Friday, November 30, 2012

Harshest Critic

I am my own worst enemy.  I am my harshest critic.  I know this.  I try to change this and yet, time after time after time, I have failed to morph this ugly character trait for myself.  I simply cannot!

Recently, I opened a fortune cookie that read, "Demand nothing but the best for yourself, or no one will."  Halleluiah.  This was music to my ears (eyes?).  If I do not have anything but the highest expectations for myself, who will? 

I had a really tough year last year - emotionally.  No, I did not let on to anyone just how bad it was.  Massive changes were in store for me after downsizing my home and adjusting to new financial rules (namely learning how to live on a strictly cash basis budget while paying down prior years' debt).  Breast cancer just does not go away after the treatments and the surgeries stop.  The lingering effects still loom large, and the realities force us survivors to figure out our "new normals" on so many levels.

My docs want me to keep my stress levels to an absolute minimum.  Ha ha.  Yes, I hear you laughing because you know I am like you - a mother of multiple children, I have a husband and a job, and so on.  I have been cleared to work on a part time basis.  I cannot help but blame myself for our financial situation when I could easily solve it by returning to my full time corporate career.  However, I cannot defy my medical orders and risk my health.

Where am I going with this you ask?  Well, when I cannot control my situation (yes, I have a tad touch of control freak in me) I cannot cope.  Because I was still coming off of an injury last year, my exercise has waned dramatically.  Exercise had been my coping mechanism and most of you know I was a gym rat; an insane exerciser who never missed a day.  This past year, instead of a thousand burpees, I turned to emotional eating.  Yes, me.  I love kale more than most people you will ever meet.  However, kale does not give you that big ol' comfort hug like a dose of carbs.

In any event, I put on some weight again and I have been beating myself up about it.  I have disliked myself very, very, very much.  I have hiked, I have walked, I have run when I could, but with the chaos of my kids' fall schedules, I found very little time for me to add exercise let alone be a gym rat. 

Did I mention I dislike my current self very, very, very, very much?

In any event, a friend of mine asked me in early October to do a triathlon training class with her.  Sure I replied, while having a small dose of diarrhea in my skivvies.  One hour of spin class followed by one hour of swim class.  Sure.  I can do that.  *Insert panic attack and more intestional distress.*

Now, the reality is I walk out of spin class looking like a beaten fifty shades of red tomato that has melted in the summer sun.  Somehow, I peel myself out of these soaked diaper bottomed cycling shorts and get my sweaty, lardy self into a bathing suit (in the DEAD of winter, mind you) and jump into a pool to swim.  One problem:  I do not swim.


I do not swim.

Yes, I did a sprint triathlon two years ago.  However, I did the breast stroke nearly the entire way.  I sputtered.  I swallowed water.  I stopped dead in the lake when people tried to overswim me.

I have been getting ridiculous anxiety every Thursday as I gear up to know what lies ahead in the evening hours.  I have forgotten how much I love spin class.  It is hard.  However, it is the kick ass kind of workout that I crave.  I do enjoy a fair amount of pain and torture.

Let me remind you, however, I do not swim.

Well, I had a revelation this week.  I am getting better at swimming.  My strokes have improved a hundred fold from a few short weeks ago.  My breathing, well, it's still a work in progress but I made progress tonight.  I felt so much frustration at NOT being able to keep up with the "OTHERS" in class - you know, the REAL triathletes.  I started on the harsh criticism to myself - yelling at myself for not swimming fast enough, for not being able to keep up with some of the others, for not being able to glide through the water like a dolphin.  I further chastised myself for swallowing water.  Again.

Once the endorphins kicked in, I realized that I accomplished quite the feat tonight and I had NO business yelling at myself.   If I had not been in the classes tonight, where would I have been?  Yup.  You guessed it.  On my couch.  Snuggling with my favorite four year old.  Suddenly, it dawned on me - I need to be nicer to myself.  I need to compliment myself and say thank you - thank you for taking that time for me; thank you for pushing myself to the limits both on the bike and in the pool. 

My body is a machine and I will use it as it is intended.  I will offer myself some grace.  I will know that next week I will be better and I will be stronger than I was last week.  I will be kind.

