52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with See Ya Later

See Ya Later!

I dropped the boys off at camp on Thursday.

They’re staying there, with my family, while I’m in San Jose for BlogHer ’14 with my husband. It’s really a treat for everyone. They play, have a blast, get to stay up late and eat all the ice cream, spend time with family, and make new friends. My husband and I get a mini-vacation, even if I work the whole thing.

Saying goodbye to them doesn’t get any easier.

When we stopped in on Sunday to check on them, they didn’t care that we had been gone since Thursday. As we said goodbye until the following Monday, BigBrother simply gave me a hug and ran out the door to go find his friends, the screen door slamming behind him.

LittleBrother looked up at me. “Eight days,” he mumbled. His eyes were wide.

“Yes, but then we’ll be home. You’ll have a good time with your brother and your other friends.”

“Yeah, you’re right. See ya later!” He shrugged as he kissed me and ran out the door, chasing after his brother.

I miss them so much right now, but I am not worried about them nor do I feel guilty. They’re having a blast. They’re safe. They’re happy. The same can be said of us here in California. Not too shabby at all.

 

Icebreaker Running

I’m Not the Nice Person I Think I Am

I have been meaning to write this story since BlogHer ’12 in NYC. Since BlogHer ’14 kicks off in San Jose later this week, I thought it was time to sit down and tell this story.

There's a cute boy across the aisle from me on this SEPTA train.

My husband and I arrived in New York City via train. We roadtripped to my daughter’s parents’ house, parked our car, and took the train into the city. It was cheaper than flying, I got to see my daughter, and it was way more fun because trains. However, we walked out of the train station to a drizzly rain. Know what that means in NYC? It means you’re never, ever going to catch a cab. This was pre-Uber. We walked a couple blocks, tried again, and failed again.

So we just kept walking toward the hotel, dragging our suitcases and bags along behind us.

A few blocks into our walk, I was sweaty from the walk and the humidity, and wet the drizzly rain. The previous week I had just endured a back procedure hoping to help heal the back injury from 2010, so I was feeling a little tender still as I walked and walked and walked that early afternoon.

As happens in NYC, a gentleman stepped out in front of me on the sidewalk to hand me a flyer for who knows what. I didn’t pay attention at the time, so I surely don’t remember now. I wasn’t a newbie to NYC. I avoided eye contact and just kept walking. Normally this deters the person and they leave you alone, searching for their next person.

Not this guy.

He followed along beside me for awhile. Mind you, my husband was just a step or two behind me off my other shoulder, but this guy either didn’t notice or didn’t care. He walked a step or two ahead of me, facing me, walking nearly sideways on the sidewalk. He stared, willing me to look at him.

Nope. Not gonna happen, buddy.

Finally, he leaned in close and whispered, “You’re not the nice person you think you are.”

Then he fell off and walked back in the direction from whence he came.

I blinked. My husband asked me what he said, and I told him. We laughed, and kept on walking, eventually arriving at the hotel a sweaty, rainy, frizzy-haired mess. Or, I was frizzy-haired; he wasn’t.

I’ve never forgotten that exchange. Neither has my husband.

I said something kind of snarky and off-color yesterday, and he leaned in to whisper. “You’re not the nice person you think you are.” We laughed again, wondering aloud what that even means.

“You know the movie, The Truman Show? And the spoiler people in the movie? I kind of feel like he was a spoiler person,” my husband stated, looking at the road as he drove. I kind of peered at him with a “what are you talking about” face. But maybe he’s right. Not that we’re in some weird, half-scripted, half-not reality-type show and the rest of the world is sitting at their television screen trying to figure out when we’ll run into the wall on our boat.

But maybe that man in NYC told me something about myself that I didn’t know. Or that I did know, I just don’t acknowledge.

Maybe I’m not the nice person I think I am.

Maybe the mean things I think about people but don’t say out loud will come back to bite me in the rear end some time in the future. Maybe my snarkiness is less of a sense of humor and more of a defense mechanism to keep people at an arm’s length. Maybe that guy saw through my facade, sensing that I am not as brave as I show the rest of the world.

Or maybe the guy was really just a jagoff.

It’s probably that.

Whatever the case, I do try to be as nice as possible to people in my life, to people I don’t know. I don’t really attack unless provoked, and even then, I’ve learned over the years how to let certain things go, to let them roll off of my shoulders. I may on occasion think not-so-nice things, but I rarely say them out loud. And if that means I’m not the nice person I think I am, then so be it.

Because I’d rather be a semi-nice person who doesn’t say stupid things* to people than a jagoff on the sidewalk who needs to learn how to keep his mouth shut.

On the Train in 2012

 

*=I’ll always say stupid things, but rarely with malice.

 

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon: Creepers and Beepers

I will be running the Columbus Half Marathon in 90 Days. Or two months and 28 days from today. I have 13 weeks left of training having just finished my third week.

