25 Things in 2020

This is a hard list to write in a normal year and I think one thing we can all agree on at the end of this insane ride of the last 123 (typo; leaving it) months is that 2020 has been anything but normal. So how is a list of 25 things, both big and small “accomplished” going to go? I have no idea but I committed years ago to doing this annual round up, so here I am to claim the tradition, even in the midst of chaos.

  1. I came through 2020 with my head and my heart both still intact. Pretty sure that should be the first thing on the list and really could be the only thing on the list because riding the waves of this COVID-year coaster has been so head spinning and heart breaking, just making it to this day is accomplishment enough, don’t you think?
  2. I became an ardent mask wearer. I’m not always an early adopter in life but I was this time because I believe in science and I believe in epidemiologist experts and we’ve been wearing masks in public since, I don’t know – April? Plus this fall I’ve witnessed with my own family how mask wearing works and has kept them safe at school. My favorites are the 5 for $25 masks from JohnnyWas that started out as buy one/give one to essential works.
  3. Started walking daily in mid-ish April. Didn’t miss a day until November when I had to take 10 days off after tweaking my knee (whilst trying to avoid, of all things, a Lego). I listened to music, I listened to books, I listened to my friends on Marco Polo, and sometimes I even just listened to my own breath and heartbeat. I needed a way to keep active and sane and thankfully I live in a place where I can get out and do that away from groups of people. Post knee injury, I’m learning to be OK with not doing this every day and still feeling OK in my body and in my brain; balance (mental and emotional, not just physical) is a forever practice.
  4. Threw in some running this year, too! Social media eventually pissed me off so much this fall that the only way I could process was to run it out. I started low distance and awfully huffy (why am I suddenly a mouth breather when I run?) and worked my way up to a nice 3 mile distance before aforementioned knee injury. I’ve only run a couple times since then but hope to keep getting back to it more and more in the coming year.
  5. Voted for the first woman (and woman of color) Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris! What a joy it was to place my absentee ballot for her, even if there was no chance of my district falling their way. I am overjoyed at the prospect of all that the Biden/Harris administration will accomplish and am so grateful that we finally have a woman in the top leadership in this country.
  6. Said a tearful and unwilling goodbye to my hero, Ruth Bader Ginsberg in September. I sobbed for the loss of her battle with cancer and the profound example of justice, determination, and impact that was her life and life’s work. May her memory be a blessing.
  7. Rebooted my yoga business in a new way for a new year. I haven’t taught an in-person class in almost a year and a half but this fall I started recording classes that are now available for purchase and download from Grounded Sky.
  8. Taught six sections for Bellevue this year which included two at the very start of the shutdown in March, one over the summer and fall, respectively, which was a helpful, lighter load, and then back to two this winter like I had to start the year. I realize that’s confusing, but we run on 10 and 12 week terms, so it’s not the traditional semester system and you flip the calendar in the midst of Winter Term, so it’s not an easy count to make or explain.
  9. I read 80 books. I had a huge slump at the start of the pandemic, so I’m really pleased that I was able to recover that and read so much this year. Combining audiobooks and my walks helped a ton here.
  10. I wrote 46 blog posts. This definitely came in slumpy to end the year. It has felt harder to wear my heart on my written sleeve in the midst of so much division and Internet suckage this year.
  11. Introduced my Big 3 to Star Wars. That franchise has never been Ben’s cup of tea, but I grew up with a brother who loved it, so I had some background knowledge going in and we were gifted Disney+ last year for Christmas anyway (which we didn’t use nearly as much pre-pandemic as we did after sh!t started) so we went for it. Big! We made it through all nine episodes (in order by release date, thank you very much) before summer came and then shortly before Christmas break, we enjoyed both seasons of The Mandalorian. Such a delightful rabbit hole to fall into with them.
  12. Joined a new book club that met weekly online for most of the summer months and has continued to do a few monthly online gatherings since school started. I did not know everyone well (or even at all) in the group before starting, but I greatly appreciated their time and insights in our discussion and getting to know each of them better.
