Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Why I Run

This morning I did something I never thought I would be able to do: I ran 5 miles. 

When I say that I have never been a runner, I mean that I was never I runner. I DREADED the timed mile run days in gym during elementary and middle school.  I loved soccer when I was little, but I tended to play defense because I couldn't deal with running the length of the field. Granted, I had sports-induced asthma and chronic allergies as a kid, which made sustained cardio difficult at time. I was active through dance, but never got into running.  In college and post-college, I danced and exercised sporadically but nothing consistent. Trying to go on a run would just bring dread and pain, and I never really knew what I was doing. I really never learned to "run" properly, and I would just start, regardless of form or pacing. I was also very self-conscious about running. I ran slowly and I was very aware of all the other more fit and better runners around me, especially when running around a college campus.
Last year I signed up for a 5K with some friends, and ready or not, I had to figure this thing out. I  humbly resigned myself to literally start from the very beginning. I used some app to get me up to 5k by the run (maybe Couch to 5K, but I can't remember) and started slowly, alternating running with walking for months until I could run 3.1 miles without stopping.  The 5K was really just a fun run (Color Run), but still, crossing that finish line let me check off a bucket list item. I ran sporadically that summer, but I moved and then made the mistake of running when it was too hot and I didn't have enough water, resulting in a heat stroke (yeah, never will make that mistake again) and I just never quite got back into it. I live in Florida now, and trying to figure out how to run in Florida during August is equivalent to figure out how to run through a swamp on the Sun, so I just let it go.

I didn't make running a specific New Year's resolution, but I knew I wanted to get back into it. So on January 1st, 2017, I laced up my running shoes and ran a slow and cold mile around my neighborhood. And since then, I've stayed consistent and have run 2-3 times a week.

A few weeks into January I got the crazy idea to give myself a long-term goal for running motivation, and a friend and I signed up to run a half-marathon. Luckily, it was in November so I had plenty of time and it was also in Disney World, so it would be a lot of fun.

Now the race is still a while away, so I'm nowhere near going into training mode, but I finally feel like I can call myself a runner. I've been on enough runs to see good and bad days, to realize that mile 1 does not define your run, and to find a rhythm and a pace to actually enjoy the act of running.

Running has taught me to slow down (literally) and have patience. I am not a fast runner. It takes me a while to run and the more miles I am trying to add on, the longer I am running with just myself and my music. I am okay with that. At first it drove me crazy that it would take me so long to get from point A to point B, but I slowly learned and accepted that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to point B, its just about getting there. I think I've learned a lot about God through running, and running has helped me not only open a silence and stillness to hear Him more, but also has helped me become more accepting of His timing. I'm running towards a destination, a next step, and its more important to consider how I get there than how fast I get there. I'm putting in the work to get there, and that's what matters.

I'm getting better about not comparing myself to other runners when they pass me by on the trail. I try to instead give them a mental congratulations for getting out there and running, because I don't know what mental battles they have ragging against them. Some days it sucks and I run really slowly, other days, like today, I only plan to run 2.0 miles because I'm tired, but I break through that wall after mile 1.0 and just see where the road takes me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why I haven't blogged as often

As I've mention recently, I've been getting more into the work of author and researcher Dr. Brene Brown. She focuses a lot of her work on the most core and essential human emotions and experiences, and how they can sometimes be flip sides of the same coin: shame, love, joy, worry, etc. They all come down in core (or at least how I interpret them) to vulnerability. In reading one of her books about whole-hearted living, The Gifts of Imperfection: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life, I began thinking of my own struggles with perfection, and owning "being smart" as a core personality trait. I'll go into more on that later, but through that experience I realized that I don't think my blog or what I have to say is ever "good enough" so why bother posting it. But let's be real, this is a creative outlet and nothing more. I'm not a "blogger", I'm not trying to make money or have pictures that look perfect. I just like sharing my thoughts, my experiences and some creative ideas I may have from time to time. I'm in no way shape or form a theologian or even remotely experienced in working in ministry. I'm a Catholic girl in her mid-twenties in graduate school, and this is just my life right now and what I'm thinking and experiencing.

