Note to Self: You Ran

Hello there. It’s late. You’re tired. But not as tired as you’d expected. You’ve still got a few more hours of work to do, and you just might make it. You’ve been a specimen of productivity today, kicking your to-do list’s tushy and takin’ names. And you did this on only 1.5 cups of coffee and NO pop! Amazing. So, what’s your secret? What gave you this steady stream of energy today?

You remember, right? You got up this morning…and ran. You laced up your clunky running shoes, squeezed into your too-tight running shorts, threw your badly-in-need-of-a-cut hair up into a ponytail and you ran. You ran as hard as you could, and as long as you could. You sweated. You gasped. You ran. Your thighs jiggled, but you ran. Your feet turned to lead, but you ran. Your breathing was labored, but you ran.

You. Ran.

By Peter van der Sluijs (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

You collapsed back into your car after only a short distance. You didn’t catch your breath until you were several miles down the road. Your sweat created a sealant between your skin and the leather seat. You limped into the house. Your soaked sports bra adhered to your skin, giving you a mini panic attack before getting in the shower. You washed the sweat away, but the feeling remained. The high. The sense of accomplishment.

You. Ran.

Do it again. Soon.

Love, Me

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Momazing Monday: Teacher and Mother of Four Walks (and Runs) the Talk

Kristy and Doug Martin with their four boys (Derek-17, Dustin – 15, Dawson – 10 and Dylan – 8)

“For years I have pushed the theory of ‘carpe diem’ to my students, and now I had to put my money where my mouth was.”

Seventeen-year teaching veteran Kristy Martin not only has “walked the talk” of this advice to her students, but she’s “run the talk,” lacing up her sneakers every day to prove to herself, and no one else, that she can go the distance.

With four boys (now ages 17, 15, 10 and 8), it would have been easy for Kristy to laugh off her husband’s desire to join the Army National Guard in 2009, when he was 38 years old. “Although it kind of hit me out of nowhere, I didn’t laugh. He said he had wanted to do it when he was younger, but because of his heart murmur, he was disqualified. He underwent testing later and the murmur had healed, so physically he was clear to go. If Doug wanted to ‘seize the moment’ and try something in his life while he still could, I was all for that.”

Wow. Her selflessness and love for her husband is inspiring. With only two little ones at home to tend to, I wouldn’t have laughed at my husband either, I probably would have cried. Or yelled. Or threw a fit. But not Kristy. Although she worried about money, house repairs, shuttling kids, etc.,  she just kept telling herself that he would be back.

It wasn’t easy, though. Doug was stationed in Djibouti, Africa from January 2011 to February 2012, and couldn’t return home from until June of this year after going through extensive physical therapy for a shoulder injury. “The thing that frustrated me the most was the uncertainty of everything – where he was, when he could call, was he OK?” Help from friends and family kept Kristy going. Although looking back, she wishes she’d accepted more assistance when it was offered. After all, raising four boisterous boys, an assortment of cats (they once had 16), an occasional turtle, frog, toad, lizard, or spider wasn’t easy.

Kristy stood by her man as he fulfilled his dream of military service, just like he’d stood by her through her journey to healthy living.

“While he was gone I was both mom and dad, and there were days that it was hard to handle. I remember freaking out when a car broke down or washer needed repairs just because it seemed like it was just one more thing I had to take care of. I also missed out on some things since I needed to stay with the boys. But Doug was also very reassuring. I would unload to him over Skype, and he had a way of just getting me to calm down and put things in perspective.”

Looking back now, Kristy is glad she and Doug seized the moment, and took the leap of faith. Doug was able to fulfill a lifelong dream, and set a great example for his four sons. The oldest boys,  Derek and Dustin, are  considering joining the military and the youngest, Dawson and Dylan, beamed with pride when their dad came to their school in uniform.

And if holding up the fort while her husband was serving our country isn’t enough of a reason for Kristy to be ‘Momazing,’ she has also been through an incredible journey of her own. In September 2004, shortly after her youngest son turned one, she decided to kick her walking routine up a notch. ” I started running in small distances just to see if I could do it.” And do it she could! She lost a total of 120 pounds, and now runs an average of six miles a day. “People freak out when I tell them how far I run, but it took me more than a year to work up to that (and only because I wanted to, not for anyone else).”

Kristy happens to live in my hometown, and she is a constant presence on the city streets. It’s just Kristy, her headphones and her perseverance, pounding out step after step. Her advice to moms who’d like to run? “Don’t feel as if you have to compete with anyone. I really don’t care how fast I am or how far I go. I just go until I am finished. Most of all, do it for yourself.”

