18, 20, 14 and Forgiveness

The 20 mile run, in my humble opinion, is the run that legitimizes marathon training. It is the distance you gradually build up to after you pay the hefty marathon registration fees and begin your 20 (or more) week training plan. Two weeks ago, I ran 18 miles under somewhat erratic conditions. The Pacific NW is experiencing heavy drought and we have had numerous fires throughout the summer resulting in unhealthy air conditions. Two of my long runs (14 miler and 16 miler) were ran under these toxic conditions, and it wasn’t until two weeks ago that the skies began clearing and breathing clean air was a little easier.

Unbalanced 18

My 18 miles were quite an ordeal! I started running under cloudy cool skies which then turned into gray stormy skies with small rain drops briefly wetting the pavement my feet were landing on. Finally, there was crazy wind blowing sideways causing stacks of hay and dirt to roll across the road. At one point, the wind was blowing saw hard, I thought a twister was going to form right before my eyes and then my imagination started going wild wondering what my response would be if a twister did form before my eyes. I looked around and noticed there was nowhere for me to take cover and a picture of me and a cow flying in the air flashed before my eyes. For a couple of seconds, I felt my heart pounding really fast and had to quickly bring my mind back to reality and focus on my run. Once I put my imagination in check, I started chuckling at how easily it is to become paranoid and start thinking all sorts of irrational thoughts.

  
Coastal 20

My 20 mile run not only took place along the beautiful Oregon Coast, but I also had the companionship of my husband for 4 out of the 20 miles. My husband is also running Marine Corps Marathon, but because of his demanding work schedule, he has not been able to log the amount of miles I have logged, and unfortunately, his training has been pretty inconsistent. Nonetheless, he is determined to cross the finish line of the Marine Corps Marathon. His presence during the first four miles definitely helped set a good pace, and I found myself feeling extremely comfortable with a 9:30 pace the first sixteen miles of the run. Then, on mile 17, my hamstrings began screaming, “I’m hurting.” Even though I reminded myself running twenty miles was not supposed to be a comfortable experience, my hamstrings were more sore than the usual. And of course, once the mind receives the message of discomfort from the body, the mental-tug-of-war between quitting and pushing through the pain begins. Yes, I wanted to quit. I wanted to start walking. And I did start walking in order to stretch my legs. Because I know how hard I can be on myself, I had to reign in the negative voices creeping inside my head. I reminded myself this was a training run and that mental training was as critical as the physical training I was exerting into the run. Slowly but surely, I placed one foot in front of the other, reciting positive thoughts.

“The marathon is not supposed to be comfortable. Luisa, you could not run five months ago. People around the world would trade their heartaches and sorrows for your discomfort. You are running the distance people drive to work. I can do all things through Chris who strengthens me.”

The best feeling in the world came when my GPS finally indicated I had finally reached mile 20! I battled it out for 3 hours and 14 minutes and felt victorious despite my bloody blisters and sore hamstrings.

The Oregon Coast in all its Splendor

14 Years of Marriage

On September 8, my husband and I celebrated fourteen years of marriage! We really didn’t do anything to celebrate, so we are planning on celebrating in Washington D.C. and going out as a family to a nice restaurant.

 

My sweetie who is stuck with me for life.

 
Forgiveness

I mentioned on this post how my mother had finally visited me and I am quite certain my tone came off as rather terse or resentful. I’d be lying if I said my little rant wasn’t filled with some resentment. There have been multiple attempts on my part to write about the conflicting relationship my mother and I had growing up and all the pain it has caused me for at least 22 years. Looking back, I am extremely glad I never wrote that post, because unbeknownst to me, the act of forgiving and self-healing was only possible because of my decision to purchase her the round trip ticket to visit me.

 

I love my mama!

