Simplest of Things…

It’s truly amazing how we get so caught up in our daily activities that we can miss some of the simplest, yet greatest, moments in life. So many schedules to keep and meetings to attend. It is difficult to stop and smell the roses, if I am allowed to be cliché for a moment. Now, I realize this is much easier for me to say this now, because I don’t have as much of a strict schedule for a bit. But, I have noticed how having extra time in the morning with the kids, and not being so rushed, allows me to actually enjoy what is easily the most stressful part of my day normally. Not having so many emails to tend to at home, has allowed me to put my phone down more than I have in the last two years, and actually talk more to the kids. Watch shows and movies that I always wanted to, read…a book I actually want to read, with adult plots and sentence structure. It has allowed me to take time for me, to be alone with my thoughts. To write, to paint, to make lists of things I haven’t had the courage to do but always wanted to. 🙂 It has freed me up to enjoy a dance party in the living room for an additional 10 minutes, which in kid land, is like a good year or so. They actually told me they wanted to stop before I wanted to.

I hope that when I find what is coming my way, I will remember that. I will remember to take an extra minute in the morning to watch the kids sleep so peacefully. I will take the extra time to explain to the kids what words like “buttface” mean without getting irritated. I hope I will set the alarm15 minutes earlier than needed so I can have conversations before rushing out the door to live our lives apart for the next 9 hours. Maybe I will allow myself a night a month, or God forbid a week, where I watch crappy tv, because it is just a guilty pleasure that helps your mind unwind. And I hope I will remember how important it is to make time to work out and not feel guilty about it, because that is one of the biggest things that is helping me stay sane right now.

It is interesting how being thrown into a situation, where I have time to smell the roses, has allowed me to take in so much more. The smell is just the tip of the iceberg. The essence of the flower is so much sweeter. I hope I remember that too.

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Music on the Drive…

In the car on the ride to school this morning, I decided to put on some of mommy’s music instead of the music the boys like. An experiment of sorts. After they repeatedly asked for Gagnam Style and Moves Like Jagger, I asked them to just hold on for a few minutes. Sam Smith, ‘Stay With Me’ was the first song I played. After the first few notes, there were no more protests from the back seat. As we got to the chorus, I peeked back and I see my oldest singing along. I asked him, “Bub…how do you know this song?” “Mommy likes this song.” He said. Beautiful. Soon they both were swaying to the beat and we all had smiles.

“What’s next mommy?” They innocently ask. Secretly hoping, I am sure, that it was Olaf singing. The next song, that came up in the shuffle of my running mix, DMX. Heck yes. Flash back to high school, gets me all fired up during a workout. I hesitated for a minute and then thought, I will let them hear it. They don’t hear rap much. I was worried about the swearing, but they won’t understand most of it, I justified to myself.

I watched in my rearview mirror as I was driving to see their reaction. My youngest, the most unsuspecting one, started moving to the beat. My oldest, put on a smug face and starting bopping his head. Hilarious. They like it. They started mouthing like they were rapping and I was cracking up. I thought…these moments are ones I will remember long after they are old enough to understand how inappropriate it is for me to let them listen to DMX before school at their age. But it was so much fun. And it took my mind off all the chaos, if only for a minute.

Now, if I get a note home from either of their teachers saying they were rapping or saying inappropriate things from the damn DMX song, I will have no idea where that came from. 😉

Something (crazy) Intimidating…

I have decided that I am going to do something (almost) every day that either scares me, intimidates me, something I have been putting off or just have always said I don’t have time to do. No time like now, right? So, for today, I am going to do something that scares the shit out of me. Talk about myself. And (gasp) my body.

This morning, as my children were giving me the most amazing morning hugs, my oldest felt my belly and said, “mommy has a big belly.” My first instinct was to be upset, tell him that isn’t nice to say. And then, I decided to ask him what he meant, after all I was assuming I knew how he meant that comment. “Well, yes. Mommy has a bigger tummy than you. I have lived many years more, and had two babies. Do you think a big belly is a bad thing?” At this point, I am nervous for the answer. Rejection from my children seems unbearable right now. “No. Mommy belly. I love you.” Wow. Astute. Started me thinking. At 5, he is noticing differences in bodies , but he has no judgment of it…at least not yet.

But as I replay that, short and yet powerful, conversation in my head, I keep thinking. I tell my kids they are awesome. All the time. Like my parents told me. And I mean it, as I am sure they did. However, I still grew up hating my body. All of it. Wasn’t one piece I liked. Why? I am sure some of it was from the media and the pictures I had in my head of beauty. But also, I think it was how I saw other people, specifically women, treating themselves and their bodies. My parents, my extended family, my friends, my friends families – people say different things to other people than they do themselves. They love other people more than they love themselves. And, I think we have proven over and over, that we learn more from observing and experiencing than by telling. Diets, makeup, money on hair and nails, all for the pursuit of beauty. For who? Others or themselves? Better hair, not eating that amazing piece of pie, does that really make you a better you?

