Gettin’ Junky With It! Oakland’s Junkapalooza 2014

It’s been a really long time since I’ve experienced the thrill of the hunt. Retro, unique items. Discounts. The feeling of achievement when you know you’ve scored that perfect item, the one that will either complete your ambiance or someone else’s if you’re gifting. That I was able to accomplish this task while doing something good for a small-town community only added to the task at hand.

Junkapalooza is like a massive garage sale, but with a big heart. Proceeds from the weekend’s sales will go towards improving Main St., which was badly damaged by tornadoes this past June. It was also a fundraiser for the West Nishna Heritage Museum. What I noticed immediately was how close-knit everyone is in Oakland, how they all pulled together to make this happen and to improve the place they call home.

Main St.

Main St.

I went on Sunday, which meant bigger bargains! I brought the 9-year old along; he loves garage sales just as much as I do. I knew this would be a nice outing for the two of us, and I invited a good friend of mine and her daughter came along, too. My friend is an avid saler. She puts me to shame! She quickly informed me that she’d be making two trips through, just to make sure she didn’t miss anything. I found two turtle garden figurines. The 9-year old purchased a gold pin with his own money, and a lollipop. The cherry on top was the specialty item I found for my best friend- I can’t mention what it is, just in case she’s reading this, but it’s going to make for a fantastic Christmas present! And it was so random!

The kids, checking out gourds

The kids, checking out gourds




I had the pleasure of running into Bolton Carley, who helped put the whole shindig together. We’re both involved in the Omaha Blogger’s Group and had never met before in person. It was great getting to chat, and she gave me some good pointers regarding my blog. She’s from Oakland, and it shows. Anyone we ran into or spoke with (including Bolton) were nothing short of kind and incredibly friendly. That’s hard to find nowadays, but not in Oakland. In Oakland, it’s par for the course. I overheard someone mention that they most likely will host Junkapalooza again next year, because fixing up a city can be an expensive endeavor. Trust me, we’ll be first in line! It was a lot of fun. The kids loved it, my friend (the garage sale connoisseur) loved it. What a great way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon!




Run Less, Lift More?

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Denise chose: Write about 3-5 things that you used to love, enjoy doing, etc., in the past but now you don’t like. Or, write about stuff you used to not like but have grown to enjoy. And feel free to throw in one thing you’ve always loved and always will.

When Denise told us the topic, I told her how I’d been thinking that very thing during a drive recently. When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get that coveted driver’s license. I even conjured up a blog topic for all of us regarding my first driver’s test (and fail) and how exuberant I felt when I could finally hold that little plastic card in my hand and man a vehicle all on my own. There was freedom. There was this undeniable cool factor attached to me, attached to anyone in their teen years who can say with pride that they have their own car.

My first driver's license

My first driver’s license

I don’t feel like that anymore. I could care less about being the one behind the wheel. If someone else wants to drive, so be it. I don’t really enjoy driving anymore, no one cares that I am toting around an SUV with two kids (and now, sometimes a kitten), and I don’t feel undeniably cool or as though I’ve got this pass to freedom. Not that I don’t enjoy road trips. I do. As long as someone else is driving me to our destination.

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning fitness, and how much it’s changed my life for the better. I haven’t always been this obsessed with health and wellness. A lot of what I’ve had to say in the past relates to my rocky journey, those first shaky steps on a treadmill which ultimately led me towards running two marathons. I’m not naturally gifted when it comes to being fit. I’m naturally clumsy. I still enjoy sweets and I’m not overly crazy or psycho about counting calories or trying to get back into some tiny size I used to wear when I was a young adult. I merely try to live a healthy lifestyle, to participate in activities that I enjoy. Running was never on the agenda, but it grew on me and became a passion of mine, opening doors to other arenas.

