Monday, April 30, 2012

Details.

The older I get, the more I find myself drawn to the little things--the beautiful details that can often mean more than the rest. Here are a few of my favorite details:


{A vintage porcelain dish that holds my favorite jewelry pieces}


{A Mary statue that sits on a windowsill above the sink}


{A formerly rusty old shelf bracket under a kitchen cabinet}

{A sweet moment laying in the afternoon sun}

{There's just something lovely about a dog's love of the sunshine}


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Enough.



Our small, slightly obsessive dog has this strange tendency to lick his food and water bowls so vigorously that he pushes them across the entire kitchen floor. The sound of those bowls sliding across planks of hardwood is beyond obnoxious. He wants every last morsel--and he won't stop until someone tells him to cut it out. That someone is me, and I usually say:

Enough.

Sometimes, once does the trick--other times I have yell it five million bajillion a few times before he finally stops.

The funny part about this dynamic we have is that I too struggle to grasp the concept of enough. Maybe it's the perfectionist in me or my obsessive tendencies (or both, who am I kidding?) but I really just don't get it. I second guess myself a lot--

Have I done enough?
Did I run far enough?
Did I say enough?
Am I thoughtful enough?
Pretty enough?
Thin enough?
Good enough?

A lot of times, I think we look to other people to validate our enough-ness. Or, we allow others to make us feel like we will never be enough in their eyes. It's a difficult concept to master. For me, I sometimes feel as though I never know if it's enough--especially when it comes to my body. If I didn't stop myself, I think I would run all day. Or, exercise for hours every day. Because I am worrying almost constantly if what I'm doing is enough.

When you are a Type A perfectionist with obsessive and addictive tendencies, nothing is ever enough. Clean enough. Perfect enough. Or, just enough in general. You are always worrying. Constantly waiting for something (or someone) to validate that you have done enough. Because perfection doesn't exist. And that drives people like me just a little bit crazy.

Like everything else, doing enough is about giving something your best effort. Then, letting it go. Surrender, it's called. It's the last piece of that puzzle---and truthfully, the scariest part. Perhaps it's because letting something go means trusting yourself. Trusting that you have done everything in your power to make something right.

I think understanding enough-ness is something that we all struggle with at some point. I sincerely doubt the rest of the word is as manic and obsessive as I am, but I think we can all understand that struggle of questioning ourselves. Especially when things don't go our way.

Even if you have to remind yourself every day for the rest of your life: you are enough.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Flawed

I have a very dear friend who is single and recently told me that people think there's something wrong with her as a woman in her late 20's (almost 30's, gasp!) who is still single. As if she's damaged in some way. Such a poor, pathetic single girl. Personally, I think it's a bunch of bull.

The thing that I pointed out about her situation is this: we are all damaged. We all have flaws, annoying habits, and obnoxious tendencies. Every single one of us. Those of us who are married, however, have simply succeeded in finding someone who is willing to put up with our flaws and love us anyway. I am very honest when it comes to my own flaws and I'll be the first to point out that I'm not the easiest person to tolerate. I guess you could say I wear my flaws on my sleeve.

I sometimes like to think that I'm the one with all the problems in my relationship. I'm needy. I'm very Type A. I'm paranoid. I'm obsessive. I ask too many questions. I take hours to get ready. I want things to be done my way. I hate asking for help. I'm impatient. I hate change. I cannot fly by the seat of my pants. I'm impulsive. I'm too loud. I talk too much. I use big hand gestures. I'm clumsy. I say too much. I can't keep secrets. I have a sharp tongue. I cuss like a sailor. I spend too much money.

But the thing about me is this: my flaws are who I am. They are very tightly woven into the fabric of my personality. When my husband and I met at a party in college, I tormented him endlessly because he couldn't chug a beer (he still can't, for the record) and he later told me he thought I was a bitch. Until I caught his eye and smiled--and everything changed.

