

In the last month, I went from working 40 hours a week, to working an 8 hours a week, if I'm lucky.  I went from a promising relationship to being walked out on and away from with little explanation.  I went from a safe savings account to counting and calculating every penny.  I went from feeling like I was surrounded by friends, to questioning if I even have friends.

The first few weeks of little work and little income, I saw the guidance.  I was receiving money from unexpected means.  I was effortlessly selling things online, even receiving some requests to be a paid blogger, and didn't struggle to pay each bill.  I thought by now I'd be back to working more but business is still slow and I'm still uncertain if I should wait it out or try to find another job with similar hours and pay.

The more I mediate on these worries and fears, the more I see my life shifting in a different direction.
I see travel.  
I see kindness.  
I see love.
I see happiness.

I don't see a job.  

I see writing.
I see photography.
I see food.
I see life.

Which is why I've taken the opportunity I've been given from not having any work, to spend time on writing and photography.  These have always been my fall backs and I know it is possible to make a living doing these things... I simply am trying to figure out how.   I spend a lot of energy doubting myself and my abilities, but one thing is for sure, everything always guides me back to these things.

Maybe it's time to have an adventure...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This feels like home

In the last year, I have started three other blogs.  After a few weeks, I would get out of habit because I couldn't find stories that would "fit" that blogs category.  I tried to only post about health and fitness on one blog, but how many times can you tell the same story about a workout or the symptoms of having an auto-immune disease that makes losing weight a tiresome task?  I post so much about my health journey on instagram, snapchat, and facebook, that adding a blog about that same topic made me seem...obsessed... with my health journey.  (That is true, I am totally obsessed and committed to living a healthy lifestyle, even made it a part time job...)

I also started a blog with only recipes, which I'd been regularly posting and updating...and then my oven broke and my landlord simply doesn't see this as an issue.  I'm finding it very difficult to cook these days.

I also started a blog for the stories behind the recipe.  If you recall, I love to cook but I'm also a bit of a messy-freestyle cook.  I thought I would easily be able to tell stories from my kitchen mishaps, but the only mishap I've had since starting that blog is the time when my oven stopped working.   I was struggling to find content to write about.

 Over the last year, I've learned that I can't put myself in a box.  I can't stick to one category.  When I write, I prefer to write without limitations and so I've decided to come back to this blog.  After all, once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to write.

These tales by a story girl might talk about my health and fitness journey, or it might talk about my kitchen mishaps, and I might even share a few recipes, but the theme of this blog is simply to share stories that happen in my life, whether it's spurred by a thought or an action.  This blog feels like home and maybe someday I'll open up doors and let guests come in and entertain them with my stories, but for right now, I'm putting in the key and unlocking the door.

Right now, I am out of work and fully depending on my income from my part time coaching gig.  Even though lack of work is a bit stressful on my bank account right now, I've found myself spending time doing things I have neglected over the past year... writing and photography.  I really believe this is my future...whether it be freelance writing and photography, or if it continues as a hobby and I hone my crafts.  Needless to say, I'm home.

The door is open.  Stop in and say hello.