Slump

There was an empty cup in my son’s bedroom yesterday. I couldn’t muster the initiative to take it ALL THE WAY to the kitchen, so I kicked it out of his room into the hallway and partway down the stairs. It sat on the stairwell all of last night and this morning. I just walked by it on my way upstairs to write this, so I kicked it the rest of the way down.

The empty cup sits on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, annoyingly. Right in the way, and I know it’s there, and it bugs me, but I don’t want to go move it.

I sat down on my bed to listen to music and contemplate showering when I decided the cup was a strange situation and I needed to write about it. Why was I being so darn lazy about it?

I’m not sure.

I  do keep looking at the time. Right now is 6th period. I’d be teaching my favorite class. We’re on World War I right now. 

I finished student teaching on Friday, and it’s only Tuesday. I anticipated a slump, but I thought there’d be a honeymoon period first. You know, where I liked the fact the long days were over and I could breathe again.

But for some reason, I breathe better when I don’t have time to stop and focus on it.

Deep breathing feels good for a second, but I always overdo it until I get dizzy.

I finished student teaching on Friday and said awkward goodbyes. I carried my box of belongings to the car  and drove away in the falling snow and cried a little bit because it was over. I called my mom and dad.  I started to feel better.

Then I got stuck in a traffic jam and ran out of gas.

And  then I sat there turning the car over and over and over (after getting two rides with strangers to the gas station and back) , wondering why it wouldn’t start even with gas in it. Wondering why no matter how often I repeated the same action, nothing worked.

Then my battery died.

I sat awaiting rescue in the cold and wondered why  I didn’t feel elated. I FINISHED. Four months of long, exhausting days of teaching and not even getting paid. This was the culmination. Another graduate degree awaited me, another diploma which said I was GOOD at something – school.

Instead of elation, a ton of realities seemed to hit me at once as I sat in my dead car in the snow.

Our trip to Scotland was canceled, for a host of sad reasons.

We lost our plight regarding moving my mom to Colorado.

My dad was about to get on a bus to protest DAPL and I worried about him.

Trump won.

My best friend (who had been visiting) was back in Scotland.

And I sat in a dead car, with nothing to look forward to but empty expanses of time to think.

Officially, a slump.

First world problem, though, I thought. And I made myself get out of bed on Saturday.

I attended a political activism meeting and I felt a rush of adrenaline for the first time in a few days.

But then I threw up in the middle of the meeting, and that activity was ruined.

Because the icing on the cake of my life was a virus of some sort.

Yep, a slump.

An existential slump, a first-world problem slump, but still, a slump.

I keep thinking back to this time last year, when we were anxiously awaiting our son Alistair having his heart procedure in Minneapolis. To help combat the fear and anxiety of such a time,  I enlisted Alistair on a a ‘kindness mission’ and we spent the weeks leading to his procedure doing random (and deliberate)  acts of kindness. It’s something I tried to do every December since 2012, when I did the 26 acts of kindness for 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shootings.

But this December I’d just been thinking about getting through my work days and passing my assignments and graduating. I knew I was lucky not to have to think about Alistair getting a heart procedure done, but it didn’t really hit me.

And now, the slump has resulted in me not even putting away dishes. Just kicking them around the house.

I think the sight of that cup was pathetic enough to stir something in me. The Light the World campaign is going on right now, and it’s right up my alley with the kindness acts.

Over the next three weeks I will be posting about how I get out of this slump, starting with doing things for others again.

Below are some highlights of what we did last year, in 2015.

20151211_135646
We left gift cards on car windshields.
20151214_124836
We brought gifts and surprises to friends.
20151214_114234
I tried (and failed) to donate blood. 
Advertisements

Nothing Is Ever How You Thought It Would Be

It’s me again, walking by my old school locker. ‘That used to the locker I shared with Susan,’ I think each time, and then I rush to my destination and start teaching history lessons again.

My personal history there, by my rusty locker, is of no real interest to anyone – just some portion of my brain which holds memory, thought, emotion, and evocation of these things, and keeps reminding me of them,  unwittingly.

