I Will Rise – Knocked Down But Not Forever

My life has been far from easy.  In fact, it’s been a challenge since my birth.  I have a friend who often will comment about my life, either to me or to others, in how I could have given up, or used my circumstances to not even try in life.  I never did though, give up, it’s just not who I am.  Why am I who I am though?  I grew up without a father, he was absent before I was born.  My mom did her best to raise me and my two brothers, however there were a lot of challenges.  Looking back I feel like somehow I was in a love bubble, or that’s how I have to try and explain it.  I feel like for some reason I was protected from all the rejection and pain, or at least in part.

Truth is I have very little memory of my childhood.  I never doubted my moms love, however, she was busy working to make ends meet.  We moved every year (or more) meaning there was no consistency in our lives.  Relationships with others, in school, in the neighbourhood, etc. didn’t happen, we were never there long enough.  It’s hard to build memories I guess when life is always changing.

The longest we ever stayed anywhere was when my mom remarried.  We moved into a house (my first) and I entered Grade 5.   We stayed in that home through Grade 9, or part way through, until we moved again.  So for just over 4 years I experienced a little bit of consistency in my life.  I was part of groups at school, I was a cheerleading for the community football team and I made friends.  Two of those friendships that I’m proud to say we are still in relationship today.

My “parents” had started going to church and dragged me along with them.  It was around this time I met my future husband in Sunday school (we were teenagers).  We didn’t date, but we noticed each other 😉  Unfortunately, my parents split up and with that came yet another move.  I ended up moving out on my own when I was just 17 (or so).  Life’s challenges did not stop there.  In fact it was during one of those challenging times, I was re-introduced to my future husband, Kevin, but this time we started dating 🙂

After we were married and expecting our first child, we began questioning what we believed, what our role as parents were supposed to be. All of a sudden we were about to be responsible for another human life, what did this mean? I grew up with a very limited understanding of God or faith.  Sure my mom made me go to church but I certainly did not embrace it. Was there really a God?  If so, what did that mean? Why would He care about me? Where was He when I was growing up? These were questions I began to ask myself.

My husband and I have been on a faith-filled journey ever since. Thankfully, we do not need to have all the answers. We’ve overcome a lot together, through all of the difficult times I never wavered in my faith, not for long anyways.

So what was different three years ago? Was it all too much at one time? Was it the magnitude of the experience? Was it because the pain was so intense and great to the ones I loved the most? I really do not know why, but I broke.  I still believed in God, I believed He loved me but that was it….the rest crumbled. My understanding of my faith shattered, I was lost.

This is when running really took on a whole new meaning for me.  I began focusing on distance and training for marathons. It was extremely therapeutic for me. I met some wonderful people through running and was able to share my heart on some long runs. It was what I needed for that season in my life.

In 2015, I knew I needed to work on getting healed up. I needed to let God begin to heal some wounds. I began to make small steps to building that relationship back up.  They were baby steps, sometimes forwards, and lots of times backwards, but I was moving again.

I have always loved to learn and am a student at heart.  I had received my Ministerial Diploma probably 15 years ago (a 3 year program). I found out that the school was offering a fourth year starting in September, only available to graduates. I knew I needed to sign up, it was to be part of my journey, but I was extremely anxious about doing so. I was still very lost, my confidence in who God was and what the word really said was extremely low. I decided not to let fear stop me, but to allow myself to be vulnerable.

It was also around this time that I wanted to do more with my running.  To inspire others to not give up.  Little did I know it would lead me to the Grand to Grand Ultra, I’ll continue sharing about that journey in future posts.

It’s been less than a year of intentionally moving forward, I’m amazed at how much has changed and yet I’m still working through “issues”.  The negative “feelings” (anguish, despair, loneliness, helplessness, etc.) are no longer at the forefront, instead I’m feeling stronger, hopeful, and encouraged again.

I was recently invited to join an online group called Faithful Finish Lines.  It’s a 7 week program where you are encouraged to achieve a goal, whether it be physical or spiritual.  I accepted the invitation more for the spiritual.  I wanted to surround myself with others on a similar journey, and I wanted needed accountability.

prayerrunOne of the members recently suggested a weekly prayer chain, we are invited to share a prayer request and each of us commit to pray for one another.  I took each prayer request and wrote them on a posted-note.

When the weather is bad I hop on my treadmill for a run and pray for these precious needs. Just one week in and I’m already thrilled with my decision to join.

