Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bucket Lists

I remember my first To-Do List. Before I had even started high school I knew I wanted to be a cheerleader, date a jock, be the President of Student Council, and an Editor on Yearbook.

I'm not sure where my proclivity to track things came from but I can't remember a time when I did not have a running log of things to do inside my head.

And as fate/life/planning would have it I managed to check off everything off what could be dubbed my "Sweet Valley High"  list.

By the time I got to graduation I knew I wanted to go to a good school far away, but I had not formulated a To-Do List for college. Which may explain me bailing on the whole higher-ed enterprise once I experienced a curve ball, also known as my oldest son.

Next, was an extended period of No Lists. I had a spouse and children, but I was lost on what I wanted/could accomplish as an adult. Previously I had ideas on what I wanted to be, but since my route to adulthood was decidedly different than my dreams I felt sort of stuck. Like To-Do Lists would no longer be relevant because I hadn't followed a certain path.

Thinking back to my high school self, I recall a vague adult To-Do List that contained running a marathon, marrying and having children, writing books, becoming a newscaster, and owning a large house where my whole family could visit.

Only my definition of things to do has changed so radically since then.

While I still have concrete goals like writing books and owning land, there's no longer a running log in my head. My current To-Do List is more like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.

There are definitely turns I want to take, but I am now more open to the unexpected plot twists than I once was.

I find more value in acknowledging various experiences/goals I'd eventually like to accomplish versus planning out an elaborate road map for my life.

Life happens. Shit happens. Our lives need not follow a "Sweet Valley High" storyline to be well-lived.

I guess you could say this post is really me reminding myself to just live, because the bucket will fill itself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A very Happy Pre-Birthday

Today is the pre-birthday of my lovely mother, Jacqueline.

She is the sweetest woman I know. Her love for her children and family is a never-ending embrace. I can only hope I give the same care and acceptance to my own boys, because its the kind she's always given me. Not to mention she has always been my one woman cheer squad.

I love you forever, Diva Mama :o)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Becoming a better quitter

Ever since I discovered Podcasts in the iTunes store I've been hooked. Especially to all things Freakonomics.

Their most current show was about a peculiar topic: The upside of Quitting.

It seems like an oxymoron, but apparently there is scientific evidence to back up the virtue of letting things go.

Listening to the hosts and professionals discuss the need to know when to cut our losses made me ponder the times I knew I needed to "quit" something, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Whether my pride was saying I'd look like an idiot, or peer pressure was telling I'd look like an idiot.

I can recall vividly ignoring my heart and charging ahead because of fear.

And I'm not sure whether it's age, wisdom, or a natural propensity to quit, but letting go has gotten easier and easier over the last few years. At least in the aspect dropping activities that no longer bring pleasure, knowledge, peace.

Basically the things I really want to do, like write, run, and spend time with my family are more and more important to me. Whereas proving myself to others is not so much anymore.

It's like over the course of this very year I've quit caring what random people may have to say. Especially people who don't know the real me.

Knowing that quiting can measurably increase my wealth, health, and happiness (according to the Freakanomics guest) is enough to take away any "Shame in my game."

I'm actually wondering if there is anything new I need to quit, like attitudes or harmful behaviours. Any habits that need replacing. But like all things worth keeping, those insights will manifest over time.

So in the meantime I'll quit typing and get back to my podcast :o)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cry if I Wanna

After weeks and weeks of preparation and building anticipation I ran and finished the 2011 Chicago Marathon.

My body is healing up pretty well. I can feel my ankles again and my stomach no longer feels like a bottomless pit. My voice is still scratchy, nonetheless, I am a marathon finisher!

When I wrote to the Sun Times requesting entrance to the closed race I put in my essay that training and running a marathon was a solitary task. Something only I could do.

That logic is a bit off the mark. Yes, it was my feet hitting the ground that got me across the finish line, but it was also the care and support of my husband and the training tips from my Run Fairy that made all the difference.

My ankles gave my issues throughout the training process so I was a little concerned about what would happen after 5 hours of running. And sure enough I felt their fury. But seeing my husband pop up every few miles with his "Go LaLa!" sign helped to keep my mind from dwelling on the pain.

