These are a few of my favorite things

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2019 by runmyssierun

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I love that one of my most vivid memories about Christmas as a child is an old plastic ball of fake mistletoe hanging from the hallway entry of my childhood home and seeing my parents kiss under it every single time they passed underneath. Now as an adult, my husband does the same maybe not EVERY time we pass underneath it but for sure that first night when I decorate our house and to pass that memory on to my children makes my heart smile.

I love that Christmas carols get played the day after Halloween. Yes, I’m that girl.

I love that I came from a small, close knit family that always spent holidays together. I don’t remember much of my father’s side of the family during holidays after my grandfather remarried and what I do remember, quite honestly, I don’t want to repeat as a memory for my children to be burdened with so I focus on the good parts of our family for them. I hope that the cycle of dysfunction diminishes as much as it can in my generation. I realize now that I cannot change the past but I can help change the future. I love that my children see this in me and my actions.  I also love that my mother always wanted a large family but was unable to. Because of that, she welcomed, and taught me to eagerly welcome all friends into our humble homes as family when they needed a stable, loving family to go to.

I love receiving Christmas cards… I’m talking the old fashioned hand written card with home made cookies attached in a holiday themed tin can or red ribboned baggie and hand delivered kind of cards.  These cards come with big old hugs from the giver and a story of what has happened since we last saw each other that can last for about an hour.

 

I love the smell of Christmas. Pine trees and cinnamon and orange and apple and clove… lots and lots of clove and tons of food in the oven! A hodgepodge of scrumptious scents swirled together with laughter and love and the sound of classic carols softly playing in the background (my favorite is the Christmas Song), laughing, glasses clinking and thick fuzzy warm blankets wrapped around everyone on couches in the living room with the fire crackling in the fire place as we sip coffee and nibble on tortillas rolled up with cajeta and/or chicken and cheese or pork tamales with ketchup on top.

I love crisp winter-ish mornings with a fresh brewed cup of coffee and by cup I really mean the entire pot! Y’all know I’m not exaggerating on this one. Sitting in the back porch as the sun rises and the birds sing and squirrels greet me for their daily seeds in over-sized pajamas, fuzzy toe socks and furry blankets is the bomb!!! I used to always rush rush rush and be late anywhere and everywhere. Taking the time to ENJOY and cherish the little things that create joy around us had been forgotten… until now.

I love that I now prioritize praying the Divine Mercy in the morning and realizing that 18 minutes a day praying for someone else comes back to me 24/7.

I love that we can use only the light of the Christmas tree and candles for a month.

I love that the winter cold gives us the excuse to hug each other and it’s ok.

I love that our winter really isn’t winter at all but more of a warm Autumn so we get occasional cool fronts and don’t have to shovel snow in the mornings before school or work. I love that we’re an hour and twenty minutes away from the beach and can still enjoy it on Christmas day.

I love that my greatest most cherished gifts don’t have designer labels, or price tags, or gift receipts, or wrapping paper. I love that I am not impressed with stuff but by experiences and time with those whom I cherish most.

I love that even though I have reached the entry level of family matriarch-ness and the family that I once knew is no longer the way I remember it, I still have photos and video to share with future generations of the life we used to have. I know that although my children may not cherish them immediately, when they reach my age or their children or grandchildren may have questions and be curious about their family history. I know I have a responsibility to tell my family’s story as accurately and as fully as possible because it is a great one. Digitizing and scanning for duplication (so that the originals stay in as pristine condition as possible) for them is one of my greatest gifts to them as it was receiving them from my grandparents and mother who took incredible care of them for me.

I love that my boys and I can spend all day playing board games or any variation of Mario games and be totally content.

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I love that by realizing all this… I get to sleep in on Black Friday and have no issue with it one single bit. Y’all go right ahead and fight over that 10% discount of that thing you’re getting yourself in debt for trying to impress that person you don’t really care that much about and quite honestly wouldn’t lift a finger getting you out of the debt your got yourself into.  I seriously have to shake my head at those who spend the night in tents trying to be the first in line when they open the doors. Y’all go right ahead. 20 years from now, will that gift be heirloomed to your grandchildren?

 

 

Forever Cinderella now

Posted in training for my first half ironman on November 17, 2019 by runmyssierun

Turn the page

Posted in training for my first half ironman on November 12, 2019 by runmyssierun

I was asked why I haven’t updated my blog in a while…

And then I wondered how to tell them that this part was none of their business… in a nice way, of course.

