cupsrunningover

Encouragement for this "run" we call life, because as C. S. Lewis said, "If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else".


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Chair Whispers (The day a bunch of 5th graders made me cry)

GOTR "words"

GOTR “words”

You know those things you sign up for thinking you are going to “help” in some way? You may do it out of a true desire to “serve” or a desire to be less selfish, to give back, to show gratitude for what you have.  You may do it out of guilt, or because “everyone else is” and it’s the “cool” thing to do or the “uncool” thing to NOT do….or you may have gotten roped into doing something you have no desire to be a part of for whatever thousands of reasons we do and don’t do things.

But!  Then you show up.  And you do “it” whatever “it” is.  And it’s weird and scary and confusing and awkward, and you wonder how in the heck you can justify being there for “free” when there are a million other things you could be doing.  Your mind wanders, which makes you more confused and uncomfortable.  But you push through, for whatever the reason you keep showing up.  And then it happens, and it’s almost always around the words.

She asks you a question.  He looks at you with questioning eyes, asking for help.  He smiles a shy “thanks” as you pass him a plate; she swipes away a tear as you move on to the next person.  He asks you what your kids’ names are; she presses a handmade card into your hand; he runs over for a “high 5”.  And you are hooked on this feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself.  You get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in a world where you are valued and noticed for what you bring to others when you show up, a world where everything is so…well..not all about you.   And for a few minutes/hours each day/week/month, you get to live outside yourself and melt into a world where you are just a planet-dweller, helping another planet-dweller, who might need a little of what you have to share that day.

Overly sappy?  Maybe.  True? Absolutely.

This has happened so many times that it no longer surprises me.   It happened when I was a part of Vacation Bible Schools and mission trips as a teenager.  It happened when I coached Girls on the Run (GOTR) in 2012, when I went to Guatemala last year and when serving as a medical volunteer at the Special Olympics.  It happens when babysitting or “woMANning” a booth.   It happens anytime I volunteer to work even a few hours in a serving capacity, whatever it may be.  There is always a moment when someone “gives” me something, a smile, a hug, a gift, a word, something that usually takes my breath away in the moment as time stands still…….and then it all picks up and the second hands start sweeping again. Granted, I know that by being present and doing the actual work of whatever is required that day, we are helping people.  I don’t mean to discount that.  But I do mean to make the point that what I learn and take away from these types of experiences is ALWAYS more than anything I feel like I give. 

As we are gearing up for another Girls on the Run season, I was reminded of the most recent time this happened to me.  The final lesson of this last season included the “Word Chair” activity.  I remembered this activity from previous coaching, and because I am a WORD person, I was alert to what this activity might do for the girls.  See, I know the power of words, the ones we say to ourselves and the ones we say to others and most definitely the ones others say to us. We’d been with these girls all season and had grown to look forward to seeing them, what they would say, how they would identify with the lesson.  We’d grown to like these girls, and I intentionally say like, because it’s more personal than love to me in situations like this.

For the activity, each girl takes a turn sitting in “the chair” with her back to the rest of the group waiting across the yard.  When it’s your turn, all of the other girls and coaches quietly run up to you, whisper a word or phrase in your ear they think describes you, and quietly runs back to the line.  It’s a way for the girls to express some of the core values of the organization, things like joy and confidence.  Like being proud of who you are, being intentional in your choices, and feeling empowered to change your life and the world in the ways that you can uniquely do.  (Seriously if you don’t know about Girls on the Run, you should take the time to check it out, if every girl in America (and the world) could learn these lessons at THIS age, our world would be a very different place.)  The lesson made it clear that coaches had to take a turn in the chair, and so Brenda and I did just that.  Despite knowing the power of these activities and believing and basing my whole life on the power of words, I had so much going on in my head that day (last class, don’t forget announcements, get handouts to parents, is everyone ready etc to infinity) that I sat down for my turn without really preparing.  Which was not so much a mistake as it was a jarring emotional bodyslam.

“Your smile makes me happy”.  “Encouraging”.  “Inspiring”.  “Show us you care”.  “Believe in Me”.  “Beautiful”.  “Fun”.  “The best coach ever”.  “My friend”.  “Great coach”.   “My favorite”.  “Love to see you”.  “Make me believe I can do anything”.  “Make me see I am a good person”.  “Make me believe I can run”.  “Confidence giver”.  “Best coach ever”.

