On the joy of tailoring….

102815673-io_Joy_standard.530x298

Isn’t it interesting how we can talk such big games, but when it comes to implementing our own advice in our own lives, we suddenly become…all talk?

Well, that’s how I feel sometimes.

The topic of joy came up recently in one of the mom’s group I’m a part of on Facebook (even better, I’m friends IN REAL LIFE with a lot of the women in that group. It’s a wonderful feeling). And I offered this advice: Think about what brings you joy and do/eat/be/drink that.

It got me thinking about the things that bring me joy. And I’m not talking about my husband or my daughter or even my dogs. All those beings bring me joy like I can’t explain. I feel joy being my husband’s wife. I feel joy being my daughter’s mother. I feel joy being my puppies “forever home”.

I’m talking about the part of me that just me. No other responsibilities. No other people to worry about. Just me.

And the list is short. Not because I don’t find joy in lots of things, but because the things I find joy in bring me an almost uncomfortable amount of joy. Uncomfortable in the sense that my heart feels like it’s going to explode, I’m so happy. Even just thinking about these things makes me giddy!

I love to dance and I love to sing.

I was a ballroom dancer for several years, but when I got married, I moved away from my studio, my teachers, my partners and have yet to find a new place to really get my groove on. Then we moved to a tiny town and had a baby and there’s just no way to fit dancing in right now…time and finances are tight when there’s a little one around. But, oh my god, the insane levels of joy I experience when I get to dance! I love to Salsa like a pregnant girl loves to each cake. Swing just makes my old soul smile. Tango is a wickedly sexy dance (that I kind of suck at, but still enjoy). Viennese Waltz holds a special piece of my joy. But Foxtrot? Oh, that’s where my heart soars! The music, the long, twirly dresses, the spinning, everything! I want to do it all, all the time. I’m the girliest of girls, so feeling all “princessy” just makes me go sort of crazy. I miss dancing.

And I miss singing. I used to sing all the time…at church, at home, at bars, in a studio. If there was an opportunity for me to sing, I took it! I’m not the best at it (I can think of several people right now that are lightyears ahead of my talent), but I’m good. And I love it. I’ve sort of been silenced in the last couple years. Some of that silence as been my own choice. Having a baby doesn’t lend itself well to going out for karaoke nights every weekend like I used to. Not living in my home state means that I don’t get random emails anymore asking me to pop over and do some tracks.

I’m also the kind of person that tends to want what she can’t have. So maybe if I could dance and sing all the time, it wouldn’t bring me as much joy? I doubt it. I have some references if you need proof of how much I truly love those things.

But I’m learning to find joy in adjusted situations. I’m learning to tailor my personal joys around my current circumstances. I dance with my daughter around our living room. My husband sometimes twirls me around the kitchen or in the rain. I sing lullabies to my baby to help her sleep.

So these things, these activities, that have been mine for so long, well, they’re still mine, but I’m sharing them with my other joys. And in doing so, I’m hopeful I’m imprinting a small part of my soul on theirs. I’m hopeful that in the years to come, my daughter will have some fleeting memory of a song she knows, but doesn’t quite know where from. Or that my husband, in a million years, will think back and see me young and fresh in a swirly dress, dancing to Sinatra.

On making the right investments….

coffee

So I use this website – http://www.blogher.com – to help me figure out what I should write about (when I actually get around to writing). This month, the theme is BALANCE. Oh, how timely the theme.

Balance is something I’ve almost always struggled with. Well, emotional/mental/spiritual balance that is. Physically, I’ve pretty much always been on my balance game. Anyway…that’s not the point.

I always seem to throw myself fully (or at least, mostly) in to one thing while foregoing all the other important pieces of my life. As an adult, that’s been a really hard habit to break. I tend to go all in and then wear myself out very quickly. I get exhausted of life easily which results in me just sitting and staring into whatever abyss I can find.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that I have to be incredibly intentional about devoting time to myriad activities: my daughter, my husband, myself, my friends, all at once, and all separately. What I’m learning is that it’s hard to be passionate about anything when I’m completely drained of everything. I have a deep and overwhelming desire to be passionate about something, but my body, heart, and spirit have been incredibly taxed.