Are you your own harshest critic?  How so?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


This is one of my all-time favorite clips, and I think it bears repeating in a week where so much tragedy has struck our little corner of the world, reminding us that this crap goes on every single day in every single area of the world and the most we can do is rely on each other.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trail Mix

I love trail mix. 
I used to eat very basic pre-made stuff. 

Then, I started to buy more "mature" flavors. 
Wasabi coated almonds. 
So very exciting. 

But now I have reached the pinnacle. I found a place where I could build my own trail mix.


I stood over this trail mix buffet and began to choose. I was humming and I think I was dancing a bit. How perfect! Because I am the type of person who will eat the ingredients in trail mix when I don't even like them because I am made up of 96% guilt. No wasting.

Sooooooooo, in the quiet moment of reading one afternoon, I got to thinking whilst eating my Kate made trail mix. Interesting how much the container mirrored my life. I am now in a place where I feel comfortable with choosing my friends that make me most happy. 

I looked at the yogurt coated raisin and recognized who that was. And the cashew. I love that cashew in my life. We all have that almond that helps support us. And the M&M that keeps life sweet. I love the quiet of the sunflower seed and the extreme necessity of the corn nut. The unexpected corn nut! I was thrilled, too! Yes, the peanut was welcome in smaller doses. The sesame stick was probably a little heavy handed, but....that happens. I found a couple of odds and ends ingredients that snuck in while I scooped. Some I snacked on. Some I had to throw out. They didn't belong in my mix. 
(And yes. There was guilt.)

I do want to thank every one of you nuts, grains, dried fruits and berries out there that have contributed to help Kisha and her family after the fire and the loss of their home. You are the most bountiful Trail Mix I have ever known. Your medley is the sweetest around. XO

Sunday, November 25, 2012

5 Alarm Fire- A Home Lost

What do you do when your friend's house is on fire? When she has lost her home and you are talking with her on the phone and crying with her while in your own bed, in your own home, kids snug in their own beds at 12am? 

She is 1/3 of my Pre School Mafia. She is the loveliest and funniest instant friend I have made in a long time. And when I heard her voice in the midst of 

her building burning down, she said in her same calm voice, "Hey, I got with me what I really need. I have my child. I have my husband. The rest is just stuff." And I am sitting there and I am thinking, "She is right! She is so wise and so right!" and then a beat later I think, "She is in shock! She is completely in shock!" because though she is 100% right that she has her world with her in her family and that is what matters the most, I can't help realizing that I am sitting in my BED in my ROOM at my ADDRESS. I am wearing PAJAMAS and SOCKS. I took out my CONTACTS and put on my GLASSES and brushed my teeth with my TOOTHBRUSH while I thought about her. This morning I went to my KITCHEN and took out a MUG while wearing my SLIPPERS. I got out a SPOON and made my cup of COFFEE. I sat on my COUCH and began to write. Absolutely everything I did I had these annoying bold words screaming in my head, listing the simple things that are missing from her life now. All the rebuilding they will have to do. She lost her nest and everything in it. Pots. Pans. Food. Clothes. Toys. Furniture. TV. Utensils. Gifts. Mail. Books. Rugs. Sheets. Blankets. Stuffed animals. Pictures-The main thing that made her solid voice break. I can still see them on her shelf, too. I can see the picture of her and her husband; K wearing a bandana on her head. She laughed as she told me how much her mom hated that photo. She straightened it and laughed again as we walked out of the apartment. (It was a super cute photo.)

K's baking business: She surprised my son with this on his birthday. All of her baking equipment she used to run her cake baking side business is gone.

The list goes on holding things that I don't even know about. And as I type and my emails come in saying that Black Friday is extended and Cyber Monday came early it makes me want to say this:
I want to help. I want to put on Santa's true hat and help. I can't make a new nest appear. And I can't get back her most likely demolished car that was parked behind her building. And I can't take away the feelings and loss she is experiencing. 

I can help her look forward, though. 

