From the old to the new

I got my haircut today.  And registered to run the NYC marathon.  Two things that really needed to happen.

While my haircut is pretty great, we all know this isn’t what this post is about.

I earned my guaranteed entry by deferring my entrance from last year to this year.  Last year I wasn’t ready.  I thought getting in by lottery would make me ready.  It didn’t.  Life happened.  And then more life.  I stopped running. I stopped trying.  I stopped everything.

But now things are different.  I’m still not ready for this marathon.  Not by a long shot.  I’ll be one of those last finishers that everyone waits for, but I don’t care.  I’ll do it anyway and be proud of any amount of time it takes me.  Going from zero to marathon is no small feat.  I know this.

I knew my guaranteed entry was coming but I hesitated signing up again.  I would think yes, then no, then yes again, then no again…I think you get the picture.  Then the lottery opened and my emailed arrived confirming what I already knew.  And still I waited.  After posting on social media about how I was unsure of which decision to make my friends and complete strangers encouraged me: it’s a once in a life time opportunity, don’t hesitate – just do it, I have faith in you.  The words resonated with me so much and I began to think maybe I could do this.  Maybe I could “run” a marathon.

But still…I waited.  $295 dollars is no small amount of money and for someone who is paying the bills in two households, it’s more than I can waste.  What if I chickened out again?  What if the self-doubt and fear overtakes me?   What if I really can’t do it?  That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain.

And then, on whim, on a random Thursday night, I sold my old engagement ring.  A ring I had picked out and essentially paid for myself.  A ring that represented a marriage and a union that no longer existed.  A ring that was bought for a person who no longer exists.  I didn’t get a lot for it.  Not nearly as much as we paid for it almost 16 years ago.  But you know what it was enough to cover?  An entry fee to the NYC marathon as well as some left over (training gear, perhaps?).

With a few clicks of a button it was done, and I was registered, letting a piece of who I once was turn me into someone I know I can be.

NYC 2018…here I come.

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Giving Up

Ah…

The season of Lent is upon us.  A time when people give up something they can live without for 40 days.  While I’m not overly religious (or even religious at all) I try, each year, to give up something in order to test my willpower and hopefully make me a better person.  Or at least, a semblance of a better person that one can become in 40 days.

The idea behind giving something up is that it is something that, in some way, negatively affects us.  Some people give up chocolate or caffeine, time spent on facebook, television, sugar, etc.  I thought long and hard about what I wanted to give up this year…and finally landed on the obvious…wine (any alcohol really).  I know, I know, I’ve said it before.  But I really do think I’m going to make it this time.  I’m trying to get back into running, trying to eat healthier, and trying to save money…all things that are very much affected by wine drinking.  I know it will be hard (it’s day one and I’m already dying after Kindergarten Valentine’s Day Party insanity), but the hard things are usually the most important.

But will I become a better person simply by giving up alcohol?  In that respect, I’m not so sure.  For the first week or two I’m probably going to be more grumpy to be honest, but that’s probably it.  So I feel like I need something else.  Something that will really help me become a better “me”: a better mother, a better teacher, a better girlfriend.  Something that will make me happier.  Something that will make me more whole.

So I have decided each day during lent I’m going to give up something that I feel is holding me back or holding me down.  Something that is toxic or negatively affecting my sense of self.  Something I may be too scared to face, or think, or do.  I’ll try to write about it as much as I can (which will also help me accomplish my goal of writing more) but life happens and I know I can’t make any promises.

Day #1: Giving up the guilt over my relationship.

Joe and I have been dating for almost a year and a half now and not a day goes by when I don’t feel the guilt over how our relationship started or how my marriage ended.  Those that I am close with (and have remained close with) know the whole story, but I know many people only know bits and pieces that they may have heard from me or from another source, or simply through the grape vine.

