How to Love an American Man

Don’t you love the feeling you get when you finish up a really good book? Contentment, excitement, reflection & after all of that is over – the hunger to start something new & fresh.
That’s how I’m feeling as we wrap up our second book club in which we discussed “How to Love an American Man.” Last night’s was a bit different though – we had the chance to SKYPE w/the author, Kristine Gasbarre. How cool is that!?!
Here we all are, Skyping w/Kristine:
During our first book club we had seven ladies, but this month our numbers almost doubled at 12 in attendance. This makes a big difference in the atmosphere & focus so, for now, we’ve decided to max our group out at 12.
We were definitely excited to be Skyping  with Kristine halfway through the discussion – so that amounted to lots of chatter as well!
How to Love an American Man…
The overall consensous of the group was very positive. A couple of girls said that it was one of the best books they’ve ever read & everyone agreed that her writing is so relatable. As Kristine later explained, the story is much more about womanhood & discovering how to be who you are than about how to fall in love & be in a relationship. Which, in itself is the whole point, right? 
Kristine Gasbarre…
If you didn’t completely fall in love w/the book to begin with, you did once you met & fell in love with the author.
Kristine chatted with us post-walk w/her newish puppy & fit right in with our group. Talking to her was just like talking to one of the girls. She is so down to earth, true to her convictions & like she said, “nothing if not an open book.”
Here she is again on Skype:

We had such a fun evening getting to know Kristine. Here we all are together:
On another note – something else exciting has happened to our humble, little book club. Kristine connect me with Oprah Winfrey Network TV via Twitter & they will be sending us 12 author signed copies of Wild, by Cheryl Strayed! This is the first book that Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 will be reading. So cool!
To make it even better, Kristine Gasbarre will be reading the book & Skyping in to dicsuss with our book club!
  
Gotta love technology & social media. Until next time!

Here Goes Nothing: 1/2 Marathon Training Week One

This week we officially began our 1/2 marathon training program. I say officially because we’ve really been running consistently (2-3 a week) for the past three weeks & technically I’ve been running at least weekly all year. So I guess you can say we’ve been “pre-prepping.”
We began our official prep by heading to Go Run to grab some new running shoes. And they were awesome. The staff spent an hour helping us select the perfect pair of shoes based on the way we run. Although I must admit that this was the first time in my life in which the deciding factor of a shoe purchase was not based on apperance (call me shallow).

These are our first pair of Brooks!

Monday we began our runs! I had a 12 hour work day and Alex got off of work at 9 p.m., so we ran late, around 9:45 p.m.

It was a surprisingly easy run – 3 miles around my neighborhood @ Kellogg & Maize.

She is hardcore with all of her gadgets & supplies, post-run.

On Tuesday evening I ran 2 miles before boot camp w/Cory & on Wednesday we ran together again, this time 3 miles. We parked at the grocery store (as Cory would say, “our grocery store” – the Dillons at Kellogg & Maize) & ran up to 119th & 13th  before making our way back to shop. For some reason, Wednesday was a tough run for me – maybe it was bc we ran shortly after work, with the day’s heat still lingering at 6:30 p.m., but I made it through.
Thursday morning Kristine, Alex & I met at Sedgwick County Park at 6:15 to get in our 3 miles. Here we are, well – our silhouettes, per Kristine & Alex’s threats to stop reading my blog if I posted early morning, no makeup photos of us,  pre-run:

It was a peaceful run, with almost no one else in the park yet. Though I will say at 9:30 per mile, I had to push myself. The other runs we’ve been running between a 10-11:30 minute mile.
Friday was my rest day, but Saturday Alex, Cory & I woke up before 6 a.m. to join the other Go Runners out east for our first group run.
We were scheduled to run 4 miles, which was more than Alex & I had ever run outside, but still pretty easy for Cory. I had put my body through a lot on Thursday & Friday, between drinks & heavy food, so even waking up early Saturday morning was a feat, let alone running 4 miles.
Thankfully, we made it & with flying colors! For me, first two miles weren’t the easiest, but mile three & four went pretty smoothly.
The bad news: Alex has had an ankle injury since the River Run & it flared up pretty bad after 4 miles. More news on that to come…
Overall I ran 15 miles this week! Pretty cool to think about as I’m pretty sure I’ve never ran that many miles in a week. And it’s just week one.
It is still hard to imagine that we will be running 13.1 miles in four short months, but we are taking it one run at a time. Focusing only on what we have to accomplish each day & trusting that we will get there.

