Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unhealthy Obsession Continues...Foo Fighters - Free Me

LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! That's all I can really say!!!  Is Dave Grohl married?!?!...I kind of think so, that's pretty unfortunate!  Soooo obsessed I am!  Unhealthy?...yes, for sure!  Do I care?...not so much!

No Fear

"The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed. "

I saw this quote today (phuck, it's hailing out!!!...sorry, side tracked by the sound of winter suddenly appearing in my neighborhood)...anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, this quote.  I saw this and it instantly spoke to me.  It's a Buddhist quote about letting go of fear to allow you to be freed.  (I'm not an overly spiritual or religious person, but I do identify with the Buddhist philosophy more so than any other that I've stumbled upon in my 35 years here.)  In Buddhism, in general, there is a lot of talk of letting go of what is or what we think we know, in order to embrace a more freeing existence. Whether it's holding onto material things, anger, thoughts, regrets, control, or fear, the point is to try to release it all to allow ourselves to fully feel the joy and freedom that our world has to offer. 

Thinking about this quote, I realize that this may as well be my life motto.  No fear!...that's how I'm living my life right now, and it's amazingly freeing (and FUN!).  What can I say?  I'm pretty darn proud of myself for coming to this conclusion and embracing the no fear way of life.  Up until this moment, I didn't really realize that I had.  I mean I know I was taking more risks and saying "what the hell...why not" more often than ever before, but to say that I was fully embracing the no fear way of life, it didn't really occur to me until I saw this on my google homepage this morning. 

I didn't consciously make the effort to focus on my fears I don't think, but I do think that when you experience things in your life that explode everything around you, and your entire foundation has to be rebuilt, you start to reflect on things more and try to figure out how you can build a better foundation the next time around.  So that the next time, when that nuclear bomb goes off in your head, at least the house of cards you've built for yourself will still be standing.  I probably could have started with letting go of my attachment to material things (shoes, or clothes, or the Foo Fighters), or some of my control issues (shut up Freud!), but instead I took it back to the most basic emotion and I went with fear.  Not really on purpose, but after watching my son play on the playground, I was inspired.  Have you ever just sat and watched kids play on a playground (in a non creepy sort of way of course!)?  They are incredible beings...jumping off the top of things without any thought that a broken bone or bloody nose may be lurking in the wood chips below.  Nope, kids just jump with no fear at all. 

I actually remember one day when my son was about 11 months old...ironically, it was the day that my folks were coming over to help me install a baby gate at the top of the stairs to my house.  My little adventurer crawled too close to the edge of the stairs and went rolling down them like a Rocky Mountain avalanche.  I thought for sure that I was going to get to the bottom of the stairs and find a dead baby, instead what I found was one very giggly happy child.  WTH????  Are you kidding me?!...I think I had my first of many parental mini heart attacks.  Another time when he was about 2, he reached for something outside of the cart at Lowe's and the world suddenly went into slow motion as I watched the balance of his little belly tip him in the wrong direction.  Although I did my very best to try to catch him, I just could not get there in time.  We both ended up on the concrete ground, me diving toward the cart like a pro baseball player sliding into home, and him with a head first bounce off the ground.  Just the memory of the sound of his skull hitting the concrete still makes me sick to my stomach today!  (I just gave myself the chills thinking about it, and I remember how lucky I was that day!).  He didn't laugh or giggle that time, in fact there were some big crocodile tears, but he went for what he wanted 110%.  I can look back now and give him credit for that! 

