Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tough Decisions

Our lives are constantly filled with decisions that we need to make, some big, some small, some far reaching, some private. Some are easy ones to make...others require hours, days, even weeks of analyzing, deliberating, praying, and soul searching.

I've recently had to make such a decision. For over 2 years I served on our neighborhood's Board of Directors, an exciting position in the beginning, one I enjoyed as it offered me an outlet for some creativity (I started the website) and the ability to help out friends and neighbors by making our neighborhood even better. I knew there would be some uncomfortable tasks, and there were. But unfortunately there were also many things that we simply couldn't anticipate, particularly because it's a relatively new neighborhood, and these things consumed huge amounts of time, caused a lot of stress, and had implications beyond what we expected. It just wasn't too much fun. However, I made a commitment to serve until November of 2011.

There have been many, many times I've wanted to resign. To say being on an HOA Board is a thankless job is an understatement. People feel they can cut you down, insult you, and spew incorrect information without any thought to how it makes one feel. I've put up with a lot of crap the last 2+ years, but because I wanted to keep my integrity I refused to quit. Some people in particular felt like it was their life's calling to disagree with pretty much anything the Board said or wanted to do. Do you have any idea how hard it is to try to be fair, calm, and professional when all you want to do is tell someone to go to Hell and not come back?

Although the insults seem to have waned in the last several months, the job hasn't gotten easier. It's taken up a lot of my time and just wasn't filled with fun tasks. There were so many things we wanted to be able to do, but due to several different circumstances we just haven't been able to. Instead our time seemed to be filled with fixing problems, and not moving forward.

The last week has been particularly difficult. I was finding myself having to make some tough decisions but completely paralyzed from doing so. I felt I was put into some difficult circumstances and no matter what my decision was it wasn't going to be the "right" decision. It was heartbreaking to me that my emotions were getting the better of me, that the stress was overtaking my life and subsequently sucking the joy out of each day.

My family is the most important thing to me...but Mama wasn't happy. And when Mama isn't happy, it's hard to give the right amount of focus to the family and to truly give my husband and my kids what they deserved.

So I had a decision to make. Stick it out for 4 more months and commit to something that would take up hours upon hours of my time each week and certainly not be easy....OR I could resign, to hang my hat up for good and move on. It may on the surface seem like a very easy decision to make but it wasn't. I had two other board members to think about, people I had developed a friendship with, and I had my integrity to consider. Was I "giving up" or did I truly give it my best shot? Was I reneging on a commitment or doing what was best for everyone?

In the course of all this angst, we got some potentially bad news on Wednesday that Greg's job was in jeopardy because of company-wide layoffs. This is the first time he'd ever felt like he might be laid off in his 12 years with his company. Something his boss said just gave him a sinking feeling. He's a valuable employee and a true asset to his company, but if your position is eliminated there's really not much you can do but move on. To say this was even more stress-inducing is an understatement. I knew we'd be okay, that it could be a blessing in disguise, but the unknown was just overwhelming to me.

I did a lot of praying and entirely too much thinking over the course of a few days. To be frank, I was just plain miserable. I cried. I was exhausted. But then on Sunday, I had a moment of clarity. I realized I just couldn't do it anymore. I had other things that needed my focus, namely my family. Ultimately they are what I live for. A volunteer position is just that - a VOLUNTEER position. I had volunteered my time, I had served, but I had no true obligation to continue if it wasn't what I really wanted to focus my energy on.

What I DID want to do was to be with my family, to have a clear mind and clear heart, to spend my time doing things that brought me joy, to be SELFISH with my time for once. The only way I could do that was to give up my position, no matter what that could mean for others. I had to start thinking of myself and to stop being a martyr because I thought I was doing what was "right." Taking time away from my family was not what was right at all, however.

Once I hit the "send" button on my resignation email, I immediately felt so much better. A huge weight was suddenly off my shoulders. I felt free to give back to my family and to my husband. It was the right decision.

If there is something in your life that isn't what you want it to be, then see if you can change it. If it's something that you can let go, then maybe that's what you should do. There is no joy in life when we wake up everyday dreading what we need to do. There is no joy when we don't feel good about the tasks ahead of us. We must put ourselves and our loved ones first and foremost on our priority list. I want to be a good wife, a good mom, and a positive influence to others. I can't do that when I'm crying and tearing my hair out.

