My Seven Daily Sanes

I’m so different than I was ten years ago. I am reminded of this daily when I look at the top shelf in my office where the shadow box sits that Grant made me for Christmas ten years ago. It contains  pictures of me finishing my first marathon complete with my hard earned and nearly died trying to acquire necklace medal. Honestly it was all I could do not to put that thing around my neck and saunter around every day ALL day for people to see. I’m not a jewelry person but THAT bling? It has stories to tell! Like when I thought my friend Bill was a medic on a bicycle at the top of the hill nearing mile 13. There he was practically shimmering like an angel and I thought “Thank GOD because things are not going how I planned.” It turned out he was Bill instead, which was even better, offering flat Coca-Cola and inspiration. “Meet you at the next mile marker and you can have another drink of this.” My friend, without a doubt is responsible for helping me cross the finish line, one mile at a time with sugar nectar and pep talks for incentive, so that I could experience Grant and our cheering kids waving and clapping  at the end like I was some kind of princess warrior. My eyes still water over that feeling. 

I think it would be funny for Grant to make me another shadow box at the end of this year to show how hard I have worked to reshape my marathon mentality and physicality. There would for sure be a picture of me first thing in the morning showing off my Fitbitch that says I already burned 636 calories and I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN OUT OF BED YET! I mean, how great is THAT? I’m awesome without even trying!

I’m currently not running due to a very long battle with bad ankles. Right now I have frozen peas strapped to both sides of my ‘good’ ankle that I sprained when I fell down the bleachers when I was trying to take a picture of my son David at the end of his last home JV Football game. It was below 30 degrees that night and I forgot I had a blanket wrapped around me. I went down with a very large and painful crash. I’m pretty sure Grant was trying to pretend like he didn’t know me because he just kept walking. Two lovely older-than-me people tried to help me up but I was literally frozen solid and would have taken them down with me. “No. I’m good. I’m pretty sure I sprained my ankle but my husband will eventually notice I have fallen and literally can not get up, and come back for me. He promised until death parts us.”

Some days it’s easier said than done to not comparison shame myself to the me of ten years ago. Sometimes I dream about it, the running.  Long distance running is a powerful thing and the experiences of my marathons have taught me so much about myself and continue to give me insights and new perspectives in my daily life. The other day I had an ‘aha’ moment that I will share before I get to the point of this post, which I’m pretty sure is not about marathons. 

I was reading this beautiful novel that was just…mmmm…so yummy….see? I was deeply absorbed in the words and the story and the magic it takes to write a novel when I felt my left brain say to my right brain something really nasty “You will never write a novel. Blogs are easier. Short.  Simple. Not a lot of effort. You’re just not smart enough or disciplined enough to write a whole book, especially a novel. You should give up on that idea.”

WTF left brain? First of all, you are an overly analytical naysayer. Second, I  can remember when blog posts were super hard to write. Mainly because it was YESTERDAY that I was struggling to get one finished before the WSU Cougar Football game started. But here’s the thing:  I can also remember how hard it was the first time I ran three miles without stopping: huge accomplishment! A marathon is simply a series of short runs, that when gradually and methodically put together, becomes a marathon. Perhaps novels are of similar nature. So fuck you left brain.  

Which brings me to the point of this post, though without much logic (because I just pissed off the non-dominant side of my brain):  my seven daily sanes. 

At the beginning of the year I made a pact with myself to try and adhere to seven simple daily actions to at least keep me PAR with my current state of being a content and mostly at peace, inappropriately tight size fourteen, moderately energetic, non-running,  successful business owner, hippy chick goddess. I call them ‘My Seven Daily Sanes’.   

  1. Pages
  2. Grats
  3. Yoga
  4. Medication (whoops I mean MEDITATION)
  5. Veggies
  6. Water
  7. Walks

Now I’m not gonna lie, this list has been much harder to check off each day than last year’s list: 

  1. Grow my hair

I have been doing number one of the seven pretty regularly for over 14 years. Julia Cameron taught me in “The Artist’s Way” how important it is to check in with myself with morning pages (or what I sometimes refer to as morning vomit). Three pages of handwritten words unedited (especially by the asshole left brain) and unfiltered. I notice, on the rare days I skip this ritual, that I feel like I do when have two different colored socks on or a black bra with white panties: off kilter. The first two pages are almost always whining yucky stuff, but usually by page three I have some kind of weird little break through, like “maybe I should stop eating cookies at midnight” or “you really need to quit this job and form your own business and here is the first step toward that”. 

