My Reason

Daily Prompt: In Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen sings, “At the end of every hard-earned day / people find some reason to believe.” What’s your reason to believe?

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Because everything happens for a reason..
The places I go..
and still haven’t gone
the people I meet..
and the friends I have yet to find
The challenges that test me..
and the fears that I’ve stomped on
The greatest experiences..
and those I would love to forget
Even when I don’t understand why –
Everything happens for a reason.

Nate

Everything happens for a reason..

“Everything happens for a reason” – I hear that phrase often.  Sometimes, I’m the one saying it to myself.. and sometimes, I’m saying it to a friend, colleague or sometimes – it’s my own husband saying it right back at me.  As I ponder the phrase and what it actually means to me – I think about the life experiences and where they’ve all led me.

Places I’ve been:
There have been many..
moves (because moving means starting over, right?)
houses (more than I can count..at least 30)
cities & towns (some not even on the map)
schools (of all sorts, but usually on the smaller side)
most against my own will (the lovely childhood/teen years)
but far more I have yet to see..and very willingly I might add!!

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Paris, France 2012

My husband and I are in the midst of planning a two-week vacation to Italy (Venice, Rome, Sorrento) and I’ll have to say, if it weren’t for all of these previous  moves in my life, I might still be hesitant to travel.  Three years ago, we went to France & Germany for a wedding & vacation.  My eyes were opened and it was then that I realized just how much I truly loved International travel – and promised myself I would see more of this fabulous world that we live in! It was like I had been missing out – all my life – and part of me wishes that I would have experienced this sooner, but everything happens for a reason.  I can’t see myself traveling the world with anyone else than the love of my life.. and it was certainly worth the wait!

People I’ve met:
Childhood friends (giving credit to Facebook for this one)
Best friends (I can count them on one hand! – they know me well)
College friends (some of my best memories – hands down!)
Work friends (have made me stronger and believed in me)
“More like family” friends (as far as I’m concerned, they are family)

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Childhood Friends

A few years ago, I reconnected with my childhood friend Keri on Facebook.  We had one of those unforgettable friendships when we were younger – 6th grade, I was the “new” girl in town – and I sat next to her in Mrs. Semling’s class. She loved the latest fashion trends, bright pink lipstick, perfume that smelled sweet (think back to “Tribe” and “Exclamation”), spray on suntan lotion with glitter (who cared if the SPF was ..hmm, come to think of it – was there an SPF?!) We spent our summer on the roof of my house sunbathing, our hair drenched in Sun-In, with our favorite music playing through the open window – New Kids on the Block, Bobby Brown and maybe even a little Paula Abdul and Roxette..these were the days of “mixed tapes”. It was there that we discussed some of life’s most crucial questions – who would we share a locker next to? What outfit would we wear the first day of school? .. More importantly, who were those boys standing in front of us at the movies last night? And now, today – we still talk about those carefree days of being young, curious and unsure of ourselves. I love when a childhood friend transforms (years later) into a best friend – she knows my past, present and will continue to share good times with me in the future too..

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Friends Forever, Aug. 2009

Best friends are hard to come by, and the few that I have, I’m grateful for. Over the years, I’ve met them through my work, college and sometimes through other friends. I’ll never forget my first day at Northwest Christian College. I was overwhelmed with boxes and finding a place for all of my belongings on my side of the room. The girl across the hall was playing this obnoxious music..I remember thinking to myself how I was already dreading the room I was placed in.  A few days later my roommate and “the girl across the hall’s” roommate arranged for the 4 of us to walk around the U of O campus together.. little did I know, that a “dare” to prank an innocent bi-standard during  our walk would lead to a lifelong friendship – Karen lives in Arizona and our visits are very seldom.  She was the maid of honor in my wedding almost 6 years ago – it’s my turn to go see her.  We’ve shared so many “laughing until you cry” moments – we text when we can, email when we can, talk on the phone when we can – but when we reunite – we pick up right where we left off!

camping workfriend

Sometimes I feel like my work friends cross into my “more like family” friends – simply because I spend 8+ hours of my day with them Monday-Friday and if they truly become “more like family” – sometimes, I even spend weekends with them! I suppose my “more like family” friends could be considered somewhat close to some of my best friends too.  These are the friends who give me advice about life, love, and while they have my best interest at heart, they are not afraid to be brutally honest and tell me where I could stand to make some improvements too.  I treasure these friends because I know I can count on them – they have my back – I can vent to them, I can share my fears & misgivings with them, and sometimes – I can even fall apart in front of them.  They are my early morning power walking partner, my lunch date at the Sub Shop, my weekend adventurer at a new campsite, my morning cup of coffee on the weekends, my sounding board and support – even during the political drama that often occurs in the realm of higher education.

All America City Winners

All America City Winners, Yakima WA.

All of these friends have stepped into my life at the right moment – when I needed them the most, they were and continue to be there for me.. because, everything happens for a reason.

Spring Media FAM, Naches Heights

Challenges & experiences I’ve faced:
I believe it’s human nature to avoid challenges – because as I’ve recently been reminded, it’s only through our challenges that we grow stronger as a person.  It might be painful, uncomfortable and frustrating – but during these growing pains, we become stronger, more confident and better in our personal lives, in our work lives, and with those who we encounter on a daily basis.  As a friend of mine would say, “Heather just tell yourself, I GOT THIS!”  She is right, because really – I DO…I’VE GOT THIS!

