Sunday, December 26, 2010

This is Where I'm Supposed to Be

I've spent a great deal of time thinking about this one. In fact, I started it nearly a month ago and have been letting it marinate and trying to figure out what avenue I wanted to take. This one could probably turn into a multi-faceted post, but I'm going to try to condense it into one. We'll see about that.

Let's start with a little background.

When I came into this life, it was thousands of miles from where I called home as a child. I'll never know the exact details of my birth, or anything about my biological parents or family. However, as an infant, I was adopted into a family that is my own. I was flown over from South Korea and placed into the arms of my loving parents. In the matter of moments, I had wonderful parents and two older brothers and an older sister (later to be increased to 3 younger sisters and 1 younger brother). I'm thankful for them; and at that moment in time, it was right where I was supposed to be.

I grew up with a happy, healthy childhood. There were dorky years, there were awkward years, and there was a time when I thought I knew it all. I got married early, I definitely felt like it was the next step in my life. we moved a thousand miles away from home, bought a house and had a beautiful baby girl. 7 pounds, 11 ounces of instant conditional love. Never in my life did I feel that life could be more perfect. Soon, though, life happened and my marriage began to unravel. I soon found myself 8 months pregnant, separated, and living on my own. Giving birth to my precious little boy was bittersweet. I was saying goodbye to a husband and hello to my new angel. But, laying in that hospital bed with him in my arms, no one around, I was right where I was supposed to be.

In February of 2008, I took grasp of my first ever New Year's Resolution, and made the decision to give back. I began volunteering with the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee and my life would be forever changed. I have been blessed with the absolute honor and privilege to meet so many incredible children and families. I can't mention them all here, but I wish they all knew what a significant impact they've made in my life. One of the greatest impacts was a sweet girl who looks down from above. Telling her goodbye was the hardest thing of my life, but I believe God put me there for a reason. Looking back, I know now that I was right where I was supposed to be.

In November of 2009, on a crazy whim decided to be a participant with Team in Training. Raising vital funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society would open my eyes to the generosity of some in the hope to alleviate some of the suffering of others. I've met some of my best friends and now look forward to those bright and early Saturday morning runs. I've become addicted and always look forward to the next race. A couple weeks ago my plan was put on hold due to a stress fracture. I cried and for a moment had to have my own pity party. About an hour or so after I left the doctor, with the boot on my foot, I had a meeting with my boss. He told me that maybe this was God's way of telling me it was time to slow down and that I just wasn't ready for a full marathon. I didn't like it, but I knew he was right.

This brings me to the present. I didn't have the kids for Christmas this year, and I couldn't make a trip home work. I was lucky enough to have friends to make me part of their families. I have great friends. I will do Christmas with the kids this next weekend and will get to see joy on their faces. It's been 5 years of singlehood (meaning no husband), and 1 year of no boyfriend. It's been a roller coaster of emotion for me, sometimes wondering what it is wrong with me that I'm still single. But it seems like at the moment when I will break down in tears, one of my fantastic girlfriends will be there to pick me up and encourage me, and remind me how great they think I am (what great friends, huh?).

So, here I am 27, divorced, with two kids. Single. Away from family, living on my own. Loving every single moment of life. Spending time raising my sweet babies Kassidy and Kayden, working for a company I love, and volunteering with two amazing non-profits that have both changed my life so differently yet so dramatically, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Even though there are days when I wonder, when I lay my head down at night, I know that at the end of the day, I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon

This week has been somewhat of a blur. It started out with ending an incredibly, wonderfully, blessed month at Churchill Mortgage. I was a busy little bee Monday and Tuesday making sure everything was completed and done so in a timely manner. Somewhere between Sunday and Monday I managed to pick up a cold. I ended up missing a few days of work and wasn't sleeping well.

There was devastating news this week also. On Sunday, a 9 year old little girl lost her battle with cancer, and by Friday morning, a 16 year old boy had also lost his battle, both here in Middle Tennessee. This was precisely why we do what we do, to hope and pray that no other families feel this type of pain and suffering. So, I decided to go ahead and go to Memphis; even if I didn't run, I could be a cheerleader for my friends.

Friday night, my cousin (who was in for the weekend from Nebraska) and I enjoyed dinner at BB King's with Ben and Jim and then headed back to Oakland where we were lucky enough to have a free house to stay at from some very generous people. I was able to go to sleep around 12:30 and the alarm was off at 5:15. I woke up, feeling worn out, but well enough I decided to go ahead and at least do the 6 miles I needed for training and that I'd decide after that if I wanted to continue in the race or drop out. I should have known I wouldn't drop out though, with my stubbornness!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the #1 Children's Cancer Hospital in the U.S. This would be the second year that the course actually went through the campus. The St. Jude Heroes of this race raised nearly $3 million, which is enough to operate this amazing facility for nearly 2 days. I was excited and honored to be running in such a meaningful race. The temperature was perfect for a run, but there was a little breeze. I felt good, though, and soon, we were off.

Around 11,000 were participating in the Half and Full Marathon. Here's some of us waiting to start, about 10 corrals back. The overall feeling for this race was good. I think everyone knows what their $70 registration fee went to. The emcee for the start line was the father of a little girl who had been diagnosed with cancer (now in remission), and who sang the Star Spangled Banner. Nothing sweeter than a cute little voice singing a song of freedom.

For as sick as I had felt all week, I felt amazingly good as the race started. However, I knew I didn't want to push it, so I started slow. I saw a girl trip at the Mile 1 which was a reminder to watch my steps. I'd never been to Memphis so I was glad to see new scenery but also unfamiliar with the roads. We rounded a corner and started to run by the river, which was really pretty. Somewhere along the river, I heard a girl say, "Mile, 2, daddy, you're doing great." The dad then replied saying, "Yeah, we've only got 1.1 more to go!" The daughter then said, "Um, no, dad, that's the 5K. We're doing the half." I'm not sure how he responded but I got a good laugh and continued on. Shortly after a guy ran up beside me and asked me what Mercy Ministries was about, since I was wearing a Run for Mercy shirt. So, we chatted for a half mile or so and then he ran off ahead. Something else that is great about running; learning about other people's causes! 

Along the course were a lot of signs representing children who were currently fighting or who had lost their battle to cancer. These small physical representations were huge boosts in energy to just keep going. Some blisters and sore muscles were nothing on chemo, and eventually I even saw a sign that stated so. I wish I had taken more pictures of the signs, but unfortunately I always seemed to think of that after I passed them. I was able to get a picture of this girl around Mile 3, though. Clearly, little Hanna was a special girl, who was very loved.

