Friday, May 19, 2017

Something from here, something from there.

A few quick thoughts on packing, packing lite, what to pack, what not to pack, and what I just can't live without.

I've learned to live with a little.  And if I have a lot, most of it will end up being left behind anyway.  Now, sometimes this is a good thing -
~Old clothes that I left behind because they didn't fit, only to find years later that they fit again.
~Music, in various forms, long forgotten that lead to 'lost' days sitting around listening and remembering.
~Old bags left when a new one was purchased, and then loved and used again a decade later.
~An old camera found with old images stored that evoked sad emotion, but now useful for it's size and capability.

As I may have mentioned, I'm travelling via Greyhound Bus from my current hometown in Wichita, KS up to Yellowstone National Park for work this summer.  I've decided that I will be taking a large military style duffel, a backpack, and my ukulele.  I had similar baggage for my bus trip last summer from CT to KS, so this should work out fine.  I have lists, and have packed, re-packed, and re-packed again.  I keep trying to imagine what the 12 hour layover from midnight to noon toward the end of my trip will be like if I have a heavy load, and which is more important: bringing stuff, or walking with that stuff comfortably throughout the evening/morning.

There are some things I know I can get there if I need - camping gear mostly - but the frivolous things I can do without aren't that heavy!  I know I need MY running shoes, and my good hiking shoes, and my Tevas.  My running shoes can double as work shoes, unless I'll be handling a lot of food, in which case, I'll need different work shoes.  Which I can get elsewhere... I hope! That's mostly what is taking up the space.  Dang shoes!

And then there are things I want to take that I don't need, but also don't take up space.  I'll be taking a small digital camera with me for hiking pictures and two pins: one Acadiana flag and one Wichita flag.

I hope to have the chance to place these in photographs for the purpose of size/perspective shots and for representation.  I wanted to bring along something that represented Lafayette/Acadiana as well as Wichita, since I've spent most of my adult life there.  It's like I have dual city citizenship!

Thankfully, a dear friend volunteered to mail me the Louisiana pin, and sent me an actual flag as well!  Luckily, it packs well.  It'll be flying proudly over my dorm room in YNP this summer.

I leave in 8 days.

Can you guess how nervous/excited I am getting every single day?!?!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The reality of age

This week I've had some... shall we say "extra"... time at work.  When I have this time, my mind tends to wander and I become completely involved in a daydream. When I finally snap out of it I can never remember what in the world could have been so fanciful that made me waste so much time, then I proceed to look up the same things I always do on the computer.  (Right now it's mostly Yellowstone related stuff.)  However, this week is a bit different.  I have a lot of this type of time on my hands and I am finally starting to feel creative again.  It has been a good minute or two since I've written anything original.  I started a song last summer after I was kicked off of the Whaler, but depression set in, blah blah blah, I never finished it.

Today I decided to look up some writing prompts.  Part of me hopes that wherever I'm placed at in YNP doesn't have good wifi so that I can remember to read instead of watch Netflix or HBO, or use these prompts to write, or actually follow through on my plan to keep a nature journal.  I have always indicated that I am not a visual artist in any sense of the word, (I can barely draw stick people,) but it turns out that I don't need to be.  I can attempt to sketch whatever it is I'm observing, but I can also use the skills I do possess of words to paint my picture.  Guess I'll need to brush up on my descriptive words!

With all this said, one particular writing prompt from this site I chose today is called "the Vessel."

"3. The Vessel:Write about a ship or other vehicle that can take you somewhere different from where you are now."

Well, maybe this one kind of jumped out at me.  

You see, one of the things that terrifies me is losing the memory of things I've done.  I already know that it's becoming difficult for me to remember all the knots I learned last summer.  So following this prompt would hopefully ignite those memories and possibly create a happier ending than the one that happened in real life.

And what is more, a dear couple to me has decided to up and sell their possessions - house, furniture, 90% of their belongings - and buy a boat to live/work on.  So all my nautical memories are coming back when thinking of their future.

My mind is swimming with book ideas.

