Let The Races Begin: Part 12 of My Journey and Stovetop Baked Oats!

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Healing, it comes in many forms. For some, it’s a healing touch, comforting word, expressions of art or even a time of getting away from it all to clear one’s head. For others, such as myself, it’s not that easy. I’ve had to learn to heal as I go from one stressful and traumatizing situation to the next. I’m sure you all wonder if I’ve ever wanted my life to be any different. Of course I have! At the same time, more recently, I have learned that these trials are what have made me into who I am today. Without the stress, without the trauma, without the chaos, without everything that has happened in my life to bring me pain and to tear me down, I would not be nearly as strong as I am let alone have the knowledge and understanding of who God is in my life as I am and do today. No, I’m not saying that I’m in anyway shape or form perfect. I have SO far to go; however, I’m starting to see maturity birth in me as I have been more and more willing to except my circumstances, do what I can do to change them, press into God, find His strength through it all, and stop wishing my life was any different. My life is an example of how touch can cause pain instead of healing, words can tear one down to a point of feeling complete self worthlessness, and how the various forms of art that you use to heal can be torn down by others making you feel like you have no right to enjoy those things. The abuse that I suffered growing up physically, verbally, and the like along with being ridiculed and bullied as a child for liking to sing, act and dance… brought me pain in ways I can’t even begin to express. I guess you can kind of laugh with me and just call me the female version of the “Diary of Wimpy Kid.” What’s great about this is that it’s usually the wimpy kid to end up rising above by the power of God and changing the world for the better! I can only hope that my life has a powerful impact on at least a few people that I encounter during this brief moment in eternity. The main lesson I can learn from all of this is that when everything in life turns to pain, when every dream I have seems to just crumble and fall, there is one and only ONE source that I can rely on and that is Christ Himself.

Now, I left off in my journey last time where I had just had to leave my job due to lack of transportation and a severe injury. It was now time for God to strip away every bit of pride, selfishness, bitterness, everything that was not Him, and begin to build new strengths and characteristics I never thought I would ever have. Here goes with part 12 of my journey.

My Journey Part 12

So, there I was, jobless, fighting to regain my strength, and not sure of what the next day was going to hold. Each day, I forced myself to get up, get out of bed, pray and read the word, and yes … rebuild my ability to run again. One thing I witnessed during the season is God‘s providence! He always knows what we need when we need it! You see, just before leaving the grocery store, I had received a call from someone I did routine housesits for. She asked me to watch her home while she was out of town for a little over a week and then do another one for nearly a month right around Christmas. The second housesit for her would become the longest one I had ever done for anyone! The problem with this is, I would have to request time off right around Thanksgiving in order to do so because doing the job would require my not being away from the home for more than four hours at a time. I trusted God and excepted the job right away! After all, this woman had become very dear to me and so were her critters. I really didn’t want to see anyone else that she didn’t know he put in charge seeing is that she trusted me. Wow… this woman… a judge… trusted ME?! An ex drug addict… me? Yes! Truly God CAN redeem all things! Now, upon my leaving the job at the grocery store, it turned out I definitely had time to make sure that I was there for that entire housesit instead of having someone else take care of it. The first and shorter one was so refreshing! I spent most my time running and relaxing with the pup. Then I returned home and it was back to regular life where everything was a struggle. In the middle of it, my little sister reached out and helped mom and me. My sister… someone who had a kid of her own and barely had enough to take care of her self was helping us! I felt so awful! I felt like somehow I failed her! At the same time it was help… A few weeks passed and I was off to enter my next and longest housesit. This one took place over the Christmas season. Though I was very alone during this season, it was much needed time away from the craziness of life.

December 14, 2013 I FINALLY got to race again! I went to an event called “the Dam jingle bells” race hosted by a local family that has held a very special place in my heart! The feelings of being out on the race track again were incredible!

The energy of the people, the excitement of walking up to the start line, the quick push of my foot as I took the first step racing towards the finish, each moment of that beautiful course with views of the water as the clean crisp air filled my lungs all while adrenaline rushed through me like a wild fire… My spirit sang and soared! I was doing exactly what I was born to do! By the grace of God, I crossed the finish line and came in 1st in my age group! Fast… still… even though I hadn’t been racing for a while, God’s grace was on me!

On Christmas Day I went off with my mom, sister and nephew to enjoy one of my most treasured races! It was a gold rush five miler held in the Richmond hilltop area. When I arrived, I saw Big Al who automatically greeted me with a hug and a smile! I had called my godmother a few days prior and she said that she would be there, but come race day she was nowhere to be found! An anxiousness grew in my spirit. SOMETHING was off! I tried calling her a couple times, but there was no answer. I left a few messages, and prayed that she was OK. Meanwhile, the race had to go on! I stepped up to the start line, Big Al did countdown and… OFFFFFF I flew! Every step was such a blessing! The wind flowing through my hair, the pavement under my feet, my heart racing as I flew around each corner and up each hill all the way to the finish line to come in first place Female!!!! My first Christmas with my new nephew, and he got to see me finish what I love to do the most! “CONGRATULATIONS!!!” said Al! “You won!!!” “But my competition wasn’t here,” I said (meaning my godmother and a woman named Erica). “You STILL won!!!” He said! Then he continued to remark on how fast I came in for the 5 miles! It felt good, but at the same time everything just felt off without my godmother and godfather there.

