The Gifts We Give and Get Back

Holy time machine! Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and now it’s past New Years I feel like I’ve been in a time warp for the past month and a half! I started two new jobs, doubled my concept of what a “long run” is, got back in the pool and am gearing up for the next big celebration following New Years.

WHAT?! You ask?! Martin Luther King Jr Day isn’t really a big celebration day, rather a day of remembrance… RIGHT, I know! A few days after we remember Dr. King we celebrate the day of my birth. January 18th, mark your calendars folks, with a big star, heart or whatever symbol reminds you of me the best… just don’t forget it!

But before we talk about my birthday, we have to talk about Christmas. I know, I know, that was sooooooo 2011, but I want to share what I gave my family. Being the poor, no-longer-a-college-student-but-still-cheap-like-one kind of lifestyle I am currently living I sent my mother and my father and gave my brother a homemade card, it was made with a lot of love and a lot of Modge Podge.

The card wasn’t really the present, the present was what was written on the back and on each card I wrote: I’m giving the gift of inspiration and support. And promised to find a race and train (from afar) with each family member. A half-marathon with my Dad, raising money and going on an epic adventure with Team Athena and my Mother, my brother and I still haven’t figured out what race, but something awesome to come I’m sure.

Right now, for me, life is about the connections, the commitments we make to ourselves and to the people we love. I want to embrace what I love to do and spread the knowledge I have, I want to inspire and continue to be inspired by the awesome people I surround myself with. Since moving west I’ve been in awe at the athletes I see everyday, inspired by their love of sport, the outdoors and healthy lives. The fresh air, the sunshine and the sacred conversations we have on the trail are enough to keep me running every day.

If you do nothing else today, tomorrow, the rest of the week take a step outside (even if there’s a foot of snow) and breathe in the air, remember your lungs, fill them, feel your body and what it is capable of. Our bodies are incredible machines and I think we sometimes forget that, so take a moment every day to collect your thoughts, slow down and breathe deeply.

Focus baby, just focus.

Typical conversation amongst friends:

“What do you want to do tonight?”

“Oooh, I dunno, grab a drink [at a loud bar with TVs], catch up [get drunk]?”

“Sounds good.”


Right? We’ve all had this conversation when trying to make time to meet up with people that we don’t see too often. It’s easy, convenient, and who doesn’t like a drink at happy hour?


Well, if you’re reading this you are either my friend and are just being nice (you know who you are!) or you are an active person and I bombard your Facebook or Twitter page every time I post—but somehow you get sucked back into reading this. (Thanks by the way!) We’re active people and most likely we surround ourselves with other active people.


I just had an extended trip back to where I lived, worked and went to school last week, I spread myself thin between Grand Rapids, Holland and St. Joe Michigan. My old roommate and I decided that instead of meeting up at dinnertime and drinking a few too many beers, we wanted to catch up over a morning coffee and then hit the matt. The yoga matt I mean! Emily has been going to Satya Yoga in Saugatuck, MI for a while and knew I’d love a class. This was the best way to begin the day and begin our day of catching up and making plans for future visits.


After my trip, I made plans to visit a friend in Pittsburgh, (about halfway home! Perfect!) Mid drive he texted and asked if I was into going to a Hot Yoga class that evening (heck yes! I screamed, and then promptly texted the same response back to him.) While the yoga in Saugatuck was more restorative this class at Amazing Yoga was not only amazing but was one hell of a work out! The instructor forced us to focus. Focus on our breathing, focus on our bellies, focus on the muscles we were using and focus on making sure we were using them correctly.


This is a new concept for me. Focus. Focus. Focus. It’s a great word. Not only am I focusing on using my muscles while I’m using them, I’m trying to focus on them to work harder and make sure I am using the correct ones to get the full effect of a run, cycle, yoga class, boxing work out…


Focus is a theme I’m trying to thread into the rest of my life as well. Each conversation we have is important, catching up over a beer is great, but focusing on what your friend is saying is what is going to be what’s important. These conversations we have everyday make us better friends, better companions and better people.


As you catch up with friends in life, move forward in your own life or make changes to, well, change, I urge you to remember to focus on what you’re doing in that moment. Work on one project at a time. Just be for a moment.


Whether catching up is over a beer, coffee, before you prepare to work your body. focus on what you are doing. It is so easy to be distracted by our phone, (which are now virtually computers in our pockets,) by television or by anything else that is around you.


I’m finding that the relationships I have are worth building and worth keeping, and the only way to accomplish both is to focus that energy to work the muscles, work the brain, and work the heart.