Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Love this quote.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

--the inscription on the wall of Mother Teresa's orphanage in Calcutta

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A new name for a new year

My sister Kate is a brilliant artist. She can draw something funny, or tender, or heartbreaking, or evocative, or abstract. She has created beautiful and clever pieces of art since she was tiny, and I have always been a fanatical fan.

I have had the distinct privilege of convincing her to bring to life an idea of mine--an idea for my blog, along with my new title. She is responsible for the clever, humorous, cheerful and brilliantly executed portrayal of my idea--which you now see on my header!

So--introducing the new title: LuLu.

A little background might be good.

When my mom was pregnant with me, she enjoyed the idea of naming me Charlotte or perhaps Hannah. When I was born, however, it was immediately clear (how?) that I was not Charlotte, and not Hannah. My dad suggested they name me after my aunt--Rachel--and after a phone call to her, I was given my rightful name.

My nickname, Rae, was a natural off-shoot of Rachel, given that it was what our great-grandmother, Anna Rebecca, was called for short; it was also my aunt's nickname. It fits us to a "T". With all these Rachels and Raes, you can imagine there would be a little bit of confusion. Enter Lulu.

When I was about 4 years old, standing in the kitchen in the house in North Carolina laughing with my mom, I said something silly, and she laughed and said, "Oh, you little Lulu." I was in hysterics. I loved it.

It stuck. When reunions rolled around, it seemed only natural to differentiate between me and my aunt by calling me the darling nickname of Lulu. And it became as natural to me as Rae and Rachel. I might even go as far as to say that Lulu is the name that makes me feel most a part of my family--immediate and extended. It sums up, for me, all the happier things about myself--my silly side, my soft side, my motherly side.

*As a fun sidenote, the name means "warrior". That can't hurt!

Not to say that the name change suggests I didn't like Creative Catharsis. I was just ready to change it. I like that Lulu leaves it open to whatever I write--not just creative writing or venting.

So: Into the new year I go!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Change is in the air.....

Pretty soon, a big change is coming to my blog!

My blog will no longer be called Creative Catharsis....I think that the purpose of my blog has changed, and I'm tired of the mouthful that is that name. (Basically, I am boring myself.) I'm working towards something simpler, and something

Just you wait! ("Just you wait, 'Enry 'Iggins, just you wait!" Name that musical...)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


May I tell you a little bit about my sister? She's on my mind today. She, her wonderful husband, and her beautiful four little girls, will be coming to visit on Sunday, and they will stay for Christmas and the New Year. It's going to be chaos, and I am BEYOND excited!

If you know Abby, you really can't help but love her. She is generously friendly, and always interested--interested in people, places, progress.

This may not sound like a really great compliment, but--she is useful. I like to refer to her as a researcher. If I call her and say, "Abby, such-and-such happened and I'm wondering what could be the reason", she is Googling in no time, or drawing upon her pre-existing wealth of knowledge, hammering out an answer, sometimes long after I've given up.

Abby is also an incredibly good listener. When she listens, you can feel that she is patient and will allow you to emote until you are blue in the face. Then she is first, compassionate. Second, practical. And third, determined. So that whatever issue you were venting about has suddenly become not an issue, but a plan of action.

When we are together, we lift each other up. Our more-mundane mothering duties become less burdensome. We are joyful in our labors. We laugh until we cry. Or we cry until we laugh. :)

Abby is resistant when people call her Superwoman, which happens quite often. (You'd call her that if you knew her, too...) She feels that it conveys some idea of being unattainable or above the rest, and she doesn't care for that at all. But when I call her Superwoman, what I am really thinking is that she
stretches. When she doesn't want to, she does it anyway. When she is tired, she keeps going. Despite the fact that she already has four little souls depending upon her for their health and happiness, she stretches, so as to gather more into her large circle. (At this point, I'm thinking perhaps I should call her Elastigirl?)

She walks to the library, to the post office, to the park--with her four girls, who she home-schools. When people stare at her stupidly because she has two babies in a double stroller, one held close to her in a baby carrier and one walking alongside, she smiles and stares right back, happy and unabashed.

