Friday, December 5, 2008

Choosing the marathon over the sprint

(pic - me on Melanie's heels, knocking off marathon number 5 in St. George, Utah, 10-4-08)

I've put off blogging since September. Some days it was purposely - what to say? - but most of the time, I simply have been too busy living to chronicle life. That is my dilemma with taking pictures, too - when I am behind the camera, I miss out on the fun! In high school, I journalled about everything. I remember my Dad commenting as I bolted from the table after dinner one night when I was 16, "I hope this is one good book you're writing." I hope so too, Dad. At that time, I think I did a lot more commenting on my uneventful life than actually living it. Now I live it and comment much more rarely.

Events of late include: 1) my marathon on October 4 (3:45:46, qualified for the 2010 Boston Marathon by a hair!); 2) our subsequent week-long camping trip in Zion National Park; 3) a charter school conference I prepared and ran a booth for on behalf of Ironbody and their Fittest Kids program ( in early November; 4) our family's Thanksgiving feast, for which I roasted a turkey AND a chicken (just in case!) and made stuffing and gravy and a 2-layer birthday cake for my parents which looked a mess but tasted fantastic; 5) my close friend Alisa Lyon's wedding to her new husband Eric Sloan which I had the priviledge of attending tonight AND at which I read a marriage blessing; and 6) Open Door Fellowship's Run for the Fund 5K which I've been helping organize for the past month and which takes off tomorrow morning at 9:00 am. Which means it is idiotic of me to be sitting up at almost midnight tonight blogging about all this, because I have to be at the park with the banners and boxes of fruit at 6:30 am, but hey, to get all of the above done I have not made long sleep nights a priority of late so why start now?

I've enjoyed all of those exciting accomplishments (I'm very confident the race tomorrow will be an accomplishment and not a disaster). I am sad, however, that in accomplishing all of the above, I have missed out on some important things. The little things. Things like quiet times on the couch with my Bible and journal, or just a good book. Things like date nights with my husband, which got replaced by nights spent side by side at our computers, as I designed T-shirt logos and marketing text and business cards and banners and looked up stuffing recipes. I've missed things like reading to my kids and playing card games or chasing them around the house, replacing that time with running around town like a mad thing. I've been trying to fit my running and other training around turkey and perfect wedding present shopping trips and visits to the park and visits to Grandma's care home and client training and holiday parties, as the days get shorter and colder. And my husband and kids, sometimes patiently and sometimes exasperatedly, put up with all this craziness.

So I ask myself, is this being a renaissance mom? Or am I just insanely busy? These are all wonderful things I've signed up for, but is that a good enough excuse? When do I cross the line from productive to unproductive busy-ness: is the difference dictated solely by the sheer number of things on my calendar, or by my emotions surrounding the activities, good or bad? or by the stress my husband and kids may or may not show, or by my lack of quality time with them? Or all of the above? I thought of my mom, who in classic mode shuffles away from hours spent rough-housing with her grandchildren insisting, "But I had so much fun!" And she spends the next week on a heating pad on the floor, recuperating. When do we draw the line?

I guess I have to keep redrawing the boundary every day. On days I notice my back beginning to spasm, or the short temper I have with my poor kids just being kids, and have to draw the line that day - I will choose not to mop the floor, for instance, or run that extra errand, or stay up late on the computer that night. Or perhaps, as I have recently, I will notice the trend of not reading to my kids or getting dates with my husband, and I will turn off the phone and put off Audrey's nap for another half hour to spend with them, or actually call a sitter for the much needed time with the man I married twelve years ago, and remember what it was like to pay attention to him alone for a little while.

I watched my friend Alisa get married tonight. It was beautiful and yet I knew, from comments she'd made, that many of the beautiful touches were so inexpensive - the dress found on deep discount, her shoes at a closeout sale, no bevy of bridesmaids in ugly dresses, little name cards marking our dinner spots made by her friend, and an intimate group of less than thirty people witnessing the event altogether. It was beautiful, and I knew that she got it. She figured out that balance for herself as she planned her wedding, and spent more on the week of honeymoon than she did on the wedding. She put more effort into getting to know her man over the past few months, and making sure he was a man of God worth spending their life together, and planning the rest of their life together, than worrying over long attendee lists or the color of the invitation envelopes. She gets it. Not that I am surprised, she is a smart girl. God's put her through a lot to get to this place. I only hope that I get it, too. That I continue to make wise choices, as she has, about my investment of time in the long haul, not the short dash. The marathon, not the sprint.

