Category Archives: On the “D” word

On Divorce

What the Heart Needs

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It’s the middle of February and Valentine’s Day is upon us, so you can probably guess what this post is about. Yes, Love.  But before you roll your eyes, or run away screaming, just bear with me for a bit.  I guarantee I’m not going where you think I am with that.

I’m not gonna lie, the first 6 weeks of 2016 have been tough. I didn’t even blend a family and I can tell you that this blended family thing is haaaaard.  Going through a divorce, hard.  Learning to be a single parent, hard.  Helping my kids (and myself) through the transition of their dad getting remarried, I had no idea.

I’ve been saying it all along, my head knows that nothing, absolutely NO-THING, can replace me as my kiddos’ mom. My head has had that thought on repeat for the past couple of months.  I just wish my heart would catch up to the idea.  Every other Thursday when my babies leave for the weekend with their dad, my heart breaks a little, knowing that they are not only spending that time with their dad, but also growing a relationship with another mother figure.

Don’t get me wrong, I WANT them to have a relationship with their step-mom. And I want them to be close with her.  But I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt somewhat.

So, as we’ve been riding the rollercoaster of learning how to do this, I’ve tried to remind myself to find what my heart needs.

A couple weeks ago, knowing that I needed a break from the familiar everyday reminders of what life is now, Brian and I loaded up the car for a weekend in the woods. We drove to Table Rock Lake and spent a blissful weekend, with shockingly high temps for January, hiking, watching the sunset, playing pool and ping-pong (I went down gloriously at both) and sitting by the fireplace drinking wine.  It was perfect.  It was exactly what my heart, and my head, needed.

While it would be really nice to just jump in the car and drive to a cabin in the woods whenever I felt the anxiety or the sadness or the frustration start to overwhelm me, that’s just not realistic. Fortunately, I do have an old friend, that never lets me down when I need a break from reality.  His name is running.  He will go the distance with me, or if I don’t have time for a long visit, short and sweet works for him too.  The other day, we got another brief break from the cold of January, and while I only had time for 3 short miles, running came through.  It was one of those perfect experiences where my feet felt light, my lungs felt full and my heart felt happy.

So, back to the whole Valentine’s Day thing. February 14, to a lot of people, is really just another day.  A Hallmark Holiday. I totally get that.  But for me, it’s undeniably special.  This Sunday, while couples all over the world are exchanging flowers and chocolates (Yes, I have something for my sweetie, too) I will actually be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the day I became a mom.

I say all the time that God knew exactly what he was doing when He gave me Ally first. I also say that if Silas had been first, he would probably be an only child, but that’s beside the point.

Ally becomes a teenager on Sunday. My baby girl, who was the best Valentine ever, is about to turn 13.  With this milestone, it’s hard not to be even more reflective that usual.  13 is a big deal.

But here’s the hard part. This Sunday, Ally will wake up at my house and we’ll have cake for breakfast cause that’s how we roll.  And then she will go back to her dad’s and spend the rest of the day there, because that’s how the custody schedule works.

Fortunately, I get tomorrow with her, so we’ll get pedicures and drink Starbucks and I will probably even take her shopping (her choice, not mine). I’ve wrapped her presents and I’m working on her requested One Direction birthday cake.  I’m open to ideas on that one.  Anyone?

But then she will go and spend the rest of the weekend with her other family, the one I’m not a part of. I will be ok.  This is something that it took me a while to get used to, because anyone who knows me at all, knows that I LOVE Birthdays.  Seriously, I love them.  I make a huge deal out of them.  My mom always does the same, so I come by it honestly.  But I will be ok.  Because I know what my heart needs.  My heart just needs to be reminded that I am her mom and I always will be.

There’s a quote by Elizabeth Stone that goes, “Making a decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

My heart turns 13 on Sunday, and even though she won’t be with me all day, she will be well loved, by many. I can’t help but think about the song I used to sing to her as a baby.  I would sit and hold her and sing to her.  I would keep singing long after her eyes would close and she would drift off to sleep.

The song begins, “You’re a little piece of heaven, You’re a golden ray of light, And I wish I could protect you from the worries of this life…”

Since I can’t sing you the whole song, you can check it out here.

She’s still my little piece of heaven, and now she is a BOLD golden ray of light that shines brighter all the time. No matter how old she gets, I will always want to protect her.  As she crosses the threshold of 13, I know that so many heartbreaks are right around the corner for her, but she is strong and I will walk with her through anything.  I could not be more proud of the person she is and who she is becoming.  She is so beautiful, inside and out.  She is smart, and determined, and loving, and thoughtful and she is not afraid to stand up for herself.

I know my heart will be ok, because even when it wonders off, it always comes back. And I know who is holding my heart in His hands.  Because He knows what my heart needs even before I do.

There are seasons in life that are hard, it’s just that simple. But even during those times, the heart will find what it needs if you let it.  It’s in the moments when the sun is shining, or when the wind is at your back, when your feet feel light and your heart is happy.  Eventually it will be 13 years later and you’ll look back to realize you don’t even remember the pain, all you can see is the beauty that came from it.  And all that remains is love.

Happy 13th Birthday, Little Al.

Happy 13th Birthday, beautiful girl.

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Learning to Navigate the Weird

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Running in negative 14 degrees and watching your spit freeze in mid-air…weird, right? A few days later, running in shorts and short sleeves, in January, in Missouri…also weird.

The word ‘weird’ has been thrown around a lot at my house lately, and in my head.

During a conversation with Ally just after Christmas, it occurred to her that there were people living in her other house (her dad’s house) while she wasn’t there. “Weird.” She said.

After the first day of being back at school, “Hey Ethan, how was it having Miles (new step-brother) in your class?” “Weird” was his response.

Seeing my kids’ new step mom also in the drop off and/or pick up line each day…Weird. Even weirder…being out for a run on Thursday afternoon and knowing that she was picking them up instead of me.

It has occurred to me that we use the word weird, when we aren’t really sure what other word to use.

Yesterday Brian and I bundled up and went over to brave the cold at Castlewood to get our first look at the post-flood version of our favorite park. Driving in was certainly weird, as I kept telling him various places that I had seen pictures of that had been completely under water.  Even the spot we parked in had been submerged just a couple weeks ago.  There were still remnants of puddles in lower lying areas, but for the most part, the ground was dry.  At first glance, things appeared normal, but that eventually changed as we went deeper into the woods.

We hiked up Lone Wolf Hill and walked along the bluffs. The height up there allows for a good overview, which also gave the appearance of things being mostly back to normal.  When we approached the stairs, I mentioned to B about a picture I had seen of the water being way up into the massive staircase.  Hard to believe, especially since the water has since receded into the confines of the river banks.  As we sat for a moment at the bottom of the stairs, watching a red-headed woodpecker just overhead, an older fellow came by and said, “A couple weeks ago, you would have been sitting under water right there.”  Weird.

