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?


It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget

I bet you thought that this post was going to be about Farmer Ben, but it’s not. Sorry…I know he’s a pretty neat guy. Instead, I’m talking about cash. Dinero. Money. It can be a dirty word. Having money is really nice, and not having it…well, it stinks.

I hesitated whether to write this post or not… but in all honesty, I feel like there are plenty of people out there who deal with the same kind of thing… so here’s some real talk, straight from the Notebook.

The other day, the hubs and I were having a discussion about money. We have some silly debt (student loans, car payment, etc.) that we just want to get rid of. So, we are committing ourselves to paying them off–early!–one at a time. It’s kind of like when you’re running a race, you start from the back, pick off the slower runners first, and move up to take on the big guys last–after you build up your confidence.

So, we are getting back to our B-U-D-G-E-T.  Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with that word? I find it empowering and depressing at the same time.

This means that we had to take a good hard look at where our money is going. What are we buying? What are we spending money on that isn’t necessary?

As I’ve rekindled my relationship with running, I notice that I spend more of my hard earned cash on running-related things…whether it be a race entry fee, new sneakers, or some shiny new gadget, running on the regular can add up.

True, all you really need to run is a good sports bra (if you’re a female), and a good pair of sneakers… but even those can cost upwards of $100…and if you’re on a tight budget like myself, it can be tough to afford it.

Obviously, it’s easy to be envious of other runners (especially other bloggers) who are able to do all of the cool races, have all of the latest models of running shoes and other gadgets and always seem to be up to date on…everything…especially when we are constantly hit with images of their cool stuff on social media. Am I right? BUT….it’s also a perfect example of why we have to work hard, on our runs and in real life.

This year, one of my goals is to run 14 races (click the little icon on my sidebar for more info!) in 2014. Depending on when and where races are, that can add up.

Side Note: I decided on (committed to) this goal right before the previously mentioned “budget conversation” with Farmer Ben. Impeccable timing, am I right?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any free race entries, running shoes or other fun gadgets/apparel coming my way… I also don’t have a ton of extra income to spend on said items because right now, paying off the silly debt comes first…but that’s okay. It just means I have to get creative.

So, I decided to share my plan for saving money AND accomplishing my 14 in 2014 goal.

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1. Sign up early. Most races will have the cheapest entry fees the further out you sign up…. if you wait closer to race day, you’re likely to pay up to $60 more! Bonus: If you already spend the money, you’re more likely to stick to your training!

Real Life Example: Remember how I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in December? Well, the registration fee has already gone up $10!

2. Scope out smaller races. My first marathon was an $80 entry fee (and that was after the price increase), why? Because it was small. Not only do you get to see more and feel less rushed, but you save! Bonus: A lot of times smaller races have some pretty unique swag (Wineglass has a blown glass medal!) that you won’t find in a bigger race.

Real life Examples: With more popular races, such as the Rock n Roll Series, you’re going to pay $130 (got that from their website), plus you’re going to have to shell out travel and lodging expenses in major cities–if you don’t live in said city. (Not that I wouldn’t love to run a Rock N Roll race…but this year will not be that year). I paid an $80 entry fee for Wine Glass. Next, I was perusing active.com the other day and found a half-marathon about 40 minutes from me for $20. Um, yes please!

3. Stay close to home or with friends! While it may be temping to turn a vacation into runcation, if you’re a penny-pincher, like myself, shelling out big bucks for a hotel room and air fare is not always an option. So, if possible, stay with friends/family,  race within driving distance, or car pool! (When I run Wineglass, I’ll be crashing at my sister’s house!) It’ll be more fun!

Real Life Example: When I ran the Army Ten Miler a couple of years ago, I drove down and stayed with my friend Liz-this saved me over $200 that I would have had to spend on a hotel room. AND while it took more time, I ended up saving quite a bit by driving instead of flying (This was due to the fact that I ended up getting into the race at the last minute, and the closest airport to me only flies direct to Boston, Florida and Vegas.).

