Friday, September 28, 2012

Gridlock at the %@(+! DMV

"I wouldn't go in if I were's a minimum hour wait...and the line's wrapped out the door," said the man who walked back to his car with his son.

Are you kidding me?

Like a dip shit, I waited until the last day of the month at 11:30am to renew my license plate tags.  I know, I deserved to be standing in line, over the lunch hour, holding my 22-month old toddler listening to the biggest degenerate I've laid eyes on in I can't remember.

Yep...I should have gone first thing in the morning.  I should have gone in the middle of the month.  I should have renewed the tags online.  And I sure as shit, should not have brought my toddler.

But just as I started to grin and bear it, I hear, "No ma...I called my parole officer...I went to the AA meeting...I don't think so....I'm supposed to meet this chick later....I don't give a shit about tickets....I get em all the time...there only like 16 bucks...I don't know if I'm supposed to keep filling out applications if I already have a, I'm stuck in line, the second time, because I forgot something in my car...I love you too."

It was some sort of Lifetime movie gone bad.  And then while saying prayers of gratitude to God for my sweet Claire who was quietly singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," with me....this crazy dude behind me starts asking me all of these questions.

"Uh oh...looks like your baby's gotta runny nose." (him)

"Uh, thanks." (me)

"She looks tired.  Does she usually nap in the afternoons?" (him)

"Sometimes." (me)

"So you don't work?" (him)

I start singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" while desperately trying not to scream.

"I mean outside of the house, of course." (him)

"Down came the rain and washed the..." (me)

"Do you miss adult conversation?  My mom was a first grade teacher and said it can be hard." (him)

Kill me...(me)

Next in line...

And just like that...I earned a spot in Heaven.

What a fucking day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When Love is Not Enough

Usually by Thursday mornings, I'm making every excuse to turn my alarm clock off and go back to bed.

Particularly this morning because the kids did not have school and I was free from making lunches, pouring bowls of cereal and getting them out the door.

But I know how shitty I would feel if I didn't, and so, I laced up my shoes and headed to the gym to run.

Undergoing my usual locker room routine...
  • Deodorant on pits
  • Pit stop into the bathroom
  • Garmin on start 
  • Headphones cued to play list
I heard this...

"I'm done.  What am I really getting out of it anyway?  He's inconsistent and expects me to pick up the pieces.  He's just selfish.  Yep, love's no longer enough. "

It was the cute gym girl on the phone talking, I'm assuming, to her bestie.  Her last line before I grabbed my water bottle and vacated the premises stuck with me.

When is love no longer enough?

In almost everything else in life, if you just put in consistent, focused, and diligent effort, you will reap the rewards of success.

Relationships are a completely different animal.

In her case, she may have been putting in her share only to be met, day in and day out, by someone who didn't sign up for the same deal.

And so, different than the unconditional love that a parent feels for their child and by unconditional, I mean, children can shit on you selfishly over and over again and love will always be's just not the same arrangement in romantic love.

You've got to want to be there for the other.  It's absolutely like a friendship.  Consistency, care, follow through, loyalty, availability, interest, and love.  Once that foundation is established, well then all of the good physical intimacy is just icing on the cake.

But until then, the words "I love you, " only go so far.  And apparently for her, not the distance.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cultivating Happiness

The past few nights, I haven't been sleeping.

You know what it's like...

When you're in and out of that haze of consciousness knowing that you should be sawing logs but thinking about all that is wrong with the world and wishing you could wave a magic wand...

to make it all better.

Through phone conversations with family members and friends and my own private longings, I've been hearing the phrase, "I just want to be happy," over and over again.

Admittedly, it's easy to look over the fence (physical or virtual) and assume that a certain street address, occupation, or life station would make one happy.  As if it's a destination.

So in one of these hazes, I grabbed my nightstand book, "Eat, Pray, Love" and was struck by one of Elizabeth Gilbert's quotes.

