#Microblog Mondays 2: Quiet Happy.

Microblog_Mondays

(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)

I have been getting up a half hour earlier every day to write in my journal – even if it’s just a word or two – for a month now. Even on the days where it feels like I have little to say, the experience of it has been so good for me.

In the years of fertility treatments, where we were hoping against all odds to have a baby, the silence of my house mocked me; a reminder of how much I longed to be a parent and how scared I was that it wouldn’t happen. I avoided it at all costs; listened to music, talked over it, moved through it too quickly.

Now, my favorite part of journaling in the early mornings is that stillness. On most days, it infuses in me a quiet happy which I can use as an antidote to the stress of the day.

I love starting out my day communing with quiet words, coffee, and the sunrise.

Tribute Miles.

For the few of you who don’t know this about me, I was in the marching band at college.

Yes, I went to band camp.

No, I did not play the flute.

I don’t have the words, really, to describe for you the magic that was the UMMB.

Within literally moments of arriving to college, I had a tribe, a family. A group of 300 people I knew I could rely on. They got me up at ungodly hours (for college, of course) for rehearsals on game days. They were my constant companions every weekday at 4:40, rain or shine. They were my saviors the semester after my cousin committed suicide. And to this day a good number of them remain my closest friends.

Last night was the wake for a husband of one in my tribe. Kyle passed away this weekend from cancer. I hate wakes (though truly, who likes them?) almost as much as I hate cancer, but I was inspired at how open Kerry and Kyle were about his fight. Even near the end, when he in hospice with liver failure, they were both inviting as many people who wanted to come visit and say their goodbyes. “You are our family,” they wrote on Facebook.

It was amazing. If it were me, would I be that open, that loving, that caring?

I went to the wake – it was the right thing to do. When one of your tribe needs you, you show up.

And afterwards, 15 of us or so went out to a local pub. What was amazing: over the course of the next hour or so, it was like the years were stripped away, and we were talking and laughing and reminiscing as if college was yesterday.

And there was a moment where I just sat back and looked around, marveling.

College was more than half my life ago, and here we were gathered after a WAKE, and there was that magic, that love, again.

I’m not at all religious. Quite honestly, I don’t really believe in God or heaven. I don’t believe that when we die, we go off to some other place that’s better than here – I think we just die.

But last night, in the midst of the laughter, I could see a little of God in the outpouring of friendship and love and support surrounding us.

I stayed out too late, of course, my friends fed me beer and nachos and waffle fries and spinach dip, so when my alarm ran at 4am this morning so I could get into Boston and run 5 miles on the Charles today, I expected this run to kinda suck. But I decided I wasn’t going to care, I was going to run easy and comfortable and enjoy it.

This run. Today.  It’s one of my mantras; something I have had to keep in the forefront of my mind this summer as I deal with work stress and achilles tendinitis and acute (and awful) insomnia.

So imagine my surprise when my run felt great, comfortable and easy, even with the humidity (and headwind, both something I hated and enjoyed) and tired legs and not enough water or sleep.

And, honestly. To run along the Charles, watching the sun rise, the sweat prickling my back, feeling the wind, smelling the freshness of the sea, my legs carrying me every step…

I am so lucky.

Today, I dedicate my miles to Kyle Gendron, his incredibly brave fight against cancer, and his wife Kerry, and their three kids.

The Bonk.

The Bonk: /n/ That moment during a run where you don’t think you can take another step, much less finish out the mileage you have planned.
Bonk: /v/ to hit an invisible but very physical threshold during a run that robs you of all confidence in future runs.*

I Bonked last night during my track practice.

The past week has been kind of hellish. The combination of crazy-work-deadline stress plus holy-shit-my-kid-is-going-to-kindergarten stress plus get-my-miles-in-because-I’m-marathon-training stress plus some other low-level stresses has given me trouble with insomnia.

Insomnia is bad in general. But it’s REALLY bad when you are running 45 miles a week. And working to meet a deadline. And getting your kid ready for kindergarten.

But. Last night. The workout was a ladder – 400, 800, mile, 1.5 mile, mile, 800. Which is a tough one.

And within the first 400, I had doubts. In the first 800, I had serious doubts.

And within the first lap of the mile, I had this panicky feeling in my chest.

I can’t do this.

I had NOTHING. No energy. No zip. Nothing.

It was like running in a nightmare, where you feel you’re in quicksand and you have dead legs like they’re not even attached, or alive, and you need to get away but you can’t go anywhere.

