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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Complacency, Love, and the Weather

As is too often with these posts, I start by saying…it’s been too long since I have written anything new.  I could blame work, school, kids, life,  but really that would only be the icing on a cake too tall to tackle.  The real problem is myself and even that is not enough to explain what has happened to me over the past few months.  As is usually the case I am torn between being happy (complacent) with the life I have and wanting (needing) something more.

While I feel like I say it every year, this one, by far, has been the hardest one to navigate.  Between friendships found, and lost, and found, the bumpy and panic inducing ride that is 11 years of marriage, losing and finding myself over and over again, and simply finding time to breathe through it all, I feel like I’ve been broken and put back together so many times that I wonder if all my pieces have survived.

 

I wonder, sometimes, if my biggest problem is more simple than I realize.  That maybe my expectations for people and their behaviors are simply too high. Mostly, I feel that people will never meet mine and am forever doomed to sit and silence and ponder if it’s them or me.  And yet, why ponder?  I know it’s me. I simply assume everyone puts forth the same amount of everything I do: love, effort, understanding, movement, change.  And when they don’t I am undoubtably dissapointed.  “They” say expectation is the root of all heartache and this is something I wholeheartedly believe.  But do we give up, accept this, and work to assimilate to the “others”; the ones that we feel are disappointing us?  Decide to live in quiet complacency, knowing we could have it worse?  That maybe if we just let things go, decide to give up what we feel we need, that we could live an almost happy life?

Or do we simply wait?  Wait for the changes we are asking for.  Wait for love we know we need and deserve. Wait for a life we know we are not going to simply exist in…but actually live in.

The conundrum exists: do you hope for the hurricane or simply enjoy the calm and still air of almost?  Sometimes, the hurricane is worth it.  It’s beautiful and perfect in its power and destruction, changing the landscape of your life forever, tearing down the extraneous walls you’ve built up to keep things out (or in).  Other times it simply destroys everything, coming and going in meer moments, leaving an empty hole where something stable (maybe not profound or amazing), but stable used to be.

I’m watching people take these leaps and bounds in their lives and am becoming completely envious. Picking up and moving away.  Finding a new and meaningful job.  Leaving behind a mediocre life for a great one. For a while, it was hard to watch their journey because of the jealousy.  What luck to get exactly what you want; what you’ve been hoping for. They made it looked so easy.  But now, I know it is their bravery I covet.  The sheer courage to say “This is what I want and I’m going to go for it.”  They decided take some action instead of sitting around and talking, wondering, or even writing about it.  Taking the risk in the hurricane, even if it destroys everything.

No matter how much back and forth I do in these situations, deep down, I know what it is that I want.

And it’s time to go and buy an umbrella.

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I’m not me. But I will be soon.

I started the post awhile ago and then stopped.  There are so many truths within it that I just didn’t know if I was willing to face them.  By admitting these things, I feel like my life course, my life as I know it, essentially all that I am, will be different.  And I’m literally writing this after I had a mental breakdown on the side of the road at 5:30 in the morning.

I started running when my dad died.  Ok.  That’s not entirely accurate, but that’s the truth that I tend to tell people because it seems more acceptable than the real story.  More acceptable and less ugly. But really, what have I got to lose at this point?  Nothing.  They say the truth will set you free.  Well, maybe that’s just what I need.  Freedom from who I think I am so I can become the real me.

After my dad died I fell apart.  Which was odd to me because we hadn’t spoken in 5 years.  But I had often seen myself in him.  He was angry a lot and tended to push those who were closest to him away.  As I watched him die sick and alone I worried that this is what my life was destined for.  And I tried to run away from everything.  During that time I got caught up in a relationship that I shouldn’t have.  I thought it was healing me when in reality it was slowly dismantling me.  When it ended, leaving me heartbroken and empty, I had no idea how to handle two losses in such a short amount of time.  So I went for a run.  And it truly saved me. I had found something that could put me back together, slowly and piece by piece.

And it worked…for a time.

I loved being able to say I was a runner.  It helped me feel accomplished, like I could do anything.  It made me feel more confident and pretty bad ass. But it also gave me an escape from my life, the escape I thought I had needed before; a way to “run away” so to speak.  In reality, it didn’t save me from myself.  It simply gave me the outlet to gloss over my problems; to bury them deep down and save them for another day.

Cut to me crying on the side of the road because I couldn’t run.  I have so much going on in my life that I had begun to use running as that escape again.  Now I have an injury and can’t run.  What am I supposed to do?  Without the running, I’m actually going to have to face the demons in my life.  I’m actually going to have to figure out what’s wrong and get to the root of my problems.

