Happy UnBirthday

Another year, another birthday has passed. My birthday has never been a favorite day for me. I feel a sense of urgency to hurry up and make my life better. Lose the weight, be more present, get more sleep, declutter the house, etc. and do it all right now. Time is passing by and what in the hell do I have to show for it? What would my children and friends say about me and my life if I died today?

My grandpa also died on my birthday when I was 20 years old. We didn’t have a close relationship but my grandma (GG) and I are extremely close. She was so sad that he had died and at the same time pissed at him for dying on my birthday. GG didn’t want me to always have that memory.

Growing up, my birthday felt more like a burden than a blessing. Almost like some unexpected home repair that my parents had no interest in repairing or no means to do so. Actually, there were 2 birthdays that I truly believe my parents forget. I was turning 9 and then when I turned 14. No acknowledgment that I was born what so ever. I did, however, have one birthday party that I remember. I was turning 5 yrs old and it was a Burger King birthday party. This is the first time ( and only time) I remember waking up and being so excited that it was my birthday! I invited my entire kindergarten class and was so happy that kids showed up.

We had just moved back from North Carolina. My mom decided to move back and leave my dad in the middle of the night. My dad came looking for us and they worked things out. They have now been severely unhappily married for almost 39 years. This was the first ” I am leaving your Dad” memory that I can recall of several talks of separation, divorce and moving. Sorry, I digress…

Anyways, I am guessing ( now that I am a parent) that the famous Burger King birthday party was a way to distract me from the shit show that was/is my parents marriage. A nice distraction for the short blonde girl who had a southern twain that knew no one and was obsessed with Rainbow Bright.

Birthdays feel like New Years Ever to me. So much pressure to have a good time. Somehow a life changing event that occurs within 24 hrs. Usually it just feels like a shitty Monday to me but with extra pressure to fill the birthday void of the previous 30 some years. Questions of ” What did you do? What did you get?” give me anxiety. Its just another day to me but sometimes someone gets me a cake.

And I guess a shitty Monday is better with cake anyways.

Running with a purpose

I am no longer running the Chicago Marathon. This decision was not an easy one to make. I have hemmed and hauled for the past few months. The runs have not been easy. All of the long runs felt like I was getting a root canal.  Physically, I am exhausted. Averaging 4 hours of severely broken sleep is probably the reason. It feels almost like those newborn days again where I was only sleeping in 30-45 minute increments. Mentally, as of now, I can’t even see getting through a 5 mile run let alone 26.2 miles. Every week I would stare at my Hal Hidden schedule and feel angry that I would need to somehow get in 17 mile run. This is not the type of runner that I am. Not one that forces myself to run no matter what. Running was a stress relief for me not a stress inducer. being undertrained and overemotional is not how I want to be at the start line.

My dear friends daughter passed away on August 13 from a year long battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. P was on hospice for 4 weeks prior to her death. My heart is broken. I am angry, sad, depressed and kind of still in shock.

Giving myself grace, patience and letting go of anything that is causing me more stress is severely needed at this time. There is no doubt in mind that I will run another marathon- someday- just not one in 45 days…. and I am ok with that.  Now it is time to run for my broken heart, soul and spirit.

Until we meet again, Chicago.

 

The shittest 13.1 miles

It is my belief that every single run teaches you something if you are present and pay attention. Don’t let that smile fool you ( I am guessing  it is because I have a beer) Last Sunday, I ran the Cleveland 40th Anniversary half marathon. Let’s not mince words here… it was awful.  Every single mile was a struggle. I kept waiting and telling myself that the next mile will be better. Easier. Familiar.

The entire week was calling for thunderstorms. The morning as we were walking towards the start line was perfect. Blue clear skies and breezy. My attitude was upbeat and positive. A. goal was to come in somewhere between 2:00-2:10 B. goal was to just have fun C. goal was to cross the finish line. C was accomplished- barely.

