Thursday, July 31, 2014

"How to be Epic"- Part II

I talked to my good friend and former BRB (best running buddy- she is now into ProFit classes).  She is one of my favorite peeps to discuss life with.  This conversation occurred on Monday.  I hadn't fully hit "the wall" but I had just got done with a swim that was mentally frustrating and I was embarrassed and disappointed that I didn't "do the time"-yards- I needed to.  I shared with her my anxiety, doubts, disappointment in my current lack of drive and follow through with my training.  She always seems to know how to be honest in a nice way. 

She posed a few questions:
"What if you took next year off and didn't sign up for anything?"
I responded somewhat saying the following... "I've thought about doing that, but never officially held myself to it.  I think I'm use to have a training schedule and think if I don't have something to train for I won't put in the time and do the workouts. Basically I'm worried I'll get lazy.  I like food and drinks too much to get lazy plus I really do like being active and know it is great "free therapy" for me mentally."

"What if you just trained for sprint tris or smaller races and not long distance races?" 
I again responded in agreement, but also deep down I like the challenge, and better yet I like accomplishing the challenge. 

I told her I was really worried I'd come to regret my current mood and the impact it may have on my race day.  To paraphrase her, because I have horrible memory and didn't write her wise words down, "will you ever feel satisfied that you did all you could in training for a race, you are really hard on yourself and your toughest critic".  She was absolutely right and this talk reminded me of Dimity McDowell's article and how honest it was about training but she also looked at the "why" we do these races. 

Tuesday I hit "the wall" and so that night I sat down and re-read her article from the April 2014 Runner's World.  I had torn it out to put in my "training" binder I keep.  Within two paragraphs into article I remembered why I could connect with this writer.  Dimity wrote...
"I can't run.  I can't swim.  I'm tired. I'm angry.  I'm hungry all the time, but nothing sounds good.  And I have no patience for anything or anybody especially my kids."
Yep been there and felt that throughout marathon training and now training for 70.3 tri.  What was my issue- why had I chosen this?  Dimity answers this when she writes
"Could I do that? Could I stop settling for mostly comfortable and truly push myself?" This in response to training for her ironman race.
"Going big isn't really about the distance.  It's about taking on something that isn't necessarily a gimme". 
I think you could also trade the "distance" for "race" and end with "It's about taking on training".  At least that is what I continue to experience throughout various training/race experiences.

Carrie Cheadel, MA and mental-skills coach in the article had a great quote "You really have to focus on and work for an epic race.  It takes everything in you to accomplish tough goal and when you do that, it feels incredible".  I'm definitely hooked by that "incredibility" factor.  Even when finishing my first marathon I crossed the finish line feeling euphoric/accomplished/exceptional and I liked that feeling and so know that is another draw to "epic races" or "going long".

I wonder how many other racers felt Dimity was writing about them when writing
"I wanted to feel the crazy-wow highs (and survive the despondent lows) that come with going way outside my comfort zone and the exponentially amplified confidence and satisfaction that grow from hanging out there."

Should I have gotten a coach? I don't think so but as noted in this article "it's easy to overestimate what you're going to be capable of doing physically and schedule-wise.  A coach keeps you on track."
Maybe, but honestly I don't know that I would have trained much harder, longer, faster, but it is one of the variables I do sometimes ponder.  I didn't have a coach with any previous training schedules, but I did have a training schedule some expert developed that led my training schedule (Hal Higdon historically for all my marathons and 1/2 marathons, except the one I followed by the "another mother runner own it plan", and now the Super Simple 70.3 training plan by Matt Fitzgerald).  However, with almost all these plans/schedules I revised them.  Were these revisions to the plan variables against my participation on race day?  Cheadle again had another great line that ensured I wasn't the only weirdo out there "I like to remind my athletes that the doubt is part of what they signed up for." So these doubts of mine are normal- not that I am :). 

