Living An Unconventional Life

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. 🙂

I have been thinking this past week about what it means to be unconventional. I know that I am somewhat unconventional in my life. I am in my 50’s, single with no children, and I like it that way. I changed my last name. I don’t subscribe to tv services and rely solely on Netflix and the internet for entertainment and the news. I  know next to nothing about pop culture. Last year when there was an uproar over Duck Dynasty I honestly thought that it was a Disney show everyone was talking about.

I bet most of you have areas in which you are unconventional as well. Maybe you are proud of the ways that you stand out from everyone else, or maybe like me, it has taken some time to stop worrying about what everyone else is thinking and trying to fit into the crowd whether it be work, social groups, or family gatherings.  Approval is a strong motivator. It begins with seeking praise from our parents and teachers as children, our peers in adolescence, and our employers and communities as adults. Of course approval from others is often conditional  based the beliefs, values, and agendas of those around us. Many times we may not even be aware of the many ways we are subtly being persuaded to adjust our way of  thinking or doing things to appease or impress others.

To be unconventional is to follow what is in your heart. Being unconventional is self- expression with a purpose. To be unconventional with confidence can be fascinating, captivating, and inspiring. It can affect the world and encourage positive change.

I hope you embrace whatever it is you are called to pursue in this life in the ways that feel right to you. Career choice, lifestyle, family, fashion, hobbies, education, community service; we all have a unique way to approach these areas of our lives. Sometimes our approach will not fit into the conventions of those around us and we will stand out from the crowd. Some will see us as inspirational while others may see us as a liability or a threat; but if we stay true to our nature we will have the peace and satisfaction of having led a well lived life.

I would love to hear from you. In what ways do you see yourself as unconventional?

Until next time,

Laura

My First Trail Race

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you are doing well.

I am officially on summer break, yay! Which means I woke up with a cold Sunday morning, of course. Oh well, I am sure it will pass quickly.

I know some of you are wondering how my running is going so I will tell you that I finished my first 10k trail race last weekend. It was an amazing day for me. I couldn’t have imagined back in January what it would feel like to run over 6 miles. Heck, most of my life I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to run one mile. My friend, Sue, ran with me for support and another friend, Laci, ran back after she finished the race to help me pace myself to the finish line. My sister, Cindy, was at the finish line to watch me finish as well.

Not a morning person,  I made sure I had everything ready to go the night before the race. The race began at 7:00 am but I had a forty five minute drive ahead of me and I knew I had to be there early since the trailhead has limited parking capacity. So, at 5:30 am I bundled my groggy but excited self up and headed up to Devil’s Backbone, west of Loveland, CO.

When I arrived at Devil’s Backbone there were already a few cars there. The air was chilly at 40 degrees. I was cold, which made me grumpy but I knew I would warm up once I started running. I picked up my packet and within a few minutes I found Sue and Laci  and we sat in Sue’s car and talked. The conversation put me at ease and helped me to relax.

Before long,  it was time to head to the starting line. It was a surreal moment. I couldn’t quite believe I was going to run with about 100 other people. Laci headed towards the front of the group and I made my way to the back with Sue. Everyone around me seemed friendly and out to have a good time which helped to put me at ease. I actually felt rather calm once everyone started running. I knew not to go too fast and just to enjoy the run.

I felt the strongest the first two miles. I think it was the adrenaline. Knowing that Sue was right behind me the whole way gave me confidence to keep going. Around mile three the trail was steep and rocky. I had to slow down in order to be safe, my quads were getting tired from the long stretch of uphill running and  because of some foot problems my feet were beginning to hurt. Sue could tell when I was struggling a little and as if on cue, she would tell me I was doing great. After maneuvering what for me was the most technically difficult part of the trail, I enjoyed a nice stretch of mostly downhill run before I met my next challenge. The last mile and a half was not as steep or technical as the previous several miles but I was getting tired and every little uphill incline seemed like an entire mountain. I remember telling Sue ” OK, this is getting hard now.” That is when I saw Laci running towards me. Having Laci meet me on the last mile gave me strength to push forward when I felt like I could not run another step. She gave me a big smile and said ” I’m going to pace you. You’ve got this. ” I knew then that I really did. I pushed hard to the finish to see my sister waiting for me. In that moment I was so happy. Happy I ran, happy I finished. Happy I had support.

