9-15-14 and 9-16-14

Monday, 9-15-14

Because I work nights and don’t sleep until later in the day I basically have my days free to sit on the couch, eat bon bons and watch soap operas to myself now that Carlos is in school full day. Most people are of the opinion that I should sleep during the day, but I’ve only ever done that on rare occasions and I end up sleeping less than I do in the evening. I don’t like it. When Carlos went back to school we decided to just keep things as they were because I felt it worked best for me. However, if Carlos has something important in the evening then I will sleep during the day so I don’t have to miss it.

I have no problem keeping busy and typically have a bunch of things I try to get done each day. One perk of being home during the daytime is that I often get to visit with friends who are also home or I meet other friends on their lunch break from time to time. I encourage meeting up for coffee/tea and then going for a walk or doing some kind of activity to kill two birds with one stone. So on Monday morning my friend Mary picked me up, we grabbed coffees and then walked around Mount Holyoke College gabbing for about an hour and 15 minutes. It was a nice slow stroll as she has knee and back issues.

Back at home I managed to fit in a short body weight strength routine before running (literally) to the library to give blood. The town just built a gorgeous new library almost exactly one mile from my house so I ran there, donated blood and then walked home. The guy manning the snack table was so worried that I would pass out if I ran home he made me promise to walk. I agreed and called my mother on the walk home. It was a positively gorgeous day.

I picked Carlos up from school and went over my friend Kate’s house. The boys wanted to light saber battle before swimming lessons. So we went for a walk to the college while they battled. They settled into their stroke lessons and Kate and I decided to go for another walk around the pond just outside the college’s athletic center. We fit in a little over 2 miles before returning to watch their diving lessons.Carlos is just learning to dive so he’s a little apprehensive. Kate’s son is amazing, dives in like a porpoise with hardly a splash. I love that these kids get out there and give it their all for two hours of lessons!

After swimming the night sped along with dinner, bath and before I knew it I was in bed for a short nap before work.

Tuesday, 9-16-14

Do you ever just feel completely off kilter? Well this was that kind of day. Yoga class was horrible. I was off balance literally and I just felt inadequate and ungraceful. The weather was bitter, grey and dreary in the morning. I came home and sat in front of the space heater which killed me because it’s not even officially fall. I actually managed to get a few financial things done.

Finally I got off my tush and did some body weight strength training. I’m just trying to fit it in when I can, some lunges, squats, ab stuff whenever wherever! The sun came out. I warmed up a bit. So I decided to go for a short run. I ran 3.20 miles in my neighborhood.

I picked up Carlos from school and met my mom at the mall. Carlos went home with her to spend the afternoon. I went home, cleaned up, finished folding laundry and made Carlos’ lunch before going to bed.

It doesn’t sound like a bad day, but I also felt like a black hole when it came to food. I went to bed trying to analyze my chaotic at times eating habits. It’s an uphill battle for me, but I’m determined to win.

I woke up startled thinking I had overslept, but was relieved to see it was only 8:30. I slept for another hour and 15 minutes, got up, showered and got ready for another night of work.

 

And so are the days of my life…

9-10-14 to 9-14-14

Where do the days go?

Wednesday 9-10-14

I’m starting to get my running mojo back. I decided to run up Mt. Holyoke and then hike my way back down. I ran up the access road to the top rather than the trail because I am still being over cautious about injury. It was an awesome feeling making it to the top. It’s not a huge climb and only about 1.65 miles to the top, but it really gets the heart pumping. I took in the view from the top and then strolled down the trails for a total of 3.15 miles.

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

I practiced a little trail running on flat stretches of trail. It was a leisurely hike down. As I was getting close to my car I greeted an older man who was walking his little furry white dog. The dog was bounding along quite happily. We said hello and then the man informed me that 6 months ago the dog was paralyzed! I said well she’s made a remarkable recovery and now I can tell you all about the dog, the man’s daughter who lives in Maine, his workout schedule, etc. People love to share their stories with me! This summer at our favorite little local lake, Carlos ran into a friend from school. When I walked down the small beach to get him to go home I met his friend’s grandmother and her friend. The grandmother’s friend suddenly began explaining that she was wearing a big floppy beach hat because she was in menopause and taking hormones and didn’t want to get a sunburn. I learned all about her daughter who was a new Chemistry teacher and more about menopause. It’s amazing what people will share!

Later in the afternoon I had a phone call to make and I was doing some computer work at a coffee shop near the bike trail. It was a gorgeous day out so I decided to walk and talk. I was surprised that I ended up walking 4.35 miles. I moved for a total of 7.5 miles.

