Friday, 9 October 2015

Why are you crying?

Ryan walked into the kitchen as I was clutching my phone and trying to show him the screen. My eyes were teary. 

"What is going on?"

As I explained, my teary eyes turned into full on sobbing. "Someone gave $70. I posted on Facebook that I had $231 of the $300 goal just a little while ago (less than an hour). Someone donated the money. I'm blown away." More tears. 

"Why are you crying?" 

"Because it is so amazing!"

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the Bull City Race Fest team and Durham Habitat for humanity inviting me to raise $300 for habitat. Right away it felt like something that I needed to do. Habitat is a great organization. In college, I went on a spring break trip to help build homes in Florida. It was amazing. I looked on the Durham Habitat website where there were videos of people getting their homes and people helping to build them. There was also a great gallery of before and after pictures of house rehabs. How neat that they redo homes too! 

I was sold on the idea of fundraising for it, but nervous about the success that I would have getting to the $300 mark. I felt like God was asking me to trust him that it would work out. I would do my part, he would make it work. Trust is not an easy thing. 

It is humbling, exciting, amazing, and a little overwhelming (in a good way) that the $300 goal was reached. I am so thankful for everyone who gave money towards it. Wow and thank you! Each time someone gave any money, I would get an email about it. It was wonderful to see the generosity of people. I am honored to get to be a part of it. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lung Strong

I ran a 15k last Sunday. It's been months since running a race and so I was a mixture of slight worry and curious about how I would do. Thankfully, 15k is a bit over 9 miles, not the 13 ish of a half marathon.

It has been raining here all week and most of last week too. So, Sunday morning, it was raining lightly. I left my house later than I wanted to, got close to the start and managed to find a perfect parking spot not too far away. I walked to the start in time to hear an announcement that the race would be delayed 15 minutes for the weather. A few of us chuckled a bit. It had been raining and would be raining, why delay? I'm sure there was some reason, but it is a little bit funny.

Races are a lot of fun because of the people around. There are great people running it, wonderful volunteers and interesting vendors.  It's instant community in a way because everyone is there together and there is common experience. You chat to people beforehand

Towards the end of the race, I was getting tired. I cheered with the volunteers. I cheer at them, they cheer back or vice versa. It is fun, breaks up monotony, and gets my head off of being tired. Close to the end, there was a large hill. Ew! In my mind, the end had to be close. Finally, a runner just behind me yelled, "The finish is just around the corner, run faster!" So I ran faster. I am really thankful for that encouragement because I had no idea that we were that close to the finish. There was a turn and then the end so when he said it, you could not yet see the finish.

I hope that I am an encouragement to others who are running the race. Before the race, there are many people to say good luck to and chat about the race. During the race, I say good job to people who pass who or people that I pass. I cheer at the people on the sidelines. They cheer back. I also hope that my cheering maybe gives them a bit more energy to give to someone else who needs it.

Ryan was at the finish line taking a photo. It is really nice to have him there to say good job and to walk around with afterwards. I appreciate the support!

We had to wait a bit to see if I placed in my age group, and I did! During the run, I really have no idea how many people are ahead of me. It is fun to see the results sheets as they get printed. I look at my time, count women in my age group and try to get a sense of the placement. I get lucky because women in my age group usually win the race, which means that I place higher in the age group that I would otherwise. Yay!

A little over three weeks until the next race.....

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Running, Encouragement, and Water

When you volunteer for things that you really enjoy, it almost does not seem like it should be called volunteering anymore. Enjoying, being, helping, participating. 

I especially enjoy volunteering at race events. I love the excitement as people check in and get ready. The energy in the air is wonderful and positive. People are meeting each other as they prepare for this event collectively. During the race, there is great community and encouragement as people pass each other. "Good job!" "You too!" "One more hill to go...." etc. There is great congratulations at the end as well as you talk through what you just went through together. It is neat.

Being the person who hands over the race bib is a great job. They are officially ready to go once they just pin it on. 

