Facing Fears

Today I went on a Laurel Highlands Canopy Tour at Seven Springs Resort.

That means I willingly and willfully jumped off of platforms set high atop trees and ziplined through the air to yet another platform set high in another tree.

If you know me, you are probably doing the quick blink thing because here’s a small factoid about Jenna: I’m afraid of heights.

I don’t like to look over the sides of bridges. I don’t like to climb up ladders. I don’t look behind me on escalators. I don’t look out the window on fancy elevators. I don’t lean on the windows of hotel rooms perched high in the sky. Every time I went to the top of the Empire State Building, I had a panic attack.

I don’t like being high up.

Today I was really high up.

And I kept jumping into the air, trusting that the safety harness would do its job, and having the most wonderful time. Ever.

I will do anything to spend time with my daughter.

My daughter’s mom mentioned when we were planning our girls’ weekend, that the Munchkin really liked adventure type things. They had recently gone ziplining on a trip, and the Munchkin really liked it. 7 Springs offers two different zipline options: a four zip trip (more info) and a three hour canopy tour with ten zips. Guess which one we picked?

I was exci-ervous. We made that word up; it obviously means excited and nervous.

But then I just kept getting more and more excited. As we waited for the rest of our group to show up, I realized why I was so excited.

Just Waiting

I’ve had a rough year in a lot of ways. It’s been good too, of course. Running a marathon still ranks as one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’ve met new people, formed new relationships, done things I’ve never done, and put myself out there more than I ever have in previous years.

Agreeing to a girls’ weekend—without the safety of my sons and my husband—pushed me past my comfort level. It ended up not only being amazing but necessary on so many levels. Explaining to my boys this evening where I went and why I went without them was hard, but they accepted it for what it was, I guess. We don’t always get what we want in this life. Sometimes we’re excluded. Sometimes life doesn’t feel fair, but we are still loved, still cherished, still so important.

And then I jumped out of trees.

Me.

OH HI! I AM IN THE SKY!

I jumped out of trees with my daughter and her mother and two other couples and two guides who made us laugh, made us comfortable, made us believe we were capable of jumping out of trees. I zipped through the Western Pennsylvania air, the sunlight coming and going as we came in and out of the protective shade of the trees, and I thought about what a change has taken place in my life this year—in the past 11 years.

I faced fears today. More than just jumping out of a tree, flying through the air, and trusting that I wouldn’t smash face first into a tree.

Being a birth mother will forever be about facing fears. I’m in. For life.

 

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I Said Hey, What’s Going On

The heated pool didn’t feel as warm today, the sun warming the air much more than yesterday. Still, I promised that I would get in, would swim with her. I watched for awhile, her mermaid hair floating behind her as she flipped in circles, swam back and forth across the pool. Whenever she reached the other side, she looked and waved.

Yes, my dear, I’m always watching.

After enough time spent memorizing her movement, I slipped into the chilly water, her laughter surrounding me. She dove and came up all around me. I did the breast stroke, the doggy paddle, the back stroke. I watched still as she did hand stands and made herself sink to the bottom of the pool.

Her mom went up to shower before dinner, leaving us alone with a pool full of strangers playing Marco Polo. Just the two of us.

We ducked under the rope to the deep end, her still flipping, me still watching. We laughed and splashed, dodged other swimmers, and created our own little perfect moment as the mountain air continued to cool off, chilling our shoulders each time we stuck them out of the water.

A young woman with an acoustic guitar began playing “What’s Up” by the 4 Non Blondes. I took the girl that once swelled within my womb who is now somehow over five feet tall and wore my shoes to dinner (My. Shoes.) into my arms and said, “This. This is the 90′s music you need to listen to, to learn. This is the good stuff.” She laughed, rolled her eyes, and swam away. I sang to her when the young woman with the acoustic guitar told everyone in the pool area to sing along. “Hey-ey-ey-ey, I said hey, what’s going on?”

What was going on was that I spent a half hour in a pool at a mountain resort with my daughter with an acoustic guitar as the soundtrack. What was going on was that my heart exploded a thousand times over every time she made eye contact or asked me a question or simply smiled at me. What was going on was that I felt so incredibly lucky and so incredibly lost in the same quick breath to have these stolen moments; it’s more than most get and it’s so much more than I believe I am worth.