Thursday 9-11-14

I have been itching to do a long run, something more than 5 miles. I had plans to run with my friend Kate, the one I will be running with in the Baystate Half Marathon next month. However, things didn’t work out quite as planned. I left the house and decided to run in her direction. I ran 4.47 miles before meeting up with her as she got delayed by a couple of unplanned issues. We then did some hill work and a mini boot camp of lunges, squats and tricep dips. The weather was really undecided, it was grey and gloomy, but a bit muggy and breezy. Rain was imminent and of course as we headed back to do more hill work it began raining. We decided to just get back on the road and run to my house. Luckily the rain fizzled out.  I ran another 4.04 miles for a total of 8.51 miles!

Back at my house we indulged in a little homemade facial. I made a face scrub out of almond oil and coconut sugar which smells divine! We cleansed our faces with my new Beauty Counter cleanser and then did the scrub. My skin felt so nice and smooth!

Little known fact…I really wanted to be an esthetician when I was in high school. I used to practice doing facials on my friends and family. I was so interested in it my mom took me to the Elizabeth Grady School in Boston for a tour and informational session. Of course once my friends started looking into colleges I wanted to do the same. I am still interested in skin care, but these days I am more interested in how to care for the skin as naturally as possible by eliminating chemically laden products in exchange for more natural organic remedies. Something tells me at some point my career path might come full circle.

Friday 9-12-14

I have been itching to get back into strength training. I hit the gym after bringing Carlos to school. I didn’t have much time, but managed to fit in a good 45 minute session including a quick warm up on the bike. I am aiming for one day a week at the gym.

Later I met my oldest and dearest childhood friend for lunch. It was a belated birthday lunch for me. It’s always nice to catch up with her as we don’t see each other too often. She is a busy nurse practitioner with 4 sons! She had 3 of her boys long before I had Carlos. As kids we used to talk about how we would live next door to each other in California and have children at the same time. Well by the time I got pregnant with Carlos I figured that dream was long gone. Ironically she got pregnant a few months later with her fourth son. Carlos and Domenic are great friends and although they don’t see each other often they act as though no time has passed when they do get together just like their moms. Now I just have to figure out how we are going to live next door to each other in California!

Saturday 9-13-14

I brought Carlos to soccer practice in the morning and went for a run while he was there. It was a really enjoyable 4.36 mile run. After practice we went home so I could shower. We picked up our farm share, went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card for a birthday party that afternoon and back home for lunch.

The birthday party was for one of Carlos’ new school friends. He loves to dance and takes dance lessons. His mom said he really wanted a dance birthday party so the studio let him have the party there. The two dance instructors spent about a half hour teaching the group of kids a short dance to one of the songs in the most recent Muppets movie. Then the kids performed the dance for us. They had cake and ice cream in the lobby area before going back into the dance room for another performance. The dance instructors put other music on and led the kids in a little freestyle dance party. It was nice to see the boys participating too and having so much fun. My husband is a great dancer and Carlos has inherited the natural rhythm that every Mozambican boy seems to be born with thankfully!

Sunday 9-14-14

I ran 4.40 miles at my happy place, Ashley Reservoir, for a much needed run after work. At home I whipped up my favorite black bean and corn salad for an afternoon barbecue. Carlos had skating at 11:30. At 1:30 all went to the barbecue at the house of one of his class mates later in the afternoon. This new school is very small. There is a strong sense of community. This family invited the entire class over to get to know the families. The teacher and one teaching assistant also came. It was a beautiful afternoon. There was tons of homemade food. The company was enjoyable. It was so nice to chat with everyone, get to know the parents and kids a little better and make ourselves more visible. Carlos is settling in very nicely and we are beyond thrilled with the transformation we have seen in him in the short time he’s been back at school.

We love Montessori and what it is doing for Carlos, but we are quickly becoming aware that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. At soccer practice a boy from Carlos’ old school told him that his mom won’t let him go to Montessori because they let you learn whatever you want to and that’s not right. There have also been a few quips made to me by parents about the lack of structure in a Montessori classroom. I don’t say too much other than to encourage people to visit a Montessori school before criticizing. I tend to preface any discussion about Carlos’ new school with, “Montessori school is not appropriate for all children, but it is a great fit for Carlos.”

So how was your week/weekend?

 

9-6-14 to 9-9-14

Slow down September!

Saturday, 9-6-14

Remember sleepovers? Well I woke up to the sound of Carlos and his friend Tyler belting out Gangnam Style from the massive fort they made in the living room. It was about 6 a.m.

First order of business was to run to the farm to grab our farm share. It’s a half share and I am able to select my own produce.

