Monday, August 17, 2015

Punctuated Equilibrium, Changes and Almost a Year

I was a biology major. In college I was introduced to the concept of punctuated equilibrium, and it has stuck with me. Punctuated equilibrium and gradualism are both part of the evolutionary theory. Gradualism suggests that change occurred slowly over time. Punctuated equilibrium disagrees suggesting that the fossil record doesn't support gradualism. Rather, huge changes happened all at once and then everything settled down for a while.

I never taught biology after student teaching so may not have the theory exactly correct after all these years. Forgive me, but our lives have gone through some punctuation this year, and I could use a little equilibrium. I feel like the ground rumbled under my feet and a new landscape emerged. Because it did.
We planted this tree when we moved in 11 years ago.
It had a V but one part was broken in a storm. It's grown.
When I was in graduate school, I had a friend in a counseling program who was taking a class on change. A whole class. And he had books all about change: the nature of change, helping people with change and the effects of change. It seems many people have trouble finding the equilibrium or the "new normal." I'm not alone. Personally, I know I suck (I mean "grieve badly") at goodbyes especially when I don't know what lies ahead.

Let's recap. In the past year, one of our dogs passed away, we went to China to pick up my son, and we moved. All the while still doing the regular parts of life, like homeschooling, teaching and taking classes. There were doctors' appointments all over the county. Buying a house and selling a house. Packing all of our stuff and then unpacking (not really yet) all of our stuff. Doing homework until midnight. Grading and instructing. And we went back in time to diapers, nap time and strollers. Add in language acquisition, sleep issues and toddler tantrums. Leaving our home and neighborhood of 11 years. Settling into a new neighborhood. Travelling too. Rumble. Rumble.

Last time on the swing set

I've put on some weight. Actually, my son and I are pound for pound. His is catch up weight. Mine, not so much. It may be stress related. Last year at this time we were scrambling for flights and getting our ducks in a row to go. It's hard to believe it has almost been a year. It's been hard, but the good hard that stretches and grows you. Patience and perseverance isn't learned on the sofa with a bag of chips. I wish. My son has come so far. A friend was listening to him talk yesterday and understood him. Huge deal. His most used phrase is "I got it" because he thinks he can do everything himself. Everything. Two year old boy.
Everybody is tired. 
I am thankful that I can run again this year. Running with people like Bobbi, Kate, Carrie, Emily and Julie has been a saving grace. My ankle gets cranky, and I listen. I've already run two half marathons this season, Wisconsin and Grandma's. They are both great races, and I had good races. Win. Win. I did the Esprit de She Naperville Tri as well. I love that tri. It's fun and fancy. It was also my first time in the water at the race as well as the longest bike of the year. I'm training for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon in Oct and finished the first of the really long runs this past weekend. I'm not as strong as I'd like to be, but things are different. And that's okay.

Miles, smiles and sole sisters.
School is starting. My husband is back. My classes to take start today. Half my brood are going to school this year, and they are starting the same time my classes to teach start. We are keeping it classy. We will be a mixed family: homeschool and public school. I hope both sides are kind as we ride the fence. They can get pretty polar. I think it is what is best for us right now.

Anyway, this is long. Sometimes bloggers talk about little changes in their lives day by day or week by week. This year I couldn't do it. I didn't have the time, and I didn't have it in me. I hope to get back to a balance where I am posting more often. If I don't, life is still in flux and the landscape is still changing. Did I mention we also started potty training today?

Friday, January 9, 2015

I Remember Her Candor

I had a flashback after getting some news the other day. I thought about my mom.

I'm at a very sensitive time of my life remembering my mom. My girlios are in and around the age when she was sick and when she died. I marvel at the situation from the other side, as the mother, a healthy mother, with daughters. I have long forgiven my mind for having only a few memories. It was a hard time, and I was young. I had guilt for some time as I developed emotionally and cast my maturer emotions on old memories expecting more of myself at a young age. Watching my girlios at this age and seeing their priorities next to mine, I release myself all the more and let my childhood be a childhood. Feelings are more memorable than details.

I don't remember a lot about my mom. I remember her hands and the smell of Oil of Olay. I remember her and I fighting. I was a feisty child. I come from stubborn stock, and I have passed it on. I remember her making clothes for us on her Singer sewing machine. Her craft room was full of projects. She crocheted dolls and doll clothes. I remember her telling me that she learned to knit using spokes from a bike, I remember her undoing a sweater she made to make another one. It hangs in my closet. She sewed, crocheted, knitted, and drew. She walked me to school across the street the long way around the corner. On Valentine's Day she made me a Valentine's pillow and left it on my bed so I would wake up to it. I didn't notice it until she pointed it out.

I remember her being sick and bedridden. I remember the wigs that she wore out and her bald head after chemo. She looked good in a bandanna. I remember her last day at our house. My memories are few and scattered.

