Category Archives: Parenting

Dear Emily on your 11th Birthday

emilyjuneDear Emily,

This morning I woke with you in my arms.  “What time is it?” you asked me.  “Time for school, kiddo.”

You rolled over, all arms and legs, and groaned.  Moments later you sat down at the kitchen counter in running shorts and a hoodie.  “Casual day today, huh?” You smiled.

“So.  Being eleven has pretty much sucked so far, huh?”

You laughed and your eyes filled with tears.  I turned away and offered to make you some eggs for breakfast.  I don’t usually cook in the morning but I wanted to be busy and I couldn’t look at you.  I knew if you looked me in the eyes you would try to stay home with me today.  I can’t ever fool you.

“It’s just that everything we do all day will make us miss him even more, Mom.  It will really feel real when I get off the bus.  Even though it’s different now, like he doesn’t run down the driveway anymore, he still comes out…”

You stood and I wrapped you in my arms.  You have grown so tall.  And you have grown into this warm, compassionate, funny girl.  We held onto one another in the kitchen until Lucy barged in and broke up our sobfest.

Yesterday, after Fisher was gone, we were sitting in the living room, you and me and Dad.  I mentioned that I should probably throw out his dog bed before one of us was curled up in it, breathing in his scent and sobbing.  Dad broke the silence as he said “Yeah, Mom is really trying to help me save face here because I was just about to do that…” Your laughter was so perfectly right on time.


Not an hour before Fisher was gone you were eating an oatmeal raisin cookie and you broke off a little piece for him  You stopped and pulled your hand back “But the raisin….” and we all laughed.  You have my same horrible sense of humor.  But you have a quiet confidence that didn’t come from me.  I love it.

Em, I am sorry that this birthday will always be the day before Fisher died.  But I will never forget the gracious, loving, incredible young woman you turned into when you were only eleven years and one day old.  I asked you if you wanted to be in the room when Fish was put to sleep and you said that you did.  And then I asked you for a difficult favor.  “Baby, I am going to need to be there for Fish. And just kind of do everything I need to do for me to let him go, if you’re there, too, I am going to need you to just kind of take care of you for a minute and I feel awful even saying that…” You interrupted me to assure me that you knew that already and that you’d be fine.

The veterinary assistant was carrying Fisher to the front door when you sat down in my lap and put your head onto my chest.  “Oh, Mommy….” Together, we wept.

This morning the bus pulled up at the bottom of the driveway and I kissed you quickly and said “Don’t worry about me today.” You smiled back at me.  “Impossible.”

You’re incredible, Emily June.  I love you and your big puppy feet.



Fisher Banks: April 1, 2003 – September 19, 2016

I am almost always the first one out of bed.  There is a light on the kitchen counter and I turn it on and head towards the coffee maker.  Right about then there is usually a thump.  Fisher is jumping out of bed.  He heads into the kitchen and I say “Go back to bed, buddy.  It’s early.”

For years he would head straight to his dog bowl but recently he would sometimes head back to the bedroom.  I would return to the bedroom and help him back into bed.  Sometimes when I left in the morning I would fill his bowl and he would still be snoozing.

This morning I went out into the kitchen and wept.  He was gone.

Last week I took Fisher in for a check up.  The days that he decided not to eat had been outnumbering the days that he was eating.  Lab tests came back and indicated that something wasn’t quite right.  Our vet asked if we wanted to come back in later in the week for x-rays.  I explained that Emily would be turning eleven on Sunday and that I needed the weekend.  We started him on some antibiotics and hoped for the best.

On Saturday I almost called the vet to say that I felt like I had my old dog back.  On Sunday morning I fed him before I left for a run. I came home to discover that he had tricked Mike and the kids into feeding him again.  Old man was up to his old tricks. Emily’s birthday was the kind of day where we were all together and everything was just right. I went to bed Sunday evening with my girls upstairs and Fisher curled up on my feet.  If an ordinary day can be almost perfect than Sunday nearly was.

I struggle with Em’s birthdays.  She is getting older every day it seems and her independence is startling.  When I woke up just after midnight I was teary and struggled to go back to sleep.  I ran up the stairs and peeked in on each of the girls.  I let Fisher outside and sat on the couch to wait for him to come back and scratch at the door.  He was out longer than normal so I opened the door and called for him.  For a moment I thought “If that bastard went outside and died tonight I will never forgive him.”  It was dark and I really didn’t want to be out on my knees in the dirt sobbing.  Just then he came around the corner and he looked so tired.  We came back in and he went straight to the bedroom.  I tried to get him to come back out for some water but he didn’t want any.

