How to stay successful as a runner.

joanna maggie whitley

I’m noticing a trend as to why I’ve been so successful with running. You may remember I was not a runner prior to February this year. I was friends with walking, but running? I hardly spoke the word. So as the months pass and my success continues on, there is a very specific re-occurring trend which has encouraged me to keep at it:

Never stop trying new things.

In February, March & April I worked on my pace and pushed myself to run longer durations. Not at a faster speed, but simply run for 10, 20, 30 additional seconds. I also had to push through the pains of becoming a runner, which took time. This was a huge accomplishment and helped me to make it to May.

In May & June I wanted to run more miles during each workout, pushing myself to an average of five miles per run. This usually took me an hour, which was exactly the duration of time I was hoping for.

In July I aimed to run more often each week. The longer I ran in distance and duration the more tired my body felt. I paired running 4 days/week with walking 2-3 days/week. Even if my muscles felt sore, I ran. Even when I felt like we had other things we should or could be doing, I made time to run. The mornings give me my best workouts, so I kept that a priority and saved the afternoons for errands or taking the kids to the park.

los angeles beach maggie whitley

That brings me to August. So far this month I’ve been running in the early morning (think 7am), and the kids have been staying at home — which really is a gift for all of us :) During the week I normally take Bauer, but on the weekends I run by myself.

This past Saturday I did something totally different once again as I wanted to find a new location. I set my alarm, picked up my friend Joanna, and together we ran alongside the Pacific for an hour. Normally I run through a business district or neighborhood, so the beach was a real treat.

We walked for a few minutes and prepared our muscles to be bossed around. Our pace increased and soon we were running alongside other runners and cyclists. That’s probably the best part of running for me, joining my community in a workout that’s truly unique to each of us.

No doubt, when you have a running buddy it’s easier to push each other to keep going.

How long do you want to run?

We’re at 2.12 miles right now, maybe a little over 4 total? Let’s run down to that rest stop and then turn around.

Sounds good.

flowers maggie whitley

So that was my Saturday, and it was great. Trying new things is definitely working well for me.

PS. Many have asked what I listen to while I run. I keep one earbud in and switch between listening to music (Pandora: various stations depending on my mood), audio books (OverDrive is an iPhone app that links to your library account so you can listen with your phone), and podcasts.

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Why your girlfriends are so important.

girlfriends maggie whitley

Three years ago, shortly after we moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, I found myself meeting up with Joanna. We hadn’t yet met, so you could say it was an “internet friend blind date”. (We had a mutual friend in Minneapolis that insisted we connect.)

One morning, while I was about 6 months pregnant with Maxwell, we met for coffee. And traditional to going on a blind date, I knew nothing about her, however per her confession (years later!) she had thoroughly read my blog beforehand ;) and knew everything about me!!!

Joanna and I met at a local cafe and settled in on their patio, which had many outdoor heaters. Many. (Extra emphasis on the many, because you know, southern California is cold in October.) With hot drinks in hand, we began chatting, and then said aloud to each other — at nearly the same time, Are you hot, because I am sweating!

And then we burst out laughing, knowing (I’m sure of it) that we were going to be the best of friends. #Midwestgirlsatheart

Not too much time later we both had a friend that “you just have to meet,” and suddenly we were a group of four. As someone who thrives on being in community, these women, Joanna, Rhiannon & Cristina, have become a lifeline to me in Los Angeles.

We talk about “all the topics” when we’re together, from pregnancy (and all it’s struggles), marriage, beauty, writing, travel, creativity, books, and finances. In fact, I’m sure people sometimes wish they didn’t overhear our conversations ;)

I’ve always trusted God to provide me with the right kind of community, exactly where we live, but to have it so continually — through all the highs & lows of life and parenthood and womanhood, has made me feel so cared for.

A time when I’ve felt the most-grateful to have this group of girlfriends? The first few months as I transitioned into my role as a mama of two babes. Those were hard months. I still remember. Obviously, because I hadn’t ever done that before, but also because there were so many hearts to be caring for, all at the same time — my heart included. Many times I fell back on this realization: the best way to get through “it” was to try and try again, but it’s so refreshing to have my girlfriends walk alongside me while I try. (Some things just need to be experienced, right? But that doesn’t mean we have to experience them alone.)

park maggie whitley

Our girlfriend group has grown from 2 kids to 6 kids, and as Cristina so perfectly explained it last week, it’s such a treat to know we can always count on seeing one other at the beach on Tuesdays. Once summer ends we’ll have to set up a new weekly date so we can continue to problem-solve together :)

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

PS. a fun (unplanned) fact: we all had babies in 2014! And can you believe Natalie will be turning One in October?

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How to survive mamahood in Los Angeles.

One of my dear mama friends (she has two littles: a four-month old and a 2-year old) taught me early on how to survive living in Los Angeles. You bring your kids to the beach, and you start going at an early age. And oh my, yes I couldn’t agree with her more. The weather in the city is pretty consistent — mostly blue skies, breezy sunshine and 75 degrees.

maxwell maggie whitley

But it’s also a super crowded, bustling, traffic-crazy city.

