Friday, November 22

Zeal on

"The flesh is willing. It is the spirit that is most often weak." - Dr. George Sheehan

These shoes rocked it today.

It was cold, but sunny. A mild wind, but mostly at my back. When I set out, I didn't want to run. My will was crazy weak. But next Thursday, I cross another "something new" off my list - the Berbee Derby Thanksgiving Day run - and it's a 10K. Not my first 6-miler, but it's my first time at this race and I don't want to be unprepared.

I couldn't blow off yet another run because I'd have to bundle up. Or because I don't have time.

I've written before about my struggle with discipline. Running doesn't just suffer from this personal malady; other things in my life fall victim to my free-spirit self colliding with my determined self. And by "free-spirit self," I generally mean my "avoidance self" but the former sounds better than the latter.

Sometimes I am just not feeling it.

I read this great article this week that made me more aware of a probable cause of my lack of momentum at times: No enthusiasm.

"It is from a lack of enthusiasm that the failures of the spirit multiply during the day. ... To succeed at anything, you need passion. You have to be a bit of a fanatic. If you would move anyone to action, you must first be moved yourself." - Dr. George Sheehan

Holy truth, Batman.

The article goes on to explain how we all seem to have this passion as kids, then tend to lose it as we grow and embrace the "herd mentality," learning herd rules and herd regulations. As we get older, we grow confidently in our ability to leave the herd behind. The author points out that many people seem to walk away in their '50s and '60s, but there are the lucky ones who edge out on their own at much younger ages. They find their unique path before their twilight years.

And that's the tug I've been feeling for awhile now. What about you? What areas of your life could use a kick in the pants? What passions are you letting simmer, when they could boil over into something great with a little attention?

"I am - just as you are - a unique and never-to-be-repeated event in this universe. Therefore I must have - just as you have - a unique, never-to-be-repeated role in this world." - Dr. George Sheehan

Go live it up, people. Zeal on!

Monday, November 18

Bring on the magic

The snow fell last week.

It was a dusting, really, but nonetheless the unofficial signal to start the holiday season. Which I am a little weirded out by, since I Am Not Ready. That sentence was truly worth all the capital letters. I haven't started a single list, don't know how much money I have to spend, have no idea how we will get everything done. There's no plan.

I wonder when the holidays first started happening about three months before they actually are supposed to happen. Has it always been like this? Am I only noticing it now because I am an adult, and my job is to make it magical for my kids?

I am determined to make my holidays this year, rather than them making me. You know how it is ... you get caught up in all the shopping and the planning and the hub-bub, and you see the days fly by so fast that you can't wait until its over for the pace to slow down. I don't want to breeze through this time of year. I want to savor it like a child does. To love all the Christmas movies and songs. To take part in all the festivities. To feel the moments of sheer joy that only this season brings.

I want it to be magical.

Perfect? Hardly. I'm OK with moments of glory that I can live in 'til next year's season. How about you?

On another note entirely: I was a little slow last week on tackling my 40-by-40 list, but I did manage to check something off.

3. Pay for the person behind you in a drive-though.

I know. This is really my first time. Some of you do this all the time, which is a beautiful thing. I don't know why I was nervous to do this before. Strange, but true. So, here's the cool thing: I went to the new Starbucks in town, which has its busy moments, but I have been the only one in line plenty of times. I knew there was a good chance someone wouldn't pull in behind me, so I prayed that this act would be a blessing to someone, and for God to put the person who needed it most behind me.

And wouldn't you know it, someone pulled in right after me. There's something else. I had found a gift card in my wallet today, but didn't think I had anything left on it, or at least not enough left for two orders. Turns out I had way more than I thought, so I didn't have to pay in cash. Sweet, right?

Can't wait to check off more giving deeds between now and April. If you want to join me and have some ideas, let me know!

Finally - for you Sun Prairians out there - the Spirit of Giving program is NOW OPEN for matching. Oh yeah, baby! Get online and pick a family of kiddos to sponsor for Christmas. So many needs are being met through this program. We've had a lot of requests this year for items like bedding, winter coats, diapers, etc. And of course, we have some little ones with cute toy requests! Click HERE to reach the website.

I love this time of year, friends. Let's make some magic happen!

Friday, November 8

1 and 2, done and done!

I did it! I crossed numbers 1 and 2 off my 40 by 40 list!

Actually, it was more like I completed "number 17" and one item that just made this list, but the point is I tried two new things.

My list has only 20-odd items on it right now, so plenty of room for creativity as I move through the next few months. No big rules here; that's not my style. Checking things off IS my style, though, so this feels like a good start.

