Monthly Archives: December 2010

Recycling Your Holiday Cards

I just came across a grand idea that we can probably all benefit from.

Every year, between work and my personal life, I receive dozens of Christmas cards, and I’ve always wondered what to do with them at the end of the season. Some of them you’ll want to keep – the sentimental one with heartfelt note attached, the family picture of your little cousins playing on the beach, and the photo card of your friend’s precious little baby on Santa’s lap. But there are others, such as the Christmas card “signed” by a vendor in printed ink, that really aren’t necessary to cherish for the rest of time. I hate to be wasteful and toss the thoughtful gestures, and now I don’t have to, for I have discovered the perfect solution:

Donate them to the St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program!

They want your used cards! Not just the Christmas variety either, they take cards for all occasions. The children take part in making new cards by removing the front of the donated cards, doctoring them up a bit, and attaching a new back. Then they sell them, $10 for a pack of 10.  They learn the benefits of recycling, receive payment for their work, and have beautiful “green” holiday cards to show for their efforts!  And you can feel good about not sending your cards to the dumpster, all the while supporting a program at St. Jude.

This is genius! Mail your donations to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

It’ll make you feel warm and fuzzy inside!

 

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Tigers vs. Lucero

Based on the lack of traffic this morning, I think it’s safe to assume that I’m one of the few Memphians working today. But I’m unphased by this because tonight, my friends, tonight my Tigers play their biggest home game of the season AND my favorite band will be rocking the stage at Minglewood Hall. Win, win (we hope).

For several weeks, this scheduling conflict has caused much inner turmoil and wavering: Why oh why do they have to be on the same day? Which event shall I choose? How can I possibly miss the Georgetown game, to which I already have tickets? And yes, I’ve seen Lucero upwards of 50 times, but that doesn’t change how much I need to be at this show. And Cory Branan is opening; it’s been months since I’ve seen him.

Oh, the dilemma.

But now, I am simply choosing to embrace it. This night is too good and too full of possibility to approach it any other way. Although I will most likely be missing Cory Branan’s opening performance and the beginning  of Lucero, how can I not be one of the 20,000+ fans in the FedEx Forum screaming my face off for a Tiger victory? Considering that I’ve seen Cory and Lucero a ridiculous amount of times, I’ve decided this basketball game is too important to pass up. It pains me to miss even a second of the music, but I bleed blue, so this is the decision I’ve made, and I’m sticking to it.

So the plan is this: Enjoy the Tigers game. Rush to Minglewood Hall. Find that Cory and Ben didn’t want to start without me, and enjoy the full show.

In my dreams.

Let’s try this again: Arrive at Minglewood, join the friends, and jump in mid-show without missing a beat. A tolerable scenario, I’ll take it!

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Christmas Ramblings

1) I wish there was another ten days before Christmas. Not because I need more shopping hours, because I’m pretty covered in that arena, but because I just love this time of year. I want more days to enjoy the festive decorations, the Christmas tree with wrapped presents underfoot, the twinkling lights, and the holiday scents. It moves so fast, and I feel like I need more time to fully enjoy all the merriment of the holidays.

2) Last night, Jax and I listened to our friend’s spectacularly entertaining holiday compilation, A Very Lou Christmas, and it made me remember how fond I am of Christmas music, and how very little of it I have heard this year. I realize the marketers started with the Christmas hoopla in October, but somehow I have remained relatively unexposed to the merry music this year. And as of this morning, I’m making up for lost time. I’ve replaced my usual CDs with their holiday counterparts (including a stellar mix by the one and only Minda Jo), and my commute to work was full of good cheer. If you are in need of some fresh holiday music, here’s a handful of non-standard Christmas songs I recommend:

  • 12 Days of Memphis (Christmas) ~ Star and Micey
  • Christmas Lights ~ Coldplay
  • Happy Christmas (War Is Over) ~ John Lennon
  • Merry Christmas Baby ~ Otis Redding
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer ~ Jack Johnson
  • Wonderful Christmas Time ~ The Beatles

3) Speaking of music, my favorite of the Christmas songs is Baby, It’s Cold Outside. There are many versions, but my favorite might be the one with Zooey Deschanel. Or maybe Dean Martin. Either way, every time it comes on, Jax humors me with a duet, and it absolutely makes me giddy. The cute conversational melody and innocent flirtation make this such a fun song to sing with a partner.

