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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Do Not Mistake My Silence for Apathy

A few weeks ago I was trying to come up with subject matter for this blog - because while I want to get back into the habit of writing again, I can't always come up with something to say (which I know is a shocker to anyone who really knows me).

My only restriction was no politics.

Someone asked me - why no politics?

And I never answered - until now.

Until recently, I was never interested in the political scene. To me, it was a bunch of idiotic blowhards spewing out whatever they felt that John Q. Public needed to hear - and for the most part, that's exactly what it was.

As an adult, I slowly started paying more attention, but it still wasn't a major part of my life. When I started dating The Dude, I got into it a little more - but it's hard not to when you fall in love with a conspiracy theorist who lives and breathes politics. I started learning a little bit more to either figure out if he was actually mouthing off about something that could possibly be true, or to prove him wrong.

But realistically, even he and I don't talk politics much. We agree on some things, disagree on others, refuse to discuss some, and generally go about our lives while trying to do our parts to make the world a better place.

Given the current political climate in this country, it's hard not to discuss it. Take a 5 second look at Facebook and you'll see more than your share of posts supporting one person while disparaging another, outright bashing anyone who doesn't follow similar beliefs, memes trashing one group of people or another, "statistics" supporting/disproving whatever the current hot topic is, and just hate. So much hate.

Never has this country been more divided than it is right now, and social media is a huge contributor to that.

People who have always preached love and acceptance are lumping everyone together - Democrat or Republican, left or right, liberal or conservative, Trump or Clinton or Obama, veteran or refugee, protester or sheeple, pro-life or pro-choice, non-religious or religious, LGBTQ/ally or anti-equal rights - you name it, there's a category for it. But what people are not realizing is that not everyone fits into one single category. There is not one all-inclusive label that works for everyone.

Everyone is so busy screaming and yelling over everyone else that no one is listening. No one can hear anything over the noise.

Everyone has to prove that their meme, their statistic, their quote, their cause - applies to everyone.

Everyone seems to forget that one of the things that makes this country great is that everyone has the right to their own beliefs - and it's ok to have different beliefs than your neighbor does.

It's not ok to force your beliefs down someone else's throat, no matter how strongly you believe them.

It's not ok to bash someone for not believing as you do.

It's not ok to spread hate.

It's not ok to yell at people and tell them IF YOU'RE NOT SAYING ANYTHING, THEN YOU'RE A PART OF THE PROBLEM.

If you've said this, then let me say this -

You're wrong.

I choose not to say anything not because I am content with what is happening, because I'm not.

I choose not to say anything because if I admit that until now, I've had zero interest in politics and I am just starting to figure it all out, you'll bash me for being uneducated.

I choose not to say anything because I'm struggling to listen to everything that everyone else is saying so that I can do my own research to learn the details and clarify my own position before I have to defend it to you.

I choose not to say anything because I know that no matter what, someone is going to scream at me and tell me that I'm wrong and not give me a chance to explain why I feel the way that I do.

I choose not to say anything because I don't want to fight with you.

I choose not to say anything because I'm tired of hate.

I'm tired of anger.

I'm tired of fighting.

I'm tired of our differences pulling us apart, instead of our similarities uniting us.

Now - more than ever - is the time to lift each other up in spite of our differences.

Sometimes you have to be silent in order to listen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

On birthdays and life....

I don't know if I've ever really gone into Alex's story before....

My divorce from Ex1 had been final for several months when I met Alex's father. We were introduced by a mutual friend at a bar one night - I was being hit on by a really skanky guy (oh my hell was he skanky) and a friend of mine was the bartender. She came out from around the bar, grabbed me, shoved me into this group of guys and said "this is my friend - take care of her" and then went back to her post. As it turned out, one of the guys in this group was her cousin.

Long story short, we started dating. One thing led to another, and boom - I was pregnant.

As soon as I told him the news, he "needed space".

I was at work one night when I started having sharp pains in the left side of my abdomen. I tried to ignore them, but they got more and more intense as the night progressed. When my relief showed up at midnight, I split and drove myself to the hospital as fast as I could. I was only about 7 weeks along, so I hadn't actually seen my OB/GYN yet, but I knew something was wrong. I got to the ER, went through the preliminary BS, and could tell from the looks of the nurses' faces that it was bad. So I called him.

He showed up. But that was about it. I was in a panic, knowing that I was going to lose the baby. After hours of testing, the ER doctor informed me that I had a sub-chorionic hemorrhage and I was more than likely going to lose the baby. I never felt so alone in my life, even though my baby's father was in the room with me.

I was eventually sent home and told to schedule a follow up with my OB/GYN. As I sat in his office and he told me that I had less than a 50% chance of carrying this baby to term, I freaked. I knew that realistically, my life was a mess. I was a newly single mother with 3 very young kids, and the last thing that I needed was another one, but suddenly I knew that no matter what, I wanted this baby to make it. I didn't look to this baby as a way to get his/her father back into my life, but I looked to it as another reason for me to live.

I was in such a deep, dark hole at the time that I didn't know where to turn. I knew that if something happened to me, my 3 kids could go and live with their father and everything would be fine. But this baby - this little being who only had me to count on - I knew that he/she only had me. And that thought kept me going. This baby gave me a reason to be strong and to do what needed to be done.

When I found out just a few weeks later that this baby was going to have a sibling who would only be a few weeks younger than he was - I didn't have a very kind reaction. In fact, I was downright hateful, nasty, and mean. Realistically, those reactions did nothing to benefit me. I knew that I was going to be raising this baby on my own - and finding out that there was another woman pregnant by the same man at the same time did nothing but cement the fact that I was truly on my own at this point.

