52 Lists for Happiness

I stumbled across a blog mentioning the book 52 Lists for Happiness. The writer is posting entries weekly on her blog. I liked the idea so much that I immediately ordered the book myself and decided to try to follow suit. The next year is bringing a lot of changes, so it seems like a perfect time to prioritize and search for happiness.  I’ve decided to use this exercise as an opportunity to get ideas from Liam as well.  We walk Banjo twice a day, allowing plenty of time for discussions.  These walks are some of my favorite times, even when Liam talks my ear off about Zelda or Minecraft. I’d love to ask Liam to create as many of these lists as possible and share them with him when he gets older.

Week one is pretty straightforward: List what is making you happy.

Mike and Liam: They’re both such great people! I am truly blessed.

Spring: Finally! We will soon be complaining about the heat and humidity, but for now, let’s enjoy the warm weather, open windows, and longer days. This is the first week Liam and I didn’t have to bundle up during our morning walks. Last night, we ate dinner outside. It is such a welcome change!

My friends: Without them, I would never have signed up for a half-marathon, nevermind been excited about it! My friends keep me laughing and trying to be a better person! What more could one ask for?

Fitness Challenges: Last weekend was the half-marathon. I’m also participating in a challenge through Laid-Back Fitness. I’m interested to see how my body changes when I focus on strength over cardio.

And from Liam:

Banjo

Going for walks with Banjo

Playing with Banjo (Do you see a theme?)

You and Dad

Harry Potter

Making my First Communion

I love the idea of focusing on the positive things in our lives. While the next few months will bring a lot of changes, there are a lot of great things going on in all of our lives. Perspective helps keep us all finding the positive things happening in our lives.

First Half-Marathon Recap

I don’t even know where to begin when talking about this weekend!

             

Liam made his first communion Saturday morning. He did such a great job! I am beyond blessed that he is a part of such a fantastic school community. I love his school and the fellow families who attend. After the church service, we went back to our house for a cookout. It was perfect: low-key and casual. Liam was thankful for his day!

I went to bed early Saturday night because the half began at 7:30. I planned to be out of the house by 6. Liam woke up with me at 5:15. We tried to be as quiet as possible. Because he wasn’t sure if he would wake up with me, he left me a note for the morning with the bagels Mike picked up from Panera.

I was trying my best to be organized, but nerves were starting to kick in. In being hopelessly proactive, I applied Tiger Balm to my calves as I got dressed, only to panic when realizing I had not yet put in my contact lenses. Somehow, I managed to put in my toric lenses into my puffy, allergy-hating eyes one handed! My goal of getting out the door by 6 was only off by six minutes.

One the ride down to the race, I decided to listen to Hamilton, my go-to “Let’s do this!” music. The Spotify account was set to the Kitchen Echo. Luckily, people slept through the music blasting through the kitchen speakers for four seconds while I wondered why it wasn’t playing in my car.

The atmosphere before the race was calm and cheerful. We chatted and laughed until it was time to gather by the starting line. The gentleman who coordinates the races explained a few things about the race and the course, beginning with, “I don’t give a sh*t who comes in first as long as everyone finishes.” His cell phone number was on every sign; if you couldn’t finish, he informed us to call for help. He would come get us and provide free admission to any future race.

We started off together, separating by the time we made the first turn. My friend Kerri and I stayed together. We were hauling! My goal was to finish the race in three hours, requiring a 13:42 pace. Kerri assured me I could do that. My first mile was 11:36! I became scared of burning out. We slowed down, clocking our second mile at 12:46.

Our third mile was back in the 11’s.

“Should we slow down?”

“We’re good. Our goal is 2:45. You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are.”

So, three miles in, my goal changed!

The course was beautiful. We ran to Charlestown Beach and back through country roads. Kerri and I stayed together for the first ten miles, then she went ahead. At the next mile, I encountered a girl I “knew” from a Facebook running group. On the way out in the race, I stopped and hugged her, then let my social anxiety kick in, worrying that she thought the worst of the crazy, sweaty random person who hugged her. The next time I checked my phone, I had a friend request from her. I saw her again just after Mile 10. She took pictures and shared them with me, including one of my favorites of Kerri and I high-fiving when we reached double digits!

Just after Mile 12, I hated everything! I was done running, my shoulder was sore, I was gross and sweaty and wanted to be done.  As I turned the corner, I saw two of my Rhode Runner buddies! I have never been happier to see anyone! Ignoring how sweaty I was, I left into each of their arms and expressed my love for them both! I began to cry as I ran up that final hill, overwhelmed by the support and the fact that I was actually about to complete this huge accomplishment. Hold it together, I told myself, you can’t run if you’re sobbing.

