Monday, December 16, 2013

Where you'll find me

I borrowed "The Terminator" from Eric this week. This is the third time I've plopped it in the DVD player in the past five days. It's a Denison family favorite and the nostalgia puts me straight to sleep. Add it to the list of things that keeps me weird. Anyway, tonight I'm using it as background noise so I can finally crank out a blog post. 

I've been MIA for weeks now. The thought of updating this blog has exhausted me to the point where I don't even begin to write. This has always served as an emotional outlet for me and although the past few weeks have been incredibly emotional, I just don't have the energy at this juncture to spill my guts. I hope you'll settle for a picture update and just a little glimpse into my life at this moment.



The Bearcats. They've been winning, and I've been able to make it to a handful of games including the big win this past weekend. They're headed to Florence, Alabama for another chance at a national title. Guess who's going? This girl!


I did a wine tasting in Weston with Chris, Sara & Tim. Friends, laughter, and wine. It's hard to go wrong.


I've been making a movie with Eric and loving every minute of it, except for that whole part of the Louisville adventure where I thought I was dying. Never figured out what it was, but I enjoyed the trip nonetheless. Eric is a good travel partner.

I've been celebrating new adventures. Eric and I  can't wait to start our second of two projects this year.  Life is challenging, but it is good.

I've been listening to Willie, Waylon, and George Jones records.  I've grown up a lot since the first time I spotted records in a thrift store with my sister over ten years ago. "Hey look at these. They're cool. You could like...collect them."

And now I do collect them and I've been enjoying the hunt for those perfect records. I've found a few. Eric and I have enjoyed kicking up our feet after logging tape and listening to good music...until you have to flip it. The record player will go in the new office--another current project. 
I've been spending time with family. My nephew is getting so big. I had a lovely getaway to St. Louis with my big sis and had some time to spend with my brother and his family.

I went to a Christmas Tree farm with Eric. I capitalized "Christmas Tree" because it was that exciting for me.  I always had fake trees growing up, Everyone should go at least once in their lives. I figured 26 was as good an age as any.

I attended my friends' annual holiday party. I showed up to these two crazy santas. It was just a good reminder of why I love my friends.

I got back to the gym. I've lost 10 of the 22 pounds I gained back. I'm only 10 pounds away from liking myself again. Kidding,but not kidding. The marathon is out because of lingering knee problems but triathlon training starts January 1st. Eric and I will do this or we'll die trying. If anyone is on the tri boat, let me know. Love workout buddies!

We're redoing the office. We're making it officey. This picture doesn't do justice to the progress we've made. But just know it's going to be epic and we'll get to say we did it all by ourselves. DIY. I'm about it.
There's been a lot more in between all this, a lot more people I've spent time with, a lot more challenges I've faced, a lot more fun I've had, and a lot more experiences I didn't capture. But for the most part, this is where you'll find me. I'm somewhere close to happy, though never content. Keep pushing forward. There's a lot more adventure to come...


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Making movies, learning lessons, and growing up


I cry about everything now and I’ll probably cry when I write this. I’ll keep you posted.

I want to write this now, before life gets so hectic that I don’t have time to. I want to write this now, so that I can remember how important this really is to me when I feel like giving up. I want to write this now because I haven’t before and I’m feeling blessed.

It was August when we found out that Dream Season had been nominated for a Mid-America Regional Emmy. It was a surprise for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because Eric and I are just two stupid kids still trying to figure out what we’re doing.  The nomination came almost a year after our first documentary premiered in Maryville and long after I was willing and ready to close the Dream Season chapter of my life.

But things happen for a reason. I’ve always believed that, even though I try to ignore that thought when I want to feel miserable about life.

Cry Katie, let it out, no one cares. God’s punishing you.

I so often forget that those hard times make the good times better.

Making a movie…it’s not as easy as it looks. Did you know that you need permission for everything and you have to pay a million people a bajillion dollars to even entertain the notion? As we entered post-production on Dream Season we were hit with more unexpected expenses and fees (because we’re just two stupid kids remember?) and Eric just looked at me and said, “Tell me that everything is going to be all right.”

It wasn’t the first time we thought about throwing in the towel. By that point we had every single video we needed to create our movie, but quitting was still an option. It was always an option, and to be honest, at some points…not a bad one.  I don’t know that it would have been a bad decision then, but I do know now that it would have been the wrong one.

I can’t watch Dream Season without wanting to bang my head against a wall. I think people always feel that way about their own work. There are so many things I would have done differently if I could go back and at least 352 ways I could make it better now. When Dream Season was happening, I fantasized about future projects but when it ended, I couldn’t see us pushing through to create anything else. I came to terms with that and I even told Eric, “If this is the only thing we ever do, I’ll be proud of us.” Despite knowing things now that could have made it better, I am confident that we told an incredible story, met some amazing people, and shared an experience that I’ll never forget. It changed my confidence, my attitude toward life, and my appreciation of Eric.

“As with any Journey, who you travel with can be more important than your destination.”

Eric. 

This almost seems like an open letter to him, and maybe on some level it is. But it’s mostly for me. I don’t want to forget how important he is and how blessed I am to have him by my side for these projects, especially knowing I’ll probably shoot eye darts at him consistently and shower him with profanities 17 times over the next two weeks…and it’s only the beginning of this new journey. Sorry in advance.