I can’t help but think of my teenage self in those same desks I teach at, walking those same halls. And the memories which come back to me have helped me realize something about THEN me and NOW me.

I was SO WRONG back then.  Right? 

 

20140110_232018
Teaching At My Former High School, I’m Reminded of MY Time There Daily

Did I think I’d be thirty years old and a student teacher back at my high school? Not in the slightest. My best friend and I genuinely believed there was a chance we’d marry our favorite members of Nsync. We huddled together in relative seclusion, wrapped in our fantasy world.  Was that wrong?

Well, technically. I mean, neither of us is married to Justin Timberlake.

But I say we weren’t wrong at all. 

Our predictions were often way off as adolescents. Or at least, mine sure were.  I thought I was in love with a person who loved me back. But it was limerence, an alluring lie I told myself. I thought I’d be living by the beach in California at 25. But I was living in North Dakota helping take care of my mom when I reached that age. I thought I’d be married to a Mormon, have eight kids and still have time to be a best-selling author. So far, none of former are reality.

Everyone always tells me what an optimist I am. How rose-tinted my glasses are, how naive I can be, how  unrealistic my expectations of people are.

And I’ll often agree, wearing the label with the knowledge that yes, I am like that. Not the naivety, per say, but I can agree with being a bit too unrealistic .

Anything is possible, right?

And I think that’s true. Anything IS possible. But does  life often have other plans for you?

Yes.

You know that old adage – ‘Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.’

It is true. And a realization of life as something other than what I had in mind, due to circumstance, choice, choices of others, chance, God…..this is part of what happens when you reach adulthood. At least, this is how I’ve found life to be.

I think accepting the curve-balls, embracing the choices we maintain within some imposed limitations, and learning to love ourselves and others for for who we all ACTUALLY are is an important step to happiness and adulthood.

2016-06-15 11.57.40
Colorado Is My Home Now, Again

When I was a teenager – at the high school I still teach in every day – my friends and I would lament about how booooring Colorado Springs was. How conservative and closed-minded and ultimately booooring it was here. Was there ANYTHING to do? And oh, the slim pickings of date-able boys we moaned about ceaselessly. I couldn’t wait to move. California, Scotland, anywhere!

So we went to Scotland and thought it was, without a doubt, utopia. The guys were hot and like, so into us, yeah? Those accents! The stream of phone numbers and offers to date…wow, where had Scotland been all our lives??  Colorado Springs had NONE of this.

Fast forward a few years and my best friend and I were sitting around talking about how poor we were in Scotland, and how we missed the mountains. Oh, and Thanksgiving. We really needed pumpkin pie.

When I did move back to Colorado Springs, Scottish husband in tow, I was excited…for a few months.

Then it was the same old story, this time with a husband instead of my friend: it’s boring, it’s conservative, it’s just, like, totally lame. Time to move to Boulder. So we did.

And now we’re back.

And I’m seeing Colorado Springs through a lens which never would have been possible back then. I’m seeing it as a mom, as a working adult…as someone who now cares about good preschools and grocery stores.

I’m also seeing Colorado Springs with new eyes…the kind of eyes I refused to use when I lived here as a teenager and young adult. I’m seeing it as a place to settle down, a place to grow, and a place to raise my son.

And it’s like a totally different place.

2016-06-18 14.38.13
As I Raise Alistair, I Can Introduce Him To Places Where  My Love For Humanity Flourishes

Speaking to friends and relatives and therapists and folks beside me on plane rides, etc.,  I’ve come to the conclusion that while my experiences are my own, the sentiment is universal.

Life never turns out the way you planned it to.

What prompted me to write this blog post tonight? I was flicking through the radio stations and landed on ‘The Dance’ by Garth Brooks. I’m not even a country fan but I was listening and it evoked the thought of how even if we don’t know how things are going to turn out, the journey usually makes it all worth it.

Don’t live a life of regret, but don’t live a life of undue expectation on yourself or others, either.

