Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In the Waiting Line

I've been asked, "Michelle, why do you blog?"  It's simple...I am a writer.  I write, it's what I do.     This blog is my creative outlet, my fun time and sometimes my way of journaling.  Today it's also a time for reflection on a subject that sometimes gives me the heebie jeebies, and potentially hives.  Waiting.  Ugh.  (I may be exaggerating a little bit.)

I come to you today from a surgical waiting room.   A room created solely for the purpose of doing the obvious.....waiting.  (The name implies nothing positive).   I'm here to support a friend who is having surgery and needed my help.  The nurses just took her back, and asked me to wait here.  Waiting, as I have mentioned, is not something at which I excel.  It requires patience.  Being in waiting mode kind of drives me a little nuts, I'll be honest.  It's ironic because when I'm alone at home, or in Starbucks, lying on a chaise soaking in the sun, etc., idle time is enjoyable to me.  But spending time just waiting for an undetermined length of time,  is a smidge difficult.   Especially when I'm concerned about my friend.  Could it be I just need to change my perspective?

My choices right now: watch the Today Show, with a running commentary of the impact of Hurricane Sandy peppered with political commercials, or find a quiet corner to write.  I chose the quiet corner.    Being in solitude while writing is a wonderful distraction.  A welcome alternative to just waiting and twiddling my thumbs watching mindless TV.

With modern technology I can write anywhere and even post anywhere.  In college I wrote on an actual typewriter, and was limited to my desk.   It was romantic, with the clicking of the keys and the swoosh as the carriage was returned to the start.  But not very convenient.  Spellcheck was a Webster's Dictionary, or my own gut instinct.  And of course lots of White-out.  Writing is a bit easier today.  I carry my iPad everywhere and take all of my notes, write my blog and even write for my job on it.  My office can go wherever I do.  Today I am very grateful for that.

As I said that,  it gave me pause.  Why am I being negative, even if in a small way, about being here?  How counter-productive is that?!   Well, enough!  I am changing my attitude right now, and am getting into gratitude.   I am grateful that I can be here for my friend.   I am grateful for the coffee I'm sipping.  I'm grateful for my health, my smile which has emerged, and for this day.  I am grateful that I have the privilege of having some free time and time to give to others.  I am grateful for the opportunity to see that waiting can be a good thing, and that learning patience is a great thing.  I have no room in my life for negative energy.

Why rush life?  Just chill and let things play out.  I'm going to let the balls bounce around me and resist the urge to catch them and take control.  It can be so freeing.

This is why I blog.  Why I write.  While exercising my creativity, I can gain insight.  I can catch the errors of my way and make amendments.   And lo and behold, I did this while WAITING.  Imagine that?!

Meditation. Yoga.  It's how I start every day.  A change in perspective can, and should happen every day.  Every time negativity creeps in, I should pause and examine my motives for allowing that to happen.  I have a feeling that by doing that on a regular basis I will grow.  I'm learning to look at my part in every situation.  Not blame people or things for everything.  Chances are when I look within, I will see that I have some responsibility.

Suddenly I'm feeling great.  I'm still waiting, but I have a completely different outlook on it.  And I'm sure that my positive outlook will further help my friend when she comes out of surgery.

That's about it for now.  Going to say some prayers for the millions of people affected by Hurricane Sandy.   I've heard many sad stories.  Thankfully my family is well, and my sister (who lives on the beach in Virginia) is A-OK.  For that I'm grateful.  The politicians featured in the commercials I'm avoiding are on their own.

Thank you for being part of my attitude shift today.  Peace, Out.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I'm sipping on a tall Americano and bundled in jeans and a comfy sweater. It's chilly here in Indiana.  Which is ironic, as yesterday I was flittering about town in biking shorts and a tank top.  It was 80 degrees and sunny.  It felt like summertime.  I spent the previous afternoon on my bike enjoying the beautiful day and marveling at the brilliant green of the grass and the bright blue sky.   Peace.

Today it is 45 degrees and overcast.  There was heavy rain this morning.  Apparently this is common Indiana weather.  It could feel like summer one day, late fall/early winter the next.    I've lived here for 19 years, and I am still not accustomed to it.  I'm still an east-coast gal.

When I woke up in a cool room (I had opened the windows the night before), and heard rain hitting the rooftop this morning, I thought about staying in bed.  But I chose to get up and get moving instead.  Life has been a roller coaster recently, and I know better than to stay idle.   The best way for me to get out of myself, and out of the dumps is to exercise.  Get the endorphins moving.

I bundled up, put on a rain jacket and a baseball hat, my winter running pants and my sneakers and headed outside.

I ran unplugged today.  I reveled in raindrops sprinkling my face, the quiet sound of my feet touching the wet pavement rhythmically and an occasional passing car.  I turned off the main road and ran toward the river.  It was beautiful, because I chose to see it as such.  Today I welcomed the rain, and looked for the beauty in the trees, bare of their leaves, rising from the ground as if sculptures.

Thoughts and feelings danced in my head, even though there was no music.  I let them dance.  I allowed myself to feel.  I allowed the warm tears to join the raindrops on my face.  And it felt good.  It is wonderful to feel and not to numb as I've done in the past.  My intention was to run 4 miles, I ran 8.  I felt renewed and refreshed.

I talked about letting go in my last post.   Today I was reminded that letting go is not the end.  Letting go, even if just for the time being, is just the beginning.  It is a process in life.  Feelings and sadness don't just go away magically on their own.  The difference in turning it over and letting go is I am handling my feelings and not being consumed by them.  Taking action over what I can control and letting go of what I can't.  What other choice is there?

After my therapeutic run, and a hot shower, I met some very good friends.  My posse.  My girls.  I needed to be around others......hear their laughter, and laugh with them.   Laughter is hands down the ultimate cure for pretty much everything.  The most important part of being with them was I sincerely needed to get out of my own head.  If I stay up there too long......well, no good can come of it!