4. Use discount codes. Many bloggers are also race ambassadors. That means, if they are running a big race, they’ll often have a discount code to share with their readers. This also applies to gear and running fuel (Shameless Plug; 25% off ENERGYbits with code, “NoellesNotebook.”).

Real Life Example: I’ve found some great discount codes for brands such as ProCompression, ENERGYbits (see above) and Reebok from some of the blogs I read and #RunChat is always offering discount codes to their twitter followers.

5. Bring something with you. A lot of races will allow for a discounted race entry if you do something for the organization.

Real Life Example: I’m looking at a “run for chocolate” in February–they will discount your race entry if you bring something chocolate! Other races will ask that you bring a canned good or similar with you.

6. Volunteer. I’ve seen a trend in the last few months that certain races (or a race series) will give you a credit for a future race if you volunteer. OR, if you bring a volunteer with you, you’ll get a free race entry. What a great way to give back and save some cash! Team up with some friends and make it a party!

Real Life Example: This organization out of Massachusetts.

7. Run as a team. Some races allow runners to form a team, especially corporate groups. This allows team members to get a discounted registration, while repping their organization….now if only I could get some of my co-workers to run!

8. Look for deals. I cannot stress this one enough. I very rarely pay full price for running apparel/sneakers. Not because I’m cheap (okay, maybe I am), but because I look for the deals… whether in the store or online–I hate getting weekly emails, but I keep myself subscribed because every once in a while, I find a GREAT deal. I also look in places out of the ordinary (Craig’s List, TJ Maxx, Woot, etc.) Lastly, I try not to worry about getting the newest model clothing/shoes because last year’s model is usually discounted.

Real Life Examples:  I always update my cold weather running gear in November. Why? Because Dick’s has all Reebok cold weather gear on sale for 50% off AND I use coupons (I saved $85 this year)! I also get apparel at Target–I found a pair of C9 compression capris that are the most comfortable I’ve owned and weren’t ridiculously priced. Next, I snagged Ben a pair of Vibram Five Fingers from Woot.com for $30…Lastly, I purchased my foam roller at TJ Maxx for $15 and frequently see high-end sneakers there for a very affordable price, just never in my size. Bonus: Now and then you can score an amazing deal on treadmills or other equipment on Craig’s List, it never hurts to check the “free” section!

9. Save your race goodie bag! I know it’s tempting to just toss it  without looking through it, but speaking from experience, people spend a lot of time putting those together…at least take a peak at what they’ve got for you!

Real Life Example: I’ve gotten $30 worth of gift certificates (to the same store!) from the last two races I’ve done…not to mention other coupons, all in my goodie bag. That’s $30 off the price of my next pair of running shoes.

10. Start Saving. This may seem a bit elementary, but it doesn’t hurt to set aside some money in your budget specifically for races (especially if there is a big race you REALLY want to do)…even if it’s just saving the random change you find while cleaning your car. It all adds up.

Real life Example: The other day, I was going through a pile of stuff I had been neglecting and found $23. It immediately went into savings. I also set aside some of my tip money whenever I randomly pick up a shift.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? We’ll see how I do as the year progresses!

What about you?! Any tips and tricks for saving on races or running must-haves?! Favorite major savings story on running related items/events? Best race swag you’ve gotten? What races are you running this year?!


My Year of Running, 2013

Happy Holidays Friends! Hope you’re enjoying the last week of 2013!!!

I came across this running survey on Miss Zippy’s site and decided to play along…visit her original post to view the link-up party!

So, let’s get started!

What was your…

Best race experience? I didn’t do a lot of racing this year…but the races I did do were all pretty awesome.  Regardless, I’ll have to go with completing my first marathon.  It’s something that until this year, I never really had the urge to do and up until crossing the finish-line, I wasn’t sure I could do. This was the most difficult race I’ve ever done but it was so worth it.

