My Leap List

Saturday, May 31, 2014

When You Are Going Through Hell, Keep Going

     When you are going through Hell, there is nothing you can do but keep going.  If you stop, you will never get out alive, but man, it's tough to keep going.  I don't know why the past few weeks have been so hard.  I've been through some really dark times, and these shouldn't have even come close, but these were brutal.
     My passion is helping at-risk kids, but the one thing I never understood until now was how they could willing fail at something they could ace if they would only try.  I guess it was time I learned that lesson for myself.  I let a change in my life knock me down.  I personalized and internalized something that I shouldn't have.  I felt like a failure and had let people down.  I took that energy with me into a high stakes test.  One of those tests that I hate, but get through in one piece.  Not this time.  The more people told me I would be fine, the more I froze up.  I couldn't even start.  I sabotaged myself.  It would be easier to fail because I didn't do it than to try my hardest, and fail anyway.  The only thing that got me through it was thinking of all the people that say they are inspired by my honesty, including my daughter.  I didn't want this to be the example I set for her.  Even though I procrastinated until it was almost physically impossible to finish the test, I did it.  At the end, I was going on 6 hours of sleep in 3 days, but I finished it.  I won't know for a few weeks how I did, but I am okay with whatever happens.  I hope I learned the life lessons I needed to learn so I don't have to be there again.
     Now it's almost time to leave a place that will always have a special place in my heart.  Time to say goodbye to my friends.  Life always works out for the best, even in the darkest times when I can't imagine how things can ever be light again.  So, I am sending all my love to the people and place I love.  And I am focusing on new beginnings.  Having faith that I will be where I need to be for the people who need me.  I hope my angels are ready for this new adventure, cause I think I will need some extra feathers on this journey.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sabotage and Superheroes

     I am facing some big challenges in my life this week.  Not life and death challenges, but the existential kinds that define you.  I was thinking of being quiet today.  I don't come off looking too great in these moments, and there are so many real tragedies going on in the world.  But, as my sister says, life is about "ands", not just "ors." I can be grateful that I am alive, working, able to do so many things others can't do, "and" be struggling with my own internal conflicts.
     It's challenging to have other people control part of my fate.  It goes against my nature.  I like to be in control of everything.  In my magical thinking, my control keeps the world safe and stable.  This week I had choices made for me that were hard and made me feel unworthy.  I am trying to keep my faith through the darkness that everything turns out for the best in the end, even though I can't see it right now.
     This wasn't the best way to start my comprehensive exam for my doctorate degree.  It's a high-stakes test that will decide if I can become a doctoral candidate, rather than a doctoral student.  That means I can work on my dissertation and graduate.  If I don't pass, I will be asked to leave the program.  Everyone keeps telling me I will do fine, but that just adds to the internal pressure I feel.  The test started yesterday.  I found myself staring at the computer all day with nothing to say.  I cleaned the house.  I answered e-mails.  I played games.  I did anything but focus on my test.  I realized I am sabotaging myself.  It's better to fail because I didn't really try than to really give it my all and fail anyway.  I feel this way a lot, but on my good days I can usually push through the darkness.  The earlier news of the week made me feel like a failure.  I couldn't seem to convince myself that this would be any different.
     Luckily, I am better at doing things for other people than I am at doing things for me.  I joined a group called I Run 4 Michael.  The group matches people who can run with people who can't.  I am blessed to be matched with a cute little boy in England as my coach.  Luke has autism, and life is challenging for him and for his mom.  Luke's favorite superheroes are Batman and Spiderman, so Mandy and I decided to do the Hero 5k dressed as his favorite superheroes.  Before I had Luke in my life, I never would have thought about doing a 5k, but the thought of making him happy to see the pictures was enough to make me sign up.  It also seemed perfect because the money helps kids in foster care, another cause I am passionate about now.
     Mandy and I started the race.  We made it to the first marker and could have turned around, but we decided to keep going.  About 150 feet from the halfway marker, we were painfully regretting our earlier decision.  We sat down for a moment, took a breath, and both said, "Let's finish it."  We kept going, made the turn, and headed into the second half of the race.  When we finally got to the finish line, everyone had packed up and left.  I was sunburned, had bleeding blisters, and felt exhausted, but I finished it.  I didn't sabotage the race.  And let me tell you, there were all kinds of real excuses that I could have used today.
     Sometimes life gets hard.  Sometimes you choose to be the villain and sabotage your success.  Sometimes you choose to stay in the race and see it through, even if no one is waiting at the finish line.  Today I chose to be someone's superhero.  Tomorrow I will choose to be my own superhero and give my whole self to the test.  I might fail, but sometimes the glory is in the doing, not the results.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mom Lessons

