Thursday, December 4, 2014

Yellow Shoe Diaries: The Great Ankle Spraining of 2014

Taking in all the Christmas lights on what might have been one of the most incredible runs I have ever had. Everything felt so effortless. It was like I was flying up and down the hills. I even texted Kipper to let him know I was going to run longer than planned. 

Then I  fell off a curb and rolled my ankle! (and before you ask it wasn't while I was texting!!) It took a second for me to realize what happened but when it clicked I just started bawling. I sat down on the curb for a moment thinking it would just stop hurting after a moment. It didn't really stop but I guess I sort of got used to the pain and realized I couldn't just sit on the curb all night. 

Nearly a mile away, I hobbled home. My ankle is so swollen and already bruising. Pretty sure my Holiday Run Challenge has come to an early end this year. :( 

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Triathlete's Wife

Ever since we ran our first 5K and Kipper got his first road bike, he had talked about wanting to do a triathlon. So after losing just over 100 pounds that dream became a reality and he did his first triathlon. It was just a short sprint called Try the Tri but you would have thought it was the Olympics by how proud I was of him. Seriously.

After that race I assumed there would be more but then the word "Ironman" started coming up more and more. (and he wasn't talking about the movie either!)  At that time I couldn't wrap my head around him taking on something like that. But as time went on, the pieces started to fall in place and I finally could see it.

After 2 years of new athletic adventures we both had big dreams for 2014. I was going to do my first marathon in February and Kipper would do his first half Ironman in October. We both agreed we would do what we needed to in order to support each other through achieving this fitness dreams. Which basically meant while the other was training we would step up and be domestic. (which I am not!)  Let me tell you Mr. Martin got the better end of the deal because his training is WAY longer than mine was. lol.

First up...find a tri coach! This was a long process that he actually started in December 2013. If you know Kipper, you know his OCD.  Agonizing over who was the best fit for our lifestyle and his personality, plus their training philosophy was a beat down. In my heart I knew who was best for him, but I only offered up advice when asked and tried to let him figure it out for himself. In the end Trident was his pick. As well as mine since the day we met with Tim nearly a month before.

I'm not going to lie, after meeting with the coaches I was nervous. Ironman anything was a big time commitment and time wasn't something we always have a lot of. Between working 2 jobs, school and family this was going to be a major life change for not only Kipper, but me too.

And then there was my "investagoogle" of how Ironman training affects marriages. Much of what I found didn't ease my mind. Story after story of damaged relationships but then there were a few that talked about how it made their marriage stronger. We are very blessed with a strong marriage and I made a promise to myself that in the end we would be better for this experience.

For the last 8 months our lives have sort of revolved around triathlon. While it hasn't always been easy and there have been times if I had to wash another water bottle I might have gone mental, it has been incredibly rewarding. I have watched my husband grow in ways that just 4 years ago I would have never imagined. We found a new normal in our relationship and made it work.   And with less than a week till race day I am happy to say with a lot of work, we both made good on the promise of our marriage being better for this experience.

I feel like we are more in tune to each others needs more than every before (which is kind of crazy since we have always been pretty good about that!) I will be the first to tell you I got lonely with Kipper training so much. Many days he would work a 12 hour shift and then go workout for 2+ hours. By the time he got home he would shower, eat and pass out on the coach. Then back up at 4:30-5:00 am to do it all again the next day. He has been so good about picking up on when I just need time and somehow making it happen. Lunch dates on his days off during the week have been a true blessing.

For my part (other than the extra domestic stuff) I tried to play it by ear each week to see how I could best help Kipper through that week. Sometimes it was helping get his stuff for the next day together, picking up dinner because he was too tired to cook (and didn't want what I would cook! lol) or staying up with the fur babies when they were extra playful so he could sleep. Other times it was as simple as reminding him that I truly believe he can do this or keeping him company on a run when his head is telling him to quit.

The one thing I did every week that never changed was prayer. Lots and lots of prayers. For us our athletic adventures have been very spiritual. As much as we have enjoyed the challenges, it isn't about us. The grace of God and His strength have carried both of us over each finish line. It is the same grace and strength that have helped Kipper push through workouts when he didn't think he could give an ounce more.  And even though the participant handbook says you can receive no outside help, come Sunday, October 26, 2014 I know Kipper won't have to do this alone. And that gives me an incredible amount of peace.