That's it for now....T.G.I.F.!  Have a great weekend y'all!  And remember....when all else fails....LAUGH.  (Or at least smile.)

Peace, out xoxo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Letting Go

Letting go.  Such little words that have the potential to pack a big punch.  Possibly life changing.  I've been pondering the art of letting go recently.

I'll tell you a story about my son, which comes to mind.  When he was a small child he loved cars.  He had hundreds of little matchbox cars that he would play with for hours.  I remember he kept them in this big canister.  One time he reached in and was determined to gather as many as he could in his hand, but when he tried to pull his hand out he could not.  He had so many cars clutched in his fist that his hand would not fit through the opening of the canister.  He cried and cried, and I rushed into the room.  He said "Mommy, my hand is stuck".  I said, "Well honey, just let go of the cars!"  He said "I can't Mommy I love them and want to play with them!"

Just let go of the cars!  It sounds so logical and simple, doesn't it?

Is letting go really logical and simple?

I relate this story to me as an adult.  To let go of something means to say goodbye to something or someone I care about.  If I let go, I will not have that person or thing which I love so much in my grasp.     To let go is unthinkable!  This would mean to give up control.  This will hurt.  But what I've failed to see is by holding on so tightly I actually cannot have the object of my desire close to me anyway.  Did I ever really have it?

As a human being, I love.  I love big.  I give of myself freely.  To love means happiness, joy, fulfillment.  The cornerstone of life.  Pure.  An emotion you have to feel to understand.  The basis of love is simple, really.   Until it isn't.

Letting go could be in reference to a person, a friend.  It could be letting go of an idea, or of a character flaw.  The truth is, letting go is not so simple when it comes right down to it.

Does the act of letting go mean to give up hope?  To me, hope is everything.  (Again, it is tattooed on my wrist.)  Hope also packs quite a punch.   To me, hope equates optimism.

Then there is the theory of holding on.  Holding on could portray loyalty and faith.  Hope.  Or it could represent desperation.  Clinging to something or someone, in the hope it will all work out.  But at this point does hope become foolishness?

I've found that when the dilemma of letting go vs holding on comes up, as it has to me recently, this is probably time to face a difficult decision.  Clearly I am holding on because what I'm holding is very dear to me.  In the past, this is the point in time where I would usually go into denial, or try to ignore or numb myself to the situation.  To face possible hurt was unthinkable.  However, today I am approaching difficult situations in my life with a much clearer mind.  I'm being (gasp) logical in my thinking.   I've made a lot of changes in recent years.  I have had to let go of old ideas, and old behaviors in order to allow growth to come in.  I am not saying by a long shot that this has been easy.  It has been a lot of work.  A lot of soul searching.  In effect, I have changed my very personality.  Remolded myself.  I kid you not.

Friends tell me I'm strong.  Maybe.  But this doesn't mean I don't hurt.  I do.  Letting go of something, while it is the right thing to do, is very difficult.  When the time comes, I have to detach with love.  I hesitate to say this brings closure, because closure is too permanent.  Some people think that giving closure is a good thing.  I don't believe in complete closure.  I don't think any door is ever really closed.  It may be a cliche', but I believe when one door closes a window opens.

So today, I am letting go.  It is the right thing to do.  I feel very sad, but somewhat lighter in having made the right choice.

Just let go of the cars.  Because when I let go, there is a chance to take them back, one at a time.  Hope.

100 Hilly Miles

Great to be back!  It's been a few days since I've been able to sit down and write for fun.  Work and all that jazz kind of took the drivers seat.  Not to mention a little bike ride I did this weekend.

This marks my second year riding the Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour in southern Indiana.  It is a grueling, immensely fun, two day event covering 100.5 miles and 8,737 feet of climbing.  To be honest, before I did the ride last year I had no idea Indiana even had any hills.  Let alone the fierce climbs we faced during "The Hilly", as the locals call it.  The Hilly is a bit of an institution I've come to find out.  Some of the climbs are legendary.  One "hill" in particular (we will call it a hill...but truthfully viewed from the bottom it appears to go straight up) reputably earns you "bragging rights" if you make it (on your bike, walking does not count) all the way to the top.  Mt Tabor.  I did not even get halfway up the infamous hill last year.  This year I was determined I was going to make it.  It would be mine.  Not a shred of doubt.

A group of us met at the crack (of dawn)  on Saturday, to caravan southward, as is the tradition.  We are an eclectic mix of cyclists and triathletes who are also good friends.  We did a little carb loading, then headed south.

It was a cold, damp morning.  However, the weather forecast predicted sunny skies for the day, so we weren't concerned.  We should have been.  As sometimes is the case, the weatherman had the forecast slightly off.  Okay way off.

We arrived in Elletsville, a quaint little town near Bloomington, IN.  We got our gear ready, started out and almost immediately it began to drizzle.    My glasses were covered in little polka dots of rain, and water dripped from my helmet.  I was not adequately prepared, and was not dressed for wet weather.  It was cold.  However as usual, I was optimistic and was certain the clouds would clear, the rain would stop and we would be given a rainbow.  Didn't happen.

To paint a little picture of the day, it was fun but dangerous.  We were riding and climbing on wet, leaf-covered roads with 5,000 other cyclists.  The downhills were especially treacherous.  I had to be on constant alert.   I think I must have said "passing on your left" a thousand times.  But of course, all of this added to the fun.  As you know, I love love love being on my bike.

Lunch was a time to meet up with the group, and other friends riding in the event.  It was also a time to huddle up and catch some warmth.  The Hilly lunch stop is raved about, and the traditional fried chicken is fabled as the best.   Nonetheless, I opted for PB & J.   We didn't rest for long, as we were all wet and shivering.  After lunch we rode fast.  Our main goal at that point was to get back to the hotel and take a hot shower.  The rain did subside a bit after lunch, and we were able to take in some beautiful scenery.