She sits in the doorway of her daughters' bedroom each night to read to them and sing to them as they drift off. At first they are restless, but she is still, and then they are asleep.

Although Abby is my older sister, she is vulnerable enough (and humble enough) that she will call me and cry if she needs to. And because I learned it from her, I can listen and help her come up with a plan of action that will dry her tears and help her be hopeful again.

Abby played the soundtrack of my formative years. When I was 5 and she was 8, she sat at the piano, practicing primary songs while I laid under the piano bench, staring at her calves and picking on her; she played on, unperturbed. When I was 10 and she was 13, she played romantic songs that I could sing to--songs that made me dream and feel grown-up and beautiful. (Les Mis, anyone? Phantom of the Opera?) And tested me on my knowledge of TV show intro songs. (I was good, really good.) And when I was 15 and she was 18, she played Gershwin and Debussy and Chopin in the livingroom while I laid on the couch, listening, crying and daydreaming and finally letting go. When I listen to the music she played during all my growing-up years, I can see her playing, and she isn't far away.

Abby, whatever drove me to write this particular post today, as unrefined and unedited as the writing is, I just want you to know that I love you--and how I love you.
(The woman herself...)Her beautiful work:
(As my grandma would say, "You do good work, honey....")

And her biggest fan, this man

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sinus Surgery: So easy, even a caveman could do it?

Sometimes we have to do really crappy things to get to the non-crappy stuff. Today Phill had sinus surgery (really crappy) so that he can breathe freely (non-crappy).

It was a multi-faceted approach. They righted his deviated septum, the result of a volleyball injury (back of someone's head + Phill's nose) more than a decade old. They removed a huge (in the doctor's words) bone spur. And they cleaned out his sinuses.

I was grateful to have my dear friend Sarah and my other dear friend Ciera helping me with babysitting/picking up Reed from school, so that I was able to go to the hospital alone to pick up Phill. When I saw him, the first thing that came to me was, and please forgive me because I think my husband is incredibly attractive, THIS guy:
With a stint in each nostril, his nose was (as he would say) like a two-car garage. His eyes were closed, and his ridiculously long eyelashes were plastered to his cheeks, splayed out for me to ogle and envy. Under his nose is a sort of gauze moustache. I said, "You look sexy." I don't think he believed me.

True to form, he cracked jokes while we got him ready to go home. He continued cracking jokes, and actually, hasn't really stopped. Phill is a lover and a joker by nature....and apparently, percocet only enhances these qualities. He is a good patient, although I have to be quite bossy. (It's good for me. Hones my assertiveness skills.)

So now here I sit, my dishes finally done (dear dishes: i hate you. never come back. not-sincerely, rae.), my floor vacuumed, my children asleep and my husband rests, wheezing away with his musical nose, finally getting some Zzz's after his prehistoric day.

One thing I would like to add, in teeny-tiny print because I am still feeling sheepish about it? Do not schedule a carpet cleaning the same day your husband has surgery. Dumb idea, okay? Just....stupid. There is no time for things such as that on days such as these.

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Cuz every little gonna be alright...."

Here is what Phill tells me when I cry like I did last night, discouraged to the point of distraction:

One thing at a time.

He says it gently, with kindness in his eyes, and his hand going through my hair, and it works like a charm. Takes me from 10 to 1 in no time, every time.

So today, I am addressing one thing at a time. Right now, I am thinking about the distractions I have (cleaning house, running errands, paying bills) and the distractions I give myself (the computer.....the computer. THE COMPUTER). And I realize that much of the stretched-too-thin feelings I have could be dissipated if I focused on what needed to be done--when it needed to be done. Free myself from distraction, from the things that tend to get me feeling like I am unavailable.

So, sweet friends, today I am not going to look at Google Reader, Facebook, or my email until my children are in bed.

Maybe I'll be really extreme and even turn off the computer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

WHOA is me....

I just would like to say that this is how I feel today:
And I would also like to say, because oh MAN am I feeling it today:
I am longing for the days when the carpet is not used as a toilet by anyone.
I am so mentally/emotionally tired that even writing this post is taking a painful amount of brain cells.
Today was just in my face. Just WHOA. WHOA there.....steady.
I will sob with joy the first time the kids go more than 30 minutes without some fight about something.
If I still have all my hair by the time I am 27, I will be pleasantly shocked.

