Friday, May 26, 2017

This Is Marriage: Day 628

Our greatest strengths can at times be our greatest weaknesses. The things we love can at times irritate the hell out of us. But we persist. We challenge, we struggle, we grow. We learn better and we do better. Sometimes we break. If we're lucky, someone pours love and understanding into the cracks. And those annoyances transform into assets.

Pete and I are very independent people. It's one of the reason we get along so well but it's also the underlying source of our conflicts. We are two people used to having our own houses and our own lives who now have to figure out how to co-captain the same ship. Sometimes we're running around lakes and eating ice cream. Sometimes we're in the middle of an emotionally charged conversation and Pete farts on the counter and I am horrified (and also trying not to laugh at how someone could think plates belong on the couch and butts belong on the countertop) and I'm all like Oh my god, no one will ever want to come eat at our ever house again! and Pete is all It's fine, see? I'm cleaning it with 409. Some days we will argue about staying in a treehouse rental on vacation because Pete has no interest in treehouses and thinks it's out of the way and I cannot for the life of me fathom how anyone could doubt the awesomeness of a fancy treehouse. Most days I would rather mow the lawn than cook (Because outside chores are way more fun than inside chores. And screw you, stereotypical gender-based divisions of labor). Most days Pete will think floor piles are a good storage system. All the days we will agree on the necessity of cheese and crackers (and jokes about cutting the cheese).

Sometimes love is a cheese plate
Sometimes I will feel like I am failing at marriage and I just cannot even with this wife thing. One day someone will leave a note on my car accusing me of parking selfishly and the next day I will leave work to find a chocolate bar on my windshield and a card from Pete addressed to: The World's Best Parker. Some days I will be upset at Pete's habit of taking pictures of me when I'm not paying attention because they are THE WORST and MOST UNFLATTERING pictures ever. And he will say "they're so cute" and I will hate them until he is scrolling through them one day and I see a picture he surreptitiously took of me at my Valentine's Day party a few years ago. And I won't even care how terrible I look because my heart is too busy exploding in feels for MOZZIE!!

Wherever this ship is headed, I am the luckiest for having been invited aboard.

Marriage is a ship you build to weather any storm (and to take you to all the fancy treehouses, obvi!)

Lyric of the moment: "Someone swears their true love until the end of time. Another runs away. Separate or united? Healthy or insane? And be yourself is all that you can do..." ~Audioslave "Be Yourself"

Friday, May 12, 2017

How much is enough?

How much is enough? In running, in life? Am I strong/happy/intelligent/talented/wealthy enough? Am I good enough? At friendship, marriage, work, human-ing?

How many of you have asked yourself these questions? *raises both hands*

If so, let me propose two answers.

The First

There are so many better questions to ask. Questions like:

How can I help?
How can I be happy with less?
For what am I grateful?
Where am I struggling and how can I put more love there?
How are others struggling and how can I send some love there?

When we ask the how much is enough? questions, what we're really seeking is a jolt of reassurance (yes, you are doing enough, relax dude) or a slap of motivation (no, you could do more, get your butt going!). But they are false idols and you don't need either. Am I enough? is a judgmental question rooted in fear, insecurity or uncertainty. You don't have to worry about those things. You don't have to compare yourself to anyone else (or to your past selves). Life is uncertain and sometimes scary. But you can just let that be the truth it is without worrying about it or trying to change it (you can't change it, by the way. Sorry, dude. None of us can). If you let go of the impulse to judge or control things, there is no need for that line of is it enough? questioning. You can just be who you are, your own unique imperfect self, living your own unique imperfect life, and realize how amazing that is.

The Second

If you absolutely must know, then yes. You are enough! You are so fucking enough! (swears for emphasis on the fact that You. (yes, you!) Are. Enough). Whatever you are right now is enough. That doesn't mean you can't work hard or take on challenges or learn new things. Do all of those. They will change your life for the better. It just means that you are doing the best you can with what you know and what you have right now. And that's all any of us can do in any given moment. When you know better, you can do better. But there's no particular size or shape or income or any other arbitrary accomplishment you need to achieve in order to be enough. Wherever, whatever, whoever you are right now, you are valuable and beautiful and awesome. You are enough.

Let me reiterate, in case you still have doubts:

how much is enough
Hugging sea lions agree that you are so fucking enough

It's true. Read it (over and over and over, if you have to) until you believe it. The more you can accept and internalize this, the better your life will be. You will be more compassionate with yourself and others. You will stop taking things personally and your interactions with other people will improve. It will create a space of grace that will allow you to act from a mindset of gratitude and generosity rather than a mindset of fear and inadequacy. Give yourself that space. Give others that space. It's the nicest gift.

Lyric of the moment: "When we grew up, our shadows grew up too. But they're just old ghosts that we grow attached to. The tragic flaw is that they hide the truth. That you're enough. I promise you're enough..." ~Sleeping At Last "You are enough"

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Medved Madness 2017

This year Medved Mudness would be a more appropriate name for this race. Though running 15 miles through mud and rain, on a course that runs through a pond, does require a certain amount of madness. Pete signed us up for this race months ago, but after a rainy week with nothing but rain, rain and more rain predicted for the weekend, I started to get cold feet. Cold rain is my least favorite running weather. Well, that's not entirely true. I suppose that honor belongs to hail. But when I woke up Friday morning to a steady rain, I figured eh, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em and ran a few miles to acclimate myself to the deluge. Saturday I went to play on the Crescent trail for 4 hours with Bertrand, Green, Mertsock and crew. There were a few very wet and muddy sections but most of the trail was in decent shape and luckily the rain held off until we were done. I knew I wouldn't be so lucky on Sunday.

