Aspire

About a year or so ago, my sisters (Carole, Sarah and Krissie) introduced me to Beyoncé.

No…not this Beyoncé

Beyonce single ladies Glastonbury

This one:

chicken61

Beyoncé (the-giant-metal-chicken) was a gift from Jenny Lawson (aka “The Bloggess”) to her husband, Victor.  Well, maybe “gift” isn’t exactly the right word.  Beyoncé is more of a response to very strict instructions from Victor to not “bring any more goddam towels” into their house.

Confused?  I was too…until I read this.  (Don’t want to click over and read the whole entry?  Silly.  You should.  Still don’t want to?  Here’s the short version.  Jenny’s going shopping with Laura.  Victor tells Jenny not to buy any more towels.  She doesn’t.  Instead, Jenny buys a giant metal chicken.  I know.  It’s not that funny when I tell the story.  That’s why you should read Jenny’s version.  I told you so.  And you’re welcome.)

Naturally, reading this blog entry lead me to (after about 8-10 months) purchase and read Jenny’s first book “Let’s Pretend this Never Happened”.  It’s not that I didn’t want to read the book, it’s just that…well…parenting.  And wifing (whatever that is).  And working.  And adulting.  You know…acutally being responsible doesn’t always allow for leisure reading.

At any rate, I finally read the book this summer while camping with my family.  It was a rainy day and we had decided to head to bed early since trying to get a campfire going in the rain is next to impossible.  So here I am, in a tent, lying on an air mattress, next to my husband, with our kids a few short feet away.

I am laughing hysterically…and silently.  Have you ever tried to laugh silently so you don’t wake your kids?  Ever tried it on an air mattress?  My poor husband didn’t know what hit him every time the mattress would start shaking uncontrollably.  I couldn’t believe I could read something that was (a) true and (b) so utterly hysterical!

Jenny Lawson writes about the struggles she’s dealt with in her life.  Everything from living with a taxidermist father to the loss of a pregnancy to her struggles with anxiety and depression.  The way she writes, however, is what appeals to me.  She writes her truth in a relatable, true and downright snarky way.  She shows that, although life hands out a shit deal every now and then, we can’t take ourselves and our situations too seriously.

Jenny recently came out with a second book, “Furiously Happy”.  It is at the top of the “List of things to read as soon as I have 37 seconds to remember to purchase it”.  I know that at least two of my sisters have already read it so I thank them in advance for their lack of spoilers.   (In fact, the lucky ladies got to MEET the Bloggess herself in Boston on Saturday! From left: Krissie, Jenny “The Bloggess” Lawson, Carole)

12107051_10207409305168109_5546754909373029562_n

I bring Jenny Lawson to your attention because you need to get to know her blog…like yesterday.  Also, and more importantly, because she is someone I aspire to be.  My whole family is reading this saying “you want to be a nationally-known blogger with two best-selling books?  Since when?”  Not that those things wouldn’t be pretty cool, but, no.  Not where I’m going with that.

As I said, Jenny is true to herself and how she feels.  She makes no apologies for the way she feels about anything.  She openly, honestly and, somewhat, sarcastically shares her story with anyone who wants (or needs) to read it.  I have all the respect in the world for anyone willing to expose their soul in such a way.  That’s what I aspire to be.

Raw truth, vulnerability, honesty and a skilled pen (or, more likely, computer keyboard) are incredibly hard to come by.  So, imagine my surprise when another writer reached out and spoke to me.  Ok…not just me.  She posted a little something on Facebook.  I, and about 15,000 other people, liked and “liked” what she had to say.  She wrote about the way our daily 5-minute interactions with people can create a perception that is completely opposite from what our lives are really like.

“Scars”, written by Genevieve V. Georget, spoke to me in a way that nothing had before.  I read and re-read that post and realized that I could have written much of it myself.  As I read her subsequent blog entries, I can’t help but feel like she’s in my head.  Gen has been dealt a hand that is scarily similar to mine in many ways.

Like Jenny, Genevieve is true to herself and lays herself on the line for all to read.  She has a much more soft-spoken way of doing it, but the vulnerability is still there.  She talks about love, life, and the loss of both.  She is true and honest and real. I want to be able to get to that point in my own life…that point where I can, shamelessly, leave it all on the table.

Genevieve…you need to check out her writings as well.  I wish I had the words to describe just how intense and impressive they are.  I don’t have them.  In fact…I think she stole them.  No wonder I can’t find them!

How is it possible that these two women, whom I have never met (but would love to!), have managed to speak to me on such a deep level?  I’m sure that there is a reason for it.  For now, I’m not going to focus on how or why it’s happening.  I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride that their words are taking me on.  We’ll see where it goes from there….

On a side note, as I was prepping for this entry, I was scrolling through Genevieve’s Facebook page.  Imagine my surprise when I ran across this:

Screenshot_2015-10-19-22-05-38

Seriously, Gen.  Get out of my head!

Jenny, meet Gen.  Gen, meet Jenny.  I want to be a fly on the wall when you two meet in person.

So….I Started a Blog

Do you ever have a whole bunch of crap running through your head?  Some of it useful  – like the stuff you need to get at the grocery store on the way home, some of it completely pointless – like why on Earth can I tell you the dates that I started (and subsequently stopped) dating my high school boyfriends?

As a woman who happens to (a) be married (b) be a mother to two amazing boys and (c) work outside of the home full time, I have a TON of that crap on a regular basis.  At some point I occurred to me that I should make an effort to get some of it out of my head.  (I firmly believe that your brain is like a filing cabinet – it only holds so much.  In order to make room for more stuff, you have to take something else out.)

So…I started a blog.

