And today we rest

“Rest and be thankful.” ~ William Wordsworth

Normally about this time I would be heading to the gym or out for a run or even work (yuck!).  Not today.  I’ve decided that as 2013 comes to a close I need a day off, a day to rest and reflect, a day to mentally prepare for 2013 ending and 2014 beginning.  This is the time of year that so many articles are posted on the internet about letting go, moving on, and making peace with the past.  That is exactly what I intend to do today.

2013 was a truly excruciating year.  Between issues with Max and learning about his profound hearing loss, a miscarriage on mother’s day, my dad dying, summer time discombobulation, relationship woes, and a tough beginning of the school year I wonder how I was able to come out of all of it still breathing and right side up.  I’m ready to let all of this go, to be finished mourning the losses, to end the regrets I have, and to march into 2014 with a clean slate, ready to take back my life.

I’m even going to take the day off from working out, from running, from stretching, from all of it.  With all the new stretches and exercises I’ve been doing in order to improve my running, plus the running itself, my legs are sore!  It’s a good kind of sore, one that shows me that these muscles have been underutilized for a long time, the kind of sore that shows me that I am actually doing something and making progress.  I love how I feel after a good workout and run, but every now and then it’s good to take a break.  It keeps me motivated and aching (literally) to get back into my routine.  Plus, with the goals I’ve set for January, I need a day to simply mentally and physically prepare.

So today I rest and reflect and let go, for tomorrow is not only a new day, but a new month and a new year and I plan on making it fabulous.

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Challenges: The Obligatory Resolutions Post

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.” ~Muhammad Ali

So, I guess this could be considered my obligatory New Years Resolution post.  I could bore you with my endless downpour of yearly recycled resolutions (drink less, eat more vegetables, be a nicer wife, be a better mother, etc.) but I won’t.  These are the same hundred or so plans that I make every year and every year I feel like a failure when I still occasionally suck at being a mom, when I still occasionally yell at my husband for no apparent reason, when I still occasionally have one too many glasses of wine, and when I still occasionally choose party mix over carrots.

And somehow, when I keep making the same resolutions year after year, I wonder why nothing changes; why I’m still depressed more than I’m happy, why I’m still not at the weight or fitness level that I want to be, why my home life is not as wonderful as it could be.  Part of this, of course, is that I never put forth enough effort.  For about two weeks I do everything in my power to change what I think needs to be changed, and then when things do change, I stop putting forth any effort and slack off…and things tend to go back to sucking. Shocking, I know.

Which is why, this year, I’m making monthly resolutions as opposed to yearly ones.  I’m hoping that this way I can keep things fresh, change things up when I need to, evaluate what’s working and what’s not, tweak and add and subtract when needed.  Also, I’ll be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I tend to loose focus or get discouraged or simply become complacent when I have too long to complete something.  And, of course, there is the procrastination aspect as well.  Why do today what you can do tomorrow instead?

A resolution, simply put, is the firm idea to do or not do something.  I guess, these ideas that I have for the month of January aren’t really resolutions so much as they are challenges and goals…things I am hoping to accomplish, though in the strict sense of the word I am resolute about accomplishing them.

So, long story short, each month I’ll come up with some sort of theme that encompasses the things I want to accomplish and at the end of the month evaluate how I did and make up new goals (or keep the same goals) for the next month.

January’s theme is simple: Take yourself seriously.  You are important. So many times I decide I can’t do things simply based on what other people would say if they found out I was doing them.  If I want to be a runner, I will.  If I want to learn a new language, I’ll do it.  If I want to dye my hair green, so be it.  Sometimes it’s ok to be selfish about things you want, especially if it will make you a better person in the long run.  And for those people who will judge, or be jealous, or try to bring you down, screw them.  I’ve got too much other crap going on. I don’t need any added negativity.