Lately I’ve felt more tired and sluggish, though. The last several months I was heavily focused on cardio and wasn’t really seeing, or most importantly, feeling a difference with my body. I focused on eating a well-balanced diet, trying to cut back some on the carbs (if I could, and not that I haven’t, but if I could that’s all I’d eat, those delicious carbs). Eating this way made me feel weak, shaky, light-headed. I didn’t feel right. I was doing some research online and found a website regarding reverse dieting. A woman my age wrote about the same thing I was going through. She was really focused on a heavy cardio lifestyle, was cutting back on carbs and eating super healthy yet not seeing or feeling the results she expected. From the before photos, it appears she’s thin and “in shape”, but skinny doesn’t necessarily = healthy. She started a reverse diet plan, where instead of holding herself to a strict caloric diet, she focused more on consuming whole foods, healthy foods and increasing her caloric intake while counting macros/micros, along with a heavy weight training schedule. Building strong, lean muscle. This went against everything I’ve ever participated in for the past five years. Running multiple miles had always been my motto, but it was obvious it wasn’t working for me and I was searching for something different. I’ve done weight training classes in the past but it wasn’t my cup of tea. I did it merely to supplement my marathon training. My husband had recently purchased a weight set for me for my birthday so branching out and doing something different, something I’m not used to was the direction I decided to take.

For the past two months I’ve been incorporating the weight training routine from Corina Nielsen’s site. I started out with the sample weight training workout she offers,  changing it up every few weeks by browsing various work out routines online for different areas of the body. Here’s the one I have for the next few weeks.  I lift as heavy as I safely can, gradually increasing the weights weekly. Here’s what I’ve done so far for September. While I haven’t noticed much of a difference in my weight (which is fine, I am at a healthy weight), I have noticed I feel a lot stronger and I have a lot more energy. I’m not tired or sluggish. I still eat healthy but I’m not restrictive on carbs, as long as what I choose are healthier options, like whole-wheat pastas, etc. I still practice yoga daily, focusing on my compulsory poses . I still run, too, just not into double-digit miles. The workout in it’s entirety takes anywhere from 60-90 minutes depending on the day and what I’m doing, all of which can be done in the morning before the rest of the house is up (I’m an early riser) or I can spread it out through the day, which I’ve had to do for various reasons. It’s been a really flexible plan for me and if I miss a day or have to cut it short? It’s no biggie.


With all that said, however… I’m still a runner at heart. I’m not opposed to training or running another marathon. It’s marathon season here in Omaha, and I’m starting to feel that itch in my Brooks to pound pavement. Don’t be surprised if you see me blogging next year regarding the next big race and the training it will take for me to get there. Ultimately, I feel blessed that I’m physically able to run, to lift weights, the yoga… to be a participant in all of this and continually branch out in an effort to discover and to become a healthier me. 

the first race ever- the Omaha marathon. Ran a half

my first race- the Omaha 1/2 marathon, 2009. I’ll be back!


Sandwiches and the Wilting Spider

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Tracey chose: Those that get it will understand

When I saw the topic for this week, I immediately thought about inside jokes and life experiences.

Last night I had a visitor. A good friend of mine was in the neighborhood and had a couple of things to drop off. This is the same friend I adopted Chance from and who I affectionately refer to as his Aunt, so of course she stayed a while and spent some time with the little guy. While I attempted to syringe feed him (kitten formula going every which way but into the kitten’s mouth) I admitted to my friend how hard it’s been acclimating to life with Chance. He can’t eat out of a bowl yet. Or won’t, believe me I’ve tried to coax him off the syringe and onto a bowl of formula. I’ve even gotten down on my hands and knees pretending to lap up the formula myself, hoping he’ll watch me with interest. He’ll walk up to me and keeps on walking. He turns his nose up at wet food, even when I offer that to him at almost every feeding. He wants to get into everything or under everything, and the other day he was so excited to see me that he went barreling down the hallway and tumbled down a few steps. I had to catch him before he continued rolling down the stairs into the living room.  I keep a watchful eye around him with my boys and our dog, and not that they don’t do well with Chance, but Chance is so tiny. He sleeps in my room and if he hears us make any noise he wakes up. It’s not a big deal, not unless I have to go and do something extremely important like pick my son up from school. This happened yesterday. Chance can’t be contained anymore. He climbs right out of any box you place him in, so he mournfully meowed and I felt as though the clock was ticking while I was out. He is getting a lot better with the litter box, but there are still contingencies with that. I have to watch for ques to know when to plop him in so he’ll do the deed in the right place. All of this leads to proper training, and all of it leads to a great kitty later on, but this part is hard when throwing in my boys, my husband, my house, etc. Life doesn’t stop, not even for Chance.

