First 5K. Check.

This was me on January 9th, 2013. I had just finished W1D1 of C25K [60 seconds jogging, 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes] and thought I was going to die:

And this was me on April 28, 2013.

I did it. I ran my first 5K. Holy crap.

It's been more than 24 hours since I crossed my very first finish line for my very first 5K. I still feel like I'm on top of the world today, but I'm just not as sore as I was yesterday. :)

Back in December, I signed up for the OKC Memorial 5K. I wanted to run this because of the significance this event has in Oklahoma, and the impact that the OKC bombing had on this state. I wanted to run it at least once, so I decided that 2013 would be the year. I woke up at 5, got ready and tried not to puke. I couldn't believe that after 3.5 months of training - and two years of talking about it - I was actually about to run my first 5K. I only had one goal: finish. Well, finish in 40 minutes. I also had a secondary goal to run at least 2.5 of the 3.1 miles, but that wasn't as important as just finishing the thing.

My sweet husband woke up with me and drove me to Bricktown, and we decided to park out of the way [and by out of the way, I mean just about half a mile away from the start line]. The whole walk to the start line was so nerve-wracking...I was clinging to his hand, trying not to hyperventilate. But as I got closer and saw all of the people that were there, I started to relax. I figured that because so many people were running, I wouldn't be singled out - I would just blend in. That was comforting.

Pre-race good luck kiss!
The marathon/half/relay took off at 6:30, and it took them just about 20 minutes to clear the start line - that's how many people were running [the event expected 23,000 runners across all the races, and they probably got close to that]! After that, the thousands waiting to run the 5K were given a two-minute warning, then we took off. I walked from the corral to the start [not even 1/4 of a mile], prayed that I would finish and hit the pavement.

Walking up to the start line...along with 4000 other people.
I was so full of adrenaline that first mile that I probably ran too fast; I made the first mile with no issue but was starting to get warm - and my legs were protesting - by the time I hit the 1.25 mile mark. At that point, I would do run/walk intervals like I had done during my training. The second mile was hard because it had a lot of inclines...that, and I had no idea where we were going or where we would hit the 2-mile marker. I knew the area really well because it's not far from where my sister used to live, but I hadn't quite paid attention to the map to see where the mile markers were. Oops. I'll definitely do that next time.

When I hit the 2-mile marker, I decided to just give it my all. I walked for three minutes - enough time to catch my breath - then I just ran it out. I don't know how long it was [I probably ran the last mile or so]; I just told myself to gear it up and kick ass. I had this sudden burst of adrenaline about 1/2 a mile from the finish line and just felt like I could finish strong - so I blasted my music and just hit it.

We hit a set of barriers and were forced to turn left, and that's when I saw it - the finish line banner. There were people cheering and waving, and I just started crying. Yes, I cried while I finished the last 1/4 of a mile [people who know me should not be surprised by this]. Seeing that finish line was so overwhelming...all of the work I had put in was about to pay off. I will never forget hitting that finish line; it was one of the coolest moments of my life. I had accomplished something big. I know a 5K may not be that big of a deal to most people, but to me, it's giant. 

I finished at right under 39 minutes, and I had run more of the course than I had walked, so I was fine with where I was. For my first 5K, I walked in with no real expectations - I just wanted to finish. And I did! I run again in two weeks and will try to run every other day so I can pull off a 12-minute mile. By the end of the summer, I want to pull it down to 10. Considering where I was in January...not even able to run 1/4 of a mile without wanting to pass out...this is major progress. I'm stoked.

I'm so grateful for my amazing husband, who took leave to come support me. And I'm grateful for my awesome parents, who watched JJ while I ran [and watched the news to see if they could see me - one of the local news stations covered the entire race]. Thanks to all of the friends and family who texted for said something on Facebook/Twitter; your support is so very much appreciated. There will be many more 5Ks in my life, but there will only be a first 5K - and this one will remain a special one for the rest of my life.


Opening up. And moving forward.

I know that, for some, counseling is frowned upon, is something for the weak. For awhile, I thought that, too. But after losing Devon, and falling into a depression, I realized I couldn't pull out of it on my own. So, I tried counseling. I knew I had to do something.

The first time around just didn't feel right. I tried it a couple of months after losing Devon, and I was still so lost in my grief that I just shut it out and didn't take it to heart. That lasted one session. I was hanging on for awhile, but last month - as I neared my 27th birthday - I started floundering again. I was losing myself in the grief, and I knew I had to find away to pull out before it consumed me again. I couldn't fall back to that. I started looking around the Military OneSource site and found that they offered free counseling sessions - and they did them online - so I requested a session and decided to try it out. What did I have to lose? I wasn't sure how I would like the online setting, but at least I was trying it.

The person I'm working with is SO great. Oh my gosh. He's helped me overcome so much in the three sessions we've had, and the online setting really hasn't been that bad. I can still interact with him, still take his words to heart, even though we don't see each other face to face. I definitely cry during each session, but I don't feel as overwhelmed anymore. He also has experience working with women who have lost babies, which means he has a unique perspective - and experience - that the last person I worked with was lacking.