Oh the possibilites of time.

I titled this entry the way I did, because the truth is that it IS difficult for me to write in fantasy anymore.  My writing tends to be realistic and very depressing.  I do not want that.  I am here and now setting a goal to write more positively.  Particularly for this prompt.  Maybe my scary nautical story will come, but my first nautical story will be a pleasant one.

If you would like some prompts...

Monday, May 8, 2017

The best HIGH in the Universe... (so far)

All of the talking, training, mental toughness, sickness, injuries, and more would mean nothing if I didn't run - and finish - my marathon.


That look right there is the culmination of months of trying, a little failing, a little flailing, and a lot of pushing myself to do something that I never imagined I would be able to.  When they told me I couldn't run after my knee surgery, I did.  When I thought I wouldn't be able to get out of bed, I did.  When I wasn't able to run even 2 miles, I did.  

And here I am now, crossing the finish line after steadily running for 26.2 MILES.  That's like running across the city of Wichita!  Sort of.  

It was a tough day.  The wind was cold, and we were battling intermittent rain/sleet and jumping puddles and debris that had accumulated the evening before.  I found a buddy to run with, and we stayed together the entire run.  We were able to push each other, and keep each other from pushing too hard as well.  

You see, distance running is not about going as fast as you can, it's about never stopping, keeping up a steady pace, so that when you get to the end you still have enough muscle use and energy to cross.  I knew, thanks to my training, that I did have that.  What I did not count on, was my mental status.  At mile 20 I could feel the tears coming.  It was getting more difficult to think of anything that did not make me cry.  The difficulty level of 2016.  Learning to accept my challenges and work WITH them, not AGAINST them.  Losing my best friend.  I just had to remind myself that I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And I did just that.

At mile 23/24, somewhere around there, my mother (who had just finished her half marathon) showed up to give me a last leg boost.  While it worked, it also triggered that last string of sanity I had been holding on to.  When I rounded the last turn and saw the finish line, I kicked in for my sprint and the tears came freely.  As I raised my hands in victory, crossing the finish line, I was sobbing.  Every emotion I had in every inch of my aching body was unleashed upon the unsuspecting bystanders and organizers.  

So that is why my finisher picture is important to me.

I got some nice hardware for my efforts too. 😁

Even though I could barely walk the next day and didn't go to work, I definately wore that "finisher" shirt with as much pride as I have ever had.  The euphoric feeling lasted nearly all week!!  All that from just a runner's high!

Here's my Mama and me at the race expo the day before our runs...

There's no way in the world I would have been able to do this alone.  A week after my run, the bulk of my training friends were running in our hometown race series half marathon.  I was thrilled to be able to be there to cheer them on!

The last few weeks leading up to the race have been pretty action packed too.  My attempt at breaking into the Wichita theatre scene, while unsuccessful at getting onstage, have been fruitful in getting my name in with a company as a reliable person.  

I was asked to help out with some props for the Forum Theatre Wichita's production of "Boeing! Boeing!"  The show was hilarious, AND I was able to make some really great connections through this show!

Here are some bags I spiffed up a bit:
I'm not always the best at straight lines, so I'm pretty proud of that work!

And so, the conclusion of April and the beginning of May have brought some pretty amazing accomplishments for me.  Getting stronger mentally, physically, and realizing that being strong emotionally doesn't mean NOT being weak.

This is now the last week of school for me and my tutoring students.  I'm not sure that I will be working with this program again, but it has been a good year for me at this job.  

This coming weekend is the big show my band has been prepping for.  We have two more practices and then boom!  Make it or break it!  I know that we have the ability, but I tend to be a perfectionist.  Maybe I'll try to do some extra relaxing things to clear my mind before the show.  No time like the present to practice mindfulness!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Not Quite Down For The Count

I've mentioned my marathon right?
Yeah, I thought so.
They say that you always know when some one is a vegan, running a marathon, or does crossfit, because they don't stop talking about it!

This last Saturday I had my longest training run yet: 18 miles.  Yeesh.