Shortly after his congratulating me, Al took me aside, sat me down in his car and explained his concern to me about how I was doing. He was concerned that I left my job at the grocery store. He was just worried about me as a whole. I explained to him everything that had happened with my dad and the grocery store, and he encouraged me, like a dad, to find a way to pick up the pieces of my life and put it back together before it was too late! “get back into school,” He said, “ get another job, just don’t give up!” Those words, as encouraging as they were meant to be were better sweet to my ears! I didn’t want to do anything else but run! I was so tired of doing what everybody else wanted me to that I just felt like I needed a break from pushing myself. And looking back, I can see that his words were probably the wisest words I could’ve heard at that time. I’ll forever cherish that man and the impact that had on my life!

After the race, I went back to spend some time at the housesit with the dog, then it was out to my house to open presents and enjoy Christmas dinner with my family and a neighbor.

Just as I was sitting down for dinner, I received a call… it was my godmother. She explained to me that my godfather was in the hospital and that it would be best if I saw him as soon as possible. I knew that he had cancer, but I didn’t know how bad it was. For some reason, I didn’t realize how bad it was! I also knew that this call was serious because she had never asked me to see in the hospital before. Though we were close, she never called me unless it was important. That’s something I’ve always respected about her. I informed my mom about the situation, and we all dropped everything and went out to see them!

Upon arriving at the hospital, my godmother officially adopted me as her goddaughter. She told the staff that I was family and from that day on I have been called her goddaughter. For me, this is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my life. When I saw my godfather, they were preparing him to get to an actual hospital room. As I talked to him, he started talking running and told me my godmother was in her peak season for racing! Hahaha it was adorable how even in one of his most painful moments, all he could think about was my godmother and how much he admired her ability to run! I held his hand and talked to him a bit, and the walked out into the waiting room to spend some time with my God Grammy while my godmother and godfather got prepared to get him into a room. Once they had him settled in, my family and I went up to see him. We tried to talk as best as possible, but as it got late, we had to leave. Wow… the man who introduced me to my best friend and godmother, the man who watched over me at races, who would sacrifice his personal food preferences so that I could enjoy allergen free meals with them, who told wonderful stories of planes and cars and of his childhood, the man who cheered me on and coached me on my stride during races… the man who was like a father to me…. was dying! I didn’t know how to fully process it, so I stuffed my feelings in the back of my mind until I later found a moment alone to cry. I then went and said good night to my godmother and God Grammy, and I headed back to the house to get some rest.

The next few days and began to wind down and get ready to leave that housesit. I also beganto pray to the Lord because I didn’t know what I was going to do next about finances, and I really didn’t want to go home yet. Just two days before that job ended, I received a knock at the door. It was my dear friend and old landlord that had me caring for her husband before he passed! Apparently, her and her family were going on vacation and needed me to watch their property while they were away. The job would start immediately after I left the house sit that I was already doing! God heard my prayer! So… I gladly excepted knowing that God truly had my future in His hands!

Now, I’m going to leave off here for this week! BEFORE I go though, I’m going to give a recipe for simple stove top baked oats that I recently came up with! This is super simple and incredibly tasty. Also, since mother’s Day is tomorrow, it might be something you could make for mom for breakfast!

Stovetop baked oats

Oats

-1/2 plus 1 tsp rolled oats

-1 pinch baking soda

-1 pinch baking powder

-1/2 plus 1 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk OR water

-1/4 tbsp olive oil

Topping

-1/2 individual container Oikos triple zero vanilla yogurt

-1/2 Apple

-1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

Put oats, water/milk, baking soda, and baking powder into a blender and blend until smooth. Put Oil into a mini egg frying pan that has a lid I’ll put the link for the one that I have right here. Cook with lid on, on medium temp until baked all the way through. Flip the pan over to release oats onto a plate, top with the yogurt and fruit and serve!

In closing, I just want to say that I hope you all have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Here’s to my mom who has been one of the greatest blessings in my life and who stood by me when most people wouldn’t dare be there for me! She’s my best friend, my rock, my everything!!!

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The Face Belonging to the Voice: Part 9 of my Journey

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Well, here I am after a few weeks of stepping back from the blog. As you all can see, diving into my journey has been a bit heavy for me. Meanwhile, things at home have been challenging to say the least. Honestly, it’s been as though hurricane has hit my life and it’s taking every bit of me to stand my ground. As I’ve stated in my previous posts, I’m really trying to keep quiet about what I’m dealing with. I know that God is a powerful God and that he will see me through this time. I just hope that somehow, someway, my Journey will encourage those of you who actually read it find strength on your own path. Also, I hope that it helps you see that I was there and every moment at all times, He is always there! Without further ado…

Part 9 of my Journey

Stable home. Finally! Mom and I had a stable home! On top of it, I was finally in contact my dad and believed that I was on the road to a healed relationship with him. It was, April 2012, mom and I had just moved out to Crockett, other than issues that kept rising with my sister… life just seemed like it was finally coming together!

Now, my dad and I were continuing to talk. I did take some caution in completely connecting with him because of some prior discussions my grandmother and I had had. She warned me that he suffered from extreme schizophrenia and temperament issues. She also solidified what I had learned growing up from my mom and some of my own experiences that he was a compulsive liar. So, when I actually received the iphone, I started to begin to believe that he wouldn’t want to lie to me. I did try to keep myself guarded, however at the same time the little girl me so desperately just wanted daddy.

