I’ve struggled to decide how to recap the quest for a good luck charm. I don’t have one. I do pick up pennies when I see them…head’s up or not…and I enjoy seeing a rainbow as much as the next person but I don’t consider either of those things to be particularly lucky. When I think about being lucky it’s hard not to just talk about my family. I’m fairly sure droning on and on about what a great family you have is equivalent to showing someone all 400 of your vacation photos. Lucky, blessed, favored, charmed. Different people call it different things. So, let the record show that I’m lucky to have the family and friends that I have, to be healthy, and to have enough money for the things we need.
Instead of searching for one of the previously listed good luck symbols, I’ve decided to craft a new list of the things that make me feel lucky when I find them.
In no particular order:
Good parking spot
Last Coke in the fridge
No line at post office, bank, etc.
Desired shoes in the correct size (bonus if on sale)
No one in seat next to you on plane
Beautiful weather on day off
Wildlife sighting: bunny, deer, bird (sorry, robin, you only count after a long winter)
Photo of self that could be used on social media
No one waiting for library book you need to renew
Watching crucial TV episode before someone spoils it for you
There you have it. That’s what good luck looks like in my life. What about you? What things would make your own list? I find the more things in my life that I can label as being lucky the better. Luck is relative. I try to give myself permission to find the glass half full whenever I can. Some days it’s harder than others but nothing feels better than a sign that things are going your way.
Before you go…my family has adopted the saying, “we got here just in time”. We use it anytime we go somewhere and suddenly a lot of people show up after us. I suppose this makes us feel lucky but it also helps us emphasize the half-full glass. Never mind that the last time we went to PF Chang’s we waited an hour, this time, “we got here just in time”.
I set a goal for myself way back in January. Run a 5K. My first BIG challenge and I did it! Hours of boring time on the treadmill, miles on the road, a new pair of shoes, an assortment of hip stretches and exercises, a time-tested playlist, one running coach (thank you, Mona!) and a lot of good advice, guidance and support.
By the time Andrew and I rolled into Raleigh late Friday afternoon to pick up my race packet I was finishing up my final day as an employed librarian and fresh off of a wonderful send-off by my coworkers. I was a tad emotional, so it was nice to have this challenge to focus on. If you’ve ever participated in a large race series you know something about the Health and Fitness Expo: part packet pick-up, part museum gift-shop for the running set. I was first introduced to this type of event when I walked the Shamrock Half-Marathon in Virginia Beach. Andrew was unfamiliar with this particular aspect of the racing industry. I think he found it both exciting and a little overwhelming. It always makes me feel like I’ve wandered into an alternate universe where everyone is fit, motivated and runs for fun! Yikes. It is quite the spectacle, though, and served as my first reality check as to just what I had gotten myself into.
I tried hard to remind myself that I had earned the right to call myself a runner, to be a part of this. No one made me feel this way. I was battling myself and that disparaging little voice inside my head. I guess, I won that argument because the next morning I found myself in corral 8 waiting for the start of my first official 5K.
When I registered for the race I had to estimate my finish time. The time I gave was overly optimistic and so when I received my corral 6 assignment I was worried that I would be starting with much faster people. So, I ended up closer to corral 7 which then morphed into corral 8. However, it quickly became apparent not everyone was as worried about being in the correct corral. Walkers in the front corrals, sprinters in the back. I ended up running around people and stepping aside for others. When will I learn that time spent worrying is time wasted?
Once we actually started I could feel my anxiety release. It was a relief to finally get going. This was really no different from any other training run. It also served as a refreshing reminder that runners come in all shapes and sizes. I trained in coastal Carolina and the rolling hills of Raleigh provided a challenge to my run-the-whole-thing goal. But, I allowed myself to just relax and keep moving. As I climbed the first long, low hill I could hear Lee in my ear, “Accelerate up the hill when others slow down. That’s where you make up ground”. Which, I think is probably great advice if your goal is anything other than just surviving. I quickly realized that if I wanted to run most of the race I’d need to walk the hills. Luckily, there weren’t too many. I’d like to be clear here, Lee did not give me that advice for this particular race, I’ve just heard him say it before.
