Menacing …

We have a big fire near us right now. Not close enough to cause us any danger but we have had several friends who are in that area that have had to evacuate. Last Fall my son was close by the fires in Northern California. Too close! His university was closed for about two weeks because of it. I was completely unnerved until I knew he was far enough away to be safe. The memories still gives me the chills. This current fire is UGLY. Last I heard it was only 5% contained. It’s over 100 degrees here today too. I can’t imagine what our firefighters are having to endure right now. When I checked our weather this morning it said that we would have a day that was partly cloudy. That was a gross a understatement. Between our hot and humid weather and the fires our skies have been clouded over with black, gray, yellow and brown clouds all day. They have definitely reinforced to the surrounding areas that fire is scary. My prayers go out to all the people who are effected by this fire and to the firefighters who are bravely battling to contain it.

Well, I hope you all have a day that isn’t menacing!!!

Risking life and limb …

Our explorations took us farther north today and we saw so many wonderful sights! We even hiked down to Shark Fin Cove. It was a little treacherous for someone like me because I am deathly afraid of heights and falling. But this was worth casting my fears aside! It was AMAZING! It’s times like these that remind me that bravery has its perks.

Well, I hope you all had a day where risking life and limb turned out beautifully!!!

A survivor (times 2) …

One year ago today I woke up early and headed for the gym. I did some speed-work and clocked my fastest 1/4 mile (7:13). Not to shabby! I went home and continued on with my typical morning routine. Then I headed to my dental cleaning. This would be that last time I would feel like myself for months.

Later that day I would find myself in an ER with symptoms I was all to familiar with. I was sick. And despite the fact that no one believed me I knew my body. I had meningitis. Again.

Today is the one year anniversary of my second round of meningitis. Still with so many questions left unanswered. That alone is a demon I must face every day. I have become obsessed with Facebook memories. Trying to find some clue as to how I got so sick so fast. Again. There is nothing there. Nothing. I finished a week of 100,000 logged on my Fitbit. I mention twitchy legs, crazy fast speed-work and a rest weekend. It was to be a well deserved break from my training that was going better than I ever could have hoped for. I was strong and healthy. Race ready. There was nothing in those memories that would indicate that I would become so sick in just mere hours. How can anyone’s brain be that swollen and they not show any signs or symptoms?!?! It’s baffling. Utterly.

There are days that I still feel like a ticking time-tomb. I’m not sure if that feeling will ever go away. The memory of this experience and the fall-out afterward will always be unsettling. The “unknowns” are worrisome at best. But I refuse to cave into fear and let it immobilize me. Life is too precious for that. I thought battling meningitis once was bad enough. Twice, just seems insulting. But I truly believe that life gives us lessons for reasons. Reasons we might not ever understand. And THAT gives me my peace. Trust me, I can easily focus on all the things that this illness has robbed me of. How disruptive it was to, not just my life, but my family’s and friends’ lives as well. I can resent the fact that I still don’t feel like myself and that I fear it happening all over again. I can focus on the anger I feel when I see my precious kids worrying about my smallest of ailments. Children shouldn’t have to worry like that! OH, if meningitis was a person I would have punched it in the throat long ago!

Anyway, as I see it I have two options. I can choose the road paved with anxiety, fear and bitterness … OR … I can be thankful that I even had a road in the first place.

Let’s face it, life is not always easy. Crap happens through no fault of our own. But life can still be beautiful. I’d be lying if I said this illness hasn’t changed me. It has. I am not the same woman who woke up on this day a year ago. I am, for better or worse, the Jennifer I was supposed to be on this day and in this moment. Meningitis helped shaped me. And I’m OK with that. I am an ever-evolving woman who accepts that change and defeat and pain are an acceptable way to form me into the woman I am meant to be. Meningitis was a pit stop. OK fine, TWO. But it wasn’t my final destination. God and the universe clearly are not done with me yet and that’s good … because I still have dreams. And as long as I have breath, scared or not, I will chase them.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you are a survivor (times 2)!!!

FEARLESS … 

I am not invincible. 2016 beat that into me more times than I can count. There were attacks on my family, health issues, loss of relationships, and a roller coasters of change. I’m not saying that 2016 didn’t have quite a few high points, it did. Blessings were abundant. And I am thankful that most of the issues that presented themselves were resolved. I just needed to weather the storm. Lots of them actually. And those storms were pretty darn rough.

Despite having felt vulnerable, broken, weak, disappointed and scared, I am somehow ending this year with my spirt intact. There were MANY moments when I didn’t think I’d ever feel like myself again emotionally. Physically, I’m getting there and I know in my heart that I will be completely restored in this area too. I really couldn’t be more grateful.