For my entire life, I have been ashamed of my body, of my appearance. After having my kids, I decided I wanted to be able to run around with them and lift them and be there for them for a long time to come, so I started working out more. I ran more regularly, started paying attention to what I ate. I was also chasing two small children around so that helped. I ran in my first 5k after my sons. Got my mile time down to under 10 minutes. Awesome things I am proud of. But even as I did that, and as, over the span of two years, I lost over 60 pounds, I still chastised myself and my appearance. Now, I will say, I am happier with myself now than I was, but still look at myself in the mirror and find flaws. So, what will my children learn about that? Most likely, the exact opposite of what I want them to learn and do to themselves. I work hard to be healthy and to feel good, have confidence, but no matter how hard I work, it doesn’t seem to be good enough. I am ashamed of this realization. I am teaching them that beauty is the flaws they see in the mirror.

Over the last year, I have started cross training a bit. Lifting more, working on building muscle tone. I have gained about 8-10 pounds back. I have been trying to not let this bother me, as weight (somewhere in the recesses of my mind) is directly correlational with health and beauty. Silliness. I am in the best shape of my life, I can run and play with my kids, I, most days, pay attention to what I eat and I am trying to teach my kids those lessons. They like to be active. They ask me when I am going to go on a run. They want to walk on the trail with me and do my Nike Cross Training app with me when I do it. They love my body the way it is, because it is me and they love me. So, today, I am sharing pictures of my body. Of me. Scares the hell out of me but I will, hopefully, feel empowered. I have come a long way, still have a long way to go. But if I don’t embrace myself and my imperfections, then my children surely will never learn to do that for themselves. Beauty is strength. Is fighting when you are tired, and holding others up when they are down. Beauty is being able to love who we are – flaws and all.

So…here it is. Me. I am bearing it all. My thoughts…and my body. Because if I don’t love all of who I am, no one else can. And people should love themselves. Everyone should embrace who they are, where they have come, where they are going. Their strength, their fight, their ambition. Flaws make us what we are, individuals. We are perfect in our imperfections. And I certainly want my children to see themselves as perfect…humbly of course. 🙂

Be loud…

In my life, the times I have felt most isolated were those times when I was made to feel less than I am because I was different. Different for standing up for myself and others. For showing any bit of strength when all people wanted me to do was follow the crowd. For being loud when I was expected to be quiet. Different for knowing that fitting in with the crowd wasn’t always what it was cracked up to be. (I may have also liked my pink suede jacket a little too long than anyone should and I specifically remember thinking that there was no way the hair color “Blue Black” from Revlon would ever NOT be a really solid choice.) I don’t think society always does this intentionally. We are taught to fear what we don’t recognize and what we don’t know.  However, when you think about it, the whole idea that being different and owning it is somewhat less than desirable, is just ridiculous and asinine.

Individuality and originality, standing strong through turmoil and questioning status quo, is how great things are created and awesomeness is born. I feel like in the last few years, I am struggling to get back to the point where I just don’t give a shit. Where, like a child, I love and respect who I am. (I mean that pretty loosely, because obviously, I give too many shits most of the time.) But, it takes a crazy amount of strength to figure out, and to be, who we really are in a world full of people just trying to fit in. It takes courage to try to find your place in life and not wait for someone to tell you where you fit.

I was recently reminded of the Steve Jobs quote about applauding the crazy ones, (the round pegs in the square holes, or vice versa…you get the point,) and as I am currently questioning my life choices, because I feel like I haven’t conformed, I have questioned the status quo, I am thinking about that quote a lot. And others, like the one above. (Let’s be real, I am most likely over thinking, but I digress.) Standing up for ourselves and others and what we believe in should be applauded, respected. Having the strength to give the middle finger to society and decide it doesn’t matter that I don’t conform, because I am damn proud of who I am and how far I have come, is awesome. Is crazy. Is how life becomes worth living.

So what that I listen to KNOTB in my car at really high volumes when I am driving to do really mundane things. Who cares that sometimes, I still rock a side pony, the way we did in elementary school, not the fashionable way the kids are wearing them now. I still do the electric slide in my living room while dancing with the kids, so what? And, ya know what, I would wear that pink suede jacket right now if I still fit into the damn thing. So what…don’t judge me. All those things make me who I am. And in a world that is trying to tell us over and over that it is safe and wise to conform…I like to feel a little bit like a rebel.

The Epic Adventures of Mr Fly

When the weather started getting nice enough to have the doors open, and the flies started multiplying like crazy, they all came rushing in to my house. They quickly learned and spread the word to their little fly friends that there was a place where there was an open door and crumbs on the floor as far as the eye could see. (Certain little people, who shall remain nameless, have the tendency to leave the door open and are constantly dropping food.)