  13. Finally experimented with temporary hair color. I’ve been wanting to play with that for some time now and if 2020 itself wasn’t the best year ever to just say eff it and find a little joy via hair dye, when would be? I have so far used purple (loved it!) and blue (didn’t work as well and turned my dang hand blue instead when I was blow drying it after the fact), and still have a hot pink left waiting for me in the new year. Ridiculous but fun, which was very much needed this year.
  14. Saw Bonnie and Taylor Simms in concert at The Lark for Valentine’s Day and saw Waitress performed at The Lied Center the first weekend in March, and then that was it – no more live music or shows the rest of the year, obviously. But we did live stream concerts from The Talbott Brothers, Tobe Nwige, and Rising Appalachia which were all very different and sort of a band-aid to my live-music-loving-heart. Hoping our postponed Trevor Hall tickets for next spring actually get to be a thing, and I hope to see both RA and Towr’s live in 2021, too.
  15. Learned how to make killer, from-scratch broccoli cheddar soup. It’s phenomenal.
  16. Participated in a Zoom book club video/podcast/round table for our church with two former HC Lit professors along with our two pastors in a six-week read of Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. It was such a pleasure to partake in the discussions plus I loved all the effort our church exerted to keep folks connected this year in new and creative ways with this being just one example of how they did that.
  17. Went six months without wearing jeans or any real pants beyond leggings, PJs, or workout pants/shorts. I don’t actually know if that’s an accurate statement but it really was a significant part of the pandemic/year before I bothered putting those on again and I feel like six months is an honest estimate.
  18. Watched way more TV than normal, including the entire SERIES of Parks and Rec, The Watchmen, The Mandolorian (both seasons), the docuseries On Pointe and season one of Little House on the Prairie (those last three were all with the Big 3 or some combo of them). I’m saving a re-watch of Schitt’s Creek for the long cold months of Jan/Feb 2021.
  19. Painted the final walls of the reno project in the basement (remember when that started over two years ago? Pandemic life slowed us down on that front, too, but now all spaces are totally useable if not 100% done). This included two coats on two sides of five damn doors in the new hallway down there.
  20. Discovered the sheer amazingness and utter shocking WHOA of using a foam roller. A friend suggested it after I started running again and she was not wrong. I love that thing and use it all the time!
  21. Went to Harlan County Reservoir for the first time. We splurged and rented a cabin near there last minute before the 4th of July so we could escape the boom-booms in town and while there we drove over to the lake and discovered that we just love it for day trips which we continued to do throughout the rest of the summer.
  22. Used the “snooze for 30 days,” “unfollow,” and even “unfriend” buttons a fair bit on social media this year. Boundaries and mental health are important and social media is often not helpful in these realms.
  23. Still haven’t found a way to fix my sleep so I don’t wake in the mid-to-early morning hours. And trust me, I tried a LOT of things this year including staying up for an entire day/night/day to try to reset my system. Didn’t work but it was interesting to accomplish. Of course, this was before 2020 really turned into 2020, and I figure most people are struggling in some ways with sleep and anxiety this year, right? Perhaps not the best year to try to “fix” what has been a lifelong issue for me.
  24. Learned how to drink black coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a fancy concoction from a coffee shop and I also still doctor up my own at home with random forms of sugar and milk (like eggnog this winter? yum!) from time to time, but for the most part, I now just drink plain coffee. I feel like such a grownup!
  25. Bought my first-ever case of wine. Not even one bit sorry about my choices. The backstory of how we found this (I may have accused my husband of not knowing who Snoop was) and how three of my friends also bought cases is just too funny not to add it as the last (and always one of the hardest items on this list) to write. (One of those pictured here belonged to a friend, I promise!)
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That’s it, folks. An odd collection of musings for an equally odd year. I know 2021 isn’t going to be an instant fix, but here’s looking forward to some good things coming as we know they must be after the muck and mire of 2020.

