January 18, 2017

To work or not to work. For moms it’s a decade old question that never truly gets answered. It never gets answered because everybody’s answer is different.

I’m not working right now so I have time to be outside running and being active. Good for me.

Because I’m not working I’m not making an income and contributing to my household financially. Bad for me.

My friend is working right now so she has very little time to be active and get in shape. Bad for her.

She is working right now so she is making a financial contribution and feels good about that. Good for her.

I like to work and do feel a bit useless when I’m not working. Deciding what to make for dinner doesn’t really challenge me. But I also love having the time to spend quality time with my family and having some time to myself does make me a happier mommy.

It’s a classic grass is always greener scenario. The Best Thing in Life is that I have a choice. For now.

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To Sleep or…….

zzz's

Lately I’ve had a bit of a love hate relationship with sleep.

If I knew that each night I could snuggle in under my duvet and fall into a deep restful sleep I would love it.  But I can’t.  So I hate it.

Sleep is such an amazing thing.  It’s healing and rejuvenating and just plain enjoyable.  Beautiful really.  And, in theory, it’s dead easy.

Lie down.  Close eyes.  Sleep.  Done.  Not always.

So why is that each night I lay down, tired out from a busy day, close my eyes and….nothing?  I toss and turn searching for the ultimate position that will send me of to lala land.  Wrapping the covers around me tightly like a baby works sometimes.  When it doesn’t, I try lying on my back.  Then my left side.  Then my right side.  Then in a desperate attempt I flop onto my stomach.  Ughh.

not sleeping

It seem like once I am in bed the world’s problems descend with a thud onto my pillow.  Along with my nine pound cat.  (but that’s a story for a different day)  All the things that have been pushed back into the corners of my mind during the day, creep out of the darkness and start circling.  Taking turns bombarding me with issues that can’t be solved.  And just when one is done pecking my brain, another swoops in to takes a turn at keeping me awake.

Then there’s the whole sweating thing.  It goes like this.

Wake up drenched in sweat.

Throw covers off.

Wait approximately thirty seconds.

Start shivering.

Pull covers back over head and attempt to get back to sleep.

Every freakin night.

I know I’m not the only one but really?  We can’t find a way to stop this?

So if sleeping sucks so much for me right now, why do it?  Maybe I should just make the best of a bad situation.  Most adults sleep 8 – 9 hours a night.  Think of all the things things that I could do with that time instead of tossing and turning and thinking and sweating.

  • Eight loads of laundry.  Washed, dried and folded.
  • Run a long way.  Depending on how strong I’m feeling and if I’m running on the street or the trail I’d guess somewhere between 30 to 40 km.
  • Read a book.  A whole book.  Without interruptions.
  • Bake.  Cookies, squares, a cake, healthy granola bars.  Whatever Pinterest can throw at me.  And I would nail it.
  • Sort all of my digital pictures and finally, once and for all, make books out of them.
  • Spend time with my mom.  Although she would probably be sleeping so that might not work out so well.
  • Clean out the garage.  No, like totally clean it out.  Everything.
  • Watch House of Cards and re-wind it every time I don’t understand what they said or what the political implications are.
  • Write a blog and post it in the middle of the night.

What would you do with an extra few hours a day?

The Best Thing in Life is to sleep.  But if you can’t, there are endless possibilities.

I Need Help.

I have been thinking for a while that I need to find some new blogs to follow.  The problem is that I have limited time right now to search and read and decide.

I’m more than happy to read but I would like to skip the searching step.

Since you follow me, then you know what my tastes are and could, perhaps, help me out?  I mean what are friends for?

So if you have a blog that you think I would like and I am not already following you, leave me a comment and a link to your blog.  If you know of a blog that you think I might like leave me the link.

As my daughter would say….easy peasy lemon squeezy.

I promise to read at least one of your posts (maybe more) and leave a comment.