A 10k is not a marathon but for me it was a huge step in achieving things I never used to even dream of before. Mark, my trainer, prepared me well. He saw that I could do this run and he helped me to see it for myself. Now it is over and time to look forward. I am not sure exactly what my long-term goals are for running. I love being in nature and running on trails is a great way to see nature at its best. I am thinking I would like to try a half marathon in the future. Mostly, I want to become stronger as a runner and enjoy the adventure of seeing new trails. I will keep you posted.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Laura

Birthday Reflections: Bring On A New Year!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a great weekend.

Thursday was my 52nd birthday. Yep, I am another year wiser, healthier, and happier. I am also very excited to embark on another year of my life’s journey.

I was looking back at my 51st year and it made me smile. I had three major changes last year. I officially became Laura Kelly just days before my birthday so I started my 51st year with a new identity. Along with my new identity came a new position in a new school and my decision to start working with my personal trainer, Mark.

Becoming Laura Kelly was one of the best decisions I ever made. There’s something very empowering about deciding how the world will address us. For me, changing my last name fundamentally changed who I was on the inside. I like who I have become. I will go on record as saying ” A rose by any other name is looking for someone to come up with the name Rose.”

Changing schools has helped me to grow as an educator. If you had asked me back in November of 2013 if I wanted to switch schools I would have been hesitant to answer. I was very loyal to Hudson Academy. I still have the highest regard for that school and the staff. It is a group of highly effective, and dedicated teachers and amazing students. However, I think I had grown as much as I could grow in that environment and I needed a different demographic and different administration to push me forward. With a new school came new discoveries about myself as an educator and I feel as if I have grown immensely in my career over the last nine months.

Hiring a personal trainer is right up there with changing my last name as a really good decision I wish I had made sooner. Becoming physically stronger as I get older, proves that age is just a number and our achievements can continue to grow no matter what our stage of life. Mark Warburton is my trainer and in less than a year he has helped me become not only physically stronger but encouraged me to see myself in a different light. This past Saturday he was cheering me on as I did my push-ups. They were three-point push-ups with my feet stacked on top of each other while balancing them on a ball. He reminded me that when I started training with him I had to do push-ups on my knees. It is true when I first started training I mentioned I would like to learn how to do a decent push-up and then promptly panicked when he asked me to try a couple off my knees. There was no going back and I felt like I was going to die. I also remember begging Mark not to make me run a couple of laps around the track because I was terrified of running and it caused me pain. Now with his guidance I am signed up for my first trail 10k in May. Push-ups, trail running, all in a year’s time. I don’t think these are the kind of body changes women usually think of when they hit their 50th decade. They are, however, the changes that make life exciting.

So what is my vision for year 52 of my life? I envision a year of continued personal and physical growth. My friend and coworker, Cheryl,and I are committed to climbing our 1st 14ner this summer near Boulder, Co. Mark and I set a goal of a half marathon before the end of 2015 and I now have a bike thanks to my sister, Cindy, to ride this summer. I’m sure as the year unfolds I will find new things to try, explore, and experience. It will be fun to see what transpires. Most more importantly, I am looking forward to growing as a human being. Becoming more loving, more giving, and more inspiring as the year progresses.

As always, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Until next time,

Laura

Second Chances In Life

Happy Monday, everyone. I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was good. A little bit of yard work, a little bit of running, and some time with friends. 🙂

Saturday night I drove to Denver to celebrate the 20th wedding anniversary of my dear friend of many years, Leysa, and her husband Alan. It has been many years since I have spent time with Leysa but between the ages of 19 and 30 Leysa was not only my boss at KFC but one of my closest friends. Leysa and Alan go down in my book as one of the couples that I celebrate in finding love after divorce and heartache. 20 years ago Alan swept Leysa off her feet and he still treats her like a queen. It is obvious when Alan looks at Leysa that he believes himself to be the luckiest man alive.

