Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Saying Goodbye

One of my 40 day goals is:

Explore what drives me. Live authentically in that space. Blog about it.

I've been thinking about this for a while and considering how it impacts the direction of this blog. Rock House Happenings has served as a wonderful starting point. It became a safe place. Its evolution was a little sporadic as I struggled with finding my voice. I couldn't quite find a comfortable place, even two or more years after I started. So sometimes, most times, it sat, stagnant. And so did I.

With this new year, with a renewed sense of purpose and an intrinsic pull to grow, I began to write again. This time with no agenda other than seeing where it would lead. This time with a focus fully on me, my struggles, my hopes. Casting away the urge to fit in somewhere in the blog world, casting away the misguided drive to be perfect, I simply wrote about what was coming up for me. Funny how when you stop trying to fit in somewhere, anywhere, you naturally find exactly where you should be.

Rock House Happenings will stay live; I affectionately read past posts and see the struggle. But I also see a writer. I see a mother. I see a strong woman who is finding her voice, her truth.

That truth is pushing me to move on to a different space. A space that will open up new opportunities to grow, to connect, to learn.

Find me (and maybe a little of you?) at Love Each Step. My new home in the blog world. My new space to grow and learn.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Live Like You're One

Shortly after a frustrated meltdown-- back at it!
I was watching Rowan play this morning, and it hit me just how much I can learn from her. She is always present. Her entire being exists in the moment. I know that isn't by choice- it is just how it is- but I see that I can follow her lead in many things.

I've come up with my new list of 40 day goals (check out the new tab!), and I realized this morning that one year olds live very unapologetically. Not just to us poor parents, but more importantly to themselves. There is none of the defeating self-talk that pummeled me into my foul mood on Friday. There is no second guessing choices made. She might make a mistake, she might get overwhelmed and frustrated, she might fall, but she moves on almost immediately. None of that defines who she is in any way.

I know it's easy to look at an unknowing one year old and see that wisdom when she knows no other way. But what if? What if we could live like that, even for a brief time each day? What if after we fall, after we make a choice, for better or worse, we simply move on? It may help us the next time, or we may forget about it completely. But the bottom line is it does not define who we are.

This is what my number one goal is about. No more apologies to myself for what I've done or haven't done. No more allowing those things to define me and my present experience.

I've recently been harassing myself for not blogging consistently over the last few years- for struggling to find my true voice, for feeling defeated and overwhelmed. I'm finished apologizing to myself for that. It is what it is. And if I truly believe that all is in perfect order, and I do, I have to stop allowing that to define my current experience. It's amazing how things shift when you drop the old baggage. Already, new experiences are waiting to be had! I'm excited for a fresh start.

There are so many other apologies I'm dropping... I'm giving myself permission to let them go!

For not running throughout my pregnancy...
For not feeling confident enough to live my truth consistently...
For feeling like I wasn't always patient enough, present enough with the boys when I was a single mom...

I could make a long list, but the details aren't important. The shift is what is what is important. No more apologies!

What can we learn from watching our children?

Love each step.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Date Night

Today we finally, finally had a date night! In the thirteen months since Rowan has been in our lives, we have only had about four times where we've been out alone, and this is only the second time we've gone somewhere just for us! We definitely needed this time together. Even though it was only two hours, the result of reconnecting is amazing. We decided to go back to Waterman's because that's where we had our awesome wedding reception three years ago.
I don't think we realized how much we needed some alone time until we were walking along the beach after dinner. It is so important to find time to reconnect, and after Jon went through a statistical analysis of hours in the month versus the time you are actually on a date (I tuned out at this point), we have made a commitment to work harder at setting up date nights more consistently. It feeds our relationship. It gives us a taste of what we were before Rowan. Sometimes in the business of family and work, that part of who we were together gets lost. In the blur that has been the past thirteen months since Rowan has been born, we have ended up neglecting us. Luckily, we have a strong foundation; we can handle the stress together as a couple, but we also need these moments to be present with just each other. To recharge!

It was such a great afternoon at the beach!

I know it probably drives Jon crazy, but I always reminisce about our first months together. Those months are probably some of the best in my memory-- they were fateful; I felt it from the very beginning. It may sound cheesy, but I just knew we were meant to be. And since we are coming up on our dating anniversary, it's especially something that is on my mind. My favorite is teasing him about the kiss and run incident on our third date at Mahi Mah's! I won't totally rat him out about that, though. We still don't agree on the specifics, but I know I'm right.

The site of the kiss and run incident.

I'm so glad I'm walking this journey of life, of parenthood, of laughter, of love with the best guy in the world for me. He grounds me, supports me, and makes me laugh. I couldn't ask for much more.

Sandy feet, ready for the journey!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Letting Everything Be

The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea. (From Tiny Devotions Facebook page.) 
Yes! I learned this yesterday and today!

Yesterday I got myself into a funk. It started brewing in the early afternoon. By evening, it was a full blown bad mood that was accompanied by crankiness. Poor Jon. I get like this every so often. I start over thinking things. Then I get overwhelmed. Then I get frustrated and feel like I have failed. Then I should really sequester myself in a room all alone because I'm not fit for company!! And really there isn't a source of all of this. It takes on a life of its own, and I can't even say what is "wrong."