My marriage had been rocky for awhile.  And by that I mean about 5-6 years.  Things would occasionally get better and then get worse again.  He was mean and controlling, or passive and lazy (we worked in extremes), and I spent a lot of time wanting to leave and not knowing how.  I felt bad about leaving him with nothing, I had no idea where to go, and so many other excuses I continued to make over and over again.

While we had known each other for a few years, Joe and I became friends at the downward slope in both of our marriages.  And as we became closer, we realized how much we had in common and how much enjoyed each other’s company.  Then we fell in love.  Plain and simple.  It wasn’t planned.  We didn’t set out to do it.  And we sure as hell didn’t set out to hurt anyone else.  I’m sure if you listen to the other side of the story, thats the way it would sound.  That certain people were complete innocent and I was the vindictive one.  I know that’s not the case, and honestly, so does she.  I could say more, but I won’t.  It’s not my style.  And that’s not what this post is about.

While I know the timeline wasn’t the best, and there are things I could have done better, I don’t regret it.  I’m happy. Happier than I’ve even been.  And Joe’s happy.  And my kids are happy.  Though he won’t admit it, I think Mike’s happy too.  And so is Joe’s ex.  While we all felt horrible while going through the fire, now that the flames are out and we can finally breathe, things are looking so much better for everyone.

So, I’m going to stop feeling guilty.  I’m going to forgive myself. I’m going to enjoy my relationship and i’m going to let it continue to change me for the better.

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My Latent Love

I wrote this post about Oliver a few short days before his first birthday.  It is still so pertinent today.

My little Oliver is about to turn one in just twelve short days.  I have really been reflecting on this lately because, as I look back, I can’t believe how far we’ve come and what we’ve overcome together.

Max has always been considered and probably always will be considered my little miracle baby.  Born after 2 losses, arriving almost six weeks early, it was hard not to love him at first sight.  This was something I had worked so hard to obtain, not just for for nine months, but for the three years before he was born as well.  He looked exactly like me and we were inseparable since our first day together.   And, in all honesty, we still are.  We are two peas in a pod, cut from the same cloth.  Our personalities are so in sync that at times it is hard to figure out where I end and he begins.  There is, of course, a bond between father and son, but not quite like the one we share.

In opposition, being pregnant with Oliver felt like a chore.  I know it had  a lot to do with having a toddler already, having to keep it a secret because we lived with my in laws at the time, and spending all my time worrying about where we were going to live, how we were going to pay for things, etc, but still I wanted it to be over.  I was ready for him to be born and ready to get the “parenting two under two” show going.

When he was born, he was absolutely perfect in every way a baby could be, but I was still worried.  Not about him because he was everyone’s favorite, but about Max and how we would take it.  I know I should have been more worried about Oliver, trying to spend more time with him, but I felt like, for some reason, he didn’t need me as much.  He had daddy, and the grandparents, everyone fawning all over him and all I could think about was how to make sure Max was included in all of the newness and excitement.

I know moms that will sugar coat things and say that bringing a new baby into the fold was easy and natural, but I’m not going to lie.  From the minute we walked in that door and we were all left alone it was hard.  Taking care of two in a tiny house was insane.  Having no income at all while on maternity leave was a nightmare.  Oliver was sick a lot and in turn we were all sick.  My sleep suffered.  My marriage suffered, everything seemed to be changing and I really wasn’t ready for it to.

My siblings and I are completely different, so I don’t know why I thought that Oliver would be easy just like his brother.  There were/are so many differences, even from the beginning.  Oliver wanted a lot of attention.  He loved to be held and be around people, especially his brother.  He was noisy and cried a lot and ate a lot, and was a terrible sleeper (still is!)

But with all of that came his smile, his huge blue eyes, and his ability to find joy and laugh at everything.  My day doesn’t feel complete if Oliver isn’t up to say goodbye to me in the morning.  No matter what kind of day I am having, seeing him run to greet me when I come home with that huge smile on his face is all I need to change my day around completely.  He is definitely daddy’s boy, through and through, but I know we have something too, a connection that only a mom and son could have.  It may have taken a little while, but now I realize that I would not be able to function if he were not here with us.  He is the puzzle piece in the middle…the one without which you have no idea what the picture actually is, the one that keeps everyone together.