In the conversations that we had, he would tell me about how he wanted to move to the mainland again and was tired of how expensive everything was on the islands. He said he had an extremely successful T-shirt selling business and he wanted to sell it because he really felt it was time to come out to California, to his family, and restore the lost years. Something in my spirit knew that the whole situation was just a little off. I wanted to believe him, but the same time everything I’d known about him told me not to. As life went on, I continued to work at the coffee house, did house sits, started working for my dear friend that I met while working a 24 hour fitness as his 2nd admin assistant/ house manager, and trained for the San Francisco Marathon.

Soon, my dad finally said that he was actually going to move! It was SO surreal to me. I still didn’t believe any of this was happening. Then, some time in May, in the middle of the night, I received a phone call from him saying that he was at the Oakland airport and that nobody was there to pick him up. I offered to get him even though I had to work early the next day… “n no b b butter cup.” He stuttered. “J just go back to b bed.” He sounded really stressed out, and I asked if he was sure but he insisted that I go back to bed. So, I did just that.

The next day at work I was so excited! I was on a natural high! My dad was finally in California!!! I went all day and didn’t receive a call. Another day went by and still no call. Then another… I tried calling, but no answer. I kept thinking he just wanted to spend time with his family… then my got started to hurt and I felt abandoned. Something was just off.

About a week after his arrival to the states, I was doing a housesit, and it was my birthday (June 2). I received a phone call from my aunt V and she was yelling at me asking what I did to him. She literally went off on me as if I did something wrong. I started crying hysterically and told her I didn’t do anything. I told her what happened and that I offered to go get him when he had arrived, but I hadn’t heard from him since. She calmed down and we ended the phone call.

Right away, I begin trying to call my dad. I emailed him and all I go back was an email saying that he was leaving and there was nothing I could do about it. Finally, when I did get him on the phone, he started saying that my grandma and the rest of the family were asking him questions about what he did to me as a baby. He also claimed that I should’ve gotten him from the airport. “How dare he make this all my fault,” I thought. I reminded him that he told me to just go back to bed. He insisted that as a family member I should have gotten up no matter what he said to go get him. I told him I lived over 45 minutes away from the airport, and he told me that I was lying because he could track my cell phone…. , first off, Crockett is over 45 minutes away from Oakland. Second off, this put a stop to everything. He began to tell me that he’d known where I was my whole life, and that he’d been using my cell phone that he gave me to track where I was. I. Felt. Violated. Devastated. Stalked. Terrified…. He then told me that he wanted his phone and I had to send it back. Thankfully in the middle of the call, my dear friend that I was working for called. He asked why I sounded upset and I explained to him what was happening. He told me to immediately hang up the phone and to refuse to give the phone back because I had my personal information on it. Walked me through the process of turning my GPS off so that he could no longer track me. Then, I switched over, told my dad that I was not giving it back, he was not going to Yell at me and make me feel like his molesting me or him getting stuck at the airport was my fault on my birthday, and that I was not going to be held responsible for him going back to Hawaii. My friend then came over to talk to me. Being someone who himself dealt with some parental issues, he give me some sound advice and I decided to keep the iPhone off and refused to answer calls from my dad.

Just as I was leaving the house sit I had yet another shift at my coffee house job. Not only was I working for my friend, but I was switching coffee house locations in order to keep myself protected from my dad. Since I was working for my friend as his family manager and second personal assistant, he decided to include a cell phone in my pay. Just as I was at the Verizon wireless office to have it set up, I Received a call from my dad saying that he had shown up at the coffee house that I had recently transferred from. They were instructed to tell him that they had no idea who I was. This infuriated him! Long story short my friend and I ended up at the coffee house, told him to either take the iPhone back or at least sign it over so we could put it on a different plan, but he refused. I have to say, seeing him for the first time in over 20 years… the man who stole my virtue before I knew I had it… It was terrifying! On top of already being traumatized, I had to stand my ground as he made complete scene outside of the coffee house. My friend and I were fed up and we went off to get a different cell phone. I gave the iPhone to my friend to hold and cut connections with my dad.

Within a few weeks, I had received an email from my dad apologizing for everything. He wanted to meet up, and have a real birthday dinner and make up for everything. So, I took into consideration that he was in a lot of stress from the move, and I agreed. The meal went wonderfully and I got to learn a lot about him and what he been doing over the years. The things he said I had to be careful to sift between fict and fact… Regardless, I truly felt like this was a positive step forward!

(The first gift I received from my dad person. This was from the Mercedes-Benz dealership that my grandfather worked for before he passed away)

I agreed to turn on my iPhone and keep it on just so he could call me. Meanwhile, he was not allowed to have my work number, Let alone know it existed. I kept the iPhone GPS off, and learned something. The only way I could use my map my run device on my phone is if the GPS was on… So, on the days that I needed to do a long run and need my GPS I would turn it on. This led to another discovery… He would call just after my runs, or on the times that I’d forgotten to turn my GPS off, so, I decided to play a little game. If I didn’t hear from my dad for a few weeks, I turned the GPS on. When he’d call he dumped a boatload of stress and emotional garbage on me like a garbage dump! I was already dealing with things at home, working both jobs, worries if my sister, training, ect… I tried my best to listen, that was all I could do. I felt overwhelmed and hopeless .

Soon, my dad began to promise a car. I already had one so, I was excited but at the same time… I wasn’t too worried about it.

The first week of July, I received an email … and then another one … and another one… each one displaying pictures of a brand new Honda fit… Then, an email with a question saying “which one do you like?” I freaked out! Within a matter of hours he finished the paperwork and send me an email giving me a visual tour of my new car. Almost a week later, I was on my way with him to Folsom lake to pick it up. What I did with my other car, is between me and Jesus. However, I had no idea what I was getting myself into in accepting this vehicle from him. I believe that part of him really did want to be a good father. I believe that he really wanted to make things work after all these years. However I do know that another part of him was being very manipulative in his actions.

