When Things Aren’t Perfect

Life can be fricking hard, yo. I don’t have it figured out, but I do know what helps me when things get tough. Today, I’m sharing some thoughts about dealing with life’s struggles. I hope they help you, too, and always be kind to yourself.

 

7 reasons I shouldn’t have reached my 10th birthday

I was am a klutz. I own it.

I fall down the stairs, ricochet off walls and trip over air regularly. (Just ask my boss, husband or running pals.)

As summer officially started this year, I  found my mind wandering back to how I spent my summers as a kid in central Pennsylvania. I was what you’d affectionately call “a spirited pool rat.” As I look back, I recall several “near disasters,” most of which took place in the summer months thanks to my impulsive personality.

So today, dear friends, I shall share with you my top 7 close calls. And let me say, this list in no way suggests poor parenting by Mom and Dad. It’s all thanks to my own curiosity and/or stupidity.

  • I fell from a moving car. Truth. I was 3 or 4 at the time and my dad was driving my sister and me to the pool when the incident occurred. Sissy and I shared the front seat of my dad’s Thunderbird. I was on the outside. Seat belts? We didn’t use them back then. I found myself wondering about the locked car door. I knew if it was locked it wouldn’t open from the outside and when unlocked, would open no matter what. But would the locked door open from the inside? I wondered. In retrospect. I should not have tested this theory when the car was still moving. I clicked the lock into place and pulled the handle. I tumbled onto the pavement and rolled onto a nearby lawn. The car screeched to a halt, my dad scooped me up and took me home. Aside from nasty road rash all over my body and screaming bloody murder when my mother applied the medicine, I was fine. More than anything I was peeved that I wasn’t allowed to go to the pool that day.

littlevpoolIn the pool, where I loved to be

  • Stabbed with a dart. I was 9 when Sissy and I bought a dartboard at a garage sale. We couldn’t wait to use it, but mom kyboshed hanging it on the wall, even in our messy basement. She didn’t want holes in the walls, apparently because of our wretched aim. Our solution was not brilliant. We took turns holding the board while the other whizzed sharp darts at the target. Neither of us had great aim, but a few turns in, one dart reached its mark – in my upper left leg. Blood started spurting. I still have a scar. And I no longer play darts.
  • Head first into the shallow end. I absolutely knew better. But alas, no one was around to stop me when I dove into the two-foot section at our pool club when I was 8. I was new to swim team that summer and I knew the older kids started their long course practice from the shallow end. I wanted to be just like them, so I dove into the packed pool and landed on my head. I actually saw stars raining from the sky and thank God that I didn’t actually hurt myself. No one noticed, by the way, not even a lifeguard posted nearby.
  • Climbing the roof. This activity drove my mother nuts. She repeatedly told Sissy and me to stay off the roof of our house, but we rarely listened. Every chance we got, Sissy and I would crawl out my bedroom window and onto the roof. I realize now, had we fallen off the top of the back roof, we’d have fallen 3 stories. I slipped on the shingles nearly every trek, but never slid off the side of the house, thank goodness. A family friend jumped from the second-story one summer and hurt his arm. Mom kept a much tighter leash on us after that.
  • Underwater at a water park. I never admitted this story to, well, anyone, because I was so embarrassed it happened. On a family outing to a water park, I headed into the park’s huge wave pool. I was a strong swimmer, but somehow got caught in the underwater current and stuck in a cycle with the wave. I couldn’t get above water for air for what felt like minutes. (I’m sure it wasn’t that long, but it was far longer than I was comfortable with.) I panicked, underwater. I remember some kind adult grabbing the back of my swimsuit and yanking me up. I avoided waves pools for years after that. Once I finally ventured back in, I always stopped once the water reached chest high.
  • Reckless sledding. As the lone girl in most of my childhood playgroups, I became a bit of a tomboy. I often would try to keep up with the guys, even when I knew I couldn’t. One winter, we decided it was a brilliant idea to sled down a steep hill – and over a ravine at the bottom. I never made it to the ravine, as my sledding skills were weak. My friend landed in the ravine, injuring himself slightly. His neighbor, however, didn’t fare well at all. His sled jumped the ravine, but the boy landed on his head. His trip to the hospital ended our fun.
  • Walking pneumonia. This one was for real, kids. I was 5 and was laid out on the couch for months. I apparently spent time in the hospital and my mother tells me that she thought I was going to die. All I remember from this multi-month illness was a great aunt hovering over me for what felt like months on end, eating ice chips and wanting to play with my sister. Oh, and a celebratory trip to see E.T. in the theater once I was officially “on the mend.”

So there ya go! Tales of my klutziness, stupidity and curiosity that could’ve ended it all well before my 10th birthday. I share this with you, so when your kids act up this summer you know you aren’t alone.

