#MicroblogMondays: Analyzing Broadway.


(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)


My current car playlist: the soundtrack from the Broadway show “Kinky Boots.” I saw the show a few years ago with my aunt and uncle when it was just out of previews and I really loved it. There’s so much GOOD in it: the up tempo music, the lesson of tolerance for others, self-acceptance, pushing yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, trying to meet family expectations… all of it.

I’ve really needed it lately, so I’ve been listening to it basically non-stop in the car.

Owen is getting into it, too. Which makes my heart happy, since I have an unabashed love for theater and Broadway that I’d love to share with him.

Except it’s like a game of 20 5 billion questions whenever we get in the car together to listen.

Who’s singing now? What happened? Why is he sad? Why shoes? How old is he? Has he met [the other character] yet? Why does she say, “Carry on!” What’s he talking about? What did his dad die of? Why are they fighting? Who is singing now? Why do they love shoes so much?

We can’t even get through a 10 minute ride unless I explain ALL the specifics of what and why and how. With every song.

It takes away a little of the magic, I have to admit.

But yesterday, he said, Mom, you know something? I listen to these shows and I really like them and it makes me want to SEE it. Can we go see Kinky Boots sometime?

I love that he’s getting into it, too.

(I’m just going to make him sit next to Jeff.) 🙂

Posted in #MicroblogMonday, #ThingsIHaveLearned, My Cute Kid | 1 Comment

Because It’s Personal.

I live in a small town. On the 5 miles of main road that leads people in and out of our town, there are three HUGE Trump signs. I’ve been counting signs since earlier this year, and the Trump signs are about 5 to 1. They far outweigh any other sign. My town is also not at all very diverse, and we have a pretty significantly older population – the kind of people that vote down ANY increase in the school budget, because they remember the days when stamps were 10 cents each.

Normally I don’t address politics on this blog.

But this election cycle is different.


I was 11 when a group of boys in the 7th grade noticed I had breasts… and cornered me at school, every day, so they could feel them. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t scream, I didn’t tell anyone about it, it just happened. I don’t actually know how long it went on, nor what happened to get them to stop, but I spent the rest of the year walking around with books or a binder in front of me, hiding the fact that I had a chest.

I was 12 when the new pastor of my church drove me to summer vacation bible school and put his hand on my bare thigh, his fingers just under the hem of my shorts. I just sat there, my heart pounding, pretending I didn’t notice. And on the way home, I made my sister sit between us. I quit going to church that fall.

I was 14 when my friend and I snuck out at night and went to her boyfriend’s house. While she went off into her boyfriend’s room, I sat in a dark room with his brother, who shoved his penis into my mouth so I could suck it. I did, because I didn’t know how to tell him no.

The fallout from these events: I made myself ugly. I gained weight. I hid my face behind massive bangs, and I dressed in baggy clothes. In high school, I crushed on guys who were gay, who I KNEW wouldn’t take advantage of me. In college, I met decent, respectful guys and hung out with them, in my flannels and jeans and baseball hats – I learned how to be one of them. After college, I went back to school for TWO Master degrees, because I thought smart women garner more respect from men. In business, I dressed like a man – pants and black and white and very little makeup. I never got too drunk at business parties, stayed away from personal topics, always talking about work. Work work work.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it.


I watched 20 minutes of the first debate, then went to Facebook to get a sense of what people were thinking and feeling. I don’t actually know any Trump supporters – at least any that would post pro-Trump stuff on Facebook. But what I saw were people continuing to say, I hate them both. It made me feel ill.

I missed the second debate, since we were at a campsite with no cell phone reception. I didn’t hear about the tape of Trump saying he’d grab a woman and take what he wants from her because he’s famous and CAN. I also missed the Facebook live press conference he held AND the actual debate. I was thankful.

I was less thankful when we got home; my neighbor across the street had put up a Trump sign.  Facing my house.

And then, I read an article that a Canadian journalist asked for women to tweet their stories of sexual assault – to overwhelming response. What happened to me happened to millions of other women.

And then… I read what he said about women.

I felt sick all over again.


