The Best Is Yet To Be: Thoughts From A Mom With A (partially) Empty Nest

File Aug 17, 12 10 12 PMWhen I dropped my daughter off at college – 7 hours away from home – last week, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  Pride – about all that she has accomplished in her short 18 years. Sadness – about the change that we are experiencing. Excitement – about all that she has in store for her in the next 4 years and in her lifetime. Worry – about whether she will be ok and make the right choices.  Joy  – about the choice that she made about where to attend college being the perfect choice for her. Fear – about the unknown. Panic – about whether I’ve taught her enough, so that she can survive at college without me. All these emotions have been building over her last months of high school and this summer. I’ve joked with a few of my friends who are also sending their first-born off to college that there should be a support group for this situation.  We are all so emotional and nervous and, really, just sad.  About little things. About big things. About giving up control. About whether we have taught our kids enough.

What is she going to do when she’s sick? One of my favorite things about being a mom has been when my kids are sick.  Not because I enjoy seeing them puking or feverish or in pain.  Of course that part hurts my heart. But because when they are sick they need me, and I am able to nurture them and make their sickness feel a teeny bit less awful, in the way that only a mom can. They need me to get a puke bucket, a cool wash cloth, the thermometer, a sip of water, a sympathetic ear.  So what is she going to do when she gets the flu at college and I am 7 hours away and not able to help her in the way that I’m used to helping her?

How will I know she is safe? I’m a worrier. I can’t help it. I imagine the worst and tend to overreact about things. I have my kids wake me up when they get home from work or going out because even though I fall asleep, it’s not a good sleep until I know they are home safe. I’m also extremely punctual and expect the same from others. So when my kids are supposed to be home at 10:00 and it’s 10:01, I become anxious and convinced they’ve been in a terrible accident. When they arrive at 10:02, I feel an enormous sense of relief.  Every single time. So how will I know that she is safe at college, when I am 7 hours away and she can’t wake me up to tell me she is ok?

What is she going to do when she gets overwhelmed and stressed out by the difficulties of college? When your child lives with you it’s easy to see when they are struggling with school or life stuff.  When that happens it’s easy to address the issue – to suggest that she take a break, that she talk to a teacher, that she study in a different way, etc. (not always easy to solve the issue, but easy to acknowledge it’s there and offer solutions on how to help her deal with it). The challenges, stress and uncertainty that she will face at times in college will be huge – unlike any that she has experienced so far. So how will I be able to help her when she is 7 hours away and when I won’t necessarily know that she is struggling?

How will I be ok without her here? I’m divorced – we divorced when she was in her early teens – and I think there is a different bond between moms and daughters when there is a divorce. Post-divorce there is a lot of heavy stuff for parents and kids to deal with: the emotions involved in the breakup of a marriage; the challenges and emotions in kids splitting time between mom’s home and dad’s home and being separated on holidays; the fear and uncertainties and excitement in forming new love relationships.  As she’s matured, my daughter has become more than just a child to me. She’s become a confidante, a friend, an advisor. We communicate with each other every day – in person or via text or social media. We shop together – she’s the one who went with me a few weeks ago to pick out my wedding dress. When I want someone to eat dinner with, she’s always up for popovers from Hazellewood or sweet rice from Rojo. When I am excited about something or sad about something, she’s the first to know.   So how will I be ok without her here?

As I sit here and try to figure out why I am sad about her leaving to college, I think what it boils down to, for me, is that I am afraid of the change and impact that her leaving will have on MY life, not on hers.  And really, I think this is pretty normal.  Change is hard.  Whether you are an 18 year old going off to your freshman year at college, or a 45 year old mom who is looking at (partially) empty nest.  Change is scary and difficult.  But I need to remind myself that change is also exciting and necessary and good. In changing, we open ourselves up to new possibilities, new relationships, new experiences and new adventures. In change, we adapt and grow in ways that strengthen us and make us better individuals.  I gave my daughter a framed quote for graduation, with what I thought was the perfect saying for her at that time.  “The Best Is Yet To Be”.  It’s true. Even though things will change for her, for me and for those that love her, the best is yet to be!


Happy and Alive!

Comfort zone

I run because I love it.  I love the me time.  I love the endorphins. I love the effect it has on my body.  I love the mental boost that it gives me.

And it’s so comfortable. And familiar.

The last 6 months have, for me, been all about doing the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. Reaching out and making new friends. Fat biking. Group spin classes. Spin classes on my own.  My first ever bike race. Biking on a lake.

And in stepping out of my comfort zone, I’ve been fulfilled – physically, mentally and emotionally – in ways that have made me feel so happy and alive.

