30 March 2010


I love running.

I know, that probably sounds weird.

But I do, I love running. I forgot that for awhile, but I finally, FINALLY, just remembered. And man, did it feel good.

Last fall, I ran a half marathon, my second, and really enjoyed it. I felt great the whole way, which was a substantial improvement over how I felt during my first half marathon, which felt like hell on earth. Why I did it again, I'm not sure, but the second time around was much, much better.

Which got me thinking. Because I am who I am, accomplishing a goal is fantastic. And then, I start looking for the next mountain to climb. So, I ran a couple of half marathons, along with a variety of other, shorter races, improving the experience along the way, and it got me thinking, what's next? And the only logical answer to that question is, a full marathon. The thing I said I'd never do.

Let this be a lesson in saying "never."

Because now I'm seriously considering my first marathon this year. In my head, I've already committed to it, but out loud, not so much yet. I have it on good authority that there is a race every October, held in Columbus, which is just a hop, skip and a jump up the road, and also where I grew up and where most of my family still lives. This marathon is alleged to be a flat course, and a well organized event that makes a really good first marathon. And, I have a milestone birthday coming up in October. What better way to commemorate a big milestone birthday, than trying not to collapse after voluntarily running for 26.2 miles?

Running is a mental game, and my mind can talk me into, or out of, a lot of things. So I'm already psyching myself up and and psyching myself out. Speaking of psych issues, running is wonderful therapy. And I'm really in need of some lately. I recently lost someone who was close to me, suddenly and violently. I've got some dealing to do, and putting miles on expensive shoes with TobyMac and the Newsboys blaring in my ears is a pretty decent start.

So I went out today, in the glorious sunshine, for my first run in about six months. And man, did it feel good.

25 March 2010

Coffee, glorious coffee

I love coffee. Love. It.

I talked to a friend the other day who mentioned that she had given up coffee for Lent, and I recoiled in genuine horror. Seriously?! She's a much better woman (and Catholic) than I. I mean, I get that giving something up for Lent is supposed to be hard, a true sacrifice, but wow. That takes it to another level. I was truly impressed. Please, God, don't ask me to give up coffee next year.

Go ahead and laugh, but one of the my Lenten promises was to give up impulse and emotional shopping. Yeah, it's a crutch for me. Who doesn't love a shiny new lip gloss when you're having a bad day? Or maybe taking 15 extra minutes to cruise the sale rack at Target, just because I deserve a little pick me up? I've worked hard, dangit! I should treat myself to a little something.

Hello, my name is Julie, and I'm a shopaholic. It's been two weeks since my last confession.

Anyway, I digress. I have not been sleeping so well lately, due partly to stress, and due partly to I don't know what, but I can't seem to stay asleep at night. I fall asleep fairly easily, but staying asleep....not so much. So my first inclination was to stop drinking coffee after about 2-3pm. So far, it's not helping a whole lot. I really don't want to take anything medicinal, like Benadryl (always works so well with my kids!) or Tylenol PM or even something like Ambien or Lunesta. But lacking solid sleep at night, I get up each morning to worship at the altar of Mr. Coffee.

I wonder if it matters that, since I've cut back on caffeine later in the day, that I've upped my morning intake by, oh, about three times. I never was very good at math.

A mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do, to stay awake and semi-coherent till bedtime, right?

18 March 2010


Doesn't happen to me very often. I always have something to say, an opinion, a wisecrack, a comment.

I've logged in several times to post and find that I am.....speechless.

I posted a little while back about the bubble I live in, a small midwestern town that is not entirely sure if it is a suburb of a larger city or still a farming community. Where people know each other and kids grow up together and parents watch out for any child, whether it's their kid or not. It's one of those towns where nothing bad happens.

Except last week, it did.

The bubble was burst, the peace shattered. It's hard to even think the words, let alone type or say them out loud. How do you explain to your kids that they are safe, and you will take care of them, when you yourself don't feel safe? How do you tell a child who just lost his mother, in a horrific manner, that he is loved and protected and safe? Said child is practically one of my children, having been best friends with my oldest man-cub almost since birth, literally. He looked at me with confused eyes and said, "Who's going to be my mom now?" and it ripped my heart out. Because I don't have an answer for him. No matter what happens or who is in and out of his life, she. Was. His. Mother. She's not replaceable. Not to him.

He has many people, family members and friends, surrounding him and loving him and who would do anything to take care of him. He'll be ok. But he doesn't know that yet.

And his little brother, who witnessed things most of us only ever see in movies...I worry about him. He is also surrounded by people who love him and who will do their very best to take care of him. He'll also be ok. But he doesn't know it yet either.

I have come to see that food = love. People have been bringing food, driving by and throwing mountains of food at us. People bring food when something good happens and they bring it when something bad happens. No matter what is going on, you still gotta eat. Food is comfort. Food = love.

No one ever saw it coming. She was a good person with a good heart, and she was doing the best she knew how to do, and she didn't deserve it. She was my friend. I'm sad for the senseless loss. I'm sad that her boys have to finish growing up without her. I'll get angry eventually, I know. But I'm not even angry at him. It scared me, that he'd been to my house, MY HOUSE, a million times. I never even heard him raise his voice.

Mostly I'm just sad. I have people surrounding me who love me and who want to help, somehow. And I'll be ok.

But I don't know that yet.

07 March 2010


That hopefully-not-permanently-broken-but-damaged-nonetheless relationship I was mourning a few posts back?

Yeah, broken. Hopefully not forever, but that's not my call.

