Saturday, April 18, 2015

JT and the R-Word.

Folks, last night I had the exact experience everyone hopes for. All of us parents, or those of us who have friends with children. The advocates.

The Runner has a son, JT, and he just turned 13. Last night, I joined a little merry band of teenagers to celebrate birthday shenanigans. In the car, the three boys were doing what 13 year old boys do. Bantering and being silly. Trying to outdo each other with theatrical renditions of pop 40 hits, and a fair amount of good natured trash talk.

Half hour into the ride, the first "r*tard" slipped out. I ignored it. I'm still working on establishing a relationship with JT and these were his friends and I decided to wait it out. A few minutes later, the second one emanated from the back.

Quietly, thinking only The Runner could hear me I said, "I should address that?" {not asking permission, for the record, just establishing the protocol.}

From the backseat, louder and with assertion JT said, "Yes. You should. Or maybe I will."

Have at it, my friend.

Again with the theatrics, he cleared his throat like a bold orator and calmly explained to his two buddies, at the height of peer pressure-y teen hoopla, that it was not ok to use that word.

One of the kids asked why. I said, "Well, I have a daughter..." The other kid said, "That's right. He told me about her" {this made my heart burst, btw}. I showed them L's picture.

There was a few minutes of brief discussion. They talked about the kids at their school who would or wouldn't care if they had been asked to refrain from using particular words. And then they morphed into some other conversation, as I hoped that their worldview had just been expanded a bit.

Later, I told The Runner how proud I was of his son. Looking back at myself at 13, I can't say how I would have handled it. Even at 40, and being L's voice these last buncha years, I felt that hesitation. It makes me happy that L has a brand, spanking new advocate in her life. And one who's sort of on the front line of changing the generations behind mine.

It was good stuff. My heart was glad.

L and The Runner.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

the space between eight and ten.

I woke up in a happy place today. The sun was shining and only a very little amount of snow continues to be visible in my neighborhood. It was chilly and there was a beast of wind, but I set out on my hilly farmland route to do some sunshiney miles.

Six? Or eight? Or ten?

Eight miles has become my yoga pants of distance running. Just the right amount of comfy but still stylish enough for public consumption. Since November, I've only done one other 10 miler. I wanted to go for 10 on my trail last weekend but as I hit the Mile 4 marker I focused heavily on the ice, and the isolation of mile 4-5, and my absence of pepper spray...and so I turned around. All valid reasons but still mostly just excuses.

And so today, as I was getting warmed up and starting to set my mental goal I engaged in a dialogue with that inner self.

I could always do six. That's perfectly respectable. But eight would be better. And it's hilly and there's a vicious headwind. I suppose I could do ten. I really should do ten but I've been stuck these many recent weeks at eight.

And the voice rose up: The only way to stop being stuck at eight is to run ten.

And so ten I ran. Just like that. Mental shift.

Incidentally, in late March 2014 I ran nine miles in 1:33:44. Today I ran my ten miles in 1:33:16. And friends, it felt magnificent.

Somewhere, in the space between eight and ten, lies everything. The choice. The determination. The fight. The fire in the belly. The decision to stop being stuck. Such is life.

Friday, April 3, 2015

spring cleaning.


Welcome, Spring.

As is befitting the winter that wouldn't end, I've been a gazillion hours in my head since somewhere around mid-December. The turn of the calendar and the launch of my 40s ignited a lot of introspection. Well, I guess I'm always introspective. The difference recently being that it has been far more intense, honest, intentional, and under the purview of the world's greatest therapist. I've been able to parse through so much of my...stuff...and hopefully start to cast away the old thoughts and habits that have long plagued me. It's tough work, truth be told, but the sunlight is on the other side and I am in relentless pursuit of that. Always.