I ask you all (even though it may piss her off) if you will help me help K rebuild her life. It will only be a small portion of what needs getting done, I know. But while you are at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Hannaford, Staples, Children's Place, Kmart, JCPenny's, Sears, Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS...wherever you are in the next few days and weeks getting ready for the holidays, will you please pick up a $5 gift card for K and her family and send it to me? Or hold it for me and I will come get it. I will collect these and help my friend: a nurse, a mom, a baker, a wife, a daughter, a giver of herself at all times, receive something to aid in her struggle. We can help her remember what this Season of Giving really means. 
A very personal thank you.

Send to:
Kate Laird
68 Vaughn Hill RD
Bolton, MA 01740

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Top Twenty Thankfuls

We are all thankful for so much this time of year.  The health of our family, the abundance in our lives whether it be food, or our homes, or the love in our hearts.  We are grateful for the national security in our land, no fear of rockets throughout the night.  We are thankful for jobs and paychecks.  We are thankful that even when we are tight, we still have plenty to give.
20.          I am thankful for padded shorts for the hour long spinning class and the safety of my rear.  Despite the abundance of padding provided by Mother Nature and “other” things, a seat without padded shorts is enough to cripple a tough adult.
19.          I am thankful for the smells that remind me of my youth, including the essence of the endangered Hostess Ding Dongs and the hallways of LHS.
18.          I am thankful for long sweaters to keep me warm (and to hide the evidence of consumption of that aforementioned endangered Hostess Ding Dong…..hey, it may be the last time ever).
17.          I am thankful for hot showers, even when a little skinny, bony girl body joins me and tells me to move out of the way (“You’re hogging all the water, Momma!  Push over!).
16.          I am thankful for the play punch to my face from my towering twelve year old son.  It means he loves me, and it is actually a sign of affection.
15.          I am thankful for that man who lives with me, for more reasons than he puts the trash out, does the dishes and helps me make some really awesome offspring.
14.          I am thankful for friends who know how to truly be silly with me and those who tell me to relax when I am way too serious.  I give extra thanks to those who have taught me the word “Motorboat”; to those who refused to judge me; and to those friends who are crazy enough to convince me to do a triathlon training session (who SWIMS in the cold of winter?  Oh, I do).
13.          I am thankful for the herd of four-legged meowing creatures that live within my home.  Despite the piles of cat puke and the multiple cat litters, these fuzzy cuties know the precise moment my lap needs warming or I could use a snuggle that a human is not providing.
12.          I am thankful for the copious amounts of bills on my counter because they remind me…..that I am truly indeed NOT thankful for bills.  Seriously, how many dental, orthodontia and oral surgery bills can ONE family have?  (But thankful for Flex Spending plans!)
11.          I am thankful for cell phones.  I can literally feel connected to two of my three children within an instant.  As much as I love Adam Levine singing about a payphone, I am really grateful my children will not have to use one. 
10.          I am thankful for boobs.  Really.  And not only because mine literally tried to kill me.  I have made so many positive changes in my life because of my boobs.  I have met some of the most caring and lovely people – all because of boobs.  Yay for boobies.
9.            I am thankful for toilet paper.  Need I say more?  Other than I am convinced my family must eat it as well as use it for its intended purpose.  Who goes through a mega pack weekly?
8.            I am thankful for children’s clutter, as it reminds me of our abundance and how fortunate my kids are to have as much as they do.
7.            I am thankful for the overfull schedules, because it means I have healthy children who may participate in the sports and events that they truly love and enjoy.
6.            I am thankful for my husband’s 180 mile round trip daily commute.  Because even though it knocks the breath out of our wallet when gas is $4/gallon, it means my husband is gainfully employed at a job that offers him balance with life and family (and those aforementioned bills get paid - albeit slower than we would like).
5.            I am thankful for my community.  Thankful for the very people who step up when you have fallen down.  Meals, rides, hugs, tears, kicks in the ass, more hugs, more pick-ups, fundraising for those who make up this community, laughter, silliness, more tears, more bonding, and just plain awesome fibers who make up this little city of Leominster.
4.            I am thankful for Always Infinity.  ‘Nuf said.
3.            I am thankful for wine.  Yes.  Yes, I am.  Cline Cashmere to be exact.  Feel free to ever add to my collection and I will be even fuller of gratitude.  Or better yet, come share a bottle with me.
2.            I am thankful for having the ability to be thankful.  To keep my perspective in alignment when things do not go the way I intend;  for having the flexibility to adapt.
1.            I am thankful for life, for you, for me, for our families.  Enjoy your turkey, your stuffing, your pies and everything in between.
Happy Thanksgiving to you.  <3

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


For having had her
 For having him
 For knowing them
 For getting this
 For being one-third of this
 For having the comfort of that

For getting from A to B like this

 For bad doggie breath wrapped up in cute
 For having friends like her
 And even more than them, and too many more to name
 For cousins
For life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Date Night

Here is the story of Rob and I trying to go on a date.

