Monday, June 23, 2014

The end of June

Late June is a hard time of year for me.  It wasn't always, certainly not at all until 2012. 

Late June should be the most fantastic and anticipated time of the year.....the afternoons stretch out like a cat just waking from a nap.  Evening hangs around like the friend who just can't seem to say goodnight. 

The warmth in the sun holds the promise of lazy days by the pool, sleeping in, drinking coffee in your PJs and not having to be anywhere for anything. 

And yet....

I didn't recognize it at first, certainly not last year.  But I'm a little edgier, a little more touchy, slightly withdrawn and a tad on the melancholy side right about now.  It hit me, today, on the drive down to the O.C. (that's Oregon City for us Portlanders) to pick up my daughter from basketball camp.

And when it hit, it socked me hard, in the gut, like my brother used to do when I wasn't looking.  The tears came, and they wouldn't stop.  It all came back again. 

June 24, 2012 (that's two years ago tomorrow): I found the lump in my right breast that turned out to be the one thing I never thought I'd have: cancer.  Mind you, I don't keep that day in my brain.  I remember July 12, that's the anniversary of my mastectomy.

No, I don't consciously hold on to that June 24 date, but apparently deep inside my heart I've been keeping track.  I lost my shit today when I realized how close I am to that night, two years ago, when I was laying in bed talking to my husband and scratched under my breast and found it. 

Yes, it's true, I have a sweet new rack and the wavy hair I always wanted (thank you menopause), but the price I paid to get here was steep.  I am thriving, make no mistake.  I'm just an emotional wreck sometimes, and I probably always will be.

Today I was out on a training run, it's taper week for me, in the heat and humidity and I had an epiphany of sorts.  I tend to do my best thinking with a little Jason Aldean blaring in my ears, crunching gravel under my feet and the sun, high in the sky as I fly along the path between the guardians, the trees that line the Hollister Trail across from Nike WHQ.

I made the decision, months ago, that after Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon this coming Sunday, that I would take some time off from training.  A long time.  Will I still run?  Absolutely.  Will I race?  Definitely.  Will I be a slave to a training plan and miss out on any more precious moments with my family?  No.  Not for a long, long while.

Today I realized that two years ago I was training for my first sprint triathlon when I found the lump.  I was eating not enough and training far too much, and I lost just enough weight that the tumor was actually visible in the mirror.  I just never noticed.

So to me, it's so fitting, and ironic, that two years to the day that I made the decision to pull out the big guns and fight fire with an atomb bomb by undergoing a painful mastectomy and breast reconstruction (really, I didn't do it for the new boobs, I swear) I'll be completing an event that, while tough, can never hold a candle to what I endured two years ago. 

And it's the event that was the catalyst for me finding the cancer in the first place.

So here I am, coming full circle.  I'll be taking on yet another big challenge, one that I'm probably not prepared for (again!), but I know that my family will be there with me, cheering me on, just like the last time. 

I can't tell you what that means to me.

June is always going to be hard.  I'll probably always withdraw, cry a little bit, and be on edge for a few weeks.  But I always come back around.  I always survive.  Just like I did two years ago.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maude VS The Conscious Uncoupling

I've been in an unhealthy relationship for the past two years.  At first when we got together things were great, at least they seemed that way.  Just like any relationship, at first it was all new and exciting, and almost sinful when we'd be together.  I really knew how to push his buttons, if you know what I mean.

But before long things just started to feel a little dirty, I mean I was taking him into the bathroom for crying out loud.  And what started out as just a fun little escape turned into an addiction almost for me.  Turns out I was in a bit of a co-dependent situation, me needing him, him using me to "recharge his batteries" so to speak.

It took me a really long time to figure it out. But when I finally did it hit me over the head like an old Motorola cell phone.  So I did what any semi-irrational female in a co-dependent relationship would do:  I decided it was time to break up.

Yes, that's right.  I have consciously uncoupled myself from my iPhone.  And, like any co-dependent relationship it's been hard.  My phone and I share a lot together: my calendar, my training tracking app, email, and the weather to name a few things.  Not to mention he makes sweet music in my ears!

