Sometimes the hardest part of a run is getting your sneakers on. You know, just finding the time and the motivation to get out and get it done. Often, that first mile just feels endless as tight muscles loosen and lungs gasp to find their rhythm. I’ve learned to endure these sensations, knowing that it’s going to get better, easier, less painful. And it does if I push through and keep going.
There’s a lesson in that which goes far beyond feet and pavement.
Many runs are less traumatic to the body. They’re just an opportunity to exercise your limbs and your muscles and they provide a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishment upon completion. I have a lot of those runs recorded in my Runmeter app. I consider them standard.
Once in a while, though, you hit a run when everything is perfect. You’re with one of the few people in the world that you enjoy running with. The weather is ideal, with a light breeze, warm sun and shade just when you need it. The air smells incredible wafting around your head with the earthy smell of the Hudson softened by the fragrance of the last of the lilacs. The path feels flat and smooth under your feet and all you can do is smile as your legs and lungs unite to set a pace as one you feel you could maintain for countless miles.
I had that kind of run yesterday – all the way to Troy
I’m still smiling.
Consistency is not my forte, but there are a couple of little customs that center around my going to sleep and waking up that I find myself doing regularly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve read myself to sleep and my nightstand always has a stack of books lying in wait. When I pick up where I’ve left off in whatever I’m reading, it feels like I’m punctuating the day and I like drifting off to sleep with someone else’s tale in my head. Sometimes it just feels good to escape my own story.
Morning brings a different ritual. I generally wake before my alarm and reach for my iPad to ease into my day with a few rounds of solitaire. I’m probably deluding myself, but I feel like it helps wake my brain up and ease into a new day.
I usually play the 3-card version because it reminds me of a family I babysat for a long time ago. The dad had taught me the game explaining that in Las Vegas a player would pay $52 for the deck of cards and then win $5 for each card removed from the board and placed in Ace through King order. Yep, I’m a real hardcore gambler!
There’s a feature to the app I use called “Daily Challenge.” Sometimes I think this particular hand is easier than a typical random deal, but I won’t complain about that – an easy daily challenge is welcome in a world where there is so much difficulty present every day. Recently, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with the daily challenge. It’s almost as if I need to win the hand to ensure that I have a good day. Not rational at all, I know, but it seems a fairly harmless way to increase the odds mentally of my having a positive day.
There are days, though, like today when I could not get the cards to cooperate no matter how many times I re-dealt that hand. I kept trying other things – moving this 9 instead of that one, choosing another way to shift a pile of cards…all to no avail. I couldn’t win.
So, I’ll make my day a good one in a different way. I’ll consider all the alternative paths I can take to feel that my day was a success, even if it means just letting go of conquering a challenge. Maybe surrendering is just another way of winning.
When I was a child I often heard about my Oma with whom my mother had a strained relationship. The complaint my mother frequently made was that Oma treated her sons and daughters very differently. Sons were useful and contributed to the family’s existence and thus were to be indulged, while daughters were primarily useful only for assistance in taking care of the boys. Even though this was one of my mother’s greatest criticisms of her own childhood, you’re probably not surprised to hear that she herself was guilty of repeating the same behavior. Habits are hard to break.
I met some family members on my trip with whom I had never before crossed paths. It’s an odd thing meeting someone you’re related to after living five decades on this planet without ever encountering them. What’s even odder is when you realize how many remarkably similar experiences you share despite not having ever known each other.
Did you know that the word “cousin” is the same in both English and German? That fact makes me smile.
My cousin and I sat across the table from one another and told the stories of our lives, our relationships, our health and our mothers. At times the thread of our conversation was so personal and intimate that it was impossible to believe we hadn’t before met. There’s never been a time when I felt so firmly that someone understood exactly what I was talking about when I shared some moments from my own mother-daughter highlight reel. Why? Because she had experienced the same sort of unhealthy situations.
Our mothers, sisters that they are, had not really grown up together since my mother is more than a decade older and had left home when she was in her early teens. Despite the lack of time the two of them shared, what they did share was their own mother and that left a mark on each of them which they in turn, left upon their own daughters.
Neither my cousin nor I ever knew our fathers. When we were sick or injured as children, often we had to seek care on our own because our mothers were unavailable to us. We each have witnessed the astonishing deception of our parent in the way they conduct themselves with other adults and children while neglecting the very children they delivered. It is uncanny.
My cousin and I responded to our mothers’ disregard for us by growing into strong and capable women. We became educated and learned to understand that our mothers are frustrated, narcissists who will never perceive our own success as anything but an affront to their own unsatisfying lives. We severed our ties to these women not to hurt them, but to protect ourselves, and we’ve struggled with allowing others into our hearts and souls after suffering the disappointment and pain of what should have been a primary relationship in our lives.
I learned that my cousin has a physical condition very much like my own – we both have extremely low heart rates and a genuine need for vigorous exercise. She runs, too. Maybe that’s how we have learned to keep our blood flowing and our hearts alive. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that meeting her has changed me. Something good has come from something less than positive. I think my ability to recognize that is what makes me fundamentally different from my mother – and like my cousin.
