Author Archives: Rambling Runner Girl

Being A Legend

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I should be in Florida right now.  I’m maybe just a tad bitter about the fact that instead, I am home in Missouri.

Four-ish years ago, if you had told me what I’d be missing out on right now, I would have said I know I’d be bummed to be missing a trip to Florida with my girlfriends for a long weekend.  But there’s way more to it than that.

I’ve missed out on races I’ve trained hard for, it’s painful.  I was trained for a marathon in March. It was canceled due to this Coronavirus mess.  But this time around, Coronavirus messed with my daughter.

Those four-ish years ago, Ally decided to try competitive cheer.  She’d tried a couple other sports, but nothing had really stuck.  And I thought for sure her desire to cheer came from a place of watching too much Dance Moms.  She always said she just liked watching the dance part of the show, not all the mom drama.  But when I showed up with Ally to our first out of town competition in Louisville, I was pretty convinced I would have a run in with Abby Lee Miller.

I felt like a fish out of water.  I had no clue how to help Ally with her hair, or her make-up.  My tight monthly budget went out the window with tuition, uniforms, comp fees, travel expenses.  Ugh.

On top of all that, I didn’t know any of the moms.  Well, except for my ex-husband’s new wife since Ally’s step-sister was also on the same team.  It was uncomfortable, to say the very least.

As the first season progressed, something became very clear.  While Ally’s team was a part of an established St. Louis gym, it was the first year they’d filled a team of the level Ally fell into.  It was, shall we say, a building year.  Her team was not great. They came in last at every single competition that season.

Ally and I drove lots of miles together that season.  We tried to meet up with Ally’s teammates and their parents occasionally but mostly it was just the two of us, doing our thing.  She was having fun learning new skills and making friends, I was trying to survive.  I wiped a lot of tears and gave a lot of speeches about how it was a learning experience. I talked about how learning to lose graciously was important, and it made you appreciate winning so much more.

The season finally came to an end in Columbus, OH and after sitting through an awards ceremony where the girls came in last, again, we had a nine-hour drive back to St. Louis.  We pulled in well after midnight and got up for work and school the next morning.  I was so glad that was over.

But, it wasn’t over.  A few weeks later were tryouts and Ally was ready to go back for more.  I was proud that she didn’t want to give up after such a demoralizing first year.  She said, “My goal next year is to improve my skills. And someday I want to compete at Summit.”  I had no clue what she was even talking about.

The next year, she started the season and immediately became attached at the hip to her soul sister.  She and Sav were inseparable from the start.  I finally got to meet Sav, and her mom DJ, at the first competition of the season in Nashville. The first showing of the season was shaky, but as the season progressed, we could tell the girls were gelling and had a chance to do well.  Ally and Sav bonded with a couple of the other girls, and I enjoyed getting to know their moms.  I was glad to discover that they didn’t stir the pot like the moms on Dance Moms, and they were actually very down to earth.

By the time Spring Break rolled around, the girls still didn’t have their bid to Summit, but they were so close.  They could taste it.  They wanted it.  An email went out to the parents proposing an extra competition to give the girls one last shot at earning their way to the big comp at the end of the season at Disney’s ESPN zone.  The girls had worked hard, they’d earned it, and the parents made it happen.  Athletes traveled with other families, some families canceled spring break trips, we signed the forms, paid the fees and went off to KC for one more shot.

It didn’t go great.  They girls thought they blew it.  But the following Monday the girls got the news, they got their bid and were invited to Summit.

We rented a house with some of the other girls and their mom’s over Mother’s Day weekend in 2018.  I had been married less than 2 weeks when Ally and I boarded a flight to Orlando at 7:50pm on a Thursday night that could have been mistaken for a Cheer Legendz charter flight.  We landed in Florida, took a shuttle to the house, threw some frozen pizzas in the oven for a 2am dinner and stayed up most of the night, just excited to be there.

The whole weekend was amazing.  The girls competed and did well on their first day, but unfortunately, they didn’t make it to finals.  We made the best of it by spending Mother’s Day sipping mimosas by the pool and then Mothers and Daughters went off to the Magic Kingdom.

We laughed, we cried, we bonded.  We slept too little and we had the time of our lives.

Year 3.  Ally continued to push herself and improve her skills.  I was so happy that she had found an athletic passion to pursue and the camaraderie of a team.

Despite the fact that our group had girls split up over 3 different teams, we began traveling to most of the competitions with our little pack.  Sometimes we got home at 4am, sometimes we drove through blizzards and ice storms, counting how many cars were off the road in the ditch.  We cheered on all the girls.  We celebrated birthdays, and other milestones, on the road. We supported each other through highs and lows, we came together in good times and bad.  But we had found our people and we had become a family.

At the end of that season, only Madalyn’s team had earned their way back to Florida.  Ally landed her back tuck right before tryouts and she was ready to bring it.

That brings us to this year.  The 2019-2020 season.

When the e-mail announcement went out for team placements, we were all on pins and needles.  Gabriella had given up competitive cheer in place of HS cheer.  But we had our fingers crossed that Madalyn, Savanna and Ally would be placed together.  We were hoping for several other girls as well. And they all came together.

A cheer went up (pun intended) through all of St. Louis when we got the word.  Cougarz.  We were ready and we knew this team was something special.  There was no doubt we were making our way back to Summit.

At the first comp of the season in Nashville, the girls proved us right.  They got their bid.  And one by one, the other Cheer Legendz teams got theirs, as well.  The season was going swimmingly.

In the middle of the season however, the girls were one by one, coming to the conclusion that it was going to be their last season cheering.  And then another announcement came.  This was the last season for Cheer Legendz too. The owners were selling the gym to ICE athletics and this was our farewell tour.   We all agreed, we were going out with a bang.

In January, we made flight reservations and rented a house.  We started talking plans and getting excited.  We invited a couple other moms and their girls to join us.  Even some of the grandmas were going to join in the fun.  A girls’ weekend with Cheer and Disney, we were over the moon.

And then, in early March, as talk of a pandemic started swirling, our plans started to crumble.  We held on to hope that Summit would stand.  Or even if it got pushed back, we might still be able to make it work.  I waited until last week to finally cancel my plane ticket; I was in complete denial.

Summit is still being held this year, in June now, but all the big gyms have pulled out.  And frankly, we still really don’t even know what next month will look like.  Our girls haven’t worked out at the gym since before Spring Break.  The dream is over.

But, is it?

Here’s the thing.  Yes, this was a totally crappy and anti-climactic way for the chapter to end.  The chapter of Ally’s cheer career, the end of Cheer Legendz, the way we were supposed to go out on such a high note.  Ok, so yes, the dream for all that is over.  But what it has led to is so many other dreams.

My little girl learned what it feels like to be part of a team.  She learned what it’s like to love a sport with her whole heart and she learned how to pursue excellence.  She learned how to lose and how to win. She learned how to pick herself up and keep on going, and how to hold her head high. Her cheer years gave us so many fun memories during her high school years that have bonded us in a way I could never have imagined.  Cheer gave us friends who are like family.

On Saturday, we were supposed to be in Florida for the girls to compete.  We didn’t get to do that.  But Anthony, one of the coaches/owners of Cheer Legendz was celebrating a birthday.  His partner Ryan organized a birthday parade, out in front of Cheer Legendz.  We made signs and decorated the car.  We met up with our little crew in Chesterfield valley and then we sat in line for Over An Hour to say Happy Birthday to Anthony.

