The pandemic is beginning to dwindle, and it’s ok if part of you is grieving

The pandemic is beginning to dwindle, and it’s ok if part of you is grieving

In late March 2020, I sat on our reclining chair in the living room and watched the United States shut down. Within 72 hours, my children were home 24/7, I had multiple anxiety attacks about my husband going into his office for work, and my hands were cracked and bloody from overusing hand sanitizer.

I couldn’t process any of it, so I cried. I grieved. I grieved over our business, an art gallery, temporarily shutting down at the state’s request. I grieved for my kindergartner who wouldn’t see her friends for a long time (because let’s be honest, any of us who had a basic biology class knew that “fourteen days to stop the spread” was complete bullshit). I grieved for myself because all of my childcare was gone, but the job was still there and needed tending to. I grieved for my college students who were suddenly online learners and probably never wanted it to be that way. I anxiously grieved for my parents, in their sixties, who may not be able to survive COVID-19 if they caught it.

This probably sounds familiar, eh? The sudden changes, twists, and turns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic brought most of us to tears and to our knees. Suddenly, life as we knew it was over.

Fast-forward a year, and cases are down significantly from April 2020. We know how the virus works. We know social distancing works. We know that masks work. At least 18% of the US population 18+ has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Schools are back in session, and according to the CDC, people who have been fully vaccinated are permitted to hang out mask-free with other vaccinated folks and to travel again.

It is, however, a change — and any change can cause grief. If you’re a little sad that this season of your life is ending, well sis — you are not alone.

There will likely never again be a time during our lives when we will have our children with us 24/7. I know; I know — “thank God,” right? Sure, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to be “the person” for my children all day, every day. I remedied every cut, burn, or scratch. I dried every tear. I made the decision whether something was worth crying about. I resented the last parent-teacher conference where I was told my daughter is “too emotional over everything.” While the pandemic strapped me for any time whatsoever to myself, it allowed me to transfer that freedom to my children and give them the safe, comfy space that I know they deserve.

When our children are in school, we wonder. We worry. We overthink it. Despite the non-cholent way we brush our hair off our shoulders as we gossip over salads and lemonades with friends while our kids are in school, be honest: Deep down, we worry constantly.

Was that rambunctious kid mean to her again? Is the Spanish teacher snapping out on all of the kindergartners like she did last week? Did she It’s Tuesday — did I sent money for ice cream? For fuck’s sake, she better not solicit her friend for ice cream money if I forgot. Will she end up catching the stomach bug? Please God, no. Please. I can’t deal with puke.


The truth is that when something changes, we lose. We lose a routine; we lose our stability; we may even lose part of ourselves. And while “positive change” is the understatement of the past year from hell, it’s still a loss. It seemed unimaginable to us to settle into the “new normal” (can we cancel that phrase, please?) a year ago. We became grade school teachers, students of infectious diseases, and — albeit — zombies with hair that hadn’t been washed or died for quite some time. We became advocates for science. We stood up to friends and family members who wouldn’t take this horrific pandemic seriously. Those of us who were quiet spoke up, and those of us who spoke up learned to listen and to understand that we really are not in control of anything.

As we leave this phase of our lives as women, adult children, mothers, and employees, we will never forget where we came from over the past year. If you watch your partner leave for work after working at home for a year and sneak into the bathroom to cry afterwards, it’s okay. If you painfully watch your kids, donning a mask and a smile, hop onto the school bus and you feel a little bit angry inside, it’s okay.

If you’re grieving that this chapter is over, it’s okay.

Tackle Laundry In One Day With These 5 Tips

Tackle Laundry In One Day With These 5 Tips

I say this constantly: I never realized that one additional human would cause SO MUCH MORE laundry. Doing laundry for five people is drastically different than doing laundry for four!

It typically takes me forever to get the laundry done. I’ve been working on ways to streamline it, and I think I have finally figure out the most efficient ways to get it done. You can use the five tips below regardless of whether you wash all the laundry on one day or spread it across a few.

My time spend in laundry laundry decreased dramatically when I started implementing the methods in this blog post. I feel like I have a whole day back just by making a few, simple changes. Hopefully they help you the way they help me!

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Motherhood Mondays: Five Ways To Make Your Days More Enjoyable

Motherhood Mondays: Five Ways To Make Your Days More Enjoyable

Stop taking it personally. I have cried in the bathroom or have cried myself to sleep multiple times because the kids didn’t want to nap or didn’t like what I made for dinner. Dude, they’re kids. Kids are awesome because they legit don’t give a f*ck what anyone thinks. Not into those noodles? They’ll push the plate away. Don’t feel like napping? Eventually you’ll just stop trying. When your children don’t like your food or don’t want to nap or shat through a onesie in the jogging stroller when you’re on mile 3 and are supposed to run 10, it simply isn’t your fault. Chill out.

