Thursday, January 9, 2014

First Post of 2014 - Apparently My Resolution Involved Procrastination

Well hi there! Gee whiz, where did the last two weeks go? I had grand plans to blog all through the holidays and then start the New Year off with some motivational posts but instead I have been trying to cope with the craziness that is my life. My writing skills will definitely never do justice to all of the stories I could tell from the past couple of weeks but I'm going to attempt a quick catch up post.

First of all, I had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas in Virginia with my family. I was able to spend time with all of the people I love and I FINALLY got to meet my brand new and super adorable niece, Olivia Charlotte Matheny.

Yes, that beautiful little baby was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and we spent a lot of time snuggled up just like the picture above. I think it literally took her about ten seconds and one smile to completely wrap me around her finger. I mean, for real, check this baby out:

She is just ridiculous!!! So, besides spending tons of time being an aunt, I also found time to go on a couple of runs through the hills of Virginia and loved every single second of it. It was freezing cold and my hands and feet were numb for hours after I finished but I have definitely missed running in's the best! After all, Virginia is for Runners! It was absolutely wonderful having time off to hang out with my family. I absolutely love living in Charleston, SC but sometimes it is hard to be so far away from my family...especially when you have a family that is as awesome as mine is. I miss them every single day and have already started counting down the days until we can hang out again.

Although my trip to Virginia and time there was awesome, my journey back home was quite the adventure. I'm not going to get into every little detail but the quick synopsis includes:
- 9ish hours of holiday traffic on I-95.
- Blowing my transmission/clutch/flywheel while going 75 mph down I-26.
- Sitting in my car on the side of the road for 3 hours because the tow truck couldn't find me.

- Realizing my cell phone was dead and even if it wasn't everyone I could call for help was at least 6 hours away.
- Hitching a ride to the airport at 11:00 pm because that was the only place I could rent a car.
- Walking in my front door after a 14 hour ordeal to realize that my bathroom was completely flooded.
- Spending 2 additional hours sanitizing my entire home and doing countless loads of laundry.
- Trying my best to not cry myself to sleep.

Suffice it to say, I spent the rest of my holiday break trying to figure out car stuff, arguing with plumbing people, trying to juggle finances and forcing myself to stay calm. I also had the added pleasure of spending five mind numbing hours at DMV and another couple of hours in the tax auditor's office. After a solid week of solving one crisis after another, I literally slept an entire weekend away and woke up on Monday ready to face the world. However, the world was ready for me with a sneak attack in the form of a flat tire on the coldest morning ever!!! Trust me, standing on the side of the road in 18 degree weather is not awesome! At this point, all I can really do is laugh about my misfortune. Life just isn't fair sometimes and right now seems to be my "sometimes."

On the plus side, I just renewed my lease for another year which means that Charleston will be home until at least February 2015. I realized on my drive to Virginia that Charleston is "home" now. Despite all of the troubles I encountered while trying to make it back, I was still extremely happy to pull into Chucktown and begin a brand new year here. I am blessed to have a job that I love, a roof over my head and friends that make me smile. What more could I possibly need?

So there you have it, we should be pretty much caught up on life so far. Now if I can just make this blogging thing more of a regular occurrence. No promises but I'm going to try.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Quick Chat Before the Holiday Madness

Hi guys! I wanted to make sure I took a moment to blog at least one more time before Xmas arrives. I know that I am going to be super busy snuggling with this precious baby:

Hanging out with these two troublemakers:

Running with my two favorite running buddies:

Making sure this lady gets well and learns to relax:

 Catching up with my two favorite Floridians:

And most importantly, trying to not freeze my ass off!!!!!

Wed Dec 25
Don't let that friendly looking sunshine fool you! There is nothing Sunny and warm about a high of 40 degrees. I literally might die! No joke! I have already double checked my Last Will and Testament, cleared the history on my computer and prepared for the worst. I have also attempted to take preventative measures by packing ALL of my clothing and I plan to wear at least three layers at all times. If I happen to run into you over the holidays and you notice that I have put on weight, please bear in mind that I am probably wearing at least three pairs of pants, seven shirts, a coat and multiple pairs of panties. Hey, a girl has got to do what a girl has got to do!!!
With all of that being said, I would like to wish each and every one of you a very, very happy holiday! It means so much to me that you take the time to read my blog and listen to me ramble on about all sorts of nonsense. I am truly blessed and so extremely grateful to be living this precious life. Merry Xmas!!!
(That last picture is for you Hump Day friend!!! Shh! Miss your face and your amazing advice!)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Truth About the Holidays

As much as I want to be someone who loves Christmas and looks forward to the holidays, I have to admit that this time of year is really just not my favorite. I'm not sure if it is due to high expectations, the impending disappointment when those expectations are not met, the cold weather, the difficulty of a family that has a hard time getting along or the financial burden of the holiday season but for the past few years I have found myself simply trying to survive the holidays rather than celebrating. I am not intentionally trying to be a Grinch with a heart that is two sizes too small but the magic of Christmas has completely disappeared. Is it wrong that I wish I could skip the holidays and instead spend a week laying on a warm, tropical beach? Am I the only one who feels this way? Is anyone else just absolutely exhausted by the songs, shopping, travel and parties?

