Wonder Full Wednesday: Perspiration to Inspiration

I am never more alive then when I’ve just completed a workout, I’m sweaty and what I like to call “all wrung out”. For some reason, I’m never more clear, more focused and more sure of myself as I am when I am doing something physically strenuous. More often than not, much of my writing inspiration comes from random thoughts while running.

I distinctly remember on more than one occasion standing in line with other recruits at bootcamp class waiting nervously in line for our turn at the agility course. Mind you, the instructor has just walked through and explained (yelled) what to do, but for some reason – I always doubted. I doubted I could do it, I doubted I could do it right, I doubted I could even remember what she wanted us to do.

Being followed
Agility (Photo credit: John Carleton)

Every time as I stepped up to my turn, on the balls of my feet anticipating my start, my mind would go blank and I would just GO. (Now this isn’t to say that I always did it all perfect, but the level of doubt I had was not proportionate to my skill.) That “blankness” that “just-stop-getting-in-your-own-way-and-do-it” thing happens all the time when I do something and show myself that yes, I CAN. I am much stronger than I think. I just have to stop thinking about it.

When we get to the end of ourselves physically, when we are completely spent, that’s the moment we tap into clarity. We go beyond our bodies and tap into the spiritual. Perhaps that’s why it makes me smile a bit when people ask either how I lost weight (if I have a magic pill or the latest fad diet) or how I have the motivation to keep working out. It makes me smile because if I’ve learned anything over the last two years, it is this: it is really not about the physical. Yes, it’s part of the process, yes, it’s exercise and eating clean and all of that, but the majority of it for me has been my personal growth; my growth in creativity, as a parent, as a friend, as a wife, and as a person.

Perspiration leads to inspiration. I love being inspired! That “not regretting a workout” platitude is cute, true, but definitely not the whole story. Smaller jeans are nice, but it’s not the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is taking what you’ve learned, passion and inspiration, and passing it on and sharing it with others. When its true passion, it can’t help but be shared.

For this passion, this being inspired while perspiring; I am grateful.

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The Real Test

We all have days (weeks, months) that we just aren’t that motivated. Often I am motivated to work out and do what needs to be done ONLY because of the feeling after the fact. I know I’ll feel great once I work out. I know I’ll feel better if I just get off my butt and get the kitchen cleaned (laundry, dishes, oil changed, whatever is on the to do list). It’s the completion reward. As the saying goes:

Perhaps the real test isn’t doing a thing like losing weight or running a marathon while fully supported and surrounded by others doing the same thing.

Perhaps the real test is when you have to use what you know to once again climb out of the hole without support, or with a different support system. When I work out in my garage, no one knows if I’m phoning it in or not. No one ever will.

But I do.

Perhaps the only accountability any of us needs is ourselves. Being honest, kicking our own butt. Every day.

This to me is strength defined.

Even on the yucky days…

Even on the yucky, crappy, wish-the ground-would-swallow-me-up, go-back-to-bed-days, I aspire to still, in the midst of circumstance, be grateful.

Even on the yucky days, when I am at my worst, I want to be able to take a step back just for a moment, and remember the bigger picture, and be grateful. This is so hard for me when it’s been one of THOSE kind of days.

Things like the fact that I love my kids more than the spilled cereal. (Or milk, or water, or whatever). The cereal will get cleaned up – but it’s much harder to take back harsh words spoken out of irritation.

Reminders from my son that he really doesn’t care about that pile of dishes in the sink, he really just wants to read The Very Busy Spider a few more times. He WANTS to be with me. Not only will that go away all too soon, but how amazing is it that he wants to be with me even on the days that even I don’t like me!? Talk about a lesson in unconditional love! I love that boy, especially on the yucky days! And I’m so very thankful for the time he wants to spend with me.

Even on the yucky days, when I’m overwhelmed and just want the hubbs home – it all seems too hard – I remember that I AM DOING IT. I am making it through this deployment, even if its bumpy here and there. I have to be thankful that my husband has a career that he is well suited to, he serves his country, and our family. No, it’s not fun having to go through separations, but his work allows me to do mine. For that I am (and will always be) grateful.

Even on the yucky days when I daydream about what it would be like to go back to life without kids – for just 24 hours – just to sleep. Where is that DeLorean and Michael J. Fox when you need ’em!? I am brought out of my daydream by little feet and little voices, “Mama?”

Nah, I wouldn’t go back. Even on the yucky days.

Because even in the yucky days – there are some pretty awesome moments.