Understand the mom guilt. Guilt really, really sucks. And the toughest thing about guilt is that we can’t get rid of it or burn it off as easily as other emotions. If we are angry, we can go run five miles and come back totally cool. Sadness? Just cry it out and walk away. But guilt? It lurks around the corners and you have to make a mental effort to get rid of it. Guilt stems from feeling like you did or didn’t do something you should have done. To get rid of it, you have two options: 1) Go do the thing you were supposed to do or go apologize for the thing you did; 2) Understand your actions (or lack thereof) are justified so you need to forget about it and move on. Above all, the only person who can “make” you continue to feel guilty is you.

Decide that your day is about to be the best day ever. Every Sunday night, I decide that my Monday is going to kick ass, so it does. I could also change things up and decide that Monday sucks, and in that case, Monday would most definitely suck. See, with kids and jobs and all that, you’re not in control of much. You can control one thing, always: your attitude and your thoughts. You’ll get the kind of day you want. Regardless of if I spill coffee on myself on the way out the door, didn’t sleep enough, or forgot half the shit I was supposed to bring with me – my Monday will be the best Monday ever because that’s how I want it. Simple. Also, this is one of the most empowering things about being alive: You control your thoughts!

Take action. It’s really easy to get into the cycle of “I’m so overwhelmed, so I’ll just sit here and do nothing.” I will tell you first hand that stuff doesn’t just quietly go away. You’re responsible for taking care of whatever messes, both big and small, that you’ve made. I used to think that eventually, everything troublesome in my life would just “smooth itself out.” Ha! Nope. Make a list and tackle it. Whether it’s financial or kid or spouse related, get that stuff down on paper and work through the list. Trust me – you’ll feel better, and it won’t seem like a student loan bill has become the focal point of your life once you figure out what to do with it.

Replace it with “Just wanted to say I love you.” No joke – I have flipped my shit through texts to my husband over dog hair, laundry, dishes, kids that won’t sleep, running out of formula, being low on diapers…and for what? What is the point of being overly critical? Yeah, maybe we are low on formula. A simple way to handle that is “Hey honey, can you run to get a bottle of formula?” Every time you open your mouth to criticize your husband, replace it with “Just wanted to say I love you.” Seriously, do this for a week every time you want to yell at your husband over not emptying the garbage. You will not go wrong being kind and selfless, ever, for any reason.

 

Happy Monday!

Running Shoes: Meet Emily – @runningacrossohio

Running Shoes: Meet Emily – @runningacrossohio

It’s been way too long without a feature on the blog, and I’m so happy to pick it back up again with Emily! Emily is from Cuyahoga Falls and she has set the amazing goal of running every half marathon in Ohio. Yes, every single one (I’m working on her for Youngstown). Through her running journey, Emily works to benefit many different charities.

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Of course, my first question was what sparked the idea? Ohio isn’t the biggest state, but it certainly isn’t the smallest. We have a lot of half marathons, that’s for sure. “I can’t even tell you exactly what spurred this,” she said, but hearing others talk about lofty goals like a half marathon in every state helped lead her to this idea. With young children, it’s challenging to move around the country, so we get to keep Emily right here at Ohio’s races.

At the moment, Emily is signed up for at least four half marathons. With no hard timeline in place, her goal is tackle them all within five years. So far, Emily’s favorite race is the Wooster Heart & Sole Half Marathon, an out and back course that’s a smaller event. She has also completed some larger races in the state, such as the Akron Half Marathon. “I’ve done small and large events; I’m not really one to love one over the other.”

The best part of our interview happened when I asked Emily to tell me about her confidence to stick to half marathons. Whether or not we believe that it requires confidence in the running community, it does – and Emily proudly wears these very wonderful accomplishments and doesn’t let pressure to run longer distances, namely marathons, get to her. After running the Columbus Marathon in 2013 and dealing with a knee injury that resulted in a DNF at the Chicago Marathon in 2012, she confirmed her perfect distance: 13.1.

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“When I run half marathons, I just really like the distance. It feels more realistic,” she said, referring to her dedication to raising her children and making her family a top priority. With the support of her husband, she is able to happily train for half marathons and enjoy that training.

She also added, “Running needs to be enjoyable, and it isn’t worth the strain if you aren’t passionate about it. Figure out what works best for you and don’t worry about what other runners are doing.”

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It was so refreshing to hear someone speak so positively about the huge accomplishments of half marathons!

Emily’s 2017 race schedule is not fully planned just yet, but she’s currently signed up for three runs in the spring: Union Hospital Run for Home (New Philadelphia); Pro-Football Hall of Fame Half (Canton), and the Cleveland half.

