June 12, 2012

A letter to my daughters...

I know that it has been months since I've posted anything. I think in my heart I'd hoped that if I stopped sriting it all down it wouldn't be happening. G is on her way to Kindergarten in August and Lu is all grown up.... It is all going way to quickly.

I am wrapping up my third session of Body Back next week and was aked to write a letter to my daughters telling them why I am doing Body Back. I thought I would share it here....

My Dearest Grace Elizabeth and Lily Kathryn,

I am writing to you to explain why I do the crazy sweaty things I do.  I am writing so that you might understand that as much as it’s for me, it is also very much for you, my beautiful daughters. When I started my third session of Body Back a few weeks ago I was asked once again to provide a photo. I knew from past experience that this photo was meant to push me, to motivate me when I was ready to quit to push just a little bit harder.  I was supposed to look down, see this photo and realize what I am doing this for, who I am doing this for. In the past what is generally expected is a family photo. This time however I briefly entertained a bringing photo of me taken at the finish line of the Tough Mudder.  I say briefly because as soon as my brain processed the thought “Uugh, I look so gross and out of shape. I need to use this to motivate my fat ass” I was struck by an epiphany… Gross and Out of Shape? Fat Ass? I had just finished the Tough Fricking Mudder.  Not just finished but actually completed ALL but one obstacle. I had proved myself strong, determined and I had faced some real  fears head on and conquered them. Not only that , but I had fun I was with your father and I was among friends. I pushed myself, tested myself and discovered what I was made of. WHY? Why on earth was I ashamed of my body after such a monumental physical and mental victory? How many people can or even have done what I had just done? What would I say, feel or think if one of you had just done something that amazing and then tore yourself down physically right after? The thought shattered my heart…And completely changed the course of Body Back for me this time around.

I don’t go to Body Back or Stroller Strides or train for and run half marathons to be a size 4. I don’t work hard to starve myself or judge myself, my worth or my success by a number on a scale. I am so much more than that number on that silly scale. And I still and always believe that life is too short to diet. We make good choices in our house. We indulge in treats from time to time, but food is not the enemy.  Put that out of your minds right now and don’t ever let anyone tell you that it is either. Food is fuel. Fuel your body right, take care of it and you will never have to “diet” a day in your life.

Why do I go to Body Back?  I go to get stronger and faster and to push my limits… And then push past them. I go to hang medals and race bibs and orange sweat bands on the living room wall so that you’ll know if you work hard and set a goal you can do ANYTHING.  I go to show you my beautiful daughters that strength and beauty start from within and that girls can do and be anything. We can be just as strong as boys and sometimes stronger. I go because I have found sisterhood in motherhood and I want you to see healthy female relationships so that you will know how to have them when you are older. I go to get away, because as much as I love you and your daddy and I do live to be your mother and his wife, it is important to have time to just be…. Be alone, be with friends, be strong, weak, sad, happy, reflective, angry, or one with the wind, road, or sunrise/set. I go to be free and better and I go because I love you.

Never forget you are capable of so much more than you believe. You are so much stronger than you know.

"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself."
-John Bingham

With all the love in my heart,


January 25, 2012

Chasing.... { wait... scratch that } "Choosing" JOY!


I have essentially been either sick or injured since my half marathon in November. The holidays came and went and now I am staring down the barrel of my next half marathon. Yup, President's weekend I am running another half marathon. All I can say is; It sounded good at the time...

A few weeks ago I ran 6 miles and was so happy with that run that I immediately went to workout with my friends. 3 minutes into that workout I knew something was wrong. I was in that STOP this is bad kind of pain. Not the push through, gut it out, woman-up kind of pain, but this is BAD. So I listened, I rested, I iced, I foam rolled, I stretched, I took care of myself.  I didn't run again, until....

Last week. Last week was the Tough Mudder-- Forget the sprained knee, I aggravated my ITBS a few miles before I even fell from that wall and hit the ground wrong. Grrrr.... Doubt set in: I haven't trained and I am supposed to run a half marathon in a month, how am I going to do this? I cannot even get halfway through a 12.5 mile run without feeling like I might pass out from the pain. What am I thinking??

Yup. I'm a quitter..... I start lots of things I never finish.... I'm flighty.... but I am also stubborn, As. A. Mule. So, tonight I strapped on my running shoes {yes, my silly, ugly, fugly, ridiculous, mockable running shoes - and I love 'em} and I ran out the door for a traveling Body Back class. Determined to use tonight's class as a litmus test for how I'll do in next month's half marathon. The class, had me frustrated early on. I ate too heavy a meal beforehand and not only had lead in my belly but my legs felt boggy and I felt like I was running through molasses. My knee started to bother me half way through, all I could think was how tired, heavy, slow, achy I felt. Then my focus turned to my knee, was it bothering me? Was it in my head? Could I readjust? Could I change my gait, stride, pace.... Thinking....thinking...thinking....


