Sunday, November 3, 2013

three part duex

As I mentioned earlier, my goal for October 2013 was to run three half marathons. October is over, and so are my three races. Each one was different in its own way, and in many ways surprised me.

The first race, my friend Jen ended up running with me, her husband was running the full marathon that day.

We didn't find each other at the beginning of the race, but she found me around mile 1. I had told her that I probably wouldn't do a lot of talking on the run and that held true. Around mile 2 we ran into a colleague of Jen's who was running the full marathon, we ran with her until the split off around mile 6. It was good because Jen and her friend talked and I didn't feel like I needed to. Overall, I felt good, there were some great crowds and running with Jen and her friend we were keeping solid 10:40 pace which is a really good speed for me at that distance. This was an odd race for me, because even though I had a lot on my mind, I didn't think about any of it on the run, which is not typical for me.
I almost didn't think about anything, except at the end when I started to realize I was close to meeting a PR and wanted to keep pushing. Mile 11 seems to be my nemesis, and is always my slowest mile, and it was again this time, but I kicked it in and ran the last two miles back down around 11 minute miles and finished with a PR. That had not been my plan but I was very excited about the end. I cried when I crossed the line, and got to hug Sunshine who was at the end with my Aunt and Uncle. And I was on cloud 9 with how I felt and my time.

After the race I had some major gastro-intestinal issues which made me very nervous about the next two races. Muscle wise I was sore the next day but nothing horrible.

During the next two weeks I went and bought a new pair of sneakers, the ones I wore in the first half were right near my mileage limit but didn't want get a new pair right before the race, so this way I had two weeks to try them, I went for several runs, including a couple of  6 plus mile runs with a friend training to run her first marathon at the end of the month. My ankle was a little sore after the race, which is unusual for me, and I attributed it to the high mileage sneakers. Also during the two weeks off, during a Tae Kwon Do class I pulled my calf doing of all things, jumping jacks, which in turn started to make my knee hurt. I haven't had any problems with my knees this whole year so this was very disappointing and the focus of my thoughts prepping for the 2nd race. I iced a lot and ended up buying some KT tape.

We headed up Saturday for the 2nd race, and drove the course, although I'd run the last 8 miles of the course, a friend of the people I was staying with was doing the full marathon and hadn't seen the course. It is a beautiful course, so I didn't mind at all.

I iced my knee on the drive up and knew my focus was really on that rather than anything else, I was nervous about being able to complete the route. Before each race, I paint my toe nails a new color, the colors I pick don't always mean anything, this time I let Sunshine pick the color and she chose purple, which worked out nicely because I didn't paint my two toes that are black and blue and you could barely tell. I lost a nail before we headed up, which I was actually happy that it had happened. The night before the race I had a dream that it snowed, which made me laugh, it is October and it is Maine so it wouldn't be out of the question, but really? I wasn't quite ready for that. It ended up raining in the morning and the start of the marathon was in the rain (we started 30 minutes later) but it stopped raining very quickly.  I have to say that this was one of the hardest races for me. I was in pain from just about mile 3 on. My knee with the KT tape held up quite well. But my hamstrings were very very unhappy with me. The majority of this course is up hill and it took all I had to power through.

It was actually interesting for me because the physical pain opened some emotional pain doors, some 'stuff' that has been bothering me and that I've been beating myself up about for who knows how long. As I approach mile 6 and a rouge water stop with awesome signs that said things like 'Hey Stranger, I am proud of you'. I said to myself, okay, you can wallow in this 'stuff' for the next 7.1 miles and then it is gone, you must let it go. And a few steps later with my hamstrings screaming at me the most amazing thing happened, a little voice in my head said- 'When are you going to realize that you are enough?' It caused me to gasp and I spent the next mile crying.  I finished the race, it was slow but ended up falling in the middle, time-wise, of the 8 half marathons I have done, so I'll take it. I sprinted at the end out of sheer will power to not be passed in the finish shoot and cried as I was embraced by my family waiting for me.


I was sore probably through Wednesday after the 2nd race, and was anxious about pain on the final race. I knew the last race was going to be pretty flat, but it required a long drive the morning of, being a planner, I left probably 45 minutes too early, and could have slept in longer, but I didn't want to miss it! I was tired, physically from lack of sleep and also from all of the running, but I had committed to the race and would do it. For the first 5 miles I felt great, I was actually on pace to beat my PR from earlier in the month, partly because it was so flat, and also because we were running on a very busy highway with lots of cheering people. Also, it was very cold, my toes were numb for probably the first 2 miles, but then loosened up. Somewhere just before mile 6 we went through a beautiful covered bridge and I felt like time was standing still, I was probably going very slow at this point, but it was quiet, peaceful, I came around the corner and saw all of the people who I had been running near who had dropped me and thought --catch them. 

