Because it’s nice to be thought of sometimes

Because I really love people and am fascinated by their stories and personalities, I sometimes I listen in on their conversations that don’t necessarily directly involve me.

Especially in elevators.

One day last week, I was on my way back up to the office after lunch, and the two women in the elevator with me were talking about a little note that her husband had written her and stuck in her purse that morning without her knowing it. It was simply a quick “Go kick today’s a$*. I love you!” note, but it seemed like a really sweet gesture to me. The woman’s friend agreed and said something that stuck with me.

It’s always nice to be thought of.

This is way old, but I love these sibs of mine.

As I stepped off of the elevator, that phrase resonated with me for a bit. She’s right—it’s truly comforting to know that someone out there is thinking of you and lets you know about it. I recently had something I had to face that gave me a bit of anxiety, and the morning of that day, both my brother and sister texted me to wish me luck and to let me know that they were thinking of me and love me. It touched my heart more than they likely knew, and it helped to ease some of my worries knowing that I had their love and support from afar.

As humans, we’re pretty sensitive creatures, so the opposite is true, as well: It can hurt when people don’t think of us or don’t reach out to show us that they care. Whether it’s our friends or family members or coworkers or those for whom we have deep feelings, the individuals in our lives can impact our moods and our hearts when it feels like they don’t truly care about us simply because they aren’t investing time and energy into showing us how much we mean to them.

I was so sad when Ashley moved to Nebraska, but I’m so thankful for our weekly phone dates.

I believe that you make time for the things that you want to make time for in life, and I think that’s why it means so much to me when people reach out and show that they care—because they’re taking time to remind you that they were thinking of you. They’re taking time to remind you that it’s nice to be thought of, and they want you to feel the joy from that. They’re taking time to stop whatever they’re doing to remind you that you’re loved.

And they’re taking time to invest in you.

I know that I sometimes need to be better about this. I try to check up on people as often as I can, but I want to make sure that I’m doing more to show them that they are thought of and that they matter. It’s such a big and crazy world, and it’s easy to feel like you’re lost in the shuffle and just yet another face in the crowd.

But please remember that you’re not just anyone or anything—you are unique you, and you are valued and loved, no matter how many people remind you that they’re thinking of you.

My sister gets me.

That’s certainly one thing that I’ve had to let myself focus more on over the years, because people are not always going to reciprocate my thoughts and feelings. There have been a number of guys who haven’t felt the way I feel about them, and they didn’t exactly remind me that they were thinking of me—probably because they weren’t. And that’s OK.

Yes, it’s always nice to be thought of, but it’s also not a requirement to my identity and sufficiency.

I hope that people remind you that they’re thinking of you, and I hope that it brings a smile to your face each time. But I also hope that you find joy and an immeasurable amount of smiles in the fact that you are already loved more than you’ll ever know.

I was running on the boardwalk recently, and this guy on a bike came alongside me and said “it’s a lot easier on a bike.” I kind of laughed and said “right, sometimes. I like a challenge. Also, you’re very attractive.” And then I picked up my pace and wove through the suddenly crowded sidewalk as he got a little trapped. (So I guess it’s not always easier on a bike, huh?) The fella didn’t chase after me, and I never saw him again.

I took this after running from the guy I called attractive.

After I did that, I laughed a little because I never would have been so candid like that years ago, which led me to reflect again on the notion of being thought of by people, specifically guys in my past. I normally didn’t immediately express my feelings of attraction for them, so my little confession to the biker prompted these thoughts of how I used to place way too much emphasis on what they thought of me and how often they would text me or talk to me or whatever.

As I kept running, I kept reminding myself that none of that actually matters, and it still won’t matter with any guy in the future. My worth isn’t in those guys or their levels of interest. Whether they think of me and let me know or not really isn’t that important. If they don’t care enough to show me, well, I think Ariana Grande said it best: “Thank u, next.”

And, while it’s always nice to be thought of, you’re enough as you are with or without those affirmations.

When running into the water is brave

I know I’ve mentioned this more than once, but I don’t like to be cold.

Like, at all.

There’s been a recent heat wave here in Southern California, and we’ve hit some temperatures that I thought I left behind in Texas. I’ve been used to upper 70s as the highs for months now, but last weekend gave us some of those lovely triple-digit temps that make you feel like you’re melting.

Not cool, bro. (I hope you appreciate what I did there.)

OK, fine. Let’s be brave and go into the Pacific.