I can’t say the time went quickly but I played my regular playlist and pressed on. I know that part of the fun of the Rock ~n~Roll series is the live music but I needed my music. There was comfort in knowing how much time I had left in the race based on where I was in my playlist. I listened to music when I trained to walk my first half-marathon. It motivated me. Sometimes it was the only thing that motivated me, especially on the longer walks. The day before that race I picked up my race packet and I was instantly anxious when I realized that headphones were not allowed on the course. Now, I’m a rule-follower. It’s who I am. So, I followed the rules. You are already probably well ahead of me in this story and know, of course, that I was basically the only person who did NOT wear headphones during the race. I walked the entire 13.1 miles alone with my thoughts and without an accompanying soundtrack. Fun. I did that race again and, you are correct if you’ve guessed, that I listened to music that entire race. Sorry, that’s a long story just to say, not without my music! Never again.
One of the worries I had while I was training was my hip. When I first started I had some issues with my knees. Luckily, those were short-lived. Unfortunately, my right hip, or more precisely, my right IT band was not loving my transition from couch to 5k. I endured a lot of painful runs and even more painful days following runs. I became well acquainted with a foam roller and got better at stretching but many of my runs were still painful. So, I was more than pleasantly surprised that as I ran I had no hip pain. Maybe it was adrenaline. Maybe all of my preparation and foam work helped. Maybe I was just lucky. Doesn’t really matter. All I know is that running without hip pain is so much better than running with hip pain.
As much as I’d love to impress everyone with a remarkable time, I’ll be keepin’ it real.
I would have liked to have finished under 40 minutes, but I’m happy with the results. When I started this challenge I was more interested in finishing than in putting up a particular time, and finish I did. I will admit to being somewhat emotional as I made my way toward the race start. I’m a pretty unassuming person (not sure how that squares with writing a blog about my own life and expecting people to read about it–I’ll leave you to discuss that later) but I let myself feel a bit of pride and, dare I say, accomplishment for having even gotten to that point. Approaching the finish line my primary emotion was relief. Seeing my kids cheering me on motivated me to pass the lady running in front of me. I felt like I had a good final kick but my finish photo looks like I’m barely strolling! Ah, how the way we imagine ourselves doesn’t always align with reality. Kind of like how, in my head, I still look 30 and then I walk by a mirror. Don’t worry, young’uns, age will come for you, too!
The best part of the race? When it was over. Is that true for all runners? Does anyone actually enjoy the race during the race? I’m asking honestly. I’ve considered running another 5k, but upon reflection, I think I’ll stick to walking and leave the running to someone else. Thank you for your encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you. I told you I’d do it and because of that I did. My friend, Ofie, actually made the trip up to Raleigh and ran it, too! We didn’t find each other before the race but we caught up after. In fact, she took the photo of me “sprinting” across the finish line.
Can I admit now that there were several times during the process of completing this challenge that I was harboring some serious regrets? In the end, I’m glad I did it. This blog has served an interesting purpose in my life. It’s pushed me to push myself and I’m better for it. Unfortunately for you, dear reader, now that I’m officially unemployed, you’ll probably be hearing more from me. I can only spend so many hours a day cleaning out my garage. Thanks for reading along. If you’d like to get emails notifying you when a new post is published just click the FOLLOW button and do anything they ask you to…within in reason, of course.
Before you go…I’ve discovered that I’m an angry runner. You may be more familiar with this concept in reference to the term “angry drunk”. I myself am not an angry drunk. I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I would have even qualified as being drunk and I can tell you I’m more of a giggler than a jerk. But, during the course of training I discovered that the songs that motivate me the most during a run are not the fun, inspirational ones. Apparently, I run best with a chip on my shoulder. I need the Gym Class Heroes to tell me I’m a fighter, Busta Rhymes to yell at me, and Eminem to feed some unresolved respect issues I didn’t even know that I had. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I’m not sure I like it.
