Monday, April 30, 2012

Finding Our Own Language

We taught sign language to our first two kiddos.

But Claire, well as the third child, she got the short end of the stick. 

She knows how to sign, "more," and "thank you," and to point and grunt at everything else.

Our children call us "Mama," and "Papa," so she can say those words too...but that's about it.

Because our older two are pretty darn articulate and communicative, I probed the pediatrician at Claire's last well-baby check.  Worried that she may be developmentally behind, he immediately put my fears to rest.

"Watch this," he said.  "Claire, go get the book." (to which she did)  "Claire, where's the sky?"  (to which she looked up)  "Claire, give mama a hug."  (and she hugged me).

Siblings (particularly those farther down the food chain) don't have to learn to verbalize early on because their brothers and sisters do all of the talking for them.  Which makes me feel a little bit better.  But unfortunately, we still struggle with constant shrieking, temper tantrums when we're not getting her what she wants, and high pitched grunting at items of her choosing.

To which the doctor said, that really has more to do with who she is as a person...feisty, particular, determined, and it would appear, fairly independent.

Great.  I think we're in for it when it comes to this one.  Our sweet little Claire...the crazy one.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rainy Day Irritability

Why is it that rainy days have this wonderful way of making me sleepy and lethargic...and then, when I can't rest because of parenting, I get pissy (Is that a word?...I'm really good at making them up).

It started with mass this morning.  We woke up with plenty of time, everyone had breakfast, showers, and an opportunity to lolly gag...and then, we made it out the door...on time.  Only to arrive at church, with a baby who refused to go into the nursery (really...she was kicking, screeching and in general, not happy) and two big kids who couldn't sit still to save their lives.

Making it only until the end of communion, we packed our bags and decided to call it good.  My husband headed home with the kids to make lunch and I headed to my second home, Target.

All was good.  I talked to my favorite Starbucks lady and treated myself to a cup of joe, gathered a few snacks for a play date, and then, bam got smacked up at the pharmacy.  I was trying to buy Zrtec-D and upon giving my ID to the pharmacist was told that I'd reached my limit for the month.  Sweet Jesus!  What is the limit? Well, after delivering the news in grams and me asking for layman's terms, he said, about one box of 24 pills a month.  And then, he proceeded to give me the stink eye, as if I was a pseudoephedrine addict.  Christ!

After grabbing my additional items while fuming, I walked outside to a huge thunder cloud and a shitload of rain.  Soaked in my car, I drowned my sorrows in NPR programming.

Following Target, my kids invited over two of their favorite friends and proceeded to scream like banshees for two hours.  I screamed at my husband to scream at them and then we all started screaming at each other and well, here I am.  Looking out the window at the rain thinking, "Fuck it...let's reboot.  Where's the sunshine?"

Sometimes, rainy days are a pisser especially, when you can't hang out in your pajamas all day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

No Regrets

This morning while doing the dishes, a random song came on Pandora with a lyric that went something like....

"Are you living the life you wished or are you living in the past filled with regret?"

I've often thought that regret is a lot like guilt...pointless.  If you're letting either one dominate your space, your energy, your soul...well, then you're toast....paralyzed for no good reason.

I believe (even when it's been hard to discern the purpose) that we're exactly where we're supposed to be at all times hopefully, learning and growing on our own journeys, sharing in them with those we love.

But from time to time, I struggle with guilt and feeling that I should be doing more or differently in my life.  And I do have a few regrets mostly because I know that my selfish actions were hurtful to others. 

So, it caught me off guard when my seven year old son, Sam said to me, "Did you always know that you would be my mama?" To which I replied, "Well, I always hoped I would be a mama and when God gave you to me, I was over the moon happy." 

But the truth is, I always thought that I'd be working in Chicago, San Francisco or New York.  I thought that I'd be an attorney doing advocacy work focused on serving those without a voice and traveling every chance I could get. 

I never thought that I'd live in a small house in Omaha, Nebraska caring for three little ones while my husband brought home the bacon. 

Every now and again, I get a twinge wondering what that girl would have been like, who her friends would be, if she would have married, and whether she would have been happy.  Who knows?