WHAT THE WHAT?  These are 3rd-5th grade girls, that I spent time with for less than 4 hours a week for 12 weeks.  Barely enough time to even get the lessons done most days.  Long enough to have a couple of days where I showed up in “not the best” mood and worried that would show through.  Short enough to wonder if they had gotten what they needed to complete the course.  But this?  This is what they learned from and saw in ME?  (And it wasn’t just me, the other coaches got these sweet words too!).  It made me cry so hard I couldn’t turn around for a bit.  I was trying really hard not to go into the back-wrenching sobs that would have set Brenda off again (we’d already had one emotional “circle-moment” earlier.  Not that GOTR is all about crying, don’t be scared!)

What I realized AGAIN, this time through whispered voices of girls who weren’t all yet in double digits, is that our WORDS MATTER.  They matter SOOOOO much you guys.  Like maybe more than anything.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I am coming to realize more and more that this is actually my “message”.  The thing I am most passionate about.  I’ve seen what GOOD words can do and I’ve seen what BAD words can do.  I’ve seen words give life and hope to people and I’ve seen words take away those very things.  Often it doesn’t take many words at all to do either of these, which is perhaps the saddest and greatest part of the power of words.  They don’t take tons of time to share, but they can always be used to build.

Think of all the places you go everyday (even if that’s mostly within your house) you can use your words to build, encourage, inspire, educate, shed light, share information, motivate and validate.  I was talking to my friend Lori just yesterday about this and she shared a recent time where she had the chance to CHOOSE to connect with someone at work.  A person she initially resisted engaging with.  She intentionally pushed through that and made him laugh, which in turn led to an interaction that changed HER day.   What if we all considered that a little more carefully?  What if we thought a little more about the words we say, and just as much (if not more) about the words we don’t say.  What if we resisted saying those words that we KNOW are going to push, irritate, discourage, deny or kill, whether in the words themselves or in the ways we say them to those we know best how to hurt.  What if we just did that?  Who needs your words?  Is it hard for you?  You aren’t alone.  But I know some 5th graders who have some skills you might learn from.

GOTR07

Photo credit Jenna McConaughy

 


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An Interrupted Confession (or why you should not read Brene’ Brown and Jen Hatmaker at the same time)

I lied to Jen Hatmaker.

Ok, so let me explain.  I didn’t exactly “lie”, I just sort of applied for something (to get advanced copy of her new revised book INTERUPPTED) even though I didn’t meet the criteria to apply (blog 4 times a month for the last 6 months).  My thought process honestly was this: “If they don’t want to pick me, when they see I don’t post quite that often, they won’t.  If they don’t have enough people apply though (HA- who was I kidding?), maybe they’ll make exceptions and they’ll pick me.  I’ll never know if I don’t try.”  So, because these days I am all about putting it out there and seeing what comes back, I quickly filled out the application that was limited to 250 people, and I hit “submit”.  Then I forgot about it.

Until I was CHOSEN. 

I realized then they trusted us to not apply if we didn’t meet the criteria, and what was I thinking? They were going to have a team of people read through our blogs and “make sure”?  Seriously.  I felt really bad for an entire day.  Then I started reading INTERRUPTED again, (devoured it in an afternoon,) and remembered WHY I started LOVING Jen (that’s what her pretend BFFs call her, right?) in the first place.  It wasn’t “7” that won me over, although I did read that first and loved it, but it was INTERRUPTED that gave her a forever place in my (blogging) heart.  I made some space for her beside my other BFF bloggers Kristin Armstrong and Shauna Niequist and she has stayed there since, inspiring me in my actions, faith and writing, inspiring me to live my life with integrity so that what I “say” is what you “see”.

But I digress (slightly.)  (While we are “digressed”, if you don’t know who Jen Hatmaker is, you might want to stop, click her name and check her out.  She’s guaranteed to make you think, laugh out loud and say “me too!” no matter what your life looks like.  Seriously.  I rarely read her blogs without laughing and feeling inspired. So go ahead.  Back?  Ok- proceed.)

The purpose of the book giveaway was to help Jen get the word out about the release of the revised version of INTERRUPTED, which in her words is “the book of my heart.”  So I determined (in order to assuage and re-frame my “guilt”) that I would use this as a catalyst to aim (AGAIN) to post weekly both as a commitment to my writing and a commitment to share more with those of you who kindly read my words.  Without further ado, here are a few of MY words on why YOU should read Jen’s words!  They are support for anyone who has felt a call to do something a little “crazy” in the way that life-changing truthful words always are.