And lastly.....
Oh, how I love my children. How they exhaust and challenge and stretch my patience, causing me to have to grow in the most uncomfortable inconvenient ways....and oh, how I love them for it.
And tonight when I finished helping Reed finish his homework (last minute, at 9:00p.m., because we enable each other's slacking tendencies), and he called to me from his room when I was IN THE BATHROOM FOR CRYING OUT LOUD and I was so tired and so done that I barked out, "WHAT! I AM IN THE BATHROOM!" and he answered, "Thank you for helping me with my homework".....I almost cried from shame.

It's just that today is one of those days--one of those days when I am weary. So for now, I'm just letting the water works come. It's all good....this too shall pass, within me there is a peacefulness that cannot be disturbed, I am not this feeling, yada yada yada. Sometimes I just need to cry like a baby. And blog like a baby.
*Dear Foleys, thank you for the use of your darling baby in this totally self-piteous post. For the record, he is the cutest crying baby ever--WAY cuter than when I'M crying. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reed and Jax

Somewhat telling....Reed in the waves and Jaxon approaching cautiously. :)

More CA blogging/photos to come, and you can check out my Facebook page, too, if you're impatient.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mommy Mantra #6: I Am Not This Feeling

I needed to remind myself today that I am not Stress, I am not Frustration, I am not Selfishness. I am Rae--who sometimes (or often) feels stress, frustration, or selfish. Enjoy the quote!

"Sometimes feelings set in for extended stays, as with depression. Or for some of us, we have habitual and reflexive ways of dealing with certain events...I am not this feeling [liberates us] from having to react to the situation in [our] old conditioned way. Of course, if you are telling yourself you're an anxious person, you'll act anxiously. One would anticipate angry people to react with anger. But reminding yourself that you are larger than any given emotion offers the potential to react with a greater spectrum of responses. It's easy with the enormous and often uncivilized demands of mothering to overidentify with our emotions and label ourselves as angry, fed up, or stressed. And while these may be a part of who we are at any given moment, the truth is that we are also much more...there is another way of perceiving our emotions and ourselves."

Pages 27 &28, Mommy Mantras by Bethany E. Casarjian, Ph.D. & Diane H. Dillon, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Allergy FYI

A couple of weeks ago, when Jaxon came to me after class at church, he told me he was itchy. I figured he was hot in his clothes. We got home, and for about two hours, he said nothing more about it. Then he came to Phill with red cheeks and said, "Dad, my body itches."

Phill helped him undress, and lo and behold--he had hives on his back, his stomach, legs, waist (especially at the back), chest, and face--especially the cheeks. We were perplexed and mildly alarmed. We wondered if his treat in Primary had caused this, but didn't get an answer when we called his teachers.

So then we wondered about other things--had he been in contact with some sort of strong soap? Had a bug bit him? Had we fed him something new? The answers to all three, as far as we knew
--no, no, no.

We decided to give him a half-dose of Benadryl.
Wouldn't you know--the hives went away completely. So we knew that we were dealing with an allergic reaction of some sort....we just had no clue what it was. The hives did return that night. And the next day. And the day after that. They always responded with Benadryl, and they weren't covering a huge portion of his skin.

Anyway, 3 days in, I finally realized that the hives were where his clothes touched him most--on his back towards his armpits. At the waistband of his underwear. On his cheeks, where his shirt would brush his face as I brought it down over his head. On his calves where his jeans touched his skin. I called my grandma (the Allergy Queen) to run our theory by her, and with her confirmation, decided it must be the new laundry detergent we had just purchased. Tide with lavender.

