Some Days are Just Dark

One Saturday morning, my family was to attend a funeral. It was for an elderly woman that I had never met. My husband knew her because he had done some work for her. My young daughter knew her because she would often tag along so she could play with her kitty. I had never met her but had answered the phone a time or two when she called.

I had felt the darkness of that black cloud hovering overhead in the previous week. The cloud was getting bigger, darker, lower, and heavier. When Saturday morning arrived I told my husband that I’d like to stay home if he didn’t mind. A funeral was not something I thought I could do that day.

I believe funerals are for the living, and I believe it is important to support those that are grieving. I practice this belief enough that I have a friend that refers to it as my “ministry.” However, I knew in this case that my absence or presence would not have any significant meaning since I did not know the deceased or any of the survivors.

During the time that I would’ve been at the funeral with my phone turned off, I received a phone call from Mr. G. An actual phone call was a rarity. “I just pulled into my garage and am sitting in my car and felt like I should call you,” I heard a friendly, understanding voice say.

I explained what was going on and why my family was at a funeral and I was not. I commented that for no reason that I could explain, darkness had blotted out the light and it was getting darker with each passing day. Then I heard, “Some days are just dark.”

It was a simple statement that probably didn’t mean much to many people, but it was profound for me that day. Just like some days the weather might be sunny, cloudy, or rainy; some days can be down right dark. Just like the weather, I didn’t do anything to cause it (that I knew of), and it didn’t mean that there was something “wrong” with me. It just was. Somehow that gave me great comfort. That day was very dark and cloudy, but I knew I could look forward to bright, sunny days ahead.

Hospital Half and 5K

March’s race was an inaugural half marathon and 5K organized by our local hospital foundation.  The weather was great, the location was great, the course was great–it was all around a great race!

This race started and ended at our local community center which is just a few minutes from my house.  I drive there several times a week.  On Tuesday evenings I meet with a few friends and we take a two and a half mile run down the street and back.  You can imagine our excitement to learn that the race started at the community center and followed the same path we’ve been taking once a week for the last few months.

Anyone that’s done some running (and I’m sure this is true for a lot of other sports as well) knows that a lot of the battle is mental.  Knowing or thinking you can do it will get you there.  Doubting yourself will not get you across the finish line.  I knew the course, and knew most of it very well, so my confidence level was through the roof.

This was also the same location and almost the exact same course as my very first 5K.  I had gotten the flu and was sick the day before that race, so I was excited to run this route again, hopefully illness free.  The last hill on this course is a nasty one, and I could not run all the way up it without walking last time.  I was now conquering that hill instead of letting it conquer me.  So, for many reasons, I was pumped for this race.

There were more than 1200 people signed up for this race.  The half marathon started at 8:00 with the 5K starting at 8:30.  I was concerned about parking and traffic, so I had my husband drop me off at the race at 7:30.  There were lots of people there and lots of excitement in the air, but everything went smoothly.  This was one of the most organized races I’ve participated in.

I ran the race and everything went as expected.  I finished this race 50 seconds under my last race and 50 seconds away from my PR.  Yip, right in the middle!  My time on this last race is now second to my PR.

Afterwards we browsed the vendor booths.  Many of the local restaurants had booths and were giving out food items.  There was an old-fashioned photo booth where we got our picture taken, I got a free t-shirt, and all kinds of coupons.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day.  It was perfect running weather, I completed the race in superb time, conquered the hill, and was able to share it all with friends.

305 lbs. Entering a New Season

I never thought of my job as stressful, and most of the time it wasn’t.  I worked from home and it seemed to very easily blend in with what I was already doing.  I made Saturday my day to stay home and do laundry, prepare meals, and clean house.  It was easy to get caught up on things at home and work at the same time.  However, once I was no longer employed, it soon became apparent how much stress my job did bring into my life.

I was now footloose and fancy free.  The stress was gone.  I was no longer carrying around a burden like Christian in “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”  My heavy load had been lifted.  I was enjoying life.  I fell in love with running, weight loss became a breeze, and I was approaching a huge goal.

My weekends soon became full of all kinds of events that I would have normally skipped out on if I had been working.  By mid-March when the Commit to Get Fit program had ended, Spring was here and it was a great time to be outdoors.  I started running as much as I could.  My goal was to run three times a week, assuming that the weather cooperated.

My oldest daughter talked me into signing up for a 5K on Saturday, April 30th.  It would be the first 5K of the year, and the second 5K of my life.  I hadn’t been running regularly since the fall, so I had a lot of preparation to do for this race.

