What I Wore {post 80} June 2015 Style Challenge - finishing it up ... in October

Hello and happy Friday!  I realized that when I left the blog untended for so long that I also forgot to wind up my June (!) Style Challenge.  Here are the last few days of that.

As with prior weeks in the challenge, I had to move things around based on work schedule and what not.  Also, I played around with a new photo editing app ... and I'm not thrilled with the results, but I want to publish this sucker! 

June 22:  Whiteout 

I found this white dress at Loft last year.  I'd always wanted a white dress and this one is perfect for Summer.  It's not exactly perfect for work, but I just paired it with a lightweight white cardigan and a fun turquoise belt that I grabbed from Nordstrom.  I love this belt!  

June 23:  Nautical

I got this dress from Stitch Fix, which is a new guilty pleasure.  My stylist for this particular fix nailed my style, and I love love love this dress.  There's nothing more nautical than navy blue and white stripes.  Except maybe a sailor hat but that isn't happening.  

June 24:  Cold Shoulder

I had a meeting this day but it was pretty warm and thought a sleeveless top would work.  I got this at the Ann Taylor outlet with Jamie awhile ago.  I wore it with simple black pants.  

June 25: A dress to the floor

LOVE THIS DRESS.  Love it.  I needed to go full on ALL CAPS because at 5'1", it is impossible to find a long dress that works on me.  Impossible.  Truly impossible.  And this does.  I got it at Nordstrom.  My only regret is not buying it in every color and pattern.  

June 26:  Summer feet

And the final day - summer feet! I wore my orange sandals (from Target!) with a cute floral top and jeans to work on a casual Friday. 

And there you go.  It only took me four months to finish, but better late than never? Better late than never.

Have a terrific weekend! And Happy Halloween!
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on grace

Happy Monday.  [horizontal smile]

I still owe a major recap (both of life and of training) of the Summer and I promise to get to that soon(ish).  I have a handful of half-finished posts that I've been working on for awhile, and I am really hoping to get back to a more regular schedule.

When I dusted off the cobwebs and logged back on to the blog this past weekend, I found this post that I had written awhile ago but not finished and had not published.  I thought hmm ... this is a good one I want to share.  

Quite some time ago, I read the blog of a friend of a friend (got it?) who divorced and then discovered he had a brain tumor.  Talk about an epic kick in the teeth, right?  I don't know him, but a lot of what he posted resonated.  In particular, I found myself nodding along with his comments that he relied, and relies, on his friends in this new stage of life, and that he is constantly amazed by how truly giving his true friends have been and continue to be.  I had (and continue to have) the same experience, especially in those early days.  Days when I didn't ask for help -- days when friends just showed up and did.  

It got me thinking about grace, and how so many people extended so much grace in those early days.  When you are in the throes of a separation and then a divorce, you can't really express your feelings in a coherent manner.  I look back at those days and it was really like triage: I survived because I had to, I put one foot in front of the other, I breathed in and out, I survived.  And I am so lucky that I had people who stood by my side and were there, were kind, were loving and showed me grace.  

I am fortunate that I didn't have any real naysayers in my life ... no people who wanted to criticize me for not working hard enough, for not caring enough about my children to "make it work", for "giving up", for disregarding my marriage vows.  I did not have to explain myself to those who loved me, and that was grace.  

Relatively recently (and long after my separation and divorce), an acquaintance on Facebook (an acquaintance who is not, and never has been, married or divorced) posted a link to an article that basically criticized the notion of divorce and essentially passed judgement on those who found themselves in an unhappy marriage and then divorced.  This Facebook friend said the following:  

Thoughts on this? What constitutes a "dead" marriage? I've never been married but my "map" has always been that divorce would only be an option for me if there was cheating, abuse, or addiction involved (which, chances are, I would see that behavior prior to marriage if I am in a relationship long enough with the person). Once I'm married, I feel I should know that person's core values and beliefs enough to gauge the likelihood of those things occurring. I guess my thought process is that "irreconcilable differences" or just "not being happy" in a marriage is not enough of a reason to divorce, especially if children are involved. Work on it - you fell in love with that person for a reason and if you're unhappy then that has more to do with work you need to do on yourself than anything else. The only way you would be modeling bad behavior is by allowing children to be in a continual unhealthy environment of cheating, abuse, or addiction. You're modeling good behavior if they see you are in a relationship free of those things and choose to work on your own "unhappiness" to grow as a person.