But it was more than a birthday parade.  We waved to so many familiar faces.  We gathered in the parking lot and took socially distanced pictures.  We got to say good-bye to the season that was supposed to be.  It was what we all needed.

Kind of like the season, I don’t really know how to bring this to a close.  But I do know that I will never forget how much Ally’s cheer years have given me and my girl.  And even if you don’t know how the dream will end, always always ALWAYS pursue it with everything you’ve got.  Because That’s what it feels like to be a Legend.

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STRONGER

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Hello RRG Readers!  Did you think I had disappeared forever and was never coming back?

I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on here, but I have a very exciting announcement. I used my blogging sabbatical wisely and on January 1 of this year, my book, STRONGER: From Trials to Triathlete to Triumphant, went live on Amazon.

That’s right, I finally finished my book!  And this is where it all began!

On Thursday evening, I’ll be hosting a party to celebrate this milestone.  If you’re in the St. Louis area and would like to join the celebration, feel free to email me at lindseyjo1001@gmail.com for details.

Thank you for all of your support and encouragement along the way.  It’s exciting to be here!  Please check out my book on Amazon (click the link below), or if you’d like to purchase a signed copy, email me at the address listed above.

All the best in 2020!

RRG

https://www.amazon.com/Stronger-Triathlete-Triumphant-Lindsey-Jacobs/dp/1733995846/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3J3C7RADFSEYG&keywords=stronger+lindsey+jacobs&qid=1582467134&sprefix=Stronger+l%2Caps%2C177&sr=8-1

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Welcome 2019!

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New year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. I’ve always been more in the school of thought that if you want to change something about your life, why do you need to wait for a certain day of the year? Just make the decision and do it. Even if it’s on, say, June 22.

However, I do understand that with the closing of one year and the beginning of a new one, there is a tendency to reflect a little more, to think about the things that went wrong, the things that went right, the things that just went and were endured.

As I was preparing to shut the door on 2018, which definitely had its share of high-highs and low-lows, I found myself enjoying every moment that I got to spend with all of the most special people in my life. After saying goodbye to my last living grandparent just a few days before the anniversary of my dad’s passing, it would have been hard not to think about the relationships that are so important to me.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to say goodbye to Norma when I know she still heard and understood me. I got to recount some of my favorite memories with her and then make even more memories with my uncles, aunts and cousins. Its easier to let go when you know it brings your loved one peace, and it will bring them to a really joyous reunion.

Speaking of joyous unions, y’all know I got married in 2018, right? And we celebrated with that trip to Ireland I’ve been dreaming of for so long. So even with the hard tears, there were happy tears too. And it seems to me, that hard tears mixed with happy tears are the proof that we are really living.

In the past week, I’ve spent some quality time with our new blended family of six, enjoying old traditions and making some new ones. The kids have had their friends around and gone over to friends’ houses. We traveled to the little ‘ville in the northeastern corner of Missouri, where the beau and I met so many years ago before we found our way back to each other, to see his parents. We also got to see his sister and her kids. And at the last minute I got to reunite briefly with the friend who was like a sister to me during the very challenging tween years. I couldn’t know that she was only a mile from me and not at least stop in for a quick hug.

A couple nights ago, right after returning from NEMO (Northeast Missouri) I hooked up with my friend/colleague/roommate Katrina so we could have one last beverage at iTap, our post work retreat when we were both dealing with some of life’s most challenging hits. We couldn’t let iTap close it’s doors for good today without a little reminiscing. As we were heading our separate ways back to our respective neighborhoods, she suggested we try to do a meet up every month. Yes. I agreed. As busy as life gets, it’s reasonable to find at least an hour out of 30 days to have some friend time.

Last night, we had friends over for snacks and drinks. There were kids running around, the pug kept attacking my “frother” (friend who is like a brother-did I just make that up?) Dan, and his wife (who he also married this year) Andrea has been a kindred soul of mine since I first met her on a run (back when I still led the social run) and before we set them up.

I’ve gotten to run and have coffee with one of my besties from Chicago who has been in St. Lou visiting family over break. I even got to start the new year hitting the trail with her this morning at Al Foster, my fave. We remembered running there together 4 years ago on Christmas Eve, we even remembered some of our conversation from that day.

This afternoon, the beau and I took all 4 of our kids, and one of my “adopted” daughters over to Skyzone. We had 7 jumpers. 5 kids and 2 adults. That’s right, even after running 6 miles this morning, I kept the adrenaline going for a romp in the trampoline park. Followed by happy hour at Sonic to negate all the calories burned.

So as I have packed in the quality time here at the tail end of 2018 and extending into the front end of 2019, something occurred to me. Last night, Andrea asked “So, what are your resolutions?” I didn’t really have an answer, since I don’t really do resolutions. But while running with Lynnie today and playing at Skyzone with the kiddos, it just reinforced that I want to continue nurturing my important relationships and living life in a way that is really, truly living. And while I wouldn’t really call them “resolutions” as much as “reinforcements”, I would say these are mine:

Live fully. Laugh more. Love whole-heartedly. Worry less. Take more pictures, both with the camera and mentally. Run with friends regularly. Do anything with friends more regularly. Love the ones who treat you right, and let go of the ones who don’t. Hug as often as possible. Snuggle a lot. Don’t beat yourself up for eating the ice cream (or the pizza, or the tacos, or whatever empty calories present themselves). Seek out more adventures. Take in as many sunrises, sunsets and star-filled skies as possible. Smell the roses. Don’t sweat the small stuff, or the big stuff. Trust that it’s going to work out the way it should. Remember to breathe. Look around and enjoy life. Do the things that make you happy-write more, read more, run more. Go on more hikes with family. Be present. Take care of yourself. Smile. Make people wonder why you’re smiling. Play more games. Play more in general. And when given the choice, jump on the trampoline with your kids. (But be sure to take some ibuprofen and maybe do some Kegels once in a while)

Happy 2019, everyone! I’m wishing you all a year full of love, laughter, hugs, smiles, snuggles, sunny days, starry nights and more happy than hard tears.

Much love,
Rambling Runner Girl

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Happy Nursiversary to Me

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As of today, it’s been exactly one year that I’ve been at my job. There are still days I find it hard to believe I made it through nursing school and I am actually a nurse. When I look back on that process, I know that training for endurance sports is a major contributing factor to my success.
Endurance: the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way. Synonyms: tolerance, sufferance, forbearance, patience, acceptance, stoicism.
Training to run marathons and complete long-distance triathlons gave me the mental capacity to keep going when it gets hard. Nursing school was hard. Life as a nurse is nothing to scoff at either. But here are a few things that I have learned, or at least been reminded of over the past 365 days:
*I care deeply for people. Even when it’s people who are threatening my sanity, I put my entire heart into serving them. Even if that means I have to sit on hold with a pharmacy well after the 5:00 dismissal so that someone gets a prescription they need so they don’t have to remain uncomfortable. Doesn’t mean I won’t complain about it, but I will still do it.
*The sound of a fetal heartbeat is the most beautiful sound in the world. It never gets old. Not. Ever.
*For all the nurses I fit for shoes at Fleet Feet, I daily think about how important good footwear is. But Aleve is necessary to keep on hard as well.
*I never get tired of carrying my dad’s stethoscope around my neck. I take him with me daily. Today our supply guy, Paul, asked me about it and I’m pretty sure we both had tears in our eyes.
*OB/Gyn is definitely where I am supposed to be. I love the hope of new life, the relationships I get to build over 9 months and the beautiful babies that come to visit.
*I have cried for my patients on more than one occasion, and I have prayed for them even more.
*There will always be someone who doesn’t like you. And that’s ok.
*Spontaneous triplets might be the coolest thing in the world.
*It makes me crazy when people leave a voicemail without telling me their name.
*Coffee makes the world go round.
*Scrubs have pockets for a reason.
*You can’t beat a good pen.
*Even better than the words “Thank you” are the words “I appreciate ya”.

