Fitbloggin’ and My Headspace

I ended up having a blast at the Fitbloggin’ conference.  I truly didn’t know what to expect about spending three days in a city hundreds of miles away with hundreds of people I’d never met.  I blogged about it fairly extensively at my other blog if you’d like the blow by blow.

Since the conference was geared towards fitness bloggers, sessions ran the gamut from “How to use social media to gain followers” to “Using Florida Grapefruit in a healthy diet” to “Self Acceptance” and “When You Have a Lot of Weight To Lose.”  I had originally thought I would gain a lot of information about the nuts and bolts of increasing web traffic and dismissed the thought of the other more touchy, feely sessions.

But after meeting a friend who gently nudged me towards one of the weight loss sessions, I knew that I was right where I needed to be.  The open ended group forums were like a support group, women just telling their stories over and over, peppering their tearfilled commentary with amazing advice about self loathing and acceptance.

It was like a punch in the gut for me who has been struggling over the last six to nine months with my headspace.

And suddenly, I didn’t feel so alone in my thoughts that go towards Crazytown from time to time.  For all of my struggles in my past, some of these women had experienced much worse.  Others had similar stories of difficult childhoods and losing parents early.  Some were subjected to drug abuse in their homes.  One woman, like me, had a child very young.  They were all struggling somewhere on the journey towards self acceptance.

Some inspiring women were already there.  They had managed to rise above their lousy circumstances and their anxiety filled negative self talk and found a way to honor themselves by taking care of their heads, hearts and bodies.  Others were at the starting point, wanting to head towards that place but absolutely clueless where to start.  Many, like me, were somewhere on the journey.  Some days we feel like we have our heads together, we know how smart and capable we are, and we go forward with our heads held high.  Other days we feel like the negative self talk must all be true and we let it win out with a vengeance.

It was honestly an eye opener to hear my own thoughts echoed by so many women.  I think in our daily lives no one is this honest.  For me, I am surrounded by women who don’t really seem to struggle all that much with self worth.  Maybe I’ve put them there for a reason, to help pull me out of that tendency in myself.  But sometimes that makes me feel like I am a total headcase; that I must truly be messed up if I constantly compare myself to others or think negatively about myself.  But at FitBloggin’ , I wasn’t nuts.  I wasn’t alone.  I was just another among many who are working hard to overcome whatever it is that holds us back from being the best version of ourselves.

It was really, really wonderful.

And now I’m connected with some of these women online.  Through their blogs, their tweets and their Facebook messages, it’s almost like an online support group.  And for now, it feels like enough.  It feels like therapy.  It feels like maybe I’m going to be OK.

I Knew It Was Going To Happen…

I knew it was going to happen, I really did, but it still gives me a knot in my stomach to know it is real.

My son is engaged.  He’s going to get married.  He’s probably going to BE married by this time next year.

Don’t get me wrong.  This is what we all want for our kids, right?  We want them to find that one person who they love completely and want to take on the journey of life together with.  We want them to be happy.  We want them to be moving forward and being independent and making their own lives for themselves.

Still, I worry.  He’s young, just having turned 23.  And having made a lot of Very Big Life Choices myself early in life, I worry that maybe he’s rushing in.  Why not wait a few years until his career is more established?  To allow himself time to travel and enjoy all that life has to offer before taking the family/marriage/parenthood route.  Something I never had.  Something I wish I had.  But of course, if I did have that time to myself, then I wouldn’t have him, and he’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever done (well, tied with the other two kids, anyway).

Pretty hard to have the conversation with him about how I think he should wait, because if I’d waited, he wouldn’t exist.  Yeah, you see the dilemma.

Still, I just want him to be happy.  To be sure.  This is a life decision that will affect every single other life decision he makes.  And frankly, he still seems So Young.   I know he’s not, in my head.  I know that he’s 23, living and working and an adult.  He lives six hours from here.  He’s been on his own, really, since he left for college five years ago.  He’s done mostly everything right and well so far, why should this be any different?

It shouldn’t.  I just have to hold my breath and hope that he’s made the right choice for himself.   There’s no reason to think that he hasn’t.

My son is getting married.  I can’t even wrap my brain around it.  Somewhere in my head, he’s still that sweet little boy with the toothless smile, and I’m the young single mother who is just hanging on by a thread.  It still seems impossible that we managed to get from there to here.

But we did.  And now he’s older than I was when he was born, older than I was when my mother passed away, older than I was when I started teaching in the inner city.  He’s an adult.  He can do this.  And I’m fortunate, truly, to be able to be there for all of it.

FitBloggin’

I’m going to Baltimore next weekend.  I am going all alone and I am alternately nervous and insanely excited.

I’m going there because I won a spot volunteering at Fitbloggin.  I’ve been trying to explain to my friends what Fitbloggin is, what it will be for me, and why I am going, and I’m not even really sure I know I can really explain it.

I’m not a fitness blogger.  OK, I have a fitness blog now, but I didn’t even really pull the trigger on it until I got the gig working at Fitbloggin’.  Yes, I am interested in exercise now that I’ve been running for the last year, but I’m not a fitness guru.  I don’t go to a gym, I am definitely overweight and I clock between 37 and 40 minutes routinely on a 5K.

I am a web designer, and use the blogging platform WordPress routinely now in the work I do.  So there is definitely an element of the geek in me wanting to see more and learn more about blogging and how people turn their own thoughts and designs into a viable platform for various topics:  weight loss, fitness, parenting, etc.  I don’t ever feel like I’ve found my voice blogging.  I tell stories, sometimes.  I am funny, sometimes.  But what I don’t think I am is consistent.  I’d love to see successful bloggers there and see what they have to say about all of that.