I am still that person today. I won't let you live it down, whatever it is. I poke fun. I bust balls. I point out how ridiculous things (and people) are. Not everyone appreciates my humor, but it's who I am. I found someone who accepted every last one of my manic tendencies and character flaws for what they are. Because that, my friends, is what relationships are about: accepting all of someone, not just the parts that you like. People really don't change all that much; and marrying someone with the hopes that they will drastically change who they are is a dire mistake.

My husband has his flaws, too. However, he and I are almost complete opposites. Which is a good thing, actually. I don't think my life could handle two highly strung, extremely loud and unnecessarily paranoid personalities. He's the calming influence to my crazy tendencies. And it works for us.

The thing about relationships is this: it's almost impossible to understand them from the outside looking in. It happens all too often that people who seem happy on the outside actually aren't--and the opposite is also true. Any relationship in your life takes both work and patience in order to be successful. A marriage is no different.

As people, the thing we all have in common is this: we are all flawed in some way.
"I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am entirely made of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." -Augusten Burroughs

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

NIAW: Don't Ignore....Yourself.



April 22-28 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

When I sat down to write to this year's theme of "Don't ignore..." I struggled a bit. What should I say? What (or who) is being ignored? The more I thought, the more I realized that I've been ignoring myself.

As any woman who knows this journey will tell you, it's not easy. Infertility is like carrying a brick in your pocket. Sometimes, it feels like it's pulling you down. It's painful and feels too heavy to bear. Other times, you forget it's there and become accustomed to the weight. But, it's always there.

I go back and forth quite a bit with how I feel about infertility. More than anything, I'm constantly testing the limits of worth; it is worth it to make this person feel terrible for the awful thing they just said? Or, is it more worthwhile to remind myself I cannot persecute people who do not know the details of my situation?

I thought about this last week when I ran into a former boss. I worked for this woman for two years and she cannot remember my name so she typically calls me Hannah, my maiden name. This is extremely irritating. Then, this happened:

"Hello, Hannah! So good to see you. You know, I was just wondering the other day whether you've had a baby yet."

My first instinct was to poke her in the eye. My second instinct was to tell her for the millionth time that my name is EMILY for God's sake and she needs to find a hobby instead of thinking about my uterus in her free time.

But, I didn't. I made a joke about having two dogs instead of children and waited for her to leave. I've regretted not thinking about myself in that moment ever since. My role is to be an advocate for myself--to show and tell people how I wish to be treated. On my terms. In my way. And when I brush aside how I actually feel, I'm doing myself a grave disservice. I am ignoring my heart.

Like anything else, it's not pleasant to feel those ugly feelings. Jealously. Rage. Anger. Bitterness. We know how those things feel, but all to often we push them down because they cannot fit inside a neat, tidy (and socially acceptable) box of emotions. I still feel those things, but I refuse to let them rule my life.
Undoubtedly, it's a thin line between living a life full of rage and anger and letting people walk all over your heart. In my life, telling people my personal truth is the most important thing I will ever do. Thinking of myself---not ingoring myself--means standing up for every other woman who is afraid to tell her story. I wear my story (and my heart) on my sleeve.

We cannot have children. We will probably never have children. We have tried everything. Nothing worked. I still believe in miracles. I am not angry anymore. I know there are women out there with my same diagnosis who have had children. I know there are men out there with my husband's diagnosis who have had children. I cannot (and will not) spend every month of my life, however, believing that this is the month things change. I live my life accepting it will never happen because that's the only way I know how to be happy again. Maybe it will--maybe it won't--but my heart needs a break from living on the edge of hopefulness. I have moved on. I am happier and more peaceful in my acceptance than I ever was in my deepest disappointment and hope.



There are an overwhelming number of expectations for a woman like me: twenty-eight years old, healthy, and happily married for nearly 5 years. It stings every time someone uses the word "yet" in regards to my fertility. As if I have been idly sitting around, wasting the most fertile years of my life because I'm too preoccupied with being a horrendous human being to be bothered by having children with my husband.

