Monday, August 30, 2010

Lost and Found, One Focused Mother

Boy, do I miss writing here. I really, really do. And I'm really going to miss it three years from now when I come back to this summer, 2010, to read about what was going on right now and there's very little to see, because I've been too busy going and doing and not busy enough taking pictures and writing about all the everything!

We camped last weekend for the first time and I wrote a post for 5 Minutes for Parenting about Peabody's nighttime hijinx. Two, two, two posts in one day!

Bean started full-day kindergarten last week! (I know. HOW? DID? SHE? GET? THAT? OLD?) (ACK!) and that's been a HUGE point of focus for me. Not in a sad way, just in a WOW. THIS IS SERIOUS NOW! sort of way. I got a sortof wake-up call about how disorganized and unstructured our days have become over the summer when I enrolled her in a two week session of day camp the two weeks before school started and we were late getting her there by at least 5 minutes EVERY SINGLE DAY, and not the fun kind of late where it's all good and no big deal, the kind of late that HURTS with rushing and frustration and irritation and self-loathing and WHY CAN'T I GET IT TOGETHERNESS. The kind of late and the kind of hurrying that makes me want to give up and crawl in a hole because IT'S MY FAULT because I'm not doing what *I* need to do to set the tone and the pace in the morning for the family to follow.

So OY! after we were late that FIFTH time to day camp and both Bean and I had spent about a week in the foulest, evilest, snippiest moods EVER, I had a little Come to Jesus meeting with MYSELF and I made NEW RULES for me like NO COMPUTER USAGE until everyone is up and cleaned, dressed, fed, tooth-brushed and ready to go take Bean to the bus stop. And NO COFFEE until the kids are sitting down having breakfast because once I've got hot cup of joe in my paw, my behind reports automatically to my desk chair, in front of my computer, and my computer OWNS me from that point on. OWNS me. It's awful. I'm awful! How do I expect my kids to be happy and positive and ready for their day emotionally or physically when their mother gets out of bed and ZONES out in front of a monitor for an hour and they have to ask me four or five times to FEED THEM THEIR BREAKFAST?

Mama = Focus lost
Family = Chaotic heap of frustration and misery

This is what lack of structure does in my house after a few days. Okay a few hours.

So I've set a morning structure and daily routine (the daily routine is really less important - mostly it's been all about making the MORNINGS run smoothly and building the rest of the day on that sturdy foundation) around Bean's bus time and for three days running we've ALL been up, happy, clean, clothed, stuffed full of a nice healthy breakfast smiling clean smiles and sporting matching shoes at that bus stop at LEAST 5 minutes early. And it feels GOOOOOOOOOOOD.

And after Bean hops on the bus, Peabody and I go for a nice long walk, then we come home and he gets to play outside for a bit. And THEN, when I've already had human interaction with LIVE people, I've properly cared for my little gang, I've already been immersed in LIFE and had an hour of walking time to think (I think SO MUCH MORE CLEARLY and with so much more purpose when I'm out walking!) about the day and what needs to be cleaned, fixed, cooked, dropped-off/picked-up and so on, THEN I can get on the computer and stay on task.

And with that said, I'm off this computer again, to keep myself on track. Y'all hold me to it, okay?

Next time? Pictures and thoughts on Bean's first few days at Big Girl School. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster, but she is absolutely LOVING IT!

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Enough to Keep Me Walking

"When are you going to blog about the 3 Day?" is the question of the week from my family and friends.

Yes. When?

I have so much, y'all. So much in my head and heart. So much to process. So much to do justice to.

So many pictures to edit, so many memories to hold close to me and cherish and ponder.

So much love for and pride in each and every member of my team - my "blister sisters." We left friends, I think, and came home something much more.

And we did it for something so important and meaningful - beyond ourselves and our families and out into the world, all over it, across social and economic borders and into the bosom (excuse me!) of what is important to women everywhere.

My team of 16 raised $50,000. The Chicago 3-Day brought $4.2 million to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. And that may mean very little to some. Very little indeed. But I spent 3 days surrounded by pink warriors - women fighting cancer, women who have fought cancer and won, the memory of millions of women who fought cancer and were taken from their families and friends, and women and men who are fighting on behalf of those they have or never want to lose to breast cancer. And I'm changed by that. It means the world to me.

I don't want to become one-dimensional and I promise I will write about other things again some day very soon.

But also?

I'm telling you. I believe that I will walk this walk every year until I can't walk anymore.

