Monday, December 31, 2007
Even though both kids are down and out with ear infections (ugh!), there is something promising about today's sunshine. Here it is, the last day of 2007 and after countless days (literally, I can't recall the last time we had such a sunny day - all day, even!) it is filled with the promise and excitement of light and celebration. It is a reminder to me that these sick days will pass and we'll soon usher in healthy ones. The days of indoor play and longing for running through the grass will be replaced with hours and hours of outside fun.
Farewell, 2007 . . . thanks for a full year and the glorious sunny ending. Welcome, 2008 . . . I can't wait to see what you have in store for us!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
But then a day like today comes along and *SLAM*. I'm on the ground clutching my head and looking up at Mt. Rainier wondering how I plowed head-first into it (something so big surely couldn't sneak up on a person). No, I didn't really ram into a mountain, rather I confronted about a dozen very real realities that are a part of my proverbial mountain - publishing my book. Dozens of hand-scrawled notes are strewn about my computer space (which I just cleaned last week - really!), I have at least 7 tabs open in my Explorer window going at any given time, and I'm following-up on emails and tasks for six different aspects of the business (distribution, website, reviews, author visits, marketing and . . . give me a minute, oh, yes, this blog!). Yet, while I toil away (breaking for an hour or two at a time to tend to my motherly duties) I don't feel as if I'm getting anywhere. It is like I'm running on the treadmill without the thrill of endorphins or a satisfying sweat. I'm left wondering, "What am I doing?!!"
Thanks to that husband of mine I'm stepping back and looking at each thing one at a time. He even took the paper and pen out of my hand and wrote the list for me (and checked-off some items I'd already managed to accomplish to show me that I AM making progress) so that it would seem more do-able. And so now, before I turn-in for the night (and before I do turn in-to a pumpkin), I can say with a sigh of relief that yes, I think we have some shipping issues on the way to being under control, we are a step closer to having a distributor, I think the formatting is better for the commerce section of the website, it is okay to wait until tomorrow to put together the review packets, author visit stuff can wait until we get the other stuff under control, marketing is another task for another day, and this blog entry is nearly finished.
There. I think I can breathe now. I'm stepping back from that mountain - one careful step at a time. If I can distance myself from it a bit more I'll be able to enjoy its majesty and beauty and then do some training before I attempt to summit it again.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
So yesterday's words were "fun" and "family". Today's words are "clean" and "juggle". I'm the one doing the cleaning - the bathrooms, the laundry, finishing cleaning the kitchen (my husband started this morning, but that job is just NEVER finished), getting gifts put away. My husband is chief-in-charge of the juggling, though I suppose I'm doing a bit of that, too. He's finishing a floor tiling job with my dad in our basement (thanks, Dad!), juggling our son (the "helper"), the dog who is happy to go outside/inside (repeat!), and some of his own cleaning as he works on the floor. I'm handling the other half of the time with our son ("I need a break - that's hard work" he reports), thank you notes (one at a time, which is as long as I can keep Ethan's attention to complete, or as long as I can sit before having to refocus Megan!), and our still-curious and excited daughter. Oh, and of course, there's that cleaning stuff!!
But as part of me wants to grumble (cleaning is not my cup of tea, but really who wakes up and says, "Wow! What a beautiful day, I think I'll go scrub a toilet. There's just nothing more satisfying than a clean throne!"), the other part of me realizes the reality of cleaning/chores is all part of what enables us to enjoy the "fun" and "family" part of life. Thank you notes are an essential part of the season for me. I like taking the time to reflect on the love and thought that went into the carefully chosen gifts people sent, processing the true puprose of gift exchange. And I hope that sharing those moments with the gift-givers helps them feel like they are here with us.
Oh, And I DO have to admit that there IS something satisfying about a clean bathroom, even if it isn't the force that drives my day.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
My husband knows this. He knows me better than I know myself, it seems. So in November he put his knowledge to use and got me a gift certificate for 4 hours at the spa for my birthday. 4 whole hours! Initally, my thoughts ran wild about how I was going to schedule 4 hours at the spa when we have 2 small children and we like to reserve evenings for family time. Of course, he already had that part figured out (smart man!). He would take off a day from work to be with the kids, giving me "the day off". Then my thoughts ran wild about how I'd manage to be away from them all for 4 entire hours. I hadn't yet processed the generosity of the gift or how I really did NEED the relaxation to help knock me back into balance. I politely thanked my husband, who must have thought he did something wrong because I stood in silence for much longer than I should have, and then pushed aside the gift certificate. I'd have to mull over how this would all work and if a plain Jane gal like me really had any place in a fancy spa (I'd been to one before - a gift from my husband early in our marriage - and felt a bit out of place).
