Monday, September 12, 2011

Trusting the Process...Still.

God Almighty. I need someone to come over here and grab me by the hair and shake me around until my head is cleared of the notion that cleaning out my closet is An Okay Thing To Do during PMS week. The bulk of the clothes have been examined, tried on, cursed at, and separated into piles: dry cleaning; sigh, may as well keep this another year; thank you thank you thank you that you still fit; and get the actual fuck out of my house.

The last pile is the largest, just so you know.

While I was cursing myself, my obstetrician, carbohydrates, skinny jeans, and life in general, I thought about all the blogs and articles I read about recovery. Specifically, full recovery. The notion that full recovery is possible versus the thought that someone with an eating disorder can, at best, hope for a lifetime of management. It's complicated.

Eating disorder expert Sarah Ravin, PhD. defines full recovery in this way:

"…is weight-restored, does not engage in any ED behaviors, has realistic thoughts and behaviors surrounding food, has a realistic body image and accepts her body (even though she may not like it), practices good self-care, engages in proactive relapse prevention, and does not struggle with ED cognitions or emotions. She is cognizant of her underlying predisposition and thus must avoid dieting, fasting, high-stress environments, etc. She may have a better body image, better eating habits, and better psychological functioning than her peers as a result of her treatment." (from an interview with Margarita Tartakovsky, MS)

This is all very good, and plausible, except for that last sentence. Better body image than her peers? I'm going to beg to differ with this to the point of saying it's abject bullshit. Common knowledge in the world of ED treatment is that the body image distortions are the last to go. You dutifully stick to your meal plan until eating doesn't feel so unnatural. You exercise moderately, in a way that honors your body (or at the very least doesn't beat the bejeezus out of it because dammit, you deserve to crawl out of the gym). You ship the itty bitty low rise jeans - or the shapeless, oversized flannely things, pick your poison - off to the thrift shop and replace them with things that both fit and flatter your healthy self. You learn to put yourself out there, you as real and authentic. But in the heat of battle, when you're awake in the middle of the night after making one mistake after the other all day, or when you desperately want to make a good impression, or when you're cleaning out your closet...

You will remember. You will remember your stick-thin arms. You will remember the thighs that didn't touch. That number on that scale. The way people looked at you when you asked the salesgirl for THAT size. No matter that you've forgotten falling down every time you stood up, the complete demise of all your relationships, the weeks locked away. You will put on your rose-colored glasses, and for a while, you will magically grow, rather like Alice in Wonderland. Eat me. Yeah. Because you still aren't capable of seeing what's really there with any consistency. There's no middle ground. Fat or thin, small or large.

But then again, now my body image is supposed to be better than that of my peers.

I prefer Carolyn Costin and Gwen Schubert Grabb's definition of recovery, and you can read more about it in their book, 8 Keys to Recovery from an Eating Disorder: Effective Strategies from Therapeutic Practice and Personal Experience. In this resource, recovery is defined as this:

Being recovered is when the person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self-destructive relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life, and what you weigh is not more important than who you are; in fact, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size, or reach a certain number on the scale. When you are recovered, you do not use eating disorder behaviors to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems.

Costin and Grabb highlight the importance of acceptance. My favorite piece of their definition is the idea that, once recovered, you will not betray what you have given blood, sweat, and tears to achieve something superficial. The ED isn't what you do when all hell breaks loose. You are more important to yourself.

So back to the question: is full recovery possible? Costin and Grabb give me better odds of saying yes, because most days, their description of someone who is fully recovered fits me fairly well. I still can't bring myself to say it, though. For me, I think it's a process, and it's a process I have to trust, even now. It would be easy today to make another pot of coffee, skip my lunch, and show myself no mercy on the treadmill. All because I'm angry at some shapeless pieces of fabric. The truth is, whether you want to use the words "fully recovered" or "in recovery" doesn't matter.

And because I wanted to say at least one thing about running....what matters, just like in running, is what you do when the road starts heading uphill. Anybody can run when the road's flat and easy. You learn what you're made of when it isn't.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Clean At Your Own Risk

*I think most of you knew I've been blogging over at for the past month as part of a contest. I missed my home here tonight, and since I know you didn't have an opportunity to see this entry (I won't know anything about contest results for another few weeks, by the way), I wanted to share it with you. Be on the lookout for more of my regular craziness in a day or two....*

You've got one. At least one.
I have more than one.

That know, THAT closet. The one stuffed so full of things you don't even remember you have. Baby gear, Christmas decorations, extension cords, and boxes of things My Better Half refuses to throw away (just so you know, these boxes haven't been opened since 2 states ago, ahem.). The cleaning bug has bitten me lately - or, more aptly, the organizing bug - and one of those closets has its magnetic force field beaming right at me.

The last time those doors were opened, I was treated to a tumbling cascade of cloth diapers, long-since-outgrown toys, extra tiny hangers for those extra tiny clothes, and mementos that haven't quite made it into The Boy's two-year box. He is about to make the much-anticipated move into his Big Boy Bed. What better time than to clean out his closets and make room for more Big Boy accessories?

So why am I balking? Yes, he's going to play with everything as it gets strewn haphazardly across his bedroom floor. Yes, I'm going to be nostalgic and misty remembering the times I snapped his precious teensy tushie into those soft, cozy cloth diapers. I can hang. I do well with nostalgia and occasional chaos. What's hard for me about letting go of these memories, these tiny treasures, is that there will be nothing to replace them. The decision has been made, largely for health reasons on my part, that our family is now complete. We are three. It's a decision that still brings me to tears, although I know it's for the best.

If I said I am not dreading saying goodbye to the idea of ever again having some small person filling up such small things in such a big way, I'd be lying. Cleaning out that closet is my final goodbye to babyhood. My acceptance of the way things need to be. It makes every moment with the Turkey bittersweet, and reminds me to store my memories away so carefully. I dread the tidal wave of tears.

