Margaret Domnick - The Inside Story...

I'm a woman, mother, friend, sister, daughter, wife and partner in crime. I'm spontaneous, anal, loud, loving, funny (or at least I think I am), and generally honest. Sometimes I get these thoughts... so I've created this blog to share them. Feel free to respond, but be kind...did I mention that I'm sensitive?



Thursday, December 29, 2011

2012 Inspirations...

Are you ready for the New Year? I'm getting ready. I don’t know about you, but I always have a list of things to start on January 1st. I don’t really understand why I wait until January 1st, I mean every morning is a new beginning, I could just as easily pick a Thursday and get going…but I don’t, I wait. And, while I’m waiting I take advantage of the last few days of not doing whatever it is I’m waiting to begin. Seriously, I’ve had ice-cream every single night since Christmas…because I’m waiting ‘till New Year’s Day to eat healthier. It makes no sense, but I know I’m not the only one!

Since I don’t really like the word “resolution”, I make New Year’s “inspirations”. Some of them are universal, like losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more...etc. But, I have a few others on my list that I’ll invite you to do with me.

In 2012 I will:

1. …find the good. I will find the good in people, in situations, at work, in the news, and in myself. I will choose to focus on the good; and there is always good to be found.

2. …say only (or at least mostly) nice things. My grandma once told me that every word I said should be a gift to whomever I said it. I will work to accomplish that task. Of course, I’ll allow myself brief periods to vent to my hubby and a few close friends, but not too often.

3. …spend time with people I enjoy, who also enjoy me. I’ve been hanging on to some friendships that aren’t healthy and it’s time to let them go. I will spend time with happy people, people who like themselves, who inspire me, who like to laugh, and who let me be myself. Goodbye to negative friendships!

4. …be honest. I will be honest with myself about everything; including money, calories, sex, exercise, time commitments, and emotions.

5. …really experience what happens in my life. I only get to live once, so I want to soak it all up, the good and bad, the happy and sad; I will acknowledge it, feel it, learn from it, and own it!

I’m sure I’ll come up with a few other inspirations to add to the list, but I think I have a pretty good start. And, come Sunday, I’ll be ready to go. Right now though, I need to dish up some ice-cream – yum!

Margaret

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Magic of Christmas 2011

Once again, I find myself at the end of a blessed year. I can look back on 2011 and feel joy. I live a life that allows me to take so many things for granted. My children are healthy, my parents are well, and I have a stable job, a reliable car, and a home full of laughter. But still, sometimes I find myself just going through the motions of my life. My schedule is so packed with games and work and responsibilities that I don’t always appreciate the experiences it offers. That’s how Christmas has been this year. I put up my tree with half the lights not working and that's as far as I've gotten. I haven’t decorated at all. I just don't have the energy or the Spirit to do so. I think that happens to everyone sometimes.

But last weekend, I went to Kansas City to celebrate Christmas early with my family. I was completely stressed with all that needed to get done before I could leave. I was grumpy most of the morning and we piled into the car frustrated and late. We went to the nursing home first to pick up my dad, and my heart melted (as it always does) while walking down the corridors to his room. There are so many forgotten people in this world, and I was upset because I was late getting home to spend Christmas with my family. We weren't THAT late, and it ended up being a perfectly wonderful day.

It was perfect because we took time to enjoy each other. We smiled, hugged, laughed and joked. It was loud, crowded, and fun! It was the first time since we were little that all my siblings and all their families made it home for Christmas on the same day. Every descendent of Philip and Julie Hanson were present in their house at the same time. We took one of those big pictures with everyone squeezed together that many years from now will be old and tattered and worn, and no one will remember who we are. It was magical. And I know that it may or may not ever happen again.

Life is unpredictable. This year a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. I watched another friend lose her child and another bury her mother. Sad things happen everyday, and I know at some point, those things will happen in my family; in all of our families. We only get to live once, and it’s our responsibility to live the best life possible. We can't control what happens to us, but what happens is life and it is precious. Time is precious too. It doesn't make sense to waste that time being angry or hurt or frustrated or anything but honest and genuine and faithful. This is your life, your time; make the most of it! Merry Christmas!

Margaret

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To My Daughter on Her 18th Birthday

Dear Daughter,

Happy Birthday Sweetie! I have so many thoughts and emotions running through my mind right now that I’m not even sure where to begin writing. I could share a bunch of clich├ęs with you; tell you how fast time flies, how much happens in the blink of an eye, how “just yesterday…”, but I’m not going to tell you that. I knew this day would come because I watched you get here. I watched you learn to crawl and walk and run and jump. I listened to you cry, scream, giggle, talk and sing. I watched you with your friends; the ones you liked and the ones you didn’t. I saw when you were hurt and happy and confused and mad and scared and frustrated and tired. I watched you grow and learn and believe. I stood by you when you made good decisions, and when you made bad ones too. I knew when you were lying. I helped you learn about consequences. I was there when you understood your homework, and when you didn’t. I sat on the bleachers for t-ball, softball, basketball, volleyball, cheer, dance, plays, banquets and parent meetings. I supported you always. I still do. I watched you fall and I watched you get back up; when you didn’t get back up, I pulled you. I talked with you about choices and feelings and decisions and life. I told you what you wanted to hear and what you didn’t. I told you what you needed to know and checked up to make sure you were listening. I taught you life’s lessons. I told you “yes” and “no” and “absolutely not!” I hugged you, trusted you, believed in you, and loved you unconditionally – and I always will. You are my child and I am your parent. I love who you were and who you are and I’m sure I’ll love who you will become.

