TGIF

If there is one thing that is sure to put me in a funk, it is January.  Just like some people are not morning people, I am not a January person.  I can not seem to get anything accomplished in January and my motivation drops below sea level.  The fog in my brain never lifted enough to pick up a pen or pluck at my keyboard.  So, TGIF – Thank goodness it’s February!  I woke up this week with a renewed sense of direction and am filled with optimism for the coming year.  In fact, I think I will start the new year anew by celebrating the Chinese New Year this Sunday February 10th.

Of course many people start the new year off with New Year’s resolutions.  I could not come up with any, other than the usual live in the moment and be a better person until I was out on my bicycle earlier this week.  Like I have said in earlier blogs, I have a mountain bike which I ride on the street.  This year I resolve to change that…I am going to hit the dirt!  One reason that I ride on the street is that it is easier.  I just hop on my bike and go. No having to load up the bike and search out trails.  It is hard enough to carve out time to ride with a teenager to chauffer around and a toddler hanging off my leg.  But this year somehow I am going to find some time to hit a few trails though because it just sounds fun.  Also, it will give me something new to think about and get motivated about.

My other resolution is to continue to get outside with my kids.  A couple weeks ago I took Ginger, now 4, on her first real hike.  We carried backpacks with a picnic and took a short hike to a nearby waterfall.  She was so excited to go on a “big girl” hike and can’t wait to go again.   I am a strong believer in getting kids out in nature.

I am not a great photographer, but I came across a picture recently that I want to share  that I took last March or April while on a hike with my teenage son.  It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen….thousands of ladybugs covering the ground, bushes and nearby trees.  So get out this year and hit a few trails whether on your bike or on foot…you never know what you might see!

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Humble Pie

       Undoubtedly the most universally humbling experience has to be that of getting older.  Anyone over the age of 35 would surely agree and if you are not yet that old I say, “don’t worry, your day will come!”  I experienced my share of humbling in the past week, starting with a hike I took with my 14 year old son, Shaun.  I consider myself to be in pretty good shape and felt well prepared for this hike, an 8 ½ mile trail to the top of Mt.Baldy at just over 10,000 feet.  In fact, I thought I was doing great except for the fact that Shaun was bounding ahead of me the whole time and every little bit stopping to call back, “come on mom!”, or “hurry up mom!”  I did take solace in the fact that several hikers who we passed stopped to commiserate with me over the exuberance of youth.  And as if the hike alone wasn’t enough to make me feel my age, it was the next several days when gimpy girl here was hobbling around with sore thigh muscles and Shaun, apparently unfazed from the hike, was off to run 4 or 5 miles with his cross-country team.  Not to be all negative though, I am still proud of myself for getting out there and I am thankful that I am blessed with the good health to be able to do it!

       It’s not just the creaking joints and slower recovery time that served to humble.  I also like to think I’m into what’s current in music.  I watch the Grammy’s and I’m even hip on electronic house music, at least  I know what it is.  But, no, it seems I am woefully slow in that department too.  You see, there are subgenres of electronic music and there is dubstep and all sorts of machines used to make this music of which I am still to be educated on.  And no matter how hip I think I am, I am still behind on the finer points of social media, texting acronyms and slang. 

       The mirror, of course, is the most humbling of all devices.  I don’t care how young at heart you are or how much hair dye and anti-wrinkle cream you apply or even if you partake of the needle or knife…..Mother Nature will eventually catch up to you.  Believe me, I’m sure even Heidi Klum has had her day facing the ever truthful piece of glass.  I am making peace with that vision I see reflecting back to me everyday….I am not always happy with it, but we are on speaking terms and I think we are going to be together for a long time.   The saying “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” resonates more fully as we age.

       Which brings me to my last point, there is humble pie to be eaten when we realize that yes, our parents were right about a lot of things.  Time does heal all wounds and the earth does not revolve around one person.  And remember some of those phrases they said that you swore you would never repeat to your own children like “money doesn’t grow on trees you know”, “because I said so!”, or “I have eyes in the back of my head that’s why”.  Yep, they will pop out of your mouth one day when you are not even thinking about it. 

       There are more humbling moments I’m sure, I just can’t remember what they are right now.

Watching from the Sidelines

         Now that the Olympics are over it’s back to my regularly scheduled life. I am always captivated by the Olympics, especially the summer games.  There is just something special about all these athletes from around the world getting together to compete and show off their sport to the whole world.  My only complaint is that most of the sports that I wanted to watch were on past my usual bedtime.  I don’t know why “prime time” is considered between 9 pm and midnight.  I think it should be more like 7 pm to 10 pm….but that’s just me… night owl I am not.  Thankfully I have discovered places to watch online, like through my Direct TV account so I can keep up with most of the action.  It sucked up large chunks of my day though.  Thank goodness it’s only once every 2 years (counting both summer and winter). 

