adventure, family

Passport, Please

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12 years it sat in a strong box. Waiting to be reissued. Waiting for a glorious stamp or two. How did I let it get so dusty and neglected?

Work, kids, commitments, and so much more all stood in my way. They all halted my adventures on an international scale.  Although I didn’t really have a need to travel internationally, I could have, and maybe should have, but it was going to be such a pain to update my passport because I had a name change since the passport was originally issued (thanks, marriage). I made excuses and I let time slip away.

Well, the passport expired in 2007. That means I have been procrastinating a bit and my life of adventure was limited to stateside sights. I won’t complain as I visited a lot of places in the U. S., but adventure awaits me over the border.

Today I just did it. I dusted off the old book, gathered my documents and got photo ready. I looked up my location list to do the deed. This time, I took my youngest along to get hers with me.

I thought back to my teen years and thought of the adventures I had with my parents when I went to Europe a couple of times. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, among others. The food, the culture, the shopping, the language, each was an experience in itself. I need to show my youngest the world.

She is an adventurer just like her mom. So why not? Why wait? A plan is in motion. A new destination each year for the next five years. Some travels alone. Some with friends. Some with family. Maybe even a school trip will be on the horizon. She will be ready. I will be ready. Memories are on the horizon.

No need to cram for documents and rush to travel. We are both ready to go-go-go. On a whim or with a plan. We will get going when we want to.

We have a five year plan. A plan to travel and explore and hopefully stamp those passports. Where will we go? Who will we meet? When do we leave?

No answers to those questions yet but we are one step closer to adventure. We are planning: The time of year. The possible destinations. The gift of travel. The experiences to share.

As I write I think of all the countries that read this blog. I think who I might see on a train, on a plane, etc. You may know me, but I don’t know you. If by chance we meet, please say hello.

Passport adventure blogs to follow as the future becomes the present. Send me ideas of must-see places to put in my 5-year travel plan.

family

For Dad

 

We sat in the parking lot in Virginia, 7:45 am last Sunday.

“My dad would be so proud of me,” I told the teens in the back seat. “I found the 24/7 taco place.” Street tacos with cilantro and onion on corn tortillas. Authentic. Just like the tacos he took me to eat at one of the first real taquerias in Atlanta over 30 years ago.  “Yelp says it’s a Richmond institution.”

Now, I can’t say I am truly just like him. He’d have ordered the tripe or tongue tacos or other more exotic meats. I’m a carne asada and al pastor girl. He would have gone crazy on the hot-hotter-hottest salsa bar. I chose the only one that said mild.

Dad, who loved to talk about how he didn’t even eat a taco until he was 25. He spent the rest of his life making up for lost time.

Then, after cheering for my daughter and her teammates at a lacrosse tournament, those teen girls and I drove a bit north to Kings Dominion.

Even with his broken body, my dad loved a great roller coaster. He could tell you the history and all kinds of fun facts about any coaster in the country, not to mention the first time he rode it. We even belonged to American Coaster Enthusiasts growing up. So spending Father’s Day at Kings Dominion was a fitting way to honor him. He also loved carousels, band organs, all things carnival and amusement. I don’t ride every roller coaster but I hope I’m getting better at embodying his sense of adventure.

What’s funny is I didn’t start out this Father’s Day thinking “what would my dad do today?” I didn’t set out to make the day a tribute to him.

It was after I stood back and reflected that I saw that some of the ways I do life and travel naturally reflect what he taught me by example.

Cheer for your kids. Be interested in what they like and want to do. Nurture those interests.

Eat at little, out of the way places. Take the scenic route sometimes. Try the local specialty. Support small, family businesses.

Be curious. Ask questions. Listen to the answers.  Ask more questions. Keep learning.

Ride roller coasters and merry-go-rounds. Embrace life’s ups and downs and even the rough, bumpy spots.  Delight in the unexpected. Enjoy the ride.

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fitness and nutrition

Murph 2019

The infamous Murph workout. Every year as a tribute to a fallen soldier. What an honor to complete!

3rd year participating in Murph. Each year I get better, but each year I struggle. Year after year I come back to do it. And I enjoying doing it with friends.

It’s a grueling workout. Done in extreme heat with limited rest. Days of recovery follow and only the craziest of crazy normally put it on their agenda.

Well, I am one of those crazies and I have many of friends that fall into that category as well.

Some complete Murph strict. Some complete a scaled version and some even do a modified version if traveling on vacation where equipment is limited. No matter what version, the community and cheering section is like no other. Nobody is done until everyone is done! Those who finish early run more with stragglers. Those who complete with friends cheer, count and celebrate. Some even come to watch and I even saw pom-poms one year.

This year was special. I did it with my 13-year-old daughter. Her first time. A test of her will, her stamina, and her grit. She completed her flavor of the Murph WOD and felt good when she finished. A feeling of triumph and a great way to memorialize a soldier.

