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Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now Baby

18 Jul

The story about how my daughter broke my heart…

Ava lost her first tooth yesterday. Yesterday morning she woke up and said her tooth was really “wobbly.” I checked…sure enough it was. I thought I had time. I thought it wouldn’t come out for a few days at least. It wasn’t that wobbly. Mike took her to swim lessons and she told him that her tooth felt really weird and that she kept trying to push it back in but it wasn’t working. Sitting on the bench, waiting to get in the pool Mike hears her say, “OH! My tooth just came out!” She hands it to him. I get this goofy, toothless picture at work and all I can think is, “My baby girl is growing up!”

I posted this picture on Facebook and immediately realize I am not prepared for the tooth fairy to visit. Apparently the tooth fairy of 2012 brings fairy dust and gold coins? I did not know this. So after the wee one goes to bed, the rumor is that the tooth fairy was hard at work trying to do more than just slip a $5 bill under Ava’s pillow. I think the tooth fairy did a fairly decent job with the limited supplies she had.

It’s a milestone losing your first tooth. I remember losing mine. I remember being so excited for the tooth fairy to come. As a parent of a child who loses their first tooth, it’s also a milestone. She lost her baby tooth…her baby tooth! She lost the tooth that kept me up at night when she was a baby. It’s these little markers of babyhood that keep falling away and reminding me that my baby girl isn’t as much baby as she is girl now.

And then there was this morning. She woke up excited to see what the tooth fairy left. We read the note and she decided she would use the money to buy herself a toy. We got ready for school. Usually when I drop her off in the morning, I walk her all the way to the classroom and give her a hug and a kiss. She hugs for a long time…she’s not a big fan of drop-off. She doesn’t like me to leave her. Until this morning.

We walked through the gate and another one of her classmates was walking in at the same time. I went to the office to sign her in and she kept walking. I stopped and said, “Ava, aren’t you going to wait for me?” She said, “No mom. I’m going to walk with my friend.” Watching her walk away I said, “Well, aren’t you going to say goodbye?” And she glanced over her right shoulder and nonchalantly said, “Bye mom!” And she kept on walking.

I stood there staring at her back. Making sure she wasn’t going to turn back around. Making sure she wasn’t going to run back for a hug. Making sure she was okay. I worried she would realize in 2o minutes that we didn’t say goodbye…at least not in our traditional way. I walked into the office a little teary-eyed with the other child’s mom and she said, “And so it begins…”And my heart was torn. On the one hand I was so proud of her independence, and on the other I thought, “There goes my baby.” Two big milestones in a 24 hour period…my heart can only take so much.

And I do feel like this is how it happens with Ava. With each milestone she reaches, she gains more confidence in being a big kid and she lets go of me a little more. And I know that this is the way it’s supposed to be. I know that my parents watched me grow and gain independence until one day I was 32 with a daughter of my own. They gave me the freedom to grow and let me know that it was okay to let go a little at a time. But how they dealt with it, well, I’m still trying to figure that one out because my heart hurts a little today.

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Running Changed My Life

6 Jun

Today is national running day so I thought it was a good time to write about running. You know…I get asked alot if I really, truly like running. I think so many people associate running with a form of punishment to whip our bodies into shape. A chore that some of us add to our exercise routine to burn fat, to look good, to be healthy.

At the prodding of my best friend, I signed up for my first 5k in 2008. I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day at the time. I had been a smoker for half my life and had tried to quit more times than I could count and failed. Every. Single. Time. The problem was I really, truly liked smoking. I ran that 5k, still a smoker, and it sucked. I hated it. At the end of the race she looked at me expectantly, wanting me to love running. I looked at her like she was crazy and vowed to never sign up for another race ever again.

I honestly have no idea how she talked me into running a 10k next. “6.2 stupid, stupid miles” was all I kept repeating in my head. Why did I sign up for this? I had to actually train for this race. I couldn’t just wing it. So I trained. I kept smoking. But something changed when I finished that race…6.2 miles, to me at the time, was a REALLY long way…and I did it. There came a sense of accomplishment. A sense of pride. But inside I felt like a fraud…who can call themselves a runner and still be a smoker?