Right after mile 4 we approached the St. Jude Campus. You could hear it before you could see it. Loud music and so many supporters cheering you on. Running into the campus was almost like a mini starting line. So many people cheering for you, so many signs, so much noise. It's such a great feeling, but a reminder that so many children and families are affected by the horrible, terrible cancer monster. Amazingly enough, I was able to keep my emotions in check. I had heard that it was emotional, and it was, but it just made me smile. One sign on the route, right as I was about to take a walk break made me laugh and keep going. It said "Don't stop, people are watching!" So on I went. Before I knew it, mile 5, then mile 6, and then mile 7. I figured at that point I may as well stay in it. I ended up passing a lady I had talked to for about 15 minutes at the start and said hi, and then finally caught up with a guy I had been leapfrogging the entire race. The back of his shirt said "DAD RUNNING FOR A CURE." I knew I wanted to talk to him. We jogged for a ways and talked about his little 3 and a half year old daughter, Payton, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May and was fighting for her life. He told me about how one day she was fine, the next day the doctors were telling them their little angel had cancer. Now, they concentrate on making sure she has the best care available so she can live. It broke my heart, but reminded me why I train with Team in Training.

It was relatively quiet until about Mile 10 where I saw a sign. I had seen bright yellow signs for "Team Jake" all throughout the course. I'm not sure who Jake was, but I know Jake must have put up a hell of a fight and that he was incredibly loved. Right around mile 10 I saw another glowing yellow sign that said, "SMILE! Jake Always Did." I had kept my emotions in check this entire race, until reading that sign. Sometimes, the simplest of things will evoke an emotion, and that one sign did. It made me smile and cry all at once. I never  knew Jake, but the beautiful thing is that he made me smile without me having ever met him. What a very special little boy.

Right after that, the course made a turn and we were out on a major road, with a lot of wind. I started to fall apart around mile 11 and could have easily given up. But, thinking back to Jake, and to Alex, another little boy who I know of who had lost his battle, I kept going. 2.1 miles was all I had to go. Cake, right? I had intended on hoping to finish this race. It had been a battle, but I knew when I saw the clock and did the math at mile 11 that I had an opportunity to not only finish, but to get a new personal record. So, off I went. It's amazing what small little boosts along the way will do for you. I encourage any of you who haven't ever been a race spectator or cheerleader to do so. Just offering a few words to a runner can make a world of difference. Around mile 12, I met up with a girl who seemed to be struggling like me but we kept each other accountable. Soon, we could hear the finish. We ran together until the last 100 yards where she told me to go ahead, that she had no sprint in her. I did so, and crossing the finish line was incredible. It was in AutoZone Park, and there were people everywhere cheering others on. What a great feeling to cross the finish line. I was incredibly proud to have a new PR, by 12 minutes and 49 seconds. I couldn't have asked for a better end to the race, other than a cure for cancer.

Ashley, Jim, me, Nick, Ben and Karen at lunch.

Before leaving Memphis, we had a dinner at Rendezvous for some yummy BBQ. A great race, a great weekend, with great friends, for an incredible race.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Give Thanks, with a Grateful Heart

It's that time of year when we are reminded to be thankful. I love how we take a holiday to remember who and what we're thankful for and really embrace it, but we should always be thankful. However, I'm just as guilty as the next person for not taking the time during my every day life to really be grateful. Instead of a New Year's resolution, I think I'll make a Thanksgiving resolution; to always remember to be thankful and appreciative of what I have. For now, here's a list of a few things I am thankful for, in no particular order.

My health. The unfortunate thing is that I even have to be thankful for this. In my perfect fantasy world, there would be no disease, sickness, and especially cancer. When knocked back to reality by hearing someone's story, I find myself more and more grateful for a life without disease. It seems like so many people struggle with health issues, many of them life threatening, or maybe their children or loved one is suffering. I'm not sure if it's pure luck or God's amazing grace but I've never had any of these issues. My kids and I both are very healthy. I see kids all around me literally fighting for their lives and watch their parents hang on to hope.

Our military. We recently celebrated Veteran's Day which is another one of those holidays that I love that we have a designated day, but think it's something we could and should appreciate every day. Men and women risk their lives every single day so we can live our lives. Their spouses and children say goodbye to them and pray that they will return to them safe and sound.

Solid upbringing. I was raised in the middle of nowhere in a fairly large family, where we all worked and had chores. We didn't have a lot of money, but we had parents who loved and respected us enough to discpline us and instill solid values in their children. We didn't get away with anything, we knew how to act right, and we were shown from an early age to work hard for what we wanted.

My ex husband. And his wife. Strange? Probably according to a lot of people. While it hasn't always been roses, I can honestly say that I am blessed that I have them in my life. My ex and his wife loves our children and make plenty of sacrifices for them. We do our best to raise our children while apart. I do know that if it weren't for my ex husband and his wife my life would be much more difficult.

Chocolate. Ask my co-workers. I'm pretty sure they're thankful I have it too!

My right to speak. I may not always say the right thing, or make statements that everyone agrees with it, but that's the beauty of it. In our great country, we are able to exercise our right to speak freely. Citizens of other countries all over the world don't have this simple thing that we often take for granted.

My cell phone. My gateway to the outside world. Good grief, I am ashamedly attached to the device. I feel lost without it, but so thankful that it provides an outlet for me to communicate with those I love most. The advantage is that you can almost always reach me. Almost.

Positive Reinforcement. Some days, you just feel like you can't keep going. It's those positive reinforcements who pick you up when you feel like you are at the end of the road.

My sweet children. Kassidy is 7 and Kayden is 4. I'm not a perfect mom and I make mistakes. I try to teach them values and manners. I make them say "ma'am" and "sir." I'm not afraid to spank but I give them the same respect I expect from them. I'm teaching them not everything is free, that they aren't going to get everything in this world that they want, and sometimes there's going to be disappointment. I do feel, though, like there's a fine line between the sweet innocence of a child and teaching them that sometimes life just isn't fair. But their constant strength and resilience with the ignorance of the bad things in this world make childhood beautiful.

Working for a company I love. I don't wake up every morning before work and think, "Whoo-hoo, I get to go to work today!" but I don't wake up dreading going in. I work for a company who really values their employees. They know that everyone's position is important and they really care about us. I hope I have a long career with Churchill Mortgage. They've been such a blessing in my life; some of the people there I just can't imagine life without.

Good music. Enough said.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saving Lives One Mile at a Time

It's now been a full year since I started half marathon training with Team in Training, and what a year it has been. It feels like the time has slipped through my fingers like sand in a seemingly endless hourglass. Reflecting over the last year is almost like I am stuck behind a pane of glass while watching the activity rush in front of me and not being able to soak it all in like I want. This is precisely why I continue to train and push myself to see what I can do. I want to be able to jump in that activity and pursue it, to be in the middle of the action.

The beautiful thing about Team in Training is that it is about so much more than just me, the participants, or the people who donate. It's about everyone working together as a team for one common goal; to cure blood cancers, and to enhance the quality of life for those affected by them. Having never had a blood cancer or having a direct loved one diagnosed, I know that my empathy is nowhere close to an accurate measure of what those people endure. I read blogs. I hear stories. I see people break down. I cry because their stories break my heart. But i still don't know. I still don't get it. What I can comprehend and grasp is the emotional pain of seeing someone you love suffer and then ultimately lose their battle to cancer. Cancer is an evil, horrible thing.