Hmm, that's a good thing. I've never been a good sprinter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

in the home stretch

>study in time flying: Audrey 6 mos vs. Audrey 3 yrs.

I realized mid-email tonight that 3/4 of this year is over. Gone, done, past, bye-bye. I took my daughter out tonight on a girl-date with a few of our girlfriends, and watched Audrey acting like a little girl. She's just not a baby anymore. She insisted on sitting in a highchair at the ice cream parlor for some reason, and spilled some of her lime-green ice cream on the floor, but she's not a baby any more. At least I could still read her stories tonight and tuck her in bed and know she'd be asleep in a few minutes. My son Jude is getting so big he insists on reading stories to me or worse, just to himself, and climbs into his bunkbed and tries not to sleep for the next hour in case we watch TV.

Today I also visited my grandma on our weekly trek to her care home. My grandfather passed away when Jude was a month old, and I don't think any of us thought she'd survive this long. She turns 94 this December, and has Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and slowly advancing kidney failure. She had a bandage on from trying to punch one of the caregivers last weekend - my kind, sweet-tempered, wouldn't-say-boo-to-anyone Grandma! - and I just listened to her try to remember the right sequence of words for saying grace before lunch, and watched her doze off while we worked a puzzle, and couldn't help laughing with her when she shook with laughter at Audrey making silly kissy faces during lunch. She is not the Grandma I used to know - the one that created a thriving vegetable garden from the sandy Yuma soil in their backyard, and used to fry up cornmeal-battered catfish like nobody's business. But I also never know when she may be gone forever, so for the memories, and the hope that she is comforted even on days she doesn't seem to remember us, and for my kids to know what it's like to love someone just because, and a hope that someone will visit me if ever I am in such a position, we keep going. And the weeks go by.

Yesterday I noticed my friend Sylvia has been secretly expanding with her unborn baby - number three, due next February. I forget she is pregnant sometimes, with this baby. I think she forgets she is pregnant, sometimes. Poor third babies, I think. At least Sylvia is one of those intentional moms that saves cute artwork and takes pictures and writes down the mile-markers of baby's first year.

Another marker of time passing. Victor turns 41 this weekend. No birthday bash this year (sorry, sweetie, last year was the big one!), but maybe a new gas grill for the backyard if he's lucky.

Lastly, I have two weeks left to my marathon in St. George, UT. October 4, the big day, draws nigh. The website (, of course) lists 16 days, 8hours, 33min and counting. Yikes! Actually, I feel very physically ready for the marathon - long runs, speedwork, weights, and the half marathon 2 weeks ago all indicate a good race. (And now I finally get to taper!) But I feel not at all ready for the camping trip in Zion National Park to follow, which requires more logisticial preparation of grocery shopping, gear-checking, vehicle tuning, and packing. I hope we can fit everything in the truck. Nissan Pathfinders are not the roomiest of SUV's, especially with 2 kids and their bulky carseats taking up the back seat. And all their books, and their latest favorite toys, and Blankie and "Robey" and Bear (of course!), and you get the picture, I guess. Then there's Victor's fishing gear. I'm hoping he's not planning to bring his flyfishing float tube, for instance.

All of these updates simply to observe that time sure flies, whether you have fun or not. I just want to be present enough in the moment to notice the little things - like my daughter's shy smile when she whispers which dress she wants to wear "so everyone will know I am a princess;" and my Grandma shaking with laughter till the tears run down from her reddened eyes onto lined cheeks; and my husband's attempt to be nonchalant when he tells me what he wants for his birthday "if anyone asks;" and the seconds ticking away on the marathon website, inviting me to watch the moments pass. Please, God, let me not miss these things in my anxiety over the past I can't change and my hopes for the uncertain future.

Friday, September 5, 2008

doing the South Carolina boogie (and a run, of course!)

