Marathon Training

It’s almost here. My second marathon. Honestly, never thought I’d be here. Actually, never thought I’d be at the first marathon. Which by the way, I did approach mostly with confidence..but left a bit broken and defeated, crossing the finish line much later than anticipated. However, with reflection, realized in hindsight what an incredible day it had been. So this year….it’s about “setting the record straight.”

And then came my 20 mile run last Saturday. Ugh. I was perfect, in the groove until about mile 16. The humidity was high, the temperature and dew point combined was not ideal. I had fuel, water, change of socks, support (D!). But I faded. And it brought back a bit of fear and anxiety – I don’t want to feel this again the day of the race as I reach these impending miles. I will have a chance to run the 20 miles again and have some tweaks to my nutrition that I intend on making. However, it’s my mindset, my Self that I know I need to tweak just as much if not more. And this is the real challenge. Ironically, it’s the long runs I have come to really enjoy. I have a comfortable pace, my breathing is so rhythmic, my feet supported by what feels like clouds (I LOVE my Brooks!), and I’m in my mind for a longer time. Just me. The shorter runs have become a bit more intimidating as I feel I need to push a bit harder, my breathing is more pressed, my mind a bit scattered. I suppose I feel less in control?

And maybe that’s a metaphor for my life right now. As I feel overwhelmed, pushed, compressed in a way, definitely scattered and certainly on many levels alone, I move quickly but not in a way that benefits my mind..or my body. When I take pause, literal deep breaths, read, practice yoga..when I am moving at a comfortable, yet conscious pace, I am more at peace.

What is it that makes you more at peace? Gives you peace? Fosters peace inside of you?

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Steps

Are you overcome with joy? With anger? With guilt? Resentment? Happiness? Anxiety? Panic? Contentment? Gratitude? What is it that holds you so tightly? Is it strangling your very being or is it giving you much needed breath? Does it enable you to grow or does it stifle your dreams? Does it look you in the face and lie or does it hold truth in all its spoken and unspoken words?

On the contrary, maybe you have overcome hurt, pain, illness. Maybe you have overcome a life full of shadows, emptiness, and dead-ends. Maybe you have overcome being weak. Maybe you have softened the hard edges of your untrusting self. But maybe you are still waiting to overcome that day when your knees buckled beneath you.

All of the emotions are a kaleidoscope creating colors so bright that some offend your very eyes while others offer a soothing break. With each emotion know you are taking steps. Steps. Some may be forward and some backward. But it’s movement. And such is better than standing still.

Messages

I once wrote about wishing I could go forward in time to see my boys okay – as a way of giving me peace today. Having a knowledge that in the end, it will all be okay. Lately, I have been having discussions with T, in response to his observations about his father, about life really and people. Truthfully, I have found it somewhat difficult walking a fine line between speaking negatively about his father’s actions/words and providing some clarification and lessons. As T gets older and starts to understand more I’d like to be able to offer positive words to ignite a knowingness in T that he does not have to follow his father’s path. And I speak specifically of T simply because of his recent conversations with me, but hope D hears me as well. At the moment D is muddled in between being a 17 year old, stubborn, on-the-verge-of-fleeing-the-nest-but-keeping-one-foot-cautiously-in-the-door, defiant, and yet loving and happy young man. He knows his father, but he so desperately wants his father – on the surface I don’t think D is even aware of this feeling – consciously anyway. I, as his mom, am left in a challenging corner that I have been arduously working to maneuver. Which leads me to the purpose of this post. There have been so many messages I have hoped my boys receive from me and understand and keep with them as they grow.