I know that you’ll be fine, even wonderful, on your own. Remember to always trust your intuition. If something feels right, it’s probably right; if not, it’s probably not. Remember to believe in yourself; it’s better to try something crazy than to wish you had tried it once the chance has passed. Remember to be honest and genuine and tactful; learned skills that take practice. Remember that love is never enough; a good relationship of any kind involves trust, respect, and laughter too. Remember to exercise every day - yes, every day. Remember to choose happiness and smile, even when you don’t feel like it. And please remember to call your mother often; she’ll be thinking of you.

I didn’t tell you, but this afternoon I snuck down to your bedroom and sat for a while. I became a bit tearful thinking about today being the last birthday you’ll be home. Today was the last birthday morning I’d be able to sing to you in bed, or set out birthday surprises for you to wake up to. But, isn’t that the way it should be? We should become sad when something wonderful ends – but this end will bring new beginnings, at college, in your new apartment, starting your new job, meeting a new guy…etc. I can’t wait to share the rest of your life with you, as your friend. Happy birthday baby! I love you!

Mom

Monday, September 26, 2011

Decide Already!

Life is simply a series of decisions. You wake up each morning, face your day, make choices as necessary, and then live with the outcome of those choices. Each decision affects the next to some extent, and one day at a time, one choice at a time, you build your life.

You start out with simple things like choosing a book to read, shoes to wear, or a snack to eat. You pick favorite colors and yummiest flavors. You decide who to invite, where to go, and what to buy. Eventually, you’re volleying study habits, college applications and future career options. Throw drinking, driving, dancing, dating, and dieting into the mix and you see where I’m going.

And, it’s really fun! At first it’s fun because it’s just you, and it’s pretty easy to be happy with the choices that affect only you. You decide how late to party, what to do the next day, what classes to take and what classes to skip. You decide where you want to eat and how much you want to spend. You buy your own clothes and groceries. You pick your first car and your first job. Then, maybe you meet someone and it’s still fun. You go on vacations, spend crazy amounts of time together, fall in love, make wedding plans, tell stories and decide your future. You have a baby, name her, love her, play with her, and imagine how boring your life would be without her. You have another baby, and make those decisions again, and again, and again. And it’s still fun.

But, now it’s also kind of hard too. Now your decisions aren’t just about you and your life. Now everyone’s watching and judging. It’s hard because your life is intertwined with other people’s lives. You’re bombarded with other’s interactions, other’s decisions, and other’s outcomes. You compare your life with those around you, and begin to second-guess whether you made the best decisions earlier in your life. Sometimes you might feel guilty about how your choices affect your family, your career, your friends, your income, your future…and so on. Each decision seems much more complicated, more important and more stressful. Um, it's not so fun.

As we get older, it becomes more important for us to be happy with the decisions we make. And it’s more difficult to be happy. I used to think I could just choose happiness, but I now know that it isn’t that simple. Happiness is a balance of choices, and if the balance is off, you just can’t quite be happy. You want to be happy, you think you should be happy, you try to be happy, but you can’t. And I think to get that balance you have to make decision-making fun again. It's true that your choices will still affect your family and your future, but if you can focus on what matters in your life, and decide what you want to do, who you want to be, and how you want to live; if you can block out the comparisons to other people's lives, you can be happy. It has to be a little bit about you!

Margaret

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recap - Courage Classic Bike Ride

I know you’ve all been waiting to hear how the Ride went…so, here’s the scoop! It's kind of long, but it was a three day ride...

It was cool the first morning of the ride. I had borrowed arm and leg warmers (didn’t even know they existed for riders until a week or so beforehand) and had them on with my riding shorts, jersey and wind jacket. I felt kind of funny since nothing matched, but hey, I was warm. So, everyone was parking their bikes and walking around near the start, so I parked my bike too and followed someone to see what might be happening and found myself at the port-a-potty. I laughed, then went, then looked for someone I recognized.

I found a small group of “Gene Teamers” and hung by them. We took some pictures, waited for a few other people, then grabbed our bikes and headed to the start. It was much more casual than I had expected, but hey, this was a RIDE, not a RACE, so I guess casual is perfect.

The ride started on a downhill, and I reached 29mph quickly and was hooked! I was freezing, but I laughed and hooted and smiled anyway and soaked it all in. The mountains were all around me, the trees were gorgeous, and the air was crisp. I felt like I was a character in a book “…she flew down the hill on her bike, hair flailing behind her, the wind smacking her face as she peddled faster and faster…” It was an amazing moment that I will always remember. “This is it”, I told myself, “and I love it!”