So I went to a wedding in South Carolina last weekend. Anyone who knows me well understands that flying cross-country for the weekend is not something I do often. In fact, I realized as my heart rate raced to match the plane engine whining as we left the ground, the last time I flew in an airplane was to San Francisco for my first marathon when Jude was 10 months old. He's five now. My heart was racing with excitement. I actually like flying. Not the waiting around in the airport lugging my luggage, but the part where I watch the ground drop away to neat brown and green squares, and mountains recede to tiny bumps, and cars and roads to miniscule dots and lines. I like flying into clouds, and I don't get motion sickness even in the worst turbulence. I always ask for a window seat. I like the sensation that I'm on an adventure, and all normal routines, pressures, and duties are suspended just like we are in the sky. I suspect flying is a novelty that wears off with time, but I loved it the first time when I was ten and flew from Phoenix to San Jose by myself to visit my Grammy and Grampy's house, and I still enjoy it today.

I also like weddings. This one was the last of my three first cousins. My mom's brother had 3 sons. My parents had 4 daughters. They lived in Virginia, we in San Diego and then Phoenix. Needless to say, we didn't get to visit much. We always had fun when we did, though, so when Aunt Lynn called me in the spring to ask that me and/or one of my sisters make the wedding, I took her seriously. The cost felt prohibitive, besides the time away from my kids, but thankfully my parents bestowed the gift of the flight and car rental cost, and my sister Linda footed the cheap hotel we found on the web (thanks, guys). [She might not even have to pay that bill, since we found stains on the sheets, ticks in the bed, and a shower that screamed at us when we tried to get clean! We switched rooms, but Aaauggghhhh!!!]

The trip got better. Because Linda and I were relatives from waaayyy out of town, Aunt Lynn invited us to be part of all the wedding party fun, like the rehearsal dinner, the wedding breakfast the morning of, the gala reception, etc, with none of the wedding party un-fun, like standing around for endless wedding pics and holding flowers and fetching something blue and taking things to the tailor for adjustments.

Not only that, I got to run in another state! I love finding new places to run. That's one of the reasons I like to pick out of state races once in a while, as an excuse to vacation and to run new trails. I cracked Pin (Linda) up all weekend by complaining about being hungry every two hours thanks to my overdrive metabolism, and by seeking daily exercise options. In fact, we got to the hotel at 8pm Thursday night, and I told her at 9 that I was going to go check out the hotel exercise room. Hey, it was only 6pm by Arizona time! She came along and got to laugh at the tiny four-machine room, and we watched "Flubber" on TV while biking for 30 minutes or so. On Friday I drove to nearby Peak Fitness (sounded like "Pete's" off the drawl of the hotel clerk, and I laughed when I saw the sign), and did my weight workout. On Saturday Pin and I got up at 6am and drove out to nearby "Paris Mountain" State Park so I could run for an hour while she walked around the lake. It wasn't open until 8am, so we parked down the road and sneaked over the fence. We were still late for the wedding breakfast, but it was worth it. And sweet Aunt Lynn saved us a box with fruit, eggs, sweet rolls, and grits. You gotta love the South!

Saturday afternoon marked the big event, and we got shuttled up winding hills to the small, exclusive chapel on Glassy Hill, overlooking a panoramic view of South Carolina's misty green Greenville County below. Half an hour later, vows and rings and kisses exchanged, we shuttled back downhill to the reception and most everybody ate and laughed and danced the night away. You know my position on dancing, so you won't be surprised that I waited until the whole room joined in before I ventured on the floor. Getting lost in a bunch of people that don't know one foot from another is easier than being the center of attention in one's dressiest dress and high heels. Oh, those heels hurt by the time we limped back to our car at almost 2am!

On Sunday, I got to breakfast with the family and friends at their hotel (I shudder to think what our hotel would have served, had they ventured into foodservice), while Linda went to church with a friend she discovered in nearby Erskine College. Breakfast over, friends and family hugged and waved off, I got to wander down the street to partake in the excitement and expo freebies offered by the 115-mile USA Cycling Road Race Championship scheduled that same day. I missed the photo finish that occurred hours later, won by a two-thousandths of a second, but I enjoyed witnessing the first and second laps that brought them to the halfway point, with cowbells ringing and hollering all along the thickly lined, barricaded roads, while the lean and sweating cyclists whirred by in an airy blur of wheels, helmets, and brightly logo'ed shirts.

I was having so much fun that I entered that sensation of complete relaxation that a good vacation brings. I didn't actually twig on to it until I caught a couple's eye while passing and they excused a second glance saying, "You just look so relaxed!"

