Blood Isn’t Always Thicker Than Water

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Melissa picked: Who do you consider family that is not related by blood or marriage?

It’s funny how the logistics of my life will usually fall into place, all on its own. I was trying to figure out which direction I wanted to go in with this topic, and who I wanted to write about this week, when my friend Bu posted an article she’d seen regarding C-section mothers onto my Facebook page, along with this personal message to me:

“Sari, this made me think of you being there for me when the twins were born. What was that like?? Could you, would you write about it?? Love you!!! Thank you for always being there for me!”

Bu calls me “Sari”. I think it means “little Sara” in Portuguese. She’s called me that for nearly as long as I’ve known her (14 years), and I’ve called her “Bu” for that long, too. For me to accurately tell this birth story from my perspective, I have to go back a little further in time, before there were babies. Before there was responsibility thrust upon either one of us, before the daunting task of motherhood had changed the course of our lives forever.

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Circa 2002

 

I was a little intimidated when I first met Bu. It was my first day as an apartment community leasing agent, and Bu was the one in charge of training me. She was a beautiful woman, not much older than me. We’d later find out we were mere months apart in age. Long, dark brown hair clipped on the sides with delicate purple barrettes; her hair often hung in her face when she’d write notes or bend down to retrieve something. Dark brown eyes that sized me up and had no qualms over letting me know it. Slender features and small bony hands. I felt bumbling and large standing next to her.

When she talked to me, I had a hard time understanding her at first. Bu is Brazilian, and at the time her native tongue was Portuguese. She did a great job catching onto the English language (she told me she thought Bee Gee’s “Stayin’ Alive” was actually” Standin’ in Line”) but I wasn’t used to the accent or the lilting way she spoke. Most of the conversation consisted of me asking her to repeat something she’d said, and she’d give me a look of annoyance. I could tell right away Bu had a no-nonsense attitude, and nothing was filtered or off-limits. I knew I had to develop thicker skin with her.

We were instant friends but instant competitors, too. Being the young chicks in the office, I think we both felt we had something to prove. In those early years, I think we would have done anything for each other and anything against one another, a love/hate relationship. Bu equated this to the relationship she had with her sisters back home, in Brazil. Fiercely loyal and protective, but I knew she’d readily kick my ass if the mood called for it.

We were inseparable. She’d invite me over for a lunch of macaroni and cheese mixed with canned corn (sounds nasty but it was oh so good!) while we’d watch Secreto De Amor, one of her favorite Spanish soap operas. The dialogue was lost on me but I rolled with it. We’d hang out with friends, dancing and drinking the night away in downtown Omaha. There were times we’d show up to work the next morning hung over (or still drunk) but we managed to get through it unscathed, for the most part.

There were plenty of good times, and equally challenging times. She was the first to get pregnant, and I was there for her when that ended in tragedy.   We saw each other through our divorces, subsequent children, marriages, moves and whatever else was throw our way. It wasn’t a competition anymore for either one of us. We grew up. We’d seen too much, lived through too much and I think we knew way too much about the other to even care or keep score anymore.

Our babies, 2005
Our babies, 2005

Bu has dealt with a lot of bumpy roads in her life, treading the line as best as she can, regardless of what life has thrown at her. I’ve often told her she’s the strongest person I know, because she never gives up. Where most of us would have buried our heads and waited for the end to swallow us whole, Bu never does that and I don’t think she ever will. She’s a fighter.

When she told me she was pregnant with twins, I was ecstatic. This miracle  followed another painful pregnancy that ended in tragedy. I think we both agreed that her pregnancy was a blessing from God. It was too coincidental that after she’d lost two babies, she was gifted with two more.

Bu took that pregnancy as well as she could, even when her stomach swelled beyond the point that I wondered if it could get any bigger. I know she was hating life, but she didn’t complain, well, not much. Brazilians are direct and don’t sugar coat a thing. If there was something bothering her, you best believe I and everyone else around her knew about it.