Do you ever wonder who you'd be if you weren't where you are right now?  It's a silly, hypothetical internal conversation...but hopefully one that ends with...but I'm glad that I'm right where I am.  No regrets.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Almost There

Tomorrow is my last long run before the half marathon race the next weekend.

I should be running 10 miles, but because of an injury, I'm settling for 9 miles and praying that the last 4.1 miles (on race day) will emerge out of sheer will.

Last year, I decided that 2012 would be the year of Kelly...the year that I would call out fear and replace it with effort, that I would invest in me so that I could better invest in my family, that I would reconnect with my body to feel my adrenaline, my sweat, my endorphins, my sexiness and beauty. And nearly four months into the year, so far, so good.

My strategy on race day is to have a rocking play list that includes lots of my favorite strong, female artists and to run and run and run...not to make any personal records, but simply to finish strong.  And when I reach mile 9, I plan to dedicate the last four to the people who have encouraged me the most...the first for my husband, the second for my son, and the last two for my daughters.

I imagine my words will be something like...if I thanked you daily, it would not be enough.  Thank you for loving me, for guiding me, for believing in me, and for allowing me to be your partner and your mama.  My heart is full.  My body is exhausted.  And, my soul is swelling with love.  We did it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Desire is a Beautiful Thing"

Today I was completely inspired by a dear friend's facebook status update, it goes like this:

"A main 'Criterion of Consciousness' for the human experience is never having all you want. For as one dream comes true, another swiftly takes its place. Not having all you want is one of life's constants.

And learning to be happy while not yet having all you want is the first 'Criterion of Joy.' Nail it, and for the rest of your life people will be asking what it is about you.

Desire is a beautiful thing."

When I look at she and her family, I see perfection in every way.  They are humble, giving, joy filled, fit, loving partners and parents...and they truly embody the words love and complete in every sense.

So, when she posted the above piece on not having it all and seeking a life that is not reminiscent of  getting everything you want...I stood again in amazement.

We're such tricky creatures.  We know in our hearts that we can't have it all.  We just can't.  We also know that when we splurge and claim that if we just have that car, trip, shoes, gadget that we'll be good to go and won't need another thing...that we're lying to ourselves.  And yet, we're human...and it's natural to crave, to want, to seek, to possess.

But let's just be clear about it.  When we do obtain the thing, it can not be to bring sustained joy.  It may provide fleeting awe, wonder, comfort...but soon, probably faster than we imagined, we will be on to the next thing.

Not having it all is a good thing.  It teaches us discipline, self sacrifice, control and it hones us...making us aware of what brings us sustained and measured wholeness and truth.  It's really not that hard to internalize.  It's just challenging to live because at the heart of it...we always want what we can't and maybe shouldn't have. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Accept Love

The other day my four-year old daughter, Kate and I were browsing in a department store.

The clerk asked if we needed some help and then turned to Kate and said, "You're so beautiful," to which she replied, "Thanks, so is my sister," pointing to her drooling 16-month old yogurt faced kid sister Claire.

I was over the moon.

Not because Kate is overly confident (which she is), but because she accepted the compliment at face value and upped the ante to include her little sister.

I've never taken compliments well.  I tend to down play them, brush them off with humor, or deflect them by looking away.  I don't think I'm alone in my response.  Many women I know...educated, beautiful, strong, confident...have a tough time accepting the love even when they know that it's fully earned and absolutely true.

So how do we go from four-year old little girls who believe that we are beautiful, capable, and amazing and morph into adult women who think we're being self absorbed if we say "Thank you" and accept the kindness of another's praise?

Particularly in intimate relationships, I've learned that there's nothing worse for a man than to tell the woman he loves that she looks great in an outfit or beautiful as she's walking out the door, only to have her reject his admiration.

So...women...accept the love.  You're beautiful, you're amazing, you're strong...and it's a good thing that others notice.  Take it in, trust the authenticity of the kindness and relish the compliment. 

You deserve it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Last of It

I have nine pounds left to go to be a little under what I weighed when I gave birth to Claire.

Nine pounds...seems like so little given the 22 that I lost prior to that...and yet, I can feel it hanging on.

I'm running more than I have ever and burning a shit load of calories...but most everyone who's into fitness will tell you that when you're trying to get to a targeted number, the last little bit has everything to do with nutrition. 

