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The In-Be-Tween Years

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Nicholas is twelve. How did that happen? His feet are as big as mine. He regularly steals my socks. I like to think my feet smell better. Tween boy feet are no picnic.

He had a sleepover for his birthday. There was laughter and screaming until 3 a.m. I woke up to cereal bowls, empty 2-liters and very little cake. It looked like the aftermath of a frat party – but with more stuffed animals and Nerf darts.

He got hamsters for his birthday. Their names are Carol (for Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel – who he calls a beast) and Shuri which he says is the name of Black Widow’s sister. They sleep all day and become superpowered at night.

He’s all into his cell phone and video games. He says dirty jokes he hears on the bus, but he doesn’t know what they mean. He vacillates between trying to be grown up and wanting Mommy to wait for the bus with him. Until the bus rounds the corner – and then I am dead to him.

He says that our relationship is like the main characters in Whiskey Cavalier – that we bicker but deep down there is love. I’m not sure that’s the right analogy – but I get what he’s saying. He tries to give me the stink eye and ends up smiling.

I don’t know if we’ll survive these ups and downs. But, I’ve taken to shrugging my shoulders and saying, “It’s a middle school thing.” It’s weird to be with a being entering puberty as I enter the menopause years. Both our hormones are malfunctioning. Poor Michael.

What I do know is that this is a transitional time, and with any luck we’ll all come out of it better people.

Meanwhile, I’m hiding my socks.

 

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I Love You Billy Blanks

 

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Back in the 90s, Tae Bo was the latest fitness craze. I had all the VHS tapes. I remember distinctly putting them on in the living room and moving furniture out of the way to start kicking. I found it exhausting. I would shake my fist at the television and yell, “I hate you Billy Blanks!”

There is this section of the video where he yells “Double Time” and strobe lights flicker and your supposed to go extra fast. My ex used to find this really entertaining and would sit on the couch with popcorn to giggle at me.

20 years later and I still have my VHS tapes and VHS player. I’m just not willing to give it up because I bought so many videos back in the day. I’ve moved on to other forms of exercise – mostly calmer forms. I am in training to be a yoga/meditation teacher after all.

Which is why my mood of late has surprised me. Maybe it’s some repressed anger bubbling up from deep introspective work, but I have the urge to punch and kick. I’ve also been watching a lot of Nikita and my son takes Tae Kwon Do. All of this led me to the question – what ever happened to Billy Blanks?

I dug out the old VHS tapes and popped them in. The people in the video looked kind of funny. Billy in particular stood out in his tight spandex blue leotard. What were we thinking back then?

I made it through the workout. I had fun. I was sweaty…but it wasn’t terribly difficult. I remember never getting past the Basic video when I was 25 – but I already think I could move on to the Advanced video in about a week. Who knew? And what of this unfounded hatred I had toward Billy Blanks? I noticed the man was encouraging, said “Don’t give up” and “Good Job” a lot. By God, I think I love Billy Blanks!

So, while the VHS player still whirs to life, I think I may give Billy Blanks another go.

We’ve come full circle me and Billy Blanks. This time I’m ready.

The Go-Kart

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When the weather gets cold around here, we get creative.

The boy has been in dinosaur pajamas for days. He wanted to build a go-kart and make a shield so he can pretend to be Captain America.

Because, why not?

Our house isn’t insulated well, so I go from room to room with a space heater next to my face. That and 2 layers of all clothing make the Polar Vortex more bearable.

This morning I decided to exercise in the plant room because it’s warmer. I did squats to Justin Timberlake while looking out the front picture window.

Had any neighbor ventured into the cold, they would have enjoyed a show.

Today, we are painting a license plate on the back of this go-kart. He has visions of hurtling down the road in it. We’re strapping it to a dolly. It’s a good thing we have health insurance.

I’m getting bouts of cabin fever which I mitigate by typing blogs, taking photos and reading while curled up in a papasan chair with a heater next to my face.

I look forward to the day when we can wheel the go-kart out into the driveway and take it for a whirl, the sun on our faces and smiles on our lips.

But, for now, Captain America must save the day indoors.