She was admitted into the hospital 10 weeks before the twins were due to arrive. We all knew she wouldn’t carry the babies to full term but had never anticipated that they’d make their appearance so early. Her husband was deployed at the time, overseas no less. I had promised her that if she needed me, I’d be there.

I walked into Labor and Delivery, instantly ushered into a side room where I could don hospital scrubs. I had to wash my hands and was told to wear a mask over my face. While I was preparing myself, a nurse walked in with a tiny screaming baby wrapped in a blanket. One of Bu’s babies. I didn’t have much time to really get a good look, because another nurse directed me out of the side room and into the operating room, where Bu was lying on a table, doctors and nurses all around her.

I tried not to look at the opening into Bu’s stomach, while making my way to the top of the table, where Bu’s head was resting on a pillow. I wasn’t sure what to do at first. Another baby was wrestled out from the confines of Bu’s abdomen, briefly shown and then carried out by a nurse. It was such a blur and everything happened so fast! The newborns were so tiny and fragile, but their lungs were strong and insistent. Bu reached one of her delicate hands out to me, and I clasped onto it, gripping firmly onto her fingers.

A decision was made right off the bat that Bu would need a hysterectomy. Her placenta had grown into various areas within her body that it shouldn’t, and even she couldn’t dispute that with every pregnancy she’d ever had, she’d nearly lost her life. This was no exception. I’d later find out that she lost a substantial amount of blood and needed a blood transfusion. Neither of us knew it in that moment. When she heard the recommendation for a hysterectomy, Bu started to cry, giant tears rolling down her pale cheeks. I know she was pleased with her three girls, yet she’d always envisioned a gigantic family with a lot of kids.

Although she cried, she told me she understood why she couldn’t have more children. She was lucid and knew what was going on, even though her body was shivering and shaking. I remember the cotton swabs that would dab at her body, containing mass amounts of blood in their wake. By this time, I was holding onto both of her hands. I think she even said a prayer at some point, because I remember we closed our eyes and took a moment out of what was happening to protect her, and to protect her children.

I was told that I couldn’t stay in the room anymore. I was worried while I was directed into the side room again, praying that Bu would be all right, that everything would work out okay for her. This time, I got a good look at the tiny miracles swaddled up inside their baby beds, the tiniest little angels I’d ever laid eyes on. They weren’t there long. Since they were born so early, they were headed to the NICU, and it felt as though it was mere seconds that I got to see them squirming a bit inside the hospital blankets, before they were whisked out and down the hall.

Daddy and his girls
Daddy and his girls

Bu was amazing. While her babies were constantly monitored in the NICU, she would tend to her oldest daughter, no more than 3 years of age at the time, taking trips out to the NICU on a daily basis. She’d also pump in order to provide as much breast milk as she could for the babies, delivering it to the hospital when she’d go for her daily visits. I remember moments where it was touch and go, where there was concern for the babies, whether they were out of the woods yet. They were in the hospital for two months, a long time.

And then her husband received his orders.

The babies were well enough to travel, although they were still attached to monitors that kept track of their breathing, making sure they had enough oxygen. They had to travel like that, constantly keeping tabs on the newborns. It was a lot to take on, but as always, Bu was up for the challenge. Her whole family has always been tough and dealt with obstacles head on, no matter what’s thrown at them.

I was extremely upset when Bu moved away. It felt like I was losing one of my best friends. I think it’s even harder when you’ve gone through so much with someone, during those pivotal years where you’re fostering your adulthood and have been a shoulder to cry on or lean on it times of burden and hardships. Losing a friend like that, well, it sucks.

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But I haven’t really lost Bu. Although we live miles apart, I know we’re still close and will always remain close. Her family is healthy and thriving. The twins will be 7 this year. I haven’t been able to see them as much as I’d like to, but they know me as Auntie Sara. We might not be blood relatives, but Bu and I are sisters where it counts. Her family… well, they are a part of my family, no matter the distance.

Bu and I
Bu and me

 

 

 

 

The Oregon Plan, Unplanned

Before I get too far into things, I need to come clean about my obsession with order and planning. I’m one of those annoying types who plans for events months in advance. I can’t live without my planner.

