October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?

The cost of giving birth

I didn’t want to write about this, because for me she’s so worth it. But then I started thinking about it. And it goes way beyond the money. So here goes nothing.

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It was late August when I started to notice something weird was a-brewing. My body had all the signs of my period coming, with no actual period. When the four pregnancy tests all came back positive, my head started spinning. The biggest concern I had? How was I going to afford having this baby?

See, I wasn’t in the typical job. I was working at a gym and paying for my own health insurance through Obama Care. I legit didn’t have a solid paycheck. Some weeks I made over $700, other weeks it was closer to $300. I was living life one day at a time, and trying my darndest to turn my dreams into reality. That was until I knew I was growing a human.

Everything shifted. I didn’t have the luxury known as paid maternity leave. Even when the gym closed and I was forced into an office job, I took the first thing I could find which ended up being a contract position that also didn’t offer paid leave. Even with insurance, the medical bills piled up. I paid just about a thousand dollars of bills before the baby even arrived. Which may not seem like a lot, but as a single parent with only one income it added up fast for me.

Thankfully, I am pretty savvy when it comes to money and saving up. I’m currently in week 7 of unpaid leave and have yet to dip into my savings to pay my bills. But my time is running out, and because of the bills piling up, I am forced to go back to work ASAP. As soon as my baby is 6 weeks I am hoping to be joining the workforce once again.

But can I just say how thankful and blessed I am to have health insurance? I pay for it monthly, but the fact that my medical bills from January until now would have been 42k without insurance is mind-numbing. Instead they are a measly $7,900. Well, as of now. I’m currently trying to get the state to help me pay since, once again, single income makes it hard to swing nearly 8k.

But birth costs more than just the medical bills. With birth comes a child. Who needs to be tended to 24/7. Daycare alone can cost upwards of thousands a month. And all the baby supplies. Mainly diapers and formula if needed. I’m thankful for friends and family who have helped in that department. But this is just the beginning.

And don’t get me wrong, like I said she is so worth every penny. Another thought I had was in relation to the changes my body would go through. After going through college at 120 pounds and thinking I was fat, I knew being pregnant and giving birth I would gain weight. Needed weight. But I was scared for the after-birth time, when I would look at myself in the mirror and see someone I didn’t recognize. A girl with extra weight.

It took me 32 years to get to the point where I loved myself no matter what my body looked like. And I’m happy to report that mindset stuck. I’m about 25 pounds overweight but still feel myself 100%. I still feel sexy, despite the extra curves.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be working hard to get the weight off. But I know I will enjoy every step in the process even more since I love myself and my body no matter what the scale says. I only cried once. And that is ok too.

After growing and birthing a human, I can safely say it’s all beautiful. Yes, I’m no longer on my journey to be She-Hulk, but now I’m just starting to work towards Wonder Woman, the mom version. 🙂

My journey to squat out a baby

After nearly 42 weeks of being pregnant, the time had finally come to evict baby girl Brice. Of course, she couldn’t just come out easily. This is my labor story.

At 41 weeks pregnant, my midwife scheduled my induction for Monday April 29th, with me going in Sunday night to start Cervidil. But my body had other plans. I went into early labor on Friday night. Contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes or so. But once I fell asleep, they were virtually non-existent most of both Friday and Saturday nights (despite walking as much as I could during the day). So Sunday rolls around, and same thing. Contractions every 6 to 8 minutes despite walking all over Oak Park and Forest Park. We pack up and head to the hospital around 7pm. I’m sure to bring my laptop so I don’t miss Game of Thrones.

The receptionist at the hospital mentions the midwife on duty is Jenna, the same midwife who told me not once but twice to watch my weight as I was gaining a little too much according to the amount she wanted me to gain. I take a deep breath and start praying internally so that everything goes well and that I look past Jenna’s shortcomings. As we wait for the nurses, we squeeze in the Game of Thrones episode, you know the one where Arya takes out the Night King. Holy shit! But the nurse checks a few things and tells me that my water has broken. I did notice a little trickle earlier in the day but just thought I was randomly peeing myself. Due to my water being broken, Jenna says we can’t do the Cervidil but can start the induction right away.