January’s Goals and Challenges

Body
1. Run 3-4 days a week

2. Be able to run 3 miles by the end of January

3. Complete the planking, squats, and pushup challenge (on pinterest)

4. Give up diet coke

Mind:
1. Take the opportunity to write at least twice a week

2. Read 2 new books

3. Learn a different knitting stitch than the only one that know

Soul:
1. NO cellphone, ipad, computer after 9:30 pm unless an emergency (or reading a book on the ipad, as I wind up downloading most of them).  No more mindless surfing and time wasting.

2. Do something scary each week: call someone on the phone, wear my running pants without feeling the need to hike shorts over them simply because I’m self conscious, etc.

3. Make an effort to be more world-conscious: shop more at local businesses, stop being so wasteful, etc.

4. Stop being so damn angry all the time: at my students, at my own kids, at my husband, at friends who have let me down.  I need to stop carrying this baggage every where I go.  It’s not solving any problems.

Honestly, these don’t seem so unreasonable (except maybe the diet coke :).

I know I can do it and I know there are people out there who will support me in this endeavor, and really, support me anything I decide to do.  And those are the people I really need to keep around.

Baby, we were born to run

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” ~Dean Karnazes

I went for my first run in almost a month yesterday (27 days to be exact).  I was worried that the slow time I was bound to have was going to cause me to become depressed and give up, but in fact, quite the opposite was true.  Yes, I was slow.  My mile time was no where near where I was when I became injured, but it was also no where near where it was when I started running a few months ago. I was happy to see that I wasn’t starting over completely and that I was going to be able to do this after all.  

It was almost humbling to see that I could still run a mile without stopping.  I remember when I first started the couch to 5K program the first interval is run for 1 minute then walk for 1.5 minutes.  Even during that first week, just running for 1 minute was hard.  I wanted to give up, I wanted to cry, I wanted to die from humiliation.  I hated running.  I hated that, for once, I wasn’t going to be able to accomplish something that I wanted to.  Back then, I feel like I really wanted to “run” for the eliteness of it.  To say I was a runner was not only “cool” but it was also going to prove that I was in shape and could do something that so many other people really couldn’t (running is HARD!).  But, now, that’s not the case.  

The best part of my very short, very slow run was the feeling, oh the glorious feeling I had.  I usually feel great (as in happy) when I finish my run, but miserable during. Yesterday, though, I felt wonderful the whole time.  It was hard, don’t get me wrong, and my feet hurt, and my knee hurt, and even my lungs hurt, but I was just so happy to be out and running again that I didn’t care about any of these pains.  It made me realize just how important running had become to me in such a short period of time.  It helps me think, reduces stress, dissipates any anger or aggression I may have accrued during the day.  Honestly, the health and weight loss benefits are simply an added bonus.  I’m not doing this for them.  That’s what the gym is for.  I’m doing this for me.

And now that I’ve realized just how important this is to me, I also realize that I need to do it right this time.  Last time, not only did I do too much too fast, but I also had no consistency with my runs.  I went when I felt like it and made excuses when I didn’t.  I didn’t do any stretching to help out my muscles or range of motion (beyond what I thought I was supposed to do…turns out I was wrong). And, and did nothing to prevent injuries that I might encounter.  As it turns out, my knee “injury” that I babied the last month was simply due to too much strain on my knee because my hip and quad muscles were not strong enough to accommodate my body when running

But, now I’m ready to do this thing, for real.  I mapped out my workouts for the month, used my dicks gift card to buy running socks, hand weights, and a foam roller, and moved the boys into the same room (it’s a really big room, and they love it) in order to create an office/workout space for myself.  

Most importantly I finally bit the bullet and went to Charm City Run (a local running store) to figure out what shoes I REALLY need to deal with all of my foot, leg, knee problems.  I was so concerned with not wanting people to look at my gross feet and watch me run on a treadmill.  Had I not been willing to run I would have wound up with a shoe that felt fine walking, but was terrible when I started running.  I actually settled on a pair of shoes from a brand I thought I would hate because of a previous shoe I tried from them.  It was really exciting to find “the shoe” that was going to work for me.

