Tuesday, October 15, 2013

QOTD: Gut

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 you...it 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.

-Unknown

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."

-Eliot

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.

Monday, June 10, 2013

QOTD: BOOORRRR-RRRINNNGGG

Only boring people are bored.

-Betty Draper

Scott and I are planning our 3rd intoxicology party. This highlighted liquor is GIN. It's a Mad Men theme. And having never watched the show before, we are now catching up on all old seasons off Netflix and watching about an episode a day. It's truly brilliant. No wonder that show is getting such rave reviews.

Turns out I have a love/ hate relationship with every single character. I think that's why the show is so phenomenal. Just about the time you've figured out how you feel about someone, there's a twist. And I am completely conflicted about Betty. I love her, I hate her, I pity her, I empathize with her and then I judge her. Over and over. Good stuff. If you haven't watched that show...do it. Great writing, great acting, great, well, everything.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Comfortably Numb

Sometimes yoga just hurts. Like last week for instance. Or any other time I attempt it. Ha! Recently, I was attempting to hold boat pose. It's supposed to look like this:




You can also do modified boat, not as hard, still tough:
 

Or you can rock out boat pose like I do:


Anyways, my core, as I have previously stated is shot these days. I bring ZERO core strength to the table. I had run almost 4 miles and then went to a hot yoga express class. As we were attempting boat, the familiar burn started up. And then for the first time ever, I started shaking. Literally, my entire torso was just shaking. Hard. Like a leaf. I could barely hear or see anything as I was in so much pain and shaking trying to hold anything resembling boat.

The teacher, Jordan, who always says mindful and thought provoking things calmly states "it could be worse, you could feel nothing." I am pretty sure she was speaking directly to me.  She said this and I just started giggling. But I bit down and held it for a little longer. I know that if you repeat the same action over and over eventually the body accepts it and that is the new normal. But sometimes, my body just resists the strength I am trying to give it through yoga.

But the thought...the idea that pain is not the worst enemy is so thought provoking. There are at least a million other analogies on point. "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." The saying "the opposite of love isn't hate but apathy." And a top 10 favorite movie quote "Pain is the body's way of telling you you're still alive."

In other words, the enemy isn't hate or anger or pain or misery. The enemy is nothingness, the absence of experience or emotion, the failure to know pain and loss. The experience of pain means you are growing, changing, getting stronger. Heartbreak means you've known love. Misery means you aware of what joy can be.

And so...I must continue forward and enjoy the pain. Embrace the suck. Accept my roly poly panda excuse for boat. Someday, I'll straighten my legs and let go with my hands.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Back In the Saddle (Again)

My first official race report! So exciting. There are so many wonderful running blogs out there, including my own personal favorite: http://runscottierun.blogspot.com/

By far the best part of reading these blogs is the RACE REPORT. After hearing about someone training and working so hard to achieve whatever goal that might be, you finally get to hear whether they met their goal, what was unique and fun about the event and live vicariously through them as they cross the finish line.

The Johnston's Wichita Half Marathon is traditionally held in late April/ early May.  This run has been the same for many years and traditionally starts from a downtown park, runs an out and back course along our river walking paths and is a no frills very fast and flat course. This year the brand that bought up our fall marathon bought up the spring half marathon as well.

So now we have Prairie Fire Spring Half Marathon. Through some pretty substantial sponsorships, loads of marketing and lots of razzle dazzle, the spring half was held on Cinco De Mayo for the first time under the new leadership.  We had a wonderful cloudy, cool morning, a new course and almost twice as many runners as usual participating.

The actual run itself was not exciting or sexy or fabulous or fast or anything remarkable. My primary reason for the excitement was because it was my first race post-Nicholas. I had been in trial for most of April and found myself completely unable to make time to run. And so the challenge for me was simply to figure out if I could finish a half with minimal (no?) training. And to gauge how my body would hold up to two + hours of effort.

The race ended up being a complete blast. I had wheels and ray ray as my committed support crew, as they both wanted to run the half and didn't care about their time.

Scott initially claimed a plastic baggie
over his phone would not affect
photo quality.

Scott lied.
Through the intervention of 'not caring about his time' and an abundance of red wine, my husband joined in the fun with our little pack.  Around mile 1, we found our friend Amanda, who has a baby just a tiny bit older than Nicholas and also needed a "first event after baby" under her belt.