I've had several people question and even criticize my decision to be with Team in Training for consecutive seasons. It is because of these people that are enduring absolute hell that I do this. I can train for 5 months, raise some money, and walk away. Can you look at child in the eye with leukemia and tell them that they will have treatment for 5 months, take a few pills, and walk away? No, you can't, because the standard treatment for a girl diagnosed with leukemia is 2.5 years, and 3.5 years for boys. Just because my race is over doesn't mean someone's battle is. In fact, every 10 minutes someone dies from a blood cancer. I want to see that number decrease and hopefully one day be completely wiped off. Until then, I will continue to do what I can to raise funds for vital research.

When I started with TNT, I knew a lot of children with leukemia. Now that I've become more involved, it seems like I hear so many stories of people that I know whose lives have been affected by these horrible diseases. Everyone with TNT is here for the same reason; to train for an endurance event and raise funds to help end blood cancer. The Team in Training experience is one of the most memorable experiences I've had in my life, and by far the most memorable as a runner. The feelings are indescribable that you will only realize once you run or walk a race with them and cross the finish line. When people you have never met in your life are cheering so hard for you because you're wearing that purple jersey you know they've been affected.

I'm now signed up to do the adidas Dublin Marathon on October 31, 2011 in Dublin, Ireland. I am excited and privileged to be part of such a great organization that uses endurance sports as a catalyst to raise over $1 billion to date for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While the fundraising is going to be a new challenge, I can't wait to be able to raise the funds to help save lives. With your help, we can save lives, one mile at a time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If I Die Young...

The Band Perry - "If I Die Young"
So, maybe you've seen this video or heard this song. If not, I hope you'll take a listen. I think the title to the song says it all. While being a delightful song to sing along with, it really started turning the wheels in my head. I began to think about what would happen if I would die now (which to me is still young). The thought, although simple reality may really scare some people. To me, it just seems like a part of life.

I grew up in a Christian home, so I believe that God has a plan for everything. I believe that there's a time and season for all things good and bad. I believe that difficult times will often mold a person into something greater that prepares them for situations down the road. I believe that it is completely unfair for bad things to happen to good people, but it's also a fact of life. Lastly, I believe that at 27, I have lived a really full life. By no means does this mean I have accomplished or experienced everything in my life that I'd like to, because I haven't. I have a to do list a mile long and am too busy to slow down to think about dying. But, I'm also at peace with what I've done.

I've lived, laughed, and loved. I have experienced the greatest love possible; the unconditional love when holding your child in your arms. I've been able to travel and see some beautiful sights. I have seen the light in a sick child's eyes when you tell them their "wish" is coming true. I've felt emotion, be it anger, happiness, anguish, sadness, elation, excitement, or nervousness. Every night I have a full stomach and warm bed. I have clothes to wear and shoes to put on my feet. I've seen people achieve things they never thought possible. I have two parents who love me. I have some of the best friends a girl could desire. I have my health. I have two children who think I'm the best mom in the world.

This all sounds merry and rosy. My life hasn't just been one great big happy bubble, it's been laced with difficulty and moments of despair, but whose life hasn't? Some are harder than others. I do feel like a lucky one, but I'm confident that it's been those difficult moments that have made me who I am today. Sounds cliche, but it really is true. I am not even close to the same person I was 5 years ago. I've even changed a lot in the last year, and I imagine that while the world changes around me, I will continue to change, even if it is in small measure. As long as you stay true to yourself and you can look at yourself in the mirror every day and still believe in yourself, change is okay.

Life isn't always going to be easy. I just hope that I can always live a fulfilled life, each and every day. There's a lot of things I want to do, a lot of places I want to see, and a lot of people I hope I can meet, but at the end of the day, I feel like I'm doing my best to do that every day. I honestly try to live with little regret and to always be positive. While I hope I live to be a very old and wrinkly woman, I would hope that if I die young, people would be able to still say, "She lived a great life..." because I feel so blessed. I love the words below...

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may just never be enough; Give the world the best you have anyway."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.

This past weekend I experienced something, well, different. Now that I've had a little bit of time to reflect on it, I thought I'd write a bit about it.

Let me start off by explaining what a Ragnar Relay is. Basically, you get 11 of your friends (or 5 if you are super cool) and start running. You will each run 3 different legs varying in length and difficulty. The catch? It's 200 miles (ish). Sounds a little insane but like an interesting challenge. Healthways approached the Ragnar people about doing a Tennessee relay, and Ragnar Relay Tennessee was born. 195 miles of terrain, backroads, beauty, weather, and asphalt from Chattanooga to Nashville. Some 30 + hours getting to know the other people in your van. And by getting to know them, I mean, realllllly know them.

I had heard about Ragnar and thought it would be neat but I knew I didn't have the resources or the people in order to put my own team together. So I kind of tucked it into the back of my mind to remember next year. Then, about a week before the event, a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in filling a position for her team. Ummm, let me think about that for half a second... YES, PLEASE! Where do I sign? I had to figure out some logistics for work and the kids, but soon I was on my way to being a member of the Holes and Poles team.

Because I am me, and a constant worrier, I immediately became aware of the fact that my pace was much slower than that of my teammates. After several people assured me that the H+P team was not out to win, rather to have fun and finish I felt comfortable that this would be a good fit for me. I became very excited but towards the end of the week the excitement faded and the nerves set in. What if someone in the van had gas? What if I got car sick? What if they all got angry at me for being slower than them? What if what if what if? Am I really going to do this? Are we really going to run 195 freaking miles? Did you see that weather forecast with below freezing temperatures? Have you completely lost all of your senses, AND your marbles? After a couple of freak out sessions (mainly calmed by my friend Melanie), I decided to HTFU and get on with it.

Thursday, 6 p.m. Van 1, consisting of Ben, Bert, Genny, Stacy, Mark and myself took off to head to Chattanooga. We had an 8 a.m. Friday start time. We decided to have the carb loading of champions and had some mediocre pizza and beer at some restaurant in Chattanooga. Except Bert, of course, who has Carraba's for every single meal before a major race. But Bert's special. I spent the night with 2 women that for all intents and purposes I had just met. They were nice but I was still freaking out inside. Sound suspicious?

Friday, 6:30 a.m. Van 1 heads to the start line. It is cold. We gather our snacks, sleeping bags, bags of clothes, Imodium, coffee, and the last bit of sanity we can muster. When we arrive, it's still dark. And still cold. We roam around a bit picking up the necessary items, show them our safety gear, and listen to a short safety briefing. All of us nearly freezing to death decide to head back to the van for a bit of warmth. We hang out there until it's time to almost start.