At the celebration I found myself in the company of several other old friends and coworkers from my KFC days. Pete and his wife Sheryl,Tom and Marla. Pete and Marla, along with Leysa, had each been my boss at one time or another during my time at KFC and Tom was our district manager. At one point in our conversation Marla referred to the past as “the good old days” and then added “except you weren’t happy then, Laura.” Pete agreed. Earlier, Pete mentioned to me how good it was to see me so happy and enjoying life. To say I was miserable 20 years ago would have been an understatement. I was lost, confused,and didn’t know which way was up.I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole at KFC. Running a restaurant was never what I was meant to do and yet I tried to make it work for over a decade of my life.

As I sat at the table I began to think about second chances. Leysa and Alan’s second chance at love, my second chance in life, and how each of us has the power to set a new course for our life each and every day.

We have the opportunity to take what we have gained from our life’s experiences and use our experiences to grow and evolve to our fullest potential. Sometimes, we may find ourselves off course and we may find it necessary to re-invent who we are. I couldn’t have even conceived at age 30 the person I would become today. In many ways the person I was in 1990 does not exist anymore. I am a very different person both inwardly and in my outward appearance. This realization makes me excited to see who I will become in the future. I now know that second chances abound. In love and relationships, in careers, in health and fitness, and in dreams for the future.

Life is both beautiful and tough with amazing high points and devastating lows. We often second guess our decisions when we find ourselves in painful or difficult situations. If you ever find yourself lost or without direction in this world, just remember the next decision you make can be a decision for a new beginning. Life is always ready to give you a second chance. It may look different than the first time around but that is often a good thing.

A special thank you to Leysa, Pete, Marla, and all my KFC friends who supported me “back in the day”. I couldn’t have found myself and got on the path I was meant to be on without your friendship as part of my life journey.

As always, I would love to hear from you. Have you had some second chances in your life?

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Until next time,

Laura

Comforting Thoughts On The Use Of Language From Stephen Fry.

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to share a video Shannon Ables at The Simply Luxurious Life shared with her readers today.

I have mentioned before that one reason I hesitated on starting a blog was my fear of deficits in my writing. In school I was good with thoughts and ideas but I was very aware that I would make silly errors in my writing and often did not catch them even after several proofreadings. Spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, not to mention leaving out entire words, since my thoughts came faster than my hands could write or type, are all issues that made me feel less that capable to write for large groups of people. Don’t get me wrong, I received good grades in English and writing classes. However, I do believe that our command of language, both written and spoken, affects how successful we are in navigating through a multitude of social situations and ultimately can ensure how successful we are in our chosen careers. Not to mention our ability promote positive change in society through persuasive speech. I felt I was the queen of small writing errors. I wanted my writing to be perfect. Never mind that in order for my writing to be perfect every time meant that I needed to be perfect. That thought never crossed my mind. 🙂

So, if like me, you have ever worried about your command of grammar, typography, or the English language in general, sit back and enjoy this video narrated by Stephen Fry. A most eloquent speaking actor of high intelligence, in my opinion.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Until next time,

Laura

My Apologies For Being Absent And A Running Update

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope your weekend was beautiful and relaxing.

For the past year I have made great effort to post on a regular basis. The month of March proved to be a month of unexpected silence for me.The sudden absence from my usual writing had several root causes. Like many amatuer bloggers, time became a major factor in my ability to be consistent. I do realize I should have dropped a short note on my site to keep in touch with all of you and let you know that I would be back soon. I do apologize for not doing so. It is rather embarrassing to say but suddenly to keep writing on the blog as well as keeping up on the blogs and bloggers I love to follow seemed overwhelming. I want you to know that I appreciate you all very much. In addition to feeling overwhelmed, I have been experiencing a severe case of writer’s block. I actually have been at a loss for words recently. I would sit down on a Sunday night to write and I just couldn’t get my fingers to move. I wondered if I actually said everything I needed to say to the world. Well, I am writing tonight so I guess I have at least a few more sentences in me! 🙂  So there you have it, my confession of a blogger with a month of writer’s block. I am very happy to be back and touch with all of you.