Having all that time to sift through...recognize, acknowledge, reconcile...I've learned more about myself than I thought I didn't know. It hasn't always been pretty, and historically I've always been pretty hard on myself; and so, much of the battle has been against letting it swallow me. It's an odd flux: finally learning to like who I am, all while truly seeing who I am. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

There have been many, many moments the past few months where I have felt myself trying to fold in completely upon myself. Like an armadillo. Attempting to shield and protect. Drawing inward to process all that is and has been and will be. And I've become tired. Weary, in the soul sense. Almost a year and a half of seemingly relentless change, introspection, and this push/pull of letting my truest self emerge all while protecting against hurt and loss and fear. I find myself prickly and easily prickled. I seek a cave in which to hide. A constant, delicate dance of recognition, acknowledgement, and reconciliation.

Weary.

And so. Welcome, Spring.

Months ago, I was reading an article about author Elizabeth Gilbert. I've read and reread her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, as well as her follow up and one of her novels. I know she's not everyone's cup of tea, but I find I relate to many of her views on spirituality, gratitude, love, and picking up the pieces of your shattered life. The article today specifically examined her marriage to her husband and contained the following quote:

"How did I win this life?" Gilbert asks. "I was talking about this with a friend and she said, 'Because you blossomed into the sort of person who attracted a man like that. And you learned how to treat yourself so well -- on your own -- that when someone came along who treated you well, you finally recognized what that feels like.'"

Solar plexus. Direct hit.

So much of my truth is in that statement.

I've spent much of the last many months sifting through the detritus and finding the lessons and the growth. I've tried to cast off that which no longer serves a purpose in my life -- mostly the self-blame. I know that in some ways, the way that I viewed myself had a very negative impact on my ability to be in emotionally secure and healthy relationships. Limited my ability to know and like myself. Limited my ability to be a good friend. A good daughter and sister. A good partner. I sometimes feel that I have been a little bit busted up inside for most of my life. There are threads in the fabric of my story that shaped me...wounded me...before I had a chance to figure out who I was. A negative experience with the older brother of a childhood friend, which diminished my ability to be an equal partner in romantic relationships. The moment when my HS guidance counselor said "Girls like you should consider community college". Every time my own inborn tendencies toward sensitivity, perfectionism, emotionality were used as an arsenal against me.

By the time I entered into grown up relationships, I had stopped treating myself well. To some extent, perhaps my ability to be recklessly and unabashedly myself, particularly in the context of another person, has been flawed from the beginning of adulthood. More recently the urge to turn into the little ball o' armadillo has been an actual, legitimate physical sensation, but I think the underlying mindset and emotional constraint has existed for far longer than I was ever able to comprehend. Terrified of disapproval. Terrified of being left. Terrified of being exposed. Terrified of being vulnerable.

But that's what this new season is about, right? Blossoming. Treating myself well. On my own. It fucking sucks sometimes. It's difficult sometimes. Like, when I hate doing the dishes and I wish sometimes I didn't have to. Or when I worry about cash flow. Or when it snows a bajillion inches and I need to dig out my car. Or when I am terrified {of all the things}. Or on the days that I am seeing things about myself that make me cringe. I may be weary but I'm still moving forward. {ah, running. the lessons you've taught me.}

And so. Welcome, Spring.

Much like Mother Nature herself, shedding in the Autumn and turning to an inward hibernation all Winter only to bloom in the Spring, I shall attempt to take my cues from the sun and the wind and flowers and the trees. To open, and be renewed. To reap the work that was done in the cold and the darkness of this past winter and explode forth in color and warmth. To embrace the change and the growth and to be exuberant to be here in this moment.

Speaking of which:

Can we all just take one moment, at least those of you who can relate to my tiny little portion of the globe, and celebrate the 60 degree sunshiney rail trail run I had yesterday? Did it cost me an hour of personal time to punch out early and get my miles in before an evening commitment? Why, yes, it did. Was it absolute muddy, glorious perfection? Why, yes, it was.


Welcome Spring.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

new.

Oh hey there. How's it going? Yep. Busy here, too. Just chillin', yo.

