Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Game of Hide & Seek

Disclaimer: as I attempt to put my thoughts into words, this will probably turn into a rambling of words, that I hope at the end will make sense.  And at times it may be gutwrechingly honest. Enjoy the ride!

It's not atypical that my day starts at 4:45 am as I head out the door to run, and wraps up around 9pm, as I walk in the door from a meeting after work.  I have given myself the title of professional volunteer. Before I go any further, let me clarify...I am NOT saying, and I do not want this post to sound like I am saying,  that I don't enjoy serving on the boards, for the organizations that I do; but I am overwhelmed.  Not happy with how I am spending my time.  I have been talking A LOT about guarding my time, and really reflecting on how & where I spend it. I only have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months a year...and let me tell you, those hours, days, weeks, and months are jammed pack.  


I think I have always determined how I serve my time based on the end result.  If an organization/non-profit serves a mission I believe in, then count me IN! But recently, I have become aware that the journey, to that end result, is not always fulfilling and a wise use of my limited & valuable time.  As a group of people come together to serve the same purpose, it doesn't guarantee that all of those individuals share the same goals, values, morals, work ethics etc.  I need to start guarding not only how I spend my time, but who I spend my time with. There are so many worthy causes to give to, and I need to choose wisely, so that both the day-to-day involvement and mission are a positive influence on & use of my time.  And what works for me, might not work for someone else, and vice versa. 

I believe the environments in which we immerse ourselves in have such an impact on us, whether we see it or not.  And unfortunately, some of those environments are toxic.  I DO NOT, in any form, want to come across as judgmental, but I need to avoid what I feel are toxic environments FOR ME! I have my own morals and values, and that is what I need to protect,  guard and respect


Earlier this month at FIGHT NIGHT Lindsey talked about how as Christians we often hide behind good things to avoid exposing our brokenness.  We hide behind the words "I'll pray for you" to avoid laking a leap of faith, into what could quite possibly be an uncomfortable, unknown & scary place. We hide behind good deeds to avoid exposing the pain, heartache, and imperfections of our lives. We hide from things that need to be exposed to God.  

We hide behind a busy schedule to avoid the fear of being lonely. To appear as if we have it all together.  To cover up our insecurities. To avoid the fear of letting others down or causing disappointment. THAT'S ME!


As I listened to Lindsey speak, after reflecting on how & where I spend my time, I realized I am hiding behind a busy schedule.  I genuinely enjoy volunteering and serving, but its reached a point that it's now my hiding place.  I am hiding from the fear of being lonely, facing insecurities, rejection, disappointing/letting others down.  I need to regain a healthy balance.  I need to say NO.  

My time is valuable. I am worthy of guarding and spending it wisely. 

It's OK for me to do things for ME. 

Lindsey then asked us, "How does it make you feel to know that God is right behind you, not only giving you permission to move forward but also cheering you on?"


I'm talking to YOU lady...he spoke you into being, he formed you with his hands, he created you specifically for something ONLY YOU can do...and he believes in you more than anyone!! Soak that in for a second. 


Starting small...

I would join the worship team at church. I can't sing, but I would love to strum my guitar up there.

I would be a "pro" at Dancing With The Rogue Valley Stars next year.

A little bigger...

I would return to Africa and spend time in the bush.  My time there blessed my socks off and left such a lasting mark on my heart.  I have a passion and deep desire to go back. And Lord willing, maybe someday bring home a child. 

And even bigger..

I am not sure.  Or I am not sure exactly what it would look like. Or perhaps I'm just not ready to share. 

But what I do know, is that I am ready to come out from HIDING behind good deeds, serving, giving, etc to SEEK exactly what it is that God created specifically for me to do.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Capturing Memories with a Qtip Jar

As the Roberts Family prepares to welcome a lil Roberts into the family, my mom has been taking a walk down memory lane, in search of baby photos of my brothers.  Along the way she has come across birthday cards addressed to Vern Roberts, 1212 Best Father's Ave, Daddysville, OR; a portfolio of my school work including a descriptive piece of writing where I go into great detail describing the sights, sounds & smells of a pool during a relay race; and family pictures from several generations back.  

This past Sunday I was up at my parents house for dinner and football {its a weekly tradition}, and we started going through all of the old pictures, memorabilia, etc.  We were roaring laughing, commenting on everyone's unique sense of fashion, remembering certain past times, and reflecting on the blessings of our lives.   

The evening captured the simple but profound love of our family. 

The pictures captured the true essence of each of our personalities. 

The pictures brought true meaning to #roadtobuns! I was blessed with thighs.