I know I speak for both Kipper and I, we are so grateful for supportive friends and family who have been there through this journey. It takes a village and we are very blessed to have a HUGE village praying and supporting this weekend.

For those of you who would like to follow along from home there are a few ways you can:

  1. Follow my Instagram/Facebook posts #halfironkipper 
  2. Follow the athlete tracker on the Ironman website. He is bib 2655
  3. Watch the live feed from the finish line 

Many friends have asked what they can do to support Kipper this weekend. His wave is slated to hit the water at 8:10 a.m. Sunday morning. If you don't mind, please stop and say a prayer at 8:10. Pray for a safe, injury free race. Pray for peace of mind. Pray for endurance. And most of all pray that God is glorified every step of the way.

I can't believe the day is almost here. A day that has been in the making for 4 years.  This proud wife can't think of a better way to spend her 33rd Birthday than cheering on her best friend as he achieves this dream!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Yellow Shoe Diaries: You Are Enough!

To whoever chalk bombed the trail this weekend with various sayings - Thank You!!! 

My training has been off and I was slightly dreading today's long run. 4 miles in I was miserable and I was just going to quit because I was so disappointed in myself.  Right before made the turn to go back to my car, I talked myself into pushing through a little longer.  

Even though I struggled and fought with myself the entire time - I made it. Kipper met me at the food truck park to eat afterwards and just stared at me as I sobbed post run. (girls are weird, haven't we covered that by now?) Today was an excellent reminder that running 10 less than stellar miles always trumps giving up on yourself! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Start Of Something New: Yellow Shoe Diaries

Changing of the guard! 

My faithful pink shoes ran their last 9 miles yesterday. I achieved things I never imagined in those shoes. Can't wait to see where my new pair takes me. 

Welcome to the Yellow Shoe Diaries!! 

Make sure to follow me on Instagram #yellowshoediaries for all my Yellow Shoe Diary adventures as I will only be highlighting the most significant or my favorites on the blog.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Threads of Hope: Our New Direction

Have you ever struggled to find the right words to explain your feelings but every time you try to communicate them the words never come? This has been me for the last month or so. Even when talking to my own husband, I struggled to find the words. It was so frustrating for me and I am pretty sure it has at times caused tension between the two of us. That is what I think I hate the most about these emotions.

Just when I had sort of given up hope, it happened. I was sound asleep and something woke me up. I don't remember what it was, everyone else in the house was fast asleep. It was like a light switch went off in my brain in the middle of a random night, suddenly the words were there. I laid in bed, tears streaming down my face as everything I had been struggling with suddenly made complete sense.

(You might want to grab some refreshments or run to the restroom, because this is going to be a long one!)

Imagine you decided to knit a blanket. Even though you don't work on it every day, it is always in the back of your mind. There are periods of time you are so focused on it you can't think clearly about anything else. Overtime you look back at what you have already completed, you begin to see areas of imperfection and other parts that are stitched it perfection. Imagine running your hands over each stitch, reliving all the joy, heartbreak, excitement and frustration you have experienced while making it.  More prayers and tears than you can recall have been stitched in, one by one. Yet no matter how much you want to finish your blanket you just keep going and going...for nearly 5 years.

Our struggle with infertility is a lot like that never ending blanket. And right now I am doing my best to hang on to it by a few threads. Threads of hope.

Earlier this summer it became clear that even though our insurance would help pay for some of the IVF treatment, we wouldn't be moving forward with it. After considering all the pros and cons, we decided the risks were too great. There would be multiple surgeries, concerns over the hormone injections required, and even with insurance a very significant cost for just one shot. Even though I was the one who essentially came to the conclusion first, it was really hard to say it out loud.

With that decision, the chances of me ever carrying a child (aside from a miracle from God) were over.  It was heart breaking to me but I almost feel like it was a relief to Kipper. You see, ever since I can remember he has always felt like we were supposed to adopt. When we first started talking about having a baby he wanted to talk about adoption.  I have always thought of adoption as a beautiful way to grow a family, but I wanted so badly to have a child on our own so I dismissed talk of anything else.  I am pretty sure this is a prime example of me wanting to follow my own plan when God had another one. We just took the long way around.

As excited as I was that we had made a decision on how to move forward. I have been overwhelmed. Adoption is an emotional roller coaster and I am going into this somewhat emotionally drained from our infertility experience. And then there is the fact that on paper, I have no clue how we will be able to afford it. Seriously, I have no idea and it terrifies me.