I knew that I had two big climbs before lunch. As I began the first ascent, I felt strong. I passed a person, then another, “this isn’t so bad”. I felt my legs tighten and my speed shorten, but it was still good. The climb lasted about 6 minutes or so and when I got to the top I thought “one down, one to go”, but it really wasn’t one of the climbs; it was just a little starter hill. When I got to the first real climb, I understood why the first one was a hill. I conquered Tennessee Pass and was pleased. But on Battle Mountain, the second climb, I wasn’t so impressive. I started strong, but it was so steep! I stopped several times (OK, five) to stretch my quads, drink water, and catch my breath. Every new start felt good and eventually, I got to the top. My team was waiting for me up there :) and I was only about a minute behind the last of them. Not too shabby! We rode 36 miles before lunch, and I was tired.

Lunch was fun. Hundreds of bikes parked and/or laying on the ground (most road bikes don’t have kickstands). I learned not to lay my bike on the gears, nice to know. Everyone hung out on the grass eating sandwiches and pasta salad, talking about the morning challenges, seeing faces from previous rides and introducing new friends. I loved it. I felt like I belonged and no one knew I was an imposter. Everyone discussed the “worst part of the ride” coming up after lunch, Vail Pass. I was sore and tired and worried. A few other riders were lined up for the SAG van; a ride to the next aid station. They convinced me to join them, understanding that stopping five times on Battle Mountain, a three mile uphill, didn’t bode well for success at Vail Pass, an eighteen mile uphill! I gave in and rode the Sag, but I regretted it. THINKING I needed to Sag and actually NEEDING it is not really the same thing. I should have tried. I’m OK with failing much more than not trying. Lesson learned…I will attempt Vail next year!

Well, I picked up at the very next stop, completed the rest of that day's miles and finished strong. Crossing the first day finish was fun, although I didn’t really feel like I deserved it, since I skipped part of the ride.

Day two also started out cool and crisp. I had my mismatched leg and arm warmers and wind jacket on. We started with a long, crazy fun, cold downhill. I left Wichita in 112 degree heat, so the 59 degree temp was refreshing. I maxed out at 34mph before hitting my breaks out of fear. I rode alongside a new friend and asked her many biking questions. I learned about “feathering” my breaks instead of “riding” them, and I learned how to ride downhill in the highest gear for more control that allowed for continued peddling. Honestly, I really didn’t know much about my gear capabilities or techniques before that point…imposter! In fact, before that conversation, I laughed at the riders peddling on the downhills, wondering why they weren’t just coasting along like me. Suddenly, I was a peddler and I liked it!

After a Chinese lunch (I usually love it, but not on a bike ride. I chose the PB&J option) we headed out. The afternoon promised more uphill riding. I watched the other bikers pass me when I pulled over to stretch, drink, and rest, and I saw that they were all breathing hard and riding slow too. Everyone was struggling, but they didn’t stop. I figured out that getting up the mountain slopes required mental toughness; not my strongpoint. “I will not stop again”, I told myself, “I can do this”. And off I went… The very next climb was an eight mile stretch. I began shifting down as needed and got myself into a little cadence and worked hard to hold it. “I will not stop” I repeated over and over. I couldn’t look up the mountain, because it just kept getting steeper and steeper and longer and longer. I started finding rocks just a few feet in front of me and I’d ride to the rock…then the next rock…and the next. I rode rock-to-rock most of the miles and felt FANTASTIC when I reached the summit! Ok, my body was sore and tired and jelly-like, but my brain was screaming with joy!! I was able to maintain an average speed of 7mph and got to the top in about an hour; that's an hour of riding all uphill! I continued riding more miles to the finish and went through feeling proud and accomplished. Then I learned that The Gene Team always waited for each other to finish together; so I walked my bike back out, waited for the Team, and went through the finish again – and it was more fun with everyone else (side note: I left lunch earlier than the others, so they wouldn’t have to wait for me…but since I didn’t stop on the big hill, I stayed ahead of them).

I looked forward to the last day of the ride, for a couple reasons. One, it was the last day of the ride, and Two, I felt stronger both physically and mentally and was excited to begin my journey up Freemont Pass; a 12 mile uphill at the very start of the day. I rode by my condo and my family was standing outside hootin’ and hollerin’ as I went by. Then I turned the corner and started the morning climb. This ride was on the highway, making me nervous because I’d not even trained on the road, let alone the highway. And, there was construction too, making the ride more treacherous. I put all of that out of my mind and focused on the task at hand. I did great the first 5 miles and stopped at the aid station with my teammates. We quickly took off again not wanting to get “cold” for the next 7, more steep, miles. I got into my groove and held my own for quite a while. My legs were kind of numb, but I kept on moving. I distracted myself with the gorgeous scenery, tried my rock-to-rock technique, and even prayed part of the Rosary. I had to pay careful attention to the road because there was a lot of loose gravel and big divots to avoid. At one point I pulled over, weak and broken, and thought I’d walk my bike for a while. I went exactly 6 steps. “I can do this”, I told myself, “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this!” I heard someone say “only five to go” as they rode by and I got back on my bike and started to ride. I repeated my mantra over and over “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this” breathe, breathe, “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this”… and I did! I was on top of the world when I reached the top of that mountain. I OWNED Freemont Pass! Never mind that it took me a total of 2 HOURS to get there, I was at the top and happy with my accomplishment. We waited for the others, took pictures, laughed and patted backs, grabbed oranges and bananas, hung out, enjoyed the beauty of the summit, and prepared for the downhill.