Yep, I feel better now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Ever since I started running I have hated the idea of treadmills.  Why run on a treadmill in a gym if you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors that God gave us?  The trails around my house and neighborhood are peaceful, wonderful, relatively flat, and span several miles. The streets in the neighborhood offer countless different routes and a guarantee you'll see someone you know while on your run. There's really nothing NOT to love.


If you have ever been in Texas in the summer, you know it's pretty much like Hell on Earth. Even at 5am the humidity will hover at over 85% and the temp rarely dips below 75 degrees. It doesn't sound bad temperature-wise until you get about a mile into your run and realize you can't breathe and that's sweat dripping off your elbow.  It's enough to make even a hardcore runner take pause and realize it doesn't feel good at all. Sure, a runner can slog through it and get those miles in, but is it enjoyable?

Two years ago I signed Greg and I up for the Napa-to-Sonoma Half Marathon, which would take place in mid-July.  Temperatures at the race would probably be in the 50s and 60s, humidity hit or miss. Scenery: spectacular. Wine at the finish. A race meant for me and Greg to run together. Something I didn't really think too much about was TRAINING for said race. Training up until July in Texas. Doing a 12 mile run in 80 degrees, plus countless runs over 8 miles leading up to that. To put it bluntly, it was miserable. The race itself was pretty great, but I vowed that would be the last summertime half marathon I would ever train for in the hot Texas summer.

Last year I had a bout of exhaustion that derailed any quality summertime running. I struggled every time I was out there. I pretty much maxed out at 4 miles and it simply was not enjoyable for me at all.  I was typically running at a 9:45 pace or slower, whereas my usual training pace is 9:15-9:30.  I was dejected that I was getting slower and struggling so much.  My marathon training season pace really wasn't much better, although I was able to enjoy some cooler and more comfortable, albeit slower than usual, runs during the fall and winter.

I knew I needed to make a change this season if I wanted to maintain my running shape.  I had no choice but to embrace the dreaded TREADMILL, or as my running friends like to call it, THE DREADMILL.  *cue foreboding music here*

Up until my first day in my gym my longest treadmill run was 4 miles, plus I had done a 5 mile run with a walking break at 3.  I jumped right into my new routine, however, and was consistently posting 4 and 5 mile runs, and even a 10K, within the first month at the gym.  I do strength training and core work before my treadmill runs so I'm already slightly fatigued before I even start.  If someone, especially a dude, hops on the treadmill next to me, I usually crank up the speed and push myself more than usual.  After I missed a 10k race because of traffic, I immediately headed to the gym and got my frustrations out on the treadmill. I posted a 44-minute 5 mile run, which is almost my 10k race pace. I do speed interval workouts consistently so I can continue to push my pace. I'm running harder, faster, more efficiently, and I'm not dreading every single run.  I get to watch young buff dudes people during their workouts, or read the headlines on the TVs set up in front of the cardio equipment. I can sleep in later and not worry about how hot and sunny it's getting outside. If I want to run at 11am I can, when it's 95 degrees outside.

Today I posted my very first 10 mile non-stop treadmill run.  Well, almost non-stop.  You see, the treadmills at our gym max out at 60 minutes, so when that session was up (at 6.3 miles), I paused, took my shirt off (it gets warm in our gym! I still sweat a lot), reset the 'mill for another 3.7 miles and continued on my quest for double-digits.  I ran it in 1:34, which is 9:25 pace.  Last week I did 5 miles, then strength training, then another 5 miles for a total running time of 1:33, a 9:18 pace.  It's a huge difference from how I felt running long runs last year.

Last week Greg and I did a couple of short runs outside during late morning. I'm running a 5K on September 5 and a half marathon on October 9 so I do need to stay slightly acclimated to outdoor running.  It was already very hot when we started, but I just ran with what felt comfortable.  I rarely looked at my Garmin to check my pace, but when I did I was consistently seeing sub-9 minute pace, and it felt easy.  During the last mile of one of the runs, when I was definitely feeling the heat, I ended up running FASTER.  I absolutely attribute it to my treadmill runs.

Color me shocked....I AM LOVING THE TREADMILL.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I won! I won!!

One cool thing about getting into tweeting and blogging is finding those totally awesome friends who host giveaways on their blogs (although the best part is just finding great people who are supportive, inspirational, and completely fabulous). For example, my friend Tricia is always giving away awesome running stuff on her blog, Endurance Isn't Only Physical, and I've entered a couple of them...along with a billion other folks because Tricia is one popular chickie. She recently hosted a giveway for a medal display.  Greg and I have been talking about how we really need to get some kind of medal holder because we now have 13 total between the two of us.  It's getting kind of obnoxious how we're displaying them.