Everything in my life becomes a mapped out, previously planned, scheduled ordeal, which often turns into a messy, chaotic, jumbled up disaster. You’d think I would have learned by now that you can’t always plan how life is going to unfold.

All right. Now that’s I’ve given you a little foreshadowing…

Friday was the big day. I was flying out to Oregon to spend some much needed time with friends and family, particularly Grandma. Grandma practically raised me. She was the safe haven when I was a child and well into my teen years. She’s 81 years young, and while she’s young at heart, even she’ll admit that she’s not gettin’ any younger. I wanted to spend more time with her, and parlay that into a visit with my sister, my best friend, other relatives… you know, the usual when you’re visiting your home town.

I also signed myself up for a half marathon in Vernonia, OR. Hey, why not?

Thursday (the day before my trip) I came down with something. Not just any old something. A stomach bug, with a fever in the 100’s to boot. I blame my husband. He’s been sick and passed his good fortune onto me. He’s great at sharing.

I wasn’t sure if Friday would even happen. The thought of flying and dealing with stomach issues seemed more than daunting, at best. I managed, but here’s how: I barely ate a thing. And even then, that didn’t safe guard me from having to make a pit stop in a  Minneapolis airport bathroom. (Forgive me, Minnesota). I even cut back on my liquids. Not the best choice while flying, but the last thing anyone wanted was for me to have a blow-out 15,000 feet up in the air.

By some miracle, I made it to the Portland, OR airport practically unscathed. And after fighting rush hour traffic, I finally made it to Salem, and to Grandma’s house.

Grandma is all about hospitality and making sure I’m comfortable. While a lot has changed, so much has stayed the same within the confines of her home. Like the photos in my old room. Always present, never changing. And she’s always giving me stuff to take home, especially gifts for my boys.

Little sis and I. Those pictures have never moved, not in all the years I've known my Grandma
Little sis and I. Those pictures have never moved, not in all the years I’ve known my Grandma

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Saturday I wasn’t out of the woods. My stomach was still a mess. While making a trip to the grocery store to pick up some stomach-friendly foods, my best friend called, luring me to her house with the promise of a relaxing couch and a blankie.

That’s where I stayed for the next 4 hours. Although we’re not related by blood, Goofy is like a sister to me. We’ve still maintained our silly nicknames we’ve called each other since childhood. Her children call me Aunt Chainsaw. My kids know her as Aunt Goofy.

Goofy and Chainsaw
Goofy and Chainsaw

Afterwards, I kidnapped Goofy and we headed over to my sister’s house. She recently purchased a new home and I wanted to see it live and in person. I got to spend much-needed quality time with my adorable nephew, too, who bears an uncanny resemblance to my little guy.

I made plans to pick up a pizza for Grandma and I, on the way home. It was getting late, my sister already had her dinner plans in place, and Goof had dinner waiting for her at home. After dropping her back at home, I received a text from my dad.

Sara, Grandma’s dog Cindy died.

Um, WHAT?

I had confirmed with Grandma not 20 minutes earlier that I was picking up pizza for dinner. There was no mention of one of her 3 poodles (who have been nicknamed “the dirty cousins” due to their total disregard for all things housebroken) getting sick, or even worse, dying!

When I got back to Grandma’s, pizza in hand, I didn’t know what I’d discover. Maybe my dad was mistaken, but when I saw Grandma’s tear-soaked face, I knew he hadn’t been. Cindy had passed away in her sleep, right after dinner plans were confirmed. She looked at my Grandma with her big brown soulful eyes, no indication that she was in pain or that anything was amiss. She’s been behaving strangely for a few days, but Grandma figured she was under the weather and had planned on contacting the vet first thing Monday morning. Instead, Cindy died peacefully at home.

Grandma wrapped her little body in a blanket and carried her into the garage, placing her in a large plastic storage tub. She didn’t want to leave her outside, for fear of what other animals might do. Vet clinics were all closed on Saturday night. We’d have to wait until Sunday, when the Humane Society was open.