And, that downhill was A-MAZ-ING! I hit 37mph before “feathering” my brakes and even took a picture as I whizzed by some gorgeous scenery (not smart at that speed, but it was SO pretty). There were more uphill climbs that day, some as steep (or steeper) than Freemont Pass, but none as long; and I did fine with all of them.

I don't know exactly how many miles I covered this weekend, well over 100, but what I do know is that it changed me. I began this ride as the mother of a child with PKU who wanted to participate in a bike ride to raise money for her son’s clinic. I emerged from this ride a biker; and a stronger, more focused woman.

And, during my week in Colorado I also went white water rafting, rode the ski lift, explored the mountains, shopped, and hung out with my hubby and kids. I’d say it was a perfect week!

Margaret

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bike Blog Two: Magic in the Moment

Bike Blog Two…Magic in the Moment

I remember when I was little and anything was possible and it was easy to believe in everything. My “ouchie” really felt better with my mother’s kiss, scary things really lived in my closet and under my bed, and I KNEW I would become famous and live in New York City. I was born a believer, we all are, and then life slapped me in the face and I began to doubt. I’m not sure exactly when that happened, maybe when I found out peas weren’t really Martian heads, like my sister had told me they were; maybe when I failed beginner swimming lessons (I think I’m the only one that’s EVER happened to), or maybe when I got books for Christmas. No matter the actual event, doubt entered my world, and has been here, off and on, ever since.

But, six months ago, the believer in me came shining through. I signed up to ride 150 miles in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Never mind the fact that I didn’t own a bike, hadn’t exercised regularly in 20 years (yes, seriously), or had ever really wanted to be a biker. I was committed, I believed I would succeed, and it felt good.

And I continued to believe. I talked myself through the pains of an aching back, stiff neck, tight legs, sleeping toes, and tender hands. I pictured myself riding strong in the mountains, knowing that I would be fine. I didn’t really train on hills, living in Wichita, Kansas, but rode into the wind which is equally tough (or so I believed). All was good. Even when I struggled with an injury only three weeks before the ride, I was confident that I’d be fine and would ride well.

Then, I got to Colorado. The mountains were amazing – and HUGE. The air was thin, and there were bikers everywhere wearing matching jerseys and riding fast. I began to doubt. Could I really do this ride? I didn’t train on hills. Sometimes, I still forgot that my shoes were attached to my bike, and I’d fall (twice in one week). I didn’t even train on the roads, let alone the highway! My longest ride to date had only been 36 miles, less than any event ride. And, I had just recovered from an injury…who was I kidding?

Then, something happened…I started to ride. The sting in my legs was replaced by the exhilaration of hitting 29mph on my first downhill. My shortness of breath was replaced by the rolling Arkansas River 5 feet from the bike path. The ginormousness of the mountains overshadowed all my doubt. It was a magical moment. I began to believe again, understanding that my purpose in this ride was bigger than my abilities. And as it turned out, I did great!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bike Blog One: The Reality of it All

Well, I haven’t been in the Colorado Rockies in a very long time. And, let’s just say the last time I was here, I was in a younger, more wild stage of life, and it is just a lot different than I remember. And, it’s AMAZING! It’s the kind of amazing that makes you step back and ask “so, why am I living in Wichita, Kansas?” Then, of course, I remember that…ummmmm…my husband and I work there, have four kids rooted there, and have friends and family near there; but still, the mountains and cooler weather make for a good argument.

I left Wichita in 112 degree heat on a Tuesday morning at 10:30. Everything was carefully packed, including a newerish, fabulous road bike and all the accessories that go along with it (including bike shoes that caused two embarrassing falls within one week at the same busy intersection). I was on my way to begin the final phase of this crazy bike adventure.

So, as I sit here in my room tonight, as ready as I’m going to be, I’m thinking about all the things that have happened to bring me to this point. I’ve missed kids activities to get in a needed ride; I’ve not made (many) dinners for my family to get in a needed ride; I’ve spent money I didn’t have for gloves, shorts and a helmet. I’ve not cleaned my house, not folded laundry, not helped with homework, and not shown-up for date night. I’ve been cranky, sore, tired, absent, and gone for long periods of time. I’ve relied on Mike to hit the grocery store, order pizza and pick up my slack; and he has. I’ve expected the kids to do their part without being prodded, and they have. Thank you!

I also think about the lofty $2,500 fundraising goal I set. I had no idea why I picked that number and no idea how I would raise it. Mike helped me put together The First Ever Courage Classic Bike Ride Event hoping a few people would come by and hoping to raise $500. We had many guests and raised $1,900 that night, with more donations arriving after the event. The support we received from the community and our friends and family overwhelmed us with kindness. All the donations, sweet notes, cards and thoughtful comments that came my way made me see the world differently; more together, more real, more genuine.

My initial goal to “give back” has morphed into an honest NEED to give back; to be as genuine toward other people as has been shown toward me. You just don’t realize how much little things matter until you are the recipient of those little things.

Margaret

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's Your Plan?

So, I like to think I’m in control of my world. I plan my day, set out my clothes, and iron whatever may need to be ironed the night before. I schedule appointments before they are necessary, write everything down that I need to remember, keep my house pretty darned clean, try to plan meals, call my mother several times a week, and tuck my kids in bed at night. I make time to lunch with my friends and get in a few date-nights with my guy. I keep my paperwork up to date and am actually looking forward to organizing my garage later this summer. Although there are things I definitely could do better, I’m pretty happy with my little corner of the universe.

