Boston Marathon One Week Countdown

I’ll be at the starting line of my first Boston Marathon in exactly one week.

 

One week.

 

26 years of running. And now one week.

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I’ll be there with hope and positive thoughts to get me through. They say the first 20 miles are what you train for, and the last six miles are mental. This time I’m not leaning on my training for any of it really.

 

But I’ll also be there with the love and support of so many of you that have reached out with your encouragement on this crazy journey. Thank you.

 

So I’ll be at the starting line of Boston Marathon in one week without my typical marathon training. There has been no taper as there’s no time. There’s nothing to taper from.

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By now I should’ve been training for 14 weeks, had some 50 miles weeks. at least three 20+ mile runs, speed work, track workouts, tempo runs, hills repeats…

 

Instead I’ve been only back on my feet for seven weeks after four months of rest from a stress fracture and tendonitis…that still bothers me. In those seven weeks I’ve run only 2x week, had one long run of 16 miles and instead focused on strength, core and cross-training.

 

And right now I have no idea what that means over 26 miles. But as with any marathon, I have to trust in my training..and this was all I could do.

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A year ago my goal without an injury was to earn another BQ to bring me back to Boston in 2017, but now I just want to be there to enjoy the party and reach the finish line…somehow.

 

My ankle is telling me that this might be a 5:15 marathon(never had a “5” in front of that before…).

 

My head is telling me that I can pull a 4:15 safely.

 

And my heart is telling that 3:51 is totally possible. My heart is ever the optimist and yet it’s been broken a few times before.

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I’m not sure which will be right next Monday, but what I do know is I’m going to enjoy every single step of those 26 miles as this young girl qualified for THE BOSTON MARATHON and dammit I’m going to own this journey all the way to getting that unicorn medal at the finish. And I’ll be grateful to just see another beautiful Monday and have the ability to take even one step.

 

See you there, Boston.

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Boston Marathon Training

I ran twice this week. I ran a full mile on Tuesday, and then a whole mile and a half on Thursday. Tomorrow, Saturday, I plan to run another mile or so.

 

These are my first miles since December. But it’s been since mid-September and my injury since I’ve done big miles. And big miles to me these days mean anything over five. Whereas a year ago I was doing 20 on any given Saturday without a thought of it being a big deal.

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Now this mile hurts. Later in the afternoon on Tuesday I felt aches in my shins and the back of my thighs. My ankles felt weak. And it’s not like I’ve been sitting around binge watching Netflix and getting out of shape. (Okay, I have binge watched Netflix – OMG Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul and Friday Night Lights...). But I’ve been doing most of my binge watching while riding the bike and putting in about 150 miles a week to keep my cardio up. I also spend a good 30 minutes each day on core and strength to be ready to increase my running mileage. But running is different. And these short miles don’t feel natural.

 

After 24 years of running, I’m a beginner again.

 

And Boston Marathon is 8.5 weeks away. After returning to marathon training two years ago, I qualified for Boston….and now…I ran a mile on Tuesday.

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I know I can run that first mile of the race. And damn that last .2 is MINE…but the 25 in between. I’m not feeling sure.

 

And I go through my options..

  1. Skip it. Cry a lot about skipping Boston Marathon. How does one skip BOSTON??? But take another year or so to really get better. I mean I had a torn tendon and stress fracture…do I really need to do this. And then maybe I’ll qualify again in two years and THAT will be my chance to do Boston. But what if I’m never in Marathon shape again. What if my ankle and foot are done. If that’s the case…
  2. ..then I’m going to Boston this year. It might just be my slowest marathon ever. But even finishing in five and a half hours gives me a Boston finish and a medal. Screw it all. I’m going – come what may. Even if it means walking half of it.

I’m scared. No matter how determined I am and ready to embrace the suck I am…I still am scared to mess with an injury.

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So how’s that Boston Marathon Training going? Well I will run three miles this week. And maybe five next week..and seven the week after..and we will just see how things go. That’s where I am right now….scared, confused, mad, frustrated, hopeful, hungry, ready, yet no matter…

….I’m still a runner.

 

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High Five Friday

Five Things To Read This Week.

I’ve been writing. I swear to you I’ve been writing like I promised to last month. But I’ve been writing with a pen and paper just like Julie asked me to do. So maybe those words will end up on here. Or maybe not. Maybe they will show up somewhere else, or maybe they will stay in the notebook for my kids to find 60 years from now when they are cleaning up my cat lady house after I die.

