As my vacation approaches, I find myself getting most excited by the thought of having hours and hours to fill (or not) any way I please. These last few weeks have been joyfully hectic with fun events, long runs and mini escapes, all very carefully penciled into my already impressively full calendar. I’m ready to get away.
Prior to jetting out, there’s a neighborhood association social, wine academy, a party over at the new Biergarten, a date with my someone special and, of course, some packing, that need to happen. I’m confident it’s all going to come to pass, but I do wish it was a bit more spread out. I’d like to savor each of those things instead of survive them, you know? Reality, though, is a bitch and I’m doing my best to keep up, ok?
I don’t think a single day goes by without someone saying to me “I don’t know how you do it. School Monday – Friday, the restaurant 5 nights a week, the three children, miles of running, the house to maintain, the blog, the…” Well, you know what? Sometimes I don’t know how I do it either.
Here’s what I do know, though – if I spent any real time counting the hours in a week that I work versus the hours in a week that I sleep, I’d probably be really tired. If I didn’t love what I’m doing, none of it would be possible. The support I receive from my loved ones and employees is the thread that helps me to keep things together. And all that running? That’s what keeps me strong and sane. Honestly, other than my previous request for two additional hours a day, there’s nothing I’d want to change. Living life, to me, is better than sleeping through it.
What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? – Mary Oliver
Filed under aging, Albany, Events, family, Lark Street, musings, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation
A number of weeks ago one of the lunar b*tches sent me information about a race she said she “wanted to work towards.” Because this is the year I turn 50 and I’m committed to challenging myself in as many new ways as possible, I replied that we should do it – this year. At the time, registration for the Mother’s Day race was being offered at a reduced price, which only increased the appeal of a twelve-mile trail run with ~3500 ft of elevation. We both signed up.
Since that time, I’ve been reading and talking about the Seven Sisters and have gotten a bit nervous about the event. I’ve read about the high incidence of injuries (broken ankles seem prevalent) and have seen the discrepancy between the number of runners who start the race and those who finish the course. As I learn more about the race, my only available response is to make a concerted effort to work harder to prep train. Here’s what I’m working on…
For the first time since 2014, I took my road bike out for a spin a couple of weekends ago and got in a decent ride. I ran out of time and couldn’t complete my usual 20+ mile loop, but I think I got 16 or 17 miles in and I enjoyed it. Winning.
I went for a hike recently – something I seriously haven’t done in years. It was about 7 miles with some clambering and I really enjoyed it. There were some gorgeous views and my childhood love of the woods remains true. I want to do more hiking this summer and hope to convince the Lilly boys to join me. I’ll let you know how that goes!
This past weekend I ran my longest distance ever – nearly 15 miles. The loop I ran was phenomenal with more downhill than uphill and I really loved the 2.5 hours I spent on my feet. No, really, I kept thinking about how the best gift I ever give to myself is time outdoors. How lucky am I to be able to indulge that passion by walking out my door to cycle, hike or run?
In the next 6 weeks I’ll be doing more long runs, hikes and rides, as well as spending some time on vacation probably doing a lot less. We’ll call that tapering. On May 8th I’ll be on that trail doing my best to complete a challenging course with a terrific friend and without injury. Maybe you can have a mimosa for me? Better make that two, one for each of us.
Looking backwards I can’t remember exactly when my chest began to develop. If I consider when I began to get genuine attention from males, I could probably carbon date it to somewhere around the age of 13 or so. It was right around the time I ran into my mother in town and she told me it was time to wear a bra. Puberty is so damn awkward.
For years my breasts were my not-so-secret weapon. Unbuttoning an extra button gave me power. They were an accessory to be considered when I shopped for clothing and got dressed. Would they fit decently into a halter or a flimsy top? Wrangling them could be a challenge at times, particularly during the years when my weight was at its highest and I was sporting a bra size that exceeded my age with a cup that had moved into double letter territory.