And just when I’m feeling really good about my world, something completely random happens that brings me back to reality. Something that reminds me that life isn't about my plan, it's about the actions that come from my plan. The planning is my view of myself, who I want to be; and my actions are proof of who I really am.

That'll give you something to think about today.

Margaret

Monday, July 4, 2011

To My Friend...

We met for the first time at a street fair, and were immediately friends. We spent weekends shopping and lunching, mornings walking the town, and evenings sipping wine. We never had to think about what to say; we were comfortable, honest, and genuine. It was the best friendship since those of my childhood.

I don’t know exactly when it changed. Maybe when I went back to work, and was less available. Maybe when our children didn’t click as well as we did. Little issues started making tiny dents in our ability to connect. But still, we were strong. We met in the early mornings to walk, we snatched extra sale items from Target to share, and we helped decorate each other’s houses. We discussed colors and textures and accessories. We met up for garage sales, had cook-outs and swim dates and long phone conversations. We celebrated birthdays with trips to the City and favorite lunches and beautifully wrapped packages. It was easy to pick out perfect presents because we knew each other so well. OK, so you were better at presents, definitely.

More changes came. Tensions at school took a toll. Competitions and comparisons entered the relationship, changing our friendship. Plans were made, but not kept. Plans were made, but changed. Plans were made, but others were there too. It was just different now. We walked once in a while, with more quiet between us. We agreed to disagree. We became more separate, but we still cared. We continued to talk, but were less available to each other. We shopped and lunched with different people, walked with different friends, judged more harshly. I missed you!

We met on your porch and apologized and hugged and asked to start again. We agreed that we’d grown too far apart. You shared of a health scare. I was sad. I wondered why I didn’t already know. We planned to meet on Thursday mornings at the bagel shop, to keep in touch and rekindle our friendship, but it only lasted one meeting. It was the first time that I considered that the value of our friendship might not be equal. It was a life lesson for me, one that I continue to consider.

I look back and only see the good times. I don’t remember all the bumps and bruises and uphill stretches. I see our friendship as it was initially; comfortable, honest and genuine, still the best since those of my childhood. May only good things come to you, my friend.

Margaret

Monday, June 20, 2011

What Makes You Tick?

When my first daughter was born 17 (almost 18) years ago, I imagined that she would be bald (like me) fair-skinned (like me) and loud and demanding (Ok, again, like me). I guess I should have accounted for the fact that half her chromosomes belonged to my darling husband, but still, I was completely shocked when a dark-skinned, black-haired (I couldn’t even see her scalp!) baby entered this world. I was surprised, I was in awe, and I was in love with this little creature who was nothing like I thought she would be. And, in that moment, I learned that she was her own person. On day one, I understood that it was my job to love her and nurture her and help her grow into herself, to help her figure out what makes her tick, and then help her become successful doing that. I needed to support who she would become.

But, it really isn’t that simple….

I’m a parent to four, very different, kiddos. Each has a different hair color, a different body build, a different demeanor, a different personality, and different interests. Seriously, sometimes people don’t believe they all came from the same gene pool (they did!). Three of them have followed their parents lead, willingly participating in sports, studies, chores, routines…etc. They listen without talking back (too much), and tell us EVERYTHING happening in their lives. One of them doesn’t tick that way. One of them pushes a little more, challenges a little more, asks more questions and wants more answers. One of them takes a stand that’s different from the rest. That one is a little more work, a little less “easy”, but very passionate. I like the fight that kiddo has. I know that one will be successful; and I also know that that success might be measured by a completely different stick than the one I would use.

And, isn’t that wonderful?

We each view the world through our own set of eyes. Some of us see fun, adventure, challenge, success, all things good. Other’s see fear, judgment, insecurity, failure, all things unsure. And, as parents, we have to nurture each of our children in a way that will help them view the world more comfortably for them…even if they never see things the way we see them.

Margaret

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sum-Sum-Summertime?

Ahhh, summertime! Those special days that begin as soon as school ends and lasts until it begins again. Days made for sleeping in, chilling out, and hanging at the pool. Perfect for jamming to music, watching movies, and soaking up the sun. Relaxation! Summer was my break from the world, a few great weeks when I didn’t have to stress about homework, clicks, or deadlines. It was great!

Well my friends, summertime has changed. The whole first week of summer this year, my 11 year old, Max, was in the gym earlier than he had been for school the previous year. And while Max dribbled and passed the basketball at basektball camp, my 15 year old, Jack, passed and kicked the football at football camp. My 13 year old, Madeline, started a half hour before her brothers with MAYB basketball practice at 7:30am, and then headed to her school team’s camp at 9:00am…seriously! And we’re just getting started! We have weights and conditioning at 7:00am four days a week starting this week and lasting through the middle of July, and volleyball camp and dance camp and...etc.

And I understand it. I know that Coaches are trying to build programs, trying to see what kids are interested and who will put forth the extra effort to attend. It’s important to build team unity and to begin to teach team concepts and plays as early as possible. And those coaches want to keep up with each other, each wanting high attendance and commitment to “their” sport. I also know that some kids are trying out new sports and activities and parents are looking for ways to keep their kids busy…yada yada yada…it’s just gotten to be too much!