Shot from a friend's truck. I lost the ill fitting green hat and found
the adorable Amanda Oakleaf!!!
And so we ran. We ran though various residential and commercial neighborhoods, some beautiful parks and along our river path. We ran by

my office



the Keeper of the Plains



Friends University


 
And despite hardly training and being a squishy version of myself. Despite feeling that familiar ache in my lower abdomen and upper thighs. Despite relying on others to carry the conversation because I was out of breath. The miles just ticked off. Miles one through nine just flowed. We walked every mile marker for a minute or so, prodded on by Scott to run again, Scottie always the coach.

I struggled with my posture (as I always do) and was given consistent reminders by Scott to put my hips forward, pull my shoulders back, shorten my stride. I hurt. BAD...the last three miles. But after so many races and so many miles and years of running, I have the ability to acknowledge the pain, separate myself from it and just keep moving forward. Ten years ago, I would have quit when it started to hurt.  Now I just embrace the pain, accept my body is not where it needs to be and keep running. I looked at Scott at mile 12, during our walk break and sincerely said "This just hurts." Knowing I wasn't risking injury or anything but a little soreness, he told me we would probably pick up the pace a hair the last mile. (!)

And we did. And I lived. I did not mess with tracking mile splits but my final time was 2:25:28 or 11:06 minute miles! Now, my fastest half marathon is roughly 35 minutes faster...so yes we have some work to do. And yes I am not "back". But back in the saddle? I think so. Finishing 13.1 mile, no matter how ugly is a solid distance and a solid accomplishment. It felt good. So the saddle hurt and my body is not broken in. Yet.

Me, Kim, Nate, Nickki, Scott, Amanda, Renee, Kristen. Finished and happy.

The rest of cinco de mayo was spent shuttling kids, meeting up with la familia for a Lopez celebration and pretty busy mommy/ daughter/ wifey stuff. But for 2:25 minutes during a cool spring morning, I found that part of me that has gone missing the last year. The happy runner girl. The runner who high fives every kid cheering on the runners. The runner who laughs with friends at her lack of training. The runner who dresses "ironically". The runner who always forgets to stop her watch the at the finish line. I feel like I'm waking up that part of myself that has been in hibernation. And the fire is rekindled.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

QOTD: The Road of Life

The Road of Life:

I expect to pass though this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature let me do it now...for I shall not pass this way again.

I work with some pretty amazing people. Including my associate Kate, who I feel in many ways is my spiritual twin. We are both Catholic. Both questioning. Both spiritual. I had a birthday Sunday and she brought me a pretty awesome gift. A St. Jude medal and a couple prayer cards.  I needed all of it. One of the prayer cards had that gem of a quote on it.

Prayer card along with a picture of this week's calendar. In case you needed to find me later, I'm
 probably somewhere. Meeting myself coming and going. That saying never quite made sense to me
until I was a mama...now I'm pretty sure someone just like me coined the phrase!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Shine Bright Like a Diamond

So my life went on hold in April. Trial came and just completely wreaked havoc. As only trial can. Ask any litigator. The best comparison I can give to non-lawyers is that trial is like finals week and all the stress crammed into one day, every day, over and over. It's physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. Anyways, here is a post I started while in trial and finished today:

Winter has kept hanging and hanging on around my home. We typically get one big last blast of cold in March, perhaps one in April and then we steady warm up until our summer months where our climate is a cross between a convection oven and a wet sauna.

This winter continues to amaze me. After record breaking SNOW DAYS, we have continued to have little bursts of winter. We had another snow storm, this time, the snow did not stick around for too long. We have had a couple of bitterly cold evenings and mornings. In the midst of all this, spring has steadily charged forward. A few weeks ago, trees started blooming. Tulips poked their beautiful little heads of the dirt. Daffodils started peeking. And most importantly, the Bradford Pear trees are blooming. These trees always create a beautiful white reminder that spring and summer are coming and that we are drawing to a close of winter times. We have many of these trees in our neighborhood and around town.  The City lined our main freeway with these trees and one of my favorite things is to see the long lines of fat white flowering trees during these weeks in the spring.

Last week (mid April ), Jack Frost showed up again. Despite all the beautiful flowers and flowering trees…we got hit by a blast of the cold weather…again. One day, we got a lot of rain and freezing sleet. And more rain and more sub freezing temperatures. And then it rained some more.

