Friday, September 27, 2013

Sometimes, life is frazzling

It’s been a rough crazy week. By other people’s standards, it was probably mellow, but as an introverted sort of person, there are certain things I need in order to not feel frazzled or out of sorts on an average week, and that is a boring, predictable routine. 

I need time to do the after/school evening routine of homework, cooking and cleaning up, time to run, time to write, time to recharge. Of the those, the last is most vital. So vital that if I don’t have that down-time, I will take it at the expense of all the others. 

I will not cook, clean, manage the homework for the kids, run or write. 

This week, I had a town hall meeting I needed to attend and my daughter’s talent show, and no time between leaving work and attending the meetings/talent shows, which resulted in two late-nights in a row, which for me, is a bit much. 

This happens sometimes, as in sometimes enough it's almost often, and instead of be-moaning it, which is my normal course, “Oh, I got nothing done because I couldn’t be home to actually do any of it, I’m so behind, work is so crazy, the kids are so needy, we don’t have any food and I’m too tired to do the things I want to do waaah’ I soothed myself by visiting some mindful websites because honestly when I'm frazzled I'm not practicing being mindful, and mindful for me = happy. The return to a place of mindfulness was a reminder that hey, it's okay to totally be out of sorts. Having accepted feeling totally wacked and out of sorts, I decided I didn't need to stay in that feeling. I took a few breaths, and decided to reflect on what led to this feeling.

I don’t like spending too much time reflecting, my mind is too busy to look back, but here I have a consistent problem that I view as being an impediment to my growth not only as a writer, but as a person trying to practice mindfulness, and a person trying to live fully the life I have.  

What I realized is that occasionally my life is thrown off balance, usually on a week-to-week basis, and that I have no counter-measures to it. I see it, I react to it, but I don’t have a plan that allows me to account for weeks where the normal routine falls out of whack, and the things that sustain me fall to the wayside, where the things that aren't nourishing take priority.

First, I love normal routines. I think life is smoother when weeknights aren’t filled with events and activities. As an introvert, staying in more than going out is a more comfortable lifestyle for me. Oh, I love going out, if I can stay in the next few days… 
So, yes, one weeknight, sure, maybe two occasionally, but with kids, that’s it. A week of too many events, especially back-to-back, and especially so time consuming, drain me.

After reflecting, I realize I can plan for most of these whacked-out, too-busy weeks. When I KNOW I have a week of too many events and too much to do, what is my plan… right, I didn't have one. I came up with one, though. There's no reason that I can't wake up extra early to run on a meeting night, check, put that in the plan. Spending my lunch time writing instead of waiting til I get home when I know I won't be home before 9 and I turn into a pumpkin at 10, check. Having frozen meals in the dinner and paper plates on hand for when I’m not home or running out the door just as dinner’s getting served, check. Stay up an hour later just to have some recharge time. Check.

Those three little changes to a disrupted routine will give me everything I need: time to manage afternoon/evening routines, time to run, time to write, time to recharge. There's so much truth in the saying that the only time we have is the moment we actually have. It should be spent truly in that moment. There's no logic or sense in putting off the things that nourish us the most in favor of external priorities.

And that is the lecture I gave myself, and is why today, on this beautiful, rainy Friday, I am not frazzled, out of whack, or bemoaning anything.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's 3 a.m.... Let's BLOG!

Funny story about Turbo and random purple rashes on his hands and feet that don't hurt or itch, but kinda turn into weird teeny white blisters that don't hurt, that he picks at giving his hands that picked-skin look I find so queasy-inducing.

 He said "MOM, what is HAPPENING to me?" 

and I said "I don't know..." 

and introduced him to WebMD...kidding... 

I have been checking him daily, sometimes twice, but they seem to be going down. Just... dark purple rashes...file under 'weird kid things that magically go away after freaking mom out.'

I hate waking up in the middle of the night. I know I'm not the only one that does. I have e-mails and Facebook posts to prove it.

Tonight I woke up because before I left work I read an article on how the ultra-wealthy are a) not Americans and b) going to American schools and c) ruling our economy and d) that's why the middle class is going away and e) we're all doomed because before we can do anything about it, giant Pulsar Waves of Doom will wipe out all technology, and omigosh I'm never going to have money, I'll be educated and broke and living in poverty and have to retire in squalor because my brilliant sons won't have the money to go to a good college and take care of me in my old age, because they will be forced to be modern revolutionaries in the post-pulsar America driving old hum-vees, SUVs and Jeep-vees, wearing the same jeans and duster coats for  weeks on end. 