The first time I scheduled the appointment things went very wrong, seemingly confirming that it was best if I remained in control (have I mentioned that I like being in control, as much as I try to back-off, I have more trying to do!) and stayed with the kids and let a more deserving person go in my place. First, I got started late, then I got 5 miles down the road and realized I didn't have my gift certificate with me, then a tree went down on a major road and all traffic had to be rerouted. After sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 30 mintues on a 2 lane road, I realized there was nothing relaxing about rushing to a day of pampering when you'd miss half of the massage (and for me, I think that is the best part). SO, I called the spa (my third call to them that morning) and asked if I could reschedule (I think my sobbing convinced the manager that this really was not my choice, but truly was due to an act of God, so they would kindly allow me to book my appointment another day). It comes as no surprise to my family that I got sick just 2 days later. Like a truck hit me, sick.
Anyhow . . . I had (and kept!) my appointment yesterday (a week after the second round of knock me down sick). I learned some very important things:
1 - Yes, a stay-at-home mother, wife and author DOES belong at the spa (on occassion, this doesn't need to become habitual!)
2 - My husband is a wise man (though he won't admit it)
3 - 4 hours of time to myself (when I am healthy, not in a sick-induced sleep) to breathe and relax with no responsibility was amazing
4 - I'll be less pouty and rediculous next time someone offers me such a generous gift
5 - Some of my destination-focused energy can use refocusing to soak-in the actual journey
So my next challenge is taking some of Liz Gilbert's modeling of meditation with my own recently experienced calm and applying it to my daily life. It is a WHOPPER of a challenge for me, but I think its effects will ripple nicely throughout my family. Just a few minutes here and there for calm. With regular doses of relaxation maybe my body won't feel like it has to lurch into illness - it might actually enjoy the quiet and reward me somehow. Wow, now that I put it that way, this is definitely something I need to do. Calm, quiet, relaxation . . . Guess my first step is to step away from the computer, right?
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Today his imaginary scene caught me completely off guard and even induced a few salty tears. It went something like this:
*shuffle, shuffle* "I'll get these ready so our visitors will know about Mama's book," he muttered to himself while swiping some of my business cards from my computer armoire. (to which I sighed, but didn't take action to retrieve)
*ding, ding, ding* (he fingered a few notes on the piano)
"Who eeees it?" he called out in a sing-song voice mimicing the characters from Jack's Big Music Show.
"Oh, a visitor! We have a visitor!" he announced, pointing to me as I sat on the floor in the adjoining room entertaining his little sister.
"Yes, I've come to see you," I played along.
"Oh, good! Thanks for coming. Do you know about my mom's book?" he inquired in a crisp, businessman-like voice.
"Your mom has a book?" I asked, playing dumb (I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be - usually he let's me know my character!).
He handed me one of my business cards and instructed me, "Here, you can read all about it on this card. It is about her book. It'll be ready soon."
"Thank you. Can you tell me about the book?" I fished.
"Oh, sure. It's about being a mama and all that kind of stuff," he said confidently while gesturing wildly with his hands, almost magically as if he would conjure the book to appear right then.
Since he was so focused and clearly dedicated about getting the word out about my book, I thought I'd use this opportunity to let him know just what the book WAS about, while continuing to be in character (still no further details about what character, though, so I just fell into step as my own idea of Visitor #1). "Oh, it says here that the book is about girls who love to run and girls who are strong. Wow!"
"Righ!" he confirmed. And then he floored me . . . "Just like you."
That's when the tears welled up in my eyes. And in true, Ethan-fashion, he darted back to the piano to make the "doorbell" ring again. Visitor #2 (a stuffed hippo) had arrived and clearly needed educating about his mama's book. Visitor #3 (Abu, the monkey) was close behind to get a business card and help spread the word about this great book that would be ready soon.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Since we were so late in prying ourselves from the bed, attending church was out of the question for us. We go to the early Mass only, as Ethan just doesn't have the right balance of energy, calm and curiosity for the later Mass. Though David and I decided last night that we'd both like to get in a run today, it just wasn't looking good. Then the phone rang. A phone call at 8:15 AM isn't always the most welcome, but this was by far the best call we've received before 9AM. My mom wanted to deliver a plate of her homemade cookies on her way to her church (of course, Mom, bring them right over!) and then suggested that she take Ethan and Megan to the service with her so they could enjoy watching my dad play with their church band (of course, Mom, I can have them ready whenever you'd like and I'd even be happy to put little Megs in a dress!). She suggested that David and I head out for some breakfast (knowning that sleeping in was a RARE thing and breakfast on our own is even more rare!) together while they were all at church.
