Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm a runner.

Today, I ran my first 5k in more than 5 years!  I've never been a runner, but a few years back I took a running class and worked my way up to a 5k.  It was a huge challenge, but I enjoyed the challenge.  

Here is me finishing my first ever 5k in June of 2004!  

Yea, I look pretty awful.  I almost died.  Like, seriously.  My eyes glazed over, and my mom considered seeking medical help. I finished in 34 minutes, 44 seconds.  I ran the entire thing and that was my entire goal.  Here I am looking a little better as I recover...

After this, I ran a few more 5Ks over the course of about 9 months.  A few of them I didn't even run.  Training didn't happen, and I walked most of them.  I did successfully run two others.  My running times range from 32:41 to 34:44.

Well about 8 weeks back, I decided I was going to start running and chose a 5K!  I used a Couch to 5k app on my iPhone.  And my favorite part?  My hubby did it with me!!  We started out doing our runs together in the church parking lot next door while the kids ran around with us or played with playground balls.  Then as our runs got longer, we took the jogging strollers to a few walking paths.  Then as they got even longer, we started taking turns.  We vary our workouts, sometimes doing the road right in front of our house, other times taking the kids to a trail where one of us hikes with the kids while the other runs, or a playground with a track.  You get the idea.  I am so grateful to C for running with me.  It is not something he ever wanted to do, and he's doing it for me.  It has made all the difference in my motivation and support.

I've had some shin splint issues and some ankle issues leftover from a spring injury, but we've been doing okay.  I was reluctant about today's race, but I was adamant about just finishing it without dying. And I did!!!

Crossing the finish... at about 34:29... I'll fill in official race times when I get them.

Recovering in the chute waiting to hand in my tag.

I still don't look real pretty crossing the finish or like it's the easiest thing on earth or anything, but that's okay because it's not easy.  And that's what makes it awesome.  It's not easy.  Training hasn't been easy, and the race wasn't easy (although I did feel pretty good at the end, no where near like that first race where we wondered if I was going to make it), but I did it!

I'm getting stronger - physically, emotionally, and spiritually through running.  I am losing weight I need to and want to lose for my health, both physically and emotionally.  And this is just a beginning.  I plan to keep running, working to shave some time off my 5K and maybe even working towards a 10K.  I value the support I have in my husband who is not only telling me to get out there and do it because it's important to me, but sucking it up and doing it with me.  That's HUGE!  And he won't race, and that's okay, because I need someone to play with the kids, take pictures, and cheer me on while I race.

To top it all off, I am setting an example for my children.  I am teaching them that just because something is hard doesn't mean we don't do it.  I am teaching them that physical activity is a part of our everyday life.  I am teaching them that picking goals and going for them is not only important and healthy, but it's fun!!  And as a result, I have a three year old who raced his first race today (100M) and can't wait to do it again! 

Check out his pre-race stretching!

I'm a runner, and I'm not going to qualify that in any way. And it feels good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Holistic Parenting and Holistic Moms Network

Well August has flown by!  It's been busy around here for a number of reasons, one of which is that I've been in the process of becoming a Holistic Moms Network Chapter Leader, and I've finished!  I've joined the ranks of two other wonderful moms as a leader of the Sussex County, NJ Chapter.

What is the Holistic Moms Network?
From their website....
The Holistic Moms Network is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization connecting parents who are interested in holistic health and green living.  We encourage moms to trust their instincts, parent from the heart, use their innate sense of what is best for their children, live in balance with the Earth, and learn about the pros and cons of all healthcare and parenting options.

Living healthy and living green is not an endpoint, but an ongoing journey.  No matter where you are on your parenting or holistic living journey, you are welcome at HMN!  We are a diverse and open-minded community — a place where your choices are respected and where you can learn and become informed!  Many of us are new to this journey, others more experienced.  Wherever you are, you can benefit from the wisdom, support, and resources that Holistic Moms have to offer!
They have great information on their site about the mission and purpose, and you should totally go read it because it's great stuff and I love what the organization stands for, which is why I became a leader.

But what I want to look at for a moment is the 7 ideals of holistic parenting that Holistic Moms Network stands behind. Holistic living and holistic parenting is a journey, and as stated above, HMN welcomes you wherever you are in that journey!  Of course, a journey is about progress and movement (hopefully forward!), and we progress and travel forward through education and reflection.  Education is the opportunity to look outside of ourselves, outside of what we are doing, outside of what we know.  Education is an attempt to better understand the facts, the world, and the possibilities!  Meanwhile, education will only get us so far.  We must reflect.  Reflecting turns us inward to look at where we've been, where we are, and where we want to be going.  Reflecting helps us take stock of our lives, see the areas where we are moving forward towards our goals and look at the areas where maybe progress has slowed, stopped, or even regressed.  Reflecting is not about giving us a grade, putting ourselves on a pedestal for all we've done, or slapping ourselves on the hands for what we haven't been doing.  It's a check-in time to see where we're at and how we feel about that!