They'll probably smoke, too, because with the demise of technology, all the warnings about how bad smoking is for you will have disappeared, and they won't listen to me because I'm just an old naggy anxious ninny at that point railing on about old fish-wives tales about smoking being bad and once, before the Pulsar Waves of Doom, America had rivers and lakes....

Also, my assignments for my writing workshop were due TONIGHT and I didn't get them turned in because, hey, I didn't have time to read any of it, and while I did email the teacher my ideas, with questions ,I didn't do the submissions because I haven't had time (thank you, school town hall meeting, daughter's talent show and etc etc) I should have just done them over the weekend. So even though it's not a graded class, I'm stressed because I missed a deadline and aaaahhh.

Then I thought, OMIGOSH how do I think I could even make money at this?

Then I went into 'OMIGOSH' I haven't even written more on my novel, even though I have this great scene I need to do where main character gets into a fender bender, and never mind the guilt I'm having because even though I want to write more 'serious' stuff, the things that come to mind are scenes for that fun book, and we all know fun is not serious, and evil, and and... ahhhh.

I hate insomnia.

Do I even answer this crazy email sent at 2:12 a.m. from this work person with a crazy response at 2:46 a.m. that says, hey, like you, I'm neurotic and anxious? Maybe I can just say, do you know what time it is? Go back to bed!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Calm

Some not good mornings can still be calm mornings, I've learned, by completely and totally lowering all expectations.

This morning, I woke up late, which means EVERYONE woke up late, and all my work pants except the ankle pants, were dirty. (Because I didn't do laundry, not because I woke up late.) This is the first thing I noticed. The second thing I noticed is I had fuzzy ankles. I'm trying to wear jeans less in the office (it's truly a difficult thing to accomplish, because jeans are so... jeans). So I used my husband's razor really quickly to do a quick clean-up of the ankle area. Don't tell him. But I'm not wearing jeans today. Victory! After, of course, I ran downstairs and threw some toast in the oven because my sons need to eat before school (yeah yeah I know, and I did buy a toaster, it's sitting in the box looking shiny and new) and they all got fed, except me. I'm starving. BUT I HAD COFFEE.

Everyone got dressed. Then Turbo couldn't find his shoes. We looked everywhere, and still, only had the one. So he borrowed my five-finger Vibram toe shoes that fit him. He loves those shoes as much as I do. The other students don't know how to quite react, but it's Colorado, so they all have at least SEEN those shoes on others, just not in school. TOE SHOES ARE COOL!

My other son, Bear, slipped out the door with jogging pants, even though I told him he couldn't wear sweat to school. But hey, his long, flowy, in-his-face, over-his-eye hair was brushed, as were his teeth, with minimal prodding. I let the sweatpants slide, because the alternative was being late and chances are good no one at school will notice they break the school's dress code. Turbo's teeth were brushed, too. I'M WINNING!

So this morning, I woke up late and did a bunch of quick re-evaluation of our normal routines, re-prioritized how I would like my morning to go, lowered my expectations of EVERYTHING, and got everyone fed, dressed and out the door on time, without frantically throwing shoes and snacks at my sons screaming 'to the TRUCK GET IN THE TRUCK' as they flee out the door ducking and screaming 'I DON"T HAVE SHOES ON' and 'MY BACKPACK' and 'AAAAAAHHHHHHHH' like sometimes happens when we all wake up 45 minutes late.

So even though today started 45 minutes late, we still all arrived calm, cool, mostly-fed, not fuzzy-legged, not shoeless, not bad-breath-ed, and not like we all just emerged from the bloody battle that we call 'the morning routine.'


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Running and writing and not mopping

My kitchen floor is a disaster. My house an ever-changing mess. So I went for a long walk today, because, unfortunately for my kitchen floor, tomorrow I am going to do a six-mile run. I'll just sweep it up real fast and pretend it's an old floor with character.

Running pants with high-tech fabric, cost more than my work pants. Sneakers..
plain looking but pricier than my go-out shoes - runner priorities.

I really need to get that six mile run in, though. 