It was nice getting this off my chest with someone who completely understood why I was wearing formula-covered pajama bottoms and a kitten saliva-stained t-shirt (Chance is teething. Big time.) My friend said, “Sara, I totally get it.” She’d been there not a few weeks prior, dealing with the same stuff I am currently dealing with before I took him in. She also gently reminded me that it would only last a couple of more weeks before Chance would be eating on his own, drinking on his own, and in such a short amount of time everything will fall nicely into place, and all this hard work will have paid off. It’s just nice to be understood, even when I say, “It’s time for Chance to take a nap.” I know, that sounds weird, but for anyone who has taken care of a newborn animal they will totally get it.

I love inside jokes. Nothing brings people closer than having something intimate that they can share. I won’t divulge all of my inside jokes, but there are a few worth mentioning. Anytime my husband or I say the word “sandwiches”, we say it… well, you have to see the G.I. Joe Sandwiches clip to understand. It just slips out, every single time! Years ago, while working as a leasing agent with women who would later become my best friends for life, I came up with the wilting spider. I stood in place, arms slowly wrapping around myself as I collapsed down towards the floor, just like a spider who is slowly dying would do. We still use this one on occasion whenever any of us feel as though life is particularly tough. We just stand there and do the wilting spider. There’s also pantomiming absolute fear when sitting in the passenger side of a vehicle. I was dating someone who was a bit of a pain in the ass during my reckless 20’s, and to be funny I plastered my face to the passenger-side window, palms pressed on either side of me, pretending to scream. My friends were standing and watching the spectacle the entire time. We’ll do that one on occasion if we are about to embark on a journey we don’t really feel like taking. Recent inside jokes involve my kids. When stress levels hit an all-time high, humor always helps. When either boy wants something, they have a tendency to pull the Stewie card, from Family Guy. “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom…”  To be funny, my husband and I will face one another and begin to keep track of how many times they say my name, or his. We show the count by using our hands. “One. Two. Three. Four…” We wont’ say a word and try not to laugh while we do this, but it’s hard not to. I don’t think the boys have caught on yet. It still remains a little inside joke, helping us sail an at-times chaotic sea.


The New Guy In My Life

A few years ago, my husband and I created a little mantra- just between us. I’ll share it with you now.

“NO more kids. NO more pets. NO more grapes.”

It’s not that we’re against children. It’s that we’re  happy with the two we have, and we decided two for us was plenty. We’re not against pets, either, but we were looking forward to a pet dander-less existence after our dog Duke and cat Tank kicked the bucket. As for the grapes? We never get lucky with grapes. They always go bad a day or two after we’ve purchased them, so why buy spoiled grapes?

Really, this is entirely my fault.

I’ve bought plenty of grapes since the mantra. But come on, who can live without grapes? The kids love them. Deep down, so do I. Why deprive ourselves? This brings me to pets. I’ve gone back on that one, too. There was the infamous Snakey. And the infamous guinea pig Timmy, who we know will outlive all of us. We’ve got a fish- does he count as a pet? I don’t know if that one really counts.

So, a few weeks ago a good friend of mine tells me she’s taking care of a newborn kitten. It’s mother had abandoned him. My friend had these appointments and errands she needed to run, and would I be so kind as to babysit the newborn kitten while she goes to said appointments and runs said errands? Who was I to say no? The moment I placed the tiny little guy in the palm of my hand (that’s how tiny he was, he fit right into the very palm of my hand) I told her, “He’s mine.” There was this instant connection. I had this strange feeling that the kitten belonged to me. Mantra be damned! My husband didn’t want to back down on the mantra. “What about the rules? Why do you keep breaking the rules?” Because sometimes, rules are meant to be broken, am I right? And sometimes, moments occur in life where you have to do what feels right regardless of some mantra you made up a few years ago. Times change, and you have to change with it.

We officially adopted the little guy on August 22nd.


That’s the day I brought him home. The guinea pig is a lot bigger, but that comes as no surprise to me. The guinea pig can eat.

Here he is now:



He’s 4 weeks old today. He’s a lot of work. It’s like having a baby in the house all over again- there are syringe feedings and a few unmentionables I won’t bring up other than to say that these little guys don’t know how to use the bathroom on their own when they are really tiny. He chews on me or my clothing due to teething, and has had a few accidents here and there although he’s becoming a champ at the litter box. Such a fast learner.

