Monday, May 16, 2016

Runner's World Cover Search! YES, I'VE ENTERED!

Please, take a moment to go and vote for me here. Running is a passion, Wonder Woman is an alternate identity, and sharing my story would be dreamy!


What was your BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT [in running]?

"Could I really run 26.2 miles? Is nothing impossible, or is that true only for superheroes? To finish my marathon, I mentally needed to display my strength, to see it in the mirror. And so, I discovered my running identity: Wonder Woman! Every race since the Chicago Marathon has been run in my full Wonder Woman outfit. I had no idea what impact running as Wonder Woman would have on my own confidence and motivation, or the impact on the crowd. As I run by spectators, they cheer for Wonder Woman: she is an individual that men and women alike want to see succeed. Children's eyes light up with delight. I've had little girls run up to me squealing with delight, asking to take a picture. For me, running as Wonder Woman has become a way to inspire not just myself, but other runners. I've had fellow runners at races tell me they stuck with me because the cheering helped motivate them, too. I've had good races and bad races, but the biggest joy I get is when I see my sons at the end of each race, and they proudly tell their friends, "My mom is Wonder Woman!""


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Of running off the crazy, running off the stress, and running off the calories

You may have noticed I am a runner.

You may have seen it here, here, or here.

I've gone through many stages of running.

STAGE ONE: The new runner
I first ran desperately, gasping for breath, hoping that I wouldn't fall off of the treadmill before I burned a single calorie or ran a single step. In those days, I was just about to turn 30, and three years was long enough to swear that "soon all of this baby weight will fall right off" before I finally realized it was no longer baby weight but just MY weight.

I was 186 lbs. The heaviest I had ever been in my non-pregnant life, and I wasn't happy. I had two little boys to keep up with and I knew if I wanted to do that, I need to get active.

I picked running.

God only knows why I picked running because I couldn't run the length of a soccer field before this without getting a stitch in my side. "I'm just not built for running," I thought. I accepted this and lived my non-athletic life from the stage, behind a debate podium, and in front of a student council.

But here I was now, dying on a treadmill, all for the love of being a more active mom for my two boys.

Also, I was vain. I felt fat.

I ate well, I went from one mile to six. I went from 13 minute miles to 7 minute miles. And I went from 186 lbs to 136 lbs.

I enjoyed that body for about a year! And then? I got knocked up pregnant with twins.

Once again, I gained that "baby weight." And while I might not have hit 186? I spent a good three years hovering in the mid 170s. And despite buying the best jogging stroller I could find (BOB!), I didn't run at all.

Until I moved to California.

Something about moving from 300 days of overcast and cold to 300 days of sunny and warm changed my mentality. And the running was gradual, but the eating better started right away.

STAGE TWO: The casual, social runner
I moved to California and became a raw vegan for the first 6 months of living here. That helped with energy and weight.

And then I became friends with TheAumsMama, a huge force in Santa Cruz living, and I started running again. We ran beautiful places.

We went to beaches, and farms, and ranches. Once day, I was so desperate to see her that I ran through a mountain forest RIGHT AFTER I DONATED BLOOD.

Yeah, I almost passed out on her.

We encouraged each other while we randomly and casually decided that mayyyyybeeee we would run this race or that race. And we did this together until we decided to run our first half marathon.

STAGE THREE: The crazy runner
I ran my first half marathon. It was like being bit by a bug. I finished that race and I was high on run.

And then I ran another. And then I challenged myself to run 15 races in 2015. Before I knew it, it had been five months since I had a month go by that I didn't run at least 100 miles.

And then, one day, I signed up for a full marathon (CHICAGO!!!). It was a lottery. And I got in.

I found myself moving from running several miles at a time a 3-4 times a week to running up to eight miles at a time five times a week.

I became obsessed with the shoes, and the running gear, and the trails. I became obsessed with my heart rate, and my cadence, and my pace.

But I also noticed, I was happier every time I went out for a run.

Kids stressed me out? Go out for a run!

Work got me down? Go out for a run!

Worried about bills? Go out for a run!

Concerned about running? Go out for a run!