I so need to remember this!
Luckily (for us both!), Jon had a sushi date with a buddy, so I had time to stew alone after I put Rowan to bed. While I was rocking her, I sniffled and cried a little. Feeling defeated about everything? Yes. But at the same time not even really knowing what. I just felt off. Off balance. Out of focus. Intuitively, I must have known what would help because as I was rocking Rowan, I decided I would do a yoga video. I haven't done much yoga, especially recently, but I know how great it is. Each time I've made time for it, I haven't regretted it. Last night was no exception. I chose a 20 minute, release the tension video that is free on the lululemon website. The 20 minutes flew by, and at the end of the practice, I was much more relaxed, and I felt much more centered. I'm looking forward to making this a consistent part of my week!

I also felt inspired. I haven't done much meditation in recent memory, either. I used to frequently. I've let things fall away over the last few years, thinking I didn't need them or wasn't interested anymore. I allowed things to fall away, I think, because I wasn't confident enough to trust my intuition, my judgment, my choices. I'm working on changing that. So I found my favorite guided meditation by Adyashanti. What I like about him and his meditations is that they are not so bound by the idea that your mind has to be empty, blank. Because I know that I always used to stress that I couldn't do that good enough. I'd always struggle. Then I'd feel like a failure. And then get frustrated. Sound familiar?

This particular meditation focused on letting everything be as it is. A perfect reminder for where I found myself yesterday evening! I was allowing myself and my entire mood and experience be shaded by what I felt like I should have done about random things in the past. Or how I wished things could have been. I wasn't trusting. I wasn't allowing everything to be as it is. I wasn't being present. At all. By shifting my focus back to the present and by releasing control, I could relax. I could find my balance again. I found a peace after thirty minutes of quiet meditation.

Just one of the many great views at First Landing.
One run, I'll remember to bring my camera!
The final cure for my mood was an eight mile run this morning at First Landing. It was much better than last week's run, but it still took a good 4 miles to really get comfortable. Why is it always like that?! The weather was perfect today. Cool temps, no sun, no wind. The trails were very quiet for such a perfect running day, and my legs and breathing felt great. I'm learning to listen to my body, so when my knee started hurting around miles 3 and 5, I stopped to stretch. I focused on Adyashanti's meditation, and tried to let everything be. I have to get out of my head during runs, so I really tried to take in the scenery and the great nature in the park. The mental game of running is harder for me than the physical game. I know that I will be battling myself more on June 2 during the half than anything else. I need to practice letting everything be as it is, so I can get out of my own way. I know my body is strong. I know that I'm training to ensure that it will stay strong through 13.1 miles.

Yoga. Letting everything be as it is. Running by the sea. Give it a try if you find yourself in a negative space or a space of self-doubt. It so easily allowed what I was struggling with to begin to fall away. It is one more way I work on being present.

Nap post run. I was too tired to get out of the rocking chair and put her in her bed, so we just snuggled!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Being Mom, Take Two

Your eyes are glassy, blinking slowly as you nurse. I sit here, watching you and run my fingers through your wispy, brown hair. It's growing; I stroke the new layer that clings close to your forehead, and with each stroke, your eyelids briefly close. Your hand rests on my chest: a connecting touch, a point of shared energy. It's midday, and you haven't napped at all. Your gums are stressed, feeling the push of three teeth trying to make their way through. I've tried to put you in bed once, you immediately noticed the change in position, and you cried. So here we are again, in our rocking chair, our favorite spot.

I think back on all of the times I've rocked and rocked and rocked. I think about the sleepless nights, long days. I see me, a much younger, much more impatient mother, feeling frustrated. Being mom, a second time, has brought so many changes. Sure there are the simple lessons learned-- don't overheat the baby food, don't put the Q-tip in the ear too far, a baby doesn't really need all of the items you think they do...

But beyond that, I feel like I've learned or am learning about what is truly important. About time. About connecting. About patience (most of the time... This will always be a challenge!). About seeing their needs and meeting them there, rather than being attached to my agenda and desires. I'm content to sit in this rocking chair for two hours when she is teething and just needs to feel secure while she sleeps. I'm seeing how parenting the boys is changing as they grow. How they need me in a slightly different way than they have before.

I'm accepting myself, my mothering right where it is. I trust that I am always learning, and I am practicing being open to what comes my way. I am learning that I do not need to aspire to perfection- that will always set myself up for failure! Instead, I can aspire to be the best mom that I can be, right here, right now, recognizing and being open to what my children need.

I think back to when the boys were small, and I sometimes feel like I failed them somehow. I question myself- was I too impatient, too frustrated, too selfish? Did I give them what they needed? Did I connect with them enough? Did I wish away time?

But the bottom line is I did the best I could for where I was. They are happy and healthy boys. They are well-adjusted. They are awesome kids, and I'm proud of how they are growing up.

I'm proud of how I'm growing up, too. I'm working on my next set of 40 day goals, and I'm pretty sure one is going to focus on no more apologies! At least not for things that I can't change about myself and the past. I want to keep focusing on being present and also living authentically. Finding out more about who I am and what drives me and then setting intentions to live that truth. And not worrying about being judged (mostly being judged by myself!) I think it will be a great process!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Three Years

Happy anniversary to me and Hubby!! How can it be that it was three years ago that I married my best friend? A cliche? Yes, and one I scoffed at for years, but I'm lucky enough to see that it can be true.