Sure enough, my figurative cold feet turned into literal cold feet less than a mile into the race. At the starting line, Mort had promised us four things: mud, wet feet, good food and beautiful trails. Madness/Mudness delivered on all four. The first (blue) loop, I ran with Pete. It was like some kind of weird mud tasting event where we sampled all the different types of mud - brown stinky mud, black slightly less stinky mud, shoe-sucking calf-deep mud. It wasn't too bad though. We've definitely run through worse mud (I'm looking at you, Finger Lakes 50K 2015). After 5ish miles, and running around the bucket in the pond, per course directions, we ran back through the start/finish chute (well, I ran. Pete moonwalked). We high-fived Mort and headed out for the second (pink) loop.

By this point, everyone was spread out so we got to run the next 5ish miles with the woods mostly to ourselves. I've missed running with Pete and it was so nice to get in 10 miles together, even though it was a bit cold for my liking (Though there are far worse things than having to wear gloves in May). Loop two wasn't terribly muddy, at least in comparison, although it was decidedly windier in places. The sun managed to peek out a a few times, but then it would get cloudy and drizzly again. Pete decided he wanted to stop after 10 miles and at first, I was a little bummed that I'd have to run the third loop alone, but once I was out there running, I was like a kid me in a candy store. No matter the weather or whatever else is going on in life, once I'm out there, I'm just running wild and free and happy. 

I'd left my hydration pack with Pete and decided I would try to finish the third (orange) loop in under an hour. This was by far the muddiest loop. And that's really saying something. I walked through the obscenely muddy spots where it was hard to judge how deep it was, but I ran all the rest. It started to rain again, but I was warm enough and close enough to the finish that I didn't really mind. I was just happy that I felt so good (thanks, body!). Even Cardiac Hill seemed shorter than usual. And I did manage to finish this loop in under an hour. It may not have been the smartest way to end a 52 mile week, but it was fun. 

Madness is one of those races I have to be talked into (I don't like Sunday races), but every year I leave full of salt potatoes and very glad I ran it. Because running for hours in the woods is a kind of madness. The very best kind.

Conehead & Husband Man on the far right. Photo by Daniel Medved

Previous episodes of Madness: 2106  2015  2014

Lyric of the moment: "There was a time when my world was filled with darkness, darkness, darkness. And I stopped dreaming, now I'm supposed to fill it up with something, something something. In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody I knew before, long long long ago. But I'm still trying to make my mind up. Am I free or am I tied up? I change shapes just to hide in this place but I'm still, I'm still an animal..." ~Miike Snow "Animal"

Monday, May 1, 2017

Rebuttal to the body shamers

This morning during a HIIT class at the gym, the instructor mentioned how it was now shorts season, then made some unkind remarks about a random stranger she had seen who was wearing very short shorts, had "dimpled skin" and was "too young to not be toned." It had nothing to do with the workout and made me not want to go to this particular class again. Early morning runs/workouts are my favorite way to start the day. Listening to disparaging remarks about strangers is not. I know judgments are more about the judger's own insecurities than anything to do with the judged. Happy, self-actualized people don't feel the need to denigrate others to feel better about themselves. Yet I still felt saddened and disappointed by her words. Society inundates us with so many judgmental and body-shaming messages as it is and to see women doing this to other women is disheartening. The instructor wasn't talking about me but she might as well have been. I wear short shorts when I run or work out. I don't have a perfectly toned butt or thighs. I have cellulite, bruises, scars. But I don't think this makes me any less of a runner/woman/person. My self worth isn't defined by the way I look. I care far more about the size of my heart than I do about the size of my ass. I didn't take her comments personally, but they still bothered me because that body shaming mentality is so pervasive in our culture. And I felt compelled to spread a counter-message of love and acceptance and awesomeness. So this is my rebuttal.

I often Instagram pictures of me practicing chin-ups on my home chin-up bar. Not because I'm good at chin-ups. I'm actually terrible at chin-ups. But I'm good at effort and persistence. I'm an ordinary person attempting extraordinary things, again and again, and becoming stronger in the process. So this is a picture from the other side. These are my not-toned legs. They are strong and have run thousands and thousands of miles. These are my shortest and most toucan filled shorts. They are ridiculous and I love them. These are my not-toned arms. They work hard to pull me up (since I haven't yet figured out how to levitate). This is me, perpetually trying to be a stronger, kinder, better person. This is my wall, which reminds me "You must not be afraid to dream a little bigger my dear." This is me telling you that you are beautiful and amazing and capable of epic things. In fact, you're a rare, limited edition, one-of-a-kind masterpiece of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. And so is everybody else. So let's use our words and actions to build others up instead of tearing them down. Let's be excellent to ourselves. Let's be excellent to each other. And let's work hard and party hard for as long as we're lucky enough to be alive.

Lyric of the moment: "All of your flaws and all of my flaws. When they have been exhumed, we'll see that we need them to be who we are. Without them we'd be doomed..." ~Bastille "Flaws"