Confessions: On Turning 28

Today is my 28th birthday. Ever since I turned 25, I have begrudgingly gotten older, panic setting in as I realize that I am hurdling toward my thirties and there is no turning back. As an example, I vividly remember a conversation with an old friend last year. They wished me a happy birthday and asked how my day was. My response? “Thanks. I’m okay… I just thought that I’d have my sh*t together by now.”

But this year is different. I am totally okay with 28. I feel that I have fully used my 27th year and am ready for the next adventures that God has for me. I want to celebrate this life that I was given!

As I reflect back on the last year of my life, I smile at that conversation. I had no idea of the wild ride that God had in store for me.

I am so incredibly grateful. Not that it was an easy year, by any means, but I (eventually) chose to be joyful. And I am so grateful for the blessings that came with all of the hard things.

Year 27 was a year filled with loss. Ben and I left the restaurant; we lost a great mentor and friend and closed the book on jobs, projects and relationships that meant a lot to us. I struggled with not feeling my best and not doing things that I enjoyed doing. Not gonna lie, the first few months of 27 were spent very angry, upset and feeling as though I could snap like a rubber band.

But then something changed. I surrendered. And I let go of the fear and the bitterness that I was holding onto. Life didn’t get any easier; I simply chose to be grateful for whatever good I could find. I sought contentment and it changed my life.

Because of that choice, year 27 was filled with blessings, renewal, strength and so much love! Looking back, I realize that these things never would have happened if I had not decided to find joy and to submit to God’s plan.

I am absolutely amazed and humbled by how much God has done in my life as a result. He has blessed my marriage, my career and my friendships. Everything! I’m not saying that I have it all figured out, and there are definitely hard days where I would rather choose a pity party than gratitude, but I am actively seeking Thanksgiving and Joy.

I took a chance to start a book club, and have seen so much growth, friendship and wisdom come out of this.

By clearing out our schedules, Ben and I were able to spend more time with another couple. As a result, Ben and Ashley are some of our closest friends and we can’t imagine doing life without them! We’ve been through a lot with these two and are so grateful for their friendship.

We were also able to spend more time together. This year, we were able to have dinner together almost every day. Before my 27th birthday, I don’t think we ever did that more than 1 night a week. We’ve been able to take walks, to try new things together, to read and just be together in comfortable silence. I know that it won’t necessarily be like this forever but I am so grateful for this season of life.

I also took risks. I left my comfortable, secure job and am trying something new. Every day is filled with new challenges but this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but it is not anything like I imagined it would be.

So, this year, instead of groaning at the thought of turning a year older, I am smiling. And I’m looking forward to what year 28 will bring. Because God has a plan.

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Gross But Necessary; And Then I Did Something Stupid

Hi Friends!

Another week has flown by and it was a good one! I had a “laser maze” evening with the kids at work and Farmer Ben and I celebrated 4 years of marriage. Thanks to all who called, texted, emailed and brought bottles of wine to celebrate!

I will admit, I didn’t get out the door as much as I would have liked, but sometimes spending an evening with your hubs and watching him make you an amazing dinner* (which will be continued this weekend) far outweighs needing to workout.

And then, on mornings like this one, we need to run. We need that time to be alone with God, to cry out to Him and to push ourselves…for Him. This morning’s run blew me away.

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Anyway, here we go!

Gross But Necessary-August 16-22: 

Sunday-Rest Day? I’m still trying to figure out how to get a workout in… And then I wonder if I should just call it a rest day. I can’t seem to get a handle on Sunday workouts because I’m busy with work. Any thoughts?

(Side note: We were also recovering from a super speedy trip to Mass the day before. No big deal.)

Monday-Afternoon Walk with Farmer Ben. We didn’t have a lot of time, but it was good to get some steps in, even with the heat.

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Tuesday-Rest Day. I had every intention of going for a short run…instead I spent the afternoon taking a hardcore nap and reading. You win some, you lose some.

Wednesday-4 mile run, 1.6 mile walk/jog/cool down. It was disgustingly hot and I was completely drenched by the time I finished this run. It took me almost all day to recover.