Snow Days

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I don’t know why he gets up earlier on snow days. Maybe it’s the excitement of a day off of school. He comes in around 6:30 – “Mommy, it’s cold in here.” I say “Not in the covers…and roll over.”

A couple of hours later I crawl downstairs to get coffee to find the boy camped in an armchair in his pajamas. He has two missions – to watch as much YouTube as possible and to build a go-kart. NTI homework is not on his radar.

I’m going to need more coffee.

I go to exercise. Periodically, he bursts into the bedroom. “Mommy, come downstairs and watch me watch YouTube.”

“Are you ready to do your NTI work?”

“No!” and he runs back downstairs.

This will go on for a while. Eventually, I will turn the TV off.

Tantrums will ensue and eventually, the work will get done.

The dogs will get hugged. The boy will get hugged. The husband will get hugged.

It’s a good day.

Stay warm everybody.

 

My Morning Routine

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I used to be a night owl. I would sleep until 2 in the afternoon every weekend. I was always running late in the morning half disheveled. That was back when I was single and childless.

When I finally became a wife and mother,  I still woke up late for work, but my days were a non-stop to-do list of items for others. I lost myself and all of my interests.

Then a few years ago, I read The Miracle Morning. Something shifted. I found that I could enjoy the morning, that it was opportunity to take back a part of myself. And so I became a morning person.

I would have previously found this impossible. But, it became appealing and enjoyable enough that I began to look forward to it and thus, the habit stuck. I’ve been finetuning ways to hack my habits ever since.

When I wake up, I read. Then I have my coffee. Next, I lift weights. Each movement is choregraphed to a specific song that I love and a specific affirmation. Literally, if I hear the song “Happy” anywhere I feel like I’m supposed to be doing bicycle crunches.

After weights, I have breakfast – usually oatmeal with walnuts and a glass of water. Then I meditate and writing morning pages.  I write down a short gratitude list.

Same routine, same order – every day. If something out of the usual happens – like I have to be out the door earlier – I may meditate, do morning pages slightly later in the day. But, always the same tasks in the same order.

Old me would have rebelled against routine, but I’ve found freedom in it. The rest of my day is just happier, better since I started my mornings this way. I feel centered and less thrown off track by the day’s happenings. I always thought discipline was a cage, but it may, in fact, be freedom.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit” ~Aristotle

2019 – Nurturing Body, Mind and Soul

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Gone are the years of New Year’s Resolutions. For the last few years, I have instead chosen a focus word for the year.

2018’s word was Flow.

The word showed up in many ways. I started yoga teacher training and engaged in the flow of yoga. I tried to practice acceptance and going with the flow of life and its ups and downs. On many occasions, I found obstacles to the flow. Perhaps, that is how the word helped me grow.

Now on to 2019. For many years, I beat myself up with high expectations. I would burn myself out or set my expectations so high they were doomed to fail. I would counteract this extreme drive with the halting of everything – too tired to even move.

I’ve learned in several ways this year, that self-compassion takes me as far or farther than pushing myself to the breaking point ever did. Does this mean I don’t make the hard decisions or that I give up? No – it means I do everything with a sense of care. I give myself some grace. I allow myself to learn without punishing myself.

I give myself extra goodness instead of taking away something. I eat more vegetables instead of yelling at myself for eating chocolate. When I’m tired, I take a nap or a bath or a walk. I’m gentler with myself and consequently with others.

So, in 2019 – I choose to Nurture myself. This is the year I stop listening to myself – all of the judgments, fear and worries and I start talking to myself with a little bit of love.

Like a plant, I will water myself and feed myself with positivity. I will be patient with myself and not rip myself out of the ground when I don’t see results right away.

I will wait with faith knowing that the good will come in time.

Things that Go Bump in the Night

 

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“When are you going to write something without ghosts?” says my father.

“Hmm…good question,” I think. Unfortunately, I don’t think we really choose a genre.

In my mind, the ghosts want me to write their stories.