I haven’t written in-depth about how I wound up where I am now, namely out of the Army and a full-time (or even part-time) medical career, spending my days doing things I want to do that pay absolutely nothing beyond the intangible benefits of helping others and improving health and all without a clear sense of “what’s next”.  Perhaps because I’m reading “Daring Greatly” by Brene’ Brown and vulnerability is on my mind, or perhaps because I was recently at the World Domination Summit with my friend Sara and thousands of like-minded people, or perhaps I’m sun-struck or sleep-deprived or peace un-deprived or some combination of these but the truth is, I knew without a hint of a doubt that all of those changes above were the right ones for me.  I was emerging on the other side of some hard years of stress, exhaustion and “un-health” in every aspect of my life.  I was reading a lot of words about simplicity and de-cluttering and authentic living.  I had purposely put myself in places to interact with people who were unloved, unwanted, seemingly “unproductive” members of society as well as those living in poverty and hopelessness.  I had interacted with people who devoted their lives to helping these people and had seen a light and happiness in them that I did not see in myself or most of the people I interact with daily.  I had come to terms with the new knowledge that the military and medicine were no longer places that strengthened me as a person and a planet-dweller. (As an aside, this is in no way meant to indicate they CAN’T be that for others, just that for me they no longer were.)  For 2014, I felt strongly that I was (am) supposed to use my time investing in relationships-spending time with people in whatever ways that may look like, and trusting that my future “path” would show itself beneath me when I took that first step onto it.

Digression (is this number 3?): I recognize some of you just MIGHT be rolling your eyes a bit right now, and I get it….but it doesn’t change the fact that it is truth for me.  If you know me, you probably know that my faith is very important to me, the most important relationship I invest in and I felt clearly that this journey was initiated by my friend Jesus.  If you are tempted to stop reading right now, would you do me a favor?  Since we are friends? In the spirit of the words of Ghandi (who said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians), in place of every time you hear/read/think “Christian” (especially if that has a negative connotation for you), would you replace that word with “Jesus-follower?”  I have yet to meet anyone in all my life that has anything negative to say about Jesus, so as my friend, I’d be totally psyched if you kept reading.  (And I’d be REALLY excited to hear your thoughts down in the comments below).

When I read INTERRUPTED the first time, it was just as I was making moves in the direction of these changes, which was pretty dang scary.  Then, suddenly Jen came along and gave a name to what I was feeling, INTERRUPTED (in the largest sense possible) and her words sort of metaphorically held my hand as I kept making each tiny decision.

Words like “I am so done with being enslaved to the elusive top rung” and “I hate who I have to be to live there [at the top].  I hate the biblical two-step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling.  I hate the posturing up there.  I can’t stand the fear of heights, since falling is a constant danger…I detest the fear that haunts every decision.”   How about these words? “It is shockingly peaceful down there [at the bottom].  It’s much quieter.  The chaos of ego and pride recedes.  It’s, well, kind of still and beautiful.  I find myself exhaling and thinking less about the race going on up higher.  Releasing the compulsion to be right, to be respected. To be understood, to be winning, if not natural, it’s certainly a relief.”  YES.  Just Yes.

These next words ESPECIALLY resonate with me because I feel their truth deep down in my heart and I’ve seen their truth in the faces and bodies of my patients and their families (and my friends and myself): “They [the poor] already live at the bottom, in Jesus’ zip code.  I suppose that’s why Americans are the richest people on the planet but plagued with depression, suicide and loneliness.  We’re furthest from the freedom that exists only at the bottom, and money can’t buy that liberation.”

But these next words were the ones that did it for me, words straight from Jen’s hand to my heart.  She even calls me “dear” (ok I replaced “good” with “dear” but I don’t think she’d mind!):
Perhaps this applies to you, too, good reader.  God may be leading you away without a clear final destination yet.  As maddening as that is, could it be that He needs you to release what was before you can appropriately grasp what will be?  Could it be that you might accidentally squash the lovely vision if you obtain it too soon?  There is a horrid beauty in following God slightly blind.  The victory later is sweeter, the prize more valuable than breath.” 

What?  It’s like she knew just what I needed to hear then (and even now as I reread the revised version). A reminder that 1) I’m not alone.  2) Left to my own devices, I usually plan and “squash” the life out of things and 3) although I am in the “horrid beauty” phase, there is goodness down the path.

