Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Big Move to Wordpress

In These Shoes
I've been working on this move mentally for quite some time. It's the fingers to keys competing with fear of stepping off cliff which has held me back... until now.

We are just talking about a new blog here, aren't we? But, to me, it's more. Broader scope, greater commitment to quantity & quality, wider audience base-- eventually. In truth, it's a risk I'm taking and to me, it's huge.

So... without belaboring the point (really, to keep from stalling) my new site is:

Shari Dragovich~ In These Shoes

Actual URL:

I will not be posting to this site anymore. As of now, the content will remain and I will provide a link to teamdragovich on the new blog for readers to browse old posts.

In some ways, I resisted the move simply out of nostalgia and maybe a little loyalty; much like the childhood blankie still resting on my bed. Blogging on Team Dragovich has been healing balm during the two most difficult times I've face thus far in life-- deployment and adoption.

But, nothing has been lost. Only an adding to. Rejoice!

I'll see you soon... In These Shoes

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Runner Girl Rides Her Bike-- Part 2

I’ve taken quite a while on this “Part 2” post, haven’t I? Some of this is simply a hectic start to summertime, but more truthfully, my silence is more a lack of progress—at least visible progress.

The truth is, I’m slow to embrace this season of trying new things and being uncomfortable. Much like my slowness to embrace any of life’s major changes—even those deemed “good”.

I’ve had to finally admit I’m stuck and have been a little stuck for some time now. Stuck in my running, stuck in my reading, stuck in many of my relationships—especially the ones more difficult to nurture.  Different is uncomfortable. Hard, even. I don’t think I can handle hard. Apparently, God sees things differently.

The last two books I’ve read have made this truth uncomfortably clear. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk and writer says in his book Job and the Mystery of Suffering, that in order to truly experience life fully, we must be willing to embrace the dark with the light. The key isn’t always to try and squelch the dark, but rather to accept it being there, embracing it as part of the journey. And the journey—for those who choose it—is good, even when it hurts, for it is a path unto deeper fullness.

Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts, speaks early on the literal meaning of manna used by God to sustain the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert. It means, “What is it?”

That which cannot be defined, fully sustains.

Can I embrace the mystery? Can I let that which I do not understand sustain me? Am I willing to stay on the journey, open myself to receive the gift of the present—no matter what the present brings?  Can I stop asking, “When will I…” and start saying, “Yahweh, I thank thee for…”

Sunday, Superman and I went for a 30 mile bike ride. We rode fifteen miles to a neighboring town, had some Sunday fried chicken, mashed potatoes and peach cobbler (not the best bike riding lunch, but we are in North Carolina, after all). I loved it. Wind in my face, feet circling in rhythm with the wheels, husband beside me. We had fun.

Yesterday I ran along the NC coastline. I have been in Beaufort the last two days on a writing assignment—Blackbeard, the Queen Ann’s Revenge and a new exhibit at the NC Maritime Museum. I went alone. Children are with grandparents, Superman had to work. I went alone.

I breathed in salty air. I felt its stickiness on my skin. I watched wild ponies eat their breakfast on an island far off. I enjoyed the songs of birds not heard in the Piedmont. I slept in a beautiful19th-century built home. I witnessed an early morning rainbow—the largest most vivid one I’ve seen in quite some time.

It’s all together—the light and dark. Times of beauty in seasons of pain. Rohr says its fear which keeps one from living fully. Voskamp calls it ingratitude. I see both stealing my joy.

 I’m always looking for a destination. An “ah-ha!” for every moment—especially the hard ones. But maybe there’s no destination. After all, if I truly believe in “full life” as Jesus describes it, then I’ve already arrived—full life, eternity, happening now.

So, is there an answer to my question—why does everything have to be so hard right now? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe. But to speak it seems trite. Maybe instead, I’ll just live with the unknown. Accept the dark with the light. Stay on the journey.

