Life

Oops

Do you know that moment that happens so fast. Like the blink of an eye? That’s the moment I realized I shut the door behind me. Locked. Keys inside. I was rushing around at the last minute as I needed to be somewhere soon. I was savoring a book I’d bought for Liam and I couldn’t put it down. It’s called The Giver. Jonas was turning twelve and he had just had the Stirrings. What was going to happen next? I looked at the clock and knew I’d have to rush to make it in time.

What is it they say when you make plans that dissolve in an instant?

plans

 

Usually it’s God’s way of telling you to slow down, right? Or maybe this time He was telling me – you’re going to slow. You want to lay around reading a book when you should be getting ready for your meeting? I’m going to lock you out of your house in the dead of winter while you can think that one over. Ha.

So there I was. Locked out. Luckily I had my coat on, but I quickly realized I hadn’t put my phone in my pocket. The phone that goes everywhere I do. I stood for several moments marvelling at the craziness of the situation. I told myself it could be worse. I’m warm enough. I’m a quick thinker. I’ll solve this.

My first thought was the secret key we keep when we get locked out. I would be a little late for my meeting, but I was relieved thinking I’d be back in the house in no time and then on my way. I went to said secret key place and found it keyless. Plan A went out the window. No phone. That was a biggie. Who was I going to call to my rescue? Our neighbors on either side work and there wasn’t a car in their driveways. Plan B. Check all the other doors.

Locked. Every single door was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Keep people out. Next up were the windows. I retrieved a ladder from the garage and dragged it through the snow, abutting it the the house along each window. Locked. Locked. Locked. I felt some semblance of peace knowing that we were safe from murderers and burglars, especially since Jim had left for Florida earlier in the morning. Next I found a big mallet and banged away at the back door which looked like a couple of good hard slugs would take it off. Nope. Solid.

I wasn’t getting in the house with anything I could come up with short of taking the mallet to a window which would be all too much trouble. Broken glass I’d have to replace before this evening when I’d already made plans to go skiing with Liam. Think, think, think.

Across the street, our neighbors were having work done on their house. Work that’s been ongoing since early fall and I knew I could at least amble over and borrow a phone if the homeowners weren’t there. I made my way to the garage where I found a young man working on a piece of wood over a sawhorse. He looked up, startled to see me. I quickly explained my predicament and he readily offered his phone. But not before relaying his own woefully long tale of being locked out of his running car.

I called Jim in Florida, hoping he’d have some idea of how to get me into the house. He told me to look in the secret place to which I explained I’d already come up empty there. My brother-in-law has a key but it’s likely he’s working out of town. He’d call since I only had the borrowed phone and I didn’t know anyone’s number off hand, this previously memorized information a victim of smartphones, a device that doesn’t require you to remember anything anymore, especially phone numbers.

A few minutes later he called back to report that my brother-in-law was indeed, out of town but their son was home and would be able to get me a key. If he could find it. By that point, Lisa, my across the street neighbor had come into the garage to find out what was going on. I briefly explained again the saga of how I locked myself out and she invited me in to look at the work they’d had done on their house.

Honestly, this was something I’ve been extremely curious about after seeing the non-stop flow of workers in and out of their house for the past four months. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be asked to see it since we weren’t friendly. It’s not that we don’t like each other, but my street is not a normal neighborhood where you get to know your neighbors. Especially the across the street ones since it’s a very busy road. The house is going to be gorgeous and the kitchen was a dream. A dream I’ll likely never experience for myself since we’re now owners of two homes which are both fine but not the stuff dreams are made of.

Tour completed and a last phone call to assure me my nephew was on his way with a key, I bid my goodbyes to Lisa and the workman, thanking them profusely for the kindness they’d shown a cast out in the cold, locked out neighbor. A few minutes later, I was back inside and found my keys and phone just where I’d left them. It was too late for my meeting so I sat down to write instead.

Do you have a woeful tale of being locked out that you’d like to share?

MC

 

 

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Life

Teach me to run

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I have been toying with the idea of becoming a runner in 2018. It’s a lofty goal because for the last 50 years I have absolutely abhorred the idea of running. The first memory I have of running dates back to about fifth-grade gym class when our teacher asked what everyone’s dream destination was. Do you know what’s coming? Well, we didn’t. Everyone yelled Florida, home of sunshine and Mickey Mouse. What came out of his mouth next was horrifying and chilling: OK, you’re going to run there. What?!

