Monday, January 30, 2012


Between drug induced semi-sleep episodes, cough drops, Airborne and the shuffling of kid duties, I've decided that I'm a miserable patient. 

I don't do being sick very well. 

I sulk.  I complain and in general, I hate staring at the paint drying on the wall thinking of all of the things that I could be doing, that I should be doing, that I'd rather be doing.

And yet, do you notice that when the shit hits the fan and you're absolutely down for the count that creativity abounds.  You're stuck with yourself, your thoughts, and well, a nice big box of kleenex.

So, I started thinking about all of the things that I want to do when I get out of this stupor.  The first is to say, "thank you" to the people who stepped up.  The second is to run, and run, and run, and run.  And the third is to create a vision board. 

My best friend did this many moons ago and it helped her both to visualize and to keep front and center those goals/dreams that were most important to her.  Up on my dream board...a picture of Tuscany, a picture of me crossing the finish line at the Half Marathon race, a bikini, and a debt line that equals zero.

Here's to chasing my dreams...achoo...just as soon as I chase away this damn cold.

Another Day in Paradise

What a weekend...

Mid-day on Saturday, I started to get sick.  It was probably the result of stress.  I'd finished co-organizing a large event and was grateful that it went well, and that it was done.

I spent all day Sunday in bed while my rock star husband made pancakes, schlepped kids off to the zoo, taught the baby to walk, and brought me tea and ibuprofen around the clock.

And now, its Monday morning and I still feel like shit...not a little bit of shit, but a big old helping.  Sneezing, coughing, aching, sore throat...I sound like a commercial.

And yet, life goes on.  Kids still need to get to school and activities.  The baby needs to test out her new walking moves, the dishes continue to pile, we need to make a meal for 25 at church tonight and somehow disinfect the hell out of this joint so that no one else takes the fall.

This is the joy of raising little ones while life happens.  I'm getting ready to stand on my head and ingest liquid crack soon all in the name of rapid recovery.  Because unfortunately, we can't afford for mama to be down for the count much longer.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy 100

I'm writing my 100th post for "Kelly's Hot Mess."

I started this blog four months ago and am so glad that I did.  Apparently, I had a lot that I needed to get off my chest, out of my head, and into the world.

What I didn't expect to find was the unbelievable camaraderie that would ensue with each post.  It has been so encouraging to hear from those of you mothers, wives, fathers, husbands...friends who can relate.  I'm grateful to know that I'm not alone.

I'm also thankful that I've taken the thoughts from my heart beyond my journal and moved them to a more communal setting where they can take on a life of their own.

Thank you for sharing in my journey, for cultivating our friendship and for reminding me that even though we may be miles away...we're always connected.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Gift of the Here and Now

You know what's debilitating?

Not being, I don't mean at my kitchen table writing this, I mean in the present.

If you're anything like me, you replay memories/images from the past and reel toward anticipation/expectation for future events. 

You have an idea of how you want things to go down and you start to play out the scenario in your head.  And then pretty soon you've relived a past event or created a fictional future event so many times, that you've completely missed out on whatever is right in front of you.

Why is it so hard to stay in the present?  To be aware of the breath?  Mindful of the moment.  Content in the now.  Because really, that's all that we have.  No more, no less.

It's funny how powerful that the mind is...the more that we detach from the body and stay cerebral, the more that we can recreate things that may have never existed or create fear for future dilemmas that may never transpire.  And yet again, then we have lost the moment yet again...unable to retrieve the present.

Running has served as a powerful tool for me to shift gears.  I have no choice but to be connected to my legs, my heart, my arms, my breath, and the motivation in my mind.  I'm grateful to be smack-dab in the now when I'm in motion....slowly re-learning how to appreciate the gift of the here and now.

Him or Me

He leaves before 8am and takes the oldest to school.

He contends with stressful deadlines and sometimes frustrating clients.

He's responsible for a good number of billable hours and documentation.

I chauffeur kids to and from school, ballet, music, the grocery store, and play dates.

I make meals, draw baths, monitor spelling tests, and make sure that the house is in some stage of order. And, I do dishes...lots of dishes.

He listens to needy clients.  I try to tolerate a whiny, teething baby.

He negotiates contracts.  I negotiate with a 4 going on 35-year old.

He utilizes technology for efficiency and I use it to stay in touch with the world, so I'm not so isolated.

Sometimes, I miss meetings, an office, a business card, a strategy session, a project deadline.