I made the decision while eating pizza with Grandma that I wouldn’t run the half marathon. Although I felt better (I had 4 slices of pizza; must be getting my appetite back) I wasn’t leaving her to tend to Cindy’s affairs alone. Her pets are her kids and I knew she’d need someone to help her through her difficult time.

One Sunday, I thanked God that I got to be there for my Grandma, to keep her company and drive her to the Humane Society. She cried when the employee assisting us removed Cindy from the container. Grandma had Cindy since she was a pup. She would have been 12 years old in a few weeks.

Goofy had invited us to Silver Creek Falls, but Grandma declined the invite. A hike sounded nice in theory, but I got the impression she wanted some alone time. I went on without her, and even though we didn’t get to go around the falls, it was still a great time.

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Later, Grandma joined us for dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant. Afterwards, Grandma and I did what we always did when I was a kid; we scoped out the grocery store on the way home, purchasing chocolate and coconut cakes for dessert. If anyone questions my total need for sweets, blame Grandma. It’s genetic.

I’d noticed a sore throat for most of the afternoon, but I tried to ignore it, chalking it up to allergies. Monday morning, I knew it wasn’t allergies, but a full out cold. My husband had the same thing happen to him, so I figured it was par for the course. I kept it easy. I had lunch with Goofy, our last hurrah before I headed back home to NE. I visited with a cousin I haven’t seen in years, and I got to meet her adorable baby boy. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening watching Dancing with the Stars and relaxing, preparing for the journey home.

Yesterday I got stuck in Boise, ID due to bad storms in Salt Lake City, my connecting flight. On the plus side: I watched Night at the Museum (the 3rd one) while we waited for the weather to calm down enough for us to fly safely into Utah. The downside: I felt like crap, and had to carry around a pocket full of tissues so I wouldn’t dribble boogers from my nose.

Nothing I’d originally planned had worked out, not really. I’d planned on seeing another friend of mine and it didn’t pan out. I wanted to visit with my sister a little more, but she got sick sick, do did my nephew. I didn’t run the race, and I had a lot more down time than I’d anticipated I would have, but it all worked out the way it was supposed to, I guess. I spent a lot more time with Grandma, and I didn’t feel rushed or in a hurry to get from point A to point B. I learned a lot of really great information about my heritage and my family. (Did you know albinism runs rampant in my family? I didn’t know!)

Not much panned out, but I’m glad it didn’t. Sickness aside, I had a really great trip, and look forward to many more adventures in the future. (As long as there’s cake. Everything else can unravel, but there will always be cake!)

Poop Happens.

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

I wanted to go with a topic that wasn’t entirely thought-provoking or would cause me undue stress this week, considering the constant state of turmoil I feel I’m in lately. This brings me to this week’s topic. Poop.

Melissa and I chat frequently via e-mail and Facebook. We’ll share our anecdotal experiences with one another, you know, the ones you wouldn’t ordinarily share with other people who aren’t dealing with the same life experiences. Our last born children are mere months apart. Suffice to say, we’re both treading ill-begotten waters that are often filled with proverbial feces.

Wow, that sounds pretty gross.

The poop idea was suddenly born. Why not write about these ill-begotten experiences? Why not pave the way for silly bathroom humor?

The little guy used to have what he referred to as, “the poop spot”. When he said it, though, it sounded like “the poop pot”. It was one of those Black and Decker tool benches, filled to the brim with random plastic tools and fake wood and studs and nails.

He’d stand behind it, pull-up on and engaged for fillage, pooping to his heart’s delight while I would pull my hair out in frustration and annoyance. It wasn’t as though he had never pooped on the potty before. Of course he had. He peed pretty regularly into it, too. He’d managed to find a way to maximize his play time while taking a brief moment to defecate. How could I get angry with that? He seemed to master the concept of time management!

You’re probably thinking: “Why didn’t you just remove that dang blasted pull up? Obviously he’s pooping in it, because you’re allowing him to poop in it.” Yes. I thought of that. I figured I was one step ahead when I started making the little guy wear big boy undies for the majority of the day, limiting his pull-up time to nap time, or bed time. See, he wasn’t totally out of the woods yet with having accidents while sleeping; he was only 3 at the time.