I am not the fastest runner., though I am leaning closer to ten-minute miles than 11-minute miles. I do not run the farthest, though I have run 20+ miles and am inching back up to the ten-mile mark. I am not an overly-ambitious runner with several strategies to improve my PR, though I do some fartleks and hills to improve what skill and form I have.  

I am not a jogger, though I am still not sure what the difference is beyond joggers jog for fitness or fun, don't read running magazines, and have clean kitchen floors, while runners run because they "have to," read a lot of running magazines, and don't have clean kitchen floors. 

I am a consistent runner. It's the consistency of it that allows me to inch closer to ten minute miles, to longer distances, to managing my breathing, to maintain calm. I even plan to run the full winter season this year! I've got an uber pair of extra-warm, extra-pricey running pants in a shopping cart, waiting for the first cold spell. Probably another difference - runners spend more on high-tech running pants and jackets than they do on any other clothing they own.  I've got a jacket. I've got a hat. I can run in the cold. My family accepts my runs as something that I do, that five to six times a week, I'm out the door on a run, or a walk or bike ride on an off-day.

How I run, I find, is how I live my life. A few years ago, I defined my priorities, decided what mattered. If I only did three things, it would be to run, to write, and to raise my family healthily. You'll notice cleaning isn't on the list. Neither is 'maintain a neat and orderly home.' Just as I am a runner, I am a writer. Like running, I am not overly ambitious, but  I do work to improve my skills, to go further, explore more, test my own limits.  

I'm a consistent writer. I write for the same reason I run. I have to write. When I write, the house can, and often does, go to hell. It's okay. The alternative is to not write, and if I mop once every.... lets be honest.... three months or six.... well, at least my sons sweep.  

I run, and I write. Running feeds my body. Writing feeds my soul. Both allow me the energy to raise my family. Neither allow me the time to mop. Or clean much. At least I cook...ish.

Mom runs. Mom writes. Mom doesn't mop. Do we even own a mop?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Usually it's a whisper

Sometimes, once in a great while, the universe shouts at you. This isn't ideal, because the universe is vast and big, so when it shouts, things break and people get hurt. It's best to not have to make the universe shout.

Usually, the universe just whispers. It whispers inside you. Sometimes, others pick up on the whisper, and echo it back to you, but usually it's because the universe is whispering to others that whatever it's telling you to do is a good idea, and the universe thinks you're fairly obtuse so enlists the help of others.

It's easy to miss the whispers, which is a shame, because the whispers are your guide, your clue, your map through life. There's so much noise outside of us, around us, through others, even others who mean well, telling us what our path is, how to get there, when to get there, when we have an opportunity and when we miss an opportunity, what we should do and should not do, what to strive for, what to do to get there, and they're all wrong, well-intentioned, but wrong. If we all embark on our true journeys, and work to our true paths, then walking the roads all others have walked will only get us to the popular destination everyone else arrives at, not the roads we were meant to travel, not the destination we wish to arrive at.

It's only the faint echo, the slow stirrings, the whispers deep in a place in you that goes deeper than your physical being ever can, that whisper, that voice, is truth. It's not a gut-feeling, not at all. Gut feelings are not infallible. No, the whispering voice, it's a gut-knowing, and it truly is infallible. Gut feelings make you instantly react to something. A gut knowing makes you turn down something that seems so right, in favor of something so uncertain, with no doubt or second thoughts.

If you hear it, if you heed it, only if. The universe doesn't speak in complete sentences. It translates to us as vague stirrings and knowings that become clearer to us as we hone in and begin to listen, to understand its language.

The universe has been whispering to me for some time, and I knew it was saying something, and I did try to listen, but I had things to take care of.  One of the boys is having a hard time at school and needs a lot of help, I can't find a good sweater to buy and my office is getting chilly now that the weather is turning, I didn't do laundry, I haven't lost ten pounds, the children want to be fed and I'm managing a tight budget that is manageable  with effort and by the way, my house is a mess... but I knew it was whispering at me, and I tuned in a bit, and my friend picked up on this whispering, and echoed it, and I made a small choice.

And then, just as I did so, it came, the knowing, that gut-knowing, that this small choice was one small choice that can only lead to other choices, it's a choice that set me on a different course. It was the right choice.