This Christmas

Long time no write, friends. I’d say part of that is from sheer busyness, even when we still don’t go anywhere or do anything beyond the necessary, but also, it’s just been a strange end of fall/start of winter for me with a lot of emotional ups and downs, and as much as writing still helps me with that, I haven’t known what to say about it here. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the Internet can be a shitty place to share your heart and I’ve felt myself shying away from doing so these last couple months.

That said, we are now on Christmas Break and I’m trying to store some bits and pieces of this crazy year in recorded fashion because I know that like everything else, this too will pass and fade over time and documenting will one day help me remember just what this Christmas was like.

This is the Christmas of staying home even though (knock on wood) no one is sick. The last two Christmases have brought us botched plans thanks to germs, and I guess this one is no different except that we feel so fortunate not to have actual COVID botching them for us. Again, knock on allll the wood, please and thank you now that I’ve just written that. We will still see my parents over the holiday because they’ve been in our COVID Bubble for months now, but the rest of our holiday interactions will be via video call of one kind or another. We did three different versions of that just today, actually, with a FaceTime, a Skype, and a Family Zoom, all before noon! We did get to do an early Christmas with Ben’s folks last weekend, too; it was our first real gathering with them since July.

This is the Christmas of having five kids ranging in ages 3-11.5 which is still a pretty intense place to be in terms of navigating everyone’s big feels and needs and the fact that is is still really hard to find an activity that they can all do together without mass chaos or fighting happening. Ben and I love board games and much as we try, we keep looking forward to the day when we can actually do that as a whole family unit and have it go smoothly. We know with perseverance and practice, we’ll get there. Eventually.

This is the Christmas of still being able to convince all five kids to watch a PBS Christmas special together and oh how happy it made my heart. Harrison is a legit tween now but bless his big brotherness, he was totally on board to watch A Very Monkey Christmas, the Curious George Christmas “movie” yesterday with the rest of his sibs all piled together on the couch with popcorn and M&Ms while a not-so-little blizzard whirled around outside. Honestly, how many more years do we get of him doing that? I’ll cherish each one, however many he’s willing to give us.

This is the Christmas of cooking and baking a few things here and there but also being really grateful that my mom is here and helps as much as she does, including from her kitchen and our family’s love language of food. We’re also going to try one of Ben’s favorites of his mom’s, homemade Mounds candy, next week once we’ve worked through some of the other Christmas goodies and meals.

This is the Christmas of three nights (so far) of driving to look at Christmas lights, including the less-than-successful Christmas start night. It sounds like that was pretty cool for folks with a telescope but for us it was a bit too much wandering on dark country roads with five over-excited children in the van with us.

This is the Christmas of buying myself a present that I love because a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do, you know?

This is the Christmas of being so thankful for the technology that has seen us through this year and this holiday, that has kept family and friends close even when we couldn’t gather in person. I get so sick of the screens sometimes but also, without them? We would not be OK.

This is the Christmas of Thank Goodness This Year is Almost Over and the Christmas of May We Never Forget All We Learned This Year. It’s been an insane ride and that won’t just change when the calendar flips next week, but for now, for today, which happens to be Christmas Eve, may we all just pause for a second and see it for the gift that it is, no matter how different it looks and feels.

Benched

When I set my goal to walk/run 87 miles in the 30 days leading up to the election, I knew I was up for the task because I needed a good distraction. In fact, I’ve been distracting myself with such activity every single day since the third week in April, which is why it is terribly ironic that on Election Day itself, after I’d actually surpassed the original goal by an extra 20 miles, I injured my left knee due to the contact sport known as parenting.

Y’all, it’s a tale as old as (modern) time: I stepped funny sideways to avoid landing on a Lego (c’mon, parents, you know you know this dance) and tweaked my knee in doing so.

The kicker is, I kept on walking the rest of the week (because how else was I going to survive the chaos of waiting for election results?) before Saturday afternoon’s venture made me realize, I’m actually really hurt and need to take some time off from that kind of movement.