I had to do the whole "it's not you it's me" speech, which is hard because the whole time you know he's thinking "bullshit, you don't love me anymore and you just can't say it" but this time, THIS TIME, it really is ME that needs a break.

Right now we're in the whole "friends with benefits" stage, so I don't take him everywhere with me, I don't use him to make phone calls or anything, but if I need him he's there, just like a good, old reliable booty call.

Imagine my surprise at the ATT store when I learned that my iPhone would become the equivalent of an iTouch, AND I'm saving $20 a month in data billing?!  Who knew!?  Best conscious uncoupling EVER!!!

So far this whole new stage in our relationship is working out just fine. I still rely on him for the things I really need (that calendar is a lifesaver) and I'm not using him for my own entertainment anymore.

I do think he's having a hard time with it, as I was leaving ATT the clerk holding the door said "See you in two weeks!", but I think HE put her up to it.  No, now that we're not together all the time, I feel a freedom I haven't felt in two years!  And now I'm free to focus on the other loves in my life: my husband and two children.

I know my iPhone is sad, lonely, and feeling left out, but I know once my kids figure out they can play games on him at home, he'll find his true purpose: buying me ten minutes to clean the toilets uninterrupted.  It's the little things in life, you know?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Detox Over

My Facebook Detox is over.  It’s been over for several days, I just haven’t jumped back on until I felt I was ready.  I needed to do a few things first, one of which is to get rid of my “smart” phone. 

I’ll be going old school with talk & text only.  Not having my calendar is probably going to cause some trouble, but extricating myself from unnecessary apps and distractions is far more important than the convenience of my calendar.

I think it’s been almost two years since I got a smart phone, so it’s fitting that I’m breaking up with it right about now.  Save for my husband, none of my relationships ever lasted that long anyways and always for good reason.  This time, it’s because life was passing me by and I didn’t even realize it.

While on my Facebook break I found myself engaging in conversation with my children WAY more and hadn’t even realized how much I was missing out with them.  Really, it was startling and also very sad.

While on my Facebook break I also discovered that I didn’t really miss it (I almost hate to even admit this but it’s very true).  I DID miss connecting with people and keeping up with everyone, but I didn’t miss that I felt an OBLIGATION to be engaged.

I just noticed a lot of things I didn’t notice before.  I noticed I had a LOT more time, which I thought I would spend writing ironically enough, but instead I spent it doing things I wanted/needed to do: FOCUS ON MY FAMILY.  That’s just basically about all I can say.  FOCUS.  On. What. Matters.

And I do need to be clear with everyone because it seems to me that some people think I’m saying Facebook is bad/evil and I NEVER said that!  I only said that Facebook was bad for ME and ME ONLY.  Let me say that ONE MORE TIME to be clear: FACEBOOK was BAD for ME.  It’s up to YOU to decide if it’s bad for you, too.  

I am hopeful that my (5 weeks? I think!) break was enough time to detox, refocus and re-engage.  But, I told myself I would go back to Facebook ONLY when I set up rules for myself, so here they are: 

1.   I will only check Facebook IF I have the time and NOT when the children are around.  They deserve my attention, as does my husband.  Although when he’s watching episodes of Breaking Bad I probably will be cruising the ‘Book.  Something about that show just turns my stomach.
2.       I will not check on days where I think I might have feelings of inadequacy because of other’s posts.  Granted, that’s probably almost every day, but case in point: last year on Mother’s Day of all days I thought about all my shortcomings as a mother because of all the wonderful insta-gram-e posts from everyone else and felt like I didn’t measure up.  If I need to shut down for 24 hours, so be it.
3.       I will not feel guilt if I don’t have time to check Facebook and comment/like other’s posts.  Honestly, for me this went from being a fun way to check in and see what everyone was up to, to feeling like it was one more thing I had to do and was almost frantic because I couldn’t see/comment/like everyone’s updates and I didn’t want them to think I was mad at them and I wanted them to like my updates and if they didn’t like them was it because I didn’t like their updates and were they mad at me and OMG.
4.       I will not feel jealous.  I will remind myself that we all (me included) post the best of the best on Facebook.  We post our best photos, status updates and life’s experiences.  And that’s OK.  Life isn’t always rosy perfect and that’s OK too.  It should be acceptable for all of us to show our best to the world and we shouldn’t feel bad about it.  And we should feel like it’s OK to celebrate things with others, after all Facebook is how we stay connected with friends & family near and far.  Let’s face it, even living in the same town with our friends doesn’t mean we get to see them in person often enough.  We’re all moving at the speed of light and sometimes the only way we can connect is in our new digital world.