I went back to the bedroom and patted his spot on the bed.  For weeks now I have helped him get the back legs up.  He would jump up into bed when nobody was home but if I was home he would whine until I helped him. “Come on, let’s go to bed.”  He curled up on the floor and he wouldn’t look at me.  I went back to bed and tossed and turned.  Eventually I joined him on the floor and listened to him snore, pressing my face against his ears as I have done so many times before.

In the morning I told Mike that I was worried about him.  He didn’t eat.  We joked that he was likely still full from Sunday’s double breakfast.  I admitted that I was possibly just being melodramatic what with Em’s birthday and Lucy sleeping in her own bed.  I was running out of babies to baby and was just focusing all of my attention on my old man.  We sat on the front porch and waited for the school bus.  Lucy and Fisher were slow to come back up the front steps.

In the morning I called the vet to schedule a time to take him back in.  They had an appointment in the late afternoon available.  I hung up and put it on the calendar and the phone rang.  “You can bring him in right now if you’d rather.”

When our vet came back in with the lab results she said that his hematocrit levels had dropped rapidly in the five days since they had seen him.  She said his anemia was likely the cause of his lethargy and that x-rays could give us some answers.  I said “I would rather be worried sick and here than worried sick and at home.  We can stay all day if we need to…”

Lucy and Fish and I just lay on the floor and goofed off.  Lucy is good company when I am worried.  She has a pretty black and white world view.  “We don’t even know what’s wrong yet, Mom!” So no tears from me!

When the vet came back in after his x-rays she said “Lucy do you want come up front and color a picture for a minute while we talk to your Mom?” I knew everything I needed to know right then.  “We just took one picture and that was all we needed to see.”

I am not much of a hugger but as she said “It’s cancer and it’s in his lungs,” I clung to her in the hopes that I would not slide to the floor.  “You don’t have to do anything right now.  But you will need to make some decisions soon.  He is one tough dog…”

I explained that I felt like I was crazy this morning but that I knew.  You read those stories about how people live until their grandchild is born and then they pass in their sleep.  Or a husband passes and days later the wife joins him.  He had given me one more weekend.  I had asked him for one more and he rallied.  But he was holding on just barely and I had to let him go.

Lucy was coloring calmly in the lobby.  “Come on, Lu, we are going to take Fish home.” In silence the three of us got back in the car.  It had been pouring down rain all morning, a perfectly gloomy morning. I had seven hours.  Seven more hours to make sure he knew that I loved him.

Mike came home quickly and picked up Em from school.  She knew right away when she saw him that it was Fisher. “Baby girl, Fish is sick…. we have to say goodbye and let him go…”

We spent the day on the floor in the living room.  Shortly before the vet came to the house we tried to take him for one last walk.  He peed on some mailboxes.  He was trotting along and making me doubt our choices and I was sobbing as I watched him.  And then not a quarter of a mile from our house he just sat down.  He was done.  Mike went back to the house for the car and we sat in the middle of the street and laughed at our stubborn old man.  One more car ride and we were all back assembled in the living room.

Fisher was my constant.  In a life of heartbreak and new houses and divorce and new love and marriage and babies and change he was my one thing that was unwavering.   I have been dreading this day since Emily was only a few months old.  When the vet looked at me yesterday and said “Are you ready?” I lowered my face into his chest and sobbed.

Fish, I brought my babies home to you.   I will take care of the babies… you, go.  I got this….


Long Run

To say that I did not have high hopes for this morning’s long run was an understatement. I am walking the fine line between being committed and over-trained.  Triathlon training is awesome when you do it right.  When you don’t and you just mishmash your training schedule together by marrying a bike race plan and a half marathon plan with your swimming program you wind up having a schedule with a shitload of double workouts.  That works for me for the most part since I have the time.  But the risk of injury increases as the volume increases.  And injury is something I fear with every part of my being.

Injury would mean I would surely burn my house down and my kids would show up to school looking like feral children – unfed, unwashed and filthy.  Training keeps me sane. So. The pressure is on to not get hurt.