The consolation, of course, was that my breasts had grown into something more than mere evidence of my femininity – they were now a source of sustenance for my children. I spent a combined nearly 4 years nursing my babies, truly one of the greatest feats of the human body, in my opinion. I still miss those days all these years later.
About 5 years ago I lost a substantial amount of weight. I can’t say exactly how much, because I wasn’t recording my weight and the number of pounds wasn’t really on my radar. I can say that my wardrobe took a huge hit as more and more of my clothing no longer fit. As I began to shop and rebuild my closet, I couldn’t help but notice that the shape of my body had changed dramatically. I now had entirely different options with regards to clothing since I was now sporting a significantly smaller rack. Sundresses worn without a bra became an option for the first time in decades. Pretty underthings were suddenly a possibility and running no longer felt like an exercise in containment with regards to my chest. There was a new freedom and I loved it. But…
Sometimes when I am layering up with Under Armour in advance of a run, I can’t help but notice that my chest looks downright flat. I know it is, in part, the compression from multiple layers of Lycra, but it still leaves me feeling almost as if I’ve returned to my pre-pubescent state. I’m okay with that. Bodacious was fun but not bouncing is even better.
My oldest child turned nineteen this weekend. I think the child that makes a man or a woman a parent is the child who is more closely observed, documented and measured than any additional children. As a family expands, it just isn’t possible to continue the almost obsessive attention that is paid to a first child. When there are two or three other humans demanding that their needs be fulfilled, things like growth charts become extraneous.
The literature suggests that first born children have a lot of pressure upon them to perform and I can concur on that. As far as my own child goes, he eventually internalized the demands he felt from his parents, teachers and early intervention providers. He now (self) imposes a timeline of expectations, and what he considers necessary progress, even more rigorous than the one promoted by the medical experts we felt so wed to when Liam was an infant and toddler and receiving services designed to help him catch up to his peers.
But, what if it isn’t really a race? What if we each reach the next step on our path in precisely the amount of time we’re supposed to? Maybe all those expected outcomes and definitions of normal are more generalizations than a reality for which to strive. From my vantage point of nearly fifty years old, it seems perfectly clear that life and how we experience it, is more individualized than something that can be easily plotted on a growth chart or measured in expectations and achievements.
As my son begins his last year as a teenager all I want for him is acceptance of who and where he is in life – his own acceptance, that is. I’d like for him to understand that it really doesn’t matter how many classes he takes or how quickly he progresses through college. It doesn’t make a difference if he is on par with his cohort; it’s his journey and no one else’s. Milestones may be indicative of progress but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to weigh a person down.
Yesterday my youngest son turned 11. I wish I could remember exactly what time of day he was born, but it’s honestly kind of a blur. I think that happens once you have more than two children, some of the specific details no longer stick. In complete honesty, I sometimes have to pause to recall if his birthday is the 5th or the 9th of February. I guess I’ll never win Mother of the Year, but I do think I have a shot at Mother of the Day based upon my efforts yesterday.
The morning started with the scent of chocolate chip/ M&M cookies baking. You know what? Everyone should wake up on their birthday to a warm kitchen and the smell of freshly baked cookies. Quinn had Nutella crepes for breakfast, his favorite and he loved the Gryffindor scarf I had bought for him. When he left the house for school, he kissed me goodbye and thanked me for a “wonderful” morning. Pretty sweet, right?
I went to Quinn’s school a short while later to join his class for a field trip to the Albany Institute of History and Art. I know that my chaperoning days are coming to a close and felt really fortunate that he wanted me to attend. We rode the bus together and I think I succeeded in providing my son with special attention while also giving him his space, a balancing act which becomes more challenging as a child grows. The exhibit was nicely done and the activities were active and hands on, perfect for a group of 5th graders. It was a nice day.