Kipper and I agreed that we would stick to the same plan with adoption as we had agreed on with IVF. We would get through October and his Half Ironman before we proceeded. It would give him the opportunity to focus and it would give me the time to research our options and just give my mind a rest.

But I have been struggling and couldn't figure out why. How is it possible to be so incredibly happy, yet sad at the same time?  There were even moments when I really thought about going back on an antidepressant. Maybe the help it would provide finally outweighed all the horrible side affects I fought so hard to get away from. But just when I was to my breaking point, my middle of the night epiphany made everything so clear.

I have been grieving. Mourning the loss of what most likely will never be. 

The excitement of telling family and friends. Morning sickness. Hearing the heartbeat for the first time. An ever expanding belly. The feeling of tiny kicks. Being surrounded by our loved ones as we find out the gender. The look on his face first time Kipper could feel them move. Swollen ankles and feet. Sonogram photos. Singing and talking to my belly. Doctors appointment. Back pain. Creating a birth plan. And as crazy as it sounds, even labor and giving birth. 

As I type these things out, I feel selfish for how I have felt. There are so many precious children in this world that are just waiting for a loving family and here I am having a pity party for myself. But I have dreamed of being pregnant and having a healthy baby for so long, this change in our plans has left me feeling like I have lost something. And until this week I had no idea that is what was really going on.

I am so thankful for this epiphany because it feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can finally begin to emotionally and spiritually prepare myself for what is to come.

As we move forward in this journey, I ask for your continued prayers. Not only are we praying to grow our family in whatever way that may look like, we are also praying for on guidance on how to make adoption financially possible for our family. And once we step on the adoption roller coaster I know we will need lots love, support and understanding. You have no idea how much the prayers and support mean to us.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Other Side of Mother's Day

Disclaimer: This is one of those posts I have struggled to decide if I should share or just keep it private, but I knew I needed to put my thoughts down.  In the end I decided to share because I promised myself I would be open about our journey and this is a part of it. And even when I feel very vulnerable for sharing, I am reminded of the wonderful support group that has grown from me being open about our journey to parenthood. 

Growing up I loved Mother's Day. I got to buy or make cards and gifts for my mom, grandmothers and aunts. We got dressed up and would eat together as a family. As I got older some traditions changed but I still enjoyed celebrating the women in my life, one day really isn't enough. 

After I got married I celebrated Mother's Day as a fur mom and always looked forward to it. But as we started trying to have a baby I suddenly started to hate Mother's Day. Even though I felt very blessed to have my sweet fur babies and wanted to be happy, I couldn't shake the feeling.  

Social media has made it even worse. Seeing all of my friends with their newborns and children, the few that reserve their pregnancy announcements for that day, all the husbands praising their wives for being wonderful mothers, parents of friends talking about how blessed they were for their grandchildren. All of those things were like a knife through my heart, reminding me that the one thing I wanted still hadn't happened. That because I am only child my parents have yet to experience the joys of being grandparents in the traditional sense. (they are amazing grandparents to our fur babies!) It makes me relive so many moments of heartbreak that I wish I could block out of my mind forever. 

As much as it has hurt the last few years, I felt like I was in a better place emotionally with our journey this year so maybe it wouldn't hit me as hard. I was wrong.  It still hurt and I still cried. And honestly being the first year without Dutchess didn't help. 

I know I am not alone, there are so many others hurting today. Maybe their Mom is no longer with us. Maybe they are just waiting and praying for their time. Or they have known the joys of motherhood, but also the pain and sorrow of loss. Maybe their life isn't where they expected it to be and the chance of ever being a mother is slowly slipping away. Or they are reliving the moments they gave their child up for adoption or even worse. I can think of so many reasons today would be painful. 

I spent this weekend being thankful for the blessings I have and for those that I know are to come. We have a long road ahead of us in our journey to parenthood. It is going to be emotional and even painful at times. There is a chance that we will still be on our journey come next Mother's Day and if that is the case I am sure I will cry. 

There are so many unknowns before us but there is one thing I know for 100% certainty. One day our prayers will be answered. And when that day comes all the tears, financial strain, sleepless nights and pain will be worth it.  Everyday I just have to stay faithful, trust his plan and his timing, even on days like today. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Day I Became Marathon Allie

This has to be at least the 20th time I have sat down to write this post. Every time I open up a page to start, my mind is overwhelmed and I am at a loss for words. I get emotional as I start to relive the entire day, mile by mile. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to do this experience justice with my words.