A few weeks ago, I got to help with a water stop. It was somewhere around 90 degrees and over two miles in on a trail run. What a great spot to be! What a need to get to help fill. It was fun giving the runners a bit of water (learning how to get splashed the least while handing it over) and some encouraging words as they climbed one of the hills in the run. 

Sometimes in my head, volunteering seems like duty or something hard. Really, if you find things you are passionate about, it is getting to help people. It is a "get to" not a "need to." I leave those times hoping the I helped someone and knowing that I enjoyed it. 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Being You

I like this a lot. Delight in potential. Be yourself. Be unique. Do things. 

Life can seem serious and involve trying to "figure things out". All too often, it is not possible to figure out the next step or the why behind the current circumstances. What you can do is live. Live like only you can. That does not even have to be big life changes or huge things. You like hiking, walking, running, being outside? Great, go do it! You like reading, drawing, doing a crossword, driving, chatting with a friend? Great, do that! And then do the next thing that comes of it too. 

And see what happens..... 

The life that you live will be dramatically you. You will glorify God in your uniqueness as you live it. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Running in the Wind

The wind started to pick up as I started my run yesterday. The trees swayed in the gusts. The leaves rustled. As I ran, the wind got stronger, the gusts were harder to run through. It started to sprinkle. After about half a mile, it started pouring. It was raining so hard that I had to wipe the drops from my eyes to see. The rain drops hurt a bit, maybe because of the wind blowing them at me. I was running into the wind. As I came to a bridge, there was another runner coming towards me. I would have made a joke about how he was running the right way because he was running with the wind. However, the wind was so loud that I don't think he would have heard me. I ran over the bridge and the wind swirled around me. It was amazing! What an experience to be in the middle of the wind and rain, running against but somehow a part of it! Our world is truly magical. Moments like that remind me of how big God is and how we get to be a part of his creation, of the power and wonder that it is. Awesome!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Race Community

I enjoy every race that I do. They have all been good and I have been glad to have done them. Something stuck out to me this past race. I have noticed it before, but I thought about it more this time. That thing is the community in a race together. It is such a neat experience that you do not know these people, yet there is a sense that you are all in it together. 

Before the race, people are stretching, walking, jogging, snacking, etc. As that happens, there are small conversations. "This is my first race." "Wow, great, hope it goes well." There is talk about the course. There is also a focus, concentration and seriousness in the air. There is a nervous energy, plus excitement all mixed together. There is more prepping; GPS watches coming to life, earbuds being put in, more stretching, walking, shaking out muscles to get ready.

The music gets louder. The announcer builds up to the start gun, and bang! We're off!

Runners take off. Usually, it there is a little wait to get past the start line, people walk up towards it and start the run. The crowd is thick. Runners weaving around each other. Then the line of runners starts to thin. I notice the people around me. Sometimes there are people to pass. Sometimes others pass you. The race continues. Up hills, down hills, past water stops. People are on the side of the course cheering. Police officers are directing the traffic to keep runners safe. The running continues. I check my GPS watch often, how is the pace? Several miles in, it's time for a snack. I had a Chocolate Honey Stinger pack, yum! More energy added, more miles to go. And then the finish line is in sight. In this race, I knew I was close to my record. When I saw the finish line, I ran as fast as I possibly could past it. I did it! PR by 15 seconds. 

As I walked around, I was greeted by some of the runners that I had been running near. What a neat feeling! "Great race!" said one lady. She finished a little before me. We agreed that after about 10 miles, we were ready for the race to be over. The course was a hilly one. There was a guy who said that he had been pacing off of me for the first 10 miles. Wow, I thought. I don't know what happened after that, either he slowed down or I did. We stood around drinking water, eating oranges and waiting for results. There were several conversations about the course, the hills, the timing. What fun!  There were physical therapists to stretch us out. Oh how I love those people at the end of a race!