It took me a while to emerge from the darkness of 2016 but when I finally did I felt something wash over me. I’ve always been a pretty cautious person and planned as much as I could throughout my life. But after a lot of soul searching and reflecting on 2016 events I realized that without some serious guts … I will never have any glory. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want fame or any craziness like that. But I do want to achieve some pretty lofty personal goals. And without some bold moves, they aren’t ever going to happen. I see that now. Worry and overly cautious behavior has no place in my life now. None.

I’m not a big resolution maker. But I do love new beginnings and the coming of the new year is exciting to me. As I’ve written before, I like to come up with a New Year mantra. They motivate me and remind me of what is important to my heart.

So after all I’ve survived in 2016 I think it’s time to dig deep and find out what I’m really made of. I’ll use the strength and tenacity that I found this year to make 2017 exactly what I want it to be. Maybe even more. I won’t back down. I will be brave and courageous despite what life throws at me. I’ll also add an element to all this that I’ve never added before. Something that grew out of pain, stubbornness, feeling fed up and being totally OVER IT. Yes, last year broke me … but God gave me the ability and the time to not stay that way. And I don’t plan on taking any of it for granted or wasting one second of my restoration. I will always be grateful for the defeat I felt in 2016, because in those moments of complete and utter brokenness I became a little more edgy, daring and determined. A combination I can’t wait to put into action.

Well, I hope you all have a YEAR where you become FEARLESS!!!

Teenagers drivers and the terrified parents who love them … 

To those parents who have successfully gone before me in the way of having teenagers who drive … GOD LOVE YOU MY BRAVE WARRIORS. This is no joking matter. It’s quite possibly the worst parenting rite of passage I’ve experienced thus far. It’s the first time I’ve ever wondered if my child is trying to kill me. Or make me pee my pants. Either way, I am finding no joy in this. None.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you aren’t terrified!!!

Thank you for sharing 2014 with me …

On January 1, 2014 I posted several pictures to my personal Facebook page that were my New Year “resolutions” of sorts. Truth be told, I am not a resolution maker. I believe if you want to achieve your goals and live your dreams you must embrace a lifestyle that ensures your success. It’s an inside job that requires commitment. Every. Darn. Day. There is no faking it. But, I do believe the coming of a new year can be a great motivator as a “DAY 1” of making the changes you want to see in your life. It’s also a great time to pat yourself on the back for ongoing successes in areas like parenting, careers, etc. To say to yourself, “Hey, you got that right, keep up the good work.”

As I looked back on the pictures I posted that day, I found the ones I included at the bottom of this blog entry. They are my favorites. They sum up my 2014. My joys. My successes. My failures. My hardships. And all the people and things that somehow managed to keep me going through all of it.

My children. My H-Crew. The loves of my life. The reasons my heart beats. My true joy. My heart in four equal parts. Without them all the other pictures here make no sense.

Bravery. I battled many demons this year all surrounding the 20th anniversary of my mother’s passing and the fact that I turned the age she was when she died. It wasn’t easy. At times it was downright awful. It was painful. And scary. But I did it. I showed myself that this is my life and my story. And I will bravely continue to write each page … on my own, with hope, as I know my mother would want.

Hope. I brought my blog off Facebook, renamed it and I have utterly enjoyed this new journey. Living in LaLa Land and Living and Running in LaLa Land have become my life’s testimony. To encourage others (AND MYSELF) to always find hope in each new day, even if we don’t want to or feel we can. It IS possible. And when you (AND I) realize this, life instantly becomes a happier place.

Slow down and enjoy life … at every opportunity I was given. No regrets. My life is a gift. Every breath I take. Every experience, good or bad, precious. Time spent with the ones I love proved, as always, to be the only real thing that matters. I’m thankful I learned this, although painfully too young, because it has made for a good life. Despite the pain and difficulty, I won’t ever let one moment pass without a heart full of gratitude.

P. R. Despite every physical and emotional setback I faced this year, I somehow managed to run a personal best in every race level I ran. 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon. I far exceeded my own expectations by placing 2nd in my age division at the 5K. All of this completely humbling to me because I didn’t do any of it on my own. Love achieved all of this … and I am forever grateful for those who stood by me. My family and friends who believed in me even when I no longer believed in myself. The cheerleaders in my life who kept cheering me on when my joy for running turned to an daunting task. They believed I could make the comeback … and I am so very thankful that they did.

Quality versus quantity. I chose quality in all that I did. Quality time spent with people. Quality experiences. Quality conversations. Quality relationships. Quality in my training. Quality in the races I chose. Quality in my performance in whatever roll I found myself in. I took nothing for granted. Moments mattered even more. Life quality perfected … as it always should be.

So there you have it, my 2014 in a nutshell. Thank you all for sharing it with me❤️

Well, I hope that 2015 brings you all a multitude of joy and success in everything that you do!!!

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