The course of your life cannot be predicted. Curveballs? They will be thrown at you. The way you choose to react to and move on from the devastating events in your life is the single greatest act in shaping your life on this planet. It's about paying attention to your personal truth and following your heart instead of worrying what others might think of your choices. It's about paying attention to your heart.

I didn't choose infertility. Neither did my husband. But, it's our reality. And I will use every breath in my body to tell people what this life is like, never ignoring how I really feel.

We chose to move on.
Then, we chose adoption.
Then, we chose to wait until we were ready.

It doesn't always make sense to the rest of the world, but that's not the point. We are survivors. And if you want to know what that means, read this post.

For more information about infertility: http://www.resolve.org/infertility101

About NIAW: http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html

Monday, April 16, 2012

Running Essentials


In honor of today's prestigious Boston Marathon, it's fitting that I talk about running. For most distance runners, Boston is it: the bucket list item that you stare at and think, someday I'll do that. It has a spot on my bucket list. But if you want to run Boston, you have to qualify. Which means I need to actually run at least one marathon, perhaps more, in order to get a decent time. {One bucket list item at a time, self.}

Like everyone else, I'm still a work in progress when it comes to running, but I have felt my body getting stronger week after week. On Saturday morning, I ran 13.5 miles in just over 2 hours in the sometimes-pouring rain. Yesterday, I wasn't sore. I was so un-sore, in fact, that I spent the day doing tough manual labor in the yard and I'm not sore from that today, either. It takes time for both your brain and body to build up to higher mileage runs, but it's possible.

The more I run, however, the more I realize the importance of things that help me run efficiently--and keep me comfortable in the process. Here are a few things I simply cannot live without:

A running belt
Nathan Swift Waist Pack
I used to think people that wore these were a bit...nerdy. But when you're out running some serious miles, you need something to hold your water/sports drink and gels/energy chews. I have this one from Nathan. It took some time to get used to wearing it, but I like it. The pouch holds my gels or bloks perfectly and the water flask lasts me the whole run. There are options for belts with more water flasks if you require more than one.

Dri-Fit Clothing

The right (or wrong) clothing can make all the difference in the world. Most of it is incredibly expensive, but it's a worthwhile investment. Are you familiar with chafing? Yeah, it's equal parts terrible and disgusting. For that reason, I like to wear clothing that fits close to my body and wicks away the sweat. Some of my favorite brands:

C9 (Target): the prices are great and the gear is well-made for the reasonable price. I like their long sleeve dri-fit tops and sports bras. The stores tend to have better prices & I have gotten some amazing deals on the clearance rack.
Under Armour: Hands down, they make THE best compression running tights for cold weather. The price tag is mind-and-wallet-blowing but they are a worthy investment for those early morning runs in the winter. I have one pair that has held up well over the season and kept me toasty in 9 degree weather.
Lululemon: They make some of the most beautiful and most expensive women's gear on the market. I only have a few pieces (two dri-fit tanks & a pair of running shorts) but I can say that it is some of the most well-made stuff out there. If you take care of it, it will last forever. I purchased my pieces from eBay or through sample sales online.
Brooks: I just love their Nightlife line of very bright (and very reflective) clothing for morning runs. I have a half-zip Nightlife Infiniti long sleeve top in an obnoxious neon green color that I wear often. It's also well made and in my eyes, a worthy investment in making sure I don't get mauled by a car before sunrise. I bought it for a deep discount on 6pm, which is a company owned by Zappo's. They typically carry last season's designs in clothing and shoes at really good prices.

A good pair of shoes

Just like clothing, there is a big difference between a good and bad pair of running shoes. The right pair can improve your gait and help prevent injury. The wrong pair pretty much does the complete opposite. I recommend visiting a store that will analyze your gait and recommend a shoe or brand based upon your pronation. Most stores don't charge for this service and it's a good way to find a shoe that fits your foot properly rather than buying a shoe based upon how it looks (which is what I used to do). I have always had great luck with Asics and investing in a new pair of shoes every 500 miles. 

