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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rain Running and Having Faith and Praying for a Sign

*Please excuse this rambling from my morning run...

This rambling of a tangled web of cluttered thoughts that cloud my brain until I can sort through them on my runs. Put each thought, each doubt, each worry, each fear, each self-hating, negative, horrible criticism in their place. I have a compartment in my brain for each one. I did just that on my run this morning.

The morning was gray, and the sky was crying this gentle, beautiful sprinkle of rain; the kind that leaves your soul cleansed and your mind emptied and your heart open and your spirit renewed. I needed that. I needed my spirit renewed. I needed to feel like myself again. Whole and happy and *together, not the huge, disastrous self I've been lately; walking around in a haze of sugar-coated-everything-is-fineness, when in fact everything has been a little bit hard for me lately. I have a bad attitude and an impatient brain and some days I need help that I don't ask for and what I really want is sleep and I cry sometimes when I'm in the bathroom alone, and I ask God to give me a sign that everything will work out, which I never do. I never ask for signs because I have faith. I have faith that everything will work out like it should.

But last week, my faith faltered and waned and my doubts and fears were bigger than life and I prayed hard for a sign. I shouldn't need a sign if I have faith. I DO know deep down that everything will be ok. It will all work out. And not on my own timeline, that is out of my control.

This morning on my beautiful rainy run, I was brought back to my 16-year-old self who ran in the rain for the first time and my teen-anguished self ran and ran and with each puddle I ran through, I felt heartbreak heal. With each drop of sweat-mixed rain dripping off the tip of my nose, I felt lighter, and my teen problems weren't so all-consuming anymore. That's when I fell in love.

I remember that run like it was yesterday. Sloshy shoes and dripping hair and a happy heart upon return. My rain runs, I remember them all. They are few and far between but they are some of my best runs. They leave me open and transparent and breathless. I looked up to the sky this morning and thanked God once again for making me a runner and giving me the soul and mind and spirit for running because it's not really about the physical self, and all of a sudden I could breathe again.

After two long, hard, bad attitude weeks, I could breathe. I didn't feel suffocated. I didn't feel like I was drowning on land anymore, I wasn't holding on by my fingertips and I felt a little bit free again. I felt myself smile. Just me and my footsteps and the the beat of my heart. And everything will be ok.

I just need to have faith. I need to run and have faith and get more sleep and remember that I'm in good hands. My children, they'll be fine. They'll be ok. They're thriving right now and that's really the only thing that matters. And I'm surviving. Someday I'll be thriving too; but for right now, surviving will do.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Flawed Mom

I have the best kids. They are thoughtful and kind and helpful and caring and nice. Really, really nice. Like, stop-in-the-hall-to-help-another-kid-in-school nice.

And mothering these not-so-tiny humans is the hardest thing I've ever done.

The other night I went to bed, and I thought to myself, today is the first day that I haven't felt like a bad mom in a really long time. The guilt is overwhelming sometimes. I'm positive I'm screwing them up for life. I've considered buying them therapy sessions for when they're adults for all the screwed up things I've done. I'm pretty sure I'm too hard on them. I'm positive I yell too much. I expect a lot from them. I worry about them constantly. I just want them to be happy, and not end up on drugs or in jail, but really, mostly, I just want them to be happy. And I think they are, I hope they are, but I'm not certain.

The older they get, the harder this mom thing becomes. Bigger kids, bigger problems. They are at the age where I can put myself in each of their shoes and remember what it was like to be right where they're at. They seem much cooler than I ever was. I was very much the ugly duckling and the odd man out. My mom still calls me the odd man out; the black sheep. I don't quite fit in anywhere. My kids, though, they aren't like I was, and I hope they never are. They are themselves, which I was always uncomfortable being.

Being a mom means I have four pieces of my heart walking around outside my body. Being a mom has broken my heart and mended it more times than I can count. Being a mom is the greatest thing I have ever done with my life. Being a mom has brought me to tears and to my knees all in a second. It has made me smile and cry and laugh and yell and want to pull my hair out and squeeze them so hard they can't breathe. It's made me want to lock them up and away from the big bad world and at the same time send them out to be the light in the darkness, because I know they're the helpers and the do-gooders of this world. They are my light and my sun and my rainbow after the storm, even though sometimes they cause the storm. They are my heart and my soul and my laughter through tears; they are my good morning and good night and hello and good-bye. They are the sparkle in my eye and the break in my heart and the smile on my face and the furrow in my brow. They are the reason I go to bed at night praying that I'll be better and do better tomorrow.