His brilliant idea was to find out how many miles to your dream destination (nearly 1400) and then over the course of the next several weeks (years!) we would run there mile by mile in a loop that encircled the playground and sports field next to our school. It’s amazing how many of us decided our dream destination was Hague, NY a nine-mile distance that seemed more reasonable, if not as enticing.

I have never been able to psyche myself up for a run. My mind seizes up, my breathing becomes shallow and my legs less sturdy even before I’ve taken a step. I managed to huff and puff my way around the field a few times that first day but soon after the “gym incident” I came into class with a note from my doctor that due to my diminished lung function, I should be excused from running.

I didn’t put much thought into running after that. It was just something I couldn’t do. Like a triple axel or vaulting over the horse in gymnastics. At a young age, I realized the limitations of my body. Years passed in this manner and then I got to high school. My mother had a rule that we always had to participate in a sport and when spring came, I was guided to Track and Field because I was a really horrible softball player. I think this was where my relationship with my mother went downhill for the next few years. It was a battle of wills and she won.

My fourteen-year-old mind had been brainwashed by that point that running was impossible. Even the coach (who was also my gymnastics coach) felt sorry for me and allowed me to ride along with her while everyone else was running a three-mile loop around town. I’ll never forget the time my mother caught me in the cab of coach’s truck following a pack of runners and I was unable to slink down in time so she wouldn’t see me. Coach stuck up for me though and made me her assistant of sorts. By senior year I wised up and joined the golf team. If only I’d done that sooner.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties. My primary doctor referred me to an allergist who she thought could help me with my sinus issues and asked if I had any preferences. I said I saw a Swedish doctor, Dr. Meuwissen, in my teens and since he was still practicing in the area she referred me to him. He was thrilled to see me again and asked the girl at the desk to find my files from the early 80’s which he said were in a storage closet in an off-site place. She rolled her eyes at his crazy request and I’m pretty sure she never found them. He was excited to catch up with me and hear how I was doing. He couldn’t get over it, really. We spent a lot of time together and he asked me questions other doctors hadn’t thought of. What time of year did I feel my best? What activities did I do? It was here we put two and two together that winter was a good season for me and skiing the perfect activity.

Skiing was months away at this point so he pulled out a prescription pad and wrote in his doctorly scrawl the word running. I balked. He was sure this would be the perfect activity for my lungs. I felt the easy camaraderie and pleasant exchange we were having drift into another realm altogether. He had a method, you see, and he was going to make me realize running was within my capabilities. Here’s what he wrote down on his pad and this would be my prescription for getting well.

Walk for 2 minutes. Run for 1 minute. Walk for 2 minutes.  Run for 1 and a half minutes. Walk for 5 minutes. Run for 2 minutes and on an on… He was so positive and hopeful that this was the answer for me and I didn’t want to let him down so I tried it. I’d like to say that it was a turning point in my life, in my mindset and I became this person who did the thing she didn’t think she could do. I imagined myself in years hence completing 5K’s and then marathons. Possibly even a decathlon.

The stark reality of it was that I couldn’t do it. My mind was a powerful thing and it kept blocking me from doing this for more than 5 minutes at a time. I felt defeated and decided I’d better not go back to see Dr. Meuwissen for fear of disappointing him. Many more years have passed, about twenty-five. But I’m ready to give it another go for one reason. I have barriers for sure but I can’t help having an overarching feeling that I can do more than I think I can.

If you have any tips or encouraging stories to share about how you came to love running, I’m all ears.

MC

 

 

Life

Making a plan for dinner

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I’m going to have to pass on undulate guys. My brain is just not clicking today.  What I want to talk about instead is meal planning. This is something I used to do several years ago and I thought since I’m trying to cut back on foods that are overly processed and sugary, this would be the best way to go about it.

Back in the early days of motherhood and when I was planning to go back to work after maternity leave, I knew it was time to get organized. Liam was turning one at the time and as I think back now, those were the easy days of juggling family calendars. But I knew meal planning was going to be important if I wanted to get a meal on the table every most nights.

Step one was to gather all my favorite recipes which I’d found online. One of my husband’s favorites is a recipe for chicken and shrimp with fusilli pasta from Epicurious. I had forgotten all about it until I dusted off my recipe binder last week. For any recipes I didn’t get online I either typed them up or pulled the index card from my previous attempt at organizing recipes to put in the binder.

Step two, the binder. I purchased a 2″ binder that was a bit oversized so I could add those sheet protector thingy’s and slide recipes right in them. I organized it by type of food and then created a sheet for the front of each section to reference recipes in some of my cookbooks. I noted the cookbook name, recipe and page number it could be found on. The binder also has pockets to keep handy things like conversions and small recipe booklets that didn’t fit in the pages.

Step three was to create a grid calendar for the year. I kept it simple so that several weeks fit on one page. The active page gets clipped to the front of the fridge where everyone can see the plan and once completed, it goes in a sheet protector at the front of the binder so I can use it for future planning ideas.

meal planning calendar

I would plan out the week each Sunday and fill in the daily menu (in pencil). If we were not going to be home for dinner, I usually marked where we ate out or if we had takeout. I still had my menus from years ago and it was a trip down memory lane of places we’d dined or if where we’d been on vacation.

Step four was to plan the shopping trip. After looking through the grocery flyers, consulting the well-loved recipes from the binder and perusing the internet for new ideas, I would set up the plan for the week. What I needed that could be used more than once during the week or if there was a special event that required a special dinner or what anyone had a hankering for.

I’m not sure why I ever veered off this plan because it was a really good way of keeping connected with everyone’s schedule for the week. Who had what and when that would interrupt the dinner schedule that week? I stopped planning and found myself standing in front of the fridge too many times to count until I made an executive decision we were going to either fend for ourselves, go out or have soup and grilled cheese. I’ve only just been back at it but it feels good to have a plan again.

After our shopping trip on Sunday, I spent the afternoon preparing meals for the week (including the above-referenced recipe for that night which was a major hit). Cutting up chicken, chopping veggies, fixing a lasagna that would be for later in the week. It has saved on time that I can now devote to other things like reading or playing a game with Liam and that’s a win for all of us.

MC

 

 

Writing

Best Laid Plans

How does this sound? You’ve cleaned up the morning dishes, cleaned up your writing room (it is the first room in the house as you come in the door and gets loaded up with coats, mittens, boots, nerf guns, you name it), the dishwasher is humming away, the dryer is spinning in the next room. You’ve got a large mug of hot tea by your side, journal and pen in hand, ready to write down your writing goals for 2018. The house is quiet, surrounded in fresh white snow and the family is at work and school and the dog is planted at your feet. Cozy, huh.

That was my intention today. It’s not how it went, though. Instead Liam had a snow day and I decided I better do some work from home because work has suddenly got super busy with beginning of the year reports to create and other things. Except I forgot my laptop at work! So at 6:45 a.m. I found myself greeted by a frigid morning as I made my way to my car to get to work. I stayed at the office for a few hours and then promised Jim I’d relieve him of parenting duties so I dragged my laptop back home to finish some work before I could spend time on my previously promised writing goal setting for the year.

Well folks, it’s about 5:30 and I just finished up my work today and my mind is completely frazzled, I’m in no condition to set goals right now. I was really looking forward to this day – my first Friday off without a kid, errands or illness since early November! While I don’t have anything specific written down yet, I do have a few ideas in mind and I hope to find to work on them tomorrow.

While I was working, I did listen Oprah’s book What I Know For Sure and came away with a big dose of inspiration about following my dreams. So here’s to best laid plans and making the best of things!

MC

books

Hopes and Goals

 

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Over and over we are told to write down our goals. Make them specific. Make them actionable. Make them accountable. Usually, I’m tempted to go overboard and decide to overhaul everything in my life from diet to exercise to a promise to write every day. I also throw in things like being more patient, showing more compassion to others and being more organized. While these are all good intentions, I think this year I need to be a little more realistic. While I do want to cut out sugar, I know it’s going to be baby steps. While I want to get to the gym more, I’m not going to make a rigid commitment to go every day. Same with writing.

One thing I’m going to commit to is to give other people positive feedback as much as possible. I follow a lot of authors on Twitter and have come to realize that they like to hear when you enjoy their work (makes sense!). I am an avid user of Goodreads to track my reading but have done very little by way of reviewing the books as I read them. I vow to change that this year and already have a couple of reviews under my belt. I realize this is only January 3rd so I’m going to ask a question that has always rattled around in my reading brain – do audiobooks count toward your total book count for the year?

Continue reading “Hopes and Goals”

Life

Happy Blogversary to Me!

I had a nice reminder from WordPress that today is my anniversary with them. Two years ago, in the mess of my life in early recovery from alcoholism, I decided to blog about my experience. I wrote mostly for myself but if I helped anyone else along the way, I would be happy a million times over.  It was a very tough year that included internal struggles, family struggles and the death of my mom just weeks before her 75th birthday.

At the end of 2016, I decided I wanted to create a fresh new start for the new year and locked up the old blog and started anew with iamwriting.blog. It was as if I was locking away my recovery (and the death of my mom) to say that part of my life is done, now onward and upward. But it turns out that is an integral part of who I am now and I thought it fitting to unlock my old blog in case anyone can use it to glean hope after putting away the alcohol. It is a truly worthwhile venture.

I was ashamed for so long about being an alcoholic. Like many others, I denied it and tried different ways to control it on my own and kept silent about it just for that reason and it wasn’t until these past two years of recovery that I’m becoming more comfortable in my own skin. While I don’t shout my disease and recovery from the rooftops, I feel blessed to have been on this path and for the people who have come into my life because of it. I have a new peace today that I never thought possible.  I used to be a daily drinker, many times to the point of blackout and even though I said over and over I wasn’t going to drink that day, I would, in the end, and I thought this was just how it was going to be.  I’m so grateful it’s not like that anymore.

So in honor of my blogversary, I decided to change the settings on my old blog from private to public and maybe someone who is ready to find their way to recovery will stumble upon it and find some comfort knowing others have traveled that same path before them.

Now onward to 2018.

MC

Life

Confession

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I am not who you think I am. We present ourselves to the world as we want to be seen, all our positive attributes on display as a freshly unfurled flag on the fourth of July. Privately, when absolutely no one is looking, I let all those ideals go by the wayside. There’s actually nothing I like better than to be on my own in my own house. It’s easy to want this because it’s a rare thing – I love my family dearly but I crave alone time.

What do I do on my own that I don’t want my family to know about? I am lazy. I spend an hour debating whether to just clean the house so I can relax without it hanging over me (because I do love a clean house) or just let it go until the last minute. Often times, I’ll clean up one small space where I plan to plant myself for the day, a book and tea and candy within easy reach. I don’t do the laundry because it’s impossible to ever be done with it, just as it’s impossible to keep a tidy house.

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Life

Cherish these moments

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I wasn’t ready for Christmas this year. The outdoor decorations didn’t get done the day after Thanksgiving and therefore did not get done at all save for throwing a wreath on the front door. A week ago we managed to get a tree and string some lights but it sat undecorated until 3 days before Christmas. I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling well and then it turned into pneumonia. I was happy enough to wrap myself in a blanket and read away the hours I should have spent on doing Christmas prep.

I was feeling a little down but not able to put my finger on precisely why. Maybe it was the unseasonably warm weather or that Liam mentioned over the summer he didn’t think Santa was real. Maybe I’m missing my mom more this year than last. Maybe I’ll never feel so joyful about Christmas again. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I was feeling pretty down that Liam didn’t believe any more and even though he hadn’t mentioned it again since that one time in the summer, I went through the season wondering how his “knowing” would change things. Our elf didn’t come either since I’m pretty sure he has a rule about waiting until we were all decorated before making an appearance.

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Writing

Read to write

my readingThis tweet from Lauren Groff (who I’ve never read but may have to change that next year) resonated with me and where I am at this stage. I haven’t been writing and that’s ok. I used to feel guilty or embarrassed or something that I professed to want to be a writer and yet not write and then I made myself write every day whether it be in my journal, on a random scrap of paper or in the drafts section of WordPress, never to see the light of day. I have over 20 drafts in my WordPress folder if anyone is counting.

Back in October, I was so excited to have Fridays free to write when I went to a four day work week. Guess what? That time began to fill with other things mainly related to parenting and home life. I finished up my Thursday night writing class a couple weeks ago having missed half of the eight sessions because even when I try, I find it impossible to put myself first for fear I’ll disappoint someone else.

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books

Reading Fever

downloadI decided to take a few days off from the blog. I’m going through a fanatical reading phase where I go from one book to the next and it’s hard once you get going to break the cycle. I finally finished Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere and while I loved it, I think some of it was lost because I was reading a few minutes here and there and didn’t have time to just take it in for longer stretches at a time. However, I didn’t want it to end and for days I kept wondering about what happened to the characters because it ended without resolution. Maybe she’ll bring them back for us someday. It’s so hard for me to review books because I don’t want to give anything away.

Continue reading “Reading Fever”