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Friday, March 31, 2017

Kindness & Love

Right now I am working on my Master’s degree in counseling and this semester I am taking a class on human sexuality. During this class there are discussions with other soon to be therapists on topics relating to human sexuality. This past class discussion was about sexual orientation and gender identity. Listening to everyone and their opinions left me wondering: why is being different such a bad thing?

I have grown up with conservative folks. Usually, I enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives and viewpoints because hearing it has helped shape my own. Now, I’m not in any way, shape, or form saying anything negative about my cohorts in the class. Most of them are a product of their environment and have probably never even talked to a homosexual; much less have a discussion with one. Lucky for me, I have lived a life where I have been on both sides of the fence. Now, I feel like I have this great opportunity to bring information and perspective.

Image result for kindness quotes
So, here I am. I love to give perspective and I love connecting with people. I am willing to talk and share my story. I’m not perfect, but I try hard not to judge. I have lived a very interesting and colorful life.  I have been asked bizarre and not so bizarre questions and each time I have answered to the best of my ability because I feel like knowledge is the key to curving judgement.

I know for a lot of people it’s hard to open yourself up to anything different. You’re set in your beliefs and you don’t plan on changing them. But, no matter your religion or set of beliefs, kindness and love can go a long way. Take time to educate yourselves or put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It can be uncomfortable, but being uncomfortable is okay. Seeing someone who doesn’t fit your idea of normal and judging them because of it is wrong. Discriminating against someone you don’t understand is wrong. Perpetuating hate and exclusion in the name of religion, or political view or whatever excuse that’s used is wrong.

No matter how we dress

No matter how we live

No matter whom we love.

No matter where we come from.

No matter the color of our skin.

No matter whom we do or don’t pray to.

We are all human. We are all capable of kindness and love. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Late Bloomer

Most queer folk know from a young age they are attracted to the same sex. Not me, I am a bit of an oddity. Even though I hate the term; I consider myself a late bloomer.

 I contribute a lot of my lateness to my upbringing. I grew up in a very Christian home, probably borderline orthodox based upon my memories. There were very strict rules about jewelry, haircuts, wardrobe, etc. I was very limited to what I could watch and listen to. I don’t remember this going on through a huge part of my childhood but it definitely sticks out in my mind. As a child, I remember I admired quite a few female actresses and singers; in hindsight I would consider them crushes. As far as boys go; I had a super scary and strict father, so there were no boyfriends for me even if I wanted them. I don’t ever remember a time though where I was into boys, not like my sons are into girls now. I don’t remember crushes on boys when I was young or wanting to make some little boy my boyfriend. I don’t know if I just didn’t develop that aspect of myself at that age or I had little interest. I honestly have no clue.

Later on, I dated boys in school. I never really had a lot of attachment. I dated them for a while and then moved on. This continued from the beginning of high school until around the end of high school. I did go on to eventually marry a guy that I met in school; but it was with him I realized I was attracted to women. Why in the world I would notice this so late in life is beyond me, but I realized after it was too late.  I was married and committed and did what I was supposed to do. I had already committed myself to someone at the extremely young age of 18, I hadn’t a clue about who I was. As I started to grow in my sexual identity and figure myself out; my sexuality was one of those parts that developed. I remember at the beginning of our marriage he would joke and think it was awesome that he had a wife who was attracted to women; he had a few fantasies he was hoping to play out. Sadly for him; the more I realized my attraction for women the less I was actually attracted to men. Don’t get me wrong, there are some awesome dudes out there. I have dated some guys and been involved with some guys who were great. My sexuality isn’t a reflection of you and you didn’t change me. All of those relationships lacked a connection I needed. My marriage lacked the connection I needed. It took me a long time to figure that out.

Over the years, my marriage has played out like it would have regardless of my sexual identity. There were so many other issues beyond my sexuality at fault. But, I am the kind of person who gives every aspect of my life all that I have. No matter what I figured out about myself over time, I was committed and gave it my best. After it is all over though, I do have regret. I wish I would have listened to family and not married so young. I missed out on figuring out what I wanted years ago, but better late than never is my perspective at this point. The regret just makes me appreciate where I am now.
My struggle and regret is the reason I share my story and my self-reflection. I know there are late bloomers out there who are trying to figure themselves out. People who are stuck in a place where they know they don’t belong. I was there, I have finally came out on the other side. Literally and figuratively. I can’t help but think it would have been easier to have figured out my sexuality earlier in life. I envy those who have always known. But, my journey took me a different path. This path gave me my boys and gave me her. I ended up where I was supposed to be; I just took a few detours along the way.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Signing up for a race

Signing up for and running a race is a huge accomplishment. Having a goal is a great way to stay on track and stay in shape. The part most people don’t realize is, race day isn’t the hardest part of the journey. Race day is the day you get to celebrate the hard work you have put in. My party day is coming in July when I get to put my training to use and run my first ultra marathon. In the meantime, I want to share some of the training process with you.

