July 11, 2020

My Resignation as a Cross Country Coach


I'm heartbroken right now to say that today, I resigned from coaching cross country.

In 2015, my good friend Renee and I started a cross country team for kids who were too young to join the school's team. Renee is actually the friend who got me started running way back in 2010!

We wanted to make a team so that kids could learn about running early on. When I was in school, I didn't even know what cross country was until I was halfway through high school! We thought it would be great for kids to learn about running before they had to make decisions about sports in middle school or high school.

I've loved coaching through the last several years. There are some times that I felt super stressed by it, but it was ALWAYS worth it to see the kids' excitement and watch their self-confidence grow throughout the season. (I'm a volunteer coach, so it's not a paid position.)



I've always put my heart and soul into coaching these kids. I spent a lot of my own money to make practices creative and fun. I spent way too much time entering their times on spreadsheets to show them how much they've improved. I developed award systems to inspire them to run more.



Last year, Renee accepted a teaching job and wasn't able to coach with me. I was super nervous to do it by myself, but I managed. And it went well! I missed her company, but I was able to really become more outspoken and step out of my comfort zone.

This year, Renee said she'd be able to coach again, and I was thrilled. It was always fun to coach with her! We'd always held our first practice of the season in mid-August. Because the kids we coach are young (3rd-5th grade), there isn't any reason to start conditioning in the spring for the fall season. Our team was just about getting kids to learn about and have fun running.


Last year, I felt some pressure to start practices early, so I started them in early July. This was pretty stressful for me, but the middle schoolers start early in the year and a couple of the parents were pressuring me to start early. So I did.

I was getting pressured again this year to start practices early. Then I learned that some of the kids from my team were going to the middle school practices, and that wasn't cool for the middle school coach (not her fault--she was very unfairly taken advantage of). We agreed that our teams needed to practice separately, and everything was fine.

Renee and I decided on August 10th to be our first practice this year, and I wrote it in our team's Facebook group. I even took the time to write up a modified version of my Cookies Summer Challenge to hold the kids over until practices start.

Within the hour, the two parents that had been pressuring me to start early had started a new Facebook group and recruited the kids from my team to join their new "running club". They chose the same location for practices that I had used and had even requested money for practices and to buy "incentives" for the kids.

In a nutshell, they unofficially took my team and coaching position, pushing me out of the picture because I wasn't going to start practice until August. I was completely blindsided by the whole thing.

Today, things just continued to get worse. I wish I could write out all the details here, but I've probably written too much already. I'm just so angry and upset about everything. Our team has always worked great! Until now.

So far, the school hasn't stepped in--which surprises me, because this new "club" is using the school's logo--so I don't know what is going to happen with that. Worst case scenario, they'll just have to change the logo so they aren't affiliated with the school. But something that really bothers me is that they used our team's private Facebook page to recruit the kids to their new club, even making it look like it was okay'ed by myself and the school.

I was very hurt that after all I'd done for their kids--which was a lot--they would do this. I thought about it all last night and today. I ultimately decided that I would resign from coaching. Cross country isn't supposed to be full of drama (which it has been since this started) and I don't want that. I just want to coach kids and get them excited about running.

The saddest part about this to me is that the kids are caught in the middle of the drama. The kids LOVED cross country last year (especially thanks to many of your donations for rewards!).

There is so much more I wish I could write about to explain this in detail, but I can't right now because of the people involved. But trust me when I say that I don't think that my resignation is an overreaction.

Renee is still going to coach anyone that wants to join the official school team, and the kids have always loved her (she's a substitute teacher, so they know her well). I know they'll have a good season. (There may not even be a season because of COVID--who knows?)

But after the betrayal I felt, I think it's just time for me to move on. Maybe I'll use this fall to really try to focus on ME and getting myself back to feeling my best. Cross country has always taken so much time and energy that it's all I think about during the season. It's just a shame it had to end this way.


July 10, 2020

Happy National Kitten Day!


Today is National Kitten Day! And I am so excited that this is the first time (and likely, only time) that we'll be able to celebrate it with actual kittens :) Next year, they'll be all grown up!