We are on a quest. A quest for luck to be precise. FIND YOUR LUCKY CHARM. I don’t really consider myself to be a particularly lucky person. I’m not unlucky but I’ve certainly never felt like I was destined to win the lottery or that a trip to Vegas would be anything other than a chance to catch a couple of shows and probably eat too much. And, that’s fine with me. I’ve somewhat held to the notion (fairly ridiculous upon re-examination) that any stroke of incredibly unlikely good luck (a one-in-a-million lottery purse) could make you just as likely to be plucked from the masses for an incredibly unlucky fate (being struck by lightning). The idea being that I’d rather be one of the many unremarkable folks moving through life managing an average amount of both good and bad luck. I’ll pass on the one-in-a-million opportunity because odds are it could be the bad one-in-a-million not the good.
I do believe you make your own luck in many situations. But, there are some people who just seem to be luckier than others. When our daughters were in grade school we used a common deciding tool for many everyday situations: the coin toss. Over time a unusual pattern developed, Rachel won-if not every toss-almost all of them. It got so bad that when we would even mention tossing a coin as a means to resolution Elisabeth would cry. Coin tosses became a thing of the past as we adopted a more, shall we say, flexible mode of decision: pick a number. I wouldn’t say that Rachel is any luckier in life than Elisabeth but she certainly had a way with a quarter.
Our guiding book suggests being “on the lookout for these 10 symbols of good luck”:
Let’s talk about some of these lucky symbols. Obviously, I will not be on the lookout for a rabbit’s foot. I’m embarrassed to admit that at some point during my childhood I won a rabbit’s foot keychain at the state fair and didn’t think one bit about it being awful or disgusting! Frankly, I can’t believe it’s still on this list. Thanksgiving was the big day for the wishbone. That’s a pretty disgusting one, too. Really kind of a messed up version of making a wish after blowing out your birthday candles. But, you have to battle for the chance to make the wish. I had no idea that bamboo was considered good luck. Maybe lucky symbols are regional? In Oklahoma, you get a rabbit’s foot and in Florida you get bamboo? Does bamboo even grow in the US? It might be tricky to find. Does it count if you buy it at the store?
Do you have a good luck charm? A lucky number? I am partial to the number 10, probably like everyone else born on the 10th. Does anyone have a lucky number that isn’t the number of their birthday? Do you have a superstitious routine required before you complete a particular task? Superstitions and luck are close relatives. I’m a knock-wood and fingers-crossed type of person. I’ll admit it. I say them without even thinking about it! I’m not sure that I know what I consider to be my good luck charms. Join me as I try to determine what I think brings me good luck. Keep your eyes open for some of these good luck symbols. Let me know if you come across any along the way and maybe together we can find all ten! I mean, all nine…you know which one we are skipping.
Before you go…did you know that your odds of being struck by lightning during a single year are 1 in 960,000. Your odds of being struck by lightning twice in your lifetime are 1 in 9 million, which is still a higher chance than winning on of those giant Powerballs!
Today is my 49th birthday. I’m not embarrassed to say that I love my birthday. I’m also not embarrassed to tell people my age. I’ll take every birthday I can get and wear them proudly. Because it’s my birthday, and I share it with Chuck Norris…you read that right, Chuck Norris, I decided that I would recap some of the things I’ve learned since this adventure began a little over two months ago. So in no particular order:
1. If you want to ensure you do something, tell a lot of people. This is not new but I believe this is the first time I’ve really put it into practice. One day, I was talking to my sister on the phone and I said I had to go and get on the treadmill. She said, “I wish I could make myself do that.” Well, tell a bunch of people you are going to run a 5K and you can.