Again Dimity finishes the article with a post race "Now what?"...
"Now that I know I can do it, there's always something bigger... Going big can turn into a chase-your-tail game that threatens to diminish the rewards of committing to and training for an epic- or really any- race."
This will be something I need to remember after the race and stop and don't go right to "now what?".  Somehow, I think I will take a little break after this, but knowing me it won't be long because I'll miss the routine, the workouts, the discussion with friends about current training woe's and accomplishments.  If anything my rest day yesterday did reinvigorate me, because as I get ready to walk out the door to ride 56 miles and run 2 miles I'm not scared/ I'm not dreading it/ I'm just ready!
Thanks Dimity for this great article.  I have a feeling I will continue to re-read this over the years. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"How to be Epic"- Part I

by Dimity McDowell (co-author of Run Like a Mother and Train like a Mother books and Another Mother Runner website/blog, etc) came out in the April 2014 Runner's World.  I remember reading it back then and really connecting with what she had written.  I'm hitting "the wall" in my training and so thought it would be good to re-read this article along with go through all my fun "Pinterest" quotes and sayings to try to get remotivated/reinvigorated.  Plus if I don't change something soon it is going to be a long couple of weeks before Pigman 70.3 and an even longer race day.

This attitude or mood has been brewing for awhile...
Saturday night 9 pm and I'm winding down the day while hubby is watching a movie downstairs.  I'm hitting the wall hard!  My feet hurt, my legs feel like dead logs, my inner thighs are so pissed off at me for forgetting to apply the anit-chafe glide to them before my long run this morning. So chafed that I've applied a big old surgical bandaid to the inner left thigh to cover the strawberry I have from my thighs getting to know each other too much this morning (side note- my hubby didn't get what I was trying to explain to him when I told him my thighs had chafing-  "from you shorts"- him "a no from the thighs getting to close to each other"- my response "I've never heard of that"- him "that's because you are a foot taller than me and don't have gymnast thighs"- me).  My back is sore and stiff.  My arms feel like wet noodles flopping around.  All of these feelings for the "love" of training for Pigman 70.3. 

I've worked hard, but am starting to slow; my normal signs of fatigue: slower times for training runs, bikes, etc.  I'm short tempered (the kids normal not listening to mom is throwing me into "white trash" yelling days).  I'm just so tired.  I think right now I could turn the lights out and go to sleep.  I'm already thinking about how tomorrow could be a "rest day" when really I'm suppose to bike, swim and run- UGH!

So that was Saturday night... Sunday I ended up only swimming.  Monday I swam again (piss poor- not because of physical pain, but mental and excuses: I only did 1000, suppose to do 2000 yd- but competing with swimming with three people/lane on top of being lapped by the same guy over and over again (I'm pretty sure he was the guy with the Ironman WI backpack at the side of the pool).  I just had to stop.  Then the final "wall" came Tuesday morning when I went for my 6 mile run at 5:35 a.m.  I ran about a 10 min/mile pace for two miles and then chose to stop and turn around and head home.  Notice I didn't say "run home" because there was no more running.  There was only walking.  When this quick little "mother runner" ran by me at my 3 of walking I felt like a fraud- sure I had a Tropical Tri Race t-shirt on, but I was walking, not running, biking or swimming, etc.  I decided I was done.  I just couldn't force myself to run- totally all mental and mental fatigue/pain is tougher for me than physical fatigue/pain (don't get me wrong I'm a red head and "they" say redheads have the lowest pain threshold, but maybe this includes mental pain too).  So I got home and decided I'm taking tomorrow off.  No early runs/bikes or swims after work.  Tomorrow I will just "rest". Then I will put my big girl pants back on and resume training.  I will ride a long ride on Thursday followed by a two mile run.  I will then prepare for my sprint tri on Sunday.  I have no other choice.  I don't want to give up and I don't want to fail. 

Irony is receiving the above to my Hotmail account on Tuesday morning after hitting the "wall"- Think someone from Pinterest or higher power is trying to tell me "buck up lil' camper".
 
I'll keep you posted on what I gleam from the re-read of Dimity McDowell's "How to be Epic" article and if I've discovered any solutions to treating the "training crabbies" .
 


Monday, July 28, 2014

Training- how to find the time to fit all the workouts in

and also do all the other things I want and need to do?  I think my "crabby" factor not only comes from the physical fatigue of training, but also I'm doing more miles and so not feeling like I'm getting time to do all the other things I'm wanting or needing to do. 

This was the question that hit me last week while sitting waiting for church to begin. I decided to write a list of potential time "needs/wants" and this is what I came up with.
-hours in the week (24x 7= 168 hours)
- reading hours daily (ideally 1hr/day)
-writing (ideally 20-30 min/day)
-read with kids (ideally 30 min/day)
- workouts- depends on what is required but anywhere from 1-3 hours/day
- work days- 8 hours give or take (my Mondays are normally my long days and then I try to even out the rest of the hours of the week to equal 24- I'm extremely lucky and only work three days/week)
-dinner prep and eat 1hr/day
-prep for next day 30-45 min
-I'm forgetting the things like 15 minutes to get to work and then 10-15 min bus ride in on work days x2 for both in and out, or even better yet the time it takes to clean the house (lucky "the coach" is an excellent team player with this job, and we've started to utilize the kids as weekly vacuum helpers, but it still takes time to clean the house, do the yard work and general house maintenance)

- so I added it up:
Workday: I spend at least 9 hours including work and travel to and from work, workout 1-3 hours, dinner 1 hour, 30-45 min prep next day, 1 hour me reading, 30 min kids reading, and 30 min writing= 13.5 hours-16.5 hours (so about 7.5- 10.5 hours for sleep/day)

OK reality- I get around 7 hours of sleep nightly, except the days that are really rough (long bikes or runs) then I'm exhausted and try to go to bed earlier.  So after breaking down my day I tried to brainstorm ways to be more efficient in my day, what could I get rid of to give me more time. 

My two major "time sucks"- email and Facebook.  So I decided to try and be more efficient by looking at email only few times/day and took off the month from Facebook to see if my time became more efficient.  For as much as I love keeping in contact with friends/family there are a lot of other things about Facebook I won't miss. 

Time is too precious to me these days.  I have so many "wants" for how to spend my time- it's summer- pool time with kids (not just pool time consisting of doing laps either), reading as much as I can (I feel lately almost ravenous for books, about as ravenous as I am for food throughout the day), writing what's on my mind and trying different writing prompts, reading with the kids (I've truly enjoyed exploring some Newberry Awards with the kids this summer- first reads for all of us).  We will see if these minor changes to my time management will make me more efficient, accomplished and happier. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 13 training Pigman Long 70.3

Can't believe only 3 more weeks until the big race. This coming week I have the Oswego I Tried a Tri race back home.  It is a sprint (mini sprint really) 250 yard swim, 6 mile bike and 2 mile run.  So I normally have a taper/rest week the week before the race, but alas I will still need to do at least a big bike this week.  Kind of screws up my training schedule, but I'm kind of feeling like I'm not really doing a good job following the training plan anyways.

Total mileage this week: 75
Swim: 2miles
Bike: 49
Run: 24

My swim on Friday was BLAH!  I have the total "end of training" crabbies.  My arms were dead on Friday- not sure if it was the household manual labor I did on Thursday after the long bike ride or what, but my arms just felt exhausted, which isn't the norm. I just couldn't do the full 2000 and made it 1750 before giving in and getting out of the pool.   My run mileage was good this week.  I felt really exhausted Friday and sore all over by Friday night, this is a norm the day after a long ride, so I used my son's "super bouncy ball" as a massage ball and tried to work out the tight muscles in the legs and then went to bed reasonably early. 

Got up Saturday and head out for the run at around 6:10.  Two hours and 8 minutes later I was done.  I felt tons better than I thought I was going to, which is always a nice feeling.  After the run I got on my bike and road to breakfast with the family.  It was a relaxing ride, "coach" (aka hubby) said he wouldn't count our 7 mile bike as a bike for training mileage because it was at a ridiculously slow pace, but I however, am going to count every mile I can. 

I slacked on the bike rides this week, other than the 42 mile, and I just couldn't force myself to get on the bike again after swimming today so I'm being a slacker and saying screw it and instead enjoying a nice leisurely afternoon doing nothing (HA- yeah right- laundry, dinner prep, reading, writing, trying to ignore my arguing children).

