On the edge of thirty-five

There’s been a lot that’s come up in recent months that I haven’t expected to address right now. And lots that I have expected. On the surface, I will be reaching “advanced maternal age” when I turn 35 in April 2021, notwithstanding the fact that I don’t have children over whom to be maternal. They say 35 is just an age… but for a woman, that doesn’t seem to be true. In addition to changes wrought by nature, it brings some existential questions to mind.

My sisters have always told me I’ve been perpetually 35 my whole life. I think they mean that I’ve always been this responsible, mature, get-shit-done sort of person. Now that I’m getting to actually be 35, will I still be “35” in their eyes even after I surpass that age? I think when you hit certain milestone ages, you think about what your predecessors were doing when they were your age. First of all, my mom had a 13-year-old (me) when she was 35. It’s a sober reminder that I’m literally old enough to be the mother of some of my high school students.

Thirty-five is the roundabout age when women begin perimenopause. I read about this recently in the book In the Flo and was floored. It’s one reason I decided to cut out alcohol and make sure I’m keeping my hormones happy and healthy. According to research, what happens in perimenopause determines how awful or how not awful menopause can be. (I’m still reading up on all of this, but from what I can gather so far from hearing family members’ experiences, menopause is either awful or not awful. Change my mind.)

There’s some major cognitive dissonance to address, thinking about my reproductive life in the last third of its reign (though I’m not necessarily complaining…) and also the many years I could potentially live post-menopause. If I become as old as my Nana was when she passed away in August, I could live several decades past menopause (she was 104).

The last thing I want to mention about “35” is that I had a certain vision of future Elizabeth and who she was as a person when I was a wee lass. Thirty-five year old Elizabeth would live a life that encompassed being a mother and a wife. But I think even more than that, past Elizabeth would want to see future-soon-to-be-present Elizabeth have characteristics like integrity, perseverance, healthy mental faculties, emotional strength. Know a lot about a lot of things. Have many interests. Be interested in people. Know how to comfort someone when they’re grieving or sad or upset. Know how to set boundaries and live within them.

Maybe beyond the age of 30 people see the next milestone as 40. But I think there’s something about 35. And I don’t think I’m the only one… John Mellencamp mentioned “17 has turned 35” in one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums, “Cherry Bomb”. (He’s from Indiana, so a fellow Midwesterner. He speaks to my heart.)

“Seventeen has turned thirty-five,
I’m surprised that we’re still livin'”

And when I think of “17” being sung in a song, what else can I think about, who else can I think about besides Stevie Nicks with “Edge of Seventeen”?

“And the days go by
Like a strand in the wind
In the web that is my own
I begin again”

I think both of those ages are precursors to the next phase of one’s life; 17, to young adulthood, and 35 to…. adulthood? (Surely not middle age? But I guess if the median life expectancy in the US is 78, 35 is pretty much middle age…)

What’s classic about the Stevie Nicks song, and why it came to mind even though I was thinking about 35, is that many of the existential angst one has at 17 can still be a thing at 35, at least for me. The questions I wrestle with may be different, but there is wrestling all the same. I know the moves, I can anticipate the hits a bit more. But there are still questions that knock me off my feet and steal my breath.

With Mellencamp, his lyrics show that 18 years, the time between 17 and 35, can just be gone in the blink of an eye. Essentially, that’s a lifetime. My adulthood has almost reached the age of an adult… let me think about that one for a minute.

All in all, it totally makes sense that I’m having these feelings about turning 35. To clarify, I don’t feel “bad” or “good” about turning 35. Generally, I’ve been very grateful for reaching and living through my thirties. Because of the self-awareness and the space I’ve given myself, I feel that I have learned and grown more in the past almost-five years than I have for a decade or more. Of course, I did grow so much over my twenties, but now I’m aware and woke enough to see it.

Inevitably, thinking about 35 and the music that plays and has played a huge role in my formation makes me think about where I came from, the land I was brought up on, the land that my forefathers and foremothers turned 35 on. These thoughts and ponderings slowly turn the wheel of grief as well, thinking about those who have passed on. I ponder, I meditate, I try to commune, I remember, I cry, I grieve, I comfort myself, I sleep, I rise again to another day, and on and on.

Breaking News: “Top Nine” Doesn’t Capture Most Important Moments

I use Instagram fairly regularly, probably with more regularity now that I have opted out of Facebook. I know, I know, Instagram is owned by Facebook blah blah blah.