 
I don’t want to go into detail about how it happened, simply because it would take away the intimacy of the internal transformation that occurred within my spirit. Furthermore, I don’t know if the epiphany was of any significance to my mother. Thus, I prefer to let the moment permeate my inner being and use it as a force to help me rebuild the relationship I always wanted to have with her. I forgive my mother. I forgive the moments in which she let me down as a child and scarred my heart. I forgive the moments in which she placed her needs above mine and made me feel unworthy. I forgive the moments in which she let herself down and triggered internal fear within me of someday ending up like her. I forgive her for the moments in which she made me feel like my life was more of a nuisance rather than a blessing. I forgive her for the moments in which she never apologized after hurting me deeply with her words or actions. I forgive her because I believe she is sorry but doesn’t know how to say sorry and wants to desperately show me. I forgive her because I believe she did the best she could do for me with the limited amount of tools she had. I forgive her because she and I both need forgiveness in order to get out of the quick sand and continue paving our paths. I forgive her because even though she has never told me she loves me, I truly believe she does. I love my mother, and forgiving her has given me the opportunity to feel congruent. I don’t have to fight my inner demons that for years have resisted thoughts and behaviors that would define me as being exactly like her. As a mother myself, I am no longer afraid to love and raise my children with the irrational belief that if I mess up, it is because I am destined to have the same relationship with my daughters I had with my mother. My mother may not have been the mother I desperately wanted her to be, but she was the best mother she thought she was capable of being. I too will be the best mother I think I can be, and I reckon my daughters at some point of their lives will either embrace or resist what I offer them. Should they choose to resist, I do hope they offer me the gift of forgiveness.

  
Have you ever had to forgive someone who has hurt you but never asked for forgiveness?

Turn, Turn, Turn

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

The weather is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, and school is about to start. I’ve also returned to work after staying home with my younger daughter for 2.5 years and she will be soon starting preschool. My husband has been away for three weeks, and after living in Oregon for 13 years, my mother has finally visited me. Of course, it only took for me to buy the airfare for her to come (yes, there is resentment in this sentence), but that is a post that needs to be saved for another day, or year, or decade. On top of that I am still in marathon training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

 

Summer Hike in Wallowa Lake towards Aneroid Trail

 

Long Live Summer

I’ve never shied away from declaring how much I love Summer and dislike Fall and Winter (and sometimes Spring). I don’t care for falling leaves, boots, scarves, or anything pumpkin. Ha, I sound like Grumpy Cat right now, but there is just something about short, cold, gray days that give me so much anxiety! When it’s bright and sunny outside, I want to jump out of bed and break out into song and dance like a musical on television. On the other hand, when it is cold, windy, gray, and dark out, it takes so much mental and physical energy to remove the blankets off my body. In fact, I am feeling so much anxiety thinking about it right now. With eight weeks remaining of marathon training, I am hoping I can continue my training streak and not miss a single workout ahead considering the days are getting shorter.

 

Summer views of Eastern Oregon

 

Adolescence

My 11-year-old is starting Middle School!!! This new endeavor – for me and for her – makes me as anxious as the change of seasons. Middle School broke my spirit, and I am concerned it will not do the my daughter’s own spirit. To this day, I don’t have an exact reason why middle was so challenging for me, but I know I entered middle school as a happy, fearless, and enthusiastic 12-year-old, and exited as a moody, anxious, and self-conscious 15-year-old. If you are wondering about my age, when I first moved to this country, I was placed in the first grade as a seven-year-old because I had no school records and could not read or write in either Spanish (my native language) or English You can read more about my school memories before moving to this country here. Anyhow, I can only speculate as to why my spirit was shattered into a million pieces, and it is my intent to be available for my daughter and help her navigate the social nuances of adolescence. While I am completely aware I will have many moments where I will falter and she will believe I don’t understand what she is going through, I am hoping she will look back and appreciate my effort.

 

My 11-year-old knows all about selfies

 

Independence and Learning the Rules

My soon-to-be three-year-old is stubborn, strong-willed, and ornery, but she is just as sweet, funny, and witty! She too is beginning a new journey in her life; one that includes navigating the social world where she can be independent yet learn to get along with others. I loved spending time with her while at home, but honestly, I felt like I was holding her back. She is so funny, and so smart, and because I was so unstructured, she could have learned so much more than what I offered. I know, I know, she’s only two, but it seems like nowadays, infants are born knowing how to walk, read, and play the piano. With me, she learned how to use an iphone, and ipad, watched every single Disney movie and learned all the songs on the radio. My concern for her is how she is going to handle preschool. Apparently, the school expects for three-year-olds to wipe their own butts! Their arms can barely reach their backs let alone their butts! I am also concerned about her orneriness and like any other mother, I want for her to be happy, kind, confident, intelligent, and all the good wishes a mother prays and hopes for.