And what about you? Are you living uncomfortably? Can you count one thousand gifts? Are you accepting light with dark? Staying on the journey? Accepting the gift of now?

I would love to hear from you!

Grace and Peace,

Friday, May 27, 2011

Runner Girl Rides Her Bike--Part 1

Everyone copes with anxiety differently. Some people eat more. Some drink more. Some shop more. Apparently, I run more.

This is the only honest way I can explain how I jumped from 35-40 running miles a week, to sometimes over sixty. In case you weren’t sure—that’s not a safe increase. Obviously—as I became the not-so-proud recipient of a strained Achilles tendon and stress fractured foot to prove it.

Truthfully, I didn’t set out to increase my mileage. It was unintentional—if you can believe adding 15-20 extra miles a week could pass under one’s radar. But, looking back, I can see how it happened. 

Christmas 2010 was still not the peaceful, joy-filled season I was hoping for. Better than 2009—our first year as an oreo family of seven—yet still personally unsettling. We trekked to Reno at the beginning of December--first time with five kiddos--where I ran a disappointing California marathon, and the rest of the trip I spent somewhat tight- chested, as it was yet another "first meeting", and for whatever reason, those first meetings always leave me tight-chested.

Then the usual holiday-rush and post-holiday daze, all of which left me slightly bewildered by the beginning of 2011. I guess this is where the extra mileage came to play. My solution for shaking the New Year blues was adding a three-mile run into my early-morning routine.

Adding a morning run isn’t a problem. Not backing off regular mileage is.

Here I was, doing this incredibly healthy thing for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t adding extra miles to just start my day off right. I was running to escape this uncomfortable season of life.

Just as high-speed police chases never seem to end well, neither did my own attempt at escape. All it did was leave me broken—unable to even go one mile for relief from the pressing in of my life.

I had made a decision to start doing triathlons before my last marathon. Now I was forced into the sport by virtue of injury. I begrudgingly began swimming at the gym, and mustered all the excitement of a child ordered to clean his messy room, when it came to buying me a bike and gear.

I tried to put on a happy face for riding—and even let a little joy slip out as I surged down hills and powered back up again. But, it was a fragile happiness, lasting only until my first unintentional contact with the ground.

“I hate this. It’s stupid. Why can’t I just run?” I muttered, as I crawled out from underneath my bike—quite unsuccessfully, I might add, since my feet were still clipped in.

Why can’t I just run, I prayed. Why do I have to be so uncomfortable? Why does everything have to be so hard right now?

Whine, whine, whine… right?   

Or maybe... it’s an honest question, coming from an honestly seeking heart, looking for a true and honest answer?

.... more to come. 

Thanks for allowing me to write my journey as I swim, bike, fall and even run a little through it.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hunger’s Strangling Hold

Today, our little princess had paper put in her ears. At least, that’s what I keep telling her. Hopefully, it was a bit more sophisticated that shoving paper down her ear canal. Whatever the ENT did exactly, I’m not sure. Something about sloughing off scar tissue around the holes in her eardrums then covering the holes with a paper patch. I was told the odds it will take are about 50/50. I’m going to keep a positive outlook (not always so easily accomplished) and assume God can work the odds in our favor a bit.

She did great, which was an exhale for me, as I’m scarred from past ENT visits with her. Limited English, a general fear of life—let alone doctors, prodding into the very places on her body which obviously were in great pain, over and over again, mix quite nicely to produce tantrums and general uncooperativeness from my little darling.

What caught me off guard was her obsession over not being able to eat breakfast. She hid her fears well at first, not mentioning her disdain over missing a meal. Eventually, however, her thoughts betrayed her—thanks to happy juice. As her mind loosened, so did her tongue.

“Daddy,” she asked Superman right before surgery, “how many days does it take before you starve to death?”

He shot me a look with one eyebrow raised and a weird smile on his face. Hmmm, I thought. Where did that come from?

After surgery when Little Sister was waking up, in between spells of crying and swooning, she asked,

“Will it take three weeks of no food before I starve to death?”