I lamented to my grandma that I'd have to throw out or give away an entire box of detergent, but she told me I could just give the clothes an extra rinse and be fine.
And guess what? She was absolutely right. We've not had another hives incident since.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


The beginning of my dear friend Cara's most brilliant blog,

The D.I. Denizen

It is pure genius! Seasoned thrifters, beginning thrifters, and curious passersby--you HAVE to see this awesome blog!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Photo Overload Part II: Staheli Farms

I'm sure lots of you have already seen most of these on my Facebook page, but I thought I'd put them up here, too. Just for kicks. :)

First up are photos from our visit to Staheli Farms, where we got to enjoy a playground (with corn!), a pumpkin patch, farm animals (that the kids refused to touch), and a corn maze.

Photo Overload, a.k.a., Playing Catch-Up: Halloween

I wasn't even going to dress up for Halloween, until Phill told me HE was planning on it...and then I quickly came up with June Cleaver, using stuff I had on hand (interestingly enough), except for the pearls and my lipstick. :) And the fake eyelashes.

Now, Phill....Phill, being the jokerster that he is....Phill's good friend, local radio personality Jon Smith, kept telling Phill that he should be the Brawny paper towel guy for Halloween. But Phill didn't like that idea, and chose, instead, to dress as our very own.....(drumroll, please)....JON SMITH! Jon's face when he saw Phill was priceless. He is very rarely surprised, and he was beyond surprised. Here are pictures for comparison. Hard to see in the first photo, but Phill actually put black makeup in his hair to take the transformation even further.

Savanna was an ornery (and tail-less) kitty.

Jaxon, our ninja. He's good at mysterious.

Reed, a pirate. Not entirely sure what he's doing here? One of only a couple photos I got of him--he was raring to go and only lightly humored me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Well, bless my soul! (Say it with a Southern accent. It will sound better.) I have been given the Honest Scrap Award from my fellow blogger, Rae!

That's right--Rae. We share a name, as well as an interest in blogging and photography, and a willingness to serve with the Scouts when asked. (Examine the last part of that sentence closely. I am delicately phrasing my true feelings about that particular calling, which I have had no less than three times.)
Rae is funny, easy to get along with, hard-working, creative, and kind. She is definitely one of my favorite bloggers!

So along with the award, I have some responsibilities.

1) I must thank the person who gave the award and list their blog and link it.

2) Share "10 Honest Things" about myself.
3) Present this award to 7 others whose blogs I find brilliant in content and/or design, or those who have encouraged me.
4) Tell those 7 people they've been awarded HONEST SCRAP and inform them of these guidelines in receiving the award.

10 Honest Things
About Me

1 - I hate when men have long nails. As in a teensy bit of white showing. Call me picky or old-fashioned--I just don't like it! I like a man's hands to look...MANLY.

2 - Last week I bought a shirt designed by Miley Cyrus (or the designer they picked to make things that Miley could put her name on).

3 - I make up random (and ridiculous) songs a lot. When I was still at home, my sisters (okay, just the younger sisters) and I made up songs on the fly quite often. My personal favorites: "Do You Like My Black Shirt? I Do" and "Do Your Armpits Smell Like..." (I will not finish the rest of that title.)

4 - I still sometimes dance like a crazy person when I'm all alone in my room. Once Phill walked in, and I almost cried with embarrassment. Sweet man that he is, he just smiled. The biggest smile I've ever seen. As in: If I don't keep smiling hugely, I will be laughing within seconds.

5 - My first job was on an Army base in the security clearance section. I got to ogle cute soldiers (and sometimes read their files), read mysteries, email friends, and listen to U2.

6 - I love shopping at D.I., but I'm telling you, there is a smell, and it is weird, and I do have to concentrate a little to forget about it when I walk in. It's worth the good deals, though.

7 - I often wish that I had an incredibly useful skill (besides photography and, well, baby-rearing), and every time I go past the crafts book section of Barnes & Noble, I am stalled for a good 30 minutes, dreaming of the new talent I will acquire. "Oooooo, beading!! I will have beaded pillows decorating the whole house!" -or- "Basket Weaving! I will have an Etsy shop and a booth at the fair and a whole BUSINESS of basket weaving! Underwater, even!" -or- "How to Become a Carpenter in 30 Days?! I WILL become a carpenter! I'll build EVERYTHING for the house!" True, I am ambitious and interested and idealistic. Most of these ideas fall flat right out of the gate, but one day, I am sure I will find a new endeavor that will latch on with ferocity.

