Monday, September 24, 2012

Cosmos

I'm drinking a cosmo right now. I put too much cranberry juice in it. I think I need to go vodka it up a bit.


I almost never drink vodka anymore. I've been having a love affair with Stella Artois and most recently, with the case of New Glarus we picked up while in Wisconsin last week. 

But I didn't want to feel bloaty (as I typically feel with beer), so I made myself a cocktail. 

I used to drink 4 or 5 cosmos a night when I worked full time a few years ago. It's how I brought myself down from a difficult day. Funny thing is, I'm doing work with that company again. And here I sit, with a cosmo.

What is different between then and now is that I managed to not do any work over the weekend, even though there was work that could have been done and my computer was here in the 'south' office of our condo*.  I finally figured out that if I break for the weekend, that is, if I take a real break, where I don't respond to e-mails or try to get 'ahead' for the coming week, that I'm infinitely more productive and creative on Monday.

I'm 40, and I'm figuring this out now.

I'm not working 40, 45 or 55 hours a week now. That's good. But I do have work. And the other work. And the whole being-in-charge-of-two-kids-and-a-household deal.  

And I have this cosmo.

Next up, Hoarders and knitting. 

Also, the satisfaction that I've blogged for the first time in two months, and reached out to an old online friend, Midlife Rambler, which has weighed heavily on my mind for some time.

Maybe now that it is fall, I can hole up in the house with my computer and get back to blogging, with the occasional cosmo. 



* A recent purge/reorganization + rehab has given this household not one, but TWO functioning office spaces in our 2200 sf condo.  I chose to use the south office (front sunroom) today.

Photo credit:  Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

Monday, July 23, 2012

Focus on the Healing

I have a lot to get done today. I'm trying to take close to a two-week vacation one week from tomorrow and I have a LOT to accomplish today. 

And I can't focus.

It's tough to focus when you manage social media accounts for a few clients and you're seeing a shit-ton of 'insight' about gun laws, Penn State University, the NCAA and by and large, retribution.  Who deserves what. Who had it coming. Who should be punished. How it should be moving forward. 

It's really tough when you are a Penn State alum.

Honestly, I think everyone is completely off track, here. 

Our world is sick. And sad. And miserable. And the misery pours out in inexplicable violence on innocent people. I don't think the pills are working.

I guess we can busy ourselves with who did or didn't say certain things. Or who is or isn't going to jail for it. Or how we'll do the best we can with crisis management until someone else fucks up and the focus is elsewhere.

At the end of the day, I think it still comes down to lonely, unhappy, grieving people who act on impulses a lot of us can't fathom. 

It's not all about who has the right to carry a gun. Or about institutions not doing the right thing. Those are big fucking parts of it, for sure, but at the absolute root: a growing part of our society is lost. 

Snarky comments aren't going to fix it. 

I hope that anyone that reads this will think of ways to focus on the healing, instead. It doesn't mean sending a card to the survivors of the Colorado shooting. It doesn't mean burning your PSU shirts to support victims of molestation. 

I'd like anyone reading this to genuinely think about healing. 

Start with yourself. Let it go outward. 

Focus on the healing.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's Hot

Chicago is on some kind of hottest-weather-since-this-side-of-Hell week. It's 9:48 pm as I type, and 93 degrees F outside. We reached a high of 104F today, only 1 degree shy of the record temp set back in July 1934.  Tomorrow, it's expected to hit 103F.

I want to stab everything.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Merry Christmas, Hare Krishnas...

Husband and I ran an errand today without the kids. On our way back, and within just one mile from our home, we found ourselves behind a giant, slow-moving float: The Hare Krishnas were in our hood. 

The Hare Krishnas, as it turns out, are always in our hood. They have a temple a few blocks north and west of our place. We see them about once a year. I remember the day after we moved in ...12 years ago ... we heard the sound of tambourines coming from out front. We ran to our sun room and saw a small parade of 12 (or less) Hare Krishnas: Rogers Park diversity in full force within the first 24 hours of home ownership! 

For anyone following this blog, it seems like I may be on some sort of path: I'm searching. Or, I'm just getting old. Or, I'm getting old and starting to search for something. I don't know, but 6 months ago, two Kundalini yogi's called me up for some marketing work and nothing has been the same since. 

Actually, a lot of things have been exactly the same. But other things have been remarkably different. In short, I've chanted mantra and I read Russell Simmons' Super Rich. I treated my kids' liced-out heads with essential oils instead of chemicals. I started doing more shopping at Whole Foods. And amazingly enough, I still haven't taken a damn yoga class. 

Regardless, this kind of spirituality, chanting mantra and making personal changes, is stirring something up inside of me more than any kind of forced, organized religion (Catholicism) has. And because I want my kids to be less freaked out about stuff than I was at their age (more on this later), I called the kids immediately: "Get your shoes on and meet us out front in 3 minutes. The Hare Krishnas are having a parade. Bring the iPad."

They didn't know what was going on. By the time we got to the front, the kids were still inside. I called up and Little Guy answered: "Who in the heck celebrates Christmas in the middle of summer?"

"I said Hare Krishna, not Merry Christmas!" I yelled from the yard.

If you look closely, you'll see the rope in the middle.
Two confused kids and an iPad ended up downstairs and we high-tailed it up Sheridan Road to find the float. I was worried we had missed it. I would have not been worried about missing it had I realized that the float was moving from the slow, but steady force of at least 100 Hare Krishnas pulling a rope that was attached to the axle of the giant wagon: Slowest. Float. Ever.