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

The Journey to Healing

Posted in cancer, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2019 by runmyssierun

IMG_3603Eight years ago yesterday, I began my journey healing from the after effects of cancer by running and strengthening my relationship with God. Many have followed my candid documentary of it through my blog (www.runmyssierun.com), social media posts and/or joined me on the jogging trail or in the church at mass, Catholic Daughters, or ACTs. I remember someone telling me when Donny died that time heals. They said it again six months later when Sissy died. And again six months after that when Momma died. Although I understand, appreciate and am grateful for them trying to console me but I’m still not sure it’s TIME that has helped heal me. What I do know is that what helped ME was a phenomenal group of genuine, loving people who care surrounded me and encouraged me to find healthy outlets for my emotions. I took up running to heal my body (not to become a professional athlete – I have to make that clear for a certain group of people who follow). I felt it was better to take out my anger on the pavement than on the loved ones closest to me. I sought out the light of God in all that I did and if I did not see Him there, I dropped it from my life. By doing both, my eyes and heart were exposed to things I had not seen before: how cancer affects so many of us, too many of us, how God is there always and too many times it’s us that are not, and when you go through things that you don’t understand and are truly horrific, its because He is having you connect the dots, become stronger and wiser so that when they ARE connected, you KNOW and BLAM! – it hits you and it all makes sense. Eight years of this and the dots are finally connecting for me. I’ve met so many wonderful people, learned so much about cancer, how far science and medicine has come, how many gaps are still left to bridge and how possible we can make the impossible happen if we all work together for a greater cause. Thank you Lord for the hardships that you carried me through, thank you Momma for the prayers you devoted to me, thank you Sissy for saving my life with your last wish, thank you to my running coaches, mentors, teams, sponsors and fellow runners who encouraged me to not quit and push harder, thank you to my family, my sons and my husband for supporting me through those heart shattering moments that lasted years and in some ways still continue, thank you to my sisters in Christ who continuously pray for me and everyone who has been and will be touched by cancer, thank you to my fellow Realtors® who have now stepped up and in to this next phase of mine, just as my Momma did – still not ready to fill her shoes but certainly am ready to follow the footsteps she proudly trekked.

So with that, a few weeks ago, a fellow Realtor and cycling amigo rounded up a few of us who run and ride and a challenge was set forth: we were all to run 1000 mile (collectively) during the month of October and some of the businesses that we work with in the industry would match $1 per mile that we run and donate the money to the Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer & Hematology Clinic. We created a facebook group and a Strava group to encourage/motivate each other and log our miles together. As of today, 4 days into October, we already have approximately 350 miles in to our goal! As Realtors®, we stereo typically lead very unhealthy, high stress lives. Most of us spend too much time in our cars driving rather than walking, running or cycling. We eat whatever is convenient and cheap so highly processed, high calorie fast food is the norm or skipping meals and binge eating/drinking late in the day is common. It didn’t take long for our little group to explode and offer hope and encouragement to our other members. We have 5ks on our calendar every weekend in October. Tomorrow’s Chacha Run in Edinburg will be our first.

But I had a dilemma. All these years, I was known for running in ORANGE because it was my Momma’s favorite color. The Chacha run and most October Breast Cancer awareness runs use the color PINK to signify and bring awareness to the issue. Long story short – I have nothing in pink to run in and wear tomorrow.

TODAY one of my best friends surprised me with THIS and all I could give her back were a flood of happy tears and big bear hugs. She took the time, effort and creativity to design and create this and have it made custom for me in time for this race tomorrow. ISN’T SHE AWESOME!?!?!? I know I am blessed not because I’m feeling all high and mighty but just the opposite – I’m humbled and unworthy of all the greatness bestowed upon me. I am blessed because through all of this loss, hardship, heartbreak, family destruction and cracks in the foundation of what I thought was me was God’s light shining through and connecting these dots, these moments, experiences and strangers who quickly became solid life long best friends is the healing. Thank you Irene Becerra Thompson and every one at Pescador Fishing Apparel! Y’all caught me by surprise today and love you all so much for it! I will proudly wear pink tomorrow for #mimismiles and to those who run beside me, I hope you feel the breeze from the wings of the angels around me. I hope that in the steps we all take tomorrow, today, this month, we are able to make a difference in the lives of the children fighting cancer in our community. My heart is smiling today!!!

Sorry Not Sorry I’m Really Sorry About That

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 31, 2019 by runmyssierun

I’m sorry.

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Apologizing is NOT a sign of weakness. It is indicative of a person who is accountable for their own actions to ensure that the lesson has been learned and in process of not repeating it again in their life and accepting responsibility for the harm done to those hurt.

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Accepting an apology is not excusing the action but rather forgiving it. Forgiveness is not allowing the apologizer the ability to repeat the incident again but rather releasing the weight of the action from the life of the forgiver.