Everyone’s been posting their “Top Nine” recently – the most liked photos in their feeds. Once again, social media panders and quite frankly takes advantage of our desire to be liked and seen and celebrated.

I share my Top Nine, because why not? But I have to add that my top moments most were not shared on Instagram for the world to see.


I can make quite a few assumptions about 2018 from these pictures. I traveled a lot, spent some time in the hospital, exercised a bunch, and am apparently still in love with my spouse. These are all true, but there’s so much more that happened in 2018 not pictured here, like that kid who was absent on picture day.

I will spare the weary reader nine things that happened in 2018. But I will share that one of the best memories is sitting with my sister on my parents’ porch late at night pondering the recent death of our grandmother and watching an amazing Midwestern thunderstorm. I will share that the reconciliation of a friendship was culminated in lovely time spent with her and her family. I will share that the financial and childless freedom to travel to new places has really helped me settle into my unforeseen reality. I will share that my husband and I are indeed more in love than ever. I will share that modern medicine is amazing and I am forever grateful to the surgeon who listened to me and finally was able to diagnose me with endometriosis.

All those moments and more made up a painful, wondrous, family-filled year. They say that one’s formative years usually happen before age 25, but I argue that all years can be formative, some more than others. I’m thankful I have the maturity and wherewithal to really appreciate the important work that time and openness can do for our souls.

Here’s to a blessed, wonderful, hard 2018. And let’s welcome 2019 with open arms.


Recent events

This post is a mash-up of all the random happenings around our household over the past week. It certainly feels like much longer that my husband’s been home.. we’ve settled into a routine quickly. But as our life always is, our routines change.

Weeks 3 and 4 of 50K training were not so stellar. I did less than the recommended amount of mid-week runs, and week 3 did not have a long run. I was out with a sinus/chest infection of some sort. Yesterday after debating all weekend when to do the long run, we went out for 16 and ended up with 12.7. My legs from my ankles to my hips were on fire; the pain was comparable to the end of the Illinois Marathon.

I was disappointed… from here on out the long runs get longer and after bonking at the EP Half and now this run yesterday, I just don’t think the 50K is going to happen for me. Mentally I feel pretty good, but my body screams no whenever I go longer than 10. My right knee was hurting yesterday too, which is something I haven’t felt in about a year, even with the high-mileage months I had last fall (80, 90, 100). I really don’t want to give up on it yet, but if I can’t pound out the 16, 18 and 20-milers soon it ain’t happening. The Jemez Mtn Trail Runs have a 13.1 option so I will shoot for that. I’m obviously trying to force my body and mind into something that isn’t jiving.

On Saturday after arriving to Ruidoso for our first full weekend together after 10 (!!!!!) months, we tried the long run on some trails. I got about a mile into it before I started to hate it. I love nature, I love hiking… but the whole thing was just pissing me off. I hate having to look at my feet so much, having to stop to walk around boulders, etc. It was also cold as heck and sleeting.. or something. So we hiked back to the car and put off the long run.

I thought I’d just love trail running.. but that seems that that’s not the case, at least not right now. I have a lot of fears about trail running that I need to either accept or get over before I can tackle a race like the 50K, and those fears weren’t helped after I got lost on a 9-mile trail race in November. I need to transition slowly into trail running for my body but also for my mind’s sake. Maybe I’ll shoot for 31 miles before I turn 31. 😉 That gives me three years.

It’s been a busy (and expensive!) week with my husband back. We junked his car since the engine was shot (1996 Honda with 225000+ miles), both got new phones as he needed an upgrade and I completely shattered my iPhone… soon we’ll buy another car. We had a great weekend in the mountains just relaxing and talking. Something I’ve always loved about us is that there’s never a lull in conversation, or lack of impressive vocabulary words, something this aspiring linguist can appreciate.

March will be busy with Aaron’s trip to Illinois to visit family and my trip to Portland to present at the TESOL conference. I also need to get the bulk of my thesis written. The analysis is done, so the writing won’t be too terrible.. just time-consuming. But I’m saving that for another day, not during spring break. Here soon we’ll be propelled into the never-ending summer in the desert. 🙂

The year of big girl panties: a recap.

My presence on my blog has been scant recently. I come to my laptop tonight from my sewing table. I always seem to think better when I’m sewing… my mind is free and it wanders while my hands are still busy. I’m so fidgety, just like my grandpa.