My first bike race this weekend was humbling. I’m used to being decent – even above average – at running.  With this race I was literally at the back of the pack. I finished 83 out of 87 (and a ton of the 30k racers beat me – even though I was only doing 20k). It was single track in the snow. It was my first time not biking with Scott (he raced the longer distance).  I was scared when I was lining up at the start line. I got really tired 1/2 way through it and started getting struggling on the single track – turns, ups AND downs. I felt like I was slowing people up (I was – there were times there was literally a line of like 15 people behind me).  But despite this, I felt happy during the race.  Happy to be doing something that was a challenge for me.  Happy to be experiencing something new. Happy to be healthy.  Happy to be outside enjoying the winter. Happy to be alive.

I’m still loving running.  I’m in full swing for Blue Ridge Marathon training.  It’s going well and I’m loving it. But learning to step out of my comfort zone and try new things has made my life so much more full. It’s all good.

And speaking of LOVE, I’m engaged! Scott asked me to marry him this weekend!  I could not be more excited and thankful and content. We share the same outlook about life and value the same things – our kids, our health, endurance activities. We have fun and adventure with everything we do.  I’m feeling really really happy and alive right now!




2015: And That’s A Wrap!

2015 is (almost) officially in the books.

Some runners might say it sucked.  I was gearing up for Blue Ridge Marathon and got a hernia in February and then got ANOTHER left tibial stress fracture (reaction, actually) in March.  So I spent March, April and May not running.  And then I spent the rest of the year very, very gradually rebuilding and healing. It was the first year in 10 (+) years that I didn’t do a single race.  Not even a 5k!

So if you are measuring the year in terms of races run, 2015 was a complete bust.

But if you are measuring the year in terms of figuring stuff out – about yourself and your place in this world – then 2015 was a resounding success.  Here’s what I learned in 2015:

  • Seeing places you love (Seattle), and new places (Portland/Eugene), with your almost adult kids is far better than any running trip!
  • Adventures with the one you love are The Best!  [Cedar Key, Kauai, Leadville, Hayward (x 3) with Scott]
  • It’s not always about me.  Sometimes supporting the one you love, at the thing he loves (Leadville 100 MTB), is enough. More than enough.
  • There is almost nothing better than being well, after not being well (and not realizing it) for too long.  Since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Disease in September, I am feeling a MILLION times better in so many ways.  I have energy.  The moodiness and anxiety are gone.  I’m back to normal weight. My stress fractures have healed. My brain fog has lifted.   This – figuring out my health issues – has been the best part of 2015!
  • There are things that are just as fun  – and good for you – as running. Fat biking! 🙂 I am so thankful for Scott’s encouragement, guidance and gifts to me, which have allowed me to find an additional endorphin – and social – outlet.
  • Passion for running can build new friendships that will last a lifetime. My experience at Minnesuing Acres Women’s Running Retreat was a highlight of my year for sure. 
  • Treasure every minute.  My daughter is a senior.  She’ll be away at college  – TBD, but far away from Minnesota – next year.  My son is a junior.  He’ll be away the next year.  It’s sneaking up on me too fast. It’ll sound dorky – but I find myself looking at them an extra few seconds when they say or do something particularly funny or memorable – so that I can attempt to slow down time and file away the image they just created into my memory forever.

If 2016 is half as good as 2015 was for me, I’ll be incredibly blessed.


What’s your Ikigai?

Yesterday I attended a thought-provoking presentation called “Happy to 102: The Best Kept Secrets to a Long, Healthy and Happy Life”.

How old do you think the oldest person ever lived to be?  122 years, 164 days!  Can you imagine???  Here’s what wikipedia has to say about Jeanne Calment, the oldest person, thus far.  Isn’t she cute?  Some things I found interesting about her:  She smoked from age 21 – 117 (though supposedly only 2 a day); She biked til age 100.  She attributes her longevity to olive oil, port wine and eating 2.2 pounds of chocolate a week!  Even though SHE lived to be so old (a combination of lifestyle and genetics), her only daughter died at age 35 from pneumonia, her husband died at age 73 after eating a dessert with spoiled cherries and her only grandchild died at age 36 in a car accident.  So this confirms in my mind the “If not now, then when?” thing I just blogged about – because you never know.

One of the things that apparently extends life is having what the Japanese call “ikigai”, which translated means “a reason for being”.  Essentially – why do you wake up in the morning? A person’s ikigai can be different – related to work, family, a hobby, whatever.  If you have ikigai, you are likely to live longer. Link to a 2008 Psychology Today study on Ikigai and Mortality.  This doesn’t seem too surprising.  To me, people who have an ikigai are probably more motivated, positive people, which probably translates into a healthier lifestyle, which extends your life (typically).  What’s your ikigai?