When the storm hit, ice covered everything.  Streets, cars, street lamps and those precious beautiful flowers of spring. This storm risked killing off a lot of what we had waited so very long for.
 
This storm coated every leaf, berry, petal and flower in a thick layer of ice.
The day of the storm was dark and cloudy. There was no light coming in from the thick heavy blanket of clouds. That evening, I put my boys in their warmest fuzziest pajamas.  The next morning, we knew spring was back. The breeze was cold but there was warmth in the air. And the sun came out very bright.

I left my house, rushing around like usual. I got in the car to drive to work. In order to leave my house, I drive east, into the sunrise.  Rarely does anything in this world cause me to gasp. Or render me speechless.  
The rising sun hit the trees. The trees covered in white blooms and ice. And it looked like suddenly someone had placed millions maybe billions of sparkling diamonds all around me. The trees, the grass, the sky. It was bursting with the light of sun through the ice.

When it hit the white blossoms of the pear trees, the light was so bright and blinding that it positively took my breath away. I tried to get the baby to pay attention, but at five months old, in his rear facing car seat, I really couldn't get him to appreciate it.
 
 
 
Sometimes the stars align and you get the opportunity to see something magical. It was utterly, completely and totally impossible for me to capture the affect of the sun that day.  With my wee little iphone camera and my insane trial schedule and my busy day, I just had to try to commit it to memory. I have honestly never seen anything like it.




Sometimes this world of ours provides us the opportunity to witness beauty that cannot be captured in words or through pictures. And it is in those moments I get a glimpse of divinity so far beyond myself that I know God exists, eternity is real, and there is more to life than we will ever know.

Monday, April 29, 2013

QOTD: Well Behaved

Well behaved women seldom make history.

-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Sort of a mantra of mine...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

QOTD: I'm Gonna Let it Shine

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson

Friday, April 5, 2013

ELEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY

Today is my wedding anniversary. Last year we took a big trip back to our honeymoon destination. This year, will be a more subdued celebration and will also mark my first overnight stay away from my baby....bracing myself for random panicked middle of the night wake up...
 
Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon. 2002

Stephanie Inn, Cannon Beach, Oregon. 2012 (Pregnant and unbelievably nauseous in this picture-HA!)
Marriage. Man, we could all write volumes on it. Marriage means sharing your life and all the good and bad that comes with it.  Our story is 100% uniquely ours but a shared story like every other marriage. Eleven years of cleaning up after each other. Eleven years of pushing each other to achieve more, work harder, maximize our potential. Eleven years of working on our communication. Eleven years of me unloading the dishwasher so Scott can load it. Of connecting and laughing. Of bickering and being annoyed by the other person's CLEARLY INFERIOR WAYS of approaching tasks and problems :) Of creating a shared family dialogue. Of sharing millions of inside jokes. Of babies and dogs and baby poop and dog poop. Of balancing checkbooks and paying bills. Of grilling cheeseburgers and lounging on our deck with cold beer. Of listening Snoop Dogg and Tupac and Eric Clapton and Michael Buble and the music that is our lives' soundtrack. We were only 23...practically kids. And we still feel like those kids in so many ways.
 
Eleven years and we both know our journey requires patience and kindness and empathy and support and a massive sense of humor. We will never reach the destination of having marriage figured out. But at the end of day, we both know we are in this forever. We love each other. And we are darn lucky to be where we are. Not much has changed and everything has changed. Scott explained to Eliot this morning that our anniversary was the BIRTHDAY of our wedding. Well happy birthday to my wonderful family. AND MANY MOOOOORRREEEE.....
 

Comparison. It's Toxic People.

I feel like everywhere I look this thought keeps coming up.  Lately I have read about it on other blogs. I watch people squirm with it on social media...and mostly, I see the destructive nature of comparison.

Comparison is natural. It is human. Competition can drive you to excellence and push you to work harder. But when unchecked, comparison and it's ugly stepsister, competition, become a horrifying thing that will suck every piece of joy in your life away from you.

Picture an adorable young child happily eating an ice cream cone. They are BLISSFUL. They heartily lick at their single scoop of vanilla ice cream (this kid's favorite flavor). And then it happens. Another kid comes along. This kid has 3 scoops. One chocolate. One mint-chocolate chip. One strawberry. Instantly, the first child feels inferior. Why does the other kid have three? All of a sudden, the kid wants colorful flavors because vanilla is just so...vanilla. You see the point. The first child was thrilled with their treat until someone with something bigger, better, brighter was there.