Wow, I really am, I thought. How novel. And I bought myself a coffee (decaf, so not to get un-relaxed with the jitters), and ran into fellow wedding-goer Mark Horowitz. Mark hails from Los Angeles, and with his unruly mop of blonde curls and eclectic clothing choices, is frequently compared to Napoleon Dynamite. He introduced me to a fantastic digital version of Boggle on his iPhone on the way back from the wedding, which passed the drive time marvelously. On this occasion, he collected a hug and his double espresso, and bolted for a shuttle sending him back to L.A.

To top off our fantastic holiday, Pin and I went on a driving exploration of Greenville's "Upcountry" north and east of our hotel, and enjoyed a murky, misty sunset view of Greenville County from "Caesar's Head." Not often do you get to enjoy a fantastic veiw from the head of a deceased Roman dictator, I might add. We made hilarious observations on South Carolina countryside from the town of "Pickins" (fodder for many puns) to the looming kudzu vine overtaking the state.

So that was my trip. I ran, boogied, partied, drove, and relaxed marvelously in South Carolina. Now back to reality!!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

shanghai'd by the olympics

I love the Olympics. The amazing feats of sheer athleticism, the inspiration of all-out efforts, the grimaces as the athletes pull out all stops to attain a shiny metal disc and a moment of glory on a stand. I love the drama of the background stories that the media puts together, I love laughing at the obscure sports (and often giving them grudging respect after watching them), I love feeling the pain of the losers, I love the whole thing. What red-blooded human being doesn't love the Olympics, honestly? I think we all have at least one competitive bone in our body to which the Olympics make their siren call.

So the Olympics, as you might have guessed, have totally shanghai'd my last week and a half. Since we don't have cable, I'm stuck to whatever broadcast offers in the evenings, so don't picture me ignoring the kids and hubby all day and night while I keep up with all the events. No. And I still do have a lot I'm doing during the day, but the nights. I normally shut down around 10pm, don't function too well after that. Well, more than a few nights the past 10 days I am still cheering on the American swim team (wasn't that men's relay AWESOME?!!! Phelps rocks the casbah!!!) and the women's gymnastics and the volleyball and the marathon, and now track and field! I groan when I set my alarm as I crash in bed at midnight, but I still do it, more nights than not. I mean, it only comes around every four years.

I didn't think they'd suck me in so bad this summer. But my change in work schedule just prior to August gives me a little more time freedom, and then my parents invited us up to Sedona last weekend so the addiction started on Friday the 8th as we watched the opening ceremony stuff and then hours on Saturday watching the women's weightlifting and the dramatic beach volleyball matches, and I was hooked. Let's be honest, though. The addiction started back in the 80's watching my first memorable Olympics on our neighbor's borrowed TV (we didn't have one when I was growing up!). I joined the hordes of little girls that dreamed of being the next Mary Lou Retton, among other heros that paraded before our impressionable, hero-seeking eyes.

So that, in a nutshell, is where I've been the past 10 days. I have eaten, and worked, and slept. Have had to nap in the afternoon with the kids, for goodness' sakes, to keep this up! I mean, my own marathon training is taking it out of me too, I had a gnarly 16-miler at South Mountain this weekend, and got another ugly 20-miler coming up next weekend (they're all ugly after about 15, I start just slogging away about then). And I still visited my Grandma last week, and took the kids to a picnic lunch at Squaw Peak on one of the cooler mornings, and got surprised at my own birthday party (!), and went to Bible study and shopping and the rest of life kinda went on as usual. I'm not dropping out of existence, but I am wondering when I will get to bed early again.

You'll probably still find me in front of the Olympics again tonight.

Friday, August 1, 2008

...and "Medaling Moms"

I couldn't resist.
Vic found this MSN article on "champion moms...some of the women who've been able to give birth and gain athletic glory"
I like how the (male) author phrases that, like it's some incredible anomaly, or an oxymoron. Well, it sure ain't easy. Notice how more than a couple of the clips on the individual women mention plaguing injuries. On the other hand, there seem to be a lot more "medaling moms" appearing since the medical community decided to ease up on treating pregnancy as a debilitating medical condition.
Then I thought about all the moms I know and admire...all of you are champion moms! Anyway, I thought the profiles of these high-achieving moms pretty inspiring. So enjoy.

