Friday, December 6, 2013

Keep Going, Keep Going, Keep Going...

The land of YouTube.  It is vast.  You can learn how to install bamboo flooring (thanks, John!), make a Rainbow Loom bracelet, tie a tie, or be inspired by some pretty awesome people.  There’s many a morning in the Van Vorst house that I show a video to Sydney and Elliot.  I like to "feed" them with good stuff while they are eating breakfast.  I am using this post to link you to some of my recent favorites.  If you have a day that you need a pick-me-up you MUST view any one (or all) of these.  

1. A Tiny Poem by Kid President:
This kid is beyond awesome!  His video messages are not only inspiring, but adorable.  He tells us things like "you can't be sad when you're holding a cupcake." And, "everthing is going to be ok." He gives us a lesson on 20 things we need to say more often.  If you don't watch the video, at least read the Tiny Poem.

“The world is so big and we’re all so small
sometimes it feels like we can’t do anything at all
but the world can be better
(in spite of its flaws)
the world can be better
and you’ll be the cause
and even though the waves are bigger than our boats…
the wind keeps us sailing
it’s love gives us hope.
Some days it’s dark,
but we’ll keep rowing
because people like you whisper
‘keep going, keep going, keep going.’”

2. Children and staff gather for an inspiring cover of "Roar" by Katy Perry at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock:

This is one of my favorite songs right now.  Who couldn't be inspired by kids in cancer treatment putting together something to make themselves (and the world) smile?  These kids are champions!!  I listen to this song while I run and I feel strong(er)!  This month marks my "anniversary" of making running part of my regular routine.  When I started a year ago I ran a mile in 12 minutes.  Now I am running a mile in under 9 minutes and I can run a full 5K without stopping to walk!  The more I run, the happier I am.  Not because it's easy or I am perfect.  I am FAR from it!  It's because with every mile I am proving to myself that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible. 

3. Sara Bareilles - Brave (Lyric Video):

This is one Sydney asks for over and over.  Occasionally she tears up while she watches it. True story.  If you watch the video you will see young girls empowering each other and being good friends to one another.  Is there anything more inspiring to a young girl than watching other girls empower each other?

4.  Take a Seat - Make a Friend?:

What happens when two strangers sit in a ball pit and talk about life's big questions?  Watch and see.  SoulPancake TOTALLY has it goin' on!  I subscribe to this channel.  It's amazing.  

5.  The Script - Hall of Fame Video:

I've heard this song a lot over the past year.  One night this week I was driving Elliot to indoor swim practice and this song came on.  I turned it up and told Elliot to listen.  His wheels were turning.  He's been looking up this video on his iPod constantly since that night. We talked about the meaning of the lyrics and he said "mommy that song makes me feel pumped up."  When we were in Ohio for Thanksgiving I heard 2 people ask him if he plays football (friends of friends that don't know us that well).  Elliot answered no and told them he has a cyst that keeps him from playing contact sports.  I was so proud of him for owning that and being brave about speaking about it.  He later told me "you know, I am OK with not playing football.  I mean I wish I could, but if I played football I probably wouldn't be swimming and I love swimming." Pass me a tissue...this kid is standing in the hall of fame.

So, as the song by The Script says “never gonna know if you never even try…” what will you try today?  Or, as Kid President asks, “what will you do to make the world more awesome?”  Be inspired.  Feed yourself with this good stuff because there is a lot of it.  I need it many days.  I’m grateful for the positive people in this world that put it out there, and make my world more awesome. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

10 Years Later...

This past week marked 10 years living in our home.  10 years.  Typically when these events arrive I’ll ask myself, “Where did the time go?”  Today, however, I’m amazed by what the past 10 years has placed in my life.   I’m asking myself, “How did all that fit into 10 years?”  10 years ago John and I moved in with 2 cats and barely enough belongings to fill the rooms.  Now our home is full with 2 kids and pets.   

We’ve experienced life’s greatest moments through the births of Elliot and Sydney.  We’ve felt the deepest sadness life can bring in saying good-bye to my in-laws.  This house is where my kids learned to walk. This street is where they learned to ride 2-wheeled bikes. This is our home.

