Today I feel like Cinderella reflecting on her wonderful evening at the Ball! Last night I went to a show at Symphony Hall! I have never been there and was in sheer awe at every detail of the building’s exterior, the interior and the hall itself. The doors were leather with brass riveted fastenings, the details adorning the walls and ceilings and staircases alike were amazing. The rugs were brilliant and royal and soft as I walked on them. The front doors all open wide under the lit overhang which sat beneath the majestic flags that hung high near the roofline were welcoming and the staff with smiles on their faces stood at every door welcoming guests and assisting us to our seats. It was absolutely the most beautiful building I’ve ever been in in my life. As I sat in that brilliant hall in my seat watching just an incredible show I had something pop into my head that will be on my bucket list for sure. I want to dance in Symphony Hall! If I had my way, I would have been brave enough to try it, waiting for everyone to leave but that isn’t really feasible without some serious strings. It’s actually more like a pipe dream from a combination of chick flicks out there that I’ve seen so many times. In my fantasy the lights would be low, the tables and chairs would be cleared, the POPs would have stayed in their seats playing a dancing tune and my love would have led me to the middle of the floor for a dance while the Symphony Hall staff looked on thinking how lovely we looked.
Back to reality. Things like that only happen in the movies but wouldn’t it be so wonderful if it actually happened? I think so and I plan on finding a way to indeed Dance at Symphony Hall! EEJANAIKA (Japanese for What The Hell) you might be thinking. Is this even related to Running? The answer is actually yes! This blog is mostly associated with running and fitness but it is also associated with having goals and being brave and being motivated which is more where this particular blog fits in. I owe this bucket list addition to running in fact. It is because of running that I feel like I can actually have a dream about dancing at Symphony Hall. I am in shape now and I can dance and I now also feel comfortable in pretty clothes and flowy dresses that aren’t boxy that show off my much better shape. Running has given me the confidence to even think that I would want to or could do that, a gift that just keeps on giving! Running has made me brave enough to have a bucket list and feel worthy of believing that I can do these things. Running has given me a believe that I can and should experience amazing things. I love running and all that it brings me…friends, happiness, confidence, strength, tenacity, motivation, memories and an updated bucket list!
PS: Someday I WILL dance at Symphony Hall, twirling round and round in a flowy dress and pretty dancing shoes to the music of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The lights down low glowing off the gold frosted walls of two tiers of balconies, caressing and flowing over ornately crafted walls and a ceiling that are intricately and delicately designed to catch and release light, memories and dreams.
Yesterday’s race is now over. It was decent race in that it was flat for the most part and flat is preferable in my opinion. It was on a military base with big buildings and not many trees so the scenery wasn’t “spectacular” in any way. It was a cold day to start. I contemplated a few times before we started putting on my Fabletics leggings for warmth and for their great compressive support. Maybe that’s why my knee is a bit more sore than I expected. I decided in the end that it was going to warm up enough that I would regret that decision so I stayed in my outfit which matched Barbara’s. I preferred looking cute anyway LOL. I did in fact warm up. This race I ran for fun not time so I ran at what I refer to as breathing pace and stopped twice for a potty break. I didn’t have an agenda or a time to beat and in fact I thought about the rest of my day most of the way through all 13.1 miles. I enjoyed myself not having any pressure or goal. At this point in my life that is the way I feel like I want to continue my running life, just for fun. It was breezy and we were running into that headwind several times throughout the course but it was manageable. I found my joy in giving high 5’s to the kids handing out the water, talking to other runners and just taking my time on a beautiful sunny day. I finished in 2:14 by my watch but 2:16 according to the official racing time which is probably because of the potty stops I paused my Garmin for. I knew going into this race that it was going to be the slowest race for me and I was ok with that. I felt badly for my friend who had some challenges that caused her to have to walk at the end. James and I waited for her and I ran her into the finish which was fun. I was happy to be sitting while she made her way to the finish line. I was in the sun keeping warm, sitting with my son who is my best cheerer and enjoying the day.
