Why the holidays can be really hard and what I did to help + our Sunday!

Sunday selfie before church.

The kids made up all sorts of random games.

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The oven was full of pies/crusts/etc. so Andrew made sure we still got in our Sunday tradition by making sweet potato fries on the grill.

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My afternoon was very involved with making pies.

Banana cream pie 4 life.

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Banana Cream Pie and Salted Caramel Apple Pie.  I am thankful for pies.  The only change I made in the two recipes was in the salted caramel apple pie… I couldn’t find the Peters Caramel that it calls for so I just melted the Kraft caramels with a little bit of whole milk for the caramel.   I really like making pies.

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We made our way over to my sister’s house for our Thanksgiving dinner.  My sister doesn’t have three of her kids for Thanksgiving and we will be gone so the best decision was to celebrate together yesterday.

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I love when people make Thanksgiving sandwiches.

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We had a lot of great discussions over dinner that included looking up a lot of different questions on google.

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Then we got to business with the desserts.  Okay, both pies are insanely good but I think the salted caramel won… please make it if you are in charge of making a pie for Thanksgiving.

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I love it too.  I am not sure if Brooke was entertained with Knox’s trick;)

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We then just hung out for awhile before coming home.

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Andrew’s new phone cover made me happy:

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Excited for some good runs this week (along with a 1/2 marathon on Thursday).  Brooke put on my Garmin and told me she was me:)

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Feel free to skip through this section today if it doesn’t apply to you but I really wanted to share my experience with anyone reading who is struggling.

The holidays are here and while, now, I am in a much better situation than ever before, my heart still aches thinking about how hard the holidays can be.  It is an amazing time of year for a lot of people but it is also a time of year that is incredibly lonely and isolating for others.  For most of my life the holidays have produced some of my favorite memories but there have been years where I felt like I hit rock bottom during the holidays.  I just want to let other people know that they aren’t alone if this time of year is hard.  I feel like the holidays hurt more than other times of the year if we are already feeling lonely, or missing people or struggling with a change in life.

I remember the holidays three years ago were probably one of my lowest times ever.   I felt so alone.  While I had the best little one year old at the time and an incredible family, I felt more alone than I ever had in my life (this was just a few months after filing for divorce).

It was Christmas Eve and my plans that evening fell through (it was a long story) and Brooke fell asleep.  I remember sitting there by myself on the floor of the basement and I just couldn’t stop thinking about how I was the ONLY one on the planet that was alone that evening.  That everyone else had somebody/people to celebrate with and I was sitting there completely alone.  I remember feeling like my chest completely caved in on me and my crying was so intense that I could barely breathe.  It hurt.  Of course my mom and dad were there quickly to help me out but even thinking back to that night makes me tear up.  I’m typing this at 4:23 on a Saturday afternoon with tears in my eyes feeling very grateful for how much better life is now but hurting thinking about the people that are feeling that way right now.   You aren’t alone if the holidays are hard for you… especially because sometimes social media tricks us into thinking this time of year is perfect for everyone else.

While I think that time (isn’t it amazing what days, weeks, months and years do for us when something hard happens) is one of my favorite healing factors, there were a few things that I did in the NOW to help me during the hard times (these worked for me, do whatever works best for you)!

*Running of course.  Being active.  Movement.  Running brings me gratitude, fresh air, fresh thoughts and a brighter perspective on life.  While many times it would have been easier for me to just stay in bed all day long (which, I did do at times)… getting out made the world of difference for me.

*Prayer.  I have said this before but on those days that getting out of bed was too hard, kneeling first in prayer made it a lot easier to stand.  Building a relationship with your higher being (whatever you believe in) and expressing true emotions/feelings/thoughts through prayer made me feel a lot less alone.  It built a foundation and relationship with my God for me that helped during those really dark times.

*Service.  Taking time to process and deal with my thoughts and emotions was incredibly important but getting outside of myself also helped me a lot.  Focusing on somebody else’s problems and helping them always helps me to forget my own.   A lot of times that meant probably over focusing on Brooke and doing things for her but we would also try to deliver things to people, do the angel tree, the food kitchen with my dad etc.

*Traditions.  Even though my circumstances at the time were not what I wanted, I decided that I was going to create traditions with Brooke and make the absolute best of the situation.  I am so glad I did because we now have traditions that we will do forever.

*Hope.  Having the belief that things will get better, that it is always darkest before the dawn (I can confirm this to be true) and that just sticking to the things we know are right for us… will result eventually in improved circumstances.  Three years ago my heart hurt so incredibly bad with loneliness and I am positive this year will be my favorite holiday season ever.

Email me if you need any help, if things are hard for you this holiday season.  Please know that you are not alone.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all did a little something extra for someone who is experiencing hard times in their life right now?!

Whether we are struggling with the death of a loved one, cancer, divorce, severe financial problems or some other serious problem, we all need help sometimes.  What helped you through your rough times?

Has running been one of the main things that has gotten you through tough times?

Who has a Turkey Trot this week?  What is the distance?

What pie is your absolute favorite?  Any pies that you do not like?  Anyone that doesn’t like pie in general?

