I did a cross country ski race last weekend. Can we talk about how refreshing it is to be a complete rookie at something? My goals were simple: enjoy myself and not get speared by a fellow competitors’ ski pole. I succeeded on both fronts.
I came home from work a little late on Tuesday to find 3 children eating dinner. Dinner that they made themselves. Granted, they were leftovers, but still. Milestone.
I now, officially, drive a mini van. I fought it for years. And now? I lurve it. Why didn’t I just embrace it when the troops were toddlers? Gawd. Dummy.
I skied with 5 boys on Sunday, while Anja had ski school. Despite the fact that I spent the day frozen, there was no part of the day that wasn’t awesome. I made no decisions, simply followed the pack and paid for lunch.
We came home and I collapsed onto the couch to do one of my favourite things: nap in long underwear. Those 5 boys? And that sister? Well, they played outside for another 2.5 hours till I called them in for dinner.
Spring afternoons rule.
oh hahahahahhhahahaha. Not so fast there, sister. You can blame the wet/cold forecast on my wishful thinking; I put new fenders on my road bike last week.
Have y’all heard of Giraffe-cam? We’re a little obsessed over here. You got this, April!
And finally, I’m going on a new adventure to a land far, far away soon.
I get this question a lot. Seems a given that you’d be training for something when free time is taken up by staring at a black line at the bottom of a pool or sweating in my garage on a Friday night. I mean, who just does that for fun?
Oh yeah. I do.
Yes, I’m training for something. Again. And always.
I promise I’m not totally nuts. I mean, I’m a little nuts, obviously. But not completely.
The truth is, I really enjoy training. I love the racing aspect of sport, I love the fact that I’ve met some of the greatest people through sport but training is part of the package and I legit enjoy sweating my ass off to bad 80s tunes in the garage. I’d rather talk about boys with my friends deep into the forest during a trail run than over coffee at Starbucks. Training is a perfect angst and energy outlet for this introverted extrovert.
Endurance sport tends to keep me focused, happy and energized. It makes me a better parent. It keeps my inner narcissist (don’t lie – you have one, too) in check. It keeps me honest.
If my mum were still around, I know she’s roll her eyes, keep watch from a distance and ask me when I’m going to pack it in and “grow up; take up a more recreational pastime (gardening? Reading?) And I have the answer for that:
When the fear of getting slower surpasses the fun of trying to go faster.
Does that even make sense?
Even though I’m in my forties, I know that I’m still capable of going faster.
Sidebar: my kids are so confused about my age. Is she 24? 44? Why does it keep changing? Let’s keep them guessing, ok?
I truly believe that every time I set foot on a start line, I’m going to go faster than the last time. And why shouldn’t I? Older doesn’t have to mean slower. I’m smarter (thank the good lord) than I was 15 years ago. I don’t eat like an asshole anymore (most days), and I use the tools and resources I have (like my smarty pants coach) to my advantage as much as possible. Not to mention, I thrive on the challenge of trying to beat myself.
So I keep at it, notching little success stories where I can. Thinking of races and challenges I can take on, plotting and scheming how to get there, and get there in one piece.
Let’s face it, Mum. I’ll probably keep doing this even when I start to slow down.
Eventually, I want my kids to get the call from the nursing home that “She’s at it again, racing her walker through the hallways and taunting Mr. Jones in room 204 again. Can you please talk to her?”
What do you know… something like 65 centimetres (25 inches) of snow has fallen in the last 48 hours. Granted, I was in a conference room in Florida when this all happened, but still. Winter is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Is there anything redeeming about the month of February? I mean, besides the fact that it has 28 days instead of 31? Nope. January is all full of post-Christmas attitude and goals. March has hints of spring and noticeably longer days.
February? It’s got Valentines Day, and we all can guess how I feel about that.Somewhere between the end of January and now, I got sick again and have misplaced my mojo. My desire to stay under the blankets and daydreaming about warm sun and green grass is kind of overwhelming. I’d like to let my shoes and bike gather dust… but then I’m quickly reminded that I have a race to look forward to in about 7 weeks.
Maybe I’ll ski some neck deep powder this weekend and all will be right in the world again.
I will never forget the day that I knew I needed to ask for help.
My life, as I knew it, was crumbling around me. My mother was dying. My marriage was falling apart. I didn’t know which way was up and was barely going through the motions. I was faking it in almost every aspect of my life. I was pretending I was fine.
I so clearly wasn’t fine. I was down to 100 pounds. I wasn’t sleeping. I couldn’t eat. I was barely present, I couldn’t focus and was operating in a fog, seized by anxiety.