I doubt I’ll be posting much over the next few weeks; I finish up the semester this coming week, in a little over a week we fly to Illinois to spend Christmas with family, then we come back to Texas to go to the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth. I hope the last few weeks of 2012 go slowly and we’re able to enjoy them as much as possible.

So, the title. In the military-spouse world, when we talk about getting through “grown-up” things by gritting our teeth and putting our whiny ways aside, we call that “putting our big girl panties on”. A silly metaphor, maybe, but you can’t wear Disney Princess underwear forever. At least, I haven’t found any in my size…

This was a year of gritting my teeth and getting through things. It wasn’t a horrible year; I wouldn’t even say it was a bad year. But there were a lot of tough situations that have forced me to mature (we all need that, right??) and trust God more. That’s a generalization though, for sure.

Two-thousand twelve started out with me working a job that I severely disliked. Severely. Life is short, and in my 26 years I like to say that I’ve learned how to make sound decisions, so I decided to quit. I barely had another “job” lined up… nannying. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely something I wouldn’t want to do long term. I love kids. I love other people’s kids, for the most part. But I don’t have kids yet, so it’s safe to say that taking care of other people’s kids when I haven’t yet decided to go down that road just isn’t fun sometimes. However, on a farm in southern New Mexico, I finally learned what was important in life and became content in my situation.

I experienced a couple more firsts this year, namely the death of a close loved one, and the absence of my husband during this time. Actually, the absence of my family during the few days before I flew to Illinois. I would not relive those days or wish them on anyone. Never in my life had I been so anxious and desperate that I couldn’t even muster an appetite, and if you’ve been around me for even a day you know that I love food! It was awful. I am very lucky that I was able to go home and say a proper goodbye.

This year was also the first that my husband and I have gone on separate trips out of the country. While I would have loved to have him with me in Honduras, and I would have loved to go with him (sorry, still have to be vague about where!), it was a good experience to travel on my own. It only feeds my desire to travel somewhere every few months!

And as an ongoing event of 2012, I’ve finally become happy(ier) with my body and also with my fitness and eating habits. I haven’t been tracking my calories or paces for awhile now, and it’s freeing. Having no expectations of my paces makes good races and paces that much sweeter. I was just getting so bogged down with looking at my watch constantly and figuratively beating myself up over it, and then getting on the scale and beating myself up about those numbers. Damn numbers. Done. Done done done.

One of the most freeing aspects of 2012 was that I’ve finally, finallyFINALLY surrendered my baby fever. We, my husband and I, came to the conclusion that we are not ready for children yet, despite what people say. What do people really know anyway? They just want to oogle and stalk pictures of your family on Facebook; they’re not thinking of the sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and expenses that come with having children. We want to be a little selfish for awhile still. We want to finish degrees and fly on planes to cool places and just be us for awhile longer. Our family is complete the way it is now. It’s taken me awhile to be okay with that, but now I am. This pretty much sums it up:

my dog
Thanks, Jess!

…but really. My dog is awesome.

2012 was absolutely 100% essential for my development as an adult. I wouldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t change it either, at least the things that weren’t outside of my control. 2013 will see a subsequently 27-year-old Elizabeth with her big girl panties on, guns a-blazin’. Strange picture…. but whatever. 😉

Vacation :: good for the soul

I truly believe that sometimes God just wants us to rest. Church and productivity and work are all great things, but sometimes we just need a break, a Sabbath. (Can a Sabbath consist of two weeks of vacation??) We had a great visit to see friends and family in Illinois. Two weeks is the longest Aaron and I have had off work together in over two years! Well, two weeks that were just for relaxing, not moving halfway across the country.

There’s no way I can rehash everything that happened, nor do I want to! It’d take forever! We saw most of the friends and family that we wanted to see; to see everyone is just impossible unless we didn’t want any downtime for ourselves. We stayed with my in-laws, and my parents took us to and from the airport in St. Louis. We spent five days in Chicagoland with Bruce, Katie, our 4-year-old niece Lena and 4-month-old nephew Rand. They affectionately call me “Aunt LizBiz”. We were able to be there for Lena’s birthday party and Rand’s baptism.

We took them to the Brookfield Zoo!

I totally made his hat! Cuteness. 100%.