Today I don't need to be celebrated. I don't WANT to be celebrated. I want to celebrate these wondrous creatures God has given me and thank them for making me a mom. I want to give them more of me and my time and attention and more of my energy...because they deserve it. I want to give them the best part of me, and not always the exhausted part. I want to give them my joy and my patience instead of my hopeless, useless, ungracious self. I want to give them the grace they deserve, just like they give to me. 

So, Happy Mother's Day to my kids who made me a mom. What I'm really celebrating today is you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bubbles and Birthdays and Being Five

My baby turned five today. Her butterfly cake fell into pieces when I took it out of the pan. We used the whole tub of frosting to "glue" it together. Kind of a perfect mess just like a lot of things right now.

I was back and forth between smiling and laughing to swallowing down the lump in my throat all day.

"I'm not a kid anymore, mom", she said matter-of-factly, on our way home from picking up the big kids from school. A school where she'll have kindergarten round-up later this week.

My sweet, spunky, spirited, so stubborn child is a mighty force to be reckoned with.

She sparkles and delights and tantrums and tattles and dances and squeals and cartwheels and runs and disobeys and sings "Uptown Funk" at the top of her lungs down the aisles of the grocery store. And when I suggest a different song, because the "n" is missing from "funk", she just sings louder. And the mom-look I give her is given right back in a dare and a glare. And sometimes I'm too tired to battle, so I join in and sing along and onlookers can keep on judging, because all we can do is our best.

She is still a kid baby. And her love, her unconditional love always shines through.

Some nights I go to bed exhausted and guilty and questioning, "what could I have done better and differently for the kids today?". And the thing that always comes to my mind and my heart and soul is just love them. Just love them like they love you. Unconditionally.

Happy Birthday, Kate. May your bright light always shine through.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The One About Running...

Once upon a time, there was a little, awkward, ugly duckling who tried every sport available to her and succeeded at none of them. Basketball was out because I was tiny, and clumsy, and couldn't run and dribble at the same time. Softball required hand-eye coordination, something I still lack, thanks to a bum left eye. Gymnastics wouldn't have been awful except I was afraid to try everything that wasn't on the floor. Strike, strike, and strike...I'm out.

And then in the 7th grade, in gym class, we were required to run the mile. And everyone was panting, and grabbing their sides all out of breath. And then there was me. The ugly, awkward, clumsy duckling. Running laps around the football field with all my breath and not holding my side. And as I passed my gym teacher standing on the sidelines, she yelled to me, "I think we finally found something you can do, Jenny!!", because people called me Jenny. And that's when my love affair started.

It didn't happen all at once. It wasn't something I would do every day. It wasn't until high school when boys were breaking my heart, and I needed to escape the cruelties of being a teenager did I turn to running completely. Running through teen angst, running for weight loss, running so I could eat cookies, and cake, and chocolate. Running to keep slim, running and running and running...and then something happened when I stopped running to stay thin. I ran for myself. I ran to stay sane. Duh...something clicked. I *needed to run like I needed to breathe. I didn't realize that when I took breaks from running, I wasn't myself.

My's mine. It's my sanity, my saving grace, my therapy session, my unclutter-my-thoughts-and-leave-it-on-the-trail, my talk with God, my nature fix. It's the time when I rationalize everything in my head and make it right and tuck things away and reassure myself every little thing is ok and alright and it all happens for a reason. It's my passion, my soul, the one thing in my life I am more than happy to share and get excited about!! The more runners in this world the better!!!

I thank God every time I run for my runner's soul and spirit and legs and lungs to run miles. After years and years and years of running, I have realized that running has saved me. After years and years of pounding the pavement and thousands and thousands of miles, I've discovered that running has given me more than I can ever give back.

I am positive I wouldn't be alive if not for running...and my children.

I can tell you that running isn't always easy. But NOT running is harder. Life is hard sometimes, but running through this crazy, awkward life makes it easier.

If I could be anything in this life, it would be a unicorn who sweats glitter and runs on rainbows. But being a runner is the next best thing. 

Monday, April 6, 2015


The cracked ones are my favorite. They're the ones that have character. They're the survivors. The ones with the smooth white shell, no flaws, no imperfections, sure, they're nice and all, but my eye is immediately drawn to the cracks. The way the colors are a little darker along the lines of the crack.

Nothing in this world is perfect. Not eggs, not people. Maybe chocolate; chocolate may be perfect.

