Finding Fit.

Lately I have been in a bit of a downward spiral… you know the kind that you are mad at yourself for being less healthy and your ankle for being sore… so you eat more or grab onion rings to top off that icky self-anger. Hence the spiral… feel bad about being in this spot, eat more and make the spot harder to leave… be mad I ate bad and mad I missed the Y and be self-destructive in my choices after. It doesn’t make sense, but I do it anyway. I think lots of us do, so I guess I don’t feel so lonely in this. I am working hard to get out of this spiral- to leave it behind and just move forward and get healthier.

I don’t normally see myself as a heavy person, just a solid one. So I am discouraged when I look in the mirror and see myself so heavy. I think it is a product of the heavy of the past couple years catching up, maybe mixed with lots of fun nights out or take out instead of cooking. The year after Madeline died I swear I forgot how to cook, because thankfully dinnertime would come and there was something amazing (usually Italian and loaded with cheese) in the cooler. I am grateful for that, since my brain often forgot dinner. Then a semblance of normal came and I cooked (and thankfully like riding a bicycle it came back). I feel like it is a rollercoaster of normal and messy… and I seem to fail hard in the messy times. I would ALWAYS rather go out to dinner for chicken parm and wine, always. I would ALWAYS choose nachos and a big Blue Moon over a night in with no kids. I need to commit to much less of that, to making myself be home. I am committing to cooking and prepping and eating healthy, not giving into the easy. I really am.

I used to be fit. I mean like very fit. I was not skinny at all, but I could run 26.2 miles or 18.12 miles and still be alive (albeit a little dehydrated and sore). I trained and pushed and ran, I made myself do it alone and with friends. I set goals for myself and I achieved them. I did boot camp and spin and yoga and kickboxing… anything to be across the board fit. I felt good about me. I was strong, pretty and committed. I miss that. I miss the feeling of doing a quick 5 and getting on with the day, of that salty feeling after a good run on a hot day. I miss the way it felt to get up a big hill, pushing and trying to not slow down at all. I miss the conversations with my ladies, the brain cleaning we did. I miss how strong I felt. I need to find her again, that strong Erin… the one the tackles Grant Hill and then continues for another few miles shedding the weight of life with a friend or two. I miss the power I felt when I pushed myself harder and did speed work, even though I hated it. I will find her again…

I know that we are all our own worst enemies, we just are. We let ourselves down all.of.the.time. I feel tired and mad and weak, but I need to work out of the spiral and use that tired/mad/weak to push harder for old me. I need to be kind to myself when I fail. This is a hard one for me. I remember the morning I was due for a 21 miler and we were on vacation on Pillar Point. I had mapped out the route and planned to leave very early in the morning. I got up and stood in the road; it was pitch black. There are no street lights in the country… but I moved on. I was scared by deer snorting as they walked by in the dark to get water from the lake. Finally the sun came up and it was beautiful… the chill went away and I kept moving. I got into my good breathing and chugging. I came across a memorial for a beautiful girl and stood there. I felt a pile of sadness for that family… and I cried. I could not catch my breath well after that, I struggled mentally to continue… scared I couldn’t finish. I called Matt and had him pick me up. I made it 17 miles that day, 17 whole miles and I chalked it up to none. I was so mad at myself that I failed on the 21 that I repeated the next weekend and pretended those 17 didn’t happen. I think back to that Erin who could freakin’ run 17+ miles and I want to smack her. I want to tell her to be kind to herself… but I just have to learn from it. I have to remember that 40 and 50 and 60 year old me want to look back and be proud I was kind to myself- and that I kept my body fit. They totally want me to use sunscreen all.the.time and floss 2 times a day. I know, I know… they are asking a lot. I need to get myself more fit and more me so that those older Erin’s are proud of me. I want them to be all excited that my skin is nice and firm and that my teeth don’t need dental work. They want me to move and run and stay active so that older Erin can do that as well…

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think big too soon. I know I can run a marathon, I know I am mad I am not in that place… but I want to start with workouts that marathoners are doing. It is silly. So I am kind of starting over… setting my goals smaller so I don’t fail every day. The other day, with my injured ankle I did a new elliptical workout, one with sprints and intervals. It was awesome and pushed me to follow the directions and keep myself accountable. I got to the end and saw that on the elliptical I completed a 5k in under 34 minutes. I did that same distance in 33 minutes today. I am so relieved that I can do a 5k that I keep pushing to do it better. I imagine committing and moving and pushing will get me to a place that my 5k is better and my body is more fit. For today, I jumped off the machine, trying not to puke feeling VERY glad I could tackle a 5k… just a 5k.

