Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Training/Life Juggling

Training for an Ironman 70.3 (two coming up actually) and motherhood is a definite juggling act.  Some days are easier than others.  Today was one of the more crazy days.

I knew it was going to be hectic.  My coach had scheduled a two hour bike/run.  Workouts are my favorite part of the day!  I always fit these in.  They are my sanity builders.   This one was intervals.  Run first, bike second to warm up....then main set was bike 12 minutes with sprints, followed by a 1.5 mile run...repeating this three times.  Cool down.  No time for bike blogging during today's workout!  But I would be able to get two hours of "me" time in.  Awesome!

Here's where it became a juggling act.  I had the workout to do, it was stormy, we planned to celebrate my mother's birthday by taking lunch to their home, the kids had doctor appointments and an orthodontist appointment, there was a 2 hour football practice in the evening, I had work to do and I was reminded that the laundry was overflowing.  (I may mention laundry frequently in my writing as it never seems to slow down.)  But I digress....

With a little planning, some spontaneity, a little cooperation from the kids, the weather clearing and a lot of patience (which I am really practicing!!)  I was able to get it all in.  

A lot of my athlete friends have kids.  I see the struggle to balance being "Mom" and running a household with training every day.  Some work full or part time.  Some are single parents whose kids also are in sports.   I applaud these women who manage to find balance.   Regardless of the age of the children, it's hard.  I am blessed that my kids are teens, so there is a little more flexibility in my schedule.  My kids are old enough to be home alone for periods of time (in the event they don't kill each other that is).  It's usually cool.  An added bonus:  they sleep until 10 or 11 so I'm usually finished training before they are out of bed.  School starts in 3 weeks!  It's all about balance.

So I can end the day by writing, which I love.  After I publish this blog there is the laundry and cupcake baking to be done with my daughter.  Someone has to make sure the house doesn't burn down.  Then maybe I'll do some laundry.  Actually...maybe the laundry can wait until tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wisdom Gathered from Others

It is amazing to me the wisdom and insight I can gain from my interaction with others.  All I have to do is be quiet and listen.  Sounds simple enough, however this is not easy for me.  I tend to be impatient, I don't like to sit quietly, and I don't always listen and hear what I need to.  These are character flaws that I am working on.   I have a fear of being still.   Fear....it's the root of all of my flaws, actually.  It's part of the reason I'm writing in this blog.  It's time I faced my fears head on and stop running.  Stop at the fork in the road to nowhere and make concrete, grown-up decisions.

Today I knew that I needed to be still and listen.   So I impatiently set out to do so (ha ha).

I met a friend for coffee this morning, with the intention of catching up, and discussing a disagreement we had a few days prior.  She had pointed out something I do that bothered her, and had been bothering her for some time.  My first reaction was "well why didn't you say something years ago?!!!  Why now?  Don't you know I have a lot going on?"  I was frustrated.   It was admittedly a blow to my ego.  Someone pointing out a flaw?  Eek!   When she brought it up earlier in the week I immediately was on the defensive and my feathers were ruffled.

But in meeting with her today, I was reminded how much our friendship meant to me.  She is the most valued friend (girl friend) I've ever had.  I realized that in a true friendship, nothing matters more than honesty.  Communication.  This is important in any relationship.  Without honesty and communication, there is nothing, and the relationship could be doomed.  So she proceeded to tell me what it was that bothered her, and why.  I was still, and I listened.  I didn't feel on the defensive.    We talked it out, and what do you know?  Our friendship is stronger than ever.  Simple communication and honesty.

I should have mentioned that confrontation is another fear of mine.  I don't like to be uncomfortable.  I tend to try to make any situation pretty and smooth.  No ruffled feathers.  But that's not really being honest, is it?

After coffee, I met with a peer group of mine over lunch.  A group of women who are important to me.  Surprisingly the discussion turned to frustration.   Of course, I wanted to immediately jump in and offer up my current frustrations as part of the discussion.  But instead I did what I've been doing recently.....and tried something different.  I sat still and I listened.  I paid attention to what the other women were sharing, and in turn I gained so much more than simple venting would have given me.  I found that I am not alone.  They all talked about fears, frustrations and of being honest.  (Apparently the theme for the day!)  I did share my thoughts as we were finishing up, but it was really to say thank you for all they gave to me.  I grew up a little today!  (I kind of like feeling like I'm still growing up at 40-ish!)  Facing one's fears is growth, and it is brave!

There is a saying "practice makes perfect".  I have a lot of practice to do, but today I am not striving for perfection as I've done in the past.  Today I am staying in gratitude and hope.    Hopefully tomorrow I'll grow a little more.    I like being on the cusp of the fork in the road.  The road is no longer going nowhere, but there is a destination.  I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to get there.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reflections on My Career as a Mom on Thursday

I don't really feel like writing today, which is why I'm writing.    A friend shared a quote with me this afternoon and said it made her think of me, "If I don't write to empty my mind, I'll go mad."  I thought this was so true, and so fitting of my mood today.