Eric and I became friends in college. Go Bearcats!  We are so different, but also so very much alike in so many ways, but let’s get to what matters here. I asked Eric, in the middle of Dream Season production, “Did you think six years ago when we met, we’d be making a documentary together now?” Absolutely not. 

It’s one of my favorite things to think about. How quickly and fiercely life pushes you in a new direction. Our friendship has definitely had its ups and downs, as most do. Forgiveness is important to me, and we’ve extended that kindness to each other on many occasions. Not the fake forgiveness that buys you a little bit of time, but the genuine forgiveness that makes it possible to do things like this together, not kill each other, and actually learn, grow, and have some fun.

Eric. He’s bad at accepting forgiveness. He’s generally late. He sometimes can’t remember a conversation I had with him two minutes ago (probably because he wasn’t listening), and he avoids confrontation like the plague. I mean that when I say it…like.the.plague.

He’s irritated now reading this.

UGH. I’m always listening! What do you mean I avoid confrontation?!

But Eric taught me a lot of things over the past few years. Take risks, be confident, have some damn fun. He taught me that you can’t take EVERYTHING so seriously. I learned that you can take a poster off a wall for an interview shot and climb on the back of your car to shoot the sun set and you’re probably not going to be arrested. I learned that the only way to get better at something is to just frickin do it. I learned that coffee is actually a necessity for some people and that red wine is better than white.

Eric.  What I learned about him. He’s a dreamer. He’s the type of person you text and say, “Let’s make a movie.” And then you actually do. He’s a little bit reckless, but almost always rewarded for his risks. When he’s not? Eh, move on. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t always have the words he needs to say, but also the kind that will send you flowers when your hard drive crashes. He’s brilliant and unbelievably talented.
(Here are the tears. Knew I wouldn’t make it through.)

He’s also the type of guy that says, “Yeah, let’s do this,” when you ask if he wants to make another documentary…even knowing everything we went through before. For two smart people, we sure can be stupid.  J

I’M SO EXCITED! We have not only one, but two projects in the works. Life hits you fast. And before you’re know it you’ve gone from just two kids who don’t know what they’re doing to two adults who know just enough, just enough to maybe make something great. That’s the goal. We've been blessed with more awesome opportunities and I won't waste them.

All those feelings from Dream Season have rushed back over me. Not the hard times, those pass. The excitement of the experience, the people we’re going to meet, the goals we intend to reach. Those thoughts have my head spinning and more than a little excited. I’m pumped. With everything I learned from Eric over the past few years, my dad, and the other great people I’m surrounded by, I’m confident that we can do this. Unlike last time, I’m not afraid of failing. We’re going to mess up. This is going to be hard.

This is going to be worth it.

Thanks in advance to my team of supporters who I know will be joining us on this adventure. Sorry in advance to Eric. I’ve only had one tantrum so far; Things are looking good.

Life is short. Here’s to risk, passion, trials, fun, and reward. Let’s do this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Inspiration

I don't feel inspired to write or share right now. In fact, I feel everything but that. What's the opposite of joyful and hopeful? I never write when I'm feeling down. There's a reason for this. There are actually about 33 reasons and they can all be found as posts on my college blog. EMBARRASSING.

When we're feeling blue and depleted, it's so common to turn our days into pity parties. I actually texted a friend today and asked him to "send me something nice", because I was feeling so poorly about myself.  That's not fishing for compliments or encouragement, it's demanding it. Now, I get to feel bad about that too.

Has the lonely bug hit me or what? I've found a lot of comfort in being a strong, independent woman, but these days I desperately long for a hand to hold and someone to call who thinks the sun shines out my ass no matter what mood I'm in or what success or failure I've seen over the day.

I've gained nearly 20 pounds in the past four months. Not 20 pounds of muscle, but 20 pounds of plain old fat. No excuses, although I want to make them. I feel worse about myself and my body than I did when I was 368 pounds. The difference is, I care now. I care about the way I look, the way I feel, how others perceive me, and how much abuse this young (but old) body of mine can take from me.

I'm not writing this blog at an attempt to "get back on the wagon." I'm already there. But what scares me is how very important attitude is toward everything in our lives. The "I can do this" mentality has been the only attitude that has garnered me any success this far in life. Every moment that I've felt like I can't...well...I haven't.

Today I'm feeling like I can't do this, any of it. I can't do the two new projects that Eric and I signed on for. I can't lose this weight. I can't meet my work goals. I can't find my happy. For so long, I've used so much strength from within to fight my demons, but for the first time in a long time...I'm going to look to outside sources, at least until I get back to that place again where I feel like nothing in the world can stop me.

My dad, Eric, my students, my family and friends...they're my motivation for now. I'm inspired by others' successes, and I hope with just a little help, I can kick all this negativity to the curb. Frankly, I don't have the time or the life for it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The power of forgiveness

Watching my family cry was really difficult.  Saying goodbye was even worse. Knowing I'd never see her again was almost unbearable, but when my mom was dying, I had to do the hardest thing I had ever done. I had to forgive her.

My relationship with my mom was always turbulent, but my memories of her are very fond. I don't remember a lot of my childhood, one that my dad says is probably worth forgetting anyway. I know I had a privileged life as a kid, that was sprinkled with verbal and emotional abuse that I've long since forgotten. It wasn't much different than the kid next door, but we all grow up and learn that we have to face our own pasts to have a future, no matter the good we've lost or the bad we've held onto.