My friend and neighbor, Jackie was running her first half. Jackie didn’t have a time goal in mind at all but wanted to run with friends to make it fun. Our neighbor and recent cancer survivor, Angie, was also running this half. One of my favorite human beings/yoga teacher/ best grown up girl friends, Erica was also running the half. We all lined up together with the idea that if you are feeling it and want to leave the squad, do so. Angie was having some breathing/allergy issues. Erica and I were very much undertrained. Jackie is a natural runner and was ready to tackle the day.

At mile 3, Erica needed to hit up the restroom and told us to go on without her. Mile 4 was a killer hill that I was not mentally prepared for. Cleveland Rite Aid marathon was stating over and over again about how the course would be flat this year. Um. What?!!??!?!?!  I will say, it was flat at the end but we endured a few killer hills until mile 8.

Angie fell back after the hill at mile 4. Jackie and I were holding a steady 9:00-9:30 minute mile pace until around mile 8. I was super excited when I looked at my Garmin and saw that at 6 miles we were about little under 1 hr. Mile 8 is when the wheels on the bus started falling off. It got humid. My mind was not focused. I felt nauseous. My legs felt like pudding. I saw my husband and kiddos at mile 9 and asked him to sent me all the energy he could. If my children were not present, I may have had my first DNF. I didn’t want them to see me give up.

At mile 9, I turned to Jackie and told her ” Batter up”. I asked her to please talk to me for the next mile. I would listen and interject if I could, but I needed to be distracted. Jackie did just that. At mile 10, I stopped to fuel. Around mile 11, Jackie needed to go to the restroom. I attempted to go too and had nothing but while we were in the bathroom, I said to Jackie ” I would be so happy if we saw Erica”. I came out of the bathroom and guess what?!?!?!?!?  Erica was right in front of me!  I almost started to cry. Instead I hugged and kissed her cheek and said ” Lets finish this and get a beer!” We all three ran together until mile 12. I could tell Jackie had more in the tank and begged her to go, promising her that I would find her at the finish line. Erica and I ran together stride by stride, blazing down the shoot and cross that line.

I think since I have started running, I have ran 13 miles or more, 15-16 times. Never have I ever felt that awful. Defeated. Tired. I don’t want to make excuses. A shitty run is a shitty run but I do think that if you have a shitty run and don’t learn anything from it, then the shitty run was pointless. This training cycle was a tough one for me. I missed 40 miles. Eating and hydrating was not on point at all. Sleeping was an issue as well. Mentally, I was not a runner. My mind was distracted with other things.

Chicago Marathon is 20 weeks away. Time to put in the effort. I don’t want to stand on another starting line not feeling like  gave it my all.

Moving Onward——->

 

 

What being off of Facebook for 54 days taught me.

I am not catholic but I have a lot of friends and family who are. This year for Lent, I decided to give up Facebook and Instagram. Here is what I have learned:

 

1- The first few days are really hard. Its weird how just like a smoker that has certain times in a day that they light up ( after breakfast, 2pm, etc), I realized that I had developed a habit of when I would log in. I would grab for my phone and only then to be reminded ” No Facebook”. I deleted the apps from my phone and the iPad which helped out.  The first 72 hours made me realize just how much of a habit social media was for me.

2- I actually looked forward to seeing my friends and family to hear what was going on with them and to share my world as well. Meeting up for runs, yoga, drinks, or a family dinner was exciting again.

3- Less anxiety, anger and stress. Facebook was getting to feel like watching the news for me. After watching the news, I often feel sad, discontent and lost. Difference of opinions is fine but shoving these opinions down someones throat is not. The only negativity I was experiencing was my own and even so, I was able to nip this in the bud because I didn’t have an audience to feel my woes with ( misery loves company). Also, I was not feeling anxious to “do this, buy that, run this fast, eat this food, be this mom”…. The daily voices that I allowed in my head to make me question my “enoughness” (I don’t think this is a word but oh well!) was silenced.  This was a huge realization for me. I didn’t realize how much I was allowing other peoples messages to dictate my day, intentions, goals, ands feelings.

4- My love for reading came back.  Instead of scrolling, liking, making comments, etc, my “free time” was spent with actual books. Over the Facebook break, I managed to read 3 nonfiction books and 2 fiction books.

