Sunday, May 31, 2015

500 Pieces of Writing

This body of writing marks my 500th blog post.

It seems crazy that I've been doing this for so long and yet, when I think about it, it just feels like what I do, an extension of me.

I started this process almost four years ago when my oldest was 6, my middle daughter was 4 and my youngest was 6 months old.  I needed an outlet.  A place to vent the parts of me that were consumed in care giving or had been back burned for far too long.  I thought if I was lucky, it might last a year and then, I'd move on to the next thing.

To be fair, there's been no rhyme or reason to any of the writings.  Most of the posts have been inconsistent and thematically, tend to revolve around the same things...the beauty and chaos of mothering, the identity of a stay at home crazy woman, the love and loss embedded in the decade of the 30's, the hopefulness and fear of what it means to be 40 and the prayers of a woman who desperately wants to create meaning and to carve out purpose and joy.

So what have I learned?  To begin, I've  reconfirmed a few things that have always felt intrinsic to my soul... I'm in love with the gray area and the parts of life that don't add up.  I seek out stories in me and in others that are formative, that make us who we are but aren't often brought up in polite conversation but are desperate to be told. And to that end, I fancy myself a seeker, a yearner, a truth teller, a woman passionate about uncovering the hidden parts that are both magical and frightening.

I've learned that I love the hell out of cursing.  It's fun, it's cathartic and it's real.

I know that running as much as writing  and writing about running help to manifest both physical and spiritual wellness in every part of my being.  Each run I've taken has lead me deeper into places of discipline, consistency, strength, hope and usually triumph over some facet of the unknown.

I've become mindful that I write to make sense of me in the now and in the after...which is vividly captured in this quote by one of my favorite authors, Anais Nin who says, "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect."

For me, particularly in this season of my life, there is so much wisdom garnered in reflection.  The kind of parenting that I subscribe to has me knee-deep in the trenches the vast majority of the time and while the days are long, the years are remarkably short.  They really are flying by.  So, if I don't stop and sit with where I'm at, it's gone, really in a flash.  And there's so much here.  So much life to be grateful for.  So many stories and adventures along the way.

So, if there's one thing I's that I haven't written more.  On any given day, I have a myriad of words, sentences, dialogues wrapped up in my head and surging through my veins.  They come at me while I'm washing the clothes or the dinner dishes, while I'm helping with home work or sinking into a long Saturday morning run, when my youngest is having a colossal melt down at Target or while I'm screaming at the kids to stop screaming at each other.  They're teeming begging to be in the world...and not because I think there are so many readers dying to engage them....but because they are an extension of me.  And if the world needs anything, it needs more authentic pieces of all of us in it.

So, here's to 500 more and another how ever many following.  If you read regularly, thank you for encouraging me and for sharing in the written journey of my life.  It means more than you know.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Adventures Begin

I woke up this morning and's summer.

Today marked the last day of school for my kiddos.  Fourth grade is officially in the books for Sam.  Kate completed second.  And our Claire Bear had a fantastic first year of preschool.

As they headed out the door for a quick half day, I snapped these shots...

 And then at 11:30am prompt, Claire and I rolled up to school in the stroller and a million children flew out of the building screaming for joy.  Kinda like this...

While we were walking reflecting on their day, what they'll miss about school and what they're most excited for about summer...this started to happen...

They gathered sticks and started going on a hunt.  Each of them adopted a quest name.  Sam turned into Aquarius.  Kate morphed into Swift.  And Claire was Twig.  I hung back listening while they talked of mystical beasts in the lush growth of the forest and hidden doors that take you to magical lands and children who get their fingers chopped off if they're poor listeners.

And it hit me...this is what happens in the summertime.  You put on your swim suit in June and don't take it off until August.  You consume 542 cherry popsicles.  You build forts in the backyard and ride your bike everyday.  You climb trees and read and dream...about magical places in far off lands where the unexpected is expected.  And you walk and you walk and you walk and you're a kid and it's the best.