 

Farm Share: Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, arugula, summer squash and tomatoes

Farm Share: Napa cabbage, Swiss chard, arugula, summer squash and tomatoes

The boys had a soccer training at 10:45.  It was blazing hot, but they got through it. We met Tyler’s mom and brother for lunch after and then we all went apple picking. It was the very first day of picking at Dickinson’s Farm in neighboring Granby, MA. Here are few photos of our afternoon outing.

The rest of Saturday was unplanned. I helped my friend unpack and organize. They just moved into her mom’s house. I love organizing! It’s much more fun with a friend. I think we got quite a bit accomplished. Carlos and Tyler played zombie hunters for hours. We all ate pizza for dinner and then walked to the town commons for frozen yogurt and coffee. Awesome day!

Sunday 9-7-14

Carlos had his first skating session of the new season. This is his third year in the Learn to Skate program. He can obviously skate by now, but has no interest in playing hockey. He was apprehensive about joining because he said he wouldn’t know anyone since all of his skating buddies moved on to hockey, but said he wanted to do it. Well he was pretty aggravated about going Sunday morning and gave me attitude on the way there. At the end of the lesson he was beaming from ear to ear. He said, “mom the coaches love me. They all remember me and the main coach told me that I could help out with the new skaters. It was awesome!”

I’m so proud of Carlos. He is an only child and often does things alone. I could care less if he ever plays hockey. I think knowing how to ice skate is a great skill on its own. He’s a decent skater. He can maneuver stick and puck thanks to these lessons. The most important thing is that he is out there moving his body, getting a little physical activity and he will most certainly make new skating friends.

I emailed the coach the next day to let him know how his kind words had affected Carlos. I thanked him for the hard work he and all of the coaches put into the program and for instilling confidence in the children. This program is phenomenal. It is extremely well organized. The kids learn quickly, but skills are reinforced each week. It is also a serious bargain at $99. It runs from September through March. At the end the kids are awarded trophies and a certificate. Each Monday we receive an email from the head coach explaining the drills that were taught, information on what is to come in the program and a lot of encouraging words about the progress the kids are making.

Monday 9-8-14

After a busy, eventful night at work I just wanted to run. I didn’t care how long or how far. I simply wanted to run. So I dropped Carlos off at school and took off from there. I’m enjoying new running routes around his new school. It’s in an area I really love and I welcome the change of scenery. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sky was clear and it was not too warm.

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IMG_1341

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I ended up running 5.56 miles at a rather decent pace. This is one of my longest runs since the injury. I felt amazing! I’m excited to start building up my mileage again.

I felt a surge of productivity and dug into to my basement project at last. I started organizing the things I will sell at a tag sale and made a throw away pile. I got quite a bit done for the first day.

Monday afternoon Carlos had swimming lesson at Mount Holyoke College. This is also a fabulous program. It runs three weeks in the fall and three weeks in the spring. It serves as a fundraiser for the swim team. The girls on the team teach the children strokes. Carlos already knew how to swim when he started last fall, but the improvement in his strokes was phenomenal. He is usually with his friend Tyler and one instructor so it’s almost like a private lesson. This session he is also doing diving lessons because he wanted to be able to swim in the “hot tub!” The diving pool is heated. So far he loves the diving lessons too.

Carlos is not a competitive kid. My goal is to expose him to a little bit of everything without putting any pressure on him. This fall he is doing ice skating on Sundays, swimming for three weeks and he is playing on a local in-town soccer team with his friends. These are all things he enjoys doing. I want him to stay active, but at the same time I want him to have fun while learning new skills.

Tuesday, 9-9-14 

I had coffee with a nurse friend. We actually never worked together, but I got to know her a little bit when I trained on the cardiac unit. She is no longer working at the same hospital, but we are friends on Facebook and have very similar interests particularly in places we travel. She is a wonderful nurse, very intelligent and dedicated. She is going through a transition in her career and I am beginning to think about transitioning out of the hospital myself. It was nice to chat with her about nursing and pick her brain on different things I should think about.

In the evening Orlando and I went to Back to School Night at Carlos’ new school. I’m even more certain that we made the right decision to send Carlos to a Montessori school. It was a tremendously informative event. I learned so much about what Carlos does each day. It is a very interesting environment that promotes learning, respect, kindness, cooperation and independence. Carlos is still loving his school days. He anxiously awaits Mondays during the weekend!

