Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why it's OK to Ignore Your Children

As the summer wraps up and my school year gets underway, I have to stop and reflect on the fact that I’m not a very good mother for a lot of the school year. I rarely volunteer, and I will never win the award for MOY – Mom of the Year.

I go to Nursing School, so the quality time I get with my kids during the week is when we all sit down and do our homework together. As they’re significantly younger than I am, their subject matter is slightly less disgusting and time consuming than that of a 4th year nursing student. It is no surprise that they will finish their work in 1/16 of the time it takes me to finish mine.

Once they’re done, I need quiet to continue in my studies, and one way that happens is that I totally ignore them for hours on end.

I sit on my porch, with my laptop burning into my thighs, and furiously type away at Geriatric Teaching Projects, Case Studies, and Antepartum Evidenced Based Practice while my children have to self entertain.

They must.

There is no choice.

Without self-entertainment, I would not be able to finish school.

Self-entertainment is not the same thing as being entertained by the TV. We are long past the days of asking Elmo in Grouchland to supervise the toddler so I can work on something, and Sponge Bob has never had a place as a babysitter in this home. I do not allow screen time, and instead I do dreadful things like make children play with toys, or each other, or read, or color, or play outside where they are being exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun... the possibilities are endless, and they are their choices to make.

They make up new rules to “soccer” on the field next to our home, and they play modified kick-ball with children ranging from 3 – 13. The ethnic diversity is as expansive as the ages involved, and the self-entertaining sometimes results in learning about different cultures. They ride their bikes in a disorganized pace line around the parking lot that surround my building. They roller skate when the weather is nice, and when that gets tiring, they mark the sidewalks with a rainbow assortment of chalk. The summer rains clean the canvas, so tomorrow’s art will be new.

Now I’m not saying you should give your children scissors, matches, and a knife and then tell them to go play in traffic. I’m suggesting that allowing them the independence to make their own leisure time decisions teaches them to prioritize and encourages budding time management skills. I require an hourly check in, and ensure that there are consequences when the timing requirements are not met.

I consider this playtime as an introduction to economics, only instead of manipulating money, my children are learning to negotiate something far more valuable:  responsibility for themselves.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Sometimes I forget what it is to be Galactically Bada**

These are the times when I’m racing and training hard, and for a short time I start valuing myself based on pace, time, speed and distance.

These are the variables I enjoy manipulating and adding to my Training Log. These are easily mistaken as the important variables when assessing health.

If I’m fit, I’m healthy – and the measure of that is how fast I can ride my bike for 37 miles... right?


SO if I can’t make my mark, achieve my goal, keep up with *this person or *that person, I must be *less of a person... Right?


While it feels good to ride a working paceline with “The Big Boys” at 23 mph on a busy road, tricked out in our Bada** GOTR/LOTL jerseys, the PACE is not the reason I am galactic.

The times I am at my most galactic are when I work with another runner or cyclist to make a better experience for both of us.

Anyone can be faster.
Anyone can train.

Not anyone can cultivate a group of friends to ride and run with on any given weekend. Not anyone can understand that there are days when the splits are less important than the company.

The miles aren’t always about the miles per hour, and it’s when I lose that detail that I start to feel frustrated, unhappy or stressed by my training program.

Today I logged another beautiful morning ride with one of my dearest friends, a beautiful Ladies of the Lanes teammate. We savored the miles. We never once checked our Garmins for pace, because we were not out to race each other. We were not out there to race anyone.

We were out to enjoy our morning, working together, to improve our shared experience.

That’s what the foundation of GBA** is built upon.

Friday, August 23, 2013

An Open Letter to 22 Year Old Girls Everywhere

Dear 22 year old Girls,

Don’t try so hard.

You are beautiful no matter what you are wearing. You are 22. By definition, 22 year olds are beautiful to pretty much everyone.

And before you get on your, “she’s just jealous because I’m young” box, you can #STFU. 

I’m still young enough. I still get asked out by men almost every day. Seriously. And despite that “ask out” statistic, it may surprise you to learn that I never go out in public wearing only a sports bra and shorts unless I am going to log 6 or more miles and it’s 80 degrees with high humidity.

I was at a theme park this weekend, and a concert a few weeks ago, and at those two venues I saw many beautiful women in their late teens and early twenties dressed like back-up dancers in a music video for an up and coming artist.

I suppose there are times when that attire is appropriate.

For example, it's ok to wear this when you are actually working as a back-up dancer in a music video for an up and coming artist. Otherwise, that outfit isn’t going to fly as socially appropriate for 364 days of the year.

I’ll be the first to admit, many of the women sporting the “leopard print sports bra, denim shorts and high-top sneakers” look had rocking figures. They pulled off the look with toned bodies you could bounce a quarter off of, and yes, the men noticed too.

Men from every age group were staring at the beautiful exposed skin of these girls.

But all I kept thinking when I saw them was this: Girls, if you want to attract a man with whom you will share a meaningful and emotionally fulfilling relationship, maybe don’t start by dressing like a hooker.

Also, if your shorts are so short that the "crease" of your cheek isn't covered, your shorts are too short to wear out of the bedroom. Fo' Shizzle. Unless you're a prostitute, and you need to make rent. In that case, probably they're Ok.

While on the topic, don’t look around and think the girls who are dressed like hookers are getting boyfriends you would want. They might have boys who linger in their presence for a blink of time, but they are just boys.

Yes, I am saying it flat out: The men women attract while dressed-up as prostitutes are not quality men.

A woman who understands “understated sexy” attire for 364 days of the year is far sexier than the one who’s always dressing like it’s Halloween. On Halloween it’s socially acceptable to pull out the leopard print and feel free to dress like a back up dancer in a music video.

The other days of the year, I suggest that clothing should be treated like gift-wrap. The gift inside is a mystery, and it is worth waiting till Christmas to untie the bow.

Most men will even tell you, the anticipation of unwrapping this particular “present” is is almost as fun as any “gift” it contains.

Of course, the men who are picking up the girls wearing skimpy socially inappropriate clothing are just looking for something quick and easy. They like to celebrate Christmas Year Round. They’re the ones who tore through the wrapping paper in a frenzy as kids.

You know what else they were?

They were the ones who finished opening the gift, saw what it was, and set it aside to tear into the next gift without appreciating what they’d received.

Forget a Thank You note, they had no idea who had given them what.

I’m not saying to save yourself for Mr Right. I’m not preaching Abstinence. I’m preaching Self Respect.

There are a whole crew of blogs out there screaming the whole “Why buy the Cow when you can get the Milk free” theory... Cow? Free..? No, I never liked that analogy.

We aren’t cows. This isn’t milk. We are women, and these are our bodies.  And they’re worth a hell of a lot more than $3.80 a gallon.

A Mom who’s Not Really a Prude, Just Concerned

Thursday, August 22, 2013

have the BEST idea for a blog post...

it's not going all that well though.

Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. --- Gene Fowler

Friday, August 16, 2013

Less is More

Have you ever wondered if you’re the person reading Runner’s World or Triathlete Magazine or The Internet who is missing ALL the important details, and picking up only the wisdom that doesn’t apply to you at all?

I don’t wonder any more.
I know.

“It says here that Almonds are a health food.”
“I don’t think they mean for you to eat a pound of almonds a week.”


“I don’t worry about over training because I don’t work out that much.”
“How much do you work out?”
“5-6 days a week at 50- 60 minutes a day on the week days and 2-3 hours on the weekend days.”
“That is a lot.... Who works out more than you? I mean, what are you basing this on?”
“My friends are all IronmenWomen & Marathoners... so....”
“Omg, you are so weird."


“Well, I thought if I dropped some weight I might be less injury prone,” I said to a medical professional who happens to be a Triathlete of epic proportion.
“Uh, WHAT? Where did you get that idea?”
“um... Runners World?”
“That applies to people who are obese and take up running. So... no. You ...” exasperated sigh, “YOU need to eat better to be less injury prone.”

And so, as though a light bulb went on at the exact right moment, I realized recently that I have a history of working out a lot more than I need to be even when I’m not training. Not going to say, “too much”, because there’s definitely a threshold for every athlete that is higher for some and lower for others. Constantly pushing myself at that level wasn't helping me build a base, it was breaking me down so that I was coming into my "actual training" with muscle tears and injury.

Lately, because of my summer schedule and vacationing, I have missed a few workouts.
A lot of workouts. 

I’ve been hiking, playing with kids, painting bedrooms, building sand castles, sleeping in, reading a novel... or five.

And let me tell you, my body LOVES having an extra day off every week. Fo’ Shizzle. In some respects, I look better and feel better than I ever did when I was working out 6 or 7 days a week in the name of fitness. That’s not to say I’m as strong as I was... no way. I’m not buff and rippling and able to scale a 40 foot rock wall.

I’m just lighter. And less stressed. Maybe those two things are the same thing.
I love having that pressure to "Get It Done" removed.
And so does my body.

Of course, yeah... I’m jonesing for a 26.2 fix even as I type this...  but until I’m ready to commit to the training, and accept the stress and responsibility that comes with it, I need to just keep my eye on the long-term picture. 
And right now, that means an extra day or two of rest every week.

'Cos sometimes less is more.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On Being Grateful

Last semester I stumbled upon a write up by Robert Emmons. He offers everyday tips for living a life of gratitude. Nursing school and parenting stress, as well as the stress of handling a divorce are really something that can make a person feel a little less than grateful to be alive. However, the joy of running, the wind biting my cheeks as I push my bike to new speeds, the burning in my muscles and lungs when I achieve a zen moment on my swim all remind me that to be alive and surrounded by your people is the greatest gift of all.

So, I set about trying a 6 month test of what really happens when one takes some tips on gratefulness that they found on the internet, and applies them to one's life. I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen, but certainly I felt that this was an experiment that couldn't hurt. Worse case, I lose interest and stop doing it.

In that time my life was not all peaches and cream. I became very ill, sustained a running injury that took me out of my sport, handled the day to day stress of Nursing School, and, have I mentioned I have a teenage daughter?

The results were profound. Or, at least, from my perspective. I definitely feel more optimistic on life. I find joy in simple things, feel grateful for what I have, and very rarely look around and wish for more. There are times I am financially pinched, but I look around and recognize that my financial pinch is still pretty freaking spoiled.

I not only feel better about my life, but other people often comment on how happy I am, or how happy I appear to be "from the outside". And why wouldn't I be happy? I have a great life.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. I keep this blog, and I have tried in the past several months to record things that are not just for the "value" of the lesson (i.e. - if you train this way you will see those results), but also to record some of the joy I find in my day to day life.

2. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. This is tricky. One has to remember the bad without getting sucked into it. This was/is a great way for me to remember how far I've come in a relatively short time.

3. Come to Your Senses.Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. I do this often. I try to savor the sights and smells of my bike rides or running routes. I taste the salt in the air at the beach. I stop on the side of the road in NY to sample Maple Syrup because that is something I can do. It's a visceral experience, your body inwardly tells you that you are in a good place when pure maple syrup is sliding down your throat, energizing your sense of taste in a way that Mrs Butterworth cannot... 

4. Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf. I have a friend in my life who is always thanking me for being me. It's taken some getting used to, but I like it. This friend reminds me, daily, that saying thank you, expressing my blessings, taking joy in another #bestdayever is a way for me to practice using my grateful language.

5. Go Through the Motions. If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude. There are times I just don't feel grateful. I don't feel like writing in my blog about how schmoopy I am over my sweet children, because I'm discouraged or stressed. These are the times when I remember one of my nursing school buddies, Alex. She likes to say, "Fake it till you Make it", and she's right. The days I feel low, I try harder to capture the joy of the moment and smile. I smile and thank the girl at Kroger by name, because sometimes it's easier to "make their day", rather than make mine. Try it. The Grocery Clerk will thank you for it. Often, it makes my day too.

There are many more tips than this, but these are the Five I practice and how I practice them. If I could add a 6th, it would be to Feel empowered to make Changes. If you don't like how things are going, if you wish that you could have a better job or more education, or be a stronger runner, or do 100 push-ups, start today. Whether you start today or wait, the time will still pass.