I remember the teenage me, every day at work now. How she spoke, how she dressed,  how she talked. I can feel she is still a part of me. And I can see how despite how ‘wrong’ she was about the future, she was right, for that time and  place.

Everyone is a work in progress. As John Mayer says…..’I’m in repair….I’m not together but I’m getting there.’

Dear 31,

Dear 31,

Your predecessor haunted me. It followed me for months:

3-0

three oh

30

thirty.

It screamed at me from writing homework – reflections and recollections and every single unanswered everything in my real life or fake life or would-be life or could-be life or should-be life or might-be life; it deafened me to new sounds.

I walked through Scotland’s haze with a ringing in my ears and a coffin in my back pocket.

30.

The drama pronounced itself in both circumstance and surroundings: I lived out my  grown-up dream of a creative writing degree in the city just a decade before I’d lived out my growing-up dream.

I pushed my toddler in a pram down the same roads I’d drunkenly stumbled through in the past. I came home in the evening to diapers and literary theory and a husband who’d just a decade before been sweeping me off my feet but now collected the dust of our stagnant relationship.

Panic overtook me in the most privileged guise imaginable; a married white woman,  mother to a healthy child, living in a European capital to pursue an arts degree, was having a case of existential malaise over the loss of a number, of a decade, of time.

I freaking loved my 20’s.

But then 30 came, and it went. And with it, the crisis.

Because 31, you taught me more than any other year of my life. I’ve never felt more like ME than any other year of my life.

Yes. I loved the freedom of my 20’s, the laughter, the chaos, and the possibility. But yes, the burden of unfulfilled potential still haunts me. The weight of choice still keeps me up at night. I often wonder how anyone sleeps, knowing the impact of each minute gesture. The power of our choices.

But 31, you’ve taught me those aspects of my personality aren’t a crisis, but the state of my soul, regardless of age.

The state of my soul has never been been more grounded in reality. In clarity. In understanding.

My 20’s were fun, but I lived in world of black and white. Eithers and ors. Nothings or everythings. Certainties.

Turning 30 wobbled me, spun me around on my axis, and landed me in a position where everything is a shade of grey.

And I’m fine with that, now.

I get it.

Life is colorful, but it’s never black or white.

The water of life is murky, and seldom clear, but refreshing nonetheless.

31, you’ve shown me I know who I am. What I’ll never be. And who I’ll always be (for better or worse).

Thank you, 31.

 

photo-1439902315629-cd882022cea0
Photo courtesy Unsplash

Dear 31,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@AlanaFlorence Works Out, Too

Happy One Year Anniversary to this blog….may the second year reflect the authenticity strived for in Year One.

How much can a person change in a year?

I think this blog is a living experiment of exactly that.

When I started out writing on WordPress, I wanted to lose weight. I have. Not enough for me to brag about big numbers, but enough that I feel different and hopefully look a bit different, too.  When I started this blog, I wanted to work out more. I do! And I have found joy in exercise I never thought possible. When I started this blog, I thought clothes would be a good motivator for change. I wanted to feel like Alana again. I wanted to love shopping, and makeup, and hair and new boots.

I still love all of those things…but I’ve realized I love nurturing my soul way more than I love pampering my appearance.

And I’ve learned my dedication to wellness on the inside will reflect in a healthier way than focusing on appearance – as much I love a good outfit and hope to be able to wear the clothes I want to again.

In light of this, my new URL is alanaflorencewrites.wordpress.com. This is generic, yes, but it ties to my general goal of writing and also works with my Twitter, @AlanaFlorence.

And off I go, to Year Two!

Nevertheless…

PicsArt_1440379936282

My fourth grade classroom was on the top floor of a century-old, brick elementary school, since demolished. My teacher, Mrs. C.,  was a middle-aged woman with a frizzy perm whom I remember little of, except for this incident, which will stay with me forever.

The school implemented a ‘Gifted and Talented Program’  that year and by some process chose a few students who would leave regular classroom time, go with a special teacher from the district, and work on puzzles and word games and other mental gymnastics to utilize and ripen those ‘gifted’ brains.