I am so very grateful for second chances. After emerging from my first marriage a shell, confused and broken-spirited, I swore I'd never remarry. I'd lost all sense of what was normal in a relationship. All I knew was control, ridicule, anger, resentment. I realized I had to leave at the point when I found myself walking in the rain along the beach, cold to the bone, not knowing where to go and not wanting to go home. At that moment, I knew if I didn't leave, I'd slowly die inside.

Jon has renewed my belief in love, in goodness. He spoils me. Not in an overindulgent way, but in how he takes care of me: a selfless and loving devotion that I was not accustomed to. He allows me the freedom to be me, encourages me to find the best parts of myself; he supports me and pushes me to meet my goals.

We are a team, a partnership. We don't keep score; we work together to care for our children, our home, our relationship. We focus on communication and always try to maintain a loving connection. Do we argue and disagree? We do sometimes, but we always work together to resolve it.

This is what marriage should be. This is what I didn't believe existed. Today especially, I'm so very grateful for my life. For knowing a real love that does not judge, for seeing a softness, a tenderness in the eyes of my husband. For trusting in the longevity of this relationship and the journey we are on.

Today, with the help of our sweet girl, we celebrate the day of our very happy union!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The sunshine and warm spring weather finally returned today! Rowan and I celebrated by going to the park for the first time in a week.

I watched her wander around, marveling at how much she has changed. She walks effortlessly, as if she's always known how. She is starting to say words, and once you show her something, she remembers what it is and will point to it when you ask her where it is. She amazes me, day after day.

And she is simply sunshine, my sunshine. Her happy personality and cheerful disposition fill my days. She loves being ornery, and her satisfying giggle melts my heart. Her smile each morning affirms my decision to resign mid-year. I've grown with her over the past two months, each day learning how to be a better mom.

Our neighbors stop us on our walks, gushing over how adorable she is. They wonder how it is that she's grown so fast already. The ones with adult children, eyes filled with nostalgia, warn us how quickly it goes. I understand this too well. I see pictures of my boys, and that painful longing, the guttural ache for time gone by washes over me. So I try to immerse myself in each stage, in each day, neither longing for the next nor staying absorbed in the past. I see the light, the sunshine each of them brings to my days, and it warms me, reminds me that life is good.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Noise and Learning to Surrender

Yesterday we met most of Hubby's family at Red Robin to celebrate birthdays. Because of the deluge of rain, the restaurant was fairly empty. Empty did not equal quiet. The restaurant had an energy about it; it reverberated across the empty space. The music felt a touch too loud, the table set up a bit too close.

I know myself enough to understand that this was going to be challenging. I'm a quiet person by nature; my body, my self is sensitive to stress and noise. I have to stay very aware of how I'm feeling during moments like this. Otherwise, I easily go into meltdown mode.

Rowan internalized this energy. We can usually go into restaurants with her, and she is very happy, very content to sit with us. Instead, she was fretful, fussy, and unable to sit still. She didn't quite know what she wanted. She was too distracted to nurse. Too overstimulated to play.

The boys felt the energy, too. They were bickering, getting frustrated at the crossword puzzle, kicking each other under the table.

As we were on our way home, Rowan quietly looked out the window. Once we were in the house, she played happily. There was no glimpse of the fretful baby from the restaurant. Jon looked at me and said, "You know- she's so much like you. She doesn't like noise and craziness, either." I nodded in agreement. I could empathize with her. I could understand why the boys were a little bonkers. And that empathy had helped me not to completely snap during lunch even though I could feel the pressure, feel my raw nerves.

Since January, I've been practicing presence and working on my Momfulness journey. I have found another absolutely incredible resource to add to this practice of conscious parenting. Let the Baby Drive is the philosophy of Lu HanessianI have been reading through her site, tears streaming down my face. When you find what you identify with, when you resonate at the soul level, it is powerful.

This is how I want and try to parent. This will encourage me to continue to be compassionate, mindful:

To bridge this gap between knowing better and loving better, we must dare to be aware. To see ourselves in our children’s eyes. To embark on healing journey of recognizing what we have been ‘missing’, how the pain of that unmet need has influenced our actions, self-concept, and relationships, have empathy for the child who is still alive in us, and recover the birthright of joy and peace we are here to experience and share. A priceless gift for our children. And theirs.

This art of surrender isn't a complete giving up of control. It isn't allowing the child to railroad the parent. It is the releasing of agendas. It is letting the child navigate. Finding empathy for where a child is and meeting needs. Trusting in our intuitive voices as mothers. It pairs perfectly with my Momfulness practice. It honors the child as an important being, and it brings a deep connection to the mother-child relationship:

The art of surrender is an act of compassion--for ourselves, first and foremost. When we hold that kind of feeling for ourselves, our babies “feel” it too. We hold them slightly differently. We breathe differently. We may stop “bouncing” them so much and start finding more fluid movements that flow with their true needs. We find...synergy.

I look forward to finding synergy with all of my "babies."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bubbles and Raindrops

What a great weekend! I started my Saturday with a very hard, very hot 8 mile run. Nothing seemed to want to fall into place. I was wheezing despite taking my inhaler. My legs felt tired. I figured it was time for a tough long run, so I pushed through. Even if I was a bit cranky by the end!

