The Elusive Other Shoe

Things have been good lately.  Really good.

Yes. I’m still annoyed by my job.  Yes.  My kiddos drive me insane.  Yes.  There is never enough time, or money, or resources, or sleep.

But yet, things have been good.

We took all three kiddos on a walk around the neighborhood today.  The boys ran ahead playing Pokemon Go and chatting with a neighbor friend who turns out to be in Ollie’s class at school.  Charlie toddled. And fell.  And begged to be picked up.  And begged to be put down. We, as the grownups, meandered slowly, relishing in the fact that we live in a neighborhood where it’s ok that the kids run ahead of us and Charlie walks in the middle of the road.

There was an instant that I realized this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  Not days, not months. Years. Probably 5 years if you want to put a number on it. And it was the most amazing feeling.  Nothing extraordinary was happening at that moment or today, and yet, pure bliss.

And then after the bliss comes worry.  Because this kind of happiness doesn’t stay.  At least not for me.  I’m half enjoying the bliss and half waiting for the other shoe to drop.  That elusive shoe that’s always hanging in the background waiting.  Waiting to swoop and and remind you that you’re fallible.  That life is full of ups AND downs.  To bring chaos to the stillness happening around you right now.

So we enjoy the happiness, but on our tiptoes.  Scared to make too much noise.  Scared to make any sudden movements.  Because, as much as we want to believe that this kind of happiness, true and unadulterated happiness, is here to stay, we know that darkness is hiding in the shadows.

So we sit and wait until we hear it…the sound of that shoe hitting the ground.

And then we brace our selves.

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Race Recap and a bunch of other randomness

“If you start soon enough, you won’t have to catch up.”

This week-end was absolutely gorgeous.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all that other wonderful spring-timeness that we know and love.  A friend and I completed the Port to Fort 6K this week-end in downtown Baltimore.  This was my first time ever running an event (not racing, because we all know I wasn’t going to win) that was more than a 5K.  The race itself was beautiful, but tough and had a lot of hills.  My friend walked, I ran (THE WHOLE THING!) and she beat me by a minute and a half.

I don’t know what it is about running races, but I am trying my hardest to get over the mental roadblock that I put up.  This race was a little under four miles.  I run that distance about twice a week, but I run it at home, alone, and in the dark.  This definitely felt a lot harder with crowds of people, time limits, and expectations.  I always feel like I am doing a great job and then the hoards of people start passing me.  And then the people who are miles ahead of me pass me on their way back to the finish line and I start to get defeated.

I know I am improving.  I know that running for four miles at any pace is an awesome accomplishment.  I also know that just 6 months ago I could barely run at all and it took me over an hour to finish a 5K.  But sometimes I forget that there is another part to the package.  I keep telling myself that I’m not a “real” runner so I don’t have to take myself seriously.  I keep telling myself that because I’m a real runner, I don’t have to do all that “extra” stuff.  I keep telling myself that because I’m not a real runner, I don’t have to push myself to improve.  And this is simply not true.  I am never going to be one of those runners that runs a 6 minute mile.  Hell, at this point I’m hoping for a 12 minute mile.  But I can get there if I try.  I can get  there if I stop making excuses.

I know that in order to get better I have to run more.  I know that in order to get better I have to make myself know that this is important.

I know that in order to get better I just have to keep going.

The view at mile marker 2 of the Port to Fort 6K

The view at mile marker 2 of the Port to Fort 6K

Reinvention

“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents.  To not be like your friends. To be yourself.  To cut yourself out of stone.” ~Henry Rollins

I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of reinvention lately, about how you can seemingly change yourself day in, day out, just in the blink of an eye.  You can be whoever you want to be, whenever you want to be, and while scary, this concept can also be breathtaking, life changing, and completely freeing.

