Category Archives: Parenting


Yesterday I posted a picture and mentioned my forehead wrinkles and my crinkly neck.  Lots of you kindly reminded me not to shit on myself for aging.  

I want to be more clear.  It was an observation.  I am aging.  And I don’t give a shit.  I can’t do anything about it.  And in fact, I am kind of proud of it.  Because it beats the alternative, right?  

We age. Right up until the moment we take our last breath we are hurtling towards our imminent death.  People tell me pretty often “I am dying!” when I ask them how they are doing in the gym.  I always answer the same, “we are all dying, it’s a matter of when.”  Sometimes I point out that I am not much of a gambler but I would put money on the likelihood that it isn’t looking like we are going to die today. I suppose that is my own little way of practicing gratitude. I am really setting the bar high, huh? Gonna give it everything I have to live all damn day!

This is a picture of two packages that I need to return.  This I really give a shit about it. 

It annoys me to no end because it is within my control. 

I hate that I don’t ever put the top all the way back on things and regularly spill shit everywhere when I pick it back up.  I wish I was a person that used everything in my fridge and didn’t throw stuff away.  There is a little shame involved in each fridge clean out.  Every time a dentist asks me about my flossing I just smile weakly and say “not often enough.”  I buy athletic equipment when I am not training enough. I swear a lot in front of my kids and I wonder if I am fucking them up.

Before you think that my aging gracefully is a sign of some kind of radical self-acceptance – rest assured that I have a laundry list of things about myself that need work. I am going to take those returns to the appropriate drop off points today. I will probably not screw all the tops on everything that I put back in the refrigerator. (Sorry, MQD.) I might make a list of things that I can cook with the stuff I have in my fridge and I might even cook them. But I might not.

And I am not going to kick the shit out of myself about any of these things. Because in the end I always come back to the same truth. If I really cared about it, I could change it. And if I haven’t? Well, then I guess it just doesn’t bother me that much. There is tremendous peace in that.

I hope that everything on your Give a Shit list is something you can do something about. If something has been on that list for a long time and you haven’t done anything about it take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you actually give a shit or if you just think that you should. There is freedom in erasing things from the list not because they are finished or changed but because you decided you just don’t actually give a shit.

I suppose this is my own version of The Serenity Prayer, huh? Only in my version I grant myself the serenity and there is a little more swearing.

Edited to add: I just took “Swearing in front of my kids” off the list. I do not, in fact, give a shit about that after all. See how easy this is?!


It’s been more than a year since I wrote something down. Plenty has happened in the last year, some of it has even been worth remembering. Here’s a snapshot.

I stopped into Emily’s room last night and said “Hey. There’s a song that makes me think of you. Can I play it for you?” Miraculously, she turned off her tunes and gave me the aux. Aux cord privileges are the modern day chance to pick the radio station. I started to play the song and I could feel the tears well up behind my eyes. Before we got to the chorus I was a wreck.

“I’ve got time, I’ve got love
Got confidence you’ll rise above
Give me a minute to hold my girl
Give me a minute to hold my girl”
– George Ezra, Hold My Girl

I looked up at her as the chorus repeated. She walked towards me and was a sniffling mess. “Oh, sweet girl, you are so my girl….” She let me wrap my arms around her. As grown up as she may become I have been given the good fortune of a kid that remains shorter than me. I can still smell her head as my arms wrap around her and for that I am grateful.

She was crying. I was crying. Lucy pops in as she is always in fear of being left out of breaking news “Guys, are you ok? What happened?”

“Just a song, Lu. I was telling Emily that this song makes me think about how quickly you guys are growing up and sometimes I just want a minute to hug it out.”

This is my kid that actually refuses what she has come to call my “pep talks.” I didn’t think I was going to get very far with her but I was on a “hug the kids” roll so I tried…. Sat down next to her on Emily’s bed and asked “Isn’t it about time for you to go to bed?

“You mean it’s time for YOU to go to bed.”

She had me there. I scrambled for a reason to put her to bed that was not “I am tired and ready to go to sleep and before I do I would like to lie down in the dark with my arms around you, please.”

Emily interrupted my thought process and simply stated “I can put her to bed. She is helping me pick out what to wear to school tomorrow.”

Before I could argue I was being escorted out of Emily’s room amidst conversation of exactly when Lucy could ride in the front seat of a car that Emily would be driving and the places they would go.

You frequently hear a parent lament that they wish time would slow down, their kids are growing up too fast. I don’t need things to slow down. I just wish they would stop right here, just for a few days. This moment. Emily and Lucy are joyful in one another’s presence, tolerant of my schmaltz. MQD is enjoying his work, even in the midst of a tedious day. My people are healthy today. The sun is shining in February for the second day in a row.

Nine years and one month and about a week ago Emily said “It’s a sister!!!” as Lucy was placed on my chest. Emily crawled into the bed with me and MQD. Lucy became Lucy instead of Baby D. And we became the four of us. And last night looked just exactly the way I imagined it would be.

This morning I told Em that last night was an almost perfect evning for a couple of sisters. Or so I would think. I don’t have one. She sent me these pictures. I am glad that I have them. The pictures and the girls.

Trusting Emily June

Dear Em,

I used to write you letters so that you could look back someday and remember what you were like when you were little…. as I sit down now to write to you, I realize that perhaps you should write a letter to me.  I wonder if years from now I could accurately describe the Emily June that is fourteen.  Could you even describe yourself these days?

Baby, I look at that long body asleep on the couch on a Saturday afternoon and I wonder if I even know her.  You breeze through the kitchen with sports bags and lunch boxes and backpacks, a whirlwind of mess and things and homework and hungry and I wish we could just stop and look at one another.  I can see the little girl you once were.  And sometimes I can see the fully grown Emily June you will someday be…. but that teenage girl that you are this very minute, sometimes I wonder if I know her at all.