And I think that’s due, in large part, to not taking the time to work on me. I’ve felt myself not just plateauing in the last couple years, but also backsliding. It’s the silly cross I bear, being that I have both an addictive and lazy personality.

So while I don’t really do the whole “New Year’s Resolutions” thing, I’m happy to go about it this year. It’s started well. I’m going back to the gym on the regular with a a girl friend. I’m writing and readying with more intention. I’m going to make a concerted effort to put away my devices while I’m with my family. I’ve even stopped buying “car candy” (which was maybe the hardest thing to do).

Basically, I need to start re-investing in all the facets of life that make me, me. Because empty cups tend to get dirty and boring and useless. A cup is there to be used, to drink from, and to refill. So I’m choosing to refill my cup this year.

On owning it….

10846404_10154951720565436_1658681843127848794_n

Tomorrow at 6:40am will mark the close of what has been (and likely will be, for some time) the hardest year of my life.

Who knew that a 7-pound-5.6-ounce creature could do that to a grown up?

It doesn’t matter how much you read or learn or ask. It doesn’t matter how much advice you seek out (or are given, solicited or not). There is no way to prepare for parenthood. Nothing is as it seems.

From the very beginning, from the moment I found out I was pregnant, absolutely nothing was as I expected it to be.

I didn’t have any weird cravings. I never got morning sickness. I don’t have stretch marks (save the tiny, but fading ones where Godzilla stretched her feet out against me, a thing she still does rather routinely). I didn’t get enormous breasts. My feet swelled only a little and are now back down to their original size. My water broke before contractions started which should have meant a long, painful labor, but instead – from start to finish – it was only 8 hours and 40 minutes…and it didn’t hurt nearly as badly as I was told it would or as I was expecting it to (don’t get me wrong here. It hurt like hell and is an indescribable pain).

That’s where the good stuff ended.

Godzilla literally came screaming in to the world and didn’t stop…for days. I thought it was normal (we all think something is normal when we’ve never done it before). I couldn’t breastfeed for the life of me (or my daughter) and when I did, it was excruciating. We didn’t get the hang of it for nearly five months. She didn’t gain weight at a “normal” rate. In fact, she lost weight – a lot of it – and then didn’t gain more than an ounce or two for several months. My recovery was a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Again, I thought it was normal. It wasn’t. Not exactly. Godzilla did far more damage to me than I initially knew. My doula wouldn’t even give me the complete stats on my labor and delivery until well after I was healed. Which took nearly 12 weeks. On top of that, I had some weird “other stuff” happen during recovery which needed to be chemically burnt off. Twice. I wasn’t cleared for physical activity for ten weeks and for someone who loves to be active, this was a pretty huge set-back. The sailor and I were fighting (or at least bickering) on a near-constant basis. That’s just not like us. Not really. Not that often. And then one final blow: I was diagnosed with post-partum depression.

That’s when the bad stuff ended.

I met with my midwife (at the behest of the sailor, who made the appointment for me and held my hand during all of it) and she said to me something I’ll never forget: “If it’s not normal for you, it’s not normal.” So we talked and she wrote me a prescription for some tiny blue pills. And things started to get better. My body started healing. I started going back to yoga (with Godzilla in tow). Breastfeeding got easier. Godzilla started sleeping and stopped the constant screaming. I was able to laugh and joke with my closest friends about the simultaneous hell and joy that is motherhood. The sailor and I stopped bickering as much (he still loads the dishwasher wrong).

Basically everything was the opposite of what I expected it to be.

But if someone were to ask me (and I’ve been asked a number of times) if I would do this again, the answer is an unflinching, “Absolutely!” I can’t wait to be pregnant again! I love being pregnant! Of all the expectations I had about pregnancy and motherhood, probably the most shocking is how in love with my body I have become. For someone that has struggled with body image issues for as long as I have, this still surprises me. It surprises me for a number of reasons. Because I’m not faking it. Because I’m not saying it because it’s the “cool” thing to do. Because I believe it to the very core of who I am. Because when I’m asked why I love being pregnant so much, I can answer with conviction, “Because I’m a badass.”