So, no fear...what does it mean?  To me it's deciding on something and going for it with your entire mind, heart, body and soul...regardless of the outcome.  And, when I really think about it, in the process of letting go of my fear, it's opened the door for me to begin to let go of some of the control and regrets as well.  After all, you can't fully face something with no fear, if you're worried about the outcome or circumstances can you?  Nope, I didn't think so either.  It's like standing on the edge of the creek at LHF last weekend, where you know the waters going to be cold and deep and instead of carefully sliding down into the creek bed to tip toe gingerly across the rocks, you leap into the water without any thought other than "this is so insane, but I've never been happier in my entire life"...yeah, my life right now is kind of like that, and I'm pretty darn ok with it!!!  So the next time Famous or The Big Easy look at me and says "are we doing this"...I already know my answer, HELL YES!!!!  (Thanks again boys for a fantastic weekend!  It was by far my best LHF experience ever and I learned more about myself on that course than I have on any other race course.  You pushed me, you helped me up, you got me wet and muddy, you stayed by my side, and I did the whole thing with a gigantic goofy smile on my face.  I've never been happier racing, or trying to stay warm while eating beef stew.  Thanks!)

PS - This whole entry reminds me of another Foo Fighter song...Free Me  (the link will appear in the next blog post :))  See, unhealthy obession!!! 

LHF 2010 Recap

WOW!!!  What an amazing race!  Once again, the folks at Living History Farms deserve props for a successful event.  Even with the registration fluke that had us running the 7 mile off road event with 8000 of our closest friends, the run could not have been more fun and challenging.  All I can really say is thank you to my good friend (and fellow Vardo runner) Eric and his RAGBRAI team Team Death Race for letting me run along with you.  You guys were amazing, and wonderful and fun!  (Special thanks to Eric "The Big Easy", and "Famous" Dave for not letting the Runaway Bride out of your sight the entire guys didn't have to run with me the entire way, but I'm sure glad you did!!! :))

Here's some pics of us "tailgating" before the race.  You would think that playing ladder ball at 6 am in 23 degree weather in spandex, tailgating would most definitely include alcohol (for the warmth factor of course :)), but keep in mind we're a bunch of runners and triathletes so tailgating for this event was basically Glen's life saving supply of Starbucks coffee, cold cider (stupid flame on our camp grill kept going out...too cold and windy), bagels, a petrified pop tart or two (yep, ask either TJ or Glen...pop tarts can go bad when left in a car for several years), and ladder ball with new friends!  (We decided to save the real tailgating for the ISU game later in the day...froze our collective asses off then too! :)). 

Team Death Race, plus 1
(Justin, Lyndsy, Eric, Me (yes, I am wrapped in a beach towel for warmth), Glen, and TJ)

Lyndsy and I playing ladder ball

Eric, bless his heart, that man was determined to provide us with warm cider...FAIL!!!  But, mad props for the effort Big Easy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's a Thinker...Dave Matthews Band - Funny the Way It Is

Ok, so I don't quite have the same unhealthy obsession with DMB that I do with Dave Grohl or the Foo Fighters, but when listening to my extensive collection of the DMB today it occurred to me that there is not a single song of theirs that I don't like.  And if there is any band where care and attention should be paid to the lyrics, then I think possibly DMB is it.  In my very humble and honest opinion. 

As for my overall taste in really depends on the day and the mood I'm in but, I kind of like it all, so I'm sure more and more of it will begin to appear here.  The only thing I don't do is country (I know I have a few good friends who would like me to try on a little country, and the folks at my office would certainly rather me play that some days than Metallica or Kid Rock or Em or DMB, but unfortunately I just can't do it...It's not for lack of trying.  I'm so sorry to all my friends and colleagues who try tirelessly to expand my appreciation of music to include country.  I promise to keep trying and maybe just never know.  I'll never say never at least :))

Unhealthy Obsession, Part 2...Foo Fighters - Skin and Bones

Another I love these guys. Like really LOVE them...unhealthy obsession I say!!! :)

Unhealthy Obsession, Part 1...Foo Fighters - Resolve

I mentioned the unhealthy obsession I have with Dave Grohl didn't I?!?! This is one of my fav's!