When I finally reached mile 24 I was completely spent and knew I wouldn't see Marcus again until after the finish line. Tears started to fill my eyes because  I was so tired both physically and emotionally.

Then I look up and my Fairy Run Mother is standing there with a smile. It was like she had just appeared before my eyes. And she just started talking.

"How are you feeling?" "You're gonna finish this!" "I've got gear for your boys." "You're such a big success!"
 As we made our way (she walking, me limping) toward the 25 mile marker she was whipping up cheers from the crowd to encourage me the whole way.
When I saw the 25 mile line I told her I was going to run it in. She smiled and trotted slightly ahead to clear the way and provide motivation. My Run Mother stayed with me until I got to the final 800 meters and told me to go.

I cried the whole way in. It was the 'ugly cry' so thank goodness my sunglasses acted as a barrier to my face.

But the love I felt from my husband, my fairy, and the city of Chicago made me so full. Achy, but full.

So today is my 29th birthday, but I feel as through Sunday was the real celebration of my 29 years on this earth.

Hey, it was my party....

Friday, October 7, 2011

Helluva Job

"Why not?" said Steve. Why not
live your dream? Why not pursue 
passion, adventure, and spice? Why not
love, laugh, cry, and fail? "Follow
your heart", said Steve. It knows
what you want. Connect the dots.
Experience love and loss. And Death.

Steve Jobs lived a helluva life.
And we must live ours too.

~~Steve Jobs, the Founder of Apple died this week. Most of my life I thought myself to be a PC, but it turns out I'm a Mac. Listening to his words, and revisiting his nuggets of wisdom have been an inspiration. Steve Jobs was passionate about technology and innovation. Wouldn't it be grand if his death continued to spark and drive us toward new frontiers, as his life did?

The prompt for Six Word Friday was: Why Not. The perfect prompt for an awesome guy.~~

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Another day; Another dollar

I've been writing guest posts for my school for a few months now and I always get a little thrill when they go live.

Western Governors University has a completely unique take on education and community. I have never met another student, yet I feel as though we're all connected. Much more so than the other schools I attended.

So after I got the tweet that my most recent post was up I ran and told my grandma (tongue-in-cheek) about "The new post I wasn't getting paid for!" :o)

She smiled, and said "That's okay, baby, cause that's some good writing"

Nothing like a Granny to stroke your ego!
And truthfully, I agree. Not that my writing is so good. But the fact that "It is okay" that I'm not receiving monetary compensation.

All we can think about is the late Steve Jobs today, and he said something that I have felt in my heart for a long time. Below is his quote paraphrased...

"When something gives you pleasure, it may have no measurable merit at the time. The fact that you are curious enough to learn/apply/do something is merit enough. The skills or life lessons we acquire as we're going along tend to pan out and become quite applicable at different points of our lives."

So the musings I write for WGU don't pay cash money, but the exposure, the feedback, the give and take of the community may come in handy somewhere else down the road. The intangibles I am gaining are worth the time and effort.

That's the way with life and relationships. Sometimes you just go along for the joy of the ride. Even if you aren't sure of the final destination.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What don't kill me

I've been resisting this post for about a week now. For the simple fact that I haven't run the actually marathon yet, I feel kinda weird saying what running has taught me.

But I can't get the words out of my head. And when that happens, it means I need to write.

By far the biggest lesson training for this marathon has taught me is the important of just shutting up and putting the miles in. Thinking and philosophising have their respective times and places but out on the trail isn't one of them.

At some point the mind has got to stop and the body has got to go.

I would have never gotten my distance up from 1 mile to 20 miles by thinking about the run, I had to just run. And I was so scared when I started. It seems irrational now, but I was terrified.

Nervous I'd hit the wall, which I haven't. Scared I'd fall and break my ankle, which I haven't. Nervous I'd just could not take the miles, but I have.

I truly have taken the miles.  And no matter what my finishing time is on Sunday Oct. 9, 2011 I know that I really can run and train for a marathon. A marathon that was randomly waiting on my bucket list to be completed before I turned 30.

Running has made me stronger. Not just my legs and lungs, but me.

The lady running 26.2 miles three days before her 29th birthday.