Of all the things that have played into my post-partum depression, my body image isn’t one of them. Yeah, I want to lose the last ten pounds of baby weight (or really, twenty pounds), but that’s so I can fit in my clothes again. I have some pretty fabulous threads. And buying all new ones? Not really in the financial cards. Nothing short of a miracle happened inside my body. As Kerry Washington said: “My body is the site of a miracle now.” And it’s true. Once a baby has been born of you, there’s no going back to a “pre-baby body”. It’s just not possible. And I am 100% okay with that.

Here lies and wakes and eats and sleeps and feeds and binge-watches and changes diapers and cries and laughs and makes caustic jokes and fights and loves and hopes for the next shrine to a miracle.

On misplacing my sanity….

There’s nothing quite like motherhood to make you realize your gross inadequacies. Over the last week or so, it seems like everything has come to a head, but the last two days have been complete madness.

Nothing seems to be going right.

I have something weird going on with my foot that I need to get looked at which
Makes it impossible to run right now which
Makes it really hard to lose the last 10-15lbs of baby weight which
Bums me out and makes me want to eat cookies which
Makes me need to make cookies (and roasted pumpkin seeds) but
My oven literally ignited yesterday because
I made meatloaf the night before (which I never do and it sucked) and the grease dripped out of the pan so
When the oven lit on fire, I cursed and then tossed water on it which
Was a terrible idea because grease (duh).
Then the baby woke up a 4:55am and proceeded to spend the next hour kicking, punching, smacking, scratching ,and screaming until…

I completely lost my sh*t. 

I changed her diaper with more force than was necessary, stomped her down to our bedroom, left her with Daddy, stormed back up to the guest room, and slammed the door as hard as I could, all the while trying not to let loose with a barrage of language that would make even my sailor blush.

The day never got much better. The baby face planted into a pile of pinecones and cut her tiny nose. In an effort to make up for being such a jerk to her, I gave her a warm cookie and wound up with tiny, chocolate handprints all over the couch. We’re back to violent nursing sessions so my nipples are close to bleeding (again). I realized I’ve forgotten to take my PPD meds for, like, a week. And instead of choosing a healthy lunch (which was an actual goal today), I’ve eaten cookie dough, chocolate covered almonds, and coffee.

Frankly, none of these things (except maybe the obviously unnecessary anger at my daughter) are a big deal, one at a time. But all at once? I honestly don’t know whether to drink, cry, or sleep. Or all of the above. Or in what order. I’ve reached a point where I kind of want to check out.

I’ve reached the point where motherhood has completely kicked my ass.

There are no time outs. There are no weekends. There are no coffee breaks.

And to be honest, I don’t want them. Okay, I want to sleep a little longer, but that’ll happen in time. This won’t be the last time motherhood tries to destroy me and I’m convinced there will be days that are exponentially harder than today (I only have one baby, after all).

I think I just need to accept that garbage days are going to happen. I mean, we’re both still alive and I didn’t even actually burn the house down (though it would have been warranted after finding two GIANT spiders in the house yesterday). Miserable failure is a feeling that won’t last. Fat days happen. Babies have crappy days just like grown ups do. Cookie dough is a perfectly legitimate lunch. Netflix is an acceptable babysitter, especially if I haven’t peed in seven hours.

And sometimes, sitting down and having a glass of wine while the baby finally naps is more important than doing the dishes, more productive than folding laundry, and more fulfilling than reading a book. The descent into madness is real. Wallowing, even if for just a few hours, is completely reasonable.

Let’s all just admit a few things:
1. Motherhood (or womanhood or personhood) really sucks sometimes;
2. Bad days are going to happen and we need to be okay with owning them; and
3. Things WILL get better. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even soon, but they will.

Until then, I’ll be over here, trying to keep from sitting in a corner and rocking.

