Sunday, March 20, 2011

Run Like A Mother#%^$@!

I used to be apprehensive about the softness of motherhood. Not just the fleshy jiggle that comes with sacrificing your workouts and your hard earned miniskirt to birth a human but also the loft that begins to define your social life and the unabashed need to be emotionally available when raising a child. In fact, I thought I would hate myself for the compromise (that and the elastic waistbands) I associated with the gig because I feared it would make me loose my edge. In truth, I was happy to part ways with some of the edge, and some of it is slowly coming back or getting reinvented from a new perspective. I'm finding there are still nights to be had though the outings are fewer and farther apart. Sometimes we trade nights so we each get an escape and sometimes our beer money goes to the babysitter. 

Now as I try to work back into a body I fondly miss, I find the challenge more mental than it ever was before. A good friend told me she realized the other day that she felt she was working out like a mother rather than working out like an athlete (I imagined some 80’s hair-banded woman in a leotard lightly sweating to an aerobics video and cooling herself off with a white towel and some iced tea. P.S. My friend is not that woman. She is an ass kicker. She slings her two bitties on both hips and gracefully takes them on outings all while looking pretty slamming in a cute pair of skinny jeans). In any case, it got me to thinking about the excuses I've been using. Not that it’s all about loosing weight but rather it’s all about owning where you are at. I know these months at home with M are beautiful but they are also challenging as I search for work and get reacquainted with with the clothes I packed away nine months ago. It's definitely a work in progress and I'm committed to getting back on track with my goals. 

I finally went on my long run today. It had something to do with parallel events that happened yesterday: getting the Cuban from Masterpiece Deli and packing my maternity jeans away. It felt good: the sandy and the tight cinch of a button on a pair of jeans I used to wear in a previous life. Both experiences inspired me to push for the long run against the blatantly obvious lack of time this morning, my hubby's conflicting schedule, and my aching body. Once I got going, it felt like home: the weather was an old friend back from snowbirding in Arizona; the songs on my "Run Your Arse Off" playlist, silent for 8 months, were there when I needed the beat; and even the sick, sadistic backache (that almost stopped me in the third mile) assured me I was doing something right. I finally felt like I was completing a real run and I was physically on board with the mental commitment to loose the baby weight. Those endorphins kicked in and it got me to thinking about running like a mother: one bad ass mother that only has one hour of free time to escape her home, her family, and get it done; a woman that doesn’t have time to give in to the desire to rest because there's way too much to do and if it’s not a good run now, who knows when it will be a good run again. I am that mother and this is my new edge.

I embrace the softness that came along with my daughter. She has helped me rediscover happiness and inspiration and made me feel more alive emotionally. I too am inspired to get back in shape to serve as a good role model for her because working out helps me feel balanced and more confident. I will get back to 7-mile hikes and a black and white mini that was short lived but oh so good. It is the woman I want to be for myself, my husband, and my daughter. That woman is strong and confident and sexy. Whatever that means for each and every mom out there, I hope you find an hour to push yourself towards yourself as often as you can.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Half Full

You ever heard that term Debbie Downer? Lately I feel like I’ve been hearing it quite a bit from people saying it to me because they are venting about their life or just having an honest moment where not everything is perfect or upbeat. The phrase actually makes me smile now because when my sisters were in Florida, NR made reference to a woman who was a real Debbie Downer. She repeated the term and even slowed it down a bit for emphasis because she lacked a better way of describing the woman’s temperament. Apparently she was on the end of a silent stare from my other sister, Debbie. DS had never heard the phrase before (doesn’t that seem impossible?! Was everyone who ever used the phrase couth enough to not use it around her until that day in Florida?). I heard the story later on the phone after I apologized to NR for being a Debbie Downer when she called. She immediately laughed and told me what happened. We both laughed so hard about it. Now it's an uplifting term for me, especially when I'm feeling a little like a Debbie Downer.

It's amazing what perspective can do to a word; to a person's vocabulary. It got me to thinking about how sometimes I define myself with terms I don't fully digest. Or how sometimes others try to define me with words that don't seem to fit me but rather fit them because they need to compartmentalize me in their world.

My sister sent me a online quiz two months back. It was to help determine if I was an optimist or a pessimist. She had taken the quiz and it declared she was a pessimist, which surprised us both. She seems so optimistic (to the point that I caught her unconsciously wearing a t-shirt one morning with a glass of water on it and underneath it it read, Half Full). The quiz, which I don't think does the best job deciphering personalities, attributes one's tendency towards an explanatory style, which seems to me to focus too much on semantics. I got a 46% on the quiz but not to worry, apparently I can change (however, I don't think I'll ever be able to stop taking tedious magazine-style quizzes).

In actuality I'm intrinsically hopeful. The discrepancy really has more to do with my tendency towards fear in life. I've been working on moving away from that perception. It's not a new revelation; two years ago I started trying to clean up my act. Lately I feel like my emotional compass is more aligned. Nothing external defines me right now. I can’t get shaken as easily and if I am feeling like a Debbie Downer, I'm okay with that (because it is a moment that will shift into something different soon enough). If someone else is feeling a certain way, I’m fine with them being in that space too (unless they choose to use it as a space to be mean to me). In fact, I’m more empathetic than I have ever been in my life thus far. I feel as if I am coming out of a darkness. It has made me focus on living in the moment. I try to figure out how I can enjoy whatever it is I'm participating in or if I can't enjoy it, how I can be constructive about growing from it. The goal right now is to be less fearful, more accessible. And, by not focusing on defining myself, define myself.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Wall


ecently, I've been hanging more art around the house; and by "recently" I mean over the course of a better part of last year. Sometimes when it comes to art, it's almost  intimidating to hang anything. Ideally, I like to meticulously picked out items and when possible, have relevant conversational pieces. I'm not trying to fill the place with Rothko but I do like it to be unique.

Our walls were pretty blank for quite some time. I like to attribute it to the fact that since it took so long to refinish things around here we wanted to enjoy the "art" of our handy work. But who am I kidding, I was just slacking off. As with most things in this life, I had to let go of my expectations and just get crackin'.

Decorating Miss M's room brought to light feelings I hope she will create about her house, specifically her bedroom. It was so important for me to get an alphabet together from various picture books and yet when I finally gave up that pipe dream (b/c man it's harder then it sounds and who has the time?!), I found a super-cute alphabet which makes me happy in whole different way. I know it's working it's magic on M because I see her looking up at it every time I change her diaper.

I think about how these early images will shape her perception of art and the world in general. The same is true with a mobile and a watercolor print we bought in Taos. The other things hanging in her room include a sign of her name which my aunt sent along after she was born, a sign I found years ago but didn't purchase because I didn't want to buy stuff for my "unborn, not-even-really-trying, possible future child" (I was so excited to have the store order it for me this past December), an encaustic painting that JH gave me, a piece of artwork from my childhood home that someone gave my mom for Christmas right before she had me (and I've had in storage since she sold the house), and an iron candle holder (the only remnants of the space pre-M: our old guest room) that now holds the small bird's nest, bird, and egg from the lovely cake at my shower. I find each item to be interesting and fun to look at, and I'm still not done; I think it will be a constantly evolving space as we both grow.

What makes me mention this is that my sister, NR, posted a photo of a piece of art asking if any of us (sisters) remember where it was located in our childhood house. It was actually a pretty interesting activity. I lived in that house for 18 years and knew what was in every nook and cranny. You know how it is: as a child you explore your home like you're going to find buried treasure. I would stare at some art pieces for quite a while, other things I never really payed any attention to until I was older, and then some items never warranted a second look. I remember the little porcelain angels, each holding different items like a harp or a flute to make them unique, that my mom had arranged in her living room on a shelf around the Virgin Mary (how's that for symbolism?!) - the collection of six slowly dwindled, fallen to the curiosity of little girls wanting to play with the pretty sculptures (perhaps we were not such angels: it's  ironic because we were never allowed to go in that room without company around). I could imagine the copper molds above our cabinets in the kitchen, the shelves of Hummels over our fireplace, my dad's framed degrees in our den, and the old photos in the hallway to our parent's bedroom. However I couldn't place the artwork NR posted. I did recognize it but the challenge had me traveling through every room in my head. I was picturing things I had long since forgotten. Was it in the scary basement bathroom that I never wanted to spend to much time in because it was cold and had spiders?! It was killing me that I couldn't remember where this art was located but neither could my other sisters.

My mom finally relayed that it was my Grandmother's. Upon hearing that teaser, my oldest sister, DS, remembered the "small picture in a gold gilded frame in the 'bar' at Grandma's house." So even the subtle artwork at our grandparents house, a place we visited (at most) once every other year, was collected in our mental art galleries as well.

How profound that idea is: what we choose to decorate our house with can subtly stick in other's heads for years to come. In any case, you can imagine how happy I was to catch M looking at the artwork we recently bought. Someday, I hope she hangs it in her house and fondly remembers it hanging in ours.