I sat there at my computer and read the post over and over.  My face was red, my hands were shaking, my heart was pounding.  And as much as I wanted to just ignore and move on, I did not.  I stood up for myself.  And I stood up for people in my shoes who went through the same thing that I did.  And I said this:

I have a lot of thoughts. As you know, I’ve been married once and am now divorced. So I can bring that perspective to the table. While you are certainly entitled to your own opinion, having never been in a marriage, or through the absolutely heart wrenchingly difficult process of divorce, your opinion is, quite frankly, overly simplistic. Marriage, even the best marriages with the most amazing and truest loves, is difficult. Marriage is a living, breathing thing independent of the people who comprise it. People grow, people change, time marches on. A marriage has to be strong enough to adapt to those changes. That’s so easy to say and acknowledge in concept, but in reality, it’s really just hard. I venture that most people are not the same people they were 10, 15, 20 years ago. Change is wonderful, but often very difficult. And sometimes permanent and divergent. No one enters a marriage thinking that divorce will happen; likewise, no one leaves a marriage without a hell of a lot of heartbreak. 

This comment of yours: “I guess my thought process is that ‘irreconcilable differences’ or just ‘not being happy’ in a marriage is not enough of a reason to divorce, especially if children are involved. Work on it - you fell in love with that person for a reason and if you're unhappy then that has more to do with work you need to do on yourself than anything else” is rife with judgment, and having been through a divorce (a divorce that was, by and large, amicable and a divorce in which children were involved), it made me bristle. To limit divorce as “only an option” where there is cheating, abuse or addiction involved is myopic in my view. Those are horrible things for sure. But irreconcilable differences are insidious. They don’t just happen overnight. They take time and they are destructive. By brushing them off as “not enough reason to divorce, especially if children are involved” invalidates, minimizes and undercuts the difficult decisions that many people make to leave their marriages. Without going into details here about my own situation, I will tell you that I did “work on it.” For years. But at the end of the day, ending my marriage was the healthiest thing for me, for my ex, and for my children who now have parents who are happy, well-adjusted and living a better life, which, in turn, makes my children happier, better adjusted and living a better life. They did not ask for divorced parents, and my ex and I work very hard to surround them with love and show them every single day that we are still a family, if not in a traditional sense. I am thankful that, by all accounts, we are succeeding. 

All this to say – before you make declarations like the ones above, give some thought to those who have actually had to go through it and who live it every single day. I am beyond grateful that I have friends and family who were, and continue to be, kind, supportive, caring, sympathetic, empathetic and just plain amazing and who understood that making the decision to divorce was done with a lot of thought and prayer. I was shown a lot of grace by the people in my life, and I encourage you extend that same grace to those facing the prospect of divorce.

She deleted her post.

I reproduce our exchange here not as a means to chastise her, but as a plea to anyone who is watching a friend or an acquaintance or a loved one go through a separation or divorce or troubles in a marriage to muster the strength to show grace.  The beauty of showing grace is that it is as active as it is passive ... by simply loving your loved one, without judgment, and being there and saying or simply implying that no matter what happens, "I love you, I am here, and I will love you," you are extending an incredible amount of grace at a time when everything is upside down, inside out and unrecognizable.  No one knows what to say.  Even now, when a friend is contemplating divorce and confides in me, I admit that don't know what to say (which is hard because I've been there). But everyone's journey and everyone's story is different.  So I listen.  And I let him or her know that there's no magic answer, but I am there.  

It's been more than three years, but I still cannot thank enough those in my life who showed (and continue to show) me that grace.  I am who I am today because of it.  I was able to move on, find myself again, and now, find a loving relationship in which I am truly in love and truly happy.  "I once was lost, but now I'm found ... was blind but now I see."  

There's a reason that the song calls grace "amazing".  It truly is.  

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The Lyin' and the Unicorn

Well hello!  Yes, it's me.  It's been months.  Seasons. Ages.  Forevers.  I am sorry.  Kind of.  It's just that I've been busy and loving and living life.  I have so many posts that are in varying degrees of completion and many posts in my head.  I've resolved to give myself a break and post when the inspiration strikes.  