Why Do We Race? It’s a long way to run not only for me who only ran 13.1 but for anyone to run. Every time I run a half marathon I reevaluate my bucket list marathon and wonder what is wrong with me. I’m so happy when I’m done and usually at mile 10 or 11 I’m counting the steps until I can stop. Running puts some big stress on the body and the after effects the older you get are harder and harder to handle. I’m not complaining, I’m just reflecting. Post race aches and pains are normal. My right leg is sore and my right foot hurts mostly because of the bunion I’ve been blessed with. Basically my body aches, my intestines are definitely squawking these days when I run 10+ miles so I will be glad to have a day off today. I’m not happy about that because I took Saturday off too. It needs to be done though because I feel tired everywhere. Yesterday my right knee was protesting when I had stairs to do too. I had signed up 8 months ago for this one because I was panicked that my son was leaving for college. I really feared not seeing him and thought if I could run a race down by URI I could have an excuse to go see him. In hindsight I see / talk to him much more than I thought but that was my motivation to which I sucked my running friend Barbara into doing with me. Outside of the physical hurdles that come post race, I will say the post race food was not impressive. I am not sure what I expect really but open food like pretzels left in bins for any sweaty or dirty hands to touch kinda grosses me out. I don’t want frito’s or cookies but some runners do. Salt is good post race, maybe I just didn’t want it yesterday. I also was a little disappointed by the medal. As you may or may not know I am a medal whore and really sign up mostly for the bling. I mean if I’m going to run all that way I want a good reward. Whatever, it’s done.
Ok, enough of the things that kinda sucked. The good things were first and foremost, my son James came with me and took pictures of me heading out which made me so happy!! He was also there as I turned the last corner to the finish and suddenly I wasn’t tired and I had so much energy. I shouted out to him and ran to him and he ran me into the finish line. THE BEST!!! The second best thing about yesterday was that I got to run the race with my friend Barbara. I love running races with her because she’s positive, realistic, honest and usually always happy. She worries about the same things I do in race preparation too. It’s so nice to not be alone and the more I run with her, the more I enjoy racing. The third bonus to the day was seeing my son John! We went to see him, watched some movies, had some lunch, had the best pizza for dinner and then headed home to crash. SO tired last night! All in all it was a great day! Thank you to Barbara for signing up to do the race with me….she is doing another half marathon in 6 days (EEEEWWWW) so she’s my hero! Thank you to James for getting up so early and being my best cheerer ever! I love you both!
Today I am grateful for this…my sons in my house. My oldest is on my couch and my other son is sitting hanging out . Johnny started college in September and lives away and I miss him a lot. James i get to see every day and that is wonderful. I took this picture initially because I was so happy to be able to see them together all comfy on my couches but then it dawned on me that I should be grateful for another reason on this day. It occurred to me that my son is home. He didn’t enlist so he was never really away but as I enjoy him being home and my other son sitting next to him some mothers don’t get that today. Some miss their sons as they are away and some miss their babies who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I am so lucky and so grateful. As I sit here eating my banana and drinking my coffee with the ability to do whatever I want today, I say Thank You to all the veterans alive today and those passed on for sacrificing so I may sit here enjoying my sons and the semblance of my normalcy and happiness in a free world of this great nation. As I ran today I ran further than my normal 3 miles as a little sacrifice. It was only 4 so nothing amazing but it was hilly so it felt like a sacrifice I guess. I thought about those who couldn’t run today and ran for them. I thought about those who make my world free and ran in thanks and smiled knowing that I was going home to see my sons and that freedom doesn’t come cheap to others who provide it to me. I am the luckiest person in the world right now.
Sometimes life is so simple that when you have these moments of realization amidst the challenges that we face and the day to day tasks we take on, it stops us in our tracks. I saw a video of at an awards ceremony recently and his little 3 minute speech was one of those moments for me. I stopped to think about it. In life there are 3 things that motivate him which we all should give thought to and define for ourselves.
- We should have someone to look up to
- We should have something to look forward to
- We should have someone to chase (who is your hero)
These things seem so simple yet they are probably the three things we think about least. Life is truly very simple when we step away from the craziness that we invoke upon ourselves each day. We must work to eat and pay bills. We have children who have the luxury of doing a million things that add to the busy life we call hectic. Those activities inevitably cost money and our hysterically boisterous commotion of a life just keeps going in circles while we wonder why we don’t have what we want. Step away from that and define these three things for yourself and suddenly what you “need” will rise to the surface and lay a much more clear path to getting it. There are nice to have’s and need to have’s and as a people we misclassify wants as needs, getting lost in a process the is superfluous at best. Why do we refocus when people die using phrases like “life is short” or “I wish I had”? If we define our 3 things there will be less use of these statements because our focus will be much clearer.