I’ve been telling myself this whole time – since the first Trump signs in my town went up, since the first debate, when I had such a visceral reaction: Karen, don’t take this election personally. It’s not like people hate YOU or anything. It has nothing to DO with you.

But it’s clear from this weekend: it IS personal.

It always HAS been personal.

We are less than a month away from the election.

On one side, there’s a man who says exactly what he’s thinking, who has usurped politics by normalizing fear and discrimination and domination. He has very few plans, but lots of great lines about Making America Great Again! while also bragging about his penis size and how he can get any woman he wants – regardless of whether they want him or not.

And on the other side, there is a smart, very ambitious woman who has spent her life working in male-dominated worlds, who has learned how to be one of them, who seems cold and distant and hard. People don’t like her.

The crazy thing is that she’s unlikeable because of men like Trump. I know this first hand because I do the same.

So yes, it’s personal. It’s SO personal. And what I can’t understand, what I will never understand, is how people can watch the fucking awfulness that is Trump and say, Yeah, but I don’t like Hillary Clinton.

Because this isn’t about likeability. It’s not even about politics; these are not two equal candidates, debating about their views on domestic and international policies. This is about hate and entitlement and prejudice. With every news story, I have been reliving every time I’ve felt powerless and scared about being female. And saying Yeah, but… continues to normalize it.

It’s not okay.

None of this is okay.

We cannot continue to condone hate and anger. We are all human and equal, and our children deserve better than this.

All of us deserve better than this.

Posted in #BrainDump, Out of My Head, Rants | 19 Comments

Letting Go.

This weekend, we went camping at Acadia National Park.

I was nervous about the weather the week before. Looked like the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy and windy on Sunday, and I didn’t relish the idea of camping in rain AND cold. But then, a few days before we left, the app was showing it would be clear all weekend. Yesssssss.

It’s been a while since we camped, and I probably packed a bit much. I didn’t want to spend money on groceries up there, so I packed as much from home as possible. And as Jeff was putting stuff in the car, he mentioned that we were running low on space. I stood in the mudroom, looking at the jackets I had packed – winter jackets for Owen and I, extra fleece for layering – and decided against ALSO bringing rain gear. I even checked weather underground again. The app said it would be nice all weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, we saw a sign at the campground that said rain on Sunday.


The weather report changed, and Matthew was heading for us. 50 degrees with lots of rain.

And we had no rain gear.

Five years ago, I probably would have forced my family to pack up and head home.

I’ll be honest: I SO WANTED to go home. Without rain gear, we couldn’t hike. The rain would send all the tourists there peeping at the leaves into the restaurants and welcome centers and onto the Park Loop Road and it would be trafficky AND cold and raining… and we were sleeping in a TENT and cooking outside and OMG I just wanted to be home in my house baking and puttering and watching football while chili cooked in the crockpot and then sleeping in my own warm, soft, comfy bed.

But Owen and Jeff didn’t want to go, and I recognized that it would be really unfair of me to make them leave; I’d be putting my own comfort above their desires, and really, that’s kind of selfish.

So we stayed. On Sunday morning we went out to breakfast and got some cheap ponchos at the Rite Aid in town. We changed up our hiking plans when we felt the wind at Jordan Pond and basically spent the day in the car, driving around the island, getting Owen his National Park stamps for his passport. We went to Thunder Hole, Owen’s favorite place, multiple times. We went to Northeast Harbor for coffee. We spent $2.00 each for a warm shower in the afternoon. We went out to Bar Harbor for dinner. And then we went back to our tent and played cards until we were ready for sleeping.

And holy shit it was cold and loud overnight. Both Jeff and I kept waking up to make sure there wasn’t water in the tent – there wasn’t – and then when the wind blew through, it sounded like a plane or a freight train. Owen was up a couple times overnight because he was cold, until I convinced him to put on a fleece and gloves inside his sleeping bag.

The next morning, we huddled inside our sleeping bags for warmth and laughed about how silly we looked. And then we broke down the campsite, got back into the car, drove the Park Loop one last time, and then headed home.