I do not think this book is for everyone.  Not that everyone COULDN’”T read it, just that it says some truly unconventional, un-“American”, un-easy things and not everyone will want to hear them.  What I love is that she does not tell us WHAT to do with the life we have, but she points out what might bring more meaning and peace to our lives and it’s not always having, doing, being “more.”  Regardless of your job, background, demographic, reading tastes or age there is something in this book that would make you think and I “think” we can all agree that is a good thing.

I’m not sure if Jen is going to forgive me. Based on reading her books, and hearing her speak twice this year (even though I MISSED taking a picture with her because I was in the bathroom and Karen was texting me to “get here now” but they cut the line off RIGHT BEFORE my turn) I know she has a heart of grace.  I know she is a generous soul (she gave us an e-copy AND a hard copy of INTERRUPTED), so I think my chances are looking pretty good.

I would truly love to hear anything you have to say about this post, this book, Jen Hatmaker, Jesus, military medicine, top-dwelling, lying on the internet or pretty much anything else you want to say.  Truly.  I think any writer would tell you when you write, about one millisecond after you hit “submit” you panic and want to take it all back!  (Brene’ Brown has taught me that is the effect of shame and vulnerability is a “good” thing).  So any words of response are generally helpful in bringing air back into your lungs.  (Even hard words swoop your mind back into “function” mode).  And seriously, maybe more than any post I’ve written, I’m interested in your thoughts.

Lastly, in the spirit of Jen’s forgiveness (just go with me here), I’d love to give my “hard” (it’s actually paperback) copy of INTERRUPTED to one of you guys who is still reading this far (thank you!).  Let me know in the comments below if you want it and why, and I’ll figure out some fancy way to pick who gets it! In addition, (her generosity continues), if you want to order your own copy, you can get it for 20% off at this link through Aug 10th.


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(June)/July Words I Wish I Wrote that I Wrote Down (in my journal)

Hi friends!

When I started this year of travel and spending time with people with the intentional intention of not working full-time (or even part-time; I actually call it “super part-time” to patients), I knew that June would be busy; summer vacation is a busy travel time so I volunteered to work a little extra. Then somehow July turned into a month of work, travel, catching-up, conferences, visitors, weddings and parties and such and suddenly it’s August!

But August- now that is a month I’ve been looking forward to. There’s not a ton of travel on the schedule, there aren’t a lot of work days and it’s still ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL in the Pac NW. The running trails are gorgeous, the sun is beaming down, the flowers are still exploding and there is time to sit and read with a glass of water or wine on the beach. Yep, August I am ready for.

I’m starting out the month with my only trip that required a flight, and I’m currently sitting on the porch of an adorable cabin on a lake at Fort Rucker, AL where my friend Christina is learning all about how to be a flight surgeon. Her daughter Alexa is quite possibly the most adorable and intelligent three year old girl I know (I can get away with saying this since none of our nieces are exactly three!), and she and I have been having a simply lovely time while mom is at “work”. So far we’ve done about 6,000 arts and crafts, we’ve played games and puzzles, been swimming (it’s SOOOOOO hot, and she can swim independently now she would like you to know), been bowling (dear Lord she truly only lost by 2 points and that was because two of her balls were too slow to actually make it all the way down the lanes) and played “beauty shop” (could I borrow anyone’s child ever to just sit and brush my hair all the live-long day? Seriously?!). As a funny little side note, for some reason in the midst of the first morning when we were getting to know each other again, I affected a British accent that has since been requested to be present at all times. (I blame my dad, maybe Robyn a bit too. See! I just said “bit”- that is so not the same as “little” and most definitely more “English” sounding, right?). Truly, it’s an AWFUL attempt – some sort of mix between what I THINK Mary Poppins, Liza Doolittle and my GPS navigator voice might sound like if they were morphed together and had a bad cold. Seriously, no seriously, it’s awful, but it has become quite funny (see, again, who says “quite”?)

