Archive | April 2014

I’m sorry… I will be out running

It’s my one year runaversary. I am a Couch to 5k graduate. You might remember I completed the program on our 10th wedding anniversary last July. I finished in Central Park. It’s funny now I kind of chuckle at feeling proud of my three miles. I remember my first blog about running I had tears flowing as I completed my first two mile run. I realize I had to start somewhere. It starts with one step and moves on to many. You can’t go if you never start.

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Running Changed

I saw someone on the greenway a few weeks ago who I will call Matt Damon’s twin. I noticed he stared at me in shock and the energy was weird. Matt Damon’s twin looked at me with his hat and sunglasses and we crisscrossed paths. I ran down one side of a path and he ran down the other. He stopped at the bottom to tie his shoe and I passed him. About a half a mile later he slowly went in front of me and I just took my time with my stride. He did a walk/run interval and I remained at my slow jog. I was about six and a half miles in on my seven mile goal. I was so close to done and I had never gone this far before. We went down a loop to turn around and our pace was almost matched as I headed into my last .2 miles. I slowed to a stop and celebrated with joy that I had reached my 7th mile and Matt Damon’s twin headed over the bridge on his way. I walked the half mile home super proud of myself and took a long warm bath. This week I ran into Matt Damon’s twin without all of our running gear on and he said, “Hey April. I have been meaning to apologize to you about not speaking to you on the greenway the other day. I felt like you were so focused so in the zone I didn’t want to interrupt. I’m such a slow runner I’ve got a lot of work to do.” I responded, “Oh I remember that. I didn’t realize it was you or I would have said hello. Your pace is just fine and I’m slow too. I was taking it easy that day because my goal was distance and not speed. I just started running  a year ago and I’m so happy with where I’ve come I try not to be too hard on myself about my pace.” He said, “Oh did you go out again this morning?” I replied, “No I went yesterday. I’m training for a half marathon now, but I was able to take about 10 minutes off my mileage from the week before.” His jaw dropped, “Really, wow… you were just so focused. I was amazed and in awe of you out there pushing on your own. You inspire me. You truly inspired me to work harder to focus. I’ve been thinking a lot about it.” I don’t do well with compliments so I just said a quiet, “Thank you.”

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More About Me

I was out running again, but this time with my faithful dog Benson. He greeted a woman on the greenway sniffing and licking her hand as her group passed me. She was impressed and remarked on his speed. I said, “Well he’s a great running partner and he’s about six miles in now. Last time we ran six miles together he managed to go to the dog park and out run everyone there too. He’s a fast one.” That sparked a long conversation. She told me about her beagle and we talked about how Benson can just appear to be walking at my fastest pace. She let her group go ahead and  she slowed to my pace. We talked about the weather, dogs, work and then she told me she was training for a full-marathon that is this Saturday. She told me how she’s lost 60 lbs and this will be her third full-marathon. When she began she said it was hard to even get started so I told her I was training for the half marathon and explained I had only been running for a year. I told her how far I’ve come and I think we simply found each other inspirational. I left the greenway feeling like it is possible… all of these things are possible. Thanks to my new stranger-friend Vanessa for my inspiration.

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Than One Could Imagine

I first wrote about running, because it was a dream I had. A dream a real actual dream about running. I could not, but I so desired to do it that I had many nights where I spent time dreaming of my feet hitting the ground. To start somewhere and build up to something and achieve it. I would wake up in pain and hurt from simple walking. My joints would ache in pain. I’ve come so far from then, but I’ve started to dream about running again these last few weeks. It’s time to push harder. I dream about my feet hitting the ground at a faster pace. I dream of achieving goals in distance. I awake the mornings of my long runs not in doubt or with heavy dread… I awake in anticipation.

Running is no longer a dream it is a passion.

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I spent Easter on the trampoline teaching my kids how to do a back bend- If you had told me I could do that I would have laughed in your face even a week ago. It’s been about 20 years since I could do that. I surprised myself by my new found ability and we had a blast.

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The Road to Being a Switzerland

Parenting doesn’t get any easier- it just gets different. 

