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What Happened When I Quit the Like Button

About a month and a half ago, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook written by a woman who stopped using the “Like” button on social media. I found it to be an interesting idea, especially since I was growing weary of Facebook.

I’d contemplated deleting my account, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it–what about all my connections! I didn’t want to lose touch with people. And yet–I was hardly connecting. And that was what I’d grown weary of.

I’m also a marketer by trade–a professional communicator, if you will–and you can’t just up and walk away from Facebook when you’re in the business of marketing.

Still, my feed was full of pointless videos and quizzes (oh, the quizzes!) and advertisements. I felt like I had to scroll through miles of sludge to find the stuff that actually mattered to me. But after reading the article, I wondered … what if I took back the reigns of my feed? How would it change my experience? Continue reading →

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To Be a Mother

It was late, and dark, and I was tired. But I held her nonetheless and rocked her back and forth in a chair that squeaked every time I moved. Every so often she would surrender to sleep, only to wake minutes later with a shudder as her body heaved and coughed, trying desperately to root out the infection deep inside. Monitors beeped and tubes trailed from her tiny body, making it difficult to cradle her the way I really wanted to, but I held her as close as I could, in the corner of a sterile hospital room, as the moon rose high.

She wasn’t mine—that baby in my arms. And I am not a mother. I have never watched my belly grow round with life. I have never felt the rush of that first movement from within. I have never pushed my body beyond my presumed limits to birth another human being. I have never felt the immediate instinct that binds a woman to her child as he is placed upon her chest for the very first time.

And if I am being honest, those are the things I want most, second only to finding a love with whom to experience them—so much so, that there are nights when I will place a pillow under my shirt and imagine what that roundness feels like.

Her mother, an old friend and severely sick herself, had called earlier in the day. Would you please go hold my baby for me? she asked. She had three other children at home who desperately needed “mother time,” not to mention she needed rest, and little Lissy had just been released from the NICU.

There was no need to think. Of course I would go hold her baby. There was no work meeting, no appointment, no previous commitment more important than driving straight to the hospital to stay with my friend’s baby, all night in the squeaky rocking chair, if need be.

At one point, I looked down at her soft, round face and traced her nose with the tip of my finger. Her teary doe-eyes looked back at me, whispering volumes of wisdom beyond her few short months. And a distant memory came to mind. I was five and had fallen and scraped my knee. My first impulse was to call for my mother. She came running out of the house, scooped me up off the driveway and carried me inside, where she sat me on the kitchen counter and reached for a wet cloth and band-aid.

Suddenly, holding Lissy, I found myself more grateful for my life than I’d been in months. No, I had no family of my own to care for, no husband to be home with, no children to tuck into bed, but because of that, I could easily and immediately go to the hospital when I was needed most.

And I understood—though I may not have birthed a child myself, this is what it is to be a mother: to come when you are called—as soon as you are called, to wrap your arms around another person, and to cradle them with love–all night if necessary.

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Now Seeking: Full-time Personal Hype Girl

Frit and I have watched these videos a couple times now during the last week.

And besides the fact that I’m particularly determined to birth a house full of girls just. like. this. I have also decided that I would like a personal hype-girl. Like, a full-time personal hype-girl. Wouldn’t that be totally awesome? Someone to just follow you around, giving you the confidence you need to be you and do those things that you really want to do?

The thing is … I realized this week that I have hype-peeps all around me. Ever since I announced my magazine launch I’ve begun receiving emails and comments and phone calls and text messages at exactly the right moment to keep me going. I’ve heard from people I haven’t heard from in years!-offering ideas and help or just simple support and encouragement.

And I can see that these things, these miraculous moments of “hype,” are full of providence and grace.

But this idea of “hype” is something I’ve actually been thinking about for a while. Although maybe not in that exact term.

Earlier this year I was talking with a friend about being a “champion” for the people around us.

champion noun \ˈcham-pē-ən\ 1: warrior, fighter 2: a militant advocate or defender 3: one that does battle for another’s rights or honor

And I think that in my obituary someday, I would like it to mention (among the other good deeds and charming particularities I was known for, of course) that I was just that–a champion for those around me.