Now, this is #GBN

Now, this is #GBN

On Wednesday evening, my friend Tina and I prepped the Laser Maze (a workout in and of itself).

Sidenote: I think we made it too hard.

And then the “Something Stupid.” After the maze, I was pooped and had a ridiculous amount of stuff that I had to lug in from my car. I decided to carry as much as I possibly could inside, instead of making two trips or pausing to shove a few things into my bag. As I was carrying/juggling everything into the house, I managed to drop a mason jar on my foot. Let’s just say, it hurt and I had a few choice words that do not bear repeating. It still hurts.

Thursday-Date Night with Farmer Ben. *I ended up going into work a bit early to make sure I would be out by 5. And then I had a date night in with Farmer Ben. Dinner, wine, etc. Perfect anniversary date.  This was supposed to be our appetizer… but we were full after this.

Course 1 (But really the only part of the meal because we were incredibly full after this.)

Friday-4.5 Miles. I mentioned above, this run blew me away. I could tell it would be a struggle and I could not get my head in the game. So I gave it to God. I spent the run praying. I prayed for loved ones, personal struggles and so much more. I was absolutely empty, yet overflowing when I finished. That peace which surpasses all understanding… and it helped so much. 

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Saturday-5 or 6 miles. I have a route picked out and I’m aiming for 5 miles. If I feel good, I’ll run 6.

Overall: The heat and humidity was rough this week. I have given up feeling badly about not running fast… it’s too stinking hot! I’ve been using my runs to pray, to think and to listen to terrible girly pop.  Also, I’m still not a morning person. Yes, I’ve been running in the morning, but it’s only because I force myself to. I’d much rather go for a night run any day of the week.

I’m happy to report that I’m down 3 lbs since I started running again and our food has been relatively healthy (80/20 principle).

Your Turn: How are you sweating this week? Are you better at running in the heat or in cooler weather? (I’m definitely a cold weather runner). 


Confessions: Be Bold!

Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!

I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).

This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible  and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!

It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.

Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.

Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”

The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.

My favorite verse was John 1:23.

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NLT

A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.

Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.

That’s all for today friends, have a great day!

Be BOLD!


Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?

Hi Friends!

Can we have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation? I need to unload a bit…there are a lot of thoughts roaming around in my brain!

I am a big ball of nerves and randomness lately…not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not. But, as strange as it sounds, I feel more focused and clear-headed than I have in months. It’s strange; I’m all over the place, yet… I have it together (in my head anyway). Does that make any sense? Have you ever felt like that? I just feel like something big is coming… what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s something important!

I’m looking forward, hopeful…but I’m also enjoying the present (mostly). This is something that I’ve always struggled with and this feeling of hope and moving forward is relatively new—and exciting! I’m ready to challenge myself and to do bigger things than I think are possible…it’s scary territory but I am finding it’s exciting and helps me push past those feelings of uncertainty.

I try to keep this relatively light-hearted on the blog… I also don’t hide my faith, but I don’t discuss it very often in this space. However, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can be truthful and open. I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time but I wasn’t sure if the time was right… today feels like the right day to take a chance and to make a confession.

The winter months are typically very difficult for me. I struggle.

I have a hard time being my best self in the winter. I don’t know how else to explain it and I never understood it in my younger years, it was just something I dealt with…I still don’t completely understand it and I still “just deal” with it.

When I was a kid,  I’d push my feelings down and focus on something else… then I would eventually have a melt-down and repeat. Not the best way to deal with things, but it got me through.

As I got older, I had a harder time dealing and pushing my feelings away. I would go to work every day, but on weekends I would hide away, not changing out of my pajamas and just trying to block the world out. Or I would cling to other people, other things, put all of my hope on them for my happiness and self-worth, which automatically set them (and me) up for failure. I never talked about my struggle.

I vividly remember a conversation with someone close to me during a particularly bad year. I was having more frequent meltdowns because I couldn’t find a good distraction and things were falling apart before my eyes, I couldn’t deny it much longer. We were having an argument and he looked at me and said “Why can’t you just be happy?”