In the interest of wanting to not give you 200 quotes, I pared it down a bit from these last two months worth of collectable words. There are a couple of conferences I’ve been to with enough quotable words for a post all their own, and I’ll get to that eventually (really I will- the World Domination Summit was AMAZING). These are the ones who made the cut for this time- and as usual there seems to be a theme as I read over them. Oddly enough (but not really) it is right along the lines of things I’ve been thinking about and working on in my life. Things like being present in the moment I’m in, and learning to let go of always trying to do more and be more, and instead do and be where I am no matter how big or small that may feel. Things like celebrating others instead of always trying to be the one celebrated. Things like learning that when we are helping others and focusing outside ourselves is actually when we are most healthy, productive, in synch with ourselves and the world and yes, “happy”.

So, playing Connect 4 with imaginary girls while spending lazy days in my PJs ’til 10 am seems just about right. I’d love to hear which words (below or otherwise) are speaking to you these days, so let me know in the comments if you like. You’ll have to excuse me for now though- we have a date to go and find some fairies! You do know the first rule in fairy-finding, right?

You have to believe!!

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.
Zig Ziglar

Let the refining and imporoving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others.
Joe LeRoy

You’re glorifying something when you find it beautiful for what it is in itself.
Tim Keller

Friendship is a place where our hearts don’t have to wrok quite so hard to be heard and understood nd accepted.
Stasi Eldredge

God has planted certain things within you, and you must wait for them to take root and grow…With God, a delay is not a denial.
Bob Gass

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
Karl Barth

I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptation. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc., don’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time…The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up.
C.S. Lewis

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
John F. Kennedy

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Maya Angelou

The temperament that produces a talent for little things is the opposite of that required for great ones.
La Rochefoucauld

If people knew what Matisse, supposedly the painter of happiness, had gone through, the anguish and tragedy he had to overcome to manage to capture that light which has never left him, if people knew all that, they would also realize that this happiness, this light, this dispassionate wisdom which seems to be mine, are sometimes well-deserved, given the severity of my trials.
Henri Matisse

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

To love for the sake of being loved is human, but to love for the sake of loving is angelic.
Alphonse de Lamartine

There is always the need to carry on.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Other people’s faults are like bees—if we don’t see them, they don’t harm us.
Luis Vigil

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.
Viktor Frankl

Life is too challenging for external rewards to sustain us. The joy is in the journey.
Bradley Whitford

To be content with little is hard; to be content with much, impossible.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

There can be no joy in living without joy in work.
St Thomas Aquinas

Hope is the only bee that makes honey without flowers.
Robert Ingersoll

Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.
Soren Kierkegaard

Every noble work is at first impossible.
Thomas Carlyle

Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it.
Madeleine L’Engle

The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.
Thurgood Marshall

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Arthur Ashe

Once in those very early days my brother brought into the nursery the lid of a biscuit tin which he had covered with moss and garnished with twigs and flowers so as to make it a toy garden or a toy forest. That was the first beauty I ever knew. What the real garden had failed to do, the toy garden did. It made me aware of nature- not, indeed, as a storehouse of forms and colors but as something cool, dewy, fresh, exuberant…As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden.
C.S. Lewis

People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I encounter every lesson in life on purpose.
Jadah Sellner

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Mother Teresa

There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.
Josh Billings

Action and feeling go together…by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling.
William James

No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.
Calvin Coolidge

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Margaret Wheatley

People hate as they love, unreasonably.
William Makepeace Thackeray

The divided life is a wounded life and the soul keeps calling us to heal the wound.
Parker Palmer

Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.
Stephen Covey

Progress begins with the belief that what is necessary is possible.
Norman Cousins

Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.
Dallas Willard

What is one’s personality, detached from that of the friends with whom fate happens to have linked one? I cannot think of myself apart from the influence of the two or three greatest friendships of my life, and any account of my own growth must be that of their stimulating and enlightening influence.
Edith Wharton

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.
J.K. Rowling

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.
Herman Melville

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, overcivilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
John Muir

The habit of being happy enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the dominance of outward conditions.
Robert Louis Stevenson

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An Amazing Average Post: Jessica Alexander Fields (Or how I wound in Bali with someone I “met” on Kickstarter).

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Jess with one of her sponsor children in Bali

If you are reading this post, you are one of two people: Either you know my friend Jess or you don’t. If you do, you probably don’t need to read this (but I hope you will!) and if you don’t, I really hope you WILL read this, because I think everyone’s life can be made a little bit better by knowing Jess.

[If you missed the introductory post where I explained why I am writing about Amazing Average people, you might want to take a minute to check it out here, and you can see a couple of the past “honorees” here and here. Jessica is one of the very people that inspired this idea because she truly is an “average” person doing amazing things….usually 5 or 6 of them at one time!]

