Share the Sunrise

Most mornings before the kids wake, before the chaos and wildness of another adventurous day ensues, I sneak out of my bed, pull on spandex materials of various shapes and lace up my shoes. I run off into the woods, chasing the sunrise, dreaming of the day ahead. I need this peaceful start. It gets me through.

Today, though, when little pitter pattering feet ran down our hardwood hallway and found their way into my bed at 5:30am, with Daddy snoring at my side, I knew that it would be hard to sneak away.

“Isaac, do you want to go see the sunrise?” I whispered as I pulled back his curly blonde locks to sweetly kiss his ears.

“Yes, let me go get dressed!” he emphatically whispered back. Little feet went dashing down the stairs. MInutes later, we were off under the moonlit skies.

He silently sat in our yellow stroller as we crested the top of dirt Mulholland. The tiniest bit of majestic orange glitter peeked out from behind the mountains. Another five minutes down the quiet dirt road and we reached the top. I leaned over to see the innocent smile spread across his face in pure joy.

“Happy Sunrise, Mama!”

How time changes things, I thought.

We grow, mature, learn what is really important in this life, what makes us happy, what we need to get through. Just a few years ago and I would have fought hard for my morning alone time, protecting and savoring those 25 minutes of solitude. Not today, though. Finally I am learning that these days go too quickly. Soon he’ll be off to school, with friends, much too large for the stroller, sleeping until noon and have no interest in sharing the sunrise with his Mama.

Today, I was happy to share the sunrise.

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Post-race blues and a sick kid

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”

It has been over a year since I have last posted here. For anyone still listening, thank you. If it’s just me, then I need this.

Time has flown by, kids have grown and life keeps on pressing. Also, I have been happy – like really, truly happy. I tend to write when I am not feeling so rosy, when my heart is ripping at the seems, red and blue seeping together and bleeding all over this messy life. Today, I find myself drippy. I need an outlet and my shins are begging for a day off.

I ran my 2nd 50K this past Saturday, just 4 days ago and I now find myself sitting here with the post-ultramarathon blues. It’s a thing. Google it, if you don’t believe me. Back in October of 2014 I first goggled “post-marathon blues” when I was stuck in this funk for days that my typically positive self just could not shake. So anyway, today I find myself on the couch at 10:10am snuggling a sick scrawny little 7-year old who had to miss her school walk-a-thon today due to the flu. In a 7-year old’s world, this is a big deal. She has the blues, too. Poor girl cried and cried all morning, trying to convince herself and her Mama that she was well enough to do it. I took her temperature and let her try. A mere 30 minutes after school drop-off and my phone rang with the news that “Your kid has a fever and isn’t feeling well.” So that is how we landed back here at 10am.

I am never sitting at 10am, never really sitting any time during the days anymore. If I’m not playing with crazy 3-year olds at preschool then I’m running in the mountains or to school pick-ups or gymnastics classes or Trader Joe’s to stock up on food to keep this family moving. But not today. Today, I sit here with my heart like grape gum on the ground (to borrow words from Jewel).

The 50K is done, all the months of mental and physical preparation are through and I only finished 4th. 4th place is a total bummer – just 1 step from the podium. I try to remind myself that this was only my 2nd ultra (classified as any race over the marathon distance), but that hardly helps. Then I research the names of the top 3 female runners on Strava, Facebook and other social media stalking sites with the time I should be using to study. I discover these women are beasts, serious top-caliber athletes from all over the west coast. They run professionally, coach ultra runners and have competed and won top championship races. They are legit.

I place my hand back over a 7-year old protruding shoulder, rub it deeply and sigh. A sip of coffee and life will be okay. Time to plan the next training cycle..

 

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How Pretty the World Is

“Show me how pretty the world is.. Cause I want something a little bit louder.. “

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The words come in loud through the speakers of my minivan. Four kids sit in the rear seats. Ten years ago, the same words bleared through speakers of a crowded bar. I was in my boyfriend’s arms jumping to the beat in a hip spot, The Troubador, listening to Matt Nathanson sing his heart out. “Show me how pretty the world is.. tonight.” The words play on, tugging at my heart like the strings on a violin.

“I never thought that I could be who I am
I never thought that I could see where I was
I never thought that all this was wasn’t me
I always thought all this was could never be..”