The boys were slowly starting to feel better, and the day was so pretty, so we hung out on the deck. They are starting to be in that in between place- between being little kids and being grown kids. Sometimes it's hard for me to see how much they are changing. I found an incredible article this weekend that talks about surrender in the context of parenting a newborn. It has me thinking about how that practice of surrendering can be continued. I have to do some thinking and processing still, but I know that as the boys grow I need to apply this. I love the way my friend at Breath of Sunshine put it- I need to allow them to help guide me on the journey of being their mom.

I'm grateful that I can be present for moments when they forget to be so grown. Moments when they still allow the little kid to shine through. So when they got out the bubbles, I smiled. I watched them play and enjoyed the glimpse, the gift of seeing their younger selves once again.

Sunday started with another run (yes, more miles!!). Even though it was a very rainy day, I was glad to meet my friend at the park. We ran along soggy trails and through muddy puddles, and I was very surprised with how strong I felt even though I had run long the day before. We laughed at ourselves for running in the rain, but we definitely weren't the only crazy people out there. There is something different about running in the rain, and I realized that it feels so great because I reconnect with my inner child-- it's my bubbles! It brought me back to splashing through puddles on my bike when I was little. 4.5 miles has never gone by so easily and so quickly. I was completely out of my head and really enjoying the run. I wasn't worried about miles, time, breathing. It was simply fun.

Lesson from the weekend? Bring on the bubbles, bring on the rain.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Four Mile Therapy

It is weeks like this that I'm glad I have gotten back to running and training. Rowan has been teething. Hubby says it looks like Chiclets are pushing through. And it does! Those front two teeth are so close. But that means I have a clingy, fussy, cranky girl.

On top of that, Pacey has been battling a very strange stomach virus all week. It keeps coming and going, and he hasn't been at school since Tuesday. Today both boys are home. It's been a crazy week.

My plan all week was to do a solo 4 mile run yesterday after Jon got home from work. My resolve wavered as the day wore on. Rowan wouldn't nap anywhere but on me, and she wouldn't let me put her down or walk more than two feet away from her. All of this means that I was still in my pajamas at 5:30 while I was cooking dinner. The dreary weather was not doing much in terms of motivation either.

But as I juggled dinner and a clingy toddler, I noticed blue sky peeking through the grey clouds. I knew a run would balance me. It would give me some quiet, some of me after a demanding week. So I got the kids fed, and as soon as Jon walked in (with flowers! Have I mentioned he's awesome?!), I passed Rowan off, changed my clothes and headed out.

Surprise flowers from Hubby :)

I was curious how my pace would be without the jogger. I hit a 9:30 mile with it earlier this week. I knew I had goal of 4 miles, so I didn't push too hard at first. Here are my stats:

Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 9:47
Mile 4: 10:04

Overall it was a great run. I had to catch my breath, briefly, three times, but I haven't seen times like that for a substantial distance in a long time!

I needed that run last night. It was my therapy after a long day and an even longer week. I returned home refreshed and ready to start bedtime with the kids. My mood brightened, and I didn't feel frustrated. I realized last night that running brings out the best part of me. It challenges me, humbles me, and shows me what I'm capable of achieving. It helps me to be better- a better mom, wife... A better me!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Teacher's Heart

Gage has an amazing teacher. She is patient, nurturing, engaging. She is what I would consider the quintessential second grade teacher. Gage and I both love her. Today my entire perspective changed. Today, if it's even possible, I love her more.

We usually see her get out of her car with her daughter when we are waiting for time to go into school. If she sees us, she waves. Today we arrived at school early, so we were first in line at the parent drop off station, and I saw her car drive by. I caught a glimpse of the frame around her license plate: I held one in my arms. My curiosity was piqued. After Gage and I said our goodbyes, I drove around the loop and slowed as I came by her car, so I could read the rest. My breath caught in my chest and my eyes welled with tears. I had to wait a minute to gather myself before I drove again. The part of the frame that I didn't see said: Everyone dreams of angels. Then I noticed the SIDS awareness magnet. My heart ached, and I was in awe of this woman, this mother of six who was already inspirational to me. I cannot imagine suffering the death of a child. I cannot imagine having the strength to continue. Yet this woman, and many others, do. She teaches, she loves my Gage. She loves his curiosity, his eagerness for learning. She even loves his struggles with self-control. I see it. I feel it when we talk with her. And now it is so much more meaningful to me. She has clearly suffered, but until I saw her license plate, I would have never known. She continues with grace, with love, and exudes that to those she meets.

I drove home, fighting tears. My heart, flooded with gratitude. Gratitude for three beautiful and healthy children. Gratitude for the opportunity to be their mother. Gratitude for the gift of staying home with Rowan, of being with the boys before and after school. I have always been grateful, but these moments of levity are priceless. These moments force me into the present; they require reflection, reevaluation.

These moments remind me to continue to strive to be present, to be mindful, to be compassionate with my family. To cherish every moment, to love all there is about them, to focus on their happiness, to encourage us all to grow. To resist the urge, the ingrained impulse, to get overwhelmed, to be impatient and frustrated.