She credits Doug for being her supporter. He stayed with the kids while she ran, didn’t complain about the new healthy foods she cooked, and didn’t chastise her for cheating or having some bad days. But aside from her family support and her iPod (you never see her without it), she also has another weight loss “secret.”

Kristy started running races last year to try something new. She’s planning to run a marathon in October, so she must like it!

“I didn’t have a “goal weight” or a structured plan. I just did what was comfortable for me. I didn’t tell people I was trying to lose weight. It was kind of like my secret. But I think what helped the most is that I was finally doing it for myself.” Well, Kristy’s journey to healthy living is certainly no secret now, and her success is an inspiration not only to moms who’d like to lose extra weight, but to those who just want to be stronger as well. Kristy plans on running the Prairie Fire Marathon in October, and I have no doubt she will finish successfully.

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”  – Henry David Thoreau

From her courage to parent four boys while her husband served overseas to her determination to push her body to its physical limits, Kristy certainly has proven that she’s  lived (and continues to live) life to the fullest. She’s seizing each moment, and for that, she’s Momazing!

Momazing Mondays: I’ve decided to put my creative skills to use and tell the stories of mothers who are truly unique, inspirational and amazing. If I have enough stories, I’d like to post one at the beginning of every week. Please send me an email at catherine DOT poland AT gmail DOT com if you know of a momazing mother. Read other Momazing Monday stories here

Why I Let A Stark Raving Lunatic Run Through Our Yard

Around here, we don’t have many neighborhood disturbances. Things are calm. No domestic disputes (except ours), unsupervised children run amok (except ours) or overgrown lawns in desperate need of a weed-whacking (except ours). Then again, we don’t have any neighbors. Oh sure, we consider each other “neighbors,” but we never have to worry about whether or not anyone can see us sitting at the kitchen table in our underwear eating Apple Jacks (my daughter, not me).

If we had actual next-door neighbors, they would have been in for a treat last night. Right at dusk, a stark raving lunatic ran through our yard. And across our yard. And around our yard. Her face seemed eerily void of all emotion, almost as if she was trying to block out some trauma that had just occurred. She zigged, she zagged. She upset our poor black lab and sent her into hysterics in her kennel.

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I probably should have called the cops, but something told me she was harmless. Just a crazy, emotionally spent woman who needed to run, and run, and run, and run. And besides, I just didn’t have the heart to call the authorities…on myself.

It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad evening at the Poland household. My eldest daughter was overly tired and very hungry, the perfect storm for a monsoon meltdown. (We’re using the “reality discipline” approach of “no supper, no snacks” to thwart her finicky eating. The approach may just be a bit too “unrealistic” for this family.)

She bit. I yelled. She screamed. I threatened. She even went after the jugular with, “I don’t love you anymore Mommy!” (This one hurt the most.) My daughter is not a bad kid, she’s just struggling with her own lack of independence when she can understand and communicate with the world around her at a level far beyond her years.

So, after caving to her request to watch a movie in her toy room instead of go to bed (I was that desperate, judge away), I headed outside to do the watering. My husband had a highly legitimate reason to be gone, or I would have been muy resentful at his absence.

After dragging the garden hose across our wide expanse of a yard, I made a decision. I was going to find a way to shake this frustration instead of continuing to snap, crackle, pop at my daughter, or dumping it all on my husband’s head when he walked through the door.

I set the hose at the base of the first cedar, and ran. Sprinted all the way around the house. It felt great, so I kept going. Second cedar, sprint around the shop. Third cedar, sprint to the house and back. Fourth cedar, and so on. While the coyotes howled less than a quarter of a mile away, a wild animal of a different sort hoofed it all over our five acre spread. By the time I finished watering, I was tame.

My unconventional workout soothed my frayed nerves, and helped me revert back to “calm mom” from “old yeller.” This new-found patience and peace of mind couldn’t have come at a better time, when after my daughter was supposed to be in bed, she snuck into the bathroom during my long, hot shower,  pulled back the curtain and said, “Read me a book, mommy.” So I did. And we ended the night with cuddles and kisses, just as I’d hoped.

Lesson learned? The next time a stark raving lunatic is running through your yard, let her. Let her scream, let her vent, let her get it all out of her system. As someone’s grandfather used to say (sounds more credible that way), “Better to have a lunatic outside than in.”