Friday, 8 a.m. Runner 1, Mark, starts Team Holes + Poles. Van 1 hadn't really grasped the concept of "runner" support and instead headed to a gas station, where we waited around for awhile, got some coffee, watched some other runners go by, and studied our own course legs. We headed to the exchange. When Mark finished, he informed us that we really needed to leapfrog to offer support to the runners. Sorry, Mark. Epic fail. We then got the hang of it and would stop at various points along each runner's course to offer them moral support and water.

Friday, noonish? My team is more than welcome to correct me, because I was so nervous I don't think I knew what way was up. For all those who know me, they know that once I start talking I rarely shutup. On this trip up to this point, I hadn't hardly spoken. I was a nervous wreck to say the least. Still absolutely petrified of what they would say, or worse do (such as leave me in them there hills in Chattanooga) to me and my slow pace. They insisted it was okay and sent me off on my way. Rhonda, in Van #2, kept texting me encouraging things assuring me I would not be heckled. So, off I went. I hadn't trained like I should, but I was going to give it my best shot. Right around a half to three-quarter miles in, I started to feel really sick. I thought I could just push through it, and kept trudging along. Soon, my good 'ol teammates came by to check on me. I waved them on, said I was good. No sooner than they drove around the corner did I lose my nerves. Literally. I felt so much better after that, and looking down at Bert's HTFU bracelet, went along with my merry self and finished out the last couple of miles with a smile. At then end of this leg, I got to see the rest of the team. Van 2, consisting of Johnna, Rhonda, Heather, Hope, Shayne and Craig had arrived to relieve us.

The remainder of the day was spent going to Cracker Barrel, driving to the next exchange and waiting for Van #2 to finish their legs. We started running again sometime Friday evening sometime. My last leg was in the middle of nowhere, and it was pitch black outside. I ran with an iPod most of the leg, and that is my biggest regret of the entire weekend. When I decided to take out my earbuds, I realized how serene and wonderful it was to run on a road I've never been before, in the pitch black, where it was quiet. Don't knock it until you've tried it, either.

Saturday, 1 a.m. By this time, everyone is tired and probably somewhat grumpy, although everyone seemed to still be having a good time. We were able to stop at the Unionville High School to rest for a bit. We had packed sleeping bags in anticipation of having to sleep outside, but much to our delight the school gymnasium was open. It was a hard surface but we didn't care. It was warm, and we were able to stretch out.

We stayed here for 2 to 2.5 hours, when we had to pack up and get going again. This would be our 3rd and final legs of the race. I can't remember a whole lot of what happened, but by this time our van officially stunk like a boy's high school locker room and we were all somewhat deliriously tired (maybe that was just me?) but all still smiling.

Once we got back into civilization i.e., near Franklin, we went to Starbuck's while Stacy was on her last leg. On our way back, Stacy called us to let us know she was waiting for us. So, Bert shoved me out of the van while still driving (just kidding) and off I went on my last run. I know I'm slow, but good grief I'm pretty sure my grandmother could have beat me on this leg. I was dragging. I managed to pass 2 people though, and I'm pretty sure it was one of the highlights of the weekend. It doesn't matter that one was walking due to an injury and the other was twice my age, I still passed them! I was back in my home, Franklin, and it was soooooo good to see it. I passed off to Rhonda at Healthways, and Van #1 was done.

I've waited nearly too long to write about it because I know I've forgotten things, mainly because I feel like I almost was drunk towards the end of it, even though I hadn't had a sip of alcohol. Not getting any sleep, being in a mini van with 5 other people, running, and being in and out of the freezing cold weather is apparently has very similar effects to that of drinking an entire bottle of wine. What I do remember is making new friends, having a ton of fun, realizing I need to watch Airplane while drinking coffee and eating Krystals, becoming more educated about my identity, and that taking part of something like this is just plain awesome.
I can't wait to do it again. Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Fear of Being Alone

October of this year marked 5 years since I had filed for divorce. January will be 5 years I've been separated, and next April 5 years since my divorce has been final. In these 5 years, my life has been drastically changed in every way imaginable.

I make every effort to live now with no regrets; live like there's no tomorrow, and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Since I've done this, I've met incredible, amazing people. I've learned so much about myself. I've been able to travel, and completed things I never thought I could do, especially considerate of 5 years ago when it seemed as though my world was falling apart. I love my life. Sometimes I think I really am so lucky, and wonder if I deserve it. But, sometimes there feels like something is missing. (Note I said sometimes.)

Divorce, even when it's the best thing for you, isn't easy. It's hard. It sucks. It makes you cry. It makes you scream. It makes you regret. It makes you hurt. I don't regret making the decision, however. I think my ex and I are both much better people because of it. I know it's hard to understand for people, especially those who have never been married, and beyond that, those who have never been divorced. Every situation is different, every situation unique. Trust me, though. It was the best decision for both of us.

Today I saw a couple walking into Target, holding hands. They were probably late 20's or early 30's. I have no idea if they were married or dating, but they were looking at each other laughing. Now, I'm always joking that I'll be the crazy cat lady, 80 years old, single, with my 10 cats. I think the people who know me for me know that I really don't want that. On the contrary, I don't think I'm anywhere near ready for marriage. But sometimes, I do wonder, will I be alone forever? I saw that couple today and it made me want what they had. Mainly I want that best friend; someone I can call when I have a crappy day just to talk; someone that will hug me at the end of the crappy day. Someone who wants to share their sorrows and happiness with me, someone who will laugh and cry with me. Someone to call my own. Someone I can enjoy life with.

People constantly tell me that I'm young, that it'll come. While I realize that 27 is still young, I also know that I am not your typical 27 year old. I have 2 young children. That changes the dating field dramatically. Most guys within a 5 mile radius of my age turn the other direction and sprint away when they figure that out. Then people say, well you don't want to be with them anyway. Is that true? It is, because in order for me to have any sort of relationship with someone, they have to be accepting of my kids as well. We are a package deal. You don't get just me, you get Kassidy and Kayden too. I understand that it'll take a special type of person to understand and accept that. Sometimes, though, I get a twinge of fear of always being alone. I certainly hope that I can share my life with someone. Even though I wouldn't want to be with someone who isn't accepting of my situation, it doesn't make it any easier to sometimes wonder.

I haven't had a "boyfriend" in nearly a year now. And it's really been a wonderful year. I've been able to concentrate on the kids and myself. I think I'm a better person now, which makes me a better mother. I've found out so much about me and what I am about. It sounds cheesy and cliche, but I really took the time to find myself. I know before I can love someone else, I have to love me. I'm getting there. I have been in good relationships and bad. I've learned that I deserve someone who is going to be good to me, and I've learned not to put up with any crap. While I still don't know exactly what I want in a man, I think I have a fairly good idea. I know that out there somewhere, when the time is right, I will find someone who will complement me well. Someone who will love me for me, and not ask me to change; someone who I can love for who he is, and not ask him to change. In the meantime, every once in awhile, I still get that small fear; that small fear of always being alone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Having the "Talk"

Tonight, I had one of the most dreaded talks I ever anticipate having with my daughter. No, this wasn't the birds and bees (at 7, I think we'd have issues if that were the case). It was a talk on divorce. Not an easy subject to explain to a 7 year old, even though she is far mature for her age. Let me give you a little background on how this all came about.