Sorry for the nonsense. I guess it's just how I try to smoothly insert myself back into your reader. I know I keep making these bold declarative statements that I'm going to write here. Often and freely. And then I don't. It's just not as easy as all that. I've got so much I need to say. And so very little that I am prepared to. I guess, if it matters to you at all, just know that I'm doing all the hard work of adulting. The kids are stellar. My job is great. My friends are amazeballs. Running is still the salvation and the euphoria and continues to bring nothing but the very greatest things to my life.

Lots of hard work, yes...but a bajillion more awesomeness.

In the meantime, the ink collection grows.



This may be the most unique of all my tattoos. It began years ago when I decided that if my kids were pieces of classical music, L would be Beethoven's 9th - the Ode to Joy, and B would be The Flight of the Bumblebee. Fast forward to my birthday extravaganza and a good friend of mine, who happens to be an artist, did a quick sketch on my birthday card. It coincidentally, and joyfully, contained a little bumblebee. Some may recall that in 2013 I got the Down syndrome footprint tattoo to honor my daughter and I realized it only fitting that I have something to represent my sweet boy as well. 



alis volat propriis ~ she flies with her own wings. 

It's about running. It's about life. It proudly incorporates my butterfly tat {which I've worn for 17 years} and my stretch marks. It's my own handwriting. I love everything about this. 


Acknowledgements:
Eric 




Thursday, February 26, 2015

#tbt - a reprieve.

Winter, yo. It just won't quit. I'm starting to lose my grip just a little bit. My hands are dry and my knuckles are cracking. It is becoming an uphill battle to face the elements and get out to run. I am so effin' sick of tights I could knot them all up into little balls and throw them into some strange nylon bonfire. I haven't been totally and completely warm in ages.

And yet.

Today, in the form of photographic magic, I was transported back to days when there was green stuff on the ground. I think we used to call it grass?

Today's throwback was to this past October. Buddy Walk, 2014. Team L. All the glory.

Um. Quite possibly the greatest picture ever taken of these two silly boys. 


And I mean...seriously. Look at him. 


All of Team L. 

And then L. As uncooperative as she wants to be. 

What. on. earth??

And may the gods always bless our gem of a photographer*, as he has the patience of a saint.


It was nice to be reminded of sunshine and buddies and warm hearts and lovely days. It may have been just what I needed to persevere through the last bits of winter. 


*all photos courtesy of Andy Cox Photography 


Thursday, February 19, 2015

unconcerned.

"I could easily say L is L, but that would be an injustice to all she is. L has made tremendous strides to conform to the rules school has put upon her. She is rarely in the cubby or on the floor. She is gently defiant when she cannot or will not perform school tasks. I can't properly assess her because she is unconcerned with my opinion of her ability." ~Mrs. C.

***********

These words left me sobbing at my desk. Second grade has been challenging for my sweet girl. Not the work, but the expectations and her ability to navigate the MORE of everything. In November, things hit a critical point and one of the administrators initiated the possibility of a program review. I chose not to blog about it because I believe in maintaining positive relationships. I was hurt and angry and scared about how things had so quickly deteriorated between the school and Team L, and I did not trust myself to keep all negativity out of what I would write in this space. Instead, I reached out to all of my available resources and we convened just before Thanksgiving to discuss the best ways to help L be successful. During those discussions and meetings I began to learn that her classroom teacher is an ally. It wasn’t until report cards this week, and the statement above, that I began to truly realize to what extent.

Nothing that Mrs. C said above is flowers and rainbows. It is true and it is coming from a place of working hard with my girl this year on these issues. It is not blind gushing. It is real. But what I took from that statement is that this teacher GETS my kid. She sees her, understands her, and if I am reading the tone properly, applauds her. After the stress of the past few months, this knowledge came at me like a flood of relief and solace. And so much appreciation.

As for the pride I feel for my daughter based on this commentary…I posted Mrs. C’s words to my Facebook yesterday with the hashtag #audacityandsunlight.

That’s my girl.