I wrapped up the Mondo Beyondo course I was taking just over a week ago. Or maybe longer. Has it really been two weeks?
And it was actually pretty amazing. I didn’t know what to expect. I had taken online classes before, mostly writing classes, but nothing so “dreamy.” Is that the right term? I just went into it with my eyes and ears and open. And I’m so glad I did.
It was freeing. And it was hard. And I walked away knowing a little more about myself than I did five weeks earlier. I also walked away connected to a new group of strong, powerful, hard-working, fun-loving women.
A few of us are writing each other letters. On paper. With pens. That we’ll actually send in the mail. I got my first letter today (Thanks, Brenna) and it was a joy to read. I can’t wait to sit down with a mug of tea and write to these women. And to write about the experience.
I’ve recently recommitted myself to writing. To writing here, to writing for my writing group, to writing for me. I don’t think I’m ready to take the NaNoWrMo challenge, but it sure is exciting to think about!
Last night I hit the send button on my first submission. It’s the first time I’ve sent my work out into the world in that way. I’ve sent it to my Mom, to my Writing Buddy, to my Writing Group and I’ve even started to let Husband read some work.
This is different writing than you see here. The essay I sent was hard to write. It was hard to share. But it felt really good to click on that button and see it go. Who knows what will happen now. I’m already working on submission number 2. That will go out next week.
I’ll keep you posted!
This Tuesday “Just Write” Post was inspired by Heather at The Extraordinary Ordinary. I’ll be linking up to her as many Tuesdays as I can muster. Another writing commitment.
For the past few weeks I’ve felt that my life is on hold. Time keeps moving, days are getting shorter, school is starting, the State Fair is happening, but I feel stuck. We hoped to be in a new house by this time. Or at least be packing up the last of the wine glasses and shampoo bottles and have an idea where we’ll unpack them. Instead, we’re still vacuuming and dusting and hauling dogs to various sitters so we can open our house, yet again, to curious eyes.
I’m looking forward to getting settled somewhere else. I’m looking forward to unpacking and tossing everything we didn’t miss while it was in storage. I’m looking forward to telling daughter, “Yes, I know where that is.” Rather than, “Sorry honey, it’s in storage.”
We will sell. Or we’ll take a break and sell in the spring. I’m getting impatient, but I have to remember that I love where we are. I love where daughter goes every day. I love waking up to the sun rising over the river. I love greeting neighbors that we’ve known for years. We thought we’d be gone by now, on to something new and different, and hopefully better. Until then we’ll just wait and enjoy what we have.
Last week I went out on a friends boat and thanks to wildfires out west (Thank you, Idaho!) we were treated to an amazing sunset. I don’t get many moments to just sit and stare at the sky. But there I sat, gently bobbing in the bay with a (plastic) glass of wine in my hand.
Things aren’t so bad. Even if we are in a holding pattern.
Yesterday was daughter’s first official day of Pre-Kindergarten. For nearly four and a half years we knew this day was coming. For the past year she’s been preparing in Preschool A and Preschool B. For two weeks she’s been transitioning to the classroom. But yesterday was the first day that I dropped her off in the “big kid” room. And it was yesterday that I looked at my little baby, with the long, lean legs and the quick smile, and realized that, Yes, she is a big kid.
I did my third triathlon this weekend. Now that it’s behind me, I can say it was a blast. But up until that moment where my toes hit the water, I felt totally unprepared. The first time I did this triathlon, two years ago, I followed the training schedule faithfully. I packed my bag carefully, made notes and asked advice. And I was nervous as hell. Last year I was much more relaxed, but again trained aggressively and I beat my time by about two minutes. This year I started the summer with a strong training program, but by Mid-July my training fell apart. We listed our house, Daughter’s day care fell apart and my Dad passed away. I continued to train just to maintain my sanity. I went into the race very relaxed, probably too much. And maybe even too confident. I had no jitters and no concerns. I really just wanted to have fun. I didn’t expect to get a PR. Here’s what happened.
I didn’t realize that the first wave had even started until I saw people running out of the water. What? Yeah, Jenn, they’re on the third wave already, my training partner told me. What? We were in the ninth wave, so we had a few minutes, but still, pay attention, Jenn! It’s a good thing she was there or I’d probably still be standing on the beach waiting to start. Anyway, I started the swim fast, too fast. I ran out ahead, dove in and swam with everything I had. And then I couldn’t breathe. I got kicked and then I kicked someone. Then I had to flip over and just breathe kick breathe. By the first turn I was starting to calm down but was still offered a noodle. All the crazy thoughts I expected came racing through my mind. “What are you thinking doing a triathlon? Just grab that kayak over there and you can be done. You still need to bike and run after this, are you crazy?” But just like in writing, I told my mind to shut up. I closed my eyes and started to swim. Every few strokes I looked up to make sure I was going in the right direction. I was. By the second turn I was encouraging another swimmer who seemed to be struggling. By the time I reached the shore I was grateful for strong legs and sand to run on.
