Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thank You Christmas

 I love Christmas – the decorations, the tree, the gifts, the baking, the special meals, the surprises for people, the Carole's – I love it all. It’s truly my favorite time of the year. I even love the cold weather. Besides the trails I would say my kitchen is my second home. I love to cook and bake, and make things from scratch. It warms my heart, is a huge passion of mine, and one of the ways I show my love to those around me. 
I have friends that don’t really like Christmas all that much. I mean, sure they like it because we are celebrating Christ’s birth, but they don’t like all the other things that I so love. It got me thinking about why I love everything about the Christmas season, and really think its important to point this stuff out. I am incredibly spiritual. I don't wear it on my sleeve, but God has a huge place in our home. Putting that aside though Christmas to me is allot more than just that. After all everyday is a gift to be celebrated, and I wanted to share these thoughts with all of you during this blessed season. 
I know it has its roots in my growing up years. Every year as a family we would go shopping together for the Christmas tree. We always wanted to find the perfect one, and we came close! We had a beautiful tree every year. We’d come home and and decorate it for hours. Of course my mom always had special baked/cooked treats to eat while we did that. Then on another day, my mom, sister, and I would put up outside lights or decorations. We had a two story house, and we got ladders out so we could decorate both levels. It wasn’t anything fancy, but those bright, colored lights were so beautiful to me because I had helped put them up. I treasure the memories of us doing these things together every Christmas. Any other time of the year we just didn't really spend anytime together. There was so much turmoil and toxic icky stuff going on in the house because of my step dad that Christmas was really the only time of year things were peaceful. Thank you Christmas :)
Every year my Mom said he couldn’t afford any gifts, and every year she would take my sister and I Christmas shopping. She had been tucking money away,  and we always got lots of great new clothes.  The three of us would always go out to lunch after, and it truly was a very special day for us. My mom was not the best mom to say the least so this day always stays in my mind as really special. Due to the holiday we were able to spend this day together, and create memories that will last forever. My mom has since passed(2009) from multiple causes all related to years of abuse with alcohol and prescription pills. I am so happy I have these good memories of her. Thank you Christmas. :)
My Step dad was a product of his generation – one that had a hard time showing emotion and expressing feelings, and was incredibly mean.  I think Christmas is when I really saw my Stepdad’s heart and came to know who he was inside. I treasured that! It literally was the only time of year he was nice to me. I am not sure why, but Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I never remember him even raising his voice. Strange, but true. If it wasn't for the holiday season I would have never been given that gift. Thank you Christmas. :)
Close to Christmas we usually had a family dinner where we would go to my Grandma's. ……and sometimes others who lived further away would come in. I often joke and say my family talked a lot but didn’t say much. We talked about everything, but rarely was it “heart” stuff. Except at Christmas……and then it seemed that people opened up more and shared their hearts. This was another treasure for me. I have so many fond memories of hanging out with my Uncle David and his kids (we never saw them otherwise). After Christmas dinner he would tell us really cool ghost stories, and we would all hang around the fire and eat my Grandma;s homemade chocolate raspberry bunt cake. God that woman could make a bunt cake. Thank you Christmas :)
My mom never had a lot, but she shared everything she had – all the time, but especially at Christmas. She cooked and baked up a storm! She was such a great cook(thank you Mom).  My friends loved to come to my house and sample it all!  My family wasn’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of extra either. My mother gave out of her gifts and talents because she had such a generous spirit. She was an incredibly giving woman, and would make these amazing over the top Christmas Eve dinners. We would all sit down together as a family, and no one would yell or fight. It was great, and I treasure that memory so much. She would go all out and decorate our entire house for the holiday. It was always so beautiful, and has inspired me every year to do the same. I love to decorate my house for the Holiday. Its important as it continues on the values and traditions I learned as a child. Thank you Christmas. :)
As parents, we want to establish family traditions and make memories that our children can take with them all their lives. I have those special memories tucked away in my heart……..and they help make Christmas so very special to me. I love it! I have made a hard effort to do that with my son, and in our house Christmas is extremely special and important. Why? Because everyday is a gift, and the days we make memories are the best gifts. The holiday season is about making memories. It forces you to meet up with friends at parties you wouldn't normally attend, see relatives you never talk to at all, and connect with people that otherwise are absent in our lives. This is key. If it wasn't for the holidays when would we ever make an effort to see Aunt Julie or actually sit down at a dinner table with our parents. One day each one of us will be gone. That is just the facts. Stop for a minute and think about that. As time passes and passes what we have that no one can ever take away are memories. How lucky we are that we have a holiday that forces us to create those memories. As silly as it sounds its wonderful. Its a time of year to meet with a friend for coffee that maybe you have not seen in a while, send a box of great gifts to your nieces and nephews (so fun to give!) and overall its just a wonderful time of year to celebrate life....because in the end everyday is a gift, and Christmas is a wonderful way to celebrate life and make memories that will last a lifetime. So eat that extra cookie, go out for a fun run these next few days with friends, and maybe show up with a little gift. Rejoice in the holiday, and say thank you Christmas!! Of course I will leave this post from one of the best scenes in my favorite movies of all time...and YES we will watch this on Christmas Eve in our house. Its a tradition along with homemade pecan pie and truffles..... Thank you to the movie Elf! You always make me laugh so hard and fill life with joy!

