Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Child's Play

When we were kids, we played. We played because we could. We played because, besides chores and practicing the piano, we had no obligations. When we played, our bodies and our minds complimented each other. There was no "should;" there was no "can't." It was all about feeling and expressing and enjoying and sometimes getting hurt. But after the tears, we would jump up and keep running or spinning or pretending. Our childhood play was not about checking off our task list. It was about being - and enjoying - who we were.

So let's bring the "play" back into our lives! As adults, we are required to do more than chores and practicing (and of course, now I wish I had more time to sit down at the piano or with my violin). We must produce. We must accomplish. We must do. But that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy ourselves like we did when we were 8 years old, attempting a handstand.

This was the topic of the introduction of my yoga class last night. My instructor always begins class with a thought. A topic of focus for that night's practice. This word - "play" - has been at the front of my mind ever since. So during my run today, I thought about how a child might approach those four miles. I will admit that most children wouldn't have a training schedule to follow, and therefore might not set out to run a set distance. But while my legs were moving and my arms were pumping and my lungs were working, I felt a lightness in my mind and my heart. I let myself feel joy at my ability to move my body to the beat of my music. In fact, while Regina Spektor was singing, I practically pulled a "Phoebe." (Name that reference!) My feet fell hard on the beat and my neck waved from side to side as if there were a paintbrush attached the the crown of my head, trying to paint a rainbow in the sky. My arms waved wildly in the air and a grin spread wide across my face as my breath tickled my lips in even puffs.

I made good time on this run. I boosted my speed for the last half mile, which helped my average quite a bit. So as I approached the intersection where I turn east, up the steep hill (mountain) to my house, I considered ending my workout on my Nike+ (the iPod attachment that calculates my distance, time and pace). I didn't want the slower pace up the giant hill to ruin my average. Then, a child's approach came to my mind. Would a child care at all about her average pace? No way! She would approach that hill with gusto. She and her friends (or brothers) would race to the top of the hill, not because they wanted to save face on their workout stats, but because they wanted to see how fast they could fly. I kept my timer going and ran up that hill faster than ever. Because I could.

At the end of a wild and wonderful day of play, a child does not ask herself, "Did I play well enough today?" Let's approach our own goals with a little more compassion and just be.


We need haircuts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Strangely Flattered

"Sure, I'm home. Come on over!" said my brother when I called to tell him I was in the neighborhood. I just wanted to stop by for a nice and easy 10 minutes; David is always good for an uplifting conversation. I parked among a dozen cars out front. How many roommates does he have? As I approached the front door, I noticed a bunch of heads congregated in the kitchen. He didn't mention that he had company; I absently mused that I was glad I had washed my hair today. It's better to be grease-free when meeting a new acquaintance. I knocked and the door immediately opened to reveal a large group of 20-something guys sitting, standing, laughing in the kitchen, and my little brother's smiling face appeared in the middle of the group.

"Hey Meili!"
"Hey David. Eric! Benny!" I greeted the two friends that I knew. Then, a voice from the crowd: "Did you order a stripper?"

It turns out I had crashed a bachelor party that my brother was hosting. He told them that I was his sister, and we walked around to the living room where another group of guys was assembled. Then, again: "So you did order a stripper!"

Dude. Although I only have four years on you, I am a married woman with two kids and wrinkles forming under my eyes. I feel old enough to be your mother. That being said...

I've still got it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vegas Observations

Musings on a girls' weekend in Las Vegas...

If one loses her voice while chatting continuously with her girlfriend during the 6.5-hour drive to Las Vegas, many people in said city will assume that she lost her voice during a wild night of cheering for the glistening "performers" of Thunder Down Under.

Waiters on the strip refuse to split a party's bill, and may hate you a little bit if you and your friends take it upon yourselves to split it for them.

The drunk chicks at the next table will openly make fun of you for such responsible (cheap? tacky? hateful?) behavior.

Waiters on the strip may hate you a little bit when you don't order alcohol. Always order an appetizer to sweeten the deal.

The moment you declare that you aren't in the mood to shop for clothes is the moment you find the two dresses (on sale!) you didn't know you can't live without.

Observing the (swollen, lumbering, drunk, dirty) masses on The Strip is amusing the first day, appalling the second day, sad the third day and just plain depressing the fourth day.

The Universe has no choice but to balance a relaxing full-body massage complete with an invigorating exfoliating scrub and a refreshing mini-facial with a subsequent and lasting kinked neck and giant forehead zit. It's only fair.

If one leaves her babies for 4 days and returns with a voice like Darth Vader, she may be met with four eyes wide with fear. However, it is possible to distract the frightened children from the scary (lack of) voice by presenting two large and very sticky suckers shaped like dice.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

12of12: February (Sunday)

On the 12th of each month, I take 12 photos to document my day. My man returned home this afternoon after being out of town for an entire week. We were all happy to see him walk through the door.