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139 comments

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I was a single a parent for quite a few years when my son was little and then I met my wonderful husband but there were many holidays that I had to spend alone because my family lives in another state many miles away. Running and my running family were my glue literally. They held me together during the toughest times and I return the favor whenever I can and I am so glad to see that you are doing the same. :)

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Hugs to you!!! You are amazing and I am so happy that you met your husband and those lonely times are behind you. Isn’t it amazing what running does for us? xoxox

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Last year I was going through a tough situation with my job. I quit in November and was struggling with anxiety and depression throughout the holidays. One thing that got me through was leaning on the positive traditions of the season. I decorated my apartment. I planned gifts for my friends and family. I watched sappy movies that helped me escape. And I relied on my family to help me through a season where I was required to put on a happy face. My parents in particular really supported me through that time, and I’m glad that this year I will be able to celebrate in a much better place. I will also say I started to see a counselor, which helped tremendously. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. I saw my counselor weekly during my hardest times, and those hours were so helpful.

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Oh Elise, that is so incredibly tough. I love what you did to get through it… thank you so much for sharing. I am so glad you had such an amazing support system and that this year will be so much better. I agree, my counselor helped me out so much!

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Thank you for being vulnerable enough to share and authentic. I know it will help many! Running a 5k Turkey Trot Thursday. I love pie and this time of year it is all about Pumpkin but my favorite of all time is Buttermilk Pie!

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Thank you Tabaitha! I hope you have a blast on Thursday and I need to try Buttermilk Pie!

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Thank you for sharing this. The holidays are going to be more of a struggle for me this year than they ever have been, so I’m trying to focus on positive things right now. It’s definitely tough, though. Running helps because it allows you that escape, even if it’s only for a little bit. I’m really happy for you that you are in a much better place now.

I have an 8-mile Turkey Trot this Thursday. My training has felt really good lately, so hopefully it will go well!

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I pray that whatever you’re dealing with will pass and things will look up for you!

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Thank you, Marie. I really appreciate that.

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Praying for you during this difficult time!! Have a great Turkey Trot run!

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Thank you, Tina!

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Natalie, I am so sorry that the holidays will be tough this year for you. Keep up the amazing running and enjoy the Turkey Trot.

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I am sorry that you had such a sad experience on Christmas Eve. Whenever I am going through something rough I always tell myself “if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Sometimes inspirational quotes like that annoy me, but that one always seems to make me feel better because it’s always been true for me (like you, I am lucky to have a great support system in my life). Running definitely helps me to work through stressful situations because I can focus on a solution. But sometimes when I’m more sad than stressed it’s better for me to distract myself with a good movie/tv show/couch time before I start thinking about a solution.

Happy early Thanksgiving!

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Thank you Kristina and I LOVE what you tell yourself. That is so so true. Thank you Kristina and I hope your holiday season is beautiful!

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LOVE this! So helpful and so true- what helps me is prayer, running, family, entrenching myself in a cause, and the knowledge that the hard things I go through aren’t for nothing- that when I make it to the other side, I can help others/help myself through tough times in the future.
I have a half this week too, but mine is on Saturday…kinda worried about it, my fitness is super questionable right now ouch!
Good luck to you and also, those pies>>>>

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Hey Kaytlin!! Thank you for sharing what helps you… I completely agree! GOOD LUCK ON SATURDAY!!!! You’ve got this:)

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Thanks!

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This was what I needed thank you so much for writing this.

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Thank you Andrea! I hope you are doing okay!!!

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I prefer cake over pie but a good apple crumb pie is always delicious!

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Both absolutely delicious:)

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It’s so true that sometimes the best thing you can do is “pretend”… get outside, go for a run, meet up w a friend, volunteer.. do things you would NORMALLY do if you weren’t feeling lonely or anxious or whatever – it really does help!! My negative emotion is anxiousness and I’ve found it’s impossible to feel anxious when I’m feeling grateful.. so I also try really hard to focus on gratefulness.

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YES YES YES! I think you are so right about anxiousness and gratitude. Thanks for sharing Ashlee, you are incredible!

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So kind of you to share your perspective on the holidays. I have been through some tough times too. In 1999 my 29 year old husband died from cancer. I basically ordered Chinese food take out and drove around in my car alone on Christmas Eve looking at holiday lights and feeling so lonely but stubborn too. I didn’t want to join anyone else’s family for their celebrations. then I met my friend sue. Her husband died too and we became each other’s support. She invited me to her sisters big Italian Christmas dinner and I went every year for 15 years. Until her sister moved to florida. Last year I spent it with just sue and this year she is now 10 hours away so my tradition has ended. It helped me so much to have that to rely on. I’ll be with my boyfriend and his girls this year but while I love them all I still feel like I’m not really a part of it all yet. I swear I think sometimes I have ptsd. I’m ready to start new traditions with him and his family as we move into our third year of dating but boy is it scary. Lol. Running and doing something service oriented always helps.

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Sending good thoughts and prayers your way! Hopefully this is the best year yet!

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Thank you!

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Sally, you are so incredibly amazing. Thank you for sharing what you did to get through losing your husband. You are so strong. I am so glad that you met Sue and that you could support one another so well. I LOVE that you went to that dinner every year for 15 years. I am sorry that the tradition with Sue has ended. I am happy that you will be with your boyfriend and his girls but I am sure that ptsd must be so hard at this time. You are in my thoughts and prayers. You can do (and have done many many times over the years) hard things!

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Thanks Janae! Yes….that expression isn’t just for marathons. We can do hard things.

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Janae, thank you so much for sharing that note. It’s exactly what I needed to hear this week. I don’t have many good memories of the holidays to hold on to and for some reason i’m struggling this year way more than others to get past it. Maybe I’ll just in and plank until it hurts less?

