Fuzzy socks and the love of my life …

Today in Cali we are having quite a rain storm. No, not like the polar snowstorms other parts of the county are experiencing, but a major storm for us nonetheless. I don’t like rain. Well, it’s OK as long as I don’t have to go out in it. I don’t like feeling damp … guh. Cold rain is the worst. Add in wind and you may as well just tap me out of life. In recent years I’ve had to run in it. Not lots of it thankfully and not treacherous. I’ve learned I hate the treadmill at the gym more than mild rain. But, there is something about a cozy rainy day that speaks to my soul. It’s comforting and somehow healing. I got the opportunity to spend the whole morning hanging with my 4 year old Ree. Although our fevers have been long gone we are both still on the mend from this last battle we had with the plague’s distant cousin. My Ree was so sick it scared me. She’s never been sick like that before. Reese has Down Syndrome and was born prematurely weighing only 2lbs 15oz. Although she is strong and healthy there is a part of me that will never forget seeing her so vulnerable. I still go right back there when she’s sick. Anyway, I’m glad we are past the worst of this illness. Today was just what we needed … I needed. We got comfy cozy. Sweatshirts. Sweats. Blankets. Pillows. CHECK! Oh, I almost forgot the most important part of a snuggly day at home! Wait for it …

Well, I hope you all have a day where you get to wear warm fuzzy socks with the love of your life!!!

A patch of blue sky and a glimmer of hope …

One of my favorite quotes (and I’ve got a TON of them) is by Richard Bach. “You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true”. Wow. That is HUGE. Yes, I’ll admit I have often been accused of being a dreamer. Heck, I am Queen resident in my very own imaginary LaLa Land, HA! And trust me, if there is a BIG dream out there to dream … I’m dreaming it. But this quote is so empowering. It really breaths life into the fact that anything is possible, you just have to find the strength that is already housed within you … and do it. But sadly, I think that’s where a lot of people fall short. They cop out on themselves too easily. People, especially in our society these days, find hard work beneath them. They don’t want to be uncomfortable or in pain. Who does??? They just want things handed to them and can become jealous or angry when they aren’t. What a mess. So what makes some of us more able to find and keep the power within us to keep moving forward? I think it’s one’s ability to find hope. Yep, hope. It’s quite cliche to say, but it’s what keeps you going when the going gets tough. Hope doesn’t usually come with a ticker tape parade with signs that cheer you on and with guarantees that everything will turn out sunny. Hope comes in small packages and in moments that speak directly to your soul … just when you need them the most. Most people give up on themselves and their dreams far before they even develop a real need for hope. Others stick around long enough to need hope, but then dismiss it’s small signs. And ultimately jump ship on themselves as well. To successfully pursue your dreams you must have a heart intent on finding hope in all your trials. Bottom line. If you’re not dreaming big, then you will never know what it’s like to need hope. I say this like it’s a good thing. Well, it sorta is. You see, when you are at that point where you really need some hope and that moment arrives … and you see it … and you feel it … you NEVER feel more alive. If you have no need for hope … well … then you just aren’t living BIG enough.

I’ve made no secret of how 2014 has been off to a rough start for me. My friends and I joke that I seem to have developed my very own personal rain cloud. But you know what? I don’t mind it one bit. Because every day I wake up with the hope of a new day. Trust me there have been days I could have very easily given up on my dreams and not a soul would have questioned me why. But I didn’t. Everyday I chose to find those moments of hope amidst my storms. It’s funny, throughout the past 6 weeks of my life I have often envisioned myself on a tiny boat at sea with dark awful clouds above me. But I also see myself sitting patiently and calmly in that boat. Trusting God and looking for that moment when a blue sky breaks through. Today in Cali we are heading into a few days of heavy rain. It rained pretty consistently the early morning hours by house. On my way home from dropping my H-Crew off at school it was still raining. But what I saw as I came around the corner to my neighborhood, just about made me fall out of my car. It was a patch of blue sky. MY BLUE SKY! The one I’ve been waiting for in my little boat for the past 6 weeks. Right there for ME to see. I was overwhelmed. I got out and took a picture of it. There it was. MY hope moment. The one that told me that my storm is going to be over soon … BIG SIGH. Now, could I have dismissed this as nothing? Sure. And most of the world probably would have. But THAT is just not how this girl chooses to roll.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you find your GLIMMER OF HOPE!!!