What a spectacle! 

I don't even remember what traffic in the southbound lanes of Sheridan was doing ... it was either getting redirected or it was moving at an absolute snail's pace behind the float. Northbound traffic proceeded cautiously.  In the float, an amplified Hare Krishna was chanting mantra:

Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna
Hare Hare
Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare

Now, as much as you probably want to sing this to the tune of George' Harrison's "My Sweet Lord," that's not how it went.  Focus.

I haven't made any commitments to new practices yet. And until I came home and Googled it, I didn't know what this mantra meant. But I will tell you that after 15 minutes (to travel 2 whole blocks) of hanging with the mantra-chanting Hare Krishnas, I felt good. Happy. Not enlightened, because that's going to take some work on my part, but good.  They're throwing out good vibes and I'm picking them up. Is this what happens when WASP's sing Amazing Grace on Sunday morning? I don't know, Amazing Grace usually makes me cry.

Positive vibes of peace and love? Or just that I was self-indulgently patting myself on the back for literally grabbing my children and running to see the parade, where my parents would have grabbed me and run in the opposite direction. 

6-Year Old Me: Who are they?
Parent: A bunch of god-damn weirdos. Stay away from them or they might take you.

Evidently the Hare Krishnas have this festival in our park every year. I don't know if they do it on the same weekend (like, if this is a celebration connected to a holiday), but if they did this last year at this time, Rodd (my father) was in town.  Actually, we were in Wisconsin a year ago today for my first Olympic-distance triathlon with Rodd.  But I can't even tell you how much I giggled at the idea of Rodd being within touching distance of a bunch of 'god damned freaks in their weird little orange dresses singing about peace and shit. Get a god damn job and some pants.'

It made me wish that teleporting was possible. 

I can hear them chanting from my bedroom window as I'm writing this piece. I'd like to go over and chant with them. But even more, I'd like to take a nap since I've been awake since about 2:30 this morning. 

Chanting?
Napping?
Chanting?
NAPPING!

Clearly, my path is a little twisted. I'll get there, even if it takes so long.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Debulked

Poor Boyish.

Yesterday, for the first time in his life, he had to have his teeth professionally cleaned. And while he was anesthetized, the doctor 'debulked' the polyp in his ear.  

I imagine cleaning cat's teeth is kind of tricky. I can only guess that debulking an ear polyp is squishy and messy.

Poor Boy-o. 

A whole day affair, I picked him up from the vet's at 5 pm and brought him home. He refused to eat while he was there and was completely ravenous once in his own house.  As much as I doted on him, he wanted nothing to do with me. 

Forgiveness came at 4:15 this morning, when we had a serious session of Cat-to-Mom lovin'. 

He's our Boy.

They shaved his little arm for the IV. Poodle arm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Favorite Things

I just hyper-clicked my way into a really divine blog: The Life and Times of a Yogi Mompreneur.  I'm no yogi, but I do consulting work with two amazing yogi's who have - without intentionally trying to 'fix' me -  brought new dialogue and understanding (and questions! lots of questions!) of sound, breath and movement (that's Yoga, folks!) to my life. 

For the past two months - after my yogi's gifted me with a copy of Russell Simmons' Super Rich, I've been so aware of my gifts and my blessings. The reactive, knee-jerktivity that has defined me for the first 39 years of my life has found a quiet place to hang out until I can process my experience and respond in a way that still honors my feelings without being a caustic, snarky bitch. 

I think we're all in agreement that that is a good thing.

So, if you've clicked on the link above, you'll see that this wonderful, yogi mompreneur has taken time to list some of her favorite things. I'm going to do the same. 

Join me?

1.  My gift: writing and marketing.  The ideas I've had for a variety of clients in the past few weeks have rocked my own face off. I love that I can offer my clients creative, energetic and {clears throat} fucking awesome ideas and that they like them enough to give me some money in return.

2. My kids incredible sense of humor and how when they laugh -- it's a 200%, full-body, no-holds barred laughter. Even if I'm in a funk, those giggly kids can put a smile on my face.

3.  Husband. Because.

4.  Gardening. It's new to me but I am at peace in the yard. Getting stuff to grow out of dirt is wildly rewarding.

Sleepy Boy.
5.  Boyish. Senor Pussypants. Sister Mary Fat Pants. McBoy. Fatmandu. Raoul the Cat. Rolling over in the middle of the night to find him wedged between me and Husband.  Love it even more when he opens his eyes and kisses my nose.

6.  A mug of coffee in bed while watching the morning news. I'm not a caffeine junkie -- I only need one cup a day -- but if I can get it while I'm in bed and watching the news, things are good.

7.  Not feeling guilty about putting "my gift" as my #1 thing, even above my kids and Husband. 

8.  Training. Triathlon training. Marathon training. I do love the process, even though it leaves me exhausted and I seem to need to take breaks before getting back at it. I love the purpose. I love the camaraderie. I love the shoes.

Not our backyard. But close enough.
9.  Stolen, quiet (kids are upstairs watching TV) moments with my husband in the backyard: feet up on the table and nursing a cold bottle of beer.

10.  Knowing when to stop working for the day. Knowing when to start playing.

That's 10. I may come back periodically and add more because there are a lot more things that make me smile.

What made your Top 10???



