Tag Archives: life

Postpartum Expectations from a Runner Girl – Reclaiming My Body Through the Onset of Emotions

26 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!

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Happy Weekend! Yay!!!

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Today I am 73 days postpartum. I was given the green light to start running, I mean training, for a fall marathon by my OB on July 11. It took a whole 8 weeks to be cleared to run after our baby girl debuted. But as you know I’m stubborn and determined so I began running the week-ish prior (hey, my doctor was on vacation and my appointment was delayed!)

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After having been patient for close to 40 weeks to meet my little rosebud, how on earth did doctors expect me to hold off from running for 2 whole months? I ran my entire pregnancy and then they put a moratorium on it?! Not okay.

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Anyway, I took it easy with doctor approved light cardio. I engaged in walking, the elliptical and mini weights beginning at the 4 week postpartum mark. I started running again around 7 weeks (I may be a liar). But I’m not lying about taking it easy. It wasn’t until July 11th that I started to run farther and faster. 

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I wanted to run farther and faster because shoot, I have had my eyes set on a fall marathon. But I also wanted to run farther (not faster) to engage my fat burning furnace to melt the lingering pounds that made themselves home to my thighs, hips, stomach and back. Maybe in my breasts, too, who am I kidding. I definitely don’t need the weight there. If I had a say in its allocations I’d rather see that weight in my boot-tay. Am I right!?! (Squats all day don’t do me any favors…I’m just saying.)

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But because I’m not on an episode of Botched I can’t have anyone rearrange my ASSets how I see fit. I’ve been working hard reclaiming my assets through sweat. Today, more than ever before, I have been focused unremittingly on my core. I have not only engaged in core circuit training, but also legs and booty circuit training, and now, marathon training!!!!!!!

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I’ve been feeling ah-mazing! I feel like I can come back and come back stronger and faster.

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But before feeling ah-mazing I was feeling really discouraged. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying – my having a baby girl has been the greatest gift ever, but being forced to “recover” and recover longer than normal because of a c-section really shook me. That on top of the imminent (and grave emotional) loss of our mother. My little family was paralyzed by pain and forced to accept the bitter dichotomy of life – birth and death. Anyway, that’s another matter… What I’m saying is I was active my entire pregnancy and then boom – no sweat sessions were prescribed for 6-8 weeks. I had to handle my emotions, both postpartum and grief, without running. That was brand new territory for me.

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Speaking of new, I was also a brand new mom who was losing a mother (my fiancé’s). The wave of emotions felt like oil and vinegar – how could one be so blissfully happy with grief and despair rising in the horizon. They didn’t mix well. The onset of emotion overtook me (us). We found ourselves faced with the highs and lows of the reality we were in. We felt guilty for being happy then guilty for being enveloped with grief.

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We traveled by plane 7 days postpartum to visit Andy’s mom before she passed. We had begged for time to spare us so that she could meet her newest granddaughter. I traveled back home, alone, only 10 days postpartum. I was a wreck. I bravely accepted the fate of our mother on my journey home while dodging insults of having such a new baby on a flight, let alone in an airport. I was shuffling between whether or not to spew my circumstance with strangers or smile and embrace the mommy shaming. I did the latter. The judgement only amplified my emotions.

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We lost mom shortly after I returned home. I had emotions storming through me. My mind was in a turbulent capricious state. All I wanted to do was run it out but my body ached in ways that I cannot describe. My cesarean cut pulsated. My heart was heavy. My heart was light. And it was full of love. In the deep of love. My reaction to life was that love surely does cut you. I was a vat of vehemence smiling through all the pain and smiling through all the joys. 

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But rewind…

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On top of all my emotions, my vanity also played and integral part in my hormonal hurdle to find harmony. To find peace. Sanity. Normalcy.

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Rewind again. When I finally got home from the hospital, I wanted so badly to hop on the scale to witness the miraculous weight loss from this “having a baby” diet.

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And.

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Dun. Dun. Dun.

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The weight I gained during pregnancy was still there. Every. Single. Pound. Yes. Every single pound was accounted for.

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I cried on the inside. 

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These are the things they don’t prepare you for postpartum, especially post-cesarean. The fervent of emotions. The inability to easily pick up your baby from their bassinet because your cut is new and wretchedly deep. The pain. The fear of being a new mother. The weight. Oh my goodness the water weight. But I stress – the emotions. Emotions because as new mom I can tell you expectations are too high. Emotions because I almost had vaginal birth but my baby couldn’t handle the contractions and her heart rate kept falling dangerously low. Emotions because I felt like every single person was overwhelmed with joy over my little miracle and all they wanted to do was meet her but they discarded me. No one (most) thought a cesarean was a big deal. Not many asked how I was. And because notifications of vagina jokes kept coming across my iPhone because… “Hey, it’s still intact!” What the fuck ever people!!!  Hello, I’m in pain!!! Everyone forgot I was the star of the show. But with the birth of my little angel I suddenly became the supporting actress. My glowing beauty transformed to that of a rag doll beat up and ran over by an 18-wheeler that reversed. I looked like 50 shades of SHIT with breasts as solid as boulders that doubled as my serving platter because I could eat dinner off them. Emotions because I was pining for the day I didn’t feel like a dairy cow. Emotions because despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my old self for my new self. Emotions because I thought I was crazy for loving this new role.

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Emotions because of my new body. 

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I remember I stripped off my clothes and looked in the mirror. I stood there for a long time. I poked my stomach. It was soft. I was amazed that the elasticity and muscle memory were not activating!!! Then I saw my thighs. My calves. My legs. I cried hard. Vulgar Tears. I felt disgusting in my skin. How could I have felt like a champion of pregnancy up until birth and return home looking like a foreigner in my skin? I truly didn’t recognize myself. There was no bump but those weren’t my thighs.

