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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a year...

I've been thinking for the last few days (scary, I know).

I knew I wanted to write something about New Years. But did I want to do resolutions? Goals? The year in review? A post blasting the cliches of resolutions?

Honestly, this year has been a total whirlwind for me.

Seriously? I bought a freakin' house. A HOUSE. How did that happen? Days away from homelessness a few short years ago, and now a homeowner? For real?

Just a few weeks short of a year later, it's still surreal. From tearing out old flooring, putting in new flooring, dealing with a flood, a worn-out water heater, more yardwork and cleanup and tree trimming and digging and planting than I care to think of, so much cleaning and unpacking and organizing (still)..... I still catch myself running my hands down the walls and thinking to myself "holy crap, this is MINE" at least once a day.

The list of projects, both inside and out, continues to grow, but it's a manageable list. We have things to work towards to make the house perfect, and I know that we'll get to them sooner or later, but it's mine. My house.

It's insane.

The boys have adjusted well to their new school. They've become involved in sports and have made tons of friends and love to be outside terrorizing the neighborhood with the other kids. The older kids enjoy not having to bounce back and forth between two towns to spend time with each parent, and the stress level has decreased greatly.

Life is good.

Do I have 'resolutions' for next year? Not really. Goals? Yes. But I hesitate to call them resolutions, only because I know the failure rate of my so-called resolutions.

Am I going to list them out for the world to see? Nope. Not this time. Sometimes, I do better when I don't have an audience. Sometimes, it's better to do things just for myself, and then it's more fun if someone else happens to notice.

I will say that I'm officially signed up for two half-marathons already, but that shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone who has been around for a while. I have some other health-related goals, and some financial ones, and some personal ones. I do hope to write more, and take more pictures, and sew more.

Regardless, I'm ready to see what 2015 has in store for me.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just something to think about...

My heart is hurting tonight.

Today, the son of one of my oldest friends was sentenced for a crime that he committed.

The sentence, while harsh, is fair. He screwed up. He screwed up in a really big, really bad way. There's no getting around that. He admitted it. He has apologized and is remorseful, but that doesn't change anything.

I met this young man several years ago. I was impressed with his attitude, his demeanor, his respect that he showed to those around him.

But sometime after that, he made mistakes. There is no excuse for what he did.

I have watched the reports about him in the media. Most of them have been neutral. Fact-based. Emotionless. This happened, and then this happened, and he did this, and then this.

But that's where the neutrality ended. Hiding behind their monitors, the keyboard warriors struck out at this young man and his family. His family, who had nothing to do with the crimes committed, was attacked.

His mother - my friend - was called every name in the book. She was blamed for his wrongdoings, as though she was the one egging him on to commit the crimes. The comments left by anonymous people turned my stomach. People suggested that his parents were to blame, or that they somehow encouraged this kind of behavior from him, or worse yet - that they should be punished for what he did.

Honestly, in the past, I never really thought about the families of criminals. They were generally nameless beings, someone who floated around in the background at the trials or tried desperately to hide from the barrage of video cameras.

But I know this mother. I've known her for close to 30 years. I remember the letters that she wrote to me when she was in the service, the ones telling me that she was pregnant, and the ones including baby pictures of her boys. We lost touch for a while, but through the miracle of social media we reconnected and I loved seeing the pictures that she posted of her sons. The love she has for them is incredible.

And then the unthinkable happened. And I watched the articles that were posted online. And I read every single comment that was posted. I cried for her, for the wrong assumptions that people made about her parenting, and for the threats that were made against her because of her son's mistakes. I wanted to scream at these people, "but you don't even know her!" but I couldn't. I couldn't say anything, because there is no reasoning with people who are looking to vilify someone.

Somehow, she has managed to hold her head up high through all of this. She has shown such an amazing amount of strength and courage despite what people have said. I don't know how she manages to do it.

I do know that she doesn't deserve the nasty names.
She doesn't deserve the hatred.
No one has the right to threaten her or her family.
She shouldn't be judged based on his actions.
She didn't commit the crimes.