Grats is a newer thing that has helped center my thoughts on positive things in my life (especially after the nasty brain vomit). Every day: ten things I am grateful for. Then I write thank you ten times at the bottom of this list. I think these journals will be a good thing for my kids to read when I’m dead. Unlike the morning pages which really need to be burned. My grats contain things like: “I’m thankful I didn’t kill Grant yesterday because today he is so much nicer.”

Everything feels better when I practice yoga: my brain, my bones, my skin, my muscles, my joints, my soul. That’s all that needs to be said about that, except that it is my running from ten years ago: life saving. 

I have written a few posts about meditation as holistic medication. Some days I have time for a nice long guided mediation. Most days I just try and remind myself to breath in and out: 4 counts in, 6 counts out. Repeat until calm again. As a catholic, I have found the rosary to be a good form of prayerful medication. Keeps a person off the ledge.

OH VEGGIES. I know I need to eat more of you gross fuckers. It’s a quest I’m still working on. When I feel shitty I consult the last few weeks’ checklist and say to myself: “dummy, cheez-its are not veggies. This is why you feel bad.”

Water is often on my daily grats list but it’s usually in the form of being grateful I can wash my hair or take a hot bath/shower whenever I feel like it, something so many people don’t get to do. Those very people would willingly hydrate every day if they could. So this needs to be something I never take for granted. I have rarely known real thirst. But when I don’t drink water my face looks like a dried up old hag. So.

I added walking to the list because my Fitbitch is a total nag. She says I need to move more. Plus I have this new puppy Bella who needs to move or she gets grumpy. Right now I’m a gimp but the walking thing is wonderful. She and I have these amazing conversations about the best places to poop when you are a dog (she prefers the middle of the street with cars coming for a nice adrenaline rush), the scary house that she refuses to walk past (we now go around), and how some day soon she and I will maybe do some running but for now we will just piece the short walks gradually into longer ones. 


Running in Circles

I’m sitting on a bench at the park across the street from my house trying something new with the writing. I just finished a short run and want to capture the words that always come when I am running but never seem to hit paper. This will maybe be an unedited post. But we shall see. No matter how hard I try on my editing there is always improper grammar and at least one or two misspelled words. So really? Why bother.

Except that  when I read someone’s writing and see misspelled words before I fall in love with their beautiful mind I sometimes feel judgy enough to stop reading. Which is terrible and  explains why my blog site is not very well read. Karma. It serves me right. But really this blog site is not about being well read. The muse reminds me of this from time to time when he gifts me with his presence. The words in this blog site are about facing my fears and finding a piece of peace and having empathy for others who also have fear. And desire peace. Which is pretty much EVERYONE. So a misspelled word ain’t but one more means to come together in our imperfections. I just worked that one out. Empathy for poor spelling is now in my heart. More peace. Already! In the second paragraph!

I’m in terrible shape right now. I’m no longer running marathons. Not sure why doing that was so important. But it was. Probably just another way for me to run away from shit I needed to be dealing with.  I write this post right now to avoid putting together a presentation on COLOR and its impacts on the learning and work environment. I teach this in 11 days. I’ve known about it for eight months. I’m not an expert on this, but I’m interested in the subject so I opted to teach it to a group of school facility managers at their convention in October. I’ve read fourteen books and feel no closer to knowing how I will present this very subjective topic. But in my defense I work better under pressure. And the run helps things noodle. I’m at the al dente stage. But I like my noodles more soft and easier to chew.

