Mommy in Pieces

Just a mom that wears a cape under her street clothes.

A Little Challenge

I don’t often feel like have two amazing boys with Autism means that I am missing out on many parenting experiences.  However, there has been this one place in my heart that hurts deeply.  When I see the pictures of my friends with children that have donned a hat and uniform.  Parents that witness that first connection of bat and ball.  The quintessential American sport of baseball.   Sitting on the bleachers in the warm spring sun, cheering despite missed hits and jumping like a crazy person when they get their hit.  I had written that all off, that it wasn’t in the cards for my boys.

I am so lucky to be proved wrong!  We are blessed to have our own Challengers Baseball League in our backyard.  A BIG strong league of so many children of different abilities.  District 31 has been around for more that 20 years and has helped so many kids feel the grass and dirt and know the joy of making that out!

Yesterday was opening day.  While it was a little on the chaotic side what with wheelchairs and stimming and family members wanting to get that perfect picture, I was impressed at the amazing support being poured out for these kids.  There were buddies everywhere!  Typical kids and teens and adults to help everyone work on their skills and play the game.  I was stunned when I was shooed off the field to go “sit, relax, and watch the game!”  That may have been the best treat of it all!  I got to observe!!!  I got to actually sit and watch Ben have the experience!  There was someone else there to do hand over hand guidance.  There were plenty of people to redirect him when the perfect shine of the sun caught his attention.  And there here hundreds of pair of eyes watching and cheering him on as he stepped up to the plate for the very first time!

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The ball and bat may have been plastic.  But when he connected that bat to the ball on the stand with minimal assistance, you could see a connection happening within him.  He was happy.  He was proud.  He was doing something that millions of other children, typical or not, have been doing since the invention of the game.  The pure joy on his face when he was told to run.. I wish I could just bottle it!  I was even more amazed when he got to first base and actually STOPPED!

On his second round of the bases he got waved home.  My sweet boy, who couldn’t tell you how to play baseball, who can barely catch and throw could understand the importance of what he was about to do.  He was going to run home.  He was going to score for his team.  His excitement was so huge he couldn’t keep his feet on the ground!  He practically flew home.

Photo Apr 26, 4 11 45 PMIt is not often that I get too see Ben excited to this level.  Joy and happiness erupting from every inch of him.  I have not been able to wipe away the feeling of thanksgiving and pride.  My boy… the baseball player!

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My Biggest Mistake

At first glance you would say, “Why yes!  Your biggest mistake has clearly been your lack of writing on your blog!”

But I would beg to differ.  My absence from the web presence has been purely out of need for the simplification of life.  The soul crushing, self imposed pressure that I felt to produce writing added much welcomed to stress to an already full plate.  So I took a break.  Granted, that break lasted much longer than I had intended it to, but it was an incredibly gratifying experience.

My break gave me the opportunity to practice saying no.

  • No – I will not take time to write a blog post.
  • No – I will not be able to join the choir this Sunday.
  • No – We will not be attending (fill in the blank) event.

That freedom and strength to say so was liberating.4775707566_3e8aeae765_b

Before I began saying now, I was on the run ALL the time.  A meeting here, an appointment there, a commitment somewhere else.  Always feeling obliged to say yes and help out for fear that if people stopped asking me, I was stop existing.  My self worth was tied to the feeling of being needed.  I feared floating away from this terrestrial sphere if I didn’t have the weight of commitment to hold me down.

And do you know what happened?  Exactly what I feared.  No one needed me.  There were no inquiries from adoring fans about the lack of blog posts.  The choir continued to sing beautifully and glorify the Lord every Sunday.  And events and happenings continued to be held.  The world didn’t miss my presence.

However, something magical happened.  I had more time.  I had more energy.  My children flourished.  In the last year, both have had amazing growth in their language and social skills.  We go more places together.  And the BEST part… more tickling matches!  There is more time to just “be”.  To just exist and stop and smell the roses.  There is a peace to our household.  If something doesn’t get done today, its ok!  We have time tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong.  We do not live completely sanitized of schedule and structure.  I still cling like a life line to my calendar and check it feverishly every morning.  But now, the days are filled with trips the park, play dates, and new experiences.  The boys do the best when then have a predictable structure and routine to follow.  But knowing from day to day that there will be fun things to look forward to, has made them more able to “go with the flow” when Mommy has some crazy idea to try.