For those of you who know I took up trail running for the new year, I have some exciting news. I signed up for my first 10K on May 17th. It is actually a little over 10k at about six and 1/2 miles. I am very excited and terrified at the same time. The comforting thing for me is the race is at a location I run on a regular basis, Devil’s Backbone, just west of Loveland, CO. Also, several of the people I workout with will be there as well. Still, I am nervous to be running with a large group of people. I don’t mind if I am the last to finish. I just hope I am not so far behind that everyone packs up and goes home 🙂 Large groups of people make me nervous. I am a bit of an introvert. Even so, I am going to go for it. I never would have imagined even as recently as last year that would try trail running and I certainly couldn’t foresee that I would sign up for a race. Sometimes when I am running down a hill I will pass someone running up and I will think ” Wow, look how strong they are running up that trail, it is so steep.” Then I will realize that I just ran up the trail a short time before. I used to move out of the way on the trail while hiking as runners approached me. Now, I see hikers move out of the way as I approach them and I realize ” Oh yeah, I’m the runner now.” I remember that my trainer said he believed I could do a half marathon by the end of the year. There are days that I can see it happening in my future and I am beginning to want to make that vision a reality. Slowly but surely I am growing into my identity as a trail runner. It is starting to feel pretty good.

Running is part of a bigger transformation taking place in my life. I am definitely in a state of transformation. It is exciting, it is scary, and it is about time. I wish I could tell you exactly how this transformation will unfold but I am not quite sure just yet. So for now I will just enjoy the journey both in my life and on the trail.

As always, I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by the blog.

Until next time,

Laura

Spring Cleaning: Clearing Out A Room And Finding Peace

Happy Monday, everyone! Snow has returned to my neck of the woods here in Colorado and it is cold. After temperatures in the mid to upper 60’s last week and even a day of low 70’s the snow is reminding me of how eager I am for spring to finally arrive.

For many of us the excitement of a new season is a great time to get down to some deep cleaning, removal of clutter, and simplifying our lives  so that we do not enter a new season bogged down baggage from the past. It is amazing how getting rid of things we no longer need frees us emotionally and spiritually as well.

Last year I came upon a really great practice when doing deep cleaning and I thought I would share it with you. Last spring I decided to take everything out of my bedroom so that I could wash everything from the walls to the baseboards and floor. When the room was empty I was amazed at how unattached I was to the room. It was empty of  “me”. There were no memories to cling to, just an empty room. For a moment I felt completely free. It was a wonderful feeling. I needed a place to sleep so little by little I put several items back into the room. However, I was very careful to put back only things I truly needed. I also picked a few select items that reminded me of people I love. This was a little more tricky because I wanted to be mindful that each object was like a contemplative piece to remind me of those I care about and special times in my life without putting undue attachment to the object itself. I did the same with my living room and fell in love with the simplicity of these two rooms. They are simple, clean rooms with objects that remind me of those I love.

So, if like me you are in a spring cleaning mood and ready to get rid of some clutter, the process is quite easy:

  • Take everything out of  a room and scrub it from top to bottom.
  • Look at your room as if it was a blank canvas and decide what items you would like to bring back for functionality. If you have ripped ottomans or a chair you never really liked, do not bring those items back into the room.
  • Look at your art and knick knacks. Bring back into the room a few very select items that have personal value to you and that you truly love and enjoy. Do not bring back in any art or knick knacks that mean nothing to you just to fill up space. These are just things to collect dust and drain you of energy. It is time to let these things go.
  • Be honest about book, CD, and movie collections. Most of us have dozens if not hundreds of such items that we will never read, watch, or listen to again. Honestly, if in five years you think you may want to watch that movie again, it will most likely be on Netflix or Amazon. No reason for you to trip over it or have to take it off the shelf to dust for the next 1,825 days.
  • Donate everything else and enjoy how peaceful and free your room feels now.

This is an ongoing process for me. I still have items that belonged to my mother that I do not know how valuable they are or if my nieces will want them in the future. Each year I get closer to my goals and I now have two rooms in my home I can honestly say “everything in this room has a purpose or meaning for me.” It is a great feeling. 🙂

As always, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Until next time,

Laura