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In a hypocritical world with so many people telling you to do this not that, apologize but stop saying you’re sorry so much, blah blah blah… the advice goes from one spectrum to the other and all of it may be right and all of it may be wrong, too. Depending on the time, situation and people involved. Maybe it’s time to stop listening to the commands of other people who have NO clue what is truly happening in your life and listen to your gut instead.

There are people who say “I’m sorry” a million times a day and none are a true apology.

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There are people who will never say “I’m sorry” but need to a million times a day.

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Whether you fall into the category of saying it too much or not enough, we must all forgive graciously for the apologies we receive and the ones we never get. Forgiveness is the superhero power God granted each one of us and I am being intentional today to forgive as often as God has forgiven me and I’m not sorry about it one single bit.

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THE FINISH LINE IS JUST THE BEGINNING 26.2

Posted in training for my first half ironman on June 3, 2019 by runmyssierun

CROSSING THE LINE

Seven and a half years ago, I made the decision to do all I could to help those who have been hurt by cancer like how my family and friends and I have been hurt. Running a marathon would not bring the world a cure. It would not bring back my best friend Rodney Perez, my Aunt Sissy (Luz Gomez) nor would it bring back my beautiful Momma (Mimi Cardenas). Crossing the finish line after six months of insanely dedicated workouts was far from the end. On the contrary, I believe it is just my beginning.

Like I said before in my earlier blogs, I had no clue what possessed me – the overweight, non-athletic, outta-shape, 40+ anti-gym rat – to enter a race, much less a MARATHON!!! But I followed my signs and trusted the advice of Sissy. She was right.

“Life is not a race — but indeed a journey”

Did you know I have weather angels?
I expected myself to be the last one in since I was the only full-marathon participant who had never run before… EVER in her life. So when it came down to our team practice runs, I dreaded having the others wait hours for me to come in. I would pray the night before for a “healthy” run and over cast morning with a breeze so that the others wouldn’t have to suffer while waiting for me. Each long run of the season that I ran with the team had over cast mornings with a cool breeze up until the very moment I finished. And yes, I did finish without any health problems. I must have weather angels and the blessings from above.

Did you know that I live amongst angels?
From the moment I decided to make this crazy journey, I was led in the right direction to the angels who live amongst us. Had it not been for German, Lucia and all the inspirational staff who took me under their wings at Valley Running Company, I would not have lasted two weeks in this “sport”. Had it not been for my run class, Coach Jetter, and all my wonderful run clubs like iRun, Run Walk Crawl, Me Myself and Run, Sole Sisters and my TnT Team mates and extremely patient TnT coaches and my fabulous mentor, I would have given up at shin splints and ice baths. My boss – wow. She lost her father to cancer a year before I lost my mother. She knows my drive and determination very well. Probably because hers is pretty identical to mine. Her support was beyond extraordinary. I knew she could read right through me when I was hurting and she knew that I knew. And she let me continue. I had to. Anna, my co-worker, had been battling leukemia from the first day I was employed there. Her strength and courage drove us all to pitch in what ever we could. THIS was all I could do.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, here are the highlights that I posted right after the race:

1. As I got the high five from Jean Gearhart at station #4 the band nearby played “Hero” from the Foo Fighters (the band that my brother Donny loved), she said “Looking good Mama” – just like my Momma used to say. I couldn’t stop the tears.
2. A soldier in full gear with a full ruck sack and boots passed me at mile 10. I looked to the side and the crowd saluted him.
3. As my body began to break down at mile 17, a man not much older than me said “excuse me” and passed me on the left with his daughter. How do I know this? The back of his shirt said he was running for his daughter. The girl beside him said “survivor”. She had to have been my son’s age.
4. I hit my “wall” as I entered the island. My legs were heavy and stiff and I felt like I was giving birth again. The pain was intense. A woman yelled out to me “You are running to fund the research that has allowed me to live. THANK YOU so much! I am here because of YOU!”
5. The Perez family all came to meet me at the finish line. Rodney’s mom came up from behind me and hugged me and cried for about 15 minutes. We spent the evening having a wonderful dinner and catching up on life as we know it now. None of us could gather the strength to talk about Rodney. We still miss and love him so!
6. 3,000 runners sit for the inspiration dinner the night before the race. Six big screens hang from the ceiling with a picture and a caption “We are running in Memory of Luz Gomez” – that’s my Sissy.

My mother passed away the week that I had planned to run the Austin 10/20 race in memory of Sissy. As many of you know, I did not run that race so that I could spend those last few days with my mother. But I am a woman of my word and Sissy is really that special to me so I must continue. The Nike Women’s marathon will be run for her.

