Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016.

This has been a crazy year of ups and downs. I’ll be honest with you all, I’ve seen some gray days this year I’ve not seen since after Dad died. Too much stress and not enough self-care at certain points of this year had me considering professional help for the first time in a long time. The difference between the grays of this year and the grays of 2009-2010 is that this year I have this amazing network of friends to keep me treading water. My heart is filled with joy every time I see the faces of the people in my community and I’m reminded how lucky I am to have such light-givers in my world to help me when I’m stuck in the dark.

While I’ve had days where I’ve truly struggled to find the light, this year has also been full of days where sunglasses were not enough. There are challenges and goals conquered, there were celebrations enjoyed, I went on two amazing trips that energized my spirit and healed my soul. Harry Potter World and a solo trip to Denver were perfectly timed adventures and time with family that helped me find light to combat some of the darkness I was facing.

SELLING YOUR HOUSE IS STRESSFUL, is the moral of this story.

So many ups. So many downs. It’s been a weird year. But I’m beyond grateful for this space because so many days I unload my stress on this page and the writing is healing and the conversations are rejuvenating and I just often wonder how I would cope without this place on the web. 12 years of writing. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so long.

This is an anticlimactic way to end the year, but considering the chaos of the ups and downs the 12 months prior, I’m okay with a boring last page of this book. I’m ready to bring on a new year and put this one to bed. I’m hopeful and I’m grateful and I’m blessed.

I hope to spend 2016 giving thanks to all of those in my life without whom I’d most certainly stumble and fall.

Bring on 2016. The Year of Thanks.

Resolve Simply To Make Progress.

Sometimes I feel I’ve failed at things. A few weeks ago I made it down to race-day weight and then the holidays happened and my race is on Saturday and I’m 3lbs over my maximum desired race-day weight. And I feel like a failure.

But then I soften the focus on that one small attribute and widen the focus on my life.

Resolutions are often concrete goals that we either achieve or we don’t. Pass or fail. Black or white. With most resolutions, there is no gray. And when you set up goals that you either pass or fail, your chances are very good to fail.

I have failed at losing enough weight to get myself in that “race-day weight” window where I feel like I perform best.

And while that type of goal setting is necessary on many levels, it should not be how we define our success or our failure.

I have this category on this blog called “A Better Me” because I like to remind myself – THAT IS THE ULTIMATE GOAL. The goal is not to hit that magic 5lb window of “race-day weight” – the goal is to just be better than I was X amount of time ago. I don’t even like the arbitrary year marker because sometimes we have REALLY SHITTY YEARS. Honestly? 2015 was high-stress for me. I didn’t start getting my healthy/fitness back on track until September which is 9 months in.

But I’m confident that – every day – I’m making progress towards being better person. Progress. Forward progress measured on a VERY large scale.

Maybe you set a goal to run a half marathon but then you get sick and don’t run for a week and then you can’t get back on track again and you never reach your goal. But you know what? YOU STARTED. You trained for X amount of weeks more than you would have if you HAD NOT STARTED. That is progress. And that totally describes my first attempt at running in 2006. By April 2007 I had given up. Trained crappily for several races. Swore off running forever. BUT IT WAS STILL PROGRESS. I still ran a lot while I was on track. More than I would have if I hadn’t even tried. So did I fail at the specific race goal in 2007? Yes. But I made progress. And that progress was there to build on in 2011 when I gave it a try again.

Have we downsized our house yet? No. That’s been our “resolution” for 2 years now. BUT HOLY CRAP, we might as well have. The fact that we are VERY EASILY living in half of the house right now while the upstairs gets paint/carpet/renovations tells you how much we’ve downsized. There’s not much furniture up there and a few of the pieces we’re only keeping for staging purposes. We have purged so much stuff that when we do finally sell this house, downsizing will be a breeze.

PROGRESS.

I’m still not the Mom I feel like my kids need. But compared to Kim when Wes was 3’ish – Kim who had never dealt with a child with behavioral issues – I am a much better Mom. I used to just deal with my anger with yelling and I very rarely do that anymore. And even when I “yell” it’s nothing like the Yelling of Yesteryear.

PROGRESS.

And progress doesn’t always mean that you don’t fall backwards. You may travel a mile towards your goal and then falter back 9/10s of that mile. But you know what? Everything you did to travel that mile initially is still PROGRESS. Just because it feels like you’re not much further away from where you started doesn’t mean you didn’t take steps in the right directions. I’m always trying to break my stress-eating habit and I’m still not close to feeling like I’ve conquered that beast. But I’ve had some really good stretches of success. I’m not in the middle of one right now (I ate 17lbs of peanut brittle yesterday) but I’ve had some good weeks/months where I’ve kept it in check and every time there’s a week I deal with stress without eating, I know that’s a foundation for a better habit. Those decisions get easier the more you do them. I may not have dealt with this week’s stress well, but the fact that I dealt with stress well 3 weeks ago gives me a foundation to build on for success later. SO IT STILL COUNTS AS PROGRESS.