We spend our lives creating memories.  Experiences that we will remember for a lifetime.  But unfortunately, those memories quickly fade with time, as new memories and experiences begin to replace them.  We often use certain attributes to spark our memories...the smell of grandma's cinnamon rolls Christmas morning, our favorite childhood doll, a souvenir from a trip.  But nothing captures a memory better than a picture.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Baptism. So joyful for the Lord.  

As I was laughing, crying, reflecting, and just enjoying time with my parents, I started to think that future generations might not have this opportunity.  In an "e" world, most people have more Facebook albums than actual photo albums in their house. 

Create future experiences by capturing the moments of today's experiences. 

Print pictures.

Save artwork.

Keep those special cards.

Take embarrassing pictures that will eventually make people laugh so hard they cry.  Yes, my nickname was Tank. 

As we searched for and found a copy of what is perhaps my favorite Roberts Family picture, I noticed something special.  The candle holder on the coffee table is now the Qtip jar in my mom's bathroom.  

Capture life's everyday moments, save them, then spend time enjoying reliving them.

Capture memories with a Qtip jar.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Chicago Marathon #Roadtobuns: The Finish

Aye aye aye....I can't believe how long it has been since I have blogged! I have been living life to the fullest, which when added to a broken computer, makes it quite difficult to blog.  But, alas, I am back, to share my #roadtobuns Chicago marathon experience! 

Chicago was my 4th marathon and I went into it stronger, both physically & mentally, and more determined than any other marathon.  I was excited!!! I was excited to conquer the 26.2 miles.  For my training, I had the privilege of working with COACH, of Granato Racing.  He pushed me to new limits.  Helped me realize and tap into my true potential. Aided me in building self-confidence as a runner.

I landed in Chicago with 3 friends, confidence, increased speed, the greatest support team near & far, a training cycle characterized by dedication, commitment and growth, determination to overcome my personal struggle of running a marathon, a love for running I have never experienced before, and a pair of buns.

#Roadtobuns originally started as a joke over Google Chat, and quickly turned into something I was serious about. Committed to.  There was talk of lunges, squats and 80s style legs weights, but more importantly there was talk inside of me saying "I can do this!" #Roadtobuns was not about making a statement, proving something to others, or turning into someone worthy of buns, rather it was a journey to self-confidence in myself.  And for those of you who know me, the thought of running in my skivvies in front of hundreds of thousands of people was mortifying.  Seriously.  Slipping into the buns was symbolic of embracing ME.  I might not have the body of what I perceive to be a stereotypical runner, but I am a runner, and my legs carry me through hundreds and hundreds of miles, get me to the start of a marathon, and then to the finish. And that is something worth celebrating.

The #roadtobuns trio....I am beyond thankful for training partners near and far!

I can't begin to express my gratitude to everyone who supported and believed in me on my #roadtobuns! The encouraging text messages, calls, tweets, coffee dates, cards, etc meant more to me than you all will ever know! And where would I be without Jorge!? The official mascot of #roadtobuns, thanks to Meghan

Upon arrival in Chicago, following several delays, we headed straight to De Cero, where we were originally supposed to meet up with several other Oiselle Team runners.  

Holy guacamole, most amazing tacos ever! 

After dinner, we checked into our VRBO, got settled in and headed to bed for an early wake-up call! Mandy and I joined the folks of Bib Rave for a shake out run along lake front followed by donuts {of which I only had a bite}.  I love connecting with others from the running community! 

Reunited and it feels so good...just one of the many blessings of running, the people I have met who have become instant, genuine, life long friends.  

Nothing compares to the excitement and energy of the race expo.  It was great to reconnect with my friends from NUUN, get some course & "momma" advice from Kim, and sign the CHICAGO sign. 

Following the expo we headed back to our apartment for the rest of the afternoon/evening.  I reflected on my training and the journey to Chicago, visualized the course, and mediated on my marathon mantras.  I was confident. Excited.

Race morning had arrived! I was ready! We headed to the start, just blocks from our apartment, exchanged Goodbyes & Good lucks with Heather and Tess, and then headed towards our corral.  We entered our corral and I was excited! Ready to run MY race.  Ready to overcome the marathon hurdle.  As the countdown to the start began, I dropped my drawers,  wished Mandy good luck, and got into my zone.  I went into the marathon with an aggressive game plan, considering my marathon PR, but one that I knew I was capable of! The first couple miles flew by.  Around mile 10 I was anxiously anticipating the half way mark, where I was hoping to see Coach along the course.  Around mile 12 I plugged in and turned on my music {sooner than I had planned on, but I needed to switch things up}.  Up to this point I had nailed my hydration and fueling plan, and felt strong.  As I rolled through the half way mark, and approached mile 14, all of a sudden coach was running with me {did I mention I hadn't met him in person until this point!?}.  I was tired, mentally, as I focused on falling short on my splits AND the fact that I had 12 more miles to go.  Those few seconds of running with coach and some positive words gave me a much needed boost.  Things went well until mile 18...

