Run Like a Girl…

I came home from a great ‘Girl Run’ this morning, popped on Facebook and saw this.  I love it.  I remember that time, being told what I was- at a time that I wasn’t even sure who or what I was, I was so scared to look funny doing things, I was terrified to stand out… and being told I do things ‘like a girl’, or it is ok to not participate because I was a girl.  When I was younger I didn’t care… I ran with my boy cousins, I played kickball after crafting all morning at Rec, I played and stood out and spoke up and didn’t really care…or maybe I just didn’t know to care.

I don’t know at what point I began to care.  I don’t know what made me think I was funny looking doing things, that I ran funny, that I cared what people saw or thought… that I chose to become quieter and less bold to not stand out.  I don’t know when I started to not appreciate myself and feel like I should be smaller.  I do know it came partly from listening to a world tell me I was ‘like a girl’… I was not the best at sports… I didn’t like running because I was slower than the athletes.  I excelled in things that were inside of me instead and had a terrible and huge fear of public speaking (lack of experience and confidence).  I was so scared to have people hear what I had to say… seriously when.did.that.happen.  What made me think my voice should be quiet… or I didn’t have to try things because ‘I might be bad at them’.  I wish people, just as this video covers, would stop labeling the gender differences.  Honestly, what does it matter if you run any particular way.  The fastest runners I see now, my friends that polish off a 5k in like 18 minutes (and are girls) run funny… or is it just efficient.  They run on their toes and use their arms to push and drive.  They have power and strength that they have worked hard to build for speed.  What if someone told them they looked funny… what if they quit because they were scared they looked funny.  I am inspired by those woman.  It blows my freakin’ mind that there are people that fast and FASTER!!!  It blows my mind to work out with women that play soccer and have mad crazy coordination skills… and it impresses me so much that I know an IronWoman.  She actually biked over a 100 miles, swam like 8 and ran a marathon just to finish.  BAM.  Wow.  I wish I had listened back then to the solid and positive people, and the encouragers.  I wish I had tried more back then, but alas I am here, right in the very spot I should be.  I see this video and I love the message and hope my girls run like themselves.  Lucy with her power and focus, Amelia with her high heels…

I am now in a place in life that I love to share, speak, be bold, be loud and stand out.  I love to try things I might fail at, I think it is a need.  I love to be scared to death to stand up to speak and share… my heart beating like crazy, and then do it.  I love to get nervous about stepping out of the box and knowing I can.  I eat mushrooms and olives now, just because they are good for you and I don’t want to be wasteful or make a mess at a fancy dinner.  I love to travel and force myself to follow my map and get lost… then find something neat.  I love to run.  What if I was scared 5 years ago this week when Lucy was FINALLY 6 weeks old and I could work out… I signed up for a couch to 5k class.  I was scared and it was HARD.  I finished and felt a challenge to love to run.  I felt this inside voice saying “you can run a mile!  You can run a 5k! What about 26.2???”  I am so glad I didn’t quit and give up because many are faster than me, more efficient or look better in their fancy running gear and I wear cotton… I am so glad.  Running ‘like a girl’ has saved me.  I run like me… I put a mental push in it and finish, it is my medicine, my social hour, my brain clean… my favorite way to see the world.  A long run becomes an adventure with weird roads and challenges to see how far I can push me.  I could never have done these things back then, back when I let the world make me think I was funny looking, slow or ‘like a girl’.  I am a girl… I can dissect a rat or mouse like no one you have ever known, I can take care of emergencies and blood and be calm, I can hike to a pond and catch frogs… I like bugs and earthworms… love playing in the dirt… I also can multitask, create a meal for my girls with barely any ingredients, love ‘love actually’, I LOVE GETTING FANCY…  I love to craft and sew…

I cross a lot of gender boundaries.  I am sure we all do.  Who cares… do it because you love it and you feel it and you are you- not because you are a girl or a boy.  Imagine all we miss when we say no or let people define for us… I am glad for what I am and where I am right here and now.  I am glad I am bold and more confident.  I hope my girls never listen or let those things steal confidence or experiences.  I guess it is in my court and yours to build and help support those things.  It is in our court to raise confident, bold, compassionate, independent children who know who they are, what they love and own it…

#runlikeagirl

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… and though she be little she is fierce.

though she be but little

… so a long time ago, or maybe not that long ago, I would have seen this quote and thought about a spunky little girl who loves to get her own way.  Ohhhh… how life changes.