You can't tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

You can’t tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

The marathon tested my entire being but I’ve never felt more uplifted in the running community. I’ve never connected with other runners, volunteers and spectators  as much I did with this race and the memory of that day is something I will cherish forever.

I’m already looking forward to marathon number 2.

Best run? Again, I’ll have to go with the Adirondack Marathon. I’ve never felt so accomplished in my entire life and I don’t think I’ve raced a more beautiful course.

I did it!

I did it!

Outside of racing, I’d have to say my best runs were the last month of marathon training… I felt on top of the world.

Best new piece of gear?  

Hmm…I don’t feel like I really use a lot of “gear” and/or “gadgets.” I’m pretty low maintenance on my runs…  If I had to pick something, I’d go with my CamelBak or ENERGYbits…. both of these were instrumental in marathon training and really helped me stay on track nutrition/hydration-wise.

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I loved ENERGYbits so much that I became an ambassador so I could share them with everyone I know (*and a 25% off discount–use code “NoellesNotebook”).

Powered by bits

Powered by bits

Best piece of running advice you received?

Run your own race. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison trap…especially when you are a blog reader/writer. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other runners and wish you could be more like them… but at the end of the day, your biggest competition is yourself.

Trust your training. It takes hard work to improve. There’s no way around it…if you train well, you’re going to run well. I had a lot of mini-meltdowns over the summer as a result of a crazy schedule and marathon training…but I survived.

Most inspirational runner?

This is a tough one. In real life, I’d have to say my friend Kristy. She’s a mom, a student, a small business owner and still finds time to run. It puts me to shame! In real life/blogging life-my friend Jona. She’s so determined–when she establishes a goal, she doesn’t stop until she’s accomplished it–She’s a 46er and recently PR’d her 10k time by a lot. Pretty awesome!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

I’d say 2013 was a challenge, a year of learning, pushing through and a test of my abilities–both mental and physical.

Let’s chat: What was your running highlight? Biggest challenge? What inspires you?!

*Disclaimer: As an ENERGYbits ambassador, I do receive a little bit of money if you order using my discount code, however all opinions are my own.


To Farmer Ben

Today is a special day. You were born.

Happy birthday to an amazing husband, best friend and soul mate. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share my life with. Cheers to the youngest 31-year-old I have the pleasure of knowing!

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I love you!

This year’s birthday celebrations will be low-key. We’ll be enjoying some of Farmer Ben’s favorites: Mac & cheese, homemade cake and some vino…or beer.

Feel free to give the hubs a birthday shout-out in the comments!


Some Fun Facts for Friday

Hi Friends!

Sorry if I completely confused you with yesterday’s post, and thanks for your continued support! Did you know Noelle’s Notebook has been around for almost two years now? I can’t believe it!

Moving on, I figured I’d give you some random facts today.

1. This may not be a big deal, but I was pretty excited to find my last TWO posts featured on the Pace Per Mile website.

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2. I am currently craving an exact replication of this meal. And bagels (Hint, hint, FB).

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3. My “AHA” Moment post was published on the Fit Approach website. I was incredibly nervous about posting this-especially because I reveal my numbers (gasp!) and some other personal info… but I am really happy that I shared…I’ve gotten positive feedback and I hope it helps someone else. Check out my story here.

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4. I’ve been contemplating doing an ENERGYbits giveaway…thoughts? Or RECOVERYbits… it’s getting into cold/flu season, after all.

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5. This morning, I had to dumpster dive. Someone at work thought something was accidentally thrown out and needed to check. No, it was not the regular dumpster (Thank God!)… it was the paper dumpster, and I was given the task because I was the younger, more limber of the people looking for said item. Not the way I thought I’d be starting my day, that’s for sure. There may be photographic evidence not in my possession. The worst part, I didn’t find what I was looking for.