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bhavana's Responsibility

After today's "Race Against Hate" 10k (Husband ran it, not me. I provided enthusiastic cheers.) we stopped at the local Jewel to pick up a few things for Father's Day breakfast, including a $10 bottle of champagne for mimosas.

When we got in line, I accidentally took my Jewel card and ran it thru the debit/credit scanner.  The cashier, an Indian woman in her mid-50s named Bhavana, looked at me like I had three heads. I apologized. Husband, attempting to help navigate the technology that had clearly already gotten the best of me, got out his debit card and said, "I'll do this."

Bhavana stopped. She let out a sigh to show she was annoyed. Then she looked at both of us and angrily said, "which one of you is buying the alcohol?".

"Me. It's me. I'll do it," I said. 


Husband quickly - and with some shame - stashed his debit card back in his wallet.

Bhavana did not like us.

Within seconds, she asked for my ID. Because I knew she hated me, I was all thumbs and managed to pull out three YMCA I.D.s (I carry my kids Y IDs in my wallet) and my Voter's Registration Card before I could get the driver's license out.

Bhavana waited.

Once I handed her the card, I thought maybe she was having a hard time finding the year I was born, because she was looking at it for what seemed like a long time. But she kept looking. 

And looking.

And still looking some more. 

For a second, I thought she was trying to commit something to memory - possibly my address - so she could leave a steamin' pile of poo on my doorstep for inconveniencing her so much with this 5 item order.

Bhavana looked up from her meditative trance with my ID and said, "Please remove your glasses."

I lifted my sunglasses up above my nose as she glanced at me and then back to the ID. "I'm 40," I said with a laugh.

Bhavana stopped, looked me straight in my once again sunglass-covered eyes and coldly said, "This is my responsibility, ma'am."

Bhavana wasn't fucking around.

The trio in line behind me - the ones with 6 bottles of Pinot Grigio - completely lost their shit when they heard her shut my ass down. Husband, who had started to silently sidestep his way to the end of the register so he could bag our groceries and not further inconvenience Bhavana, was also smirking and I was guessing he was on the brink of a solid case of church giggles.

To join anyone in laughter would be my death.

I managed to get out of the store, champagne in hand, unscathed. But I'll be honest, it wouldn't have surprised me if Jewel had authorized Bhavana to perform cavity searches on problematic, trouble-making customers like myself. 

And if she would have snapped a latex glove on her hand and told me to bend over, we would have had a serious problem on our hands: I really wanted a mimosa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Forty

I turned 40 yesterday. 

Husband and I celebrated a few days prior - it was lovely. We hit three different spots for pre dinner drinks, dinner and dessert and in between dinner and dessert, we got partially undressed and took a dip in the pitch black waters of Lake Michigan.  

We crazy like that.

Yesterday, was much more pragmatic, but still really lovely. After I dropped the kids to school, I met with a colleague to rough out a budget for a new client. Then I went to the dentist. 

I'm sure that sounds like a perfectly awful way to spend your 40th birthday: working on a budget and then getting in the dentist's chair. Truth be told, I like the colleague and I like the process, so the work didn't bug me. And while the dentist wasn't planned, it all worked out.

Daughter's Poem.
The rest of the day was spent not working and allowing my family to do shit for me. They grilled dinner, which we ate in the yard and they gave me presents: The Hidden Messages in Water, by Masaru Emoto and Bossypants, by Tina Fey.  Each kid made me a card that was heavy with glitter. My daughter wrote me a poem that brought me to a teary silence. In between courses and presents, I moved laundry from the washer to the dryer.

I fell asleep by 9 pm and woke up at 5:45 this morning to go to Day 1 of a two-day ideation gig.

Our 1st tomato.  I ate it.
It felt great to give myself the night off and to be very in the moment with my family, in our yard where we've worked every weekend for the past 4 or 5 weeks. 

I'm awfully lucky to be where I am, surrounded by more uplifting people than lower frequency/higher toxicity ones.  

Forty is just fine.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Signs

I treated myself to a mani/pedi last week. I think the last time I had one was last summer and I remember it mostly because the hand massage was sublime: I almost slipped out of my chair.

It had taken a good month before I felt my running feet were in okay enough condition to present to the poor woman that got stuck dealing with them.  On June 6, 2012,  exactly one month and one day after my first marathon, I went to the salon to get my nails did.

It was nice. A real luxury. The woman working on my feet didn't say a single word to me -- she just let me stare vacuously into an Us Magazine. In between feet and hands, I asked to use the bathroom.  

I saw this when I turned on the light (despite the sign, someone had turned the light off before I got into the bathroom):  


I saw this gem hovering on a shelf about 3 inches above my head while I was sitting on the throne:


And since all good things come in threes, I was reminded to turn off the faucet ALL  THE WAY before I left the 3 foot x 5 foot bathroom to finish up my partial day of beauty:

Does that seem like a shit-ton of signs for one, single-occupant restroom? The only things missing were signs to explain how to wipe properly (front to back!) and how to make the most out of washing my hands.

I'm pretty sure I turned off the lights after I left the bathroom anyway. Too much information for one 3-minute pee.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Now I'm Starting to Miss Running

On Friday, after a deliriously great meeting with a new client, I offered to pick Husband up from school.  I was bouncing off the walls and it was his last day before summer break -- it seemed like a good idea to pick him up instead of waiting for him to take the train home.

I took Sheridan Road north to get him. Sheridan Road is where I did all of my training runs for my marathon.

I can't go back to a normal, white shoe.
And then it hit me quite suddenly: Shit. I miss running. 