I’ve been trying something new.  The long, slow run. I used to run every run, bike every ride, swim every lap like it should be faster than the last.  If my six-mile run today was slower than the one a few days ago than surely I was not showing improvement and I was doing something wrong.  But the truth is I just get super tired.  Because I don’t ever rest.

So.  I am trying.  This morning’s plan for a long, slow run should have been just fine.  But my stomach was not stoked on this idea.  Runners know.  The stomach rules the mind.  If you wake up and poop before you put your shoes on – you will surely have a super sweet run.  Wake up and poop many times before you put your shoes on – danger ahead.

shoesI decided to risk it.  Routed my run past some of my favorite bathroom stops (to avoid this situation) and off I went. Running slowly is tough when I listen to tunes so I opted for podcasts.  I am head over heels in love with Chris Gethard’s Beautiful Anonymous podcast.  I hit play on my phone in iTunes.  I hit go on my Garmin.  I erupted into laughter as I looked at the title. Hot Scoop.  56 minutes and 12 seconds of poop stories.

I love a poop story.  I do.  As I wound around downtown in and out of the Hog Day 5K I was chuckling.  Nothing makes you feel like a bigger fool than running in the middle of a 5K with four water bottles.  Ever see one of those kids wearing a jacket and gloves and a scarf on the first day that it is less than 70 degrees outside?  I felt like that kid.  Anyway… the miles and the poop stories were ticking by and I was settling into the slowest run in history.

I always, always run roads that I know.  I add up miles in my head and have a plan all of the time.  I am not sure exactly what came over me but I turned up a street and found myself on a road that I’ve never run before.  It just went up.  And up.  And up some more. All of a sudden I noticed a new feeling.  I didn’t care that I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t care that it was all uphill.  I couldn’t see the end but I was content to just keep trucking along because I knew that eventually I could turn around and come back down.  The street name – Hill Avenue.  cemetery

Just as I got to thinking that I really should probably look at the map and make sure I wasn’t going to dump myself out on a highway I saw a cemetery, Rosewood Cemetery.

In the spring of 1990 I got a teeny tiny rose tattoo. It is one of only a couple of tattoos that I have ever picked off of a flash sheet.  This teeny little rose is quite possibly the most common tattoo in all of the world.  I have seen it on ankles and shoulders and wrists in my travels over the last twenty-six years more often than I count.  (Holy, shit I have a twenty-six year old tattoo!) The image on the Rosewood Cemetery sign – it was my red flower.  tattoo
I ran past the cemetery for another few minutes before I bumped into a highway and opted to turn around and enjoy the downhill ride.

I struggled with the downhill.  The data-driven psycho in me wanted to take advantage of the downhill to drop my average speed back down to something I would consider more respectable.  But I tried to keep it slow.  I focused on my breath.  I focused on everything around me.  And then like a gift from the universe I looked up and saw Occoneechee Mountain.  I live less than half a mile from there but rarely have an opportunity to really see it.

I stopped and took a picture and just looked.  I love where I live.  That’s kind of a big deal, guys.  Not everyone can say that. It’s hard to see it in the picture but in the background there…. that’s a mountain!


Just about here the poop stories were wrapping up and Chris Gethard moved on to chat with a young woman who was in what she described as “a cardboard boat.”  She was sinking, in spite of her best efforts to cobble together a life that was well-designed.  Was it just made of the wrong materials? Chris’ podcast is a beautiful opportunity to listen to people talk and an even more wonderful opportunity to hear Chris share the many tidbits of wisdom he has collected after a decade in therapy.  Here I was running down a road I have never run when he says something to the effect of “My therapist told me to never walk the same way home from work twice.  The easiest way to get a fresh perspective on things is to literally look at new shit.  Every day.”  flowers

I have these new orange running shoes that I am not sure if I hate.  They are so orange.  Traffic cone orange.  A woman asked me the other day “do those make you run faster?” I said “They damn sure better because they sure as shit don’t look good.”

Running along and thinking about looking at new things I saw three orange roses.  I would never plant orange roses.  But they were beautiful.  And it made me kind of like my shoes a little better.

Sometimes I write a blogpost in my mind and try to get it all down before it’s gone.  Today I just had a feeling… this perfectly unplanned feeling of being content.  I just wanted to remember it.  Slow down.  Go a different way. Let go of expectations. Listen to the poop stories.  Laugh.  Keep going. You have no idea what you might see.