It doesn’t really sound like much, I know. Kinda like a first world thing: Gee, I’m so proud of myself for sticking it out! We basically spent the day in the car and in restaurants – it’s not like we were really roughing it.

But I can tell you, the decision to stay, for me, was not easy. I was mad that I didn’t bring the gear with us, mad at Jeff for telling me we didn’t have space in the car which CAUSED me to make the decision to not bring the gear with us, mad that the stupid weather app was wrong which made me feel like we didn’t need our rain gear, mad that we were spending more money than I had budgeted because we didn’t have our rain gear, uncomfortable and cold every time I stepped out of our car because I didn’t have my rain gear.  I wanted to go home ALL DAY on Sunday. And I fought the urge to buy more rain gear at the multiple stores in town so we could actually hike and warm up that way.

Hi, I’m Karen, and I’m a control freak.

As I got home and was uploading pictures to Facebook, I realized that in all of them from Sunday, we are actually having fun.

It was cold, yes. And wet. And windy. And did I mention it was cold?

But letting go of my idea that camping HAS to be comfortable in order for us to have fun is a good thing, too.

So yes, I’m really glad we stayed.


Posted in #BrainDump, #FindingMyHappy, #ThingsIHaveLearned | Leave a comment

When The Scars Run Deep.

A memory popped up on Facebook yesterday: a picture of my friend Heather and I finishing the Wineglass Half Marathon in 2012.


I was pregnant in this picture.

It was early on, but my numbers were climbing the way they should have. I was doing intramuscular shots of progesterone in oil, and I was really, really hopeful.

I spent the entirety of my pregnancy with Owen terrified of something happening to him, so when I got the first positive on a home pregnancy test, I told myself I was going to remain positive and optimistic. This time would be different, I thought.

The race wasn’t my best. I had turned my ankle a week before the race, and somehow the day of I managed to badly sprain my ankle at the start – literally right after I ran over the start mat. Still, though, I managed to run with Heather the whole way, and I never bonked or ran hard enough that I felt like it was too much for me. And I cried running across the finish line, because I was so happy.

I miscarried a few weeks after this picture.

It was our last attempt at trying for a sibling for Owen. It was too much, all the uncertainty, the hoping and failing and shots and appointments and retrievals and transfers. We had spent 5 years altogether waging war against infertility, and we just had to shake our heads and admit defeat.


A couple weeks ago, I went to my primary care doctor for my annual physical. On the top of the list of questions I had for her, I mentioned to her that I had been having some symptoms of menopause – night sweats, insomnia, a few hot flashes. Isn’t it early for this? I asked her. I’m only 40.

She told me that she had patients who were in full on menopause at 45, and others who were in their 50s before they felt symptoms. We couldn’t know for sure, because my mom had a hysterectomy and never hit menopause herself, and it was a little early, she told me, but I’m over 40, and it’s possible what I’m feeling is menopause.

In one breath, relief. Every monthly cycle is a reminder of what I’ve lost. Once you know your body’s cycle, you can’t un-know it, and I can’t tell you how many cycles I’ve bitterly noted my body’s signs, knowing it was no use.

But then, too. The End. We might have walked away from treatments 4 years ago, but always, always, there’s this tiny chance. Maybe. SO unlikely, remote. But maybe. Even though I’m 40 and oh my god where would we put a baby and I can’t even imagine starting all over again. I really do not want a baby right now.

But there’s still a microscopic flame of hope. Always.


Just as ripples spread in water when a stone is tossed into a lake… our years of struggling with infertility have had a profound effect on me.

It’s taken me the better part of the past 4 years to stop punishing myself and my body for its failure, to let go of the fact the idea that my body failed me in a basic, biological, fundamental way.

We are still dealing with the repercussions on our relationship, too. I’ve heard about infertility bringing couples closer as they fight for the family they dream of. That is not our story. Jeff and I have very different ways of coping with our grief, and it affects us to this day.

And despite being 99.99999% at peace with having an only child – I really don’t want a baby right now, there is a part of me that grieves and longs and screams, I want! when I hold a new baby.