I got a few runs, which were lovely in the crisp winter-ish air. The Midwest has had a very mild winter. Aaron and I did about 8.5 miles the day after we got back. We realized just how small our hometown is. We wove our way through streets and parks. I love that everything there is so familiar. The Monday we got back from Elgin we ran 16 miles, which was great. We started out at about 7am, which is relatively late for me to start a long run like that. I also ran with my friend Darla and even got up at 4:30 in the morning to go to BodyCombat with her. (I did come home and go back to sleep for awhile.)

We ate. A lot. We went to all the places we wanted: Lou Malnati’s (awesome Chicago deep dish), Double A’s, Steak n Shake, Ernie’s Family Restaurant, Flat Top Grill, Our Inn Place, Avanti’s, Monicals.

In Elgin, all five cousins got their photos taken. Super cute. I love being an aunt to these kids.

I learned how to crochet. I had learned a really long time ago but it never stuck with me. My grandpa refreshed my memory and I’ve been crocheting like crazy! I also got a smartphone, finally. It all started because I accidentally (I swear!) dropped my iPod in the toilet and it was… dead. Drowned. My sister Emily and I switched phones since she didn’t want the smartphone anymore.

What else can I say besides it was a much needed R&R. We had no issues with our flights or baggage and got in Saturday evening. Yesterday we took it easy: went out for breakfast, went grocery shopping, I got a starter and seeds at Lowe’s to *hopefully* grow some herbs and veggies. I expected to feel worn out yesterday; instead I was energized! Soon I’m off to work and hoping that I can stay stress-free for awhile….

Headed for Bataan

March 25, 2012 is not that far away.

Training for the Bataan Memorial Death March commences next week. I’m going to use Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 marathon training plan. It’s 18 weeks long, but starting next week will give us one extra week. We’re running a 5K turkey trot on Thanksgiving, so it doesn’t hurt to be a little more prepared for that.

From the way the schedule looks, we’ll be doing one of the longest runs (19 miles) while we’re back in Illinois visiting. It’ll be good because 1) the elevation is about 700 ft compared to almost 4000 here and 2) I trained in the Midwestern winter last year so I’ll know what to expect.

Aaron is going to join me for the runs, but he’s rucking it instead of just running. I fall into the “civilian light” category, and I think he’ll be in the “military heavy” category, which does the race with a 35-lb rucksack and full uniform. The only thing I’ll be carrying is my Camelbak.

This time around I will know how to be physically prepared for the challenges of long-distance running. It starts today with drinking lots and lots of fluids, taking my iron supplements, properly refueling after long runs (Aaron just ordered protein powder) and avoiding caffeine. I’m also going to be taking that vitamin supplement called Airborne. There are boxes of packets now in many generic brands. During the weeks with the highest mileage, I’ll take it twice a day. I did this last year during training and I didn’t get the flu once (knock on wood!).

On a slightly different note, yesterday my heart rate was all over the place and I had a hard time catching my breath. Just standing up or doing light chores it was around 115-120, which I sometimes don’t even hit on the stationary bike. When I’d sit down and rest, it wouldn’t fall below 72-80. During and after the marathon last year, my resting heart rate was sometimes as low as 48. I was a little concerned yesterday, but never felt my heart jump up suddenly. During my SVT episodes, it climbs to 145 or higher. I haven’t had one of those since we’ve been here!

So today, I’m avoiding caffeine, relaxing and trying to get over this congested feeling that’s come over me in the past 24 hours. I know my body, and I’ll feel congested for a day or two before a sinus infection or something similar really hits and then I’m down for the count. Ugh. Hoping that resting up today will prevent any sickness!

Looking at pictures from the Illinois Marathon makes me excited and motivated to start this training. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I ventured to Chicago to run my then-longest race of 9.3 miles… I’m thankful Aaron’s PT schedule has changed now so that we can run in the morning before he goes to work, and then he has regular PT in the afternoons.

Bring it on, Bataan!

>Race report and reflection: ILLINOIS MARATHON 2011

>Let me start you off with some stats:

Location: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; only my favorite place in this state!
Weather: started out at 50* and windy, topped out around 75* and still windy
Chip time: 4:53:02
Goal time: 5:00:00
Average pace: 11:11
Water consumed: well over 64 oz
Gels consumed: at least 6
Celebrities spotted: Abraham Lincoln (guess they had Asics back in the day.. who knew?), orange-clad Darth Vader, Superman
Funny signs: “Don’t stop!” followed by “That’s what she said!”; “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking butt!”; at mile 23 “You have no other option but to f’in finish!”

This week, I was not nervous. I was anxious to just get it over with, but not nervous or worried. It was a great way to go into a race, especially a marathon!