It's so hard to say goodbye to material posessions anyway. We hoard them and cling to them like they're people we're afraid of losing. It's even harder when letting them go means letting go of one dream - one that was shared by two people, much younger than we are now - and accepting another reality. There are some things I've packed away to keep forever. The rest of it, though, needs to be cleared away.

I can't grow emotionally until I clear it away.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Here's a Thought

She's got nice abs. No denying this. In the not-all-that-distant-yet-most-assuredly-pre-preggo past, I pranced around the gym in similar getup. Before you start thinking I'm posting about this picture, which is making the rounds of Facebook and making me want to spork somebody's eyes out, because I gots mad envy...let me assure you that's not my problem with it.

Stop looking at the picture. Read the words. Once you're done with that, how about you take a minute to ponder a few ideas:

What was the first thing you thought when you saw the picture? Hmmmm. If you're like a lot of people (women) who've commented on FB, you're not feeling all that saucy about your own abs right now. This picture made you not like yourself - or at least the way you look - for a minute. You think you need to get back in the gym ASAP. You think this woman (who, if I may be so bold as to suggest it, may be a little *gasp* airbrushed) is the ideal to which you, normal non-freak-of-nature-or-photoshop woman, must immediately aspire.

Why is she ideal, and not you? Just because of her abs? Is there anything in this picture that confirms that the rest of her life isn't one big hot mess? But hey, she's got THOSE ABS so it can't be all bad. I've had the abs, as I've said, and let me offer the guarantee that abs do not a perfect life make. Granted, if you make your living as a fitness model, then you'll probably get more work with the abs...but I'm assuming that's not what's going on here so I digress.

Every second of every day? Really? EVERY? This is what I need to do to be somebody? Spend every second of every effing day to get me some brand-new abbadabbas? Been there, done that, got the sports bra. Taking that approach was pretty much my grand-scale fail at life. I'd gladly introduce you to several people I know who have had the same experience.

Going back and reading, it's sounding like Bitter, Party of One. Nah. Not really. Here's the thing, though: I've learned something. In my thirtysomethingsomething years, I've learned something, and while I occasionally have to work EXCEEDINGLY hard to remember it, it's stuck. Because it's important.

Here it is.
Right here.
Still here? Good.

It's this, and it's fairly simple: you may not like the way you look all the time, and you may spend inordinate amounts of time comparing yourself to people like the model in the picture, and you may think that if you could just get rid of those last 5 pounds/that gobbler/the end of the baby weight/your mommy flap (for those of us who have had c-sections that there ain't no crunches or pilates to help)/your what-the-hell-ever you don't like, your life would be shiny and glossy and sparkle like the mothereffing SUN.

Revisit this. It won't. Because changing those things won't change YOU. And why in the world aren't you enough for the people who love you, just as you are? My son couldn't care less that mommy's 6-pack is missing some cans. My husband hasn't left me because I don't look like that woman in the picture. I cry sometimes because I get sucked in, usually in times of stress, to thinking that "if I only had that body back"....yeah. The one I almost died to get. The one I never appreciated. The one that there is no end to the craziness to maintain. I mentioned death already.

I have this body. It's closer to 40 than I want it to be. It has been starved, and refed, lather rinse repeat ad nauseam. It has forgiven me. It carried my child. It nursed my child. It has run HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of miles. It has folded itself into the corners of friends' hot tubs, sweated in pain and come back for more on a Spin bike, walked through vacation cities, and been stronger than I ever knew I'd need it to be. I have no right not to love it.

What has your body - your REAL, normal, unique body - done for YOU? I promise you, the life it's carried you through is worth more than just a mirror full of abs.

Go be beautiful.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Wow. Hello, blog. Plenty of things going on, not sure where to begin. Hold nose tightly, jump right in.

We think we send our children off to adults to be taught. Occasionally, though, you have to wonder who's actually doing the teaching. I've learned more about life over the past two months than I have in a long time. Maybe it was a refresher course as much as anything, but still. I had the honor of being taught (or reminded) what it means to put faith into action, and my teacher was a terminally ill seventeen-month-old boy. We were given the opportunity, rather unexpectedly, to open our home to him and his family, who are our dear friends, for several days while he was hospitalized here (unexpectedly). At that point, in the middle of the night, driving a car filled with suitcases and the broken promises of a trip gone awry, there's nothing more to say. Seeing them, younger than we are and experiencing the end of their baby boy's life, hurting in a way we can't begin to understand...well, you don't talk anymore. You just DO. You stop asking, and start acting. I've heard it said that it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness; well, given that cursing wasn't going to change a damn thing, we did our best to keep the candle lit. Supposedly this is something we were doing for them, because that's what friends do. I didn't realize until recently the depth of the blessing I received from being able to offer what I had to give. It will do me well to remember what I learned about friendship that week, and to show my son by example that friends give. You don't say pretty words, and pat people on the head. Get in there. Hurt with someone. Listen. Light your damn candle already. Shine a little light into a very, very dark night. You never know. Expect nothing - but do it anyway.

I'm sad to tell you that my sweet teacher's battle with cancer ended a few weeks ago. We look at the pictures from their stay often. Small boy loves them mightily. As do I. There is a beautiful orange gerbera daisy blooming, and it's a reminder to remember the beauty of his life, of all life. Because I know that's what he's asking us to do.

I want to tell you about the adventure run I'm doing a week from tonight. I want to tell you I'm running two half-marathons in the near future (November and February). I want to tell you about some crazy obstacle course nonsense I seem to be getting myself into. I want to tell you that suddenly I run a lot faster, and this bemuses and pleases me. But somehow it doesn't fit this post. This is why I haven't written for a while. Nothing seemed to flow.