Excuses, events, an end of an era

Where do I start? Does it matter?

In the two weeks since I last wrote, I have been horribly sick for 3 or 4 days; visited a friend in Tucson; caught up 2 months worth of my husband's business finances; steam-cleaned my carpets; interviewed for a training position; went to a birthday party sans kids and stayed up til 3am; started intense weight training and longer long runs in preparation for my October marathon; ended one job and started another; and today I write this as I wait for my sister to arrive and drop off my four young nephews, who will stay at our house today and all day tomorrow while she is away.

That all just sounds like a bunch of excuses for not writing, however. Yet I feel as though so much has occurred, I have no emotions left to process it all. I mean, even the steam cleaning felt emotional. I don't think my carpets have been this clean since we moved in to our house eight years ago; maybe once before the kids arrived? That thought brings both happiness (my floor is finally clean!) and shame (think of the filth we've lived in!).

The intestinal virus I got left me so fatigued I couldn't drum up any emotions other than the hope that it would finally leave me alone to recover. I became so dehydrated my husband almost took me to the hospital. I thought of the large deductible we would have to shell out, and rallied enough energy to attempt putting down more Gatorade and fend off such drastic measures. Eventually that worked. This made the third time this year that I caught such a bug , and I'm ready to start eating Activa yogurt daily, or try colon cleansing, just to avoid another one.

Staying up past midnight for the party and the finances - well, if being sick taught me nothing else, it taught me that I cannot simultanously increase my marathon training and decrease my hours of sleep (and then add a playdate with friends recently ill). Note to self. Bad combination.

So that leaves the job change. Finished my last day as personal trainer at the corporate fitness facility of Schaller Anderson, now turned Aetna, in Tempe. I made some neat friendships in the past year; I am sad to be leaving them. However, I am trying to look at the positive. That was a season, on to the next. Maybe this is the opening I needed to pursue the writing career I've been slowly working on, as well as continue some training on the side. I'm excited to start working on the website copy for IronBody's new interactive website (see for the current site); and finish writing two booklets for my husband's coaching business (I also helped write copy for his updated website,, that premiers on Monday!); and maybe some more time to add to this blog, just for fun?? I love to enjoy all three of the activities I love - writing, running, and training. And then I think of the other, major hat I wear. Maybe I spend some of that extra time reading and playing with Jude and Audrey, who got a little ignored last month while I've worked and written and ran extra hours. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Do I have to say goodbye to Superwoman?

A friend of mine, Ellen Antill, wrote a recent life-coaching blog post titled, "Goodbye, Superwoman." In it, she describes having battled her "Superwoman complex" and offers helpful techniques to "decrease her influence" in our lives (see, blog dated 6/10/08, Goodbye Superwoman).

But do I want to decrease her influence? I so WANT to be Superwoman, some days. She seems so put together, in control. She has that fantastic, round, jet-black hairdo, the gold tiara, the patriotic colors, and that hip-ful, rounded 80's form instead of the anorexic 90's look. Seriously, though, letting go of even wanting to be Superwoman is tough. The constant balancing act of being fully present in what I choose to do, and evaluating whether the things I choose have become too demanding for me and my family - I never find that perfect mix. I'm always teetering on one side or another. Make that precariously teetering, some days. I realize that's the nature of balancing, but shouldn't my form improve, my balance tighten, the legs quit that irritating sewing machine quiver?

Take last week. I had jury duty and work that took me away 6am to noon for three days; and I think my poor husband positively bristled when I reminded him I would be gone Saturday morning for my 3 hour marathon training run, followed by an all day jaunt to Payson for a close friend's birthday. And those were just the things I had scheduled without my kids. Was that being Superwoman, or was it just an uncommonly busy week? When does being a 21st century Renaissance woman, high-capacity in several areas of life, turn into being Superwoman, trying to save the world all by her lonesome? Is it when I try to squeeze in a training appointment, Bible study, and visit my Grandma in her care home into that same busy week? Is it when my satisfaction with said week yields personal fatigue, cranky husband, and clinging children in the following week? Do emotions (mine, his, or the kids) determine when I have crossed the line?

I invite your thoughts and comments on the subject.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rest or work?