2. I can run for 22 minutes straight. That might not seem like a lot but, trust me when I speak for non-runners, that it feels like a long time. The Couch to 5K program starts by alternating walking with jogging for small amounts of time that increase in duration. Now, I just run, no walking breaks. And I can do it. I am decidedly a turtle on the course but slow and steady wins the race…or at least allows me to run without stopping. If you are interested in starting to run, I highly recommend the Couch to 5K app.
3. Just because your first cake from scratch turns out ok doesn’t mean your next one will.
4. I’m delighted and embarrassed that people read the blog. It’s amazing how contradictory a single set of feelings can be. I work hard to make the posts relatable and hopefully enjoyable so why, when someone mentions they read it, do I feel like crawling under the covers. I’m incredibly honored that you read the blog even if I turn bright red if you talk to me about it. Please keep reading AND telling me you read it.
5. Get out of your own way. Putting yourself out there is scary. I’m a private person. Starting a blog and trying to honestly convey my thoughts and feelings about life is not really in my comfort zone. I think it’s safe to say that feeling vulnerable or, more likely, avoiding feeling vulnerable is the cause of a lot of fear and anxiety. While I’ve enjoyed writing each of the posts, when it’s time to push that publish button my inner critic goes into full gear. “Why would anyone want to read this?” “You are embarrassing yourself.” “No one reads this anyway.” I’m sure you have a similar voice that speaks to you when you put yourself out there. Stop listening to it.
Before you go…I also share a birthday with Carrie Underwood, my fellow Oklahoman; Martellus Bennett, a professional football player and owner of The Imagination Agency which is dedicated to encouraging kids to pursue their dreams; and Jon Hamm-good looking AND funny! Just to keep it real I feel compelled to mention that Osama bin Laden was also born on March 10. Unfortunately that’s usually the way life works. If you get Chuck, you also get Osama.
I’ve had a good time working my way through all of these challenges. Obviously, some are more fun than others. If you’ve ever sewn on a button you know that it’s not for entertainment. But, I have to say this challenge was the best. I’m not exaggerating when I say we have been a Marine Corps family for a long time. Other than the occasional reduced hotel rate, we don’t really take advantage of a lot of the available military discounts. Then we discovered, after attending a Military Appreciation Day hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes, that they are not exaggerating about their military discount. This time last year I sat in the best seats I’ve ever had at a professional sporting event. I spent more the year before for seats that were so high up we had to wear an extra layer of clothing. As I called my hockey-loving brother, Daryle, from PNC Arena to wish him a happy birthday I just knew that he had to come with me the next year for his birthday. Fast forward 365-ish days and here we are.
As an adult, I’ve never lived close enough to a professional sports team to be able to attend regularly and become one of the local fans. I’m hoping that if someday I do have a local home team that it still generates the same feeling. There’s nothing like entering a stadium or arena for a sporting event. The excitement feels electric. I particularly love it when the players enter. The music, the introductions, the spectacle. It’s awesome. This particular game was especially exciting because not only did I get to share it with my brother and my kids but we had really great seats!
You know you are in for something special when the guy who looks at your tickets to tell you where your seats are located says, “You’ve got great seats.” When I bought our tickets I wanted to get something up close, center ice. Well, I succeeded. We were on the second row behind the opposing team’s bench. If I had it to do again I’d buy seats a few more rows back. The seats I purchased were row D which to me equated to the fourth row, not the second. But, no one was complaining. It was pretty awe-inspiring to be so close.
So, there you have it. The best challenge yet. Impressive athletic feats, rockin’ songs to get you pumped up, t-shirts floated down in parachutes from the rafters and a brother who traveled half-way across the country to share it with me. I realized that, all of the excitement aside, what makes these events even more memorable is that I always get to enjoy them with the people who I love most in the world. Building relationships and making memories. I think that’s what this life is really all about.