The kids' father and I have always tried to "co-parent" as best as we could. It's slightly difficult having two separate households, which means two separate everythings. Beds, pillows, toys, rules, food, clothes, routines, and toilet paper (which I am reminded of). However, when one kid has gotten in a fair amount of trouble, we communicate with the other so the punishment can be enforced on both ends. Tonight, I got one of those phone calls. Kassidy, our angel child, had been in trouble at daddy's house. She has been going through some clothing issues and apparently had a total fit, which details I will not reveal, as an attempt to keep her perfect angel persona intact. Regardless, she had a punishment, which I will now have to enforce at my home as well. Their dad had mentioned I may want to chat with her about it. Kassidy and I have always had a special bond which I suppose could come from both being female, her being my first born, or the fact that both of us are princesses. I'm not sure, but pretty sure all 3 combined is the adhesive that coheres our bond.

I took Kassidy into my bedroom and we both laid on our bed and started talking. Tears started welling up in her eyes immediately and now writing this, I am having the same effects. She managed to hold back, but for me, when finally separated from having to be the well put together one, I can't say the same. She told me about getting in trouble and decided it was time to call dad and stepmom and apologize. She did so, and felt better. Afterwards, we continued chatting and somewhere in the conversation, we managed to visit how their dad and I are divorced and she and her brother are bounced around between two houses. She said to me words which will be etched in stone in my heart forever, "Mama, it's hard. Having two houses and all. All the travelling and back and forth." Talk about a dagger to the heart. My response was, "I know, sissy. But your daddy and I did all we could, and sometimes things just don't work." She looked up at me with those sweet brown eyes and said, "I know mama, I know."

After I tucked them both in, I sat down and cried. Is it fair that my children have to go through having two everythings? No. Did I do everything I could? I'd like to think so. Do I really know that it's hard? No. I didn't have divorced parents. Do we try our best to do what's best? Yes. Is it the ideal situation? No. Is it reality? Sadly, yes.

Now, I know that there are millions of children and parents who go through this situation every day. In no way am I saying that our situation is special (well, my kids are) because it's not. But I think any good parent has a certain amount of guilt that they carry with them when they're divorced. Trying to find the right words to say that are both truthful and soothing to a 7 year old is not easy. And when they tell you something is hard that YOU have done to them, you cannot help but feel guilty. Even though they're kids and they're resilient, it's not ideal. Both of my children are keenly aware of their surroundings and the fact that not all children have two homes. I've always tried to sell it that they were special because not every kids had two houses. My kids have outgrown that now, and it's time to face the truth. You don't have two houses because you're special, you have two houses because your parents couldn't make it work. While their dad and I don't blame one another, speak highly of one another to the kids, and respect each other, we still failed our children in a round-about way. Now, all I can do is continue to work with their dad to raise the best children we can, while apart.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Tribute to My Friends, Part 1

I sat on my couch tonight thinking about how our lives are both negatively and positively affected by those people in our lives. Whether we like to think it or not, we let people influence our decisions, feelings, emotions, and how we live. In contrast, it is people who pick us up when we feel like we can't go on, who listen to us bitch and complain, who let us cry on their shoulders, who are our constant cheerleaders and supporters, and most importantly, who love us. Sometimes, okay all the time, life happens, and I am guiltier than most of not taking the time to stop and smell the roses and appreciate those around me. So here's a tribute to some of my friends. Because I'm lucky to have lots of friends, this is part 1, so if you're not in this one, chances are you'll be in another later down the road....

Kassidy & Kayden: My two very best friends. End of story. These two are with me through it all. Nothing will ever replace them and the joy that they bring me. You other parents understand. I admit that I never did until I became a parent, the absolute unconditional love that you have for your children. They are my sunshine on a cloudy day.

Mom & Dad: Even though it's not always easy, and we have our differences, the opposite plays here for me. As a daughter, I hope you two have the same unconditional love for me that I have for my kids. No matter what, I'm always going to be your baby girl. Not knowing anything about me other than I needed a home and more importantly a family, you got your clearance baby "air mail". Words will never be able to express my gratitude for making that a reality for me.

Andra: Seems like forever ago when we were inseparable in high school, yet when we get the chance to talk, it's as if nothing has changed. I love the fact that we can pick up the phone having not spoken for months and just pick up as if we are sitting on that bus to Range Judging, or FFA Convention, or a game, or band clinic!!!!!!

Beth: A fellow single mother, I know you understand the struggles that go with it, but you also understand the great rewards that can be reaped. Thank you for always being straight forward and honest. I hope someday I can be more like that!

Jamie: Sweet, sweet, sweet Jamie. The girl who wouldn't hurt a flea, but wouldn't be afraid to punch someone in the face if needed. You've quickly become a go-to girl for me to vent to and celebrate with. I love our new friendship and can't wait to see where it takes us in the future. I'm thinking Vegas....

Janet: Oh how I miss your sweet voice. I know you're in a better place but I wish I could see the joy in your beautiful face. I am still in awe of your awesome strength and love for others you possessed while you were here. You may not be here physically, but you will always be my friend.

Jessica: Woman! We've definitely had some fun times, that have involved a lot of well, fun. The one person I can always depend on to call me a hooch or hussy. Those words were so foreign and forbidden before you entered into my life. Now, they're every day lingo that we throw around at each other so freely.  Thanks for being my friend and letting me be me, and bringing out a part of me I never knew existed. Now, go make me some cookies or brownies, please.

Jim: Another new friend, but one that I know is always going to call it as you see it, and not sugar coat a thing. I think it's been good for me to really have someone tell me what you think, even if it's not what I may want to hear! I have a mountain of respect for your determination and for overcoming obstacles that most of us would not even attempt. Thank you for being you, and for being real.

Kathy: Mama K. What would I do without you? You've laughed with me, cried with me, and dubbed me your DLAG. Thank you for welcoming me into your life with open arms and understanding me. It means the world to me that I can speak freely around you and you will still love me no matter what, even if you don't agree with it. An amazing woman of God, you've been through the unspeakable. When I look at you, I see strength, faith, compassion, and love. I only hope I can be like you.

Melanie: Someone recently asked me how we knew each other, and funny enough, I was friends with your mom first. We've grown close over the past two years, and I'm so thankful for that. You're my voice of reason, my analytical partner in crime, and someone who can appreciate that a little girl time can be such good soup for the soul. The best part is knowing that I can spill my deepest darkest secrets to you and I know that 1) you won't judge, 2) you'll still be there for me, and 3) I won't read about them in the papers the next day. Thank you for that.