The ocean and finding my peace …

I have always loved the ocean. About 9 years ago my family and I had the opportunity to move to a lovely little beach community called Oxnard Shores. It wasn’t quite central California but it is too far north the be considered So Cal, HA! Regardless, it was wonderful. We lived 11 houses from the beach and if we opened our windows we could hear the waves crash. Everything we owned smelled like salty fresh air. I. Was. In. Love. I had a feeling life wouldn’t keep us there long, and sadly, I was right. We were only there about 2 years. I guess because deep down I knew we wouldn’t be there forever, I made myself appreciate every moment we had there. The chilly beach nights. The sunsets. The overcast days. The shimmer of the sun on the water like glitter. The dolphins. The surfers. The friendships. And the sand … it was everywhere! Again. I. Was. In. Love. It’s actually the place I began running again. I remember my first day getting back at it and praying to God to please just let me be able to run 1/8th of a mile without having a heart attack. Hey, ya gotta start back somewhere, right?!?! Anyway, I think a part of me will always live there, because being there changed me for the better. My short time in Oxnard Shores made me a much more peaceful and patient person. And as a result when I am struggling with something you can bet on me making a beach trip. You see, the ocean is where I find a centered part of me that isn’t always there. I believe it’s the one place on earth that I can always count on to remind me of how very small I actually am. It humbles me. BUT it also reminds me of how very big God is and that anything is possible through Him. Prayer comes easy for me there. Stillness of my heart comes naturally. I feel hope there. Letting go … just happens. I can’t really understand why, but every time I visit there, I find exactly what I was looking for.

Well, I hope you all had a day where you found your peace!!!

Donuts …

I am a pretty healthy eater and I have been most of my life. I came into my love of fitness and nutrition the summer I turned 12 when I discovered the Richard Simmons show. I would write down his recipes and when my mother would come home from work I would beg her to take me to the store to buy all the ingredients. For the record, that woman was a saint. Of course since then, I did the typical high school and college crappy diet scene. But in the end, I always came back to what I knew to be the best thing for my body. Plus I have ALWAYS had a fear of chemicals and preservatives (and plastic for that matter, but again, that is topic for another day). So needless to say, eating healthy caused me less anxiety than dealing with all my other phobias combined, HA!

That all being said, I do have a vice I will probably never give up … DONUTS. Donuts are my thing. They always have been. Honestly, I think it came out of being a New Yorker. Yes, I’ve spent most of my life as a Californian, but it doesn’t matter. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker … first and foremost. Anyway, one of my favorite childhood memories is of little pink pastry boxes tied up with string that always seemed to fill my YaYa’s (grandmother’s) hands. Yes, bakeries, pink boxes and donuts are a part of my personal history … silly I know, but sentimental to me nonetheless. Donuts are not just my vice … they have become my reward and my comfort food. When I celebrate, I usually do so with donut. When I am sad, I also comfort myself with a donut. Perhaps I seek them, in good times and bad, because they bring me back to a simple happy time when life was just starting for me. When life was genuinely good and right. When a sweet was just a treat. I cherish the memories I have of the smiles that came across the faces of the people I loved who delighted in what was found inside those pretty pink boxes. Donuts. They may not be the best thing for my body, but every once in a while, they are exactly what my heart needs.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you enjoy a donut!!!