At this point, I am around 18 weeks out from my first 55k. I have been training for the last 6 weeks. A typical training for a marathon can be anywhere from 16 to 20 weeks and from my research, ultra-plans are 20+ weeks. When I research a plan, I look for runs that are going to work with my schedule. I have ran enough races to know, for me, 5 to 6 running days a week is ideal. The plan I am using this time, I found online and has my longest run peaking at 26 miles. This sounds intimidating but, any good training plan slowly gets you to where you need to be. By the time the 26 miler is on deck, you’re ready to rock. At this point, I am running somewhere around 20-30 miles per week spread out over 5 days. Now, as a working mom who is constantly busy, I keep my schedule pretty flexible. I will move run days around and even on longer runs I may split them up and run some in the morning and some after my kids are in bed. I spend the beginning of every week looking at my schedule to make sure I can fit my training runs in.
My new training grounds

A big part of training is trial and error. Finding the right gear, the right shoes and the right nutrition. This is why it’s training before the race, you get to see what’s going to work. Since I am new to trails, this training has been a lot of trying new shoes and apparel. I have returned a few pairs of shoes and went through a lot of socks just trying to find what’s going to work for me. Most good running retailers are more than happy to make sure you got what’s going to work for you. Running brands can be expensive, but I promise I am a thrifty person and I have no shame in shopping the clearance rack or getting unusual colors because they are cheaper. Stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx are great places to find cheap running gear and the Walmart brand running apparel isn’t that bad either when your starting out.

The make or break for me at a lot of races is what I eat before and during the race. I have had some races where the porta-potty stops were the highlight of the race. I have also had races where I didn’t have to stop a single time. All of that is a result of what you eat or don’t eat while you run. Use your training runs for practices. Try different foods and drinks. Research to see what options are available and try them all. Most running nutrition you can buy comes in small single servings and are incredibly cheap. There are always every day foods you can use too; raisins, candy, etc. There are no rules and everyone is different. I am working right now on trying small waffles, I have never been able to digest the gels very well so from experience I know I need to look elsewhere. I have even read chips and pretzels are available at longer ultra’s so I am going through each to see what’s going to work on race day.

I know running can be intimidating and seeing other people post about racing and training sounds scary.  But, finishing a race is absolutely doable. Anyone can finish a race. If you are worried about being the last one out there, who cares? The last one to finish got their money’s worth. Plus, most races have very flexible finish times so, you can walk as much as you need to. Check races to see what their minimum paces are to help make your decision and relieve some of the stress you feel. For every one Kenyan out there who is running a blazing pace, there are thousands of regular Joe’s like you and me who will finish and be ecstatic. The only competition when you sign up for a race is you.  So, make that leap, sign up for a race, and commit yourself to training. You will be amazed at what you’re capable of!

 I’m not a coach but I have experienced all kinds of different races and had good and bad experiences; I will help and answer any question or comments about running so feel free to reach out!

Braving the cold to get a run in

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day

I have always thought of myself as somewhat of a feminist. Being from the south, I was raised in church that preached women are to be submissive. We are to find a man, pop out babies and take care of the home. I was shamed for wanting a career because I was supposed to stay home and take care of my children. A good ol’ southern homemaker life was not for me. From a young age, I have been independent and living that type of life isn’t something I ever wanted. I always dreamed of having a career and family and there is nothing wrong with that. I don’t love my children any less. Because of my teachings as a child, I have raised my boys to see women as strong and capable.

My hard working mother
Growing up, I had great parents. My dad was hard working and very loving. My mother was hard working and strong. Having her as a role model is one of the reasons I have developed this view of women. My mom was never a sit down and knit kind of mom. She was always out using a weed eater and lawn mower right along with the men in our neighborhood. My mom never hesitated when something needed done that was “man’s work”, she got it done. I remember my mom working and being an equal partner with my father. Seeing this as a young girl was profound and helped me to grow up knowing that I could do the same things a man could do.

