Category: Life

Happy Hearts In BWI

Work trips are always interesting. They are unique in that you meet municipal officials, encounter local flair, and travel a large area. My most recent trip to Baltimore was highly productive. Meaning? I literally saw my sites, the hotel, and Whole Foods across the street.

During my stay in Silver Springs, I ventured out one evening and experienced multicultural dance aerobics in the street, a vast array of food options (which we all know I did not participate), amazing clearance purchase of two pairs of compression running pants, and a very strange 5 lane road system with three alternating directional lanes. Yes, you bet I was mega confused with the fact there were absolutely no turning lanes yet a signal head hovering; a signal head that I, out of habit, maneuvered my vehicle in front of awaiting a green arrow. Luckily, the old man who chose not to hit me head on, gave me a warm east coast welcome and a quick lesson in local transportation culture using only his hands. A very talented man. All that being said; I really did like the Silver Springs area, I’d go back.

After 4 days of work, I won’t lie, when I woke up Saturday morning, I was really ready to be home. I booked the earliest non-stop flight and said farewell to the Marriott staff and headed across the sky bridge. This is the moment when I really felt I was in Baltimore, more importantly that I was not in Kansas (or Florida) anymore. I was walking in the hotel parking garage and I notice a bag with some brown broken glass, “Wonder why someone would break beer bottles in their backpack? Weird…” and marched onward. Then I notice a handbag on the trunk of a car, “Oh no someone dropped their bag last night, must have been a good night. That’s nice someone set their stuff up, hope they are happy to find their stuff.” and still continued toward my vehicle. Then another car with some glass and that’s when it hit me…I’m slow with reality, rose colored glass remember?!…wait for it…”OMG THESE CARS HAVE BEEN BURGALRIZED! WHAT IS GOING ON?” It was only when I saw a travel bag and a work computer bag trashed that I remembered the PSA we regularly ignore in real life.

Thank you. You are welcome.

Luckily my rental was fine. The Good-Samaritan in me struggled with the All-About-Me tantrum and won. I made sure to call and report to the police and I took pictures, just in case (okay, not really, I was just being nosy and thought it was intriguing). The police were definitely uninterested and my time was wasted similarly as if I called to order a pizza from Chinese take-out.

And we as society wonder why we have bystander issues.

But…the best part of my Baltimore experience was the airport. Groggy and probably catching a bit of a cold, I patiently waited for the plane in my A2 spot secretly contemplating if 10AM is too early to use my drink coupon. Don’t judge, Summer Shandy is available for a limited time! I boarded, let Adam know we were pushing off…aaaaand then we sat. We sat for a while. I began to get a little worried only because no one was saying anything. I even looked at the construction contractors in the area to make sure they weren’t shutting down shop and running for cover. Seriously. Our trouble turned out to be due to communication towers and radar system malfunctions…ironic for someone who just completed site visits on communications towers. While our plane was fine, our pilot was ready, our crew was entertaining, we would have been flying dark, which if you think about it, would be incredibly dumb. I for one was super excited to be grounded given the circumstances.

My excitement was not shared by others.

The anger and frustration spewed from strangers. I observed in amazement the joy some folks felt from throwing their anger towards others in a situation that is completely out of everyone’s control. The planes were operational. The pilots were rested. The crew was prepared. We were in a cool building with access to food, water AND clean bathrooms. I mean seriously, pretty golden in my book. Yet the complaining, finger pointing and the “what about me” complex was visible and incredibly ugly.

While there were far more distraught than content, I did encounter some beautiful folks who were making lemonade out of the lemons we were all handed by the FAA. My comfortable Advocare long sleeve shirt attracted some looking for a Spark and some looking to exchange positive conversation about the craziness of the day. I welcomed the icebreaker my shirt provided and the positive people it attracted to start conversation.

A family with three children…the children were playing nicely, dancing, and practicing yoga “just like mom” which was more like bear walks. The mom and dad were calm, sitting hand in hand, watching their kids be kids and encouraging their creativity.

