Gritty

Sep 28

I’ve been doing a lot of running lately.  On Saturday I gutted out a long run: I planned a route, tailored my hydration and energy fuel, high-fived Brad and the girls, and hit the pavement. It was hard.  Often when I run, I have runner’s mojo where I feel powerful and rhythmic when I run.  Scenery streams by and I’m buoyed along with an easy cadence.  Saturday was not that day.  I felt like I was plodding along and I resorted to a lot of run-for-three-minutes, walk-for-one-minute type pacing strategies.  Hills were my nemesis.  I felt un-athletic, pokey, and weak.  Eleven miles is a lot of miles to slog through those feelings.  It was my grit and gumption that got me through, and I’m proud of that.  My mental toughness and sheer will kicked in, and that is empowering in a different kind of way.  And… I did it.  My half marathon is less than two weeks away, and I’m hopeful I will achieve my goal of completing it. I would have liked for that run to have felt amazing; instead it felt gritty–I worked my butt off to get it done.  I would like a lot of things in this life, but I will not pout or quit when I don’t get what I want.  It’s up to me to delight in the goodness rather then wallow in the grime. This morning I had a PET scan and I have the results now because my oncology office indulges my high-maintenance wish to get immediate results.  Dr. Wonderful doesn’t mince words or make small talk when he walks in the exam rooms on scan days.  He walks in and opens immediately with, “The scan shows progression.” That news settles in while he gets seated and logs in to the computer that allows him to show us the report, chart, and make treatment plans.  Brad and I absorb it together, but separately.  Progression is not what we wanted; we are discomfited knowing that the lymph nodes in my sternum are growing/spreading and there is a small cluster of cancer nodules in my lower left lung.  Cancer growth is not good for my long term health and prognosis, but this small amount of progression...

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To the first little boy in my life

Sep 24

You were my best friend’s brother.  Coming from family of all girls as I did, you were an anomaly in my world.  A boy. You were aloof with me but we mattered to each other.  You were rambunctious and could build a terrific obstacle course in the basement.  Those were fun; yesterday — your birthday — I built one with my girls and I told them about you. Playdates at my house would involve my sisters.  Pressure to share, play nice, include them and let them share our fun was the rule of the house.  Playdates at your house were magic for I could share in your sister’s treasures and we could play all alone for hours.  You hardly gave us a passing glance.  Unless you were bored, and then I still giggle at the shriek you could invoke out of your otherwise-calm-and-rational sister. Halloween was our holiday during our formative years.  Dads and kids from three families equals six little girls and you.  Each year as I dress my children for Halloween, I tell them about you and how you were the one boy and one of the youngest, but also one of the fastest.  Our Halloweens were about amassing candy as quickly as possible.  We treated it like a race, and you were always good at competition.  We would pile in the back of the van… seatbelts, schmeatbelts, and the dads would say, “This car can’t move until I have a Reese Cup!”  Immediately we would dig into our pillow-case bags and they would get pelted with seven Reese Cups flying from the back.  So.  Much.  Laughing.  Our collective favorite year was the year we were the seven dwarfs.  We were adorable, and you were a good sport. Your parents were the only ones who would do “crazy driving.”  They would swerve the car idly back and forth forcing us to the left and right in the backseat as we carpooled together.  Again, the laughter sticks with me.  On the way to soccer there was a big hill and you always cheered for “The Monker (Monster) Hill” as we drove over and down it. You couldn’t seem to sit close enough to the television when sports were on.  I don’t...