Many times, he misses staying in pajamas, making french toast, and face painting.

So, who has it harder?  Him or me?  On any given day, we commiserate about the challenges of parenting three little ones while holding down the fort and staying afloat in a job.  2012 marks five-years that I've been at home full-time, I can hardly believe it.  Where has the time gone?  Changing diapers, making bottles, and reading stories, I suppose.  I'm certain that I wouldn't want to switch places with my husband permanently, but the truth is being at home day in and day out, is exhausting, isolating, and insanely beautiful. 

I guess we'll both just keep plugging away with the recognition that keeping score is helpful for no one.  Everyone has a role to play.  We both just wish on most any day that we could be in Tuscany kidless...just for a little while.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Time Rich

When someone says, "Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands,"  it's usually a negative connotation...insinuating that you have nothing better to do...nothing meaningful or important in your world.

Not sure how that transformation happened in our society.  Because really, isn't the wealthiest man the one who has time...not the one who is constantly scrambling to get another thing crammed into the 24-hours that we all have?

Lately, I've had an abundance of time on my hands.  I think this is because it's winter.  We're not outdoors nearly as much as we are when it's sunny and warm.  I've been exercising early in the morning which has added an extra two hours to my day that I'm usually in bed.  And, the added energy has kept my waking hours more productive.

So, I've been writing in my head.  More than my blog.  I've been writing a short story of sorts.  I'm hoping that it can morph more into a novel...but it just seems to be pouring out.  And my big question is, what am I to do with this?  I mean really, it's not like it's going to get published or that I have the cash to self-publish, maybe I'll attach it by chapter here.

And if I do, you'll have to let me know what you think. 

Down with Guilt

I've been feeling guilty lately.

"Shocker", my friend JM will tell you.  "Kelly is the worst offender when it comes to guilt.  She'll feel guilty for you, me, herself and anyone else you want her to."

And, it's true.  I don't know why, but I often feel guilty about those things I should do, those things I haven't done, those things I should have done differently and those things that are still on the radar. 

I'm sure, its just my deep Catholic roots shining through.

That said, to hell with Guilt...literally.  I mean, what purpose does it serve.  If it would motivate me toward positive change or action, well, then that's another thing.  But often, guilt simply leaves me feeling paralyzed and indecisive. 

And honestly, in life all things happen for a reason.  If we're willing to be quiet with ourselves for a brief moment, we'd see that there are lessons to be learned, awareness to be gained, enlightenment to be had.

So, if today, you're in the shower, your car, your office, your kitchen....and you're feeling bad for something that you did or didn't do...let it go.  Focus on that which can and will propel you towards positive change and the rest, well as JM would say, "Focker it!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Political Juggernaut

The other night we watched, "The Ides of March."  As expected, it was a brilliant flick.

But then again, you don't have to twist my arm to see Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and George Clooney in action.  They always deliver...especially, when Clooney was responsible for screenplay, direction, and production.

Somewhere between the movie and the endless campaign fodder that seems to spew on every media outlet...I find myself exhausted and sadly, I think the flick really drove that message home.

There was a day when I cared significantly about the in's and out's of who I was voting for...their education, experience, stance on a myriad of issues, their voting record, their private lives, and I was expecting daily dial-in's on the matter.

Now, I'm sick of hearing about Newt's open marriage, Mitt's closed purse strings, Obama's lack of results, and Paul's idealistic notions. 

And so, I rarely turn my favorite talk radio programs on...I'm not even really interested in my favorite night time Daily Show/Colbert Report mockery of the candidates.  I just don't care.

If there's one thing the "Ides of March" brought home, it's that the political machine is all about what it takes to get the candidate elected...not what it takes to reform, change, or ensure that the average Joe shares any commonality with the elected...just what it takes to get the winning ticket.  Disgusting.

So for now, I'm having a lot of dance parties in my kitchen listening to playlists of music I haven't gravitated to for a while.  I'm a bit happy with my head in the sand.

Bumping into an "Ex"

I'll never forget it. 

I was sitting in the library reading to my kids.  They were engrossed in the story of Curious George  and I was doing all of the voices.

And then, I heard a voice that wasn't mine.  "Hi there."  It was him and we hadn't seen each other in almost ten years.  It was a former boyfriend with his little boy. And as I introduced my children to him, "Sam/Kate...this is Mr. X,"  my heart was about to leap out of my chest.