My forever friend Maddie came to visit me over the weekend, and we did what any typical gals in their early 30s (or probably any age, really) would do on such a warm Saturday: We went to the beach. Now, I typically don’t like to get in the water in the Pacific Ocean—it’s rather chilly, after all. Maddie went ahead and tested it out, and even though the day was beyond warm, her reaction was enough to let me know that getting in the water was essentially the same as diving into the Arctic when you’re covered in ice cubes. But for some weird reason, I got up and walked toward the water, anyway. I figured putting my feet in there would cool me off enough.

Mads was still in there (she had obviously lost her mind for a moment), and she was urging me to come in farther. I got until the water was almost to my knees, and I yelled out that I was being brave. Then Maddie said something that I wasn’t expecting.

“That’s not what brave looks like—just run!”

I don’t really like to be challenged on my boldness, so I took off running straight into the water. I’ll admit that I didn’t go super far (mainly because I didn’t want to wash my hair—judge me on my shallowness and laziness all you want), but I did go much farther than I had originally planned. I didn’t like the feeling of being so cold, but I guess it did end up feeling a bit refreshing as I walked back to my towel.

There’s a whole world out there waiting for us to be brave.

The truth is that Maddie was right—being brave doesn’t look like standing in one place, shaking, and not moving forward at all. It’s not brave to pretend like you’re being brave. Instead, it’s brave to take chances and to run after the things that you need to without sitting there and thinking about all of the things that could go wrong or make you feel uncomfortable.

In fact, being brave is hardly ever about being comfortable.

Years ago, I had feelings for a guy who was my good friend. In my head, I thought about all of the things that I could say to him and imagined what it would be like finally to get it all out of my heart. But I never said a word to him. Not one single word. I stood there, just like I did on that shoreline, and I let myself think that I was right where I should be and that I shouldn’t go any farther out into the water. I can tell you right now that I wish that I had run toward him and told him about everything I was feeling for him. I wish that I had let myself be completely uncomfortable and had poured my heart out. I wish that I didn’t worry about the equivalent of washing my hair or feeling cold.

I wish that I had simply dove into the rushing cold waters without thinking with my head but, instead, with my heart.

I chased down a group of teenage girls for this pic. I knew at least one of them would be a talented photographer.

I can’t make those wishes come true now, but I can certainly change the way I take on the waters that scare me in the present and in the future. I can think more with my heart and not so much with the overly worried voices in my mind. I don’t want to fear those cold waves—I want to run toward them without hesitation. I want to know not only what it looks like to be brave but also what it feels like to be brave in every aspect of my life.

Yes, there are going to be plenty of times in our lives when we’re faced with the decision to stand exactly where we are and stay comfortable or not only step out of those comfort zones but take off running from them as fast as we can. I hope that I’m able to choose that second option—and I hope that you are, too.

We were never meant to stand on the shoreline and watch the world and all of its opportunities pass us by as the waves crash at our feet.

Because sometimes you fall down

Life is filled with ups and downs and moments when you have to pick yourself back up when times get tough.

Especially when you actually fall.

I’ve started running with a fun group of gals on Monday nights, and it’s become one of my favorite runs of the week because I actually get to run with other humans. For the past two weeks, I’ve run with my new friend Hilary, who is about as friendly as they come. She’s one of those people whom you meet and instantly know you were meant to be good friends.

Last week, though, I ran part of my Monday evening run solo while she ran with the precious 10-year-old (and by far the youngest of the crew) for a few miles. We planned on me turning around and then meeting back up with Hilary to finish the rest of our run together. It seems like a pretty reasonable plan, right? Plus, there’s not that much to running on a boardwalk other than following the path, so surely everything would be fine.

Let’s please remember the individual involved in this scenario—I have a way of ending up in ridiculous situations.

I turned around after a certain amount of time and headed toward where we started. When I was almost back, I saw Hilary running toward me, and we both threw our arms up in purposely exaggerated excitement. I signaled to her to question if we were turning around again to go the direction from which I had just come (the lighting is better that way), and I turned as she got to where I was. However, I wasn’t really paying attention to the ground below me—I rarely do when I run, which I realize isn’t always the smartest thing ever—so I didn’t notice the wet and sandy concrete that happened to be right where my feet were trying to turn the rest of me around.

I bit it. Hard.

Here’s a closeup for you.

It was like this slow-motion fall scene in a movie that I didn’t see coming, but it felt quite dramatic. As soon as it happened, I didn’t really want to look down because I knew it was going to be ugly, so I tried to keep running. Hilary suggested that we walk for just a second and maybe rinse off my leg, but I didn’t want to put water on it yet—it would sting. Like I typically do, I opted to ignore my pain and just keep running.

