Thursday, March 24, 2016

BHAG Update : Letting Go of a Goal, Self-Worth, and Redefining

Planning. Goal setting. Taking action.  Pushing boundaries.  This is what I do, pretty much all day every day.  This drive is in my DNA.  Back in late October I wrote a post declaring my Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  I wanted to compete in a 12 hour trail race in June, and I wanted to put in a performance that would put me in the top 5 women in the history of that specific race.  I was committed, passionate, declared my intention, and moved forward exactly according to plan.

Phase 1 was literally flawless – I got to the point of 20 milers feeling very comfortable, no muscle strains, no burn out, no tightness, just fluid movement that was highly enjoyable.  Phase two of training started on a good note with added speed work and continued strength building in the 20+ mile range.   Things were great…. Until they weren’t.   A cold turned into a lung infection, which turned into 9 days in a row of fevers, and ended in walking pneumonia. 

At this point, I’m down three and a half weeks from training, and am restricted for at least another 2.  That’s almost 6 consecutive weeks taken out of the meatiest part of my training plan.  My intention was to be a contender for the top spot in my race.  Looking at my current situation, and my other running goals later in the year, I have made the wise choice.  To pull out of the 12 hour event. 

It literally didn’t even occur to me until yesterday afternoon that this may happen.  My blind faith and trust in my body and training kept me unwavering mentally, until I saw my lung x-rays.  Apparently lung infections aren’t something to be fucked with, and strong willed me can’t even force it to clear up any faster.  Seemingly, I do in fact have limitations. 

The 45 minutes following this realization weren’t pretty.  I was thinking things like ‘Now what?  Who am I if I’m not thriving inside the structure of a training plan?  How do I define myself now?  Am I now considered ‘basic’?  Will my crew be disappointed?  I invested months into this already – how do I let that go?  Who the hell am I if I’m not striving for running greatness and making it look fun?’ 

I’m glad I gave myself a window of time to brood, be pissed off, and ask the deep dark questions of myself that most people don’t say in the light of day.  I realized how closely I tied my identity and self-worth to my running.  I realized how much I like to be in the role of running super achiever. 

Why run Ragnar with 12 people when you can do it with....3?
The danger is that running is something that can be taken away in an instant – because of a health issue, injury, accident – anything.  Running isn’t who I am, it’s just one of the things I do.  One of the many things.  I couldn’t see that clearly when I was reacting to the hard decision I made, I just knew I was intensely disappointed.  I felt like I had just broken up with someone I still really liked.
After having a night to sleep on it, and waking up with a clear head, I’m at peace with my decision.  I know it’s the best thing big picture.  I may not be able to run 20 milers right now, but here’s what I CAN do.  Run every other day, work on strength training and flexibility.  I can focus on my next goal, which is helping pace a friend at the Western States 100 June 24th and 25th.  I can study the course, encourage my friend in his training, and allow myself the rest I need to be 100% again.

And most importantly, I can work on identifying myself as more than just a runner.   Identify and honor those things that truly define me. Not get caught up associating my self-worth with the activities I participate in.  The miles I run don’t make me a good person, they don’t change the world, they don’t make a person feel loved, and they’re not my last thought at night when I think about what really went right that day. 

Thanks dear friends for all the kind words I’ve received – you all clearly know how important my running and training is to me.  And thanks to this adversity I am reminded that though I love to run, I’m not just a runner.  I’m a dreamer. A lover. A giver. A creative. An athlete. A thinker. A leader.  And a student.    


Friday, December 18, 2015

5 Months Later: 3 Ways Italy Changed Me For The Better

Just 5 months ago I arrived back in the United States from a solo trip to Italy that involved mastering a tiny Fiat 500, navigating countless situations without knowing the language, deciphering the train ticketing process, using their tolls on the autoestrada, ….. You get the idea.  Everything is new when you’re in a foreign country, and there were a handful of moments where I would stop and wonder how that trip would impact me down the road. 

My darling little Fiat 500
It took some work to figure these out!

In the midst of constantly new situations there’s a certain level of stress, but it was always offset by the beauty and curiosity of the culture and the landscape. 


Now that it has been a few months since that epic adventure I feel like I have some degree of clarity on the impact it had. 

