My 300th post! — Running naked

My fellow runners know what I’m talking about… no music, no Garmin (or other fancy schmancy GPS device)… just you and your footfalls. And the sunrise, or sunset, or busy street, or quiet desert. I’m starting to change my attitude towards running. I trained consistently for distance races for about a year, from a 5K to my first marathon. Since that day last April, my desire to train for a specific time goal pretty much went out the window.

Then we moved to the desert, and also to an elevation of 4000 ft above sea level, compared to Peoria’s 700ish. Running became a chore, and I was frustrated.  Thankfully I pulled myself out of that black hole.

Now I want to run just…. because. Because it makes me feel good. Because it helps me keep up with my husband. Because of how I feel after I’ve completed a race. Because of what it does for me… spiritually, physically and mentally. Friends, there’s no drug like endorphins.

I ran an easy two-miler on Tuesday morning before the sun was even up. It was mostly dark out, no cars on the road besides someone leaving for work, and all I heard was my breathing and feet hitting the ground. I concentrated on my breathing and on my form (slowly incorporating my NB Minimus!). I don’t even know if it was exactly 2 miles.

This morning I dropped Aaron off for work at about 7:30, clad in my Texas “winter” gear (no earband or gloves! holllaaaaa!), and I took off on the cinder trail around his company. The loop I ran is one we’ve run before together. The first time I ran it by myself, it was during afternoon PT time and I was so intimidated! I didn’t even see many soldiers around, and it wasn’t blocked off to civilians or anything, but I just felt so intimidated. Biggs Army Airfield is so spread out on the east side that it seems like in some parts you’re running literally in the middle of the desert and mountains… tumbleweeds and all. I mean, my view wouldn’t make Runner’s World “Rave Run”, but it’s pretty in its own way.

Today I ran about six miles in my Brooks and felt great. The first two were a warm-up, and my body and mind were screaming at me. It was windy and chilly, but I knew with the sun it would warm up fast. By the second time I ran the loop (it’s about 3 miles) I was feeling like I hit my stride. I did run with music, but without the Garmin. That was such a liberating feeling! Too often I’m a slave to my pace and distance and it distracts me from performing my best. The Garmin is a great tool for interval training or tempo runs, but I hardly do any of those outside. It took me about 56 minutes to run about 6 miles.

Both days I’ve run this week, I’ve felt energized and pleased instead of disappointed. I’ve felt ready to face the day instead of groggy in mind and spirit. I don’t feel guilty enjoying certain foods because I know I’m putting in the work before I indulge.

I don’t know how many races I’ll do this year. I don’t even know if I’ll do a marathon (though there’s one on post in November), but I do know that my blog title is more relevant than ever. I can’t wait to go “home” and run some of my typical routes… Prospect, Grandview, Mt. Hawley, Coal Miner’s Park. I think running with those memories will let me see how far I’ve come.

Like a boss

yep.

This week I had a breakthrough at work. Today was my first “good” day in a long time. Not “okay” or “not bad” but “good”. I think with all the change and uncertainty surrounding our cross-country move and finances, I’ve been on edge. Life changes take some getting used to, but this one’s been six months in the making. I’ve complained about how I don’t make what I really should for the responsibility that I have and blah blah blahhhh. I’ve whined about how expensive it is to certify in Texas and how there are no teaching jobs. The latter is not entirely true; they’re just few and far between. A couple times a week we have a displaced teacher come to us looking for a tutoring job. I wish we could hire everyone. Anyway.

I started teacher observations this week. I mean, I’ve been informally observing for some time now. From the hours of 9 to 3:30, I’m in my office or running around getting things done, usually with only one other person there. Once 4 o’clock comes around, I want to interact with people, be with the kids, see how they’re doing with their lessons. But this week I actually had a form to fill out and I’ll have to talk with each teacher about his/her evaluation.

It’s not like the evaluations determine a pay raise. (There are none in the works for anyone right now as far as I know.) It’s not like this is something that will follow my employees (yes, my, weird) forever, but it’s my first experience carrying out this sort of responsibility. I know I’m a good teacher and that I possess a lot of knowledge about pedagogy (I’m a natural! ;)) but it’s intimidating to evaluate a teacher who taught for 20-some-odd years in the classroom and is now tutoring because they feel like it and have nothing better to do.