By the end of the run, I noticed just how much my leg stung and then looked down and saw how gross it was. When I got home, after I showered (and somehow avoided the water directly hitting my left leg), I made what might have been one of my poorest decisions of the day: I poured rubbing alcohol on my leg. Remember how I didn’t want water to touch it? Let me tell you something you probably already know. RUBBING ALCOHOL BURNS SO FREAKING MUCH ON AN OPEN WOUND.

The scrape hurt a bit (even though it doesn’t look so bad here), but it was still a fun run with Hillz!

I bandaged up my leg with all I had that night, which were some My Little Pony Band-Aids. I went to the grocery store the next day and used Avengers ones after that because they made me feel a little tougher. While My Little Pony characters are certainly bada$*es, there’s something about having Captain America and Black Widow on your bloody leg that says, “Hey. Don’t mess with me.”

Right after the fall happened, my leg hurt pretty badly, but the pain was minimized by having Hilary right there by my side. The rest of the run was filled with genuine conversation and a solid steady pace that I probably wouldn’t have gone after the fall if I had been by myself.

As I’ve mentioned before, moving to California has been challenging in a lot of ways. If I had moved here with someone, I think it would be a lot different. But I wasn’t supposed to move here with anyone, so it’s required me to make sure I find ways to surround myself with the right people who will be in my tribe. I could sit here and whine to you about how being single and living alone means that there was no one there to take care of my leg for me when I got home and how I really wish I had someone to hold my hand when life gets really rough—and part of me really wants to whine more about that in this moment—but there’s truly no point. That’s not in the cards for me right now, so I won’t complain any further.

What I will do is remind you that it’s important not to let the thoughts of the things you don’t have overshadow the wonderful things that are already in your life. There are going to be times when you’re doing great, and your actual life might be a direct reflection of an Instagram post, but then there are also going to be seasons when it seems like all you’re doing is falling down. Let the people around you help you up—let them remind you that it’s OK to acknowledge your pain and that you’re strong enough to keep going. Let them be those friends who run (or walk) alongside you and talk about all of the things in life, both good and bad, and what the hopes in your heart are.

Find those people, and never let them go.

Falling down isn’t the worst thing in the world. It hurts when it happens, and it might hurt for a little while after, too. And if the fall involves a broken heart, that “little while” might actually last a lot longer than you would prefer.

And that’s when you have to fight.

Please don’t stay down when you fall. You’ll miss out on so many great things if you do—you’ll miss out on running on the boardwalk with a friend or new career opportunities or exciting adventures or a man who will finally be the one you’ve been waiting to capture your heart forever and not break it. It’s OK to fall, as long as you get back up.

Besides, you might get to wear some really cool Band-Aids when you do.

When you do the scary things

We’re often capable of doing more than we think possible.

Especially when it involves the things that scare the ever-living daylight out of us.

For years, racing has been a huge part of my life. I love running, and there’s something about stepping on the starting line and then pushing myself past my limits for however many miles it is that thrills me and brings me joy. It had been more than a year since I toed that starting line, and the thought of doing so was actually pretty scary to me.

If you know some of my story, then you know that 2017 was a tough year for me. I had three kidney surgeries, and these were just toppings to all of the heartache and other stuff I had going on. Then there was that whole packing-up-my-entire-life-and-moving-across-the-country thing. I hadn’t raced since last Thanksgiving, and that race isn’t one I like to think about much because I was in such tremendous pain (thanks, kidneys).

My reaction after I realized I had just signed up for a race

But lately I’ve had the urge to race again, and even though I knew I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in yet, I figured I’m going to have to start somewhere. Before I could talk myself out of it, I registered for a race and committed to at least trying to get a little ready for it.

Though I put in a few weeks of harder workouts than I’d done in what seemed like forever, I didn’t feel like I was completely ready to be out there in the racing scene just yet. I needed more time, especially after having strep recently. I started thinking of a number of excuses of why I wasn’t ready, including the surgeries, the strep, the concern of air quality (never an actual concern of mine), the fact that I wouldn’t have my family there to cheer for me and hold my stuff while I ran, I’m not familiar with the area and didn’t know the course well enough (even though I very rarely know a course unless I’ve run the race multiple times), I had a really busy Saturday and would be crunched for time (I logistically had plenty of time), my left contact was irritating me (really?), and so many other ridiculous reasons of why I should wait to try running against other people again.

But there was one that outweighed all of the others that I didn’t want to admit to myself: I was scared.

I was scared of failing. I was scared of not running fast. I was scared of not winning or even being one of the top contenders. I was scared of being a disappointment, even though I’d only really be disappointing myself.

The morning of the race, I almost talked myself out of it. Even after I drove to the race site and picked up my bib and T-shirt, I thought about just going home and running on my own—I wasn’t ready for this. But something within me whispered, “Be brave.” I told myself that I need to do the scary things sometimes because, in the end, they’ll make me stronger. I knew I’d regret walking away when an opportunity was right there in front of me.