Here's what I am walking away with from tonight's class....

Great job Shelb! You not only got one, but TWO workouts in today. The first with only one child today at Stroller Strides. Then....You were kid free {woo-hoo!!}  at Body Back for your second, with some amazing women, out in the fresh air, getting your sweat on. BRAVO Mama!  BRAVO!

The traveling class wasn't really all that brutal -- But being stuck in my head, in a negative space was. If I had just let go and stopped thinking, I might have enjoyed the class more. In retrospect, I really did have a good class, if I censor my thoughts and simply leave them on the cutting room floor,  what I did physically was pretty fabulous!

I cannot use a Body Back traveling class to determine if I can or cannot run a half marathon on too little training, pain-free. See, trying to keep up with {read: right on the heels of}  'Sound Barrier Busting Nielsen', stopping and starting, circling back, catching up, slowing down, fitting different stations in every few miles, there is simply no getting into a groove. I can never just let go, relax and run... So trying to base how I will fare in a run, off of how I did during a traveling class is a bad idea!

I can run this next half marathon. It might not be as pretty as my half in November. It might not be as fast as my half in November, and without a doubt my goal of a 2 hour or dream of a sub 2 hour half is gone.  Let it go.... Run. Walk. It doesn't matter.

Choosing Joy. Noting worth accomplishing is easy, and I did not do a great job training for this next marathon, so it truly will not be easy. Not and easy run and I am sure a difficult recovery. But in the end I will have one more bib and one more medal on my wall and one more experience with some of my favorite women and that will be well worth all the pain.

No more negative thoughts, no more fear.....it will be whatever it will be and I am still braver than those too afraid to try....

The miracle is not that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.
~John Bingham


January 15, 2012

One Tough {Mother} Mudder!






~Tough Mudder Pledge

Have you heard of the Tough Mudder?

If you have.... I AM A TOUGH MUDDER. 
Can I get an "OO-RAH!"?

If you haven't...Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie. With the most innovative courses, half a million inspiring participants, and more than $2 million dollars raised for the Wounded Warrior Project, Tough Mudder is the premier adventure challenge series in the world.

 So, What would you do for a FREE beer? 

This weekend I completed a 12.5 mile obstacle course through mud, barbed wire, over broken down, smashed up, torn and twisted cars, in, under and out of iced and freezing Gatorade pits, through half submerged drainage pipes, over hay bales, over 12 foot walls, through thick, deep, energy zapping mud {several times}, jumped {read: was pushed} off of a 15 foot platform and into a deep pit filled with icy Gatorade, around a long track carrying a sizable log {aka: railroad tie} and finally through a maze of wires some of which were live with 10,000 volts of electricity. All for a free beer... Okay, maybe for more than just the free beer.....

Why? you may ask would I do this?  Why would I volunteer to spend the better part of a Saturday in the middle of January torturing myself?  The answer is simple: Just to see if I could. and well....okay and maybe a little bit for the glory and the bragging rights. Not just the knowledge that I DID THIS but to also to say that I stared some real fears in the face and in spite of them I plowed forward and I conquered my fears. 

What fears?? Ah... Well a fear of small spaces for starters. I crawled through narrow drainage pipes that were partially submerged in muddy water. Not to mention the dirt tunnels. They looked and felt like coffins. I felt like I was going to drown and or be buried alive, but I DID IT!!

What about my fear of heights?? I have to give my hubby some serious props here. I climbed to the top of the 15 foot platform like a monkey. I raced to the top, knowing full well what was up there.  I knew before the day even started that I would have to face this obstacle. I even said going in, of all the things I would have to face today THIS would be the most difficult for me! I knew I could rely on my teammates and strangers to help me over the 12 foot walls. And when the pits were too muddy and slippery to climb out of there would be a helping hand either pushing or pulling me. But to jump off of a 15 foot platform..... this I was going to have to do on my own. OR SO I THOUGHT....