As we went through the tunnel that goes under the train tracks and popped out on the other side by the trail that runs along the river, I started to get my first glimpses of the changes that had taken place. To the average person who had only been there once or twice, I’m sure those changes wouldn’t have been noticeable.  But to those of us who have made this park a second home, they are glaringly obvious.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but there was a time when I felt more comfortable being lost in the woods out there than I felt in my own house.  Weird.

“Woah” I said when I noticed how the massive erosion had washed the rocks from beside the train tracks down over a signpost, almost covering it. And again when I saw that part of the trail was now completely gone.  Vanished.  Weird.

We turned right to head out into the flats to see how far we could get before we might be forced to turn around due to mud, or possibly still flooding. The tiny, little, almost invisible stump that B tripped over about a year and half ago, injuring his rib, was still there.  However, if he were to fall the same way now, he would have ended up in the water.  The path had eroded and narrowed considerably.

B kept pulling sticks out of trees, sticks that had likely floated into the tree branches weeks before. We came across a pile of saw dust, evidence of someone with a chainsaw clearing the path of some of the bigger obstacles…entire trees that had floated down the river and been deposited in a new location.  As we got to the flats, we had to climb over a tree to continue.  Shortly after that we decided to turn around and go back along the river.  When we got back to the stairs we ran into my friend Lara, we talked briefly, but we started getting cold standing still, so we parted ways knowing that we would reconvene at the tri club party later.

As we continued along the river, familiar places looked totally different. From where I am sitting right now in my house, I can see a picture of my kiddos framed and hanging on the wall.  It was one of the first pictures I had taken to fill my new home.  It’s the 3 of them, smiling, sitting on a huge downed tree right by the path B and I were on.  That tree is now almost completely gone.  As I noticed how different the trail looked, I thought of that picture, and it made me kind of sad.

“This is so weird.” I kept saying, trying to wrap my mind around the fact that this was even the same place.  “New territory to explore, new trails,” he said.  I smiled.  While that’s true, there are parts of Castlewood that are almost unrecognizable to me now because of the changes that have transpired.  There were parts that the old brush had been completely washed away, and parts that looked more like a tornado had gone through depositing so much debris up in the tree that it looked like a fort.

I’ve been struggling lately with the unfairness of the world. Having lost 2 friends to cancer, less than three weeks apart, who knew each other, I am having a hard time accepting that their children will have to grow up without their moms.  And when I think about how weird that my kids have another mother figure in their lives that isn’t me, what I am really thinking of is…it’s not fair.  Now, I don’t want to be someone who whines all the time about ‘It’s not fair’, but the reality is, it’s not.  I say to my kids all the time when they are unhappy about the fairness of some situation that parental line, “Sometimes life isn’t fair.”  No one ever promised us that it would be fair all the time, but sometimes what we mean when we say something is ‘weird’, what we really mean is…it’s not fair.  It’s not normal.  It’s different. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  And honestly, when we realize that, it hurts.  It hurts a lot.

So, what do I do with that? How do I navigate the unfair?  Sometimes I grieve it, sometimes I call it weird and keep on moving, sometimes I have to look a little deeper to figure out what’s really changed.  And what do I do with the weird?  Well, I cry when I need to.  I hug B and my kids, sometimes more than they probably want to be hugged.  And I just keep doing the best I can with it, until the weird becomes the new normal.  And I remember that even though the trail is still in the same place, there was no way it was always going to look the same.  Some of the same little details are there, some of the big things are now missing.  There are some places where someone paved the way by clearing some of the larger obstacles and there are some places where the path has narrowed and made the trek significantly more challenging.  But I’ll climb over things, or swing from vines (yes, I actually did this yesterday.  B shook his head at me, but I laughed despite hurting myself) and I’ll do whatever I need to do to get back to where I need to be.

Fact: I am the old wife. There is another who has taken my place in that role.  Also fact:  I cannot ever be replaced in my more important roles.  There is some truth to the saying ‘Out with the old and in with the new’, but if you didn’t know what it looked like before, how would you even know it was new now?

Just like Castlewood, I have weathered the storm and I am not the same as I was before. But this won’t be the last storm, and I will be forced to change again.  The old plus the storms equal the new.  And just like B said, that gives us new territory to explore, and new territory equals new experiences. I am being refined in the fire, and being made new.

So now what? Is it weird that I find myself wanting to be friends with the new wife?  Maybe.  But wouldn’t it be even weirder if I didn’t want to forge a relationship with the other person who will be nurturing and helping to raise my children?  The other person who is listed as their emergency contact?  The other person who has the word mom in her title? I think so.  But maybe I’m just weird.

This is the photo of my kiddos from Castlewood on that tree.  The tree may be changed, but so are we.

This is the photo of my kiddos from Castlewood on that tree. The tree may be changed, but so are we.

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Welcome Back to the Unknown

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Ya know those moments in life where you’re just kinda cruising along and you start thinking to yourself, “Hey, I’m doing alright. I totally got this.”  And then there’s a shift in the wind and suddenly you’re like, “Oh, wait…Welcome to the unknown”   Or should I say, welcome back to the unknown?

I’ve been a single mom for a little over three years now. It’s been a bigger challenge than I ever could have imagined.  But I have my days where I’m like, “Oh yeah, I ‘ve got this down.  I’m totally kicking butt. No problem.”  Our weekly schedule is a little crazy, especially on Wednesdays when it looks like this: Out the door by 7:45am with lunches in hand and the crockpot set for dinner, drop the kids at school by 8, drive the hour in traffic to the Central West End and pray that I can find rock star street parking not more than a few blocks from the hospital, walk (or run) into Siteman for my externship hours, at the stroke of 4:00 bolt back to the car, the kids have been picked up by a friend and dropped at home for Ally to be in charge until I get there, drive the hour back to Wildwood, burst in the door (by 5pm if I’m lucky) hoping that homework is done and Silas is at least partially changed for soccer practice, change clothes, sign off on homework, shovel food down the kids throats, try to remember to eat something myself, leave again by 5:40 to get Silas to practice in the valley by 6 (tonight we snuck a quick stop in to their grandparents’ house to pick up some of Ally’s forgotten items), drive across the valley to drop Ally at the church for youth group, drive back over to the ballfields so I can get in a quick couple miles before practice ends at 7:15, drive home, put Silas in the shower, clean up the kitchen, finish the homework, go pick Ally up from youth group by 8:30 (I lucked out tonight and she got a ride home), get Silas into bed, get Ethan into bed, sink down into a chair somewhere and finally take a breath.