 
This worked for about the next mile and a half and then again, I ran out of steam. That was how the last 5 miles went, push for a mile, dog it for a mile. I was still making good time, I think mostly due to the flatness of the course. I knew I was struggling, so I said, if nothing else, don't let mile 11 be your nemesis this time, it is one mile, run it like any other mile- and I did- it was finally not my slowest mile! And then mile 12 hit, and I had shooting pains in my ankle, something I had never experienced before. Should I have stopped? Maybe, but it was really only 1 mile more, but I couldn't stop, I couldn't walk, I passed two people who were walking the last little bit, but I refused. And really, that was what this race was all about for me, a battle between my mind and my body and negotiations about what we could do. In the end, I finished in a time just about half way between the first and second races of the month. Miraculously, I felt pretty good Sunday night after a hot shower and a little ice on my ankle. I went for a couple slow short runs during the week, and although tender, I was not in pain. 

And just good for measure I ran a 10k this weekend, one I do every year because I love the course, its beautiful and it supports a great cause, I was very tired going in, very tired and really just wanted to finish faster than my slowest time on the course (when I weighed about 30 lbs more than I do now).

To my surprise, I finished in a PR, I felt fantastic on the course perhaps my body and mind were just so elated to be running half of 13.1 miles that they were like- oh yeah baby, let's do this! 


October was tough for me. I am proud of myself for setting my goal and reaching it. I am proud of pushing through the low moments and getting it done. I am still processing the fact that I struggle with understanding that I am really ENOUGH, and it seems like a really great step in the right direction.






Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Polite STFU?

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook that got me thinking. I'll be honest, I don't know the whole story behind the post, it was a post by a friend of a friend, someone I know, but not well, and what I conjecture from the post is that she is currently out of work and was very upset that she did not get a job, a job she was one of the finalists for. Her emotions are understandable, the comment that struck me was someone trying to be supportive.. the comment was .. "oh honey, you have such potential."

I read those words and I thought what a horrible horrible comment. I am sure it was meant to be supportive and encouraging, but I read that as.. you aren't ready... you have potential to get a job.

I started thinking about the pieces of advice or words of encouragement that we give each other in those low times, often times when we don't know what to say but we want to say something positive because that is our nature and I was reminded once again that we all come from different places and with those different histories and experience we hear things different. I told myself, don't use those cliches any more, you just don't know what someone is going to hear. And that very next day I used one of them.. "it will all work out". I hit the send button on the text message and I wanted to reach through my phone and grab it back.

I started to list in my head the things we all say out of kindness, out of empathy and sympathy that actually annoy me more than help me, and I say that knowing that the person delivering the words wants nothing more than to be supportive.

* Everything happens for a reason- this one makes me want to scream. Perhaps sometime in the future this may all make sense, but right now, in my pain, my angst, and being a person who is so completely rooted in 'why', this does nothing but piss me off. My brain goes to- really everything happens for a reason? This broken heart, the miscarried child, the young Mom who died from cancer? The person who didn't live along enough to receive an organ transplant? That? Every single one of those things happened for a reason, I really want to call bull shit on that one.

* You're better off with out him/it's his loss. Now unless you are being physically, emotionally or mentally abused, at this moment that the relationship has ended and you weren't the endee- it doesn't feel anything like his/her loss.. it feels totally, utterly and 1000% my loss.

* It will all work out in the end- really? How do you know? And work out, what do you mean it will all work out? In the text message case I referenced above, people's lives will be disrupted for weeks, lots of people will be inconvenienced and the person most directly affected by the events is completely stressed about the effect on her support system. How? How will this all work out in the end?

* This is God's plan- I am sure my response to this will tick many people off, and trust me, I am very spiritual, but am not an avid church goer. I was raised Catholic and have my own issues with what goes on there and am trying to figure out just how I feel about organized religion as a whole. But back to the point at hand- I once read a brutally honest post from a women who had lost her child- I am paraphrasing tremendously here, but I think her point was, do you understand what it feels like to someone like me who prayed that my baby would not die and you say that your baby lived because of your prayers. Does that mean I didn't pray enough? That I didn't have enough people praying? I can't even begin to understand her pain, and I hope I never have to. But I do understand her words, and how it must sound to her or anyone else in her circumstance.

This post has sat idle for awhile because I felt like it wasn't quite there, it didn't really make sense, and then I had a conversation with a friend, who suggested that we should have a word in our language that means a very polite STFU (Shut the eff up), for those times when you are receiving advice, or comfort, and you just aren't ready to hear it, you don't want another condolence at the funeral, or another I'm sorry you got fired, or what have you. A quick and easy way to get your thanks and please be quiet across at the same time;  "Thank you so much for your kind words. Now, unless you want to do any more damage to me emotionally, I humbly ask that you STFU.'

It seems to me that most people, when they see someone in pain mentally, emotionally or physically, the general human trait is to help out, to try and comfort, to have empathy. And the person who is hurting, even though they may want to push the other person away, wants to be polite and thank that person for their comfort and understanding.

Just the other day I was telling my friend who came up with the idea of the polite STFU about something that had me pretty upset, and had hurt me emotionally, and he started to tell me why it would and how it was going to be okay. I just looked at him and said STFU and we both started laughing, because we knew. He knew what I needed was to just spew all this yuckiness that was making me really sad, and I knew what he needed was to make me hear that I wouldn't be sad forever, to make me feel better. And I also knew that at that moment I didn't want to be comforted I wanted to be sad, but that there would come a time when I wanted to be comforted and hear his reassuring words.

