Friday, October 31, 2014


Everywhere I turn lately,

I'm hearing messages about the importance of "showing up," even if, or especially if, I'm not prepared, perfect, or in bullet-proof form ready to embrace the opportunity in front of me.

So, as I was preparing my kiddos for their Halloween festivities this weekend...

Side Note: Claire is Snow White. Kate is "Toothless," from the book series "How to Train Your Dragon."  And Sam is a Master Ninja. 

I was mindful of the ways that we project who we are to the world.  The masks that we wear particularly, when we're feeling unsure or afraid.  The disguises that help us to navigate uncharted territory.

What do we want them to think?  Are we tough?  Bookish?  Funny?  Beautiful?  Whimsical?  Successful?  In high-demand?  How much work do we put into the shell instead of letting the raw hang out there for everyone to react the way that they will?

I've recently stumbled upon a blog and New York Times best selling author that I love.  Glennon Doyle Melton.  Her blog is Momastery and her book is  Carry On Warrior.  It's really off-the-charts fabulous.  A compilation of her blog excerpts, she cultivates an appreciation for what it means to "show up" even when none of it makes sense, feels good, or was a part of the plan...whatever the plan was.  She's down to earth, real, raw and for me, completely relatable.

Immediately, it struck a chord.  How many times do I tell myself that I'll begin (insert project or activity) when I'm (insert conditional behavior).  For example, I'll swim at the pool with my kids when I lose 10 pounds.  Until then, I'll take them, but I won't take off my cover-up or get into the water.  I'll start looking for another job or work on my resume after the first of the year.  I'll call to talk to a friend about how they're doing post the divorce once I give them some more time to process it.  And then, you realize that it's been a month or six months.  And you run into that friend in the grocery store and you're embarrassed that you haven't reached out.  Or you realize that your kids don't want to swim with you anymore, they're more interested in their friends.

One of the comments that I hear about my blog is that it's crazy how I'm willing to be so personal or so vulnerable with the world.  And am I not worried that a potential future employer will be doing their due diligence and stumble upon my dirty laundry.  I did worry about that for a bit.  I wondered why it was so easy to share the parts of me that many would reserve only for a close-knit group of folks.

And then I realized that our entire human existence is based on being vulnerable.  If the only reason that we are here is to love, well, there is no greater place of vulnerability and truth than in the land of love.

And after plenty of time in corporate and not-for-profit environments and now at home, I've decided that my life is too short to spend it in a mask walking up and down halls in and out of meetings trying to be something that I'm not.

I am who I am.  Messy, imperfect, contradictory, hopeful, beautiful, frustrating, and loving.  I am here for a reason.  Unfortunately, I don't know for how long.  So, my purpose is to spend my time being as vulnerable, as true to "me" as I can be for the benefit of my Master Ninja, "Toothless" dragon and Snow White princess.

And when I think about that, it's really not that hard at all.  It's kind of freeing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Growth Through Stillness

I had to take a break.

A bit of a time out.

It started last Friday night when my husband and son went on a boyscout camping trip while my middle daughter went to a birthday party and my youngest went to sleep.

I decided that I didn't have anything more to give.  So, I checked out.  I can't remember the last time that I didn't do a long run on a weekend or gather a load of laundry to be washed or find my way to our church for mass or really make my way to the shower.

I just stopped and decided to try-on being quiet for a while.

I treated myself to what 81-year old actress Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn't Live Here) calls "shouldless days." Moments that are owned by no one except for you.

It was delicious and scary and exciting and foreign to be alone.

In that time, I found a quote by Pema Chodron that hit home and helped me to remember that more often than I think, I must slow down, ground myself, and be reminded of what is most important.

So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds, we sit with that restlessness when yesterday, we couldn't sit for even one, that's the journey of the warrior.

Not that I fancy myself a warrior in the slightest, but I do believe that life is a journey that sometimes, must be endured.

What I do know that I am a master at is giving every reason under the sun as to why I shouldn't be quiet.

Quiet is a luxury...a place for people who do not have children or who's kids are grown and out of the nest.

There's really too much to do.

It's irresponsible to spend time by myself not doing something that will aid my family.

It's boring.

If I'm quiet, I'll fall asleep.

But sometimes, the body, the mind, and the heart just give out. And you have no choice.

You're forced to sit in the silence.

And, it's a good thing.

And after you fight it with everything you have, you realize that you're not solving the problems of the world, but your nervous system is calming down.  The world around you feels less chaotic.  You are safe.  You are enough.  You are loved.  And all will be well.  Really, all is well.

You emerge knowing in your soul that true growth emanates from stillness.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Demystifying the Bad Stuff

This week has been a bit of a blur.

Coming and going.  Managing homework, field trips, housework, volunteer

So, it was particularly enjoyable last night around the dinner table with my family.

Our oldest had just come home from a really fun field trip and was sharing everything he'd learned.  Our middle had gone on two field trips the prior day and was chiming in and our baby, well, she was singing, disrobing and adding in her two cents whenever she felt like it.

But it was my son's comment that struck me.

"Mom, when is it okay to say a bad word?"

Tell me what you mean.

"I don't know.  It's okay."

No, really.  Is there a bad word you heard that you want to say?

"I guess so.  Someone said (and he spelled out the following...)" H*O*L*Y  S*H*I*T and I guess sometimes, it's on the tip of my tongue to say...I*D*I*O*, I was just wondering when it's when I'm a grown up?"

These are good questions.  I guess Dad and I have a policy that if you're ever curious about trying something out or wondering what it feels like to do something, we'd prefer if you tell us and then, as best as we can (not in all situations), we'll let you try it on here first.  So, do you want to say I*D*I*O*T?  It's okay, if you do.  Say it 10 times or 20...but only here.

"Nope.  I'm good.  I was just wondering."

As the kids filed away from the table and I started loading the dishwasher, my husband started laughing and said, "How about smoking crack?  Maybe a three-some?  Okay, Okay...just a little heroin?"