  1. Always hold the door open for others – not just women, but everyone. A small gesture of kindness truly can spark a light of hope in someone’s day.
  2. Be unselfish in your life. The world is bigger than you and I. Know when you do for others, you actually benefit just as much.
  3. But..remember to take care of your self. When you grow your being in a positive light, when you feed your own soul, when you treat your mind, body, and spirit as the temple it is, you will evoke happy energy.
  4. Your past does not define your future. Every single day you have a choice.
  5. Exercise. It not only strengthens your muscles, it strengthens your mind.
  6. Volunteer. Give to charity. Make a difference. And don’t forget the Starfish Story.
  7. Respect your partner. Take a deep breath and please think before you speak. Words can’t be taken back. YOU own your actions and your words.
  8. Family. Don’t ever give up on family.
  9. Truth. In your life, be truth. Speak it, show it, and model it.
  10. Be kind. Remember you have no idea what someone has gone through, what they have endured or experienced.
  11. Don’t forget to respect others and yourself. We are all human beings existing in a shared space.
  12. Don’t get caught up in the small details so much so that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
  13. Someday if you have you own children, relish in each moment, every stage of their life, plant seeds of confidence, and self-worth, and love in their hearts with your words and your actions.
  14. Go to bed every night saying “Good Night, I love You” to at least one person.

I am sure I could add more to this list and maybe someday I will. But know my beautiful boys, I love you with all my heart. Everything I am and everything I do, is because of both of you. You are my heart. You are my soul. You are my breath. Please forgive me for the mistakes I have made as your mom, but know I have tried and will always try to do and be my best for you. You are my reason.

Thought Provoking

“You don’t need her permission to be her parent.”

Last night T and I watched “Collateral Beauty” on a recommendation from a friend. The above quote was spoken by Will Smith to his friend and company partner out of disappointment. See his friend wasn’t fighting for his daughter who had openly expressed hatred towards her father for causing her parent’s divorce. This movie was filled with inspirational quotes and thought provoking statements..but this one stood out like a flashing neon light. Why? Because not only did I witness my ex-husband push our oldest son away while we were married, but I have watched this unfold and intensify since our divorce. I don’t think I could ever put into words how I feel when he hurts my boys. It’s a pain that becomes nearly unbearable. My words try to provide some insight hoping that one of these times they will stick and offer an “ah-ha” moment. Unfortunately, this does nothing but assure my ex-husband only more firmly plants his heels into the ground as though this action is somehow him proving he is no longer under my “control.” Without me “making” D visit with his dad, he hardly ever does. I backed off several months ago mostly out of exhaustion and lack of support and reinforcement from my ex-husband. And it became more and more apparent once again, that their relationship is not mine to save. But it does hurt. Their time together has dwindled. My ex-husband has repeatedly said “I’m not going to argue with him.” Somehow he misses the fact that him not assuring some time each week with his son is as good as verbally stating “I don’t care.”

If D is being disrespectful or challenging to parent, I am provided no support. He doesn’t parent. At all. And when I made that remark to him “you just drive off and don’t parent,” he simply pursed his lips, shook his head yes, and drove away.

But there’s a pattern right. My ex-husband does’t fight for much. For money he will. He feels entitled to that – money. And he does put effort into his work..but that results in more money right? Anything else though, he wants easy. Parenting is anything but. And I sure would love a co-parent. Because the more tired I become, the more I feel I default at this parenting gig. No he doesn’t need D’s permission to parent him. But he does need the desire to parent him. And somewhere along the line, after the separation and ultimate divorce, that desire, however small to begin with, burned out in a way that I can’t and probably will never understand.

 

Is There Light?

Every so often I get a glimpse of true hope. And I feel calm and optimistic. Evoking a state of “it’s all going to be okay” I settle into a place of happiness. I compare it to crossing the finish line of a hard earned race. A smile. A knowingness. Walking down the halls of work, there is a bounce quite literally in my step. I feel empowered. I feel strong. I feel balanced. I feel hopeful and excited. But here’s the catch…it fades. The light dimmers. The hope escapes me as if it had just been mocking me the whole time. I am lethargic. I feel heavy, weighted. I lack motivation. I can’t focus. I cry. And I cry. It’s like a dark circle encompasses me, holding tight. I start to question. And second guess. And feel guilt. And pain. Where is the light? The shimmer of hope?

