Emptying my cup

“I’m not responsible for filling your cup. I’m just responsible for emptying mine.” Andy Stanley

My mojo is returning. But, like a starving wild animal easing stealthily toward its food source, it is shy and fragile, easily scared away. So, I’m tiptoeing around it, running easily, planning runs that soothe my soul and tease my mojo into raising its head and joining me in earnest. I have a half marathon on Saturday that I’m running, but I’ve decided to run it naked, in deference to my mojo. Don’t be scared, though, or avoid Hattiesburg in the fear that you’ll see something you shouldn’t, that just means I’m going without electronics. I’m not going to be a slave to my pace, but try to savor each moment and remember why I started running in the first place. Time enough for goal setting and pushing hard after the race.

I woke early this Easter morning. I actually set my alarm for 6:30 (which won’t be early enough when the heat comes), so that I could enjoy the dawn, remember, and give thanks for that Easter morning so many centuries ago. I was awake before it went off and lay in bed listening to the birds singing their morning song and being humbly thankful for my salvation. I got up and read the Resurrection story in each of the gospels and savored each word as though it was the first time I read it. Then, coffee and a quick breakfast saw me out the door for my run.

As I ran, I listened to Northpoint Community Church’s podcast, as I so often do, and in one of them, Andy Stanley made the above captioned quote. As I thought about it, it made me reflect on how well I am emptying my cup. I’ve been so concerned that I was filling other’s cups, that I’ve often neglected to pour mine on the world. I’ve only recently learned some of what is in my cup, now it’s time to concentrate on pouring it out.

It actually comes as something of a relief that I don’t have to worry whether I’ve filled your cup, my responsibility is done after emptying mine. In other words, what you do with what I (or anyone else) give you is entirely up to you. I’ve spent way too much time worrying about other people’s actions or reactions, and not nearly enough time giving of myself. It’s time to change that. It’s time to empty my cup. Give of my gifts and not worry about the return, or the lack thereof.

The return of spring with its warm, soft breezes, smell of honeysuckle and gardenia, blooming and renewal of the earth, promise of rebirth and new hope all work together to coax my mojo out of hiding. With its return, I plan to honor my responsibilities and pour out my cup. To discover my gifts and be generous with them so that, at the end of my days, the measure of my life will be evident by what I’ve left behind.

“The true value of a life is measured by how much of it is given away.” Andy Stanley

Happy Easter, my friends.

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Under every rock

My mojo is gone. It’s springtime, the weather is fine, and I don’t have my mojo. I’ve looked under every rock, in every nook and cranny of my being, and it’s no where to be found. It’s a good thing I’ve lost it before, at least I know it will come back when the time is right.

In the meantime, though, what to do? I’m a morning runner. Daylight savings time hits my morning runs hard. It’s not daylight until 7 am, and I need to be in the shower by then. Getting out of my nice, warm bed when it’s still dark and cold seems like entirely too much effort. I can do dark, or I can do cold, no way can I do them both. Pollen has coated every visible surface, as well as the interior linings of my eyes and nose. The last few weeks, I’ve eaten as though I wouldn’t be alive much longer, with chocolate, bread, and key lime pie high on the hit parade. Unfortunately, for me, those high carb foods deliver a short burst of energy, then are followed by extreme lethargy. From which I can’t seem to escape.

I visited with a good friend today, a fellow runner, who boosted my spirits and reminded me that this is only a season. I’ve been a runner long enough to know that’s true, but it’s still scary when it happens. I have to constantly remind myself to get over myself. It’s time to just do it. To just lace up and slap the pavement. Seems impossible right now. I know I’ll have to dig deep for it, deeper than I’ve had to dig in a while. But, failure is not an option.

What causes these seasons? Is it working too hard or not working hard enough, eating too much or not eating enough, dreaming too big or not dreaming enough? Sometimes, it’s an event, like a bad race or training run, but more often, I think it just happens. It happens for every reason and it happens for no reason. For no reason that we can identify, suddenly our running routine is no more. When we run, it feels like we are carrying an extra person on our backs though quick sand. Formerly fast miles become excruciatingly slow, and anticipation for a run becomes stomach churning dread. We begin to doubt ourselves, question why we’re doing this, wondering if we really can. We try to remember what a good run felt like, but can’t dredge up the memory of one.

So, do we quit or take up a new sport? Not on your life. It’s times like these that separate the runners from the wannabes. I might be a wannabe when it comes to a lot of things, but I’m a runner deep in my soul. Giving up is not in my playbook. And, I haven’t conquered this sport yet, I can’t possibly take on a new one.

Hopefully, when I post again, it will be after a wonderfully refreshing run that reminds me of all that I love about running. That’s what I’m going to focus on as I lace up and head out in the morning. The quiet of the morning, the beauty of the day, the strength of my legs as they carry me, the wonderful friends I’ve made through running, the quality time I’m able to spend with God as I run. Those are the things that keep me coming back to the running well again and again. And, I know that if I just keep moving, I’ll find my mojo at that well, waiting for me to pick it up, put it on, and go for a run.

This one’s for you, Amanda B. You inspire me and make me like people again, and I thank you.
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I’m ready

The beach turned into a different place over the weekend. The blue haired, black sock and tennis shoe wearing snow birds have melted into bleach blonds with teeny weeny bikinis and flip flops. To be fair, some of bikini wearers also have blue hair, just a slightly different hue.

The peaceful quiet of the beach has erupted with college kids on spring break littering the sand with beer cans and kids digging holes to Middle Earth that present ankle hazards on my late evening beach walk. No more solitary walks at sunset, or peaceful days spent working quietly with the windows and doors open wide to enjoy the sound of the surf. As Gary and I are closer to the black socks with tennis shoes generation than the teeny weeny bikini one, we are ready to go home. I don’t begrudge them their beach time, I just don’t want to be a part of it. Sheesh, I’m turning into a real old fogey.

It’s been a productive stay. I got some work accomplished, not as much as I wanted to, but more than I thought I would. Race weekend was fun, and since that weekend, Gary and I have tried almost every restaurant along 30A. I can tell you who serves the best key lime pie south of Highway 98, which restaurants to put on your to do list, and the ones to avoid. I’ve had a small vineyard of wine, haven’t run like I should, and eaten more bread and dairy in the last two weeks than I’ve eaten in the last six months. But, almost every day brought a bike ride and a beach walk, so I’m not beating myself up too much. Of course, now I feel overfed and sluggish, but getting home and back to our routines will help with that. And, all that biking and beach walking was very therapeutic for Gary’s leg.

I finished up one last work project this evening, then we went for our last sunset beach walk for a while. We didn’t know when we planned this trip so many months ago how well timed it would turn out to be. The perfect way to lick my wounds, and let the waves wash over me with their healing powers. We didn’t know this would be a trip used to grieve my dad, work out some kinks in our minds and bodies, as well as spend some quality time together away from our regular routines. It’s been a quiet, magical time; filled with joy and sadness. It’s been a time I am most humbly thankful for. I wish that all huge life events came with a month long grace period at the beach right after.

I am ready for home, for spring, and all that it brings. I’m ready for the dogwoods to bloom and the world to be green again. I’m ready for warmer temps when I run. I’m ready to sweat and not be cold. I’m ready to rejoin the world, with a heart full and at peace.

I’m ready to return here soon.

Blue Mountain Beach, Florida

Blue Mountain Beach, Florida

What the surfers know

It was a stormy day at the beach today, encouraging lots of indoor activities rather than sun soaking opportunities. Traffic in Destin was wicked, everyone decided to go see “Oz” or go shopping, as the weather outside was frightful. We, too, went to the movie, a different one, though, one that had been out a few weeks. Our aversion to crowds grows worse every day (sigh). We had to do bank, post office, and grocery runs, so we plunged into the traffic with all the rest of the world.

We returned to our home away from home as dusk was setting in. It has been a cool day, stormy and windy, with an ocean surge that has completely obliterated the beach. As we unpacked our stuff, we looked outside and saw that the wild waves were littered with surfers. All across the break in the water were guys (and probably gals) in wet suits, clinging for dear life to their boards, screaming in delight when the waves took them up, then coming up laughing after being tossed unceremoniously under the waves. My first reaction was, “Those people are crazy. It’s cold and that sea is angry enough to eat them.” But, after listening to their laughter and screams of delight and terror, I’ve changed my mind. I realized that they know something important, a truth we all need to take to heart.

Stormy seas teach us how to withstand the calm.

Stormy seas

Stormy seas


Each of our lives are filled with times of peace and times of storm. We cling to the peaceful times as though they were a life raft, and dread the raging seas of the storm. But, I know in my life, I’ve learned more, felt more, cried out to God more, and fallen on my face more during the stormy times. As I rode out the waves, I would be buoyed up and over, then swallowed under by the might of the waves. But, when calm returned, when peace re-entered my life, I was wiser and more at peace because of the storms I had weathered. I have learned during the storms that there is only One who can calm them, only One who restores peace. I’ve learned that the storm makes me appreciate the peace in a way I never did before. When I can count on no one else, when nothing anyone says brings calm to the storm, I know where to look, who to seek.

“…When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. 25 Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?”
The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When he gives a command, even the wind and waves obey him!”Luke 8:24b-25

There are small storms and large ones. Sometimes, it’s a physical storm, sometimes an emotional or spiritual one. One of the gifts God has provided me to withstand the storms is running, but I even have storms in my training cycles. Learning to persevere and keep on running when motivation is down and my spirits are low has proven to be one of the most valuable learning tools of my life.

Learn a lesson from the surfers. Dive into those waves headfirst, then scream for joy when you come up for air. The pounding you get from those stormy seas will provide you with more joy than you imagined possible when the seas calm.
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Seaside School Half Marathon

Sometimes, on race morning, you’re just not feeling it. I have looked forward to this weekend’s half mary for a while, but as the weekend drew nearer and my obsessive weather checking didn’t change the forecast, I felt it less and less. Seaside School half marathon is a great race – well run, mostly flat(ish), great schwag, and it’s at the beach. What’s not to love?

If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you know I’m not a cold weather runner. I like warm temps, sunny skies, balmy breezes. That’s why I love the beach, for pete’s sake. My sister lives in Missouri and sent me an e-mail this morning that said they have 10-12 inches of snow on the ground. Yikes!

So, I feel a little guilty about complaining about 37 degrees at the beach. But, still. I. Like. Warm. Weather. Period. I don’t typically complain in the summer, although the last couple of summers have been rather painful by mid August or so. I’m more than ready for spring. I decided after today’s race that if I get up on race morning and the temps are below 40, I’m going back to bed. We’ll see if I follow through on that.

Anyway, today’s race was fine, if nothing spectacular. The sun was out and the wind had died down somewhat from yesterday, so I was comfortable after I started running. Kaitlyn was running the 5k, and she brought her “A” game, even though her head was full of sinus mess and had been all week. She still PR’d by about 15 seconds, so she was satisfied with that. Gary was our race photographer and had his work cut out for him, as my race started at 7 am and Kaitlyn’s at 7:30. He planned to bike along the bike path so that he could take pics and pick up my discarded clothing as I warmed up.

We queued up at the start in a chilly mass of humanity, and slowly herded toward the start mat after the gun went off. I was proud of myself because I didn’t start too fast, as I usually do; but found a good, steady pace that stayed with me for the entire first half of the race. I dashed to the beach access bathroom at the turnaround, as the port-a-potty line was really long, and let’s face it, I’d rather go to a permanent potty. I was back to the race before most of the port-a- let line had even moved and continued on my way.

I’m not sure if this is a common phenomena, but as the race approached this past week, every old injury I’ve ever had flared up. My right ITB twinged and my right knee had flashbacks of the pain it suffered during this race last year. My left ankle (on which I had surgery 13 years ago!) decided that it hurt, too, several times to the point of limping. In addition to the old injuries, a host of new phantom pains appeared, as well. My right side complained all week, and during the race cramped so severely that it nauseated me a couple of times. Probably in reaction to my favoring that side, my right hamstring tightened during the race and pinged constantly during the second half of the race. I tried to ignore all the pain signals and just run. I had to dig really, really deep by mile 10. Not sure if the pain was real or mental, even now. Regardless, I found my rhythm about mile 11 (yes, that late), put my eyes on the prize and just finished.

I have to say, I’m glad this one is done. It was a lot harder than it should have been and will cause me to reflect on the “why’s” of that over the next few days as I begin to prepare for the next challenge. Here are a few of the pics Gary managed to get before, during and after the race.

Kait being silly at 5 am

Kait being silly at 5 am

Pre-race

Pre-race

Holy moly, it's cold!!

Holy moly, it’s cold!!

The half starting line

The half starting line


I love this pic!  Looks like I'm running much faster than I really am!

I love this pic! Looks like I’m running much faster than I really am!

Smiling cause it's nearly done

Smiling cause it’s nearly done

Beautiful day, beautiful race

Beautiful day, beautiful race

Painful finish

Painful finish

Showing off our Vera Bradly schwag

Showing off our Vera Bradly schwag

Of course, the race marks the half way point to my time at the beach. Sigh. Everyone has left this evening, Gary had to go home for a couple days of work and Kait has class tomorrow, so I’m here alone, enjoying the sunset and looking forward to my hour and a half massage tomorrow.

Life is good.