Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Dream

Since I was a child, I have had the same dream over and over again. This has gone on for years, with no signs of stopping. This has always fascinated me: what is it about me or my life that causes this dream play on repeat in my brain for all these years?

The dream is always the same: I'm late and completely unprepared for something very important. As much as a I try and as quickly as I scramble to get my act together, I'm unable to do so. Sometimes, it's an important trip and I am unable to properly pack my bags and make it to the airport on time. Other times, I'm unable to get my act together in order to save someone I love from certain death or disaster. Most of the time, I am back in school as a student and I'm late for class. I don't have my books. I can't find my school supplies. I forgot to put on shoes. I can't find my classroom.

I always feel the same way: rushed, unprepared, and anxious. I typically wake up with my heart racing and drenched in sweat (disgusting, I know) and sometimes I wake up my husband because I fail to realize I was dreaming. The dream is always so realistic and it leaves me in a state of extreme panic. The dream haunts me while I'm sleeping and it sometimes haunts me while I'm awake, too.

Is there something unresolved in my life that causes me to be haunted by my own recurring dream? Why does it play on repeat over and over again?

I don't know the answers, honestly. I'm a (fairly) organized person and pride myself on being timely and prepared for just about everything. But really? You can't be prepared for everything---because most of the things that are thrown your way in life cannot be prepared for, unfortunately. I like to think my dream is a standing reminder that I'm not in control of this life and the more I prepare the less prepared I become.

How can you prepare for a tragedy? There's no way to anticipate something awful or to ever feel like you're ready for something you don't want. You can't live your life waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to be smacked in the face on some idle Tuesday with life-altering-game-changing-news. It's just not realistic.

So, you just live your life. You do the best you can with the hand you're dealt and hope and pray for the things you want. That's what I do. That's what I believe. That's how I live.

But the dream still haunts me, somewhere deep down in my brain in a place I can't touch. Maybe my act isn't as together as I'd like. Perhaps there's something unresolved that I don't know about yet. I have to believe there's a reason I'm being haunted by my own thoughts while I'm sleeping.

I'm just glad I remembered to wear shoes to work today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blind Item (re: dog butts)

Our dog Buster has some bizarre tendencies. Like stalking, trapping and then eating flies that get into the house, for example. Yesterday I caught him leaping 4 feet straight into the air over and over again in an attempt to catch a fly sitting at the top of a tall window. I have to admire his efforts, as fleeting and unintelligent as they may be.

In my mind, however, his strong urge to spend the majority of his day underneath our bed is among the most perplexing of his interests. I fail to understand the appeal, I suppose. Most of the time, the scene looks something like this:

It's funny that he's under the bed, sure, but it's even more funny that he doesn't see the point in making sure his butt is under the bed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Remember when I said my life was really crazy? It still is.

For me, it's very easy to become overwhelmed with life in general. Especially when both work and my personal life become quite busy.

Here's what I've been up to lately:

Turning dusty barn treasures into furniture

Like the old wooden porch posts we turned into a console table (more on that project tomorrow):

And the old wood telephone we turned into a cabinet:

Training for a marathon

My husband had clearly grown tired of me telling him how terrible it was to train without the aid of a gps watch and got me one for my birthday. He's one of those people that researches things to death before making a purchase, which is typically annoying to me, but I was thrilled when he gave me the Nike+ SportWatch GPS. I have only used it a few times, but I'm head over heels in love. Best of all, the watch connects directly to any USB port that allows you to upload all your data to the Nike+ website, tracking mileage, pace, time, and calories burned. Plus, I giggle every time it congratulates me on my performance. Earlier this week it said, "You crushed it!"

Because really, I did crush it.

Eating obscene amounts of candy corn

Every fall, I eat as much Brach's candy corn as my body can tolerate over the course of three months or so. Then, I abstain until August of the the following year. It's a sad state of affairs, but the way I see it is this: I can only access candy corn (conveniently) for a few months of every year. And really? It's just about the only unhealthy vice that exists in my life.

I say these things to make myself feel less pathetic for eating four entire bags of candy corn in the last week. Also, it's Brach's and Brach's only; everything else has the consistency of chalk. It's made with Real Honey! That makes me think I'm eating something other than sugar and food coloring!

Amassing a high heeled shoe tape dispenser collection

You know how some people collect things? I've never been one of those people. However, the people in my life tend to think I collect two things: bobbleheads of Cincinnati Reds players and high heeled shoe tape dispensers.