Paige: Sweet Paige. I owe so much to you. You have been so pivotal in me turning a new leaf and experiencing amazing things. Thank you for taking the chance on me one day, because it was truly life-changing. If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have this new confidence, optimistic outlook, or just another sweet, loving girl friend that I can count on. Thanks for being you, and I still have a gift card for you.... : )

Rhonda: One of my newest friends, but another true gem. I'm excited to "work" with you this season and I appreciate your continued encouragement and friendship! I think we've just broken the ice on a very fun friendship. Besides, with lots of time together in the coming months, you're stuck with me!

Ryan: I wish I had your energy. Always on the constant go, you reek of enthusiasm and optimism. Your schedule makes me tired but you inspire me. Thank you for not being afraid to tell me what I need to hear, and for telling me I'm better than you know what. Sometimes you give me that last little boost that I need to get me over the edge. Someday, when you're famous, I'll be able to say, hey, I know that guy. And he's just as awesome as you think he is.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Save the Ta-Ta's

Today, I participated in the Susan G. Komen 5K in Brentwood. Did I expect a lot of people? Yes. Did I really have a true idea of how many people there would be there? No. It was overwhelming, the amount of people that flooded the Maryland Farms area. I think it's great, but I also think it's horrendous. It's great that there are so many people who support the cause; it's horrendous that so many people are affected by this too-common cancer.

It takes two hands for me to count the number of special women in my life who have been diagnosed with this terrible disease. Unfortunately, I can't say that all of them have beat it. But today I saw so many survivors, all beautiful in their own ways, but all sharing a common bond, breast cancer. Wouldn't it be great if their common bond was they all loved the same flavor of ice cream? Sure. But the reality is that breast cancer, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women. Another frightening statistic is that every 69 seconds, someone dies from breast cancer. 69 seconds, people. That means by the time you finish reading this, someone will have died. A mother, daughter, aunt, sister, granddaughter, grandmother, friend, and loved one.

I must admit I loved seeing all of the creative marketing avenues different people took. Hunters for Hooters in their camo shirts; the young men in their pink tutus; the save the ta-ta's shirts, the "boob" hats, the "breast" is yet to come shirts were all great, but for me, the best was the shirts that stated "Save 2nd base". I laughed at it, loved seeing the pink hair, pink leggings, pink shirts, the overall beautiful sea of pink. Having said all of that, it still crushes me to see it. I hate cancer.

So, women (and men) make sure you do those self-examinations and are aware of changes in your body. Early detection can often be an integral part of the success of a treatment plan. Mortality rates have increased over the years, but people still die of this disease. Until then, let's do our best to save the ta-ta's.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Run

When I decided to start training for my first half marathon about 10 months ago, I thought, well, I'll do this one and say I did it, and then I'll stop. Never in my life did I dream that I would plan on doing more, and plan on doing a full marathon. Now, as I look back, I realize it was such a pivotal point in my life. Yesterday, I completed my third half marathon. In 6 days, I will complete my 4th. Seeing that finish line, and then crossing it is an indescribable feeling that cannot even begin to be put into words. Why do people do it? Well, I can't speak for the thousands of other runners in this world, but these are my top 10. Since I'm such a newbie, it'll probably change in the coming months and I certainly hope years. But for now, here they are.

Reason #10. To help keep in shape. This was never my intention to get into running, but I've realized it's made me a healthier person, both emotionally and physically. When I lace up my shoes, I can feel my mind and body begin to relax. When I start running, I'm not at work, I'm not taking care of my kids, I'm not worrying. I'm just out running.

Reason #9. It boosts my self-confidence. I promise you, who would have "thunk" it? Erin? Even my dad laughed when I first told him I was going to train for my first half marathon. Since I've done it though, it has helped me realize that I can cross hurdles I never thought imaginable.

Reason #8. Pretty trails. This is probably the sentimental part of me emerging, but there's a particular trail we run, and to see the dew resting on the grass, the horses grazing in the field, and the sun boucing off the fields of corn is absolutely breathtaking. It forces you to stop for a moment and appreciate the beautiful things God has created.

Reason #7. All those free shirts. (and the goodie bags) Silly? Absolutely. I'd be lying if I said I didn't look forward to seeing the new shirt from each race I do. I can see how people who have been doing this for years have more shirts than they know what to do with, but with me being a beginner, I still get a little giddy. Plus, opening up a goodie bag is like Christmas! (And yes, I realize that I pay for it via my registration fee, but still...)

Reason #6. The social aspect. I've found that the running community is like it's own little world. Runners greet one another on the trail and if someone is hurt, total strangers stop to offer help. Sure, it's common courtesy, but it's just different. You meet new people, great people, and build lasting relationships. I have met some of my very best friends because I decided to join up in this community. They will be lifelong, I am sure of it.

Reason #5. It forces me to live better. I now eat a little healthier, go to bed a little earlier (sometimes) and in general take better care of myself, which means I feel healthier. While I still have a long way to go, I have made huge strides. When you are meeting your friends at 5:45 a.m., the thought of staying out until 2 or 3 a.m. doing who knows what just doesn't sound appealing anymore.

Reason #4. Races have a beneficiary. We all have charities we are passionate about. Well, at least I have mine. I've learned that the larger races all usually have a charity (sometimes more than one) that the proceeds go towards. That makes spending $60-$130 on a registration fee seem a little easier, knowing that a reputable charity is receiving part of that. Also, a lot of people are running for a purpose. I still get a chill every time I see someone with a shirt that says they are running in memory of someone. EVERY TIME. No matter how hot it is or if I am sweating.

Reason #3. The medal. Do I really need to say anything else? It's just cool.

Reason #2. Team in Training. I can't say enough about this fabulous organization. They're the ones who got me through my first race, and I'll continue with them as much as I can. Raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been rewarding and inspiring. People's generosity will never cease to amaze me. The number of people who have been affected by these blood cancers are much too many. Through TNT I have met great friends, I have learned so much about myself, and I have accomplished endeavors I never thought possible. Now, seeing other people experience it is even sweeter.

Reason #1. Because I can. So many people cannot run or walk regularly because of health reasons. I can. It reminds me of a quote that I heard when I first started this, "I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they'd do to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me." This quote sums it up; the use of my legs and the ability to get out there and run is something I take for granted. But perspective is such an important aspect to consider; empathize, and remember, not everyone has that opportunity.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Getting My Groove On!

Last November, a sweet girl that I had known mostly as an acquaintance approached me at a 5K race that I was volunteering with and asked me if I would be interested in joining her team to run a half marathon. I looked at her and smiled and nodded and asked the expected questions, but in my mind I was thinking, "Who does this girl think she's talking to? Doesn't she know I don't exercise? She must be crazy!" By the end of the conversation though, I thought, well, at least research it and give it a shot.