That evening we all took part in another tradition....Nick's.  Nick's is a bar in Bloomington, and is a favorite of Indiana University students and the like.  More laughter and carb loading.  Traditions are good!!

The next morning when I looked outside it was clear, and not a cloud in the sky!  What a difference a day makes.  It was cold, but we didn't care.  Anything was better than the previous day.  It turned out to be so beautiful and a perfect day for a ride.


The views were spectacular.   Brown county is known for it's beauty in the fall.  The views on the road were equally enjoyable, as there were cute cycling boys everywhere.  It is one of the perks of my sport.    It was fun chatting with others along the route and meeting new and interesting people.

I do have to admit, however that several times on Sunday I said to myself "you are freaking crazy.  What sane person does this?!"  The climbs were tough and my quads were screaming.   My somewhat moaning exhales as I kept my breathing rhythmic drew a few interested glances as I climbed the Bean Blossom monstrosity and the torture that was Mt Tabor.  I may have thrown a few people off a bit.  Oops my bad.  But I did it!!  Climbed Mt Tabor successfully and am damn proud of it!  Maiden of the Hill!

Lunch on day two was a party!  I briefly contemplated the fried chicken, but again opted for PB & J.  Peanut butter is my nemesis but today I earned it.  There was a live band and we ran into a lot of cycling friends from Indianapolis.   In a word, it was a blast.

The rest of the day passed quickly and we arrived at the finish line.  It was bittersweet, as this ride marks the last of the races on my calendar (The Hilly is not a race to most, but to me it was!  Riding fast is fun!)

Our discussion as we were packing up was 2013 and everyone's race/ride plan. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that I already have my plans set for 2013.  It's how I roll....what can I say?!   No tears over the past, only looking forward to the next adventure(s)!    My winter training begins next week.  Can't wait!!  Idle hands (arms, legs, etc.) have no place in my life.  But it will be much more moderate and less structured for a few months.  And of course I will make plenty of time for rest, and to stop and enjoy the view.  Pause.

Catch you soon.....

Thursday, October 18, 2012

In Touch with my Inner Goddess

I think I've finally come to grips with the fact that in order to really be ME, I've got to stop worrying so much about what other people think of me.  My inner goddess is itching to come out.  She's been dormant for too many years.

I've spent most of my life living in the shadows, doing as I'm told and trying to make everyone around me happy.  To make everyone like me.  To be the Good Girl.  But reality is....not everyone is going to like me!  Well...I'm sure most people will like me, just not all of them!  I'm snarky what can i say?  All I can do is live for the moment, put my best foot forward and just be Michelle.

              It's none of my business what other people think about me!

                              Speaking of putting my best foot forward:

Got a little work done today:)   I originally got the "Serenity" tattoo about 3 years ago.  But as I've grown, I wanted to embellish my serenity a little.  And also the tattoo.    So on a whim, I stepped into the only tattoo parlor in Carmel.  (At least it's the only one I've ever seen.)  I was driving down Main Street, and as I passed the tattoo shop, I noticed an empty parking place directly in front.  It was a sign!  So I parked (yes....parallel!!) and went right in.  Now, those of you who know me well know that I'm not spontaneous.  At all.  I'm a planner.  I am most comfortable when I have my week all scheduled so I know what I'm doing and when I'm doing it.  God help you if schedule something last minute!  But lately, call me crazy, the fun part of me is coming out more.  Suddenly I'm not afraid of spontaneity.

So I threw caution to the wind and took a risk.  I'm so happy I did!  The work is beautiful and I am so pleased with the result.  It's my party and I'll smile if I want to.  My body....my choice.

I even put in my pink and purple hair extensions this afternoon.   I like them, they make me smile.  It's not something you'd expect from a Carmel Housewife.  Which is why I'm wearing them today.....because I want to!   And I'm not letting it hold me back that some people might find it unacceptable.  I find it acceptable and that's all that matters.  I'll have you know, my daughter and her best friend came home after school and loved both my hair and the tattoo.  They never even hinted that moms shouldn't have cool tattoos or pink hair.

I then proceeded to tell my daughter "No, you may NOT get a tattoo."

Sometimes I feel that since I was given a second chance in life, in a way I've started over.  And that's pretty cool.  Not everyone faces death in the face, gets a reprieve and a realization that they can make their future whatever they want it to be.  I know I was spared for something, what that is simply hasn't emerged yet.  But I'll know it when it happens.  Until then, I'm just going to keep on keeping on.  One day at a time.

So today I'm appreciating the strength I'm gaining.  And loving the fact that this formerly uptight Mom did something spontaneous just because the moment felt right.  I'm also happy that my daughter thinks I'm cool.   How do I know this?    She tells me!  And she never rolls her eyes at me.  Seriously.

It was a good day!

See you soon.  I have a lot coming up this weekend so I should have some interesting posts coming up.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Confessions of a Solo Cyclist

It's a beautiful fall day.  Cool, sunny and not a cloud in the sky.  I know because my desk faces the window.  I'm watching birds frolic in the sky and I'm feeling a bit cranky and envious of them.  I need a break!  I think I'll go for a ride.

Confession:  I love to ride my bike solo.  It's exhilarating.  I can choose whatever path might tickle my fancy.  Freedom.  I can stop to tweet pictures, or jot notes down for my blog or enjoy the scenery.  Or not...it's up to me.  Confession: I tend to like to be in control, and when it's just me it's more acceptable.

Practically everyone has advised me to never ride alone.  Buddy system and all.  Safety in numbers.  But as you know, I'm stubborn.  I like to take risks and go with the flow.   Now I do have to say, that since my accident I've been a little leery about going out alone.  (Getting knocked unconscious is always better when you have friends there to help!)  But the draw of a solo ride on a beautiful day is too much for me to pass up.