As I embark on Holistic Moms Network leadership, I decided it was a good time for me to reflect on my own journey, and I'm going to use the 7 ideals as a way to do that.  It's not because as a leader, my journey is any more important or has higher standards than anyone else.  It's because this is something that helps me on my journey, and maybe by sharing it here, it might help someone else.  So here we go, ideal by ideal.

1. Making informed and educated parenting decisions around issues such as childbirth, breastfeeding, healthcare and well-being, nutrition, interpersonal communication, and education.
This is one that comes fairly naturally to my husband and I; however, it is neverending.  We are the kind of people who really like books, and we really like to research, learn, and explore.  It seemed natural that when we had children we would do that with parenting decisions. Of course, the sheer amount of decisions and information available is overwhelming.  I know a lot about childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, circumcision, and vaccines.  I am working to stay up to date and learn more on these subjects while expanding into different areas.  My lists of 'books to read', 'blogs to follow', and 'topics to research' grow daily.  We have learned a lot from the time we found out we were pregnant with our first child four and a half years ago, and I imagine we will learn as much or even more in the next four and a half years.
Goal: I am going to work on reading 1-2 books a month that I have acquired on topics that interest me but that I have not found time to read yet.  To do this, I will choose a book instead of the internet at least once a day.

2. Seeking respectful and nurturing relationships with others, imparting the values of empathy, love, and compassion to our children, and embracing attachment parenting techniques (including babywearing, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and positive discipline).
We are attached parents.  We focus on respecting our children as people and responding to their needs as effectively as we can.  We wore our children as babies, and now continue to do so even as toddlers and preschoolers when it is the best way to meet their needs.  I continue to nurse both my children as they have shown that they are not ready to wean, although as we approach my older son's fourth birthday we will consider parent-led weaning.  We have a family bed because that is how our children sleep best, which is still not all that well.  B, who is three and a half, slept in his own room for a period of time and then clearly showed a need to be with the family through the night and so we have responded to that need.  We strive for positive discipline.  We do not and will never spank or hit our children.  There are laws that protect you or I from being hit by an adult, and I feel passionate that our children should be equally protected.  Nevertheless, we struggle with effective positive discipline as both my husband and I are what you may call 'yellers' and this type of parenting doesn't always come naturally to us.  It is something we really work for.  Right now, we are focusing on better communication, become increasingly aware and respectful of feelings, and problem solving together with the kids.
Goal: I will continue to learn about positive discipline and effective communication.  Together my husband and I will support each in other in 're-writing' the scripts in our head so that our initial reaction can turn into a more effective, respectful reaction.
3. Actively participating in our own healing process when we’re out of balance; using minimally invasive healthcare modalities to help the body and spirit heal while respecting the many paths to healing, both holistic and conventional.
We have used homeopathy, chiropractic, essential oils, herbs, and more in working to aid our body's healing process and that of our children.  There was a time where we backslid out of exhaustion and frustration to reaching for what seemed like a 'quicker fix' (i.e. ibuprofen or tylenol), but we have reminded ourselves why we do what we do and re-focused our journey.  We have unfortunately been missing out on chiropractic care as a result of budget restrictions and insurance, but we hope to go back to that soon as we see chiropractic care as an important preventative measure that keeps our bodies and immune systems functioning at their best.  We continue to learn about the ways we can support the healing process, and we continue to grow in our trust of our bodies' ability to heal.
Goal: I will increase my knowledge of quality essential oils through Young Living Oils, and will actively use them as both a preventative and healing support measure

4. Balancing and integrating the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of being into everyday life; using the principles of wholeness – healthy eating, regular exercise, natural healing, stress reduction, non-violent communication – to create a balanced life for the entire family.
We continually work to model and integrate an awareness of well-being in all areas of life.  I am currently focusing on 'real food' and refining our food choices including making most things from scratch and avoiding processed foods completely.  My husband and I have begun running, and I really enjoy watching my preschooler's response to this as he imitates us and encourages us.  There's little as inspiring as my little guy standing on the front porch every day waiting for me to return from my run and racing to greet me and hand me a water bottle. So, we are concentrating on healthy eating and exercise right now.  We strive to be an active part of a faith community and raise our children up in our faith as well as a respect and awareness of other people's faith..  The area we are most challenged in is stress reduction and a healthy balance of work, play, and rest.
Goal: I will work to model work, play, and rest ideals.  I will focus on reducing stress in my life and model healthy practices like meditation, prayer, and yoga.