Related: I would LOVE it if you can talk more about how you and Andrew are approaching the holidays as a blended family. I am a soon to be step mom to two young girls and am way in over my head! I feel like I get swept away in their dad’s family’s plans and traditions and am having some trouble knowing where I fit and finding things that are unique to our new four-person family. You guys seem to have a really good handle on that :)

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Sending thoughts and prayers your way. Hopefully this is the year you can build those great memories!

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Juana, I am so so sorry for your struggle right now. I hope that you feel peace through this time and happiness.

I will definitely have to talk more about the holidays and blending a family (we will do a vlog about it because I have so much to say). It is hard to blend families at times but so incredibly worth it and you will do an amazing job!

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Thank you so much for this post!

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Thank you Jamie and I hope you have a wonderful week!

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I’m just like you- praying and running help me through everything. Plus, having a dog at home who is always happy and makes me feel better helps a lot too. Sometimes I just have to give her a big hug and cry onto her back!

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Isn’t it amazing what dogs do for us? They are always there for us and I am so happy that your dog, running and praying helped you through the rough spots!

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This will be my first holiday without my dad. I love the holidays and tradition, but these feelings of sorrow are definitely new to me.

I love your tips and couldn’t agree more. I sobbed when I saw my Mama at my race last weekend because I knew that if my dad could have been there, he would have. While he didn’t quite know how to express himself, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was proud of me and he loved to talk running.

I am doing a pie run with my hubs and kiddos with our local track club. We meet at 6am on Thanksgiving, run, and then eat pie. It’s the best!

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No amount of words can bring you comfort, but I pray that you have peace. Much love to you!

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So sorry for you loss. Praying for comfort during this very difficult time.

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*your

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Marissa, I am so beyond sorry for your loss and what you have been through. I am sure he was so incredibly proud of you and I hope that you will feel peace and comfort throughout this holiday season. xoxox

Enjoy your pie run on Thursday, that sounds amazing!

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Stumbling upon your blog 1.5 years ago has given me such hope and positivity in my life. Funny we can bond with complete strangers when we know what it is like to feel similar loneliness and heartbreak. Reading your blog every day has given me encouragement beyond words to push through the tough days of my break up with the person I thought was my forever love. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your thoughts and encouragement on such a difficult subject. Love from PA!

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Katelyn, thank you for sharing and I am thankful for these bonds we form over the internet. I hope that your pain is lessening and that things will improve. You can do this. The right one is worth the wait.

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Very important post, Janae. I’m separated and spending this Thanksgiving without my kids or family. Thanksgiving morning, I’m doing a group hike with a local hiking group and then spending the afternoon solo feeling grateful for what is good in my life. Sending light and love to all those feeling alone over the holidays. Focus on the positive, spend time with people (or not) if that lifts you up and treat yourself with little things to make the day memorable. Holidays can be difficult and it’s important to recognize that and find the strength to move through it.

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Oh Elizabeth, I am so beyond sorry for what you are going through right now. I am so glad that you are getting out to hike with a group too and focusing on the positive. You are amazing.

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This post really makes my heart ache for those hurting during the holidays. Saying an extra prayer for everyone.

I love most all pies and my mom is such a talented pie baker! Favorites include peach, blueberry, lemon meringue, and german chocolate. Really the only kind of pie I don’t like is pumpkin! Weird, I know!

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I’m saying those extra prayers too!
Oh I want to learn how to make pies from your mom… I would love to make lemon meringue and german chocolate. Sounds amazing!

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I was a single mom for many many years thinking that I would always be single among tons of married friends who had everything together and everything was perfect. I don’t know why we think like that? Everything is rarely perfect in people’s lives and comparing the fantasy of them with our insides doesn’t help us. But, sometimes we have to grieve and it is those lower times that make us appreciate the better times. Grieving helps but then get out of it and do something for yourself. It is like when you are on the airplane and they tell you to give oxygen to yourself first then your child. You will be a better/happier mother/father for it.

What Garmin watch do you have? I might have to Google your post. I want to get one for my triathlete husband and can’t decide. His watch is going or has gone. I don’t know about the Apple iWatch or Garmin or Polar? Anyone please feel free to comment, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming. :)

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Mary, thank you so so much for sharing your story. I was very sure I was going to be a single mom forever too. I completely agree with you about what you said about the airplane oxygen masks and grief/getting out. Exactly.

I have the Garmin 225 and I wrote a little bit about what I love about it here: http://hungryrunnergirl.com/2015/11/why-i-switched-garmins-my-sisters-running-and-i-should-not-be-allowed-to.html

I don’t know a lot about the different watches as far as triathlons go but I love mine for running. I have used Garmin for over 10 years now and I will for the rest of my running years too:) I love them. Now I am interested to hear what you get… let me know!

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Thank you for sharing, and for your honesty and huge heart. It is a help to so many :)

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Thank you Sarah! I hope you have a beautiful week!

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You are so kind to share that; just one of the many reasons I love and follow your blog! I pray that you, Andrew and the kids have the best year yet!

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Oh thank you so much Marie. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season. Thank you so so much for reading!

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Time is definitely a great healer. We lost my brother in 1994 (he was only 31.) That Christmas I was at the mall and heard “Jingle Bell Rock.” It reminded me of him so much and I just started crying at the mall. Those painful memories aren’t so strong anymore even though he is still missed. I am extremely blessed to have an amazing husband who has been by my side through all of life’s ups and downs for 25 years now.

