Snorkel

What would Dory do?

Another Disney-loving blogger invited me to be a part of A Month of Finding Dory to celebrate the release of Disney’s Finding Dory – so be sure to check out everything from fun activities for your guppies to how to Disney Bound as Dory – right HERE!fdaf489687

Now, I don’t know about you, but Dory is an amazing hero. I mean the girl can’t remember what she is doing from one minute to the next, but she somehow doesn’t stop. She musters up her courage and her posse and she gets it done. Whatever “it” is.  Dory believes in her own courage even when she can’t remember what she is actually up against. This speaks to me.

I want to be that person. The one who can deal with things on my own terms. When things get rough, I want to feel like I have what it takes to handle it. And I want a group of people around me who know all my issues and who cheer me on anyway.  Nothing standing between me and the big blue world and yet nothing that would keep me too far from home,  you know? And that’s what I want for my family, too.

I grew up in a fairly adventurous family.  And I was always told that anything my brothers could do, I could do. No problem.  When I turned 8 years old, my birthday present was a Yamaha YZ80 off-road motorcycle.  A motorcycle. When I was 8.  That’s the kind of household I lived in.   My parents joyfully took our blended family of 5 kids tent camping for weeks across the western United States so that we could explore the world and learn to “rough it” – more than once.  Marinate in that for a moment before we move on.

Now, my husband isn’t really the rough it or road trip type and I’m not complaining about staying in a air-conditioned hotel with room service or hopping on a plane once in a while,   but I do hope that we have followed somewhat in Dory’s  wake in some of the adventures that we have offered to our girls. And more importantly, that we have helped them learn some good lessons about acknowledging their own vulnerabilities, trusting themselves and having courage, and the importance of mutual support.

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He looks pretty calm here.

I think it has worked, at least so far. From that time we all went zip-lining in Whistler, BC and they cheered their dad on to do something he was terrified to do – because believe me, the bears down below didn’t help assuage his fears!

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That guy in the background is holding on for a reason!

Or that hike up the Great Wall of China that required way more physicality than any of us expected but we were there and we weren’t backing down. Or that moment when a boat captain told us we would get in the deep, open water to snorkel because after all, “Nemo needed to be found.” And even now, our oldest is working in South Africa – her 21st country in 20 years – and about to go cage diving with great white sharks because she is more fascinated by learning about them than she is afraid of them. (**Mom’s Disclaimer: I hope the sharks know Dory’s “just keep swimming” mantra and they pass by her cage and keep on going!)

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We are literally Finding Nemo.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My girls could have learned all these things through different methods in our own backyard. But I believe that there is something about sending them out into the world that will instill in them the ability, against all odds, to find their way back home.

Don’t forget to check out the other 30 Days of Finding Dory posts!

 

 

 

The years are short…

So last week I shared with all of you sweet folks some words of encouragement about the days of Pre-K graduation because my Facebook 7811_10151515238697149_1930052226_nand Instagram feeds were blowing up with sweet babies finishing up their preschool days. Well, today it’s all about high school graduation. Those preschool days were long, but the high school years fly by.

For many of us, what happens next goes something like this…

In a blink of an eye, your gangly freshman is about to be dropped off at college – which, as you recall, is full of men with beards and women who you might mistake for moms on the playground – the same people who gave tours to you and your little high school junior and now they are about to share the same classrooms with her. It is frightening.

For those of you who are in this new stage of life, I have some thoughts for you and they are these:

That summer after high school graduation will be an emotional roller coaster for you. And for your child. Neither of you will know what to do about it or how to express it adequately to each other so instead there will lots of door slamming, random tears, and even some name calling. You will find yourself in the middle of Bed, Bath & Beyond frantically arguing over the merits of an extra-long twin size mattress cover.  There will be no apparent reason except that it keeps her from saying she is worried about not being able to get on the right bus on campus in order to get to the right building for class. And it keeps you from saying that you hope you taught her everything she needs to know about _______ (seriously, fill in the blank with whatever – you will have a plethora from which to choose).

Trust me on this. Not only have I lived it myself, but most every summer of my professional career has been spent talking moms and dads and high school graduates off the ledge as they make this transition. And the beauty of it is that this is exactly what is supposed to happen. It is the natural progression of life, not for everyone, but for many.