Bravely surrendering …

I am sick and so are three out of four of my H-Crew (what I have affectionately come to call my children). This is not the best case scenario for anyone, let alone a woman about to run her fifth marathon. Times like this you can either get angry or surrender to whatever God is trying to teach you. I usually waiver between both, HA! I have come to realize that when I choose to do the latter, it calls for a bit of BRAVERY. Before 2014 started I was determined to handle it BRAVELY. I’m staring down a lot of demons this year with the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing and the fact that on my next birthday I turn the age she was when she died. Yep, 2014 is a DOOZEY for me. Knowing what I was facing I claimed my yearly one word mantra as BRAVE. I think it’s important to pick a new one every year, but that’s a topic for a different day. Being BRAVE requires us to learn more about yourselves under stressful situations so that we can survive them and move forward. Let’s face it, you don’t have to be BRAVE in pleasant situations. The need for BRAVERY presents itself when we are thrust into situations we perceive as painful or frightening. I think the first steps to BRAVELY facing a new (or revisited) trial is admitting that you must learn something new about yourself and be willing to change. I’m a firm believer that God has us repeat situations until we become the person He needs us to be to carry out His plan. So the more unpleasant the situation I find myself in, the more willing I tend to be to learn from it. After all, I don’t need a repeat of anything painful or frightening.

So how does this all relate to a sick mom with sick kids about to run a marathon??? Well, here’s how. I just started marathoning about 16 months ago and despite having run four marathons (one with three sprained tendons in my foot and the last two being seven days apart) I am still struggling with trusting the body God has given me. I’m always scared it won’t remember what to do … and remember to do it well. This training has been rough. Emotionally charged and I’ve been sick twice. God is trying very hard to teach me something … I just know it. And I think it’s this: To not worry. To trust the gifts He has so generously given me to get the job done. To praise Him through every trial I have faced and find comfort in knowing He is molding me to be what He needs. It’s all pretty darn awesome when you look at it like that. BIG SIGH. So I have decided I am not going to panic, like I typically would. And I am not going to be scared, like I want to be. I am going to BRAVELY trust that God has my back and will get me across that finish line … at just the right time … His time.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you BRAVELY SURRENDER!!!

Facing my fear of failure …

Failure … I’m not even comfortable typing it. Truthfully I don’t think I’ve ever even written about it. Let’s face it, FAILURE is UNpleasant. No one goes out and starts something they plan on failing at. Failure is not ever THE GOAL. But boy oh boy … facing the fear of failure can prove to be quite a valuable lesson. The threat of failure forces us to do many UNpleasant (again, the only word that goes hand and hand with it) things. The worst part of that threat for me are the feelings I have about not becoming who I thought I could be. I’m not a very competitive person unless it’s against myself (OK fine, and with the high school football coach I frequently see on training runs throughout the streets of my city). But in general, I have never found any use in competing with others, about anything. Running is no exception (again, unless “the coach” is visible). Perhaps it’s the “only child” in me or the way I was raised. It has come very naturally for me to live a life focused solely on doing my PERSONAL BEST. And I think it has served me well. BUT when you live this way, you soon realize it is ALL on you. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I can be REALLY REALLY mean to me. I can be not very nice to myself when I’m staring down not achieving a goal I set for myself. And that, again, is quite unpleasant. In regards to marathon training, you have to surrender to the fact that you need to push yourself physically beyond anything you ever thought normal or rational to succeed. To leave IT all out there and trust God to put you back together after it’s all
over … assuming there is anything left of you to put back, HA! You have to look failure in the face and say YOU ARE NOT WELCOMED HERE TODAY. Failure … the fear of it will definitely make or break you. I’m going to choose to face my fears about failure and allow the process to change me. To allow the threat of failure to mold me, push me and help me become … just a little bit more of me.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you have no other option than to SUCCEED!!!

