2014: The Year of Balance

Happy New Year!

Are we still saying that? It is already half-way through the first month of 2014… hard to be believe. Nonetheless, Happy New Year if I haven’t said it to you before today.

How are the new year resolutions going? I’m certain you’re all exceeding your own expectations.

Things have been a little wild in my corner of the world. The biggest news of all – I am starting a new job! I’m leaving my old company (which I’ll likely post about later this week) and will be starting as Marketing Manager of a new company next week. It’s amazing how life works out… I’m thrilled for a new adventure!

But, that’s not why I’m writing. Today, we’re talking about the new year and resolutions. Following my approach in 2013, I chose not to make resolutions this year. I know, list-lover that I am, it is odd to go against tradition on this one. But, I can’t shake the feeling that all the good from last year, as well as the ability to manage the bad, stemmed from my resolution to focus on the small stuff.

Yes, yes. Last year, I set out to accomplish all the little things – like flossing every night, regular exercise, and making my bed each morning,. Things someone in their thirties should probably have a good handle on, but I did not. I mean, who likes flossing? No one. But, my hope was that if I focused on little actions that they’d add up and turn into some big results. Luckily, they did just that.

2013 resulted in some major accomplishments and I’m so pleased with the year that I’d like to simply maintain all the good we were blessed with rather than reaching for anything new (except the job, of course!!).

So, in 2014, I’m focusing on balance. Last year, there were four months when all I did was run…. quite literally. There was several times where work was put before everything else. There have been more times that I can count when I look at my volunteer commitments and want to cry. Over the course of a year, it all evened itself out, but I know that my life was unbalanced at many times in efforts to achieve one thing or another.

In the new year, and with a new job, I hope to set realistic, achievable goals and set my boundaries and expectations early on. I hope to continue to workout regularly and make good eating choices even though I’ll be in an office again. I plan to spend less time on the computer and more time with my two guys and furry kids. I hope to limit my volunteer commitments to only those that that truly resonate with my values and not take on projects out of guilt, fear, or obligation. I’d like to take the little man on more adventures and be able to focus entirely on him and the moment – instead of having my mind race to other projects or tasks to do.

It’s already looking like a promising year and, I really believe, if I can maintain balance and keep the good from 2013 going, there’s no telling what could happen!

Happy New Year! What are your resolutions?

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2013: One of the Best

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Well, tomorrow is the last day of 2013 and, like most, I’m reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the year ahead. Unlike most, I can jog my memory for what actually happened in 2013 by reading my own blog.

And, I have to say, I’m quite pleased with the past year.

However, when I got to my New Year’s Resolution list for 2013 to see what I could cross off, I realized I didn’t make one. Gasp!

In the year that I bought a new house, vacationed in Mexico, hosted a Circus Party for my one-year old, saw Hillary Clinton speak, lost all feeling in my leg but then got it back, and then trained for and ran in the New York City Marathon, I didn’t set out to achieve anything.

I’m not really sure how to process this.

List-lover that I am, it doesn’t make sense that I accomplished anything without first writing it down. And yet, I can say that 2013 was probably one of the best year’s of my life. In fact, I really don’t know what to put on a list for 2014 because I’m not sure it can get much better.

Aside from my own achievements, this year was also the year my middle sister got married and my littlest sister got engaged. My dearest friends welcomed a new baby and we moved within a half-mile of each other. My brother moved across the country twice and is expecting a little boy next spring.

And the greatest news of all, my dad was diagnosed with stage 3 throat and tongue cancer and beat ithe is now 100% cancer free.

Yes, 2013 was full of surprise, blessings, change, and growth. You know, my spouse always says that 13 is his lucky number. It was his soccer jersey number when he was a kid and, oddly enough, both of the houses we’ve owned have had 13 in the address. After the year we’ve had, I think he’s right.

Let’s hope my soccer jersey number from when I was young, 14, will prove to be as good to us! I have a sneaking suspicion things are going to be great in 2014…. but more on that later.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you enjoy celebrating 2013 and have a wonderful 2014!

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Thankful Wednesday: Running

I’ve been wanting to write about the NYC Marathon since I got home from the race, but I keep getting intimidated by it. To express how I felt that day seems almost impossible. And, thanks to our digital world, I’ve already shared a lot of pictures, my race time, and other details about the race online in several formats (so sorry for the overkill!).

But, during this week of thanks, I have to express how thankful I am for running and especially for the opportunity to run the NYC Marathon. I finished the race in 3 hours  57 minutes and 3 seconds – exceeding my goal of 4 hours and 15 minutes by so much more than I expected.