Goals: Smashing them

I am not a super competitive person.  Not in my life, not in triathlon.  I am just not.  I really believe that hocus pocus about how you’re only competing against yourself.  It’s true.  I struggle with my training because I want each run to be faster than the last.  And improvement comes in incremental leaps not daily.

This month has been big for me.  In the middle of my fourth season of triathlon I have started to make some improvement.  I rode the bike leg of Ironman Raleigh 70.3 a few weeks ago and I didn’t ride my brakes downhill.  And I did not die.  At all.  I used my aerobars even though I still feel like I am going to crash because my hands aren’t even touching my brakes and I figured out what it feels like to blow your legs out on the bike.  (Awesome, by the way.)

racerThis last weekend I raced my first sprint with a pool swim in over a year and I passed a bunch of folks so apparently I hugely overestimated my swim time.  

And then I went all out on the bike and figured I would just see if I could run.  At all.  And I smashed my personal record for a 5K.  Not a 5K in a tri.  But at all.  It was crazy. I felt like George Jetson.  In my head I was all “Jane!  Stop this crazy thing!!!!” but my legs just kept moving.

Another fitness related accomplishment is as much about my head is it is the rest of me. I started running without my shirt on.  And it isn’t pretty. But I feel like a badass and it seems that people will not actually DIE if they see my stomach in motion.  Stretch marks don’t tan so they are just whiter and more bold than ever but I am over worrying about it. I stopped in the bathroom on a run recently and when I looked in the mirror I noted that I looked like a “runner.”  Intellectually I know that runners come in all shapes and sizes but I have always felt like a poser.  runner

The last accomplishment is one that I hesitate to speak about. It feels more personal.  You know, since I don’t get naked and stand on the bathroom scale in front of all of you.  But it feels good to be proud of yourself, and dammit, I am.  I have lost a good bit of weight this year in my “Get Your Shit Together Before You Turn 40!” plan and I have maintained it. I have had to change my race registrations from Athena to Age Group since I no longer qualify.  And it feels weird.  I have identified as a big kid for the last ten years. I actually enjoyed that moment when I told someone that I was just a little shy of 200 pounds and they raised an eyebrow and said “No fucking way!” But I am down almost 40 pounds and I run faster and sleep better and drink less alcohol and wear ALL OF MY CLOTHES because holy shit, they fit!!!

Silly that I had to go stand in a store and weigh myself and purchase three months of a diet program to put into practice the same dietary advice that my mother has been giving free of charge since I was a kid.  “Mom, I am hungry.”  “Eat an apple.”  “I don’t want an apple.”  “Well, then you’re not hungry.”

I don’t do low-fat food.  And I don’t do diet food.  But I started eating real food.  And a lot of it.  And I dropped weight.  And then I got faster. And then I stayed the same weight for two months and got faster still.   I can’t believe that those things are not connected.

I was eating an apple (from my purse because I carry snacks around like I am my own toddler) and thinking the other day as I walked into Target.  I eat like an athlete.  I am fueling my body and my workouts and caring for myself.  I’ll be damned.

shower beer

I didn’t turn into a different person.  I still drink cheap beers in the shower.  I just make better choices when I get out of the shower.  Another perk?  It seems that losing weight has made my boobs all but disappear so now I can share my shower beer pics with no boobs in sight unless I take them from the waist up! Long boobs, indeed!

I am not that competitive.  Not with other people.  But with myself?  I want to get there faster than I did last time.  Every single time. I spent ten years gaining and losing the same 40 pounds. But I can guarandamntee that I won’t do it again.  Because this feels so good.  I feel like me again.

Running last weekend I was thinking about how I am not normally motivated to speed up by other runners.  We are all in our own race, on our own journey.  But there was this kid in front of me.  Well, he was behind me at first but then he was in front of me.  And I couldn’t stand it. I gave it all I had to try and catch him.  The weekend before I was climbing up a hill on my bike and feeling strong when I heard that whirring sound of fancy wheels and “On your left!” I moved to the side and prepared to be passed.  Out of habit I looked at his calf to check his age.  64.  I dug deep and passed him on the next hill.

I guess I am a little competitive.  I don’t like to get passed by people I could have given birth to or people that could have given birth to me.  That’s my window of shame.  And I don’t want to feel like I live in a body that doesn’t feel like mine.    Eventually the triathletes I could have given birth to won’t be in elementary school and I will have to revise my plan.