 

Speaking of Julie…her novel Letters For Scarlet launches in April and I just finished my preview copy. You MUST buy and read her book. A full review is coming soon…..

 

My friend Christine always inspires me. Like I wake up most mornings thinking about her and seeking out her writing and photographs because she is pure joy, inspiration, talent, and beauty. She had a few articles go crazy viral over the past week, but I love her article on The Washington Post.

 

I adore Jennie – her faith, family and her writing. I needed to read and nodded through this post about Forgiveness. I think you will see your human self in it too.

 

Love, Surfing, and Marriage – yes yes and yes..all of it from my dear friend Michelle.

 

Five Instagram Photos This Week

 

I do most of my writing these days on Instagram. So if you are looking for me – find and follow me over there..

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  1. New neighbors moved in over the weekend so we made and delivered cookies! Hopefully they will be some new “clients” for Eloise’s babysitting business.
  2. Fernie the Bernie…(WE GOT A DOG…more later)…with her sweet sister in the van.
  3. Yoga #poseoftheday – I’ve been doing core work and daily stretches and yoga as I continue to get stronger as I recover from my running injury.
  4. Snow Day! We had 12″ of snow this week and had a blast in the snow.
  5. Matilda Jane launch week! Our new Spring line is available so I spent the week working my tail off. I’ve been a Trunk Keeper for almost nine years and love my job still every single day.

Linking up with Angela at Happy Fit Mama!

 

Have a great weekend

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Where I Give 15 Fs About 2016

This morning I woke up the same way that I wake up every morning. The cat is licking my face as my alarm goes off. I wonder if she really thinks I’ll forget to Feed her. Have I ever Forgotten to Feed her? I Feed her and I make sure the coffee is ready and then I work-out. After my work-out I drink copious amounts of coffee as I watch the morning news. I catch up on Facebook and Instagram and email, and then I wait for the Family to wake.

Just hours into the New Year, 2016 Feels the same. The cat, the coffee, the news, the work-out and the being First up for like always a million mornings later. I like the comfort in the routine and Familiar. I am not beyond Feeling like a toddler in my need for the predictable. Yet I don’t want to get comfortable in other ways. I want to step out of my comfort(and honestly, control) zone to be better and experience new. Just don’t mess with the First hours of my morning.

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2015 brought some big changes in many areas – Friends, Family, Fitness, Finances…and honestly had me using the big F word more than usual. And if you know me and my love for the big F word – well, wow that’s kind of a big deal to use it even more.

 

I’m not making resolutions here, because eFF that – so instead I’m using 15 F words that will define my life living Forward in 2016.

 

Focus – Like how I started writing this blog post on New Year’s Day..and here it is Five days later and I’m Finally Finishing it. Yeah, I need to work on this one. This Focus of putting First things First and prioritizing and letting go of the crap that’s not important. But I won’t be able to really Focus until I Finish Breaking Bad. Check back with me in a Few days after I binge watch the Final two seasons. Just tell me that cute Jesse is okay.

Family – Numero uno. But I can’t do this until I get clear Focus, right. That’s why I have it listed as number two. Family First and always. I love my people and they need to know it more. I mean sure I clean the house and cook their meals and make sure they have Folders and clean clothes. And I give hugs and kisses and encouragement and love. But I need to be more present for them when we are together. Whether it’s the now old cliche of putting my phone down, or maybe even watching the Minions for the 153rd time.

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Fun – Which brings me to Fun. I’m the heavy in our Family. The enforcer of the chores and the discipline. I run a tight ship and have high expectations of everyone. This will not change. But I do promise to have more Fun this year and always. We can all wear dirty clothing for a day if it means a few hours of sledding. More yes and less no.

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Fitness – I qualified for the Boston Marathon and am running it in April. I’m currently in a boot – so no running which totally sucks, but I’m coming back even stronger than before…trust me. My Fitness goals in 2016 are to get back into running shape with overall health and Future in mind…strong core, strong body, good choices. And by the end of 2016 I want to be in even better overall health and in stronger shape than I am in now. My goal is to write more about my Fitness journey in 2016 too. Hold me to that one, okay?

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F(ph)otography – My camera has taken a bit of a hiatus in recent years. I’m giving myself the time to explore and get to know my Friend Canon again in 2016. I need to stop worrying about perfect and just shoot.

Food – I have always watched what I eat, but I’m bringing my Family more into this in 2016. In 2015 I started “new recipe” Wednesday with the family – I cooked something completely new each Wednesday, and it was a huge success(maybe I should’ve blogged about it), so 2016 is continuing that as well as Focusing on cutting out more sugar and meat and processed items from everything we eat.