It is an interesting dance we as humans do in our interactions. I guess if nothing else, if you can have a few people in your life, who you can say STFU to, you've got some good dance partners, and maybe the time will come when we can all say- thanks for your support, but not right now and no one will be offended and everyone will understand and the polite STFU will end up in Webster's Dictionary.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

three.

As I approached the end of the year and tried to decide what I would set for my goals for running, I was torn. The original plan had been to run a marathon at the end of the month of October with some friends, this friend in particular.


However, I didn't get in during sign ups. It was a bit sad, but in the end, it was probably for the best considering the trip to Alaska and all the other things going on in my life, getting the training in for 26 miles would have been tough.

Bit still, I wanted to do something epic, something that would completely push my limits. And so I found 3 Half Marathons to run in the month of October. When I picked the three there was really no rhyme or reason to them, other than their proximity for driving, as well as not conflicting with anything else already on my calendar.

Just the other day as I approached this weekend knowing it was my last long run before the month, I began to think about how the events I had chose actually held some serious significance. The first one, I have run twice before, it is actually the first half marathon I ever ran.


The second I will run with friends, that's not to say that I won't see people I know at the first one, but at the second one I am staying with friends and we'll do the event together. This is significant because one of the hardest things for me to do when running was to run with other people, I was always afraid I would slow them down, or breathe too heavy, in general just very self conscious about running with others. I have tackled this fear and now enjoy running with people. It was another step in my running process. I have run this race before, as a relay and only 8 miles of the hills.


The last one, I will go to by myself, and more than likely will know no one. This is how I started to run, by myself, it was unknown to me. Although this will be the flattest of the three, I think it will be the hardest, my legs will be tired, so to be on the course with just me, myself and I will be fitting, this will be when my mental strength will be most important.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

twelve.

Sunshine-

I am sure I say this every year, but I honestly cannot believe you are another year older. 12!! We were talking about this in the car the other day. We actually were discussing how long we've lived in the house, and I said it seems like a combination of both 'we've only been here a few years' and 'we've been here decades'. I feel the same way about you. I almost can't remember my life with out you, yet it seems like you were born last week.

The date of your birth and the week leading up to it have such emotions and memories for so many people, as I was already more than a week over due when 9/11 happened. And I remember the tv on in the delivery room the whole time just playing the coverage constantly, until I finally requested it be turned off.

It amazes me all the time when I look at you, and I know the chaos, sadness, anger and negativity that was going on in the world the day you were born, and yet you are none of that. You are light, smiles, sunshine and joy. You are now a tween, so don't get me wrong, you are chaos sometimes, but you are good chaos, you are growing up and finding your way chaos.



This summer I wrote about how fierce you are. But you are also joy. You were so excited to start school this year, and you still get excited to tell me about something new you are learning in school. You bounded out of the first Social of the year all excited that you asked two boys to dance and they both said yes.

You recently won your first first place in your weapons division. You have been working so hard on this and you were so proud (and I was equally proud of you). That night I asked you, is that your most coveted trophy so far? And your answer was- the one where I placed 4th in co-ed weapons but I was the first girl to place is pretty cool too!

This last year has been pretty amazing for you on many fronts. You went to Space Camp with 17 of your classmates. You went to Alaska on a cruise with your Grandmother and me, you earned a black stripe on your red belt, you were in two plays- Princess and the Pea as Princess Diana Ding Dong of Dingaling and Cinderella as one of her trusty Rat companions. You went to sailing camp, and sleep away karate camp during the summer. You were in a couple Anti-Bullying Public Service Announcement commercials with several of your classmates. At a overnight field trip, you were the first person in your group to volunteer to climb the 45 foot telephone pole! You ran two 5ks. You signed up for a Fab Friday at school to bike 18 miles, you signed up without any of your friends and until the last day, you were the only girl signed up to go. You played lacrosse for the first time and loved it. You started the New Year off by jumping in the ocean, and convincing one of your friends to join you. You saw Big Time Rush in concert. By all accounts that sounds like a pretty fantastic year!


It is hard as your Mom to let go sometimes, to let you wander off with your friends or to let you figure out if you have everything you need for something. It is becoming easier, as you continually show me how ready you are for those new responsibilities.


Besides continuing to be your awesome self, if I had one skill I hope you can learn this year, I hope that you can learn how to 'fake it 'til you make it'. I think this is part of your joy and light, but sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, and sometimes even when you are tired you have give it your all. It isn't an easy thing to learn, but it is a fantastic skill that will serve you well.

I also hope you continue to realize your skills, your intelligence; build your self confidence even more, realize your skills on the flute and your talents on the stage and that you get algebra even if you explain it differently, that you play lacrosse or whatever sport(s) you choose and enjoy them, and that you continue to enjoy working toward your black belt, and that you continue to be the wonderful friend and human being that you are.



My Love, you are my day brightener and my joy. I am blessed to call you my daughter and I cannot wait to see how awesome you will be at being 12.

Love,

Mom

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fear.

Like many people it seems, I'm going through a rough patch. Nothing horrible or monumental, just a time when the negative voices in my head are so much louder than all the positive in the world, and I'll tell you those damn negative voices are hard to silence- stubborn and persistent little buggers!

