Friday, January 10, 2020

Thoughts on 35

I turned 35 this past week.

If I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that number. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls directly after the holidays, and this holiday season I made sure all recipes I made included cream cheese frosting. My pants are still reminding me of this delicious decision. Or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually 26 in my own head. And, 35 isn’t 26.

Anyway, as a practice to guide my thoughts and energy, I jotted down a few lessons I’m still learning.

***

Hannah Gadsby said in her Netflix special, Nannette; “our stories hold our cure.”

A few years ago, I shared my story of getting burnt out and walking away from a job I once loved. This story helped other brave women come forward and admit the same. Sharing our stories is not only a powerful way to connect, it’s a crucial human function.

***

If you’re wandering around a tailgate looking for a beer and a brat, and you find a handsome man who has both; marry him. Life is tough. And, the kind of guy who can offer up a beer and a brat feels like a safe place to land when it all gets to be too much.

***

I learned recently about a method psychiatrists use to reprogram trauma in the brain called EMDR. I’m no medical professional but my layman’s explanation is as follows; while you visit traumatic events in your head, the psychiatrist has you hold something that buzzes. The item buzzes first in your right hand then in your left and back and forth. This action allows the traumatic event to move from your right (emotional) brain to your left (logical) brain. It allows you to process the trauma and move forward.

Someone once told me running doesn’t cure everything, and this new-found information regarding EMDR makes me stubbornly reply with; “not so fast!” 

I truly believe, with all my heart, while you watch your right foot and then your left foot pound the pavement on a long run while thinking through your pain, your mind reprograms that pain.

So, in fact, running may cure everything.

***

Sometimes self-care looks like a glass of wine and relaxing your mind and body. But it also looks like combining all your to-do lists. It looks like mind-dumping that shit on however many pieces of paper required and taking a hard look at it. It looks like delegating, crossing off the easy stuff, and deleting the stuff that isn’t yours to get done. Self-care sometimes looks like doing the work you don’t want to do.

***

A good song can change a mood. And a day.

***

Find your people. Keep those who feel like warmth close. Keep close those who have known you forever and are brave enough to call you on your shit. But, find the people who love the you, you’ve grown into, and challenge you to be the person you’re continually becoming.

***

Fear is contagious. But, so is kindness. Choose to spread the latter. Especially when it’s hard.

***

And, finally, the Harvard Business Review did a study on Collective IQ many years ago. The summary, in short, is when measuring a group’s collective IQ not many things raised it. There was little correlation, in fact, between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

Draw your own conclusions.

***

Scones also help. Especially the savory ones from Dash!

Cheers, my friends!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Lane Assist

I bought a Subaru Outback just over a year ago. With it, came this amazing feature “lane assist.” If you’re not familiar, this feature maps your lanes and gives you a gentle nudge if your vehicle veers out of said lanes. I'm not a girl who gets too excited about cars. In fact, I was was once on SR22 insurance due to too many accidents. However, I find this feature to be quite literally a life saver.

It’s also a reminder each day of my role as a parent.


I remember telling a co-worker just after Nora was born that I always thought parenting was about making our kids into the best versions of themselves. But, once Nora was born, I knew she was already her best self. As a baby, I could see it in her eyes. I knew, through her eyes, my job was to map the lanes for her, and gently nudge her each time she was veering out of the them.

But, my job has gotten so much harder these last few months. My dear Nora is driving on roads that are unfamiliar to both of us. Kindergarten is in full swing. For us, this means her brain is going faster than a Subaru can drive. The lanes she has grown accustomed to staying in are expanding. She is seeking more control. She is falling apart and wanting to put the pieces back together herself. For God’s sake, her teeth are falling out of her mouth! Ha!



So, each morning I look into those sweet eyes and remember that my job is the gentle nudge. The lane assist. It’s not to drive the car for her (no matter how tempting). And while lane assist doesn’t prevent accidents, it helps keep us aware of the boundaries.

In short, kindergarten is hard.

And we can do hard things.

Cheers, my friends!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

To the Woman Who Bought My Jogging Stroller...

I cried thinking about selling you this stroller. Tears of joy and a bit of sadness.

My husband and I struggled with infertility for two years before finally finding out we were expecting our daughter. In those two years, I dreamed about being the kind of mama who ran with my kiddos. I’d get stronger on those runs. Mentally and physically. I’d teach my daughter to love her body and all that it can accomplish.

I ran once with my daughter when she was eight months old. Days later, I found out I was pregnant again.



My son, who was born seventeen months after my daughter, brought with him more sleepless nights than I can count. I found solace on runs with him. I would run so he’d sleep. I’d run so I could release the tension I felt far too often with a baby and a toddler.

Today, my two little miracles are far too large to run with (and they may be faster than me). So, I pass this stroller to you! I hope you enjoy being “the mama who runs” as much I do.

Your miles with this stroller may be slower than the ones you had before it but I promise you they pass quickly.

Happy running, mama!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Mom, I'm mad at you!"

“Mom, I’m mad at you!”

I didn’t know these words could bring me so much comfort.

You see, I’m raising a boy.

A boy who instinctively wants to tackle. Who is drawn to motors, wheels, and super heroes in a way that feels unfamiliar to me.

And, I feel a responsibility that is also unfamiliar.