May I continue to be a teacher to my children, to shape them with loving hands. May I hold the presence gained today more constantly, without the need for poignant reminders. But may I be open to these reminders as they come my way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

40 Day Goal Challenge Set 1 Recap

I'm a little late getting back to my goals, but here is where I stand after about 50ish days.

source: http://holyweightblogbatman.tumblr.com/post/5436578941

1. Blog, blog, blog! I'm thinking 3-4 times a week.
I haven't gotten to 3-4 times a week until this week. I still get in my own way with the feeling that each post has to be perfect, deep, and super wonderful. What I find, though, is that I enjoy writing about our lives regardless. And my friend at Breath of Sunshine put it perfectly: "I've decided to consider each post a rough draft. When the book editors come knocking, I'll fine tune them." Perfect! I am working on being gentle with myself and not always demanding a ridiculous level of perfection.

2. Run, run, run! 3-4 times a week. I'd like to reach a consistent 10:30 pace for 3-5 miles by the end of this set of 40 days.
This I have achieved! Long runs at the park have definitely helped my speed and endurance. I've even gotten faster than a 10:30!

3. Swim, swim, swim! I need to see the pool 1-2 times a week to be ready for Breezy Point in June.
Well Breezy Point is out of the picture because of the Zooma Half. I have gotten to the pool three times, which is about what has been feasible. It was tough getting back, but I'm feeling more comfortable in the water each time!

4. Continue Pilates workouts 2 times a week. Maybe slip in some yoga for balance?
I haven't gotten to two times a week, but I have done Pilates a few times and yoga once! I've made both a part of my training plan.

5. Do something special with the just the boys (at least a few times). Now that I'm at home, I definitely want to spend more time with just them.
Done! Whale watching was the highlight of this goal. Plus we spent time together at the beach.

6. Take Pacey running with me. He loves it, and what a great way to connect with him (and wear him out!).
Done! And as a bonus Gage came, too! We ran two miles in the sand. It was great to run with my boys!

7. Continue to resist sweets and sugar as what I'm giving up for Lent.
Done! Now that Lent is over, I've had a few pieces of Easter candy, but I'm continuing with this and staying away from sweets and sugar more than I used to.

8. Read and discuss the Gospel readings for the week's Mass with the boys before Mass each week.
Done for the one Mass the boys made it to with me. It was a weird time of the year. But now that my RCIA class is just about over, it will be easier for all of us to go to Mass together.

9. Schedule date nights with hubby. 1-2 would be awesome, unprecendented even!
Sadly this didn't happen! :( but we have a date planned for our anniversary next weekend!

10. Devise and implement a monthly plan for keeping the house clean and organized.
I've kind of experimented with the best way to do this. I quickly learned that a strict weekly schedule wasn't the best approach. I'm still working on this one!

11. Organize our homework area and figure out how to keep Rowan occupied while I'm working with the boys, so she doesn't try to eat their homework.
We have a homework area in the dining room, stocked with supplies, etc. Most days, Rowan is able to entertain herself. Most... On the data that she isn't, I need to practice maintaining patience. I think a Momfulness meditation would be a good reminder here.

12. Implement another meditation from Momfulness. Continue using the two meditations I've started with.
Done! I blogged about the watching your children play meditation. I use this one frequently!

I'm going to continue to work on some of these and come up with a few fresh ones to start in a few days.

And instead of the Lululemon racerback, I'm treating myself to a pair of running capris, which I really need now that it is warming up!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yes, Still

While I was nursing Rowan last week, someone asked me when I was going to be finished. I had been dreading Rowan's first birthday because I knew that I'd start facing questions, some merely curious, some almost disapproving. Questions that could cause me to second guess my decision to continue with "extended" breastfeeding.

Admittedly, I used to think it was a little strange to nurse a toddler. My experience with nursing babies has grown with each of my three children. With little support, little knowledge, and a baby with latching troubles, I only nursed Pacey for 2 weeks. After returning to work, having limited time to pump, and developing mastitis, I felt satisfied with making it to 6 months with Gage. My goal with Rowan was a year. And she and I have had our fair share of issues, but we have gotten through them.

I quickly learned that with a high-needs baby like Rowan, I could throw feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, and anything related to structure out the window. This pushed me to my limit. I like structure. Schedules? Yes, please! So not being able to count on predictable feeding schedules was a challenge. I am typically a 'by the book' person, so the fact that she wasn't waiting 2-3 hours between her feedings caused me to feel like I was failing. Then I found Dr. Sears. When I read things from him, I realized I was still a 'by the book' person. Just a different book! He encouraged holding babies as much as they wanted, wearing them frequently. Hubby used to ask, playfully, if I ever put her down. Both of these I already did, but a small voice inside questioned whether it was okay. Dr. Sears confirmed what my instincts were telling me. It was okay, and she needed it.