I was scared, sad, and I felt almost paralyzed. Of course, I had a few close friends in whom I confided (to a degree), but those nights, alone at 3:00am, when my mind was spinning, it was a dark and ugly place to be.
My whole life, I’d always tried to power through the emotional stuff, driven by the motto of “this too shall pass.” Stiff upper lip, and all that, right?
But that day, as I sat at my desk unable to type because my hands were shaking so hard, operating on 3 hours sleep, I knew then that this had to stop. I called my doctor, and walked through her door 15 minutes later.
She knew immediately upon seeing me that I needed help. She was gentle but firm. She asked me what I felt were prying but necessary questions. She drew me out, listened to my halting speech, and by doing so gave me that tiny little bit of confidence, that little push I needed to take those first steps towards getting help and getting well. I needed someone to take control, to give me a plan, to confirm that no, I wasn’t losing it completely.
‘Cause it sure as hell felt like I was.
Fast forward to today.
I am healthy, mentally AND physically. I am SO much better.
I’ve learned to read the signs of when things are starting to slide. I know when to ask for help, and from whom. My treatment is, and will always be, ongoing. I don’t feel shame in this; rather, there’s a sense of power that comes with knowing that I was brave enough to take this on.
Today, in Canada, it’s #Bellletstalk day. The goal of this campaign is to invite others to join the conversation and end the stigma around mental health.
By sharing my story, I hope that in some way, you know it’s ok to share yours.
This week, on a very special episode of the Blog Squad…
We thought we’d change it up a little. If you’ve been reading these past few weeks, you’ll know that we’ve been tackling the same topics. This week we are doing a round robin of questions for each other, challenging ourselves to get outside the box a little.
When did you first start to think of yourself as an athlete, and why?
I read this question a few days ago and have had ample time to write and think of the answer. And yet it took me a long time to organize these thoughts into a somewhat cohesive post.
The truth is, I really don’t know. In fact, I don’t even know that I do!
I’m not that introspective and have spent little to no time self-identifying as anything, really. It’s not something I have considered. I’m more someone who is governed by tangibles and measurable objectives, and this felt like something that I couldn’t quite define. And honestly, no one has ever asked me this question.
If I were to identify as anything, it would be as a mother above all else. This is the role I assume 100% of the time, whether I am physically with my children or not. Everything else, love it or hate it, must be secondary.
As I pondered this further over the last few days (ironically, whilst at a training camp), I really had to wonder if I did consider myself an athlete. I looked up the definition:
a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
a person who is skilled in competitive track and field events (athletics).
(To confirm: the British definition definitely does not apply to me!)
I don’t know. It doesn’t really seem to fit. I’m pretty proficient, I guess? But does that make an athlete, specifically? I mean, I love junk food! I am lazy! But then again, I own so much active wear…
I thought about it some more. I’m sporty, yes. But I don’t like team sports. I can’t catch a ball to save my life. I’m outdoorsy, but I hate being cold and I’m scared of bears. I’m athletIC, but does this make me an athleTE?
I turned it around – as I often do – to the kids. How do they identify me as, besides Mom (obviously)?
I called them via FaceTime from the airport on my way home from training camp (hello?! Athletes go to training camps!!) I asked: if you were to call me something, besides Mum and “event worker person”, what would it be?
The answers were, in order: “biker” “runner” “Ironman person.”
(Please note, swimmer never comes up. They know me well).
Huh. Maybe I am an athlete after all. Maybe?
Why I am so sceptical about this? What is it that’s stopping me from calling myself an athlete? This is going to require a little more thought. Maybe I should should own it, go with it, try it on for size.
So Caitlin, to answer your question: Today, I will start identifying as an athlete. Because as it turns out, all signs point in that direction.
I’ve been thinking about what to write since the idea first got lobbed this way and, well, I got nothin’. Seriously. Nothing. No tips, no tricks, no hacks.
I often get asked “how do you do it all”? This is in no way a brag/humblebrag/pat on the back. It’s a fact.
The simple answer is: I just do. And I just don’t.
Let’s take yesterday as a fine example of my time management skills. I mean, I have 4 calendars between my desk and the kitchen (so basically, 8 feet apart). None of them are synced. The irony of this post is not lost on me, by the way. It still rings true some days.
I got up at 5:34AM. Why?! Beats me. That’s when my little brain woke up. Coffee, emails, news then all of a sudden everything is on fast-forward for 90 minutes as the minions get up/eat/fight/pack for school/forget stuff to bring to school. Then time slows down again for a few minutes. I distractedly get ready for work and a quick trip to the city. I pretend to myself that I’ll use the drive to catch up on all these calls and leave myself voice memos when in reality I’ll sing along to bad 90s music, look at the view and daydream.