*check out this segue! sometimes I am sofa king fantastic*

Amazingly, this post is coming full circle right now. Speaking of flow, today was the day of reckoning - the day I got around to doing something that's been on the to-do list for quite some time. I found myself in a yoga class today, for the first time in (just a guess here) 3 years. Let's do a quick Things I Have Learned:

1. I'm no spring chicken.
2. Which doesn't matter a hell of a lot when half the rest of the class isn't either.
3. Which matters less when the lights are turned WAAAAAAY down.
4. For someone who more or less is locked into cardio, I'm weirdly strong. Don't be thinking I'm Miss Yoga USA, though, keep reading.
5. My balance sucks. One minute I'm being told my Warrior 2 is "beautiful" and the next minute my Tree is toppling over like there's hurricane-force winds. Shit.
6. Running immediately before yoga isn't necessarily the greatest idea. One, I stunk to high heaven (sorry, yoga neighbors), and two, my cranky hip was CRANKY.

The thing that shocked me the most was that by the end of the class, my mind was actually mostly clear. We did our srivasana (Lord help, that's probably wrong, but I'm not opening another window to check) in the dark, and as we're lying there supine on our mats, the instructor said something that resonated very deeply with me:

The to-do list will be there. Just not now.

Suddenly, it was clear just how much time I do not spend in the moment. And just as clear how grateful I am for all the moments I've been given, even though as the mom of a preschooler I've developed multitasking to an art form and as such, miss half of them.

We sat up, slowly, and as I moved my hands into prayer position, a tear slid down my cheek. What matters most is here now. The to-do list can wait, you know? No one will care that I forgot to unload the dishwasher, or that the towels were all folded by 6pm. I will care, though, and deeply, if I let my life pass me by. Haven't I done enough of that? I've been given another chance to get this right, and the to-do list will be there. This two-and-a-half summer, this family time, this summer afternoon outside at the art museum, wine in hand, with a friend and our boys won't be. These moments are too beautiful not to soak up. So if it takes weekly reminders via yoga, so be it.

This morning, what I wanted was to stretch out my hammies and get Jennifer Aniston arms. What I got was a gentle push back into my life.

If you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Catalyst

Which just happens to be the name of the song. Which saves me from having to think of a blog title. Which is excellent, since this morning's Spin class beat me to pieces and I'm sitting limply at the laptop, nursing this latte. A great thing, when you leave so much on the bike that you just want to sit for a bit when you're done.

Speaking of how great it is to bring all you've got, and leave it all out there and then some...I'm ready. I'm ready to run again. I've been fiddling around outside a couple of mornings a week, and suddenly that's not enough. It's not giving me the opportunity to see what I'm made of, to find my limits again and give them the finger. Summer's just around the corner, and this feels like another summer of early mornings bonding with my iPod and feeling my feet hit the pavement.

There aren't words for how delighted I am by this. If I needed confirmation that it's okay to call myself a runner (because sometimes the 13.1 isn't enough), the confirmation has arrived. I feel like a little kid ready to go play. Last summer, I was trudging through workouts, into the unknown, running for fun but terrified of failure. Not now. This summer, the fear's not there. There IS no failure in running. There's only the failure that comes from denying myself the experience. Where's the fun in that?

I just finished Kristin Armstrong's fantastic book, Mile Markers. Moms who run, you need to run right over to Amazon, or to your bookstore, or to your Kindle or whatever you use to read, and get this book. She writes so beautifully about the intersections of running and motherhood, of running and friendship, of running and gratitude. One thing that stuck out for me comes near the end of the book, as she details how she changes negative thoughts into positive action by reframing them. "I HAVE to" becomes "I GET to". As in, not "I HAVE to run five miles this morning in the heat", but "I GET to run five miles this morning in the heat." I GET to do things. I GET to take care of this little person who loves me with his whole heart, even though he's just peepeed on the floor and is whining because his mouth hurts. I GET to straighten up this house, because I'm blessed to live in it and because I'm one whose mental state takes cues from her external environment. I GET to run, because I can and so many people can't. It's all about the attitude.

Enjoy my new favorite running song, while you're at it.
Happy weekend, everybody.....with love.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Youth, Like Diamonds in the Sun

I give you my word, the next post will be a bit more uplifting. This one isn't so much for you reading as it is for me, writing and crying. There's finally enough time and space in my day, and enough alone time, to let go.

Yesterday, and life in general at the moment, brought more pain to a dear friend and her family than anyone should ever need to know. They were told that their youngest child, not yet two years old, is unlikely to survive his battle with an extremely aggressive and rare brain cancer. Not yet two years old. Everyone who knows them is broken and helpless. Youth, like diamonds in the sun....and diamonds are forever.

He will be forever young. As our children and her other child grow, reaching milestone after milestone, he will be forever young. Tell me how to reconcile this - this vision of a mother seeing her friends' children maturing and leaving her son behind. Wondering what might have been for him. Wondering if, because she is one to believe in God, this was the only proper ending to the life He created. It must be so painfully visceral.

Attempting to quantify her emotional anguish right now isn't the point, believe it or not, so enough of that.

Cancer and death have taken a lot from me, and from several people I care about, in the past year or so. They nearly took my faith in God altogether. Ultimately, though, there has been good from from ashes, as it were. It's led me to question absolutely everything about what I believe, thought I believed, or ever considered believing. Call it an Eat Pray Love year in that regard, sure, why not? My beliefs, which were fairly blind in retrospect in the sense that I believed because I was told "this is how it is" rather than digging in and asking the important questions - and more importantly, seeking and being open to the answers - have undergone a radical change. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Crises of faith aren't necessarily a bad thing, and that is the face-smacking realization of the day.

This time, I'm not angry with God. I'm not seeking to understand the injustice of a family losing their baby. I'm not convinced that all of us who prayed for his miracle (not to say that I pray in the traditional sense, but I firmly believe in enlisting the help of those who do when the situation seems to call for it) were discarded and deserted, or that it is "God's will". It simply is.

That's it.
It simply is.
Perhaps there is a plan. Maybe once we've completed the purpose we fulfill within the human community as we know it, we are free to leave it. Or not. I don't have that answer, but I have a peace that Someone, Somewhere, does.