Thankfully my cousin Shawna shows up and she helps me by getting my lazy bum to walk laps around the hospital with my IV line of pitocin going. This is fun and dandy as she helps me breathe through the contractions which are definitely getting stronger and more consistent. We take selfies and we talk about how perfect the verse of the day is since it’s now Monday:

Matthew 11:28 King James Version (KJV)

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But then the battery dies on the wireless monitor, and I’m forced back to the room. This is where things head south. Once back in the room, Jenna comes in with some bad news. Baby’s heart rate keeps dropping during the contractions. The likely culprit is the umbilical cord, which could be wrapped around baby’s neck or leg or something that is causing this to happen. If this trend continues, the likelihood of a C-Section is high. Baby’s health is number one priority. I start crying, balling my eyes out. I can’t afford a C-Section, the recovery time alone will deplete my savings and then some (unpaid maternity leave sucks by the way, but that’s another topic). Jenna suggests we try a procedure to help relieve the pressure on the umbilical cord. There’s no guarantee it’ll work but she will try it twice in case the first time doesn’t work.

Sure enough, the first attempt didn’t work. As I’m laying in bad (due to this procedure), the contractions are getting more intense and painful. Also, Jenna mentions if we do go down the C Section route, I may consider getting the epidural sooner to help with the surgery. Due to this, in the middle of a contraction, I tell Shawna that I want the epidural. Thankfully, she says “We don’t make decisions during contractions.” Also, she determines we should give the procedure a 2nd chance, in hopes that it works. Thankfully it does. With Shawna’s help, I’m able to breathe through the contractions and I don’t fight the pain.

They move me to a delivery room and the first thing I notice is no tub. I had planned on and hoped for a water birth, but it looked like that was no longer an option. It was later determined that I couldn’t even get into the shower due to my IV and the fluid line going into my uterus. 7am comes a different midwife: it’s Mary and she’s my favorite. Around 8am, I asked for some rest. The nurse gave me a dose of Fentanyl to help me doze off for about 45 minutes or so. It was the perfect power nap I needed to make it through to the end. After that, I finally asked for a squat bar since they weren’t bringing one when Shawna asked for it. I had to get out of the bed. Being in bed was making everything worse for me. I felt like I had to be up and doing something to help this baby out. So with Shawna and Remi’s help, I get into a low squat with every contraction.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, those contractions sucked balls. I squat during them for about an hour and a half. At some point I ask for the stool to sit on as well. They put liners on it since I’m basically leaking fluids with each contraction. It was right around this point when the urge to push overtook me during the contractions. That’s how I knew it was go time. Mary makes me get back on the bed, and sure enough there’s a baby head. Up until this point I had been stuck around 6cm or so, but the hour and half of squatting helped get me fully dilated and ready to go. Mary coaches me on where and how to push. I’m pulling my legs up to my chest and giving it all I’ve got. Another hour and a half go by, of pushing this time. And then there’s a baby girl. And she’s perfect. And her name is Aria Lee. 6 lbs 14 oz 20 inches of amazing little baby girl.

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And I’d do it all over again in a heart beat. No epidural. It’s been a week and 5 days since she was born and I already feel nearly back to normal. Recovery hasn’t been bad. The first few days I was sore everywhere. Even my arms from holding up and pulling up my legs. But I was thankful to be able to walk right afterwards. And I was blessed to have nothing tear.

Overall, I would give Elmhurst Hospital and my experience a 4 out of 5. I was not impressed with the first midwife who did bring up C-section and epidural multiple times. But I know they are just doing their jobs and usually don’t deal with patients who choose to give birth naturally. Especially when pitocin is involved. I think a lot of people just assumed I would get the epidural once they induced me. But I fought hard to try to stick to my original plan. And despite taking a hypnobirthing class, I didn’t quite use the techniques but still feel like the class helped prepare me mentally for childbirth.

So I guess my two cents of this entire birthing experience is: squat it out. And prepare yourself mentally for the physical side of childbirth.

Things you don’t know until you’re pregnant

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I thought I knew about pregnancy, then I became pregnant. While there is so much information floating out there about pregnancy, and most of it seemed legit, I really didn’t learn most of these things until I discovered that I was growing a mini-me. And today I’m going to share these gems of knowledge with you all.