I remember the day when my struggle with breastfeeding ended. Rowan was crying. An inconsolable cry. I bounced her. I rocked her. I swaddled her. Nothing worked. I looked at my feeding app. She had recently eaten, so I figured there was no way she was hungry. But after nothing else I did worked, I grabbed the Boppy and decided to nurse her. She fumbled for a minute, still overwrought that it had taken her mama so long to figure out what she wanted, but she latched and immediately calmed. Suckling vigorously for a bit and then falling into a milk drunk sleep. I relaxed and realized that nursing didn't necessarily have to do with hunger; nursing provided her with comfort. She wouldn't nap anywhere else during the day, and my new motto quickly became, "When in doubt, whip it out." I deleted my feeding app and instead adopted the practice of cue feeding. She was smart and could tell me when she needed me. And if it meant that I spent the better part of the day on the couch, so be it. And now, a year later, I don't regret those quiet, nursing naps. There was nothing else I'd rather have been doing.

Today, I tried to take a teething, clingy, and cranky baby on a run. We got back home just as she was reaching her threshold. We settled into the rocking chair, and she quickly nursed to sleep. I listened to her contented swallows and studied her sweet face. Her hand instinctively reached up and found my face and lingered there until she found deep sleep. A year may have passed, but my little high-needs baby still needs this. As I type, she is nursing and sleeping. She woke up after only thirty minutes, still half asleep, and I knew she wasn't ready to wake up yet. Are there things I could be doing right now? Definitely. My hair is still wet from my shower. The house is still in disarray from our kitchen remodel. Does any of that matter right now? Not at all. This baby girl will only be a baby for a brief moment in time. She will eventually not need or want to nurse so much, and when that happens, we will fondly say goodbye to that part of our journey. Until then, I'm trusting that I'm providing her with nourishment to grow... physically and emotionally.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Screaming and Speeding

... not always at the same time, but today? Yes!

Rowan has never been a fan of the car, which is why we haven't ventured any further than Chesapeake with her. Most extended car rides result in at least 10-15 minutes of screaming, and if an outing has more than two ins and outs of the car, she goes into total meltdown mode. So after another screaming car ride yesterday, I told Hubby that I was going to turn her seat around. She's one, she's 20 pounds, and I know "they" recommend that babies now ride rear facing for at least two years, but I have to try something to make our daily trips to the boys' school bearable. The fact that she cried for just about the whole 30 minute ride this morning sealed the deal. I turned her seat around during her nap. And during our afternoon car ride, she was so much more pleasant.

At first. Then not so much.

Don't worry-- I took both of these pictures at stoplights. And since today was a trying day (I think she is teething), I even joined in on the meltdown. I definitely didn't remember my breathing meditation today. I think I'll print it out and post it in my car as a reminder.

The other screaming and speeding incident was during my morning run. Look at this time!

The trails and hills at the park during my long runs must be doing their jobs if I can easily pound out a mile in 9:30 while pushing the jogger in the wind and not feel like I am going to die! It helped that Rowan decided to cry for the entire second mile-- there is nothing like a little vocal encouragement from my running partner to kick my butt and keep me moving!

We stopped at the park mid-run and played. While I watched her wander around and explore, I felt so grateful, so present with the gifts of the day. I was enjoying my perfect girl, during beautiful weather, in the middle of a fabulous run. What is better than that?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finding My Groove

A few weeks back, my friend Kristy commented on my Facebook status about swimming that I had found my groove. I've been wanting to get to this post since!

Her comment really resonated with me because it is exactly how I've been feeling in so many parts of my life. It's been a little over a month since I've been a stay at home mom. Rowan and the boys and I are really enjoying this new adventure. I'm learning what will work best for our family, and I'm really enjoying finding a less stressed, more satisfied part of myself emerging.

What I've loved experiencing and what has happened more naturally since I stopped forcing an outcome and instead have stayed present, is training. I still have moments of obsessing and fretting about performance, but I'm starting to fall back in love with the process, and that is an awesome place to be. Because not only am I making positive changes physically, I'm finding more confidence in just being, too. That is what has been missing, what has slowly waned over time as I have fumbled to adjust to the many changes life has brought.

I did something this weekend that was huge for me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. And though this seems like such a simple thing, for an introvert like me, it was a challenge. My friend Kristy and I have been lucky to keep in touch with each other through Facebook, but we haven't seen each other since high school... 15 years ago! We both are moms, we both run, we both blog- we have a lot in common, so it seemed to be a great idea to run together. I invited her on a long run, and as I drive to the park, I had what she called first date jitters. I was nervous about running with someone new. I wondered if I'd be good enough. I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to talk about. I was anxious to see someone after so long. I wondered about a million things that all made me question my decision and attempted to thwart my confidence.

Again I learned a lesson about trust. Trusting in the choices I make and trusting in who I am. It was a fabulous run and it was great to talk in person finally! There really isn't anything like running with someone- she put it best, so I'll steal it- it is therapeutic. You chat at times and then sometimes there is nothing other than the rhythmic sound of your feet on the trail. I love that there was no competition. We just set out and run. It was nonthreatening. And for someone who wants to constantly compare herself to her old self and to others, yesterday was an amazing experience with being present. I'm so glad I ignored my insecurities and stayed in my groove!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Zooma Zoom

Today marked the first official day of training for the Zooma Half Marathon. I hadn't planned on running today, but it was so sunny and warm that I couldn't resist. After a great session of intervals on Monday, I was itching to get out and see what I could push myself to do in terms of speed and endurance. In my mind, I decided I'd be happy to sustain a 10:30 pace for the 2-3 miles that I intended to run with Rowan in the jogger. I was so pleased with what I was able to do:

9:55?! And it felt amazing! I think mentally I've finally gotten past the obsession with where I used to be, and I've settled into where I am and how I can continue to improve. This is a nice place to be-- it's about being present, and I love that I can see how much I am able to do when I'm not focused on past accomplishments.