Here are my disclaimers/warnings (in no particular order, not all-inclusive, and subject to change at any time)

1 – I do not consider myself to be a politically correct individual.  Sorry if that offends you.  It’s not my intent, but I’m just being real to me.

2 – I will not change names of individuals to protect the innocent, guilty, or the guilty ones who think they are innocent.  I will not hide behind thinly veiled “fictional” caricatures of people to make a passive-aggressive point.

3 – You’re going to read a LOT about health and fitness.  I do not consider myself an expert on all things in this area, but it has become a passion of mine over the last couple of years.  I welcome discussion on the subject when I bring it up.  Tasteful and helpful discussion.  Rude, hurtful, mean and irrelevant posts will be removed.  Trolls?  Stay under your bridges.

4 – I have something of an inappropriate vocabulary.  It’s not always as clean as it should be.  Truth be told, in the right circumstances, I have the mouth of a sailor.  I write the way I speak. Don’t like it?  Don’t read those words.

5 – I am a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, Godmother, friend, HR professional, vocalist, instrumentalist, runner, coach, and more.  Most importantly, I am a mother.  Guess what.  You’re gonna read about that too.  Again, I welcome discussion.   Tasteful and helpful discussion.  Rude, hurtful…wait…haven’t I already said this once?  You know where I’m going with this.  Don’t remember?  Read #3 again.

Inspiration

Yesterday, I did something that, until a year and a half ago, I never thought possible.  I ran a half marathon.  Yup. Thirteen point one miles.  Me.  I worked and trained hard to accomplish the goal and, while it wasn’t as fast as I originally, I finished.

Twice yesterday I was told I was an inspiration and, although I’m flattered, I struggle with that title.  While not a lot of people do it, I’m not the first person to run that distance.  And I am by far not the fastest.  What about what I did yesterday was an inspiration?  There are so many others around me who have done far more inspirational things.

Take, for instance, my sister, Carole.  She is the only person I know who has successfully managed to establish a healthier lifestyle and lose a significant amount of weight in high school.  Yeah…I said high school.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but high school for me was a nightmare in many ways.  The scale went up and up each year for a large number of reasons.  Not Carole.  She didn’t like the way things were for her, so she changed them.

One of the activities she took up was running.  After watching her do that for a couple of years, I decided to give it a go.  After a few stops and starts with the hobby, I really began to enjoy the time I had to myself when on the road or treadmill.  In May of 2014, I was there when Carole crossed the finish line of her first half marathon.  As she did so, I decided that she and I would run one together one day.  A few months later, I learned that our church was going to be starting the first half marathon in the city of Dover, New Hampshire, on November 1st of the same year.

I knew I’d never be ready for a half marathon in such a short period of time, so I decided to wait until the 2015 half marathon.  Around the same time, Carole learned she was expecting her first child, so she decided to wait until 2015 as well.

Over the next several months, I trained for the most difficult run of my life.  I was running and working out regularly doing everything I could do to get my body and mind ready for this feat.  At the same time, Carole was doing everything she needed to do to prepare for the arrival of her baby, a daughter, Fiona Michelle.  Together Carole and I talked about running (and her plans to train after Fi arrived), parenting, and what to expect in childbirth.  Fall moved to winter, winter to spring, and summer was right around the corner.

Then I got the worst phone call of my life.

At 9:57 AM on May 18, 2015, my cell phone went off.  It was sitting on top of my desk, set to vibrate.  I looked at the phone and the caller ID showed it was my brother-in-law, James (Carole’s husband), calling me.  Immediately, my heart sank into my stomach.  We are not a phone call family.  We text, we Facebook message, we occasionally email.  We don’t call.  Unless it’s incredibly good.

Or incredibly awful.

Sure enough, James was making what I can only assume was one of the worst phone calls of his life.  All I remember was hearing him say “They can’t find her heartbeat.  We need you”.  I found one of the other managers I work with, threw my keys and appointment book at her and (literally) ran out the door.

I arrived at the hospital to learn that sometime in the last 24 hours, Fiona had died at just shy of 38 weeks gestation.  The next 36 hours were absolute hell for Carole and James as they prepared for, went through, and survived the delivery of their angel baby.  In her blog, Carole describes Fi’s birth in the most amazing and beautiful way:
“She came out at 4:59 PM on May 19.  She was 6lbs 12 oz and absolutely perfect.  She had my hands and my feet, but she looked like James.  She had his mouth and his eyes.  She was perfect.”

The day before that fateful phone call, I had run one of the 5k races I had signed up for in preparation for my half marathon.  Four and a half weeks later, I was set to run a 5k on Father’s Day.  There was a HUGE part of me that wanted to skip it.  I hadn’t run much since Fi had died.  I mentally couldn’t handle the alone time.  At some point, however, I decided that instead of not running because of Fi, I would continue to run for her.

That day, I ran my fastest 5k ever.  In the pouring rain.  (In some Native American tribes, I am told, it is believed that precipitation is a sign that your loved one’s spirit has crossed over to the other side.  I took the rain that day as a sign.)

Every race, every training run, every jogging step I have taken in the last five months has been for her, for Carole and for James.

Carole has made the best out of an incredibly bad situation.  She is out there telling her story.  She open about her grief, her hopes, her fears, and her dreams.  She is choosing love and surrounding herself with those who keep her strong when she needs strength and allow her to cry when she needs to be sad.  She is not allowing herself to be defined by what she went through, but she isn’t denying it either.

Inspiration. It can be a loaded word.  Maybe my completion of a half marathon will inspire someone else to achieve a dream of their own or so start their own path to a healthier lifestyle. Maybe that’s what being an inspiration is.

For me, however, I have always been amazed by the way Carole takes on the most challenging situations and finds some way to find whatever sliver of good there is to find.  She refuses to be a victim of her circumstance.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is inspiring.