But for now – I have goals.  And I am smashing them, friends.  Set some.  Aim high.  It feels so damn good.  It feels even better if those goals serve absolutely nobody but you.  Be selfish. Take care of yourself.  Take naps.  Take risks.  I triple dog dare you.


The Time My Boobs Scared Me

10400783_23189174818_6016_nIt was almost 25 years ago that I realized that my boobs had tremendous power.  My portrayal of Hippolyta in my high school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was nothing if not lackluster but the deep v of my black body suit meant that all I really had to do was stand there.  My boobs had the stage presence of an Amazonian Queen (albeit one with a possibly historically inaccurate complete set of knockers.)

My boobs and I went to college and found employment behind the bar.  My smart mouth and my perky young boobs made pretty stellar money for about a decade.  When my older daughter was born and I retired from tending bar I am betting my boobs thought they’d get a break.  Nope.  I put those boobs to work overtime.  I realized that these magical orbs were not only mama’s moneymakers but they were baby’s favorite, too.  200717_4339414818_6821_n

In breastfeeding I found my maternal confidence.  And when I had questions about how to feed my baby my boobs led me to finding my tribe.  Breastfeeding helped me stumble into attachment parenting and co-sleeping and a million labels that helped me to know that I absolutely knew how to be a mother to my baby.  I learned everything I could so that I could tell other new moms to just trust themselves.  Funny that we all need facts to tell us to trust our guts, such is the first of many things that make no sense about parenting.

As my hell-raising and breastfeeding days were behind me and my life settled into that of a newly single mother my boobs took a little hiatus.  I celebrated them both (both boobs as well as the hell-raising and the baby feeding) with this tattoo!10399078_14608134818_1575_n

When my youngest was born my boobs got back on board and played their part.  I imagine that they heaved a heavy sigh and got ready as they knew this time around that it was likely a long road.  Four years and three months later… Lucy has started sleeping through the night. Sometimes she even falls asleep without me.  And without “boobie.”  I can see the end of the road and it is bittersweet.  Nursing babies has been part of my life for nine of my almost eleven years as a mother. It has led me to yet another tribe of women.  Volunteering with Best for Babes has been a meaningful part of my life for several years.12985375_10154095684209819_2276035083554733050_n

As my 40th birthday approached I decided to go ahead and get a mammogram. I did my hair for the occasion.  Like you do.  No big deal, right?  mammoWhen the technician apologized for any discomfort I laughed and explained that my boobs barely belonged to me anymore. These “long boobs” can reach a kid in a car seat in the backseat while I am driving! I kid, I kid.  Sort of.   Think a few glass plates are going to bother me?  Pfft.

“Now most women will receive a call back since this is your baseline mammogram.  Don’t worry if we call you back in.”


So then they called.  And I worried.  And worried some more. Because everything is so…. ok. This last decade has been a bumpy ride, y’all.  But I am looking down the barrel of 40 and thinking that this is going to be my decade!  I was ready to coast into 40 with my smile bright, a husband that is crazy about me (most of the time,) two healthy kids, a ridiculous addiction to triathlon that keeps me healthy, my boobs in retirement and sleeping through the night!  Life was looking good.

“Well, I don’t really like what I am seeing on these images so we are going to need to do an ultrasound.”

And my stomach dropped.  I had that moment when your life is a Lifetime movie and suddenly you are Valerie Bertinelli and you are wearing so much mascara and you’re crying and there is shitty music playing and you know that absolutely nothing good is going to come of you wearing this unusually soft cape dress that opens in the front.sad

And so the ultrasound technician does that thing where they bite the inside of their mouth and go back and forth over the same place again and again and I tried to make jokes and she just kept taking pictures and typing illegible things on a screen I could not quite read.  “Now you just relax here and I will take these down to Radiology and be back in a few.”

“Sure,” I said, “I will just kick back and play on my phone and contemplate my imminent death. None of us get our of here alive anyway, right?”  I laughed.  And she closed the door and I let myself cry.

Five minutes later the radiologist came in (that can’t be a good sign, right?) and says “Everything is fine.  But I am going to show you what I am looking at so you don’t have to take my word for it.” She adjusted her dials and smiled at me with her warm face and said “When I was your age and my kids were small we didn’t have all of these fancy machines so we just had to wait and worry.  Since you’re still nursing I am guessing that what we saw before was maybe a milk duct that was full?”