This time of year is so hard. I so wish I had been able to have another baby.

Today, I sat on my therapist’s couch, and I cried – again – at how hard it is to “get over” infertility. Even though I have an 8 year old son, who I carried to term.  I know how lucky I am – we got so damn lucky.

I’m aware of just how lucky I am, really.

But also, I grieve that it was so hard.

I grieve that I didn’t bring home the baby that was safely tucked inside me 4 years ago when I ran that half marathon. She’s gone.

It still hurts like hell.

Posted in #BrainDump, Ancient History, Challenges, Races, Writing. | 1 Comment

#MicroblogMondays: Sorted Wrong.


(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)


For as much as I love JK Rowling and the Harry Potter books, it’s a little ridiculous that I had never been over to Pottermore until this past week. I’m not even sure why.

But , when I saw people posting about their Patronus, I went over, created an account, and did the Patronus test. My Patronus was a grey and white cat, which made me very happy, because when I was growing up my cats made me very happy, and I love the idea that a cat would protect me from dark and evil things.

Then, though, I took the sorting quiz.

And it put me in Slytherin.


No. I don’t WANT to be a Slytherin. I never wanted to be sorted into Slytherin. I’m sure there are plenty of nice people in there – the ones who didn’t cause any trouble, who just went about making friends and learning how to be wizards and witches and never bothered anyone. But it’s not for me, no thank you.

So I looked for ways to change it, and retake the sorting test, because clearly the Hat made a mistake.

I did not see a way to change it. I was in Slytherin, and that was that.

I was not okay with it. I mean, even HARRY had some control in which house he was Sorted into. Why didn’t I?

This wasn’t okay.

So I deleted my Pottermore account. And I went back in and REDID the Sorting, and the quiz gave me different questions this time, and again, I had no choice in the matter.

But this time, it put me in Ravenclaw, which is where I belong, and I was SO RELIEVED.

The only thing is that I had to re-do my Patronus test. And instead of a grey and white cat, my Patronus is now a rare Eagle Owl.

Which is fine, I guess. But I would have preferred my grey and white cat.

Pottermore, you need to allow people to have some say in the Sorting. Otherwise it’s not at ALL true to the book.

Posted in #MicroblogMonday, Mindless Posts | 3 Comments

The Solution (Part of It, Anyway) To Finding Time.

I can’t tell you all how frustrated I’ve been with my lack of getting my ass into my writing chair this summer and just writing. I can SEE the fact that I’m making distractions for myself, getting caught up in email and other tasks. I watch it happen, and I get frustrated with myself.

I know it’s better for me to write daily, too. I used to have a blog that I wrote in daily, no matter what, and my writing felt like it flowed so much better than it does now.

So two days ago, after I wrote and scheduled my blog post… I drew up a contract with myself.

I wrote out this quote from Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird:

You sit down, I say. You try to sit down at approximately the same time every day. This is how you train your unconscious to kick in for you creatively. So you sit down at, say, nine every morning, or ten every night. You put a piece of paper in the typewriter, or you turn on the computer and bring up the right file, and then you stare at it for an hour or so. You begin rocking, just a little at first, and then like a huge autistic child. You look at the ceiling, and over at the clock, yawn, and stare at the paper again. Then, with your fingers poised on the keyboard, you squint at an image that is forming in your mind — a scene, a locale, a character, whatever — and you try to quiet your mind so you can hear what that landscape or character has to say above the other voices in your mind.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

And then wrote out a contract for myself: Through December 31, for one hour every day, after Owen goes to bed, I will commit to this process.

I signed it, dated it, and posted it on my wall.

According to actual research, it takes 66 days for something new to become habit. I’m giving myself a little over 100 days.

It’s a start.

Posted in Challenges, Goals, Strategies, Writing. | 1 Comment

#MicroblogMondays: Making Time Is Hard. Especially When It’s Hard.


(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)


I’ve been really struggling with creating the habit of writing. I do actually spend 20 minutes to a half hour every morning – first thing! – doing my morning pages, so it’s not that. It’s the practice of sitting down at my computer and actually writing that I’m having trouble with.