Throughout the race my legs hurt, my left arm went numb and my feet ached, but the energy of the crowds and the excitement of running through the burroughs of New York kept me going. Also, a little prayer for special people in my life at the start of the hardest miles helped immensely.

When I hit mile 22, I knew I had a chance of finishing under four hours. And it was then that I started to really break down mentally and physically. But, lucky for me, that’s also when I hit Central Park.

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Literally thousands of people lined the streets with motivational signs and whistles, clapping, and loud cheers. On my left side, buildings reached up to the perfectly blue sky. And on my right, the golden leaves of hundreds of trees in Central Park sparkled.

When I saw the ’1/2 Mile To Go!’ sign, I was passed by the 4-hour pacer and I became panic-stricken that I was going to miss my newly formed sub-4 goal. So, I kicked it into another gear … and pain shot through my knee.

At that moment, I realized I was literally giving every last piece of myself to get across the finish line. I put the pacer out of my head, confident in my timing, and gave all that I had to cross the finish. And, once I crossed, I cried.

Never in my life have I tried as hard as I did that day. Which, truth be told, may not be a good thing. But, it was certainly life changing. To know what could be accomplished and to understand what it feels like to fully give my all made me realize that I can do just about anything. If I try that hard in other aspects of life, there’s no telling what could happen.

Today I am thankful for running the best marathon and best race of my life. Running gives me peace, relieves stress, and keeps me sane. I’m thankful to have found a passion that compliments the rest of my life so well. Thanks for listening to me talk about the race one more time … I’ll stop now. :)

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Happy Thankful Wednesday! What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Tuesday: This Turkey

I think I’ve posted this silly image every year I’ve had this blog, so I apologize for repeating it once again. But, I just can’t help it. That goofball turkey face cracks me up every.single.time.

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I cut out this image and headline from the National Enquirer when I was in high school because it made me laugh until I cried. Somehow, I have managed to save it for years and years. And every time I look at it, that turkey makes me giggle.

Hope you had a terrific Tuesday! What are you Thankful for today?

Thankful Monday: Thank You Notes

Well, today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Great way to start off the week of Thanksgiving, let me tell ya.

Instead of counting blessings and giving thanks (which I was literally doing as I went to bed last night so, like, what happened??), I muttered angry phrases at other horrible drivers, yelled at my pug, and couldn’t stop thinking of my seemingly countless failings in life.

Obviously, this is not how I want this day or week of Thanks to go down. And, I am aware that I have more than most to be thankful for and I can’t let a case of the Mondays ruin today or any other day this week. So, I tried to cheer up… and failed.

Christmas music. Check. An inspiring email from my little sister. Check. A lot of coffee. Check, check, check. Better mood? Nope. What can be done with this awful mood!?!?!

Determined to feel thankful, I dove into a stack of thank you notes I’ve been meaning to write to everyone who contributed to my NYC Marathon Charity – the Jackson Gabriel Silver Foundation.

And, guess what? I finally feel better. I feel more thankful. By choosing to spread gratitude and harnessing the feelings of deep, deep appreciation I have for everyone who supported me throughout the four months of long runs, fundraising and one incredible race, I actually changed my mood.

I feel grateful and ready for the week. I’m motivated to do my work. I’m motivated to host our Thanksgiving visitors. I’m especially motivated for tonight’s run. Even better, I’m determined to fix those nagging failings and stressors I was focused on this morning.

So, if you’re struggling to find a reason to be thankful, pull out a stack of thank you notes and write a few to some deserving people in your life. I think it’ll help you find a lot to be thankful for and will help make your week of Thanksgiving that much more fulfilling.

Happy Thanksgiving week!! What are you thankful for?

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Thankful Thursday: Changing Leaves

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Turns out, it’s fall.

Yup, autumn is officially here in Colorado. There’s a chill in the air. The trees are radiant shades of orange, red and gold. It’s snowing in the high country (that’s what we call the mountains). Change is upon us.

Daylight savings is probably soon, too. Right?

I’m unsure of exactly when fall happened. In Crazytown (where I spend most of my time), there are no seasons. But in Fort Collins (where I actually live), autumn arrived at some point in the last few weeks and now that I’ve finally noticed … autumn is awesome (as is alliteration).

Of course, fall is just a precursor to the real event (Christmas). But, it’s nice to stop and smell the dead leaves, too. Autumn, just like ever other season, is another chance to start over. Another list to start (you know how I love lists). Another chance to get it right (whatever ‘it’ is).