I really love him. He’s becoming a part of our family. The boys love him, Duke loves him, the guinea big tolerates him (the pig merely tolerates everyone), and even my husband is coming around. We’ve named him Chance, which seems so fitting. The way he came into the world and the way he ended up in our home was all a matter of chance, and I’m so glad he did.

Here’s a status update my husband put on Facebook recently, after we decided to keep Chance: “All women are evil tricksters who manipulate men into adopting kittens”. Touche, husband. Touche. But don’t worry, the next time I see you two cuddling with each other, I won’t snap a photo and blog about it. Your secret is safe with me.

An interesting video regarding men and kittens

When Goofy Met Chainsaw

Hey, it’s Thursday…. and you know what that means!

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Melissa ‘s choice:  Friend matchmaking:  Tell us about a time you were “set up” for a friendship with someone.  Or a time you matched two friends together.  (Or both.)  Please keep it to “in person” friendships only since it’s way too easy to connect people online these days.

I moved around a lot as a kid. We were always skirting around the Salem, OR area but traveling from one school district to the next. During my elementary years alone I’d gone to 5 schools. My 5th grade year was spent at Swegle Elementary school (Swegle Eagles, yo!) and I became friends with a girl who we’ll call Robin. She was a beautiful little thing with long blond hair and green eyes, and I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t think she was wonderful, boys and girls included. I counted her as one of my best friends.

Then we moved. Again. We went from the north area of Salem to West Salem. I started a new school my 6th grade year, Robin long gone but not entirely forgotten. I’d think of her on occasion, along with my other classmates who I knew I’d never see again. Moving schools as often as I had, I knew the score even at 11.

When I started high school, I walked into my Concert Choir class and ran right into Robin! She was still beautiful, still had an adorable dimple in her left chin when she smiled, and we picked right back up where we’d left off. We’d have lunch together, we’d write notes to one another. She was a lot more adventurous and daring, I was more reserved and cautious. She brought out the best in me, and she brought out the worst in me. She was the first person I skipped school with, and the first person I smoked weed with. I met my first boyfriend through her, and we’d go on double dates. Our boyfriends worked together at a local 76 gas station so we’d always go and visit with them during the late night shifts. It felt as though things were falling nicely into place.

I felt the shift shortly after my boyfriend and I had been dating a few months. Looking back on the situation, I can see that Robin was a tad bit jealous of all the time I was spending apart from her. If I evaluated it further, I’d see that really, Robin became territorial over a lot of people in her life. She would say a lot of hurtful things about my new relationship, how wrong we were for each other, how I should break things off. I felt like she was making me choose between the two of them. When I told her I didn’t see things her way, she retaliated. I’d get an invite for a weekend stay at her house, and after I’d get dropped off at her door step, I’d find out that Robin had “forgotten” about our plans and was staying over at someone else’s house. She totally set me up! The first couple of times I brushed it off, but the third time I didn’t have it in me to tell my Grandma who had taken the time to drive me over to Robin’s house that plans were cancelled, yet again. Plus, I was starting to feel like a moron. And a loser. When Robin’s sister Goofy opened the door and invited me to stay the weekend with her, (you can read all about our nicknames and why we have them) I was more than grateful. Goofy was really laid back and calm. She was super nice and a lot of fun to hang with, and even when an age difference of a year and a half might be detrimental to a friendship when you are teenagers (not to mention she was the sister of my supposed “best friend”), it didn’t matter. We became fast friends.


After a lot of drama and a lot of fighting, Robin and I “broke up”. We drifted apart and we haven’t talked to one another in years. I’ll see her on occasion, though. Whenever I visit my hometown, I always visit Goofy and there have been times when Robin is around, too. We are cordial but there is definite distance between us. She put me through the wringer during my teen years, but I am so glad I met her. If I’d never met Robin, I would have never met Goofy. She was so important to my well-being when I was a kid and she still is today. She’s like a sister to me, and I appreciate having her in my life.


Along with her husband- they were our witnesses when we got married. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.



Love, Lies and Lemon Cake: A Book Review

Love this book! Take a look!

