Hello Stranger.

January 21, 2016

So. Much. Life. Has happened in the past (almost) two years since my last post.  I love a good list.  So here’s a very long winded listed recap of my life.

  • In August of 2014 we moved (again) back to the town where we first moved in together in 2007 and were married in 2009.  We haven’t moved since, even though we are quickly outgrowing our current house.  We love it here.  The school’s are great, it’s quiet and progressive and very conducive to living a healthy lifestyle.
  • I turned 30 and ran 13.1 miles the same day in September 2014.  It was the hardest and best thing I had done up until that point in my life.  Training went really well for the race.  The race itself taught me I enjoy the process of training for races more than the actual races.  It was unseasonably warm.  I forgot to put on sunblock.  I dropped my hat somewhere around mile 3.  I thought “who thought this was a good idea…oh wait, that was me” a lot.  But I finished and am I better runner for it.
  • Things with my eldest bonus-kid  have sadly worsen over the course of  two years. My husband came VERY close to being awarded custody in March of 2015, to have his narcissistic, manipulative, sociopath ex lie and deceive to keep that from happening.  After the last court hearing in April of 2015, we have slowly seen bonus kid less and less. We now see her about once a month at this point, for less than 24 hours.   What little communication between visits, through text messages is only about cancelling scheduled time and is obviously heavily influenced by her mother.  Whenever we do get to see her, she  is always kind, and sweet and you can tell she misses us, even though she won’t vocalize those words.  Her actions say so much.
  • In July of 2015, my younger bonus-kid came to live with us full time.  She is doing great, and things we her mother are great.  Besides that mom is having a tough time in life and doesn’t see her kid nearly as much as she would prefer.
  • The best for last: On October 3, 2015 I became a Mama. Our sweet girl has replaced the half marathon as the hardest and best thing I have done (and probably ever will do).  She is the best. I may be a bit biased.  So what.

I had an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy.  I was active the entire time, keeping up with running until half way through my second trimester, and then continuing Pure Barre classes 4-5 times a week until my 36th week.  The I walked (waddled more like it) 3-4 times a week until the day I delivered.

I was not prepared for the crash.  Everyone talks about postpartum depression.  I had read or heard little about postpartum anxiety.  After we came home from the hospital, when the surge of Oxytocin ended, I was sleep deprived.  I was recovering from labor. I was not feeling like myself at all.  I felt like a completely different person, who had absolutely no idea what the hell she was doing.  I tend to worry a bit, but the combination of hormones and this huge life change began a vicious cycle of worry and intrusive negative thoughts.  The what-if’s had me in tears every other day.  It took me practically my entire maternity leave to accept a few important things:

  • I have to take care of myself before I can take the best care of my baby.
  • I can’t control my baby, but I can learn how to best care for her.  She is who she is, and that’s okay.
  • She’s happy and developing: stop worrying something is wrong.
  • Worrying about things doesn’t keep them from happening.

My current goal is to work in fitness whenever and where ever I can.  It is my best and favorite stress management tool.  Being in Ohio during winter makes this a bit difficult, but I might just have to break down and join the nearby gym for a while.  Pure Barre is my favorite, but the studio is a bit of a drive, so I’m waiting until the babe is a bit older to jump back into things at the studio.  I have been running outside when possible, but anything below 27 degrees or so makes me REALLY cold 🙂

I hope to get back to this space somewhat regularly, so stay tuned for whatever’s in store for me in 2016.

Until next time!

 

 

 

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Step.

January 19, 2014

I have historically used this space to focus on my struggles and successes with the healthier lifestyle I have been living for the past 2 years.  It might be a stretch to some, but mental health is just as important as physical health, and I have a lot weighing on my mind when it comes to recent family events.

***

It was a very snowy Saturday in March when I was asked to go where no early twenties college gal dare go: Chuck E. Cheese.  My then boyfriend (now husband) of a little over a year finally felt okay introducing me to his oldest daughter (his youngest was born 7 months into our relationship; that is a whole other story for another time.  All you need to know is I am an intelligent woman who fell in a love with a very wonderful man; who happened to have two kids from two past relationships).  She was one month shy of 5 years old and totally adorable.  She brought me stickers of puppies and kitties and was pretty quiet.  I didn’t know that day how much this little girl would shape me as a person in the following years, inside and out. 