She is already being punished. She has had to watch her child make mistakes and suffer the severe consequences for his actions. She questions herself as to what she could have done differently or how she could have prevented this, knowing full well that despite what anyone else thinks, she did her best.

It is not her fault. She is not to blame.

The victims of the crimes are not always the only victims.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A push

I got pushed today. Not really pushed, but more like shoved. And smacked around a bit.

It actually started about a week ago. I'm in a whole bunch of groups on facebook, but one of them is a small group of local ladies who all run. I met several of them when I did the half-marathon in October, and they are awesome. But since that race, I haven't done anything to get in shape, or to even maintain the bleh shape that I was in when I did that race. Nothing. I haven't even gone for a walk.

So....like I said, a week-ish ago, this post caught my eye.....

Two miles a day for 2 weeks, I thought. I might be able to do that. So I agreed.

Of course, when I agreed, the weather was decent. Today, on the first day of the challenge? Yeah. Not so much.

I thought about waiting until later in the day (notice the time on that shot is 7:35am), but I had so much going on that I knew that if I didn't do it as soon as I dropped the kids off at school, I wasn't going to do it. And if I missed the first day, then I wouldn't do the challenge at all - because that's the way that my mind works. And I also knew that I had an appointment at 9am so if I was going to do it, I had to do it right then and there. I threw on an extra layer of clothes, cursed the girls in that group as I felt them virtually shove me out the door, and took off.

It. was. cold.

OMG it was cold. There was just enough wind that it was absolutely miserable as I started walking into it, and I came *thisclose* to turning around and going straight back to the house. But, it was a challenge. And I knew that if I got going, once I got to a certain point on my predetermined route, I could turn and have the wind at my back.

And then my mind started to wander in typical brain dump fashion. I'm not going to bore you with the total stream of consciousness train of thought that went in a bajillion different directions at a speed that blew my mind, but it was intense.

Ultimately, I thought about how parents tend to always put their kids first. I mean, really, who wouldn't? We have these little humans that depend on us for everything (more or less) and so we have to make sure that they're taken care of because that's our job, right? And we run ourselves ragged taking care of them and doing the things that parents do because it's what we're supposed to do and it's what we're expected to do - and we put ourselves last, sometimes to our own detriment.

I am so guilty of this, as most people know. I don't do squat for myself except maybe sit on my butt on the couch with a glass of wine once in a while (speaking of which...... I'm thirsty). And while taking care of the kids is all well and good (and ultimately, necessary) I realized....

I have to start taking better care of myself.

It seriously hit me like a smack upside the head. It's something that I've always known in the back of my mind, but I've ignored it because it seems like anytime parents (and yes, especially a mom) put themselves first, they are ripped to shreds by society. They are called selfish, self-centered, irresponsible, or bad parents.

I have been called all sorts of horrible names in the past because I am grateful when the kids go back to school after a long weekend or summer break. It's not that I want to get rid of my kids, but it's because I know that I can use that time away from them to work on things that *I* need to do to make me a better parent. Sometimes, it's mundane tasks like folding laundry and scrubbing toilets because I know that if I get those done while the kids are gone, I can spend more quality time with them when they return. And sometimes it's things like going for a run or taking a nap, because I need some time to do something that is completely and totally for me and for me only.

But even those things that I do for me and for me only end up benefiting the kids because guess what? When I get to do them, I'm in a better mood.

Better mood = better mom.

And seriously, who can argue with that train of thought when a view like this is staring you in the face while it's happening?

I came back from that run this morning feeling like it was ok to want to get back into running again. Like it's ok to finally commit to doing something for myself. Like maybe, just maybe, I can actually succeed at this 2-week challenge, and then continue on from there.

It's amazing how much my perspective can change in one 33 minute chunk of time.

And maybe, just maybe, in 2 weeks I can shave more than a few minutes off of that pathetic time. Assuming that I don't freeze a few limbs off in the process.