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Muffcakes

Sep 15

Muffcakes

Last weekend we road-tripped it to Brad’s alma mater to see my school play his school in football.  We got trounced (as expected), but it was a wonderful excuse for a fun-filled family weekend.  Greta and Maren were bombarded from both sides of relatives: “Go Miami!”  and “Go Wisconsin!”.  Our family does a really exceptional job of being close despite the miles between us.  We are so well-loved. Given that it was my rough post-chemo weekend, I was delicately balancing energy and fun for the weekend.  In the moment, it’s not hard: when I appear to be having fun, I am having fun.  It’s more that I take inventory in a pause or a quiet moment to remind myself to step back and check my pace.  I was in bed before Maren and Greta on Sunday night when we got home, and I’m still regrouping on quiet day number two.  Regrouping means I’m being selfish and doing what brings me joy, and I’ve learned plenty of strategies to breed goodness.  Brad is at work, Maren is off to school, Greta spent yesterday with our beloved sitter Phenom, and today she’s play-dating with a good friend. This past summer I used as little childcare as possible and did my best to be super-present for my kids.  It was a great summer: mission accomplished.  As I took inventory as school started, however, I realized I need more time to be Jen so I can continue with my mission: Do Today Well.  Maren is rocking third grade: she loves her teacher and her experience so far is fantastic.  Sending Greta to preschool, playdates and to the sitter is perfectly wonderful: she benefits greatly from these experiences. In the weak moments of not-wanting-to-miss-a-thing of their precious childhoods, I am reluctant to send them off to school, to friends, to anywhere other than by my side.  As other mothers take the first-day-of-school photos and wipe the tears of time gone by, I do too.  I love my children so much it hurts.  I too ache for their squashy baby limbs and the reset button of nap time every day, of long days and short years. As the back-to-school kerfuffle happens though, I have another emotion–this...

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A dimpled smile

Sep 09

Yesterday was treatment day, so most of my day was spent in the recliner in the chemo room and driving to and from chemo. Treatment day always leaves me with a weird feeling: I get infused with several drugs, one — Benadryl — which makes me sleepy, and one — steroids — that make me jittery and unable to sleep.  Needless to say, I come out of my treatment day every three weeks feeling strange.  Sleep is unpredictable, and I am planning on at least one more trip back to the chemo room to get some fluids in the next 48 hours.  When I “get some fluids”, that means that the nurses access my port (i.e., stick a needle in it) and run it to an IV bag of saline.  It’s a one-liter bag, and it takes an hour to run it in.  A well-hydrated body functions best, so I’m essentially giving my body every advantage I can.  And, as my mom says, since I’m infusing salt water into me, I’m essentially infusing the ocean into me.  I like that idea.  🙂  I’m in listen-to-my-body mode for the next several days; I’ll try not to overdo it! We had the blessing of being invited to the lake this past weekend, one of my most favorite happy places.  We had five children ranging from age 2 to 8, and all of them behaved — I’m pleased to say — as excellent boat kids.  I grew up on my dad’s boat, and some of my favorite memories lake days.  We taught Maren and her friend to water ski, a parenting dream I have tucked close to my heart as my kids are approaching ski-able ages.  After a lot of failed attempts, Maren got a legitimate 100 meter run in, and her friend went a solid 1000 meters, so we were super proud of both of them.  Learning to ski is tricky and humbling.  I was the coach in the water with the girls, so I used a lot of my communication skills on try numbers six, seven, eight, etc. to both encourage perseverance and correct technique.  Seeing those little legs skimming away from me in the water for those longer skis was a...

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This girl is on fire

Sep 02

This girl is on fire

  I took Greta to her very first yoga class this morning.  Maren has started volleyball–her favorite activity as of the past year or so–and we are keen to expose Greta to physical activities she shows interest in.  Since no one I know has personal experience with kid yoga, I googled local yoga studios and this was the most convenient option for us.  This morning Greta tried on three different leotards (thanks to our friend for the hand-me-downs), and had “yoga breakfast” in her tummy and “yoga hairdo” complete before getting into our “yoga car.”  Um, can you tell she was a wee bit excited? I could hear and see a lot of the class by listening and peeking around the cracked door (and sticking my phone in for a few photos.)  The class was pretty awesome: great teacher, age-appropriate yoga and movement, and fun.  There were only two little girls there today, so the teacher-to-student ratio was also quite strong. It’s a pay-per-class thing, and I think we’ll be going back next Wednesday at 10am (any of G’s friends interested in joining?)   Greta loved it.  She has been clambering for yoga since we talked about it last week, and it did not disappoint.  She showed off a few moves to Brad and Maren tonight, and I am curious to see how it plays out going forward.  Her favorite move?  The camel pose because the teacher instructed/allowed/let her do a camel spit when she did it.  That’s my girl: she likes the spitting pose.  Ha!  Also, I want this elephant and all of the yoga clothes from the waiting room/boutique:   It is so fun that my kids expose me to things that I would not necessarily seek out for myself.  I’ve always been mildly interested in yoga and have taken a class here and there, but it’s never “stuck.”  I love that this is Greta’s initiative and I love the practice of channeling Greta’s power for good.  She’s such a fierce mind and strong spirit… it brings to mind the lyrics from the “girl is on fire” song, and I’m so thrilled to watch her grow.  She really is exquisite…  ...

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