Except when you’re at the beach during the week ;) We notice mostly tourists here during the weekday (hooray for us, we’re the oddballs!), so it kinda feels like we’re on vacation. Except we live here year-round.

the beach maggie whitley

santa monica beach maggie whitley

When we go to the beach, we go for the entire day, like 10:30am until 4pm. Our kiddos play together and they play independently. We take multiple trips down to the water to splash around. We spy dolphins swimming near the shore. We brush off sand. Again. We keep our littles hydrated and full of energizing foods. We chase them around our umbrellas and beach quilts and trip over buckets.

palm trees maggie whitley

And then the most miraculous thing happens: all the littles take an afternoon nap. At the same time. And for at least an hour are able to catch up without getting up, but funny how fast that hour goes by :)

maxwell beach chair maggie whitley

It’s not so hard taking your kids to the beach. Maxwell went a few times last year and maybe a dozen times already this year? We continue to go and so it continues to get easier and easier. Going to the beach is one of my best tips for surviving mamahood in Los Angeles.

olivia maxwell maggie whitley

maxwell palm trees maggie whitley

Also! Once we’re home and the sunscreen’s been washed off, it’s not long before everyone is in bed for a good night’s rest.

Here’s one of my favorite photos with Maxwell from our trip to the beach yesterday. It makes me so happy that I wanted to share with you it’s full-size frame:

maxwell maggie whitley

I’ve only and always been a mama since we moved to Los Angeles. I’m sure it’s different for moms all over the country, but knowing “how to survive” seems to be something we can all do differently while still feeling so very connected to one another. I’d love to read your tips on surviving mamahood in your city. See you in the comments? xo

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Crazy town, two friends and sunshine.

whitley-family-gussy-sewscustom family illustration by my dear college friend, Lisa of My Little Buffalo

Whoooo. It’s kinda been crazy town over here. The mister has been working lots of hours lately (like 60/week) and so Max, Bauer and I have been trying to hold down the fort on our own. We are only kinda succeeding ;) Our part-time baby sitter has been on vacation, so I’ve been juggling all of the home/work/baby stuff solo. It makes me appreciate having a hubby to share life with even more! I can get by on my own for a little bit, but we’ve been pushing an entire week of crazy so I look forward to his work slowing down a little (hopefully?). I guess I didn’t realize how tired I’ve been, until two nights ago when I went to bed at 9:30pm and got out of bed at 7:30am… a total blessing. I knew I was exhausted and any work I attempted to do that night would be poor, unproductive work. So to bed I went!

I’m so thankful the weather has been absolutely gorgeous for about a week now — think 80’s and bright blue sky! I even dug out my flipflops for our walk today. Whenever Zack works a lot, or I have a lot of work myself to do, I’ve found getting out of our apartment for a bit helps so much. It keeps my focus on being productive when at home but I have the freedom to relax and adventure out when we leave the apartment. I’ve been researching free activities in our neighborhood that we can walk to and I’m super excited about what I’ve found so far.

For Christmas we received a few Starbucks gift cards, so grabbing an iced tea during the late morning/afternoon and sitting outside to drink it has been a real treat for me. Bauer and Max love the extra attention, too. There are so many restaurants and shops where we live, it’s a great walk getting there. AND! Once we get home both boys usually crash for a nap :) Bonus!

Yesterday one of my favorite friends, Joanna, came by with her daughter to play with Max while I checked a few things off my to-do list. It was so amazing. She even brought homemade cookie dough to bake in my oven (!) and Bauer may or may not have ignored even command to stop stealing the baby’s toys. Joanna’s visit was another blessing.

Zack and I have been praying hard, trying to be even more intentional and specific and receptive of what the LORD wants to share with us. I want to do more than just read a quick devotional in the morning, so I’ve been trying to linger on the verses and pages longer. It’s been really rewarding to see some of the difficulties settle down that life likes to throw at us :) Ya know?

And then also recently, another one of my favorite friends, Lisa (we met at Central Michigan University because our now husbands were roommates), sent me these two illustrative portraits. Do you just melt over how cute Maxwell looks? His blonde hair is starting to get so wavy and dare I say… curly! I kiss his sweet little head about 50 times a day. And then there’s Bauer. Lisa captured his cute-but-naughty personality perfectly. Zackary is looking as handsome as ever, and I just love seeing my pink moccasins on my feet. This family illustration is so special to me. It’s a great showcase for two parents who are working their dream jobs with a baby crawling around their feet, and a pup desperately trying to hide from the baby. Ha! Our lives right now may be a little crazy town but we are all healthy, happy and Zack and I are madly in love. (Eww, right Max?)

So. Deep breaths. :) I’m so specifically thankful for Joanna and Lisa who have blessed us this week with their gifts. And also for the posts I’ve read recently over on Edie’s blog… they are amazingly encouraging.

What act of kindness could you do for a friend this week? :)

bauer-gussy-sews

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