And I don’t know if I can do that.  I’ve been putting them in the background for so long that I don’t how to face my problems without running away.  I don’t know if I’m entirely ready to make these hard decisions that I know have to be made.  I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to make the changes that I need to make in order to actually survive.

But maybe that’s why this happened.  Maybe this injury is the universe’s way of telling me to grow a pair and handle my shit.  Because life is short.  And time is not guaranteed.

I need to say good-bye to running for awhile.  I need to learn how to cope without it. I need to learn how to love myself completely without the label of being a runner.  Once I’m whole again, we can start our journey all over, when running is something in my life and not the only thing.

Here goes nothing.

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Snow is serious business

The summer before I graduated from college (circa 2003) Mike and I drove across the country.  We visited 36 states in 3 weeks.  It was the most magical and fun trip I had ever taken.  And it’s this exact trip that convinced me that I could, in fact, get married.  I figured if we could basically live in a car together for 21 days and come out the other end alive, then we could pledge eternity to each other.

If knew me growing up, you’d know I never even thought about marriage.  Both my parents were on their second marriages before I came along.  I am also what caused their marriage (They were married in June.  I was born in January.  You do the math.).  Their marriage was tumultuous to say the least.  Fighting, screaming, throwing, cheating, drugs, alcohol, guilt, and insults were what I witnessed almost every day.  We would all beg for them to get divorced and my mom left a few times, always coming back in the end.  She would tell us it was for love, but we knew the real reason: loneliness and lack of money always won out in the end.  It wasn’t until I was 18 that they finally divorced and only because my mother had another person to help take care of her.

To say these experiences shaped the way I look at love and marriage would be an understatement.  From a very young age I had decided I didn’t want to be married.  Or have children.  I saw the strain they brought to things and having pretty much raised my younger siblings, I felt like my child rearing days were over.  Even when I would play with my dolls when I was younger, I never played house.  I always played orphanage.  That way I was still taking care of my “babies” but not having to be their mother. And I also wouldn’t be required to have a husband.

Sure, I had crushes.  Who didn’t?  But I never thought about them in the long term and I tended to flit from one person to another as my mood changed.  Finally, in college, I met Mike, we dated, and after our car trip I figured maybe I could do the marriage thing.  Maybe I wasn’t as broken as I actually thought I was.

Cut to the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.  14 years together.  Almost 11 years married. Three children.  And completely unsure of the future. Throughout this separation, I’ve spent my days convinced I am making the best decision for me and my family and my nights unsure.   Conflicted is an understatement.  Torn apart might be better analogy.

And then, lo and behold, a snow storm.  And not just any snow storm…the largest single snow storm in Baltimore history.  Not only would I be trapped in the house with my husband and kids, but I would be trapped in the house for DAYS.  How would we manage our hostility and hurt when there was no where to go?  It’s not even that I wouldn’t be leaving for work.  We literally could not leave the house. And I refused to simply use the children as a buffer as my parents had done so many times.

And maybe that’s where the real story begins.  Or, should I say, maybe that’s where a new story begins.  Maybe being trapped by this snowstorm was the best thing that could have happened to us.  Without a means to escape, we would have to face our problems head on and full force.  There was nowhere to hide.  And really no reason to.  Without being able to leave, we couldn’t lie to ourselves or each other anymore.  We would have to start being honest.  We would have to actually do some work.  Even if not to fix things, but to figure out a way to live in quiet harmony.

And you know what?  We did.  I’m not saying that everything is magically fixed.  It’s not. And it won’t be for a long time.  But without being able to escape I had to confront everything: my feelings, his feelings, the past, the present, the future.  And for the first time in a long time, I haven’t wanted to leave.  There’s a glimmer of something that I used to feel peeking up from behind the years of complacency and routine. Perhaps we need to see if this is anything worth saving.   Perhaps there’s a chance that it is actually worth working for.  Maybe it’s not…but maybe it is.

I feel a hope and a promise I haven’t felt for years.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re finally getting somewhere.

 

A Numbers Game

My life has revolved around numbers lately.  The littlest one moving on from eight months to nine months, the numbers in my back account slowly dwindling, the numbers on the scale slowly rising.  I’m trying my hardest to get control of them all but it seems that every time I make strides in one area I wind up taking two steps back in another.

I was thinking of all these things that I want to do: vacations I want to take, races I want to run, experiences I simply want to have and I never really feel like I have enough money to do any of them.  So I decided I would look over my back account and (multiple) credit card statements and add up all the extraneous money I spent for one month: liquor store, eating out, morning coffee purchases, late fees for certain things.  I didn’t think it would be that much, but when the number stared stared back at me on my calculator I almost died.