5. Teaching our children to respect and care about the natural world by actively providing opportunities for them to be in nature, and teaching them about how they can protect our environment.
This is something we have really improved upon this spring into summer.  We are outside daily.  I would like to increase the amount even more now that it is not stifling hot.  We've spent lots of time at the lake this summer but less hiking.  But, we focus on the outdoors as a place for fun, relaxation, education, and more!  We read books about the environment, the problems in it, and what we can do to help.  We model a lifestyle that is continually reducing its impact.  We talk about recycling as we do it.  We use reusable containers, cloth napkins and rags, and cloth diapers.  We use very little disposable items, and we talk about why we do it all!  We compost, we garden, and we use natural cleaning and personal products.  This ideal is something that we are constantly working to do more for, but it is also already at the forefront of our lives.
Goal: We will get back to our regular hikes and work to fully take advantage of the wonderful area in which we live to explore, play, create, and relax in nature!

6. Limiting our children’s exposure to advertising, marketing, and a consumer-driven culture that is creating rampant materialism, disconnecting them from nature and healthy social interactions.

I have always disliked my children watching television and started off with good limits.  Slowly, the amount of time they watched increased, and the television became a crutch for my husband, myself, and for the kids.  The kids were unable to play well independently and constantly wanted the television on.  My husband and I were overwhelmed at the work "no T.V." time required.  We spent a week unplugged while at camp this summer, and when the kids came back and didn't ask for it to be turned for three days I knew I wasn't going to suggest it!  Now, we have a general limit of about 45 minutes a day, but often the television doesn't go on at all in a day.  Other days, we might watch a whole movie as a family which is more like 90 minutes, but I feel like we have found our balance.  When the kids do watch, they ask for movies like VeggieTales or Signing Time of which my husband and I approve.  We have always avoided too much branding and characters in toys, clothing, etc. but sometimes find it difficult when well-meaning family gifts these items.
Goal: I will continue to limit television and other 'screen-time', and I will seek to teach my preschooler about what advertising is and how to identify it so that he can learn to make informed decisions despite media messages.
7. Living more simply and consuming less in an effort to reduce our impact on the environment and to emphasize non-material values.
If you read my Christmas in July post you already know that this is something we are working on as far as toys especially.  But it's more than that.  We are really working hard to minimize the stuff.  Do we need to commemorate events with stuff?  Does every trip need a souvenir? Do we need to buy that book we really liked or just borrow it from the library?  We are slowly cleaning out things, getting rid of stuff we saved 'just in case' and passing it on others who can use it.  While I know this doesn't directly reduce our impact as these things have already been bought and made, we are working to model a simpler life that places less value on stuff.  We also try to buy most things second hand and give away stuff (or sometimes sell) stuff we are done with to keep things out of landfills and foster community.  Like all the other ideals, this is an ongoing process.  These habits on top of those I talked about in reference to the fifth ideal of using as much reusable as possible and, therefore, consuming less are building blocks for a simpler, more environmentally friendly life.
Goal: I will not get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, making thoughtful decisions for our own purchasing and gently communicating to family our wishes.  I will also not keep things given to us by family that do not fit with our desired requests (no plastic, no batteries especially) but instead donate them to others who will appreciate and use them.

So that's where we're at in our journey!  This isn't a check list of everything we do that we consider holistic or anything like that.  It's some thoughts about where we've come from, where we are, and where we're going!  And I'm so happy that I have the community of Holistic Moms Network to support me on this journey.

The Little Lutheran

I'm delighted to have a blog post I wrote about talking to my son about death and dying featured on The Little Lutheran website. 

You can check it out here, and I even have a little bio posted.  Aren't I fancy?  Ha!  Someone at magazine follows me on twitter and found my blog when I tweeted about that post.  The world of social networking really amazes me! 

Meanwhile, a subscription to The Little Lutheran is on my kids' Christmas list now!  Last time I looked at it, they were a little young, but now it's perfect.  And their website is such a great resource for parents.  Be sure to take a look and click around!

Did you find my blog from The Little Lutheran site? Welcome!  Be sure to leave a comment to let me know.