I see these words on plaques or in conversation and think of Ayven.

I think of a lot of kids, and the different way I see and know the word fierce now.  What once popped out in my brain as a way to describe a spunky kid who loves to stand up for what they believe and get their own way- I now see fighters, strong, brave and bold kids who endure treatments that were studied and created for adult size bodies with very different types of tumors.  I now see little ones with no hair and big scars… tubies and tired and happy and pale… hoping to get home for the next holiday or birthday, heck hoping to get home to their sisters or brothers for some love and normal.  Gone are the days of thinking of just spunky and creative types- but instead I have entered into Awareness of Childhood Cancer and blastomas, gliomas, sarcomas… chemo, radiation, surgery, trials… NED, remission and stages… all words I didn’t really think of before I entered this world of childhood cancer, mortality and fierce children and families.  I don’t just sit and think about the mortality and need for change- I see the good too.  I see parents snuggling their kids and loving them, getting to know them more than others get to know theirs.  I see families get stronger and fight and understand life more.  I see communities support, people gain faith and friends learn to be really great friends.  I see the fight, the battle, the hurt, the struggle and the fear… but there is a lot of amazing that surrounds those hards.  I see a world that is becoming more aware and moving in a direction to take care of those families- and change this.  I see a world that is starting to change and learn and lower the number of families who hear the words “your child has cancer”.  I see changes coming.  I hate the losses that have happened, they are unchangeable.  I know that Madeline’s journey was what it was… it wasn’t rewritable or changeable.  I know that she is ok… I know that she wants us to share her journey, fight for change and help the world see and be better.

ayven

I see Ayven and her sisters… playing, loving, reading, running, learning, living, laughing, growing and changing… and I see her fierce, her fight, her happy.  She is one strong, brave and amazing girl.  God has big plans for Ayven and her sisters.

Today is Ayven’s Best Day Ever… her big party to celebrate being chemo and medicine free.  Today is all about her journey and fight, her bond with her sister’s… her special and amazing support.  Today is about her family.  I am so excited and honored that we go to plan this and help them celebrate her health and fierce personality.  Today is like a little gift from Madeline to help Ayven and her family enjoy their journey.  Today is going to ROCK!!!!!  The sun is shining, the tents are up, the bounce guy should be there soon and the cake looks a-freakin’-mazin’.  It will be a Best Day Ever… a day of memories and fun for Ayven and her family and friends…

So go out… and help us change this.  Help us create a knowledgeable world to help fix this crazy cancer world… share, spread, change.  #stepup

 

*update* today was amazing, best.party.ever.  There were ponies, pictures, pasta, chickens, goats, ice cream trucks… bounceing and cake.  Seriously best.day.ever.  So many came to celebrate and enjoy and share… to show Ayven and her family that life is good and full and they are surrounded…

ayven bde

 

Life Happens, just the way it is supposed to…

Yesterday was our 3rd Annual Madeline Father Daughter Tea Party… and it was lovely.  It was a A LOT of work, but it was perfect.  I love that day.  It is so positive and happy… it feels so Madeline and what she was to me and to many.  It is the epitome of enjoying time and being together as a family.  I am so proud and happy and still feel the high from yesterday.

I got in the car after and started a little adventure to Baltimore and DC… to see my little sister and to attend Cure Search Action Days… a childhood cancer advocacy seminar and meetings.  I am excited.  I am nervous, but mostly excited.  I feel like I am on a little journey… a little break.  I guess this is how I do ‘breaks’ with something positive and focused… to heck with spending my time doing nothing.  One day of doing nothing and I am fried… too much work to do nothing and fill my brain with nothing.  I am currently sitting in a Panera, while Molly does her test on base, waiting to get dropped at the train station.  I am sitting all.by.myself working on emails and composing some thoughts…

Last night in the car ride, I had this feeling that this whole life has happened just the way it was supposed to.  I sometimes get that feeling.  I don’t know if it is God’s way to remind me that He has got this… that He already knew this would happen, that it was all written in my story before I was born.  When I stop to think that this is already written it puts so much into perspective… to think that I was may have made mistakes or said words I hate or shared something or broken down to Matthew and felt weak… but it was already written that way.  God is right there to know what happened, and better yet to have known beforehand that He would need to scrape me off the floor that day, He knew He was have to put it in Amelia’s heart after seeing her mom in a tank and underwear for a couple days being upset, to make her mom get dressed up.  He is right there when I break down or react to something and feel like a failure… He is there to send in the knowledge or confidence or friend to reassure me that it is natural or real… it is good to let it out.  He is there in the run I go on and mentally let A LOT of mad out.  He is reminding me to run, workout, take care of myself… He is there sending Lucy to my lap when I am just very, very sad… He already knew I would be sad at.that.moment.