I realized that regardless of what I’m getting paid, or not paid, to do my job for about thirty hours a week, my job is important. I have right now about 50 kids and sets of parents who are affected by my day-to-day decisions. I make no less decisions now than when I was teaching full-time. Regardless of what I’m getting paid, this “supervisory” experience will be fantastic on my resume.

This is a completely new avenue for me, being a “boss”. I hate hate hate the stereotypes and cringing that term conjures up. Bill Lumberg. Michael Scott. Darth Vader. But, it’s about time I accept this role and decide what I’m going to do with the influence I have.

I get to train teachers. I get to meet and work with all kinds of families who have one goal: to help their children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews succeed in school and in life. Build confidence. Encourage creativity. I believe in our programs (though they’re expensive.. wish we had scholarships or grants or something), but more importantly, I believe in compassionate comprehensive education.

While I’m looking forward to (hopefully) starting grad school in the fall, I’m actually enjoying my experience now. I’m done complaining (for the most part), done whining (for the most part), done pining for a teaching job (for the most part), done begrudging the early Saturday mornings (for the most part) and instead focusing on using my God-given talents and brains to the best of my ability.

God honors excellence and excellence honors God.

Like a boss.

Being a servant

I look at my recent posts and I’m surprised, and not surprised, that I’ve posted about once a week. What is that?! Usually I have a lot more to say.

But as it stands, I’ve been learning a big lesson on how to be a servant. I can thank my current job for that.

I know I’ve been called to my job right now for a reason. I know positive changes are being made. But the only way to gain real respect and trust is to be a servant. I try to compliment “my” teachers (I say “my”, since I’m kind of a boss… or something.) If someone shows frustration, I try to get to the bottom of it and fix the problem.

Pastor Lee’s sermons recently from The Sermon on the Mount really have me thinking about what it’s like to be a servant.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Matthew 5:9

As a peacemaker, amateur as I may be, I’m supposed to be bringing God’s peace into situations, and living it out in my life. I should not sacrifice integrity for peacemaking, but I think I’m good at not doing that. I’m the kind of person where if I know I’ve wronged someone, or even think I might have wronged someone, I have to make it right otherwise I can’t sleep at night. (I didn’t always used to be like this! Ask my family…)

At work I’ve really been focusing on having a good attitude, not getting stressed over anything, even if it’s big, and being consistent. I think the last thing there is key to gaining respect… being consistent. People can then see my commitment, that I’m all in.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I was jumping up and down when I was offered this promotion. In fact, my heart sank. But I know I’m there for a reason, and slowly things are improving. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to use my God-given gift of teaching… I have been dealing quite a lot with educational issues. I’ve also been able to continue teaching some students. And I can guarantee you that when I have my own classroom again, I won’t be nervous to talk to parents!

On a different note, if you want your faith to be stretched, your soul to be refined, or you want to learn how to be a servant… get married. Aaron and I have been doing very well lately with communication. In the midst of things happening in marriages around us, we are thankful for what we have. Couple that with being apart for two years (five total in our relationship) and you have a strong bond! I get emotional with him, he gets impatient with me, but we work through it and talk it out. Communicating our fears and weaknesses is one of the hardest things to do, I think.

And I don’t mean that when you get married you become that person’s slave. You serve them with your attitude, your listening abilities, your willingness to work through things, your blatant refusal to be selfish. If you want to add in some dishes or laundry, you can do that too. 🙂 In a true relationship of mutual servanthood, it won’t go unnoticed.

It will flood into other areas of your life, too. Before you know it, you’re being a servant to your friends and family… by praying for them, listening to them, offering a shoulder to cry on or a sounding board for venting… it’s pretty cool how it all works out!

I just love the Beatitudes… (and I did not know this but Wikipedia taught me that “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means blissful, happy, or fortunate.)

Matthew 5

 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
4 Blessed are those who mourn, 
   for they will be comforted. 
5 Blessed are the meek, 
   for they will inherit the earth. 
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
   for they will be filled. 
7 Blessed are the merciful, 
   for they will be shown mercy. 
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 
   for they will see God. 
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 
   for they will be called children of God. 
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,

for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

So, here’s the deal.

I’m learning a lesson. A big one. And it’s calllllled…..

CONTENTMENT.

Sigh. This is probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in awhile… and I’m actually relearning it, just in a different area of life. Last time I learned it was last summer when Aaron gallivanted off to Korea and the Army just.. left me here. So, I became content in my jobs, and living alone, and taking care of, well, everything. And I did it well.

Now the tables have turned a little bit. I have my husband with me, every day, every night and that in itself is pretty amazing. I mean, have you tried living the same zip code, much less the same house with your spouse before?? It rocks. I love that we can eat meals together almost all the time, and workout together, and all those other married things. Just sayin’…

But then there’s this part of me, that’s actually a really big part of me, that I can’t shake. It’s the part of Elizabeth that seems to only be happy when she has a title outside of “Wife” and is bringing home some bacon. Heck, it doesn’t need to be a lot of bacon, but some. And she also has to be doing something creative or worthwhile, preferably something that has to do with what she paid $50,000 to learn about… She has to be productive about 110% of the time, or otherwise feels like a failure.

I’ve had my ups and downs over the past couple weeks. Guess what? The grass isn’t any greener down here. I’ve felt guilty for racking up all this debt in a freaking private university education just to sweep the floor or wash a few dishes. I should be out there in the world, making money to pay off my debt.

However, my husband is the greatest gift ever. He doesn’t see it that way at all, and he encourages me to do whatever I want. If I work, fine. If not, fine. He reminds me daily that we worked hard to be able to live (not just survive) on one income… I have to remember that. WE worked hard. We BOTH worked hard. When we got married, everything became ours,  even our debt.

I had an interview earlier this week for a job I was actually on the fence about. I didn’t get it, and I was honestly a little relieved. It just didn’t feel right. Last night I filled out some more applications, including Sylvan, Starbucks and other jobs at a school district (clerical and aide jobs). I don’t feel an overwhelming need to teach full-time and have my own classroom, but I do feel a need to teach in some capacity. It is what I was made to do, I believe.

Aaron asked me if I could do anything, what would I do? I said that I would be a mom; however, I know it’s not the proper time yet.

Today I got a call from Sylvan. I have an interview tomorrow, and I would love to work for them again. The schedule is flexible and part-time if I want it to be.

A few things keep going through my head…

“God delights in exalting our inability.” ~David Platt

“God equips the called.” (Not sure who said it.)

The book of Ecclesiates… that all the toil under the sun is meaningless.. what really matters in eternity?

The thing is, I have to learn this lesson soon. I can’t move forward in life until I can be content with what I have right now. Life is too short, people are too precious, the weight of eternity is too great, for me to be whining about a perceived problem that I’ve created all on my own. So, here it is: No More Pity Parties for Elizabeth. I’m really really rreeaallllyyy gonna try. And pray. Maybe you should check in on my husband at some point soon…

Who knows what I will do in El Paso, but I do know one thing. At my funeral, my loved ones aren’t going to be standing around telling each other about that one time I didn’t work full-time and make such-and-such salary. They will talk about what kind of person I was.. my character, how I treated people, how I loved Jesus, how I nurtured my children and served my husband. Those are the things that matter.

>Not sure what’s out there…

>…for me in Texas, but it’s all gonna be happening prettttty soon.

Within a week I’ll have my husband back.

Two weeks from tomorrow the movers come.

Three weeks from yesterday we say goodbye to Illinois.

The stress of moving fell upon me last night after I got back from St. Louis. It was definitely a reality check. So, like I always do, I made a list of everything that needs to be done…

  • schedule appointment to repair rock chips in windshield (USAA will be billed directly for this! LOVE this insurance company/bank)
  • schedule oil change
  • call lodging and reserve a room at Bliss
  • get hair done (duh! essential before hubby arrives!)
  • get cash envelopes ready (we got most of our travel money advanced to us.. thank you random finance person in Korea for doing your job)
  • schedule vet appointment for Luthor
  • pack bag for Chicago next week
  • make list of food to take to Chicago (yes, “making list” is on my… list)

I normally don’t make posts like this, but I’m a little overwhelmed. I’ve emailed some properties in Texas, but I can’t schedule an appointment to see places until we’re down there. Who knows what will be available in three weeks’ time.

No idea where we’ll live… no idea where I’ll work… there are only a few certain things. Here’s another list…

  • We are indeed moving to Texas. Though I’ve heard of orders changing en route. Lord, spare me.
  • I will be with Aaron. Every night. For a long time. 
  • I will miss my friends.
  • I will miss my family.
  • I will miss my church family.
  • I will love the heat, seriously.
  • I will love getting settled in our new place and decorating it.
  • I will love our road trip… just us + kitteh. I love driving around with Aaron.

Things are already beginning to work out…