And I started to laugh and cry and wipe snot on my arm since I had no sleeves.  Breastfeeding for longer than  a year can actually lower your risk of cancer.  But evidently it can increase your chances of being certain that you most definitely have it for the five minutes it takes for a radiologist to look at your pictures.

At the end of it all… Everything’s ok.  I will go back in six months when my milk ducts are dried up and my last baby has hopefully weaned and I will get another round of pictures.  And I will surely get called back in because we still don’t have a baseline of images to look at, really.

The other day in swim practice we got to dive off the block and do 25 yard sprints.  I have not dived off a swim block since I was 10 years old and I was petrified.  I told my coach “When something scares the snot out of me and my first instinct is to say No Way – that’s when I know I have to do it.” That has been my Life Plan these last few years.  So far, so good. I considered putting off my baseline mammogram because I wasn’t sure I was in a headspace that could stomach the potential worry.  But I was scared.  So I went all in.

In the last month I have had one of those roller coaster rides of the mind when you imagine that thing, the thing you fear the most.  And I am not saying that I fear breast cancer more than anything else, not at all.  In fact, in the five minutes I waited for the doctor this morning I let my mind go all the way there.  I would fight hard and I would be ok.  And I would get some brand new boobs as a present when it was all said and done and twenty-five years from now I would write another blog post about the twenty-five years I had spent embracing these new boobs.  Because I am in my heart of hearts an optimist.  I am a Lemonade maker.

The thing I fear the most is feeling Stupid.  I have been making lemonade from lemons for much of my adult life.  But in the last couple of years things have started to slow down and I have relaxed into a groove that feels so incredibly … ok.  And deep down I am scared that Life will start handing out something even worse than lemons… Sucker Punches? And I will feel stupid for relaxing and believing that maybe, just maybe, it was all going to turn out alright.

But for today…. I am relieved.  And I am grateful.  And I am bawling and sweaty in a co-op grocery store in a town that I adore while my kids are in schools that I am pleased with and my husband is at a job that he mostly likes after a run that I cut short because I kept crying.  And I am ok.  sweat

I hope you’re ok, too.  And I hope you do things that scare you.  Big ones and small ones.  Because this life is made up of choices, millions of choices. The moments that I have chosen to be brave I have never regretted.  





16 days until…

I haven’t written about running skirts in years.  Or crotch sweat. All things have a season, I suppose.  Apparently running skirts are on their way out and short shorts are coming back with a vengeance. Who knew? Lucky for you crotch sweat never goes out of style.

Observations from the morning. Sixteen days until my 40th birthday….

legsThese legs and these comically large feet just ran a 5K in less time than I have in a few years. Possibly ever.

I’ve been busting my ass lately and decided to see if my favorite running skirt would let me run without lighting my thighs on fire. Applying BodyGlide to the thighs this morning (because they still touch y’all, even down 30 pounds) and Lucy asks “is that for when your vagina sweats?”

Umm. Something like that.

Today has already been amazing.  My vagina sweat was totally under control.  My legs carried me 3.1 miles with the swiftness.  I am totally over my stomach virus.  And in less than an hour I get to have my first mammogram.

What’s your Thursday look like?  May your vagina sweat be light, your legs fast and your mammogram technician gentle.


Sometimes when I run the Signs are so obvious that I can’t NOT see them. Today’s signs made so much sense I have to share them.

I have gazillions of pictures on my phone that I snap while I am running.  I see something that is such an obvious metaphor for Life.  I grab a quick pic and keep trucking.  I write a blog post in my mind while my feet hit the ground and then by the time I get back home I am at peace with my Thoughts and writing it all down seems like it is no longer necessary.   To that end much of the time you are spared these brilliant epiphanies.

But not today! It’s your lucky day!

You may or may not know that I have been jamming in direct sales for over a year.  I am not a Sales Person.  Putting yourself out there is hard and scary and you’re not supposed to say “fuck” when you’re Being Professional so it is absolutely astounding to me that I have been at it this long and am experiencing even a moderate level of success.  The last few months I have really been trying to dig deep and figure out why I am doing this, how long I will continue, where I see this business going and what my Plan really is.  In every direction I just felt like I could see a few months into the future but I really couldn’t see myself further down that path.  Or I couldn’t see the path to get to where I did see myself.