Wow. That’s a day.  But I’ve gotten somewhat accustomed to the craziness and doing it *mostly* on my own.  I’ve very thankful for my villiagers who help how they can.  But I’m used to being on a minute to minute schedule most days.  And, if I do say so myself, I’m doing alright.  Not perfect mind you, but alright.  I’m keeping the boat afloat.

So here we are going along, doing our thing, but yesterday Silas threw me for a little bit of a loop. After not seeing the kids all weekend, I arrived home to hugs and chaos.  After about a minute, Silas said, “Hey Mom!  Guess whaaaaat?” with the last part of the word going up a few notes in that sing-songy way that kids do when they want to spill the beans.

“What?”

“We have some news!”

My mind was spinning with, ‘Oh please let him say he lost another tooth, or they had pizza for lunch, or something…’ but I already knew what he was about to say.

“On Saturday…Dad engaged Katie!” He was beaming.  I was too, just because of how cute he was with his verbiage.

“Oh yeah? Your dad proposed to Katie? Are you excited?”

“Yes!”

I sat with that a minute. I wasn’t surprised in the least.  Even though they started dating around March of this year, I fully expected things would go quickly.  Call it gut instinct, women’s intuition, whatever.  I really was ok with it.  But I’m still processing the fact that my kids are about to have several members added to their family, people who I really don’t even know.  That’s kind of weird.  Kind of like that change in the wind I mentioned earlier.  Katie currently lives in Iowa with her 3 kids.  They will be married and moved in by Christmas.  Maybe instead of a light breeze, that’s more like a big gust.

Tonight after dropping Ally at youth group I drove back over to the Chesterfield Athletic complex where Silas was at practice. I had plans to get in a couple miles on the levee if I could scrounge up a headlamp in the car. I pulled the car into an empty space, pilfered through the running bag I keep in back, scored a headlamp with non-dead batteries and had all of 35 minutes until practice would end. It was still light enough when I started but the sun was already beneath the horizon, so I knew it was only a matter of time.  My first mile out, with the wind at my back, seemed easy and my feet cruised along the old familiar path.  At a mile and a half, I turned back to wind in my face and it got darker with each step.  I turned on the headlamp, which helped a little, but since I was also wearing a visor, some of the light was blocked.  Oh well, I would adjust.  I was dealing with the challenges, but I was still doing just fine.  My mind went back to a conversation with Ethan last night at bed time.

As I was tucking him in, he was telling me that Katie’s youngest would be in his class since they are less than a year apart in age.

I said, “You’re pretty excited, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” He responded. After a pause, he leaned over the top bunk to look at me, with a big smile and concerned eyes, he asked, “Are you, Mom?  Are you excited?”

“Am I…um, what? Excited?  Uh…”  I admit I wasn’t very graceful in the moment, I mean how in the world do you answer that?  But I recovered fairly quickly.  “Bud, if you are happy, then I am happy.  I’m glad you are excited.”

He smiled. I smiled.  Then I kissed him on the top of his head, as is our custom, and said “Good-night, bud, I love you.”

So, during my run tonight, I was thinking. Am I excited?  No, that’s not the word.  How do I feel? I’m not upset in any way.  It’s weird, for sure, to think about it.  And like I said, I’m still processing.  But I’m ok.  It creates a new dynamic, like wind or running in the dark, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.  It will take some getting used to, but we’ll adjust and in time it will just be what we’re all used to.

As Silas’ team came back into view, the lights of the field were much brighter than my headlamp. I could see them down on the field, running, playing, having fun.  And I thought, “I really do just want my kids to be happy and taken care of.   And if they have one more person (or several) in their lives to love them, then that just adds to their happiness.  As a single parent, all you can really hope for is that if your former spouse finds someone to share your children with, that this new person is good to your kids.  It’s the ultimate in letting go of control.  And it’s ok if I’m not always graceful when I feel like I’m running into the wind, in the dark.  I’ll adjust, and recover, and keep going.

As I neared the end of my run, I found myself praying…

God, help me with forgiveness. Help me continue to let go of what I thought my life should look like and help me to be gracious, always. God, Bless the union that is going to bring two families together and please protect my babies in that.  And God…bless the woman who is about to take on the new challenge of being a step-mother to my 3 amazing kiddos, carry her as she enters unfamiliar territory.  And guide her when she feels like she’s alone in the dark.  Show her grace and mercy and remind her that she isn’t alone.

As I prayed I noticed a lump forming in my throat. I know exactly what to pray for her, because it’s what I pray for me all the time.

It’s tough to run and cry at the same time, it really just makes you start to hyperventilate.

And God…please help me to remember to breathe.

 

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What I Wish Everyone Knew About the “D” word

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I’ve seriously tried to write this post a handful of times over the past couple weeks.  Every time I start, I get stuck.  The words won’t come but the tears do, so I have to set it aside for a while.  Hopefully this will be the time that I will finally say what I need to so I can move on. And hopefully I can say it eloquently, so it doesn’t sound like I’m whining or judging.

My frustration is not for nothing.  The topic here is one that no one particularly likes to talk about.  It usually involves hushed tones, guilt, shame.  It’s taboo.  It feels like the unforgivable sin.  It’s the “d word”.

Here’s what I wish everyone knew about divorce.  Very simply, please stop referring to it as “the easy way out”.  Please.  I implore you.

I assure you there is absolutely nothing easy about divorce.  There is nothing easy about coming to the decision of ending your marriage.  There is nothing easy about going through with it.  There is nothing easy about spending thousands of dollars on someone to help you split your assets, and more importantly the time with your children.  There is nothing easy about coming home to an empty house when you used to be a full time family.  There is nothing easy about being both mother and father in a household.  There is nothing “easy” about any of it.  And until you’ve been through it, which I don’t wish on anyone, you really have no idea what this road of uncertainty looks like, or how to navigate it.

I’ve heard it said that the stress caused by divorce is equivalent to losing a loved one.  I think every situation is different, but I’ve lost enough people I love to know that major life changes are hard.  Death is a natural part of life and there is a grieving process involved.  Typically during that process, people reach out in love, offering to help relieve the pain, even if just for a little while.  Death is extremely painful to deal with, and there usually isn’t a choice involved.

I guess that with divorce, because there is a choice, at least usually by one of the parties involved, people don’t feel as much of a need to reach out in that same empathetic, caring way.  It’s viewed as, you’re choosing this, you’re…giving up.  You failed.

In a divorce, no one wins. If the marriage was the first or the fifth, if it lasted a year or a decade or more, if it produced children or not, if you filed or you were served, I can tell you that regardless of all of those things, it sucks.  It sucks for everyone involved.  I’ve only been through it once, but I know without a doubt that I don’t want to go through it again.  I don’t want my kids to have to go through it again.