Between camps and practices and games and jobs, kids don’t get to enjoy summers like they used to. And I think kids, especially these days, need time away from sports and activities for a few weeks to rest and recharge their bodies. It would be perfect if coaches all agreed to schedule NOTHING for at least three weeks after school ends to give all of us a break and a chance to actually enjoy a little bit of summer.

Margaret

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Mothering...

In my earliest days of motherhood, I remember thinking “my mom once did ALL of this for me”. In those early moments, I learned that I was completely misguided about being a mother. I mean, I knew a lot, I read the books, I researched, I talked to other moms, but no one told me REAL things. No one shared that I would hurt for weeks “down there”, or bleed forever. No one shared that my baby would cry for absolutely no reason and that I would cry too. No one let-it-slip that it was so.much.work. Again, I knew it, but I didn’t KNOW it. I was not prepared for the sleeplessness, the messiness, and the schedules. I was not ready for all the crying, all the puking, and all the poop! I worked continuously and my house was still dirty, my dishes were piled, and my laundry was out of control. I think, eventually, I managed well, and figured out some great systems, but it was rough at first. So, I was kind of surprised when I thought about my mom doing ALL THAT STUFF for me.

Of course she did it, happily, she’s a wonderful woman. I think it was such a profound thought to me because that wasn’t the mom I remembered. I have no recollection of the woman who snuggled with me in the middle of the night, warmed my bottle at 3am, and placed her hand on my back to make sure I was still breathing. I don’t remember the mom who sat in a rocking chair singing and soothing her newest little baby. I don’t remember the mom who walked miles around the house with a frustrated infant, who changed my clothes ”just-in-case” I was uncomfortable, or who worried about colic, nursing, or SIDS. I know her now, but I don’t remember that part of her mothering. And, it makes me a little sad that my children won’t remember that part of my mothering either. It’s such a sweet time! They’ll have no idea how much I did for them, how much I loved them, how much I cherished them, and was in awe of them…until they bring home their first little fresh baby bundle!

I have great memories of my mom, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that the mom I remember helped me with my science project, ironed my uniform, and packed my lunch every morning. She took me to Blue Bird meetings, signed me up for camp, and made me practice piano. The mom I remember drove me to movies and friend’s houses. She baked cookies late at night because I forgot to tell her I needed them, she bought me the dress I wanted, instead of the one she could afford. She questioned me, grounded me, and listened to me complain. She said “no”, a lot! She worked hard for me, but it was the tough part that I remember most; instead of that cuddly part when I was innocent and sickeningly sweet.

It’s too bad that babies don’t remember all that is done for them in their earliest years, because if they really understood all it takes to be their mothers, they would be THE BEST TEENAGERS EVER! So, with that in mind, I’m starting now to tell my kids every story I can remember about them as babies. I might even make some stuff up, to really make me out to be special. Hey, whatever it takes!

Margaret

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Noisily Noted

Maybe it’s because I’m a speech language pathologist and am trained to listen to sounds; maybe it’s because I’m completely unable to simply relax and enjoy life, maybe it’s because I’m anal-retentive, I don’t know, maybe it’s just who I am…but for whatever reason, I notice and focus on noises. I’ve had to move seats in a movie theater because of loud popcorn-eating. And, I get frustrated with movie-whispering. But, it goes deeper than that…I’m also bothered by obnoxious gum-chewing, drink-slurping, food-smacking, chair-kicking, nose-whistling, loud-breathing, pen-tapping, tongue-clicking, and a variety of other noise-related behaviors. I know it’s picky, but I can’t help it.

So, what do I do when I’m focused on a sound that I can’t just ignore like most of the rest of the people in the universe? I say something, and often offend people. I understand that most of the time the offender doesn’t even know they are doing anything. I feel badly when I ask my kids to stop doing whatever they don’t know they are doing. I really feel badly for my poor husband who is wired to move and make noise. I think he’s pretty much trying not to do whatever he’d naturally do so he won’t bother me. I can tell that he is making an effort (thanks honey!), but people can’t really control what they don’t know they’re doing!

I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, but I think I have. I remember asking my dad to move his rocking chair when it was at a squeaky spot on the floor, and to quit moving his legs back and forth because the sound of his jeans rubbing against the chair bugged me. And, I hated the sound of a fork hitting the plate when it stabbed green beans or salad. I know, weird, huh?

I think it’s also important to mention that people aren’t the only sources of frustration in my noisy world – my house has me on-edge too. I live in a house with thin walls. Lying in bed at night, I can hear the heat turn on and off, the washing machine change cycles, the toilet flushing and running (I need to get that fixed), the dishwasher arm clanking against a plate, a tree limb brushing against the window, and my daughter’s music playing on 4 (she sleeps with it on). I hear the garage door open and close, my son talking in his sleep, and a clicking in the ductwork that I have yet to figure out. Once I hear a sound, I have a lot of trouble tuning it out.

So, why am I telling you this? Because each of us has something that we consciously or unconsciously focus on that we may or may not be able to control. For me it's noise, for you it may be food, or exercise, or gambling. You may be focused on shopping, drinking, video games, or germs. Maybe there is nothing right now that leads you away from what's important, but at some point, something will. We can't always control what our brains are thinking, and solutions are tough to come by. A fan helped me, what will help you?