What I believe is that God exists. Far, far too much evidence of His presence surrounds me every day - my toddler's sweet, sticky kisses, a perfectly-timed text from a friend, an afternoon in the park with a gentle breeze, my husband's quiet companionship - to convince me otherwise. I believe that I am a part of something here on this earth, and that in doing right by those who share this earth with me, I do right by the God who created it and put us here. I believe that everyone has divinity within herself, and that our highest calling is to honor that divinity. Like in the children's book The Kissing Hand, as Chester and his mother hold one another's kisses tight and press them to their faces to remind them that they are always surrounded by love...we are always enveloped in love.

They will always be enveloped in love.

It simply is. Not "it is what it is", with that snarky tone, but that It Simply Is.
Another crisis of faith may lead me elsewhere, but for today it lends me enough comfort to do what I can to comfort my friend.

Wishing you love as you ask your own questions and seek your own answers.....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Gotta Bring Your Own Sun


Lots to say, little organization to my thoughts tonight. This post could go anywhere or nowhere, you've been warned.

Today marks the start of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011. My boys and I celebrated by attending the first Tampa Bay NEDA Walk yesterday morning (sainted husband, spending his birfday morning in a park being aware of eating disorders). It was amazingly well-run, considering this was the inaugural event for Tampa, and that it was coordinated by a 16-year old. Impressive on both counts. "Excited" wasn't the word for my feelings about going; "emotionally obligated" or "willing to participate" better conveyed the sentiment. Upon arrival, though, I realized I could change that to "more than somewhat freaked out". The light switch flipped and suddenly there was this awareness that I was going to be standing and/or more or less exercising with members of the ED community. Oh boy. That'll make a girl real fat, real fast.

Then again, certainly it wouldn't have helped to see several obviously active bulimics (how do I know this? We're going there in a minute, no worries.) and a girl who required assistance to sit down, while someone insisted she eat a banana and drink water. Here's where things get creepy for me. I'm standing there watching this girl gnaw these tiny niblets off the end of this banana with her front teeth, trying to nonchalantly make it look like she doesn't want to punch somebody or cry or both while she "eats", and I'm shocked and horrified.

Why would I be horrified? Why not appropriately sympathetic, what with my couple or so years of recovery?

BECAUSE I'VE BEEN BANANA GIRL. I have met the enemy, and it was that banana. Or a banana equivalent. I've been the girl people needed to essentially force-feed to keep me from toppling over. More than once, more than a few times. Please, find me something enjoyable about being that girl. It was just part of my life, the way things often turned out, a minor inconvenience. Beyond that, though, I realized how I must have looked to other people. What was normal and commonplace to me is incredibly bizarre and incomprehensible to you, if you're not also a Banana Recipient. I never gave it much thought, people pushing food at me all the time, looking at me like they were afraid I was about to topple over and expire, making (what to me now are rather derogatory) comments about my weight...hmmph. Life. Gah. Watching myself being forced to eat an overripe banana.

Awww. Self-actualization. Oh, I'm not, so not done. Don't I wish.


One of Cutiepatootie's favorite Sunday lunch spots is one of those all-you-can-eat salad bar restaurants. We printed off the coupon this morning and headed off for some soup and veggies, much to his delight. Obviously we hit it at the wrong time, because seating was at a premium and the line was long. With tray at the ready, I hit the salad line and immediately catch a glimpse of the girl making her own plate in front of me. Remember I told you about spotting bulimics in a crowd? Jesus, Mary, & Joseph...her salivary glands were swollen, bilaterally, to the size of large lemons. The big lemons, not the 3-for-$1.99 ones. Looked like an athlete, I'd guess a runner because she was too tall to be a gymnast. Crazed look on the face, trying to play it cool as she made a salad big enough for several people. She bypassed the cashier....yep. It's binge day at the buffet. The one remaining booth sat us with her directly in my line of vision, meaning her array of used plates and soup bowls weren't exactly out of sight. She'd been there a while, reading (The Joy Luck Club) and eating. 5 minutes later, she's up again.

And again.
This time it's the bread.
By the time we left, she had gotten up for food 8 times, not including what was already on the table when we sat down. She had refilled her drink 4 times. By the time she made it to the second huge helping of ice cream, the look on her face had gone from "look at my cool exterior while my heart beats through my shirt" to sad resignation - "now I have to get rid of all this." My guess is this is a cycle she repeats multiple times, day in and day out.

At one point I garnered the nerve to go to her table while she was refilling and leave a small temporary tattoo with the NEDA symbol on it. She picked it up, tucked it into her book, looked around, and cleaned the table where it had been. Eye contact wasn't in the cards here - I mean, cripes, I'd already anonymously called her out - but I wanted her to know that someone knew. Someone saw, and someone understood. I was never bulimic, purging was never my cup of tea. No matter. The underlying motivation is all the same, if you really think about it. Fixing what hurts in the only way you can, albeit temporarily.

We had to go. I couldn't sit there to see how long she was going to go on eating. My only hope is that this wasn't the time when her esophagus ruptured, when her potassium level plummeted and stopped her heart from beating, when she didn't begin seizing because of whacked-out sodium levels and stop breathing. It very well may have been. We have to celebrate Eating Disorder Awareness Week because the fact remains that eating disorders DO kill. Far, far too many people. I am daily grateful not to be among that number.

And since I'm obviously going to be aware of eating disorders all week and I need to stay focused on being grateful to be in recovery from one, I gotta bring my own sun. Welcome to England.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Because You're Mine, I Walk the Line

Old school Johnny Cash. Not bad.

This week, I ran face-first into a parenting wall. You know what I mean, parents. The crossroads of your expectations and others' actions. Ouch.

There are a few things I'm an unabashed hardass parent about. Teaching my kid to say "please", "thank you" and the appropriate "ma'am/sir" is one (sorry, Mayim Bialik. I like ya, but in my world manners matter.). Limits on TV time and corporate consumption for toddlers is another. We are fairly strict in our home about how much time Snoogle gets in front of the box, and what he is allowed to watch when we turn it on. This means there are shows we don't allow him to watch, even though they are designed for children. Perhaps we don't like the way the characters interact with each other, perhaps we don't think they model appropriate behavior, perhaps we just think they're annoying as hell and we don't want to have to put up with them around the clock (you know what I mean by this, too. It's okay to admit it.). I press on with these restrictions, knowing I walk the line between "you're a nutjob, lady" and "may I borrow some of that discipline, please?" most of the time.