We kicked around the idea of a breakfast outing for abut 2 minutes. We immediately knew that this was a chance for us to enjoy a run together outside and that it would be great, even if it was snowing. So, we got the kids fed and dressed, buckled them into their carseats in my mom's car and didn't look back to watch them pull out of the driveway. We were going for a run - together!
Our dog, Albus, loves to run, too. As we got dressed for the run, he immediately recognized the signs - clothes from the bottom drawers, white socks, running shoes . . . with each item his tail wagged faster and his eyes darted between each of our faces to see which of us would acknowledge that he was invited for the event. His running is the same style as David's - full speed ahead. It helps that Albus has four legs and David's legs are LONG. This speed is not my favorite, so Albus doesn't often get to join me when I run. BUT since David would be going, he received the much anticipated nod that he could come, too.
So, there we were, the three of us, running the hills of Duvall at 9AM. While the treadmill has kept my legs strong, it does have the drawback of keeping my lungs from getting the same experience that hills and cold air provide outside. Even with the few walk breaks I requested, it was a good morning to run. We waved good morning to our neighbor has he strung their outdoor Christmas lights - a festive picture, if not the ideal conditions he would choose for such a chore. The wind changed direction with each of our turns, encouraging the snowflakes to fly into our faces and stick on our eyelashes. I can't remember the last time we went for a run in the snow, which means it has probably been a few years. We'll definitely do it again . . . and maybe even give it a try with the kids in the double jogger, if need be.
Thanks, Mom, for sharing your morning with us all. We hope running around with the kids was as satisfing as our run around Duvall!
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
After a nearly 3 month break from my yoga practice, I am thrilled to report that I returned to my favorite Vinyasa class on Thursday night. Hooray!
My husband and I were in the great habit of going to the class together on our Date Night while our kids played at their grandparetns' house. Then cold season hit - HARD! Illness started with Ethan and worked its way around to each of us, at least twice. I've been to more doctors this fall than I've been to in the last 2 years combined. Thankfully we're all healthy now and hopefully we'll stay that way.
Getting back into the swing of workouts has been a bit of a challenge, but both David and I are getting there. I was the first to return to my runs. I haven't ventured outside to run with either of the kids in the jogging stroller, but have worked to stay loyal to our treadmill. While a treadmill doesn't offer the rolling (or killer!) hills, pretty scenery, or fresh breezes of outdoor running, it does provide me with a warm place to run on cold, rainy/snowy days and my kids can play or nap while I get my energy boost.
David is taking the macho route and has now returned to his outdoor lunch break runs. His running gives his brain some free time and ensures that he does see the light of day now that he arrives at work before the sun rises and heads home well after the sun has called it a day. Ah, balance.
But enough about running, I'm here to write about yoga!
Though my running habit was restored, I remained hesitant about returning to yoga. As the class is held during our usual dinner time and it was our date night, and with the colds, sinus infections and ear infections that took over our lives for so long, David and I did use a few weeks to go out for dinner so we could actually see one another without having to stop mid-sentence to wipe a kid's nose or check our watches to see which person needed which antibiotic. We ENJOYED that down time our dinners out provided. I wasn't immediately ready to give up that fun time.
Then I got a new yoga mat for my birthday. It beckoned me. "Hey, Brianna. Aren't I pretty? Come on! Take me to class. I dare you to break a sweat!" And so on Thursday, though David wasn't quite ready to join me, I took the plunge and went back to The Yoga Garden to see my instructor Sara and let my body flow through the asanas once again. Aaaaahhhhhhhh! Thank goodness for the lure of the mat!
When I arrived Sara greeted me so kindly and encouragingly. A hug and a smile assured me that I am always welcome at the studio, no matter how much time lapses between visits. Seven other students joined me for a thorough, yet gentle, whole body stretch and workout. We let Sara do the thinking for us, putting our brains on auto pilot as our bodies followed her directions. 75 minutes later I headed to pick-up our take out dinner (it was, afterall, still Date Night!) feeling limber, relaxed and rejuvinated.
Hooray for yoga! I'm back!
Originally posted 12/2/2007 8:57:04 PM
I was a bit bewildered when I checked Balanced Steps' post office box last week and found a letter addressed to me from Riverview Educational Foundation. We haven't published information about our educational consulting yet, so I couldn't figure out how that group got my name and why they'd be contacting me. I had my two small children in tow so I had to wait until I got them settled with toys at home to unlock the mystery!