Spring 2012 – Come & Gone (Last Bucket List Update)

Well, well, well. Here I am on June 18th, basking the middle of almost official summer (it’s here next Wednesday!) & I still have five items left uncrossed on my Spring Bucket List.

Such is life, right? I always make my to do lists a tad too long – it’s hard not to! Here are the rest of my checked off to do’s + the ones I didn’t quite get to.

– Make Glitter Easter Eggs
– Grill Out Often
Not often enough for my taste, but considering we are rarely home for dinner, grilling out as much as we did will have to do.
You must have some sort of drink in hand while you grill.
One of our first grilled meals of the season – eaten al fresco (or al fresca, like Cory says).

– Ride Bikes

We took our bikes out for the first time this week & had a nice, long, sweaty ride around Sedgwick County Park!

– Celebrate my Birthday
– Have a Picnic

No picnics for this girl, yet. We do plan on going to the vineyard in Clearwater, buying up a bottle of wine (after we taste our fair share, of course) & camping out for a picnic lunch. Now to get that plan on the calendar…

– Travel to California
– Walk Dogs Often
– Complete Warrior Dash
– Shop at the Farmer’s Market

There’s always summer…

– Play Tennis

It’s been too many years to count since I’ve played. Now that I’ve taken on this 1/2 marathon – who knows when we’ll get time to play tennis! Maybe this will be a fall to do.

– Travel to Vegas

One of my favorite Vegas trips ever, even if I had to work! Here’s Alex & I after dinner at SW in the Wynn.

– Go to the Drive-In

We must go this summer. It’s been one of my favorite Wichita activities since I was a child & now that my husband has a big truck we have NO EXCUSE!

– Put Our House on the Market
– Read Often (Outside)

I’m going to blame this one on the weather. We had such a short spring that most of my reading did not get done outside. Even so, here are the books I read this spring:

Ideal Wife
Heart of the Matter
Fifty Shades of Grey
How to Love an American Man

The last is for June’s book club & my first purchase from Watermark Books – awesome little space.

– Attend WSU Baseball Game
– Spring Clean
– Make Up Jar Project

Will this one ever get done? Who knows. : )

Now it’s time to move on & as much as I love to do lists, I think I will just take the summer to enjoy whatever it is I choose to do & of course, soak up the sun.

Enjoy the last day of spring tomorrow!

National Running Day

I’ve always been a runner. A runner who runs once or twice a month & calls it good, that is.
This January, we were on vacation in Hawaii & used running as our main form of exersize. You can’t really beat running along the beach. From then on I’ve taken my running a little more seriously, building up endurance & training for the 2 mile River Run, two 5ks & the Warrior Dash – a 5k obstacle course this year so far.
I mean, I grew up as an athlete. When I was a child I was in dance classes, took gymnastics & excelled in cheerleading. In middle school & high school I added: track, soccer & tennis to the list of sports I played. As you can see, those sports involve lots of running, either during the actual sport or training for it.
So running is not new to me, but it has not been something that I’ve excelled at – other than sprinting (I can do a mean 10 second sprint, ask my husband).
A couple of weeks ago a glorious thing happened. A friend from work swayed Cory & I to run in the Victory in the Valley 5k with her & her boyfriend. They had not been preparing for the race (neither had I) & were’nt huge runners to begin with, so while Cory wanted to get a good time, I promised to stay with them.
I started off running at a pace slower than I had ever gone before. After about a mile there was a hill & for some reason, I had a burst of energy & felt ALIVE when running up it. The rest of the race went so well & I wasn’t even out of breath when I sprinted across the finish line.
I felt AMAZING. I would soon discover that during that race I had found “my pace.”
This is Cory & I on a run around our neighborhood this morning. It IS National Running Day, after all.