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Why hadn’t the doctors sent me home with a “What to expect after you have a baby – cesarean edition” pamphlet that outlines the litany of normal concerns for new mothers (and fathers) who courageously try to navigate through an emotional, sleep deprived battlefield of heightened senses? Mind you it should also detail realistic expectations of what you should anticipate from your body that asserts, “Relax! You don’t have a fever. And no, you did not wet the bed. You are experiencing  hot flashes and night sweats – that is your body’s natural way to flush out all the excess water from pregnancy and delivery.” I had NO pamphlet. I had to resort to Google for this wealth of information to learn that the pregnancy glow alters to a new form…a foreshadowing tale of what I have to look forward to – menopause. WTF.

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I was also patiently awaiting my new form sans baby bump. But I weighed the exact same after having had my 6 pound 5 oz baby girl from the day I was admitted. How was that even plausible even after being forced to fast, too? I drank nothing but water and coffee for days. I made liars of their cleansing characteristics because they surely didn’t act like any kind of diuretic. I was still feeling very pregnant. I was mortified. 

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The pamphlet idea would have been notably helpful at that mile marker. I didn’t know about all the water weight I would gain due to the IVs. I didn’t know my cut would burn, tingle, feel oddly numb but sense pressure for days, weeks, months. I didn’t know about breastfeeding and prolactin.

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I wore long dresses for days to hide my legs but they didn’t cover my newly augmented breasts by milk. People would speculate all my weight went there, and while it made me laugh, I was beyond uncomfortable. I was annoyed and embarrassed by my blossoming bosoms.

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I felt awkward. That’s it in a word. But I was also the happiest I had ever been. It was the strangest thing.

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But now that my little family and I are two months in, I’ve grown fond of my new body and its abilities. I had high expectations of rebounding and I didn’t meet the mark. But I know I will. That’s who I am. I do acknowledge that I’ve snapped back relatively quick but I wanted breastfeeding to be some miraculous cure-all of soft curves and a soft tummy. Newsflash: it isn’t. It’s an old wives tale.

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I am currently working hard at marathon training again and I believe I will get back to where I was before I was pregnant. Perhaps all these months off from intense training have alleviated my hip issues! (Praying!!!)

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Speaking of running, I have been doing speed work, fartleks, tempo runs, easy runs and I’m slowly gaining back my ability to cover distance. I completed my longest distance of 8 miles strong last week! While I’m so fortunate to be logging miles again to gain speed, endurance, and to soon cover distance to chase Boston, I’m finding that despite it all – my running, leg, booty, and killer core workouts – I’m still unable to activate that fat burning furnace I spoke of earlier to shed the last 3 postpartum pounds. .


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I know I sound obnoxious because it may not sound like much weight, but for me, as a runner, each pound adds time to my pace. My inner voice screamed and continues to scream, “WHAT gives!?!?” 

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I told you before, where I once had abs I am soft. Now I assure you I’m not bitching terribly much – I know I’m fortunate to have been able to shed most of the weight I gained without any effort, but these last few pounds have been troubling me, especially with my incessant desire to workout in an effort to reclaim my body! My gosh, I had rented it out for 39 weeks and even provided an eviction notice…can I have it back yet? Please?

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Through all my attempts guess what I discovered?!? Keep reading…This is only another example of the type of content the pamphlet should cover…

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Despite my efforts, mothers who breastfeed, regardless of the old wives tale that breastfeeding helps melt the fat, retain approximately 5-10 pounds of fat to ensure that in the event of famine, we can nourish our littles (so I guess I’m doing well!). The reason is due to the hormone prolactin – the evil but necessary culprit! Prolactin remains incredibly high in your body for up to 6 months postpartum making weight loss a challenge! It is a challenge because it reduces the body’s ability to metabolize fat. BAM! Repeat. BAM!!! It acts like a safeguard to protect a baby’s milk supply. Hey hospital, put that in a pamphlet to help new mothers ward off fatuous expectations! 

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So here I am, I’ve been sweating it out like the badass motherrunner that I am, and I can’t shake all the weight despite clean eating and exercise. I didn’t get it. I was so frustrated! But now knowing that when I decide to stop breastfeeding the weight should come off effortlessly makes me one happy runnergirl. Oh, that on top of the fact that I won’t be carrying melons around that fluctuate in weight every 2-3 hours. That’s right, I’ve been racing against my milk coming in! Maybe that’s making me faster (I can dream). But until I decide I can no longer continue nursing my little rosebud, I will cherish the moments of feeding her while also being proud that my milk is helping her get those adorable little rolls on her legs! That’s right, I’m the reason for my little chubbina (chubby signorina)!

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Thanks for stopping by and reading about my journey – from chasing Boston to chasing baby – motherhood and running – and my life between all those miles.

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XO

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Valgal

Running and Life

20 Jul

Hello lovelies!!!.

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.My days are numbered being at home with my little babe. The longest I’ve been away from her has been during my runs which is about 1-2.5 hours. So with Monday on the horizon, my heart is sinking. How am I supposed to go back to work? How can I juggle work, be a mother, a wife in training, and a runner? .


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During my mini sweat session today (I ran based on how I felt – hello sub 7:00!!! – ran a 7:50 warmup and speedy miles thereafter! I love the way a 6:00 min pace feels- it’s been too long! 🙌🏼) I was thinking about how running is a true euphemism for life – more so today than ever before. What I’m saying is that it takes enormous spiritual strength for me to embrace training for a marathon after 39 weeks of untraining my mind to go hard and push through the pain because of pregnancy. Now I’m trying to build back that grit. But honestly, it takes even more spiritual strength to leave my little on Monday for the first time ever for my workday.

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I’m freaking out that I’m going to miss her more than words. Her little coos, her smiles, the way she cuddles on my chest and grips my hand so tightly. How am I supposed to be away for 9-12 hours without her when she has been all I’ve ever known. “It’s impossible to miss anything before she came into the world.”

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I’m so thankful for running. It has allowed me to run out my emotions. It helps. But I’m still deep in resentment that I can’t have a few more weeks. At least I know what I’m in for. My work day will feel like a bloody marathon – trudging through the pain of her absence – but coming home will feel like crossing the finish line – the reward of embracing my rosebud will be worth it. .

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Shout out to all you badass mother runners, and mamas who must leave the house for work, (because let’s be honest, being a mother alone is WORK), “The world does not benefit from you hiding your bad-assery” so make sure you make it known!  You inspire me!!! XO #badass #motherrunner #runnergirl #sweat #sweatsession

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PS- thanks @nuunhydration for hydrating me!