My mom never told me she was sorry. She never apologized for any pain or sadness she had caused. But holding her hand on that day she told me that , "Everything is going to be alright, but I'm not going to make it,"...It just really didn't matter. How much of my 15 years had I wasted being bitter? How many great moments had I missed with my mom because it was just easier to be angry than move on? I still cringe at that thought, but the truth is...as hard as it was to forgive my mom, it was even more difficult to forgive myself.

You do and say a lot of mean things when you can't forgive. People don't drive you crazy; bitterness does. I was so sorry for all the heartless words that left my mouth, the hate I hissed, and the nearly cruel things I had done towards my mother because I had felt so slighted, so hurt. I don't really remember any of those things now. Mostly I just remember the great times I shared with my mom, the way she pushed her glasses to the tip of her nose to balance her checkbook, and how she'd dance around the kitchen to embarrass my little sister. I don't remember the all-out fights, but I do remember how she'd squeeze me tight afterwards and say, "You're my sweetheart."

I really forgave her. I really forgave myself. Maybe I used my forgiveness to block out all that bad  alone...maybe it was a gift, but either way I've truly seen the power of forgiveness. It was my general inability to forgive myself for other parts of my life that left me fragile, furious, and fat for so many years. Bitterness can really guide your life if you let it. It's a conscious decision to be miserable that I stopped making when I decided to get fit and start living a full life. I started the long and winding journey to forgiving myself that ultimately resulted in a much happier, much healthier me.

But I'm human. I'm far from perfect, and I've learned that I'll need to forgive myself for a lot of things in the years to come. I stopped forgiving myself for slip-ups and mistakes, and like clockwork I stopped forgiving the people around me for the ways that they had wronged me. It's lead to a couple really depressing months, a general feeling of being lost, a lack of motivation, a desire to eat...EVERYTHING, and a lot of built up bitterness.

I'm so bitter toward some people in my life right now, that I can taste the anger on my tongue. These are people I love. These are people, who like me, are doing the best they can. Honestly, some people's best is just pretty shitty. You have to love them, forgive them, and wait for them to come to their own life realizations or you have to let them go. Forgiving and forgetting is hard, but it's worth it. Because the only person you're destroying by withholding forgiveness, is yourself.

Forgiving someone for being a complete jackass isn't weak. Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give someone, and it's an even greater gift you give yourself. It isn't an invitation for them to continue the same behavior, nor is it a guarantee that you'll never have to forgive again. Forgiveness is just a chance to make some wrongs right. It's a chance to share more good times than bad with the people you love. Or it's a chance to forget and move on from the people you don't love.

I'm going to have to forgive myself for a lot that has happened the past couple months if I want to stay on track and run a marathon in February. I'm going to have to forgive myself if I'm going to forgive these other people in my life who just can't seem to get it right these days. I love them though and I have faith that this phase of life will pass. They'll get it right, sooner rather than later.  One day I'll need their forgiveness, and I'll hope they'll decide the same thing that I have; They're worthy of my forgiveness and so am I.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chad

People have always commented on how honest my blog is. I've admitted to embarrassing things on this page. I've shared some real emotions and admitted to numbers and stories that I'm not proud of. So, why stop now?

I hit my first true emotional and physical rut over the course of this past month. I've gained back nearly 10 pounds of the weight I've lost. 

Gained. 

Wow. I never thought I'd have to use that word referencing my weight, ever again. The thought of it really saddens me. I've hid the whole struggle (as best I can), from my family and friends. This process has become such an important part of my life, that I'm actually losing sleep over it. I can't sleep, but I can certainly eat and I've watched myself do things I promised I'd never do again. I've let other people and sadness dictate what I do with my body. I let the instant gratification of delicious food and laziness win this past month. I'm sick of it, plain and simple.

How do I stop it? As humans we are so incredibly stubborn. Sometimes we can't even convince ourselves to do the things we desperately need to do.  We self-sabatage. It's unfortunate, but sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us how valuable our own life is. 

Last week, Chad Rogers went for a run and never came home to his wife and baby. I was hundreds of miles away at the time, but I felt deeply connected to the story. Maybe it was the fact that he was from my town, or perhaps because he was close to people I know. But I think the truth is, I felt connected to him because he was a runner. I almost came home a day early to help search for him.

I couldn't help thinking about the whole situation, how connected we all are no matter how different the lives are that we lead. His scent was last picked up close to my apartment building, in a place that I, myself have run. Our feet have hit the same pavement, we've passed the same old fuel shop, and probably waved to the same old lady that gardens in the early-morning heat. 

We probably thought about different things on our runs. We probably ran for different reasons. He was a marathon runner and he could probably run my route in half the time it takes me. He was the type of runner that if I passed him, I'd probably change my route to avoid the embarrassment of him seeing me run like a turtle. I don't know much about him, but I know we were different. But I also know that for one reason or another, we would both run.

Did I ever pass him? I've seen so many people on my runs, I could never remember all the faces. I was supposed to run the night he disappeared, but I ultimately decided against it. My mind raced around this thought after he first went missing.

I didn't come home early from my trip, but my roommate and I had already planned to head out and search when I got home. I received word on my drive home that Chad's body had been found.  It was found in a portable restroom at the school by my old apartment, where I spent the first year of my journey training. I ran my first real mile on that track, lost my first 100 pounds. I experienced a lot of sadness over that news, a lot of sadness for a man I never met. I immediately thought of his family, and I watched as they thanked the community in a news conference that afternoon.

