Sunday, December 20, 2015

All In a Day

Ever since Facebook started the "On This Day" memory feature that shows you posts from previous years, I've realized a trend over the last few weeks.

I kind of lose my mind in December.

We saw Ira David Wood III's adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" yesterday with our close friends and their children, and I seriously found myself thinking, "You know... Scrooge is right! We all spend too much money this time of year, we are all tired, the weather gets cold, everyone is sick, kids become obsessed with materialistic junk, and ... " Dang, Heather. Chill out, dude.

After a delicious lunch today with my little family, a tear-free visit with Santa, a dairy-free iced latte, and a little shopping for this-and-that, I came home and started riffling through the mail. I still need to open all of the Christmas cards and display them (and write and mail my own). I was reading some of the mail and suddenly realized something I had written on social media last week might have come across as directed at a specific person, and I felt awful. Mortified, actually.

It's not really my style to be passive-aggressive to anyone - mostly because I think I grew tired of how it felt to be on the receiving end of passive-aggressive behavior. One of the things I try to accomplish as a teacher is to never make a child feel belittled or disrespected, because I had a few teachers who seemed to disregard students' feelings on a regular basis. I vowed to remember that and never make my own students feel that way. My mom was a big believer in the Golden Rule.

After apologizing via message to this person, I took a moment to lie on the living room floor, and my daughter took the opportunity to snuggle next to me while she watched Angelina Ballerina. My husband was at the pet store with my son, and I just stared up at the ceiling fan.

Thinking about all of my shortcomings over the last few months after allowing life to derail my regular training (and life stuff) after my last triathlon in September. Skipping workouts, forgetting to send birthday and thank-you cards, not being a present friend, yelling at my kids, losing my patience, complaining about small things, little arguments with my husband, failing at eating well, getting too wrapped up in Id and not enough compassion for the outside world.

Then came the self-sabotage: Since I have been acting like ______, I don't deserve ______.

  • I'm going to drop out of Ironman Chattanooga and do a few sprints instead.
  • I'm going to stop training with a coach since I keep messing up my workout schedules. There are other athletes out there who deserve his time more than I do.
  • I'm not going to plan anymore social things because no one will come anyway.
  • I'm going to the garden to eat worms.
I thought all the bad things, and then I sat up. And I looked down at this little person.

Tears brimmed at the corners of my eyes as I brushed her hair away from her face. My lip quivered, and thankfully a ballerina pig distracted her from noticing that I was upset. I took a deep breath and asked myself:

What do I want her to see?

I remembered this picture after my first Olympic triathlon in April:

Do I want her to "look up" to a mom who just gives up when life spirals a little bit out of control? No.

I want her to see a mom who shakes off the yuck and gets out there anyway.

I never was a fan of the alleged Marilyn Monroe quote (which I think Snopes said is not actually a MM quote): "If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best." Um, by all means, when I am at my worst - go the f away. Please keep your distance and allow me to be a crazy lady who cries in grocery store at olives (there's a story there, I'm not that bonafide crazy). I don't expect or even want anyone else to join me in the well of looney tunes!

But, if you don't mind coming back in a few weeks when I can get into a routine again and shake off this yuck - well, you can join me on my journey of trying to make the best out of life. One day at a time. Not necessarily all days, but most days.

Happy Holidays to my friends and family - this will be my last blog post until after the new year. Much love to everyone and may all your days be merry and bright, indeed.

Monday, December 14, 2015

No, Really

I used to pride myself on being an excellent multi-tasker. I think teachers, especially music teachers, just have to be able to balance a billion things at once. It goes along with looking at a score with 15+ different parts, actually conducting, listening to the music, remembering what needs to be fixed, checking posture, making sure the percussionists who aren't playing are not destroying the chimes, etc. I think it also satisfies my "shiny object" personality - maybe the fact I can be (and should be) easily distracted is actually useful as a music teacher?

Anyway, I think I have finally realized something about my life as a sometimes-working, mother of two, trying to be an athlete, wife, house cleaner, bill-payer, appointment scheduler, etc. My multi-tasking talent doesn't really matter, because I can only do one thing at a time.

WHAT the WHAT??!?! No, no, nonononononononono - I need to do ALL the things RIGHT NOW. ALL OF THEM.