The equation is something like 75% nutrition to 25% activity.  And I suck when it comes to tracking calories, fat, sodium, fiber, etc.  I just hate writing that shit down or tracking it in an app.

We eat pretty darn healthy around our house.  But still, it's not been enough since I plateaued a couple of weeks ago.  My old mantra of "How bad do you want it?" seems to be wearing out its welcome.  My swim suit that I ordered online is darling but has a few areas that would look a lot better if I could drop my 'food baby.'  And in general, I'm getting tired of the fight.

The truth is that everything is better when you're not weighed down by excess...whatever that excess may be in your life.  I can run faster when I'm lighter.  I can love those around me more fully when I'm not mired by guilt or anger.  I can dream bigger when I'm financially lean.  And I can and do feel more like me when I'm not carrying around the last remnants of baby weight.

Some mornings, I just pray that God will throw me a a half pound loss or a stronger run than before.  Wish me luck.  I'm in the final days/weeks of the battle.  I'm hoping for victory.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prayers Needed

The phone rang last night.

It was my dad confirming what some in our family were fearful would be validated. 

My 13-year old cousin was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia...a rare cancer of the myeloid line of blood cells demonstrated by a rapid growth of white blood cells in the bone marrow that disrupts the body's ability to produce normal blood cells.

Our cousin has had a condition since birth that has interfered with his ability to produce white blood cells that mature and consequently, has taken nightly shots to keep his immune system healthy.

And so far, so good...until last week, when he got sick.

When I got the call that he was at Children's Hospital, I brought him the first Harry Potter book and a blizzard.  We talked a little bit about the hospital.  It's kind of cool...they have a Wii in the room....the nurses are super nice...the food's not too bad...and according to him,  the view of Dodge street was amazing (they're not from Omaha).

Our next steps are to find a bone marrow donor match immediately.  Our odds are challenging and we're up against a clock.

But how can God take a child at 13 years of age?  Seventh grade?  Basketball games?  Friends?  Hopes?  Dreams?  So much life to live?  So many milestones to see?

I went to church alone this morning and prayed for a long time.  Please God, heal my cousin.  Please God, give him more time with his family and friends.  And if it is your will to take him home, please give him the most amazing last days here on this earth and give his parents and family strength and courage.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Get Off Your Arse

So the other day, someone said to me, "That's crazy running a just seems grueling...hard on the body and for what to get injured, set yourself up for knee problems...I just don't get the hype."

I understand where he was coming from because all of those things are true, but it's hard not to be judgmental when you see that he's overweight and has a sedentary lifestyle.

One of the biggest reasons why I get up 5 days a week at 4:30am to run is because it feels good.  Before you think I'm a crazy lady, just hear me out.

After you get past the feeling groggy, light headed, wishing you were back in your cozy bed (which goes away faster than you think it will) and you start realize that your body wasn't meant to be on the was meant to be in motion.

And once you honor that and start exerting yourself, endorphins rush in, adrenaline builds, you get a little happy, and feel alive. 

So, don't have to run a marathon.  But you do have to do something...walk, cycle, blade, board, yoga, zumba, jazzercise, boot camp, elliptical, jump, yell, dance, activate yourself.

You don't realize how down in the dumps you've been until you set your body in motion and remember how good it feels to breathe in and out, to let go of the smart phone, the keyboard, the to-do list and you focus on your body.

Get outside and move your'll be so glad you did.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Feeling Old?

"I'll get that for you, ma'am,"  the young Target cashier said as Claire (my 16-month old) threw something out of the cart. "You've got your hands full."

"Ma'am?"  Who's the ma'am around here?  Not me.  Ma'ams or Madam's are old people.

I was relaying this story to a friend and she responded with, "Kelly, we are old."  Next year, we'll celebrate our 20th high school reunion.  We're approaching the latter part of our thirties.  Many of us have had doctors appointments identifying that we can't do what we used to do.  Most of the time, a good night's sleep is the preference over a heavy night of drinking/socializing or dressing up. And well yes, we're not spring chickens. 

But I don't feel old.  Do you? 