Set goals. Goals are great. But don’t lose sight of the big picture of your life. Maybe you didn’t lose that weight, but did you discover a few healthy food options you didn’t know you liked before? Maybe you didn’t run that 5K, but did you walk more than you did before you set that goal? Setting goals pushes you towards progress. They are great. But remember that every step you take in getting to that goal – those steps have value EVEN IF YOU DON’T REACH YOUR GOAL.

And sometimes a year is not enough time to really measure progress towards a Better You. Sometimes it takes a few years just to know what direction you want to travel. Sometimes you start out down a few roads and then change your mind. I’m still not convinced multi-sports are my thing. Someone asked me recently if I’ll do a half-Ironman this summer since I did an Olympic Distance Tri last summer and I’m like, “Nope.” I went down that road as far as I care to go at this moment in my life. At one point I thought a 70.3 would be a goal, but nope. Not right now. Maybe not ever. I just think my cycling anxieties are like my driving anxieties, a permanent fixture. I have to deal with the driving anxieties because I have to get around, but I hate driving. I don’t have to ride my bike unless I’m training so I’ve decided I’ll maybe do another Oly in 2017 but in 2016 I’m just going to stick to Sprints. I traveled that multi-sport road as long as I wanted and even though I didn’t reach that goal, I still consider it progress.

But the miles I put on that road still counts as progress. Even if I didn’t make it to the 70.3. Going down a different road is not failure. That progress still counts. Life is not one road. Don’t forget the progress you made down the other roads simply trying to find the one you’re on now.

Be kind to yourself as you start the new year. Soften your focus a little if you misstep. We all just want to be better versions of ourselves, right? As long as you are trying to make improvements in your life, you are making progress. And you should celebrate that progress no matter where you ended up as compared to where you started.

The Chaos Has Begun

We knew some of the construction was starting yesterday on our upstairs, but I thought I had until Tuesday to be “paint ready.” Over the past few weeks I have moved a CRAP TON of stuff downstairs in a VERY orderly fashion. E’s room looks like a hoarder lives in there…but a VERY ORGANIZED hoarder. I also “hid” stuff on shelves in closets upstairs, stuff that needed to stay in that room for staging. I just moved it off the floor so carpets could be replaced. I still had some work to do last night to get it “paint ready” – move bedding off beds and move a few small furniture items out of the way. But you know how everyone complains about contractors never working on time? And how the LAST time we hired one he took 3+ months longer than he should? Well..this guy? Starts EARLIER. Painters started YESTERDAY.

And you know what else? When you hire people to paint rooms? THEY PAINT CLOSETS TOO! So all of that stuff I put on shelves? Had to be moved.

So I came home last night to a LOT more chaos that I was expecting. I thought there would be a new wall/door for the 5th bedroom, and then an old vent removed. BUT NOPE! Carpet was torn up in places and painting had started EVERYWHERE. They just covered the beds with plastic and piled stuff from the shelves on the beds.

Of course I felt TERRIBLE. I sent the contractor a text saying, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t know painting was starting today! I would have been more ready. And I didn’t know you would paint the closets.”

“You didn’t want us to paint closets?”

“No! That’s great! I kinda assumed no one painted closets because – who cares? But I see now, that’s dumb. This is why you’re the contractor and I’m just the idiot hiring you.”

IMG_1878So I spent last night moving everything else downstairs with no order whatsoever. AND! They ended up painting one room I didn’t think they’d paint. It’s fine! It’s great! But I hadn’t prepped that room at all. So the stuff from that room I just haphazardly through in various places.

In other words, my orderly process is now a boat full of chaos. So it’s now a chaos boat in an ocean of chaos.

BUT THAT’S OKAY. Because it’s all starting which means it will be over soon and on to attempt #2 at selling the house. Now with hopefully more showings and less stress.

I’m so glad I have to work this week and I can just forget this is all happening every day. I just come home and be all, “Nice work!” But I don’t have to hear it or see it or anything else. And we’re going to be gone for the carpet chaos because I’m running 62 miles this weekend which should be SUPER relaxing.

Holidays, renovations and 100K training all rolled into one chaotic month. I am nothing if not skilled at challenging my own tolerance for stress.

