Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Listen. Just Listen.

Ok, I'm sorry.
This blog post isn't going to be funny either.
(Sheesh, what's happened to meeeee?)
I don't even know.

But I do know that sometimes there are these moments. You know, one of those moments that you just know will stick with you forever. I had one of those today.
They don't come around very often - the moments that you remember exactly where you were, what you were wearing, how you felt.

And it was beautifully eye-opening.

Today I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a field trip with 20ish 3rd graders. We walked to our destination in the 90 degree heat and waited outside in the unwavering sunshine for a good thirty minutes. Fortunate.

The USS LST 325 was docked in the harbor across from our school. It actually landed troops at Normandy on D-Day. What an amazing thing to have across the road, huh?

Well, we were finally permitted to begin our tour.
We walked in.
Straight up and onto the ship just as men had done back in  the 1940s.

The tour began. Kids began acting like kids. We kept walking. It was an amazing tour, but that's not what stands out.

As we were walking up to the galley, I noticed a gentleman sitting with another man, maybe his son.
He was elderly, in a wheelchair, and they were just sitting there taking it all in.
I'll never forget his coral shirt. His neat, velcro shoes. His wrinkled skin.
I made my way to them and sat down.
I asked the gentleman if he had served.
He started talking.
It poured out of him.
He was a veteran.
He had been on a similar ship.
He remembered it all.
"I was there.  I was only 18."

Thank you.
His teary eyes smiled up at me.
He thanked me for visiting.

That moment.
In that moment, I realized so much.
Mostly, I realized how important it is to stop and listen.
To real people. Real words. Real feelings.

Like kindness, it's so easy, yet so difficult.

Now that I've been all serious, listen (or watch) this awesome video.

This was a memorable day at school. The kids were hard at work writing letters, so I played some Kidz Bop for them as background music. They knew every word to every song. So, what does a teacher do? Takes 40 seconds to lip sync, of course!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I've been thinking a lot about kindness.
Last week, I read the book Wonder. It was wonderful.
Sorry, couldn't help myself there.

Anyway, it's a phenomenal read. But it has a great little piece that really stuck with me.

“If every person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary - the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” 
― R.J. PalacioWonder

Kinder than is necessary. Gah.
Yes. Just yes.

I'll go ahead and say it, though.
It's hard to be kind sometimes.
Like, it's hard to be kind to dumb.
Dumb like those people riding your bumper on the highway.
            ---Yes, speedy pants, I did intentionally slow down!
Or those folks that ask endless questions.
Or the people who keeeeeeeep talking - even though it's been made it clear that the room should be silent.
Or the trying students.
Especially the trying students.

Kindness is hard.
Being kinder than necessary sounds even harder.

But it's when folks are being kinder than necessary that we - I - feel special.

Like when your sweet neighbor brings you a Lisa Frank manicure set and some stickers.


Or when you find notes from a trying student at the end of a particularly tough day.

That second one, though... ;)

I wonder when I last made someone smile.
Made their day.
Or just made them feel special.

I think I'll work on that. :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Your Pity Party Invite

Yeah, so let's get this straight from the get-go: this is a blog post in which I will complain.

A lot.

So, this is your chance to escape.
Do it now, before you get drawn into my non-drama.
Yeah, non-drama.
And my stream-of-consciousness blabberings.

Without further ado, I present to you the non-drama of an overly (not really) stressed woman. 

I'M SOOOO TIRED! I could literally crawl into the bed right this very minute and sleep for twelve hours - no lie - I'm just that worn out. I woke up early this morning to hit the gym - I was up at stinkin' 4:30 in the morning. No person should be awake at that hour. But since I knew I had a meeting after school, the only time I could make the gym was early. Why not just skip the gym? Great idea; it's so great that I've been skipping the gym for a week now! Yeah, skipping the gym and stress eating. Who knew? This week, I've discovered that I love teaching 4th graders, I have the propensity to stress eat things made solely of sugar, and leading a Balanced Life is hard. Hard. Almost as hard as fitting into my pants these days.

Back to this morning's pre-crack of dawn happenings. With my water bottle in hand, I be-bopped through the house to the garage door. I was ready to pump some iron. Then I acknowledged my dogs. One, the gigantic one, was sick. Sick. Poor guy. No gym for me. So, I'm up at 4:30 in the morning to take care of a majorly sick dog and not work out. Great.

Poor guy   :(

Honestly, that's it.
I know. I know. 
There are a bajillion more people with more to juggle and are much more stressed than I am.
I know.
But that doesn't change the fact that I feel it.
I feel the stress of trying to do too much.
And I don't like it.
I don't do well with stress.
I don't do well with spreading myself thin.
I don't do well not functioning at 100%.