Jess’s story is hers to tell, but I don’t think she’d mind me telling you that her path has not been always an easy one. She has known pain in many places and she has had hard days and hard years and she has been hurt. What I love most about Jess is that despite that, and I would say because of it, she is one of the most joyful people I know- and it’s a joy that’s contagious.

Jess is at heart an artist and an amazingly talented one at that. I “met” Jess when a common friend posted information about her Kickstarter project to start her new business “Nutti Yogini”, a yoga-inspired active wear line of clothes. Since that day, there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t have on SOMETHING that was created by Jess! It is so inspiring to hear her talk about her passion for her clothing line, because Jess is 100% committed to all of her clothing being 100% American made, down to the tiniest thread and button. This means that her prices are higher than some clothing lines who don’t share this commitment and she has had pressure to compromise in order to make a higher profit, but she has held on to her conviction and promise; I wear her clothes proudly (ok I’m basically a walking advertisement for her!)

Nutti Yogini wear

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You can climb mountains (or really big rocks) in Nutti Yogini clothes!

Jess is one of those unique people who is a blend of so many different things that somehow combine to make one amazing beautiful person. She is compassionate beyond words: if you are hurting or struggling, Jess is a friend who will cry with you and make you tea and then make you laugh. If you sit too long in the hurt, she’ll then gently but firmly remind you to get going again, and she’ll be right there to help you if you need her. Jess is honest about who she is and what she wants, and you never have to wonder what she means because Jess is beautifully authentic. She speaks up for herself and is direct and goal-oriented in a way that makes you want to sit up and take lessons. She is one of the hardest-working people I know, and to watch her get excited about her latest project or job is truly inspiring.  In beautiful contrast to this, Jess knows how to have fun, and to hear her laugh is one of my absolute favorite things.

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Another one of my favorite things about Jess is that she is truly a relational being. She is a caring and creative wife, “bonus mom”, daughter, friend, boss, mentor, co-worker and artist. (Of note, she is also a cat-lover and she’s such an amazing person in every other way, that I’ve even forgiven that!). She is always giving back out of what she has.  Whether it’s to her sponsor children we met in Bali or local girls who need a mentor and positive role-model, Jess isn’t afraid to give of herself and her blessings. I have watched her use words to encourage others in just the way they need it, and she showers around her love like she has an endless supply. She is quick to give and take advice and encouragement and I always come away from time with Jess feeling inspired and quietly refreshed.

In addition to creating super-cool clothes, Jess is an amazingly gifted jewelry artist. She was just voted Best Local artist for the third time in a row in the South Sound Magazine’s annual “Best of…” series.  Her pieces are each unique and lovely and carry a little piece of Jess’s personality and heart in them and I simply adore her work. The latest piece of Jess’s I bought right off her neck and I don’t think I’ve taken it off since!

Jess lives her life out loud- in a big bold beautiful sparkly way that makes you feel grateful just to know her. I try to always have a next “date” on the calendar with Jess, because she is a super-busy girl but I’m determined to continue to steal away a few moments every couple of months with her!

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Jess’s wedding- isn’t she a beautiful (artistic) bride?!

If you are interested in checking out some of Jess’s beautiful creations you can do that here: Nutti Yogini and here: Jessicaalexanderjewelry. I can promise you won’t regret any purchases you might be tempted to make, and in fact, the problem will be keeping yourself from buying more!  (Her new summer line was just released and it’s colorful and awesome, just as it always is!)

Thanks Jess for letting me a part of your beautiful life.  You truly are an amazing person and I am so honored to be your friend!

Mr and Mrs Fields

Mr and Mrs Fields


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May Words I Wish I Wrote that I Wrote Down (in my journal)

Life has been BUSY (with a capital B, U, S and Y) and I’ve been writing less as I’ve been living and celebrating and sharing and working and running and listening… a good kind of busy. I scheduled in some time to write today, so I’m back with some words for you. Almost every single one of these made me want to say “this one is my favorite” and since I can’t say they are ALL my favorite, I’ll just say these words were all good for me to hear last month. Maybe one speaks to you in a specific way- I’d love to hear which one and why! However, even if you just read and move on, here’s hoping one or some of these words make your day a little more sparkly!