At first I felt guilty about these feelings I had, like I wasn’t a good enough mother for some reason because my heart did not burst full of love the minute he came into this world, but I know that I shouldn’t.  My love for Oliver grew a little bit each day and I know that even now it is not done growing.  Today I can say I love him to the moon and back, but I know we still have the rest of the universe to conquer together.

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Happy Birthday.

The day before I left Mike it was his birthday.  Having postponed the move so many times, I finally decided that would be the official day.  Determined to have one last day of family and one last day of togetherness, the kids and I spent our day creating the illusion of happiness.  We went out to buy presents, made a cake, decorated cards, and prepared a favorite dinner.  None of it was really appreciated, as I knew it wouldn’t be, but we did it anyway.  It was important to me for the kids to see me still making the effort to do nice things for their father, even though we were no longer together, even though our world was going to change dramatically in the next 24 hours.

I still made the effort. And that seems to be the one sentence that can sum up my 13 years of marriage to a man I am no longer in love with.

I still made the effort.

And now, today is my birthday.  A different birthday than every other year. Since Oliver and I are two days apart, my birthday usually falls in the shadows of his.  But this year, some one has gone out of their way to make it extra special and for that I will always be grateful.

I have loved the calls and the voicemails, the facebook posts, the emails, and the text messages telling me Happy Birthday.  I even received one from my father-in-law (ex-father-in-law? Too many hyphens to be sure) telling me Happy Birthday!  Happy birthday exclamation point…as if he really is being genuine even though I have left his son.

Yet, as of 11 am, there have been no texts or calls from Mike wishing me a happy birthday.  There were the texts asking me about emailing Max’s teacher since he is sick and home from school.  There were the texts asking me about bills that need to be paid.  These texts began at 6:32 this morning, and yet, not one saying Happy Birthday.

At least once a week there is the text asking me when I am “coming home” and getting back together with him. But not a single happy birthday.  Yes, I know it’s still early in the day, but still…you’d think if you loved someone so much and wanted them back in your life, it would the first thing you say.

I can’t really act like I’m surprised.  He’s notoriously famous for forgetting my birthday, even when we were together. Really, that’s a tiny piece of the enormous puzzle of why I left.  I’m sure other’s have their judgements.  I ran off with another man.  I broke up a marriage.  I put my happiness above Mike’s.  All true, of course, but also insignificant pieces to the larger picture.

Do I need a happy birthday from him?  No.  Not in the least.  I’m glad to know that even when he didn’t care about my day, I still made the effort for his.

And I will choose to do so with the kids each August 14th.

 

 

 

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.

Conundrum

No.  Not the wine.  Though it is very good.

I woke up to a tweet that today is the day the lottery for the NYC marathon opens.  For all of you thinking, “Oh great, here she goes again.” you’re probably right.  Why am I even contemplating this yet again?  Why put myself through something that I am just going to give up on and quit?  In all honesty, I have no idea.  I just know that when this time of year rolls around I get a little shiver of excitement up my spine.

A little backstory, if you please.

The NYC marathon is rather hard to get in.  There is a lottery system and roughly 16% of “regular” US residents that apply get in.  Some people have applied for years and year and never once gotten in.  I’ve applied for the NYC marathon lottery twice.  And both time was accepted.  The first time I applied I was pregnant with Charlotte and was hoping this could give me the edge I needed to get back into running post-baby.  Long story short…it didn’t.  A tumultuous summer and very rough fall had me stop running almost completely and I dropped out and chose not to use my guaranteed entry for the next year.

Last year I applied again, hoping it would be the kick in the pants I needed to get my absolutely horrifying wreck of a life back on track.  Obviously, since you are reading this it didn’t work.  I won’t justify it, but I went through hell last year and am just happy to come out alive and relatively unscathed.