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In this journey I try to keep a good sense of humor and understanding that nothing ever works out as planned. God is a big fan of plans B, C, D and Y. My cousin set me up with a Bitmoji (a little person who looks like cartoon me who says funny things and such that I can text to people). I decided to make mine honest, even though she is a bit lumpy. I love this little app, it is cute and creative. I do however look forward to getting more fit right along with my Bitmoji. I can’t wait until she is less lumpy…

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Ask and Ye shall receive… beans.

It is said that life began in a garden, so I guess it is safe to assume that gardens have lots of life in them today. Mine is doing pretty great right now, not the ones with flowers but the garden with my veggies in it. I hope to grab hold of my green thumb when I grow up and maintain a nice flower garden, but for now I need to put the work in for a product other than peaceful and pretty. I want to weed and see my cucumbers grow, I want to trim basil for dinner and use my peppers for a winter freezer of stuffed peppers. I want to see my investment grow and provide… and I want to someday have enough to give some away. I love it. Gardening has made me appreciate my food more, not letting it go to waste. I get creative with meals to use what we have and I challenge myself to creating cool dishes with only a certain number of ingredients. I guess I am competitive. I have made up some rockin’ good egg dishes or zucchini everything… and cucumbers in all dishes. It is a good lesson in cooking what we have, eating what is in season and not using anything other than dirt and cow poop to grow.

So I was out assessing my garden and pulling some weeds. I noted the few plants the squirrels screwed with and they didn’t grow. I let myself be a tiny bit mad about those awesome little terds, then I kept picking. My tomatoes are looking good, lots of green ones on the plants. My cucumbers are invading my grass, but I can.not.wait for a fresh one to cut up and eat. I was pretty impressed with the amount of green in my little garden, probably due to the HOT and the bits of rain. I found one single bean to pick and bring in. I almost bit it, but thought to save it for dinner or something, you know a little first veggie of the year celebration. I set it on my counter and tried to be glad for only one bean. I wondered what the heck I would do with my one bean, then I headed out for the am to workout and swim at a friend’s house.

I left with my one bean on the counter, and we swam for a while at a friend’s pool… only to get a call to come grab some bags of produce from her garden. She had spent all morning and early afternoon weeding, picking and collecting her grown gifts. I showed up and grabbed the goods- zucchini, cucumbers and beans- many beans. I told her thank you and my friends divvied up the veggies. I came home and put those beans- yellow, green and purple into a bowl and was excited to snip and eat those beans. When I looked at my counter at my lone bean and my beautiful bowl of beans I had this thought “God provides”. I couldn’t do much with my one bean, but a friend gifted me some more and with those we had a healthy meal. I left my house wondering what to do with my one bean and came home with the answer…

I wouldn’t say it was equal to multiplying fish and bread for followers, but it was a little note of significance, a reminder that He provides. He sends in the necessary goods, He gifts you stronger upper body strength (via terrible, awful crutches)… He sends beans to the ‘bean-lackers’. I left with the feeling that my ‘bounty’ was little and I needed to wait it out- and came home with a full bag of ‘bounty’.

For me these moments remind me of the funny in life, of the importance of seeing God’s ways and sense of humor. I see there lil God pokes as reminders He is here always and He is taking care of this pile of Musto Chicks in the ways He sees fit. After this God poke of granting beans… I feel the need to put it out there that we need an Abe Lincoln to come forward and remedy this beautiful country. Who knows maybe my hope and wonder aligns with His for once….

Sister’s Club

It all started with summer reading… I am bound and determined to keep the girls reading and writing this summer. Part of this is selfish, I love going back through the journal of what we did and see the little drawings. I wonder if Lucy will start spelling better, but then I really hope she doesn’t. I love, love, love the mixed up words. Most days the girls get their books out and read for about half an hour.

The other day Amelia got an idea in her head to turn the little front nook into their reading area. We were of course out and about when she got the idea, and it filled her afternoon wanting to go home and decorate it. She even pulled the vacuum out and cleaned the little room… it was impressive. She fished around for cute containers to claim, pulled their bean bags in and loaded up the books and journals. It was a pretty smart move, and has since made this reading goal much more fun and easier.

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Yesterday the girls were in the little nook, with its nice glass door, and they were playing with Legos and laughing. I knew they were up to something because I could hear them using my tape and I was missing mini post it notes. I enjoyed the quiet that the missing post it’s and tape were gifting me. The girls came out with 2 frames labeled “The Sister Club”. They scheduled the week out for them and their space. It made me smile.

I remember when I was young, all of the clubs we created back in the day. I remember working up rule books and creating radio shows, selling painted rocks and racking up the adventures. We would take up the back left corner of our garage and set up desks for the ‘work’ we would do, we would collect things and just hang all day. The girl’s club made me remember this. It made me a bit nostalgic.

On top of the bit of nostalgia back to when I was young and creative and naïve, it made my heart hurt. That little nook, the “Sister’s Club” is small, it is too small. There is a bunch of missing in that nook, a missing bean bag, missing 5th grade books, a missing journal full of Madeline’s adventures. It sucks. A club missing 1/3 of my set of sisters. Seeing the words written and knowing what is missing, hurts. I don’t know how to explain the hurt, the pain. It isn’t like a cut or a kidney stone, it isn’t like the pain of finding out your spouse wasn’t honest… it isn’t like delivering a baby. It is more intense and deeper. There is no medicine, no fix. You can try to drug it, drink it, avoid it, forget about it… but it is there and important. The pain is right there in these moments. I don’t even hate that it is, pain reminds me of the missing in a way that normal life can not. “The Sister’s Club” evokes that pain as many other things have, you know the way Joy is laced with pain. I see the happy of my girls and it is laced with missing and lacking a Musto Chick. I smile and cry… right at the same time. I don’t know how else it could be, this journey.

I know that Amelia and Lucy include Madeline in their adventures, all of them. I know she is because it is in the journals and the stories and the games, conversations and wonders. We talk about her all.of.the.time. We talk about Madeline at fireworks and things she misses and we wish she were here for. We wonder what her heaven looks like, and we feel her so often. I know she is in that sister’s club for Monday night sleep overs and Wednesday nights with their dad. I know she sits on my shoulder and plays with her sisters. I know she is right here, I just freakin’ miss her, I miss her so much it hurts.

‘The Sister’s Club’ is a nook full of giggles, play and nail polishing. There have been very few disagreements in that lil’ nook… maybe this sister club is just what we Musto Chicks needed… maybe that sister is guiding all the details and energy…

 

I miss you Nini. You are the best part of me, of so many.

Life Matters. Change Matters.

This world is heavy right now. I feel it is heavier now than usual, or maybe my heart is starting to carry the extra heavy. This weekend I sat surrounded by my family, some I haven’t seen in a very long time. Our Connor Family reunion was this weekend, as it has been for as long as I can remember- 3rd Saturday of July. Back in the day we gathered at my grandparent’s house, right on the corner in the village. My mom is 1 of 15 kids that were handpicked by The Big Guy to be a part of the Connor Clan, yes I really mean 15. Once a year, historically, my family would gather and play together, eat together, laugh together and be right there on the corner that the 15 grew up on. Obviously some years all 15 couldn’t make it, and that is very true today. It has always been a highlight of my year, waiting for mini golf with Uncle Joe and the long summer visit from Aunt Cecelia, Aunt Mary K’s cheesecake, Aunt Kathie Waite’s Annual Tea Party… it was and is a best.weekend.ever. This year we missed some but it was a grand weekend, a tradition I am supremely grateful for. My big Irish (with a little bit of French) family is chock full of police… I mean really full of them. I had to be VERY careful growing up because I knew Uncle Sean or Tim or Peter or… or… or would find out. It is no different now, in those ranks I have cousins and my own brother who took an oath to be the one that runs into chaos to help. While we all run out of chaos and try to get away… those brave ones run in and protect us. If you knew them and sat around a fire and saw them parent their children (of MANY different nationalities) you would see the compassion and love they have to create a world that is safe and full of family reunions and simple adventures. If you could see my brother when his daughter is hurt, you would see the heart of a police officer. It looks a lot like all of ours…