I miss the buzzing around.  The crazy hectic life.  I certainly miss that feeling of being needed and wanted by others.  I hunger for that validation I feel when only I can help.  But when I really step back and look at my life, I am not missing anything at all.  My biggest mistake was not learning to say “No” sooner.  The sound of laughter and love have been my biggest rewards.

Demons Be Gone

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I was the girl that ALWAYS looked for the excuse.  Tried to find a way to explain away my unhealthy life.  Felt a calling and a magnetic pull to the couch and the TV.  I could come up with a million reasons at the drop of the hat as to why I was overweight; genetics, my knee, I tried hard…..

 

1381960_10151945025045871_200699152_n(1)I cant tell you the exact moment that I decided that enough was enough, it was a gradual awakening.  I laced up my shoes, chose healthy over what I “thought” I wanted.  I walked, then I jogged, then I ran!  I have completed races that my own community said that I would fail at.

Last night.. the old demons surfaced.  I was tired, I wanted sweets, I was stressed out by life and my kids.  It was late, there was a wild storm raging, the treadmill had stuff on it, there was TV to watch…  But, I put on my shoes, I put on my workout clothes.  Stepped on to the treadmill that I hadn’t used since I had gotten it for free a few months ago.   The sound of the motor so loud in my second floor apartment, I wanted to turn it off.  The pounding of my steps echoing…  I thought for sure the folks downstairs would call animal control to report a heard of elephants had taken up residence on the second floor.  Then the coup de grâce, I discovered the belt on the treadmill itself was slippery.. I kept sliding.  My face felt a magnetic pull to the display console.  Every time I tried to pic up the pace to get into a run, gravity tried to have its way with me.  I REALLY wanted to quit.  Instead, I increased the incline, kicked up the speed to a fast walk and climbed and held on for dear life!!  I think that I even got a decent arm workout!

2miles of up hill climb, sweating buckets, I had fought back the weight of excuses drawing me back to a sedentary existence. Never give up.  No Excuses.  Making the hard choices for an even better future.

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Every Day I’m Hustlin’

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We have made it through the first 10 days of the year! How ya’ll feeling? It feels like it flew.. Next thing you know we will be rolling up our sleeves to dig into February. Heck, the stores already have the pink and white going for Valentine’s Day! My Christmas decorations just barely got to storage!

We are about 1/36th the way through the year. Now it doesn’t feel like so much! There is still a lot of year to be had!

January has brought a lot of new things to my calendar in the form of challenges. I am involved with 3 and I love that they are all tied together with a wonderful thread of continuity.

The first challenge is hosted by one of my favorite authors and social media gurus, Jon Acuff. I am participating in his 30 Days of Hustle project. Combine the power of social media, good will, and proper goal setting, and you get 30 days of amazing stories, new personal connections from around the world, and amazing goal completion. People’s goals are varied; some related to their avocations and some to their vocations, health, running, family togetherness. But the common core of all of them is improvement. It is an amazing community to check in with each day and got my spiritual tank topped off, while restoring my faith in the humanity that swells around us.

My goal for these 30 days is very simple: run 30 miles. Sounds simple enough! I am coming off of post race blues and some difficulty with my IT Band. I had not run since Thanksgiving Day when I ran my worst race ever. It was time to pick myself up, dust off the kicks, and get the rubber to the road. If I ran 3 times a week and averaged 2.27 miles per run, I would meet my goal……

Introducing Challenge #2: Another Mother Runner‘s Mother’s Day Challenge!  This challenge begins on Monday the 13th!  A group of really amazing women have all come together virtually to train for a 10k or a 1/2 Marathon.  I have chosen to tackle my 2nd Half Marathon.  I will be taking part in the Long Island Half Marathon on May 4, 2014.  The course for this race will be very similar to the course that I ran for my first Half Marathon.  I will be attempting to improve my time from the first race.  It is going to be a long, uphill battle to get back up to running that distance again and I will need to be working on improving the rest of me along the way and to help me meet that goal…..

