Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I love...

I love... that a 3 mile run seems like too short of a workout.

I love... that there is such a thing as an easy 5 mile run.

I love... that my idea of a 'splurge' is a device that will help me train smarter while continuing to set and achieve tangible achievable goals. (I don't love that it arrived not working, but we're going to fix that).
Garmin Forerunner 305 (arrived broke, but fixing that)
 I love... finding music that makes me want to move faster. (Another post with a race playlist is coming soon...)

I love... that I have a 5k in 12 days and instead of lamenting how unprepared I am but convincing myself to run it anyway, I'm pushing myself to prove that I can break a personal record (PR) that I set 6 years ago.

I love... that today I ran the fastest 5k I have in 6 years outside with rolling hills. Just 11 seconds faster, and I will have that PR.

I love... that I can have awful runs and bounce back. I love redemption runs.

I love... that I run for me, and no one else. It's not about being skinny, losing weight, or anything else. It's about me, setting goals and accomplishing them. It's about figuring out what I need to succeed. It's about the freedom that getting strong, healthy, and happy gives me.

I love... that every day I run, I feel happier, stronger, and more like me.

I love... running. Not just the after-run feeling anymore. I love it while I'm doing it. It makes me smile. And I love that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Links I Love

Simplemom shares her love of Pinterest on her Weekend Links. Have you checked out Pinterest? I love it. You can see my pinboards here.  I agree with Tsh that it's not just another time-suck when used well. It's a helpful tool for inspiration, organization, and resources. Every time I log-in, it's like a little treat gazing at beautiful things, searching for ideas, or being motivated.

I love this breakdown of GAPS, WAPF, clean-eating and more. Lately, I've been particularly annoyed with the confusion around nutrition and proper diets. Of course, I also get to add the fact that I don't have a gall bladder to the mix. For now, I find I feel best when I am eating mostly vegan, but I see the value you in traditional foods diets. My body just doesn't seem very happy with them for now, but I'm continued to research and will continue to try things.

Do You Love Yourself over at thedailylove is a wonderful testament to the simple yet immense power of loving yourself.

At Rhythm of the Home Learn: Take a breath connects yoga, parenting, and life through breath and rhythm. I am enjoying discovering the ways my yoga practice informs my life and my life informs my yoga practice.

And finally, I loved this post, Motherhood Is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank). As long as you avoid the temptation to get all martyr-like with it, I appreciate the perspective on our call to motherhood as children of God raising children of God.

What links are you loving?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Time for a Time-in, Not a Time-out

Over the past few days, I've watched my 4 y/o get a little more short-tempered and a little more physical day by day. Things that he would normally brush off before began to send him into a tailspin. He started to lash out with gritted teeth, angry words, and physical pushes, shoves, and hits when angry. My response? I got frustrated. What was he doing? He knows better than that. I don't have time or energy to tolerate this. Just STOP. C'MON!
My little boy with big emotions
Surprisingly or not, my frustration didn't help the situation. It continued. This morning from the moment he woke up, he was short-tempered, angry, and tense. He was switching back and forth between screaming because his brother messed up his train tracks or puzzle to begging to cuddle quietly on the couch. Clearly he was feeling off. We were up a little late last night, and I knew he was tired.  We attempted an early nap, but that didn't happen.

At times, it seemed like he was fighting with himself. He wanted to play, he wanted to interact, and yet when something didn't go the way he wanted, he just couldn't handle it. My husband and I traded off duties at home with him doing a visit for work in the morning and me running to the store in the afternoon. The kids played. They watched part of a movie. They made pickles. And even after all that, Ben was still off.

By the time I returned from the store, we were all tired. I tried to put away packages. Hubby tried to finish canning pickles. The kids tried to kill each other while screaming loudly. We were all frustrated. It'd been a long day of tip-toeing around Ben and trying to help him function. We needed to get dinner on the table and get the children to sleep.

When the last brawl broke out and Ben hit his little brother in the chest after we had just spent the last fifteen minutes talking about not hitting and finding other ways to deal with our problems, my husband and I were done. I yelled at Ben. I angrily picked him up and handed him to my husband who took him to his room. On the way there, Ben absolutely lost it. He was screaming, hitting, and kicking. Once in his room, when his Dad tried to come in to talk to him, he threw a hardcover book at him.

Having calmed the little brother down, I went upstairs to take over. I opened the door and had books thrown at my face. There was screaming, banging, and kicking the door. He looked angry, upset, and... terrified. He didn't know how to stop. I had been so focused on the effects of his actions on me, how frustrating, annoying, and exhausting they were, that I had missed how confusing and scary it must have felt for this little boy with these giant emotions.

I managed to get a hold of him, and I didn't let go. He tried to kick, hit, and bite me while I told him I loved him and I wanted to help him. Soon, his kicking and hitting was mixed with attempts at hugging. He didn't know what to do or how to stop. I offered to go outside and run with him if that might help him feel better, and he looked up at me and nearly begged, "just snuggle me." And so I did.

Over the next little bit, we found our way to his bed where we curled up together. He burrowed into my chest and said, "I missed you, mama." I offered sleepy music, and he gratefully accepted. I offered some Peace and Calming oil, and he said, "yes please". I got some Valerian Super Calm, and he eagerly took the dose.

At one point in this process, his little brother found his way upstairs, wandered in and began to take apart some of the floor puzzles Ben had finished during rest time. I watched Ben tense up. I watched him look at me, begging for the calm we had been creating. Luckily, Dad quickly came and got the little guy so Ben and I could connect.

We laid on the bed and cuddled. He slowly began to perk up and chat a little telling me about the games he'd played with Dad earlier. I asked him about the favorite things we'd done lately and he told me how much he liked swimming. I asked him what his happiest moment of the past few days had been, and he took a deep breath before saying "right now". I asked him what his saddest moment had been and he got very quiet before saying "just before now." And then we talked more about what he was looking forward to in the next few days.

I was amazed by how in tune he was with what he needed. I felt stupid for missing all of his cries for connection and help in the past few days. I regretted the frustration and annoyance I had felt at his "bad" behavior. I'm not sure what caused the disturbance to begin with, but it doesn't matter. My son was telling me he needed me and that he felt out of sorts by his behavior, and as his mom it is my job to listen to his actions and his words and help him. It is my job not to lecture him or to punish him, but instead to connect, listen, and be present with him.

After just twenty minutes of time together spent talking, cuddling, and reading, it was time for dinner. He went downstairs a different child. He sat next to me at dinner and chatted away. After dinner, he cheerily asked for me to play with him until it bedtime, and actually said, hooray!, when I told him that it was time for bed. Meanwhile, I was spent, exhausted by the culmination of frustration and stress combined with the emotional work of helping him sort through the intensity of his own emotions. But clearly, it was exactly what he needed, and I hope that next time I can key into that sooner, even if just a little.  

Our kids have so much to tell us if we simply listen. Sometimes, they need a time-in so much more than any time-out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Being Enough: Be Enough Me Monday Link Up


I got pointed towards a great new blog, Just.Be.Enough, when a blogger I follow Robin from Farewell, Stranger guest posted there. Robin's post, On High Standards and Hating Myself struck a chord with me as a recovering perfectionist. After looking around at the rest of the blog, I fell in love with this post, 37 days.

...The truth is that I am not a perfect parent, nor do I ever expect to be. I am the best parent I can possibly be, or at least I try (on most days). There are some days that I know I am not at my best, and yet, that is the best I can muster in that moment.  And you know what? That has to be ok. That has to be enough...
Go read it. I'll wait.

There are so many people that need to hear this message of being enough. Knowing that you are enough empowers you to just be. To be present. To be happy. To be aware. To be loved. To be everything you are meant to be and already are.

In parenting, in depression, and in life, be enough moments can be hard to come by, rare even. It can feel like we always need to be something else for someone else. It can feel like we always need to be something more. Just a few days ago, I became acutely aware of a be enough moment before I had the words to call it that. It is a moment that I am blessed to recreate daily, sometimes twice daily.

I have a two year old son who still loves to nurse. He realizes he is sleepy around bedtime and naptime, climbs onto my lap, and says "mommy nurse me, please". It is the sweetest phrase to hear, and while sometimes I say not yet or hold on or I feel annoyed at having to stop what I am doing, that all quickly melts away. It melts away when we climb the stairs to our family bed and he crawls to his spot waiting for me. It melts away when no matter how upset, anxious, exhausted, or overstimulated he is, he curls into my arm and latches on. In that moment, we both breathe a sigh of relief and contentment as we melt together. It doesn't matter that we've been fighting all morning and I have no idea how to teach him the things I need to teach him (like you can't throw your wooden car at the television set repeatedly). In that moment, I know that I am enough. I know that I am everything he needs. No matter my parenting failures, my short temper and my tired days, in that place and time, I am meeting that little boy's every need, and together we are finding forgiveness, grace, love, and connection.

It's in that moment, that I truly believe that I can just. be. enough.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scream-Worthy Runs, Fun Leg Gear, and Gross Energy Gel

I'm still running. Technically, I'm five weeks into my half marathon training schedule gearing up for my next half marathon in Ocean City, NJ in October.  It's been a lot of ups and downs much like the rest of my life.

My first challenge was a touchy calf, achilles, and shin on my left side in the first few weeks. I had to back off some miles and let it ease in.  It's doing much better now, in part thanks to my fancy new compression sleeves. Check these out. Aren't I fashionable?

I'm new to the compression gear, but I'm pretty much in love already. According to the description of the pair I got, they provide "pin-point compression to shin and calf muscles to improve blood circulation, performance and muscle recovery." I've both ran with them as well as put them on post-run. Sometimes I've done both. All I know is they feel good. I kind of want a compression jumpsuit to put my entire body in after wearing these. Compression tights might be next on my list.

For now, my husband finds me sitting around the house like this. Those are my new toe stretchers. I was skeptical and paid only $4.26 for them (although I see they've dropped below $4 now!). I was hoping these might help with the constant pain I'm in from the tailor's bunion on my left foot while I avoid cortisone injections and surgery. I'm not sure they are a miracle cure, but they definitely help reduce the pain! I can bend my foot more without pain than I could before after using them. I probably need to use them more, but I don't spend that much time sitting down.

After taking some time off to ease my leg into things, I was knocked on my butt by some strange illness I still haven't figured out. My husband has Lyme so that's a consideration, but for now, we are waiting blood test results and just trying to live gently while I recover. This means I've lost a lot of training time. So far, I should have covered 79.5 miles according to my training plan. I've covered 48.66 of those miles.  This isn't exactly new to me as I had only covered about half of the miles on my training plan going into my last half marathon, but I wanted this time to be different. At the same time, I have to listen to my body and do the best I can.

Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail
With that in mind, I logged some miles in the last 4 days after a 10 day break.  I started with 3.5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday playing a little with my speed. On Saturday, I ran 4 miles on the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail. I love the trail. Very pretty, nice and flat, though it was very narrow at points causing a few rolled ankles. The most exciting and alarming part of that run was when I startled a deer standing just two feet from me. It jumped and ran across the trail in front of me, and I screamed. Like loud. Ha!

Today, I headed out in the rain hoping to get in 8 miles. Was I being overly ambitious after being injured, then sick, and not running for 10 days (with spotty training before that)? I kind of think so at the moment. It was a crappy run. I worked my way through 5 miles slowly and grumpily. Starting at mile 3, I was mentally and physically fighting myself to go each half mile farther. At 5 miles, I stopped to hit a bathroom and take an energy gel. 

A friend gave me some gels she wasn't using so I could try them. I liked Clif Shot Bloks so I thought I might like Clif Shot Energy Gel. The one I tried was Razz flavored, and it didn't go so well. In fact, I gagged and spit it out on the side of the trail. I think it was the texture... and the flavor... and everything about it. I had a vanilla gel with me too, but thought I'd do better with the Razz. Not so much. I'll stick to Shot Bloks and Honey Stingers.

After that catastrophe, I stood on the side of the road in the rain having a bit of a temper tantrum. I did. not. want. to run ANYMORE! I was cranky, tired, and my legs hurt. I was supposed to do another loop of the park I was at but convinced myself to just run home at a faster pace to make up for not hitting my mileage. That lasted for a few tenths of a mile before my legs just stopped. I hit the intersection where I would turn to head the 1.5 miles home. I was pissed at myself for all the stopping, so I headed in the opposite direction determined to finish the 3 miles I needed despite the walk breaks I'd taken. 

Yep, that's how I felt about the whole run.
Well that lasted about a mile before my legs rudely stopped moving in the middle of one of my peptalks. Seriously, they just stopped. My head was all, "you're doing great, just 1.5 miles from home, just bang these out and you're done. You can consider it a success despite the walk breaks" and my legs were all "yeah right, we're done." Finally, I gave up and called my husband a mile out to come pick my butt up. In the end, I squeaked out 6.8 miles, though the first 5 were the only real continuous miles.

But, I'll get myself up and brush myself off. My next race is a 5k on Labor Day. It's the same 5k I ran last year starting this journey with a time of 34:29. I'm determined to run hard, leaving everything out on the road. I'm determined to best my time from my 5k in March (33:58), but also fight hard to set a new lifetime PR (one that was set 2005, 32:41). It's going to be a stretch, but I want to fight for it. I've got a redemption run in my future, and then it's on with the training. I've got speed work and long runs on the brain.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Joyful Moments

Simple joys found yesterday. Cooking with fresh produce from the garden and the CSA. The overwhelming aroma of fresh-picked rosemary. Rainbows of colors in a simple meal of roasted vegetables and potatoes. A morning at the fair, and a little boy's joy. A few stolen moments of quiet with some lemon water and an inspiring book.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Finding My Way Out: A Mental Health Rant

I've been sitting on this post for a little bit because I didn't want to seem too... I don't know, depressing? Angry? Negative? Crazy? Whatever it was, I was reminded by the many people who have thanked me for my honesty regarding depression why I need to post this.

You see, lately I've been riding one hell of a rollercoaster. Up, down, and all around. I've made some behavioral strides and explored all sorts of options. I've thought I was on the way up and out of this hole only to plunge deeper into the darkness just days, hours, or even minutes later. I know I need help on this journey. I need a hand or 5 to reach down into this hole over and over again to pull me out.
Photo credit: e_pics on Flickr
One of my problems is those people, places, things that I thought could be those hands look a lot more like those people standing near traffic lights waving their signs touting the best or biggest sale, good, or service "just around the corner". Everywhere I turn someone or something is trying to convince me they know the cause of my mental health crisis and If I follow their instructions and/or buy their product I'll be cured!

I have books and magazines lining my shelves that tout all sorts of varied herbs, supplements, or foods to balance my emotions.  I have 400 pages to read about how nothing besides homeopathy will cure me in the end. Or maybe its essential oils. There are cleanses and diets. Is the the imbalance in my gut bringing me down or is my body mourning the death of all those animals I eat? Exercise programs remind us that endorphins make us happy. Of course, my energy also needs to be rearranged and weekly massage can change your life (yes, I'd file bankruptcy and my kids would be left home alone because who has time and money for that!). And let's not forget those hormonal imbalances. Spiritual warriors claim prayer, yoga, and meditation are the one and only answer, and let's not forget the Bible. Most depressed people just need more Bible in their life, those years of famine and war really liven things up. Meanwhile my husband has Lyme disease which has led us to a slew of research where we learned anxiety and depresssion are key symptoms and often misdiagnosed.

What's that you say? Oh yea, that's why all those holistic, natural, or hippy dippy modalities don't work. They are all an expensive crap shoot. I need modern western medicine. Guess what... Counseling and psychiatrists are expensive. A thousand dollar deductible means that much is straight out of our pocket to start. Damn me for being so healthy we never meet out deductible. 

But wait there's more, our insurance offers 6-free counseling sessions. I called and qualified for those. I was told I'd hear from a therapist in 48 hours to schedule an appointment... two weeks ago. 
Meanwhile how do you choose a therapist to whom you will bare your soul ans entrust your mental health? Eeenie meeenie miney mo on the insurance website. If that doesn't work out, well then go pay another $150 out of pocket to try someone else. Not to mention that getting the energy and gumption up to do each of these things is enough to put you over the edge all by themselves. But, you must do them over and over again until someone can freaking help you. 
Oh but there are drugs. Drugs fix everything. Except the miracle drug is as hard as the perfect therapist to find a good match with and along the way you get to screw with your nervous and immune systems all while experiencing really great side effects like weight gain, low libido, heart palpitations, headaches, nausea, fatigue or more! Each drug claims to be the miracle cure in the same way all those natural methods do, and they are both crazy expensive exhausting, confusing, and depressing routes to explore.

Source: via Stacy on Pinterest

I know many of these approaches have merit and that it is all a very personal journey. For everything I mentioned I think I can tell a story of a person it saved and a person it could have destroyed whether by action or inaction. I know I have to figure my own way out, but battling mental illness requires more work and tenacity than many healthy people I know have. But I'm expected to do it between sobbing, raging, and forcing myself to get out of bed.

Well for tonight, I am putting away twitter and the blogs, Dr. Google and Blue Cross Blue Shield. I'm retiring the phone with all the possible doctors names programmed in and hiding the fish oil and progesterone cream. Tonight, I give up. But tomorrow morning, I'm lucky enough to wake up and try this again... a la Groundhog Day. I can only hope one of these days I might figure out something to change the cycle.