So I stopped. In the first mile. I actually laid down on the grass, and when someone else ran by and asked if I was okay, I gave her a thumbs up – I wasn’t injured, I was as okay as I was going to be. I was just trying not to cry from exhaustion.

I got up and tried again. I stopped.

And this time, I gave into tears.

I was just so tired. I had nothing to give, no kick, no reserves. I figured I’d just quit and call it a night.

And then a running friend, who was struggling herself, gave me most practical advice and got me to keep going. Karen, she said, you’re not going to win any money in the marathon! No one but you cares how fast you go. So just run slower. Pick a slower pace and run that. You are putting way too much pressure on yourself.

She was so right.

It’s funny how I didn’t even NOTICE. Work has picked up. My testing is going slower than I’d like and so I’m working more hours than I expected. My mileage has picked up too, so I have to spend more time in my day running. Owen is going to kindergarten, and I’m trying to prepare him (and me!) for the changes, and trying to do special things for and with him to celebrate this milestone.

All along, I’ve been putting more and more pressure on myself to be better. A great, productive, effective worker. A great, loving, kind mom, who takes time out of her day to make her son feel special. A better runner who nails every one of her workouts. All with a sleep deficit.

Okay, so maybe I need to let go.

So I did.

Thanks to my running club friend, I finished the workout. The mile and a half repeat was a beast, even with the slower pace. The next mile sucked too. But then it was the last 800 – the last repeat. And when I rounded the corner near the finish, with maybe 200m to go, I found some spark in my legs, and I pushed to the end.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

And you know what?

That’s more than enough.

 

*yes, these are made up definitions. Why do you ask?

One. Enough?

I know, I know. I wish I had a good reason for not blogging often. It’s time! I have lots of ideas, but not enough time to get it out.

I promise I will update you all on my 30 Day No Yelling Challenge. Which is almost over, and has been, overall, a good exercise.

________________________

We get questions from people, sometimes.

Just one child?

Is he your only?

Most people don’t know that it took us three years, one chemical pregnancy, two surgeries, three fresh in-vitro fertilization cycles, however many frozen cycles, and ten embryos to get pregnant with our son. They also don’t know that after he was born, we spent another two years on three more fresh IVF cycles, a couple of thaws, and ten MORE embryos. Which, this time, resulted “only” in two early miscarriages. No baby.

Last fall we found ourselves in a place utterly without hope. And so we walked away from fertility treatments.

Since then, we’ve been working on getting more comfortable with the idea that Owen will, in all likelihood, be an only child.

Changing our focus on our one son has been good for us in so many ways. Instead of the fail of all the years we spent trying for the family we dreamed about, it’s really made us focus on the family we DO have. I will often look over him and be struck with this thought: we are SO lucky to have him here with us.

And really, there are so many benefits to having a family of three. We’re closer. More focused. Owen doesn’t have to share a room, or his space, or my attention with another sibling. Jeff and I get to parent to HIS personality, his quirks, and we can focus on him when we need to. We can also switch off and get space when we need it.

Which for me, is a big deal. Me time, space, I’m finding, is important.

But it’s also tough in a lot of respects.

Like with fielding the above questions.

People mean well, and often they will ask us if we have more children because they’re interested in learning about us. I do it myself, when I meet people. And arguably, I could be sensitive to the question simply because we’ve struggled so much with family building over the years.

But I have also noticed how it’s phrased. The words “only” and “just” are used; which, to me, infers that there’s something wrong with the choice to have one child.

A couple of weeks ago, good friends of mine forwarded me links to op-ed pieces by Lauren Sandler. Honestly, until I read the articles, I had never heard of her. It seems she has a new book: “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One.”

In each one of her articles, like the one I read here and here and here, she takes apart, bit by bit, the myths surrounding only children.

Further than that, though, she goes on to propose that having an only child can actually make parents happier.

Since I’ve spent the six months sitting with the idea of Owen being an only child, trying to sort out how I feel about it, this is an issue that’s fairly close to my heart.

First of all, I like how Lauren Sandler addresses what I, too, have noticed. There is this idea out there that only children are lonely, and not well adjusted, and socially awkward. Only children are missing out on something.

I mean, hell, *I* have struggled with this idea. Whenever Owen asks us if we can play with him, kind of longingly, or remarks, Mommy, you NEVER play with me! I wonder. Will he grow up to be lonely? Should I do MORE?