I’m feeling nostalgic.  I’m also again reminded that life happens outside of what I have planned.   As I have written before, this geographical location isn’t what I envisioned for my life.  I’m learning though to yield to what life is providing to me instead of fighting it in an attempt to get what I think I need.  It’s in those moments of letting go, when I “live and let live” that I experience meaning and happiness.

Living here, in this house and in this neighborhood has given me beyond what I could dream up for myself.  I’ve met some awesome friends that have encouraged and inspired me, challenged me; they’ve helped me grow.  I’m learning to let them know me too. And, I can only hope I am encouraging them. 

This weekend I was invited to a girls’ night in.  We played Bunco and we laughed and we laughed.  All of us come from different backgrounds and grew up in various locations.  We are laced together in this neighborhood and share the common bond of motherhood.  For those few hours we socialized and shared life.  The evening unfolded just the way it was meant to be. It was wonderful. 

This morning I rewatched a video of Jimmy Valvano's 1993 ESPY Speech when he accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. He was nearing the end of his life due to cancer.  His speech is remarkable.  In it he talks about 3 things we should all do every day of our lives.

  • Laugh: we should laugh

  • Think: spend some time in thought

  • Cry: have emotions move to tears (could be happiness)

You can watch the video yourself to hear why these 3 things are important.  I promise you will be inspired.  

It is my hope that in the next 10 years I’ll be able to look back and be proud of the person I grow into.  For me life is a process.  I’ll never be finished growing and learning.  I don’t want to be finished.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  I just hope today I’m a little bit better than I was yesterday.  Imperfect progress. 

Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What If? What If? What If?

The topic of worry was the focus of one of my daily readings the other day.  It wasn’t so much about what we fret over, or what causes us anxiety, but rather what we can do to calm ourselves?  I can make a list of the things that run through my mind when I can’t sleep at 3 AM.  There are less important things like: remembering to return library books on time. Did I program the coffee pot correctly?  Will I get called to sub tomorrow? Beating myself up for not eating enough vegetables and loving chocolate too much.  And, there are also more pressing things like: hoping my kids are kind to others; wondering if I properly answered Elliot’s questions about heaven correctly.  Asking myself if I’m doing the right thing by not letting my kids share a room except on weekends? What if the small growth on my lung is getting bigger?  All these thoughts swirl through my mind.  If I allow the worry to gain strength, before I know it I am struggling to keep my head above the current of the thoughts. 

So this brings me to…what can I do about it?  Usually I start by asking myself "what if?"  What if I didn’t turn the coffee pot to “auto?”  What if I didn’t say just the right thing to Elliot when we asked me if Grandma Mary misses him even though she’s in heaven?  What if we don’t spend enough time studying math facts?  What if the library books are late?  Usually the answers to the questions help place the problem in a different perspective.  When the answer to the “what if?” isn’t so powerful; it’s a correlation to me that the worry isn’t such a worry.  For me, it can be as simple as asking “what if?”

Now, sometimes the answers to “what if?” are scary too.  Each new school year I have to fill out paperwork for Elliot.  Each year I have to explain to his new teacher about his cyst on his brain.  The cyst has its own set of “what if?” questions.  So far we’ve been so fortunate that the cyst hasn’t changed in size or caused him physical problems.  I cannot worry my life away over what may or may not happen to Elliot. 

In those first few weeks of learning about Elliot’s cyst (when he was 3) I would sit in his room while he slept and ask myself those scary questions.  My heart would race and hot tears would sting my eyes.  I felt really angry at God for what we were facing.  Through those angry prayers, tears, and then support of family and friends I’ve been able to let go of the worry.  This doesn't mean I don't feel concern.  It means (in general) it doesn't keep me up at night.  I am completely powerless over the situation.  I’m learning to place that worry in its true perspective.  When I do, I find it loses its power to dominate my thoughts and my life.  I can let go and let Elliot live the life he is meant to live. 

Worry is a challenge for me.  It will be something I will battle against again and again.  I’ll have to keep reeling in the thoughts and ask “what if?”  I’ll also have to ask for the courage to place the worry in its true perspective.  How grateful I am do have found one way to deal. 