One day, Mrs. C gave the class some busy work and called out a handful of names, mine included, and asked us to go with her into the hallway. Here we stood in a circle while she enthusiastically explained we’d been chosen for the Gifted and Talented program, and we should be very proud. It would be additional schoolwork on top of our already heavy fourth-grade workload, she warned, but with a blanket statement of praise explained she knew we could do it.

I  loved school, got good grades and great test scores, and when Mrs. C explained the program, I felt eager and happy.

I swelled with pride. I stood with my gangly limbs, my long stringy hair and thick plastic glasses and all of a sudden felt older, confident, excited. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom and dad.

Mrs. C dismissed us from the hallway and we started to file back into the classroom, chattering under our breath.

“Alana,” Mrs. C, whispered, “I’d like to talk with you a minute.”

She closed the door behind the other children so we were alone in the hallway. Maybe she wanted me to be in charge of the group in some way? Why was I being singled out?

And then, Mrs. C  let out a breath and told me she was…..concerned…..that my name had been on the Gifted and Talented list. She held reservations about whether or not I could keep up with other students in the group. She told me she was concerned about me doing additional work and expressed it may be too hard for me. She asked if I really wanted to do it.

I stood, dumbfounded. My pride extinguished, my confidence deflated. My teacher didn’t want me to do it. She didn’t think I could.

The memory of the disappointment in the pit of my stomach is as vivid as the day this happened. I stammered that I was certain I could handle it, and I did. But each time I went with the Gifted and Talented group, I felt somehow less than, like I wasn’t really meant to be there.

My teacher’s words really hurt me. They affected how I went forward with the program.

Nevertheless, I did it. And I kept my grades up. And when I ‘graduated’ from fifth grade a year later, it was with some kind of presidential academic award ‘signed’ by President Bill Clinton, as well as the title of co-Class President.

Ten years later and a continent away, I lay on my boyfriend’s couch by the light of a golden IKEA lamp. The Scottish autumn made the nights draw in quickly, and we lounged in the near-dark and chatted, Alex in his soft Edinburgh brogue and me in my neutral Colorado accent. Long, mundane chats were the first thing we did when we met up at the end of the day. He’d rest on his back and I’d lay sprawled out across him,  my elbows near his ears and our faces inches from each other. I’d keep brushing my hair off his face as we laughed and talked about everything, anything. But this day was different, somehow. Alex seemed jittery, and more intense.

He sat me up so I was half on his lap and he sat up, too, growing serious. I was scared to know what was coming, taking in his nervousness. We knew I only had six months in Scotland, and we’d just take it easy and date, but everything between us seemed to move quickly, intensely.

“I have to tell you something,” he said breathlessly. “And you don’t have to answer me, it’s fine. But…..I love you.”

The world was spinning.  I was scared to respond. The way his face lit up as he looked at me, the gentle grip he held around my waist, the way I felt his chest heaving against mine from my spot on his lap. I took it all in, and I thought of Colorado. Of home. How I’d be leaving in a few short months.

“I……I can’t tell you I love you,” I said, terrified. Terrified I did love him, terrified I didn’t. Mostly, terrified of leaving him and going back to a country that didn’t have Alex.

A week or so later- time never seemed to matter with Alex – we were walking across the cobblestones to see Love, Actually at the movie theater. We were holding hands, walking in step, practically bouncing with the glee of young love.

I let go of his hand outside the theater, turned to face him with a rush of traffic behind me, and blurted out, “I have to tell you, I love you too.”

I didn’t want to love Alex, but I couldn’t help it. I was careless with my heart, knowing we came from different worlds.

Nevertheless, I did it. I let myself love him. And we worked so hard to keep ourselves in the same country. This week is our eleventh wedding anniversary, but in those eleven years I’ve had five different British visas and he, two different American ones.

Some love is measured in years, some love is measured through dedication to paperwork.

————–

When my mother was pregnant with me, she grew very ill. Her family was told she may not make it. Or that I would be born handicapped. The odds were against us.

Nevertheless, we’re both still here. And I was born healthy.