Rest. The very word relaxes me. I repeat it to myself on crazy days. Rest. I will get some, eventually, I think to myself, and then I keep moving through the craziness. I've decided this weekend that often both rest and craziness exist primarily in my head.
This weekend, for instance, my husband and I planned two nights away in Fountain Hills, on the edge of town, with kids farmed out to family and a friend. Ahh, rest for two whole days! Sure enough, the weekend included plenty of lolling on king-size hotel bed watching movies, splashing each other in the pool, and eating out. It also included a couple hours of time alone doing Bible study, writing down goals, and talking about the future of Victor's business. Still restful? Sure, but now the rest seems to cross the border with work, since business and intense thought and writing went on.

Our weekend also included a long workout session at the nearby YMCA - yoga for me, weights for Victor, and a post-workout game of one-on-one basketball. And the day after, an early 12-mile trail run for me. Still restful? Not for most people. Victor slept in - rested - the second day because the YMCA fun was enough fun for one weekend. On the other hand, the trail run actually represented an "easy" weekend effort for me, since I was supposed to do an 18-mile long run for marathon training, and I just didn't feel like sacrificing that much of my free time away from Victor during our weekend together. So twelve miles felt restful in comparison to eighteen, and I got back just as Victor hit the shower. Perfect.

On the other hand, some kinds of "rest" impede better rest, such as staying up till midnight on Saturday night watching a movie (restful) and then tossing in bed for five hours of restless sleep instead of sleeping in (not so restful). The best laid plans go awry. Here I had the perfect opportunity and excuse to stay up late NOT on the computer doing the budget, AND sleep in afterward as long as I wanted, and my body did not follow the agenda. I paid for it with a wicked migraine later that evening.

Finally, the weekend also included our two children joining us at the hotel at 9am the last day, to eat a late breakfast and go swimming for a couple hours. Restful? Actually, yes. Even with the marathon session in the pool of impromptu swim lessons, tossing them into the deep end, trying out the hot tub in 100-degree weather, and then attempting to keep them awake for the hour drive home so they got a real nap in their own beds. Much better that than coming home to tired, whiny, clinging kids who feel like making us pay for being away doing Fun Things Without Them for two days.
So my question to myself as I lay in bed last night, gratefully post-migraine, was this: had my weekend been restful or crazy? Was it more work, or more play? Hmm. My husband loves the following quote, regarding rest, work, and play, by James A. Michener: "The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both." Victor, as do I, believes that when our God-given gifts and passions and dreams align with our actions, we don't distinguish so much between work and play, between rest and un-rest. When God rested the seventh day after creating the world, do you think He took a nap? Genesis says He spent time admiring the panoply of wonder and design in His untouched world. So, dear women, go rest. Go work. Go play. Decide in the doing whether you are mastering the art of living.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

white girls can least once in a while

Live, love, dance. That's the title on the journal I'm currently using. I do the first two pretty well. I venture the last activity about once or twice a decade. Really, I have no rhythm, and very little constructive experience, so when I do, it tends to be an awkward and self-conscious act.

So I was at work Thursday night, finishing up a very long day. Started at 6:45am. Groggy from late night beforehand, I then developed a stiff neck in the shower. Waved my husband off at 8:30am so he can spend 3 days up in the cool pines "working" at my parent's cabin. Spent 3 hours on a playdate through lunchtime. Booted sleepy Jude and Audrey to rooms for early nap and balanced 3 checkbooks and 3 budgets (1 home, 2 biz). Ran aforementioned kids to my kind friend who agreed to watch them, and arrived 10 minutes late to work only to find my new supervisor, whom I hadn't met until that moment, standing at the gym desk. Fortunately she wasn't tapping her foot. Spent next several hours chatting it up with her and various gym patrons (I know, this is work??), led a killer abs class, and realized at 7:30pm as I waved the last lingering patrons out that I had 30 minutes to fit in my own weight workout before closing. I usually take an hour. At least I'd already done abs. I rattled through a super-fast version of my usual session and went to shut off the sound system. We keep the radio playing all day at the gym, and I tune it out after a while. But suddenly one of my favorite top-10 songs comes on, and I pause. I turn up the volume. And then I start dancing.