A Year and a Wish

As I was climbing out of the shower this morning an amazing sense of calm rushed over me.  At first I couldn't put my finger on it, and I don't know where it was coming from, but there it was all warm and peaceful.  With Foo Fighters Hell playing on the computer in the background (I had my itunes set to shuffle, like I do most mornings...and I have a very unhealthy obsession with Dave Grohl, so there are a metric shit ton of Foo Fighters songs on there), it occurred to me, it has been a year since my real life adventure started. 

I suddenly remember well, exactly one year ago, the day I discovered the emails that would rock the foundation of everything I knew about my adult life to that point.  My husband at the time was having and affair with a woman from L.A. named "Mental Girl" (I'm not kidding...hello red flag!) who he met online playing a Sims type of mid-evil warrior castle building game, and he was doing a really shitty job of hiding it.  Who leaves emails that would make Hef blush, from someone named Mental Girl, open on the family computer?  Someone who is asking to get caught (or punched in the nuts!) that's who!!!  

After hours of screaming, and arguing, and apologies, and promises that would never be kept, and one long grueling torture session at the gym (I had to punish myself some how, for what I don't know, but I knew that if I was in pain then at least I was feeling something other than's a coping mechanism that I've used my entire life that I'm sure Freud would have something to say about).  I kept thinking "a year from now none of this will matter". 

Once the divorce proceedings started, one of my best friends told me "divorce is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy".  At the time it made no sense to me really.  I was fine, just fine, handling everything fine, just fine.  Everything was fine, just fine. (I see a pattern here...).  My ex and I were determined to remain the best of friends and re-write the rules of divorce.  I am NOT under any circumstances going to become one of those silly divorce cliches.  HA!

Well, here I am, one year later, A LOT of years wiser, and a giant glowing divorce cliche!!!  I've done everything everyone told me I would, from the "fine, just fine" lie, to losing over 30 pounds on the divorce diet, to drinking more than I probably should, to dating someone for the wrong reasons, to _________ (fill in the blank).  I may as well be a giant billboard of what not to do (but everyone does anyway) when you get divorced.  I've made my mistakes, I have many regrets and I'm embracing my learning experiences as they happen. 

To myself, thinking "a year from now this won't matter", I want to say...  You may be right!  I am filled with overwhelming peace today, and that's pretty incredible.  I think I exhaled for the first time this morning getting out of the shower.  I may also be wrong though, because a year later while and the emails don't matter, and the affair doesn't matter, and the ex husband doesn't matter, what I'm learning about myself does matter and without those events, I would be blissfully unaware that I had something to learn about myself and I had more growing to do. 

To my friend who "wouldn't wish divorce on her worst enemy", I need to say...  OMG, you were so right!!!!  I wouldn't wish divorce on my worst enemy either.  (Thank you Kecia, for being there for me through this entire process!)

Wow!  Really a year later...that went by quick!  I certainly have not followed the path I laid out for my control freak self in the beginning, but I think I've still arrived at the same place none the less (maybe it's ok to let go of some control sometimes...again, I'm sure Freud would have a clever something to say about this).  I think I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now.  I'm actually kind of excited to see where I will be in a year from now.  Maybe every year November 19th will be my own holiday of self reflection, or my own private New Year's celebration (break out the wine!!!...don't forget, mommas got a bar at the new house!), where I can make an honest and true wish for the upcoming year of me.  This years finish up some unfinished business (that's right Pigman, I'm coming for you!).  Stay tuned for the progress...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Welcome Home

Ugh!  For the most part I hate moving, the physical aspect of it at least and it can be pretty mentally exhausting as well, but this move was a good move.  I was ready to leave the life of home ownership behind me and start fresh.  This new home I've chosen is my own first real place when I think about it.  Before I've always chosen where to live with the help of roommates or a significant other, this time however, the choice was all mine.  I fell in love with the place the first time I walked through it.  So many windows, and hardwood floors, and space.  I love everything about this new environment and everything it feels like home.  And, it's all mine, my responsibility, my new home, a place where I can create a warm, loving and safe environment for myself and my son. 

