"I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself." -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thing #60: Halloween Costumes

Let me begin this by saying that I am NOT a Halloween person. Perhaps in my childhood, I was more inclined to dress up, but I have rarely obsessed over the details of a costume after the 14-year-old trick-or-treating cut-off. I can think of maybe three costumes I've worn in these past 11 years - half of good and evil (I was evil), a rabbit, and a rainbow marshmallow from Lucky Charms.

Still, I think costumes are SO cool.

Yesterday, we all ran the Wicked 10K at the beach. It was hilarious. There are so many creative people out there, from the Adams Family to "Ghoul Runnings" to a centaur; the whole thing was just entertaining. I couldn't believe what some people were willing to run 6 miles in. It's nice to see a lighter side of people, too. It's difficult to be too serious when people all around you are dressed up like cartoon characters, cross dressers, and humorous renditions of serious things.

This year, we were the Lucky Charms, and it was amusing. It was pretty simple, but definitely worth it.
I mean, check us out. How could you not get a little chuckle from it? I am incredibly impressed, however, by the amount of time it must take to create more elaborate costumes, because these took many, many hours in their simplicity.

Moral of the story: I am amused and anxiously awaiting true inspiration for next year's Wicked 10K...


Thing #59: Uplifting Songs

As usual, I am exhausted. I wonder frequently how mothers of young children manage - especially teacher mothers who work - to grade papers, plan sweet lessons, and raise relatively well-adapted children. It is a mystery to me, but I suppose I will one day learn that the secret is merely severe sleep deprivation. And this of course, is all one major tangent to my real point for this entry. On my way home from my second church committee meeting this week, I realized that I needed some uplifting music. On my iPod, "Dream Big" was still pulled up from my previous night's drive home. This song served great uplifting work yesterday.

"When you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
and it will help you feel okay.
And when you pray, pray for strength for when the troubles come your way.
And when you dream, dream big, as big as the ocean blue,
because when you dream, it might come true.
So when you dream, dream big."

I listened to this song again tonight, and it was still a lovely reminder that I need to smile and keep on moving. I mean, my life is easy compared with most, so who am I to complain? (Side Note: This song is also a ringtone on my phone, which has coincidentally been set as my morning alarm. This means I rarely actually listen to the words before shutting it off.)

Then, I needed more mmmph in a song, so I found my favorite song sung by Wynona Judd - "I Will Testify to Love." Now, this song is straight up inspirational.

"For as long as I will live, I will testify to love.
I'll be a witness in the darkness when words are not enough.
With every breath I take, I will give thanks to God above,
For as long as I shall live, I will testify to love."

This really made me think, "Am I actually testifying to love?" The answer is, "No." Still, I sang REALLY loudly and did a little praisin' in my car. I realized that I need to chill on out and not get so uptight. My goal is to testify to love, to be patient every day with my job and coworkers and students, to love the God in everyone.

Today, I'm not only "happy about" these songs, I'm grateful that they were on my iPod to give me some direction and clarity about my foul approach to stress. Really, it'll all get done. I have no earthly idea when, and some papers might be mysteriously "lost," but it WILL be okay as long as I smile, pray, dream big, and testify to love.

Thanks, music.


Thing #58: Pushing myself

I make a lot of compromises with myself. "If I eat well today, I can have those fries tomorrow." "If I run four more minutes, I can walk the next two." "If I grade three papers, I can check Facebook." These kind of "compromises" also tend to compromise whatever goal it is I am actually trying to accomplish. I often start with a more distant aim and fall short as a result on my internal negotiations.

Today, I didn't make the compromise. I ran hard (for me). I finished the 5K in 30 minutes (one mile I ran in 9:17 - say what?!?), which I haven't done in months. I even walked for a minute (to get water and ensure I didn't get a sloshy stomach after said water). Still, it feel fantastic to have made myself work hard and sweat. I know that my body can take a little pressure. I even ran more after the 5K, finishing my four miles in just over 40 minutes. This seems pretty pathetic when I write it out, but for me, it's proof that I can make myself distant goals and stick to them.

I feel great. Yay.


Thing #57: Boots

I love shoes. I have many, many pairs. Still, I love when I get new shoes that are both comfortable and stylish. I have recently acquired many pairs of new shoes, and I am looking forward to wearing them throughout fall and into winter. Outfit and shoe combinations swim in my mind; I am stimulated.

One of these pairs of new shoes is a delightful pair of suede of boots. Ah, these shoes are glorious. I wore them to school with a skirt and then over my jeans to the football game. They are soft, and they leave ample room for my legs to breathe. The best part, however, of any pair of boots is that they can be worn with socks. Socks keep perpetually cold feet like mine warm. It is a miracle of fashion that such flat, practical boots have been in style now for several winters running. I find myself wearing boots 3 to 4 days out of 7, and I feel comfortable. Most importantly, I am warmer than I would be in heels or flats that required pantyhose or - worst of all - bare feet. And, more importantly, they do not - nor will they ever - require that I have a pedicure (like my other favorite form of footwear - the flip flop). Ahhhhh...

Ah, fall. Thank you for allowing me to wear such loveliness on my feet. I see scarves on the horizon as well...oh glorious, glorious cooler weather.


Thing #56: Slow Mornings

Usually, I wake up between 5:15 and 5:30, get in the shower, get out, get dressed, put on some makeup, grab a bagel and my coffee, and head out the door no later than 6:15. In a half-waking state, it's easy for this routine to get a little slowed down. I feel rushed; I never see the paper; I drink my coffee from a to-go mug.

Today, I have a meeting that begins at 8, which means I can leave here at 7:15. This is glorious. I woke up a little after 6, puttered around on the computer, showered, got dressed, and still had time to make coffee and eat a bowl of cereal with the morning news. And I'm drinking my coffee from a real mug. It's always best this way. I like feeling like I've had time to wake up before I head to a day of work. It's refreshing.

If only...