So I did something really crazy and decided to sign up for a half marathon. I quit smoking. I vowed that as long as I was going to spend the money and do a half marathon, I had to take it seriously. Something happened during training for that first half marathon. I went out diligently for my training runs. Mike joined me with Ava in a jogging stroller. He carried water and paced me. He kept me honest. He decided to sign up for that same half marathon. Our lives began to change…we talked about pacing, injuries, injury prevention and we ran many, many miles together. We did our long runs separately each week. Before I knew it, I started looking forward to the long runs.

My long runs were the only time I had that belonged to just me. No phone. No conversation. No bills. No Facebook. No email. No child. No husband. No friends. No chores. Just me and my thoughts. I wasn’t a wife. I wasn’t a mom. I was just a runner. And I knew as long as I kept running I would not smoke. I started to appreciate my body. The legs I once hated became the legs I adored. Not because they looked awesome but because they were strong and powerful and carried me along the way. My thoughts changed…I learned tenacity, commitment and sacrifice. I fell in love with running. The further I ran, the more I loved it. When everything in my body screamed for me to stop, I kept pushing on. I refused to give up. I counted light poles, trash cans, beach cruisers. I raced people on the bike path. I raced against myself. I raced for imaginary finish lines.

I get asked often, “What do you think about all that time while you run?” You have a of time to think when you spend that much time running…that’s for sure. Mostly I think about nothing and everything. I think about finish lines and seeing the people I love at the end of them. I think about the anticipation as I’m standing in the chute waiting for the race to start. But mostly when I run I just have this immense sense of gratitude for life and everything in it. Running is my meditation. It’s when I let go of everything and just run.

Running changed my life in a lot of ways. It brought me closer to my husband. I finally found something that made me want to quit smoking. I started living healthier. It changed the way I thought about my body. It made me realize that I was a hell of a lot stronger than I ever thought I was, mentally and physically. It taught me about commitment, tenacity and sacrifice. And I really hope that me running, sets a positive example for my little girl. I don’t know what her passions will be, but I hope that seeing her mama run lets her know that she is absolutely capable of anything she sets her mind to as long as she’s willing to put in the work.

Running is my therapy. I live for the long runs, the lost toenails, the sore muscles, the feeling that comes only when I know I’ve left it all out there on the path and given it every single ounce I had. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.

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What I Want for Mother’s Day

10 May

Mother’s Day is coming. I know this because I get a dozen emails a day about sending mom flowers, buying mom the perfect gift or taking mom to dinner. I also get asked by the husband what I want for Mother’s Day at least once a day. My answer is simple, even if it might not be what most moms wish for on Mother’s Day.

I want to spend the day with my friends and family. I want to have a bbq. I want to cook for them. I want to open good wine. I want to turn on some classic rock. I want to sit outside in the sunshine. I want to laugh. I want to be with the people I love. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel cherished.

Because it really does take a village. I have not done this alone. First and foremost, I have an AMAZING partner. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of daily tasks Mike takes on around the house…I am blessed beyond belief. From bath-time, to packed lunches, to parks, to homework and dinner. The man is truly a partner in all things, especially parenting. He is hands-on. He is involved. And 99% of the time I don’t have to ask for help. I am lucky to have him. And sometimes I can’t help but hear this lyric in the back of my mind, “I have been blessed. With so much more than I deserve…”

And then there’s my family saving the day with sleepovers and play dates. Seriously…I have had to leave Ava with a babysitter once in 5 1/2 years. Do you know how much peace I get in the fact that she’s with people who truly love her? I’m so grateful for that. I am grateful for the advice, perspective and experience that each set of parents bring to the table. I am grateful to have a family that is supportive without being overbearing. I’m grateful that I can pick up the phone and say, “What did you do when _____ happened?” and always have an answer. I’m lucky, but more importantly Ava is lucky to be so loved.

Then there’s my girlfriends. Always ready and willing to help regardless of when or why. I’ve dropped Ava at their houses at 7am on Saturdays so I can get my long training run in. They have picked her up from school when I got stuck in traffic. They offer to bring soup when I’m sick and bring dinner when Mike is out of town. They are always there to offer advice and to help when I need it. But mostly they are there to listen when I’m trying to juggle it all. And sometimes, when all else fails and I drop all the balls, they show up with a bottle of wine and a big, fat hug.

So yes, what I want for Mother’s day is time with the people who help me on the journey…because I haven’t done this alone. I want a good playlist, phenomenal food, great friends, my family, sunshine and a good bottle of red. I want to say thanks.