That I cheered people on. That I encouraged. That I reinforced. That I complimented. That I was, in essence, a hype-girl to every person I met.

I think sometimes we’re so quick to come up with reasons why people shouldn’t do things, or why such-and-such won’t work, or why so-and-so would never be able to do whatever it is he/she has conjured up. But how different the world might be if we simply beamed with belief that they can, and should, do what it is they want to do, no matter how seemingly impossible. How many  more goals might be accomplished, businesses started, inventions invented, oceans crossed, and dreams realized, if we said, “That is awesome! How can I help you?!” instead of “Are you sure?”

So. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to offer my services. As your personal hype-girl. I believe in you (wherever you are). I really do. And I know you can.

Whatever it is. I know you can.

And … you know … If anyone is interested in becoming my full-time hype-girl, I’ll be accepting applications via email.

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Back

I was home in Utah for about ten days. It was heaven being back with with my Frit. I miss her so much when I’m away.

There’s an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Cristina says to Meredith, “Mer, why do you care what I think?” And Meredith looks at her and says, “Because. You’re my person.”

In another episode Cristina, speaking of Meredith, says, “She’s my person. If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor. … She’s my person.”

I get that.

I totally get that.

Cuz Frit’s my person.

She has my back. Always.

And I have hers.

Always.

And I hate being away from her.

So. Leaving sucked.

But there are still some things for me here on the Island.

Still some things I need to figure out.

Still some things I need to unearth.

Still some things I need to dedicate myself to.

And so I’m back.

For Part II of my Island Summer.

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She’s a Runner

My friend Laurel and I met up for breakfast yesterday morning. I love morning in the city. It’s one of the things I do miss about my old job–riding the train in, my newspaper tucked under my arm, the crisp mountain air and golden light spilling over the skyline, shops and food trucks opening up for a new day of business. Yes. A waking city is an invigorating place to be.

We sat on the sidewalk at an umbrella’ed table and reveled in the wholly spiritual experience of Bruge’s Liege waffles with creme fraiche, strawberries, and drizzled Belgian chocolate. We talked–catching up on lives, crying some, and laughing more. Tiny little birds jumped around, fluttering here and there–from the table to the chairs, then onto the sidewalk and back to the chairs, only to repeat their path again and again–jumping for joy at the promise of a new day.

After filling our bellies with wonder I pointed her toward the park across the street. “I’m taking your picture today. You need a better picture than the one you took with your cell phone in the bathroom mirror.”

I wanted to give her proof of exactly who she is becoming. See, Laurel is running her first half marathon in three weeks. And in the process, she is changing her body, and her mind. I guess you could say they are just catching up with her spirit.

When I look at these pictures, I see a woman who is sure. A woman who is fierce. A woman who is confident. A woman who is beautiful. A woman who is believing.

But above all else, I see a woman who is a finisher.

To read about her becoming and to cheer her on, click here.

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FranSISco! That’s Fun to Say!

It was Tuesday morning. I hadn’t gotten out of bed yet. My phone buzzed on top of the old milk crate reincarnated as a bedside table.  The tiny florescent screen read: Q! I have a crazy idea! …

A few texts later, it was decided–I would be flying to San Fransisco that weekend for a 24-hour whirlwind of adventure, fun, and memories.

Saturday morning I tipped my hat to the frigid desert and within one hour landed smack dab in middle of the warm, golden Bay. Invigorated by the bustle of city life and sunshine, we mazed through traffic and trolleys and found ourselves in a line a block long for what promised to be the most delicious brunch I’d had in my life. “Delicious” didn’t even come close.

We started with cake. Yes, cake. With frosting divine. And from there, moved on to banana bread masquerading as french toast and jam-slathered sandwiches. How had I never eaten a Monte Cristo before now?, I kept asking myself. If I was on death row, I decided, a Monte Cristo is what I would eat for my final meal. My mouth was so happy it cried.

We left the cafe with stomachs as round and happy as the yellow ball in the sky. The beautiful thing about a city of never-ending hills and horrible parking options is that you can eat like that and think nothing of it. And we didn’t. The only thing to think about was what to do next.