Almost a year ago today – one person who will be known as “Crazy Town” or “Tinkerbell”  turned my world upside down – to the point of which I swear I was living in the Twilight Zone! I did not think I was capable of seeing this “challenge” through, I felt like the world was against me, and quite often asked myself – what did I do to deserve this?! Luckily, I had friends who encouraged, listened and lifted my spirits .. and then – it happened – I was on the Yakima Herald looking at the classified section (on my lunch break of course) .. and there it was .. a job posting for Yakima Valley Tourism as the Travel Media Trade Relations Manager.  I read the job description (sounded like fun) and the requirements (I had most of them), and then there was that “APPLY” button .. in which, with no hesitation at all, I submitted my cover letter, resume and references .. went back to work and hoped for the best.

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French Media Winery Tour

Two months and two interviews later .. on a sunny afternoon, I received a phone call that changed my life forever! I was offered this job .. this job that I had only ever looked or applied for because of a “challenge” in my life and now – it was mine! I’ve been with Yakima Valley Tourism for almost a year and I absolutely love it! It has forced me to leave my comfort zone, it has challenged me to utilize my organizational skills, writing skills, GPS skills to their fullest..but I love it. I love the people I work with – we are all one team, and we all have the same goal – to promote the heck out of the Yakima Valley and let it shine!!!! It’s a job that exudes positivity, endless possibilities, and continuous new discoveries. It’s a job that I feel good and excited about – I learn something new every day. So, Crazy Town, if you are reading this, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because without your ridiculous lies, laziness and unmentionable work ethics, I would have never even been looking for this job! This experience has shown me that even through our darkest moments of not understanding – EVERYTHING happens for a reason!

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A new adventure awaits you..

This post ended up being longer than I anticipated, but at the end of the day, we all have our reasons for believing. Mine (unbeknownst to me) just happens to be a little categorized.  The important thing is though – to have a reason to believe.. believe in miracles, unknown places yet to be found, friendships, love & loss, and new adventures still waiting to be experienced!

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Like Mother … Like Daughter?

Blogging 101: Today’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/101-dream-reader/

Garden Valley 2005

Sometimes when I’m looking at the mirror .. getting ready in the morning .. I see your reflection looking back at me.  I’ve been told that in certain pictures I’ve posted that I look just like you.  The other day, as I excused myself from a funny conversation, laughing to myself as I walked to my car – It was your laugh I heard.. and when I find myself consoling a friend, always looking at the brighter side, I hear you in my word choice.. Just the other day, I was visiting with some friends, sharing memories – and I was reminded of those early mornings, when I would watch you get ready for the day.  If anyone could pull off the short pixie haircut, it was you…even that time you dyed your hair and it turned bright orange (remember the sulfate water in Hillsboro, McKay Creek Farms) – you still looked amazing! You had the perfect pair of black heels, pencil skirt, and electric blue silk blouse.. and when you applied the finishing touches with the signature red lipstick – your meticulous morning routine left no room for imperfection.. because in my eyes,  you were a movie star in the making .. the look-alike singer in that 80’s Band Roxette .. at least that was the general consensus of my friends in junior high… and you were the one I looked up to, you were who I wanted to be when I grew up…

my first horse heather and siblings.

I wish I could go back in time, and relive those moments of us together, when we still got along – staying up late and watching those mini series movies together (this was obviously before Netflix), remember that time you took me to get my very first manicure? It was right before my sleepover at Stefanie’s house… horseback riding … road trips to the various houses we lived in – I even enjoyed those times together .. painting that room upstairs in the loft when we lived in Lostine … learning how to make lasagna with you when we lived in St. Helens in that log house … listening to you sing “She’s In Love With The Boy” on our way to the store – I remember thinking to myself, what a beautiful voice you had that day… Freshman Homecoming Week, you “bought” Jake & Keri at the “Freshman Slave Auction”- and had them come dress shopping with us so that I could find that perfect dress.. that is actually one of my favorite memories I have with you.  I tried on several dresses … and yet .. it was that first blue violet dress with the embroidered floral print that stole your heart, and you told me, “Heather – THAT is THE dress!” and of course,  we had to get it!  You picked out a beautiful set of Austrian crystal earrings, and a  heart-shaped necklace with my initial carved in the middle.  I still have that jewelry set, and I think about you every time I wear it… all of my high school heart breaks .. friendships that had gone astray … ridiculous assignments that were required throughout the years .. you were there for all of it.  And, when I left for college the first time .. and the second time .. and even the third (and final) time .. I came home to visit, and we would catch up over a pot of coffee .. and numerous interruptions from brothers and a little sister .. and sometimes even the occasional kitty or Saint Bernard.  You always had the best stories on all the neighbors and town people .. with whom you swore you had nothing to do with .. but yet, still had all the dirt on! You were always good for that — and sometimes, when I’m telling a story of my own .. It’s you that I hear telling the story.

