May 26, 2013

Half Way Happiness in The Yard.

 I know you are looking at the picture and wondering what on earth this picture has to do with my half way happiness in the yard so let me explain in two words... unfinished projects. So they are started which makes me happy but not finished which equals partial/halfway happiness :) Let me tell you about it.

First notice the bricks. It has taken me a year to have enough luck to get bricks off of Craigslist. Every time I called on bricks they were gone. But not this time. I was so excited to get them that I simply had to lay them out to see if I had enough to reach across the garden. To finish this project I need ten bags of paving sand and to figure out a way to justify purchasing a twenty five dollar tamper. And then I am going to have to find more bricks to make the pathway going the other way across the middle. But it will be exciting when I have my four defined beds. Utopia would be six defined beds but I am not going to push my luck :)

Second, I am sure you could not help notice the plops of dirt. Yeah, my lawn and I are constantly working on our relationship. The first thing that had to be done was I had to get rid of the crabgrass. After that was gone I was left with huge adorable plain brown spots all over my yard. Then I ordered my topsoil and started wheelbarrow-ing it all around. Now I am in the middle of spreading out the plops and getting them ready for grass seed. I have been doing this process all over my lawn in the front, the back and the sides and slowly but surely I am getting a nice lawn. Did I mention slowly? With lots of interruptions?

See the red box in the back corner? The minute we got chickens I knew I needed a compost bin. The husband obliged but I think when he built it he forgot how small...ahem, short I am. It is so hard for me to reach into this compost bin and stir things around. I love the idea of composting and I have read and read and read about it. Probably too much reading has been done on the subject because I am spending too much time wondering if I have the perfect balance of green compost and brown compost. I am hoping if I am patient that one day I will wake up and have perfect dark brown compost.

Speaking of waking up the first thing I do every morning as soon as I get home from driving Joe to seminary and school is I head out into the yard and wander. I love seeing if any new flowers are up and flowering. I love seeing if my bulbs are coming up yet. It makes me so happy to see everything growing. Check out the picture of my Forget Me Nots. They are truly the best blue ever. And they are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring so they make me extra happy :) Their little flower petals are so perfectly formed how can you not love them or not forget them? :)

This is a picture of my herb garden. I love to rub my fingers on all the leaves in the herb garden and smell everything. Everything in the herb garden is a perennial and that makes me so happy because that means they should all come back every year...chives, sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme,oregano and mint are the current herb garden residents. I was thrilled to discover this year that my cilantro even came back. Sometimes I am not sure if an herb can survive the winter here in zone five or not so it thrills me when I see it again in the spring.

It is not all happiness, part way happiness, and perfection in yard work world. Sometimes I discover on my morning "state of the yard" walk that some animal has munched on something it should not have or there are bugs on something or weeds have seemingly appeared over night. But the satisfying moments far outweigh the other moments :)

May 24, 2013

The Truth About The Dandelion Run.

Every May there is a Dandelion Run clear up at the tippy top of Vermont in a little town called Derby. It was January of 2012 when I discovered this run.

 I was looking for a run that would be breathtakingly pretty. (who wants to run through city streets?)
 A run that was on a Saturday.
 A 10K.
 A run that was not to expensive.
 And a run that was unique.

 The Dandelion Run easily met all my requirements. The first year I ran it I spent time preparing....not perfect preparing but I did make sure I ran a few days during the week in the 12 weeks leading up to the run. I must confess that by the time the run came I had yet to actually run six miles. I was a little afraid how it would all go down because of this fact. But I did it. Which for Jennifer means I ran the whole way without stopping. I did not run swiftly I did not run prettily but I ran. I even felt like I could have run faster at some points which was heartening. I ran right behind my friend Gail the whole way and did not realize until this years Dandelion Run that that was a pretty helpful thing.

This year I am not sure why but I was not as motivated to prepare for this run as I was last year. I even went back and forth in my mind about actually doing the run. But I realized that I need this run and it needs me. This run proves to me every year that I can overcome. In my mind as I pass each sign that marks which mile I am on I find myself thinking in my mind..."take that mean people." Yeah, crazy I know but I have discovered that pretty much everyone who runs has a reason and my run is always dedicated to mean people who think they know you and understand your intentions and love love love to judge you. It is fascinating to me to think as I am running along that something happened in most of these runners lives that pushed them towards running so that they could figure out how to defeat demons of one kind or another.

The first year I ran the Dandelion run I convinced three friends to come with me and this year I convinced six friends to go with me...Noel, Aimee, Chris, Gail, Jen Brazell, and my daughter Madeline. It was the best group of women ever. I found myself feeling so lucky and so grateful to be surrounded by these strong women who are willing to share about their joys, their struggles, what they have learned, and strengthen me and my daughter as they do. We loaded up my horrid fifteen passenger van on Friday at about 5:30 pm and spent the next 23 hours together....eating a yummy dinner...laughing about mermaids and Barbies...driving and driving together and oh, yeah running a race and so much more.

