Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Call Me Bad Ass

"I can't do this."

I remember saying to my father when I got my first real-paying corporate job with medical benefits, an office, and a salary that made me look forward to getting a paycheck.

And he promptly said...

"Of course you can.  Buy the suit.  Learn your role.  Don't forget where you come from.  Be good to people.  And leave the place better than when you arrived."

I felt that same sinking feeling of doubt when I received my acceptance letter into graduate school, when I became a wife, a mother three times over, and made plans to run my first half marathon race.  I can't do this.  I've never seen myself here before.  How can it possibly be?

And that's the key.  It's impossible to know what it's going to feel like to "do" something or to accomplish it until you visualize yourself kicking ass and taking names at the office, cradling your crying baby, walking down the aisle to say 'I do', and ultimately, crossing the finish line with a race number plastered across your chest.

You've heard it a million times...visualization is key...fake it until you make the part until one day you become it.  While these sayings may seem clicheish, they are sage advice.

If you run, you are a runner.  If you sing, you are a singer.  If you create, you are an artist.  If God blessed you with a child, you are a parent.  And whatever resides in your head is only moments of hard work away from being actualized in the physical world...if you want it badly enough.

And so I've been stuck.  I want to transform my body, improve my ability to run, and ultimately, redefine my threshold for physical fitness.  The problem is that I've been doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results...frustrated as all get out when the scale spits out the same number, unable to tackle bigger hills, struggling to build greater endurance.  I just can't see myself doing it.

I mean really...people who run marathons, who race in Iron Man competitions, who dedicate countless hours to biking, swimming, running....who are these people?  They don't look like me.

Or do they?  And maybe the better question is why do I think they don't look like me?  Why don't I will it into existence?

I've never been a huge fan of affirmations.  But lately, that's all that's been getting me through this rut...this valley...this shit storm of doubt.  So, here are a few I use regularly:

"You're a fucking bad ass."

"You're more powerful than you can imagine."

"Heart, Strength, Will"

And my all-time favorite and go-to, "Come on....fucking can do this."

I feel God and the universe telling me that I need to push myself farther, deeper, harder.  I have to visualize myself as a marathoner and one day an Iron (Wo)Man...and it will be, because I choose it.

What do you choose?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Stop Harboring the Dark Stuff

This morning I ran eight miles.

Today was challenging. For whatever reason, eight miles has always been harder than nine or ten. And so I was mentally prepared, but then when it came to putting one foot in front of the other, I wasn't.

It started from the moment that I put my shorts on.  Why do I have cellulite? How is it possible to run as much as I do and still have squishy parts all over?  Well, maybe it's because you have a daily Starbucks habit and think that Dairy Queen should have a personal delivery service to your home.

And that's all it or two negative thoughts and the flood gates emerge and then, I'm sunk...until I decide that I'm not.

It's always been there though...for as long as I can remember...the yuck self talk.  The need to always watch what I ate, to try the latest South Beach, Atkins, Insanity, all protein, no carbs, full fat, no fat, you name it diet/lifestyle change.

And for what?  Really.  Where does it get me?  Mostly, back in the same spot feeling angry, insecure, frustrated or spiraling all over again.

My hunch is that I'm not the only woman who goes through this shit.  It feels like it's stamped in our DNA when we're born and with us until we decide that we're enough on all fronts.

So, let me begin by saying this.  Say, "Fuck You" to harboring the dark thoughts.  They're most likely not true and even if there is a portion of legitimacy to them, they do not define who you are.

Secondly, accept the compliments that the world gives to you.  You are beautiful.  You are compelling.  You are brilliant.  You are worthy. Trust that you are deserving of love just because.

Thirdly, make a decision that you are enough just as you are.  Right here.  In this moment.  Not 10 pounds from now.  Not when you get the promotion.  Not when the house is clean.  Not when you get in to get your hair colored or your make-up put on.  Or when you finally get around to fill in the blank.

Stop harboring the dark, negative thoughts that lie deep inside of you.  They're toxic.  They don't serve as positive motivation toward change.  They just cycle through your system and paralyze you.