As with most exciting experiences, I had trouble sleeping the night before. Once I was finally able to fall asleep, I woke up a few times in a sweat that I had overslept and missed the whole thing.  Once 5 a.m. rolled around I was up and less nervous than I thought. As I got dressed I was excited and ready to get started. But as we drove to AJ's house the nerves started to flare up. I remember grabbing Chris' hand and asking him, " I can do this, right?"  What I can't remember is what he said back to me. recollection whatsoever. I actually don't remember much of what happened or was said between me asking that question and him dropping AJ, Jen and I off to go to the start line.

What I did remember was posting this photo and saying a prayer. During that prayer I prayed for a safe, injury free race for everyone involved and for God to help me push through whenever I doubted myself or felt like I couldn't keep going. While I joke that I do races for the medals (don't get me wrong, I love them!) this race was different. It was not only a physical and mental challenge, it was very spiritual for me. It was the ultimate testament to God's greatness and the transformation he has helped me make over the last year.

By many people's standards I shouldn't be running a marathon. I am overweight. I am slow. I didn't train 6 days a week. But I didn't care, I have the heart of a runner. Not only was I running a marathon, I was running after being 100% med free for nearly a year. There were so many times during my training I wanted to take Adderall to help me push through/focus my mind, but I didn't give in. I panicked a week or so before and really considered taking it the day of the race, but in my heart I felt like I would be cheating myself. I am so glad I didn't give in to the fear.

Throughout the day there were a handful of very clear moments that I knew without a doubt, God was sending me the help I prayed for. Those are the moments that have stayed with me for nearly a month afterwards, that continue to work on my heart and make me want keep going.

When we walked to our corral, I was doing everything I could to keep my nerves in check. There were so many more people this year and my biggest cheerleader wasn't physically there to reassure me that it would all be ok.  As we found our way into our corral and were waiting to start, my nerves went into hyper drive. Behind me a girl was making a video to post before we started. The video went something like this: "I am about to run my first half marathon! I am so nervous but I just want to be an inspiration to all the girls out there that have every doubted themselves. Wish me luck!"

Even with all the people and noise, I remember this moment so clearly. It was a simple message, but it spoke to my heart. That is so much of what I wanted from this experience. I wanted to inspire others to reach deep and push themselves to do something they never imagined doing. I wanted to show others who had been in the dark place that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted glorify God every step of my journey. Within a few moments my nerves had calmed and I was focused.

Once we started I felt great, other than a little rumble in my stomach that I had just chalked up to nerves and figured it would go away. Little did I know that "rumble" would cause me quite a bit of trouble and help add nearly 45 minutes to my time.

Other than stomach issues and one of the water stops being out of cups, the first 12-13 miles were amazing! The energy on the course was awesome and even going up the Main Street bridge, I felt so strong.  I loved seeing my family and friends in the Stockyards and then again on Magnolia. Truth be told, I wasn't totally prepared for how lonely the course would get when the half and full split at mile 10. There were moments I felt like I was the only one still out there. I am so thankful I did all my long runs alone, otherwise this would have really been an issue.

I knew I would see everyone again right before mile 15 at Laura and Sean's house, but mile 14 is where the mind games started. I remember tearing up just a little when I saw Kipper and my Dad run across the street to meet me. For a brief moment I wanted to call it a day, a very brief moment. The cheers of from my family and sweet friends gave me another wind. Around the corner and off I went.

The next 2 miles went great. I was keeping my mind games in check and my stomach had calmed down a bit. Sadly that peace was short lived. Somewhere between mile 17 and 18, I lost it. Full blown meltdown. There were moments my eyes started to burn from the tears and I felt weighed down by sun was beating down on my back. I was really ready to give up, I no longer believed I could do it. I tried to focus on the lyrics of the song that was playing, which just happened to be Matt Maher's Hold Us Together. Shortly after the first verse I saw I woman running towards me, waving her arms. I sucked up my tears and pulled out my ear buds so I could hear her. She was so sweet, wanting to make sure I was ok and even offered to stay with me. I assured her I was ok (which was a total lie) and thanked her. As she started off the other direction she yelled "They are all in the park waiting to cheer for you! Keep Going!"  

I knew Fosters Park was the next place I would see family and friends, so that comment made the tears flow again. As I put my ear buds back in, these were the lyrics playing...

