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12/18/17

The Joy You Find in Grieving


I am normally not a “planner”. 

I grew up with a “stick to the schedule” dad and a “see where life takes you” mom. Naturally I was drawn to my mom’s wild spirit and zest for life. Let’s also be clear, my dad is a rockstar of a parent but his work kept him a bit further away but no less loving. My mom is an adventurer at heart. Funny enough, she has never left the US but she has big dreams to travel internationally soon. 

So growing up I tried to be organized and create a routine. Needless to say, I succeeded at following a schedule 60% of the time. I am easily distracted. 

Let’s fast forward to 2015. 

Mr. TooCuteRunner (we aren’t married but this will do) and I were looking to the future. Where did we want our careers to take us? Where did we want to live? Did we want to travel? Did we want to buy a van and be nomads? Were we going to have children? Would we get married? All the fun questions one has to face eventually but we were in our 30’s, it was time to figure some stuff out. 

First things first, we admitted to ourselves outright that we were happily selfish people. We loved every second that we could spend together and to this day (no exaggeration) we have never had a heated argument, just honest discussions. We love sleeping until 2 pm somedays and staying up until the sunrise. So that for us meant, no children. We know that for some it is such a natural calling, but we just don’t have that. Don’t get me wrong, any baby that I see I will “coo” and wave but it’s nice to know they aren’t coming home with me. 

Traveling was an easy decision, I have always been a travel bug and he loved being at home. So naturally any races locally he would join and then I would travel solo, which worked perfect! 

Our first apartment was great! It was so terrific that when we ran out of space, we upgraded to one floor up. The “van-life” would wait a bit but it was still on our minds. 

Then, of course, the “getting married” talk happened. I don’t want to share too many personal details but I will give you this. Both of us have gone through many relationship trials. Broken hearts, long distance, engagements, and for me an agonizing divorce. We decided from day one, we were it for each other. So the plan still is to this day, we will get engaged and married in the same week. Of course, we will throw a crazy party for our family and friends so they don’t kill us. There is just a stability we are chasing, individually and as a couple. We are happy knowing we are on the same page and moving in the same direction side by side. 

Phew. 

So with that our little plan of life together started to develop.

Lucky for us, we had great stable jobs that we loved. Being in Seattle at the time, we were a part of the mega tech boom and our jobs felt like a lock. Little did we know that very quickly it would all change. By August 2016, the Mr. TCR had been hired to a new position and a new company. It was a dream for him and it meant it was my chance to find that next step in my career. By Halloween, I was the lead for the HR department at a local non-profit art college and I was ECSTATIC! 

The plan.

With our financial stability close in sight, we decided that in 2019 Mr. TCR would leave the tech world and we would move out into the country. I would consult and work remotely while he managed our farm/home. I picked out all the animals we would have (so many dogs), what we would produce and we settled on Washington state. With my new role, we were lucky to be earning more than enough to save a substantial amount over the course of 2 years. It felt good to know that we were moving toward a lifetime achievement both of us never really felt was possible. 

The news. 

Summer 2017 was by far the most whirlwind time in our lives. EVER. Can I just point out how we should always prepare for something crazy to happen, especially when everything is so calm for too long? I remember the day so vividly. I took off of work because we had just moved into a new apartment and everyone hates Monday’s. I picked up Mr. TCR after his night shift after a sweaty barre class. While pulling away from his office, he asks “Do you want to hear something crazy?”. My first thought was “Who got fired?”. He goes on tell me that his boss had sat him down and asked him “Do you want to move to Amsterdam?”. He told me his reaction was the same one I was having in the car. Laughter. So much laughter. I was in shock. He was in shock. Once I stopped laughing and gathered myself, he shared with me all the details and lack thereof. Much of it was still being worked out but basically a new office was opening with a small crew, they wanted him there. He told them he would talk to me but he knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime. 

We spent the next few months waiting, planning, packing and saying goodbye to Seattle. It was hard, I’m not going to lie. Both of us had built so much separate and together. You know, it’s like you look around your home and everything you built with such awe. I was proud of us. I was proud of him. I am proud of him. 

I was lucky to leave my job almost a month before we moved to relax before our move and get everything sold, packed, and thrown away. I took a video in our empty apartment, turned in the keys and spent the last night in the US with a smile. 

Fast forward. 

