One Workout at a Time

February 16th, 2013 — 12:12pm

Patience?  Ha.

I want it now!

If I can’t accomplish it today, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be able to–or at least that’s how it feels most of the time.  When things take time, when they require slow plodding I tend to get frustrated or bored or discouraged.  Learning to knit–and completing a project–was a personal test of persistence.  I love the outcome.  I have a a ton of cute scarves and hats now.  I wear them around for a night after I clip the last stitch even if it’s August.

But you can knit while sitting on your butt.

This working out thing?  I have to get up, change clothes, drive to the gym and then actually push my muscles further than they’d prefer. When the workout is over and I feel like a rock star because I completed it I pass by a mirror.  And I don’t look different at all!!!!  On the good days my face has a healthy rosy glow.  On the bad days my ponytail goes from cute to “who let my sons braid my hair again”, eye make-up is smudged across my face and my legs are so weak I’m wondering if I’m going to have to crawl back to my car.  Once there, all of the workout data gets loaded into my handy little app and then I see it.  At my current, ugly workout pace I might finish this damn race in just under a decade.


But I’m getting up from this computer to go put on my workout clothes and head out again.  Why?  Because I have a plan.  It’s not my plan.  It’s Michael’s plan.*  I’m trying to trust it.  He promises it will get me across that finish line.  I’m trying hard–so hard–not to look ahead.  I’m doing what is on the calendar for today.  I’m trying to have faith.  I’m taking this damn thing one day at a time.

Even if you’ve never had an addict in your life–or been an addict yourself–you might be familiar with those five words.

One Day At A Time

Alcoholics Anonymous and Ala-Non base their recovery model on this concept.  Don’t worry about the future.  Don’t worry about the next minute.  Focus on staying clean right now and have faith that those moments will string together into a new, changed life.

And I chuckle.  Who’d have ever thunk that I’d be employing the skills I learned to deal with my sister’s addiction to get myself across a finish line?  Running and addiction?  Rumor has it running can become an addiction.  But approaching running like I’m getting over an addiction?

My fingers are crossed, I’m wishing on stars and just completing what’s on my plan for today, even though last night when I looked at my pace I really wanted to throw in the towel.


*When I finally worked up the courage to admit that I was going to try and run a half-marathon the first question posed to me was about my “plan.”  “Oh sure, I’ve got one” I replied and then I quickly googled half-marathon plans and found this nifty one-pager that I hoped would get me to April 28th.  When I asked Michael if I really could do it and he outlined his approach I realized I needed something more than one page.  Let me tell you that using the Training Peaks app with the plan loaded into it has changed my whole attitude.  As much as I want to progress faster, I do take comfort in the daily plan I hold in my hot little hands.

I am not being compensated by Training Peaks or Vanguard Endurance for any of this.  Frankly, they’d have to pay me in a year’s worth of Louboutin’s to put myself through this.  I’m actually paying them.


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Where Child Birth Prepares You to Run

February 13th, 2013 — 11:59pm

So yeah, I’m running a half marathon in April.

Yes.  I have looked in a mirror.  I know.

Eleven weeks to train.  Should have started sooner, but I’m a sucker for procrastination.  This isn’t new.

Thing is I want to do this.  It seemed like a great idea back in October.  As I’ve entered middle age new items have wiggled their way onto my bucket list.  If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever run for hours–on purpose–the answer would have been a resounding NO.  And yet, here I am preparing for a half marathon.  Believe me.  I’m pretty shocked myself.

Last week I was on the treadmill a-huffin and a-puffin begging the minutes to move more quickly when the tears started welling up in my eyes.  I wasn’t going to do it.  There is no way I could complete this thing.  I didn’t have enough time to train.  I am too out of shape.  I waited too long to begin.  The race people would be all packed up and gone by the time I even limped into the neighborhood of the finish line.  My friends would have gotten tired of waiting figuring I quit and gone home thinking they’d find me there.  Everyone–and even worse I–would know I was a big fat loser.

Thank god the treadmill TVs block my reflection in the mirror.  The self-hating was kept moderately in check.