Margaret

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Live Your Legacy

If you could go on a vacation to the destination of your choice and have the time of your life there, would you go? What if you knew that afterward you would remember nothing about it, would you still go? I answered “sure” to the first question but a quick, definite “not-a-chance” to the second. Why would you take a vacation if you’d have no memory of it? Isn’t life about the memories? Already I find myself talking about things that happened when the kids were little, when Mike and I were first married, when I was in college…etc. When I get together with extended family, we talk about the year it snowed 12 inches or the time the turkey burned. If there were no memories, what would matter?

Do you ever think about your legacy? What will people remember about you when you’re gone? What moments will come to mind, and what will be remembered about those moments? It really doesn’t matter what we do, it’s the memory of what we do that matters. What we think we offer the world is not necessarily what the world will remember about us. I know this because I did an experiment with my children. I asked them what they will remember about their dad when he happens to die (I know…a bit gruesome, but worthwhile) and they spewed out a whole bunch of great memories; some I’d even forgotten until they started talking. He always honked the horn when the kids walked in front of the car; he would start singing a song, expecting the kids to join in…etc. We laughed and interrupted each other and talked and were goofy for a long time. All the memories were good ones and there were plenty of them.

Then I asked what they would remember about me. That was a tougher question. There were some funny, happy memories that quickly surfaced, but it was a more quiet exchange… It seems that their dad is the “fun” one, the “silly” one and I am the “clean” one, the “can I go?” one. I’m the parent who makes and enforces the rules. At first I was kind of hurt that they didn’t remember all the things I remembered, but after some dwelling, I realize that parents have to balance each other, and that my role is a good one. My kids come to me with their homework, they tell me about their friends, their relationships, their lives. We discuss saving money, being honest, working hard, making good choices, making tough choices…it isn’t all fun, but we connect on a deep, genuine level. It’s not what I would think my kids would remember about me, but I’m completely OK with it, even proud of it. Some parent’s don’t have the trust and faith of their children, and I do. And, I’m happy I know what they think, so I can throw some “crazy” in the mix.

Today you’re living your memories…make sure they’re good ones!

Margaret

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mid-Life Crisis??

I’m sorry I haven’t written for such a long time…I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. I don’t know if I can clearly explain it, but I’ve been dwelling, asking, explaining, reliving, believing, learning, and finally, accepting who I am and how I came to think and act as I do. I’ve always been a late bloomer, and it’s taken all of my 43 years to actually process and understand myself, and my interactions with others. For a while I thought I was having a mid-life crisis, but I’ve come to realize that I’ve simply been in a deep state of introspection (thank you friend).

It’s been an interesting process. I’ve gained new insights from events that occurred as far back as junior-high school. I actually liked junior-high; I didn’t really internalize all the crap that happened, until I watched my daughters tread through, bringing memories alongside. And that, my friends, opened the floodgates to a rush of confusion. Statements that were initially processed as “odd” or “what?” suddenly surfaced as “rude” or “downright mean”. I’d always had a very confident, positive self-concept, and that has been seriously shaken over the past several years both by recent interactions as well as past revelations. I find it sad, and refreshing, if that even make sense.

For now, I have come to peace with myself and, more challenging, with how others view me. I understand, clearly, that someone will always be talking behind my back, questioning my views, criticizing my accomplishments (or those of my children), critiquing my parenting, judging my actions, pulling me down…etc. I honestly had never really understood that before. I took everything at face value. I guess my parents did a fantastic job of sheltering me, and raising me to believe that everyone is honest and good and forthright. I don’t think that I will ever be as happy as I was, well, at least not as free, but I do feel good knowing that I’m finally on the same page as everybody else.

I’m learning how to ignore the negative vibes, hold my head high, trust myself, and concentrate on living the life I’m intended to live. Others can pull me down, but I’ll decide whether or not they’ll make me fall!

Margaret

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Was...The Best Summer

Ok, so one crazy summer in college I decided to head to Cincinnati, OH to sell books door-to-door (yes, I’m totally serious!). I worked with a group from the Southwestern Company and sold The Volume Library and various other books to whomever happened to be home during the day. It was both the best and the worst summer of my life…but mostly, the best, I think.

When else would I ever be daring enough to head off to a new city, with a few strangers and one friend, to do something so random? There wasn’t much of a plan in place; I knocked on doors until I found a place to sleep, and then knocked on doors to sell books. I used the partial payments from my sales to finance my expenses. Seriously, I would never let my daughter do that today!

Here are my top 6 life lessons from Cincinnati:

1. People are good at heart. Strangers took care of me that summer. They fed me, they worried about me, and they made me lemonade.

2. Your brain believes what your mouth tells it. Negativity breeds negativity and the same is true for positivity.

3. Perspective is personal; own yours. Your perspective is your reality.

4. Effort is the difference between success and failure, talent helps, but effort matters (when I knocked on doors, I sold a lot of books, I had the knack, but I put my effort into meeting people, writing letters and having fun).