This kind of thinking makes it hard for me to balance fostering his imaginative play – I feel strongly that my adult intervention in his playtime unwittingly teaches him rules that he maybe doesn’t need to learn until later in his life – and making sure I give him the attention that he needs.

And then there’s the worry that I’m giving him TOO much attention. I often joke about being THAT mom, the one my future daughter (or son) in-law would loathe – being too involved in his life, having him orbit my life too closely.

And then there’s the fear that I’m somehow robbing Future Owen. I feel so lucky to have siblings. Maybe not everyone feels like this, but I feel like the three of us have this bond of years of shared history. All of us are similar, yet different – and we have a relationship that will always be there, regardless of distance and history and life.

Owen has his cousins, and Jeff and I, but I worry that he’ll feel like something’s missing.

So I take great comfort in the studies done that reassure me that only children are intelligent, engaging, HAPPY people as adults. Because I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, I read the studies Lauren Sandler mentions in her articles with relief.

The issue I have with her stance, though, is where she talks about the choice to have one, and that parents of only children might be happier than parents of multiple children.

I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have CHOSEN to have my one son, if my hands weren’t tied, medically speaking. I still struggle with feelings of being forced into our situation by circumstances not within our control.

That said, I cannot understand how she can suppose that she is happier than any other person, all because she chose to have a single child. Because happiness is relative, and it’s based on criteria that isn’t the same from person to person. Perhaps a career-oriented woman who loves flexibility like she does might be happier than a woman who finds happiness in taking care of people. Maybe she’s happier because she had an element of CHOICE, where we did not.

But it’s not for her to say that she’s better off than any one else.

Ultimately, I’m glad that someone is raising the discussion about the unspoken bias we have as it relates to only children. I feel it whenever anyone asks me if Owen is our only and we answer in the affirmative – that the click of judgment happens in that moment and the person thinks of Owen: Ah, poor lonely, maladjusted child. I love the reassurance in the DATA that my only child will be FINE as he grows.

But I disagree when she says that deciding to have an only child will make you happier.

Because for me, that is not the case.

The Answer to an Unspoken Question.

Lack of updates is nothing more than pure busy: I am having a hard time keeping up with my life right now.

This weekend, after the end of a long walk with Finley on an absolutely glorious night, I was heading back to the house when I ran into my neighbor.

My next door neighbor, you see, is the pastor of the church down two doors from us. He and his wife are wonderful neighbors; kind to Owen, who is prone to walking through their hard-earned flower beds to get a stray wiffle ball. They see me run past their house many times, and ask about my race plans and how I’m doing.

They’re wonderful people, and great neighbors.

We chatted for a few moments about his youngest son, recovered from cancer which ravaged him only a few short years ago, who just graduated college. We spoke of how Owen was heading to kindergarten in the fall.

How fast time goes, we agreed.

And he pointed out that it was nearly five years ago that we baptized our son. And he was too kind to ask out loud, but an unspoken question hung between us.

Why hasn’t he seen us in church?

Five years ago, my grandparents and parents and aunt and uncle came to visit us, and we had Owen baptized in that church. We joined that church afterwards, in part because we thought it would be a good way to meet people in the community, and we wanted Owen to grow up with a good foundation in religion.

We stopped going, in part because Owen hated being in the nursery when he was a toddler, and he was too young for the Sunday School classes.

But mostly we stopped going because a lot of kind of crappy stuff happened in my life and being in church made me kind of pissed off. Jeff didn’t really want to go if I didn’t go.

My relationship with God and religion is, well… complicated. I have a hard time believing in “God’s plan” whenever something bad happens. I have a hard time with people using religion to duck accountability and responsibility for their hand in causing pain. I have a hard time when religion or God is used to discriminate between the “good” people (who are clearly going to heaven) and the “others” (who have not yet been saved from the fiery pits of MORDOR!).

I have always felt that religion was man’s way of trying to put a box around something that was too big for us to understand. And I despair when I see people fighting in the name of religion.

And then? I started running. And I ran country roads when I was training for my marathon.

My town and the surrounding area is woods and farm and marsh and low stone walls.

It’s breathtaking.

I have seen deer, and listened to deafening birdsong in early summer, and smelled the fullness of the woods all around me. I run in the warmth of summer, the riot of color in fall, the crispness of winter, the green of spring. I run in the darkness of early morning, the dew of late mornings, the heat of the afternoons, and the softness of the evenings.