I was stunned. And I couldn’t answer, so I did what I always did; ended the conversation and cried myself to sleep that night.

I had asked myself the same question several times but I had never uttered it out loud… I would make up excuses and just tell myself that I wasn’t happy…yet. That it wasn’t my fault. But even though the same question had always tugged at my heart, no one had ever asked me that out loud… and it hurt. It made me feel like a freak…a failure.

Even though I never answered him and that person is no longer in my life, that question has haunted me. (Looking back, I realize how completely insensitive that question was…but he had every right to ask it, even if I couldn’t answer it.)

I blamed my failure at happiness for making my life fall apart (this happened a few months after that conversation).  I took all of the blame; it was all my fault because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, my job wasn’t good enough,  I wasn’t HAPPY enough. I was messed up. Looking back, I realize that this is all bull shit (pardon my French). Yes, I did some stupid, terrible things, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And it’s never entirely one person’s fault.

It was a God thing… I needed to be broken so I could be made stronger. And I’ve never been more grateful for a series of events.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, this time in my life came up and she asked if I was truly “over it.” Answering as honestly as I could, I said, “Yes. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get upset thinking about certain things, but I have no ill will. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still painful to think about at times, but it’s because I didn’t like the person I was then. And thinking about that former self is difficult.”

A lot has changed in the years that have passed since that question was spoken into existence.

I’ve regained my faith as a direct result of things falling apart.  It’s incredibly freeing to know that no matter how much I mess up, God is there. That He will take care of anything I give to him, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.  Yes, I still have responsibility, but He’s behind me.

I still struggle with “just being happy,” especially in the winter months, but I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system that gets it and the ability to find joy in the small things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get down and I don’t get depressed…however, I don’t pin all my hopes and future happiness on other people and events…that’s just not realistic. But I do things that make me happy and I try not to over-obsess about the negative. And I try to be a better person and to help others.

If I’m having an off day, I admit it. Embrace it. And I talk about it… then I try to find the good and move on. Some days, this a lot harder than others.

In recent years, people ask me a completely new question and it always catches me off guard: Why/how am I “always so happy?” Quite a change, right? The answer is simple; I’m not. But, I don’t let my off days consume me as they once did.

In my slightly older/not-that-much-wiser years, I’ve discovered there are things that help me.

The number one thing is my faith, the second thing is my incredibly understanding and hilarious husband, Farmer Ben.

Running helps. A lot of people assume that I run because I want to get/stay in shape. That’s not the reason (most of the time). I run because it reminds me that I can survive and that I can persevere. It makes me feel strong and brings me a joy that I can’t completely explain. It’s also my time to talk to God. Running helps me get out of my head, get out my frustrations and my fears and just helps me … to be.

Speaking of talking to God, prayer. I’ve been a “re-Christian” for almost five years and sometimes I still have a hard time with prayer, especially praying in front of other people…but I’m finding that practice makes perfect and HE can do amazing things.

Another thing I’ve found is reading my Bible helps. I’ve always been bad about reading, but this year I am making a concentrated effort at making this a daily habit. It’s amazing what you find reading through this book. David, for example, was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he STRUGGLED. He faced so many challenges; including someone trying to kill him… and he also struggled with “just being happy.” The first time I really read Psalms and paid attention, I was overwhelmed….speechless.

I had a lot of hard lessons to learn before I could “just be happy” and I probably still do. I suffered a lot of heartache and setbacks, but it forced me to take responsibility, to take a long look at myself and it made me move forward. Again, I’m far from perfect, but I’ve I feel like I am finally there–or at least a lot closer–even with my off days and my struggles…I’m in a good place and I’ve been incredibly blessed. Great things are happening, and there’s a plan for me (and you!) in spite of those times when I don’t feel like my best self.

Why can’t YOU just be happy?


“A List for Last Year,” A FINAL Update on 2013.

Oh hey! It’s officially 2014… I won’t get used to writing/typing 2014 until June…but it’s fine…

Anyway, I figured I should give you all one last look at how my 2013 goals were accomplished. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise!

Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Fail. That’s all.