In my youth, I was a "gifted" kid. I was always a top student. I played piano beautifully. I was terrible at sports and sported big geeky thick glasses. And due to my awkward gangly body, thick glasses and love of learning, I became a friendly nerd and the token smart girl. I was perfectly comfortable with this label. But very early on in high school, I learned I was not the smartest of the smart girls. Some of my best friends were smarter. Some of my classmates could blow me out of the water when it came to math and science. When it came time to apply to college, suffice it to say I was not the only kid apply to schools that were hard to get into. I applied to a tough school, got in and attended with 3 classmates from high school.

And so I arrived at Notre Dame, knowing that there was no way I was the smartest kid there. I still got A's and a few B's. But mostly I just tried to soak in all the awesomeness of the smart kids around me. Turns out no one but overachievers gets to go to Notre Dame and while I maybe had been something special in elementary school and high school...I was vanilla ice cream in college. If you were not okay with that pretty quickly at Notre Dame, you were set to have 4 miserable years. I took from this experience was that you don't have to be #1 to be special. You are special because you're unique and the people in your life love you. From a very young age I knew that there always be someone smarter than you, prettier than you, funnier than you, more dedicated and harder working than you. And all you can do is do your best, work at your gifts and talents, enjoy what your life has to offer. I believe learning this lesson early on has helped me be a happier person at every stage in my life.

A couple weeks ago, a female lawyer I love and respect and consider a friend told me that she had no idea how I was so perfect all the time. And that my life is just so golden. I heard some resentment in her voice as she discussed a couple of pictures I had recently posted on facebook. I was sincerely shocked. It shocked me that someone as brilliant as her, as gifted as her was resenting my life.  And I told her "no my house is not always clean, my kids are not always cute, I am not always dressed well, and for goodness sakes sometimes we eat macaroni and cheese and hotdogs for dinner." She then asked so you just post "fake" happiness? Well not really that either. I just choose not to take pictures of my four year old mid-meltdown and complain about it to my closest 550 friends.

I guess what I'm saying is accept your path. And love your path. My path and my life has had intense and immense joy; regret; confusion; sadness; happiness and struggles. But every path and every life has similar ups and downs. And no matter what decision you make in life in jobs, life partners, whether to have kids, where to live, all of these paths will bring happiness and heartbreak.

The hard times are there for a reason. They test your resolve; build your strength, intensify your bond with those closest to you, but most importantly, the hard times are there so that when the good moments arrive you know them. If life was always sunshine and roses, you wouldn't realize how special sunshine or roses are.

Someone you know will always be better at yoga, better at running, more stylish, more beautiful, have better hair, have better legs, have a cooler job, have a cooler car, have a cuter boyfriend, lose their baby fat faster, be a "better" mom (whatever that means), keep a cleaner house, take better vacations, and make more money. So just be the very best you possible. Make the most of the amazing gifts you have (you have them, I promise). Work hard at being the best you and the kindest you and the most generous you possible. And make peace with the rest.

Anyways, a couple of bloggers I like also recently wrote on this. And they say it better than I do but in different contexts. If you ever find yourself saying "why is my life not more like ......." then read one of these. Be happy with your life. Choose to focus on the blessings you have. And know that someone out there is looking at your life and wondering how you do it all so well and are so fabulous. The alternative is to let comparison and competition suck every ounce of joy from your heart. I would not recommend going that route.

http://milemarkers.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/thief

http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2012/01/dont-let-comparison-steal-your.html

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Love is Art

So I found this on facebook and absolutely had to share. I have a couple of artsy friends who no matter what link or article they share, I read it or watch it because it never disappoints. The stuff they share regularly rocks my world. On this link, my friend wrote "Love is Art and Art is Love." It took me a while to really think through that statement.

It is so true when you consider it. Love is a overwhelming form of art. When you are touched by love, whether it be from your mother or child or a lover or in the form of kindness from a stranger, it is moving and powerful. Love is beautiful and complicated. Love is so very many things. And ultimately, it makes for some seriously good art.

Anyway, open the link. Read the story. Watch the video. Prepare to be completely moved. Her face. His eyes. The things unsaid. And the moment when she surrenders to her emotions. Wow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I cannot possibly write everything I have to say about yoga in one post. I think that it's just going to have to be a category of blog posts. Yoga is freaking amazing. But for humor's sake, I must relay my first experience with Ashtanga Yoga. It can summed up quite tritely...