Again, I haven’t missed a day of that in damn near seven months (SEVEN MONTHS) and benching my body right now has not felt good. Eliminating my “burn off the crazy” options while also taking away the option even to do something more gentle like my yoga practice has left with me with meditation/breathwork only and let’s be real clear for a moment – I have been emotionally stuffing with exercise for months now and sitting still is HARD.

Also ironic this week is that after a mailing delay, my #RunforRuth RBG swag finally showed up on Monday, Day Two of my No Movement Week (really hoping it is just a week). An injury does not negate the fact that I put in 107 miles in 30 days (and the injury is not from those miles), but it is bittersweet all the same to be in a place of stuck while also trying to celebrate that accomplishment.

Obviously this isn’t my first physical injury ever and clearly I need to bring in some emotional/mental balance in other ways than just pounding the pavement, so in some ways, this is just fine. But since I can’t burn off said crazy in said ways, I’m doing some extra protecting by staying away from social media but for once-ish a day. There’s a lot of noise out there and my feelings of overwhelm plus too much while also feeling like I’m not doing enough are just a little too loud for that particular space right now.

So I’m reading and doing an ecstatic breathwork program and checking my email about 50x a day since it’s the only platform beyond Pinterest that I’ll let myself look at online these days. And I’m trying really hard to be patient while my body works through what it needs to work through to recover.

I can’t really say patience has ever been one of my strong suits, but like my hero who inspired me to move a little more this fall in the first place, I am persistent as all get out so for now, that will have to do.

Return to Decency

Last week my children, like many of yours I would assume, participated in a school-wide mock election. This of course included the vote for POTUS. While I had prepared my children that not many people around here share my politics (we live in what fivethirtyeight.com deems the reddest electoral college district in the nation), I did not prepare them adequately enough for the ugly responses they would receive for sharing who they voted for in that fake election.

One of my children was called dumb and stupid for voting for Biden. Another was called “gay” (don’t even get me started on how much I can’t stand that particular misuse of language). And the third was shamed for their vote, being told by a classmate, “You shouldn’t vote for Biden. He kills babies after they are born.”

It may come as no surprise, then, that one of the first responses I heard from one my kids yesterday, after the initial JOY, was, “I’m so glad this happened on a Saturday so the kids at school couldn’t tease other kids.”

That *that* is the particular relief my child felt makes my heart heavy. It also makes me ache for those children who have been fed such lies and hatred and who now feel compelled to take it out on others. That this behavior rings true in the same nasty ways the president has modeled for four years hardly excuses it.

Folks, we need a hard shift in our rhetoric. I don’t care about politics near as much as I care about basic human decency and we simply must realize that how we speak to our kids about this election and those who participated in it matters in regards to how we speak to and about one another. Just because my politics differ from the majority around me doesn’t mean my children should have to worry about how they will be treated by their peers at school as a result of their “vote.”

We have to move beyond this polarization and start treating others as we wish to be treated. Our children are watching and listening and parroting what they hear and see us do. For their sake, as well as our own, we have work to do.

Let us return to decency and empathy.

Let us not mock or belittle.

Let us lead with kindness and compassion always.

Christmas in the Bag

Let’s be real for a minute: it’s a crazy time in a crazy year in a crazy election cycle and I am currently convinced that most of us are feeling this at least to some extent. I know I am, which is why I needed a good distraction this last week and my blinders of choice were Christmas tasks while my blinders not of choice were multiple sick kids who share my roof sharing their germs with one another.

First up, the fun stuff of Christmas. The holidays are bound to look super different this year and as much as I’d rather gift my kids experiences, I think we’re going to be at home A LOT this winter, which means some new at home items are where it’s at instead. I already knew their Lego wishes, but then a friend told me last week that shipping times are being reported to be slow and wonky this December and apparently that was all I needed to hear to light a fire under my bum and get after it with getting their actual wish lists.