The other night, my girlfriends and I were having drinks...taking a trip down memory lane...recounting stories of our previous relationships.  It was a funny, sweet, tipsy dialogue about the beauty of love.

Doesn't everyone have a story?  Rarely do you marry the first love, the first kiss, the first relationship.  Most of the time, you have an "ex" (even though, I hate that word).

And no matter how old you are...17, 18, 19, 36, still want to look good when you happen to bump into them at the most random of locations, like the library.  In some silly, sophomoric, ridiculous way you want to viscerally say, "I still got it going on..."  And, for a moment, make them wonder.  I think it's all very human.

But the older I get, I am grateful for the ability to say thank you for being in my life, for making a difference, and best of luck.  And then, the feisty part of me thinks..."Ha, I always knew you'd go gray first."  Just because I can't help myself.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


She said, "I've been thinking of you, how are you doing with all of this?"

She said, "I'm on my way out, can I pick up a gallon of milk for you?"

She said, "You can do this, I know you can, I believe in you."

Since I've been a full-time stay-at-home mother, I've forged some pretty amazing friendships with women who are beautiful, generous, inspiring and loyal.  They have served as a support network, a beacon when times have been tough in my marriage and in parenting, and a lifeline when I've been in a pinch.

Women are inherently social creatures.  We love our husbands, but we rely on our girlfriends to tell it like it love something when we do, to hate something as much as we do, and to commiserate with us when the scale hurts, the neighbor is a bitch, and the only thing that feels good is a glass of wine.

Here's to all of the women in my life who continue to inspire me, to challenge me, to nurture me and to teach me the true meaning of friendship.  Without you, I don't know where I'd be.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Beauty of a Kiss

"A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous."

I ran across this quote the other day and fell instantly in, because it was said by Ingrid Bergman and two, because it so aptly describes why we kiss...because when there are no words, the lips are really the best way to connect.
Sometime ago, my 6-year old son Sam and I were on the couch watching a show.  A jewelry commercial came on and two actors kissed.  He proposed, she said yes, and they smooched it up.  Sam was grossed out.  He turned away and couldn't wait for Transformers to come back on the screen.  And I thought, little boys are so turned off by romantic gestures...when does the shift take place and the kiss become anticipated?

Because really, the kiss is the best part of all the ensuing craziness.

So, I tried to explain to Sam that someday, he would fall in love and want to show a special someone that he loved them...and that when words won't do, the best way to connect is to give a kiss.  He couldn't imagine it.  I'm sort of glad.

Until then, he'll look away and I'll fall in love with Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, the look before and then ah, the anticipated kiss.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Smiling at the Finish Line

When we arrived, it was cold.  Really cold. 

I was second guessing myself, especially when I saw the other racers who really looked the part.

I pinned my number on and said, "Here we go, what have I got to lose."

We began the trail run on an insane hill climb which definitely got my blood flowing and gave me a swift kick in the pants...the hills kept coming and I kept going.  I was shocked.  No ear phones, just the sound of my breath, my feet hitting the dirt, and the view of the lake trail.

There was a guy in front of me that paced himself perfectly such that I could never seem to catch him, but he was always within eye sight.  He guided me the entire way over the stream crossing, the logs, the turns, and ultimately down the insane hill to the finish line.

I thought that I would cry when it was done.  But instead, I felt elated.  Hugely elated.  I did it.  Five miles. I accomplished something that I truly did not think that I could.  I was over the moon.

And now that I'm exhausted, I can only think about when I get to try it again...after a good nights sleep.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Strong, Beautiful, Fearless

Tomorrow I run my first race.  It's a five-mile trail run in the middle of January.

I've been running, but have yet to do five miles straight without walking, so I'm nervous.  Like, really nervous.

And when I get anxious, I dream...technicolor style.  Last night, I was running, running, and running and I was lost beyond belief.  Alone and lost.  Freaked out, I woke up and thought, "What the hell have I gotten myself into to?"  And then I thought, "I can do this."  "I can absolutely do this."

For good measure, I got some decent wool running socks, a good pair of gloves, and my hair colored this morning.  Because, if I die and am found, I want to look good trying.  Every woman knows exactly what I'm talking about.  No one wants to be corpse-like with shitty roots.

Throughout this journey, I've adopted the mantra....Strong, Beautiful, my theme for 2012.  The ball is rolling.  The weight is coming off.  My muscles are getting stronger.  And, the fear is still there, but I'm slowly learning to leverage it to my benefit.  And the stronger I get, the sexier, more beautiful that I feel, especially in the face of fear.