Training for the Columbus Half Marathon

The third week of training felt better than the second, that’s for certain. First of all, the cooler temperatures and lower humidity really didn’t hurt. I really enjoyed running and not overheating. It’s my favorite. Secondly, my body is adjusting to the four days of running, the two days of working out, and the one day of resting. I also upped my water intake this week thanks to support from a great group of women online, and I know that helped me feel better too.

I shifted my runs around a little bit this week since I knew I would have to shift runs around this week due to travel. I actually think it worked better with my life schedule, though my life schedule changes a lot. I just have to remember to be flexible with days in the coming weeks.

This Week in Running

What didn’t help? Creepers and beepers.

I ran my long run (six miles) on Saturday this week. I initially went to the trail. I like to run longer runs on the trail since it’s flat. As Columbus offers a pretty flat course, I feel like running the hills of Southeastern Ohio during my three mid-week runs and running a flat course for my long run will be okay come race day. I showed up at the trail by myself as my husband was working. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw a number of men doing pushups, pull ups, and waiting around for what I assume was their group.

My stomach immediately hurt. I didn’t want to be out in the middle of the trail—an old railroad bed—with a group of men I didn’t know with no one else near me. It was a very #yesallwomen moment. Women who run keep safety in mind while training in ways that our male counterparts don’t. I have no trouble running next to a busier road; I am aware and will step aside as need be. But the thought of being alone in the middle of nowhere with a group of men? Nope. Everything Tracy said in her post about staying hidden while running rings true for me too.

I texted my husband and asked his opinion. His answer? Go somewhere else.

So I did.

I ended up running in a nearby town and out along a busier road. I felt much safer among other people, even if some of those people were texting and driving—including one creeper who wasn’t texting and driving but taking my picture while driving. Gross. And dangerous. Less dangerous but more annoying? Beepers. Don’t beep at runners. Even if it’s your best friend. It scares the bejeebus out of us and then makes us angry, which then makes us run too fast or too slow and generally messes with our pace and, dang it, we’d rather be lost in thought than thinking, “Was that Ricky? Who WAS that? WHY did they beep? Are my shorts riding up in the back? Is there a dog chasing me? WHY DID THEY BEEP?” Usually the answer is “just to be a jagoff.” So don’t do it.

After My Long Run

Despite creepers and beepers, my runs this week went rather well.

Monday: Shred, Level 2
Tuesday, Run 9: 3.09 miles, 31:29, 10:11/pace
Wednesday: Shred, Level 2
Thursday, Run 10: 4.01 miles, 39:11, 9:46/pace
Friday, Run 11: 3.00 miles, 28:47, 9:35/pace
Saturday, Run 12: 6.04 miles, 59:20, 9:49/pace
Sunday: Rest day! (But I walked all over camp.)

I ran negative splits on every day but the long run. I feel that if I ran on the trail, I could have hit my goal of negative splits for six miles as well. I had it all worked out in my mind. Then I ended up running on uneven sidewalks, across traffic, at stop lights, and on a route I’d never run before; I just felt happy that I ended up with a pace under 10 minutes.

NEGATIVE SPLITS

This week I’ve already started. I won’t be shredding on my non-running days as I’ll be traveling for BlogHer in San Jose. I will be walking a lot though. I’ll pick up the Shred the following week. I’ll be foam rolling tonight and tomorrow as well in preparation for the long flight(s). I’m not looking forward to treadmill runs while traveling, but I’m planning on a workout party with my favorite people, so maybe it won’t be awful.

YAY

My mileage doesn’t increase this week, so it’s just maintaining my runs while working a conference, staying up way too late, eating too much, and not drinking enough water. No biggie.

Week four, let’s do this!

 

How to Craft the Best Blog Post Ever

This morning I clicked through some shared blog links, my feed reader, and the Internet at large. I saw a number of posts dedicated to the topic of blogging itself, which isn’t shocking as BlogHer ’14 kicks off next week. I read these posts with interest, but have my own list of ways to craft the best blog post ever I’d like to share with you.

Like to hear it? Here it goes.

1. Write your heart out.

2. Press publish.

Ta-da! You win!

You can write it sitting down at a computer, standing up on your phone while waiting in line at Starbucks for your latte fix, on the train commuting to your job while balancing your iPad on your lap, dictated through an app on your phone or to your kid who types faster than you. You can even write it on paper, kick it old school with a journal and a pen and a lake and the sunset; type it into your blog later, when you have time, energy, space removed from the immediacy of whatever it was you needed to write right then, in that moment.

Writing Old School

You can put a picture on it. If you do, it can be a fancy pants picture you took with your DSLR, full of shiny bokeh and perfect focus. It could be a snap from your smartphone. It could be filtered within an inch of its life. It could have text on it. Or you could simply not put a photo on your post. The world will not end. Your words don’t matter less if you do not include a photo on your post. “They” say that posts with photos are shared more. I say that good writing is good writing is good writing. True facts.