Does this ever blow your mind?  Most of the time I can not wrap my head around it… I can’t understand, wholly… but I know and have this faith that I am only supposed to partly understand sometimes.  In moments like last night, sitting in the car for 6 hours (plus… I happened to get lost in New Jersey)…. feeling like not only am I right in the spot I am supposed to be, but more that this is exactly how it was supposed to be.  I know that for Madeline too… that her life was never meant to be long… that February 8 was written in her journey.  I never doubt that God was right next to her preparing her and carrying her… maybe even scraping her off the floor in a moment of doubt (however that could look for a young child)… I know He was there.  I know He is always here… He is ever present in those moments that something is so clear to me.  I feel, very strongly, that those are the moments He brings me back to faith and life and living and letting go… He also brings me back to grabbing on, trying new things and being better at so many things.  I feel that He has helped me become a better mom in this, more patient and more loving… more clear and also helped me let go of some of the control.

So… life happens.  It always will, until it doesn’t, I guess.  I believe, with all of me, that it happens just how it is supposed to.  I hate some of the choices others have made, but they were written in their journey as well.  I have made mistakes… I think the best part for me is I know that even when I am at my worst, this journey was written, God is right there.  He is hoping I see his blessings, Hoping I forgive others and myself… He is hoping I hold fast to faith and share… He is hoping that I chose to know and understand the gift in Him already knowing the outcome.  So here I am, taking that chunk of moments yesterday, and carrying it with me.  I want to remember the feeling and simple peace I felt yesterday.  I want to be brought back to knowing that every part of this life was written, He is already ready to carry, push, scrape, encourage… I just need to make sure I am listening and letting it all enter and change me.

I love this song, might have posted it before.  This is the one that got me thinkin’…

Sometimes… life is bootcamp

Seriously.  As I sit in my hammock, at the end of a Tuesday (shocked that it is ONLY Tuesday)… I think I should look like this:

hammock1

But really looking and feeling a lot more like this:

hammock2

AHHHH!!!  Man I am tired.  I am yawning and slow and hot and tired.  This morning was boot camp… a good, hard work out.  I always love it, hate it, loath it, beg for it… NEED it.  It is the beat the crap out of my body, tire out my brain and catch up with my favorite, crazy and strong women.  It is a rock in this journey, more than an outlet.

I left the YMCA to head to the bank, to cash a check, start a savings account, talk about accounts for the girls and fix my online banking… then post office and gas… then home for laundry, tea party work, Maddie’s Mark emails, event work, swag bag prep… etc.etc.etc.  (spoken like the characters on Seinfeld).  Then today was swim lessons and home for dinner, play, hot tub, gardening and work on an article… I am tired.  Stinking tired.

I think boot camp is easier that life.  There I said it.  Nina and Christine must work harder, because there is no heavy back pack, gallon of water carrying, sprinting, squatting… etc.etc.etc. that can kick this life in the butt.  This week is always nuts.  I am feeling it bigger this year… I haven’t had a moment to think about the fact that I should have an 8 year old next week.  I haven’t gotten to my sad or heavy thinking Madeline should be starting (or already started) her ‘teeth are too big, body is lanky, hair is everywhere’ awkward stage.  I don’t even get the awkward stage with her… just the baby, toddler and lovely kid stages.  I know it will come next week and I will sit in it, relish it, love it, hate it and feel the hurt.  This week is just to busy.  This boot camp of a life has put off some of that… to get through the hurdles, sprints, squats, picnic table lifts and burpees that this time of year puts in front of me.

What, you wonder, does one of these hurdles, burpees or squats look like?  Last week my middle daughter moved up to second grade… tomorrow my youngest little tom boy graduates from preschool… next week I should have an eight year old… the tea party I planned for my daughter the moment I named her is now a way to remember her and share her… a way to give her sisters and friends a gift from her every year… crazy how that happened.