Santa: I've been to New York thousands of times.
Buddy: Really?
Santa: Mm-hmm.
Buddy: What's it like?
Santa: Well, there are some things you should know. First off, you see gum on the street, leave it there. It isn't free candy.
Buddy: Oh.
Santa: Second, there are, like, thirty Ray's Pizzas. They all claim to be the original. But the real one's on 11th. And if you see a sign that says "Peep Show", that doesn't mean that they're letting you look at the new toys before Christmas. 

O come, O come Emmanuel….”God with us.” Matt. 1:23

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Believe in yourself ~

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured.”
―Gordon B. Hinckley

I am sure many people were thinking this post would be a race recap from Chimera 100 Mile. Its not. I raced, I won(YIPPIE!!), it was hard, and I came in sixth overall. The course was a few miles longer than previous years, and to date was the toughest hundred I have ever done. It was incredibly well organized, and if you like 20++ hours of self punishment then sign up for this hundred. In my opinion it was significantly harder than the Angeles Crest 100 mile. Seriously. Thank god for my kick ass Patagonia gear. It was freezing temps at night, and overall the cold was never an issue. I was prepared, well trained, and got through it. Enough said. This race is the real deal. Tough as Heck. One and done for me! With that being said I felt like I needed to get something up that was a little more inspiring than just another race recap. Looking forward to a new year, and felt like this post was a great way to end 2013. I love my life so much. I love my job, my man, my son, and all the awesome components that make up my awesome life. I hope I can spread the inspiration, and add a little encouragement to you life through my blog. Have an amazing Holiday my friends, and don't forget to celebrate life!!! 
Life is short. I am very good at ignoring what should be ignored. You will never see me getting caught up in other people's crap. My life is to filled and busy to worry about what issues other people have going on. What you gossip about, have issues with, or are negatively stuck on does not and will not effect my incredible great life. I CHOOSE THAT. Period. Now hopefully this will inspire you all to do the same.....

The president and co-founder of an amazing local charity in our area is a 38-year-old musician and tattoo artist who’s covered from head to toe with tattoos and piercings, and has long brown dreadlocks that dangle below his waistline.  He’s been running the charity since he was 20 and has helped hundreds of people get back on their feet, including a woman I know personally who is now a successful entrepreneur.
I just had a short, inspiring conversation with this unlikely hero yesterday, and now I’m sitting here thinking about the dozens of happy, successful people I know like him who ignore stereotypes, negativity, and naysayers, and go against the grain to make a difference by doing things their own way… the right way.
And following in their footsteps isn’t hard either; you just have to start ignoring…

1.  Other people’s judgments.

It’s OK to listen to others, but not at the full expense of your own intuition.  Throughout your life there will be many times when the world gets real quiet and the only thing left is the beat of your own heart.  So you’d better learn the sound of it, otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s telling you.
When you spend too much time concentrating on everyone else’s perception of you, or who everyone else wants you to be, you eventually forget who you truly are.  So don’t fear the judgments of others; you know in your heart who you are and what’s true to you.  You don’t have to be someone else to impress and inspire people.  Let them be impressed and inspired by the real YOU.  Honestly, what does life matter if you lose yourself along the way?  Even your mentors should teach you HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  So if someone – anyone – is belittling your truth, it might be time to turn the other way.

2.  Old troubles from the past.

You can’t change what has already happened, so choose to look ahead instead of behind you.  Don’t stress.  Do your best.  Forget the rest.  Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you.  Life is a beautiful circle.  You’re strong because you know your weaknesses.  You’re wise because you’ve been foolish.  You can laugh now because you’ve known sadness.
It’s crazy how you always end up where you’re meant to be – how even the most tragic and stressful situations eventually teach you important lessons that you never dreamed you were going to learn.  Remember, oftentimes when things are falling apart, they are actually falling into place.  Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday.  Everything is going to be come together – maybe not today, but eventually.  

3.  Each day’s little frustrations.

A bad day is just a bad day.  It comes and it goes.  Choose not to make it anything more.  You will find that it’s necessary to let some things go simply for the reason that they’re heavy on your heart and soul.  Go ahead and let go of them.  Don’t clamp shackles to your own ankles.  It’s incredibly easy to enjoy more of your life right now, no matter what the situation.  It’s just a matter of dropping of the layers of nonsense that are weighing you down.
Behind every beautiful day, there has been some kind of struggle.  You fall, you rise, you make mistakes, you live, you learn.  You’re human, not perfect.  You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive.  Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive today – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to chase the things you love.  Sometimes there is sadness in your journey, but there is also lots of beauty.  You must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when it hurts, for you will never know what is waiting for you just around the bend.
Follow this daily to-do list and you’ll be just fine:
  1. Think positively.
  2. Eat healthy.
  3. Exercise today.
  4. Worry less.
  5. Work hard.
  6. Laugh often.
  7. Sleep well.

4.  The necessary pain of hard work and growth.

There are two types of pain in life: pain that hurts you, and pain that changes you.  But when you learn from it, they are one and the same.  If you want something, you must endure the pain of working for it.  It’s that simple.  If you’re not where you want to be right now, take the time to visualize yourself in the place you want to be and take the first step in that direction.  You may not be able to change your destination in a day, but you can change your direction right now. 
Remember, strength doesn’t come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you couldn’t.  Tough situations build strong, successful people.  No matter how much it hurts now, you have to hold your head up, grit your teeth, and keep going.  In the end, consistent action speaks for itself.  So focus diligently, work hard in silence, and let your success be your noise.

5.  Insignificant busywork.

In the beginning, you need to say “yes” to a lot of things to discover and establish your goals.  Later on, you need to say “no” to a lot of things and concentrate on your goals.  Stop over-committing and trying to do too much at once.  Start saying “no” more often.  If you never say “no,” you will take on too much and all you will achieve is stress and frustration.
As Bruce Lee once said, “It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease.  Hack away at the inessentials.”  Many of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.  Don’t be one of them.  It’s not what we claim are our priorities, but how we spend our time each day that reveals the truth.  Let your daily actions reflect your highest priorities. 

6.  Impatient thoughts.

Patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.  It’s the willingness to stay focused, confidently staking one small step at a time, knowing that the way you move a mountain is by moving one stone at a time.  Every stone you move, no matter how small, is progress.
Whether you are working on improving your health, learning a new skill, or getting a business venture off the ground, you can’t expect instant gratification.  Instead, you must dedicate yourself to the best of your ability and understand that real change takes time.  Sometimes it may be hard to see your progress.  Sometimes it will be frustrating when the results you seek don’t appear as quickly as you had hoped.  Still, you are advancing.  Hang in there.  You may be moving things along slowly, but you are still moving a mountain.

7.  The things that can’t be controlled.

Never force anything.  Do your best, then let it be.  If it’s meant to be, it will be.  Don’t hold yourself down with things you can’t control.  Stop talking about the problem and start thinking about the solution.  Forget what could go wrong for a sec and think of what is already right. 
Remember, change happens for a reason.  Roll with it.  It won’t be ideal or easy at first, but it will be worth it in the end.  When times are good and everything is comfortably in order, it’s easy to become complacent and forget how skillful and resourceful you are capable of being.  Unanticipated troubles are necessary evils that push you forward, because they eventually end, but the lessons and growth you gain from them last a lifetime.

8.  Unfounded fears.

Life is about overcoming fear and taking risks.  If you don’t take risks, you won’t know what you’re capable of.  If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.  Truth be told, nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.  Now is the time to expand your comfort zone so you can experience things and understand more… so that you may fear less in the long run.
The reality, of course, is we all get afraid sometimes.  It’s not about not being afraid, but what you do when you feel that way.  When you feel doubt, or fear, or anxiety, or frustration, know that you can let it go just as surely as you can pull your hand away from a flame.  Keep your mind focused on the goodness, on the possibilities and on your most treasured goals.  What begins in your mind ends up in your life.  Think continually of the way you would like to be, let these thoughts drive your actions, and your reality will reliably catch up with your thinking.  

9.  The most important on this list.... 

Believe in yourself through tough times.  Believe in your capacity to succeed.  Believe that your relationships are worth the effort.  Believe that people make mistakes on their way to greatness.  Believe that people can be foolish and intelligent, selfish and generous, and stressed and happy all at once.  Believe that very few people hurt others on purpose.  Believe that there are many roads to what’s right.  Believe in your intuition, especially when you have to choose between two good paths.  Believe that the answers are out there waiting.  Believe that life will surprise you again and again.  Believe that the journey is the destination.  Believe that it’s all worth your while.
Or as Roald Dahl once said, “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Thank you to the internet(Andy) for the inspiration from this post. :)