I write because it helps me to process through big ideas, to slow my mind and body down enough to get words on paper (or screen) in an organized fashion that helps me to make sense of it all. I feel like my processing things out and posting them, not only does it hold me accountable to work through some of the bigger topics in life, but also maybe my processing may help someone else see something more clearly.

I've decided to write regardless if anyone reads. If you have thoughts or questions, I will always try to answer, but this isn't a business or a full-time gig, so I'm just going to let it be what it is for now. On that note I have to go, I should probably be doing homework or research or something right now. #graduateschoolproblems

Or maybe I'm just going to Disney World again :D

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Disney Crazed

I'm not going to lie, one perk of choosing a graduate school program in Florida is the proximity to Orlando, specifically Disney World. I grew up in the Golden Age of Disney Animation, watching and listening to the soundtracks of Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Pocahontas and Little Mermaid.  I still remember details from our first Disney trip when I was in Kindergarten, like my Ariel doll that say next to me and Grandmom on the monorail. We've always been a Disney family, and I'm fully embracing that side now that I'm back in Florida and an Annual Passholder. From eating and drinking our way through EPCOT, spending time with the animals in Animal Kingdom and taking time to go to the special events in Magic Kingdom during the holidays, the pass is well worth the cost and the 1.5 hour drive to get there. I'm going to share more detailed Disney posts in the future, but for now, here are a few fun pictures below!

(P.S. slowly but surely I'm convincing more people to come to Disney. Our program is very Disney (and Harry Potter) friendly, and more and more of us are getting passes!)

1st Year at the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, the start of a new tradition!
EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival Year 2! This year, we brought more family to eat with!
Magic Moments with Disney, some people aren't as impressed
Day trip to see Disney dressed up for Christmas. Giant Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian 
We cope with graduate school by going to the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts with friends!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lenten Promises

Lent is here! This year, I'm focusing on my prayer life and increasing quiet time with God, so my "to-do's" are all falling in that area. I like breaking down my Lent into the three areas reflected in Matthew's Gospel read during Ash Wednesday mass (read it here), which are prayer, fasting and alms giving.

  • Morning prayer includes a daily reflection using the Blessed is She Lenten reflection journal "Put on Love" written by Elizabeth Foss. This is a beautiful journal that I've loved using the first two days, and the community and daily devotionals on the website really help set my mind for the day! Check them out at
  • Evening reading of something to quiet my mind and reflect on Jesus, whether it be the scripture, an article or a book. I'm working my way through Lent through Father James Martin, SJ's book Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which goes through Jesus' life story with reflections from scripture, history and Father Martin's own pilgrimage to the Holy Land. (P.S. Father Martin is a great writer and has a lots of great posts and videos! Check him out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and at America Media 
  • To help create more space for prayer, reading and writing, I'm fasting from (but not giving up completely) watching so much TV. Sometime the quiet freaks me out, so I put Netflix on in the background or aimlessly watch it in between classes or before bed, so I want to eliminate that aimlessness. I'm not giving it up completely but becoming more intentionally about my time and limiting my shows that I watch to create time for other things.
Alms giving:
  • While I am giving to the Bishop's Annual appeal during Lent, I'm trying to give of my time more, especially through prayer.  A lot of the people in my life are physically far away from me, so I can't help them physically, which stresses me out. But I can help them spiritually, by offering up their intentions in prayer and dedicating my time to them. I'm trying to write prayer intention cards each day for different people, with the intent on sending them eventually, to commit to praying for other's intentions and lifting them up in prayer. (So if you have a prayer request, let me know!)
I'll try to document how its going during Lent, but I'm pretty excited because I feel like this is an area of life I really need to work on this year, and I'm planning on carrying out this intentionality after Lent is over.

What are your Lenten promises?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Lenten Reflection

"But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

-Matthew 6:6

As I was praying before Ash Wednesday mass yesterday, before I even realized the contents of the Gospel reading, I was thinking about shame and why we sometimes hide our faith.  I've been reading a lot about vulnerability and whole-hearted living, a focus of the work of storyteller and researcher Brene Brown (more about her work later), I was thinking about shame in response to the things we keep private about our faith. There is a difference, I believe, between keeping our prayer, fasting and alms giving secret in order to be humble and not boastful, and keeping our faith private because we are scared of societies judgement.