The official count is as follows:

High heeled shoe tape dispensers: 2
Bobbleheads: 6

Growing out my bangs

Have you ever tried growing out your bangs? It's pretty much the most difficult thing you will ever, in your life, attempt to successfully do. It's practically impossible. Many, many people fall short and lay wounded on the battlefield of bangs trying to complete this complex mission.

Strangely, I have managed to hold strong. I think my hairdresser doesn't believe I'm strong enough, because every time I go in for a haircut she asks if she can trim my bangs. I always say no and I'm pretty sure she nods approvingly. They aren't completely grown out just yet, but I'm finally in the home stretch.

Enjoying 5,000 tomatoes

Every spring, we plant a few tomato plants. Then, every late summer and fall we eat tomatoes until our skin turns red. {Slight exaggeration} We always remark that we should plant fewer tomatoes next year and then when next year rolls around we forget how much one tomato plant produces. It's still exciting to eat something you grew in your backyard, though.

Trying to master the art of napping

I have never really had much of a need in my life for taking naps. Believe me, I have tried to nap--I just couldn't do it. That is, until I started training for a marathon. I run twice a week before work/sunrise and with 16+ mile long runs on the weekends, I'm exhausted. All the time. So, I started napping. And? I don't know why I didn't hop on this bandwagon earlier.

The problem, however, is that I'm an inexperienced napper. I have no idea what I'm doing. I nap in the late evenings for an hour and wake up feeling worse that before. Or, I nap for hours and again feel terrible. What's the ideal nap length? What time of day should I nap? What is the line between a nap and just going to bed early?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The 29th Year

Today is my 29th birthday. Strangely, getting older isn't really something that I dread. I would love to avoid wrinkles if at all possible, but I get the impression that's just part of the package.

I can't say for certain that I get wiser as I get older, but it does feel like I gain a greater sense of clarity with every passing year. I don't know it all, but I do know a few things for sure:

It's better to have friends in quality rather than quantity: I don't have a lot of friends, but I have a few very close people in my life who really get me--and vice versa. I like my relationships un-fussy, un-complicated and just mutually understood and respected. I don't have the time or patience for anything (or anyone) else. To me, that's what true friendship looks like.

Some people will not like me and that's OK: I'm truly content in my own skin; and anyone who doesn't like me can't change that. I get that I cannot please everyone and not everyone will find me fashionable, charming, and hilarious. And really? That's OK by me.

Everyone needs something that makes them feel alive: It doesn't matter what it is, but I believe we all need something that makes our lives richer and more meaningful in a profound way. Maybe it's your job or even a hobby--whatever it is, you need to make time in your life to do something you truly love. For me, that something is running. I love it so much that it's the only thing I'm willing to get out of bed for at 4:45 a.m. morning after morning.

You can't steal my joy: Unfortunately, the world is full of negative people who want nothing more than to pull you in to their miserable place. I find myself noticing this about people more and more--and working to protect myself from them. When someone is negative or nasty to me, I tell myself you cannot steal my joy. Because it's mine, and you can't have it.

If something makes you miserable, do something about it: So often we find ourselves stuck in a rut comprised solely of our own own misery. Maybe you hate your job. Perhaps you despise something about your life or situation so much that it affects everything else in your life. Do something about it. Right now. Get a new job. Go back to school. Actively work to erase your debt. Whatever it is, be willing do something bold and scary to find your happy place again.

You won't be happy until you find a way to accept what is: It has taken me years to finally be in a place where I'm at peace with a life that does not include biological children. I was miserable and unhappy with our situation because my primary intent was to find someone to hate or blame for our inability to reproduce. Infertility involves a lack of choice, significant out of pocket expenses, and a long list of questions that cannot be answered by any human being on planet Earth, no matter how many advanced degrees they hold.

It feels unfair to be put through what can only be described as a truly miserable, devastating situation. But for me, peace and acceptance came in accepting what is---rather than wishing and hoping for what might have been. There are plenty of things I will never accept or understand about infertility, but at the end of the day I am completely at peace with my life. Resisting the reality of your life will leave you feeling empty inside each and every time. Perhaps your reality (your 'what is') isn't what you thought it would be, but it is what it is. And you have to work to understand that if you want to find your own sense of peace.

Consult your brain, but always follow your heart: The best way I know to avoid making the wrong choice is to let your heart be your guide. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true: think it through, analyze it, and consult all the people you want, but let your heart have the last call. It will never steer you in the wrong direction.