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Thanks for stopping by!

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XO

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Valgal


Celebrating Yoshie – Living Bravely and Boldly with Lung Cancer 

28 Jun

Hello lovelies…this post is about my life between the miles – it is about the celebration of my mother-in-law’s life that came to an early end because of her battle with cancer. 

We celebrated mom’s life this past weekend. We didn’t want this day to come, at least not until she led a long happy life. But we didn’t have a choice. We have been forced to go on without her. And while we all feel the suffering, the pain, and the grieving, we are fortunate mom is no longer experiencing the same. On June 25, 2016 family and friends gathered to remember the light that she was.

Mom was only 60. A fresh new 60. She would have told you she was 37 though. It’s amazing that in a flash backwards we were celebrating her 50th birthday in the same house. She was as magnanimous then as she was during her last days, and remarkably enough, the same age, 37. 

We celebrate mom’s life because that’s what she would have wanted. Nobody has a choice about time traveling on. We just have to. We have to go on without mom. I see the reservoir of pain that the loss has caused in the hearts of her husband and son. I know we are all feeling the suffering and pain of her loss. F*ck cancer. 

During the memorial I realized that the pieces of mom that we keep don’t have to be material. They are memories imprinted on our hearts. Family and friends cheerfully shared stories of her radiant smile and her infectious laughter during the celebration. We learned from others what we have always known, that mom was wonderfully generous and warm. She was always excited to see you and she made you feel like she was your biggest fan. Mom’s boss shared with us that she made sure she was the first to wish everyone “Happy Friday” at work. It was a game! We could picture her enthusiasm at the office and we all shared a heartfelt yet heavy chuckle.
 
In learning of this story I reflected on my Fridays. Every Friday in my inbox I had an email from mom. The subject line was simple, “Happy Friday!” And the content of the email was a “hello, happy Friday, happy weekend. Love you. Miss you. Ciao!” My heart smiled but wasn’t free of pain. I realized in that moment I won’t be receiving any more emails from mom. Our little exchanges stopped when God decided he needed her more than we did. And in those moments I selfishly acknowledged how I still needed her emails. Having mom peppered in my day with a Skype call, phone call or email made everything okay. She gave me peace and made me laugh despite the peripheral chaos. I need happy Friday. And now it’s gone. 

I was sprinkled in and out of mom’s life for 15 years. But in the time I spent with her and her family, I saw how mom had done the best she could raising her family and in being a friend. She, again, gave generously all that she had and more. There was no end to her generosity. Ever. Even during her final days. 

Mom fought cancer emphatically. She knew cancer was a ruthless bitch but she wasn’t afraid. Mom chose to be brave. She fought bravely for 26 months. Her oncologist’s best case was 24 months. Leave it to mom to fight longer! But she didn’t know. She refused to know the prognosis of lung cancer. In a sense, her incredulous disposition allowed her to be jubilantly blind to the unyielding outcome that awaited her. In my opinion, I think it was a blessing because it allowed her to live each day boldly!

Mom was brave her entire life (she took a chance on David – her husband). Brave and equally stubborn (I know where Andy gets it from, thanks mom). This combination of attributes helped her mental grit to stay strong and continue to fight. Not one day did mom reveal that she felt like a victim. She refused. She didn’t take the easy way out and let cancer get the best of her. She stayed happy. It was remarkable. How can one be so incredibly happy when faced with such an untenable and dire diagnosis? She was happier than what seemed appropriate. She really put things in perspective. We can learn so much from her.  

We miss her. I’m so fortunate to have found my way back in her life. Oriana knows her grandma. She used to kick to the sound of her voice and mom’s entire face would light up. Her smile would grow with such exuberance. Oriana will continue to know her grandma. Not in a physical sense. Not by her voice singing lullabies and seeing to it that her granddaughter, who is the splitting image of her son, falls asleep, but because we will continue to speak of mom and share her memory, like they share the same birthday. In a way they are one. 

It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around mom not being here. It’s hard for me to see my fiancé face this reality. The hurt is visible. But I believe Oriana has helped him through this pain. As a mother now, I understand love in another form. And with that, I’m bewildered that with mom being such a soft, benevolent soul, that someone of her own bloodline didn’t make an appearance at the memorial. In addition, she didn’t phone or send flowers. She wasn’t absent because she couldn’t handle the emotional affair, she was absent because over the course of several years, her heart has been completely dissolved of love and forgiveness. She is devoid of feelings. This woman is a mother, too. But clearly she is missing a sensitivity chip, a maternal link that unifies sisterhood and the celebration of women. In addition to her absence, she also neglected to send mom flowers or a card for (her last) Mother’s Day and her birthday. It wasn’t until mom’s husband reached out, again after countless efforts, to inform her that mom’s days were shortly numbered that she finally showed up. The family was happy she made an appearance. Mom was able to see her three grandchildren that were selfishly poached from her for years before passing. 

This person saw her brother but disregarded him as blood. One could speculate that she gives more respect to strangers than to her own family. In her typical tasteless mannerism, she also failed to congratulate Andy on the birth of his daughter and engagement to me (like some other tacky people). 

Anyway, I’ve given this woman too much attention but I bring it up because Andy, despite the history of her wretched behavior, included her in his speech as well as in an exquisite video montage that he created for the service. 

While we scoured through photographs, I couldn’t help but have sheets of tears fall down my face. Picture after picture painted an image of mom holding her first granddaughter. Laughing. Smiling. Dancing. Nurturing. Exactly how I remember mom. In those moments I was forced to accept that mom has three grandchildren that had spent minimal time with her but the time that was documented revealed a history of fun and joy. And here we are with Oriana who will never be charmed by grandma’s silly lullabies, soothed by her gentle touch, or bounced by the rhythm of her dancing. In a very short time going through pictures I had a laundry list of upsets because Oriana was robbed of mom by cancer, and her other grandchildren were robbed of mom by her very own daughter.m. Andy’s sister has no clue what she has done. I would do anything to have Oriana know and love mom in a physical state. I would do anything to have my daughter be embraced by the warmth that was mom – but she never will be. The thought is unbearable. 