I remember my grandparents relaying that youth is in the spirit, the mind, and the has nothing to do with a birth date.  My grandmother said that she knew plenty of whipper snappers younger than she that were old and boring. 

So it was at the gym last weekend that I found myself with a huge smile on my face.  Two older people walked in...he in running shorts with a fabulous beard and she with a yoga mat and beautiful glistening hair.  He jumped on a recumbent bike while she grabbed a towel to head to the yoga studio.  And as she was walking away he cried out, "Goodbye my love...enjoy your session." 

So fabulous.  I pray that when I'm in my 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's...that I'm still feeling young, taking care of my body and mind, and loving the life that I've been given. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Commando Running

So after fighting my underwear longer than I care to note, I decided to liberate myself and go commando running the other day.  And post the experience, I screamed, "Hell yes!"

Sick of the thong (really who wants a string compressed up their ass), tired of the panty line (it's just ugly to look like you have two asses), and frustrated by the distraction of my undies getting in the way, I thought, F it.  I'm going all naturale.

I recently finished a fabulous book that you mama runners should check out entitled, "Train Like a Mother."  The two co-authors wrote one prior to it called, "Run Like a Mother."  Both excellent reads.  Hysterical.  Down to earth fantastic accounts of running with the demands of partnering and parenting.

They've been letting their nether regions air out for years.  And it was after reading their account of commando running that I thought, yep, I'm going for it.

If you decide to take the plunge too, here's a few recommendations: longer do you have the compression of your panties, so suck in your gut.  You should be contracting your core anyway, but now you're really aware.  Make your stomach work for you.

Two...make sure that your pants or shorts are on your ass tightly.  I nearly lost mine on the treadmill the other morning which was encouraging because they're getting too big...but could have been mortifying to share all of me with the early morning risers.

Three...wash yourself.  Don't be stinky.  Enough said.

I have a few friends that go commando with all of their clothes.  I'm not saying that you have to be a dare devil...I'm just saying it's kind of fun.  Get crazy.  Try it.   You only live once, right?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Push

I'm not on auto pilot in my life right now and that has me tired...a good chunk of the time.

You know what I mean by auto pilot, right?  It's that sweet spot when you've sort of mastered your role at at the office, you've got a good schedule going on at home, your partner/kids are doing well, and life is sort of coasting.  These seasons afford you time to dream about the next stage or to get complacent.

Staring down the last two weeks of training prior to my first half marathon, I've been putting in a lot of time running, icing, stretching, and in general trying to take care of my body.  I'm hyper aware of melting away the last few pounds and am eagerly awaiting my swim suit in the mail.

I'm trying to resurrect my jewelry business (so if you're in need of fun summer jewels, call me).  I'm trying to figure out how to organize the summer so that the kids don't drive each other crazy and send me to the loony bin.  And, most spare moments are spent chasing an insanely busy, high energy, sneaky 16-month old around.

I'm not coasting.  I feel like I'm "on" a lot.  Most moments are really full and when they're not, it's because my body, brain or both have gone kaput.

So this is the push.  You've been there before.  Where you've got to stay determined, a little "balls to the wall," and very focused on the prize...because it is all within reach.  I'm trying to use visualization techniques, mantras, phone calls to friends and in general, an undying belief that says "you WILL get there."

But I've gotta admit, I'm looking forward to finding the sweet spot again.  Then again, knowing me, I'll be on to the next thing. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"I Do"

I had this great track record in my early 20's of dating a few really great guys for a significant stretch, getting the boot, and then learning that they married the women following me.  I sort of took it as a compliment.

So, by my mid-20's, I decided that I was done dealing with relationships.  I was accepted into a Conflict Resolution graduate program (ironic, I know), working full-time, and focused on taking care of me.

And then he came...back into my life...sort of.  Ray and I had one class together for one semester in undergrad.  We weren't really friends and after his abrupt transfer back to his home university, I never saw him again.

But like clock work, every two years or so for almost a decade, I would receive an email that went something like this..."How are you?  How's the heartland?  How's the latest schmuck treating you?  When are you going to come out west?  You're amazing.  Take care of you."