"When you sense a faint potentiality for happiness, after such dark times, you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt-this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty to find something beautiful within life no matter how slight.”

And so with the various life circumstances that my friends' and family find themselves in and the ones that I lament from time to time, I am mindful that happiness, like love is something to be cultivated.

More than a noun, happiness is a active state.  A way that we live.  A mantra for being.  Not something that we're entitled to unless we put the work in...and in some cases, meant to be redefined from rainbows and butterflies to peace and joy.

Happiness looks different for every person.  And in the end, only you know when your heart is aglow.  But what will it take to get you there?  Are you willing to participate in the process?

Ultimately, we have responsibility for this life of ours.  Finding something beautiful, joyful, and peaceful to love is the calling of our heart which over time manifests into happiness. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Please, Please Stop Whining

I forgot about this phase.

I should have recorded it with the two older children, so that it wouldn't have caught me so off guard and in the end, been such a pisser.

My soon-to-be two-year old daughter is going to be the death of me, literally.

She's teething, has some form of a cold or allergies, and is refusing to sleep through the night in her bed.

She's learned to throw temper tantrums and instead of shouting "no" in disapproval, her signature retort is "MO!" which means no in Claire speak.

She is beyond exhausting.  She's consuming so much energy and mental mojo that my husband and I are ready to hop the next plane to anywhere.

"It's just a season."

"This too shall pass."

"Try to enjoy it.  Soon, they'll be grown and gone."

All of this is great advice, but offers little to no comfort when you're thick in the trenches. 

The only thing that provides refuge is her crib.  She hasn't yet figured out how to crawl out...and a sound machine which somewhat drowns out the incessant whining...and a glass of fill in the blank which sometimes numbs the constant irritation.

I feel horrible documenting these feelings, but it is what it is...the joys of parenting a toddler.

I'm sure I'll miss it, but definitely not today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"I Just Want to Be With Him"

Recently, while on a trip out of town to Chicago, I randomly connected with a girl around my age taking the same train.

Sitting next to each other, she asked me why I was in town and I told her I was going to run the Chicago Half Marathon.  Crazily, she was too.

We exchanged stories.  I told her that I was married and had three children.  She told me that she was embarking upon her Ph.D program at the University of Chicago and was excited to have a break this weekend.  Her boyfriend who is originally from London but living in New York was coming to the Windy City to cheer her on.

Because I can't help myself and am ever the meddler, I probed, " he the one?"

Anyone that prefaces a response to that question with, "'s complicated, " is doomed.

And so I asked more.  "How long have you been apart?"  "Is one of you willing to move?"  "How invested are you?"  "Are you willing to walk away?"

My stock speech as a girl who spent too many years in relationships that were eventually going no where is...get the hell out.

But then she got teary.  "It's been five years and I just want to be with him.  I think this weekend is going to determine a lot."

Aw's the coming to Jesus conversation.  I actually thought about asking if I could have it on her behalf.

It's not a hard one to have.  It should go down fairly quickly.  No hemming.  No hawing.  Just straight you want us or not...unconditionally?  If not, goodbye and good luck.

That's what I've learned.  No dragging your feet.  No trying to think about on our best days how we could make it happen.  Nope.  Life is complicated.  Relationships can get murky.  But at the end of the day, are we on the same team or not.  If not, cut the cord, so you can find the one.

I sort of gave her that advice and told her she was too damn cute and smart to wait for any douche bag who wasn't ready to commit.

I like to think that I was practicing on her, so that one day, I'll be prepped to have that chat with my daughters.

Life's too short.  Spend it loving, not wondering whether someone loves you or not.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stories We Tell Ourselves

I sort of envy people who don't live in their heads.

It's got to be such a beautiful and clean experience not to continually rehash life experiences.

Alas, I've learned that it is what it is, and I've always been a girl who can't help but analyze my world.  I'm rarely good at taking things at face value.  There must be something more.