I remember one of the first books I ever checked out of the school library was a book about ghosts. But, I never thought of ghosts as scary. I thought of them as mysterious. I remember playing on a tire swing as a kid and imagining some little ghost children from the 1800s were my imaginary friends.

My class project in elementary school was to explain the process of mummification in Egypt. I wrapped my best friend in toilet paper. I was overjoyed.

My best friend in middle school, Christa and I resolved to become blood sisters in the cemetery at midnight one Halloween. I don’t think we ever did it (mainly because I’m terrified of needles) but I loved the spookiness of the idea.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by the supernatural.

So, will I stop writing about ghosts? I don’t know.

If I do, I imagine some otherworldly element will find its way into my writing.

But, tonight it is Halloween. It is a dark and stormy night – and I love it.

 

 

 

Making Friends with Winter

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For years, I have railed against the cold.  I would trudge out into the snow in a lightweight jacket and a skirt and wonder why I was freezing. With each passing day, I would kick and scream at the pain of the wind. I would fantasize about spring and summer. I would suffer.

Finally, I came to the realization that winter will come every year. Just like spring and summer, winter is part of life. Resistance is futile. It will return and I have two choices – suffer through or find a way to cope with it better.

So, I started stocking up on hot beverages. I bought a warm coat, more scarves and hats. I started lighting more candles. I planned more social outings. I did more yoga. I got a space heater. I looked it as an opportunity to journal and read more.

Gradually, each winter has felt a little bit better. Is it my favorite season? No, I still prefer the warmer months. But, it’s so much better. Did winter change? No – I did.

The seasons teach us so much about how to live. Spring teaches me hope. Summer teaches me to live life to the fullest. Fall teaches me to let ago. And winter – winter has taught me acceptance – and for that I am truly grateful.

5K Fever

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You may have noticed I’ve been in a lot of 5K’s this year.

It’s just one of the many things I’m happy I started doing in 2018.

I credit my friend, Katie, who set a goal for herself of doing a 5K a month and then others of us started hopping on board.

Do I run? No. Sometimes, I run a bit of it. Why do I do it then?

For one, walking is great for my mental health. Emotions have to get out somehow and mine get out through my feet. My head feels clearer and my heart is lighter.

5Ks are super inspiring. There is the pumped up music at the beginning, the volunteers cheering you on and the sea of people sweating it out with you often early in the morning.

I’ve seen women with twins in strollers, old men with Parkinson’s and small children breeze by me. After a mild feeling of embarrassment, I think “Damn, those people are badasses.” They make me want to be a better me.

You usually get a cool T-shirt, a medal or some other swag. Most are low-cost and truthfully, anyone can walk a 5K.

It gives me something to look forward to every month and I really like having friends that do them. It’s a nice chance to catch up and talk.

Finally, nothing beats sprinting over a finish line. We don’t always see the finish line in life. It’s really nice to cross one.

Next up is Wanderlust and The Pumpkin Run in Cincinnati and the Louisville Beer Run. Come join me if you wish! Fall is a great time to get out and get active.

Solvitur Ambulando – “It is solved by walking.”

The Sound of Big Sur

 

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Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with its twists and turns, I felt alive. The wind blew through my hair as I looked out over the ocean waves. Our honeymoon was just beginning.

Blue and green encompassed the landscape for miles. I felt a sense of joy, of hop building as we made our way to our yurt by the sea.

The tall trees surrounding me cast shadows all about the ground with patches of sunlight streaming through. The air felt both warm and cool.

“The hills are alive with the sound of music, with songs they have sung for a thousand years.”

It was never more true here. The area was primitive, timeless, untouched by hotels and fast food franchises. Something ancient calls to me in the forest – something I’ve been longing for.

“I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I will hear what I’ve heard before.”

The emptiness that I carry with me is heavy. It is laden with guilt, shame and regret. Here the deep darkness fills with light as I breathe in the fresh, mountain air. It lifts from me up and away into the mist.

It’s my honeymoon, a new beginning, a new chapter in my life.

I feel whole in this space, not wanting to leave, lest the feeling of emptiness returns.

But, my gut knows I can return here whenever I need to – that here is really everywhere the trees are – where I can sing once more.