The wharf? The shopping district? We’d both been there, done that and wanted something new. Within ten minutes we were northbound headed for a sleepy beach off the coastal highway. Sunroof open, the heat poured in and the wind rushed past. The rolling hills and sweeping fields filled me to the brim with green.

Two hours later we were standing on the sand staring into the fog, the wicked ocean air whipping past our faces and through our hair with exfoliating fury. Waves crashed, culling the sandy shore and building it back up again. We laughed and breathed, filling our lungs with the salty sea–a preservative for the soul. All too soon, it was time to return. The city was calling–promising a glittery night of music and lights.

But not before we stopped again for food. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now. I love dining. I love the linens and the silver. I love the sound of clinking glass and the hum of conversation that rises above the tables, wafting through the room like the scent of herbs from the kitchen. I love the total body nourishment of sharing a meal with a friend. Food, quite complexly, is good for the heart.

We arrived at the hotel with no time to spare–silk and sequins spilling out from our suitcases. A quick turn in the mirror and we were ready to go. We floated down twenty-two floors to the lobby, through the glass doors held open by a suited doorman, and into a shiny black taxi with the softest leather seats.

Twenty minutes later we were sitting high in velvet chairs as the lights dimmed and the conductor took the stage. A handsome French cellist pulled his bow across a 300-year-old instrument–the sound, rich and full, lifted, seeking, filling the darkest corners of the hall. It was stunning. He was stunning.

The second act, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, was exactly that–fantastique. I was awed at the music and couldn’t help but wonder at how the symphony moved. It was a visual feast as much as it was auditory. Each instrument its own entity, but collectively they became this living organism. The bows of the strings, the mallets of the timpani, the sliding arms of the trombones–it was as if, with every note, they were a lung breathing air, and in the process, pushing oxygen into us. By the end of the fifth movement the aliveness of the audience was palpable and at the last note it erupted like a volcano into applause and bravos. Five curtain calls later, we were still clapping.

As we left the gilded glass hall, the night air was brisk and busy, filled with the stars of the city–headlights, traffic lights, and sparkling skyscrapers. We hailed a taxi–a first for me, and an exciting one at that–and our driver dropped us off on a corner in Union Square where we ordered desserts to go and walked back to our hotel. Heels off and nylons strewn, I slowly lifted fork to mouth, savoring every sweet crumb of the mango key-lime dream I held in front of me as I sank into a cloud of a bed.

“I want this day to be a vacation for the senses,” I’d told her earlier that morning. “I want to see beautiful things, and taste beautiful things. I want to hear, touch and smell beauty.” I’d no idea how the day would deliver. And deliver it did. Every molecule of every minute was filled with gorgeous life. And as I balanced on the precipice of a new day, I found myself happy. So very happy. And so very very full.

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#reverb10: friendship

Day 16 of #Reverb10 // Martha Mihalick (editor) asks // How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

Don’t take one thing for granted.

Adore your husband and children.

Make a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch every week.

Marry a man who “doesn’t bug” you.

Wear hats.

Sit in the sun for a few minutes every day.

Laugh often.

Smile always.

Romantic comedies are always the best choice.

It’s okay to cry, even when you’ve got to be tough.

Call your friends, even the ones you haven’t spoken to in years.

Live with grace, always.

Take lots of pictures.

Send notes.

Wear pajamas to the movie theater.

Having faith doesn’t mean it will always turn out how you hope right now, but that it will all be right in the end.

The end isn’t really the end.

Catie, the first friend I met in the dorms my freshman year of college, passed away this past February after a battle with cancer. She was 30. The disease was painful and the fight was long. And though it was hard, Catie held her kind and gentle grace (with a side of wit and humor). She is survived by her husband and three small children.

Her life, and her death, changed me. I will never forget watching the red Tennessee dirt crumbling over her casket. We stood, huddled and trembling, shuddering from the cold–and the loss–tears streaming, eyes burning, missing our friend. But knowing. We will see her again.

More about Catie …

To leave your thoughts, simply scroll down. To read more #reverb10 posts, click here.

