Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me

I have a birthday in a few days. It is one of those insignificant numbers, nothing to get too worked up about. Except it comes right after a big number. And somehow the birthdays following a big birthday are even more troubling. Not only did you hit the big one, but they just keep coming.

I am not a fan of my birthday so I am not writing this to solicit well wishes. In fact, I'd prefer that my birthday be a low-key or even no-key affair. I am happy to celebrate anyone else's birthday, but my own just leaves me melancholy. It isn't about getting older, because I've been this way since my 20s. It is a condition I have dubbed PBD - Pre-Birthday Depression. It is the period of time, usually the week preceding, where I am in a funk. I spend the time reflecting on the past year of my life and brooding about all the things I didn't accomplish. All the things I didn't improve upon. The 10 pounds I didn't lose, the class on using my DSLR camera I didn't take, the household projects I didn't get to. While I am usually more of a glass-half-full kind of gal, PBD is a lens where I can only see the negative. I want to crawl into bed and eat chocolate until it passes.

This past year hasn't been easy. Last summer, while training for a marathon I injured my knee. I have never had a sports injury before and did not realize that recovery is a slow and often times not linear process. So I went from running 5 days a week and thinking about running constantly to not running at all but still thinking about running constantly. And when I when I finally was on the road to recovery I had to rebuild my mileage slowly, only to be told I had to have surgery and then needed to take more time off and then start over again rebuilding my mileage. And then I got a pinched a nerve in my back which had me out for a while. So once again I find myself starting over with running and slowly rebuilding my mileage and speed and trying not to be discouraged.

Which brings me to today. It was a beautiful day outside and I was able to go for a run - the longest run for quite some time. And at a pace that wasn't humiliating.

I was out on my run and feeling fantastic. I am killing the hills and not feeling like I need to stop. Nothing hurts. And I fly by two women who were wogging on the path (this is a half-jog, half-walk). They were easily 10 years younger than me, thin, cute and very hip in their wogging gear. I passed them on my way out and did my runner's hello smile and nod. And on the way back I did the same and one of them called out to me, and I quote, "Wow, you are really moving. I want to be you." 

I don't know if I will ever see these woggers again and I sincerely hope they continue on their path to runners because they were working hard (and they owe it to their cute outfits). But thank you woggers, with that friendly greeting you completely dispelled my PBD. I have been glowing all day and it isn't an extended runner's high. It is from knowing that regardless of the trials and tribulations of my past year I am indestructible and resilient, regardless of my age. And it isn't about what did or did not get done in the past year. It is about all the wonderful things that are ahead of me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I want my extra day

As I am sure you are aware, it is a leap year. That means we get an extra day in February. Yahoo! But wait, is it really an *extra* day in the year? The dictionary lists one of the definitions of extra as "an item which is in addition to what is usual or strictly necessary". So in other words, we do not need this day for any specific purpose. In my opinion, if a day is truly extra it should be free of anything. Since most years February 29 does not exist, we should consider it a bonus when it does show up and get the day off. Every other year we manage to make due with only 365 days so I would like to keep my 366th day all to myself when it comes around. Completely and totally off. On February 29, regardless of what day of the week it falls on, there should be no school, no work, no meetings, no appointments. My husband's smartphone will not produce anything of interest that would distract from our family time. All the stores should be closed so there can be no errands. I envision this once-every-four-years-break kind of like Christmas, but without gifts and all the family angst and huge meals. It would be a day where everything pretty much shuts down so that you have no choice but to shrug your shoulders, make a cup of tea and read your book. And since it's a random day off that only happens every four years, my kids would be so ecstatic that they wouldn't sit home and bicker and complain but join hands and sing Kumbaya. Because as long as I'm envisioning the utopia of February 29 why not go big? Everyone would be thankful for the extra day, knowing it won't come around again for a while.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Taking a bite out of life

This morning my daughter ate a piece of cardboard. She is 9 and this is not behavior you would typically expect at this age. Okay, so I won't be the least bit surprised if her brother eats cardboard at 9, or 19, but that's another issue. So why would my daughter willingly eat the piece of cardboard? Was it a dare? Was she showing off and being silly? No, she wanted to see if it was candy.

Last night my husband brought home a half dozen gourmet cupcakes from a fabulous local bakery. They were a gift from a political journalism organization trying to woo him into subscribing to their services. Each beautiful cupcake had a disc with the company's logo placed on it, about the size of a silver dollar. My daughter assumed that because they were on the tops of the cupcakes they must be edible, and therefore were candy. She could not be convinced that they were just cardboard despite our repeated assurances so she took a bite.

We are not sure why she wouldn't believe us. Did she think we wanted to keep all the candy discs for ourselves, to eat when she wasn't around? Did she think we were trying to deprive her of the candy discs because we'd just gotten back from the dentist? Who knows? The point is, she had to find out for herself whether or not they were in fact cardboard. The downside would be a mouthful of paper. The potential upside was tremendous.