Now, if someone else is writing this, I start to think at this point, Whoa, she's lost it. She's definitely lost ME. This is one goofy chick. Do people really act this silly? Normally I don't. I like to mess around with my kids, but I don't dance, and I certainly don't dance in an empty gym after closing time. Well, I can't say that any more. I don't know if it was the headiness of having accomplished a difficult day without cracking, or the fun of flouting my usual workout routine for something new and shorter, or just the attraction of the beat of the song itself. But I couldn't have stopped if I tried. And why try? What was another couple minutes. I gyrated and swung my arms and I would have pirouetted if I knew what that was supposed to look like. And when the song finished, I shut it off before the station could intercede with the next raucous advertisement or less-loved song. I suspect I was grinning as I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door to my car. Hey, at least now I can write in my journal that I do live, love, AND dance. At least once in a while.

But get this: that's not the end of the story! I get home to my two wide-awake kids and proceed to put them to bed. Our tradition after the teethbrushing and pajama stage consists of prayers and a psalm, sung acapella with the traditional psalms-for-singing psalter that I grew up with. They love this part. Jude prefers the maudlin 22A, whereas Audrey likes the grand finale, 150B. That night, I picked one I've particularly liked since childhood, Psalm 54B. You Reformed Presbyterians out there know this one well; the beat is catchy. So my five-year-old son Jude climbs down the bunkbed ladder while I'm singing, eyes me to make sure I'm not about to toss him back in bed, and starts dancing. I have to dance to this one, he explains after the first verse. This is not part of the bedtime routine, but I can't blame the boy. I'm about to join him. He hops about, adding that he's dancing the Peter Pan Indian Dance. He's pretty good. So naturally 3-year-old Audrey can't be left out, she slides out of the bottom bunk and she starts in. She has no rhythm yet, but she's swaying all over the place, tossing her hair and arms with abandon. Let's just say that despite the fact it's way past their bedtime by now, I only wish there were more verses to that psalm. Maybe, just maybe, I should dance a little more often.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

it's true: a 21st century swordswoman

Ok, I wasn't going to do it. I really wasn't going to add a post this soon. I also wasn't going to bore you with fitness training notes. But remember how I said that a swordswoman was a stretch? It may be...but I got the Sparq digital magazine in my inbox(" performance training for the serious athlete" - sign me up!) and the first thing I see? An article on Rebecca Ward, Olympian fencer. I mean, you can't get much cooler than being a swordfighting chick. And although she's only 18, she seems to be at least a renaissance mom in the making: "Fencing at this level is equal parts grace and focus, not to mention a Herculean juggling act - school classes, travel, fencing practice, training, and events all over the globe. Ward started this adventure when she was just 9 years old, and [her coach], for one, is in awe, 'Watching this kind of dedication and work ethic at such a young age, and to see where it's come, it's pretty cool.' You'd better believe it's cool, buddy. Just watch how cool she becomes a decade from now when she's juggling Olympic fencing and motherhood. You go, swordsgirl!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ode to the renaissance mom

This blog represents my ode to the renaissance mom (in prose form, of course; I wouldn't torture you with my poetry. At least, not yet). Like the Italian "Renaissance Man" of the 14th to 17th century, the Renaissance Mom strives to, or can't help but, become proficient in multiple arenas of life. The original Renaissance Man was a poet, artist, swordsman, scientist, linguist, horseman, musician, and so on. The Renaissance Mom of the 21st century might be a poet, artist, and swordswoman (okay, that's a stretch); or a writer, a runner, a chef; or a scrapbooker, a teacher, and a caregiver. My own mother might deny it, but she is a true renaissance mom. Many of my friends and sisters, not all mothers, are nevertheless all renaissance women.

The trouble with the renaissance life is that the learning never ends, and while the renaissance man typically had both wealth and leisure sufficient to pursue endless excellence in his studies of choice, the renaissance mom fights tight budgets, narrow deadlines, sick kids, red tape, late nights, entrepreneurial spouses, and other challenges along her path of learning. In that respect, I hold the renaissance mom in greater esteem: she achieves excellence in the face of great obstacles. Further, I think we renaissance women need quite a bit more encouragement in our efforts. So this is to you, women of many hats. May you become the beautiful, multi-talented, well-rounded, fulfilled women that God designed you to be. In other words, you go, girl.

Check out this incredible YouTube collage of women in art spanning hundreds of years and artists!