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Farewell to Summer: Our Latest Dinner Party

It all began with an email that read:

Sept. 9, 2010

Dearest Cookie (a.k.a. Frit),
Did you realize that the last day of Summer is this month? Well, it is. The 21st of September to be exact. And so I propose … a dress up dinner party hostessed by toi et moi (that’s “you and me” in French. I learned that the other day when I was watching my French subtitled movie from Netflix On Demand). A “Farewell to Summer” dinner party if you will.
What do you think? Invite 4 ladies, dresses required, and fancy to boot?
Fondly,
Kristafer

The reply to which, was:

Dear Cookie. Stop.
Though I am saddened to hear that summer will be departing, I think a dinner party in honor of the warm days is a splendid idea.
Sincerely. Cordially. And affectionately.
Frit
And so. A guest list was finalized, a plan was outlined, and invitations were mailed.
(Sidenote: I illustrated the banner on our invitations which you are free to download here if you would like use it in the future. Simply paste into a Word document or other editing program, type in your party info, and print. *Remember–it’s for personal use only. Please do not sell my illustration or anything made from my illustration. Stealing makes me sad.)
.
When the twenty-first arrived, I was beside myself with anticipation and began the day busily making final preparations … ironing the linens, polishing the silverware, gathering supplies for the centerpieces, preparing an assortment of foods. But when I went to hang the bistro lights on the patio outside, I found the bees were out in full force and I knew there was no way we would enjoy a relaxing dinner with all the buzzing in our backyard. I could foresee the swatting and cowering with a final mad dash back into the house, plates in hand, my lovely table abandoned.
.
And that, my friends, is why you must always have a Plan B when hostessing a party.
.
I moved the party inside and while the decor wasn’t what I’d originally envisioned (that is, buntings and lights hanging from the trellis to match the invitations I’d drawn) it still turned out perfectly.
I used a white tablecloth as my base, with two pinky-peach runners laid across the width of the table on each end. On top of that I placed a hand-laced square overlay that I found while on a holiday in Scotland. I also arranged an assortment of glassware around the table and placed tea-lights in each.
.
For the centerpieces, I bought three bouquets from the grocer: 1 dozen peach roses, 6 stems of pink snap dragons, and a handful of yellow wildflower fillers, to divide and arrange between three vases filled with water and clear glass stones. I then wrapped each vase (2 of which were mason jars) with hemp twine and tied with a loose bow.
As for place settings, I used large white dinner plates, chartreuse linen napkins with silverware to the sides (knife and spoon on the right, fork on the left … in case you wondered), beveled glass bowls for the dinner rolls, stemmed glasses for iced water and mason jars for lemonade. It was summer casual meets simple elegance.
Place cards were printed with each person’s name and various quotes about summer including …
The summer night is like a perfection of thought.  ~Wallace Stevens
In summer, the song sings itself.  ~William Carlos Williams
A life without love is like a year without summer.  ~Swedish Proverb
Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.  ~Henry James
Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet. ~Bob Marley

On the menu we had:

Grilled Marinated Chicken
(halved chicken breasts soaked in a mixture of olive oil, sparkling cider, lemon juice, dijon mustard, and basil for 3 hours and then grilled up on the George Foreman)
Warm Garlic String Beans
(blanch 1-pound of string beans for 2 minutes. Return to a saucepan with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, 4 cloves of garlic minced, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook about 4 minutes over medium-high heat. Toss in 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest. Serve warm.)
Lemon Rice Pilaf
(prepare rice and risotto as instructed on packaging but substitute 1/4 of the water with fresh lemon juice, add herbs as desired. Sprinkle with chopped parsley when served.)
Dinner Rolls from Sego Lily Cafe in Bountiful
(the rolls are worth the drive from anywhere, but the Butternut Squash Ravioli will put you over the edge.)
with my Citrus Tart for dessert
It was a light, fresh meal–a perfect etude of summer.
In attendance we had the lovely and talented Brooke, a long-time friend who immediately came to mind when we began planning. (And just so you know, you should totally download her new CD. Tracks 3 and 6 are my faves.)
As well as the beautiful Misses Kelly and LuAnn, who drove all the way from American Fork (an hour away) to have dinner with us. Kelly was a blog reader I had never met–I drew her name from those who emailed interest in coming when I extended the invitation to all of you readers. She brought her mother LuAnn as her guest and as soon as they walked in, they felt like old friends. They own Lu Kels, a darling online boutique (speaking of…I’ve got my eye on the red 3-button cadet cap. Isn’t it fantastic?!) and were so fun to meet. It was honestly a perfect group of people.
Our dear neighbor Paula was also on the guest list but had to cancel last minute due to her twin babes being sick. This was sad news for many reasons. First, Paula is down-right hilarious and fun to have around. Second, we would have loved to give her a night away from the kids. And third, Paula is an amazing violinist and we’d asked her to bring her violin to favor us with a mini concert. But no matter, we took her a plate of deliciousness later that night and kept her at the top of the list for the next dinner party.
.
And as for the concert, we still had plenty of entertainment. Brooke and I each sang a couple of songs and that in and of itself made my whole night. Singing around the piano with friends is balm to the soul.
.
I honestly had the most wonderful evening–meeting new friends, sitting with old ones, sharing food and laughter. That’s the reason I love to hostess. Nourishment in every way. I hoped our guests knew how grateful we were that they came. And if they didn’t, we gave them a jar of homemade peach jam to remind them.
(Thank you so much Brookie, Kelly, and LuAnn. You’re all so wonderful and Frit and I had the most fantastic time with you. xoxo)
And now? I’m just scheming for the next party. Can’t wait!

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Dive Deep

It was time to leave, but I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want any of it to end. It’s not that I had forgotten what it felt like to be here, with these people. Or maybe I had. All I knew was that it felt so good to be with them again.

The hot summer wind blew down from the eastern mountains and swirled around us, coaxing us into an eddy of music and memories. I looked at Lise and our eyes met. We stayed there, held in gaze for no more than a few seconds, but a world passed between us. I rested my head on the back of my chair, wishing everyone could have been here, and let my eyes fall with one deep breath. I missed this. I missed them. And here, tonight, with the laughter and the music and the conversation–oh the conversation–I couldn’t help but dive into an ocean of sweet contentment.

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For Catie

[You and your Mary, right after a kiss]

It’s sunny today. I reminds me of that morning when we first met–you and Alison walking on the sidewalk by the dorms. And it reminds me of you. If I had to pick a color that said, “Catie,” it would be  yellow.

I’m still in my pajamas, my hair in a big knotted ball on top of my head. It reminds me of those Friday nights junior year that we’d go to the dollar theater wearing our pajama bottoms and BYU sweatshirts for the midnight movie.

[Me, Alison, You, Mandy, Emily]

Beside me sits my scrapbook from freshman year. I’ve been thumbing through it all morning. Remember the Halloween dance we went to? I went as a mom with curlers, bathrobe, and green mask on my face. Yeah the fellas were all over me, let me tell you. And you went as my baby? You had pigtails, wore an adult onesie, sucked on a pacifier and everything.

[You, Alison, Me, Kassie, Camille]

Oh and remember white trash registration night? :) Why did we do that again? And lyrcra leg fights? Mandy and Em were the champs. And then there was that time we had a Chinese party in my room. Our little group ate $80 worth of Chinese food. And afterwards we lined up the mattresses and did tumbling passes. We definitely came up with the weirdest things to do to pass the time when we were 18. It was so fun though. :) Oh! And our Christmas picture for our families:

[Top to bottom, left to right: Em, Lizzie, Me, Mand, You, Kassie, Camille, Alison]

That was also the Christmas we all put out “barf bags” just outside our dorm room doors. Remember? So we could leave each other love notes and goodies? I still have my note from you. It says: Krista, Hi! You are way too cute and always make me smile! Good luck on all your finals. You’ll do GREAT!! I’m taking you up on that visit to Hilton Head!! [heart], Catie.

Catie, did you know that you always make me smile? Even through the tears and mascara that have stained my face this morning. I’m still smiling … because I’m thinking of you. Thinking of how you were my first friend at college. Thinking of Tuesday devotionals and Tunnel Singing. Thinking of our long talks and walks to campus. Thinking of all the letters we wrote on our missions and phone calls exchanged while you were dating Steve. Thinking of your perpetual smile and beautiful face. Thinking of the freshman girl reunion we organized at your house in California. Thinking of how grateful I am that we got to visit one last time last summer. Thinking of the way our friendship, and your life, has changed me.