Introducing Challenge #3: The Perfect Pair Kettlebell Challenge  Thanks to the evil genius at Kettlebellworkouts.com , I will be spending some major quality time with my 10lb.s kettlebell and my yoga mat.  With consecutive ladders or kettlebell swings and push ups, my arms and core will be getting the same torturous treatment that my leg are getting!

 

I have a feeling that my body, mind, and soul are going to get a major workout!!!

Pursuing The Finish

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At the beginning of each year, it is hard not to set a New Year’s Resolution.  It is all over the media, your friends and family are talking about it, its tradition.  It becomes difficult to fight the peer pressure of setting that annual, often quickly broken expectation for the year.

There is a term for the influx of new people at the gym.  Regular sweaters call the newbies “Resolutioners”.  The regulars feel disdain for the newbies.  They use the machines that they want to use.  They don’t follow the unwritten rules of the gym.  They generally just get in the way.  The regulars want the resolutioners to go away and as history has shown us, 92% of them will.

Just 8% of resolutions make it the full year.  ONLY 8%!

This year I have fought the peer pressure and have not set a resolution.  I will not give up diet soda, or chocolate.  I won’t work out more, or lose 100 pounds.  I don’t need the added pressure to my life.  Instead of a resolution, this year I have a “theme”.  I will be working on multiple  small goals that are all connected to the common theme of “Finishing“.

I have a list of tasks and projects that have been left undone.  I have goals to be accomplished.  There are things that I have started repeatedly and have never finished.  One by one, I will be working to make list of the uncompleted smaller.

I am happy to report that I have already crossed oneIMG_5709 item off of my list.  The elusive Sudoku book.  I have NEVER finished an entire Sudoku book.  It gets lost, ruined, or thrown out before all of the numbers are carefully entered.  I made it my first mission of finishing in 2014.  It was liberating to turn the page to that last puzzle.  Puzzle 117.  For years I had pondered what that moment of finishing would feel like.  It was hard to fill in the last few squares, but it felt empowering all the same.   It was so great to take something off the “finishing list!”

There are two more things up next on the mission of finishing.  First a blanket that was started in 2010.  I am only 9 long rows from being done.

The second is a far more challenging goal.  I desire to finish a chap stick, to keep a tube from being lost or sent through washer before I reach  the very end!  Has this ever been done?  I polled everyone in my office and according to my data, this would be a first!!!

Heres to 2014, the year of finishing.  (And soft lips.)

Lacing Up

I laced up today. Generally, this isn’t anything remarkable.. People do it every day all around the world…
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But this was the first time the rubber met the road since an abysmal race with injury on Thanksgiving. I gave up. I put my shoes in the closet. I was afraid of my already fragile knee that was hurting with every step. It was easier to give up “the run” willingly, than to be told “never again” by a doctor.

After a month and a half, I was ready to try again. To feel like a virgin runner taking those first steps.

I have gone back to the basics. Back to week1 day1 of C25k, easing back into it, testing my knee, willing it to be ok.

I completed 2.27 miles today… They weren’t fast. I followed the program. But it felt so wonderful to feel the wind on my cheeks, the crunch of sand and gravel used my feet.

They were both the hardest and the most wonderful miles.  Now.. to do it again!  Back onto the horse I climb.

Déjà Vu – A Diagnosis Once More

We have been here before. Just 16 months ago we got the confirmation. You never forget hearing those words for the first time. “Your son fits the diagnostic criteria for Autism.”  He is so different that his big brother, most people scoff at this diagnosis.  But there is a wise saying, “When you meet one child autism… you have met one child with autism”

The difference this time… I know more.  I am less scared.  Alex is now enrolled in the most amazing, intensive ABA program.  He is in the same classroom, with the same staff, that Ben had last year.  He is making great strides, he is talking and interacting.

The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a death sentence.  For this family and many others, the diagnosis is freeing, it gives answers, it opens doors.  The diagnosis has helped us to find our little lost boy…

The Running of the Divas

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I can’t believe that I have let so much time pass since crossing the finish line.  It still seems like a dream to me.