No, Heather. No, really - that doesn't work anymore.

*insert crying emojii here*

There will be a week I cook at home and the house stays somewhat clean.
This means I will not be able to do two-a-day workouts.

There will be weeks I check off every single green training peaks box.
This means we will not eat home-cooked meals every day. And the house will be cluttered.

There will be weeks I make every appointment at the doctor, take Mads to the park.
This means I will not be social with friends.

This is going to be my life for a while. We have two children - each with their own activities, their own unique needs, personalities, messes, and laundry piles. And I am CERTAIN there are folks who just don't get it, think I am lazy and unmotivated or whatever - but I just can't care about that.We are all different beings, and I am usually a great multi-tasker, but I've realized this is as close as I can get to surviving as a parent, athlete, friend, wife, daughter, teacher, taxi cab driver, accountant.

One thing at a time, without apologizing for the things that don't happen right away - I can handle that. Perhaps someday I will be able to do all the things, no one's feelings will ever get hurt, my house will be tidy, crafts completed, workouts checked off. All in one day, every day. But until I figure out that magic trick, one thing at a time - with gratitude.

Friday, December 11, 2015

No Other Option

A friend reached out to me recently and asked if I was alright. I know I share many things via social media, and I guess my slump was hidden as well as any other emotion I have... in that it wasn't hidden at all.It's this time of year, I suppose. I have a lot of stress right now - mostly little things that have added up rather quickly. I worry often about my folks and their health, and the fact they live by themselves with really no one to help when one of them is sick. My GP said something at my annual physical about my basal cell skin cancer like, "you'll probably start having that pop up more often now." Which is weird, and kind of the opposite of what my dermatologist said - but nevertheless that sucked to hear. We have some other situations that are going on and I am stuck in an incredibly difficult, unfair and hurtful position - and there is nothing I can do about it but grit my teeth and smile. I am not very good at that.

Still, in other ways we have a lot to be thankful for - and I do try to remind myself each day to take time to be thankful for the positives in my life.

I've started planning my race season for next year, and it will look something like this:

Biltmore Half Marathon
Beaverdam Olympic Triathlon
Raleigh Ramblin' Rose
Ironman 70.3 Raleigh
several century charity bike rides
Triangle Open Water swim series
Lake Logan Olympic
Ironman Chattanooga
Gran Fondo Hincapie Medio
Raleigh City of Oaks Half Marathon

Until my doctors tell me to never go into the sun again, I am going to race at least one race a year for the rest of my life.

I will not stop until there is a cure for ALS.

I will raise funds equally for the Blazeman Foundation and ALS-TDI.

It's important - especially when facing difficult situations - to remember life is bigger than you. Other people need us to stand up and be strong, and we can do that for each other. We can do it for ourselves. We can do it for Andrea.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Passing on Seconds

I love me some social media. I enjoy writing on Facebook, I love when people share inspirational, funny stories. I empathize with others when they are hurting. It's a fast way to check in with people I often think about but don't always have the chance to call or text. A quick scroll of the newsfeed tells me that family is doing ok, or needs us to call, and so forth.

But I am a read-between-the-lines kind of person, and I can't turn it off.

The last two months have been a bit roller coaster for me. In this blog post, I discussed my basal cell skin cancer diagnosis. It's been scary, and it isn't my first brush with having a cancer (I had stage zero cervical cancer in 2005). Nor is it my first atypical skin "thing," as several moles that have been removed over the last few years have come back just that - "atypical." "Good thing we got it now, it could have turned into something like melanoma some day."

Great? Thank you? I scan over my body, skin that is covered with freckles. *gulp*

It makes me think my body just wants to get cancer. Then I do the worst of the worst and I read the internet about pH levels, and how some people have a predisposition to cancer because of their pH level - and I KNOW I have weird pH and seem to be more "salty" (which is precisely why Base salt was a lifesaver for me after I discovered it in May), and and and and...

The hypochondriac in me comes out. I don't like her.