Ommmm. My. God.

I can only say that I have sincerely started a yoga "practice" since November. It isn't pretty. It isn't as consistent as I would like. It isn't perfect. But it's growing. And inside of me, there is now this little part of me that craves yoga. If I have missed class for a while, and I feel a tweak in my hamstring or hip, my first thought is "Dang. I have to get to yoga."

For some time now, I have been interested in trying Ashtanga Yoga. Here's what I knew about it before I went. It is a more meditative practice than hot yoga. The instructor who guides this practice learned about teaching Ashtanga yoga last year in India. There is chanting. The basic premise is to perform the same poses in the same order every class. Ashtanga yoga is more about flowing and movement than it is about holding specific poses for a long time. The studio is warm but not hot.

Here is what I did not know about Ashtanga before last night. You sweat more than you have ever sweat in your life. Constant flowing vinyasa with constant Ujjayi breathing is incredibly difficult and makes you hotter than any hot studio can. Sitting in the back (my safe place) does not guarantee you anonymity because the really advanced practicioners are in the back so they don't disrupt the newer kids in the front. You can't drink during Ashtanga (hold up...whaaaa?). You might cry a little during final savasana. You might barely make it through the grocery store afterwards. You might pass out in your bed like you just ran a marathon. You might not be able to lift your baby in his car seat the next morning.

I try not to be intimidated in yoga. I own that I am new to the practice. I own that I am not able to be as "all in" as I would like. I laugh off that I am weak and wobbly and rigid. But I'm not going to lie...ashtanga yoga struck fear in my heart. On many levels. I was scared of how hard it was. And scared of how hard it was even for the really advanced kids (hearing them struggle through the sequence of poses was downright crazy). I was scared of how hot my body got so quickly. I was scared that I was doing it wrong. And then really scared when I knew I did it right because it was just so much work. Mostly I was scared I was going to die, on my yoga mat, in front of all these people. A sweaty, wobbly, inflexible death.

I flowed. And flowed. And flowed. And I breathed and held and breathed deeply again. I could not help but look in awe out of the corner of my eye at the good kids. They moved at a much quicker speed through the sequence, which ironically did not assure me that the class was going in the right direction. Instead, my brain said "I have to do WHAT next???" Sometimes it is better not to know where you are going. Ignorance is bliss.

For only the second time I can remember, at one point I just stopped. I sat on my mat, a bit defeated. As a runner, the one thing I bring to the yoga mat is endurance. So while I may not be all bendy, at least I can last an entire class because in my head a 75 or 90 minute workout is easy peasy. I can run for hours so yoga for 90 minutes? Cake. Except this was so not cake!

During one point in the sequence you sit cross-legged or in lotus (if you have that in your practice---I love how instructors say this like it's something you just pick up at the store as opposed to work towards for months and years) and roll on your back. You roll up and down nine times (exactly) in a full circle. I felt like a giddy and spastic 4 year old.

At one point, while on my back I stretched my hands above my head, only for my hands to land a large pool of the sweat behind me. Uhhh...ewww. I'm not a squeamish person but when I looked, I was not kidding. STANDING POOL OF SWEAT. Oh dude, please put your shirt back on or mop up your mess.

At one point, I made the mistake of looking at my neighboring yogi (another instructor from the studio taking the class). She (an instructor) was struggling mightily to bend further into a pose. The  ashtanga instructor laid her full body on her wherein I heard a loud pop and then groaning. I thought, "oh this cannot be good". Except it was a pleasurable groan and she was smiling? What just happened???? Am I the only one seeing this?

And finally, my crowing glory, when I acknowledged just how remedial I was. The instructor is so kind and supportive. She bounces around the class helping everyone the entire 90 minutes. She straightens their backs, supports their sweaty mess while they work on a transition and pushes the yogis further. She's selfless in her service. Her help for me came about an hour in. She came to my corner, mouth twisted up curiously. And she smiled, "let's get you a block." And she started helping me with a pose. Before I knew it, I had yoga blocks shoved all around me trying to support that which I could not support myself. Honestly, it was pretty hilarious.

But as always, the instructor brings it all around. Jordan, the teacher in this class manages to always leave me with these nuggets of inspiration. After nearly killing people, the instructors guide you through relaxation and share beautiful powerful positive thoughts.