On moving day I was full of hope and possibilities.  I had amazing friends (like really AMAZING!!!, I couldn't have done it without their muscle, brains and humor) come help me move and they worked like a well oiled machine to get it done quickly, efficiently and everything arrived in one piece (with the exception of one margarita glass that I broke unwrapping from the newspaper...oh well, I've always liked margaritas better from a mug anyway :)). 

On a side note: we will definitely be discussing adding "professional movers" to the list of things Team Vardo is capable of at our next Team Vardo executive committee meeting.  Just kidding...maybe!  (Team Vardo is by the way my local running club, full of such a diverse group of friends that I can't even begin to describe what they mean to me without tearing up.  Yes, I know there's no crying in running, only sometimes with friends this good, there is.  And, we have no executive committee.  Just one amazing George, a fearless leader in the Vardo and a bunch of really ambitious runners who like beer.) 

Moving day was feeling very successful!  I was in the house by 12:30 and feeding everyone beer and Sloppy Joe's by 1.  By the time evening rolled around and my kiddo was tucked snug as a bug in his new bed, I was thrilled with how the day turned out and happy to be quietly reflecting on my cool friends and my new bar space over a nice glass of wine...that's right mamma's got a bar in this new house!!!  Hell yes!!!  (Editors note: super mad props go out to my friend Ali and her son T who not only helped me pack and move and set up my boys room, but did all this without batting an eye on her birthday none the less!!!  Happy Birthday Ali!!!!  You are an inspiration!) 

Now, most people I know throw a house warming party to christen their new homes, I myself as a single mom, planned to do that (gotta break in the bar!) but in the end left the christening up to my son.  It's a little unorthodox, but I knew I was at home that first night in our new place when as I am frantically unpacking boxes in the kitchen at 12:30 am, I hear commotion and screaming from upstairs.  Me, thinking that my son is having a nightmare and has woken up in this wonderfully new but still unfamiliar space and has no idea where he is, races up to the top of the stairs to find...PUKE!  Everywhere! 

There he is my sweet but obviously sugar overloaded boy, trapped in his room, his hands being too preoccupied covering his mouth to be able to open the door, looking like a green deer in headlights.  One look at his face and all I can say is RUN!  Run to the bathroom please get there and please please please hit the toilet.  No such luck, that door opened and he was like a bull being let out of the gate at the rodeo...he exploded!  All over himself, me, the hall, the walls, the new rugs, the landlords precious hardwood floors that I promised to protect with my life, stopping long enough at the sink to relieve some of the pressure before moving onto finally the toilet.  My poor, sweet, smelly boy (insert gag reflex here).  Who knew an underweight 7 year old could hold so much liquid?! 

When the initial drama, and his stomach, settled, we stripped his bed, and decide that he will be camping out in a sleeping bag on the floor of his new room for the rest of the night (the laundry detergent being packed away in one of the hundred unpacked boxes still in the basement).  I try to turn it into an adventure for him, and he graciously plays along.  I figure it's because he's too tired and overwhelmed to even battle me in the moment in the middle of the night, but then as he's climbing into his sleeping bag he turns and gives me the biggest hug ever and says "I love you momma...I'm sorry for throwing up everywhere".  God, I love that kid!!!!  Here he is feeling like ass and he is giving me a little something wonderful to hold onto in moment when he knew I was stressed and needed it the most.  No battle ever intended, just pure love. 

A few minutes later after he is back asleep and I am scrubbing the walls, floors, sink, toilet and rugs of my new box filled space all I can think of is Ty Pennington's voice saying "Welcome Home Family, Welcome Home".  Ty, I couldn't agree more! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

On Being a Part Time Single Parent

I've contemplated starting a blog for a long time, or at least ever since my path took a dramatic turn off course and crashed head first into a big bunch of untamed brush, trees and possibly poison ivy.  Now it seems ever more relevant as I begin to navigate this world as a newly minted Part Time Single Parent.  First, I should probably clarify what I mean by a Part Time (PT) Single Parent, since I will probably use this term a lot.  To me, this means that the ex and myself share joint (50-50) custody on a week by week basis.  We switch parenting roles every Sunday evening.   

Nothing can really prepare one for this.  None of us parents, I believe, enter into parenthood with the idea that we are only going see or spend time with our children 50% of the time.  I'm never going to be half a parent, I'm always going to give 110% of myself to this beautiful young being.  I'm going to be there no matter what for absolutely everything they need.  The thought never even crosses our mind that things could end up completely different, and why would it.  We bring these babies home from the hospital and our world suddenly feels complete.  Sometimes though, life has other plans for our bigger picture, and we have to try to embrace this change to the best of our abilities (for me it's with a lot of humor and a dash or two of sarcasm...possibly followed by a glass of wine or pint of beer :)).  These days I still give 110% of myself to my child and I will always be there for him, even when we're not together. 

The first real night away was the worst, perhaps it's because I suddenly realized that this is so much different than those times spent at sleepovers with Grandpa and Grandma, this time I recognized that this was going to be a permanent ongoing arrangement...not unlike the first night home from the hospital, I was left wondering "now what".  What am I supposed to do now and why can't I breathe?  See, unlike the first day and night I brought my tiny little bundle of joy home from the hospital, when it seems that the world holds nothing but possibilities, this night is more like a living breathing nightmare (at least something in the house is breathing, because I'm suddenly not able to).  It feels like a slow torturous death.  Like someone has removed an arm, two legs, a lung, and half my heart (along with half my brain and sanity) and said to me "there, now go about your normal well, be productive and be happy."  Are you (insert swear word(s) of choice here) serious?! 

That first night was a shocking night to say the least.  I wandered around the quiet empty house for hours, just trying to catch my breath.  I couldn't bear to even look into his room for fear of a complete breakdown, so I turned off the light and shut the door, trying to close out the pain in the process.  I think at one point I even went for a drive, just to break free of the walls that were suddenly closing in around me.  I needed fresh air and I needed it bad!  I needed to breathe!  I don't know how long I stayed in this zombie like comatose state, just wandering around until I somehow found myself in bed with the lights on (this also being the first night I ever spent completely alone in my own house) at 2am too wired to sleep but too exhausted from crying to stay awake any longer.  It was the longest night of my entire life.  Then, something incredible happened, I woke up in the morning and realized that I made it through the night (the half bottle of wine probably helped) and found that amazingly one of my legs had returned making facing the day and hopping along this new poison ivy infested path that much easier.  Each day I spend along this path things are getting a little easier to manage, the road gets a little wider and slowly my body parts are returning.  The ache in my heart lives on though, it's the one part that I fear I've lost forever. 

So now what?  I hate this question, yet I ask it of myself all the time.  I'm such an active person that I feel like I always have to have a plan in place and I'm always trying to think 3 steps ahead of wherever I am.  This time though there is no plan to follow, and I don't really know where I'm going all the time.  It's scary to say the least, but I intend to make the most of it.  It's an adventure, and I love (LOVE) adventures!  I'm slowly learning to embrace the randomness that my new path has to offer me, and to find joy and light in the little victories. That first night away from my child in my crazy comatose state I made a decision, more of a promise to myself really, that I was going to use these times away from my boy to focus on myself.  It sounds selfish, I know (it feels selfish sometimes too), but I mean really focus on dig deep and see what's lurking below the surface scary kind of focus.  It's a frightening place to go sometimes when we seek out what lurks below our own surface.  I'm certainly no angel with my own bit of dark secrets to dissect and uncover, but I'm learning to use this newly part time quiet house to reflect on these things and decide what I really want in life and where I want my new path to take us.  With a lifetime supply of Calamine lotion and my boy at my side, I should be set to take on the world, or at least this heavily wooded forest of chaos that I find myself in.