5- I got a feel for who I truly wanted to communicate/spend time with and vice versa. Out of my 200 and some friends, I was communicating with maybe 10 of these folks.

6- Being more present with my kids, husband, friends and family. When I was making breakfast, I was not doing so while also checking my feed. When out to dinner, my phone was tucked away in my purse. Being present during a playground trip or even brunch with friends, was a wonderful experience. I was able to “be here now” without feeling like I was missing out on something that was not even involving me.

7- My life is not for everyone. Broadcasting pictures, things my kiddos said, new adventures I am taking on , etc. Why did I feel the need to share with “friends”?   What was I trying to gain from this? Attention, love, being liked more? Was I lonely? It made me realize that I was seeking something and made me contemplate why.

 

My no Facebook and Instagram streak ended on Monday. We had just returned from Florida that day and I was getting messages that I was being tagged in posts. Insomnia drove my interest to see what was going on. Since Monday, I have logged on to Facebook a few times but only allowing myself 5-10 minutes. I don’t think this will be a daily thing or a habit for me any longer. I may even give it up again.

For now, I will take the lessons that I learned and make them a daily practice. Something I recently read said  ” If something or someone is no longer working for you, give it up”. This just may be my new mantra.

 

I hate the age 2-4 years old.

I am writing this during my almost 3 yr old darling boys “nap”. It’s 2:19pm and I am just praying that he will sleep for like 43 minutes so he is not a total______ by 5:03pm.  We are also in the mist of potty training. ” MOMMMMMMMAAAAAAA. MOMMMMAAAAAAAAAA. I got to poop again (his little head up close screaming in the camera) !!!!!” This is the 3rd “poop” cry for help. I have no clue if he is actually pooping because he closes the door for “pri-a-ceeee ( privacy) and flushes the toilet before I can see what is going on. Which is hysterical since I have not went to the bathroom by myself in like 22 months ( Ok- I take that back… I did pee very very quickly during the Chicago marathon at mile 17 in a porta potty. Oh heaven!) I have also been in his room to fill the request of water, one more hug and room being too hot. This guy is a master manipulator with his blonde hair, blue eyes and eyelash for days.

I fear we are in the almost phase of no more naps. I can’t imagine how I will function with out this 1-3hr respite that I so very desperately need. DD napped until kindergarten and even then, she would sometimes come home and take a little 45 minute siesta ( she was half day kindergarten). I will be super excited for no nap in the summer when we are at the beach, park or waterpark. Its still March in Cleveland. Its 28 degrees today with rain expected for the next 13 days. Momma needs her time. Bad. My brain can’t play anymore trains, hockey or hoops.

2 weeks ago we got rid of the crib. He is now in half of my husbands bunk bed with is new Rogue One Star War sheets. I cried a little at the sight of him in his “Big Boy Bed”. G will be 3 in June. Preschool papers are in. He is registered to start the Tuesday after Labor Day. G will be going to the same place that M went. As I met the director to give my enrollment form and the downpayment, she was shocked that he was already preschool age. I also cried then. I will probably also cry when I no longer need to buy diapers ( maybe not now that I am thinking about that).

Why did I cry?  Is it because G is our last? Is it because I think I should have been more active with him- taking G to the zoo, park, beach more. Could I have been more patient- read one more book, given that 60th hug?  Maybe its because the ages of baby to preschool scare me. I feel like I have no control somedays ( most all days). Is it because this is solid factual truth that I am getting older? Am I where I should be at age 29 ( ok 37.)?  37 doesn’t seem too old but geez…I guess 40 is knocking on the door.

Every day I wish I could be more. More patient. More healthy. More of a fun mom. More of a better runner. More of a better friend, wife, daughter  ( insert the list that could keep going here_______).  I was just mediating before I started writing to attempt to distract me from G not napping. As I was setting up to type, something happened to let me know that I am enough.  ( This is my favorite saying from one of my favorite humans Glennon Melton Doyle). My daughters teacher ( whom I am OBSESSED with!) sent me an email today to let me know that they were talking about the meaning of the word brave. Each student had to give an example of this word. M said ” My Mom”. She went on to explain that I was brave because sometimes her brother ( G$) was mean but I still gave him hugs and played trains with him even after a timeout. She also mentioned that I was brave because I ran marathons.