It was a tragic end to a story that deeply impacted so many people in my town. And although the town mourned and thought of the family, I imagine they were also thinking the same thing I thought...That could have been me. That could have been anyone. It could have been a friend or a family member, someone I loved. 

When the news first broke of his disappearance, he was referred to as a Liberty runner. I realized that only a day later, that I was referencing him just as "Chad". Chad was a Liberty resident who happened to value one of the same things I do. Running meant something to him. I'll probably never know exactly what, but I know enough to know that it was important to him. 

So what does this all mean? Why has Chad's story become a part of mine? 

We're all human. We're all stubborn in our own ways. We're all valuable. We forget to take care of ourselves. You forget when you're busy living, how painfully short life is.  We stay in dead-end jobs, waste time on hopeless relationships, say things we shouldn't say, and forget to say the things we should. We pass up opportunities for greatness to avoid discomfort. We stop fighting our demons out of laziness. In my case, I just made excuses for overeating and stopped running when it got difficult.

I can't win every battle, but I'm worth fighting for. If I may leave this life that early, I can't keep wasting time. Chad's life was cut far too short, but it was valuable. It was valuable to his family and the people who loved him. It was valuable to me. My prayers are with his family and friends as they struggle to find peace. 

I've got another day to live still, and I'm blessed to have another day to run. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let's be honest


I had two weeks where I barely worked out and ate my fair-share of "bad" food. I even gained some weight back. I can't tell you how hard that is on me when I work so hard to not only lose weight, but maintain my weight loss. I'm human though and I think the biggest demon I'll ever face is my love of food. 

I caught myself thinking about food a lot, planning what my next splurge would be, dreaming about it really. Chicken fingers? Cheeseburger? Dairy Queen Blizzard? The thing is, if I could just have one of those and be happy, then their wouldn't be a problem. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying those foods from time to time. But I had one and then I NEEDED the others. Is one thing after the next.  I regressed into "Old Katie" mode and where I wasn't being satisfied in other parts of my life, I turned to food to comfort me.

That's just not me anymore and instead of lingering in this general state, I'm running away from it. Literally.

I officially started my marathon training on Monday. I just can't eat poorly like that and still have the energy, stamina, and general well feelings to run distances of any kind. And by distance, I mean a mile. *wink*. I created my own marathon training plan after consulting several different kinds. My friend and I are both following my self-made plan, and I'm hoping we'll see good results from it. And by results, I mean live to tell about it.

I really like the idea of incorporating trail-running and hills and speed work into the training plan. Lately, I've been all about working different muscle groups and focusing on strengthening the parts of my legs that need it most in order to avoid further knee injury.  I also like the idea of doing my long runs on a week day. I'd rather be completely wiped out on a week day then over the weekend. I'm also not committing to a specific number of miles on every long run. I'm well aware that every run is different from the last, and a day that I set out to run four, I might very well be able to do five and vice versa.

I'm excited. I'm nervous, but excited. 

I've also been doing Title Boxing for about a week now. That is by far the most difficult workout I've done to date and I'm loving the challenge. I won't be able to afford a membership, but I'm going to enjoy my last week I have with my Groupon!
After a 6 A.M. boxing class!
Made the mistake of doing a power hour boxing and then running three miles. I do NOT recommend that. I won't be doing it again.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Run With It

I turned 26 this week.
It snuck up on me. I guess I was too busy living to realize that the new number attached to my name officially puts me closer to 30 than 20. But unlike when 25 was looming, I'm not afraid. I'm excited. A year ago I posted a blog titled, "Best Year Ever." I talked about losing 100 pounds, producing a documentary, and starting the journey to find myself.

There are no words I could write here that would do this past year justice. Over this past year I made some mistakes, grew distant with some friends, felt like I was losing my mind at times, and cried over lost loves and days where I felt like I'd just never get what I want. I'm still poor. I'm still a bit lonely. But I'd be lying if I said this wasn't the "Best Year Ever"...because it was. If 24 ain't got nothing on 25, I can only imagine what that means for the coming year.

It's amazing how people can impact your life if you let them in. It's even more amazing how different your human experience can be if you shift your attitude. Here are 26 things I did or learned this year, in no particular order.

1. Completed post production on "Dream Season" and premiered it with my best friend.

2. Learned how to make delicious stir-fry.

3. Made amazing new friends and reconnected with old ones.

4. Went mountain biking! (And busted my face)

5. Brought my weight loss total to over 180 pounds. 

6. Smoked a cigar.

7. Ran a mile in 9 minutes.

8. Learned that people DO treat you differently based on how you look, but more importantly...YOU treat yourself differently.

9. Squatted 185 pounds.

10. Tried ethiopian food.

11. Ran a 10K with my best friend in the best small-town in Missouri.

12. Snuggled my nephew and welcomed a new niece into the family.

13. Watched my not-so-baby niece graduate from high-school.

14. Went fishing with my brother.

15. Cried hysterically while watching Garth Brooks perform "The Dance" live.

16. Took a nap in a hammock after floating on the lake with my sister, sipping on frozen drinks.

17. Jumped off the back of a boat.

18. Ran a race and got a medal.

19. Bought size 12 pants.

20. Learned that most people are doing the best they can.

21. Took a boxing class...and rocked it!

22. Learned the Merengue.

23. Watched one of my dearest friends get proposed to.

24. Discovered that I love wine.

25. Had the best day ever.

26. Moved in with one of the best friends a gal could have.


I have had a ton of people reach out to me this year, some friends and some strangers. On my "Best Year Ever" post from last year, my sister Rikki commented, "I'm thrilled you are starting to embrace your strength and run with it." I read that today and was somewhat amused. I literally chose to run this year in an attempt to better myself. I've run in all sorts of neighborhoods, on tracks, on trails, through water and mud, uphill, downhill, in all different parts of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma. My running career is pretty much a parallel to my life at this point. I've faced some hard runs. I've been injured and healed repeatedly. I've gotten lost and been found. I've fallen down and got back up. I know that as I continue running, I'll face more and more of these obstacles. I know the same can be said about life. 