Running is something I hope I get to stick with for a long time.  It has done so much for me in just a few short months, I can’t believe I was ready to give it up so easily.

So, for now, I’ll take it slow, but I’m ready to run.

Blast from the Past: 2012 New Year’s Post

Here is my New Years Resolution Post from 2012.  Oh how things change and still remain the same.

Each year I try and come up with a few (dozen) New Year’s resolutions, and every year I fail miserably when trying to follow them.  Maybe it’s because I know that 7 million other people are making the same exact ones (eat healthier, exercise more, yell at the kids less).  I don’t know.  The point is that this year I am only going to make one resolution: no regrets.  I have spent so many years regretting almost every decision I have made and I realize this is a giant waste of my time.  No matter what choice I made I always figured that it was the wrong one, that maybe the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.  Then I worry and complain and whine because yet again I didn’t get my way (when in fact, that’s exactly what I got).

I came up with this resolution a few nights ago when a friend asked me and my husband out for New Years Eve.  I had to decline because of the kids and I began to reminisce about what it was like before I had kids.  When M was first born I was too scared to ever think that way.  M was our little miracle baby after a bunch of mishaps so it felt almost blasphemous to feel tired and simply need a break.  Once O came along though, the weight of working full time and having two tiny kids really did start to take its toll and I began to remember what it felt like to sleep in, eat whenever/whatever I wanted, drive out to the beach on a moments notice, pick up and move to a different state, go out with friends when they invited…

I started to think where I would be if I hadn’t had kids.  Would I be teaching english in Chile?  Would I have joined the Peace Corps?  Would I be getting my Ph.D?  All these little thoughts begin to creep into my sub conscience and I start to feel jilted, like I would be so much happier and better off if I had waited for a few more years and really done these wonderful, un-kid friendly things.

And then O looks at me a cracks up and M comes over to give me a snuggle and I realize had I become that person, running around the world doing all these wonderful things, what I would be thinking is how wonderful I bet my life would be if I had children to share it with.

Here’s to no regrets in 2012.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things”

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”  ~Marilyn Monroe

I really do love this time of year.  I used to think it had to do with idea of Christmas, family, presents, lights, and all the other things that go along with the season.  Yes, these things play a small part in the overall feeling of contentment I get during December, but they are not all encompassing.  I always thought my favorite holiday was Christmas, but it wasn’t until this year that I realized it is not.

My favorite holiday is New Years and for so many reasons.  Honestly, I am big fan of New Years Resolutions.  While I agree that you can begin a resolution at any time and you should never wait to change something you truly believe in, there is something so wonderful about the year ticking over to a new new number.  It’s almost as if New Years Day is a form baptism.  With the change of a number, the mistakes and regrets and uncomfortable feelings cease to exist, making it that much easier to start fresh and anew.  With the rip of a calendar page the whole world can begin again. You can set goals, make new decisions, basically become the person you have been waiting to become.

The other day I looked back on a New Years Eve post that I wrote as 2011 rolled into 2012.  2012 was the year, I decided with a vengeance, that I would have no regrets.  No matter what decision or choice I made, I would go with it, own up to it, and if it didn’t work out, I would roll with the punches.  Needless to say, this did not happen.  I still have a lot of trouble letting go, moving on, and not dwelling on past mistakes and regrets.  But really, in hindsight, this was a terrible resolution to make simply because the failure rate was astronomical.  While I can learn to take my regrets in stride, they will always occur.  It’s how I handle the feelings of regret that is the important part.

I think the reason I am looking forward to this New Years more than any other holiday is because, for the most part, 2013 sucked.  And I don’t mean in an “Oh I dropped my ice cream cone on the ground” kind of way.  I mean in a real, traumatic, life changing kind of way.  The most obvious thing is, of course, my father passing, which lead to a downward spiral of depression, but there was also going through the IEP process with Max, learning nothing was “wrong” with Max, but people made me think there was, a very rough school year last year, money problems, marriage issues, losing a car, and probably a myriad of other small things, that when pieced together were a recipe for disaster.

