Good Natured Mom

We are all just walking each other home. -Ram Dass

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January 6, the day we celebrate the visitation of the Magi, is also the traditional “taking down the Christmas tree” day for my family.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the day of revelation is the day of putting away, decluttering, clearing out and bringing our lives back to normal.

A day of revelation does not, in my mind, mean back to normal.

I’ve been thinking about the new year. It’s not about resolutions, do overs, a list of big races, or big goals. I’ve gone there before and resolutions don’t inspire me at this point in my life. Mostly because I don’t keep them.

I’m also not spending a long time looking back at 2015. For about 35 seconds I did a little year in review in my head. And it was pretty darn good in terms of epic adventures and exciting experiences with family and friends.

10 mile trail run, Seneca 7, road trip with Janel to bike and run with the Iron Cowboy ,  a simulated 70.3 in Lake Placid, Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee…so many stretches and reaches!

And sheesh…I was scared a few times (the Keene decent on the Lake Placid Ironman course, in the rain and fog, the insane in-water start at AGN)…But glory hallelujah! I’m so much more capable, braver and stronger than I think I am. I got through those events, safely and intact – which is always my main priority.  I’m not a huge risk taker. Being scared is not my thing.

But 2015 is over. Let’s keep it moving. Let’s not spend too much time lingering in the looking-back.

What is my epiphany? What is my revelation? Here are some ideas:

Keep it Simple – Don’t over complicate the straight forward solutions. Don’t add unnecessary details which shift the focus off the goal.

Tell the truth – to others and myself. What I believe, what matters to me, what’s right and wrong…say it with courage and have confidence that what I speak is authentic and sincere.

Measure myself against me… and no one else – I am a unit. I am unique. I have strengths and weakness that, in combination, are only mine. That said, it is useless to compare myself to another human being in order to measure my own success or failure. My trial and challenges, just like my triumphs, belong to and have value only to me.

Do something, even if you don’t know what you are doing – I’ve had a passion for wellness, fitness, nutrition and health my entire life. But I never thought I had the right background, smarts, experience or credentials to make anything out of it. Finally, I am starting to see that I don’t have to know everything to make my passions be a source of information and inspiration to others. I’m going for it. One baby step at a time. Writing, posting, sharing, tweeting…speaking out about my experiences to bring encouragement and support to others.

Joan090912…these are sounding like resolutions. Maybe resolutions are really just the beginning of a revelation. Maybe through resolutions we begin to understand who we are and what we can become. Is it possible that the revelation can come through a resolution?

I think so.

Peace and Happy New Year.




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Panic Attack


I  can hear you crying.
You’re upset. You are locked in the bathroom stall because you want privacy.
But I’m here… can I help?
What’s going on?

Panic attack

Oh – I’m an expert at panic attacks. Come on out and let’s talk…

Look at me.
Take a breath.
Good, we lived through that moment and we are okay.
We made it to the next moment.
Do it again… breath in… and out…
Let that breath reach all through your body…right to your fingertips. Bring oxygen to every cell in your body.

This panic attack will pass. Are you all right?

Are you feeling better? Starting to? Okay, cool.

Want to wipe your face?

What thoughts are fixated in your brain, looping over and over….building and overtaking every bit of reason? You know they are just thoughts, right? They are not real…they are not events…they are not happening. You are thinking about them, but they are not real… Breathe…

Do you want to take some more deep breaths? How about if we just listen. What do you hear? The humming of the lights? The sound of feet shuffling in the hall? See, life is going on around us…notice what’s happening. Breathe

Are you ready to get going? Do you think you are going to be okay now? Do you know what to do if that panicky feeling returns?
Right…. deep breaths….focus on the rising and falling of your chest…like waves in the ocean…
Listen carefully for every sound…birds, wind, laughter, motors…all of it. Breathe

If you need me I’m right around the corner. You are going to be okay. I promise… no matter what happens, you will be fine.

Just keep breathing…

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23 days in…

gary henderson

I’m 23 days in to the 30 day blog challenge. I’m starting to …just barely starting to understand what writing is all about; what having a blog is all about; what my thoughts are all about. Putting head space into words is difficult. I can do it when I’m running, or swimming or meditating. But after a busy day, when I finally sit down to write, there are no words to match my thoughts. Yes, I do travel with a notebook. And yes, that helps…but it’s not enough to sustain the 30 day flow of words and meaning.

There are some a-mazing bloggers who post beautiful photos and find words to match that beauty. Gorgeous. There are bloggers who have found the intersect between story telling and some x factor. I find their subjects completely captivating…even though I have no idea what they are talking about. The family and life style bloggers offer glimpses into their daily routines. They make the most simple experiences sacred…baby’s first steps, dogs and children lying in a sunbeam together, things like that. I’m not in their league.

