This House Thing Might Finally Happen

We signed the papers to buy our home this morning. Assuming all goes well, we should have the keys on Monday and move into our place sometime next week.

Finally, we can have a place of our own again. I haven't seen Marathon Girl this happy in weeks.

Crossing our fingers that all goes according to plan.

Goal: Overcome the Death of a Spouse and Find Love Again

Marathon Girl and I got a write-up in Utah Valley Magazine. The article (and others in the magazine) focuses on achieving goals. My section is about how I made goals to rebuild my life after the death of my late wife. Marathon Girl's section focus on running. If you don't want to read, I at least encourage you to check out the beautiful pictures of Marathon Girl (just ignore the ugly guy next to her). From the article:

Abel Keogh is as uncomfortable with change as the next 6-foot-3 guy. But after becoming a widower in 2001 when his pregnant wife took her life, Abel realized if he didn’t embrace change he also wouldn’t embrace happiness.

Over the next several weeks, Abel forced himself to go through a mental exercise of deciding where he wanted to be in five years. He made a list of 30 or 40 things he really wanted to do, and every day he lived his life as if enacting all of the changes he envisioned.

One if his primary goal was to marry again and have a family. Fifteen months after burying his wife, he married Julie—who he calls “Marathon Girl” on his blog. They quickly added five children, who are ages 7, 6, 5, 2, and 5 months.

***

Many in the widow/widower world get comfortable in their grief and self-pity. Abel knows there is a powerful stage in the next process.

“When I chose to change, I realized I had a chance to create a new life and do things I couldn’t have done before,” he says. “You have to figure out how to adjust or you can get smashed by it.”

On Nov. 10, 2011, Abel marked the 10th anniversary of his first’ wife’s death with a thoughtful and upbeat post about moving on. He had crossed everything off the list he had made previously.

“We can make the life we want to make,” he says. “We’re the ones who hold ourselves back.”

Abel held himself back by not initially forgiving his first wife for taking her life.

“Once I stopped being angry and blaming her, everything else fell into place,” he says. “For others, this might be losing their job or having their spouse walk out on them. Part of the healing process is moving on and getting past the victim mentality.”

Read the entire article or check out the awesome photos of Marathon Girl.

8 Years and Counting

Seven Years Together

Eight years ago, Marathon Girl and I took each other by the hand and become husband and wife. There is no one I’d rather have by my side through the ups and downs that is part of life. I’m looking forward to spending the rest of our lives and eternity together. I couldn't ask for a better companion.

Thanks for eight great years, sweetheart. Looking forward to the next eighty with you.

Random Thoughts

(With apologies in advance to Thomas Sowell.) For the first time in years I’ve had a hard time getting up in the mornings to run. I think it’s because school’s started and the boys don’t have time in the mornings to come with me on their bikes.

I will move to the Houston area one day. If Houston doesn’t work out, then I’ll move somewhere in Texas. Yes, even Austin. :-)

After watching the Detroit Tigers once again collapse after the All-Star Break, I wonder how much long-term damage I’m doing to my kids by letting them become Tiger fans.

I wish I was a good artist. Then I could write killer stories and turn them into awesome graphic novels.

I can’t get the song “Love Is All Around” out of my head. I blame Marathon Girl since I’ve done nothing but stay with her all day.

Forget writing groups, I want a brainstorming group. You know, one where I can share at least one half-dozen novels that are floating around in my head and get some feedback from readers and writers. Isn’t that one of the things that a writing group does, you ask? Yes. But a writing group requires a long-term commitment. I don’t have time for that right now.

Between Hulu, Netflix, and all the other network websites I find that I don’t miss TV at all. Not. One. Bit.

Johnny Damon hasn’t done much for the Tigers but I was glad to see him stay in Detroit. Maybe next time Red Sox fans will think twice before coming vitriolic toward players who leave their team.

The nice thing about discovering an author that you haven’t read before is that he or she has usually written several other novels that you can dive into. My new author discovery this summer? Harlan Coben.

I need more than six hours of sleep a night.

I’m glad football season is about to begin. I’m looking forward to taking the kids to some low-intensity college football games in the coming months.

Running: 10 Years and Counting

Running Ten years ago this month I made a decision that changed my life: I laced up a pair of old sneakers and went running.

It was the latest in a series of attempt to lose weight. After working as a cubicle jockey and enjoying a constant stream of free sodas and snacks from my employer, I was on the verge of being obese. I hated the way I looked and physically felt. I knew I needed to change my lifestyle or I was going to be miserable for the rest of my life.