What I Learned While Microwaving Dinner

20 Oct

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

I’ve seen this quote a thousand times. It’s always resonated with me. I’ve always liked it. I pretty much like anything that’s all, “Hey…be nice to people.” A funny thing though, every time I’ve read this quote, I’ve always thought of the people who have caused me to feel hurt. Because let’s be honest…it’s really hard to forget (and forgive)hurt and we hold onto the hurt for much longer than is healthy for anyone involved. As if holding the hurt creates a cloak that will prevent us from ever being hurt again.

Last night Ava and I went to the grocery store. It was late. She was asking to buy everything and I was too tired to say no. As we were checking out, our checker, Milton, was talking Ava up. And Ava was, of course, hamming it up. As we were finishing up he said, “You have a beautiful little girl there. You really should put her into acting. She’s full of personality.” I thanked him and went on my way. As we walked across the parking lot, a man sped by and came a little too close to Ava and I. In my anger I said, “What an idiot!” And Ava said, “I know. I stuck my tongue out at him!” And I quickly stopped, knelt down and explained to Ava why I shouldn’t have called someone a name and why she shouldn’t have stuck her tongue out at him. As I loaded the groceries in the car, I thought, “Man this compassion thing takes practice and so much work.” How quickly I had replaced my good feelings from Milton with negative feelings from a stranger.

We got home, unloaded the groceries and I threw my dinner in the microwave. I stood at the microwave and checked Facebook. I saw the following message posted on my wall from a great friend:

“I’ve had a REALLY trying week, and every time I’ve wanted to tell someone to “shut the hell up” (or at times WORSE…lol) I thought of you…and found my compassion. Thanks for always being the inspiration that you are! I love you dearly! MUAH!”

And you guys…I seriously did a little happy dance…I felt so surprised and grateful. And then I thought of the Maya Angelou quote up at the top of this post. I learned an important personal lesson yesterday. It’s more important to remember the good that people make me feel…I need to practice that more. It’s a burden to carry past hurts. And yet so uplifting to carry around all those good feelings.  

And I’ll end with this…do not let anyone, ever steal your joy. It’s never worth the energy it takes to get your joy back.

Guess Who’s Going Commando Tomorrow?

6 Jun

Some mornings just go completely awry. THIS was one of those mornings. I wake up with Ava in bed with me, breathing loudly because she has a cold. She crawled in somewhere in the 3am hour and proceeded to kick me and breathe through a stuffy nose the rest of the night. THEN? She also hogged my pillow so now I have a stiff neck. I love her but I love sleep.

So anyway…I get up this morning. I’m cruising right along. I have this great schedule/routine and I realize I’m like 15 minutes ahead! Shut up! This is going to be awesome. I’m going to get out of the door on time. Ahead of schedule maybe. I’m already thinking of how I’m going to spend my extra 15 minutes. I go to get Ava up…she’s not happy. At all. Very, very cranky. I take her in the living room and she wants to watch Team Umizoomi Legend of the Blue Mermaid. Awesome. I’ve got this. Except that when I go to the DVR screen it has been deleted. Why has it been deleted????? Because. Because my husband (who I love alot) is neurotic about the DVR being over 20% full because ya know…what if we have to tape a 24 hour movie or something, right? We need the space for nothing, clearly. Ugggghhhh! She’s crying.

So I talk her into watching Wow Wow Wubzy on the VideoOnDemand. Sweet. Let’s get this show rolling. Except that Time Warner hates me and it won’t work in the living room. So I try her room. It is “Unable to retrieve listings” there too. So then my room and BAM! It’s working. Sweet! So then it’s breakfast time. She wants cereal. Except that I don’t want her to have a bowl of cereal and milk in my bed. Meltdown #2 ensues. I’m now 20 minutes behind schedule. Shit. While I’m making her breakfast I call Mike to tell him I’m hiding the remotes from him so he can’t delete anything anymore.

So I decide while she’s eating I’ll throw all my stuff in my gym bag…I have to swim tonight for that triathlon I signed up for. I find my bathing suit lying on the floor. Ummmm….it was hanging on the door last night, along with my swim cap. I look everywhere and can’t find my swim cap. I call Mike to yell  ask him where he put it. His response, “Why would I know where YOUR swim cap is?”**** Nevermind that the bathing suit and the swim cap were together…hanging on the door. He closed the door to the bedroom last night, moving my swim cap and my bathing suit. But no, he doesn’t know where my swim cap is. Haha. At this point, it’s straight comedy.