I Am Woman…..

I’m always amazed when I do something I thought I couldn’t do, or was impossible.
Marathons, losing weight yes, but even little things. Like when I was in high school and I had my first car (89 Dodge Colt). I had a tail light that burnt out. I thought about waiting until my dad got home from work and asking him to fix it. Then I thought – well, it’s probably just a couple of screws or something and a light bulb…I know how to operate a screwdriver. (And yes, I can screw in a lightbulb!)
So I set about doing it myself. I’m sure I messed up and took something apart that didn’t need to be disassembled, but in the end I did do it. I remember the pride and the anticipation I felt as I couldn’t WAIT to tell my dad I had done it myself!  Car things always make me a little wary. I still don’t understand exactly how all the parts of a gas engine work. I know I need to make sure I have gas and oil and my fluids filled. I can change a tire if I need to. I am not an electrician. I’m not a mechanic.
For the past couple of months, we’ve had the same CD stuck in our car stereo.  My CD player likes to eat CDs apparently. It wouldn’t eject no matter how many times I tried.  (Yes, I know – first world problem! Smh….) Anyhoo, it’s a kid music CD which was just about to drive me over the edge. I can only listen to “John Jacob Jingle-Heimer-Schmidt” about 10,000 times before sticking a fork in my eye. We were on 9,997.
So I asked my cousin (who IS in fact a car guy) to get it unstuck. By this time Hannah had been left unattended to play in the car a bit and she had jammed a second CD in there. Yeah. So my cousin got it unstuck for me and we went merrily on our way.
The very next CD we put in there (YES, It WAS John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt on a different disc!) got stuck. UGH! But, since I had watched my cousin disassemble the radio (and I felt like a dork having to ask AGAIN to assist) I got out some needle nose pliers, the crescent wrench and a couple of screwdrivers and got to work on getting that dang CD out on my own.
And I did it! The CD, however, did not survive. (No, I did not have a funeral. I would have broke it on ‘accident’ if it hadn’t been destroyed during Extraction 2012.) Now, however, the stereo wouldn’t even take a CD. (Yes, I tried.)  We then drove for a couple of weeks with just the radio. I was thrilled to be rid of the kid music, but Jake and Hannah did not share my excitement. Go figure. Every time we got in the car, the idea of fixing the car myself jumped to my mind. Could I? Nah…I can survive without a CD player until Eric gets back. Or I can have my dad or cousin look at it. Did I mention that I “lost” 2 mini crescent wrenches beneath the console during Extraction 2012? Oh, yeah. My fumble fingers dropped the little bugger. So I got the next sized wrench and promptly did it again! So now not only was the CD player not working, but I had to go fishing for two tiny wrenches. Okay, time to call Eric.
So he mentioned some crazy words like “splicing” and “dash filler” and some other gobbledy-gook. I kind of tuned him out after splicing. Have I not mentioned that I am not an electrician? The little bit I remember from 8th grade technology and my dad building and wiring houses would probably not help me in this venture….
I called O’Reilly’s in Burlington (BIG shout out to them! The guy helping me WAS AWESOME and didn’t make me feel like a complete idiot!) and asked about a conversion kit or whatever it was that Eric had told me on the phone to ask for. They didn’t have what I needed, but he called the local Mobile Music (also great service) and had them set a kit aside for me. I ran over (after a pooptastrophy of course – because what adventure would be complete with out someone pooping their pants?!)
Home we go with the kit. I am getting excited thinking, Yeah, I can do this. Its just a couple of screws. I got it. Then I opened the kit and there they were….loose wires. Crap. I thought it was going to be a connector plug that would connect the car’s wires to the CD players without me having to do anything.
Off comes the dash….
Ugh – they don’t match!
SERIOUSLY?!!??
Again I peered into Eric’s tool box and looked around to see if anything sparked my memory on how to go about this. I also looked at what was in the new stereo’s box, the instructions with the conversion kit….wrench, check. Wire cutters, yep. Oh….Eric DOES have the little connectors. And yep – this wire cutter is outfitted with a crimper….hmmmm…..
The instructions instructed me to tape off the wires that didn’t match with the other side, so I did that. (After finding Eric’s electrician’s tape). I spliced, crimped, reassembled, and reconnected!!!

I DID IT!!