That’s pretty much it, for me anyways.  If I break any of these rules I’ll put myself in a time out again.  I don’t know if I’ll do a 30 day detox again, but who knows.  All I know is that this break was VERY good for me and I’m looking forward to connecting with everyone again.  Peace out.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Do runners poop in the woods? Why yes, they do!

On a recent long run (names changed to protect those who have not consented to me sharing their names), the following happened:

Three of us (two of my best running friends and I) set out on a ten miler along the waterfront, starting and ending at Oaks Park.  The girls were nervous (friend 1 because she was having some odd foot pain and friend 2 because she didn't think she could run ten miles!) and so we altered our route to pass by the rest rooms FIRST during our run (nervous poopers and all...).

We arrived at the first set of crappers just as we finished running along the Harborside/SW area.  The first bathroom was locked, the second one was occupied (as the homeless man who tried to go in pointed out in a stream of profanity.)  We're pretty sure the gal that came out was shooting up in there, and the other restroom was still, as yet, occupied.  We moved along to the next set.  Friend 1 had no trouble but there was no TP and friend 2 was pretty sure she would need some.

We crossed the steel bridge and I introduced her to the concept of ass kegels, a great way to keep the poop in there and an extra workout for your glutes.  Near OMSI we found a couple of porta-potties, this time with ass wipe, but friend 2 emerged discouraged, I'm pretty sure the outhouse was so gross even her poop refused to come out.  "Stage fright" she said as we set about the last 3.5 miles.

Round about mile 9 (one left to go) friend 2 stopped cold in her tracks (by this time I was having sympathy crowning) and it was time..... 

So we jogged along the Springwater trail until we could find an embankment where she could go down and hide behind a tree.  "You want me to poop out THERE?"  she asked incredulously.  "YES!" friend 1 and I replied. 

We explained she could use the dead leaves to clean up shop and by this time there was seconds to spare.  As she scrambled down the bank a husband/wife ran by with a stroller.  We asked if they had any tissue and they said no.  They were pushing a stroller, you cannot tell me they didn't have at least a couple baby wipes, but whatever.

There was a lull in the action on the trail so our buddy was able to, er, successfully make her deposit without disruption.  And THEN she used the leaves.  We were so proud!  I felt pretty confident that she had, indeed, really truly earned BAMR status. 

And, we all learned a valuable and important lesson: bring kleenex next time.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Alas, even I am growing weary of my recent and prolific anti-Facebook posting, so I'm fairly certain this will be the last on the subject, though I won't say never because saying never has bitten me in the ass too many times. 

My mantra of late is usually "probably never" which gives me the right so say "I told you so" and gives me an out in case I change my mind: "I said PROBABLY never.....".

To close out my thirty day detox posts, I’m thinking I am going to start a new social networking site.  A place where real people post real things.  I’ll have one person (if I am lucky) sign up, I suspect.  

Given the rousing success (or lack thereof) of my thirty day challenge, I had two takers initially, one of them lasted 24 hours before she was back on the ‘Book, I’m being cautiously optimistic that I’ll even have one person join me.

One would argue, ostensibly correctly so, that A) no one wants to read your depressed bullshit and B) that’s what therapy is for.  