As a triathlete, during peak training times it's often necessary to ride solo.  After all, when I race it's a solo endeavor so it's best to train under the same conditions.  No one to draft in a race, as in a USAT sanctioned race, drafting is a no-no.

I like riding by myself mainly for the serenity.  My days have been hectic lately, and to take an hour or two and disappear with my bike is heaven.  I can talk to myself (or to my bike) and no one notices, or if they do I am happily unaware.  (Confession:  a peek into my personality...I talk to myself, sometimes out loud.  Ok..ok, often out loud.  I talk to the TV, especially during something particularly dramatic such as the Presidential Debate or Real Housewives of New York.  Girrrl!   It cracks my kids up.  Don't judge....you know you do it too!  I am a bit silly, and it makes me laugh.  Life is too short not to have laughter...especially at my own expense).  Back to the post... My "me time" is rare, so it's a little indulgence to venture out on my bike.

Confession:  Ok, sometimes I watch The Real Housewives.  Hey, any drama that I'm not really part of is alright in my book!

It was an awesome ride today!  I was smiling, and people passing me probably thought "what the hell is that chick smiling about?!"  I smile when I'm happy, and today I was definitely happy.

I rode out of suburbia and into the country.  Indiana has wonderful country roads, and it's nearly impossible to get lost because all roads seem to run in a box shape.  Traffic is usually minimal which makes for a peaceful ride.  The roads today were lined with trees of yellow and red, and cornstalks that had turned golden brown with autumn.   Some would say the fields are dead, but to me they are alive with beauty.  I look at nature differently now, so even a cornstalk can be viewed as a work of art.

Of course, I still manage to get lost from time to time.  Thank God for my iPhone and GPS otherwise I may end up in Ohio.  I told you I get really into my rides!

I did not get lost today.  The only drawback today was the winds.  35+ mph wind gusts.  They were not noticeable on my way out, as they were blowing in the same direction I was riding.  However, when I turned around to head back, it was a completely different story!  My legs were working overtime and I could barely get over 14 mph.  It was a bit of a drag (ha ha ha).  I had to stop several times to catch my breath!  (And to take pictures.)

But it was so worth it!  I'm home safe and sound and back at my desk.  Back to reality so to speak.  I love how a brief reprieve during the day allows me to center myself and come back with a clear head ready to get back at it.  Life is a gift!

Just had to share with you.  As you know by now, this isn't the only blog post where I've confessed little things about me to you.  Just being honest.  See you soon...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Relax....It's All Good

Basically I'm sitting on my patootie right now.  I've been in this position for well over an hour.  I'm strongly considering taking a nap.

I also just finished eating a chocolate chip cookie.  Okay....let's be honest, I ate two.  And milk.  And they were delicious.    I baked them, so I should be able to eat one or two right?  The bananas and apples were right there....but I was feeling the urge to be bad.  Being bad is fun.

To most of you, this may not sound very earth shattering.   However, it feels like decadence to me.  I don't eat cookies on a regular basis.  I typically eat a clean diet (a.k.a. boring as hell).  I like to keep busy, and I usually fill my day with plenty of activities.   A body in motion.....yada, yada, yada.   I don't take a nap unless I have the flu.  So what's going on?  What caused me to throw caution to the wind and make such crazy, out-of-the-norm decisions to do things like sit on my tush and eat cookies?    I could take  my usual approach, which would be to over-analyze my actions (or lack thereof).  Or, I could just call it what it is:  I feel like chillin' out and being a little bad!   Simple.  I'm finding that simplicity is so much better than making things complicated, as I've done in the past.   It's just so much easier.  Maybe the over-thinking should be next on my streamlining list.

The day has been hectic.  My alarm went off at 6:30 and I did some laundry then went on a group bike ride.  It is a Saturday staple for me.   My bike (a.k.a. Lover) is my happy place (when I'm not crashing it) and almost always gives me a little serenity.   It wasn't the most serene of rides today, as it was extremely windy and a lot of work.  It took us about two and a half hours to go 40 miles.   I had a blast.  Great company with strong cyclists.  We took turns drafting (sucking the wheel of the rider in front of you)  and leading the pace line.   We rode past the scene of my accident, and our group leader (who had been present when I crashed) showed us the exact spot  and also pointed out the bloodstain that still remains on the pavement.  Three weeks and it's still there.  Sobering to see.  And yet, it was a good reminder.   I'm not taking things for granted these days, and I'm going to add cycling to that list.  The accident could have been so much worse than it was.  Seeing that visible bloodstain was a reminder that the sport I love is very dangerous.   Even so, I love the element of speed, adrenaline and danger!  It gives me a rush beyond compare.  I have learned from the crash (and the aftermath of the concussion I am slowly recovering from) to always be aware of my surroundings.   No more brain-blogging or losing myself in my thoughts (a habit of mine) as I've written about in the past.  That is a luxury I can't afford.    Defensive Cycling 101.

After the ride I attended my son's football game, which of course his team dominated.  It was a fun time with friends and family.  More adrenaline.

With the excitement of the day, I was tired and a little worn out when I got home.  So I sat down to chill before getting in the shower.   Two hours later and here I still sit!  And I couldn't be happier.  I'm sure you are thinking that I am probably pretty ripe and should get in the shower.  Well you would be correct in that assumption.

I am going to a party tonight, so a shower would probably be wise.  After that I will go shopping in my closet to put together a fabulous ensemble.  Maybe I'll put on some heels with my jeans, and put on lipstick.  So I will say ta-ta for now and head out for the evening.  But first,  I think I might have another chocolate chip cookie.

See you soon!

One final thought:  Life is too short for simply existing and being so disciplined all of the time.  I am learning (finally) what is truly valuable.  Life should be enjoyed and every day should be filled with laughter.  Life should be lived to the fullest.   Every day that passes should be a day to be proud of.