On my run, I feel closer to a god, the universe, the pulse of humanity – whatever “God” is – than I EVER did in any church. I feel connected, and part of something bigger. I am strong, and thankful for my life, for the power that flows through my legs.

I didn’t know how to say this, though, to our pastor – whose own son spent years in cancer treatment, who can’t work in certain fields because of his “medical condition.”

So I didn’t say anything.

And instead, I stood with my neighbor and marveled at how quickly time flies.

Beach Dreams – A Decade Later.

Jeff and I honeymooned in Fiji. Which was, in a word, ah-FREAKING-mazing. (And yes, that’s a word. I just made it up. But it’s TOTALLY a word.:))

Every night, after a day of snorkeling or or rafting or kayaking or scuba diving or whatever, we’d take a walk on the beach and watch the sun set over the water before we’d head to dinner.

The sunsets were pretty, of course. But what I remember from those beach walks was our discussion. We were newly married. We had dreams and hopes and talked about what we wanted out of our marriage: two kids (preferably three years apart, of course), a big house with land, careers that afforded us balance and family and vacation time with opportunities for advancement. And travel, lots of travel.

Both of our families didn’t have a lot of money when we were growing up. And the one thing we talked about was this idea of never having to WORRY about money. We wanted to live within our means and keep a savings account balance. We wanted to pay off our credit card every month so our debt was limited to mortgage and student loans. But we also wanted to be able to splurge here and there without too much worry: vacations, tee ball, dinners out, weekends away, etc.

It’s no secret that I don’t love being an accountant. I picked it because it was recession-proof and I figured it would be intellectually challenging. Which is was. Is. But it’s hard to separate what I COULD do with what I actually have time to do, and it can be stressful when I find an issue I don’t have time to find, and my clients often don’t love me, especially when it’s Sarbanes-Oxley work.

And I loathe, utterly LOATHE, the commute. Driving into Boston every day sucks the soul right out of me.

So this weekend I ran actual monthly numbers to see if we could afford for me to stay home. And discovered very quickly that, while it’s DOABLE, it would require us to significantly change our lifestyle. For the first time, we’d have to WORRY about money.

There’s plenty we COULD do, mind you, to save money. We could get rid of our gym memberships, and I could stop doing my running clinics. No more budget for a running coach, or deep sea fishing or golf for Jeff. No tee ball, no Museum of Science membership.

We could make it work.

But then I remembered our discussion on the beach in Fiji. So many of those beach dreams didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. We don’t have the two kids three years apart like we had hoped: we are SO fortunate to have our son, but there will likely never be a sibling. Balance with family and work does not come easily for either one of us. We do have the big house with land and great neighbors, but it means a long commute into Boston – for both of us.

I am fully aware of how fortunate I am to have choices, this day and age. I’m only a few generations removed from a woman who didn’t have the right to vote, work, or do ANYTHING with her mind.

And even, right now, I know so many people where both parents HAVE to work – there’s no choice in the matter. I also know people who have been looking for work for a long time and would LOVE to have the flexibility I do with my career.

At the end of the day, I have a choice.

And right now, I will choose to continue to do what I’m doing. Which means the suck of a three hour commute, but hopefully some time off here and there – and flexibility to work from home when I need to. It means I continue to work as an accountant, even though I don’t love it (on the good days) and hate it (on the bad days). It means Owen goes to aftercare at school three times a week. It means I continue to juggle and feel like supermom (on the good days) and an utter failure (on the bad days).

What we didn’t see on that beach in Fiji nearly a decade ago was the full picture; in our honeymoon haze, we saw our dreams through rose-colored glasses and imagined the perfect life without the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

The reality is that life is kind of hard, and it’s impossible to do it all without sacrificing something. My sacrifice, right now, for the flexibility to do the things we enjoy outside of work is a long commute and time at a job that I don’t love.

Really, at the end of the day, that’s not so bad.

And yes, remind me of this when I’m complaining about how I loathe it sometime soon, please. 🙂

What are some of the choices you’ve made to live the life you want? Are they sacrifices you’d make willingly if you could do it again?

Recovery (Aka: The Week I Fell Apart, Physically).

I don’t know if this is delayed-onset fatigue brought on from last week’s race, but the past few days have been TOUGH for working out.

First there was the cold. Last week I noticed that Owen had a runny nose and was rubbing his eyes. I assumed that he had a touch of seasonal allergies, given the pollen dust I see on my car every day. I even put Children’s Claritin on my to-pick-up-from-the-store list.

