My first triathlon.

Almost 2 years ago, I signed up for my first swimming class. I couldn’t make it one pool length. I couldn’t put my face in the water. And I’m pretty sure those sharing a lane with me wanted to throw themselves off a bridge. I swayed in my lane from side to side; I was the last one to finish and I looked like a fucking mess. Up until this class; I had never swam before. I had an experience in the water when I was 8 that created a fear of water so deep; I made my mother obtain a doctor’s note for me so I wouldn’t have to swim in high school. As an adult, I learned to surf and I loved it. I could prevent myself from drowning but that’s about it. Truly, it’s a miracle I’m alive. I had no business being out there. However, knowing I was strapped to a giant floaty board, did offer a lot of peace. I have always gravitated towards the spiritual qualities of water. I’ve said this a million times but our relationship is like a giant metaphor. If you fight it; it fights back twice as hard. You need to embrace the energy and synergy of each wave; each movement and marry yourself to it. And respect is paramount. Always respect the force of water and it won’t do you wrong.

The reason I even entertained the idea of swimming was watching those around me complete triathlons. While in the midst of a serious running/life funk; it seemed like the perfect anecdote. Three sports as a opposed to one sort of guarantees you’ll never get bored. But it took too more years of banging my head against a wall with running. A handful of shitty, horrible, no good races, two bad falls on my knee, a cracked patella and a doctor saying “try a new sport,” to finally decide to pull the trigger. (Oh and some encouragement from a friend, of course) So I signed up for the Olympic distance in September and the Sebago Lake Triathlon (just the sprint distance) which I completed Sunday with like 3 weeks of training behind me.

3 weeks of training. Not the best idea. But when do I ever do things in a sensible manner?? PSSSHHHHH. Come on now.

I knew I could cover all the distances. I knew I could handle the open water. I had done the distance twice on my bike up the hardest hills I could find in Windham. And 3.3 miles of running, I mean, come on. No bigs. Even still, come Sunday, I was nervous as all fuck. SO NERVOUS. Because it was new and fresh and unexpected. But you know what, once it started, I just made my way through the motions and something really glorious happened…..I smiled at everything around me. Every single solitary step of the way. I had a fucking smile on my face.

After the swim (which was a little horrifying by the way with all the people and one very lost swimmer next to me), I ran out of the water, smiling. I got on my bike, a little confused, but smiling. I huffed my way along the bike course, while primarily alone, smiling. It was hot. It was hard. The hills were unforgiving and unrelenting. But can I tell you, while coasting down a few of the downhills, I was just so enamored with how things looked on the bike, breeze blowing through me like a gift. It was spectacular. The run, was super challenging because I’ve never experienced that kind of fatigue at the start of a run but after walk/running the first mile; I caught my groove. I even managed to pull out a sprint at the finish. Still, smiling.

I haven’t felt this way after a race since early 2014.

I know some people have doubts about my ability to stick to things but these people also haven’t been privy to the demons I’ve been working through from 2014-2016. Yes, I may talk a lot but I’m quiet about the real struggles. And I have struggled, badly, the last two years. It’s easy to say that running is the thing that pulled me under but running really has nothing to do with it. I’ve suffered losses that are inconceivable, overwhelmed myself with a giant pile of things to do and continued to try and fake it for two years. Little did I realize, everything was spilling out everywhere. When you break down and cry hysterically after each race; it’s just easier to lie to people and tell them it’s because I missed my time goal. No, I don’t really give that much of a shit about time. It was mental exhaustion and emotional turmoil emerging from each broken seam as I struggled to just hide everything.

2017 is different. I feel like my old self. I feel mentally tough again. I’ve worked through the layers of grief. I understand what I need from myself and others. And, I have a new vice. A new outlet. I loved Sunday and I plan on continuing with swimming, biking and running. With no expectations. With no time goals. I just want to be out there, smiling as I coast down a hill and emerge from the water. I want to enjoy. That’s what life is all about isn’t it? Finding happiness, in whatever form works for you specifically.

 

The hustle.