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I never thought this would be me. I never thought that I could be who I am, this girl, this mother of three wild and beautiful children. I laugh as I type “girl,” still 31 and I call myself girl. My husband corrects me saying, “You are 31 years old, you are not a girl. You are a lady or a woman or ‘Mam or surely something other than a girl.” Not in this moment, though. In this moment I am 19 again, carefree and in love. I blink and in this moment I am 31, happy and in love but of a different degree.

I have learned that love is more than that feeling of your boyfriend’s arms holding you tightly in a loud bar, more than the music touching you and feeling a connection, more than saying “I do” and seeing sparks fly.

Love is watching him rock your baby to sleep, hearing him whisper secrets in her ear and watching the ensuing smile spread across her precious face. Love is lullabies sung late at night to calm her five year old fears, arms wrapped around each other in bed, holding each other tight before dawn, before the alarm sounds and it is all over or it is all about to begin. Sometimes it is hard to tell which one is happening. Life and love, they are always ending and beginning and circling and weaving us throughout this life.

Love is bigger now, stronger, more. The sparks don’t fly as freely. There are kids and arguments, parenting disagreements and issues and he hasn’t slept through the night in days and neither has he and our house is dirty, I am dirty. I run too much, he works too much. There is not enough “me time” or “us time” or time. It all flies by with such rapidity while the hands barely move. Time ticks on. Ten years and three kids later, I hear these words in a different light.

Three layers of sweat from three multiple runs and one good hike today coat my body in a sticky mess where bugs come to die. The sink is full of dirty dishes hovering in cold water, begging to be cleansed. Wet sopping clothes await my arrival downstairs in the washer. They have surely turned mildewy hours earlier after patiently and silently giving up on me. I can smell them from the floor above. Wait, maybe that is me. Either way, life is dirty. It is hard, it is messy but then the sparks fly, a song brings you back and just like that you remember to see how pretty the world is.. because it really is freaking pretty.

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Today we ran, we played hard at the park with friends and neighbors and dogs and about 50 tennis balls. We took a trip to the Discovery Cube, raced cars, learned about friction and wind and storms and weathering it out. Then afternoon came and I ran again but this time in a hard, punishing way just to feel something a little bit louder.

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We hiked, late into the night, saw the sunset, watched children climb on steep cliffs and jagged rocks, cringed and held our breath as they joyously rushed back down to earth, back to their Mamas.

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“Show me how pretty the world is, ’cause you’re brilliant when you try.” Kids show us in every movement, with every natural sway of their body on a mountain trail. They show us the beauty, remind us to live, to really live, to quit acting like we are adults and grown-ups rather than girls and boys just trying to see the beauty, trying to feel the sparks, the warm embrace of our first crush.

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The moments we dream of..

Long ago, many years before I became a mother, I dreamt of moments like these..

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This is what I envisioned motherhood to be. Kids playing happily, peacefully, quietly while I lied on the bed in the children’s room reading books. Today I am doing it.

It has been a long time coming. Heck, I have not finished a book of my own choosing in a solid 6 years. I miss it. I am a reader, a writer, a lover of words. Our tiny home is full of bookshelves, either built into the walls or scattered about – at least one in each room, holding hundreds of books. The books used to be mine, now they are theirs. My children are now the readers, the writers, the choosers of books, the lovers of words. I smile proudly thinking this is one of the best things I have passed on to them, or taught them — to cherish the written word.

Today, at 2:22pm, I find myself living a waking dream. I am lying on my 3 year old son’s bed, watching him and his 6 year old sister play silently. Quiet, calming music plays in the background, echoing throughout the peaceful home. One is asleep upstairs, the wild one. All is well. I stretch my tired legs out in front of me and smile as I flip the pages of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I am full. I am satisfied. I am happy. Just yesterday I ran a 3 minute personal record (“PR” in runner’s terms), to finish 10th female overall in a half-marathon. It ended on the beach, with my kids playing wildly in the sand. There was a playground. There were the best of friends, teammates, cheering me on, supporting me and loving me. Summer vacation is just days away. The sun is hot and air still cool. Life is pretty darn good in this moment.