A young man on his way home…thankful he had vacation time to visit family speaking fondly of his job at Dell.

A mom with a daughter…on her way to help her move to Kansas University jokes about the checklists she was texting and how she would just be so busy at home, it may be a blessing to be grounded at BWI where you can’t even rent a car to drive the distance overnight.

Just to name the memorable but here was one that left me feeling like happiness as first choice still thrives.

A pilot…impacted me on a personal level. There are still genuinely nice strangers out there. People still enjoy talking about the happy things in life. We talked about Advocare, running, and family. He shared with me his wife’s incredible feat of completing half marathons, while making sure I was fully aware he was NOT a runner. He was so proud when he talked about his wife. You could see it in his eyes. You could also see his disappointment that he would not be home to meet her and their daughter for dinner at Disney World. He spoke kindly and softly about his daughter. Proud of what she has overcome and the young lady she is becoming. That guy and his family are people I would want to call friends in my world.

You don’t hear that much these days. Love and admiration. You hear about the struggles of children and the complaints of a spouse.


Why do we choose to focus on complaining and negativity as a source of enjoyment? Why do we feel as though we cannot speak fondly of our family, demonstrate pride of our successes, or have a kind ear when listening to someone’s story?

After 18 hours of BWI fun, I ended up in Atlanta for the night, stranded and exhausted, looking for a hotel room. I chose to happily discuss a hotel option with Southwest’s services and she even mentioned how refreshingly cheerful I was given the situation. I simply explained, situation isn’t anything I could control and nothing you can fix, but you can help me with a room and no one can be angry about that! You know what? I don’t even care if my sincerity had nothing to do with anything, but she took a few extra moments and found me a discount code for “distress traveler” to save my company money. I thanked her and then looked over at a family still smiling only to see the dad GLARING at me and telling his kids to get comfortable because this is what it is like to be stranded! The glare continued the day’s theme…still baffled, perplexed, bewildered with the individual choice to be happy or angry. Why is this so difficult for people in public? Internal struggle is totally different subject. Publicly happy should be easy. Happy is light, warm, and comfortable. Who doesn’t want to feel all those things? Fake it till we make it? What do we accomplish with anger? Why would we want to make someone feel shadowed, cold and isolated?

I cannot say I have ALWAYS handled situations with a happy heart. But I can say I do take moments to breathe and think. I take a moment to decide how I am going to project my energy into the world.

Take a moment to choose happiness and passing positive attitude forward.

It is contagious, I promise. I encourage everyone to take 10 seconds to think about how you would love to feel when communicating and connecting with people…do that. And if you really do embrace anger…well…that’s just not awesome and I don’t want to meet you or be your friend. The end.

New Year New Word

Not a lot of people know this about me, but I don’t do resolutions.  I tried.  I really did.  But I never could understand the concept of waiting until the first of the year to address stuff you KNOW needed your attention in May or August.  I just couldn’t jump on the resolution bandwagon.  So being who I am…I did my own thing.  I began to prefer a word that would be constantly integrated throughout my year to bring focus and attention on a multifaceted approach to the traditional resolutions.  My past words have invoked comfort or a brash reminder.  Sometimes it was a word that needed to make a fundamental acknowledgement.

2007 Moments
2008 Intensity
2009 Appreciation
2010 Patience
2011 Present (Presence)
2012 Acceptance
2013 Love
2014 Tenacity

And now, the unveiling of the new word…
2015 Perspective: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Adam and I have chosen this word as it has such an incredible meaning that also embodies other annual word choices such as moments, appreciation, and presence.  In each moment there more perspectives than you allow yourself to see.  It is an incredible position to be in to open your heart and mind to the possibility of multiple points of view.  What we hope to gain from this is a greater appreciation of life, taking time to understand a moment, and embrace the challenges that all perspectives encounter.

We are challenging ourselves to take a moment and change our perspective, evaluate where we were and where we are.  It is amazing how just a shift in your view can bring to your life.  I’m not promoting that you can make every situation positively perfect.  But what I am saying is that you can find innovative solutions, evaluate your goals, and realize what to keep and let go from your life when you take the time to step back and look.