Now, we are coming on our 120 day mark in Amsterdam! It truly feels like such a whirlwind and success. Mr. TCR is kicking ass everyday and supporting us while I search for a job. We live in a great neighborhood in the heart of the city and have adapted pretty well thus far. (By the way, everyone told me before moving here that I shouldn’t worry everyone speaks English it will be fine. I almost cried when I went to the grocery story for the first time, all Dutch. Don’t worry I got it down now!)

Grieving is okay. 

A few days ago I was reading a blog post (now I wish I still had it handy) about giving yourself the ability to grieve your previous life. I was astonished at how much I could relate to exactly what this writer was feeling. We never really sat down and realized how much our move abroad would change “the plan”. I hadn’t really thought past each day or week; mainly because there was a lot to take in when we arrived in Amsterdam.  As I finished the article, I realized I was smiling and crying. What the heck? It never dawned on me that everything we had worked toward was now not in the cards, for the moment. I felt a little sick at the thought. Yes, I panicked. I felt a sincere amount of anxiety wash over me and suddenly... I felt inadequate. How was me sitting at home all day helping our life? What was I doing? Was Mr. TCR working too hard? What do I do? I know, I sounded a little crazy. But then I told myself you have to let yourself face these questions. Neither of you could predict this opportunity and you both knew (subconsciously at least) that this would change your lives forever. Most importantly, change was okay. We were going to be okay. I sat, cried, laughed, got angry and then laughed some more. 

Mr. TCR came home and I unloaded on him my revelation and of course, he calmed me and agreed. Yes, our plan changed but it wasn’t gone. We would still work toward our farm life but it would take a bit longer. Once I found a job I loved, we would be back on track toward stability. We are still disgustingly in love and act like kids. So really nothing has changed but our location. 

But I had to cry. I had to face the one thing (I thought was a perfect plan) that I had organized and charted out for our life. As I said in the beginning, I tried to use our plan to channel my dad. To be prepared and organized regardless. Funny enough, my mom’s wild spirit took over. We took a leap and changed our world. All for the better. 

Don’t be afraid to grieve a past life, a past self or the plan. We live in a beautiful ever-changing world and sometimes you get the calling of a lifetime. 

You should jump. I promise you won’t regret it. 

Here is to a happy, joyful and strong 2018!


11/21/17

Medals + Bibs + Memories


As runners, we amass an amazing collection of medals, bibs, tech gear, GPS watches, headbands and, of course, running shoes! I never really embraced my slight tendency of OCD until I became a runner. Now it is MORE THAN apparent. I love being able to pick a different color/pattern PRO Compression sock before each run. Yes, I have over 50 pairs through two logo changes. I have gone through three different models of Garmin watches, which are my lifeline.



Then there are the bibs and medals. I know some folks don’t necessarily keep their bibs because the medal is the prize. I am super nerdy and love to keep my bibs in a notebook that Mr. TCR got for me last Christmas. He also got me an incredible medal display for me to show off my accomplishments beginning in 2013. 



As you can imagine, as we prepared for our move to Amsterdam my running “life” was bundled with care and placed into a box. I made sure the medal hangar, medals, bibs, magnets I collected from my travels, a crazy amount of Sparkly Soul headbands, every running belt, R8 roller (gift), winter gear, honestly the list could go on. 

It was three weeks after arriving in Amsterdam when I had to face a sad truth: the postal service had unfortunately lost my box between Seattle and San Francisco. My heart sank into my stomach the day I saw it online and spoke to a representative. I felt like the years I spent dedicating time, money and grueling miles were lost. At the time, I was still dealing with a lot of stress in acclimating to our new home, learning the language and just getting comfortable. I hadn’t run or even attempted to go to a gym or exercise class. 

I felt really defeated. 

All the sacrifice was suddenly a weight on my mind and heart. I had dedicated my whole heart to running and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to recover. I had to keep my emotions in check because I am half of a whole. I have a wonderful man who supports me daily and is my biggest cheerleader. He kept me positive and even spent hours on the phone with every person at USPS possible. He knows that there is a unexplainable relationship with running and this community. He has seen it build me up to be a confident and strong woman. I know it broke his heart just as much as mine. 

We are now almost 90 days from when we left the States and we have been advised to anticipate the package not being found. I have been so determined to not let this bring me down anymore. I don’t want to let these objects to ruin my passion for running. I have the beautiful memories of every race, the incredible runners I met, and the feeling of crossing each finish line with a smile on my face. 