No Turkey Trot this year, we’re going for a bike ride. We were hoping to get to Yosemite on Friday but looks like we might be snowed out. We’ll find something to do so we can #OptOutside (https://www.rei.com/opt-outside) on Black Friday!

My grandmother made the BEST cobbler which I prefer over pie because double the crust!

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OH Kathy, your story gave me the chills. I cannot even imagine. That must have hurt so badly and I am so glad that you have had your husband by your side through it all.

Have an amazing time to on Thursday on your bike ride and enjoy your day on Friday… we want to opt outside too!

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I can totally relate to the holidays being tough. Three years ago my dad had surgery on Christmas Eve. While we were able to spend lots of time at the hospital with him, it was still tough being at the house without him – it felt so empty.

I’m glad the holidays are good things for you again.

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Oh Fiona, that must have been incredibly hard. Thank you and I hope you have a beautiful holiday season with your people. xoxox

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I loved this post so much. I really hope you and your family have the happiest holidays :)

Running during tough times made me fall in love for running. It helped me found myself again in a stage of my life where I was completely lost.

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Thank you Nathaly, I hope you have an amazing holiday season too! I am so glad running has helped you so much… I get that!

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Love this! My fiance and I are doing the 5k that benefits the utah food bank on thanksgiving :)

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Oh that is awesome Sammy! Have so much fun, what a neat race!!

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I’m so so glad you have such a happier holiday season to look forward to this year!!

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Thank you Erin! I hope you have a fabulous week!!!

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The holidays can be one of the most joyful or one of the most stressful. It sounds like yours is off to an amazing start this year!

And I love pecan pie and pumpkin pie!

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YES YES YES, it totally can. Thank you Loribeth and I hope you get some pecan and pumpkin pie this week!

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I want to thank you so very much for what you wrote in this post today. While I do have a loving family there are some other things that are greatly missing from my life at this moment that make the holiday season really challenging. While seeing my family is amazing I also see what I don’t have at times which can be really challenging. I even had to take a facebook break because everyone was posting the “thankful for us” add-on to their facebook pictures and while I am a 100% happy for them, I am also feeling 100% sad for myself that I am missing something. I hope that changes soon but its nice to hear from someone that they understand without judgement. It can be a daily struggle. Thank you again for recognizing that its okay to be sad at some points. I am doing my best to enjoy every moment I can and look forward to my favorite tradition of a Turkey Trot on Thursday morning!

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Emily, I think that was a great idea to take a Facebook break… I did that once too because while yes I was so happy for everyone, it just felt like a constant reminder that I didn’t have the family I wanted so desperately. I totally understand what you said about it being a daily struggle too. You are doing amazing and if you ever need an email pen pal… I am here. I hope that you feel peace and comfort during the holidays this year.

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This year for me has been beautiful, but so many changes (moving and having a baby!) I’ve been dealing with a little hormonal stress stuff and man, running and exercise help so much. Other things that help are prayer and the support from my husband and family! Thanks for being vulnerable!
As for pie, I pretty much love any kind! Can’t go wrong with an apple pie though :)

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Oh hormonal stuff is ROUGH!! I am so glad that running, prayer and your family have helped so much! Enjoy some apple pie on Thursday!

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve had some tough and lonely holidays in the past. I was stuck in Virginia (I’m from Texas) one year for the holidays while in basic training for the army. Then I spent two other holiday seasons in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recently I went though a very abrupt and messy breakup and this is why I started running. I’ve been running now for about 6 months and I’m more happy than I’ve been in a long time. It’s amazing what you find in yourself through running. This Wednesday I’m running a 5K turkey trot with my family. The only pie I really like is pumpkin pie. I don’t really like sweets a whole lot.

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Oh Diana, I bet that was incredibly hard. I seriously cannot imagine the different holidays you’ve experienced and the feelings you’ve felt. I am happy that running has helped you so much over the last 6 months… what you said about finding yourself through running was perfect. Have a blast at the 5k with your family! Thank you for serving us in the army.

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A few years ago, I was in a tough, dark place and felt like my life was a huge disappointment. I remember going into the bathroom at work almost everyday just to cry. What helped me get through it was working really hard to focus on the positives. I started making two lists of 10. The first list was 10 things that made me happy right then, no matter how big or small. The second list was 10 things I was grateful for. I did this weekly. At first it would be hard to think of only three things, but now I can make these lists in a matter of minutes, and go well past 10. Sometimes you have to force yourself to see the light.

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Oh Libbie, I am so sorry about what you experienced a few years ago but what you said about the two lists of 10 was perfect. I will be using your idea in the good times of life and hard times of life. Thank you for sharing what helped you!

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I have had some difficult holidays away from my family as well. It just shows how important that community is.

I am checking out that salted caramel pie now!

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xoxoxo Jessica!!!! I hope this holiday season is amazing for you! Try out the pie:)

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This post speaks to me on so many levels. I have been in a similar situation, feeling alone and crying on the floor of my apartment. It was definitely my family that helped me through that time. Running helped a lot, and sometimes I would even get out to just run and cry. I’m sure people were freaked out to see a girl running down the street crying! Thankfully I’m in a completely different situation now and am looking forward to getting married to the love of my life!

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Mila, yep. We get each other. I am so happy that you are in such a better place now and YAY for your upcoming wedding!!!