We have decided to embrace all things in our little corner of the world and be thankful that we get to experience them together.  Now that is an absolutely amazing perspective to share.  Here is to a fantastic 2015 with my Adam!

Okay, so, back to running.  How would this help GoSarahRun in 2015?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Perspective has allowed me to take a look at running, what it means to me and what I want to do with it this year.  Adam has encouraged me to “go with the flow” and see if I can just reconnect with my pace.  Get back to my core and let it evolve.  I do not have any running goals this year, which feels odd, but refreshing.  However, my main goal of the year is to graduate.  Therefore, I see running returning as a very healthy study break.  Because, lets face it, graduating in 2005 isn’t much different than graduating in 2015 :)

The Important Stuff

In contemplating how to be my best over the last few weeks, I have had time to reflect upon life in general, the important stuff. My opinions have developed a few items that I feel make or break you. The best part…they are choices made with free will and have meaning within any religious preference.

  1. YOUR life…if you wake up and look around and dislike what you see, know that you created it. Be it directly or without courage to express meaningful communication, your life is yours. Own it. No one forced it upon you, you were blessed with it and you were given all the tools to enhance life or tear it down. A hammer can build a home or deconstruct one nail at a time. So be committed to family, be committed to love, be committed to communication, be committed to patience, and be committed to doing things together. Only that commitment truly unveils the blessings that have been provided in your life.
  2. Family is EVERYTHING…no matter where you are in life, always choose family. Family has a unique bond that is forever, regardless of the hurt, no matter the personal journey, or struggle, family forgives and journeys together…always choose family. The moment that you decide to remove yourself from the family circle for advice, commiseration, secrets, trials and tribulation, you have begun the deterioration of the family bond and manifested alternative connections with threads. Threads are easily cut. Always choose family…they will never let you down.
  3. Time for LOVE…time is a precious commodity. In today’s society we have many demands: work, school, chores, social activities, philanthropies. If you do not take time for love soon nothing else will have meaning. Your life would be lived for the purpose of others. You will be searching for your purpose and through your search; you may overlook everything that has been seated before you. Take time for meaningful conversation. Take time to truly listen. Take time for hugs and holding hands. Take time for love.
  4. Do things TOGETHER…memories are created through the act of living. Memories are remarkable when they are shared. Doing things together is more than just making big memories, but it is also demonstrating your commitment to the three things above: owning your life, choosing family, and taking time for love. Some people need that together time more than others. What may seem like a boring chore of picking out paint colors or curtain shopping, or sitting and watching a movie or walking around the block when there is a to-do list a mile long actually means the world to the person you say yes to. Recognizing what your love, your family, and your personal needs are is vitally important. If you can’t recognize needs and respect them, you will find yourself searching and back to item 3. With recognition comes easy communication; communication is key.
  5. Speak softly…patience is not easy. Ever. We are born impatient. We live impatiently. We must remind ourselves to be patience and practice it daily. Part of patience is found in our speech. We must speak to those we love softly with kindness. My grandpa said something to me when I was growing up that I will never forget, “Speak to those you love so you never have to say you are sorry.” Think about that. In that one teaching statement, my grandpa said, think before you speak, be kind to those you love, and never be so angry that your voice or actions require an apology. Speak softly, kindly, with patience, always.
  6. Happiness is a choice…the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence when you aren’t watering or fertilizing your own lawn. It takes work to be happy. But if you live the first 5 items consistently, happiness will seamlessly come together in a tapestry of love you can take ownership of and pride in what has been created before your very eyes. Be in awe of your possibilities. Be humbled by your rips, worn spots, and rejoice in the ugly patches that keep it all together. Be in love of the life you live…it was chosen for you.

