Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I'm Gonna Run This Race

Late last April I challenged myself and some friends to run a "Hundred-Mile May" to give my running some pizazz. It worked. It went so well that I kept it up through June and July. August, too, but August just about killed my running partner and me. When you set off on a run at 9:00 at night in order to take advantage of the "cooler" 112-degree temps, you know you're crazy. Or bad-ass. Or something.

September and October got wimpy, so in November I kicked off a "Holiday Streak," inspired by Runner's World magazine, where participants commit to exercise of any sort (running for me) EVERY DAY from Thanksgiving to New Year's. As you can see, I'm a gimmick-y kind of a girl. In December, right in the middle of the "Holiday Streak" gimmick, my friend asked if I'd want to run a half-marathon in April. "SURE!" I said. Another goal to keep me going! But then in January, I got sick - for weeks. And when I finally got better, I remained slothful and many more weeks went by without exercise. I'm happy to say I've been off the couch for a couple weeks now - diligently "pushing play" on my P90X3 DVDs every morning. There's cardio. There's core-strengthening. But I haven't actually run very much, unless you count that downhill less-than-a-mile I did the other night with my running partner. As of that night, I still thought the half-marathon I'd signed up for was in the distant future -- like, maybe 2016. I went home after our mostly-walk and looked up the date for the half. WAY sooner than 2016. In fact, at that point it was less than two weeks away. I promptly decided not to run the race.

The next couple days, I had a near-constant battle going on between two of my personalities. Let's name them to illustrate this. We will call the bad-ass runner girl Electra. And the slovenly lazy-bones is Bertha. Electra and Bertha don't have much good to say to each other. They have nothing in common - more than that - they have a lot of disdain for the other's lifestyle. You should have heard them pick at each other! "Gimme a break!" Bertha would say. "It wasn't that much money to register. You'll never even know you let yourself down. Stay home and have a mocha latte. Who do you think you are, anyway? An athlete? What?"

Then Electra would flex her glutes in her shiny running pants and spit in the corner (told you she was bad-ass) and say, "What's thirteen miles? I've done it before. I can do it again. I laugh at pain, barfing, and fainting!"

I don't know who you side with, but Electra won the argument. Bertha keeps reminding her she could find herself face-down on the asphalt at mile nine, but Electra persists. Here's what she has going for her mentally:

1) She HAS done this before. A few times. And no, the finish was never pretty. Shakiness one time, barfing another. Sore knees. Furious quads. But there's a precedent of survival and accomplishment, even when accompanied by vomit.

2) This woman has given birth four times... at home!...no drugs...to babies weighing more than should be legal. No stitches. No crying. Well, some crying. And more vomiting. Even bleeding! PLUS... the childbirth thing takes WAY longer for Electra than running a half-marathon.

3) There was a momentous mountain experience in Wyoming a couple years back. Electra tackled a hike with about 3,700 feet of elevation gain, miles of steep trail, river crossings, snow fields, and wounded feet. It was... I gotta say it again... bad-ass. And when discussing the hike with her sister-in-law beforehand, Electra remembers hearing her say "I know it will be hard. But I'm not afraid of hard." She made it to the top of Table Mountain and back in 13 hours. This race can't take more than four, tops.

You can bet that I (Electra) - (you can see how having multiple personalities gets blurry) will be nervous standing at the starting line. But I won't be afraid. I guess, when I reflect, I've never been very afraid of difficult things. I may not always like them, or excel at them, and I actually prefer to shine - but there's something to be said for tackling the things we aren't super-duper at. This will be one of those. Let's just hope for no barfing this time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Maybe This is my Lent

I haven't been doing too well. I'm depressed, for sure. I'm eating too much. I want to cry all the time. I'm certain that I'm failing everything.

It's Lent. This is the first year in many that I haven't committed to a sacrifice or penance of some sort. I had a plan, but I haven't kept it.

Somehow yesterday I made it to the church with the kids to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. I looked at Jesus on the cross for a few moments and I acknowledged that although it isn't voluntary, I'm suffering. My emotions, my marriage, homeschooling, my relationship with my kids, some of my friendships, my feelings toward my parents and my in-laws - all have been in the dumps.

I don't have a way out. When I get like this I sit as though at the bottom of a crater and hope and pray for someone to come along and lift me out. No matter what my resolve in a positive moment, I can't ever seem to change these bouts. I just have to wait them out - wait for something to change. And once I'm on the other side, I always get a little foggy about what was wrong in the first place. I'm convinced that if my depression could be studied, it would be revealed that I do it wrong.

I had a chance to tackle the topic today. It was time to renew my prescription for my anti-depressants and all I had to do was tell my doctor that maybe I need something stronger. But this terrifies me. Let's keep in mind it took two and a half decades to finally work up the courage to try medication - now when it seems it may need some adjusting, I don't dare. I'm scared of messing something up and getting worse. So I kept my mouth shut. I said I was doing fine and I smiled convincingly and I got a few more months of this stuff that really doesn't seem to be helping enough.

And now time has passed and I am out of the crater. I exercise and I am new again. Able to deal for another day. I'm glad I wrote this on March 19th so that I don't forget what it was like. But now it's April 3rd and I'm better.

If Kevin goes into politics, his career won't go far with me blogging like this.

This Week With April Fool's Day In It

This week I have a friend in trouble and a friend out of work and a friend feeling trapped and wanting a change and a friend who should get some anxiety meds and a friend who speaks of art and makes me think and a friend I can't listen to because the judging is so loud, and a concert to think about and a dream of a home with trees and twenty-five dollars on my Starbucks card and a baby prayed for and a robin on my lawn every morning and flashbacks to fifth grade and the weird nanny and my tattoo is healing and I want to visit the artist again, even in the barren backyard where I don't fit in and yet I do.

There, I blogged.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

So Not Breezy

Were you a "Friends" fan? I was, to the extent that even today, almost ten years since the show ended, things come up in daily life that remind me of an episode.

Today was one such day. I embarrassed the crap out of myself. Then I tried to make it better but only made it worse. I behaved like Monica, in "The One When No One's Ready." Remember?---"I'm breezy!"

Here, it's less than two minutes long. You should watch it.

In my case, there are no ex-boyfriends involved, thankfully. The story is that Bethanie missed her third-grade class photo today (one of four things I looked forward to her experiencing at public school) due to a doctor appointment and a lack of communication with her teacher. I was irrationally upset. I should have waited to calm down, but I didn't and I wrote a totally ridiculous email to her teacher requesting a make-up photo. Thank God I was nice - no anger leaked into the email, only craziness. The day went on and every time I thought about the email, I cringed. So I did what any totally stupid person would do -- I wrote ANOTHER email. I even referred to myself as "whacko" in that one. And as I tried to sort of apologize for the first email, I was thinking of Monica. I could've closed the apology with "I'm breezy!" But, as you know if you watched the video, "you can't SAY you're breezy... that totally negates the breezy."

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week (or trying to, anyway). To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Everyone Seems to be Doing These List Posts...

...and I cave to peer pressure from time to time. But, to keep it unique, all my list items begin with the letter

What I've Been Doing Today:

Planning Meals

Pinteresting together a "Frozen" birthday party

Putting a LOT of effort into learning about social media and building a website

Pondering whether it's really called "building" a website - probably not


Praying for several friends and their various requests (medical, emotional, spiritual, marital)

Perusing a book about writing and the various ways to make money with it

Poetry! Composing 57 Haiku. Why 57? Because I set strange goals.

Putting off finishing the 771-page novel I've been reading - kinda don't want to be done with it

Pasteurizing milk

Prepping a talk on spending time with God for Rebel Christian Fellowship at UNLV

Plumping up - I've been overeating due to increased stress brought on by all this computer learning


Popping allergy meds like everyone else in Vegas right now

Parenting. With pleasure, pomp, and a whole ton of perplexity.