Some evenings, I’ll sit and read through tons of  blog posts. I’ll hope that something will light a creative spark in me. Sometimes it happens. The spark may be that  clearer sense of voice that I want my writing to have. Or it might be that I have the tiniest grain of an idea or a piece of knowledge, or an experience that I think might be worth sharing. And I find the courage, through someone else’s courage, to write it down.  And to push “publish”.  Sometimes I am so freaking awed by the talented writing out there… and the writers ability to go really deep into the weeds and still manage to make sense, good sense, out of the details …The spark can be in knowing that if I stick with this, I might be a worthy writer too.

So that, my friends, is my day 23 post. Now you know all of my secrets. My creative struggles. My baby blogger issues. Let’s hope day 24 brings renewed vigor and and awesome post!


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The Illusion of Expertise

The illusion of expertise…I had a lot of that when I was a substitute teacher. The school district sub caller would wake me early with a phone call – before 6 am usually. They’d give me a couple of choices of assignments, I’d decide which class sounded the least dangerous, and I ‘d begin to set my focus on what role I would play that day.

Elementary school subbing was a pretty good gig. I could still do the math and science, the social studies didn’t get too bogged down with historical details and the language arts lessons were fun. Plus, teachers in the primary grades tend to over plan in order to keep the students busy, so there were always plenty of work sheets and art projects and the like. But – give me a good chapter book and an attentive class and I would read way past the allotted 20 minutes after recess. Time passed quickly. Most days I didn’t feel like the local grade school was a dangerous place and being the teacher didn’t require me to fake my role at all.

As my own kids got older and moved on to the middle and high school, I took more substitute assignments in the upper grades.  The course work was more specific – like, I actually had to look at the lesson plans beforehand to figure out how I was going to get any teaching done. ( As a tax payer in the school district, I felt it was my duty to make sure my presence in the classroom did not mean it was a day off for the students. I’m funny like that.) I was willing to teach just about anything – except agriculture – a mainstay the high school. I knew nothing about that subject and the male students were really big. The ag wing of the school terrified me.

The English classes were some of my favorites. Most days it was like having my own little book club. We had discussion questions which lead to some great insights…I learned so much. But there was that one class, the one with the fight. I have no idea what provoked one of the boys to pummel the other. But they went at it, in a crowded classroom. Desks knocked over, students scrambling for safety. Slightly unnerving. Lucky for me there was a student teacher with me who was willing to separate the two boys while I called the office. No faking expertise on that day – I was a chicken and not ashamed to admit it.

Subbing in music classes …they could be tough for me. I possess, what some might call, a dangerous amount of knowledge. Several years of key board and vocal training, plus a love of music gave me enough background to kind of know what I was supposed to teach. But not really. The one-on- one music lessons were always a treat. Especially the percussion lessons. Everyone knows that drummers are kind of cocky, so give me a 20 minute lesson with a kid who thinks I don’t know my flam from a paradiddle, and I’ll  show them a thing or two. (My two older kids were drummers…at minimum I know drum lingo.)

But the best subbing assignment I ever had was a long term position as a Spanish teacher. Fully armed with (inferior) high school French lessons, I was hired to teach third year Spanish for a month. And I think I did pretty well. I had excellent coaching from the other Spanish teachers, top notch lesson plans to follow and lots and lots of colored markers to use on the white board (always makes you look like you know what you’re doing when you use multiple colors to diagram sentences in a foreign language that you don’t understand). The students were amazing, too. Some of the brightest in the school. Still, it took them three weeks to figure out that I didn’t speak Spanish.

To set the record straight, I was very clear that I  lacked the knowledge and understanding of the subject matter to properly teach any of these classes. My objective was to appear that I had the information and credentials to be the master in the classroom. And for the most part, it worked.

Ahhh…the illusion of expertise.


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Just keep writing…

writing quote

Anyone else having trouble getting through 30 straight days of blogging? My last few posts have been short. I’ve been up way past my bedtime trying to get something posted. My brain has been blank…absolutely nothing there worth sharing.

So why is it that I create brilliant posts when I’m running? Or driving? Or meditating? Pretty much anytime I am not near a computer or pad of paper and pen…its maddening. But maybe those ideas aren’t any better. They just sound better in my head than they do on paper.

Today I started a post about my life as a stay at home mom. It was horrible. I sounded so self aggrandizing. No, no, no… I stayed home with my kids when they were little because I loved them and couldn’t bear having someone else be with them all day long.  That was it. My post was a list of all the things I did around the house. I didn’t even mention the kids. Delete.