Tomorrow Lucy graduates.  She is my little Lucy-bean-butter-butt-head… she is my itty bitty musto chick… now she’s not.  Ugh.  I love seeing her grow and take it in and think about it all.  I love her.  I laugh a lot when she’s around.  She and Amelia are infectious when they laugh and play.  I tell her stop growing- she tells me “I can’t God just keeps giving me just one more day” and I ask her what I will do next year, she says “come have lunch with me every day and look at my picture lots mommy”.  I will miss my trusty sidekick.  I will miss drop offs… her teachers have been a part of our family for five years… through growing, changing, biting, living, dying, separating and divorcing… all of it.  What will I do with out them?  I can’t think about it all now… this is enough boot camp for the day.  There is always tomorrow to do more hurdles, squats and sprints… tonight I need some sleep and lots of hydration (and some wine…)

lessons from the dentist…

So today I got my two first cavities filled… I am 32 and I had cavities (this morning)… There are two sides to this- one that is glad and proud that I made it this far sans cavities the other that is taking this as a lesson.

Last year I had Strep 3 times.  I was basically sick with Strep for 3 months.  Generally my immune system rocks… but last year it was not up to par.  I vowed to take better care of my immune system this year- and didn’t get Strep.  This year I had two cavities they found at a routine cleaning.  In a life with no cavities, it is very sad to get one (let alone two) when you are 32.freakin.years.old.  Honestly, I should have made it to at least 36 or something like that… I believe that these past two years have taken a bigger toll on my body and health than I notice.  I am sure I have gained wrinkles, lost sleep, eaten poorly and many times just gotten by in survival mode.  At times during this I have lost significant amounts of hair, which my little sister has helped me find ways and cuts to camouflage.  I have not been the best at flossing and brushing and maintaining a good strict dental routine… I had missed routine six month visits to avoid seeing the office we used to go to.  I love to talk about Madeline, but there it felt very much like something was missing.  So I avoided… I didn’t (still forget) to take my vitamins.  I am just not as up on taking great care of me.  I need to be.  I need to sleep more and boost my immune system, I need to relax more… because I never let myself… I need to take my vitamins and maintain wellness so I don’t get bugs, Strep and other sickness.  I need to floss often and take better care of my teeth.  I need to put leave in conditioner in my hair, and always (ALWAYS) remember sunscreen on my face and neck (that reminds me I am out…) and to use an eye cream.  I don’t like feeling icky, tired and not well.  I know that parts of grief are exhausting and show as those things…. but I believe part of it is taking care of me and being healthier to deal and feel.

I don’t want to be on this earth forever, I have said all along that when my time comes I am outta here.  I can not wait for a super hug and a giggly, raspy girl telling me she loves me.  I don’t want that time to be soon and hurt Amelia and Lucy more… and I don’t want to cut my living short by not taking care of my life and health.  I want to be able to sky dive on my last birthday on earth… even if I am stuck here until I am 90.  I want to walk around with my grandkids and chase them and take them on vacations… I want to enjoy life.

I must take better care of me to get to be a healthy, fun and energetic old lady who ALWAYS sports bright red lipstick and noodle jewelry… I want to still work out and drink coffee with my chicks at the Y after we take chair yoga and see all the young moms and remember (not put down) how hard those times were and how amazing it is to look back.  I want to enjoy living while I am still here alive.

So… long story short… I would like to thank Dr Perrino for all those lessons today.  While he was busy drilling and numbing me I was learning, or better yet, being reminded of a super important life lesson- floss and sky dive.

Silly me… don’t be so cocky.

Saturday morning I was up and at ‘um early for a nice slow long run with a great friend.  Then I headed home to mow the yard… my not-so-favorite job that seems to just take up time going from one side of the yard to the other.  It’s such a darn chore… I cut grass and the whole time I think “there are 3 other things to get to before I can get into my hammock or sit and catch up on articles or play with the girls…”  I am definitely not an enjoyer of mowing- though I do love the outcome and how great the yard looks all manicured and cut and very green- plus it is easier to find and pick up dog poop in a yard that doesn’t have a jungle of grass.