I take Little Bit to the gym with me on the days he doesn't go to school. We usually go in the afternoons. I'd noticed the use of the DVD player in the toddler area before, but I also noticed that my son reeeeeeally doesn't like Yo Gabba Gabba and would walk away from it to play with other things. By all means, feel free to envision the look of abject horror on my face when I was told that he was plopped in front of A Show We Do Not Watch and sat there. If you'd like, you can also go right ahead and envision the look of abject horror on the face of the staff when I responded to this news with "UGH. I cannot stand ASWDNW." You'd have though I had simultaneously ripped the head from a kitten and driven over the Bible with my car.

Okay. Maybe my reaction was a little much, but I have a hard time understanding why they need to show videos in the TODDLER area. The school-aged kids' section, fine. They have a WiiFit there, they could show DVDs. But to assume that all parents are okay with their two-year-olds (and younger) watching TV? My assumption is that if I was an unhappy parent, there's at least one more. Thus far, that's been my experience. It's rarely, if ever, just me.

Long story made short, we went back to the gym yesterday afternoon, and the staff made a point of not turning the TV on at all, and telling me about it. I did my best to explain myself without being too defensive or putting them on the defensive. In truth, what it boils down to are these few things:

I have the responsibility of raising my son with the values our family agrees are important.
Not everyone has the same values, or the same way of teaching the same values.
There will be times I will realize no one really gives two good s**ts what values matter to us, because they are acting strictly out of convenience.
I will not like this realization. It will make me angry.
Most important, though....

Because he's mine, I walk the line. I'm willing to be a pariah about some things if it means I get one more shot at protecting my son from influences I don't think are appropriate. My influence will be limited by plenty of other people soon enough. Give me this time with him NOW. Let us teach him what matters to us now, so that he can sort out the rest for himself later.

(and yes, I ran 3 days this week. More running news to come.)

Happy birthday to my wonderful, amazing, funny, best-ever husband and best friend. You're 40 tomorrow...I'll gladly spend the next 40 years with you.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I'm tired.
Sleep is eluding us in this house.
Many days lately, small boy and mommy run on hours of sleep that can be counted on one hand.
The longer it goes on, the more anxious and irritable I become. There are people you'd rather be around than me right now, in a nutshell.

The worst of it is that my escape isn't working for me anymore. Having been so passionate about running, and now being so indifferent - or just plain loathing the days I know I'm scheduled to run...ouch. The realization came this morning. I need to not register for the March 12K. Training is not good for me right now. In fact, it's time to admit I need to take a break. Spin more for a while, lift some weights, maybe get back to some yoga, something other than running on a schedule. Pushing myself is great, but not when it's for the wrong reasons. Right now I'm finding that running is a way for me to make up where I feel like the rest of me is lacking. Definitely, most definitely a road I don't want to go down.

I read a wonderful quote recently: When you run, always be sure you're running TO something, never away.

Away is where I've been headed. The worse my running performance gets (which isn't helped by the poor calibration skills of the nike+, thank you, I know my mile markers to a T and it misses them every time), the more the feelings of inadequacy are compounded. So it's time to stop. For now.

I'm going to stop relying on fickle Lance Armstrong to tell me what kind of a person I am a few days a week. I'm going to take the sensor off my shoe. When I feel like it - and ONLY when I feel like it, I'm going to put those shoes on and hit the road, outside, with no agenda other than to find the love again. No timing, no distance requirements. Just me, running until I've had enough for one day. However long or however far that is. Not to worry, I'm still Philadelphia dreamin'.....

but I need a reclamation. And I'm going to make it happen.

Friday, January 28, 2011

25 Things

It was supposed to be 100 per the email I got today, but my attention span these days prohibits my counting to 100, much less thinking of 100 things to say about myself. So. Twenty-five, coming up.

1. I go by my middle name. My mother, who is also called by HER middle name, swore she'd never do that to her child because of the raging pain in the boo-tay it is. Mmmmhmmm. Middle name, that's me.

2. One of my bucket list items is to see every one of the 50 states. Last count was 27, if memory serves. I better get crackin' if I want to finish this off, but somehow convincing the spouse to take me to the Dakotas just so I can check this off isn't working out.

3. Every now and again I toy with the idea of becoming a vegan, for ethical reasons. Vegetarianism isn't hard for me, but it's complicated living with and cooking for someone who has no interest in being either of those.

4. Another bucket list item: learn to sew.

5. I detest politics and don't affiliate myself with a political party. In 38 years, I've been very conservative, very liberal, conservative-ish, and now I am firmly settled in the middle - but will lean left in a stiff wind.

6. The Amish fascinate me.

7. Actually, religion fascinates me, although I don't consider myself "religious" by any means. That's not to say I'm agnostic or atheist, because I do believe in God, but organized religion doesn't foster any sort of spiritual connection for me.

8. I cannot remember the last time I ate fried chicken or anything from a drive-thru. This is something that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

9. Speaking of food, cooking makes me indescribably happy. Even when the dish comes out tasting like you-know-what, I had fun being in the kitchen. Especially on Friday nights, because that's "new recipe night."

10. I don't watch much TV. At all. If there is anything background in the house during the day, it's not the TV.

11. What IS background here is NPR, or the music channels on the TV (okay, so the TV is good for something). Right now, it's Big Band and Swing.

12. My musical taste is best described as "eclectic"; however, the two things I cannot tolerate are Country and Western. That's right - not country, not western. Certainly not Country & Western.

13. I much prefer red wine to white. Much. White wine isn't a bad thing necessarily, but it's so damned fussy. Temperature and all that. And I'm not fussy by nature.

14. Pictures that aren't straight give me the jeebs. Doesn't matter where I am, if there's a crooked picture, I'm coming to the rescue. Look at me all you want, crazy picture-straightening lady's got a job to do here.