1 – Handling emotions.  Italians are the kings of expressing how they feel – they use big gestures, talk loudly, maybe even slap someone! Now I’m not saying I go around slapping people, but seeing how Italians in general would allow themselves to react, communicate their feelings (whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, or whatever else) and then move on with things was striking. It is soooooo American (and definitely Hulick American) to bottle things up.  Stuff it down, let it fester, try and ignore it, and when you least expect it, the cork blows off and look out – we lose our minds over something as inconsequential as traffic, someone writing a check in an express lane, or a person standing still on the escalator.     

Now this is a very different way of handling myself than I’ve traditionally done, but I’ve made a conscious effort to remind myself that actually feeling things and expressing myself real-time is an option.  And you know what?  When I do it, I feel better WAY more quickly.  And another bonus of that style…. Is that people see you as more human.  Imagine that! 

2 – Taking your damn time.  My first glimpse of slow moving, relaxed work styles was on a trip to Jamaica quite a few years ago.  I remember standing with my mouth gaping open as I looked at the ticketing counter in the Montego Bay airport.  There was a long line of people in front of me, and the employees standing behind the desk strolled and chit chatted with each other like they were the only ones there.  I thought my head would explode!

Now I knew Italians were slow movers – I had listened to Rick Steves’ words of advice to relax, take your time walking around, and blend in with the locals.  I was ready to pretend I was a slow walker. 

It didn’t take long to get the hang of slowing down and really looking around – every place I went to was ripe with beauty!  To stroll, look at how the sunlight hit the church steeples, take note of the seaplanes on Lake Como, and smile at a little girl eating gelato while getting it all over her flowered dress – it was easy.  After all, I was on vacation, AND I was in debatably one of the most beautiful countries in the world! 

Outside of driving, I was always moving in a lower gear on this trip. (Tearing around the curves in the Dolomites was way too fun to pass up!)  And what I found was that it allowed for my mind to move slower, and I was able to be much more present and interactive with everything around me.  At home that’s much harder to do, but reminding myself to slow down, not fill every moment of my calendar, and even allow for a slower run once in a while has proven to be really soothing for me. 

3 – Lesson #3 to me has been the most significant thing I learned.  Italians are wired completely differently than your average American in terms of acquiring things / improving things / upgrading things.  You often see people who live in the same tiny home that their grandparents were born in – they don’t have spacious living quarters, and a lot of times they don’t even have a yard.  They probably have a doorway that they keep swept and maybe even have a little religious shrine with candles and some statues, but that’s it.  The stones around the door may be crumbling away, the shudders on the windows (that don’t have any screens) have been there longer than anyone can remember, and every single car has dents in it. 

Typical shrine you see all over in Italy

Seeing these people be so happy with the small space they had, and the few items they owned made me take a hard look at where my money goes - what I buy and for what reason, and what my most expensive bills are.  Every month I take more strides to be more aware of where I’m spending and have cancelled my cable, started more intentional budgeting of my non-bills money, and am even debating downgrading my car when my lease is up next November. I mean, I love the Benz, but wouldn’t I be just as happy driving a mid-range sedan to and from work?   In all honesty, probably. 
Typical residential alley in Chioggia
This one makes it easier to see how close
people's homes are to each other.  Nesso, Italy.
It seems to be a very American habit to keep buying things, upgrading your car/house/boat/motorcycle/wardrobe, and I really question why that matters.  You can’t take any of that with you when you go, and one of my favorite things I’ve heard recently is you don’t ever see a hearse with a roofrack.  So true.  Egyptians tried to take their prized possessions with them, and eventually people dug it up and stole it anyway.

So now as I look back, I can see that this trip has caused me to shift some of my values.  I place much higher value on my relationships than I do with being ‘busy’ or getting new things.  I recognize that letting myself express an emotion right away and then moving past it serves me way better than brooding or trying to ignore it.  And slowing down doesn’t mean you look like a person that doesn’t have purpose.  You are simply a person enjoying your experience.  And it’s okay.  (I never thought I’d ever say that.)

Thank you Italy for the things I learned, and thank you Hayley Acosta for convincing me to come, and taking me in for the first few nights. 

