Thursday, September 13, 2012

The birthday week reflection

My birthday week is coming to a close. The skies have been blue, vast and crisp. Saturday marks 29 years.

Turning 29 is no big deal, it is in the bag. So it goes.

I like the process, I enjoy getting older, falling into stride. I have kicked my twenties in the ass. I did everything that I wanted to do and found myself in a place beyond anything I could have imagined. I am blessed in so many ways. I am aware of my surrounds, positive and negative. My future is bright.

I have climbed mountains, had epics, slept on a climbing rope with my feet in a backpack to stay warm while lost and tired, traveled, survived, felt true love, made lifelong friends, got married to a wonderful partner, found the beauty in day to day life, stood on podiums claiming second and third place awards in distance races. I have made dark mistakes, lost good friends, let people down, lost good jobs. I have learned a lot. These days I eat whatever the hell that I want. I drink beer and eat pizza with potatoes on it and find comfort. My early 20 year old self would shiver at the thought of that many carbs even crossing her mind. Bring it on. Life is uncertain, I do eat dessert. It has been a journey. A voyage all my own.

These days I run because I find absolute joy in moving my body and not to burn calories, a bold statement coming from a once gaunt lost girl. I ride my mountain bike as much as I can to escape to a place that is sacred and discover an uninhibited demeanor that is unstoppable. I have fun these days, I do what I want and feel like a force to be recon with even if it is only in my mind. I am softer, curvier than I used to be and feel good about it.  I have only one person to impress and that is myself. I have myself to make happy, everyone else just falls into place.

It is easy to think that you are almost there with just a little more you will be there. That is place I  don't want to be. As the years add up I know that nothing on this world is mine. Anything I find can be gone. We all need something, that something can only be found within.

So far the best present was a few words from my husband earlier this week, go for a bike ride Michelle, you have a brand new bike. The next day I dropped all obligations and for a few hours and rode my bike. All was right in my world again after an afternoon in the forest. A smile from ear to ear, a buzz that is impossible to ignore. Everyday following I have got out for a pedal on the trails. Friday, my present to myself, a day trip to Whistler, to ride as many trails as I can. Boldly, I want to ride by myself, I don't want to stop, I don't want any accountability except to come home in one piece. The weekend is spotted in with friends, rides, precious time with my husband and family.

Here is to the changes that have happened in the last year and to even more changes in the coming year. I promise to to leave nothing but dust in my twenties.

Monday, September 03, 2012

A few good things

Hello September. As Summer comes to a close and Fall changes the trees to all shades of gold, I find comfort in slowing down and preparing for the slower pace that Winter casts on my life. Here is what I have been enjoying...

Making these crackers with my Mama B today.

I have made about a dozen almond cakes in the last couple of months. I can't get enough.

Inspired to run again, swamped by good memories of distance running and can't put this this book down.

A friend said that being sober is like being free. I couldn't agree more. Loved this book.

Dreaming of someday having a little one around. Preparing with this book.

I made these gluten free waffles for the family this morning and replaced the pumpkin with shredded zucchini. Work like a charm.

Came across Shovels and Rope and can't get them off my mind. This video makes me want to pack up and move to the south.

I am part of the 29 inch revolution with my newest mountain bike

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Going all in

I took an order for a cake today to celebrate a couples fifty year wedding anniversary. Fifty years. I sat down with this couple, tasted three different kinds of cake, talked them through planning cake for a party to celebrate such an accomplishment. Secretly I wanted to buy the cake for them, making it as special as possible, thanking them for being minority. For being strong in a society that is lazy and weak. There aren't many people out there who can make it, it is hard.

The week before we made a cake for a seventieth wedding celebration. Seventy years. Hallelujah.

Decade after decade, that takes determination. Faith, patience and teamwork. It is not easy to be a good person, a loyal partner, a friend to someone day after day but when a bond is formed that is based on trust there is not much that can get in the way.

I am not perfect, not even close, I am bitch, moody and get heinous PMS that wrecks havoc upon our house every couple of weeks. Most of the time there are more good days than bad and I love my husband. He loves me, he always tries. He is my rock. John and I have fun activities that we enjoying doing together. We could have more things in common, I could have a better sense of humor but I am who I am, he is himself and we grow closer as the years add up. Our future is bright.