When Tricia announced her Allied Medal Display giveaway I got super excited...not only because I could get a great solution for FREE, but because the displays are exactly what I'm looking for.  I'll be adding at least 4 more medals to my collection in the next 8 months so I needed a display that was going to hold what I already had with room to add more. 

And you know what???  I WON!!!!  Here's the display I plan to order:

Pretty awesome, don't you think?  Thanks Tricia and thanks Allied Medal Displays!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Which is worse? Watching The Bachelorette or getting shot in the head?

I will admit that I'm kind of a Bachelor junkie.  I've watched most seasons of both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, but do tend to skip the seasons of the people who just completely annoy the crap out of me. Take, for example, Bachelorette #6, Ali Fedotowsky.  She's a pretty girl, but let's face it. She's ANNOYING. That little whine of hers? Holy cow, it makes me want to scream. When she whined and carried on when she had to leave during Jake's Bachelor season, I literally threw things at the TV. ABC then did the unthinkable - they cast her as the next Bachelorette. That was going to be one season I avoided. Weeks and weeks of non-stop Ali whining was not my cup of tea.

* side note - Greg made the mistake of turning it on during week 3 or 4 and we subsequently got totally sucked into it...of course. That may have had a lot to do with the beefcake on her season. Just saying.

ABC did it again. They cast the most annoying girl of Brad Womack's Bachelor season, Ashley Hebert, as the next Bachelorette. Now granted, most of the ladies on Brad's season were pretty awful, but Ashley? Miss Indecisive, Miss "I Can't Communicate"? Would there really be 25 men actually interested enough in her to want to be on the show? She may be perfectly fine in real life (who knows??), but as a TV reality star? Are you flipping kidding me? It stills boggles the mind that Mr. Womack even kept her around as long as he did.

I immediately told Greg that NO! We weren't watching the next season. He didn't listen. He invites people to our house to watch it. I'm forced into it.

So what's my solution? BLOGGING!!  It's most definitely time for me to blog about my irritation. This will not be pretty, I'm sure.

One of the things that bugged the crap out of me about Ashley during Brad's season was that she was so wishy-washy about her feelings for him. When he confronted her about their "future", she didn't exactly get all giddy at the idea that in order to become his wife she'd have to move to Austin. Well, DUH. He owns bars in Austin. It's his life. You can't exactly move that somewhere else, now can you? But to be a dentist? Last I checked there are dentists in every city in America. And her insecurity was off the charts. Did you think you wouldn't be competing with other women on THE FREAKING BACHELOR? Well, there's another big DUH for you.  So instead of getting all freaked out, insecure, bitchy, and annoying, just chill out, enjoy your dates, and take the opportunities as they come for time alone. You got the first one-on-one date, lady....CHILL OUT. She just got worse and worse as the season continued. What a mess.

It was painfully clear that this is one woman who is completely not ready for marriage, sacrifice, compromise, and anything that involves being selfless. To cast her as The Bachelorette certainly makes for dramatic (you knew I'd use that word) reality TV...but not GOOD reality TV, that's for sure.

I don't read up on spoilers, so I have no idea how the season will play out. I'm convinced she ends up with no one. If I'm wrong, don't ruin it for me. While I keep saying I'm not going to finish out this season, Greg has other ideas.  But I still say she ends up with no one.

Before I continue my Ashley-bashing, I will point out a few good things about her. Because, let's face it, I'm not completely insensitive and mean. She is a decently pretty girl and of course she's in shape. Two completely pointless things in the long run. Anyone who bases everything on looks is just asking for disappointment in life. Actually, being in shape is kinda important. It's vital to be healthy and not a couch potato. But I digress. She's cute enough.  She is apparently educated, as she's in the middle of dental school. She will be Dr. Ashley Hebert soon, supposedly, and it's good that she plans to have a rewarding career that will provide future stability for her family. Lastly, she obviously wants to be in a relationship, but I'm not sure if this is good or bad. Desperation breeds disappointment. I'm running out of good things to say. Oh...she has nice teeth.

Now let's start the long list of why Ashley sucks as The Bachelorette and why she is subsequently sucking the joy of watching the show out of every ounce of my being.