Nursing is not for the weak or the faint of heart. It takes strength, and endurance to get through the days and the weeks. You don’t always know when you’ll get to eat, or pee, or even sit down for a moment. But take advantage of the aide stations when they come, keep putting one foot in front of the other and stick with it for the long haul. And it will be worth the effort.
Unrelated to my job, I’m pleased to report that I’ve been running a couple times a week. Even in the midwestern misery of heat and humidity, I’ve built my mileage up to 8 whole miles. Its slow and steady, but it gets the job done. No Garmin, I just know where the turn arounds are from many years of training and I couldn’t begin to tell you my pace. I don’t really care, maybe cause if I knew it would make me sad how far I’ve fallen off from where I was before. But also, I’m enjoying it more this way. So there’s that.
And last but not least, since we were talking about being in it for the long haul, I picked up a project recently that I had to set down for nursing school. It seems kind of appropriate that on the year anniversary of starting one job, I’m going back to another. No, I’m not selling shoes again, and I won’t be making an income from this one for a bit, but I started back today as a writer. I had a conference with my book coach this morning, in the chaos of my life, with a husband, four kids and a puppy in the background, and it’s time I got back to telling my story.
It’s never going to be easy to find the time to make this dream come to fruition, but it’s not going to get any easier the longer I wait. And so, the journey of Rambling Runner Girl resumes. Slow and steady, one foot in front of the other. Onward!
Maybe by my second work anniversary, you can all celebrate by buying my book. ;)

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Runner’s High

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Medical definition of runner’s high: a feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with the release of endorphins by the brain.
I can tell you the exact last time I experienced this. It was approximately 3 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 3 days ago. I had already completely a knock down drag out of a 2.4-mile swim and a grueling 112 miles on a bike in the foothills of Arizona with crazy winds. I still remember wanting to throw my cycling shoes into Tempe Town Lake and never wear them ever again. I’m fairly certain they haven’t touched my feet since then. But then, it was time to trade in my bike for my Mizunos. My time had come. The first few miles of that marathon were, interesting, to say the least. I needed some nutrition, and sodium, and my legs had to get a handle on a different form of propulsion. But after a few miles, I felt it. I remember at about mile 5, yelling to my friend Allison, who hates running, “I’m so happy to be running!”
During the marathon at the end of an Ironman, a runner’s high is not likely to last the entirety of 26 miles. It came and went. I had moments of feeling like I could keep running forever, despite the depleting efforts of the day. And because I am a mere mortal, I had moments that I just wanted to cross the finish line and end my misery. I will tell you this, there is nothing, NO. THING. At all in this world, like coming down the finisher’s chute of an Ironman, and knowing that, in spite of all the obstacles you were up against, you completed the whole dang thing. I have chills just remembering it. And by chills, I mean tears welling up in my eyes.
Flash forward to June 2018. Reality. A runner’s high seems pretty much like a thing of the past, a figment of my imagination, an unattainable dream. Since that day in Arizona, I have run two other marathons. One of them, very nearly killed me. Like, seriously, almost killed me since it sent me into acute renal failure and septic shock. In fairness, I was the dope who ignored my kidney’s pleas to stop running and continued on through the hills of Mark Twain forest anyway. But I digress.
After the marathon of death, running has been brutal, not fun at all, and I have just sort of trudged along through the miles to get them done. At the end of 2016, during my “comeback marathon”, the thing that kept me going was the fact that I was running as a St. Jude’s Hero. I was running for kids who couldn’t. I loved that race, but I didn’t particularly love the running. It was just relentlessly putting one foot in front of the other and wishing it was over.
That’s basically how I would describe almost every mile I have run since November 16, 2014. Relentlessly putting one foot in front of the other and wishing it was over. Running has become painful, both physically and mentally. Its something I do just to say I did, to attempt to stay fit, so I can eat all the food. I’ve tried taking breaks, running in my favorite places, giving up the Garmin. But the joy was gone. It’s not fun anymore. What’s wrong with me?
Nothing, nothing is wrong with me. I’m just…human. And it’s ok that something that is hard, and painful is…hard and painful. Even if its something that used to bring me so much happiness. Even if the passion isn’t there. Sometimes we have to let go of things we love.
And sometimes, on a muggy, June morning in the Midwest, on a path we’ve run countless times, when we least expect it, they come back to us.
I’m not gonna lie, I struggled to get out the door this morning. I guzzled a cup of coffee thinking the caffeine might help the headache I’ve been fighting for the better part of the week, and I took some Midol knowing that it was most likely hormonal. It was humid, I wasn’t looking forward to running, but I’m trying to just feel good in the skin I’m in, so I made myself go.
It was pretty uneventful for the first few miles, but then, with about a mile to go, I felt kind of weird. I had just passed Wildwood Towne Center and I was in the home stretch with a little over a mile to go. I was thinking that I had recently said to the beau (Yeah, he’s the husband now, but he’s always gonna my beau) that I’m considering signing up for a half in the fall, just to give myself something to focus on and work toward. I was thinking about what I might sign up for. I was thinking that I would do it like I did with training for my first marathon, Chicago 2001, no Garmin, no time goal, just finish and enjoy the journey. I was thinking of so many of the races of the past 17 years, flashes of the highlights and the lessons learned. And the next thing I knew, I felt it. It didn’t last long, but it was there.
At first, I thought I was just getting goosebumps because I was dehydrated. But I did a quick assessment (I’m a nurse, it’s second nature) and I realized I was fine. I was just having a release of endorphins in a way that made me *want* to keep running. It was The. Best. Feeling. And even though I fully expected it to leave as quickly as it came, I made a mental note to just enjoy the feeling while it was there. I ran up the hill toward the pedestrian bridge…still there. I crossed to the other side of Old Manchester and rounded the curve back to the neighborhood…still there. I headed around the mud-pit that is Lake Chesterfield, it’s drained again, this time on purpose to try to figure out how to fix it. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, am I right? By the time I had less than a quarter mile to go, it was gone. But there was a quote that had been in my head, for whatever reason, at the beginning of my run: Don’t be sad that it’s over, be glad that it happened.
I don’t know if my passion for running is fully restored. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another runner’s high ever again. But I had one today. And I’ll take what I can get.
In the meantime, I’m gonna keep doing what I do and trying to enjoy the moment that I’m in. As I’ve been writing this, I received a picture from Ally who is at camp this week, I’ve been listening to three boys going in and out of the house and inventing a game they’re playing, and my husband walked by and gave me a kiss a little bit ago.
Now, I’m no expert, but I’m gonna go ahead and say that maybe, just maybe, the reason I felt a little lighter on my feet today, and less like I’m trudging along up a mountain is because my life is a little lighter and less trudgey these days. It’s still not perfect, and its definitely got its challenges, but my people are here. So, I’m going to let the endorphins flow freely, I’m going to enjoy the moment that I’m in, and if and when another runner’s high comes along, I’ll take that too.
But instead of holding my breath and waiting, I’m gonna go pack a suitcase for Ireland. #bucketlist

 