It's so hard to believe we've have them for two months already. They've grown SO much. Here is a comparison photo with a two-month difference:




We had been thinking for months about getting two male siblings from a shelter or rescue. I've always been a big proponent of adopting older cats rather than kittens because the older cats are much less likely to be adopted (everybody wants kittens).

We found a couple of tuxedo cats at a rescue, but they didn't work out (you can read about it here). However, they had several solid black kittens that were going to be ready in a month or so to adopt. My family wanted kittens so badly, and because the woman at the rescue said that black kittens are very hard to adopt out, I decided to compromise and get kittens, as long as they were black. (Eli also requested a long-haired one.)

We ended up getting a long-haired one and a short-haired one (from the same litter). We agonized over what to name them--we wanted to stick with the Friends theme, but nothing sounded right.

Ultimately, we decided to go with Chick and Duck. If you don't remember from the show, Joey and Chandler got a baby chick and duck as pets, and they named them "Chick" and "Duck". At first I wasn't crazy about the names, but I have grown to LOVE them. I affectionally call them "Little Duck" or "Duckling" and "Chicklet" or "Little Chick"

The kittens are the perfect combination of playful and cuddly. They tear around the house like crazy, wrestling with each other and chasing after toys; and then when they nap, they curl right up against my chest or face. Duck likes to sleep ON MY HEAD. Literally. Chick usually sleeps near Jerry.

We are SO SO SO glad that we adopted them! Having kittens is so much fun. They've kept us so entertained during the quarantine. If you are thinking of getting kittens, please adopt from a shelter or rescue! And I highly recommend getting two--they keep each other super busy and they love to cuddle together for naps.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the last two months. I had to narrow it down from hundreds, hahaha. But let me say, it's nearly impossible to get good photos of them, because they are constantly moving. ;)













Chick has excellent balance. He likes to show it off all the time.








Duck always gets into everyone else's business, including Joey's. Duck is a little piggy and ALWAYS wants to eat!




This is how Chicklet usually sleeps :)



Blogging with kittens is tough sometimes!



Duck's regular sleeping spot on my head.



Estelle tolerated this situation for about 15 seconds. Then she hissed and ran away. But look how Little Duck seems to be smiling at her with admiration! haha







Here, Duck saw a fly and was tracking it very carefully. He eventually caught it!



Chick has two light-colored tufts of hair that stick out from behind his ears. It's so funny looking, especially from the back!



I hope the pictures warmed your heart on this National Kitten Day! :)  Remember... adopt, don't shop! And I always try not to get preachy on my blog, but I beg you--please don't ever get a cat declawed. I just feel the need to mention it when I talk about adopting cats.

Anyone have cats with fun quirks? Please share! I love reading about different personalities of cats.

July 09, 2020

Hunger Games Movie Marathon!

I'm not going to write a "real" blog post today, because Jerry is off work and we are going to have a Hunger Games movie marathon! It's been years since we watched those movies. But here are some pics for entertainment purposes ;)








After Jerry saw these pictures, he decided to go shave his face. Hahaha! He said it looks like he has dirt on his face (he never grows facial hair).

G'night! :)

July 08, 2020

Delay, Don't Deny


I'm just going to keep this super quick, because I want to get to bed soon. I'd like to get up early tomorrow to work on the garage some more. It's been SO HOT outside (mid-90's) and I'd rather work on it during the morning.

Anyway, I posted recently that I was reading a book called 'Delay, Don't Deny' by Gin Stephens (Amazon affiliate link). It's a book about intermittent fasting, and several people were curious if I was going to give it a try again.

I wasn't going to post about it yet, considering my history with this kind of stuff--making plans and then not following through--and I don't want this to be just another one of those times. However, since several people have asked, I do think that I'd like to try intermittent fasting again.

I did it as a 30-day experiment last year, and I really loved it. For once, I wasn't thinking about food all day; and I felt better mentally and physically. The problem was that I wasn't losing weight. None.

My clothes weren't getting looser either, which some people said would happen before seeing progress on the scale. So, I was frustrated. I really liked the lifestyle, but I didn't like that I wasn't losing weight.

Jerry started doing it a couple of months ago and he's dropped about 25 pounds! He really loves it, and it's inspiring me to do it as well. I listened to the audiobook The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung (Amazon affiliate link) and I really loved it.