1. Worst Judge of Character EVER.

Okay, seriously, Ash, you were WARNED about Bentley. Now, mind you, it was from Michelle Money, the biggest freakshow on Brad's season. But still, YOU WERE WARNED. Had I been in her shoes, I just would've flat out confronted Bentley on Day 1 about what was said about him. If there's one thing I've learned after so many years of watching friends go through bad relationship crap, it's that if there's a warning about someone, IT'S USUALLY TRUE. At least in some capacity. And even if she hadn't been warned about him, Bentley has sleeze written all over him. Compared to some of the other guys on the season, he's a total slimebucket. The guy can't even carry on a meaninful conversation. And he spends entirely too much time on his hair. A guy who spends more time that I do in front of the mirror has got to go. Plus, this is the guy WHO WALKED AWAY! Yes, he told her it was for his daughter (which we all know was BS anyway) but still, HE WALKED AWAY! And left her hanging! If that didn't give her red flags to realize this guy was not worth it, then nothing was going to knock sense into her and her judgement (or lack thereof).

2. Her Inability to Communicate

Watching Ashley and Bentley try to have a conversation is worse than having my fingernails pulled out one by one. Although that's never actually happened to me, I'm pretty sure it would suck worse than anything else ever. That's what it's like trying to sit through two communication-duds trying to get their feelings out. I tried to get Greg to fast forward through their last scene together but he's the remote Nazi and he wouldn't budge. I think he likes me to suffer.

And then there's the scene where she tells all the guys that she saw Bentley in Hong Kong. Really, could she have handled it any worse? "Hi guys, I totally fell for Bentley, and I had unresolved feelings, and I got to see him here in Hong Kong, but he's gone now, and everything is okay, and all you guys are better than him anyway." That's not really how she said it all, but that's the general idea. How easy would it have been to tell them she hadn't been able to shake him, although she was developing strong feelings for them as well, and she felt she needed more closure from him to truly move on and give the guys the attention they deserved. Did she have to mention she completely fell for him? And then to blow it all off like it was no big deal and not even give them an opportunity to say much to her about it. What does she then do? Walks away. Uh....okay. Yeah, that's a good problem solver right there.

Kudos to Mickey for taking off. He finally figured it out.

3. Her ridiculously annoying INSECURITY

Can this woman just get over it already? Insecurity breeds more insecurity. Look in the mirror, find some self-love, stop freaking out over every little thing. Yes, when William roasted her, that sucked, but he was a tool. I would have been pissed off, too, but MOVE ON ALREADY.  Be secure in yourself, realize that you have things to offer, and get to know these guys on your own personal merits. Insecurity is incredibly unattractive. No man wants to spend his life trying to bolster up your sagging ego and reassuring you that you're swell. Talk about exhausting. And a relationship-killer. I've been insecure before and it's stupid. I like myself a lot now. I've been with Greg for 16 years. Yay! I got over it and found success.

4. Her choice of clothing....or lack thereof

Ashley, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: It's not necessary to constantly wear itty bitty little miniskirts and to show your abs in 90% of the scenes. As a matter of fact, it kinda makes you look easy. No, not just kinda. It REALLY makes you look easy. Of course you have a nice body, but why not leave just a little to the imagination?  If you're always having to cross your legs when you sit so the guys aren't looking up your super short skirt, then maybe it's time to put some jeans on instead.  And is it necessary for every dress to be skintight? And every shirt SEE THROUGH? I laughed out loud during the boxing group date when she was parading around in her sports bra. A tank wasn't good enough? seriously?  We know you have good abs, my dear. But if you find it necessary to use your body to attract the guys' attention, then what does that truly say about what you have to offer them?

5. Her lip biting

Okay, so we all have stupid little physical quirks that might be deemed unattractive and annoying to others. But Ashley's lip biting drives me batty. Sometimes it's her lip, sometimes the inside of her cheek, but she constantly does it. Especially when she's on the hot seat by one of the guys. It's like her nervous little tick. And you know what it says to me? That she resorts to it because the girl CAN'T COMMUNICATE!  She has no idea how to get her feelings out in a constructive, meaningful way, so she bites her own face. Add to it her constant use of "uh huh" and you have yourself one irritating chick.

So now that I've shown my mean side in spades by trashing Ashley, what do I think about the guys?  I really have no idea, because I've spend so much time focusing on my annoyance with the Bachelorette that I almost forget that there are worthy guys still on the show. Good looking worthy guys. I will say that I thought I liked Ryan, but if the other guys are that completely annoyed with him, it's likely I'd get fed up pretty quickly, too.  Never mind that he's hot. I do like J.P. and Ben the winemaker. Well, duh, of course I'm going to like the winemaker. Maybe that's what I need to focus on in the next episode. Staring at the guys. Yeah.....