I’m Running a Half Marathon

As children, we all run.  We love it.  It’s hard to get kids to stop running around, especially when you want them to go to bed.  Then, at some point, we decide that it isn’t fun.  It’s a chore.  It hurts.  We would rather sit around than get up and move.

I never considered myself a ‘runner’, but I always enjoyed the way I felt after I went for a run.  As a seventh & eighth grader, I ran track.  I am not fast (at all) so I ran the 800 meter and 1600 meter races (half mile and mile).  I was decent.  I don’t remember ever winning a race, but I think I was a middle of the pack finisher.  Once I got to high school, I decided track wasn’t for me.  Track was a spring sport, and I tried out fast pitch softball my freshman year, which turned out to be a total failure.  For the next three years of high school, I decided to take the Spring off, after having tennis in the Fall, and basketball in the Winter.

I played tennis in college, and any running we did for training was definitely the worst part.  It was mostly short distances around the courts and sprints.  It was painful.  I preferred playing a three hour tennis match to those sprints.

Something happened toward the end of college.  There were times when I would go for a jog in a nearby park.  It didn’t happen often at all, but when it did, it felt pretty great.  I would go a couple miles, I think, but I wasn’t really keeping track.  These sporadic runs kept happening after I graduated.  I would run in the back field with my basset hound when I was living with my parents, and I would run around the neighborhoods when I moved to South Carolina.  I ran when I moved back to Cleveland.  I ran after having my children.  Running had stuck with me.  I didn’t pay much attention to it, but it was always there, lingering in the background.  I loved the way I felt after a run.  I was skinnier (I thought).  My muscles were stronger and more defined.  I had done something good for myself and I felt better.

About six months after having my second (and last!) child, I got back into running.  And by getting back into it, I mean that I would run once every two weeks.  One weekend for yoga, the next for running, then repeat.  This was not serious at all, but I would run two or three miles when I went out.

Then one of my friends started a local chapter for a running group called Moms RUN this town.  I thought, sure, I’ll join.  It was free and a lot of my friends were joining.  It started as a facebook group, and people would post about their runs.  Then one day, something funny happened.  I had just read that a couple of my friends had been on a great run.  It actually made me feel a little depressed, because they were feeling great, and here I was sitting on the couch, not feeling great.  Then I realized it was a weekend, my husband was home, and I had just put the baby down for a nap.  I could actually go out and take a run, too!  I don’t know why this was such a revelation, but after you have a baby, your time is so overwhelmed with taking care of them, you start to forget you can do things for yourself.  This wasn’t a ‘running’ weekend, so I needed this little bump from my friends to get out there and do it.  And it felt great.

I found out soon after that a few of my friends were going to run a half marathon.  A half marathon!  Wow!  I had only ever run one 5k, and that kind of accomplishment was never on my radar.  But, many of my friends hadn’t ever run farther than a 5k either, and some were just starting out.   Surely, I could do it too.  I had a solid base of being able to run a couple miles without passing out.

Positive peer pressure.  It pushed me to make the decision.

I decided to run the Towpath Half Marathon in October.  It will not be easy, and I have a lot more training to do before I’m ready, but I’m on my way.  I’m up to seven miles.  And the best part is that I have so many ladies cheering me on and supporting me along the way.  Running is not always enjoyable, but after I get through that first mile or two, I get into a groove.  I am running at least three times and week, and I WANT to go out and run.  I get up early to run.  I wait until the baby is in bed so I can run.  I look forward to doing something good for myself (and being by myself!).  I am feeling strong.  I am looking better.  And in October, I’m going to cross that finish line with a sense of accomplishment, and a smile on my face.