This coming week will be a good rest week for me- forced due to the race.  I'm hoping it will rid me of some of "crabbiness".  Onward HO!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Productive Reading Week

My summer goal of reading Newberry Award winners continues by finishing "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred Taylor. It was a great story highlighting continued segregation, racism and hate crimes years after the Civil War. The main character was Cassie Logan a 9 year old girl with a firery temper, love of learning and reading and trying to keep up with her older brother Stacey. I was glad I didn't read this book with both kids. I think it would have been a little too confusing/complex for my 6 year old, but I'm going to encourage my 9 year old to read it. I always get many stirred up emotions when reading about slavery, oppression of African Americans and the horror of not thinking a person, who is other than "white",is not really a person.

I also did some reading of three literary journals/magazines. This was prompted by my involvement in a writing group I joined this summer. There are four women in the group and we all come to the table with different writing styles,goals, writing backgrounds, but two areas we all have in common are we are women and mothers. Hence the name of our group is The Written Mom. Being a part of this group has made me focus, write more and read more. It has been an education and I'm very thankful to be able to gleam so much in my writing life and real life from these ladies.

So I read "Poetry" which was ok and is totally what it sounds like- journal filled with poems, advertisements for MFA programs, and info on the abundant amount of poetry contests out there. I was unaware that many of the contests require submission fee ( I saw anywhere from $10-50/submission). I still am not really finding any poetry or poet that speaks to me. I think poetry may be above my intelligence factor. I think I don't understand or see the beauty in a poem because I've missed the symbol or subtle gist of what the author is really trying to say or describe. But alas I will keep searching and hope to find that poet whose poems I love so much I want to memorize.

I read over half of the June Paris Review and felt like I had read a book. It included interviews of authors, playwright, poetry (again didn't connect), and short stories.

Reading these journals opened my eyes to genres and topics I never would have thought about reading. Again furthering my reading education.

So I write right now sitting in a favorite library of mine eager to finish this post and continue this writing/reading education or "voyage" by finding further books and journals to conquer.


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 11 and 12 training Pigman 70.3

Week 11 flew by.  We were without our kids for the week and so took advantage of time with "coach" to do some training.  Here is what I accomplished:

Total miles: 84
Swim: 2 miles
Bike: 62 miles
Run: 20 miles

I dropped one run and one bike from the schedule, but got 2 swims in.
I did 2 longer rides, but not in my eyes or training schedule "long enough"
The long run was horrendous- 14 miles total: 7 miles run and then a 7 mile run/walk with two out of the last 3 miles walking.  I was spent.  My shoes for some reason are giving me blisters and so some more were produced during this run and walking was less painful and irritating.  One of the new blisters was saying "hello" from the bottom of my foot. 
My long ride was suppose to be 60 miles, but I did only 50 and I was suppose to run for 10 minutes after but when I was done with the bike I was done!
I mentally wasn't into the long bike ride.  I mentally wanted to jump ship about mile 13- "the coach" and I were riding together so he really helped me keep going.  I appreciated his support, but also didn't like it because I felt like I was holding him back from having a faster training bike and also during the race I have to do it on my own- no "coach" by my side.  I really hit bottom in week 11.  I felt like I had reverted to my old "training self" the one who is being mentally and physically challenged by every workout.  I thought I had tamed this devil with the "fishbowl fall" a few years ago.  That fall and being sidelined from running for a month really made me appreciate the health and physical ability I had.  I need to find that appreciation again.

Week 12
Total:81 miles
Swim: 1 mile
Bike: 59 miles
Run:21 miles

Vacation kind of messes with the schedule, even when I got up three out of the five days I was in the Dells with family.  So I got my runs for the week done pretty quickly this week- ran three days in a row.  On my second run of the week my Nike TOM TOM (GPS running watch) finally kicked the bucket.  The screen was not visible- looked like a blob had melted across the whole screen.  Ordering a new base line Garmin- hope it comes soon. "Coach" and I are sharing his Garmin until mine comes in. 