“I am writing I love you to Mama. It is for your birthday and for you. I am writing it just for you. I love you, Mama,” comes from his little mouth as he scribbles with a yellow No. 2 pencil across a recycled florescent green 8×11 inch paper.

I am in a dream. I know this will pass, may never happen again. As I said, it has been a long time coming. I roughed the storm, payed my time, shouted too many times, cried in desperation after too many sleepless nights. Now, they are six and five and three and at night, we sleep. In the morning, the sun calls me to wake. I run with the dogs.

Now 2:32pm and he is screaming. The moment has passed, she is awake. Three kids are crying. It is gone. Just like that.. but I now, someday, maybe in another hour, or week or year, it will come again. I hold on. I keep going for moments like this. I keep dreaming…

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I am a mother, a runner, 31 years old, a teacher, a wife, a wild, loving, free being.

“I believe that imagination is more important than knowledge —

That myth is more potent than history.

That dreams are more powerful than facts —

That hope always triumphs over experience —

That laughter is the only cure for grief.

And I believe that love is stronger than death.”

— Robert Fulghum, 2003, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

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Look Up

 

I think of this quote often. If you’re not doing what you absolutely love doing, what makes your heart soar, what makes your entire being explode with joy, then stop doing it and find your true purpose. What is my true purpose?

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Heck, I don’t know! Well, that’s what this whole life thing is about, right? These years we have here, they’re for finding that purpose, for exploring, creating, searching, sharing, loving. Live with passion and you will find it.

While I may not have discovered my true purpose yet, I do know what I love. I love running, I love kids, I love playing, I love teaching and exploring and watching little minds unfold and discover and be amazed. Today, I started teaching and it was just such a happy day. This Monday, January 4th marked my very first day as a preschool teacher. I ran my two littles to preschool, dropped them on the playground with kisses and hugs and watched them sprint full speed to the tricycles, giggling with excitement. I turned the short corner and entered my classroom where I would soon greet eight 2-year-olds. Together we would play, explore, learn, paint, make messes, laugh, cuddle, read.

The four hours with these little kids flew by and left me amazed and filled with passion. That’s what it’s all about. Then I picked up my own two children from their own classrooms, re-loaded them into the double Bob and ran our way home, smiling and sharing stories from our day.

We kept the storytelling going at home, and spent the afternoon painting sunsets, talking about beauty and passion. The kids have been a bit obsessed with sunsets lately. The pink sky leaves them speechless, they appreciate the simple and stunning beauty that can be found by simply.. looking up. So at 4:00pm, the “magic hour” for our Los Angeles sky, I loaded up the stroller with a 4 and 2 year old, tied two dogs to various parts of my body, laced up running shoes for an eager 6 year old and ran up to the trail to simply look up. Looking up, it never disappoints. Tonight, the sunset did not either.

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Find your purpose, love what you do and be happy. Life is too short for anything else. Chase the sunsets, take pictures, watch kids run, run with them. Look up.

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Back to Work!

Exactly five years ago to date, I completed my Masters Degree in Physiological Science from UCLA. I spent five hours running around campus on December 10, 2010 with my first and only at the time, Adara, in a little umbrella stroller retrieving signatures and stamps all to file my thesis. For two years prior to December 10, 2010, I studied upper level graduate courses in Neuroscience learning about Neural Development, fly physiology as a model for human brain deterioration, learning and behavior and conducted my thesis experiment over a course of 24 months intaking data as a paid Staff Research Assistant in a very successful lab at UCLA headed by Dr. Robert Bilder. Looking back now as a mother of three, sitting here typing with two dogs at my feet, a kitchen sink full of dishes, art projects galore and adorned in dirty running clothes, it was all very fancy. Even the title of my thesis was quite fancy: “Impulsivity as a Multidimensional Construct in Smoking Behavior.”

Needless to say, I have not employed proper use of my thesis, long-time study of addiction and impulsivity nor upper level courses in Neurscience and Physiology in the past five years. But how could I? I have been busy raising children. It was a choice, as is everything in life. On December 10, 2010, after filing my thesis and receiving my final stamp of approval to graduate with a Master’s Degree, I stepped out of the workforce and out of the education system.

I was done. I had children to raise, a family to care for and so much to do.