But this year, it will be different, if for no other reason than it has to be.  I can’t go through another year like last year.  In all honestly, I don’t think I would survive.  I think that because of everything that has happened this year I have grown and changed.  I’m not the same person that I was 365 days ago, and I couldn’t be happier with that.

I don’t have all of my specific resolutions figured out quite yet, but I do know the overarching theme.  Basically, I just need to be myself.  So many of my problems seem to stem from me hiding who I really am or even not allowing myself to shine too brightly in front of others.  I keep thinking that I don’t know who I am, but really I do, I’m just too scared of judgement to always show it.  There are all things we need to work on and change within ourselves, but sometimes, it’s ok to let the weird shine a little bit.

In so many ways I know who I am. I tend to have too many emotions and too often, the way I express them is over the top.  I cry too much, feel too much, love too hard, get jealous when I shouldn’t, and have a terrible temper. I’m loyal, but cautious.  I don’t always believe the best in people, and I’ve been proven right.  These are simply things I am not going to apologize for anymore.  I shouldn’t have to apologize for my feelings because they are real and a part of who I am, and the way I feel is important.  I need to stop worrying about constantly being judged.

Judgement seems to come at all times, even when we are doing something to better ourselves or set out in the right direction.  I think that is part of the reason I never really got anywhere with my running.  Sure, I improved, but I definitely didn’t try as hard as I could.  Basically, it was because I wouldn’t allow myself to take myself seriously and this was a mistake.  I was so worried people were going to judge me: Why does she think she can be a runner?  She’s not a real runner.  Why are you buying another pair of running shoes, you’re not a real runner…you’re like a really fast walker.  These are all thoughts that I thought other people were going to say about me because these are all thoughts that I was saying to myself.

Yes, I’m probably never going to run a marathon.  Yes, I’m pretty slow. Yes, there are a million reasons why I shouldn’t be running.  But I am.  And I like it.  And that’s all that matters.  And I don’t need to apologize for it.

I’m allowed to try hard.  I’m allowed to be good at things. Hell, I’m allowed to be bad at things.  I’m allowed to love you too much and tell you about it.  I’m also allowed to tell you why you are hurting my feelings if you are.  I’m allowed to take a break from people who aren’t letting me be me and are constantly trying to put me down to make themselves feel better.  I’m allowed to be who I am, and if someone doesn’t like it, it’s their loss.  I actually think I’m pretty awesome sometimes.

2014: The year of being me.

Best not to leave a trail of breadcrumbs this time…

**I wrote this post almost two weeks ago, but didn’t realize I hadn’t published it.**

“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien – The Hobbit

Made it to the gym today.  It felt good to get back into the swing of things after quite a few days off.  My knee and my shin hurts, but it was worth it.  I only did 30 minutes of cardio, but it was 30 minutes more than I would have done just sitting around my house with a sick kid, a cranky kid, and a tired husband.  My workout today made me realize just how far I’ve come since I started working out; farther than I ever thought I could.

My last post was about how, even though time has passed, I haven’t changed.  I still have the same thoughts, insecurities, obsessions, emotions, that I have been working so hard to change.  Today was a good day; a great day even.  Across the board (family, work, friends) I have no complaints.  I was in a great mood.  I accomplished a lot, and generally, felt all around elevated.

At this point, though, it’s hard to be optimistic.  It seems like every time I get to this point, the point of feeling happy and together and simply ready to live, something happens to drag me back down.  If I could pinpoint what it was it would make it a little easier to avoid, but I can’t.  It’s something subtle that I really can’t discern, almost as if the moon was shifting or the tide was turning.  It’s something just big enough to make me topsy turvey, but not big enough to be seen with the naked eye.