You're here for a reason.  Your life has a purpose.  Spend your time focused on that.  And in the interim, I'll work on finding a way to love my legs in shorts.  Hell, those shorts scored me eight miles today.  I can't complain too much.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Grass is Always Greener

Over the past couple of days, I've enjoyed sharing coffee, wine, dinner and dialogue with some amazing women. 

Throughout those conversations, the topic of "comparison" emerged time and time again.

One friend summed the entire process up beautifully..."none of us have any business comparing our insides to another person's outsides."


And yet, this is what we do.  Notoriously. 

We scroll through posts of old high school and college friends on facebook and think, stunning family, she looks uh-mazing, wow...Cabo...why don't we vacation there?  Why don't I look like that? 

And then, we make the assumptions....they're happier, more engaged, more well rounded, better name it.

And, to be fair, some of it is true.  There is always someone with more fill in the blank...wealth, aesthetic beauty, engagement in their job, their marriage, with their children. 

And in your daily life, your kids may incessantly fight and your husband may suck when it comes to picking up and putting away his shit.  You may live pay check to pay check.  You may need to lose weight.  You might yell too much.  You may be negligent when it comes to writing thank you cards or volunteering in your kids' classrooms.  You might spend too much time on your iPhone, iPad or playing a video game.  You might spend too much at Starbucks or playing golf.  And you might forget to say thank you or I love you when you should.

But you might also read "The Very Lonely Firefly" and do all of the voices or make a mean spaghetti dinner or always smile or know just when to say "Fuck it" at the appropriate time.  You might pray and hold those dear in your heart who are going through crisis or tragic circumstances.  You might mow someone's lawn or shovel someone's drive.  And maybe you, give the best hugs ever.

You are who you are. Plain and simple.  You are blessed and you are flawed.

You don't live at your neighbor's house.  Your girlfriend's marriage is not yours.  Your kids don't belong to the college friend on facebook and your job is your own.

You are blessed to have this life.  This one go around.  This chance.  Comprised of all your passion, fear, vulnerability and power.  So own it.  Steep yourself in it.

Because the truth is...the grass is always greener....but no one gets to be you and live your life for all the good and the bad. 

So the next time you're scrolling through someone's facebook photos and you see someone in Cabo and want to go, add it to your bucket list and then drop a comment that says, "You suck...wish I could have been there..."  Naw, say something like, "Looks amazing...can't wait to see it myself."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm Sorry

The past few days have been a little rough with my eight-year old son, Sam.

I'm not sure why but we've been at each other.  Maybe it's because we're both first born, type A, OCD personalities that have a specific expectation of how we want things to go down and when they don't, well, we're emotionally charged and pissed off at the world.

And so it was with our last spat over something completely inconsequential that I realized, I have to get better at apologizing to the people I love, and in particular, to my children.

There is something very powerful about modeling the importance of being vulnerable.  Laying your cards out for everyone to see and owning when you've made a poor choice, which most of the time, involves yelling at some insane decibel about something that really doesn't matter.

So after a day of doling out ridiculous amounts of consequences that I never followed through with, I tucked him into bed.  Curling his hair between my fingers, I looked down and said, "Truce?"

He said, "Of course, mom."

I told him that I was sorry for being impatient, sorry for not letting him speak his mind, sorry for being a helicopter parent, and sorry that in general, we had a bad day.

I love the tar out of my kiddos.  I want nothing more than for them to be loving people in the world.  I hope that by showing them that I make mistakes all the time and that I'm willing to apologize to those I've hurt in the example will make a positive impact upon them.

But of course, I don't know.

Until then, I pray that an honest, authentic, "I'm sorry," is the great equalizer providing the chance to start anew, recognizing that tomorrow will bring a new set of challenges, but also a chance for a loving re-do.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Good Cry

My kids and I have logged in more hours at the public library than should be acceptable to frequent an establishment...especially when it's free.  The only other spots we may traverse more are the pool and our local Target store.

They are voracious readers and have made it their mission to take on the Summer Reading Program with a dedication that is unparalleled.