During my short time in counseling, I've worked through some of the mental roadblocks that were contributing to my grief. I've started to learn to move forward, to love myself again, to appreciate life even though Devon isn't here. I spent so much time being consumed by his loss that I wasn't focusing on what I already had - life, love and happiness. I know I always say that I'm OK, but I was just that - OK. Now, I'm starting to feel good, and even great, again.

It's been interesting, being in counseling and working through my issues with an outside party. My friends and family have been such a great support system, but there's just something about getting advice and help from someone not involved in this situation that has helped so much. He's provided so much insight, different ways to view what has happened...perspectives I never thought of before. Counseling hasn't been easy, by any means; I've had to go back to those early days, rehash some of those early memories. But in the end, it's been worth it.

Today, I feel like an -almost- new woman. I feel like I'm truly ready to move forward with my life, to have Devon as a part of my life but not have his loss consume me anymore. I'm so glad I forced myself to try counseling again, because it's been a lifesaver.

Oh. And random note to end this post: I run my first 5K on Sunday. Eek! Wish me luck!


Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg.

On Monday, a coworker of mine marched into my office with a book, set it down on my desk, and basically said, "You have to read this."

I took a look at the book, read the inside jacket and cringed. I wasn't sure if I wanted to read what I thought was a self-help book on women in the workplace. But since my coworker had said the book was great, and she's never let me down with a book recommendation before, I bit the bullet and started reading it.

I started it yesterday morning during down times at work. I finished about 15 minutes ago. That's the fastest I've ever read a book that didn't have the words "Harry Potter" in the title.

This book wasn't a self-help book. Well, it kinda was. But it was about how women believe they are inferior in the workplace when they aren't, how they need to lean in all the way and get what they deserve instead of second-guessing everything. So much of that book spoke to me personally - as a working mom and as a working woman - that I just couldn't put the book down. I had to keep reading.

The author - who is the COO of Facebook - is an incredible woman. She worked her way up, working for the US Treasury Department and Google before coming to Facebook. She's also a working mom and wife, with two children and a husband at home. What she does is so demanding, but it has also allowed her to share so many insightful things that are great for both women AND men to know. I wish this book had come out when I was in college!

Her words spoke to me on a personal level because I could relate to so much of it. As a working mom myself - with a husband stationed in a different state for now, which means that I'm basically a single working mom - I have spent so much of my career doubting myself and my abilities. I always question if I should stay at home with JJ, if I should be a stay-at-home mom, if I'm too devoted to work and not him. I also question if I'm too devoted to him and not work, if I'm doing enough at work to make myself be seen as a working woman first and not a working mom [those are two totally different ways of thinking, btw]...basically, I just question. I question my role as a mom and my role as a worker. Once J and I are back together, I'll question my role as a wife, too. That's a lot of questions.

What Sandberg's book taught me is that it's natural to question all of those things - and it sucks that, even in today's society, working women still feel inferior and insecure. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in the whole "daycare or no daycare" debate, or the "I'm taking another sick day; will I get fired for this?" struggle that I have several times a year when JJ gets sick. I'm very fortunate to work in an amazing office environment with some great people [one of them is also a mom], but I still have those nagging thoughts in the back of my mind. I have definitely been made to feel like my job should come first in past experiences, and I really shouldn't have been made to feel that way.

Sandberg's book also taught me that it's OK to be a working mom and to go out for what you want. Women shouldn't sell themselves short just because they're mothers or are considering being mothers; with some help from spouses and possibly coworkers, there can be a good work/life balance. She talked about mommy guilt, about how she felt guilty for working and missing out on some aspects of her children's lives. I feel that way a lot, too. Every morning, I wage an internal war with myself when I drop JJ off at daycare. I've gotten a lot of negative feedback over the years about how I could possibly put my kid in daycare for 9 hours a day and "let someone else raise him". I was more than relieved to read in this book that research showed no differences in children who had stay-at-home parents vs. working parents and were in daycare. I wish I'd known about that when JJ was a year old and I got so much crap about letting him go to daycare all day long.

This book really opened my eyes to all of the struggles that women face in the workplace, and how it has led to so many women selling themselves short. There are many factors - uncompromising workplaces, male bosses not understanding, gender discrimination, women in senior positions having a "me, me, me" attitude instead of an "us, us, us" attitude - but mostly, it's just because working women have been made to feel inferior. For so long, their role was to stay at home and take care of the kids. Even though that's not the way this country functions anymore, the old ways of thinking still exist, which lead to women stopping short and not working their way to the top. Even though they're capable and qualified, they just don't.

This was an eye-opening read for me, and I feel like it's something all organizations should require their employees - both men and women - to read. This book motivated me to start studying for the GRE again so I can take the test and start on my master's. After becoming a mom, I wondered if I could make it all work...and I started selling myself short to make sure I wasn't overextending myself and taking time away from JJ. While he is still my main priority, I need to start rebuilding the confidence I had in myself back in college - that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can do it well. I always felt like I had a target on my back because I was a working mom, but not anymore. I may not be able to do it all, but I can do most of it - and I've done a damn good job of doing it so far. I haven't given myself enough credit for what I've done the last five years, how I've handled myself, how I've bounced back from the deepest depths. I need to give myself credit, and I need to use that to further myself.