Truth be told, after the marathon was over,  I was wiped out. Not just from the 26.2 miles of continuous moving, but from the 18+ weeks of training: that was exhausting. And just as I was crossing the finish line, new opportunities to work started to present themselves. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that I was happy to skip a workout in lieu of working on a marketing plan. 

But on Friday, it hit me. And once Husband was in the car, and after we had gotten a soft-serve cone from DQ, we talked a bit about everything that has happened in the past few weeks. Husband is very supportive of my work -- even if I'm preoccupied with something for a client, I'm preoccupied with a smile on my face: He can see how happy working makes me. 

He advised me to not give up the things I love, which include running and blogging. He told me I need to schedule time to make them happen. 

I imagine he's right.

I haven't knit in awhile either. As far as relaxing hobbies go, I've been leaning on gardening and baking. In fact, I am woefully off course from my 2012 Goals post. I'm almost too freaked out to go back and see what I said I'd do. And must I backtrack now? I had no idea in late December that my career was going to get a major bump.  But it did. And here I am. 

At this point in time, I could walk out of my house and buy a pair of new running shoes without worrying about how much they cost. I can sign up for races without feeling guilty about spending $90 on an event.  Blogging is free and therapeutic. I can probably clear out a little bit of the noise if I blog before I work on a plan or an activity report.

I've gotta hit the pavement again.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Value

Any time I spend too much time thinking about a blog instead of just writing it, I kind of screw myself.

I've been sitting on this one for a full week. 

I've talked it out with my husband. I've written full 'graphs in my head while I was driving downtown or weeding a flower bed. 

And here I am. Stuck in bed after a night of birthday celebration (Pre-emptive celebration. My actual birthday is later this week) that included oysters on the half, a slab of slightly bloody red meat and copious amounts of wine, I've been pooping my brains out since about 2:30 am. Husband is out front watching Italia/Spain in the Euro Cup and I'm trying to feel like a human again in the room just adjacent to our bathroom. Strategic positioning, for sure.

I've got to write this.

Were I to judge the past week on a scale of 1 to 10 (one being not great, 10 being awesome), I'd say it was a 15. And a -3. It was, professionally speaking, one of the most bipolar weeks of my life. 

A 2-year client relationship ended on a really horrible note. I won't disclose the details (although they are pretty fucking hilarious) but I will say that I kept my cool and I maintained my professional integrity, despite being ambushed by absolutely hateful e-mails and voice mails. 

That same day, I learned that the 15-page marketing plan I had developed for my agency downtown, had gotten minimal edits. I had blocked Tuesday to spend time editing a document that had nothing more than some grammar-type tweaks. I submitted a 15-page plan for review and when it came back to me...it was still my plan. 

Understand that I had put close to 17 hours into this plan, and I labored over it's organization and creativity. The process was intense, but I enjoyed it: I stayed very true to my creative spirit while writing it. The fact that the results  -- that my employer thought it was fantastic -- made the fruits of my labor even juicier.

That evening, I secured a two-day ideation gig which has a very enjoyable paycheck attached to it. Can't tell you what it is for, but I'm going to have a swell time with it.

Two days later, I was with my 'main' client - the one I'm putting about 30 hours/month into - to have coffee and discuss my future with the company.  My client took time to let me know how valued I am (which I kind of already knew, as it isn't uncommon for this client to end business texts, e-mails or even FB posts with "We love you!!!") and to confirm that I was in for the long term.

Sign me up.  I'm in. You want more Triple T? I'll give you more Triple T.

And then the day after that, I met with the client who received the marketing plan that I had labored over. I can't name drop, but the actual client is married to a very iconic Chicago artist, and he was a part of the meeting.  Wife and husband were both blown away by the plan. The husband...the very iconic Chicago artist...may or may not have said something about seeing that my "creative blood poured onto the pages of this plan."

Insert record scratch here, Sybil.

Accused earlier in the week of not contributing and of being too expensive (never mind that it was a trade for services agreement, and I had invested 90+/- hours into the account and had NEVER issued a single invoice), I closed out the week with people that recognize my value. And by value, I mean, they don't see the value that is defined by an hourly rate.  They see value in my creativity. My strategy. My energy. My partnership. My big, fat, sticky brain.

They acknowledge my value and then they happily give me money.  They also offer me more work.  

It's that kind of value.

I closed out the week with tears -- the happy kind.  I have struggled for the past few years with my transition to a 'traditional' role as a stay-at-home mom, mostly because I wasn't making a financial contribution to our family. A year or two ago, I started giving it away for free (or for trade) because marketing was in my heart. It's my gift. And that might seem like a really lame way to explain a career that exists just to increase a company's bottom line, but in the past few weeks, I've realized that it is my gift.  No, it isn't finding the cure for cancer. It isn't writing the song that makes the whole world sing. It's not going to land me a book deal. But it's what I've got and when I'm in marketing mode - when I'm sharing my gift - I'm 100% in my light. 

I am 48 hours outside of my 40th birthday. And I feel like my possibilities are endless.  I know my value. I'm connected to my gift. And all of that is a pretty great way to end the first three decades of my life and to move into what looks to be the best decade of my life. 

Also, I may be done with oysters. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

An Olympic Medalist Walks Into A Franchised Sandwich Shop...

The log in screen for my Facebook account currently has a picture of Michael Phelps holding an avocado and a bag of Subway.