I’m an obsessive person (surprise, surprise); which means that you could say one single thing to me that I don’t necessarily appreciate and I will feast and fawn over it for like, an ungodly amount of time. Until I have dissected it into nothing and talked about it at nausea with eighteen people. If I wasn’t married, I would be doomed. No one would want to date me with this behavior. It would immediately signal stage five clinger warnings and the men would flee. All the men. In the world. No, I wasn’t always like this. I never before had the urge to make sure people knew systematically that they are wrong. My feelings get hurt easier now that I’m older and just, weathered. It feels lately like I’ve come under fire and my response is to defend each criticism vigorously. Try and prove it’s not true, that there’s no merit behind it. And perhaps its the whole thing I’m throwing out there to the universe. The car, the tude, the fucking $100 yoga pants. Some people choose to have the same chair for 20 years, I want something, I buy it. I choose to do a triathlon and a week later; I have the best wet-suit, new headphones, a bike, you name it, I’ve purchased it. Yea, I get how that looks and I understand the comedy of watching someone buying up a sport but even still; I’m not sure where the toxicity comes from. Last time I checked, not one single person knows about my hustle. And guess what,  I’m never going to let you see me sweat. I may say I’m overwhelmed. I might say I’m busy. I might blow off plans and reschedule a million times but world, seriously, you have no fucking idea. My ass is hustling every single day. This shit doesn’t come without sacrifices, lack of sleep, enormous amounts of stress, time away from my kids, crippling anxiety–it doesn’t come for free. My job isn’t glamorous. It never has been. Did I think that in a previous life I would be living the glam dream? Sure. But I diverted from the original plan and here I am. I pick up trash. I pick up broken tile. I beg, plead and bribe people to get shit done. I agonize over each detail and I pray, I mean I pray that in the end, things will work out the way I imagined. I go to bed every night with a list in my head of things to do. All while being a full time student, having two kids, a husband, two dogs, a giant house to take care of and family I basically never see. I don’t whine to Josh to get the things I want. I participate and work hard just as much as he does. We have built something really special together as a team. I want for nothing because I have worked for it. And at the end of the day, guess what, I’m not a lazy person. Making it look easy doesn’t equate to it being easy. It just means I’m really good at pretending.

I’ve always been a pile on person but I can count on one hand the things in life I walked away from without finishing. The list is short. I finish 95% of what I start. And if by some miracle, I choose not to do something, not to race a distance I signed up for, not to train the way I originally planned, whatever, it doesn’t come without days and weeks of sorting through the pro’s and con’s. There isn’t one thing in life I am nonchalant about. Everyone has a vice; mine-making things extremely difficult on myself. I take everything seriously. The people who have know me best, will tell you that without hesitation. They will also tell you the enormous weight I carry on my shoulders from a life time of self induced expectations and guilt. I have sacrificed a lot for the things I have.

So don’t sweat my hustle and I won’t sweat yours. Everyone has different priorities and a different approach. I have a vagina which means 60%, maybe 70% of the time things come twice as hard in my industry. How about we just support one another? Lift each other up? Applaud success and nurture the broken moments? Is that possible? Because I’m over the condescension. I only want people at my table who get what this is all about. And in return, I’ll sit at your table with nothing but support and adoration for your hard work.

Changing up expectations.

Life has changed a lot since I last took the time to write a post. I’m professionally buried; which is actually really wonderful because the experience of doing certain things on my own; has been priceless. I haven’t run in 2 weeks because of my knee which months ago would have devastated me but now I feel strangely liberated. I have SIX MONTHS, yes, a mere six months left of school and I am making plans for a bad ass graduation adventure. (like scaling a mountain in Patagonia, okay, maybe not that big but something really grand). I have less friendships to rely on than I used to (turns out some people can’t handle when you get messy) but the ones remaining feel really strong. I’m going to Iceland in September with my brother; where I am convinced, I will find my father (his soul, not actually his physical being). I get these STUPID braces off my bottom teeth in 8 weeks!! AND…..I signed up for an Olympic triathlon; which I swore I would not advertise until I was actually immersed in the training but fuck it, I’m really excited and I wanna tell someone. So now I’m telling everyone.