The proper fuel

It becomes quite clear that running without enough fuel (read: food) is a recipe for disaster. It takes time to find the right balance and involves quite a bit of trial and error. But when you find something that works: stick with it. If you are training for a race, the rule of thumb is tried and true, nothing new. This means you shouldn't try to eat something new the morning of a race--because it's hard to know how your body will react. Stick to your routine for race day, but don't be afraid to test things out on your regular runs leading up to race day.

I'm still getting there when it comes to the proper food formula. I do my long runs on Saturday mornings and I typically don't eat breakfast beforehand, mostly because my stomach can't handle it. I have no idea why, but it's bad news when I eat beforehand. So, I typically wake up 30 minutes beforehand, take the dogs out and then drive 15 minutes to meet up with my running group. I do, however, eat energy chews or blocks during my run to keep me going. My favorites are the PowerBar Energy Blasts and Clif Shot Bloks. I have yet to find a gel product that I like after some trial and mostly error. I just bought a case of the Clif Shot Energy Gel after hearing good things about the flavor. 

If I have the opportunity to eat an hour or two beforehand, I typically go with a Think Thin bar (chunky peanut butter is my favorite) and a banana before a race. 

It's just that easy: gear, hydration and fuel. Well, that and some mental toughness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RuN.


When you run a long distance (or run a short distance in an oustanding time) you are given a medal for your efforts. I have always thought it was a nice reward for what can sometimes be a painful experience. Running takes time. It takes dedication. Most of the time, it also takes toenails and injuries, too.

I have five medals in my posession: 4 from half marathons and one from a 5K. I have always struggled to find a proper place for my medals, so I just stuffed them in a drawer in my office. At the time, that seemed "proper" to me.

In a streak of what I can only call momentary insanity, I had a crafty idea. It doesn't happen ever often, so I quickly informed my husband. Because, let's be honest, I really can't actually make things. I can try, of course, but it always ends badly with an injury and lots of cussing. So, he makes them for me and I take the credit. Stop judging me. That's just how this relationship works, OK?

I wanted a plaque with hooks for my medals to display in my office. One part conversation piece, one part wall decor.

So, my dearly beloved found an old scrap of wood and some hooks and my idea took shape. With fancy edges and everything! (The fancy edges were not my idea, just so you know.)



After it was suitable for painting, I covered it in my favorite black spraypaint and stenciled letters on the front.



It's not perfect (what is?) but it's a great way to show off my hard work. Besides, my poor medals just looked so pathetic stuffed in a drawer with random junk. Which is how my brain feels most days.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bathroom Humor



My co-workers regularly identify me by name in the bathroom--simply by looking at my shoes in the bathroom stall.

I guess it's safe to say no one else in this office owns (or wears) four-inch blue suede pumps.

But I was always told it's not polite to jump to conclusions. So, I'll just assume that I'm the only one in the office with skinny chicken legs and oddly placed freckles.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stop at Nothing


When it was released, the KONY 2012 video was viewed by many millions of people. It spread, as they say, like wildfire. The message was strong, resounding, and touching.

It wasn't without its critics,  however. Like anything else, there will always be people asking questions and delving deeper into something that becomes that popular that quickly.

Then, the co-founder of Invisible Children was detained by police in San Diego for, uh, well, being drunk and naked in public. And just a bit lewd.

This clearly did not help matters.

I believe this phenomenon stands to remind us of something important--something bigger than KONY or Invisible Children. The one thing that grabbed me by my heart from the beginning was this:

STOP AT NOTHING.

It's a beautiful idea, if nothing else. When you observe something in this world that you feel isn't right or you feel compelled to do or be something--you should stop at nothing to chase that feeling. Stop at nothing to follow your dreams or your heart. To be the best possible version of yourself.

Regardless of what you think about the organization, its message, its founders or Joseph Kony, I think you would agree that it's difficult not to at least admire their efforts. They saw something that wasn't right and worked to spread a message---stopping at nothing--and it worked. Now you know who Joseph Kony is.