[Katie, Me, You (and your Mary), Em, Mand (and her Maddie). I love that we’re holding hands.]

I can’t help but think about how all of us girls were “randomly” assigned to Deseret Towers T-hall 2nd floor. And how it wasn’t really random. How we’ve all been through finals and first apartments and pans of brownies and learning Em’s dance routines in the living room and misunderstandings and boys and missions and men and marriages and babies and careers together, and now this. How could we have known at 18 what life would bring twelve years later? Would we have done anything differently? I think I would’ve tried harder to get everyone together more often. I think I would’ve said, “I love you” more.

[Our last ward prayer before Sophomore year]

I’m pretty sure you know how much we all love you. Actually, I’m certain you do. And I hope you know how much we miss you. Already. Mandy called this morning to tell me. And we cried. Sobbed together really. I could hear her little George through the phone say, “Mommy I don’t want you to cry anymore.” And we laughed, but we couldn’t stop. Neither of us said much. We just cried.

[Just one more of you and your Mary.]

Catie, I don’t really know what to say. I just want you to know. To know that those of us who knew you before the cancer, will never forget the vibrant, bright, life-filled woman you were and now get to be again. And we’ll make sure your babies know who you were. We’ll make sure they know how funny you were. We’ll make sure they know how good and kind you were to everyone. We’ll make sure they know what a great missionary you were and how much you loved Steve. And we’ll make sure they knew the little things too, like how you’d pull your eye-brows out when you were studying hard, how much you loved your momma’s red-eye gravy, and how you’d talk incessantly during movies. We’ll make sure they know that you played a mean fiddle, that you were full of life and laughter. And we’ll make sure they know how much you loved them. We’ll wrap ’em up as if they were our own and make sure. Promise.

Oh and Catie? I love you.

… I’ll be seeing you.

[You and me]

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Would You Like to Know a Truth?


This blue-tongued little munchkin is Cameron. He is one of Frit’s 5 nephews, and 1 niece, that came for a sleepover at our house last night. As we were making up skits to perform for each other (mind you it was about 11:30 p.m. at this point, 2 hours past my bedtime), Cam sat down beside me and very seriously, but with excited anticipation to share, asked, “Would you like to know a truth?” “Yes, I would,” I answered.

“OK.” he started, thrilled to impart his 10-year-old wisdom. “You are never there. You are always here.”

I sat staring at him, astounded at how relevant his “truth” was to current situations in my own life. Apparently, however, it looked as though I didn’t get it and so he continued to wax philosophical on my behalf, the little tao, explaining what it meant.

After a quick minute he stopped, looked at me, and said, “Do you want to know where I learned this truth?”

“Yes, of course I would,” I replied very seriously. As I could tell this was a very serious discussion.

“Fraggle Rock,” and he skipped off to play the native in his twin brother’s skit.

Ah yes. Fraggle Rock.

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I Am. A Woman Of Steel.

I have tried to write this post a bazillion times since Saturday. But I write and then I delete. I write and then I delete. And I’ve got nothin’! No creative way to tell you about the excruciating, exhilarating event THAT I FINISHED on Saturday. I’ve got no metaphors, no similes, no alliteration, no onomatopoeia.

All I’ve got is this:

I Am A Woman of Steel Triathlete.

Yep! That’s right. I am a triathlete. Tri … athlete. Tri … athlete. Holy crap that feels good to say! I am so. Proud. Of. Myself. I am, a TRIATHLETE.


Saturday began for Frit and I at 5 a.m. The night before we had packed the car, packed our bags, and packed our bikes. So all we had to do was throw on our suits and eat a good breakfast. It was thrilling (and frightening) to pull out of the driveway, before the dawn, knowing we were finally headed to the race we’d been training for for weeks.


On the way, we talked about what we were excited about and what we were worried about. But mostly we talked about how happy we were that we’d decided to do this (and how glad we’d be once it was over so we could have our lives back).