For fuck sake, I'm just trying to keep the lines of communication open, the house a safe place to try on the things you're not supposed to and well, cut me some slack.

He couldn't stop laughing and neither could I.

I have a feeling that bigger kids are just going to mean bigger stresses.

Maybe we should pray that they just stay little for a little longer.

Here's to saying douche canoe and ass hat as many times as you want to at home, maybe just not the crystal meth.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Case of the Withering Sock Monkey

I'm getting ready to run my last race of the year.

It's a half marathon in it's inaugural year and as such, the course looks really fantastic.

Filled with fun landmarks, rolling hills, good people and hopefully, a little more fall-like, beautiful weather, I think it will be a great way to end 2014.

In an effort to let anxiety and expectations go, I've been drinking out of a coffee mug to help bring me back to the basics.

It boasts a well known quote, but a good one.

it does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble
or hard work. it means to be in
the midst of those things and still
be calm in your heart.

Post this last Half, I have to decide what to do next.

I turn 40 in 2015 and have an opportunity to run another marathon, take my hand at a triathlon or focus on 10K races to try to increase my speed.

A friend recently mentioned that I should keep running because I love it so much and try to publish an essay or submit a piece to "Modern Love," my favorite column in The New York Times.

Her words were...writers write...just like runners run.

And why not?  There's nothing to lose.  You'll never look back and wish that you hadn't tried.

And then she saw, my older son Sam's well loved, in need of being mended, sock monkey...


and said, "See, that will be you, if you don't do something that is just your own outside of your family, over time, little bits will fall out."

Oh, for the Love of God, I retorted.  I do plenty that's just mine.

"No really, you need to have something that you dedicate time, effort, passion, and elbow grease to that at the end of the day can only be claimed for yourself...or pretty soon, you're going to be the real life living case of that pathetic sock monkey."

Oh Christ...(laughing)'re so fucking melodramatic.

"I'm just saying...we only live once.  How are you going to make that big heart of yours proud?"

And then, she left.

Damn it.  She's kind of right.

What will I do that will be all mine?  Particularly if it doesn't involve full-time work for some years to come.

Alright, here's to Walt Whitman...

"That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Afternoon at the Forest

I am the co-leader for my second grader's Brownie Troop.

It's really a very fun gig.  We get to sing, dance, create, serve and earn lots of badges.

Today, we spent the afternoon in Fontenelle Forest on a guided nature walk earning our Outdoorsmanship badge.

It was, well, nothing short of spectacular.

This time of year makes the Forest even more stunning than it normally is.

Miss Kathy taught us how to locate poison ivy, different forms of scat, which kinds of birds make what kinds of nests (the hawk's nest was the favorite), the in's and out's of Daddy Long Leg spiders, what to do if you get lost in the wilderness and how to respect the home of the creatures who live in nature.

We were keen observers.

But the one thing that I kept coming back to as we traversed the paths and crunched the leaves and watched yellow, red, and golden orange bits fall from the sky is that we're such a small part of all of this incredible world.  We have an important responsibility to respect each other, to use the earth's resources wisely and to observe rather than to collect.  Our job is to notice and to admire, not to amass.  Be mindful of what is there, but leave it in it's rightful place.  Don't take what is not yours.

And so, as Kate and I were driving home, I shared this quote with her...

Because truly, we are the most aligned, healthiest, peaceful parts of ourselves when we let go and embrace the natural world around us.

Here's to an afternoon in the Forest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Star of the Week

This little munchkin is Star of the Week at her preschool. 

If you don't know what that is...well, every child in the class gets one week during the school year to share who they are and what they are most known for...they bring a poster from home that highlights their favorite food, song, book, color....who their siblings and pets are...and, what they want to be when they grow up.

To which, my little 3-year old Claire Bear announced, "I want to be a mommy when I grow up."

Wow, I retorted.  That's fantastic!  Maybe, you'll be a mommy and a research scientist or an author?

"Nope...just a mommy.  I want to make macaroni and cheese and brownies and cookies and pumpkin muffins and chocolate shakes and go to the park and sing Old McDonald Had a Farm and paint nails and play My Little Ponies and go to the library."

How many kiddos do you want to have in your family?

"Um, like 22, I think.  And a dog.  I really, really want to have a pet."

And will you yell at your children?

"Yes, and give them a hug when they cry and tell them to make a positive choice."

I think you can be a mommy after you go to grade school and then high school and then undergraduate and graduate school and study abroad in at least two countries, deal?

"That's a long time away."

Yes, yes, it is.  But I think you'll find that it will be worth the wait.

"Well, maybe I don't want to do that.  I think I want to work at Starbucks."

Now, you're talking.  That's acceptable, as long as you give me limitless supplies of free coffee.


Monday, October 20, 2014

To Sorrow is To Live

I don't know where you live, but here in the midwest, the weather is stunning.

The leaves are turning extraordinary shades of abundant red, orange and yellow.  The temperature is mild and the sun, at least for the past several days has been shining.

So, on my way to the gas station and the grocery store this morning, I was smiling in gratitude. 

I needed to.  I'd been moping a bit.  Care taking for my two daughters who have been down for the count with the flu and now feeling badly that my husband has caught the bug. 

Just as I rounded the bend, out of the blue, a friend sent a text to tell me that she was grateful for the spirit of joy I bring to her life.  I was astounded and probably looked like a dip shit with big tears in my eyes at the gas pump.  We exchanged a few messages; one in which, I lamented about how sometimes life isn't fair and that certain things don't add up.

That's when she sent me this:

"Joyfully participate in the sorrow of living," Buddha.

And then, a moment later, this popped up in my in-box.

As I was throwing ingredients into the grocery cart to make chicken noodle soup, apple crisp and pumpkin muffins, I started throwing it around in my head.  It makes sense.  There are so many attachments, desires, cravings, fears that we walk around harboring.  Some of them will be actualized and some of them will not.

