Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Must. Always. Stretch. After. Running.

Had a hard run this morning, I was in a hurry after my Monday run and didn't stretch that day --- it didn't seem to affect me in my regular activities or in my swim, but boy did I notice today. About 5 minutes in my right quad (thigh muscle) felt tight, hard even, and painful, and I had to keep stopping, walking a bit, and then starting up again. I tried running slower, I tried switching to the other side of the street (don't laugh, those of you who don't run, the slope of the sidewalk can make a difference with these things), and it wasn't until I got about a mile and a half in that I thought to stretch. Problem solved. I made sure to stretch my trouble spots when I got home, for sure.

The other thing I have to watch out for these days... peeing. Namely, that going too fast, or going too vigorously downhill, sets off a need to pee that is unignorable, and I'm typically able to ignore such things (when running). I've been running routes that bring me by decent public restrooms, though the last few weeks I've only had to make use of them during the first half of my run, then I'm fine. But no, today I had to take one descent a little too quickly... luckily I knew my yoga place was open that early and they kindly let me come in and use the facilities. I have to remember, speed is beside the point these days, it's just about going the distance (and enjoying myself in the process).

Sweet Pea is beginning to add commentary to my activities... kick, kick, kick, just like Buddy... but why right before bed?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Notes on a Satisfying Week

I got to run or swim every day this past week - yes! I have started doing some of my running at the gym, mostly to avoid heat and humidity, but it's also easier on my legs, so I may switch to more of that as time goes on. I have found with pregnancy that everything hurts just a bit more. But my plan of more short/medium runs seems to be working well for me, I've been able to keep my weekly mileage more consistent.

We did the Hunger Walk for the Greater Chicago Food Depository (raising funds for Ravenswood Community Services) on Saturday, all of us as a family, which was great fun (for me at least, The Dude said I could let him sleep in next year). This is the first year we've done this and I'd like to make a regular practice of it, along with running (or volunteering for) the Ravenswood Run each year, which is the other main fundraiser for RCS. We're looking forward to being able to volunteer at the RCS pantry and dinners as a family, but will need to wait a few years until Sweet Pea is old enough.

D & M came over on Saturday evening to play board games --- Buddy is in love with D, which is so fun to watch --- and I made strawberry upside-down cake. Didn't think to take a photo though. I used a recipe from Joy the Baker that I got from a fellow mother at Buddy's daycare, then tweaked it a little to our taste buds (less sweet, more whole grain). Totally yummy, so much so that not only is it going in the permanent file but The Dude has requested it as his birthday cake next week. Guess I'll have more opportunities to photograph it.

We have less than a week now before we head to Ohio and there's so much to do! I'm so excited though, I look forward to this trip every year.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Me? Why This?

The Dude is always asking me good questions, ones that make me think. Last night it was, "Why child abuse?" Meaning, why do I care so much about it? After briefly being stunned by that question (what? are you kidding me? after which I remembered that there are lots of injustices in the world that I am not particularly passionate about but other people are), I started to think.

I've been concerned about the foster care system for a long time, I don't even remember when that started. The idea that any child would not have a safe, loving home hurts my heart. But that concern stayed mostly in the abstract for a long time, until I became a mother, in fact.

Now, I know that I often present as patient and calm, and I am, often, at work and in public and when it is needed of me. But those who know me well also know that I have a horrible temper. Especially when tired or feeling overwhelmed. So I quickly saw, in those first months with a infant, that I certainly possess the capacity to hurt my child, verbally, physically, or emotionally. (Which just makes me so sad to think about that I'm crying as I write this.)

I also saw that what keeps me from hurting my child is not any special quality within myself, but a whole slew of resources that I have at my hands. First of all, the belief that hurting my child is wrong to begin with. The knowledge that doing so won't help any given situation and will likely make things worse. A set of strategies for what I can do if I am feeling so overwhelmed. A loving partner who can step in and help me when I am at my worst. Oh, and then all the many privileges of my place in society that shelter me from additional stressors: reliable shelter, food, water, safety, health. So how much harder is it for parents without those resources?