I actually bought the book (in paperback) a long time ago, but each time I started to read it, it sounded like it was going to be a low-carb, no-sugar, keto-type of book. I will never quit carbs or sugar, so I couldn't get past the first couple of chapters.

However, in listening to the audiobook, it went by much faster--and I learned that it's much less biased than I'd thought. It's very factual in HOW people gain and lose weight and it's very different from all the stuff we've heard for decades. He touches on fasting, but only at the end. Most of the book describes how weight loss works (physiologically).

I'm reading Delay, Don't Deny now, which is a much shorter, more basic book about intermittent fasting as a lifestyle. This is the approach Jerry has taken (I'll describe that in another post) and so I feel like I'd like to give it another try.

After listening to The Obesity Code, I realized a few things I was doing "wrong" (or at least things I could have been doing better) the first time I tried intermittent fasting. Now that I feel like I truly understand how it works, I think that I can work it to my advantage better and hopefully lose weight.

Another reason I'd like to try it is because of the chronic pain that I have. I've read about the health benefits of using fasting for reducing inflammation, so I'm curious to see if it would work for me.

I'll write in more detail about all this soon, but right now, I don't even know if I'll stick to it, considering my track record--so I'd like to give it some time before I write about how it's going. But I will write about how Jerry's been doing and what his schedule is as far as his fasting times.

Whether you're considering intermittent fasting or not, I highly recommend the book The Obesity Code. It's fascinating and really helps to understand how the body works (which then helps when deciding what/how much/when to eat for whatever the ultimate goal is (health, weight loss, etc).

July 07, 2020

The MAX Incident and Aftermath


I recently got some news from my friend Thomas, in Portland, that I found to come at a good time amidst all of the craziness of 2020.

This involves a hate crime regarding race (from a few years ago) and because it struck rather close to me, I still think of it every so often.

In May 2017, I went to Portland to visit with my BFF. Whenever I go visit, I arrive at the airport and take the MAX (a light rail train system for public transportation that goes all over the city). Each train only has two cars, and it's a simple step-on step-off type system. I was really proud of myself for learning how to use it and being comfortable enough to do it myself! Especially from the airport.

By 2017, I knew the deal... go to the front of the airport and purchase a ticket for the MAX from a kiosk. Then you just step outside and the MAX will arrive shortly after (they run every five minutes or so).

The plan is that I buy my ticket, hop on the MAX, and then take it to a station that is convenient for Thomas to meet me. At that time, I was probably hypomanic due to starting new medications. Regardless, I was in a great mood when I stepped in line to buy my ticket. I was so excited to get on the MAX and go hang out with my friend!

I went to the kiosk and was in line behind a man who was taking a very long time getting his ticket. I don't think he spoke English, because when I offered to help, he seemed confused. So, I waited impatiently for him to finish, because after nearly five hours on a flight, I wanted to get moving!

Finally, I was able to purchase my ticket and stepped outside just as the MAX was leaving. So, I sat and waited for the next one. I sat down and texted Thomas, letting him know that I was on my way. At each stop, I told him, "Hey, I'm at such-and-such station!"

At one station, the train stopped to let people off. It was taking longer than usual for the train to start again. Eventually, people on the train were looking around, confused as to why it was taking so long. After a while, the conductor said that there was a delay and we'd get going soon. So, I waited a little longer.

I texted Thomas, asking what I should do. Then the conductor said that there was in incident in the train in front of us and that he wasn't sure how long it would take to get moving again. He didn't tell us what the "incident" was. Thomas texted me and said to just get off the train and walk to a particular building nearby and he would pick me up there in 20 minutes or so.

It was nice outside, so I dragged my suitcase over to a nearby building and just sat in the shade, enjoying just being there in Portland.

Eventually, Thomas showed up to pick me up, and all was good. The MAX still hadn't moved.

I totally forgot about the incident until the next day when I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone. I saw a headline that totally shocked me:


The story wasn't 100% clear that point, because the article was written just hours later. But here is the gist of what happened via this recent article.

There were two teenage black girls, Destinee Mangum, 16, and her friend, Walia Mohamed, 17. Mohamed is an immigrant from Somalia, and was wearing a hijab while on the MAX.