Just existing.....where is the life in that?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Just a Few Thoughts....

Before I head off to bed for a night of sleep I so badly need, I want to share a few thoughts with you:

I'm human.
I'm not perfect.
Sometimes I speak before my brain catches up with my words.
Sometimes I'm impulsive.
Sometimes I forget that I need to pause.

I'm giving you a glimpse into my life in this blog.  And my intention of doing this is to be true to myself. You're getting to see the real me.  Most days I'm on my game....some days I'm simply off.

I would say I've been in a bit of an off period the last couple of weeks, and especially in the last couple of days.  I was physically set back for awhile by the accident, and recently there have been some life set backs.  Occasionally life just happens.  Usually when you're not expecting it.  I have no control over this, but what I do have control over is how I handle it.

I'm being vague....I am tired.  I apologize.

I'm hinting at a few upcoming blog posts here.

I came to a turning point this evening when I read a comment from a colleague on my last post.  (My last post "Joy in Laughter" was a follow-up piece to a post I had written over the weekend, "Fashionista in Suburbia".)   My colleague called me out, and really made me think about why I wrote the follow up piece.   It was eye opening to say the least, and was a good reminder as to why I'm writing this blog.  My purpose is to be open and honest about my journey through life.   Putting my experiences and my random thoughts out there.  Falling down, getting up, looking back and learning about why I fell.  Laughing at myself.

Putting myself out there makes me vulnerable.  I'm okay with that.  Vulnerability is not a place I would have been comfortable a couple of years ago.  It still gives me a little pause.  But in order to overcome fear, I know I have to face it head on.  Allowing myself to be vulnerable allows me to be really honest.  Sure, I may get my feelings hurt.  But would I be true to myself if I didn't put myself out there?  I'm learning a lot about me in this blog.  It is making me stronger.  I am a writer, something I've always dreamed about.

Truth is...I second guessed myself yesterday.  Or rather, I second guessed my own writing.  A close friend told me "Fashionista in Suburbia" didn't sound like me.  It really threw me for a loop!  I thought "how can this be?"  So after agonizing over it for several hours, I wrote the follow-up piece to clarify myself.

This is not me.  I'm not a conformist.  I am my own person and I think this is why this friend grew to love me.  So I'm not sure why I let this comment make me be so hard on myself that I would write the follow-up piece.  I need to stand by my work and be proud of it.  I know that some days I may not come across the same way I will another day.  It depends on the mood du jour.  Owning what I say and what I ultimately publish is the only way I'm going to be.

So this is good.  I learned a little something about myself today!  And as I always say, it's becoming clearer the more I write.  There is passion in my words, can you feel it?

Just now, I happened to be looking through Twitter and noticed that BlogCatalog shared my post "Fashionista in Suburbia" on their Twitter feed.  Made me feel pretty good that out of hundreds of blogs, that one was shared tonight.  I must have done something right.

To quote William Paisley @YourPocketGuru, "If you had a "bad" day, don't worry....we all have a reset button.  It's called tomorrow."  Tomorrow is a new day, and a whole new chance to wipe the slate clean, brush myself off and start fresh.

Tomorrow is actually already here....as usual I'm up much too late.  Alarm set to go off at 6:00am.
Early bird and all :)  Namaste.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Joy in Laughter

I'm sure by now, if you have been reading my posts you have seen a common thread.  My intention of this blog is to be honest about me and my growth in my trek through life.  In a way, it is my journal that you all get to read!  (The toned-down version of my journal that is).   I consider myself an open book (ask me anything!), but this blog has to be clean.    My Dad occasionally reads it.  Some things are going to be on the down-low.   Despite the PG-13 rating,  I speak my truth in my posts and what I write about comes from my heart.  (If you want the down and dirty, just wait until my book comes out, ha ha.)  Sorry Dad.  And you might be thinking, after reading my last post, "what's all this about fashion?!  Where did this come from suddenly?!"  Is this the same girl?

Don't you just love how I refer to myself as a "girl"?  It goes to my personality.  I like to think of myself as fun, loving, free-spirited and joyful.  My favorite thing to do is to hang out with my kids and their friends and laugh about silly stuff.  Ask my kids and they will confirm this as fact.  My favorite movies are Fletch and So I Married an Axe Murderer (Mike Myers playing his character's Scottish father brings me to tears every time!).  To sum it up, I am a girl.  In every way.  Wink wink.  I believe that laughter is the best medicine.  I can find humor and a smile even in the midst of anguish.  But that's just me.  I've been given a new chance at life, and while I may screw up (A LOT), I'm trying to do my best every day.

A very close friend, who's opinion matters a great deal to me, mentioned  that my post yesterday didn't sound like me.  I took this to heart, so I just re-read the post "Fashionista in Suburbia".  I still think of it as a fun piece, a little stray from the norm.  A "fluff" piece.  But I can see where I may have come across as a bit snobbish throwing Vogue around.   And it may have seemed that I hold material items such as designer threads in high regard.  I actually don't.  I have clothes in my closet that are boutique-purchased, but they are hanging next to clothes I bought at Target.  Vintage t-shirts are my absolute favorite possessions in my closet.   However,  I really do love to read Vogue!  I just don't consider myself a slave to clothes and fashion.  This may have come across in that post.   But I will say that I do consider fashion to be fun.  A lot of fun!

As a little girl, I loved to play dress up.  My Grandmother had this trunk filled with her old gowns, jewelry, shoes and bags.  I would spend hours pretending to be a fashionista socialite.   They had to drag me away from the trunk at dinner time.  I remember one time (when my mother wasn't there), I begged my Grandmother to let me wear one of the gowns to the grocery store.  (My Grandmother never said no to me).  Of course she let me!  It is a memory that I cherish.  I even wore high heels that were much too big for me.  I think I was 6 and I felt like a princess.