The theme of my parental week has been about not being a pushover, but when you get pushed and someone doesn’t listen to your words about their physical aggression what do you do? I’m so sick of saying “use your words”. Some kids have never been encouraged to use their words nor do their parents have any parameters for what is acceptable use of their bodies. Well if they are set they are far less reasonable than my own. How many times do you want your kids to be pushed, bit, hit, hair pulled by another child and them say “Don’t do that to me- I don’t like it”? How many times is appropriate?

Make love not war right? It’s amazing what happens to a child when you show them how to fight back. It is also amazing what happens to the aggressor when they realize that force will be used and no longer words.

Don’t we all like to think that we could defend ourselves when the time comes?

When we teach our kids to ride a bike we teach them bike safety. When we take our children to the pool we say “walk not run”. When we take our children in the car we demand they buckle up… we do all of these things. When was the last time you looked at your child and said, “If the other child hits you and they have not listened to your words… hit them back.” We encourage them to walk away – to talk it away but have we taught them enough about fighting the problem away?

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When push comes to shove are they honestly prepared? Some day they may need to be. One of my former students posted on facebook the other day that a man tried to coerce a little girl to leave a local store with him and the former student stopped him. The young girl had enough sense to stay with a store employee and refuse to leave with the man. I know I’ve said it to my children, but this week I felt like I should say it more. My mom used to tell us girls to kick- scream- bite – scratch – kick them where it hurts- punch and scream some more. When the means are necessary use them.

Red heads, hot tempers and when the tears start to flow

Why wait until our children are in middle school before we address ways to control their temper? My son said to me yesterday “Sometimes I get so mad and I know I’m losing my temper. For example, I may be upset something you did and then I am mean to my sister. Sometimes I get so angry I just can’t help but cry.” We talked about counting it off, walking away to be alone, writing it down or just expressing how upset we are with calm words. My friend was telling me the other night that her daughter has taken to stomping up the steps in anger. She has simply decided that this is the acceptable form of allowing her daughter to express herself. This will pass as she ages, but for now it’s better than hitting, yelling, or slamming doors. The other options are far worse…. I tend to agree.

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My husband and I were talking the other night about being emotional children and how our son is much like us. He will cry and get upset, but he’s better off than I was as a child. I would cry at just about anything. While we were away last weekend my son told me it was hard to be away from our younger dog, Benson. He said when he gets scared or upset that Benson calms his nerves and keeps him from being as anxious about things. I can totally relate to that feeling when it comes to dogs. I’m just so amazed that my son can identify the ways to cope and calm himself down. I’m proud that he can identify what he does when he’s losing his temper. My husband tells the funniest stories of fist fights he got into with neighborhood kids and how getting into those fights taught him to work things out before it gets that far because he sucks at fighting to it’s best to have a better plan.

No one is born having all of the right controls to their situation- Most of us arrive to this world screaming our heads off. 

 All of these things we learn and grow to learn as an adult some of us are still trying to figure things out now. Some people have been calling my son “sensitive” or a “crybaby” or a “scaredy cat”. He has gone from crying to hitting back when necessary and then crying because he was mad at himself for losing his temper. Embarrassed and regretful that he has lost his cool. Lord knows I have been there.  Once I punched my sister clear in the gut knocking the wind out of her and another time I locked her in a rabbit cage and refused to let her out until she consumed some of the rabbit feed… yeah it happened. I have reasons for why and how I lost my temper with my sister- they are irrelevant but what is relevant is that I found my balance… it just took time. 

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My take on it is-my son is learning the in between of being a crybaby and a kid that loses his temper. He’s eight and he will find his balance and hopefully he’ll end up like me and his father- Even Stevens. My husband’s nickname was Switzerland for a while- always go with the flow- always neutral- always fair and for that he’s a trusted friend. My son is just growing and changing and I am just parenting with the skills and experiences I have to help him. I will tell my son to defend in a fight but not pick them. I will tell him it’s okay to cry. I will tell him he’s okay the way he is and that I love him. I’m his mother. That’s what I’m supposed to do.

Excuse the Mess: Mental Spring Cleaning in Progress

If I’m crying my cup runneth over. I have reached my maximum output of stress, exhaustion, emotion, pain, love- whatever it is has been really getting to me. Sometimes I realize it building up and sometimes I am completely surprised by the boiling turbulence that has built up under my thick thick skin.

I have been in a mental rut recently recycling the same struggles that have plagued me, but I knew something else was wrong. I was struggling without a pinpoint to the problem. I opened a note this week and immediately the tears began to flow almost to the point of sobbing. When I opened it I realized that inside its contents was a hidden turbulence of my emotions. I was very surprised by my emotional breakdown.

Someone once said to me, “Come on in and shut the door. What’s wrong- something must be really really wrong…. (handing me a tissue) A lot of people have walked through these doors crying but not April. It makes me weak in the knees to see you cry.”

I can think of specific times I had some good cries that were unrelated to deaths. I cried a few days before my son was born- I walked with someone else’s arms around me like a set of crutches to get to the elevator and just sobbed trying to stand since I was in so much physical pain. I cried when they took me out of work for not being able to walk. During my second pregnancy I tried to walk to the cafeteria to get my own lunch. The walk was incredibly hard and by the time I got to my room I couldn’t get the door open and I was in a lot of pain… so I just sobbed. I made it to the doorway of my coworker and his jaw dropped as he fumbled and stumbled trying to help me. I don’t cry often, but when I do I’m done- stick a fork in me.

 This random turbulence when I think I’ve got it all under control and then WHAM- It hits me in a way I had not expected. I have been hiding some of this frustration and struggle even from myself. Just recognizing it has made me feel so much better. I found my something wrong.

Now if I can just decipher that weird dream I had the other night I would be even better. It was about touching someone’s prized jigsaw puzzle they had glued together and once I touched it all the pieces fell to the floor like shattered glass.

A Newborn… Life’s Empty Canvas

Being Mom was a title I wasn’t certain I would earn. My body wasn’t entirely made for making or carrying babies. It’s a long story and not one for this particular blog. It was hard to get pregnant, hard to carry them, hard to recover from a cesarean section, and hard in my physical recovery of the damage done to my hips and pelvis. My desire to be a mother was always there, but the intensity only rose higher when I was told it wouldn’t happen easily. 

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April 4, 2006

When I was younger I would shop for other people’s babies and cry as I filed through the sizes of beautiful baby clothes on the racks. We had children young in comparison to many people our age, but we knew it may be a long road for us. It wasn’t that long or as difficult in comparison to so many others who have struggles like mine, but it sure was hard on us. 

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April 4, 2007 – 1st Birthday

When I held my son for the first time I pulled away his cap and swaddle and just looked at his body. I was amazed by this gift that God has given me. I rubbed my nose against his nose and said “ding ding ding” and we still do that to this day. 

He turns eight tomorrow and when I look back at his pictures I recall looking into that sweet newborn face wondering what the world would hold for him. Holding his hands for the first time wondering what those hands would be capable of in the future.

 

 

It’s funny now because I can examine those same photos now and see his sweet infant face and it all makes sense.

How did you not know what miraculous things those lips would say?

How could you not prepare for how witty he would be and keep you on your toes?

How could you not imagine the way he would see things with those brilliant blue eyes? 

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FIVE

It’s funny I still do that now. I wonder what he will do with his life. What instruments will he play? What will his favorite poem be? Who will he fall in love with?

 

How can I lead him in the right direction for kindness and goodness to others? How can I lead him on to his highest potential? 

What is within my means as a parent: financially, intellectually, in faith, in passion, with humor, with compassion, with love….

 

He said a few weeks ago, “Mom I know why I’m so smart. I’m part of you and you are a teacher. You show me how to do so many things and you have to have made me smart too.”

I hope that many years on down the road I look back at his pictures from his eighth birthday the same way I look at his newborn pictures and think… How could you have not seen the amazing things that were yet to come? To look back at them and recognize the hands, the nose, the mouth, the eyes and realize that a newborn is an empty canvas. It is unfamiliar but you love it already. You love how it changes and transforms. You aren’t the painter, but in so many ways you supply the brushes and you supply the colors of paint and encourage certain strokes and styles. When you look back at the blank canvas you see no emptiness and instead see all the things that it has already become. 

One of my acquaintances said to me ~  Do you realize my children are miracles? I mean really….. It’s pretty miraculous how all babies are created, but mine are true miracles as I wasn’t supposed to have them. I was told that I couldn’t have children… so they are really my little miracles. 

 

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Actually… I completely understand how you feel.