The icing on the cake (mmmm…cake)… after all of this, I pretty much stopped running, stopped working out, and gained by almost all of the weight I initially lost.

So after quitting two times on this marathon, why am I sitting here contemplating it again?  I have no idea.  Maybe it’s the signs I’m seeing.

A few thoughts on the matter.

  1. I actually don’t have to apply to the lottery again this year.  Since I “dropped out” last year I actually have a guaranteed entry for this year.
  2. In that respect, I do have to pay again.  Almost $300.  While I don’t have an extra $300 just lying around to waste on a marathon, I do have exactly that much in my Digit Savings Account.  Is this a coincidence?  Is it a sign?
  3. Or maybe this is the sign.  My daily shine text for today: FullSizeR
  4. My life is a lot more put together this year.  A lot more.  And while my free time is basically non-existent, I do think I can make the training work.
  5. Speaking of training: the marathon is 42 weeks away.  Just by looking at it quickly I would have exactly enough time to start (again), the couch to 5K program, then complete the 5K to 10k program.  Then have 24 weeks to complete a marathon training plan.
  6. And yes, I realize that just because I complete the training plans doesn’t mean I’ll be very fast or anything.  Which is why I just googled the NYC marathon finish times and found that the slowest actual finisher was a female who finished in over 10 hours with a 24:35 minute pace. If she can do it, maybe I can also?

So, again, a conundrum.  I know I have time to figure it out.  One month to be exact.

Is this my year?  Is the third time a charm?  Are all the signs pointing to yes?  Is my personal life in enough of a working order that I can finally start doing something for me again?

Or am I naive and just basically flushing $300 down the drain?

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The Obligatory Post

Every year around this time I write a post about how different my life is going to be next year.  About how I’m going to change my entire existence and have everything together.  About how I’m going to leave the shambles of the proverbial today and yesterday behind me with a renewed sense of self and motivation.

This is not that post.

That being said…I love New Year’s.

We all knew it was coming.  The obligatory post where I profess my love for this understated holiday.  I can’t help it.  It’s been my favorite for as long as I can remember.  I know the calendar has nothing to do with this, but there is something about the last number of the year changing that signifies a baptism. The past is put aside so new experiences can emerge. With the change in number so comes a change in attitude, purpose and resolve, almost as if the year is shedding off it’s old coat in order have renewed sparkle and shine.

Just scrolling through my posts on facebook from this day in the past brings up a variety of negativity.  Posts about friends not being my friend anymore, about how I’m completely burned out with life and lack basic patience, about how I never hold myself accountable for anything, about how I tend to make bad decisions, about how I never manage to take the “first step”, and just excuses upon excuses for everything.

And I hate that.  I hate that my favorite holiday, the end of the year and beginning of rebirth and renewal, is continually marred by my constant negativity.  So many posts of how I’m done with this year and ready for the next and how the year was horrible and I can’t wait for it to be over.  I’m rolling my eyes at myself as we speak.

Yes to all those things.  Completely.  Life has been hard each year and I tend to end on a rather low note instead of going out with a bang.  But this year, the difference is I’m not ending my year by stating how horrible this year was and how I’m ready to leave it behind me.  Actually, it’s quite the opposite.  While this year has been my hardest year to date, for once I’m ending it happily.

As my favorite author once wrote:

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

And that’s the biggest truth I ever heard.  While this year was hard, it was full of bravery and courage that I never knew I had.  Once I was able to really leave my toxic situation behind, it’s amazing how many things were able to fall into place. I’ve never been happier in life.

I won’t bore you all with my new year’s resolutions.  In fact, I don’t really plan on making them.   But still, there are changes that need to be made.  It’s time to reboot and recharge.  It’s time to take a break from things that are dragging me down, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  It’s time for making plans and moving forward with a renewed sense of vim and vigor.

No more constant worrying and regrets.  No more trying to change the past.  No more agonizing over friendships and relationships.

“Don’t look back.  You’re not going that way.”

More mindfulness.  More being present in the moment.

Each and every day.

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