But what about when the concept of reinvention is simply becoming who you really are when you are not afraid of the judgement of others?  I feel like this is where I am at this point of my life. I know I am too worried about being judged to be the person I feel like I am all the time, even around my closest friends.  Do I keep my mouth shut too much, simply to avoid confrontation and judgement? Do I gossip more than I should to fit in with those around me?  Do I hide that bit of weird and crazy we all have simply to avoid whispers behind the back? Of course I do.  Because, of course, I’m scared.

But really, why am I so afraid of it?  I’m a rather successful 33 year old wife, mother, and teacher who has a handful of wonderful friends and an amazing family. And yet, I can list literally a million examples of when I hid my true self simply to avoid other people’s judgement, whether it’s what I wear, what I say (or don’t say), or what I choose to do in my free time.

And frankly, I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of not wearing certain clothes, accessories, or make-up (though I’m not really a fan) for fear that it looks like I’m trying to bring attention to myself, or simply be judged because someone doesn’t like how I look.  I don’t talk up my accomplishments for fear that I’m seen as egotistical, arrogant, and a braggart.  I’m tired of being nice to people and others simply thinking I’m “flirting” or have ulterior motives.

I’m tired of being judged, and I’m tired of being a judger.

And most importantly, I’m tired of valuing what other people think about me over what I think about me.

 

 

The truth will set you free

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” ~Thomas Jefferson

I began writing in this blog as a way to get all the random thoughts out of my head, but also as a way to tell my story.  But as I look back, I realize I haven’t necessarily been upfront and honest.  I haven’t necessarily given all the facts and explained the whole situation. Mostly, this is due to fear. And judgement from people.  And to be perfectly frank, I’m tired of hiding behind fear.

I guess you could say it all began with a trip to Oregon.  At first I was excited.  A trip to the West Coast with a bunch of friends from work and a few days off from the kids to go along with it.  What’s not to love?

Then I remembered that I would have to take an airplane.  Then I remembered I would have to fit into an airplane seat and buckle my seat belt.  Then I remembered every single article I have ever come across about airlines who kick people off the plane for being too fat.  Then I remembered that maybe I would miss my kids and I shouldn’t go after all.

I belonged to a gym, joined in some arbitrary moment of “I can do this!” but at that point my workouts consisted of the 5 minutes I could stand on the elliptical or treadmill and then 30 minutes on the sit down bike.  Throw in a couple of easy strength exercises on the machines, and I thought I was actually accomplishing something.  The fear of getting on the plane and being embarrassed in front of people I had to work with motivated me to do something I had never done before…buy a scale.

After searching for what seemed like hours at a K-mart next to the gym, I finally found one.  I raced home, carried it up to the bathroom, and after ripping off every ounce of clothing and all hair accessories that could add weigh, I gingerly stepped on the scale.

331.

No, that is not a typo.  That was the actual number.  And while I didn’t want it to be true, I knew it was.  I sat down on the bathroom floor and cried for about 10 minutes.  How had it gotten this bad?  How had I let myself get this far gone?  Once I got control of myself, I got up, got dressed, and came up with a plan.  That summer I worked my butt off and in two months (right before my flight) I had lost 20 pounds.  I know that’s not a lot, but to me it was everything.  It represented that I could actually do this.

Long story short, they didn’t kick me off the plane, though I did need a seat belt extender.  But the heart wrenching fear I felt as I approached that first plane was probably the worst in my life. I didn’t sleep for nearly a week.  I vowed that I would continue working out when I got home and would get myself to a healthy place.

And I did.  For awhile. Until once again, life got in the way.  That fall I worked out here and there, but nothing significant.  Between two kids under 3, teaching kindergarten, and trying to be a good wife and mother, I never seemed to find time for the gym.  Finally in January, after realizing I had gained back 12 pounds (bringing me back up to 321) a friend and I decided to sign up for the Y-fit challenge (the YMCA’s version of the biggest loser).  And through that I fell in love with working out.  I lost about 35 pounds, completed my first 5-K and began to gain back some of the confidence I so desperately needed.