But I also know that with the people I love by my side, the will and the courage, it is very possible that 26 could be the best year ever. I've had a lot of fun, but I'm not finished.






Monday, June 24, 2013

HALF MY SIZE - After 10 years without Mom


My sister Rikki, Mom, and me.


It was a sunny day in the spring of 2003. I asked my mom to pick me up after school so I could see if I had been selected for any of the broadcasting leadership positions. My teacher posted them on the classroom door at the end of the school day. I don't remember looking at the list, but I do remember crying when I got into my mom's blue Dodge Neon. The news must not have been what I wanted. My mom was quick to console me, "I'm just proud of you for going for it. You're just a sophomore!" 

I snapped at her. I didn't want her telling me how great I was, when I obviously wasn't.

"Well I guess you're not as mature as I thought. I'll just keep this I guess." She kept one hand on the wheel, but held up a box with a beautiful ring in the other. Of course, I quickly apologized and looked at the ring. "You'll get it next year Kate and you won't have to worry about all the nerves. You know how talented you are. Just keep doing what you're doing, sweetheart."

It was less than a month later that I was standing outside a hospital room, waiting for my "turn", my turn for them to tell me, Mom was sick and this time...she wasn't going to make it. I knew it before I walked in the room, but I'll never forget hearing those words. I stood at the end of the bed, lifeless. She reached for me and I joined her at the side of the bed. 

It's weird, the things you think of, when you hear that news. For some reason I kept thinking about all her lasts. She'd never sleep in her bed again. What would be the last Royals game she would watch? Was the day before she went into the hospital be the last time she'd see her cats? Would this be the last thing she would wear?

My mom reached my hand to my heart. 
"I'll always be here," she said. "I'll always be in your heart." We cried together...for the last time.

That night we all spent the night at my brother's apartment. It was close to the hospital. I slept on the floor. I felt sick, afraid to close my eyes, worried that I'd wake up and she'd be gone. But there we were, at the start of a long month of painful goodbyes. We were all together for once though, waiting...waiting for Mom to die. 

That next morning I sat with my mother at the hospital. A preview for a new episode of "Whose Line is it Anyway?" came on. 

"We should watch that together," I told her. She smiled at me, without a hint of sadness she replied,
"If I'm here, sweetheart."

If I'm here.

I've replayed her voice saying that a million times. If I'm here? She said it so matter-of-factly. She came to terms with dying. The fact of life was that she just might not be here. I was heartbroken. I couldn't process how life could continue without her. It was possible, even probable that they would play that episode, even if my mother wasn't around to see it. How can life just move forward like that without her?

I sat next to my mother's bed a couple weeks later and turned on that TV show. She could no longer stay awake long enough to watch anything or process what was going on, but I turned it on anyway. I held her hand and tried laughing, but couldn't help but fall asleep. It was the first time I slept in weeks. When I woke up, she was still there, but not many days after that- she wasn't.

It was a sunny day in the summer of 2003 when she left us. I was 15 years old and my younger sister was only nine. It was one of the worst months of my life, but it started what could be described as one of the greatest love stories ever told. We were a disjointed and distant family. My mom passing brought us together. My siblings are my dearest (and wisest) friends to this day. My dad, is my hero. It's in our darkest moments we learn what we're made of. I honestly believe that.

Fast forward to 18 months ago. Losing Mom was hard on all of us. I spent a lot of the years she was gone feeling miserable. I lost my drive. I lost my will. I lost me. But 18 months ago, I started the journey to find myself in this whole jumbled up mess. I started thinking about what she had said to me so cavalierly, "If I'm here."

If I'm here.

I know that sometimes we leave this Earth before we think we're ready, and most certainly before everyone else is ready for us be gone. 

Well, if I'm here, I'm going to live. I mean, really live. We honest-to-God have no idea when and where our end will be here. That's what started this whole thing for me, and that's where I am today. If I'm here, I'm going to fight. I'm going to live outside my comfort zone, hold the people I love, work hard, play hard, learn things, post pictures of my cat on facebook and drink wine. If I'm here, you'll know I'm here. And when I'm on my deathbed, watching a preview for a show I might not make it to see, I'll just tell you I'll watch it, "If I'm here." Because if I'm not, I'll know that I tried the best I could to be the best person possible for not just myself, but my family and my friends...while I was here.

Today, I am half the size I was when I started this process. I'm down to 184 pounds from 368. So far, I've gone from a size 32 to a 12 in pants and a size 4X shirt to a Medium. More importantly, I've started living. 

10 years without Mom. It's been hard. Every day she drives me. Her memory has been a powerful force in my movement to better myself. I wish she was here with me right now to celebrate how far I've come. I wish she was here to tell me to just, "Keep doing what you're doing, sweetheart." I'm forced to settle for a memory. I'll forever be grateful. I'll always miss her. This milestone for me, is most definitely...for her.


This used to be a shirt. Now, it's a dress!