I now know the dance well. I know the darkness doesn’t last. But it still hurts. And I still grieve. And just knowing the light exists does provide hope. But I admit, the dance is tiring. Draining. And I often wonder if it will ever be truly okay. Will I ever feel truly okay?

Sometimes, much of the time, I push forward. But in doing that, I’m avoiding. I think. It’s like a force of movement that provides momentum without thought. Holding such strong emotions means such strong emotions are holding me. I do find strength, however, in the realization that I am stronger and healthier. So I guess this dance will continue. Until the song fades away.

Wisdom (from a 7 year old)

I admit, I approached the Fourth of July, in fact the whole week, with a bit (maybe a lot?) of melancholy. Maybe it was hard to shake? But maybe I didn’t try? And you know what….I’m not so sure that is a bad thing. Why? Because I was aware, very aware of how I was feeling. And I think it’s so important to feel, to process every emotion.. even the ones that unexpectedly pop up, even the ones that don’t. Selfishly, it was hard watching families share the day together – I wanted the same. My mom’s friend commented “Oh, you have no kids today? Enjoy this time!” I couldn’t even muster a full (fake) smile to her words that were in so direct contrast to my wishes. Not too long after, my mom looked to a woman she was speaking to and asked “Is it okay that I tell her?” and then across the boat dock loudly stated “She had Stage 3 Breast Cancer!” This woman’s battle, who I did not know, my mom suddenly felt – as I sat with my brother about 10 feet away from her – should be announced to me at that moment. What??

Truthfully my mom’s energy is not one that is positive. Managing how I allow her energy to affect me can be draining in and of itself. But still I was aware. The whole day. I consciously breathed in the salt water air, felt the ocean breeze against my body, and enjoyed with a vengeance the sea salt and vinegar Cape Cod chips. My brother made us all belly laugh as is his talent. And my sweet nieces gave me so much unconditional love as I knew they would. My dearest sister-in-law and I shared a few eye rolls as she struggled (understandably so) to manage my mother’s behavior. And my father, well with each year I  have come to appreciate more and more his patience and kindness and calm way. How I wish I were more like him.

But the highlight of the day was when my 7 year old  niece looked at me and said “This is the best day ever!” We had done nothing out of the ordinary this day – boating, tubing, eating. So I curiously and somewhat perplexed asked “Why?” And quite matter-of-factly she stated “Because first, it’s Fourth of July. And.. I got to eat a cake pop and a cannoli. And I got to tube. And I got to stand there in the front of the boat.” And there in that moment all wrapped up in my beautiful, wisdom-full niece was gratitude and mindfulness and love. It quite literally stopped me, gave me pause. I am so happy I was present for that gift.

The Fourth

I do love everything about the Fourth of July. From parades to cookouts to the red, white, and blue to the fireworks. I love love fireworks. But this year is different. My boys decided to spend the holiday with their father. With their grandparents, cousins, aunt, and uncle. And their father’s girlfriend. If I told you my heart is hurting, it’d be an understatement. It’s a physical space I once shared with them…to be honest, I’m feeling somewhat replaced. My oldest was allowed to bring his girlfriend and as a result was in his glory. And T..well T just goes with the flow. But me, being without them on my favorite holiday pains me. It’s so incredibly opposite of all that I wanted. And this emptiness can feel suffocating. The tug of emotions. Happy for them and for their father to have this time with them…especially D who rarely spends time with his father. And I am happy for my (ex) in-laws for they love having their family together. Yet, the core of me is sad. And I get that may be selfish. And I get that time marches on. And I get that it’s been nearly five years. But family is in my heart. It’s in my being. And I don’t think any amount of time will change that for me.

So today I will spend time with my parents, my brother, and his family. And I will give my three precious nieces a few extra hugs today. Their ever relentless love for me will somehow soothe my shaking soul I know. And will keep me from just curling up in a ball, crying myself into a defeated sleep to wake to a reality that will shock me once again. I know chances are each stumble, each fall, will only act to strengthen me in the end. And I am fighting to stay clear, to stay strong, and true. This Fourth of July is different yes. But I think it just may be a turning point.