At the time I never thought that running would be something I be doing one or even 10 years in the future. I just thought a little exercise would help me shed some weight and, once gone, I’d change my eating habits to keep the pounds from returning. But as I kept at it I discovered that running was something I really enjoyed. More than just exercise, I liked feeling the sun on my face and feeling the road under my feet. I enjoyed running farther, running faster. Every day was a challenge to see if I could improve and do a little bit better.

And yes, the weight came off. Six months later I was 50 pounds lighter. Looking back, however, it wasn’t’ just lacing up the shoes that day that made the difference. It was getting up every morning after that, no matter the weather or how I felt, and tying to run a little farther, a little faster. It was making that decision the second and third mornings and every morning since that helped me not only lose the weight but rebuild my life, fall in love with Marathon Girl, and bond with my kids.

So here’s to a decade of running—something that changed my life in ways I never even imagined when I first put on those worn out sneakers. And here’s to running every day for the rest of my life.

Family Runs II

Family Runs

Now that the weather’s finally warmed up, Marathon Girl and I have taking the kids on weekly family runs again. In the back of my mind I worry that the kids will tire of them but every week they still enjoy hopping on their bikes or climbing in the stroller for a three or four mile run with Mom and Dad. The oldest two enjoy them so much that they’ve now ride alongside me during my morning—so long as they’re awake and ready to go when I’m heading out the door.

Most mornings, just as I’m finishing my weight routine I hear them running down the stairs to see if I’ve left without them. When they see that I’m home, they let out excited cries of joy, put on their shoes, and head out to the garage to get their bikes.

It’s been a nice having the two boys on their bikes with me as I run. Having them with me helps me focus my thoughts on the family instead of work or other stress inducing subjects. It's been fun to watch their endurance increase with each passing day. A four mile bike rid is no longer a problem for them.

We don’t talk much during our runs but from the big smiles on their faces as we count off the miles, I can tell they’re having a good time riding their bikes in the cool morning air with dad.

I hope they can tell Dad enjoys them too.

Marathon Girl is Marathon Girl Again

Marathon Girl

Congratulations to Marathon Girl who completed her fastest marathon time in five years, finishing in a Boston Marathon qualifying time of approximately 3:28.13. I say approximately because that’s what her stopwatch read said when she crossed the finish line. Her official race time, however, isn’t posted on the official race result site for some reason.

We’re contacting them to see what happened. Hopefully we can figure out why her race time wasn’t posted along with everyone else. Marathon Girl wants to run Boston and even though she could run another marathon and quality without too much difficulty, she does want her race time to count in case she’s unable to run another marathon before Boston.

That aside, it was great to cheer Marathon Girl on as she crossed the finish line and to see the smile on her face after she realized how fast she was running again. She trained hard for this marathon and it was nice to see all of her hard work pay off.

Update: The went through the data and found Marathon Girl’s time. It’s officially 3:28:49.2 or about 7:58 per mile! Updated results here.

Dating and Marriage: One Regret

Dating and Marriage

A discussion over on the Dating a Widower Facebook group got me thinking about the time people spend between dating and marrying. The conventional wisdom seems to be to date as long as possible to make sure you really know the person.

Having gone through a long courtship (the late wife) and a fast one (Marathon Girl) I've learned that the amount of time you date isn't as important as knowing what you want in a future spouse and not wasting time with someone who isn't compatible and doesn't meet your standards.

Though the late wife and I knew each other for years, we didn't start dating until we were both in college. (I was a junior; she a freshman.) After a year of steady dating, I decided to serve an LDS mission to Bulgaria. Had I not done that, we probably would have spent another year dating before we got married. When I returned home, our relationship picked up where it left off. I could have asked her to marry be a few months after returning home.

But I didn't.

It took over a year before we finally tied the knot because I was worried about being able to finish school, pay the bills and still find time to get to know each other better. Even though we were both crazy about each other, I thought it would be easier if we could save more money and get as much schooling out of the way first.

Looking back, the only regret I have about the marriage to my late wife is that we didn't get married six months sooner. All my fears were unfounded. After we married, we both worked two jobs and attended school full time—albeit only for a semester. Somehow, despite our busy lives, we still managed to find time for each other and build on our relationship. If anything, going through the pressure that came with our hectic lives actually brought us closer together in ways that waiting another six month or a year never could have done.

After the late wife died, I stumbled back in to the dating waters. I met Marathon Girl. Our courtship lasted a total of nine months. If it wasn't for a handful of widower-related issues, the total time from dating to marriage might have been two or three months sooner.