WTF is up with that?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Oops. The Time I Forgot I Had A Blog

Oh, bite me. Life got busy! 

If you're still reading, life got busy in a super good way. In the past week, I've taken on/managed work for three of my own clients (THREE!) and have taken on some consulting work with the firm I worked for 5 years ago. I really had to hustle last week to get everything done, but I did it and I managed to do it without any casualties. I think there were no casualties.

I also beat cancer yet again.*

Managing the work has been tricky, for sure, but I did it. And even better, I stepped away from all of it for the holiday weekend. I purchased my mulch and annuals, had a lovely night out with friends, gardened my ass off and had some time at the beach.

And I managed to get five loads of laundry washed/dryed and put away, too.

This week will be a good test of taking care of business while taking care of myself. Which means remembering to eat. Or baking something unnecessary. Or scheduling a hair cut for myself. 

I'll do my best.

I feel bad that I've not been blogging regularly. Hell, back in January I was checking in twice a day!  Maybe part of taking care of myself this week will be to post something in my own blog. 

I lack a segue. Here's my garden:

Spikes, Celosia, Creeping Jenny & Super Bells

The urns are flanked by Blue Salvia and Spirea. The Salvia is thriving.

Crazy squiggly grass. An impulse buy.


Impatiens in the barrel. Begonias in the pot. More work to be done around the terra cotta planter.


* I had a canker sore back near my molar. It was freaking me out. It lead to a Google search ... which lead to cancer ... which lead to an emergency dental appointment which lead to an x-ray and this statement: It's a canker sore.   I also had my teeth cleaned, which was nice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wellness

My mental and emotional wellness the past few weeks has been off the charts -- a combination (I think) of crossing the finish line of my first marathon and a surge in marketing consulting work.  I've been truly engaged in every marketing activity I've taken on and it's absolutely energizing. My brain is active again. And when I'm walking around the house thinking about message points or how to marry three bloggers stories into one post, I'm not fretting about the past or the future.  I'm in the moment. 

The nutty thing is that when I'm engaged in the work, and feeling super positive about what I'm contributing, more work comes up.  I've got my own group of active clients, a new client on the horizon, I've been getting print ad and ideation gigs and my former employer has asked me to help with some on-going consulting work. 

I've been putting it out there and summabitch! It's coming back to me!

The best part of this surge of work is that so far, I'm not letting it run me down. I'm being very realistic about how much I can handle and although the temptation to take it on by the truckload and enjoy the paycheck at the end is heavy, I'm managing my obligations.  

Financial nourishment, without life balance ... it's empty calories, really. 

The promise of financial nourishment came by the truckload last week. Husband was offered a second summer school gig for the first few weeks after the regular school year has ended. With this giant condo window replacement project lingering, having some extra bucks by mid-summer will be a good, good thing.

And since I've been all busy being in the moment with my marketing brain, I didn't really have time to worry about him NOT getting summer school hours. Things worked out without me worrying about them working out. Amazing.

They photograph pink, but they're really coral.
The energized calm I felt at the end of this week allowed me to do something I haven't done in awhile: I splurged.  I bought a ridiculous pair of heels that I didn't need, but buying them made me feel like I was on top of the world. And then I took the family out to a restaurant for tapas. Husband and I enjoyed the pitcher of sangria almost as much as we enjoyed watching Daughter eat snails for the first time (she loved them! Little Guy ... not so much!).  

I have a few weeks before I'm actually 40, but if this is the precursor to the next decade of my life: bring it!


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Week in Review

On Mother's Day, the four of us went outside and got down to business: Gardening Business.

It was the best. And every day since then, we've sat outside for a period of time -- either in the front yard or the back yard -- to just enjoy the sun.

I blogged about it ... but not here.  

I blogged about it here --> My Sacred Outside Space.  

After a glorious Mother's Day, I've had a full, but peaceful week. Lots of biz meetings and calls, writing and editing. I cleaned the living room (including the fireplace) and washed all of the Winter hats and mittens and scarves. I've used the Neti Pot successfully THREE times.  Rick Crapster is responding well to the thyroid and kidney medications and is acting like his old, McBoyish self. I baked Gooey Chocolate Cookies this morning while my kids were getting ready for school.

And the blood blister on my left foot from a few weeks back finally peeled off.

I've missed workouts and haven't picked up my knitting needles in forever.

But I feel balanced.

It's so weird.

Tomorrow, I get in my car and head downtown to have lunch with a former colleague, NATO be damned.  This could wipe out my balance, so I'm just going to enjoy it the rest of the evening.



Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lab Sex Plan

Third line from the top. What do you see?
Once backpacks had been emptied on Friday night, I started to go through the reams and reams of paper pulled from those backpacks, checking grades to see if any assignments needed to be reviewed at home and if not, throwing as much as possible into the recycling bin. 

Those grade-school aged kids make a shit-ton of paper.  They can't all be keepers.

Little Guy's science notebook was in the pile. He told me I needed to read it and then write a note to his teacher to indicate that I read it and to mention if I learned anything from it. 

If that doesn't make any sense to you, good. It made no sense to me either.  Am I the one getting graded on this based on what I learned from his notes?  Regardless, I lacked the bandwidth to figure this one out on Friday night so I took a shot at it on Saturday morning. 

Little Guy does not have the neatest handwriting skills in his class. And he attempts most of his spelling by sounding it out, so you really have to understand context to figure out what he is writing.  I got a few pages into the notebook and can honestly say that I hadn't learned anything. Clearly, my note to the teacher was going to be an exercise in Creative Writing.  And then I got to the page where my 8-year old mentions his lab sex plan.   See it there in the image above, third line from the top?