I suppose, our job is not to wallow in the parts of us that don't work out the way that we yearn, but rather to learn to live with the outcome, the season, the challenge, the trial with joy.

Essentially, to relish as best we can in the sorrow, the failure, the shortcoming, the hurt and to trust that it is temporary.

And maybe to be reminded that

Here's to friends and falling leaves and quiet moments of solitude that let us know we're not alone in our journey.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why We Do It

Yep, that's a picture of my foot and my blackened toe.

I'm gonna lose another one.

This will be my fourth casualty in the love of running.

When I inadvertently showed my friend the other day, she said, "Why in the Hell do you do that shit? Haven't you suffered from like every running injury known to man?  Maybe, we're just too old."

And, well, she's kinda right.  I've had shin splints, IT band issues, hamstring, knee and heel pain, lost toe nails and now, some unknown throbbing pain on the top of my right foot. 

So, I started thinking about it.  Why do I do it? Maybe running is just too hard on the body, particularly the older you get and if you were never really an athlete in the first place.

Then, because being a mama is my primary role in life, I started likening motherhood to running. 

Being a mother is not easy, by any stretch.  There are days when I come out of the trenches looking far worse for the wear with very little reward to show for it minus the fact that my children are alive and I am too...but just barely.  I've suffered infinite scrapes and bruises to my heart and my ego, continuous amounts of sleep deprivation, hair pulling, back talking, eye rolling, screaming, crying, gnashing of the teeth...and that's just getting started.

But after nine years of doing this gig with three kiddos, I've also experienced a love that is unparalleled by anything else.  And I would walk through fire for any one of them every day and twice on Tuesday.

And well, it's worth it.

Just like running.  When it starts to hurt or gets to be a bit overwhelming, you back off, try a new route, ice down the worn parts, ibuprofen the inflammation, and then, well you get back on the horse.

Because the high that comes from the endorphins, the adrenaline, the release of toxins and unnecessary stress is really, well for me, unparalleled by anything really, other than, wait for it, wait for  You knew that I had to say it.

For now, I'm stuck with the ugly parts of me like blackened toe nails, chaffing and sore quads.

As well as the sassy comments from the littles when they're overstimulated, undernourished, irritated at the world, or just in a funk...but sooner, rather than later, I'm reminded of why we do what we's so worth it.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sacred Time

I picked up my middle child sick from school yesterday.

She came down with the dreaded flu that her younger sister most likely gave to her or any of the other kiddos in her class at school.

High fever, chills, no appetite, exhaustion.

After a night of alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen, we both woke up tired.

I turned on the coffee and she grabbed a blanket and the couch.

Wringing out the wash cloth with really cold water, grabbing the Gatorade and making the toast, I thought, I can't run, not for 10 miles.

My phone said that the temp was 41 degrees.  Perfect. The sun was masked but only slightly by the clouds and I had new songs on my playlist.  And I only had a short window, my son had a flag football game, so I had to be back in an hour and a half.

Scarfing down a banana and grabbing my gear, I left.  And I ran and I ran and I ran.  Never stopping until I made it home.  It was glorious.  There really is nothing better than running in the fall.

But then, I came home and Kate's fever had spiked again and she was miserable.  We laid down together and took a long nap, but right before we fell asleep, she said, "Thanks for taking care of me, mama."

Always, I love you.

"I love you too.  And when you get sick, I'll take care of you."

To which, I instantly transported myself to end of life thoughts and thought about my daughter putting cold wash cloths on my head until I could no longer bear it.

This time is sacred.  There's no question that pop up illnesses are inconvenient and detour us from the plans we've made, but they are brief, gentle reminders to slow down and to serve those we love. It really is one of the holiest things we can do for each other.

Here's to her fever breaking and hot coffee in the morning.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kicking Ass Taking Names

"Are you home?  I'd love to swing by and bring you a coffee..."

"Shit...I'm already in the Starbucks drive through (shocker) and on the way to the library with my Claire Bear. Want to meet us?"

"On my way."

I feel extraordinarily blessed to have really great friends in my life.  Friends who are loyal.  Friends who are funny, witty, beautiful, and filled with a shit ton of wisdom. 

And this friend is particularly incredible.  I've taken to calling her the Phoenix.  Give her any set of circumstances and she will rise above the ashes and gracefully shine in the process.

And so while watching Claire gather her stuffed animal friends and gazads of books, we talked about the potential suitors in her life, taking care of our bodies, and possible career opportunities.

I told her that now that my kiddos are getting bigger, I'm trying to incorporate all of the parts of me that remind me most of "me" while still being a wholly committed wife and mother.  So, hopefully, the kick ass and take names academic and career-driven woman that I remember from my 20's still has a place in my life...if only modified and hopefully, a bit wiser and less insecure.

She agreed.  And said that she's pursuing a really fabulous job recognizing that now is the time in her life to go a bit more full throddle in the career department.  "What do have to lose?  I can do my best and if I hate it, I'm not wed to it. I can do something else. That's the best part about being older and wiser.  You realize that you do have what it takes, you just have to decide if it's really what you want."

Bingo.  I've been lamenting this whole getting older pushing my fortieth birthday thing and really for what?  It's got to be true that with age comes experience and with experience comes perspective and with perspective comes preference and ultimately, when you've landed where you feel most engaged, utilized and happy in your heart, you know that you're where you're supposed to be...which is the really what it's all about.

So, in the final moments of 2014, I reassert my New Year's resolution, "Fuck fear." Go out and do your thing.  Kick ass and take names in whatever way you need to show up in your life.  What do you have to lose?  Nothing other than a big bag of regrets.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Next Right Thing

Do you ever feel like you're perpetually "off the wagon?"

I'm not sure what the triggers, temptations, or burdens are for you...

but for me, they look a lot like procrastination, not taking the high road instead, throwing a temper tantrum when I should just bite my tongue, eating too much chocolate or potato chips, indulging in too much Starbucks, coveting my neighbor's stuff or the girl who is off the charts fit at the gym, and not following through with my commitment to run regularly and to take care of myself.

For some friends, it's having too much wine in the evening too often, taking a trip that they really can't afford, fantasizing a little too regularly about a different life, or spending too much time with a screen in front of their face instead of the ones they love.

Whatever it is...we all know what plagues us and that we wish we had more will power and stamina to change.

So, the other night when I was throwing a pity party for myself about my weight, my inability to keep my running on track and my frustration with being on this ridiculous rat wheel for too long, my husband just turned to me and said, "It's easy. Just do the next right thing."

So, put the M&M's down.  Pick up the glass of water.  Lay out your running clothes.  Set your alarm.  Forgive yourself for the past.  Choose differently.  At any point, you always get the opportunity to behave differently. Just decide and then do the next right thing.

I thought it was brilliant.  Obnoxiously obvious, but really right on the money and applicable to every situation in life.

At any given time, we know what we could be doing instead of what we are doing.  So the task is first to stop.  That's it.  Just stop.  Enough already.

And then, do what you're supposed to do.

Because the truth is, we feel better when we find ourselves taking the high road again and again. 

Easier said than done, I know.  But sometimes, we just have to be reminded that we can, if we choose to, do the right thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We've Forgotten

After picking up the kids from school one day last week, we headed to get smoothies.

Laughing and exchanging stories, our car pulled up to a red light.

A girl who looked to be in high school was standing on the corner with a sign that said, "Hungry."

My 9-year old son was visibly shaken.

We sat next to her completely silent until the light turned green.

I had no cash...not even a granola bar or a fruit snack to offer.

Feeling his pain, I asked him how seeing her made him feel..."really, really sad...where's she gonna go tonight?"  I just looked at him.

This morning at the grocery store, I watched a woman throw receipts and gum wrappers from her purse onto the ground.  I picked them up and put them in the trash.

At the check out lane, the man in front of me was frenetic.  In a hurry, he was irritated that the cashier wasn't keying in the produce numbers fast enough and that the baby to our left was crying.  He hemmed and hawed and told her to just throw it all in a bag.  "I've gotta get to work."

At the post office, a couple was in line behind me and the wife was furious.  "You said you were gonna do this last week.  Now, it's gonna be late.  You call and tell them."  He never stopped looking at his shoes and she kept at it for what felt like forever.  As I was leaving, I smiled at him, as if to say, hey, the sun's shining.  It's gonna be okay.

In the mix of the chaos, the busyness, the pace of our lives, we've forgotten...what we mean to each other...which is everything.

There are a myriad of reasons for not giving someone on the street corner your loose change.  I know, I've heard them all.  But I'm certain that somewhere, at sometime, someone gave something to you that they didn't have to, that maybe you were entirely undeserving of...just because.  And that act of generosity, of kindness, of good faith made a difference.

Likewise, you're just an asshole if you treat the cashier at any retail joint poorly.  You have no idea what it took to get them out their own door to most likely a shitty paying job that has to serve ass hats like you with a smile on their face.  And really, at some point in your life, you have to serve another, so why not be nice while you're being served.

As we all walk around trying to figure out why we're here, my hope is that sooner, rather than later, we realize that it's not to make money.  It's not to have a specific title on a business card.  It's not to amass things.  It's not to thwart power.

The only reason that we're truly here is to love one another.  That's it.  Not perfectly, not flawlessly, not always unconditionally...but with a spirit that says, you are just as valuable as I am.

And so, even though it was hard, I'm glad that my son was visibly shaken by the young homeless girl.  Even if she has a phenomenal scam business, it's clear that she's not in a good spot, physically and emotionally.  I hope my son never becomes immune to seeing poverty and what it looks like to be void of connection, love and hope.

At the end of the day, we've got to remember that we belong to each other.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stomach Flu and Ariana Grande

She woke up from a nap yesterday ready to hurl.

I felt so badly.  It's no fun to be three and have the stomach flu.

But we held her hair back and she did what she needed to do.

And then proceeded to spend the rest of the night on the couch watching episodes of "Wild Krats" while drinking Gatorade and being very hot.

It was a long night and so, I opted to not run this morning...which even when it seems like the right thing to do, always finds a way to bite me in the ass.

And so, after playing countless games of Sorry, Sequence For Kids, Zingo, Mommies and Babies and reading "Where the Wild Things Are" and doing all of the voices, I took a break.

A friend brought a venti Americano to my abode and I sucked it my kitchen...while putting the dishes away...with my headphones on...belting out this song.

And that's when you came in..."Why do you have one less problem without me?"

I started to laugh until I realized that you really felt sad.  I took out my headphones and played the song for you and told you it was just a fun song to run to...and then, we danced to this one...until I realized that was probably the wrong thing to do when your tummy isn't feeling the best.

In the end, we're choosing to shake off the blues of the stomach flu and I am willing this shit out of my home.  It's too early in the season...sickness be gone.  I've got one less problem without ya.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harvesting a Story

Pumpkin muffins are cooling on the counter.

A candle is burning...a hot cup of coffee in my hand.

Rain is sputtering out my window and lots of colorful leaves are falling to the ground.

I know what this means. 

Fall is saying goodbye.

And I'm melancholy working on my short story.

Trying to do what Anne Lamott teaches in "Bird by Bird," which is to develop your characters first and then let them dictate what the plot will be.  But it's hard.

I've lived with these characters for a little while.  I take them on my runs with me.  I think about what they eat, who their friends are, what makes them belly laugh, what secrets linger in their souls that they don't share with their closest confidants, who they want to be when no one's judging them, what lies in their pockets, which street they live on and who loves them.

I've got a pretty good sense of who they are as people, but it's who they are to each other that seems to be the challenge.