We all make bad choices. We all have had at least one close call. And we all have some pretty spectacular memories as a result. Just be sure to learn from those mistakes.

Were you impulsive like me? Did you flirt with disaster? Tell me all about your brush with death as a child. Don’t have a such a moment? (Good for you!) then please share a favorite summer memory from your childhood.

 

Failing to succeed

There are days when I can’t do it all.

No one can, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. And it surely doesn’t stop me from repeatedly falling short. If you’re anything like me, you see this as a failure.

Last week, I couldn’t make it to the post office before closing time – personal errand failure. I didn’t answer any personal emails until the end of the work week – time management failure. I couldn’t get a source to call me back or open the door for me – professional failure. I made a smoothie for dinner instead of a real meal – delicious, but still my latest domestic failure.

I’m hard on myself. I want to succeed. When I make a mistake or fail to follow through, I kick myself for days.

hairCaught in the act: pulling out my hair on assignment. Photo by Annette Lein

It’s normal to fail. I certainly learn more from my mistakes than when I tackle something correctly on the first go-around. I remember what I did wrong.

So let me share a few fabulous failures and flaws (and corresponding lessons) with you:

Never make an offer that you aren’t willing to follow through on.  You’ve never been to “fill-in-the-blank-city?” Why don’t you come with me?  Trust me on this one. Don’t offer to be nice. Don’t say it unless you mean it. Otherwise, the weird chick you met while volunteering at the thrift shop could commandeer your upcoming trip.

If something sounds off, it probably is. It’s ok to question people if you think something sounds wrong. My first big professional failure – a source flat-out lied to me. And I fell for it, in part because I didn’t want him to think I didn’t know the ins and outs of local politics. He knew I didn’t, and he took advantage.

It’s OK to ask for help. I love to bake, but I can’t get cupcakes right to save my life and I refuse to ask for help. As a result, I don’t even like to EAT cupcakes.  Hmm. Maybe that’s actually for the best.

Speak up for yourself and your loved ones. If you don’t do it, who will?

My mother often will tell me that no one is perfect, that we all grow and evolve based on our experiences. Among her famous quotes:

I won’t make the same mistakes as my parents did. I learned from those. I’ll make new ones.

True enough, mom.

Now I want to hear from you. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a  mistake? What advice would you give others?

New journeys for a new year

2013 was a big year for me.

I ran two marathons, including a runDisney coast-to-coast ultra in memory of two fallen firefighters. I PRed in nearly every distance and became an Oiselle team runner.

I covered several high-profile trials at work and for the second straight year, ran more than 1,000 miles.

So what’s next for 2014?

Honestly, I am still trying to figure that out. I have several spring races planned and I would like to run a fall marathon, but I also want to do something new and different. What? I’m not just sure.

I don’t make resolutions. But I know I need to work toward a few fitness and overall life goals:

I need to work on my core, and not make excuses when I’m not in the mood or the weather makes travel difficult.

I need to drink less coffee and more water.

I need to clean put my closets, become more organized and purge unnecessary items with a mass decluttering.

I need to be more patient.

I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

I need to be better about living in the moment, and just go with it.

So I plan to live by this mantra in 2014, live each day better than the day before. If I follow that plan, I can’t go wrong.

What suggestions do you have for my coming year? What should I try? What are your 2014 goals?

Just Go With It

Ask anyone, I’m a planner.

I have to be for my job. I need to be when I train. I like to be for my life.

That doesn’t always means I am organized, (need proof? look at my closets!) but I do like to know what I’m doing or where I’m going well before any big trip, project or event arrives.

My husband? He’s the last-minute master. He often books his plane tickets a day or two before he leaves for a trip, he’s the guy doing laundry an hour before he heads to the airport, and he leaves the house to see a movie in a theatre at the time the printed schedule shows the movie will begin.

Rarely does J miss his flight, mis-pack or miss the movie.

It drives me nuts, in part because in my business when you arrive late, you miss the story. But his way works just as well as mine. It’s just different.

He lives in the moment. I plan for the moment. We both love the moment.

Lately, I’ve been trying to go with the flow a bit more regularly.

If he suggests a last minute change, I go with it.

If I didn’t, I never would have dreamed of jumping into the Atlantic Ocean on the Maine coast last Thanksgiving Day. It was an exhilarating, albeit frigid, experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

But I might not have considered it in my past. It was cold, it was winter and well, I’m not crazy.

Then I thought – what the hell. I only live once. Why not?!

So after our (planned) holiday hike up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, we set off for Sand Beach. We didn’t have swimsuits along so we both improvised. Sports bra, running shirt and undies for me, underwear for him, and we bolted past a gaggle of tourists and jumped into the crashing waves.