What was going on was a memory imprinted itself on my soul and will stay with me for the rest of my days.

Poolside

Sometimes

Dawn, This Morning

Sometimes you send a text on a whim on a Sunday night that sets the ball rolling for a weekend two weeks later.

Sometimes you pack the night before, trying on clothes and crying because things don’t fit as nicely as you’d like them to for the pictures that will inevitably be taken. And while it doesn’t matter, it matters so very much because you’ll look back at these photos over the months and years to come; these pictures will be all you have of her, of you, of the two of you together.

Sometimes you curl up on the bed, clutching a pillow, and wondering about the why and how of it all.

Sometimes you wake in the morning and continue to shove things in your suitcase, just in case, but you still forget toothpaste and saline; you forget to pack something to protect your heart.

Sometimes you work a full day of work, talking with your coworkers like jaunting off to see your daughter and her mom for the weekend is the most normal thing you do, like you do it all the time, like it isn’t big and scary and everything in the world.

Sometimes you kiss your husband goodbye, a tear dripping down your cheek as you whisper, “It’s hard.” And all he can respond is, “I know.”

Sometimes you drive all the hours by yourself, hands-free phone conversation the only thing that keeps you from stopping the car, turning around, and heading back into the setting sun.

Sometimes you arrive with your heart in your throat.

Sometimes you stand at the door a moment before you knock, your hand frozen in midair.

Sometimes you walk into a room and hear your name called with such love, such glee, that everything else in the world melts away and for one brief, shining moment, everything is worth it and right and full of love. As she falls into your arms for a hug, you realize that sometimes the lead up is the hardest part.

Sometimes.

 

Runner’s Review: ASICS Gel Nimbus 16

ASICS America contacted me recently to see if I’d like to try a pair of their shoes. Never one to turn down shoes because shoes, I said yes. I had my pick of any running shoe on their site, which felt awesome and overwhelming at the same time. ASICS has been a brand I love watching run past me (remember, I’m a middle pack runner, so people pass me; it’s okay, I’m fine with it) because they’re always so colorful and fun. I also helped my husband pick his first pair of running shoes earlier this year, and they just so happen to be a (brightly lace colored) pair of ASICS. I thought it would be fun to brightly match!

So at first, I looked through the site to find the brightest, most colorful shoes. SO. MANY. CHOICES.

Then I got serious and started searching for a shoe that would be the best fit for my feet. Literally.

I underpronate. The rest of the world overpronates or lands neutrally, but I’m a Special Snowflake, and my foot rolls out instead of in. Or, you know, instead of landing normally. This is why I ended up with a strained foot after the EQT 10 Miler last year: two races, too close together, with a shoe that wasn’t keeping my foot from rolling out, rolling out, rolling out. (And yes, when I think about underpronation, I sing, “ROLL OUT.” Every time.)

ASICS Options for Underpronation

63 options for an underpronator is like heaven. Normally brands leave us roller-outers with one or two ugly, clunky options. Nope, not ASICS. They were like, “LOOK AT ALL THESE SHINY SHOES.” I briefly considered the GEL Kinsei because the color options were downright fantastic, but ended up with the GEL Nimbus 16.

SO PRETTY!

I’ll be totally transparent: I adored the pink and green color combo and that played heavily into my decision. If the Nimbus hadn’t had any nice color options, I might not have ended up with this particular shoe. But if ever there was a shoe that said, “I’m made for Jenna,” it’s one that’s pink and green. I mean, obviously. The brighter the better. The people who complain about brightly colored shoe options aren’t my kind of people.

My ASICS arrived while I was in California, so I put them on within 20 minutes of returning from the airport and took off on a six mile run. Not always the smartest move, as a 1-3 miler is often suggested to “break them in” and see how they fit with your arches, soles, toes, and so on. Me? I just needed to run. Six hours on a plane with a back that wasn’t feeling all that hot required six miles on the road.

