Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Hole in the Middle

Things tend to converge in my mind when I’m thinking hard about something and two things have crashed together in my brainspace recently.


The first, a camp song, came up because we’re helping Little A. learn to identify coins. I’ve been singing “The Donut Song” to him. Here it goes:

I walked around the corner
And I walked around the block
And I walked right in to a donut shop
I picked up a donut, fresh from the grease
And I handed the lady a five-cent piece.

Well, she looked at the nickel
And she looked at me and
She said, “This nickel is no good for me.
There’s a hole in the middle and it goes right through.”

I said, “There’s a hole in the donut, too!”

You can see why this is helpful with identifying our crazy US coins—it has “five-cent piece” and “nickel” right there. But I know what you’re really dying to know…What has this song converged with in my mind?

It converged with my feminine mid-life crisis.

According to Oprah, women tend to be pleasers and in their forties, they learn to let go of that. Okay, maybe I condensed her twenty years on TV a little, but that’s the gist of it, right?

I don’t know about anyone else, but here’s the deal with me. I can see patterns pretty well, I read people pretty well, and I’m good with breaking things down into beginning, middle, and end. Therefore I can organize things. Generally, I can organize people to be productive. I can do that. I CAN. And that’s a valued skill in our world.

I’ve done a lot of things against my nature over the years—things I had no talent for, things I learned superficial skills to manage, things that frightened me, things that sucked the life out of me. I can do those. I CAN. And so I’ve done a few things I’ve been praised for over the years.

I’ve learned to identify, assess, and prioritize other people’s needs over my own. I’m pretty empathetic, so I can do that. I CAN. And it’s easy to think that’s why I have friends and a family.

I, in and of myself, feel nothing from those things that I can do. Well, except for the general societal approval they generate. But that’s nothing, right? I mean, who needs your teachers and peers and family and social media to give you the big thumbs up?

I’m not complaining or being mean or shifting responsibility. I have huge affection for my teachers and my friends; I love my family. It’s just that I’m like that dang donut—or the nickel. Or the donut. Either way, there’s a hole in my middle and it goes right through.

As I’m finally getting to know myself and finally starting to hear my own voice, buried deep inside, I’m realizing I’ve built up a lot of things I CAN do in a big circle all around me, all around the giant hole where what I want to do lies.

That sounds childish, doesn’t it? What I WANT to do. How about these: what I was born to do, what I dream of doing, what I have a natural talent for, what gives me energy, what creates flow for me, what makes me feel alive, what helps me be a stronger, kinder, better, happier person? Still childish? I’m not so sure now.

I’m only beginning this process. I know this blog has been a lifeline, something I want to do, even when I have more productive things I CAN be doing. Something that I feel I have a knack for, something that energizes me.

I know I want to write. I know I want what goes with that—periods of absorbing life around me, observing nature, people, society, my own existence. Time alone, to think uninterrupted thoughts. I know I like to make things, beautiful things, to work on our house and sew for my children. I know I love helping people, in my own small, quiet way. I know I love the people in my life. I know I love being outside, travel, beauty, learning. Running and sailing. I know I've always wanted to save the world a little.

But how will you earn a living? What about your kids? Don’t they have to get to the bus and do their homework and don’t they need dinner? What about? What about? 

Oh—and aren’t those kind of oddball things to do? Being alone? Sewing? Who does that anymore? Well, unless you put it on Pinterest.

I hear you, little head voices. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I feel a strong need to find them. Because, right now, this nickel is no good for me.


As I write this, I’m fueling the fires of my rebellion by listening to Sir Ken Robinson’s second TedTalk. 

Not only is Sir Ken HYSTERICAL, he also says genius things like this, “You know, to me, human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability.” Or this, after a beautiful Yeats quote, “And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.

Listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s second TedTalk here:

Saturday, March 7, 2015


MomK--That’s pronounced [mahm-kay], like “5k” with a “mom” in front instead.

And I wrote it that way because I’m a mom. I also offer major kudos and a separate category to dads. Especially ones like my rocking husband who hung out with the kids while I ran ahead and who gave me the party bath bomb plus time to use it (see below).

I’d like to suggest that moms (see above) get their own prize category at races. Moms face some unique challenges, especially when they run with their kids, so it would just be recognizing reality. Right? We all deserve prizes!

Reason #1—Morning Pees
I’m sorry, but it has to be said. You go anywhere with a mixed group of adults and all the non-moms start looking funny at the moms before long. The look seems to say, “Really? Again?”

After a little while, the moms all get this look on their faces, like, “What? What is SO weird about having to pee 17 times before 9:00am?”

It just happens, folks. But getting to the race early enough to hit the portapotties 17 times before you start is an accomplishment.

Reason #2—Forgetting Stuff
Ummm, so, I meant to look up giving blood and running before I gave blood six days ago…but I forgot. I was just all, “Hey! I have spare time and the blood drive bus is right there, so let’s go!” And the form said no strenuous exercise for 24 hours, so I figured I was golden after that. Nope.

After I started to feel a little winded just walking around, I turned to Google. Mind you, I hadn’t given blood in a while. I always felt fine in college—but surely that had nothing to do with getting tons of sleep and, well, having nothing to do but get tons of sleep.

Google informed me that for THREE WEEKS after giving blood, I should just “get my miles in” and not worry about my times, because they ain’t gonna happen for three weeks or longer. Good to know. Wish I hadn’t forgotten to check that out.

Reason #3—Carrying stuff
We did a 5k RIGHT outside our neighborhood, which was awesome. No car keys to worry about, etc. Nobody had a wallet or a bag—great! Well, Big A. did ask me to stick a little cash in the secret pocket of my running pants. And the extra safety pins. And then I took a turn with Little A.’s sweatshirt. And after the race I collected his apple, my water bottle, everyone’s removed bibs, and the kids’ special participation ribbons.

Funny story—I won a random drawing (Yay!) and the lady needed to see my bib for ID. Now, as any mom would, I’d made a pocket for all our bibs by tucking my shirt tail into my waistband. So she says, “Do you have your bib?” I pull them all out. She says, “Wow. You have nine!” I said, “No, just four. It’s the whole ‘Mom, can you hold this?’ thing.”

Bonus Reason: Moms walk around looking much bigger than they are because they’ve got everyone else’s stuff tucked in their clothes. Truth.

Reason #4—Family Pinning
FOUR sets of those crazy safety pins! It was chilly this morning, people—I should get a medal for pinning sixteen safety pins without poking anyone.

Reason #5—Positioning
I don’t know about other moms, but especially here in southwest Florida in season, I spend nearly all my time moving through crowds in a hurry. Crowded roads, crowded stores, car lines, after school activities—we’re always coping with lots of other people while trying to get somewhere fast. We should get bonus points for doing it as a leisure activity! (Philosophical question: If racing is so much like my life, why is racing more fun? Hmm.)

Reason #6--The Point
Remember how the race was right outside our neighborhood? As we walked home, we crossed the course to go into our development and I started counting how many times I’d passed that point on the course—hereafter known as The Point—this morning. Mind you, The Point is a half mile from our house.
1. Walked the dog down to The Point and back this morning
2. Walked by The Point going to the Start
3. Ran by The Point on my outward leg
4. Ran by The Point on my way to the Finish
5. Walked by The Point looking for my family
6. Ran by The Point with Little A. on HIS way to the Finish
7. Walked by The Point going home, Part I
8. Ran by The Point when a friend texted that I’d won the drawing
9. Walked by The Point going home, Part II

Overall, it was a rockin’ good time. I LOVED seeing the kids race to the finish, we all improved our times (even anemic me), and we all recovered from our chilly morning with shaved ice for the kids (yes, they are nuts) and hot baths for all of us. And, yes, I had all the time I wanted to soak in my hot bath with a bath bomb that turned out to have soapy confetti in it. How amazingly apt!

Maybe there already are special prizes for moms. And dads.