I raced to the top. My thought process: Just get up there and go. DON'T THINK, just go! Easier said than done. I got to the top, raced to the edge and in my head I was yelling "GERONIMO!!" but.... my gut got the best of me and I stopped short of the edge. This is when my silent GERONIMO became a loud and adamant "NO! NO! NO! NO!" I backed away from the edge, bumping right into my Hubby. Ever supportive, he stood with me for a minute as we watched a few people effortlessly and thoughtlessly, some even gleefully leap from the edge and plunge the 15 feet {that looked a hell of a lot more like 15 yards to me!!} into the icy green Gatorade below. Clearly my Hubby knows me well and was keenly aware that if he let me stand up there any longer it would become a BIG problem. SO... he grabbed my hand and said "Let's Go Babe!" and before I knew what was happening my stomach was in my throat and I was dropping  {and screaming}  "Ahhhhhhhhhhh........" and then SPLASH! I hit the water...or Gatorade....or whatever. All I know is that the entire 25 yards I had to swim from my splash point to the cargo net exit all I could think was "I hate heights! I hate heights! I hate heights!" and did scream out "I F*cking Hate Heights!!!!!" upon exiting the water. It's only now that I can truly appreciate that I stared a big and real fear in the face and jumped {sort of} anyway! Truth-be-told... if my Hubby had not grabbed my hand I would STILL be standing atop that damn platform shuffling back and forth, to and away from the edge.  Either way, on my own or with a little help.... I DID IT!

There truly are no photographs that will ever do this obstacle justice - at least not in my opinion, but these are close......And while I know these pictures make the water look like just muddy water you must trust me when I say it was electric green!

So how did this all come about?  The woman who owns my Stroller Strides franchise and her husband decided that they wanted to do the Tough Mudder several months ago. It sounded like an amazing challenge and frankly, really fun. So my husband and I, along with a handful of other Mamas I know and their hubbys jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for the Tough Mudder!!  As the months went by, the butterflies, injuries and doubt started to set in and on race day there were a grand total of 6 of us left. My franchise owner and her hubby, my BFF, training and half marathon running partner, Kelly and her hubby, my Hub-bub and me!!

Here's  a glimpse at how our day went. . .

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Please tell me HOW you could feel sorry for yourself, or even give up, when you see this on the course? One of our Wounded Warriors kicking ass and taking names! SUCH AN INSPIRATION!! Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

I re-injured a bad knee about half way through the 12.5 mile course and as the miles wore on I was less and less able to run. By mile 9 running was agony and by mile 11 I could no longer bend my knee and walking was torture but I had gone that far, I had completed EVERY obstacle to that point. My goal going in was to 'try' everything and if I absolutely could not do it I would go around, no shame as long as I gave it my best shot. With the exception on the 15 foot plunge I didn't shy away from a single obstacle. Until we hit the half pipe. A crowded, muddy, steep, looming, wall that looked as big as Mt Everest. Especially after 12 miles of mud and obstacles, even more so with a knee that was screaming and with every muscle in my body sore and spent.  Kelly's hubby was the first up. He made it look almost easy. Behind us I heard Our Team Captain Kelly cheering us on. She'd finished the course and had come back to find us and cheer us on to the Finish. My hubby was next and after a failed attempt was finally hoisted to the top. Kelly and I stood there at the bottom, hand in hand, beaten and battered and exhausted. We both agreed that we could not go around this obstacle without trying. We both took 3 attempts. On my third attempt I touched Kelly's husband's finger tips. I was 'almost' there, but I'd exhausted the very last of my energy. I was DONE.  I still had two more obstacles to go before the finish line and I had to concede the obstacle. It still haunts me a bit today. I wish I could have given it one more try.... I just had nothing left.

The monkey bars were laughable. I think Kelly and I made it 3 bars in before we both found ourselves swimming chest deep in more freezing cold Gatorade.  The final test was Tough Mudder's signature obstacle- "Electroshock Therapy"- Okay now tell me, who knowingly charges through a maze of dangling wires, some of which are live with 10,000 volts of electricity?  Well.... Tough Mudders do, that's who! Now mind you I stood in line, shivering, exhausted, muddy and watched grown men balk at people swimming through vs. running through, then take one step have their knees buckle causing them to drop face first into the mud, twitching. Only to come around and need to ask "What happened?!" What? it sounded like a bug zapper when you got hit and you blacked out? No Thank You!" So I swam, gator style, under and around and through the maze. Granted I did not get zapped. I managed to avoid all electricity during my Tough Mudder but I did get stepped on, and kicked and took a huge faceful of mud when one of the 'tough guys' dropped like a ton of bricks next to me.  My poor hubby took one step in and got hit with 10,000 volts. Not an experience I am jealous of one bit!

