I took my sons (17 &19) to yesterday as the last fun mom & sons / brother & brother thing that we do this summer. I really wish it wasn’t that time because my heart is breaking knowing I only have Johnny for one more week. Part of life but one that I just am not adjusting to easily. I hate this time just as much as the first time last year that we left him. Anyway, I thought it would be a great way for me to do something super brave that they would be proud of and something that would give them a morning full of fun that they will talk about. That it will be. It also turned out to be a learning lesson for me as I found out my youngest son James is afraid of stuff in the air that wobbles. He’s my 225 lb gentle giant who has actually zip lined before. John and I surprised him with this because we thought he would love it. He didn’t. He liked the challenges but hated being high in the air on wobbly wires and wooden planks. He did one full course then decided it was more fun to cheer us on from solid ground. I really felt so bad because now it’s only “fun” for two of us and for me it wasn’t so much fun as a sense of accomplishment overcoming my fears to buck up and dig deep for bravery. I wanted the boys to see, and now especially with James on the ground, what it looks like to be so afraid of something and do it anyway. In fact, when we went up on the most challenging course at the end, I heard James say from the ground “if my mother can be brave, I can be brave”! WOW! Very proud of him for attempting another time by himself. He got half way and had to get down but he faced it on his own terms and tried again. Me, I’m just a stubborn Ukraninan but I did it! I Effing Did it!!! I was so scared, I cried at some points, I took deep breaths but I did it. I climbed vertical rope ladders with wooden round rungs that went straight up 5 feet / 10 feet to a platform that was 20 feet in the air. I ziplined 35 feet in the air (thank God for the canopy of trees below that lessened the look of how far up we were). I walked on wires, holding wires, across a span of 20 feet that was 30 feet in the air. I walked across a wire navigating my way around obstacles. It was a day of dusting off muscles in my head that I haven’t really used much…the ones for creative problem solving and concentration to do a challenge while not looking at it which required looking down which I couldn’t do. I sprained my finger on the last challenge because I wrapped my fingers in the nylon strapping that lowered us to the ground. Not a good idea since when it adjusts for your weight and snaps taught it yanked my finger and probably pulled some ligaments in there. That’s what happens when you’re scared. I couldn’t have done it without my sons. I pulled bravery up from somewhere in my gut to be a good life lesson for them. Johnny stayed with me and waited for me at EVERY obstacle. That’s us right there. In this selfie, the only selfie I could manage, we are about 15 or so feet in the air. If you look between us, there’s a wire. THAT was the kind of wires we were holding on to and ALL we had to hold on to most of the obstacles. No safety net, just two industrial hooks only one of which would lock at a time, strapped to your harness. I actually felt safe in the harness. I don’t look afraid here but I was. I just wasn’t looking down because I was distracted by a moment I needed to get for my memories. Johnny was amazing! He told me how every obstacle was designed, the best way to navigate it, how to stay steady and then went first so I could see it done. He’s not afraid. When he got to the other side He fastened himself then turned and encouraged me on. Just looking at him I felt ok. He just kept telling me that I was doing great and he coached me along what seemed like 1,000 yards to the other side of every obstacle. So grateful he helped me and waited for me with a kiss to the forehead and a “good job mama” when I finished each one. James was my safety net. Hearing him tell me that I was doing good, to keep going and that I was almost there was like having a blanket of courage wafting up from below me to help carry me to the other side. It was like a hug from below and it was the thing when I was at the highest point on the course that made me let go of the tree and try again. Yes, I was a tree hugger …literally! At the highest spots I had to hold the tree because the platform wasn’t super big and fear was poking at me big time. What I liked best about hearing James voice was that he knew how afraid I was…he lived it so his words were the words that someone so fearful, like me, neede to hear. He didn’t tell me not to be afraid because he knew I was and that those words wouldn’t help me move on. John didn’t say them either for the same reason. James didn’t say too much that would distract me, just enough for me to be reminded that I could do it. I am sort of happy that he decided the ground was the place for him because I had Johnny up top with me guiding me and helping me and James below me keeping me steady. God I love my sons so! I’m so lucky!!!
Today I am stiff in places that seem hard to believe have muscles, like across my ribs on my back. Not sure I really think about having muscles there but I clearly do and they are letting me know I irritated them with my little overachieving escapade. Many of my invisible muscles are whining today but it feels good when that happens because I worked another set of muscles to stay strong.