To fight the negative buggers, I have been working hard to do positive things myself, not rely on the outside positive, so the voices in my head start to become more positive. I mentioned earlier that 2013 has turned into an epic year for me, and I want to keep that going in a positive manner. 

A few years ago, a friend suggested I watch Sex and the City. I had never seen it when it ran originally, so that winter I used it as my dreadmill running show. I liked it alright, but frankly didn't quite get all the hype. However one episode has stuck with me since I saw it.. The Catch. It was after watching that episode that I bought Michelle Branch's Breathe single. I can't really tell you much more about that episode other than the song, that Carrie goes to trapeze school and her ending quote has always struck me.

When you're young, your whole life is about the pursuit of fun. Then, you grow up and learn to be cautious. You could break a bone or a heart. You look before you leap and sometimes you don't leap at all because there's not always someone there to catch you. And in life, there's no safety net. When did it stop being fun and start being scary?- Carrie Bradshaw

At some point in the last couple of months I heard someone else mention trapeze, and it got me thinking, trapeze would be amazing to try, terrifying but amazing. I have a fear of heights, probably more correctly, I have a fear of falling. When I climbed Mount Washington a few years ago, I was terrified of falling, which I did. On my face. The bruise was amazing. The van ride down from the top was in fact the greatest and most welcomed car ride of my life.

I did some research and found a trapeze school about 2 hours away and knowing that stepping off that platform would be terrifying for me, I asked this guy to go with me (by the way he's the foot, not the hammer or the fish)



I've written about him before.. he'll hate that I'm bringing it up again. Here's the thing with him, I'm pretty sure we've been around a few times together, we have this connection, we just sort of fit. He is one of a handful of people that I can sit in silence and be comfortable. He is, geographically the closest of those people. I knew that the car ride down would be pretty quite, my mo is to go inside myself when I am nervous or anxious, and I knew that he would be encouraging while we were there. Of course he would make fun of me on the way home, after he congratulated me, but it would be in good fun.

But the timing didn't work out, and he couldn't go, well he could go, but he couldn't go this weekend, and it became almost irrationally important to me that I go NOW and do this. In the end, that really was probably the best, if only in that it forced me to look fear in the face by myself and do it, just step off that platform.


There it is. That's what I saw when I got there. My feet were a little sweaty. 

I was quiet and pensive during the ground school, and really the shaky nerves did not kick in until I climbed the stairs to the top. What you don't see in any of the pictures, is that you have your 10 toes over the edge, your left hand on a metal vertical bar attached to the platform, your right on the trapeze bar, and a human holding your belt. Another human is on the ground holding your safety ropes. My first jump, I am guessing it took me 5 minutes for each step, feet over the edge, 1 hand on the bar, and then to take that 2nd hand and put it on the bar, because at that point you are hanging over the the edge of the platform, held only by the human behind you. But what I realized during those 5 minutes, was not once did I think, turn, walk away. I just kept telling myself you can do this you can do this. And I did.


I love this next picture, look at the instructor behind me, see how happy she is that I was less scared the 2nd time? And each time it got progressively better.


And here is one of the things I realized, you see below the instructors switched, and now this guy is the human holding me. I was way less scared. Not because he was male, but because he was bigger, he could certainly hold my weight. It was at that moment that realized, even though I see that new number on the scale, I still see myself 88 lbs heavier, and it isn't a fear of falling, it is a fear of my big body, of what it can't do, that people can't hold me. For safety reasons the school has a weight limit, and I am well below that weight limit, on the scale, but not in my mind.


 Here you can see how you are leaning over the platform held simply by the strength of 1 human.


This is one of my last flights, I did 7 or 8, I lost count. I could have done more. Each one get mentally easier, my muscles were sore, but I am used to that, what completely surprised me was how raw my hands got- I hadn't considered that, and it became really painful to hold the bar because of the blisters that were forming- well earned rewards for my hard work.


I learned a lot about myself today. I can look fear in the face and say I just don't care.  (thank you P!nk). I learned that I need to become more aware of my new body, of how completely powerful and strong it is, and that I can do pretty much anything with it. I need to trust myself more, to realize what I am capable of and make sure my heart and head both know that.

This quote actually hung at the top of the platform before you jumped off:

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.- Eleanor Roosevelt

The negative voices have quieted. My soul is full. My muscles ache from a day of hard work. It was an epic day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

shame.

Let me preface this by saying, there will be adult words, and it has taken me a couple of weeks to write this because the first version would have been nothing but adult words, so give me some credit for that.

A few weeks ago an article ran on several of the major 'news' sites on the interwebs about a study done that shaming obese people doesn't work to help them lose weight. First, really? And I mean really on so very many levels.
* Has shaming ever worked to help people?
* Who, who would pay for such a study?
* Who would suggest doing such a study?
* and, really? No shit!

I can't actually bring myself to share the link to the article, but if you search the interwebs- you will find it, very quickly.

I have some very judgement responses to my questions above, and maybe I'm wrong, but I'd bet chances of that are slim.