And then, as most stories go, my world turned upside down.  During the summer (on my last day of school) my dad died.  We had a rather tumultuous relationship (see posts from then) and I didn’t think it would really affect me.  But it did.  In ways that I will never quite understand.  And the gym took a back burner yet again.  Luckily, I only gained about 5 pounds, but by the time school started again, I was a jumbled wreck.  I didn’t know what was up or down or right or wrong.  All I knew was that I needed something to change.  I needed to be saved.

So I went for a run.  And really, that is the true beginning of my story.  Because on that day I was reborn.  I learned that I can decide how my life is going to go.  I am in charge of myself, my decisions, and my happiness.  I can decide to begin to heal, and grow, and change for the better.  And I did. Or, at the very least I’m in the process.

Over the months I ran occasionally, went to the gym, got injured, and then began again and again.  In January, on the eve of my 33 birthday, I hit my 50 pound mark (60 if you count from my pre-plane freak out weight).  And I’m still going.

I was looking back on old pictures today.  Pictures from pre-kids, pictures from post-kids, pictures from last year, last week, last month and I can’t believe the difference.  It’s not even just the weight, but the confidence, the happiness, the fact that there are more pictures now than there were before.  These are all indicators that maybe this time is the right time.  Maybe I’m finally exactly where I need to be.

And at 269 pounds I am currently running 15 miles a week and training for my first half marathon in the fall.  While I still have so far to go, I’ve never felt better.  I’m ready to begin this new chapter in my life.

I had to start and stop, begin and end, give up and keep going, numerous times to get to this point.

But if I can do it, so can anyone.  If I can do it, so can you.

2009-2013

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The last 10 months…

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I’m feeling it.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do you know what I love?

  • Running
  • My kids
  • My absolutely amazing friends
  • Super spicy food
  • Old school Project Runway
  • Salt and Vinegar potato chips
  • The color pink
  • Jeans
  • My crazy, curly hair
  • My house
  • The “greeness” of spring
  • Recycling
  • Men in suits
  • Glasses
  • Champagne
  • Scoop neck shirts
  • The scent of Vanilla
  • Cozy blankets
  • The kiddos in my class
  • Reading
  • Black and white photography
  • Twinkle lights
  • Peonies and hydrangeas
  • My iPhone
  • Quotes
  • Feta
  • Hard wood floors
  • Trivial Pursuit

And so many other things.  Being happier seems to agree with me. I think I’ll keep going.

 

 

Breath in, breath out, let go.

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” ~Steve Maraboli

I haven’t posted in quite some time (almost 3 weeks!) and really, I have no good reason.  The truth is, I had a pretty sad few weeks in February.  I don’t know why, I never know why, it is what it is.  I barely ran at all…and when I did, it wasn’t good.  I couldn’t get in the mindset of it.  I couldn’t get past how tired my legs and feet were.  I couldn’t get past how slow I was going.  So in typical me fashion, I stopped.  And while my muscles may have felt better (I was still going to the gym), my mind didn’t.

Then Wednesday I woke up at 4:30 in the morning and couldn’t get back to sleep.  So, I figured, why not go for a run.  Even if I wound up walking it, it was still a form of exercise.  But as soon as I stepped foot outside and started running, the world seemed to drift away and all my problems and worries and anxieties went with it.  After two miles I still felt great so I finished up another half mile before heading home to get ready for work.  And it felt so good to be out of my head for that amount of time, just me and my music in the dark morning, that I got up the next morning and did 3 more.  And then did more on the treadmill on the gym the following morning.  And then did another 3 today.

While I know this is beating a dead horse (as I seem to state it every 5 minutes), I can’t believe how far I’ve come.  I remember a almost a year ago taking part in my first 5K and not believing that I was able to complete it at all just by walking.  Now, I’ve signed up for a half-marathon, a feat I never thought I would accomplish.  I remember week three of couch to 5K and feeling like I was going to die when I had to run for a 5 minute stretch.  And now I’ve run at least 3 miles multiple times.  I remember, in the beginning, after any run, I would pretty much be immobile for the rest of the day.  And just today, I ran 3 miles, then walked another 2 with the littles later on in the afternoon.