15. Cripes, I can't think of more about me. Wow. Have I become this uninteresting?

16. I watch cycling. Stop laughing.

17. The sound of metal on metal will give me icky goosebumps for DAYS. Amazing that I can use silverware.

18. I can fold my tongue into the shape of a shamrock. No, there will be no picture.

19. A pet peeve: having to type in "" or "" when I check my email. Don't they know it's @yahoo or @hotmail? Why do I have to tell them?

20. My sense of direction is pathetic. Like my mother says, if you tell me I have to walk north or die, I'll lie down and die right here, thanks. This is a source of both frustration and amusement to my better half.

21. How many more of these are there? So grateful I didn't go all out for 100.

22. Most people want a dog, or a cat. Me? An alpaca. Obviously this has gotten the kibosh.

23. If I did have a dog, though, it would be a black dog and I would name him Kanye.
Just because.

24. In order of preference: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate. Actually, white chocolate should be eradicated. From the earth. Everyone should be forced to eat quality dark chocolate.

25. I have to wear a visor when I run outside. Yes, it makes me look like a jackass, but sunglasses just don't work and hats make my head want to explode. So visor it is.

And there you have it. 25 totally random things about me, only one of which involved running. I'm running in the morning, so maybe I'll have a story to tell then.

Happy weekend, and if you're here in my neck of the woods, be careful shivering your timbers tomorrow....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take Two News Segments (and call me in the morning)

Today's post is a difficult one to write. I'm grappling with how I want to spend the next few years, and it will be a big decision regardless of the outcome. Like so many life-altering choices do, this one affects more than just me, so there's ample reason to put impulsivity and throwingcautiontothewind-ism on the back burner about it. Which, if you're me, means wallowing in it. I'm a wallower, people. When I need to make a choice, a huge one, I wallow. It's all part of that lovely obsessive-compulsive thing. Frankly, it sucks rocks.

I was putting fresh sheets on the bed, and wallowing, and the opening chimes of All Things Considered blared out of the bedroom radio and it took me back to November, 2008. A newborn, a birth plan that went completely down the crapper, a freshly incised uterus and abdomen, and no one here to help me. Welcome to postpartum depression.

I'll admit it. There's a stigma, yes, which is one reason this post is hard to write. Lots of people experience it, few people want to come clean about it. Think for a minute: do you want to tell someone who is fawning over your beautiful bundle of joy how miserable you are? How you're falling to pieces? How it's everything you can do just to hold your shiz together long enough for your husband to get home from work? No. So you don't. Maybe you didn't, or maybe you did. Read on.

Today it hit me that, while I was sitting in the glider, sweet baby boy at my breast (my sweaty, unshowered breast that was right near the armpit that reeked as only postpartum armpits do, don't ask me why that is because for the love of God I have no answers), my days were marked by that opening chime. Four o'clock, on the dot. It meant that the downswing of the day had begun, that I only had 3 or so more hours to be alone after the crushing loneliness of another day. It was my hope. Those NPR announcers with the funny names (Silvia Pojole! Mandalit del Barco!) were a lifeline. They became my friends. Adult voices telling me stories I wanted to hear about places I couldn't see because I didn't know how to do anything right anymore. News I wasn't part of, but I was, because they were bringing it into that nursery. NPR had been part of my daily routine for 10 years or so, but they saved my sorry ass that winter. Spring and summer, too. There's no room in your life for an eating disorder when you are nursing a newborn, so instead of taking comfort in starving myself to death I had to make do with what I had. A radio and a glider.

Yes, I did get help. Had to. So should you, and don't be embarrassed about it anymore. I know, mama, what you're feeling: desperation, utter exhaustion, isolation, shame. What I don't know is if I'm willing to put myself at risk again, knowing that if I fail, this fall could be the last one. On most levels I'm not.

Which brings me back around to the song - which will always remind me of that darkness.

Now and again we try to just stay alive
Maybe we'll turn it around because it's not too late...
It's never too late.

(please, if you are experiencing postpartum depression, i encourage you to call your doctor today. there is no shame in asking for help....only courage.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Raise Your Glass

Even though there's a dinner to be cooked (not to mention a husband wanting food), the past few minutes have been spent watching the Jets beat the Patriots and perusing my favorite online natural parenting community (NP, HOLLA! lol). We've got a new obsession around those parts.

Mormon Mommy Blogs. Hereafter to be called MMBs.

Wow, dude. These women are serious. They knit their dogs sweaters with matching diapers, spend hours applying mosaic tiles to end tables, hand-embellish coordinating outfits for their freshly-scrubbed-and-never-ever-filthy twin toddler offspring, and do all this while eating home-baked bread with preserves they made themselves. From the fruit of their own backyard's trees. Using their great-great-great-great-grandmother's secret recipe. You can, if you choose to, spend hours perusing these chronicles of unbelievable perfection.

Just to clarify, I'm in no way trying to be negative about the LDS church, or anyone who attends it. I don't know enough about it to act like that. There are a few members on our board who have been kind enough to give the rest of us a bit of a tutorial, though, and it's been very interesting. Interesting enough for me to know that I, in all my glory, could nevah, EVAH, live up to even half of what is expected of the traditional LDS woman. Especially these MMBers.

To steal a line from Clueless...."No way, no day."

In my house, my cat doesn't wear clothes. Which reminds me, he needs to go get shaved again. I don't currently HAVE an end table I'd want to mosaic, mostly because I can't seem to locate a spare end table hanging around. The Boy's clothes come from places like Old Navy, Gap Kids, Janie & Jack, and *gasp* the consignment shop. He's pretty dirty by day's end from all that crawling around on the floor and rolling around "like a steamroller" (and I quote) at the park. We pretty much buy the groceries, and most plants that come into our home only narrowly escape death. I've got some great family recipes, and I can cook like a champion, but that's about where the similarities between my style of motherhood and the women of the MMBs' typical day come to a grinding halt.