Again, Superman and I exchanged the weird eyebrow smile—only this time neither of us was smiling so much.

Fast-forward two hours at home, after she’s had an ice-cream treat and trail mix, she brings it up yet again. When I asked her if she felt like a little lunch, her first reply was, “No,” (which makes sense after just finishing trail mix). Three minutes later, she half-stumbles into the kitchen and says:

“Mommy, I do want to eat lunch. Because I don’t want to starve to deaf.”
Have you ever worried you would starve to death? Did you ever fear your children would starve to death?

Can you even fathom?

My heart sank into my stomach. After nearly two years of never missing a meal or a snack, healthier than she’s ever been in her whole six years of life, my daughter’s fear of hunger grips tightly—a constant choking hand, reminding her to be ever vigilant. Eat all you can, when you can. Your next meal is not guaranteed.

I am powerless to loosen hunger’s hold. I can teach her portion control, be a constant reassurance and provider of the next meal, but I can’t shake off the fear. It is her fear. Hers to loosen and overcome.

But then again, who am I to replace God’s redemptive work in my daughter’s life? The very cruel and hurtful thing which holds her in fear, may be where God meets her, frees her and heals her at just the right time.

Oh God, grant me the faith to continually believe in Your power over all fears.

Grace & Peace,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blogs-- the new daytime television?

I read an article in the New Yorker last night about Ree Drummond-- Pioneer Woman. I'm sure many of you are familiar with her. I mean, she has some 200 billion-trillion followers on her blog-- well, maybe not quite that many. I think the exact number is somewhere around 23 million page viewers a month.
Ree blogs about her daily life as a cattle rancher's wife. She's written a book, From High Heels to Tractor Wheels--A Love Story; and cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. She's been on every major morning show, cooking, sharing about her idyllic life on their thousands of acres of ranch land, homeschooling her four kids, perpetually in love with her cowboy husband, Marlboro Man.

Ree's blog started as a way to stay connected with family and other adults, as life on the ranch is anything but socially engaging. She captures her days on her super-fancy Nikon, downloads the pictures, makes them look story-like, then lets the pictures inspire her content.

Why am I going through all this about some homeschooling, ranching, perpetually in love with her husband, incredibly talented and intuitive, ridiculously prosperous woman? I'm not sure, other than her blog intrigues me-- causes me to ponder a bit. It's fun, but I don't visit it every day. In fact, I've been to her blog once. I don't pine away all day, wondering what Pioneer Woman will share next.

But lots of woman do... over 23 million a month.

It dawned on me that Ree Drummond's blog is the holy-grail of reality TV via internet. It's almost like daytime television... in fact, one might call blogs like Pioneer Woman the new daytime television. Soap operas are dying to women living vicariously through someone else's ranch world romance.

I am sounding a bit critical here, and I don't mean to. I admire Ree Drummond. I'm incredibly jealous. Stupid jealous in some ways. Here is a woman, stuck in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, who starts a blog and is now world-famous. She found her niche, simply doing what she inherently loves to do. In many ways, I'm inspired.

But, I guess what disturbs me, is how easily we (the proverbial "we") become sucked into others' lives--forsaking our own very unique lives individually designed and purposefully prepared in advance. I guess not everyone believes this to be the case, but I do-- or at least I say I do. Most days are a struggle to really live it.

Also disturbing are Pioneer Woman's critics-- those who spend hours making fun of her through counter blogs and twitter feeds. They read her posts then mock her; mimicking her voice and quirky phraseology; making fun of her daily monologue and criticize her out of their own insecurities. What wasted time and energy; self-destructive and soul rotting.

You know... I want to expand my blogging. It started as a way to connect with others who were adopting, too. Now it's just about our life and often I struggle to find content. That's seems weird-- woman with 5 kids, military wife, homeschooler, adopting older children, runner, reader, writer--however green this last one may be.

It isn't just content-- it's finding content worth sharing & the amount of time it takes me to write a single post. In the New Yorker article, Ree says she can blog with kids hanging off her earlobes (or something like that). Not me! I'm a slow writer, and if I spent the time editing each blog the way I do my articles for Elite, you'd never hear from me.

So... I'm curious. What does bloggy world do for you? Who do you read and why? What makes you follow a blog? How much time do you spend blogging-- writing your own blog and reading others' blogs. What do you think of the whole blog & internet culture?

These are somewhat random thoughts, but I wanted to share and hear your voice, too.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting Dirty

Finally. The grass is shooting through the bed of straw which has graced our yard for two weeks now. For the past three months our yard has looked like a disaster. The process of landscaping-- at least our landscaping--is so dirty, messy, wrought with pitfalls, back-tracking, little mistakes... big mistakes and slow, slow progress.

My life has felt a little like my yard lately. Messy, mistake-ridden and just down right dirty.

I over-trained for my last marathon and stress-fractured my foot during the race. Then, I was too prideful to quit, running over 16 miles on a fractured foot. I've had people say how amazing it was that I finished. What they don't realize it was no noble cause which kept me going... it was fear of humiliation.

Then there's this adjusting to a daughter thing. I'm embarrassed to say how many days I've been reduced to cursing once everyone is in bed and Superman and I are safely out of ear-shot...
               "I'm telling you, all it seems all I hear is b!&#%ing and moaning!"

I'm guessing this is because I've never tape recorded myself and had it played back on me.

I know I've mentioned this before, but here I am again, wondering... is this her personality? Is this her "girl-ness"? Is this her adjusting to adoption?

I remember the first year I attended a homeschool conference. I went to all the boy-specific workshops-- how to teach 'em, how to discipline 'em, how to put up with their farting and grossness...

This year, I'll be attending all the girl-specific sessions. Especially the ones on how to handle  b!&#%ing and moaning. :-)

Thankfully, my yard is almost done. At least the overhaul. Now what's left is to help it grow, keep planting and nurturing the gardens, keep getting dirt under my nails and into my shoes. After all, it's the only way my flowers will continually burst with color, the birds and butterflies will dance and serenade us and my vegetables will produce abundantly.

Guess it'll be the same with my life. Keep getting dirty.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

If only I looked this good when stressed.
Or, maybe not.
I'm bummed it's been so long since my last post.

And just when I was starting to really hit a blogging grove. Ugh.

Here are my top 10 excuses ('cause you really want to know-- I can tell):

1. I was in St. Louis and Kansas City the first week of April running the St. Louis Marathon and spending some wonderful time with my siblings. Alone.

2. I stress-fractured my foot while running the St. Louis Marathon and have been learning to embrace my space boot these last 3 ½ weeks.

3. We’ve been elbow deep in an entire landscaping makeover since February. It reached critical mass, the end of April.

4. I took a 6-week, on-line writing class to refine my writing skills and force me into deadlines. It worked.

5. I’ve also been working on a couple travel articles for a regional magazine. Deadline was end of April, beginning of May.

6. School, school, school—and June is staring me in the face.

7. I have a daughter now. Who knew??

8. Reading for my book clubs (kids and ladies) has been taking over normal blogging time--not sure why now, all the sudden.

9. Our family tripped down to Atlanta last weekend to watch the Braves v. Cardinals game.  Though still slightly cranky with St. Louis for “breaking” my foot, I managed to cheer for our home team (yes, I refuse to take responsibility)
**Note: The trip to “Hotlanta” was because of MY writing gig— an article about baseball 3 ways (Fayetteville, Durham, Atlanta). This is the first time in Team Dragovich history in which the work related trip was mine, not Superman’s. Yes, I am incredibly proud of this and do not mind bragging. 

10. Have I mentioned I have a daughter?

Well... so it goes. 

For the record; I don't begrudge the woman in the picture. I just think she may be as detached as another cake woman I've heard of-- "Let them eat cake!" 

Grace and Peace,