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This holiday season is very different for me. I lost a pregnancy at 17 weeks about a month ago. The baby had Trisomy 18. While I’m blessed with my 2.5 year old girl, I struggle with the fact that this holiday season there was suppose to be another one with us (in my belly). It’s extremely hard to be thankful and to find joy right now but I will try. Running has helped a ton even though I can only run 20 minutes right now (coming back from injury). Walking and swimming has been beneficial as well. Other than that, I’ve been treating myself like gold (which seems selfish) but making myself a priority for once has been extremely helpful.

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Jenn, I’m so sorry for your loss! I’ve lost babies at 18 and 15 weeks so I know the pain and loss you are feeling. Nothing can make it better but time will help to heal. Take care of yourself and like gold which is NOT selfish! I’ll be thinking of you!

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Thank you Kelley and I’m very sorry for your losses as well! xoxo

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I’m so sorry for your loss Jenn. I also lost my pregnancy a few weeks ago (I actually opened up about it on my blog this morning) and I know how hard it is to feel anything but sadness right now. I don’t really have anything else to say, other than I’m sorry and you’re definitely not alone.

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I just read your post – I’m so sorry. I was in your shoes for my 1st pregnancy and it was absolutely devastating. I will be thinking of you as well and just know it does get better with time! xoxo

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Jenn. I have a pit in my stomach thinking about what you are feeling at this time. I am so beyond sorry for your loss. Please keep spoiling yourself and resting. Please keep me updated with how you are doing. I’ll be thinking about you a lot. Good luck on your return to running.

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Thank you so much for addressing how tough the holidays can be. I stumbled upon this quote last night as I was grieving the end of my marriage and hope it can encourage someone else as much as it did me:

“Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” -John Piper

Even though I know the holidays will be rough, I’m trying to embrace the life I have now and that includes a wonderful, supportive family and running to keep me sane!

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Seriously, one of my favorite quotes ever. A reader sent that to me after my divorce and it was exactly what I needed… it is so important to both grieve and move forward with hope and trust in God. Thank you for reminding me of this quote. I really hope that you feel peace and comfort over the holidays this year and get in plenty of great runs!

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Thank you! It is so comforting to know God has a plan and also, that I am not alone. So many more people have gone through this than I ever imagined. Your blog gives me encouragement and hope so thank you!

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Thanks for this Janae! I really need to hear this! The past few years have been very hard at holidays and I was hoping this year would be different. Everyday I just try to remind myself how lucky I am and how much I have to be grateful for. I’m so glad that you are in such a wonderful place now…..a great reminder that things can change for the better quickly!

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Kelley, thank you for sharing and opening up. You are so right, gratitude changes us so much and reading what everyone is battling makes me realize that we are all in this together and we can all get through it together. Prayers for you Kelley and I’ll be thinking about you!

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This made me tear up. I recently went through a miscarriage and I’m not looking forward to the holidays at all. We were planning on telling everyone (extended family and making the announcement) about the baby on Thanksgiving and thinking about it makes me want to spend the whole day alone in bed. A day that should have been so joyful is now making me wonder how I’ll get through it.

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Oh Kaci I’m so sorry you have to go through this! Nothing I can say to make it better but know that I will be thinking of you. One day at a time!

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Kaci, oh my goodness. I am so beyond sorry about what you are going through. This absolutely breaks my heart. Do whatever you need to do to get through this time… spoil yourself, sleep, cry, relax. I’ll be thinking about you and you and your husband are in my prayers. I am so sorry.

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Love this post. I know it speaks to a lot of people. While we strive to be positive and grateful, it’s ok to acknowledge something as permeating and prevalent as loneliness. When I’m alone, I fill my time with activities I can’t do with other people around. A fun book is also a great escape!

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Yes yes yes. I LOVE that too… I feel like I read way more books when I was really hurting because I loved getting swept up into somebody else’s story/life/characters!

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Thanks for sharing Janae. I can relate. Some holidays are hard when my husband has to work or is deployed. I always appreciate your openness and honesty. I’m glad you are happy now.

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Sure love you Hollie… that must be incredibly hard. You are incredible. If you ever need to chat on those hard holiday times… I’m here!

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Thank you for this post. I’m going through a divorce and the holidays seem cruel right now. But this put it in some perspective for me. Thank you for sharing your life with the internet.

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Oh Sam, my heart breaks for you right now because I know that pain way too well. It seriously is so hard, I even remember last Thanksgiving I had the toughest time because Brooke was gone with her dad and I don’t think I got out of bed until 11 a.m. It took time that is for sure (and I am SOOOOOO GRATEFUL for it all happening so that I could have Andrew now) but the holidays just hurt so badly. Thank goodness for time but for the holidays up ahead please know you aren’t alone and if you ever need someone to talk to I am just an email away!

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In Wales they have a race called Man vs Horse, it’s 22 miles, started in 1980 and it took us humans 25 years to beat the horses! It’s a proper tough trail race, and definitely on my running bucket list!

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Oh wow!! That is crazy!! Now I want to join you too in this race!

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Thank you, Janae. Your kindness and perspective encourages me and so many more, too! I hope you have a very happy holiday season with your family!

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Thank you Jenny! I hope you do too!! Enjoy the rest of your Monday too!

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It was like you knew I needed to read that last part. My boyfriend died unexpectedly a few days ago and I am so lost. I’ll be alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We lived together so now I’m in our home alone. And the grief feels crushing. I will remember what you’ve written here and try my best to make it through. I’m sorry that you felt pain anything like this. I would not wish it on anyone.