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Welcome to the Next Chapter

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t run today. In fact, I haven’t run in over a week. But I can still ramble like nobody’s business. Now, I don’t know if there’s still an audience out there, but RRG is willing to talk to anyone who is willing to listen.
If you’ve been on this journey with me since the beginning 5+ years ago, or even if you joined the ride somewhere along the way, you know that this has been a sounding board for my struggles. And of those there have been many.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how when you are in the midst of a trial and you can’t see the way out, you definitely can’t see the purpose for the struggle. You might remind yourself of Kanye’s lyrics occasionally, “N-now th-that that don’t kill me, can only make me stronger…” and you might even convince yourself those words are true, but you certainly don’t know what the “stronger” is going to look like or why it’s necessary.
As I was driving home today after work, it occurred to me that tonight is the last night I will be alone in my house. My beau has been gradually moving his stuff in here, but he’s back in Shrewsbury for one more week. Tomorrow night the kids come back from their dad’s. On Wednesday, my brother, sister in law, niece and nephew, and my mom, will arrive for the weekend festivities. On Friday, my nieces fly in and the Kirksville crew will make the drive down. As of Saturday, this will be an even fuller version of “our house”.
So, what does one do on their last night of solitude? Well, I stopped at the library to drop off some books, I went into Barnes and Noble to pick up a birthday present for my almost teenager, I hit up Gold’s Gym for a workout and I went to counseling. Exciting stuff, right? And now, here I sit, with the remnants of my organic frozen pizza and the last of the bottle of wine I was working on over the weekend and I’m contemplating the events of the last 7-ish years.
As I prepare to turn the page on this chapter, I think about all that I accomplished. I learned how to be a home owner, I learned to be a single parent, I became an Ironman, I went back to school, graduated with honors and became a nurse, with a real job. But tonight when I pulled into the garage, it was obvious to me that those major life events that I’ve tackled, pale by comparison to the things that don’t really have a label.
When I was a newly single home-owning parent, there were nights I would pull into the garage and sit in the car, sometimes for an hour or more, because I couldn’t bear the thought of going into an empty house. Tonight it was clear, I’m not afraid of the empty house anymore. I haven’t been afraid in a long time, but when did that transition take place? When we’re in it, we don’t see it happening, but then one day, it’s right in front of us and we realize that we made it.
When I got home, I was ready to jump out of the car and get the oven going for my pizza, but there was a song on the radio, and because I am a weirdo, I sometimes sit in the car to listen to a song to completion. This was the chorus, “I have won, and I have lost, I got it right sometimes, but sometimes I did not. Life’s been a journey, I’ve seen joy, I’ve seen regret. Oh and you have been my god through all of it.”
All of those nights that I was afraid of going into an empty, lonely house…I was never really alone. He was always there with me. And while this chapter is closing, and I’m about to embark on a new chapter, that will hold it’s own set of challenges, and struggles, and trials, but also so much joy, not only do I know that I will never be alone, I know that I can look back on these past struggles and I can say I’m ready for it. I made it. This is what the stronger looks like. I persevered through the hard part. Through all the hard parts. I did it. And even more importantly than that, I did it well.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

 

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An Open Letter to 41, On the Eve of my 42nd Birthday

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Dear 41,

With 42 standing just outside the door, waiting for you to make your exit, there are a few things I need to tell you before we part ways forever.  Before I can say good-bye, I want you to know how much our trip around the sun together has meant to me.

We have seen a lot of good days, and some bad.  We’ve shared laughter and tears.  We’ve had our ups and downs, but that was all after you came roaring in last October while I was in the middle of my third semester of nursing school.  We cried together when things were hard, but you also stayed by my side and saw me through to the end.  We made it all the way through school together.  You watched me graduate with honors and rise above my fears to be the student speaker at my graduation ceremony.

We experienced so many adventures together.  We traveled to NYC, Louisville, Columbus, Memphis, North Carolina, Kentucky Lakes, the mitten (twice), Chicago and more.  We saw my Cubbies win the World Series-something I always hoped for, but never really believed I would see.  We ran the St. Judes Marathon in December; running through the St. Judes campus hearing, “Thank you, Hero!” from the parents and the kids we raised money for, was absolutely unforgettable.

Traveling to NYC with the beau was amazing, spending a week at Kentucky Lake with the kids was full of laughs, we enjoyed a week at the beach with the Jacobs side and last but certainly not least, hiking to the top of a mountain in the Smokies where we got engaged to the love of my life!  It has been quite a year.

We started my very first nursing job, 41!  And I could not be happier.  I really love it!  Working with a father/daughter OB/Gyn team is the perfect setting for me.  I love the hope for the future that I get to witness on a daily basis.  I have found my passion, my calling, my purpose.  I was born for this, but you were the one who helped me figure that out.  On any given day, my heart bursts with happiness and breaks wide open for the patients I am coming to know.  All while wearing my dad’s stethoscope around my neck.

41, you were certainly not without frustrations, but we conquered things together and we made it.  You have set things up for 42 to be something really special.  Make no mistake about it, 41, you will always have a special place in my heart.  You helped me come to a point of truly accepting that I am a work in progress.  Not just saying those words, but owning them, believing them and embracing them.  You helped me find my peace, 41, and for that I will be forever grateful.  I know I’m going to miss you and it’s hard to let you go.  Not because I am afraid of 42, or whatever lies beyond, but because of all you have done to make me who I am, the person who I am supposed to be.  From the bottom of my heart, 41, thank you.  Thank you for everything.

All my love,

RRG

PS. Don’t tell the others, but so far, you are hands down my favorite.

First Day of 41

Last Day of 41

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Redefining and Refining

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So what’s next?

Its no surprise that after finishing nursing school and getting engaged in April, I’ve heard that question more than a few times this summer.

Initially, my response was, “I’m going to take boards and see where I’m at.”

Well, I took my boards (and passed, YAY!) in June, so what have I been doing since then?

I decided that I was going to take the summer off! Since I was going to have the kids for a big portion of the summer, and since we had a couple vacations planned, and since they have suffered through the last two summers with me going off to school every day, it seemed appropriate for us to have one last hurrah.  Pretty soon I will be working, and by next summer we’ll be a family of 6, so I felt I owed it to them, and to myself, to have some fun.

I took my board exam while they were on vacation with their dad in early June and that was about the end of my peace and quiet for the summer.  After that we had pool days and adventures.  We spent a few days in Kentucky at a lake house over the 4th of July where we shot off fireworks, fished, jumped in and swam off the doc, played games, ate A TON and just generally enjoyed ourselves.

A couple weeks later, we spent 10 days in Michigan with the Jacobs side.  We crammed 12 of us (my mom, brother and family, nieces and my kids) into my mom’s New Buffalo condo.  It was cozy, but we made it work.  We played Scrabble, went tubing, played on the beach and in the pool, watched sunsets, hiked up the dunes, picked blueberries, ate A TON and just generally enjoyed ourselves.  Are you sensing a theme here?  We’re Jacobs.  We like to eat.

We celebrated Silas’ 10th birthday.  We celebrated Greyson’s (my bonus kid’s) 8th birthday.  We started planning a wedding.  We took all the kids to Johnson’s Shut-ins, which they deemed the coolest place in the world, after whining the entire 1.5+ hour drive there that it wasn’t going to be worth it.  (Just a hint: It’s totally worth it!) We sent my oldest off to high school (very bittersweet!).  We watched a total solar eclipse, sadly not together, but it was absolutely stunning.  It’s been a fun, and somewhat exhausting, summer of Lindsey.