And love will hold us together
Make us a shelter to weather the storm

And I'll be my brother's keeper

So the whole world will know that we're not alone

This is the first day of the rest of your life

This is the first day of the rest of your life

'Cause even in the dark, you can still see the light

It's gonna be alright, it's gonna be alright

It was an aha moment to say the least. With a semi-fake smile on my face I kept pushing through. By the time I saw Kipper and my Dad again, my stomach was killing me and I was starting to worry about finishing in time. I could have sworn I was the only person still out there and that was really disheartening. Kipper assured me if I stayed on track I would be fine, I just had to keep going.

At Mile 20 is where I saw the whole gang, with the big banner they made AJ and I. This is when I found my next guardian angel of the day. Jenn Harris sent Bobby on to mile 23 to meet Kipper and stayed with me. Not only did she run the next 3 miles with me, she helped me make it to the next bathroom stop and kept
talking so I didn't have time to think too much.  By the time we meet the guys at the Woodshed, I felt like a new women. I was hurting and tired, but the end was in sight. Only 3 miles left, but they were 3 miles I had run a million times before. Both AJ and I said, if we could make it to the park we would be okay. We knew that part of the trail like the back of our hand.

The last 3 miles were amazing. Once in the park I realized there were lots of people still out on the course. I met up with a lady from Arkansas running her 2nd marathon and a 65 year old gentleman from Fort Worth who was also running his 1st marathon.  Chatting with them was a nice distraction for the blister that I felt burst around mile 24. And when I would start to slow down just a bit he would yell "Pick up the pace pigtails!"

When I crossed University and entered the Will Rogers complex my adrenaline really kicked in. All of the body aches, stomach issues and doubt was gone.  There were several times throughout the day that I recited one of the 4 verses I chose for this race to myself. As I picked up my pace and approached that last turn, I just kept repeating Philippians 4:13 over and over. In the final stretch all I could see was AJ on the other side of the finish line and Kipper, Watts and Jen M on the other side of the barricade cheering like mad.

It was almost like an out of body experience. As I approached the finish line the tears kept coming and I just covered my mouth in shock. I did it! I, Allie Martin, ran a freaking marathon. I am not the same person I was at the start line that morning.  I was so excited, I didn't even really care they had run out of medals and I would have to wait nearly 3 weeks to get mine. But we did get a laminated photo of the medal and a cowbell. We kept joking that we ran a freaking marathon and we got was a stinking cowbell! lol.

That morning I asked  God to help me push through whenever I doubted myself or felt like I couldn't keep going. That help came in many forms and in ways I would have never imagined. I wasn't at my best that day, I honestly didn't feel like I deserved the finish I had. But through his grace I was able to finish strong and hopefully inspire others to have the courage to push themselves in a ways they had only dreamed of.

Both AJ and I went into this thing saying it was a one and done situation. I was never going to put myself through this emotional roller coaster again. It only took a week for me to realize that wasn't the case. I will do another marathon. A few things need to happen first (losing some weight and finding a coach because I will probably not train on my own again) but I WILL do it again. I have taken time off to decompress and now it is time to focus on more cross training and speed work. I don't do well when I don't have a tangible goal and this last month was very much proof of that. Time to start putting in the work to make my next dream come true. Half marathon PR here I come! :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Road to 26.2

Less than 12 hours stand between me and the start line of my first marathon.  Just typing that sentence is still crazy to me!! I am running a marathon! It was only a year ago that I was preparing to run my first half. Something that I didn't actually think I would do more than once. 5 half marathons later, here we are.  I am running a full marathon. 26.2 miles.

I still remember the day this all started. We were at the Lake Bubble and Kipper and I were getting ready to leave. I was standing on the dock, saying my good-byes when AJ told me, "You're running the full at Cowtown with me." I remember responding with something like "yea right" or "I am going to have to think about that." But somehow in the next 5 minutes she got me to say yes and never let me forget it.

I tried to back out more than once. I didn't believe in myself. I am overweight and slow. I couldn't wrap my head around taking on that distance. It flat out terrified me. On New Year's Eve in Jenny's living room I tried one last time to back out. AJ told me she would understand, but the look on her face told me a different story. I couldn't leave her hanging. Somehow, someway we would do this together. 

As I sit here tonight, I am a mixed bag of nerves and excitement. I know I am slow. I know I don't "look" like a runner. But I have put in the work and have the heart of runner.  With the incredible support of the hubs, AJ and countless others I haven't given up. I have been on a roller coaster of emotions for a few weeks, but I am ready.