My Dad Said Goodbye

Saturday October 4, 2014 – an evening full of festivities that ranged from St Martin Lutheran Church’s 8th Annual Germanfest to Paradise Fall’s fall bonfire. As I look back, all I can think is that the last thing I offered my dad in conversation was that life can sometimes be tough, but the tough doesn’t last long, all you have to do is hold your breath and keep family close, and eventually it is all okay. It was an odd goodbye but it definitely stirred some uneasy feelings in the pit of my stomach. I struggled with the next week and decided to write When Life Hands You Lemons post in order to try to stay focused.

Monday October 13 – official email from my dad – Please Read I love you

I read. And now, everything is different.

My new reality…

My dad is divorcing my mom.   He is choosing another woman, Linda, from Church over his family. He is the church president and she is his secretary. He has moved out of the Henke home and into her home. He left. He is excited for his new life and hopes I understand. He loves me…I think.

My closest friends wonder if I’m angry or what I’m feeling. For those of you who have wondered, what the heck is up with Sarah? This might be new to you and I promise to be better from now on. I needed time to bind with my husband, my family and to process our new reality. Honestly, I have feelings of practicality…it is what it is, choices are made, those choices had nothing to do with me, they were his to make, we are all adults. I am all reactionary at this time. But I do have feelings. Sometimes they are overwhelming other times stoic. I just know that I view my dad in a completely different way and I can never unsee the new man who stands in his place.  I miss my dad.

I’m sad. I am mourning the future that I thought I was going to have by moving back to Kansas. I’m mourning my dad. I know he isn’t dead, but everything is different. I’m sad because I know he did not choose the family he created. He chose to walk away at age sixty-nine from a life he built. This choice is baffling to me…obviously I think we are awesome and cannot comprehend why anyone would chose to leave. I’m sad because I see my dad as a shadow of a dead man. Sure, he is still my dad and I will always be his daughter. But everything is different. He is no longer the strong vibrant warrior that has fearlessly protected his family and name. He is no longer the man that God chose to be our leader, courageous, and strongly driven. He no longer loves his wife extravagantly more than anything on earth. Maybe he never did. He is just a man who walks into another man’s home bought for a wife and makes himself comfortable. He can buy all new furniture for that house. Put up new shutters and paint the walls…but it will still never be his house. He did not create that home, no matter how comfortable he is there, it’s not of his creation. The odd thing, from my perspective, is that he was not chosen by his mistress. He pursued a woman as she was becoming a widow. The love of her life died, her husband suffocated in his own blanket or pillow or something, not quite sure on the full story but…I couldn’t even imagine the guilt that must have on a caretaker of the bedridden. But maybe she was distracted with my dad as he inched his way in. Ultimately, I am not sure she would have scampered off to start a life with my dad if her husband was healthy and living, and so from my relative reality, my dad fills a void, a need…an emptiness which resided in her heart.

I get it. I understand the need for a moment of clarity, to find yourself when life starts to move too fast, to remember what is important. I know what it feels like to want to run…but run laps, return home, don’t’ talk to strangers. Leaving is like a heavy coat on a hot day removed. It is freeing, exhilarating, refreshing. Who doesn’t want to just leave the tough stuff behind?!? But we leave the tough stuff behind together and we pick up the pieces that matter most and starting rebuilding. Leave the tough stuff behind selfishly and someone has to pick it up, someone has to deal with it, someone has to be responsible.  As an adult child going through a parental divorce things are just different. There is an understanding of personal choices, needs, and decisions. As adults we have a bigger view of what it takes to be a good adult, to have successful marriages, and the meaning of family and friends. We have a true sense of what we would do, what we have done, and what could happen in the future. We can relate to the need for momentary flight, the fear of life, and the excitement of starting something new. I have no anger for his actions as they are of his own. Choices are made every day and it’s the way we all react to them that demonstrates our character. I am just going through my own anger for trying so hard to be perfect for him. For trying so hard to win my dad over and working so hard to right all the mistakes a normal child and young adult makes. It was truly wasted effort. He still left.