     I was convinced being a mom wouldn't change anything.  Like adding one more person to the mix was no big deal.  Cosmic humor made sure nothing in my life stayed the same.  Other moms had it all together, and I felt like the worst mom ever.  I didn't know we all pretend we are fine because everyone else is pretending to be fine, and none of us wants to be the first to admit we are anything but fine.  When my daughter was a few months old, I started writing her letters.  I decided from the start that I would tell her the true story.  The good, the bad, the ugly, or so the saying goes.  I didn't want her to become a mom and feel as alone as I felt.  I wanted her to know that everything she was going through really was fine, not the pretend fine.  These are some of the highlights and lowlights.
  1. You will end up doing all of the things you swore you would never do.  Sorry to all those moms I judged before I had kids. 
  2. Your heart can actually expand and love each baby just as much as the one before.
  3. Turns out you may have a Jekyll and Hyde personality that is dormant until you have kids.  You can be the most reasonable, polite person... until someone hurts your child.  
  4. You will hide in the bathroom so you can have 5 minutes by yourself.
  5. The word "mom" is the best word in the world, but there are days when they whine it so many times, you will want to change your name.
  6. They are not mini-you's, even at the start.  
  7. When I was a kid, there was a commercial with a lady in a dress and high heels cooking bacon while singing, "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you're a man."  Turns out you can have it all, but you have to redefine your "all."
  8. You will cry when they get shots, broken hearts, and feel jaded with life.
  9. You will be more tired than you ever thought possible, but you will still jump up in the middle of the night when they need you.
  10. Most of the time you are winging it, and you will make mistakes. You just hope the words you say and the things you do in the important moments help more than harm.
  11. Babies smell good.  
  12. You might not mean to, but somehow along the way, you will create a vision of their futures.  You have to mourn that loss, and let them create their own versions.
  13. You can't have an ego and still sing, dance, run through sprinklers, or have lightsaber fights.
  14. When your kids think you are beautiful just the way you are, you stop judging yourself so harshly.
  15. You will learn unconditional love from the way they love you.  
  16. You will begin to see magic in everything when you see it through their eyes.
  17. Just when you think you have it down, another baby comes, and everything changes again.  
  18. You will be the only one bored watching the same movie over and over again.
  19. Time changes as a mom.  Days seem to last forever at the beginning and then you blink and they are all grown up.  
  20. It is worth every single hard thing because they will be the best part of you.
Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lessons of Love

     I have learned a lot from being married for 25 years. It's hard to admit life isn't perfect, but the beauty is in the cracks.  Kintsugi is a Japanese tradition of mending the cracks in pottery with gold.  I am stronger and more beautiful because of my cracks.  Today I celebrate the breaks, the light, and the gold from a quarter century of love.

  1. You can't always get what you want. But sometimes you get even more than you hoped.
  2. Love is unique.  If you try to compare your love to someone else's, it will always come up short, but their love will always come up short to yours.
  3. You can love and hate someone at the same time.
  4. Love doesn't keep life from stomping in, but it can lead you home again.
  5. Love burns hot and freezes cold.  Both destroy you if left uncontrolled.
  6. It's okay that you don't have the same love you did at the beginning.   
  7. Sometimes you have to be quiet.  Even when you are REALLY, REALLY RIGHT!  
  8. The person you love most can hurt you the most.
  9. You really can feel your heart physically break.
  10. Sometimes you have to do what is best for the person you love, even if it hurts you.  Even if it hurts a lot.
  11. Don't measure how much someone loves you by how well they read your mind.
  12. Focus on what is right instead of what is wrong.  Love is imperfect.  You will always find what you look for because they are both there.
  13. If you give everyone else all the best parts of you, you won't have anything left when you get home.
  14. If you keep score, you both lose.
  15. Trust your intuition.  
  16. Some things can't be fixed with apologies, but say them anyway.
  17. You can love more than one person at the same time.
  18. Love can stretch enough to let you both have different friends and interests.  
  19. Love can heal places you didn't even know were broken.
  20. Love makes you brave enough to do things you never thought you could do.
  21. Jealousy will kill you.  There is a reason it is called a green-eyes "monster."
  22. It's the little things you do all the time that make the biggest differences.  Don't wait for the big gestures.
  23. Even though he loves you no matter what, you should let him see you at your best sometimes, not just your worst.
  24. Forever is a really long time.  It's a good idea to have a friend with you, not just a lover.
  25. No matter how dark it gets, the light always returns.  

I never knew the boy I met in French class 30 years ago would become my best friend, the dad to our two kids, and see me through the best and worst moments of my life.  Love is beautiful, cracks and all.