It’s the End of the Line….

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

I was making dinner when my husband told me the news about Robin Williams. My immediate response was, “Is that for real?” I know some people like to add false reports to the online rumor mill, and often a celebrity has “passed away” who is in fact alive and well in Tinseltown. After he confirmed that Williams had in fact passed away, my second response was, “I’m shocked, but I’m not surprised.” Not that I’m an expert on human behavior or a licensed psychologist, but he acted erratically a lot of the time, and his attention seemed to always be on making others laugh and making others feel good, bypassing his own happiness. I think he was a man in immense pain, a pain no one could really fathom or understand. The news made me feel somber and introspective, and of course like probably everyone else out there, I started to Google Williams and check out random videos from charity events and speaking engagements and movie clips. I wanted to feel as though someone I’d practically grown up with, someone who had entertained me, made me cry, made me laugh and did such wonderful things for humanity was still there, was still a part of my world.

I dwelled on other celebrities who had passed away shockingly in my lifetime, the ones I took great pause for when initially hearing the news. For this week: Robin Williams’ death has shocked the world.  What celebrity deaths have you found most shocking, and why?

I was in the third grade when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded during its flight, killing all seven crew members on board, including a teacher named  Christa McAuliffe. She was part of the Teacher in Space Project, and was the first teacher launched into space. A television had been brought into my classroom for the special event, and we watched with anticipation, only to become a witness to tragedy. I bet most of the people from my generation remember that day in 1986.

A few years earlier (1981), John Walsh was desperately looking for his son, Adam. Adam had been abducted from a Sears store in Florida, and later found slain. Even though I was only a few years old, I remember this. At the time, John wasn’t a celebrity. He worked in hotel management during the time of his son’s abduction, but afterwards he strove to ensure that no other child would go through what his son had gone through. John became the host of America’s Most Wanted to help catch criminals. Code Adam, a missing children’s safety program created by Walmart went into effect in 1994, locking down department stores throughout the country if there was a potential abduction. It’s still used nation-wide to this day.

Where were you in ’94 when you heard that Kurt Cobain was dead? I was in high school, and couldn’t believe it. Nirvana had been my favorite band. I still have every CD, even the ones where Kurt is mostly screaming. I’m the girl who was dancing to Smells Like Teen Spirit during a middle school dance while everyone else just stood around watching me in bemusement. There were a lot of conspiracy theories, but it all led to the same consensus: a true talent was gone.

I love Saturday Night Live, and two of the alums, Chris Farley (d.1997) and Phil Hartman (d. 1998) were like shining stars, with lights that faded out way too soon.  So incredibly sad.

I love all sorts of music and have always been partial to Tupac’s. There was something about him, a tough gangster who was on the verge of becoming a super star. He always sang about his reality, even if it didn’t fit into what was right for everyone else. Shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in 1998, his potential on this Earth had been cut too short.

I was visiting my hometown of Salem, OR when I heard the news about Aaliyah (d.2001). It was on the drive over, and all the radio stations were broadcasting the tragedy. The small plane she’d chartered during an overseas trip for a music video had crashed, and everyone on board perished. I remember feeling incredibly shocked at the news. I loved her music.

Britney Murphy… I thought she was great in Clueless, her breakout movie and the indie movie Drop Dead Gorgeous. I feel she was just getting started before passing away from cardiac arrest in 2009.

In more recent years, the deaths of Philip Seymore Hoffman (d.2014) and Paul Walker (d.2013)  presented shocking scenarios. Walker died from a car accident. Hoffman from a drug overdose. Both men were too young, as are the rest of the people on my list. I think it’s always more of a shock when it turns out to be someone who never got to live as long of a life as you’d anticipate. It doesn’t seem fair and that makes it all the more tragic.

So, what celebrity deaths have shocked you the most?


Check Out Oakland’s Junkapalooza (And Win Free Tickets!)


Are you someone who enjoys a good run to the local antique store? Do you get all sorts of giddy when you’ve found a unique treasure, the kind you set center stage on the mantel? Or, are you a crafty person who enjoys making art with your hands? Even if you don’t, but want a nice, relaxing way to spend a weekend, you need to check out Junkapalooza!