I did it! I survived. I completed 99% of the 12.5 miles British Special Forces designed, extreme, insane, obstacle course. I am so proud. I am sore.... I am bruised in places that cannot be photographed and shared publicly. My knee spent the better part of 24 hours swollen up to an elephant's size. It hurts to cough, laugh, move, walk, stand, sit or lay down, but it was totally, 100%, without a doubt worth it. I truly loved every minute of the experience. Even when I was scared out of my skull or in agony, I loved it!  My favorite part of the course was anything muddy. I loved all of the mud obstacles. So.Much.Fun!!! My favorite part of the day, the camaraderie. Helping strangers, being helped by strangers and my gruesome foursome of Kelly, Ben, Hubby and me. We stuck together through thick and thin. There were tears, and laughs, and so many bonding exeriences.  We made it through every obstacle together and I owe them everything! 

Will I do it again? I really think I could, or would, but it would have to be with the right team.  I am not sure my teammates would ever choose to do this again, although it's clear that none of them regret signing up or the experience.... I don't know.... For me it was....Empowering!
Our entire team
{The Bedraggled Posse}
right after we crossed the finish line and were handed the
BEST TASTING BEER I have ever had in my life! 
When is the last time you truly earned a beer??

And our Gruesome Foursome....


"When Life Get's Muddy, You Get Tough My Friend!"
~Doug Grady

The best recap of Tough Mudder I've heard yet!
The {unofficial} Tough Mudder Song

A MUST HEAR if you really want to know how I felt This past Saturday! 


January 4, 2012

Starting 2012 with fingers { and eyes } crossed...

Three weeks ago I encountered my first heart stopping, breath stealing, sleep depriving Mommy moment. Surely at the end of this you might think Gigi gets her "Drama Queen-ness" from me, but.... it hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn't breathe.

Wednesday December 14, 2011

I am standing in the kitchen doing God only knows what when an excited Lula jumps up from the living room and races to the kitchen to tell me something.  As she runs wide eyed at me I am completely oblivious to what she is trying to tell me because I am fixated on her cross-eyed stare.

"Lula, don't cross your eyes... Ok. What were you saying?"

She says whatever it was again, we laugh... or not. I don't remember. . . but I do remember not giving the cross-eyed look another thought, at least not for another hour or so. A few other occasions throughout the day I find myself wondering "Did she? Maybe? Just cross her eyes while talking to me?"  But it's subtle and I am not sure if I am really seeing it or if it's just the way she is looking at me. . . or me her. When Hubby gets home from work and I casually mention it to him, he spends a few minutes talking to her about her day and determines that I am seeing things.  She may have intentionally crossed her eyes earlier in the day but now that I am fixating on it I am seeing things. I feel like I might actually agree with him and start to put it out of my mind.

That night at dinner Hubby clears his throat loudly to get my attention and with a puzzled look on his face mouths to me "I just saw it." Now we are both on high alert trying to get her to stare us in the face and see if we can determine for certain that we are both seeing things.  Both of us are now thinking it's not so much that she is going cross-eyed, as 'maybe' it's just her right eye that is going "cross-eyed". . . The rest of the night goes on with both of thinking. . .maybe. . . I might have. . . that could have been. . .I'm not sure...

Thursday December 15, 2011

We wake up, have breakfast, get dressed, drop Gigi at school and all seems fine. Until Lula and I are in the grocery store. For some reason she doesn't argue when I ask her to sit in the shopping cart, not in the basket itself, but up top in the child seat facing me so we can visit while we shop. This never happens. This is when I realize I am not crazy. While we were shopping her right eye, clearly, blatantly wandered to her nose, causing her to look cross-eyed, twice. So, from the parking lot of the grocery store I call her pediatrician, refuse to speak with anyone but her doctor's nurse or to schedule an appointment with anyone other than our pediatrician. . . I make an appointment with him for the very next morning.

For the rest of the day Hubby and I try very hard to convince ourselves that we are just now seeing it because it's all we are thinking about. But....wondering how we could miss something like this, we go back and look through a few months of photos trying to find proof of this wander in any of her photos.... Nothing. We are now sure this is a new issue.

Friday December 16, 2011

In the pediatrician's office I spill my concerns, try to get the point across that this is *new*. . . that I have a family history of similar a eye issue that ultimately lead my family member to a permamant loss of vision in the weak eye. . . All while trying very hard not to be "that mom" . . .but how can I not be.... Something is clearly wrong. My baby with the stunning hazle eyes has something going on with those stunning hazle eyes and this is not one of those "just rub some dirt on it" mommy moments for me.... This is not okay.... this is not okay.... this is... someone needs to fix this... make this better.... tell me that they can waive a magic wand and she's going to be her perfect little self again right now

Thanks to a level headed hubby {because I was clearly taking the 'give me some answers and FIX MY BABY NOW!!' roll} along with a pediatrician that I truly trust my children's life with, my fears were somewhat assuaged and we left his office feeling like this was not permanant, not a vision threatening issue and while we needed to see a pediatric opthamologist we{she}was going to be fine.

