Sunday, November 25, 2012

Small steps toward loving the imperfect me...Part 1

It all started with a 20 minute video posted by a friend on Facebook yesterday morning. Brene Brown's TED speech on The Power of Vulnerability...


 As I was listening to her speak about how we try to be perfect, perfect our children, numb our vulnerability with "beer and a banana nut muffin", see vulnerability as weakness, are afraid to be who we are and be really seen and in turn sacrifice joy and belonging I thought she was talking directly to me. It really made me think about myself, my own life and the life I was creating for my children. So I decided to write a series of blog posts as I dig deeper into these thoughts and Brene Browns work including her book The Gifts of Imperfection that I downloaded last night on Kindle.

"Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do" -Brene Brown


I think this is a good place to start....because it is a daily struggle for me to accept that my imperfect self is enough for anyone including myself.  As a wife I wonder why I cannot be a better cook, better housekeeper, or a better wife who takes care of her husband.  As a parent I wonder why I cannot be patient 110% of the time, nurture them and guide them instead of hiding behind the bathroom door as they all fight with one another.  As a person I wonder why I judge, why I cannot always empathize, why I am short tempered and illogical at times.  All of these are my imperfections the things that make me feel like I am unworthy of joy and belonging.  But here is the thing....the people in my life that have seen me the real me are the ones that bring the joy.  My husband, my kids, my close family and friends. I think Brene Brown was on to something, I do not have to think about who I am around these people, I just am, and they love me anyways!

Will you join me over the next week every time that little voice inside your head starts yammering on about how you could be better, skinnier, faster, smarter tell it to quiet and simply remind yourself "I am enough"?

Will you remember every time you compare yourself to a friend, fellow parent, fellow coworker etc that as a society we only share our highlight reels?  People aren't openly sharing struggles, it makes us vulnerable and appear weak...

(**As I am about to hit send my stomach is in knots, the feeling if vulnerability...I really wish I could numb the feeling with beer and banana nut muffins....)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! #turkeytrot, #running, #stoneycreek, #smallstepsseriouschaffing

via Instagram

Happy Thanksgiving!

On Thanksgiving I do not do the local Turkey Trot. I have done it once a few years back and the experience was not something I ever had to do again. So today I slept in and headed to our local Metro Park for a long slow distance run of 10 miles, my first run over 7 miles since the Detroit Free Press 1/2. It's always nice to meet up with my some extended family for our own little Turkey Trot. The first 6 miles were spent chatting with my sister in law while the last 4 I let my mind wander to all memories of the last year, the tears and joy, all that has changed, and all that has stayed the same. There is something refreshing about a run where my mind is not focused on pace or even distance because of the marked path.

I realized sometimes it is so easy to focus on all that I want out of life or the material things I often forget all that we (as a family) have to be thankful for.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shoe Saga

To call my shoe troubles a saga is a bit dramatic which I tend to be according to my husband.  After Theodore was born and I started running again I began wearing the minimalist Saucony Kinvara 2 shoe.  I really loved the feel on my foot and felt that the shoe and the Good Form Running seminar at my local New Balance Store helped me modify my stride and decreased my injuries.  In previous years I had been prone to knee pain and plantar fasciitis.  There were times it was painful enough I didn't ever want to run again, especially the plantar fasciitis early in the morning. OUCH!  The new to me mid foot strike seemed to eliminate the problems and I ran pain free/injury free from November 2011 - August 2012.   That is when everything seemed to go down hill and I am not sure if it was the new shoes (Saucony Kinvara 3 which was significantly different in my opinion then the 2's) or the Funniest Home Video worthy spill I took on one of my first runs in the new shoes that resulted in scrapes, sprained ankle and a bruised ego.  The weeks that followed that spill were filled with excruciating hip pain.  Eventually I figured out that certain stretches and yoga poses helped decrease the hip pain but that did not solve the problem.  It was not until I was cleaning off the bottom of my running shoes recently I noticed a significantly different wear pattern on the bottom of my shoes.  It was my left hip giving me the trouble and by looking at the left and right shoe side by side I notice a difference.  Up until this time my previous shoes had always worn pretty similar.