Mel: I really can’t stay – Jax: Baby it’s cold outside
Mel: I’ve got to go away – Jax: Baby it’s cold outside
Mel: This evening has been – Jax: Been hoping that you’d drop in
Mel: So very nice – Jax: I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice

And this really is a true story, because my hands are always thirty degrees colder than the rest of my body. Fun fact.

4) This year, I was almost exclusively an online shopper. I’m new to this game, and I have to say, the convenience factor cannot be beat. Instead of fighting the massive crowds and insane traffic, I was comfortably browsing hundreds of web pages for my gifts. The downside, of course, is fretting over when the chosen items will arrive. Most have made their way home, but there are a few scattered across the country, and at this point, I’d really prefer them wrapped and under the tree.

5) My favorite Christmas movie, far and away, is Elf. Because smiling is my favorite, and because I like to make gingerbread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands. Will Ferrell was made to play an oversized, displaced elf; in fact, I do believe it was his calling in life. Somehow I do not own this movie, but I still find a way to watch this masterpiece multiple times per year, which absolutely cannot be done without a smile on your face. Say, who is up for a watch party?!

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The Art of Gift Giving

As Christmas fast approaches (and fast approach it does), I want to reflect on the art of gift giving. But first I want to reflect on the fact that this year is rapidly zooming by at warp speed. Did we skip a couple weeks of the calendar, or what?!? Where on earth did 2010 go??!

Every year around this time, I’m bombarded with the question: What do you want for Christmas? And every year, my answer is the same: I really don’t have anything in mind. And it’s true. I don’t make a wish list, and I hardly even give an ounce of direction (sorry, loved ones!). I’m just not good at asking for presents, it’s not in my DNA.

On the flip side, though, one of my favorite things about this holiday is the opportunity to GIVE. To me, it is not a chore or obligation. I do not feel burdened by it. In fact, I embrace it.  I enjoy coming up with unique gifts that perfectly complement my friends’ and family members’ personalities. Something that says, “You are worth my putting forth effort, I pay attention to you, and I know what you like.” It’s such an expression of thoughtfulness, such an intimate way to show somebody you care. It is so rewarding to brainstorm a special personalized gift, wrap it with love, and then watch the recipient’s face as they open it. 

Giving is an opportunity to express love, so keep that in mind this year as you are battling the crowds, and later when you are two feet deep in wrapping paper and can’t find the tape because it mysteriously and inevitably goes missing every three minutes!  

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Finishing the Marathon

Picking up at mile 20. (For the first 20 miles, click here.)

Wade and I are running along, conversing, but mainly just trying not to focus on the intense muscle cramps we are developing.

Around mile 21, we come up on Allie’s sister, and she joins us in our quest for the finish line. We press on, but we were HURTING. As in, every muscle fiber in our legs is painfully spasming, and it feels like we could fall out at any moment. Thoughts going through my head during the last few miles include:

  1. It feels like I’m running on perpetual charley horses.
  2. Do you think we can make it?
  3. My legs feel like a cross between jello and stilts.
  4. This is so hard.
  5. I could easily curl up into a ball and pass out on the sidewalk right now.
  6. It is dangerously possible that my calf muscles roll up and detach from the bone at any given moment.
  7. Remind me again why I signed up for this?
  8. Please make it stop.
  9. Maddie, Maddie, Maddie, Maddie.
  10. How much further?
  11. Where is the @#$% finish line?