Gratitude.  That’s another way.  Sometimes it’s a simple statement.  Other times (or when I’m struggling more) it’s an A-Z list. 

Today’s “B” is blog.  I’m grateful to have this blog to share my random thoughts.  “R” is for the readers. 

Thank you for reading.  xo

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Don't Let Go!

There I am showing off a very
70's towel I gave my dad as a gift
Do you consider yourself to be a happy person?  Is happiness something you feel often, or does it elude you?  Some friends and I were talking about happiness and I was surprised at the responses.  Some felt fearful of being happy; like once you "achieved happiness" it was then something you had to live up to, or an unobtainable level in the game of life.  Another shared that happiness is overrated and that happy people must be covering up for pain they really feel underneath.  Still another considered herself to be happy because she makes a choice to be happy.  When I began to share my own thoughts, a memory catapulted its way to the forefront of my mind.  Words spoke from me that I was not expecting to share.  I'm sharing it again here.

Growing up, we vacationed each summer on Lake Cumberland, Kentucky.  It's the most serene place I have been.  Lake Cumberland is 700 feet deep and boasts a beautiful wooded shoreline. The summer when I was 5 my dad taught me to water ski.  He purchased a pair of red youth-sized skis.  He worked on a system of small white ropes that held the skis parallel once the skier was wearing them.  I remember being in the water with him.  I was sitting in the water with my feet squished into the rubber boot part of the skis, the tips of the skis peaking out of the water.  My life vest was riding up from the push of the lake water and pushing against the bottom of my earlobes.  A long ski rope was tied to the back of our boat.  My dad, also in skis, put my hands around the handle of the ski rope and said "whatever you do, don't let go of the rope."  He put his hands over my hands to reinforce that letting go was not an option.  He then hollered to my mom to put the boat in gear.  The boat jerked forward with force pulling me and my skis with it.  It seemed like gallons of water hit me in the face.  I don't recall how many times we went through this before I actually was able to get up on the water, but it was within that first day of trying.  It was scary, but I remember it as victorious and I was happy.  How amazing because it wasn't even what I had set out to share, yet there it of my happiest memories and something that brings me back to happiness.

I don't consider myself a "happy person" by nature.  I will admit my baseline probably falls just shy of a half empty glass many days.  I'm hard on myself and I have to combat that each day (read about that here and also where I find joy by reading this).  Happiness to me isn't a destination, it's a means of travel.  I don't look at happiness as an achievement, but something to seek out.  Happiness is something I work toward.  I don't have to feel it every moment of every day.  I'm learning to look for things that create happiness within me.  It's small things like hot coffee in the morning, fluffy clouds in a summer sky, the sound of my kids laughing together, inside jokes that John and I share that make me laugh year after year, and ALL of the Kid President videos.  It's also bigger things like meaningful conversations with my Gram; marking off 13 years of marriage this year to the love of my life; witnessing the inner strength of my dad; and being a mom. 

What I've learned is that I cannot let go--much like that ski rope.  If I stop trying to seek out happiness chances are I'll stop finding it.  It's just like that verse from the book of Matthew, seek and you will find." I'm grateful for the flooding of that memory and the meaning it has taken in my heart.  Ten gallons of water in the face at 5 years old, was worth the happiness I felt once I was on top of the water.  Like Kid President says, "I want to be on the road that leads to awesome."

Where is your happiness?

 A link to Kid President:

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Check Mate

Elliot participated in an enrichment camp this week.  He chose a workshop called "Strategic Games with a Side of Chess."  He was eager to show me and John what he learned this week.  I played Elliot in my very first game of chess yesterday...I got housed by a 9 year old.  I learned chess is practice based and requires the ability to think ahead.   

The set we have is a beginner's set, complete with the "moves" each piece can make across the board.  Elliot began our game by explaining the "objective."  John gave Elliot the set for Christmas and the two of them have played a few times.  One of their games this week lasted for an hour.  I think it's fascinating to watch the two of them with their competing brain power.  Elliot keeps up well with John.  In the end, John prevailed.  Elliot wasn't happy.  As he sat on the floor in a slouchy mess leaning against the couch, I asked him what he would say to his best friend if he had just lost the game.  It took A LOT of prodding, but Elliot finally answered, "I would tell him nice try and good game."  I reminded him that he needs to speak to himself the way he would speak to his best friend.  