8 - I LOVE notebooks. Paper of all kinds, really, but....notebooks. Which are a close cousin to books--just gloriously blank. I have to resist the urge to buy every moleskine notebook I see, every attractively-decorated journal, every package of pretty paper. It is bad. Very bad. I have banned myself from notebook-buying for a couple of years at a time when it was discovered (by a somewhat-shocked Phill) that I had no less than 15 unused notebooks. "Sweetheart, what do you even need these for?" "I don't KNOW! But I WILL need them! Soon! For something!" It is my only tendency towards packratism. Otherwise, I am ruthless in the amount of things I keep "just in case". *Okay. Pencils, too, and pens, and honestly, pretty much all other office supplies.

9 - Sometimes I snort when I laugh.

10 - I come from a rich family tradition of reading aloud to each other. We love to do various voices, and get into the story in an almost comical way. One of my favorite memories is a Christmas at my grandma's house (I think I was 15?) when my brother Isaac read Harry Potter aloud to my younger sisters and I. His voice for Snape was so perfect, so oily, so snake-y. It made us laugh--and him too--every time it came up. My oldest brother, Reed, used to read Roald Dahl books to us when I was little--about 7. His voices were perfect, too. The BFG is one of the first books I remember having read to me, aside from The Book of Mormon and a simple school book.

Now--you seven whom I have nominated:

My brilliant brother-in-law, Eric, over at LDS Prosperity

My beautiful friend and smashing photographer, Marie at MAG GAB

The mother to three beautiful girls and a dear friend, Cyndie at The Secret Lives of Tracys

Another photographer friend (watch out, it's contagious!) of mine who has actually known me since I was born, and is more family than friend--Christy at Life with the Schnegel-kins

My cousin, who continues to inspire me with her own personal growth and progress, Annie at The Delights of Our Lives

My sister, Abby, who manages to post just what I need, when I need it. Check out a particularly humorous post on her blog, Business As Usual.

And lastly--not leastly--Lara at Overstuffed. It's good stuff, people. And she always welcomes new readers, so hop on over and say hi.

I don't like the fact that it only let me nominate 7.
There are quite a few more I would have liked to link to--so if you don't see yourself on here, count yourself nominated, anyway, please.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet Sleep

For the last couple of weeks, I have been totally sucked in by books. Sometimes for weeks I can't find anything that draws my interest much. And then I'll have a good long period of time when I hit the jackpot, and all I want to DO is read, read, read. (The Hunger Games) (Icy Sparks)

Because I have hit upon a couple of good books, I have been staying up a little later than normal to read. Okay, much later than normal. Fine. 2 hours later than usual. Which means that I get out of bed feeling like my body is still asleep. (It probably is.) And then I feel cranky until 5:00p.m., and choose to be silent all day, instead of saying the really cranky things I'm thinking.

Anyway--last night, I finally felt the full effects of all my missing sleep. As I read, my eyes began to cross. The letters on the page started to swim around, and I knew that if I didn't put the book down and close my eyes, I'd fall asleep with it in my hands. So I decided to go to sleep....and was still thinking about the book when I fell asleep, but fell into the deepest sleep I've had for a very long time.

When I woke up, feeling oddly....good....I realized that I hadn't heard my alarm go off. I had a moment of panic before I realized that I still had about 20 minutes to get Reed breakfast, lunch made, and out the door for school.

Then I realized that I had slept nine hours. No wonder I felt so good! Not necessarily jumping around with joy, but I felt happy, able to face the morning. We know this is NOT my typical morning feeling. My mom gave me a book once entitled Joy in the Morning, and handed it to me with a smile, saying, "Isn't that title funny?" Yes. Yes, that is hilarious. Joy? In the morning? Sure.

And I'm sure my happy mood has nothing to do with the fact that I recently acquired more sleep-stealers--Catching Fire and The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Well....a cookbook won't keep me awake. But it will provide me with some food to munch on while I read.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Quotables: It's been a while!