This is my life and I love my life…even with all the frustrations that come along with it. But, tonight? Tonight after he’s asleep, I’m hiding all his socks and underwear and when he asks me where they are tomorrow, “Why would I know where YOUR socks and underwear are?” Point made?

****This is so similar to that time I couldn’t find my car keys and called him at work to which he said, “Why would I know where YOUR car keys are?” And then…an hour later…he calls….they were IN HIS POCKET!!!!!

Pursuing Happiness

24 Feb

I love books that make me think. Right now I’m reading The Art of Happiness. The basic principle is that all humans seek happiness, regardless of religion, race, sex…we all seek to be happy. One of the things that it’s made me think about is what makes me happy. Now I know that it can’t be material…I know that if material items are removed or added to my life, my mood may go up or down, but eventually I’ll return to the same level of happiness I was before. So in order to figure out how to be happier I stopped and really thought about the things that make or have made me happy…down to my core. This list is not meant to be all-encompassing, just a quick list of happy moments. And since I got so happy inside when making this list, I wanted to share…to hopefully encourage people to find what makes them happy.

  1. Standing in my kitchen on New Year’s Day this year. The view into the front yard showed my daughter and her best friend jumping in a bouncy house, it showed two of my best girlfriends laughing and talking in the front yard and looking into the garage I saw Mike, Tuti and JP joking around with each other. This whole scene…this ten second “stop and smell the roses” moment left me filled with pure happiness, gratitude and feeling very, very blessed.
  2. The quiet of the morning when I tiptoe into Ava’s room, as I do every morning, and see her sprawled out in a position only a 4-year-old child can possibly sleep comfortably in. I always, always enjoy that moment…there’s so much peace and love in it.
  3. I think of trips to the river and the first boat ride of the morning, when the river is quiet and we cut the engine to just float for a little while. The sound of the waves lapping at the side of the boat. Again…there’s that peaceful feeling.
  4. I think back to meals eaten at my grandparents house. I remember the way my Grandma Perry would bring out all the different lunchmeats, cheese and bread and we would sit down to lunch. Always. I remember the summer I spent with my Grandma Dorothy…I had never enjoyed breakfast as thoroughly as I did during that time in my life. Every morning for over a month, that woman made biscuits and gravy like nobody I’ve ever met.
  5. I think about endless games of Marco Polo with my little brother and how much fun we used to have in the pool over summer breaks. I remember the time I was his hero. We went to school…he was in kindergarten and I was in 4th grade. My mom had gone to the air force base to go grocery shopping…it was about 25 minutes from our house. Well, they let us out of school early (snowstorm coming) and my mom wasn’t back yet…she didn’t know we had been let out. So here my little brother and I are, standing on the porch and he’s cold and crying and so what do I do? I kicked the door open. My dad was pissed but it was so worth it. My little brother’s face was priceless. I was a ninja…his ninja.
  6.  Then there’s the obvious…the birth of my little girl and my wedding day. And not just because they involve the two people I love most in this world, but because for those events ALL the people I love most in this world were there and again I felt blessed.
  7. Running…oh how running makes me happy. There are days it’s hard…days I don’t want to do it. But overall, the feeling of accomplishment at the end of a long run…it’s mine and it feels oh so good. Mile after mile after mile of free therapy. I run to get rid of pain and to gain happiness. And it works every time.
  8. Conversations with Ava…every day…she brings something new to the table. I laugh at her imitations of Mike, which she’s getting really good at…she even does the deep voice. I relish in her childhood innonece, her wild imagination and her huge heart. I never knew a 4-year-old could have so much concern and compassion. And I’d like to think Mike and I are part of that, but really I think some people are just born with certain characteristics.
  9. The friendships I have forged with my girlfriends…some old and some new. Knowing that I can share wine, laughter, tears, a bad day, a good day and no matter what I feel there’s this support that is humbling. They match my feelings…every ounce of excitement and every moment of disappointment. Having girlfriends like that…it’s a sisterhood…and I know I am lucky.

So I’m trying to change the way I think. I’m trying to weed out the negative thoughts…the negative people. I’m trying to remember that it’s the small moments in life that make me happy and that despite anything that comes my way, I am blessed.