What advice do you have for maintaining a healthy relationship? How do you do it?

This article was originally published on Lydia Netzer's blog, "Shine Shine Shine," on April 19, 2012. I agree with most of what she has to say about marriage. What do you think?

1. Go to bed mad.

The old maxim that you shouldn’t go to bed mad is stupid. Sometimes you need to just go to freakin’ bed. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” is prefaced in the Bible by the phrase “Be angry and sin not.” So, who’s to say it doesn’t mean “Stay angry, bitches. Don’t let the sun go down on that awesome fierce wrath of yours.” Seriously. Whoever interpreted this to mean that you should stay up after midnight, tear-stained and petulant, trying to iron out some kind of overtired and breathy accord -- was stupid. Shut up, go to bed, let your husband get some sleep. In the morning, eat some pancakes. Everything will seem better, I swear.

2. Laugh if you can.

In any fight, there is one person who is really mad, and one person who isn’t that mad. That person should deflect the fight. Make a joke, do something stupid or corny, make the other person laugh. If the fight is very serious for you and you feel like you really want to plant your flag and die on this hill, fine. Do it. But if you’re fighting for entertainment, or because you’re just reacting, then you be the one to deflect. Fights are bad. Deflecting a fight whenever possible is a good idea. When you’re the one who’s being pissy and raw, and the other person helps you get out of it and brings about peace, that feels fantastic. This was a hard lesson to learn, for me. Letting Dan deflect a fight is the best thing, now. He does it really well.

3. Don’t criticize. Ever.

Here is a fact: Whatever critical thing that you are about to say to your wife is already being loudly articulated in her head. And if it’s true, she already feels like crap about it. Assuming you married someone intelligent enough to like you and sane enough to let you put a ring on it, trust that they are self-aware enough to know when they screwed up. It may feel good to you in that moment to say the critical thing, let it go ringing through the air in all its sonorous correctness, but it will feel awful to hear it. The only, only way it’s beneficial to give your wife criticism of any kind is if you’re absolutely positive she is completely unaware. And you better find the nicest, kindest way possible to tell her. And even then, good luck convincing her. Their recognition of the thing you are helpfully trying to point out will be INHIBITED, not facilitated, by your criticism. And then you’re the asshole. So be careful.

4. Be the mirror.

Your husband is the mirror in which you see yourself. And the things you say to him give him an image of himself too, which he will believe. You want him to believe it, so make it good. Be a mirror that reflects something positive: you’re smart, you’re successful, you’re fantastic in the sack, you’re a great provider, you’re the best. Can you MAKE him any of these things just by telling him he is? I don’t know, but consider this: the alternative really sucks. The things my husband says to me are 1000 times more convincing than anyone else’s opinion on earth. Don’t think he won’t believe you because you’re married and you’re contractually obligated to say nice things. He’ll believe the shitty, insulting things you say, and the gloriously positive things. Listen to Nico, girls:

5. Be proud and brag.

Let your spouse hear you talking about them in glowing terms to other people. Be foolish. Be obvious. It will mean everything. You will stay married forever.

6. Do your own thing.

Dan races bicycles. I write books. I don’t race bicycles or have any desire to race bicycles. He doesn’t write books, nor does he even read the books that I write. Seriously. And I don’t care. My opinion is that he’s the fastest, coolest most awesome bike racer ever. His opinion is that I’m the bestest, coolest writer ever. We don’t have to know all about cycling or writing in order to form these opinions -- in fact knowledge of literature or actually reading my book might damage Dan’s opinion of me as “best writer since the dawn of time.” We can still support each other without being all up in the other person’s stuff. Doing your own thing, having your own friends, being completely insanely passionate about something that the other person has no idea, really, about, is awesome. It allows your spouse to be your cheerleader, uncomplicated by knowledge or personal investment. And it means you’ll always have stuff to talk about, because you’re not overlapping all the time. You don’t have to read the same books either. You don’t have to have the same friends.

7. Have kids.

Kids stop you from being as crazy as you want to be. Because when you have kids, you can’t be that crazy.