Tomorrow will be one the hardest, yet most rewarding things I have ever done. It will be an experience that will change me forever. I choose 4 verses to focus on tomorrow: Isaiah 40:31, Philippians 3:13, Psalm 37:5 and Philippians 4:13. All 4 are written in my shoes and will be what I meditate on when I think don't have anything else to give.

I can never say thank you enough to those who have supported me thus far. I am blown away by how many are coming out to cheer us on along the route. Friends who I know are not fond of early mornings are getting up super early to support us in this crazy adventure. My heart is full and I am grateful. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Grateful Heart

See this guy?

Well he is freaking awesome! And quite possibly could be the best husband in the history of husbands. I have always felt blessed by our relationship, but the last several months have made me even more grateful for everything he does for our little family.

Exhibit A: 

Yesterday morning as I got in my car I sighed because I realized I was going to have to get out and scrap my windshield. Then I looked up to realize Kipper had already scraped the ice off my window for 5:30 a.m. in the freezing cold, darkness of the morning. It is little things like this that make my heart flutter. Little things that he could easily not do and I would never think twice about them. 

He is the most supportive, loving and encouraging husband I could have ever asked for. Not just with his words, but his actions. He makes my heart overflow with gratitude and my cheeks hurt from smiling. I could give a million examples, but will stick to three. (I mean I don't want him to get a big head or anything. lol) 

Running: This year he is sitting out of running Cowtown in order to be my Sherpa for my first full marathon. I know it is killing him that he isn't running with all of us. Even when I have told him he could run, he said no. During my long training runs, all it takes is a text saying what I need and where to meet me and he is there (sometimes with Bostons in tow!)When I am done he is there to help me roll out my muscles and make sure I have a recovery smoothie or eat something. And when I start doubting myself, he is the first one to step up and tell me that I can do it. 

Home: We all know I am far from a domestic goddess, but the last few weeks I have been extra terrible. He has stepped up and picked up the slack in order to allow me to focus on my goals. I am talking he cooks, cleans, does laundry and dishes. He is my domestic super hero! 

Infertility: I am not going to lie, this is an area where emotions have gotten the best of us more than a few times. With every meltdown, comes great conversation that reassures me that in the end all will work out. Every time a door has closed, God has provided and has opened another one. And when my emotions overwhelm me, he is there to make sure I remember that.

His love for me makes me strive to be a better friend, co-worker, fur baby mommy, wife...the list goes on and on. Our relationship is unconventional and when we started dating I am sure people were perplexed, even if just by our age difference.  It never phased me. I knew from early on he was the one I was supposed to be with. And after nearly 10 years of marriage I fall in love with him more each and every day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013's Swan Song

I went into 2013 full speed ahead, with lots of plans and high expectations. As we say goodbye to 2013, I realize this year went completely different than what I could have ever imagined...and I am totally okay with that. Was it perfect? Not a chance. Am I better for every experience, trial and tribulation? Heck yeah I am!

No one wants to rehash the ups and downs of an entire year (especially when I am pretty sure most of you have a terrible hangover right now!) So for this swan song, I give you 13 things from 2013 that changed me, pushed me, made me dig deep and in the end made this year AWESOME!  

1. Running. I set out with the goal to run 1 half marathon in 2013. I never imagined that I would be able to run 4 half marathons. Let alone do it with some of the best friends a girl could ask for. In a strange way, running saved me. Running was a very important part of my personal journey this last year. 

2. Testing my faith. 2013 was a true test of my faith in God's plan for me, both personally and professionally. I am a planner and a dreamer. Both are wonderful qualities to have, but together they can be dangerous. Learning to fully trust his plan has been one of the hardest and most rewarding journeys I have embarked on.

3. Falling in love, again. This past year I fell in love with my husband all over again. Don't take this the wrong way, I never fell out of love with him. But this year was a huge year of growth for him and it was awesome to be a part of his experience.  He inspires me and makes me want to be a better person. There will never be the right words to express just how much I love him.

4. Making the switch. After years of being made fun of for my loyalty to my trusty Blackberry, I gave in and made the switch. In May I turned in my beat up, super glued together Cackberry for my very own iPhone 5. While I tried to maintain that I didn't like it, after a few drinks on a trip to NOLA I announced how much I loved my new phone and I didn't know why had held out for so long. Pretty sure at least 3 people sent Kipper a text within minutes to tell him. (On a side note: I am not sure what it says about me that this was big enough to be included in this list, but seriously it was a BIG deal!)