Calories don't count on your birthday: At least that's what I've been telling myself all day. The scientific proof to back this up is still emerging, however.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Front Porch

In my world, life begins to shift gears in early August. And by shift I mean the world starts to spin on an entirely different axis and it feels like this has caused my brain to fall out of my skull. (People tell me I'm dramatic, I have no idea why.)

But, that is how it feels. Both my personal and professional life ramp up to high rates of speed and despite the fact that this happens every single year without fail, I find myself scrambling to pick up the pieces. It's like being caught in a tornado, wishing I had the foresight to batten down the hatches as my house is pulled apart, board by board. I don't know what it is about this time of year, but it just has a way of putting all of my personal ugliness on display.

I'm sure you know what I mean by ugliness: those icky parts of myself that I manage to smooth over most of the year that I simply cannot hide when life gets crazy again. I'm reminded that I have poor coping skills as my anxiety bubbles to the surface of my pores and causes me to let those little cracks show. I like to think I'm good at hiding things, but the fact that I try to hide them in the first place reminds me that I'm not. It's a terrible idea, hiding your shortcomings, because they emerge in funny ways without asking for your permission first.

I tend to get moody and contemplative, in a way that draws my heart and body to the front porch. It's my happy place; the one actual place where I can sit and rock back and forth until my feet feel like they are planted on the Earth once again. I have other places, sure, but I can't go there to visit. Like, the place I live in when I'm running. It's not really a place, but it always allows me to clear my head. And that always makes me happy.

But the porch? The porch makes me feel like I can get away, even if it's just for a brief moment in time. It's not about talking or thinking, either. It's just about being. And it makes for a peaceful reprieve to an otherwise peace-less existence this time of year.

That's the funny thing about a routine: it allows you to get comfortable with things exactly as they are. Even when you know things are about to change, as they always do, it still manages to catch you by surprise. I don't deal well with changes, even the ones I can see coming from a few miles away. I find myself going on more runs and spending more time on the porch, stretching and reaching for that place where I feel sane.

It's all temporary, I know. That doesn't make it any easier, it just makes me realize it won't last forever. Or, that I always have a peaceful place to exist when life leaves me feeling dizzy and disoriented.

It's all we can hope for, I think: a place that allows us to feel peace, even if it's only for a few moments in time.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The commitment

I have always been perplexed by people who say they aren't good at commitment. What does that mean, exactly? Is it really possible to go through life without truly committing to anything?

It's possible, I suppose, to avoid full commitment but I don't think it's realistic to do so forever. When I think about commitment, my thoughts always drift back to running. In preparation for an upcoming marathon, I have been running 26+ miles a week; and it's only going up from here. As you can imagine, this commitment has begun to dominate my life.

Running can be exhausting, from a physical standpoint. More than anything, it takes a exorbitant amount of my time. My life, even. I have to carve out hours of my day, time and time again, to run. It takes my time, it involves preparation and it makes me want to take a nap nearly every moment of every day. It draws me to bed early every night and up out of bed at ungodly hours in the morning.

I invest my hard earned dollars on expensive clothing, overpriced performance gear, and I find myself on a never ending quest for the perfect combination of foul tasting energy supplements, food, and electrolyte-laced liquids to fend off pending exhaustion, weight loss, and dehydration. I push my body as far as it will go, and when it pushes back I just push harder. I use stretches and massages and gadgets to fool my body into obeying me for just one more mile or just one more run.

On my 'off days' I push harder still, with yoga and weight training to avoid boredom and injury. I watch as my toenails turn black and my legs become more muscular with every long, punishing run. I laugh as jaws drop and eyes roll at the mere mention of a 14 miler. I watch the Olympic Games from the floor of my family room with two dogs in my face, arms propping up my body with my leg perched atop a bright orange foam roller to fend off a pesky IT band injury.

So, why do all of this? Well, because running is a lot of things but after all the noise is stripped away, it's really just about commitment. I do all of these things because I made a commitment--monetarily and mentally--to run a marathon. Despite all the negatives, it is a worthwhile investment of every last thing it requires of me.

I am deeply committed to a lot of places and people in my life, but running ranks up there with the most meaningful of the bunch. I wholeheartedly love running and it's partly because it's not for everyone. Running requires a lot of you, clearly, but more than anything it involves your willingness to sacrifice and commit yourself without reservation. And really? That's what life is about, too. Let's be honest: marriage is pretty much the same way. Running is just part of the metaphor.


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