 

(And I haven’t been electrocuted yet!!)
While I won’t be opening up my own car stereo installation business anytime soon, I have to say – I’m pretty darn proud of my skills! And now, not only do we get to play CDs, I can also plug the auxiliary jack in to my phone and listen to my music that way without having to burn new CDs all the time! YAHOO!
And, of course while I wish Eric was home to do these kinds of tasks…I’m always proud of myself for doing what I didn’t think I could. (Insert self-back pat here.)
I am woman – hear me roar.
Or at least hear John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt blasting out of my car!

Making Lemonade

Today was a rough one. Not for any particular reason…just weepy, over-emotional, overwhelmed, missing my Hawaii peeps, missing the hubbs, church this morning was spot on, and oh yeah, I’m a woman! Ha!

After church and braving the grocery store for ONLY FIVE items that inevitably turned into 25 – I felt a little blah despite the sun making a seemingly rare appearance. The kiddos and I puttered around the yard, picking some weeds, Hannah picking some radishes that weren’t quite ready yet, me fixing my little garden “fence” after Hannah tore it out, digging the wormy strawberries out of Hannah’s mouth – you know, the usual! Jake was riding his “monster truck” (aka – the Dora quad):

and while not an unproductive day…I just felt antsy and kind of blue. Last weekend’s half marathon was one of the worst races for me as far as my mental self talk was concerned. The time was fine, especially considering the conditions, the fact that the hubbs left 2 days later, etc. It just was a tough one mentally. Usually my races like that start out great – lots of race energy and adrenaline. The first 2-3 miles usually FLY by. And while some miles are tougher than others, you muddle through those until you come to the miles that bring the endorphin high where you feel you are soaring and don’t ever want to stop. It’s like body and mind and spirit are completely peaceful even while thinking all kinds of thoughts. I feel on top of the world, making eye contact with another runner, encouraging each other with a simple smile and a wave and all is right with the world.
None of this really happened last weekend. The rain kept running into my hat and down my face. Looking at other runners I saw the same trudging-on-but-I’m-really-not-into-it-today looks. After the first mile I was asking myself, “Why the heck do I do this again?” Oh yeah, cause it helps me stay sane and it’s cheaper than anti-depressants according to my friend Nina!! 🙂 And she’s right! There is a “losing myself” and clearing my mind that I don’t get any other way.

I felt defeated with the race. I have been working out, but I know I can go harder. And my cardio days have been virtually non-existent, due to a sprained toe in part, but mostly laziness. I get caught up with the kids, they don’t want to ride in the stroller or the weather is crap blah blah excuse excuse blah blah blah.

What would my Hawaii self tell my Washington self? Probably something like this:

“Stop being such a whiney baby. If you don’t like the way it’s going – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. You know what to do. Don’t gain a bunch of weight back and use the damn deployment as an excuse!! (yeah, I swear at myself sometimes! 😉 Seriously! People you know do this with 4 and 5 kids. Get a grip! And get moving!”

So I got on my treadmill and ran a couple of miles. It felt SO good to sweat and just run without thinking about time or distance. Sure, I had to stop and break up a couple of kid fights, and peel Jake out from under the treadmill because he “just wanted to look at how it works”. But I got my sweat on and that’s what I needed to do to make my sour lemon attitude into some refreshing lemonade!

Never Say Never

When I worked in banking I used to see the non-showered stay-at-home-moms looking all frazzled and not “making their children behave” as they ran around and got loud. I used to think to myself, “Man, can’t she make those kids mind? My kids will NEVER act like that!”

BWAAHHAHHAHHA!!!

And fast forward to today AS I WAS THAT MOM. Oy.

Never say never is more than a catchy tween tune by the Beibster. (For the record, I really am a 12 year old girl and LOVE me some Justin Beiber!) Anyhoo… yeah, I’m in the bank having just given my 3 1/2 year old and my almost 2 year old a stern warning about “inside voices” and not running around. This is a bank and we do not act like that here.

And as I was getting my transaction transacted, my minions ran up the stairs to the upper offices and down comes an employee lecturing me on how the stairs are dangerous and “they were trying to do business” and would I please take my children downstairs.

Mor.ti.fied.