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Practical Party Planning

I had been thinking about my daughters’ first birthday party for a while, but only in an abstract way.  I knew I wanted to have it at our house, with all of our immediate family.  I didn’t think much about the details, which is a problem quirk of mine.  As I browsed Pinterest, I would see all of the amazing party ideas out there, knowing that I would not make any of them.  I felt a pang of guilt that my kids will never have a crafty birthday party with unique food items, clever little signs, sayings and props, with hand crafted invitations.  I could probably find time for it if I really wanted to, but I’m not creative or good at crafts, and it would add a lot of stress to my life.

I set up an event on Facebook about three weeks before the party, so my family would have something in writing.  I sent the paper invitation a week in advance.  I decided on a theme about three or four days before the party.  It was going to be kind of a superhero/super baby party.  I considered it ‘loosely themed’, because there were only three details of the party that had anything to do with superheroes – the cake, and the capes & bracelets I bought for the kids attending.  I considered this a win.

In the end, the party was great, and not stressful at all.  I was able to spend time talking to everyone.  Mallory loved her cupcake(s), and I loved opening all her girly gifts.

Here’s how I planned her party:

1. Make sure the people you really want to attend, can actually attend.  I asked my family to weigh in on dates.  I knew that some of my family was going on vacation the weekend of her actual birthday, so I got feedback on the weeks before and after.  While I admit this can be a little bit of a pain to try and work around everyone else’s schedules, it paid off, because I was able to have my whole family attend.

2. Order Pizza.  Make some side dishes.  If family offers to bring something, graciously accept.  I have become a pretty decent cook, but that doesn’t mean I have time or can deal with the stress of cooking for a large number of people.  We have a pizza place nearby that offers a deal if you order four or more pizzas, so the cost ends up being very reasonable.  Gluten free and vegan needs can be taken care of by purchasing an Amy’s frozen pizza at the grocery store.  I bought chips, and made hummus and cajun black bean dip.  My sister and I picked blueberries the day before.  A couple people brought side dishes, and we had plenty of food.

3. Order the cake.  I have very little artistic ability, so I could make a cake, but what about the decorating?  For my son’s first birthday, I made brownies, but then I was scrambling at the last minute because I didn’t know how to make them look pretty.  I had my mom write on them with that colored cake writing stuff.  These days, it’s easy to have a cake made by someone else.  Practically every grocery store makes birthday cakes.  I am lucky enough to have a neighbor who makes amazing cakes, so I didn’t even have to pick it up.  She brought it over to my house before the party.  It looked amazing, tasted amazing and caused me no stress.  And on top of that, she brought me a cake plate and stand, so I could present it nicely.  Perfect.   On a side note, if you live near Hudson and want to check out Emma’s cakes, you can do so here.  She uses fondant to decorate,which gives it a really fancy look.

A Super Mallory Cake with coordinating cupcakes!

A Super Mallory Cake with coordinating cupcakes!

4. Don’t buy any food or drinks for the party that you and your family won’t eat after.  I have a 2 liter bottle of soda in my pantry that is probably a year old.  No one in our family likes it, so it just sits there.  Same situation with food that just isn’t worth wasting calories on.  Parties can be a fun time to try out new snacks, but I don’t like to have leftovers that are going to go to waste.  Everything I bought for the party were things we already eat or drink, if not all the time, at least occasionally.

5. Keep decorations to a minimum.  I know some people are going to disagree with this one, but I don’t like spending money on things that are only going to be used for a couple hours on one day.  If you are a crafty person and enjoy the decorating, then I get it.  That stuff is cute.  But I am using store bought decorations, so I just limit it to a few table decorations and a hanging banner that says Happy Birthday.  I didn’t even buy plates and cups that said Happy Birthday.  I just bought the plain ones so they could transfer seamlessly to other events.

6. Send a 4×6 photo as a Thank You Card (in an envelope, of course).  What do people do with thank you cards?  Probably keep them for a little while and then throw them in the trash.  It’s unfortunate, but true.  I plan on sending out Mallory’s 1 year photos with a little note on the back.  Most people want a photo of her anyway, so this is a great way to kill two birds with one stone.  And, if they throw away a picture of my daughter, well they will just have to live with that guilt.