It feels nice to not push so hard like I did when I felt the need to run long distance. Currently I’m happy doing chubby yoga in the mornings and zombie running for a half hour or so when I feel like it.  Looking across at my house where most of my people are right now I wonder how long I could sit on this bench before they notice I am gone. It’s a different phase now for me.  I can go and it makes little difference. Generally I’m needed for cash and pep talks and occasional hugs. I’m not essential life support anymore. I’m frosting. But OH how I love frosting. It’s almost as important as clean diapers and carpool. And funner. Years ago I ran around this park so that I would be close to the house in case someone needed me. Stealing runs while the baby slept and the oldest watched or the husband. Miles and miles around: one lap is .60 miles. One time I ran 34 times around.  Now I run around it because I’m still recovering from ankle surgery and don’t want to have to limp too far to get home if I re-injure myself. Also I may have to pee.

Plus I just like the familiarity of a single, well known path. With everything else in my life so uncertain and unsteady, a closed, consistent loop is comforting.

Yet. It’s never really the same. Neither outside nor inside my brain. Because nothing is still. Not ever.

Today I saw a frisky three legged lab taking his child for walk. The dog was pure joy, hobbling along with ease, which encouraged me to believe that two legs were enough to keep my round squooshy goddess bod moving.

The sunshine was on my shoulders and I thought of the first record given to me “John Denver’s Greatest Hits”. I must have been ten? Maybe twelve? I can still remember the words to every single song on that album. I loved his music so much. And my record player with headphones that allowed me to mask from my parents the insomnia that’s been with me off and on my whole life: in my room, in the dark, with John and others to help me with through the awake.

Chris Cornell’s song “I Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart” came up on my playlist and for the first time since his death I didn’t push the right arrow to get him out of my earsight.  Maybe I’m finally forgiving him for leaving the world. It’s really not my right to be angry at him. I didn’t know his heart. But his words seem to know mine. Especially that particular song. And so maybe I have some right to feel sad and to not be able to face the loss of someone who sang to my heart, merged his sadness with mine making it feel okay to accept that hearts can break and we still go on living. But he didn’t. So what does that say? Except his music lives: energy from beyond the grave. And he is still making music. We just can’t hear it. Yet.  

The fresh cut grass smelled strong today, it always seems to in the fall. Is it because the air is colder? Does smell hang heavier in cold air? Is there science in this? I will probably research this later.

I saw a squirrel carrying something rather large up a tree and though my glasses were not on, I realized it was another squirrel, maybe her baby. I’m not going to have closure on what was going on there because she darted way up out of my blurry vision. But I’m going to assume that the baby was simply in trouble for playing too far away from home. Though the baby seemed big and was not putting up a struggle. Maybe a teenage squirrel party was broken up and he or she was drunk from too many nuts and passed out in the grip of mama’s mouth. It’s upsetting that I will never know if the baby (or teenager) is okay. But no one ever really  knows this: that things will be okay. We just have to perhaps enjoy that we get to experience the things. This maybe needs to be the ‘okay’ that we seek. And so I shake off my semi-autistic need for closure, for a finish, for knowing the full story, for having all the answers, because it’s time for me to get off the bench and go be frosting.  Empathetic, peace seeking frosting who runs in marvelous never ending, eclectic circles. 

Rockin It, Slowly

I just returned from a long walk at “The Lizard Place”. This is what my kids call it at least. I had never actually been there before. In my attempt to find some place between couch potato and marathon runner I discovered that “The Lizard Place” is not just a vacant lot a half a mile down the street from us where you can catch cool little lizards (and ideally not have them die from fright before you set them free again).  It is actually called Wyakin Park and is 27 acres of super cool nature trails. Who knew something so nifty was just down the street? Continue reading “Rockin It, Slowly”

Treadmill Training Gone Gruesome

So I am cheating just a bit on this post. I have been out-of-town all week and haven’t had time to do much of anything let alone find my writing muse. BUT this morning, I was reading through the journal I started when I was training for a marathon three years ago (because I am currently a fat ass and was looking for inspiration). This particular entry made me laugh so I thought I would share. For all you really good parents out there…here is another perfect example of poor parenting brought especially to you by “H World”. 