Sometimes, we don't know when we make a choice the impact it will have later.  Sometimes, when me make a choice, the universe sighs in relief and contentment. It no longer has to try to reach you.

Think about your dreams, and the small choices that take you there, and listen for the whisperings, the voice that will get you there. 

***What choice? Honestly, it's too insignificant of one to even share, it's just... a seed planted really.***

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

After Thursday...

Our 'Mighty St. Vrain' has always been a loose term for our river, as it meanders through town peacefully, and our Left Hand Creek has always been a little trickle for the most part, getting to proper creek status only after a lot of snow or rain in the mountains. Then, we got 2/3rds of a year's rain in one night. Hello Mighty St. Vrain. Hello, Proper Left Hand Creek-River.

We live in drought land. So when a phone call came at 4 a.m. saying all schools in our district were closed, because of.... rain... I though they were being overly cautious. Really? Some rain?

You can understand the initial disbelief between friends to see that really, schools canceled, in September, for rain?  Compounded by the knock on the door at 6:45 a.m. Leave? For rain? We live by a small river and a creek. Really? I was probably one of many faces who replied with a look of 'are you in the right neighborhood? and sane?' that morning. 

The boys, they jumped into evacuation mode. My Bear, my sweet sweet Bear, grabbed the most important thing in his nine-year old life - his fish blankie.... everything else can go down the river. But not that blankie. Still, I only took it half-seriously. Little creek. Little river. 

Compound the visit at 6:45 a.m. by a mid-morning walk  over to the creek with a friend to see that yes, indeedy, our creek has become quite the river. *Yes, we went a whole block away, to a friend's house, who wasn't evacuated yet... baby steps... baby steps...* We could see that the creek has flooded into the road, and that the road opposite, the OTHER side of the creek, was now a river itself, flowing fast and high. At this point Thursday morning, before noon, we knew it was both real and unprecedented. We spent the rest of the day low-key and cool as cucumbers for the kids - stifling any uncertainty and anxiety we might have had to ensure the children knew hey, yeah, this is different, this is serious, but we're all fine. It's exhausting, when you really want to go "WHOA this is SERIOUS."

We didn't know the full extent of its impact on our city. We knew, by this time, our favorite mountain town, Lyons, had already begun flooding, people evacuating out of their homes in the middle of the night and trying to stay up on high ground or sheltering in the school. Roads already washing out or washed out. Thursday night, Boulder residents took the brunt of it, hearing the sirens go off non-stop while the Boulder creek took over main roads.

We followed it all through social media, we followed our own city's flooding through the same means, the feeds from the city, the county and from the local newspaper keeping us up to date, people hashtag-ing the flood by location: #Longmontflood, #Lyonsflood, #StVrainflood, #Boulderflood, everywhere around us. You were either in a flood or in a drought here. It's a testament to the modern age that while we were experiencing one of the biggest weather events in our area in more than 500 years, my husband went to work, and it was all business as usual.  Right, 500-year flood event - yes, that's how common this is - and towns and cities all around us buzzed about normally. Now, while the city had a plan for this 500-year flood event (which I think involved them evacuating everyone on the 500 year flood plain), no resident spent their days thinking that the tiny Left Hand Creek and the St. Vrain River would be quite the force it became. 

I feel like the entire state should have stopped Thursday, with us. There should have been a day of state-wide bewilderment and awe. "Work has been canceled, because in the Front Range, a 500-year flood event is happening, and our Front Range communities are in a diasaster area. Be in awe of Nature, and spend the day in contemplation of nature's raw power and its impact on man's creations..."

....but of course that isn't how life works.  

These pictures in the album are of just the Lefthand Creek. The St. Vrain did a mighty amount of rearranging of our earth on its own, but these photos are right in my neighborhood:

The damage to our infrastructure is devastating. The estimates have more than 17,000 homes damaged, 1500 lost, but the real telling damage is to our roads and highways. Bridges here in town are gone, completely wiped out, leaving us a city of detours. We've lost some highways, and around 30 bridges. There is no access to some of the mountain towns, no visits for quite some time to our favorite Lyons, or Estes, gateway for us to Rocky Mountain National Park, and beautiful day-escape. In many areas, it's like nothing happened. But in some areas, where it's like nothing happened, go down one more street, and suddenly, you see it - what flood waters leave behind when they recede.