So maybe my life isn't MMB-worthy. You know what, though? I carried a child to 9 days past his due date, and suffered through 2 days of induction and a Cesarean. I nursed that child for almost 2 years, and until last week, sprayed that boy's poopy cloth diapers in the sink in my laundry room. I wore him in an Ergo until he just wouldn't let me anymore. I've baked cookies with him, sprayed him with the water hose to make him laugh, and snuggled him under a "cozy" reading book after book after book. We've battled wills and both of us have lost. I've already heard my mother's voice come flying out of my mouth. This is my life, my wrinklydustysticky life.

I would not trade it for all the money in the world.
I suspect you feel the same about yours.
On that note, ladies and gentlemen.....

Raise your glass.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One Voice in a Million

Before I get into prattling on and on about running (which I'm going to do), I wanted to share this song. I have satellite radio, so I don't listen to local radio stations much, but the other morning the hubs had left the radio on in the bathroom and I happened to catch it. It took me approximately 45 seconds to sprint to the computer, pull up iTunes, guess the singer, find the song, and download. Now that you know it's Natasha Bedingfield, you don't need to sprint. Just go download, and if you run, or are in recovery, or both, make sure it finds its way to your ears often. What? You don't want to download this, or you didn't watch it? Fine. I'll give you a lyric:

Take what you want, steal my pride
Build me up or cut me down to size
Shut me out, but I'll just scream -
I'm only one voice in a million, but you ain't taking that from me....

One of the reasons people develop eating disorders is that they feel like they haven't got a voice. When you don't feel like you're being heard, or feel like you don't have the right to speak, you turn inward. Anorexia (or bulimia) becomes your voice, your way of telling the world things aren't right. Eventually, even though you may desperately WANT to speak, you can't. Not on your own, and not without help. If you stumbled onto this blog because you used "anorexia" as a keyword, and you need help, please don't wait. Please tell someone. It's not too late. You have every right to use your voice, even though you may be one voice in a million. It takes a million voices to make a million voices.

Aaaaaaaaand, we're back to running. Told you so.

I can't seem to pull it back together since the post-half hiatus. Lots of time has been spent pondering this, analyzing piece-by-piece what could be wrong. Since eliminating most refined sugar and processed food from my diet has, in general, made me feel much better and given me much more energy overall, I would assume that's not the problem. The shoes are new, so I can't blame the shoes (man, it's so nice when you can blame the shoes!). Time of day hasn't seemed to make a difference either; I'm just kinda sucking regardless. Over the summer I hit a rough patch which seemed to be as mental as physical, so you think it would be easy for me to look back at that rough patch and compare it to now and know that this too shall pass. It's not proving to be that simple, which is a little bewildering.

Especially since I'm planning to run a 12K in March. Meaning that serious training starts next week. 4 miles is proving to be a sticking point again...but a 12K is more than that, so I need to sort this out and push through it. If you have any advice for me, by all means don't hesitate to share. You would definitely be appreciated.

In the meantime, there shall be a clinging to the principle that the only way to run BETTER is to run MORE. Next week I shall add the 4th day.

If you're digging out, stay warm. If you aren't, be glad. As for me, I am happy to be wearing sleeves. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two Feet and a Heartbeat

Make a commitment. Go register for something. Set a goal. Believe in yourself. Trust me, you can achieve something that is miraculous.

All you need are two feet and a heartbeat.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And Then There Were Two?

Little Mister has an imaginary friend.

I should probably back up and give you a little background about this kid. Like any two-year-old, he goes through periods of intense obsession with random objects. Guitars, for example. For months, Small Fry's entire universe rotated around his 3 toy guitars (and the boob, but by that point mostly guitars). The first words out of his mouth in the morning were "Get guitars!", and he would howl like only a toddler can if Daddy or I didn't pop right up out of bed and walk him to where he put the guitars, lovingly, down to sleep the night before. He carried one of his precious guitars everywhere - and I do mean EVERYWHERE. When one of the three wasn't available, any reasonably guitar-shaped object would do, up to and including a metal over-the-door wreath holder I had the poor judgement to let him hold in the car one October afternoon. Let's just say that ended with frazzled sweating Mommy pulling over to the shoulder of a busy freeway, fully extending and nearly dislocating her arm, and wrestling it free from his death grip of fury before he busted out a window.

Good times, good times.

So the current obsession here is construction equipment. My God, I never thought there was so much to learn about steamrollers and dump trucks and motor graders and yeah. That boy stuff I don't understand. In particular, Snoog is fixated on one piece of heavy machinery: the backhoe. The backhoe loader AND the excavator. Don't for one minute think my son can't crank those words right out, too, like this is his job. Disconcerting, but I'm used to it.

He takes his little arm, and holds it "like a backhoe" and makes the appropriate noises. Alternately, he'll tell you it's digging in the dirt, or scooping the dirt, or digging a big hole. From sunup to sundown (son up to son down?). Okay, cool. You're a boy. I'm told you do this, partner. But today his love for all things backhoe-y reached a whole new level of "now what?".
He ate, he played "soccer", he drove his cars, he handed out directions left and right, and it became clear:

Buddy's imaginary friend is a backhoe.

And because this is the funniest thing ever, since we expected him to introduce us to a bear, or a goat, or something ELSE, we are having one hell of a time maintaining composure.

Friday, January 7, 2011

An Exercise in Futility

See also: Misadventures with Technology

Yesterday, I broke down and replaced my precious Asics Gel Nimbus 12 running shoes - the ones I spent an inordinate amount of time being fitted for, the ones that trained me all summer, the ones that ran the half marathon (*pause for moment of silent reflection*). I'm now the proud owner of a brand-spankin'-new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 12 running shoes. Pink ones this time instead of blue, if you wondered. Because Christmas gift cards come in very handy for impulse shopping, I am also now the proud owner of a Nike +iPod thingy.

The thingy. I get to playing with it last night and see that it needs to be "calibrated". Fine. How hard can that be, right? Follow the directions and you're good to go. Oh, just keep reading.

