Wednesday, January 22, 2014

QOTD: What you do.

"In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you."

-Jonathan Harris

Read this.

Just read it. This guy somehow tells his life story in chapters without being narcissistic or elitist or condescending. There is 0.0% navel gazing and 100.0% beautiful introspection. I truly appreciate his thoughts on life and I hope he finds that beautiful farmhouse in a beautiful small town with a wife and a couple of kids while he writes and draws. Nothing wrong with dreaming.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


When you feel in your gut what you are and then dynamically pursue it, don't back down and don't give up-- then you're going to mystify a lot of folks.

-Bob Dylan

Friday, October 4, 2013

Run Fast For Your Mother

There are three things you learn very quickly about me if you are my friend. I am a mom. I am a runner. I am a lawyer. Reason being 85% of my life is dedicated to these three things. The remaining bits of me focus on cooking, husband, cocktails, and family.

Running and motherhood. Dang. Such blurred lines. So much similarities in these endeavors. So many similar feelings experienced day in and day out as I log my miles and go through my daily rituals with my kids. As a lifelong learner...I have found that running has made me a healthier mom and motherhood has made me a stronger runner.

Part 1: 9 Things Motherhood Has Taught Me About Running

(1) We Live to Fight Another Day: The days are long, the years are fast. And in motherhood, sometimes, the days are just so very long. I remember being so tired a little less than a year ago that I cried for basically weeks on end. I was in love with my newborn but he didn't sleep and his tummy issues kept us from really enjoying each other. I remember thinking it will never get better. I will never figure this baby out. Then those times when you snap at your toddler. Yuck. You lose your cool, you say something you don't mean and you hurt your kid's feelings. I have not been prepared for the complexity and the way that my four year old expresses hurt and anxiety and frustration. He will look at me through tears and say "when you tell me to hurry when I'm doing my best I get scared and hurt feelings because I am trying." Dagger. In. Heart.

When those days happen, I focus on the fact that kids are very quick to forgive. By the next morning, we reset, we try again. And usually as a parent, I have learned an important lesson. And so you must  learn and grow. You must be content in the reality that you get to start over tomorrow.

No matter what baggage you bring to running, you get a do-over button anytime you need one. I really appreciated that button this summer. I have not trained well for my next marathon. I've missed more runs that I could count. And yet...I make peace. 8 years ago (when I started doing marathons), I mentally degraded myself when I squandered a race. I would lose it if I didn't meet a running goal on any given day. It took the fun right out of running.  Since becoming a mama, I am far more forgiving of myself with my running. I know if I want to be faster and better I need to change up my plan and just do what it takes. If I don't do what it takes? There is always tomorrow. I have a day job and running is not it. As a result, I have to make peace when I let myself down. And many times I wake up again, with the beautiful and wonderful realization that I get to try again tomorrow.

(2) Coffee is Always the Answer: pretty simple. Motherhood = sleep deprivation. Running requires the same. Most of runners have day jobs. We have lives beyond running.

But if you love something, you give it your all. And sometimes that means staying up all night with a sick kid. Or getting up every two hours to soothe and feed a newborn. And for that? God made coffee.

If you want to run, you run at all odd hours. You get up at 4am and run 10 miles on abandoned streets while the world sleeps. Then you go to work with wet hair and you sit at your day job and recognize that familiar exhaustion. And for that? God made coffee. Warm, soothing, creamy, delicious coffee.

(3) Consistency is Key: When I was growing up my mom did in home day care. She said to me, for as long as I can remember, babies and children need routines and consistency. Consistency is absolutely vital to having a well balanced, well behaved, "good" kid. Oh mama you are SO RIGHT. My babies thrived on routine. And when it comes to discipline, you better never, ever let something slide that you aren't okay with all the time. A no no is always a no no. ALWAYS.

If you want to succeed as a runner you have to be consistent. You cannot imagine the results you will see if you are just consistent. Add nothing else to your training except consistency and you will make enormous progress. My husband (an incredibly accomplished runner) has a running streak of 4 or more miles each day for something crazy like 6 years. While it is completely crazy, it helps his body endure all the training. His body knows the routine, his legs can always carry him. And it's because he has never allowed himself to just take a month off for no reason or slack off on the holidays. Tragically, where I am right now...I could not be less consistent if I tried. Luckily I know lesson Number 1. And I plan to try again tomorrow. And maybe the day after that.