The reason he waited over a year to introduce us is important: his ex has never made life easy when it came to seeing his child since their relationship ended, in fact, we have recently learned she hasn’t even been acting with the best interests of their child in mind all these years.  My husband waited this long time before I got to meet his daughter, and even had asked his ex’s permission, scheduled a different day, to only have her “change her mind” at the last minute before the first meeting ever happened.

But this isn’t about the ex, this is about the daughter.

Over the following years, I found my place as that loaded word: Step-Mom. After we were married in 2009, my now husband and I struck a balance with things, There were a few road bumps, but we found our groove.  For me, step-parenting is always such a fine line.  A slippery slope that always feels seconds away from the words I’m sure I’ll someday hear: “You’re not my REAL mom!”  My eldest daughter (I hate the step part, I feel like it is unnecessary, I think of both girls as my own, but I never want to offend anyone; be it their mothers or any of the maternal family…it is all very complicated.  Let’s call her bonus kid?) has grown into this absolutely fantastic person.  I feel so lucky to have somehow ended up as a part of her life.  She makes me so proud for so many different reasons; she is an honor roll student who is in band, choir and has a passion for art and drawing.  She does baton twirling and volleyball.  She is funny and fun to be with and just such a joy to assist in parenting alongside my husband.  She has made me want to be a better role model.  I try to live my life as a good example of a good person and a good woman all for her.  To show her how an active lifestyle is good for you and fun, and how eating a balanced diet still allows for treats, just in moderation.  Being a part of her life has made me a better person.  Hands down. 

My husband had to request a court ordered visitation schedule in July of 2012.  After several years of the ex sometimes following their verbal agreement, but mostly dictating when he would get to see his daughter, enough was enough.  At a pre-trial hearing they signed to an order to which afterwards she says things like, “we’ll see if this works” and “I’ll just keep saying no to you until I get my way”.  The following year she broke the order once, and my husband agreed to the slight change so no action was taken.  They swapped weekends and moved on.  Then, summer of 2013 arrives and his ex scheduled all their family vacations during time that was supposed to be my husband’s, forcing him to file contempt of court charges against her.  The order they agreed upon was written to say specifically, she cannot schedule vacations over his time in the summer.  She immediately lawyered up, and filed a motion to revise parenting time, requesting a reduction in summer visits for my husband.  She has been granted multiple continuances, dragging out the process.  She is on her second lawyer, her first withdrew as counsel on the grounds of “not being able to zealously advocate for Ms. XXXXXXX position on the matter.” She is making our lives a living hell. 

She has put their daughter, my bonus kid, smack in the middle of all of this.  The ex has convinced her this is all her dad’s fault and the only way to get him to agree to this lessened time and to drop the contempt charges is to refuse to see him.  The ex is portraying Hostile-Aggressive Parenting techniques and my bonus kid is showing clear signs she is suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome.  To see this child turned away from her dad (and as a result me as well) over the past few months, is absolutely heartbreaking.  I am so worried what all of this is doing to her mentally and psychologically.  

So I guess this was a little bit about the ex.  How can it not be?  She’s my bonus kid’s mother.  We never wanted things this way.  We have said over and over again to each other how we know there are some situations when parents split up and can actually set aside their personal feelings for each other and act in the best interests of the child.  We have that with my youngest bonus kid; her mom is great.  Her mom can admit my husband is a great father and know it is a good thing to have him in her daughter’s life.

We can’t relent now, because then what’s the point of all this strife?  We have to stay the course, but this is by far, the hardest thing I have ever dealt with in life.  Watching my husband be told he deserves less time with his child simply because the ex thinks it is just is maddening.  He is the best father a child could ever want.  He would do absolutely anything for his children.  All we can do is everything we are doing, but it just doesn’t feel like enough.  

So this is the New Year.

January 1, 2014

Oh hai.  Remember me?  You can stop assuming that Thanksgiving Day 10k was the end of me….although it definitely slowed me down for a while for about a week afterwards.  I am really glad I ran it, but, it was probably the stupidest race I could have done for my first one.  Over 17,000 people and freezing cold…I am still not sure why I thought that was a good idea.  I finished with a semi decent time (not nearly as fast as my usual distance pace but whatever) and that is all that matters. 

I somehow survived the holiday season this year.  It felt as if I was being pulled in all these directions when I really just wanted to watch NetFlix in my pajamas.  Sometimes I did, but eventually I would have the guilt and feel the need to be around actual people for a change.   For the first time in pretty much my entire life I am glad to see the end of the holiday season.  I am usually one to leave the Christmas tree up until the weekend after New Year’s but that sucker came down on the 31st with little melancholy on my part…and that was after a solid 5 days of pure procrastinating avoidance like “I should really take the tree down…or I could re-watch another episode of Season 1 of Dexter!” (My husband and I finally finished out that series early December and I think it added to my “meh” holiday spirit.  Yes, I just admitted a crappy ending to one of my favorite cable series gave me mild holiday depression.  Way to let me down, Showtime, I’ll send you my counseling bills.)

I am lucky enough to have a job where they send us home the Friday before Christmas and we don’t go back until after New Year’s so I have been working out pretty much as much as I want.  I would really love for this final 15 pounds to get the f out.  I’m attempting to “take it up a notch” with my workouts and actually hold myself accountable for everything I eat.  So far I have really awesome days, and then there’s a holiday.  Like New Year’s where I pretty much drank more calories than I typically eat in a day.  So.  Yeah.  My emotional well being needed a good old fashioned New Year’s, and now I can safely say I’m ready to do this thing. 

Bring it, 2014.

Oh, and I also deactivated my Facebook, because really, it just makes me mildly to moderately annoyed these days. We’ll see how long I last, since it had basically became a small addiction. Maybe it will make me spend more time here?  Let’s hope.

 

Race.

November 26, 2013

Two days from right now, I will have completed my first race…which happens to be a 10k.  One of the largest and oldest in the country to be exact.  I am slightly excited, but mostly, I am super nervous.  Mostly because I have never done this before, and a little because large crowds of people are not my favorite thing but I know I can and will do it, and that’s all that matters.

***

What do you do when you can not run out the anxiety?  In the past years, running has become my therapy.  When I am running I can turn my head off and just focus on me.  Lately that has become harder and harder to do.  I have a lot of things going on in my family life, in relation to my eldest step-daughter.  Things have never been great with her mother, but in the past year they have become increasingly bad, to the point where we are about to retain a lawyer because there is a full hearing after the first of the year to rule on my husband’s parenting time.  The whole situation is very stressful for my husband, and in turn, it has pervaded pretty much the entirety of our daily life.  Right before the holidays, no less.  I have spurts of time while running where my mind clears and those fleeting moments are what keeps me coming back, even in the rain or snow, for another run.

***

I run because I can.  I run because the feeling of accomplishment I get afterwards is pretty much unlike anything I have ever experienced.  There may be a day when I can no longer run, but that day isn’t today, so until that day comes, I will run.  I am a runner.

Commitment.

October 27, 2013

Since I began running in 2010 it was mostly to see if I could.  I chose to do something I had never enjoyed nor was good at, because I like a challenge I suppose?  Maybe it was because I lived in an adorable, progressive town with lovely trails within walking distance?  Whatever the reason, I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. I didn’t have a gym membership at the time, so it was a free way to get out and move that required nothing more than some running shoes and work out clothes.  I took a try at it; it was hard.  I got discouraged and fell back into bad habits. Then in January 2011 I decided to start my weight loss efforts for the very last time.  43 pounds and two years later, I run 4 miles in 40 minutes as I am training for my first 10k…which is also my first race.

I have been running around 3 miles consistently for the better part of this year, so I decided to go a bit bigger for my first race.  I’m so excited about it, I am already considering signing up for the  2014 Air Force Half Marathon.  I have a few months to decide, since registration doesn’t open until January 1st, but I’m already about 90% sure.  The 2014 Air Force Marathon falls on my 30th birthday.  It feels like I HAVE to do it because really, how many people get to say I ran a half marathon on my 30th Birthday?!

***

I was visiting with my 86 year old Grandma a few days ago, lamenting about how I’m going to navigate potty breaks, if I’ll even need one, in the middle of the 10k.  She told me,

“Sara Beth (that’s what she calls me) stop and go to the bathroom, they will have porta Johns!”

to which I replied,

“But then I’ll have to to stop!  If I am RUNNING a 10k, Grandma, I have to RUN the entire time!  If I am going to do something, I have to DO it right.”  Which in my mind is as close to perfect as possible.

She then told me that sounded pretty familiar and she wonders where I get that from with a definite twinkle in her eye.

***

When I do something in life, especially something I am passionate about and voluntarily doing, I’m going all in.  Running has given me so much in the past few years.  It is my time alone.  It is something I can control at least a little bit, when things feel so completely out of hand with everything else in life.  It has shown me it’s okay to change your mind about things.  People change and grow and that is a good thing.  It has given me confidence and shown me I can live a balanced healthy life, which in turn, has completely squashed my biggest fears of becoming a mother…..Okay, wait, now how did we get here?  Let me digress…

Being an overweight child was extremely hard for me.  I remember being 13 or 14 (or whatever age girls start talking about marriage and babies?  I truly don’t remember.) and swearing to myself to never bring a child into this world, for fear that they would suffer the same cruel combination of genetics, slow metabolism and sedentary lifestyle that I did.  I didn’t want another child to feel like I did all those years.  I may have been extra sensitive, but years of bullying, name calling and self loathing sort of sticks with a person, no matter how “thick” your skin is.  Mine was paper thin, so I promised myself this “no babies” rule all those years ago, and if I am anything, I am stubborn.

Looking back, it was so naive, but so “me” to make such a gigantic life decision as a teenager and stick to it for more than 10 years.

Now that I am 29 years old, with two amazing step-daughters in my life, (who have shown me I can definitely navigate parenting reasonably well? Step-parenting is a whole other story for another time.) I truly think I can make the informed, grown up, decision that I have changed my mind on babies.  I want to have one.

Hmmm, look at that, people can change, it just takes some of us more miles to get there.  For me, it’s been about 260 over the past 2 years.

Sidelined.

February 1, 2013

It has been 8 years since I have had anything close to the flu.  I was in my 3rd year of college and was hit hard with a 48 hour bug.  It was the first time I had been seriously sick since I moved out of my parents house.  It was awful.  I remember calling my mother asking her if she would come take care of me, and she laughed at me saying get some 7up and crackers and sleep it off.  

This time around was a little bit different.  Having a husband comes in handy from time to time.  He took good care of me.  And it was a much less dramatic sickness, without all the puking, just feeling like I could for almost 3 days straight.  I’m doing a bit better today, less nausea but still sort of weak and tired. 

Needless to say, I’m out of routine right now.  I was just coming off an 8 day streak of gym trips, and I’m starting to wonder if I was pushing a bit too hard.  I’m going to ease back into workouts, perhaps with a low intensity treadmill walk tomorrow morning.  That is, of course, depending on how I feel in the morning.

I’m taking this as a sign that I need to slow it down a bit.  Since my current approach wasn’t  really producing steady results, I may need to change things up anyways.  Sometimes you just need to take a cue from your body and give it the rest it needs.

Maintaining.

January 14, 2013

I fit in an outdoor run this weekend.  Ohio gave us an unseasonably warm 60 degree Saturday (at the cost of a 20 degree overnight drop that has left me with a gross sinus headache today) so I had to take advantage.  It was a bit slow going, being that I haven’t logged 2 miles at once since December, but it felt great to get out there.  Yesterday I stepped up my cardio by doing a 45 minute elliptical interval workout, followed by some yoga.  The gym is insanely crowded still, with all the resolutioners, but I’m hoping things to thin out in the following weeks.

I wasn’t the most stringent about eating through the weekend, so this morning when I weighed myself and saw I maintained from the previous week, I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t upset either though.  The previous week’s 4 pound loss is the most I have lost in a week in a long time.  I was almost expecting a gain this morning, with a weekend that included a Chinese buffet dinner and movie theater popcorn (I passed on the butter and only got a small…but a small is still SIX cups of popcorn!) so when I saw I maintained, I was happy.

This week I am focusing on longer cardio workouts in the morning and doing some strength training in the evenings.

Hurray for fitness!