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September 1, 2010 / carmenklassen

Running Lessons

Running Solo

I started running on July 7, 2007, with my sister. She wanted to learn to run, and I had tried so many times on my own and failed, that it seemed a perfect opportunity to give it another shot.

We made it to the 20 min mark and I just kept going from there. For some reason, though, I decided that I preferred running on my own. So for the last 3 years I’ve run solo. I’ve trained for and completed 5 half-marathons, all on my own.  Whenever someone suggested that I run with one of the local groups, I’d usually respond, “yeah, I should try that…sometime,” with no real intention of following through.

You Never Know Until You Try

Tonight I decided to meet some friends at a local running store, and give this whole group running thing a chance. I had nothing else planned and the weather was perfect for a run.

And you know what?

I love running with people! I thought I’d picked a run/walk group but realized about halfway through that it was 35-40 min of straight running. It worked out ok, though, and I was able to keep up quite easily. I even made a new friend!

I thought that I didn’t like to talk and run at the same time, that I liked the solitude of running alone. And I do. But as it turns out, I also enjoy the camaraderie of running with a group. We ran along a route that I wouldn’t have picked on my own, at a pace a bit faster than I’m used to, for longer than I usually run. All in all, it was just enough to challenge me and still be fun.

So to add to my summer of lessons – you never know until you try! If you’ve been thinking about doing something but just haven’t gotten around to it – make some time and give it a go. You might just discover a new love!

August 27, 2010 / carmenklassen

Exploring My Life

What should I do next?

I’m trying to decide what to do in the fall. (By “the fall” I mean September. Which starts next week. So really this is just about trying to decide what to do next week.) The end of summer heralds the start of a new school year (which is still how I think of autumn even though my school days are far behind me). Every year around this time I get the itch. The desire to enroll in something. Take a class. Learn something new. Join the gym. And most years I think and think and think about it, until everything has started and look, now it’s too late. Oh well. Maybe next year.

This year is different. This year I made a list of everything I want to do. It’s a long list, and I can’t possibly do everything right now, so I’m in the process of prioritizing. The first (and most time-consuming) option is a tax class that I’ve enrolled in.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve already enrolled. I’m committed.

(When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would only write about what I’m currently doing and have done. Not what I hope to do in the future, because how often do plans change and intentions fail to become reality? If you’re anything like me, a lot.)

So then. Tax prep. Woo! It doesn’t sound like the most exciting option on the list, but I’m actually looking forward to it. I took the class about 13 years ago and did well, but never pursued a job in the field. This time around I’m hoping it will open the door to a little additional income.

Opening Doors

I’m not absolutely sure if this is the direction I should take, but my goal for the next few months is to open doors. To try new things, put myself in unfamiliar situations and see what works and what doesn’t. So I’ll start with this class. If I feel I can handle something else, then I’ll consult the list and add in another activity. Most likely a volunteer opportunity.

Whatever I choose to do next, my goal is to learn. To develop new skills. To meet new people. To make a positive contribution in my community. I’m going to put myself out there and see what opportunities come my way. I’ve found that if I am open and ready and willing, opportunities abound.

So I’ll start with a tax class, and who knows where I’ll end up.

August 18, 2010 / carmenklassen

Time and Space

This seems to be the summer of lessons, and most of them have to do with relating to others. I’m learning how to step back and allow a little breathing room into my friendships. I’m learning the importance of just being sometimes, instead of doing all the time. I am learning to wait on God and look for his direction.

One specific lesson I’ve learned recently is to let your emotions settle before sending an email or publishing a blog post. I think it’s ok (and sometimes necessary) to write while emotional, to get your thoughts and feelings out onto the page. However, once you’ve allowed a little time to pass, you may find that you no longer agree with what you’ve written, and you’ll be thankful that you didn’t send or publish it.

I’ve been guilty of doing just the opposite lately. I tried to rush in and fix something with my words, when I should have stepped back and held my tongue (or pen in this case). Now that I’ve gained a bit of perspective, I would like to issue a retractor for a few recent emails. (If only it were that simple!) Since I can’t take back my words, I can only move forward and take this lesson with me.

Next time? Just wait. Breathe. Feel. Write. But don’t send.

Sit with God and ask for clarity. For humility. For grace. Give him space to move instead of bulldozing ahead and trying to fix things through sheer determination. 

Be angry, be sad, be disappointed, be sorry, be whatever you need to be, for however long it takes. And when you can look back at the situation that ignited such an intense response, and not feel all those things, then write your letter, or publish your post, if you still feel you should.

August 11, 2010 / carmenklassen

Who Are You, and What do You Want?

A curious thing happens when I go on holidays. I get the travel bug. I want to explore the world, go on an adventure, meet interesting people. I consider staying in hostels and travelling on a dime. But then I come home, and before long I’m content to stay in one place.

The same thing happens when I read about people who are location independent, making money from online ventures, able to jet about the country (or the world), all while gainfully employed. (Hello Everett Bogue.) I read about it, and then I want to pull up my roots and work from somewhere, anywhere, besides here. 