While I was running last night, I was thinking a lot about my frustration with this season and trying to figure out why I couldn't shake my bad attitude. It is super annoying to realize that your behavior is stupid while feeling helpless to change it. I tried listening to Christmas music on the drive home in the hopes that something would click and I even detoured through a neighborhood filled with Christmas lights but I still felt absolutely jaded by the time I finally arrived home. As I was sorting through my mail, I came across a large envelope with an address that I didn't recognize right away. The package didn't appear to be a bill and as I opened it, I realized that it contained the magic of Christmas.

Knowing the struggles that Timmy goes through on a daily basis and the difficulties that he will have to endure in the future, makes me wonder how he is able to keep that precious smile on his face. (Check out this post for Timmy's story.) I swear, that kid teaches me something new every day and makes me want to be a better person. I haven't become Santa's favorite elf overnight and I am still dreading the drama that surrounds my family at Christmas time but I actually found myself humming Jingle Bells on my run this morning and I just might be wearing red and green today.

(Please consider taking a moment to visit my Children's Tumor Foundation Sponsorship Page and make a donation in Timmy's honor. I mean really, how can you resist that smile?!?)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Random Thoughts and Things I Think You Should Know

So this is the post where I simply list a few quick things that are of interest to me because my brain is tired and I am lacking creativity. Just keeping it real.

1.) Radishes - okay, I have had radishes plenty of times but recently I've discovered a new found love for them. Maybe I am just tired of the same old boring stuff that I always eat but I have become a  total radish loving freak...and because I am a dork, I read up on the health benefits of radishes and discovered that they are a very good source of anti-oxidants, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. Nothing wrong with that!

2.) Today is December 17th and I have still not started my Xmas shopping or even thought about starting. Does this make me a cold hearted Grinch or just your run of the mill procrastinator?

3.) Last night, on my way home from the gym, the gas light in my car came on so I quickly pulled over to fill up my gas tank. As I was standing at the pump, shivering in my sweaty t-shirt and running tights, a guy pulled up next to me in a Porsche, rolled down his window, handed me a huge unwrapped (yet still warm) bacon cheeseburger, smiled and drove away. To say I was confused would be a major understatement! I'm still shaking my head at the whole thing. I just don't understand what happened there. Perhaps, I looked hungry? People are weird.

4.) I can't really explain why (and I am completely embarrassed to admit) that I am absolutely loving Do What U Want by Lady Gaga and R. Kelly. I really can't stand Lady Gaga and R. Kelly makes me want to throw up. In my mind, I hate that song but then it comes on the radio and before I realize what is happening I'm totally having a dance party of one and singing at the top of my lungs. There is something seriously wrong with me! Let's hope I grow out of this quickly!

5.) In case you missed my last few posts, please take a moment to check out my post about Timmy - My Ironman Hero. and consider donating a few dollar bills to the Children's Tumor Foundation. All donations are tax deductible and really help to change the lives of so many precious children.

6.) Over the weekend, I went to see The Book Thief and it was absolutely amazing! I usually have such a hard time sitting through an entire movie but this story completely captured my attention and my heart. Do yourself a favor and check it out but make sure you bring some tissues because you just may shed a tear or two.

7.) There are just two short weeks left in 2013 and I find that really hard to believe. This year has flown by and left me scratching my head at where the time went. I have to admit, I am sort of ready for 2013 to be over because I just have this crazy feeling that 2014 is going to be absolutely amazing. I am planning on starting the year off at the Polar Plunge on Folly Beach and have already picked out my official New Year's bikini for the plunge and the flannel pants and wool socks that I will be wearing for the rest of the day! If you are looking for an awesome way to celebrate the New Year, consider joining me for the Polar Plunge! I guarantee that you will have an amazing time!
Doesn't that water just look extremely inviting?!? 
8.) Finally, I can't let the holiday season pass without a little bit of love for my favorite Xmas movie.

It just never gets old!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Meet Timmy - My Ironman Hero

A couple of weeks ago, I shared part of the reason why I am participating in Ironman Florida 2014 in this post. However, that was only part of the story. I’m taking on a challenge with the Children’s Tumor Foundation by partnering with the NF Endurance Team. Neurofibromatosis (NF) causes tumors to grow on nerves throughout the body and can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness, disfigurement, learning disabilities, and excruciating and disabling pain. NF is under-recognized and under diagnosed.  The Children’s Tumor Foundation funds critical research to find treatments for NF.
As part of my partnership with the NF Endurance team, I have the had the privilege to meet Timmy, a child who is living with NF and who has become both my inspiration and my Ironman hero.