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It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery “The Little Prince”

You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that ok? Your life does not get more right by chance, but by practical CHANGE.
Jim Rohn

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am.
Thomas Merton

Do you want to be a power in the world? Then be yourself.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I don’t want that girl- she plays dirty”
Aiden McCann (6 yo) in reference to the Queen of hearts while playing (beating) me and Pete at “9 card stud”

Some beautiful things are more dazzling when they are still imperfect than when they have been too perfectly crafted.
la Rochefoucauld

No effort is required to define or even attain happiness, but enormous concentration is needed to abandon everything else.
Quentin Crisp

The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree but to hold hands.
Alexandra Penney

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Jesus. (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Once you label me you negate me.
Soren Kierkegaard

One can often endure an extra pound of pain far more easily than we can suffer the withdrawl of an ounce of unaccustomed pleasure.
Sydney Harris

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
Shakespeare

No effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.
Helen Keller

No one is bored when he is trying to make something that is beautiful or to discover something that is true.
William Ralph Inge

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, and a little less than his share of the credit.
Arnold Glasow

Never cut what you can untie.
Joseph Soubert

The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you.
Jean de la Bruyere

One does not write what has already been written. One writes out of the storehouse of fresh revelation and his own personal knowledge gained through the painful experiences of growth. Ye cannot escape the growing experience without forfeiting the other. Ye shall cease writing if you cease learning. Ye do not learn as ye write, but write as ye learn.
Francis Roberts

There is nothing more genuine than breaking away from the chorus to learn the sound of your own voice.
Po Bronson
Measuring sticks always become weapons of self-harm.  And scales always lie. They don’t make a scale that ever told the truth about value, about worth, about significance.
Ann Voskamp

There can be no success or happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.
Freya Madeline Stark

A good example is far better than a good precept.
Dwight Moody

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Life is 10% about what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.
Charles Swindoll

I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord

Person to person, moment to moment, as we love, we change the world.
Samahria Lyte Kaufman

You can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul.
Lupita Nyong’o

We brag about the things that we think give us value.
Kathryn McIvor

You can not change the people around you, but you can change the people that you choose to be around.
Christine Caine

Only speak words that make souls stronger.
Ann Voskamp

The best portion of a good man’s life is his little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and of love.
William Wordsworth

In this world, you must be a bit too kind to be kind enough.
Pierre de Marivaux


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Word to the Words

Word to the Words

If you know me, you know I like to run.  I haven’t always liked to run but now it’s as much a part of me as my eye color (green) or my shoe size (which is quite large) or the fact that my favorite color is and always has been green.

You may have picked up on the fact that I also like to write, and more specifically that I love words, in any and all form.  I’ve written about that plenty before as well.

I am grateful to be able to combine my love of running and writing in the form of a new blog (Run For Your Life) over at my friend and running coach’s website, where I get the privilege of writing for my running friends and family (which hopefully many of you are!).  (If you missed the first post, you can see it here).  I am excited about all the upcoming ideas that people submitted on topics they want to hear/read about and am already working on many of them, but today I wanted to write about the importance of words in running.   Curious?  In the interest of efficiency, I’m writing an essay in response to the final “points challenge” of our recent “Diehards Challenge”.  Aren’t you even more curious?  Click on over and check it out here:

Run For Your Life: Word to the Words


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February Words I Wish I Wrote that I Wrote Down (in my Journal)

Happy afternoon!  In the last 24 hours here in Washington (in typical Pac NW “spring” fashion) there has been sunshine, drizzle, rain and hail so that makes for a cozy afternoon catching up on rest and reading after a busy month.  This month’s list of quotes is a little shorter than usual, perhaps in honor of the short month.  Few in number, they are however rich in meaning and many of them I have come back to again and again and they will go on my “lifetime favorites” list.  Wherever you are today, whatever you are doing, I hope one of these quotes encourages, inspires, surprises or comforts you.

 

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Picture taken by my dad

That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.
Willa Cather

Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance.
Charles A. Lindbergh

How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.
William James

Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
Reinhold Niebuh

Persons appear to us according to the light we throw upon them from our own minds.
Laura Ingalls Wilde

I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.
Benjamin Franklin

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Thomas Edison

Children think not of what is past, nor what is to come, but enjoy the present time, which few of us do.
Jean de La Bruyère

Extending your hand is extending yourself.
Rod McKuen

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.
Cavett Robert

Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.
Leo Tolstoy

Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.
Ralph Nader

Every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold when he is only sad.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.
Henry David Thoreau

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