How about you?  Are you on a faith journey? Life can be hard but we do not need to do it alone.

Bringing Together My Two Loves For One Grand Adventure

I did not go into 2015 with the intention of running so many races.  I knew that I would do a spring and fall marathon but all the in betweens just kind of happened.  Running can be an individual sport but also very social.  Given an opportunity to travel with running friends and run my first Ultra was too good to pass up!  AND I have no regrets in doing so.  I found out that my mental strength was quite strong.  This of course boosted my confidence for bigger goals.

I remember just prior to running my Ultra I thought I was going to take it easy in 2016.  Allow myself to recover fully and give my body a rest.  If I could just get through running this race then I would likely slow down for a bit.  Ummmm, so that didn’t happen!

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Fall Into Fitness Exchange

Fall into FitGear Exchange-3I was recently invited to participate in a fall fitness exchange with Canadians.   As a Canadian Sweat Pink Ambassador I thought this was a great way to connect with other Canadian Bloggers. Also, I love the idea of connecting with new people and if they love running/fitness as well, bonus!  Besides, who doesn’t like giving and receiving gifts. 😉

A fellow Sweat Pink Sister from Ottawa, Brittany, came up with the exchange idea. Brittany and I recently met as we were making plans to launch an Ontario Sweat Pink Chapter.    You can follow Brittany over at My Momma Journey.

There were some general rules to the exchange.  Share a favourite fitness dvd or book that you love (even if it is gently used), favourite recipe or two, a motivational note and an item of our choice.

Our names were exchanged and we were paired up with our exchange buddies.  I ended up getting Rebecca, who crazy enough also lives in my neighbourhood, like what are the chances of that!!  I was able to do up a gift bag and drop it off at her door!!  What’s also cool, is Rebecca and I are both Team Awesome Members for the Ottawa Race Weekend 2016! If you would like to see what I sent her, check out her blog:  Running.Food.Baby 

My other exchange buddy, who had my name,  lives in Calgary.  Tina and I first met online through Bondiband, as we are both Ambassadors! She connected with me, asked some questions and came up with some pretty meaningful gifts.

Now before I unveil them, I’d like to share a few things.  First, I love hearts, always have.   After being diagnosed with a heart condition that seemed inevitable that one day I would require surgery, I was determined to not let a diagnosis define me.  Nor did I want to go on long-term medication if I could avoid it.  I was not being stupid, nor do I recommend for you to ignore your doctors advice, however, my doctor and I came up with a plan.  I continue to show improvements (which is a small miracle in itself) therefore I remain off medication.

The symbol of the heart is one of hope, strength and of course love.
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I got this tattoo as a symbol of the intense love I have for my family. My husband and I (the larger hearts) are intertwined, the three smaller hearts represent my three children and the small pink heart inside my heart is in memory of my mom.  The heart also represents the hope and strength I have to live and be healthy.

Now for the butterfly.  A few years ago there was a series of events that took place that in of themselves, each one would have been heartbreaking, combine them over a fairly short period and it was almost too much for me to work through.  During this time the butterfly became a symbol of hope.  As I was working through life, the idea that “sometimes the struggle is part of the plan” came to me.  Like the caterpillar there is a time in the cocoon (we won’t go into the gruesome details), and in the perfect moment the butterfly emerges.  A complete transformation has taken place.  It’s like pain with a purpose or a struggle with a plan.  There was a purpose for the caterpillar to enter the cocoon.  Just like I believed there was or could be a greater purpose for what I was going through (as well as my whole family).

So yes, another tattoo 😉 PicMonkey Collage

Of course I did not share this with my buddy, I mean gosh we just met. 🙂  I did however share things like favourite colour, number, workouts and that I do like the butterfly symbol.

Here is what she put together for me:

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Amazing gloves, cute bird paperclips, really cool race bib clips (wore them for my marathon last weekend – amazing!!), a bondiband headband (hearts and butterflies), a buff (more hearts) and a beautiful card…oh and inside the card was this (a magnet – now on my fridge)FullSizeRender (2)

The past two years or so this has been a thought of mine, and yes, I’ve said it out loud.  Live Out Loud!  Be, Do and Say who you are.  Live authentically with intention.  Be free to be who you were created to be, unapologetically.

It was a true blessing to open this gift with all the reminders of what is important to me and also to continue to “live out loud” proudly!

Thank you so much Tina!

Have you ever participated in an exchange similar to this?