Plus, there is a little of the star struck in me.  I’ve been following Roni Noone since I lost weight successfully in 2007.  I always appreciated how honest she is in her postings; she shows her house before she cleans it (!), she confesses to late night snacking, and owns her insecurities.  I honestly can’t imagine meeting her, someone who seems both at once like a superhero and my best girlfriend (that I’ve never met) all at the same time.

I guess I’m not entirely sure what I’ll get out of the conference or what it will mean to me.  I don’t know a soul going.  I am going for three days of workshops and events without a single other person in the world I know.  I think I’ll meet people and it will be fun, but there is always that side of me that wonders why I am doing this.  I’m not a true fitness blogger, I’ve gained much of the weight I successfully lost, I don’t plan on monetizing my blog or using it as a springboard for a career (although, that would be all kinds of awesome, actually).  But still, I won the spot, and I’m going.  I’m going to spend three days in Baltimore and they’ll all just be about me.  Not me the Mom, or the wife, or the perpetual volunteer.  Just me, and what I want to do with myself and my health.

Which, I guess, explains why I am both excited and terrified all at the same time.

11 Years Later

It’s hard to believe it has been 11 years since that Tuesday morning, so much like this one, crisp and clear here in the Northeast.  I now live far closer to the place where that tragedy occurred than I could ever imagine that day.

One of the musicians I have followed for years, Kyle Vincent, wrote a stunning tribute that day as the events unfolded.   It is poignant and heartbreaking all at the same time, the way he highlights the path we could have chosen if we’d all pulled together in the aftermath of that day.  Instead, eleven years later, our country is more divided than I could have ever imagined.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL5T7Xeif0o&list=UUBADoNjI5lO8FLe8Stm092w&index=5&feature=plcp

I also wrote about that day, extensively, here, reliving the day as it unfolded in my world.  Here is my own perspective on that day, in the posts below:

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/1737/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/it-is-personal/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/not-ok/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/the-end-of-the-day/

https://myformerlife.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/an-endless-day/

My thoughts and prayers go out today to all whose lives were altered so irrevocably that day.  That awful, awful day.

The View From My Corner of the World

The roundup of what my world looks like since I last blogged (nearly two weeks ago?  Yikes).

Today is my eldest son’s 23rd birthday.  Holy how on earth did this happen?  It seems both a million years ago and also about a few days ago that I was balancing him on my hip while I navigated life.  He came home last weekend with his girlfriend, and we had dinner Saturday night with her parents.  It is still hard for me to believe that this is my life.  That he and I could have ended up in a very different place.  Instead, we’re eating amazing Italian food with his potential inlaws in this crazy expensive town in CT that we can almost afford to live in now.  I’m not sure if this totally set up situation for meeting her parents is a prelude to Some Really Big News, but for now, holy smokes, my kid is older than I was when I had him.

The younger two kids are back in school.  I am still desperately worried about my daughter and her swimming with all of the sharks at school.  There were whispers about people not sitting together at lunch (not on purpose, really) and getting transferred out of her classes.  We don’t know what all is true, but a glance at her iPod text app yesterday made my heart sink.  She still is trying so hard to be friends with people who really don’t give a crap about her.  I vacillate between hands off (“she’ll have to figure this out herself, as painful as it may be….after all, didn’t we all hate middle school?”) and hands on (“honey, if they treat you that way it is time to move on…why don’t we call so and so who actually likes you and invite her over?”) on a daily basis.  We’ll see what happens.

My dog is one crazy canine.  While we were out drinking heavily celebrating Labor Day with friends, he tried to escape from his crate.  Not sure what all happened (I must set up that streaming video idea I had) but when we came home his two front paws were mangled and bloody, and he’d lost a toenail.  I nursed him for two days before taking him to the vet (having decided that while we love him, we weren’t paying a thousand dollars to the doggie ER).  Having a dog is indeed like having a small child.  The poor thing is now scared to death of his crate, needs pills twice a day, and now begs for (and receives) a companion in the room where he sleeps (not our room; the den downstairs where his crate lives).  Not sure what I am going to do when I have to leave the house, but I kind of do have to leave the house, like, some time this week.

My one year running anniversary is coming up in six days.  I started the Couch 2 5K program on 9/12/11.  I saw this blog entry from this one woman on her running anniversary and she’d gone from the program to like, a half marathon on her anniversary.  I am going to be struggling through another 5K this weekend (this is my seventh), hoping I don’t die, because I let my exercise go the whole time I was in Europe (and to be honest, it was on a major downward spiral before we left with the kids home this summer).  I’m trying to focus on the positives of it:  like, I am still actually running, and that I weigh less today than I did a year ago (um, only about 9 pounds….but whatever), and that I am likely healthier and all that.  Still, I do feel an awful lot like I should be trying harder, doing more having been at this thing A Whole Stinking Year.

Speaking of OMG THE RUNNING, I am going to a fitness conference in two weeks called FitBloggin.  I scored a free ticket by applying to be a live blogger, even though at the time I had no fitness blog and no audience for the real blog I actually do have.  The ticket might be free, but the hotel room on the Inner Harbor is like $200 a night, but I’m a little freaked out about getting a roommate that I don’t know and have never met (though, apparently, people do this all the time at these things).  I tried to entice my girlfriends with the Hotel Room in a Awesome City Away From Here for a girls’ weekend type of thing, but they all have soccer games, or football games, or husbands that aren’t interested in them subsidizing my weekend in Baltimore.  So it will be me, all alone, with all of these bloggers who write about fitness while I am pounding out 40 minute 5Ks.  Still, I’m super excited anyway.  Maybe I’ll network and find a job, or something, out of it.

And that’s the view from suburbia this warm September morning.  Yes, sure, I could have written about politics, or my inner conflict about why I am not hearing back from an old friend, or some other existential dilemma but for now?  This is where I am at.

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