So, here's to the race tomorrow.  You and I are doing step at a time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Kate

It's funny how the things your parents said come back to haunt you.

When I was growing up, my mom use to incessantly remind me that she was the mother and I was the daughter and that I should pay her a little respect.  As I got a bit arrogant in my teen years, I told her that she needed to earn my respect first.  I spent a good chunk of time being grounded mostly for my cocky attitude and my equally spiteful tongue.

And now, I have a four-year old daughter who is giving me a run for my money.  She started reading at the age of three, which means that I can no longer spell words aloud that I don't want her to hear.  She mimics my verbage and enjoys telling me on a regular basis that she's not interested in engaging my questions.

Most recently, we were at Target and she asked, "If I'm good while we're shopping, can I get a toy?"  To which I replied, "Not today." and she followed up with an immediate, "That's jacked."

She's also been fascinated with anatomical body parts.  She's known from a young age that she has a vagina and has no problems asking questions about it in public or making comments in front of her friends.  When she was three, she asked me why I had a spiky vagina and then asked her friend if her vagina tickles right before she goes potty too?

Kate is a magical, remarkable, beautiful, handful of a child...which is exactly what I'm sure my mother must have thought of me.

As she grows and discovers what is most important to her, my hope is that she never loses her strong sense of self while at the same time curbing her acidic approach.  I have a feeling that we have many battles ahead of us.  I hope we can battle intelligently, kindly, and ultimately, lovingly.  Because right now, I sort of want to kick her the most loving way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cultivating Suffering

In my freshman year of undergrad, I knew that a wanted to major in philosophy.

I told my folks that it was a legitimate vehicle to get to law know the whole development of critical, analytical thinking skills...but the truth is, I just really loved delving into the minds of amazing thinkers...especially, the eastern ones. 

Which is why when I stumbled upon a Thich Nhat Hanh passage the other day, I was instantly transported back to my tiny dorm room, my idealistic thoughts, and my dreams of saving the world.

The present day passage is from one of his newer books, "Your True Home" and goes something like this...

"The tendency to run away from suffering is there in every one of us.  We think that by seeking pleasure we'll avoid suffering.  But this doesn't work.  It stunts our growth and happiness. Deeply connecting with our pain is the only way to truly cultivate compassion and love."

And here I am meditating yet again on beautiful, powerful thoughts that seem to name my life completely.  I'm being stretched thinly.  I'm barely hanging on trying to be all that I can be.  And yet, I'm certain that in these very experiences of suffering, frustration, exhaustion, weakness, and vulnerability that light is being shed and I am growing.  I am connecting.  I am being refined.

So instead of running from the craziness of it all....I should be running toward it.  Embracing it.  Cultivating the suffering, so as to better feel the love.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Choosing Courage

Not long ago, I read a story to my children about courage.

The protagonist, a little boy named Max, tells his father that he wishes he could be brave and strong like him...but that all he feels is fear.  He's afraid of the dark.  Afraid of the boy who lives down the block.  Afraid of the monster in his closet.  Afraid, afraid.

His dad tells him, "Max, true bravery comes when you are most afraid and choose to face your fear anyway." 

I've been afraid a lot lately.  Afraid of dropping lots of balls that I have up in the air.  My jewelry business.  My running plan.  My family's needs.  Volunteer work.  You name it, I'm feeling vulnerable.

I signed up to run my first official race this Sunday.  It's a 5-mile trail run in the middle of January.  I know, what the hell was I thinking?  I have no idea what I'm getting myself into and the truth is I feel much like Max with all of these monsters under my bed.

Searching to face my fear head on...I'm working on honoring the fear, but choosing action anyway....harnessing my inner lioness.  Bring it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creatures of Impatience

We're all creatures of impatience.

We want what we want now.  It's just how we're made. 

So at the gym this morning, I turned to my girlfriend and said, "It's gonna happen, right?"  And she turned to me and spoke the truth, "If you stay the course, absolutely.  It's just a painfully slow process."  And, she's right.

For most anything in life, we just have to be willing to put the time in and to wait.  Typically its when we decide that we want to outrun the clock that we get messy.  We cut corners.  The quality of our work suffers. 

I know that I'll reap what I sow.  I'm just trying to figure out how to enjoy the journey, particularly when I can so clearly see the goal.  I know what she looks like.  I know what she feels like.  I know who she is.