Lately, life has been a little hectic with a side of emotional outbursts. But, I’m optimistic about the coming months. I’m looking forward to the chance to get it right. I am thankful for the changing leaves that alerted me to this season that’s zipping by at lightening speed. I plan to slow things down a bit and enjoy this time of year as much as possible. (And, I’m thankful it’s almost Christmas!)

In summary, in case you didn’t notice, fall is here. Take time to enjoy it. Happy Thankful Thursday, what are you thankful for today?

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Get Up. Dress Up. Show Up. And Never Give Up.

photo+4+(1) Last week, I attended #HRevolution and #HRTechConf. This blog, clearly, is not an HR blog or a marketing blog (which is what I do in the HR industry). But, I am compelled to share my experience, nonetheless. I think you’ll enjoy it even though HR might not apply to you.

At both events, especially #HRevolution, I was beyond impressed with the knowledge, insight and creativity of the HR and marketing professionals in attendance. So much so that, within the first 30 minutes of my first session, I was too intimidated to tweet or post  (which is encouraged) about the content. Further, I was too intimidated to speak up and contribute to the incredible conversations happening during the sessions for fear of saying the wrong thing and looking foolish.

The people at these events were very welcoming and encouraged sharing, but I was mute. This rarely happens to me. Yes, many years ago when I was a freckle-faced, skinny junior high girl with braces, I was shy. But, fast forward to today, and being ‘shy’ is no longer how most people would describe me. However, when sat down in a room of professionals that I admire and aspire to be like, suddenly I found myself quiet.

I’ve also noticed this shy behavior when it comes to writing and blogging. After writing for quite awhile over at my old site, I attempted to cultivate online relationships and partnerships with other bloggers to grown this little blog. Instead, I found that the more I dug for information and researched other bloggers/writers, the more I realized that I wasn’t at the caliber of most of the women (and a few men) whose blogs I admired. And, as a result of my newly-realized incompetence, I became shy.

How? I stopped writing as much. I began to doubt whether or not what I was writing was valuable or unique. I thought I needed a better site, a catchier title, better photos, and more extensive understanding of search engines and social media to even think about blogging. And so, as you may or may not have noticed, my writing and frequency of posts has dwindled.

When it comes right down to it, HR professionals and bloggers scared me. Like, the two most on-your-side-let-us-try-to-help-you people scared the living daylights out of me because I didn’t know as much as them. I am not the expert that they are. I don’t have as many followers, as many site hits, as deep of a knowledge base, or as engaging of a marketing strategy. Compared to all the HR gurus and blogging superstars, I know very little. So, why even try?

Weighed down with these thoughts, I went running. I ran and ran and ran and ran. All Forrest Gump n’ shit. And during my run, as per usual, a moment of clarity struck me.

I’m not the fastest runner out there. I can’t run the longest distance (seriously, I don’t even know how far an ultramarathon is). I don’t have the best gear or a racing sponsor. People don’t ask me to write about or speak about running. I’m certainly not a professional, an elite competitor, or really a competitor at all. I just run.

However, I am the first to ask you to run with me. I look forward to #runchat every week. I happily chime in on conversations about running, offer advice, and look for an opportunity to convert non-runners to runners. Even though I’m not the best, the fastest, or the most educated on running, I am rarely intimidated by other runners.

And that’s because it never occurred to me not to run. I never thought to walk away from the starting line because I wouldn’t be the first to the finish line. Why would I?? By signing up for races, training hard, and seeking expert advice, I’ve become a relatively decent runner.

So why, especially in my professional life, have I reacted the way I did to a roomful of smart HR people or the blogging community? Instead of ‘lacing up’ and getting out there, I shied away from the opportunity to learn. I skipped the practice I need to get better. I disregarded the concept that we need to put in 10,000 hours to become really, really good at something. And I missed the whole point of attending conferences and sharing online – getting to learn from the experts.

So, my takeaway? Keep putting one metaphorical foot in front of the other.  For work, the only way I’ll show up at next year’s conference ready to participate fully is if I join in conversations throughout the year, be willing to say the wrong thing so other people can teach me, do my homework and work, work, work.

And the same for my blog. By continuing to write and continuing to network, I’ll only get better. Create, create, create. Write, write, write.

No matter how intimidated you may feel, no matter how unsure of your own work you are,  keep at it. Never Give Up. Otherwise, you’ll continue to stand on the sideline instead of run the race. And I can tell you from experience, it’s much better to run the race.