Today is one of those days where I'm not feeling much like doing much.  I have a lot weighing on my mind, that distracting myself with my iPod, a good book and maybe a mani/pedi for a few hours sounds like heaven.  However, I do not have the luxury of taking today off.   I have a "to-do" list a mile long and there are two kids who need attention from me.

I am a stay-at-home mom.  I tried the career-working mom thing for a while when my daughter (my oldest child) was little, and decided it wasn't for me.  I wanted to raise my kids.  So I quit my job and became a full time mom after my son was born.   I had dreams of being that perfect mother who did all the perfect-mom things you see on TV.   I would cook elaborate gourmet meals for my family, have a perfectly clean house, laundry all caught up, volunteer in my "spare time" and raise beautiful, well-behaved children.

In other words, I thought I could achieve perfection.  Well, my daughter is now 16 and my son is 12.  I think, for the most part, I've done a pretty good job with my end of the parenting business.  But I have finally realized that I'm so far from perfect it's ridiculous.  The mere attempt at perfection is ridiculous.  All I really have to accomplish is what I need to do each day and make sure my kids are happy, loved and taken care of.  As I mature, I've learned that perfection is most definitely not reality.

Today there will be no gourmet meal, the house is semi-clean but would probably give Martha Stewart a heart attack (kids and their friends live here for Pete's sake!!)  and the laundry is a work-in-progress as usual.  Our day was filled with friends who came over to hang out, carpool to football and basketball, some laundry that may eventually get folded before I go to bed, errands and I managed to squeeze in my Ironman Training (that will be a topic for another day).  But the kids are happy and that's what counts.

Now....that being said...I am at a point in my life where I have decided that it's time for me to go back to work.   This is one of the things on my "to-do" list that has become increasingly more important to me.   I'm humming Eminem's "Lose Yourself" right now.  It might just have to be my theme song (doesn't everyone need a theme song?!)   Take an opportunity when it arises, because I might not get it again.  This is where balance will have to come into play.  Balance is defined as "an even distribution".  It is definitely something that I will have to practice (along with patience).

Not everything on my list needs to be done today.  I take solace from that.  I will accomplish what I can and the rest will wait until tomorrow.    That is the beauty of imperfection!   I am grateful to be busy being a mom to Kendall and Nick today.  I am happy that I'm taking steps to go back to work.    I am grateful that I sat down to write.  At least a small part of my mind was emptied.    Madness averted for now!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Thoughts From My Bike on Tuesday

I've been blogging for years.  Well, blogging in my mind.  There's been pretty good stuff, too.  What I've composed has been inspiring, emotional, analytical, funny, helpful, etc.  Trouble is I haven't written any of it down.  It's all floating up there in Michellespace.  While it's helped me mull over things that have gone on in my life, today it occurred to me that I'm not really accomplishing anything by keeping my thoughts to myself.  I've been told that if what I'm doing is not working....try something different.  Well, what I've been doing lately is not really working, so I'm going to take the advice given to me and try something different.

So here I sit at my computer.  Writing.  Doing something different.  What a concept!  And it feels pretty good.

This revelation came to me today while blogging in my brain on a fast-paced bike ride.  (This is where I've always done my best work.)  

I set out on my bike early this afternoon to train and work out some stress.  Stress...we all have it and definitely don't want it.  However it's a part of our journey.  Some days are tougher than others, depending on what life doles out.  Well, life has been doling out quite a bit to me lately.  So I did what comes naturally, and put my bike on the back of my car with the intention of going for a ride while my son was at football camp.  Stress can be so draining...and for me the best way to work through it has been to workout.  Workout hard.   I love getting my heart rate up, sweating profusely and going all out.  It's never failed.  On my bike I can escape.  The wind blowing in my face as I race down a country road washes the stress and sadness from me.  It's just me, the bike and nature.  I can lose myself in adrenaline.

Today started with my mind going in all directions.  The upcoming busy day with the kids and their activities, work, and just stuff.  I couldn't quiet my thoughts.  I felt like I was racing, but I was still in bed.  I knew I had to work it out to calm myself.  Once in the saddle of the bike, I was able to gain perspective.  My thoughts calmed, I knew what I had to do, and I relaxed.  I came home, sat down and started writing.  This is what I've always wanted to do.  Fear has held me back. But today, as I sweated out the stress and pushed myself to ride faster, I felt no fear.  So here I begin.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Day One

I've been told that we can start our day over at anytime.  But what about life?  Can we really start over and follow our dreams?  I'm ready to find out.  Stay tuned.