That, and trusting that their connection will converge a tale worth spinning and sharing with at least one other person in the world.

And this is when I want to stuff a million M&M's into my face and scream, "Writing is stupid.  It takes too much time.  No one cares.  It doesn't pay the bills.  At it's best, only a handful of folks appreciate it.  And, woe is me."

Ridiculous, I know.  It's not finding a cure for cancer.  It's not mentoring a child.  It's not shoveling a walk for an elderly neighbor.

It's writing...a short story for God sakes.

So as the leaves continue to fall, I quietly beg them, please hold on...just for a few more weeks.  Stick with me and inspire me.  Help me to see these people come to life and to know what and who they are to the world...much the same as I'm trying to figure out my own place in the grand scheme.

And let me be patient with the unknown and the unseeable and trust in Nietzche:

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”

Here's to harvesting a story.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Market 2 Market Magic

I lucked out.

In every way imaginable.

This was my second year participating in a 79-mile Market 2 Market (M2M) relay race from Omaha to Lincoln, Nebraska.

If you've never done one of these deals before, it's an absolute blast.  Over 500 teams gather in vehicles, many of which are decorated (both the cars and the people) in hysterical themes like the Victoria's Secret Panty Wagon, the CDC Rapid Response Team and the Smurfs.  One by one, runners jump out of their cars carrying a baton to run 2-5 miles per stage with a total of 21 different exchange points across eastern Nebraska until your team completes 79 total miles of running.

You traverse stunning trails, beautiful rural scenery, loads of small towns and end up in fabulous downtown Lincoln for beer, music and celebration.

This year was truly amazing.

The weather was spectacular.  The high was 60 degrees with loads of sunshine and the perfect amount breeze.

But hands down, what made it the best, were my team mates.  Here we are:

Meet Sarah...she's "St. Patrick's Day"...the one in green and yellow on the left and the youngest one of the bunch..she indulged me while I gave her a speech about why she wasn't allowed to get married until she turned 30 and how she needed to travel, buy frivolous shit and have lots of sex before she tied the knot.

Then there's me...I'm cupid or "Valentine's Day"...I'm holding a bow and arrow and flung lots of phrases like vaginal secretion and sweet Mary Mother of God's at the team...they were all good sports about it.

Now, onto Deb, she's "Fourth of July" and probably the nicest person on the face of the earth.  A nurse and mother of three, she gave everyone lots of positive reinforcement and a swift kick in the ass when we needed to get our run on.

And then adorable, Ann...she's the yellow "Easter" Bunny.  She laughed at all my jokes and drank copious amounts of beer in the car once her hamstring bit it after her last run.  And she was my pee partner.  We pissed behind trees at an exchange point and looked out for each other.

Oh God...then meet the team captain, Jessica "Jess"...she is "Christmas" and this bitch will light you up.  She is hysterical.  She was the primary driver and took shit from no one.  She would mow your ass down when it came time to get us from point A to point B and then drank everyone under the table post the shin dig.  We love you, Jess!

Laura...AKA scary as shit "Halloween"...this Catholic High School teacher had more tricks up and down her sleeves...a bone in her hair, a snake in her sock, a spider on her leg and cob webs up and down her chest...she was lightning speedy and got the job done...the Smurfs didn't stand a chance.

And then there's Chad or "Memorial Day" friend from high school that I recruited to join our crazy band of bitches. While you're lucky to get three words out of him the whole car ride, when it comes to charging your phone, making sure that you don't get lost on the course, and that sub 7-miles were accumulated...he's your man.  Here's a fun picture of us.  We spent time lamenting that we're turning 40 this year.

Missing from the photo because she was on the race course is Melissa or "Cinco de Mayo"  She cracks my shit up.  She literally brought bacon and Vodka as fuel for the trek.  She was fast and determined.  No smurf was gonna smoke her ass.

The day was a super fun mix of twizzlers, peanut M&M's, almonds, bananas, Gatorade, fig newtons, Greek yogurt, dance music, sweaty stench (primarily courtesy of me), lots of cursing (again, hats off to me) and gazads of cheering.

But I would be remiss, if we didn't pay homage to the Testicle Festival Sign that we all modeled for. Glorious site, indeed.
By the time it was all said and done, we were worn out, but super "happy in our hearts."  The sun was going down.  We had Michelob Ultras in our hands, fun music playing in the background and an extraordinary sense of accomplishment. 

It was a great day to be a team of 7 girls and 1 guy staying healthy, getting a little crazy and remembering that life is for the living...but that ultimately, it takes a village to get there.  Love you, crazy cats.  Let's do it again next year!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Days are Long

I know all of the mantras.

Don't wish this time away.

Before you blink, they'll be grown and gone.

The days are long, the years are short.

You can't imagine it now, but you're gonna miss time of my life.

And yet, this morning as I was rushing around to get it all done, I slowed for a moment and remembered...

Fork, knife, spoon, coffee mug, juice glass, water bottle, towels in dryer, whites in the washer, jammies in the pajama drawer, toothbrushes in their holders, pull the covers up, throw the pillows on, pull out of the driveway tuning her favorite CD, kiss her, leave a note in her mailbox, grocery store, apples, can't forget the toilet paper, Target, why am I here at least twice a week?, gas station, why do these birds keep shitting on the car?, bank, deposit jewelry money, meeting at church, back to the preschool, oh my God...I'm not drinking enough water for the race tomorrow, shit...what if I get lost on the course?, and now she's whining, uh oh, she feels warm, oh no, no fevers before tomorrow, back to the house, boil water for the macaroni and cheese, construction paper on the table, oil pastels, you spell it...C...L...A...I...R...E., shit, I forgot to pull his work shirt out of the dryer, have to call back the dentist, she needs to get that tooth pulled, why won't they let us wear headphones on the course?, can I run the whole time without music?, is his jersey clean for the football game tomorrow? damn, macaroni and cheese boiling over...