 

She hikes to the beat of her own feet

 

Mommy Wars

I’m back at work, but it is only part-time. This means I am either going to be stellar juggling my mother and professional duties, or completely mediocre. I don’t really want to get into the mommy wars, because I don’t have an answer as to what is best. For the first six months I stayed home with my daughters, I loved it. The house was organized, the laundry was washed, folded, and stored away on the same day, and I felt total bliss not having to do the morning rat-race. But things changed. Because I was new to a small town, I did not know anyone. The only adult interaction was with my husband, and I pined for his presence and felt so lonely when he took off for work. The chores that I excelled in the first six months became “chores.” It was as if the only way to measure my self-worth for the day was whether the house was cleaned or not, whether dinner was ready or not and whether the little one was clean or not. So I became disinterested and I longed for something more. I wanted to solve problems that did not involves spills, stains, or tantrums. Plus, I also wanted to earn my own money. I wanted to buy unncesessayy items without worrying how much it would put a dent on the budget. My husband has never begrudged or made me feel like his money was only his, so it had nothing to do with feeling financially oppressed. On the contrary, my husband has always been nothing but supportive of my wants and needs, but there is a sense of freedom and empowerment when a paycheck is made out to your name. It’s like you have put on your superhero cape and you have saved the world from a natural disaster. I knew didn’t want to go back to the full 40+ hours, but I definitely wanted to be a part of the working community. Well, patience has paid off, because not only am I returning to work exercising the profession I invested in (School Psychology), I am only doing it part-time, giving me the opportunity to balance my work life with my personal life.

 

My work clothes have rediscovered their purpose

 

Family

As I was typing this, my husband walked into the door. After three LONG weeks, he is home. I’ve missed him so much, and as each day goes by, I feel so blessed knowing how fortunate I am to have not only a loving husband, but a formidable father as well. He is the father I never had and the husband I dreamed of. While he was away, my mother has been helping me out a lot. Despite our differences, I know my mom is doing the best she can. We are not close by any means, but perhaps my time with her (she will spend a total of six weeks with me) will help heal some of the wounds I have been carrying around for years. Because I cannot change who she is and what she thinks, the healing has to occur with me alone.

 

My mom taking our dog Jake for a walk

 

Marine Corps Marathon

The negative voices of self-doubt have been present the last two weeks of marathon training. I’ve not written about my training much for fear of disappointment like the one I experienced during Eugene, but I am still very much loyal to my runs. This past Saturday, I had an 18 miler, and it was definitely challenging. My legs ached, and my mind kept wandering negative thoughts, “What if I do terrible?” “What if I get hurt again?” “You are so slow.” “You are not a real runner.” Anyhow, I had to move each foot in front of the other and wrestle the demons that feast on weaknesses to prevent it from letting it get to me. I am officially eight weeks away and don’t feel as strong as I felt for Eugene eight weeks out, but I am still giving it all I’ve got. I don’t want to put much thought into this anymore in order to keep the voices of doubt way back in the dark area of the brain.

 

Summer running on my last leg of Ragnar Relay NW Passage

 

Are you looking forward to the change of Season? Do the shorter days affect your mood? What is your fall race schedule?

Sitting in the Couch

Let me start this post with a completely random fact about me. Spanish is my native language. While English has become my dominant and preferred language, it is still a foreign language despite the fact I’ve been utilizing it for three decades now. For example, clichés are not in my linguistic repertoire, so I always get them wrong (she searched every crook and nanny). There is one word in particular though that I always get wrong: in (see Title). In the Spanish language, there is no differentiation between in and on, so when I have to use it in English, I have to think about it really hard. Thus, if you read or have read a sentence that doesn’t make sense, please know I’m wired in Spanish.