There isn’t a medal or bib that can take away that feeling. I will keep the memory close of my first half marathon, Indianapolis Monumental in 2013, and how I was so scared. It was below freezing and I was so unprepared mentally. I remember the last half mile and the wind feeling like daggers on my face. I was so happy to see the finish line because I knew it was real. I was a runner. I never gave up. I will remember that 16 days later I would run the Rock’n’Roll San Antonio Half Marathon in the complete opposite weather. It was over 100 degrees and I thought finishing would never happen. Luckily, I have a super positive cousin who was also running and she helped me get through the last few miles. You can read my fun recap here. (http://www.toocuterunner.com/2013/11/2-half-marathons-16-days-mission.html)

Each race I have completed has been an accomplishment beyond words. 

Even this year at the Mesa-Phoenix Half Marathon, I PR’d by over 27 minutes! It was my first half marathon since 2015 and I killed it. I felt calm and at peace with my training. It all fell beautifully in place. I felt so good, I ran the Rock’n’ Roll San Francisco Half and Dallas 5K and Half back to back only 2 weeks after Phoenix! 

I did it! 


I could not be more proud. Everyone in my life is so proud of me. 

Just typing this brings tears to my eyes because while it hurts, I know it is not the end. I will again amass a collection of running gear, medals, and bibs. Most importantly, I will have a HUGE amount of new memories! I will drive Mr. TCR crazy for spending gobs of money on headbands, running shoes, headlamps, and traveling to races in Europe. I am lucky that he has worked so hard to cheer me on at finish lines and training runs. He will keep reminding me that I have accomplished so much and we will keep those memories alive. 

So 2018, watch out. I am coming for more!



P.S. My collection of PRO compression socks made it to Amsterdam. Those bad boys ended up in my suitcase!

12/28/16

Reality Check In

Now before you start thinking is going to be a mushy post; just wait a second and see where we go. 

When I started this blog in 2013, I had this huge goal of devoting my time to sharing my journey. Whether it was relationships, family, running, traveling or the fact that some days are tough; that is where I wanted to end up. As you can imagine life took me by surprise and nothing really happened the way I planned. Sadly, I didn't have any support in my relationship (at the time) to blog, run, travel, or even exist independently. I lost track of who I was and my motivation diminished over time. I developed guilty emotions around going for a run or even taking an hour to blog. After many arguments, I realized that stepping away from running and this blog would solve the problems. Looking back, I have realized that I let another person determine who I was going to be in life and how I was going to leave my mark on the world. 

I woke up in 2015, literally. They say major life events can stir you awake from a haze. I had to say goodbye to my beautiful Grandma. I had to leave my home to help plan and organize life for my Mom after she lost hers. I spent six weeks on journey to find out who I had become. At the end of it all, on my flight back to Seattle, I realized I didn't like me. I didn't like the passive voice I had developed; the timid personality. I wasn't in love. I wasn't me. Can I just say, it is quite terrifying to look yourself in the mirror and say "Hey, what happened? I don't recognize you and I think you should leave." How do you reach that point? Well, I didn't stop to try to figure it out; I was there and that was it. So let's briefly fast forward. In what remained of 2015, I was in a new job struggling through a tough divorce and developing a new relationship with myself. It was a bumpy journey but not to worry I came out of the haze with a clear head and heart. I learned to be independent again. I developed a new sense of confidence and self worth. I found out what love and being in love looked was supposed to be. I found a new appreciation for my friends and family. Frankly, I found joy again and I never looked back. 

As I write this, I realize that dredging up these feelings I had less than a year ago are tough to swallow. It's slightly terrifying to realize how far you let yourself go without anyone to pull you back. Luckily, I found a partner that doesn't hold me back but holds me up. He has defied everything I thought was "love" and "being loved". He became my best friend, confidant, cheerleader and giver of joy. Yes, I could write about him all day but he wouldn't want that. He wants me to celebrate all of my victories and give only myself credit. He is that humble and kind. 

Present day: I am full. Full of utter happiness. I can now continue to work towards every goal I set and not worry that it will be shut down. I could go on and on about the benefit of support, especially when it comes to dreams you have in life but I will leave it at that. 

Looking to 2017, I am thrilled to be able to chase every goal and milestone I want to hit! It is going to be a huge year not only for me but for every aspect of my life. I am looking forward to and adventure traveling/racing, self discovery and living in the moment. I cannot wait to take you all along for the ride. 

Here is to living life with joy in 2017!


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