Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Lose a Blog in 10 Days

So I have really been horrible at this weekly blogging thing…

(Remember when I use to do a blog a day for 40 days? Yeah, neither do I. And if you do remember it, thank you for being the one other person besides my mom and my husband who read those.)

Anyway, I have been so desperate for an idea to strike me for a blog this week that at one point, I actually Googled “ideas for blog topics.” I did not find anything good ideas there. (Apparently Google is all out of blog topics too.) But I did click on a link that gave me “10 reasons why my blog is not getting as much traffic as it could be.”

Without having to rewrite the entire article, just know that I don’t write consistently enough, I write too much, I have too broad a range of topics, my range of topics is too narrow, my blogs are too long, my blogs are too short, and people don’t want to hear me talk about myself in my blogs. (I know I am missing three. They had something to do about not being interesting. We’ll pretend I don’t have that problem!)

When I began this blog nearly two years ago now, I don’t think I had any particular hopes for it, or even had any idea of why I was doing it in the first place. I started it on a whim, because I couldn’t sleep one night and because I had just watched Julie and Julia. I never expected anyone to read them. I myself don’t follow any other blogs—heck, I can hardly follow my own! But for some reason unbeknownst even now, I continue to write them. Over time they have become an outlet for me, a source of inspiration to me as well as to others, and a way for me to sort out all of the crazy in my head and in my life.

I think the reason I continue to enjoy blogging is because I approach it now with the same attitude I did that first sleepless night. Would I love to have more people read my blog? Sure! Do I like to hear people tell me how much they relate to or are inspired by what I’ve written? Absolutely! Would I love to eventually get paid for sitting around in my pj’s and typing about my kids on a laptop? Who wouldn’t?! But never at the expense of changing what it is now and what has made it so fulfilling to me in the first place.

So herein lies my promise for this blog from today until the Internet gets too complicated for me to navigate. (Because it will happen, my friends. I am technologically inept.)

…Or if Mr. Blog-Trafficking Expert prefers this as a catchier headline…

10 Reasons Why My Blog Will Never Get As Much Traffic As It Should:

1.I will ALWAYS write about myself. That is what a blog is for. And I am incredibly fascinating.

2.I will ALWAYS write about whatever I want to. It is in the subtitle of my blog, and has been since the first day…just so that there’s no confusion.

3.You will ALWAYS hear too much about my children, my God, my dreams and aspirations, my failures, my hobbies, the military life, and the general nonsense of my brain. I am an open book on here. (That’s why my mom and husband are such avid followers!)

4.My blog will ALWAYS be for readers--Not skimmers or scanners. I will post large, rambling paragraphs in small print. I will not post giant pictures of what I wear each day with a little blurb. If you are looking for me to fascinate you with blurbs and cute pictures of myself, then by all means, please find me on Facebook!

5.My posting will ALWAYS be irregular. Just like you can’t count on a rainbow after every storm, neither can you count on my blog at the end of every week. Though I am working on it, sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you are super lucky and I post twice in a week. Sometimes the responsibilities of motherhood and the other joys or obligations of my life keep me from posting for several weeks. Sometimes I start three blogs and all of them stink, so I write a blog about my blog just so you don’t think I forgot to do it…

6.I will ALWAYS write for my audience—which is me. I started this blog for me, never intending to have an audience. Sure, I post the links each time. But I never expect people to click on it. Truth be told, sometimes they don’t. And that’s okay with me. I truly believe that if people read them, then it’s because they were meant to get something out of my journey that day, which brings me to the next point…

7.I will ALWAYS try to keep it positive. I believe that there are great lessons in the little things in life. I also believe that we are bombarded with a lot of bad news over the course of the day, and we need reminders that life is good. I won’t be naively cheerful. But I will always strive to bring hope at the end of a story. That’s the goal: To have you leave this blog with a thought, a sense of peace, or at very least, a smile.

8, 9, and 10 are that I will always try to be interesting. (What can I say?! I am working on consistency!) :)

But no matter what happens at the end of this week, or even the next year, I just wanted to take the opportunity to tell you thank you for stopping by the blog. It is for me and about me, but I am pretty darn grateful that I have you too.

… And if you have any suggestions for blog topics so I can lay off the Google searches for a while, I would be much obliged!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Perfect Timing

So I missed the deadline for my weekly blog goal this past week. I am only a little bummed about it, mostly because I am always blogging to myself in my brain.

My runs have been really good for that lately. In fact, all of my run training is quite possibly the reason I did not write out any of my brain blogs last week. And they have been mentioned in my last several blog entries. So if you are getting tired of my running stories, my apologies. I will return to the regularly-programmed random musings soon. And if you are just now checking in, I promise I write about more than running…I also write a lot about potty training debacles! (I can’t imagine why no one wants to sponsor this blog!!)

Anyway, back to the running…

To recap, I am just a couple short weeks away from my first half-marathon. My first attempt at my long run was pretty nasty. But never being one to know the difference between powering through and killing myself, I took a week off and completed another long run at the end of this week. It went much more smoothly, thank goodness. And it was probably due in large part to my “blogging.”

I love running. I always feel like life’s great mysteries are revealed to me on a jog. Maybe it has to do with the rhythmic breathing. Maybe it has to do with the steady pounding of my feet on the pavement. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that I am exerting myself too much to talk, so I finally have some peace and quiet to think. Whatever the reason, about three quarters into this run I started up a mental dialogue with myself—giving myself a mental high five and a quick pep-talk and calculating why this round was going so much better than the last time. At first I thought it was because I had been building up my endurance. I had been doing a lot of run training, after all. But I disvovered that wasn’t true. It was because of my pace. I had slowed down a little and wound up improving my time, (not to mention my experience,) overall.

