Losing Myself and My Joy

I’ve been off the grid lately. To be honest, I’ve felt some blues the past few months. I haven’t been sleeping well and have been stressed and lonely thanks to a variety of things, including Josh having to work pretty much seven days/week up to 15 hours/day. That is no fun for anyone. A combination of factors that leads me not wanting to blog at all. After all who wants to read complaints?

Over the past several weeks I’ve taken a few steps to help myself feel like myself again, including getting rid of my Mirena. Did you know that side effects include weight gain, depression, acne, and ovarian cysts, among others? That might explain this solid 10 lbs that I cannot explain how I gained and cannot lose no matter what I do. Which has done nothing for my self confidence. It may also help explain these blues. Lucky me, I also got a tennis ball sized ovarian cyst that ruptured a few weeks ago. I apparently have a really high pain tolerance because I just thought my IUD had moved. Not so much. Side note: DO NOT run a half marathon a week after your cyst ruptures. It’s a horrible idea. More on that later.

I also saw my family doctor who prescribed me something to help me sleep. Some nights I wasn’t falling asleep until 2-3 am. Other nights, I’d fall asleep but wake up around 1 am and not be able to go back to sleep for hours. I had forgotten what a good night’s sleep was. Now I’m finally sleeping well again. I wake up and I’m a better mom. In a better mood and have more energy, not to mention more patience.

All of these emotional and physical things have definitely started to effect my running. Even before Boston, I started feeling like running is a job. It’s something I have to do, not something I want to do. There is no joy for me in it right now and hasn’t been in at least six months. My training for Boston was really hard. I didn’t want to do it. I had worked so hard to get there and then, I just struggled.

I have all these thoughts and concerns going through my head as I put off runs as long as I can before I make myself trudge out the door. I have to continue racing. I have to continue doing speed work here and there. I have to maintain my reputation as a ‘fast’ runner within our running group or among my loved ones. What will happen if I stop running? Will I ever be able to regain my speed again? Have I peaked? Will I have a great race again?

I don’t have the answers to these questions and I am sick of them causing anxiety. I don’t know if I will ever set another marathon PR. If I don’t, is it really that big of a deal? Who even cares but me? For now I’m trying to take care of me, outside of running. Getting sleep, spending time with friends and family and trying to take back my joy.

 

On Raising Good People

I made the decision a few years ago to stop blogging about my kids. While it was awesome blog fodder, I became more conscientious of sharing too much about them with the world, both for the sake of their privacy, but also safety. While I may share a story here and there, they are few and far between.

My decision was also because I frankly have no idea what I’m doing. I have days when I feel like I’m killing it and days when I feel like I’m an utter failure. Luckily most days I figure it I’m worrying about being a good mom, I’m probably doing just fine. I’m not an expert and I won’t really know if I’ve screwed up the kids for years to come. Today I’m just sharing a snippet because I think that compassion and empathy are lacking a bit lately.

Enough rambling and back to the point of this post, trying to raise good little humans. Behind the scenes at our house, we’ve had so much going on. The kids are growing and developing into quite their own little people. They have very different temperaments and personalities. I can see it in everything from how they wake up in the morning to how to play with each other and respond to trying situations, like sharing or having a kid take something away. What they do share, is love. A deep, unrelenting love, for each other and our family. They are quick with a hug or kiss and tell each other, and us, I love you at least 20 times/day. It brings me so much joy.

While it’s seems fairly easy to show love, caring and compassion to your family members, it’s not as easy to help kids understand how to show this to others. How to show them what it means to be empathetic and compassionate. That is something Josh and I are working on and little by little I’m seeing evidence of them grasping it. For example, last week Ella had her 100th day of school. She proudly brought home a paper entitled “If I had $100, I would…” Her answer, she’d by stuff for kids who were poor. While maybe the wording wasn’t ideal, her heart, her big heart was in the right place. I was floored (and so proud!) that at five years old, given the opportunity to say what she would do with $100, she chose to do something for others. Others that are less fortunate than herself.

Anderson is still young to be grasping empathy and compassion, but he’s starting to get it. He can point out emotions and often when we read books, he will say they feel sad or lonely. When I ask him what he thinks could be done to help them feel better, he is full of suggestions from giving them a hug, to helping them find a new toy or friend. When one of us is feeling down, he wants to help make it better. I said the other day how lucky they were to have so many toys to play with and a nice house to live in, and he said yes, because not everyone gets the same as we do.

In a world of mine and theirs, us vs. them, the haves and the have-nots, I just want my kids to be good people. I want them to care for each other, care for others. I want them to treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, political affiliation, etc. We are all different and that is what makes us beautiful and valuable. I want them to be generous with their time, money and give to those that need a helping hand when they can. You never know when you may be the one who needs help.

Here a few a things we’re doing to try to help them learn this:

  1. Read books, lots of books. We’re reading everything from the story of Ruby Bridges to books on how to be identify different emotions, and everything in between. If you’re lost for ideas, there are tons of websites out there with recommendations for any value you’re trying to teach.
  2. Volunteer. We’ve packed food at Feed My Starving Children, cleaned out toys to take to Goodwill, bought groceries for families in need, and of course, they see what we’re doing for Support the Girls.
  3. Talk about what it means to be kind, generous, compassionate and empathetic. Any situation can be a learning experience from Ella having trouble with a kid at school to why there is a person holding a sign asking for money by the exit ramp.