I know that anyone who told me to “try harder” or “be loyal” probably wasn’t aware that I’d had those same conversations over and over with myself in my own head for years before I ever finally voiced the “d word” out loud as a possibility.  I mean, for crying out loud, I completed a 15 hour race.  I am not a quitter by any means.  I am someone who knows how to push through and persevere.  But sometimes, we have to look at the options and see that while we don’t particularly like either of the outcomes, we have to choose the one that makes the most sense for us.  By “us” I mean each of us, as individuals.

The more I tried to retreat to a place of safety to process what my needs were, the more I was bombarded with the pleas to stay.  Pleas that came from every direction.  Everyone wanted to be the one to fix it, to fix me. When what I really needed was space, quiet, and sometimes someone to just hold my hand and let me grieve that the life I had planned for myself had gone way off track.

But the pleas were so loud it was hard to hear the muffled sound of myself trying to find my own voice.  A voice that had been buried for so long that the only way to find it again was to go down a road that some people, not everyone, deem “the easy route”.  Somehow I found my voice and it said, “This.  This is what’s best for me.  Go this direction.”

We are human.  We are not perfect.  But we are also not meant to do life alone.  Last week in church, Pastor Greg went back to the familiar story in Genesis.  He talked about how God created Adam and it was not good for him to be alone.  So from Adam’s very own rib, He created Eve.  And He presented her to Adam as a gift.  God gave them the gift of each other.  And it is for that reason that a man should leave his father and mother to be one with his wife.  Our creator wants us to be united to another.

But what happens when that unity doesn’t last forever?  Well, then you run out into the rainy parking lot after the service is over to retrieve the kids’ backpacks so you can pass them off to the other parent who will have them for the next couple days.  And then you wonder, as you are standing there in the lobby of Kids Crossing holding all the gear, if it is as painfully obvious to everyone else that you are in the midst of “the swap”.

But what else really happens after the papers are signed?  You continue to do the best you can with the situation you’re in.  You keep seeking to find an identity that doesn’t include a marital status.  You go on about your life knowing that the daily struggles are many, which is true regardless of whether you are married or not.  Sure it would be easier if we could all claim a loving, caring, supportive spouse, but even of those marriages in existence that isn’t always the case.

I have so many friends that have come to me in the past few months with questions about where they want their marriage to go.  Somehow going through the “d word” has made me an expert on a topic that I never wanted to know about.  I wish some of these friends would stay together, I think others are better off apart, but I hope they all do due diligence to make sure they’ve done everything they can.  I know none of them just woke up one day and decided “That’s it.  Peace out.”  It takes time to get to the point of brokenness that results in the d word.  But the fact remains, I am not in any of their marriages, so I really don’t know what it looks like to the two of them.  I need to keep my own baggage in check and not drag it out into their story.

I’ve dealt with my baggage.  And I’m continuing to deal with it.  But the truth is, it’s still hard.  Even after almost 3 years, I still have daily challenges because of it.  Some are obvious, some less so.  And for a large portion of that time I’ve been in a relationship with a pretty fantastic fella.  I’d like to think I don’t project any of my junk onto him, but chances are, sometimes it gets in the way, whether I’m aware of it or not.

I think I’ve been pretty successful at the single mom thing.  I have a job.  I’ve kept a roof over our heads.  I get the kids to their activities on time (mostly).  I feed them (sometimes with fast food).  I’m proud of the people they are becoming.  I’m proud of the person I am becoming.

But I still get lonely.  I still miss my kids.  I still get sad when they go on vacations without me.  I still don’t like being the one to pay the bills each month and have to deal with the financial stuff.  I still wish I had a spouse I could pass some of the responsibility off to every once in a while, especially when something breaks.  I still sometimes think about being a traditional family unit, and I miss it.

I don’t regret the choice I made, but this certainly isn’t where I thought I would end up when my dad walked me down the aisle almost 15 years ago.  Every time we are presented with a choice, we are at a fork in the road, but the options are not labeled “hard” and “easy”.  Either direction we choose will present its own set of challenges.  And unless you’re on a specific path, you really have no idea what those challenges will be.  So, here I am, on this path, I’m sure its easier than some.  And I’m figuring it out as I go.  Just like everybody else.  Some days are smooth, some days aren’t. I’ll take the obstacles as they come.  And I’ll just keep going.

What’s the saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? I guess if you want to come take a spin in my shoes to see how easy it is, you’re more than welcome to.  I mean, I work at a running store.  I do have a few extra pairs.

 

*One additional note, tomorrow would be my parents 43rd wedding anniversary.  I know that in the almost 30 years that they had together, they had their share of challenges.  But I am thankful for their example of what a healthy marriage looks like.  I don’t know if I will ever have a marriage like theirs, but I know that if I do, it will transcend time and space and even death.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your example of love.

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Confessions of a Single Mom…

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I really believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Being a single parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

I can be very resourceful.

I love being the girl who knows how to fix stuff.

Sometimes I forget to pay a bill on time.

Sometimes I remember about the bill, but it’s late anyway because I don’t have enough in my bank account to cover it.

I freak out when I can’t find a sitter to watch my kids so that I can go to work.

I’ve had to take at least one kid with me to work and have him hang out in the back room with the ipad.

I am so grateful for my awesome neighbor, Stephanie, who sometimes watches my kids and then she makes it seem like I pay her back when I watch her daughter for 10 minutes.

Sometimes when I’m stressed I yell at my kids.

I immediately feel guilty when I yell at my kids.

Sometimes I let my kids eat popcorn and ice cream for dinner because I just don’t have the energy to prepare anything.

I am always tired.

I stay up way too late, even though I’m always tired.

It’s possible to feel lonely in a house full of noisy children.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have sucked it up and stayed in an unhappy marriage, just so I wouldn’t be so lonely.

I miss my kids when they go to their dad’s.

Sometimes I get can’t wait to give the kids back to their dad, so I can have a break.

Even though I chose this life, sometimes the loneliness is almost unbearable.  I mean, I’m talking sit in the car in the garage to avoid going into an empty house lonely.  Like, wrap up in a blanket and fall asleep on the couch with the TV on to avoid going upstairs to an empty bed lonely.

Last night I did both of those.  This morning I woke up with an overwhelming, oppressive sadness.  I had a hard time kicking it.  It took a 15 mile bike ride and a 6 mile run before I finally figured out what my problem was.  As I stood in the kitchen, leaning against the counter, eating my lunch which consisted of last night’s leftovers warmed up in a take-out box (are you envisioning Diane Lane at this point?), it finally struck me.  Today would be my 13th wedding anniversary.

13 years ago today, I woke up surrounded by people I love.  I was lying next to Amy.  And Britta was in the bed next to us.  My best friends in the world.  We were at my parent’s house in Michigan.  I remember my mom coming in to the room for something, maybe just to see if I was awake yet on my wedding day.  I’m pretty sure my dad was in the kitchen making French toast.  My sister was likely tending to my niece, MacKenzie, and my brother was there somewhere.  I woke up to a house full of people I love.