The next morning–and I’m not really sure if I was looking for an excuse to quit or a making desperate last grab at making myself proud–I sent a Facebook message to my friend Michael asking if this was even possible.  Michael started doing triathlons five years ago.  I knew him before.  He’s changed his life.  Now he’s so into it he’s coaching other athletes.  DO NOT THINK FOR ONE MOMENT I AM CALLING MYSELF AN ATHLETE (yet).  But I knew that Michael would know if I could do it.

His answer–without hesitation–was YES.

And that was all I needed–or at least I thought so until we started chatting some more.*

See I just needed someone who knew what kind of training it would take to tell me I could do it.  I have given birth twice–stick with me here.  The first time I was pregnant I read those stupid books about giving birth and I freaked out.  What had I done getting pregnant?!  I didn’t want to go through delivery!  The baby was going to have to figure another way out because I was NOT going through what that book described!  By show time though I got through it.  And you know how?  That silly old Dr. Sears told me I could and with his faith I convinced myself that I could put up with anything for twelve hours if it meant getting to meet my baby at the end.  And now I have Michael telling me that I can do it.  In eleven weeks I can get myself ready to complete a half marathon.  So you know what I’m telling myself?

I can do anything for eleven weeks if it means that I will cross that finish line.

*Next up, we’ll examine why having lived with an addicted sibling is getting me through this.  Kids I have lots of time running to entertain myself with these thoughts.  I apologize now for sharing them with you.




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Stepping Inside the Fire

November 1st, 2012 — 9:26pm

Sometimes you just stare.  It might not be anything interesting to the outsider, but to you the subject is a playground for your eyes.

For me, it’s often a fire.

The flames jump, change color, grow smaller or reach higher.  Sparks may even fly off.

My brain swirls while my eyes are occupied with the show.  Thoughts waft in and out.  Problems are contemplated–sometimes even solved.

Fire has a meditative quality.  The bubbles in a drink may hold the same for you.



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The Great Holiday Photo Escapade, part deux

December 11th, 2011 — 2:31pm

The first day we went out, the sun was fading fast and they weren’t exactly feeling cooperative.  So I decided we’d try it again.

It wasn’t looking good for this day either.

Then they warmed up a little–but for that dastardly hat!

Of course by then they had behaved for more than two consecutive minutes…

Finally!  Everyone looking at me.  No one scowling.  No tongues hanging out of mouths…

But does it show them as they are at this moment in their lives?  That’s always my conundrum.  These are boys.  Only one of them is remotely concerned about his odor or clothes.  They are funny and goofy and regularly dirty.  The photographer in me wants to wow you with some gorgeous photo of spit-shined boys dressed in Ralph Lauren resisting sugar plums placed on the table next to them with Martha Stewart styling.  But those aren’t my boys–and thank g*d!

What I love about capturing people through my lens is showing them as they are–how beautiful I see them as themselves.  So it will be the last photo above or the final one from the last session (honestly I’m leaning toward that one).

When you are trying to decide what photo to use for you holiday card this year, I urge you to select the one that shows the world who you are right now.  What is going on with your family today.  Those shots are the most sincere and most immune from mocking.  Cause really?  I don’t believe you and your entire family kept those matching white shirts clean for one minute after that session at Pennys was over.

I have to make a decision today because I need to give Tiny Prints a fighting chance to get me my cards before Christmas (actually I just noticed that I can get 20% off any order over $49 and only $5 shipping and get my cards by 12/16 if I order by tonight–what are they?  Miracle workers?)   I think I’m going with these:

Which one do you like the best?  Let me know in the comments.

*I attended a great party hosted by Tiny Prints a few weeks back and I got to have a new head shot taken, see some of my favorite DC Moms and see the new holiday options from Tiny Prints.  They offered me 50 free prints if I wrote a post.  But here’s the thing…I ordered from Tiny Prints last year and my cards got such rave reviews so there wasn’t really any decision about where I was ordering from this year.

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So the Elf on the Shelf?

December 3rd, 2011 — 2:22pm

The first time I saw the Elf on the Shelf I was intrigued.  He looks so much like an elf my grandmother had in her house every year, so his face brought be back immediately to the magic of Christmas as a kid.

But I hesitated adding the tradition to our house.  Maybe the price point of the “package” made me hesitate–not sure.