Perhaps I too jumped on the bandwagon too quickly by purchasing my KONY 2012 bracelet. It arrived in the mail today and there's just something exciting about seeing those words on my wrist.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not Ready

We got "the call" from the adoption agency a few weeks ago. The one we've been waiting for. We were offered the opportunity to start the adoption process by attending a 6-week Homestudy class beginning in April. And?

We passed.

I know what you're (probably) thinking. Why would someone who has lamented over waiting endlessly for adoption for 19+ months actually choose to wait even longer? It's difficult for me to put how I feel into words, other than to say this:

We just aren't ready.

It seems crazy, really. But I've always believed in following my heart--and for some time now, my heart has been telling me that I am not ready for this yet.

In fact, I brought this up to my husband several months ago. On some random evening, as he was getting ready to leave the house for a meeting. It seemed like the right time to drop a gigantic bomb on someone. So, I did it. He was shocked. But he's the kind of person that needs some time to digest things---so I gave it to him.

A few days later, he told me that he felt the same way. And it felt like I could finally breathe again. Like maybe I wasn't the awful person I thought I was for feeling this way. That's the funny thing: I feel really guilty about this. I can't put my finger precisely on why I feel that way, however.

Maybe it's because it feels like there are so many people rooting for us. Or, that I have successfully spilled every ounce of my guts on this blog for so long that people feel attached to our story. Whatever the reason may be, the bottom line is this: I hate feeling like I have disappointed someone.

Like every other part of my life, I have to follow my heart here. Even if it's not the popular choice. Even when it means doing something a bit out of the ordinary. Life is way, way too short to do anything else.

This doesn't mean we will never be ready. Or, that we have closed the door on pursuing adoption or having children. In fact, we're still on the waiting list at the adoption agency--I'm told we are at the top of that list, actually. Maybe the day will come when we are ready. I don't know when, but our hearts (and minds) are completely open.

Here's the thing about our situation: it's nearly impossible to work on moving on while also living in a place where you need to remain hopeful for the very thing you are trying to get over. I have realized that I cannot do both. So, I chose to (try to) move on.

The space and time that have passed after being told we couldn't have children have been my life's greatest healer. Back then, my husband told me time would heal those wounds. I thought he was crazy--and completely wrong. Turns out, he was right.

I have never been happier or more satisfied with my life than I am today. I sincerely believe that I have my journey to thank for that. I guess the journey isn't over quite yet. Right or wrong, we're choosing to wait a bit longer.

Every time I think about that guilt I feel for making this choice, I remind myself: it is more important to follow my heart than it is to worry about my choices disappointing someone else. I would be doing myself an injustice by denying how I really feel. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the right choice.

More than anything, it's just really complicated. My emotions, my heart, my perspective on the world---it's very, very complicated. It's also a very delicate balance.

It's hard, sometimes, to put into words how I feel. It comes out wrong most of the time in my moments of anger or frustration. There are things I will never accept--or ever understand--about my life. It is difficult, at times, to process the idea that things were meant to happen this way. We never figure terrible things into our destiny--death, loss, the absence of something beautiful--how is it those things are meant to be? Why are good people denied good things?

In that way, I think my heart will always be wounded. There will always be a part of me that simply doesn't understand why things are this way.

But life isn't about making sense of why things happen. It's about accepting that we cannot change the past. It happened, it's over---and we waste our life by wishing we could change it. Maybe it wasn't OK. Perhaps it wasn't fair. Or, it makes absolutely no sense. It matters not; it matters that you take the hand you were dealt and continue to play. And dance. And do whatever else it is that makes you happy. Even if it means going against what everyone else expects you to do.

That's where I am today: staring at my cards, dancing to the music and making the most of it. It's all I can do, sometimes, but that's just the way things go. We all have our scars, remember?

They will fade, those scars, but they aren't going anywhere.
"It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy." - Lucille Ball

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