I kept thinking of HOW MANY MORE MILES I had to run! It was mentally draining. But what I can say is, I persevered and fought harder than I have in any other marathon, and that is a victory.  I didn't completely give up.  While I had a mental game plan for the last 6 miles, it quickly turned into just keep going and FINISH! I kept my focus on the mile I was in, dedicating each mile to someone who has been a huge encouragement in my running, and used the energy of the crowd to stay focused on the finish. Mile 24-26 were characterized by the biggest smile as I was overcome once again with a phenomenal feeling of accomplishment, and the cheers from the crowd were beyond overwhelming. Not to mention, I saw a dear friend for the third time on the course and she jumped in with me for a few seconds! With tired, chaffing legs {note to self, accept the Vaseline at mile 20 when running in buns} I turned the corner to the finish overcome with joy and a 28 minute PR! 


Did I reach my goal time? NO! Did I accomplish what I know I am truly capable of? NO! But did I overcome a major barrier and build self confidence along the way? YES! And for that I will be forever thankful and grateful for.  I don't know exactly what is next, but more than likely it will include a spring marathon, as I continue to dig deep and run the race I know I am capable of.  

Every marathon finish deserves a huge celebration.  And what better way to celebrate than a trip to the Drybar with some of your best friends!?

She's gone country...

Followed by some of the best deep dish pizza in town! PEQUODS!

Monday was spent being tourists...


Tess, professional tourist

And my favorite part, navigating the city via public transit. 

CHICAGO,  an all around success, and a journey & trip I will not soon forget! It left a desire for more! More speed. More confidence. More marathons.  More traveling.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

AFRICA PART 3: Singita Sabora Tented Camp

How many pictures is too many for a blog post!? Well I think {and hope} its relative, especially when you are choosing from over 700 photos, to go into 3 blog posts.  I hope you enjoy this wordy photographic blog post. 

Amazing! Life Enhancing! Amazing! Phenomenal! Amazing! 

While blogging and talking with people about my trip to Africa, I have really struggled to come up with the right words to truly describe my experience, and then I came across a Facebook post by Through A Guide's Lens with James Sutter; he said it perfectly:

The African bush veld-how does anyone live without it? It touches your heart, feeds your soul, it lifts your worries and grounds you in a way that nothing else can.  May we always nurture and protect the wild earth that we live in. 

WE SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST. The third and final place we stayed at was Singita Sabora Tented Camp:  "situated in an untouched wilderness area of Grumeti Reserves, spanning 350,000 acres in northern Tanzania.  The intimate 1920s-style explorer's camp is permeated by a sense of nostalgic adventure.  Steeped in character, Singita Sabora Tented Camp surprises guests with an opulence that is delightfully out-of-place with the rugged terrain of the surrounding Savannah plains." The tented camp is insanely luxurious while at the same time capturing the true African spirit.  

We arrived at the Singita airstrip and had about a 30 min drive to camp, where we were greeted by staff, cool towels, a hand wash, our private butler for our stay {Moses} and later our guide, Alan.  

I'm not sure any of my pictures do the tents justice, they are over the top...huge and feature every amenity any luxury safari traveler could imagine.

Tent decor is 1920s...leaving us feeling as if we were part of the Out of Africa cast.  

The bathrooms are gorgeous-featuring a clawfoot tub, outdoor shower, double sinks, closet space, bathrobes, safe, hairdryer, toiletry items, and more.  

THIS was my favorite part of the tent...until I had a visitor {a mouse}

The daybed is a wonderful place to relax in-between game drives. 

Just a few baboons making their way through camp. 

Fitness center? Yes.  Very impressive.  I was disappointed I didn't pack my running shoes.

Tennis anyone?

Pool? Yes. 

Drinks.  An all-inclusive hot-air-balloon-basket bar serves everything, including premium liquor, beer & wine, and liqueurs.  

Food. The food is top notch; not only is it delicious, but the presentation is gorgeous.  It was here that I fell in love with chilled soups and enjoyed a daily cheese platter.