Hosted by: Nishna Heritage Museum

When is it: September 13th and 14th, 2014

Where: Oakland, IA- more specifically, Main Street Oakland, IA (click here for a map)

What time: 9am-7pm Saturday and 9am-4pm Sunday

Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for kids and free to those 2 and under (discounted coupons will be available prior to September 1st if you pick them up at the museum and sign the guestbook)

Want to showcase your own special treasures? Contact Gayle Strickland at or 712-482-3436 for vendor opportunities.

You’ll find all things retro, vintage, antique, new and never seen before. Repurposed, unique, or items that might just compliment your own masterpiece in the making! Local musicians will play over the course of the 2-day event, and free balloons for the kiddies! Proceeds go to the Nishna Heritage Agricultural Gardens, for the town of Oakland.

Enter to win two free tickets! Simply comment with your e-mail address on this post, and you’ll be entered into a drawing through RandomPicker.  Drawing will be held on Friday, September 5th. I’ll contact you via your e-mail address if you are the winner!

Happy junking!


What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger… But It Can Hurt Like Hell.

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Denise chose: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Man, ain’t that the truth? I mean, something good has to come out of a truly difficult situation. The silver lining better be there, somewhere, otherwise, what’s the point? A good friend of mine once said that making the right choice most likely will be the hardest road you have to walk on, and for good reason. That’s how life lessons are made and how we build that thick outer skin required to survive on God’s green earth. While I’ve seen plenty of sunshiny days with a life filled with happiness, I’ve also seen a lot that makes me want to clutch at my chest in pain and agony.

What hasn’t killed me but made me stronger?

1. Having my kids. It all started with a fear of needles. I don’t do needles, not unless absolutely necessary, so you can imagine the answer I gave when asked if I wanted to have an epidural. I freaked out when a shunt was placed into my hand. The nurses made me do it, just in case I needed fluids or something. My firstborn’s delivery pales in comparison to the second. I won’t ever forget the pain, which was worse after he was already out of my body. I had severe cramping, and you better believe I was asking for pain meds then, but I wasn’t listed in the hospital’s “system” yet to receive any drugs, and I ended up waiting with excruciating pain for over 90 minutes. I felt I was dying, pale and shaking. I was like an addict whenever a nurse walked in, grabbing at their scrubs, begging for relief. I know, that doesn’t sound like a very good experience, but leading up to that I think it went pretty well. I don’t begrudge anyone’s personal choice when it comes to their own babies- epidural or otherwise. Delivering a baby in and of itself can be equatable to running a marathon, but I have to admit I’m proud of myself and the choice I made to go natural. Even if it did hurt like hell.


2. The death of a loved one. When my friend Jill died, it killed me. I think to some extent I am still recovering from it and always will be. There are moments where I want to visit her or share something with her, and I can’t do that. And I’m no good with not being allowed to do something I want to do. It makes me want to do it all the more, and while I know I can talk to her in spirit, I can’t see those obnoxious facial expressions she’d make when she thought I was doing something stupid, or hear her voice when she’d laugh at me for doing something stupid. As much as we picked on each other, I know we loved each other a whole lot. People will always enter and exit my life but few make a life-long lasting impression on me, and she did that. Not just for my life but for everyone who knew her. Whether that impression was good or bad, no one can forget or ever will forget Jill. She was tough and kicked ass, and when I’m feeling doubt about a situation I say to myself, “What would Jill Erin do?” I channel some of that toughness.


3. Growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. My sister and I were recently reminiscing about our childhoods. It was so different when were young whippersnappers. I was allowed to go and do whatever I wanted, little sis in tow. We didn’t live in the best of neighborhoods. There were drugs, there was drinking, there were scary people in and out of our lives and we witnessed more than two little girls should ever be privy to. Yet two things happened. One, we figured out how to survive our environment. And two, we got out. Our focus has always been on how to be better than what we saw as children, swearing never to be like that with our own. While I am glad my boys have it good, I appreciate where I came from. It made me adaptable, appreciable, and strong.