Next European adventure:  Athens, Greece and Istanbul, Turkey in November 2016.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Breaking The Cycle

When I accepted the job offer to start coaching high school cross country 8 years ago, I took that role very seriously.  I didn’t just want to be a good role model in terms of my running and my health, but I wanted to be a role model of what it looks like to be a good person, to make good choices, and to show them that it is always okay to speak up when something doesn’t sit right with you. 

Today I weighed heavily on how to deal with something that hasn’t been sitting right with me recently. Something that has weaved in and out of my life for the last 4 years.  And today I finally decided that instead of shrinking with fear about something, I would do the opposite.  I would do what I hope any athlete I have ever worked with would choose to do.  And that is to give voice to what makes you the most uncomfortable.  After all, I think that those things that weigh the most heavily on you, are the things that most need to be talked about. 

A few years ago I came face to face with a very volatile situation with someone I once considered a friend, a person that I thought was a good human being.  Over the course of a few months he quickly showed me otherwise.  I made quick and drastic life choices to cut this person out of my life and to move in the very opposite direction.  What I didn’t see coming was years of him harassing me.  I was followed, he would send things to my work and to the high school I coach at, he would leave very cryptic voicemails, texts and emails.  My skin would crawl and I’d be racked with fear every time he would surface.  One instance of him following me from work had me looking in my rear view mirror more often that I care to admit.  I even went to the extent of having broken glass outside my first floor bedroom window.  That way if someone were to be milling around outside I’d hear the glass crunching before they tried to enter. 

With this person, a few months of silence are always followed by an incredibly odd gesture by him.  I ran into him at a coffee shop in February of this year, and on May 29th I received a letter from him 
that contained these excerpts:



Is the hair on the back of your neck standing up?  I know mine was, and is whenever I think about that letter.

Fast forward to this past July. I was in Italy having the adventure of a lifetime.  On my first night staying in Salo at a very upscale hotel on Lake Garda, a man sitting alone at the table next to me asked if I wanted to join him for some company. I was almost done with my limoncello and figured it would be nice to talk with an English speaker.  General conversation about travel, work, and music, led to an hour later when he asked me if I wanted another glass of wine.  I said no thank you.  He strongly said ‘you really should have another.’  My internal radar went off to tell me that he had high whack-a-doodle potential, so I called it a night. 

The next morning after my workout I ran into him in the breakfast area. I said hello since he clearly saw me.  Then he said ‘I’m so glad I ran into you! I wanted to send you a message, but now that I see you in person I don’t have to!  I found your Facebook profile last night, it’s surprising how easy it is to find Tracey in Madison, Wisconsin.  I’m not a stalker or anything.’  I was instantly creeped out and turned incredibly cold. My afternoon at the hotel pool was unfortunately spent ignoring him as he tried to make small talk.  Eventually he left because he had to catch a flight back to Switzerland. 

End of story, right?  Wrong.  A few days later I had a Facebook friend request from him, along with a message about how John Legend was playing in Switzerland that night. (I had mentioned pre-creep factor that I really liked John Legend).  I didn’t reply, and shortly thereafter blocked him.  Then he pops up requesting to follow me on Instagram – the photos of his that I can see are things that pertained to us meeting. The hotel, the pool there, and even a screenshot of a John Legend song I said I liked playing on his phone.  BLOCK.  Then he builds another Facebook profile with the hotel pool as the cover photo.  BLOCK.  Another Instagram account from him asking to follow me.  BLOCK.  Get the picture? 
Then Friday he builds another profile, sends another message about how lovely it was meeting me, blah blah blah.  Then sends three pictures that shows he’s traveling – one photo was of a plane engine above the clouds.  CREEPY.  I sent a message stating exactly this: ‘I do not wish to correspond with you.  Please cease all attempts to contact me.’ BLOCK. 

Maybe this person is just socially inept, has no emotional intelligence, and is very lonely (despite the fact that he’s married with two kids).  I don’t know what his defect is that he tirelessly tries to get in contact with someone he talked with about general topics with for a single hour, more than 4 months ago.   But what I do know is this – it’s creepy, it’s unnecessary, and I did nothing to provoke him, OR the other man I referenced. 