(Me and my dad’s scarlet macaw. I was smiling here, but I was so terrified at the same time.)

Just as my family management business was picking up. I got hurt at the coffee house, and made the decision to leave. Hurt again, and training for yet another marathon. Ughhhh! Meanwhile, dealing with stressed out phone calls from my dad…. I switched from seeing Dr. Runco to seeing a different chiropractor in El Cerrito, started not only working in choir but also on the worship team at church, The clock ticked down to marathon day… so much craziness and chaos! I enjoyed being in choir and on the worship team, but the one thing I was REALLY looking forward to seeing my dad at Finishline on marathon day. To me, it was like that little kid inside that always want to daddy’s approval was finally going to get what she wanted!

So I’ll leave off here for now. I apologize if this all seems a bit heavy to you all, however this is the reality I’ve lived. If anything, I hope that my journey inspires you all to move forward nomatter what you’re dealing with!

A voice from 20 years past… part 8 of my journey

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Here I go procrastinating again! Sorry for being so MIA y’all! I hope all of you have been doing well! As I promised, I’m going to continue with my story. I hope that, again, through the sharing of my trials someone will be encouraged to press on through their own!

In my last post, I left off with the phone call to my dad who I hadn’t spoken to in over 20 years. This is the same man who molested me as a baby, and pretty much robbed me of my chances at purity and security before I even knew what either of those things were. No, he didn’t take my virginity (thank God), however; he did do plenty of other sick and twisted acts that psychologically wounded me in ways I can’t even begin to properly explain. No, no one properly warned me to stay away from him. There were warning tones, little hints, but no one blatantly said , “do not come in contact with him because he is still a psychological wreck.” For me, the little girl inside desired to have that dad that I never knew in my life.

(Photo credit theparentcue.org )

I remember growing up and seeing other little girls with their dads who took them out and did things out of love and not out of some sick twisted desire. Most of my life, I secretly envied those girls who’s dads cared for them, who hung around and listened to them, cheered them on at performances and other events, went and got them cars and took them out on special daddy daughter dates. I will tell you one thing, be careful what you wish for, and don’t ever wish that you had something that someone else has, because jealousy is definitely one of major roots of evil! Now that this is said and done, I’ll continue where I left off!

Part 8 of my journey

Running and the performing arts… these have been major outlets in my life! There’s just something about being on stage and taking yourself into a period of time and into someone else’s world, away from the troubles of your own to help the audience come into that world and escape the troubles of theirs… it’s such an incredible gift for everyone involved! As for running…. ughhh the feel of wind going through my hair and in and out of my lungs as my body rhythmically moves over the ground’s surface, feet gliding, heart pumping, sweat dripping, all the worries and stress from everything I’ve carried just melting away as I talk to God and clear my mind. So many times I left some of my greatest fears and challenges out on the roads, hills, and trails of various cities throughout the Bay Area. Both aspects of my life have become such a relief during some of the most seriously trying times that I’ve experienced. Had I not had God, these two aspects, and my mother during the season, I really don’t know how I would’ve coped.

While on the phone with my dad, he made the promise to stay in contact with me so that we could build the relationship that the little

girl in me so desperately desired.

(The only photo I have of my dad and me when I was about 2 or 3 years old)

In that he promised me a new iPhone and said he would cover the bill so that I could afford to be able to talk to him more often. I was SO excited! Here I was, working my butt off at a coffee shop, doing random house sits for people, having constant shifts in my living space, and still trying to take care of the kitty house all while dealing with car issues and being drained of my finances to find I was barely able to buy food, let alone pay my own cell phone bill. Here was my dad, this man that I so desperately wanted to get to know and forgive for what he had done to me and he was offering me the relationship that I wanted along with something that so many people were trying to obtain at the same time, a new iPhone 4s! I felt like I had suddenly been promoted from scroungy servant girl (Believe me I looked like a hot mess half the time unless I was working or performing) to a new level of princess! It felt like life was finally smiling on me!

During the call, I found out so many things about him and where he had been over the years. He informed me that he had been ordained as a priest for the church of Whales (mind you this man is a compulsive liar, so I still don’t believe this) and owned a T-shirt company that he was getting ready to sell, so that he could move to the mainland (from Hawaii). Before we got off the phone, he told me that he was going to call Verizon and set up a way for me to obtain a phone and that he would call me a soon as it was ready! Wow! What is this really happening? I couldn’t believe a single word that I was hearing! My dad… He wanted a relationship with me, to get to know me, and provide for me!

After the phone call, I went kept working at the coffee shop, and continued working on a production at CCC that I had been invited to come back and perform in as one of my previous characters, Cami in “Rockin at Richmond High.”

Throughout this time, I was getting ready to run yet another event, the San Francisco Marathon. This event held a special place my heart, since it was going to be the first full marathon that I would get the honor of running with my mentor and godmother! The show went on during the beginning phases of my training, So I made sure to take it easy so that I could focus on the show and then have the energy to dive full throttle into preparing for the marathon. Meanwhile, things at home began to fall apart.