Remember when that movie “Mamma Mia!” came out? I remember you watching the previews for it and saying, “That looks like the most ridiculous movie ever!” I hadn’t given much thought to the movie … until people kept telling me that I needed to see this movie and that I would undoubtedly enjoy the plot of it – a girl who is about to get married, doesn’t know who her father is .. finds her mother’s diary .. in which she discovers the possibility of finding her dad … just in time for her wedding day. This movie (with the exception of it taking place in Greece, and the additional 3rd man) was relatable to me in so many different ways – If only life could be like the movies .. and if only you had written your deepest most personal thoughts in a diary … when you still loved my dad .. and I could still read about it.. I know that life was hard when you had me, when you left your first husband, when you raised me on your own for a little while, when you remarried someone else who also had a child, when you spent time and money in numerous family counseling sessions .. and when even then – life continued to get harder.  I wish that someday you could understand where I am coming from when I tell you that I never meant to hurt you or the rest of my siblings when I decided to seek him out.  It was never my intent to uncover a secret .. I’ve never had any ulterior motive or hidden agenda – I simply wanted to know who he was .. and when I began my search, seeking him out was initially so that I could rule him out as even being my dad because I BELIEVED the story you told me so long ago – the story that I was obsessed with for my entire life .. of a man .. a best friend .. who helped you conceive a baby .. so that your father could see his first grandchild before he died… that is what I had always believed in my heart … without any question, without a picture of what this man looked like .. without ever getting to introduce myself to him – I believed you.. and that night, when I told you what I found out, and all you could say to me was “How could you do this to me?” – I was speechless, after all these years – of me believing a story … and you wanted to know how I could do this to you.  You were so angry that night – at what I had done .. and you blamed the man you remarried for not being the father he should be .. because to you, that’s why I had to go looking for him.  Maybe if it hadn’t been treated like a dirty little secret, if I could have talked more openly about him (whoever “he” was) to you, maybe if you took my feelings about this seriously when I was younger .. and maybe if you could step back and realize that you aren’t the only one who has changed in 20 years .. then maybe we would still be talking today.

My Wedding Day My Wedding Day

You missed one of the most important days of my life – because you wanted me to promise you that “the others” would not talk to you or my little sister.  You didn’t want to be in any pictures with “the others” or “him” because that would just be a “picture full of lies”  What about the picture and what it would have meant to me? A picture that has my mother and my father (the two people who created me and who I love) together – not as a family, but simply a picture of me with both of my parents.  For one day, not even a full 24 hours, you could have watched your first child walk down the aisle and marry her best friend.  You’ll never get to see that moment – you missed it.. and that hurts… that is what I struggle with – when I think of all the other times you were there for me.  You are my mom – why couldn’t you just put your personal feelings aside and just be there for me on such a special and emotional day of my life.  I don’t understand – and I hope that someday I will.. because it still breaks my heart.  Do you know – his Dad came to our wedding .. my grandfather .. the man who refused to go to his own son’s wedding because he was against it from the get go … but he came to his granddaughter’s wedding, and although I don’t know him that well, I was very touched by the gesture, and the fact that there were more family members from my father’s side of the family.. and my own grandmother was there – and all of your sisters, and their children .. everyone was there to see me get married .. everyone but my own intermediate family who I lived with for over 20 years – It’s really too bad.. because it was a special day, something I wish you could have shared with me.

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I don’t know if you ever did watch that movie – but there’s 2 parts that always seem to get to me… the part where she is singing to her friends about her mother’s diary entries, and the end of the song she says, “I heard about you before, I wanted to know some more and now I’m about to see, what you mean to me.” That is exactly how I felt when I decided to find him – and I’m glad that I did because he is the most loving and caring parent – for what it’s worth, he’s an amazing man, and he & his family have only ever supported and loved me since our reunion.  I hope that someday you won’t be so bitter toward him or those who you claim are “dead to you” – bitterness turns into animosity and it isn’t healthy to have so much hate toward a person.  People do change – and he isn’t the man you knew straight out of high school… none of us are.

Missing Her Me & My Mom first birthday

The other part of this movie that touches me .. even makes me a little sad is when her mom is singing to her, getting her ready on her wedding day.. and reminiscing over a song, talking about when she was younger, and sitting at the breakfast table together, making plans .. understanding her daughter for just a moment in time .. this is how I choose to remember the type of relationship that we once had – because (before all of this) we did – and we were close, and I could tell you anything – I could confide in you, and I could trust you.  These are the memories I’m choosing to hold on to.. at the end of the song … she sings, “Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture, and save it from the funny tricks of time” – If only that were possible.

Who I am & Why I’m Here! … in exactly 20 minutes!!!!

Blogging 101: Today’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post.
Writing 101: Write about anything for 20 minutes
*I’m combining the Blogging 101 and Writing 101 assignment into 1 Blog.

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Hi – My name is Heather and I’ve actually had this blog site for a few years.  I decided I wanted to start blogging after I helped manage/write contact for a blog at PNWU.  I’ve also always wanted to keep a blog for personal reasons.  Sometimes, I think some of my posts should be private – because some of the content has been hidden from my life for so long…and why would I share this with the public?  Now that I’m no longer a child and have the freedom to write what is on my mind, I find that blogging is very therapeutic.  I know there are those out there who probably don’t like or agree with some of my topics .. but I read once, it’s important to treat others nice, because someday – if / when they decide to write about their life, you would want them to write nicely about you and the role you’ve played in their life.  I’ve had a few people in my life who I don’t mean to speak horribly about, but some of my experiences are just that – experiences .. and as I’ve been told before and told others, you can’t control the behavior of others, you can only control your own behavior and how you react to those life moments.  This has been hard for me – simply because for so long – I let others control me, out of fear, sadness, and simply the unknown.  It took some pretty amazing people to step into my life and help me realize that I’m better than that – and I deserve to be treated better than that.. that life is not about living by a bunch of ultimatums or being talked down to .. life is about so much more.  It’s about not being afraid to mess up, or to even put yourself out there and believe in yourself, or sometimes fall flat on your face.  We only have one life here on earth, so we better live it – because it’s no fun when someone else tries to live it for you!