Thanks to FB friends suggesting ideas and an afternoon spent on Pinterest making my own curated “Toy Catalog” of ideas for the kids to browse, I managed to get them to all make their lists before Halloween (even with the first kid who got sick in the middle of last week). And that’s it. That’s all she wrote. I spent time making sure I did an even number of items/$ per kid, but now Christmas is done, including the Christmas cards because apparently I’m now a person who does all of these things in October. That’s fine. That’s a crazy I’ll accept.

The less fun side of all this is, of course, the germs.

It’s not abnormal for my kids to get back-to-school germs, but I was really hoping that this year with all the masks and handwashing, we’d be better off than in years past. But once one got an icky cold, it seemed inevitable that others in the house would too because my kids are generally still too young to stay the flip away from each other when sick, no matter how hard I try to keep them apart. I guess the bright side here is that we’re on Day Five of this and four of them have already gone sideways on me instead of dragging it out for weeks, which has been known to happen from time to time.

As for me, I’m just washing my hands like a crazy person and taking all the vitamins, supplements, and tea I can hold in hopes that I don’t get it, too.

I didn’t anticipate expending my pre-election jitters on germs and Christmas, but I guess there could be worse coping skills than this and it certainly has all given my brain something productive to do as we await whatever comes for our country in the coming days.

So Many Firsts

Like much of 2020, I had no foresight that today would end up being what it was or meaning what it did. Monday, October 19 seems like an unassuming kind of day, yes? Nothing too big happening?

But for our family, today was not just big. It was huge.

Today marked 222 (yes, TWO hundred and TWENTY-TWO) days since my kids were at in-person school AND it was their first day back to school to start 2nd Quarter face-to-face.

For my Big 3, this meant the first day back to their newly renovated building, which Lincoln has actually never attended at all and RL did only as a Kindergartner. It also was the first day of getting to eat school breakfast (thanks to some funding that makes it free for all) and their first time to see so many of the friends and faces they’ve been missing for the last seven months.

Like me, they were all excited and a little nervous this morning as they got ready to head out the door. And their bags were so heavy with workbooks and school computers to return to their new desks in their new classrooms, but they had masks ready to go and were beyond ready to get there and start figuring out how all this works in the Age of COVID.

After we got the Bigs out the door we still had roughly 3 1/2 hours to wait until the bus picked up Trumy to take him to his first day of preschool at a brand new school. His speech IEP qualifies him for busing which is a huge help to me since he’s in a different building than the Bigs. Thankfully he got to meet his teacher and see his new classroom last week, so even though it felt like I was chopping off a limb to send him off, he at least had some idea of where he was headed. We were out playing in the chilly sun when the bus arrived, and my Brave Boy gave me a squeeze and a kiss and got on like such a little trooper.

Just like when we told them about this new adventure a couple weeks ago, I loved his continued honesty this morning. In addition to asking “Is it time yet?” 100x which showed his excitement, he also told me straight up that he was a little scared to go.

And I totally get it because my own heart has been ping-ponging between those two emotions all weekend, too.

Normally my husband is the one with the shakey leg, but last night I was wound up so tight, even after I crawled into bed I could not stop jiggling my feet because so many little nerves were buzzing through my body. Even with getting all of them safely out the door this morning, I’ve still felt odd and a little off today. After this many months together, just us without any more time apart than 6 hours (one time!), it felt so strange to have them gone for an entire day. And can you believe that much as I’ve been craving the quiet time in the afternoon that I now get four days a week, the loudness of them NOT being here was literally ringing in my ears as I sat trying to write this?

Without knowing until late-September that this would be the official date, we’ve been waiting for this day for forever, it seems. A return to routine, a re-entry to social settings (well, just school, but that counts!), a tiny ounce of normalcy. Now that we’ve landed on it, I really hope we get to keep doing it.

Our state is very much still struggling with COVID right now and I’m praying people can get it together and start moving our trends in the other direction. It feels like an uncertain time to make such a big move like heading back to school, but also so beyond the point of needing to do so for our family. If I could have known school would last longer than three weeks after it started, we would have been there on the actual first day. As it is, I’m now hoping that my kids and all the others in their buildings can stay safe and stay in school.