Before you go…even though we had a great time we did not get to celebrate a Hurricanes victory. The defeat did not discourage the usual heckling idiot fans. And, don’t think just because we had great seats that we weren’t going to have to listen to it. I’m never a fan of the loud-mouth who yells during the game but occasionally you’ll find one that, while annoying, is at least begrudgingly funny. Our trio of fools couldn’t even come up with a good taunt. On the upside, they did not curse. But, on the downside, repeatedly yelling, “You’re the worst!”, with an intermittent “You’re literally the worst!” thrown in for emphasis is just embarrassing. I’m not trying to encourage more negativity in the world but study up on your insults if you are going to try to insert yourself into the game.
With this challenge we are moving from learning a solid life skill to more of a life-expanding experience. ATTEND A PROFESSIONAL SPORTING EVENT. I have attended many professional sporting events in my life. I grew up watching the local minor-league hockey and baseball teams in Oklahoma City. Heck, I even watched the National Finals Rodeo a couple of times before Las Vegas stole it from us in 1978. I’ve been fortunate enough to have watched games in each of the four major professional sports in the US. I’m super excited about this challenge.
I’ve liked watching sports for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I spent many summer Friday nights with my brother, Daryle, at the OKC Fairgrounds watching Sprint cars race around the dirt track. I’m embarrassed to admit that in the 6th grade when my classmates were probably writing about the Iran Hostage Crisis or tornados I wrote my term paper about hockey. In my defense, it was the time of the “miracle on ice” and the medal-round victory of the US Olympic hockey team over the Soviet Union. For a brief period of time during my first semester of college I even thought I wanted to be a radio sports broadcaster. My first and only journalism class cured me of that notion.
For about ten years now I’ve been the administrator of the Candy Bar Football League in which a small, ever-changing group of family and friends pick the winners of the NFL games each week every fall. It’s high stakes. At the end of the season the winner gets a candy bar. We started when Andrew first became an obsessive Philadelphia Eagles fan following a viewing of the Mark Wahlberg movie Invincible. I’m also a part of the Pick-One-Fool Fantasy Football league. If you don’t play Fantasy Football you can’t understand how you could find yourself watching some random NFL game just because DeAndre Hopkins is on your fantasy team. That said, there’s nothing like watching a sporting event in person.
So, are you a sports fan? Even if you aren’t I think there is definitely something about seeing a live sporting event. Do I only think that because I am a sports fan? Do you have access to professional sports where you live or do you have to travel, like I do? Did you get to watch a professional sporting event as a kid? If you are guessing that I’ve got a game in my near future, you’d be correct. I’ll check back in with you next week. In the mean time, if you have a favorite professional sport you like to watch, live or otherwise, I’d love to hear about it! Or, if you’d rather wash dishes than go to a sporting event I’d like to hear why??!
Before you go…although my kids aren’t professional athletes, they all played sports and it was pretty moving at times to watch them play. In November, Rachel finished her Senior season playing volleyball for Greensboro College. Getting to watch her play with heart and determination as a leader who left nothing on the court will always be better than watching any professional sporting event past or future.
This challenge brought up a bit of an irrational fear of mine. I don’t like needles. Not in the I’m afraid of shots way, although I don’t love those either, but more in the I’m going to step on a needle! way. I don’t think I’ve ever stepped on a needle before but apparently it’s a real concern in my deep dark subconscious. It could be related to listening to multiple tellings of Lee’s childhood story of getting a thumbtack stuck between his toes. I understand a thumbtack is not the same thing as a needle but the pointy end makes them close cousins. I also have some vague memory of my Mom getting a needle stuck in her foot. Not even sure if that’s a fact or an alternative fact but it’s in my brain anyway. Whenever my kids wanted to do some kind of craft that required pins or needles I was probably not very encouraging. I was pretty sure that some carelessly supervised pin or needle was going to slide itself comfortably into the fibers of our carpet and lie in wait for it’s unsuspecting victim.