So. I am thinking about all of this and slowly running uphill and I turn. I turned down a street I have run down a bazillion times but that I never, ever go down on my way up the hill.  I always detour when I am coming down (to break up the glorious downhill because I am a masochist.)



Yep.  It does.  It absolutely does.  So, you gotta just Go. Go up over the hill and look.  You don’t have to go down it.  You don’t have to keep headed in that direction but you won’t ever, ever know what is on the other side of that hill if you don’t keep your feet in motion and get up over it.  There are hills in every direction that I look lately and I have been paralyzed with indecision because of them.  Not anymore.  The hills might be blocking the view but there is not a damn thing preventing me from sludging up them.

Onward and upward, friends.

Feeling pretty darn full of myself and content with the world I kept running.



Even when I am at my most wise I max out at about twelve years old.  This sign made me laugh.  Why?  Why would you want to stop here when you’re flashing?  Why would you not want to flash elsewhere?  Or simply flash on the run (although technically then I suppose you would be streaking.)

What did I take away from this sign?  Life throws you a bone and gives you a little direction? Just do what you’re told.  Maybe it will be worth it.

So. That’s what a mile and a half of swimming and six miles of running will do to me.  Life.  All figured out.  Just like that with the help of some Signs.


Heart & Soul

Emily has a dance today after school.  You will have to believe me when I say she looks adorable. There are no pictures.

We were sitting at the kitchen counter finishing her hair and laughing.  “You look so cute, Em.  Messy bun was a good choice.”

And then there was the bus.  Honking.

“I can drive you to school,” I said.  I might have yelled.  In retrospect I feel like I was pleading already, as if I knew what would happen next.

“It’s okay! I can catch it, I love you!!!!” She had her backpack on her shoulder and she was out the door and down the driveway and all of a sudden I was standing on the porch with a cup of coffee I hadn’t even yet sipped and I was crying.

She’s not leaving for college. She’s going to school and then she is going to the gym to stand around and eat a heart-shaped cookie and do the Whip and Nae Nae with 87 girls and 12 boys.  She is wearing cowboy boots and a leopard print dress and black leggings and silver hoop earrings and a messy bun.  She is wearing the tiniest bit of eye shadow and a bit of lip gloss.

And I love her.  She is my Valentine.  She is the one that healed my heart so long ago. And I will stand far away from her and say “I love you, baby girl, have fun!” while the tears roll down my face so many more times.

Slow down, Time.  Slow down.

Picture shamelessly stolen from her private Instagram account.

Picture shamelessly stolen from her private Instagram account.



Let me share with you a fantastic idea.  Get yourself comfortable.  Find your groove. Rarely meet new people.  Get to a place where you almost never have that awkward “first day of school” feeling.  The next step is important.  Eat everything, everything in sight for about a month. And then…. sign up for something.  Make sure it is something that makes you a little bit nervous.  And make sure you have to take off all of your clothes as soon as you arrive.  And put on a swim cap.  Perfect.

How comfortable do you feel now? That’s how I was feeling on Monday morning.  Masters Swimming.  Day 1. Masters (if you are not familiar) is code for old people, club sport, not to be confused with the US Masters Golf Tournament. Masters Swimming is a come as you are and let’s get in the pool, competitive swim team for people over 25. All lumped together, we are the retired runner with blown out knees that has never run a day in his or her life, the former collegiate swimmer,  the triathletes that hate the swim.  And the 39-year-old former swim teacher that thinks she is a decent swimmer but has cripplingly low self-esteem and is afraid of finding out that she doesn’t actually know a damn thing about swimming.  Wait.  That was me.

So.  I was feeling like I might pee my pants.  And I didn’t have on pants.

And a beautiful thing happened.  A friendly face!  She said “Hello!” and we chatted for a second and she said, “I read a blog post of yours. I think someone forwarded it to me and said “You gotta read this, it’s hilarious.”

She didn’t pet me on the head and say “You’re so pretttyyyy…” and to be quite honest I can not understand how she failed to see what a raving beauty I am.  But I will take it. Hilarious.

swim cap

So I jumped in the pool.  And I asked questions when I didn’t understand.  And I admitted what I do not know.  And I learned something. I swam a long ass way and I felt great.