Really, how hard can this be?  Yes, I am pathetic but I’m all about simplifying my life and if this is what it takes…..so be it.

Let the games begin.

Run Lisa Run

ultra running 3

More and more I am finding that road running is hurting my aging body. The repetitive pounding on pavement is tough on my muscles and, despite some fabulous new runners, my hips and knees are often crying by the end of a 10km run. So I’ve been turning to trail running lately and I have really been enjoying it. Why am I surprised? I think it has something to do with my dislike of running up steep hills. A couple of weeks ago a friend and I ran a 20km trail run with about 1200 ft of elevation gain. It felt great and I patted myself on the back many times. Could I run that again? Could I run that five times over? Not likely. My friend Lisa can and does. She runs ultra marathons.

An ultra marathon race is defined as anything longer than a 26.2 mile marathon. The most common distance are 50km and 100km but people do 50 and 100 mile races as well. The races that Lisa participates in are trail ultra marathons. Run on paths and trails in the mountains. Factors to consider are elevation, inclement weather and, I would imagine, wildlife. You may even start or finish in the dark (or both) depending on the time of year and your speed. Trail running is a different beast altogether from road running. Your pace is way slower (and you just need to accept that) and with roots, rock and creeks to get over you need to pay attention to where you are putting your feet. And it’s dirty. Muddy dirt usually. Or hot and dusty. Sounds like fun. Right?

Ultra Running 1

I would think it takes a certain type of person to run an ultra race. In general, ultra runners are a well-educated group of people. Focused, organized and definitely type A. And yes, in my eyes, just a little bit crazy. So much of this type of running is mental. Lisa was having a particularly hard time on a recent race and was almost ready to drop out. Her running partner asked her if she was okay. She said yes. “Then get your head out of your ass”. She did just that and finished the race. The community that supports these runners is also incredibly genuine and inclusive. One of the men that Lisa often competes with finished this particular race two hours ahead of her. Yet, there he was as she crossed the finish line cheering her on and congratulating her on a great race.

So when she runs a 100km Lisa is out on the trail for approximately 15-16 hours. I was curious to find out how she fueled for one of these adventures. She said that the races typically provide aid stations that supply, among other things, electrolyte drinks, cola and potato chips. What? These are elite athletes and they are scarfing down junk food every 15km. Yup. Think about it. What are you losing when you sweat that much? Salt and lots of it. And the cola? Well a little sugar and caffeine never hurts, but it can also provide a welcome change from water and electrolyte drinks. Lisa carries Vega gels, stinger waffles and Cliff packs but readily admits to not always eating enough during a race. Sometimes she doesn’t feel she needs it, sometimes her stomach is upset and sometimes she just forgets. I was tempted to ask the inevitable question of how do you relieve yourself, but really, does anybody need to now that?

But really what I did need to know from Lisa was this. You have a full-time job, a husband and young daughter and you spend roughly twelve hours a week running plus cross training sessions. Where do you find the time? I feel that perhaps this is the downside of what she does. She admits that the lifestyle is not always conducive to a balanced relationship with her husband and daughter. They support her and are incredibly proud of her accomplishments, but something has to give when you are spending that amount of time dedicated to a hobby. If you are going to do this you need to do it 100% or it just isn’t worth doing. Also, her social life revolves around running. “If you’re not into running and craft beer there’s a pretty good chance that we won’t be friends.” She does have a dog. Spencer. But apparently he is the worst trail dog ever. Why? “He’s so slow”.

Lisa has run twenty three 50km races.  Last Spring she ran the Miwok 100 and next month she will run the Zion 100. She tries to pick races that are held in places that would be cool to visit and that have activities for the whole family. For her, trail running is about adventure and exploration by foot.  While I am super proud of my 20km trail running achievement, The Best Thing in Life is having something to work toward. Oh who am I kidding. Never. Going. To. Happen.

ultra skeleton

Giving New Years a Pass

I’m not particularly looking forward to 2015. Not because of anything in particular, but because 2014 was such a great year. How can I improve on it? Can’t I just opt out of a New Year? Continue on with the one that is working so well for me? I don’t want to make any resolutions because life is good and it would appear that what I am doing already, is working. I am happier now than I have been in a long time. I am relaxed and feel good with who I am, where I’ve been and were I am going. I don’t know if I want a New Year?