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Future – No looking back this year. The best is yet to come. Let’s celebrate and make an impact where we can – in tomorrow…not yesterday.

Friends – This is a BIG one For me in 2016. The older I get the more I know how important true Friends are. Yet how difficult it is to Find Friends at this age. We aren’t having babies anymore, we aren’t in college anymore, and I don’t have a workplace that I go to where I’m heading out to lunches with adults. But it’s Finding those true and easy Friends – through school or activities or book clubs or Facebook…AND making the time to have coffee or wine or even a phone conversation. Let’s all make the time For Friends this year. Friends Feed our soul differently than work or Family. Let’s celebrate and make time for that.

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Finances – Our BIG commitment for 2016. We made some huge Financial decisions in 2014 and 2015 – and now it’s time to continue moving Forward to ensure our Future retirement(EEK) as well as the kids’ Future is Funded. We will hold monthly Family Finance meetings and Focus on what’s important with our Finances. Full transparency as we move Forward is key.

(non)Fiction – I WILL write in 2016. It might not be here always, but I will write. I want to write a children’s book that I’ve had in draft for almost three years, and I will pitch some articles this year. I have Found that the less I write, the more scattered and unhappy my brain gets…so I need to do this. And I will.

Facebook – And all social media. I Find it can be such a time suck because I love to see you all – your Families, your pictures, your lives..and I love to support you all…but I need more balance here. I have already stepped away quite a bit and will continue to Focus my social media time better in 2016.

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Fly – We WILL take a Family vacation in 2016. We WILL continue to show our kids the world in 2016. We WILL Focus on our Finances better so this is our yearly goal as a Family – to invest in our Fun, our Future, and our global views moving Forward.

(give)Forward – I have applied for a local volunteer position and intend to dedicate more of my time in 2016 to giving Forward to others(more locally) in 2016. “No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank.

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(my aging)Face – Hey, guess what? I’m 47..and will be 48 in 2016. This happens. Yet, I like my Face in the here and now. I do. I like the lines that have come with time and experience. Even the lines on my arms and tummy – YES that happens too dear young people. But I love it. My Face scared me when I was 41-43 because I saw the changes from 37-39..but now, I think it’s kind of awesome. I don’t need to get carded. I can be somebody’s mom, and I can be old enough to be somebody’s mom in college, and I can be old enough to be your mom, or your grandma…and I’m totally zen with all of that. I take care of my body – good Food and Fitness..and well For my Face…not all the thousand dollar lotions in the world can stop time nor do I want to pay for treatments or surgeries or any of that Fake stuff. I own this Face and I love it – wrinkles, age spots, and randoms hairs and all. Also, wearing reading glasses on a date is incredibly sexy.

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F*ucks – And as with my Face..I just can’t give any F*ucks anymore with any bullshit. “I want real. I want true. If you don’t like me that’s on you.” – Tracy Morrison, 2016.

 

Happy 2016, my Friends. The best is yet to come.

“There is no passion to be Found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

What Astrid is thankful for today and always…..

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I’m thankful for family and friends and health, and for the belief that there is more good in the world than bad. Always.

 

“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and sending much love to my friends abroad. xoxoxo

 

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Five For Friday

I’m linking up with Angela again this Friday!

 

Five Instagrams For A Friday:

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  1. #prayforparis I took this shot of The Eiffel Tower on Valentine’s Day 1999
  2. We took a family hike on Sunday. It was 60 degrees in November in Minnesota – CRAZY!!
  3. Mad for Plaid! LOVING all of the Fall offerings from Aventura this season! Love being an ambassador for them. I have coupon codes too – so now is the time to shop!
  4. Physical Training is going well and I’m getting stronger and faster! LOVE my wrap from Momentum Jewelry – 26.2 #boston2016 here I come!
  5. The holiday line from Matilda Jane Clothing is just dreamy – and these girls aren’t too shabby either! And cooperating for Holiday pictures no less!

Follow me on Instagram!

Five Posts For A Friday:

A lot has changed and happened since I posted last Friday. The world weeps as extremists terrorize the innocent. We need to weep along with them, yet let them know that we are not afraid. And we must continue to help the innocent.

 

The world is suffering the worst refugee crises in decades. One mother writes here about why we must all help and why.