Because early Friday morning, August 6, 2010, I stood together with 15 women who now own a piece of my heart forever, to celebrate the opening of the Chicago 3 Day for the Cure. The sun rose to just above the horizon as nearly 2000 walkers, crew, staff and supporters honored breast cancer survivors. Beside me stood my friend and neighbor Meagan, and I watched her take in the beautiful scene, and I thanked God for placing her ever-so-lovingly into that sweet sisterhood four months ago.

It's a moment I will truly never forget, and I believe what I did this weekend with 1600+ like-minded friends will mean many more women in the sisterhood of survivors, and many more moments like this one:

Meagan, August 6, 2010

And that's enough to keep me walking.

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Decidedly NOT Scared

In two days. TWO DAYS, y'all, all of the time and effort and training and fund raising and waiting and wondering and imagining and hoping culminates in my climbing into a limo bound for Chicago(ish), my rolling duffle bag and my well-stuffed waist-kit (because I just can't bring myself call it a fanny pack) and my two-maybe-three pairs of broken-in walking shoes in tow, and we finally DO this thing we committed to doing way back in November.

Last week I had breakfast with my friend Meagan, and we were all smiles and breathlessness and happy-happy, and she looked into my eyes and asked me, "Are you scared?" and the "-d" part of "scared" hadn't gotten all the way across the table to me before I looked straight back into her eyes and said, "NO."

Decidedly NOT scared. Excited, and emotional, determined ... toe-tappingly joyful. We've trained, we've done our research, we've raised over $40,000 (thank you so much to everyone who contributed via FriedOkra!), we've talked, we've laughed, we've filled water-bottles and laced shoes and created a playlist of all of our favorite motivational, upbeat, get-us-going songs. We've collected 50-plus bras of every shape, size, color and style to hang on clotheslines around our pink tents at camp. Big or small, we'll save them all.

And we have walked. And walked and walked and walked. In every kind of weather, at every different time of day, with hurting feet, blisters, bandages, braces, arch supports, pushing single strollers, double strollers, no strollers, wearing baseball caps, sunglasses, rain-ponchos, sweatshirts, tank tops, just 2 of us, 4 of us, 6 of us, 10 of us, climbing over fallen trees, slinking under storm-damaged power lines, through clouds of mosquitos, past corn fields, around goose poop, through mud puddles, making wide circles around enormous squooshed bull-frogs and teeth-baring dogs, stopping to take pictures of deer, rabbits, sunrises, sunsets, our eyes-half-closed before dawn, legs lead-heavy after dusk and all the kids' bedtimes, wishing for coffee, wishing for air conditioning, wishing for bed, pizza, wine and wheels.

And having experienced all that -- the best, worst, ups, downs, highs, lows, sweat, thirst, laughter, tears, pain, joy, all of it voluntary, all of it always just really a mounting heap of personal decision after personal decision, I still marvel at the nearly breath-taking irony of Meagan's question. Meagan, who did not choose Stage 3 breast cancer. Didn't choose a devastating diagnosis, or surgery or therapy or true fear or loneliness and isolation or pain and long, long, forever-long illness and pokes, prods, blood-draws and biopsies and devastating chemicals and vomiting and sleeplessness and baldness and body pains and financial burdens and the complete upheaval of family life for a year.

Meagan asked me.

"Are you scared?"

(Long pause.)

No. I couldn't be less scared, my friend.

I've got this.

We've got this.

For you.

{And I will be thinking of each of the cherished women you've told me about who have fought breast cancer and other cancers. It is my honor to carry them with me and to make this journey for and about them, as well. Thanks for sharing these beloved ladies with me!}

It's my hope that I'll be able to update FriedOkra once a day via my phone along the way this weekend. I will definitely be posting regular updates and photos on Facebook (Megan Ferree Cobb). We would love to have you along virtually for the journey as I'm certain there will be times when a little encouragement from friends and family will be all that we need to keep going. We leave home Thursday night to stay in a hotel close to the starting point, walk all day Friday, camp Friday night, walk Saturday, camp Saturday night and then walk Sunday to meet our families and friends and attend Closing Ceremonies in downtown Chicago.

I will see you all in sixty miles!

Meagan and me, April 1, 2010

Edited to add that I JUST got an email from Meagan, officially announcing that she has joined Team Cure or Bust and will be lacing up her own shoes to join us in this year's walk. We are so excited to have her with us -- happy, healthy and RIGHT THERE WITH US. (And that is the biggest understatement I've ever typed here, which, as you know, is saying A LOT.)

('Scuse me while I go cry a bucket or two of happy tears.)

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