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My name is Heather – and I’m here to blog..to blog about pretty much everything and anything under the sun – to record some of my happiest and saddest memories .. and to make new friends along the way! I’m hoping that this Blogging 101 and Writing 101 assignments will push me to write more and improve more in my writing.  I’m hoping that it will also help me set a routine – because I do love to write, I just need to make time for it – it’s so important to take time, even if it is just 20 minutes .. to write about what is happening – I start a new job in a week, and I’m a little scared. But, as my husband reminded me tonight, “Heather you’ve done all the pieces of this job in your other previous jobs .. now it’s time to put this puzzle together!” He is right – it’s time – to start this new chapter in my life.  I know it’ll be hard at first, there is always that “learning curve” but a year from now – I will look back on this post, and I will feel happy, relieved, and more confident in this job … than I do right now.  That’s why blogs are important – they capture your feelings at the very moment you are feeling them.. and then you can reflect on them later. Blogs freeze moments in time.  I might only have 4 minutes of time remaining – but for this moment, this is what I’m thinking about… and this might just be one blog full of rambles .. but that was the assignment – and it’s a first for me, because my blogs — they are never timed, nor are they full of random thoughts.

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Are “they” your “babies”

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While visiting a friend (and mother of 4) a few weekends ago, I was asked the question about my dogs: “Are they your babies?”
My husband, a very straight and to the point kind of guy responded and said, “No, I’m not that guy.”  I was then asked, “Are you that girl?”  And for a minute, I was silent – almost as if I was searching for the politically correct answer for those of us who have not “fulfilled our duty” and helped populate this overpopulated world.  I responded with a “They are animals, we love them, and they are a part of our family.”  The conversation progressed into how some people treat their animals like their children, and how that’s just strange behavior, maybe even unacceptable in the eyes of those who have children, and did not understand the idea of treating an animal like a person. 

billy Jack cats friends
Growing up, we always had animals – my mother worked for KOIN TV in Portland, Oregon and there was always a “Animal Rescue” of the day featured before the evening news.  If nobody called, we were “surprised” with a new pet.  I’ll never forget one morning, walking into the kitchen and seeing a handful of cats run across the kitchen table with my little brothers blueberry waffle (each holding a small part of it with their mouth), making a quick scurry for the sliding glass door that had been left open… my little brother (not more than 3 years old) watched in disbelief as his waffle quickly vanished from his breakfast plate.  It was one of those moments, when all I could do is also stare in disbelief and laugh at what had just transpired.  Yes, we had many animals growing up – cats, dogs, horses, pigs, goats, the occasional hamster and rabbit… they all added joy to our lives.  We knew they were animals  – as kids, of course, like most – when we had kittens, we carted them around in our doll strollers, dressed in doll clothing, wrapped up in our doll blankets – they were our “babies”.. and that’s what is great about being a child, there is no judgment, there is no politically correct answer, there’s just a child playing with her babies. 

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Every now and again when I drop off my Saint Bernard for her grooming appointment, I walk up and down the aisles of Pet Smart, and look at all the accessories, houses, purses, strollers even car seats that they have for all different types of animals.  The strollers are specifically made for animals, and it makes me giggle a little.  Although, I personally can’t justify a stroller, I’ll be the first to admit – when I do find my Tea Cup Poodle, I will be in search of the cutest and most girly purse to carry my little dog around in, and there certainly will be matching outfits involved… not because I believe animals to be the same as people, but because I just love to accessorize pretty much anything in my life, and why not – if it brings me joy and makes me smile, and I’m not hurting anyone, then why not?

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And what about those “people” who treat their animals like their babies? Are they really hurting anyone?  Do we honestly know what is going on in their personal lives.. and maybe, just maybe, these “babies” of theirs will be the closest reality for them to experience love, nurturing, bonding with another life.  Who are we to judge or to call them crazy for displaying the act of love?  Maybe they can’t have children and this is their way of coping with life situations, maybe this is their form of therapy, maybe they just love animals, and they want to enjoy the company of someone who doesn’t talk back, who doesn’t judge, who is always happy to see you at the end of a long day.  Maybe, like those who have decided to have children, they have decided to have animals.

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My husband and I don’t have children, we do have a Saint Bernard, a puppy, and a cat who “found” us a few years ago. Actually, a few years ago today – we had returned from one of our camping adventures (the last one before the end of summer). I looked out on our back porch and I immediately noticed this little kitten, skin & bones curled up to Destiny (our Saint Bernard).  I had always wanted a blonde kitty with blue eyes .. and that day, he found me! We named him Tigger, fed him, gave him a little cheta print house outside, and the rest is history! We share him with our next door neighbors, who lets him sleep inside their home at night.  He was meant for us though, just like our Saint Bernard, Destiny (who was born on the same night Nate proposed to me), and our newest addition, Penny the puppy (who found me outside of Target!) – we love her too, and we are happy with our life.  We are lucky to have animals that bring us lots of laughter & entertainment.. and we are lucky to have friends who have kids, that we can visit and enjoy … and we are lucky to have eachother, to come home to after a long day .. and enjoy a quiet evening, a night out on the town if we choose to do so, an unexpected weekend away, or a planned out 2 week vacation abroad.  For now, we are happy with the life we have – and we look forward to whatever life brings into our future.. because everything in life is what YOU make it.