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I am so sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you and praying that you may find peace.

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Pam. I have tears streaming down my face reading what you are going through right now. I cannot even imagine. If you ever need someone to email with, I’m always here. I am so so sorry.

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Praying for you, Pam. I know no words will help right now, but please know this online community is with you and is thinking of you and praying for you while you grieve.

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Thank you so much for your words.i hope everyone finds something good during this season, even ir they are going through something sad or painful. Best wishes!

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The world needs more people like you!
What a sweet and thoughtful post. I think it is easy for us to forget that this isn’t a happy time for everyone or to even feel burdened during the holidays by trying to please everyone. Thank you for this post. It was a great reminder of the importance of gratitude.

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Thank you Alison. I hope you are having a beautiful day!!!

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Last Thanksgiving was a week or 2 after my husband finished his first round of chemo. I was thankful he was alive but frightened of what was ahead. (and I’m tearing up writing this). I also think of the year my dad died, just before Thanksgiving, and my grandfathers died – one a month prior and the other a month after. Both times were some of my darkest. What helped? Friends, finding something every day to be grateful for – even if it’s just a hot cup of tea on a cold morning, (I find tea much more comforting than coffee and if you’re really sad – whip out the hot cocoa) and being outdoors. While I do pray I find I connect best when I’m out in nature.

I like most pie filling but I don’t like traditional pie crust. I prefer graham cracker or cookie. (I also had a really good multi grain gluten free crust for a savory pie).

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Nina, I really think about you a lot. I can’t even imagine how hard that time was last year. Oh and when your father and grandpas died all so close together… you are a strong woman. I love the things that helped you and I agree, there is something so healing about being outside in nature. You are incredible.

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Thanks, Janae, I appreciate that. I think most of us don’t know how strong we are until we’re tested. I also think those times help shape us into more compassionate people and give us an appreciation for the good times. I imagine that what you went through in previous relationships makes you appreciate Andrew you might if you had met him in the first place. I was only 22 and still in college when I lost my dad and my grandpas, it was really a sad time for me. But little by little you feel better again. Everything passes, even dark times.

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Such an excellent post kiddo, and I do need to comment about how humans can definitely outrun a horse or any animal due to our endurance and the way we sweat. Also how are brains are so intertwined with our emotions…for example.. a person’s longest run may have been 6 miles, but they toe the start of a marathon,,running for a person that is very sick with cancer for example, and that is all they have on their mind. Of course that runner will finish, and their time doesn’t matter one bit.

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Running definitely got me through a rough and long separation and divorce. In fact, my divorce date was on December 23rd. Talk about a difficult time, but you can believe I went for a nice brisk run beforehand. I live in Germany and my hearing was via telephone to the west coast so I had all day to worry/overthink it. That run was very memorable. I’m not one to run with music but a few times a year when I need a break from my own thinking I will listen.

That cry you mention-yes, I know that deep caved in cry. Usually it’s done sitting somewhere awkward like the floor, wooden stairs, a bathroom, corner of a room, etc. So glad you are feeling sunnier and more joyful!!!

Pies-yes indeed. My family always has pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate chip (it’s basically a cookie in pie form. amazing). My favorite is pumpkin pie or any berry pie-especially blueberry or raspberry. Then there’s the ridiculous peach pie from costco. My least favorite is apple. I started making our own tradition of pies and now include a delicious and easy chocolate fudge pie. It’s the hit every year with my kiddos!

I realize I have lengthy answers……

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So so sorry. Running is such a great way to get through that stress. December 23rd! That is awful. You know exactly the cry I am talking about. I hope you are doing better now and will have a better holiday season. Those pies sound amazing! Please give us the easy chocolate fudge pie if you get a chance…I’m here.

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Thank you, Janae. Just the post I needed today. You are amazing!!

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Hey Janae, I know this post probably came from a good place in your heart, but I can’t help sharing that this unhealthy mindset is what kept me in unhealthy relationships for such a long time…I didn’t feel like I was worth anything if I didn’t have a man by my side! I feel so bad, now that I’ve gotten proper help (talking to a REAL therapist was life-changing), looking back at how I treated my friends and family, practically ALL of whom stayed by my side through dark times over and over. Even now, I feel guilty at how I basically told them that they meant NOTHING to me, I just wanted my ex husband or boyfriend or a new Prince Charming back by my side.

I hope that you and Andrew really are happy together, but I encourage you to seek out the help of a licensed therapist or counselor. Being able to accept yourself, standing on your own two legs, knowing that you can get through tough times, will make you a better mother, wife, and all-around human being.

Friendships and relationships are super important, of course, but you shouldn’t base your self-worth on having someone else (besides your mom or siblings) think you are awesome! <3

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Oh Janae! Thanks for being so real and raw with this post. I have been going through a bit of a low point myself… I moved to MS a little over a year ago and all my family is up in WI. While coworkers have extended invites for me to join them and their spouse/children on Thanksgiving I have decided to just cook a turkey and hangout at my house on my own.

I recently deactivated my Facebook because I feel like the only person my age who has never been married and couldn’t be further from starting that side of my life. Yes, I have a beautiful house and the cutest dog. I have worked so hard for what I have–but at some point you want to share it with someone. What good is having an empire with no one to create memories with?