Today, I woke up to an empty house.  No one.  Other than the sound of my ceiling fan, complete silence. It took almost every ounce of energy that I had to drag myself out of bed.  The loneliness was almost physically painful.

I had a fantastic weekend while the kids were away.  I went to Art Hill at Forest Park to drink wine and watch Casablanca with girlfriends on Friday night.  Saturday night after working all day and church, I was a 5th wheel when I met friends in the loop for a round of Bags at Market House Pub, followed by bowling at Pin-Up Bowl.  And after work Sunday, I had dinner with Nicole and Farrell.  So, how is it possible to have such a full schedule and still feel lonely?  I don’t know.  It just is.

For someone who actually craves alone time, it doesn’t really seem like it makes any sense.  But it is what it is.  Tonight after work I get to pick up the kids and drive to Michigan for a few days.  There is nothing better to heal the heart than a few days in New Buffalo.  We’re going to visit my mom, and play at the pool, and go to the beach, and get Shakes at Nancy’s.  And for a few days, my heart will be full to overflowing because of my kiddos.  And on Sunday, they’ll go back to their dad’s.  For a brief moment, I will breathe a sigh of relief.  And I’ll go for a run and enjoy being alone.  And then by Sunday night, I’ll probably feel lonely again.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and I know they would do anything for me, just like I would for them.  But sometimes there are things you just have to do on your own.

As I was finishing up my run today, Britney Spears came on my ipod.  Yeah, that’s right, I said Britney Spears.  Ya wanna make something of it?! Don’t judge me.  Anyway, I listened to the words “My loneliness ain’t killing me no more, I’m stronger than yesterday”.   So, yeah, I’m leaving the loneliness behind me one mile at a time. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to the loneliness that comes along with my kids going back to their dad’s, but I do know that I’m stronger today than I was yesterday.

On the beach in MI with my babies

On the beach in MI with my babies

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19 Miles, or something…

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Today was a weird day.  I ran 19 miles.  On a Tuesday. Who does that?  Well, I do.  Since I didn’t do a long run last weekend, and this was a rare Tuesday that I didn’t have my kids, I figured why not throw a long run in mid-week.  Of course, those 19 miles were basically all I did today.  I had every intention of getting to swimming this morning too, but when I got the email that practice was cancelled due to some bad water, I decided to roll over and go back to sleep.  Which was a fantastic idea in theory, except that my neighbors’ roofers didn’t approve of that plan.  I tried for a while, but eventually gave up and dragged my butt downstairs for some quality time on the couch with my book and a cup of coffee.  I did make a quick trip to the post office later to mail a letter, because yes, sometimes people actually still do that.  And I hit the grocery store since my kids come back to me tomorrow and I had almost nothing to feed them.  But other than that, all I can really say for today is 19 miles.

19 miles.  No rain.  No snow.  Again, weird.  It seems like so many of my long runs lately have been under the duress of less than ideal weather conditions.  However, I am very much looking forward to the days of not having to check the weather on my phone 15 times in making a decision on what to wear.  Will I be over-dressed?  Will I be under-dressed?  Any special accessories like tornado-proof shoes? These hovering cooler temps are getting really old.  I’m so ready to run in shorts and sleeveless all the time, and God help me, I will not complain about the heat this summer.

I started my run today by myself.  I like running by myself, so that’s no big deal.  But after 13.32 miles, I was definitely ready for some company.  Fortunately, I already had a group to meet.  We did a team outing for the new FLEET FEET that is getting ready to open in Des Peres later this month and we ran the social run course that I will have the shared privilege of leading every other week, just like I already do in Chesterfield.  I could not be more excited about it!  But, like I was saying after a little more than 13 miles on my own, the company was more than welcome.  We ran the 5 mile course, which is incredibly hilly, completely the opposite of the Chesterfield social run that is on the levee and flat as a pancake.  Mmmmm, pancakes…

After my solitary 13 through the hills of Wildwood, I was thrilled at the nice slow pace set by the 6 month pregnant chick and the injured dude.  The last time Adam and I ran together was a trail half marathon where he got injured.  We finished just seconds apart and he ended up with a 3rd place age group award, I got nothing.  How is that fair?!  Well, I guess it’s not exactly fair that he’s been injured either.

As we finished up the group run, I asked in my always too loud Lindsey voice, “Who wants to run this last .7 with me to round out my 19?!”  Not surprisingly, I didn’t have any takers.  They said, just run up the road to the bar, we’ll meet you there.  Which is exactly what I did.  And then I proceeded to throw down with a cheeseburger and fries like nobody’s business.  And a couple of Courtney’s hot wings.  Boy, some pancakes sure sound good right now…

Like I’ve already mentioned, it was a weird day.  There’s a season for everything right?  Sometimes we need to do things on our own and sometimes we need others to help pull us through.  I thought it was interesting that I finished those 19 miles alone, just as I had started.  But, that wasn’t the part about today that was ultimately so weird.  2 years ago today, I felt more alone than I ever have in my entire life.  I was at the absolute rockiest part of the bottom.  Things couldn’t get any worse.  I knew my marriage was over.  And the possibility loomed that my life was too.  I was telling a friend today about some of the stuff I was dealing with then, and in response to the question, “How do you even begin to let go of all that pain?” this is how I answered: You spend 29 days under a blanket wanting life to just go away, that’s rock bottom.  And then, you come to the realization that your entire life you’ve been a survivor.  You’ve survived everything that’s been thrown your way.  So you slowly start to pick up the pieces and go forward.  Its slow steps at first, but eventually you find yourself running toward freedom.  And when you finally get there, it’s amazing.

That’s kind of how I feel at the end of every run.  No matter how tired I am, or how slow I’m dragging myself along, at least the last few steps, something stirs and I am able to muster the strength to run like I haven’t just put 19 miles behind me.  Because I am a survivor.  I feel like I am a running to that feeling of freedom and I’ve made it.  It is amazing.  Especially when you get to the end and you get to celebrate with the awesome people who kept you company along the way.  A couple years, or even a couple miles, can make all the difference in the world.

For some reason, after all that, I’ve got a hankering for some pancakes.  Geesh, you’d think I just ran 19 miles, or something.

Adam and RRG post race

Adam and RRG post race

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I Don’t Want To Be

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Today, after I left swimming, I hopped into the car and heard the Gavin Degraw song “I Don’t Want To Be” on the radio.  Which is, by the way, an awesome song.

