Real thankful.

There are moments in a person's life when a milestone occurs and you take note.  You find that you are grateful for the seemingly small, yet realistically big things.  Often I feel gratitude for God's many blessings for me: my life is so full of amazing people that I am lucky to know and interact with regularly.  Sometimes I remember His grace when I run, or bike, or swim and I think of all the people with suffering health problems that would give anything to simply run down the road for a few miles, or swim at Oz with some teammates for an hour.

Conversely, I know and feel guilty about taking my people and my life for granted at times.  We all do, it's tough to always take care of those we love the way they need to be loved.  It's hard to remember that riding a bike or competing in a race is a privilege; not an obligation and to always be happy to do it, or else choose not to.

Lately, I have thought a lot about feeling gratitude and being genuine in such an easily superficial and superfluous culture.  Maybe it seems like the two attitudes are not really related, but to me they certainly are.
As I have shared in previous posts, my only child is on her first adventure away from her home.  This has been a hard transition for us, but she is making me proud and chasing down some goals.  So that makes it all worth being grateful for, because this is what she needs right now.  During Lyara's stay in Florida, I have sent her boxes of gifts, "stuff" that has hopefully reminded her of home and the love here.  Last week, I received a gift in the mail from Lyara.  What?  Bam! A new milestone...Lyara has, for the first time, given me a gift that SHE earned the money for, chose personally and was seriously excited to give something to remind ME of HER.  Ahhhhh.  I feel ridiculously grateful.  The gift's intent is genuine.  Love, Love, Love.

According to dictionary.com,


possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real
properly so called
free from pretense, affectation, or hypocrisy; sincere 

descended from the original stock; pure in breed

Is anyone 100% genuine?  Are we too full of judgement for others, self-preservation and greed to really be genuine?  I personally do not possess the perfect attitude of being genuine.  It is however, a quality that I am striving to be more of, to show more genuine character than not. 

On Love:  In being genuine, I truly mean it when I tell someone I love them; it is not an emotion I feel lightly or express like a high schooler would, all huggy-huggy and liberally given to any acquaintance.  Equally, I want genuine love reciprocated.  Not to say, if I love you, then you must love me back :).  Just sayin' that if you say it, you should also feel it. 

On Friendship: Likewise, I take friendship seriously...I like to show affection, spend quality time together and feel genuinely cared for and accepted.  There's no extra time in our busy lives to mess around with fake friendships and catty people.  Like me or leave me, but no need to pretend with me.  Since this is what I need from a friendship, it is what I aim to give.  Friends that are sweet on the surface, but deep down don't care to be there during some tough shit, or would trade your friendship for someone more cool, or adopt an elitist attitude, those kinda people are hurtful and life is hard enough.  Lord, help me not be that person.  Now, sometimes, I may seem too raw, too blunt saying just what I feel to my friends.  I am who I am, and honesty is important in friendship.  But I am working toward a better me all the time, because I realize I'm not better than you and recognize that you're not better than me.

On Life: I think a large part of really feeling gratitude and being a genuine human develops as we mature.  I hope I am getting better at displaying both qualities.  I know I am becoming much more interested in real life experiences, real people and less interested in wasting my time on people or things that detract from feeling grateful.  It may have taken nineteen years for Lyara to gratefully choose to find me a genuine gift, but I'll take it.  It really is the thought that counts, and the action doesn't hurt either.


Packed with Care.

My darling daughter has been living in Florida for a month now, and I can barely stand being so far away from her.  Since I can't grab her and give her a big, warm, loving hug...I'm gonna send her one!  Greg and I have been enjoying ourselves by putting together a care package for her.

This particular package includes: a photo album with 50 of some cherished photos of Lyara with family and/or friends, including some adorable ones of our kitty, Tigger...,

some delicious dried mangoes, which are one of Lyara's favorite snacks, a big pack of watermelon bubble gum, two sunny pairs of flip flops, a framed family photo that was taken right before she left, a Subway gift card, Butter's gold colored nail polish (per her special request), the newest Fitness & Runners World magazines, because happily reported by me -- Lyara is running and working out down in the southeast(yee haw!) and finally, a unique little find that I recently learned about... Keel's Simple Diary.