I am fortunate that through work I spend some time each year focusing on child abuse prevention awareness, bringing attention to those agencies in our city that work actively on the factors I mentioned above (as well as direct care for those abused). But I also knew, deep down, that there is abuse more serious than can be addressed through better support for families, or education, or counseling, and over time I became willing to open my eyes to this. Once I did I became aware of abuses far beyond what I could imagine, far beyond hurting a child out of anger or frustration or ignorance.

Children sold to brothels in southeast Asia. In indentured servitude in India and Central Asia, generation after generation. Child soldiers in Africa and across the globe. Photos of child sexual abuse traded and sold online in the US and Europe, parents inflicting unspeakable horrors on infants and children and swapping the pictures of it online.

What I have been learning about is so awful that my heart can only make sense of it in religious terms. Sin. Evil.

I realized quickly that in order to be able to make any kind of a difference I was going to need resources of my own. People to talk to and work with. A way of framing all this in a historical/sociological/religious context.

A deepened spiritual life.

(Of course the problem with a renewed prayer/study life is that it transforms you in ways you can't have planned on, but that's a topic for another time.)

What can any one person do, what can I do? I'm still at the beginning of all this, watching things unfold. But I can start to make a difference, to move in that direction. To keep educating myself and others. To support those people and organizations taking direct action. To start to write about it. To find ways at work to do more. To continue to pray for strength and guidance and an open heart and opportunities to be useful.
    And then, to the question, "Why me," I believe that, regardless of what happens when we die, heaven and hell are right here with us on earth, right now, and that we each have the ability to move our world closer to one or the other. With that in my heart, how can I do otherwise?


    If you'd like to learn more about any of these issues, here are some basic resources. I plan to put up a page with more in the next few weeks. And if you have any suggestions for additional resources, please let me know!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Notes on a Week of New Things

    I decided last week not to run the Chicago Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon in August after all (and also not to try to do any fundraising). I just don't know from week to week how I will feel, and I never liked the feel of that race anyway, too commercial. Instead I'll just keep my larger goal of training for mid-distance races in mind and try to keep my overall mileage (including swimming) as consistent and as high as possible for as long as possible, so that my heart and lungs stay strong.

    I've noticed that since then I'm actually getting more running in. By not having my long runs, which were really wiping me out, I'm able to run more often --- with more mileage overall. Guess that's just where I'm at these days.

    Also I've noticed that just in the last week it's gotten harder to run, I have to stop and take more breaks. Oh well, whatever works. I figure at some point things will flip and I'll end up doing more walking than running, but I'm hoping to stave that off as long as possible.

    I did have to skip my swim last Friday for work. I hate doing that, especially when the work I'm skipping it for is just mindless administrative tasks. Hrmph.

    I went to a movie in the theater for the first time in a year and a half last Saturday --- got invited by a friend to see "Bridesmaids" with her regular "chick-flick" movie-going companion. She had hesitated to ask me since she thought I only watched "sophisticated" movies, hah. (Mostly I watch art/music documentaries, comedies, and action - we saw the Guy Ritchie "Sherlock Holmes" a couple of days ago, for example.)

    However, while I very much enjoyed spending the evening with the two of them, I did realize that while I may not always watch serious movies, I am always serious about them. I had wanted to see "Bridesmaids" because I'm familiar with the actors and the director and producers, and was curious about how all those viewpoints would converge. It wasn't long into the movie before I thought, "I should be seeing this with The Dude," because I knew he would be looking for the same sorts of things I was, and has the same approach to movies that I do. (Not always the same opinions, hurrah, so our conversations are always interesting.) Once the movie ended and my companions GOT UP WHILE THE CREDITS WERE STILL ROLLING I realized I probably wasn't going to be able to discuss it at length with them. Which puts me in the position of having A LOT of opinions about this movie --- and having to wait until The Dude gets to see it at home. As I said, I very much enjoyed spending time with these two women and will probably even go see other movies with them from time to time --- just not ones I care a lot about. I'll save those for The Dude.