And, so I'll continue to hearken back to the prayer I say each morning as the alarm goes off at 4:30am...please give me the strength to be patient and to believe in me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crazy Stupid Love

Last night, my husband and I watched, "Crazy Stupid Love."

You know, the flick with Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Julianne Moore that despite the sort of predictable premise was hysterical and somewhat thought provoking.

It got me thinking both about my own dating experiences in my 20's and my kids.

I was pretty lucky.  I dated men who were good guys and for the most part, really good to me.  Doesn't mean that my heart didn't break, that I wasn't disillusioned from time to time, or that I didn't jump into the deep end a little too quickly.

That said, while I was sad to be one of the last of my girlfriends to be "the bride" and the "mommy,"  I'm grateful that I went to undergraduate school far enough away that I couldn't come home on the weekends.  That I studied abroad in a place where I could barely speak the language.  That I lived by myself in an apartment that was my responsibility.  That I waited tables at night while working a $20,000 secretarial job during the day realizing that majoring in Philosophy only gets you so far.  And that I went to graduate school and places around the country by myself before getting married and having kids in my 30's.

So, in a weird way.  I want the same for my kids.  Not necessarily for their hearts to break.  Although, I'm sure that's inevitable.  I want them to have lots of time and room for test the waters, love big, experiment, go crazy, explore, fall down, get back up...before mortgage payments and middle-of-the-night feedings.

Who knows who they will fall in love with...I just hope that it's themselves first before they give over fully to another.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."   (albert camus)

I stumbled across this quote the other day and thought, "We're all in shackles...of one sort or another...we're all bound."  Bound by our should's, our shouldn'ts, our belief systems, our assumptions, our boxes, our family upbringings, our misgivings, our philosophies, our religions.  We're all imprisoned.

How do we become truly free and more importantly, how do we release our judgements and allow others the same luxury to simply be who they are?

Political campaigns, posturing, positioning, commercials, right, left, then, the end of the day, who gives a shit?  I mean, really.  Don't we all basically want the same things?  The opportunity to love and to be loved.  The ability to take care of our families.  To wear a red shirt if it tickles our fancy or to kiss a woman, if I'm a man...or a woman.

I'm exhausted by the fact that we live in the "freest" country on the face of the earth, but because we're so entrenched in our own boxes (thinking that makes us safer)...we've bound ourselves tighter than we could have imagined.

Let's give ourselves permission to first rebel, ultimately to live and simultaneously, afford our neighbor the same opportunity...we might all feel a little closer to free.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Question of Faith

I've always fancied myself a planner.

In most scenarios, I try hard to conservatively predict the way that things will, as to have a back-up plan when they don't.

However, the very best experiences, memories, and opportunities I've had in my life have come when I've truly given over my fear, hopes, expectations and desires to God.  Rarely do I know what's best...nor, do I understand how the experience of today fits into the past or what the future has in store.

I have a really, really dear friend who is stepping out with all she has, in faith.  In an attempt to be faithful, she's giving over her family situation, her home, her livelihood and their future plans to God.  She figures, what do they have to lose?  It was never really theirs to begin with and in the end, they're limited in their capacity to, why not?

Her choice amazed me.  I have always, always struggled with surrendering the desires of my heart.  Somehow, I seem to think that I can make it work all on my own, if I just do this or that.

So, is it irresponsible to be guided by faith?  Is it foolish to think that God knows better?  Is it impossible to fully surrender? 

And yet on the other hand, how much deeper, richer, more satisfying, joy-filled might our lives be if we chose to release and to simply believe?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Act of Integrity

I am passionate about integrity.

I don't think that it's something we possess rather, it's something that we quietly and consistently earn over time.  It's found in our actions.  Not in our words.

It's the things we do when no one's looking and the things we don't.  It's the choices we make when we could go a different direction and the ones we won't engage in because there's nothing good that could come of it.

I'm also a firm believer in the fact that building integrity in our relationships is a journey.  It's something that we must practice and nurture.  We can't expect to arrive.  And, we shouldn't ask for accolades.  It should simply be the way that we live.

My last boss in the corporate world before I left to stay home with my children was one of the most integrity-filled individuals that I have had the pleasure of knowing.  He showed up early, stayed late, quietly mentored, treated others often better than they deserved and made things happen.  He was kind and fiercely loyal.  And when it came time to give my resignation he said, "I'm proud of you.  It's the most important job you'll ever have."  His is an example that I can only hope to emulate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Going Back to Work?

