Monday, June 25, 2012

Survival Mode

First of all, I would like to apologize to my loyal reader(s) for being M.I.A.!  Work has been busy and over the past few weeks I feel like I let my life shift into survival mode.  Instead of paying attention to the little habits that make me feel good (getting workouts in, drinking plenty of water, going to bed at a reasonable hour, writing) I have switched into autopilot.  Instead of trying to enjoy every day, I've been merely trying to get through each day.  I wake up, go to work, sit at my cubicle, eat my meals, drive home, shower, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again.  Frankly, it has been a little pathetic.  It's like I just gave in and accepted that life was going to be mediocre for the moment because I was too lazy/tired/cranky to put in the effort to make it better.  I felt like I used up my motivation quota for the month and was just plain tapped out.

Then something cool happened.  My brother, sister-in-law, and niece came into town from Maine, which meant that not only did I get to see them, but I got to see the rest of my family that lives in the area but I don't get to see nearly enough because we are all too darn busy!  Even though work was hectic, we all got together a few different times.  (My sister is an excellent hostess!)

It was exactly the medicine I needed.  There is something so special about family.  These are the people that you can be most yourself with.  People who love you and trust you and give you the benefit of the doubt.  Nieces who run up to you and scream, "Aunt Noodleeeeeee" as they embrace your legs in a bear hug.  People who you love unconditionally and understand without explanation.  People you always root for and want to see succeed and be incredibly happy.  Being with them made me feel like everything was right with the world again.

Mostly seeing my family reminded me of the big picture.  That more than work, workouts, commutes, or anything else, family is what matters.  Relationships are what matter.  That as hard or exhausting as the other things in our day-to-day lives might get, everything will be OK as long as we have our friends and family around to make us whole and keep us on the path to becoming our very best selves.

So today I'm feeling much better.  I drank my water.  I got a workout in.  I talked to my Mom and had dinner with Mike.  That's not to say that I have it all figured out, or that life is suddenly easy, but at least I feel like I'm back on track, and for the moment that is enough for me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fight or Flight

A few months ago Mike and I woke up from a dead sleep to a very frightening noise--our burglar alarm went off at 4 a.m., broadcasting a loud wail that they probably heard all the way in Delaware.  For whatever reason, I was convinced that it was the fire alarm (don't judge me, I've never had a security system in my house before) and proceeded to "evacuate" Clyde by putting my hands under his front legs and trying to walk him out of the bedroom door like a human.  (Yeah, I have no idea why I did that.  It was 4 a.m.  I was panicked.  What can you do?)
My efforts to whisk Clyde to safety were impeded by Mike, who had jammed our bedroom door shut so the murderer/burglar/psycho could not get in.
In my next genius move, I decided to walk over to the alarm, which said "Basement Window Open" and turned it off.  I was worried about the neighbors and just wanted to make the really loud siren stop.
Of course, as my very patient husband quickly pointed out, I just gave Mr. (or Mrs. ?) Creepy Criminal free access to our house.  Whoops.  Even worse, the security company was trying to call our land line, but since we only have a house phone downstairs in the kitchen, we couldn't get to it before it stopped ringing.
Being the kind, thoughtful wife that I am, I then encouraged Mike to go downstairs and investigate.  (Did I mention I wasn't really awake or thinking clearly at this point?)  After a few complaints and after handing me the phone to call the police, he walked downstairs by way of the kitchen, right past the knives to grab the nearest... rolling pin.
In the meantime, I called the police.  They asked me all sorts of difficult questions like, "What is your name?"  I didn't know whether to give them my name, or my mom's name or my grandfather's name (the former owner of the house), and then I couldn't decide whether I should use my maiden name or my married name.  I'm pretty sure any name at all would have caused a little less suspicion to our friendly local police dispatcher than my hems and haws as I willed my brain to start functioning and spit something out.
Eventually, the police were dispatched and after lots of scary shuffling around outside and Mike screaming, "Hello? Hello?" the police knocked on the door, checked the basement and discovered that the problem was not a burglar, but a faulty sensor.  After giving Clyde his daily quota of pats the kind and brave officers were on their way, leaving us to go back to bed.
There was just one problem... my body was not cooperating.  My heart was still pounding in my chest and my mind was replaying the events of the entire night over and over again.
The problem continued well into the next day.  I felt anxious and my chest still ached like I had just sprinted up 10 flights of steps.  I couldn't calm down or concentrate.
Any danger (or imagined danger) had long since passed... what was wrong with me?
Then at lunch I went for a run on the treadmill and after a few miles, I finally felt better.  It was as if the adrenaline in my body finally had a way to escape.  My chest stopped hurting and I could finally breathe again.
That's when it occurred to me that there really is something to that whole caveman "fight or flight" response.  The adrenaline pumping through my body needed somewhere to go... it needed to punch someone in the face or run away screaming, and until I gave it the outlet it needed to escape it just sat on my chest, weighing me down.
I guess the same thing happens to some extent whenever we get angry or anxious, even if it is over something much smaller than a burglar alarm.  Those feelings bounce around our bodies, waiting for some kind of physical release or response, and if we don't get one they just sit there wearing us out and weighing us down.  Until we can acknowledge those feelings and give them a real, physical outlet, we can never really breathe freely.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