After that encounter, I was recharged and ready to finish this race, pushing myself through the last bit. When I turned the corner towards the finish line, my friends cheered me. I was at 2:44, I still had a chance to reach my goal! And I did, finishing in 2:44:59!

I don’t even care if this picture is flattering. It was taken immediately after finishing the race! I was ecstatic!

 

I was deliriously happy! My friends surrounded me and cheered for me. Then I realized the problem with finishing fifteen minutes faster than I planned: Mike and Liam were not yet there. I had told them to get there for 10:30; I finished at 10:15. They arrived a few minutes after I finished.

My friends are amazing! In this entire process of becoming a runner, they are my favorite takeaway! They make terrible runs tolerable and push me.  They are supportive and silly. We gathered and ran in with the rest of our group.  We stayed for over an hour after the end of the race, eating and celebrating.

Many times, I consider running a solo sport. Because of my schedule, the majority of my training was done by myself. However, races are what bring everyone together.  We made friends with others in the parking lot before the race and at the finish line. People we have never before met cheered for and supported us.

I’m still riding the high that comes from reaching a goal. My next half is in October, allowing a few weeks to regroup and decide the next goal. I’d like to work on speed; I think I doubt myself and fear burning out at the end when I need energy the most. It’d be great to take a minute off of my 5K time.

For now, I need to thank my husband and son for supporting me. For screwing up weekends by filling them with long training sessions. I need to thank my running friends, now simply known as my friends, who pushed me out of my comfort, convincing me to accomplish what had previously seemed impossible! I don’t think you will ever understand how much I appreciate your support and friendship!

My New Mantra

Banjo is an excellent addition to the family. After four months, we know each other pretty well. In the beginning, he kept jumping at the door, only to want to do nothing except play when he got outside. He has learned to whine at the door when he needs to go potty. After playing outside, he runs to the door when called, drops his favorite ball, and runs inside for an animal cracker. He’s improving on his walks, although we did have to buy him a harness. Now that he is better on the leash, we are continuing our afterschool runs, stopping on the way to pick up Liam to walk home together.

A few months ago, I was in the kitchen with Mike, explaining that Banjo was “kind of a d**k” on the leash.” The following morning, Liam reminded Banjo  “don’t be a d**k” during our walk.

“Liam, that’s an adult word. You can’t say it.”

“I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t know that. It won’t happen again.”

“Thank you, Buddy. I know you didn’t know.”

“You know, Mama, I know you’re an adult, but you don’t need to say so many adult words.”

Yup. That happened. I talk to my students about a “time and a place” for certain language when they say something inappropriate at school, explaining that my husband works in a shipyard and swears quite a bit at work yet still manages to watch his mouth in front of our son. Yet I was being reminded by my eight-year-old that I had been swearing too often, even if I think he is out of earshot, which can prove difficult in a 900 square foot house.

Mike found this interaction hilarious. “Don’t be a d**k” has taken on a life of its own between Mike and I. However, it’s been sticking in my mind at other times. During our Friday “day of errand errors,” the girl in front of me was blocking the entire condiment area. I stood there for a minute, slightly annoyed that our food was getting cold. I remembered our mantra and changed my demeanor. When the girl turned around, it was someone who attended the last high school where I taught. As we caught up for a few minutes, I was so thankful that I hadn’t begun tapping my feet or sighing. It was good to see her! A nice reminder that teachers make a difference long after students leave out classes.

At the store and it’s busier than usual? Don’t be a d**k.

Kid wants to talk to you about Pokemon while you would rather talk about anything else? Don’t be a d**k.

Traffic? Don’t be a d**k.

It’s been a few weeks since we started this voyage. I have to admit that it has definitely made me calmer.  I should also admit that, while I told Liam I would watch my use of “adult words,” I have only really been watching my use when he is within earshot. In my car, texting, or after he is asleep? All bets are off! Time and a place, right?

Liam asked if I would teach him to play tennis. I am not at all a tennis player, knowing enough to explain the basics of playing on a court and scoring, but it is never something I would express interest in doing on my own. However, because Liam wanted to learn, we bought two rackets and a bag of tennis balls on our last Target run. We experienced several failed attempts at home, the first because Banjo wanted to catch the balls and is much faster than us and the second when we tried playing in the street and spend more time chasing missed balls that managed to travel four houses up the street.