Since my mom was babysitting for Carlos we took advantage of the opportunity to go out to dinner afterwards. Orlando and I haven’t had a date in ages. We went across the street to a local favorite, Mission Cantina. The laid back atmosphere inside is no indication of the fabulous food. The guacamole was perfect. My request for a vegan friendly dish was easily accommodated and I was treated to delicious grilled vegetable enchiladas verdes. Orlando went with the traditional chicken molé. It was nice to sit back and catch up a bit.

9-4-14 and 9-5-14

Have you seen Patrick the world’s oldest and largest wombat? Well now you have. Your welcome! Creepy or cute? I’m camp creepy.

Patrick the giant Wombat

Patrick the giant Wombat

On Sunday, Carlos and I hit up a spot I’ve wanted to hike for ages. These our photos from our hike at Purgatory Chasm in Sutton, MA. It was about an hour away from where we live. The rocks in the chasm are like a little boy’s dream playground. We had a blast climbing rocks and hiding in the crevices. We even found a geocache on one of the trails above the chasm. At the entrance of the park is a really nice playground for the kids.

Yesterday I went for a nice run after bringing Carlos to school. I finally turned on my Map My Run app to track my mileage for the first time in ages. I’m running in a new area and wanted to have an idea of how far some of the routes are that I’ve been running. I was pleasantly surprised with my pace. It’s not quite as slow as I feel. So that was great!

Then I hit up my favorite Vinyasa yoga class. There were only 3 of us. I love the instructor. I move along at my own pace and just keep trying to improve on my poses. Savasana is hands down my favorite part! I swear it’s the best rest I get some days. I always feel like it’s been hours when in reality it’s really only 5-8 minutes.

After yoga it was time for a delicious almond milk latte at my favorite local cafee, a pedicure and girl talk with my friend Mary. This happened…

Blue sparkly pedi

Blue sparkly pedi

I’m usually much more of a plain Jane pink toenail polish kind of a girl, but I decided to go into fall with a bang.

In the afternoon Carlos and I had an impromptu mom and son date starting with our town’s Farmer’s Market. After tasting these we bought two seasoning sauces from locally based Tortured Orchard. They are amazing. Carlos had the Sweet Apple Blush on his waffle this morning.

Tortured Orchards

Locally made Lemon Ginger Twist and Sweet Apple Blush seasoning sauces

After the Farmer’s Market we had a bite to eat at Autentica Mexican Food. A veggie burrito for me, one to go for Orlando and kids quesadillas for him. We ran into friends from swimming lessons, chatted away with them, ate and then popped into the Odyssey Bookstore next door. I could look at books all day. I asked the woman who was working what her favorite books have been recently and she told me about two of her favorites, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman and “The Dog Stars” by Peter Heller. I’m reading Harry Potter 2 as I mentioned and my friend Mary just gave me the book “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman. So many books, not enough time!

I received a fun delivery in the mail yesterday. We got our concert tickets for Angelique Kidjo.

Angelique Kidjo Tickets

Angelique Kidjo Tickets

It will be Carlos’ first real concert. We are excited to expose him to an amazing African artist, Angelique Kidjo from Benin in West Africa. If you’ve never heard of her you might have heard her voice as she has collaborated with Dave Matthews and Carlos Santana.

Iwoya, Angelique Kidjo and Dave Matthews

Adouma, Angelique Kidjo and Carlos Santana

We’ve seen her once before and she is incredible. In October she is coming to UMass Amherst and the day before she will be participating in a talk at Mount Holyoke College which is in my town. The talk is being moderated by my friend’s husband who is a music professor at Mount Holyoke. I am really looking forward to both events.

After working 8 nights in a row I was appropriately exhausted by last night. Carlos and I read together in his bed for a little bit. He was reading his new Jedi Academy book from our trip to the Odyssey. He lives, sleeps, eats and breathes Star Wars. I am reading Harry Potter 2. Carlos and I are reading the series together and he is much further along so I’m trying to catch up.

What are you reading?

9/3/14

Carlos and I had a pretty amazing summer. We spent tons of quality time together. There were lots of get togethers with friends. We were outdoors a lot. We talked and played. We also both read the first Harry Potter book. Carlos finished before me and kept trying to spoil the ending!!

However, I have been working a ridiculously insane schedule to cover holes in the schedule and my husband’s has had to work longer hours since August. Unlike summers before I simply couldn’t do it all and something had to give. I already mentioned that training for a race was nearly impossible and even my regular level of fitness was interrupted. I did the absolute best I could with what little free time I had. I started working out at home more and introduced new things to my workout routine like push ups, kettle bell swings and squats.

The other thing I did was put away my electronics as often as possible. I didn’t want Carlos on his electronics so I tried to set a better example. I admit it…I like love my iPhone and my iPad. This summer I barely blogged, took Facebook breaks for days at a time (I don’t have a huge presence there anyway) and essentially tried not to be attached to a device. I realize that time is of the essence with Carlos. He’s 7 now and still loves hanging around with me, but I know those days don’t last forever.