*Some of these are fictitious to make my life sound more glamorous
**The haiku one is totally true, though - I wish you'd ask me to read some of them to you
***Please don't leave this post without clicking on the Prancercise link and beholding it for yourself
****I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Birding and Small Business and other Latent Loves

I grew up with a dad who would kneel on the ground on a nature walk, beckon me to do the same, and tell me to stare at a certain square foot of earth "because you'll see interesting things if you study closely." Things? I didn't know what things - likely only bugs in that small of an area. Other times, on hikes or even walks in our neighborhood, he would point out flowers, leaves, birds, everything. I was taught to observe, notice, and appreciate.

As an adult, I still enjoy nature immensely. This is probably largely thanks to my dad's influence. I've been on hikes and wondered about the types of trees and plants around me, and the breeds of birds as well, but the wondering never went further until I met a real-live birder. She spends time looking for them and at them, and keeping track of what kinds of birds she has seen. She showed me her bird book and I was hooked. I bought the Peterson Field Guide for myself, got a pair of binoculars for my birthday, and love when I can spend time out searching for birds.

This might sound strange, but birds occupy a similar space in my mind that small business does. For years, I've been intrigued by unique stores and their owners and the spirit it takes to set up a shop or a service. This may have been enhanced by years I spent living in small towns, one of which worked earnestly to prevent large business from encroaching on its idyllic downtown area. Because of my conviction that small businesses are usually excellent places to support, I once convinced my husband to patronize a privately-owned bike shop rather than WalMart in our search for some cycling stuff for our kids. He found it to be a marvelous experience and he has since commented more than once that I was right (!) -- small businesses can often offer expertise and service that bigger places can not.

As with the friend who showed me the bird book, enhancing my interest in birding, the clincher for me with small business was moving to my current neighborhood. We no longer live in a small town, and the large avenue near my house has been called "soulless," (by the husband of my birding friend, by the way) but the small businesses dotting the thoroughfare add character. (Now if we could get some art to pervade the area, it would be even better. But that's another topic.) I've paid attention to a bunch of these businesses: cafes, home decor places, a toy shop, a karate studio, a theater company, a bakery, an indoor park for kids... the list goes on and on. With birding, I bought a book and binocs. With small business, I find myself craving more contact with owners and entrepreneurs -- I'm reading articles and books and looking into starting something of my own. I doubt it will have much to do with birding, sadly - because it would be cool to merge these once-latent loves. And I can't help but wonder what the rest of this decade holds for me in light of what I've uncovered so far in the way of new pursuits.

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Interview

I haven't had a job interview since the year 2000. Between then and now I've spent my time in a flurry of childbirth, out-of-state moves, raising children, homeschooling, church-ministry leading, every-semester-considering whether to go back to school for a Master's degree, and a thousand people asking "Will you ever go back to work?"

Asking whether I'll go back to work is a funny question for the likes of me. I'm not sure I ever worked in the first place. I was employed by a college ministry, which meant I got to organize events, write talks, hang out in college dorms, walk around campus with students conversing about life and God, stay up late and sleep in. I can't go back to that; no one lets me sleep in anymore.

But I get the gist of the question -- will I help finance my kids' college? And, more immediately, will I ever get to buy myself a pair of shoes without breaking the budget? My answer has always been no. I dream of college scholarships for the kids, and every now and then put a pair of boots or flip-flops on the credit card, but I've been unable to imagine filling out a job application or reporting to a boss. Frankly, when I've been in the violent convulsions of motherhood, with tears in my eyes and someone else's poop on my hands - and someone asks if I'll ever "go back" to work I want to shake them. Vigorously.