It is like the Mama Bird who has had enough of sharing the nest with her overgrown fledgling and so she pushes it out into the sky – which is exactly what the little one has been eagerly anticipating would happen! But just when she does, Mama Bird has a moment of panic – about the same moment that the little bird does too – so  Mama swoops out of the nest just in time for the little bird to decide that she can flap her wings after all and she looks at Mama with a self satisfied grin and rolls her eyes that Mama is so _______ (go ahead, fill in the blank cause those eye rolls will come for 1,001 reasons). And Mama Bird’s eyes get soggy…

Sorry, somewhere along the line that analogy got way too human and real. But that is how this whole nurture, separation, growth thing happens.  So for all of you who are in the throes of it, don’t panic. They will flap their wings and you will learn new ways of flying along with them and it will be glorious. But in the meantime, you might consider taking the doors off the hinges, refrain from watching home videos of when she was a toddler, and vow to not tell her that you can’t wait to turn her bedroom into an exercise room…at least for the summer.

Hang in there, Mamas.

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The days are long…

7811_10151515238697149_1930052226_nMy Facebook and Instagram feeds are overflowing with proud faces, all basking in the glow of cap and gown, pomp and circumstance, diploma and accolade that come with graduation. Pre-K graduation. Yes, those little 4 and 5 year olds are about to embark on the real world and take the place by storm.

It won’t be long before those little ones are smelling up the house with their pre-pubescent funk – of the physical and emotional variety. And then the next thing you know, they are asking for the keys to the car and negotiating curfew. Then in a blink of an eye you are on a college tour and wondering how on earth the adult giving the tour hasn’t graduated from college yet since he seems closer to your own age than that of your child, who just graduated from Pre-K, didn’t she?

Yes, the days are long and the years are short. I would say cherish every moment of them.

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Two of my favorite little Pre-K grads.

But, I would also say don’t let anyone make you feel anything but justified for those moments when you wish your fairy godmother would sweep in and work some magic  to-just-get-through-one-more-day. Let’s be real. Even one more minute would be helpful.

 

Hang in there, mommas. You got this.

 

Mourning the loss

Our community has been shaken this week by the tragic and sudden loss of one of our young people in a car crash that took the lives of three others and has left another in critical condition.  Along with our loss, there are three other communities like ours grieving and another praying like their own life depended on it. And we all fall under an umbrella that binds us together – a university community of which these girls were a part. The circle of grief seems to be ever growing, welcoming us all in. 

Knowing that each of these young women is someone’s baby girl, someone’s childhood friend, someone’s sister, someone’s confidant and late night fast food companion, only widens the circumference to an incomprehensible proportion. Losing someone at such a young age and in such a sudden way feels almost surreal. Multiplying that by 4 only complicates our ability to grasp what is happening.  

I’m no expert on grief, but I do find myself in the middle of it on a regular basis. Part of what I do for a living is walk with people in and through their grief. I offer words of comfort and hope. I provide a shoulder to cry on and sometimes a target to rail at. And one thing I do know is that we grieve not only over the loss of a person, but we grieve over all the intangibles. Without warning that circle of grief turns into an monstrous Venn diagram. 

When I suffered a miscarriage early in a pregnancy, I mourned not only the loss of a child. I mourned the plans that we had begun to make. I mourned the idea of having two children. And even mourned the thought that pregnancy was easy for me. You understand. Anyone who has gone through loss – whether it be loss of life, loss of a job, loss of something else – you know that loss is greater than what others may see. The loss permeates the very air you breathe. 

And so today, we mourn. We mourn a young woman who was kind, funny, faithful. We grieve the loss of her gregarious smile and we mourn the way her eyes squinted so adorably when she did it. There is a loss of who she was in the circle of life and we mourn what that means for her family.

And as we struggle with the acute loss of that precious life, we begrudgingly recognize that we have more mourning to do. The loss of security, control, protection, invincibility. The loss of innocence and independence. The loss of the future looking the way we planned. The list could go on. 

I guess what I’m saying is let’s be gentle with one another in these days, recognizing that we – all of us – mourn the loss in some way. The beauty and tragedy of our humanity is that somewhere our circles intersect. May God give us the strength and courage to hold the pieces of each other’s hearts together even as our own may be breaking. 

Blame it on the rain? I wish.

Life in the fast lane.

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Blame it on the rain? I wish.

 

I don’t race you. I race me.

Oh, wait. Let’s be honest. If you come up out of nowhere and try to pass me at the finish line – the race is on. Just ask my best running buddy. She will tell you that its all fun and games until that moment. A character flaw on my part? Perhaps. But 99% of the miles, it is just between me and whatever crazy goal I have gotten into my head about how fast (or slow, as the case may be) I would like to finish any given race.