On lack of space….

running

I’m a runner. I have no problem saying that. I’ve been seriously running since 2012 and I think the first time I actually called myself a “runner” was sometime during the summer of that year. Probably when I cleared six miles for the first time. In fact, I know that’s when it was. It was when I cleared six miles and thought, “Meh, it’s only six miles.” WHAT?! Six miles is a really long way to run! There is no “only” when it comes to running.

But ever since I jumped back on the running wagon after giving birth, it just hasn’t been the same. I don’t enjoy it the way I used to. I don’t relish the idea of getting out and pounding pavement for an hour. I can barely slog through two miles anymore. I think the furthest I’ve run in the last several months in three miles. And I don’t think I can safely use the “I just had a baby” excuse anymore…it’s been over seven months.

Every time I get out to run, I do it out of obligation. I have a half marathon in September and I don’t want to have a crappy pace. I want to at least finish in 2:30, which is totally manageable. That’s almost a 12-minute-mile and I’m currently training at an 11-ish-minute.

I don’t enjoy running anymore. 

But I’m also not exactly ready to give it up. It’s the easiest and cheapest form of total body exercise. I can do it year-round. I (used to) enjoy running in the snow and the rain, so weather is rarely a concern. I’ve invested hundreds and hundreds of dollars into the sport. I’ve never considered myself an athlete until I started running and I don’t want to give up that status. I have a special friend that I run in honor of and have been running for, for almost three years. I’m completely unbalanced in the tattoo department and can’t get my other foot done until I’ve completed a full marathon (that’s the deal I’ve made with myself). My mother – who is nearly 60 – is running a 9-minute-mile and goes out for at least 5 miles every single day (she is as badass as she sounds) and I’ve never wanted to be more like her than I do now.

For me, running has been and always will be a solo sport. I’ve been running alone since the second I started doing it. I’ve always trained alone. It was something I had to do for me. I’m quite terrible at being alone, if I’m honest. And this was something I needed to do for me. Just for me and no one else. I can probably count on two hands the times I’ve run or trained with  someone. Even when I race with someone, what I really mean is, “Let’s run the same race on the same day and meet at the end for a beer.” I’ve only ever run one race truly with someone (and yes, I loved it. She was my support crew and I’m forever grateful to her for that). Honestly, I’d love to run my first full with my best friend. She’d be an incredible coach and would probably save me from jumping off the course (or a bridge). All other races though…those have to be solo.

But now, I’ve got this tiny, adorable, squishy little human that seems to need to tag along with every single thing I do. Pushing the stroller is insanely difficult and despite telling myself “It’s weight training” or “It’ll just make my pace that much better”, I still hate doing it. I feel bad when I don’t talk to her the entire time we’re running. I feel bad when I know it’s getting too toasty for us, but I really need to pound out that last half mile. And there just isn’t enough room in my life to feel emotionally crappy while I’m feeling physically crappy. In fact, there’s not enough room in my life to feel emotionally crappy at any time.

Running is where I learned to be solo again. Running taught me about autonomy. Running helped solidify and define who I am as an individual.

So maybe I’m not ready to give it up. But scaling back is on my horizon. At least until I can truly do this on my own again.

On getting it together….

I’ve been writing for a while now. Several years, in fact. Part of that time, I was writing for my degree, but let’s be honest: a ton of that writing came from a deeply personal place (not the technical writing, though. How personal can that be? It can’t be. Trust me). I’ve written about a whole host of topics and issues: cheerleading, sociological theory, Japan, war, the Bible, Canada, various films and books. I even delved (unsuccessfully) into fiction. I was (and remain) laughably bad at fiction.

But there are those pieces I’ve written that came from my soul, but something so deep inside me, I still can’t really understand how I got the words out. I write and I edit and I edit some more. Then I post the blog and…

Nothing.

Silence.

For someone that (for better or worse) gets a lot of her self-worth through external validation, having those pieces/articles/whatever fall on deaf ears (eyes?) is a challenge I’m working through. Not getting validation often makes my determination, motivation, and dedication take hits as well. It’s not a great way to go through life, if I’m completely honest. I really should be writing for myself right now. I should be writing, running, cooking, reading, anything because they are a part of who I am and they make me feel good about me.