  • Pregnancy is ten months, not nine. Everyone says 9 months but it’s 40+ weeks. Do the math, 4 weeks a month that’s 10 months of growing a baby. I’m already 9 months pregnant and no baby yet. When is this thing over??
  • You don’t get to eat for two. Normal people always love to tell me I’m eating for two, but reality is I only get to eat another 300 calories a day. Yes, the struggle is real.
  • Your bones will move. Not just your hips but also your ribs widen. No longer do your undergarments fit, and those jeans that used to be HUGE on me? SUPER tight now. Almost cried because not sure I will ever be able to wear my clothes again.
  • Feeling movement in your belly becomes normal. I barely notice it when baby is moving these days. She’s almost always moving that it just feels natural. Wondering how my mind will adjust to no movements post-birth.
  • Guys will hit on you. Especially the closer to the end, the bigger I get the more date invitations I get. I kid you not, about 4-5 guys have asked me out over the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s because they think “hey she’s a decent looking whale” or “hey if she can be a mama she can likely take care of me too.” Either way, the answer is a hard no.
  • People will assume. Strangers and co-workers alike assume I have a husband, and tend to ask me if he’s just as excited as me. I’ve found it easier to just smile and nod, yes totally excited and if not does it even matter?
  • Enjoy every moment. The time before baby arrives is known as the baby-moon. It’s like a 9 month honeymoon, and it’s important to enjoy every moment of it. Because once baby is here, everything is different. Not a bad thing, just different.
  • Sleeping becomes interesting. You can’t sleep on your back, or stomach. And should ideally sleep on just your left side. Until everything goes numb and you die. The end. Just kidding, you will wake up to pee before dying. Many many times, especially towards the end when baby is all up on your bladder.
  • Things will be uncomfortable. Lower back pain and hip pain like I’ve never felt before. Oh the joys! Everything is uncomfortable: walking, sitting, sleeping, breathing, etc. But it really doesn’t start until close to the end so at least you know the end is near.
  • The bathroom is your friend. I spend more time peeing than doing anything else these days. At least I know I’m hydrated since I pee about 15-20 times a day and it’s almost always clear like water.
  • People will treat you differently. Almost like you have a disability. Not a bad thing, but people hold doors open for me and treat me a little more gingerly than normal. I do get told that I haven’t slowed down at all though by those who know me. I’d agree until this week, I feel like once I hit 39 weeks my body checked out. I definitely feel slower this week.

While all of these may or may not be a surprise to you, I feel like it’s been an adventure from day one. Watching my body go through the changes and tracking my baby’s growth has been amazing. I can’t wait to meet baby girl and hope she comes soon!

Hey, I just met you and this is crazy

But here’s my number, so call me maybe.

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This is an untold story. Actually, to be completely honest, I don’t think anyone knows this story other than me. My mom knew a bit of it, but she’s no longer here to tell it to anyone. And as far as I know, she kept my secret safe with her.

The year was 2012. I was newly engaged, about to plan the wedding of my life with who I thought was the love of my life. It was a cold wintry night when my Mom invited me out with her girlfriend. At first, I thought it would just be a lame night with a bunch of old people. But we ended up at a local bar that had a live band playing, and the crowd was mixed with mostly people my age. I ended up drinking a few drinks, and dancing with a few people. Nothing terrible, and always with my Mom right there with me. As the night went on, I kept crossing paths with a cute guy. My Mom was kind of nudging it on, since she kept talking to him as well. We danced and at the end of the night, he asked me for my number. I gave it to him, but didn’t plan on following up with him since you know, I had a fiance and all.

During the uber ride home, my Mom laid it out in plain, drunken word. She asked digging questions like: Do you really want to marry Vince? Can you see yourself with this guy, or someone else? Why are you texting this guy already?

I was texting him to let him know I had a great night but was about to get married and wasn’t looking to start anything. At all. Nada. Zip. Zero. Fast forward to sober Jen driving to work a few days later and this song plays on the radio and takes me right back to the bar, with the cute ginger boy. His eyes, his red hair, and his number in my phone leads me to texting him. Days later, we’re still texting a ton. A week or so later, my fiance notices that I’m texting a lot. This was pre-unlimited texting and I was getting dangerously close to the limit. So I had to stop. I told the ginger we had to cool it down. And we stopped talking. Dead silence.

Except for that time we met up again – once to see a movie and another time to get drinks with some of my friends. Yeah that wasn’t awkward. So I kinda liked him, but I was way too focused and stubborn to walk away from Vince. Also, morals.