It was definitively a "When Harry Met Sally," experience.  When I was in a relationship, he wasn't.  And then when I'd gotten dumped, he was with a girl.  We lived over 1500 miles away and could barely remember what the other one looked like.  We just enjoyed smart, effortless, funny, virtual banter every few years and reveled in the fact that there was a good person on the other side of the country.

And then it came.  I had a conference in San Diego and he left me a voice mail.  "I booked a ticket...I'll see you on the beach."  Three months post the trip, he quit his job, sold most of his belongings, and drove his car to Nebraska and a very dear friend sublet her apartment to him.  Six months later, we were engaged and the rest is our history.

It's crazy how beautiful love stories play out.  Each year on our anniversary, he finds out the symbolic connection of the year and inscribes our vows on the material.  On the year of wood, he found a vintage jewelry box and inscribed them on the inside.  He's found amazing ways to utilize paper, glass, cotton, iron, and this year pottery...a gorgeous platter that he painted with the words.

Eight years ago today, we both said, "I do."  I'm so glad.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Friends with Your Ex?

If you ask someone if they are friends with their former boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband,  you'll get a wide range of responses.

Everything from an eye roll accompanied by a "hell no," to a "we rarely, if ever, bump into each other," to a "yeah, sure, we're cool...he's got a great wife."

My parents divorced when I was four years old and my dad married our neighbor.  Suffice it to say that my parents have never been friends and for a long time struggled to be civil.  So, I've never really had a model for what being friends with your former partner looks like.

When I've asked other people if they've been successful at carrying on a friendship with their former fill in the blanks, most say that it's impossible because of the history (insert intimacy/sex).

But why is that?  If timing has anything to do with it...and most of the time it seems fair that you wouldn't be capable of a friendship immediately following a break up.  It's too painful.  Emotions are raw.  The dream you had is gone and the life you thought that would be is different.

After time has passed and particularly when both people have new, permanent people in their it possible to strike up a friendship?  Do you have anything in common anymore?  Might you be better friends than life partners?  Do you care to share your life and learn about the details of theirs?

I'm sure that it also has to do with the emotional maturity of both people and the comfort level of their new partners. 

And if you asked my parents, they would say that I'm barking up the wrong tree.  That no one in their right mind can really be friends...there's usually an ulterior motive.

There have been plenty of movies, articles written, talk shows done and conversations had about the age old topic...I think I'm just an idiot or naive for thinking that its possible.  Thoughts?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Time is Love

We all get 24 hours in a days in a week...52 weeks in a year.

Time is the great equalizer, the level playing field.

The difference is in how we choose to spend our time and who we spend it with.

I've always believed that you're guilty by association and that you are what you focus on.

Is it your smart phone?  facebook?  Work?  The couch?  Your past?  Your future?  Your body?  Your soul?  Your kids?  Your wife?

I'm not a huge fan of the term "quality time."  Because in my mind and certainly in the minds of my children, time is time.  If you're with me and your engaged...I want as much of that as I can get.  I don't want trips to restaurants, gifts, or a big house.  I want you.  I want your time.

This summer, we're taking our kids on a family vacation to Colorado.  It's our first trek and we're very excited.  I've heard all kinds of cool things about Rocky Mountain National, we're counting down the days until we get to hike, cycle, fish, and play.  It won't involve a theme park.  We won't be bringing home any prizes or t-shirts.  But it will be seven days of time spent together.

In the end, the greatest gift that we can give to those we love is ourselves.  That's all any of us really wants, right?  A phone call, a card, a coffee chat, a conversation where you look at me, I look at you and we know that this space is ours.  Time is love.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kindness in a Phone Call

The phone rang.

I was busy drying the dinner dishes and lamenting about how my knees ached from my hard five mile run this morning. 

According to my training plan, I should have run nine miles today.  I've been derailed for nearly three weeks with shin splints and am gradually getting back into it...struggling to build back up the mileage and the momentum that I lost along the way....and fearing that three weeks may not be enough time to get ready.

"Hello?," I said.

"I hope I'm not interrupting your dinner or evening with your family.  I was thinking about you and had to call.  I'm experiencing shin splints from the crazy amount of pounding on pavement today on my long walk (she works for a national non-profit) and I'm in pain.  I have no idea how you've been doing it.  But I wanted to let you know that I'm behind you.  You're not just running for you.  You're running for all of us."