So far, so good, right?
Except stuff runs long, I get delayed and low and behold I’m now back to fast-forward mode trying to make it home in time for school pick up (newsflash: I don’t), and I’m now late for a conference call and ask for a 7 minute grace period (7? What?) I know deep down that today’s scheduled workout won’t happen and I’ll get the dreaded red Training Peaks box. I park the car and realize that once again, I forgot the recycling.
Pressing pause on this riveting narrative to point out that I am in no way complaining. This is my life! Is it how I envisioned it? Nope. Is is easy? Not always. Would I change it? Probably not. I’ve got a damn good life.
Fly in the door, yell “did anyone let the dog out! I have a call! Yes, you can watch TV!” as I’m looking for earphones, tripping over backpacks and trying to remember the agenda for this call.
Oh yeah, that’s right. I have a rule about no TV during the week. Oh well! Exceptions to every rule, right? I ignore the hot chocolate spilled on the counter and the floor, jump on the call.
The call goes long. My mind is wandering and I’m wondering if I’ll get my workout in after all. Stand up and lunge at the desk. Crane my neck back to see if kids are still alive (they are). Put the call on mute, feed the dog, wipe up the hot chocolate. The call ends.
We eat dinner together (this is one thing I won’t negotiate on, ever. No one eats in front of the TV. We sit down together every single night). Leftovers, because I’m tired and now a little frantic. I text Liz and ask what’s the earliest acceptable bedtime for an adult. She says 7.
The kids go to bed, they’re tired, too. Time slows back down. I cast around at the baskets of laundry, the messy house. I take care of some of it, but halfway through emptying the dishwasher, I stop. I don’t want to do this anymore. It can wait.
I crawl into bed with Kobe, ostensibly to read. I read about 3 pages and fall asleep in my clothes. I’m awake again… at 5:34am. This is a cycle I might need to break, I think to myself as I smell the coffee already brewed downstairs (#winning #oldschool)
And here we are again.
So you see? Life gets done, it happens. Mostly. I’m healthy. They’re healthy. The important stuff happens. There’s collateral damage daily. Some days I’m a to-do list ninja. Others, like yesterday, I’m a sitcom Mom and the to-do list gets transferred in its entirety to the next day. And it’s alright, I got this. I’m learning not to be so hard on myself, consistently.
I spent the first day of 2017 in bed with what can only be described as a Man Cold. Feverish, sniffly, tired, general malaise. What a way to kick off the year! I felt sorry for myself and thus relied on the kids to take care of themselves (foreshadowing: the kitchen is something else this morning).
Anyway. As I lay there is some kind of fever delirium, I mentally went through the various stages of Mama’s Man Cold (MMC).
Sidebar: I came up with a gazillion ideas as I lay there in a fog. None of which I can remember today.
Step 1. The Inkling
December 31 started off like any other day. A bit tired, maybe. That’s not all that unusual. But as the day wore on, I knew. That feeling at the back of your throat… the deepening fatigue… uh oh.
By the time we were expected at friends for NYE, I was clutching a box of tissues and celebrating with peppermint tea. Woo.
Step 2. Denial
Me at 8:30pm: “If I just take this Nyquil and go to bed early, I’ll be right as rain in the morning.”
Step 3. Resistance
We had big plans to ski fresh tracks on New Years Day. We were going to kick of 2017 with bacon and a full day of skiing. Up dark and early, I told myself I was ok. I packed my Tylenol and a box of tissues. I got this, right?
By 10am, I feebly told the kids we were going home. Mama couldn’t hack it. Also, my eyes were watering so badly I couldn’t see #safetyfirst.
Step 4. Acceptance
Fine. I’m sick. Once home, I crawled into bed and let the kids fend for themselves. One of those days when you lie in bed floating in and out of sleep, but still with an ear towards what is happening in the rest of the house (are they fighting? eating? breaking things?) I don’t venture downstairs, knowing I’m better off in bed and that they are ok. Somewhat.
Step 5. Recruitment
The dog never leaves my side, and a few times the kids check on me. Actually, it’s more like they can’t figure out what’s going on. They are wary: they stand at the door and wonder why I’m just a lump in bed: “Are you going to get up… at all?” They can’t seem to get used to the idea that I’m not hovering nearby. Eventually, they come close enough to sit on the bed with me. Anja makes me toast. I have helpers.
I sleep for 14 hours.
Step 6. Recovery
Mama’s version of the man cold cannot extend past 24hours. The house and children may not survive. I get up, get dressed and face the day, still clutching my box of tissues.
On the bright side, at least I got my annual MMC over with early this year.