-Heather Decker

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My Morning Mug

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This is my morning mug. It’s not only my morning mug, but my “weekend” morning mug. It is the mug I wake up to between 8am and 10am, that I’m happily greeted by on Saturday or Sunday, and it is what I often look forward to because I know that my weekend is officially here.

I’ve had this mug for almost 10 years now. It has evolved from a coffee cup left in my dorm room next to a September issue of Glamour magazine and a note from my aunt saying, “You can do this!” , to a permanent fixture on the corner counter of my kitchen, reminding me that Saturday is just around the corner!

During my college years, this mug  served well in times of late night caffeine fixes during numerous midterm / final study sessions, long heart to heart talks with friends, and even those early morning epiphanies that were easily followed up with by another jolt of “wake the heck up”, before that dreaded AM class!  Being a communications major, I didn’t have too many early morning classes (2 to be exact – 7AM Intro. to Communications & 7:30 Intro to Design/Edit, both my sophomore year).  Thankfully, as more of the communication classes worked their way into my schedule, I also had more Friday’s of NO class..apparently com prof’s were accustomed to having their Fridays off, believe me when I say this – I certainly wasn’t one to complain! In this case, my little mug took a seat on the sidelines, while I took a walk down to D&M or Starbucks and caught up on some studying or maybe a chat with a friend…. let’s be honest, Fridays are still Fridays .. and most times – it was more likely a social outing than anything related to academics.

As “College Life” ended and “Real Life” began, this little cup of goodness quickly fell into its new role, in which this Monday-Friday, 8AM – 5PM working girl greatly appreciates. It is now the mug that (once filled) I hold in my hand, sip slowly, and make plans for the day, which might include a walk around my quaint and quiet neighborhood, usually consisting of birds chirping, the sun rising, and those who reside in Zillah Lakes awaking with their own cup of Joe in hand.   Sometimes, I enjoy this mug of coffee while I watch my Saint Bernard and kitty cuddle together on our back porch, or over a phone conversation with my best friend (it’s our time to catch up on life) while I stick a load of laundry in the washer and “think” about possibly doing some yard work. Sometimes, this mug is accompanied with a plate of warm cinnamon rolls, a mid-morning movie, and much-needed snuggle time with my husband.  It’s also the mug that keeps me company while I brainstorm or write my latest blog, and when it’s empty – it’s the mug I fill back up, in hopes of more inspiration for the “right” word or that perfect ending to a story I’ve wanted to share, but just haven’t had the time to stop and think.. and freely write my thoughts… while I take a sip out of my morning mug.

By Heather Decker
*Credit to Melody Olsen for giving me the idea of writing about my morning mug 🙂

Fitness = Fun

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write – by Erica on August 12, 2013
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/writing-challenge-health/

This week’s creative writing challenge, tell us about what health means to you. Have you struggled with an illness, physical or emotional?  What got you through that time? How it has changed your perspective? Are you a fitness fanatic? Let us know about how you got interested in athleticism and the ways it affects your life.  Let us know what brings you happiness and balance, through physical effort or mental calm.

The Skort Outfit

The “Skort” Outfit

Fitness: Friendships & Falling in Love
“Hey, I have an idea .. let’s go to the gym this morning,” he says – smiling, as if the excitement in his voice and pearly whites are going to motivate me to jump out of bed and say, “That’s a great idea!”   It is one of those Saturday mornings … the kind of Saturday morning that, quite honestly, after a crazy week of classes, all-night cram sessions, group projects, and endless family dramas, I want nothing more than to stay right where I’m at, wrapped up in a zebra print sheet set, complete with the matching comforter and pillow case.  I remember thinking – even back then, that this bed decor could use some updating .. I mean seriously, can we say “Goodbye 1995?!”  I could tell I wasn’t going to win this – and so I agreed to go to the gym .. on my Saturday.