I got to see a Mom to be complete the murph workout with her Mom and another friend who completed it weighted for the first time.

Another guy in the gym completed it in a girl’s tank top for flair. What will be next for me and others?

I will be back again next year to complete Murph. A new challenge for me: maybe a weighted vest, maybe no partitions. Time will tell.

If you don’t know anything about the Murph workout, look it up. If you go to the gym, test your skills. Trust me, it’s a good physical and mental workout.

Be sure to look at the last picture. It signifies the end of a great WOD and a throw back to our first book, The End. The end of an elephant’s butt.

Have a fitastic day!

perspective

Junkyard Stories

Tragedy struck close to home a short bit ago. A medical emergency. A car. An ambulance. And so much more…

I’ve been waiting to write this post until the dust settled a bit. Emotions were high. Lives were altered. A new normal was on the horizon. Blurred vision on most days but clarity can be in sight for him. Time will be needed.

Everyone walked away and hopefully lessons were learned by all. I met strangers that day who cared. They cared enough to follow up the next day. Kindness can exist outside our of inner circle.

Life is precious. Life can be taken in an instant. I have seen tragedy strike many families. It is never fun nor easy. I escaped that fate that day if only by a hair. But the thought was there.

When the phone rings. That call. The silence. The sirens. The need to act NOW. The emergency call nobody wants to get, ever.

Putting trust in others. Knowing you knew the paramedic on the scene. What a coincidence or blessing? A burden was lifted. The torch of trust was passed. You balance what needs to be done. You support those involved and rebuild what crumbled.

Through a history of events I ended up at the junkyard. To see a new car crumbled into bits and pieces yet thankful my story ended in the most positive way possible. A life was spared. A valued life. A young life.

But then I looked to the side and saw another vehicle. Less crumbled but scorched. No windows. No doors. Were those occupants as lucky?

Off in the distance a truck must have rolled and rolled during its misfortune. There were globs of grass and dirt and other things sticking out of the vehicle in a way I could only envision that the vehicle flipped many times. The roof was dented and sunken a good distance.

My curious mind sat for a moment and thought of all the untold stories in the junkyard. Was there heartache? Were there financial pains? Was there death? I will never know, but I did think. And I knew how lucky I was in that moment. He might not know today, but I know.

I thought about how thankful I was for things I had. For the experiences I have had thus far and the journeys I still see in my future. I was thankful for a life being spared.

As life shifts, we must shift our mindset to complement change. We must deal with a new set of circumstances yet appreciate what got us to said point in time.

I am blessed not stressed.

I am happy not sappy.

I live but still love.

I fear but don’t but don’t let fear steer.

I am lucky.

balance

Active Recovery

Active recovery is common for athletes. Maybe some cardio or a lower intensity workout as your body recovers.

In addition to my active recovery days at the gym, I need active recovery time of my own. To some this may sound weird, but it’s needed.

Today, I didn’t turn on my laptop for anything business related. I didn’t answer any work email from my phone. I didn’t do any project planning with my executive team for next week.

I enjoyed the outdoors. I challenged myself physically and mentally. I tried something new. I had breakfast at a local restaurant with friends, both old and new. I spent some time being lazy and petting my dog.

I spent some time away from the crowds. I took a power nap because I could. I listened to the clock tick. I listened to my dog snore. I caught up with some people I haven’t connected with lately. I didn’t even turn on the tv.

Basically I stripped out the noise of daily life. I embraced the giggles and laughter of today. I smelled the fresh air. I listened to somebody say grace at a table. I did however turn on some tunes in the car and jammed out shamelessly.

Do you ever just take a break? Do ever just need a break? Do you ever just need to turn down the volume on life to appreciate what’s right in front of you?

I encourage you to do it one afternoon. Maybe a Sunday after church. Maybe a Monday night, take a stroll in the park to gather your thoughts. Just make it fit in your schedule one day this week. Just embrace the challenge and invest in you.

The you in you needs to be strong for tomorrow. Resetting, refreshing and reapproaching your circumstances can often brighten your outlook.

Take my test and see what happens. Let me know how it goes.

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Jail Break Time

So something happened!

And I’m sure you think I went to jail but guess again! I entered a team in the 2019 Jail Break Challenge in my community.

I saw it advertised online. A 5k with obstacles. A little twist on the other extreme 5k’s I’ve done, so I said I’m going give it a go. Tasha is in. Courtney is in. Milagros is in. Team of 4 badass chicks it is. I just love my friends and how they dive right in with my crazy adventures.

Then a few more expressed interest. Team two formed. Lexi, Sarah, Chris and my oldest Nick filled out team 2. A coed team it is.

Time passes. A group chat starts. The weather calls for a monsoon. People get the jitters. But in the end everyone shows up bright and early, even the one who stayed out partying until the wee hours the night before.