The lady that I was taking care of the kitties for had decided that it was time for me to go. While there were issues on both sides that I prefer not to get into at this time, I will definitely say that there were things that I did that weren’t right and left her upset (for some reasons that she definitely had a right to be upset about and I would honestly try to fix if I could) there are also things that she did to me that left me emotionally scarred yet again. Put it this way, I had a tendency to act as though people owed me something because I had been abandoned and abused. Though my actions weren’t necessarily intentional, I had a tendency to take advantage of situations when people would give me things. I didn’t know when to stop letting people give things to me, and often found ways to manipulate in order to survive. This poor woman suffered the consequences of my internal baggage. At the same time living there, was a good taste of what goes around comes around. I used to verbally bash people behind their backs and even to their faces. I was not a nice person by any means! I went around praising God, but was so mean and hateful towards myself and the world around me. While living there, I received a good taste of my own medicine both to my face and behind my back which scarred my reputation with a lot of people, and left me hating myself even more. The blessing from all this? Well, it was through this season that I learned to treat people with kindness. If I had not lived there and dealt with that, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’ve now learned to use my words to uplift and to heal instead of tear down and injure. While I’m still a work in progress, I have come journeys away from where I used to be!

A few days after my performance in “Rockin’ at Richmond High,” I received yet another call from my dad. He told me to go to the Verizon wireless in El Cerrito where I would be able to obtain my brand new phone! I remember walking in and being so awe struck and excited! I told the girl who was getting my phone about the story, and she almost started crying! The whole experience was like something out of a movie! As soon as I walked out of the store, I called my dad, and we were officially connected! I no longer had to deal with a cell phone that kept breaking and could call people without worrying about being able to afford my bill!

Then, it was time to head back home to face a new moving situation.

I packed my things and soon after moved in with my mom in Berkeley where she was informed she too had to find a new place to live because they were going to be renovating her apartment complex. With nowhere to go, we prayed and searched, and finally I received an email from brother Bob containing some craigslist links to apartment rentals in Crockett. Thankfully, my mom went out to see one, I came to see it soon after, and we both fell in love with what would soon be our new home! We packed our things, and moved to Crockett, Ca and to the place that bears so many horrific memories for me. At the same time, it’s the place that I found the greatest level of healing.

For now, I feel that this is a good place to stop. As you can see, my life has been a bit of a whirlwind. Great news is, I’ve had Jesus all along! It’s through my trials that I have learned some of the most valuable lessons. I’ve learned to love myself and to treat others with kindness at all times, and best of all… I’ve learned to rely on God and not my own devices in order to survive which is exactly why I’m leaving my current situation in silence. It’s in this time of silence that I know I’ll hear gods voice clearly and I’ll be able to report to you all the wonderful victory that He has prepared out for me!Until next time… God bless and stay strong!

Adventures in Boston Qualifying: My Journey Continues With Part 4

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Hey all I’m back again and I hope you all have had a wonderful week! Mine has been trying to say the least, however I’m learning to be grateful for the little things. I’ve really been trying to work on my attitude most of all. To be honest, it hasn’t been the greatest. I was hit in many areas… my body has been hurting and I went to see Dr. Runco. He had to adjust my hips, neck, lumbar, thoracic and other regions of my spine and legs. Facing each day has been a challenge. Between the pain and not having a vehicle and ether being stuck in my apartment all day or having to stay out with my mom all and/ or take the bus in order to get things done… my mind and body just feel worn and beaten. Don’t get me wrong, I love ❤️ taking the bus but the hill up to my house from the stop tears my body up. On top of it, it’s been a struggle to make ends meet at times. At the same time, I feel this gives me the perfect opportunity to really, truly trust God! In these moments, I’ve been able to make lists of things I’m grateful for, and lists of people and things to pray for. In these moments, I’m free to study the word and get to know God so much better than I EVER have before. So… I’m choosing to cherish them.

No, when I left off in last weeks post, I had fallen asleep and was getting ready to wake up to run my first marathon in Oakland, Ca in March 2011. Now, my journey continues…

My Journey Part 4

Marathon… for those of you who don’t know what exactly this is… let me clear up a little bit of confusion for you! A marathon is not a 5K, 10K, 1 mile, 10 mile or even 13 mile foot race. A marathon is the name given to a race with the precise distance of 26.2 miles. Anything outside of that range is given an alternate name such as 5K (3.107 Miles) 10k (6.214 miles), ultra marathon is anything greater than 26.2 miles. The list goes on… so, Marathon is not a name given to any other distance other than the 26.2. For more history and information on this event, please take a look at this article: History of the Marathon.

So, why was the marathon distance such a big deal for me? Well, it is estimated that approximately only 1% of the worlds population has actually run a full marathon. I thrived on distance, I loved distance! I wanted to challenge myself to really go the distance as a way of celebrating freedom from drug addiction! The training with long runs (which I increased in a very different way than most people do) followed by gluten free pancakes and eggs… hours of open road, clearing my head, praying, worshipping… such an incredible time of connection with God, nature, and my body unlike any other! Mix that with runner’s high and a sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving a new goal… mannnn! I was definitely doing what I love to do! Also, while in training for this event, the possibility of running in the Olympics at some point was brought up to me. I will talk more about this later.

Marathon morning, I woke up expecting to just see my mom in car. I was really hoping for just a peaceful event. My heart sank, selfishly, as I saw my troubled loved one sitting in the passenger seat. I quickly adjusted my attitude, chose to remain mostly silent on the way out to the start line, and just prepared myself mentally for the event that was to come. I remember nervously chewing an entire pack of gum on the way out there, fidgeting with my packets of gu to make sure I had enough, checking and double checking my shorts, stretchy pants that I wore underneath, and my purse to make sure that I had my ID and everything I needed at the finish line.