And so it struck me when I recently attended a workshop for beginner runners.  The focus of the talk was how to enjoy your race experience.  One of the techniques that the speaker suggested was to develop a keen awareness of the stories that we tell ourselves. 

In the case of running, often what flows through the head is far more powerful than what the legs think they can or can not do.  So, if you're constantly visualizing what it will feel like to cross the finish line and telling yourself that you're steady, powerful, capable, and determined...the mantras eventually move into a story that plays out mile by mile until you've achieved the goal.

In the routine and rituals of daily living, we engage in the same story telling behaviors.  We tell ourselves tales about who we are and who we are not.  We feed our mind with messages of hope or doubt based upon who we believe ourselves to be....a contributing member of the team, a failure as a mother, a beautiful friend, a worthless fill in the blank.

As we all know, the best part of story telling is that you can change the direction of the tale at any time.  You can decide what will happen to the characters, how they will be transformed, the lessons learned, and ultimately what happens before you imprint the words, 'The End.'

So, what will your story be?  How do you talk to yourself?  What character are you playing?  Do you believe that you're worthy, capable of the kind of ending you want?

Because in the end, we are a compilation of our thoughts that either motivate us to act or to not.  Instead of staying in your head indefinitely, the power of staying keenly aware of your story is that you are the writer, actor, director, and producer of the outcome.

What will your ending look like?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Moments of Anticipation

You know how you feel when you really,

I mean, really want something.  Not just a little bit...but a lot. 

You get antsy, itchy, heart racing excited, nervous, anxious, hopeful, doubtful, and ultimately, the pit of your stomach starts to grind as you pray, beg, bargain, negotiate your way toward the prize.

I've felt this way a handful of times throughout my life.  And when I start to sweat, can't sleep, get fixated, assess the odds, and rationalize my case...that's when I know....that I really, really want it.

I'm feeling it for a couple of opportunities in my life.

And I'm aware that it could go either way.

But what I'm extraordinarily grateful for is the gift of the feeling...the crazy blood flow, the sweaty palms, the hope beyond hope, the journey toward the outcome.

And that's why I run mentally and have an outlet for all of these moments of anticipation.

They let me know that I am indeed 100% alive.  There's nothing better.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How Do You Walk Through the World?

Last night, I had the privilege of participating in The Literacy Center of the Midlands fundraiser, "The Spelling Bee."

In her opening comments, the executive director noted that over 77,000 people in the Omaha metro area are functionally illiterate.  And because they can't read, they are some of the most intelligent, creative, resourceful people she knows.

Driving down city streets, they know to turn left or right based on landmarks.  They figure out food labels in grocery stores, how to interpret bills in their mailboxes and how to apply for jobs even though many have no experience with online tools.

Seated at my table was a woman who is a student at the Literacy Center.  She shared her story and my soul was stirred.

At the age of 50+ years old, she's starting over again.  She wants something different, something better for her life.  She's doing what she said she should have been doing a long time ago...getting the skills she needs to navigate and thrive in the world.

And it's not easy.  It takes a willingness to be vulnerable, to fall on your face, to keep trying, and to trust that eventually these skills (that most of us take for granted) will emerge.

Her story and the entire event gave me extraordinary pause.

We all walk through the world...side by side...wanting the best lives for ourselves, for those we love.  We sacrifice, we hope, we try, we fail, we believe, we yearn for more.

But what was different in this woman was how she walked...she wasn't afraid of what it would take to learn, she was afraid of what she would become if she didn't make change in her life.

I want that.  I want to fear what will become of me if I don't do what I should do....instead....of how painful or hard or scary it will be to take on the task at hand.

We have so much to learn from one another.  I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to walk alongside her for a little while last night.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Process of Aging

This year marks my 15-year college reunion.

I could hardly believe when the promotional emails, post cards, and facebook commentary emerged.

Fifteen years.  Where did it go?