There's a reason why nothing is perfect and nobody is's the flaws that give people character; it's the flaws that give people the strength it takes to keep going. Not at first maybe; at first it sucks. Things might suck. Situations might suck. But it takes bad days to appreciate the good days, right? It takes being cracked and bent and a little bit broken to appreciate the happy; the good; the unbent. Sometimes you're left with scars. Scars are signs of healing. Healing is good. Scars are ugly in some people's eyes, but look! You survived. The pain might have been torture. It may have left you vulnerable and weak and a heap of crying tears, but you're stronger because of it.

Cracked; bent; bruised; scarred. Not broken. Healed. Stronger. Capable of hard things.

My babies...might be scarred. But look at how beautiful they are because of those scars. Imperfect, beautiful, strong, kind, empathetic, amazing little people. Gosh, I love them.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Start From Where You Stumbled

I took photos today. Photos of the kids for an Easter card that I *will send out. And then I opened my laptop and started reading my blog. The kids! They've changed!! Me too...I've changed. I'm different. Still awkward, still clumsy...those things will never change. But I'm humbled. I'm guarded. I'm weak. I feel on display. I don't let many people know about me or my screwed up life and if anyone asks I laugh, because I haven't lost my sense of humor and my life is totally laughable right now.

And then I realized just how much I miss writing. I miss taking photos. I miss hearing my fingertips typing out my thoughts. The thing is though, I've missed something bigger without even realizing it. I missed documenting a whole year of the kids. I missed taking photos of birthdays and holidays and things they've said and done and how they've grown. I know there's no going back. There's no such thing as do-overs. Just like in a race, if you stumble and fall, you can't go back to the starting line. All you can do is pick yourself up, brush off your dirty, maybe bloodied knees, and start from where you stumbled. Keep going one step at a time. Sure, you're embarrassed, everyone saw you fall. Yes, you're probably a little hurt and may end up bruised, but unless you accept failure; unless you just lay there and let people run all over you, you don't have a choice but to start from right where you are. Unbalanced, unsure at first. Just keep running and with each step your hurt fades, your embarrassment isn't colored on your cheeks in the brightest of reds, your pride and ego are bruised but over time that humbleness turns into empathy for others that have fallen before you and will stumble after you. You have a greater understanding for what it means to be in pain and you can put your pain to good use over time.  

Everyone has a story to tell, and I may never share my whole story, but I might be able to listen to others' stories; offer a hand to help them up; give a word of encouragement like others have given to me.

I'm ready to write again. I'm ready to take photos of sunsets and blue skies and flowers and write about running. Oh the running! The magical part of my life that has saved me from myself over and over again. Running has given me more than I can ever give back. Running is my passion; my happy place; my escape; my therapy; my prayer.

I'm ready to open the creative part of my brain that shut itself off when I was just trying to remember to breathe and remember the reasons why I should *keep breathing.

I'm ready to document the little things and the big things and the happy birthdays and the Merry Christmas' of my kids' lives again. I want them to read my stories here, and I want them to know that they are always and have always been loved. I want them to know that I chose to fight my wars with glitter guns to minimize the scars of their childhood. I can't get last year back, but I can start from today.

I can brush off my knees and write some words today.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy Birthday, Anna

Dear Anna,

Double digits is a big deal.  You're not a little kid anymore. you haven't been for a while now, though. I want you to know a few things now that you're ten.

You are an amazing girl. So kind and helpful and thoughtful and responsible and funny and smart. Man, I wish I were more like you. You are the person I want to be, the person I aspire to be like. I hope you find this little space of mine someday when you're older and have kids of your own, and you read all of these thoughts of mine about being YOUR mom. I am so happy to say that I am your mom and you are my daughter. I hope you know that you and your sister and brothers are without a doubt the most important people to me. And even though you guys drive me batty sometimes when you fight, I hope you know that there's nothing you could do to make me love you any less.  My love for you keeps multiplying and some days my heart is so full that it spills over out of my chest and falls in the form of tears down my cheeks.

I hope you continue to blaze your own trail through this crazy wonderful life of yours. I hope you don't let circumstances jade you. I hope you don't let ANYONE dull your shine.  I hope you continue to spread your joy and love around like glitter.

Most of all, I just want you to be happy. Now and forever. In whatever you do. If you're a garbage person or a doctor or a hot dog vendor in New York City...I just want you to be truly happy.

Happy Birthday, sweet Anna.  You're a shining star.