Sometime last summer, I was coaxed into running the Publix Savannah Women’s Half Marathon by my buddy, Julie of Run. Walk. REPEAT. Julie is an ambassador for the race and she assured me that there it was a flat and fun course and the race wasn’t until April so I had plenty of time to prepare. She had me at flat. You see, that’s when the “PR POSSIBLE” (that’s personal record, not public relations) fireworks went off in my head! I registered immediately.

Now, here’s the thing. When one decides that they would like to run a race for a personal record, one should train with that PR in mind. Am I right? Or let me rephrase that. One should train. Period.

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For half the race, these were my people, but alas…

It’s not like I didn’t train. I just didn’t train enough – far enough, fast enough, enough enough. Something about it being our busiest season at work. Something about taking a 10 day european vacation with my daughter. Something about it being cold. Or rainy. Or the barometric pressure was too high or too low or something. Or something about something. You get the picture.

Long story short. I ran the race. It was indeed a flat and fun course. But all those “somethings” came back to taunt and haunt me while I was out there on that flat and fun course. I would love to blame my virtual collapse at mile 8.5 on the humidity that day (in my defense, it was brutal), but I have no something to blame but myself when I crossed that finish line almost 3 minutes behind my PR rather than 3 minutes ahead of it.

finish

This picture tells it all.                    It was rough.

Yet, like every good little runner does, I’ve gotten up. Brushed off my Mizuno Wave’s. Put on my favorite “fast” shorts.  And asked Jeff Galloway for some advice on how to run a little faster next time I decide that a PR is in my future…which, let’s be honest, is probably the next race I register for because I am, after all, my own best competitor.

Here’s what Jeff has to say about running faster!

FAST AND FUN—It’s a state of mind

Why is running faster a good thing?  Short and fast segments not only help you run faster in races.  If you run a few faster segments each week you can improve your running efficiency while receiving a better attitude boost.

How long should you be running before you add some faster running in?  After 2-3 months of regular running some short accelerations can be added with minimal risk of aches and pains.

Is it possible that running fast can actually be fun?  Yes.  The secret is be creative and limit the length of the fast segment at first.

How often should you run fast? Playful speed can be done once or twice a week.

mickey

One of the bright spots on the course! She was an awesome chEARleader!

Four Faster, Fun Workouts
1. Speed play that you can do on your own. ACCELERATE AND GLIDE.  After an easy 10 minute warmup of slow running, pick up the pace for 10 steps, then coast off the momentum for 10-20 steps.  Don’t be obsessed about the number of steps as this is just a guideline.  Don’t sprint–be playful.  Gradually pick up the pace, and then glide back down to a jog.  Repeat 2-3 times on your first attempt, and take a one minute walk break.  Each week you could increase the number of accelerations as you wish, with a recommended walk break of 1-2 minutes between each.

1. Speed play you can do with one friend—CHASE game.  After an easy 5 minute jog together, one person takes the lead.  As the leader changes the pace (speeding up, then slowing down, speeding up) the follower tries to stay close but not pass.  After 3-5 minutes, take a 1-2 minute walk break and repeat with the other runner leading.  Repeat as many times as desired.

2. Speed play you can do with two friends—SURPRISE game. Following the same format as game 1, the follower tries to surprise the leader by passing gently but quickly.  While there should be no sprinting, it is OK to run fast for 10-30 steps to pass.

3. A speed play workout you can do with three or more friends— FOLLOW the LEADER RUNNING.  The group is running single file for a minute or two at an easy pace.  Then, the last runner, passes all of the other runners and takes the lead for a minute or two.  The current leader sets the pace, and takes a walk break.  When the running resumes, the last runner starts to move to the front.  Each runner gets to take the lead at least once in this game.

*I’m honored to be a part of the Galloway Blogger program. They provide tips for bloggers like me to share. Go check out the Jeff Galloway Official Website and find out more about the man and program that got me running and keeps me going!

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When did this happen?

There are people who know you better than you know yourself. You know those people, right? A best friend, a longtime co-worker, a spouse or other family member. You know who your people are.

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These nuts are a few of “my people.”

I have just begun to realize that my daughters have become two of “my people.” I knew it was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen so soon. And I didn’t think they would realize it was happening before I did.

I’m one of those people to my mom. Or at least I think I am. I remember riding in the car with her on the way to drivers ed. It was before school, early enough for her to drive me on her way to work which was a rarity. Maybe that’s why it sticks in my memory or maybe it was the conversation. My mom is a saint and she never gives herself enough credit for being the amazingly strong person that she is.

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Me & my Mom at Disneyland. My love of Disney comes honestly.