A day on safari
6:00am: Wakeup Call
6:30am: Coffee, tea and light breakfast pastries
6:45-7am: Leave for morning safari
8:30am: Coffee and snacks are served in the bush during the safari
11:00am-12:00pm: Return from safari and have either lunch or breakfast 
3:30pm: Meet in the lobby for tea, coffee, and snacks before heading out for the afternoon/evening game drive.  
6:30pm: Sundowner out in the bush. Enjoy the sunset and some light snacks & beverages
7:30-8:00pm: Return to camp to freshen up & head to dinner

DAY 1:

When we met at the lobby around 4pm for high tea, we were greeted by our guide, Alan.  I feel as if we were completely blessed to have him as our guide.  He worked for Singita for years, but now does guide training and private guiding, and just happened to be in Tanzania,  filling in for a few days.  Lucky us! 

As we headed out on our game drive, in hopes of seeing a cat, the first animal we spotted was a cheetah with his fresh {gazelle} kill.  We sat and observed as he gnawed away at the gazelle, close enough to hear him breaking through the tissue.  Quite an amazing site, sound and experience. 

We then found a pride of lions... a couple lionesses and their cubs.  Several were up in the tree and came down as the sun began to set.  As the sun continued to set, the pride made their way into the bushes in hopes of finding food, and we followed...

They found the remains of a wildebeest and went to town; growling, being aggressive, and fighting for their fair share.  Umm...this kind of freaked me out, as we had almost cornered them in there and I was afraid of what they might do to us in the OPEN vehicle.  I just might of jumped on Michael's lap.  Alan did a great job of keeping us calm {after we all let out a little scream}, and ensuring us that we were safe.  It was truly remarkable.  

As we headed back to camp, the dark clouds were alive with lightning and the light showers turned into a full fledged storm; luckily we made it back prior to getting soaked.  The wind and rain slapped up against the tent, creating quite a dark and eerie feeling.   We waited a while to head to dinner, in hopes of the storm letting up, but we finally made our way to the dining hall, trudging through what seemed to be a couple inches of water.  

My sleep that night was restless, to say the least, as I felt as if I was sleeping amongst a pride of lions. Luckily, it was just a male gazelle "rutting." 

Nothing beats an African sunset.

Day 2:  

At 6:00am I received my wake-up actual phone call! Yes, the tents have phones.  After enjoying coffee we headed out on our drive, setting out to find the pride of lions from the previous night.  We spotted a pregnant momma giraffe with her baby. 

Hanging out with lions never gets old. After spending a significant amount of time with this pride of lions, we heard of some baby lion cubs, so we made the long {but worth it} trek across the reserve.  

The male lions were so fascinating & majestic.

And led us to their cubs. 

For our afternoon drive we set out to find the leopard the other guests had spotted earlier that day.  The leopard was hard to see, and photograph, in the tree, but I was able to capture his kill. An 85-100lb gazelle, that he drug up into the tree.

That evening, prior to dinner, we played a game of speed scrabble with Alan {Swahili words were not allowed}.  Alan was in the lead, until he racked up 53pts the last round {the goals is to have the least amount of points}...such a fun evening.  During dinner that evening, Judy finalized her next trip to Africa...Rwanda and Botswana. 

Day 3: Lauren's Birthday


It seriously never gets old watching the lions roll around, paw each other, rub their noses together, etc.  

Our next mission was to find a leopard with her 2 baby pups.  Oh my, they were adorable...running around playing with one another.  

The main goal of our afternoon drive was to find the ellies...we had not seen any while in the Serengeti. As always, Alan knew exactly where to find them.  

7 Bulls

Another cheetah spotting.

Then our final sundowner.  This was one my favorite parts of the experience...a picnic complete with a mini bar offering anything you may desire and homemade goodies & snacks.  

Prior to dinner we enjoyed a {singing & dancing} performance around the campfire. Yes, I got up and danced! It was this evening that we truly fell in love with Jambo Bwana;  it made me so happy to hear Moses sing it for us. There was so much joy in his voice and facial expressions.  We dined poolside for Lauren's Birthday dinner, and then headed back to my tent for a little dance party {to Jambo Bwana, because yes, I downloaded it} and a fun time hanging out our last evening in Africa.  It was so wonderful to just hang out and chat...something the three of us don't get do much of anymore.  

Day 4:

The time had come to say good bye to Africa.  I was genuinely sad to be leaving, craving more time and adventures in Africa, and feeling like my life had truly been enhanced.   

A future BUFF.

Moses...his smile says it all. I will never forget him., with a passion for life in the bush, love of photography, personable & genuine personality, sense of humor, amazing bartending skills,  {thanks for introducing me to Amarula}, and a compassionate heart. Not goodbye, rather, until next time...

Back in the states I am enamored with everything Africa, listen to this recording of Jambo Bwana almost daily, and suffer from Khaki Fever

Africa holds a piece of my heart.

I yearn for a life of more simplicity, fewer worries, and a heart that finds joy in the basic essentials of this life.  Until next time...