2. Excel in my job.

I think for the most part, I do my job pretty darn well, but I’m still learning a lot… so I’ll call this one about 85%…..

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

Yes. I killed this one.

5. Take more time to read.

Again, killed it.

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I still haven’t raced it…but I’ve run it.

Marathon-Done.  So we’ll call this even.

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

Didn’t happen… 2013 was the year of random things that come up and shot our budget to Hades AND realizing that we really need an emergency fund.

2014 will be the year of actually having an emergency fund (We’re 75% of the way to our EF goal!) and being able to handle those budget killers.

On the plus side, I upped my 401k contribution and Farmer Ben started his retirement fund at work in 2013…so it wasn’t all bad!

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Nope…. I can probably do about 30 without stopping…maybe 40 if I am feeling like a boss.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely! Done.

Told you that it would be short and sweet… I’d say I did well… granted, I failed miserably at two of my goals…but I definitely learned something from most of these challenges. And of the few that I didn’t accomplish, we are better prepared for them this year.

2013 was a good year, but 2014 will be better… I’ve got big plans for this year and can’t wait to fill you in along the way!

Now it’s your turn! How did you do with your goals for 2013? Anything you’re still struggling with? OR, do you have any advice for 2014?! Let me know! 


Life Update: Bearded Ben, Turkey Trotting and Running Fast

Hi Friends!

I know it’s been awfully quiet around here lately!

So here is a look at what’s been going on (in no particular order):

Confession, I wrote most of this post last night…

Farmer Ben had all four wisdom teeth out today (yesterday) and I have to say, he is a trooper!

I just took a Bourbon pumpkin cheesecake out of the oven (last night) and I am 65% sure the crust is burnt….

Also, have you ever gone to bake something (that you need to bring somewhere the next day) and realized you were missing almost half of the ingredients? Yeah, that happened to me tonight. Cue my scrambling to find substitutes to avoid leaving the house. Thankfully, I went a bit overboard on buying random ingredients for Thanksgiving/December baking so it all worked out… I think.

You may have noticed from this photo that Farmer Ben participated in No Shave November at his workplace.

Post Turkey Trot...My face is frozen because I don't have a beard.

Post Turkey Trot…My face is frozen because I don’t have a beard.

And apparently people like it because he won a gift card… Why can’t I win a gift card for not shaving my legs?! I’m only half-kidding.  And I’m still waiting for Farmer Ben to shave…sigh.

On Black Friday, the hubs and I scored a pretty sweet deal on cold weather running gear at Dick’s. All Reebok stuff was 50% so we couldn’t resist….major sales are pretty much the only time I buy name brand anything, so we splurged on some tights, (not exactly) sweats, gloves and a half-zip w thumb holes (!).

The pants are (almost) the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn and I am not even embarrassed to say that I have had them on almost every waking moment that I don’t have to wear work pants since I purchased them. My standby XL sweats may have a rival!

On Thanksgiving, Farmer Ben and I did the Turkey Trot…. and froze our butts off. We actually had our family dinner on Wednesday so we got up with slight food hangovers to run in ridiculously cold and windy weather (15 degrees. Real feel, 5. and WIND.).

Luckily, we pre-registered and picked up our race packets the night before so we just had to show up.

I had signed up for the 10k… but at the two-mile mark, while I was struggling to run in a semi-straight line, not slip on the ice and not blow all over the road, I decided to drop down to the 5k… I just didn’t have the gumption to continue in those conditions for another 4.2 miles. That’s the thing about the Turkey trot, you never know how the weather is going to be. Do I feel bad for dropping down to the 5k? Not really…it happens.

I’ve been participating in the #elf4health challenge with Elle and Lindsay and am loving my partner elf! Hi Rach!

You know that crazy (and super vague) thing I mentioned I *may* be doing? Well… I took the first step. Not gonna lie, I have no idea what the outcome will be! Its invigorating and nerve-wracking at the same time.

In other news, I’ve been thinking about what my goals are for the new year, particularly my fitness goals:

To start,  I want to focus even more on my nutrition (oh hey, ENERGYbits!) and my form. But I also want to get stronger. And Faster.