The year started in Hawaii. All four of us spent two weeks enjoying all that Maui has to offer. Beautiful quiet days at the beach, snorkeling with serene sea turtles, fish tacos and cold beer for lunch and relaxed dinners on the patio. Really, it was an amazing vacation.  I had a chance to paddle board with my 18 year old son for two hours one day. Two hours of uninterrupted time to talk about life, work and the future. No cell phones allowed. For all of you with teenagers. you know that this doesn’t happen very often and is precious time.  The fact that we still had enough in common to talk about made me realize that I have raised a thoughtful, mature man.  (Holy crap, my son is a man)

Two weeks away was also a good chance for me to think through my options when it came to work. Life was getting crazy with my husband away so much and me not enjoying my job. On a warm sunny beach the decision seemed quite clear. Work? Whatever. But when we got home and life got back to normal, the decision wasn’t quite so obvious. I spent an entire weekend in early January changing my mind every half an hour. Work. Quit. Work. Quit. Thank god my husband is as patient as he is. So many reasons to continue and so many reasons to pack it in. Ultimately I decide to stop working at the end of February.

I thought that once I had decided to quit work I would immediately feel a sense of relief. Nope. Panick, guilt, stress. It took a good six months before it would really sink in that I had made the right decision and that everyone in my family was in a better place because of it. I do still feel some guilt. Usually it’s when I’m on the phone with my husband and he is telling me about how he has a meeting in one city, then is flying to another city for a site tour and then back the same day for more meetings and then working late to keep up with the work he didn’t do because he was in meetings all day. “Okay then, bye I’ve got to get to yoga” I say. Guilt. At least yoga is teaching me to be grateful for everything in my life.

So March 1st rolled around and eventually so did this blog. In hind site I went out of the gate a bit fast. I wrote A LOT in those first two or three months. Loved it, but perhaps could have saved some pieces for a later date. The world of online blogging is quite fascinating and I have learnt a lot from other bloggers and writers. When I tell people that I have a blog I get lots of different reactions. Some are interested and some sort of dismiss it as if to say “ya, you and every other person with nothing better to do”. There is some truth to that I suppose. For me it has been an outlet for the small speck of creativity in my brain that has been waiting years to come out. I’m not a “writer”, I’m not trying to change the world and I’m not trying to sell people on anything. I’m just enjoying my life and my friends and passing on the experience.

I think in my head I was hoping that not working would change how I felt, not only emotionally, but physically. I was dead wrong. In May I found myself feeling worse physically than I had in years. Tired, achy, fuzzy, bad skin. I could name a couple of others but, well, I’m not going to as nobody needs that much information. A complete overhaul of how I ate was, as far as I could see, my only option. Hardest thing I have ever done. Almost six weeks of no sugar. With a road race smack dab in the middle I needed to get off track a bit and then back on track half way through my detox, but I did it and am so glad I did. It’s not for everybody and anybody who does it should approach it in their own unique way. By the time I turned fifty in October I could finally say “I feel good inside” and truly mean it.

So here I am on January 3rd filling in the 2015 calendar and reminiscing about last year. It was a year of change and realization for me. I am comfortable in my slightly older skin, although I could do without a few of the new grey hairs. I feel a sense of contentment in my life that is new for me. I started Tweeting every day in November to recognize some small thing each day that I feel is one of The Best Things in Life. Give or take a few days, I have kept up with it. Totally not something I would have seen myself doing a few years ago, but isn’t that what life is about? At any age? Being able to make changes and start new things that bring happiness into your life? Maybe I won’t pass on New Years after all