I really enjoyed the summer, but inside I felt very unbalanced and by the last week of school vacation I felt like I was burning the candle at both ends. I put a lot of effort into parenting this summer, but failed to nurture my marriage or myself. Even my house suffered a bit of neglect. I don’t even want to talk about sleep, or lack thereof. I know that some things need to change before next summer rolls around. I cherish my time with Carlos, but I need to find a better balance between work and home life.

On a positive note, I did learn to let go of a few of my hangups this summer. I learned to let some housework go in exchange for a morning walk or jog with Carlos. I let my list of “things to do” grow and grow if it meant meeting friends out at the park. I learned to tackle only the priorities. I think my mantra of this summer was “it will get done -eventually.”

I saw this video for the first time yesterday and thought it was a simple way of making a very important statement.

9/2/14

I’m off to a great start today. I dropped Carlos off at school. I vacuumed my car and cleaned the inside. There is just something refreshing about a clean car. Then I ran to Trader Joe’s for a few things to complete my grocery list for the week. I planned my route accordingly so I could run on a bike trail near Trader Joe’s. It was almost 9 o’clock by the time I got there and it was already hot and humid. I’m waiting for you fall!

I hit the trail for a 4 mile run and I felt amazing. My legs were finally acting they knew what to do. My breathing felt great. I ran along at what felt like a slightly speedier pace than what I’ve been running and smiled the entire way. It was an awesome run. After that I browsed around Bed Bath and Beyond for some toiletry organizers. Boy is it easy to lose track of time in there! I found a few things, drove home and immediately threw two pots of water on the stove, one for quinoa, the other for brown rice. I just zipped off a couple of emails and now I’m writing this post.

Today is Carlos’ first full day of school. He had two half days last week to get acclimated which was helpful as he transferred to a new school for 2nd grade. Last winter it became apparent that Carlos needed a different learning environment. I had decided that if we were unable to find another school to meet his needs then I would home school. Prior to becoming a nurse I was a teacher. I was confident that I could learn the ropes of home schooling and reignite Carlos’ love of learning.

Carlos is inquisitive. He loves to explore a variety of subjects. He learns quickly and retains an astonishing amount of information. He is imaginative and creative. He reads at an advanced level. He is bright, not brilliant or a genius, but clearly intelligent. Education is very important in our home. As first grade progressed he was coming home increasingly more frustrated. He finally said what I had suspected, “I’m bored.” I think I’m to blame in part. Whenever Carlos gets interested in something we allow him to explore it in depth. For example he had fascination with Benedict Arnold last fall. We found documentary type videos, stories geared toward children and historical facts. He soaked it up and that led to more questions about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, etc. We found answers to his questions if we didn’t know the answers.

His boredom was compounded by the fact that his school had limited facilities for indoor gym and recess which only led to more aggravation during the long cold winter. The outdoor playground was a parking lot and by the year’s end kids were so restricted that they could simply walk around and talk to each other. Kids need to run and play during the day. The kids were discouraged from taking books out of the school library. Spanish class was little more than coloring and watching movies in English (yes that’s right!). Despite a small class of only 13 students the teacher told me personally that they were a difficult group to manage. Carlos began coming home with headaches because of the constant yelling his teacher was doing to discipline the class. I’ve known these kids for the last four years and I find it very hard to believe that an experienced first grade teacher would have any trouble laying down the law from day one. Her major complaint was that the kids talked too much. I’m sure Carlos did his share of talking, but he was not a behavioral problem. Carlos’ teacher abruptly retired at the end of the school year prompting thoughts that perhaps she had some personal issues going on which made it difficult for her at school.

By February I began exploring other options and after visiting a Montessori school I knew immediately that Carlos would be a perfect fit for the school. Carlos spent the day at the school back in June and loved it. He was beaming when I picked him up and wanted to go back the next day. The feedback we received about his visit was so encouraging and made it an easy decision. Carlos acknowledged that although he would miss his friends he really wanted to attend Montessori in the fall. This was a positive sign that we were making the right decision.

Last Thursday he was quiet on the way to school. He was excited, but appropriately nervous. I walked him to the play area where they spend the first 15 minutes before heading into the building and I waited until he found another boy his age. He turned and said goodbye, gave me a quick hug and off he went.