But it wasn’t all fun and games.  I spent quite a bit of time working on some projects around the house as well.  While the kids were gone in June, I spent a couple days peeling wallpaper, painting and surprised them with a makeover in their bathroom.  They loved it so much, they all stopped using my master shower and moved back into their own bathroom, that only took 5 years of living in this house.  I guess I should have done it sooner.  Unfortunately, the shift in shower usage, also revealed a leak in the pipes, resulting in a hole in my kitchen ceiling that is currently under repair.  Thanks, Roger!

The wallpaper removal has continued, with the kids’ help in the upstairs hallway, stairwell and into the front room of the house.  We recently hit a stall there, but will pick back up after these few nice days that St. Louis has for the year pass us by.  I also started a project of refinishing a couple of old chairs.  Since one of the dining room chairs busted several years back, we’re down to 5.  We need to rectify that before there are six of us sitting around the table on a regular basis.  Of course, that will also require that the dining room become a place to eat, as opposed to its current state of “craft and game room”.  Ah, well, life is all about redefining purposes, right?

Another thing that happened this summer was I spent several hours working in the yard.  This is something I always enjoyed the excuse of, “I’m in nursing school, so don’t judge my yard.”  To my dismay, it was time to let go of that excuse and dig in.  As many hours as I spent digging, you wouldn’t know it to look at it.  I’ve made a dent, but it’s a never-ending process.  Oddly, I did find it somewhat satisfying every time I filled a yard waste bag to drag to the curb for pick up on Thursdays.

You want to know what I didn’t do much of this summer?  Run.  If I got in an average of one run a week, I would be surprised.  I’ll tell you this, running in St. Louis in the summer humidity is abysmal.  Any confidence you ever had in your abilities can be wiped away as soon as you step foot out the front door on day that its 95 degrees and 95% humidity before the sun is up.  As soon as you try to make your feet move you wonder who put lead in your running shoes.  Gross.

I found that doing yoga with a background of Pandora’s Instrumental Chill station was just as productive and better for my mental health.  I’ve also found that after a long hiatus from the pool, as in the lap pool at the gym, I look forward to the soothing sound of myself blowing bubbles in the water.  Silence IS golden.  Especially when your house contains boys.  I’ve also averaged about a book a week, reading for pleasure is nice.  And it’s hard to run while reading, so I jumped on the elliptical with my book more often than not.

But between yard work and not running, here’s what I figured out.  This summer was not just about the summer of Lindsey because I got to play so much, it was more about the summer of redefining Lindsey.  I started thinking…I used to be a runner.  But does the fact that I don’t want to run because St. Louis is miserable this time of year mean that I should change the name of this blog to Rambling Swimmer Girl or Rambling Yardwork Girl?  I’m no less a runner just because I’m not as fast as I once was, or because I am only running when I feel like it and, sit down for this runner friends, WITHOUT a Garmin (Gasp!  The horror!)  I’m no less a runner when I average 5 miles a week than my friends who are posting about having a hundred-mile week…well, ok, maybe I am less a runner than them, because I literally AM running less.  A lot less.

But ya know what?  I’m ok with that.

The other day while I was sitting in a church parking lot with one of my best friends in the entire world waiting for the moon to eclipse the sun we were discussing how my relationship with running has changed.  I used to run 2 or sometimes 3 times a day.  Seriously.  It was kind of a sickness to be honest.  I had so much inner turmoil, my head and my heart were such a mess, that I felt this need to make the outside hurt just as much as the inside.  Every time I ran and pushed to the point of feeling sick.  Now I don’t think of that as particularly fun.  I told Lynn, “Running is there when I need it, but I no longer need it to be everything.”  Redefining Lindsey.

So where is the metaphor in this summer?  Because I’m RRG, and you know I’m all about metaphors.  Well, here you go.  I distinctly remember one of those days of working in the yard, I was a sweaty dirty mess in cutoff jeans that I’ve had since college and orange rain boots.  What?  I don’t want to come across some long slithery thing and have it take a stroll across my foot.  No thanks!  And besides, the one time I went out in sneakers, I ended up with poison ivy on my shin.  Grrrrrr.   Anyway, I was out there trimming hedges and gathering the clippings and pulling weeds, but it wasn’t just about making the parts you can see presentable, there were points that I was on my hands and knees digging underneath the bushes pulling out old, dead, rotted leaves that had collected in hard to reach places.  It gets nasty under there.  And I’m still bearing the battle scars of evergreens, holly plants and pricker bushes.  It got pretty ugly.  But it was necessary.  You have to clear out the crap to keep everything healthy and growing.  And it’s NEVER going to be finished, it’s always a work in progress.  There’s going to be blood, sweat and tears sometimes, but it’s going to be worth it in the end.  I guess you could pay someone to do it for you, but where is the satisfaction in that?

I am no more a gardener and no less a runner than I used to be.  I’m just RRG, doing what makes me happy.  And somedays that looks different than other days.  I will continue to redefine who I am, or maybe refine is a better word.  I’m sure I will find another race to train for in the not too distant future, but in the meantime, I’m going to leave the Garmin at home, or read my WW II novels, or whatever.

So, what’s next? The year ahead will be one with some pretty major transitions.  I’m going to start working again full time.  I’m planning a wedding.  I’m trying to finish some projects to get the house ready for 2 more.  Redefining and refining.  The leaves will fall, weeds will keep popping up, and so forth, but I’ll keep doing the best I can.

People have also been asking what exactly I want to do when I get a job.  I’ve been answering that I’m not really sure, so I’m keeping my options open.  I know I do not want to work in a nursing home, I prefer OB or Peds to geriatrics.  About a week and a half ago, I decided it was time to send out a resume with some intention, now that the summer is winding down I should start what has the potential to be a long, tedious process (like yard work?).  So, I sent a resume.  Yes, “a”. And yesterday afternoon, I was offered a job that feels completely meant to be.  Without knowing exactly what I was looking for, it is exactly what I was looking for. It doesn’t always work out that easily, but sometimes, like every 400 years or so, the sun and the moon align.  And when that happens, it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I’m a nurse.  I start September 5th.  Stay tuned for more…

When the sun and moon align

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When the Skies Clear

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You never call, you never write…Oh, wait, I guess I’m the one who is supposed to be doing that, aren’t I?  Sorry, it’s been a busy year for RRG.  And it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. If anyone is still interested in my ramblings, I would love to give y’all an update.

Just this morning, I finished a book I’ve been reading, called The Keeper of Secrets.  The cover reads ‘A novel of love, loss and survival’.  As I finished reading the story of a family of German Jews, it occurred to me that it was also very much a story of healing.  Sound familiar?

Well, here’s my update in the form of a story of love, loss, survival and healing. In order to do so, I need to take you back in time a little bit, so you can see the progression through the Aprils. This might take a while, so bear with me.