Yesterday, while I made dinner, the boys sat at the table asking each other What's Your Favorite questions. I listened quietly, not wanting to interrupt and make them shy or change their answers. I overheard:

Jaxon asks Reed, "What's your favorite birthday present?"
Reed answers, "Um, I really want a toot bag! Then I can make toot sounds." (It took me a second to realize that he was talking about a whoopie cushion, and then I was just trying not to let him see me laughing. I was facing away from him with the hugest smile on my face.

Reed asks Jaxon, "Who's your favorite dad?"
Jaxon answers, "Phillip."
Reed laughs and says to me, "Phillip! Hahahah...."
And then Jaxon says matter-of-factly, "Cuz that's the dad we're 'upposed to have!"

Reed asks Jaxon, "What's your favorite rock 'n roll guy?"
Jaxon answers, "Mmmmm.....Jimi Hendrix." Except he says Hendwix, which is so cute I can hardly stand it, and I go into the pantry to laugh quietly.

Savanna is constantly making up songs. Right now, she is at the table, eating cereal and singing, ""

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Next (drumroll, please)

I've relaxed on the couch since the marathon. I was pleased to find that after day three, I really wasn't sore anymore! Then I went for a run a week after, just a little 2-mile run, and let me tell was ugly. I felt SO uncoordinated, SO stiff, SO slow, and just really out of it in general. And then I was very, very sore the next day. Like painful-sore. So I have rested some more, not all that unwillingly!

But I have decided I need another goal to keep me running/working out/not sitting on the couch all the time doing nothing but eating Halloween candy way before Halloween.

I found my next goal:

Some runners have the mistaken belief that the 5K is an “easy” race because of its relatively short distance. If you have run a 5K at the best pace you can you know that statement is very far from the truth. Performing well at the 5K distance requires a mix of speed, speed endurance, strength, running economy and mental toughness that can only be obtained through a well structured training program.


I feel like I have a pretty good grip on the endurance thing. But speed endurance? Speed itself? Oh, no, speed is not my forte. So I'd like to get faster, and that is what I will be trying to do when I run a 5K in January. (Am I obnoxious yet? This running stuff/goal-setting stuff is addictive!) We did the 5K all the time in cross-country, and sadly, my very best time was something like 32 minutes. (3.2 miles....this is a ten-minute-mile pace) I'd be really happy, though, to get to that pace again, as I ran the marathon at an average pace of a 16-minute mile! Don't get me wrong--I'm proud of what I did. I just want to become a little faster now. And I am SO ready to have shorter training runs. No more 4-hour Saturday mornings for me.

Oh, and in case my glaring status on Facebook wasn't enough, do note that I posted on my photography blog today. It's here.

By the way: Have I mentioned how much I have loved all your sweet comments on my marathon post? You fill my heart to bursting....:)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Had to say:

You think I made you guys cry? Well, your comments had me in (happy) tears. What a blessing it is to have friends like you, to have support from you, and to have shared this experience with all of you. I am overcome by gratitude.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your sweet words.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Of Angels and Accomplishment: The Marathon Post

October 2nd, Friday night, I was pretty wired. I worked very hard to calm myself (oxymoron) and kept telling myself, "This will be worth it....this will be worth it...." I kept quietly chanting to myself, "To see if I say I did." Refreshing my motivation and reminding myself that I was prepared as possible.

I didn't expect to get much sleep, especially because I was looking forward to my sister's arrival, but I surprised myself by sleeping from 11:30p.m. to ONE MINUTE (!) before my alarm was supposed to go off--4:19a.m.
I woke up with that horrible squirmy feeling in my stomach, but also felt a little thrill of excitement as I put on my running clothes, pulled my hair into a ponytail, and took deep breaths.

Phill just kept smiling at me, totally happy and calm--as he always does in situations where he knows I will end up happy, no matter how nervou
s I begin. :) In the car I ate a banana, some Myoplex (BLEH....), and a lot of Gatorade. There was so many cars on the road, which I found somewhat comforting--so many people doing the same thing that morning.