I dried my feet, struggled with socks, velcroed my bike shoes, clipped on my race belt and helmet and ran outta there in just over two minutes.
I have a love/hate relationship with the bike. I love the bike because I have water and food with me and I can get my head settled after the swim, but I hate it because it’s long and I have a slow bike and I inevitably get bored by mile 12 of so. This year I really worked on concentrating, mostly because I figured out my bike computer and now know how fast I’m going. Even then, by mile 14 I was slowing down and a friendly biker passed me and encouraged me to finish strong. It was exactly what I needed, so I kicked my speed back up and sped in.
I really only had to rack my bike and switch shoes, but as I leaned down to tie them (darn laces) I got a bad cramp in my upper abs (old yoga injury) and had to sit down. Sit Down? Just to put on shoes? Even sitting I could barely reach my feet without the cramp flaring up but I told myself as soon as I had them tied I could run away and stretch it as much as I wanted.
So, off I went to the trail and nobody else was there. Seriously. There were dozens of fans and I new I went the right way, but there were no other runners! I actually had to ask some spectators if I was going the right away. I was, and moments later I caught some slower runners. (I might have a slow bike, but I pass all those racing-bike-types on the run). The first mile was hard. Really hard. My legs were tired and I felt like I was barely moving. But it’s so mental at that point and I really really didn’t want to walk. so I just kept moving my legs over and over and over. A half-mile into the run I caught my breathe and started to have fun. I encouraged walkers to run with me. I complimented a woman on her cute top (Athleta, of course!). I shouted out my calories burned when it hit 950. And I yelled just one mile to go when we had just one mile to go. Then with 800 yards left, I thought I was going to puke. That darn Gatorade I tried at the last water stop. I new it was a bad choice, but I just put the thought out of my head and new that at that finish line were my Husband, My In-laws and the sweetest little girl i knew. And I knew she wanted to finish with me. When I could finally see the finish line (I love that you can’t see the finish line until there’s only about 150 feet to go) I knew I was nearly there. I looked in the crowd for Husband and saw his head peeking over the crowd. I waved and out popped Daughter. Dressed in her favorite party dress and her new running shoes. She grabbed my hand and ran with me all the way to the end. We crossed and stopped and as I leaned down to hug her she looked up and asked, “Did we win?” “Yeah, Baby, we won all right.”
I didn’t look at the clock when I finished, but I knew from my watch that I had probably gotten a PR. I think the big difference is that I pushed it on the bike. I totally messed up the swim, but with the stronger bike and a consistent run (my best and favorite portion) I reached the PR. And after everything that happened this summer, everything that tried to derail my training and didn’t, I couldn’t be happier. Now, I just can’t wait until next year. Seriously. It can’t come soon enough!!
Daughter woke up today in full melt-down mode. She had a rough night, with nightmares full of spiders and spider webs. Husband pulled her into our bed, where she woke multiple times pleading for us to get the spider webs offher arms, her legs, her head. It was heartbreaking to watch and even more difficult because it was 1, and then 2 and then 3 in the morning. When the alarm went off at 6:30, I zombie-walked to the bathroom, only to be followed by a mini-zombie screaming “Carry Me! Carry Me!”
(image from wikipedia)
It’s been a day.
I ran over to the club at lunch to swim laps. I had to talk myself into going. Talk myself into leaving the comfort of my desk, the piles of work that needed to get done. But I knew I’d feel better after I spent a half-hour in the pool. I’d work better, be less distracted, actually get MORE done. So I pulled myself up and out to the parking ramp and drove the 10 blocks to the club. I plugged the meter, waited for green to cross the street, opened the door and was stopped abruptly by a large sign.
“Club closed due to Water Main Break. Please use our other locations.”
I stood and stared at it. I wanted to swim. I didn’t want to drive somewhere else. I already plugged my meter. I wanted to swim. My pool, and I realized, my suit were behind that sign.
I went back to the office, complained a bit, ate my frozen lunch and then had a Dilly Bar.
Fast forward to the end of the day. We ate dinner. We cleaned up. We even played for a few minutes when we realized we should be outside. The plan was we’d all ride to the lake, Husband and Daughter would play on the playground while I swam, and then we’d all bike home. A perfect plan.
I bent down to fill up my tires, which were just a tad low, and then I heard the hiss. And not a little hiss, but a loud hiss. I felt the tire. It was soft. really soft. Much softer than it had been just a moment earlier when I checked it. Somehow when I opened up the air nozzle the whole thing went flat.