There's some beautiful quote somewhere by someone about doing one thing well or many things mediocre.
I don't do well with mediocre.
And I feel like that's what I'm giving.
I'm being mediocre at all things.
And it just flat out stinks.
Like sweaty kids after P.E.

The hard thing, though, is realizing that something has to give. It is impossible to do everything at 100%. It has to be. Therefore, I must choose: what do I want to do well. Perhaps later there will be more time for other things. But as for now, something's gotta give.

Maybe it should be the cooking. I'm pretty sure I could live off of these for a while....

It does have protein...

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lexington Kentucky's Run the (Wet) Bluegrass

What. A. Weekend, y’all.
Too good for too many words.
Here it is in pictures.
And some words.

I'm always excited to see my name on a race bib.
I'm also always pretty excited to take a selfie.

The line for the porta potties was crazy long.
And it was crazy windy, too.
I think our faces say it all.

Hills. We ran down lots and lots of hills.

This is me trying to take a selfie while running down a hill.

After running down the hills, there were more to run back up!
Confession - I straight up stole this picture from  my friend Karen.

Ok, this is really why I was trying to take a selfie while running. I wanted a pic of those folks!
In the midst of my whining about being cold and running up and down hills, this was happening.
She was even singing.
And she finished ahead of me.

We were all really happy to finish.
And to regain the feeling in our digits.

So, after a long car ride home from Kentucky and a few hours of sleep, I needed to complete the last CrossFit Open workout. Boy was it a doozy.

I took this one after I skinned my knee, finished the workout, almost lost my lunch, and cried a little.
I was pretty tired.

Action shot, courtesy of the hubs.
Apparently I keep a death stare when working out...

In two weeks I have this coming up....

Eeek! An opportunity for more SELFIES!!! ;)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

But I don't wanna....

It’s a Saturday morning, and I’ve planted myself on the couch with a warm cup of coffee and the laptop. I’ve got the blinds open so I can watch the sky change colors as I peck away at these familiar keys. The dogs, Buddy and Gracie, are already up and at it, and I find myself periodically trying to discourage them from fighting – wouldn’t want to wake Adam.

I do cherish my morning solitude.
In a little under two hours, I fully expect to be ready and at the gym waiting for…


 About a week ago, I, for some strange reason, registered for the CrossFit Open. Honestly, the strange reason was (1) peer pressure, and (2) direct questioning from the gym owner. Anyway, the Open is where anyone around the world can complete a posted workout, enter their scores, and see where they stack up against errbody else. Ultimately, it’s to find the best of the best.

I’m not the best of the best.
But that’s not supposed to matter. This is supposed to be fun. I’m supposed to enjoy the camaraderie of completing a workout together.

When the workout was announced Thursday night, I just wanted to give up ---

Workout 14.1
10 minutes to complete as many of the following:
30 Double Unders
15 Snatches at 55 pounds

Double unders are where a jump rope passes under your feet twice in one jump.
Snatches are where you bring a 55 lb barbell from the ground to over your head.

I barely have enough coordination to jump and move my hands at the same time, let alone jump and move the rope at different rates! And snatches…. When was the last time I did one of those? Hmmm…. And this is supposed to be fun?

So last night, I headed out to the sports equipment store, bought my own rope, and high tailed it to the gym to get in a double under cram session.

With lots of help and encouragement, I managed to get a few double unders in the hour that I was there. A few double unders AND some exhausted calves.

Today, I completely anticipate spending the entire 10 minutes smacking myself with the rope, trying to get those 30 double unders. I’ll be shocked if I make it to the weight lifting portion of the workout! We'll see.

So, my coffee's all gone.
The sun is in the sky.
I guess it's time to hoist myself up off of this couch and get my already sore calves moving!

Friday, January 3, 2014


It’s 5 o’clock on a Friday night.
The house is clean.
The fridge is full.
I’ve already had dinner.
And I’m sitting on the couch in some elastic waistband pants (NOT lazy pants – I sometimes workout in them!).

The hubs and I have no plans tonight. Apparently no one wants to go out and play with us.
Sigh. We’re old.

But that’s ok.  I’d rather be here all cozied up with my blanket.
This rare opportunity of downtime has given me time to think – to reflect, even – on the past year.

I’m embarrassed, though, that I had to flip through my phone’s camera roll to remember what we did earlier in the year. “/  Really? Geez Louise.  That being said, what better way to present my 2013 than in pictures!
So without further adooooo:

I began the year by challenging myself to raise money for LLS again and to run a stinkin’ marathon. I mean, who voluntarily signs up to run 26.2 miles? Little did I know that many friendships (and calluses) would be forged on this long and painful journey.
January is cold, y'all. I'm the running ninja on the left.