Flash forward a few years to last week when I realized that after 14 straight years of having a “believer” in my house I have only a few years left before we stop leaving cookies out for Santa.  Tears immediately sprung to my eyes.  I began to re-think the Elf.  Would it be too late to introduce the tradition?  Would they buy it?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Remember these are all boys here.  Cheers went up when the Elf was pulled out of the bag.  The book was read twice the moment it was opened.  He was immediately named Canoodle (you have to name him to give him his magic).  They* hear him doing things–trying to kick out of the package the first day, notice small changes–when he turns in his position.  THEY HAVE NOT TOUCHED HIM ONCE.  And the best part?  I hear my youngest talking to him (I have to get this on video).

The first morning he was found in a tree.

This morning he was getting in a little reading.

There’s a bit of stressed involved in figuring out what to do with him each night, but having the boys bound out of bed wondering aloud where Canoodle will be this morning??


*Should anyone reading this know my teenager, I’m am sure he would want me to clarify that he is not taking part in this Elf thing.  As his mom, I want to clarify that he is so amazing about keeping the secret.

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The Great Holiday Photo Escapade of 2011

December 2nd, 2011 — 5:46pm



They don’t like to cooperate–they are three boys.  The wearing of hats was an enticement.  The teenager was annoyed.

They wanted to pretend they were the Beatles.

They dress themselves.

We may have to try this again tomorrow–preferably when I have wardrobe veto power.

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Life Surrounded by Boys

November 10th, 2011 — 10:34pm

“J, c’mere!  Look at this,” says my 7 year old as he walks out of the bathroom with his pants around his ankles and used toilet paper in his hand.

“My poop is green!”

Makes a mother proud.

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November 5th, 2011 — 11:54pm

Something about driving for an hour and a half sitting through two baseball games and driving another hour and a half back makes us all a little tired.

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Recycled Magic Spells

November 4th, 2011 — 11:57pm

I walked into the gym for the pep rally and found a spot on the bleachers at the bottom left corner.  There are a lot of kids in here–and I don’t know one of them.  Oh wait, there’s Lisa.  Our neighbor introduced her to me over the summer.  She babysits for them and they thought it would be nice for me to know at least one person at school.  Nice of her to wave.  How obvious is it that I’m sitting here by myself listening to conversations all around me?

I’ve spent all day listening.  Homeroom was interesting.  Everyone bounding into the classroom excited to see who would be there, to catch up over summer.  It didn’t take long to figure out who the popular kids in the room were.  If the squeals and hugs hadn’t given it away, the gawking and fawning were impossible to miss.  And there was plenty of time piece it all together.  Time truly slows down when you’re the 14 year old new kid sitting in the middle of a room of your peers.  Is the teacher ever going to show up?  Will I finally get a chance to use my voice to at least say “here.”

But that was hours ago.  Since then I’ve wandered through halls trying to find classrooms on this sprawl of a campus.  My friends from home won’t ever believe that the hallways are outside.  Guess we don’t have to worry about the snow here.  I suffered through lunch trying not to seem so obviously alone.  There is no way I can come back and do this all again tomorrow.  Two thousand kids laughing and joking and rushing around, and I’m being carried by the current like a salmon that’s given up.

…to be continued

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The Creative Process: Gotta Start with a Mess

November 3rd, 2011 — 11:26pm

Why is a blank page so intimidating?  Whether it’s here or at work, the blank screen sends my heart racing.  Sometimes I will write words–words of no significant meaning on the page just to fill it up a bit and take the pressure off.  An outline, notes, old documents to use as a starting point, anything will do.

With photography, I begin a shoot with test shots.  I aim at the ground, adjust my white balance, focus on a few inanimate objects to check my exposure and focus.

It takes a while for me to begin to see.  Whether it’s to find the words to shape what I want to communicate or to find the light to create the image I want to capture, I have to mess up things a little bit before I get started.  In complete opposition to my approach to housekeeping, I find it easier to organize and clean up my thoughts/ideas once I shake them all up and splash them around a bit.  Actually, upon writing that that’s how I clean too.  I have to get things all out in my vision so I can organize them and find their homes.

Assuming not everyone approaches their creative process this way, but it works for me.  As I’m sloshing around poking at things from different directions, all of the sudden I find what I was looking for.

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