Me: We are going to a birthday party.
R: OK. Do I know these people?
Me: Yes.
R: OK.
Me: I need to get a sitter.
R: Yes, get a sitter because we need to go on dates.
Me: Look, I am just trying to get to this birthday party. I don't need any more stress than that right now!
R: Right.

(2 days later.)

Me: I need to get a babysitter.
R: Yes.

(2 days later.)

Me: I need to get a babysitter.

R: Yes.

(2 days later.)

Me: I need to get a babysitter.
R: Yes.

(2 days later.)

Me: Why haven't I gotten a babysitter?
R: I have no idea.
Me: OK, I am going to ask my friend about her daughter.
R: Ask the girls across the street.

(I email my friend, I get her daughter's number. We set it all up. We are going to a birthday party.)

(Party Night)

Me: Come in! Thank you for coming! You know E. This is B and C.
Z: Hi.

(Various small talk and rules given. Pizza for all and we head out.)

R: All set?
Me: Yes.
R: She seems nice.
Me: Yes!



R: What the....
R: Did I Just....
Me: Ohhhhhhh my loooooooooord...
R: I....
Me: You just hit her car.


R: Her car?
Me: Auuuuuuuuuuugh!!!!!

(Scrambling out to check the damage.)

Me: Auuuuuuuuuuugh!!!!

(running in the house)

Me: Hey!
All: Hi........?
Me: Ummmm, we just backed into your car.
Z: you......?
Me: I am sooooooooo so sorry! It is a dent in the bumper, not really big and all should be fine.
Z: That is OK! 
Me: It isn't, but sorry......I will give you our infor when we get back......cough........OK. I am going to go now for reals.

(Awkward jog/walk out of the house, bumping into stools, sleeve getting caught on doorknob.)

(Back in the car)

R:Was she mad?
Me: Not outright. She was very cool about it. We clearly are losers and are not meant to go out. We are meant to stay home and not have other cars in our driveway and should be in jammies hurting no one.

(Arrive at an ATM to get money)

R: How much do you want to get?
Me: Well, we have to pay for dinner, drinks, the babysitter....
R: OK.

(beep beep boop beep beep)


Me: Cough.

R: Ummmmmmm.

Me: This is taking a while...
R: Yes, nothing is happening.

Me: Huh.
Rob: I don't see a number to call for help.
Me: Does it HAVE our card or did it just dip in?
Rob: Has our card in there.

(What the hooo-kee-lau?!?!)

Me:  Now what?
Rob: Do we leave?
Me: And cancel another card? That is so annoying.
Rob: I will hit cancel.
Me: YES! Hit cancel!! Yesssss!!!



Me: It isn't doing anything.
R: Huh.


Me: SERIOUSLY?!?! We are NOT meant to go out and have money and be out of the house and be at banks while out. Of the house. At all... 
R: Did you bring your ATM card?
Me: Yes.
R: Well I guess...
Me: But then what, we just leave the card and....

(Beeeeeeep. Cooochink. Bud dum)
(card appears)

Me: Yes!!!!!!
R: We will not be giving you another chance! (Chiding directed at ATM.)

(Zoom off in a huff)

(Arrive at restaraunt. Relay story to friend A.)

Me: SO, all things happening in threes, I am not wanting to see what else will go wrong.
A: (Perplexed look)
Me: All bad things happen in 3! so WHAT evil are we waiting for?
A: (Punches me in the arm) There. 
Me: Ow.
A: All done. 
Me: You....ow!
A: Sangria?

(Aaaaaaaaaand Scene)