At one point during the pregnancy, Ex1 actually took me to court to try to gain full custody of the older 3 kids. He used the reasoning that my previous pregnancies had been so hard on me (they hadn't) that an unplanned one would just be too much stress and the kids would be better off with him than they were with me. Luckily, I made it through that ordeal with no changes to our custody arrangement - and it gave me more motivation to power through all of it and show just how strong I could actually be.

Alex decided to make his appearance almost 3 weeks earlier than he should have. I wasn't prepared for his arrival - even though I was already at the hospital with a sick kid when I went into labor. But his birth showed me that no matter what, something wonderful and beautiful will always come out of the storm.

He's been challenging. He's been difficult. He's had more health issues than the other 4 kids combined. But he's the most loving, most compassionate, most loving little being on this earth - and his hugs are enough to make the worst days seem just a little bit brighter. He's had to put up with me 24/7 but at the same time he's shown me that no matter what, he still loves me - and occasionally he even likes to hang out with me. And those moments are my favorites.

Happy 11th, Alex.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's been a while...

I've been seriously neglecting this old blog of mine, and it's really been bothering me lately. But the thing is, when I think of something that I want to say I usually just spout it off in a long-winded facebook post instead of taking the time to sit down and actually write about it.

I'm hoping to change that. But like anything else, I have to make time for it to happen.

I asked for suggestions as to write about the other night, and my running seemed to be a pretty common theme - which is interesting considering that the last time I blogged anything, it was about running.

I generally don't think of my running as anything special. It's something that I started doing maybe 7 years ago, and mainly because I had people tell me that I was too fat and lazy to ever do it (no, those people are not in my life anymore). I didn't really take it seriously until about the last 2-3 years or so - and now it's something that is more important to me than I ever realized it could be.

Back in 2011, when I was just starting to get into running, I did my first half-marathon. I walked most of it, but I did it. And later that summer, I looked something like this.....

This picture actually just surfaced. The kids and I had gone on TMOART:11 (back before The Dude existed) and one of them snapped this picture of me coming down the steps from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. They were using disposable cameras, and we just got them developed the other day - so seeing this picture was a shock.

Even though I've seen numerous pictures of me in a less than stellar light, my size still shocks me at times. I never really thought that I had gained that much weight, but I had.

I don't talk about my depression much (if ever) but if I'm being totally honest, my weight gain was a direct result of it. The stress of two failed marriages, being a single mother of 5 kids, and not having any clue how I was going to pay my bills got to me. I didn't do anything to stay active, and as anyone who has ever been poor knows - crappy food is way cheaper than healthy stuff. So I ate the cheap crap and tried to feed my kids the better stuff.

Eventually, the funk started to lift. I started walking more. And then I started running a little bit. I'd walk a block, then run a block, walk a block, run a block. And then I'd walk a block and run two blocks, then three, then four. Soon, I was running more than I was walking, but I still wasn't picking up speed. But eventually, I got to the point that I started getting faster.

And then I started really enjoying the races. The adrenaline rush is like no other. And the running community is fantastic - it doesn't matter if you're the first runner or the last walker to cross the line - someone will be there waiting for you and cheering for you as you cross the finish.

One of my favorite things about running is that it doesn't have to cost a fortune. When I started, I wore my normal shorts and tshirts and cheap running shoes. I used a free app on my phone to track my distance (RunKeeper - and I still use it to this day) and I didn't even have anything to play music. I just ran.

As time went on and I started getting more into it, I did buy some specific clothes - mostly tights and compression shorts because face it  - unless you have a thigh gap, chafing is real. And it hurts. And it makes you walk funny for days until it heals. (FYI - diaper rash ointment helps. You're welcome.)

Good shoes were my next major purchase - but it still took me a while to work up the guts to pay more than $50 for a pair of sneakers. So far my favorite pair is my current pair - the Brooks Ghosts that I bought after running the Nebraska State Fair Half Marathon last fall. But I know that I'm going to need to replace them soon, and the cost of a new pair scares me. Because I'm cheap.

I did splurge this year and I bought a membership to the Y. I didn't really want to spend the money, but with the crazy Kansas weather, I need a way to train indoors. The kids can go with me and they can swim or shoot hoops or play ping pong or do whatever they want to do to keep themselves amused while I pound out some miles on the treadmill or the elliptical or whatever other torture device I decide to use that day. Emily and I have a goal right now to run every day - even if it's just a mile - and so far we've been able to stick to it (and I have this nifty calendar on my bedroom wall to track my progress toward that goal).

As of right now, I think I'm only signed up for 3 races this year - both of the Prairie Fire Half Marathons in Wichita (one in April and one in October) because those are my traditional races that I will always always do until I can't do them anymore, and the Stupid Cupid 2 mile run in Wichita that is in just a few weeks. I haven't signed up for any more yet because, let's face it - the races get expensive. There are several more that I plan to do, but they haven't opened up registration yet so I have to wait and see what happens financially between now and then.

I'm trying to work up the guts to do a full marathon, but I'm just not there yet.....

For the last couple of months of 2016, I all but gave up on running. I slipped into a downward spiral, and I struggled a lot more than I'd like to admit. I didn't do much of anything unless I had to do it for survival and I gained a bunch of weight back. It took a lot of soul-searching and willpower and sheer stubbornness to get me back out there again to do a run on New Year's Eve, but I did it. I think Emily and I did a mile. And then we set our goal to run daily. There have been days when she's had to almost literally drag me out of bed to go, but we've gone. And if she's over at her father's house she runs over there and I run here and we compare notes. Now there is a challenge going on here in our town and I'm participating in that - and so my competitive side is coming out and I'm starting to really enjoy it again. And thankfully the scale is starting to show it too.

I think that the thing that amazes me the most is that at several points in my life, I had people telling me that I was too fat and lazy to ever run - and now people tell me that I have inspired them to run.

It's really kind of surreal.