When I was back in Chicago for a half marathon race earlier in the month, I was having dinner with a friend.  After not seeing one another for years, he said, "You look the same as you did in college."

After three babies, a graduate degree, a pseudo career prior to kidlets, sleepless nights, and lots of stress...I could hardly imagine that comment to be true...but I really appreciated it, nonetheless.

Not long after that trip while rifling through old baby clothes boxes, I stumbled upon pictures of me, my old college roommate, travels abroad, and fun times with friends.  I looked at myself in the mirror and then at the picture and thought, hell...maybe, the years have been kind...minus a few wrinkles and bags under the eyes.

When I think about that wide-eyed, hopeful, and extraordinarily green 22-year old college girl, I think about a woman who was yearning, eager, and I guess wanting to be the woman that I am today....married with children and most days extraordinarily happy. 

And when I look at the 37-year old woman in the mirror, sometimes, I long for the days when I would read philosophy texts for hours, drink beer like it was my job, get dressed up for a date and try not to puke from the butterflies (and subsequent beer) in my stomach.

But mostly, I hope that I'll get to look at a 57-year old woman in the mirror who will no longer have children at home.  And a 77-year old woman who will hopefully have finally traveled to Tuscany and published something.  And just maybe a 97-year old woman who will tell stories to her great grandchildren about being born in the 1900's...can you imagine life before the internet?

The process of aging is inevitable.  Some people do it well by owning each season and taking the best parts of who they were into where they're going.  Some people do it poorly by stewing in the past imprisoned by what was.

I'm thankful that the years have been kind and pray that there will be more college reunions to look forward to.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Becoming a Better Writer

If it is true that you are what you do...over and over and over again, then it must mean that if you want to be a better (fill in the blank)....

mother, runner, wife, friend, lawn mower, church goer, you name it...

well then, essentially, you must have to fake it until miraculously, some day, you arrive.

I want and have wanted to be a better writer for as long as I can remember.

I remember learning what a "theme" was in high school English class and thinking, I love the concept of a thesis statement, supporting evidence, a nice lead in, seamless transitions.

Later in college, I recall receiving the dreaded blue book at test time.  My favorite exams were essays.  I abhor multiple choice answer quizzes.  No fun in that.

Supplementing the formal writing, for most of my life, I've written in some form of a diary or journal.  I have gazads of them packaged in boxes in the basement documenting the trials, tribulations, and joys of my life.

But the reality of it all is that my writing needs work.  And unfortunately, like any skill, the only way to improve is to practice and to submit it to outside eyes.

So, I've decided to push myself to write an essay a week and to force it on one of my unsuspecting friends who will hopefully provide me with constructive feedback and helpful suggestions.

Until then, I'll keep writing stories in my head that will one day lead to paper and eventually onto the keyboard and hopefully into the hands or eyes of another, because I suppose, writers write.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kelly's Hot Mess Celebrates First Year Anniversary!

One year ago today, I was in need.

Feeling stifled, a bit isolated and bubbling with so many thoughts that couldn't be contained any longer in the form of a journal...I decided to create and share my blog.

I titled it "Kelly's Hot Mess," primarily because on any given day that's really how I view my life...a compilation of craziness that takes the shape of raising three wacky kiddos, banging my head around being the most authentic and available wife I can be, running so I can feel my body in motion, and playing around with what it means to be alive in the most "real" way that I can document.

Since my inaugural, introductory blip, I've written 276 posts that revolve around the stories of my life and the crazy thoughts in my head.

I have been abundantly grateful for all of the commentary that the blog has elicited...some constructive, some controversial...but all helpful.  Private messages from readers have encouraged me that I'm not alone in my journey and collectively, that we're all trying to do the best we can.

My hope is to continue writing in this medium and maybe, maybe just one day expanding it into a collection of short stories or an essay submission to my favorite column, "Modern Love" in the Sunday New York Times.