After thanking her, I got off the phone and sobbed.

A stupid, dumb, 13.1 mile race.  Why has this become so important to me?  Enough to have me icing my legs four times a day.  Taking ibuprofen with each meal.  Reading everything I can get my hands on about form, cadence, shoes, injury remedies and running, in general. 

It's important, I think, because in some tangible way, it represents me.  The re-birthing of me.  Since I started this process, I've lost 22 pounds, gained strength, endurance, a lot of heart ache, and confidence.

The running I do is for me.  It's so that I can be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, that I can feel me again.  The miles, the pain, the endorphins, the exhilaration, the hurt, the's mine.  And I want so bad to finish this first big race.

So thank you, friend for the phone call.  Thank you for actually picking up the phone, dialing my number, and saying the words.  You have no idea how much they mean.  Your call demonstrated how we should never underestimate the power of reaching out.  We need each other more than we know.

Friday, April 13, 2012

No-No's at the Gym

Now that I've been getting up at the crack of dawn and joining all of the other crazy early morning folks at the gym, I've developed some observations.

If you're a newbie or have been going for sometime and fallen into some bad habits, here's a few tips to consider as you workout.

When you sweat half your ass off on a machine (of any sort, treadmill, elliptical, weights), please grab a towel, some cleaning spray, and take 30 seconds to wipe it down.  It's just nasty to start your workout seeing the remnants of someone else's.

It's weird to hold hands walking around the track with your significant other.  The gym is a time to exercise.  It's cool to be together.  But no need to jam up the flow of other runners/walkers while you make googly eyes at each other with a hand chain.  Work up a sweat and then get a room.

Take a peak at what you're wearing before you walk out the door.  No one needs to spend hundreds of dollars on workout gear.  Although, if you want to, check out   But just make sure that your ass is not hanging out, nor are your sisters, and that relatively speaking, you can show up maintaining a little modesty and still get the job done.

No hacking, blowing your nose, or tooting in public areas.  That's what the locker room is for.  Really enough said on that.

And finally, the gym isn't a place to hang out and talk, at least not at the expense of someone else needing to use your machine or stretch area.  Do the catch up, "chatty Cathy" deal in a less trafficked area so that you're not keeping someone from getting their workout in.

It's really not hard.  Just be considerate.  Exercise a little Golden Rule action.  And enjoy.  Sweating your ass or your beer/burger/weekend indulge off is a good thing.  Be intense.  Have fun.  Just do so with others in mind.  And no, Prairie Life is not paying me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Pesky Period

Admittedly, this will probably not be a post of interest for men, unless you want to understand women better.

I've never met a woman, who loved being on her period.

The only part that is consoling for me, right now, is that I'm not pregnant.  Currently, my womb is not open for business.

But let's talk about this "not talked about" subject.  I really think that the menstrual cycle is God's punishment to women for not being pregnant or's the only time that you're free from the bloody curse.

Otherwise, you're marking the calendar for some semblance of organization and preparedness, because yes, it sucks to be caught with your pants down and no tampon in sight.

It also sucks to have to worry about carrying tampons everywhere you go for 3, 5, 7 days depending upon the length of your curse.  And, knowing that you have to modify your wardrobe by wearing the ugliest granny pants in the back of your drawers and no light colored pants, shorts, or skirts because it's a messy, leaky process.

Not to mention the emotional, hormonal, irritable part of the deal which can start a week or more ahead of the cycle and continue throughout.  You're a bitch,  Irrational.  Pissed.  Off.  Nothing goes your way and everyone is the enemy especially, your husband and kids.  And the worst part is that you can not control this shit.  Midol Schmidol.  This is witchcraft, black magic, voodoo shit that you are cursed with.

And, Heaven help the poor soul who evenly remotely alludes to the fact that you may be having your monthly visit because that just sends most women into a conniption fit.  We already feel out of control.  We don't want it rubbed in our face.

So, for those of you sons and husbands who want half of the month to be sane, you should just start budgeting now for a spa get away for those women in your life that you love.  No need to try to understand the intricacies of the menstrual cycle....just remove her from your lives.  Everyone will be happier and life will be smooth and enjoyable.  Because God knows, the period is pesky.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Love & Solitude at the Cabin

After the fullness of the Easter holiday, my brood and I loaded up the Honda and drove to the cabin.