I love the grocery store.

In my neighborhood, I end up bumping into friends, neighbors and sometimes, folks that I haven't seen in years.

Today, I ran into a friend who back in the day was a volunteer for a youth development program that I, he runs a huge human services agency in town.  It was great to trade stories, talk about our families and wish each other well.

Before we checked out, he asked, "Are you going back to work when the kids go to school?"  And with a smile alluded to the cost of my private liberal arts education(s).  I laughed and said, "Probably...but who knows."  I'm of course, still paying for my pricey degrees and so, it would behoove me to do so.

But then I got to thinking...if I do go back full-time to anything professionally...I've got to be as gut-wrenchingly passionate about it as I am about my family...because I refuse to participate in the corporate political bull shit again, simply for a nice pay check.  I won't do it.  I'll stay in my tiny house.  Drive our cars into the ground.  And minimize expenses so as not to get stuck paying that master.

So, on this arctic day, I'm wondering, what would I do, if I wasn't doing this?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dreamers Unite

It's interesting.

When you start to operate from a place of possibility and abandon the position of fear, you discover that two kinds of people flock toward you...those who provide hope and encouragement and the consummate naysayers.

I have a few friends in my life who are attempting some pretty insane dreams.  They've decided that there's no time like the present, they're not getting any younger, and well, opportunity, why not?  They've been met with resistance and some not-so-subtle ugly comments by those who should be helping them to drive it home.

Why?  Why would anyone discourage another from pursuing their vision...their "pie-in-the-sky."  Fear, jealousy, insecurity, bitterness.  All of these words come to mind.  But in the end, they're not important.

What is most important for the dreamer is to surround yourself with people who will help you build the dream...not to placate those who won't with rationalizations or justifications for your actions.

Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.  Today is the day to decide that we are all guilty by association.  Who do we want hanging on our door step?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


There are moments that if I'm really quiet, I can feel the blessings in my life.

This morning at the grocery store was one of them.

The cupboards were getting bleak, so Kate (4), Claire (1) and I went to grab some essentials.  Nothing unusual, Kate held the pen and checked off the items on the list while Claire gummed a short bread cookie and I gathered the loot.

Part way into the ritual, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kate kissing Claire on the top of the head and whispering "I love you."  Claire was all smiles and I started to tear up.

Kate asked me in the car if we would always live in our house.  "Like forever, " I replied.  "Yes, in our home," responded Kate.   "Well, Papa and I might live in our home forever, but you, Sam and Claire will one day have your own homes with your families," I tried to explain.  "Oh, well, that's okay, I'm fine at our home, " declared Kate.

I'm grateful that for now, our children want to hang with us, even if their love is a little overwhelming and exhausting.  Because the truth is, somewhere between their tween and teen years, we won't be cool.  And they probably won't be kissing each other on their foreheads and they'll threaten to move to Mars because we're so unfair and ridiculous with our expectations.

Blessings abound.  I just have to remember to pay attention and soak them in.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Taking Care of Each Other

This afternoon I had an opportunity to have coffee with a man who is making change.

Positive change in the lives of children who have been bounced from home to home with often little or no hope for the future.

I received an email around the holidays asking if I would meet to talk about ways that he could gain greater awareness for foster children in the Omaha community and connect these young people with programs that would help them to get a 'leg up.'  I was only too happy and wondered if I would have anything to contribute.

I was appalled to learn how many 14-19 year old children are living alone...not literally.  They may be in a foster home, but often it can feel as though their only value is a check to their temporary guardians.

Our conversation made me think of my own children...who had been driving me crazy right before I left.  Sam (6) and Kate (4) have been fighting incessantly for days.  Claire (1) is teething and can't go a few feet without whining at my heels.  I actually said over the weekend that I would be willing to sell them to the highest bidder. 

Life is hard.  Unfair.  Filled with pain.  But the truth is, I am grateful that our family is intact.  I pray that if you are connected to a child who is in a placement scenario or a foster home that you would reach out, connect.  Let him/her know that they are valuable, loved, needed, wanted.  And that there is a chance for change.  We all just have to decide to take care of each other.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Son of a #$%*&!


Heart rate monitor/Garmin...check.

Hat, gloves...check.



