Monday, October 25, 2010

1 Year at MTI

This past Friday was my 1 year anniversary of working at Medical Teams International.   Exactly one year ago I started as a temporary employee just 2 weeks before the big annual auction.  I was thrown into the craziness and didn't really know what was going on most of the time.  I stayed plenty busy and after a couple of months I was hired on as a full-time employee in the Development Department.

I am so blessed to have a job that I love!  My workplace is definitely unique - in a good way.  For example, one day last week a coworker came in after a rough morning.  She opened up to us about what was going on and we all stopped to pray for her.  Prayer is not an uncommon occurance at my office.  It's normal for us to open or close a meeting in prayer or stop during a stressful day and take time to pray together.  We have a chapel service every Tuesday morning where we sing and then hear words of encouragement from guests speakers or fellow staff members.  I know that's not typical in the workplace and I try not to take it for granted.

I also really enjoy my coworkers.  MTI has an amazing and talented staff and I'm so thankful to be a part of it.

me, Deb and Annie during auction week 2009

The 2010 Great Adventure Dinner and Auction is this Saturday.  This is a crazy week at work. Pray for a successful event -- and our sanity!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Texas Engagement

This past weekend I made a surprise trip to Waco - at least it a surprise to my good friend Hannah who got engaged on Saturday!  Her boyfriend, no wait fiance, Ross called me about 2 months ago and said he was planning to propose to Hannah on October 16th and would love for me to be there for the celebration.  Well of course I quickly booked my flight and started making plans to come to Texas without letting anyone but my family know.

Let me start this story from the beginning... On Memorial Day Weekend 2009, my friend Hannah came to visit me in Portland and Drew's friend Ross came to visit him as well.  So we all hung out together that weekend, even took a day trip to Seattle, and had a blast!  I didn't really notice anything between Hannah and Ross that weekend - I was just glad they got along.  Well, they went back to Texas and started dating!  They both came back up to Portland to visit again this past Memorial Day Weekend.  And now, a year a half after meeting in Portland, Ross and Hannah are engaged!!!

Hannah was extremely surprised... Ross told her that he was coming up to Portland last weekend to climb Mount Rainier with Drew but he really just hid out in Waco and showed up where she was in Austin on Saturday and proposed.  And to add to the surprise, Drew and I were there to celebrate with them.  Hannah and Ross are quite possibly the best couple I know.  Congratulations, Ross and Hannah!!!

I also got to spend lots of quality time with my family (while I was hiding out in Waco making sure I didn't run into Hannah and ruin her surprise).  Emily and the girls came in from Dallas on Friday and the whole family was together - a rare occurance.  I especially loved getting to play with Hannah.  We ran around and did cart wheels in the front yard, played the piano together and she watched me sew.  At dinner on Friday night, she put her hand on my shoulder, leaned over and said, "Aunt Mary, I miss you." Made my heart melt.

It was a whirlwind weekend, but totally worth the trip.  I got to see nearly all of my college friends, hang out with the fam, and even meet Merrill's precious little daughter, Parker!

Deep Friendships
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."
- Robert Southey

Monday, October 11, 2010

Portland Marathon

Yesterday I ran my first marathon... and I survived!!!  Ten weeks ago Alan and Drew came up with the genius idea of the three of us running the Portland marathon together.  So we all signed up together, began a crash training program and hit the ground running (literally).  "Running a marathon" used to be on my "bucket list", but I haven't even considered actually running one in years because I always figured it was just bad for your body to run that much.  But after running my first half marathon this summer and the Hood to Coast relay again in August, I figured that if I am ever going to actually run a full marathon now is the time.

So for the past couple of months, a good chunk of my weekends have been devoted to long training runs.  I have to say, there is no way I could have done the training for this race on my own.  Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed going for long runs since my two buddies were running beside me.  It gave Alan, Drew and I time to just talk and enjoy each other's company.  Plus these guys were extremely motivating and encouraging to me since this was my first marathon to train for (they have both run marathons before).  Marathoner Bill Rodgers said, "Your training partners are key to your success, and friendships based on your runs together are strong."  --- this is so true.  Thank you Drew and Alan for helping me succeed in this race and for being such strong friends!

The anticipation and anxiety building up to the race was intense and yesterday morning I was ready to just do it.  After a sleepless night (including nightmares of missing the race), my alarm went off at 5:30am and I awoke to a disguistingly rainy and dreary Sunday morning.  Fall in Portland -- what can you do?  I downed a Clif bar, threw on my running clothes and hat and headed downtown. Unfortunately, while the three of us were on a training run 3 weeks ago Alan sprained his ankle which ultimately prevented him from running the marathon yesterday.  We were all really bummed that he couldn't run it, but maybe (just maybe!) that will give us a good reason to run another race together in the future (the very distant future).  But even though Alan wasn't running the race with me and Drew, he was nice enough to give us a ride to the starting line and then he biked nearly the entire course and stopped every few miles to cheer us on and take pictures.  Seriously Alan, you really went above and beyond for us and I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support on race day.