I’ve been battling my knee since 2013 but I’ve been very quiet about it. I mean, with my heart condition, the knee sort of always felt secondary and until recently; I could wiggle my way through any run. Well, two giant falls later, one in October and one just a few weeks ago equates to I’m officially done with distance running. (for awhile, hopefully not forever). Initially, this was hard to swallow. I tried over and over again to get over the 6 mile hump but the pain became really unbearable. I finally had some really hard conversations with myself. I realized I was holding into running for the wrong reasons. I built a lot of friendships running. Unfortunately, a lot of those sort of fizzled when I stopped pushing myself in a way that met the expectations of those around me. I thought that if I could get back to where I was; people would let me back in but I’m done operating like that. If it’s real, you ride the wave together, even when you both make mistakes. It really is, that simple.

The Olympic triathlon is nothing to sneeze at. I’m at day 3 of the training and I’m already like holy bananas but if I’m really being honest; I will always need something that feels hard in my life. I am just wired that way. The difference being, biking and swimming are SO FUN to me right now. I look forward to the workouts, the soreness, the hills, the laps, seeing faster times, smiling while outside or in the pool. I look forward to it all. The running is kind of secondary in this training plan which couldn’t be more perfect. Right now, I need things that make me happy. I don’t need things I dread. And the idea of conquering this distance on September 10th; feels really amazing to me. I’m super excited about it. So much so, I have butterflies when I consider my next workout. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

I’m not going to say that everything is shits and gigs over here because believe me; I have my days. Yesterday, while watching “This is Us” I started bawling over Randall and his Dad. What can I say, it made me think of my father; who looked as sad and unfortunate towards the end. There are days that I feel very emotional. There are days when I would give anything to change the dynamics of my life. I guess I convinced myself my father wasn’t a thing but I miss him immensely and I wish he was here so we could talk about my life. The universe can be cruel in that way. There’s a lot of good, I mean there is a ton of good but there is also the grim shit that can weigh you down. Right now, I’m just trying to refocus, re-calibrate and reconsider my expectations.

The horizon looks pretty sweet; just gotta keep looking ahead.

Love. Oh yes, and brownies.

I find love to be, an incredibly tricky thing. I started off today, imaging all the ways that I could talk about love and its glory. Then I got into a stupid argument with my husband and realized that, yes, love can be blissful but it can also make you want to smash someones face in. (like multiple times) It brings forth a range of emotions that can only be described as catastrophic and slightly manic. Love is like taking acid. One minute everything is glitter and unicorns and the next, it’s thinking jumping off the roof is a swell idea. Is this too debbie downer? It wasn’t intended to be that way. I’m just being real. Because while I appreciate the eight million posts on social media that fool us all into thinking your life is perfect, guess what, everyone has highs and lows. Just the nature of the game. When you enter into the bond of love you are saying the following: yes we will kiss and have sex occasionally, sometimes I will crave you like a feral animal chasing dinner, but most of the time I will argue about something entirely meaningless for no reason, wear sweatpants to bed that have chinese food stains on them from eight dinners ago and at this point, I’m comfortable enough to snuggle up to you post run with no shower. (which is gross) This Valentine’s Day, Josh and I didn’t even exchange gifts. No card. No flowers. I think I murmured something slightly offensive to him this morning while pouring my coffee. After that, we put the kids on the bus and I made some brownies before work for Emma’s teachers. Which I should have done last night but just couldn’t bring myself to dirty one more dish. There wasn’t any romantic show of affection. I didn’t wake up to some grand gesture. Does this simply just happen as the years tick by? Who the fuck knows. At 6 in the morning, I don’t really give a single shit. I love him. We are in love. But sometimes, it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the big screen. Love is messy and intense. For me, Josh is the first person in my life that I have willingly sacrificed everything for without regret. I have never embraced compromise like I did when I met Josh. I had a lot of hard choices to make the first few months together. We took a lot of risks and thankfully they have paid off. The caveat to great love however, is that it can bring you up….and….take you right back down. Is it always worth it? Unequivocally, yes. I can’t tell you what my life would look like without him but I know this–it wouldn’t be nearly as sweet.

Outside of my relationship, the remains of love are scattered all over my heart. I love many things. I think love can motivate us in so many ways it’s almost inconceivable. If I love a particular food, I will travel an hour to eat it. If I love the way a piece of the world appears in a photo, I will imagine a way to go see it in real life. Sometimes it’s as simple as loving the way snowflakes fall and pulling myself out of a warm house to stand in the midst of it all. I feel love the most when I am in the kitchen and my children come in and discover something I have made for them. Their faces of sheer joy and delight are almost more than I can handle. In that moment, I am everything to them that matters in this whole world. And that memory; of that taste and my love, will hopefully linger within them for many years to come.