I could fit two of me! 





All the weight I've lost in the past 18 months.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Miles for Mom

Tuesday will be 10 years since my mother passed. I have plans that day to remember her, but I know with work and everything going on that day, I won't get in a big run. The memory of my mom has played such a huge role in my journey the past 18 months. I decided to spend today adding some miles to my shoes in memory of her.
Got in my first five miles around 8:30 this morning. I jogged the first 4.5 and gave my knees a rest for the last half. I can still do it! I haven't jogged more than two miles at a time since my 10K. I've been working intervals so I can build up my endurance.



I added another 1.5 to the shoes when I joined my aunt and uncle for a walk before lunch. I hadn't seen them in awhile and I was able to hear about their anniversary cruise this past week!



I headed over to my brother's after lunch. We walked three miles while my nephew rode his scooter.  Chase told me about summer school and showed off his mad scooter-riding skills. My brother got to tell him the story of me crashing on a sled when I was five years old. Not one of my mother's finer moments, but always a fun story to share. :)

I had already completed 10 miles for the day but I decided to get a 2-mile jog in at sunset.

A final three miles with my Dad, and that's a wrap. :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hungry

Today is one of those days.

I just have a whole bunch of crud I have to take care of today. Cleaning, laundry, and work on beautiful summer days sometimes makes me grumpy. Most days I'm thankful that I have a great job, clothes to wear, and an apartment to live in. Today though, I really just wanted to punch everyone and everything in the face.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, not feeling the greatest. I had just a couple pieces of toast instead of my protein charged breakfast like I usually have. I realized that was a mistake. By 11 A.M. I was starving. I actually felt hunger pains which I never feel. Then it was back home to eat lunch, but I realized I had no groceries to prepare my meal. Not only that, but I needed to swing by the office. So I set out for the office, knowing I could grab my groceries on the way back. Well "swing by" turned into a little over an hour, and by the time I was finished I had to go pick up my roomie to do laundry.

I was so angry and grumpy that I couldn't smile at anything. I had to make a detour to the store and pick up something to make for lunch. I made a sandwich and ate some watermelon. I can't really explain to you the difference food has made in my day. I didn't realize just exactly HOW hungry I really was. The second I ate that last piece of watermelon I felt a calm take over my body. Seriously, our bodies are amazing and I need to learn to listen to mine.

Learning the difference between being hungry or being bored, sad, happy, excited, etc. has been my biggest challenge. I've avoided in the last couple weeks by eating on a fairly strict schedule. I guess my body was content with that and doesn't like the idea of me coming close to skipping a meal.

All I can say is, God Bless my turkey sandwich and watermelon.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Misadventure

I hit the scale yesterday and weighed in at 186.4. That was another three pound loss. Although I think I gained some back today. It was a big breakfast, steak & potato, dessert kinda day. I didn't get my workout in today like I wanted to and here's why...

That's me before my first big trail ride! I've been giving serious thought to trail running, but when the opportunity came up to ride the trail on my good-as-new bike, I jumped at it. Seriously, nothing sounded greater than that this week. I love riding my bike. It's not the same feeling as running. It's a different kind of high, and I was stoked to take in the scenery of a beautiful trail in Smithville. I look upset, but that's really only because I wanted to grab a quick picture to capture the moment before Eric saw me taking a "selfie" for no-good-reason, outside the car...before we even hit the trail. Smiling would have been too obvious.

Eric gave me some quick tips and off we went. I was a little nervous at first. The trail was narrow and the obstacles were a little different than I had imagined, but it wasn't long before I was comfortable, taking the turns faster and approaching the obstacles with less hesitation. Eric got in front of me by quite a bit, which I was expecting. I came upon the first set of bridges about a half mile in. I passed over them and hit the next set a little farther down the trail.


I don't really know what happened when I hit that one bridge. All I know is that one second I was up and the next I was down. Man down! I hit my head...hard. Even through my helmet I felt the impact. I looked up and saw Eric about 20 feet away, turned on his bike looking back at me.I put my head back down. I thought to myself,  I just hit my head kind of hard. I can probably keep going. I can see still. 

Eric finally got to me and asked me if I was okay. I looked up to say yes, but that's when the blood came.
Eric decided to "wash off" the bridge before I could snap a picture. It's amazing that amount of blood that can pump out of a small wound on your head. We couldn't decide if I needed stitches, but since neither one of us are doctors we decided we better get it checked out. I had to make the 3/4 mile trek back to the car, walking my bicycle. Once I got to the car, I realized the emergency room was actually what I most likely needed. 
The ER in Smithville was a treat. After I got checked in, I went to use the restroom. When I came back Eric was gone. He had left his phone in his chair and...one shoe. I browsed the room. Where did he go with just one shoe? The other person in the waiting room motioned to outside. There he was...in the tick removal process. Double bummer.
They took me back. I waited for an eternity for my three stitches. 
Doctor: What happened here?
Me: I fell off my bike
Doctor: Don't people stop doing that when they're about 10 years old?
Me: Well I was riding the trail at Smithville and something caught on a bridge and I fell off and broke the fall with my face.
Doctor: Oh. You CRASHED your bike. Don't tell people you fell off your bike. That's embarrassing.


A couple hours and about 14 only half-way amusing doctor jokes later, I was out of there. I left with blue stitches. "Blue is your color. I can tell," the doc told me. I also left with injured pride, confirmation that the puncture wound on my head  (that he couldn't stitch) WILL scar, and...a tick. But the truth of the matter is, I also left with yet another story I could write about. Every day can be an adventure if you let it, and although this turned into a "misadventure", I'm still glad I tried something new. I can't wait to give it another spin, when all the blood rushing to my head from riding doesn't make the stitches pop out of my head. Five days is what the doctor told me.
In the meantime, I'll try to remember that sometimes things just don't go as we plan. It could have been a lot worse. I'm glad I was wearing a helmet and I'm glad Eric was with me for the little ordeal. He was a good friend for staying with me, even after I ruined his day on the trail with my face plant. He reacted quickly, even though he admitted that at first when he looked back he thought I was "planking". Because I always stop in the middle of a trail ride to lay on a bridge and plank. :) 

But maybe I do? That was my first ride and maybe I'll add random planking to the routine next time. A voluntary plank is always better than an involuntary one where you're supporting your body weight with your face.
Cheers to misadventures!
The glasses didn't make it...
Good Friend Award!

                                                       

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Medium

I can't really tell you how amped I am about how my quest for 30 days of happiness has been going. Not every moment has been incredibly happy, but it sure has been close. Today my sister let me know that she signed us up to do a race together for my birthday! "Four on the Fourth" will be another race for the books, and get this...I get a medal! Who would have thought that we'd ever be running together? She has been such a constant inspiration for me throughout this whole journey and I'm super psyched to have some quality sister time.

This news came on top of another mini-victory for me today. If you look to your left, that's me sporting a brand new UMKC shirt. It may look like your normal college tee, but to me it's more than that. Just 18 months ago I was squeezing myself into a 4X shirt.  That shirt I'm wearing today? That's a MEDIUM.  I checked the tag twice to confirm. 
After work today, it was time to hit the gym. Kayla and I take pictures every couple months to track our fitness progress. Today, I was cracking myself up. I scare myself in the photo below, but that is the legitimate face I make if I try to smile while lifting. Hardcore.
After lifting, it was time for a run. I really didn't want to. My mind tried to stop me several times over the course of the run, but I got in almost three miles before turning in for the day. I'm exhausted and ready to sleep. I guess you could say I had a pretty happy day. So far June is shaping up to be a pretty good month!

Post-run. It was a hot three.



Saturday, June 8, 2013

How I survived my first 10K and even laughed


 A bum knee, an emotional collapse, and a car breakdown.
The world did NOT want me to run my first 10K this morning, but God willing...I did.

It was one of those "I miss mom weeks." I found a lot of happy the past five days, but not enough to keep me from tears the entire week. In fact, I managed to cry on the way home from work earlier this week. Car crying is my favorite because you get to face the awkward walk from the car to your apartment with cry-face. No sir, I haven't been crying. I just have really bad allergies.

Being independent for the past ten years has made me dependable, self-motivated, and fairly confident as of late. But sometimes I face, what seems to be, unfathomable loneliness. It always takes me over when I get hung up knowing what my mom is missing and the moments in my life that she'll never share. I get stuck thinking; No one will ever love me like Mom did. Everyone else has someone they love more. That feeling can hit me like a ton of bricks, even when I'm surrounded by family and friends.

That said, I ran twice this week. I did two short 20-minute jogs. The knee felt fairly good after staying off of it for nearly two full weeks and finding some antiinflammatory drugs that actually work. I did some strength training during the week, and although I was "bummed" about my "bum" knee, (See what I did there?) I actually got excited thinking about overcoming it to finally finish my first timed run.

Last night when I laid out all my gear for this morning, I got REALLY excited...and nervous.


New running top, shorts, knee brace, running pack, bandana, headphones, magic jellybeans. For the first time, I felt like a runner. I felt more like a running tool that was over-prepared and slightly obnoxious, but a runner none-the-less.

I wanted to sleep by 8 P.M. but phone calls and text messages kept me up well past ten. My 3:30 A.M. alarm was an unwelcome sound.

I hopped right out of bed, ate my breakfast and jumped in my car. I could only get a bagel down. I brought other food with the intention of eating it on the way or before the race, but I was too nervous to eat. I was shivering from the cold and nerves when I walked to my car. I popped off a quick text to Eric to let him know I was on my way. About ten miles outside of town, all that loneliness left me. I had forgotten how incredibly happy I was to be able to do this. A year ago I struggled to mostly walk a 5K. Eighteen months ago, I could barely walk around the track once. This opportunity to run was a blessing, and to not embrace it fully, with the best attitude possible...would have been a waste. I felt silly for being sad all week. Wanting my mom there wasn't going to make the run any more special. I miss her, but conquering this is another step in my life and I needed it to happen for me, regardless of who could be at the finish line to celebrate with me.

I made it past St. Joe and then it happened.

BOOM.

I heard a pop and my car started smoking. It started "steaming". Let's be clear about that my dad would tell me on the phone. So there I was; excited, happy...and stranded. I called my sister, Rikki.

"Did your car break down?" she asked. She was on her way up to Maryville to meet me to run the half-marathon and had just passed me when I was getting out of my car. She circled back and picked me up. And thanks to my dad, I got to continue on to my run without worrying about my car. "I'll take care of it, sweetie. Get to your run."

We made it to Maryville. I was in a state of "pee-emergency" by this point from all the water I had been drinking, but I grabbed my race-packet and waited for Eric to get there. By the time he and his girlfriend arrived, it was only 15 minutes before race time. We peed, lined up, and off we went!