Friday December 12

My ten-year-old daughter was given a solo to sing for her school’s Christmas Performance. She sang what I think is a challenging song, Silent Night, in front of her peers and the community. My daughter has always enjoyed singing, but she’s never sang a solo, so the worry wart mom in me was extremely…worried. I refrained from sharing my fears with her because I did not want to stress her out. Most importantly, I wanted to trust that she would be okay regardless of how it went. Stressing out is something that comes natural to me, but trusting, that is something that is extremely difficult for me. The night before her performance, I prayed. My prayer was not directed at God asking for my daughter to wow the crowd, instead, I asked God to allow me to show my daughter the right support and encouragement in order to nourish her endeavors without fearing what people may think of her. I recognized my worries and fears stemmed from my own insecurities, and the last thing I want for my daughter is to have her carry the same insecurities I struggle with. I’m not going to lie though, I didn’t exhale until she sang her last note! And oh, how beautiful she sang. There was no reason for me to worry.

IMG_6582.JPG

Sunday December 14

‘Twas a cold Sunday morning and while sitting at Starbucks drinking water (I occasionally drink decaf coffee, but wasn’t in the mood) I received a text from a Crossfit friend asking if I wanted to run. Given I’m usually the one who is begging people to run with me, I almost jumped out of my seat when someone asked me. There was only one problem though, I hadn’t run in four weeks. What if I was too slow, or had to walk, or couldn’t? In less than a few seconds, I tossed those fears aside and said “Yes!”

IMG_6504.JPG

All smiles post-run with my friend Bene.

We ran 3.24 miles and it was fantastic! The cold 31 degrees hurt my lungs, but there was a fire within me that embraced the pain after four passing weeks with zero running. Even better, when my friend told me that our average pace was a sub 9, I was beyond content! My Crossfit and Insanity workouts really helped me keep some strength during the four weeks of rest. More importantly, there was no pain on my left heel, which was the catalyst for my running hiatus.

Monday December 15

Monday was rather quite uneventful, and what I was looking forward to the most was my 5:30 Crossfit workout. Mondays are heavy squat day. Instead of back squats, I found myself rushing to pick up my two-year-old off the floor right after lifting an exorbitantly heavy mirror off her body. Upon picking her up, I immediately noticed a bruise on her wrist accompanied with swelling. She kept screaming, “It hurts, it hurts.” Trying to remain calm, I asked her to move her fingers, her wrist, and her arms. She did, but with painful sobbing and giant tears rolling down her eyes. Wearing spandex and a bright yellow tech shirt, my husband and I rushed to the emergency room.

IMG_6530.JPG

My baby’s hand and her nails that are in need of a fresh coat of polish (she’s two, but she loves getting her nails polished). Her swelling and bruising looked so much worse in person.

The X-Ray came back showing no broken bones and there was nothing but relief flowing through our bodies after the flow of adrenaline rush. The only bad news we were given was that the little one might experience significant pain throughout the night caused by the bruising and swelling. Pain indeed was what she experienced after we left the hospital, and she wasn’t able to rest wasn’t until 2 am.

IMG_6531.JPG

All smiles when she learned she was going to go home.

Tuesday December 16

All I wanted to do was run. That’s all I wanted. Once my toddler finally gave in and took a MUCH NEEDED nap, I hopped on the treadmill and run my heart out. Because I was so eager to give my lungs a push, I decided to increase my pace on the treadmill every quarter-mile. This translated to nine second increases every 400 meters. My pace began with a ten minute mile, and I was going to complete a total of four miles. Once I started running, I realized I had no idea what my final pace would be, but I figured I’d know once I got there. Another random fact about me, I make up my runs on the whim.

Fantastic! That was exactly how I felt and even though I knew by mile 2.5 that I would eventually hit sub 8 miles, I was not at all intimidated. After huffing and puffing the last 1600 meters, I was absolutely proud of myself!

IMG_6536.JPG

Happy! Happy! Happy!

Tuesday and Wednesday were both Crossfit days, and Wednesday’s workout was brutal! One of the three workouts included climbing ropes after a sequence of Olympic lifts (Power Snatch). Today, Thursday, I’m sore from head to toe!

How is your Winter training coming along? We’re any curve balls pitched your way by this game we called life?