Wow. I needed to read those words at that time. Thank you M, the universe and God. I needed the reminder that God ( or whomever you believe in) made me a mother to M and G for a reason.

Age  “almost 3 ” is not my favorite age but neither was mile 21 at the Chicago Marathon.  I finished that damn thing with a huge smile on my face and no doubt being transformed into a stronger person. This stage for me will be tackled how I plan to tackle the next marathon. Stay in the mile (minute) that I am in, rely on support to get me through  ( husband, family and friends) and lots of beer at the end ( same.)!

 

Ruminating

Another year has passed by so ever swiftly. I  make a conscience effort of  not living in the past but I do feel it is important to look back on the good, the bad and the ugly. This, for me, develops a stepping stone on areas of needed growth as well as holding some joy for the breathtaking moments that I will be sure to conjure up all my remaining living days.

Here is what I have learned in 2016.

-I need time by myself.  Neglecting this results in a pissed off mom, resentful wife and a not engaged friend. Furthermore, I need this daily. Gs nap time is such a precious piece of my day. This is my time to reboot and do whatever it is that I need to do. Nap. Read. Declutter. Watch a pointless TV show. Bake. Mediate. Sit outside in the quiet. I am well aware that the nap will be making an exit soon but knowing just how important this is to my being, I just know an alternative will be found. Waking up early in the morning to have some “me” time is also critical. I have to start my day before the kiddos rise. Christmas break was a wonderful respite and we did sleep in every single day. Now that school is back in session, my goal is to be up at least 1 hr ahead of everyone else. This ensures I get to have a hot cup of coffee, mediate and make my to do list.

-Running is part of who I am and denying this piece of me leads to toxic behavior. Truth be told, I still get giddy, nervous butterflies everytime I lace up. Sometimes more than others. I think this is because of the anticipation of what the run will bring for me. Sometimes it is a struggle with every single step. Others runs, it feels like I am an Olympian that could run an ultra without even trying. Every run is different and teaches a new lesson. After running the Chicago Marathon, I took a 3 month break from running ( well, everything). I ran maybe 4 times. These 4 times were social events just to see some of my dear running friends. Luck was on my side and I did get in the 2017 Chicago Marathon. To be honest, I did take a few weeks to contemplate if I wanted to do another marathon. Marathon training is intense. Other areas of my life go away. Resting, eating proper foods and following a strict training schedule dominates who I am for 10 months. Dear hubby is the lead duck on the weekends ( especially when the long runs hit the 15, 16,1 7, etc mile marker). After much consideration and even some daily praying, I want to run Chicago again. Running another marathon is good for me- body, mind and soul.

-I think I had a social media addiction. Facebook would be the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before bed. I would feel left out of the loop if I did not stay logged in and aware of what all my 200+ “friends” were doing. Kiddos and hubby would not get the full me because I was distracted by some other persons life other than being engaged in my own. The hours wasted on this makes me want to throw up. Guilt is still present. For lent a few years ago, I gave up Facebook and I remember reading so many books with the free time that I had.  While most of 2016 I was logged in, I am proud to say that the last few months I have definitely cut back on my social media time significantly. Enforcing a time limit has helped and some days I deem as no Facebook days.This makes me feel less cluttered and more engaged at home. I am now also excited to actually see friends and family because I have not seen every facet of the past 3 months documented on a timeline. The only reason why I do not think I will give up Facebook completely is because of my irun4buddy, Jacob. This is how we communicate and I post for him my runs with pictures, jokes, etc.

-The election brought up some hidden demons that have been a part of me for 30 years. I do not and will not get political now but I have to admit, I was shocked at what surfaced. It also provoked conversations, internal and external, on how to raise a daughter vs a son. I am still working through all of this and I think I will be for a while. Self reflection is a good thing.