We ran through the Andover back roads.  Hills, gravel roads, trucks barreling toward you without slowing, dogs running free.  Guess what else?  I live in Kansas.  Do you know what the word means?  it means "People of the (south) Wind".  That's no joke.  It's ALWAYS windy here.  There's nothing to block the breeze here in our lovely square (with a bite taken) state.  So, when running up and down hills on gravel roads, it's no surprise that I was pretty covered in dirt afterward.

For the last week or so, I've noticed a pain in my heel that has been getting steadily worse per run.  After a short 4 mile run last friday, I noticed that my pain was just as intense as my 15 miler the week before.  I looked online, and it seems that I've developed Plantar Fasciitis.

I only have three weeks left until my race!  What am I supposed to do???

Well, what can I do?  I'm going to continue training, and I'm going to run my race.  I've been icing and rolling and stretching and wearing the right shoes and doing everything I possibly can to relieve the pain and make sure I don't over do it.  But the simple truth is: I have 20 miles this saturday (4/16).  I need to make sure I get 20 miles in this week.  That's 5 miles a day for 4 days, or 4 miles a day for 5 days.  I would prefer the former, so that I can enjoy my Good Friday off and my 4 day weekend coming up.

We'll see.

If you're reading this, and you're the praying sort, pray that I don't over injure myself.  If I really tear this ligament, I can't afford surgery.  And I really want to run the Yellowstone trails this summer.

Onward and Upward, right?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Milestone After Milestone... Just Like Step By Step

To take a step in the "right" direction: forward, backward, sideways, whatever, means that you are moving.  Sometimes forward is the way to go.  Sometimes you need to go backwards and evaluate decisions.  Sometimes you need to step sideways and change your course completely.

It seems these days, that every step I take is a milestone.  A personal record (PR) if you will.

I've already talked about my Younique business and my summer job at Yellowstone National Park, but one milestone I haven't talked much about on this blog is my first Marathon.

I've run two Half Marathons before.  My first one was November 2014, and my time was simply abysmal.  I finished just short of three HOURS. Two years later, after completing a training course here in Wichita, I finished my second Half Marathon in roughly two hours and eighteen minutes.  Which was under my goal time of two hours and twenty minutes.  Yay me!

After that successful run, I decided to keep the momentum going and sign up to train for a FULL Marathon.  Training has been going well, until the middle of March.  Right when my speed group was getting to the long miles, further than I had ever run before and much needed for my psyche, I went down with some serious seasonal allergies for a full week, and then ANOTHER full week of something else for which I never saw a doctor.  I missed a seventeen mile run, and when I tried to go ten, I felt like I was going to die.  I couldn't believe it!  How could this happen?  How would I ever be able to finish a FULL marathon?  26.2 miles?  YEAH RIGHT.

Well, I got over the crud, started feeling better, and knocked out FIFTEEN miles (and a quarter) on April third.  I still feel great, and am looking forward to seventeen or eighteen this weekend (4/8).

My race is coming up at the end of April.  The twenty-ninth to be exact.  I can tell you that I am nervous, but I've been following the race on Facebook. They have been posting mile by mile videos, so that even though I don't live close enough to preview the course with a run, I can see where I'll be running.

This particular Marathon is special.  If you're not familiar with distance running, or Marathon running, the first one can really get to you.  It's a long way!  If you're not already familiar with the story of the first "marathon" then let me enlighten you.

The legend is that a Greek messenger was sent from the battle of Marathon to Athens to proclaim victory.  He ran the entire distance (supposedly 26.2 miles) without stopping, burst into the Assembly and shouted "WE WON!" before collapsing on the floor, DEAD.

*blink. blink*

Yeah, people use that as a means to tell me that I'm crazy.  But do you know what?  The Marathon has been an Olympic event since 1896.  And people have definitely been running it longer than that.  If they can do it, I can do it.  I DON'T plan to run all out, so I will NOT be dying at the end.  I plan on running my miles around 11:30/12 minutes per mile.  And I plan to have a nice sprint at the finish so I look good for the cameras!