Upon arrival in Oakland, my heart began to race! This was it! I was really going to do this! The moment of truth, do or die, all the training, all the hard work, all for this moment! My mom dropped me off with everything I needed and I headed towards the restroom line to get prepped for the event. While there, I ran into a woman who is part of the “marathon maniacs” crew! She mentioned that she was only going to run the race slowly and stated that she ran marathons and ultramarathons regularly. Ultramarathons? I had heard about these events before. My pastor at the time had previously told me about Dean Karnazes ( lithe amazing ultramarathon man) and I had actually wanted to run one. I just never met anyone that actually ran them… FREQUENTLY! I felt two mixed emotions. 1. I was semi-prideful, wondering why she wouldn’t want to run fast. All I knew was fast running! I loved running at a competitive pace! No feeling like it! 2. I was in awe that a female ran these insane distances! I shook it off, completed my pre-race preparation, and headed off to the starting line.

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or those of you competitive athletes who are reading this, you will probably laugh because in all honesty, I had no idea how big of a deal the Boston marathon was let alone that there was a qualifying time for it. I seriously went into this race to simply run and finish it. I had no intention of placing or achieving one of the most coveted qualifications in the running world, a chance of possibly running Boston.

That being said… I walked up to the start line. Beyond nervous… While there, I saw people holding signs. Each had a different set of numbers on it. One of them said “3:00” another “3:30”… yeah, I did not do my homework! I had no idea what these were! I had no CLUE where to stand either! So, I walked confidently up to the 3:30 pacer, hoping I wasn’t standing in some designated spot. There I stood, nervously waiting for the start!

As I waited, I talked to a few people that were standing there. One person was talking about injuries, so I diverted my attention to something less stressful for my mind. I then talked to someone else who asked if it was my first marathon. I told him that was, so he told me to pace myself, stick with him, start at a slow speed, gradually increase the pace, then finish with a bang! As it just so happens, this was a man partnered with the pacer for the 3:30 mark. I then turned inward, and began to pray asking God to help me make it through the event. I just wanted to finish!

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y heart started racing as the countdown began! I could feel the energy from the crowd of people watching the event from the sidelines… ba dum.. ba dum.. ba dum…. then, race signaled to start, and we all headed on our way through the city of Oakland California! What an incredible journey it was! Around every corner, was a new portion of the city! I was able to view the beauty of the greatest cultural mesh pot cities in the country by foot!!!

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rowds were so encouraging as they watched from the sidelines! The energy from the people in the city was just so amazing! I even met someone who was running the marathon as his long run for an ultra marathon! He gave me some tips on prepping for ultramarathons, and we chatted a little bit. He then encouraged me to push past him and said to just keep going because I “was guaranteed qualify for Boston!“ Again, that Boston thing! Looking back, I feel so ashamed of not knowing anything about that incredible marathon!

The best part of this event is that I was asked by a couple people why I was running the marathon. I got to share my testimony with people as I ran! I got to tell them how God delivered me from crystal meth addiction and made me a runner for Christ! I told each one of them that my purpose for crossing the finish line was to meet my troubled loved one who was there waiting for me. I wanted to prove to her that her life could change too!

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ot closer and closer to the final 10K of the event, something that Kara Goucher mentioned in a Runner’s World magazine I had received in the mail a few weeks prior kept running over and over in my mind. She said that the last 10k of a marathon is like a whole new race! That’s when you have to take everything that’s left in you, and give it all you’ve got! That’s exactly what I did! The final 10k approached, my endorphins kicked in, the exhaustion I felt from the previous 20 miles seemed to dissipate, I popped a packet of gu and began to run as though I just heard the gunshot go off at the beginning of a 10K race!

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ush towards the finish line, I was again given me opportunity share my story! A woman in the crowd yelled out, “El Sobrante Runner!!!” “What?” I said. “ you run all the time by my house!“ this is a name I had been called before, and I was always humbled that someone would recognize me and give me a label. I was even stopped at times in the grocery store and asked why I ran. Each time, I used as an opportunity to share what God had done in my life. This time though, on the race field? I was totally humbled and in awe of opportunity God was giving me share his glory with yet another person! I slowed my pace for just a moment to give glory to God for all that he did and to encourage her to keep pressing on! She then told me to push my butt towards the finish line and cheered me as I went on ahead of her! WHAT A BLESSING!

The last 3 miles felt like the longest 3 I’d ever run! Suddenly, a young guy looked like he was going to give in. His legs were aching and cramping. I encouraged him to keep pressing on. I ran next to him and kept letting him know we were almost at the finish line, to keep his chin up, and that I was rooting for him! Shortly after that, began to get dehydrated and needed some fuel. I encouraged him to sip on some water, just enough to make sure he didn’t get stomach cramps and to take another packet of gu.

Soon, I started to grow weary. A woman who was like an angel came right next to me, cheering ME on, handed me gu, kept telling me to keep going and let me know as each mile passed. After the last mile, she ran on ahead of me and I pushed into finish at the incredible time of 3:32:06!!!

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a few seconds after I cross the finish, I heard, “Hey Romans!” I looked back, remembering that I had “Romans 10:14-15” on the back of my race shirt! “ I can’t thank you enough for encouraging me,“he said! “I never would have finished, if you didn’t help push me along! My legs were so tore up! I didn’t make my goal time though!“” but you finished right? That’s what matters! And it was only by the grace of God that I was able to help you! I’m so glad you finished, “ I said. He have me a big hug and we both went on to get our finisher medals and foil blankets so we could recover.

