Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is it crossing a line?

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned it before, but one of my classes this semester is an Intro to Eastern Religions, and one of the assignments this semester is to record our personal spiritual thoughts and journey in a creative and meaningful way.  Naturally for me, it seemed obvious that I would just choose to blog about it, as the whole thing just feels like one big exercise in self-experimentation, which was the point of this blog for me in the first place... a space where I could share my self-experiments.

I told Ammon about this assignment not that long ago.  I could have sworn that I had mentioned it to him sooner, but if I had, I didn't really explain it well to him, because when I brought it up to him this time, he seemed to grow very annoyed at the instructor for assigning something like this in the first place.  And I totally see his point:  I attend a public, state funded community college.  To ask students to talk about their personal religious experiences, and then be graded on it seems... like it's in a gray area of what could be considered acceptable.  I don't mind taking religions classes, because I find the scholarly study of religion to be fascinating.  I love finding out about what people believe in, and how that affects the way they live their lives.

I never expect that in a religion class, that microscope will be turned back on me, and I will have to share the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that I am bringing to the table.  I don't like sharing my personal story of my ups and downs with faith and religion.  It feels too intimate, too stripped bare for the whole world to see and judge.  I study religion outside of school to help me understand people better, and to help me understand myself better.  I look for myself, and my heart in religions, and sometimes I can see it there, and other times I can't.  I study religion in school because it's required.  I am transferring to a private Catholic University in January, and they require 12 credits of religious studies.  It feels like my two worlds are colliding, and I'm not entirely certain about this convergence.

I am trying to keep an open mind about this experiment.  Until Ammon brought up his concerns, I wasn't thinking too deeply about the parts of this experiment that would challenge me, or make me uncomfortable.  I just thought about the fact that maybe I could start to organize and clarify my own position on faith.  Every time I think I have it figured out, it changes.  That's okay, I think.  It means that I'm changing too.  Change is good, right?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adorable running tan lines, and the run that owned me

Quite simply put, my run yesterday owned me.  It owned me hard.

If you can't tell, I had to sit down in my car just to take a picture of my feet after it was over (because obviously, it's the only logical thing to do).  I mean... you would think that bending at the waist would not be a big deal, but oh gosh, it is right now.  It so is.  Also, a fun fact:  I have a tan line this year that starts just below my knees, and ends on my upper thighs from wearing compression socks and running shorts on my long runs.  It's adorable.

Here's the thing that nobody tells you about "running" 18 miles.  It's just straight up hard.  Your body starts feeling each and every step you take, you've been running for hours on end at that point, and you are just ready for it to be DONE.  However, you also learn a lot of valuable lessons when you run that far:

I ran out of water 3.5 miles from the end, right as it got crazy hot outside.  I could go back a half mile to a water fountain, but that would have meant adding an extra mile to my run.  I decided it wasn't worth it, and that  would trek on.  Looking back, it was a poor decision, but I'm glad to be learning now that I will need a TON of fluid between miles 12 and 20. 

I also learned that I need to adjust my fueling based on my running time, and not take fuel at certain distance intervals.  I ended up under-fueled on my run, because I was running a lot slower, but taking in fuel according to my distance traveled.  Another hard lesson learned.

I remembered that there is no shame in walking.  A lot.  Sometimes, your body just needs the break so that it can get back in the swing of things a few minutes later.  And it beats the alternative of being curled up on the sidewalk, because you tried to be the tough lady, and pushed beyond the limits of safety.

I also experimented with using Honeystinger waffles as fuel, and had some darn good results.  They aren't as sweet as chews and gels, which is really super awesome, as that much pure sugar can really get tough to bear.  I'm going to keep working with them, and hope that they will continue to be incredible.

I got to remember how awesomely comfortable it is to lay on the floor.  I refuse to lay on my bed or the couch when I am that sweaty/disgusting.
I learned that I am capable of running too hard at a half marathon, and then turning around 6 days later and finishing 18 miles.  HOWEVER, I learned that this is probably not the best idea for people not accustomed to these type of back to back long runs.

I learned that REI employees are extremely understanding when you are standing in their store a few hours post run, and you can't find something that is right in front of you.  And that they will also be very encouraging when they find out how far you just ran, and that you have an upcoming marathon.  They praised me for being upright and walking without assistance.

I learned that glacial is an actual walking speed that I am capable of acheiving.

Did you learn anything interesting about yourself this weekend?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Slowing it down

I slowed down yesterday.  Way down.

Well, not in everything.  In running, really, but it felt like a huge deal to do so.  I'm in that place where I see other runners who are much faster than me, and it is hard to swallow the notion that I might never be a 7 min/mile runner.  That is so far from the realm of my realities right now, and thinking about it really brings me down.  It drives me to push too hard in my training, and to be "let down" by runs that aren't quite as fast as others.  I just want to be good at sports, dang it.