So it rained (not drizzled, but rained) throughout the entire race yesterday.  That made for pretty miserable conditions.  The worst part was that my shoes were soaking wet and full of water making them much heavier than normal.  Around mile 10 I could feel that my body was already getting weak and instead of my original 4 hour goal, I decided all I wanted to do was finish this thing.  There is a big hill leading up to the St John's Bridge around mile 17 (right when you really want to die).  About half way up the hill I about lost it and decided I could only walk.  A random lady in blue ran up behind me and said, "Don't walk. You can make it. Keep going." I don't know who she was but actually several times throughout the race when I was struggling she came out of nowhere and told me to keep going.  Creepy yet really encouraging - thanks, lady in blue!  I made it up the hill with her encouragement and Drew pushing me (literally, Drew had a hand on my back and was actually pushing me).

Miles 17-23 were rough.  Several times I thought to myself, "This is the most miserable thing I have ever done in my life."  There were times when I wanted to cry, hit someone, puke, jump in the river, or just lay down on the side of the road (doesn't this make you want to go run a marathon?!).  But I had just hit a wall - a really big wall - and Drew was amazing in helping me get through it.  He stopped when I stopped, he slowed down when I needed to, he gave me food and water even when I didn't think I needed it, and he told me every few minutes that I was going a great job.  Drew, I would have never finished without you - seriously, I would have happily jumped in the back of someone's truck and taken the easy road home if you hadn't encouraged me the entire way!

There were so many other people that came out (in the rain!) and encouraged us throughout the race: Alan, our #1 fan of course; Drew's coworkers cheering at mile 11 and 25; Josh at mile 18 with a sign that said "Freight Train Carter" and a dry towel for me to wipe my face with; all 3 of my roommates yelling louder than anyone and giving much needed high fives at mile 20; the Dudleys at mile 24 giving us water and bananas for our final push to the finish line.  Drew and I finished strong with a time of 4:18:15.  One of the best signs I saw during the race said, "Pain is temporary, pride is forever."  My body was definitely hurting, but at the same time I felt so good.  Several people asked me yesterday if I wanted to run another marathon... ask me again in a few weeks and I just might say yes.

 early morning run in the rain

obviously early in the race - I'm still smiling

drenched to the core, but trying to push through the pain

smiling to keep from crying - getting so close to the finish

we did it!

the gang

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Piano in Portland

I took piano lessons throughout my entire childhood and teenage years (starting when I was 6 years old until I graduated high school at 18).  There were definitely times when I wanted to quite and escape the daily hour of practicing, weekend competitions and yearly recitals, but for the vast majority of the time I loved playing the piano (at least that's what I recall looking back on those years).  I have always lived in a house with a piano (for years we even had 2 pianos at the house - imagine the chaos of 2 little girls practicing piano at the same time) so I was always able to just walk downstairs, sit on the bench and play to my heart's desire.  I have really missed having easy access to a piano here in Portland.  There is an electric piano in the chapel at work (which I play every third Tuesday of the month at chapel service), but an electric piano just doesn't have the same feel or sound of a regular piano.

So for the past few weeks, I have been searching online for a free or inexpensive piano.  Alan and his roommates want to have a "music room" in there house and I was put in charge of finding the piano.  After hours of searching, I finally came across a posting that said "Upright Piano free for the taking. At the corner of 32nd and Hoyt, in front of the garage."  So I made that location the end goal of my run yesterday, and in the middle of a 13 mile run, I found the piano sitting in front of the garage and covered with a tarp.  I took a  quick break, played some scales on the keys to hear the tone, decided it was a pretty good deal (since it was free and all), and ran home to call Alan.  He and his 3 roommates and I piled into Scott's little truck, drove to the Laurelhurst neighborhood and picked up the piano.  It was quite a feat getting this piano into the back of the truck - we even had to recruit a random guy walking down the street to help.  But we (actually the boys - I tried to stay out of the way) got it in the truck bed, strapped it down and Scott drove the mile and a half extra slow and carefully while Alan and Chad pounded chords (or really just random notes) all the way home.  Just imagine you're walking down Burnside (the busiest street in the heart of Portland) and a little white truck with a huge oak piano passes by spreading piano music and laughter as it goes... it was quite hilarious.

The guys somehow managed to get the piano into their house without damaging their hardwood floors, their backs, or the instrument (well maybe a few scratches here or there).  I have to say it's not the best piano I've ever seen or heard: several ivory pieces of the keys have broken off and need to be glued back on, a few keys stick unless you pound them about 10 times, and once we got it to the house I realized that there are no pedals on the piano (we are currently using a screwdriver for a pedal until I find the right replacement pedals).  Oh well, it was free and it plays so we'll take it!

I brought a few of my favorite piano books up here with me and played through them for a good while last night.  Then I taught Alan the piano basics and he practiced in on of my old Christmas song books - he caught on pretty well and I wouldn't be suprised if he's practicing the piano right now.  I'm pretty excited to have easy access to a piano up here now - finally!

making a game plan for moving the piano

the previous piano owner, the random guy who stopped to help, and the boys lifting the piano into the truck

strapping it in for the ride home

thankful the piano didn't fall out - strategizing how to get the piano in the house

Scott taking a break to tickle the ivories with the piano half way out of the truck

it was tricky getting it through the door

the free piano - isn't she a beaut'?!

To Mrs. Lindsey
I truly believe the reason I love piano so much is because you were such a great teacher - seriously! You have been such a wonderful influence on my life ever since I was 6 years old and if I still lived in Waco I would want to start taking piano lessons from you again!  So many people say that they really regret quiting piano lessons when they were young.  Thank you for always encouraging me to continue playing and for teaching me all that I know!

2 ½ year old Mary learning to read music and play the piano young!