 

Angela wrote one of my favorite things this week – nighttime running safety. I’ve written how I am one of those who actually prefers not to be seen as I’m more afraid of being attacked than of being hit by a car – and run knowing that I yield and give vehicles the right of way. Now that we’ve moved out of the city though – it’s DARK out here and I’m running like a Glow-Worm to see and be seen. Love her tips.

 

My dear friend Jennie lives just outside of Paris. Her family is safe and I love what she wrote this week. We continue to send love to her, her family, and her friends.

 

My friend Arnebya is a true gem, a brilliant writer, and just all around kick-ass person. What she wrote here about searching for love as a young girl hit hard and close to home…and now as a parent..whew.

 

And the best news all week – drinking coffee makes you live longer! So I believe I will live to be 526.

 

Happy Friday!

 

 

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Paris Is For Lovers

Jed will tell you that I fell in love with him the day we met. My story is a bit different than his. I mean sure I felt something when we met, but I’m not sure if it was love. It was for sure a bit of curiosity mixed with a bit of “like” and maybe a touch of lust. But I was concerned about his Carthartts and his pocketknife. I wasn’t looking to date an outdoorsman at the time.

 

That was May.

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We didn’t see each other again until August.

 

By November I was pretty smitten.

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And by January I pretty much wanted to see him all the time.

 

But it was February when I fell in love.

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Valentine’s Day in Paris to be exact.

 

At a table at La Coupole. I ordered some stinky cheese dish with mushrooms. We had a few dogs under our feet as our table-mates on both sides brought their animals with them to dinner. I drank more than my fill of red wine to go with my stinky(and yummy) cheese, and we strolled Montparnasse and over to La tour Eiffel. And yep, it was more than like or lust by then.

 

It was my first time in Paris. And his first since his childhood. And it’s where we fell in love.

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16 years and three kids later…and….

 

“We’ll always have Paris.”

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I promised Eloise a trip to Paris for her 13th birthday. Her birthday is in two weeks – so yeah, that trip isn’t happening. Life, finances, priorities always getting in the way. But after the heartbreak last night, I’ve been searching for flights like a crazy lady – because more than ever I want to get back and take her there and show her the beauty and light and spirit of the people and city…and show her that we are not afraid. We can never be afraid.

 

We just need to love more.

 

We pray for peace.

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Give Your Kids A Cool Summer Adventure! #BrainChase

This post is sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase.

 

We are deep in our summer planning right now. Camp sign-ups start in February, Sport Sign-ups now, we are talking seriously about our road-trip, and family has started calling to find out when it’s a good time to visit. Yet with our new home I also just kind of feel like canceling everything and enjoying a new adventure in our backyard. There’s something so simple and beautiful about kids just outside from dawn until dusk, riding bikes, running between houses, and meeting new friends. I love when my kids have their own adventures during the freedom of summer.

 

Yet no matter how free we make our summer, or how scheduled we make our camp, family, and travel commitments – we always make time to read and keep up on some school work during the summer. Typically we head to the bookstore and buy some fun workbooks, but as our kids have gotten older they typically enjoy learning online with cool games and apps. Studies show that by the end of summer, students perform on average one to two months behind where they left off in the spring – so it just makes sense to keep up on some sort of school work to prevent that summer brain drain.

 

So I think we’ve found the coolest thing to get us sharp, have fun, go on an adventure, and do something as a family this summer. Basically we are throwing those workbooks in the recycling and seeing the world from our own dining room table.

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We are going on a Brain Chase. Brain Chase is a 5-week online summer learning challenge disguised as a HUGE global treasure hunt for 2nd through 8th graders. Each summer, a golden mechanical treasure will be buried somewhere on earth – and it will contain the key to a safety deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund. Participants who complete an hour of online summer learning activities each day will unlock secret animated webisodes that hold the clues to the treasure’s whereabouts. Pinpoint the treasure’s location first, and you’ll be the one on a plane to dig it up!!

 

Ummm… BURIED TREASURE! A $10,000 SCHOLARSHIP! THE OPPORTUNITY OF A LIFETIME TO FLY SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD TO DIG IT UP! A FAMILY ADVENTURE TO REMEMBER FOREVER!

 

YES PLEASE!

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Brain Chase starts on June 22, 2015 and continues with 5 weeks of structured challenges on reading and math websites, weekly writing exercises, and exclusive access to an original animated adventure series loaded with hidden puzzles and clues. You and your children participate in a massive global treasure hunt for the big prize of a lifetime!

