Confessions: A New Chapter

Hello?

Is anyone still following this little blog?

Real talk….This year has thrown me for a loop (side note: I feel like I have said this in almost all of the posts I’ve published in the last two years). There have been many challenges and what has felt like one very long, hard season. I haven’t had the motivation or the courage to write about it in this space–or at all really–and talking about anything else just didn’t feel authentic… so, we had silence.

I’m still working through some things but I am finally feeling like it’s time to post a life update. So, here we are.

One of the most exciting changes is that Farmer Ben and I made a big move! As of November 1, we now live in Rochester, NY! (Also-never imagined that I would live in Rochester!)

How did this happen?

The short-handed version is that I was dealing with recurring frustration and a lot of unknowns,  and after what felt like repeating the same conversation numerous times, Ben encouraged me to talk to someone about it…so I reached out to a friend of mine for some advice and he casually mentioned that his home church may be looking for another staff person. I didn’t take this seriously but I ended up speaking to his boss a few days later and before I knew it, Ben and I were driving to Rochester that weekend to meet him and see the church. It happened so quickly that I had to call my boss and explain the situation to see if I could even go…which still cracks me up when I think about it.

The longer version is that after a long period of remaining and trusting God in the midst of said frustration and unknowns, something shifted. Sitting in church one Sunday and not knowing what our next steps were, He finally told me it was time to move on. I say with all seriousness that God made it very clear that our time in that church was coming to an end…and two days later, we were making plans to go to Rochester for an interview.

“It’s just a conversation.” That’s what we kept telling ourselves. This made it seem less intimidating. And less real.

Now, this is a running joke because, well… we just moved to Rochester because of said conversation!

A week after that first phone call, I accepted the offer but because of some other circumstances, Ben and I decided to wait until the end of October to make the move.

So, on November 1, 2017, Farmer Ben and I drove from Plattsburgh to Rochester to begin a new chapter. I am now the Family Life Pastor at a church here. I am on the hunt for a side gig. Ben started working last week.

The church is very different than where we came from so Ben and I are figuring out how we fit into this new church family, along with navigating a new city and this huge change in our lives. But we are full of hope for our future here!

Not gonna lie, I am not loving the free time. I am not good at down-time. But I have to admit, I have been out straight for the last two and a half years and I know that God wants me to slow down and take a breath as I step into a new role…So I am trying to be intentional.

There is a lot from the last three years that I am still processing and grieving. One of the main things is Duane’s death and the aftermath. I’ve also been especially challenged in my calling this year and what that looks like as a female pastor. I’m using this time to work through these things.

That being said, the last couple of weeks have been a time of restoration and refreshment for us and while we still have a long way to go, I truly believe that God has a plan for us here and we are so hopeful for what He has in store! There has been overwhelming confirmation that we made the right choice…when I stop and think about it, it almost takes my breath away.

We have been so blessed by the kindness we’ve seen in our first days here as we settle into our new normal. I am more excited about ministry than I have been in a long time and Ben is dreaming about what his next steps are.

So … that’s where we are right now. Joyful, expectant and loved.

behold verse

 

Let’s catch up! What are you doing/working on these days?

What are you excited about? 

 

 

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Life Lately, Weird Edition

Hi friends!

Please ignore the fact that I’m behind on my blogging. To be completely honest, I have no excuse other than I’ve been struggling with some nasty headaches and their side effects. They leave me feeling drained and with little to no motivation. I’ll discuss them more in another post.

In the moments I’m not dealing with said migraines/side effects, I’ve been juggling race planning, helping with Bistro to-do items, running, catching up with friends, cooking and squeezing in moments of quality time with Farmer Ben…and you know, regular life and work stuff.

As a result, I just haven’t had the urge to sit down and blog. And I haven’t felt that I’ve had much to say.

Life is kind of weird right now…and I’m trying to wrap my head around it.

Here is some of what is happening:

For a long time, I’ve worked my regular job and then worked job number 2 at least three nights a week…typically more. I’ve had a routine that required a lot of planning and remembering, keeping my work clothes and shoes in the car and trying to keep a somewhat set schedule… but a few weeks ago my time at job number 2 ended.