After driving to South County to drive this weekend’s half-marathon route, we stopped at a local high school tennis court to attempt to “play for real.” There were two other moms with their three kids riding bikes nearby. We went to the court. I let Liam practice serving, hitting the dozen balls across the court, heading to the other side, and repeating the process. One of the girls, who looked about Liam’s age, came and stood at the door of the opposite side of the tennis court. “I think she wants to play with you,” I told Liam.

“I wish we had an extra racket. We could let her play, but you and I are playing.”  I considered giving her my racket and letting her play, but Liam made it clear that he wanted me to teach him to serve. The window of time that Liam wants to play with me over his friends is closing; I’m going to take it while I can. Also, Liam learning new things is always tricky; he’s still learning the art of perseverance and isn’t always pleasant during these struggles. It is better not to invite anyone in to witness potential meltdowns.

The girl stooped down, took one of our balls, and walked away. Liam stopped and looked up at me, waiting to see my reaction because generating his own. “We have plenty,” I told him.

The girl’s mother watched the bit as well.  “Put that back.”

“They have a lot of them.”

“Put that back. Give them back their ball.”

She continued to play with the ball. The mother eventually giving up on getting her to return it, allowing her to take it with her. Liam continued to look to me to gauge appropriate reaction.  “We have plenty,” I repeated, “Let her have it.” He followed my lead without question.

Here’s the thing: it wasn’t at all about the tennis ball. The dozen tennis balls set me back $7.49, meaning the missing one cost sixty-two cents. This family was well-dressed and the children had nice bikes and helmets. Unless something recent happened, they could probably also give away a few tennis balls and not have it affect their quality of life. Through this girl stealing one of Liam’s tennis balls, I was able to teach him a few important lessons:

  1. Pick your battles.  Yes, what she did was wrong. But we didn’t need to turn it into a battle and ruin our afternoon.
  2. Do the right thing, even when others around you are not. Liam waited until we got into the car to talk about what happened. Even he noticed that her mother let her steal the ball. We had an honest talk about it.,”What will happen if she tries that at a store and gets into a lot of trouble? A parent’s job is to teach their kids right from wrong. It will catch up at some point.”
  3. You can be right without proving others wrong. This is such a huge lesson. You don’t always have to knock someone down to come out on top.
  4. Don’t be a d**k. This was worded to Liam as “Treat others as you want to be treated,” but they mean the same thing.

What Comes Next?

It’s weird to feel the first half creeping up on me. Tomorrow, I will complete my last long run before the big day. During the following week, I will take advantage of Liam’s first communion rehearsals to get in three runs during the week. When I look at the weather forecast, it tells me that the weather will be cloudy and in the low 60’s on the day of the race. The fact that the ten-day forecast includes half-marathon day is incredible and terrifying!

I’m wondering what that first week after the half will be like, a week without the pressure of training and making sure I fit runs into my schedule. I will admit that I slacked during the week. While I was great about the long runs on the weekends to increase my endurance, I did not get out three times during the week to work on speed. My weekday runs are shorter than the training plan suggests. It is challenging to get the runs in with Liam in school and Banjo running alongside me. The most Banjo can run is two miles; after that, he is exhausted. Poor pup hasn’t learned to pace himself. Those two miles are the fastest miles I run all week, then he wants to walk.

What comes next? My next half is in early October, allowing a short break before beginning another training session in July. This month, I am participating in a challenge through the gym where Liam and I take classes. After months of focusing on running and cardio with one weight-training class mixed in, I am interested in seeing how moving the focus to weight training will affect my body and my ability to run. I know my diet is holding me back, proving that one cannot out exercise a bad diet. My meals are pretty good; it’s mindless eating that counts, even when I don’t count it: the handful of Liam’s Chex Mix, etc.

It’s been a fantastic journey, one that I believe is only beginning.

In the past, I’ve been setting realistic, thoughtful goals, such as a three-hour half-marathon and a thirty-five minute 5K.  Here are a few of my superficial, egotistical goals:

  1. I want to be able to run in a sports bra. Yes, I possess the ability to do so now. Let me clarify: I want to be able to run in a sports bra without feeling judged. It looks so freeing and would love to be able to do so without worrying the entire time that I look like someone who has no business running without wearing at least a tank top.
  2. I want to run and truly zone out. It’s happened a few times during my long runs, and it is glorious. I think the burden of completing the first half will alleviate some of that pressure. During recent runs, I find myself focusing on distance or speed instead of just trying to enjoy the time to myself.
  3. I want to truly not care when people ask me “You’re a runner?” or “You lift weights?” It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it still happens. I want to be able to say, “Yeah,” without following it with a comment about loving food as well as running or not being a fast runner, feeling the need to downplay my hard work.