April 2011

6 years ago. The absolute worst month of my entire life. I was stuck, trapped, miserable. On April 1, I knew that as the keeper of many of my own secrets, the only way to move forward was going to be to unlock them, but the very idea was absolutely terrifying.  I was dreading where my path would lead me if I opened that door and allowed the things to tumble out that I had kept locked away in a shroud of darkness and pain, some for many years. In the wee hours of April 2, I tapped into what was only the beginning of the nightmare, as I began telling my then husband how unhappy I was in our marriage.  And over the next couple of weeks, as the layers got peeled back, it got uglier and uglier, all the secrets of my life revealed, everything from small scrapes to deep gaping wounds.  My heart was raw and bleeding.  I was on the verge of losing absolutely everything I held dear and I wasn’t sure I had the capacity to carry on.  I spent most days that April getting the kids off to school and then hiding under a blanket until I had to go back to get them.  Everything I had feared in bringing my shame and my secrets out of the closet, had proven correct.  I was being dragged through the mud and threatened to have all of my dearest relationships stripped away from me.  I went back and forth between being wracked with grief and feeling numb, which was probably my brain’s way of not allowing more pain than I could handle.  On April 30, I was supposed to run the Nashville marathon with a couple of my girlfriends from Chicago.  Obviously, with my life falling apart, that had gotten set aside.  My friends had decided to run the Christie Clinic marathon instead.  I was laying on my couch in the living room, with a blanket over my head to block out the sunshine coming through the windows, that was in such stark contrast of the melancholy that was permeating my being.  I could hear the playful voices of my children outside in the back yard.  I got a text from my friends saying that they had qualified for the Boston Marathon, which was exactly what we had all been hoping to do that day.  How was it that instead, I had gotten to a place where my life had completely fallen apart?  How was it that hearing my kids voices outside was very possibly the only thing keeping me alive?  I had literally stopped eating, I didn’t care, I didn’t want to be in this world anymore.  But somewhere, under that blanket, from the deepest depth of my soul, I said a prayer.  My heart cried, “Jesus, be enough.”  And if He was enough, I needed him to show me.  I needed to believe that even if I lost everything, I would still be ok.

That night, I sat at the dinner table, across from a person I was still legally married to, but the vows were so broken that the relationship was a shell, a mask of what it was supposed to be.  I stared at the food on my plate and moved it around, not interested in providing my body with necessary life giving nutrients.  My shoulders slumped, my eyes and my heart downcast, my spirit broken.  And then there was a conversation. I asked question after question and finally started getting some answers.  After that conversation, he left to go pick up the kids from his parents’ house and I stood staring out the window, pondering the information I had just been given.  And in that moment, I went from being trapped and ready to give up to finding the will to fight.  I was ready to fight for my kids, for my freedom, for my life.

April 2012

I had filed for divorce in August of the previous year, it had taken me 3 full months to summon the courage, and we were deep in the process. We were still living under one roof, I had moved to the basement, or the “dungeon” as I called it.  I hated being two whole floors away from my kids, but it was necessary for me to have my own space, until we were working on an official custody schedule in separate residences. It was a long, tedious, painful process.  I had been in therapy which was imperative to help me get through the yuck.  I had started working for Fleet Feet not long after my fight showed up, I needed something of my own.  One of my friends at work, Jordan, had put together a team of people to go run an overnight relay of 200 miles through the Smoky Mountains.  It sounded amazing and I felt a pull to be a part of this team, the Smokin Aces.  Sometime in mid-April, several of us met up to caravan, we were meeting the rest of the team in Bryson City, NC.  I drove myself in my Pathfinder, behind a van full of my teammates.  At some point along the drive, maybe near Padukah, a couple of them jumped in with me to drive the rest of the way.  One of the guys was driving when we entered the forest and I remember staring out the window trying to take in all of the beauty before me.  We stayed in an amazing house in the mountains, owned by one of our teammates and headed to the race course the next morning.  We were all piled into a huge 15 passenger van, 9 of us with everything we could have possibly needed for a 24 hour period.  We took turns running, navigating, driving, prepping food, napping, etc.  I will never forget Nathan making me a tortilla with Nutella and sliced bananas, it was seriously the best thing I had ever tasted.  Partly, because it came with a realization that someone was willing to do that for me, with no expectation of anything in return.  It was a simple as a tortilla, but it meant the world to me.  I ran my parts of the race and loved every second, but it was also the quiet moments in between that I hold close to my heart.  I ran a part of the course that was 5.5 miles on a gravel road, up hill the whole way in the pitch dark of a forest in the middle of a foggy night.  I literally ran up a mountain, and when I got there, my teammates were waiting for me, cheering me on.  A while later, I found myself at one of the exchange points, a little church in the middle of nowhere, lying on a sleeping bag looking up at the stars, sharing stories with my teammates while someone tried to boil water with a camping stove to make Ramen noodles.  They were only lukewarm and mostly crunchy, but they were perfect.  My last leg of that race was up the side of a mountain, along a ridge, a crazy out of control downhill, across a river, through an unmarked trail through the woods where I got lost and trapped in a ravine.  Our team had gotten ahead of the race organizers and the trail hadn’t been marked yet, eventually, my friend Ken came into the woods and found me dehydrated and delirious, took me by the hand and dragged me out of the woods.  There were times he was actually pushing me up the hill, despite my pleas of I can’t.  He never let me stop.  In that moment, I had no idea that two and a half years later I would be participating in an Ironman, and that same friend would be running alongside me as I was a just a few miles from the finish, both of us smiling, me knowing that I could. I had battled mountains, fog, getting lost, trapped, and bruised, but I had survived.  And I knew I would continue to do so.

It was during that race that I fell in love with the North Carolina mountains, I fell in love with the friends that had taken care of me and taught me so much, and it was there that I realized I was going to be ok,  that someday I would heal and I would love again.

April 2013

Mid-month, the Smokin Aces were headed back to the mountains for an encore.  We had taken 2nd place the previous year and we were out for blood.  Ok, not really, we just loved our team and the race and we wanted to have a great time again, especially if it meant winning. 😉 Craig and Alamar flew in to St. Louis and we all piled into Ken’s van for the drive to Bryson City.  I didn’t drive myself this time, I wanted to be with my teammates.  I loved everything about that trip, that race, all of it.  We met up with the rest of our teammates in Carolina, got a little lost on the way to the starting line, and when 11 of us situated between 2 vehicles we set out to conquer the course. The race was a couple days after the Boston Marathon bombing, so I had brought armbands for us to wear in honor of the victims.  Again, the race was a menagerie of running, eating, napping, laughing and all the trimmings, but there was a different air about it for me a year later.  I crushed that same uphill in the middle of the night leg, taking 5 minutes off my time from the year before under a sky full of stars.  I was happier, lighter.  I had been officially single since September.  I had bought a house.  I was moving forward.  Still struggling, but making progress.  Even I could see how much difference a year had made.  And then I ran leg 34 again.  The uphill part was still hard, but I had a much better idea of where I was going.  The downhill didn’t feel as chaotic and out of control, I just enjoyed the momentum.  I got to the bridge, that incredible bridge, and my friends were waiting for me, but I smiled at my escorts out of the woods, rather than crying because I couldn’t do it.  Again, I was in love with the North Carolina mountains, the peace that they bring to my soul and their fragrant reminder of healing.  As we drove out of the mountains the next day on our drive home, I stared out the van window, my eyes filled with tears at leaving, but knowing I would inevitably be back someday.

April 2015

I don’t recall that we had a team go in 2014 or 2015, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it.  April 2015 is when I went back to school.  I had been feeling a pull for a career move and after some conversations with my beau who I had been seeing since December of 2013 and some investigating, I was enrolled in a program to become a Medical Assistant.  Let the school days begin.

