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, stubborn...so 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 though...my 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 running...it'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 perfect...it'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. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Space Between

You know the space between living and dying? the living being happiness and joy and the dying being suffering and hopelessness. the space where you just go minute by minute and hope to keep breathing and sometimes breathing is difficult and living is impossible and dying isn't an option so you turn to running your heart out and untangling the thoughts from the spool of useless, hopeless, fearful, dreadful thread. and after you run your heart out things make more sense, and you see a sign that things will be fine and let go of your fears. you see the most beautiful magnolia tree on your favorite running trail...one that you've never seen before and haven't ever seen again. because your thoughts made you breathless and your throat tightened up, and you looked to the sky for some answers and you looked right and then left and in the middle of all.the.green.stood the most beautiful magnolia tree with bright white blooms and it was like a sign telling me things were going to be fine, and don't give up hope, let go of what doesn't matter and hang on to what does. And right there i thanked God for the sign and gave up on my fears because a life living in fear is not a life worth living at all.

The thing about living and dying is i'm not afraid to die. I know that when i die i'm going to a better place, but the thing about living is that life is scary. life is not knowing anything. life is taking this path that leads me to who knows where and i don't know how i'll get there and if i'll make it safely and who will be on this path with me. life is messy. life is spilled milk and a hundred loads of laundry day after day and mismatched socks and fighting and tears and sometimes i feel like the worst mom. some days my kids tell me i'm the worst mom...other days they wrap their little arms around me and tell me i'm the best and they love me...but most days, i breathe a huge sigh of relief when bedtime comes and the kids are tucked in safe and sound and i collapse on the couch and sometimes the tears roll down my cheeks and other times i just bury myself under my blankets with my contacts still in. i make sure my alarm is set for my early morning run, because without my run i would die, i would literally die. i run so much my toenails are falling off and so are my pants and if i go without my runs i can't function normally. 

sometimes life sucks. sometimes i suck. sometimes i feel like i'm failing at everything i touch and do and look at. sometimes it takes someone dying to get back into the the joy of living. sometimes an epiphany comes in the form of sun rays shining on your downward looking face, and you raise your eyes to the sky and see the most beautiful, picture perfect moment and you grab your phone and snap a photo and something changes inside of you...like a light switch turning on and you snap the photo and put it on instagram and think to yourself that it's been too long to live without the joy of a sunset. it's been too long to live without hope and joy and happiness in the small moments. it's been too long living in doubt and fear and anger and hate and letting someone else control my happiness. my happiness is my own and i won't give that up to someone else.

so, happy thursday. my favorite day of the week. soaking up the evening sun with a beer in my hand and the summer upon us and the kids running around outside in their pj's and knowing that tomorrow isn't a school day and this giant epiphany falling into my lap and i know it's no accident because i have a guardian angel in heaven now and i know everything will be fine and good and happy again.

hope and faith and love are powerful things.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


There's been no writing. No photo taking or tweeting or facebooking or instagramming. There's been nothing. Silence. Dead air, crickets chirping. I've almost forgotten what it feels like to write. There's been writing in private journals, not meant for anyone else to read, just my mind's ramblings of deep deep pain and fear and nothing to share but dark and twisted thoughts. The only constants have been running, running and running and music and friends...thank God for running and friends and music. Music so loud it blocks out any and all thoughts of everything and nothing all at once. Running has saved my life more than once. it's done it again. this running thing is not just about the feet pounding on the pavement, it's about chasing the demons from my mind and soul and my heart and body coming together in perfect harmony to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other and just keep breathing; one breath and then another and another until you don't have to tell yourself to just breathe. just take a deep breath and inhale good and exhale bad because sometimes my brain needs to tell my soul to take another breath because it's worth it to just.keep.breathing. and friends waiting for you on the other side to tell you they're there and they love you and that you're perfect just how you are.

Let go or be dragged. When you're going through hell, just keep going. On the other side of fear lies freedom. quotes i've lived by for many many months. Friends and brothers and sisters and dads, they've taken down walls around me one brick at a time. Left me bare and vulnerable and open and i hate it. i'm good at putting up walls, i've built them one brick at a time for years and years and years and everything has always been good and great and fine when in fact these empty words are bricks building walls so high no one can see over and no one can get through and it's just me inside the walls and i'm protected by these beautiful bricks that have taken years to build and only days to crumble apart. it's humbling to let people in. i hate it. i hate people knowing that things aren't fine and everything isn't great and nothing is wonderful and hasn't been. I hate the fact that I'm not really a badass, I just pretend to be...with the black nail polish and the tough girl attitude and the head held high and confident smile. Oh, some days I'm as confident as they come. Other days I'm the fat girl hiding behind a cupcake and crying in the corner and then running like hell the next morning because the fear of fat is the only fear i can control and the treadmill is a very good listener. Fear and failure and fat and fuck those feelings. I'm brave and scared and weak and strong and happy and sad all at the same time. I'm a mess except when i'm not. i ride a roller coaster every.single.day. and i want to get off. i want to jump off some days, kicking and screaming the whole way down, except i land on my feet and scream at the top of my lungs that i survived. i'm stubborn and kind and compassionate and empathetic and sometimes my heart explodes with pain and happiness and it bubbles up and makes the tears stream down my face and i wipe them away because nobody needs to see me cry.

I can feel the long, cold, gray winter days coming to an end. the days are getting longer and warmer and the sun comes out and warms my cheeks and my heart and when i run i don't feel my feet slide in the snow they splash in the melting snow puddles and i come back warm and sweaty and muddy and wet. i can almost see the light again. the middle is dark. there's no light on either side so you don't know whether to turn back or keep running forward because you're stuck in the dark and feel like you're drowning in it. the light feels like air...filling my lungs and i can start breathing again...start breathing without thinking about making myself breathe again. my soul feels less crushed. i feel less worn. my heart isn't as heavy.

worry and fear can't take up more space than hope and faith, and when there is nothing left to let go of, there is always hope and faith.