Liam’s Christmas Trip

This was the first year we struggled to decide what to get Liam for Christmas. Even he couldn’t think of anything he to tell Santa he wanted this year. Because we all had all of the “stuff” we needed, we decided to take Liam to New York City for a weekend. When Mike and I were down there last summer to see Hamilton, we purchased a small “I love NY” teddy bear to wrap up and give Liam.

When we gave him his gift on Christmas, the four months before the trip seemed like years. As life flies by, it arrived in a flash! We took the train, which was so much easier than trying to drive and equal in cost when factoring in the cost of parking a car for three days in the city. It was a comfortable, three-hour ride.

Liam was in awe as soon as we exited Penn Station and stepped foot in the city. He loved the buildings. Our first stop was McGee’s, the bar that inspired McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother. It was the only place Mike specifically mentioned wanting to visit, so we made sure to get there as soon we arrived, which worked out perfectly because we were starving and they hadn’t become too busy.

As we walked to the restaurant, Liam was able to see Times Square for the first time. On Friday afternoon, it wasn’t too busy. After lunch, we walked by Rockefeller Center on our way towards the subway to check in at our hotel. After a small, panic-inducing mix-up at the first hotel, which was not the one we where we made a reservation, we arrived at the correct hotel and settled in for a little bit. There was nothing scarier than hearing they did not have a room for us. Because there are three Holiday Inns in a small area, they said it happens pretty frequently.

     

After our break, we headed towards Battery Park. I could not wait for Liam to ride the Seaglass Carousel. We walked around, making our way to the 9/11 Memorial.

9/11 is difficult to explain to a child. We told him about a little bit about it at the airport last year. He gets the gist of it but still has many questions. He was incredibly respectful as we walked through the memorial. We stopped for pizza, providing Liam his first New York pizza experience. Like the Seaglass Carousel, it lived up to the hype!

We continued walking along the water, stopping to look at boats and the Brooklyn Bridge. Finally, we admitted defeat and headed back to the hotel to crash.

The following morning, we woke up early so we could eat breakfast and head to our reservation to visit the Statue of Liberty and climb to the crown. Our timing was perfect! We got there before it was too busy, being only the third group to reach the crown that day. As I wrote yesterday, Liam was scared but managed to do it anyway. He was so glad he did! The views were amazing! We visited Ellis Island, but, again, a lot of the significance went over Liam’s head.

                    

After leaving Liberty Island, we raced to Times Square to make sure we were there in time to see The Lion King. Mike’s folks bought us the tickets for Christmas. It was such a great surprise! The subway system is much more efficient in New York than it is in Boston; we never waited more than a few minutes for a train, and they seemed to travel much faster. In Boston, we sometimes wait fifteen minutes for trains. The MTA is a nice improvement, which brought us to Times Square with a lot of time to explore!

Times Square on a Saturday was a beast! None of us enjoy crowds and were not overly excited to spend any more time there than we had to. Liam, who is eight, could not wait to eat at the huge McDonalds! While we rarely eat fast food, I was happy he was up for a quick, cheap meal. After lunch, we explored the M&M Store, which instantly made Mike and I queasy with claustrophobia. Liam was happy but eventually got tired of being pushed around.

We made our way to The Lion King, thankful for a chance to sit for a few hours. The show was amazing! It was as great as we hoped. I am eternally grateful for such a great gift!

Liam was such a good sport through our trekking through the city that we decided to make a stop just for him at the Nintendo Store. He was in heaven! Even though we told him we weren’t buying anything, we couldn’t resist buying him a T-shirt.

Done with the crowds, we head back towards our hotel in the financial district. We found a great old pub where we had dinner. By this point, we had been going for twelve hours, walking over ten miles. Liam was tired, but holding up. (Actually, we all felt that way.) Liam asked if we could walk back to the Seaglass Carousel and ride it at night. How often do we get here? When would we be here again? Knowing it was a gamble with an exhausted child, we took the risk.

 

Liam proved he was my child by saying, “The city is so much nicer when there aren’t any other people around!”

 

   

It was one of my favorite moments of the trip! At night, the Seaglass Carousel was even more beautiful! We reached the sweet part of the day where the crowds had gone home. We didn’t have to wait to ride the carousel again. We walked along the water, admiring the Statue of Liberty and the city skyline illuminated. It was a beautiful way to end the evening, bringing our total daily distance walked to twelve miles.

       

By Sunday, we were exhausted. We went downstairs to eat breakfast, then went back to our room until checkout, watching The Discovery Channel and lounging. When it was time to leave, we headed one last time down to Battery Park and wandered around. We discovered a cookie spot that offers warm cookie delivery until 3am! I am a suburban girl at heart, but knowing I could have warm cookies brought to me at all hours of the night might make me rethink my position about cities. We tried our best to explain Wall Street and the Stock Exchange to Liam. While he didn’t fully comprehend the significance, he was happy to see the bull. We stopped to visit Hamilton’s grave.

A childhood friend lives in New York. I was delighted we had the chance to catch up Sunday afternoon. She suggested meeting at Chelsea Market and walking the High Line. These were two events we never would have known about on our own.  Chelsea Market was interesting but crowded. Liam enjoyed some gelato while we waited. The High Line was beautiful! I am so glad that we explored it, giving us a chance to enjoy the city and catch up with Liz.

The weekend was better than I hoped! Liam was an absolute trooper! He walked and stayed with us and made all sorts of safe decisions, making it easier for Mike and me to relax a bit. We made a point of giving him time to be a kid, letting him chase pigeons in a park or burn some energy on a playground. While Liam is not exactly a traveler; he followed along with us great!

This weekend may begin a tradition of weekend trips in lieu Christmas gifts. Liam asked if we could do it again next year, choosing a different city to explore. When we began discussing Philadelphia as a possible destination, Liam asked us to stop talking because he wants it to be a surprise. I am thankful that we were able to travel together. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a great family tradition!

Two Weeks to Go and Wondering about Writing

Two weeks from now, I will have a 13.1 sticker on my car! (Reminder: order 13.1 sticker this afternoon.)

I had high hopes for running last week since I had the week off for April vacation. The universe had other plans. Monday was miserable. Liam and I spent the morning watching the Marathon, amazed at runners who complete the marathon under ideal circumstances, nevermind gale force winds and excessive rain. Thursday also brought rain. Yes, I could have gone out for a run, but I chose not to. I did run four miles on Wednesday, which became my only run of the week. I did not go out for my long weekend run because we were in New York City. I will consider the thirty miles we walked in three days a workout and call it good.

Last week, I submitted a writing piece to She Can & She Did, one of my favorite running blogs. I am part of Kelly Roberts’ Facebook group; I love the positivity and support. I decided to share my story, that I had gone from accepting the fact that I “just wasn’t a runner” to being two weeks away from running my first half. It was the second story she featured on her website!

I decided to share the link on my Facebook page, officially letting my friends, family, and coworkers know that I have been writing. Writing is so personal that I hadn’t told anyone I was writing for three months after I started the blog. There were two fears:

  1. I had no business writing about running
  2. I had no business writing period. (I had nothing new to offer the world.)

The response to my writing has been so positive, yet again proving that magical things happen when stepping out of your comfort zone.

I am thankful for the time and energy to focus on running. I am also thankful to make the time to write. Liam watches me do both; it is good for him to see his mother trying to better herself. It makes him want to do both activities. I love his stories! In challenging myself, I am teaching Liam lessons about perseverance and stepping out of comfort zones.  This weekend, we purchased Crown Access tickets to see the Statue of Liberty. Once we began climbing inside the statue, Liam was scared. There were many spiral flights of stairs in a very tight area. At one point, he began to cry that he didn’t want to go any further. Honestly, I was also claustrophobic and relieved that he could possibly be my ticket out of it. However, I reminded him that being brave means doing things, even when they scare you. We continued to the top of the crown. It was a rare experience; the last separate times Mike and I visited the Statue, access inside Lady Liberty was closed. We were doing this! We were all so happy that we faced our fears. The view was amazing!

Lady Liberty’s face from inside the statue

I also learned another lesson about being brave: the climb down the Statue of Liberty was far worse the climb up. One the way up, we were focused on our goal and looking up (literary.) On the way down, it was difficult not to focus on the significant distance below us. I feel like there is some sort of philosophical meaning or take away from that experience, but I haven’t yet decided how to express it in words, something about the importance of planning after reaching a goal.

Running and writing have created opportunities for me to be a model for Liam, one of the greatest unexpected byproducts of this journey.

 

View from the top

 

My Favorite Audiobooks

When I visited California, ran each night along the Sanfranciso Bay Path, listening to Hamilton as I completed my evening runs (to In and Out Burger). By the time I joined BRG, the Hamilton Mixtape had provided the soundtrack for my runs. Those two albums remind of times I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried new things, both with life-changing results.

The week before the Gaspee Days 5k, I put together a Spotify playlist titled “Run Run Run,” filled with guilty pleasure tunes to get me through my first race as a “real runner.” As I continued my running, I added to the playlist but found that the playlist didn’t always match my mood and finding other playlists on Spotify. This was great until I started going over my data usage each month. When I attempted one of my first longer runs, I purchased an audiobook to try during the run. I was hooked! I often borrow audiobooks on CD from the library, to listen to on my ride to work. However, changing CDs and carrying a CD player during runs did not sound enjoyable.  Audiobooks are expensive and I am cheap. Before signing up for a trial of Audible, I downloaded the OverDrive app from the library.

OverDrive allows you to borrow audiobooks for free. You can download the books, allowing you to listen without eating all of your precious data. It isn’t perfect. There are often long hold lines for popular books and you cannot renew books, something I often do when borrowing books on CD. However, I have never had an issue finding a book that I enjoyed. If I find myself getting close to the end of the two-week borrowing cycle, I listen to the book at a faster speed to ensure I complete it on time.

I have the best intentions to read more. Each year, I set a goal and track it using the Goodreads app, coming two books shy of last year’s goal of twenty-five books. This year, I have already “read” fifteen books in 2018, a mix of real books and audiobooks.

In my months of listening to audiobooks during long runs, I find myself preferring non-fiction and autobiographies over fiction. I also find myself listening to cheesy, celebrity autobiographies at an alarming rate. Here are a few of my favorite audiobooks:

A Man Called Ove

 

Last spring, I trudged through My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. I finished it over an extended period of time and didn’t love it. Hearing praise for A Man Called Ove, I decided to give Fredrik Backman another try. I loved this book! It tells the story of Ove, a crotchety old man, and his neighbors who insist on including him in their lives. I enjoyed the flashbacks explaining how Ove became his grumpy, particular self. I’ve heard rumors about it becoming a film; I would love to see this!

Yes, My Accent is Real and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You 

 

I love The Big Bang Theory. At the recommendation of a friend, I found this book. I enjoyed hearing Kunal Nayyar discuss growing up in India and coming to the United States as a college student. My favorite passages were the ones in which he discusses his relationship with his father. I found myself wanting to spend time with his dad more than Kunal himself. Not that Kunal is at all offputting; his father offers him sage advice at pivotal times in his life.

Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and be Your Own Person

I have never watched a single episode of any of Shonda Rhimes’ shows, not because they do not interest me. I’ve missed her shows because they start at 9:00 and 10:00, a time I am already in bed asleep. By the time I’d hear how great a show was, I was already several seasons late to the party and never got around to tuning in. Year of Yes follows Shonda’s pledge to say “Yes” to every opportunity offered to her. I finished this book wishing to be her friend. I enjoyed her positivity, her appreciation for her life, and her notes on balancing work, motherhood, self-care, and adult relationships.

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

As someone who often admits that if I had history teachers as amazing as my English teachers, I probably would have become a history teacher, I thought I knew about my country’s history. This book enlightened me to a lot of things I did not know about the beginnings of America. It definitely made some of my longer runs go by quickly!

 

 

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

 

Samantha Irby managed to leave me speechless! I loved this collection of essays about dating, work, and family. She is unapologetically honest, leading to hilarious one-liners that I would often repeat. This is the book I’ve recommended to every friend I know can handle Irby’s antics. From discussions about disastrous dates, her love/hate relationship with her cat, to adapting her friends who now have kids, We are Never Meeting in Real Life is a surprise that got me through a few great runs, even getting me to run longer at times because I wanted to hear how stories end.

Sunshine Blogger Award

I was nominated by the lovely Laketra Chick!

I love her writing style! She manages to be optimistic and positive while creating engaging, thought-provoking pieces. I have been moved to tears by some of her reflections and experiences.

In response to the nomination, I have to thank the blogger who nominated me and link their blog (check!), write a post and answer her 11 questions, nominate 11 other bloggers and let them know, write 11 new questions, and display the award on this post.

Here are her 11 questions…

1.) If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Time. I feel like I am always trying to get the most of every day and preparing for the future. In doing this, I feel like there are never enough hours in the day. I would love to have a few extra hours to get in more runs, read more chapters of Harry Potter with Liam,  throw the ball for Banjo, and maybe even just get caught up on my DVR, which always makes me feel guilty.

2.) Celebrity crush? John Green. He’s a nerd writer who looks very much like my husband, proving that I do, in fact, have a type.

.

3.) If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pizza. I don’t even need to think about this one! I love all types of pizza: traditional pepperoni, breakfast pizza, fire cooked pizza. I could each pizza every day an never tire of it.

4.) If you had a time machine, would go back in time or into the future? I would not use it. I like where I am right now and would not want to mess with things.

5.) What would the title of your autobiography be? When I was younger, I lived in a town that was one town north of a town called Harmony.  North of Harmony always seemed like a great title for an autobiography.

6.) What is your biggest accomplishment thus far? The eight-year-old who is currently playing in the yard with his dog. He is inquisitive, smart, thoughtful, reflective, and kind. If I can keep him this way, I will have lived a successful life.

7.) If you can instantly become an expert in something, what would it be? When I was younger, I wanted to earn a degree in late 18th Century American Literature and write a dissertation comparing the Peanuts characters to Mark Twain’s protagonists. Now, I am happy being happy with my life. I would love to be an expert in being content with what you have.

8.) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? Recently, I’ve been hearing “Run the mile you’re in” a lot. It carries over into other parts of my life. I get caught up worrying about the future and worrying about what ifs.

9.) As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was very young, I wanted to be an astronaut. This dream was shattered when I realized I was scared of flying. Since I was in seventh grade, I knew I wanted to be an English teacher. I’m thankful that I am able to live my dream.

10.) You have to sing karaoke, what song do you pick? The only time I’ve even sung karaoke, I sang Superstar by the Carpenters.

11.) Are you a morning person or a night owl? When I was younger, I was a total night owl. Now, I am the exact opposite. I am in bed by 9:30 most nights, even on weekends, and rarely sleep past 7.

 

Why, yes, I was asleep at 9:19 last Saturday night!

 

Biggest Loser Dropout

I made a promise to myself that I would not weigh myself during April. #noweightilmay has proved easier than I imagined. To be honest, I looked myself up and down and felt my tummy for a few days to gauge how my body felt and looked.  I can tell by merely putting my hands on my hips whether or not I am bloated that day. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate surprises and need to know what is going on. While not seeming the number has been nice, it is difficult to relinquish that control that accompanies the scale.

I paid into the second round of Biggest Loser with my coworkers. We were supposed to weigh in each Monday. I skipped last week but was curious, more because I didn’t want to give up my chance at the monetary prize than for the number on the scale. Without getting on the scale, I had managed to stay the same weight for almost two weeks. Yes, I would be happy if it had gone down a few pounds, but I was pleased that I did not gain weight when I was not holding myself accountable with daily weigh-ins.

Hoping that I would be down a little, I went to the weigh-in. The scale said I was up a half pound. Whatever. I had a realization about this contest: I was not going to win. We are on vacation next week and won’t weigh in. The following Monday, I will weigh in after spending three days in New York City. We don’t get down there very often. Therefore, it would be a crime not to eat my weight (whatever that number is right now) in black and white cookies and whatever other treats I encounter. When I go away, I prefer to eat like I had been just voted off the reality show Survivor.

The kind lady who supervises the weigh-ins tried to give me friendly advice: “Just watch your portions and go for walks.”

“I ran ten miles on Saturday.”

“Oh… it’s okay; you’re not that big.”

I know her intentions we well intended. I truly believe that. If I have learned anything through my adult life, it is this: my body does not believe in being anything below a size ten. For the six months leading up to my wedding, I watched every calorie, attended back to back workout classes, ran miles and miles, and never made it below 155 pounds. (This was also before my hypothyroidism was discovered, but the weight doesn’t move below 160, even when my thyroid is in check.)

I work out a lot and eat a pretty good diet. It could always be better, but most people could say the same thing about themselves. I drink plenty of water. It has taken me a long time to accept the fact that I will never be tiny.

During this round of Biggest Loser, I have run my fastest mile. I have run my longest runs: ten plus milers. I PRed my deadlift: 210 pounds!

My obsession with my weight gives me a weird ability to remember what I weigh at any picture I see of myself. I keep an album on my phone illustrating gains and loses.  As I get stronger, the number might not go down.  Sometimes, It might go up. I need to remind myself that as I continue this journey.

I weigh less in the first picture than I do in the second one, proof that I need to get over the scale obsession!