Yesterday I posted my top 5 Christmas movies…which would have been a much better read (with descriptions and explanations) if I hadn’t been soooo ready for bed when I wrote it. Lame. I will write more about why I love those particular movies later. Maybe…

The day before that was my Six Word Saturday challenge. I had a picture and six words. That’s it. I love the picture and what it says, but it wasn’t a very strong post.  I guess I should be okay with that.

Here’s the thing. I signed up for the NaBloPoMo challenge because I wanted to be challenged. Pushed, stretched, mentally exercised. And I am being pushed. Because, honestly, my idea well is bone dry. I have nothing to say of interest to anyone, including myself. And I am going to keep writing until the creative dam bursts.

As an athlete I know that growth occurs after I strive to achieve a new fitness goal. I stress my muscles and they respond with increases in strength, flexibility and endurance. I want the same thing to happen with my writing.


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Midlife Transformation

A friend referred to me as her fitness guru last week. The week before that someone else asked me to mentor her through her first triathlon.

I’m no expert…on fitness, especially. But I think I’ve figured out why people think I am the expert, the guru. It has to do with who I was and who they have seen me become.

My foray into fitness began about 5 years ago. I was 51, out of shape and lacking motivation. After some subtle changes, the occasional walks around the neighborhood turned into short bike rides, which turned into a century, charity bike ride. I began walk/ running, then running. I added swimming and began to imagine that I might possibly be able to complete a sprint triathlon. That was 4 years ago and I’ve completed 13 triathlons since then. The transformation was gradual, and for those who knew me in the beginning, it was significant.

They say the best exercise is the one you will do and the sport of triathlon offered me three options; swim, bike and run. Training for three sports provided variety and the ability to recover from one discipline while working out for another. Balancing and organizing the workouts kept me focused and interested. I wasn’t doing the same sport every day, so I never got bored. Plus, I loved the way I felt when I exercised. I was, and continue to be, grateful to be able to have a body that can swim, bike and run. I never lose sight of the fact that I have not completely succumbed to the aging process, illness or some other circumstance. I love the mental boost endorphins give me. They elevate my mood and keep me feeling positive and optimistic. Finally, my body responded to exercise and training in the best possible way. Body fat decreased, muscle tone improved and overall fitness increased. Triathlon training became a regular part of my life and was profoundly impacting my whole being.

Beyond the obvious physical changes, I was learning to live beyond limits. I was shedding the excuse driven mentality that was holding me back from….experiencing …life! Because I tried something difficult, new and out of reach, I learned about goal setting and that the process it takes to move toward the goal is probably more important than goal achievement.  My perspective shifted dramatically and I began to see challenges as opportunities instead of obstacles. My attitude changed as I became a possibility thinker. And I liked that.

So, when my friend refers to me as her fitness guru…I think she means this: I knew you before you had this amazing physical and spiritual transformation. I want what that kind of change in my life. Show me the steps you took to get there…because if you can do it… then, I think I can do it too.

Yeah - I finished...hardest race to date.

Yeah – I finished…hardest race to date.

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Who I am and why I’m here

I’m kick starting my blog in 2015 with the help of Blogging 101. My first assignment was to introduce myself. I’ve already done that on my  “About Me” page. This is what shows up:

“Hi! I’m Joan, a fifty-something mother of four, nearly launched kids; wife of the best triathlon Sherpa on the planet and triathlete. Three years ago I completed my first triathlon and since then I’ve been rediscovering myself through the sport. From multi sport training to nutrition to positive thinking, I’ve learned to redefine the term middle age!”

I wrote that 6 months ago when I created the blog. I suppose it defines me, but this blog is not just about me and the sport of triathlon. It’s more about my purpose as a middle-ager and my transition from full-time parent to emptynester…and how I came to realize its connection through my new-found passion for endurance sports.

Simply put, some things you really should know  about me:

  1. I’m a neat and tidy person; a super organized, compulsive straightener.
  2. I like to do repetitive tasks… shoveling, washing dishes, copying., riding my bike for hours on a trainer, swimming many hundreds of laps in a pool, running for miles and miles…you get the idea.
  3. I drink too much coffee.
  4. When I drink too much coffee I start to multitask, which tends to make me cranky (Coffee or multitasking? I’m not sure).
  5. I’m a rules follower.
  6. My best days are when everything is flowing harmoniously. No stress, arguments, pressure, deadlines.
  7. My husband and kids are the smartest, funniest, most creative, fair-minded and beautiful people on the planet and I thank God for them every day.
  8. I have magical powers when it comes to finding lost items. Just ask my family.

More to come as I redefine middle age!