And ... ba boom.  Inspiration didn't just strike, but it hit me like a lightning bolt.  Or a wrecking ball.  Or an arsenal of unicorns with super strong horns.  What happened?

I missed the cut-off for racing the Boston Marathon by 16 seconds.  




Six-teen sec-onds.  Less than a second per mile.  I've done the math (and you know I hate math).  But ultimately, have consoled myself with the fact that missing by 16 seconds is worlds better than by 6 seconds. Or 2 seconds.  Or 1 second.  Or one-one hundredth of a second like at Philly in 2012.  

You are probably wondering how this happened when I qualified for Boston at the Steamtown Marathon last October -- in fact just one year ago this weekend.  I did.  I absolutely did.  The "BQ" time for my age group is 3:45.  BQ means Boston Qualifying.  And I ran Steamtown in 3:42:48 -- a full 2 minutes and 12 seconds faster than the BQ time!  But, sadly, that is not enough.  Running a BQ means only that you are eligible to apply to register for the Boston Marathon.  This is no surprise. All runners know this (even though we complain that a BQ should mean you can actually run Boston). It's the great lie about nabbing a BQ - yay you are fast enough to maybe run the Boston Marathon but maybe not!  There are so many amazing runners out there that if everyone who got a BQ were able to run the Boston Marathon, the race would have way too many people.  So the race lets in the fastest people first and gradually rolls down until they are sold out.  So, usually, if you run a bit faster than your "BQ" time, you are able to race.  Everyone also knows to check out the historical data on BQ and how much faster than BQ has been required in years past.  The most time ever was about 90 seconds faster than BQ.  So, with my 132 seconds in the bank, I thought even though there was no sure thing, I was preeeettttty sure that I could get in.  

Ahhhh ... not so fast.  Literally.  Not so fast.  The cut off was 2:28 under BQ this year.  Thousands of runners like me were in the sad position of nabbing a BQ but being denied the opportunity to run Boston.  It's certainly not the end of the world.  And it takes nothing away from my accomplishment of running the race, and marathon, of my life at Steamtown.  There is absolutely no way I could have made up that 16 seconds that day.  Each mile felt perfect, and I won't look back on that race and kick myself for not running faster.  It simply wasn't possible that day.  And Boston 2016 is just not in the cards.  Like the incomparable Kenny Rogers once sang, "you gotta know when to hold em and know when to fold em."  

Kenny also said "you gotta know when to walk away and know when to run."  I am both walking away and running.  Rather than focus on the lemons, and admittedly, these are some epic lemons, I am focusing on the lemonade.  For the first time in three years, I don't have to train for an Ironman or a marathon in the Winter.  Yippie!  I am excited to focus on the half marathon distance for the time being and get back into sprint triathlons.  I have missed tri training, and I am excited to hit the pool once or twice a week again.  I have not missed my bike trainer, but I'll hit that too.  

I'm signed up for the Philly Half Marathon in November.  I'm so excited to run it.  It's my first race since the epic disaster for me that was the NJ State Marathon, and it took me this long to get the itch to race again.  After that, I'll do the Love Run in the Spring (another half marathon) and then I am doing the Escape the Cape Triathlon in June.  Once June comes and goes, I'll decide whether I want to push again and try for a BQ.  Right now, I am taking the pressure off entirely and just running (and swimming and biking) for the ever loving joy out of it.   Taking the Summer off from "training" has been a delightful reminder that I actually love running and swimming and biking and that doing them for the sake of nothing more than the pure pleasure of doing them is enough to make me happy.

In closing, the title of this post probably didn't make sense to many of you.  I have to give a little shout out to my middle school music teacher, Mr. Futer, for the title of this post.  We used to sing the song, "The Lion and the Unicorn" in his class.  Since the Boston Athletic Association (and the Boston Marathon) use a unicorn as its logo, I think about this song every time I think of the race.  

The song goes like this:

The lion and the unicorn were fighting for the crown;
The lion and the unicorn were all around the town.
Some give them white bread and some give them brown;
Some will give them plum cake ... and drum them out of town.  

I have no clue what this means.  But when (not if) I run the Boston Marathon, I beg of someone to show up with some plum cake.  That sounds amazing.  I also think it's destined to happen given my love of unicorns.  

Anyway ... more to come!  I have so much to share.  And I still need to finish out my June style challenge.  In October.

Have a great weekend! 
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