Besides some running technology malfunction on vacation I also continued to be plagued by the lack or inability to "get it done" per what was ordered on my training schedule.  Only biked twice and the long one was suppose to be 4 hours but I could only tolerate 3 hours on the trainer.  I couldn't ride outside due to the kids being home with me on Thursday and Friday (no camp due to being in the Dells earlier in the week).  The kids enjoyed some morning movie time while I pedaled for three hours.  For some reason my butt hurts when sitting on the trainer way more than it does when I'm outside riding. 

We also had visitors this weekend and did a ton of landscaping so my Saturday was a "work day" in the yard, but no bike, swim or run.  So I made up for the two days off I had this week by doing all three disciplines today: swam 2000 yards in pool, came home and rode bike outside for an hour and 30 minutes and then finished the trifecta up with a two mile run.  Felt good to get all three workouts in today. 

Despite not getting all the scheduled workouts in I still managed to get in some good quality workouts and mileage.  Back to the "schedule" this week.  Going to be hot so going to try and push myself in the heat to simulate the heat I may have to deal with when I do Pigman Long- countdown 4 weeks left of training. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Week 10 Training for 70.3- Reality Hits- I will likely be last in my age group.

What does this mean- it means I'm realizing that I will likely finish this race, but not sure how speedy I will be.  I looked at times from last year's race and I can hang with the swim time as a middle of the packer, but my bike and run times are slower putting me likely last to come in for my age group.  Now I don't think I'll be dead last- maybe I will- but last year some guy finished in 10 hours- shoot me now if I'm still out there at 10 hours- no really don't shoot me (you know I'm anti guns and everything so shooting not permitted). 

So besides hitting reality last week during training I accomplished the following and had a few other thoughts.

Total mileages: 89.17
Swim: 2.17 mile
Bike:  68 miles
Run: 19 miles

A lot of mileage right!  Well yes so why do I feel like last week was a disappointing week of training.  Here are a few I came up with.

1. Monday Swim was suppose to do at least 2000 yds.  I didn't even want to go to the pool.  So I felt like it was an accomplishment that I found my way after a busy day at work to swim in rec center pool.  I swam 1250 free style and then did 250 of kickboard.  My comment for my daily training journal on that day says it best: "Hope this doesn't come back to bite me".  Reference to slacking off and not doing the distance I was suppose to.

2. My long run of 13 miles was slow as molasses.  It lasted almost 2 1/2 hours.  Now this time would not at all bother me if I had already swam 1.2 miles, and biked 56 miles like I will have to in the race, but I didn't do anything but run 13 miles that day.  My legs were dead. Mid run I new I had a blister on the pinky toe of my left foot.  I took off my shoe at the end and couldn't believe that the blister hadn't popped- it was huge!  I was just going through the motions on that run and trying to get the mileage done, which I did, but not pretty picture at the end.

3. At the end of my 50 mile bike ride with hubby (aka coach) instead of feeling pride for getting some major mileage under my belt all I could think about was "I have 6 more miles on the bike and a 1/2 marathon to complete during the race". 

It is middle of my training and I'm at high mileage training time and am getting my typical burned out/crabby/doubting self.  I'm also heavily questioning my sanity.  I'm seriously wondering "What in the hell did I get myself into?  70.3 Really, why couldn't I just start out a little smaller with like an Olympic distance race?"

Well a week has gone by and this current week of training hasn't been much better or easier.  I've had a sudden change in attitude over the last few days though- trying to take it day by day and not beat myself up too bad mentally.  I'm also just trying to stick with getting the mileage in even if it means going slower or walking during some of my runs.  We will see if this all "comes back to bite me" in less than 6 weeks!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

June Reads

Every Woman's Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race by Selene Yeager