This is about 3.5 hours of my morning.  I know, you're glad you're not me.

I live in my head a lot.  Remembering, planning, strategizing, organizing, keeping track, praying, hoping, being grateful.

And while I trust that this time is sacred, it is also incredibly exhausting and full, very, very full.

I'm certain that many other women do it better.  They have systems in place.  They're creative.  They're organized.  Or, they just don't give a shit.

I'm in the space of trying to be appreciative while simultaneously being butt ass tired.

So, it's hard to not want this time to pass because I really do look forward to space, time to think, the idea of being alone, and a bit more sufficiency from my littles.

But as I look at them and listen to them, I am mindful that this is the great adventure, exhausting as it may be.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sayonara Squirrel

Every morning this week has been particularly stunning.

The weather is crisp but not freezing.  The sun is shining.  The leaves are calling.  And all of it beckons you to walk and take it in.

And so we did. 

My three soon-to-be four year old and me.

And it was lovely and fun for so many reasons.

Claire has been singing her whole God given life.  I'm not kidding.  The child can create a tune and lyrics out of anything.  And while she'll indulge you in the traditional verses of A, B, C, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and You Are My Sunshine...she most prefers her own numbers.

Imagine us strolling down a boulevard trail with various other runners, walkers, cyclists, and four legged creatures, the following is some of what was belted out on a standard walk to the park...

I love you sidewalk...

It's like there's a party in my tooshie...

Where are you, Peter Pan?  The clouds have taken you away.

The Blood Mobile...a delivery service inside us.

I like your teeth, mama...

Bring back the rice chex...

(giving her the bag of cereal)

(she throws a piece)

Sayonara squirrel...go back to your home.

I literally could not stop laughing on the inside.  Determined not to embarrass her, I just mentally took note of her song lyrics and joined in when I could.

And all this after I was lamenting yesterday about how hard it is to have a preschooler as a life partner all day long.  And now I know that preschoolers are some of the most creative, unabashed, fun folks on the planet.

Here's to many more fall walks before the squirrels vacate the premises and Claire learns that her words are being monitored.

Oh Happy Day!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Staying Power of Endurance

I think I'm ready.

I'm running a 78-mile relay race this Saturday with 7 other team mates. 

The weather is forecast to be 63 and sunny, which should be optimal for running.

My portion is 12.8 miles in 3 different legs.

On the last of my training miles this morning, I started thinking about the basics.  One foot in front of the other.  Efficiency of through the nose and mouth, out through the mouth.  The rhythm of my cadence.  Hamstrings tight. Quads heavy. Sweat dripping.  Hydration. Fuel. Doable.  All very doable.

And for me, this is my life.

Never perfect.  Always slightly off in one area or another...

Similar to when I'm running and it starts to hurt, I have to remind myself that this too shall pass.  And, with time, it does.

The problem is that I don't like to wait.  I want guarantees.  I want to know that the "wants" I have now will materialize into something meaningful, otherwise, what was the point of "wanting" for so long. 

And then, I have to remind myself that the point of waiting, the point of sacrificing, the point of enduring is that typically, all good things come in those who are willing to fight the good fight, relishing the moments in between that make it worth it in the end.

So, while putting in the last of the miles and feeling the burn, I thought about this quote by Charles's a long one, but stick with it, it's worth it.

“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”

And sure enough, it was worth it...sun coming up, the promise of coffee in hand, training miles in the books.  The blessing of a new day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Hidden Me

Anais Nin.

I've sort of loved her for a long time...really, since I remember becoming a woman.

And while she has many, this is one of my favorite quotes.

“There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.”

Her direct wit and instant access to all that is vulnerable, real, sensual and true resonates abundantly with me, especially this morning....

At the end of my daughter Claire's ballet class, I high tailed it to the library to spend some time with my three-year old reading and wrangling puzzles.

After too much coffee, I made a quick pit stop in the restroom. I was in the stall getting ready to do my thing, when I heard a voice say, "I love that you run every morning.  It's inspiring."

Um, thank you, I said with no idea who was talking to me.  And then, because I suck at accepting a compliment, I blurted out, "Don't be impressed.  Mostly, it's a lot of huffing and puffing.  But the early morning seems to be the only time that I can make it work in my life."

Eager to pee, but unsure if she'd retort back, I waited.

"Your blog is cool too.  It's nice to know that someone else is just trying to get by."

"Oh, wow.  Thanks."  And then, because I couldn't take the anonymous identity any longer, I peed like a race horse and rushed out.

It was a friend that I hadn't seen in many moons who was at the library with her kids as well.  We're friends on Facebook, but she rarely posts and so, I had forgotten that she sees my daily status updates and blog.

Washing our hands, she said, "Really, keep running and writing. It gives me the kick I need to get out the door."

And that was it.  She was gone back to her littles and I was stunned.  What I wanted to say to her was, I'm a fraud.  I run slow and I write because I can't help myself...most of it is gibberish at best.  No need to be inspired by me.

Then, I harkened back to Anais Nin.  So much of who we are is wrapped in all of the things that we're not.  We present a smiling face to the people who cross our path, but hidden deep inside lives fear, anxiety, wounds, disappointments, misgivings, bewilderment.

And I suppose the goal is to let go of that which we think we are not and trust in what we know to be true to make the most of this life we've been given.  We're all here for a reason.  Our path has a chartered course.  No one else can leave the unique foot print that is all our own to share.  It is up to us to honor the parts of the woman that are filled with despair and hopelessness while at the same time choosing to greet the opportunity of a new day with hope and possibility. 

Inside of us lives many people...there's no doubt about that.  The question is who will you choose to share with the world?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Dreaded Burpee

Here's what happens...

You get there and you think, all is well.

She's really cute.  She has kind eyes and a sweet voice and she tells you not to be afraid to modify any exercise that you need to.  Got it.  I can do that.

"We're just gonna get started by warming up running around the track.  Go at your own pace and I'll flag you when it's time to head back."