And how very fitting. Sissy really knew what she was doing for me. I knew she had it all planned out. I am so very grateful to her and hope that each of you continue to join me on my journey. Come run with me.

Each step I take brings us closer to a cure. This eases my pain and sadness in knowing that those last few years that my mother gave her body to have science experiment on her so that others could be cured was not in vain. #Relentless for a cure

How long does it take for you to get ready for a special event?

Posted in before and after, diet, fashion, health & fitness, training for my first half ironman, weightloss with tags on March 28, 2019 by runmyssierun

When you wake up in the morning and you get dressed for school or work, how long does it take for you to get ready? 5 minutes? 10-20 minutes? An hour? More?

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When you get ready for a special event, do you take a little longer? If so, how much more time?

On a regular day, it takes me about 12 minutes to get ready. But this special day I’m writing about today was an exception. I took a really long time. I mean a REALLY long time… six months and 40 minutes. It took 40 minutes to do my make up and hair… six months for the rest of this stuff …

My life seems to be a series of befores and afters. If you think about it, yours probably is, too! Life before Duran Duran. Life after. Life before your first kiss. Life after. Life before marriage and life after. Life before kiddos… and yeah, well, you get the point… so my crazy journey has taken me through life before running marathons and life after… what I can say about the after is that it sure is stressful, lonely, and makes you pay really close attention to how much you appreciate stretchy pants when you stop working out like a beast!!!

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There’s no nice way to say it so I’ll just put it out there.. I got fat. I got out of shape fast. I got humiliated, intimidated and ate my emotions in carbs. I got busy in my work and got to spend my time tending to the things I hadn’t been able to focus on while training (which wasn’t a bad thing). But let’s be honest, there’s a LOT of judgmental people out there that don’t see what goes on in real life and love to gossip about any little thing they can… and I made it easy for them with my weight gain. *Dont worry, I’m totally ok about it. Spoiler alert: I end up on the good side of the happy ending of this story.

Myssie Cardenas-Barajas at heaviest weight

Me at my heaviest. I weighed more here than when I was pregnant with my 2nd son and more than my husband’s heaviest weight. I know it’s a loose fitting dress but I admit I used one of those photoshop tools to knock off a few inches from the side and still you can tell I’m more than just big boned. I hid behind fashion, used high heels to give the illusion of length and always cropped or stood behind someone (or something) in photos. This one is probably the most revealing and it was because someone not knowing what my insecurities were posted it on social media before I could knock it down.

Soooo long story longer… my eldest son joined the Navy, served, deployed and came back with news that he was marrying his high school sweetheart. He gave me notice but not an actual date for a while because well, the military tends to complicate any plans that a civilian likes to make with a handsome soldier. But he did hint that it would likely be Spring of 2019.

So I took a really good honest look at myself… and asked that dreaded question: “Will I embarrass him and my new daughter in law?”

I took out my wedding album and looked at my mom. She was elegant and understated. Like in the play/movie “Steel Magnolias”, my colors were blush and bashful and my bridesmaids wore design replicas of the famous Audrey Hepburn black gown but in pink silk but my mother wore a tea length dusty rose chemise sheath with cap sleeves and mother of pearl beading at the top. It was an off the rack dress she found at Dillard’s and she embellished the top by hand beading the pearls from her grandmother’s wedding dress onto hers. In hindsight, she must have taken a lot of thought, effort and time to be considerate of how she wanted to appear, be meaningful and still be herself, the mother of the bride. I say this a lot… she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She could have easily upstaged the bride that day and every day.

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So I thought long and hard about what to wear and how to create my look with the same respect and tradition that my mother gave me on my day.

One year out: Get information on wedding theme and ask which color the bride would like me to wear. It was FIESTA themed!!! Love it!! And y’all clearly know how I feel about ORANGE which totally fits into the color theme!!! I was a former Duchess of Orange for Queen Citrianna and remember how my coronation gown stood out on stage… and how difficult it was to find elegant orange colored accessories to create the gown. It is such an uncommon color to use for a formal occasion and, therefor, an even larger rarity to find on the rack. Her sister (Maid of Honor) was wearing blue and her mother was wearing pink and her bridesmaids were in a purple… leaving me with yellow or green. So, green it is!