I read about this in my latest issue of Vogue, apparently actress Rachel McAdams writes in hers regularly.  Anyway, my daughter has always been a tremendous writer; poetry, short stories, journals, you name it.  Immediately after seeing the diary, I ordered one for Lyara from Borders.  This "simple diary" is the most original journal I have ever seen.  It isn't like you open it up and there are just sprawling pages of blank lined paper.  No, this diary provides daily prompts like:
   Your day was (only choose one)
   ( ) a party. ( ) a U-turn. ( ) a smarty.
Or, you might find this prompt:
Are you at peace with your hair? ( ) Yes  ( ) No

Each page features random choices for how your day went, room for an explanation,  and other categories such as: feeling at home, the right rhythm, spirituality, fate or circumstance with multiple choices, and even a tidbit or granual of wisdom for the day: The ideal is provocative.   Keel's Simple Diary is available in all sorts of cover colors and I chose lime green for Lyara.  When I opened up the Borders box upon its delivery, I found an introduction to the journal inside that told me there was a good reason I had selected the diary in lime green, like: This could mean you  a) like moss.  b) are a snake. c) dislike golf.  Lyara is gonna be ALL over this journal. It is just her style; unique, fresh, fun and imaginative!


Downhill Skiing, Snow Shoeing and Schweitzer Mountain!

This past week has been a blur of activity and vacation bliss.  Close friends of ours have a family condo on Schweitzer Mountain and were gracious enough to invite us up for some vacay recreation and relaxation.  Last year on a dare, I agreed to take downhill ski lessons with Tiff and Trish IF Eric (Tiff's hubby) would agree to join us at a Thompsons' BAT session.  Deal!  So, without much ado the three of us signed up for beginner lessons at Schweitzer last January.  I was totally infatuated.  Next day, I went back and skied the bunny hill for hours.

Fast forward to November of this year, and my sweet husband bought me ski equipment at the Mount Spokane Ski Swap for my Christmas presents!  All geared up and ready to go, I set out on Wednesday to check if I still had ski skills on the bunny hill.  Slow going at first, but I managed to fall only once throughout the day.  Yay!

On Thursday, Jessi and Emma accompanied me on my very first time skiing down real mountain runs on Schweitzer.  We rode the quad up and skied a gentle run to the t-bar lift up the top backside of the mountain since it was a foggy morning.  I will admit that the first time I looked over the edge of the next ski run, I almost peed myself with anxiety...how in the h-ell was I supposed to get down the mountain without breaking every single bone in my body?  In typical genuine calm and enthusiasm, Jessi literally talked me off the ledge.  Emma all the while cruised passed me with ease and speed, patiently waiting for me to catch up.  She is a little skiing beast, killing it on the runs and in the trees alike!  Eventually, we made it down a few runs together, me crashing and laughing all the way.  After a solid three hours, I was exhausted from hauling my big bootie outta the powder.  I finished with a smooth run down cat tracks and the bunny hill, safely into the parking lot.  I am thrilled to say that skiing was everything I hoped it would be and even more.  I haven't fallen in love in a long time, but I sure remember what it feels like :).

Friday morning, a few of us decided to enjoy some trail snow shoeing at the mountain.  Schweitzer has many scenic trails to offer for getting your fill of some easy, meandering snowy miles.  We "mostly" stayed on the trails and had a great time while it snowed, sleeted and rained throwing snow balls and slapping each other with the occasional tree limb! 
After returning to eat some lunch, we all toyed with the idea to snow shoe up the face of the mountain together.  Greg and I had not done this before, but we were game if everyone else was.  Finally, sometime around 5 we got ourselves out the door on up the mountain for the hardest "walking" I've ever done in my life.  The weather conditions were kinda brutal...heavy snow falling, windy and cold.  No fear!  

We trekked straight up the mountain, Rog leading our crew.  Many times we slipped and struggled on hands and knees finding some foot holds to push up the mountain higher and higher.  Steve enjoyed teasing us by falsely predicting we were ALMOST at the top a kazillion times, but eventually we reached the summit.  I'm not gonna lie, that shit was hard!  The wind speed at the top was probably near 40 mph, but we shoed our way to our downwards destination giddy with our accomplishments.  
With a breathtaking view ahead of us, we bounded, leaped, slid and skied our snow shoes down the mountain, laughter at our child-like recklessness following our screams and screeches!  We bounced down the mountain, into and under small trees, crevasses and drop-offs.  Luckily no broken bones or egos, as everyone had a blast.  What a perfect end to a ridiculous vacation.