A new kind of separation

We’re almost a week down in Deployment 2013-2014. I have this nifty little thing lovingly called a “Donut of Misery”, and right now mine looks like this:

DOM

Lovely, right? Whew. 2%. We may or may not be a little farther into this than what this says, but we don’t know exactly how long he’ll be gone.

Honestly, I have had a great week. That totally goes against normal expectations. I had finals this week, so I had that to keep me focused. I finally have a total break from everything.. school, work,¬†husband. Naw, just kidding. ūüėČ I spent the entire afternoon at the spa yesterday, which is something I never thought I’d say. Aaron set me up well before he left with a gift certificate for my birthday. I informed him that he can get me a spa package for every birthday, anniversary and Christmas from now until I die. Srsly.

The weeks¬†before this week, however, were a funny sort of purgatory. You know how it goes… super emotional, crazy, clingy, just downright insane. Me, not him of course. It was probably the worst time we had on the eve of a separation. But now that he’s made it to his destination safely and we’ve been able to chat a few times, and finals are over, I’ve been feeling really really good.

I have a few theories as to why I feel so great even though he’s just left.

1) Basic training had very very little communication. We hadn’t been apart for about two years and so it felt like it was new. There was a lot of hype surrounding his leaving for BCT… it was finally a new job for him, I didn’t know if I was going to move to Arizona with him, etc. I was also still in my first year of teaching and approaching the end of the school year.

2) AIT (job training) in Arizona was spent apart because I had chosen to keep my job in IL so that we could pay down some debt because at that point we¬†literally could not afford for me not to work. We’d be broke.

3) Korea…. ohhhhh Korea. Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh ghafesrjghrabi&!&@##. This was probably the single most frustrating thing I’d ever experienced. I¬†quit my full-time job. Derp. I should have known better than to quit before I knew for sure that I’d be heading over the big blue ocean. It was a ridiculous waiting game of whether the Army would approve me to move over there, and then after five months of that BS we just decided that it wasn’t happening. On top of that, we had no idea in which country or when we’d see each other again.

Now… well, now we’ve lived in El Paso for two years. We have an amazing set of friends who really are family to us (including some fellow Illinoisans!). I just successfully finished the first year in my Master’s program, with one year to go. I know where I’ll be seeing Aaron next, not just when. We’re not absolutely drowning in debt, in fact, we’re making great progress. I know the job I’ll be working six, even twelve months from now. I have the best canine companion a girl could ask for.

We’ve been in this life for four years now. This separation is what happens when you sign up for the Army. You learn that life doesn’t start when he gets back; it keeps going. It’s not just you acting like you’re strong; you¬†are strong because of what you’ve gone through, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be ridden with sadness or anxiety over him leaving. It’s okay to enjoy life. It’s okay for him to make the most out of his time overseas, too.

So, time to kick this into high gear, dudes!

A mild setback

So, I kinda sorta thought I would run the New Mexico Texas Challenge Half or Full.. I think it’s gonna be the half. I ran a couple times this week, but as soon as I stepped off to run yesterday morning, my right knee was hurting. Not a 10 on the infamous “pain scale”, but enough that I couldn’t run on it. I walked back to the house, feeling utterly defeated. It’s like the world heard my proclamation on the interwebz that I WAS GONNA RUN A LOT, MAYBE AN ULTRA, AND ALL ELSE BE DAMNED. But that’s okay, it just means that I need to stretch, maybe slow down, and not run too many miles all at once. Derp.

Of course, this would happen on the same day I get my bee-you-tee-ful new NB Minimus in the mail… srsly. They are gorgggg. (Just kidding, I don’t say gorggg.)

This is unrelated, but I’ve had a revelation about social networking. I’m DONE with following or responding to negativity online. I get enough of that just by being a human on¬† Planet Earth; why in the world would I subject myself to it of my own accord?? I’m going to be pruning down my newsfeed(s) for sure.

Still long distance

I don’t know what’s happened in my brain in the past couple weeks, but I want long distance running to be a way of life. I want to¬†want to run most days of the week, and get antsy on the rest days. I want to challenge myself. I want to run an ultra.

