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.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Moment With My Legs

I had this moment with my legs as I was getting dressed this morning. I slipped both feet into my shoes and kind of just started checking out my legs from the knees down. 

They've carried me around for nearly 40 years and on Saturday, I'm going to ask them to carry me for 26.2 consecutive miles.

They still don't look like runner's legs: I don't have that rock-hard calf muscle.  There isn't much jiggle on them anymore, which is good and to feel them, even when I'm not flexing, well ... they're tight as hell, especially the right one, which is why my right foot acts up.

I really can't believe this is about to happen.  On these two legs.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thankful

I am so excited about my life right now that I hardly know what to do.

Today, I need to meditate, run and work and I am so excited to be able to do all three that I don't know what to start first.  And even as I take time to write this little ramble, I'm feeling this emotion swelling in my chest and can feel tears start to form in my eyes: I feel so good about who I am and where I am and what I am right now.  It's overpowering.

I have this sensation - and it's been building since I hooked up with the blissful hOMe team again in February - that I'm about to feel awake again. That all of the loose ends of my life, well ... they aren't going to be tied up into one neat little bow, but I'm making connections. I'm starting to understand things with a perspective and clarity that I wasn't open to before.

I feel generous and calm.

I feel like 'balance' might be in my near future, if I allow it to be.

Marathon training + blissful hOMe + Jog-A-Thon + Russell Simmons + Leininkugel + Cheese (I may be able to explain this one later on) ... all overlap in the best possible way.

I am so thankful to be here and to have this. 




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dreams

Last night I had a dream that I showed up to the race and had forgotten everything.  I only had two of my four flasks, no Gatorade, and I left my golf ball and tape at home by the fireplace.

On the upside, the race ended in a gift shoppe, and I ran the full 26.2 miles in 30 minutes, 55 seconds.

When I was nearly full-term with Daughter, I started having really screwed up dreams, including one where I saw Jesus in the sun room of my neighbor's condo.  Our eyes met, he smiled at me and then gave me the thumbs up sign.

That is all.