Why is this simple idea so difficult? Why are we so hard on ourselves?  I am guilty of this, becoming my own worst critic.  I can fabricate all kinds of reasons in my own mind why I am not going to be successful at a task at hand.  There may be a tiny grain of truth to some of the thoughts I have, but to entertain them or even believe them (gasp!) would be terrible.  A better approach would be to take the tiny truth grain and allow it to motivate me.  Or, even better is to say to myself what I would say to my best friend.  Words of encouragement, bigger words of truth.  

I've been doing this as I continue my running this summer.  I have been attempting to run an 8 minute mile.  It's no easy feat in our neighborhood.  It's hilly and it's been a humid summer.  Almost each time I complete a mile, my iPhone app speaks a time that is more than 8 minutes.  I slow a bit to catch my breath and defeat attempts to leak in.  I keep reminding myself that when I started this in mid-December I couldn't break a 10 minute mile.  "You've made progress," I tell myself.  This week my app spoke 8:04.  I was too winded to raise my arms in triumph like Rocky did after he climbed the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but I tasted victory.  I CAN do this!  

As I am writing this Elliot and John are back at it again.  Elliot again was defeated.  I just heard Sydney say, "the more you play, the better you'll get."  It is my hope and prayer that she speaks that way not only to Elliot (who is her best friend) but also to herself.  What can we say to ourselves today that we would say to our best friend?

Thank you for reading.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Teacher, Teacher!

Today marks the end of my 6 week long-term substitute teaching assignment at Brock Road Elementary School.  I have been covering the PE classes there.  My heart is full and I am tired.  I suspect that is how many teachers feel at the end of the school year.

I've dreamed of being a teacher since I was in 4th grade.  My very own Gram was an elementary school teacher.  I loved visiting her classroom.  I remember going to school with her for a day as her student.  She was a firm but fair teacher; she was patient and kind.  She made learning fun and has always stressed the importance of education.

I didn't believe I could be a good teacher to elementary school-aged kids, so in college, I studied to be a high school Spanish teacher (inspired by Vicki Speakman for that).  Life took me to Virginia and I didn't complete the needed requirements for my licensure.  I explored other employment avenues until this year.

This school year I was hired as a substitute teacher.  I chose Brock Road because it's where my own kids attend.  They ride with me to and home from school.  We get to eat lunch together sometimes.  I've had the opportunity to cover many classrooms at Brock Road on short assignments.  But, more recently I was offered an assignment to cover PE for 6 weeks.  This means I have taught each class in the school from Kindergarten to 5th grade.  This means I teach 300 students each day.  This means I have been working full-time and still a full-time mom.  Now I'm a Supermom---JUST KIDDING!

Teaching Kindergartners is a bit like herding cats.  They go in every direction.  As soon as I think I have them under control, one of them is upset or running away.  If I turn my back to run after one, 5 more are going in 5 different directions. And, they can run FAST!

Fifth graders are my favorite.  Most love to be helpful by setting up or putting away equipment.  Some of them are taller than me, especially the boys.  They have a good sense of humor.  They are growing independence, but if they get injured they still need that mom-like quality of me to ask "are you ok?" or give them a hug.

I've had both Elliot and Sydney as students.  Elliot is very competitive and follows rules closely.  Sydney is a fast runner and is less likely to try new things.  Sometimes Sydney misses directions because she's whispering to one of her classmates.  Both have been happy to have me as their "teacher."  I feel very fortunate to have been able to be part of their school days.

A perk of the job has been that I now know every kid K-5 in our neighborhood.  When I go for a run along the neighborhood streets kids yell "Hi, Mrs. V" as I pass by.  The ones who don't remember my name yell "Hey, PE teacher!"  I've been recognized at the grocery store and stopped at the mall.  They get excited to see me outside of school.  Kids are so funny.

I've played a lot of dodge ball in the past 6 weeks.  I've tied A LOT of shoes.  I've spoken more words in the past 6 weeks than I probably have in the past 6 months prior to this.  It's been very rewarding though.  I was wrong about my abilities...I can be a good teacher to elementary school-aged kids. :) My Gram was amazing.  Four other women in my family were also teachers.  It's in my blood I guess.

Teachers don't teach for the money.  Teachers teach because kids are amazing.  Teachers teach because they want to make a difference.  Teachers teach because there are few things that compare to the way kids wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Christa McAuliffe said, "I teach, I touch the future."  It's been my favorite quote I have read about teaching.    

I am going to look forward to more teaching adventures next school year.  But...first I am going to enjoy summer vacation. 

Happy summer!  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Help, Thanks, Wow

Thank you
I noticed this morning that I have not posted to the blog since January 30th!  Substitute teaching has really been keeping me busy!  I’m so grateful for the opportunity.  Add the kids’ activities and John’s work schedule and we have full days!  The treadmill and I continue to see each other often.   I marked my first 8 minute mile last week.  This is a big deal to me.  Slowly but surely I’m getting stronger.  Progress, not perfection I keep telling myself.  (thank you)

The weather is becoming warmer and the days are finally getting longer, thanks to daylight savings.  Elliot’s birthday seems to mark that winter is drawing to a close.  His birthday is February 20th.  He turned 9 this year.  NINE!  I know I blogged last year about how quickly the past 8 years has gone, writing about how 8 Is Enough (click to read)!  Elliot has grown up so much in this past year though.  I can’t physically run fast enough to keep up with the pace of life.  (wow)

Elliot can work out with us at the gym now.  He gets to choose if he wants to be in the Kids Zone and participate in the activities there or be out on the “floor.”  He’s mostly chosen to stand tall and tell the attendant, “I’m 9 now.  We are just dropping off my sister.”  Sydney isn’t as excited about this new chapter.  I guess for her life isn’t moving as fast as she’d like.  (help)

I’ve been thinking lately how raising kids seems to be broken into segments (or maybe that’s just my way of looking at it to keep partial sanity).  We prepare for the baby phase with gear and reading up on “what to expect.”  Then the toddler years arrive and it’s another blur of trying to keep them safe from physical harm as they become little explorers, into everything.  I transitioned easily from that phase into preschool years, which were quickly followed by Kindergarten.  There were so many “firsts.”  It was all I could do to mark them down.  (help and wow)

Now though we are in this whole new phase.  More firsts have found their way into the baby books.  Sydney lost her first tooth on Elliot’s 9th birthday.  Elliot finished up his first season of Upwards Basketball at our church.  Sydney goes to her first sleepover party this weekend.  Elliot has a favorite band now (under John’s influence it’s AC/DC).  Both kids are reading independently before bedtime.  This segment has a lot of firsts that they conquer independently.  Independence has arrived.  (WOW)

Upwards Basketball at Fredericksburg UMC

When Elliot was in that toddler phase I can remember telling John I just wanted to be able to shut the bathroom door and be alone.  I didn’t want small people barging in.  It was rare not to see a face staring at me from the other side of the shower curtain.  In this current segment, I have that peace.  The funny thing is, now I find myself wishing that the kids wanted that same peace for themselves.  John and I remind them to shut the door—they don’t seem to need much privacy.  I know the day will be here before I know it…they will be behind locked doors; keeping us out, searching for privacy.  (help)

When Elliot was a baby I remember John saying, “Never in my life has there been a time when the days seemed so long but time moved so fast.”  The days of sleep deprivation are long.  I gained an appreciation of just how many hours are in a sleepless night.  Daytime hours were lived with effort.  I pushed my tired body through life's molasses only to do it again the next day and the next day.  (help)

1st tooth gone!
But, then…all of a sudden, the kids change.  The days don’t feel so long anymore, even the nights have picked up speed.  We rush, rush, rush and holler “shut the door please” and “did you wash your hands?”  (thank you)

I pray mom prayers a lot.  Those are the words in the parentheses at the end of each paragraph.  3 simple prayers…help, thanks, and wow.  My favorite writer, Anne Lamott, helps me to know these prayers.  So many moments I pray “thank you.”  Thank you for these kids and this crazy fast-paced life. And, when Elliot shows his preteen attitude or I am in the midst of “hair torture” as Syd refers to it, I pray “help.”  Help me keep my patience.  I think the help prayer will be used more and more as we approach adolescence.  And, many times I pray “wow” because so much of this is just that. 

"Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back." Anne Lamott from her book Help, Thanks, Wow.

I am so grateful.  Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Serenity Now

Syd in her zebra coat with her Pomeranians
Do you believe in foreshadowing?  I mean, do you believe that life will show us snapshots of what's to come years from now?  I recall a "seasoned" mother watching Elliot have a meltdown at Target when he was 2, telling me something like "get control of his temper tantrums now or you'll really have a lot to chew when he's 16."  I think about that comment sometimes even now.  Although, I have to say I didn't then, nor do I now, see it as very helpful advice.  What does that even mean anyway?  I mean, I couldn't really reason with an over-tired 2 year-old who didn't understand why we weren't going to buy 10 bags of Goldfish crackers (that actually was what the tantrum was about).  So, why on earth do I envision myself reasoning with a 16 year-old who will likely be over-tired and over-hormonal.  Nevertheless, I have had 2 mornings in a row with Sydney that have left me hoping this isn't foreshadowing of what's to come when she is 16. 

Her coming unglued usually involves me brushing her hair, to which she has adequately named "hair torture."  I don't really pride myself in being a mom who makes threats that I cannot deliver on, but I have to admit the statement "we could get it cut short" has crossed my lips.  Another source of contention is clothing.  Her style differs oh so much from my own.  She likes everything with glitter, sequence, animal prints, and tutu skirts.  My mom got her a gift card to Justice for Girls for Christmas.  When we went to spend it I felt like such a jerk...every other word out of my mouth must have been "no."  She finally settled on a cute sweater dress, a fluffy scarf, and two Pomeranian stuffed dogs.  She claims when she grows up she is having a Pomeranian as a pet.  John told her she has to move out first.  Ha!  But seriously, I have to wonder what’s in store for us 10 years from now.  I think I better buy stock in hair color because the grays are going to completely overtake me. 

John and I watched Seinfeld when it was on (heck, I still DVR it and we rewatch it).  There was an episode when George’s father, Frank, was trying to “keep his cool.”  He decided that instead of losing his temper, he was going to speak the statement “serenity now.”  The statement was supposed to deliver him from the frustration and give him peace.  A friend tells George that the "serenity now" tactic of stress relief is ineffective, it simply bottles up inside until you eventually go insane.  This is absolutely one of the funniest episodes of the show I have ever seen.  I’ve been saying the Serenity Prayer to myself over the past couple days when Sydney is stonewalling over hair, eating breakfast, and getting dressed.  This prayer does help me.  I like to think I’m not as crazy as Frank Costanza, but there are moments when I am down in the trenches of motherhood, feeling I am not coming out alive; or at least not without significant damage.

I have to decide if I really have a choice in these matters.  Ask myself, how important is it?  In the grand scheme of life does it really matter if she pairs a black sequence, silver starred tutu with an owl-patterned shirt?  Does it really matter that her earrings rarely match?  Does it matter that she wears glitter shoes to Elliot's basketball practice, then attempts to participate wearing them? Definitely not!  But, it does matter that she eats enough protein, remembers to bring home her homework, and doesn’t speak to me in a completely disrespectful tone.  Is this what my mom means when she advises me “Kristin, you have to pick your battles”??  These are those moments, when as parents ourselves, we finally see that our own parents weren’t so “wrong.” Mom, you did SO many things right!

I flipped the pages one of my favorite books on motherhood this morning.  I am packing it up to send to my sister, Emily.  She’s in the toddler war zone.  She’s in the mommy-stage that I was in that day 7 years ago in Target.  My nephew, AJ, has meltdowns over things she cannot simply smooth over.  She needs support, other moms, and comedic relief.  The book I am sending her offers just that.  But, at the end it had this perfect part that I could really relate to.  “The awareness that life goes in stages, and that’s not such a bad thing, is priceless.”  We moms (sorry dads) sacrifice so much when our kids are little.  We don’t even realize it until we start to come out of it.  I get normal amounts of sleep now (mostly).  My kids don’t run away from me (usually).  I don’t have to explain to a crying toddler why we can’t buy 10 bags of Goldfish (now it’s why Elliot can’t eat more than 3 slices of pizza at once, but at least he isn’t crying).   