After the second time around I learned that the amount of time we were going to date wasn't nearly as important as making sure we were compatible in ways that were important to each other. After a month of serious dating, I realized she was perfect for me.

• I was physically attracted to her • We enjoyed a lot of the same activities • We shared similar views about money and finances • We had the same religious, moral, and philosophical values • We shared similar views about family and parenthood • She had the emotional qualities that were a good compliment to my own

Once I realized Marathon Girl matched up in all the important ways, I knew I could spend this life and the next with her. Dating was fun but having been married before, I realized we could build up our relationship more as husband and wife. I asked her to marry me six months after we started dating. She accepted and we set a date 11 weeks down the road. (Yes, friends and family on both sides of our family worried we were taking things too fast or that I wasn't ready to move on but the mostly bit their tongues, respected our decision, and wished us luck.)

February 28th will mark seven wonderful years together. Waiting a few more months or even another year to tie the knot wouldn't have strengthened our relationship or made ourselves any surer that we were meant for each other. All it would have done is dragged out the inevitable.

Once you meet that special person that meets your criteria for a future spouse, it's not going to matter if you date them for 2-3 years or 2-3 months before getting married. If the person is right for you, you'll find a way to work together and enjoy the good times and the bad. We all have one life to live. The question, then, is how we choose to live it.

As to my whirlwind courtship with Marathon Girl, I have no regrets.

Marathon Girl: The Best Wife in the World

When I mentioned that my novel, The Third, had found a home with a publisher last week, I failed to publicly thank Marathon Girl. Without her support, the book never would have found its way from my imagination to paper. I feel extremely lucky to have such a wonderful wife. Marathon Girl understands that writing for me is like running for her and that we both need to do it. I know a lot of relationships where one or both spouses aren’t supportive of the other person’s goals and I’m grateful for a wife that does what she can to support me.

Between a fulltime job, four cute but very active kids, church responsibilities, spending quality alone time together, and everything else that comes with life, somehow we find time for her to train and run marathons and me to put out the occasional book. (I chalk it up to her superior organizational skills.) It’s not always easy and sometimes a stressful process but I want everyone to know that I’d probably still be stuck in a first draft somewhere if it wasn’t for giving me the hour or two I needed several nights a week to finish it.

And I’m looking forward to giving Marathon Girl the time and support she needs to run a marathon this summer. I can’t wait to see her cross the finish line with a smile on her face.

Family Runs

It’s no secret that Marathon Girl and I love running together. Some of our first and best dates were waking up at 5:00 a.m. and enjoy long runs together. Even after six years of marriage, we like the bonding experience that comes from spending 30-60 minutes running side by side. As our family’s grown, however, running as a couple has been more and more difficult. After the birth of our first child, we bought a running stroller and were still able to run together several times a week. But after second and third child arrived—and we bought a double-wide running stroller to compliment our single one—running together become something we’d do every week or 10 days together.

Then number four came in January and having the chance to run together came to a screeching halt. There were too many kids and not enough running stroller seats to make running as a family feasible.

It was hard not having time running together. It was time that Marathon Girl and I needed—even if it was only once a week.

Then two months ago our oldest learned to ride his bike without training wheels. While we were watching him zip up and down the sidewalk the idea came to Marathon Girl that maybe he could keep up with us as we ran. So the next day she took him on a test run/ride with found out that not only could he bike our four mile course without any difficulty, but he could ride faster than she could run.

So we started we started weekly family runs. We put the younger three in the running strollers and the oldest on his bike. It’s worked out so well that it’s something our three oldest kids really look forward to. (Number four is too young to express an opinion. He usually falls asleep a few minutes into it. I guess that means he likes it.) I get home from work and all three kids run into the garage and excitedly tell me that we’re all going for a family run then climb in the running strollers or get on their bike in anticipation.

I’m glad the kids like it and hope it’s something we can continue for years to come. It’s turned into nice family time and give Marathon Girl and me a chance to reconnect in a way that brought us together in the first place.

Love Happens: A Movie About Me And Marathon Girl???

Looks like lots of simliarities between the trailer for the movie Love Happens and my own life. Of course my book came after I met Marathon Girl and everything in the book actually happened. But MG is just as cute, if not cuter, than Jennifer Aniston. Even though it's a chick flick, I just might have to see this show with MG. :-)
LOVE HAPPENS: Movie Trailer - The funniest videos clips are here