I left. Luckily I was done with my business because Jake decided to head out without me to the car as I’m trying to round up Hannah. Awesome. I think I’m going to stick to online banking and the drive thru from now on……
But as I was going about my day – I kind of got a little irritable and couldn’t really figure out why. (Other than the fact that we are on the eve of my hubbs’ deployment and the weather is just plain crap! 😉 Was I irritated that I have become what I thought I ‘never’ would? I love my life, don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give up getting to raise my kids for anything. ANYTHING. But sometimes I wonder if we put too much pressure on ourselves (at least I do) to “have it all together”. Regardless of working/staying home to raise kids or some combo of the two – it’s like we all have to put on this face of “I got this figured out,” “My kids are always well behaved” (even though we ALL know that isn’t true!) and our hair/makeup/clothing/fill-in-the-blank are all “camera ready” and perfect all of the time. Is it just me? I am just not one of those women who has mild mannered, always well-behaved children and always looks model perfect. Never have been, probably never will. (But, never say never…..:)

Oh, and in other news, I almost punched a lady today. Yep. In a craft store check out line. Obviously deterred by an assault charge – I resisted, but just barely. Trying to contain Jake’s octopi arms from impulse items while Hannah is simultaneously reaching for something else – gimme a break! There are two of them and only one of me…I’m outnumbered from the start! The lady decides at that moment to tell me (referring to my my head-to-toe-in-pink Hannah) that my SON grabbed something.

Really?! I’m not blind. I know she grabbed something. I was just getting finished with my actual son and what he was grabbing and hadn’t quite made it yet to whatever it was my DAUGHTER had snatched. I know people are trying to help….but really? This was all of course after the bank-cident so I’m sure I was ripe for a knock out with an 80 year old! Oh, and SHE IS A GIRL. As evidenced by the aforementioned head-to-toe PINK. I guess it’s time to get one of those shirts – the ones that announce “Yes, I AM a girl!”.

Frazzled mom in sweats and punching old ladies. Mmmm….good day!

Positives of a deployment…

With deployment looming in the not-so-distant future, I was thinking yesterday about some of the things I actually look forward to during a deployment.

Things like mowing the lawn.
Yep. I actually LOVE mowing the lawn. There is something so gratifying about seeing those freshly made tracks on the grass, the smell of it mixed with gasoline (gross, I know – but I like it!) and doing something physical, getting a little sweaty and being outside! The other added bonus is that my kids see a strong mom that can handle so-called “man jobs”.

Independence
On the tail of the “man jobs”, I find self reliance extremely gratifying. I know that every time I look back at deployments, losing weight, running marathons or any difficult challenges – I am so proud of myself for sticking it out and getting through it.

Other Stuff To Do….
The kids will also learn that while we miss Daddy terribly while he is gone – we can talk about our feelings, cry, get mad – feel our feelings, whatever they may be. And while we are feeling those emotions, still have things to look forward to. Like preschool, play dates and potty training!! (Hannah, not Jake 😉 By the time he returns we will be a diaper-free household!! Hallelujah!!
We are also planting a garden so there will be all kinds of fun with harvesting come this fall! And we’ll (hopefully) get to carve a pumpkin that we grew for Halloween! So fun!

Being “queen of the castle”.
Of course we will be able to make any big decisions together via email or occasional phone calls, but for the “littles”- the daily little decisions, there is no one else I have to check in with. The kids and I can do our own thing when, and if, we want. Or not. 😉

Being over the “everyone’s-crabby-we-know-it’s-coming-pick-a-fight-phase”
Before our first deployment and newly married some 11 years ago, we attended a pre-deployment briefing led by a chaplain. He talked about the emotional stages of deployment, things to be aware of, things to say/not say, etc.  One thing he discussed was this phase about 2-4 weeks before a deployment, most couples will start to emotionally separate, knowing that the deployment is imminent. We would pick fights over silly things, be extra sensitive, etc. I laughed. Surely I am (ahem) mature enough to not act like such a child (she says with her nose in the air).
I was so wrong. It happened and still happens. Every. Single. Deployment. Luckily, we can laugh about it, even as we are in the midst of it, knowing it’s just this yucky phase, and that it will pass. And both of us are looking forward to it being over!

LESS LAUNDRY!
Whew! It’s amazing how one less person makes WAY less laundry! Not that I mind doing laundry (I mean really…. throwing it into a machine is pretty hard, right?!) but it is significantly less clothing to fold and put away. And of course with two kiddos – I have enough already! HA!

Romance.
I’ve often said this isn’t the life for everyone. I think it takes special commitment and dedication to making the best of a separation. (I have to laugh when I watch shows like The Biggest Loser and they get all freaked out from being away from their spouses for a few weeks!) There is truth to the statement that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Deployments aren’t easy.  In fact, I’m finding that the longer we are married, the harder they become, for various reasons. I love my hubbs. And I love looking forward to homecoming!!!