I joke about how I will never be lost, never lose who I know I am because I always find my way back to that place, a place I really don’t want to be.  When I was able to run I felt so much happier.  It may be because the more I ran, the farther I got from the place of sadness.  But now I have to rely only on the gym and only on the machines that mimic movement but never take you anywhere.

I sometimes wonder if part of the reason I always find my way back to complacency and sadness is because it’s what I know.  It feels comfortable and this is what I know how to do.  The feeling of sadness and depression is one that has been a part of me for a long time.  It’s familiar, I can’t mess it up, and once you’re down there’s a shorter fall to rock bottom.

I realize the best path to change and happiness is the one that I am going to really work for.  It’s the one that is a slow incline, with roots and sticks to trip over, but it will be less likely that I fall down a steep and slippery slope.

Taking the shorter, easier, way out hasn’t been working for me.  It’s about time I suck it up and really work for what I want.

How nothing and everything has changed…

“Driving home, the sky accelerates
And the clouds all form a geometric shape
And it goes fast
You think of the past
Suddenly everything has changed” ~The Flaming Lips

Since I hadn’t been on Facebook in a few weeks, I missed random things that were happening.  As I perused a little this morning, I saw my brother had posted that last Thursday marked 6 months since my father passed away.  I couldn’t believe it.  Had it really been six months already? Had close to 180 days truly passed?  Have I simply been asleep or in a coma to suddenly wake up and find out this information? How can something feel like yesterday and years ago all at once?

I can honestly say that I have been through more in this 6 months than probably the rest of my life put together.  The dizzying highs and lows, the turmoil that was self-created throughout the summer, it caused a sort of retreat into myself that I have not quite been able to come out of yet.  True, I am not the person I was in August, not quite knowing which way was up and which way was down, confused about the sheer aspect of living life on a daily basis at time.  I am far from that, but I still sometimes feel the need to protect myself from people, and even from feelings, making sure I don’t become that summertime person I was.

While I have let go of the summer; of my dad, of memories, unsure decisions, and enlightening life changes, I haven’t truly let go.  Everything about these few months still hang around me like a dark cloud that could either blow on by or begin pouring down on me at any minute. Every time I think my stride has become right again and my path is straight and narrow a turn, or a rock, or even a small pebble comes out of nowhere to cause me to stumble and fall.  It causes me to relive and remember things that I don’t necessarily want to.

While I may have used the excuse of my dad dying before as the reason I was so off kilter this summer, I need to stop. First and foremost, it’s not fair to him.  He wasn’t a great man, frankly, he wasn’t a good man either, at least not to me, but when someone leaves us we can choose how we see things, and I choose to remember the early years over the later ones.  It’s not fair to continue to blame him for my short comings.  True, his death contributed, but only in the way that it caused initial strife and turmoil within myself.  I had the choice at that moment to begin getting better or continue down a path of self-destruction and we know which one I chose. I had no way to handle my feelings, or really simply to understand them, so I created myself anew, became someone that I wasn’t, simply so I wouldn’t have to deal with the effects of the pain; simply so I wouldn’t have to deal with feeling anything at all.

So many things died this summer, most notably, important parts of myself marred by uneasy choices and decisions along the way.  I have used the fall to rebuild what was lost and broken, and find the parts that were stolen and forgotten about. Some times I feel like I am back together better than ever and at others I feel like I am still a giant pile of rubble ready to be swept into the trash, missing pieces that are so integral to my survival

I’d like to be all zen and believe that all the decisions, even the bad ones, contribute to who you are. I’d like to think that even the bad decisions have gotten me to the place I am today and I should be grateful.  But I’m not all zen. I’m not even a little zen.  I’m not an optimist, I’m a realist.  In the words of Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Life could be a little sweet, But life could be a little shitty.”  And really, in a nutshell, that’s how I feel.

But if we’re still breathing, if we’re still upright, if we can still find something to smile about, then we haven’t lost our hope.

What I know now more than ever is that sometimes life sucks.  But then again, sometimes it doesn’t.