I know that summer can be taxing for parents...figuring out how to not kill your kids when they fight with each other, trying to establish some semblance of a routine, but for me, at least for now, I'm embracing F. Scott Fitzgerald...

"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

It's time for a new life of fun, freedom and's summer.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

40 things I know for sure...

I woke up this morning and just like that, I was forty.

After hitting my 4:30am alarm, I went to the gym and ran, rowed and stretched, much like every other day when I was thirty something.

I came home, put lunches into back packs, made toast for the kids, jumped in the shower and enjoyed an adorable "Moms & Muffins" program at Claire's preschool.  It was beyond lovely.

But as I was driving around doing errands and being mindful of this milestone, I started ruminating on the things I know to be true for me...nuggets I feel that I've amassed over the last four decades that shape who I am and how I experience the world.  None of the following are in any particular order...

  1. You can never say "I love you" too much, really only too little.  And while you're at it, be the first one to do it...don't wait to respond to another...often, they're waiting for you to take the initiative.
  2.  There is no such thing as too much coffee. Only too little cream.
  3. Sometimes, actually, more times than you think...the appropriate response is "Fuck" on all kinds of levels.  And that's okay.
  4. There really is no such thing as talented or gifted exempt of elbow grease.  If you want something badly enough, put the time in, do the work.  You may not be the best but you'll get a hell of a lot closer than if you sit on the sidelines wishing you were in the game.
  5. Parenting is the most beautiful, terrifying, exhausting, exhilarating job that I have ever known...and I'm only a decade in.
  6. Get good at saying "I'm sorry."  Equally as good as saying "I love you."  Injuring another is  part of being human.  Apologizing and authentically feeling remorse is the second chance you get at doing the dance again.
  7. Cultivate really, really good friendships.  Find people that love you unconditionally and that encourage you to scream and to air your dirty laundry and will call bull shit when you're trying to rationalize your stupid behavior. And will drink with you and tell you that you're the best even when you kind of suck.
  8. Write your 5-year plan and then throw it away.  Being wedded to a non-living, breathing entity is like making yourself a prisoner to unforeseen circumstances and whimsical fancies that you have no idea live in the future.
  9. Go to the beach.  Walk.  Swim. Freeze your ass off in the water. Make a wish. Believe.
  10. Get out of your head.  Nothing great lives there.  Most of it is worry or fantasy or distraction.  If you feel pulled, go.  Put one foot in front of the other and try.
  11. Have sex.  Copious amounts of it.  No one said that you have to have a partner to do this.  And don't apologize.
  12. Jump out of a plane or ride a roller coaster or swim with sharks or bungee know.  Something that scares the bejesus out of you and see that the sun still comes up the next day and you were all freaked out for nothing.
  13. Get your heart broken.  Really broken.  Like you can't breathe broken.  That means that you jumped in.  You gave everything.  You didn't hold back.  You loved with everything you knew to give.  From that moment forward you will know that vulnerability is the only way to truly live.
  14. Choose not to be selfish.  Mow your mom's lawn.  Get up in the middle of the night with your kid.  Help your neighbor.  Give, give, give.  You get so much more out of it than the receiver.
  15. Stop quibbling over God.  God is love, grace, forgiveness and you are a child of God.  You never have to wonder.  You just need to trust.
  16. Stop deciding who gets to love which person.  Love is love.  Love is powerful and a force not to be reckoned with.  And commitment, partnership and trust is beautiful.
  17. Wear red lip stick.
  18. Take long baths preferably with wine or tea.
  19. Write down all of the things you think you are not.  Take a torch and burn them.  
  20. For the most part, everything is temporary, so if it hurts now, it won't hurt forever.
  21. If your gut is guiding you, go.  Don't second guess intuition, God gave it to you purposefully.
  22. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one.  If you want it, today is the day.
  23. Whoever invented chocolate, particularly sea salt caramels deserves a special place in Heaven.
  24. Appreciate, even for a brief moment, what is.  It's impossible to move forward if you don't honor what is and what has been.
  25. More people rely on you than you think and your presence in their life matters.  Never underestimate your worth and the widespread joy you bring to many.
  26. Spanx suck and should never be put on in front of your significant other.
  27. There comes a time when the only thing that makes sense is a big bowl of homemade whipped cream, a Lifetime movie and you in your underwear on the couch.
  28. Throw away the clothes that have been taking up room in your closet...they represent all of the things you think they do.  They've done their service and you deserve better today than you think you do when you get back to a size whatever.
  29. Get fresh flowers.  Put them on your desk or in your kitchen and know that you are loved.
  30. Anger is never a good counselor.  Sleep on it.  Nothing good ever happened when you were filled with rage.
  31. Take the high road except for with the real assholes...that's when it's okay to be passive aggressive.  Nail those dicks when they're not paying attention and make it hurt all with a smile on your face.
  32. Laugh with children. 
  33. Jump in puddles.
  34. Pole dance.
  35. Travel.
  36. Remember that no matter what, it will be okay.
  37. Drive Hondas.  I'm not kidding.  They fucking rock especially at 100K+ miles.
  38. Invite people in always.  Make a place at your table. 
  39. Be mindful of your foot print.  If you died tomorrow, what would you be leaving behind?
  40. In all things, at all times, be you.  There's no one else to.  You're it.  All 40 years of you.
That's it.  That's all I got.  I'm ready for adventure, a little less acquiescing behavior when I don't want to, a lot more "hell yes's" and in general, a decade of beauty and surprise.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Last Half Marathon of My Thirties