5. Finding my joy.
Looking back at the last year I am not sure I could have come out on top without my renewed faith. A series of events a few years ago had left me angry and made me question my faith. As I began to seek God more, I found that even in dark moments I could still be joyful. In December 2012 at the Christ Chapel's Ladies Christmas Brunch, they had a great keynote speaker (I am embarrassed I can't remember her name at the moment!)  The focus of her presentation was not letting anyone or anything steal your joy. Her message really resonated with me. I began to pay more attention to people, activities, situations that wore on me and essentially stole my joy. Through this process I learned that as much as I might love/care for someone or something, they don't always deserve to be part of my life. In 2013 I had to make the heartbreaking choice to remove things from my life who had become extremely toxic. It wasn't easy and wore on me emotionally, but in the end it was the best thing I could have done for my emotional health.

6. Waiting for baby. As I said in my post, Unanswered PrayersGod wouldn't have put it on our hearts to be parents if it wasn't meant to be. When we began to trust his plan, pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. 

7. Seeking financial peace. It is something we needed to tackle and figure out for a few years, but  it took a crazy chain of events this summer for us to hit a breaking point. We had been "getting by" for far too long. We need a real plan to tackle our finances and build some security. After Kipper met with one of the pastors at church who helps with financial planning, we joined a Financial Peace University small group. It was one of the best decisions we had made in a long time. It was life changing for us. I would recommend Dave Ramsey's program to everyone I know, no matter where you are financially.

8. Opening new doors. After spending my entire career in non-profit, I took a job with a for-profit company. It was a huge leap of faith that is already paying off. I LOVE my new job and co-workers. In case you missed my post about my new journey,  you can check it out here.

9. Trying new things. We ventured out of our normal comfort zone and along the way had a lot of laughs and even found new passions. I credit a lot of this to the major lifestyle changes Kipper (and I to an extent) have undergone the last few years. We had a date night at the trampoline park, we ran half marathons, Kipper rode in the Hotter N' Hell, I went paddle boarding and even faced some my fears by starting to learn how to REALLY swim! And that is is just the big one that popped into my head!

10. Opening up. In the past as much as liked to pretend I was an open book, there was a lot I wouldn't openly discuss. I was tired of trying to pretend I had it all together.  In 2013 I began to open up about my battle with depression, our infertility and my continued self image issues. For so long these things made be feel so much shame but even just opening up a little I was amazed at the love and support that friends flooded me with. It still blows my mind how many friends have reached out to me about because they have been in my shoes. While very few people know all the gory details, being open has been incredibly freeing and has helped me immensely.

11. Laughing. I am pretty sure I burned a thousands of calories in 2013 from all the laughing I did. We have awesome friends, who are rather hilarious. Just thinking about all the shenanigans we experienced with our friends make me laugh.  Lots of laughs were shared not only with friends, but family, co-workers and my favorite giggle sessions ever are those with Kipper and the fur babies. 

12. Saying Goodbye. 2013 will always be remembered as the year I said goodbye to my very best friend, partner in crime and fur daughter. In October I took Dutchess for her yearly check up expecting her to get a clean bill of health like she does every year. For the first time in 12 years her appointment ended in tears. Dutchess had lymphoma. After lots of research, prayer and conversations with  Dr. Young we opted to not do chemo and treat with Predinsone. We were told to expect 6-8 weeks with her, we were blessed to have her 10. Those 10 weeks were filled with extra treats, cuddles, weekend car rides and lots of family time. Kipper was always concerned how I would react when the day came. (for years the joke was I would have to be admitted to the psych ward) Of course I  was the one who came home first the night things took a turn for the worse. I knew the moment I had been preparing my heart for was finally here. I am still picking up the pieces of my heart and slowly putting them back together, but I am at peace knowing she didn't suffer and that she peacefully passed away as I held her head, singing our special song to her. 

13. Getting back to the basics. Dinner at the dining room table. Saturday nights in our pj's. Walks in the park. Weekend getaways with no real plans. Movie nights with a bottle of cheap wine. Grocery shopping. Breakfast in bed. Casual Sunday afternoons with friends. Taking time to find the awesomeness of the everyday. While some of these things started to save money or because we were just worn out, they made us happy. We took note and started making an effort to get back to a point where we took in the little things and felt fulfilled even when doing normally unimpressive things.