These three things in part are what I think about when I run. The road is a place for me to work shit out. To think about my life and where I am going and how I am getting there. I think a lot about priorities and try to de-clutter my mind with woulda coulda shoulda or things I don’t have to focus on what I do have. I think a lot about what if I chased what I don’t have, would the grass really be greener or would I just realize that the sun was shining brighter at that moment over the fence. Most likely the latter is true and I come back to center to appreciate all I have remembering what is really important in my life. Running has been good to me in many ways. It has reshaped a misshapen me in mind, body and spirit. It has been my amazing therapist, councilor and friend in good and bad times and I owe my life to running quite literally.
Whether you run or not doesn’t matter. Yes, I think everyone should have some level of fitness, however the more important thing is finding your 3 things and simplifying your life. Life is short and you should appreciate and enjoy it not just on occasion but every single day and give thanks for all you have. Today is a great day to begin anew. You just need to take the first step.
Today I realized that there is one thing I love most about running…it’s the other runners. Not just seeing them but running over to a complete stranger and high fiving them. This elicits the biggest smile from them and that makes me so happy! I love seeing people who are tired and struggling and sweaty break out in this gigantic smile that probably stays with them for the entire day because it falls into the category of “just cuz” which is priceless. It is understood between runners what each is going through as we run. We understand that it’s hard and fun and a sacrifice. We know we love it, hate it and are hopelessly devoted to it without having to say one word in discussion. Runners understand and we help each other to be strong and never give up. I love running and days like today that just cannot be ordinary when begun with miles and smiles!
This year for my Birthday I got the usual birthday wishes and kisses and some super thoughtful gifts. Gifts that my kids for the first time purchased all by themselves without prompting or being given money. Most of them work now so they have their own money. Although I did love the gifts, it was something else that made me so happy. Something that I feel will be the thing I remember about 47. It was what they wrote in the cards they bought that makes me love them even more.
My daughter wrote how happy she is that I am her mom and how much it meant to her that I loved her gifts. I always love them but she thought of them so I imagine it means more because of that. All the firsts of motherhood came with her and that is something only the first child can claim. So many firsts that I tried to make a big deal of and cheer about and encourage. Many hard days had me wondering if she thought I was a good mom even on the days where I was the “Mean Mom”… she did think that and every kiss and every word she wrote in my card tells me I am so lucky that she was my first child. The one who imprinted what mother – child love is and helped me to love my sons like only a mother can. Thank you Katy for being my first baby!
My youngest son wrote how lucky he feels to have me as his mother and how spoiled he feels he is because of what I sacrifice to make sure they are well cared for and yes, spoiled. Sometimes I have wondered over the years if they know how much I try to give in the day to day so they will someday realize as they have children that A) it can be done B) it is a sacrifice made from love. As I read those words I realized, he knows. So much love reading those words that were unsolicited and written in the neatest print with thought and care to each thing he wanted to say. Thank you James for noticing and appreciating and being the best last baby I could ever ask for. You have taught me so much about love and perseverance and being tough. I admire you and I am a better person because of you.
What my oldest son wrote touched me most. He is headed to college in the fall and I am dreading it. I miss him already and worry about him because I won’t be there. Not because I feel like he can’t take care of himself because I know he can and will…I just feel sad that he’ll be without his family and I’ll be without him for days on end…perhaps weeks. What he wrote made me cry tears of happiness because I know he’s ready to leave and be on his own and I helped prepare him for that. The son who still calls me Mama, maybe because he knows I love it so, wrote three things that to me are the foundational successes that you want your children to reach.
He wrote that he is not “scared” to leave because he feels I did a good job preparing him to be out in the world. He wrote that he knows that I helped him be the man that he WANTS to be (not the man he could be) who is as caring about others as he is of himself. Good boy..you make me so proud. He also wrote that although he will be away from his home that he will always come back to his “safe place” and that he knows the door is open always. I just smile thinking about these thoughts that he wrote in my birthday card. He must know how hard his leaving is for me even though I try not to dwell on it. I don’t want him to be sad. Apparently it’s all ok but he knows in his heart and somewhere deep down I think he’ll be sad about leaving me too. I will miss him so. You are my first son Johnny and you have taught me how to never give up and to be strong and have goals. I began running because I knew you would never let me give up and that I should be strong for you and your sister and brother. You came with me on that first mile and didn’t leave my side and helped me finish something that I don’t know if I would otherwise have. You inspire me.