What I’m writing isn’t absent of honest conversation. Every family has dysfunction. I’m not airing out dirty laundry – her behavior has been flagrantly evident and witnessed by family, friends and medical staff for years. But the tale of this dysfunction stopped at mom’s death. There were so many opportunities for this woman to make things better, amicable at best. Andy, being the class-act that he is, found that he exhausted his efforts over the years. Any effort made was returned with mute silence. Silence that begged to be undisturbed; screeching evidence that she had long abandoned the family. The disturbing thing is that mom knew she wouldn’t come to her funeral. The only time I saw mom cry was when she spoke of this. Cancer didn’t hurt mom’s spirits – her daughter did. 

The memorial was a success. Andy did not preclude his sister from the service. Family and friends asked where she was and he casually remarked that she couldn’t make it. Interesting. Family from Japan made it out to see mom in March when it was revealed that the cancer metastasized to the brain. That was a 13+ hour journey not including layovers. Family and friends also traveled from Arizona to Wisconsin to celebrate mom’s life. We even drove 13+ hours from DC to Wisconsin (with a newborn and a dog). But she couldn’t make a 3 hour drive. The trek must have been burdened with too much traffic, or perhaps guilt…

She is undeserving of this attention. I digress.

Mom, we will practice forgiveness as you have displayed by example. It was just that her actions were so glaringly dismissive and you deserve more. You deserved more. You deserved the world. 

Your absence hurts but we know you and Oriana share the same spirit. We see you in her smiles and hear you in her coos. Andy, Oriana and I are writing a new story. Oriana Yoshie is your bloodline and she has your charismatic spirit already! Your life is being carried on through our little girl, and that is our sweeping redemptive ending – or beginning. Your spirit goes on. 

The reality that you’re not here though sends an electrical current of hurt through our bodies. Moving forward without you is a monumental task. We celebrate you, every single day. I wish you could be here. We wish you were with us to watch the NBA finals. We wish we could have seen your happy dance when Cleveland won! We wish you could hold your granddaughter today and every tomorrow, but we are eternally grateful you both met each other. I know you’re looking down on us and you can see this, but I want to tell you, your son is an extraordinary father. A generous fiancé with a stubborn streak. Please help me learn to accept this! But honestly, with his stubborn attitude aside (an indication that you’re still very present) you would be so proud. We ask that you continue to guide us like you have through this unchartered experience. 

We will remember to see the beauty in the ugly. We will remember to fight through adversity. We will remember that there is always a reason to smile when things feel heavy and hopeless. We will carry on “Happy Friday!” notes. We will let go of resentment. We will practice forgiveness. We will do all of this in your honor. We will live courageously, bravely and boldly with you in our hearts and your cinematic laughter in our ears. In closing, and with Elton John’s words, we remember “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.”

We love you. 

Wishing you all unconditional love, the courage to forgive and the strength to fight boldly any battle or heartbreak that you face.

God bless.

Thanks for stopping by.

XO

Valgal


FMLA is Dog Shit Wrapped in Cat Shit. 

1 May

I’ve been wanting to blog about government and maternity leave – or lack thereof. Oh, and how FML is synonymous to FMLA. I have to tread carefully.

Facts:

It takes 4.6 years working with the government to accumulate 12 weeks of sick leave (assuming you don’t take one min of sick leave off during your tenure). And then the government tells you you can only use 6 weeks for labor/birth of a child. Anything thereafter is considered bonding with your baby and this is NOT allowed. 

You can use annual leave too. Hoping you have enough to reach your goal of time off for “maternity leave” without wiping out your balances. But why do you need to have any leave saved? You won’t get sick, baby won’t get sick, you don’t need a vacation, you sure as heck don’t need to travel to see family to show off your precious babe – clearly – wiping out your stock of leave makes perfect sense for the incidentals that never occur…

*** BUT WAIT *** The Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA, is an option. This is currently the only federal leave protection available to American workers who have babies. It does not require that an employer pay a new mother for a single day of leave.

Great option! Leave without pay. Sign me up!!! No. I’m being sarcastic. This is a distressing option.

And here’s some more bullshit – if I were a man I wouldn’t have to use sick leave for this major event (I’m not discounting paternity leave I’m talking strictly about women and labor). This would result with a benefit to my retirement. You see, when you retire with the government unused sick leave will be converted into retirement months. If you retire under CSRS, each month’s worth of unused sick leave will increase your annuity by 1/6 of 1 percent (.1666 percent). If you have a full year it will be increased by 2 percent. Basically, because you’re a man, you’re more likely to accumulate a lot more sick leave than women who chose to have children resulting in a greater payout.

Wow. 

Is this an unspoken disadvantage to women who bear children working within the system? Or is the argument that our advantage is giving the miracle of life? 

If you’re a man who is moaning and grunting over this exclaiming it is our choice to have children and that it’s our choice to be penalized like so, do me a favor, take your opinion and stick it up your ass where your missing stick is.

This Is gender inequality. 

Article by Rebecca Traister of New Republic

Why Women Can’t Break Free from the Parent Trap

“…The confluence of all these factors means that women are now having babies smack in the middle of their peak earning periods and that their earnings are crucial to the economic stability of their families. And there is no denying that motherhood makes an economic and practical dent in the shape and solidity of their careers. University of Massachusetts sociologist Michelle Budig has found that, on average, an American woman’s earnings decrease by 4 percent for every child that she bears, a figure that sounds even more brutal when compared to the fact that after men have kids, their earnings increase, on average, by 6 percent. Researchers have also found that fathers are more likely to be hired and to be regarded as more competent employees than mothers.

These gendered discrepancies in post-childbirth careers can be understood via a host of historical assumptions about mothers and fathers; hoary ideas about providers versus nurturers, masculine responsibility versus feminine pliability. And, of course, there is the stratospheric cost of unsubsidized American childcare, a factor that leads many more women than men to drop out of the workforce or cut back on their professional commitments. These realities are abhorrent, but they are, at least, studied. What goes less noticed is the way pregnancy and immediate postpartum life itself plays a serious role in slowing professional momentum for women for whom the simple—and celebrated—act of having a baby turns out to be a stunningly precarious economic and professional choice…”

Do you see the inequity? 

Anyway…I’m beyond miffed. Disgusted. Angry. Our country has such a myopic vision with maternity leave. Our country fails mothers. 

The Family and Medical Leave Act fails families. 

I can’t take more than 6 weeks of sick leave regardless if I have more. I seriously flirted with the notion of electing to have a c-section just to get 8-12 weeks of sick leave. But do I want to do that to my body if it’s not necessary? The mere fact that I was sincerely contemplating a c-section as an option just to have more time with my baby affirms that something is wrong. 

I’ll be taking the limited sick leave and annual leave I’m dictated to take – that I’ve saved up. 

Suddenly I’m guilt-ridden because I’ve traveled and lived life using annual leave to explore foreign countries and beaches. Fuck. Maybe I should have hoarded my time off instead and sat on my couch watching exotic lands and lived vicariously through these jet-setting assholes on television who give no fucks – who live and give the finger to the system.

I have used sick leave sparingly over the years. Perhaps I shouldn’t have because the government imposes iniquitous impasses for moms-to-be with what their definition of “sick” and “serious medical condition” are. 

Why don’t you carry a child for 40 weeks, endure labor, care for baby and yourself while you’re still bleeding nonstop, producing milk, leaking, and show up for work you intolerant antiquated schmuck. 

But don’t worry; during my absence I’m sure I’ll be checking my email from home and will be able to help you with anything…because I must be on vacation…?

I sound angry. I hate being angry. But I am. I’m also blessed to have a career I love. I love those I work with. I’m not angry with them. They aren’t the ones adding the red tape. 

Maneuverability through the archaic system is sufferable. I found myself calling my fiancé with tears streaming down my face and speechless when I received the news that I can’t take more leave. I couldn’t articulate one word. When sounds fell from my lips it echoed hysteria and gasps for air. I informed him that our 12 weeks was lessened to 8. The idea that our baby girl’s neck muscles will still be fairly weak breaks my heart. She is still so helpless at 8 weeks. All babies are. She will still need support and all of my love. I have an overwhelming sense of panic. 8 weeks is not enough. 

I have to hand her off because I work for an agency that doesn’t get it. *** Reminder *** sick leave may be used for a “serious medical condition” such as “pregnancy or prenatal care,” though crucially not recovery from childbirth. Ugh!!!

This is how the government puts FML in FMLA. FMLA is dog shit wrapped in cat shit. 

That’s all.

XO

Thanks for stopping by,

Valgal

D for Destination

29 Sep

Hello lovelies!!!

 

Wishing you all a tantalizing Tuesday!

 

A Quick Recap of My Life Between the Miles

 

I’m currently riding the metro into work and the commute is burdened with delays. I’m totally fine with it because it means more time my eyes can be buried in a book, scoping out my best move with Words with Friends, reading the news or  blogging  of course!

 

The delay got me thinking about final destinations. I know I’ll eventually end up at the metro stop where the cinematic sounds of ordinary appliances play a melody of music. I always look forward to it enrapturing me. It puts a permanent smile on my face that is fixed there for the duration of the day, despite any blunders. I know that I will get there. Soon.

 

My point is delays, a euphemism for obstacles in life in general, often only interrupt the arrival time to your final destination.

 

Who says you have to be punctual to get to where you’re destined to go…you’ll eventually get there!

 

Case and Point

 

I received a notice on September 21st that September 17th marked the date of my divorce. This is a cause for celebration! It means that both he and I are legally free to embark on the separate paths towards our final destination without feelings of malice (I have none).  In my belief my final destination is predetermined and I’m one step (one divorce – ooohhh that’s heartburn) closer to getting there.

 

Blip

 

My marriage was a blip on the roadmap to my destination. I was operating with an atlas in my mind without a properly tuned compass. The compass (i.e. my heart) urged me to take another route but I am incessantly stubborn. Others who warned me to take a different path themselves got lost in their own potted and sheepish journey to numb reality. A few were also blinded by obstinate presumptions.

 

Truth is I think we were all half-blinded by disappointment.

 

Fortunately this was all temporary. Repeat: temporary!

 

Today

 

Believe it or not, my divorce doesn’t symbolize anything negative. It was a journey that repaired my vision. I see clearly for the first time in years what I need and expect from myself and from others. I look at my divorce as a right of passage that helps me accept my current destination. It personifies my ability to take a few bumps and bruises to my ego, to take the smear of my name and move forward with my head up.

 

D for Destination

 

Life is a series of capricious events. Just because you take a detour (a big one) doesn’t mean you won’t end up exactly where you belong. “An invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.” Ancient Chinese Proverb.

 

And where I belong is exactly where I am! 

 

D may stand for divorce but divorce is also a part of the destination.

 

Life is but an incandescent journey. The colors of the ebb and flow: mistakes, blemishes, soiled reputations, misgivings, love, compassion, empathy, peace, acceptance, passion, fondness, ardor, and love affairs that last through the barrage of it all it’s one inexplicable masterpiece. A masterpiece tousled with some opaque colors married with the rouge of fate.

 

With that, I propose that you own your story. Paint with unabashed freedom! After all, the monotony of drab circumstances help to illuminate the artistry of life, love and its longevity.

 

Enjoy your unprecedented journey to your destination!

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Valgal

 

XO

 

IMG_7126-1


The C Word – Commitment 

19 Sep

Hello lovelies.

I‘ve yet again fallen silent due to the circumstances that be – but I’m breaking the silence regardless of the impeding D not being finalized.


Ahhh. Rest assured for those of you who troll my social media outlets to see what I make of you, your sordid homage to my past and what I am doing today…keep scrolling…


With that, let me provoke you to think of the C word – commitment.


What comes to mind? A nauseated wave of fear or excitement?!


I hover over the edge of both.


However, when it comes to me I’m all in. Always. I am 100% vested in my commitment to myself.

Don’t misconstrue this as selfish. It just means I always bet on myself. I know my goals, what I love, and what I can and cannot tolerate to name a few. I’m committed to self-acceptance, forgiveness, and growth. I’m committed to healing and to loving wholly. I’m committed to leaving the ghosts of my past in the past for that ghost ship has long sailed. May it drift toward their own destinies of happiness without causing an undercurrent in mine.

 

When it comes to running, I am committed to doing my personal best. Shiny finisher medals are fabulous but I don’t need them to keep me on track. They are merely a collection of the trials of mental grit that I’ve pushed through. They are reminders that I can commit to difficult things.


What does influence me? My commitment for A PR (personal record) baby!!! I continue to focus on becoming the best version of myself on the track by pushing myself outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. Sometimes I am mortified by my inability. Sometimes I’m stoked by just that.

 

Every individual perceives they are capable of only so much when “so much” is so little. Stop underestimating your abilities! You have to realize you can outperform all obstacles. You have to divorce negative thoughts to get through the barriers and get that PR on and off the course. It takes vigilant effort. Every. Single. Day.

 

Failure happens. A bruised ego and time only makes you better. It takes falling on your ass and a little self-pity. Then you dry your eyes and buckle down. Smile when the shitstorm hits hard. Pillage through the fallout and find meaning in the destruction. Refuse to play victim. Create a mantra “So what [I] failed at meeting [my] lofty PR. So what [I] failed at [my] marriage.”

Consider failure as a right of passage. Success often ensues after the chaos.

 

Reject the notion that hardships and disappointments harden you. They don’t. They make you someone of substance. Humility should help you aspire for more. Welcome your bruises. Find beauty in your scars. They are reminders of how far you’ve traveled.

 

And I have traveled. 2400 miles from home to the unknown. 26.2 miles on foot x 2 plus training. I have a commitment to running and to outperform my own self in all things. I will crush the wall that stands before me. I am committed to that.

 

Back to a finisher’s medal…what does it symbolize?

The finisher’s medal is delayed gratification. It represents the commitment of hours you spent training and investing in the race. The finisher’s medal symbolizes personal triumph to finish a preposterous goal! It is the ultimate reward for the sweat, tears, and perspiration for the countless hours of logging miles, the long days, the restless nights, the gruesome aches, the blistered feet, the abominable ice baths, mental fatigue, self-doubt, etc. The finisher’s medal is an adornment that highlights your commitment to be badass. It meets you with incessant compassion reminding you that you can commit to hard things.


Hard things. Hard things like marriage…

 

On the topic, what the does a ring symbolize in marriage? In some cases, repeat some, the ring is instant gratification for delayed discontentment – the stark contrast of a finisher’s medal. It meets a partner with incessant excitement until the newness and shine fade. Note:  Only for some individuals is this true.


Does the ring really mean commitment? Or is it a premature gesture that silently foreshadows that you are now committed to the aforementioned in running: countless hours of [insert here (e.g. annoying reality t.v., YouTube clips, sports center, horrible grade D movies, soap operas, American idol, complaining, loneliness, etc.)], restless nights, gruesome aches, blistered feet, ice baths (you kinky thang), mental fatigue, self-doubt etc.?


No one tells you that the ring is a premature promise to put in the work that goes into a marriage.


Imagine getting a finisher’s medal at the starting line of a race just like you get a ring at the beginning of becoming a Mr. And Mrs. Are you imagining? Does it not dilute the effort you’d put in for a PR? Does the ring do the same thing? Does it not dilute the effort you’d ordinarily put into the relationship because well now, you “got em on lockdown!!!”? Note: I know not all people think this way – I don’t.


Don’t get me wrong, the commitment of marriage and the sanctity of a ring is indeed beautiful. But the ring shouldn’t be a reward because you think you earned it. It shouldn’t mean that just because you invested time and energy into the relationship that it is owed to you. That makes it lose the dazzle and compassion of commitment before the journey even begins. The excitement should be the journey – not the brilliant shine of your carat(s).


It doesn’t mean that you’re free to engage in poor behavior either. It doesn’t mean you now have an easy pass to let yourself go. The ring should symbolize your commitment to work at your marriage every day. You don’t stop working at it just because you say “I do.” You work through every day by putting your best foot forward while accepting that at times your best foot forward has you performing at your worst.


“Worst” is objective. A ring should not be a commitment to stay by your partner’s side if their worst performance makes you feel trapped in a horrible rendition of Groundhog’s Day. Freelancing with anger and refusing personal accountability for actions is unacceptable.


Commitment is more than accepting someone’s worst. It’s recognizing you also deserve the best. It’s knowing how to distinguish the difference.


You have to be committed to yourself. Undress your mind of the boilerplate bullshit. The status quo is too ordinary. You’re not ordinary. Commit to loving yourself. If you break a commitment and you start looking for that decree, own it. Don’t muddle it up with excuses. Practice humility. Breathe. Accept it.


No one intentionally breaks commitments because they want to. Just like you don’t run a race looking to perform half-assed. Stay committed to run your own race. Own your detours. The race that is your dream for plans belongs to you. Zig and zag to dodge the unnecessary. It may take you longer to get to your destiny but you will get there. You might unintentionally break a few hearts along the way. Note: This doesn’t make you a bad person. But don’t break your own heart by committing to something you feel and know is inherently wrong. Commit yourself to your own happiness! You might break a few commitments along the way but so long as you didn’t break the commitment to yourself to be true, you are living authentically.


Don’t let the race cause you discomfort. This is your story.


My story is littered with failure. I’m comfortable with it. I accept that I fail on the track. Miserably. I can put my best foot forward but at times it renders me sub-par. Sub-freaking par!!! I beat myself up over it. I know it’s part of the training but it still hurts. The sheer disappointment glaring at me on my Garmin. Ugh. I want to tell it to go to hell for mocking me. But it’s part of growth. It’s part of self-acceptance. You can’t always be on your A-game.

Off the course, in something called marriage, I’ll admit I was always sub-par. A-game? I didn’t even know what that looked like. No kidding. I tried to put my best foot forward but it left me bruised. I was clumsy with my needs. My wants. My expectations. I hadn’t constructed any of this. I was blind. Not always by any fault other than my own. Other times by no fault of my own.


I hear muddled truths married with blatant lies about what went badly amiss in my commitment to my nuptials. But they were my nuptials. I know went happened. 


Newsflash: I admit to failure. This is self-acceptance. I’m brave enough to accept the folklore.

 

To counter the nonsense, I commit to fall deaf to wicked tongues. I do this because I am committed to credibility. You must consider the source. Sing that song by Big Sean, “I don’t fuck with you”. Let it resonate. Repeat.

 

I’m looking for a commitment that is long-term. Do you know what that looks like? It means I’m betting on myself.



Until then I’ll continue to race past the finish lines for the bright jewel that is a finisher’s medal. It always meets me with equal compassion. The finisher’s medal holds no expectations of me and doesn’t whisper empty promises. Instead it consoles me and my spirit while gloating about how badass I am. I had the diamond ring. It didn’t do any of that.

 

I’m committed to my own happily ever after.

 

Until next time…

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Happy running!

 

Love the life you live. It’s your race.

 

Valgal

 

XO

Happiness & Pain

9 May

Hello lovelies and goooooood morning!!!

I continue to go against the doctors orders and I’ve been running.

I put in a good 20 minutes on the elliptical but found myself bored with little perspiration. The music blasting through my earbuds was reminiscent of my marathon training tempo and with one glance at the treadmill I was lured. 

No words and no pleasantries were exchanged. It was a mutual understanding that the intimacy was back on.

With one stride on the moving belt I was swooned. I was right back to where I was.

The hour was late and I still had my master’s homework to tend to as well as pack. I was limited and rushed with time. My legs were fresh and I was hurried! I began at a pace I tend to flirt with outside but tend to fall back to a 7:10-8:00 considering the long-term goal. But I had no restraint. I was clocking 6:40s and 4:30 400 repeats. 

Holy hot diggity are you kidding me?

How could so much time off allow for me to have this much speed?

After 3 miles of a 6:40 pace and 4 x 400 repeats I called it a night. I was covered in sweat. My lungs were burning. My core felt engaged and tight. My legs felt fresh. My hip only stung slightly. I never felt better.

The affair was back on. 

Like so many things in my life I find it easy to fall back to the things that I inherently love. Running is one of them.

But I question at times, am I addicted to the things that aren’t good for me? Will I always have pangs of sharp pain when we part? Is this affair going to steamroll me with its past entries while tempting me with promises of what I pray is not fleeting happiness disguised as speed and flowery lyrics from my earbuds? 

Is this a surreptitious romance? Will it always be so I can’t get knocked down by the criticism of others? Is the proverbial treadmill both my addiction for happiness and pain?

And therein is lies the question-can something you have wanted so bad be the cause of both your happiness and your pain? Can happiness with my relationship exist without the pain from its very past? How do I learn to trust its patient and equally intolerable history when promiscuity runs rampant? I don’t have to see other runners pounding away on the very equipment that shapes my training and commitment to BQ, but the mere fact that I know of them because of the trails they leave behind crush me. Why is it that it must be so reticent and omit that I am not the only one?

In fairness relationships are hard. But all this time I thought there was a commitment. A mutual understanding that if you do right to me I’ll do right to you. Absorb my mid-foot strike and allow for me to have my wings out and heads up-let me fly gliding on your belt and help me focus on my form to keep it looking effortless.

It looks effortless but my training and the rekindling of this flame is peppered with anxiety. 

And there you have it…In one run and in one moment I learned the reality of this relationship-while it makes me incredibly happy it has the capacity to destroy me and all my dreams for plans. 

Happiness and pain…in my affair with running I recognize it is also symbolic of life-the inexplicable connectedness of the two…

I don’t know what to do. But I’ll be here until I run…(hopefully without pain)

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Now go enjoy your weekend! What does your training plan look like? Any long runs planned for this weekend?

XO

Valgal  

    

The Pressure

8 Apr

Hello friends!!!

I hope Monday greeted you with a warm hug and cup of piping hot coffee instead of my alternative…a 4:00a wake up call for a 4:30a boarding time, an empty stomach taunted by the fresh aroma of coffee, blueberry scones, toasted bagels, butter, and eggs all begging me to indulge in just one bite (I was fasting), and a cold MRI machine hours later…(blog to follow). The adventures of my Monday wrapped up with the disappointing loss for Wisconsin. Who wants Duke? Ever? Really? I gladly threw in the towel to meet my dreams. 

I woke up thinking Tuesday ought to be better, right? Until I looked at my phone displaying a number of text alerts. Some legit. Some ok. Some from my tribe of girls. Some casual hellos. Some of which had my mind spin in a tizzy. The pressure to remain calm overwhelmed me. I had to remember I can’t change anyone’s opinion of me. It is out of my control. 

Then I started thinking of other things out of my control. Things like death and taxes. But seriously, things like the health of my family members and friends and my being so far away. All the the things that break my heart. All the things I can’t control. I want to take everyone’s pain away. I don’t want anyone to suffer, ever. I feel I’m better equipped to handle pain, heartache, discomfort, grief, etc. I would gladly take it all from you because you don’t deserve it, whether we are strained friends, lovers, or what have you, I believe in forgiveness and acceptance and you still and always will matter to me. So let me handle your pressures and I’ll run it out (when this injury is healed).

Anyway, I became emotionally numb to my text messages this morning. Messages with twisted and contorted truths hijacking my happiness. It put me in an awkward state of frozen discomfort all day, emotionally and physically. I was drowning. Paralyzed. Then there’s my hip also paralyzed from the arthrogram yesterday. Ugh.

I was frozen in pain overthinking all my realities. 

I decided early on I needed tunes to warm my heart and my hip…

And there you have it, this song was the backdrop of my mood today.

 

Particularly:

 “…But it’s really out of my control. The way you feel is not my problem…”

“…Have you seen my f**ks to give? I have none, I cannot live with…”

“…The pressure. The pressure you know I feel. The pressure. The pressure to keep it real. Pay attention to the signs. Stay and listen, you will find. Everything, ain’t rocket science. Every gem is not a diamond.”

Sorry to be so forward about the lyrics, have you seen my f**ks to give; however, it was a very necessary line that helped me pull out from the undercurrent. Why do I care about people who are committed to misunderstanding me and who don’t care about me? I shouldn’t give a F!

The pressure to wear a smile when heartache and tears overtake me for what feels like an infinite number of reasons consumed me today. Tears were streaming down my face and I was drowning in the salty reality that things, all things, come to an end. 

My lips caught each tear and with each taste I gave it a breath of prayer. Prayers for so many things. Prayers for the strength to accept that your perspective of me is none of my business (small potatoes); prayers for my grandparents health; prayers that we find a cure for cancer (fuck cancer) (stand up to cancer!) (big potatoes); prayers that people learn how to forgive so they don’t grapple with grief when it’s too late; prayers for understanding, acceptance, compassion; prayers for the health and safety of my family-blood and those I choose as blood; and so much more. 

With each tear the integrity of my mascara was tested. I couldn’t let on that something was wrong-that and my vanity got the best of me, so I took refuge in the bathroom to ensure I had no raccoon eyes and tried to pull myself together.  

I looked in the mirror and with my mirror-face I gestured silently to myself, “Stay strong, woman! You got this.” I reminded myself everything is a fight and counted my blessings. I splashed cold water on my cheeks, twisted and secured my hair with the use of a pencil , painted my lips coral and put my big girl game face on. 

I couldn’t compromise my feelings today. I couldn’t negotiate and let them spill over. Ok, maybe I did for a minute but I handled it. The pressure pulled me under but I caught my breath soon after. Sure it was a doggy-paddle but I made it up for air. I am accepting the ebb and flow of life. 

Salty words camouflaged as sweet gave new meanings to my state of reality today. Recent other realities gave me other new meanings to life, love, friendships and the true meaning of wealth. It is in those realities I have found that life gets harder but only because we get stronger…

I’d like to give kudos to fate, too. Fate brings us together when we need each other the most. Fate has helped me to celebrate the change of seasons with those I love so deeply. Looking back, the best portions of my realities have been the small, nameless moments that will forever be memories imprinted on my soul. Memories spent smiling, crying and laughing, all of which are acts that leave me in tears, with those who have warmed my heart. If it weren’t for the pressures of life, I would be void of experience and therefore, without my salty elixir.

Therefore, I thank life for pressure-it doesn’t diminish my gratitude, it adds to it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading a blurb about my life between the miles!!!

I’m so grateful for you! 

How do you handle pressure?

XO

Valgal 

 

 

Grief Doesn’t Have a Face

3 Apr

Hello lovelies!!! Happy Thursday! 

Here I am experiencing delays at good ol’ DCA…the original plans had me missing my connecting flight and after several phone calls, I landed a new flight but had to act fast! I had 60 minutes to get to the airport and through security [in heels]! Hot damn! 

I made it! I ran (first time in weeks) through security and to the gate when…

Dunnn. Dunnn. Dunnn. The gate met me with another delay! Convenience is only a dream.

To occupy my time I’ve been re-reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and several other books related to the art of Legal Writing in Plain English. Ha…there’s more comedy, will I ever be able to perform such duties?

I gravitated to Wild instead of the latter. I got lost again. Lost with no need to be found. 

Considering my current life events, I couldn’t help but to feel moved by the following, so much so I wrote it in my journal to remind myself…

“…But you seemed so happy was all they could say. And it was true: we had seemed that way. Just as if I seemed to be doing okay after my mom died. Grief doesn’t have a face.” 

First off, my incredibly selfless mother is ok. She blesses me and all those around her with her immanent radiance outpouring unconditional love, nonjudgment, unyielding support, comfort, fervor for life, and more. 

Secondly, this quote, in and of itself spoke to me. The words are branded in my brain. I repeated the quote. Perhaps it’s a new mantra to pull me out from under when I need it most.

I’m told I have a magnanimous demeanor which warms my heart! But friends and family, oh my, seriously, I have dark moments. Gloom hits me and sometimes hard. I try to sweat it out but it doesn’t always do the trick. The magic is finding a healthy place for grief. I still haven’t discovered this place outside the trails and paths where I find myself running (or not running). 

What I am trying to tell you is grief is grief. We all accessorize it differently. I wear red on my lips and 5″ heels on my feetsies when I’m not flying in Newtons. I do my best to try to make it look good. Well really, I do this regardless of grief or not, but grief has me try a little harder. With grief my efforts are more deliberate. I may go that darker shade of red and line my eyes with a black sultry wing on these days. It helps me rise above the littered inconvienent truths and consequential lies between the miles.

Miles don’t lie. A mile will always be 1600 meters. It assures you that your mood after running it (x 10 miles +) will be altered. Whether the endorphins work for or against you is up to your mood. 

My mood as of late has been positive considering my lack of running; however, it has been peppered with some dark spots. Thank goodness I love pepper! A little spice never hurt anyone! I’m just asking that we tone it down a little. My tastebuds are growing numb. I want to continue to taste the exquisite pleasure and pain that is now that reminds me I am alive. You can’t celebrate happiness without sorrow. You can’t say “happiness without saying penis!” You can’t enjoy comedy without tragedy. 

Lately my life through the miles has assured me that the false dream of convenience is just that, a dream. 

I ask, who wants convenience? 

I don’t.

I want inconvienent and all-consuming love in the friendships/relationships I forge. 

I’m not in the business to walk anyone else’s tightrope anymore. I will continue to bet on myself and I’m positive I’ll make it to the other side. I may fall a few times. (Friends and family should chuckle knowing this only happens when I wear flats when I’m not running). I hope you follow me on my journey! 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by! 

Grief may not have a face but I will continue to aspire to look pretty in pain!

Here’s to recovery!!!

️XO

Valgal

Monday Motivation

30 Mar

Good Morning Friends!!! Heres’s today’s simplistic reminder: Only in death is there no repair. Love, make mistakes, and grow! Life is always under construction. Enjoy the process!

Shout out to my Gramps for inspiring me with this quote!!!

With Love,

️XO

Valgal

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