The kids named the first flies that got ‘trapped’, most likely willingly, in the house. The first two were Mr. Fly and Mrs. Fly. They wouldn’t let me swat at them because “they are our friends mom!” Now, I put up with this mostly because I had said no to every pet they asked for over the last year. I am not heartless. However, I did not have the heart to tell them that flies don’t live long and that there were probably more than two flies. I also didn’t have the heart to tell them that the fly swatter came out after they went to bed and those poor suckers didn’t stand a chance.

So, this lasted all summer. Eventually Mrs. Fly was forgotten. I tried not to take that personally, like the female fly wasn’t strong enough to survive? Come on boys, have I taught you nothing?? 🙂 But Mr. Fly stayed alive and kept kicking. Any time we would see a fly; in the car, outside, in the house, it was always Mr. Fly, their buddy. Apparently he is a survivor, a terminator bug. He has an epic life span and has super fly powers.

Up until recently, I thought it was funny, and of course really cute. The kids talk to Mr. Fly, say hi, blah blah blah. Now, it felt kind of like it was with Lassie, no one ever knows how many actors have played Mr. Fly; they all look the same. I assumed it was many flies rotating into the role.

Eventually I started thinking of stories. Mr. Fly is a super hero fly. At night he would protect the house from the villainous fruit flies that were attacking our bananas. He would find the wicked spiders trying to infiltrate after the sun went down, and he absolutely hates the crickets. Arch enemies, Mr. Fly and Mr. Cricket. When we do see a bug in the house, Mr. Fly either let them in and they are our friends…or he is just slacking on the job.

Now, that it is getting colder and the flies aren’t as abundant, we still have one singular fly in the house. I mean, I assumed it was more than one, but I never see more than the one at a time. I have tried swatting it, and he is freaking fast. And he hides…very good at hide and seek. So, I have given up trying to catch him. He wins. He can stay.

I am wondering, are the stories really true? Maybe he is a super hero fly. Maybe he will be with us all winter, watching over us to make sure the bugs don’t come in and take over. Mr. Fly, keeping us safe from the treacherous killer bugs.

Or, maybe it is really Mrs. Fly after all. 🙂

Legos and the Zest for Life

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As I sit here, in the quietness of the midnight hour, staring at my son’s Legos on the counter, I am contemplating…when do we lose that wonder we are born with? The boys exude it. It just seeps from their pores. Everything is so passionate and emotional. They get a new notebook to color in and they may as well have just won the lottery. Their brother knocks into them while wrestling, and they are literally on the verge of death. The wonder and amazement they attack each day with is admirable. They don’t even think about the next moment or the next day or, God forbid, the next year. They live in the now. In the very moment they are living. They allow themselves to enjoy every second of every day. They don’t apologize for their emotions or their passion. They don’t notice or care what any one else thinks or says…just ask anyone at Target when I tell them we don’t have time to go to the toy isle. But, at some age, some arbitrary time in life, they learn to abandon this. And instead, replace that wonder with anxiety and conformity. It is really amazing.

I find myself some times, when I am trying to teach one of them to listen to their parents, if I am actually just sucking the wonder out. 🙂 I know they need to learn rules and they need to understand when to listen and when to be free and that is difficult. But I struggle as a parent. I want to raise creative and passionate people who aren’t afraid to feel real emotions and get swept away in them from time to time. We seem to have so little of that these days. But, where is that line? I don’t know the answer to that…and I suppose no parent does. But as I struggle to think of the story line that goes along with the Star Wars Lego set my oldest has so carefully put together, I think…it would take him all of two seconds to tell me exactly what was happening. And it would be amazing and I would believe him. I appreciate and envy his imagination and bravery. And I vow, right now, to try to add more of that into my own life every day and to not apologize for it.

Dreams

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We all have dreams. Dreams of who we are, of who we want to be, of what we feel we are, deep in our core. Much of this is wrapped up in things that define us. Our family, our partners, our friends, our children, our jobs, our bills, our education, our love, our fears. And there is a plan in our heads of how to get there and what path to take to deliver us right to where we are destined to be. There also seems to be some arbitrary age where we are supposed to have it all figured out. One day we are just going to wake up and KNOW. Who we are, why we are here, our next steps. It will all make sense.

Life is a bitch though. Constant battles. Good and bad. Growing is continual. You get comfortable, and then life is like…no, no…and sends you another opponent. And as I fight through the battles; jabbing and dodging, catching my breath, I am realizing that I am learning. Perhaps I will never get to a place where I am meant to stay. Because maybe we aren’t meant to stay in one place. With each blow I receive through life, I somehow manage to stand up and start the clock again. Life isn’t ringing the victory bell yet. And with every fight, I get stronger…so life better watch out. 🙂

So…maybe I am there? That place…where I am supposed to be. I am right here. Fighting, chasing, resting, laughing, crying, recovering, dreaming. It never stops. And for that, I am starting to understand, I am grateful.