With every step I could feel myself letting go of the things that have been weighing me down.  I could feel my strength returning, knowing I was going to be able to handle the new challenges that would come my way.  I could feel my head clearing, seeing answers that have been in front me me all along.

That doesn’t mean, my world has dramatically changed. There are going to be bad days and bad weeks and maybe even bad months.  My problems aren’t going to go away.  My stresses will probably be multiplied over time.  But I need to remember the feeling I am having this week.  The feeling that I can accomplish things.  The feeling that I can get out of my head and leave my worries behind, at least for a little while.  The feeling that I am the one who decides which way my life should go by the choices that I make.

Because every moment is filled with these choices.  Run or don’t run, move on or stay put, feel sad or feel happy, hold on or let go?

100 Mile Challenge Miles Completed: 46.7

Current Weekly Miles: 12

The Long Way Home

“You live but once, you might as well be amusing.” ~Coco Chanel

Do you ever get that feeling that you know you want to write but you have no idea what you are going to say?  That’s how I feel at this moment.  I feel like I’ve been writing this post in my head all week, but when I sit to write, nothing is actually coming out.

My workout schedule is going well and I have managed to follow it for two weeks.  Now that I’m running more and going to the gym less I know I need to work more on my stretching and strength training.  I neglected it this week, and after my run today I can definitely feel it.

I started talking up the fact that I signed up for the Baltimore Half Marathon to some friends at work and a lot of people seem really interested.  A few have even signed up already.  It really shows me how much I have grown during my running and since the summer.

6 months ago, if someone had said something about going running with me or running a race with me I would have laughed and tried to figure out some way to get out of it.  I would have been too embarrassed about my size, my ability, and my speed to even contemplate running near someone I know.  Even today when I decided to run this afternoon instead of tomorrow (too busy, more snow) I ran in broad daylight in my tight running pants singing along (rather softly) to my music.  I was super slow with all the snow and ice, I wore an old ratty t-shirt, and sweat was dripping down my face and I just didn’t care.

And the fact is, why should I?  I’m doing this for me, not for anyone else.  Sure, the more the merrier.  I love when I hear that I have motivated someone to run or workout, and I am still desperately searching for a (non-speedy) running buddy, but that’s not why I am doing what I do.  I have no problem being friend or a motivator or a cheerleader for anyone who needs it.  I don’t know what I would have done without mine.  But the days are gone where I always need someone to hold my hand and go with me as I jumped into the unknown abyss.  I no longer feel the need for the outside reassurance that I so constantly craved.

I stepped on the scale today for the first time since I hit my 50 pound mark.  And guess what.  I’m still at the 50 pound mark.  This would have bothered me before, but not now.  I know my clothes are getting looser, even the next size down for some of my items is too big.  The number on the scale doesn’t define me like it once did.  While it took me a long time to figure it out, that’s not what this running journey is about anyway.

Every day I remember why I started running in the first place.  August, and the summer in general, had been tough and one day I had had enough.  I was depressed, and moody, and couldn’t find joy in even the smallest things.  I didn’t want to feel like that anymore.  So I went for a run.  Or really, not even a run, as I couldn’t even run a quarter of a mile without stopping for a break.  And while I didn’t get serious about it until January, it quite literally saved my life, and continues to do so every time I venture out.  The first mile is always the hardest, but once I hit it, I feel like there is no stopping me.

I know I’m still super slow.  I know I don’t look like all the other runners out there.  And frankly, I just don’t care.  Months ago I would have.  Months ago I wouldn’t have even thought to run when other runners, “real runners” might be out there.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself.  But with the smiles and waves I got today as I trudged along through the snow and slush, I know no one is judging me except for me.

And right now, I’m feeling pretty fabulous.

100 Mile Challenge Miles Completed: 24

Weeks to the Baltimore Half Marathon: 35

Current Weekly Miles: 9

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