Perfect.  I'm a runner.  This is what I do.  I'll smoke these bitches.

Um...okay...not so much.  That's alright.  Breathing heavier, feeling the blood flowing, I head back into the class.  This is doable.  

Let's remember that the only reason that I'm here is because in the last 6 months, I've had to change it up. 

For the first two years of my running life, I really only had to run...and mind you, I ran a lot...but I then had license to eat and drink what I wanted.

Post running my first marathon and inching closer to 40, this is not the case.  And so, upon the advice of my husband and good friends, I've surrendered to cross-training and lifting.  Apparently, I need to traumatize my metabolism...shock my system into submission.  At this point, I think the only thing I've traumatized is my ego.

Have you done a burpee before?  How about a mountain climber?  Spiderman push-up?  Side plank?  Kettle bells?  Jump squats? Weighted lunges?

Shit.  I thought long distance running was where the bad asses lived.  Fuck no.  The hard core mother fuckers are the people who do this cross fit noise.  Holy Mary Mother of God.

Allow me to share what happened this morning...After multiple sets of arms, legs, abs, and high cardio bursts, she announces that we're going to finish up with burpees because they really do the job and in a weird way, she likes them.  Oh God.  She wasn't the woman I thought she was.

Below is a you tube video if you have no idea what the Hell I'm talking about...

Suffice it to say that I do not look like her when I'm doing these bad boys.  No, I caught a glimpse of myself in one of the five million mirrors that adorn the room we were in and what I looked like was a middle aged woman with a tank top that had flown over her head, her tummy or 'food baby' as I fondly refer to mine launching out of her tightened spandex pants and a face that looked like it was going to explode from lack of oxygen.

It really was a banner moment.

It was at that point that she said, "If you're hating these, keep going...your body will love you for it later."

Sweet Mary, Joseph and St. Jude.  My body may love me later, but my dignity has long since exited the building.

I'm mindful that there are people who are much older than me who are fitter, stronger, and completely capable of blowing my ass out of the water.  It is because of them...particularly, those more senior runners on race day that teach me who's boss...chances are they've been eating their Wheaties and doing their burpees.

God I hate these cross-train exercises...but I'm telling you what...if they make me run faster, live longer and have a smile on my face in the process...then, onwards and upwards...hopefully, with my tank top and dignity intact.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Muse

This weekend has been nothing short of busy.

You know the one where you're looking forward to Monday just so that you can catch your breath.

And through the in's and out's of all there is to do, my discipline for working on a short story writing assignment per my friendly throw-down contest with an undergrad friend is well, not going so well.

Why is it so hard to say goodbye to the to-do's and carve out space for the creative process?

Where do we find our inspiration?

Where is our muse?

Staring off into an oblivion listening to music, "Bright Lights and Cityscapes" by Sara Bareilles came on...take a listen.

And then it came.  It's as though, as the writer, you yearn to be inhabited by the muse...whomever she may be.  You want her to come on like a freight train and you to be ready, the vessel, through which the message will be delivered to the world.  You, the noticer, the observer, the pen....and she the bright lights and cityscapes.  And somewhere in the process, you're exhilarated, mystified, worn out,  never wanting her to leave you...but then, as all good things do, she must go.  And you're left holding the pen wondering when she'll return, exhausted and a bit sad.

I'm certain the creatives find inspiration in the most mundane and the most majestic of spots.  Their partners, blades of grass, color, tragedy, love, desire, washing the dishes, a toe nail, cancer, the birth of a baby.

The world is filled with stories begging to be told.  But sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how deeply you pay attention or how frequently you show up to write, your muse is no where to be found.

It is in these moments that I've decided to stop chasing her and instead to invent her or to recreate her based on the stories inside my heart or those I create in others.

I suppose at the end of the day, muse or no muse, the goal is to keep keep keep being the vessel, trusting that the words and the tales need to be told, if only for the benefit of me.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

You...Through My Eyes

I watch you.

I know it's not easy.

Especially, when the washing machine breaks for the third time and you find yourself 'you-tubing' how to change out pumps and fix drain blockages and crazy shit that used to be reserved for him.

I see that you're tired.

Managing everything.  Making sure that your little ones have what they need for school, their extracurricular activities, their spiritual development, their overall well-being.  This at the same time that you contend with the battery that dies in the car and that pesky tire that gives you heartburn.

Oh and then there's your job.  You're kind of a rock star.  You make the hard stuff look easy and unfortunately, because you're so good, just like at home, people are constantly in need of your expertise.  And because you were a born 'go-to' gal, you never say no.

You bring the snacks and the birthday treats to the classroom.

You stay up late making Halloween costumes and fostering rescue animals.

You refuse to kill spiders or rodents or anything that comes along your path, even if it's a nuisance.

And any stray anything would be lucky to stumble upon you, because odds are, you would make it a part of your family.

Speaking of which...even though it doesn't look like the traditional have cultivated a family.  A real live, beautiful, imperfect, connected family.

And even when the shit hits the fan, you do it.  You defy the word divorce and you embrace the word love.  You stare fear in the face and you fight it with determination and sheer grit.

You are strong.  You have weathered more than most.

And you are beautiful.  God, you are beautiful.

And everyone who meets you or is privileged to get to be a part of your inner circle sees that you radiate loyalty, warmth, kindness and a spirit of generosity that is second to none.

I stand in admiration of the life that you've created for you and your children.

And I just think sometimes, we need to be told. 

You...through my amazing.

Friday, October 3, 2014


"In Heaven, it is always Autumn." john donne

It's happening.

Just as I suspected that it would, almost as if I willed it.  Begging for bundled up stroller rides to the park, the gathering of leaves, particularly, the red ones, hot baths, warm cups of tea, crisp runs, and apples, lots of apples.

Autumn is here and I am in love with it.

But I suppose like any sought after lover, it is fleeting and the worst part is that you have no idea how long it will stay and before you know it, she's gone.