Rrrrrrrip - I tore into the envelope to discover a white satin ribbon and a slip of paper. The paper was a thank you for participating in the Turkey Trot (which, incidentally raised several thousand dollars for Riverview School District wellness grants!) - complete with this year's Jake the Turkey illustration by my book's layout artist, Kirk Werner. The ribbon was even more exciting - recognition for placing 3rd in my age group for the 5K run! I already felt good about my run that day, but this was icing on the cake. To top it all off, the note was signed by the race coordinator, a woman whose smile, energy, and dedication to the Snoqualmie Valley make her stand feet above her measurable 5' 2" stature. A supporter of my book, she has this website bookmarked on her computer and went the extra mile (no pun intended) to track me down. Thanks Paige!
It is funny to think that at the age of 29 I still get excited about ribbons and recognition. I was happy to participate in the run because it is always fun to run with others, it supported learning opportunities in my community, and let's face it . . . I needed a jump start back into my own running routine after a few weeks of bad colds being passed around my house. Placing in my age group was totally unexpected and the fancy ribbon is a nice bit of encouragement for me to keep plugging away at my running, 1 mile or 3 miles at a time, on the treadmill or on the trail, with my dog or pushing one of my kids . . .
So, now my ribbon hangs on the wall beside my computer, tucked into the picture frame with the photo of my husband and me crossing the finish line of the Richmond SunTrust Marathon. Both the 5K and the marathon finishes are memories I'll treasure.
originally posted: 11/28/2007 2:36:28 PM
I opted to run the 5K, as we've been passing around cold after cold at our house and I have only been able to run a handful of times in the last few weeks. This race was great motivation for me to get back into a regular routine of running. Also, I've been focusing on my foot strike form, so the race presented me with the opportunity to try out my new foot strike outside on a trail. This race was just the thing I needed all around!
There weren't many of us on the course this morning (compared to the summer races around here, anyhow) and I found that I really didn't know any of my fellow runners. I usually enjoy the energy of running with friends and neighbors that I know, but this morning I found that the energy in the air was just as positive and encouraging amid the crowd of unknowns, giving me an opportunity to reflect and truly focus on my return to running and my physical form. Yet another thing this usual social bug needed!
The school district's superintendent, Conrad Robertson, warned us at the start line that there might be a few muddy spots along the way and that we were welcome to run around or through any puddles on the course, the choice was ours. He got a few chuckles of response, but little did we know that in a few places there wouldn't be too much choice.
I found myself remembering Robertson's words as I watched the field of runners ahead of me seemingly dance across a narrow bridge, manuvering across the leafy, puddle heavy stretch of the course with fancy tip-toe footwork. I joined in with my own leaps, twists and occasional light splashes, thinking that the bike riders that were politely awaiting their turn to cross the bridge wouldn't have nearly as much fun as they rolled through our obstacle course.
Only one dog participated in the event, a young Weimaraner who doubled the distance her person had to cover to reach the finish line. I was fortunate to follow this twosome for the first third of the race, laughing to myself about how that pup really had no idea what was going on and why she wasn't allowed to take a dip in the river along the way. While the river was off limits for her, she did manage to take Robertson's words to heart, choosing to run full speed ahead through a LONG puddle, splashing her owner as she moved her gangly, too long for her body, legs. This was a good morning for a pup to run, too!
The race course took us along the outer loop of a Girl Scout camp. It was the perfect location for a fall race, which would have been even more enjoyable if the sun had graced us with its presence, BUT, still provided a calm atmosphere for the middle of the race. The unexpected suprise on this stretch was a cabin full of girls in their pajamas cheering for us as they watched us through the giant picture window. There they were, with pigtails and slippers, jumping up and down, waving excitedly as we hurried past and waved our own greetings in return. I wonder how many of those girls might lace up their own running shoes for a race someday in the future, thinking back on our field of runners as we trotted through the drizzly morning in conquest of the finish line.
In the end, this race was probably the slowest I've run (I finished right around 30 minutes flat), but it was what I'd consider one of my best. I took the time to enjoy what I was doing, I was focused on my body position and technique, and had time to reflect on my surroundings. Today's Turkey Trot reminded me of my passion for the sport of running - my love of the process, being in the moment and the groove of a good pace, respecting the generosity of the volunteers who enable me to race, and the fun of rubbing elbows with others who enjoy a good run.
Originally Posted by me on 11/10/2007 on the Balanced Steps site: www.balancedsteps.com