April 2016

During my Medical Assistant externship, it became obvious to me that I wanted, I *needed* to be able to do more for my patients.  So I decided to continue my education in the Practical Nursing Program.  In April of last year, I had just finished my first semester of nursing, and school life as a single mom was about to test my limits in a way that I could not have prepared myself for, at least not any better than I already had.  I had already conquered an Ironman, I was beginning to understand what I was truly capable of, and I was going forth, fearless in my pursuit of excellence. I knew that the next year of my life was going to be challenging, but I had no idea that those 12 months would put to the test all the strength I had already built and challenge me in a way I had never even dreamed.  There would be blood, sweat and tears.  Lots of tears!  Especially in the moments that I questioned if the strain that this endeavor placed on my precious relationships was worth the quality time it took from my treasures.  There was lack of sleep, there was stress upon stress upon stress.  There were priorities that became second and third tier and then they were washed away into nothingness because in the grand scheme of life, they no longer mattered as much as they once did. They would have to wait until there was time.  But since I was blissfully unaware of how difficult the upcoming 3 semesters of nursing school was going to be, I signed up to run my comeback marathon in December and agreed to raise money for the kids of St. Jude.  I agreed to letting my daughter pick up a new sport, Cheer, not realizing how much travel would be involved as I neared the finish line of nursing school.  In April of 2016, Brian and I went to Nashville for a weekend during my break between 1st and 2nd semester.  And then, for approximately 365 days, my life was turned totally upside down.

The year leading up to April 2017

Being a single parent is hard.  Nursing school is hard.  But in this equation 1 + 1 does not equal 2.  Single parenting + nursing school equals about 65 billion.  There is a reason that people get degrees before they get married and have children.  But when April arrived, I realized I just had to hold on a little longer.  Two semesters of Clinical rotations were completed. 3 semesters of intense studying done.  I had traveled to about 10 different states for various things, a trip to both Michigan and New York with my love, travels to Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio for Cheer competitions with my teenager, and a weekend in Memphis to run a marathon.  I raised $3000 for St Jude, far surpassing my goal.  And there were the countless nights of helping kids with homework, chauffeuring kids to and from practices and games, and just generally keeping things afloat and being a mom.

There was a conversation that occurred with my friend Kim one morning during a long training run.  I was reminiscing about the days that I was fast.  Back when I could run a sub 4 hour marathon without a second thought, when another race day usually meant a new PR, back when I was within 2 minutes of my Boston qualifying time. Back then, I was a badass…

“Are you kidding?!” Kim said.  “You are still a total badass!  You are going to nursing school.  And you’re a single mom.  And you’re training for a marathon!  That IS badass!  Who cares how fast you run it, you’ve got a lot going on.  Give yourself a break.  Your badass may not look the same right now, but believe me, you are a badass.”

I can’t tell you how many times I replayed her words in my head to get me through especially those last few months.  The stress was sometimes unbearable, sometimes I was an emotional train wreck, other times all I wanted to do was sleep forever.  It was exhausting.  It’s amazing how using your brain to sit in a classroom and learn can take an extreme physical toll on your body.

April 2017

On April 1st, I knew I only had 3 weeks to go until graduation.  I had survived.  My grades were all in good standing and all I had to do was pass my finals.  Those three weeks draaaaaaagged like nobody’s business.

Two weeks to go…I had a massive meltdown, to the point that my instructor told me to get out and go home.  She knew that I never missed class and I just needed a break from people and from using my brain.  She told me to go for a run.  I did, and a massage, and margaritas.

A week to go…we had our first exit exam and I kicked its butt.  I had finally, over the past couple years, come to the actualization that I am smart, but even I had no expectation of doing as well as I did.  I picked off each exam one by one. We had our graduation pictures taken in our whites and the flying nun hats.  I only had one exam left but I knew that it didn’t matter, I had passed.  I made it.  As the weight lifted and the reality set it, I cried with joy.  I cried for all the lost moments of quality time with my family.  I cried for the lack of sleep and the struggles.  I cried because I was so happy it was finally over.  And I had done it.  I had sometimes clawed my way through the thick of it, but I had made it.

It occurred to me that I had conquered the physical realm in becoming an Ironman and now I had conquered the cognitive realm in becoming a nurse.  Braun and brains wrapped up in one, true strength and stamina personified.

After we finished tying up loose ends at school on Friday the 21st, it was finally time for a highly-anticipated road trip.  I had a cooler full of food, a suitcase full of hiking gear, and I was ready to show my beau the mountains I had fallen in love with 5 years ago, Bryson City, my bridge.  We drove through Gatlinburg and saw the devastation of the recent fires, we visited Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee and very nearly got blown off the mountain from the wind and then we found ourselves at the most perfect, peaceful cabin we could have imagined.  There was a huge porch with rocking chairs that overlooked the mountains and the sound of the river rushing below us.  The next couple days were a perfect combination of adventure and relaxation.  We hiked in the rain and saw beautiful waterfalls, and we sat on that porch or by the fireplace, drinking coffee, or wine, or moonshine, depending on the time of day and our hearts’ desires.

On our last day of hiking, I was planning to take him to my bridge.  We found it with relative ease, thanks to maps and directions from my friend, and former teammate, Michael.  As we hiked down the trail, I had twice run up during the Smoky Mountain Relay, I recounted my memories of those runs.  I told him about the difference a year had made, how the first time I was a hot mess in every sense, without someone coming to drag me out of the woods I might not have made it.  But a year later, I trusted my teammates to not leave me there, I had confidence in my own abilities and I had my smile back.  We found my bridge. It was helpful that the trail markers still hung in the trees due to the race only 2 days prior, so we were lead straight there. It was just as beautiful as I remembered it to be. And it was absolutely horrifying to Brian, who is neither a fan of heights nor shaky unstable swinging bridges over the Little Tennessee River, which is not so little.  Having the opportunity to take him there, I was glowing.  The day could have ended there, and I would have been happy, but it didn’t.

We stopped by Nantahala Outdoor Center, this is where the finish line to the race is staged each year and in 2013 they held the Kayak Championships at the same time.  Wow, you ever wanna watch something cool, that’s it.  We had packed a picnic and we wanted to find a hike, but since we were in a gorge, we didn’t figure we’d make it very far up the Appalachian Trail on either side of us to get some scenery.  We asked for some ideas and the NOC guys sent us up to Wesser Bald, it’s only about 1.5 miles up the Appalachian Trail, and when you get to the top there is an old fire tower you can climb up for 360 degree views.  Perfect.

Even the drive up was stunning, waterfalls everywhere we looked, and I never got tired of them.  When we got to the trail head, we parked the car and grabbed our jackets since it was sprinkling on us off and on.  I threw the backpack of food over my shoulders and we headed up the trail.  It was a very cool hike, beautiful views, we even crossed a small waterfall.  It was steep and we warmed up quickly.  It wasn’t too long and we were at the top.  And as promised, there was the tower.  He wasn’t too excited about climbing up, but he humored me and did it anyway.  When we got to the top, we were greeted with views of a big, giant cloud.  On one side, we could see off in the distance for a while until the mountains disappeared into the clouds, but in all other directions, we could see mostly just white.  We took pictures of what we could and then I, for whatever reason, was in a hurry to feed him, suggesting that we eat under the tower where it would be drier.  But he made me stay for a moment.

I’m not going to share all the details of how the next couple of minutes went, because I’m going to save that for us.  But with the mist falling lightly on us, as we stood in a cloud on top of a mountain, just the two of us, he gave me a ring. And I gave him a sandwich.

Immediately after it happened, a hiker climbed the stairs to join us, we had no idea where he had even come from, but he showed up just in time to take our picture.  Then he looked around and said, “Well this might clear in 5 minutes or it might take 5 hours.” He didn’t feel like waiting so he left.  He seriously came out of nowhere to take our picture and then he was gone.