Fast forward a few years later, I’m sitting in my empty castle of a house crying my eyes out and all of a sudden ginger boy texts me. At a moment of weakness, I cling on to him. But he is now living in St Louis (which I kinda knew anyways) and the idea of me driving down there to see him seems to be similar to climbing Mt Everest at this point in my life. What happens when we re-connect is interesting though. All of a sudden I start imagining how my life would’ve been had I followed my instinct. Had I left Vince, even if I didn’t end up with ginger boy, where would I be? Would I be happier? Could I have avoided a divorce and major heartache? Would I be better or worse?

And it brings me back to that night. What was my mom getting at? Did she know something I couldn’t see quite yet? Did she think Vince was the wrong choice?

Anyways, I didn’t end up visiting him in St Louis and actually decided he wasn’t the right guy for me. But it’s all interesting and in the spirit of sharing random stories about myself I wanted to share this one.

Also, it’s always the random guys I meet in the local bars that steal my attention away. After years of trying online dating, I already know that isn’t for me. Meet me in person, dance with me, buy me a drink, and let’s talk. 🙂

 

As a single woman, happiness is my only goal

received_2162487400681309Many single women feel like marriage is the ultimate key to eternal happiness, and I used to feel the same way. However, after going through a marriage (and divorce), I’ve learned that I’m in control of and responsible for my own life’s joy. Instead of spending time and energy focusing on marriage goals, I’ve shifted my focus on things that genuinely make me happy.

  1. I’d rather spend time growing. My professional and personal success is very important to me. While I greatly enjoy climbing the ladder in my career, I also have huge aspirations to own my own business and grow that as well. To a level where I have to just manage my employees and make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition to growing in my career, I also enjoy working on my spiritual and emotional growth.
  2. I love hanging out with my closest friends. I’ve been blessed with the absolute best friends on earth and I truly treasure our relationships. They’re some of my biggest cheerleaders, they make me a better person, and they play a vital role in my overall happiness. Instead of focusing on the romantic relationship I don’t have, I choose to cherish the platonic ones I’ve been blessed with. After all, these people are the ones who will be there through it all.
  3. Family is just as important. The time I spend with my family is so very precious to me. Especially after losing my mother a few years ago, I have grown to appreciate every moment I get to spend with my family. The joy I have when hanging out with my dad, step-mom, brother and sister (in-law) would be hard to replace. Same applies to my aunts, uncles, and cousins. They’re supportive and love me unconditionally.
  4. I want to travel the world. I love to travel. I’ve visited several different cities and countries but there are so many others still on my list. Traveling offers so many benefits. In addition to being an escape from the real world, it can also be very educational and enlightening. I always seem to return home with a new sense of purpose and gratefulness.
  5. I enjoy my “me time.” It wasn’t always the case that I would enjoy being alone. For so long, I longed to be around others and really really wanted a boyfriend to fill what felt like an emptiness within me. After achieving adulthood in my 30s, spending time alone provides a bit of self-rejuvenation. Whether I’m cuddled up on the couch enjoying a good book or catching up on my favorite television show, I can find plenty of happiness spending quality time with myself.
  6. Self-sufficiency is an accomplishment. My ability to take care of myself makes me very happy. It’s a great feeling knowing that I am my own provider. My self-reliance gives me a confidence boost that’s reflected in other areas of my life too. I rarely see a task as too difficult to take on. That’s a great attitude to have and one that I plan to keep even if I do end up in a relationship down the road.
  7. I love marching to the beat of my own drum. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to make my own decisions and not have to worry about how those decisions will affect anyone else. I absolutely love the fact that I don’t have to consult with anyone about my own life choices. It’s a beautiful feeling and one that I’m not quite ready to give up.
  8. I enjoy the carefree approach to love and relationships. I truly believe people would take more risks in relationships if they weren’t so concerned about things not working out in the end. I’m not advocating recklessness but there is something to be said about living in the moment and enjoying each season you’re in. There’s no pressure when you’re single. If things don’t work out, it’s OK.
  9. Being married doesn’t automatically make you happy. Trust me, been there done that. Got the fucking T shirt. But that shit takes work. I tried hard, for several years, to maintain the happiness only to find that the other half of the marriage already moved on without letting me know. As a single woman, if I focus on the things that truly make me happy, anything else that comes along, be it marriage or a family, is simply a bonus to an already wonderful life. And I’m getting a big bonus in April with my baby girl.

So it took me 30+ years to get here, but I’ve never been happier. The joy that shines from inside is sometimes overwhelming. And I hope to share this joy with as many as I can.

