Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random Thoughts

Just wanted to share a few things running through my head today: The guy that sat next to me on the train today smelled like maple syrup. Now listen, its okay when little kids smell like maple syrup…although not okay when their hands and hair are sticky from syrup….still, later in the day. But grown men smelling like syrup? Wash your hands, Dude. No one likes that. Put your seasonal mullets away, people. Do not wear things like winter brown knee high boots with a summer dress… with your white trench coat… and white patent leather purse. It’s never a good look. You will be lucky if you don’t show up on a Glamour Don’t page. I’m just sayin’… Please don’t walk your dog in your pajamas. And I don’t mean sweatpants. That’s ok. I mean, your plaid flannel pj bottoms, with a t-shirt, and in one instance last week, no bra. Newsflash - I know you think it is just you and your dog out there at 5:45 am but it’s not. Those of us who put ourselves through torturous running in the morning have to drive by you. And Lady, walking the dog with no bra on, you made my eyes bleed. Cut. It. Out. And just a side note, your dog doesn’t like it either. He’s embarrassed. I can tell by the way he half walks, half pees….he just wants to get back in the house and hide. Also, when you are a trainer and you tell your running mates to step it up and run faster and they don’t, it’s not because they don’t want to. It’s because they can’t. Don’t you think I would run faster if I could? I want these runs to end as soon as possible. I really don’t want to drag them out while I huff and puff and deal with my needling side stitch. Believe me, I want to be back in my car…sitting. I know this is your job as a trainer…to motivate your peeps, get them over those hurdles, and push them in a way they won’t push themselves. But when you tell me to run faster twice and I don’t appear to be kicking into overdrive, there is a reason. Believe me. Don’t come up beside me all hopping like a frog and happy and say “Come on! You can do it! Let’s go Buddy!” We aren’t buddies in moments like these. When we are done and walking it out in the parking lot, then we can be buddies again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taking Time to Take Time

I loved when I had more time to blog. I felt like I was hyper aware of things in life and had time to reflect on the little things that happened every day. Let's be honest...I loved not working and had tons of time on my hands. I had time to notice the beauty of the flowers popping up in my garden rather than focusing on the sprouting weeds. I had time to focus 100% of my attention on my kids when we talked rather than listen, make dinner, and sign quizzes and tests all at the same time. The reality is that oftentimes the stuff that needs to get done outweighs the stuff you would like to spend your time on. A few weeks ago, we went away to Grand Cayman with the kids for April vacation and as great as the trip was, the real gift was that we found ourselves having the opportunity to spend the time appreciating those little moments. I think one of the main things that allowed us to take advantage of this time was that we were completely unplugged. I don't mean that we checked email just a few times a day and only texted here and there. I mean complete disconnection. We turned our phones off to avoid international roaming charges and left them in the room every day. The most important people we needed to talk to were all together. No one half listened while they texted. No one took a call in the middle of a conversation. My guess is we don't realize how much we only half listen, half focus, and even miss conversations and verbal cues because we are too busy paying attention to our cell phones, iPads, iPods, and computers. I can't remember the four of us talking or laughing as much as we did every day that week. Right before we left, my pre-teens were being just that. They were giving me one word answers to my questions, coping attitudes over having to do chores, and were snubbing our affections. They were just acting their age but it wasn't the relationship we wanted to have with them. Getting them out of their every day environment, without their peers who are acting the same way, brought their real personalities back out. We had conversations...without eye rolls. Their sense of humor returned and they were even able to laugh at themselves again. And they were affectionate again. You know I would love to keep them in their little kid bubbles for life and have them need their Mama like little baby birds. But I know those days are changing. When the idea of a simple hug from a parent makes a child want to run from a building like their hair is on fire, it's a sign to take them out of their current environment. They want to grow up and be independent but they are also just kids too. The struggle for them, as it was for all of us, is tough. I think that getting away, really away, gives kids the downtime to just be kids again. I find myself sliding back into bad habits and saying no to things because I am too busy and need to get things done. Not all the time, but oftentimes that is the case. Having no schedule other than deciding which beach to go to doesn't allow you the opportunity to say no to things you might otherwise pass up. For me, this was snorkeling. I love the beach but I'll be honest, I don't want to see what is swimming around me. I like to imagine the water completely empty and clean...not filled with gigantic, potentially deadly fish. On our first day at the beach, Tim and the kids immediately raced into the water with their masks and snorkels. I followed behind them and stood knee deep surveying the landscape. Mimi's snorkeled face popped up out of the water and she said "Mom, you will not believe what is swimming at your feet!" Internally I was screaming "WHAT?!" but silently I put my mask on and peeked in the water. There were about 20 fish swimming around my feet. I was determined not to show the kids that I was freaking out because I was trying to be a good role model but inside I was screaming as though a great white shark had just ripped my leg off. For the rest of the vacation, I let them lead and I snorkeled behind them so they didn't see me freaking out at every little fish that swam by. All I could hear was myself breathing heavy. I was glad they couldn't hear me. At one point, there were about 20 fish trailing behind them and I thought "If they only looked behind them and could see what was following them...." and then I realized that the same thing was probably happening to me. I had visions of a killer fish rubbing his hands together getting ready to take a bite out of me. Eventually I relaxed. We were basically swimming in a giant aquarium every day. Not only were the colors and types of the fish amazing, but seeing the kids' excitement at every turn was well worth it. I was able to focus on their happiness rather than my own fears and see the world through their eyes. Sometimes life gets in the way and we forget to just enjoy these little moments. I think this is one of the main reasons I love camping so much. We give ourselves unspoken permission to put our electronics away and enjoy being outside. We spend time playing games, talking, and enjoying each other's company. The kids are free to just be kids. They play together more, fight less, and are creative in how they spend their time. And as parents we are able to enjoy these fleeting moments with them as they speed from childhood to becoming the people they are growing into.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Running in Quick Sand