That was something I needed to remind myself of.  Over the years I had been pretty quiet about what that first man was doing, and what kinds of oddball things he was writing (he at one point sent me a letter to work, telling me he psychically connected to my dog, and that he was sick. .. umm… nope.).  I felt ashamed to bring it up to anyone. I figured that if I brought up this crazy acting person and what he was doing, it would reflect poorly on me.  Maybe people would think I provoked it. Or asked for it.  Or it was payback for not realizing sooner that he was unstable. 

But today, as I thought about the man I met in Italy whose new favorite hobby seems to be creating new social media profiles to try and contact me, and this previous person who I lost countless hours of sleep over, I thought of my athletes.  If one of my athletes were to be in the same situation, how would I hope she would respond? I sure as hell wouldn’t urge her to suffer in silence. 

Shame and fear, when kept in the dark, breed more of the same. 

I think of these two men, and though I choose not to name them, they don’t deserve my ‘protection’, or my silence.  Fuck that.  Fuck staying quiet and shrinking into the shadows.  Fuck allowing someone else to make me feel like I’m not safe in my evening commute, or when out running a few miles in the dark.  Fuck any person that has caused another person to live in fear, for whatever reason. 

This is my first (big) step to ending that previous cycle of staying quiet and assuming that the harassing person will just disappear.  Statistically, I am sure that some of my readers have experienced similar things.  How you choose to respond is up to you.  As for me, I’m ready to start a new cycle.  One in which my athletes can see a role model of a person who will stand up for herself, be courageous, and not take blame for something that isn’t their fault.  Someone who is willing to speak up and give voice to something that is really uncomfortable to talk about.  And I hope it gives them license to do the same. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

When The Wheels Fall Off

In my most recent post I announced my big goal of attempting to land myself in the top 10 women finishers ever in the FANS 12 Hour Ultra Race.  I have a very elaborate training plan.  I have taken my nutrition, strength, flexibility, balance, sleep, and even natural energy patterns into consideration.  And you know what?  Even with all that planning, shit happens.  You can’t control everything, and to be completely honest, there’s very little you control at all. 
Tuesday night I ran with my usual group of awesome runner friends on a route that should have been a breeze.  It was a 6+ mile route around places I was familiar, with familiar faces, and is something I had done countless times before.  Slam dunk, right?  Wrong.  WAY wrong.  The entire run felt like I was going uphill, through quicksand with twin toddlers pulling at my legs.  I was flat out miserable.  Lungs burning. Hands freezing.  Feet barely getting off the ground.  I was thankful that I had a great guy running with me that helped me stay focused, and even remind me that it was great practice for having to run uncomfortable during next year’s 12 hour event.  It was my most difficult run in years. 

I also currently have a few people in my life that I care very much about that are struggling with their own sets of challenges.  Addictions, relationship troubles, you name it.  Things are heavy in my circle right now.  And they are challenges that I can’t do anything about.  As much as I like to swoop in and make person’s day, fix a problem, and come to the rescue, there was nothing I could do for any of them. 

As I proceeded to stew about my horrible run, and these sweet people that are struggling, it wasn’t until I took a step back, caught up on some sleep, and did some good self-care, that it hit me.   I was focused on what I don’t want.  I was thinking about how badly I didn’t want another horrible run like that, about how I didn’t want these people to feel alone or helpless.  I felt frozen in that line of thinking.  Until this morning. 

I woke up with resolve to attack my day and get my head on straight.  I wanted to focus on what I could control - my actions and my intentions. Time to think about what I DO want.  I want to have solid workouts, so I need to stick to proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep.  I want the people I’m concerned about to know that I care, that I’m in their corner, and that I will continue to be there.  THAT I can control, because that’s on me.  Those are things I can have influence over.  It feels so much better to DO something than be frozen in what you’re afraid of, or what you desperately don’t want to happen. 

Tonight I get back up on the running ‘horse’ so to speak, and know that I’ve taken better care of myself to increase my likelihood of a better run.  And if for some reason it’s a struggle again, I will rely on the wonderful people around me to help me get through it, and I’ll focus on what I can do to make the next one better. 

I will also reach out to those people that have been on my mind, and remind them that I’m thinking of them.  It doesn’t solve the problem, but it is something I can do and feel good about.  And that is a step in a much more powerful direction.