ME, my EYE ZIT and the WEIRD that follows me …

OK, this one shocked even me. I woke up early this morning … no, not to run. This was not voluntary or planned. I woke up at 1 a.m. with excruciating eye pain. Um … I am not a whimp when it comes to pain. I’ve survived a fractured vertebra, migraines, natural child birth, an emergency c-section (and a wicked recovery), meningitis and running a marathon with three sprained tendons in my foot. Yadda, yadda, yadda. My point being, I am a bad @&& when it comes to pain. So for this eye pain to wake me up and land me in a germ infested ER during flu season 15 days before my next marathon, YOU KNOW it had to be BAD! The diagnosis: a Hordeolum internum. In normal people terms … it’s an internal sty. INTERNAL. Yes people, what woke me up from a dead sleep was the eruption of a zit behind my eye. Lovely. I was not easily convinced of this fact because the pain was so bad. But apparently it is known to be quite painful … and rare (of course). Since they did a pretty thorough eye exam (not everyone gets a glaucoma test at 3 a.m. … don’t be jealous), I was reluctantly convinced. Now, this isn’t the first weird medical thing I’ve experienced. Sadly, I don’t think it will be the last either. AND it certainly doesn’t top the list … but still. Really? An INTERNAL EYE ZIT … only me …

Well, I hope you all have a day where you don’t wake up with some un-SIGHT-ly acne!!!

… passionately living my miracle.

We have it for our spouses, lovers and partners. We feel it fiercely when we love and protect our children. Passion. I think it’s what makes us feel most alive. But what about the passion that inexplicably drives us? That thing that draws us, like a moth to light, to follow our dreams. That piece of us that no one else quite seems to understand … but us.  A teammate of mine recently sent me something about just this thing. I wish I could find it, and when I do, I will post it here … because it spoke to me. The gist of the work was this: there is a fire that lives inside all of us. It’s passion. It’s that element of us that drives us to do something … and LOVE what we are doing. It can’t be explained. It’s just part of us. The work talked about how this is the God part of us. I loved that! The author said that this PASSION is a God-given gift and should be considered a miracle. WOW! As the day of my fifth marathon approaches (YIKES, ONLY 16 DAYS AWAY) … I understand this just a little bit more than usual. For many decades I dismissed my dream, my passion … I pushed it aside … and said, “one day”. About 9 years ago when I started running more seriously … my passion was fueled again. I thought about becoming a marathoner more and more … until one day about three years ago when I was dropping off one of my daughters at school … I saw it. The coveted 26.2 sticker on the back of the car in front of me in the drop off line. All of suddenly it became so clear to me. It. Was. Time. And there was no denying it despite how much I rationalized all the reasons I shouldn’t. The bottom line is … God spoke to me … and I had no choice in listening.  It became an active part of me right then and there. Yes, running is my passion. Not everyone gets it. Not everyone supports it. But you know what??? God does. He gave me this passion … my very own miracle happening inside of my body … and that’s all that matters to me.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you PASSIONATELY live your miracle!!!

…and so it begins.

Wow, I can’t believe I finally did it. I took a leap and broke out of my safe and cozy nook on Facebook and brought Living In LaLa Land to the outside world. I’ve made a few changes as you can see. The biggest being a name change … how exciting (and kinda weird)! I still plan on blogging the same old stuff I have been for almost 3 years now … again wow! So I’d love for you all to stick around and see where this new adventure takes us. Because like I said in a recent Facebook post, I am a child of God who loves her Lord. A mother who loves her children. An athlete who loves to run. A healthy foodie (with a serious donut addiction) who loves to cook. An eternal optimist ready, willing and able to find hope in each new day (even if that day sucks dirt). And I would love to share my world with you, and for you to share yours with me. After all we are in this life thing together … so we might as well be friends. I give you this promise, when you come here and read my words … you will always leave her with a hope. Perhaps they will be serious, deep and poetic. Or just silly, laughable and ridiculous. But either way, together we WILL find hope in each new day. So I invite you join the ones who have come to be known as the LaLa Land-ians and let me welcome you to LIVING and RUNNING IN LALA LAND!!!

Well, I hope you all have a day where you have a new beginning!!!

Lady LaLa Jen