Just a message from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man

The line to get into the gym after New Years resembled a nightclub as I pulled into the parking lot. The only difference was women were clad in tight-fitting neon (yet perfectly coordinated) activewear rather than the little black dress. Without intending to, I looked at my gym bag. All I had packed was my usual garb: a pair of stretchy pants, comfortable shoes, and a loose (but breathable) shirt. I’d missed the memo.

piemotivationI made my way through the crowd and into the hall o’cardio. It is a massive room with rows of equipment. Usually, there is plenty available, but today it was packed to near capacity. I was going to have to make do with whatever was free, which likely meant I would be stuck on the machine with the squeaky gear and poor ear bud connection. Sure there are far worse problems to have, but annoying sounds are like kryptonite for my exercise motivation (as are a lot of things).

Sure enough, even though the room was crowded, Ye Olde squeaker just happened to be available. Lucky me. Passing some full-length mirrors along the way, I noticed my reflection, and it was difficult to repress a sigh at what I saw. I don’t consider myself exceptionally large for my frame, but I could drop five (or a dozen) pounds without people worrying if I was eating enough. While I haven’t yet completely surrendered to their call, I now understand why ‘mom jeans’ exist. Thanks, kids.

As I mounted Ye Olde Squeaker and keyed up the day’s torture program, I found myself looking for my friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. No, I don’t mean the web crawler from the comics. I mean a large full-grown adult male who comes to the gym clad in a short-sleeved, short-pantsed, skin-tight Spider-Man outfit.

I’d noticed him almost immediately when I began attending the gym. After all, it was hard not to. At first, I almost felt sorry for him for being that clueless. Then, I wondered if he lost a bet, but I saw him again the following week in the same outfit and again the next. If it was a bet, it was a big one.

This cycle repeated at least once a week throughout 2015. I would go to the gym and Spider-Man would be there too. Over time, I realized I had grown to expect a sighting of this fashion disaster with each visit. Once spotted, I’d feel a little better about my own choices, which made it easier to power through my workout with gusto. (Okay gusto may be a stretch, but at least, I felt good enough about my performance afterward to return another day.) Eventually, though, I realized I’d even come to respect Spider-Man. He, clearly, was a person who did not care what anyone else thought. Instead of thinking he looked ridiculous, I now wished I could be half as confident.

But there was no sign of him during the first week of the new year among the horde of toned bodies. Bodies which I could only guess were only there either because they were on the payroll of some brand of activewear, hired to act as living models or they were paid by the gym to entice members into signing up for additional services. I glanced again at my reflection as my finger lingered over the start button. I saw my well-worn sweats and at my extra curves that refused to quit and thought why was I bothering? I felt my resolve begin to crumble.

Stop it Allie.

You have two options:

You can use your hour of ‘me time’ the way you intended to or you can go home and chase after boys housebound due to rain over the last several days.

Good Point Allie.

Getting ready for the Electric Run back when I did get the neon menu
Getting ready for the 5K Electric Run a couple years ago. For the record, I still don’t understand people who run for fun.

I told myself to ignore the crowd, at least this once. I rationalized most of them wouldn’t be around for long. A quarter would give up their resolutions before the end of February. Another group will likely drop in April when the weather starts to warm and there are actual things to do outside. I cranked up the volume on my phone and got to work.

Suddenly it hit me. I knew it wasn’t going to be crowded long because I’d been going to the gym regularly for months. I was no resolution mayfly (my waistline isn’t the only part about me that is stubborn). I remembered the real reason I was there (me – curves and all). I gave it all I had. Afterward, Ye Olde Squeaker proudly displayed my accomplishment – one of my personal bests. I rowed and used the free weights too. In short, I rocked my workout that afternoon.

I may not be model fit. I may be undertall. But I’ll face my goals and power through another year. Who knows, maybe one day I might even be like Spider-Man too.

After all – Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.

Oh the joys of the 3AM wake up call

The Bat-Signal as seen at the end of Batman
When does Batman/Bruce Wayne sleep between business and saving the day/night? I’ve often wondered. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was three AM Sunday morning. More accurately 3:27. I know this because we have one of those clocks that project the time onto the ceiling like some sort of sadistic batman call sign. (In the wee hours of the morning, I tend to forget our rationale for buying it.) I could hear our toddler crying in his room. I closed my eyes, hoping in vain that he would settle himself down. If anything it increased in pitch and volume. To my side, I could hear the rhythmic breathing of my hubby still enjoying deep sleep. The toddler’s call wasn’t quite loud enough to rouse him – yet. Groan. It was up to me. Cursed mom ears, with their supersonic hearing, I thought to myself for the millionth time.

I stumbled down our hallway to the little guy’s room unwilling to turn on a light to help along the way. Opening the door, my son emitted one last loud cry before noticing that help had arrived. I’m not sure exactly what might have caused my son to wake up. Perhaps he had a nightmare, or maybe it was just the sound of the heat turning on that startled him. Who really knows what two-year-olds think about at night. The cause really didn’t matter. He was up and needed mom. I’m a fan of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne Series. The line, “for the night is dark and full of terrors” came to mind, as I picked him up and held him close.

Even though I was there he still he continued to whimper. I asked him what he needed, only to hear pitiful sounds in reply. A change of strategy was required. “Use your words,” I told him.

“I wan Monkey Man,” he answered (his reigning favorite toy). Of course he did. Sigh. Monkey Man is a small, flat, toy that is always hiding itself away. Why couldn’t my son have an obsession with a large, glow in the dark, GPS enabled toy that I could tether to the bed? Something woke him up and now he couldn’t find his friend. It was a catastrophe!