I’m disappointed. I realized his reality was not that which is shared by my mom, sister or I…his reality was falsely created in his own warped mind and perpetuated in the commiseration of his friends. What he thought was real was misinterpretation due to a confined perspective. He left without communicating to anyone that truly mattered…his family. My reality is my own. I hope that my reality is shared by those I love because I include them every moment of my day. We talk every day. We worked through tough decisions and sadness together. We are never alone. We find purpose and strength in sharing our lives with those we love. Now that I know, I was not loved reciprocally by my dad, I understand why he shared so much with his friends and mistress. He actually loved them truly where we were just there. I’m sure there is an emotion that he holds for us…but it may not be the same emotion I know as love.

I’m thankful. I have lived a great life with a great family. We had all the quirks most families do and my sister and I we were raised with love and devotion. I will forever be a Henke. I have memories that only a Henke has and they are my own. My dad was the first man I ever loved. He was my hero. He loved me the best he could. The only thing I ever wanted to do was to make him happy and proud because I was so incredibly happy and proud to be Vic Henke’s daughter. I am his. I am blessed he was saved in Vietnam to come home. I’m humbled for his past life he left behind to find my mom. I am strong today because of 32 years within one family. I am thankful for the time I have had selfishly with my dad. I am thankful that I had one family for 32 years and that I did not have to share. My half-sister never knew Vic, my dad took no responsibility outside of court ordered requirements he fulfilled. She was a secret he never spoke of or acknowledged. There is EXTREME guilt in that statement of selfish happiness as I know she and her mom must have suffered immensely so I could have one family.

I’m honored. My dad held his breath. He chose us for the best parts of his life. He held his breath long enough for me to have him at every important moment to date as one family. I love knowing he was by my side. I love looking back at the pictures. I love looking back at the smiles. I love closing my eyes and remembering everything about those moments of happiness. And if he was suffering through life, I’m glad he suffered long enough to give me those moments. They were pure happiness to me. That happiness can never be taken away.

I’m hopeful. With the years remaining in an old dad’s life, I hope that he can finally find peace in his choices, take responsibility because he made them. I hope that he can be thankful with a happiness that overflows with his new family with new step-children and step-grandchildren. I was sad to say goodbye. I’m still sad that everything is forever different. Looking back on that October night, I knew I should have challenged him on that…but my regrets are in the past and the outcome would remain the same. I must move forward with hope and my family. I owe it to them to be the best wife, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, co-worker, and stranger than I can be. The world deserves my best. I will always be his daughter; he will always be my dad. But everything is different.

My day with Gwen

Three months ago I was able to have a day with my friend Gwen and her husband. Although this was just one day in a very busy weekend, it kept me looking forward to Success School 2014 and a welcomed distraction to my dissertation studies.

AdvoCare’s Success School is an amazing gathering of the most positive group energy I have ever experienced.  It is the time of year where we are recharged, ignited with new fuel, and remodeled with an refreshed outlook on the future.  I realize that each year means something so different because I am never the same person.  I am a year older, a year wiser, a year experienced.  These experiences mould and sculpt my life.  Some years are fine details, others are rough shapes…but this weekend is more to me than AdvoCare, it is a moment for me to reflect positively on what I am working towards, how I am helping others, and learn more.

My journey with AdvoCare has goals. This year I set a 90 day goal, that goal expired November 15. I had hoped that this post would be a celebration of sorts as I have been holding onto it for various reasons. And although I cannot write that I met my goal this week, I can say that I have evaluated my focus, revised my reach, and am okay with my current purpose.  So…it is now that I choose to celebrate my friend Gwen!

I met Gwen through a mutual friend in Florida. She has since gotten married, moved (back) to Texas, passed her professional engineering exams, and has demonstrated more ambition wrapped up in a spunky personality than I can express in words. While getting to know her in a more personal context, I have come to realize she and I struggle with some of the same areas of life. We both are driven resulting in wanting to do it all, a need for activities, and a strong desire to find a balance between personal life, faith and family. We know we can stand alone but we strongly desire camaraderie and the love of partnerships.  We are very hard on ourselves when we feel we have failed ourselves and especially when we feel we have disappointed others. Disappointment is something we try to avoid at any cost, even if it is to our own sanity. I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to spend the day with her, to catch up on life, to talk about our dreams…and yes, our time together did include a scheduled morning workout before I drove back to Kansas. BUT it also included a pretty amazing first for GoSarahRun…paddle board yoga!