I had most everything I needed for a decent run this morning.  I wasn't going to kill myself.  I just wanted to do 3 miles and be home in a half an hour.  Seemed doable.  Until, my feet hit the pavement and a mile into it, I got really angry.

Why in the hell is this so hard for me?  I have a goal in mind with a plan.  I have a ton of family/friend support.  The weather is breathtaking for a January morning.  I live near lots of great places to gander at while running.  What is wrong with me?

Half-way into my moping, I realized that for the most part, my life is a series of hurry up and waits.  No lie.  Parenting little ones is an extreme lesson in letting go otherwise, you will literally go stir-crazy if you think that anything is on your time table.  So, when it comes to running, I don't know what to do with myself.  Do I start slow?  Do I get cooking out of the gate?  Do I pace myself or go balls to the wall until I pass out?  And more than do I release and try to just endure?  Because running, at least long distances, is not a hurry up and wait game.  It's a fluid, flowing, get comfy, because we're gonna be here a while deal.

I know exactly why I was intended to run this race.  I've got lots to learn about myself, much of which I have yet to comprehend.  I'm grateful for the pain even though it sucks in the interim.

"I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. " Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Wisdom of Maurice Sendak

I've long been a fan of Maurice Sendak, beloved children's author and illustrator (most notably of "Where The Wild Things Are.")

So, I was thrilled when I caught an interview that Terry Gross (host of NPR's "Fresh Air" program) conducted with him this past fall on his latest book "BUMBLE-ARDY."

At 83 years young, Sendak is feeling his age...but as he claims, in a good way.

A few years ago, he lost his partner of 50 years, Eugene.  Recently, he's been saying goodbye to friends like his long-time publisher and family members like his brother.

An atheist, Sendak finds his joy in writing/illustrating, traveling, listening to music and engaging in life.  In an interview he did with a UK publication, "The Guardian," he said, "I refuse to lie to children.  I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence."

As Sendak continued with Gross, he talked about the power of growing old and staying young.  He claims that the beauty lies in realizing that life is about living and loving in all of its messiness....and there's no one that does it better than children.  There's no need to lie to them about the monsters that exist in the world or the unfairness of circumstances.  They accept it and find a way to still be kings and tame the unruly beasts.  They find a way to make magic.

There will come a day when we will all die.  So, why not choose to make magic today.  To embrace what we've been given and to create that which we cannot see.  Because as Max so aptly says, "And now, let the wild rumpus start!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

65 Degrees in January

When you wake up on a January morning and the projected temperature for the day is 65 degrees and you live in Omaha, Nebraska, you scream, "Hell yes!" and then you find your running shoes, your stroller, your bike or your happy feet and you galavant outdoors for a very long time.

And that's just what my four-year old, Kate and my one-year old, Claire and I did.

My husband had a fun idea to take the girls on a photography scavenger hunt.  He gave Kate her camera and enlisted her to shoot via the lens:
  • 3 animals
  • 4 different types of trees
  • something to do with sand
  • 1 funky rock
Equipped with a water bottle, a back-up bag of almonds and her kid sister, we hit the road.

Our first stop on the way to a really beautiful park, was Shirley, the 3-legged dog.  The jury's out as to who was more excited to meet the other.  But either way, Shirley became our first subject of the day.  And then, we found Baxter.  Or rather, Baxter found us.  Claire dropped her shoe and Baxter's human kindly brought it to us.  That served as another "camera-ready" moment.

And then, multiple trees with varying leaves, buds, and branches created an ongoing fixation.  It's funny how you really don't pay attention to nature in the winter.

Our sand image came from a make shift sand castle that Kate created with a friend that called himself "Two."  His name was really Max, but he just turned two years old and insisted on calling himself by his age.

And finally, our last animal was a white poodle named Sophie.  We simply photographed her rear.  She was too fidgety to hold still for Kate's master photographic skills.

We're still on the lookout for a rock.  What a marvelous way to spend a morning in January!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whole Foods or WalMart

I'm sort of frustrated these days by my grocery experience.

Tonight, I found myself at 4pm strolling through Whole Foods to grab spinach, artichoke, cashews, goat cheese and basil.  I was making a cashew encrusted chicken breast salad with crostini for my family.

My bill after adding a gallon of whole milk for the baby, some additional veggies and a baguette was $53.  I can't put a price tag on the serenity of my experience or the good feeling I had putting my baby in the grocery cart or feeding her a sample pineapple chunk and orange slice.