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st immediately, I saw my troubled loved one. Meanwhile my mom was trying to track her down because she had taken off with her cell phone! So, the family drama had already begun! I went on to take my pictures and decided not to let my home life destroy what was probably the greatest moment of my life! After I got my photos taken and grabbed a few snacks, we headed off to have Pho at one of the local restaurants. Thankfully, it was such a nice time enjoying hot meal with my family talking about my journey! When we headed home… it was time to face reality again. Just prior to the marathon, I begun to transition into a new job at a restaurant in Orinda. I headed home, hopeful about the new opportunity yet dreading having to sleep in a cold mobile home alone and worried about what might be ahead of us now that my troubled loved one had returned.

Again, I had to shake off the worry and focus on recovery! Soon, I was informed by Big Al that I had qualified for Boston! Still… I had no clue help major this was! Not only that, but I also found out that I was Second in my age group and had won a pair of skecher running shoes that I gove to my mom as a thank you for all she had done for me! So many great happenings mixed with so many uncertainties…. so the recovery process began.

Now, I’m afraid of gotten carried away with this post! As you can see, this race holds a very special place my heart! Once again, I’ll have to continue with the rest my journey in a later post. Thank you all for joining me and reading about the events that made me who I am today. As for my current situation, each day I’m thankful for each step that I take. My body aches, yet my spirit begs to be set free to run! I can only hope that God‘s hand will move miraculously to release me to do so! Yet, one thing that I learned especially from running the Oakland marathon… in life, you have to continue cheer people on. Even when you feel like your legs and your body can’t take it, you have to press on, finish your race, and help others do the same! No matter what the outcome of my life is. Whether or not I ever run or walk normally again, I have to choose on a daily basis be grateful for life and ask God for the grace to keep pressing on until my dying day! Until next time, have a great week!

from trials to many victories… recap of my final semester at CCC

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Achieve… as humans, this is something that we are born and created to do. We were made to create, and to inspire. The problem is that so often many of us get far too caught up in achieving rather than just living and enjoying our lives. I am definitely guilty of this! Those that know me know that I tend to go overboard in this area. Thankfully, this semester I learned a bit about balance.
If you read my last post, y’all would know that I went into the semester not knowing how I was going to make it through. My body was in pain, I was struggling to make it through 8-14 hour days on set (as an extra on a tv show)… I went back to the chiropractor that was helping me while I was racing competitively, Dr. Runco. After my first visit with him, my body was recovering from all of the improper work that had been done to it prior to my visit with him. I was in the kind of pain but I don’t wish on my worst enemy. As the days went on, my body began to heal. With weekly visits, I found I was able to walk more and be more physically active than I’ve been in over a year. What a blessing!!! Days on set and at school became easier for me to face. I even started running a little bit here and there.

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As the semester went on, I ended up working more on set than I was at my job at Kmart. I was also given the opportunity to spend three days on the set of a movie as an extra. My childhood dream to be an actor was coming to life! The problem is, in the middle of it I started to get overly concerned with whether or not I would ever get a SAG voucher or become a member of the union. I stopped focusing on the blessing that was right in front of me. Rather than doing it because I loved it, I began to do it to get something out of it. When I realized this, I quickly adjusted my attitude and continued to enjoy my days on set despite the fact that I didn’t get a voucher. Besides, I was getting treated like a princess! I got to work on set, got free catered breakfast, worked my butt off, met amazing people, got free catered lunch, free snacks all day, got to be a part of a huge production, and went home feeling like I could still do more! I knew this is the job I wanted! For now, due to disclosures I have signed, I’m not at liberty to say which productions I was working on. If and when I am released to do so, I’ll let you all know!

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Now, shortly before the semester ended, my car broke down and ended up being irreparable….. when I started to freak out about this, I began to look back on the many times that God has brought me through. I pressed on, finish the semester, and then finally I am now a college graduate with two AA’s and a STEM certificate in biological studies! Closing the semester off with a bang, I was given the blessing of playing one of the lead roles in my church’s Christmas show, AND was given four tickets (from Alex Ramon) to see him perform at the Lesher performing arts center. I was able to take my godmother, her new husband/my new godfather, and my sweet sister in Christ Irena! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate such an amazing year!😊😊😊

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Now, I face a semester of no classes! I’ve decided to take some time back and recover, rejuvenate my spirit, and hopefully focus on family, friendships, and enjoying life! People have asked me why I’ve decided to do this, and my answer is that I want to be an actor… also, I want to be able to have friendships and possibly a relationship. While I’m in classes, I don’t have time to focus too much on my nephew and my mom and those who mean the most to me! 2018 is the year that I want to spend giving as much love to the people that I care about as I possibly can. So, I plan to do just that! I hope you all have a merry Christmas! Remember, no matter what you’re facing, you can get through this! My life is testimony of it!