There are definitely ups and downs with holidays like you said. If my parents weren’t coming down for Christmas I’m not sure how I would manage. Knowing there are brighter days ahead certainly help. Thanks for always being so awesome and real. I have loved following your journey and adore you and Andrew together :) <3

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Karla, thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s amazing when we can all be real about feelings and then we all realize how much we are all so alike. I think that deactivating your Facebook was an amazing idea…. I said goodbye to scrolling (even though social media is my job) on Facebook/IG for a while because while I was so happy for others, it just wasn’t good and it didn’t help me in the healing. You are a strong woman Karla, you have accomplished so much and I know there are brighter days up ahead (like you said). Keep me updated on how you are doing and if you ever need somebody to talk to… I’m just an email away. xoxox

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I hope you and your beautiful family have an awesome holiday season! I really appreciate your honesty and willingness to share what helped you.

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Sending a prayer out to all those needing a hug this holiday season. Hoping and wishing everyone is able to find some form of peace and love through their family and friends.
Pies: my favorite is lemon meringue. But that caramel apple just like you made is my favorite to make. But my last two ended up with soggy crust, but we still devoured it. One of our family pie stories from when I was a kid – I used to LOVE pie crust. Still do. I would pick off the pie crust edge and eat it, as in sneak it so no one would know. People would say something, but I’d never fess up. Years later, I got busted. It’s still talked about today, in a funny everyone laughing kind of way. But as an adult now, I’m thinking WHY did I not get in trouble, what a naughty kid for doing that. So picture this, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, my whole family ate crustless pies. It’s beyond me why no one scolded me for this. It’s probably why I still do it.

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Wow I feel like ou wrote this post for me today!! I am going they some Major family/marriage issues on top of having a one year old and know that this holiday season is going to be very trying to say the least. Running, perspective and prayer are what I am holding onto to help me get they things…if anyone has any extra prayers to give I would absolutely love them! Thank you for creating this beautiful space janae! SO thrilled for you and where you are this year!

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You can find Peter’s caramel at Kitchen Kneads or Orson Gygi. Not sure if they have other places that sell it here in Utah County. You would think after living here almost 10 years I would…which is crazy. I still feel like I moved here not long ago.

I am so happy that you are going to have a better Holiday season this year and in the years to come. It really does make me smile just thinking about it.

I also smile a lot just thinking about pies. Like banana cream pie, coconut pie and chocolate pie. I do not smile when I think of cherry pie. It’s wrong.

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to EVERYONE above going through such difficulties, i’m sending hugs and prayers your way :) you’re all doing an amazing job getting through your lives right now <3

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Janae thank you for saying something truthful even if it is hard to say. I think you hit the nail right on the head in talking about prayer, we need to have some way of expressing our truest emotions and feelings with whomever we believe in. we are not the same religion but i like just talking out loud sometimes.

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Thank you Zoe! You are so right… talking out loud sometimes truly helps to really process and understand ourselves a bit more. I hope your Tuesday is a great one!

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Janae, you and I went though divorce at the same time. And honestly, your blog was such a blessing, especially your posts on how you were handling divorce and being very open about it. I felt like I was not alone because you were dealing with the pain/loss at the same time. I read a quote today: The hardest thing you will do in this life is grieve the loss of someone who is still alive. That is how I feel. The loss is still so real. Most days are fine, but every once in a while I get sideswiped with the loss, especially around holidays and anniversaries. But my “new normal” as you have said, is good. I have freedom to create the life I want. I am blessed to have such an amazing family and friends that are so supportive. I am moving closer to home next month, which I probably should have done much earlier, but it will be so great to be home and around more support as I work on recovery and surrendering to my set weight. Oh and I went on my first run with the Glycerins – acca-awesome!! Thank you for your thoughts on that!! You and your blog are such a blessing and you probably do not even know the effect you are having on so many people that read but do not respond or post. You are so sweet and thoughtful for thinking of everyone who will be having such a hard time and dealing with loss. I will be praying for everyone.

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Alisha,
Thank you SO much for your comment and sharing your story. That quote is so right, that type of grieving is so incredibly hard. Yes, the holidays and anniversaries were very tough for me too. I totally get you. I am so glad that your new normal is good and that you will be moving closer to home soon (and for your GLYCERINS—> I love those). You are so strong Alisha and your future is so bright. Please email me if you need anyone to chat with this holiday season. You’ve always got a friend in Utah that understands what you are going through! xoxox

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You are so kind to reply. Thanks, Janae! YOU are such a blessing!!! Look at all these people, me included, you are helping by just having this blog, sharing your life, and connecting all of us. What a ministry you have started and maintain. Thank you so much for your kind words and support. And know you have a friend in NC!! much, much love!

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I am so happy for you that life is going so well and you have found your happy place.

It’s funny how life can go… on the darkest days, it can feel like things will never get better. But they usually do.

My sad holiday moment was on New Years Eve, 2008. I was a recent University graduate, unable to find a full time job and stuck in a thankless retail position. Due to my own insecurities, I had broken up with a great guy after only three dates. I really had no close friends at the time so had no NYE plans and was forced to stay home with my parents (now, I would happily do that, but at the age of 23, it’s not that cool. lol) So there I was, at home with my parents, with no real job, no friends and kicking myself for giving up on a great guy. My mom said to me, “don’t worry, 2009 will be better.” And sure enough, a few weeks later an amazing career opportunity came up AND the guy I had broken up with messaged me saying, “hey, I know you broke up with me, but I really liked you and would you consider seeing me again?” that guy is now my husband :) So things DO get better!!