Running became the place where I could clear my head. It became my sanctuary, my meditation, my happy place. When I started a run, nothing could get between me and the pavement. Yes, my thoughts were still there, but they would slip away, and I would realize I am strong, I am relentless, I am motivated, nothing can stop me, there will be a solution, I don't have to know the answer right now--the answer right now is a run.

I found ways to challenge myself (ten miles a day for ten days) and I have found ways to improve (hello, strength training!).

Running has been my best friend when I need someone to just be there and say nothing. Running has brought me some of my biggest accomplishments. Running has taught me how to accept difficulty and strife and running has taught me nothing is impossible.

Running also makes me feel like a badass who has a tribe, even if I don't see that tribe everyday, even if I normally run alone.

I honor myself with a run, my health--both physical and mental--with a run. And in return, the run takes away the calories, the stress, and the crazy.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Of my worth, working mother guilt, and other things of business

I switched jobs. It was a long time coming. Although my responsibilities have varied, I had been working my last job for over four years.

About a year and a half ago, I realized my salary was pretty far off that of my colleagues. I make 77%  of the same dollar for the same work, with the same education. And I have more technical work experience. I was upset, to say the least. And my manager at the time promised to bring me into parity, I was at the low end of my band, he said. It would happen at review, he said. And when I got my GLOWING review, with no significant bump, I brought it up, and was LAUGHED AT.  WHO TOLD YOU YOU AREN'T IN PARITY. You, I said. No, I never told you that, said my manager.

Well, okay.

I swallowed it.

I knew I had to get away. At that moment, I knew I would never get equal pay for equal work.  Not from him.  So I applied for another role and got it.

And now I've asked for equal pay. And I almost apologized when asking for it.  The words, "I'm sorry" almost came out of my mouth.  I'm sorry? As in, I'm sorry I'm asking for more money. I'm sorry I'm disrupting your day with my request. I'm sorry you have to think about this and me and ugly things like money because of my request. But I stopped myself. I even said, "This actually isn't a raise, this is actually just bringing me into parity with my colleagues."

But now I'm racked with guilt for having asked and worried about how I'm being thought of because of my request.

Which, stupid.  I'm worth it. My work is amazing.

And my work is what takes me away from my babies. To be undervalued by the thing taking me away from my babies, it kills me.

The day I asked for my raise, I missed half of one child's music concert at school because I had to leave to lead one meeting. I then missed all of another child's music concert because of another meeting. I worked until I had to leave to take a third child to baseball, where I proceeded to work on my computer THROUGH THE BASEBALL GAME.  And then I bought dinner, dropped him off, and went back to the office where I worked until 9 pm.  Afterwards, I went for a run. And in the locker room, I cried, because I realized...MY DAY.

I skipped lunch.

The babies. I missed so much. I worked through a baseball game (I did stop and video every at-bat, though!).

I'm worth 100% of the same dollar anyone else is making. My work is pretty amazing. My most recent feedback, "Just walked through the deck  with <....>. She said it's the best activities, look, and flow she's seen. Absolutely loved...the AppleCare portion specifically. Awesome job, and thanks again Angel!"

I have to breathe. And maybe go for a run.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The one thing I can control

When it comes to relationships, or even work, I have not had an idyllic life. Failed marriages, a bunch of first dates, I come pretty close to the queen of bad decisions when it comes to men. I'm also in a second career. Despite being desperately in love with teaching history, I'm now in high tech. In a stressful job. All the while I can't help thinking 8 year old me knew best: I should have been a lawyer.

But what has been pretty amazing is my journey with motherhood. I gave birth to my first son, a healthy baby boy, when I was just 25. I got to spend an entire summer with him before I went back to work. He was the most beautiful baby and everyone told me so. My baby Joey was my everyday sidekick. I was warned not to have a second child-- no one could compete with the gorgeousness of baby Jo-Jo. But when I was blessed with my lil man Eddie, I felt my life was perfect. This little boy, almost the exact opposite from his big brother, completed our little trio. The three of us, thick as thieves, were always on the go. Joey was an angel. Eddie adored his big brother. And I was a proud mama of the two most handsome men in the world.