And that is just one of the many reasons why I love and admire my daughter. She considers the downside but is always focused on the upside. The what if? She is not a reckless child, but she is a risk taker. And the world needs risk takers. We need people who look at the status quo and not only ask why, but just as readily ask why not? She is constantly coming up with new and creative ways of doing things. I find this exhausting - why can't we just do them the proven way? The efficient and easy way? We know the outcome. It is cardboard, not candy. But if everyone had that attitude then we'd still believe the world was flat, or that travel to space is not possible so why even try? I would be willing to bet that all the great thinkers and doers of the ages bit into some cardboard at one point in time. Maybe even more than once.

I am not a risk taker and never have been. I am way too conservative, worrying about the potential for things to go wrong. I work very hard to prevent disaster or messiness and this isn't a recent development because I'm now a mom or because I've gotten older. I spend a lot of time weighing the pros and cons to ensure a positive outcome. But the drawback is I will never experience the thrill of biting into what everyone else told me was cardboard, only to discover they were wrong and it was the best candy I've ever tasted. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

The best surgery ever

Shortly after the first of the year I had surgery on my knee. Was I scared? No, not in the least. I have had five other surgeries in the past 7 years, all more involved than this. By comparison, this was the equivalent of getting my teeth cleaned. At the hospital. Under anesthesia. Was there a chance that my knee condition would be worsened by the surgery? Or that I might suffer cardiac arrest why I was under? Or respiratory failure? Or paralysis? Yes, yes, yes and yes according to the pre-surgery waiver I signed. But I wasn't concerned. But I was nervous. I was nervous about what would happen to my household while I was at the hospital for the better part of the day. I was nervous about what would happen while I was confined to bed after the surgery. I had visions of a domestic apocalypse.

In preparation for the surgery I ran around like a crazy woman tying up every loose end I could think of. I caught up completely on laundry for the first time in...ever. The refrigerator and pantry were stocked. I was as ready as I would ever be. The night before the procedure I looked my husband straight in the eye, told him I loved him and then signed an affidavit stating that I would be a good patient. I would obey doctor's orders. I would not attempt to spring from my bed less than 24 hours post-op and run off to volunteer somewhere as I have been known to do in the past. I said I would take it easy and as a show of good faith (besides the affidavit) I for the following week. I didn't schedule a single meeting. I made a point of telling people that I was having surgery, not to elicit their well-wishes or promise of meals but so they knew not to email me with requests for my help that I would be unable to deny.

So I had the surgery on a Friday. My husband brought me home and I hobbled upstairs to bed. That night I had to use my crutches to get to the bathroom. The next morning I woke up and felt...fine. By the end of Saturday I was completely crutch-free and going up and down the stairs. By Sunday I was hardly limping. And by Monday I could put all my weight on the repaired leg. The outcome was everything I could have hoped for. And more.

What more, you might ask? The *more* was in the form of the affidavit I signed. The one that required me to rest. To lay in bed. Read my book. Ask people to bring me things. I used this opportunity to have my children help around the house in ways they would otherwise reject. Such as being quiet. I had my husband take the dog to the groomer, something I had been meaning to get to for a month. I asked people to do things without reproach or guilt. It was awesome.

And my fears of the domestic apocalypse? Completely unfounded. Thanks to my sister and my mother-in-law helping out by taking my children away from our house, it actually stayed cleanish. And intact. More or less.

When Monday rolled around and the kids went off to school and my husband went off to work I was alone. And my calendar was completely empty. At first it felt weird, and I admit I was a bit panicky. But I was also still exhausted from the surgery, so I took a nap. Okay, I took two naps. Make that three. With the dog at my side. It was the day there was a light snow falling and at one point the dog and I just laid on the bed while I drank a mug of cocoa and read my book.

I would love to say I spent the entire week like that, but then you would worry that perhaps they'd accidentally given me a lobotomy in addition to fixing the knee. So I admit that by Tuesday night I snuck off to a meeting and had a few other meetings throughout the rest of the week. Yes, I did not honor the affadavit but I don't think my husband ever expected I would. At least not for as long as I did. But for almost two whole days I did pretty much nothing. And I didn't feel guilty. I felt...rested.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The New New Year

After giving it some thought, I have decided that I will not be starting my new year on January 1st. The first day of the generally recognized new year falls at a really inconvenient time. For starters, my house is a mess, I'm too exhausted to care, and the only thing I am resolving to do is get my children back to school. It has been a non-stop flurry of activity from Thanksgiving to Christmas, to my daughter's birthday on December 27th and then New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrating. I think I last sat down for more than 5 minutes right about the time the leaves started falling. Everyone is cranky and bitter because winter break is coming to an end and they have to get dressed before noon. My children are preparing to mutiny over the idea that candy will no longer be eaten at 10am. I am not ready to *start* anything, except maybe a nap.

When the Romans developed the modern calendar they started the year in March, which would work much better for me. I am even willing to consider using the Chinese New Year later this month. My old-school, hard copy18 month agenda-planner starts on September 1. But January 1st just won't do. So forgive me January 1, I refuse to recognize you as the start of the new year. I will be starting my new year on a yet-to-be-determined date. Most likely one when my house is clean, or at least doesn't look like something blew up, and I have something in our pantry besides pretzels to feed my family.