6. This is what happens when I try to take an action photo of myself while running… normally, I’d be ashamed of my failure, but I find it hilarious… Moving too fast for the camera, obviously. 2013-11-14 18.01.13

7. I just signed up to for this and I can’t wait! Side note: The event is being held where Ben and I got married. Food and Wine is always a win! Between this and the Turkey Trot, my month is made.

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8. Lastly, the winners of the Sworkit Giveaway are: Liz, Vanessa, Jessica and Chelsea! Congratulations, Ladies! Please email me (noellesnotebook@gmail.com) to claim your discount codes!

And thanks to Ryan for creating an awesome app!

Let’s chat, any big plans this month? Ever had to dumpster dive?!


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?


Finding a Balance: Burgers and Big Workouts

Hi Friends!

Farmer Ben and I are back from our road trip/vacation down south! Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much barbecue in my life…I loved every morsel…but I must admit, it is good to be home, sleeping in our own bed and cooking at home. I’ll do a full post on that later…

I need to get something off my chest.

I was perusing instagram the other day and came across a photo of a giant cheeseburger with French fries. To put you in the right frame of mind, the burger was similar to this one, minus the braised kale:

Pictures like this speak to me.

Pictures like this speak to me.

Anyway, my immediate thoughts? “Oh my, that looks delicious!”

Obviously, I was drawn to it and stopped to read the caption and comments.

I won’t tell you who the user was but the caption was something along the lines of “Yes, I ate this…trying to tell myself that my ridiculously long, strenuous workout makes it okay.”

Cue screeching record sound… What?! 

I’m sorry… but that is ridiculous.

Why do you have to do a ridiculously long and strenuous workout in order to justify eating a cheeseburger and fries? Why do you have to burn a million calories in order to enjoy it? Or, make a vow to run a million miles the next day? Why can’t you just eat it and say, “man, that was delicious,” without feeling guilty?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that you should go out and only eat cheeseburgers and fries (or whatever your guilty pleasure of choice may be), obviously.

Not at all… but if you eat well most of the time, and yes, if you do ridiculously long and strenuous workouts more often than not (as this person does), then what the heck? Eat a damn cheeseburger!

Occasionally enjoying an “unhealthy” meal is not going to “ruin all of your hard work,” and it’s not going to make you gain 20 pounds or ruin your diet/workout regimen. Depending on the burger and your digestive system, you may be a bit bloated or gassy after…but it’s not going to ruin your overall health plan. It’s about balance, people!

I guess what I found most disturbing was the user who posted this picture. You are a role model in a healthy living community. That is not a healthy state of mind…and it’s a common theme I am finding as I peruse my instagram and twitter feeds of bloggers/people who claim to have a healthy lifestyle…people I look up to!

People would rather drink a protein shake or eat an energy bar full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients they can’t pronounce, than enjoy real, whole foods that happen to be calorie dense. I see more protein shakes with a side of celery or a few apple slices  than real, balanced meals on my feed. WHY?!

When did we get so far away from balance…and eating real food?

Again, I am NOT saying that a cheeseburger and fries is “healthy meal,” nor am I saying that all protein shakes/energy bars are bad…not at all!

I’m just saying, everything in moderation.

Neither of these options is going to completely nourish/sustain a person, especially a highly active person.

Balance is necessary.

When you start looking at food as the enemy or depriving yourself…or even trying to justify what you are eating with ridiculously long and strenuous workouts, then there is a problem…and this I am saying from personal experience.  On the same note, you also can’t look to food for comfort/stress relief…again, it’s about balance.

I am in no way perfect, and I am totally guilty of having that small voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to eat that? Do you know how many calories are in it?!”

But, I’ve come to appreciate balance and I’ve finally learned the “everything in moderation” principle…Yes, I watch what I eat…but I don’t completely deprive myself and I don’t freak out after eating a burger. I’m no expert, but I think I’m a lot healthier now because of this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Cheeseburgers, yes or no? Are you guilty of trying to justify your meals with workouts?  Favorite food to drool over on Instagram?