Category: marriage (page 1 of 5)

Please Don’t Make Me Juggle

We talk a lot about failing and succeeding, about balancing and juggling, balls dropped or kept aloft. I just wish there was another way. Can’t we just meet each challenge as it comes? Decide what is the most important thing to do right now and do it? Hold on to what we have and move forward?

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I don’t want to feel as if I’m falling, like I’m going to hit the ground. I don’t want to fear that hurt, that abruptness of finding that I’m not able to stand on my own two feet. I don’t want to have to worry that I’m going to drop something and that everything else will fall in the scramble to prevent chaos — only to find that the chaos is inevitable.

But I don’t often get to choose. It’s not my life I’m carrying. I never know what things should be left, and what I should scramble to hold onto. Sometimes the things I think can be left behind or wait until I get back to them turn out to be someone’s most urgent priority, their most beloved possession.

So that is where I get tripped up: what is worth risking the twisted ankle and bruised shoulder for — because everything matters to someone. I may think it would be crushing if I didn’t go to the musical performance, write the napkin joke, sing the bedtime song. But, really, it would only be crushing to me. Someone else could live without it, might not even notice it’s absence.

But then, when I absent-mindedly push the precious, coveted elevator button, or add the last cup of oats to the granola mix, I sometimes tip the scales and set off a reaction that cannot be contained. The tears, the sadness, the anger spill out with unexpected power. They flow through the apartment, the day, and my own spirit. I try to keep a level head, maintain perspective, be understanding, and clean things up, make them better. But still. They seep and leech and before I know it I am covered inside and out with guilt, disappointment, confusion.

How did this happen? How did I get so off balance that I could cause such a devastating blow? How did everything change moods and directions so suddenly? Will I ever be able to wash out the stain from this particular spill entirely? Will I carry it with me, a sad reminder of my inability to be aware of everyone else’s feelings and prioritize them appropriately? Will I be able to purge it and start over again, clean, happy, pure . . . naieve?

Or am I destined to be sadder but wiser again and again and again, until I am burdened — and balanced — with that sadness and wisdom.

I guess that’s why we talk of juggling, of balancing. We worry about falling, and dropping things because we carry everyone’s feelings in our hands, and everyone wants to be on top sometimes. And the risk we take for trying to make that happen is that sometimes, they all fall down. Even our feelings. Especially our feelings.

Home

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Japan.

Japan is where we went, Japan is what we saw. We didn’t go there with a plan, exactly. We didn’t have a list of things we needed to see. Just some cities to travel to and a loose schedule of when we wanted to come and go from each place. We each took one backpack with a few changes of clothes and not much else. We travelled light with the hope that it would make it easy to see and do as much as we could.

We were a little nervous about doing things that way. What if we were so indecisive that we didn’t do anything? What if we missed all the best stuff? What if we ended up so frustrated with each other that by the end of the trip we were hardly on speaking terms?

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Ha. Ha ha ha! HA!

It was awesome. It turned out pretty much as well as we could have hoped for. We saw so many great things, went to so many beautiful places. By 10:00 nearly every morning we would turn to each other and say: “Well, if we see nothing more today, it has already been worth it.”

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The first day there was the Christmas Hotel we ran across on our way to the temple in Narita. And while we later learned it was a “love hotel” — not as scandalous/trashy in Japan as it might be in the US — it totally put a spring in our steps as we walked the rest of the way to the temple.

Then there was the castle we stayed across the street from in Nagoya. Breathtaking by day and night. We ran around it a couple of times and marveled at it from every angle.

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Even more breathtaking were the thousands and thousands of orange gates and the hike we took — off the beaten path — to get to the top of the shrine that they led to.

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We ran to the Golden Temple in Kyoto and rubbed shoulders with all the uniformed school kids there. We bumped into some missionaries from our church on the ferry to Sado Island. (They were thrilled, and stunned, to run into a couple of English-speaking church members in such a remote place.) We went to church at the Tokyo English-speaking ward and made friends with a family there who invited us over for dinner that night and took us to an observation deck in downtown Tokyo the next day so we could really see the city.

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And we walked until our legs hurt. Our unofficial motto was “Climb Every Staircase.” It served us well as we biked around Sado and stopped at every trail that looked remotely interesting. One time we climbed 300 steps to the top of a hill, only to find a couple of burnt out buildings. Then we turned around and saw the most amazing view of rice fields and mountains. Three hundred steps well worth it.