Friends, I cannot tell you just how amazing paddle board yoga is for the soul. Although it was hot and we did not prepare well for hydration…the connection to every muscle in your body while balancing on the surface of water is an overwhelmingly inspiring practice. If you ever have the opportunity to go for a paddle…do it!!! Even if you have no yoga experience whatsoever, just try it with an open mind and open heart. Let yourself explore. The worst thing that happens is a refreshing dip in nature’s swimming pools.

Words for Gwen…

These are words I must remind myself and now I share with you…

When in doubt find patience in your thoughts…be in awe of your accomplishments…give praise for all that has been placed in your life…breathe and know there is no shame in baby steps for even the smallest movements forward with determination amount to miles of accomplishments.

You are an amazing friend. I cannot wait to see you again next year! Hopefully Russ is our instructor again and we will actually get those photos of our handstands (and water plunge) attempts.

When Life Hands You Lemons

When life hands you lemons…

Things get tough…they do.  And when they do, I think lemons.  Life lemons and the promise of a tall, cool glass of of lemonade.  I’ve always wondered the origin of this proverbial statement that has become so well known.  I would be lying that in moments of dealing with handfuls of lemons, I haven’t found myself despising the implication that lemonade is a desired beverage and it’s equivalency to contentment.  But looking into the history of this phrase brought out some thoughts on the concept of life lemons.

The optimistic phrase was introduced in 1916 but made famous in 1944 by Senator Homer (Indiana) during his first race.  In 2014, the life lemon may not be much more bitter than one of 1944.  I wonder if the personal struggles are the same in daily life as technology has grown and expectations grow higher with every sunrise.  So these are 5 things I remember as I juggle lemons…

1. Things always work out

Breathe.  I am never given anything in life that hasn’t effected me with a lesson or opportunity resulting in a positive outcome.  During the juggle it is easy to think of all the things that are going wrong, but stay positive.  When staying positive and doing my best to keep moving forward, things always work out…be it money, time, or health.  I can talk all day long about positive mental attitude and how important it is to our personal psyche, but this blog does it so well…I’ll just reference a post I enjoy.

Seven Habits for Creating and Maintaining PMA

2. Maintain yourself

First thing to go when the juggle begins are the little things like daily showers, brushing my teeth, eating healthy.  These things, when left out, result in even larger negativity spiral.  If I stick to what I know typically makes me feel good and healthy, the little things, don’t give them up.  The extra 20 minutes in the morning is more important spent on me than in my cubical, even if I’ve overslept.

3.  Keep your schedule

I may think that the stress NEEDS my attention at all times, but there is sanity in my schedule.  It is mine always.  The stress is momentary.  Sure, you need to tend to the resolution of the stress, but it has taken me many years to realize the natural progression toward a positive outcome if you keep doing number 4, every day.

4.  Look ahead

Keep the future in mind.  The past is the past and it is over, there is no machine that allows for alterations, no matter how much you wish to make a choice again, react differently, or just go back to when you know you were happy…only thing possible now is the future, so focus on overcoming struggles to celebrate the triumphs in the future

5. Turn off your mind

Easier said than done, I know, but find an activity that allows you to completely turn off.  A moment of relaxed intention to recharge your personal batteries.  For some that is exercise, running, yoga, sewing, knitting, video games or TV.  Just don’t let the activity consume you.  I know that I cannot hide from stress, I can only face it and move forward.  Once I have had my moment, remember Number 1 and keep moving forward.

Over time (be it a few days or a few months) stress will change, you will adapt, and you will overcome.  Life lemons test your ability to fight for yourself and your family.  It is worth the fight.