Well, now I've learned something. My 8-year old is hatching a plan to have sex in the lab.  That'll fuel a pretty creative note to the teacher, right?

I couldn't contain the laughter re Little Guy's lab sex plan, so I took the notebook back to the bathroom and shoved it into the shower to show Husband.

"What could that possibly mean?" he asked me.

I kept looking through the notebook and found this gem: "....accidental whorl.."  

Whore? Whole? Hole? Whirl?  I don't know, but whatever it was, it was by accident. It didn't become a whore or a hole or a whirl intentionally.

It's now Sunday. I have figured out that lab sex plan was probably supposed to be, "...labs, explain...". 

Accidental whore still has me scratchin' my head.









Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Post Where I Insult a 7-Year-Old

Two days ago, I stopped at the grocery store before picking my kids up at school. Although I didn't have more than 12 items on my shopping list, it's always easier and faster to handle that task without the kids.

With only two lanes open, I picked the lane with the young cashier in an attempt to avoid the 50-something under/over-medicated chatterbox that just drains my energy every time  I end up in his line.  Hint to the 50-something cashier: The not-so-funny joke you told me four years ago has not gotten funnier with time.

In line with the young dude, with about 3 items scanned, he asks me, "Are you on break?"

What? 

Ah, yes. Summer break. It always looks like this.
I didn't know what he meant by 'break,' So I told him I was just getting groceries before I picked my kids up from school. Nothing clever there: that was exactly what I was doing.

Then he said he just started his break two weeks ago, and I understood what he meant. He had started his summer break from college. He was in college and on break.   

O.M.G. ... did he think I was in college, too?

I'm writing this on May 12th ... exactly one month away from my 40th birthday.  It's been a long damn time since someone asked me if I was on 'break'.  While I don't think I necessarily look 40, I sure as hell don't think I look like I could be on 'break'.  Regardless, his bumbling compliment gave me a little ego boost and took my mind off the jackass that had exposed himself to me in the alley outside of my garage 20 minutes prior.

Next day, I end up on the school playground for pick-up wearing my favorite maxi dress.  It's nothing fancy -- light grey jersey knit fabric - but it's comfortable and perfect for the 80 degree weather we were having.  It was also perfect because I had another cattle call / casting opportunity immediately after school, so I had to be photo-ready when I collected the kids from the playground.  Since I typically show up at their school in either workout clothes or ripped jeans and a cat-fur covered Jack Daniels t-shirt, my dress (and hair and make-up) caused some confusion among the adults on the playground. 

I must be a real fucking troll when I'm not primped. 

Anyway, I got the kids, responded to a few comments about the fancy threads, did what I needed to do and three hours later, was enjoying Friday-night dinner with the family when Little Guy says this to me: "My friend, The Bosnian Girl, saw you in that dress today." 

"And?" I asked.

Then he told me. Little Guy told me what his friend said.

Bitch said I looked like a Grandma.

"She said WHAT?" I yelled at Little Guy. "She said WHAT?"

Michael Caine wants his look back, kid.
The day before I had a 19-year old boy practically ask me to hang out* with him in his parent's basement and today, I'm getting insulted by a 7-year old Bosnian in glasses that make her look like Michael Caine? That little tart has been checking me out every day since school started this year: she looks me up and down with those damn edgy glasses right before she says good-bye to Little Guy. I know she's the one that is sending home pictures of suns and hearts and flowers in Little Guy's backpack. I know she wants my sweet little baby to be her boyfriend. It'll never happen, tramp. He deserves a girl of swarthy Italian lineage who is blessed with perfect vision and has the good sense to not carry a Justin Beiber backpack. 

That Beiber backpack is so pedestrian. 

Husband attempted to calm the room (or, me, because I'm really the only one that is freaking out) by suggesting that Bosnia could be crawling with hot grandmas.  

What are the chances of that?

I'll be hanging on the monkey bars in these, kid.
I've got a full plate today, and tomorrow is Mother's Day. But in between laundry and cleaning the bathroom and marketing, you can rest assured that I'm planning out Monday's outfit. 

Do all the hot Bosnian grandma's wear 4.5" stilettos? 

It's doubtful.







 * 'Hang out' is code for 'screw'.  I'm not sure he wanted to screw.  I'm embellishing, a bit.



Stiletto Photo Credit: violetz_85 via photo pin cc

Beach Babes Photo Credit: Jacrews7 via photo pin cc





Sunday, May 6, 2012

In The Long Run: The First Marathon

Written on Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pre-Race (happy/not hurting)
First of all, I finished. I'm a marathoner.

Second of all, a whole bunch of shit happened on that field today.

Lastly ... grab a mug of coffee: the big mug.  I've got a lot on my mind.

It's hard to know where to start.   I had moments of borderline psychosis this morning both at home and on my way to Kenosha.  I had a good night of rest (really - I was out from 10 pm to 3 am, and actually woke up an hour before my alarm went off) and I pooped - twice - before we all packed into the car for the 60-minute drive.

My psychotic outbreaks centered on 'What if I can't finish?' and  'What if I have to walk?' My moments of serenity came from a text from my coach assuring me I was ready as well as my own realization that my terror was based on not knowing what was going to happen,  partnered with the realization that I don't know what is going to happen on ANY day of my life, and that hasn't yet kept me from getting out of bed each morning.