 As I looked at everyone I had brought I began to realize there was a good chance I would be running alone. I had two friends that are superstar runners and I knew they would be out front with my daughter. I had two friends who decided to sign up to be walkers this year and not runners. And I had one friend who was right in the middle. And where was I? Well I was at the very end. I am pretty sure I was the last one who actually ran the whole way to cross the finish line. There were walkers and run/walkers behind me but I think I was the last one who ran the whole way. But, honestly for me it is not about time and it is not about how pretty I am at the end it is about actually finishing...right? :)

As I started out this year I was not sure how this running a race thing would all go down. I was a little mad at myself for not being prepared better for this run. I started out with a very slow pace EVERYONE and their dog passed me. But I decided it was no big deal and I let them pass without a fight. My first obstacle was the hill in the woods. I successfully got to the top of that and then decided my next goal was to get to three miles. I knew I could get to three miles easily. Three miles is my distance of choice when I am running at home. There was a sweet little old lady about 100 yards in front of me and I just concentrated on staying close to her. I passed her once and she passed me once. I realized it is nice to have someone running along with you. Even if you do not talk to each other it is nice to have someone there. I was running alone this time and it is really no fun. We all need someone next to us to motivate us even if they are listening to their music and you are listening to yours you at least know they are there.

The whole miserable but fun (yes, miserable and fun can go together :) race I kept reminding  myself about what my dear friend Chris said about the hills and how like life they go up and struggle you get to the top and then you go down without much of a struggle and some relief and gratefulness for the break and then...ta-da... there is another hill...and in the case of the Dandelion Run...another hill and another hill and another hill....just like life. Chris tells the analogy so much better than I do but I deeply understood and the thought of it kept me plodding along.

The day was beautiful...puffy clouds, blue sky, perfect temperature, every shade of green known to man in the grass and in the trees....dandelions....shimmering lakes. So much perfection. I borrowed my daughter Tatiana's little music player for the run because I had to give Madeline her music player back now that she is back from her mission and it was fun to see what music Tatiana had on it. I had a glorious mix of Disney and Christina Perri and Taylor Swift....nothing like running to the Circle of Life from Lion King :)

When you end this race there is a beautiful lake right in front of you with a gorgeous lawn and some beach. The Dandelion Run organizers feed you a fabulous lunch....hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill....salads....and a luscious smoothie. My friends who have run all sorts of assorted races assured me that the serving of free food in such bounty and yummy-ness is an unusual and delightful practice. After the race we always cavort in the dandelions and try to figure out where the half marathon actually goes.

So that is the truth about the Dandelion Run lest you have some picture in your mind that I smoothly and merrily run it without nary a glitch singins along to my music and looking like a superstar. let me give you the real picture...pig tails in my cheeks...frizzies in my hair...extra weight around my tummy...and not one drop of being prepared in sight. I am determined to do better next year. I need to run six miles in an hour and not an hour and twenty minutes so I can be happy :) Can you imagine what I could actually do if I was really prepared for this race? :) I would probably win :)

May 19, 2013

Journey's, Friends, and Lord of The Rings.

A few weeks ago Tatiana, Natalie, and I read seven chapters straight in The Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, seven. It was a little bit glorious :) You know that feeling when you have immersed yourself in reading something and no matter what you are doing throughout the day it is always in the back of your mind? And you feel like you are still in that world even though you are not reading? Yeah, I have Middle earth on the brain in the worst way :)

The thing I have been musing about the most is how Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam are on this journey with the ring and how each time they have a struggle someone is there to help them.

Someone to give them food.
Someone to give them a warm bed and a bath.
Someone to share stories.
Someone to give information
Someone to teach the hobbits something new.
Someone to redirect them to the main road.
Someone to save them from impending death....time after time...after time
And most importantly someone to raise their spirits.

Remember when Old Man Willow eats all of Pippin and half of Merry? Sam and Frodo are doing all they can to rescue them when suddenly there is Tom Bombadil and ever so quickly Tom tells Old Man Willow what is what and is able to retrieve Pippin and Merry who now have a really great dinner party story :) Tom is a friendly, cheerful fellow who has taken an immense amount of time to understand all the lives in the forest thus enabling him to be master of them in a gentle, kind way. He leads the hobbits to his home and feeds them, gives them a place to sleep, lets them ask him questions and answers what he can. And then after they have left him and get into some serious trouble further down the road he comes again quickly, cheerfully, and willingly to help them yet again. No eye rolling. No scolding. Just a calm, matter of fact understanding that hey, these things happen....yes, sometimes twice and sometimes three times and it is okay :) I admire that a ton.