So there are things along this journey to being fitter that are kind of like milestones for me. One is pulling on clothes that I like in a size that makes me smile. Another is when your friends or co-workers tell you that you look good which is always nice. One of my favorite all time motivational smile-infusing happiness-creating things that have happened to me is when my kids tell me nice things without trying to make me feel good. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I know that I look good. Good compared to my old self and the healthiest that I’ve ever been. Good is relative I realize because I understand that I am not shaped like Barbie or the tall and skinnies of the world and that is just fine with me. I am happy with the 161 average weight that I seem to hover over these days because I’m muscular and in fact also shorter at 5′ 4″ tall. This means that I tend to grow out instead of up or evenly distributing my ever fluctuating weight because that’s the law of physics. I will never be Jessica Rabbit or have Heidi Klum’s legs sadly. I’m me and I know my boundaries and I’m fine with them. My job is managing all of that within the confines of the fitness routine I put in and keeping it all in check to stay between 150-165 roughly. I am always striving to get to the bottom of that range but truthfully I don’t care if I never see the big one-five-oh again. I work out and I work out pretty regularly, by choice and sometimes twice a day. It’s a little bit of an addiction and definitely a habit for sure. Something I’m just always working on like Mr. Holland’s Opus, just not ever done. I want to live to the crazy age of 96 so this is a good path to help me get there.
Now nothing and I mean nothing means more to me in this world than my kids. It is super important that they are proud of me and want to be with me and talk to me and hug me and hopefully always like my kisses! I hope they always tell me about their days be it good or crappy. I would die if I couldn’t be with and around them. They are just awesome! So, in the flow of two conversations recently, one with each son (19 and 17 respectively), we were discussing super skinny something or other and I said to one son that if whatever the statement were, was true I’d be super skinny. His answer melted me to pause my thought and compose my fast melting self. He said “You are super skinny Mom.” and he kept moving on with his thoughts about whatever it was that we were talking about. He wasn’t looking for accolades or a hug or even a response. It was his honest opinion. PAUSE: my son thinks I’m super skinny! woo hoo! On another day not long thereafter I was talking to the other son about something weight related (not necessarily mine) and whatever I said it prompted him to say “well it’s harder to get any smaller than you Mom, you work out all the time.” and he too proceeded to add to the conversation as if he had just said “the sky is blue”.
There it was again from a different source. From the one who wouldn’t sugar coat something to make you feel good (that’s his father in him). They both simply had said what they believed to be true which was like getting the best race bling ever! For those of you who do not know I am a medal whore. I Race for the prize because why should I not be rewarded for running for 2+ hours right? As I reflected on these thoughts that my sons had about me, it occurred to me that I have reached a personal milestone in my healthy lifestyle endeavor in this life. I have achieved the admiration of my kids who are proud of me for all this crazy hard work that I do. It’s become so much a part of who I now am that they don’t question it as being Mom’s new workout habit but more like part of what their Mom does. Some mom’s garden (I do that too) and some Moms do crafts and some Moms drive trucks. My kid’s Mom cooks great meals, sings new words to old songs, runs in the rain, would do anything for her kids to be happy and she also does fitness and that’s cool to them. I couldn’t have gotten two better compliments in the world than those two matter of fact statements made in passing by my sons.
Well, that was longer than expected but sometimes they are. Remember that there are those moments that tell you that you’ve arrived that you have to cherish and lock away for the days where you feel like you aren’t doing anything right. They are the moments that motivate us and push us to strive for more every day.
So my friends and I finished the “Run The Year” challenge yesterday. We did all the miles on our own mostly although cumulatively we did some together in race miles and some fun miles too. The last 12 miles we did as a group and it was just great! It was 3 easy miles at breathing pace so we could talk and laugh and just make the most of something fun that we did together. When we finished we took a picture with our medals and felt accomplished and good about ourselves as individuals and as a new group of friends who most definitely will do other things together. We went to dinner, laughed and shared stories and future goals and had ourselves a little celebration of ourselves.
I really like running with friends and feel like I could do so much more with them than I could alone. One of us is a super athlete having run marathons, triathlons, iron man races, brave unique races and just some crazy things. She makes me feel bold and is the reason I consider running something further than a half marathon. Another of us used to smoke like a chimney and has come back from ill health to someone who reminds me that I can achieve anything I set my mind to do. The last of our quartet is someone who makes reminds me that no one can take my cookies away from me and that I deserve to do anything I want to do because this is my life. You see my friends, although they may not know it, are the glue and strength in my everyday life. Each day I know them I realize how fun life can be and how much I have needed friends. These ladies are my special friends and my crazy friends and my supportive friends. They make me strong, make me laugh, keep me realistic but brave and are the piece to my puzzle that has been missing. I love my girls because I am a better person because I know them.
We are the Bad Ass B’s!
Today I ran a 10 Mile race with my friends. It was awesome having friends with me. We didn’t run together much but just having them there was amazing and invigorating and so freaking happy! We are all different in so many ways but runners are wonderful people with an amazing comraderie even to strangers. Today I had something happen to me that I’ve always feared. I missed the turn markers. This race was less than stellar in terms of most everything and the weather did a torrential downpour on us half way through. It would have been ok but my watch and phone are cracked so water is NO BUENO! So I was running respectable splits and would have hit my target finish time of sub 1:40:00 but I missed one of the turn markers. All of a sudden in the pouring rain while trying to keep my watch dry and jump big puddles and not get hit by a car I found myself all alone. I thought maybe I would see another runner around the corner but no…. I looked back and there was one of the girls I had met who came with one of my friends so I thought I was on the right track. I kept running until a woman in a truck stopped me to tell me that the runner behind me asked her to tell me i missed a turn. MISSED A TURN! uugghhhh! I thanked her and started back and it was my new friend that I met earlier at the start of the race. She stopped her race to get me back to mine. Only runners would do this.