The list could go on. The stories could continue.

I believe everyone has a nevertheless experience or two, but the good news is, as long as you’re alive, there is ample opportunity for more.

We don’t need to be BECAUSE people, or DUE TO people, or IF ONLY people.

We can choose to be NEVERTHELESS people.

I saw this written on a gym mirror the other week: Our circumstances don’t determine our lives. Our actions do.

I believe sometimes, we are a victim of circumstance. It’s evident plenty of people get a leg up where others don’t. Not all things are equal or equitable as they should be. Circumstances dictate some things. They may dictate our past.

But they don’t need to dictate our future.

Even if something seems hard, do it anyway.

If a dozen obstacles stand in your way, adopt a nevertheless attitude and work through the obstacles one by one.

Sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on SHOULDS.

I know I do.

The expectations I have of others and myself leave a lot of undone SHOULDS.

But I say, even though this SHOULD happen, it’s not, and so….. nevertheless gosh darn it.

There is so much power in our actions.

And only we get to decide what our actions will be.

(Our reactions, too.)

Our choices determine our destiny.

But when circumstances step in….

May the odds be ever in your favor.

We can say nevertheless, I did it.

The Nostalgic Hoarder

That’s me. The nostalgic hoarder. With all of my talk of simplifying, and my blogged endeavors at letting go, there remains one area where I am/was  woefully cluttered.

‘My Memories’ I’ve called them, as my husband and I  moved them from Colorado Springs to Boulder to Fargo to Moorhead and back to Fargo.

‘Make sure we don’t throw away any of my memories!’ I insist with every move and spring cleaning.

In this new, smaller apartment (thanks harassing neighbors who forced us to move), my ‘memories’ have nowhere to live but the garage. So I’ve been going through each box, one by one, over the past months and trying oh-so-hard to downsize.

My 10th grade Science folder? I finally put it in the bin, 15 years later. My NSYNC seat cushion from Mile High Stadium? Oh, that will be kept forever. A collector’s item, for sure.

Here are some of my weekend finds:


20150606_202112

My favorite Sketchers, 2002-2004.

I don’t usually save old shoes, although these were a firm favorite mine. But I harbored them because they are The Shoes I wore when I met my now husband, Alex. I’ve saved the frayed jeans and blue velour hoodie I wore to the pub that fateful night, as well.

I’m a bit spacy, and excitable by nature.  Back then, in  late 2003 when I meet Alex, I was also still jet-lagged. So I don’t have a ton of memories of the event itself. My best friend Susan and I walked into the Edinburgh pub The Brass Monkey expecting to watch a movie, but ended up ordering Coca Colas and being teased by the barman in the black tshirt.

Alex.

I can picture the way he grinned at me, and how he flirted. But somehow, looking at these shoes makes it seem more tangible, and brings back those feeling I had in the pub. I can remember how it felt to walk in those shoes.

So, I wondered yesterday. Should they stay or should they go?

This was, indeed, a tough one. In the end, they’ve stayed, and I tell myself maybe one day they’ll be…..vintage. For anyone who wants to know what a backpacking teenager wore in 2003.

This is, perhaps, one semester's worth of notes.  What would the kids of today think?
This is, perhaps, one semester’s worth of notes. What would the kids of today think?

Next, I tried to tackle my memory shoeboxes. Each shoebox equals one school year’s worth of ticket stubs, passed notes, concert confetti, and birthday cards. As I went through these (and I still have some to organize, admittedly), I found cards from people who I honestly can’t place. Into the garbage they went. I found old glowsticks, presumably from a concert. Binned. But I kept the concert confetti, and I kept every one of my notes, including those above:  a small sample of one year in the life of Susan and Alana at Coronado High School.

The content of the notes is priceless. One of the notes contains apologies for tear stains. Most contain codewords and initials in an attempt to avoid interception by nosy parties. All include declarations of love for Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez and for each other, as BFFS and NFFs.

I’ll never toss these notes, and I’m so glad to have them. I wonder how today’s communication will be saved for the future? Snapchat is gone in a flash. The handwritten note ran the risk of falling into the wrong hands, but that was all part of the fun.