I’ve historically been kind of a lazy, schedule-driven person, so this is really an opportunity for me to get off my ass (literally and figuratively) and do the things I keep talking about doing. I just need to decide I’m going to do something and do it. Without a schedule, I tend to do absolutely nothing. Seriously. Okay, not nothing…I have beaten nearly 300 levels of Candy Crush Soda Saga and have solved countless crosswords. This is clearly not a great use of my time.

Someone recently told me that motivation, while awesome, waxes and wanes. It’s rather fickle. Discipline, however? That can be cultivated and maintained. So it’s time I kick the discipline into high gear. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to do it.

On that lovin’ feeling…

I love shoes. A lot. There are few things in my wardrobe I love as much as I love my shoes. I could probably tell you a story about each pair. They’re all special and they were all purchased for a specific reason at a specific time. I wish I could remember the first pair of heels I ever purchased. It was so long ago, probably in high school, that I have no idea what they looked like. But I’m pretty sure I know how I felt when I wore them.

There’s little I can wear that makes me feel as fabulous (beware: I’ll probably use that word a lot today. It’s just how it goes) as the right pair of shoes. Scratch that. The right pair of HEELS. I feel a lot of things when I wear my heels. Fancy. Fabulous. Bad ass. Special. Tall. Pretty. Powerful. No other item of clothing I own can make me feel that way. And it takes a really special pair to make me feel that all at once. I have exactly one pair that can do that for me.

shoe

That’s a  4 ¾” heel. Grey snakeskin. Jimmy Choo. Be still, my heart.

They are the most comfortable shoe I own. No question about it. I can’t even begin to describe how fricking fabulous I feel every time I slip them on. Even the mere process of buying them was full of fabulousness. I was in New York City in the Meat Packing District shopping at some of the most incredible stores a girl can imagine. Right before I bought these beauties, I’d wandered through Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney. I almost talked myself into a pair of Stella’s and I actually tried on a $15,000 McQueen jacket. Talk about feeling fabulous! I went to New York with the sole purpose of buying a pair of designer shoes. I had my heart set on a pair of royal blue Manolo Blahnik’s (thank you, Sex & The City). I went to the Manolo store, but they didn’t have anything resembling the pump I wanted. It was a huge bummer. So I wandered in to Dior where feet were introduced to the magic of the Miss Dior Peep-toe. Amazing! I still need to get a pair of those suckers.

But it wasn’t until I was in a store called Jeffrey (with my uncle Jef, a supremely awesome and stylish being) that I discovered Jimmy Choo. I walked in and almost fell over from sheer joy! They carried a beautiful blue Manolo! I tried them on and, on recommendation from my uncle and the sales person, I wandered around the store in them. They were delightful! But on a whim, the sales person suggested I try a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. “Do you have anything in blue? I’m kind of set on a blue shoe,” I asked. Nope, nothing in blue, but why don’t I give these a whirl, just in case?

Well, if I felt fabulous in those blue Manolo’s (even if they were slightly uncomfortable), there aren’t yet words to describe how I felt when I put on those incredible grey pumps. I wandered around the store some more…it’s very likely I started skipping at some point. I think that’s how I knew I needed those shoes and those shoes alone, color be damned! So I bought them. And we’ve been in love ever since.

I haven’t worn them in over a year. That’s actually quite sad to think about. Between crappy weather, being pregnant, and not having a job to wear fancy clothes to, I just haven’t had the reason or physical stability to wear them. It’s high-heel time I remedy that! Spring can make a comeback at any time…and I’ll be rocking those shoes in all their fabulous might on the first day I possibly can!

All that to say: Don’t wait for a special day or event to wear your favorite things.

“Because it’s Tuesday” is just as good a reason to wear diamond or pearls as “It’s our anniversary.”
“I love the fall” is a perfectly acceptable reason to wear your favorite boots.
“Because I felt like it” is probably the best reason of all to wear whatever it is that makes you feel your very best today.

Be fabulous, folks!