Who wold suggest doing such a study? Someone who not once in their life has struggled with their weight, has no idea what it feels like to be fat or overweight, and is probably very attractive in general.

Who would pay for such a study? Someone very stupid who wants to waste their money? Or someone who I am willing to bet fits the same categories as the person who suggested the study. Or someone who has way too much money on their hands and could use it to do something way more important like I don't need feed the hungry!

For those of you who don't know me in the past 7 years I have lost 88 pounds. And up until about a year ago, I would say I have been fat my entire life. I no longer fit that category, so I am, what you might say, an expert in the whole being fat/obese arena.

I also know that I have lost a lot of opportunities because of my weight, at work, romantically, friendships, or just activities I was afraid to take part in.


Allow me a few side track of what that article/study made me think about:

My office, like many today, offers an annual screening of height weight, blood pressure, sugar levels and a couple other basic health stats, it is free, so I take advantage of it every year. For the past couple of years it has been the same company, so they have the previous year's records. This year, the woman looked at my report, the amount of weight I'd continued to lose, the drop in my bad cholesterol and the rise in my good cholesterol and said. 'So what are we going to do about you losing some weight?' I can only imagine what my face looked like. But I said, 'I'm sorry did you see how much I've already lost?' She said 'yes- but you need to lose more, you need some help with that.' I said, 'I'm done here thank you for your time', and proceeded to get up and leave.

I watch the Biggest Loser. Both Sunshine and I enjoy it. But I often sit back and wonder what I would do if Jillian yelled at me like she is so apt to do? Would I walk off the show? They don't always show all the previous contests, but there are certainly times when they do that the contestants have gained back a portion (sometimes a significant portion) of their weight. There is no golden rule here, there is however, a certain percentage of overweight people who have very low self -esteem, you think yelling at them helps with that?

About 8 months ago I added another exercise element to my journey, building in weight training and different cardio, for me it has helped improve the other aspects of my activity strengthening my core and my body in general, I am usually less sore after long runs than I used to be. I signed up with a trainer where I do online workouts, and can email him etc. I watched an exchange on facebook between my trainer and another discussing how a client said "I'll try" and the trainer didn't like this. He wanted the client to say I can. I don't know the other trainer, but I went to high school with my trainer, so I know he has always been fit, and a natural athlete, so I get it.. 'I can' is a natural part of his vocabulary. But what I also get is sometimes the hardest thing ever for someone who is overweight is to say "I'll try" instead of I can't. That, that is a huge leap forward. Start with 'I'll try', 'I can' will follow.

I have written several times, and shared with Sunshine, that one of my greatest fears for her is that she would be a fat child. Just saying those words makes my heart flinch a little. Making fun of fat people is, as far as I can tell, still quite acceptable. And just last week, a woman at work getting ready to go on vacation walked by my desk and said- "The fat lady has sung". I was in that moment transported back to my Junior year in High School- folks that was a couple of decades ago- when on a bus, several boys tried to get me to sing 'LA'. I found out later, their reason- so they could say the fat lady had sung. Decades later folks, and I can still feel that aloneness and ache I felt when I found out what my 'friends' were up to.

So back to the study by who the heck knows. I can't help but feel real sorry for the people who took part in the study. Will some one pay to get them therapy? What awful things were they told as part of their shaming? Do they believe the words that were used against them? Can I take the researchers and shame them about something in their life?

I have watched several of the videos that have been and currently are circulating aimed at the LGBT community, specifically LBGT teens and young adults telling them that things get better and it will be okay. They are so very powerful and profound and I hope that people hear those words. What I want to tell you is that it never gets easier being overweight. Adults will still make fun of you, even if they don't make fun of your sexual preference or your skin color or that you have the wrong Jordache purse. Take for example the recent articles on Melissa McCarthy's weight.. pretty dang successful and amazingly funny women, but people still feel it is acceptable to write about her weight.

Everyone has to make their own weight loss journey, for their own reasons,with their own motivation. Doesn't mean there aren't cheerleaders along the journey- those are so very important. But the people who shame you or belittle you, you don't need them- throw them by the way side. And, if you aren't ready to take your weight loss journey now, it is okay, as I have learned with age- timing is everything.









Thursday, August 1, 2013

advice.

Recently I've seen several really well written advice blogs floating around the interwebs. You know things like, what you need to tell your daughter, or son, or what I wished I'd learned earlier in life, what I would tell my 20 something self. So, as you can imagine it got me thinking, cause well, I can over-think my way out of a paper back.

Sunshine, have I given you all the advice I should of? And I thought about what advice my parents had given me. I am sure there was a lot, but the one that sticks with is "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." Grandma used to tell me that all the time.

Now, let me tell you, that was the worst piece of advice I could ever have been given. Grandma meant well, and now I get the point, but as a kid, I took it too literally. If I am nice to people, they will be nice to me. I'm here Sunshine, to tell you that is not true. There are mean people in the world, people with agendas and ulterior motives, people who do not have a clue how to be nice or how to be a friend. And no matter how wonderfully you treat them, they will rarely ever treat you that way back. So that one little line, with all the good intentions it holds, set me up for some major disappointments in life.

