When my father turned 80 this past month, I racked my brain to come up with the perfect gift. A new book? A sweater? A fabulous dinner out?

Pot Brownies.

But then I remembered it’s still illegal in Florida so we went to the Netherlands.

My folks came to Europe to visit and we decided to drive up to Holland to visit my father’s ancestral home in the Friesland area of Holland.

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There are 3 notable things about the northern most provence:

  1. There are more cows than people.
  2. It’s flatter than Kansas after a tornado
  3. “The Dutch are Very Practical People.” Famke Jannsen

I tried to find an organized road race where I could talk about Parkinsons, EU Parkinsons Foundation, about my family, about my adventure and about fitness in that part of the world. But I couldn’t find one. So, I just went for an un organized 5k run. It was… practical. I wandered a bit too far down the road and interrupted a city hall meeting with almost the entire town. Despite their physical cues against it, I managed a quick selfie.

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We stayed on a working dairy farm a stones throw from the farm of my forefathers. Farming is no joke – but they’ve mastered it. The barns are functional but not completely mechanical. The houses are built for the strong North Sea winds but not too comfy that you get lazy. The food is good but not that good…  My daughter loved exploring the farm. She pet every cow and calf, every barn cat, every goat, every flea. By day three everything we owned smelled like cow.

Our second night  on the farm one of the cows went into labor. My fabulous farm night sleep was interrupted with horrific sounds coming from the barn. Having had a natural birth, and with my body shivering in sympathy, I leaned out the window and shouted, “HANG IN THERE SISTER!”

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The next day, I made it known that all I wanted out of my Big Dutch Adventure was a photo in front of a windmill. So classic – so Dutch – so perfect! My parents were resting so I grabbed my 4 year old and declared,

“WE WILL NOT RETURN UNTIL WE HAVE FOUND A WINDMILL!”

After an afternoon driving through flat farms, passing cow, sheep, goats, more cows, dodging small bicycles, tandem bicycles, cows riding bicycles? bicycles leaving pot cafes riding two feet per hour….  we found it. WE FOUND A WINDMILL! The clouds parted, the sun shown down upon us and my sidekick took the photo. We climbed back in our car and drove home, triumphant! I finally had my windmill photo!

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Back together again, we explored the downtown and the family butcher shop which, turns out, is still family owned. My father connected with family he hasn’t seen since 1949 and we replicated a family photo 50 years later.

One afternoon we explored the nearest college town called Leeuwarden. I thought about grabbing my father a robust brownie to take the edge off his Parkinsons but that’s just not his style. We enjoyed the view. Canals, house boats, steep pitched roofs and tiny doorways. We ate some marzipan.

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Then we ate some more marzipan.

I’m asked a lot about my diet and lifestyle. It’s become very practical – very Dutch. Drink a glass, not the bottle. Eat a chocolate square, not a chocolate bar. Lean protein, fruits, veggies, nuts seeds, fresh air, a daily sweat, a daily sweet, family, friends, laughter, prayer, contemplation, meditation, forgiveness and thankfulness.

As this election cycle comes to a much needed end, (WTF is going on over there? I leave for 3 months and the whole country goes to hell in a handbasket.) I’m going to focus less on addressing negativity and more on being an encourager, a joy-giver. As the holiday season comes racing towards us like a rabid bull, I’m going to focus less on living a lavish lifestyle of presents and parties and more on living a thankful life.

imgres.png“Theres always something to be grateful for.”

I’m going to be thankful for five things every single day. It’s easy. It’s free. It’s healing. It’s as good for the heart as a long run, takes half the time and you can do it in yoga pants at the grocery store check out or while on a bicycle – in the Netherlands – playing chicken – with a cow.

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I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for the rare opportunity to learn about our shared history. I’m thankful for travel, good food, and windmills.  I loved the Netherlands and I can’t wait to go back.

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Baltimore.

2pm on a Friday.

I’ve lived in Maryland for 2.5 years.

When choosing a place to live, I looked at a map and decided I wanted to live half way between DC and Baltimore. I’m about 11 miles outside of DC. Do you know how long it takes me to get into the city? 400 hours. But it’s fun to be near the epicenter of power. DC is the Mother Ship. The Home Base. And depending on your side of the aisle, The Death Star.

The best local races are in DC along the National Mall. The Army Ten Miler of course is my favorite – running with Vets from all over the world, running with family, friends, former cadet crushes, with wounded warriors.

The Cherry Blossom 10 miler is another to put on your list. It is a magnificent run under pink canopies of flowering trees.

Today it’s 40 degrees. The race is full of middle aged house wives who have blamed their waistline on “baby weight” but the baby is 28 years old. The race was at 2pm which means I had 9 waking hours to think about my time, eat the wrong things and get bloated, get tackled by a hyper yellow lab, bruised by a rambunctious toddler, burn myself cooking bacon. (stay tuned for the blog post about bacon. All Hail the Pig.)

I prefer 8am runs. GET IT OVER WITH.

Leaves the rest of the day for wine. and rest. and wine.

49 bottles er states to go……

 

October 10, 2014 I made a commitment to run for a year.

I am not a self motivated person. I don’t wake up every morning and say, “TODAY IS A NEW DAY LETS DO GREAT THINGS!” In fact, I dislike those people immensely. I’m more of a “CRAP. I have 7 minutes to walk the dog, feed my kid, shower, dress and get out the door…..” So when I decided to run a road race every weekend for 1 year, (52 consecutive races for the mathematically challenged) no one believed I could do it. But I did.

I ran for my Dad who has Parkinsons and all those struggling with the stuff life throws at us, for myself, for all the unmotivated, underachieving, yoga pants wearing, backwards baseball cap, flip flops in winter, kid in pajamas because i-don’t-care people out there.

My dad’s motto – my mantra this past year – comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24. Its applicable regardless of your beliefs or where you are on your faith journey:

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.” 1 Cor 9:24

Now what?

The end of 1 Corinthians 9 talks about what to do next:

“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

This is my road map for this next adventure.

I will keep running. Keep spreading the word about Parkinson’s so those who are being diagnosed at 60 or 40 or 25 know it’s ok – there’s hope. Maybe it’s something else. Cancer. Heart disease. A broken bone. A broken heart. My father tells a story from when he was Dean of Gordon Conwell Seminary. An international student came in distraught. His mother had died back in his home country. He needed someone to moan and wail with him as was his mourning tradition. “My mother was my rock. My spiritual well. Who will pray for me now?” I think about that exchange. About having someone that you can count on – someone that you know has your back. Someone who carries your burden, comes along side and will pray for you. The road has become my sanctuary – my quiet place to meditate, to reflect, to pray.

I can’t stop now. I’m going to keep running. And, because I want to keep connected to you, i’m going to run with you – in your state – in all 50 states over the next year +. (that plus sign is incredibly important. I have a job and a toddler – there is no way I can run in all 50 states in 1 year unless someone fantastically wealthy wants to bankroll me for a while – in which case, CALL ME!)

Plus, lets be real. I look fantastic in a cocktail dress. How else will North Dakota get to appreciate these glutes?

Dust off your shoes because i’m coming for you – i’m coming to run or walk or celebrate or moan and wail or pray or cheer or just high five you in your state.

Be excited! (and possibly afraid. I actually know where a lot of you live and I lack boundaries…)

1 Corinthians 9:24-27The Message (MSG)

24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

We are all on a journey. This blog is about My journey.

Exercise and Edification.

Run to Win.