 

Each week the adventurers have 4 tasks to complete – a reading task, a writing entry, math points, and a bonus challenge(typically 4-5 hours of total weekly work). When they are done, they unlock the next webisode which contains hidden pictures, numbers, and riddles to help them guess the treasure’s location! The webisodes are so cool as they travel around the world exposing your kids to even more cool adventures!  And don’t worry if you are going on your own adventure or to camp during this time – as Brain Chase allows you to make-up your work at anytime during the 5 weeks!

 

Brain Chase is fun with action-packed animations, mysterious packages in the mail, and the hunt for buried treasure that turn learning into an adventure. It’s FLEXIBLE. You’ll do the challenge when you want, where you want, and at your own pace. And it’s CUSTOMIZED. You get to work at your own level.

 

Then every 24 hours, your adventurer can log in to enter their guess of the treasure’s location. The first adventurer to guess the location travels with their family to dig up the buried treasure.

 

The Sunstone of Cortes is just waiting for you!

 

I think my kids have already watched that video about one hundred times.

 

And if you need more inspiration, just watch the winners from Summer 2014!!

 

All you need to do now is sign-up and let the countdown begin to your own summer adventure. If you register before April 15th, your cost is only $149(additional discounts for siblings), and get an ADDITIONAL 15% off with code SELLABITMUM15.

 

And let your summer adventures begin!

 

Sponsored by The Motherhood and Brain Chase. All words and opinions are my own.

 

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Hands And Heart In Haiti #1000Speak

My daughter has been feeling “less than” lately. And what I mean by “less than” is that she is coming into an age of self-awareness where she sees what she can do versus what others can do. She sees how we as a society praise talents – talents above and beyond “typical” and how we watch those, applaud those, seek them out, and pay for them. Whether it be writing books, playing basketball, ballet, banjo or juggling. We seek that special something in someone. We want to be entertained and we admire someone with talents.

And maybe it’s angst or the age or the weather – but she feels like she has none. She can dance, and play piano, and sports, and get straight A’s – but she feels she would not be watched, or paid, or be anything special.

Mediocrity in the art of existing and not standing out if you will.

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Do you feel yourself there? Do you know how this feels? Now? Before? How you feel you have nothing to offer someone else. Do you offer up your “I cants” before your “I cans” or talk down your abilities. Maybe you are more self-aware and self-confident..and I praise you now as that is a beautiful talent.

Six months ago(and many months and years and really my lifetime) I’ve felt the same. I told her this. I’ve listed the things I can kind of do – but I’m not great at them. No one has paid to come see me dance or do math – but I’m quite okay at both of them. There are many things that I can do – some embarrassing, some mediocre, and a few well. But I don’t feel like I have any real talents.

So when I signed up for a mission trip to Haiti, I almost canceled because I questioned what I could bring. The last thing I wanted to do was pull on their already limited resources. The last thing I wanted to do was to take up space. As I am not a doctor, a dentist, a nurse, a cook, an aid worker, a counselor, an educator, a minister, a singer to provide entertainment, an expert in resources, an architect, or a builder.

I am “just” a person. What talent could I bring to a place and people that need so much.

I told this story to my daughter. I met her eyes and told her that still I was unsure, what was my point, my talent. How could someone so obviously “less than” touch and help people who needed so much more.

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And I still arrived in Haiti unsure of my use – as what do we do with the talentless.

 

It turns out the last thing that I needed though was to know of building, or medicine, or singing, or water filtration systems. I had what they needed right there with me all along. The talent that we all possess – my heart and my hands. All I needed to do for the week was to hold he who needed to be held, and dance with she who needed to dance, and laugh with those who needed to laugh, and cry with those who needed to cry. I rubbed feet – caked with mud, dust, sores and miles that had been walked. I rocked babies – sick and without parents. I held hands of teenagers who needed someone to connect with, and I held toddlers who may have never felt a hug their entire life.

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My touch and heart may not cure a disease, feed a child, or house an elderly – but my touch and heart let them know that they are not alone and that we care every single day about them.

 

You will never be without a talent if you have the ability to let your heart be broken enough so you can show everyone the gift of unconditional love. Their basic need was to feel someone’s touch, to be held, to be thought of, and to be loved. To feel compassion.

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That is a talent to be applauded much louder than any piano recital or basketball game.

 

There is one boy who will always stay with me. The boy who taught me this lesson. We entered an orphanage for special needs children and he approached me immediately as we entered. And when I say approach – I mean he saw me and then came running towards me as fast as he could. He was physically challenged – but mobile, he wasn’t wearing pants, he was deaf and unable to speak, and he jumped into my arms, wrapping himself around me and he held me so tight. He stayed there in my arms for the two hours we were there. I walked around in a bouncing way like I held my own children when they were babies or when they are frightened, and eventually he fell asleep with his head on my shoulder. At that moment, I knew that I was all that he needed to feel safe and loved. If only for that moment.