And then I started to feel imminent doom: the combination of dry throat and the feeling that you are swallowing glass.

I removed Children’s Claritin from my list.

I follow a simple rule when it comes to running and colds. If the cold affects anything that is ABOVE my shoulders, then I’ll run. I might take it slower, and have to stop more for, er, nasal-cavity elimination, but I have no issue with running.

Anything that includes lungs, or aches and pains, or fever – I stay home. Period.

This cold, though annoying, was a Runnable Cold.

But then.

90-degree heat and humidity which moved in on Thursday. Or Friday. I don’t remember; it’s so hot my brain is melting and I can’t even think anymore. Honestly, what the FUCK, mother nature? Can’t we have a couple of in-between 70s, 80s in there? We have to go from 42 degrees and raining last Sunday to 95 degrees with 95% humidity? Seriously?

No wonder I’m sick.

Yesterday morning I went out, early, with the goal of running an hour. I was in light clothing. I carried my handheld water bottle. I was hoping for 6 or 7 miles; within 2 I knew it wasn’t happening. I was tired and a little dizzy, and my muscles screamed at a pace that is usually pretty comfortable for me.

So I called it at a reasonable 5 miles and went home. To the blessed air conditioning. I spent the day cleaning and doing errands and laundry and whatnot – but I wouldn’t call it a physically TAXING day.

Nonetheless, by last night, my IT band was SCREAMING at me whenever I walked down the stairs. My quads ached, and I had a random shooting pain in my left calf. I was exhausted and went to bed at 8:30 last night.

As an aside, is there anyone else like me out there? I, apparently, do not have the DNA required in order to “sleep in.” I would MUCH prefer going to bed when it’s still LIGHT out than trying to force myself to sleep late in the mornings. Jeff makes fun of me incessantly for this – I hate being up late and cannot sleep late.

Also: seriously, body? We’re falling apart NOW? I haven’t felt IT band PAIN in more than a year. My calves, though tight, aren’t usually painful without good reason. This week has been a very low mileage week, and I’ve been keeping a Be Kind To My Body pace.

I swear this is delayed-onset recovery; it’s taken me a week to actually feel like I am tired and need a rest.

So I am taking another rest day today. Because it’s still nasty swampy hot out there, and my head aches from the cold, and I’m tired, and honestly, there’s no sense in pushing it.

The good news is that my house is clean, and there’s pulled pork going in the crockpot, and I’m nice and cool hanging out with the puppy. Finley knows where it’s at – licking, laying on, and sleeping on the air conditioning vents is one of his new favorite summer hobbies.

To sum up: I’m tired and sick this week. It’s hotter than Hades outside, and I’m a little bitter.

And a question: Am I the only one who prefers to go to bed early, or sleep in late? Please tell me I am not alone here.

My 30 Day Challenge: This is Going To Be A Tough One.

So here’s the thing.

I’m a yeller. I was raised in a family of yellers. My family yelled when we were happy, yelled when we were sad, yelled when we were angry, yelled when we were having fun. We just… yelled. It was part of the family identity. Hell, it’s hard to find a family in my town of New Jersey that DIDN’T yell! It’s just what we did.

Thing is. I married a New Englander: a man who grew up in a family of Not-Yellers. And though I contributed DNA to our son in the form of coloring and eyes, he’s pretty much a carbon copy of his father in personality and temperament – with a little more chatter, maybe.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I yell far more than I’d like to. I yell because I struggle with patience. I yell because I struggle with having my words heard. And I yell because I swear to god there are days my words mutate in the milliseconds they hang in the air – by the time they get to Jeff and Owen, all they hear is: “Wah WAH, waah WAH.”

I am like a balloon that keeps inflating when this happens. I say it a little more passionately – while feeling, come ON! Just LISTEN TO ME!

And then all of a sudden I’m yelling. And I’m angry. And it’s effective, of course. Both Owen and Jeff listen to my words if they’re said angrily.

The problem is, I don’t much LIKE the emotional fallout of the yelling. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I don’t like being angry all the time. I don’t yell at people at work – because it’s disrespectful. And I shouldn’t yell at home, either – at the people I love most in the world.

And yelling is not effective – honestly, if the only way my kid and husband listens to me if I’m yelling, what does that say about my communication skills? Not much that’s good, for sure.