So, me being the excessive analyzer that I am, googled Team in Training. I looked at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's website. I read about what training for a half marathon might do to my poor fragile body. I was scared. But something deep down inside me (I have yet to figure out what it was) told me to buck up and sign the little piece of paper. It was an urge similar to when you want to open a door to see what's behind it, wondering if it could be something great or wondering if it will be something that will destroy you.

Lucky for me, it was something AMAZING. I completed my first half marathon with Team in Training, minor injury and all. The journey there was long, and sometimes I swear it seemed like the neverending song. But it was really like they said it would be. Worth it. That simple. People were generous to donate to this cause and I found inner strength I never knew I had. I was slow, though, and always was a little frustrated. I wanted to be faster, always trying to keep up. I constantly felt like the little engine that could. But, my goal was to finish and I did just that.

After the first half, I took two weeks off. Then my friend got very sick and passed away and I reverted into my comfort zone like a turtle in his shell. I quit running. Looking back, that was a stupid decision. When I decided to come back for the fall season with Team in Training as a team captain, I did it with the intention of other people experiencing the sheer amazingness of it. I wanted to see people feel the way I felt. The emotion, the accomplishment, the accountability, the elation. But with all that time off, I felt like I was starting from scratch.

I struggled in the beginning. I began to wonder if I had wrongfully taken a leadership position being that some on my team were faster than me. It got frustrating. I was constantly trying to keep up with people and ignoring my own body telling me enough. Last Sunday, I did the same when a few of my close friends ran with me. They're faster, and after the first mile or so I sent them on. I had to walk a bit to kind of catch my breath, but then the last 3.25 miles I ran. It was a slow run, but I ran every single step of it. I had never done that before. I realized I can go my own pace, and even though it's slow, that's okay. Tonight, I did another 3. Ran it all again. Next time, I'll go for 4. And I'll shoot to go a little faster. Is it a small accomplishment in the grand scheme of running? Yes. Is it a huge accomplishment for me? HECK YES!

The best thing about me finding this little "groove" is my fellow running friends celebrating with me. Even better is their constant encouragement every step of the way. Without them, I know I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have even this small accomplishment to celebrate, and I wouldn't have someone there pushing me to do a little better next time. My running friends understand it. They understand the soreness, the blisters, the chafing, and the frustration. At the same time, they understand how just a pat on the back or a high five can make a world of difference. I'm so very thankful for them. They have become fast friends who I can trust and depend on. I don't know what I would do without them. Running has become a social avenue for me and has opened up incredible opportunities which I intend on taking every advantage of.

So to that acquaintance who is now such an incredible friend, thank you. Because of you, I've found my groove, and I love you for that.

Monday, June 28, 2010

I Miss You...

In April of 2010, my friend Janet, at the age of 14, lost her battle to cancer. I haven't been ready until now to do this, but this is closure for me, but more importantly, for her memory. This is what she needs to know, so here's a letter to Janet.

Dear Janet,

It's been almost 3 months since you left here and went somewhere better. I still think about you constantly, and selfishly wish that you were still here. I miss seeing your name pop up on my phone and reading your texts; miss hearing your sweet voice.

I remember the first day I met you. You couldn't get the lamp to turn on, so we sat in the near dark filling out your paperwork. I knew from the moment I met you that you were special. You knew all your families birthdays by heart, and your wish was something that involved the whole family. When we ended up having to change for health reasons, you told me you still wanted to get things for your family. What you wanted for yourself was so little. I was blown away by how, at age 14, you were so giving. At an age when most girls are selfish, you were the exact opposite.

I remember telling you that you couldn't go on your shopping spree when you wanted because of health reasons. The chemo was making you so sick. You were so disappointed but still smiled. Do you remember getting pedicures together? You picked out the brightest purple you could find. I was horrified but I told you that you could pick! So I picked the brightest pink I could find for you. You laughed at how it tickled, we ate chocolate together and talked about life. You told me about your diagnosis. About how the chemo made you sick. About how you hated how it hurt your family. You didn't wear a hat that night and I was so proud of you, but I would get so angry when people would stare at you. But not you... you just acted as though they didn't exist. Later that night we went to dinner and you tried to teach me spanish, and I failed miserably. We laughed so hard and for awhile it was like there was no cancer.

But in reality, there was and soon you got really sick. Your last few weeks here were so painful. It broke my heart to see you in so much pain yet you always had a smile for me every time I saw you, along with a sweet compliment about my hair, or how pretty I looked. I'm not even that sweet when I do feel good.

Do you remember that night at your house, when you laid in my lap? I so wanted to just wrap you up and take you away from it all, where there wasn't any more pain. When you looked up at me and told me you couldn't do it anymore I knew I had to let you go. I knew you were ready. I knew that you were going to a better place. Later that night you asked me to take you to the hospital. Then you were crying out in pain...yet still managed to tell me that I looked like a model. It was that night that it really hit me. You were going to die. I wanted to know why. Why would God let that happen to you? Sweet, innocent you. Your whole family welcomed me with loving arms, why did any of you deserve this? Now I know. It was so the rest of the world could see your love and strength. So we could strive to be a little more like you.

Towards the end it was more and more difficult for you to speak, or to understand you. Too much medicine, too much pain, I'm not sure. I will never forget the last words you spoke to me. That night, you'd talked to me earlier, amazed I'd "come all the way here just to see you". I have to be honest. I didn't want to come see you that night. I knew I'd cry when I left and my emotions were worn out. But a great friend asked if I would feel bad if I didn't go, and I said yes. So, there was my answer. Down to Vanderbilt I went, and I am so glad that I did. I spent an hour with you that night, just holding your hand and letting you babble. After the nurse came in and gave you more medicine, you wanted to move to the chair. You started to doze off so I told your dad I would go. I hugged you the best I could, kissed your forehead, and told you I loved you, just like I did every time I would go. As I was walking away, when I thought you were fast asleep, you whispered, "I love you..." to me. It was the first time you'd told me, and the last words you ever said to me. That was on Friday. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday you were unable to speak at all but would still squeeze my hand and try to smile every time I saw you. On Tuesday your family let me know it was time to come and say goodbye. I am grateful to them for allowing me that opportunity. On April 6, 2010, at 10:30 p.m. you went to your final resting place.

I miss you, but you taught me so much in those short months I had the honor of knowing you. You taught me unfailing love. You showed me endless courage and incredible strength. You had an amazing faith in God. You were such a beautiful person, both inside and outside. I will always strive to be more like you. More compassionate. More giving. More accepting of people around me.

I know you are up in heaven where there's no cancer. I can't wait to see you again.

I love you so much,


Monday, April 19, 2010

Erin's 101 in 1001

So, my friend Melanie told me recently about her 101 in 1001 list; we were headed to the Nashville Symphony and that just happened to be on her list. I researched it, thought it was a great idea, and so here it is, my 101 in 1001. Thanks Melanie for the inspiration! Italicized and purple mean completed.

Because I should….