The take-aways from the presentation were really sort of common sense.  That in order to live a healthier, longer life, one should:

  • Reduce stress.
  • Be active.  Exercise.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Drink a glass of wine daily.  (Yipeeeeeee!)
  • Have a thriving family.
  • Have faith.  Belonging/connecting with a religion/faith apparently extends life by years.

There was also an online quiz that you could take to predict the age you will live to (barring accidents, etc).  I am happy to report that I am not even 1/2 way done living yet.  Woot!  I’m expected to live to 89 years old, based on my current lifestyle etc.  The age calculator gives you feedback at the end of it, based on the answers that you provided, as to what you could do to extend your life.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it basically told me “Holy crap!  You eat way too many sweets” (I answered that I eat 2 sweets daily – only because they didn’t have an option for 3 or more daily!).  It told me that I could extend my life by one year by cutting back on sweets and maybe only eating one sweet 5 days a week.   No thanks – living to age 90, instead of 89, but having to limit my sugar intake isn’t worth it.  Besides, remember Jeanne Calment ate 2.2 POUNDS of chocolate a week and lived to 122! So I’ll take my chances!

Here is my recipe for a happy, healthy and long  life:

  • Run.
  • One glass of red wine daily.
  • 1 – 3 treats daily.  🙂
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • If you aren’t satisfied with something in your life, do something to change/fix/improve it.  It ain’t gonna change/fix/improve itself and life is too precious to be unhappy.
  • Live, instead of just existing!

If Not Now, Then When?

if not now

Stumbled on this quote today.  Love it.  It pretty much sums up the way I’ve felt about important/major things in my life the last several years – work changes, relationship changes, even taking the plunge to run my first marathon.  But it also reminds me about the way I’ve felt about the little things in my life (which I’ve come to realize are arguably just as important as the major things in life, if not more so) the past several months.  Making sure my kids know I love them no matter what.  Reaching out to friends and loved ones who are struggling. Forgiving. Moving on.  Being at peace. Doing small things to take away stress from my clients. Going for a run even when life seems too busy to do so.  Being more patient with the kids.

I’ve also thought about the quote “If not now, then when?” lately in the context of Zach Sobeich – the 18 year old from Stillwater, MN who died last month after suffering from osteosarcoma for just a few years.  I said it before, but I love his song Clouds, which he wrote as a way to express himself to his girlfriend Amy.  If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a favor and watch the Clouds video on YouTube. Wow!  It’s up to 7 million views on You Tube! I downloaded Clouds from iTunes the week he died and played it over and over, and literally would tear up (and, no, I didn’t know him personally) and need to turn the song off because it was so sad to me that someone so young, and with such promise, could die.  Since then, it’s become one of my favorite songs and I don’t think of it with sadness so much as I think of it as inspirational and a reminder that life is short and we need to embrace it.   I actually made it as my alarm on my phone and so the chimes and words by Zach wake me up every day.  They remind me to embrace life.  They remind me to live by “If not now, then when?”


Ok – this is a running blog.  What does any of this have to do with running?  Nothing, really. Except that these are the sorts of things I think about when I’m running.  And I have been LOVING my running the past months.  I’m super excited about training for Twin Cities.  Day 2 of training is in the books – another easy paced 10 miler providing lots of thinking time.  Speedier stuff tomorrow.  Wheeeeee!

Be Not Afraid

Balance Heart And Mind

“Fear defeats more people than any one thing in the world.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am 41 years old.  Not necessarily old, but not young either.  I’m divorced.  I’m the parent of two teenagers.  I own my own law firm.  I’m old  – and experienced – enough to know that Emerson’s quote is so, so true.  If I had let fear rule, I would not be where I am now.  And I know that I am in the place that I’m supposed to be, that I am meant to be.  Yes – I’ve made mistakes along the way.  But those mistakes have been an important part of my life and have shaped who I am and where I am today.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because the alternative – to not move forward, to not take a risk, to maintain the status quo because it’s easier – is to let fear defeat you and to not fully live.  And so when I hear someone say that they choose not to move forward because of fear of complication, it saddens me.

What does this have to do with running?  Nothing.  It has to do with life junk I’m trying to process.

Though since this is a running blog, I’ll make it be about running too.  Because I’ve found you can relate almost any life experience to running and make it significant.  And fear – in running – can, and will, defeat you.  I’ve found this to be true in about 9 of my 12 marathons.  When I started to feel aches/pains, when I got tired and got passed by pacers or other runners, when I became afraid of pushing myself through difficult times – I was defeated.  My best, most successful, marathons have been when I have not let fear win – when I have tackled the difficulties and complications that the marathon threw at me with both my head and my heart.  That is the way to run successfully. 