Turns out, he was one step ahead of me. He was no dummy, that kid. He knew where the pull ups were, and while I wasn’t looking, or taking care of one of the many tasks I seem to acquire throughout the day, he would nimbly remove his underwear, replace them with a fresh pull-up, run to his tool bench and hide behind it, quietly doing the job while I was none the wiser!

I hid the pull-ups. He’d find them. I put them up where he couldn’t reach them, then he’d merely wait it out until I put a pull-up on him for his nap time or bed time. He almost always left a present for me.

I thought for sure my kid would be in a diaper through high school, at this point. He’d pee in toilets but poop in Depends. We went so far as to remove the tool bench and hide it away, which threw him off the trail temporarily, but he started looking for other places to hide his shame; under the kitchen table or behind the book shelf.

Then, my husband shared this video with our son, and our whole world changed.

I never really bought into potty training videos and books. It never worked on my eldest son. But then again, I wasn’t the one who potty trained him. I owe that to my Brazilian friend who cracked the whip and got him trained by the age of 3. I never thought my little guy would think twice about some minute and a half video with cute cherubic 2-year olds sitting around and making interesting “poop” faces.

Only, it did. It totally, totally did! The next day, I heard those words every mother wants to hear from her potty-training child:

“Mommy, come wipe my butt!”

He was 3 1/2 years old, and from that day on he pooped in the potty. That moment felt like the best day of my life. I squealed. I jumped up and down in sublime joy, I kept high-fiving him while he watched on with mild amusement. I don’t think he understood why I was acting all nutty and bizarre. He just wanted his butt wiped.

For many months after that fateful day, he’d sing the poop song while  re-enacting it. He’d follow the simple directions, making sure I’d wipe his bum until “brown left town”, as the lyrics go. Afterwards, we’d make sure to wash his hands, and then he’d start dancing around, just like the little kids do in the video. This was important work for my little guy, and I’d encourage it.

He doesn’t sing the song anymore, now that he’s 4. I guess he’s too mature now, or something. And while he still requests that I assist him in his toilet training, he hates having to make a pit stop and hates washing his hands even more. It’s become too taxing for him, but I make him do it, anyway.

On a related note, I saw this image yesterday on Facebook and felt an instant connection with it. It also fits in well with today’s theme.

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I went on a long run the other day, reminded of the time a good friend of mine and the best running partner I’ve ever had to date (aside from my husband; we make a pretty good team, too) and I were on a run together on the Papio trail. She’d injured her baby toe. Hell, I think we’d come to the conclusion that she’d actually broken the poor thing, but she was tough and ran on it anyway.

While that was going on, I felt what Pooh would describe as a “rumblin’ in my tummy”. This isn’t a rare occurrence in the running world. And sometimes, you take all the precautions you can to ensure poop won’t happen, but it doesn’t matter. The poop is gonna get you, and where there’s a turtle head pokin’, look out.

I had to poop. My friend’s toe hurt. She said the pain was manageable if we kept on running, but the more we ran, the more I had to go. We were at least a few miles out from our parked cars. The Papio trail doesn’t offer port-a-potties, no secluded areas hidden by trees, no rest areas. So, we took turns, shifting between running to relieve her foot, and walking so I wouldn’t poop my pants.

I found us to be in an extremely comical situation. When we’d walk, she hobbled and cursed out loud. When we’d run, I’d pray that I wouldn’t have a moment similar to this one:

In the end, we made it just fine and lived to laugh about it, giving us a moment we’ll never forget.

What are some of your poop horror stories, if you dare to share? 

 

Book Review: Revenge of the Cube Dweller

My review for Chick Lit Central:

Corporate sabotage was not in Tanzie’s job description per se, but she proves to be a natural at it–as well as her own little deceits.