Mea Culpa

The “Motherly Moments” category has been empty. I’ve been hesitant to post because I’m the I’m failing my children as a mother kind of mother. No, I’m not saying this because I want sympathy. I’m saying this because every time I go to bed, I realize I failed my duties as a mother in one way or another:

  1. I lost my patience and raised my voice – more than once.
  2. I sent my ten-year-old to school with disheveled hair.
  3. My almost two-year-old once again got into my iPhone and watched nursery rhymes videos on YouTube.
  4. The dinner that was supposed to include vegetables ended up being loaded with carbohydrates.
  5. The pile of laundry did not get folded on time, so my daughter sported wrinkles to school.
  6. I did not enroll my daughter in gymnastics or dance young enough for her to ever consider said talents as a career. I speak Spanish, but failed to teach my oldest daughter Spanish.
  7. I allowed them to watch back-to-back episodes of SpongeBob, and Icarly.
  8. This weekend, both girls ate more than their fair share of sugar.
  9. I was so tired, I send them to bed without brushing their teeth, or flossing.
  10. I gave them cereal for dinner because I did not feel like cooking.
  11. They asked me to play a board game, and I’ve said no because I was not in the mood for playing.
  12. They watched the movie Coraline first thing when they woke, in the middle of the day, and just before bed time.
  13. I’m lousy at arts and crafts, so we rarely utilize glue, beads, stickers, construction paper, or scissors.
  14. I’m constantly nagging my daughter about her messy room.
  15. I’m hounding my older daughter about her homework.

The list is never-ending. And every night, I tell myself that tomorrow will be different. I will not lose my patience. I will be more organized. Dinner will look good, taste good, and be healthy. I will not send my daughter off to school with messy hair, or wrinkled clothes. I shall read to my toddler all day long, followed by arts and crafts, and the mess that transpires in between that time will only be symbolic of our creativity. But the day passes, and every night, my failings flash before my eyes like flickering neon lights in a questionable bar. I go to bed wondering if my daughters will hate me. If they will blame me for all of their shortcomings. If they will approach motherhood with the hope they will not be the mother to their children like the mother I was to them.

I’m turning this post around. I don’t want for this first post to be filled with self-imposed expectations of what my role as a mother should be. Yes, I am impatient, but I apologize to my daughters, and they forgive me every time, and am granted another opportunity to show them how much I love them. I’ve sent my daughter to school disheveled on several occasions, but she’s always been clothes, her belly has been filled with food (or have access to food at school) in a house where she was able to sleep comfortably in her own bed. I don’t do arts and crafts, but I will enroll my daughter in school plays, and drive six hours one way to ensure she participates in an event that is less than an hour-long because I know it will be a wonderful memory she can place in her treasure box. I kiss both of them good night every night. Yes, I nag my daughter about her homework, but it’s because I care about her and want her to be successful in school. My toddler can use an iPhone, but she can also sing Twinkle Twinkle, the Alphabet, and over twenty different nursery rhymes. Despite her ability to turn an immaculate room into a Picasso masterpiece, If I ask her to help me pick-up, she happily obliges. And when I don’t want to cook dinner, they are not only forgiving, but enjoy having breakfast for dinner (I thank the movie Coraline for that one).

My daughters love me and I know they know I love them. I’m not perfect. I never will be. I will never be good at arts and crafts, but there is no rule in this galaxy that indicates I have to be Martha Stewart in order for my daughters to think highly of me. The ratio of carbohydrates to protein will never be perfect, but my daughters are not starving, or malnourished. Two out of five days, my daughter will go to school with nicely braided hair. And if the measurement of a good mother is dependent on braids, then I’m sure I am sharing the Titanic with a plethora of parents. Each day is a learning day for both my daughters and me. It is learning to love each other unconditionally, to learn about each other and strive to be a better us the next day. And if at night,  I don’t get to check-off a single one of the  self-expectation measuring my value as a mother, I will wake up the next day and try, try again. There will be times where my daughters might be embarrassed of me, perhaps blame me for something I failed to do, or did. But there is one thing they will never doubt – how much I LOVE THEM!

Goofing around with my favorite peeps.

Goofing around with my favorite peeps.