One of the specialties of the OKC Memorial Marathon, is that first timers have a different bib look.  There are a ton of spectators along the route, and when they see the newbies coming they give a special hoot and holler!  The city knows what this run means, and it shows.

I'm excited to be a part of it, and honestly CAN'T WAIT to run it! I need a few more miles under my belt, but I'm certain I'll be just fine come race day.

You can check it out at the links I've shared here, or you can drive to Oklahoma City on April 30th!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Opportunities Coming Out of My Ears!

Ok, it's no joke that I am not the most consistent with my posting.  And when big things happen, I tend to get really busy and this blog just slides to the backburner for MONTHS on end.


So here's my update.  If you read my last post (two months ago,) I've taken the plunge and become a Younique Independent Presenter.  Younique is a makeup/beauty company that makes quality, nature based products.  I have pretty sensitive skin when it comes to daily wear makeup, and this stuff is amazing.  Not only does it NOT break me out, but it stays put ALL DAY.  I don't have to use a lot, and it looks great!   I'm having a blast playing with all the new colors and products.  And while it is a lot of work, (yes, I do WORK at my business,) I wouldn't change my decision to become a presenter for the world.

Next, I've been accepted with a company that works withing Yellowstone National Park for the summer!  I'll be working at gas stations/convenient stores for a company called Yellowstone Park Service Stations (YPSS) for the ENTIRE summer!  Holy Cow!  I was feeling the wanderlust bug, but knowing I probably couldn't afford to travel if I wasn't able to find another supplemental job to replace the one ending in may (public schools), I decided to see if I could find a job that would take me away for a while.  In January I started to put out feelers.  I asked my friends, I asked facebook, I got the notion to see if I could find a job at a National Park.  While the official US National Park Service jobs were asking some serious questions, I learned of this small company and put in my application.  It's almost like fate.  My phone interview was conducted by a fellow from just north of where my parents live!  He offered me the job.  I'll be living and working IN THE PARK for almost 4 months!  (5/31-9/24).  I cannot express how exciting I am at this opportunity!  And while I know it was my attitude and mental issues that got me kicked off my amazing job on the Mystic Whaler last summer, I've been through almost a year of therapy and have some techniques I can do to calm myself down.  All I ask is prayer that I will be able to make it the full 4 months.  I'm not sure which station I'll be at yet (Upper Old Faithful, Lower Old Faithful, Grant Village, Fishing Bridge, Canyon, Tower/Roosevelt Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs,) I know that if YOU come visit, I'll be able to see you!  I'll have two days off TOGETHER each week.  (This is surprisingly one thing I am over the moon excited about!) I knew that the company highly encourages us to go exploring, but I also just discovered that there are group employee hikes that are already scheduled!  AND there are park employee sports!  Softball, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer.  Oh my land!

So here's my conclusion:

Buy some makeup and come visit Yellowstone this summer 😉

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Terror of Taking a Leap

I feel like I've been on a rampage.  Not a scary, tear down physical things and wreck society rampage, but an emotional one.  I feel like lately I've been holding so much in so as to not rock the boat that it can't be contained any longer.  It's a difficult thing, living at home at 34.  I want to get out, but I haven't the financial stability to do that just yet.  I'm taking steps though.

At the end of this week, I'll get a car.  That will give me at least the freedom to leave when I want, and to go do the silly little things that solidify friendships.

I've also thrown my hat into the ring of Direct Sales.  I've taken on the role of Younique Independent Presenter.  That's right, I'm selling makeup.  I never, in my wildest dreams thought I'd ever be doing anything like this, but I'm enjoying it.  It's been slow going for me, and challenging.  Trying to get your friends to buy stuff so you can make money isn't exactly ideal for me, but I do love this product, so that helps!  I have a wonderful coach, who I look up to in so many different ways.  If she can do it, I can too!

I guess that's all I needed to get out for now.
No introspective thoughts to trouble my sleep tonight.
I think.