Finding Gratitude in a Noisy Crowd

Last week, I experienced an almost spiritual moment of gratitude. I was at a concert, a Tool concert to be specific. As I stood in the 12th row, my hair literally blowing from the sound waves (maybe I should have worn earplugs?), I was overtaken by sadness when I thought about my late grandma.

Yes, my grandma. At a Tool show. I know it’s strange, but stay with me here.

I realized how much she would have loved it, and how I wish I had taken her to a rock concert before she passed away in 2003. I imagined her throaty giggle as the sound waves vibrated in her chest. Her eyes full of excitement from the drummer’s insane solo as it ricochets around the arena. I could easily imagine this experience moving her to tears.

My grandma was deaf. She had scarlet fever as an infant and it stole her hearing. She grew up in the WWII era, and was sent to a deaf school. Her parents and siblings did not learn sign language. As was common at that time, deafness was associated with a lack of intelligence, and deaf folks were relegated to low-wage jobs and sub-standard education. She grew up, married a deaf man, and they had four hearing children. They refused to teach any of the children sign language for fear the kids would have the same stigma attached to them.

Grandma Beverly

Grandma Beverly

My mother was one of those four, and she and I learned to sign when I was eight. Grandma gave me a Sesame Street signing book, and she was so thrilled when I was able to tell her what I was learning about in school. I’d show her my favorite signs over and over, like dreamturtle, and grandma, but she never tired of it.  Although I was (and still am) a horrible speller, she pretended to understand what I finger-spelled to her. She had the most amazing laugh, because it was complete abandon every time. Guttural, loud, and full of life. She didn’t know about “indoor voices”. Just recalling the sound of it makes me laugh thirteen years after I heard it last.

My favorite memory of her is when I took her to a doctor appointment, and blasted Snoop Dogg from the stereo as we drove. I look over, and there is my grandma, bobbing her head and tapping her foot to the bass vibration in the car. She asked me what kind of music it was and when I told her, I was rewarded with her best laugh ever.

Not long before she passed, she got new hearing aides. We gathered at my mom’s house to fill out and send my wedding invitations. My mom messed up on one of the envelopes, so she crumpled it up in a ball and tossed it aside. Grandma’s eyes got huge!

“What was that noise?” She signed.

“It was the envelope,” I told her and replicated the crumple action.

“Paper makes noise?!?” She asked, totally astounded.  She’d heard the crumple sound for the first time.

Imagine that. Imagine not knowing that virtually everything makes some sort of noise. Imagine how wondrous each sound would be as you discovered it for the first time at the age of 63. Then she heard my mother’s (her daughter’s) laugh for the first time and she cried.

That’s why I know she would have loved the Tool show. She’d have loved the vibration of the music, the feeling of a sold out crowd united by what they are hearing. She didn’t get to experience music, or her childrens’ laughter, or the sound of thunder or ocean waves.


Everyone was jealous of our seats

So when I was at the Tool show, being bombarded with amazing guitar riffs, the gratitude hit me. We are so lucky. Fortunate. Blessed. I try really hard not to take experiences for granted. In my opinion, they are the most important thing. Possessions are only things that lose their shine and usefulness over time, but experiences teach you, they broaden you, and they make you more interesting. Plus, they don’t go out of style and they can’t break like things do.

Me and the Mr. #twelfthrowseats

Me and the Mr. #twelfthrow

Have some experiences that push you and scare you a little. Do the things you have passion for. Do ALL the things. Don’t squander the chance to enjoy every moment of life. It’s the simplest experiences that can give us the most happiness. Don’t forget to be present.

That time I wrastled a gator.

That time I wrastled a gator.


What are your favorite adventures? What’s on your bucket list? How do you savor you life? Let’s share!






In Search of Eternal Optimism

My older son is the eternal optimist. He is perpetually looking forward to the next great thing on the agenda and then thoroughly enjoying it from start to finish.

Like what, you may ask?


Picking Aunt Victoria up from the train station? SO FREAKING EXCITED!

Picking Aunt Victoria up from the train station? SO FREAKING EXCITED!

Getting his first pair of glasses? EXCITED!

Getting his first pair of glasses? TOTALLY EXCITED! (He got really excited for the burger he had for lunch this day too.)

First summer youth band concert and his grandparents coming to listen? OVER THE MOON EXCITED!

First summer youth band concert and his grandparents coming to listen? OVER THE MOON EXCITED!

Yes, he totally loves and embraces each and every single day. And recently I’ve been thinking that I need to take after him.