As for the kids’ pseudo-first day, all went well. They came home in a flurry of stories and backpacks and papers and were all talking all over each other and it felt just a tiny bit like life used to seven months ago; and even though I’m overwhelmed and pretty positive there will be tears in some form (theirs/mine/ours) yet tonight, I’m so grateful it went well.

All the Feels

We called a Family Meeting tonight to share some big news with the Bigs (no, we are not pregnant) and y’all, it did not go like I thought it would.

You see, B and I made the decision a few weeks ago to send the kids back to in-person school for 2nd quarter (I would have been happy to send them then, but we committed to a full first quarter, so on we carried and will do so through next week until Q1 ends) and tonight we finally told them the plan. (Side note: in the weeks since we made this call, our local COVID numbers and stats have not been good and I hate that, but so far it seems that masks are making a world of difference and as long as the schools keep wearing them, hopefully everyone can indeed stay in school. There will be zero outside activities for us; just school, that’s it.).

I thought there would be whooping and hollering. Jumping up and down, even? But that was not the case, at all, actually. Instead there were stunned faces and questioning eyebrows.

Truman was the first to raise a question of concern, as he too gets to return to preschool, just not the PreK we’ve always attended. Instead he’ll be at a public PreK where they’ll be wearing masks, just like all the other classrooms in the district. He asked, with the precision clarity small kids wield so well, “What if I get scared?”

Thankfully I could tell him that I met with his new teacher yesterday and that she seems super nice and that he’ll also get to ride the bus to PreK each day AND eat lunch at school and basically I distracted him with the newness and shininess and bonus features and he seemed to be pretty cool with the plan pretty quickly.

The Middlest says he will miss his teacher and friends a lot, but is so far riding the announcement with the most even keel, which is great; the oldest two, however, have a lot of questions and a lot of feels about all of this which has led to me having a lot of feels tonight, too.

Like LT, they are sad to miss their eTeachers and classmates. But beyond that, they are questioning things like knowing what and how the day-to-day works with masks and spacing out and all that, and I think they are also feeling overwhelmed at the idea of finally getting to be with their people again after seven months without them.

I get that. I really do. The few social distanced times I’ve had with my friends in recent months have each left me with a hang out hang over because my brain is both so happy to see them and also sad as it processes how different life still is these days. But oh goodness, my heart feels for these babies of mine who are a little bit nervous about re-entry. I get that, too.

So we started making lists of questions and plans to FaceTime some friends to ask how things are working. We talked and hugged and cried, especially when they both said that they were going to miss me when they’re at school. I promised to make RL a bracelet she can wear to keep me close when she is away. Goodness, though, talk about tugging on a mama’s heartstrings!

This experience has been the hardest of my parenting life. And yet I’ve also been so grateful for this time with them, to talk to them about COVID and social justice and politics and a million other conversations that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t home with me day in and day out. As much as I’m craving some peace and quiet around here, I’m going to miss them like crazy. I don’t know how I will think about anything but them in those first few days and weeks that they are back at it.

I am sure the questions will keep coming as will the tears and the excitement and everything in the middle for both them and for me. I’m so glad they had the opportunity to participate in eSchool and I’m also so happy for them to get back to an in-person classroom (and, let’s be real, I’m hoping and praying and crossing all my fingers and all my toes that it stays safe and able to remain open, especially after we’ve waited this long to get there).

So there ya have it, friends. Another day on the roller coaster otherwise known as parenting little Littles in 2020. It just never quite goes like we think it will, but we’re learning the entire time.

Mama Don’t Play

Y’all, it’s a Tuesday AND it is still (unfortunately) 2020, so am I surprised that today has been a bit of A Day? No, not really. But I don’t have enough eggs in the house to make Tuesday Bars, so writing instead it shall be!