February was a big month.
 I ran.
A lot.
I had my first 16 miler. And 18 miler. And 20 miler.
My little brother turned 24 (what? I’m just 24… oh wait…).

I got up close and personal with this cow.

But most importantly, my childhood dream of going to Space Camp was fulfilled.
Where this happened…

Biggest story of the month – I put my giant dog in a button-down shirt.
He loved it.

Also, we planned a big kid vacation. One with flying and stuff.
Ah, Buddy!

After MONTHS of waiting, I finally mustered the courage to cut off my ridiculously long hair. Donation time!

Also after months of waiting, my marathon day finally came. My sweet husband and coach drove me and my mutant butterflies residing in my stomach up to Ohio. It was hands down the most difficult thing I’ve done. I mean, I cried.

I hurt for weeks after that bad boy.
However, I learned that I am capable of far more than I think.

In June, the hubs and I ventured to Washington State and cruised to Alaska. This was quite a feat seeing as the hubs can’t stand the thought of flying. I may or may not have told him that I would go with or without him…

We had a good time.

Us and a big chunk of ice.

July was a special month.
The hubs and I started CrossFit.
We spent a week with my sweet family. More importantly, this was a week that I didn’t have to cook my own food, do laundry, or worry about anything. It was amazing.
We also got our first professional pictures made. Photo shoots are easy for serious folks like us.

"Just act natural..."

First day of schoooooool….

I met someone really rad in September.
Well, I didn’t technically meet her. Not yet, at least.
See, when you try to search for yourself in Instagram, you sometimes get other people by the same name. But other Janells? Not likely.
Low and behold – another JANELL HILL!!!
Yeah. True story. She’s into fitness (she does CrossFit, too).
AND she’s married to a man with a big red beard.

Pretttttty cool, if you ask me!

I turned 27 again!
And I also had my first fall while running.
This was on a bridge.
In the dark.
With traffic.
In the middle of some teeniney town in Tennessee.
While I busted up my knee pretty badly, I was more bummed about ripping my favorite running capris. :(

This is well before the great fall.

I honestly don’t know what happened to November. I have virtually no pictures from that month! I mean, I know I ran… I ate… I went shopping…

Each December, I get all teary-eyed thinking about how lucky I am, what a great year it’s been, you know.

But I am.
And it was.

And now I can’t wait for all the special memories my 2014 camera roll is sure to hold! 
On a side note, I found this gem of a picture while thumbing through all of my pictures.
This is from Christmas 2012 when I got a 22 and a stuffed squirrel.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013, in Reverie

Waaay back in 2011 (seems like forever ago, eh?), I happened upon a lady's blog. Ok, ok. I was blog stalking her because she was training for a marathon and read a lot of cool books and I kinda wanted to be her. She completed this interesting questionnaire at the end of the year. So, wanting to be her, I copied.

I got to thinking about it last night when I couldn't sleep.
Now, let's talk 2013...

The Year 2013

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Single best thing...? Uhmmm. That's really tough.
I think that the best thing that happened this past year was going to stay with my parents for a week. A.Hill and I loaded up our dogs and headed to the hills of Tennessee for a week during July. I enjoyed spending my days sleeping in, eating food I didn't have to cook, and getting to see my awesome family.
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
My job description changed. Again.
This time, I became a Creative Writing teacher.
For K-5 students.
Yeah, I work with the little munchkins now.
It's really tested my patience.
How do you spell hungry? What time is it? What's the capitol of Arizona? Do you capitalize mom? Can you tie my shoe? When is lunchtime? He looked at me funny. Where are the crayons? 
Holy smokes was it a change. But I love it. They love you unconditionally, and that's something to be cherished. 

Also, running a marathon. That mess was hard.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
I got to vacation in Alaska.
Never thought it would happen.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Buying a new car.
Decisions are hard.
I think we looked at and test drove a bajillion different vehicles at a bajillion different dealerships before settling on one.
Being wishy washy is a hard job, friends.

5. Pick three words to describe 2013

We ate a lot of bacon in 2013.
Not ashamed.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking).

8. What were the best books you read this year?
I'm embarrassed to admit that I finished more tv series than books. Watching tv is kinda like reading, right...?
Tear Jerker: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Favorite YA Book in a Series: Divergent by Veronica Roth (and the others, too!)
Didn’t Think I’d Love It but Did: AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller (now I really wanna hike the AT!)

9. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
While I'm by no means really fit, my biggest personal change is a shift from sitting on the couch (a lot!) to working out AND running. In July, A.Hill and I started CrossFit and we love it. It's all about overall fitness and nutrition - how could that be bad?
10. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
For reals.