Another marathon is definitely on the docket for 2014… but I am looking to improve and not “just finish.”

I want to finish strong.  I don’t know why, but admitting that out loud (or on blog) kind of freaks me out.

I think this realization hit me on a run a couple of weeks ago. For the last year, I’ve been running about 9:45-10 min mile pace, give or take 10 seconds. Completely respectable and nothing to sneeze at. I really haven’t been focused on time, just getting out and getting those miles in.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I did a four mile run at a faster-than-usual pace. When I got back to my car, instead of getting in or starting to stretch, I ditched my excess layers and reset my watch. I proceeded to run a timed mile at 8:23 pace.

What?!

You can imagine I was pretty stoked.
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About a week later, I had a jam-packed day, so I planned to run at lunch.

Unfortunately, my work place is not located in a runner-friendly area. There’s a lot of traffic and people drive fast. So, I drove to a spot in town where I do some of my night runs.

This meant I would have just under 30 minutes to run, after drive time/make-myself-presentable time (luckily it was a Friday). After parking, I started mapmyrun and took off on the bike path. I meant business (mostly because I didn’t have a lot of time).

When the app notified me that I had completed a mile and gave the split, I thought it was a mistake but kept moving (my second mile was about a minute slower and the third was somewhere in the middle).  

In the end, I ran 3.1 miles (I had only planned on 2) in 28 minutes. My first mile was run in  8 minutes and 16 seconds.

That’s speedy for me. I haven’t run that fast in a long time…and it got me thinking… Could I run that pace consistently for a whole 5k? Or longer?!

I haven’t trained for speed in a long time… since high school. I’ve gone out and run fast, and randomly done a speed workout here and there, but I haven’t consistently tried to get faster.

So, this is going to be a new adventure…and a challenge.

And completely off topic, but there is currently 2.5 gallons of hot sauce in our fridge. Go big or go home, right?

If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking through my ramble!

Let’s chat, what have you been up to? Did you run a turkey trot? Beards-yes or no? What are your fitness goals for 2014? Any suggestions for speed work?


Confessions: On Purpose

Friends, I need to get something off my chest.

I was going to make this one of my crazy, random posts… but I just want to have a little chat instead. So, let’s grab a cup of coffee or tea, or maybe even a bloody Mary (hold the celery!). Your regularly  scheduled random posts will return tomorrow.

It’s going to be one of those chats where you’re going to come out more confused than not, so bear with me.

In all honesty, I’ve been struggling the last few months. Not with my weight, not with my marriage, not with my digestion, but with my purpose. I’ve had this feeling of discontent that’s getting harder and harder to ignore and instead of doing something about it, I’ve been stewing.

Stewing and calling it “trying to be patient.” This stewing has involved prayer, reading, research and circuitous discussions with my husband that always end with me saying the same thing, similar discussions with my best friend, and her telling me the same thing.

So, you’re probably wondering, why the need to be patient? Why not just … do something?!  

I’m someone who needs a clear sign before I make a decision, it can be something as simple as running into an old friend or getting a phone call at the right time… Sometimes, I come off as impulsive, and yes, once I make a decision, I waste no time in taking action. But I’m not reckless…

I’ve done seemingly reckless things before but I was confident in those actions.  While, I may have been completely unsure of the outcome, I always knew that I was doing the right thing. Does that make any sense?

Recently (as in yesterday), I was presented with one of those possibly “reckless” decisions. Today, something happened that may force me into action…finally. I won’t say more because that’s all it is right now–a possibility.

I will leave you with this, I may be doing something a little crazy in the coming weeks. I won’t get into details yet because, it could be nothing. Regardless, I’d surely appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime, I’ll be praying on it, looking to Him and remembering this:

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It’s something very abstract at this moment. And no, for the 1241353413445412341th time, Farmer Ben and I are not expecting any spawn. Sorry, friends.

Happy Thursday and thanks for chatting!

Let’s discuss, what’s your purpose? How did you know? Are you impulsive, or do you need a full-fledged plan before you take action?