“I don’t want to be anything other than what I’ve been trying to be lately

All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind

I’m tired of looking round rooms wondering what I’ve gotta do or who I’m supposed to be

I don’t want to be anything other than me”

That song made me think about a conversation I had last night when I met a friend for a drink after work.  Chris and I were talking about the fact that after going through a divorce, you are kind of left stripped of the need to impress people all the time.  Divorce teaches you first hand that you will never be able to please everyone all the time so you might as well surrender the need to try.  You learn how to be more true to yourself than you’ve ever been.   You’re kind of left with this mentality of “This is who I am.  You can take it or leave it, but I’m done trying to be something I’m not.”

It was especially funny to be listening to that song today right after leaving the pool because at swimming I had a startling revelation.  After sitting at the Nissan dealership for considerably longer than I was supposed to this morning for a new set of tires for the Pathfinder, I was going to be late to swimming.  Rather than an hour and a half, I would have barely an hour of pool time.  I started questioning if it was worth it to hurry and get there or if I should scrap it, go home and do yoga.  I decided that since I hadn’t been in the pool for almost 2 weeks, I needed to get in the water.  Weirdly, I had actually missed it and I needed to do some long, slow laps.  I’m now determined to become the Forrest Gump of swimming.  So, today as I was challenging myself to go 1000 meters without stopping, I came to the conclusion that I have maybe, just maybe, started to like swimming.  GAH!  How in the world did that happen?!  I am officially a triathlete.  I am no longer an imposter.  I went the distance, a full 1000 meters in the pool.  Actually, it may have been 1050 meters, because I thought at one point I’d lost count and I didn’t want to cut myself short.  I swam the extra 2 lengths just in case.  But the point is, I did it and I really felt like a swimmer.  And…wait for it…I liked it.

That’s the cool part.  At my core, I’m still the same old Lindsey.  But my identity is ever changing.  I’ve always kind of considered myself to be a “jack of all trades, master of none”, so why shouldn’t I be a triathlete?  I don’t have to be great at all of it, but since I enjoy all of it, why not?  Don’t get me wrong, my first love still is and always will be 26.2, but, as much as I’ve resisted it, I have this new part of me now too.  The part that is a swimmer.  The part that is a triathlete.  I am multi-faceted.  And not just in regards to sports.

Swimming has taught me so much about myself.  It’s teaching me about conquering fears and about continuing to improve myself, both as an athlete and as a person.  I made the initial attempt at triathlons, just to take on a new challenge and look where that brought me.  Just like in life, it’s important to continue evolving.  Whether you’re married, divorced, single, gay, straight, a parent, whatever, we all change over time.  The key is to know who you are and be true to that.  As Gavin sings, “Part of knowing where I’m going is knowing where I’m coming from.”  I know where I was when I wasn’t being true to myself and I don’t want to go back to that.  But now, I know who I am, I’m happy with me and I’m happy with where I’m headed.

RRG playing the part of the Triathlete

RRG playing the part of the Triathlete

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A confession…

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I am obsessed with movies.  All movies.  Comedies.  Classics.  Action.  Drama.  Musicals.  You name it.

My brother and I actually have a secret language.  We speak movie lines.  We do this so often that sometimes people who know us well will hear us talking and say, “What movie is that from?”  And one of us will respond, “It’s not.  I just said it.”  I can also speak this language with the rest of my immediate family, my cousins, other extended family members, and the occasional non-Jacobs clan foreigner.

Disclaimer: I will only say this once, and only once, if anyone attempts to make fun of me for what I am about to say, you are taking your life into your own hands…I will plead temporary insanity. But here’s my confession.  I have a secret addiction to sappy, cheesy girl movies.  Otherwise known as, chick flicks.  I don’t like to admit this because I’m concerned that the negative connotations associated with enjoying such movies, may tarnish my reputation as a badass.  But I’m about to quote a movie of this genre, so I figured I would just out myself already and be done with it.  So, there ya have it, I like sappy movies. The Notebook, Love Actually, The Holiday, Letters to Juliet, When Harry Met Sally, all of them.  If there’s an insanely hot, buff, young stud as the leading man, all the better.  Preferably the likes of Jude Law, Vince Vaughn or Ryan Gosling.  And Ladies, who’s with me in thinking that Taye Diggs really needs to do a nice romantic lead? One word…Yummy.  And yes, I cry during the bombing scene of Pearl Harbor and when the old people are laying in their bed while the water rises in Titanic.

So, anyway, the other night I was watching Eat, Pray, Love.  No one does cheesy girl movies better than Julia Roberts.  Am I right?  Well, in this scene of this particular flick, she was thinking about leaving an unhappy marriage.  She said, or rather, she was thinking… “The only thing more impossible than staying, was leaving.  I didn’t want to hurt anybody.  I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door and not stop running until I reached Greenland”.

I know that feeling.  There’s running.  And there’s running away from something.  I used one to do the other.  I ran my first marathon in 2001, and then I had three kids from February of 2003 to July of 2007.  I ran a half marathon in between each of my pregnancies to make sure I got my body back down to size and to feel good about myself.  Ethan was 4 1/2 months old when I turned 30 and I was determined to be wearing my skinny jeans for my birthday.  I did. I ran the Chicago Half the week before.  I’m still not even sure how I trained for that with an infant.  But it was after my youngest was born that my running took on a life of its own.  I was a busy mom of 3, not yet school age, kiddos.  It was my sanity to get to the gym every day, pass off my little ones and jump on a treadmill.  I ran my second marathon just after my 3rd baby’s first birthday and I didn’t slow down.  It became an obsession.  I worked in a run where ever I could.  But the ones I looked the most forward to where those long Saturday morning training runs.  The longer, the better.  I was like Forrest Gump, I just kept going.  I wanted to run and not stop until I reached Greenland.  At the time all of that was happening, I didn’t realize what was going on.  It’s taken some deep introspection (and a lot of therapy) to figure out what I was doing.   I wasn’t just running; I was running away.  Running was my attempt to get away from my life, a life I had lost control of.  Running was my escape.  My escape from a marriage that I didn’t know how to change, or I was too scared to change, because I had spent so much of my life running from the things that I didn’t know how to confront.

Leaving my marriage is without a doubt the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, but I had to confront it.  There was no running from it.  I couldn’t just slip out the back door.  I had to stand strong and face it.  And now that I’ve learned how to face things, when I do run, I don’t feel like I’m running from something, I’m running TO something.  I’m running to accomplish a goal, running to get healthy, running to feel strong, running to embrace freedom.  Later in that scene of Eat, Pray, Love Julia says, “Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation.” My failed marriage left me feeling like my life was in ruin, but I guess now I run to continue my transformation.  I run to grow and to prove that transformation to myself.  Because I don’t need to prove anything to anybody else.

However, just to set the record straight (and to reclaim my rightful badass status), I can quote Tommy Boy in it’s entirety, I really wanted to name my youngest son Maximus after Russell Crowe’s Gladiator, my favorite Bond movie is Dr. No, and who doesn’t love Indiana Jones? Any questions?