We ate our sandwiches under the tower, mostly in shocked silence.  I know what you’re thinking, RRG, when are you ever silent?  But I was speechless, I really had not expected that and I had very few words. We agreed that we would mostly keep it on the down low until we had a chance to tell the kids, but we knew they would all be excited. As we finished our lunch, we could see the light of the sun trying to burn off the clouds, the view was changing.  So we climbed back up the fire tower and the scenery was stunning.  We had the 360 degree view that went on for miles.  It was incredible.  The sun was shining, the mountains were spectacular and we were engaged.  Who would have thought?

Eventually we made our way back down the mountain and went back to the cabin.  We ate leftover grilled pork and potatoes for dinner, and drank moonshine on the porch while we watched the most perfect sunset. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

It was hard to say goodbye to the mountains the following morning as we packed up and made the trip back home, but with more good memories in my pocket, I know I will be back again someday. The Smoky Mountains now have even more of my heart.

But how did April 2017 end?  Well, we did tell the kids, and they are excited.  We don’t have lots of details to share yet, we are still mostly just enjoying the moment.  We’ve never been ones to rush things, so we aren’t rushing this next chapter either.

On Saturday, April 29, the eve of the last day of the month we went to church.  In the beginning of the service we sang the old hymn How Great Thou Art. I sat with the words rolling around in my head, “…all I have needed, thy hand has provided” and it struck me how true that was.  He really did carry me through the last six years of my life and give me everything I needed, both good and bad, security and growth, joy and pain, sorrow and peace.  It was all what I needed to become the person I am.  As the service ended and I stood between my daughter, and my fiancé (still weird) I began to sing the words, “Christ is enough for me” but the tears filled my eyes and the words caught in my throat as I thought back to that prayer I said almost exactly 6 years before, “Jesus, be enough…”  It may have taken him 6 years, but He gave me everything I asked for, and so much more.  He showed me that when I ask him to show up, He will, every time. And when I trust His plan, it is better than I could have imagined.

I know things won’t always be happy and sunshine and rainbows, but I also know that some of the best moments happen in the rain.  And eventually, the skies will clear.  In the words of the random hiker on Wesser Bald, “it might take 5 minutes or it might take 5 hours” it might even take 6 years, but the clouds will pass and the skies will clear.  And you can be very sure that the view will be worth the wait!

Our big moment (Photo courtesy of random hiker guy on Wesser Bald)

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The Song of the Woods

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Wow, my second post in just a couple weeks!  I know what you’re thinking…um, Lindsey, shouldn’t you be studying?  The answer to that would be a resounding Yes.  But I’m starting to think that writing, for me, is even better therapy than running.  Or maybe it’s writing about running.  Yeah, it’s probably the combination.

But after this morning’s run, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reflect on what that 30+ minutes was for my well-being.

Wednesday mornings are my favorite.  Typically I get Ally out the door to catch her bus around 6:45 before the boys are awake, so I have a few minutes to sit with her while she eats breakfast.  Usually the front door closing is the cue for Silas to stir.  And then a few minutes later I have to go nudge Ethan to get moving.  Today was no different.

By 8 am the boys were dropped at school and I was on my way to what I call, “My Secret Place,” to go for a run. It’s not really a huge secret, it just sometimes feels like one because I never see anyone else there.  Which I love.  And today I needed that. My life has been filled with so much excess noise and voices that I needed to seek refuge in solitude.

I pulled into a parking spot and was surprised to see a couple other cars there, but I knew their drivers were probably off on hikes, or bikes, and I would still likely be the only runner on the road.  I was, at least, the only human runner on the road.  I started my watch, just because I had to be diligent in observing the time.  School doesn’t start until 10 on Wednesdays, but I still try to be in my seat before Mr. Mahoney gets to the classroom, which is usually about 10:04.

Anyway, I started my watch and put in yurbuds in my ear, but I didn’t turn on my ipod just yet.  Over my head I heard a loud “Caw, Caw” from a big black crow, and I turned my face up to the blue sky.  I didn’t see the bird, but I heeded his warning that instead of filling my ears with the sounds of Kesha and Jayzee and the other trash that seems to motivate me, I needed to hear the song of the woods.

I started out and it wasn’t long before the sounds around me rewarded me with their symphony.

There’s a little brook that runs along the road, and almost immediately I was happy to hear its joyful babbling.  It struck me that so often, when we hear water, it is rushing, fast and furious, much like me in most aspects of my life lately.  But the brook was soft and peaceful.  At times the movement was so subtle, it was almost still, and I relished the reminder that sometimes is ok to be silent.

Just up ahead, about 25 yards ahead of me, I caught sight of a deer slowly crossing the road, into the woods on the other side.  A few seconds later, another one.  And a few seconds later, a young fawn, who stopped and stared down the canopy covered lane at me, before continuing on into the woods behind it’s guardians.  I smiled at how peaceful they were out for a morning stroll.

There was a chorus of critters all about me.  I can’t even pretend to know which birds I heard.  I recognized the rhythmic tapping of the woodpecker, but the ones I didn’t know, I enjoyed, nonetheless. There was one that sounded like it was whistling, one that had a high pitched squeak of squeezy toy and one that sounded like it was beaconing me, “Hey, you.  Hey, you. Hey, you…” as if I could just float up to join him in the branches above.  The orchestra was rounded out by the clickity-clack of cicadas, I think.  Are they even around right now?  And definitely lots of chirping from grasshoppers and their friends.

There was an occasional shuffle of leaves off to the side, squirrels scooting around in their hurried but indecisive patterns.  And then there was a chipmunk.  He stopped on the road right in front of me.  I stopped.  We regarded each other and then just as quickly he was gone.

It’s amazing how when you are really focused on hearing each and every sound around you, you can even hear the soft drifting of a leaf as it falls like a snowflake to the ground and softly plunks down on the pavement.  It became a game I played with myself, watching the leaves fall and seeing how far away I could hear them land.

I think if I would have had time, I might have made up for some of my missing marathon training mileage today.  However, Pharmacology was calling, so I answered.  After a quick shower at home, tossing my backpack in the car and a refill of my coffee for the drive to school, I walked in just after Mahoney had taken attendance.  He said hello and nothing more.  I’m usually prompt, so I think he let my minor tardiness slide.  I was out of breath from hustling in from the parking lot, but I was still pretty proud of the fact that on my way in the building another student acknowledged my Ironman backpack saying how much she liked it.  My response was, “Thank you.  I earned this.”

Unfortunately, school didn’t go quite as well as I hoped today.  Pharm is typically the one class, I am confident I can do well in, but today I think my anxiety of third semester got the best of me and I completely bombed my test this afternoon.  Somehow, I am going to need to figure out a way of reminding myself of my song of the woods while I sit in the computer lab where the silence is deafening and pummels me with doubt lately.

It’s not a secret that this semester has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far, and I’m confident that will probably continue until I make it to the next round and I can proudly say, “I earned this.”  But in the meantime, however brief the moments may be, I will often return to “My Secret Place”, my happy place, and allow the woods to sing to me a song that reminds me that I can and I will and this too shall pass.

Perhaps next time I should just make a recording to listen to while I study.

A peak inside My Secret Place.  It's not really such a secret, some of you probably recognize it.  I'll even tell you where it is, as long as you all promise not to show up all at once...

A peak inside My Secret Place. It’s not really such a secret, some of you probably recognize it. I’ll even tell you where it is, as long as you all promise not to show up all at once…

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