I want to share with you a little bit of Timmy's story through an email that I received from his mom:

"Timmy is 4 years old. He was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis (NF1) when he was a couple months old. Timmy had his first MRI (which is done under general anesthesia) when he turned a year old. He was also diagnosed with scoliosis when he was a year old. Shortly after he turned two, Timmy was diagnosed with an optic glioma (brain tumor that grows from within the optic nerve). The tumor went from non-existent to completely filling the space between his orbit and brain within a year. He lost almost all vision in his left eye. Timmy had a broviac (central line used for chemotherapy) surgically placed in his chest and immediately started chemotherapy. Timmy went through a year and a half of weekly chemo to treat the optic glioma. During this time, we found out that he had another tumor developing in his right eye. Timmy also had to start wearing a patch (over his right eye) four hours a day (to try to force his left eye to work and regain some vision). He will continue to wear a patch for a few more years.

In the midst of his chemo to treat his optic gliomas, Timmy's scoliosis went from mild to severe. He was fitted with a scoliosis brace and wears it 23 hours a day. Correcting his scoliosis will be a process. He will have to have major surgery to place rods to straighten his spine. This surgery will be followed by more surgery every 6 months, to lengthen the rods, until he is fully grown. When he is fully grown, his spine will have to be fused to prevent his spine from returning to it's curved state. He continues to wear his brace in order to (hopefully) put off surgery for a few more years. He goes to physical therapy (and does daily exercises) to help him develop better balance and coordination.

During the past year, Timmy developed a new tumor in his brain stem and some smaller bright spots in his brain. The neurosurgeons are carefully monitoring these areas through quarterly MRIs. Timmy has had 12 MRIs so far. Timmy also went through spinal cord surgery in October of this year to release his tethered spinal cord. Sometimes it feels like we are constantly at the doctors office or the hospital for something. Timmy is pretty tired of going under anesthesia. NF does not run in our family. Timmy just ended up being one of the 40% of cases that spontaneously develop.

Despite everything Timmy has been through, he continues to be an enthusiastic, sweet and funny little man.  He thinks life is great!  He loves to talk to people and makes friends with people everywhere we go. I feel so lucky to have him as my kid. NF has been overwhelming to say the least, but seeing all The Children's Tumor Foundation does and the new research that is developing keeps us hopeful.  Thank you again for choosing to race for the NF Endurance Team.  You are making a difference!"

Does that face and his story not just totally melt your heart?!? I have been through some hard stuff in my life but nothing even close to what Timmy has had to endure and I definitely didn't do it with a good attitude and a smile on my face! Real talk! I realize that this post is getting long so I am not going to add anything more than a simple request that you consider donating to The Children's Tumor Foundation and my Ironman journey. My personal fundraising webpage can be found here. If you have any questions or would like additional information please feel free to contact me via the comments section or on Facebook.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bad Habits + Good Habits = Breaking Even or Waste of Time?

This weekend while I was running, I started to think about all of the bad habits I have. Trust me, there are a lot! As with most of my thoughts during a run, this turned into an internal debate regarding whether I am breaking even or just wasting my time in regard to my health.

Let's take my run yesterday as an example:

The Good
- Started my morning with warm lemon water, a cup of coffee and a banana.
 (This is HUGE because a lot of times I just don't eat anything!)
- Ran 16.50 miles at a nice strong steady pace.
- Sipped on Vega Electrolyte Hydrator throughout my run. (sooooo delicious!)
- Left my IPod at home so that I would be aware of my surroundings.
- Wore compression socks and my new Asics that don't have a million miles on them.
- Remembered to stretch when my run was finished.

The Bad:
- Took 4 Advil before my run and 2 more about half way through.
- Refused to stop running when my foot was throbbing at mile 7.
(The throbbing did stop after another couple of miles so maybe it was ok that I kept running?)
- Ran in 47 degree rain which wouldn't be a huge deal but I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I started off with gloves but lost them somewhere along the way.
- Took a steaming hot shower immediately after my run instead of the ice bath my legs needed.
- Rewarded myself with 12 amazing, warm and fabulous minutes in the tanning bed.
(I know, I know...tanning is so bad for you...blah, blah, blah. You know what though? Tanning beds are warm and that is really all I care about.)
- I didn't eat anything after my run, or really the rest of the day. I had some cranberry seltzer water and a handful of raw cashews but I really don't think that counts.

So what do you think? Did the running, stretching, hydration and pre-run fuel outweigh the Advil, pain, tanning and lack of food? In my defense I will say this, running for me has always been about so much more than simply exercise. I run because quite often it is the only way I am able to handle stress. Running clears my mind, helps me to reevaluate my decisions and reminds me that I am capable of being awesome...or sort of awesomeish anyway! I honestly don't believe that any of us can ever be 100% "healthy" or do everything "the right way" but I would like to believe that all of my efforts are at least helping me to break even. What do you think? I am really curious to hear opinions on this. Let's hear it!

Photo: Sunday Long I don't punch anyone in the face! :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Throwback Thursday - Blogger Style

Just a few reasons why my family is awesome:

And you can take awesome to mean anything you want!
So thankful that I get to do life with this bunch of weirdos.