Meanwhile, my best friend, Alex had been prepping for some running events this spring/summer too. One day after we finished a two-mile run, she mentioned that she would eventually like to run a half marathon. She was even considering signing up for the Prairie Fire.
And so the story goes…
I’m running a 1/2 marathon THIS YEAR. Holy shit (pardon my French).
 I always thought I might do one, just not so soon.
Duing the time we were debating, my friend Kristine & the same friend I ran Victory in the Valley with, Bonnie also mentioned that they were considering running in the Prairie Fire. My husband is participating in the Tough Mudder (like the Warrior Dash, but much more intense & about 4 times as long – 10 to 12 miles) a week before the Prairie Fire 1/2 & said he would run it too, since he will already be training. And then my friend Kate mentiuoned that she wanted to do something to get in shape.It was meant to be.
So here we are, five first time 1/2 marathoners & my husband (who is out of our running league), training for our run in October.
Follow my blog weekly, as I will be posting updates on how our training is going. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to run one too. : )

Complaints

Lately I’ve found myself complaining often. It’s not an attractive habit. In fact, it’s nasty. Especially when I am blessed beyond belief, as is everyone else I know.  
I’ve been complaining to everyone who will listen about this or that, but most often I’ve been complaining about my work load & stress level. It’s almost like I complain to get a bit of relief, by taking everything out of my head & putting it on to others to analyze & help share the burden.
But when I get done, it doesn’t really feel like relief. It just feels like complaining. Yuck.
When I first started working for the firm I’m currently with, our small group was reading a book called, “The Good and Beautiful God,” in which one of our tasks was to list the things we considered blessings in our lives.
I decided it was high time to revisit the list of 60 blessings that I had compiled a year & a half earlier.

It’s so easy to get out of the habit of being thankful for the lives that we lead, which I realize now more than ever when I view my list of blessings and can immediately think of ten + more that I could add to the list.

I think sometimes we need to just take a deep breath & give ourselves a reminder.

Here are five things I had on my list:
1. My Husband.
(Here we are at Wine Fest. I got into beer for him & he got into wine for me.)
I could write a whole post on the qualities I am thankful to have in my husband (and perhaps I will), but most importantly I am thankful for this: Cory is always willing to try. It’s simple thing, but something that I don’t take for granted. I know many ladies whose spouses are stuck in their ways & so stubborn that they are unwilling to try anything new, whether it be reaching for a fitness goal together, going to therapy or enjoying a place outside of their norm. Seeing this reminds me of how thankful I am for my man. : ) 
2. Our Home.

(Right after we closed.)
Now that it is on the market & may no longer be ours, I appreciate even more than I did when I made this list. It’s been a lovely first home to have, although it may be a bit cookie-cutter, we have all the space we could want.
3. Our small group friends.
(Quin & Kristine celebrating my 26th birthday w/me.)
Over the past year we’ve added some really awesome people to our bible study & I am continually thankful to be in a group of people who push & encourage me to grow as a person, without judging where I’m coming from.
4. Yoga.
(Cory & Kristine posing outside of our favorite yoga studio. This was Cory’s first class – back to #1.)
I’ve been in & out the practice over the past year & am now getting more serious w/it again (meaning, REALLY trying to go once or twice a week, not once or two a season & saying that I try to go once a week). I’m thankful to have somewhere to go to be silent, to push my body & to “get my yoga glow” when I leave.
5. People that believe in me.

(My brother-in-law, sister, cousin & nephews came to support me at the River Run! So sweet.)
I’m thankful to have people in my life who believe in me, even when I don’t always believe in myself. Everyone should have at least one person like this in their life.
Here are five things that I would add to my list, if I were to redo it today:
1. Baby Briggs.
He is the sweetest baby I have ever met.
2. My Body.

(Pre-River Run.)
It’s amazing the things that it can do.
3. Hope.

(A view from our hotel room in Northern Colorado last fall.)
For us, right now there is a hope in the air that we will be able to move our lives to Colorado & start a wonderful adventure, somewhere new to both of us.
4. Live Concerts.

(At the Eli Young Band w/some of my pretty friends in Feb. Eli Young is always a good time.)
Because what’s not to love? This is definitely a favorite past time of ours that we share with our respective BFs.
5. My struggles.

(Walking the dogs in the park on a Saturday morning – another new & loved past time of ours.)

I just ran across this quote tonight: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” When we’re in the middle of turmoil in our lives, it’s so easy to think, “Why me?” “Again?” But looking back, it’s easy to be thankful for what we’ve gone through because it makes us who we are today.
I started to write this on Friday evening & have honestly felt so much more thankful since that evening. It’s awesome what counting your blessings & saying thanks can do for your attitude.
I hope this inspires you to make a list of all of the things you are thankful for, big & small.
Happy Counting!