Yelling is a bad habit, and I want to break it.

And via the beauty of social media, yesterday I stumbled upon the blog The Orange Rhino. And the author of the blog committed to 365 days of Not Yelling, and her experience with it is so eye-opening. I love how she blogs her struggles so honestly, and I love that she’s committed to making her family better.

I want to make our family better. I am so lucky to even HAVE this family, and they deserves better from me.

But I can’t do a 365 day challenge – it’s overwhelmingly long.

But what I’ve discovered with my running: it usually takes about a month for me to find my groove: that space where it doesn’t feel as hard. Where my muscles don’t hurt as much when I’m not running or running… and I stop THINKING about it. It becomes habit.

So I made the decision last night.

I am committing 30 Days of Not Yelling in June.

Except I’m starting The Challenge a weekend early, because that’s what I do. (I’m not kidding, either. I start my New Years Resolutions in November so they’re habit by January. Yes, I know it’s OCD and ridiculous, but I like getting a head start on resolutions. :))

I have the feeling that this is going to be one of the biggest challenges I’ve undertaken.

But I’m up for the it.

I’m blogging about it because I want you all to keep me honest. I want to share with you the ups and downs of my Not Yelling Challenge in the coming days and weeks. Because the act of writing this post commits me to it: it will act as a contract on the days where I need to scream in frustration.

There HAS to be a better way. I’m committed to finding it. Will you all help?

Having It All. Except Not Really.

I am of a generation of girls who was raised to value strength and intellect and fairness. I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be, as long as I focused and worked hard. I’m the generation of Title IX sports, where I could play baseball and football and organize races with the kids the neighborhood. I was raised to believe I was equal in every way to boys, and there were no limits to what I could do when I was a grownup.

And so, when I got my MBA nearly 15 years ago, I decided I’d be a CEO. To that end, I spent my first years in business working as many hours as possible. I changed careers – picked accounting because I knew it would be recession-proof, and it was intellectually challenging. I loved it those first years, before I started burning out. There was just so much WORK. Busy seasons were grueling – I worked every weekend and most days from 7 in the morning to 9, 10pm.

And then I finally got pregnant with Owen. And I worried. How would I make those hours work when there was a baby at home? I mean, honestly – I worked 80-90 hour weeks up until the day I delivered my son. It was my last day in the office, and I was squeezing in doing a friends’ tax return at lunch when my water broke. I spent the afternoon in the hospital waiting for him to be born, on my Blackberry, letting my clients and managers know I wasn’t coming back that day because I was having a baby.

It became clear to me that I needed a change. So I took 6 months when he was born – an extended maternity leave. I figured it would give me a chance to try out the stay at home thing, give myself a break from the working hours. I figured it would be refreshing not to have to go to work. I’d surely be on top of everything around the house!

There were a few things wrong with that picture. I was not a confident parent early on in Owen’s life. I wasn’t much for schedules, and he was an abysmal sleeper and therefore a fussy baby. I spent that time with him completely sleep deprived and stuck in the house, because we never really had a “good time” to go out. And there were days I never even got a shower.

Quite honestly, I hated it and assumed I just wasn’t meant to be a stay at home mom. So I went back to work.

And for the past four and a half years I’ve spent my days working while Owen is in daycare. He is thriving, and I have no regrets about the decision. For us, it was what was best for our family.

The thing is. Being in the business world is HARD. It’s 24/7, and it’s a constant stress, even when we’re home. Not just that, but it’s hard parenting when you AND your husband consult. We aren’t always in the the same place, which makes things hard to plan. Our days right now are spent juggling meetings and being at clients and our work schedules. We’re fortunate that Jeff is working from home right now, so when I’m needed at a client site we have a little more flexibility, but that will go away this summer.

And Owen goes to kindergarten this fall. And for some reason, I’m feeling strongly that I want to be there when he gets off the bus every day. Maybe it’s because I can hold him accountable for homework and studying. Maybe it’s because time is going by so quickly and I want more time with him every day. Maybe it’s because I don’t find accounting rewarding anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of sitting in my car for 2-3 hours a day stuck in traffic. I’m not entirely sure.

But here I am. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that I should just quit my job.

It is so interesting to find myself in a place where I feel like I have a lack of motivation – or drive. I can’t really believe I’m thinking about hanging up my CPA and my MBA in order to stay at home and raise my family. Where I’m CEO of my house, not a corporation – or even my own small business.