In order to really SELL this concept I thought perhaps I would give examples of what you WOULD Facebook, but what you SHOULD Realbook:

What I would say:   “Having a blast at the Oregon Coast with my family!”
What I should say:  “Sometimes I wonder why I brought my children on this beach vacation.”

What I would say:  “Super excited about how this meal turned out (with a picture, instagrammed of course)
What I should say:  “Spent hours on this meal, damn kids turned up their noses, husband dry heaved.”

What I would say:  “Girls night out!  What a blast!”
What I should say: “I’m too old to be out this late dancing and drinking.  And I look like a f*#king cougar. And not even a hot one at that.”

What I would say:  “Kids and I had a blast at the Japanese Gardens today!”
What I should say: “Kids complained the whole time about how miserable they are at the Japanese Gardens, thankfully I instagrammed a few pictures of them to make it look like they had fun.”

What I would say:  “I love my job, working with students is the best job in the world.”
What I should say:  “What the F did I get back into public education?”  OR  “I’d really rather be an alcoholic stay at home mom and volunteer at my kids school during rare moments of sobriety than deal with disrespectful youth I’m not even related to.”

What I would say:  “Had a great 10 mile run with my friends!”
What I should say: “Why did I run ten miles?  WTF is wrong with me?  Sadly, my incontinence got the best of me, ten miles is a bit too long without a porta potty stop apparently. Why do I insist on torturing myself?”

What I would say: "What a wonderful Saturday with my family!" complete with instagram photo of us doing something adorable and family-oriented
What I should say:  "Did four loads of laundry, cleaned three toilets, scrubbed the toothpaste scum out of the kids' sink and basically ignored them until I realized we should do something fun.  Snapped this picture so my mother would think I wasn't a delinquent parent since she stalks my Facebook page."

I am curious, in the interest of keeping the conversation going, what are some of YOUR posts that you WOULD say, but SHOULD say?  

If you are willing to jump through a couple of extra hoops (thank you Australian psychopath for making me force people to submit their comments for approval) post your Realbook posts in the comments and I will publish them as soon as I can find the time between scouring my kitchen sink and yelling at my children.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Everything is Awesome

Everything IS awesome.  On Facebook.  I’ll admit, while I haven’t MISSED being on Facebook I have certainly fought off the urge (more than once) to jump on and see what I am missing.  

But then I think it would be like a drug, I’d get a taste and want more.  Then I would jump in both feet and I’d be back where I started or worse.

Honestly, true confession here.  Last night I saw a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years. It was so wonderful to see her and to find a kindred spirit, a like-minded (and therefore funny, intelligent and generous of course) person.  In a random sort of paranoia, I thought “I wonder what she’ll say about our meeting on Facebook.” Because I can’t see I don’t know. 
And, creepily, I was far less concerned about what SHE would say, as I was the dozen or so other sorority sisters who would likely comment, and based on the level of negative Karma I have in my life.  No doubt it stems from what an awful person I was in college.  I can’t even begin to guess what they might say.   

Then again, they probably wouldn’t say anything at all.

I sort of liken the Facebook detox experience to smoking.  Granted, I’m not a smoker, nor have I ever been, unless you count that one time after college at the Blues Bouquet in Boise, Idaho (MOM ALERT - SKIP THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS), a misadventure of epic proportions that resulted in a police officer waking me up as I “slept” in a heap of bar trolling clothing outside on a street bench, oblivious to the cold and the very real possibility that I could have been arrested (which the very kind officer warned me of as he attempted to rouse me).  

My friends were all tucked safely inside that smoky bar, unaware that not only had I disappeared after consuming the equivalent of a 12 pack of beer and two cigarettes for the first time (first time for cigarettes, certainly not the first time for the twelve pack), but that I had been gone for quite some time.  I made it to the bathroom and shared some of the beer with the toilet, found my friends, went home (somehow…) and never smoked again.

But I do know people who do smoke, or did, and anecdotally speaking I’ve heard that upon embarking on your personal smoking cessation program you suddenly become painfully unaware of the sheer number of smoking people around you, and, once you quit, how obnoxious that can truly be.