There were some unhappy campers as the race started. I mean not mad, just realized that it was an extreme event versus a casual jog and the weather and the environment had emotions roaring. Coed team smack talks. Girls team fires back. Game on! Remember I’m on the girls team so I might have been the one firing back. Sixth place finish for the chicks and the coed team is behind us by about 3 minutes. It’s all good. We all finished. We had a blast and we tackled obstacles we were not sure if we could do. And most importantly nobody on our team left injured, well maybe we all have some scrapes and bruises but no ambulance was needed. That’s always a positive way to end.

Before the official race started, so much took place. There was the big decision of using the porta-potty or not. Those things might just be the nastiest things on the planet. Nope, I’m sure of it! The things one sees when the lid is lifted are just not right. Add a little southern heat and you have an awful aroma that will gag you in less than a second. Now that you have an amazing pre-race visual…

The adventure really started with a gunshot, and then a second just to be sure we heard the first one. Oh yeah, in the competitive division at 8:30 am in the pouring rain. I picked the competitive slot but the others missed that fine detail. Oops…

Tasha is out of the gate and almost rolls her ankle in a hole. We were not even 500 feet into the race. Meanwhile, it’s called the Jail Break race for a reason. It runs along side the jail with real prisoners, barbed wire fence and lots of deputies with guns. For a few of the girls it was a little too up close for them. Especially when the guys in orange jumpsuits were doing their assigned duties on the course. It was a giggle fest for me!

Moving on to the death trap, I mean obstacle one and it was really called the Death Trap. Truck through very murky water that probably had snakes and leeches and whatever else lurked below. It was gross for sure. Hope you watched the GoPro video on our insta story for a glimpse of the action and of course the proof that the obstacle was in fact named the Death Trap.

Though the winding woods we run. Carefully avoiding the tree stumps, prickly bushes, thorns, deep mud pockets and of course the exposed roots. There are fences to climb, logs to balance, haystacks to hurdle and so much more.

And then in the middle of the woods we see a random house. Probably used for training as it looked like it was fresh out of a movie set. Through a window we go after navigating a garage and stuff. Hopped a few creeks and then we approach the border of the jail.

All the creeks lead to passages under the roads. They are legit covered in wire and reinforced fencing. I guess it’s to limit the chance of escape. I’ve seen it in the movies but this was front and center. So was the noise of what I think was the mess hall. We could hear the sounds of breakfast or recreation time as we ran along the fence line in the woods and on the pavement. What an experience.

Then we are at a hill with a rope. But the hill is extremely muddy. Of course it is! We are in the middle of a torrential rain storm. We barely make it up just to find out you have to go back down. Hilarious, I said to myself. Now I’m waiting at the bottom for my teammates and oh crap…

A 200+ pound man from another team is sliding down the hill with no chance of stopping and he takes me out. Just like a bowling ball nailing the center pin! I’m surprised I didn’t see stars after that one. Covered in mud I am. Down comes Milagros laughing uncontrollably at what she just witnessed. We move on carefully navigating the brush with thorns so we don’t wipe out on the muddy path that slopes downward.

Oopsie. Another casualty. Another grown man slipped and went up in the air and wiped out in grand fashion. Can’t wait to watch that footage on my GoPro. We had to giggle but at the same time we knew it was embarrassing and most likely painful but that’s why we signed the waiver.

We carried sandbags, 30-pound buckets of rocks and dirt, got chased by prisoners, scaled a few high walls and of course climbed through black tubing and crawled through wires and ropes of all kinds.

Run run run we are about 30 minutes into the race and we hit the tower and the officer training course. Climbed the ropes to the top of tower and traversed down. The nicest officer was manning that obstacle and he gave us guidance on the easier way to maneuver the rope/slope. Thank goodness because some of us girls were not using good form before he gave us instruction. See we only pretend to know how to do things.

Just when we felt success at the tower we jumped up a hole into some other wooden enclosure onto what looked like a log version of uneven bars in gymnastics. Yes, you had to free jump, hang, swing and maneuver to the next obstacle. I thought I was on American Ninja Warrior for brief second.

Then a balance beam uphill and downhill with moving things that hit you if you don’t duck. Then you run to two-story A-frame wooden thing you need to climb and then get down from. Are you tired yet?

Our adrenaline was flowing for sure. Some more tubes, some more fences, a few rock walls, a rope climb and then the big finale. Our clothes weighed 10 pounds each by now and our shoes were full of mud, sand, dirt, water and grime. Every step required extra power compared to arriving steps when we were dry.

How does it end? What is awaiting us? Do we go upside down and navigate a rope to the end or do you jump in the dumpster full of nasty brown water and who knows what else or how many people peed in it?

What’s the answer? Which path do I choose?