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Today, on December 10, 2015, I re-enter the workforce, re-enter the education system. With three kids, plus one additional child I care for 2 days/week, two dogs, a husband starting his own business and a handful of marathon and distance trail races I hope to be competitive in over the next couple of months, I will once again become a “work-outside-the-home plus full time Mama.”

I am thrilled. I am scared, nervous and unsure exactly how all the pieces will fit together, but I know they will. Long hours are ahead. It may mean running at 4am or 8pm, more squeezing, more maneuvering. I am already fatigued and exhausted, but that’s okay. I’m happy and my heart is full.

After winter break, I will begin teaching preschool at the local nursery school in which my own children attend. We have been there since Adara was 1 and began Mommy & Me in January of 2010. It is such a loving, nurturing place full of well-educated, intelligent and inspiring teachers, mothers, fathers, families and staff. And that is why I ultimately decided to re-enter the work force.

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Nearly two weeks ago, horrific events filled our newsfeed and our country as yet another shooting occurred. This one hit closer to home. It occurred closer to home — in San Bernadino County, just miles from where I attended college. That evening, as my heart wept for the victims, the families involved and for all the children growing up in a world where shootings were becoming commonplace, I find myself asking, “What can I do?” “How can I make this world a better place?” Just then, a friend sent me this:

This, I can do this. I was moved, inspired. In that moment, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I can love, I can share that love with my own family but still I can do more and I feel called to do more — I can share it with children as a teacher.

As our Pastor said at church this past Sunday, “It takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to fail a child.” Let us not be that village. My children and myself have been so blessed to be surrounded by loving, caring people who support and inspire them to do more, to give more. Now it is my time to give more, to teach and love more children, to spread the message that we are all special, important and loved.

Wish me luck — I’ll need it! : )

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Speed Play

Happy Post-Thanksgiving! It was a wonderful holiday, memorable 3rd Annual Downtown LA Turkey Trot for our family and all around amazing day of thanks. A few of my absolute favorite moments from the day:

  1. Listening to my 2-year-old son say repeatedly in his cute little voice, “I sanksul sor my Mama, I sanksul sor my Daddy, I sanksul sor my . . . ” and really feeling like they GOT the message, understood the holiday and truly felt thanks for this wonderful life.
  2. Listening to my 4-year-old daughter shout, “Go, Daddy, Go!” repeatedly during the final half mile of the Turkey Trot where I joined them after finishing the race myself. (Daddy was a bit slower than Mama again this year as he took on the role of pushing the triple stroller so I could go run my heart out.. another thing for which I am thankful).
  3. Watching neighborhood kids play hide-and-seek into the dark on Thanksgiving night post-dinner while adults sat huddled together sipping on delicious adult beverages and sharing stories, memories and laughs.

And now onto running talk…

2015 was a year of transformation of sorts for me as a runner. It was the first year of my running career (which has spanned over 16 years now) where I transitioned to a true long distance runner, a marathoner. I ran just one full marathon in 2015 – the Mountains2Beach Marathon in Ojai back in May, in 3:12. I never imagined I could run that fast for 26.2 miles. I dreamt it, I fought for it, I trained my butt off for it, but still I didn’t know I had it within me. Running so “fast” (for me, it’s all relative, I know), was very empowering and built a lot of confidence within.

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Over the next few months I went on to win some trail races, run PR’s and really just have a blast playing in the mountains with my kids, my dogs and my own two legs. Running continues to be the ultimate expression of play for me. I seek it for calm, peace and strength. In fact, I have been running consistently more (hence leading to higher mileage, averaging 60/week) for many months more. Running makes me happy.

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With all the long distance running, however, I have definitely noticed that over the past several months or year perhaps, my speed was dwindling. I have always had a strong finishing kick, until this past Fall. Running XC with my team, the New Basin Blues, I just didn’t feel any true speed or fast muscle twitching going on. It was as if all this running had sapped the kick, the freshness out of my legs. They say “Hills are speed work in disguise” and man do I run a lot of hills, but still all this mountain running has left me feeling sluggish when it comes to that final kick.

Overall, my fitness is near it’s peak. On Thanksgiving I ran 21:33 over a 3.6 mile course with some decent hills thrown in it, which means my average pace was 6:00 flat/mile and my 5K time was between 18:30-18:40. That’s actually quite fast for me, so I can’t really say I feel slow. But I did lack a finishing kick.