But Husband came to the rescue. He handed over his bike and said he and Daughter would walk to a closer playground. That’s my guy. So, I hopped on his bike, which I’ve never ridden and popped over to the lake. I spent most of my time on the bike learning his gears and forgetting my feet weren’t clipped in. Imagine me falling at a stop light because I can’t get my feet off his naked pedals. I can.
But I made it. I made it to the lake. And along with probably 100 other swimmers (seriously, there’s a race this weekend, so it was crowded) I swam. I wanted to go across the lake (600 yards) but I wasn’t sure I had time (I had about 25 minutes before the lifeguards left) and my first time in Open Water I didn’t want to push it. Besides, I was alone. And I already had two strikes against me.
So I swam for a while. And then I turned back. The swim back to shore was against the wind and pretty tough. I didn’t panic, and heard Dory/Ellen’s voice as I made it back to shore. I took the long way back home on Husband’s bike and was grateful I got my swim in. Grateful I pushed myself to do it. Grateful Husband understood I needed to ride, to swim.
And grateful I didn’t get that third strike.
I’m going to bed.
It’s Monday night. Daughter just went to sleep after many, many disruptions. Husband is working on the crossword. Little Dog is napping by the front window. Big Dog is napping next to me. I’m pounding away on the keyboard. Determined to get something written for this blog. Determined to kick start my writing the only way I know how, to just sit my but down and do it. This Monday was pretty easy. Maybe because it’s a short week. Maybe because the weekend was just so, so, so perfect.
Friday morning I woke up with the sun and went for a run. It was amazingly beautiful outside, crisp and cool, and I was so grateful I did it. Not just for my body, but for my mind, and for the long day I would have with Daughter. We went to swim lessons, we met friends at a playground, we went to lunch with those friends and then the kids swam in the frigid lake. In the afternoon I brought Daughter for her first pedicure. Then we stopped for a treat and then home for dinner with Husband. It was a perfect day. She was on her best behavior. I was on my best behavior. And when I think about it, I’m sure that little run I snuck in at the crack of dawn had something to do with it.
Saturday morning I woke up early. Not as early as the run, but still early. I went for a long bike ride. The training schedule said to go 100 minutes. I made it 80 before boredom and the call back to life hit me. Then we went to get Daughter’s haircut before we had family photos. She spent 45 straight minutes looking into the camera, flattening her dress and trying not to be shy. She did a really good job not being shy. I was very proud of her. Then we tore across town, facing closed roads and backed-up traffic to join my team for a boat ride on the river. What a beautiful day. With beautiful people. There was seven-layer dip and a dip in the (again, frigid) river, there were burgers and brats and one little beer. We stayed on the river much longer than we should have. Back on dry land, we searched for a parking spot for over 20 minutes just so we could run into the candy store and get a gigantic sucker. I drove home and when I pulled up in front of the house I had a sleeping girl, with a rainbow of sugar across her face and a sucker stuck to her sleeve.
Sunday morning I didn’t go running. I didn’t pull out the bike. Instead I grabbed a book and a mug of tea and sat on our new deck. I listened to the birds and read Kelly’s beautiful words. Eventually, Daughter came outside and curled into my lap with the iPad and Winnie-the-Pooh. Big Dog curled up at my feet and chewed on sticks and leaves that were still falling from the storm the previous week. I read. Daughter watched. Big Dog chewed. I wanted to stay there forever, but right as my watch told me we had to get moving, I turned the last page of that moving book and Winnie-the-Pooh got the honey pot and walked into the sun with Christopher Robin.
Remember those questions I posted a week or so ago? I haven’t forgotten them. Here’s number one:
1. What is one thing you’d like to accomplish (professionally or personally) in the next year?
There are a lot of things I want to accomplish in the next year… move to a new house, complete another triathlon, run another 10k. But the one thing I need to throw out there, into this virtual but very real space, is that I want to finish the memoir I’ve been working on. I’ve been working on it on and off for a couple years (mostly off), but it needs to get onto the page somehow (and soon). That means that by April 4, 2014 I’ll have a first draft. And it might be a shitty first draft, well, yes, it will be a shitty first draft, but it will be a first draft.
I met a writing friend for coffee (I drink tea) yesterday and she has inspired me. She makes herself write 500 words every day. I’m going to write 500 words at least four times a week. At least. If more spills out that’s great. There will be less sleep and less reading, and hopefully less TV. But there will be writing.
And maybe I’ll share some of it with you here. I haven’t talked about this “memoir” here before. In fact, I rarely talk about my personal writing here except with my supportive and loyal writing group, but many of you know that having Daughter was no easy task. And that’s where my story begins. There are lots of parts of my story and lots to write about. And I’m working on it. Really working on it. And it’s hard. But now I’ve thrown it out to you. One year. 365 days. And it’s not an April Fool’s joke. Really. That was already three days ago!.