Our friends invited us to join them and several other families to enjoy a gorgeous lake front home while our kiddos are on spring break.  Everyone was in Heaven.

There were plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for everyone with huge areas to gather and 100+ acres in the middle of nowhere to enjoy.

My husband took the kids fishing on a kayak/canoe.  We had gooey fingered smores over a bonfire.  I tested the limits of my fears while doing a Tarzan rope jump off of a ladder and into the wilderness (no obscenities were uttered, I'm proud to say).  My best friend and I went for a long walk up and down gravel roads.  The big kids went for rides on the four wheeler.  And lots of yummy meals were shared by all.

It's so important to get away.  It's so soothing to sit by the lake and to watch the water, hear the frogs, see the geese, and catch a fish.  It's so good for the soul to connect for hours with friends and to remind yourself of what it feels like to be away from the extraneous silliness that often fills our lives.

I'm so grateful for the generosity of friends and I'm so aware of the beauty that surrounds me...I'm just sad that we don't slow down more to appreciate it. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Don't Need You

We had an amazing, beautiful, insane, off-the-charts busy, blessed, colorful, exhausting weekend.

My parents came into town from Dallas.  We celebrated my nephew's third birthday.  We hunted for eggs three times.  The Easter Bunny came to our home.  We made it through mass.  We hosted meals and brought meals to other family member's homes.  And by 4:30pm this afternoon, my four-year old daughter, Kate had reached her breaking point.

Her older brother and cousin were playing soccer in the backyard while the adults were cheering them on and the baby was happily swinging.  Throughout this time, Kate was insistent on playing "Red Light, Green Light," but no one else seemed to be interested.  After her final pout, a melodramatic walk-off, and the very loud words, "I DON'T NEED YOU!" screamed out of her mouth to her family and to her mother, a soccer ball landed squarely in the center of her forehead and she lost it.

After everyone left, we sat over Easter candy and talked.  I asked if she really meant what she said.  And through chocolate and jelly beans she muttered, "no...I love you."

But isn't this how we feel...when we're done dealing...exhausted...beyond our limitations.  We don't want to be around anyone and we don't want anyone to get in our way.

That's where I'm at now.  The kids are in bed.  The dishes are done.  The party platters are put away.  I'm icing my legs and I just don't want to be needed by a thing in this world.  And yet, I want to be needed and loved by my family more than I can imagine.'s what makes the world go around, even when you've been loved to the gills on an Easter holiday.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Free Falling

The other day I took my kids on a really long bike ride.

They had to get their ya-yas out.  It was the start of spring break and already I could tell that Sam and Kate needed an energy release.

For those of you who don't live in Omaha, we have a fabulous park in midtown called Memorial with a huge hill that takes you up to flights of stairs and a beautiful wartime memorial.  So, with the baby on the front carrier, I forced my 7 and 4-year olds to bike up the hill pedal by excruciating pedal.  Consequently, when we got to the top, they wanted to go down.

I knew that the older was good to go.  He was proficient with the brakes, had a helmet on, and so I sent him sailing.  The younger, well, she's a bird of another color.  She started slowly...but as we all know, once you gain momentum, there's nothing you can do, but go for it.  And like a bird, she started to free fall down the hill uncontrollably.  But miraculously, landed on her bike upright.  She was ecstatic.  Thrilled that she'd conquered the hill both up and down.

I looked at her and cringed as she made her way certain that she'd eat the concrete and dawn a beautiful purple shiner right before my folks came into town for the Easter holiday.  I pictured her losing a tooth or breaking an arm.  But she didn't.  And the best part was the entire excursion was done by herself.  And so the accomplishment was thrilling.

I saw me in falling.  Trying to make the best of where I'm at in my life.  Scared to go a little deeper.  Trying not to fall off the bike, but knowing that I'll have to risk it if I want the good stuff.

Free falling is a crazy deal.  You can go either way.  You can biff or you can land up right.  Regardless, at the end, you know you're alive.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Growing Your Soul

You know that ache you get when you recognize that you've been focusing on the wrong things for too long?