Le Snoog is safely dropped off at school (on time and with nary a tear, woo!), I head over to the Y, and - cue the angels and trumpets, folks - there is NO WAIT for a treadmill! This is a good sign. The stars are aligning in my favor today. I attach the sensor, snugly tucked into its little velcro pouch, to my shoe and pull out the calibration instructions. Blah blah blah push button, blah blah blah set the distance (1 mile), press center button to start calibration. Hey now, here we go. I decide to take it a little slow so that Lance Armstrong can tell me I've just recorded a personal best for the mile a little sooner than he would if I put the hammer down, and finish my mile. At which time I press the appropriate button to end the calibration.

"Press the center button to start calibration."

Huh? I didn't just do that? Like a mile ago?

Allrighty then. Let's check the instructions and start this over. Yada yada yada push button, yada yada yada set the distance (mmhmm, 1 mile), press center button to start calibration. One slower-than-I-really-feel-like mile, let's watch the Today Show, all done. Push the button.

"Press the center button to start calibration."

REALLY? Are you KIDDING? I haven't even managed to calibrate this &%$#ing thing?

One. More. Time. Rinse, repeat. I finally got the little beast calibrated after the third mile. After which I needed to do my actual workout. I decide to see what "spoken feedback" I'll get when I do a timed workout instead of distance because I just don't want to think about miles anymore, so I set the thing and take off.

One mile in, I realize I have a blister.

This concludes today's workout, ladies and germs. Because I don't have the courage to try to figure out how to set the stupid thing up on iTunes yet so that I can broadcast my mad running skillz on Facebook, I'm going to just tell you I ran 4.25 miles this morning.

Three of which were spent calibrating the thingy. Lance, you better come through for me or I'm letting my son flush you down the toilet.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Philadelphia Dreamin'...

At least that's what I was planning to write about, since I took myself down to Bayshore to run along the water after I dropped off Little Bit at school this morning. It was a horrible dropoff, and I was sad and lonely and dare I say it - missed him to pieces, even though I've had no time to myself for a couple of weeks. I was already dressed to run SOMEWHERE, why not somewhere with a nice view before it gets too hot, right? Anyway, I was cruising along (realizing, may I add, that somehow I've gotten faster since the half), imagining myself running through Center City on a chilly November morning, and here's where the blog's going off track....

There were more people than I expected out running/walking/insert forward-moving activity here this morning. They were all carrying on with their forward motion as I checked off the "out" part of the 4.10 mile out & back, just as expected. Not so much on the way back. Why is everyone hanging on the seawall? Did the House That Jeter Is Building suddenly erupt in flames? Even the dogs seem enraptured, and someone has a videocamera. Um, it's Bayshore, and you can't see Jeter's house from here, only the cranes. What in the world?

Wait a minute. I see it.
I see THEM.

The dolphins, I mean. 4, no, 5 of them. A mommy and her baby (cue the tears, because MY baby is at school right now). Go ahead and assume I've now pulled over to the seawall myself to stand and smile and lose track of time watching these gorgeous creatures. Each of them easily came within 50 feet of the seawall, giving us a beautiful glimpse of what it's like to be so agile and so carefree. Fin after fin emerged from the water. Mother and child stayed within a flipper's length of one another as they played and danced for us. I'd never say I'm religious, but I have no problem sharing that moments like this reaffirm my faith in God, or at the very least in something far, far greater than myself. Watching the little family brought up the same protective feelings I feel for my own family because I so strongly identify with that dolphin mama. One day, the baby dolphin will be an adult and will venture far, far further than just that flipper's length away. My baby will do the same. His mommy will accept it as part of life, as must I.

All mistiness aside, it was a beautiful moment that brought me back to my place here among the community of mothers, of mothers of sons, of mothers who run. I gathered strength and turned to finish the mile or so that would get me back to my car, and back to reality. And here I am. Still Philadelphia dreamin', though.

Dream big. It's a new year - you've got nothing to lose.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Time Falls Away

I just came down the stairs after putting Small Boy to bed, and caught a glimpse of our Christmas tree. Lit for the last time until the holidays come back around to me. Somewhere in this ramblefest of a blog it's probably been mentioned that Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year...well, New Year's Day is my least favorite. Yeah, I know. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

It's not that I don't appreciate the beauty of a fresh start, the promise of a clean slate, a whole new 12 months to set things right (or at least to set the right things in motion), I do. What's bothersome about today isn't the "beginning" part; rather, it's the "ending". The ending of the holiday season, to be precise. It's like I told my better half earlier - and as I tell him every year - "The holidays are over. No more happiness. Ever." Totally uncharacteristic hyperbole and melodrama from someone not given to either. Okay, fine. I'll give you hyperbole if you know me well enough to be laughing at that.

My stream-of-consciousness musings on my misplaced, oddly-timed seasonal depression:

Goodbye, Christmas tree. Goodbye, wreaths and lights and twinkly, shiny houses. Goodbye, hustle and bustle and people wanting to give instead of to receive. Goodbye, shopping. Goodbye, shipping. Goodbye, baking and carols and toddlers with jingle bells. Goodbye, Christmas magic. Goodbye, traditions and family gatherings and office parties. Goodbye, mail that is not bills. Goodbye evergreens, goodbye apple cider, goodbye ribbons and bows. Goodbye, holiday cheer and anticipation and the promise of maybe weather cool enough to wear sleeves and drink red wine with impunity and turn on your fireplace like you live somewhere cold, where it might snow.

Hello, daily grind. Hello, husband on regular-year work schedule. Hello, impatient clerks and sad holiday items on sale. Hello, diet. Hello, what's in it for ME. Hello, hot weather. Hello to clothes I don't like wearing and sweating when you walk to the car and life without college football again and interminable baseball and can I pretty please just get. out. of. town. for a long weekend because Florida is weighing on me like concrete shoes. Hello again, mundane.

So, in that light, I will gather my mundane around me and resolve again daily to find the joy in it. To quote Rob Thomas -

Our lives are made in these small hours
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away, but these small hours...
These small hours still remain.

Don't let your small hours pass you by this year.