I have to be crazy, but then that just becomes par for the course, right?? Anyone willing to run anything over 26.2 miles, either on the road or on a trail, has to be a little off-kilter. It’s the mental and physical challenge that draws me in, and the sense of adventure. The training for an ultra is simple: run. Lots and lots of miles.

KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Tell me to, and I can run lots and lots of miles. I have a harder time following a specific training plan for a specific number of weeks with a specific amount of miles at a specific pace. Anything that requires a treadmill is gonna have to wait, because going to the gym is really not in my repertoire right now. I enjoy the gym, I have to make my workouts work for¬†me, instead of being a slave to them. I have a dog who needs to be run or walked every day, so it’s a win-win for us.

I’ve been dwelling too much on my past experience as a first-time marathoner. That was two years ago.¬†Two. It’s about time that I grieved that wonderful experience of training with an¬†amazing¬†running partner. There are few things that I’ve done or experienced that have topped crossing that finish line, let alone under my goal time. But I can make it happen again, with a new partner (my dog and/or my husband) and new goals.

It pains me that it’s taken me this long to figure out what’s been blocking that part of my brain that wants to run. I made all kinds of excuses. It’s hot here. It’s windy. It’s hard to find a [safe] open road to run on. We’re at 4,000 ft elevation. I have to get up super early to beat the sun. I have to take Missy running before the kids start walking to school so she doesn’t freak out. Excuses…

I’ve tried other fitness programs. And in the end, this is not about me being a certain weight or BMI or whatever other mumbo-jumbo is out there. This is about me preserving my body, saving my sanity, and making my training do the work for me, not the other way around. Running works for me. It’s cheap, it’s portable, it’s easy… just one foot in front of the other. The rest is gravy.

Biscuits and gravy. On a sunny Saturday morning after completing 12 miles I honestly wasn’t sure I’d do or not, and by 9 AM to boot. That’s the first long run on a Saturday morning I’ve done, besides races, since we moved to Texas. So, running and I? We’re still together.. and long distance works for us. It makes the heart grow fonder.

Busy.

We are in the fifth week of the semester already. This week has been crazy! It’s not that things I do are particularly challenging; it’s that every couple hours I’m starting something different. I practically live in Liberal Arts building. But I love this program. This week I taught a class in preparation to teach it as an instructor in the fall (in Texas you have to have 18 hours to teach college level). It was great. I love that I know what I’m good at, and I love that what I’m good at is also something I enjoy. I just hope I’m not shooting myself in the foot when I graduate and going back out into a sucky teaching field. Also, who knows where we’ll be stationed in a year and a half.

Lent is underway, and one thing I was thinking of giving up was social media; however, I don’t think that’s necessary! I’m not on nearly as much as I was, and it’s been a welcome change. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be “all in”… and I am, out of both desire and necessity.

Spring break commences in only three short weeks, and my sister Emily is coming to visit! I’m so excited to give her a little tour of the Southwest. A few places we will visit are Mesilla, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and of course different places in El Paso. Hopefully the weather will be good and not too windy. You know what they say around here, Febrero loco y marzo otro poco. Let’s hope the wind is poco.

I’ve been sick this week too, but I motivated mentally to run more, so I hope it will translate to the physical realm! My next post should be introducing to my new nephew, who is delaying his arrival into the world (my sister Leah was due three days ago!). Little stinker. ūüėČ

I just kept on runnin’…

When you think about how many factors have to line up in order for a person to run, it’s pretty amazing that any of us do it, let alone enjoy it. I’ve been reading¬†Born to Run about the Tarahumara tribe that’s dubbed “super-human runners”. They don’t run in fancy $100 shoes, or eat fancy energy gels or run in fancy races with rock bands lining the finish line. They run basically to run. A Forrest Gump philosophy, if you will. The way the book is written makes you want to go run an ultra. Like, tomorrow.