We’re in week 85 of eLearning (I don’t really know how long it has been – 7 weeks, probably?) and even though the kids have adapted to it pretty well, I’m still so worn out by it all. The Zoom gremlins come at least once a day for someone in our house, and even though we’ve learned tricks to navigate tech problems (HD is quite the little tech support), it’s really frustrating to hear your name said as “MOOOOOMMMMMM!” 20x a day because someone needs something right this second and there’s a problem or a question or what about this and did the other person get into their Zoom OK and did the laundry get changed to the dryer and where are the snacks and did you drink any water yet today and are you still wearing PJs annnnnd, welcome to 3 minutes in my brain as an eLearning parent. Scattered to say the least!

So yeah. I get it. The Kids are tired of this. I’m tired of this. And, unfortunately, it seems folks in our state are tired of attempting to do the right thing because our numbers are in the top 7 or 8 in the country for rising cases (or at least 10 days ago they were because that’s how far behind most testing is in our area). It feels so hard to make decisions about moving forward with confidence because how do you know what might be OK in the future based on data that’s already outdated when you get it?

Needless to say, some things are strained around here such as patience and politeness, and even though we are just two days into this school week, I have had to tell my girlfriends in messages, “Mama Don’t Play That Way!” for major kid infractions twice this week as well. I won’t throw any particular children under the bus in this post but 1) don’t lie to me about having your schoolwork done and 2) don’t make 50 rude faces at me in response to being redirected and expect no consequences (and no, I’m not addressing the same child for each of those points).

Just one example of the 50 faces coming at me today. I mean, I get it. I really do. But no. NO.

Knock on wood, we’re through the worst of today when it comes to attitudes and I even get to sneak out for a mid-afternoon run here in a bit thanks to my mom, so that’s a sanity saver in and of itself. And speaking of “Mama don’t play,” I’ve taken the movement challenge up a notch and set out to complete 87 miles in 31 days in honor of RBG, after a friend sent me a link for a virtual event over the weekend. I’ve already done 11 and hope to knock out couple few more today. I still get pretty sore and hobble-y after the runs but it feels good to push myself and it is a good way to focus my energy and anxiety, so I’m glad to have that as a side task between now and the election.

You know, there’s often at least a bit of a “so what?” to my posts but today is a Tuesday and also *A* Tuesday, so I’m just going to let it be what it is by documenting it and moving on because that’s what life these days calls for, right?

See it. Acknowledge it. Release it.

Or just keep trying/running/swimming/breathing until you can do so.

Just Running

Four years ago in September, I was softening my body, hoping and praying that we would be so fortunate as to get pregnant again.

Three years ago this time I was, thankfully, quite pregnant.

Two years ago in the fall I was busy chasing after five small children, with one still attached at the boob, nursing.

One year ago I was still chasing but not nursing and experiencing chronic, unexplained pain in my body.

Today I am still juggling all those kids PLUS life at six months into a pandemic and I just completed Day Three in a row of running after five months of daily walks that suddenly shifted due to rage earlier this week.

I kid you not – somebody’s insensitive post on FB in response to peaceful protests pissed me off so much that on Wednesday, a walk just wasn’t enough to burn off the crazy – I had to run.

I’ve been feeling the urge for a while.

You see, before I was a mom and blogger, I was a writer and a runner. Cross Country in middle school and high school, and a couple half marathons under my belt prior to having babies; but since then, running just hasn’t ever felt right (see above timeline for some explanation).

Also, I walk a lot of the same routes around town and I joked to my girlfriends that if I just started running one day, the people who see me on a regular basis might worry that something was wrong or that someone was after me.

Like I said, Wednesday + Facebook broke me of that hesitancy and I just started running and didn’t stop for over a mile, maybe a mile and a half. Yesterday I went a few more blocks, and today the same – tacked on a few more.

And you know what? I feel amazing. And, I also feel like an 85-year-old man (I don’t know why not an 85-year-old woman – this probably stems from the way I am currently walking down stairs two feet to each step, sideways and grimacing, much like remember my Grandpa Tim doing in his later years), but that’s because I am good hurt – sore muscles that haven’t been used to this capacity in well, roughly a dozen years.