So as it is with Facebook, only it isn’t so much that it’s obnoxious, but I flat out SEE it everywhere.  At the froyo shop and giant sign says “Follow us on Facebook @froyoshop for special offers!”  

At bank, at the market, at the restaurant, you just can’t escape.  Is Facebook truly the only place to get this kind of information?  Clearly not, but we are led to believe that it is. 

I never truly noticed how pervasive this thing called Facebook has become in our global community. And again, it’s not that I think Facebook is bad, it’s just bad for me.

In my conversation with my friend last evening about Facebook (what does it say about our society that we were even HAVING a conversation about the ills of social media and it’s affect on us as humans?!) we talked about how, on Facebook, everything is awesome.  

On Facebook it appears that everyone has their shit together, their marriage or relationships are solid, their kids are angels (you can almost see their halos).   

No one gets angry, no one hurts, or is sad, or depressed or anxious.   

Everything is awesome.

It looks like we have it all: adoring husbands, perfect children, great careers, solid friendships with several people (thank you selfies), tons of free time and the ability to make Martha Stewart look like a chump with our amazing culinary creations and craftiness.

But do we have it all, really?  No, but we spend far too much time making it look like we do.  And for whom?  

 I’m willing to bet we’re trying only to convince ourselves.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Detox – Day 1

The first thing I did was remove Facebook from my cell phone yesterday around lunchtime.  It felt amazing.  It was as if I had suddenly been relieved of a giant responsibility, a chore, an item on my daily to-do list that I was just sick of doing.  Granted, this “to-do” is one that orchestrated for myself all on my own.  

But I felt relieved nonetheless.  

Suddenly I didn’t have the urge to take my phone to the restroom and check my page while I peed.  (yes, I realize how awful that must seem, but I assure you I am not even remotely exaggerating.)  

It felt so good to realize I didn’t have the urge to pick up my damn phone every five minutes to see if I missed anything.  Because guess what?  I probably did miss something, but I didn’t miss being in the loop.  And that was HUGE.

But I can’t lie.  I feel like a hypocrite.  Just a little bit.  Except I keep reminding myself that I’m not on Facebook for 30 days because I think it’s bad.  I am taking a break because it’s bad for ME.  

I have a cheating heart of sorts because I kept my one super-secret account, the one that has no friends, that will NEVER have any friends (the loneliest Facebook account ever) so I can continue to use Facebook in my work and volunteer life.  

You see, I have two pages that I admin, and a book page for the day when I actually have time to write my book, which looks like will be somewhere around, oh I don’t know, maybe NEVER.

So in a way I feel like I’m working the system, but I’m really not.  What I AM doing is just selfishly promoting my own interests.  Which, let’s be real here, is exactly what I was doing before, but under the guise of just being connected to a global community.  

Now, it’s just out in the open.  I’m a shameless self-promoter.  I feel somewhat liberated.

The moment that I hit deactivate on my account this morning, as anticlimactic as it was, I felt the urge to post on my Facebook page: “Just deleted my account.  Man that feels good.”  I’m not even making that up.

Then later this morning I heard about a situation at school with my daughter and I wanted to post something snarky, passive aggressive and very “double birds-ish” without being too obvious.  

Then I remembered I couldn’t and I was ever-so-thankful to have removed that option.  Nothing like stepping in a pile of shit you created all by yourself.  

I did have one moment of “I will not have a clue what’s going on out there” as I saw several Facebook posts relating to the 3.3 earthquake we had last night as I prepared to deactivate. 

I also realized that surely the TV news picked that story up (along with well, most other newsy things), and in the scheme of things it isn’t really something I need to know about and I clicked the “deactivate” button with little to no feeling at all.

I sent a simple text to my husband that read simply: Done.   

He knew what I meant, as his reply was “Free at last!!!” and mine was a simple “Free at last” right back.

And that’s how I feel right now.  


And it feels amazing.