Great book for anyone to read about cycling. I found the tips and the information helpful. Would recommend this to anyone interested in cycling or thinking about picking up cycling. Written well with less jargon and more of an easy "laymen's terms" style of writing which made the reading easy and enjoyable. A Life Without Limits. Chrissie Wellington with Michael Aylwin I had heard about this book and Chrissie Wellington in some of the readings I've done in regard to triathletes/women triathletes. I thought the book was good, but this lady is way out of my league. She is a natural and has done well winning Ironman Hawaii 4 times I believe. She has endured some injuries and prevailed. Her first coach sounded tough as nails and not all there mentally, which is to say how many of us are all there mentally, but he was the type of coach that would have made me cry and quit pretty much day one. I thought it was a good read, but it had kind of been talked up so I thought I was going to gain some great knowledge or have a "aha" moment or become uber motivated in reading this book and alas my expectations, as usual, were just too high.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

This was the book my pastor had recommended for me. I thought it was good, but not great. I think I was expecting a Anne Lamott book and writing style and alas again had put too many expectations on poor Nadia. however, I did think her view of religion and spirituality fit well with my views and hopes for religion. It was a good book to start my probing/question answering journey on what religion means to me and what my faith really is comprised of.

The Space Between (Disney Fairies: The Never Girls #2) by Kiki Thorpe, Jana Christy

Read this book mainly with daughter, but son would join in listening every now and then. I liked the first book better, but this one was still entertaining. This is kind of a mom/daughter series as I have had my own mom/son books in the past. It is something my daughter looks forward to reading and has less mystery/suspense as other books I've read aloud with both kids- normally along with Harry Potter/Percy Jackson line etc. We are getting ready to start book 3 in this series and have book four on the shelf waiting when we are done.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

One of my goals this summer is to be working through reading the Newberry Award winners. This is one of them. It won the award in 1968. I know I sound like a broken record, but it was just O.K. It was a little dated in the writing/wording, which normally didn't bother me, but this time it seem to be apparent with each reading. The kids enjoyed it though and that is really what matters. Looking forward to reading many more Newberry Awards this summer.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

This book took me a little over a month and a half to read. It was really good and it was almost like a textbook in writing. I took notes throughout. I plan on sharing parts of it in upcoming post. This book had been recommended at the writing conference I went to this past spring. I liked her views on writing and different takes on character development, plot, use of words! I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing- appropriate for teens interested in writing too.

The Circle by Dave Eggers

This was our book club book for June. It was a toughy for me. I just really didn't enjoy it. It was based on the premise of social media invading our privacy- we all become "all knowing". I think I didn't enjoy the book because it made me uncomfortable. Although I'm very extroverted and like sharing my life with others I do not like the idea of having my every move be visible to all those around. I also don't like the idea of feeling connected to technology 24/7. Sometimes I think I waste way too much time on deleting all the spam from my emails, checking and rechecking texts, facebook, etc. I think social media/phones/email are taking us away from our interactions- those real interactions with others. I also thought the book was just too long- could've been condensed and gotten the same story across.

Some good reading was done this month. Some very good books, some just "meh". Onward to July and another month of summer reading!

Recap... for those who didn't get the revised version...