I had always imagined flooding to be quick, but as long as it rained, the flooding came. Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday saw a reprieve but then more of the rains on Sunday prompted new fears, and more flooding. I'm pretty sure we need the rest of September to be dry. 

Next up, winter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I ran in the rain

I ran in the rain and wished it was a little bit cooler.

I ran, and the rain fell. It's still falling. Tons of water suddenly descending on us after days of sunshine.  The water rushed by faster than normal, with the creek beds rising high. I was lucky the bridge under the road wasn't filled with water yet, it will be tomorrow. I ran until the sun finally set around me, and I realized that between my fogged up glasses, the darkness, and the passing headlights of cars, the only thing I could see was the ground directly in front of me.

Eleven minute ten second miles, faster than my runs in 90+ heat, slower than the ones from last year's cooler times.  I ran in the cool rain with fogged up glasses in the darkening sky.  The rain tells me fall is coming. Tonight it reminded me how important it is to run as much as I can before winter comes. I can handle chilly fall morning runs, I am not equipped for a full-blown winter run, though I have sworn that I'd try this year.

Tonight, running in the rain, I accomplished something easily that I haven't been able to do on other runs. I was able to let go. One run in the rain started out like most, with a thousand thoughts on my mind, imagined conversations I should have, to-do lists, things I haven't done, ought to do, worry about what I haven't done, what about the appointments I made, the things I have to do in the next few weeks, but the rain poured down through my glasses fogging them up so I had to pay closer attention to the ground. Then, it got darker, so I had to focus even closer, and soon, I wasn't thinking about anything but running. I didn't have any music on so I took cues from the sounds around me. No one was out, except the other people that were - some kids playing in the creek while it was still light. A man walking his dog in the dark. And I stayed in the moment, in the rain, just running.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Things I noticed on my walk this morning when I wasn't paying attention

This whole thing about living in the moment doesn’t preclude any future, or suggest that plans shouldn’t be made for the future, only that the moment you exist in is currently the only moment, and unless you’re currently writing up a five-year plan for your life, then you shouldn’t be mentally living the next five years of your life. 

You should be paying attention to the moment you have, because really, it is the only thing that currently exists. The only things that existed in my walk this morning were the many things I wasn’t paying attention to because I easily get pulled out of moments by my very busy, buzz-about bossy mind which, as far as I can tell, is not the aspect of my mind which has gotten me anywhere far in life, and is the least reliable part of my mind.

Today I noticed that I wasn’t paying attention to the speed of our walk, because when I came home, my calves were a little sorer than normal, strange considering I normally run that walk. 

I noticed my not noticing that we passed by two dog-owners walking their dogs early in the morning, and my friend made a point to say hi, while I smiled awkwardly and moved on. I rarely go with a 'hi' and prefer the subtle nod of the head and half-smile with strangers. 

I noticed the water of the creek ran low and slow and the ground is still mostly brown. I noticed while not noticing that my friend was moved by the sunrise behind us in the East, while I was moved by the soft pink hue of the mountains in the west.

I did notice the pink hues, though, and that image has stayed in my mind all day, the mountains looking like a mirage or an illusion as the sun seemed to rise and set simultaneously.

The mountains out here are my silent partners. They help me stay in the moment, help me put things in perspective, and provide a guide, something to move toward, when I’m not quite sure where I’m going. A lot of times, I’ll choose a run or a bike ride toward the west specifically so I’ll be able to see the mountains, to use them as a personal base.  I put a lot on those mountains, but I’m pretty sure they’re completely indifferent to me.

 I’m pulled to them because they are immovable; their surface may always be changing, seasons come and go, fires ravage their forests, new forests grow, roads are built, people and animals traipse about, but still, they are at their core, immovable. So when the pink hue of the mountains meeting the sky caught my eye, I looked and remembered that no matter what silliness I have going on, whatever I’m thinking, planning, doing, contemplating or whining about, is of little consequence in the lifetime of these mountains, of little consequence to my own lifetime even, but my entire life is nothing in the timeline of a mountain, what of it all, they would ask, if they could speak. What of these small things you talk of? Suddenly, in a glance to the west, t  the circumstances are not so insurmountable, the urgency not so much of a rush. The mountains remind me that there is time in life to live life, if life is lived truly. I noticed all of this while not paying attention to the things I was noticing.