Now, I am not claiming to be an expert and my kids definitely have a naughty streak. They still fight with each other and talk back from time to time. I’m also far from a perfect parent, is their such a thing? Overall, I think my kids are pretty awesome and we just want to do what we can not to raise kids that think because it’s not happening to them, that it’s not happening at all.

Three Things Thursday {Little Bit of Life}

I don’t know about you, but this time change has caused nothing but problems this week. Grumpy, emotional kids and a husband working late every day, has made for an exceptionally trying week. It hasn’t been all bad though. Here are three things that have made my week.

  1. Ella has been in ice skating lessons since the fall. She has loved it and is super excited to participate in the annual ice skating show next month. Monday we had the pre-show pictures. I still cannot get over this adorable kid.3395_10102678455635423_8306562227290657710_n
  2. Anderson has blossomed into a kid, basically overnight. I swear the minute he turned 2.5 years old, he decided he was ready to really talk. He is now talking and singing up a storm. In music class and in our early childhood class, he is answering questions and singing along loudly. When I laughed the other day and said, who are you? He just looked at me and said, “I’m AJ mommy.” Yes, yes you are.12694889_10102620219116873_3252754204973665080_o
  3. Ella is really into St. Patrick’s Day. I think it’s just because she loves holidays. I put her in charge of helping me decide on things she wants to do to celebrate. First she wanted to make leprechauns which was easy enough. Then she found rainbow cookies on Pinterest. 11313056_10102682218888833_2943611067533248874_oTwo hours later, here we are. I’m never making them again, but both kids were so excited and appreciative. It was worth it.

It’s really the little things that brighten my day and week. Training has also been awesome, so that update to come!

Almost Wordless Wednesday

A while back I decided I wanted to limit how much I put about the kids on my blog. Other than obvious privacy reasons for safety, Ella is going to be starting school and it won’t be long before she and her friends (or pseudo-friends) figure out how to Google each other.

Anyway, I had to share this picture I snapped today. It is moments like these, that make my hard days worth it. It makes me feel like we must be doing something right to have two kids that love each other, and us, this much.

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My heart bursts with love and joy.

Feeling Like Home

It’s hard to believe but we have been Minnesotans for over a year and a half. We’re in the middle of our second winter which has been mild save for two weekends in a row in frigid, sub-zero temperatures. It’s not my favorite time of year here, but a small price to pay for the beautiful spring, summer and fall.

When we packed up the last of our belongings, drove away from our house and said our final see you laters to our friends and family, I had a knot in my stomach. I was excited for us to move on and out of Colorado to see what it would be like, but also terrified. Would we find a new house, would our kids adjust well, would I find a job, how were we going to make new friends, am I cut out to possibly be a stay-at-home mom, will we make it through a Midwest winter? To list a few of my many concerns.

When we arrived to the lush green land of 10,000 lakes (apparently it’s more like 11-12k lakes) a lot of my fears were put at ease. We enjoyed a beautiful summer and found our house. I immediately found an amazing running group and Josh settled into his job. Our friends Peter and Rachel were amazing. We saw them multiple times every week during those first few months. They really helped with the transition for us, even babysitting for me so that I could work when I was still trying to figure out what our new routine would look like.

Instead of going back to work as originally intended, I’ve continued consulting which has allowed me to do all sorts of fun stuff with the kids. Minnesota has an amazing early childhood education program that we’ve taken advantage of and tons of community events and classes for all of us.

I have to say we’ve had a really positive experience with our move. We found a house, our kids have transitioned well and I can’t really lodge any complaints. I love our neighborhood and really Maple Grove in general. There are tons of activities all year round from outdoor music and movies to sledding, tubing and cross-country skiing. It’s no wonder it was the #2 best place to live in 2014.

As for the cons, we absolutely miss our friends and family. We’ve had several visitors to show around our new digs. It’s really nice that we have a finished basement with a guest room and bathroom as well as living space. We don’t all have to be on top of one another now. We are looking forward to more coming…hint hint.

Outside of Peter and Rachel, who are our closest friends here, it has taken a while to make friends. We’ve been working on finding friends for ourselves as well as couple friends with kids our kids’ ages. If you haven’t tried to make friends as an adult, it is totally like dating and we’re on the market. I’ve found that most of the people I meet here are from Minnesota. This means of course that they have family and friends nearby. Breaking into the friend circle can be difficult but not impossible.

Over the past six months, I feel like we’ve made huge strides in the friends department. I have friends I can text or call to go for a run (of course), lament about a frustrating day with the kids or ask to have a movie night, ring in the New Year or chat with during various kids activities. Josh has even gone for drinks and such with some of the husbands.

I never thought I’d say it, but Minnesota is starting to feel like home. There is something to starting over in a new place. It forced me to leave my comfort zone. I’ve been forced to put myself out there to meet people. It has been scary and exciting, nerve-racking and exhilarating. Overall, this has been a good move for us. Do I feel like doing it all over again anytime soon? I think I’ll pass.