This is what happens when a tired, burned out wanna be marathon runner just can't take it anymore.  The selfies get EXTRA fun.  But this is a great demonstration of what I do after I run too hard. I collapse sideways on the bed and refuse to move for anything less than donuts.

So, all of that to say, it is hard for me to just go slow and enjoy my running journey as it is right now.  I'm an almost 30 year old who took up running, because that's what all the other bloggers were doing 2 years ago, and I had a dream of being a triathlete.  I accidentally grew to like, and maybe almost love running, even though it doesn't always seem to love me back.  It's now time to accept that there is nothing wrong with running slower than everyone and their 90 year old great aunt Betty.  So what if I don't get a sub-5 hour finish at Denver Rock 'n' Roll???  I'm pretty sure that nobody at the finish line is going to start pointing and laughing at the slow chick who is plodding her tired booty towards that finish line.  And even if I were to have the worst day ever, and get swept when the course time limit is met, well, I will have tried my best.

So I slowed down my running pace.  You know what?  It felt amazing.  I finished my run feeling better than I have in weeks, which is shocking, since it was my recovery run after a half marathon that I pushed myself way too hard in.  I keep trying to make my race paces my training pace, and that doesn't seem to be working so well for me, but darn it if I don't really just want it that badly.  The amazing thing is, that when I slowed it all down, and just let my body do its thing SLOWLY, I found those things that had been missing from my runs lately.  The joy, the clarity, the peace, all came flowing back in, almost as if they'd been there all along, just waiting for me to slow down enough to grasp them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oh, I have a blog???

It seems like an awful lot of work to blog lately.  I mean, I have to open a browser window, and then type?  And add pictures?  This is crazy, and obviously too much for me lately.
However, one of my classes this semester is on Eastern Religions, and the instructor wants us to document our own spiritual journeys in a personal, meaningful way.  Writing a blog about it was one of the main options, and I pretty much decided that since I 1) already have a blog, and 2) have a blog that is sort of close enough to that specific topic, I would kill two birds with one stone.
Poor birds.  Cheep cheep. 

Some thoughts on life lately, then.  It's been moving too dang fast, and I haven't taken enough moments to stop and take everything in, just as it is right at that moment.  We got to go out to one of Ammon's favorite places in the whole world on Saturday, and I was reminded that I am moving too fast.  I'm not soaking it all in and appreciating the good that is all around us.  It takes the perfect sunbeams that would make Thomas Kincaid weep in order to remind me that slowing down, even stopping isn't counter-productive, it's soul enriching.

Adventures add so much to life.  Cajoling my mom into going stand-up paddle boarding with me was a highlight of my summer.  Neither of us was very good at it, and it was a serious challenge, but we had a lot of fun, and did something we don't normally do.

When in doubt, the answer is always more donuts.  Ammon mentioned donuts on Sunday when we were on our way to lunch, but then would not buy me any.  After my half marathon yesterday, I bought some dang donuts.  It was an outstanding decision.

Also, it's the first business day of the month, which means that it's rent time.  Good thing I'm keeping this short and sweet (hence the donut picture).  What are your current thoughts?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Being happy for others

I had a dream about one of my sorority sisters the other night.  It was a sister that I was relatively close to when we were in the house.  We rode on bike team together, and she was my "older" Diamond sister.  "Older" only because she joined as a freshman, and I joined as a sophomore, because we were in the same grade.  I wish I could say that we were closer... we just never clicked that way.  But she is a good person, and I do still care about her, and so after having a dream about her, I decided that now, 7 years since we've had a real conversation, would be a good time to reach out.  Sure, we've interacted a tiny bit on Facebook, and we're connected on LinkedIn (are you on LinkedIn?  I'm kind of obsessed right now with it), but I haven't asked her how she's doing in 7 years or so.

A throwback pho-to.

The funniest thing happened too.  She told me how she was doing, and when she bragged about how awesome and amazing her life is, talking about having absolutely everything I have been pushing forward to find in life, I only felt jealous for a minute before I was over the moon happy for her that she is at such an outstanding place in her life.

A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to feel that way.  I would have been overcome by that jealousy.  I would have responded politely and then gone about my business for another 7 years or so.  I mean, she's throwing in my face everything that I don't have!  It's like she knows that she has it better than me or something!

...She doesn't have anything better than me.  She has a great job that she loves with room for advancement.  So do I.  Not only that, I'm still in school for my new career, and I have further to grow.  She has a husband she loves, and who thinks the world of her.  Me too.  And between us, mine is much more handsome.  She has an adorable little boy who she thinks is the smartest, cutest little boy in the entire world.  I get a full night's sleep every single night, because I don't have to wake up with a little one.  And when my baby comes, like my husband, it's gonna be cuter than hers, because they are mine.

This little life of mine, however imperfect it is, is a great, beautiful, spectacular Kristen Lehnig life.  And it deserves to be cherished as such.  And her life is a great, beautiful, spectacular life too.  Yes, I want some of the things that she has for myself, but overall, I couldn't trade this life, or my journey for the world.  Instead, I'm just going to keep on with my life, and do the best to celebrate the lives of those around me too.