I earned my shirt. I earned my medal. I cheered on my friends. I did something I never did before and I had a blast doing it all. No stress. No worries. I lived in the moment.

Some won’t take a chance on things that are new, that make them feel uncertain. I tend to like those things. I never know if I will fail and that’s okay. If I fail I can always try again another day or say that’s not my thing anyway.

The point is I try. I try often. I experiment. I invite. I’m curious. My curiosity keeps me growing and evolving.

Hoping your weekend adventures took you to new heights. I know mine did. Thanks for reading today.

P.S. I was supposed to go kayaking after this race. The monsoon made the river too high and unsafe. What a bummer, but instead I had some free time to write this blog on my comfy couch with my dog while I recovered under a blanket. I’m not complaining just explaining a day in the life.

awareness

Are You My Type?

Last week, Chick 1 posted about her Enneagram results.

As one of her business partners, she encouraged me to take the Enneagram test to learn more about myself and how I can grow. (And yes, she had to remind me more than once. I’m scattered. It’s a problem.)

Anyway, to mirror Chick 1’s approach, I thought I would share my top 3 Enneagram type areas with some comments…all three of these were basically tied for me.

Type 4: The Individualist

The Sensitive, Introspective Type:

Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental

There are several things about the description of Type 4 that come to mind.  Fours are thinkers and reflect a lot.  I was a philosophy major, and lived “the life of the mind” for many years, well into my PhD. (My Dad used to say I walked around with “a little black cloud over my head” from thinking too much.)

I do love to just sit and ponder things, and I tend to still be reflective in my work at school today.  Fours are also artistic. If you know me, you know I love singing, poetry, and other creative expressions.  Fours try to be distinctive and individual.  No one would believe it now, but I was actually voted Most Original of my senior class!  My crazy Goth-girl-in-Catholic-school is not so pronounced these days…I think some of these traits have actually taken a back seat as I have aged. In my teens and early twenties, I think this would have easily been the dominant type.

Type 2:  The Helper

The Caring, Interpersonal Type:

Demonstrative, Generous, People Pleasing, and Possessive

On my good days and in my heart of hearts, I do really love being generous.  I love writing letters, giving thoughtful gifts, and trying to lift people up. I call these kinds of activities “soul-feeding” for me. I have learned in recent years that time and attention are some of the greatest gifts I can give people I love and care about, even people I hardly know who may be in need.  (And, I do have a bowl of candy in my work space at all times, just like the description states!)  All of these go along with being a Type 2.

But I do know at times in my life I have wandered into unhealthy territory with this tendency.  As I said in a recent conversation with Chick 1, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”   I’ll write more about this comment in an upcoming post, but for now I’ll just say I have, at times, sacrificed my own health (physical, mental, emotional) to put the needs of others first.  I am still working on how to balance my personal needs with those of others.  I’ll also reluctantly admit to being possessive or jealous at times. I have to adjust my inner soundtrack to keep this tendency in check.

I do think it’s funny that my top two appear to be opposites.  An individualist, but who likes to take care of others.  But then I think, I have a hard time accepting care and help from others.  (I dish it but I often can’t take it!) Go figure.

Type 9: The Peacemaker

The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type:

Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent

This is the person I am at work, more than any other place. I aspire to be easygoing.  When I left my last job, my boss described me as “steady.” That I was a calm, reassuring presence.  That I never seemed to get too ruffled.  This was a huge surprise to me, since my busy mind is often racing and worried.  I do strive to be a peaceful presence, while hiding the storm and insecurities inside.  And the Type 9 tendency to be creative, again, isn’t lost on me.

A more negative side of this is my tendency to avoid conflict at all costs.  I often worry about conflicts being the end of a relationship.  Some of the feelings and experiences I fear the most are being disconnected from the people I care about. So, I avoid conflict for long periods of time only to explode “out of the blue.”  Embracing conflict as a natural part of relationship and even as a step to growing to deeper connection and understanding is one of my challenges.

At the end, the description tells me to embrace exercise as a way to work through some aggressions.  Thanks, CrossFit!

This is a very different top 3 than Chick 1.  In fact, I giggled when my absolute-dead-last-barely-registered-on-the-scale Type was, you guessed it, Type 8, The Challenger, which is Chick 1’s dominant type.  The other two on the bottom were the remainder of her top 3, the Enthusiast and the Achiever.  I’ve mentioned before how people say we are an odd pair.  Well, in this regard they are definitely right! Exact polar opposites.

More on what those Enneagrams paired together might teach the Chicks in a future post.  In the mean time, I’ll be over here filling up my cup so it can runneth over for others, lifting heavy stuff so I can deal with others with a lighter hand, and being artsy-craftsy in my original / expressive way.

 

Did you take Chick 1’s Enneagram challenge?  What did you learn about yourself and how you might be the best version of YOU?  Share with us in the comments!