On the first Sunday in April I got a phone call from one of the drivers I used to work with.  He had nothing but bad news to tell me.  First, one of the drivers was suspended and probably was not going to come back to work.  Second, Mr. G. had quit, he thought for medical reasons.  Third, Bob, my boss who had become ill just over a year ago, had passed away.

This hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was too much bad news at once.  I went into the bathroom and wailed.  Bob was one of the good guys.  He cared about Jesus and his family.  I knew his family would miss him severely.  I really felt bad for Mr. G.  This was his baby, this was his life, and he had walked away from it.  I could not imagine what it was like for him.

On Monday I received a phone call from a nearby trucking company with a possible job opportunity.  I wasn’t looking for a job and hadn’t applied, but we knew someone who worked there, and he had given the manager my phone number as a dispatcher out of a job.  The woman I talked to said she would get back with me.

On Tuesday I went to Bob’s funeral.  I arrived a few minutes early and found a driver that I knew.  I sat with him and his family.  We chit chatted and caught up with each other before the service started.  He was in the same boat as I was–he was part-time, so he was not hired on by the new company.  He said, “Have you seen Mr. G. yet?”  I said, “He’ll be here at five after.”

Sure enough, at five minutes after Mr. G. came in and sat across the way from us.  We made eye contact and he nodded to acknowledge that he saw me.  I was glad to see that he at least looked well.

The service was beautiful.  The music was fabulous and very uplifting.  I know it sounds odd, but it was just what I needed during a time that I was feeling very down.  You don’t usually go to a funeral expecting to get anything out of it.  My belief is that funerals are for the living, and I usually go to support those that are grieving and missing their loved one.  This family was definitely grieving.  Bob’s death was sudden, and his family was feeling a great loss.  In my attempt to be a blessing for Bob’s family that day, they had been a great blessing to me.

I was hoping to talk to Mr. G. after the funeral, but he went running out the door before it was over.  I went home afterwards and within an hour had a phone call from Charles saying that they wanted to hire me.  I guess when it rains, it pours!  I confirmed that Mr. G. was no longer there.  He told me that he and another guy had been working there the last 60 days without a day off, and they wanted to get someone in there so they could get some time off.

I wasn’t sure what to think.  I now had two companies bidding for my employment.  I was really enjoying a stress-free life and being able to do things with my family whenever I wanted.  However, that came with a price–literally.  It meant no paycheck.  It wasn’t money that we relied on for our day-to-day expenses, but it had paid for things like a new washing machine, a new furnace, a new air conditioner, medical bills, running shoes, vacations, etc.  I at least wanted to consider these two offers.

In the end, I took the job Charles offered me.  We did some negotiating, and he bent over backwards to accommodate me.  The only thing he could not give me was working from home–the company wouldn’t allow it.  I was to work Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.  This would make for long days and for some big changes at home.  I knew I was entering a new season in life.

“Juicing Not Only Changed My Life, It SAVED My Life”

This week’s post is my interview with Neil Martin at Natural Juice Junkie.  This interview is about more than just juicing, so go ahead and take a look even if you’re not interested in juicing.  I hope this will be an encouragement to others that are on a health/fitness journey.  Thank you for the opportunity, Neil.

Be sure to check out Neil’s website.  He has some great resources on juicing and fitness.  I especially like his videos on our attitude or way of thinking about ourselves.  The link to my interview is below.

“I believe juicing has not only changed my life, but also has SAVED my life” says Lori, a 40-something stay-at-home-mom, in Midwest USA

Source: “Juicing Not Only Changed My Life, It SAVED My Life”

Sweetheart Run 5K

Last Saturday my daughter and I ran the Sweetheart Run 5K.  We were glad to be well prepared for this run.  We had a couple of friends that also ran this 5K with us.

This run was on the other side of town, so it was in an area that we were not well familiar with.  We had to pick up our packets the day before our race.  I went with a friend and we made an afternoon of it.  We picked up our packets, went out to lunch, and then decided to drive the course since it was nearby.  Once we saw the course, we were glad we did.

As any experienced runner knows, a big chunk of running is your mental state of mind.  If you’re convinced that you can do it, you are very likely to succeed.  Not knowing what to expect or what is around the next bend (literally) can defeat you.  Below I am inserting a course map for your visualization.  Yip, it was basically a big square.  Easy, peasy, right?

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Sweetheart Run course map

Wrong.  How this is even possible, or how anyone was able to find a place in the city that is mostly uphill, I’ll never know.  We started at the top of the map where the red pinpoint is.  Our first turn was a left hand turn, then there were four right hand turns, and a final left hand turn to put us back at the start/finish line.  This is not a particularly hilly part of town, but we were surprised to find that after each turn you got to run uphill!  None of these were big, nasty hills, but gradual inclines.  We were glad to find that at the beginning of mile 3, there was a reprieve.  There was a very nice decline in which we were hoping to get a bit of a break and try to make up for lost time.