There are elves who happen to unknowingly? scare away a snooping black rider at the perfect moment. Elves who have the power of healing. Elves who are oh so wise and understand where everything fits and how everything must be done. Elves who have fast horses. Elves who are perfect in every way :)

There is Strider AKA Aragorn who appears just when the hobbits desperately need a guide and a protector. By the time Strider arrives in their journey their experiences are finally starting to change their views of the world around them and they, at first, are all very suspicious of Strider but the suspicion quickly melts away.

I can not help but know that there are definitely times when Elrond, Aragorn, Gandalf and others are more than frustrated with those Hobbits. They do love to eat. They do love to take rests. They do love to have a good time and talk a little to much about their personal lives while they are at the Prancing Pony. Even I myself feel the need to say something when Frodo keeps slipping on that ring at the wrong times. But then I remind myself I am not carrying the ring and can not begin to understand how strong that power must be :)

These books are so full of people trying to decide when to start on journeys and which path to take and the caring, willing to sacrifice for a cause friends that they take with them and make along the you feel an analogy coming on? RUN :)

No, I do not have a ring that needs to be thrown back into the fire where it was made from but I am obviously on a journey....yes, you are too :) I definitely feel a kinship with the hobbits. I would rather be having a good meal, working in my garden, staying someplace safe, or writing or reading a book. But since I have to be on a journey I am ever so grateful for the Gandalf's, dwarves, elves, Aragorn's, and Hobbit buddies that have been on my road so far. I truly started my journey looking at the world with Hobbit eyes. By that I think I mean naive eyes. Not understanding what people around me are actually capable of. You tend to assume everyone thinks and sees the way you do :) When all is said and done I am grateful for true friends who have been there to give me food, to direct me back to the road, to teach me something new. Friends that like Gandalf stand between me and danger holding their staff and sternly declaring "You shall not pass."  I do wish that all my learning was being learned while I was wearing a cloak and tromping across breathtaking middle earth with my peeps.

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

May 8, 2013

It Is What It Is? Are You Sure?

So, it was last spring while I was working on the logistics of a pioneer trek when I first became acquainted with the phrase, "It is what it is." In the beginning I did not give it too much notice. Whenever something would not go as planned with the logistics of the trek someone almost always was there to say with a sigh, "It is what it is." The phrase caught my attention right away. I had never heard it before. Pretty soon it felt like I was surrounded by this maddening phrase. It seemed to be around every corner taunting me. I never liked it and I confess I can not imagine I ever will. Yes, it is very possible I am one of "those people"... those who are determined that no matter what it is it definitely is not what it is. Yeah, I am sure this is not healthy. I thought once trek was over I would not hear the phrase anymore but imagine my amazement when people I know I had known for years started randomly saying it. I had never noticed that so many people said this phrase. It seemed to apply to every word that came out of my mouth and every experience I seemed to be having. It was everyone's answer to me. Anytime I would try to figure something out, or fix something, or try to make something right I was haunted by the words "It is what it is." Is it true? Is there a point where it really is what it is? It feels like giving up to me to say that. Sigh, I fear this means I am not a let it go kind of girl and this is not good news. I wonder who started this rumor that "It is what it is" ?

Uh oh I am wondering and you know what that means...yep, I just googled "It is what it is" and I have to tell you what I learned. First of all this phrase was voted by USA Today as the number one cliche in 2004. It is a very popular phrase within circles of coaches and business execs. I am neither..just FYI :)

If you happen to find yourself saying it the thing you really want to be saying is something along the lines of... it happened and I am going to forget about it and I am going to move on.It is a phrase that seems to simply state the obvious but actually implies helplessness. Yeah, I had to read that last part a few times too :) Try this one, direct from Wikipedia ...brace yourself..."it is a phrase that indicates the unchangeable nature of an object or circumstance." WHAT? Is there really a point when something can not be changed? Why does that make me sad...okay, and a little crazy? :) It makes me feel determined which should not be an overly cozy thought for anyone around me :)

I was pleasantly surprised to find a link to a song with this phrase as it's title by one of my favorite groups, Lifehouse, I attempted to post a link to it so hopefully it works. I hated that it sounded like they were giving up in the song but even as I write that I find a teeny tiny spot deep inside my little soul that tells me there must be some situations where you finally have to admit defeat and say "It is what it is" and there is nothing more I can do so maybe there is hope for me after all.

 It is what it is by Lifehouse

 When I hear the words, "It is what it is" I feel so sad and so hopeless. They are very hard words for me to accept. Are you sure there is nothing I can do? Nothing that can change? Nothing that can make things better? Maybe it is time for me to stop fighting and just accept that "It is what it is" :)