As an athlete, a lot of my time is spent training.  As such, most mornings I throw on workout clothes, do my "chores", take care of the kiddos, workout, work.  At some point I will take a shower and put on jeans.  This is my every day typical day.   I have 19 pairs of jeans. The dresses I own are in protective bags because I so rarely wear them.  (Except for the summer sundresses....they become part of my uniform when it's hot, just being honest.)

What I was eluding to in my post is my love to get dressed up.  Looking through Vogue and pretending I could wear the beautiful clothes is a fantasy.  I do love to go shopping and love new clothes.  But these days, I'm being practical. I'm shopping in my own closet.   Sticking to the basics, because that's what matters.   What matters most to me is not buying expensive clothes, or what it says on the label.   What matters most to me is being the best person I can be.  Someone my parents can be proud of.  They weren't always so proud of me, but in the last few years that has changed, as I have.   I can look at myself in the mirror today and like who looks back.   It is especially important to me to be the kind of person my children are proud of.  There is nothing superficial about me.  I hope I did not give that impression.   The people in my life who really know me to my core are few, and I hold them dear and very close to my heart.  (You know who you are!!)

As I sit here in my usual attire of jeans and a sweatshirt (it's 40 degrees outside and I can't get warm) and type this, I'm smiling.  I'm smiling because I love to write and share the real me with you.  This is my passion, and (this may sound corny but I'm going to say it anyway) why I think I was given a second chance at life.  What you see is pretty much what you get.  And if you think I'm coming across differently, please feel free to ask me about it.  Seriously.


In closing I am going to be honest and say that yes, occasionally I will put on a gown and high heels and I will love it.  When I do, I feel like a princess.  That's just me.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Fashionista in Suburbia

OK....I've been put on a budget.  Or rather, I'm putting myself on a budget.  With the fall season here (it arrived sooner than I expected), I'm looking to Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and of course my online sources for inspiration for Fall fashion.  If I were to step foot in a shopping mall, or God forbid make the semi-annual trip to Chicago and Michigan Avenue (a.k.a. Magnificent Mile), as well as the many off-avenue boutiques I love in Chicago.....it could be quite dangerous.  And since I'm a struggling writer attempting to pay for my own fashion, might prove impossible.  But a girl can dream.

When the seasons change, I naturally want to go shopping.  Because everything in my closet is "so last year".  And wouldn't possibly work for 2012.    I love fashion, especially shoes...and bags.  I'm an accessories junkie.  I also just love the feel of a new outfit.  It is a powerful feeling to step out in something new...clothes that just feel good when I put them on and that I'm confident look good on me.  My confidence soars if I love what I'm wearing.

But let's be realistic.  I live in Carmel, Indiana.  I am part of suburbia in which the dress code is frequently Lululemon athletic wear, or jeans and a t-shirt.  Which is great!  Very appropriate and comfortable.  (I can be quite dangerous in Lululemon believe me!!)   I live in jeans, t-shirts and workout clothes.  But in my mind I'm a fashionista city girl trapped in a suburban wardrobe.  I'm a creative spirit, an artist, shouldn't I dress like one?

My fantasy life includes many things, especially recently.  My ultimate fantasy is to be able to afford whatever fashion items that I might fancy.  (Of course this falls after world peace and feeding the hungry of the world).  First things first, then fashion.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to see something in a shop window, or in a magazine and just be able to go out and purchase it?  Right now I'm passionate about anything Burberry Prorsum or Lanvin.  But really, would this work for a PTO meeting or coffee with an editor?  In Indiana?  Hmmmmm...

As I've reluctantly come to realize, fantasy is not reality.  As depressing as that may be, it's true (it's reality so to speak!)  That's not to say this girl will not continue to dream.  Who knows....sometimes fantasy does become reality.  Just saying, it could happen....

So, come back to earth Michelle, and welcome back to suburbia.  In reality I'm well aware I cannot buy what I want when I want it.  (DARN it.)  It is not my reality to purchase all of the clothes I see in Vogue for the new season.  So...where does that leave me?  As a creative spirit, it actually leaves me with many options.  I just have to look for them.  Where else?  My own closet.

I'm seeking inspiration to create new looks with what I already own, then simply shop for a few items to jazz up the ensembles.  Jeans and a t-shirt with my hair left wild, a statement piece of jewelry, and really awesome shoes.  A little black dress with my hair worn up, bright tights and really awesome shoes.  I could go on.....but you probably have the idea.    And it really comes down to the basics and a little imagination.  I should have thought of this years ago, but I think with a lot of things, my creativity was lying dormant.  Unleashing it is opening a lot of doors for me, come to find out.

When I looked through my closet, I found I have a lot more shoes, bags, jeans, etc. than I thought I did.  And it was really kind of fun putting pieces together.    Pieces I didn't remember having.  With a little resourcefulness I have more to work with than I thought.  And isn't this a metaphor for life?  In looking a little deeper, I'm finding I have a lot more to give than I could have imagined. Things we loved once upon a time can can be rediscovered.

And that, my friends, is pretty cool.  So look inside your "closet"....you might be surprised with what you have.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Am I Easy?

Got your attention, didn't I?!  Well, it's true.  Not exactly in the way you might be thinking, however. (If your mind is anything like mine.)  In this case I'm talking about my interaction with my son, Nick.  My nickname for him is "my little cutie".  It's what I've always called him because, well it just fits him.   I think it's okay for me to out him as my "little cutie" in this forum, because the chance of him (or any of his friends) reading my blog is slim to none.  And that is okay with me, as I occasionally may post something that I don't want him to know.  For example, his Mom (gasp) is not perfect, as I am sure he thinks I am.  Besides, I'm going to talk about how great he is.

Nick is twelve, and is very polite, handsome, smart, athletic.....I could go on and on.   He's also funny, and is always making me laugh.  He's just got a natural way of putting people at ease, and drawing laughter from them.   Yesterday I went into his room to put laundry away and found a very tiny pencil on his desk.  He had sharpened it down so far it was really just the pencil point with an eraser.

I will say, I am pretty easy to bring to laughter, but it struck me as hilarious.   I laughed so hard tears were streaming down my face.  The pencil showed how dedicated my son can be.  And hysterical.  I wonder where he gets it?!  He wasn't even there and he made me laugh.

I have to admit, he literally has me wrapped around his little finger.  I'm starting to suspect that he knows this.  To me he's still that innocent little boy who called me Mommy.  Not the older child who is well on his way to being a teenager.  Much to his older sister's irritation, I am easily charmed by him.  He gets away with stuff I never would have dreamed of letting her do.  It could be because he's the youngest....or it could be that I'm easily sweet talked into giving him what he wants.  It's true, I admit it!  I'm easy.  (Don't let that get out!)  Or it could be that since Kendall is a girl, I'm hip to her game.  She is just like me, and I can figure out what she's planning before she does it.   Probably because I did it all.   (But that, my friends is material for another time!)

Boys have always been my weakness.  I can be armed and ready when it comes to interacting with other women, however with boys it's another story.    And Nick, being a boy, is probably my biggest weakness.  Perhaps it's the mother bear thing, who knows.

When I put my foot down,  he gives me his "little cutie" smile and I melt.  Then I very frequently cave.  I know I'm not doing him any favors.  I could be creating a monster.   So far this hasn't happened, or at least I have not seen evidence of it happening (although his sister might tell a different story).    To me, he's still the same sweet boy he's always been.  But puberty is looming.  It is inevitable.  He will not be so little and sweet anymore.  Yikes, I'm not quite ready for that.  I'm too young!   (Because it is all about me, right?!)  I suppose in my mind I was conveniently forgetting that for Nick, early childhood is turning too quickly into adolescence.

In writing this, it's dawning on me that it's time for a change.   I should avert my eyes from the "little cutie" face, put my foot down, and keep it down when appropriate.   Try something different.  Although I am sincere when I say this is rarely necessary with Nick.  He is a pretty good, respectful kid.  Still, I suspect this new approach will not be well-received by him, and might prove difficult for me to stick to.  After all, I am easy.   Well, it will just be a good time for me to practice using my slowly strengthening back bone.  It's probably going to mean letting go of some fear.  Fear that my little boy might be upset with me.  Fear that my little boy is growing up, and in order for him to be rightly prepared for "real life", he's going to have to have boundaries.  As usual, the more I write, the clearer it becomes.

Life is full of disappointments.  I get told "NO" all the time!  It's all part of the deal.  I'm learning that I'm capable of changing for the better.  And since I hold all of the power, so can Nick.  Well, I suppose I am the one who will ultimately be making the changes, but Nick can adapt.  For the better.  So, I'm going to be tightening up the boundaries.  This will be a good thing, and someday Nick will thank me for it!  Right?


Not to worry Kendall, my sweet sixteen year old.  Don't feel left out.  There will be a blog post dedicated to you in the future! :)  Fair's fair.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


No matter what the circumstances, I can always find something to be grateful for.   Today for example.  It's gloomy, raining, and dark.  Not even a glimpse of the sun.  And it's not a gentle rain, or even a downpour.  It's that misty, spitting kind of all day soaker.  The kind of day where the dampness seeps into my pores and chills me to the bone.  The kind of day when it makes sense to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head.  Surely no one could blame me?

But the alarm clock buzzed at 5:00am.  I didn't have an excuse to stay in bed.  I had a workout to do, house to clean, dinner to put into the Crock Pot and laundry to start before the kids got up.  (Remember, the early bird gets the worm.  I at least attempt to remind myself of this when I quietly curse the alarm clock every morning.)  Then when the kids walked out the door at 7:30am, my day really began. Writing for a few hours transformed to a meeting at 10am, another at 11am, then a dash home to let the dog out at noon.  When I arrived at the house, it was not the Crock Pot smell that greeted me, but the smell of doggy barf.  Frank the Dog had left a little, ok a huge, mess all over the kitchen floor (the kitchen floor I had cleaned just this morning).  And when I say all over, I mean ALL OVER.  Good times.

But when I looked at his face (he clearly felt bad), I just had to smile and be grateful that Frank is in my life.  I've certainly cleaned up worse.   Poor kid, he couldn't help it.  Maybe one of these days I'll train Frank to use the potty like most of the civilized people I know.  I have mentioned Frank's positive traits in previous blog posts, but I'm sure you can imagine how fantastic he is.

Anyway.... I cleaned up the mess, and was out the door again.   I returned home at 4:00pm to greet Nick (my son)  when he got off the bus from school.  We hung out together for a bit and we are soon heading for football practice.   After practice we will pick up my daughter, Kendall, from the library and head home.   A day in the life people!  Never a dull moment.

So it would seem that with the weather, a busy day, dog barf, then more running around, etc. that I would be in a pretty lousy mood.  Not so!  There is gratitude in me.  Today I am grateful for feeling good so that I GET to do these things!  I am grateful that I am able to be present to be productive, be here for my family, and to do so with a smile on my face.  And I am extremely grateful for my health, no headache and no vertigo.  I don't wish that on anyone.

Several years ago, a friend suggested that I write a gratitude list every day.  At the time she made the  suggestion, I was not in a very good place in my life and was not receptive.  I pretty much blew it off.  However, in recent years I have given more stock to the idea of a gratitude list.   Today I start my mornings with a little yoga, reflection time, and the making of a gratitude list.  It's the absolute last thing I want to do at 5:15am.  At 5:15am I'd rather be sleeping.  However, in starting each day putting my thoughts in a happy place, and setting my intention on the positive, it's remarkable how much happier I am.  My days are never quite right if I skip a morning of this routine.  After my accident a week or so ago, I didn't do my normal routine for some time.  I hadn't done it the morning of the accident (as I thought I'd do it after I rode).   Now that I am feeling like myself again (I resist the urge to write my "old" self again....) I am reminded how important it is.  It's my serenity amidst chaos.  The reason I'm a genuinely happy person 98% of the time is because I start the day centering myself and focusing on gratitude.  It's when I stray from that, and my morning reflection, I become the crazy lady.

So today, from time to time, I have reflected on what I am grateful for.  In this moment I am grateful for  my ability to write.

Oops....just looked at the clock.  Time to run to football!  (And yes, this means my son's white football pants will be green and brown by the time we return home).  But you know what?  That's OK with me.

And speaking of grateful, the Crock Pot I filled this morning and turned on before I left the house has been slowly cooking dinner while we have all been away.  The house is filled with the pleasing smell of braised short ribs, and when we return at 7:30pm the aroma of mashed sweet potatoes and fresh green beans will join the party of deliciousness (if I do say so myself).

Until next time......make a gratitude list.  You'll be glad you did.  Namaste.

Monday, October 1, 2012

I've Got a Good Feeling!

I've got a good feeling.... for the first time in over a week.

The turnaround in my health happened today.  I just feel like Michelle again.  And it feels good.  My spirit feels light and happy.  Like it's supposed to.   It's been a week since my accident, and it's been a week of low"lows" and high "highs".  To describe my physical pain and emotional distress would be to liken it to a roller coaster.

When I gave the account of the accident in my post on Wednesday, I had not really grasped the extent of my injuries.  I told myself that by making myself "get back to normal" everything would be all right.  After all, this is how I usually combat illness, by getting up and getting on.  But this wasn't a common cold.  This was more serious.

I had never had a concussion before, so I had no realm of comparison to what I was going through.   The fact that I couldn't remember anything immediately after the accident was frightening.  Then for several hours my recent memory seemed to be a blur.  I could not distinguish reality from fantasy.   My memory came back slowly throughout that first day, but I still didn't seem "right".  I carried on, as if in a haze.  Throughout the several days following the accident, my retentiveness would be fleeting and it was difficult for me to stream a line of thought.

In addition, my emotions were all over the place.  I would be happy and optimistic one moment, then morose the next.  Elated then angry.  Over seemingly insignificant things.  And significant things would send me over the edge.  It seemed I had lost myself.  Lost  control (control....another character flaw I'll get to in another post).

I know I briefly outlined all of this in my recount of the crash on Wednesday.  But, here is where I should have pressed the "Pause Button", and listened to the medical advice given to me.  Stay home.  Rest.  Heal.  You have a brain injury...chill out.  But I didn't......I'm stubborn and as I've mentioned, somewhat impatient.  As usual, these personality traits would get me in trouble yet again.

Two days after the accident (Monday) I had driven to a meeting.  I didn't include this in my previous post.  My appearance was startling, as the left side of my face was amass with road rash, and a large purple goose egg bruise peaked out beneath a bandage on my temple.  I looked awful!  However, it was important to me to return to work and my scheduled events and I'd put my ego aside in the effort to force normalcy.   But on this day, upon getting home from my meeting, I was rewarded with a splitting headache and vertigo.  And friends that I'd seen that day were extremely worried.   I piggy-backed Tylenol and Advil to try to fight the pain.

The next two days I attempted to force myself to feel better by staying somewhat busy.  I was productive, and my emotions seemed to be calming.  This gave me false hope that I was on the mend.  I pretended my head didn't hurt and that I wasn't nauseous.

Thursday, five days after my accident, I had an appointment with my primary care physician to remove the sutures and have a follow-up check of my wounds and concussion.  I felt pretty good in the morning, and drove to the doctor.  This is where vertigo returned, headache returned and I was back to feeling as I did just after my accident.

Here is where idiocy came into play.  I blogged that evening, and it should have been apparent that there was a problem, because it took me over two hours to write a post which typically would have taken and hour or less.  My brain just didn't seem to cooperate with me.  Concentration eluded me.  Nonetheless, I was determined to finish and stayed up way too late, which resulted in a blinding headache and more vertigo as I rolled over in bed to turn out the light.

It finally hit me that I had to slow the f*%# down and rest.  This was serious business.    I finally pushed the "Pause Button".

Rest I did.   I let others help me.  I slept late on Friday, took care of myself and rested.  I got some work done, but did it in bed.  I wrote the old fashioned way and used a pen and paper.  I did not watch TV, did not get on my computer or iPad.  (I did use my phone....I just couldn't help it!!  Just being honest).  Saturday I rested all day.   I actually enjoyed it!   We canceled plans for Saturday night and stayed home.

This morning I felt much better.  We went to a football game in the afternoon, where I chatted with friends I haven't seen in awhile.  Rested before and after.  Didn't drive.  At dinner time it dawned on me that I hadn't had a spell of vertigo or a headache all day or the day before.

I finally feel like myself again.  The fog has cleared.  The craziness that had held me hostage for over a week was gone.  And it feels great!!

I could take the easy way out, and blame my irrational behavior this week on my accident and my head injury.  I'm not going to do that.  I'm taking responsibility that my underlying character traits are the ultimate culprit.  I'm being honest, because putting it out there,  taking it for what it is and owning it is how I'll improve upon it.   These are real parts of me that will continue to pop up if I don't deal with them head on.  And I don't want that.

I am not willing to risk relationships, opportunities, good health, etc. by sweeping my flaws under the rug.

Tomorrow is a new day, and I can't wait!   I am feeling positive that I will make it a good day.

So I've typed this, and checked for typos in 42 minutes.  Not going back and amending anything, because it is what it is.