It’s not that I’m having a particularly bad life right now but I have been more stressed than usual. Things that I used to find fun or exciting? Well, right now they sort of feel like a burden, and not for any particularly good reason either.

I guess I’m just overwhelmed with life lately. And I know that’s okay and you can’t go through the daily routine feeling one feeling all the time (we saw Inside Out earlier this summer so feeling all the emotions is fresh on my mind).

There are changes, potential changes, and injuries that are holding me back from having that happy-go-lucky feeling lately. But I don’t like feeling overwhelmed so in an attempt to change that, I’m trying to refocus, redirect, and remind myself of a few key things.

1. Live in the moment, or at the very least, in the day!

Man, this is a tough one for me because I’m such a planner. My calendar has subsets and categories and while I know that this is important to keep my family running, the planning ahead makes it difficult to enjoy what I’m doing in that very moment.

I would be lying if I told you different. Right now I’m writing this blog post but I’m also thinking about the other things that I should/could/will be/would be doing. Laundry, I’m side-eyeing you.

Yesterday I was able to go with my kiddos on a trip to a local amusement park. It reminded me just how much fun that can be and for a few hours I was able to shut off the little voices reminding me of what I “needed” to be doing at my house.

Perfect day was perfect.

Perfect day was perfect.

Every day can’t be as fun as this one and I realize this. But when these days do come around, I need to embrace them!

2. Establish a more solid routine.

Wait, what? Doesn’t that go against the “live in the moment” thing I was going for in the first point?

Yeah, it totally does.

However, during the summer the routine tends to go out the window and then when I do have things I need to get done it’s basically “OH! I have this! AND THIS! And crap, I have to get this done too.”

So maybe, at least for my own sanity’s sake, I could have a bit of a set schedule. My calendar is mainly for family events but not Meridith events.

I do a few freelance jobs and since they are done at home, I tend to do them whenever I think about it. Which is often because I can never turn my mind off. Perhaps if I had a certain time of day that I dedicated to these jobs, then I could live in the moment more during the other times.

See, that makes sense, right?

Additionally, I feel like while I have my two mornings a week that I always set aside for the gym/trainer, the rest of my workouts have been falling by the wayside, due to injury. If I set the rest of the days of the week up with different activities, I would feel better which would lead to more productivity all around.

3. I can be a leader, but I don’t have to lead every charge.

Okay, this is a tough, tough one for me.

I take on too much responsibility. And I spread myself too thin.

There, I said it.

There are things that I have to do and there are things that I want to do. But I tend to take projects on simply because I think that no one else will step up to do them.

And maybe no one else will. But I need to stop saying “yes” so much. I need to rely on others, who are just as capable. My way is right for me, but it’s not the only way (oh my gosh, it pains me to say that!) and if someone offers to help with something, I need to take them up on it! It will make me happier!

Even if it’s not my way.

I suppose.

Now to get my dog, Gemma, on board.

Now to get my dog, Gemma, on board.

What things make you smile? Do you have any tips of the trade for looking on the bright side of life?

I Can… But Then I Think Mmm, Better Not

Wait a minute, that’s not my manta. My mantra is I can and I will. It’s about Meridith power and how much I rock and how I can do anything. Kelly Clarkson sings about me being Stronger! Katy Perry wants to hear me ROAR!


Except that I’ve been thinking about this full marathon I signed up for and rather than being excited for it and looking forward to the training, I’ve been coming up with the reasons of why I should NOT do it.

The cons are totally outweighing the pros in my mental list and that can’t be a good sign. I’m assuming that in the history of running, I can’t be the only one who ever felt this way. Back in March, I listed reasons why I planned to sign up for the full.

Well, now here are my reasons that I’ve decided that now is not the time.

#1 My foot has actually been feeling GOOD

Confused? Let me explain! I spent a good seven months in pain thanks to plantar fasciitis and this little beauty.


Seven months of wincing every time I got up in the morning out of bed. Seven months of hurting during and after every. Single. Run.

Slowly the pain faded away and I don’t think I even realized that it no longer hurt until a month of non-hurt. I was so accustomed to the hurt.

Now, I’m not hurting. And I don’t really want to mess that up.


#2 Training

Victoria and I have had this discussion more than once: you can’t fake a marathon. I mean, you probably could do it with minimal training (I’m sure that some people choose this option); I know I’d be downright miserable.

WHO WANTS TO BE MISERABLE? Not me! I like feeling good. Bring on the happy!