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Everyone deserves that moment from someone. We all need to use our hearts and hands to give everyone that moment of peace.

 

You, my child, are so filled with talents to give that I might just explode listing them all. So let’s just start with your heart.

 

Written today with thousands of others who are writing about compassion. #1000speak

 

Back in October – I went on a mission to Haiti with Healing Haiti. If you are looking to help, donate, or to go on a mission – Healing Haiti is an incredible organization to support. This is not sponsored blog content – I went on the mission on my own with my own funds and funds raised from friends and families. I plan to go again and take my daughter in the near future. Love you all.

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On Being A Mompreneur

This is part of a sponsored campaign with Touchstone Crystal. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

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“I never thought I’d stay home with my kids.”

 

I still say this even now, nine years after walking away from my corporate job.  But I say it without any regret.

 

At the time I quit though, I am not sure what my intentions were – to really never work again, to not work at a 9-5 job again, or to really stay home full-time.

 

After about a year at home though, I knew that I personally wanted to work again. I wanted to work again for a few reasons – I wanted projects that were challenging outside of motherhood, I wanted a reason to leave the house once in awhile, and I wanted to earn my own money again. After having my own financial independence for so many years – not having it was a very big deal.

 

But, I also wanted complete flexibility – because I quit my job do be home with my kids – and I still wanted that.

 

As parents – there are so many debates about SAHM, WAHM, WOHM, etc – and we all make different choices for different reasons – and I love that. But when I graduated from college, and the internet was not so prevelant(YES, it was THAT long ago) – having the flexibility to work from home didn’t exist. Parents were left were very few options – either work or don’t work. And I felt this pressure to choose one or the other when I chose to quit nine years ago. I tried to sell my bosses on how I could job share, or work part-time, or telecommute – but they wanted none of it.

 

So eight years ago – I wanted to find a flexible way to be a MOMprenuer – work AND be with my kids(have your cake and eat it too baby!) – and you know what, I did just that!

 

There are two things that I’ve done that have allowed me to earn a living while staying home –

1. The first is blogging. I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years. And while for me this for sure isn’t a full-time income, it’s an amazing extra income for our family for some fun extras. I’ve also been paid for freelance writing on other sites, and have met an amazing community of people in the blogging space. My goals for 2015 are to continue to evolve my blog more into travel, social good, fitness and home decor(as we’ve just purchased a new home) – and not as much parenting focused as my kids are getting older.

 

2. The second is direct sales. I’m a team leader for an amazing company that I joined seven years ago. This is a job that I never thought I’d have either. As an introvert – I actually have found that I’ve thrived in this environment. And girlfriends, that money that you can earn in direct sales WHILE being home with your family is truly mind-boggling.

 

And you can say bad things about the internet and all that(yo, Kim’s butt) – but the positive that the internet has done for parents is HUGE in allowing us to be so much more flexible in all aspects of our personal and professional lives.

Love the family vacations that we can take with the money I earn!

Love the family vacations that we can take with the money I earn!

When Touchstone Crystal reached out to me to share my work from home and mompreneur story, I was excited to share it with you. I love hearing stories of what works for your family – and what gives you the financial freedom you need to stay ahead and provide.  You can become a consultant with Touchstone Crystal with very little investment – but by doing just a few shows a month you can earn thousands of dollars in income for your family. Trust me – the direct selling and personal consultant companies of today are not your mother’s ‘cosmetic company ladies’ from 1972(don’t tell her I said that).

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You can find out more about the opportunities at Touchstone Crystal by clicking over to their site.  Touchstone Crystal wraps up Swarovski’s quality and style and delivers it as a flexible new way to approach your career – and life.

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Home From Haiti

Transition home from Haiti has been 36 hours of extremes, loneliness, and sadness. Of all confusing and seemingly glutenous things to do less than a day upon returning, Jed and I attended a David Gray concert in Minneapolis. I’ve waited to see David Gray in concert for nearly 15 years since I first bought his White Ladder CD in 1999 and his music became my comfort in the time of many transitions – from divorce, to new love, to moving across an ocean, and to times of extreme loneliness that I had never encountered before. I would belt out his ballads of love and change from Babylon, and Please Forgive Me, Sail Away, This Year’s Love, and Silver Lining for the minutes in my car and the hours in my apartment. Alone.