That is the way to live successfully.  Not fully with the head.  Nor fully with the heart.  With a combination of head and heart.  Life is too short to live in fear.  

Things To Remember

Random things I need to remember when I run Phoenix Marathon in two weeks:

I’m ready for this.  I have put in LOTS of hard work this time around (not like I don’t every time, but this time I’ve really listened to what Coach MG has said, I’ve paid more attention to “the other stuff” – like pilates, my mental game and even nutrition).  I’m ready. 🙂


I’m not going to die.  When things get tough in the marathon, I have a tendency to give up. Mentally and physically.  I start to imagine problems.  Classic example:  Chicago marathon last year – I was convinced something was wrong with my right quad, so I slowed (walked) it in.  In retrospect, I think I was being a wimp.  So in Phoenix when it gets tough – and it will – I need to remember that I’m not going to die and I need to toughen up and run!

not going to die

If I get off pace for a mile or two, don’t freak out.  I know it may come as a shock to you all, but I have a tendency to overreact and freak out about things.  In previous marathons when I run a mile 10 or 20 seconds slower than planned – or when I see a pace group pass me – I freak out and convince myself that I’m screwed and not going to meet my goal time. In Phoenix I’m not going to let myself panic like this.  A mile or two or even three slower than goal time is OK.  I can still get back on track and meet my goal time.  And if I don’t, really in the grand scheme of things, who cares?

freak out

Smile and have fun.  I love running.  I love running marathons.  I love running marathons in new places.  And I love running marathons in new places where I have a face that I love on the sidelines supporting me.  So at the end of the day, I need to remember to smile and have fun. 🙂


Running and Living Centered (with the occasional F-Bomb)

On being centered, from my Melody Beattie meditation book entry today:

Learn what it feels like to be centered, to be balanced.  Learn what it feels like to be off center.  Learn to tell the difference.  Then, learn to come back to center as quickly as possible.  Quiet. Relaxed.  Feeling right about what you are doing.  On track.  In harmony.  At peace. In balance.  No turbulent emotions racing through you.  No disorganized thoughts clamoring through your head.  Your body feels aligned, and you feel connected to it. . . Your heart is open.  And so is your mind.

Love it!

For life, it is fitting.  When I look at where I was a year ago, it was the OPPOSITE of centered.  I was out of harmony, out of balance, in turmoil and a crazy mix of emotions.  What a difference a year makes.  Although I certainly have my moments, I feel like now I’m centered more often than not.  Over the past year of being on my own, my priorities have shifted.  I’ve slowed down.  I’ve put things in perspective.  I don’t sweat the small stuff.  I’ve realized what matters and what doesn’t.  I’ve grown up.  And become a child.  Which might not make sense to you, but if you’ve been there it will.  Being centered – living with and in peace and harmony – is how life should be lived.

For running, it is also fitting.  A marathoner needs to be centered to excel.  Marathoners need to relax, listen to their body, not run with wild/mixed emotions.*  Marathoners need to be completely connected  – mind, heart and body.  Being centered is how marathons should be run.

*This is NOT to say that a marathoner cannot drop the occasional F-Bomb.  Indeed, I firmly believe a good F-Bomb gets an endurance athlete focused on the task at hand and motivates a marathoner in ways that 100% free love/positive energy can’t.  So let ‘er rip.

Moving Forward

Today life stuff made me NEED to run in the worst way.  I was nervous that the legs wouldn’t cooperate and wouldn’t be adequately recovered from the Chicago Marathon.  But they were ok.  Not great.  The usual post-marathon tightness and heaviness.  But they good enough to get me out for almost 5 slow miles.  And those 5 miles were JUST what I needed because I was mixed about packing up 13 years of memories at our family cabin and, finally, moving forward with that part of the untangling/divorce.  During those 5 miles, I reflected.  I remembered.  I grieved.  I cried.  I processed.  And by the end I was thankful.  Thankful for every second of my past because it got me to my present and my present is really, truly The Best.  And it is where my whole family needs to be.   And, I was thankful that I am healthy and able to run, because running was SO needed today.

Today running allowed me to work through my emotions and instead of leaving me feeling sad and remembering my tears and the gloomy weather today, I will be able to focus on remembering the fun times the kids and their friends, and our family, had at the cabin.

Today’s run on shore of Mille Lacs

Good memories on the shore of Mille Lacs

Moving forward.  Because that’s what life is about.  And really, truly, thankful for every step that I am able to run.

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