A Small Success

Yesterday was one of those days PERFECT for the eating of the feelings. I was exhausted after a late night and early morning and several hours out in the sun volunteering at a race. I was stressed because I tried to go into work to catch up on some stuff but technical difficulties thwarted me making me terribly unproductive. I was overwhelmed with my “To Do” list and I dropped the ball on a few things and best of all? I shattered my phone.

So last night I wanted to eat all of the birthday deserts in the world. Which we have plenty of as we had Wes’s birthday celebration here Sunday night.

BUT I DID NOT.

And it felt weird.

I wasn’t perfect, I still ate more snacks than I should have, but I didn’t have any typical Kim binge sessions and I had plenty of opportunities. I even had to make a run to Publix for one thing and typically on a “bad day” that means I buy something terrible and eat too much of it hiding in my van in the parking lot and disposing of the evidence at the park next door before I go home.

Seriously. That’s my thing. I do it often.

Instead I bought exactly what I was supposed to and came home and continued the frequent journeys to the kitchen where I would look at all the deserts, and make some preserves-on-toast instead. Or something more healthy. Like I said, I still snacked when I wasn’t hungry, but I didn’t fall down any of the binge pits I usually do on similar days.

AND IT WAS SO WEIRD.

I just felt off all night because my body/mind had no idea how to feel all of the things I was feeling: exhaustion, stress, sadness, shame – without stuffing my face. It was like my body/mind knows that the release for those feelings is to eat so much I feel sick and without the feeling sick, I just felt like a brimming pot about to boil over. All of the anxiety was bubbling at the surface and nothing was turning down the heat.

That’s why my Grief Recovery Handbook calls it a “Short Term Energy Releasing Behavior” because it changes that energy by replacing it with the energy that binging gives me. And I was unable to find any other ways to disrupt that energy last night. BUT – that’s okay – because while I didn’t figure out a way to cope with the feelings, I didn’t fall back on binging so that’s a step.

(Sidenote Book Review: The book has had a lot of wonderfully helpful things in it – things weirdly only barely related to grieving for my Dad. But the book and my therapist have been great helping me find the cause to struggling with the grief, which has less to do with my Dad dying than I thought. All of that said – the book is a hard read without my therapist there to guide me through it. I’m not sure I would recommend it wholeheartedly unless it was something you were going to work through with a professional. I doubt I would have made it past the first chapter on my own.)

It was weird though, because I thought a lot about smoking. When I used to smoke I would step outside and have a cigarette when I was brimming. Granted – that was 13 years ago – but still, last night? Somewhere in the back of my head a part of me was remembering that. It’s not like I was considering smoking, I would not do that, but there was a part of me remembering that solution to similar days. Which is probably why I was only 108 pounds when I quit smoking. It turns out weight gain was not an issue when my coping mechanism was an appetite suppressant instead of a 6-pack of donuts.

Anyway. It was just a weird night. I tried to unwind by reading a bit and eventually I calmed my brain down enough to sleep, but sleep was restless and I woke up at 2:50am. So last night definitely did not belong in the “Using Food As An Emotional Crutch” category but it also didn’t fall in the “Healthy Coping Skills” category either. But I’ll still celebrate the win. And try to figure out how to shake the super-weird feeling that pervades me when all of my body and emotions seems to think I can’t let go of negative feelings without walking away with an over-full stomach stuffed with unhealthy foods.

Hair.

stephanie-michael-w-00136Nikki had been wanting a drastic haircut since before October, I know that because she knew she had to wait until AFTER the wedding she was in (which was in October) where her hair needed to be long enough to do an Up-Do. (I did her up-do, which I’m super proud of.) Once she started think of something short/fun/drastic she settled in on the Hannah Hart which you can see clearly in the video below where she shows several different ways she can style her hair.

As you can see? That is SUPER-drastic. We talked about it for awhile and Donnie and I both agree that a hair cut like that needed time. It was not an overnight decision, so we opted for just a short hair cut as soon as the wedding was over. This was not immediately following the haircut, but it was a short time after. Short, but not drastic.

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It turned out this was a really good idea because we had forgotten about Pioneer Day in March when we cut her hair in October! The Hannah Hart would have been a tough one to pull off in this outfit. (Made by Donnie’s Mom!)