I am apparently still six years old underneath my swim cap and my forehead wrinkles.  When the coach noted that we had the same watch I took it as a sign.  He thinks I am a stellar student, obviously.  I resisted yelling out “YES!  It is a VivoActive!  Same same!!  Twins!!”

So, that’s what’s up over here.  Swim swim swim.



Crash & Burn

Heeeey.  It’s been a hot minute, huh? So much has happened.  My sweet, funny big girl turned TEN.  Lucy started preschool. MQD started a new job.   I ran a marathon.  I finally bought light fixtures for the kitchen.

And so much has stayed so very much the same.  I am still nursing and co-sleeping with Lucy.  I am falling in love with my adorable husband more every day.  I am still a mostly stay at home mom and grateful for it almost all of the time.  I am still treading water in a strange place where I am proud of my physical accomplishments and hating the body that makes them happen.

But the big Sameness… the Thing that I thought was gone and has come back and hit me in the face like a long-forgotten boomerang… Depression.  I thought for a while I was “better.”  Or maybe I thought it was seasonal. Or maybe I thought it was just Post Race Blues.  But it was still warm outside when it hit me this time.  The kids were just starting school.  MQD had just started a new job.  Life was rich and exciting and joyous and I was… numb.  Again.  And when I saw it coming like a wave and I knew that there was no chance in hell that I would be able to jump over it – well, I did the only thing I knew to do –   I held my nose and went under.  Marathon training was a nice little band-aid.  A mid-November marathon meant I had miles to run, things to do, very little time to mope.

But still the late summer wasn’t good to me.  I spoke up.  I reached out. I said it out loud. “I struggle with Depression and sometimes it drags me under.”  But I never wrote it here.  Why?  There’s no shame in my game, that’s for sure.  I just didn’t have the oomph to get it all down and play catch up.  By the time I started to feel decent enough to sit and write it seemed like “old news.”  And then I started to feel better again, normal even.  So, I was busy living.

What’s the point of all of this?  Here?  I don’t know.  I miss writing.  I miss getting it all down, the moments that slip away unless we share them.  Our minds are in a constant state of sloughing off the old memories and replacing them with new and I am afraid that if I stop writing them down that they will disappear.  But I fear even more this weird space where what I have shared here is not representative of the Time that has passed.

Because here’s the thing – Depression is terribly boring.  Mind-numbingly dull, really.  Imagine the entry I would write.  “So.  Today sucked.  Why? Mostly because of Nothing.  Everything is Fine, really, but today was super bad.  But it doesn’t matter.  Nobody is probably reading this anyway because I am so terrible and everyone hates me.”  A few of those in a row and then a Good Day just to mix things up.  “Woke up today and felt awesome.  Cleaned the entire house, mowed the grass, ran 871 miles, hugged my people and had a great dinner!  Everything is Awesome!  I did All The Things!!”

I despise this week.  The week after Thanksgiving is the worst.  Christmas season is closing in and I just want to climb into bed and stay there.  I love the holidays, I do.  But they exhaust me.  I want them to be “Perfect.”  Perfect holidays?  Ha! Are this week’s Blues a product of being overwhelmed by a To-Do list a mile long or is this the boomerang of Depression that never really leaves me but just takes temporary leave? The truth is, I am not sure.

I am tremendously sad that the marathon is behind me. It gave me a focus.  A wise friend once shouted to some runners “You can’t run from your problems!” but I beg to differ.  When your problems are just chemicals in your brain you can certainly do a decent job of waging war against them with some exercise endorphins.  A new training plan and a fitness goal for 2016 will help to keep the Sad at bay, I am sure.

I reached out to another wise friend (I am surrounded by smart, good people, another reason why being Depressed is so Stupid!) just to mention that it was an uphill battle to stay out of bed this week.  I pointed out that being a stay at home mother and a Depressive is like trying to get sober in a bar.  When all I want out of a day is to get dressed and stay out of my bed – the stay at home part of this gig is tough.  But I am going to keep on keeping on.

I miss you guys.  The last six months have been terrible and wonderful all at once.  There has been so much more wonderful than terrible and for that I am grateful.  I am going to try to write again soon. I think that my heart needs it.  But for today I just wanted to say hello.  And I wanted to remind you that if you suffer from Depression or know someone who does – the holidays are hard.  Reach out.  Get help.  You’re worth it.  And you’re not alone. 11219421_10153755947064819_9141546464765793859_n