So yesterday, we got a new crop of books and poured over them.  Gulping ice cream at the kitchen table, we collectively read a book entitled, "Why Do You Cry?" about a young rabbit turning five years old who's convinced that because of his new age...he no longer needs to cry.  To commemorate the occasion, he decides to host a birthday party, but will only invite friends who are old enough or mature enough to no longer cry.

The squirrel politely declines his invite and tells rabbit that sometimes other animals hurt his feelings and he can't help but shed a tear.

The cat cries out in sadness and shares that the shadows still spook him and he cries out of fear.

The horse confesses that he can't join the merry bunch because sometimes he just doesn't feel good about himself and has to have a good pity party.

Discouraged and alone, the rabbit tells his mama that the party is going to be small as in just him and his mother.

Finally, in a crushing blow, his mother says that she too has to sit this one out.  At any given moment, she can cry happy tears watching rabbit and his brothers and sisters grow up.  She can cry tears of frustration when life just doesn't seem to be going her way and she can cry tears of sadness when it's all just too much.

It's at this moment that rabbit begins to cry and realizes that its okay.

Later that night after dinner and the dishes, I headed out by myself and started to cry in the car.  I didn't know what to attribute it to and in fact the more that I tried to rationalize it, the more the flood gate of tears came.

Sometimes, we just need to cry.  To scream.  To stand in fear.  To cower with doubt.  To be paralyzed in the certainty that it won't work out.  To be overjoyed by a milestone that would never come. To be blown away in utter surprise at a person or an event.  To know that the boogie man is really just in our head.  To feel sorry for ourselves.  To be ecstatic that we dodged a bullet.  To be hopeful.  To feel hopeless.  And then, to let it go and cry.

It feels good.  It's a natural release.  And it doesn't go away the older we become.  Hopefully, age encourages us to access it more frequently, recognizing that we can't control everything.  In fact, we can't control much.  But a good cry makes the world feel right again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ode to Kate on Her Sixth Birthday

Today we celebrated your sixth birthday with homemade fairy wings, pixie dust, painted toe nails, giggling girl friends, cupcakes, punch and chocolate milk...and your papa and I were in Heaven watching you flit around as the beautiful fairy princess you are.

For so many reasons, I love you, Kate. 

When I look into your eyes, I see the purest parts of all that is beautiful, available, and connected in the world.  Different than me, you live smack dab in the present.  You inhabit the right part of your brain completely and when the sunshine and wind hit your arms, you move them through the air to feel your body in space.  When you're painting, you swoosh the brush and splat the paint pretending that you're Jackson Pollock, but only better.  And when you're reading, you do all of the voices and pause for affect while waiting for your audience to notice the moment.

You remind me that life is a gift and that our only job is to look around and take it all in.  You teach me how to be more and more open with greater let down my guard and to try to seek experience rather than perfection.

You hug me and tell me that you love me to the moon and back a gazillion times and when I repeat the same, you retort, I guess we love each other so, so, so, so much and that's a good thing.

In a few short weeks, you'll start first grade and for the first time, you will be away from me more hours during the day than you ever have before.  How is that possible?  Where did the time go? 

Watching the countless ways that you socialize at the pool, on the playground, and in line at the local Target store, I have no doubt that you're more than ready to be in school all's just that I'll miss you.  I'll miss watching you draw, listening to you negotiate with your sister, making your grilled cheese with the crusts cut off, encouraging you to take just one more nap so that I can snuggle next to you, braiding your hair before you put your ballet slippers on, and singing "You Are My Sunshine," while you dance in the living room.

But as you grow, which inevitably you will just keep doing, I pray that you'll continue to be courageous.  Have a heart that trusts and loves even when there are no guarantees.  Believe that at the core of it, people are good and give your friends the benefit of the doubt.  Be patient with papa, you are his first daughter and will always be his little princess, so don't plan to wear a bikini well for forever.  Know that we love you more than any ode could ever convey and that we hope this next year will bring you more joy, adventure, big love, and blessings than you can imagine.

Happy Sixth Birthday,, Mama

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just Another Day at the Movies

Allow me to set the stage.