Mallory enjoying her cake while I opened her gifts.

Mallory enjoying her cake while I opened her gifts.

I think that having parties should be fun.  Some people may enjoy making all the food or all the decorations, but that’s just not for me.  I don’t want to dread my kids’ parties.  In the future, if they want themes and decorations, they will get them.  If they want to make crafts or some of the food, I will help them.  But, right now I’m trying to keep it simple, and practical.

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Panic

It’s back.  Creeping over me while I’m asleep.  I wake up in a wave of fear.  My heart is beating fast, my arms have a numb, tingly feeling, and my palms are sweating.  I concentrate on my breathing.  If I can just breathe deeply, then I can control it and not have a full blown panic attack.  I get out of bed and walk around.  I go downstairs and try to think about normal things, not about the fear that wants to overtake me.  I go back upstairs, have a drink of water and lay back down.  I can calm myself, but if my thoughts go back to thinking about the panic, it will start all over again.  I eventually fall back asleep.  Later, I wake again to the same sensation.  Waves of hot and cold.  This time, I feel some slight tightness in my chest.  I think, ‘I’m having a heart attack’.  I think, ‘I can’t die, I have two babies to take care of.’   I know that I’m having a panic attack and that I’m not going to die, but at the time, it’s hard to convince myself.  I finally fell asleep last night at 3am.

I have been having panic attacks on and off for eight years.  They started one sunny afternoon as I was driving on a highway.  I had blood drawn shortly before, so I thought it was low blood sugar.  I got off at an exit and bought a candy bar and a soda.  It didn’t help.  I struggled to drive the rest of the way home.  The panic eventually spilled over into everyday life, and while I fought it as long as I could, I had to start taking Lexapro.  I weaned off it when I wanted to get pregnant with Logan, and I was fine throughout my pregnancy.  I didn’t start having feelings of panic again until Logan was about 18 months old.  I started having the waves of panic and some numbness when I would drive on the highway.  It was mild, and I could fight through it.  But soon, I didn’t want to drive on the highway at all.  It was just too much.  I would completely depend on my husband or a friend to drive if I had to go long distances.  It had been isolated to driving.  Until last night.

I can’t figure out exactly what is triggering my panic attacks.  I had them before and after I was married.  Before and after I had kids.  Before and after I became vegan.  I can only guess that I have them on the highway because of everything moving so fast around me, and that I have them at night because of stress.  I know I don’t deal with stress very well.  I usually carry it around with me, tucking it down deep inside so that I’m not consciously thinking about it.  Maybe my body is trying to deal with it when my defenses are down, when I sleep.

It looks like I will have to try another anti-anxiety pill.  If it were just happening when I drive, I could work around it, but since it’s slipping into other parts of my life, I have to control it.  If anyone has another option, I’m open to hearing about it.  I am still nursing my ten month old, so I am not happy that I will have to take a pill that could affect her, but I also can’t feel anxious and be worried that I’m going to have a panic attack when I’m taking care of my kids.

So many women I know are on anti-anxiety/depression pills.  These are all women with great lives, and from the outside, you would not think they have any reason to be anxious or depressed.  Maybe we’re all just taking on too much, or maybe the world is moving too fast.  Whatever it is, I wish we could all just ‘relax’ and be happy without Big Pharm.

If you are one of those ladies out there (or men), and you have a pill you like, please leave a comment or message me.  I’m not going back on Lexapro due to the ‘electric shock’ feelings, the weight gain, and the general feeling of ‘I don’t give a shit about anything’.  Let me know what’s worked for you.

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More

I will never forget a particular conversation I had many years ago at a party.  I was living in South Carolina, and the party was on Sullivan’s Island, in a house right on the beach.  I remember thinking how amazing it was to be at a party in such a beautiful beach house, and how I would love to live in a place like it some day.  At the time, I was in my young 20’s, had an entry level job in accounting, and rented a townhouse with my boyfriend.  We had a great life for being so young, but I felt that the guy who owned this beach house had really made it in life.

At some point in the evening, I had a conversation with the owner of the house.  We talked about blah, blah, blah, and then he made a comment I would never forget.  He pointed to another beach house that we could see from his porch, and said THAT was the house he really wanted.  He said when he would get together with his neighbors, they would all talk about that house and how amazing it was.  From my outside point of view, the other house didn’t look any more amazing than his home.

I must have been pretty shocked at that moment by what he said to still remember it.  And this is why: if you already have a house on the beach, can’t you just be happy with that house?  Why would you covet a different beach house?

We are always looking to get more out of life.  But, when do we get to the point where we are content with what we have?

Right now, I live in a great house, but my husband and I talk about living in a house on a lake, or living in Spain, or how it would be nice to live in California.  We have nice cars, but my husband talks about driving something more sporty.  And wouldn’t it be nice if we had a boat?

I think in some ways, having more does make us happy.  It makes me feel good that I live in a nice neighborhood, and that I have more room in my van than I did in my car.  I’m sure if I lived in a house on the beach, I would be pretty ecstatic that I could walk out my door and go swimming in the ocean.  But, when I think about my general level of happiness, I think it has remained pretty much the same throughout my life.  I don’t remember being unhappy when I lived in an apartment, or when I drove my VW Jetta that had rust on it.  When you reach a certain level of stability with your finances so that you can have baseline comfort, I think the general happiness you feel remains pretty much the same.

What I learned from that conversation many years ago, is that no matter how much you have, you always want something more, or something different.  The grass is always greener.  It made me realize that when I start wanting more, I should look around at what I already have, and live in the present instead of thinking my life will be better if it were different.  I struggle with comparing what I have to others, but if I just ask myself if I really want or need what someone else has, I almost always realize I don’t.   There is always going to be someone with a bigger house, fancier car, or better luxury items.  I want to walk that perfect line of daydreaming about what I could have, but also being perfectly content with what I do have.

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Peanut Butter

Today I’m writing about the most amazing peanut butter available, Smucker’s Organic Natural Peanut Butter.  I’ve been buying this brand for years now, and compared to the traditional brands, it is devastatingly delicious.

I am a huge fan of peanut butter, and I eat (at least) a little bit every day.  My son eats massive quantities of peanut butter, so it’s important that I buy him a good quality product.

The ingredients: peanuts and salt.  The peanut butter you buy really shouldn’t have sugar, palm oil, or other ingredients you can’t pronounce in it.

I don’t always buy the organic product.  If Marc’s (our discount grocery store) has organic, I will buy it, but if they don’t, I get the regular version.  A lot of peanuts are pesticide contaminated, so organic is a good choice, but it is also very expensive.  The non-organic version is about $3, and the organic about $4.29 at Marc’s.  But I have seen the organic version for around $6 at other grocery stores.  In either case, it’s better to buy a peanut butter without all the other unnecessary ingredients, whether you can afford organic or not.

What is that stuff at the top?  It’s oil from the peanuts.  Yes, you have to stir it.  And yes, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.  But, it’s so worth it.  It’s so tasty!

Smucker's Organic Peanut Butter.  Pure Delish.

Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter. Pure Delish.

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Not Everyone Likes You

Actually, not everyone likes ME.  Maybe you are a really awesome person and everyone does like you.  If so, good for you!

(Before you read the rest of this post, I just want to make it clear that this is not a cry for help or attention, and I’m not depressed or sad.  I have many dear friends and family members who I love very much.)

This isn’t a revelation.  I am aware that there have always been people who don’t like me.  But it was easier to ignore and/or deny before social media.  I was prompted to write this because of a recent ‘unfriending’ on Facebook.  I realized I had not seen any posts from this person recently and when I searched by name, the person was nowhere to be found.  I am surprisingly not feeling hurt or angry about it.  I am at a level of acceptance where I realize it’s OK that not everyone likes me.  But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little sting from it, and I have been thinking about it on and off today.  I mean, what did I do or say that would make someone want to delete me from their online life?  (Let me just mention that this is a person I know & see in real life.)