Until then, know that I appreciate your readership, but more importantly, I treasure your friendship and the many ways that we've reconnected through "Kelly's Hot Mess."

Happy Anniversary!

Monday, September 17, 2012


I had a hard day.

Mostly because I couldn't gain perspective...

on what really matters.

Not the busyness or the money or the plans or the material.

Until I stumbled upon a poem that my mentor gave to me.

And then I remembered.

Maybe, you know it.  If you don't, enjoy.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are the vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for their will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly in the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You are needed in this world. Do not concern yourself with other worlds, for they do not exist. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding in an ordered manner. Therefore, be at peace with nature and the mysterious process of evolution, whatever you conceive it to be; and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, strive to maintain your own inner peace while you do those things bring you happiness and contribute to the survival of humanity. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

--Author Unknown

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Marital Honesty

For you married readers out there...

here's the million dollar question...

do you tell your partner everything?

Are you transparent about it all?  How much it costs to get the gray out of your hair.  How many beers you drank at the last sales meeting.  The fact that you can't stand when he/she reaches over to kiss you first thing with well, that breath.

That you have a minor crush on a guy/girl at the gym.

That you secretly steal a smoke on the car ride home from work.

That sometimes, after shopping trips, you stuff the goods inside your bag and head immediately upstairs to put the aforementioned goods under your bed.

That on that one night, during that one time, when you were super tired, you faked it, so you could go back to sleep.

And then there's the deeper stuff....the pieces that you've sworn to take to the grave....that you won't even document.

In a healthy, loving, communicative, transparent important, necessary, or helpful is it to be completely honest?

It's a good question.  I'm certain that 99.9% of the time my husband tells me that I look fabulous in everything I put on...even when sometimes, I have no business being caught out in public in such garb.

I also know that there are hot button topics that we don't address like politics because they don't lead to warm fuzzy feelings.

But in general, on any given day, is it critical to tell your partner everything or is it okay not to and where do you draw the line?

Food for thought.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Parts of Me

I promised myself that I would notice 'me' when I was in Chicago.

Not exclusively my running form or how my body felt in motion during the race...

but that I would pay attention to how I felt roaming the city streets, navigating the 'L' stops, engaging in conversation with college friends, bumping into strangers, and in general being out of 'mom mode.'

I've read that at any given time, we compartmentalize pieces of ourselves...mostly out of survival, sometimes for the purposes of organization, and ultimately, because we prioritize the season that we find ourselves in and back burner excess so as not to get confused or off-track.

But those parts of us that are temporarily not engaged, do not go away....and when they are awakened, if only briefly, they remind us that we are complex, alive, and multi-dimensional.

Moments after I finished the Chicago Half Marathon race, I sat down next to a man on the shuttle bus.  We were trekking back to the L Stop that brought us here.

I introduced myself.  Told him where I was from.  And that I had a husband and three kiddos eagerly awaiting my return to congratulate me on the achievement.

He told me that he was a professor at the University of Chicago in literature.  His focus is in Irish literature and he'd just finished a sabbatical in Ireland with a stint in northern Italy.

We chatted about my time studying abroad in Greece and Turkey, the Windy City, running, races, family and how great it is to do something completely outside of your comfort zone.

He mentioned that he wasn't married and had no children.  "Frankly, I wasn't sure how to fit that into my life.  I applaud you."  I laughed and said, "I envy your travels to Italy and around the world."  He promised me that I'd get there one day.

Those parts of us that enjoy meeting strangers, shooting the shit over a bus ride or a beer, stealing moments to engage our brains in the latest political debacle or philosophical debate...they don't go away.  They may be dormant and hibernating.  But they never leave us.

And that to me is extraordinarily refreshing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life is a Marathon to be Savored

It's been nine months since I've been dedicated to a regular running regimen.

And in that time, I've taken in countless pieces of advice.

Suggestions on running form, pace, training plans, nutrition, clothing, name it...there's gazads of information out there.