I felt calm and happy when we parked the car and walked to the race course with 3,000 other racers. I had trained in this weather - cold, windy and with a light drizzle.  All 2,999 of the other racers were going to get the same shitty weather I was getting. It was good. I felt like this wasn't the worst decision ever.

I had written the words "Let Go" on my left hand -- a reminder that I didn't actually have a timed goal (even though I TOTALLY had one of my own in my head): all I had to do was run 26.2 miles.  It wasn't crossing the finish line that was the big deal, it was the process of running 26.2 miles that I needed to embrace (ideally with a smile on my face).

In Super Rich, Russell Simmons advises the 'Business Yogi' to let go of the results and focus on the process.  Whether you are Arjuna - of Bhagavad Gita fame - and are charged with cutting off the heads of evil people (some of whom happen to be your cousins), or you're trying to claw your way up the corporate ladder - it is your job to get lost in your work, not the result (nor to worry about if you'll be forgiven for cutting off those heads or whether or not you'll make it to the corner office with the sweeping city views).

"Once we're released from the illusion that we're somehow defined by the results of our labor, then we become free to reach our greatest heights." (Russell Simmons, Super Rich).

So, I've got that with me, right?

I made friends with a first time half marathoner in my corral.  Her name was Heather and she had herpes (one of her friends wanted to borrow her Chapstick, so she admitted to having The Herp.  Her friend didn't care: she evidently had really chapped lips.).  I told her I was going to run 11 min miles for the first 6 miles. I left her within 4 minutes of the race.

Here's where the shit gets crazy.

At Mile 1, I met a woman in her late 50s.  There was some early race chit-chat among the group and we started talking. I told her this was my first marathon. She congratulated me and responded that this was her 98th marathon and her plan is to run 100 marathons before she turns 60. A race director of the Milwaukee Full Marathon, she plans to run her 100th in Milwaukee (I asked!), either a few days before or after the actual event. She'll invite her close friends to cheer her on.

I had to ask her: "How do you do it?"

"I have no time goals," she said bluntly. "I just run."

Wild, right?

Well, it was totally wild until I met the Japanese woman in her mid- to late-60s, not too long after the Half Marathoners made their split to the finish line and the Full Marathoners had to trudge onward.  Today was her 112th marathon. She has a goal in mind (I can't remember if it was 125 marathons?) to hit before she turned 70 (and that may have been 2 years, so she's got some racing ahead of her).

Then I met an 18-year old. This was her 17th marathon and she's running one tomorrow with her dad. She needs to hit 44 marathons (I think) by the time she is 23 (I think) to have the new world record of most marathons for that age group.  That was her goal.

And at mile 25, Larry Macon ran up behind a gaggle of us who were walking, laughing, grabbing at pulled hamstrings and tight calves and generally just talking to each other through the final stretch.  Larry is 67 years old and today was his 869th marathon (I need to confirm this ... it could have been 839th or 889th ... things were pretty dicey at Mile 25, but you can rest assured that he's run more than 800 marathons).

Larry flies to Rhode Island tonight to run another marathon tomorrow.

So, you've got to understand that from the time I met Mile 1 woman until I met Larry at Mile 25, I'm in my head. I'm in my head a lot.

There is no way that meeting those four runners today was an accident.  

As much as I understand "let go," you can't just write that shit on your hand and have it be so. I've been focused ... no ... dependent on results all of my life and I can't change that shit overnight because Russell Simmons said so.  But I get it.  And I want to live it.  And clearly, these people that are not zipping across the finish line are allowing themselves to enjoy the process of running. They've let go.

Yoga and meditation are going to become a major part of my life so that I can learn to let go.  Not as a means to be a better runner, but as a journey to be a better Triple T.  I have no desire to run 869 marathons. But if I run 10 more in my lifetime, I want to enjoy the process, not the result.

Anyway...I'm not running fast. And sometimes, I'm walking. And I was with an ongoing clump of people that were in the same situation as me. And when you're at Mile 18, deep in the woods of Kenosha, it's time to make friends.

I talked to so many people today.  And found that there were so many first-timers out there just like me. We all hurt. We all wondered why this seemed like such a good idea a few months ago.  We all laughed at this ridiculous predicament we had gotten ourselves into.

Back in the woods, after about the third person I spoke to, I realized that while I was running (or walking) I actually had something to offer people: levity.  Empathy. Passing companionship.  I offer a lot of people levity every single day: I say goofy shit, some of which is self-deprecating, and I make people laugh. It's almost like that could be my Dharma -- my life's purpose.

I'm not telling you my Dharma is to be a stand-up comedian.  But I do know that everything I approach in life, even my work, is done with levity and laughter.

I kind of felt like it was my job to smile and talk and make some jokes.  The business of running 26.2 miles is fucking hard work: let's try to have a little bit of fun, right?

So I ran and chatted and told new people about the other people I had met on the way and all of their amazing goals and their passion for running. And I told them that by and large, the time it took all of those amazing marathoners to cross the finish line wasn't important. What was important was crossing the finish line. Period.

When I was at Mile 21, I knew from my Garmin that I was way slower than my longest training run (21.1 miles in 3 hr 50 min) ... by a lot. I knew I had 5.2 miles left, but it seemed like it was going to be a really shitty 5.2.  And what I had to bring with me for those 5.2 miles was more Russell Simmons' sentiment, but this time, from the chapter of Super Rich called "It's Not A Race."