5. You constantly affect others, so be nice. I received a handmade blanket from a woman I met in Cincinnati right before my wedding day. Her husband sent it with a note explaining that she had worked hard to finish it for me, and that she insisted my picture be hung on her family wall, before she died. I had no idea I affected her that much.

6. The truth really matters to you. You can pretend to be whomever you want for other people, but you know the truth about yourself. Like your truth.

I can also tell you that Cincinnati has a fabulous zoo, the street vendors are hilarious, the stadium is very cool, and there are a few to-die-for shops downtown. I spent two evenings boating and swimming with some spontaneous new friends (against company rules), met a gang of boys that were very funny, flirted with some businessmen, took some funny pictures and got dumped by boyfriend (that’s another blog).

I think that summer was, mostly, the best summer.

Margaret

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"Getting Ready" vs."Being Ready"

I’m in the middle of planning a big event. Ok, I say “middle”, but I really mean the second step after deciding to participate. So, I guess it’s really the beginning of the middle of planning a big event. And, I’m already feeling overwhelmed! I think that’s how it works. We make a decision to do something, say a little prayer, jump out of our box, and feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is good, I think.

So, what am I planning? I’m planning to get off my butt, get into shape, squeeze into spandex (so help me…), and ride a bike for three days in the Rocky Mountains in support of my son. I’m part of The Gene Team, riding in The Courage Classic, July 23-25, in Colorado (I’ll share more about that in a later post). I already know it is the start of something big! And, I’m getting ready…

And that’s what has me thinking…will my “getting ready” ever turn into “being ready”? Will I really feel prepared to do something so drastically different from what I typically do? Because I can tell you that I am not (yet) a biker. I haven’t exercised regularly in over 20 years and I don’t even own a road bike (yet). Sometimes I think I’m just in a mid-life crisis and I’ll wake up one morning and not need to ride my bike for 59 miles every day for three days; yet other times, I feel dead-on that this is a true life calling that I have just uncovered. Either way, I’m committed. My Craigslist shopping has changed from “general”, “household”, “tickets”, and “furniture” to only “bikes”. I have learned a whole new language involving TREK, shimano, gear cogs, forks, clips, carbon, and much, much more. I’m changing my eating habits, increasing my push-up abilities, and researching vitamins. This adventure is “on”…and is completely out of my box!

I know I will be stronger and fuller and more accomplished come the end of July. I know it is an honor to participate in an event that literally will touch the lives of thousands of families, with my family being one of those directly affected. And, even with that, I am scared. I’m scared that I won’t be able to finish, that I won’t reach my goals, that I won’t be well-enough prepared. What step am I missing in my plan? What comes next? What will I do if…? I think fear is part of everything new, and it’s okay.

I don’t think anyone can be completely prepared to do something completely new. But, I also think that everyone should try it. I know there are trips that have been talked about, Shelters that are waiting to be built, business that need to be opened, ideas that are alive only in the minds of those who are planning them…but for anything to become real, we have to take action on those plans. What challenge do you wish to conquer? What thoughts you are thinking? What event will pull you out of your box and into your life? I want to know.

Margaret

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Ideas, New Perspectives

I’m in my house alone. I don’t really feel like doing anything, yet I have plenty to do (return items to the store, grocery shop for this week, prepare for work tomorrow, clean, laundry…). I’ve been quite lazy all morning, and would be happy to continue being lazy all day long. It’s the “calm” between the “storms”; the break between the holiday hustle and grind of school and work. And it’s nice.

It’s also the start of a New Year, the first days to begin doing things we’ve been thinking about doing, but just never actually started doing. I don’t really know why we wait for January to take action on things we want to do. I mean, every morning is a new start and a new opportunity to improve ourselves, to try out different ideas. But, January is good too.

And, I do have my list of new things I want to begin…some of them are private and personal; others are wild and crazy and deserve a public outing. For one, publicly stating a goal offers instant accountability and for big changes, sometimes that is needed. I’ve shared my decisions to be more patient and accepting, more open and honest with myself and others, and more focused on being a positive influence in previous posts, so today I’m taking a completely different perspective.

This year I want to focus on “giving back”, and have decided to start that venue in two ways. First and foremost, I will begin recycling (I know…it’s bad that I don’t already do that!). I used to recycle, and then stopped when I moved and I just haven’t set up a system again. I have no good excuse and am embarrassed to admit that I am wasteful, but that’s the point of this, right? So, any ideas are welcome.

Second, and this is a stretch for me, I am committing to a three day bike tour in the Rocky Mountains in July in support of The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO. Most of you know that I have a son with PKU (Phenylketonuria) and that we travel to Colorado twice a year to see his doctors and dieticians there. They have provided so much support for us over the years (professionally and personally) and we have never been in a position to “give back”. This year, I have decided to participate in the Courage Classic bike tour (July 23-25) with fundraising efforts going directly to the IMD (Inherited Metabolic Disease) clinic that serves my son. I have not yet set my fundraising goals, but I am definitely riding. So, support is welcomed here too…ideas, riding tips, donations, etc. I’m getting fitted for my bike tomorrow:).

It’s the start of a New Year; the start for new opportunities, new ideas, new beginnings. It’s a chance to re-think, decide, plan and accomplish things we’ve been thinking about doing. It’s a great time to step out of ourselves and into whom we want to become. We just have to decide who that person is; and then take action!

Margaret