But the other day, I saw a quote that stopped me in my tracks.  Simple.  Straight forward.  But also loaded, if you sink into it.

Life is a marathon and YOU are in it.

Many will concede that the running metaphor has many evident and cheese dick parallels to the journey that we're all this unique life that we've been given.

But give it a second and think about it.

This is your life.  It's your race.  And when you take care of yourself physically, mentally and're able to endure.  You're not simply surviving, you're thriving and maybe, conquering some personal best records in your relationships, in your work, and in your space.

There are days, when you're exhausted.  Sick.  Tired.  Hurt.  Someone or something injured you.  You're pissed.  All that work for nothing.  Fuck that relationship.  Damn that job.  Screw that project.

But today, the hour turned, the sun came up, and by the grace of God, you were given the gift of anew.

Will you lace up your shoes, give it a go, make amends, hydrate, refuel, believe in yourself, trust in the future?  Or will you stew bogged down in defeat or simply surrender to the pain?

Because even on the days when we can't imagine getting up and trying again, we're in it.  Life is a marathon and we're here.

And everyone will tell you that to be successful in a race means to start slow, take in everything (the sights, the smells, the people, the experience), to have a plan for how you're going to cope when it gets hard, to create the story that you'll tell yourself (I am strong, powerful, capable) when you want to quit, and to put in the time, so that at the finish line, you fully experienced the journey.

I am grateful everyday for what running has taught me.  It's not easy.  But the lessons are true...they're beautifully hard and hopeful.  Here's to enjoying the marathon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Here's to Sleep & Indulgent Behavior

Today was the first morning in ages that I woke up and thought, I can't run.  I'm too exhausted.

Lacing up my shoes, it all started playing like a movie in my head.

For probably two weeks leading up to the Chicago Half Marathon, I didn't sleep.  Or if I did, it was fitful and fraught with weirdo nightmares of getting lost.

Compounding my lack of sleep, my whole family, and many families around us are sick with some yuck deal that is either a virus or a severe case of allergies.

Consequently, I've been pounding Emergency drink, Airborne, Zinc, Vitamin C and water.

Then my calendar smacked me in the ass when I realized that I've volunteered for a shit load of roles/events at my kiddos' school and church.

And, another half marathon in 8 weeks.

And, a jewelry business that I'm resurrecting.

And, I'm crazy.  Certifiably so.

So, at the risk of sounding immature...lazy...or's what I want to do.

I want to run my long run on Saturday morning, drink a ginormous glass of vitamin D chocolate milk, take a steaming hot shower, fall asleep to a great play list, wake up and start drinking.  You name it.  Martinis, Mimosas, doesn't much matter.  I just want to drink.  Then sleep again.  Then sleep some more.  Take some ibuprofen.  Regain consciousness.  Resume the routine.  And be happy.

It's okay if it's only a fantasy.  It's a beautiful one that may someday become actualized.  Until then, here's to sleep and dreams of indulgent behavior.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

North Face Endurance Half Marathon-Kansas City

I have this amazing friend.

She's the one who originally inspired and encouraged me last year to run my first half marathon.

This summer, she competed in her first Half Iron Man (which if you're unfamiliar is a 1.2 mile swim followed immediately by a 56 mile bike ride, followed immediately by running a half marathon).  She did it in grueling heat with a smile on her face.

And yesterday, she registered to compete in her first full Iron Man (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 or marathon run) which she'll complete next September.

In preparation, she needs to run a marathon and so together, we're headed to Kansas City in November to do the North Face Endurance Challenge.

North Face offers these races in cities across the country.  They're typically off road with crazy ass elevation and some technical difficulty.

Kansas City is one of the few races that will be on the road.

She'll be running a full marathon and I'll be running a half.

Reviewing the course, it's beyond clear that I'm going to have to start running hills and doing some tempo training work.  I'd like to get a bit faster.  And, I'll have to learn to run in colder temperatures.  The high for KC in November is 52 degrees.