I’ve been working on shortening my strides, which has done wonders for everything physically. I’m not exerting as much energy from step to step, my pace is actually¬†better (or maybe that’s just because I’ve been running regularly for a couple weeks). I don’t feel as out of breath, and from the way it stands now, it doesn’t feel like I need new shoes even though the ones I have now (New Balance Minimus) are almost a year old.

So, today. I set out for an initial mile with Missy just around the neighborhood. Then I came home, ate breakfast with Aaron before he went to work, did a little housework while breakfast settled, and then I went back out. I thought, Oh, maybe I’ll do three more, down McCombs and back. I went down McCombs, and just kept on going. The picture above is a park about 2.1 miles from my house with a mile-long paved trail. I ran around that trail and back home, putting in a total of 5 miles after breakfast.

Now, 5 miles isn’t necessarily something to boast about when I have run 26.2 at one go before. But it’s the overall effect, how it made me feel. When I run just to run, it’s like I’m detoxing without having to drink nasty spinach drinks, or eat lemons for a week (or whatever it is that people do to “detox”). I feel all the crap, physical and emotional, just go away.

So what caused this amazing hour of my life? Maybe it was the inspiration that is¬†Born to Run. Maybe it was the perfectly balanced breakfast of eggs, avocado slices, and toast all washed down with a Lo-Carb Monster. Maybe it was that I haven’t been eating nearly as much junk lately. Maybe it was that I just decided to relax and run for the joy of running. Maybe it was that I listened to exclusively worship music. Maybe it was the perfectly clear blue skies and sunshine on my face.

Who knows. But it felt great.

Maybe I should add “Run ultra (50k+) before I turn 30” to my bucket list…

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,¬†finally,¬†FINALLY¬†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. ūüėČ

A whirlwind week

Yay, it’s Friday! Although I’ve been going since 7ish this morning, it’s been a good day. In fact, all the days this week were good despite getting home late Tuesday (I have a night class) and Aaron’s crazy work schedule. One night he even had to go back in to work. Blech.

I’m loving my classes and my job. Because of this assistantship I’m super busy, but I. Am. Loving. It. I haven’t been so happy with my life since I taught Spanish at Midland. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, but later after I’d quit I missed it so much! Thankfully I’ve been able to tutor several students this week from all over the world and teach a couple conversation classes. In my two weeks I’ve already met people from Turkey, Ukraine, Mexico (of course), and Palestine.

The coursework is challenging but not impossible. The finer points of linguistics like semantics and phonology are actually very similar to math in some aspects, and I love math. I love having a problem to figure out. Unlike my undergrad, I’m not constantly obsessed with every single assignment and the grade. Carrying a 4.0 over the next two years is my goal (duh!) but actually learning and discovering new things about linguistics are my priorities.

I can really see myself teaching ESOL classes in the future, whether it’s at a college here in the US or in a school overseas somewhere. Teaching just makes me so happy. Like swooning over lesson plans and rosters happy. Kind of. UTEP seems to have an amazing ESOL program and I will take advantage of every second to gain more experience. Living on the border definitely has its advantages!

Soon I’ll be starting on a research project with one of the languages/linguistics professors. I’m excited to get research experience. I have an option to do either a thesis or an extended paper (the latter requires more coursework) at the end of my program. I know a thesis involves a LOT of individual research, so if I do that I’ll need experience. Then there’s the ever-present question… to PhD or not to PhD?

Honestly, I can’t answer that for sure right now. I mean, it’d be pretty sweet to be Dr. W., but how does that fit in with moving, husband getting out of the Army (or staying in???), and starting a family? And not to mention the expense, unless I’m lucky enough to get an associateship or scholarship or whatever they call them up there in the rafters of higher ed. Anyway. We can cross that bridge later.

When I’m working towards a goal, my mind becomes a single track and sometimes it’s hard for me to see (or care) about other things that are going on. However, so far I’ve been able to balance life at home and life on campus. Because this type of busyness isn’t usually emotionally draining or downright frustrating, I still have energy to work out (occasionally) and keep the house clean. My husband would tell you that I’m much more fun to live with that when I was working at, say, Sylvan.¬†I’ve just felt so blessed and thankful and joyful.