I read about people who live in tiny houses. Some houses are so small they can be towed behind a truck and parked wherever one wishes to live next. (Hello Dee Williams.) I read about these small homes, and I’m struck with the urge to condense my life into 300 square feet of living space.

I am fairly easily inspired, and love the idea of a simpler lifestyle that doesn’t involve a 9-5  job.

However. If I take away the outside influences, if I were to quit reading the minimalist blogs, and the travel blogs, I’m not sure that’s the lifestyle I would choose on my own. I mean, I haven’t chosen it up to this point, so does that mean I’m not cut out to live and work in a small space, moving around and seeing the country?

Maybe. Maybe not.

As I wrote in my “about you” section, I usually choose the path of least resistance, and while I think this is me in my natural state – fairly content with life, no need to mess up a good thing – I’m not sure it’s the absolute best I can do.

But while I’m seeking to find the life I think I should be living, I need to be mindful to choose my own path. Some people can up and leave their life with a few thousand dollars in the bank and their possessions in a backpack, and while I think that’s a bit of a romantic idea, I don’t think that’s what I’m looking for.

Maybe I will end up in a small house. Or a yurt (because how cool would that be?). Maybe I will end up setting my own hours and building an online business. Or maybe I’ll discover that this is exactly where I belong, and have the grace to embrace a life that won’t make the cover of a magazine, but suits me to a tee.

What about you? Who are you, and what do you truly want, when you take away the outside influences?

August 10, 2010 / carmenklassen

Seeking God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

I’ve had a good summer so far. Road trips, football games, concerts, festivals, holidays, barbecues, long walks, good talks, bike rides, live theatre and the opera – all of these combined have made for a full and exciting summer. But in the midst of my busyness I lost sight of the most important thing. I’ve filled my life up with good things, and overlooked the greatest thing.

Rather than seeking God these past few months, I’ve been seeking fun and excitement and the company of other people, to the exclusion of my time with God. To be clear, I don’t think God wants us to sit at home all the time reading our bibles. However, there came a moment recently when I realized I was filling up my schedule just for the sake of being busy.

With the loss of a friendship and a sudden void in my life, I’m tempted to run out and try to find a new friend as quickly as possible. I feel God reminding me that instead of trying to fill up the empty spots in my daytimer with more activity, I need to seek him.


Before I do anything else.

Before I look for another friend or join a new group, I need to seek him.

Before I line up my Fall activities and commitments, I need to seek him.

And I need to seek him just for who he is. Not for advice. Not for a solution to my problems. But because he told me to come to him first. Because he wants a relationship with me. Because while I’ve been upset about a failed friendship, I’ve completely neglected my relationship with the one I claim to love above all else. Because none of my other relationships function as well when I neglect this most important one.

So I will seek God. I will read my bible. I will pray. I will sit quietly and try to just be with him.

And we’ll see what happens.

August 9, 2010 / carmenklassen

And That’s Why I Love Running

I had a difficult week last week. An important friendship dissolved in a matter of days, and despite my best efforts, it looks like it’s done for good. I’ve felt everything from confusion, anger, and disappointment, to disbelief and sadness. The anger is fairly easy to burn off, and with enough reflection I am able to understand why things didn’t work.

But the sadness. I didn’t know what to do with the moments of incredible sadness. Reminding myself of all the good things in my life did nothing to temper it. You can have the whole world and still mourn the loss of a friendship. I realized that every person occupies a unique place in one’s life, and though I will make other friends, nobody will ever be exactly the same as the friend I lost.

I was in the midst of such a moment yesterday when I decided to go for a run. I haven’t run for a couple of months, but it seemed like the perfect time to lace up.

And it was. I forgot what running does for me. Within five minutes I started to feel better. Life wasn’t so sad, and I could see the good things all around me. Possibilities opened up before me as I ran, and my spirits lifted. As I passed a large, beautiful house I heard the sounds of classical piano drifting through the open windows, and it seemed a serenade just for me.

I’ve tried to explain to friends why I run, when sometimes it seems like so much more work than, say, going for a bike ride.

I run because it gives me hope.

I run to find solutions to my problems.

I run to feel alive.

I run because nothing else makes me feel this way.

It will take time to get over the loss of this friendship, but now I know that when I find myself in the midst of the sadness, slipping out the door for a run will help me get through the moment.

July 22, 2010 / carmenklassen

Just Start

This is the first post of my new blog, and I want it to be awesome. I want to write something inspiring. Original. Witty.

That’s why it’s taken me so long to write this first post. Because I was trying to get it just right. Then I realized that starting is more important than being perfect. Actually writing is better than thinking about writing. I’m sure in a few months’ time, if I look back at this post, I’ll want to change it.

That doesn’t matter so much. What matters is that I’ve started, and somewhere along the way, hopefully, I will write a post that’s original. Inspiring. And maybe even witty.

Whatever it is you’ve been thinking about doing? Just start. It probably won’t be perfect right away, but you can work on that later.