Friday, December 25, 2009

All is calm

It's Christmas morning. The kids will be storming down in a few minutes, but at this moment they're all asleep. The tree is lit. The fire's warm. The presents wrapped. The baking done.

It's the dark dawn of a new winter's day. It's their day. They are 4, 6 and 8 and it's Christmas morning. Does it get any better than that?

We're having a White Christmas here in Connecticut. We've been out in it every day. Our yard is a city of winter activity. Snowman, snow forts, quinzee hut, sled run. I stood in the woods at dusk the other night in the world turned white and watched the darkness come. I cannot express how beautiful it was, how it made my heart sing to be cold and alive at the darkest part of the year. The solstice. The best day of winter.

Merry Christmas. And peace in the New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Slowing down

I had a nice run Sunday morning with Susan and her dad on the trails at Bluff Point. My foot was feeling great, though my stomach was on the fritz. It's always something these days. When I was young (what, 5 years ago?) people used to tell me, "Wait 'till you get to your forties. Everything starts to fall apart!"


How right they turned out to be. My body is simply not what it used to be. My foot and ankle, after feeling so great on Sunday morning, hurt again Monday. And Tuesday and Wednesday and....

And my stomach is acting up. I am off dairy and off wheat, and I was feeling great for weeks. But now I feel kind of nauseous and heartburn-y most of the time. My naturopath thinks this is a stress reaction to all of the business with Simon's asthma and subsequent hospital visit last week. Maybe she's right. We've upped the dosage on all of the enzymes and stomach soothers for two weeks. See how it goes.

But there is an upside to all of this. I am learning to slow down. I have to. I have no choice here. My body is rebelling in a constant and unrelenting way.

I do think of myself as a mellow person. People find me "laid back." WAAAYY back, it has been said. But I'm learning that I'm quietly driven. I think many of us ultrarunners are quietly driven. We're not flashy, not Type A in the typical sense. Perhaps we internalize. More to the point, perhaps I internalize. (Duh!).

This is not an easy thing for me to admit. I guess I kind of take pride in "being able to handle stuff," in "not making a fuss." But it's not true. There are things I cannot handle. Seeing my little son wrapped in tubes and wires in a hospital bed is clearly one of these things. I held it together pretty well when I had to. But inside, I'm breaking down.

So I'm slowing down. I an learning to be happy with what I can do. I can run 5 miles in the mornings with Eddie. I can be present for my family every day. For my friends. I can play my violin and write my essays and homeschool and cook. I love all of these things.

Sunday afternoon Brian and I took the kids to Haley Farm for a "hike." Old Me would have insisted on a forced march. Three miles, kids! No stopping, no playing. Hop to!

New Me shudders. I am slowing down, remember. What better place to start than with the kids. We "hiked" at Haley Farm for 2 hours. I don't think we made it more than half a mile down the trail. But we climbed trees, chatted with lots of people we knew (including Bob heading out for a late run!), we walked on stone walls, found and ate the last autumn olives, dissected an owl pellet (lots of fur and tiny bones!), and played in the stream.

Nell and Brian making time on the rock wall.

The kids at the stream. There were a few tears here, a few wet feet. But well worth it, I think.

Nell likes to make little things from found materials. She has endless patience for this. Here she is making a tiny boat out of leaves and sticks.

We found this great tree to climb.

All three kids loved this "hike." And that's what matters now. Not mileage, not destination. It's all about the journey. And what a wild ride that journey is turning out to be!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still here!

Here I am.....over here in my own little corner of the world, quietly and busily spinning my wheels. Life without running gets interesting-er and interesting-er.

I was at the PT yesterday afternoon and he says the swelling has gone down in my ankle again. "Go ahead and give it a test," he says. "Just keep it under four hours."

This last statement is offered with good natured sarcasm. My PT thinks I'm crazy. Everybody in my life thinks I'm crazy. This is the downside of living in a place populated by very few ultrarunners. Nobody understands. Or almost nobody. I'm grateful for all of the Southeastern CT ultrarunners I know. All, what, five of them? Me, Susan, Bob, Davnet, Michele (whom I have never met in person, but I'm glad you're out there, Michele!). Have I forgotten anyone?

So I am going to give it a test. The kids have farm class for two hours this afternoon. While they are farming and making candles, I'll be hoofing it around North Stonington. The farm is on one of my favorite 6-mile loops. The goal is to make it around twice in the time allotted. No chatting with the Other Mothers at drop off time! Just hit the road and keep going......

The past week has been emotionally exhausting. Our 6-year-old middle child, Simon, was rushed to the hospital in Providence (yes, in an ambulance with lights and sirens) when they could not get his blood-oxygen numbers up at our local community ER. Scary. Simon and I spent a long couple of days at Hasbro Children's Hospital while the good doctors and nurses and interns and residents worked to stabilize his asthma. I didn't know he had asthma. Now I know. Now he is stable and I'm doing all I can to keep him that way. He was a good soldier in the hospital. Simon was a Buddha Child from Day 1, and that has never changed. Every parent needs one Buddha and one Wild Person. Keeps you balanced and humble.

Last weekend was entirely taken up by Make We Joy. This is a solstice celebration in the spirit of an Olde Medieval Revels at Connecticut College in New London. The kids are in the chorus every year. Nell and Simon absolutely love it. Ben goes to all of the rehearsals and then bails as soon as he gets on stage with all of the scary knights and guards and dancing men with sticks. (Odd how our most dramatic child shuns actual drama).

The dress rehearsal lasts all day Saturday. All Day Saturday. And then there are two shows on Sunday, one late afternoon and one early evening. (Thanks Brett and Joanne for the photos stolen from Facebook, as I have yet to download ours onto the computer.....)

Nell and Simon are in the middle of this first one. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have Simon well enough to do the show. He was barely breathing in the hospital just four days before.

My biggest, most exciting, look-to-the-future type of news is that I have found and secured the most wonderful and amazing house for two weeks in August. By August I am so antsy to get out of town I drive everyone crazy. So here it is.....

A relatively cheap find at the very northern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. My heart sings to think of us there in August, whales frolicking out the front door, mountains looming out the back. We will be on a seven mile stretch of dirt road north of Cape North, the northernmost town on the Cabot Trail. The nearest neighbor is miles away. The town in a 5K bike ride on an empty old road. Oh, bliss!

So now on to the Christmas shopping and the running and the Getting Back to Life. Enjoy the holidays everyone. Even the hectic days leading up to the holidays. Breathe. Live. Love.