Feeling much, but not completely better, I called the Opthamologist as soon as we got home.
January 12th, 2012?!?!
Could I wait that long?
Should I wait that long??
Hubby wanted to take our Doc up on his offer to "pull some strings" if we could not get an appointment right away, but still trying not to be "that mother" I reminded Hubby {and myself} that the holiday was next week and... well January 12th didn't seem like an unreasonable wait.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday we feel like it was getting worse. Not only was it more obvious but it was happening all the time. This rapid progression was quickly eroding my feeling of "it's going to be okay"

Tuesday December 20, 2011

By Tuesday afternoon I cannot take it anymore.  I am once again at the This is not okay. . . this is not okay. . . this is. . . Someone fix my baby now!!!! stage. Convinced that if I share this progression with our pediatrician and he once again assures me that all is okay and waiting until January 12th is not going to be a problem, then I will be able to get through the holidays without having a complete nervous breakdown.  The next thing I know I am getting a call back from the doctor stating that the Opthamologist he initially referred us to - the one that everyone I know that has any experience with her, including medical professionals rave about her - is on vacation and that is why she is not available until January 12th, but we have an appointment with another Pediatric Opthamologist at 8am the next morning.

Wednesday December 21, 2012

We spend well over an hour with this Opthamologist's P.A. and then the doctor himself. They run a number of tests and assure hubby and me that we are not crazy, nor are we over reacting that Lula in fact has something going on that is causing her eye to wander. She has been straining to focus both eyes for a period of time and over time one of the muscles in her right eye has weakened and is what is causing her cross eyed look. We are given all the information about her apparently common condition and told this issue can be corrected and there are a few different things that can be done with a final, last ditch effort being surgery.

Now I am asking myself; What is the appropriate reaction here? Relief? Fear? What? I am thrilled that I am not crazy. I appreciated hearing that we did the right thing in reacting to this with a sense of urgency -That action does need to be taken before permamant damage is done. That I am not "that mother". That some parents 'wait and see' or only seem to notice the eye wander in photographs and because of that they do nothing, or at least not right away; But the earlier it's caught and the sooner it's treated the more likely it is to not only be corrected but the less likely it is that the brain will decide that the eye is a problem and stop using it, causing permanant vision damage. Okay. . . so 'relieved' to hear that we've done right. "Yay!" - 'Relieved' to hear there is a plan of action and there is likely going to be a "fix". But surgery? Yes. . . that is a last ditch effort plan, but.... That's my baby. Those are her eyes.... Pushing that to the back burner where is belongs and crossing my fingers.

So... Glasses.

Wait, what?

This is the child that I cannot get her to keep barrettes in her hair for more than 5 minutes! This is the child that would rather push and blow and hold her hair out of her face with her hand than use a small clip to keep her face hair free. If she needs to wear glasses to relax her eyes, to stop the crossing, to strengthen the weakend eye, to fix the problem.... HOW am I going to do that?  Super-glue them to her face???

We made it through the holidays. Her eye got a little worse. Lula started to make little adjustments to make it better. She would wink, and squint and cover her right eye and tilt her head to see. All of this breaking my heart. She was already figuring out how to get along without using her right eye. Hurry glasses, hurry!!

Wednesday January 4, 2012

We picked up Lu's glasses this morning. They are... well they're not good, BUT. . . she is so darn cute that I think she could pull just about anything off and make it work!  I am feeling pretty good about them so far, She has not offered up much resistence to wearing them. She has asked a few times to have them adjusted but other than that she's kept them on. As far as I can tell they seem to be making it a little better, but then again I could just be telling myself that.... Time will tell.

I've kept our January 12th appointment with the Pediatric Opthamologist that everyone raves about. It's not that I am hoping for a different diagnosis or treatment plan, in fact I think I am, deep down hoping that she says the exact same thing; It's just that if I have to see a Pediatric Opthamologist as often as it seems Lula will need to for the next 10+ years.... I would like it to be someone that we are really comfortable with. Can't hurt to get a second opinion and meet another doctor. Right?

I feel better than I did three weeks ago. I can breathe again, but my heart still aches for my poor baby. I don't want her to have to do any of this. I don't want her to "have to" wear her glasses, or possibly wear a patch, or maybe even go through surgery and I certainly do not want her to have a weak eye.. She's my baby....I know she's going to be fine no matter what. She's tough....But I am certain that she and I would both prefer to be on the other side of this sooner rather than later.

Like I said... they're not good... But she is so damn cute I am positive she could make a burlap sack adorable!

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