Here is what I have devised as a training plan for the half. I'm sure I will have to be flexible; life at home with a one year old isn't exactly predictable, but I think that most days, I'll be able to stick with it.

My long runs will be on Sundays because it means that I can run with my BFF on the trails, which alleviates boredom and also provides some hilly action to deal with. I am so looking forward to this time each week!

I love that I can still continue with my triathlon training while I incorporate extra running mileage because even though I'm not going to be doing Breezy Point, I found another awesome triathlon in OBX in September to add to my list.

I know I said this in my last post, but I really just can't get over how much better I feel now that I am back to being very active again-- active with a purpose beyond fitness (even though that is very important on its own). I think that is where I started to lose motivation a few years ago. Simply going to the gym with no other reason other than burning calories was not enough for me. I missed this rush, the rush of setting goals and meeting them, of pushing myself physically and mentally, of knowing that I accomplished something pretty awesome.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shamrock 8k Recap

This is a week late, but I need to talk about how great the Shamrock 8k was!

I look ready to kick some a$$!

The race morning was beautiful and unseasonably warm for mid-March. The sun was peeking over the coastline as I drove into the resort area. I was very nervous for my first race back, but I felt cautiously optimistic. I knew that I had trained enough to make it through the race even if I wasn't going to post my best time. My goal was to simply be present during the race and finish strong.

Oops, excuse the extreme close-up of my finger!

This was also the first longer race or event that I've done all alone. I went to packet pick-up alone, I drove to the race alone alone, stood in line for the bathrooms alone (but I did chat with a really nice lady!), found my corral alone, ran alone, and finished alone... Poor hubby and the kids were stuck driving around looking for a parking spot as I crossed the finish line! That was a very different feeling. I was missing my best friend, the person I've done just about every triathlon, 5k, half-marathon, duathlon with, but it was also an opportunity for me to be courageous and independent, to push myself before and during the race. It was a good experience for me.

I could feel my nerves setting in as each corral started the race, but I tried to keep my breathing even, and I settled into an easy pace. Looking back, I feel like I could have possibly pushed myself a little more, but I was afraid of my breathing getting too tight, and I didn't have my inhaler with me. The first three miles were pretty easy. At mile 3.5, I stopped for water, which was probably a mistake because then I battled a cramp for the next 1.5 miles.

I have to admit, I did stop to walk once because I was getting a bad cramp and starting to feel mentally defeated. Thankfully, an older lady running with an American flag, put her hand on my back, pushed me forward a bit, and told me, "Don't stop! Rock on, girl!" That was all I needed; I thanked her, and I pushed and found my way to the finish line.

Here are my splits from my Garmin. Not my best (I need to stop saying this), but pretty good considering I only trained for about a month or so.


I am pleased-- my official race time was 54:29, about 2:30 over my initial goal of 52:00.

For a while, I've been toying with the idea of registering for the Rock and Roll half, but I haven't committed to it because I am not sure how I can get good runs in with the heat of the summer and all three kiddos home all summer. After some encouragement from my friend over at A Balanced Fit today, I decided to forgo the Breezy Point Tri in June (still aiming for the Patriot in September), and instead I registered for the ZOOMA half in Annapolis! 

That gives me just about 10 weeks to get back to half-marathon form, which is very doable.  What's great is that I can still incorporate my triathlon training into this plan, so that I will still be on track for a strong Patriot Sprint in September. 

Just a closing note-- I am so thrilled to be back into training, back into ME again. I've been to the pool twice in the last week, and while it is really challenging swimming again after such a long break, it is empowering. Advice to moms, to anyone? Find what makes you buzz, what makes you feel alive, what makes you feel like YOU, and immerse yourself in it. There is nothing else like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One Year

Dear Brown Baby,
Today you turn one, and I find myself at a loss for how this time has slipped away so quickly. It doesn't seem so long ago that we found out we were having a baby and now I look down, and you are running all over the house.
There was a time when I fully believed that I was finished having babies. I couldn't see going back to this place, this world of little sleep and constant need. But one day that changed, and I knew you were waiting to become a part of this family.

You are a spirited girl. You've taught me to be patient, to be flexible, to be responsive. I've become a better mom to all of my kids because of the presence you've encouraged me to maintain.

I've learned to slow down. I now know just how fleeting babyhood is. So I linger. I sometimes hold you while you nap, ignoring the dishes in the sink and the laundry piles, knowing all too well that soon, too soon, these quiet moments will only be a painful longing, a sweet memory.

You've united our blended family- you are the common ground, the link we all share. We find joy in you and your shenanigans; we exchange smiles, we share laughter. We have come to know a shared love that is often a challenge to achieve when you come from varied pasts. That may sound like a hefty weight for someone so small, but it requires no work on your part. It is part of the blessing of having you in our lives.
I often marvel at this chance, this privilege to be your mama. I look at you, see your round face, your sweet lips, your happy eyes, and I thank God for this second chance. I thank God that he brought you to us, that he knew that I wasn't finished just yet.

