I started running again a couple of weeks ago. I let go of the Shoulds and the Rules I’d constructed around my life and let myself have 20 minutes, three nights a week. Because I need exercise to feel good and I have been denying myself that because there are other, more important things to do. Because I need oxygen to feel good, but I have denied myself that, too, because there are other, more important things to do. I know I need to follow the rhythms of my body, after a day of following the rhythms (often conflicting) of two little people, to feel good, but I don’t let myself because there are things—an endless list of things—to do. I was being self destructive and eating to relax because I can eat while I do at least half of the other things I need to do.

Need. To do.

So I started running. And the first night I went, I relaxed and let go and tried to feel the night and the lights and the air and the PAIN of running after almost a year wash over me. My body has not been my own since I grew Peanut six years ago. And I took one step in getting it back.

At the midpoint of my teeny tiny run I saw a woman laughing near the window of her living room, the walls of which were decorated with exotic percussion instruments. She had her arms over her head, and she was dancing and playing some bell/drum thing. [Let’s pretend I was going so fast I couldn’t quite place the instrument; more likely I was trying to be in the moment and not stare at the neighbors.] And I thought, “That’s what I want in my life.” She looked happy. And comfortable in her body. And she was having fun with music in her home in a cozy neighborhood that I’ve loved for years.

As I ran by she saw me. And stared. Really saw me and stopped to think about it. It was probably only four seconds, but in my head it was forty. And she was thinking, according to my self-doubting Critic brain, “What is that woman doing? Is she really out running and ruining your knees on asphalt, alone, when there is life to be lived? Wow. I can’t imagine.” In my brain she is much more gentle with me than I am, because she probably should have thought “pathetic,” “delusional,” and “clearly unbalanced.”

I kept running, but seeing how this woman spent her 20 minutes this evening had me thinking about how my rejection of my rules, of my shoulds, needed to go even further. I needed to be drumming and dancing and singing. I needed to be happy. I needed to reorganize my priorities and balance my life and don only what’s most important…well, it simply wasn’t enough to work all day, without a break, then run and then write or edit and then clean and then prepare and then start all over again. It was just not enough. I am not Enough. And she’s the one who told me that with her look.

[jump forward one week]

Today after school Peanut and Butter and I went to a playground with two other families. We liked each other, we wanted to see if our kids could be friends, and we wanted some adult company while our kids burned through their after-school energy. So we talked as I chased Butterbean through a creek and across rocks and up hills and after dogs. And when I mentioned where we lived, one of the other moms told me where she lived. I told her that her house was on my new running route.

She looked at me and said, “I knew that was you I saw running. I was in my living room acting like an idiot and I recognized you.”

And there it was. She stared because she knew me. And from that recognition I read judgement and pity and superiority. I told her I thought she was looking because I was pathetic. And now that she knew I had seen her, she quickly tried to couch her reckless abandon as silliness and lunacy when all I had seen was joy and humanity.

The rules and the shoulds and the inferiority and the judgement are there, waiting to sabotage. Waiting to say it’s not enough, whatever it is.

Maybe, every once in a while, we can remember whose rules they are. Because if we’re not Enough we can change, and when we are Enough, we need to see it.

Maybe we could see into our own living spaces with the eyes of a gentle, tired, flawed human and see who we really are.

I’m pretty sure it’s Enough.


(This post is being simulcast over at Dump Your Frump, where they believe whatever you do is more than enough.)


Found this daily roundup and am grateful. I wish I had time to agglomerate all the best news from the week. Happy that New Communities Daily by Genius Now Blog is doing this for us. My favorite article featured? The Salon response to the hysteria all over the Interwebs last week when Oxford University’s PR office issued a request that all press releases follow AP style. Serial-comma purists everywhere freaked, thinking that Oxford University was dropping its eponymous comma. Passion, tirades, and hilarity for grammar nerds ensued, for it’s rare that we have opportunities for punctuation smugness outside of The Blog of Unnecessary Quotations Marks.

What else caught my eye? A disturbing article about the misinformation from Japan about the Fukushima nuclear disaster. I’ve already read a report that my local dairy and produce has radioactive materials from the nuclear plant’s meltdown. I don’t know what we can do about local, organic food that tests high for radiation. Buy McD*n*ld’s instead? Hell no. Processed C*nAgra crapola? Of course not. So I feel helpless. And I can’t help thinking about the pain of generations of Japanese parents as I fear for all of us, especially our little dudes.

After that downer, I can tell you something that made me smile this week, though. A fabulous Saturday morning, getting my favorite breakfast next to my favorite random art (yes, that’s a hand-knit bike-rack cozy) and tromping through our favorite creek. Oh, so much smiling that morning. Bread and cheese and yarn bombs and water and lichens and dogs and sunshine and kids. Doesn’t get better, y’all.

What else? Well, there’s the debut of this. A couple of my friends were tired of feeling lost and frumpy and frustrated with their jobs. [Note: *feeling* that way. They are smart and funny and awesome and supportive. So their itching to use their skills for more than reading riot acts and writing lists of house rules I completely understand, but their sense of frumpiness was all in their heads. I thought they were 20 kinds of amazing before their new venture.] Now they’re standing tall in the name of replacing our yoga pants with real clothes. Go subscribe to their blog…it’s new and content is coming fast and furious.

What I dig about Dump Your Frump is the insistence that whatever is important to you can stay important to you, even when parenting (or work of any stripe) dominates your every waking moment. You do matter, and you can take little steps to remind yourself of that every day. The delightful ladies behind Dump Your Frump haven’t inspired me to care about makeup or clothes, but they have goaded me into shaking off my intellectual burlap sack. I have lists and lists in my daily notebook of priorities, as though writing down what’s important will make me cleave to my passions. Hasn’t worked. I still just have lists that make me feel like an underachiever. But Dump Your Frump is making me look at those lists…HARD…and commit to them. Writing. Reading. Exercise. More writing. Doctorate. Novel. Hard work, belief in self, meditation. Okay, fine…maybe some EWG-approved mascara and lip gloss. Because the little things really do make a difference.

now that's dumping your frump!