The whole experience of preparing and completing the race was really amazing!  However, I am pretty sure the part that made it the best was the bonus of a reunion 19 years in the making.  I was blessed with being joined my one of my running heroes!!  Shauna and I went to elementary and middle school together.  We were on the same school bus, but we were in different social groups.  Even at that early age, she was already a force to be reckoned with!  Shauna was on cross country and already a very active kid.  I on the other hand was I was the total opposite.

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Fast forward 19 years to the age of technology where friendships are built from curious searches on Facebook.  Shauna was still an avid runner and adventure seeker and I was just discovering the world.  She had faith in me that I could accomplish my goal and she promised to help!  Thus was born the idea of completed the Diva’s Half Marathon together!

I in fact completed my first half marathon!  I wouldn’t say that I “ran” it, but I participated and crossed the finish line before the course was closed.  And the big bonus of the day, I WASN’T LAST!  There were actually 114 people behind me!!

  The whole day couldn’t not have gone more smoothly!!!  We both got up on time and went through our pre-race routines.  We geared up and enjoyed breakfast in the car on the way.  Thankfully we were less than 10 mins from the start line, so leaving early to get good parking was no issue.  We had no problem getting a spot very close to the finish line.  It was cool but humid with a heavy mist in the air that we hoped would burn off as the sun awoke.  There was such energy in the air, a buzz and a shimmer to every little thing.

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The morning’s schedule had three waves of 5K runners taking off first, so we wandered down to the start line to watch and get caught up in the excitement.  There were tutus and costumes EVERYWHERE and the people that were not dolled up looked a bit out of place.  It was so exciting to be in a place that didn’t take itself too seriously.

Lining up, getting ready, it was all an out of body experience.  There were hundreds of people between us and the start line, but it didn’t take us very long to get there, and we were on our way!  The first couple of miles seemed to melt away as I shook out the stiffness and my muscles remembered what we were here to do.  There was one spot that we would pass 3 times and my boys had come to cheer us on!  It seemed like every time I started to wane, there would be a water stop with a DJ and cheerleaders that would bring the energy back up.  Watching for where my personal cheerleaders would be hiding helped to make the time pass also.  Each time we passed the boys they would yell out for mommy and wave and the love I felt from them pushed me on and on.

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There was a surprise around mile 8, when my coworker Diane rode by on her bike!!!  She had been riding the course looking for us!  She stayed with us for about a half mile and then went off to meet us at the finish!

It was such a strange sensation to be running on the roads that I drove to work every day.  Usually congested with commuters rushing, it was peaceful and quiet with only the sound of rubber hitting the pavement and our constant chatter!

In to mile 10 we got a great surprise!!  An unofficial aid station!  There was music; there were men in drag and crazy costumes.  And better yet, there were snacks!!!  A giant bowl of M&Ms and orange slices.  This was such a treat and brought laughter that carried us for another mile.

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Sadly, this was also where I started having trouble.  My knee had decided that it really didn’t want to participate in the completion of this race anymore.  It was really uncomfortable and the walking breaks started to out distance the running sections.  Count my spirit officially broken!  I wanted to finish strong, I wanted to feel like I had “run” the race and it was slipping away from me.  Shauna was so supportive and encouraging.  Each time I despaired, she was right there with a tip or a suggestion.  We hobbled through the tiara station.  I hoped that picking up the bling would give me that extra power.

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It wasn’t until I saw the finish that I was able to reach down and find the oomph to get it down.  Something took over me, and I couldn’t stop.  I am sure that I looked pretty silly barreling towards the end.  But for that short time, I felt graceful, I felt fast, I felt like a runner.

After it was over, there were medals and roses, champagne, and bagels and bananas and cookies!  My official finish time was 3:18:15.  I finished in 1,782nd place out of 1898 participants.  But here is the thing that I know.  I won!  I won MY race.  It didn’t matter what others did out there.  It doesn’t matter that others crossed the finish before me.  They were not running MY race.  I did the best I could for me.  This gives me a benchmark, a place to improve from.  There will be more half marathons in my future, but none will ever compare to my first!946376_10151945233800871_1507853951_n

A huge thanks to me rock and my coach!  Shauna, without you… I wouldn’t have been able to do this.  It was a joy to run your slowest half marathon with you!!!