             This year I found myself observing the parents of the athletes during and after the competitions.  Their faces were a roller coaster of emotions, fear, excitement, pride, devastation and joy.  It was their child’s journey, but they have been right there along with them for the ride.  Most of us parents spend a large amount of time taking our children to sports and other activities.  I can only begin to imagine the amount of time, money and sacrifice that the parents of the young Olympians have put into attending practices and events, buying shoes and outfits and helping them keep it all in perspective.  And for all the parents of the Olympians there are countless others out there who have put in the same time and effort for their children only to realize that it just wasn’t meant to be for them.   Hopefully they all find that the journey itself was worth the effort.

           I am rather looking forward to my own little parental journey.  After a three year break from organized sports, my son is now venturing into high school athletics and my calendar feels crowded already.   He is pursuing mountain biking and cross-country.  My only hope for him is that he has finally found his niche.  I mean really, this kid has tried a lot of sports: baseball, gymnastics, soccer, martial arts, lacrosse, volleyball, swimming, bmx, skateboarding, snowboarding (this one he likes and is pretty good at, but alas we only get to the snow about once a year), ice skating and a few others like basketball and tennis through PE at school.  I am particularly excited that he has decided to give cross-country a try.  I have been careful not to let him know this of course.  And I try to keep my own running advice to a minimum, which is hard for a blabber mouth like me.  I know I have to observe from the sidelines, pom-poms in hand, as he makes his way and finds his own motivation. 

 Keys in hand, I’m out the door now, time for the after-practice pick-up.

Motivation – May the force be with you

            Several months ago I was coming back from a run on a rainy morning when a neighbor saw me and commented “Now that takes motivation!”  I replied something innocuous like “oh, it’s just water.”  It really didn’t seem like that big of deal to me, a light rain, not too cold.  I have certainly endured worse weather during the time I lived in Wyoming and Colorado.  The comment got my mind going, though, on the subject of motivation.  What motivates me?  What motivates others?  On a very basic level we as human beings are motivated to seek shelter and food, generally achieved by going to work everyday or if you are so inclined, by mugging for cameras in the hope that celebrity alone will carry you through life.  There is, I guess, a certain kind of motivation that drives some people to just want to be a celebrity.  This is different of course from people who achieve a celebrity status because they have excelled at their craft.  One can see though that motivation is a complex set of factors that varies from person to person.  Some are motivated to achieve excellence in sports, others writing, acting, singing, painting, academics or a myriad of other pursuits.  Being motivated to simply be a good person or do good deeds is an admirable characteristic as well. 

             From my perspective motivation is like a constantly shifting energy force, a buzz in my head, a tug at my heart, a gurgling in my gut.  In my younger days I was motivated to exercise so I could look good in cute clothes and to work hard to move up, get promoted, earn more money and a bigger title.  At some point I became motivated to run races not just for fun, but to improve my time and maybe even place.  Not surprisingly, my motivational force shifted when I had a child, as if pregnancy itself changes your center of gravity.  Suddenly, keeping your child well and safe takes top priority.  Which is not to say that I still didn’t want to fit into my cute clothes or make money, it’s just not what was driving my highest motivational forces.  Life changes everything, right.

             When my now 14 year old son was just barely two, my husband passed away from cancer.  Having my son is what pulled me through.  My motivation to get out of bed and keep going everyday was to care for him and keep his world as normal as possible.  I changed careers because doing what you love in life seemed more important than just bringing home a paycheck.  Exercise became more a way to help me keep my mental health intact than to achieve anything.  Time goes on and I have since remarried and had another child, now 3 2/3, as she will readily tell you.  Being over 45 and having a toddler, my biggest motivation these days is staying healthy so I will be around to see my children have children!  I am also motivated to do more writing, something I have always enjoyed but never allowed myself time to pursue.  Ok, I’ll come right out and say it, I am motivated to get something published!  Again, life is tenuous, do something that makes you smile.  And when you feel that motivational energy force grab hold of it and let it pull you forward, you never know how far it will take you.

            One last note on children being a motivational force…my son and I are going to be going on an adventure in a few months, climbing Mt Whitney with some good friends.  At14,505 feet it is the highest peak in the contiguous United States and can be climbed without the use of mountaineering equipment.  More about this adventure in future blogs, but I will admit that I am very motivated right now to get myself  in good condition not only to accomplish  this goal but to not get shown up (at least not too much) by a 14 year old on our climb!