 

I had become so dependent on him writing the lyrics to my life that when I came upon my car on rainy morning in Amsterdam in 2001 and found the windows smashed in and my CD cases mostly in tiny pieces on the street and my driver’s seat, my first thought went to White Ladder as I started searching my car to figure out what was missing. And in a strange twist of fate(or that the Dutch hate David Gray?) every single one of my CDs was either taken or broken except for David Gray.

children-of-haiti

And more hope than I’ve ever had settled into my heart that day and I didn’t feel alone anymore because his words still comforted me as they always did and made me want to raise my face to the sun and feel the warmth of each new day.

 

And so we sat last night at the concert. Paying two months salary of an average Haitian for what would be two hours of entertainment for a typical middle class American. This night I looked forward to for months overshadowed by guilt and excess. And the first half of the concert was hard. And I almost found myself dozing during some of David’s most melancholy choruses. But it was during this moments of drifting off that snapshots of Haiti would go through my mind like I was watching a slideshow with David Gray providing the soundtrack to the show. Snap – the ripped red skirt of the little girl I saw on the fist day as she ran with a naked baby in her arms. Snap – the sound and shine of the metal plates at the clinic where we fed the children lunch. Clang Clang Clang. Snap – the little boy urinating into a water bottle that his mother held in the large hospital room shared by 100 patients or more. Snap – the old woman giving the children almonds on the streets of Cite Soliel as they helped their parents collect water. Snap – the sickly and thin goats eating garbage along the road. Snap –  the old man living in a house no bigger than our bathroom at home. Snap – the girls cheering for the boys playing soccer. Snap – the gecko in our cold water shower. Snap – the smiles of all of the children. Snap – the boy in the orphanage who told me he could never let go of me.

 

So many pictures and people that will forever be a part of my heart. I watched this slideshow play out between opening my eyes to watch the joy of the crowd at a concert in Minneapolis and closing them to let each person I touched in Haiti know that I would never forget them. And that I would be back. And then I looked down at my hands in the darkened theater and saw my wrist glowing. The only light in the theater besides the stage. The bracelet the neighborhood boys made for me was made of glow-in-the-dark thread completely unbeknownst to me. There it was, a loud “HAITI” shouting to be seen and heard right in front of me the whole time. Parallel stories playing out not by coincidence. And I whispered to Jed “Do you see it? Do you see IT?” As he grabbed my wrist to touch the light.

haiti-bracelets

And then I knew that we can’t feel guilt for some of the normal we have. But we can all do better to do more and pull our inspiration and comfort from wherever we find it. And if that means I rely on a little musical miracle of grace from David Gray to open my heart even wider to the world, then I’ll spend those hours at his concert in grateful reflection of how much work is yet to be done.

haiti-mission

This land belongs to the gulls
And the gulls to their cry
And their cry to the wind

And the wind belongs to no-one
The wind belongs to no-one

I gave my breath to the song
To the song, wasn’t mine
Neither of ship nor of sea
Neither of glass nor of wine

Leaving this ghost of a road
I’m climbing hand over hand
Toward that pinprick of light

Toward the seed that God sowed

-Gulls, by David Gray

 

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Quick Check-In From Haiti

I have a lot to talk about. The last three weeks have been a juxtaposition of living. From a retreat to work on me and my writing and my(our family) goals, and to rest my spirit and soul, to running a marathon and setting a PR(more on that later), to hopping on a flight to Haiti to serve a mission right after the marathon.

 

In between there was the schedule making for family, the making sure everyone would get where they needed to be in my absence, the worrying about my kids, the missing of Jed, and making sure the girls knew how to use the hair straightener for school picture day.

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And I’ve found that motherhood doesn’t end even when you are thousands of miles away because last night while I face-timed my family I had to sing happy birthday to my cat because I missed his birthday.

 

So when I return I will write about all of it – Costa Rica, rethinking future plans and business and writing, the marathon…but most of all Haiti. Which will live in my heart forever.

 

But for now I feel I need to talk about this. And you can go ahead and ignore all the 200 hundred words above this line – and only focus on the below.

 

If you want to do good or you need to do good or you have a feeling of needed to give more of yourself – whether through time, money, travel, prayer, etc…. then just do it. Volunteer at a local school, a local shelter, at a local elderly home. Bring meals for a neighbor in need or take a friend’s kids in so she can have some time to breathe. Your actions may be what you think are small and local – but they are important. Serve the person in front of you.