So thank you, Sheryl Sandberg. Thanks for writing this book and for having the balls to speak up about women inequality in the workplace and what needs to be done to stop it. Thanks for being a working mom in a senior leadership position and admitting that, while it's hard and you struggle with your decision to work after having children, you love your job and you love your kids - and it's OK to love both. Thanks for inspiring me to start leaning in again.


What a weird, awful day.

It's now early Tuesday morning, which means the weirdest Monday I've had in ages is finally over. Between OKPD officer Chad Peery succumbing to wounds sustained in a Sunday rollover accident and the Boston Marathon bombings, I was just in this weird headspace all day.

Granted, I didn't know either Office Peery or any of those injured/killed at the marathon [even though I did know people at the marathon and, thankfully, they were all OK], but as a human being, it still shakes you. I was at the Thunder game in February where Officer Peery walked to accept his Devon Community Hero Award. It was such an amazing moment to witness this man - partially paralyzed after a senseless act of violence - actually take steps and use his own two feet to accept his award. For it to all end for him the way it did...my heart just breaks for his family.

And then, the Boston Marathon bombings happened soon after it was announced that Officer Peery had passed. Like most breaking news stories, I saw it on Twitter and immediately went to CNN.com. I'm not sure anyone could grasp what fully happened until after the dust had settled and the crowd had been cleared. All I remember thinking was, "Not again. Dear Lord, not again." Why does this keep happening in this country? Shootings, bombings...I shouldn't be terrified to run in the OKC Memorial 5K next Sunday, but I am. I'm not even sure if I'll run it, even though I'm leaning towards running. I just don't get why people think it's OK to pull other people into their miserable existences and hurt/kill people in the process.

We could all probably argue for days about the many reasons why these senseless acts of violence continue to happen on our turf. From mental health care to access to guns to the Internet providing instructions on how to make bombs...I'm sure people could go on and on about why this keeps happening. But the bottom line is, people are dying because of violence. No one has pinpointed a responsible person/party for the Boston Marathon bombings, or a motive - so speculating is grossly premature at this point. But someone, somewhere, did this. Someone, somewhere, is responsible for injuring more than 130 people and killing 3, including an 8-year-old boy. It's sickening.

I guess the point of this post is to get this out: even in the face of tragedy, we will prevail. Today is a new day full of promise and hope. As long as we continue to live, continue to move forward, we will survive. I must say that I am proud to be a part of a nation where people - bystanders, police officers, firefighters, National Guardsmen - threw their own safety to the wind and immediately began helping those who were injured after the blasts. We are at our strongest when we face the most uncertainty, and that is why this country is still standing, even as we've faced such unspeakable tragedies over the years.

Yesterday was such a weird day, as an Oklahoman and as an American. But this country has [unfortunately] gotten used to bouncing back in the face of adversity, and that's exactly what we're going to do. My thoughts are with those affected by the blasts, as well as the family and police family of Officer Peery.



I know that most people expect for me to have moved forward by this point. In 10 days, it will be 8 months since Devon was born sleeping, and it's still a struggle for me to move forward. I wish that I could just move forward and find peace with all of this, but I honestly haven't really found peace yet.

I miss my son. Every single day, I miss him. And lately, I've taken a big step back and just can't get over how unfair it is that I'm the one that had to lose a baby. I know there are others in my shoes, but I know maybe one or two people personally that have been in my shoes. No one else gets it. Not even J - who has already moved forward and accepted what has happened - gets it.

Add to the fact that all of these pregnancies are coming out of the woodwork - I probably know about 10-12 women who are expecting this year - and my heart just aches. I want nothing to do with babies or pregnancy or any of that, because it sucks. I really don't even check in to the Loss board on The Bump anymore because some of those women are moving on and are pregnant with their rainbows, and I'm not. Hell, I don't even know if I want any more children. Another loss would seriously break me; I'm just about at the breaking point right now.

I hate that I have no one to talk to who gets it. I feel like most people don't want to hear about my bad days anymore, so I don't talk about it. I talk about it in my personal journal and, on occasion, in this blog [like i'm doing now] or to friends who ask how I'm truly doing. I blog so that people can choose to read about it; I'm not burdening people or forcing people to be a part of this crazy cycle of emotions that I'm going through right now. I'm letting it out there and letting the chips fall where they may without having anyone get truly wrapped up in all this if they don't want to.

I guess the point of this post is that, while I do have my good days, the closer we get to one year, the harder the days become. I almost feel like I'm back in those early days, when I was swimming in grief and didn't know how to get out of it. I pray all the time that I can find peace and comfort, but that's easier said than done when you're trying to move forward from losing someone so precious as a child. I wish I could move on, wish I could be happy every day and be OK with what has happened...but right now, I'm just not. I have taken the steps to start counseling again, so I'm hoping that will help. I hope that, one day soon, the struggle won't be as hard as it has been. I just have to make it for a few more months until I hit that one-year angelversary. Maybe, just maybe, the struggle won't be so hard after I get through the first year. It will always hurt, but I pray it won't always hurt this much. I'm not sure I can take another year of this pain.