Somehow, some way, the violent convulsions of mothering young children have given way to sporadic spasms. Suddenly (seemingly overnight), things are easier. All four children pee without my involvement. They can fill their own plates in a buffet line at a friend's potluck. And best of all - by far - except in rare circumstances, they SLEEP. THROUGH. THE. NIGHT. So, veeeeerrrrry gradually, I've come to realize that my life has changed. With more time, more sleep, a new laptop for Christmas, and lots of encouragement and inspiration from my hubby and friends - I have been able to get back to one of the things I love to do but haven't had time for in years: writing.

I've been in love with writing since third grade, when Mrs. Navarro made us write stories with our spelling words and I was in heaven as I completed that assignment every week. Now my goal is to write every day. Problem is, I don't know where I'm going with it. People ask what my passion is: fiction? non-fiction? short stories? poetry? My answer is yes. All of it. But I haven't been able to really produce more than irregular blog posts and a helluva lot of Facebook posts.

This leads me to tell you about the cute little business around the corner from my house. I love it. I love every product on its shelves. I like the owners. And I've noticed they have a Facebook page but don't really utilize it. So, after mustering my courage and practicing my pitch for a short five months or so - I walked in and asked if they might be interested in letting me do publicity work on various social networking sites for them- for free! (there goes my new shoe budget, and the college fund) - because I love to write, love their business, and need experience. (Maybe we should call it an internship so I'll feel better about working pro bono.) I handed one of the owners my "resume", which really only consists of my name, phone number, and references, but lacks the vital "job experience" portion. And I presented a list of my ideas to promote their store online. He went for it! And then he asked if I would come back for an interview to talk to him and his wife at the same time and discuss a plan.

I was elated. In my tendency to, shall we say, "overstate" things, it took a lot of willpower not to shout to the world that I had just become a real writer! with a job! promoting small business and saving the world!

My prep for the interview was mainly research. I pored over numerous articles about marketing and about the myriad of social networking sites and what they are good for and not good for. I contacted two friends who own their own businesses and asked a bunch of questions. And then I spent time composing some "sample" Facebook posts with photos I took on a quick trip back to the store.

When the interview date and time rolled around, I put on my professional, but not business-suit-professional clothes and zipped in my minivan over to the store. I was excited, for sure. I had to have a little reality check talk with myself: "Teri. Remember this isn't a corporate job. You're new. You've got something, but really only have a teeny idea what you're doing. Take it easy."

Things didn't go as marvelously as I pictured. Initially, they asked me to take on a role completely different from what I had suggested. It took a few minutes of explanation, with my heart in my gut, to convey what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do. And when I handed them my "sample" posts with photos, they glanced at one of the three, smiled and handed them back. By the end of the 40-minute meeting, I had the "job." They were interested in all I proposed. And it was ideal for my abilities and time allowance. But, strangely, I walked out of the store with a huge weight on my heart and melancholy around me like a gray block wall.

I can't tell you now, even days later, why I was upset. I fully appreciated that I had just been given authority to take over "marketing" for a business I love, by people I like, with no expectations because anything I come up with is an improvement over what they are doing, which is nothing. But when I had the chance at the end of the day to process the experience with my husband, the main problem became clear. I had put effort into those darn sample posts - my first "professional" creative writing - and my client didn't really care. My husband is an engineering consultant and he told me how much time and effort goes into proposals they write. But the client only wants the bottom line. Yet they still have to write the proposal. Same with me - I couldn't have gone in empty-handed - I had to know I had something and even that silly effort of handing them the papers and having them handed back was a necessary part of the interview. My writer-self couldn't help but think of William Faulkner's quote, "In writing, you must kill all your darlings." In this case, my darlings were those samples, not edited out in this case - just ignored.

And so my story ends. And begins. I had an interview. I got the job. I'm as thrilled as I can be. We will see how this work fits with the work I'm already doing - mothering, being married, occasionally vacuuming. I must admit I'm a little starry-eyed. The opportunity presented itself so gradually and gently it all seems too good to be true. I am aware that I have a tremendous amount to learn. Additionally, I have the prospect of starting my own business to consider. I don't know what the future holds, but one thing is now behind me: that first interview.

I’m writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.