So… I was mowing, thinking ‘I got this… I got this…’ My yard looks great, my landscaping looks healthy and pretty and now my grass will look good too.  My neighbor across the street was out working on his motorcycle.  My lawn mower started making a weird slow down sound, then ran out of gas.  I had some blushed cheeks for feeling like a butthead running out of gas in the front yard, but I played cool and took care of things.  I am one of those people who must not maintain a silence… so I ask Mark what he was up to.  I told him I hate mowing… and he asked where Matt was.  I told him Matt had an apartment and we were separated.  I told him all bold and like my 3 year old stubborn niece Payton- “Don’t worry though, I can do it myself… all  by myself”.  I told him to have a great day at the motorcycle thing and started mowing again.  The mower started making weird noises, the motor was all up and down in sound and didn’t sound healthy… I turned it off.  I was blushing again… and jokingly said something about the lawnmower… grrr…. something like that.  He stood wanting to come over and check it out.  I was obviously stressed and embarrassed and worried- half the front was mowed the other half was a jungle.  In a moment I thought shit can I buy a new lawn mower… can I borrow one, where do I get this one fixed… ugh.  Mark piped up “I don’t want to come help until you ask…”

BOOM.

Erin was cocky and though Mark was kind of joking, he was honest.  I was all “I can do it myself” and needed help.  I got one of those lessons we sometimes earn… the kind the kick us in the butt and remind us to not get too proud of ourselves and our goals and actions and now… think and use humility.  I needed to be humbled a little bit- to stand in my lovely yard that I (mostly) did ‘all by myself’ and step back and ask for help.  It was a note to self moment… I will keep making those little note to selves… and hopefully will stay in check.  I will also hope to bug Matthews Father or my dad to help me and look at the mower this week.  Who knows… I might have to borrow Mark’s mower again.  There is always next week to do it “all by myself”…

… even the cockroaches are getting divorced!?!?!?!?!

cockroach1

So, Lucy’s 5th birthday was a few weeks ago and I was faced with trying to find a good and cool gift that wasn’t expensive and hopefully wasn’t a toy that needed a new home and didn’t get played with.  I remembered a friend I met at the 1/2 Marathon I ran, who is a bio teacher, offering some hissing cockroaches… and thought- Lucy would love those.  I messaged her and she had them sent to us.  When the box arrived Lucy was ecstatic and was nearly jumping waiting to open it- telling me “I get my very own pet!!!!  I get hizzing cockwoaches.  I get my very own pet!!!”.  She welcomed them with boldness and love.  We set up their habitat and then took them out of their container.  She watched them for a few minutes and named them Jake and Gabriella- a married couple.

The days following she was a great pet owner (still is actually).  She helped remember water and put a piece of fruit in the morning.  She helped them and stared at them.  The girls were enthralled with the way they feel (smooth) and the sticky bottoms on their legs to climb any.thing.they.can.  I have been happy because they are literally the easiest pets to maintain.  That is until…

We found out yesterday that Lucy was right.  I knew when I opened the box that really there was only a Jake and Jake or Gabriella and Gabriella… the box said they had been sexed before sent.  Lucy insisted though, saying things like “Mom, Gabriella is the mom she likes to sleep in and take naps…”  (honestly I don’t know where she gets that idea of a mom)… Anyway back to the important facts… yesterday we went to Jake and Gabriella out of the cage and the mulch was moving.  I realized the mulch was full of antennae… little itty bitty cockroach antennae.  I thought to myself- Lucy was totally right, followed by ‘what the heck am I going to do?’.  The girls and I had a meeting to go to for Myle’s of Smyles playground, so I covered the cage with foil (with holes in it, of course) and reminded myself I would take care of it when we god home.  The whole ride I was slightly terrified that we would come home to a house over taken by baby cockroaches (nymphs…).  I jetted home from the meeting with a plan, to ‘send the babies back to the bio labs’ and separate Jake and Gabriella.

cockroach2

I gave the nymphs the kindest home I could, I made a new home for Gabriella (Tupperware with holes) and put Jake back in the house.  The two of them were very hissy last night… apparently birthing about 150 babies makes one cranky, whodathunkit ;)???  I realized that Jake and Gabriella got separated last night… not so voluntarily but the future is definitely not together.  I thought it was ironic that the married couple Lucy created these silly stories for- ended up divorced (or I guess involuntarily separated for the good of mankind and Rotterdam).  I was kind of sad for them… and the girls- to know that their little critter married family ended up like ours (kind of…).  I am going to take solace in knowing that Lucy still loves Gabriella and Jake, and is darn glad they haven’t been so freakin’ hissy today…