As we close this chapter of your life, as you say goodbye to babyhood, and you leap into toddlerhood, I am ambivalent. I miss the curled up, cuddly baby you once were, but I'm so in love with the floppy, independent toddler you are becoming.

Right now, you have given me a gift, a sweet glimpse at your younger days- you have nestled in for an unscheduled nursing nap. I sit here on the couch and take you in. Your even breaths, the weight of your head on my arm. There is no place I'd rather be, nothing I'd rather be doing than holding you right now, being your safe place to sleep.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl! I look forward to all of our adventures.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Always Learning

It's amazing where you find inspiration if you are open and paying attention. Over the weekend we were at the doctor's, and during the extremely long wait, I picked up a catalog for ridiculously overpriced baby furniture. On the first page, I found this:

How incredible and filled with truth! This simple, yet meaningful statement has caused me to reflect quite a bit on how I've changed over the past ten years of being a mother, and I've been filled with a deep sense of gratitude for my children. They have inspired me to continually strive to be a better person. I could get caught up in so many regrets, absorbed in so many times that I was selfish. I was quite a different person and mother at 22 than I am now at 32. But I'm not going to get stuck in a cycle of regrets, instead I've focused on being present, and looking back, I know that I was the best mother I was able to be at the time. I know I provided a loving presence to my boys, and I know that I owe so much to them in terms of how I've grown. They remind me to laugh, to be present, and to relax. For someone who gets stuck in her head all of the time, it's perfect, and I am learning to be more open to it.

We went for a walk yesterday, and as Rowan and I watched the boys zoom ahead on their scooters, I wistfully thought to a time when they would have stayed right beside me. I'm learning to let them go a little at a time, to urge them exercise their independence, and to encourage them to be brave and courageous. I had to fight back the urge to shout their names and tell them to come back, they were going too far ahead. But that would have been selfish, that would have been thinking of my needs instead of theirs. I saw our timeline lay out before me... Pacey in the front, Gage in the middle, Rowan still close, and I realized there is beauty in these moments of struggle. I could hang back and watch the grown boys that they've become, I could let go of what I felt they should be doing and just watch them be. That is a wonderful feeling of release, to loosen the control and to trust and be present in my parenting of them. To me, this is part of living a better life for them and filling our experiences with love, beauty, and goodness.

And even more beautiful was the moment when Pacey slowed down just a bit and allowed me and Rowan to catch up with him, so he could walk with us for the last stretch.

I turned to the next chapter in my Momfulness book this morning, and I realized I was practicing the next meditation yesterday without even knowing it. The practice of being present and just watching my children play. Without interfering, without controlling, without guiding the experience to be what I think it should be. To delight in their selves, to see the world from their vantage point. To trust and to know that if they go on ahead, they will come back for snuggles, for reassurance, for affirmation. And because I haven't been absorbed with my own agenda, because I haven't created stress, I am more available to give them what they need in those moments-- to be present with them, enjoy them, nurture them, and continue to learn from them.

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Today marks the week anniversary of my new journey of being a stay at home mom. I've avoided posting for the past week because I wanted to settle into my new reality without overthinking things too much, which I tend to do when I write. Sometimes that's good. This past week, though, I just wanted to focus on the transition from being working mom to just being mom.

It's been a great transition, and Hubby has commented that I seem more at ease, calmer. I've found such a sense of fulfillment and peace (yes, already!) in caring for my family. I said to someone yesterday, "I've finally found what I want to be when I grow up!"

Reflecting on the past week has gotten me thinking about trust. Trusting in my decision-making. Trusting that even though this was a huge life change, which I fretted about for many months, I knew in my heart the right decision to make. And now that I am a week in, I can say without a doubt that it was. What I'd like to learn to do more readily is to trust before I have the proof. To believe the whispers of my heart more immediately, rather than questioning everything endlessly. To live courageously. And most importantly to share this outlook with my children.

This kind of trust goes hand-in-hand with presence. Through my ramblings with the Buddhist faith, several years ago, I learned this:

Consider the trees which allow the birds to perch and fly away without either inviting them to stay or desiring them never to depart.

To me this is the very definition of presence. Use any metaphor you want here for the birds and you can put this idea into practice for living in the moment. Living in the moment and being present requires trust. Trust that everything is in perfect order. Just as it is. I've posted before about having no regrets, and this is why, this is one of those great practices that I found in my journey that I can apply wherever I am in my life.

How can I look at this and not think everything is in perfect order?
So how else am I practicing trust and presence? In my training. My last post talked about my struggles with being present in this venue. I've done much better this week. I'm working on trusting my body to do what it can do right now. Today I ran 3.5 miles, and I ended up walking part of mile 2-3 because I was going head into 20ish mph winds. Instead of getting frustrated with myself and the weather, I just walked until I felt I was able to run again. And then I ran the last mile and finished strong.

Mile 1: 10:48
Mile 2: 11:23
Mile 3: 12:37
Last .5: 11:12

I'm trusting the process of building towards the 8k in about a week. When I get there, I'll run the best race that I can run, and I will celebrate another small victory. Then I will reset and look towards Breezy Point Tri in June.

Some wisdom from my Lululemon bag. I love every one of these!