Plus, I have an only child. Often, I think, Really, Karen, how hard is it to coordinate the schedule for your ONE kid to get to and from school?

So many working parents have to content with multiple kids and multiple schedules – and I can only imagine the logistics required to make that work.

But as I sit here, looking at the piles of mail that we’ve stacked up because we’ve been too busy to go through it and recycle/shred it, I am realizing that it’s not really POSSIBLE to have it all – at least not in the definition I’ve lived for the past 37 years.

I recently read this article by Beth Woolsey: 20 Things Every Parent Should Hear. And it was #19 that got me: Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.

It’s impossible to be everything at once: Super Worker, Super Mom, Super Wife, Super Friend, Super Organized, Super Volunteer, Super Baker-of-Cookies-Just-Because, Super Writer, Super Painter, Super Runner, Super Cook, Super Blogger. I can’t be all those things – if I tried I’d keel over from stress and anxiety and exhaustion.

So, really, then, it’s a matter of focus. Focusing on what’s needed in the here and now. If that means my career takes a backseat in the coming years so I can focus on other things, then so be it.

How do you find rhythm in your family life? What choices have you made in order to maintain the dance of your life?

The Runs.

Okay, so a running update.

Last September, I ran a half marathon with one of my best friends. Two weeks before said half marathon, I turned my ankle in the dark on a training run, and thought it was sore, I didn’t really think much of it.

And then. Literally 15 seconds after we started the race, I turned to say something to her… and turned the very same ankle in a small groove in the middle of the road. Badly this time.

Probably it wasn’t the best decision to run the race anyway, but that’s what I did. Honestly, after mile 4, I felt very little – some twinges here and there when we walked through the water stops, but nothing awful. We finished 2 hours and 17-some odd minutes after I turned my ankle, and within minutes of stopping I found I couldn’t really, well, WALK at all. My ankle swelled to massive proportions on the drive home that day, and for three weeks I hobbled around and couldn’t run.

During that time, I had a lot of time to think. About what I was doing with my running, how I was approaching it, and my goals.

So I did what any person who couldn’t run does: I decided that I’d run a marathon in 2013. 🙂

Except THIS time, I was going to do whatever it took to make sure I wasn’t injured this year. I talked with my PT, who helped me rehab from my ITBS. I hired a running coach to help me get my running form back, who would keep me honest over the winter. I did PT exercises on my ankle and my IT band and strengthwork at the gym. I ran when my coach told me to, didn’t run when he told me not to.

And the biggest thing: after looking at my spring half pictures, the day I broke two hours in a half marathon, I looked heavier than I had in 2010, when I finished the Smuttynose half marathon. I had put on muscle, yes, but I also had put on fat. So I also started counting calories on myfitnesspal.com so that I could shed some weight.

Since then, I’ve lost 15lbs, and am at my lowest adult weight ever. And I am back logging regular, consistent mileage, peppered with speedwork sessions, strength training, and long runs.

A month ago, I ran a half marathon in Central Park in 1:56:31, a personal best from my last half marathon of more than 3 minutes.

And couple of weeks ago, I ran a local 5k and ran a personal best by a full minute and forty seconds – my official time was 23:15.

So running, right now, is going really well. Even the hard runs give me something to take away. Like last week: in one run I gained confidence that I can keep running a number of miles when my legs are really fatigued without losing pace. In another, I figured out that I’m really bad at tempo pace and I need to focus some workouts on that.

Every run I do is leading towards a goal race.

My goal race this training cycle? Boston’s Run to Remember on Memorial Day weekend.

My ideal time goal is to break 1:45:00. Realistically, I’ll be happy with anything under 1:50:00. And if it’s hot, I’ll aim at 1:55:00, which is still a PB for me.

And honestly, it’s kind of insane that I’m looking at these numbers.

Because I remember the days where I’d need a gel at mile 4.5 because I had been running an hour – where I had to walk a hill I regularly use as my warmup. I remember the days where running my 6 mile loop around town felt like a really far run. I remember my first 5k, where I walked multiple times and finished at 32:48. The day where I ran my farthest distance – 6 miles – and realized, holy shit, you can run as far as you want. It’s actually possible!

It’s not been that long since my first race – 4 years ago this August.

So really, I kind of have no idea what I’m capable of as a runner. I’m just going on faith and working hard and making sure that I put all the pieces in place in the hopes that I can do something awesome.

Which is kinda how life works.

So here’s hoping. 🙂