I hope that in your life you have seen how I carry myself and behave and that is the best advice, I can give you. There are things I have learned in the last 7 years of changing my life that I certainly wished I'd learned decades ago, but perhaps that wasn't meant to happen.

As I look at you moving into 7th grade and remember how remarkably terribly I was treated in middle school and most especially high school, I feel like a squirrel preparing for Winter, what other 'things' do I need to show Sunshine, tell her, how can I prepare her for what were, for me the worst years of my life filled with such unhappiness and torment that I would do anything to wrap you in a cocoon and keep you safe in my house until you are say 22. I know realistically that can't happen.

So, if I haven't shown you these things by my actions, I'm going to tell you them here.

1. As a general rule, girls/women can be super crazy mean to each other. Don't be the mean girl. And don't let the mean girls get to you... see the problem with Grandma's advice was no matter how nice you are to the mean girls, they will always be mean, and you will fight a never ending battle of why aren't they nice to me when I'm nice to them? Don't stoop to their level either. Walk away.

1a. Because girls were so mean, I found myself making friends with boys. This is, both a blessing and a curse. To this day some of my dearest and closest friends are boys. Thing is, it can sometimes be hard to separate the friendship and potential romantic feelings/physical attraction. I'm still advocating for surrounding yourself with good people male or female... just know that friendships with either gender are work- just make sure both of you are working at the friendship- if not, walk away, it's okay. There are no prizes for the number of friends you have.

2. Use your body. (I've seen this on a lot of the aforementioned blogs floating around). It took me almost 35 years to realize this one. Moving and using your body gives you confidence, helps you process your stuff and is just down right good for you.

3. Learn to be a human be-ing. I am still not good at this, but learn to just be. To sit and watch the grass grow or the clouds roll by. I am an example of an amazing human do-ing. Just sitting and be-ing in the moment is just as important if not more important than do-ing.

4.Your heart will be broken. You will make mistakes. You will lose. Own them, feel them. Move on. It's okay to hold them in your heart and be sad and mad. But don't dwell. Despite outward appearances, very few people have the lives and perfect-ness that they want you to believe. We all make mistakes, owning them and admitting to them is so much greater and takes more courage then ignoring they happened. Broken hearts happen. I think, in reality they don't get easier, but you learn to pick yourself up and try again- whether your heart was broken because of a boy or a friend or not making a team or not getting a part in a play. Similarly, you will lose. No one can win all the time- boy would that be amazing. But it isn't reality.

5. Trust yourself. Understand how amazing you are. How smart you are. Trust your gut and your instincts. And don't let anyone make you doubt yourself.



I tell you all this and know that you'll forget some of it, and you'll be the mean girl one day, not on purpose, but you'll be mean to someone and hurt them, and not have meant to. Or you'll let the mean girls get to you. Or you'll forget how awesome you are and will doubt yourself. Here's the thing kiddo.. we all do those things. Most of us have a pretty good idea of how we want to live our lives and who we truly are in our hearts, the world can be a very noisy place and it can be hard to remember. So that's when you look back here, or you remember how I tried to act and live around you, how I treated people and how I owned my mistakes (most of the time).. that's the advice I give you.

Monday, July 29, 2013

3am

I have the joy and pleasure of seeing 3am fairly often, although to be honest, I've been going through a stint where I haven't seen it that much.

I have had this honor for most of my adult life, I don't remember it in college or in high school, but certainly since I have been a Mom.

I had a friend a few years ago who told me I should be happy that I am up at that time of the day, it is one of the most spiritual times in the day, there are monks who wake at that time to pray each day. It is an interesting concept, not sure it makes me enjoy it anymore, but I am more conscious about doing some heavy duty thinking and processing when I wake up at 3am, rather than getting up and doing chores which is what I did for a few years.

The other day we are driving and one of Sunshine's favorite songs on the new P!nk album comes on and I notice for the first time since we've had the album that it mentions 3 am.

"The Truth About Love"= P!nk
The truth about love comes at 3am
You wake up f*&@ed up and you grab a pen
And you say to yourself
I'm gonna figure it out, I'm gonna crack that code
Gonna break it break it down
I'm tired of all these questions 

So I started wondering how many other songs on my ipod mention 3 am.. After compiling this list, I feel like my connection with 3am is in good company. (There may be more, but these are the ones I came up with last night, I will be paying more attention though!)

"3am"- Matchbox Twenty
She says baby
It's 3 am I must be lonely
When she says baby
Well I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes
Says the rain's gonna wash away I believe it

She's got a little bit of something, God it's better than nothing
And in her color portrait world she believes that she's got it all
She swears the moon don't hang quite as high as it used to
And she only sleeps when it's raining
And she screams and her voice is straining 

"Home"- Goo Goo Dolls
It's 3 A.M. and I can't sleep without you
I think I've found the perfect words to say
The shattered light transmits my voice
Sometimes we don't have a choice
I'd wake you up from half a world away

And I tried so hard
Tried to be so strong
But you see the crash
My defense is gone 

"Closer to Fine" - Indigo Girls  
I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity. 

"Hello City"- Barenaked Ladies
It's three o'clock in the morning,
and I'm hungry so let's eat.
Climb down three flights to the streetlights
and the bar-fights, we're just taking in the sights.
I hope tomorrow that I wake up in my own bed.