On Monday after all the sweating and pain subsided, Jordan read from David Williams, a premier Ashtanga instructor...you know this guy. The passage she read was all about how there is no measure of whether someone is "good" at yoga. In fact, in his mind, the person who is good at yoga is the person who is giving 100% to their practice. The person who wholly surrenders their body for the time. The person who focuses the hardest in class regardless of their abilities is the "best" in yoga.

For all the grief I was giving myself for not "lasting" through class. For not having the limber joints to bend into poses or the strength to hold a pose. It sort of melted away. Because if there was one thing I could say, I was focused, I was trying, I was absolutely giving it my all. And so I left Ashtanga--sweaty, smelly, exhausted and sore. I woke the next morning feeling tired, sore, and hungry. And the first thing I did when I got to my desk that day was see when the next Ashtanga class was offered.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

QOTD: Hard Work

Went to the Y yesterday at lunch with two of my paralegals and an associate attorney at my office. We did some really calming flowing yoga. (Which my body desperately needed after my "adventure" into Ashtanga Yoga (more on that later) on Monday).

Saw this on a tshirt of a girl in the locker room. I told her I LOVED her quote and she laughed "high school soccer inspirational shirts rock and are totally cheesy". Indeed they are my friend. Indeed they are:

"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

-Old Beat Up High School Girls Soccer T-Shirt

Totally agree with that and feel like that quote applies to basically every area of my life. I may not be the most gifted lawyer but when I work really hard I excel beyond the good lawyer that sits on their laurels and hopes their brilliance saves the day. Running--ditto. Parenting--ditto.

Monday, March 18, 2013

QOTD: True Story

“There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

-Madeleine Albright

I am lucky to be surrounded by women who support me and build me up. That has not always been the case and I just wanted to share that one of the greatest minds of our time gets it.

Now that I'm getting older (and by older I mean hip and awesome and hot and 29-no really, I'm super young still, seriously, stop giving me that look) and more in a position to help than be helped...gotta keep this in mind.

Professionally, personally, in whatever capacity suits you. Help the women around you. Make them soup when they have a new baby. Share your secrets to being a good law firm associate. Tell them they are beautiful when their confidence is shaking. Help them see themselves the way you see them. Because some days we all need support.

So today, try to find a way to support your sisters-in-life around you and just do it without being asked. Being fake, acting passive aggressive, speaking unkind words, cutting someone down...it only promotes more of the same. And can we all just agree that more of that stuff is the last thing we need?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Vodka

When Scott and I first started dating, we discovered something that immediately drew us together. We liked to celebrate (anything and everything) and we liked to host parties. We both hosted countless gatherings in our youth and despite being broke students, we loved having friends over to share a meal and a beer and board game or a dance party or anything really. From themed Monday Night Football potlucks to post-parties after law school finals to New Years Eve bashes, we loved playing hosts.
 
We have never outgrown that love. In fact, it has only gotten stronger. And I think the first 12 1/2 years of our relationship were simply training grounds for our planned party throwing this year...2013. Scott's most recent obsession (love the guy but he does nothing halfway...all in, on every hobby) is bar tending. And not light weight "I will make you a yummy gin and tonic" bartending. I mean full on MIXOLOGY. And so he schemed up a series of parties called INTOXICOLOGY. 5 parties; 5 highlighted liquors; 5 drinks lists that will blow your mind; complimentary food; themed dress; music; party favors, etc. Okay, so perhaps the last 4 were my doing...but as usual...we held nothing back. And so now I am going to try to tell you the story of Intoxicology Part 1, VODKA, through photos.
 
Theme: Black and White
Soundtrack: hip hop, old school rap, club, dance, glam 80's
Food: upscale canap├ęs including multiple kinds of caviar
Drinks: Spin offs of some of your favorites. Screwdriver, cosmo, dirty martini--all with a twist.
Favors: black and white chocolate bonbons and a cd soundtrack
 


 
 

 
 
 
















 
 
 










 


 
 
 
Our cohosts, Chris and Savanna. He tended the bar with Scott. She designed all the graphics.
I recommend enlisting every talented friend you have before throwing any party.







Why yes. He did just happen to have the bow tie and suspenders in his closet.



The best part? Having amazing friends who play along. Me, Michele, Nickki,
Stephen (in. his. tux.), Renee, Ashley and Kristen.



You're welcome. ;)