4. Running a marathon. Years ago, I was watching Road Rules/Real World on MTV. It was an episode where the challenge was running a race, and the girl running was someone who was used to doing 5K’s and what not. I remember watching her and thinking she was NUTS! It didn’t look fun or like anything I’d ever want to do, not ever. NEVER. Fast forward roughly fifteen years, and there I was at the Omaha marathon, at mile 20, forcing myself to continue on. I thought for sure I’d have to stop and lie down. There were plenty of medics around who could assist me onto their golf carts and whisk me away to someplace with shade, preferably air conditioning. That became a dream for me, the thought of a place where I could just sit with air conditioning. My body was screaming at me, upset that I’d ever embarked on the journey to run 26.2 miles, but in the end I did it. I wasn’t going to complete 20 miles and give up. I ran it in over 5 hours, with a lot of walking sprinkled in, but I finished it and that’s all that mattered to me. I worked hard, I trained hard, and I could finally say I ran a marathon.

sara run

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger

What hasn’t killed you but made you stronger? 



Why I Haven’t Run In Weeks… And I’m Okay With That…

So, Friday morning I went grocery shopping and one of the store clerks assisted me out to my car. Normally I can push my own cart full of groceries, but this week I had a lot more bags than I usually do, and the little guy couldn’t sit up front in the cart like he normally would. The clerk notices the two bumper stickers I have on the back of my car.

This is the 2nd 13.1 sticker I've had to get. They never stick.

This is the 2nd 13.1 sticker I’ve had to get. They never stick.

“So, you’ve run a marathon?”

I always get a little weird when people ask me that. I know, I have two stickers proclaiming it on the back of my car. If I’m going to have those stickers on the back of my car, I have to anticipate that somewhere, on occasion, people will actually ask about the stickers. And yes, I have BOTH. A half-marathon is just as important and takes a lot of effort and totally counts in my book, even though I’ve had people ask me why I have both showcased on my car, as though once I’ve run a full marathon it should totally negate the half.

“Yep, I sure have.” I tell the clerk this while helping him load bags into the trunk.

“That’s pretty cool. My son is training for a full right now. He’s at 23 miles.”

“That’s awesome!”

He continues assisting me and telling me about his son and how hard he’s worked, and while he talks to me I start to feel a little envious. It’s been a long time, a really, really long time since I’ve trained for a race. All the races I’ve worked myself up for this year were either rained out or cancelled. Or went bankrupt. Except for one, and it was a 5K.

As the last bag gets tossed in and the trunk door slammed shut, he asks me where I ran my marathon.

“I did Omaha, and Des Moines.”

More congrats were in order, and I wished his son luck while he encouraged me to get back onto the marathon training horse and continue on with what my original plan had been all along: to run a marathon in every state.

I dwelled a lot on the conversation while driving home. The way it felt to get another mile out of the way. Keeping to a strict training schedule, feeling accomplished. I do miss that from time to time, especially with how nice the weather has been this summer, how perfect running conditions would be for me. It was sort of “my thing”, you know? “Hey, you know that Sara girl… yeah, she runs marathons“. It doesn’t even matter how fast  I run them or how well I run them, it’s a certain bizarre prestige that comes with being that crazy marathon running girl.

Meh. (You can’t see it, but I just shrugged).

Running will always be in my blood. I will never truly walk (or run) away from it. And when I’m ready to return, I know that I’ll be welcomed back with open arms. There will always be an exciting race around the corner. This year though, my plan has been to seek out other avenues. I’ve had a lot present itself, a lot that has forced me to look at fitness from an entirely new perspective. That maybe running isn’t the end all to fitness and that maybe it’s okay to be a little bit more well-balanced in my approach. After training for the now defunct Hard Charge race, I stopped caring so much about the end result and cared more about how the training made me feel. What an eye opener! I did some research and found a website that gave a lot of information regarding reverse dieting and strength training, something I’ve never really put a lot of effort into other than the barbell classes I’d take with friends when I had a gym membership. My husband purchased a barbell and weight set for me, for my birthday- which fit perfectly into the strength training I want to incorporate, along with the yoga competition training. It’s not that I’ve entirely given up on cardiovascular workouts. I know they still have a place in my life, but as far as race training is concerned, I’m taking a break from that to pursue other interests. And really, why the hell not? In the end, it’s still about being healthy and feeling good, inside as well as out. Ultimately, isn’t that the goal?

Maybe this should be my next bumper sticker?



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