Races are tiring. There are points when I wonder "what am I doing?" and "can I make it?" and "just keep going!". And yet when it is over, I don't really remember those parts. I remember the good parts. I remember that I finished. That the day was a good one. That the race was pretty, the volunteers were helpful, the course had people cheering. And I think about what race I can do next. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Making Almond Milk

I enjoy making things. That could mean crafts or food. There is something great about the temporary state and the experience when making food. It is making art that you get to experience. It also is good for the time and then gone. There is something special about the temporary nature of it, it's an experience, not a monument and it is enjoyable. 

I also like knowing what is in my food. Plus there is a sense of satisfaction, "I did that." Recently, I have started making almond milk. It turns out, it is pretty easy. (and tasty) 

I have gotten really excited about how easy almond milk is to make and have told many people about it. Since so many people have asked for the steps, I thought I would share them here. Ready?

1. Soak 1 cup almonds in water for at least 7 hours. 
2. Rinse them and drain the water.  

 3. Add 25 ounces of water, filtered perhaps, to the blender, then add your almonds. Blend for a little bit.

4. Pour the mixture through cheese cloth, a milk bag, or I use a thin white kitchen towel. Squeeze the almond pulp to get all of the milk.

5. That's it! I add some vanilla and put it in a jar in the fridge. It separates more than the store bought, so you may need to shake it. It lasts about 5 days or so. Sometimes, I make less by just adjusting the almonds/water amount but keeping the ratio.

I also have found use for the almond meal too. I use it on waffles, pancakes or salads. Also, I have made various muffins, cookies and bars that call for almond meal or almond flour. It seems to keep in the fridge for about a week also if you do not have time right away to use it. 

Almond Chocolate Pear muffins from Five and Spice were tasty. Almond Joy Protein Bar from My Whole Food Life was good too. In the almond joy bars, I used the almond meal instead of the cup of almonds. I did not use the hemp hearts. Enjoy!

I figured out the cost to making the almond milk versus buying it, it is not a cost savings, but it is fun, delicious, and is only almonds, water, and vanilla if you add it. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Making a Dress

I started making a dress. I bought the pattern months ago. I bought the material for a different project years ago (that I did not do) and my poor sewing machine had been in it's box since moving to North Carolina.

When I took the screws out of the arms that attach it to the cabinet, my mind told me "these are important! Put them somewhere safe." And I did put them somewhere safe because two years in, they are still in their hiding spot. I was able to call a sewing machine shop and order replacements.

I took some time off of work to jump start the project. It struck me that I have never followed a pattern without my grandma telling me what the next step is. I am pretty sure that she did the tricky stuff herself. Growing up, we would have sewing days with Grammy. A pattern was chosen and the project began. I loved those days. I am thankful for a grandma who is passionate about sewing. One of her life missions was to make sure we knew how to sew. She was appalled that we did not have to take sewing in school. But what do we need sewing in school for if we have her?

One Christmas, she bought all four of us girls sewing machines. Later on, she gave us another sewing machine, a Singer 401, her favorite. Then a cabinet to put it in. She did not like the first cabinet that I had, so I was given a replacement one with more drawers.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started this dress project. Grammy is much too far away at this point. My mom has been very helpful. I emailed her the zipper directions that made no sense. Yesterday, I ran up to the fabric store for a quick question because I was stuck. It turns out I just did not extend the seam all the way. Yay! I was on my way!

It is nerve wracking! I am practicing sewing and learning on my own. I supposed I am being an adult in my sewing now, trying to do it on my own. Oh man! Today, I sewed two pocket pieces to the wrong side of the fabric, which then meant that when I sewed the sides of the dress together, it was the wrong side too. And my first zipper attempt was a bust. Thanks to youtube for a quick tutorial, and a handy tiny seam ripper, I was on my way moving forward again.

I think ahead to my next project which will be smoother I hope. I also look forward to wearing this dress! It is going to be worth the effort. I am glad I am learning how to do this more. I was super proud of myself when I oiled the sewing machine. That seems like a responsible thing to do.  I did it!

There will have to be a trip to Michigan after this dress is done to show my mom and Grammy my handiwork!