In addition to my needle issue, I did have a couple of other challenges to overcome. I could not find a garment that needed a button replaced. I also could not find a sewing kit (possibly linked to the previously stated needle phobia). However, I did persevere. After clearing a couple of initial hurdles, I am now fully licensed in the state of North Carolina to sew a two-hole button- at least onto a scrap of fabric. I’m also the proud owner of a new sewing kit.
The 100 Things You Need to Do Before You Grow Up book sometimes offers additional information to help the reader. I decided that even though this wasn’t going to be my first button I might want to follow their ten helpful steps.
Everything was moving along nicely. Each step was concise and easy to follow. Until I got to Step 8 which I could not comprehend. Maybe Step 8 is the litmus test for full acceptance into the Button-Sewing Club. If so, I failed. However, I did not leave my button unsecured. I just chose to use the method I’ve used before.
I was unfamiliar with the term shank in reference to sewing. If you watch shows about crime or prison you might be similarly confused. I did, however, google it and it does make sense. It allows for space between the button and the fabric when the garment is buttoned. My method allows for the same thing, I just didn’t realize what I was doing…or why.
I now have a sewing kit so I am prepared for any future button-sewing. Plus, this summer I’ll be in California with my own personal button-sewer who can then take ownership of said sewing kit. I’m assuming most of you have sewn a button on before. If so, were you aware you were creating a shank? Do you worry about your needles getting away from you and making a new home in your carpet? Do you ask yourself why you keep reading this?
Before you go…I would like you to know that when sewing my button onto my scrap of fabric I did take the time to cut a buttonhole ensuring that my button is functional and not just decorative. Thanks for reading along.
The latest challenge appears simple on the surface and could easily be dismissed. LEARN HOW TO SEW ON A BUTTON. I’ve sewn a button or two in my time. I don’t sew, so any button-sewing for me is strictly in repair mode. I used to be one of those people who saved those replacement buttons that come with shirts, jackets and sweaters, but after moving several times with a jewelry box compartment filled with buttons for apparel I no longer owned, I stopped. Maybe I just get rid of clothing before the buttons fall off or possibly when the buttons DO fall off. (Now, I’m picturing landfills filled with perfectly good shirts just missing one button and feeling a bit of guilt.)
In reality, I don’t wear a ton a clothes that have buttons. From 2 1/2 until approximately 7 years of age my daughter, Elisabeth, actively disliked buttons. Functional or decorative. She wouldn’t wear them, didn’t like it if I wore them, even disliked pillows that had them. Buttons were “gross”. Searching for clothing without decorative buttons: easy. Searching for clothing without functional buttons in reality means your child wears a lot of t-shirts. Not a lot of button-sewing going on at our house during that period of time. I didn’t stop wearing clothing with buttons to appease my four-year-old but if I didn’t love it, I didn’t wear it. It wasn’t worth it. When you have little kids, who has time to button up a shirt anyway! Plus, shirts with buttons also tend to be shirts that require ironing. I’m not usually organized enough to have a shirt ironed and ready to wear. Lee has always been the chief ironer in our house and ,now that I think about it, he’s probably the primary button-sewer, too. The Marine Corps prepared him well for a lot of things including button-sewing and ironing.
What about you? Are you someone who saves those replacement buttons and actually uses them? Are you the person people seek out when they’ve lost a button? When is the last time you sewed on a button? Any tips for me as I proceed? I’m off to find a button that needs replacing! Failing that, I’ll just do some practice button-sewing so that I’m prepared for the future. I do think this is a good skill for kids to learn. Maybe I’ll make Andrew sew on a button, too.
Before you go…I’m feeling the need to explain that when I do get rid of clothing, I donate it to the local Goodwill or some other charity organization. I’m not marching to save the trees everyday but I’m not as callous about the environment as it may appear. Also, today, I’m exactly one month from my 49th birthday and feeling pretty good about the challenges I’ve completed so far. Thanks for taking this journey with me! It wouldn’t be the same without you.