When I think back to my experiences with exercise, health and fitness, I have few memories.  I remember that throughout grade school / high school – I dreaded gym class. It was never a favorite class of mine – and that is what I equated “working out” to for most of my life.  After high school – I tried here and there to “workout”.  While I lived in Idaho – I remember an ex-boyfriend (who shall remain anonymous) taking me to a gym that he went to on the National Guard base. It was the biggest disaster ever, partially because our relationship was on the fritz, and this was his solution in bringing us closer together – we could workout together. I decided to give this a try, so the night before – I went shopping, and made sure I had the cutest outfit to “workout” in.  I didn’t know the  first thing about exercise, but I wanted to make sure that I looked my best .. and so, after work that day – we headed over to the base. I changed into a pair of black shorts and a fitted pink & black stripped tee, slipped into my brand new pink puma shoes, pulled my hair back into a ponytail, giving myself a once-over in the mirror, I was ready! I’m not quite sure what my ex was doing, but I walked out of the changing room first, and remember staring at  all of these machines – not knowing what to do exactly – they all looked so foreign to me.  Then, this other (quite handsome) guy walked over to me and asked if he could help me out. “Sure,” I said, “This is my first time here, and well .. how exactly do you use these machines?” He smiled, “Oh it’s quite simple, here let me adjust the seat height and weights for you!” He walked me through the basics, and even got me started on some of the free weights.  At this point – I had totally forgotten about my ex, that I had arrived with my ex .. I was enjoying the company, and just as this handsome young man started to ask my affiliation with the gym on this base .. out walks my ex .. in the ugliest outfit .. an old faded cream-colored t-shirt with a big mallard duck printed on the front, neon yellow swim trunks, knee-high socks and black dress shoes! “Sorry it took me so long, ” he says, walking towards me, “I couldn’t seem to find my tennis shoes.” My face turned fifty shades of red .. the guy next to me, trying his hardest not to laugh, watched us both. I wanted to pretend like I didn’t know him, I wanted to tell him what an idiot he was for wearing such a ridiculous outfit and that I hated to even be seen with him! Heck, I knew NOTHING about going to a gym, but at least I made sure to wear clothes that matched, and shoes that were meant for exercising! “Thanks for helping her out,” he says to my new friend, “But, I’ve got it from here.” As I walked away from Mr. Handsome and followed Mr. Fashion Disaster .. I already knew that this wasn’t going to work, and I was right – soon after this, we broke up.

Nate & Heather,  College Days

Nate & Heather,
College Days

“You can’t wear that to the gym.. ” he tells me, as I come out of my dorm room in a cute light pink pair of skorts and fitted green tee.  “Why not?” I ask, still contemplating why the heck I gave up my Saturday to get all gross and sweaty, “Well, because – what is that?- is that a skirt you are are wearing? You can’t wear a skirt to the gym, it’s inappropriate!” Nate truly looks concerned about my outfit of choice – which was a first for me.  “It’s not a skirt, It’s a skort!” I thought it was perfectly acceptable for working out in. He nodded his head side to side .. “What exactly is a skort?” .. I explain to him that a skort is a skirt with shorts, making it all the more “appropriate” for gym wear! Well, he wasn’t sold on the idea, but that Saturday morning, Nate and I walked over to the Nicholson Rec Center and we worked out together.  I remember while Nate showed me the machines, adjusting my seat height and weights, thinking back to that day with my ex, and just how embarrassed I was to be seen with him.  I watched Nate in his sleeveless white Nike Dri-Fit Tee, black & orange shorts .. that matched his black & orange sneakers, he looked so sleek – like he belonged in this gym, and I – I was with HIM – my very own Mr. Handsome! I was so proud to walk in and out of that gym with him.  We (to my surprise) talked a lot while lifting weights. He helped me lift the bar – as he stood over me, encouraging me, telling me “One more, come on, you can do it .. just one more, you got this!” I felt this connection with him, bonding and working out, it was this experience that turned me on to exercising.  And then came his turn – but he lifted more than just the bar, and I tried my best to motivate him to lift that bar, mostly hoping he did lift it – because if it happened to fall on his chest – well, I would probably just burst into to tears, frantically grab the closest guy to help me.  Luckily, this was never an issue – because I’m sure Nate knew I was not capable of lifting a 100+ pound weight off of him.  As we left that day – my perspective on Saturday workouts changed – and I actually looked forward to this time we had together.  Little did I know that this time – the shoe was on the other foot..  “I saw you at the gym today,” Ajay, a guy in my dorm hall said in passing, “Oh Yeah..” I said to him. “Haha, I sure did .. good job at lifting that bar,” he sarcastically said to me.  In one day – I had been teased for not only my choice in clothing but for my lack of strength too.  I figured this was probably my payback for that day at the gym with my ex.  Normally, I would let comments like Ajay’s influence me, even my roommate liked to tease me for how much time I spent at the gym – as she would say, “I don’t know why you go to that gym, it’s so ghetto.. nothing like the one I have at home!”  She was right, it was pretty ghetto, but that year – while she invited  her sleazy / cheater / mono-giving boyfriend over, I was happy to head out to the gym and hang with Nate…

Heather & Sara Homecoming Dance

Heather & Sara
Homecoming Dance

I remembered both of my aunts telling me how important it was to sign up for fitness classes while in college – they were usually 1 credit classes, and usually helped break your week up a little too.  What they didn’t tell me – usually, it’s a Grad student who teaches these classes… In my case, the first Abs class I took was not only a Grad student, but he had also done time with the Marines too.. and (before Sara and I took his class) – he was all business.  I’ll never forget my first day in that class – I didn’t know anyone, but quickly became friends with a girl named Sara.  Her boyfriend was in the ROTC, his name was Brian, she was crazy about him – they were high school sweethearts .. homecoming was that weekend too .. was I going? What was I going to wear? Did I have a plan for my hair? As we discussed these important details .. while “planking” for what seemed like the entire class .. a friendship soon formed, and by the following week, we were all giggles over story-telling about our lives in between “crunches”.  Mr. Red-Headed Marine  noticed us and our conversations .. making eye contact with us, he smiled and said, “Girls, this is not social time, do I need to separate the two of you?” We both smiled, shaking our heads.. changing our tone of voice down to a whisper.  But, during our next class – we had moved on from floor exercises to a series of lunge exercises, my favorite – “The Charlies Angel” Style Lunge! As we lunged back and in straight lines across the gym – Mr. Marine couldn’t help but notice my cute tennis shoes.. “Hey, those are Puma’s .. where did you get those?” Feeling quite proud of myself, looking down at my grey mesh pumas with pink stripes, I tell him, “My Aunt Dina got me these at Nordi’s, they were on sale!”  Sara and I follow suit in our “Charlies Angel” lunges and continued in our conversation about the highs & lows of last weekends homecoming, in which he decided to listen in on, and many more conversations aft that… Mr. Marines, now known as Mr. Chatty Pants, almost always wanted to be in on our gossip sessions – I think he actually enjoyed these chats… and us for that matter! By the end of that class, I realized not only how much I enjoyed this fitness class, but also how much I loved the social aspect of it, meeting new people and making friends.  Sara and I are still friends (9 years later) – I was there to hear all about her wedding proposal, her first and second pregnancy, all of her moves, her adventures.. and I have this fitness class to thank for our friendship!