So in the spirit of being held accountable, here's what I did:

1. Try a new cuisine 
Most people who know me know I will eat just about anything ... which is precisely the opposite of Scott ... but I don't typically venture into a wide variety of ethnic cuisine when I go out to eat. But not last night! I had a dinner date with a friend, and we decided to try something entirely new. We went to Himal Chuli in Madison for some Nepalese cuisine. The postage stamp-sized restaurant is tucked away on State Street, and is one I normally would have passed up. But it was really good! Not the type of food I would want all the time, but definitely something I could have the occasional craving for. We tried the samosas (vegetable pastries), the dal (bean soup), and the momocha (dumplings). Oh, and the chai tea - which I wouldn't normally enjoy because I'm a coffee girl, but it was pretty good (not as good as the old-fashioned we had afterward at Nostrano's, though!)

The evidence:

2. Do a random run
I've lived in my neighborhood for 9 years. I've lived in Sun Prairie for almost 15 years. I've run all over this little community training for various distances. There are stretches of time when this drives me totally batty. I wanted to feel energized again, so today I literally closed my eyes, turned around 3 times, and pointed to a map of Madison. Where my finger landed, I was going to run today.

a wonderful random pick, eh?
Now, there are parts of Madison that I was hoping my finger wouldn't find. Luckily, I pointed right to Maple Bluff, which is a little sliver of beauty on one of Madison's lakes. I couldn't have picked a prettier run, really. I parked down by Tenney Park and ran 3 miles along the shore. When I arrived I noticed some storage pods and no parking signs, and then I remembered ... the Madison Marathon is this weekend. Kind of sweet to run some of the route those brave souls will be attempting on Sunday.

All in all, a great run. Slump broken.

In other news - I am also so, so excited right now because the Spirit of Giving program that I help manage alongside some other fantastic volunteers is kicking into gear BIG time. Right before my run, I picked up half of the 193-letter pile we received this week ... all of these applications from families who have asked us to sponsor their children for Christmas. YES! Last year, this number would have freaked me out, but already we have 500 of these children sponsored by some generous churches and local organizations. Already. For real, this program is so inspiring. Much more on this later ...

Make the weekend magical!

Sunday, November 3

40 by 40

Man, I have really missed this.

It's been awhile. Two whole months. I took time off from blogging to unplug and prepare for what's usually an epic season of our life. And it was good. I learned the fine art of being still. I practiced being more disciplined. Believe me when I say this is no small feat. And during this time, I felt less rushed and more at peace than I remember for most Septembers.

But maybe I should have started back sooner.

Sometime in October, I fell into a valley. It was a hard place for me. It was cold, lonely, quiet. Every small disappointment felt magnified. My Godfidence was waning with each day. He felt absent, and I felt the distance acutely.

Mind you, nothing traumatic had happened to jumpstart these feelings. In fact, I can rattle off a list of blessings a mile long. But the thing is, nothing was happening at all. No change, no variety, no movement with anything. I hit the peak of what I could handle during a fun girl's weekend (such bad timing, right?) when one more minor disappointment had occurred, and before I buried the feelings so they wouldn't overtake my night, I muttered to a friend, "Have you ever felt like you were going nowhere?"

That's the first time I really realized what had been bothering me for weeks. The feeling of being stuck. Since I've started this blog, I had this venue to help me uncover what I'm feeling. Without it, it took loads longer.

So I'm back to writing again.

And soon, I'll be back to me again.

At church today, we watched a video with a touching backstory about a new song. The artist made reference to feeling disconnected from God during a very dark time in her life, but that she kept pressing on, kept believing in His promises, kept holding to truths -- especially when she didn't feel like it. When it felt like more a motion than an emotion.

When we're bold enough to do this, we will feel God in us again. That's a guarantee.

So back to feeling like I'm going nowhere. If I take one step in a new direction, that's somewhere. That's something, even if it doesn't feel like much progress. Eventually, it will feel real again. I know this.

In this spirit, I have issued myself a challenge. Do 40 new things by the time I'm 40. I've got 26 weeks. Loads of time, but not so much that I can let it slide. And by "new things" I don't necessarily mean crazy things. Folks, I'm not skydiving.

And I don't mean things that are only about me. In fact, I'd love for most of my 40 things to be about others. Small adventures that bring joy.

I've started a list, but it's pretty small, which means there's room to add to the fun. If you want to try something new and you're looking for someone to take along on the journey, let me know! I love a great idea.

And yep, I'll certainly report back here. On all 40. Maybe there will be four in one week; maybe I'll go a few weeks without anything to share from that piece of my journey. And just maybe I'll encounter God in a way I never have before.

Small steps, but steps nonetheless. Let's go somewhere.