Take your tricky, over the top, sometimes annoying love and run with it today. It may not be cheap or easy but no doubt, it’s worth all the fuss.

Decadent Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients
5.5 oz (155 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2.5 oz (70 grams) bittersweet chocolate (62-70% cacao), chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (1 & 3/4 sticks/200 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 eggs
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Position the oven rack to the middle and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I lined it with parchmant paper with a little overhang, to make removal easier)

Place the unsweetened chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over (not touching) barely simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring continuously, until completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat, whisk in the melted butter until well combined and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the eggs in a mixer bowl and fit mixer with the whisk attachment. On low, slowly beat in the sugar for 1 minute, or until frothy and somewhat thick. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Using the spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture into the egg-chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer with the spatula. (Batter will be thick)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes- but start checking at about 20 minutes. They are done when a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few wet crumbs on it. If there is still liquid batter on the tester, they need more time. If the tester comes out clean, they are cooked through and will be just cakey (not fudgy too). Let them cool for 2 hours. They are so moist, they need this time to firm up enough to cut.

friday is cookie day. period.

You ever have one of those weeks when you lay out grand plans to accomplish all kinds of shit? Like Monday morning you’re in the car blasting some hood rat song that for some unfamiliar reason just gets you all kinds of riled up. Wearing your best jeans and j.crew’s modern day version of a blazer with a casual sweatshirt. (the best combo by. the. way.) You know that kind of week, coffee in hand, dreams in your mind, playlist ready, lunch in tow, gonna fuck some shit up kind of week. But then Friday comes along and you forgot all about that bender you went on Sunday when you couldn’t sleep and ordered 60+ pounds of organic flour (that really happened by the way), one of your kids end up sick, you figure out you might always hate your job a little and your jeans feel like someone shrunk them in the wash. (except deep inside you know the truth, pounds don’t lose themselves). Today’s Friday hit me like a ton of bricks. I feel radically disappointed in what I accomplished this week. (although I did run three days in a row to maximize every moment of nice weather we had) I want to get up and be all chipper every day but I have become the *worst* kind of morning person. Basically, when that alarm goes off I imagine flinging it right out the window and hitting some innocent person in the face who has the energy to be outside at that hour in the morning.

cookies-and-milk-1

Literally, I was so busy this week that I sustained myself solely on “kind milk” and stale walnuts I had in the car. Did not have time to get lunch one single day. Just sat in the office, sad and pathetic, staring at my computer screen, trying to troubleshoot design problems that are probably beyond my pay grade.

Yes, I suppose you could say I am feeling sorry for myself. So I made some chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t even eat one. BUT I do really enjoy Miles’ face when he walks in from school and smells fresh cookies, gets instantly delighted and proclaims that I am the best mom in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD with such enthusiasm that my heart just explodes into a million pieces. (Emma just rolls her eyes and walks away–SUCH A PEACH)

cookie-3

No joke, these cookies are the bomb. Simple, easy and incredibly tasty. It’s Friday, go make some cookies!! Or a million cocktails. Either one.

“your the best momma ever” chocolate chip cookies. 

ingredients:
2 sticks of organic unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 organic cage free eggs
1 teaspoon raw vanilla paste
2-1/2 cups heirloom wheat “00” flour (or use unbleached all purpose, whatever floats your boat)
2 teaspoons sea salt (coarse!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

method:
Preheat oven to 375, 350 degrees if using convection. Cream together in a mix on medium-high the butter, sugar and brown sugar. Scrape down the bottom as needed. This should take no less than 3 minutes (I do 5). Beat the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture. This will require additional scraping. You really want to make sure these ingredients incorporate well. Sift the flour and baking soda into the bowl. Add the sea salt. Mix on low only until ingredients are incorporated. Add the chocolate and mix on low for 30 seconds. Scoop onto a baking sheet, should make about 14 cookies. Cook until golden on the sides and just lightly browned in the middle. About 7-9 minutes per sheet.