Our big plan for the evening was dinner out. Quinn has a thing for Korean barbeque and had been anticipating gorging on dumplings for days. We trucked up to Colonie, hungry and excited for a special meal, but were disappointed to see that the restaurant was closed. I had never even considered that possibility! We sat in the car laughing about our luck and I was incredibly impressed with Quinn’s ability to join in the mirth and indulge his brothers as they teased him about his misfortune. After a moment’s consideration, Quinn decided that Chinese would hit the spot and we turned around and headed towards Ocean Palace, placing our order as we took the long, leisurely drive back down Central Avenue.
Our indulgent order (Peking Duck, squid with salt and pepper, beef chow fun, 2 orders of steamed dumplings, Chinese broccoli with ginger sauce and sesame chicken) took about 45 minutes to prepare, leaving us with about 25 minutes to kill. That much time simply waiting can be deadly, but my sons were remarkably chill about the entire dinner fiasco. There wasn’t a moment of complaining or whining or kvetching and I was left feeling ridiculously proud of their good natured flexibility. My boys are growing up.
PS – Dinner, as always, was great. Happy Year of the Monkey, y’all!
Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, Dinner, Eating, family, favorites, Food., Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized
I’m a little ashamed for thinking, much less saying, this but … I really kind of detest the science fair. It isn’t because science isn’t really my thing, or that I’m opposed to exploring a topic of interest, it’s just that it turns into so much work without much reward. It’s hard to be excited about a process that comes with as many demands as a science experiment. Eh, maybe it’s just me.
Part of the science fair process involves observations which must be documented. In the spirit of research, I’ve got a few observations to share from my weekend. They’re in no particular order.
- I’m not a bad feminist because I like Bernie more than I like Hillary.
- The same is true when it comes the fact that I think it’s ok for a woman to want to look pretty when she leaves the house.
- A winter walk with a friend and the dogs at the golf course makes for a perfect afternoon.
- On a related note, lipstick has become my friend in a way it wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
- Wearing a hat can be a real act of bravery. I’m not talking about a baseball cap, I mean a more bold chapeaux – something in a vivid colored felt or a generously proportioned straw number.
- I don’t completely understand why folks get so uptight about getting older. I kind of think of adding years like putting another notch in my lipstick* case. It’s an accomplishment.
- Recently, Delaware Avenue has been interesting to walk on, but scary to drive on. People really need to slow the hell down and stop being so aggressive behind the wheel.
- In theory, I love brunch. What’s not to like about day drinking and someone other than me cooking and serving a meal? In reality, though, I just don’t have time for day drinking and a big meal midday. Maybe on vacation?
- I thought the ribs I made on Saturday were pretty banging until I ate ribs at Jay and Karen’s. Never mind.
- I’ve got an idea for this year’s science fair which just might be fun. I’d say more but don’t want anyone co-opting our experiment. Hint: it involves soda.
*what’s my obsession with lipstick?
Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, moms, Observations, Random, Schools, Uncategorized, winter
Despite this snow-less winter, Jeter and I have been spending a lot of time at the golf course. Instead of skiing, though, we run over trails and on paths which I’ve never explored before without my skis. It’s been a good consolation for a frustrated cross country skier and a dog who loves water, be it liquid or powder.
The route we’ve been taking to the golf course varies but a favorite path is the yellow brick road. There’s something about that road, whether I’m going up or down it, which inspires me to be optimistic and positive. I mean, that brick was covered by asphalt yet has still managed in places to break through and remind the observant of its presence. To me, it’s like the sun refusing to allow the clouds to prevent it from radiating. It never fails to lift my spirits and motivate me to invite the good stuff to come out, to allow my inner light to shine. To be love, shall we say?
It isn’t always easy to commit to freely sharing the good stuff. In all honesty, it’s kind of a new state of being for me and I have moments when I struggle with releasing the gifts of my soul without mentally measuring the anticipated return. I think it’s human nature to consider and weigh the risks involved with giving love to the universe without any expectation, don’t you? Allowing one’s self to be open and vulnerable is scary as hell, but you know what? There’s no punishment in this world for loving too much and, when I think about those crumbling yellow bricks peeking through the black top designed to cover them up, I feel brave. I’m going to let it shine.