I couldn’t wait to pick him up that day. I saw the director of admissions when I got to the school and she told me that she had seen Carlos midday and he told her it was the best school day ever!! Carlos got in the car shortly after and was a bundle of excited energy. He talked nonstop on the way home about his day. This, in and of itself, was a miracle because most days over the last year he would simply grunt “fine” in reply to my question “how was your day?”

Carlos couldn’t wait to go to school on Friday. It was another great day. Carlos even said to me this weekend, “I wish there were no weekends now so I could go to school everyday!”

So what is so magical about this new school. Well these are the things Carlos loves the most:

  • When you are finished with your assignment you move on to something else.
  • If you have to go to the bathroom you are allowed to go without asking the teacher.
  • Snack is provided by the school and children are able to eat it when they are hungry rather than all together at a designated time.
  • The playground is amazing!
  • No assigned seating, no desks and the freedom to move around the classroom.
  • Mali, the school dog.

Things I love the most:

  • The huge smile on Carlos’ face when he talks about school.
  • The environment. The school is newly built and looks like a large home. It’s calm, bright, clean and inviting.
  • The school’s commitment to giving back to the community.
  • That independence is valued and children learn to problem solve.

Prior to this experience I knew very little about Montessori, but I’ve since read a bit about Dr. Maria Montessori. Her story alone is fascinating. What drew me towards a Montessori school for Carlos is that it encompasses the whole person. Montessori is much more a way of life than an educational philosophy. Dr. Montessori developed her program through observation of young children. Though the children operate with a certain sense of independence it is within an environment specially designed for them and prepared to meet them where they are at individually.

Some think of Montessori and think disorder, but actually it is quite the opposite. Children learn that everything has a place and they are taught to respect and care for their environment. In my brief time at the school I witnessed a rhythmic flow of activity where the children seemed to know what they needed to do without being told. There was peace, quiet and calm. Carlos’ teacher, known as a guide, is genuinely kind, caring and clearly enjoys what she is doing. She is soft spoken yet in a very understated manner she is in control of her classroom. There is a mutual respect throughout the school.

A Montessori school may not serve well for every child though I am inclined to believe that some of the principles might just be worth giving a try in mainstream classrooms.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori

9/1/14

New month. Carlos is officially back to school. Time to get back on track. No back pedaling. No looking in the rear views mirror of life. No regrets. What’s done is done. I’m future focused and excited for the month ahead.

Three things I’m thankful for:

  • My good health
  • A healed Achilles
  • My son’s renewed enthusiasm for school

Thought of the day:

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli (click on Steve’s name to read a fitting post if you are determined to move forward starting now)

What’s making me happy today:

An early run after work at my happy place.

Looking forward to spending this Labor Day with my husband and son.

Getting organized for the week ahead

Carlos and I bagged snacks and filled containers with applesauce and yogurt for school lunch.

I wrote out a weekly meal plan for dinners and a grocery list.

I have a workout plan for the week that includes some running, strength and yoga.

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With that said I think it’s time to mention running again. Without going backwards I will just say that my Achilles took almost 3 months to heal. When I finally started running again in mid-July my runs were slow and short. My busy summer schedule made it challenging to find time to run long enough to train for the Vermont 50 Ultramarathon I had signed up to run at the end of September. Still I clung to the hope that somehow I might be able to muddle through. Deep down I knew the timing was wrong. The Vermont City marathon at the end of May was intended to be the halfway point of my ultra marathon training.  Then from there I was to build up my mileage, endurance and tweak my nutrition for the course.  As August began to fly by with little increase in my mileage I finally accepted that running an ultra marathon post injury with incomplete training was not only dangerous, but also very unwise. I would never advise a fellow runner to go through with it so why did I think I should attempt it? Pride. Fear of feeling like a failure. Frustration.

The exact moment I made the decision to drop out of the Vermont 50, I felt an enormous sense of relief. The next day I went for a run. No headphones, no Garmin, no Map My Run, no watch. It was freeing. I ran slowly and comfortably. I focused on keeping my breathing even and unlabored. I ran only as long as I wanted to and stopped when I didn’t feel like running anymore with no concern about pace, time or mileage.

I’ve been going along like this for a couple of weeks and it’s just what I need to get myself back into running. It is the first time since I began running that I have run simply because I love to run and not because I’m training for something. However, I miss training. I miss the schedule, preparing for a race off in the distance and having a goal, but I’m not quite ready to set my sights on anything to daunting.

My next running goal is actually not about me at all. It’s about my friend Kate. On October 19, 2014 I will be running the Baystate Half Marathon alongside Kate as she completes her first half marathon. I am going to train with her over the next 6 weeks. On top of running we have also been meeting once a week for a boot camp style workout where we do a variety of strength training and core strengthening exercises.