(4) The More Determined You Are the More Results You Get: When I was a brand new mom, in 2009, I knew I was going to have a really short maternity leave. And I knew in order to do what I needed to do to survive as a mommy lawyer, I needed my baby to be a good sleeper. Some say kids are just "born" sleepers. While I believe some are easier than others to coach, I will say this. I was determined Eliot would sleep through the night early and he did. Due to my obsession with this benchmark, I read every book, I had a strict routine, I made every decision during the day those first few months based on what I needed to do to ensure he slept that night. And sleep he did. And so did I. And we all lived happily ever after. Fast forward to his little brother. I was a slacker with the sleeping ritual thing. I was not determined and did not follow strict routines and guess what? Turkey did not sleep until the husband looked at me when Turkey was 8 months old and said "It's time. We all have to get some sleep." The next week, we focused. We were determined and guess what? In a week's time he was trained and is now almost the sleeper his brother was!

You can set any goal you want in running. But unless you are fully committed, unless you are truly "all in", you will not see the results you want. You cannot finish a marathon without some level of commitment, some sacrifice and frankly just some stubbornness. The bigger the goal, the more determination required. Anybody can run but if you want results (and who doesn't?) you have to do your homework, be strict with yourself on the hard days and remind yourself it is all worth it!

(5) Nothing is Sweeter Than Bedtime: Ask any mother. She will tell you watching her children sleep is one of the best moments you get. They are peaceful, they make little sucking motions with their mouths (O.M.G.), they are warm. Often they are soft and smell like heaven from a bath. Oh bedtime, it turns any hellion into an angel. I regularly sneak in and look at my sleeping kids and just break into prayers of thanks.

Ask any runner. Maybe you used to stay out until 2am drinking with friends on the weekend. Now, you cannot wait to get to bed at 9 so you can get up at 5 and run for 3 hours! Sound crazy? Perhaps. But most runners I know value sleep and sleep better than the average person. So many in our society place no value on a good nights sleep despite every study and doctor telling you how important it is. Runners call it recovery. I call it vital to my mental health. And that feeling, the one of falling into bed the night of a marathon or after a long hard run? Of surrendering your body to sleep, knowing that it just did something amazing? Yea, it's pretty sweet.

(6) You Can Handle Far More Pain Than You Could Ever Imagine Possible: So for months now, you've gone to prenatal appointments. You worked with your doctor. You read your books and developed a birthing plan. You've prepared for D-Day in the hospital. You are as ready as you can be. But truth be told, nothing in this world can really prepare you for labor and delivery.

There is no pain that compares to the overwhelming contractions of early to mid labor. Nothing in this world will just completely take away your ability to breath, to cry, to speak, like labor and delivery. Literally, pieces of you are split into pieces, torn, ripped, cut. You bleed. You weep. You scream (sometimes). Sometimes a doctor fillets your belly open like a trout. Sometimes you have a needle the size of a rolling pin shoved INTO YOUR SPINE. You ask yourself how are you possibly going to get through this. And then you do.

You survived. You made it. You are strong. So very very strong. Your body is a miracle. Baby's body is a miracle. And you reached your finish line. Your body just created another human being. You survived the most painful (natural) process we humans go through. It wasn't pretty but you are stronger than you ever imagined.

Now, go race a half marathon or a 5K. You hurt. You sweat. You might even cry. But you know, deep down inside, the pain truly is not going to kill you. It's just a sign that maybe, just maybe, a miracle is about to happen.

(7) Pain Is Temporary and Not Worth Remembering: Along with all of the blood and tears and agony of childbirth, the brain does this very funny thing. It forgets it. As soon as the baby is laid on your chest, the pain begins to subside. And over the next few weeks, as you heal, the body begins to forget the pain. The mind dulls the memory of it.

I learned through childbirth that the pain was worth it. And most importantly I could process through its necessity. If I wanted a baby, I had to go through it. Once they were here, I could not have cared less, for one second, about the pain. I let it go. There was no resentment for the pain they caused because it was temporary. As all consuming as pain might be while you are experiencing it, once it is past you can let it go.

And why hold on to it? I don't. It isn't worth the memory. My favorite memory of Eliot being born is how alert and beautiful he was looking at me and Scott the first hour. My favorite memory of Nicholas is how much he snuggled us both. Sure, childbirth hurt. But who cares? The pain of childbirth is now relegated to my past and is over.

I gained so much more by just accepting that you can't truly avoid pain. It's part of life. And equally, running includes pain. If you want to run a marathon, it will hurt. You can make it hurt worse by running it faster, but there is a very strong possibility that if you run, you will experience pain. Remember, it's okay. Yes, get the nagging chronic pain looked at by a doctor. Follow medical advice. But just remember, pain is temporary. You want to set a new record for yourself? You want to run farther than you've ever run? You want to climb a mountain in a trail run? Be prepared for pain. I've learned how to coach myself through the pain and recognize that it is okay. And that after the fact, it really is not worth dwelling on.