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Every now and then we thought of our kids, back at home with their aunts. How were they holding up? Were they missing us? Would they be mad at us when we got home? But mostly, we savored the time spent together with no distractions and no interruptions. We fell back into our natural habit of walking and talking, talking and walking. And seeing things — all kinds of things — from a different place.

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The trip was technically my first international experience, but I have to say that even though we were in a foreign country, it felt very much like home. Nagoya — the first city we went to, with the castle — felt especially welcoming. Almost like it was auditioning for us. But Sado Island took me back to our days in Hawaii. And big bustling Tokyo was a clean, courteous, more organized version of New York.

In fact, while “home” — where our kids were, where we would be returning to — was many thousands of miles and half a day behind us, it was easy to forget that we weren’t there already, and that we wouldn’t be putting the kids to bed when we got to the bottom of the mountain we just hiked. It was easy, in fact, to imagine that someday we actually would be putting the kids to bed after a day of hiking mountains in Japan. Because that would be where we lived. Someday. Not any time soon, but not never.

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Until then, I’m happy to be back to our present home, where our little munchkins greeted us with surprising gusto. And I’m happy to be packing up our that present home so that we can move to another one (five blocks away) at the end of the week.

Home is always changing, isn’t it? I don’t see why someday it couldn’t be in Japan.

Out to Lunch

Yeah, I know I said I would post more notes from Women in the World in a couple of days but, well, I didn’t get around to it and Micah and I are heading out on a little vacation for a couple of weeks.

We’re celebrating 10 years together! The best 10 years, for sure. And for sure the best way to kick off the next 10 years.

More stories and good times when I get back, but until then… I’m out to lunch.

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Micah’s Got Next

For weeks and weeks I’ve been looking forward to being DONE with the marathon. I was so tired of running every day, so tired of pushing the darn stroller with two kids in it, so tired of logging miles. I imagined that my post-marathon life would be full of playdates and free time, that I would have more time to write, more time to sleep, more time to cook, more time to . . . not make myself so tired.

But then the taper happened. I rested up. I was less stressed about logging miles. And running was fun again. I wanted to do it everyday. I wanted to run a marathon every year at least. I wanted to be as fit as I am now for always. I wanted to never. stop. running.

And of course, that is still the plan. To never stop running. But for now, it’s time to pass the baton. I’ve been telling Micah for months that he’s got next. It’s his turn. He’s been holding my horses for me for a couple of years and, now that his body is feeling better, it’s time for him to go get his. meandmicah

As much as I want to sign up for all the races while I’m still riding the post-race high, I need to catch my breath. So I’m going to stay true to my word and pull back a bit. I’ll still run, yes. I’ll still race, even. But Micah gets to do what he wants to do first, while I hold the horses along the sidelines.

And while I still (always) put my family first, I’m hoping to focus a little more on my writing. Maybe get a little more sleep. (I never realized how awesome 8-hour nights were until I tried it for a whole week!) Possibly be a better friend. But mostly, I want to be as supportive of Micah and his goals as he’s been to me and mine.

It’s only fair.

Maintaining the Relationship

If you want to really get to know someone, you try to see them in all sorts of situations. You go on a road trip together before you get married. You volunteer at a soup kitchen. You play on a sports team together. You cook together. You eat the food you cook. (Or maybe you don’t.) You put the leftovers from that failed meal into tupperware and laugh about it on the way to find some real food. And if, after many many many varied activities you still like each other and think it sounds like a good idea to do even more crazy things together (like raise children, move across the country, jump from job to job to job, constantly be wondering where you’ll be 6 months from now) then you’re golden. Go for it. Tie the knot.

It can be tempting, I’m sure, to think that you’ve spent sufficient time with someone, that you know them, that you’re committed to them, even if you haven’t seen them in all types of lighting. Certainly spending 4 hours cleaning together every morning for a year at your campus custodial job is enough time to really get to know someone. I mean, 4 hours a day for a year! And at 4am! Can’t hide your real self from that.

Folks, sunny beach light is a whole different thing from compact fluorescents. For better or worse. So drop the mop and grab your swimsuit.

It can be hard to branch out, I know. To see sides of someone that were previously unknown to you. What if they don’t like you-at-the-beach? Or you-on-a-train? Or you-in-the-dark? Or you-in-the-rain? What if you don’t like them? What if the pick-up soccer game on the weekend spells the beginning of the end of your relationship?

Well, so be it. Better to find out now than later, right?