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NO WAY. Okay, your story about what your husband texted you and the fact that you guys ended up getting married made me smile so big. That is amazing. It’s crazy how things can be so down only to turn around working out soon… thank you for sharing!

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Thank you so much for sharing this! I am getting increasingly anxious at the holidays come up. After a bad breakup over the summer, I am feeling so sad and lonely. I loved him so much and just wanted things to work out, and they didn’t. I know that is all for a reason, but sometimes it still makes me feel so down. We spent the holidays in previous years together and it was such a joy to share that with someone special. I have taken on some extra shifts at work around that time this year to stay a little distracted and will see some family as well. I know it will eventually get better, each day is actually better. But I can totally connect to that darkness that you were talking about. Things feel so different, and I would not have chosen this if it were completely up to me.

All that to say, thank you. Thank you for sharing your story and feelings. Thank you for finding happiness and love. It gives me hope. I’ll make it through the end of this year. And just try to look towards the next with openness and optimism. Wishing you the best always always.

Hugs,
Amanda

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Amanda, breakups are the worst. They hurt so bad and I can totally see why the holidays are going to be harder for you this year. There is so much goodness and happiness ahead for you. It’s these bumps (well, this is a huge bump for you) in the road that make us so much stronger. You are so right that each day gets better (along with some days thrown in there that are setbacks). You are doing amazing. Keep taking it a day at a time, keep getting stronger and your future will be bright. Let me know if you ever need someone to email with over the holidays! Thinking about you xoxox!

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This post is incredibly special. I often find myself feeling so hopeful when I see ways that people come together to support each other and remind each other we’re not alone. I’ve had some incredibly painful and lonely moments – I vividly remember a time when I too was sitting on the floor (in my kitchen) crying so hard I didn’t know how to stop. My three-year relationship had ended in the most painful way and I lived over 1000 miles from my family. One of the best things I did for myself was to allow myself to feel the pain. I let myself cry and hide under covers once in awhile when I just needed to give into it. But I also realized it was totally within my power to move on. My friends rallied around me in a way I will never forget and showed me how unbelievably amazing true friendship can be. My family supported me in every way. And, I had running. To be honest, running was really difficult in the beginning – my pace was slow, I could hardly breathe and I went from racing at a 6:30 pace to barely being able to finish a mile. It was actually you, Janae that helped me. I wrote to you to see if you have ever heard of people struggling to run after grief and you gave me so much hope. You didn’t even know me but you were so kind and encouraging and reminded me that the paces would come back and running would always be there for me. Thank you so much! I’ve since made changes completely based on my own joy and could not be happier about where I am! I hope anyone who is struggle during the holidays or any time always knows they are loved and not alone.

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Beth, I absolutely remember our emails to each other. I remember feeling heartbroken for your situation. I am so incredibly happy that you have made some changes that has helped you so much. You are a great example to me. Thank you for writing me and opening up to me. It means a lot and it has helped me too!

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Thank you for this today. I am struggling right now and can’t seem to get in the holiday spirit whatsoever, even as hard as I try. Many people around me are so excited, and I kinda just want them to be over and done with. I lost my 9 year old niece two years ago (this month), so the holidays are just hard, and I’m also dealing with a very difficult breakup from an 8 year relationship. Running/working out is definitely my go to “therapy” and really the only thing that truly gets me out of the funk for a little while.

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.

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Oh Brittany, I cannot even imagine what you are experiencing at this time. My heart breaks for you. I am glad that running/exercise helps you but goodness gracious, you have a lot on your plate. I hope that over the next few weeks you feel peace and comfort and remember it is okay to not be okay. I feel like it took me longer to deal with my divorce because I kept pushing off really feeling things. It wasn’t until I allowed myself to feel and hurt and process that the healing truly began. I am so sorry Brittany and please let me know if you ever need someone to email chat with! Thinking about you. You are not alone.

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I love, love, love the holidays… but yes, I also know what it feels to be lonely when you can’t be with your family or loved ones. Thanks for talking about this and reaching out to others who might feel that way. That is super-sweet.

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Aw sweet Janae, that made me tear up picturing your heavy heart on Christmas Eve. It’s so great to see how your life has changed since then.

The holidays this year are supposed to be really special for me since I just had a baby, and I’m sure they will be, but I have been really surprised at how challenging this new role has been for me. I’m usually a very positive person, even in my own head, but lately I have really struggled and felt defeated. I think not being able to run is a big contributor to this personality change. Everyone I see asks me, “isn’t it wonderful? Aren’t you just loving it?” It’s hard to respond, “Well, yes, but it’s really hard!”. I wish I was soaking up every moment and cherishing this season more before it passes me by.

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I totally get what you are saying. Being a new mom is incredibly hard. It pushes us to a whole new world and I still feel those days of defeat and that it is so hard. Don’t be too hard on yourself though. It’s okay to admit that it is hard and you are doing your very best! Those first few months were so hard for me but then it did get better. The toddler stage is even easier for me (yes, the tantrums are rough but it is so fun to have them talk and play and think with us now… as a baby you don’t get that side). You are doing great and I hope you feel peace and comfort this holiday season. Thinking about you and I hope you get a good night sleep tonight!

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http://www.green-events.co.uk/events.html?id=54

Man v horse race near me

Love you blog btw

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