I knew it would happen sooner or later…but…The circumstances were bizarre and although issues were resolved I can’t really explain how or why. I will say that my tenure was up at least a month before I was planning on it. In the end, I left on a good a note, so it worked out.

As a result, I have some unexpected free time…kind of.

I’m NOT used to just going home after work, to having a somewhat flexible schedule in the evening.  I am not a schedule oriented person, but I also don’t do well if I have a lot of free time. Needless to say, it feels weird to be finished work at 5 PM.

Granted, this will be short-lived once the bistro opens, but its been a period of adjustment. It feels a bit like… limbo.

I’m savouring this time, however, because I know in a few short weeks, the nights where Ben and I can sit down to dinner together will be few and far between.

I’ve enjoyed being able to come home and cook something delicious for the two of us. Or being able to rent a terrible movie and hang out with a glass of wine…and being able to go to bed before 10pm if the mood strikes.

I’ve also used the free hours I have to get some race details taken care of and to get out and connect with some sponsors. I’m constantly amazed at how generous people are. Have I mentioned this before?!

In addition, because spring is finally here, I’ve been able to squeeze in some runs after work.

This week, Farmer Ben used my car to run errands and such. This forced me to either run to his workplace (~4 miles) to catch a ride home or to stay cooped up in my office to catch up on little things for a couple of hours until he picked me up.

As it is finally above freezing, I’ve chosen to run more often than not. Whether it’s a long run or run/walk to catch up with a friend, I am enjoying the time outside…especially because I stare at a computer for most of the day.

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Yup, the lake is still frozen.

I’m happy that my running mojo is coming back.

Sometimes I forget why I run… I forget that I enjoy that time of tuning out the world and just being. And that time is exactly what I’ve needed the last few weeks.

Not gonna lie, I haven’t been running every day, but I am savoring the days I do get out the door.

So, that’s where I’ve been/where I am at this moment.

What have you been up to? How do you deal with times of transition? Favorite terrible movie?


Confessions; Life, Lately

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while…so here we go…

-Friday, I applied to be a part of  the “fit team” for a company that I adore… with my cell phone. I could NOT get the link to work on my computer so I finally resorted to using my phone… Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?! I really hope I didn’t make any fat-finger typos…and I really hope they pick me!!!! I’m 90% sure that they won’t… but there’s always that 10% chance…keep your fingers crossed!

– You may or may not know that I haven’t been on Facebook in a long time. In all honesty, I don’t miss it (other than it seems to be the only way some people keep in touch), however, as much as I hate to admit it, as I am trying to grow/improve the blog… I may have to reactivate it sooner rather than later… any thoughts on this? I’d love some opinions from other bloggers.

-I really miss just hanging out with my best. I haven’t seen her face in far too long and it really stinks…we keep in touch, don’t get me wrong, but it would be nice to hang out in person and not through phone or internet.

-Speaking of social media, Twitter completely overwhelms me sometimes. That is all.

-The #WinterMiles Challenge? I ran a total of 20.25 miles for week 1 (that includes an unscheduled rest day to deal with the head cold from hell).  I am pretty proud of myself because getting up the gumption to run in the cold is really difficult for me…some nights, I’ll sit in my car for 20 minutes before I finally talk myself into getting out and actually doing the run!

-Speaking of running, we have our first two registered runners for Strides for James! I am so excited! Once again, if you’re looking to visit Upstate NY…or live here, sign up! It’s going to be a great race! Not to mention, we have some amazing swag!

strides for james

-I told a white lie the other day, Farmer Ben and I never made it to the gym the other night… by the time he got home the other day, we wouldn’t have made it before they closed…but we did get out and run on a crazy windy night… this weekend, I took advantage of the ridiculously warm weather… maybe this week. I’m dying to check it out!

-I was really happy to get some positive feedback on this post. In case you missed it, here it is again:

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-I probably forgot to mention this, but Farmer Ben and I are doing the core and more challenge from Lifting Revolution. Basically, you commit to doing a plank, followed by some push-ups every day for the month of January. I am happy to report that I haven’t missed a day yet…. this never happens!

-Yesterday, Farmer Ben forced me to go to Burlington with him for a mini-date day…which meant that I had to do a night run. I don’t regret it one bit.

-I haven’t been working at job number 2 much lately… really not at all for the last month or so (except New Year’s Eve). Anyway, I got called in to work Friday and Saturday night at the new location. This location has an upstairs…. my calves are ridiculously sore from running up and down the stairs carrying trays of food and drink…can we call this cross-training?

-I saw a post on Instagram the other day that really ticked me off. It was one of those “inspirational” quotes that people take time to fancy up and make pretty. It said something along the lines of  “It’s easier to get up early and workout than it is to look in the mirror every day and not like what you see.”

Ugh!!! Why is it that the only reason a person needs to work out is if they don’t like their appearance? Okay, I get it…sometimes we need to lose a little weight or tone up and it’s easy to get stuck on that, but seriously?! Chances are if you hate the way you look that much, working out at 5:00 am is NOT going to change that. Why can’t someone work out because they like to? AND why is it that in order to be considered an athlete, you have to wake up at some ungodly hour in order to “get your sweat on?!” I’m sorry, but I do the majority of my workouts in the evening…and I’ve always been that way. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with getting up early, and I truly envy those who have the discipline to do so… but I am NOT one of those people …and I still like myself… and I don’t workout because I hate what I see in the mirror…I workout because I like the way it makes me feel …End rant.

Your Turn: What’s going on in your life? Any juicy confessions I need to know about? “Fit-spirational” quotes, yes or no?

 


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.

budget

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?!


“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! 


“What is my expertise?” or The Art of Photo-Bombing Part III

Hi Friends!

Today’s #elf4health challenge is to “share my expertise.” Obviously, because I’m a Renaissance Woman, this is hard. I’m really good at many things, such as tripping up stairs, running into furniture, jam sessions while driving, spilling stuff all over myself and rocking second-day hair, but I didn’t think any of these were what Elle & Lindsay had in mind.

I tossed around a few other ideas.

I love to eat…bake and cook, weird things, especially… and add whiskey to cookies (or everything)…. but I’ve told you all about that before.

So, back to the drawing board I went… and I came up with something really good–and super useful–to share with all of you and my fellow elves.

Photo-bombing.

Yes. I am a not-so-secret photobombing expert. I realize that I’ve already written two posts on this, but what can I say? it’s kind of a big deal. AND, what better time of year to ruin carefully planned photo sessions with your loved ones than Christmas/New Year’s parties???

So, here is Noelle’s Notebook’s Photo-Bombing Refresher Course:

1. Pick your victims.

We all know THAT person. You know, the person who HAS to take the perfect photo… they need to stand “just so,” to hide their muffin top or do 2341354134135245 retakes until they finally look better than all other parties in the photo. OR, they have to document EVERYTHING (seriously, do you need to take a picture of Uncle Charlie eating a piece of celery?).

This person is almost always the one I pick…probably because sometimes I am that person (Farmer Ben can attest to this).

2. Plan your entrance.

Depending on the location, I have a few different approaches… at a party, I like to casually dance up behind the subject of the photo–slide to the left, you know? If the subject is sitting down, I prefer the walk-by… OR, I just quietly creep into the background. Your photographer is key to this step because if they so much as let out a chuckle, your cover is blown.

3. Find your motivation.

Are you the photo-bomber who tries to go unnoticed with the blank stare? Or do you go big–arms, eyes and all? I am typically  the “make the most horrendous face possible” girl, but to each their own. The important thing is, once you figure out what you’re going for, you have to commit…

There’s no turning back in photo-bombing–you only have seconds to ruin the perfect photo.

4. Escape.

Find the quickest way to flee once the camera flashes…this could be as simple as turning around with a sweet spin move, or as complicated as leaping over a couch. Just remember to plan ahead and act natural.

5. Have fun.

This one should be obvious but sometimes we forget. I realize that photo-bombing is serious business–Just remember why you’re doing it and the fun will follow.

Finally, because I love this photo so much, here is my finest photo-bombing moment (thus far):

He never saw me coming...

He never saw me coming…

To read Photo-Bombing Part I, click here.

To read Photo-Bombing Part II, click here.

Let’s chat! Are you an expert at anything? Discuss. What are some of your favorite photo-bombing techniques? OR are you a victim? Share your story.


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!