We splashed at each other and I was pummeled by a giant wave. And I outlasted my husband in the freezing ocean.

It. Was. Amazing.

Once we were back on dry land, shivering and covered in towels and blankets by our loving family, we questioned our sanity. And bragged about our feat.

sandbeach

On Friday, I had a similar – but far less freezing – moment at my in-laws. Following our morning walk around the property, my husband asked me to wander off with him.

I was cold. I needed to use the bathroom. I wanted to head inside and hit the treadmill.

But I didn’t. And Mother Nature rewarded us with huge snowflakes, the kind where you can see each flake’s intricate, unique design. Words can’t describe how enthralled I was with this discovery.

snowflake

So today I say, just go with it. You may not have planned for it. But you likely won’t regret it.

What are some spur of the moment decisions you’ve made lately? Have you taken the less traveled path? Where did it lead you?

Attitude of Gratitude

Every November there are trends that circle back around. NaNoWriMo for the authors and aspiring novelists. No shave November in support of the American Cancer Society. And of course, seeing many friends and loved ones share what they are grateful for each day on Facebook.

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While I don’t express my gratitudes daily, I sincerely feel them throughout the weeks, days, and hours. As you might already know (if you follow our Instagram/Twitter/Facebook) I’m in Disney World this week with my family, prior to running this year’s Wine and Dine. And somehow, Disney makes me feel ALL THE FEELS, in a big way. They’re good like that. My heart swells, my eyes well, and I can’t help but look at my family and think they’re mine, all mine.

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I’m grateful for my children’s unbridled enthusiasm which is always authentic and never forced.

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And I’m extremely grateful that I have a partner who knows exactly what I’m thinking with just a glance, who will go along with my off the beaten path ideas (like grilled cheese for breakfast), and will make certain things happen for me because he knows that they mean a lot, even if they’re not always the most convenient.

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Being down here in Florida has given me the chance to see a few of my favorite people and I’ve got more in store for me. Having the chance to spend a day with Brooke and her family was amazing.

We’ve had a few opportunities to spend long weekends together but this was the first time we had our children together, although I feel like we’ve been planning it forever. We knew that they would love each other as much as WE love each other.

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We were not disappointed!

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I’m grateful for new things… and things that are tried and true and don’t change. I grew up coming to Disney World and while it keeps evolving and growing, it still feels like “home”. Perhaps that’s why there’s such a well of emotions that are evoked every time I’m here. I spent my family vacations here, a college spring break (let’s not talk about that), my honeymoon. I’m a Mouseketeer, a dreamer, and a believer.

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At the end of each day my little family talks about what our favorite thing was of the day. The kids surprise me with their favorites often times because it’s usually not what I would expect them to say. For example, at Hollywood Studios, Little’s favorite was the rainbow that appeared in the sky after a light rain.

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And Pooks’ was becoming an Honorary Citizen in the historical One Man’s Dream, the story of Walt Disney. One of the cast members overheard him asking me a question about a first rendition of Mickey Mouse and through a little scavenger hunt, he was award this badge and got to sign a ledger.

I’m grateful for their inquisitive nature, for them wanting to know all there is and all there isn’t. Their relentless pursuit of knowledge keeps me learning, thinking and growing. And seeing things that I might otherwise not notice for lack of observance.

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Victoria and I grew up on Disney, although when we were teenagers, we never had the opportunity to share the parks together like we do now. I’ve spent much of my adulthood vacations in Disney and many of them with her by my side and I’m extremely fortunate that we have been able to do so. (I just noticed that we usually take pictures with her on my right! Creatures of habit!)

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The other morning, I was in Animal Kingdom when I got an email saying that someone wasn’t able to attending the runDisney’s Wine and Dine meetup and that I was next in line for the spot! I am so very grateful for the experience that I had last evening.

More about that to come but a quick summary: it was amazing from start to finish and I met so many really awesome, really genuine people. It was good stuff and hey, you know ALL THE FEELS I spoke about earlier? Yes. Those were out in full force. I get so emotional, baby!

The emotions will keep on coming all weekend, I’m sure. Along with my gratitude.

Tomorrow morning my kiddos are running in the kids races and their excitement and energy is just feeding my excitement; even though our vacation is nearly over in days, it’s still rich in experience.

To say that I’m  super excited for the next few days might be a slight understatement. People, there will be tackle hugs and tears and pictures (and we will lament that Jess and Bec aren’t with us). There will be meetings with new friends and seeing long-time friends, like Heather and Lisa. There will be squealing, there will be carb-loading lunches and light snack dinners.

And then, just when you’d think that it can’t get much better than that… it does. Because then, we get to run a half marathon!

Stay tuned…