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Training Tip Tuesday: 10 Minutes

Training for the NYC Marathon is getting tough.

The financial commitment is looming out there on the horizon. And even the logistics of navigating the city on race day is starting to burden me down.

The running itself has had its ups and downs, too. My 17-mile training run left me wobbly and sore for days; I was convinced I’d made a mistake and would never be able to finish the race. However, my 18-mile training has left me feeling strong and ready to take on this challenge. Strange how much can change from week to week. Even day to day.

Some days, getting in a 5-miler is no problem. Easy-peasy. Other days, it can be extremely challenging to get inspired to lace up – especially when life is throwing curve balls (like floods and fires) at you.

But, to succeed on November 3, I have to get out there and do it. Right? (Yes. The answer is yes.) And for you to achieve your goals, you’ve got to keep going too, right? (Also, a yes.) So, how can we get out there and do it day after day even when we’re tired, sore and unmotivated? What is there to do when sheer will, determination and stubbornness have worn off?

My suggestion: Trick yourself.

It works for me just about every time. If I’m having trouble mustering up the motivation to get out there and run, I just tell myself I’ll only go for 10 minutes. And if, after ten minutes, I still feel like I don’t want to run then I can stop.

Over the course of my running history, I think I’ve actually stopped once after tricking myself with this method. Every other time, the little bit of energy produced from that 10-minute warm-up (and the creeping endorphin rush) took over and I completed my full workout.

It’s kind of silly because deep down I know that I’ll go for longer. But, saying it’s okay to stop and take a rest day when my body really isn’t responding to a warm-up seems to get me going every time (except maybe that once). And, quite honestly, if your body isn’t responding after ten minutes, you likely really need the rest day!

So, next time you don’t feel like running, walking, or participating in your chosen physical activity, just try doing it for ten minutes. I bet you’ll surprise yourself by how often you get in a complete sweat session. It totally works.

So, how about you? Do you trick yourself into a workout? Does it work?

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Thankful Thursday: State of Mind

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Happy Thursday!

Well, it’s another day of rain for Northern Colorado and things aren’t looking good out there. Lots of flooding in our part of the state and the rain is still coming down. Please send us good thoughts to dry us up! And, if you’re in the area, be careful out there!

But, that said, I am thankful for today. I would be more thankful if there wasn’t flash-flooding but I am thankful nonetheless. Why?

 …. Running!

I know, you’re getting sick of me talking about running. I can’t help it! I think about it all.the.time.

This week, I’m thankful for running because it has had a very positive impact on my state of mind in recent weeks. Endorphins aren’t just giving me a runner’s high every so often. Oh no. I’ve been better equipped to handle stress and all the ups and downs of life. I’ve been happier, more calm, more relaxed, and have experienced less anxiety. And, I believe it’s due to running a lot (like a whole helluva lot).

There are a ton of great quotes that sum up how running really does impact your overall well-being (you can find 41 of them here) and these are a few of my favorites:

  • I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought. - Arthur Blank
  • If you train your mind for running, everything else will be easy. – Amby Burfoot
  • Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about. - Patti Sue Plumer

And this one seems especially fitting this week:

  • When it’s pouring rain and you’re bowling along through the wet, there’s satisfaction in knowing you’re out there and the others aren’t.  – Peter Snell

I hope you find your never-ending runner’s high. Stay dry out there!

Happy Thankful Thursday!

P.S. Clearly the image above isn’t about running but it is amazing state flag art I recently purchased from my friend, Matt. (State of mind. State flags. Kind of all goes together, no?) Aren’t they awesome!?

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Nose in a Book: Fall Reading List

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All right. I know it’s not actually fall yet but it’s a rainy dreary day here in Colorado and it sure as heck feels like fall. I tell ya what, we are certainly spoiled by sunshine here in this beautiful state. After only two days of rain, I’m missing my blue skies.

But, we must make do.

So, I’ve been planning a date with my couch, a blanket and good book for later tonight (what else can be done in this weather, right?). I have a stack of library books on my nightstand and a few I hope to check out this fall on my ‘to read’ list. Since I feel that friends frequently ask for book suggestions, I thought I’d share what I’ll be sticking my nose in.

Please share any ‘must reads’ that you love or want to read in the comments.

1. How Should A person Be? by Sheila Heti (I’m actually about half-way through this and so far, meh.)

2. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

4. Once a Runner by John L. Parker

5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

6. Freakin’ Fabulous by Clinton Kelly

7. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

8. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific by Cheryl Strayed

9. How to Hepburn by Karen Karbo

10. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin

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