Next, I found a bittersweet look into my psyche, 2003…..

20150606_202207

When I found this, I could have literally cried. Here I sit in Fargo, 12 years older and none the wiser, and I feel the choice has been made for me. It makes me feel foolish to think I sat, as a 19 year old with the world at my fingertips, and contemplated choosing NORTH DAKOTA over California for college.

No offense, North Dakota. But really.

In the end, my best friend Susan and I ended up going on a student work exchange to Scotland instead, and the rest is history.

But I don’t remember writing this list. I remember applying to both MSUM and Santa Monica College and getting into both. I remember thinking MSUM would be a safe adventure. Ultimately we choose the least safe option of all, moving to Scotland.

This list went into the trash pile, out of pure annoyance.

And what of my box full of college papers and exams? I’ve been lugging around the answer to Hume’s Fork for 13 years.

20150606_202129

This  too went straight into the garbage pile, mainly out of embarrassment I couldn’t possibly get an ‘A’ on the same exam today. Thanks, short-term memory. No, seriously. Thanks for getting me through college.

Next….

20150516_213220

My more recent habit is keeping boarding passes, hotel maps, and other ‘memories’ in my carry on backpack. This means I’ve been hauling maps of London to Cancun, and have the correct walk-in massage information for Covent Garden  on my person as I drive up to Winnipeg.

It’s not laziness; I think I just don’t want to let go of my most recent travels. They seem so immediate right there in my bag.

But I took the step and moved them to a memory box – but only the mementos which held meaning.

And then, finally. Photos.

2000concert

Without this gem of a picture, I would never remember taking a swipe at a Britney Spears piñata (her crime: dating Justin Timberlake), nor would I remember the look of absolute glee on Susan’s face. I certainly wouldn’t have remembered wearing jeans up to my rib cage, and I doubt I would have been able to recall the on point way we all managed to look appropriately disdainful.

How could you, Britney? Justin was OURS. OURS, I tell you.

I don’t throw away old photographs. But I haven’t been amazing at organizing them and digitalizing them, either.

If there were a fire, I’d probably grab Alistair, Weasley and my bag of pictures.

(Alex would be fine to get out on his own, but of course he’s top of the list, as well)

I find great value in Scrapbooking, for those who have the attention span. I’ve started loads, and I love the first few pages I have.

Ha.

I think the best course of action is organization and photo albums, out in the open where people can enjoy them. Making digital copies is also important in case of things such as fires.

But I wholeheartedly believe photos are worth keeping.

So, by the end of the weekend I managed a few bags of trash amongst my boxes of memories.

Just some of the boxes:

20150606_202046

As fun as it was to ponder my past via memory boxes, it also felt good to through some of it away. Moderation was my guide, and I think it served me well.

If you are a nostalgic hoarder like me, here are some general tips I’d pass on:

1. If you can’t remember the person who sent you the note or the card, ponder it in amusement before throwing it away. Same goes for random objects and useless glowsticks.

2. Don’t be afraid to box up things you wish to keep, and then put them away. They’re safer in your garage than in your carryon backpack as you go from trip to trip.

3. If you can work it out, minimize the space ‘memories’ take up by condensing into smaller boxes which fit into bigger boxes, arranged by year or, in some cases by person (such as the ‘Alistair’ box).

4. Be wary of larger items of substandard collector value (such as my Nsync seat cushion, which I just couldn’t let go of). But I did throw away all of my NSYNC calendars, for example.

5. If something truly brings you joy, why let it fester in a box? See if you can find a new use for it.

6. If in doubt, throw it out.

7. But don’t be ashamed of nostalgia. We’re all human, after all, and our memories make up our lives. Little reminders of good times and good things can bring joy when you really need a boost. They can give others a boost as well.

And last of all, but most importantly…..don’t stop making new memories.

Yeah, so my dramatic teenage years are gone, and I can’t meet my husband again for the first time. But we’re making new memories as a family, and one day Alistair will be able to look back on things he doesn’t remember, such as the year he lived in Scotland, and we will be able to tell him about it.