Saucony Kinvara 3 - Approx. milage: 230
Off to Hanson's Running Shop I went and just started trying on shoes until I found ones that fit the most like the Kinvara 2's.  I preferred the extra cushion and the snug feel of that shoe.  I also knew I wanted a 3-4mm heel-toe drop because that was now what I was used to.  I have never worn Brooks shoes before but was pleasantly surprised with the fit and comfort of their new Pure Project PureFlow shoes.  After taking them for a spin on the treadmill in the store I decided to take them home with me.
So far it has only been 18 miles so to soon to tell if new shoes will help but I am sure hoping!

"New" Brooks PureFlow (18 miles so far)
Runners do you always by the same make/model of a shoe? Are you brand loyal or willing to try others to get the perfect fit? 

Celebrating Hug A Runner Day #gohard, #running, #smallstepsseriouschaffing, #hugarunner

via Instagram

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ready for a 5:15 am run! Coffee, breakfast (Honey Stingers waffle), gear all laid out #running, #keurig, #brooks, #garmin, #brightandearly, #smallstepsseriouschaffing

via Instagram

Living out of laundry baskets...

Every week I start Monday morning off with all the laundry hung in the closets, folded neatly in drawers and baskets empty.  My goal for the week is to stay on top of the laundry, that means every morning throwing in the dirty clothes and every night put away the newly laundered clothes.  I try except that if something interrupts the schedule/routine I fall behind.  In order for this goal to be accomplished the following things need to happen:

1) No one wets the bed/Soils their sheets (normally Alvin)
2) No one soils their pants throughout the day (normally Simon)
3) We do not eat anything that can stain or make a child sticky (syrup, jelly, soup, juice, yogurt, bananas etc.)
4) We do not play in the sand/mud/snow/rain

All of the above immediately result in another load of laundry for the day throwing off the routine, because all of the above need to be washed promptly to avoid staining.

*Our dryer no longer shuts off so remembering that I put clothes in there is also helpful!

By the end of the week, countless outfits for each of the 3 kids later, the sheets changed on all of the beds and washed at least 3 times, I end up with 8 loads of clean laundry stacked by the dryer and we just search for the clean clothes we need.  (Mike is not a fan of this game, I pretend I am on an episode of Extreme Double Dare looking for that one sock in all those baskets before the timer goes off)
Empty laundry baskets make my heart smile

What works for you? I have found sorting clothes by child rather then darks/whites helps speed up the process.  What helpful hints/tricks do you use to make sure laundry is always done/put away?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How I became a "runner"...

I was not always a runner.  I was an athlete all through my school years and stayed "active" enough into my 20's. (and when I say "active" enough I mean went to the gym enough that I could still over indulge in food and booze and look decent in clothes)  I did not understand runners, thought they were a bit off (I apologize for judging and to my friends who still think I am a "bit off" because I am a runner I forgive you).

In 2004 I trained for my 1st marathon through Team in Training.  I knew a young girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia and after the diagnosis felt helpless.  I signed up to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by training and running the Bayshore Marathon.  This was an amazing experience.  Team in Training provided coaches along with regular weekly long runs for support through the entire training process.  I really was not a fan of the weekly training, and the weekend long runs were only made tolerable by a couple of really awesome running partners.  In 2004 I completed my 1st half marathon (Martian 1/2 Time of 2:28:09) and went on to complete the 26.2 miles of the Bayshore Marathon in 5 hours 31 minutes and 27 seconds.

I did a few 5k's, 10ks, and even the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon after that, yet I did not see myself as a runner.  I did not long to lace up my running shoes and hit the road instead I reluctantly headed out a few times a week.

After Simon was born in 2007  I wanted desperately to get back into some sort of shape, but with nursing it seemed difficult to make the 15 minute drive to the gym, workout for 30-60 minutes and drive home.  Running became an option because I would head out the front door as soon as Mike walked in and be back in 30-40 minutes.  My little nursling did not even notice I was missing.  I "trained" with the Couch to 5K and signed up for the Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon again.  My goal was to finish since it was only 4 months after he was born.  I trained a bit with another mom, toed the line completely unprepared because I was not consistent with my training and walked/ran the 1/2, completing the 13.1 miles in 3:16:58.