    Something else new I'm going to try... regular themed blog posts. I want to start posting my "week in review" entries over the weekend/Mondays (already behind schedule, I see), and then on Fridays post on some question/book/essay I've been thinking about. There are so many things that get me thinking that I just can't do a quick entry on --- maybe by choosing just one topic a week and then carving out some time each day to think and take notes about it I'll be able to get at least some of these thoughts down. I've been struggling all spring with how to write about some of these things I've been reading, I need to figure out some way of doing it.

    Never fear, cute pictures of my kid and random stuff I find online will still make an appearance. Here's one for spring.

    For once not trying to "bounce" the tulips.
    Happy first day of summer!

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Expanding Boundaries

    Today I like this article, on why black men should be feminists (written by a black man).

    My reading about exploitation of youth/children has led me to read more deeply about 18-19th century slavery and the civil rights movement, so I would say, much like the author eventually came to see how oppression of women affects him, I'm also coming to a deeper understanding of racism and how it perpetuates itself in ways I wouldn't have thought were specifically "racist". All these forms of injustice tie together --- we come the larger question of human injustice through our own personal touchpoints.

    Thanks to Blue Milk for posting the article.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    And Another One

    Tee, hee, hee.

    Oh, Funny

    I think I am actually more of an adult by now than this post suggests, but I still find this incredibly funny, especially the end: Why I'll Never Be An Adult.

    Read her stuff! (Oh, except she swears as much as I do, so be forewarned.)

    (Added 6/16/2011) No, no, this is the one you must read: God of Cake.

    All about a small child's efforts to get cake.

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    Notes on Another Week

    This has been a kind of frustrating week. It started off with the drain on our tub no longer, well, draining, to the point where we couldn't even leave it dripping for our cat (the only way he'll drink, which is a whole other ongoing frustration). Lots of bailing out the tub, and an upset cat. (Who shows his upset by waking people (me) up and by puking, this week on my desk. Twice.) The Dude showered at the gym, I "showered" in our kitchen sink, and Buddy, thank goodness, had water days at school, so we didn't have to bathe him.

    During this same time we also had our string of absurdly hot days. Enough said.

    Lots of little annoyances and needy people at work, my ankle hurts, I had my four-month checkup and have gained more weight than I thought possible, and I didn't get as much done on my day off as I hoped to (I never do).

    On the upside, however...

    I am sleeping better if still not enough.

    I am swimming better (I was struggling with the change in center of gravity and the sudden slo-o-wness of everything, more so than with running) --- I have adjusted, gotten into a rhythm, and have been able to start adding distance again.

    With the morning sickness basically over (hallelujah!), I can focus more on eating better (and less).

    I have started chipping away at my personal to-do list, now that I've given up on trying to get anything done in the evening or weekends and am going ahead and taking occasional days off of work just for that purpose.

    The baby and I are healthy, and, at the moment, Buddy is at least interested in the idea of a baby --- he seems to think it will be a sister.

    And, as if The Dude needed any more proof of being The Best Husband Ever, on the third day of our heat wave, when the apartment had just filled up with hot heavy air and all the fans couldn't help, the same day I had scheduled to stay home and sort through the closet in Buddy's room, I came home from the pool (delaying my return since it was actually nicer outside than I knew it would be inside the apartment) to find that he had INSTALLED THE AIR CONDITIONER IN BUDDY'S ROOM. Wow.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    ... Or Maybe Not

    A few days ago I wrote about about perhaps being able to set aside my continuing study of child abuse and sexual exploitation, or at least during non-work hours, now that there is movement happening around it at work...

    And then I just had to use birthday money to buy this book and stayed up late reading it...

    And I had to write The Night Ministry and ask about raising money for their youth programs...

    And I think I may just be committed to this path despite myself.

    Not to get grandious or anything, but I feel a little like Jonah being sent to Nineveh, sulking included.