We wouldn’t be able to tell him about it if we hadn’t gone.

Creating memories is much more important than saving them

.

Rain, Sweat and Tears

Mother’s Day dawned wet and dreary, with a windy chill in the air. I was exhausted from my girlfriend getaway I’d just returned from, and I felt the let-down Sunday usually brings. I was greeted with gifts and cuddles from my family, which I appreciated, but I just can’t stand the expectations of this particular holiday.

We went to church and I lurched out of my funk quickly upon seeing Alistair, my three-year old son, singing a song about mothers from the stage. He waved proudly and then sprinted to us before the number was over.

But when we arrived home the tiredness and gloom settled upon our apartment again. My husband wanted to nap and Alistair needed a nap, so I just joined them, knowing I’m a ‘bad napper.’ I usually wake up feeling guilty, not refreshed.

This proved to be the case. I woke up disoriented, feeling sad about missing my own mom (who is in a long term care situation over 4 hours away) and guilty about all of the Mother’s Day chocolates and feeling that, as predicted, this holiday wasn’t living up what it ‘should’ be.

Alex took Alistair to the grocery store to thoughtfully by the makings of my favorite dinner. While gone, I contemplated laying on the couch and eating chocolate. But I knew I’d feel even worse. I needed air, no matter how wet.

I proclaimed I was going to go work out. I arrived at the YMCA to find the place deserted, especially of women. But I felt an immediate lift just being there, knowing I was going to do something.

20150510_182910

I contemplated this blog and thought, “This is a win. It’s a small win, but I’m here. I’ll photo chart my journey and write a post about the magic of the small win.”

I was even in my favorite shirt at the moment- Perfect Is Boring.

I began in earnest, pushing myself as I racked up some cardio.

153333 - 1

But it was HARD, much harder than my usual trips to the gym. I only managed 20 minutes and a mile.

And the darn machine timed out before I could even photograph my stats (see above) I tried some weight machines but was intimidated by all of the dude-bros.



The lack of any other women started to get to me. “They’re all having a great time with their families, and I’m here with a pathetic mile to walk.”

I’m not generally pessimistic, and I’m not generally gloomy, but this was SUCH.A.GLOOMY.DAY.

I went to the exit, mopping my brow with a towel and then wondering why, as it was a torrential down pour at this point.

A man came running up to me with a bracelet. “Is this yours?” he asked. It was. And one of my favorite pieces, purchased from Top Shop in Edinburgh with an emotional attachment.

Something about his thoughtfulness cheered me up.

I was  incredibly hot, and decided on a whim what I really wanted was stand in the rain.

So I did. I let it pour down on me as I slowly walked to the car. I did the cliché thing, putting my hands out and letting it drip over me while I looked up in to the cloudy sky.

I jumped into my car damp and shivering, a few tears springing to my eyes as well. I couldn’t place them. Relief tears? Missing-my-mom-on-Mother’s Day tears? Tears celebrating my teeny tiny win on the elliptical? I wasn’t sure.

I drove home and felt a release. The release of the expectations I’d put on myself and others. The release of the longing for my own mother, so far away in too many ways. The release of the idea that my small win was the one mile at the gym.

Because my small win WASN’T the work-out. It was letting myself feel what I needed to feel, and not feeling guilty about it.

It’s important to celebrate the small wins, for sure.

And after I pulled in to park the car at home, I realized my face was a mixture of rain, sweat and tears.

I took this photo to document the ‘Small Win.’

20150510_190757

Later that evening I contemplated the amazing weekend I’d had in Winnipeg. I thought again about Alistair waving to me from the front of the church. I thought of the delicious meal my husband prepared to celebrate me in my role as a mother.

I almost felt selfish for my earlier cry. Until I reminded myself….. THAT was my small win of the day.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the good things, but we ALWAYS need to remind ourselves that we are human.

Rain, sweat, tears and all.

12225 - 1

Flowers from Winnipeg.