So, in this conversation that dark morning, my mom said something like, “I should have done…” It was an expression of regret about something. I don’t remember what that something was, I just remember that she thought she “should have” done something else. And, in the wisdom of a snotty nosed 14 year-old, I remember almost yelling at her, “Shoulda, woulda, coulda, whatever! Just do it!” Seriously, I was so smart wasn’t I? But somehow I knew that my mom was capable of much more than she thought she was.

Though I was a complete jerk at the time, it is that conversation that has helped me as an adult to understand my mom better than she understands herself. It took me a long time to realize that I had insight to her that she didn’t even have of herself – that she should be more forgiving of herself, for one thing. I wish I’d realized this before I hit adulthood because I’m pretty sure that would have made me a better person – at least a better daughter.

Fast forward to my own girls. There is nothing like traveling together to help you get to know someone better. My oldest and I have had the privilege of doing that a lot lately. And I realize that she knows a lot about me – the good, bad and ugly. And she usually smiles about it when she points it out. For instance, she knows what will set off my tactile defensiveness and she seems to be completely intrigued by this crazy part of me. She knows that I have a bizarre fascination with how things work and why people do what they do.

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One of my favorites. Warms a momma’s heart.

And my younger daughter, well she shows serious signs of getting me, too. Just yesterday, she turned to someone and said she “needed a Dr. Pepper” and that she realizes why I “need” one when I do and she said it in such a way that it warmed my heart.  She understands why I go nuts when someone does a bad parking job. And this girl understands exactly how to make me run faster at the end of a race.

And yes, they both know what makes me use curse words – which is probably not the reasons you may be thinking. They know that I could easily cry at the drop of a hat and I’m pretty sure they know why I usually don’t succumb to the urge to do so. They are beginning to get me better than I get myself – and most days I need that kind of understanding from people in my life. Who doesn’t? 

When did this happen? I’ll admit it is a bit sobering because it means that they are growing up. And I guess that it also means that we will figure out this whole “adulting” thing together.  I thought they would have to drag me kicking and screaming to this season of life, yet I think I’m ok with it. So, let’s do this…but let’s take our time, shall we?

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Deciding who wins.

Our family has always held travel – everywhere from other parts of our state, to developing countries, to the “great sites” of the world – as one of our core values. Travel may seem like an elitist thing to value. And maybe it is. We don’t take for granted that we have the resources and opportunity to travel that11885325_10153195094177149_4024024933767817571_n not everyone has. Yet, seeing how the rest of the world lives, meeting people from around the globe, and debunking the “ugly American” stereotype (or at least we try our best to do so!) are ways that we can make a difference in the world.  Again, I hear it. There is some sense of pretentiousness to it.

Our hope is that through travel, our daughters will grow to have a different view of the world than they would otherwise. Though the world seems small the moment a pop up on our cell phones notifies us of explosions in Brussels just minutes after they happen, the reality is we inhabit a world full of variety, disparity and vastness. It may sound trite, but it’s a big world and it is difficult to understand this big world and its people if we stay in our cocoon and never spread our wings to explore it.

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve read and listened to conversations about the risk of international travel. I’ve had friends who have asked if we want our daughter who is studying abroad to hurry up and come home or if our younger daughter is still making her trip to Europe next week. I’ve been asked if I am worried. Yes, I am. But not so much for my daughters’ safety. I’m worried about us. All of us. I’m worried that we will give in to fear and in so doing, we decide who and what wins. And it isn’t us.

Here’s the deal. Yesterday morning, just as news of the second explosion in Brussels came in, I was boarding a flight to Paris on my way back to the US after visiting our daughter who is studying abroad. At the same time I was boarding my flight, I learned that my husband was involved in a road rage incident that involved a man waving a gun at him and at someone in another car –  less than a mile from our home in our little suburban neighborhood. Terror can strike anywhere and in many forms.

Both of these incidents are incongruent with our view of how the world should be. These events fly in the face of all that we hope to teach our girls through travel.  It seems we have been confronted with the need to make an unwelcomed choice.  And so, though we are not risk takers, we have made the decision to do our best to not live in fear and to not let terror – at home or abroad – have the final say. I don’t know. Maybe we are foolish, but something tells me this is about more than our personal safety.

Of course, we all have to make our own decisions about where we have to draw our own boundaries and we must respect and encourage one another in the process. But make no mistake about it – we get to decide who wins. My hope is that we can all be bold enough to help each other be brave in the midst of all that world might hurl at us. I feel like we owe it to our children and to the world.