Walk the Line

running-woman[1]Most mornings I like to get up early and go for a run. I love the quiet of that time of day, when all three children are snuggled in their beds and the sound of my husband’s slight snore lets me know that I have a few moments of solace before the mayhem of the day begins.

The morning chill greets me as I open the door to the day, a quick thought of, “do I really want to do this when I could be warm in bed?” crosses my mind. Quickly, I shake off the thought and head out to the road. Now I could tell you I am entranced by the bird’s morning song or the grey glow that surrounds me, announcing the sunrise. But no, I have one focus. To get running and get home to a steaming hot cup of coffee.

It’s the first few strides that are the hardest, then I get in my groove and get a rhythm. My initial disdain for this task turns to enjoyment as my feet pound the pavement.

I am one of those runners that makes you laugh. I don’t look like the women in the Nike commercials, long strides, glowing completion, beads of sweat falling perfectly around their temples. My face starts to look like the color of a ripe tomato, my mouth is open and I look down at the ground for the better part of my run. Not a pretty sight, I know.

That morning was no different from the others, head down, focused on getting one of my “to do’s” checked off but I began to notice something. As I ran along the side of the road, my feet always landed on the white line. I kept on with my pace and saw that I continued to do this up and down hills and even when the ground went flat. When I strayed from this path I felt uncomfortable and went back to what I knew.

And there it was, that morning I realized that my entire life has been spent playing it safe, walking the line. Taking chances makes my stomach turn. I’ve done pretty well living safely and under the radar not calling too much attention to myself. Rock climbing and spelunking were things that I had to do because of school trips, not by any choice of my own. I couldn’t understand why people did these things for fun.

Becoming a mother also led me to believe that I had to be conservative and cautious and that my focus had to be on my children, so I shelved my dreams and took on the diapers. But now my children are older and wanting to take chances of their own. At 9, 7 and 4 they are daring and fearless, something that I have never been and I find myself hoping that some of that rubs off on me.

My feet have always been on that line, doing what I think I am supposed to do instead of what I feel called to do. But I have started to notice that I am being drawn to the other side of that line, the side that isn’t so safe and predictable; where you could end up slipping and falling in the ditch because the road isn’t so even and stable. I have found that this makes my heart pound harder and my head swim and my knees shake a bit but I have also found that I love that feeling.

Not following that line has afforded me some incredible opportunities one of which was taking a trapeze lesson on a team building trip for work. I don’t do heights. The second floor of a mall, coming down an escalator, glass elevators all make me want to throw up. But I had to do this…I mean it was for work, I don’t think I would have been fired for not jumping off a platform and flying 20 feet above ground but I couldn’t risk it.

So I suited up in my harness and climbed the 5 flights of stairs (which seemed like five hundred) to the platform where a boy, yes he was tens of years younger, was going to hold onto my harness and keep me safe. Now I have given birth three times, that is scary in and of itself but there were “things” in place to keep me calm. Yes drugs. I said it. I am not a warrior mom who pops that baby out and is booming around in fancy p.j.’s an hour later. Not me. I do not like pain or heights. There now you know two of my weaknesses.

I shared my fear with him (like so many before me had) and he just smiled and said “When I say ready it’s not a question.” What the hell does that mean? I found out quickly it meant “when I say ready you are going to go even if I have to kick your feet out from under you.” And so he did. And I soared and almost soiled myself. But I did it and with a little trick to boot. And I went back up the five hundred, I mean five flights of steps and did it again. I shook like a leaf every time and I was sweaty and looked awkward and so not pretty.

That day I stepped off the line. I still try to step off that line every now and again because sometimes the risk of falling in a ditch is one I am willing to take.



I Need A Hero

Kevin Bacon being the "Hero"

Kevin Bacon being the “Hero”

I remember when Footloose was released, the 1984 version with Kevin Bacon and his oh, so cool, bad hair. This movie about a boy who danced in a town where dancing was against the law was quite an odd story line but for some reason I was drawn to it. Besides all the great music and dancing it evoked a feeling of hope, that one person can change things. One person really can make a difference.
One of my favorite parts was when Kevin Bacon was challenged by “a big guy in a cowboy hat” (who looked nothing like any of the high school boys I had ever seen) to play a game of chicken with two large tractors. At the time it seemed, well, daring and exciting. My almost forty year old self now looks at it as a very (and I am using a word that is forbidden in our home) stupid thing to do. Nonetheless, Kevin Bacon accepted the dare and won, though it was not due to his courage but a shoelace that got caught on the tractor petal, not allowing him to jump from his perch. During this entire scene the song “I Need a Hero” blared from the speakers. Bonnie Tyler belted out this fiery tune where she was in search of someone to save the day; Kevin Bacon did just that. Not on a trusty steed but on a large farm tractor in a fictional town called Bomont, Utah.
Thinking about that scene now, I laugh but then I was memorized. This character was a hero to the kids in that town. They had lived under a system that allowed them few freedoms and then, here comes this big city guy who shows them that it can be different. That they can change things, that they can make a difference. I think that’s what we’re all still looking for these days.
A while ago, I overheard a conversation between an older man and a grocery clerk. The older man was saying what this country lacked was heroes, that his generation was filled with them and this one this one had a bit to be desired. At the time I got to thinking that he was right and it made me a bit sad to think that I was raising children in a “hero-less” society. But the more that I thought about it the more I disagreed with his statements.
Hero is defined by Wikipedia as “characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self-sacrifice—that is, heroism—for some greater good of all humanity.” After reading this I realized that the old man in the grocery store must have not been paying too much attention to anyone around him because I had a list of hero’s that came to mind. They are everywhere.
They don’t all have a red cape or a giant “S” on their chest. They don’t carry a golden lasso of truth or wear gold cuff bracelets that deflect bullets (Wonder Woman, my personal favorite). Most heroes don’t believe they deserve this title because they were just doing the right thing, stepping up and paying attention. There are so many that will never be recognized for their courage and valor but maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Then, they will live to fight another day and not in the limelight and scrutiny of the public at large.
So many, who achieve this title, end up going down in flames because after all of the parades and interviews they are exposed for who they really are, human. Are we so starved for someone to save the day, that when they do, we are forced to find something wrong with them to make ourselves feel better for not stepping up like they did? Don’t we all have a skeleton or two in our closet that we would like to keep hidden?
Sure, times have changed but has the core good in people slipped away? Not by my account. They are out there, some more obvious than others, but they are there.
If you look for them you won’t find them, kind of like searching for a four leaf clover, you just come across it. And maybe, instead of looking to catch someone else in the act we should attempt to get caught in a heroic act of our own.

The Summer of the Dragonfly

Sweet Isabella

Sweet Isabella

Catching up on the lives of my Facebook friends this morning, I came across a post that I felt needed to be shared.

Many of you may know that my family and I have been touched by a little girl named Isabella Santos whose battle with neuroblastoma ended last year. Her fight was worthy and noble, all I can say is that I was proud to know her even though I never met her.

Today, her Mom Erin posted her first blog http://summerofthedragonfly.com/ for this reason…

“This simple blog is just my brain dump. I started this so that I can survive every day and continue to get out of bed. Some days the blog will be about Isabella and some days it will be about a good turkey sandwich I ate. So bear with me kids… Not sure what I’m really doing yet.” – Erin

Erin is a beautiful writer, raw and true and you feel her emotions grip your heart and soul. So, please take a moment to read her words…you will see where Isabella got her strength, determination and desire to overcome.



The Scent of the Violet

Blog Violet

Turning forty was magical for me. I didn’t go on any fancy trips or have a big elaborate party (though my Mom did take the kids for the weekend). It marked the point where I had finally let myself let go and get up and move on from a lot of “baggage” I was carrying around. I stopped feeling like I had to keep up with the Joneses and started inviting the Joneses to my smaller, messier and comfortable home. I allowed myself to stop apologizing for everything and saved the “I’m sorry’s” for the things that really mattered. I started to show up for me, in addition to everyone else.
The “I’m sorry’s” turned into “my stories”. Instead of apologizing all the time for my imperfect self and the behavior of my three children (who tend to save all their energy for trips to the grocery store) I write about them. My therapy, I guess. Hopefully it lets others know that they are not alone in their quest to raise children while keeping a clean house and establishing world peace. In that exact order.
One of the biggest reliefs was realizing that I am not a judge and I am not a jury. It is not my job to decide what is right and wrong in other people’s lives. I need to do my best doing what I do and hope that, at the end of the day, my head can rest peacefully on my pillow. Everyone has a mess somewhere in their lives, maybe it’s clean now but somewhere along the line, there was some tidying up to do. Or there will be. We’ve all got some dust in our corners.
This journey into forty has been quite a ride and through it all God has been there to help me navigate. Sometimes I have chosen to listen to His direction, other times I have ignored it. Each way has shown me three different but equally important lessons:

  1. His way is much better than anything I could ever come up with.
  2. Assuming always gets me into trouble.
  3. Forgiveness is the most valuable gift that anyone can ever give or receive.

I always thought that I was a forgiving person but lately I have seen that my forgiveness has had conditions attached to it. In its purest sense there are no conditions; forgiveness is a gift that is given freely and has no expectations of anything in return.
So, I have made it my mission, everyday, to try to follow His direction. I fail ALOT. I fall ALOT but I always get back up and forge ahead. You already know what they say about assuming, I have been the first three letters of that word on more than a few occasions so I am working SUPER hard to overcome that one. Most importantly, I am working on forgiveness. Definitely on giving it but also receiving it as well. It is freeing and I feel lighter and better and ready, ready to follow the path that has been determined for me.
It’s not always easy to forgive and be patient with others faults, an unnecessary and rude comment can potentially ruin my day. I can feel my blood begin to boil when I’m behind a 90-year-old lady driving with her hazards flashing, on a two lane street, when I’m late. Fact of the matter is that I have to think beyond those feelings. That person could have been rude because they just lost their job/best friend/wife and that 90 year old lady will be me one day. What she must think when she sees my big, black SUV in her rearview mirror? Right on her tail. I can’t imagine.
There are some things in life that appear to be unforgivable. These take more time, more prayer and a lot of grace. We all have this ability in us. It’s like working out…you are not going to have those fabulous triceps with one day of lifting ten pound weights while watching The Real Housewives. But you will start to see the changes, little by little, if you stick with it.

Here, my purpose is to share forgiveness and hopefully help others discover some of their own. Mark Twain said that “forgiveness is the scent of the violet on the heel that crushed it.” So, Violet Heels seemed like an appropriate title for this blog…that and the fact that I have a very scary obsession with shoes.
I hope to make you realize that you are not alone in this quest to raise a family, it takes a village.  Remember, there is no room for judgment, especially for those of us whose daily attire consists of a fleece pullover and yoga pants and whose four-year-old thinks it’s cool to dress himself.