At some point along the agonizing North Parkway stretch, some of our dependable cheerleaders inform us that Allie is just a few yards behind, so we slow down and she speeds up, and around mile 24 we are all reunited. This may not sound amazing, but it really, really is. Of all the runners out there, and the fact that we all ran separately and at different paces, what are the odds that we would meet up before the end?!? It was totally a God thing, and it was awesome.

The last couple miles felt like an eternity and tested every ounce of mental and physical endurance we had, and then some. We encouraged each other along, and when we finally approached the stadium (what a glorious sight!), we ran our last little stretch hand-in-hand and crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 40 minutes, and 50 seconds. It was emotional, beautiful, incredible, and exhausting, and I am so thankful to have finished my first marathon in such a memorable way.

 

And I know I’ve said that I refuse to do another marathon, but now that I’ve put a few days worth of space between me and the race, I’m sorta kinda thinking I would maybe consider it.

In the distant future.

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St. Jude Memphis Marathon

I awoke at 5:30am, taped up my foot, donned my running gear and Heroes singlet, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and headed out the door to corral 8. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised and bombarded with friends and family, and it made my heart happy. We took the obligatory we-are-about-to-run-a-marathon pictures, and then Allie and I settled into line and said a prayer. We were nervous, excited, anxious, pumped, and had absolutely no idea what the next 26.2 miles held for us. 

 

Allie and I ran pretty steadily the first several miles. Once we got past the crowds on Beale and the precious children at the St. Jude campus, we turned on our headphones and buckled down, probably a bit too fast. At mile 8, Allie was having an uncharacteristically hard time and encouraged (well, more like forced) me to forge ahead on my own. I unwillingly continued on solo. And on and on and on. I watched wistfully as the half marathoners broke away, but still I trekked on.

I ran roughly 8 miles by my lonesome, determined to finish this race if it was the last thing I did. By some stroke of sheer luck, I caught up to my boys around mile 15, which turned out to be my saving grace. Gaining a running buddy at this point was crucial. Wade continued ahead with me, which made the rest of the run so much more pleasant. And I use the word pleasant loosely here, as running nonstop for 18 miles isn’t the most comfortable thing one can do. Up until mile 18, I ran solidly, but from there, we started walking through the water stops. Not that I’m complaining, as things (such as putting one foot in front of the other) were getting pretty tough at this point.

They say that running a marathon really comprises two separate races: the first 20 miles, and then the last 6. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but now that I have endured it, I understand. Oooh, do I understand. With that being said…check back tomorrow for my rundown on the final 6 miles!

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Running a Marathon

is brutal. Agonizing. Nothing I had read or heard even remotely prepared me for how difficult it was. I knew to expect a great deal of physical and mental discomfort, but I was unaware of just how unbearable those last 5 miles would be. It is an act of God that I finished that race, and even more so the way in which I finished it, which really was pretty miraculous for all parties involved. In my next blog post, I will reveal just what that means, as well as rehash all 26.2 miles in gory detail.

I still have not fully wrapped my mind around the fact that I ran a marathon. I ran a marathon. It is unfathomable, and it almost feels like a dream/nightmare when I think back on it. Did I really do that?

Two days later, I am still in a world of pain; every fiber of my being hurts. Walking is difficult, the act of sitting makes me grimace, and going down stairs nearly brings me to tears. Even sleeping hurts. Once I am a bit more removed from the pain I might feel differently, but as of now, I declare that I am not running another marathon. I’m told my feelings on the matter will change as I regain mobility and forget the discomfort, but as for now, I am hurting, and I am not inclined to even entertain the idea of putting myself through another round of torture.

For now, I’m taking a mini running break. I am instructed not to work out for the next week, and that is exactly what I’m going to do. I will resume running at the start of the new year, but as for now, I *plan* on giving my body some solid recovery time. And I must say, it’s a nice change of pace.

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Mental Diversion

Tomorrow is the big day. After weeks of training, adjusting, fretting, praying, icing, trusting, sweating, and envisioning, marathon day has finally arrived. I’ve read that it’s important to relax and think about anything other than the marathon the day before the big race, and since writing is such a release for me, I’ve decided to use it as an outlet to post on anything other than running.