Tanzie Lewis used to have it all. The stylish wife of a successful oil executive at the top of the Houston social scene, she used to spend her days playing scratch golf or lunching with friends at the club. That was before she was dumped in favor of a beautiful younger woman and the global financial crisis wreaked havoc on her divorce settlement. Now, at 52, Tanzie finds herself depressed and alone in Tulsa, watching her waist size grow and her professional opportunities shrink, working as a minion for clueless bosses in the internal audit department of the Bishop Group. So what’s a “girlie” to do? Snoop!

Taking advantage of Bishop Group’s security weaknesses, Tanzie begins to unravel the intricate warp and woof of corporate fraud, manipulation, and a cover-up that enrages her. Avenging the death of innocent Houstonians after a massive pipeline explosion, and uncovering her own hidden talents for sleuthing and cleverly tampering with the system, Tanzie dishes out her own justice to get even–and to get a little something for herself! (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Talk about girl power! When I was finished with Revenge of the Cube Dweller, I felt empowered, ready to take on the world and the injustices within my own life. I was impressed with all the sleuthing and detective work Tanzie puts forth, in order to right the wrongs she’s been privy to while slaving it in the corporate world. It’s a far cry from the life she’s used to. There was a time when money was no object, only now she has to watch herself, her ever shrinking pocketbook, and the incompetent doofs she’s unfortunately employed with and reports to.

One of the biggest draws to Tanzie is how relatable she is. She’s not perfect. There are flaws that make her believable, and very real. It made it easy to identify with her and understand the sort of transitional frame of mind she’s in, since going through a painful divorce and having to rely completely on herself. I was also impressed by her intelligence. Much of “Revenge” centers around Tanzie’s detective work. There are so many intricacies involved, some of which I’d never even heard of or knew you could do when wanting to spy on or obtain hidden information from someone who doesn’t even see it coming. It made this book a definite page turner!

I also enjoyed the detailed information Joanne Fox Phillips provides to us, the reader. Tanzie is an internal auditor, something I wouldn’t know the first thing about. I really appreciated learning more about this from Tanzie’s perspective. I feel it really helped to round her out even more as a living, breathing character. There’s nothing two dimensional about her. It also lent into her sleuthing skills. She has a calculative, formulaic mind, and it shows. She’s putting her best skills to the test, like any “Sherlock Holmes” would do!

I highly recommend giving this Tanzie Lewis novel a read. Immerse yourself in a little girl power!

“I Am What I Am…”

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

For this week, Denise asked us, “You’ve heard of the phrase, “he’s a man’s man”. I ask: Are you a woman’s woman?” 

Popeye. Yes, I realize he’s a man. A man’s man, I imagine. He has a famous expression, and it was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the topic for this week.

“I am what I am.”

What is a “woman’s woman”? I imagine some fashion-forward woman wearing a black pencil skirt and 5-inch high heels, taking the corporate world by storm. She knows how to dress impeccably and wear makeup. She knows how to be in charge of her own life and her own destiny. She doesn’t take shit from anyone.

I don’t fit this criteria. I don’t wear skirts or high heels, and I don’t work anywhere near an office. My business involves wiping a poopy butt when the 4-year asks for assistance, or reminding my soon-to-be 10-year old that he needs to _____________ (pick up his room, get dressed, brush his teeth, take a bath). I swear, the older kids get, the less they remember.

I’ve never known how to dress fashionably or in style. When I wear makeup, a rare occurrence, I hear, “Oh. You can’t even tell you’re wearing anything.” I thought that was a good thing. I’m not in charge of my life. My kids are. Ask them. Our jaunt to the grocery store this morning was a disaster and I endured plenty of shit while attempting to keep them in line. Why is it so hard?

Going back a couple of decades (gulp), I’m convinced the gene necessary to empower a woman with womanly impulses and desires totally skipped me. In high school, I carried a man’s wallet in the butt pocket of my jeans. I never, ever wore makeup. Chucks were my shoe of choice back in the day, and that tradition has carried me through the years. They are on my feet while I type this.