In the next month and then new year ahead, one of my goals is to really work on my speed again, while training for the L.A. Marathon. How can I possibly squeeze in even more running amidst this busy life of child-raising and puppy training and everything else that consumes me? That is always the question running through my brain. How can I squeeze in more?

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Yesterday I took the kids up to the grassy field, a short hike from our house with an old run down playground and some dumped/recycled play houses neighbors put up there when their kids had outgrown them. My kids love it up there. It’s wild, it’s free and they can behave just the same — wild and free. As I stood there watching them happily play in their own imaginary world as 6, 4, and 2 year olds, I realized there was absolutely nothing they needed from me. Heck, really they just wanted space, freedom and quiet to carry out pretend play.

It was beautiful. I watched and listened for some time, then I ran. It occurred to me that I could do some 100 m uphill sprints while they played. They would be in my plain sight all the while and I could get something done. C’mon, I’m a busy Mama, I always need to be “getting something done!” And so for the next 30 minutes or so, I engaged in my own sort of play: 20 x 100m sprints, all-out, with jog/walk recoveries on the way down.

It was awesome! The kids played while I tried to chase my dwindling speed, pulling it out of my fibers, from deep down within, remembering what it felt like to be fast, to be young. As we walked back home from play-time yesterday morning, our hearts were all smiling. Play will do that to you. Kids will do that to you. Running will do that to you. For all three, I am so thankful.

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Give Until It Hurts

In this season of Thanksgiving and as we approach the end of another calendar year, I find myself reflecting (upon the trails, per usual), on what it means to give and how I can give. I have realized recently that I live by the motto, “Give until it hurts.” I find myself continually and consistently in self-reflection asking, “Can I give more? Can I do more? Can I take on more?”

Most often the answer is a bold: YES! I take on more, I overfill my plate, my minivan, my heart even until it all explodes like a giant balloon with one load and sudden puff. I become overwhelmed, over-stressed, then I run more, reflect more and realize that I can handle this. I was made to do this. I was made to love, to share, the help. My heart can expand, grow and squeeze in more. I can do this.

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Two happy pups nearing the end of a run in the mountains.

A friend mentioned to me a few weeks back in conversation that he finds despair in humanity. I didn’t say much in response, mainly out respect. I held my tongue and chose to ruminate on it for a bit. I thought of a response while running on the trails this morning. “Perhaps you aren’t giving enough or are looking in the wrong places. I have found in my life that the more I give, the more I trust, the more I get back — sometimes not right at first, sometimes not for a while, but eventually, it comes back to you. Fear not in humanity but rather seek out the good in humanity. See the good, and better yet, BE the good.”

I do not think that life is out to get us. Yes, life is hard. Life hurts, the days are long and challenging and many times all I can do is let out a great big sigh and a good long cry. But we can do this. We can all do this and it’s hard for all of us for a million various and sufficiently good reasons, so just lend a hand. Share. Rescue a dog, give a life, make someone’s day better, say YES, stretch yourself and give until it hurts.

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This is happiness.

Find what makes you happy and share it. In fact, one of the very best things I think we can do in this life is to find what makes us happy beyond all belief, what fills our heart with the most joy and the brightest light and share it.

“There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world
Take your candle, and go light your world
Frustrated brother, see how he’s tried to
Light his own candle some other way
See now your sister, she’s been robbed and lied to
Still holds a candle without a flame
So Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world.”

– Chris Rice, Go Light Your World

Stop hiding your candle, pushing away your talents. This Thanksgiving, ask yourself: “What more can I give, How much more do I have, How can I help?” Amaze even yourself. You are so capable, powerful beyond belief.

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For me, running is my happiness, my escape and my passion. So I adopted two rescue dogs — one nearly a year ago, and one a mere two weeks ago — and we run together. I remember thinking a few years ago how wasteful my time running was becoming. I mean, I got a lot out of it but did I really need to be out there for 1-2 hours every single day when there was so much else to be doing? “How can I make it even more meaningful, more purposeful?” I asked myself. Running with dogs was the answer. All I really wanted to be doing on my mornings alone while the kids were at school, or on my days with the kids at home for that matter, was running and a dog could enjoy that time with us just as much. At once we saved a dog (now two) and have given them a beautiful life with running in it.

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I have three kids and two puppies and babysit another young girl 2-3 days each week and all because I CAN. The heart can stretch, love can grow and I am capable. WE are capable. What more can we give? How can we help? It is up to us to improve humanity, to seek out the good, to BE THE GOOD.

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Some very good, and very fun people pictured here from last Thanksgiving’s Annual Turkey Trot.

Happy Thanksgiving! I will now step down from my pedestal — ha, I don’t mean to be preachy but rather to share, to share my vision, my inspiration, and hopefully to share some good. Thanks. : )

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Life and It’s Surprises!

A few days ago I wrote about the wonderful surprises that life brings us. Today, we were blessed with yet another..

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            Welcome to our crazy family, Mischa!

We were not looking for an eighth member, a third pet or a second dog, but it just kind of happened. That’s what I told Alan in China via Skype tonight.. “We have a new dog, honey, it just kind of happened!” No, in all seriousness, though, this dog came into our lives on Friday as our two year old son’s preschool teacher needed to find her a new home. I’m a sucker when it comes to dogs, or kids, or soft, loving, innocent creatures. I invite them into our home and beg them to stay.

So does she…

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And he…

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Amused by their silly playful behaviors, AND carefully guarding his breakfast.

It was a whirlwind of a day, this Monday. We woke to a puppy being delivered at our doorstep for “just a playdate.” Two hours later, a heartbroken owner sad to give up her baby but knowing it was the right decision, told us she could stay a little bit longer. She is now sleeping in between Isaac’s toddler bed and Cesia/Adara’s bunk beds. Curled up and cozy, she dreams innocent puppy dreams and I smile thinking how much I loved this day.

A morning run with Clover and two kids in the Double Bob led to an impromptu backyard tea party complete with pretend pizza and cake and other goodies all while two pups ran in furious circles around us. We followed that up with an afternoon run to drop off Cesia at her Halloween Craft Class at preschool, then ran back home to check on the pups and simultaneously lull the littlest to sleep via stroller, watched dogs play and chase some more, then ran back to preschool to pick up Cesia, then straight to the park for some rare park-time play (I can’t typically handle parks, I’m over them, spent too much time with Adara there back in the day.. but today was wonderful and perfect and we had the park all to ourselves). Then we ran a few blocks to pick up big sister and friend from 1st grade, then watched as four little ones ran up and over the big hill and 1/2 a mile or so to get back to the church/preschool laughing all the while for an afternoon Musical Theater class, then ran 1 final time to retrieve the car and retrieve the kids and EAT and smile and laugh and bathe and read bedtime stories to three sleepy kids and two very sleepy dogs.

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It was a good day to be a dog, or a kid, or a Mama in this family.

 

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Never Give Up

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I had not planned to write tonight. A sink full of bubbly dishes await me, school lunches need to be made, laundry needs folding and the dog could use some attention. We are on Day 4 of 10 with Alan out of the country. We are surviving, doing well, I like to think. The days are as long as ever, more demands are passed on to me and I am doing my best to stay patient at the end of a 14 hr day with three kids to call me “Mama.”

I had planned to do my chores and head to bed.

Then I saw a photo of the kids two years ago at Underwood Family Farms — which by the way hosts the most magnificent Fall Harvest Festival complete with acres of pumpkins, hay rides, labyrinth’s, games, story mazes, animal petting, pony rides, carmel apples for sale, and just about every other thing that says “Fall” and elicits magical childhood memories of how Halloween and October should be spent.

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All wonderful aspects of Underwood’s Festival aside, this photo reminded me that life is wild. It is full of twists and turns and surprises. What is life without surprise? Further, what can we learn from these surprises? What can we learn from this life at all?

For me, one of the greatest lessons I have learned over the past two years has been summed up by three simple words: Never Give Up. And why? Because you never know where life is about to take you. You never know what is waiting just around the corner, or how the next moment will change your life so profoundly that you wondered how you missed it or didn’t guess it all along.

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We like to think we have perfect control over our lives. We make 1 and 5 and 10-year plans. We schedule and conceive. Then life happens, as it does. We find inspiration, or lack thereof, and change our course.

At the end of 2014, my husband left his job at a well-paying, recognized and very successful research lab in Malibu. He had an ocean view, a 20 minute commute via sports car through some of the most beautiful canyons on this planet. He was twice (and unprecedentedly) named Distinguished Inventor of the Year, awarded to just ONE employee each year at the research facility. His career had not yet peaked. Then he left. He had an idea. He was inspired. He took a risk.

It has been over ten months that he is without a job and without an income. We are a family of five, both with higher degrees in education (he has a PhD and I sit with a M.S.), and we are struggling financially. Life is a wild ride — a grand adventure.

His idea may be great. We are hopeful. Excitement is brewing, but only time will tell. He has the potential to forever change the field of podiatry and orthotics, and help millions. Perhaps it will all be a tremendous success and we will reflect ten years from now on the intuition he felt when deciding to quit his job and how we knew it would be wonderful. Or perhaps it will be a great flop, a failure.

What I am learning is that either way, it will have been great. Life has a funny way of keeping you guessing, stretching you and your dreams. The mystery inspires me and reminds me again to Never Give Up.

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Twelve years ago, a Ob-Gyn told me I would never be able to conceive. Having suffered from female athlete triad syndrome from about the age of 14-22, I had severely altered my hormone levels, screwed with my bone mineral density, was diagnosed with osteopenia (borderline osteoporosis) and perhaps irreversibly destroyed my reproductive capability. I was young, consequences meant little but a future without my own children was devastating.

Something within me began to change. It was not sudden, it did not happen over night, but I grew healthier, I learned self-respect and love. And then eventually, I learned to share that respect and love with others. I met Alan and immediately wanted to be my very best self. Love is powerful.

A&C Cycling
Back in the day.. long before kids, during my brief stint of competitive cycling while healing from running injuries.

So what does this have to do with that picture of my child at Underwood Farms back in 2013? Well out of that love, she grew. And on that day in 2013, I had walked out of the doctor’s office with a diagnosis of a calcaneous stress fracture. After a few final heart breaking years of collegiate running and suffering repeated stress fractures, I had succumbed to the fact that my bones were brittle, my body done. Running was no longer in my cards. The problem was that running was still my greatest passion, and I could feel that deeper in my bones than any fracture could ever reach.

Having given myself over five years to fully recover both mentally and physically from the demands of competitive running, I had finally returned that Fall. I felt so ready, so strong, so inspired, until.. I didn’t. The pain in my foot was too familiar and even before the official diagnosis, I knew exactly what had happened. Once again, my osteopenic bones had cracked. My body had failed. I knew it, the doctor knew it. I was done, but still how could I go on without running in my life.

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It was raining, really raining (which was rare for this drought-stricken state), the skies were ominous and all I wanted to do was shut out the world. But I was a mother, I had three little ones who needed me with all their soul. “Meet at Underwood Farm at noon?” a dear friend’s text came through. “It’s raining, we’re heading home,” I replied from the doctor’s parking office, which I had just schlepped my children to along side me, not having any help and with Alan out of town. Then another text came through: “Pepper says we can catch all the rain drops with our tongues. Meet us there!”

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I pressed the gas and drove 30 miles to the Farm, in the pouring rain, on my sore foot and broken heart. Four hours later, as I loaded the kids into the car and drove home with cheeks aching from laughter, a full heart, overloaded memory card, and the best friends and family in the world by my side, I knew it was all very simple: Never Give Up.

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Isaac (9 months old) and me after a healing day at Underwood Farms.

Two years later, more supportive shoes (thank you, Hoka) and I am the strongest version of myself. This is definitely not the life I had imagined for myself, nor the one any doctor predicted. I am a mother of three beautiful babies, I am healthy, fast (and whenever I say fast, know that it’s all relative but for me in this moment, I am fast), fit and happy. You never know what life is going to throw at you.  You never know when you are about to get pummeled, trampled upon, left disheveled and heartbroken peeling yourself like grape gum off the ground, but if you follow those three simple words, you learn that it really doesn’t matter because life goes on, the sun comes up and everything works out just as it’s meant to be. Never Give Up.

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Post-race high picture. So lucky to have this life and these kids.
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