After I write about running.

AAAHHhhhhhh, I am SO EXCITED!! I cannot believe I am running a MARATHON in the morning! I’m excited, nervous, unsure, and so thankful for all the love, encouragement, and support you guys have given me! All of the cheers from the sidelines are a large part of what will get me through this race. And let me just say, it’s a good thing I don’t run marathons every weekend, because I am unable to focus on ANYTHING else today.

Now that I have that out of my system, here are some miscellaneous ramblings to keep the thing I’m not supposed to be thinking about off my mind.

Grace. I am being increasingly humbled as I learn what God’s grace is, and what it means. Sometimes we like to feel as though we are above God’s grace, that we are pretty good people and really have no need for it. I am learning that is called pride, and it is a slap in grace’s face. We are all depraved humans and we all need grace. I am so thankful for this gift that I didn’t earn and don’t deserve, but that I have been given freely.

The Grizzlies. Currently at 8 – 11, my Grizz have kept me on an emotional roller coaster, as usual. Case in point: they squeezed by with a win against the Lakers on Tuesday night, and then followed it up with a three-point loss to the  Hawks the next evening. They have a knack for making the last two minutes of every game the most intense, histrionic, emotionally frazzling experience possible, but I love them just the same. And I would faint with happiness if they made it to the playoffs this year. Fingers crossed.

Harry Potter. I was resistant for a long time, but last year I caved and read the series, and I was floored. The books are phenomenal. As you get deeper into the stories, you discover that they actually deal with some very adult themes and are loaded with fascinating symbolism and underlying Christian ideals. Having said all of this, am I the only Harry Potter fan who can’t seem to get in to the movies? I watched the first one and half of the second, thought the acting was sub-par, and threw in the towel. All of my Potter-loving friends say that I must give them another try, and I’m willing to do so, I’m just not entirely enthusiastic about it. But I’m on a mission, and this winter I plan on sitting down with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and giving them a chance for redemption.

Nicknames. Remember waaaay back when, when I told you about how my friends have dedicated a sizeable portion of their thought lives to manipulating my name into clever nicknames? Keen souls that they are, they’ve come up with a handful of new ones: Melaroni and Cheese, Melly Bean, Melerella, and if they want to talk, they just call me on the Melephone. If you are lost, read this post  to get up to speed.

 

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We Did It!

I want to double and triple thank those of you who donated to my St. Jude Heroes fund! Together, we raised over $1,000, and every dime of it goes toward finding cures and saving the lives of children fighting cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

It was through the generosity of you, my family and friends, that I was able to reach this goal, and I am 100% positive that your support will serve as much-needed encouragement as I’m racking up the miles on Saturday.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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Am I Really Doing This?

I’m going into the marathon this Saturday undertrained, tenderfooted, and without an inkling of an idea as to how I will do. As promising as this sounds, I’m still optimistic. Perhaps even delusional, as I still envision myself crossing that finish line running on two healthy feet. The reality of it is this: if I complete this marathon without walking, it will be nothing short of miraculous.

Not that I’m not up for the challenge, because I totally am. I am so excited for this marathon. I exceeded my goal of raising $1,000 for St. Jude, I’ve done the training and tapering, and now I’m ready to run this thing!!

Throughout my training, subsequent injury, and forced time off, my expectations for the marathon have evolved. The transformation has looked a little something like this:

1) This distance should not be legal.

2) I just want to finish. That in itself is a worthy accomplishment.

3) I will not walk; I will run every last step of the race.

4) Not only will I run every step of the way, but I will do it at a consistent 10 minute per mile pace.

5) I want my left foot not to explode on or before race day.

6) I hope I am healthy enough to even start the race, let alone finish it.

7) I am going to go out there and have fun. The rest will work itself out on race day.

And the countdown begins. Only 3 days left until I’m lining up in my corral, saying a prayer, and setting out for a comfortable 4 to 5 hour run. Nothing like it.

I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

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