I feel responsible for creating an environment that makes it safe for him to explore his natural interests. And instincts. Because while his interests include a whole bunch of things that are classically masculine by our society’s standard - that is not him in his entirety. His instincts, they include being sad when a friend is not nice. And angry with big expressions when things don’t go his way. And kind in subtle and gentle ways. 

It feels important to embrace all these facets of his little soul at the impressionable age of three.

Because, our boys. I don't think they're okay.

While the roles of women have evolved {with a long journey still ahead}, the roles our boys play in our society have been slower to evolve. I believe my son can be his full self if we create an environment that is welcoming. And, somehow, this feels at the root of where we are as a country.

So, I’m trying hard to do my part.

To tell my son to share his feelings.


All of them.

The big ones that want to erupt as punches.

And the little ones that stop a friend in the hall to tell her she looks beautiful.

Even the ones that come out in the succinct phrase of; “Mom, I’m mad at you!”

I simply thank him for telling me.

Reassuring him that we all get mad.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Mistakes

I think we were finishing up brushing her teeth. A long day behind us, I’m sure. Both of us tired with a million things running through our heads, I assume.

She turned to me, and with no warning said;

“Mom, sometimes I make mistakes. Then, I think about those mistakes later, and I feel weird all over my body.”

I hugged her!

Hard.

Then, I dropped to her level, looked straight in her eyes, and with the utmost sincerity said; “me too, my girl!”

Photo by Studio K Squared
We proceeded to talk about those mistakes. We talked about how they make us better. And, how we really can’t learn without them. And, we talked about how hard they are, and how weird they make us feel.

This is a big one for my girl. For me.

Because I’m not really at peace with my daily mistakes either. In fact, if I’m being honest, I immediately wondered what mistake I’d made that would lead to her putting so much pressure on herself.

So, I asked her to report back to me about her mistakes the next day.

She returned home from school proud to report back to me about the mistakes she made. We high-fived and celebrated the fact that mistakes are gifts - lessons tied with a messy bow.

The gift she has given me is the time to reflect on my own mistakes and truly learn from them. How grateful I am for her profound bravery to put her emotions into such meaningful words.

This girl, I tell ya, keeps teaching the "teacher"!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The After

It’s been a little over a year since we discovered Weston’s coconut allergy. And, not quite a year since we eliminated dairy from his diet. To say we’ve seen vast improvements in his sleep, well-being and behavior, is an understatement.

When I share the story of Weston’s health challenges for the first two years of his life, I’m always met with the comment; “did everything get so much better after you figured it out?”

And, the answer is; “yes!”

But also; “no!”

You see, after the hundreds of up-all-nights, the thousands of questions to the doctor, husband, friends and family, after we started sleeping again, after Weston started smiling more than he coughs, and after everything didn’t seem so hard, I realized I was changed.  


The After. Thankful our little guy is happier and healthier. Photo by Studio K Squared

And change is hard.

Last year, around my birthday, I woke up after only a couple hours of sleep, and I stayed awake for almost four hours. For no reason. Just awake. In a panic about how I would feel the next day with so little sleep. I’d been there {exhausted} before. Hundreds of times. For good reason. Because I was up all night with a sick child. But this wasn’t for a good reason. I just couldn’t sleep.

Then, it happened again a few months later. And, again, a few months after that. Then, once a week for many months. And, finally, many nights in a row.

So, I began to do an inventory on my life.

I noticed an electricity in my body at the mere sound of a cough. A physical reaction to a noise that had caused myself, and my family, so much pain.

I noticed relationships I once took for granted. Cracked. Strained. Not what they once were but not something evolved either.

And I noticed myself still in overdrive. Still regimented in my activities. Trying to control the uncontrollable.

Did life get so much better after we figured out what was causing Weston so much pain, and our family such heartache?

Yes!

But also, no!

Because, I’m learning, my friends, in the after, you’re left with the remnants of the trauma you’ve experienced. These remnants, they're gifts. But, it's up to you to find their place with the new you. 

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Blue Camaro

It happened again the other day. Heels on. Professional attire in place. I grabbed my coat to head out for a meeting. I zipped it up, and put my hands in my pockets for warmth (because I’m never put together enough to remember gloves). And there it was. I could feel the familiar outline. I felt the curves of the metal and the curve creep across my face too. My smile was uncontrollable. 

A small blue Hot Wheel Camaro was in my pocket.

I was so thankful to hold it. To smile for a second and think of my little man who never leaves home without a vehicle in his hand. While he spends his days at school, and I spend my days at work, we are connected.

These little reminders of my daily motivation, they’re everywhere. Sometimes it's a blue Camaro and sometimes it's a purple hair bow. They're in my coat pockets, purse, and under the seats of my car. Every time I find one I can’t help but smile.

This season of parenting is hard. There's never any time and I always feel I'm stretched too thin. But these tiny reminders, they help. They are quick examples of my why. Why I wake up before the sun rises, and close down my computer long after it sets.

This car is neither blue or a Camaro. It was another car. On another day.
I already know, one day, in the not-so-distant future, I’ll stop finding these reminders everywhere I look. The Camaro and the purple bow will be missing from my pockets, and the little people they belong to won’t be so little anymore.

So, for now, I smile with gratitude. And refill my coffee.

Cheers!
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