You could share it. On Twitter or your personal Facebook page or your Facebook Fan page or Google+ or Pinterest or StumbleUpon. Or you could just let people find it, relate to it, and share it at will. Or you could do some combination thereof. Or nothing. It doesn’t matter.

Because crafting the perfect blog post has less to do with views and shares and potential for going viral and more with writing what you want to write at the time you want to write it. Too often, and more so in recent years as we’ve become hyper-focused on making sure other people want to share our posts instead of simply reading our words and relating, we censor ourselves. Or we forget to tell our story and instead blather on about things that matter very little to us in the end. Or we completely lose track of why we started blogging in the first place. Not to say your reasons can’t change, but our voices have changed over the years and a lot of that can be attributed to people telling us what success in blogging means, what it means to be a “good” blogger, what it means to be listed or not.

Remember when we came to our spaces and blathered and pressed submit and didn’t think twice about if it was retweeted or shared eleventy times? Remember when pressing submit on a post you poured your heart into—the very essence of your soul—left you feeling accomplished and proud of yourself, proud of the work you put into your own virtual space? Remember when telling your story meant something to you?

I’ve been working for the past few years on reclaiming that for myself. Last year at BlogHer, I spoke on a panel with three smart women, talking about brands, branding, success, and what it all means to us. We had different experiences, opinions, and processes. I keep coming back to my statement that pressing publish is enough success for me. I’ve written some hard stuff over the past year. I’ve also written about my running journey and sometimes neglected to share with regularity for fear that others might find it boring or trivial or not in “line with my brand.” Then I remembered that I’m not a brand, that I’m a human being and running is part of my story. So is losing my grandmother, watching these brothers figure out brotherhood together, the way I’ve learned to dress myself and this body of mine over the years, my struggles with anxiety and mental health, and everything else I’ve taken time and heart and energy to tippity-tap type out into this space, press publish, and send out into the world.

I recognize that I say this from a complete place of blogging privilege. I’ll walk across a stage in San Jose on Friday night and read a post* at the 7th Annual Voices and Photos of the Year Community Keynote in front of a room full of people I know and love, people I’ve read, people I’ve never read, people who don’t really like me, people who don’t know I exist. I’ll read a post that ranks as one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. Pressing publish on that post, putting it out into the greater space and showing that part of myself marked a success in so many ways. Instead of hiding, I pressed publish. Instead of censoring myself and being brand friendly, I pressed publish. Instead of letting someone else tackle it, I pressed publish—because it was my story. I’ll be recognized for the success of pressing publish. I get the privilege I have in saying, “Oh, pressing publish is success enough.”

But if I hadn’t been pressing publish for years and years and years and gotten back to a place where pressing publish was enough for me—more than enough for me—I never, ever would have written that post, shared my truth, and sent it out there for others to read, to relate to, to share. It simply wouldn’t have happened.

And so, keep writing your hard out and keep pressing publish. You are successful every single time you do so. True facts.

 

*=Voices of the Year readers have been instructed not to share which post they are reading on the stage until that night. I will have a post that goes live that night so those who cannot attend BlogHer ’14 can re-read what I wrote. Rumor has it there will eventually be video of the Community Keynote as well. Here’s hoping I don’t biff it in my brand new (epic) shoes.

 

52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with the Summer of Reading

Read All the Books

One day last week, just after the boys went to bed for the night, a friend of ours stopped by with his daughter and a bag of books.

An overflowing bag of books.

An overflowing bag of books full of all the kinds of books the boys find interesting right now: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (as in, the whole ding-dang series! score!), all kinds of mysteries (Jigsaw Jones Mysteries being a new favorite), books about science, books, books, and more books.

LittleBrother felt especially excited as he now has his own copies of Captain Underpants books. BigBrother has them as well, but now they can sit together and read all about fart jokes and poop jokes and other things that make them laugh. There’s something to be said about owning your own favorite book, not just having to share it with your brother. When one finishes a book we hadn’t previously owned or borrowed from the library, he passes it to the other. After they’ve both read the book, they talk about it, the characters, the plot. They’re back to writing their own books again too.

As an aside, they also want to start their own band as of this week. I don’t know where this came from and I’m not sure it’s book related, but it’s worth mentioning. Because we could use some ear plugs for Christmas.

They’ve been reading non-stop since the bag of books arrived. In fact, on two of their technology days over the weekend, they took time out in the middle of the afternoon to sit down and read. While we have “assigned” reading time every day (two to three chapters or two to three story books), they’re choosing to read above and beyond that time limit.

LittleBrother came to me today. “Mommy, I finished my three chapters, but can I read some more?”

Uh, yeah kid. Yes, you sure can.

They spent time this evening after dinner playing with a neighbor’s grandson. When the little boy left to go home, my two boys came inside, picked up their books where they left off, and continued reading. They’ve both already finished their Summer Reading Program for the school, earning a pool party when school starts back up. They raided the library today for chapter books, Pokemon books, The Puppy Place series, and a number of other books that looked interesting.

I can’t keep them in books right now.

It’s a good summer.