"Unusual Kiss"- Melissa Etheridge 
The smell the taste the touch is so brand new
The thrill of the eyes that capture this forbidden view
It's 2:45 and you'll have some explaining to do

It's 3:17 a.m. please let me into your eyes
It's 4:23 and I try to hold on as you rise
I'll give you all that I have if that's what you want me to try

And not quite 3am

"Breathe"- Anna Nalick
2 AM and she calls me 'cause I'm still awake,
"Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?,
I don't love him. Winter just wasn't my season"
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize,
Hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason

"Better Man"- Pearl Jam
Waitin', watchin' the clock, it's four o'clock, it's got to stop
Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech
As he opens the door, she rolls over...
Pretends to sleep as he looks her over

She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man...
She dreams in color, she dreams in red, can't find a better man...
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
Ohh...

I am sure this will shock few, but a search of the interwebs finds that there are people who make lists of songs that include time and have done this for every hour on the clock. I was rather surprised at how many songs include 3am, some I've heard of, some I haven't.

Oh, and don't judge my taste in music.. it's mine, you have yours, we can happily co-exist. Really.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fierce.

Sunshine-

Today after I dropped you off at sailing camp (yes, I said sailing camp), I started thinking how amazing you are. I think this often... because you are, but today, I thought she isn't just awesome, she is fierce.

As a parent, I think we all want the best for our children, we want better for you than we had. That's not to say I had it bad, believe me I didn't. You have many more opportunities than I had as a child, partly because of where we live, and partly because of how times have changed.

I think about you working toward your black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I watch you do your Bo form, and sometimes I hold my breath, okay- I almost always hold my breath.. but the confidence you have is breath-taking. I remember a tournament this year when one of your classmates was there- one of your fairly athletic classmates, he watched the first 10 seconds of your form and he just went "wow".. and he stood there and couldn't take his eyes off of you doing it.


And I watch you play lacrosse, you are a natural. One thing for sure, unlike you, I was not born an athlete, I have had to work at it- and I've worked at it for several years now, and finally feel like I can call myself one. You have such amazing body awareness. I was standing next to one of the Dads at one of the games, he had coached the year before and it was a close game and we all were on pins and needles and the ball was loose.. and he very quietly and confidently said about you- don't worry- she'll get it- she always comes up with it! And you did.



And sailing. I have to tell you it is odd as a parent to think you are sending your kid off to the ocean to sail a boat by herself. But you do it and you love it.. I can see your love for it in your eyes when you talk about it.

There are many amazing things about it, and I have only touched on some of your physical achievements- I don't need to remind you how you got high honors all 3 trimesters of your 6th grade year, or how you went to Space Camp with your classmates and adult chaperones who you didn't really know, and roomed with someone that you sort of knew, but not your best friend who was also on the trip.



How you asked your crush to dance at the social. And how you asked your friend's crushes (with their permission) to dance with your friends.

A parent worries.. okay, maybe not all, this parent worries, about all the things parents worry about, the things out of our control- the bad people in the world or the accidents that can happen and I am sure I probably always will worry about those things. But I look at you and I think of who you are becoming and I know why Beyonce calls herself Sasha Fierce... Sunshine, you are fierce, you are a human who will take on the world, a young lady who will become such a strong women that you will knock down walls, whatever they are that get in your way, and I will sit and watch you and I'll worry and be your biggest cheerleader.. but I will know how incredibly fierce you are and how successful you will be.. Sunshine Fierce!

Love-

Mom

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Where in, I Continue to Search for Inner Peace.

I had many mixed emotions about going to Alaska. It has always been a dream for me to go there- so much about it appealed to me, the outdoors, the geography, the geomorphology.  I was nervous about being away from my home for so long, I am by nature a home body.

I really couldn't actually believe it was happening. Even after a couple of days in Seattle. I think it finally hit me the first morning I ran on the ships deck.. and this was my view.

video



There were many things I was looking forward to on the trip, time with Sunshine and my Mom, the outdoors, being away, new adventures. I think a part of me hoped somewhere up there I would find some answers to some of the questions I have bouncing around in my head.

I don't know if I got answers to the questions but I do feel like I came back with a different kind of peace.

I am a New Yorker, I've lived in Maine for almost 2 decades- almost longer than I lived in New York, but I will always identify as a New Yorker. I have the lazy upstate NY accent where I say mi'in rather than mitten. I play mini golf, not putt putt, I know good pizza and good chicken wings and have killed black flies the size of small seagulls with my bare hands. At the same time, Maine and I get along quite nicely. I like the slightly slower pace with an under tone of stick to-it-iveness- you have to here- one never knows what the winters will bring, so you need to be prepared (don't get me wrong NY has winters- with lots of snow- but Maine's winters last for a good 6 weeks longer.- the Tulip Festival in Albany, NY is going on and we still have snow on the ground.)

One of the things I noticed about AK is that same sort of contact with the Earth, slow paced mojo going on, but you know everyone is thinking of the weeks until Winter arrives and what needs to be done to be prepared. But a raw ruggedness- I can think of no other way to say it than that it strikes me as an innate connection with the Earth.