I still need my own timeouts sometimes and I waver between moments of being a Pinterest Mom or a Real Mom.  At the end of the day though, or when I drop off the kids at school and the tense moments of 8 AM have passed, I can breathe deeply and know that this too shall pass--and again repeat the Serenity Prayer.  More recently I have taken off on a run to smooth myself over. Maybe running really is a sanity saver.

So here’s to moms, whatever stage you may find yourself in.  Serenity now, and not insanity later.  Do one thing today that your future self will thank you for.

Thanks for reading.

Sweet Elliot meltdown free

My favorite prayer

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thoughts from the Treadmill?

I first heard this slogan, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet” from my healthy husband, John.  Now it rings in my head as I attempt to become a runner.  I’ve been running about 5 times a week now.  I am going to admit something about running.  I don’t like it.  It is such a struggle for me.  I make strange facial expressions while I run.  I sweat.  A lot.  My face turns red.  I listen to very loud music.  And, I think too much.

I have this incredibly annoying habit of over analyzing EVERYTHING.  My brain seriously over processes just about every thought that enters my mind.  A friend of mine calls this “introspective.”  Perhaps I think this way since my personality is much more extroverted.  I have no idea.  I’m sure I’ll think about it some more to come to a better conclusion.  What I do know is that my introspective thought patterns carry over while I am exercising.  I have asked other runners, “What do you think about when you run?”  Their response baffles me.  Do you know what it is?  It’s one word:  NOTHING.  I mean really!  How do you think of nothing?  When I am running I think about how much I don’t want to run.  I think of grocery lists and appointments I need to make.  I keep looking at the time and distance on the treadmill’s monitor.  The little red digital numbers blink at me as if they are taunting me.  I check my heart rate monitor more often than necessary.  Minutes have to last longer when I am moving at 6.5 mph—they have to. 

I watch other gym members as they run, seemingly effortlessly, at higher rates of speed.  Their backsides don’t move as much as mine does.  And, as I do this I begin to have a conversation with myself that tells me to just pay attention to what I am doing, stop comparing myself to other people, get through the next 30 minutes, and try to relax the muscles in my face so that I am not grimacing.  Sometimes I even pray—just small prayers.  I ask for the strength to get through; to finish what I started.  What I have just described is only part of my thoughts.  Ugh…why do I do this again?

I do this because I want to be healthy.  I run because I love to feel strong.  I run because when it’s over I feel like I accomplished something good.  I run because I don’t want to gain back the 50 pounds I lost 3 years ago.  I run because I want to be a good example for my kids.  I run because I want John to know how much he influences me with his own healthy actions.  And, I run out of fear.  I have a small growth on one of my lungs that is being monitored.  When I run and I am winded, I think about that growth and I think that getting fresh oxygen into my body is a good way to fight whatever it is that is there.

I also do this because as John told me years ago, “you can’t out exercise a bad diet.”  I still track what I eat by writing it down at least 3 days a week.  When I track what goes into my mouth it’s more good stuff and less junk.  The running is just a piece of my own healthy “pie.”  Yes, I had to say pie because I need to create that visual in my mind.  I’m creating my own pie of experience, strength and hope.  My experience portion of the pie is pretty large.  The experience part is made up of foods I eat, and want to eat but avoid, my own life story, and lots of smaller ingredients.  But, as I continue to get healthier (in mind and body), my strength and hope portions of the pie will become more equal parts.  I think that sounds pretty cool and much more balanced. 

As we celebrate the start of 2013 I hope to see the surge at the gym continue.  I hope to see excitement carry on past January.  I hope to learn how to turn off my mind a little more with each turn on the treadmill. 

Happy New Year!  Here’s to healthy 2013.