I survived a bad race and still had a great adventure with my sweet friend Ashley.

I ran the race. I’m not going to lie—it was ugly. After .46 miles of running on an unexpected dirt trail, I wanted to stop, but I sang “the first mile’s the toughest,” a different rendition of Sheryl Crow’s lyrics “the first cut is the deepest,” and I kept going. It hurt. I am S-L-O-W. If I ever want to compete near the level where I used to be, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

You know what happened, though? I did it. I may not have done well, but I also didn’t regret anything. I got out there and gave it what I could, and then I went about my day without dwelling on it much more. I know that running isn’t everything, and the fact that I’m not currently at my fastest doesn’t mean I can’t find joy in other places on the very same day of a bad race.

We even found ways to take pics with the props without waiting in line.

I was able to have a great time a little bit later with my friend Ashley as we drove up to Redondo Beach to eat at the same diner featured in The O.C. and then visit a Taylor Swift pop-up shop near LA.

Life is filled with a lot of scary moments, and I think it’s important to do the scary things—those things that make us feel anxious and highly intimidated. Whether it’s racing or asking someone out or saying “I love you” or going on an adventure all by yourself or auditioning for a play or trying out for a team or performing in a talent show or learning to do something you’ve never done before or entering your work in an art show or going back to school or whatever it is, do the scary things.

Because, more times than not, they are absolutely worth it.

Hey, keep it strong

Every once in a while, some simple words of encouragement can truly boost a person’s spirits.

Even if they come from a complete stranger.

I was running after work one day last week, and it was HOT. More than once during the run, I questioned why I thought this was a good idea, and more than once, I wanted to stop and walk (or dodge into the nearest establishment and pour water all over myself). But, for whatever reason, I kept running. I’m never going to get where I want to be and be able to start racing competitively again if I start giving up because of challenges.

It turns out that I needed that run a lot more than I thought.

I was somewhat near the end of my run, and it wasn’t getting any easier. I was on a pretty busy street at this point, and I was approaching a bus stop where a man was sitting with a bag that may or may not have contained all of his worldly possessions. As I ran by him, he startled me a bit when he spoke to me.

“Hey, keep it strong.”

I don’t know if he knew this, but in that exact moment in my life, I needed those four simple words. As I said, “Thank you so much!” and continued on my way (his inspiration even made me pick up my pace a little bit), I realized that I didn’t only need those words to help me while I was running—I needed them to help me in my life.

We tried to keep it strong when we ran up this hill. (P.S. This pic doesn’t do the steepness of the hill justice.)

It’s easy to get discouraged when things aren’t going your way or when you simply feel powerless in certain situations. Giving up hope and throwing in the towel seems like the only option. I know I sometimes feel that way, and it’s been more prevalent lately in a few areas. As I ran, I let my circumstances run through my mind, and I kept replaying that man’s words in my head: Hey, keep it strong. And I prayed for him and thanked God for him—I truly believe He sends the right people to us when we need them the most.

I know that life isn’t always going to pan out the way we hoped it would, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have hope. I know that I might not meet the guy of my dreams while walking through a park, and he accidentally hits me in the head with a frisbee and then comes over to apologize, and sparks fly—but I’m probably still going to hope that it will be something like that.

There are going to be many times when it’s easier to give up or to settle for what you know isn’t right for you. But those are the moments when it’s important to find even just an inkling of strength to help to keep you going to do what you know you need to do.

I believe in hopes. I believe in dreams. I believe in continuing to believe in those hopes and dreams, even when you have so many odds against you or people trying to tell you what would be better for you to hope and dream. We’re all so different, and we’re going to have different hopes and dreams and standards and beliefs and values and strengths and passions—and that’s not a bad thing.

There’s a line in the movie Without Limits (about the life of Steve Prefontaine) when Pre is trying to win Mary’s heart, and Mary asks Pre, “Are you always so positive about everything?” and he replies, “Consider the alternative.” I think it’s a really great mindset to have—one that tries to be hopeful for things for which others are not so hopeful. The alternative isn’t quite keeping it strong.

You never know when your words can truly encourage a person or when someone else’s can do the same for you. I’m grateful for the man at the bus stop. He didn’t have to say a word to me—he could have simply kept to himself until his bus arrived. But, instead, he gave the gift of hope to a person he doesn’t even know. He made me remember that when you know in your heart that something is right, it’s important to keep that hope alive with all of the gusto you can muster.

Because when you lose hope, you can certainly lose a lot more along with it.