As I think about all the words from my children I realized that I helped to create a home for my children where they feel safe from all the sadness and hurt that the world can sometimes deliver. They know they can come home and find peace from troubles, smiles to replace frowns and well a home cooked meal any day of the week. I have loved my first 20+ years as your mother and I can’t wait to see the next 20 as you travel the road of adulthood. God has been good to me because he gave me each of you who helps me in different ways every minute of every day. There was a time when I wondered if I should be a mom…now there is absolutely no doubt that motherhood is the greatest gift of all. I sang it to each of you from the moment I knew you were coming and at every opportunity I could and now I know that each of you knows that you are truly My Sunshine.
I guess I don’t subscribe to what the world thinks Mother’s Day should be. Some go out to breakfast or lunch. Some plant flowers or go to concerts or go on shopping sprees. Perhaps I didn’t get the memo but I don’t want those things on Mother’s Day. I want something that can’t be wrapped but stays with you forever. I want the one thing that is in short supply…time. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting new plants that I can plant in my yard and I love cards, more if they are homemade. I love kisses and mothers day hugs with wishes for a wonderful day that come with a smile. I don’t want to “do nothing” and relax or spend the day all alone. I don’t care about trips or shopping on Mother’s Day and I definitely don’t want to go to some crowded restaurant to wait for a meal for an hour.
On Mother’s Day I want to see my children for the day. I want to cook for them and sit with them and talk to them about everything going on in their worlds. I want to sit and watch movies all crowded up on the bed that once fit us all so snugly but now is smaller because they have grown so much. I want to sit in my yard around a fire roasting marshmallows or having moments sitting in a hammock quietly with them saying nothing. I want help with the dishes and picking up after we eat without being asked. I want to watch a mean game of ping pong on the porch and I want to be the reason they say no to invites elsewhere on these holidays. I want to bake goodies and have them steal some behind my back/ in front of my face and giggle when I swat them away. I want the thing that is slipping away most…time. I want their time and smiles and laughter. I have been taking care of them since they took their first breath in and this is what brings me the most happiness and it is what I want to do on Mother’s Day.
It’s not about the gifts, it’s about the time. This year I had a day to get my house in order from months of neglect as responsibilities had everyone away from home and busy during the day. This actually was peaceful and made me appreciate their absence. I had moments to just think about how much I love my kids and what they mean to me. I restored order to my world so I can move onto the next thing and then I went for a run and felt happy and healthy too. I ran off the sadness that has been creeping in as I think about my son at the pinnacle of his youth getting ready for senior prom and graduation and going away to college. I know he’s not going far but he won’t be there every day and not seeing him every day will be most hard for me. I ran that sadness right out of me because I hate when it creeps in. I always feel better after a run. A shower later I had an hour rest and then I cooked a great meal for everyone. Cooking for my family makes me happy because they can’t wait to chow down whenever I cook and especially when I bake. My Mother’s Day was lovely and it ended just the way I wanted it to, with me and the kids all crowded on a bed that doesn’t really fit us that well anymore as we huddled together and watched a movie that we didn’t make it through. We were so tired and we dozed off but we were together and my heart was filled with joy and THAT is what Mother’s Day means to me.
I will make an addendum here to admit that I do like presents when I get them, I just don’t want the day to be about that. It’s not about what you get that you unwrap, it’s about love and thoughtfulness and time spent together just to enjoy one another. Anyway, my wonderful Daughter Katy brought me an unbelievable hanging plant and a pretty wind chime with a butterfly that flaps its wings if you give it a little bounce. It made me smile because not only was it a butterfly that has come to be a symbol for my life, but because it made her SO proud to have picked it out and given it to me. It is just like the little candle she made for me one early morning at 4am when she was four which she dragged me out of bed to see. As I grumbled about the hour and how she needed to go back to bed because it was too early to be up….when I got to the kitchen I cried like a baby when she said “I made it for you” and I saw the beautiful little delicate wax bead candle that she made for me for no reason at all other than she loves me. THAT is what filled her face as she gave me those things.
On Mother’s Day I see the candle and the little clay bear that sits on my kitchen shelf that was made with love and given with pride and a big fat hug and kiss and “I love you” by my son. I see the pictures drawn by my second son that hang on the wall like an art museum. These are the things I cherish on Mother’s Day and every day. Jim Croce said it best: