Monday, February 10, 2014


It was to put it mildly, a rough morning. By 9AM, I had dealt with two meltdowns and a standoff at school. I was exhausted—staying up too late, having trouble falling asleep, waking up to Elizabeth's cries at 1 AM. Is it bedtime yet? I wondered. But no. There were two chapters to edit and project updates to send out. A bill to pay.

I sat at my neighbor's dining room table, which serves as a desk these days, and closed my eyes, breathed deep. I heard the birds, busy outside, and when I opened my eyes, the sun again was bright, the sky a deep clear blue, and the snow still brilliant. I sighed and scrolled through my file. I wanted to be out there. I looked at my list and the thorny chapter I was cleaning up. I thought about the struggle of the morning and about the afternoon and bedtime looming ahead.

You need to run. 

I haven't been running regularly, not with the cold (temperature) and the ice and the cold (sickness) of this winter. But I had an email about making time for yourself even when things are overwhelming, and I remembered the Facebook post the other day about making running a priority and listening to your body, and even though I hate the p word, it stuck with me. I looked out at the sunshine. I wanted to be out there.

Suddenly I was motivated to get that chapter wrapped up. If I could do it by 11:15, I could go before Brian was back with the girls. I could do the 3-mile loop and be home in time for lunch, home when I said I'd be back from work. Yes.

It was colder than I thought. For the first half of the run I regretted not wearing gloves and contemplated another layer. One foot got wet when I stomped through a puddle hurrying to the side as a car approached. And I didn't grumble about any of that. I listened to my body, even though the to-do list suggested it wasn't wise. I ran, my nose tingling with the cold, as I breathed in fresh air. I ran, letting go of the meltdown about not wanting to go to school and the one about actually wanting to go to dropoff after all. I let go of the stand down by the cubbies and the kicking and the faces and the tone. I let go of the tears that threatened when I returned to the classroom with Kathleen's water bottle and one of her teachers was kind to me, patted my back, seeing that morning played out on my face. As I turned the last corner toward home, I stretched out my arms and shook off the rest of it.

I listened. I ran. It got me through the day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sun on snow

We've all been grumbly lately. Kathleen pouts every day because it isn't spring and she can't make fairy houses. (We did get out for two days to make them, only to have ten inches of snow dumped on them the next.) Both kids have energy they don't know what to do with. I sigh every time I have to put on boots and coat and hat (now gaiters) to take the dog out.

It's been a long winter.

This time of year I'm usually done with winter. I'm dreaming of my garden even though it's still covered in snow. I'm buying seeds whenever I go to the store because it feels like a step toward gardening. I'm getting through by thinking of sap running and pancakes with sweet syrup in just a few weeks.

So it's just that time of year, but this winter has seemed particularly rough. I expected it to be the year we finally started to take back winter more with both kids a bit older and more able to maneuver themselves even in the snow. We didn't have all that much snow this winter though. Mostly ice and cold cold cold. We didn't go out to play because walking across the yard was treacherous. We didn't go out because we were all sick for two solid weeks. Getting out in winter makes it not so bad. Getting out in winter can make it enjoyable even. I couldn't figure out how to get out alone in this winter never mind with the girls and the dog.

It snowed yesterday. It started sometime after I got up with Elizabeth at 1 AM and there were several inches by morning and kept up all day. We shoveled for two hours ending at noon and had to shovel again before dinner. I made every one go out. Kathleen grumbled because she couldn't make fairy houses. Then she made them a snow cave. I took the pine swag from Christmas off the door and let her use that too. Elizabeth didn't want to go out, but was happy to help shovel. We worked. We had fresh air. It was good.

Today, the sun shone, brilliantly, on the fresh, dry, crystalline snow. After Elizabeth's nap, it was still bright. I made us all get out again. Kathleen pouted as she brushed off her fairy houses. Elizabeth begged me to push her on the swing. I grabbed a dead kale plant I never cleaned up in the fall and tossed it for the puppy to chase. I looked up at the blue sky and the skeletal trees. The sun was not warm, but the brightness glowed in me. This is the winter I wanted mixed with the inching closer to spring.

More snow this weekend, but it will melt. I'll see the ground again, smell the fresh dirt. I'll see green again and pink and yellow . . . spring will come. There's beauty though where we are. Yesterday and today that wasn't so hard to see, but even in the ice and the cold and melting muck, it's there even if I have to remind myself to look for it.