RRG and "Little" brother after the Surf City half-marathon 2011.  I'm pretty sure we were quoting movie lines during that race.

RRG and “Little” brother after the Surf City half-marathon 2011. I’m pretty sure we were quoting movie lines during that race.

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Brand New Me

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The past couple days have been FULL of good news.  Ask anyone who saw me yesterday, I was bouncing off the walls at all the positive things that have been happening in my life.  As usual, life is a rollercoaster, but it’s been an adrenaline pumping thrill ride this week.  I was put to the test of how much I’ve grown over the past several months, and I passed, with flying colors!  I saw very clearly my own personal growth.  It was awesome!

So, why did I wake up this morning feeling so down?  I think the emotional high of the past couple days left me a little bit drained.  Additionally, even though I rose to the occasion in the battle of some of my old demons, it was still a battle.  To say I was emotionally exhausted this morning would be an understatement.  It was one of those days where I wanted to set my theme song on repeat, Brand New Me by Alicia Keys, to remind myself that I’m not the same person that I was a year ago.  Lindsey quirk #3-Yes, I have a theme song.  Actually, if I’m being honest, I have several.

Somehow, despite my depleted emotional state, my physical energy was oddly very much intact.  I ran twice today.  I needed to.  Even though I knew I would be running 5 miles with the social run tonight at FLEET FEET, I knew that I needed to get my hills in.  I went to Babler and tried, for four miles, to find some answers and to clear the fog that had settled on my brain.

As I was running, I determined that despite my obvious growth, I was somewhat pissed that it had even been tested.  And then as I thought about it more, I was pissed at the person who had tested it.  And even more I was pissed that I had allowed myself to be put in a position that required so much growth over so many years.  I’m still sorting through some of that.  (On a side note, boxing is really good for anger management.  For legal reasons, it’s a much better idea to punch a bag than a person.)

I got an email from my friend Emily this morning, and it’s funny because I had actually just been thinking about her when my phone buzzed with the notification of her message.  I was specifically thinking of the last time Emily and I got to run together last winter.  We did about 7 miles on the lakefront on a beautiful, brisk Chicago morning when the coolest thing happened.  We were running along, just south of Navy Pier and all of a sudden Emily stopped and pointed to something on the ground.  The word ‘FORGIVE’ had been spray painted on the sidewalk.  Emily said these were painted all over town, but she’d never actually seen one.  I don’t know if she’s seen any since, but I don’t get to run in Chicago all that often anymore, so it’s the only one I’ve seen.

I love the picture I took of it. I love how the shadows crossed through the word making it kind of abstract.  Because, let’s be real, the concept of forgiveness is kind of abstract.

Forgiveness is a tough one.  People hurt us.  People make us angry.  Webster defines the word Forgive as 1: to give up resentment of or claim to requital for; and 2: to cease to feel resentment against.  Resentment can be nasty.  It leads to bitterness and it eats away at your heart if you allow it to.  I have always said, I will not be a stereotype, I do not want to be bitter.  I just won’t allow it.

However, forgiveness is a process. It takes time.  Sometimes it takes a lot of time.  It’s not just something where you can say, Ok, I forgive you, it’s over, and then move on and never think about it again. Sure, it’d be great if that was actually possible, but we’re human and we just don’t have the capability to do that.   And here’s the worst part, sometimes you don’t even get the apology that you may be entitled to.  So, what do you do with that?

Well, all I really can do is listen to my heart and just keep trying. I can be the brand new me that I know I am. I believe that I always want to forgive completely, but it takes time to work through that and I won’t say that I have forgiven before I’m ready to.  Coerced forgiveness or a forced apology, isn’t real, so who does that help anyway?

Some things are relatively easy to forgive, like someone accidentally spilling beer on you (I’m really glad we can laugh about that, Marxkors!) or your children breaking the screen door (Ok, so I was pretty mad about that one, and all three kids went to their rooms until they decided to tell the truth about it. But, once they did, I got over it.  And, by the way, it’s still not fixed.)

I’ve heard Britta say many times, “Nothing is unforgiveable”.  It’s true some things might be a lot harder to work through than others, especially when someone really hurts our heart.  It’s difficult, it’s challenging, but it’s not impossible.

The other thing about forgiving that can be really tough is when someone knows our heart is hurt and they keep poking the bruise anyway. That’s what happened to me yesterday, my bruise got poked.  And today I was dealing with the after effects of that.  I needed to face that.  So I did.  I thought about it. I was sad about it for a while. Then I ran some hills.  And then, I let it go. There is freedom in forgiveness. If only it could always be that simple.

Emily and RRG, right after we found 'FORGIVE'.

Emily and RRG, right after we found ‘FORGIVE’.

 

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Running Through the Storm

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It’s funny how day to day life happens so gradually, but one morning you wake up and come to a screeching halt as you realize how totally far away you’ve gotten from the person you thought you were and the person you hoped to become.

Not all that long ago I was in the midst of a personal crisis.  I had just moved to a new state, was trying to get settled into a new house and was struggling to understand the tragic death of a dear sister in law and my unborn nephew.  All the while, I was faking a marriage that had completely fallen apart.  Instead of dealing with any of this in a healthy way, I escaped into my own little fantasy world.  I still managed to take care of my 3 kiddos, unpack all the boxes and follow through with my commitments.   I did it all under the guise of “I’m doing just fine”, when really, I wasn’t.  At all.  In fact, I hadn’t been fine for a really long time.  Years.  I tried to make everything look wonderful on the outside, to cover up the fact that inside was a big, old, ugly mess.  Eventually, my fantasy world came crashing down around me, as they inevitably do, and it was time to start picking up the pieces.

I’ve always attached my identity to others…I’ve been a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend.  But who am I?  Who am I?  I had absolutely no idea.  And so began the quest to figure it out.  I quickly realized that I had been so focused on taking care of everyone around me I had completely forgotten to take care of myself.  That is, in a healthy way, not the self-centered way I had been living inside my own head as a means of survival.  I took on the emotions of everyone else, to the point that I didn’t have a clue what I was feeling.  I was getting buried alive under everyone else’s baggage.  I had gone numb to my own emotions, lost the ability to feel and put up a wall. A big, thick, brick wall. On one side of the wall, I painted a picture of the always smiling mom with the perfect, happy life who had the kids sitting nicely, the house clean and dinner ready when their dad got home.  But on the other side of the wall, I had allowed others to quench my spirit and break me down into a woman I didn’t even recognize. I went into self-destruction mode, crying out for someone – anyone – to just notice me.

Initially, it was easier to define what I didn’t want to be.  I didn’t want to be a doormat.  I didn’t want to be a cookie-cutter image of the people around me.  I didn’t want to be an extension of anyone else.   I did not want to be a victim.  I couldn’t continue to ignore the fact that I have a right to set down boundaries for myself and other people need to respect them.  I no longer wanted the heart of stone that couldn’t feel.  And I didn’t want to stay trapped inside myself.  How in the world was I going to break out? How was I going to take down the wall?  Well, the only way I could, one brick at a time.

The first question I addressed pertained to how I could take care of myself through this process of, it may sound cliché, “finding myself”.  Well, I love to run and it’s been on my bucket list to get to Boston for THE marathon of marathons.  I had been training for another 26.2 in April of 2011 when my world began to crumble, but that got thrown by the wayside.  I began to research fall races and map out my next course.  Then, I started my training program to run the Quebec marathon on August 28, of that same year.  Running gives me time to think, time to process everything going on around me.  But it also gives me time to just “be”, when I don’t have the capacity to think anymore.  My passion for running gave me an idea.  I remember sitting at IHOP with my mom one morning talking about a need to get out and do something for me.  We could see FLEET FEET through the window where we sat.  Less than a month later I started my new job where I get to share my enthusiasm for an awesome sport with others, people from all walks of life and various levels of ability, from the beginning jogger who has decided to make a life change to the amazing ironman tri-athlete who has overcome great odds of addiction or illness, and everyone in between.  Everyone has a story to tell and I love to hear them.

Writing is another of my passions.  I know, go figure, right?  But with a background in foster care, I never had any formal training in journalism.  I enjoy writing and I believe it allows me to articulate in a way that I otherwise can’t.  So when I stumbled across an opportunity to write for an online news page, I sent in a writing sample and was accepted.  Voila!  That was easy.  It was just a matter of setting my fear and self-doubt aside long enough to put myself out there.  Every Wednesday during that summer, was “Field Trip Day”.  The kids and I would load up a backpack containing our essentials for the day and go off to explore our new surroundings.  This not only gave us something to look forward to doing together each week, it also gave me great material to write about.

So, what have I learned through my journey to find myself?  I learned that the answers I was seeking weren’t nearly as profound as I expected them to be.  I’ve learned that I really hadn’t lost who I was as much as I thought.  In fact, I’m still most of the things I was…a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend; but I found out that I’m so much more, too.  All of my labels that attach me to others are part of who I am, but they don’t define me.  I’m an individual, I’m a runner, I’m a writer.  I’m passionate about the people and the things I love.  One of the best things that anyone said to me during this journey to find myself is that I am valuable.  I deserve validation and all the time it takes for me to process and respond to any given situation.  I want to be totally authentic.  I have real feelings and emotions and I’m not afraid to figure out what they are and express them anymore.  I get very excited and animated when I share stories of things that make me happy. I get sad when the people I love are hurting.  I get very scared when I feel vulnerable. But I allow myself to feel those emotions fully.  I express them.   And then I release them so they don’t weigh me down and overwhelm me.  I set goals for myself, sometimes I accomplish them and sometimes I don’t.  But that doesn’t mean I’ve failed, it just means I need to reevaluate my goals and keep on trying.  I make good choices and bad choices.  Hopefully, the good out-weigh the bad, but when the bad blow up in my face, I want to teach my kids and myself that I can get through it.  My successes and my failures are part of what makes me who I am, but not my definition.  I want to be a good example of a strong, healthy, well balanced woman for my children.  I can’t expect to do it all perfectly, but I hope that I can teach my children to be self-assured, well-adjusted people who are not afraid to love whole-heartedly, laugh often, live fully, take risks and stand up for themselves and what they believe in.  I hope that we can celebrate each other’s successes and I hope that when we mess up really big, we can say, “Well, that sucks, but I still love you and we can get through this.”

In loving myself, I am much better at loving others.  I am a more calm, caring and patient mom (most of the time).  I am a more empathetic friend and a better listener.  Self-awareness has helped me to really not sweat the small stuff, because I am able to declare the things that truly bother me and let everything else slide off, instead of letting it all fester in a cauldron of stress and unevaluated emotion.  There is a sense of freedom that comes with that and freedom was something that I was desperately longing for.  It is highly unlikely that I will ever be completely fearless, but I am no longer willing to let my fears hold me back from doing anything.

So, what does define me? Well, it’s an ongoing, changing, evolving definition.  But life is not necessarily about the definition, it’s about the journey to try and find it.  The best part is, if I discover something about myself that I don’t like, I can change it.  For now, I just try tolive in the moment and enjoy the things I love, with the people I love.  I love to run.  I love to write.  I love the funny things my kids say. I love to walk on the beach and stare up at the moon on a clear night.  I love coffee, probably more than I should.  I love that my little brother can make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.  I love singing at the top of my voice when I’m driving and I don’t care who sees me.  I love exploring new places.  I love that I sometimes talk to my best friend on the phone multiple times a day.  I love the extraordinary moments that happen when I least expect them.  I love surprising someone with the perfect present.  I love crappy, reality TV (I know, it’s sad, but I do).   I love a good glass of wine with my girlfriends.  Most importantly, I love that now I can say, and really believe, that this is who I am. Take it or leave it, this is me.

As for my dream of getting to Boston for the pinnacle of my running career, Hurricane Irene had other plans for me in Canada. Despite my training and preparation, I was unable to even attempt the Quebec marathon that day because of the gale force winds that caused the race officials to cancel my event.   I spent an amazing weekend in Quebec, only to find out the morning of the race that my goal would have to wait.  But I learned a lot more about myself through that whole experience that completes me as a person.  I was devastated that I didn’t get to run my race and I cried.  I cried the whole long, miserable walk back to the hotel in the rain.  Then I spent a rainy day sitting in a quaint, French coffee shop looking at the whole situation to assess what I could gain from it.  However, that didn’t stop me from throwing a 2 week long pity party about lost chances.  When I finally put a stop to that, I felt like I still had an itch that needed to be scratched after the frustrating demise of not just one, but two marathons.  Sometimes life just takes unexpected turns and you have to figure out what direction you’re going to head from there. The direction I chose was south, to Dallas for the Whiterock Marathon.  I didn’t run it with numbers in my head, putting a lot of extra pressure on myself.  I ran it for the pure joy of running and to honor my dad who ran that very same race 30 years ago.  I ran it 2 days after the 10th anniversary of saying good-bye to him.  I ran to heal.  In 40 degrees, gusty winds and pouring rain, I ran my heart out.   I missed my Boston qualifying time by just minutes, but I ran my fastest marathon ever because I ran simply for the feeling of joy and freedom that running gives me.  I don’t know if I will ever get to run Boston, but that doesn’t take anything away from what I’ve already accomplished.  Just like everything else in life, it’s really not about the destination; it’s about how you push through all the obstacles you face and what you learn along the way.

 

The view of Quebec City from my hotel room...the day BEFORE the marathon.

The view of Quebec City from my hotel room…the day BEFORE the marathon.

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