Kate has an awesome story to tell and I’m hoping she’ll let me share it here. I’m super excited for her. I think this is going to be an unforgettable experience for us both. The truth is, I am starting all over again only this time with the knowledge I’ve gained from all the miles I’ve run over the last 5 years. There’s no looking back…

 

The road ahead

My eyes are on the road ahead

 

 

Another Year

Today would have been my grandmother’s 88th birthday. It is my 41st. Birthdays are bittersweet for me now. This is my second year celebrating without her. I love sharing my birthday with Noni. I wish I could say I was more like Noni, but I’m not. I share her strong work ethic, but I believe that is where the similarity ended. Noni was the kindest person I knew. She was genuinely nice to everyone she met even those who weren’t so nice to her. Noni was happy all the time and I truly mean all the time.

As a teen I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work at the hospital where she worked. She worked in the colonoscopy department and was responsible for cleaning the equipment. This is not a job most would envy, but Noni did it with great pride. I began my job as a volunteer, but I’m not sure I ever did more than accompany my grandmother around the hospital. She knew everyone and everyone loved her. As we walked down the corridors all you would hear were voices saying, “Hi Mary! Hey Mary! Mary I’ll meet you for lunch. Mary!!”

Noni never had a bad word for anyone and she was a master of forgiveness. She was devoted to the Catholic church, her family and her work. She worked until about a year and a half before she passed away at the age of 86. She was a lunch room and recess monitor at a nearby elementary school. All the children called her Grandma. After she died my mom and my aunt set up a fund to be donated to the school. This spring the school dedicated a colorfully painted outdoor shed to Noni, calling it Grandma’s shed where they store outdoor play equipment.

She left her mark wherever she went. She was graceful and quiet about it though. Her path of kindness was genuine and unforced. She had the patience and tolerance of a saint. She truly loved her life despite some of the bumpy roads she endured. I have always felt as though I was one of those bumpy paths in her life. I wasn’t an easy person to be around for many years. I don’t have her kindhearted spirit. My years of angst and frustration made me quite the opposite. I was very impatient often times with Noni. My sharp tongue still gets me into trouble from time to time, but not nearly as bad as it was in my younger years.

Despite my imperfections Noni loved me. She was honest with me and didn’t really let me get away with my bad attitude. I adored her and wished more than anything I had inherited her personality along with her birthday. How could two people from the same genes, born on the same day be so different?

This birthday is quiet. The age doesn’t bother me. I’m just in a reflective place right now. I need to decompress after the busy summer. This summer was a whirlwind of activity and as much as we played I also worked that much too. I’ve done overtime every week except the two weeks I was away. My husband is also working like crazy. For him it’s feast or famine so he has to take the hours when he can because the winter layoffs have been consistent and long lately. This nonstop schedule left little time for anything else including running, yoga and meditation. I did what I could when I could fit it in, but I also reached a point where I just said ENOUGH, I’m one person doing the job of many. I decided to just focus on Carlos, keeping up the house and my basic needs. 

It is fitting that Carlos started second grade today. He is growing up so fast. I will never regret the choices I made this summer even if I lost track of me for a little while. I kept as close of a grip as I could, but I slipped backwards a bit and have some pieces to pick up now…and I will pick up the pieces. This morning I dropped Carlos off at his new school, more on that in another post. I went for a 40 minute run and then straight to Vinyasa yoga which I’ve missed so much. I’m pretty sure I was out like a light and snoring during savasana! I feel like I’m starting all over again with fitness, but I’m excited to get back into the groove. For my birthday today I am taking the hours while Carlos is in school to focus solely on me. I’m taking lots of deep breaths and silently giving thanks for all the wonderful people in my life, for my health and for the health of those I love most. 

I am thinking a lot about Noni today. I hope she knows how hard I continue to work to become a better person, to become more like her. I couldn’t have asked to be born on a better day. This will always be OUR birthday. Happy Birthday Noni!

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Bernard M. Baruch

Rewind

I watched this compelling public service announcement entitled Rewind the Future issued by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in 2013 which essentially speaks to the fact that obesity is not a condition that arises overnight.

There was quite a debate in the comments as to whether the video depicted fat shaming or served to educate the public. This morning I read Mike’s thought provoking post “One More Pet Peeve – Fat Shaming and Thin Privilege.” The comments below the post were equally compelling and brought up many of my own conflicted feelings on the subject.