Trust.  That is what we are building right now.  Sometimes I barely see you for days on end and I trust that you will holler if you need me.  I am certain you will text me when you need cash or forgotten softball cleats.  But I must trust that if you need me…. you will climb back into my bed.  You will curl up under my arm and let me hold you once more.  I must trust that my smart, savvy teenager will use her big, beautiful mind and “make good choices.”

Trust.  I don’t get to hug you very often but when I do I bury my face against the top of your head and I inhale and I trust that you will still smell like you.

Trust.  I give you boundaries and tools instead of hard and fast rules and I trust that you will find your own way.  It may not always look like my way or the path that I’d have chosen but I must trust that you are finding your way, the only way you know how.

Trust.  I must trust that in these short years that we have left together, in one house, we will solidify this family unit.  We will be the safe place to which you return.  Forever.

You will be fine.  You are smart and kind and confident.  You will not choose to eat Bojangles for every meal some day and you will eventually hang up a wet towel without being reminded.  You are doing a pretty damn fine job of growing up.

Baby, I trust you.  Know that.  Remember it.  My trust is not something I give freely.  I love you with my whole heart and I trust that these next few years might be a little messy.  And you know what? When I tell you “No” or dig around behind your back for more information, it is not that I do not trust you.  I trust that you are turning out to be a perfectly imperfect teenager.  You’re going to screw up, you’re going to get back up and try again.  My wish for you is that you fail spectacularly from time to time.  Why?  It will mean that you set yourself some big, fat, audacious (look it up) goals and you tried.

Now is the time for you to trust me.  I have your back.  Look.  And then leap, Baby Girl.  We just get this one life.  Get after it, Em.  Your dad and I are here for you when you fall.  Trust that.

As a side note, may I say that I am simply SHOCKED to hear that you did not wear this adorable birthday hat to school!! Last time your sister and I pick out a darling birthday hat clip on hair piece for you at Party City, harrruumph!!


I love you.  Happy Birthday, baby.


Momma (I still do not know why you insist on calling me this or spelling it this way, but after fourteen years, I give up.)


And here are your birthday letters from the past….











Lucky Number Seven

It is the eve of Lucky Number Seven.  It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I was trying to figure out exactly how a person can be so certain that another person is “right.”

And yet today, seven years after we were married, I sat across a table from MQD and laughed.  And I looked at him and I thought simply,   “We’re gonna make it.”

We went to lunch today.  We had a cocktail at the bar where we tend to end up.  I wore my wedding dress because I like to get it out every year for our  anniversary date.  We did the things that we always do.  Because we have at long last been together long enough to have things that we always do.

Good grief, I love this man. After seven years, that’s all I’ve got.  I just do.  No need to elaborate on it, really.  Because he knows.  And I have never felt so sure of anything.

It feels good to do the things you always do.  I’ve got big plans to keep on loving this man.  And maybe, just maybe I will write again soon.  It was a thing I always did once.



Wonderful & Sparkly

Like many of you I have spent the last week wondering about the many, many people in this country that I do not understand.  I have reached out privately to a handful of people to ask simply “Help me to understand.”

No matter which side of the aisle you call home it is quite likely that you have recently become painfully aware that there is a huge population of people that think, act, feel differently than you.  We live in a world where we can carefully cultivate our social media feeds and our friendships.  Through the simple act of sharing time with people with whom we have mutual interests we insulate ourselves from those that are different.

This morning I took the girls to see a bit of the Central Carolina Synchro Classic before church.  I was sitting on the floor of the ice rink looking around before the skaters performed.  Hundreds of families gathering to watch their kids perform feats of synchronized figure skating.  The makeup, the hair, the costumes, the anticipation.  Judges and banners and accessories that I had never seen before.  It was like I was inside a scene that I didn’t even know existed before this morning.

And then the kids “took the ice.” (See?  That’s a phrase, take the ice, that I didn’t even know until this morning.) It was amazing.  I had no idea what I was watching. It was like watching football games when I was young.  It was exciting. All of those people, the music, the uniforms, and the equipment and the cheering.  I had not a clue what I was looking at. So they were spinning in a circle and holding hands and I started wondering “Is this good?  Are these kids really great? Is this impressive?  I have no idea.”  The only figure skating I see regularly is the Olympic skating on television.  The only skating I have seen in person is the Ice Capades.  I really had no frame of reference.

This morning’s trip to see the skaters didn’t start out as a political statement.  I was not crossing  a great divide to mingle among the skaters.  I was simply indulging my little one’s interests because she will be skating as a mouse in our local Nutcracker on Ice this year. Before I volunteer to help out I figured I had better get an idea of what this stuff is all about.  But all of a sudden I realized I was sitting in a large room with hundreds of people that I didn’t understand.  I had no idea what it takes to be doing what they’re doing.  But I could admire it.

It was wonderful.  And sparkly.

I am going to try so very hard in coming weeks to put myself into groups of people that I don’t understand, groups of which I am not a part.  Because I don’t know what I might find.  As I was leaving this morning I ran into an old friend from high school.  Haven’t seen her since probably 1993ish?  I wouldn’t have run into her if I just stayed in my box where I belong.

I triple dog dare you to go out into the world and seek out some people that are different than you.  It doesn’t have to be a different political ideology or an ethnicity that is different than yours to start.  Just open your eyes and see if there is something right in front of you that you don’t usually see.  For me – there is a synchronized ice skating team that practices at the gym.  And I have never really seen them until today.  And it turns out that they’re wonderful.  And sparkly.






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.