First Run in My ASICS

I was very pleased with my first run. My feet didn’t roll. They didn’t feel heavy or clunky, though heavier than some neutral shoes I’ve worn to avoid the heavy/clunky problem. I finished the run with happy feet despite fighting my six hour flight sore back.

And so, I wore the GEL Nimbus on every training run for the following week.

That included the previously mentioned 6.13 miler, a 3.03 miler, a 4.01 miler, a 4.00 miler, and and a 6.01 miler.

Four Runs in ASICS

I will say one thing: Road running in a shoe that doesn’t let your foot roll out is a smidgen more difficult. Think about it for a second: When you run on the side of the road, you are angled with your left leg and foot lower than your right leg and foot. As such, my right foot, being unable to roll at all, was stuck at an odd angle as I ran on the side of the road. I definitely felt the difference, and then tested the middle of the road and our local (flat) trail. Perfection. Absolute perfection. My foot was held the exact way it needed to be held.

As such, I would wear the GEL Nimbus in my half marathon as I don’t run on the edge of the road. I tend to run on the left side, closer to the middle of the road. I should be absolutely fine with these shoes for 13.1 miles—and the training that goes along with it.

If you are an overpronator and you want to stop rolling out, I’d give the GEL Nimbus 16 a try.

 

I was provided a free pair of shoes from ASICS America. I was not required to post a review.

 

52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with Backyard Camping

“I think I only took one picture of the boys together this week. I have nothing to share, nothing to write about brotherhood.”

Then I scrolled my phone.

It’s amazing what you forget happens in just one week’s time. Or, like, a day’s time. I could blame someone else, but the truth is that I’m so caught up in smooshing ALL THE SUMMER THINGS we want to do into what little time we have left, I’m struggling to remember the awesome of what we’re doing.

Like camping.

In the backyard.

Backyard Camping FTW!

We didn’t go camping at all last summer. The boys noticed, and were sure to let us know that they noticed. So we started out this summer full of camping intention. And then one thing after another happened, days came and went, months passed, and we found ourselves looking down the slippery slope of two weeks left before the school calendar once again rules our daily, weekly, monthly lives. With our work schedules, packing up and heading to one of our amazing state parks in Ohio didn’t seem do-able.

So we pitched a tent in the backyard. Without telling the boys.

They came outside, after having been told we’d be doing something fun that night, and nearly tripped over their glee.

ZOMG THE TENT!

They thought it was the best thing ever.

They went and got pillows and blankies and Hobbes. They found their flashlights. They asked 87 billion questions. And then they went to play in the settling dusk, chasing lightning bugs, playing flashlight tag, tripping over the dog, and having a blast.

I Don't Know...

You see, these two brothers have a rather early bedtime even in the summer. While they don’t have to wake up and go to school, we (the adults) have to wake up and work. Things still need to be done. Life still has to happen even if the school bus doesn’t arrive in the morning. So they are always the first kids in the neighborhood called inside, washed up, pajamafied, and sent to bed. They read past our nightly prayers and into the darkness, but they don’t always get to watch the sun set, the darkness fall. We have special nights out, but it’s not a regular occurrence.

So that night camping in the yard was really something special for them.

ALL THE PLAYING!

And for us, as the parents.

The slow down, the roasting marshmallows over the grill, the laughter of little boys in the dark, giving away where they’re hiding, the dog confused as to why we’re outside and what a tent is. We eventually sat on the deck as the boys attempted to fall asleep in the tent. For awhile, the giggles and snort-laughs followed jokes about cutting the cheese. Then the laughter gave way to whispers, words not discernible over the hum of late summer locusts. And then… silence.

GOOD NIGHT!

Little boys… brothers… best friends, asleep.

And really, it was the best camping trip ever. Wifi and bathrooms, the latter of which made for a faster trip at 1:44 AM when LittleBrother decided he had to go. RIGHTNOW. And then the sun rose in our back yard, waking both me and my husband before the boys even stirred.

There are two boys in this photo...

Eventually they woke up, “ordered” breakfast, and we shuffled them inside for cereal and air conditioning. For the rest of the day, they chattered about how fun the camping “trip” had been, how they want to do it again, how they wanted to do it that night, how much fun it is to play in the dark, and on and on.

Win, for both brothers and parents.

 


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