Like the minutia of work, the laundry, the kids' activities, your manicured lawn...and then in one moment you realize that you've been spending a lot of time and energy on superficial shit that really doesn't matter.

Except that everyone else seems to be caring equally as much, so you're sort of a schmuck if you don't...right? 

It's like we cultivate the schizophrenic behavior in each other.  We see our neighbors mowing, edging, mulching, planting, 2,000 yard waste bags at the curb...we watch our co-workers scheduling meeting after meeting to 'fine tune' details on a project that really is auto piloting itself...and we listen to others as they stress about family coming into town for the Easter holiday, so we crank it up into over drive by washing windows and dusting base boards.

And before we know it...that sweet place that defines who we are, that nurtures us, that when cultivated lets us shine...becomes dull and muted. And we look pretty on the outside, but we're hollowed out on the inside. 

What fuels your passion for life?  What charges your batteries?  What makes you feel alive?  What gives you strength and makes you feel vibrant?

Whatever that more of  The windows and the lawn can wait.  But your soul won't wait forever.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Forks in the Road

It's crazy, isn't it?

When you look back over your life at the many crossroads...forks in the road...opportunities to go one way versus another.

Whether it's a job that you turned down...a relationship that you started or ended....a city that you relocated in or decided not to....a friendship that you forged or gradually let fall by the way side....a faith that you embraced or rejected....ultimately, choices...decisions that you made that have determined where you are today.

I firmly believe that all things happen in life for a reason and that most of the time, in spite of ourselves, even when we're purposefully trying to sabotage our own progress...we get there, one way or another....and it all happens in the perfect season of our lives.

My husband was engaged before me.  He called off the engagement and broke the heart of his fiancee as well as her families.  But it was the right decision.

My undergraduate internship turned into a job offer and a chance to stay in the windy city post college, but I turned it down for a secretarial job in Omaha and a chance to see if a long-term relationship would morph into marriage.  It did not.  But at the time, it felt like the right decision.

Five years ago, I said goodbye to a really good paying job with a bonus, benefits, and a fantastic mentor to stay at home with my children.  Aside from marrying my husband, it was the best decision I've ever made.

Life is full of forks.  And because we're all human, we often look back and wonder, "what would have happened if I'd have _____."  The problem is, you'll never know because you're here where you're supposed to be.  The journey is full of opportunities for growth and change.  Every day brings multiple chances to say yes to this and no to that. 

The most important gift is to live without recognize that you made the best decision with what you knew then and to trust that this moment is perfect for you, always.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Commit or Get Out

"but I REALLY wanted it, mama, "   my seven-year old son, Sam lamented. 

And it wasn't over a piece of candy or the iPad.  It was over something bigger and more important.  His eyes were full of tears and his heart was breaking.  And, I had to tell him that sometimes life is unfair, but the only way you know you're truly living is if you commit...regardless of the result.

I know his pain.  I feel like a broken record wanting to run a race...wanting to recover from an injury immediately that let's be honest, just takes time.

So while I've been wallowing and consoling my son, I've realized that life is about committing.  All in...all the time...or get the fuck out.  Because, what's the point of sticking a toe in and living superficially.  You won't get the marrow out of anything.  Your relationships will be shallow.  Your rewards will be menial.  Your spirit will be sullied.  And you'll never really know your full potential.

I'm not advocating to completely throw caution to the wind or that taking calculated risks is for pansies...well, maybe a little...but mostly, what I'm saying is that you live once.  You don't know what tomorrow will bring.  You have absolutely nothing to lose.  You have a heart for a reason.  When it's pounding and telling you to go for it, that's your intuition saying, JUMP, BOLT, DRIVE, DO IT!

The worst thing that can happen is that your ego will be bruised.  Your pride may be rejected.  But the reward of knowing that you went for it.  That you tried.  That you put yourself out there.  That you believed enough in yourself to say, "To hell with fear.  I am inhabiting all of me and today I choose strength."

So, the lesson is...I'm proud of my kid.  He's a risk taker.  He's cool as shit.  I'm proud of the running I've done and I'm not giving up on him or me.  And you shouldn't either.  Commit or Get Out.