6 Weeks to Marathon…

I usually do my weekly runs early in the morning so as not to interfere with family and work. But making time for the weekend long runs tends to get a little complicated. This particular weekend, at the tail end of a long stint without my “BFF” husband, (which does not always stand for ‘best friend forever’) who was on a cross country journey with his father, I knew that it was going to be tough squeezing in the 15 miles I had planned. Saturday held football practices, house cleaning and other adventures. Sunday morning I totally intended to get up at 4:30, hop on the treadmill and be done, guilt free, before any of our six children woke up. But sleep called me like a seductive muse and I succumbed to it, waking in time for a cup of coffee before we had to get ready for church.

So after church I give a $10 bribe to Dillin (14) with the request to PLEASE just occupy the four younger children for a couple of hours. (Duncan (16) wisely left to be anywhere else but home.) I stuff my face full of peanut butter and graham crackers, dodge a call from my mother-in-law and hop on the boring treadmill, staring at my inspiration wall full of pictures of funny looking animals, runners with abs I long for, interesting quotes, my current work goals and a picture of my mother, whom I think of often when I run, God rest her crazy soul. Things go great for the first hour and I am actually shocked that no child has bugged me. “Maybe they are finally scared of me” I think cheerfully.

Well…zero in to mile ten and understand that an MP3 player set to the loudest possible setting (before deafness sets in) does not drown out the screech of sixth-born Mitchel, who blessed be to God, would, if he lived, start kindergarten in two days. Someone has wronged him and he’s going to be heard. I unplug one ear of my headphones. “Mitchel!” I yell, panting “Please…do not…screech…when mommy…is on the treadmill…it’s very hard to…” and that’s when I went down. It was not a glamorous fall, my legs flipped up in the air and landed across the still moving treadmill, my face just missing full contact with the hard floor. I really wished right then that I had not duct-taped the emergency kill rope that would quite possibly have saved some of the skin on my right thigh. The kids kept using it for miscellaneous games and the treadmill won’t start with out it. I never thought I’d ever actually need to pull it. I get the strength to get up and pause the monstrosity and then flop back down on the floor as Mitchel comes around to where he can see my face. “Oooh, mom. That looked pretty funny.”

“Mitchel” I say, forcefully enunciating my words because I want to kill him but know I would not be able to catch him at this very moment “are you injured physically, mentally or spiritually?”

 “No…it’s just that Maria and Dan keep yelling at me.”

“I’m going to yell at you if you don’t let me finish my run. Now go away and don’t come back.” I pull myself up and back on the treadmill and push start to resume my run. I am not injured, just sore, mad and humiliated. “Fifteen, even if it kills me” I tell myself, thinking that it just might this time. This is when mental negotiations begin: “Perhaps I can make it to thirteen. Thirteen is good. That’s an admirable run especially on a wretched treadmill. Lot’s of people can’t do thirteen.” The internal banter which always starts at about mile ten, even without a dramatic fall, continues and I trick myself into running just a little bit more until I get back in the groove and reach thirteen without problems from the troops. I decide I feel pretty good despite the inevitable bruises, so I speed it up a bit.

This is when things get ugly. I’m in the zone, at mile fourteen, when I glance over to the couch area and see that the four youngest have silently accumulated there like creepy little ghosts and appear to be waiting patiently for me to finish. But Daniel is holding up a sign that says: “When are you EVER going to be done so that you can please call Mrs. Hodges to see if I can have a play date with Owen?” Dillin has apparently decided $10 is not enough and is M.I.A. I hold up one finger for one mile left, and speed it up, knowing that a lot can go wrong in a mile with these people who are my children. Sure enough at mile fourteen and a half I glance over to see that Mitchel (WHO IS FIVE) has Maria (WHO IS ELEVEN) in a one handed choke hold and is pummeling Daniel (WHO IS NINE) with the other hand, vengeance at last is his: NO ONE was yelling at him NOW. Seven year old David is staring at the television, oblivious to the mayhem, or choosing to be.

Now, ask me good people, if I stopped running. Nope. I did not stop. I’m ashamed to say that I sped up to a seven minute pace, calculating that Maria could probably survive without oxygen for three a half minutes and surmising that Daniel was capable of hitting back (I have seen him do it) and just might save his sister from death if three and half minutes WAS too long. I was going to FINISH the damn run and then if there were any survivors after, send them all to their rooms, myself included, who is not a seven minute mile pace kind of mother, unless there is cake, beer and a bed at the finish line.