Thank God For Monday

I love my routine. I need a schedule. I need both BAD. When I’m out of town, it’s one thing to be on a “different” schedule, my body and mind sense everything is different so no normalcy is expected. But when I’m at home for a REALLY LONG weekend and my schedule is whacked out, my brain and my body WANT the schedule they’re used to. Two days of “off” is a weekend. But I took one extra off to hang with my nephew so I had 5 days off and after two days my body and mind were like, “Wait…weekend should be over…where is our routine? WE NEED OUR ROUTINE.” So my emotions go insane (see yesterday’s post) and I eat to deal with the emotions and then I feel shitty because junk food makes me feel shitty and I find myself BEGGING FOR MONDAY.

I got up promptly at 3am as is my usual schedule. I did some dishes, made some coffee, did some cleanup and sat down to blog. AS I DO EVERY MONDAY. I’m going to hit the Y and go to work. There will be some chaos at home as the construction guys will be here to close up an old vent in a hallway and to turn our playroom into a 5th bedroom. (It’s hard to sell a 4,100 square foot house as a 4-bedroom, no matter how low the price-per-square foot is.) BUT I WILL BE AT WORK. I will be on MY OWN SCHEDULE. I LOVE SCHEDULES. I NEED MY ROUTINE.

While I enjoy an impromptu activity during a free segment of my day, I’m not – by nature – and impromptu person. Even on vacation I like to make a schedule so I go throughout my day knowing when we’re eating, when we’re swimming, when we’re getting our magic wands…etc. I probably should have set up a fake “schedule” for the extended break. I did run a few days with friends, but not always in the morning. And the first morning of the break I went to run at the Y and then went and got my nephew, did not go to work, so my mind knew…”Woah. This is not the normal routine for a workday. It started off normal but NOW IT IS NOT! ABORT MISSION!”

Today will be normal. My home will be chaotic but that’s Donnie’s responsibility because he’s got another week of vacation to burn. NOT MY PROBLEM. I will be happily enjoying my normal routine with my coffee in my office and the email checking and the task completing and I’m VERY HAPPY to have that back. All I wanted for Christmas, evidently, was my routine back in order.

SIDENOTE: This picture has nothing to do with this entry, but our Running Photographer Superhero – Gregg Gelmis took it on our trail run on Saturday and I love it with every ounce of my soul and wanted to show it off.

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Typical Christmas Eve

It’s almost 5am on Christmas Even and I’ve been up for about an hour moving furniture and toy boxes around the house because the new carpet/paint/renovations start Monday.

Yes. The Monday after Christmas. Because that was a great idea.

The hardest part, surprisingly, was all of the little stuff. There are 5 GIANT closets upstairs. And while those closets have shelves and some stuff could be moved there, since we’re getting the carpet replaced ALL of the stuff touching the floor has to be moved. E’s bedroom now looks like an episode of hoarders with giant storage bins lining every wall stacked as high as they’ll go without risk of falling.

The smaller pieces of furniture we’re moving into the weirdly large half-bath upstairs because it’s not being painted and there’s no carpet in there.

The bigger pieces of furniture that will be used for “staging” are staying upstairs and we’re just paying the extra to have the workers move/deal with that stuff themselves.

We are/have been getting rid of a LOT of stuff. We have a friend coming to get Nikki’s furniture this weekend because it’s a little masculine for her anyway and it doesn’t make great use of space which was FINE in this huge house but since we’re downsizing we decided we’d find her furniture that matched her style more AND that didn’t take up as much floor space.

After this is done, we’ll stage the upstairs and then the ONLY reason ANYONE (including animals) goes up there is to sleep or to use the bathroom if the downstairs bathrooms are occupied. THAT IS IT. What this means is that I will only have to worry about HALF of the house as it’s on the market which was another HUGE motivator to tackle this project. I think I can keep half of the house clean without wanting to jump of a bridge. I blame stressing about all 4,000+ square feet for the weight I gained previously.

Part of the renovations involve turning the “play room” into an official bedroom so we can call this a 5-bedroom house. It’s a little huge for a 4-bedroom and even though the price-per square feet was GREAT before, I’m not sure people made it to dig that deep since the straight price next to the “4BR” probably seemed a little high. Also, if you look at the inventory in our area there are VERY FEW 5BR houses near our price range, but PLENTY of 4BR ones. SO! Hopefully this all means less time on market!

But still. I’m spending Christmas even doing non-Christmassy stuff. That kinda sucks.

I do have 2 runs on the schedule today though. I’ve had a crappy workout week due to various stupid reasons so I’m hoping this will get me on track. 10 days until the race! WOOT.