It's my stepdaughter. I don't know how to fix it. I have done everything I know how to do, and she's chosen to move out and walk away. Not only that, she didn't tell us herself. She asked her mom to email her dad (my hubs) and tell him that she didn't want to live with us anymore, and she'd be coming to get her stuff.....sometime.

She's 25. There are a lot of issues. Mostly the fact that she simply needs to grow up, and she needs to stop being let off the hook. Her parents need to stop enabling childlike behavior and give her a push, out of the nest to go fly. There's more, but that is a lot of it right there.

She's 25 and living in my house (well, she was living in my house), and she played the "You're not my mother" card on me, because I dared to call her on some behavior that I didn't like. Perfectly within my rights to do. But that was almost six weeks ago, and since then, she has yet to acknowledge my efforts to communicate, let alone acknowledge my continued existence.

I think she fully means to cut me out completely. In fact, I believe she already has. What is really killing me, is that by doing that, she's cutting her little brothers out too. And they don't deserve it. They adore her and worship the ground she walks on, and she simply cut them off. Because she's mad at me. They don't understand why she isn't coming back and why she doesn't want to see them.

It's sad, really. I don't like it. At all. But I can't control her, or how she feels, or influence the situation. It's like I already ceased to exist for her. And I don't think she will talk to me, for a long time, if ever. She's really good at the silent treatment. I've let her know I am here and I want to be her friend, six ways to Sunday. But you can't make someone like you, or want to be your friend. I keep learning this, over and over.

Giving it up to God and entrusting her to His care. Can't do much else. Hope with me, though, that she finds what she is looking for. She has a choice, and only she can make it: sit in her room and sulk because life hasn't turned out quite like she'd hoped so far, or she can play the hand she's got. It's kind of the same choice we all have, when you think about it.

I hope she decides to live her life instead of letting life happen to her. Peace be with you, L.

01 March 2010

Does denomination matter?

I'm Catholic. I'll just start with that. I wasn't raised in the faith but I converted in my teen years.

I live in this wonderful little bubble of a small mid-western town, where I'm friends with the parents of my kids' friends, and for the most part we all go to the same church and school. Yeah, school and church are the same building....not necessarily the same thing, but the same building. We all play sports, celebrate baptisms and birthdays, do room mom duties, take Communion and watch our kids take their First Communion in the same place, with roughly the same group of people. It's a wonderful, safe, happy, little bubble we live in. I like my bubble. What's not to love? A tight-knit community of believers who you know will look out for your children when you aren't there? Who will run your kid to soccer practice or who will come and tell you when your kid is the instigator of bad language that is being used on the playground at recess? I don't particularly care for Hillary Clinton, but this is my "village."

Which is why it's so strange to me, to run across people who don't like my bubble. Or, more specifically, who don't like my faith. And say so.

It's Lent. Which means fasting and giving things up, or adding in extra prayer time or service to the needy in some way, all in an effort to prepare our hearts for the resurrection of Christ. His sacrifice was so much greater than any that we could ever give, but this is our human way of walking with Him, during this time. It's the 40 days He spent in the desert, being tempted by Satan and fasting. So it seems appropriate that we should spend 40 days being tempted by worldly desires and fasting, in our effort to walk with Him, yes?

I am part of an online community of believers, of which Catholic believers make up a teenytiny percentage, judging from the tone and the content of other users' comments. So the question was posed today, "What are your thoughts on taking the month of March for fasting from something or giving something up to prepare our hearts for Christ's resurrection?" Most people mentioned things they wanted to give up or things they wanted to change in their lives. But one woman wrote "I don't know why people only think about this at Easter. We should always be preparing our hearts and letting Christ shine through us. It almost sounds like human traditions from the catholic church (she didn't capitalize, but I would have). I'm not saying we shouldn't do these things, but it shouldn't just be reserved just for Easter time."

"Human" traditions? Really, when you get down to it, isn't all church tradition "human" tradition? Yes, it's divinely inspired, but we're all human, aren't we? Even the Pope is a human. My parish priest, who is my spiritual authority and who I take my questions to, is a human. The Bible is divinely inspired but it's written by humans. In fact, I think I heard something in the news a few months ago that there was some movement to try to re-write the Bible to bring it more in line with current times!

Is it just me or is there a kind of negative tone to the woman's post? It really bothered me! I responded to her post with my best diplomacy, and drew the connection to Jesus' days in the desert (which I'm sure she knows about) and how the time of Lent is special and deserving of extra attention, but yes, of course we should always be striving to be more like Jesus. I ended with "There are many, many more things that bind us together than separate us, as Christians."

I've been learning a lot about Lent and about my faith this year, and I am more and more convinced that I'm home. Not being raised in the Catholic faith, and learning Church teachings as a teen and an adult, I've had a lot of trouble getting my head around the whole "one true faith" thing. That sounds as if Heaven is only going to be populated with Catholics, and I just don't know about that. But Catholicism is the one true faith, in the sense that all the other Christian denominations have grown out of it. Have they all gone astray? Are all the Methodists (or Lutherans, or Baptists, or Assemblies of God or Russian Orthodox or...) going to Hell? That I can't say. I do know that no denomination can throw stones at another for sins committed; we've all got poster children for bad behavior. That's not about denomination, that's about human-ness, and making mistakes.

Why must we draw those lines? Are we all worshipping different Gods? Doesn't He love us all?

She didn't come out and say, "Ooooh you're Catholic! A pox on you!" But it sure sounded like she was passing judgment on the Church, and that really didn't sit right with me. I don't want to go on a "nondenominational" Christian website and start arguing doctrine and dogma but I don't want to see my church criticized for its traditions either, especially when her church is a descendant of my church.

Thoughts? Opinions? Anyone care to help me work through this, or see it from another perspective?