Bold Speed Ahead, LLC wants to support Emily in anyway possible. There is a “donate now” button on her blog, www.runningacrossohio.com, where you can help raise funds for local charities. “This isn’t about me. I want people to learn about these charities and bring awareness to the different things I am running to support,” said Emily – and I know that is true!

Best of luck to you, Emily – hope to see you in Youngstown on June 4. You can follow Emily on her blog as well as Instagram: @runningacrossohio.

Running With Kids & Respecting The Course

Running With Kids & Respecting The Course

Before we get into this, you need to know I’m not talking about something on which I lack knowledge. I actually started running as a new mom, so I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who has run for leisure with a jogger (sometimes walked with the jogger) as well as someone who runs to complete for wins and PRs. I do both, and if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that there are rules of the course that you must respect when you are running with children – regardless if they are running with beside you or sitting in a jogging stroller.

A common question my athletes ask me when they are new to the sport is “what are the rules of the road?” We’ve all read articles about how you shouldn’t be upset if a runner doesn’t high-five you back, that you should understand which side of the trail to run on, that you need to understand what it means when someone says “to the left” (it means you stay right where you are – it doesn’t mean move left!). What I do not see a lot about is how to handle running with kids.

Rule #1: You need to respect time course limits. It’s non-negotiable. I always run slower with the jogger. If my stepson is running alongside me, I’m going way slower. Still, you have to respect time limits. Toting kids along with you doesn’t mean you get extra time. From the perspective of a race director in training, time limits are strategically planned for a lot of reasons: roads can’t stay closed forever, law enforcement can’t stand in one spot all day, etc. Time limits are not random or arbitrary, nor or are they a suggestion – they are almost aways steadfast.

If you don’t think you can complete the race within the current time limits, it might not be the right race for you to run with your kids.

Rule #2: Just because you start in the back-of-the-pack doesn’t mean you can let your kids zig zag across the course. This is especially true for different distances that start at or around the same time. If you’re walking a 5K and others are running a 10K, the fastest 10k runners will pass you by on their way to the finish. It’s those runners who are competing for a place and likely some form of cash prize. If you get in their way, or in the way of any runner who has set some kind of time goal, you tac seconds or minutes onto their time. At the least, you shake their mental hold on their goal. That’s pretty disrespectful.

Moral of the story: Make sure your kids understand that they need to stick close to you. It doesn’t mean they can’t run, jog, skip, and be silly – it means they need to do that within an invisibly confined area.

Rule #3: Don’t start in the front because your kids want to if you don’t plan on running fast. There’s no reason to have your toes on the start line if you aren’t competing to set an insane PR or place in the race. Again, you disrespect the rest of the people who have that goal if you get in their way, and this is one way to get in their way.

I point blank tell my kids “no.” I explain to them that there are other, professionally trained runners who are faster than us and need to be further toward the front. I also talk about training and how they can train to be that fast someday, but that it takes hard work and we need to respect that.

Rule #4: Don’t stand in the middle of the course with a child who throws him/herself on the ground and throws a tantrum. It’s dangerous for your child, which is the biggest reason not to do it. Runners have to hurry to dodge a tiny human, and if they can’t, they could fall on the child or worse – trample on the child.

I guess this just isn’t the time to reason with your kids. Pick them up and move them off the course.

During the 2015 Liberty Mile, a child kept lagging behind and screaming in tears. His mother’s response was to run ahead of him, turn around, and say “come on!” Meanwhile, we were all trying to not only dodge this three year old, but make sure everyone else did, too! We were worried he’d get run over, and a child’s safety takes priority over a PR.

Rule #5: Everyone on the course who is walking/running needs to be registered and needs to wear a bib. This one really gets me. I mean, the bibs are more than timing chips and numbers and cool things to hang up somewhere to show how awesome you are. That number also links to each runner’s registration information, including emergency contact and possibly any medical conditions. If you think that your child who is running or walking with you doesn’t need this important form of race ID, you shouldn’t be running the race.

I realize it’s another registration fee, but it’s truly for the best. God forbid something should happen to you during the race, people can easily discover who you and your child’s emergency contact is and ensure you get the help and possible medical attention you need.

Plus, your child might place! Wouldn’t it be really cool if your child won a place in the 10 and under age group? It won’t happen unless your mini is following the rules by wearing a race issued bib.

My kids love the bibs. They actually get upset when kids runs don’t have them.

 

I don’t want to sound harsh, but these kinds of rules need to be followed so everyone can enjoy the race. All of the course rules are there for a reason, and the race runs smoothest when they’re followed. I give moms who race with kids a lot of kudos. I do it sometimes and it’s no easy feat! I mean…there I go, down the street, playing Thomas the Train songs on Spotify and pulling over because she wants a different flavor fruit snacks….

Really, I high five you. And to all of you who respect the rules of the road, I high five you twice :-).