Three years ago, I ran my first half marathon in Lincoln, Nebraska.

It was a purposeful choice.  I wanted to reinhabit my body again and to discover "me" outside of the busy, beautiful, exhausting role of mothering my three kiddos.  To say I fell in love with running would be an understatement.  It became a tour de force...a transformation, a pathway for me to be "me" that took on a life of it's own.  Since that first race, I've run several 10 and 5K's, 7 half marathons, 2 market-to-market relays and a marathon. 

And so, today, I woke up to run my last half marathon of my thirties back at my old stomping grounds.

I knew that it wasn't going to be a walk in the park.  My training had been more than wonky.  My long runs were good but not consistent.  And the weather was forecast to be sunny, in the 60's/70's with high humidity.  And while, that may seem appealing to many, I am a fair weather hot runner.  I much prefer the cold temps to the warm and I'm a fan of makes me feel like I'm going somewhere instead of the staleness of pelting hot sun on my back and face.

Nevertheless, you can't control the weather and so I set out.  My plan was to join a faster pace group than I usually do and to crank through with new songs on my playlist.

This is me at 5:15am after a shit-tay night of fitful sleep coupled by a fierce love in my heart to make this last race count.

This is me at mile 2 filled with excitement and happiness and the hope that the race would be good.

This is me a little while later truly feeling happiness in motion.

And then, at mile 10, it started to get hot. like really hot.  I dumped water on my head, my skirt, my back, abandoned my pace group and grabbed a much needed kiss of encouragement from my daughter, Kate.

Mile 12 had me pulling out every mantra of courage, strength, faith and determination that I had in my arsenal.  And before I knew it, here I was.

Running is not easy.  In fact, it's fucking hard.  But as I was driving into town, my bestie sent a text and said, "Never can do hard things...and in the end, you're better for it."  I pushed the shit out of myself today.  In many respects, it was my hardest race.  Fear, doubt, all crept in and it was not pretty or fun or enjoyable.  But as I crossed the finish line, I thought, that's it.  In a few short days, I turn 40...a brand new decade, a new opportunity, a beautiful time to once again explore and tease out me.  It's not always easy.  Many times it hurts.  And there are absolutely no guarantees.  But it's alive.  It's real.  And today, it's wearing a medal.