Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lost in the Woods - Literally and Figuratively

It's fall.  The season that always the most like starting over.  Big changes in our house - daughter started kindergarten six days ago.  We already have a mountain of paperwork, a couple of fundraisers, and ice cream social, and something called "curriculum night" to go to.  Both kids start soccer, swim classes, and daughter starts dance.  I am four days from my last triathlon of the season.  My "A" race that I'm hoping to to the best on.  Major town fair, two wedding cakes as well as a dream cake for a seriously ill child for Icing Smiles (no pressure there!).

All good things.  EXCEPT that when you add it all together, I've been experiencing levels of anxiety that are off the chart.  And my chart has one heck of a tall y-axis!!  I've been alternating between manic levels of activity (scrubbing the house, making 3 weeks worth of freezer meals, training like a crazy person) and being so lethargic I don't want to get out of bed.  Having fantasies of taking the cat and moving to a cottage in the woods somewhere Thoreau-style.  (Why the cat?  Because sometimes I think she's the only one that loves me unconditionally.  And she's warm, which would help in an unheated shack).

Pet my tummy.  You know you want to.
On Tuesday I tried to relieve some stress with about four of our cupcakes (2 of which were the stale ones we take back from our coffee shop once they've expired.  Nasty - I'm not proud of that moment) washed down with a couple glasses of wine.  Needless to say, that actually made me more of a stressed evil harpy, which was unfortunate as it was my long-suffering husband's birthday.  So yesterday I resolved to do better.  Good night's sleep, good breakfast, and a run at lunch.  I'm tapering for Sunday's race, so my max goal was about 2-3 miles.  Just enough to take the edge off.  I much prefer to run loops than out-and-backs, so I plotted out a loop that went on a different road than usual.  Lo and behold, and what to my wondering eyes did appear but....


I love trail running
You don't always get a "this is the way" sign in life.....
A nice little parking lot that I'd never noticed before, with a small white sign that said "2.6 miles to Hudson St.".  As I've really been digging my run-away-into-the-woods fantasy, I abandoned my earlier plan faster than it takes me to pull on my elastic laced running shoes.  

It was glorious.  I had no idea where I was going.  I had no idea what the trail layout was.  I just ran.
I like running on trails about 5000 time more than on roads.  I love the woods. I love the challenge of watching for every next foot placement.  It's like a video game.  I love that I don't have to sweat my pace as much, because everyone is always slower on trails.  It lets me stop starting at my Garmin and stare at nature instead.  I started having deep thoughts, like.... "this the universe giving you just what you need just when you need it" and "this path in the woods is like your life - you don't know where it is going, but you're having a great time now that you've stopped checking your watch".

This is the universe telling you that your path is not this way.....

Then, just to drive the point home, the universe got me good and lost.  (Or maybe I got myself lost.  Whatever).  In a field of razorgrass, where I couldn't find the trail again for a good 15 minutes.  While wondering just how long I could be away from my desk before someone noticed, and if I'd have to call our director to come get me once I finally got out because at that point I'd ran 4 miles and wasn't sure I could make the 4 miles back the way I came.

Lost in the grass.  Somewhere in this photo there is a Great Blue Heron lifting off from the marsh.  Beautiful!

Long story short, I did get myself out and sprinted my little butt the 2 or so miles back to my desk before I was missed.  My little 2-3 mile run turned into a blissful 5.5 mile trail run.  Even kept a good pace during the miles I wasn't lost!  My legs were cut to ribbons, but I felt better than I had in weeks....

Collateral damage - must trail run in tights from now on

All the Zen feeling was gonna be needed, because the next challenge was my daughter's first dance class.  I did NOT do dance as a child.  In fact, I am so ungraceful by nature that I was put in remedial gym class in the first grade.  (Really - that's a real thing.  These days you probably couldn't call it "remedial" for fear of harming the child's spirit or incensing her helicopter parents, but back then they call a spade a spade).

This was an event that I'd already invested hours in, researching classes, registering, and then getting her kitted out with what I thought was a decent approximation of  dance outfit.  Leotard, tights, tap shoes (one size too big, per other dance moms) and ballet shoes (also one size up, and so delayed in their arrival from Amazon that I was near panicked).  My husband started texting me at work an hour before class that her slippers didn't have a right or left and what to do?  Besides the obvious (put on feet), I put a call out on Facebook to confirm that yes that was normal.  Good.  So I packed up work a smidge early (bad employee!) to meet husband and son at her dance studio.

What I found was a waiting room the approximate size of my walk-in closet packed with at least 25 moms and their assorted children.  Hot, chaotic, and loud do not properly describe.  First day of class.  God help us all!  To add to that, my husband had settled on a look for our daughter that can only be described as "Flashdance Extra"

She's a maniac, MANIAC on the floor!!!
In the throngs of children, she was literally the only one with no tutu.  Her tap shoes have ribbons that tie, requiring the teacher to help her.  I didn't even bother to ask about the socks, but when at the end of class I told her to try on a smaller pair of ballet shoes I'd found in the hand-me-down bin, she said, "But Daddy told me I have to wear socks over my tights!".  I think my response was something along of the lines of "Well Daddy's a dummyhead" or something equally politic and mature.

Tying on her tap shoes

Last evening my husband after class my husband and I would have a fight about whether tutus "were stupid" (he says yes categorically, I maintain that it matters what the daughter thinks), if tutu, what level of "poofiness" was acceptable, etc.  All the while the voice in my head is telling me that this is by far the STUPIDEST thing that I have ever worried about and definitely that I've argued about in my life.

My insanity continued unchecked through work this morning, physical therapy (cleared for the race whoot!).  Through scouring a consignment shop for more leotards and the beginnings of their Halloween costumes, because clearly two months in advance is the reasonable timeframe for obsession to start.  Through a thousand other hysterical suggestions of what I was missing or messing up on.

Then one of my favorite bloggers, Meredith Atwood (aka. Swim Bike Mom) posted an entry entitled "The Real Business of Not Being Good Enough".  She spoke to her constant life-long tendency to keep piling her plate with more and more to do in an effort to feel "good enough" until she is in a constant state of breathless insanity (only she said it better than that).  I quite honestly felt like I had been kicked in the stomach.  I am the first to speak on women's inequality in the workplace, to repost articles from the Huffington Post about the stupidity of the Mommy Wars, but I am GUILTY of this.  SO guilty.  So guilty that if sentenced I'd be locked away in prison for several consecutive life sentences.

My race?  Worried I'm gonna look silly in spandex and finish poorly.  Not good enough.  Halloween costumes?  Worried that if I don't sew them by hand to my children's exact specifications that they will think I don't love them because I'm too busy with work to do so.  Not good enough.  Dance class?  My daughter had a ball (notice how I didn't mention that until now?).  She couldn't have cared less what she was wearing.  I was worried that the other moms in that waiting room would think I was an idiot for her crazy outfit and showing up with her gear packed in an old Pearl Izumi headlamp bag.  Not Good Enough.  How had I let myself get this worked up???  SwimBikeMom has thrown out a challenge over the next 30 days to focus on believing you are good enough.  Challenge desperately needed.  Challenge accepted.  Stay tuned....

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