Six months out:  After taking an honest look at my body and realizing how much weight I had gained, I need to find a design that would hide my flaws, accentuate my assets, be elegant, timeless, understated and affordable. My experience in pageantry in the 80’s was in large part a result of my desire to become a designer. Believe it or not, I was actually pretty good at it. The moment I saw my dress, I knew that was it. Unfortunately, when I saw it at the store, I had been between properties cleaning them up and getting them ready for a weekend showing (this Realtor does it all, including maid services!) and consequently made an appearance that didn’t quite fit the stereotypical high end evening gown customer. So when I asked if the gown could be special ordered in green by March of 2019, the store clerk “Pretty Womaned” me…

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I picked up my pride and packed on my determination and found a seamstress who could make it for me exactly the way I wanted it. It had no beading or lace, didn’t plunge for attention to flaunt cleavage, covered my flabby arms with slimming three quarter sleeves, had a full skirt to hide my hips that were way out of control and best of all, it had pockets!!!! Because, well, pockets are just awesome!!! It was an elegant and understated shirt dress that Carolina Herrera was notorious for wearing herself at galas.

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Jackie O inspired Carolina Herrera and both of these classy women inspire me. They are my ultimate style icons.

But if I could do anything about my weight, I realized it would have to take a long time because there was a lot — no a whole hell of a lot – of work to be done and one month of dieting wouldn’t have made a difference. I needed to get serious… not just for vanity sake but because my health habits were spiraling out of control and quickly becoming serious issues. I joined our local Medi Weightloss clinic and got myself on a program designed just for me and my goals. BEST DECISION EVER!!!  So, let’s back up here… six months before a March 2019 wedding places me in November. That’s Thanksgiving! How in the world does someone DIET during Thanksgiving?!?!? Whoa! And then Christmas??? And New Years??? And went to Disney, too?!?!? Are you kidding me??? Most people binge during the holidays and won’t even consider thinking about weight-loss at this time. Ahhhhhh but you already know I am not like most people. I was so proud of my son and wanted him to be proud of me, too. The last thing I wanted to do was to ruin his wedding pictures with a flabbalanch mom in wedding pictures that would be looked at for years, decades, forever to come!!! I was determined. Not just for me, but for everyone and my health and all of our futures together. This was huge.

I still have a very active pageant girl inside of me. Along with making the decision to lose weight, I also made the decision to grow out my hair, take care of my skin and let my nails breathe. My very first half marathon running mentor with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program was Dr. Belinda Jordan. Although neither of us were training for any marathons these last few months, we continued to meet with each other for business reasons. She opened up her own medical clinic that included Botox services. Now, I’m not one to Botox. Let’s be honest, cutting bangs and snapchat filters are so much cheaper and hide those pesky wrinkles just as well and that extra money can help buy triathlon gear!!! But I think this event would be an exception. I didn’t say a peep to anyone about it until now. I got Botox… just between the eyes to get rid of my “elevens”. Good move, I think. Not sure if I’ll keep it up because I’m so pinche and I’m eager to get back into triathlon. I grew out my bangs and side swept them and my top layers all grew out to the length of my bottom layers and then chopped everything off for a fresh healthy styling three days before the wedding after a good long late night counseling session with my old pageant coach and stylist, Albert Alaniz (who used to style several Miss Texas USAs, Miss USAs and Miss Universe!)  Four days prior to the wedding, I showed the ultimate judge my ideas for my hair that Albert and I discussed and had my husband decide which style to wear. He said,”Wear your hair the way you did on our wedding day. That way is my favorite.” (Insert big sigh and the audience AWWWWWW!)  And I constantly flipped through Pinterest late at night going through nail styles… also looking for something elegant and with the intention that if Jackie O wouldn’t wear those nails, I wouldn’t either. I decided on an Hombre French manicure, classic with a modern twist.

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So on the big day, My plan was set. I had lost 36 pounds and 5 inches from my waist. I had the perfect dress. I had practiced doing my hair and make up days before and had my nails done the day before. It took me 40 minutes to get it all done. Six months and 40 minutes, a bunch of determination and a whole lot of planning to get dressed for my son’s wedding.

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It took me six months to go from never running a mile to completing my first marathon.

It took me six months to go from marathons to triathlon, including learning how to swim.

My point is no matter where you are in life, if you see a challenge but envision a result that lights a fire within you… give yourself the opportunity and determination to get it. Six months can do it. Depending on the challenge/goal, you may not realistically achieve it but I’ll guarantee you that it will definitely get you into the right mindset, pathway and further than you probably ever imagined. Plan it and make the decision and don’t ever take NO as an answer… especially from yourself. Where will you be in six months?

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Although the before photo was taken way before the 6 month example, I must tell you that THIS was not even close to how large I was in October/November of 2018. Also, in this “after” picture, it was the last meeting of the day and I was swimming in my size 8 suit and was wearing Monica’s flats because my feet were blistered up from the heels I was wearing all day and resulted in my pants bunching up and looking wider here. But the real difference is that I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW. 🙂 

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