Back in 2009, I wrote this. I think about that post every now and again. I think about finding that inner peace, that savor every moment mentality. Grab life by the horns and hold on. Which reminds me of this quote

 “Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the
intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well
preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,
chocolate in one hand, champagne in the other, body
thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming
“WOO HOO what a ride!”

So, I don't know if I've found savor every moment inner peace yet. I do think I'm closer than I've ever been. And that feels really awesome, to be getting rid of stuff (people and things) that don't make me feel content and in the moment. I probably will always struggle with this, because, as I recently said- I am a planner by nature.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Epic.



I’ve talked about this before, probably many times. I don’t see myself as a goal setter. In reality, I am. But not the kind of goal setter I think of when people ask are you a goal setter? I don’t have a 5 year or a 10 year plan. I’m a planner. Don’t get me wrong, my friends will attest to my Olympic Gold Medal winning planning abilities. I don’t see that as goal setting. I think of goals, as- I have this many widgets to get through this week (widgets= white papers, reports, actual widgets etc). So how do I chunk that- how do I get through X widgets in a week and meet that goal.

I set goals for races- I want to finish this race faster than the last one, or this course is hillier than the last one, so I only want to be 3 minutes slower. I also think that my propensity to be a planner can, at times, keep me from 'living in the moment' and enjoying it before I move on to the next thing.

Yet, every year I take on the New Years Resolution challenge many of us chose to present ourselves. I learned years ago not to turn this into a- I’m going to exercise every day or I’m giving up chocolate- as a Catholic- I can do the give up thing for Lent- 40 days is one thing.. a whole year.. heck no!

I am also the type of person who can easily fall prey to helping other people achieve their goals. This year, I think, was the first year I realized that I had inadvertently made my goals what someone else’s were. I am one to help out and be a cheer leader- but I realized my goals needed to be my goals, not tag along goals to help someone else. I needed to define my own goals.

Okay, let’s step back a second.. I know that it isn’t December 31st (although at this moment temperatures in the 30s sounds lovely!), and I’m not looking back on a year of how did I do? It is just past the middle of the year and I am taking an assessment.

So back to the News Years Resolutions.  I came up with 3 tangibles, 3 items that I could check off a list- what they are isn’t really important, what I realized about the goals I had chosen is important… what I realized about those 3 items was that in some way there was something about them that scared me.. they were a stretch for me because they were scary. It was in that moment that I realized my goal for 2013 would be to do as many things as possible outside of my comfort zone.

Somewhere in March, I think it was, I started to feel like this year held epic possibilities for me.. that stretching outside my comfort zone, doing things even when my feet were sweaty and my hands were clammy was laying out epic moments for me.

So to recap 2013 so far...

I ran a race I swore I would never run because it is in the middle of winter in Maine, it is 10 miles and is hilly. And did I say outside, in Maine in February?!?

I ran a 10k course that I have been afraid to run for 3 years because it is trail and it is hilly. I ran this trail race after days of rain, while it torrential down poured. At one point, my shoe got stuck in the mud and only my foot came back up.

I said no. Saying no is hard for me. (See taking on other people's goals above). I can so easily overbook myself with too many 'things' I feel obligated to do out of fear that I will disappoint someone, with little regard for what all the commitments mean to my life and my schedule. I can think of 3 times that I said, no, I can't do that, I don't want to do that. Each time was hard, but the freedom I felt when I was done was enough of a carrot that I will become less and less afraid of saying no.

I ran my first obstacle course race.

I fell in love. I had my heart broken. And for the first time, I didn’t doubt myself, I didn’t doubt my love (or his), I was sad, very sad, but I didn’t think of all the things I must have done wrong to end it. I sat uncomfortably in my sadness for awhile and took a deep breath.

I went on a trip with my daughter and my Mom to a place I have always wanted to visit. I touched water melting from a glacier; I touched ice from a glacier. I remembered in my heart why I loved my chosen major, why I loved geomorphology classes and why I could talk to you for hours about adiabatic heating and cooling.

I stood and looked in the mirror at my naked body, at my stretch marks, and my saggy breasts, at my muscles and at the sexy dents in my shoulders, and I thought how hard I have worked to have this saggy skin that no longer covers fat, to have the muscles that can run miles, and break boards and carry me through my day.

I ran 100 miles in a month. On day 15.. the remaining 50 miles seemed like 1000, and the 2nd to last day was one of the worst runs of my running life... and the last 3 miles were quiet and fast and perfect.

I ran a half marathon in sun that was unrelenting and heat that felt like it was 100 degrees. I ran a half marathon in wind gusts that topped 50 mph.

I ran at sea. I ran 18 miles at sea on a boat, 9 stories above the water. I watched the sunrise over the Alaska mountains while I ran. 

I have some other plans (funny there is that plan vs. goal thing) in store for the next few months. Not sure if I will get to all 3 of my original goals for this year, I am enjoying just being epic in my own moments… Can’t say I will ever learn to not be a planner.. but I think I am slowly learning how to find those moments of epicness and enjoy them.

Here is to being epic-ly awesome.