$900

Yes, you read that right NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Not nine, not ninety, but nine hundred freaking dollars.  No wonder I am not taking an vacations to Charleston or making a dent in my credit card payments.  It’s because I’m too busy buying Chinese food and wine.  Which would also explain why I’ve gained 20 pounds in the last 8 months.  Because apparently all I do is eat and drink calorie laden shit.

But I’ve noticed little things lately: the pants getting a little tighter, my energy waning, more guilt over food choices I am making.  And who has time for this.  I don’t.  Not at (almost) 35.  Not with three kids.  Not with the goals and hopes I have.

The scale has become my nemesis, staring at me with her skinny, glassy body every time I enter the bathroom.  I step on.  Close my eyes.  And pray.  I pray that I don’t see a certain number.  Or that it didn’t go up AGAIN.  But ever since I stopped really running in the fall and ever since stopped training for my marathon it has been creeping up ever so slowly.  I’m not going to list the number, but lets just say my middle number has changed twice and if I don’t get a handle on it soon, my first number will as well.  And I can’t have that.  I can’t go back to that first number.  I’ve worked too damn hard.

I’ve decided to use January as kind of a cleanse.  Shedding off the old mistakes that I made in December (and month’s prior) and trying to change my behavior into more positive choices.

  1. Make coffee at home.  Sure, it’s not my venti iced skinny vanilla latte, but it also costs way less than $6.00.
  2. No alcohol.  At least for January.  I want to see how I feel without it.  And my wallet needs to see how it feels without it as well.
  3. Healthy, non-processed food.  I want to train for the AirBnB Brooklyn Half Marathon (more on this later) and I need to do it right this time.  Healthy nutrition in…positive energy out.
  4. Stop eating out.  In December we were sick, I was stressed, we were tired.  And most nights I would come home and just not want to cook.  So I didn’t.  Of course, this affects everyone in the family, and I need to be setting a better example for the littles in my life.

Hopefully with these four changes I can begin to see a difference: more energy, better sleep, focused running and exercise, and more real life experiences.

I’m tired of simply wishing I could do and be more.

Let’s do this, January.

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The Proverbial Itch

““That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” ~Charles Dickens

This happens every few years.  The proverbial itch.  That feeling I get when I can’t sit still.  It’s usually proceeded by a great life change.  Two years ago it was the death of my father.  Now, the birth of my newest child.  With my father it had a lot to do with me rebelling against him, his death, and the need to prove that I am still very much alive, even when he was not.  It was a need to prove that in a great upheaval, a great depression, I could still be happy.  I felt the need to break free, go crazy, and prove that there was still “something” left in me.

But now, I’m starting to get that feeling again.  I look at my daughter as I hold her in my arms at just 17 days old and think that I have never loved anything in my entire life as much as I’ve love her.  And for someone like me, this can be very scary because when you love something that much, you now have something to lose.

Just the other day I was walking around my neighborhood and I couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that spring seemed to bloom overnight.  The trees seemed to be bare one morning and then alive with light and color the very next day.  And I found this to be the way I love my daughter.  Unsure during my entire pregnancy if having more children was the “responsible” thing to do and then within minutes of her being born not being able to imagine living my life without her in it.

But these are scary feelings and sometimes they seem stronger than I am actually able to process within myself…hence the itching feeling, hence the need to break out of my own skin and shed the uncomfortable feeling of being unable to process so much.

The last time I made choices, and while many of them weren’t very wise choices, they brought me to the place where I am today.  I’m stronger than I once was, I’ve discovered my love for running, I have an amazing new daughter, and I’m the most confident I’ve ever been.  I learned a lot about myself during this time of upheaval, most importantly, to take myself seriously and not let anyone be in charge of my happiness.

But two years ago I did it all wrong. Two years ago I decided that the problem wasn’t me and that it was everything else around me.  At that time running away seemed like the only option.  And while I didn’t run away per se, I left my life behind for a while and jumped head first into something different and something unknown.  I assumed that this would help me feel better.  I assumed that this is what I needed to survive.  But what I realized was just the opposite.  Running away from my life nearly broke me.  I became a shell of the person I was and it took too long to rebuild myself.  I don’t have that kind of time anymore.

Now, things are different.  The main difference, of course, was before I wanted to run away and now I simply want to run.  I’m looking forward to being able to run again.  To getting out there are pounding the pavement and smashing my problems as I work through them.  Maybe this time the itchyness is a good thing; it’s a desire to get back to work on my and continue to my journey to becoming the best person I can be.

And that’s exactly what I’ll do – for me, for my family, and now for my amazing little daughter; the answer I never new I was looking for.

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