Mindful that the season is ethereal and that these moments really are borrowed time, I try to make the most of them.  It's chilly, maybe even cold...but not arctic.  The leaves are falling from the trees and if you're lucky enough like I am to live next to a ginormous walnut tree, then you get to fill yard waste bags with gazads of leaves, nuts, various twigs and remnants of the summer before the winter comes on thick.

It's my absolute favorite time to run, to write and ultimately, to reflect.  Other than the springtime (the season of my birth), I feel the most like me in Autumn.  I'm not isolated or confined like the wintertime.  I'm still excited about change and hopeful for future aspirations before the snow, ice, and cold temperatures put a damper on thriving and find me hibernating for months.

And so, I've been trying to write every day.  And the ideas much like the leaves are tumbling out.  I'm just trying to get them all down before the winter pains me and makes me feel a bit depressed longing for the warmth and the sunlight.

It's a wonderful time to steep a cup of tea and to take a walk and to know that you are alive. 

And so today, just for a little bit, I stand in awe of the yellows, the oranges, the reds, and the glory of the Autumnal moment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Dance of the Tiger Mama

Okay, I'll admit it. 

I'm a Tiger Mama.

And not a little bit of one either.

If you're not familiar with that term, you might substitute it for a helicopter parent, an "overly involved/engaged" parental influence, a very "hands on" mother.

From the time that my children were in the womb, they probably had a significant inclination that academics are very important to me.  With regard to the school experience, I value academics and the faith component of our educational environment more than anything else.

Specifically, I value the desire to voraciously read, the ability to write well, and the love of learning.

To that end, I firmly believe that every child in the world should have access to a public library and an adult who can help to get them there.

And hopefully, they also have someone or better yet, multiple someones in their life who set the bar high and expect them to achieve beyond what they personally think they are able to.

If you ask my children, they will undeniably tell you that I am "that person" in their lives.

I make no bones about it.  Their job is to go to school and to soak up as much knowledge, insight, wisdom, and information that they possibly can.  And then, when we come home, my job is to both keep them accountable for what they've learned and to provide them with opportunities to apply that knowledge in the world.

They like using their knowledge....they just don't like being accountable for it.

Like most parents, we have instant access to their grades, an amazing source of quick and helpful communication with their educators, and community resources that are abundant when it comes to helping them grasp a concept or master a skill.

What we don't have is enough fucking wine in the house when the shit hits the fan which is about every third night.

And it hits the fan because my oldest, my fourth-grader is on overload.  Like me, he's a type A, first-born who has high expectations of himself and does not want to disappoint.  But he is stubborn and he fights dirty and he has no problems with hitting below the belt.

His latest was something like:

"Fine, mom...I don't care if I fail this test.  It will be your fault.  I'll never leave my bedroom.  And you can live with how that makes you feel."


"Until my grades are suffering, leave me alone."

In both instances, he has a point.  Asserting his independence, he's essentially saying, "Back off, lady.  This is my life.  These are my grades.  I kind of kick ass.  So stop making a Federal case about it."  And in my heart I'm thinking, "You're being lazy.  If you'd just spend half a minute reviewing your work, you wouldn't make careless errors and we wouldn't be in this God foresaken boat after school. And, while we're at it, you should be thankful that you have a mom that cares so much."

Instead, we both sulk.  We exchange sharp words.  We circle the wagons.  Cut each other some slack.  And come back to the complicated, unconditionally loving, albeit, hard as hell, mother son relationship.  And we know that we'll find ourselves right back here again on Tuesday.

I used to care how other moms did it.  Now I don't.  I'm owning how I do it.  Flawed, imperfect and full of love.  Here's to the dance of the Tiger Mama.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I'll preface my comments by saying that if you're easily offended, it's okay to just skip this blog post.  No need to ruin your day with this random nonsense, unless you want to gasp and simultaneously giggle.

I'm notorious for talking about sex in the company of well, most anyone.

My close girlfriends start the stopwatch to see how long it will take me to turn the topic of the dinner/drinks conversation to the naughty stuff that happens in the bedroom.

My husband just laughs it off.  He knows.  I can't help myself.

And so last night at reverse happy hour, over Sake and Sangria, it happened.  The girls and I started talking about know, like how many times married couples have it during the work week, if you look forward to it or feel like it's another obligation on the chore chart and what positions make it more fun and adventurous.

To which, my absolutely hysterical friend said, "Come on, Kelly, maybe you need to incorporate a 'Cleveland Steamer' or a 'Hot Carl' into the mix...I'm sure you're already well versed in the 'Dirty Sanchez.'"

Snotting Sangria out of my nose, I explode with, "What the fuck are you talking about?" laughing hysterically, "What is happening right now?  You're blowing my mind, I think."

And then we simultaneously grabbed our phones and Googled this shit and I thought, Oh my God, I want to vomit.  I had no idea that people had these fetishes.  Maybe my bedroom antics are just fine.

But we couldn't help ourselves and so we kept going, "What about the 'Angry Dragon'?"

Oh dear Lord, now, I'm going to Hell.  I've done it.  The conversation has deteriorated into something that could be used against me in a court of law.  My children are in jeopardy of being taken away, as right they should be.

But I swear, this is what happens when you're a middle-aged stay at home mama that's been married for over a find yourself having drinks with the girls, dishing about jacked up sexual positions, wondering what they'd be like, and then thanking God that your routine sex acts are working just fine.

And to that end, I say, maybe we should all invent our own signature named sexual position and submit it to the Urban Dictionary for review complete with visuals by paid actors who make us look amazing in the act.

Ah, thank goodness I can't afford to do happy hour very often.  I can only handle so much information.  It may be a lesson to me that I need to tone down the sex chats and turn the topic toward something more benign like what people's kids are going to be for Halloween or getting an early jump on my Christmas shopping...but really, where's the fun in that?