Two weeks ago, for April vacation, we took the kids to Grand Cayman for April vacation. It was incredible! And with this trip, just like with any other I take, I always pack my running clothes and sneakers. I really love to explore and use every opportunity to discover the nooks and crannys of anyplace I go. So, this trip was no different. When we arrived around 1 pm, it was in the mid 80's and had just rained. By the time we got to our hotel, checked in, and sat down for lunch the sun was beaming down and we were soaking up the relaxing vibe. After lunch we went for a walk on 7 Mile Beach, collecting shells, running in the water, and stopped at a little beach bar for happy hour. It was pure bliss. Fast forward to 8 am the next morning to pure blistering heat. I jumped out of bed, slipped on my sneakers, and headed out for a run. I stepped out the door into a wall of heat. It was at least 80 degrees already. I still decided to go...I can do this, I thought. Since the road we were staying on was one big strip, I just turned left to run and figured I would run back up on the beach. It was then that I discovered I had forgotten my iPod. How bad could it be, I thought? That was answered about 10 minutes later when all I could hear was heavy breathing. I thought there was a fat guy behind me gasping for breath....but no, it was just me. I ran and ran and ran. I thought it had been at least 15 minutes. I checked my watch. 7 minutes. OMG. But I kept going until it truly was 15 minutes and then I looked for an access point to the beach. This is going to be so fun, I thought! I love walking the beach...although this time I'll be running...but I love being near the water so this will be great. Here are some challenges with running on the beach. If you run in the soft sand, it's hard to get even footing and you sink down. If you run on the wet packed sand, you run the risk of the waves coming up and getting you wet. And you are constantly doging people who are doing the smart thing and strolling leisurely along the water. Barefoot. Not in sneakers. Two minutes in and all I can think is "This is so stupid." I only saw one other person running on the beach. Apparently we didn't get the memo that this is harder than running on the scorching pavement in 80 degree heat. I refused to give up though. I panted my way all the way back to the walkway to our hotel. I took my side cramp back to the hotel and dragged myself back up the stairs. Tim was in the garden having coffee and reading the paper. The kids weren't even up yet. That's when it hit me. I am on vacation and could have been RELAXING. I haven't gotten to the point where running is relaxing, but I do hope to someday. That was the last time the sneakers came out during the vacation. It felt like such a good decision until I got back to my running club. I had missed 3 running sessions. My next time with the group we did "interval training". It really should be named Torture Treatment. The way it should work is that you run hard for a short period of time, then run at a normal pace, then take a break...and then do it all again. Our trainer picked this day to not give ANY breaks and run us like thoroughbreds at the Kentucky Derby. It was at the end of that session that running in the 80 degree heat on the scorching pavement followed by a run on the beach would have been a welcome prospect. More on my trip to come in later posts!