When Phill dropped me off at the park (where all the buses waited for us to board and be driven to the start line), and I stepped out into the October morning, I was immediately shivering from cold and nerves. I needed safety pins to pin my bib number onto my shirt (accidentally threw away the ones provided), and felt much more worried about it than I needed to be. Somehow (it was no coincidence), I bumped into another lady who also needed to find some safety pins, and we stuck
together in our mini-predicament. She told me that this was her second marathon, that she had two kids, and that she would be happy to stick by me 'til the start.

Dear Ellie,

You were an angel. I'm glad I didn't slow you down, and I'm so glad you were there that morning. Because of your calming presence, I was able to relax my shivering-nervous muscles
and thrill at the start of the race. A thousand times: thank you.

At the start line were bonfires, which was heavenly--it was 39 degrees. The cold penetrated my thin shirt and my anticipation made me shiver uncontrollably until I finally found a good spot next to one of the fires. People of all shapes and sorts sat around, lit up beautifully by the glow of the flames. People talked and laughed, ate, slept, stretched, listened to music. There was a general spirit of friendship and helpfulness. In spite of my little anxieties, I felt very safe and sure.

The start of the race was a sea of moving people, as far as my eyes could see. The air seemed electric--my limbs were frozen by cold, but
I was on fire; I had finally started! Finally, finally, finally! was all I could think.

That first mile flew was unreal how fast it went. And the next, and the next, and really, the first 6 miles were surreal. I was thankful that my legs didn't un-freeze until mile 9, when there happened to be an aid station being manned by several people in my ward. (The great Eagle project of one of the young men we love.) I
almost cried with joy and said, "People I know!" Note: You readers will be proud to hear that I drank two cups of water or one cup water/one cup Gatorade at every aid station. I was masterfully hydrated.

I have to say that the volunteers are so wonderful. They make the experience even more enjoyable (yes, running 26.2 miles is enjoyable....on many levels....) and they were nothing short of encouraging and kind.

As I ran, the pesky flu (or whatever it is) that had plagued me the two weeks before showed no mercy. I coughed and coughed for the first 20 miles, until I really didn't have enough breat
h to cough anymore. You can imagine that my lower abs were quite sore.

For three miles--mile 11 to mile 14, I'd guess--I talked to an old man who said this was his twelfth marathon. He said he didn't start 'til his late forties, and that when he first started, it was with a pair of deck shoes. "Then I bought some new shoes and thought, 'This is like running on a cloud!' If I could do a marathon in deck shoes, I can do lots more in these shoes!"

Dear Mike,

You were personable and funny and sweet and strengthening. I liked your stories. You amaze me.

At mile 17, my enthusiasm began to be a little slow in coming. I could
feel that my body was tired, and I felt a little overwhelmed at the prospect of 9 more miles. But I was still excited, still happy, and still very much mentally in the game. My right calf was cramping a bit, and the balls of my feet were sore, but I knew I could keep going for quite some time, provided I distracted myself well enough.

Distraction arrived in the form of Cathy from Payson, a mother of seven and grandmother to (?), who was doing this marathon for the third time. She was walking, she was tired, and she looked somewhat despondent. I decided to talk to her because she looked like she needed some co
mpany as badly as I did.

We talked for five miles. 17 to 22. She told me about her struggles with a couple of her children, and her pride in the good choices that they were now making. She shared events from her life that closed the gap in our ages. We quickly bonded over those long five miles, and we kept each other going.

Dear Cathy,
You are a wonderful woman. I am so happy to have made your acquaintance, especially in the setting of the St. George Marathon. You distracted me and made it easier for me to keep going. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Arrive mile 22. We were just about to town, and I parted ways with Cathy to use up a little of the second wind I had. (Second wind....more like fifth, really.) At about mile 23, I was o
vercome by the enormity of what I was doing, what I had left to do, and by the pain. I simply sobbed while I ran. (It sounded really hilarious....a little like a barking seal, but a barking seal that's sort of under some anesthesia.) Every part of my legs, arms, abs, and upper back was sore, cramping, or burning. My lower lip began to tremble, a funny little thing that seems to happen to me after mile 17 or so.

Enter Melanie.

"Hi, sweetie! What's your na

"Okay. Rachel, we can do this. I know you're tired. But we can do this, okay?"


"We're going to do this!"