If this resonates with you and you could use a mental boost to switch you own gears, give this a listen.  Peter Sage is awesome. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

                With the drop of temperatures, falling of the leaves, and ending of yet another season of coaching cross country, I annually find myself thinking about my next ‘season’.  Our lives are made up of seasons. For me, after a season of devoting a significant amount of time to my athletes, I enter into a season that is self-serving.  I choose to spend time focusing on my own health and fitness, or on other areas I want to pay attention to, like relationships, or learning a new skill.  This investment in myself for the span of a few months allows me to give so much of myself in other parts of the year.

                Over the last few weeks I’ve spent time mulling over what I will work towards in this season.  I knew I wanted to set a running goal for myself that I hadn’t ever considered.  Something that will push me out of my comfort zone.  Something that I previously thought I couldn’t do. Something that would require a different kind of training and approach than I’ve used in the past.  After running some marathons, a couple trail 50k’s, and a 3 person Ragnar Relay, I have set my sights on something bigger.  Something…. Audacious. 

                I am signing up to run a 12 hour trail race in June of 2016.  Now that in itself is a challenge, but I wanted to up the ante even more.  Not just set a big goal, but set a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  I want to clear 100k on race day.  But as my BHAG, I want to land in the top ten women finishers in the history of the race. (Holy shit, yep. I just declared that publicly.)  As of right now the woman in 10th place ran 66.24 miles. 

                I’m sure quite a few of my readers think this is crazy.  And you know what?  It is.  And that’s what I love about it. 

What’s the fun in setting a goal you know you can accomplish?  

That’s why I’m thinking big here.  Really big.  Audaciously big. 

                Over the upcoming months I’ll be sharing information about my training, how things are going, the victories along the way, and the inevitable blunders.  The training plan I have designed to give me the best possible shot at achieving this goal is a two phase plan.  Phase one is focused primarily on strength, flexibility, and base miles.  Phase two has enough strength workouts to maintain the progress I’ve made, and increasing mileage. After each completed month I'll publish my training calendar so you can use it, modify it, whatever you like. 

                I invite you to follow along, take a peek into the mind and lifestyle of an endurance runner, and be a part of the pursuit of my biggest goal yet.  Laugh at my quirks, learn from my mistakes, question my sanity, and maybe even be inspired to set a BHAG of your own.  After all, fortune favors the audacious.  

"The most fearless hearts, the audacious dreamers, have always maintained a sense of optimism that often flies in the face of the available evidence."
Martin O'Malley

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Starting My Career

Three years ago I took a leap of faith and left a company I had been with for 9 years, to go to a competitor, and work in management for the first time. As much technical knowledge and experience as I had, I was definitely nervous about what was in store. 

Now I am celebrating my three year anniversary at First Business Bank, and almost twelve years in banking.   (Did I really just say 12 years???)  I will never claim to have things all figured out, but I have learned a lot of lessons along the way.

Here is my list of the 7 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Staring My Career:

1 – ASK.  Ask questions, ask people for their opinions, if you’re not sure why something is done a certain way, ASK.  Asking questions is important, and asking powerful questions is even better.  It can be easy to only ask questions when it’s absolutely necessary.  You likely want to fly under the radar when you’re starting out and just learn to do things the way they’ve always been done.  Asking questions shows that you are thinking and that you care.  If you ask bigger picture questions, it shows you will go above and beyond in your thinking, and your work. 

2 - Eat lunch and attend happy hours with people outside of your department.  Building connections with people in your company that are in other areas will pay dividends.  You will have more allies at work, and when you are tasked with something that involves these other departments, you’ll have a smoother go of it if you’re already familiar with someone involved. 

3 – Remember people’s names and use them.  I have always struggled with remembering names, and last year I made a conscious effort to use people’s names when I greet them.  It was amazing how people’s responses to me changed! People are always at least moderately friendly, but when you use their name it becomes a much stronger link between the two of you.  Even Dale Carnegie knew this when he wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People back in the 1930’s.  He said that hearing your own name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  He’s right.

4 – Become the expert in areas people shy away from.  You will learn quickly in a new job that there are tasks people willingly take on, and then there other things people will groan about and try to avoid.  In my first bank job people dodged participation loans, SBA loans, report writing, and New Market Tax Credit loans.  So what did I work hard at specializing in?  Participation loans, SBA loans, report writing, and New Market Tax Credit loans.  This will quickly set you apart as someone who doesn’t back away from challenge, which is invaluable when you’re trying to stand out in a positive way.