It's Just a Car

Today I am trading in Jeepie, my not-so-creatively-named black 2005 Jeep Liberty Sport, and even though it has had some issues in recent years (transmission, drivetrain, brakes, AC) and even though I am upgrading to a nicer, new car, I can’t help but feel a little bit sad.  It’s like I’m saying goodbye to an old friend.  Silly, I know.  Jeepie is a piece of metal with lots of fancy parts and wires manufactured in some factory in Detroit--or probably more likely, overseas--passed down the assembly line and eventually, into my driveway.  It has no feelings or personality, it doesn’t have any allegiance to me and wouldn’t know me from Adam Levine, or Brad Pitt, or Angelina Jolie.

Still, there are so many memories from the last 7 years and 85,000 miles.  Jeepie was the first car I ever bought, and I paid for it entirely on my own with salaries from a few different full-time jobs.  It was the car I drove when Mike and I moved in together, when he proposed, and when we got married.  

Jeepie drove me to hundreds of events as a Phillies Ballgirl, which usually involved me getting lost and having to call my boss for directions--a conversation that inevitably started with, “I don’t know where I am but I think I just saw a sign for Delaware…”  I drove Jeepie to every homegame of  the 2008 World Series and on a beautiful Halloween morning, to the parking lot to board the parade float for our World Series victory celebration.

It’s the car that I used to take my grandfather his weekly supply of Werther’s Originals and Lebanon bologna and my grandmother her weekly supply of Swiss Cake Rolls, and the car I used to cart around my niece from playground to playground when I was lucky enough to babysit.  I can close my eyes and see her in my rearview mirror, asleep in the car seat after a busy day of play, with her hair stuck to her forehead and her neon sunglasses sliding down her nose.

Jeepie brought home more than a dozen Christmas trees for my mom, my aunt, and eventually for Mike and me.  It has been jammed full of presents, luggage, dog fur, groceries, wedding gifts, a closetful of clothes and shoes, bags of mulch, sports equipment, donations, and best of all, people.

I drove Jeepie home from more than a few 20-mile marathon-training runs with the windows and sunroof open, letting the breeze wick the sweat off of my tired limbs.

I got a couple of tickets in that car, and remember the way my knees would shake and fear would swell up in my throat when those flashing lights appeared behind me.  I also got into one very scary accident in Jeepie, and am so grateful that I walked away just fine and the other driver did too.  

Jeepie kept me safe through blizzards, a hurricane, thunderstorms, and Philadelphia rush hours.  It even survived an uber-rare Pennsylvania earthquake.

I have laughed, cried, sang, prayed, screamed, hoped, dreamed, and worried in that car.  I have celebrated some amazing days in Jeepie--days with the windows down, the sunroof open, and the radio blasting when it felt like everything was right in the world.  There were also some days when tears streamed down my face and I felt like nothing would ever feel really right again.  Jeepie made me feel safe and free, like at any moment I could just escape onto the open road and never look back.

We had a good run, Jeepie.  Thanks for the memories.