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I was different, but people accepted me. Not everyone did, but most people did. I’m sure I was known as the weirdo who wore Chucks with dresses and retro velvet patchwork skirts borrowed from my best friend’s mom (her mom was a real hippy, man) but it was okay. I wasn’t well versed in being ultra feminine and when I’d attempt to, it never ended well. It’s not every day your best friend yells at you and demands you wash your face of the makeup you’d carefully applied that morning. I was in my 20’s when that happened. Hey, at least I made an effort.

And I still do, on occasion. I want to know what it’s like to feel like a girl. I want to understand and appreciate making my face up, or wearing frilly things. I push myself beyond that comfort zone at times because I think it’s important to try new things. At the end of the day, though, nothing feels better than my husband’s pajama bottoms and one of his oversized t-shirts.

I think being a woman’s woman is being yourself and accepting that. Being the best you can be, no matter your fashion preference. I think it’s also about being confident in your own skin, and owning it. Being who you are.

Just like Popeye.

the last time I wore makeup and felt pretty in it
the last time I wore makeup and felt pretty in it

 

 

The Dead End to Somewhere…

Hello Thursday! Meet my blog group, comprised of a fantastic group of ladies  who will dazzle you with insight on various topics.  After reading my post, check out their blogs as well. Just click on:

Froggie (Tracey): One frog’s distinct voice on the world around her.

Merry Land Girl (Melissa): Tales of a suburban mom who likes to talk about pop culture, books, Judaism, family, friendship and anything else that comes to mind.

Darwin Shrugged (Denise): Civilized Observations in an Uncivilized World

This week, it’s a free for all. We pick our own topics, which works really well for me…

It’s been three years since I’ve successfully trained for a marathon. The last one was my Des Moines run. After that, I’d signed up for Kansas City, only to cancel at the last-minute due to illness. Then I stopped running.

Three years. Has it really been that long? I always figured getting back into training would resemble riding a strenuous, grueling bike. Sure, it would be tough, but I’d get back on it with ease.

That hasn’t been the case.

I feel like a newbie. All the old tricks up my sleeve don’t seem to work for me anymore. My body has changed, my mentality has changed. I used to push through the pain, injury be damned, but I can’t do that anymore. The hiatus from running has taught me to listen to my body, to care about protecting it from harm.

I am running an Oregon marathon in a little over two weeks. I don’t feel ready. It’s hard to train in Nebraska so early in the year, what with the snow and the icy conditions. And just when I feel I’m turning a corner, the weather is better, it’s going to get easier, more obstacles are thrown at me.

I pull the water belt from the mirror on top of the dresser. I’ve had it hanging there for years, unused. My body feels tired and worn out. I’ll admit, I haven’t been good about rest days. Training has been kicked into high gear. I’ve crammed in a lot of miles, attempting to make up for lost time during the winter months. Filling the plastic bottles with water is an old routine of mine but also a foreign thing to me now. I haven’t hit double-digit miles yet. Today is a 10-miler day. It’s been ages.

Surrounded by everything else, the water belt
Surrounded by everything else, the water belt

I make sure the Garmin watch, the iPod, are charged. I make sure to pack my arm band, so I can carry a car key with me during the run. All of this is haphazardly thrown into the car, a regular routine when you’re planning a run. In goes the water belt. I’m not a big fan of the water belt. It shifts and water jostles with every step I take, but I’m used to it. Even with the years of distance between me and that damn water belt, I know it’s something I will have to deal with.

The weather is cold today. That’s not a big deal. With enough layering, a hat, and gloves, 30-degree weather is doable. After dropping the little guy off at preschool, I drive to the trail. A couple of other cars are parked there. Most likely cyclists. I turn on the Garmin watch, letting it do its thing while I wait and get a look around. It was sprinkling earlier in the morning, but nothing too bad. It’s a gray and cloudy morning. The jogging trail’s cement form is easily seen through short, patchy brown grass.

Once the Garmin is ready, I walk a bit, warming my body up. Then, I get into a brisk jog. My upper body is screaming at me. Yesterday’s arm workout. I make sure to keep my pace light and easy. I could go balls to the walls, but I’ve already decided that I need to ease into the double digits. I need to get a feel for how my body will handle everything I’m putting onto it.