 

And if you feel called to do more – to travel overseas to a humanitarian mission to help in the poorest areas of the world – then DO IT. Research, plan, really think about why you want to do it, and then do it.

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One of the biggest questions I’ve received this week is how other bloggers can get involved on a Social Good mission. How do they get in touch with someone who coordinates these ‘things.’

 

So lean in close and let me tell you how this happened….

 

I made the call and thought long and hard on how I wanted to help. And then I signed up, paid my own money, contacted family to see if they wanted to help with donations, and then I went. On my own. This trip to Haiti has nothing to do with my blog. It was something I felt called to do – and I did it on my own accord. I want to be very clear on that. And YOU can do that too – at anytime that you want to. And what you will find is a very generous family and friend network who also wants to help you if you feel that strongly about how you are helping and know in your heart it’s the right thing.

 

And if through my journey and time here I can share some stories of Haiti on my social media platforms – then I’m doing that on my own free will – not because I was paid to do this. I’m doing it because we all need to know about those in need at home and around the world. I will share their stories so that maybe their stories will touch even just one more person to do more.

 

Verklempt, Tracy

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Building Sandcastles

My tears surprise me almost as much as my view of the turquoise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean that continue on forever beyond the islands that dot the bay.

I try to keep my sobs buried inside, but as my hands dig deeper into the sand, my cries grow as my sandcastle turrets are formed.

I wipe my eyes with the back of my arms as my hands become caked with shells and wet sand. Salt coats my face from the tears, the water, and the wind at the beach. If someone comes upon me – my tears can easily be blamed on the beach conditions and not on mine.

Who cries on a beach in Costa Rica – a beach filled with sunshine, crushed shells, bronzed and happy vacationers, a melting pina colada resting in the sand near my hip, and an ocean that beckons happiness with waves that lap at my toes like a a playful tickle almost demanding complete bliss to anyone who comes near.

I do.

I spend hours on my creation. My crude castle is built with the only tools I have – my hands, some shells, my heart and soul, and the memories of the sandcastle that we built together last year on a beach about 80 kilometers south of where I now sit.

I dig deep to bring up the wet sand and I create large wells and moats around the buildings. My plan of one or two simple and quick buildings turns to eight and soon a small city. Some are taller than others, but all have the finishing touch that she taught me to add – rows of shells top the building like the frosting on a cake to declare the completion. I pick her favorite colored shells – in hues of yellow and orange as I play the child that I miss so much.

As I cry remembering her last lisped filled words before I flew to Costa Rica this time without her.

“Mommy, all I want you to do is build a sandcastle for me and send me a picture.”

costa-rica-sand-castle
The sand takes the imprint of my foot – my present, but leaves a deeper one of what I’ve left behind. Just months ago the waves crashed on 50 toes as five bodies browned in the hot sun. Three children’s gleeful voices rang loud at the sight of howling monkeys and horses on the beach. We ate outside as a family in the early dark nights listening to the waves and animals in the damp Costa Rican air together.

But now I’m alone.

Vacationing in a new place as a family is like sharing the very best secrets together. Memories and places and times and experiences that can be told to others but can never really be understood. We can share in great detail about our day riding horses through the jungles and galloping on the beach. But unless you were there, you will never know or remember the joy on our faces, the small moments of conversation and discoveries, the smell of the salt air mixed with the wet horse hair, or how the local lunch tasted of newness and goodness like no other lunch will ever taste. Like this is a secret society of discovery or a club that only allows you in half way without whispering the password of our family.

And now I feel like I am betraying our family trust by heading to our secret club without my people. Can I enjoy the beach and beauty of this country fully without whispering to them about my experiences. Am I cheating on our memories.

This is how it is within a family. Shared secrets and dances and lives all intertwined together with a lock to keep others out of our most sacred moments together.

And family travel builds this club house even stronger like the largest scavenger hunt where we all learn and win. Discovering new together is a bond that holds like no other. And why Costa Rica will always be “ours” and never just mine or theirs no matter how many times we go together or alone. And I know that many other places will be the same. From the corners of the Earth to the coffee shop we all share down the street.

footprints-in-the-sand

So I don’t stop my tears as I step back and admire my love work in the sand. But I do smile as I kneel down to take the picture she requested. Making sure I include the ocean beyond the yellow colored shells that I so carefully picked out just for her.

And I close my eyes and easily bring back the memories of building sandcastles together where I can almost feel her small hands touching mine in the sand, and I know there are many more for us to build together.

Memories and sandcastles.

 

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