I told him that I would find it as I tucked him back into his bed. He looked up at me with a smile as I searched around the bedding, confident that all would be made right soon.

I located the little guy wedged between two other stuffed animals at the foot of the bed and handed it back to him. My toddler clutched his toy, snuggling next to with a sleepy grin as if he hadn’t just been wide awake and crying his eyes out five minutes before. All was once again right in toddlerland. I closed the door and tip toed back to my room where I proceeded to lie awake for the next twenty minutes.

There are many things that can keep me up at night. What if I am on the wrong track, what if I fail, what if something goes terribly, terribly wrong? How nice would it be if all my fears and doubts could be as easily silenced as my son’s. On those nights when I lie awake in a panic, does my mom still wake up wondering why her ears are tingling?

Of course none of that matters to the little boy down the hall. He doesn’t care that about what I do or don’t do well. All he cares about is that there is someone who will hold him tight when he’s afraid and help make everything right, and he adores me for it. It gives me a warm feeling that is almost worth the 3AM wake up call. Almost.

My boys will be grown and on their own in what will seem like a blink of the eye. I’ll soon know first hand whether or not mom ears ever lose their acute sense of hearing. If fears seem more terrible at night, at least I can take comfort knowing that as time flies by, dawn will arrive that much sooner, and with it, delicious coffee.

The following is the author's description of t...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imperfections can be lifesavers

Water drop, blue
Water drop, blue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While in college, I took an introduction course into nuclear engineering. As part of the class, we visited a small reactor owned and operated by the university. Within the facility stood a deep tank filled with water required for regulating the reaction. The entire tank was illuminated by a series of lights embedded in its walls making the water glow like a sapphire in the sun. In addition to the striking color, I also noticed how very still the water was. Its surface wasn’t marred by a single ripple. I’d never seen anything like it. I thought it was beautiful. I wish I had taken a picture, but the people operating the facility weren’t fans of that idea for some reason.

The professor warned us to stay back. The water was beautiful, but it was dangerous. However it wasn’t radiation that we had to worry about.

In order to maintain a controlled reaction, the water in the tank had to be absolutely clear of all minerals or other imperfections. As my professor explained, if we were to fall into the tank, no amount of kicking or flailing of arms would slow your descent. It didn’t matter if you were born part fish. You weren’t going to be able to swim (or float) back to the surface. To float, you have to be able to displace mass. Your body needs those minerals to push against in order to move through the water.

The water was deadly due to its perfection.

I no longer pursue perfection. I am not saying that I don’t always try my best. I just now better appreciate my limitations. I am learning to recognize that some of my ‘flaws’ might actually be helping to keep my head above water.

There are nooks and crannies where dust bunnies hide on my floors and corners where cobwebs still hang. According to a post I read earlier this week, all this means is that I’ve gotten a jump on my Halloween decorations. There are days in which there is more work to do than hours in the day. On those days, I could burn the midnight oil trying to do everything myself and still fail. Instead I recognize that I have colleagues who are more than capable of sharing the load. In fact, and this one is hard to admit, there are some tasks that others are actually more capable of completing than I am. I don’t have to do it all.

I don’t want to do it all.

By admitting to myself that there are just some things I don’t care about, by admitting there are things others can do better, I’ve found I can focus more on my family and my true priorities. Instead of stressing out about being the best that I could be, I am learning to be content with being the best me, flaws and all.

You have to dance like nobody’s watching

Dance like nobody's watching
Dance like nobody’s watching (Photo credit: fmgbain)

Have you had the pleasure of watching the Lego Movie, or heard the What Does The Fox Say song yet? No? Well if you ever found yourself near my house on a Friday night you would hear song, Everything is Awesome and the aforementioned song blasting on our speakers over and over again as my boys engaged in what has become our “beginning of the weekend dance party!”

Dance Floor
Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

My eldest son’s dancing consists of jumping, running in a circle, spinning on the floor, and imitating a robot. My youngest is still mastering walking and mostly performs a series of squats and sways while pointing his fingers in the air. I am not even going to attempt to describe the series of movements my husband and I consider our own dancing style, but needless to say we likely won’t be contestants on dancing with the stars anytime soon.

We may be somewhat rhythmically impaired, but it doesn’t stop us from letting loose every weekend. I am going to miss these moments when my boys age into the tween years and are too embarrassed to be seen walking with either my husband or I, let alone be seen dancing with us. The party is going to be over way too soon.

 

Susanna Clark and Robert Leigh penned the following lyrics for their song, “Come from the Heart”

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money,
You’ve got to love like you’ll never get hurt,
You’ve got to dance like there’s nobody watching,
You’ve got to come from the heart if you want it to work.

These words are proven true over and over again.

Nicolas Cage was recently interviewed about his Oscar-winning performance for Leaving Las Vegas. He said, and I paraphrase, that he was so sure that the film would never been seen that he didn’t worry about what the critics or academy would say, he just committed himself to the role. By not worrying about being watched, he was freed to do something remarkable.

I struggled severely with my first several attempts at writing, not for lack of imagination, but because I was too concerned about forcing my words be best-seller caliber, or at least be quote-worthy. Then I saw a rebroadcasted interview with the late Elmore Leonard, author of dozens of novels.  He repeated his longstanding advice, “If it sounds like writing. Rewrite it.” I realized I just had to start typing, and stop worrying about who was reading. As long as I gave it my all, it would work out in the end like it was supposed to.

If you are reading this, then the process worked, and if you aren’t, well… I’ll still be dancing on Friday.

 

Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured ...
Rhythm, a sequence in time repeated, featured in dance: an early moving picture demonstrates the waltz. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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