A special prayer

I recently found out that my ex is going through some major personal struggles. When I first heard this, a tiny part of me felt a little relief. Sometimes, when you’re on the outside looking in all you see is perfection. But then I felt guilty. And ultimately, I turned to God with all my feelings. I prayed a special prayer for my ex. One that I’ve been praying for since we split up over two years ago.

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I prayed that he find joy and happiness in God and Jesus. I prayed that God’s will be done when it comes to his personal life and struggles. I prayed that he felt love and hope through his family, friends and God. I prayed for God to grant him the strength and courage needed to get through this season of life. And once again, I felt my heart breaking for him all over again.

It also did make me realize that amongst the lies he told me, there was one truth. He really did want a family, just not with me. And while that is heartbreaking, I can’t hold someone back from finding what they truly want. I just hope and pray that this is truly God’s plan for him and that he does end up joyful and happy with his life choices.

I also pray that one day I find someone who not only deserves and can handle this type of love but who can love me in the same way. If this is how I feel and treat someone who cheated and left me for someone else, it’s unimaginable how it could improve for the person who actually loves me back.

That is exactly why I’m patient and willing to wait for the right guy, the one meant for me. I already tried it with the one not meant to be and it nearly killed me. But I still wish the best for him and his new family, even if that doesn’t include me. And I’m so very thankful God made it clear to me that we weren’t meant to be. This time I’m sitting still and listening to His voice to tell me His plan, in His timing. I focus my eyes towards Him and know that everything will work out according to His plan.

He’s already taken me this far. To Oak Park, to run my first marathon, to walk away from yet another toxic relationship, and to be given the blessing of my first baby girl due in another few weeks. I just keep focusing on the good and all the blessings I’ve been given. And through every season, I take the time to thank Him for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.

 

The Incomplete Book of Running review

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a local celebrity, Peter Sagal, who just so happens to live in Oak Park, runs, and is a host of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! AND he wrote a book that is supposed to be about running, but actually touches so much more.

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Peter has a story that isn’t completely different from mine. Although his divorce sounded much messier than mine (kids were involved) we both went through a divorce and we both turned to running to help heal our emotional wounds. While you may be thinking why or how would running help you? It’s not just the act of running but actually more so the act of running with others that helped me the most. Back in 2017, I entered the year married but separated. Married but divorce was legally pending thanks to my husband who filed right before the holidays. I was getting push back from my soon-to-be ex over credit card balances, video game systems, and microchip registration for our pets.

I was seeing my therapist weekly as well as reading a book and meditating daily, as well as working out as much as possible only to survive and rise above everything falling apart around me.

When Michael Chitwood came to my new church that I had just started attending the last two months to talk about his story and the Chicago Marathon, I felt a shift in my heart. And I heard God tell me that this was the year I was to train and run my first marathon ever. Everyone, including Michael, said it would be life changing. But I really didn’t know what he meant until I witnessed the transformation within me. There’s something about lacing up and sweating it out for minutes and then hours at a time with people. Things you never think to talk about come out. And there’s no judgment, because just when you think you’re the only one who’s going through struggles, your running friends have struggles of their own.

Through running, I’ve learned that no one is perfect. We all lace up for different reasons. Some of us run slow (me) and some run fast (Peter). But at the end, we’re all bettering ourselves. Whether we’re running the local 5K or the Boston Marathon, we are bettering ourselves. I love how Peter talks about running. He’s ran 14 marathons, and he didn’t start until he was 40. Despite all the odds, he qualified for Boston and has a crazy marathon PR of 3 hours and 9 minutes.

He also survived through his divorce that spanned years, and is now no longer running marathons, but still lacing up and inspiring others to do the same. If you’re on the fence of whether to start running or not, or if you’re an experienced runner, I would recommend this book either way. Peter provides insight into the world of running that I haven’t seen elsewhere. And writes in a very easy way to understand. This is a relatable book, even if you haven’t ran a marathon or not planning to.

Wake me up when September ends

The year was 2005. It had just been 2004 and I found myself entering my second semester at UIUC at a loss. I had dumped my boyfriend after Thanksgiving only to find myself falling head over heels for the wrong guy, again. The same guy who had pulled on my heart-strings since I was in High School. A guy who existed mostly in my imagination, which was exactly why it would never work out. I just kept hoping, but the longer I dug my nails in the less I had a hold of things.