Check out the others who participated in this exchange.


#Runfie – What’s the Point?

Online Friends or Foes?

I belong to a number of closed groups on facebook and to often I see posts from people saying, “I know you guys will understand, I can’t post this on my personal wall because my friends and family don’t get it” or “my friends and family are sick of hearing about my running, blogging, (insert whatever)”.  More hurtful, “my friends and family have posted for me to shut up, or messaged me telling me they do not appreciate or care about the things I post”.

I understand that what others post (myself included) can be annoying to some, I really do.  I also get that sometimes we simply do not relate or have any interest in what some people post about.   If you do not like what is coming up in your newsfeed all the time then you can choose to unfollow someones posts, this allows you to still connect or message one another (especially helpful if it’s family 😉 ).

Everyone uses social media for different reasons.  For some it is to stay connected with friends, for others it may be to connect with a special interest group, hobbies, favourite past times.  Still for others it can be used mainly for business.  Whatever the reasons shouldn’t we respect one another more and judge others less?  Why is it some people expect others to use it the way they do?  Why is their way correct?  Is there a correct way?

Why Post?

So why do I post?  Why do I take selfies or “runfies” as we call them. 🙂

If you know me it should not come as a surprise that I love to encourage people.  I think it comes out of my own life of being misunderstood and not really having people believe in me or support me much.   Our past shapes us and for whatever reason I believe in people.  I have a soft spot for people who seem to be misunderstood or not heard at all.  I am naturally open and vulnerable–“what you see is what you get”.  I don’t pretend to be someone I am not.  I have long since stopped trying to be liked by everyone, because the reality is not everyone is going to like me.

What really bothers me is when someone judges me and they know nothing about me.  OR worse, they actually should know me, yet they assume the worse.  This can be difficult for me as I naturally assume the best in people most of the time.  So it’s hard for me to accept that sometimes, someone is just plain mean, critical and judgmental.

Okay, so back to why I post about running/fitness.  It is a way for me to be accountable to myself!  I have many goals and if I share my journey it helps me get out the door.  It is a way for me to connect with some amazing friends I’ve met online who are also chasing dreams.  We encourage one another with cyber high-fives and way-to-go chatter.  I hope to inspire others to find something they are passionate about and do it.  I often help people privately who reach out and want support, encouragement and accountability.

I have also been blessed with being involved as an ambassador for a number of my favourite fitness products.  Part of being an ambassador is posting, tagging and doing shout outs to introduce others to the products that I love and believe in.  I am honoured to be teamed up with these companies and I love sharing about them.   I am also involved in a number of online fitness/sports related ambassador programs that require you be active on social media.  That means sharing your journey, with the idea of encouraging others to be active.

I feel bad for the people who feel they cannot post on their own facebook walls!  Seriously, it’s their wall.  We all have “negative Nellie’s” on our feed, again you do not need to follow their posts.  Why should someone be made to feel bad for getting in shape, or setting goals and achieving them.  Why should they feel guilty if they are changing their lives for the better??  Why should they have to seek a private group on facebook, with strangers, to be encouraged because their facebook “friends” criticize them.

At times, we may post an opinion about politics, movies, events in the city, etc.  This can open a door for others to jump in and offer their own opinions.  I think we can expect this, however, I also believe we should be grown ups about it.  Be respectful.

I also use social media at times to highlight how proud I am of each of my children.  I love to support them and over tell everyone the great things they do.  I am their biggest cheerleader and will forever be proud of them.  Social media allows me to share with others some of the neat things my kids do.  My intention isn’t to make someone else feel bad, I just want to give a shout out to my kid.  I’m also very respectful to my kids, I almost always ask their permission (to be that mom).

I understand that maybe you just do not want your feed filled up with things you just do not care about, that’s cool.  It’s YOUR feed!  As previously mentioned, you can control whose posts you see?  You can actually unfollow someones posts, but remain their friend (mine included).

Truthfully, I’m just being me, doing what I love, trying to enjoy life and hopefully connect with others along the way.

www.dontbeachicken.com

www.dontbeachicken.com

Can I perhaps challenge you? Maybe instead of being annoyed or frustrated, maybe you could message someone and encourage them on their journey. Tell them you are inspired by them or you are proud of them for their hard work.  Maybe their posts have nothing to do with fitness, but instead just maybe they’ve been going through a hard time and have been sharing their story of getting through it.  You’ll be amazed at what a kind word can do for someone.