8. Get really good at sex.

You’ve got all the time in the world to get really really good, not just at sex in general, but at having sex with your one particular husband. You should make it your life’s mission to become the perfect sex machine exactly for him. And he for you. There is no reason to hold back, or be embarrassed, or not ask questions, and get everything working properly. There’s absolutely no excuse for letting years drag on without becoming fully skilled, gifted sex partners for each other. It makes everything so much better. Does talking about this make you uncomfortable? How uncomfortable would it make you to know that your spouse is secretly, silently “just okay” with your sexual performance? Yeah. You want to last fifteen years, remember? That’s a long time to be mildly happy.

9. Move.

Live in different houses. In different parts of the country. Travel. Make it so that you can look back and divide up your life into the years you spent in different cities, or different houses. If you’re feeling stuck geographically or physically, you can confuse yourself into thinking you’re stuck romantically. See your husband in different places, in different contexts, in different countries even. Try it. Take him to a mountaintop and give him another look. Pretty sexy. Take him to a new city and check out his profile. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to change personally, or let your wife change as a person. Don’t worry about “growing apart.” Be brave and evolve. Become completely different. Don’t gather moss. Stagnation is unattractive.

10. Stop thinking temporarily.

Marriage is not conditional. It is permanent. Your husband will be with you until you die. That is a given. It sounds obvious, but really making it a given is hard. You tend to think in “ifs” and “thens” even when you’ve publicly committed to forever. If he does this, I won’t tolerate it. If I do this, he’ll leave me. If I get fat. If I change jobs. If he says mean things. If he doesn’t pay more attention. It’s natural, especially in the beginning of your marriage, to keep those doubts in your head. But the sooner you can get go of the idea that marriage is temporary, and will end if certain awful conditions are met, the sooner you will let go of all kinds of conflict and stress. Yes, you may find yourself in a horrible situation where it’s absolutely necessary to get a divorce. But going into it with divorce in the back of your mind, even in the way way way back of your mind, is going to cause a lot of unnecessary angst. Accept that you’re going to stay with him. He’s going to stay with you. Inhabit that and figure out how to make THAT work, instead of living with the “what if”s and “in case of”s.

11. Do not put yourself in trouble’s way.

Leave your ex boyfriends and girlfriends alone. I’m sure you’re very trustworthy. Aren’t we all? The thing is, there’s absolutely no reason to test it. Your husband and your marriage are more valuable than any friendship. Any friendship that troubles the marriage should be over immediately. Protect it with knives and teeth, not because it’s fragile but because it’s precious. Don’t ass around with a “hall pass” or a “harmless flirtation.” Adultery isn’t an event, it’s a process with an event at the end. Don’t put your feet on a path that could lead someplace bad.

12. Make a husband pact with your friends.

The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more. The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don’t really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, knows this.

13. Bitch to his mother, not yours.

This is one I did read somewhere in a magazine, and it’s totally true. His mother will forgive him. Yours never will. If you’re a man, bitch to your friends. They expect it.

14. Be loyal.

All the crap you read in magazines about honesty, sense of humor, communication, sensitivity, date nights, couples weekends, blah blah blah can be trumped by one word: loyalty. You and your spouse are a team of two. It is you against the world. No one else is allowed on the team, and no one else will ever understand the team’s rules. This is okay. The team is not adversarial, the team does not tear its members down, the team does not sabotage the team’s success. Teammates work constantly to help and better their teammates. Loyalty means you put the other person in your marriage first all the time, and you let them put you first. Loyalty means subverting your whims or desires of the moment to better meet your spouse’s whims or desires, with the full understanding and expectation that they will be doing the same. This is the heart of everything, and it is a tricky balance. Sometimes it sways one way and some the other. Sometimes he gets to be crazy, sometimes it’s your turn. Sometimes she’s in the spotlight, sometimes you. Ups and downs, ultimately, don’t matter because the team endures.

15. Trust the person you married.

For two people who are trying to help each other, it can almost be harder to let the other person help you than it is to be the one who’s helping. It can be harder to let the other person deflect the fight than to be the one deflecting. It can be harder to believe that your husband is fully committed to a lifetime of marriage than to commit yourself. Harder to change yourself than to let the other person change. Harder to be loved than to love. Weird, but true. I’m saying this to everyone who’s newly married, and to myself: trust that person. Love them completely and let them love you. If it all goes to seed, it’s going to hurt either way. Better to have gone into it full throttle. Full throttle marriage is a thrilling ride.