Because we subsist largely on one income, it's really hard to spend hundreds of dollars a month for a family of 5 on groceries.  And yet, I can think of no better use of my money than to feed my family with good food and to maintain my sanity while doing so. 

There is a WalMart a hop, skip, and a jump from my home.  If I'd have gone there, my grocery bill would have been half the amount.  I would not have put Claire in the cart even with the sanitizer wipes and I'd have probably been pissed with the lack of customer service.

So, where's my middle of the road?  I'm certain that it's growing a larger garden in the summer and freezing produce for the winter.  It's probably cooking more meals that can be morphed into different variations throughout the week, instead of purchasing ingredients for 7 meals.  It's also probably sucking it up and paying more for fresh produce and an environment that I feel clean and calm after I leave.

Fear or Love

I have a good friend. 

He does a lot of public speaking about the power of living your truth and being guided by that which is based in love and not in fear.

His philosophy had me thinking at the gym this morning.  It was Wednesday and as such, we all knew what to expect...the insane, high cardio day of the week.  We trudged through circuit stations, bear crawling, stair running with burpie pyramids, and partner ab/core work to top it all off.

At one of the stations, we had to balance on a Bosu ball while holding a core ball and squat.  My legs were shaking.  I was frustrated and immediately thought, "This is not where I'm at.  I CAN'T do this."  Frustrated, angry and embarrassed that I had to modify the exercise, I began thinking...what am I motivated by in my life?  Do I assume that I can't because I'm scared or I've never done it before?  Or do I say, "What do I have to lose?  This is my life and I'm going full throttle?  I'm all in."

I want to be "all in."  Good or bad.  Hard or embarrassing.  I want the marrow.  I'm putting myself out there, sweaty faced and all to be guided by love.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Making Room

The truth is there are only 24 hours in a day.

We're finite creatures with a limited amount of mental bandwidth, patience, interest and ability.

And for this space in my life, I am focused on running, lifting, pushing my body...reading...writing...and spending time with my family and friends.

So, I've decided to make room for that which matters and to remove that which doesn't like:

Making beds, putting laundry away immediately, sweeping the floors, getting the Christmas lights/decorations down in a timely way.

I want my 24 hours to be intentionally filled with space to "be" and to create and not exclusively to react.

So, to that end, I'm making room.  You're more than welcome to stop by whenever you want, just move the laundry before you sit down on the couch.

Prefer to be 'Old School'

We had an interesting conversation at our New Year's Eve soiree about the merits/limitations of teaching cursive handwriting in school and text books versus digital books in the classroom.

I was appalled that the public school system is giving consideration to not teaching cursive penmanship.  It may have something to do with the fact that our family has access to hundreds of letters that my grandparents  wrote to each other while he was serving in WWII.  The letters are written in beautiful penmanship and the character of the words is amazing given the style of the writing.

Likewise, my children and I go to the public library at a minimum of once a week and often multiple times.  I like that they select books, understand how they are organized and can touch and feel the illustrations connected to the author's words.

Generationally, I straddle a desire to still have the printed word in my hand and to have immediate access to information via my digital Apple devices.  I own more books than a woman should.  I've saved all of my undergraduate and graduate school texts marked with copious marginal notes.  But I also love my Macbook, smart phone, and iPad.

It's hard to know what the right choice is recognizing that most of it is economic.  Textbooks are expensive.  Teaching cursive handwriting is probably not necessary.  But I'm not sure that education should exclusively be for the practical or pragmatic. 

I recognize that the classroom is not the only place for instruction.  I'm happy to teach cursive penmanship at home and to buy up all of the texts I can get my hands out...should we all decide to turn into robots. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Here We Go 2012

I started out the new year with a run.

It was colder than hell.  The wind was iPod died and the tips of my fingers were frozen.  I ran a little under 3 miles and conquered a hill for good measure.  It felt good.

As I've been probing runners/racers for advice on how to train...I'm hearing everyone in unison saying that running is predominantly mental.  The race is more so in your head than in your body.

So, when my "Eye of the Tiger" play list went kaput, I thought, "Alright, let me get into my head."  As if I'm not there enough.

But somewhere between the park and my final destination, I realized that this time is good.  It allows me to sort things let things go...and to realize that all I have is the breath and the foot in front of the other.

I'm enjoying the solitude of running and the feeling of accomplishment.  I can only imagine how it will feel to run 7, 10, 12 miles and ultimately, to complete the half marathon. 

"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable."

-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile