family

A Cast From the Past

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Sometimes you run across a piece of paper that stops you in your tracks.

I was going through some boxes of old family “stuff” when I found a large old brown envelope of sympathy cards.  After sifting through several of them, I realized they were cards sent to my maternal grandmother when my grandfather, her husband, passed away.

Holding those cards transported me back to when I was about 6 or 7 years old.  He was the first person that I can remember dying.   I recall I had a solo singing Jingle Bell Rock in my school first grade Christmas program. I wore a green dress with candy canes on the bib and a white blouse with a scalloped collar.  I remember my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.  At that age, I couldn’t really understand what was happening.  Why my mom sat slumped over on the bed, her back to me, sobbing.

All I knew was my mother wasn’t there to see me sing.

Flipping through the cards now. So many beautiful cards, most simply finished with a signature. Names I didn’t know. People who loved and remembered.

Then, a different kind of card.  No lilies or angels or cursive sympathies.  Flat. Engraved with black letters. Someone had given a book to a library as a way to honor my grandfather’s death.  And it was a book about fishing.

It was a full circle moment for a couple of reasons.  First, I am a librarian.  So a book memorial has special meaning for me.  And then, my daughter, Dianne, who bears the name of my mother, loves fishing.  So knowing there is a book out there, in a library somewhere, all about fishing, to honor my granddad felt both sublime and bittersweet.

Finding that card was like a cord running through generations. A moment of connection with a long distant past. I had no idea my grandfather loved fishing, even though he lived a stone’s throw from Lake Chautauqua.  It was a smile down from a man lost decades ago as well as his daughter, to me and my own daughter who shares her name.

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family, inspire

My Farm Girl

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When I was young, I wandered through all kinds of interests, career possibilities, and whims.  After I gave up my dream of delivering the mail, I considered becoming a meteorologist.  A singer.  A poet.  A jazz musician. A teacher.  Probably lots of other things I don’t even remember.  I took one of those career surveys in high school and it told me to be a ferry boat captain so I probably even considered that. (Briefly.)

Along the way all sorts of things would capture my fancy for a while. So many rabbit holes my teenage and twenty-something brain went down… e. e. cummings poetry.  Philosophy.  Feminism.  But the one I remember most was Southern Self-Taught Art (aka Folk Art).  Who knows how I stumbled across it, but I dove headlong into that world, reading and learning as much as I could about the main personalities, what they created, and where they lived.  I studied it, immersed myself in it, planned trips to meet artists and see exhibits.  I was fascinated.

Through every whim and detour my Dad was right along with me.  I had a pile in the kitchen (that drove my Mom crazy,by the way, a pile in the middle of prime real estate) where I kept important papers and mail.  Every once in a while a newspaper clipping or magazine article would appear on that pile.  It might be an artist profile, or an ad for a nearby art auction.  My Dad would have circled it with blue ball-point pen and written my name next to it, then ripped it out.  Always looking to extend my knowledge and experience.

And so wherever my interests went, my Dad followed close behind.  He learned as much as he could about what mattered to me. We went on road trips to meet artists.  He even had pieces commissioned for me.  When I was young, I thought it was so awesome that our interests always seemed to line up. My Dad and I just always seemed to like the same stuff!  What a lucky coincidence.  Once he was gone, I realized that he was really just interested in me.  My growth.  My enjoyment.  My plans.  My life.  It was essential to how he parented me.

This morning I did the same for my youngest daughter.  She wants to be a farmer when she grows up.  I’ve made connections with some local farms and send her tidbits about farming when I run across them.  This morning a local farm offered an opportunity to come work on a project.  So we jumped in the car with gloves and water and away we went.

Do I care about farming?  Not really.  I love the country, sunrises and sunsets, and back porches, but farm life is a lot of work.  I didn’t mind carrying all the gravel buckets (all my CrossFit farmer’s carries finally came in handy!) but I mainly wanted to spend time with her as she learned.  We talked.  We worked.  We enjoyed the sun, petting the huge farm dogs, watching the sloppy pigs, exploring the farm store, and just being together, imagining what she might be and do if she became a farmer with land of her own.

 

So no, I don’t really care much about farming.  But I do care much about her.  And when I love someone, I often find their interests interesting as a way to deepen my understanding, connection, and support for them.  I love that my Dad made me feel like all my little whims were worth learning about and pursuing. It was one of the ways he made me feel worthy and important.  I hope I make the people I love feel the same way.

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fitness and nutrition

Working Vacation (or, Making Vacation Work)

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a whirlwind whiplash weekend in Pennsylvania with friends watching our daughters play lacrosse.

I could have completely tossed my diet and exercise habits out the window.  But driving over 10 hours both ways in the course of a few days left my body screaming for exercise and good food.  (Craving those things is a good sign.)

We stayed in a hotel with a gym.  I brought my workout clothes and got up at my usual crack-of-dawn hour. The weather was amazing!  When I went outside, the air was a crisp, cool change from the warm humid mornings in Atlanta.  Then, we just happened to be staying in a complex with some health care buildings.  As I was walking to warm up and get moving, I noticed a trail with some fitness stations along the way.  So, that became my plan.  A little jog and some step ups, incline situps and leg lifts, hanging leg raises, all while jogging station to station. Sweat happened.

Then, I went into the gym and did a quick 21-15-9 of burpees, dumbbell clean and jerks, and sit-ups.  It wasn’t the extreme race or marathon workout that many were doing back home, but it was enough to feel like I had worked my heart and muscles. It felt good.

Of the 3 days away, that was the only true workout I did.  We did some walking at the tournament fields and Hershey Park, but otherwise the two days were rest days.  I worked out all the other days around the trip so it was enough.

The other challenge on the road is eating.

I packed snacks…a few bags of turkey and beef jerky, protein water, chunks of grilled chicken, protein chips, and some random protein bars.  I ate some but not all. I also drank lots of water and sparkling water.

For the most part, I just tried to focus on protein and keep other things to a minimum. Examples:

For quick breakfast on the road I had a Chick-fil-a breakfast bowl with chicken and no hashbrowns.  I ate a 2 good yogurt for snack.  The chicken chunks came in handy on a long stretch of road with few options beside gas station food.

Eating out in Harrisburg, PA, at a local tapas spot – Kale and beet salad, Brussel sprouts with bacon, a small slice of pizza, charcuterie board with meat, cheese, pickles, flatbread, mustard.  Probably over on fat and salt but I could have done worse and it was delicious. Not enough protein but options were limited.

For hotel breakfast (twice): Eggs, spinach, cheese, salsa, light and fit yogurt, coffee with milk. For me, when I’m basically eyeballing things, not really planning eating, and going with my gut, I try to start the day with as much protein as possible and just keep going from there.

It’s not necessarily easy…the options I skipped were many: waffles, Froot Loops and other cereals, bagels, bread, crumb cake, juices, granola, muffins, peanut butter, etc.  None of these seemed worth it and the eggs looked decent.  (I would definitely eat crumb cake, for example, if it was from a bakery.  I look forward to bakery crumb cake at the Jersey Shore later this summer!)

It’s not always a simple win.  The amusement parks we went to the last two weekends were especially challenging for both cost and food quality reasons.  At Hershey Park, after long searching, I settled for a few chicken tenders (more bread than chicken) and a few fries.  Thankfully this was late in the day after decent eating before we got to the park.

An afternoon at Kings Dominion was more challenging.  I could almost stomach the idea of eating Panda Express, but the $15.00 price tag was a deal breaker (and for just one entree!)  I held out until we left, late afternoon, and quickly scarfed down my turkey jerky, protein water, some fresh cherry tomatoes, and Quest protein chips when I got to the car.  Sounds crazy to many, but it works for me.  I felt satisfied and not weighed down.  I was grateful I had packed a few things to have on hand.

And when it was worth it, I did treat myself across the two weekends.  I had top-notch street tacos (although I did skip all but one bite of tortilla since they were not special), I had a great meal with meats, cheeses, an amazingly fluffy buttered roll, and cucumber salad at a German restaurant called Fest, and I had a scoop of homemade strawberry swirl ice cream topped with toasted fluff (the specialty of the house) at Charm School Social Club.  Totally worth it.  And four days later, I’m not mad at myself or the scale. So I’m learning it is possible to keep it sane on the road, get some sweat in, feel good, and indulge when I really want to.  Let’s see how I do on my next journey…

 

 

awareness

The One about the Turtle Crossing the Road

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When she was little, my daughter Anne loved turtles.  She used “turtle girl” as her nickname online.  She had a turtle named Swimmy for a pet.  She loved reading about turtles.  When we went to the beach, I scheduled time for us to work with local turtle patrols, visit aquariums, or watch turtle hatchlings be released into the ocean.

Turtles were her thing.

She’e a teenager now and her interests have broadened, but deep down I think she still has a soft spot for turtles.

So it didn’t surprise me a couple of weeks ago when we were out and about, driving on a long rural road, and I dodged a turtle stopped right in the middle of our lane.

Just like I used to do when Anne was little, I screamed “turtle!” and, just like she did when she was little, she yelled “turn around!”

It was a long stretch of road with rolling hills…visibility was tricky…cars were flying by…no flat shoulder and few places to turn around.  When I finally turned to go back for the turtle, someone came up speeding behind me so I couldn’t pull over.  So, we found a place to turn around again, and tried again.

I had my hazard lights on so people knew I was up to something.  Pulled over on a soft grassy spot, then she gave a quick look and jumped out of the car.  She ran full force probably seventy-five yards back and got the little guy.  She picked him up gently and moved him across the road in the direction he was going, just like we learned about when she was little.  She placed him down right by a small pond near the side of the road.  And off he went. Safe for the moment.  And then off we went toward our destination, feeling like we helped the world in some small way.

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At least five cars passed over him while we were making that multi-step turn around.  Who knows how many more had flown past him, over him, as he slowly made his way across the lanes toward his goal.

All this made me wonder about how many people I know, who I see daily, who are trying to cross their own treacherous lanes in life.  How many people do I know who are moving toward goals but keep dodging obstacles, negativity, or just the rushing flow of the daily grind? How many are in periods where things in life are flying by, in different directions, leaving them pulled into their shells much of the time?

Do I even notice them?  Or am I just speeding by, consumed with my own tasks and concerns, not even seeing those who I could help along if I just slowed down and took time to pay attention?

And how can I lift them up, shoulder their burden, ease their journey somehow? How can I put my lights on so people know I am slowing down, wanting to help, up to something?

These are the questions that are on my mind this morning. It doesn’t take that much to help someone across a scary patch.  I just need to pay more attention, be willing to slow down. Be more open and attentive. Work to see the potholes and rough patches others might be crossing. Sharing my own bumps and tumbles so they feel safe sharing their own.

What good is it to make it to my destination more quickly, if I have passed over others I could have helped along the way?

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dare to be different

Changes for Chick 2

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In a recent post, KT shared her thoughts about change. In fact, if you look closely, change and growth is a theme in many of the things KT writes. She embraces change as a part of life, welcomes it as a path to new challenges and achievements, even seeks and manufactures it to keep herself growing. It is a quality I admire (especially since I do not share it.)

In yet another of the 867 ways that the 2 Chicks are opposites (that we have discovered so far), change is something that makes me very nervous.  I worry about it, try to avoid it, pretend it’s not there, and usually resist it with every bit of my being.  What’s sad is that, even at age 44, I act as if change is avoidable – like I can do something to stop it. I’ve wasted a lot of precious energy trying to keep change at arm’s length. So what’s been happening lately is surprising.

Although I haven’t announced it widely, big changes have been happening in my family. There have been job shifts, school shifts, routine shifts, goal shifts.  Some of these were invited, some were forced upon us by circumstance.  We are all still trying to find our footing as things continue to change and develop.

By way of example, I changed my job (on purpose!) this year.  This is HUGE for me, as someone who avoids change.  But, I needed to make this happen for several reasons, so I set a goal, did the work, and one of the several positions I applied for panned out. (Not surprisingly, it was KT who helped me through the process of getting it done. She is truly a #goalgetter and generously shares her approach!)  Although I still have the same job title, it is a completely different community and school dynamic.  I am trying to keep up, but it is a lot to take in.

Then there are the “domino effect” differences.  The biggest of these is trying to fit in my workouts after school. I can’t attend CrossFit classes at 5:30 am anymore, which has been an adjustment.  I miss my morning gym friends and the stress relief that starting the day with a good sweat brings.  But, I’m getting there at other times as often as I can and making it work. And there are all kinds of other changes that came from my job shift as well.

I’ve been watching the way the changes throughout my family have been playing out.  Even on a good day, with good support, change can be taxing for some.  As I encourage everyone to be patient and take care of themselves while taking each day as it comes, I try to remember to do all those things myself as well.

It can be hard, though.  If I scroll through facebook or instagram, it seems like everyone is always happy, always on vacation, always upgrading their houses, always successful, always champions.  I know my kids see this, too.  It’s rare that people post the hard stuff, the mundane, the oil changes, doing dishes, folding laundry, managing illness, aches, and pains, doing paperwork, struggling with homework, waiting in line, dealing with boring commutes, enduring frustrating people and all the other the day-to-day junk that can take up most of our time.  Of course, we all have those things, but we often keep them behind the scenes (myself included). We may share them with friends, but not always on a big platform. It’s easy to be sucked in to thinking we are the only ones with work or troubles or time we wish could be better spent.

We also rarely see all the work that goes in to transformation.  Instead, we see the end result, the success, not the sweat, the sacrifice, the tears, the drills, the hours of practice, the falls, the U-turns, the frustration, the days when it didn’t seem like anything good was going to come of all the effort.  When you just see the result, it always seems easier than it actually was.

As I was sitting on the back porch writing and thinking about this, trying to make some sense of it for today, a butterfly floated by, blissful as can be on the breeze.  I thought about all the change that butterfly had been through in life.  And so much of that change is done out of view, in the muck and mush and ugly, miraculous work of transformation.

We get no view, there is no applause for this process of change.  The caterpillar goes into hiding, on some internal cue, all along doing the mysterious, innate work it was meant to do.  When it comes time, it emerges, dries its wings, unfolds those beauties, and takes flight.

For me, Sunday is a day of errands and preparation.  Shopping for the food, cleaning the house, packing the lunches, doing the workout, folding the laundry.  Maybe not what many would see as an instagrammable day, but one that sets me up for a week with less stress so I can focus on pushing myself further on the path in my work while also supporting my family and friends in theirs.

It’s also a day of writing and thinking and reconnecting with my vision of my future, and the next steps it will take for me to get there. I’ve carved out that time, so I still take a personal step toward who I am becoming.  No one else can make that time for me (another lesson from my friend KT!)  I have to do it, even if it is just a couple of hours. Other things will go undone, and I’ve learned to be ok with that (but I haven’t always been that way!)

Unlike the butterfly, I’m giving you an inside glimpse into one messy Sunday afternoon moment of my transformation. It may not be pretty. There are groceries all over the counters, floors that need mopping, emails that need answering, kids that need encouraging.  Today and every day, there are loose ends and mushy parts.  There are red herrings and rabbit trails. There are things I will sharpen or learn to do better as I practice and continue to evolve.

Through all of it, I know I am changing.  It may not be a straight path and it may not be quick, but I am inching forward overall.

And at the end of this path is my launch pad, where I’ll suddenly, inevitably, unfold these beauties, and take flight.

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#2CHX #inspireothers #change #transformation #butterfly #goalgetter #Sunday #mealprep #Crossfit #embracechange