And she hands me a fresh bottle of water from her husband's water belt--he was walking alongside her, simply there to help her. It was her third marathon. Her dad biked next to us, relaxed and chatty, a cheerful distraction. Two very tired girls ran alongside us, and soon she recruited their motivation, too.

"What's your name, honey? We'll get through this."

Melanie, you were yet another earthly angel on that run. You make me want to run it again, just so that I can help people who are doing it for the first time. Thank you. Thank you.

She asked me questions, questions that helped her get a sense of what would motivate me most, and questions that took my mind off my pain. I told her that my husband was in the Army, wai
ting in uniform with other uniformed Army men at the finish line, and that I was very ready for him to catch me. Quietly I realized that for the last half of the marathon, I really had been running to Phill.

Melanie's father listened to us with a quiet smile, and then rode off slowly towards the finish line, which by this time was about 2 miles away.

Then, at mile 25, my weary eyes caught sight of her old dad on his bike, riding towards me, with a uniformed man jogging behind. A uniformed man with his arms in the air and a gigantic grin on his face.

I fell to pieces. I sobbed "Phill! Oh my goodness!" over and over, and he was quickly at my side, saying, "You're almost there, sweetheart! Only a little more! You're doing so great. I'm so proud of you." And I continued to cry the weirdest-sounding cry of my life. (I recall crying, "But it's so uuuggglllyyy...."--I was referring to most everything in general; my form, my crying, the way my body felt.) I tried to walk instead of run--thinking that a rest was good--but my legs just gave out beneath me. Lucky Phill was there to catch me and tell me that I needed to keep running, or my legs would cramp--because they were so used to this motion. He whispered sweet nothings to me all the way to the last turn, then did something that I will never forget and for which I will never stop feeling utmost love and gratitude.

"Okay, love. I'm going to go wait at the finish line. You've got this."

And he sprinted to the finish line to let me, his wife, finish the marathon with every bit of personal victory intact. No one next to me, holding my hand or pulling me along. Just me, just my finish.

Phill....I love you. Deeply.

I was surprised that there were still people there to cheer, besides my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and kindred spirit Jenn--but there were enough people that the cheering filled my ears and seemed to elevate me to another plane altogether. I was floating....floating and sobbing and smiling and laughing. Phill stood with his arms open wide and I jumped (well, at that point it was a pretty weak jump...) into his arms and finally, finally let my muscles stop moving.
(Oddly hard to do.)

My clock time said 7:06:00. My official (chip) time was 6:58:21. I have felt somewhat sheepish and self-critical for the last several days over how long it took me to finish--but I'm telling you....I feel very proud of myself now (finally, almost a week later)!

I ran for almost seven hours! I finished! I did exactly what I set out to do! I trained for months, waking up early, which we know is something I hate and always struggle with....I worked my training around schedules: my own, my children, Phill's. I have come to the realizat
ion that the marathon was really the reward for what was as big an accomplishment--the preparation.

I keep whispering to myself the words that were on my medal, reminding myself that I have the strength to do something difficult, complete with preparation and follow-through.

Finisher. I am a Finisher.

To see if I can--
I can--to say I did--I did.
photo-credit: Eric Hanson
thank you for coming! Thank you for supporting me, and thank you for making it easy for Abby to help me out. Thank you for taking the photos. I am so happy to have a record of this great event! Also, thank you for walking me to the bathroom six times on Saturday when my legs were like lead.
Abby, thank you for coming. Thank you for listening to me talk down my nerves on the phone several times before the actual marathon. Thank you for driving in the night with your husband and babies to simply be with my family. Thank you for the meals you made, the pampering you gave me, and the love and attention you showed my babies. Jenn, thank you for coming. Thank you for taking care of my babies while I ran. Thank you for crying when I was done and had no tears left myself. Thank you for helping me get comfortable afterwards. Thank you for keeping my sister, brother-in-law, and husband company and entertaining my children and nieces for seven hours Saturday morning.

To my other family, friends, blog-readers: Thank you for every supportive comment, every kind gesture, every prayer, every thought sent my way. I am forever grateful for your support and encouragement. You make it fun. You lift me up.