But if you do decide you’re committed and you’re going to stick together forever and always, the fun has just begun. Because now part of the challenge is to find new ways to do new things. With less time. And more “important”* responsibilities. A relationship can only go so far on stay-at-home dates and Blue Bunny ice cream.

So you learn to be flexible. You realize that not all dates have to take the whole evening, or even a whole hour. Sometimes it’s nice to just take a walk around the block – and go the opposite direction than you normally do. (Though taking a weekend trip every now and then is certainly a great idea, too.) Anything out of the ordinary, anything that keeps you on your toes and your brain engaged is a good thing.
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It’s the same with any relationship. Even – frivolous as it may sound – your relationship with running. Which is why I’ve been making the effort to test out new paths in the park, or to try a different route altogether when I’m in a time crunch. I’m even trying to switch up my shoes a little more frequently.

If we’re going to be together forever, running and I, we’re going to have to work a little harder to keep things interesting. I’m not going to let this love crash and burn simply because I’m on autopilot. (Which, incidentally, I don’t think I am. I love running more now than I did 5 years ago. But still, what am I missing out on by just doing a counterclockwise loop around the park every run?)

Have you ever gotten burned out of a hobby you thought you’d love forever? Do you ever miss it?

*There’s really no more important responsibility than the one you have to your spouse and your marriage. Not even your kids. Sometimes they are more urgent, but when it comes down to brass tacks, marriage holds the trump card.

So, What’s Next?

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I started thinking about what I wanted to do after Boston months ago. Training was going so well and I was having such a good time that I decided I might as well take advantage of the fact that I’m not pregnant and train for as many races as possible. So I signed up for a half marathon in Utah so I’ll have something to do when I’m visiting my family in June. Oh, that and the fact that we’ve participated the past two years and several other members of my family are running the marathon or half marathon, so it seemed like a good thing to be a part of. It’s tradition!

But aside from training for that and various other races, I have a couple of other things I want to do, too. Like stop being so selfish. Micah has been really great about doing whatever he needs to do – and I need him to do – so that I could train and qualify for Boston, so that I could run while I was pregnant, so that I could train and run Boston. And he’s been nursing some injuries for a long time now. I think it’s time to focus on getting him better so that he can chase his dreams too, and not just hold my horses for me.

And then there is the Manchild. He did such a stellar job at the Mile for Midwives 5K last year, but he was right in that I neglected to train him properly. I’m hoping to do a better job this year. I’m also hoping to take advantage of some morning-run time to take him out one-on-one for a quick lap or two around the block. Over time I hope we can do a couple of miles together. He’s looking forward to running together while I push his little siblings in the stroller, but I think that might be a little ways off. For now I think it will be good for us to run and talk and see if he likes this kind of thing as much has his parents do.

But for the next week or so, I’ll be resting and rollingmy legs and trying to get that IT band back to normal. And counting my blessings that I have a family who has been so supportive as I’ve run after my dreams. Time to return the favor.

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Love in Little Things

20130215-134645.jpgI feel loved when someone sends me an article or a recipe they think I will enjoy, or tells me something they think my kids would like.

I feel loved when someone asks me to do something small for them – to watch one of their kids for a minute while they change a diaper.

I feel loved when we’re invited on outings or to events with friends.

I feel loved when someone volunteers to watch our kids so we can go out.

I feel loved when I am part of a community.

I feel loved when someone responds to me, when I feel heard and seen and appreciated.

And I feel loved when I can do the same for others: when I can share something with them, or when I can take joy in their lives and their children, or when I can let them get me out of a tight spot, or when I can help create a community, or when I can show people how glad I am to know them, that I am thinking of them, that they are important to me.

What are the little things that you make you feel loved? What are the little things you do to show your love in real life?20130215-134828.jpg

This Week in Marathon Training + More Love in Real Life

20130212-223129.jpgI wore normal running shoes this week. To run in. Which I haven’t done since before Squish was born. It was a little weird and I didn’t love it. In fact, I didn’t even like it. I would, in fact, go so far as to say it was the worst run I’d been on in months.

True, it had just snowed a lot. It was cold. Windier than I’d expected. And I hadn’t been feeling great to begin with. But the shoes added insult to my already-injured psyche and I blame them for the soreness in my hips.

Still, they did make 12.5 miles on a cold Saturday afternoon possible, if not enjoyable, and I owe them some gratitude for that.

