The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Waffling Part 2

When last I wrote: I also peed. A little, tiny bit, but still. Pee. So I kept running, until...

And so as I rounded the corner and began running in earnest, I realized just how raspy my throat was and a sense of panic almost set in as I wondered how long until I go water. I faltered, my steps slowed and I lunge walked, not wanting to stop, but also not wanting to push too hard too soon.

I lifted my head and saw a car and immediately thought: Water! But it was even better:

Sean and the girls were camped out with water and hugs. I ran to them, grabbed water and knelt down to hug each of them. Fin didn't want me to go on, or if I was going to, she wanted to come. Other runners giggled and called out hello as I ushered her back to the van, blew kisses and kept running.

Not sure if Ave was crossing her fingers hoping I'd make it or what.

My gait was longer and my chest was lighter as I ran, the girls' calls of "Go mama," and "Run, win the race" shepherded me on and I kept a respectable pace as I forged through the next mile and a half of curves and high-traffic roads (read: Lot's of people watching us run from their cars, porches and gas pumps.)

Sean had hooked me up with his iPhone and some magic Nike product or another which was letting me know my pace and how far I'd gone. Simple math kept me knowing how far I had to go, which was nice. The spread was pretty even with the head of the pack keeping consistent with their insane 6 minute-mileness and those making up the caboose doing about a 14 minute mile. I kept myself right in the middle and honestly, just tried not to vomit or have pee run visibly down my leg.

At one point at about mile 5 I said to Tara, "So, I think I can officially say that I have peed," to which she replied very unimpressed, "It isn't a good race unless you pee." It was at that precise moment when I knew that I loved her.

The iPhone stopped tracking me 41 minutes into the run, which meant that for 18 minutes I was on my own, off the grid so to speak. It was agony. Lesson: use the conveniences and luxury technology affords you, you still sweat, but you don't fear.

We ran through a mile and a half of neighborhood, I remember thinking how odd it must be to be going about your day and seeing this motley group of running nuts zip their way through. As the checkpoints with cheerful teenagers calling out "Good job" grew closer together I knew I was nearly done. I started running faster and I smiled. I had started the race torn between thinking I could and knowing I couldn't.

The front of the school was packed with people. I dug my feet in more with each step as early-finishers cheered me on. The final stretch was a curved driveway right in front and as I kicked to the finish I thought of nothing but doing.

Completing a 10 k race.
Making it up that f*cking hill.
Being brave even though I was scared.
My girls watching me do it.

Sean met me at the end and smiled as FInley leapt into my arms. I held her tight as the big girls danced around me singing, "You won, you won the race!" My legs could barely hold me, my arms were weak, my pants were wet and I couldn't remember ever having felt so exquisitely happy.

I began to cry. He had said, "I want you to have that too," and I did. It was bliss.

Go do something for you.
I want you to have that too.
Come back and tell me about it, I know you can do it.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Waffling Part 1

This is the first in a 2 part series of Saturday, the day I ran my first 10K.

We were gathered in our kitchen quickly sharing a bite before heading to Saratoga for Open Mic Night at Caffe Lena. "Wanna do a 10 K with me this Saturday?" my friend asked me out of the blue Thursday night. I experienced a robust internal sputter, followed by the familiar burn of insecurity washing over my face as the sides of my mouth twitched and I said, "Sure!" I felt anything but.

Let's be clear about something, some months ago I agreed to do the2010 Danskin Triathalon when Millie asked. I did not, however, begin training. There was kindergarten to start, preschool, dueling schedules and one car. And it was finally hot. Ugh.

I thought that I would get to the gym, but that didn't happen until last week. I just kept going about life the way that I do— choosing to walk rather than ride, skip rather than step, run rather than walk and most of the time doing it with at least one daughter in my arms. As Tara's question hung in the air all I could think was, "You have to start somewhere." And then I was overcome with yearning to have something, to have a thing that I did, a talent beyond parenting or fixing unexpected crises with glue sticks, saved ribbon and MacGyver-like confidence.

"Tell me more," I said as I leaned forward. She told me that it was a 5 or 10k in Hudson Falls to benefit Operation Santa. Soon after the conversation turned to other things and before I knew it the night was over. Tara and I had not confirmed anything and I wasn't sure whether I should do it and, if I did, would it be the 5 or the 10.

Sean responded first with incredulity and next with annoying supportiveness. I was ready to take the out, but he kept saying that I should do it, that the confidence boost would be amazing for me. "I loved getting to sing, to face down the trepidation and do it. I want you to have that too." Trust me when I say did everything from claiming it would interfere with naptime to saying I didn't want to. It was decided.

Saturday morning I got to the registration table and was overwhelmed by the nicheness of it— a charity run, the entrants were all bannered with tee shirts of past races, endorsements from area running clubs or with the bright colored uniforms of high school cross country teams. I felt old, out of place and as if I was going to make an ass out of myself. Looking at the entry form I took a deep breath and made a momentous check next to the number ten.

"Did you get a course map?" Sean asked me. "A what?" I stammered, "I. Um, no. I, shit. This was a waste. I can't do this." He looked at me and I swear he took a breath for me, pale blue eyes facing mine, the picture of calm. "I'll go in and get one," I said. Everything changed in that moment.

We got the map and proceeded to drive the route. The hills were huge, the wide expanses of farmland seemed at once impossibly long and surmountable. When we got back to the start I got out to stretch and Sean took the girls to a playground. I fretted about this thing and that, comparing myself to the other runners there, but after Tara gave me a squeeze I shrugged my shoulders and thought, "What the hell? I'm here."

The start of the run was insane, 120 or so people in the 10k and another 220+ for the 5k all crammed together on a two lane road. We ran together for about a block and a half, I just channeled the Lion King and tried to get as far ahead and to the side of the pack as possible to avoid death. Before I knew it I was on a sweetly curving road that led into what can only be described as inaugural 10K torture. It was steep, long and wide open so that walking didn't seem an option without the sensation of total defeat. I ran, step after step, breath after breath. I crested the hill and realized that the land I thought was flat, was in fact not. I climbed some more and then turned the corner literally and defiantly to strike out onto the first flat stretch.

I also peed. A little, tiny bit, but still. Pee. So I kept running, until...


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Anissa

This post is cross-posted from Aiming Low as extraordinary traffic slows that site.

Hope for Anissa

Tue, Nov 17, 2009News

As you may have heard, Anissa, our beloved friend and leader here at Aiming Low, suffered a stroke on Tuesday afternoon. She is in the hospital right now, in the ICU.

More than anything, Anissa needs your prayers and positive thoughts but to the many people in the Atlanta area who have offered help to the Mayhew family, we have set up a form for you to fill out so we can have everyone’s contact info in one place (please be assured your information will be kept private).

Things that would be helpful right now are gift cards to restaurants and gift cards to the movies or to Blockbuster (to help keep the kids’ occupied) and gas/hotel gift cards for her extended family. We will be setting up a PO Box on Wednesday and posting the address here along with any updates. Please don’t send anything to the hospital or the Mayhew home. If you have questions, please email

We ask that you please respect the Mayhew family’s privacy by NOT calling the hospital and we thank you all SO MUCH for your outpouring of love and support for Anissa and her family.
With thanks and love,

The Aiming Low Team

Praying for you, babe!



Fitness without sweat

We rejoined the YMCA over the weekend. I can honestly say right now that as I type this I am moaning. Oh, the nuanced pain of unused muscles. I am discovering expanses of self that hurt as never before, the cruelest part being the surprise as a movement draws a new ache. It's good, just makes everything from lifting my coffee mug to scaling the stairs a spectacle of "oohs" and jerks that make the girls throw back their heads with amused delight.

I'm not bent on writing about working out though, it's something else. It is using another set of muscles that has helped me rediscover the kind of high I get from overcoming the "I don't want to work out malaise" and actually making it to the gym, track or whatever and loving it. I visited my dusty, old pal Bloglines and pointed myself in some neglected, but beloved sites.

I popped over to the sites of old friends, collaborators, inspirations, models and amazing women. I read entry after entry, followed the trails of commenters to sites of people I have admired from afar and to others I hadn't known. Then I found my way to sites I should have been keeping on my radar.

It took time and had been something I'd been avoiding. The pressure to achieve traffic numbers, make comments, establish ties— it all became too much and something for which I was not feeling driven. Silly me, I'd forgotten how a 15 degree shift in perspective could make me pee my pants laughing, or that the musicality of another voice could bring me to tears and remind me of my blessings. I'd lost sight of the idea of belonging, forget "community" and other buzz words insinuating something more than place. Whether you are going about your day or turning the pages of a story, it comes down to how you feel.

My mom used to say, "It isn't that I don't like so and so, it's that I love seeing how this other person makes you light up." Have we all gotten so tied up in the numbers and rewards that we've forgotten the treasure of hearing a good yarn? Of nodding along as someone gives voice to something you've thought, but been afraid or unable to articulate?

I got my head out of my own way, and traveled to places that lifted my spirits, ignited my imagination and made me feel as if, "My god, I need to get back to living." When reading and commenting mimic life, when they are done in moderation, or according to appetite rather than dictate, they invigorate. So, go take a dip. Leave a comment, find inspiration, you'll be surprised how good it feels.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mad About My Man

I have been know to wax euphoric about being a mom. I've written reams on breastfeeding, the mom/dad equation, and milestones. I've shared what little wisdom I've gleaned from the journey of 2 to 5. I've achieved neither fame nor money for what I've done, but man, I've loved it. The friendships, the memories captured in adjectives and thoughts. It has felt like full-bodied preservation of my life so far, until the other night.

Sean has been getting together with two of his childhood friends. They sing, and as they do I writhe with self-loathing for not having that skill and butterflies for the hotness that is my husband singing crazy-sexy songs. Seriously, weak-in-the-knees, ready-to-release-cat-calls kinds of excitement. For my husband. Three kids, ten years, a business and a 100+ year old house and I have third-beer, second date giggles and rushes of longing.

That's nowhere in my archives. I have the odd post on love and fun, but as the crow feet spread ever wider and the tautness of my skin loses the fight, I am not giving the moments when we pulls me to him and kisses my neck and says, "You're more gorgeous than you were that first summer. My dream girl, Amanda."

That needs to be here, damnit. Which leads me to the other night, after weeks, months actually, of rehearsing they were heading out for an open mic night. I had known it was coming and was so deliciously familiar with the set list that I could mouth the words as they each sang their part, right down to when they'd shake the shakers and tap the tambourine. A series of calamities had occurred with our family and night-time sitter that made my going impossible. It hadn't seemed lie a big deal until they were getting ready to leave.

I was crestfallen. We had always found a way to balance parenting and partnering. We'd shoehorned date nights in and blurred post-dinner play and bedtime into prime time alone time and had been satisfied. I felt tremors of something that rocked me, an emotion I'd either suppressed or only just tasted for the first time: No. I want this. I want to do this for me with him.

It was embarrassing to feel a desire to shirk my duties, to quickly find someone to take the girls, but the truth was, I wanted to be with Sean. I wanted, if only for those 60 minutes, to go and be his girl. After the shame of that emotion slipped out the door with the guys, I rolled it around. So I wanted to be with my husband, the father of my girls.

Is that so bad? Is there some awful lesson in the girls seeing that I have a passion outside of my love for them? That beyond the breastfeeding and block-building, I have a side of me that smells like perfume and leather? That after getting married and having babies there are still nights that bring the sexy click of heels on hardwoods and the whiff of fallen leaves and aftershave as mom and dad head out and a babysitter bakes cookies and reads stories?

I think my desire to leave a legacy for the girls faltered in its focus, they need this side of mom and dad. The kissing and the laughter, the leaving and returning, to truly show them how beautiful their life and their family really was. The next time he plays, I'll be there. And I'll send texts to the girls and snap shots for the blog. And after, as they sleep upstairs, I'll dance with him in the kitchen before we tiptoe up to kiss them goodnight.


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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just beyond

Just beyond this photo waves a flag— on sunny days and in the darkest hours of the night, it is there.

Outside the border of every photo.
Along the edges of every memory.
A key I neither fought nor asked for is there for me to use.

I play with my kids, tuck myself into bed cuddled into the arms of my husband.

Today I am acutely aware of how much others have sacrificed so that I can have this life of mine.

I will remember. I will be grateful. I will give thanks. Today and beyond.



Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shuffles Evermore

She is all blessing, all the more so for how often I forget and remember anew.
Wrinkles over a nose that carries me back, reflections of ages I remember. Echoes of me, but better.
Her eyes defy description, wide and luminous one moment, sly and bottomless the next.
Her mouth a riddle, little dimples on either side and lips that purse and pucker, grin and scowl.
The sounds of her voice cast a robust shadow from throaty to thunderous and the feel of her skin on mine sends whispers to core. Whether nursing or scrapping, her touch resurrects the oneness of pregnancy, toes fluttering to hands over my belly, new beginnings and love-at-first-sight.

I don't know if this is the gift of being the last one, or if it is her. My Finley.

Tonight I sat on the floor after changing her diaper, her sisters were scampering about as Fin walked slowly toward the hall. Her pjs, a striped footy number that Briar picked out, was a little big, the legs bunching at her ankles and the sleeves hanging a bit too far. Her steps were a shuffles, little butt waggling, to keep up or push forward, it was hard to tell. Her pig tails were crooked, curls flipping this way and that. I watched her little hands stretch wide as she considered her next step.

This will be over so fast. No more footed pjs, no more pig tails or diapers. The certainty of it pulled at me and then she shuffled a step. And then another, and another. Still once again, I watched her, then she turned and smiled at me. She held my gaze for quite some time and then nodded.

Those shuffles, little outstretched fingers and crooked ringlets slipped inside, carrying the creak of a floorboard and shine of the hallway light. They're with me. Evermore.