Yesterday I ate and laughed and played and hugged my cousins, uncles, aunts and more who have spent or are spending their time protecting and serving many communities. They are keeping drunk drivers from the roads- thank you. They are responding to domestic disturbances and keeping families safe. They are responding to babies who stopped breathing, to teens who died in car accidents and delivering the news to those parents. They are standing in doorways telling parents that their children are no longer here and knowing how dangerous this world is for their own children. There are some, I am sure, who are not as brave or real or compassionate… but then again there are priests who take advantage of their positions, there are record producers who intimidate and abuse their clients… there are relatives and adults who harm perfect children out of selfishness and… maybe evil. I don’t know. I am sure there are police that are not in it for the same reason, to create a safe place for their children and mine to grow and journey and become…

I also see a world full of media that WANTS to build walls and draw lines and start wars… maybe just for ratings. It seriously doesn’t matter if you love CNN or FOX or MSN or whatever they build stories they want us to see. In a world where amazing and special happen all.of.the.time… they choose to show only controversial and heavy and pile onto people their idea of whatever they want to show (propaganda).

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I don’t give allegiance to ANY movement that breeds violence, but the media LOVES it. I don’t give allegiance to any group that wants to instill hate to create more anger toward a side. There is no side. Instead of talking to a group, ask each and every individual everywhere what they want for the world… what they want for the future… what they want for their children. The answers to these questions show there are no freakin’ sides. We all want the same for our world, our children and our futures. We want our children to grow in a world that is safe and to feel loved. We want a future with a good leader and better relationships in our own countries and with others. We all want a future that is safe for us to get to live life the way it should be- in our own communities with all of our differences. Not one person would say- I want a world of chaos, of crime, of bad leadership, of fear… screw fear.

Sitting with my sister in law the other night, we were talking about some of the rallies locally. She had been invited, but my brother said he feels that a rally to show All Lives Matter would be taken as a target. That people could understand ‘All lives matter’ as Black Lives don’t’ Matter… so he asked her not to go with their children. My heart hurt to hear this, not because my brother is a crazy controlling husband at all, but because he feels his family would not be safe practicing their rights. He feels that people who choose violence over peaceful protesting or rallying creates a place of potential unrest. This huge upset of violence is instilling fear in people… all people. Fear breeds more fear, it breeds more violence. Fear will build a bigger wall and a bigger line and create sides where there should be none. We all want the same things… in the past 2 weeks some moms and dads got delivered the news that their child was gone. I know how much this hurts. I know any police officer I know does not wish this pain on those parents. Many children woke up last week and this morning to the news that their dad or mom was gone. They went to bed wanting the same things as we all do- and woke up without their person. Families were broken last week and this week and my heart hurts for them.

I was not there for those police incidents in Baton Rouge and Missouri. I am not the judge or jury to what happened fully. I do not know how I would have reacted in the situations, but I do know that if I had reacted and a person was dead it would have had nothing to do with race. I hope that these police officers acted the best they knew how in those moments with the clues and movements they saw in that situation. I also know that if they did not act correctly they should be held accountable. We should all be accountable for our actions good and bad. There is no side in that.

I think back to the 60’s and 70’s and see what changed things then… we learn about Martin Luther King Jr and I wish he were here to show us the way (and that Abe Lincoln would come back and run for president). I also know he left us his knowledge and story and work for this very time in our world. We need to look to the ones who did this, who conquered chaos and worked for peace. Violence and chaos will bring violence and chaos- hate breeds hate… Martin Luther King Jr stood at podiums and spoke and led people to not be scared. He stood in front of people when they could have hurt him and eventually they did. His words and ways are a gift in this time… we need to listen and remember. We all want the same things… this is true in our country and others. We need not to live in fear, but to work together, respecting each other until we have shown that we shouldn’t be respected. We are accountable for our own selves. Our character says so much about each of us… how we react to hard situations and hurt show big pieces of our character. Be respectful. Show love. Choose compassion. Let go of anger. Respond with good character… remember we are all made to be just how we were made. We look different, share differently, celebrate differently and see differently, but different is exactly the way we were made.