We arrived at the race site just after 7:00 a.m. and each of us set out to find our assigned transition spots, lay out our gear, tag our bikes, secure our timing chips to our ankles, and get a little jittery.


At 7:30 we were to be at the pool for rules and the national anthem. At 8:00 the starting alarm sounded and we were off. Well. Not really “off.” Line-up is based on self-seeding and since neither of us are professional, we were near the back–which was great in so many ways. Since we had to wait, it allowed time to calm down, relax a bit, and make some friends.


I entered the pool at 8:50 and finished the swim in just over 9 minutes. And then it was off to the bike! Miles 1 and 7 were mega hills and I struggled. I was so slow. And it was hard to keep feelings of discouragement away as people, who I knew were on their second lap, passed me. But I kept peddling. It was all I could do, and I just tried to remember that I didn’t care how fast I was–I was only in this to finish. After an hour and twenty-five minutes, the 12.4 mile bike ride was behind me. I was tired and my legs felt like burning, rubbery, lead noodles.


Frit was waiting for me at my second transition. She had just finished the race and I was so proud of her (SO proud) but I was bugged (REALLY bugged) with myself for being so slow. She tried to encourage and cheer me on, but I was in no mood. I started toward the route start (read “stomped” toward the route start) and saw she was following me, ready to run the run again, beside me. She has a habit of doing this as some of you know. But, like I said, I was in a mood–a bugged, mad at myself, let-me-throw-myself-a-pity-party-by-myself mood. So I told her to go away (even though I was really grateful she was there). Sometimes I’m a brat like that and luckily she knows me well enough–she stayed. (Frit, thanks for always staying. I love you with all my heart.)

Now, if any of you have ever done a triathlon you can attest to the fact that the transition from bike to run is brutal. BRUtal. And the entirety of the run’s first mile was uphill. I tried to make my legs go, but I could barely get my feet high enough to clear the pavement. They would not go. And so I walked. Slowly. I was so tired and annoyed with myself and mad at my legs. And even though I thought I had cried all my tears out on the bike, I broke down as we neared the top of the hill. I mean really broke down. A sobbing, snotting, can’t-catch-my-breath breakdown. I looked at Frit and with all honesty and certainty told her, “I don’t think I can finish this. I really don’t think I can do it.” (Even now, typing that makes me tear up at the memory of how I felt at that moment.) I really didn’t think I could take one more step. And she looked at me, and with all honesty and certainty said, “Yes. You can.”

At this point, I was pretty sure I was in last place. Which sucked. I mean, my only two goals going into this were to 1) finish and 2) not be last. But somewhere in the middle of mile 2 Frit turned around and noticed a couple women walking behind me. This helped me pick up the pace just a bit–I didn’t want them to gain on me. And in picking it up, I ended up passing the woman in front of me too.

By mile 3 my legs had un-noodled, lightened a bit and I was running! We were SO close to the finish line and I felt so good. So tired. But proud and grateful and overwhelmed. At the last turn I saw a familiar blonde waiting with her two boys. She saw me at the same moment and screamed my name, jumped and cheered, and I lost it. I hadn’t known she was coming and there couldn’t have been a better surprise. She and her boys fell into line beside us and the five of us ran toward the finish together. As I entered the “grandstand” area, they all fell back as I took those final steps alone. Time seemed to slow.

If I close my eyes, I can still hear, in the far corner of my mind, the announcer at the microphone, “Here she is! Number 143! Let’s cheer her in everyone! Way to go #143! You did it!” The colors and faces are a blur, but I can hear their cheering, their clapping, their yelling, their encouraging. And there it was, three final steps and I was done. #143. Two hours and 29 minutes.

On the other side of the finish line a fellow-racer (a complete stranger!) wrapped her arms around me as I sobbed with relief, accomplishment, weariness, joy and pride. “You did it. You. Are. Amazing. You did it.” she kept saying over and over. And then there was Frit. Smiling and laughing and proud. Ready to squish any air I had left in me, out. I highly recommend that everyone find a best friend.


The rest of the day I was reeling. Who am I kidding?! I’m still reeling! I am a triathlete! A finisher! A Woman of Steel.

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