Then it dawned on me…this race training has never been a test of my endurance. I have endured much more difficult things than 13.1 miles. Like when I was completing a full college load, and working full-time, and raising a newborn with no money and even less sleep. Or when I took care of a potty-training two-year-old and her week-old brother by myself while my husband was gone for six weeks of military training. Or when I survived all of the ins and outs and ups and downs of a nine month deployment. No, endurance has never been my issue. I have, however, had problems pacing myself.

Like the time when I was completing a full college load, and working full-time, and raising a newborn…

But also during the constant battle I have with myself about whether I want to work, or volunteer, or stay home, or go back to school. Or in the New Year’s resolution lists I make for myself that are 20 items long. Or how I keep piling expectations onto myself about the amount of things that should be accomplished in a single day…or how many family memories should be made in a weekend…or how many miles should be ran in an hour.

We live in a nation where families (and governments) throw themselves into debt because we think we need everything now. Right this minute. And everything in excess. We kill ourselves working to achieve somebody else’s bottom line. To cash this week’s paycheck. We waste twice as much money as we save. We miss twice as many moments as we actually live in.

I spend my life rushing around like time is slipping away from me when I am one of the lucky ones who knows I have an eternity left to live. And this is not to suggest that I should sit around and do nothing because I’ve scraped up some extra time. It is rather a gentle reminder that the timing has never been mine to begin with.
And the one who holds the stopwatch doesn’t really care how fast I finish. He only cares about how I run the race.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Rookie

I've been doing a lot of talk on the blogosphere about wanting to run a marathon. I still haven't fully committed to running 26 miles, but I am finally training for my first half-marathon at the end of the I'm making real progress, I guess.
Last week I did my first "long run." I put it in quotations here, because depending on who the reader is "long" is a very relative term. I have recently joined a jogging club where other members routinely run 10+ miles and train for multiple marathons throughout the year. I also know that some of the members have completed ultra marathons and fifty-milers. Compared to these people, my "long run" was a mere warm-up. But I ran a touch less than nine miles, so it felt plenty long to me.
I was running on one of the troop trails on post sometime in the middle of the afternoon, and I figured that would keep me from running into any soldier training marches along the way. But as it turns out, soldiers apparently run at all times of the day.
About four miles into the run I came upon a unit ruck march. There were about 150 soldiers walking in a loose formation, each carrying around 100 pounds of gear. They were headed in the front by their company's guidon and were trailed by some kind of monstorous tactical vehicle that spilled over the pavement on either side of the trail. Being the good little Army wife that I am, I left the trail for the soldiers and ran on the grassy slope right alongside it. I was only about halfway into my run and I was feeling pretty good. I had to do a few prancing hops as I skirted along the outside of the trail to avoid falling in big holes in the grass or gracefully tripping and rolling into the road beneath me. Whether or not it was true, I felt the soldiers' eyes watching me. I was very aware of how I breathing, making sure it wasn't too fast or too loud--you know, anything that made it seem like I was exerting any effort at all. Eventually, I was able to snake my way around the soldiers and the truck and find my way back onto the trail. It only took me about three minutes. I was feeling proud that I had showcased such athleticism to those soldiers. And then about a quarter of a mile later, I realized I had to turn around and do it all again.
Upon the turn-around, I already knew I was in trouble. All of my prancy showboating had now left me with no choice but to pretend to be as athletic on the way back. But this time, I wasn't going in the opposite direction. I would have to be running with them. As I approached the armoured vehicle, I knew I would have to leave the trail again. I hesitantly veered onto the upward grassy slope. The first stretch was okay, but I began to notice that the slope in the hill was making my feet have an awkward gait. I decided the best thing for me to do would be to leave the trail completely and head for the shoulder of the road beneath to gain some flatter ground. Remember the gracefully rolling into the roadside part I mentioned before? ...That fate was only narrowly escaped. Once I found my footing again I continued my pace. For a moment, I was very happy that I was farther away from the soldiers. There was no way they would be able to hear my breath from down there--which was good because at this point it was unnecessarily rapid and loud. Since I had entered the shoulder from a hillside, I wasn't running on the best side of the road. Cars were whizzing past me from behind. Not the safest thing ever, especially in the winding hills.
I picked up my pace to speed along my passing process. For about thirty seconds, I felt like a champ again. I realized that if any eyes were on me at that moment, I was looking fierce. My Texas country music was blaring through my earbuds and I was tearing up the road. Then that thirty seconds was over, and I discovered that it was going to take me much more than thirty seconds to finish passing the group, even with my "super speed." (I put that in quotations because now I am just being sarcastic.) I was miserable and wanted to slow down. But I had this horrible realization that if any eyes had actually been on me, the brevity of my sprint would only make me look like more of a pansy. I continued my faster pace, now beginning to feel the added effects of my hopping and crooked running from before. Because I had gone down to pass the group, I knew I would have to go out and up to get back onto the trail. A few minutes later I saw the guidon flag and waited for an entrance point from the road back onto the trail--which of course was uphill. I powered up the hill, no longer caring about how loud or sporadic my breath was and just happy to be back on the trail again where I could slow back down...
That is, until I realized the whole group of soldiers could still see me directly in front of them. I continued running until I had determined that I was out of sight. I probably did it for much longer than was necessary, as I didn't want to look like a weirdo constantly checking back on them. About the time I felt comfortable with my distance, a group of soldiers in a Jeep were dropped off onto the trail beside me---I just let them pass me. Crazy breath and all.

By the time I had completed my run, I was hurting bad. I had a sharp, shooting pain in my heel that left me almost unable to walk. I had blisters on both of my feet and toes. My hamstrings were so tight, I almost could not sit down. I haven't been able to run a single time this entire week.

All because of a set of imaginary eyes I had created for myself. And because of a make-believe image that I wanted those eyes to see.