1. Take a yoga class
2. Send a hand written just because card to someone  (October 2011)
3. Influence someone else to write a Day Zero list (T, July 2010)
4. Surprise my parents with a visit (August 2011)
5. Try 10 new foods (kalamata olives, June 2010; chargrilled oysters August 2010; smoked salmon, smoked trout, couscous, grapefruit, September 2010; fig, goat cheese, date, brussel sprouts, October 2010)
6. See my roommate from college, Hillary
7. Go back to school for my undergrad (February 2011 - ongoing...)
8. Get a library card (August 2011)

Because I can…….

9. Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
10. Answer the 50 questions that "free your mind" (Jan 2012)
11. Host a dinner party
12. Go put flowers on Janet’s grave
13. See another Cirque du Soleil performance ("O" Las Vegas, September 2010; "Alegria" Nashville, June 2011)
14. See 5 concerts (CMA Music Fest 2010; Carrie Underwood, Oct 2010; TSO, Dec 2010; NKOTBSB, June 2011; Britney Spears, July 2011)
15. Read 10 new books recommended to me by other people (1. The Noticer, Andy Andrews, July 2010, MC; 2. Gazelles, Baby Steps, & 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me, July 2011, JM; 3. The Shack, August 2011, MC; 4. Two Kisses for Maddy, August 2011, CC; 5. The Help, Oct 2011, KC; 6. Heaven is For Real, Jan. 2012, JD; 7. Why Men Marry Bitches, Jan. 2012, MB; 8. The Secret Meeting Place, Jan. 2012, MC; 9. The Go Giver, May 2012, MC, 10. 50 Shades of Grey, June 2012, MD)
16. Take a swing dance class
17. Have a good ‘ol fashioned slumber party (September 2011)
18. Buy something from Etsy (Jan 2012)
19. Learn to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D in its entirety
20. Spend an entire day baking nothing but sweets... and then take them to the office.
21. Host a board game night
22. Attend the midnight premiere of a movie
23. Learn how to make an omelet
24. Buy flowers for myself
25. Make peanut butter fudge

Because I’m a hopeless romantic….

26. Kiss in the rain
27. Have a candlelight dinner
28. Fall in love
29. Spend an afternoon at the park reading to someone special
30. See the sunrise and sunset together
31. Take a midnight stroll on the beach

Because I’ve never…..

32. Go skydiving (Waverly, TN April 2012)
33. Go white water rafting (Ocoee River, August 2011)
34. Go scuba diving
35. Play laser tag (January, 2012)
36. Ride in a hot air balloon
37. Sing karaoke
38. Go ice skating (December, 2012)
39. Go snow skiing
40. Go to a drive in movie
41. See a Broadway show
42. Get a facial (November, 2011)
43. Go to a haunted house
44. Shoot a hand gun (January, 2012)
45. Go paintballing (March 2012)
46. Go deep sea fishing
47. See a professional baseball game
48. See a TN Vols football game at Neyland Stadium (TN vs. Buffalo, October 2011)
49. See a ballet

Because Dave Ramsey would be proud……

50. Pay off all debt
51. Give $500+ to a charity I am passionate about (Team in Training, 2011)
52. Start a 401k (January, 2012)
53. Try the envelope system
54. Save $20 for every task I complete

Because Nashville is a great city….

55. Try 5 Nashville based restaurants (1. Taco Mamacita, Nov. 2010; 2. Nero's Grill, Jan. 2011, 3. Loveless Cafe, Feb. 2011; 4. Fish & Co., July 2011; 5. Mack & Kate's, Aug. 2011; Mafiaoza's, Dec 2011)
56. Eat @ Loveless Café (February, 2011)
57. Go to Arrington Vineyards (October, 2010)
58. Eat at Martin’s BBQ (July 2012)
59. Find Love Circle
60. Go to the Farmer’s Market (Hendersonville, August, 2012)
61. Take the Yazoo Brewery tour
62. Eat at Jack’s BBQ (March, 2012)
63. See a show at the Bluebird Café
64. Take a ride on the General Jackson

Because I’m a giver….

65. Grant 5 more wishes (Peyton, May 2010; Oscar, August 2010; Ethan, September 2010; Darian October 2010; Grace, January 2011)
66. Donate blood (July 2011)
67. Perform a random act of kindness (July 2012)
68. Go on a Missions trip to another country (Africa, June 2012)
69. Complete 5 races for charity (1. Nashville Women's Half, Mercy Ministries; 2. Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon, LLS; 3. Susan G. Komen 5K; 4. Memphis Half Marathon, St. Jude Children's Hospital; 5. Ragnar Relay Chicago, Back on My Feet; 6. National Lottery Dublin Marathon, Chernobyl Children's Fund; 7. Strip at Night, RNR Vegas, Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America)
70. Cut my hair off and donate it (November 2010)
71. Chair an event for charity (Suckin' the Life Outta Cancer, TNT/LLS, July 2011)
72. Donate $5 for every task not completed
73. Buy a stranger’s coffee (February, 2012)
74. Help at the Nashville Rescue Mission
75. Give a 100% tip (May 2010)
76. Give money to a street musician

Because I love new places….

77. Visit New York City
78. See Boston in the fall
79. Take a random, spur of the moment road trip (Atlanta, February 2012)
80. Get my passport (May 2011)
81. Go on a cruise
82. See Hoover Dam (December, 2011)
83. Visit 3 new states (Louisiana, Aug 2010; Arizona, Dec 2011; Mississippi, March 2012)
84. Stay at a bed and breakfast
85. Take a girls trip (New Orleans, Aug 2010; Las Vegas, Sep 2010)
86. See a new country (Ireland, November 2011; Ethiopia & Uganda June 2012)

Because I want to be healthy….

87. Try 5 new fruits or vegetables (Grapefruit, Sep 2010; Date, Oct 2010; Sweet Potato May 2011; Broccoli September 2011; Beet Dec 2011)
88. Run a half marathon in 2:40
89. Complete a full marathon (October 2011)
90. Complete a triathlon
91. Participate in 10 new races (1. Nashville Women's Half, Sep 2010; 2. Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Oct. 2010; 3. Susan G. Komen 5K Oct. 2010; 4. Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Nov 2010; 5. St. Jude Memphis Half, Dec 2010; 6. Matt's Bday Pub Run, May 2011, Winner! 7. Ragnar Relay Chicago June 2011; 8. VA Beach Rock 'n Roll Half, Sep 2011; 9. National Lottery Dublin Marathon, Oct. 2011; 10. Strip at Night, Rock N Roll, Las Vegas, Dec 2011)

Because I love being a mom...

92. Take my kids on another vacation (November, 2012)
93. Spend a “mommy and me” day with each of my kids, separately (July 2011)
94. Let them get a pet
95. Write them letters on their birthdays (Kassidy, September, 2011; Kayden, February 2012)

Because I miss doing it….

96. Buy some sort of piano and start playing again
97. Cross-stitch
98. Complete scrapbooks for the kids
99. Go hunting

Because life is short….

100. Finish this list
101. Make another one