The effect it had was to lead me to think about personal relationships on a deeper level.  As we grow up and become more self conscious about everyone and everything going on around us, it’s natural to want to be liked.  The more friends we have, the better we feel, and the more accepted and normal we think we are.  Most of us join a clique to feel included as part of a like minded group.  When we meet new people, we look for similarities that will bring us closer together.  We put our best foot forward, so that people will like us.

Within my group of friends, I act like ‘me’.  But sometimes, when I’m around other people, specifically people I have just met, I often find myself acting like someone else.  I am a little shy and I don’t open up easily at first.  I try to make a snap judgement as to what kind of person they are, and adjust my personality to be what they might expect me to be.  I suppose we all do this at times, and it just depends on the situation.  I have noticed that the older I get, the less I am doing this, which is a great relief.  I am more confident with who I am and try to be ‘me’ in any situation.  It’s not right to pretend you’re someone you aren’t so that another person will like you.  I mean, do you think my drunk neighbor who plays her music too loud while she sits in her hot tub on Tuesday nights cares what other people think of her?  I doubt it.  I want to be more like her.  I bet she’s having an awesome time.  She is unapologetically her.  I want to be unapologetically me.

So, back to being unfriended on Facebook.  It’s happened before and it will happen again.  I can sit around wondering why this person isn’t interested in me, or I can just move on and realize that we weren’t meant to be friends in the first place.  Maybe they don’t like my political positions.  Maybe they don’t like pictures of my kids.  Or my kids stories.  Maybe they are jealous that I look like a glamorous supermodel.  Who knows?

Before Facebook, it was easy to pretend that everyone liked me.  No one was denying my friend requests or unfriending me.  I didn’t know that I was excluded from a party or event because I didn’t see a photo of it in my news feed the next day.  These things can be very hurtful, but it also makes life more transparent, and I believe that is a good thing.  It helps me examine the person that I am and reconfirms or changes my beliefs.  I am trying to be my authentic self and if others don’t like that, then it is OK for them to not like me.  I don’t want to have to put myself through a filter or worry about what others think of me.

And now, I would like to end with an inspirational quote:                                                           It is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not.                         -Some dude on the internet

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Coconut Bacon

Mmmmmm, bacon.

There is a new product out by Phoney Baloney, and it is delicious.  Coconut Bacon is everything you love about those crispy little parts of bacon that are greasy & salty.  I have eaten them in a few different ways:

1. Straight from the bag.  When I feel like a salty snack, I sit down to a few handfuls.  They are SUPER salty, so you really can’t eat a lot.

2. On pasta with olive oil and/or Earth Balance Buttery Spread.  This reminds me of a pasta dish I had in Rome many years ago called Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  I continuted to eat this dish every day until I ran out of cooked pasta.  Very Dangerous.

3. On top of my salad, like bacon bits, but much tastier.

The back of the bag suggests to use it in sandwiches such as a BLT or an Elvis (which is peanut butter, bananas, and bacon).  The pieces are kind of small to do this and I think they would fall out all over the place, but I may give it a try in the future.

Coconut Bacon is Vegan and Gluten Free.  It only hints at tasting like coconut, so unless you really hate or are sensitive to coconut, you aren’t going to be able to taste it.  It does contain soy, and half of your day’s serving of saturated fat and sodium.  But coconut is a good fat, right?  And there’s no cholesterol.  Plus, you don’t even have to kill Babe to eat this deliciousness.

I don’t really miss bacon, but I think I’ll keep this stuff around to dump on my food when it needs a little something extra.  And especially to make that Spaghetti alla Carbonara!

Purchased online at Spencer’s Market.

Coconut Bacon by Phoney Baloney

Coconut Bacon by Phoney Baloney

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