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Keep Calm and Stay Golden

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photo credit worldcrops.com

Back again back again! What a week it’s been already! When I left off in my last blog, I was in quite a bit of pain. Monday I had to watch little guy while mom was at work, and the pain subsided briefly. Mom got home too late for me to go in and see Dr. Runco, and when she DID get home we headed to Fernandez Park to let little guy get some fresh air and play time. I went for a walk to see if the pain was something I just needed to walk out and as I headed back, the pinch in my left sciatic nerve became so severe, I could barely walk! In tears, I requested that mom take me to the ER. I’d had enough. There, they did a general overview, handed me an IBprophen, a muscle relaxer (which I reluctantly took),and a prescription for pain relievers and muscle relaxers. I headed to walgreens, got my pain relievers and ditched the script for muscle relaxers, why? Well, if you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’m over 7yrs clean from crystal meth addiction, so… as a recovered drug addict anything (other than the IBprophen) that can be considered addictive is not to be messed with unless absolutely necessary.  While I’m grateful for the help I did receive, I was REALLY bothered by the fact that they didn’t take xrays. I was, however, set up with an appointment to see a doctor at a clinic on Saturday. There, I was to meet with a doctor and head on a journey through the wonderful world of MRI,  and (should the Lord provide) chiropractic care (hopefully with Runco) mixed with physical therapy.
The following day (Tuesday) I went to see Dr.Runco to find that four of my vertebrae had been out of joint. He adjusted the issue, gave me clear instructions on how to recover and… I headed off to face the frustration of attempting to recover. The following morning, I attended the closing women’s bible/ book study… the whole time, my nerves were clenched. I was afraid to sit or stand too long due to the possibility of my muscles tightening and cramping. Meanwhile, I was fearfully anticipating a two mile recovery jog after class. Between the emotional and physical frustration and pain I’ve endured during this seemingly endless pursuit of healing… my mind and spirit were broken. I left class, braved up, headed out for a VERY slow two mile jog. Which, thankfully, went well. I then headed home to enjoy the remainder of the evening with my family.
Thursday, I headed out to Berkeley with mom to be able to get out and about while she was working. When we arrived, I headed out for a run! My body just felt… off. I guess that’s the only way to describe the way that I’ve felt while running for nearly 4 years now. While there have been many times when I wasn’t in pain, I honestly haven’t felt balanced and in harmony with my body for quite some time, and on Thursday… it worsened. The first two miles went ok… then, as I approached mile 3… a slight pulling in my left decided to flare up. I thought it might just be residual from the treatment, however… my spirit felt anxious and as I got closer to mile 4, the pulling became pain, I shortened my stride and soon slowed to a walk and headed to my mom’s car… heart broken. After she finished the account, we headed to the office of the property management company she cleans for to handle an errand… she headed in and as I waited for her, my heart continued to ache. Again, here I was nothing to show for the 31 years I’ve lived. Mom and I still struggling from day to day to make ends-meet, both of us hitting set backs left and right, and on top of it… MY HEALTH aghhhhhh! So frustrated, I bottled it up and got out to stand and give my body a break from sitting when a homeless man walked by wearing a “Cal” shirt that stated “Keep calm and remain GOLDEN.” Funny that’s really the hardest yet the only thing I needed to do. Stress kept trying to overtake my mind, not able to go to Runco’s office, awaiting my initial clinic visit through medi-cal… I was stuck!
Friday came, the pain was not so bad, but still there. More than anything, the emotional pain really ate at me. You see, over this past 4-5 years I’ve experienced 4 of the 5 of life’s most stressful events repeatedly along with the trauma caused through other various family events. At this point, I found myself beginning to question the goodness of God and I quickly (thank God for my mom who helped me with this) redirected my thoughts… psychologically .. I tucked myself into a ball in the back of my mind praying over and over for God to do something. Then I felt Him prompt me, “Child… walk it out.” I spent the majority of the day doing all that I could, meditating on scripture, going with my mom to run a few errands, reading the Bible, watched a movie, hung out on social media…. trying EVERYTHING to focus on something other than the waves I was facing. I headed to bed… cried out to God and said… “that’s it… it’s up to you. The enemy can take my body, shoot… he could even take my voice, but one thing he can’t stop is my heart that cries out in PASSION for the Lord.
Well, here it is… Saturday… I returned from my clinic visit and am now set up for xrays and an MRI and have been told to refrain from running until further notice. I will be consulting Dr. Runco being that honestly… I trust him and I want to get a well rounded perspective on this situation before I move forward in any direction. I truly believe that I will run and race again soon even though at this time it’s hard for me to stand, sit or run (sometimes even walking hurts) without pain that, at times, seems unbearable… yet, I’ll continue to trust God and His plan. His ways are not my ways… they are much higher. As for the other issues my family and I deal with on a day to day basis… well, I’m believing for God’s hand to move and heal the loved ones that need healing, restore the relationships that need mending, and to provide all things needed for us to move forward. In the mean time, I’ve taken steps (quietly) toward some positive goals to set my mind on. Stay tuned… you never know what the the Lord has in store. I pray that my story gives strength to those who are struggling by showing that no matter what, God is there… HE WILL come through! I’ll leave ya’ll today with a recipe for Apple Chips that I adjusted and made my own by adding a few twists! Have a blessed weekend!

PUMPKIN SPICE APPLE CHIPS
Ingredients
-3 Large Golden Delicious or Fuji Apples
-2 tbs organic, raw sugar
-1 tsp Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice

Directions
preheat oven to 200 degrees. line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Cut apples REALLY thin (too thick will make ’em too mushy). lay out apple slices on sheets in one, even layer. mix sugar with pumpkin spice and sprinkle 1/2 the mixture over the apples. Place sheets in the oven and let bake for one hour on the center rack. Take out, turn over the apples and sprinkle with remaining sugar and pie spice mixture and place them in the oven once more for 1- 1.5 hours or until golden and crispy! Place on a rack to cool, and store in a tupperwear container.