1. I am 6 weeks into my training schedule for the Hollywood Half Marathon. Thanks to my foam roller, I'm not even feeling the 8 miles I ran yesterday. 2. Light dusting. 3. The punk and his mama in a doorknob. 4. Church kicked my butt today. At one point, I was the sole adult with 8 kids on one bench. 5. All three of us left the church in tears. It's been a long week without our man. 6. Sparkles. 7. Reunion with Daddy. Hallelujah! 8. The bathroom remodel is in full swing. The most important fixture is here, awaiting bubbles and candlelight. 9. The basher woke up from his nap to find Dad home and order restored. 10. This morning's light dusting turned into a full-day snowstorm. Dad helped the punk build his first snowman of the season! Yes, he's a pirate. 11. Chicken tacos. 12. Their temporary "tub:" a plastic bin placed in the shower downstairs.

Monday, February 6, 2012

When The Cat Is Away

When my man is out of town...

I clean more. Because if I don't do it, no one will. This is sometimes the case even when he is around, but a girl can dream. A girl can dream that the dishwasher will unload and reload itself overnight, right? It's funny. When the man's not here, I clean more. When he is here, I clean less in the hope that he will pick up my slack in the kitchen, but that's why the house is messier on weekends. Here's the flaw in my plan: although we used to share the housework equally before we had our boys because we were both working, cleaning the house is primarily my responsibility now, and rightly so; it's part of my job description. So on days when the man of the house is not working, he's too busy catching up on things like yard work and painting and repairing (things I never do) to think about the dishes I've been neglecting.

I stay up too late. Why? Is it because I am subconsciously waiting to go to bed with him? I don't think so. We don't always go to bed at the same time. When we do, it's because he announces his intention to hit the sack and I race him upstairs so I don't have to turn off the lights. I think it's because I am too busy enjoying being enveloped in sweet, sweet solitude. The combination of silence and freedom is intoxicating. If I were to go to sleep, it would be at the expense of this rare privilege, and that would just be irresponsible time management.

I regret my late bedtime every morning. I stay up later and later each night and get grumpier and grumpier each morning until he comes home.

I spend the entire week in a near-constant state of half-fear. Fear that a ghost-child will pay me a visit in the dark basement. Fear that someone will break in and I won't know which child to rescue first. Fear that I'll fall through a black hole and it will be days before anyone figures out that the boys have been subsisting on animal crackers and raisins from the kitchen floor.

I eat a late dinner. I was going to say I eat a very late dinner, but let's face it: 8:30 is not very late. It only seems that way because everyone in my house is asleep except me. Yes, when I am acting the role of a single parent, I sometimes wait to enjoy my dinner until the boys are in bed. That way, for one meal, I get to sit down, taste my food, and enjoy more than two consecutive bites. But hey, if I'm going to consume my calories after hours, this isn't a bad way to go, eh?

Gourmet Grilled Cheese

havarti cheese
mozzarella cheese
fresh basil, chopped
tomato, sliced
crusty multigrain bread

Butter 2 slices of bread and place in frying pan, butter side down. Top one slice with havarti and one slice with mozzarella. Cook until golden on bottom and the cheese starts to melt. Place tomato slices on mozzarella side and drizzle honey on havarti side. Place under broiler for a few minutes to heat tomato and melt cheese completely. Sprinkle with basil and assemble sandwich. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Runner's Low

Gretchen and I started our run uphill. Maybe this is where it all went wrong: at the beginning. When given a choice between uphill and downhill, when the end goal of completing 8 miles is not dependent upon this choice, what would a sane person choose? Yes, this must have been the decision that sealed our fate, because it was all uphill from there. Figuratively, I mean.

The wind.

The wind was frigid. Strong. Miserable. And heading south, which was not optimal, as we were running north. Well, we were trying to run north. I think at more than one point, we resembled a large black bird we saw with wings outstretched, facing the wind and going absolutely nowhere. While Mother Nature may have been providing entertainment for this winged creature, she was not doing us humans any favors. There is an overpass that connects bikers, runners, and pedestrians from one side of Parley's Canyon to the other. Crossing above the freeway that runs up the canyon was like trying to run through a tornado. The canyon was the perfect chute for the icy air to gather momentum and explode in our now numb faces. It took us 34 minutes to complete the first 3.2 miles. Possibly my worst 5K time ever.

The rest of the run was spent in survival mode. Just keep running. Just keep running.

So why do I find myself smiling when I think about the 8.5 miles we accomplished this morning? Because I did it with a friend. Because we laughed (and yelled and complained) through the tough spots. Because Blue Plate Diner was our destination, and chocolate milk and a giant omelette was my reward. Because the last time I ran that far was five years and two children ago. Because I can do hard things.

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