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The Time Has Come

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     I am just days away from my race, but I am many dollars away from my goal!  Please, please, help me to reach the $1300 goal for the students of Variety Child Learning Center.  This school has truly changed the course of my sons life!

How You Can Help!

It is very easy to help me reach this goal!  There are three ways to donate:

     1.   Donate online In section 4 write in “Variety of Miles”
     2.   Please make Checks out to Variety Child Learning Center and write “Variety of Miles” in the memo field.  Checks can be mailed to:

Variety Child Learning Center
Attn: Development
47 Humphrey Drive
Syosset, NY  11791
 
     3.    Give checks made out to Variety Child Learning Center to me when you see me. ( But please let me know you have one for me!!)
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9 + 1 =


10!!  That’s right… 10!  That’s how many miles were on the training schedule… TEN!!  I know that I am planning in just 3 short weeks to complete 13 miles, but the concept of 10 miles just feels monumental. 
I am blessed to have access to a beautiful bike path.  There are points along the way where I feel transported out of Long Island and to a world with no traffic!  There are wild flowers and swamps, thickets of trees and lakes.  There is one spot along the path that someone has turned a little bluff into a beautiful garden sanctuary.  Running this path has changed my run. I actually enjoy it more. 
Last week I deviated from my running schedule.  On Saturday I conquered the 9 miles, but there was a lot of walking and a lot of wishing the miles away. I was happy when I was done and I was happy with my overall time.  Then on Sunday was the Zombie Race. During the zombie experience I had an epic gravity failure that had me imitating superman down the side of a muddy hill. Thankfully I wasn’t seriously injured besides the bruised ego. At the end of the day I was proudly sporting scrapes and scratches and the promise of some grotesque bruises, but I felt good.  A little ice on my bum knee, a cold beer and I’ll be on my way… Or so I thought. 
By Tuesday morning I could put no weight on my right foot. My middle toe was very red and angry and swollen. My toe nail was black and crack 3/4ths of the way down. I couldn’t help but gaze upon the toe with pride while I painfully attempted a shoe and sock.  The voice of reason stopped me and when office hours rolled around I was on the phone with the podiatrist. 
With most of the nail removed and a promise of quick pain relief to come I hobbled home.  Instead on Wednesday I was greater by continued pain an it was too late to cancel my appointment with Frank the trainer.. Bring on a boxing session with no shoes on!!!
Friday was the first day I could get a sock and shoe on my foot. This made me terrified of Saturday’s run.  I had to just have faith that my 5 days off would be to a benefit. 
I was blessed to have incredible weather on Saturday, 68 and partly sunny. This weather makes it easy to settle into a run.  My three favorite boys dropped me at the trail head and I started off strong with an easy pace.  The boys meet between the 1 and 2 mile mark to wave an watch mommy go by.  I know that between mile 2 and 3 are two of the 5 uphill climbs on the route and they flew by with little notice. Continuing strong past the three mile mark I pushed off fueling as I was still in good shape. Miles 4, 5, and 6 passed almost as easily and when I hit the biggest hill of the whole route, I pushed to the top and kept going.  This was the first time that I hadn’t needed a walk at the top of this very steep overpass.  I was beginning to start to struggle and keep myself from walking and between miles 7 and 8 my hip started to complain.  I was able to pull back the pace a little until and get comfortable again.  I knew as I got towards the end that I would have to do some doubling back to get the 10th mile in.  At 9.1 I was surprised by my boys running towards me!  I love when they find me on the trail because it gives me such a boost!  Ben was so excited to run with me that he made it half a mile!  

The last half mile was the hardest steps of the entire route.  My tank was empty and my motivation was sapped…  but… I finished it!  All 10 miles!  And my reward….. and ice bath!
     I think more important that the running this week was the decision that I have made to turn this run into a fundraiser.  I will be running to benefit the children of Variety Child Learning Center.  Please check out the info!

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