The final weigh-in of Biggest Loser is the day after the half, May 7. I may jump on the scale to see if my final weight qualifies me for a prize. Or I may finish the race, go for a beer with my friends, celebrate that we worked together to reach a fantastic goal, and not worry about what the scale says on Monday morning!

Four Weeks and Go, Red Sox, and Feeling Like an Adult!

Four weeks from now, my car will have a 13.1 sticker on the back window! Is it sad that I am ridiculously happy about that?

This weekend, I went out with a group of fabulous Rhode Runner ladies for a long run on the East Bay Bike Path. It is one of my favorite places to run but because it is about a half an hour from my house, I rarely go there on my own. Sometimes, Liam, Mike, and I will venture over there, visit an amazing playground, order Subway sandwiches for a picnic lunch, and walk along the bike path. It is beautiful, and I have sworn that if I lived closer, I would be the sanest, fittest person around.

The following pictures are a few years old, but they illustrate the beauty of this bike path and playground:

        

As we met up that morning, I was unreasonably nervous. Yes, I had already run ten miles. Yes, I knew all of these ladies. We’ve pushed each other through self-doubt and celebrated so many victories. Honestly, my anxiety, which hasn’t shown up in a long time, decided to visit. Ten miles will take us well over two hours. That is a lot of time to chit-chat. What if I say something silly or inappropriate? What if my fear of silence kicks in and I talk too much? What if my fear of talking too much kicks in and I don’t say enough, causing everyone to think I don’t want to be there? I had a knot in my stomach as I drove there. Once we got going, I was fine. I am so thankful to this group of ladies who encourage me to do things I would never do on my own. We ran ten miles, laughing most of the way. This past year has been focused on stepping out of my comfort zone. Yet again, I am glad I did! I am so happy that I faced my fear and met up with them! I cannot wait for all of the hugs and tears that will flow freely as we cross the finish line of the half-marathon… in twenty-seven days!

My knee pain has plateaued. I am aware of it when I run and lift heavy weights, but it is manageable and not getting any worse. I’m glad I visited the doctor and know that it isn’t anything serious. I’ve been really good about icing it and stretching. As long as it doesn’t get any worse, I can manage the pain. Even though I followed doctor’s orders not to run for a few days, I still managed to have my busiest week ever in my five plus years of owning a FitBit!

Yesterday, we went up to Fenway. It was bitterly cold, and we went up there knowing that we probably would not stay the entire game. Liam has been attending games since he was a few months old, often enjoying the State Street Pavillion seats occasionally offered to us for free. Last year, when we sat in the grandstand during the tickets I bought Mike for his birthday, Liam complained that we had to go and get our own food instead of having it brought to us by a waitress. “You mean I have to get my own hot dogs?” he exasperated. Yesterday, he realized quickly that right field seats do not come with access to an indoor viewing area. Mike and I were well into our twenties before either of us had visited Fenway; I hope Liam someday realizes how fortunate he is to have so many experiences at a young age. Even though it was sunny, by the fourth inning, my toes were icicles. The game was moving at a snail’s pace, they were down four to one, and we decided to cut our losses and head home. Even though they came back in the seventh inning, we stand behind our decision. I love that we have a tradition. Even when they lose in thirty-degree temperatures, I’m never disappointed to head to Fenway.

  

While I would never want to live in the city, I do enjoy walking around Boston. After the game, we strolled Newberry Street and Copley, enjoying the excitement of next week’s Boston Marathon.

     

Can I tell you how much I love Amazon’s Subscribe and Save? Seriously, I have an unhealthy love for it. For the most part, the prices are cheaper than at Target or the local markets, and I never feel more secure and put together than when I realize that I will never again run out of granola bars, Nuun, or Lysol wipes. While it was weird to do the math to figure out how many poop bags Banjo uses in a month so we could order the correct amount, but Subscribe and Save makes me feel like I have my life together! Nothing makes me feel like a successful adult more than having a box containing contact lenses solution automatically mailed to my house each month.

Speaking of feeling like an adult, my texting and phone habits created the ultimate “You’re really an adult” realization this weekend. Saturday morning, the group texts began just before seven. A few years ago, I would have cursed whoever thought of texting me at that hour of the day. Now, the texts began while I was washing the pan I used to cook myself breakfast. This morning, my first text message came through before six. I was already up and getting ready.  I am amazed that I rarely sleep past 7 or stay up past 9:30, even on weekends. For years, I had read about the importance of maintaining a steady sleep schedule. I finally understand how much truth is in this sage advice!