My hard working father
Skip ahead several years into adulthood, I landed myself in a marriage with a man who did not hold the same view, he saw himself as greater. No matter how much I did, I was never as good as a man. I don’t completely blame him; his father and millions of other men for hundreds of years have believed the same thing. I am not complaining because honestly this is how it is for a lot of women. I think throughout history we have fought and will continue to fight the patriarchal society we live in. We have come a long way, but we are naive to think we are viewed as equal. In America, we are luckier than some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we should be satisfied with our place.

So, with today being International Women’s Day I want to honor all women, everywhere. No matter your age, where you live, relationship status, or sexual orientation; you are incredible! You are born with amazing strength and grace and the ability to persevere. You are worthy of celebration and love.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Complete comfort

To be comfortable is to be completely at ease, physically and psychologically. Until recently, there has never really been a time where I have been completely at ease. 

One of the goofy selfies she gets from me
Feeling comfortable is letting go of stress and discomfort.

Feeling comfortable is being yourself without bounds, without worrying what someone is going to think.

To me, being loved is the ultimate expression of comfort. A real love allows you to be who you are, completely. If you think about it, all day is a struggle to be a version of yourself. To be an employee, to be a friend, to be a parent, to be a million other different things; it's rare to just be yourself. Even at home, until her, I hid who I was. I walked on egg shells and diluted myself for the sake of peace. I had never realized it until I didn't have to do it anymore. Now, I am comfortable. I am me without any filter.

Before her, I hid so deep within myself that I had completely forgotten who I was. I forgot what it was like to be me. That may sound ridiculous but that was where I was at. I never had someone to just ask me about myself. To make me even think about my wants and needs. I never had someone pull the layers away and want to know who I was at my core. I didn't know that's what it was like when someone loves you. All this time, I thought love was a job.

Until recently, I didn't know love was more than just a task on the to-do list. I had spent my adult life just existing. I was with someone for over a decade and they didn't really know who I was. Whether that was my fault; or just what happens over a period of time; or just being in the wrong relationship; I don't know. I'll probably never know. But I do know now, being loved is so much more. Being loved is bearing your soul to someone and trusting they will like what they see. It's taking a chance and showing someone the inner demons and dork that you tuck away from the world.

I didn't even realize how much of a nerd I was until I met her. I had never enjoyed just being completely silly for no reason. Maybe it's happiness, maybe it's because I'm not hiding anymore; I don't know. What I do know is I have found a love that give me with comfort. Complete comfort. I am at ease when I am with her. I feel safe with her and I have found myself again because of her. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ultra Training and New Diet

Training is in full swing!! I am roughly four weeks in and on schedule. I have managed to run on the trail at least once a week but I am getting to the trails every chance I get. I feel myself getting stronger. I have been improving at staying upright and descents are looking a little less painful. Hills are going to continue to be a struggle as I get stronger, but I am going to keep at them. The more I run in the woods, the more I fall in love with trail running!

Me on the trail

Training for a new distance is scary but the running is essentially the same. I have a calendar laid out that incorporates speed and distance to train my body for the race ahead. But, one of the most important aspects of training is eating healthy. Healthy eating is how you properly fuel your body for the work you expect your body to do. I am the first to admit that I don't always eat like I should; mainly because I tell myself I work hard running, I should be able to enjoy all foods. The problem comes when I am out running 13 miles then come home and chow down on junk food. This way of eating is a disservice to my body because I am not feeding it the fuel it needs to recover.

Usually when training is in full swing I am make sure I'm filling my body with fruits and vegetables. But, this training cycle I have been reading a lot about ultra training and diet. I have read a lot of books and blogs and one of the common practices is eating a plant based diet.

The name alone sounds super intimidating, but it is not nearly as scary as it sounds. A plant based diet isn't a fad or some restrictive way to live. Plant based is exactly like it sounds, plants. This encompasses everything from veggies, to fruit, whole wheats, beans and legumes. That really only cuts out super processed foods and meat. Typically, I'm not a huge meat lover; chicken is usually my go to meat and even more recently I have been consuming fish. I don't plan to completely cut those out but I think it's something worth exploring.

So, my plan is to give it a go. This training cycle I am going to fuel my body like the ultra elites. My hopes are, just like when I started eating healthy a few years ago, I won't miss the meat and junk. I will still include fish and maybe even chicken in my diet on a few occasions but I hope to eventually dwindle it out for the most part. I'm excited to try something new, and scared it's going to be hard but I know I can do it. I know it's going to be good for my body.

Either way, I will keep you guys updated on how it goes or how it doesn't. Check back soon! In the meantime, hit the trails or hit the road. Get out there!

All smiles..