Mile one was difficult. The second was worse. Hill after hill after hill. But miles three through five were great and I couldn't believe we were almost finished. We kept a pace that let us chat throughout the run. It was great having someone to run with. Eric's girlfriend met us at mile three with lots of cheers and at mile five some man was hitting a giant drum aggressively to keep our spirits up. Worked for me! Eric was less impressed.

The last mile was hard. My knee began to hurt and my hip started giving me trouble, but and hour and a little over 12 minutes after we had started, we crossed the finish line (not last I might add). All this build up, and then it was over. Even with the knee pain, all I could think was...I can't wait to do this again.


We waited for Rikki to cross the line after her half. She ran 13.1 miles with bronchitis. Damn. That's either awesome or crazy...or both. We all got in a good laugh as Rikki searched for her medal. "Where's my medal?! That's the reason I do these ya know?!" We took some post-race pictures, hit up some yard sales and headed home.



Things like this don't happen in my life. I don't run races. My car doesn't break down and I get to just go about living my day like nothing happened. But my dad answered his phone at five in the morning and arranged a tow so I could do my run. My sister picked me up, showed me the ropes, and drove out of her way to take me home. Eric ran with me the entire time, even though he could have gone much faster than me. They all told me they were proud of me.




I survived my first 10K.
Bum knee, emotional breakdown, car trouble and all.
But I think the most important thing I realized is, I'm not alone.

Bring on the next one!




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Where you'll find me

Over the next 30 days, I'll be blogging a little bit differently. If you want to see all the happenings in and around my fitness journey, look to the "30 Days to Happy" tab here at the top of my blog. It will also include stories, triumphs, and struggles from other people who each have a journey of their own.

Move forward with us!




Sunday, June 2, 2013

30 days to happy

It has been a while since I posted. I've been busy being "bad". Whenever people write me about their fitness journeys, they always say things like, "I've been bad this week." I hear it and read it so much that I've started using it myself. The short version of the story the past couple weeks is that my knee continued hurting, I stopped running, I got busy and I started eating poorly. I even binged a couple days. It's the first time throughout this whole process that I really felt like, I've been bad. 

But I can't believe I let myself fall into that mentality. It's the bad feeling that really catapults you into continued "bad" decisions. I know this is true, but I just let my attitude shift to negative anyway. Bad quickly shifted to sad which shifted to unhappy. This complete change in attitude happened in two short weeks. I went from feeling like I had the best life ever to feeling completely hopeless. All I know for certain is that I'm not staying here in this awful mindset. I've got too many things I want to accomplish and too many goals I need to meet.

Realizing that my knee was not going to let me run a half-marathon next weekend, I changed to the 10K. By golly, if I have to walk it, I'll finish it. My friend reminded me that it wasn't me that couldn't run the half...it was my body. There will be other runs. I need to let go and move on. This is not the end.

So, I'm ready to kickstart what it sure to be another great summer. I've got a challenge for myself and a challenge for you. I'm calling it, "30 Days to Happy".  Being happy isn't a right or happenstance. If you're not content, change something.

"Don't let a bad day make you think you have a bad life."

Several of my friends are spending a month focusing on their own start to healthy lifestyles. They're all doing different things and changing their lives in different ways to reach their goals. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to reevaluate my journey and reestablish some really great trends in my life this past year. I'm going back to basics.

Things I won't do the next 30 days:

-Eat out
-Drink anything other than water
-Go to bed sad
-Skip a workout
-Dwell on mistakes
-Sleep less than six hours a night

Things I will do in the next 30 days:

-Run
-Take Hip-Hop classes
-Lay by the pool
-Meet a goal everyday
-Eat as little processed food as possible
-Plan a vacation
-Find new and exciting things to do

I'm going to share this journey here, but mostly I'm interested in what you all are going to do the next 30 days to find your happy again. Since I started posting about my struggles and triumphs, people have really opened up to me about their own problems and their own victories. I have found that so encouraging. I would love to not only hear your stories, but share them. I've got one friend starting a juice diet with her fiance and one who's trying out Advocare. I'll share the types of things I'm eating and what sort of exercises I'm rocking. I also hope to just share all the awesome things I want to do to step outside my comfort zone over the next 30 days.

What will you do to find your happy? Maybe it's not fitness or diet related. I like to stress that because although that's what I need to focus on, that isn't the case for everyone. Want to join my team here and take on this challenge with me?  It's time to get your happy back! We could all use the support...and just a little more happy.

E-mail me at K.Denison87@Gmail.com if you want to be a part of this. Let's do this together!


Friday, May 17, 2013

I'm baaaaack...kind of

On Tuesday I did a mile run to test my knee. I wore a knee brace and made it through the mile without any knee issues. In fact, my knee felt better after the run before I started it. I'm not sure how that worked out, but I wasn't going to complain.

Yesterday, I decided to get in four miles. The heat, asthma, allergies, and the flaring knee issue made for one of my most miserable runs yet. I actually didn't even notice my knee was bothering me until the last half hour. I think it had been the whole time though. I was just focused on my breathing and not throwing up.  I ran with water yesterday, and I was so irritated by it mid-run that I set it down to retrieve later.

I'm taking a legitimate rest day today. No lifting, no cross-training, nothing. I'm hoping that my knee feels well enough in the morning for me to attempt my 11 miles. On some level, it did feel good to get back into it. I sort of enjoyed my week off while my knee healed, but I don't want to spend another week that way.