Clearly, this was a race. And throughout it, I was sometimes at peace with plopping along and sometimes disappointed with plopping along. I wasn't alone -- there were people ahead of me and even some still behind me. There is no way could I tell you that I was racing through Kenosha.

But here's the thing:  "It's Not A Race" (which is actually about reaching enlightenment) suggests that "instead of getting fixated over exactly when you're going to reach your new destination, it's more helpful to simply stay focused on always heading in the right direction...Remember, everyone's transforming takes place at its own pace"

You always remember your first.
So, between a bunch of Marathon Maniacs  who are running 2 and 3 marathons per weekend and Russell Simmons and the Bhagavad Gita, by the time I crossed that finish line, I learned so much about me, much like I learned new things about me once I committed to the training program that I started (what feels like) years ago (January).

1. Letting go will take work. And meditation.  I have everything to gain by enjoying the process.

2. Embracing my Dharma is fabulous: whether it is flexing my creative muscles with a client, planning a dinner party and putting my heart and soul into it or making people smile -- on and off the race course.

3. I'm going to do more marathons.  And maybe I'll do them better, just because I've got the first one under my belt.  But I don't think I'm going to talk myself into a timed goal. I can work on racing shorter distances, like 13.1's and 5k's: but quite possibly for marathon running, I'm going to learn to let go and just enjoy the run.

RUUUUNNNNNNNNNNN.

I am grateful that Midlife Rambler has been so supportive of my efforts. If I've learned anything in these past few weeks it's that no matter how fast (Midlife Rambler) or how slow (me) a runner is, we have the same spirit to carry us the distance. Midlife Rambler's dedication to running - and running fast - is an inspiration. And I've found that when I have a good run, he's among the top three people (right up there with Husband and Coach) with whom I want to share my news.  I hope that someday The Rambler and I find ourselves at the same starting line. He can finish before me and save me a beer ... :)  Click here to see how Midlife Rambler fared in his first marathon ... and what he's thinking regarding his second!

Random Marathon Highlights (or lowlights?!): 

I peed at Mile 7.  I was going to go in my shorts, but I can't run and pee at the same time: I have to sit.  It probably added 3 minutes to my time.

My Zyrtec-D wasn't helpful.  I had a nose/head full of ick for 26.2 miles and when I was talking to people, I was amplified from the inside. Forgetting to tuck tissues in my arm sleeve was not cool, and snot rockets usually just make a bad situation worse for me.

I don't think I've really captured how windy it was.  At points throughout the first half of the race (which is up along the lake), you couldn't hear your own footsteps because the wind was so strong.  When it would let up, suddenly you heard voices again -- it was weird.  It was windy.

The 18-year old, world record setting hopeful I ran with off and on couldn't believe I was almost 40. She thought I was in my 20s. I heart her for that.

I didn't turn on the music until about Mile 17: I really wanted to be tuned in to the run, not insulated from it by my jams.

I took a phone call from the vet about Boyish's blood work results somewhere around Mile 17 (I had JUST turned on the music). I responded, "Hey...I'm in the middle of a marathon...can I call you back?".  I heard her laugh before she said, "yes."  (I haven't called her back yet. I don't want to hear bad news today. Boyish will be 16 years old (that's 84 in people years).  I'll call on Monday.)

Oh, Wisconsin
The people who worked the aid stations and way-finding really liked that I was 'sponsored' by Jack Daniels (I wore my 'signature' JD b-ball cap).

Some folks were in full costume, cheering us on.  One was dressed as a"Hop" (the stuff to make beer). Hops look like upside-down asparagus.  When we ran past her, someone said, "Nice asparagus" and a muffled response came from inside the suit: "I'm a Hop!".  Now you know.

My husband and kids met me at Mile 21. I cried when I saw them. They ran a little bit with me.

I saw my Coach and two training buddies around the end of Mile 23.  They looked cold (they had finished the Half Marathon decades ago and had been waiting for me).  I looked right at them and said, "I do not really like this right now."  "Keep going. If you stop, it will hurt more and take longer," advised my Coach.  I tried.

Load-bearing hug.
At Mile 26, husband ran out to get me and he ran most of the way in with me. I picked my kids up at the corner, saw my client/friend (cliend? frient?  FRIENT!) who drove from Chicago to Kenosha just to support me and I crossed the finish line with Daughter and Little Guy by my side, husband behind me and Coach and training buddies there to congratulate me.

Funny, my problematic feet weren't awful today (I was aware of them, but I never had to stop to roll my feet on the golf ball). My left hamstring, however, is trying to eat my left ass cheek.  I have a new respect for anyone ... runners and non-runners ... who deal with hammie problems.

I have never felt physically worse in my life. Nor happier.

Let me explain how bad I felt: I felt better after giving birth than I did at the end of those 26.2 miles. Yes -- I said it. Pushing a human out of my lady-bits was easier than running 26.2 miles.

I finished in just under 5 hours and 51 seconds: a full 51 to 70 minutes slower than I thought I would finish.  I still wasn't in last place.

Another marathon? For sure. When? Not this fall! I do know that the next one will HAVE to be a full 26.2 course. Watching the 13.1 runners turn around to run their final mile, while I had to move on to another 13.1 miles was a little bit of a mindfuck.

An Ultra? Yes. March 2014.


The crew.  Husband is in fact, keeping me upright

I was relieved to see my socks weren't soaked in blood when I took off my shoes. I still have all 10 toenails.