(8) One Size Does Not Fit All:  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. In parenting, you have the ability try literally unlimited possibilities. Do you want to breast feed or bottle feed? Do you want to home school or private school or public school? Do you want to focus on faith at an early age or let your little person find it themselves?

No matter what challenge you face as a parent, I have learned that I just need to keep the faith.  Every challenge as a parent can derail you. Your kid won't eat and you try one strategy to set that problem straight. Maybe strategies 1-9 don't work but strategy 10? Perfect. Your kid is a complicated human being who is not you and does not necessarily react like you think they will. One size does not fit all.

With running, you have a goal. Maybe you reach your goal, maybe not. But don't give up! Just because speed work on a track, doing 400 repeats did not garner the results you expected does not mean you cannot ever improve your 5K time. Maybe what you need is just some tempo runs. There are 110 solutions to every running problem. Keep the faith that one size does not fit all. And that is okay.

Just to keep trying. Eventually you'll get it right.

(8) Singing the Same Song on Repeat is Soothing: both of my boys love being sung to. Even Eliot at age 4 1/2 wants to know every night whether there is time for a song.  And so we sing through our stock lullabies. Twinkle Twinkle, followed by Amazing Grace and rounding it out with You Are My Sunshine. The routine closes the day and every night we smile to each other. Sometimes Eliot sings along, sometimes he cuddles, sometimes he just stares and listens. But we soothe each other with these moments. Nicholas is similarly in love with song. I sing and he nestles into my hair and quietly listens.

Music and singing can, in fact, create the strongest moments and memories. Sometimes when I hear songs, I am immediately transported back to where I was on which course at which mile. Katie Holmes said when she ran the New York Marathon she just played and replayed "Stronger" by Kanye West until she crossed the finish line. While I mostly run without headphones, especially in races (I think it's cheating but that's another discussion for another day), sometimes, I start singing inside. During miles 18-24 when you think you want to give up, pick a song, any song, and start hearing it in your head. Guess what? Magic. Miles tick off, you will be soothed by beats and the rhythm in your brain.

Of course all things can go too far. One of my favorite stories of running is my husbands 2nd or 3rd 100 mile ultra. He (being terrible with music lyrics) vaguely knows of the Katy Perry classic, "I Kissed a Girl." (and yes, I just said Katy Perry and classic in the same sentence and I didn't even bat an eyelash.) For whatever reason (maybe the song played on the radio on the drive to the race?) he started singing that song. About mile 2. And for the next 98 miles, in his head, Scott heard "I kissed a girl and I liked it. *something something something* cherry chapstick." Over. And over. And over. We nearly had to hospitalize him for Perry-overdose.

(9) Blood Sugar Must be Consistent or Meltdowns Follow: give a kid a cookie? Better hope you have an apple within arms reach an hour later. Trust.

Plan on running a marathon with no nutrition and no plan for how to get nutrition in your body? I look forward to seeing you at mile 16, crying like a 2 year old, walking in a daze and talking about walls.

I kinda already knew this lesson before motherhood but let's just say motherhood solidified what I already knew.

There will be a part 2. What running taught me about motherhood. But as I sit where I am right now, ready to run my 18th marathon in 9 days (!!!!), it certainly is fun to look back and think about all these lessons. And they just keep rolling in.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

You Say You Want Diamonds on a Ring of Gold?

I hate whiners. I always have. Among other things I hate: suck ups, goody two shoes, teachers' pets, spoiled little rich kids and people who cannot laugh at themselves. There other things that go on the lists of things I hate but I am trying to keep this blog post concise. There will be other days to elaborate on the long list of other things I hate.

An article was posted yesterday about how 20 and 30-somethings are entitled whiners who want to have super exciting and fulfilling careers that pay them stupendously well and have perfect lives that put their facebook friends' lives to shame and they want to do that and have a couple of paid week long vacations to phenomenal places a year. I nodded. And I heard a lot of my peers in this article. The article wasn't scientific. It wasn't perfect. But it was funny and it made some incredible points. Things that people need to hear about themselves. And frankly, things I need to be reminded of.

And the backlash. Oh it's mighty. So many of my generation explaining "You don't know what it is like to have student debt." "The job market sucks." "I am living with my parents in their 5 bedroom house and I feel inadequate." "We have higher productivity because we are so amazing." And there was this fabulous answer. The title of the article says it all "I feel poor".  Wait. You "feel" poor? I'm sorry! That must suck. You know who else feels poor? POOR PEOPLE.  You know people who have actually experienced poverty.

That made me think of this blog post. Which accurately and gut-wrenchingly explains what it feels like to actually be poor. And guess what? It isn't struggling as an aspiring writer. I grew up poor and I know what poor means even though I have never actually known hunger. When I hear self-important young aspiring [fill in the blank] that believe all their own hype tell me that it’s hard to be an adult and hard to work for not enough money and hard to pay off student loans. I want to scream. Yes, it turns out it IS hard to be a grown up. I’m sorry no one prepared you for that reality.