The cycle of running because I should, not because I wanted to continued until I became pregnant with Alvin in 2009.  After his birth I started Couch to 5K again and this time I was determined to stick with it!  Baby weight was tough to get rid of and what I call toddler weight* was even harder.  Things were going well, I was hitting the treadmill at the gym and even signed up for the Bayshore 1/2 Marathon to give me a goal race.  To our surprise we found out we were expecting Theodore even though I was only 5 month postpartum.  YIKES!  I continued to "run" as best I could after getting the clearance and actually completed Bayshore 26 weeks pregnant.  It was a long slow race but I did it!  I stayed active for the rest of the pregnancy after that and 6 weeks after Theodore was born in 2011 I started Couch to 5K for the 3rd time in 5 years.  Now it was not about anything but getting back into shape and redeeming myself at Bayshore.  In 2011 I finished DEAD LAST in my age group!  Being a competitive person this finish was pretty damaging to my ego.  I know I will never win a race, and chances are I will never finish first in my age group but last was tough to swallow.

Something happened while training for the 2012 Bayshore Half Marathon...I started to enjoy running. GASP!  I began to look forward to the me time, the quiet time (with 3 boys at home this was rare), the 30-60 minutes a day to reflect, to problem solve, to process memories and events.  Running was not something that I felt came naturally to me it was physically challenging but also mentally.  So far in 2012 I have ran 567 miles (last winter since I still did not consider myself a runner I spent time on the elliptical and at the gym), completed 4 half marathons (I'll recap 2012 races in another post), 1 5K and grown as a person, mother and runner.  When I see my running clothes hanging on the line to dry  it reminds me of the previous run, the thoughts and feelings I had when I was out there.  When I see my running shoes by the front door it reminds me of my potential as a runner, person, mother, and wife when hard work, determination, consistency and most of all self confidence surface.  What is possible when I let go of my fears and doubts.

I now consider myself a runner.  Let me rephrase that: I AM A RUNNER!

*Toddler Weight: The weight gained when a parent finishes the rest of the toddlers meal so it doesn't go to waste or the need to snack every time the toddler snacks.

Meet the Family

My other and sometimes better half Mike and I raise our 3 spirited boys the best way that we know how.  They are a handful to say the least and keep us on our toes.  Even with the daily hiccups we experience, our problems are pretty trivial compared to what many face in their lifetime.  We love each other unconditionally and are doing the best we can to live life fully.  We attempt to embrace our daily life...the small things that will ultimately become the biggest memories.  The family dinners, reading books to the boys, blanket and pillow forts etc.  Without anymore ramblings please allow me to introduce our little pride and joys:

Simon*: Age 5
Simon is my little scientist, mathematician and overall explorer of how things work.  He is sweet & sensitive, charismatic, cautious, analytical, perceptive, selective, assertive and persistent.  

Alvin*: Age 2
Alvin is intense, curious, creative, dramatic, energetic, and opinionated.  He was vocal from the time he was born and quickly turned those colic cries into an ever expanding vocabulary that he uses to express his thoughts and emotions.

Theodore*: Age 1
The jury is still out on our last little surprise blessing Theodore.  So far he seems to be just as spirited as his older brothers.  Recently he has been asserting himself a bit more and seems to be selective, curious, and dramatic.

(*For their safety on the world wide "interwebs" their real names will not be used and I ask any family and friends avoid their names in comments as well.  Thank you for your cooperation.)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Behind the name...and the blog

First the name...
Small steps:
The first part of the title not only represents my the small steps of my young boys (3 "high energy" boys all under 5), but also the small steps we all take in life.  It is very rare that any goal is set and reached with one giant leap, it is a series of small steps that gets us to that final destination.  There are also many times in life that those small steps and that journey become more inspirational, influential and overall more important than our final destination.

Serious chaffing:
This represents the stuff no one seems to talk about or just happen to leave out when they are telling you "what to expect".  When I started running I pictured myself in a cute outfit just jogging down the street...UM NO! I'm a hot mess with chaffing and runner's trots.   Motherhood as well...everyone talked about the wonderful hugs, kisses, story times and memories yet they left out the constant battles over the color of a breakfast dish, the fact that until all children in the house are over the age of 5 you will not use the bathroom alone or with the door closed because the children can get into trouble faster then MacGyver can get out of a sticky situation and they are just as crafty, or the fact that some days survival (till bedtime or the return home of a spouse from work) becomes the main objective.

The blog...
It is just a way to share a little bit of my reality with the world.  Expect some humor, stories about my life as a mother and of my kids and the crazy stuff they do.  I also plan to document my journey to a Boston Qualifying time and to complete an Ironman...I promise I won't sugar coat the journeys so everything is rainbows and unicorns.