Our journeys with our bodies are so intense. If you’ve been reading along here for any length of time, you know my own relationship with my body is a complicated one, on several levels. I’ve gone through significant back issues and five pregnancies all with a solid dose of body dysmorphia thrown in there, too.

But right now? In this moment, in this body, in this insane year that is 2020?

I feel like a badass. I feel ready to fight. There’s just no other way to say it.

My body is nothing like it was the last time I was a runner and I’m not really sure three days of running makes me a runner again, but I’m here to give it my best shot because I’ve never known anything else that works quite so well to expend anger, frustration, worry, and all the other emotions that are running high this year besides running. Pun, as always, intended.

So I give thanks in this moment for my body and this journey and that I am where I am on this path to keep exploring, keep testing, and keep finding ways to be at peace with what is.

Finders and Keepers

I received a message this week that caught me off guard, both in its kindness and in its wondering. I had someone write and ask me how I came to find my friend groups because she too wants to build what she sees me having.

Firstly, the kindness: it was very sweet of this woman to say, in essence, that she sees beauty in my friendships. I see that as a compliment because, secondly, the off guardness: I tend to tell myself a lot of stories when it comes to friendship, and believe me, some of them aren’t very, well, kind.

For much of my grown life, I’ve told myself that I am not good at keeping friends. This, of course, isn’t entirely true. Like any person who grows, moves, changes careers, gets a new hobby, etc., my friend groups have shifted over time. But I’ll be real honest and tell you that there is a little part of me that often wonders, even to this day, “Is it me; am I really not capable of keeping close friends? Are my friends going to leave me if I make a mistake?”

I was honest in my response to her message and said, in essence, both of these things: “thank you” and “it hasn’t always been this way.”

Firstly: the gratitude. She offered me a real gift in calling out the strength she sees in my friendships because it helps quiet that not-so-nice little voice that doubts and questions whether I am a good or worthy friend. While I’m working not to live by what other people think of or say about me, I’m also not above being grateful for a little verbal validation. Just think of what it would do if we spent more time telling others what see about them that is working, is beautiful, is good, especially when they aren’t expecting to hear it from us. Wouldn’t that be such a simple and wonderful way to spread more kindness?

Secondly: the truth that it has taken time and effort to get here. I had to put myself out on a limb more than once in the last several years to test the friend-filled waters. This meant initiating conversations, small groups, coffee dates, and so on until I found the right combination of trusted, safe places (by which I mean people) that I could call my dearest friends. It’s okay for friendships to come and go, just like its okay to set boundaries for yourself and also put yourself out there to make a new connection. Some will spark. Some will blaze and burn for a while. And others will stand by your side even when the fire gets doused with unforeseen pouring rain.

You are worth the trying. You too can put yourself out there. The worst that might happen is that someone says “no thanks” and if that’s the case, then they weren’t meant to be your people.

It can be so hard not to feel like a loner and weirdo, especially in these COVID times, but I am convinced that if we put ourselves out there with authentic asks and cultivate the circles in which we wish to spin, we can all find our place. We all have one. We all deserve one.

Like the rest of adulting, adult friendship forming is not easy. Sometimes it will suck. Sometimes it will hurt. Sometimes you will stick your foot in your mouth so hard you chip a tooth. Sometimes your friend will do the same. But we need to keep seeking and we need to keep connecting because our people are what make this insane roller coaster of life seem less horror show and more adventurous comedy (even when it is a shit show).

But let’s also be honest with each other and admit how hard these relationships can be to find, develop, and maintain, lest that others think we have something they can’t.

Like I said, your circle is out there, and trust me, they need you as much as you need them.

P.S.: Nothing about the last six months of life has felt normal, which also means that the only friend photos I have to share with you and this post are from last year (after a literal downpour), but I also wouldn’t have made it through the last six months without my circles, so there’s that. They’ve kept me going one text, meme, GIF and Marco Polo at a time. I’m grateful for their friendship and for all the connections that are out there, waiting to be, for each of us and each of you.