Signs you might not *actually* be poor:

- you have a computer
- you went to (and graduated) college
- you went to GRAD SCHOOL
- you write a blog
- you have been on a vacation in the last year
- you have housing (never mind if it is overpriced, underwater, a bad deal, a good deal, a creepy landlord)
- you have clothing
- you have food
- you have the last three and you work only one job
- you have food, clothing and shelter and you worked less than 80 hours last week

Realizations/signs that you might not *actually* be poor but just experiencing real world grown up problems:

- you cannot believe what housing costs
- you cannot believe what electricity costs
- you cannot believe what groceries costs
- you cannot believe what it costs to keep your car in good repair and running
- you cannot believe it is legal for credit card companies to charge the interest rates they charge
- paying taxes suck
- paying for health care sucks
- being on a budget is SO NOT FUN
- you regret going to college and taking out all that student loan debt
- you regret majoring in something that made you happy but gave you zero job prospects
- limited vacation hours make planning life events stressful
- vacations are expensive
- holidays are stressful
- marriage is hard
- parenting is hard
- being a working parent is crazy ridiculously hard
- having very limited time to do the things you love to do can make you very sad (hobbies, reading, staying informed, volunteering, visiting family and friends)
- you have reliable day care and you honestly cannot believe what it costs for that
- you have a spouse/ partner that does not work outside the home
- you make hard choices, every. single. day.

None of us young professionals of my generation are actually poor. Young professionals I know are simply adjusting to the shocking reality of...being a grown up.

My friends and I joke about being unicorns. My friends and I are mostly positive people. I think it is important to my mental health to be positive and surround myself with positivity. That said, I think it's fair to say none of my friends are perfect or have perfect lives. Individually and collectively, we share the difficulties of life. Relationships, marriages, divorces, blended families, kids (OMG-kids), babies, jobs, finances, running on hamster wheels and going nowhere. We keep it real. And yes sometimes we look at each other, in safe ways and in safe places and we say "why is it so hard? Why didn't anyone tell me how tough it was to be a grown up/ a professional/ a parent?" And then we complete our pity party. Typically for my friends and I that means that we wrap up a run or a coffee date or a glass of wine and we get back to it. We go to work the next day. We pay our bills.  We give the kids their baths and we carry on.

We all need a safe place to talk about how hard life is and how hard it can be. I get that and I do not for one second dispute the need for that.

That said, I have collectively HAD IT with people who tell me in non-personal, non-friendship-I-need-a-safe-place-to-vent how hard their life is as they blog from their iPhone 5. Or who tell me I just "don't get it" because the job market was better when I graduated law school. Or who tell me that they are super productive and "work so hard" when I see them updating their facebook status in the middle of a work day. Stop, please just stop, with the insufferable righteousness. You're starting to sound like televangelists. Except you aren't pushing Jesus. You're just pushing you. And turns out, is a pretty cheap commodity. There's a whole generation of you. And a whole lot of them are not whiners.

Monday, August 19, 2013

QOTD: Obstacles

Obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.


My friend was reading the obituaries in his hometown and came across this quote. A woman, claimed by cancer, had written her own obituary and it read as a love letter to her family. He was incredibly moved by the entire piece but this quote stuck with him and now with me. He was sharing it with me after his Friday night long run wherein a wonky calf cut it shorter than he would have liked. He got 7 miles but had to quit there. He was thankful for the 7 miles and as we discussed his injury, how exhausting injuries are, and how it's one set back after another, we turned the situation on its head. How lucky are we, as (mostly) healthy adults to battle injuries pursuing goals we are passionate about? What growth can be accomplished by battling through injury? Looking more expansively, what can we all learn by being patient, persistent and just believing we will reach our goal? Accept the obstacles even if they are so big and so overwhelming that you cannot feasibly imagine how you will get around them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

QOTD: be kind

You've got to take who you are and love who you are and do the best you can with what you've got. That goes for the figure and it goes for everything else. You've got to have a sense of humor about who you are and give yourself a break. You've got to be kind to yourself. And its not easy you know? But you need to have this sort of relationship with yourself-otherwise life is hell. Sometimes evolving doesn't mean transforming; sometimes it just means owning what is there. 

-Salma Hayek

Monday, July 29, 2013

QOTD: More like the Quote of MY LIFE.

"Mommy whenever you gives me hugs and kisses, my heart sings."


Needless to say, immediately after this, there might have been some tears in my eyes, a catch in my throat and a hug so tight I realized I might actually squish him.