The wind starts to pick up. Wind is beneficial when it’s pushing you from behind, but your worst enemy when it’s coming at you from the front. It’s an added resistance I don’t want but I press through, staying at a 10-minute or so pace. I’m listening to music, I’m  zoning out and focusing on the pounding of my feet along the pavement. Cars are driving over me on bridges made of steel, but I don’t mind.There’s something tranquil, peaceful when I’m in this zone. My breathing is relaxed, my body moves at its own rhythm. It’s one of the many things I love about running.

Shit.

A barricade.

I can see it in the distance. I have to squint my eyes to read the sign.

ROAD CLOSED

I notice closer in that the barricade doesn’t entirely block the path. There’s a little bit of room for me to squeeze by, and I do, checking my Garmin watch in the process. I’m nearing 2 miles. I’ve seen barricades like this one before on the trail. Sometimes I’ve had to turn back, but there are other times that hasn’t been the case. Maybe I’ll get lucky today.

Or maybe not. Up ahead, I see construction workers. I can’t really tell what they’re working on, but I know there’s no way they’ll let me pass. The path is totally blocked off now, with skid steers and a bucket loader.

I turn around. This won’t deter me. The trail extends miles and miles in a few different directions. I can choose another way to go and keep at it. The little guy won’t get out of preschool for at least a couple of hours yet. Time is on my side.

Then the rain comes. I don’t mind rain, ordinarily. In the summer months, a rain feels like heaven during an intense run. It doesn’t feel so good in the cold, though. And then there’s that godawful wind. It picks up intensity, spraying water into my face. Nothing torrential, but it isn’t a light rain, either. It’s just enough to make me stop for a minute, and I put my gloved hands onto my water belted hips, laughing.

Maybe it’s the universe, speaking to me. I haven’t had a rest day in days. Maybe even weeks. My body is tired. Very tired. The path is blocked off, and now it’s raining. I decide to take all of it as a sign, and I head back for the car, squeaking in a 4-miler in the process.

A few years ago, I would have cursed my bad fortune. I would have probably continued running, even with the rain and the pain. I took training so very, very seriously and wouldn’t allow for anything to get in the way or interrupt what I’d had planned out. I couldn’t be flexible. I didn’t want to be.

Maybe it’s the break from running that has put my life into perspective, enabling me to enjoy what running does for my life as a whole. I’m not as focused on a stringent schedule. I don’t lament nearly as much when my plans are foiled. I may not meet my goal miles in time for this full marathon and I won’t freak out about it. There’s always the half, and that will be more than all right by me. I’m glad I get to run, period. Even when it’s a 4-miler that should have been a 10.

I throw the running gear into the passenger seat, removing the water belt as gingerly as I can. I make the decision to stretch when I get home. I also make the decision to take a rest day (today).

And let’s face it; there’s always tomorrow….

My first marathon
My first marathon

 

 

Book Review: The Marrying Type

review for Chick Lit Central:

Having read and reviewed Laura Chapman’s Hard Hats and Doormats, I was honored and very excited to be given the opportunity to read her latest novel, The Marrying Type.

Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future. (courtesy of Amazon)

I am a huge reality TV buff, and I felt I received a back-stage pass to a lot of the drama and chaos that ensues for Elliot while she attempts to save her family business, one bride at a time. She is constantly putting out fires, including her own. Then there’s the ex. Eric Warner had been “the one” for Elliot, years ago, before she ended things and not amicably, I might add. Who would have ever guessed that one of the brides-to-be who Elliot will work closely with, would end up being Eric’s sister?

I felt emotionally invested in Elliot. It’s a testament to how well Chapman has breathed life into her characters. It made it difficult to put the book down, because I wanted to know what would happen next, and if Elliot would ultimately have the happy ending she desperately wants and deserves. I found myself rooting for her and cheering when she stands up for herself in various pivotal scenes, or getting misty-eyed when things aren’t going according to plan. True to Chapman fashion, this book was an enjoyable read and a total page turner, every step of the way!

 

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