Weight gain, being tired, being slow, feeling "weird sinus stuff" (30 Rock reference - I don't really feel weird sinus stuff, but lots of other weird things) when I exercise, heart palpitations (PVCs) - am I dying? Is this what everyone's heart feels like when they exercise? I DO NOT KNOW! WHY DID I NOT DO THIS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER DAMN IT, realizing I don't have a full range of motion in my left arm (which I suspect has always been that way, I just never did anything that required me to use it before swimming), shin pain, foot pain, hip pain, left sinus cavity always being clogged, tooth hurting that I have a crown on and I know it needs a root canal now, belly that sticks out like I am pregnant with an alien from my diastasis recti, my cesarean scar has turned into a keloid that resembles a small garden snake and...

I could go on. Which is, well, kind of insane.Worrying about my folks health. The other day I received a phone call from my brother's house, which rarely happens, and I fully expected he was going to tell me one of my parents died. So that two-minute roller coaster of calling them back while freaking out - but trying not to sound like I am freaking out because it's crazy to assume that when someone calls you, well. That was fun.

Being concerned about both of my kids and their sensory-related issues. Wondering how much I am screwing them up by being, well - me.

Wondering if taking time off teaching really was the right idea (too late for that, though). Should I have kept my career?

Friends - I experienced my first noticeable "unfriend" from someone who was actually a friend, and meh. I mean - it's all stupid, really - the social media aspect, not the actual falling out, but it starts to make you question your friendships and relationships with other people, and where you stand (alone? Shut up, Heather.)

Hating the fact my friend has ALS and that we don't have a cure yet.

Simultaneously aware that my irrational thinking (not the ALS part, that's not irrational, that just plain SUCKS) is 100% hormonal.

But it all came to a head last night when I scrolled through social media and read a tiny, passive-aggressive, quasi-hidden, mean statement by someone who is "Such A Good Person," and I just snapped.

Then I realized I was allowing someone else to control my emotions. Allowing some outside person/thing/event influence me. When I first had my basal cell diagnosis, I reminded myself that no matter what happens, it can't touch my soul - my spirit is ok.

I suppose last night I realized my spirit isn't ok right now. It's disappointed and hurt, and maybe it has been for a while. When you do your best, maybe fall short here and there, but know in your heart you are trying really hard and then BOOM. Snarky passive-aggressive junk - and it just hurts. It just plain hurts.

Hopefully there will come a day that I don't allow others to control my happiness, but it's not easy getting to that place. I suppose it's a victory that I am aware of my weakness - like my left arm - because now the work can begin.

Saturday, December 5, 2015



How many times have I said this phrase in my life, I wonder? As a teacher, there is nothing more rewarding than watching the light-bulb moment, and I had one of those today because of a beautifully written blog by Swim Bike Mom, "Big Picture Discipline."

In it, she describes the difference between being motivated and being disciplined. So many people will say, "I'm not motivated to exercise/eat well," etc.

Well. Truth? Nobody is ever motivated all the darn time. No one is disciplined all of the time, either.

But unmotivated people can still be disciplined.

Ah-HA! I said.


It all made perfect sense. And it places 100% of the responsibility to do or not do ON ME. (And all of this is paraphrased from her blog, please read it).

I woke up bright and early to get everything ready for my son's swim meet this morning, we drove out to it, waited and waited for his 25 yards, and then ...

The kiddo before his 8-U 25 yard freestyle

We picked up coffee on the way home. I wanted to take a nap after we got home, but instead I gave my son a shower, and moved the never-ending laundry from hamper-to-machine-to-basket-repeat. I was tired.But I knew I had two workouts today, and I also knew that I blew off two workouts this week - after a solid two weeks of green boxes.


So, I tied my shoes and ran. A pretty solid Zone 2 run, all things considered. When was I going to swim? My daughter was asleep playing in her bed when I got home from my run, so I opted to go swim right then(-ish).

Finished with the run... onto the swim

Two workouts - done. On a day that quite legitimately could have been devoted to solely spending time with my family...

We even still crafted today! Made necklaces using fine motor skills and everything.

...  and doing chores, I used the time to finish my "job." Because it is a job - I've committed to Ironman Chattanooga, and this journey is dedicated to Team Drea, ALS Research and my family and friends. It needs and deserves my attention. My coach writes me workouts - all specifically leading up to that day. Each one counts.

You will never be motivated to do all the things. But you CAN be disciplined. That's a choice, and one that leads to results. It is just plain important to do, as often as you can.

Thanks as always, Swim Bike Mom!