The Pink & Grey Pumas.. Yes I still have them!

The Pink & Grey Pumas.. Yes I still have them!

I tie most of my memories to experiences I’ve shared with others – friends, family, my husband.  When I think about some of my fondest memories – they’ve taken place over a fun run, a workout with a friend, a tennis lesson with my cousin, a walk around the nature trail or Green Lake, a 30 minute treadmill session .. a 5k run with my friend Anita .. I’ll never forget that year we religiously jogged together, because she was determined to beat Nate at this 5K run around the CWU Campus.  He had literally just finished an entire medium sized Dominos pizza just before the race, and he still beat the socks off of her, in which, I think she is still bitter over.  But, I remember jogging at night with her, jogging in the wind and the rain, jogging all around Ellensburg .. I remember those evenings I couldn’t sleep, because I was worried about an exam, a problem at home that I had no control over, a fight between me & Nate .. but in the end, after that 30 minute run, I always felt better… the circumstances were still the same, nothing had been solved, but my mind always felt clear, and breathing in that fresh / sometimes cold crisp air, it seemed to always take away all of my worries and all of my stress.  When I think about that term “Runners High” – It truly is a high, because for that moment – there is NOTHING to bring you down, and for that moment ALL is right in your world.  I’m glad that I was open that day – to try again – to go to the gym with Nate… to try out a fitness class, to push myself when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.  It has shaped my life and continues to push me – to become a better, healthier, more fit individual.  And hey, anyone who knows me – knows it’s also an excuse to go shopping .. there’s always a good reason for another pair of Pumas!

By Heather Decker

We always have fun!

We always have fun!

 

Insincerity at its finest

“Weekly Writing Challenge: Mail It In” – DPchallenge
Use a subject from your inbox to write a story. It can be a line from a ridiculous Groupon offer that prompts your tale, or a sincere message from a blog follower. Use whichever email subject that strikes your family as a writing prompt and go from there.

My afternoon started out just as it did any other day of the week. the digital clock on the corner of my monitor turned from 11:59AM to 12:00PM, feeling a grumble in my stomach, that was my que to take a break and eat lunch. Lunch time is often the hour I use to catch up on emails and Facebook messages.. status updates.. posts, etc. I often look forward to this hour as I’m able to reconnect with friends whom I’ve kept in touch with my entire life. As I opened my Hotmail account, I noticed an email in my inbox from donotreply, subject heading stated: Subject: [ It’s A Charmed Life… ] Please moderate: “Ignorance Living In A Glass House“. Without hesitation, I opened the email and read a response (that caught me off guard) from my half-brother Patrick, someone who has not spoken to me in over three years, but to my dismay, is apparently following my blog. We all have our own reasons for starting a blog. Mine was simple, I wanted the chance to write about my life through poetry, short stories, and basically challenge my own mind with different writing styles. I love to write and seeing how I minored in creative writing, it was important to me to continue in writing, continue in my creativity.

I’ve read those irrational comments on Facebook .. left by friends.. and relatives .. posted with intent to hurt someone else. I’ve witnessed an entire breakup – posted for all to see. I’ve never been on the receiving end, until now. As I read his response, I could feel my heart beating faster, I considered not even reading it and deleting it out of my inbox. The “Delete Button”, an advantage to an electronic email versus a real written letter you receive in your mailbox at home.. just one click of the right button, and it’s gone. Or, even having such conversations in person, which requires you to walk away.. while still listening to them yell and scream at you. However, there is a disadvantage to emails such as this one .. if you are reading it while you’re at work, on your lunch break, you still have to maintain a professional demeanor, all the while, thinking about what someone has said to you.. and half of your day still remains.

patrick sanford commented on Ignorance Living In A Glass House

“Say what you want about all of us. We disowned you because youre a selfish, fake, crumby excuse of a sister and honestly i probably speak for the other siblings when I say i really couldn’t care less if you lived or died. We have made our mistakes like everyone else. We have an amazing nephew because of certain “mistakes” and I’m happily married to a very beautiful extremely sweet and smart woman who is a true sister to robbie, christian, and jill. Also i have a very good job making a salary that I’m confident is greater than you and your husband combined. But I’m a “screwup” apparently because I have made mistakes through life. You’re far from perfect so you really don’t have any room to say a single thing about any of us. I think its best that you just stop wasting your breath on here with all of these worthless blogs and just live your own life. If you are trying to get attention consider this you being noticed for being a complete and total bitch. I’m sorry that you feel the need to constantly fill your days time with writing things about people who have forgot about you years ago. It’s sad really. Well, I better sign off for now. You’re probably pretty pissed and flustered right now and most likely want to write me back but let me give you some advice. Don’t. I won’t even waste a second of my valuable time to read a single thing from you. Oh and don’t bad mouth my mom anymore. She’s an amazing mother and I would literally die for her without thinking twice. Take care heather and I really do hope you can just live your life and move on. Maybe have some kids of your own one day and actually serve a purpose in life. Oh and don’t worry about my sister. She has become the most amazing girl and is doing perfectly fine and actually is beginning to live out her dreams. Trust me when i tell you that she doesn’t even think about you or know who you really are. Anyway enjoy your life.
Patrick.”