I know there’s some kind of Jersey saying about gym, tan and something else, but I’m a New York girl, not a New Jersey one, so my trio of activities is a bit different.
First, I took a run. In all honesty, I wasn’t too excited about getting outside again not knowing what the weather was going to bring after a morning that included heavy, wet snow. I motivated myself with the knowledge that this very day might be the only day in my entire life that I would have this opportunity. I was rewarded for my commitment to living when the sky got blue and it became warmer than it had been in days. I hit it just right.
My plan was to follow the wall around the oldest part of the city. I went in a clockwise direction, which eased me into things by beginning in a downhill direction. Keeping the wall to my right, I circled the oldest parts of this beautiful city, pausing to pet a puppy or take a photo when I found it necessary. The route took me past the hauptbahnhof, through grassy paths and across water. It was a run that will stay with me even though my running app neglected to record it.
After the run, I gave Quinn the secret code word to gain access to the hotel room, grabbed my swimsuit and went to the sauna. God, I love a sauna! That dry heat just does it for me and even though I was decidedly overdressed, I thoroughly enjoyed stretching out and taking a little time to relax. Someday I may get beyond my American puritanical sensibilities and go bare, but I’m just not there.
My final stop was the hotel bar for a beer to bring to our room. The Franziskaner Weissbier provided the perfect buzz and I’m feeling remarkably mellow. Vacation and its magical combination of getting away, yet being in the moment, is really working for me. Life is good and I know how lucky I am to have this life. Next up, yet another S – soccer. Go Bayern Munchen!
Whenever the conversation turns to city life you know that the topic of parking is going to come up. While many of us have no issue with doing a couple of laps, or even walking a few blocks from our car to our destination, there are quite a few people who absolutely will not venture somewhere without “convenient” parking. Truth.
As someone who is accustomed to considering a parking spot within a half mile of my location when in NYC to be a real find, I don’t completely understand that mindset, but as a business owner, I need to be cognizant of it. Since purchasing my Lark Street business, I’ve spent a fair amount of time eyeing the county owned parking lot a half a block from Lark Street. You know, the one between Lark and Henry Johnson on Washington Avenue that essentially is nearly empty beyond the county business day? Yeah. That one.
I’ve had conversations with the Lark Street BID, a person from the county, people from the city and someone from the parking authority. The end result: nothing. Zero progress.
Here’s the thing – some businesses in the neighborhood have promoted the evening use of that parking facility to their guests via social media. I’ve got pictures to prove it. There’s a nearby church that has a sandwich board which they place in the lot of Sundays inviting their worshippers to park in that very lot during services. Have they been given the green light by officials or are they merely rolling the dice and taking a chance?
I’m not going to lie – I’m really irked by the lack of consistency regarding both permission to park and the enforcement of the county’s policy that the lot is exclusively for county employees. It seems unfair, incredibly inefficient and it bothers me. Why is a prime asset to neighborhood businesses not being used to its potential? At a time when localities are struggling for revenue, wouldn’t it be logical to make this lot available in the evenings and on the weekends to potential customers and charge them a fair fee for the convenience?
Come on, Albany. You can and must do better.
How many pairs of jeans do you own? According to the results of a recent Google search the average American woman owns 7 pairs. Personally, I have 9 pairs, but there really are only 4 pair that are in regular rotation. I think that means I could weed out a couple of pairs out, yet I hesitate to do that because each pair serves a purpose. It’s just that their purpose may not arise with much frequency.
For instance, I have a pair of Levi’s that I bought almost 15 years ago at an outlet in Maine. They’re the most “mom” jeans that I own despite the fact that they’re men’s jeans. I’m a smaller size now and they slide down my hips without a belt, but they are my official “project” pants duly spattered with paint and broken in in a way that takes years. I’ve got to keep them.
Speaking of sizes, the variety in jeans sizing is definitely evidence of the trend in recent years to flatter women with vanity sizing. I pretty there’s a range of more 5″ in waist size between my oldest and newest jeans and, while I did lose some weight, I don’t think it was really that dramatic. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were a true standard in sizing?
According to a website that I found the average price paid for a pair of jeans is $45.32. Although that number seems a little on the low side to me, it is accurate for me and the last two pairs of jeans I purchased – a Gap pair of skinnies for $20 on super sale and the Citizen of Humanity pair I picked up at Anthropologie on super sale for $65. The latter pair is my current favorite pair and I legitimately called 3 Anthropologie stores in 3 different states trying to score an additional pair in a smaller size because they are so damn comfortable. Confession: I’m a bit obsessed with them.
How much do you typically spend on a pair of jeans? The most I’ve ever spent on jeans is about $100. It was definitely a splurge, but they were on sale at Marshall’s and I’ve had them for at least 10 years. That averages out to $10 a year – a bargain for a pair of Seven for All Mankind jeans, don’t you think?
How old is your oldest pair of jeans? Do you have a range in sizes to rival the Continental Divide? Do you have a favorite pair? What is the most money you’ve ever spent on a pair of jeans?
The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.
Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.
As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.
Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.
There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.
*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.