It’s a shame the week had to end that way because, if I remember correctly, the rest of the week was pretty darn good. I had my first really encouraging speed workout – a 4-mile tempo run that was up to par with previous times and felt good. And although I spent Monday morning on the yoga mat rather than in the park, I got the rest I needed and put in plenty of miles as well.
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And when I got home from each of those runs Micah was ready to head to work, having prepared breakfast for the boys and kept the Little Miss happy if she happened to wake up before I got home. After Saturday’s long run, he fixed me some hot chocolate (Micah makes the best hot chocolate) while I wandered aimlessly around the apartment, oblivious to everything that was going on.

It’s not a big deal, Micah getting breakfast on, but it makes a big difference to me. I don’t feel guilty leaving the boys sitting on the couch while I go out because I know Micah’s going to feed them while I’m gone. And then he’ll greet me with a kiss when I get home, even if I’ve put in an extra mile and made him late for work. #loveinreallife

Record Keeper

I’m a compulsive journaler, a habitual record-keeper. I knew this about myself already, but it wasn’t until my sister-in-law asked me this week about my journaling methods (and my madness) that I had a chance to confront the problem in detail. This is what it looks like:

I’ve been keeping a hand-written journal daily since I was 11 years old. I have dozens of books filled with my daily actions and thoughts and emotions. Those volumes are much more turmoil and tedium than I can possibly contemplate re-reading. Someday, someone might, and I hope I am good and dead when they do it. If I’m not, I will probably die of embarrassment by the time they got to volume 2. I persist in writing, however, not only to record the thoughts and events of my life, of course, but also to sort and store my emotions and confusion.

If I just kept a daily, personal journal, that would probably be enough to keep me sane and self-reflective, but since I crave outside recognition as well, I started writing a family blog soon after Micah and I got married. This is less personal, less emotionally laden, more event-driven, and more for family and friends who are keeping tabs on us from a distance. It is also, I hope, more fun to read.

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Then, just because I’m crazy, I started this blog as well. It is slightly less journalistic, but definitely follows the ups and downs of our lives. I try to post things that are not entirely specific to my family here. I hope that there is something relatable for parents, runners, and those who love them. Or at least a good story or something thought-provoking or inspiring.

It doesn’t stop there. The new people in my life need journals, too, and if I don’t keep them, who will? I try to write in them 4 times a year: at birthdays and New Years. I write about their interests and fun/funny things they do, what is going on in their lives, who their friends are, what we are struggling with and what we are proud of. That kind of thing. And that’s in addition to the baby books that record all their milestones and such. Their lives are well-recorded.

After that it’s just random notes and notebooks in various places. Some on my phone, some in notebooks, some on scraps of paper. These are mostly ideas I jot down on the bus, or notes I take on talks and speeches and lessons – thoughts on things to write about, or ways I can improve my life, or funny things to share with Micah when I see him next.

But that doesn’t include the photos, which have evolved from “supplemental material” to a journaling method in itself . . . .

I wonder at times if all or any of it will mean anything to anyone down the road. But even if it isn’t, I’ll do it anyway because it means something to me to be my family’s historian/documentarian/journalist/photographer/record-keeper. I like it. I enjoy it. I think it is important to tell the family’s story, or to have a family story to tell, to share, to relate to, to improve upon.

What about you? Do you keep a journal? Are you organized about it? Is keeping a record important to you? Or do you immerse yourself in the experience, enjoy it as it’s happening, and call it good?

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In 50 Years

Micah and I used to run together a lot. It was our thing. We’d go out with the boy(s) in the jogger before work, or on a Saturday morning. We’d do speed work and long runs side by side. We’d talk through the long laps of the park and distract each other from the cramps and blisters and aches that invariably arise during those miles.

And during those runs whenever we passed an older person, gray-haired and wrinkled, we’d nod at them and say, “That’ll be us in 50 years.”

Sometimes those years seem right around the corner, a natural extension of our life and who we are as a couple.

But other times, it seems like it’ll be forever until then – until we’re able to run together instead of tag-teaming at the door of our apartment, until we’re able to give each other the full, undivided attention that we seem to only have when we’re moving, unencumbered, together – focused on the same goal, working toward the same finish line.

This essay made those years seem a little closer, and little more exciting, a little more attainable. I’m sure as we near the final laps of life – after we’ve weathered more storms, conquered more hills, enjoyed more stunning views – we’ll count each step we’ve taken together and each mile we’ve completed as a blessing.dontwelookgood

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