What can we all celebrate you for today?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Nothing of importance

I don't really know what to talk about today, but not because I have nothing to say... more because I have too much to say, and it is all word vomit on top of word vomit.  I feel like if I start talking about one thing, a volcano of something else is going to spew all over it.  Maybe I should try, though.  Yes?  Sure.

1)  Running has been all about embracing the suck lately.  It's been hot, and humid, and I feel tired almost every time I go for a run.  Nothing feels truly good or natural about it, but I'm pressing onward, simply continuing to seek that golden zone that I was in during half marathon training where running felt magical and incredible.  I just keep telling myself that these runs are engaging my mental toughness, and my ability to persevere.

I'm obviously smiling because I'm done.  Not because my 7 mile run on Sunday inspired joy and happiness in my life.

2)  I have had an awesome blog post bopping around in my head for weeks now about how runners are exactly like small children.  I really should write that dang post, it has all of the makings of being funny.  But I'm concerned that I haven't been a funny person (in my writing) lately, and I've forgotten how.

3)  Along those lines, I haven't felt like myself for the last year or so.  I feel like the crisis mode version of myself... all the time.  Just going from one big thing to the next, without taking the time to find joy, or be happy... let alone live a Radiant life.  I feel like a phony.  Like I should be bigger, better, more somehow than what I've been recently.  It makes me sad, because I don't know how to get back to that place.  Life doesn't appear to be slowing down, and I'm not sure that the problems that started to bring me down in the first place are ever going to go away.  It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of action to become that person again, and I'm honestly terrified of the entire prospect.  I do, however, know that the way I am living right now is not good enough, and that I deserve more than this.  My family deserves better from me.

4)  We are nesting!  After getting all of our junk moved out of the old place, we totally stalled out on getting everything unpacked and set up over here.  We definitely made progress with that over the weekend; We moved the curio cabinets into the house from the garage, we got the dining room table and chairs repaired and set up, I think Ammon unpacked some other stuff, and then he putzed around in his new "shop" for the rest of the weekend.  Oh!  And he re-wired a lamp, and got our hand me down lawnmower running.  He was in beastmode this weekend.
To reward all of Ammon's accomplishments, I made homemade pizza, and it was our first meal on our table in its new home.  He remarked on how fancy it was, so I had to break out the candlesticks and take the drama up a notch.  You can see the curios behind him, because we live in a "cozy" little home.  Also, boxes, because when I say we got back into it this weekend, I mean it's still just the tip of the iceberg... still so much to tackle.

5)  While he did everything and more, I did exercisey things, grocery shopped, and cooked/prepped a mountain of food.  And I tried to read some blogs, but at this point, it's pretty much a losing battle to read blogs, I'm so behind.  Oh well.

6)  School starts again tomorrow.  Eeep.  This is my last semester at the local community college before I transfer to a 4 year university in January.  It feels sort of like I just started working on my Accounting degree, but it also feels like I have been working on this forever.  I'm just ready to be a big girl Accountant already.

Well... OINTB is on, and that feels important right now.  So I'm going to leave off.  Have an outstanding day!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My rules

For my birthday, my co-workers got me one of the most thoughtful gifts that I have ever received.  They got me a cute display box full of cards with over 200 different sayings on them.  A literal box of positive inspiration.

It sits right on the base of my computer monitor, wowing me with wisdom for 8+ hours a day, 5 days a week.

And because I'm "that girl", I constantly find myself taking pictures of different quotes, and sending them to people, or wanting to put them on Instagram, because I feel like it is something that the people around me would also benefit from remembering every now and then.  Yesterday, I walked into work, and decided I was ready for a new quote.  Sometimes they last a day, sometimes a week, but I always seek to keep it relevant to where I am at in my life.  And really, the quote I pulled yesterday... it is all about being who you want to be, and that is awesome.  Do you want to know what it was?

Your Life.

Your Rules.

That's it.  I forget that a lot.  That in my life, I get to set the rules, and determine who is granted what power over me.  Even at work, I choose to work in an environment where I have a certain boss, or certain co-workers.  I choose to live in a Country with certain leaders, and a given set of moral standards.  These are my CHOICES.  They weren't things that "happened" to me, they were things that I decided upon, either through apathy, or through deliberate decision.  And if I don't like things, I also have a choice.  A choice to change the rules, and to find a way around.

It was heavy stuff for a Monday morning, I promise you that.  But it was the heavy stuff that my heart needed to remember.  Sometimes it's easy to get stuck in this idea that I "ended up" somewhere, or "it came out of nowhere".  That isn't entirely the case.  In the end, I put myself into a situation where life can happen, and it does.  That's not a bad thing, it's just a thing.  It's when I quit taking ownership of my choices that things tend to get bad.

So today, the thing is to live with a little bit more intention for my choices.  3% more.  And 3% more the next day.  Until someday, maybe, I'll be aware of how the small choices I make are creating the rules that shape my life.