Until I was the proud mama of the FOUR MOST HANDSOME MEN IN THE WORLD. I unexpectedly became pregnant with twins...a blessing...a gift. I was privileged to observe two human beings grow inside of me--and they did it TOGETHER. I saw one human "lick" the other one on an ultrasound. I carried two distinctly different people AT ONCE... And grew to know their relationship before they even left my body. Twin B, a non stop wiggle worm busy body. He kept me up at all hours of the night, as if to say, "Hey mom! Isn't there some place we could be going? Something we could be doing?" Twin A, my little chill baby. He poked me only every once in a while as if to say, "I'm all good, Mom. But don't forget I'm here!"

Their entrance into the world was one of the most traumatic days of my life. Twin B's heart rate went down to 30 bpm. An emergency c-section two months before their due date. But they came. And they cried. And they conquered the NICU. 

And my idyllic journey with motherhood began. Four boys. A set of twins. Curly headed, big brown eyed, caramel colored skinned, dirty hands, playful hearts, skinned knees, super hero and NFL dreaming boys. My life, as a mom, although difficult at times as a single mom, has been everything I could ask for...I am blessed. 

But three weeks ago, that changed. And now, at night, fear grows where there was once joy. My twin A, my Jakey, had a seizure. And the ER felt unsure whether it really was, so they ordered an EEG... Everyone assured me, nothing would be found, Jakey will be fine, things will work out, you will see...but all I saw were the abnormal results of the EEG. 

An MRI is scheduled for today. Friday, December 12th. I can't sleep. I can't stop thinking. I can't stop worrying. I'm sick to my stomach. My baby Jakey sleeps in my bed with me now. He can't be left alone (especially near water). The next three months are important months (he is most at risk for another seizure during this time). He needs an MRI (what if it is abnormal too). 

I can handle break ups. I can handle being let go from my job. I can handle divorce. 

I can't imagine handling bad news about my baby (please oh please God or universe or Buddha or Yahweh let him be healthy). I don't know how other parents have done it and survived (that sounds so cliché). I don't want to learn that I can survive it too (that sounds so selfish, is that okay to say). 

I feel like the last three weeks have been a bad dream. I hold onto my phone tightly all day, wondering when I will be called by Jakey's school to come get him (they've called twice and I go immediately). I sleep next to my baby and well, it's not really sleep because I'm afraid to close my eyes, in fear of missing an episode of some sort throughout the night. I am absolutely sick to my stomach. Later today, I sit and watch his MRI. And then the doctor will call for an urgent appointment if they find something. Or she can call to tell me the results are normal. 

So now I will fear the phone ringing. Again. 

My idyllic journey with motherhood has been shattered. Maybe not completely. But enough that I have realized that anything can happen. That I can't control the outcome of this. That I have to just love my babies hard. That I have to just enjoy his sweet loving face on my chest, as he snuggles up against me as he sleeps in my bed. He is the face I see first thing in the morning. He smiles slyly. He tells me I'm his best friend. 

And then I do then one thing I can control: I tell him he is mine. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

No On 46: A Threat to my Privacy

A while back, I was asked to like a Facebook page, No On 46. Being that I live in California, I figured some friends of mine felt it might apply to me and thought I might be interested in what the Political Organization behind this page had to say.  Not one to blindly follow, I began some research.  

Of course, it was easy to find the “No On 46” info because it was connected to their Facebook Page. If you go to NoOn46.com, you can easily navigate their site to “Get the Facts,” see what’s “In the News,” and find ways to “Take Action.”

My eyes were drawn immediately to “Threats to Personal Privacy,” which can be found here, under Get the Facts. Being that I work in high tech, I am constantly questioning how my use of tech devices, social media, and cellular technology impacts my right to privacy...it's often a question that our customers ask and so it is an answer that I grapple with daily.

I wanted to begin with a fair investigation. So, instead of presenting the information I found on No On 46's website, I will share the info I have discovered on the State of California's Department of Justice website (here):
The Department of Justice (DOJ) limits access and dissemination of this information to licensed prescribers, licensed pharmacists, law enforcement personnel, and regulatory board personnel strictly for patient care or official investigatory/regulatory purposes.
This sounds great, right? It even goes on to say, hey, we have to follow HIPPA regulations. However, a deeper dive into Lewis v The Superior Court of the State of California, we can see that, we, as patients, 
...do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their prescription records vis-a-vis the Board's limited data in CURES, and such access does not amount to conduct constituting a serious invasion of privacy...
AND
the government may see and use information covered by the right to privacy if it can show that its use of the information would advance a legitimate state interest... [use of bold is mine]

So what does this mean? The CURES database even as it exists today does not protect our information from being used by the Department of Justice or any branch of the government for that matter despite our assumption that our medical information is protected by HIPPA.