That’s not to say I haven’t been training. I have the Dumbo Double Dare at the end of this month and I’ve been having some great runs. Additionally I’m signed up for another 19.3 challenge in October (the Atlantic City Marathon series). Bumping up training runs to over 13 miles is where my issue lies.

Piggy-backing on the training point…

#3 I have other things that need to get done

My kiddos start school in September and both will be going full-day for the first time. In my delusional mind, I thought that this meant I’d have all the time in the world.


But uh, I already know that’s not going to be the case. Marathon training is an all or nothing type of thing. I don’t think I can give it my all at this point – there are things I need to do (PTO, laundry, food shopping, dog training) and there are things that I want to do (volunteer work, seeing my friends, spending weekends with my family). Which brings me to point 4.

#4 I don’t want to and you can’t make me. But what’s more is that I can’t make me.

To quote High School Musical, “You’ve gotta get’cha head in the game”. To quote myself, “No.”

Zac Efron, you’re adorable but even you can’t talk me into this.

Seriously though, I have the most supportive friends and family. They were all about me signing up in April. Conversely, as soon as I started expressing doubts and concerns, they were just as supportive in the other direction. Mentally, I’m just not at the full marathon level. I might be able to physically push through but I don’t want to.

So fast, they were blurs. Literally.

Just look for me with the Elite runners.

 #5 There’s a half marathon option!

Oh Philly, you can’t get rid of me that easily. You were my first road race, first spectating experience and my first volunteering experiences and I adore you. I have yet to run the half during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend so let’s not cut corners!

Who will I see on November 23rd?

Channeling My Inner Janet Jackson

I’ve been feeling very out of control of situations lately.

It’s not a good feeling for someone who spends their life being the leader, the one who is in control, the one who (mostly) has their shit together.

However, it’s where I’m at right now and it’s a bit scary to me because I don’t typically function well in this type of environment. I’m not a complainer by nature, but I also don’t like a lot of change. Because change = me not in charge.

Earlier in January I blogged about my dog’s sudden passing. (Thank you for all the love, support and comments.) I’m still trying to deal with that and I’ll admit, it’s taking me longer than I expected to heal from that emotional punch in the heart.

Furthermore, I’m dealing with an injury. Yeah… another one. I came back too fast from my previous injury and developed a heel spur. Which, on its own, wouldn’t actually be a bother because heel spurs don’t hurt.


Except that it’s digging into the plantar fascia tissue. Not cool, heel spur. Not. Cool.

I’m in pain. And have been since November, really, but finally went to the doctor a few weeks ago. (Again with the control thing and thinking that I could fix things on my own. Note to self: I cannot. Also, I’m not a doctor.)


My doctor is very proactive and said that I can continue working out, as much as I can tolerate. I have anti-inflammatory cream, and exercises, and I’m getting custom orthotics (ooooooh, fancy!). If all those exciting things don’t work, we’ll discuss arthroscopic surgery to cut the plantar fascia. He suggested that if something hurts, I do not do it. This includes box jumps, step ups, jumping jacks, and… running.

Let’s get back to that control thing for a minute. That’s a lot of things right there that I’m not able to do. And ordinarily, it would send me into a tailspin. However, I’ve made the conscious decision to focus on the positive and what I can do. Because I can control my reactions to when things don’t go my way.

I can continue working with my trainer and do most things that he barks at me. Furthermore, I am able to speed walking without too much pain, which is exactly what I’m doing. I’m taking charge of the situation and while it’s not ideal, and it sure as heck isn’t running, it’s something. And in my world, something is always better than giving up.

And it really leads back to my motto, I can and I will. Rather than focusing on all the negatives, all the limitations, I’ll be focusing on what I can do to move ahead with my goals.

I’m training for my third Atlantic City April Fool’s Half on April 6th and I’m committed to getting the training done. By making the speed walking modification (walking on the treadmill at 4.0-4.5) and playing with the incline (anywhere from 2% – 15%. If it’s on 15%, I’m at 2.8 mph), I’m able to get in a good workout. I logged 94 miles in January. My goal is 40-60 minutes three days a week and long “runs” on the weekend. And I doubt this very much since we are in winter forever, but if it ever warms up, I’ll head outside.

letitgoSo, friends, that’s where I’m at at the moment. Again, it’s not ideal and it’s not where I want to be but as long as I’m breathing and moving, I consider that a win. Yay me!

What do you do when life doesn’t go as planned? Are you a crazy obsessive planner like me or more of a go-with-the-flow type of person? Also, I hope you’re singing Janet Jackson songs for the rest of the day like I’ll be. No, my first name ain’t baby.