(Note: Because this post is regarding the sensitive topic of racism, I am not sure what words are politically correct because it seems to constantly be changing. So I really do not mean any offense if I use the wrong words regarding race--please correct me if I'm wrong).

According to the article, Jeremy Christian [the suspect] launched a racist, xenophobic rant on the crowded MAX train on May 26, 2017:
Witnesses said Christian [the suspect] unleashed a vile torrent about Muslims, Christians and Jews dying, spoke of beheadings and shouted, “Go home, we need American here!” Christian said he was exercising his right to free speech, and trying to get a reaction from the crowd.
Later, in an interview on LitHub.com, the girls described it like this:
"Destinee Mangum: We weren’t even supposed to be on the train that day. We got lost. We were on the train in the afternoon, when Christian got on at Lloyd Center. It’s a main stop in central Portland. For like eight minutes, he just yelled at us: “You’re nothing”; “Kill yourself”; “Get out of this country”; “Burn.” 
Walia Mohamed: “Muslims should die.” “Go back to Saudi Arabia.” As soon as he got on the train, he started yelling at us. It’s like our faces were a trigger. I felt like he was attacking me because I was wearing a hijab; Destinee was wearing something on her head, too. He was yelling stuff about Muslims and Christians as well. Plus, we’re both black. He was racist and didn’t like that either."

Two men on the train stepped between Christian and the teen girls--Taliesin Namkai-Menche, 23 years old, and Micah Fletcher, 21 years old. A man named Ricky Best, 53, was standing near Christian. Christian then shoved Namkai-Menche and Fletcher. Fletcher responded by shoving Christian a few times and telling him to get off the train.

(There are a few articles that said Best also stepped in, but the evidence presented at trial said he was "an innocent passenger standing next to Christian"; so I'm not sure which account is correct.)

Very quickly, Christian pulled out a knife and stabbed Namkai-Menche and Fletcher in their necks. Then Christian stabbed Best as well, even though Best had only been standing near him; Christian later stated, "I just assessed he was a threat," Christian said. "...He ended up collateral damage."

Namkai-Meche and Best each died of their injuries. Fletcher was wounded, but survived and testified at Christian's trial, which took place January 28, 2020. The sentencing was Wednesday, June 24.

Christian blamed Fletcher for the stabbings, saying, "Where I was brought up in North Portland, we defend ourselves. I did not commit an act of violence on that train."

He continued: “I do regret that two people died, but I do not regret my actions.”

And most shocking (to me): He said he unfairly has been labeled a racist.

Here is a photo of Christian at trial:


Several witnesses gave victim impact statements at the trial, some saying that they suffer from nightmares and PTSD.

This is why it hits me so hard, I think. The conductor had said there was "an incident" on the train in front of us, which was why we couldn't get moving... and I always wonder if that man at the airport hadn't taken so long to buy his ticket, would I have been on that train? What would I have done if a man started harassing two teen girls because of their race? I would like to say I'd try to be a hero and step in, but I honestly think I'd be too scared to.

I'm very lucky that I wasn't on that train because I can't even imagine the horror that the other passengers felt. I think it's amazing and heroic that the men stepped in for the girls, and so tragic that two men lost their lives while trying to help.

A photo of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, who passed away after being stabbed for stepping between Christian and the two targeted teen girls:



A photo of Ricky Best, a military veteran who also passed away after being stabbed by Christian. He left behind a wife, three sons, and a daughter:



A photo of Micah Fletcher, who survived the attack, and had a happy reunion with Destinee, one of the targeted girls on the train (along with her family):


The whole thing had me reeling when it happened, and like I said, I still think of it often. I was very curious to see what Christian's sentence would be, but since it's been three years, I hadn't searched for it much anymore on Google.

Thomas texted me after the sentencing to say that Christian received a life sentence without parole! I was thrilled to hear that. While there really isn't "justice" for a crime like this, at least he won't ever again be out on the streets to attack people for no reason other than the color of their skin. My heart breaks for the families of those that were impacted by what had happened. Reading the interview with the two girls was hard--I can't imagine what it would be like to be in that position.

Despite the horrible incident and the aftermath, I'm glad that this guy was sentenced to life in prison!

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