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Everything felt like it was spiraling out of control. It was one of those days where I found myself in my dorm, only to be missing my very expensive and needed graphic calculator in order to try my hand at this chemistry assignment. I decided to anxiously walk/run rather than ride my bike on the icy roads. About an hour later I return to my dorm-room to find three police officers standing in the doorway. Instantly, I think what did my room-mate do? But she was perfect, unlike me. And I soon found out they were there for me.

It may be hard to believe, but up until this point in my life I had zero run ins with cops. Like literally never even been pulled over before. To say I was shaking would be an understatement. If I wasn’t already upset, I was in tears by the time they decided to take me to the emergency room. See, they weren’t there to arrest me. Instead, a very concerned friend called them on my behalf. My friend somehow didn’t have my phone number so instead of trying to get a hold of me, called the police.

At first I was mad. But then I realized I needed this wake-up call. I had been blogging some seriously “emo” stuff. And while I wrote it off as song lyrics that I enjoyed, they were all saying the same thing. I was sad, and I felt alone. Really alone. I was borderline anorexic, I would only eat when a friend was with me. I remember due to this, I would skip multiple meals, sometimes for a few days at a time. And I still thought I was fat. The body-image issues were out of control. And I felt like I was just crawling around campus hoping to find where I belonged. I went from a high school of about 2,000 students to a campus of about 40,000 students. I was literally lost among a sea full of people. I regretted my decision to attend one of the largest universities and felt like it was going to be the longest four years of my life.

It took awhile, but I ended up thankful that I spent hours that night and morning in the ER. I had to convince my mom and dad to not drive down to see me, and that I was totally okay. This was a turning point in my life. After a prescribed meeting with a therapist, I was already feeling better. A few girls in my dorm invited me to hang out with them. It ended up being a bible study, but that’s exactly what I needed: a small group of friends to feel like I belonged. I also, miraculously, started having a crush on a class-mate’s friend. Just when I thought I would never get over Mr. never-ending crush, I found myself chasing a cute engineer. And you know the rest, I ended the semester not wanting to go home, started the dating dare, and found Jesus. Right?

Not quite. My finding Jesus journey was just beginning. But you can’t climb to the peak if you don’t walk through the valley first. And this was one of those valleys I had to go through to learn that I couldn’t do life alone. This was the year I learned that if I rely solely on myself, I will fall short. I also learned that people care, and to give out my phone number to my friends more often.

 

How to get the girl of your dreams

I’m going to be completely honest with you. 99% of my posts are geared towards women. No offense to the guys, I just relate better with those with ovaries. But someone I met and went on a handful of dates with last year has apologized to me and more recently after apologizing again has asked me to share some insights and tips to “not screw up like how I did with you.”

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So all of you get to reap the benefits! By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it is definitely the things that keep me coming back. And I could totally tear this guy (and others) apart by listing what they’ve done wrong. But I like to keep things positive and suggest some simple things they can work towards in order to do everything to attract the next great person that they come across.

Next time you find yourself in the presence of someone awesome, focus on the following things:

  • Be honest. Y’all don’t even know how many times a guy has lied to me. May it be a white lie to make himself look better, or a bigger lie because he’s guessing at what I like and what I want to hear. Guys, be honest and be yourself. I’m not going to fall for that fake guy you’re painting. I strive to be completely honest (minus the sarcasm) and I expect the same from you.
  • Listen. Most girls love to learn about you, but also adore an active listener. I can’t tell you how often I sit down with someone and every time I’m talking they’re just thinking about what they want to say next. I know how it works, my mom was a master at not listening and just thinking about what she was going to say next (if she even let you talk in the first place!). Guys, I love it when you talk about yourself and I will listen carefully but I expect the same from you!
  • Be a gentleman. This is a dying art. Holding a door for a girl goes a long way. The things I notice seem small but go a long way. Are you opening the car door for me, or the restaurant/building door wherever we’re going? Do you walk me to my car? Do you offer a hand when it’s slippery? Do you say please and thank you? It’s silly but these tiny things don’t go un-noticed.
  • Be patient. Last but certainly not least, don’t pressure a girl into anything physical. Almost every guy I dated last year wanted to sleep with me ASAP. Like whoa boy, get to know me first. If you really do want to end up with a quality woman, you’ll be willing to wait and follow her rules. And it’ll be worth it.

What are some things you focus on when dating?