Found out that even when I update my posts they aren't resent to those of you who get my posts emailed to you. So here is the finished product. Love technology :). Friday, June 27, 2014 What if you loved everyone as one of your family... PartII-the finished product I'm trying to be all smart and get a post written while driving back from vacation. Unfortunately having technical difficulties and the below got posted unfinished and without edits and iPhone technology just doesn't want to cooperate- so like me- I think is this a sign? Should I not be posting this post or is it ready as is? Well I will finish but once in back in touch with proper technology. Sorry draft two will be coming. For some the title above may be hard to understand or agree with because not everyone loves their family members. I have been raised by parents who have instilled in me a love for our family. We aren't a perfect family and don't always get a long but we always love each other. My sister and I are best friends and talk almost daily. Despite living states away from each other we find time to be together in person almost every other month if not monthly. I talk to my parents frequently too and see them about once a month or sooner. My love and closeness extends past my immediate family. I'm close with my in-laws and feel blessed to have extended pair of parents. Besides my in-laws comes my extended family:grandparents,aunts,uncles and cousins. Despite living states away from my one set of grandparents I grew up knowing them as well as the ones who just lived a 15" drive from my childhood home. The local set of grandparents watched my sister and I growing up and we celebrated many special occasions/holidays together. Again don't get me wrong we weren't "the Walton's", but despite differences and the drama that comes with all families we love each other. So lately I've been thinking about my faith,religion, and what I believe in. How does this tie into my lov for my family? Well my religion or faith means to me an all inclusive welcoming to anyone, everywhere, who believes in "loving thy neighbor as thyself" and not passing judgement. I'm not saying I am able to practice these two beliefs/actions,but is something I'm trying to instill in my life and my kids' lives. So what happens when you meet someone who doesn't have the same beliefs or definition of faith or religion? What happens when I meet someone who reads the Bible literally, other than my poor attempt at reading the Bible as a sort of historical fiction or storytelling? Or when someone tells me so and so won't go to heaven because they don't believe in Jesus, but I think some of these non-believers are the most giving, generous, thoughtful people I know- far more than my Christian/Jesus believing self. I struggle with those that state these are going below and mot above. So am I doing the right thing by attending church, raising my children in the church meanwhile asking all the above questions? All these doubts and questions took me to setting up a coffee talk with our interim pastor. He has been with our church for a year due to illness and eventually death of our head pastor. His sermons and views on Christianity have taught me something or made me reflect on my faith. So I sat down and asked some of my many questions. His initial response made me feel quite not so crazy. He stated that I wasn't falling away from the church or doubting my religion, but acknowledgement that I wanted to go to the next level with my faith. My comments about never having read through the whole Bible and disliking the way in which some people try to enforce their interpretations of the Bible on others were also not strange thoughts or feelings to have- again I'm not a heathen. He felt I was just able to verbalize what others felt about the Bible. I didn't write down all his great comments, but a few of them I did were: "Love wins" "love your neighbor as thyself" is what faith gives us. Also not judging and passing judgement- it isn't our job but God's. To help me with my concerns about some Christians commenting about those who will and won't get into heaven he said it is not our decisions to be made. (Basically I need not worry myself with it because it is in God's hands). He also suggested the next couple books to help me further discover my faith and possibly answer some of my questions: "We make the road by walking" by Brian McLaren and also "Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buda and Mohammed cross the road". "Pastrix: the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint" by Nadia Bolz-Weber. I left that meeting feeling at least comforted by the thought that I wasn't losing my faith by asking these questions. At the end he suggested trying to understand the Bible better by discussing with others and not read it literally, but as if having a "conversation with God"(love that line). He suggested asking to start a "how to read and understand the Bible" group- I know just another thing to add to my "to do" list. Then a few days later I was at church circle. We were reading about Mary and Elizabeth visiting with each other when pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist. I really didn't know this story very well or much about Elizabeth so I learned and my church circle members answered my questions. One of the ladies stated " I don't get caught up in all the details when reading the Bible - like how old Elizabeth was when becoming pregnant". I liked that- don't get caught up in the details. Another member again answered my question about who is going to get into heaven... "I don't worry it's in God's hands"- again reminder of not our place to judge and those that think they are certain who will and won't get to heaven really aren't any more knowledgeable than I am on the subject. Then my last "Aha" moment came with my writing group. We had our writing discussion, exercises, and reading review of our works. Then I asked them some of my "faith questions". The other two ladies at group that night bring to the table knowledge about faith. One is heading off to seminary this fall and the other is head of the "prayer group" at her large church. My friends' words of wisdom and answers were helpful in clearing my "fog on faith". My friend's comments on praying was really helpful. You are thinking of others when praying. You are not being selfish;you are putting others first. I think praying for others helps you see how good you have it. ( all a paraphrase due to not taking accurate notes during discussion). So all of these experiences occurred in less than a week. I thought it was not just coincidental all these conversations occurring within the same week. I was asking the right questions of the right people. So I went to the library after my coffee talk with pastors and checked out "Pastrix". I will continue to have questions and look to those who can answer them for me. What does all this babbling have to do with the title of this post. Well if I can forgive and forget some of my family's quirks and my own can't I do the same four those that aren't family- love thy neighbor as thyself. -----