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Saturday it was time for Wesley to get a haircut and Nikki chimed in, “Can I get the Hannah Hart now?” Now, you know I have no problem with anything funky our outrageous, I just didn’t want her to regret it. So we talked again about how it would be growing it out and we settled on going the HALF-Harto, only shaving one half of her head. She talked to Donnie about it too, we did not let her go into this decision lightly. And then? She did it.

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I want to document this haircut as much as possible because I have very little documentation of my undercut and I hate that I can’t show it off to the kids.

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Everyone needs at least one No Regrets haircut to look back on, one that you have to talk yourself out of regretting because you KNOW there’s going to be a part of you (whether it’s when it’s growing out, or the next day) that might regret it. You have to talk that part of yourself out of regretting it so the rest of you can live it up with one funky haircut. I love thinking back to mine and I know she’ll love thinking back to hers.

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Forcing Casual Amidst The Awkward

My entrance into puberty was interesting (to say the least) as I was going through it all being predominantly raised by a man. A man who was raised on a farm which tended to keep him a little behind on the social norms and made him very awkward around anything even remotely taboo. But even things like slumber parties always perplexed. Not just that they existed, but how invitations were exchanged and why I always came home basically hung over and unable to function. So something personal and inherently awkward like puberty, was a challenge.

Once I got past the “training bra” stage, Dad would basically just give me a credit card at the mall or at Target and let me buy my own under garments. This was actually kind of fun because I got to buy pretty stuff when some people had Moms buying their bras and therefore stuck to the boring white/beige colors.

When I got my first period, my Dad had a serious girlfriend. The only serious girlfriend he ever had. I started my period on a weekend I was at my Moms house, but my Mom obviously told my Dad. And my Dad told his girlfriend. And she thought we should celebrate, so I found myself eating at Red Lobster with a big group of people, basically celebrating my period which I thought was MORTIFYING. I mean, as an adult? The story is hilarious. Especially the part where we told them it was my birthday so they made me wear a lobster hat and sang to me and the entire time I’m thinking, “I GOT MY PERIOD. STOP SINGING TO ME.”

But as an adult? That story is one of my favorites to tell. There is photographic evidence of this night somewhere but I can’t find one…YOUR LOSS.

In our house now? We talk about puberty constantly. I feel like if we keep open conversations early on, it will never be awkward like it was with my Dad. I never felt comfortable asking for tampons or pads at the store so I would get my friends to bring me some of theirs. I tried to rotate friends so I didn’t put that burden all on one person, but I never asked my Dad. IT WAS TOO WEIRD. Once I was finally old enough to drive, I would get my own which made life MUCH EASIER.

So we openly talk about it all in our house. We talk about periods and erections and bras and pubic hair and I try to keep it as casual as possible. I read something a long time ago that said when you’re kids ask questions that make you uncomfortable, have the conversation in the car. That was never a deliberate decision on my part, but it’s the way it always works. I think my kids are as aware of how much easier those conversations are when we’re not making eye contact, so they always ask the tough questions when we’re driving places. Like, “Mom, can you get pregnant by touching a boy’s penis? So-in-so says you can.”

We had already had the sex talk due to a similar question once before. (I’m sorry to break this to you, but if your kids go to a big school where they interact with older kids, there’s a really good chance they’ll come home long before you’re ready with questions like those.) So, we rehashed it. I don’t flower it up and say, “When a man loves a woman…” I’m just clinical about it. We use words like “penis” and “vagina” and “sperm” and “egg.” When they say, “Gross!” I say, “I promise you won’t think that forever. It will be pretty appealing after you go through puberty and you start thinking about thinks like who you want to kiss.”

But I do my best to never let them know I feel awkward, because I feel like that’s why it was obvious uncomfortable with my Dad. It could not have been more obvious how awkward he felt. He never really even had the “sex talk” with me, although he did buy me an academic book about sex for my 16th birthday. Which, if you knew my Dad, was a perfect reflection of his character.

Hence the open conversations in our house constantly. Recently, one of my kids asked how they would know if they were gay. Funnily, they both have hinted at really wanting to be gay, because the person they love the most in the world is gay and so, you know, they want to be just like him. But we talked about urges, and how when they go through puberty those urges will will help them sort out more who they find attractive. I also joke about how it would be great if they were attracted to boys and girls because then they have twice as many options for romantic relationships. I also openly tell them how if life had gone differently, I could easily see having a wife instead of a husband because I find women just as attractive as I find men. We just keep all of those conversations casual, which is the key. If I don’t act like it makes me uncomfortable? Then hopefully they’ll never feel awkward asking me the tough questions.

But it’s difficult, because most of the time I’m terribly uncomfortable. I’m a prude. I’m modest. I don’t like talking about bodily functions. I don’t like being naked, even around my husband. My terrible reproductive past of ruining clothing by hemorrhaging meant I couldn’t hide that part of my life from my husband, BUT LORD IF I WANTED TO. I didn’t like it being a thing we had to regularly discuss. All of these things make me as uncomfortable as they made my Dad, but I remember how hard it was to go through all of that weird stuff without feeling like I could talk to him, so I’m trying my best to create a comfortable environment for my kids.

Even if it means we have all of those talks in the car so that we don’t have to make eye contact. It’s better than not having the talks at all, right?

Ug…Morning People…Am I Right?

I got up a little late this morning (4am is late in my world) because I had a late night (I was up until 11pm!) and LOW AND BEHOLD – my husband is sitting at the computer at 3:58am. There was evidently a figurative fire at work that he had to put out. So, he’s working in the spot I’m usually working, and while mornings are my “Zoot Time,” it is very hard not to just start chatting him up like I would if he had just come home from work. I want to tell him how book club went and I want to ask him what Nikki thought of the Flash finale. But I know he’s just trying to complete the task at hand and then HOPEFULLY still have time for more sleep.

But I’m over here thinking, “YAY! ANOTHER HUMAN AT 4AM! LET’S TALK!”

It’s a sign as to how much I love him that I’m trying to just quietly work at my computer and not disrupt his Trying Not To Fully Wake Up So I Can Go Back To Sleep mission.

The Morning Person runs very deep in me. I get up stupid-early because these early hours before I start my day are the BEST. I look to the day ahead like the possibilities are endless and I’m excited about the potential. And this was kinda always the case. I was the one calling my friend’s houses on the weekends long before anyone in their house had actually woken up. I was the first one up in the mornings at slumber parties and family reunions. Even in college when I needed to pull an “all-nighter” I would instead sleep for 3 hours from like 10pm to 1am and then just get up for the day. I was always way better after sleep, at the start of the day, than I was BEFORE sleep at the END of the day.

Donnie has adapted to A) being married to me and B) having hobbies that require early mornings so he can sometimes exhibit Morning Person tendencies. But when given a choice, he’d much rather stay up late and sleep in, whereas I’m the first one to bed every night no matter what.

I also think I would be well suited for a segmented sleep pattern if I could get life to adjust to allow for that. I think I’d do great to sleep from like 9pm to 2am, get up and be productive until like 9am where I would sleep again for 3+ hours before starting the second half of my day. I have these hopes/dreams of some day being able to test out that schedule for a week or more at a time, but so far I’ve not found a work situation that would allow that.

So, for now I try to go to bed around 8pm because I’m almost always up before 4am. Most nights it’s more like 8:30pm to 3:30am which is 7 hours and a good night’s sleep. I need 8, I’m not going to lie, but I can survive on 7.

I think Nikki will be like me. E doesn’t think he is, but he has a crazy life not at all conducive to being a morning person, so I’m not sure he can judge yet. But Nikki? She’s a morning person through and through and Wes is going to be our night owl.

I like life as a morning person, as long as I can stifle the urge to start full-fledged conversations with my husband when he’s up dealing with work issues at 4am.

A Back-Of-The-Pack Runner’s Notes On Ultra Running

I find it frustrating that running tips/advice/race reports are so often from people who are natural athletes or fast runners. People who casually reference 12-minute milers like that’s the slowest you can be. (Trust me fast people, YOU CAN BE MUCH SLOWER.) People like my husband who could not understand that I stopped to sing along with Hamilton when a friend was playing it at his spectating point on my race. “Wait. You stopped? TO SING?” Of course I did. Don’t you know me?

So, these are notes from someone like me…who stops and sings when she hears her favorite song.

There is only 5 miles between a marathon and 50K yet some people who are more than happy to do a marathon, have NO desire to do a 50K. There’s only 5 miles! Most 50Ks are on trails and so that is sometimes a deterrent. To me a 12-hour race is even easier than a 50K because the finish-line comes to you! And most of the time (because the point is to get as many miles in the time limit as possible) they’re on flat, soft, 1-mile’ish loops. I’m here to point out all of the amazing things you’re missing out on at these types of races so that if you make the marathon leap, maybe you’ll make the next one. I promise I won’t push you any farther than that. I just learned this weekend I’m not cut out for races in the nighttime. But I’m certain if you can do a marathon, you can do a 50K or a 12-hour race. No problem.

  • Trail running is not how you picture it. You don’t just jump into running your road-pace on stretches of trails littered with roots and rocks. I rarely hit my slowest road pace anywhere, and most often if I do it’s because it’s a section of trail I know so well I could map it out with my eyes closed. Picture hiking + jogging when you picture someone like me trail running. If it’s technical and I don’t know it? I’m barely jogging. If it’s an uphill? I’m walking. Almost always. It saves my legs for the distance if I walk the uphills. I do get to the point where I can kill some treacherous downhills, but only on MY mountain where I know where almost every rock is. You don’t have to do that. I don’t on a lot of races. If you can hike tough trails and run a marathon? You can trail run.
  • Falling isn’t as bad as you think it is. It sucks, don’t get me wrong. But out of the 50+ falls I’ve had only 2 were bad enough where I was worried I was injured. And I was not injured! I think partly because since I run slower I fall easier, but also I’m a klutz so I think my instincts are good when I fall.
  • KEEP GOING AFTER YOU ROLL YOUR ANKLE. I’m so glad someone told me this early on. I roll my ankles constantly, like an average of once every 5 miles probably. And sometimes it hurts so bad it brings tears to my eyes, but I keep moving and somehow that keeps the blood flowing and as long as no damage is done, the pain subsides. I rolled my ankle “bad” once and wore a brace for the rest of the season but it didn’t stop me, so it obviously wasn’t that bad. It just made my ankle weak so I wanted extra support from a brace.
  • Once you get past the marathon distance and into timed races or 50Ks or more, you have epic food selection. I’ve done marathons where I maybe get some chips or some oranges but at 50Ks or timed races there is often PIZZA and maybe DONUTS. I did a race once where they had those chocolate drizzle rice crispy treats and I nearly DIED it was so heavenly.
  • You are also more likely to find aid stations or runners stocked with a medicine cabinet. Excederin? Pepto? Immodium? Yes. Yes. and Yes. If you need something? Ask around. Chances are an aid station has it or someone running near you does and if you’re a back-of-the-packer like me? Go ahead and ask. (I don’t recommend asking the guys up front, they don’t carry much with them.)
  • You get to know fast runners at timed races. I love that about a good 12-hour race, you are constantly getting passed by people you would never see otherwise and it gives you the feeling of camaraderie and it feels great to be on the same page (although no where near the same mile) as a fast runner.
  • Everyone gets silly. I don’t know about the front of the pack people, but in the back? We all lose our minds as we get closer to the finish and it’s fantastic. You’re walking a lot more, just trying to survive, so you get goofy and it’s like being drunk without actually drinking. It’s great.
  • Fast and Slow is not reflective in body type. You’ll see someone 50lbs heavier but loads faster and someone 20lbs lighter and loads slower. If you don’t have a typical runner body, you’ll be amazed by how many people with your body are out there. Ultras aren’t usually about speed, they’re about endurance, so people aren’t stressing out so much about being lean as they would be if they were trying to hold 6-minute miles for 3 hours.
  • There’s often (always?) beer. Sometimes it’s secret beer due to regulations of the location of the race, but if you keep your eyes and ears open you will often find that people have beers at the finish line (sometimes the race is sponsored by a beer WHICH IS THE BEST) or sometimes you’ll do a timed run and find that people are drinking beers DURING THE RACE and that’s when you’ll think, “Yes. I found my people.”
  • Ultra runners are just fun. I feel like the start lines and finish lines of an ultra are usually so much more lighthearted. Everyone recognizes the “crazy” factor in what they’re doing and it makes even the most serious of person a bit goofy. They’re also encouraging. They’ll share tips. The start line of a road marathon often feels tense, but of an ultra? At least at the ones I do? There’s a lot more laughing than I would expect. “WE CRAZY!” type of comments and laughter.

I’m trying to get out of my 100-miler because I learned my limits this weekend, but I still believe if I can run a 50K or a 12-hour race? Anyone who can do a marathon can. The only thing that makes it easier for me than it might be for you is I have this epic community around me. I’d like to think there’s one hidden in your town too, but I don’t know. Some days I feel like we have something unique and special here, but at the race in TN this weekend there seemed to be a “regular” crowd of people who looked just as fun and supportive as our group is. So maybe there’s one where you are too, you just have to find them.