5 – Dress for the job you want, not just the job you have.  Starting out I could barely afford groceries, let alone a wardrobe of dress clothes.  I would buy things cheap, and wear them till they wore out.  Over time I learned through observation that there was a difference in perception of people who barely met the dress code, and those that put themselves together well daily.  Now before I go much further, I don’t think you should be judged by your looks and clothes.  We’re all glorious people full of potential no matter what we wear.  BUT, most of the information someone gets from meeting you once is from your appearance.  You have a choice to use that to your advantage or not.
6 – Respect those who aren’t present.  a.k.a.  Don’t trash talk co-workers.  When starting a new job it is very easy to cling to the first group of people that accept you.  If you quickly find they are a group that will gossip and talk badly about other employees whenever they have a chance, graciously distance yourself from them.  They’re the toxic ones everyone knows about, and you don’t want to be in that category.   People watch new employees closely, so this is a great chance to show your integrity and gain trust.  If you rise above the shit talking and instead spin conversations in a constructive way, people will respect you, and will know you won’t trash them as soon as they leave the room.
7 – Relationships are JUST as important as tasks. This threads through everything I’ve written about in this post.  It is really important to be knowledgeable and great at the work you are required to do, but the other side of the equation is the people.  You will never know which co-worker will eventually be your boss, or be close to someone in HR at a competitor.  The absolute best thing you can do is make it a point to get to know people, be sincere, take the high road, and manage yourself with integrity.  There’s no telling how one bad relationship could ruin your chances at your dream job, or one good relationship could open the door to a golden opportunity.
There's no shortage of fun relationships to build at First Business!



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Gift of Measuring Back

Today I had a moment where I was home for lunch walking my dog and I was ELATED.   I was basking in the beautiful day, walking in my neighborhood that is gorgeous, feeling excited about a great meeting I just had at work that is an amazing opportunity for my writing, enjoying my lack of financial stress, and reveling in the happiness that I felt independent of outside circumstances. 

I mean, I felt so happy inside and out – I think of that scene from Singin’ in the Rain! Now I wasn’t dancing, but I was so full of appreciation for where my life is at and all the things that are going my way! 

Then of course that little voice pops up in the back of my head – ‘how is all this good stuff happening for you right now?  You don’t want to celebrate too much because people will potentially be jealous or think it was all luck and not your hard work that got you here.’ 

Thankfully those little voices are easier for me to keep at bay than they used to be.  All I had to do was ‘measure back’.  I often think back to where I was at 6 months ago, 1 year ago, 5 years ago – and take an inventory of where I was then compared to where I’m at now. 

So let’s take that trip back in time.  (Be forewarned, it’s not pretty.)  6 months ago it was December 9th. 

I was 4 days into getting to know my new dog.   

I was 22 days into grieving the loss of my beloved dog Dresden, who had a horrible death due to an aggressive tumor.
Gut wrenching.

And I was less than two months into grieving the loss of a relationship that I fully felt was ‘the one’.

It wasn’t good.  At all.

I recently came across a journal entry from mid-January where I was celebrating having my first day without crying in a few months, so I know on December 9th I was in the thick of all that. 

Now, this topic isn’t glamorous.  This isn’t the kind of throwback that we typically share on Facebook on Thursdays.  We’re much more apt to highlight the good times, and our own personal highlight reel.  Fuck the highlight reel.  It may be more socially acceptable, but this is the stuff that GROWTH is made of.  The nasty, gritty, knock you on your ass stuff. 

People often keep these times quiet and only share with a few close friends, but it’s important for me to acknowledge that awful time, while celebrating the current. 

I know I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for the dark end of 2014.  It made me set goals, albeit small ones.  Those goals started out as ‘keep yourself together at work today’, or ‘send a nice card to someone who doesn’t expect it’.  They slowly grew as I grew.

Measuring back allows you to see how you've grown, what choices you made then that put you where you are now.  Measuring back to a time where I was so low that it felt like a survival skill to set small goals for each day, allows for me to really appreciate every facet of my world right now.  The people in it, the things on my calendar, my health, my everything.