I woke up this morning with a sore throat that to be fair, I'd been babying for a few days prior.

Against my better judgement, I decided that it might be best if the kids and I lay low and try to do something that required minimal energy output.

Boom.  That's when I checked Facebook and discovered that our neighborhood theater was hosting a free family movie morning.  The price of admission was canned food items for a local not for profit and the ability to get there at least 30 minutes prior to the movie showing time.

"African Cats" was the flick.  Beautiful.  A little popcorn, little Starburst, big fat Dr. Pepper for mama and we're in business.

Until.  This horrid lady and her crazy daughter sat down beside me and she begins with, "Do you know if there's a special on concessions today?"  "Um, no...I've never done this before, " I retort as I visibly pump my littles full of popcorn, soda, candy and previews.  "Oh, well, you should have waited.  They have dollar pop and popcorn days on Tuesdays. You could have saved some money."

And then, "Did you know that the lions kill animals in this movie?  I see that you have little ones."

Da Fuck??  Get off my back, bee-yatch or I'll infect you with my throat bug. 

And then, "Mama, I pooped," out of my two-year old toddler.  Holy a rush to get out of the house, I forgot to bring a diaper.  Shit balls.

Just then, like an angel from Heaven, one of my besties shows up with her girlie and I beg her to sit beside me and shield me from Library Know-it-All while I run to the concessions and the potty with my shitty smelling daughter.

"You're gonna have to tell me when you need to go potty," I say holding her ass over the far too big toilet bowl, "Because mama doesn't have any fresh under panties or diapers."  "Okay, mama," says Claire with a mischievous look that says your moments are numbered and I'm planning to shit Reeses Pieces all over your shorts.

And then the flick starts.  So far so good.  The killing is manageable.  No poop in my lap.  My two-year old is busying herself with candy.  I'm living the dream.

And then she gets up and starts bugging the people sitting in front of us and threatening her brother for his Sour Patch Kids with a scream as if to say, "Give me the candy, bitch or I'll blow up the place with my shrieking."  And I beg him...give her the freaking candy!!! He reluctantly relents.

Finally, she yells, "Bathroom...I've got to go potty."  And I jump up to go and discover that she only goes a dribble.  We do this dog and pony show another time and then finally, I say, screw this.  I'm waiting with you out in the lobby until this Savannah, Lion Pride shit is done.

Good Lord....she ran into the opening day showing of "Despicable Me," tried to rip the cardboard advertisement for the "Smurfs," and snuck under the bathroom stall door scaring yet another patron.

When it was finally over, I pulled them into the car and thought about screaming but just decided that I would laugh instead and then, I screamed for good measure.  My throat is more on fire...but at least no one died.

Just another day at the movies.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Today, We'll be the Parents

On the drive home from the pool this afternoon, the kids were drinking juice boxes and giggling.

Out of nowhere, Kate (5) matter of factly piped up from the back seat with, "I think we're going to be the parents today and you guys get to be the kids."

Laughing hysterically, I nearly snorted my iced coffee out of my nose and replied, "Beautiful!  Tell me what you're most excited about being the parents."

"Well, we're gonna make you do what we want.  So, you get to take out the trash, vacuum, clean our room, and you have to go to bed when we say like at seven o'clock," retorted Kate.

"And then, we get to stay up as late as we want and play the iPad or watch a movie and when we go to bed, we can close the door and yell, 'BULLS EYE!'" exclaimed Sam (8).

What in the Hell is that???? Bulls Eye??? I was scared to ask what that meant. So, I just burst out laughing and said, "You know what I'm most excited about? Having someone change my diapers."

To which the kids snorted apple juice and said, "That's gross, mama!"

"Yeah, but then I wouldn't have to worry about making it to the bathroom, right?  Pretty sweet."

At the end of the car ride, we both decided that it was best to be in the roles that we inhabit, at least for today.

However, I have to say that I desperately miss being a kid...having forced nap time, an entire day to do nothing except go where the wind takes, if they made spiked juice boxes, I might consider time travel.

Until then, I guess I'll stick with being the mama and wiping my own behind.