I'm excited.  I'm anxious.  I'm hopeful.  And now, I'm re-focused on a new goal, a new challenge, a new opportunity and a new chance to keep owning 2012...the year of Kelly.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Rocking the Chicago Half Marathon with a Grateful Heart

I don't even know where to begin.

Four months ago, immediately after completing my first half marathon, I felt over-the-moon about the accomplishment and anxious wondering what was on the horizon.

I impulsively registered two days later to run the Chicago Half Marathon.  I assumed that one of my runner friends would join me and that we'd have a wild and crazy time taking the windy city on.

One by one, something came up for everyone and I soon discovered that if I really wanted to do this, I'd be going alone.

Scared and deflated, I told my husband that it probably wasn't meant to be and that I should just write off the registration costs.

And then, out of the wood by friends emerged and made my trip a reality.

One friend (and I'm crying at O'Hare airport as I write this) offered up her family member's condo in a fantastic neighborhood.  Knowing that I was petrified to take public transportation, she mapped out my itinerary and gave me step by step directions and emergency contacts of all of her friends in the city.

The condo was steps away from Wrigley Field and both nights, I heard Springsteen singing to a packed stadium and felt like I was at the concert without paying a dime.

College friends that I haven't seen in over a decade, called, wrote, and insisted that we get together.  One by one, they traveled to me, took me to fabulous restaurants, listened to me talk about my family, my running journey, and gave me heart felt encouragement, hugs, laughter and tears as I prepared.

My husband graciously took time off of work and planned fun activities for he and our three kids to do while I was away...and then tucked a note into my shoe letting me know that I was an amazing woman.

My family and very dear friends sent me text messages, letters, emails, cards, and notes all reminding me of why I was going and letting me know that I was already a winner.

And now, I'm moments away from flying home and all I can remember is this:
  • Waking up to a 68 degree day
  • Running along a breathtaking lake front with sunshine sparkling off the water
  • Feeling a body that was strong, steady, and trained
  • Having a heart filled with joy while bands played and people cheered
  • Eyes that wanted to cry, but an ear-to-ear smile that wouldn't let them
  • Feet that never stopped running and never let me down
  • A watch that showed me a time I've never seen did I run that fast?
  • And a belief that I was meant to be in Chicago on this day doing this by myself
There is no question that I am a changed person.  I am inspired.  I am motivated.  I am passionate.  And I am extraordinarily grateful.  There are no words to express that throughout all of this process, I was never alone.  This journey was a collective effort.  I just got to selfishly wear the medal at the end.

If I thanked God, my family, friends, and Chicago would not be enough.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Exposing and Embracing the Mess

Here's the state of my house.

From the microwave stand in my kitchen where I cannot find shit...really...I think something died underneath all of those piles and the only thing I'm motivated to do is to drink coffee from the colorful mugs.

To the living room that always seems to have some random group of totes, boxes, laundry piles, library books, pile of shoes, gooey abandoned suckers, and muddy stroller tracks awaiting us.

To the hands that can find all of the chalk, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue, stickers, books, magazines, jars, and small objects that should not be put in one's mouth.

To the kitchen which on any given day is consumed by dishes in the sink and dishwasher, lids that have been loved with crayons and markers, insane amounts of pharmaceutical paraphernalia like adult and kids ibuprofen, vitamins, supplements, acetaminophen, and baby syringes.  It's the craziest shit pick up pile of them all.

To the toddler's room which by the grace of God has some toys picked up but for the most part is a straight up death trap on any given day of the week.

Let's get real friends.  My life just like yours is messy.  I didn't have the heart to take a picture of the bathroom.  No need to expose the real shit.  It's just good to let it all out there because then, no one has any pretenses and when you come to visit, you'll know what you're in for.

So, please, come and visit, save me from the cleaning that I should be doing.