Race day was here, and it was perfect running weather.  The morning started off a bit cloudy and foggy, but it had all cleared by the start of the race.  It was 52 degrees and a nice, sunny day.  We got to the race plenty early and had time to take a look around at the running expo that was taking place that day.  We were glad to know what was ahead of us.  We weren’t expecting a PR on this course but planned to do the best we could.

The race started in waves, so I knew not to pay any attention to the clocks I saw along the route.  Knowing what to expect during the race kept me going mentally and physically.  I had my metronome tick-tocking in my ear at 180 beats per minute to keep me focused.  I looked down at my Fitbit a few times during the race and was happy with the time I saw.

I crossed the finished line completely depleted but was happy with my performance.  Once I got my official time, I was really excited to find that I had run this race in my second best time ever!  Physically I was prepared because I have continued to run and train this winter.  Mentally I was prepared by reviewing the course before the race.  If it weren’t for these two factors, the outcome would’ve been completely different.

And, my daughter did get a PR!  Woot, woot!!

Afterwards, we strolled through the running expo and picked up several freebies and registered for some give aways.  I also found a really cool headband that I had to buy.  After that was lunch with my daughter and a friend.  Another great day to be alive!

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Loving this bright headband I found at the running expo.

305 lbs. The Eights Stink

I was totally unaware that the last time I would work was that meeting in January to introduce us to our potential new employer.  I was never given a termination date.  After the third consecutive week of being told that Mr. G. was going to cover my shift because of changes coming, I told him that I was going to assume that I was out of a job unless told otherwise.

My communications with Mr. G. became fewer and further between.  I told him that I knew that would happen and that eventually they would come to an end.  However, he promised me that we were friends for life.  I so wanted to believe that.  He also promised me a job as soon as he was given the reigns, so to speak.    I wanted to believe that too.

Even though I rarely actually saw the people I worked with because I worked from home, I missed them terribly.  All of our communications was through text or telephone, so I would spend time talking to each one of them while we were working.  It was my connection with the outside world.  After spending Monday-Friday homeschooling a seven year old, I was ready for some adult conversation.  Since my employment came to a blunt, unexpected end, there were no goodbyes.

I knew the drivers were not allowed to use their phones while driving and I certainly didn’t want to cause any problems, so I did not try to contact any of them.  These were men with families that needed their jobs.  I could pray for them and hope they were doing well, but I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize their income.

The Commit to Get Fit program had just started, so I continued with it.  My daughter had talked me into trying some boot-camp type classes.  Burn, Build, and Tone was on Monday and Wednesday evenings, and it was as tough as it sounded.  Then, she talked me into trying Metcon on Saturday mornings.  It was equally as tough, but I enjoyed it.

We had to weigh in and do our BMI each week with our trainer.  Our age was required for the BMI machine, and I had to tell Cole every week my age.  I would tell Cole, “Forty-eight.  Don’t you remember?  The eights stink.”  And that’s how it had been for me.  Every age ending in eight really did stink.

The Commit to Get Fit program was over in mid-March.  This year, there was a closing ceremony that was very nice.  We all met one evening in a room with tables and chairs at the community center.  There were healthy snacks and drinks available.  Everyone in our group sat at a table with our trainer, Cole.  Each trainer had an opportunity to say something about their group and to hand out awards if desired.  Some did more than others, but Cole definitely stood out.

Cole spoke about our group in general, and then had an award for each one of us.    Cole had very kind, yet humorous words to say about each of us as well.  We were all laughing and crying at the same time.  When Cole got to me, he mentioned that I had been with him for two years in a row, and that both times had been around very stressful events.  Until then, I had completely forgotten about the year before, but my mind immediately flashed back to Bob and his illness.  And, with that, Cole presented me with the “Veteran Award.”  We hugged, and I cried.  It’s a simple-looking award printed on white card stock, but it means the world to me because of what it represents–a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally) with a true friend.

305 lbs. A Word on Depression

About 10 years ago I was talking with a friend who works with people with addictions She was telling me about the woes of someone she knew.  She finally came around to saying that this friend suffered from depression.  It didn’t sound like depression to me, it just sounded like life.  My remark was, “That’s just life.  Life stinks.”  She got down in my face and told me that she thought I suffered from depression too.

That really was a surprise to me.  I never even entertained the idea of depression.  I just really thought life stunk.  There were many times that I thought it would be a lot easier not to be here, but I had children that relied on me for their daily existence.  I could not let them down.  I used to think that it took a lot of guts to end your own life, but I now believe the opposite.  It takes a lot more guts to stay here on earth.

I had tried talking about it to a friend or two over the years, but it was clear that they didn’t get it.  They dismissed it right away with disgust.  I didn’t expect to ever meet anyone that understood.

I received an urgent phone call from Mr. G. one day asking me if I could take over for him right away.  He was clearly upset and told me that he would be in touch the next day.  I was able to do so, so I did.  Later, he told me that he suffered from depression.  When I told him that I understood, he seemed very relieved.

For the first time in both of our lives, we had a friend we could talk to who understood.  We were our own little support group holding each other up at times.  Depression isn’t something anyone wants or asks for.  It’s just there.  It’s a part of you just like your hands, feet, and nose are a part of you.

I have found, for me anyway, that depression was an iron deficiency.  I’m not talking about the kind you put in your mouth, but the kind you pump.  When I started the Couch to 5K program, I was going to seven workouts a week–sometimes twice a day.  I can remember as the program was nearing its end telling Mr. G. that I never felt better my whole life.  I think this was a part of his decision to join a gym.

It was true.  I was far from being Miss Universe, but I was fitter than I had been for decades.  I had lost a substantial amount of weight and had drastically changed my eating habits.  But the one thing that keeps those dark days away, is exercise.

If you ever have someone try to broach this subject with you, remember that they’re just looking for someone to talk to.  The best thing you can do for them is to listen.  Please don’t dismiss it quickly or make them feel ashamed.  They did not choose this and have nothing to be ashamed of.  Who knows, you might make a new friend.

305 lbs. Raising Someone Up

January 2016 and the new year was here.  I was signed up and ready to go with the Commit to Get Fit program again.  I made sure I got Cole as my trainer, and I now had a new work out partner–my oldest daughter.  By the time Commit to Get Fit started, her daughter was just old enough to go to the childcare, so that made it possible for her to come too.

I had gotten spoiled the year before for having Cole all to myself most of the time.  This year, we had several people in our group–all of varying ages and abilities.  My daughter was definitely the youngest.  There was another young mom, and a few ladies that were older than me.  The program was also shortened to 8 weeks this go around instead of 12, so that was definitely a disappointment.  We were also supposed to weigh in every week, so I felt like we wasted time weighing and using the machine to get our BMI that could’ve been used working out.  Still, we had full access to the community center, so my daughter and I came almost every day to work out.

At the end of January, I attended a meeting for work.  I and all of the drivers were required to be at this meeting about the future of the company we worked for.  I knew something was coming down the pike, but I didn’t know just what yet.  In September, Mr. G. had told me that another company was going to “partner” with us.  Just what that meant or looked like I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to pry.  Also, Mr. G. had made a few trips out of town, so I worked some extra days.  I knew these were business trips and that changes were coming.

What we learned was that there was no future.  The company had filed for bankruptcy the year before, which we all knew, and now had been sold to a larger company.  There were two representatives from the new company at this meeting, Charles and Jeff.  Charles was a down to earth country boy from Oklahoma.  Jeff was a business snob from the midwest.  I soon learned that all these business trips Mr. G. had taken were with Jeff.

We were all told about the new company and that we had 48 hours to fill out a job application online if we were interested in going to work for them.  They fed us lunch, and it was a very pleasant meeting.  Jeff knew an awful lot about each and every one of us which I found a bit creepy.  It was obvious that Mr. G. had spent a substantial about of time with Jeff and telling him about each of us.

As the meeting was winding down, I shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for their time.  Jeff said something to me to the effect that Mr. G. had told him how I had “saved the day” more than once.  I was grateful that he had heard good things about me and was hopeful that this would help in the hiring process.  The next thing he said to  me was, “Put your application in and we’ll see where it goes.”  I knew right then and there that Jeff had no intention of hiring me.

Even though my friend says that my gut is never wrong, when it tells me these things, I hope against hope that I’m wrong.  I went ahead and put in my application and within 24 hours I had a phone call from Jeff saying that they weren’t hiring any part-time people right now but that they might change their mind in 60-90 days–whatever that meant.

I sent a text to Mr. G. that said, “I guess my application didn’t go very far.”  I immediately got a phone call from Mr. G. apologizing profusely.  I told him that it was ok.  I wasn’t looking for a job when I got this one.  It was business, and I understood that.  These were good words for him to hear, as he had been spewed with anger and hate all week from many people in the office that had lost their jobs as well.

At the first of December I felt like God was telling me that he was going to remove Mr. G. from my life.   As I often do when God tells me something I don’t want to hear, I hoped against hope that I had a “hearing” problem–that somehow I got the message wrong.  I spent the month of December begging God to not take Mr. G. out of my life.  He had been a great support to me the last several months, and I in all my selfishness felt like I still needed that support.

Finally, in January I changed my prayer.  I asked God if He was going to remove Mr. G. from my life, for Him to bring someone bigger and better.  It was hard for me to imagine that there was anyone better out there, but I knew God could raise someone up.

 

305 lbs. Family Time

It felt great to finish the Couch to 5K program and to run my first 5K.  The last thing I wanted to do at this point was to lose any progress I had made during the summer.  I continued to try to run three miles three days a week from home.  Once daylight savings time went into effect this became very difficult.  Not only was there less daylight everyday, the weather was not very cooperative either.  Once the leaves started falling and they became wet, it was very treacherous going.  Running at night and not being able to see made it even more dangerous.

October also brought my first grandchild!  Prior to that my pregnant daughter ended up in the hospital in the middle of the night with the flu.  I had to enter the hospital at the emergency room and then go down to the maternity ward which is at the other end of the hospital.  I was told it was half a mile.  I ran it (literally) without any problems–something I couldn’t have done that long ago.

My good friend and cheerleader, Mr. G., told me one day that I was an inspiration to him.  He bought a membership to a community center near him for his entire family and was going there almost daily to work out.  I was a bit dumbfounded and asked, “How did I inspire you?”  “By all of those texts you sent me telling me to get up off my a**,” He said.  In shock I said, “I never sent such texts.”  His reply was, “That’s how I felt every time you told me you were running.”  I never knew that my texts were perceived that way.  When I was working, I was on call 24/7.  I felt it a responsibility to let him know when I was running on the days I worked in case someone tried to get a hold of me and couldn’t.

In the middle of December I got a phone call from Mr. G., “I’ve lost 15 pounds!”  I had not, so feelings of jealousy and unkind thoughts were what went through my head.  I felt like it was my turn to be the cheerleader, so in a cheerful voice I said, “Way to go, congratulations!”

Once Thanksgiving got here, running was almost impossible.  There would be a day here and there that I could run, but nothing consistent.  I also needed to support my daughter and her husband who were first-time parents, so I let family life take over.

The community center where I took classes also changed their fee structure.  Initially you could sign up for classes and just pay to go to those classes.  Now, you were required to have a membership and all classes were included in your membership fee.  I wasn’t sure that I was willing to pay for a membership just yet.  I really, really loved running, so I really only needed a membership during the winter months that I was not able to run outside.

I knew the Commit to Get Fit program would be starting again in January, so I decided to hold out until then.  I didn’t think I would get my money’s worth out of a full-year membership, so I decided to enjoy the time I had with my family until then.

Suffering Produces Endurance

Thank you Christian for nominating me for a 3-Day Quote Challenge.  Here are three quotes I’d like to share with my readers.

“Donald Trump will be our next president.”  This statement came from my competitive friend, Mr. G.,  in September 2015.  At that point, I wasn’t convinced that Donald Trump still wouldn’t drop out of the presidential race.  I can hear Mr. G. now, “I win, you lose.”  (I guess that makes two quotes?)

“Boring is good,”  Mr. D.  As far as life goes, yes.  The less drama the better.  Ya’ll know what I mean.

“Hurting people hurt people.”  A very wise friend, Mrs. W., said these words to me at a time that I was advising two ladies that had had a conflict.  These words have stuck with me.  I don’t always stop and think about them when I should–when I’m about to or have already lashed out at someone.  Instead of lashing out, I need to stop and think why I’m hurting and solve that problem instead of creating another.

These words come to mind more often when someone else hurts me.  It immediately draws my attention away from myself and the injury I have sustained and back towards the person that inflicted the injury.  They must be hurting.  How?  Why?  I immediately feel sorrowful for that person instead of myself and for the pain they must be experiencing.

Romans 5:3-4 tells us that suffering produces endurance:  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”  Let’s not forget that “faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Proverbs 27:6.

When I think of endurance, Hebrews 12:1 always comes to mind, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  After taking up running in 2015, I completely understand that running is all about endurance.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or how much weight you can lift, if you are lacking endurance you won’t get very far.  Of course, this verse is referring to our spiritual endurance.  We need endurance to get through life physically and spiritually.

The next time you are wounded by a friend, try to remember that hurting people hurt people and focus back on your friend and their wounds instead of yours.  But, when you do think of your wounds, remember that suffering produces endurance, which is something we need for survival.  Endurance produces character, and character produces hope which I believe is as important as the air we breathe.