What Am I

I identify as, and am, a lot of things:  Christ follower, wife, mother, homeschooler, daughter, friend…but one thing has escaped me.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to say I am a runner.

I get out there, I run, but I see other runners, moving so much more easily and quickly and I think, “now that’s a runner.”  I was even, after doing a 7-mile run, saw a picture of someone running, and thought, “I wish I could run like them.”

I ended up frustrated and looking for reassurance, so I took to one of my fitness groups on Facebook–“when do you feel like a real runner?”

Unanimously, they reassured me I was a runner…someone who runs is a runner was the message.   One lady even pointed out my pace is 2 minutes faster than what is required for most races (I had no idea–glad those races I did early in my running didn’t kick me out!)

I walked away feeling better, but still a little unconvinced.

Sigh.

I kept turning the thought over and over in my mind.

Would I want my girls to ever doubt their efforts?  Sue is doing her second play this weekend…do I want her to doubt the hard work she has put in?  Does her lack of a union card make her less of an actress, singer, or dancer?  No!  Caitlyn runs on her own and with me.  Am I going to tell her she is not a real runner?  Never!!  Patrice loves to create.  Am I going to tell her she’s not a real artist?  Not in a million years!!

As P!nk says “You’re so mean when you talk about yourself, you are wrong.  Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead…”  And she’s right, I am.  I am very mean when I talk to myself, I internalize the bad and the ugly, and that is what I hear, what I listen to.

But yesterday, I decided to change at least one part of that broken record.

I am a runner.  I ran 11 1/2 miles+ last week.  I am at 10 so far this week.  I am training for two different races (a relay in April and a half marathon in September), I am working on improving distance and pace, my mind is either thinking about my last run or planning when to fit in the next one, I consider my running jacket and pants one of the best purchases I ever made…AND…I ran two miles back to back under 13 minutes (12:27 and 12:32 if you are wanting to know as badly as I am wanting to tell you!).*

If all of that doesn’t convince me I am a runner, nothing ever will.

*Just a few notes concerning that pace to put it into perspective for you:  I am only 4 ft 9 inches tall, my pace in August when I started running again was a 19-minute mile, and I am carrying about 35 extra pounds.  No excuses, just perspective on how far I have come.

Pi and Pie

Yesterday, 3/14, was Pi, 3.14, day.  Most years I remember too late that it WAS Pie/Pi day.

Not this year.

A wonderful friend put together a Pi day curriculum for me.  We practiced finding the circumference of circles using pieces of yarn and Pi.  We watched a couple YouTube videos, made Pi cootie catchers,  and a paper chain showing how there is not a number pattern in Pi.

To round out the day, the girls made an apple pie from scratch.

I did not have any of the finished product as it was full of gluten and apples, both a no-no when it comes to eating low FODMAP. So, I didn’t have any of the finished product.  Problem is, I had little nibbles of crust and apples as I helped the girls make the pie.  It’s not because I don’t know gluten and apples are a no-no according to low FODMAP eating.  I know they are, but sometimes, okay, often, I think, “all of this special eating is silly.  I don’t have food allergies so I am probably making a big deal out of nothing.”    I begin to feel ridiculous for the demands I make when it comes to food.  I tell myself I am just doing it to be a pain in the butt or feel “special,” so I stop.  I eat pie crust.  I eat sliced apples.

And then, within an hour or so, I find out eating low FODMAP is important, it does improve my life, it is worth the extra effort.  I was so sick last night I could hardly sit up during dinner.  My stomach hurt, my body was overcome with weakness.  I even had hubby take Sue to her play practice and I sat down on the couch and watched an entire movie…I have no idea when the last time was I watched a whole tv program at home, let alone a movie.  I just don’t sit that long.

Ignoring the rules of eating low FODMAP literally knocked me on my butt.  Lesson learned, for a while…

That was our day.  The Pie and the Pi of it.

How Do We Love

A number of years ago I thought I had figured out the solution to the race issue for myself.  I would go along with the mantra, “I don’t see color.”  I thought that would take care of it…but it doesn’t, it is at best a cop-out.  It was my way of saying, your life must be just like mine simply because I say it is.

Turns out, it is not that simple.  Life rarely is.

Recently, we have seen a lot of division in America.  A lot of hate.  A lot of anger.  A lot of destruction.  It is hard to see.  It is hard to acknowledge.  It is hard to understand.  It is even harder to fix.

In response, I have heard a lot of people say, “this isn’t the America I love.”  Thing is, that’s kind of like my thought above–I just won’t see color–it doesn’t work that way.  Loving America is like being a parent.

Loving America is like being a parent.  You have this child you love.  Your child is cute and sweet and has so many positive attributes, but there are behaviors and attitudes that are not so lovely.  As a good parent, you can’t just ignore the negative things your child does; you can’t just turn a blind eye and say, “well, that’s not the child I love.”  No.  As a loving parent, you will see the challenges, you will see the issues and work to help your child change, grow, and improve.  You will help them become more than they are now.  That is love.

It is the same with America.

I can’t see things in America I don’t like and ignore them.  If I truly love my country and its people, I have to choose to face the struggles, face the darkness and work.  I must work to make it better.  I must work on the spiritual level.  I must work on the cultural level.  I must work on the societal level.  If I am not willing to work on those levels, if I just want to turn my head away from what I don’t like, that is not love I am showing, it is laziness.

Is what you feel for America love or laziness?  Do you love America, and the people around you enough to be part of the change, or do you only want to wish America were different?  Will you work or wish?

 

The Eyes of Homeschool

Last week we started a study on eyes.  The lesson we were using wanted us to make a paper eye.  “I” decided that was not good enough for Cole Academy…I found a place that sells dissecting materials and order three cow eyeballs and a dissecting kit.

The brown box of awesomeness arrived Friday Night…the dissection was scheduled for Monday night.

And hubby was brought into the action.  He led the dissection.  I took pictures.  A perfect duo.  Frazier oversaw the whole operation.

Hubby talked them through the parts of the eyeball and taught them dissection safety.

Sue was particularly excited.

And the dissection began.

And then time for the review.

Filling in each and every part they had seen for themselves on the worksheet.

There was even a lesson on how the Iris opens and closes in response to light (but it was too dark for pictures).

Hubby has been hired as our dissection teacher.  He has already asked for a raise.  I promised to give him triple the nothing I get paid…Seems fair.

It was a great time of letting the girls “see” hands-on how they “see.”

 

Just a Loss

A half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  I want to run that.  All of that.  I am afraid that might be a pie in the sky goal.  I have been running consistently and often.  I push and push but it takes all I have to eke out 3.1 miles on the treadmill.  That is a far cry from the 13.1 I need to make running a half-marathon a reality.

I almost gave up yesterday.  I literally sat and cried after not being able to push myself past the 3.1.  I came darn close to writing off the money I paid for the half and just realized I am not that strong, that I am the weak person I was always told I was.  The ladies in my fitness group rallied around me and gave me a lot to think about–running every step, walking and running, being a little easier on myself.

Got a smile after a run no matter how good or bad it is.

This morning I talked to my hubby and talked about how much I really want to run it.  We decided we need to get me off the treadmill and outside running more (as much as winter will cooperate), so today, right after church, I layered up and set out.  I did 4 miles running with an average pace of 13 minutes, 47 seconds per mile.  That’s slow compared to some, but a pretty awesome run for me.  My legs are short, I have just started pushing my pace in the last two weeks.

Running today felt a lot better than yesterday.

The Bipolar has been a jerk the last few weeks…and then this week there seemed to be hope.  I was talking to people, I was going places without feeling panicky.  I thought church today would be easy.  Last week I couldn’t bear to go into our Sunday School.  Today, I waltzed right in, I talked too much, it seemed to go well.

So on to church.

The panic hit as we got into the main part of the church.  We were having to go so far forward.  The row we ended up in had people at both ends.  I wouldn’t be able to get out.  I grabbed my hubby’s hand as we sang, but all the sudden it was too much.  I grabbed my purse and ran out of there.  My wonderful hubby followed me.  We sat out in the foyer area and listened from there (the church projects the sermon out there).  But the panic kept building and building, so I took a Xanax for the anxiety.  We were sitting in an open area so I thought I would be safe to not fall asleep.  To my great embarrassment, I was wrong.  I fell asleep.  I tried so hard and it was just a loss.

Bipolar is such a jerk.  I hate it so much.  Why won’t it just leave me alone?  I just want to breathe, I just want to go about my life.  And I am stuck, being a big loser.

Check it Out

I had the privilege yesterday of sharing my thoughts about Bipolar Disorder and homeschooling over at Midlife Boulevard.  I talk about how I balance the two, how my girls contribute to making it work, and what the struggles are.  Please check it out.

Homeschooling and Bipolar Disorder.

A Bit of a Political Post

I originally blogged about this a couple weeks ago, but when my blog was hacked this is the one post they deleted.  I am trying to re-corral my thoughts here.

I have watched a frustrating and disturbing thing happen over the days since Betsy DeVos was confirmed as the Education Secretary.  I have seen many people on Facebook declaring that they are “just” going to homeschool now.  I have seen others say “that’s why I homeschool.”  Both of those do a disservice to those who homeschool or have their children in a traditional educational setting.

“I’m just going to homeschool.”

Well, you could.  It is an option, but saying that flippantly does a disservice to those who homeschool.  Homeschoolers, just like parents who have chosen any educational option, have done so for a myriad of reasons.  I have not met a single homeschooler who has chosen to do so for just one reason.  Nothing is ever that simple.

Nor is homeschooling as easy as one day waking up and taking your child out of a traditional education setting.  Homeschoolers pour a lot of themselves, their time, and their resources into teaching their children.  We work very hard to choose the materials we will use, how we will structure our day, how we will instruct each subject, each child.

Sue is working on a Science worksheet, Patrice is telling me something…

Making the decision to homeschool is not easy.  The actual process of homeschooling is not easy.  It is not a thought or idea to be thrown around lightly.  It is deserving of much thought and consideration before it is undertaken.

“That’s why I homeschool.”

Really?  That’s why you homeschool?  Just so you don’t have to deal with public policy?

That is extremely short-sighted.

As I stated above, people homeschool for a myriad of reasons.  It is never as simple as just one factor.  And any homeschoolers that claim there is just one reason is misleading those around them.  Let me walk you through why our family has chosen to homeschool:  we want to have the flexibility of homeschooling, we have concerns about bullying in the schools in our area, we have experienced deficits in the education of our daughters, and we want their education to have a more Biblical approach.  I am sure there are some that I am missing, but you see my point, there are many, many reasons we homeschool.

I believe very strongly that all homeschoolers choose this educational lifestyle for a number of reasons.  Saying it is just for one, is not being honest or considering the whole picture.

Being a homeschooler does not free us from all oversight at the local, state and national levels.  While states vary widely in their homeschooling requirements and oversight, decisions undertaken at all levels of government have the possibility of changing how we can oversee how we educate our children.  The Secretary of Education has influence on all education within our nation and it is very possible decisions she makes will affect our rights and freedoms as homeschoolers.  When we choose to homeschool, we are not completely walking away from the educational system in our country; those who think they can do so are ignoring reality and the impact it has on the life we lead.

Education is not an us against them endeavor, no matter what type of schooling your child(ren) is getting.  Just as in so much of life, it is something to be done together, promoting respect and cooperation.

 

Pull Up A Chair

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

Pull up a chair, we’ll have tea, and I’ll tell you how things are going.

I still feel light as air, most of the time.  My mind stays quite quiet, most of the time.

I’d like to end the story there, but I’ve been living a lie and I think it is time to tell the truth.

I am not living on easy street.  My mind is still playing games and causing me to struggle.  A couple weeks ago it started with waves of anxiety.  One after another slamming against me, taking my breath away, and knocking me off balance.

Wave after wave.

My mind has gotten frantic.  Harder and harder control.  I am working hard to channel it.  I am working out daily, all through the day.  I am taking all of my meds as prescribed.  I have an appointment with my doctor, the earliest he could get me in.

Just a few weeks ago, I sat calmly in my doctors’ office, all going well.  He said I could wait 3 months to come back…the longest since my mental health issues started over 6 years ago.  I was so excited.

Then the mania came.  Wave after wave.  I found myself in tears while folding the clean towels because I could not fold them even faster.  Then I was at my computer shaking because my fingers could not keep up with my thoughts.  I spent the next week bouncing from mania to depression, all over the map.

This is not the first time I have been through this.  Bipolar has sent me struggling many times, but somehow I always forget how to cope.  I always forget what I need to do to get through the struggle.  One of these times, I have got to take notes on how survival works.

If you ask me how to get through, I can’t tell you, but I must know, because here I am and this morning is better than yesterday morning.  So, I’ll just keep breathing and praying and moving til I get through this Bipolar round.

Thank you for sitting with me.  Thank you for listening to me and how I am doing.  You are part of my team that helps me survive.  Thank you.

One Hundred Days!!!

We are 100 days smarter…well the girls are, I’m not so sure about me…

Today was our day to have fun with the 100th day of school.

We did writing activities, decorated hats, and made a paper chain.

HAPPY 100th DAY!!

 

When Your Legs Don’t Work Like They Used to Before

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This song is in my running playlist.  It gets me every.single.time.  Because it IS in my RUNNING playlist.

I was not a strong, healthy child.  I was not coordinated.  I was not tough or competitive.  I was not encouraged to become any of those things.  Then, at the age of 15, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).  Walking became a day-to-day question.  I landed in a wheelchair.  All those words spoken about how I couldn’t do things seemed to be spot on.  I couldn’t do anything.

Then a true miracle happened just over 11 years ago.  I went into remission from the MS.  I have now been in remission from the MS almost as long as I dealt with active disease.  Remission.  That is a beautiful word.

Medical Definition of remission. : a state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated <cancer in remission after treatment>—compare arrest, cure 1, intermission. (Mirriam-Webster  Dictionary)

A state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated.  In the midst of having babies, working, keeping up with life, I almost didn’t notice the remission.  It was just there and I almost took it for granted.

Then, after Sue was born, I started exercising and running.  All the sudden the value of remission and what it really meant, and was, hit me.  Here I was, the girl who wasn’t even supposed to be able to keep up with a household without bringing in help, according to the doctors, past her 20s, was in actuality, working, raising two kids, kind of keeping up with a house (as much as I ever had), and now, learning how to run.

Running.  Me running.  The girl who had always been told she couldn’t do things.  That she wasn’t strong enough for what other kids did, running.

Every step I take, whether it is fast or just barely moving, I do to the glory of God.  He is the one who saw fit to give me back my balance, to give me back my strength, to give me back my legs, to give me back so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us

He has given me so much.  And I am thankful for all of it.  And now I am dreaming big.  I am dreaming of picking up my pace so I can run with some other ladies in a relay (me??) and even bigger yet, I am dreaming of running a 1/2 marathon in September.  I have even gone so far as to register for the race.  I have put my money where my mouth is and in 245 days I will put my feet where my heart never dreamed they would be.

It’s a long journey, getting from those first running steps with the Wii fit until today, but today found me braving the elements like a good Michigander and getting in a few miles.  I had to do some tiptoeing through ice, but it felt great to be outside.

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