I met Gabi at gear check at 6:15. The 45 minutes until the race started seemed to go by fast. There were less than 3,000 running the full marathon, so we got across the start line quickly. Very different from my races in Chicago!

We started around the 5:00 pace group, and ended up speeding up to a pace of 10:45-11. We really took it easy, but we didn’t go too slow. Honestly, the miles flew and I felt great. The wind wasn’t too bad in the beginning.

Around mile 8, we ran through Meadowbrook Park, where Aaron and I had spent quite a lot of time when he lived down there. Good memories. At around mile 11, we ran past Stone Creek Church. I was so hoping to see Pastor Grogan, but I saw his wife and Ricky, one of the other pastors. I also saw one of my former students who attends U of I. It’s so energizing and exciting to see people you know, even if it’s for a second! Hannah and her sister were at quite a few mile markers with signs. That kept me motivated too.

I started taking gels around mile 5, to be on the safe side. Some people have stomach trouble with all the sugar in gels and Gatorade, but I have no problem. I was not going to let myself get dehydrated or “hit the wall”. I drank my entire Camelbak of 50 oz, and towards the end I drank at every stop. We tended to walk for a few seconds at the stops to make sure we drank enough!

There was a band called “Shark Domain” or something at mile 8. It’s funny because our friend Aaron B. asked me if I had added “Eye of the Tiger” to the playlist. I hadn’t, but this band was playing it right as we passed by! They were all wearing bright pink shorts, too. Funny.

We saw someone running barefoot, someone with a huuuuuuge Afro hair-do, a lady driving her car down the race course.. seriously, WHO let her by?? I tried to say “thank you” to as many volunteers and policemen as possible… we could not do it without them!

Mile 18-19, courtesy of Hannah

At around mile 20, we sped up a little bit to around 10:45 pace, I think, and soon after Gabi took off. Looking at our 20-mile split, we hit it at 6 minutes faster than our last 20-mile run!! I don’t know how she made her legs keep that pace up after that! I didn’t hit a mental wall, but my legs felt like lead! The last two were awful because of the wind. I’m guessing it was around a 20mph wind right in our faces. At that point, though, I didn’t sweat it (figuratively, because literally I was!) because I knew I wouldn’t finish before 4:45, but definitely before 5:00.

The last .2 were soooo loooong. It was great though to see the finish line in the stadium! I sprinted the last .1 or less. I couldn’t believe I really finished. I started crying as I crossed the line. We got a medal, which is actually very nice. (I can’t say as much about the shirts.. ugh.) I drank a one-liter and sat down to stretch. Um, dumb! I could barely get back up!

Sprinting to the finish! Courtesy of Hannah

Whhyyy did we sit down? Ouch! Courtesy of Hannah

Walking was painful. It was more painful that running that last little bit. However, this afternoon I tried to move around. I went upstairs at Hannah’s to take a shower, MUCH needed. I could feel and see the salt from sweat caked on my face. Anyway, I survived the shower and for some reason had crazy energy. I’m sure those endorphins and adrenaline last a long time, but I guess I thought I’d be so tired!

I ate some chicken and dumplings Hannah’s mom had made, had some cream soda and ice cream, too. Then it was my idea to go to the running store to look for a marathon shirt that I liked (picky, I know) and unfortunately they didn’t have any women’s back in the store from the expo. I did get a 26.2 sticker for my car.

I have to say, besides knowing Jesus, being married, and graduating from college, running a marathon is the coolest thing I have ever done. I love that runner’s high; I was “high” throughout pretty much the whole race! And I am being honest when I say that I never once thought, “Oh my gosh, why am I doing this?” or “I’ll never do this again!” I’m already asking Aaron when we’re going to train for the half in December in flippin’ New Mexico.

I have to give all glory to the Lord. This simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has saved my sanity, kept me mentally healthy, made me physically fit, and tested my trust that God has indeed created me with a healthy heart!

I have to also thank everyone who has encouraged, inspired, and prayed for me throughout this process. I especially thank my husband, who has been incredibly supportive even from halfway across the world. And OF COURSE, my training partner Gabi who made those early Saturday morning runs worth it! We did everything… wind, sun, snow, rain… everything. We did it, girl!

Amazing day!

As she said, this has been an incredibly unique experience.. you get to know someone really well when you spend three hours every Saturday morning running with them in the country. I will never forget it!

Yay for ZERO WEEK!!