The memory that came back the other day was a conversation that she had with me and my brother. The conversation. She sat with us in our sun room to tell us that she only had a short time to live. She was honest about her condition, her illness and her prognosis. By that time she had been battling cancer for a long time. I absorbed it as much as my young mind could. She was very candid.

I count that conversation as part of her legacy. I admire her strength. Remembering it brings me to tears. As a mom now, I cherish that memory even more. That had to be heartbreaking conversation for her, especially to children who could not full understand. Being honest and straightforward with my children is something I strive to do. Sometimes it's hard. I hope to not have the conversation with my children my mom had anytime soon, but I do hope they appreciate the honest conversations we do have. I did. I do.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Recap of 2014 and Ready for 2015

Let's take a look at last year. After finishing the Naperville Marathon in November 2013, my right foot started hurting on runs. It got to the point where I actually went to the doctor in January, where my car also died on a major road on the way home, and it was -20 degrees out. Sweet. The doctor gave me the okay to run the Frozen Gnome 10k but I chose a DNS (Did Not Start) as my foot HURT. The doctor sent me to the podiatrist who made me snazzy orthotics, told me my calves were too tight and sent me to the physical therapist. I went through PT for months starting with picking up marbles with my toes which KILLED. I had neglected so many of my small muscles and tendons, and they were upset about it.

2 out of 3 DNS shirts. I think I may have thrown the other one out. Sad.
Meanwhile, we were matched with a beautiful boy from China who was younger than the ages included in our home study. So we filed an amendment on our home study to include his age and waited for the state to get its paperwork back. And we waited. And we waited. And I fretted. And we waited. China got our stuff together, and we still waited for the paperwork from the state.

My poor PT, who was fabulous, heard all about it, but he didn't hear about when the paperwork came. He said running the Wisconsin Half Marathon was not a good idea. Another DNS. I would show you a picture of that shirt, but I can't even find it. I did find the $20 deferment from last year. I'm already signed up for this year. He said I could do a Fall half marathon if I was very very careful in my training. I was doing ankle, core and hip exercises regularly. Basically, he said the whole body needed to be strengthened. My calves were tight and doing all the work.

Love that they do this if you can't run. Love it.
I did do the Esprit De She Naperville Triathlon again as an ambassador. I love that race. It's a full body exercise, and EDS puts on a great all women event. As slow of a runner as I am, I feel great running and actually passing people in the run. Nobody sees me crying in the swim. I'm an ambassador again this year on June 14. If you sign up too use code EDS033 to use me as a reference.

I also ran the Antioch Run for Freedom 5k. My parents and family friends run it too. My dad didn't medal this year because there were 4 men in the over 70 category and he was the 4th.

In other areas, I taught some lovely hard working students this year. I finished my first class in my MSM program, and my head spun. I love math, and I find it so interesting, but I can also feel inadequate. Getting over myself is a full time job.

No running medals this year, but cute shirts. 
In July, I said goodbye to my Seamus dog. Great sadness. In August, our paperwork got speed routed, and we had 13 days to get our act together to travel. THIRTEEN DAYS. I freaked out like it was my job. I ran 8 miles with Bobbi as my longest run of the year before heading out to China. To read more about our adoption read the current 5 part series here. God was so good to us. He is still good to us.

My Seamus dog
After coming home I decided to take another DNS for the Prairie State Half Marathon. Do you see a trend here? DNSs are sad. Don't get me wrong. I am glad I can still run, and that I am being body wise, but I still grieve the DNS. This year I stopped recording my miles on Dailymile. I even forgot my password. A hard fitness year. Let's call it a rebuilding year, because it was.

In an effort to keep my sanity, my fitness and my run, I joined my local Jazzercise. I love it, and my whole body loves it too. I'm stronger, and I know my weaknesses. And it's fun. My elder girlios come too - voluntarily. After a few weeks of Jazzercise, I ran the Kenosha Mayor Turkey Day 10k. I didn't come in last, and my foot didn't hurt. I win. As it has gotten colder, it has been fun to workout inside. I have to tell you that the people in class are inspirational. All different shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness doing something positive for their health. That's so good. The instructors are fabulous too.

Melanie teaches, encourages and makes Jazzercise look easy.
My sweaty self says, "It's not."
So there. What do I expect from this year? I resolve to thrive. That's my word for the year. I've seen it in my son. I want to see it in me. I may not run a marathon this year, but I want to feel strong. To make choices and create habits that encourage development. I'd rather not break anything again. I want to be strong mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. To grow vigorously and flourish. To THRIVE.

Thriving, like this guy.
See what I did there. I didn't make any measurable yearlong goals. Nope. Little goals. Little successes. A year full of wins.