I’ve been overweight for the better part of the last 30 years. From the early age of 10, I remember overhearing my grandfather saying on what a pretty face I had, if only… You can fill in the blank. In school I was ashamed of how I looked. I felt different and awkward around my peers because of my larger size. In retrospect I was not as large as I felt. I’m still not, but it’s amazing how powerful those words in our head can be. I know what it’s like to be fat shamed by others and myself. It’s never ok to shame, bully or tease someone.

As a healthcare professional I do think patients need to be receptive to hearing the truth without assuming they are being shamed by their doctor. People also need to stop seeking the quick fix when it comes to medical conditions that can be reversed by behavioral changes. Often medications and/or surgical interventions are necessary, but they don’t eliminate the need for subsequent lifestyle alterations.  The truth is losing weight is hard work. It is tedious to have to journal your food  intake and weigh your food. It stinks say no to foods you love and feel a little hungry once in a while. Weight loss tries the patience because it can take a long time. Some days you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. On the flip side losing weight feels amazing and can inspire others around you to do the same.

Oddly enough I just started reading a continuing education module for my nursing license called The Obesity Epidemic and the Nurse’s Role. In the introduction it mentions, “worldwide, the number of overweight individuals is equal to the number who are suffering from starvation.” (Buchwald, 2007) The World Health Organization has deemed obesity a global epidemic and reports that by 2015 there will be 2.3 billion overweight people and 700 million obese people worldwide.

This is concerning on many levels. Obesity is associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Obesity is expensive to treat. Obesity can impair treatment and rehabilitation of other medical issues.

As a nurse my job is to educate and support patients. I am kind, caring and compassionate. It is not my place to judge and I don’t. I’ve been there. I’m still there to some degree.

As an individual there came a time when I had to take a long hard look at my weight problem and admit to myself how I got to that point. Then I had to face the facts and the hard truth about how I was going to lose that weight. I’m still working on it. I do wish sometimes I could rewind and stop the clock at the very moment food became more than sustenance for me.

What do you think about the video? Any thoughts on this topic?

 

Australian adventure: Day 1

We finally landed in Sydney on Sunday, July 20th. As we neared the airport we were treated to a view of the famous sights of Sydney’s harbor, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We got to our hotel, the Westin Sydney, in the early afternoon.

View from our hotel room in Sydney

View from our hotel room in Sydney

We were traveling with my sister who was there on business so we dropped our bags and left her to catch up on email and other important business.  It was an overcast cool day, but a great day for walking. So without a plan we just headed in the direction of the harbor. The hotel was very centrally located and only a 10 minute walk to the harbor.

My first impression of Sydney was that it was your typical big city. It was clean and I loved the look of some of the buildings. I found out later that many of the buildings are made from sand stone which was found in abundance in this area.

 

Once down at the harbor I stood for minutes just taking in the view. There were tears in my eyes as I realized that this was a 30 year old dream come true. The bridge and Opera House are more spectacular in person than I imagined. Although we would see the harbor multiple times daily during our stay the feeling I got looking at it never grew old.

Cloudy skies over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

Cloudy skies over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

 

Walking towards the Opera House

Walking towards the Opera House

Even on a cool grey overcast day the harbor was a beautiful sight to see.

The Sydney Harbor BridgeThe Sydney Harbor Bridge

The Sydney Harbor BridgeThe Sydney Harbor Bridge

We walked around for a while, watched some Aborginal street performers playing the didgeridoo, checked out the colorful boomerangs, grabbed a handful of pamphlets advertising the many tourist attractions, took tons of similar photos, booked a tour of the Opera House and stopped for a quick lunch.

 

Boomerangs

Boomerangs

Didgeridoo

Didgeridoo

After lunch we went to the Opera House for an hour long tour. The tour was $37 for adults and $20 for children. If you are traveling to Sydney it’s good to know that many attractions can be booked online and will offer a 10% discount. I had my phone with me, but could only use it on WiFi so we were unable to access the discount.

The Sydney Opera House was built from 1957 to 1973. This architectural masterpiece was the brainchild of Jorn Utzon from Denmark though he resigned from the project in 1966 and was replaced by Peter Hall. The distinctive roof of the Opera House is said to resemble the sails of a sail boat. Life certainly does revolve around the water there so it is fitting that the architecture would somehow be tied to the sea. The Opera House has various spaces including the Concert Hall, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse, the Studio, the Utzon Room and the Recording Studio.

My photos don’t do the building justice. You are not able to take photos in the concert halls. We saw the hall where Don Giovanni would be playing later that night. We also saw another hall that was set up and just getting ready for rehearsal.

After our tour of the Opera House we made our way back to the hotel, did some exploring around the hotel, went for a swim in the cold “heated” hotel pool and then decided to pass on dinner because we were both exhausted. Not bad for our first day down under!!

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