Approve Trash | Mark as Spam

I would love to say that most people (in person) would have more of a filter when it comes to communication and would not say such insincere words. But I do believe that if he were to see me in person, he would say the same things, without any hesitation, without any remorse, he would say these things to me. Our family has a history of attacking each other with words, and I plan on breaking that cycle. Words hurt, and I would like to think that my response would be the same in person just as it would be in an email. It is interesting to me, after re-reading this email, what non verbal communication says about someone. The quoted statement above indicates to me that my brother is insecure in his own life, and that is why he felt the need to point out to me of his salary, his happiness, and his relationships with my siblings. In the heat of the moment, there was so much I wanted to say, but I thought about what I would say if he was to say these things to my face, instead of over something as impersonal as an email.

That day, as I re-read his email, staring at each word, each word that was filled with hate, I’m pretty sure I went through all seven stages of grief:
Shock and Denial:Even after he continued in lashing out at my husband and personally attacking me, I still hoped and prayed that this relationship could be mended how else could I have been a better sister to him..
Pain & Guilt: When our mother was not playing us against each other, I was the best sister I could be. Had he forgotten about all those times my mom and his dad yelled and screamed at each other.. to the point of bringing him to tears, and I was the one there to console him?
Anger: I’m not much of an angry person, but it did and still does anger me that a mother would cause such division amongst her own children.. and take pride in it all at the same time.
Depression: I was depressed when I realized how much less complicated and chaotic my life is without people (my mother) who cause chaos and drama for themselves and others on a daily basis.
The Upward Turn: My realization that I have friends and relatives in my life who want to be in it and are optimistic individuals, always lifting me up..these are the people I need in my life.
Reconstruction and Working Through: This loss helped me focus on myself and become more independent, living my own life and making my own decisions..finishing college, getting married, having a career in which I love and I’m good at!
Acceptance and Hope: This is a “work in progress” for me, but from the time I’ve been cut off from my mother and siblings, I’ve realized that you can’t control others, you can only control your own actions and how you react to situations. I do wish circumstances could be different, but I’ve accepted it, and I am moving forward.

That being said, I looked at his response once more and wrote my own response:

Submitted on 2012/08/14 at 8:02 PM | In reply to patrick sanford.

“Wow. You definitely are your mother’s son and that is all I have to say about that.. you both have a “way” with words – and you both have hurt each other with your words (I know that for a fact). But, I am glad you are happy with your life and I’m also glad you are happily married – I would never wish anything less for you Patrick – the “favorite” child. I do live my own life, and part of it is writing.. and say what you will – people DO read what I write. I’m not trying to get attention – I’m writing because (while in college) I realized that writing is one of my talents that I enjoy. I’m sorry I was not a better sister to you and I’m sorry you feel the way you do. I am sorry that you feel the need to speak of a salary that you believe is far greater than mine or Nate’s combined. We are happy with the salaries we make and living quite nicely and happily (on our own without the help of anyone else) – regardless of salary – we are happy and that is all that matters to us. Anyone with any kind of class already knows how unclassy it is to bring up salary anyway. I never said I was perfect, nor did I call you a screw up – I just wondered why Mom held me and Jill to higher expectations.. and she did… I was scared to death of the consequences if I did something against her wishes. I’m not pissed or flustered – and.. since nobody reads my blog (according to you) I have nothing to be upset about, right? I’m sorry you view this as bad mouthing – sometimes the truth hurts. We all have a past, and I have the right (like anyone else) to write about my life – which includes my past.. and the people in it. If you knew anything about me – you would know I’m serving a purpose – but YOU haven’t actually spoken to me since the day you decided to join the military… another argument I got caught in the middle of .. defending YOUR MOM because she was so upset with your decision(s). I’m not surprised that Jill has become an amazing girl – I hope she continues down that path as I’m sure she probably will, and I won’t ever believe a word you say about what she thinks of me .. that game has been “played” before. Don’t worry – I’m enjoying my life completely.. it has been SOOOO nice to have a drama-free life for the last 3 years, so really – thank you!!!!! All the best to you & your lovely wife! -Heather
PS – to anyone who may read this .. this would be a post from my (half) brother Patrick.”

As I contemplated his response and my own response, wondering if this was something I really wanted to post for all the public to view.. I decided that his words can’t hurt me, and quite honestly, it is just a true reflection of who he is and how I decided to react to his response. Since this experience, I’ve made a deal with myself, if I do receive any emails in my inbox from wordpress, I’ll wait until I get home, because like I said earlier, sometimes checking your email can act as a disadvantage, depending on your surroundings and the content of that email.