We have a diminished expectation of privacy. Because of CURES.

CURES is currently a voluntary database, of which a small group of doctors are using. It is voluntary for doctors to use it EVEN after January 1, 2016, once they are all required to register to use it (this was enacted last year in Senate Bill 809).

Why would I agree to this mandatory reporting?

What is at risk... and I agree having found this on the NoOn46.com site...
The ballot measure contains no provisions and no funding to upgrade the database with increased security standards to protect personal prescription information from government intrusion, hacking, theft or improper access by non-medical professionals.
Am I saying that this is not a worth while venture? Am I a vicious liberal who is putting my own privacy above the value of the lives of those lost because of doctor shopping and a lack of accountability for how to dispense addictive drugs to patients?

No. What I am saying is there has to be a thoughtful conversation about a law that can do just that-- add accountability-- while protecting the general population. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to practice discretion. We cannot remove our doctors' ability to exercise compassion. We cannot allow mandatory reporting of medical information that can be used at the discretion of the state for ANY STATE INTEREST. We cannot use our fear of pill popping drug addicts to drive our desire for fair laws.

I have discovered through my investigation that there are many other reasons why Prop 46 is not the right way to enact the laws and protection that we crave.

But this? The threat to our privacy? Is what has motivated me to share my perspective on why I'm No On 46.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Quite possibly my favorite summer movie!

Not every action movie has a soul. 

Sometimes, they’re pretty darn predictable. 

This can be especially true when the movie is based on a story from a comic book.

I’ll tell you what…this movie? Definitely does has a soul.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a smartly written movie, if there ever has been one in the Marvel family. Most lines are not only smart written, but deftly delivered. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the banter amongst the “Guardian” group, including the lines of Groot (limited to just four words, he is still able to steal a few scenes with those words and some great CGI facial expressions!). I know I will hear the words, “I am Groot,” for weeks to come out of the mouths of my four young boys.

Of course, I love Gamora, played by Zoey Saldana. My favorite line of hers?  "And I am not some starry eyed waif here to succumb to your...your...pelvic sorcery!”

The audience can easily find a place in their heart for her and her traumatic story…of which, each Guardian has one. And Star Lord aptly captures their sad stories with his laugh grabbing line, “I look around, and you know what I see? Losers. I mean like, folks who have lost things…” Because, of course, it was just another way Star Lord endears himself to us, as he struggles from becoming the lost little boy who was stolen from his dead mother to the man who could have the strength to save the galaxy.

I love this movie so much? That just four short days after seeing it the first time with my eldest son, I saw it AGAIN with all four boys at the Drive-In.

My ONLY disappointment in this movie was the seemingly MISPLACED use of two words- one, when Drax calls Gamora a whore (this stands out because he DID NOT have to use the word) and then again when Star Lord tells Ronin, “You said it yourself, we’re the Guardians of the Galaxy…BITCH.” In such a smartly written movie, these words just stand out like a sore thumb, because as I tell my children…you’re intelligent enough that you could find a better word to use than THAT one. And the writers and directors of this movie could have (and should have). Those words were just really out of place.



Altogether, I’d give this movie an A-…and the minus is because of those two misplaced words. Otherwise, this movie is Marvel gold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catching my breath

Breathing heavy because thoughts keep racing and they're running 5 minute miles
I haven't had the endurance because I thought I'd never run again

I wonder how long it will be this time
I'm tired of 5Ks and half marathons
I want an ultra marathon

One would imagine that because you've done all this training in the past
You'd be prepared
For twisted ankles and sprained knees
But what really hurts you in this sport is a wounded heart

Lost love for the race
Or worried about the bling you'll get at the end
Never realizing that even though you get a free shirt you're really paying for it with an entry fee

I remember now I love my foot against the pavement
It makes me feel alive
My passion lays in the moment
And I remember it's a journey, not a destination

And I love that I'm out here again
Catching my breath