-Following a vegan diet is best for MY body. I have dabbled in being vegan on and off for a few years now. When I am 100% on the “V train”, I feel my best. I get better sleep. My skin looks freaking amazing. I actually cut about 30-45 seconds off of my overall pace. My clothes fit. I have a sex drive. All and all, vegan is best for me. I am not a preachy vegan. I truly believe that everybody needs to find what works best for their body. My one friend swears by Paleo. Her results are the same as when I am vegan.  For the last 5 months, I have kinda eaten anything that I have wanted too. The results are not pretty. I hit the resist button a few days ago and I already feel amazing. This is a work in progress for me but knowing what makes me feel the best is such a huge step.

-Cancer truly does suck. Seeing one of best friends get up everyday and help her daughter fight is heartbreaking and sometimes even takes the breath from my lungs. To continue to see just how brave, resilient and strong P is, is inspirational. This also keeps her parents going ( at least on most days) and fighting the good fight. Some days the diagnosis seems unreal. The desire to skip all of this and to get back to “normal” is an overwhelming feeling. P is here to teach us all. The lesson is not yet revealed but I know it will be. Maybe it is to be more grateful, more loving, more resilient. Maybe its all of that. Or none. To be a witness to so much strength will forever be life changing.

2017 brings with it a much clear perspective on goals that I want to accomplish. Instead of running on the hamster wheel or having most days feel like groundhog day, I feel clarity, focused and determination.

Cheers to the New Year! Hoping 2107 brings to you whatever is needed in order for your life to be amazing!

 

 

Letter to my almost 7 year old daughter

Dear M,

Hi. It’s me, Momma. I just wanted to take the time to write you this letter because sometimes in the quiet of the night when I lay awake, I think of things that I want to tell you. When morning comes, we get in to the hustle of the day and moments to share some of my insights are replaced by asking you if you want peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch.

You, my darling, are simply incredible. You love with your whole heart. I still will never forget the day that I just realized how truly loving that you are. You were 3 yrs old and in the mist of hand, foot and mouth ( In my opinion, THE worst virus ever). I had rented a few DVDs from the library for you to watch. We were watching Clifford and I went to get you a popsicle from the freezer. When I returned, you had tears streaming down your face. I thought your throat was super sore and asked you if you wanted another cough drop. Your 3 yr old self then explained to me that you were sad for Clifford. The episode was  the one where Clifford ran away from home because he thought Emily Elizabeth and family could no longer afford to feed him because he eats so much food. Your heart hurt for Clifford. You didn’t want him to feel sad.

To this day, you still display this kind heart ( thats what I call it). Currently, in first grade, there is 1 student. A boy. He has no friends. The other classmates exclude him. He is a little rough around the edges and is often aggressive in his actions. YOU have made him a little softer . His mom, who is very much aware of his behavior, pulled me aside recently. She told me that this boy has had a really ,really bad year. They had to move in the middle of the night to escape an abusive situation right before the school year. The father has never been in the picture. Mom is working 2 jobs and going to school at night. She told me that this boy gets up in the morning just to see you at school. He tells her that you are the only one that is nice to him, besides your amazing teacher.

I am beyond proud of you.

Of course I want you to get good grades and exceed in school. Of course I want you to participate in whatever physical activity and try your best ( pretty please sweet baby Jesus make my gal a runner so I have a partner to run with!).

To me, being kind and spreading love in this somewhat scary big world tops anything successes that you may accomplish.

Its easy to teach skills to make you a great student and practice will take you to higher places in sports BUT it is hard to teach being kind. That is in your soul. In your being. Being kind, caring, loving and giving will take you farther in this life than anything.

My hope is that as you continue to grow, your kindness will grow with you.  The older you get, the bigger the kindness may be needed. Maybe it is to help a friend out who is in bad spot. Maybe it is for going against the grain and standing for what you believe in. Maybe its leaving a relationship that is no longer good for. (Being kind to yourself is critical as well).

Regardless, I am here. I am here to walk with you on your journey. Step by step. Always.

Thank you God for choosing me to be M’s mother. I just know that she will teach me more than I will ever teach her… she already hasmads-kind.