This mishap is something that I have always dreaded. What would I do? Well now I know so it’s not so scary anymore. I have my new friend to thank for that. She’s a runner and we smile and say hello, cheer eachother on, pick eachother up, pat eachother on the back when things go wrong and we look out for eachother no matter what. I don’t know how long I would have kept running in that direction but it was far less because she stopped and helped me. It’s one of my favorite things about running. We support each other. So my overall time for 10 miles was more than I wanted but less than it could have been on the flip side. I’ll take that! I spent time with familiar smiling faces that mean the world to me and I met new friends and I’ll take that too! These ladies, this sport mean the world to me. I am so happy I started running! I love you all!
Today as I was on my regular run I decided to run slower than my body probably would have taken off without direction. I ran slower because one of my running friends asked me if I ever run slow. Well the answer to that is yes but lately it’s no. So being funny or at least trying to I purposely ran close to a 10 minute mile for the 3 that I put up today. I told her it was for her and it amused her which was my intent. I have to say that I love my running friends because they keep me realistic, super motivated and brave. Without them I would run too fast all the time, would not vary my workouts and would be way too hard on myself. My friends encourage me and cheer for me when I do something successful and they never poo-poo even the small success’. My friends always have a story of something I have not yet and may not experience that teaches me what to look for and how to handle those things. My friends have prepared me for bad runs because they have been there. My running friends are the people who are now my friends who I love talking to, running with and have a lot in common. They are my confidants, my voices of reason and my cheerleaders. My friends sign up for races because I get all excited about running them and they don’t mind when I send them stupid meme’s in the middle of the day just because I thought they were funny. They are my voice of reason and they pretty much just accept me for who I am, quirks and all! I thought about them as I ran today and was just thankful to have them to share my running life in part. They are funny, crazy, tolerant, understanding, encouraging, brave, bold, daring and so many other words that inspire me every day. Some I have known longer than others but each of them is just as important to me and all for very different reasons under the same umbrella.
So here’s a cheer to my running friends who are my extended family and deserve a thank you for keeping me going every day. I love each of you for all that you are to me and for listening to my incessant ramblings that always are about fitness and having fun. You are good sports and I’m happy to call you my friends!
Do you have people that share in your passion?
Day 4 in the backwoods of VA and it finally arrived. My threshold for when I start to miss my family. I love it here because it’s serene and beautiful and it’s the only time i will spend with my parents and sister perhaps for another year. Life is busy and I come as often as I can but it’s starting to feel like a lifetime between visits now that my dad is getting older. I knew it would eventually show up, tugging at my heart at some point making me homesick for the things that keep me busy, drive me crazy and helped prompt me to come down in the first place. I love my life and all the craziness it brings but sometimes I just want to get away from it so I can’t do it. So I have to do nothing but sit and reflect on it. Maybe it’s God’s way of giving me perspective and appreciation for those things so that I don’t become bitter or obsessive in a bad way. Maybe I needed a break, in fact I know I did. My son’s Eagle project is making me mad and I’m too involved. Time to step away Brenna. Maybe I came because my father has been diagnosed with the onset of Dementia and I want to spend some time with all his quirky annoying habits while he remembers me. Maybe I just miss my mother and my sister. Either way I’m here again and happy to be so. I’m enjoying it but home is now calling. Four days in and now I’m waking up in the middle of the night texting them that I miss them and lying awake wishing I could hug them. I especially miss my sons, James in particular because I can’t talk to him or text him so there’s just nothing there. He’s away with the Scouts and they aren’t allowed electronics during their trips so it’s like going cold turkey with him and I’m not a fan. I think about all of them on my peaceful runs every morning, hoping they have happy days and good experiences. I talk to my daughter and husband every day which is comforting. I started off thinking about my life during my morning runs on these quiet roads but now in just these few days it’s drifted to thoughts of my wonderful family and about how much I love and now miss each of them. Well, I suppose if I didn’t think about them or miss them that would be a different problem that would need solving. Perhaps I could work that out on the road too as I have worked so many things through out there. I feel like I can solve anything by just throwing my running shoes on and heading out for a nice long run. They weren’t kidding when they came up with the slogan that running is cheaper than therapy! The great road is wise and strong and comforting for me and as I have many times I will step out there seeking it’s solace to self medicate through running. As much as I like the peaceful roads of VA I will be happy to once again to be on the rural roads of Mass. I love running no matter where I am.