What happens is that I have a great idea, usually when I’m in the car. When I get to work, I’ll maybe take some notes and promise myself that I will absolutely sit down and spend some more time with it later. Sometimes later never comes, because it’s busy with training and work and then parenting and soccer practice and then meetings and oh wait, I forgot that there’s some important task to finish or I need to see my friends and aw crap, I forgot to get some ingredient at the grocery store so I have to go now. On those days, I tell myself, okay, I’ll write tomorrow. And I console myself with the fact that it’s the first week or so of school, it’s busy, I’ll get back to it once things settle down.

But then, when I have actually managed to carve out some time here and there to write, where I sit down at my computer with the best of intentions that I’m going to set my timer and just write – about anything, Karen! Anne Lamott says so! – I end up staring at a blank post or word document, then clicking onto another web browser and going onto Facebook. Or checking my email. Or checking my phone to see if a friend has messaged me. Or calling my sister. Or finding some obscure psychology article to read.

Until all the time I had planned fades away, and it’s business as usual; dinner, shower, bedtime, my own bedtime, spending time with my husband, etc etc etc etc.

This is a a problem.

It’s a problem because I actually need to spend time writing more, not less.  I need to get all the gunked up crap from years of not writing out of me, and the only way to do it is to write a lot more than I do now. It’s so hard, though. I’m simultaneously trying to be okay with writing crap, partly because I know perfectionism if my enemy right now.

But also? Finding the words to get to the heart of a story is really fucking hard.

And I think that’s why I keep getting distracted and finding other things to do instead of sitting and focusing on writing. It’s why, before I actually began this post, I started to write myself a grocery list for tomorrow. It’s why, in the MIDDLE of writing this post, I started copying down a quote of Anne Lamott’s which I want to tape to my wall.

Writing when it’s hard is part of the process. It’s hard though.

Especially when it’s hard.

Posted in #FindingMyHappy, Challenges, Writing. | 5 Comments

An Ode: Why I Run. And Swim. And Bike.

A note: I FINALLY HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME! Our router died, and it took us this long to get a new one. Please forgive my absence, mmmkay?


My parents were in town a few weeks ago for a visit. And as is their custom for the past half decade or so, there is ALWAYS a discussion whereupon my father or mother says, somewhat wonderingly:

Where did you get this Running Thing from?

(Ummmmm… actually, Mom and Dad, now I bike and swim too!)

I recognize that from the outside, it’s hard to understand why I, willingly, wake up before 4am in order to get a workout done in the mornings. It’s hard to fathom the hours I put into swimming and biking and running – unless you are into it as well. Even Jeff thinks I’m crazy to spend as much time doing what I do.

It’s possible I AM a little crazy for doing it. I certainly was obsessed years ago. That obsession has faded into a feeling of, well, this is just what I do.

Every day.



There’s a moment in every workout: The intake of breath as I stand in waist deep water in the pond, regarding the rising sun, before I plunge my face into the cool water to start my swim… The warmth and strength in my legs as I pedal my bike hard, my eyes streaming from the wind in my face, the sun warm on my shoulders… The cadence of my feet as I run, my breath coming rhythmic and regular, my heart beating strong.

In those moments, tension and to dos and thoughts and worries and responsibilities all melt away.

I am fully present in this body of mine, with its strength and fatigue and heavy limbs and aching muscles.

I’m alive, I’m breathing, I’m present.

I’m Enough, and all the Not Enoughs that dog me relentlessly most moments fade away, leaving me with just, well, ME, in the afternoon/evening/morning air.

I am everything and nothing.

I am human and alive.

And then, when I get tired, I find that edge of discomfort, and I tuck myself away on one side, breathing, watching my mind scream, I can’t! and comforting her with a you CAN. You ARE.

It’s so empowering: finding that edge, the place where you think, I can’t do this! And then going past it, turning back to see it behind you. It’s made me more flexible, willing to tolerate discomfort in my regular life. It’s helped me make changes which allow me to creep ever closer to my True Self; becoming aware of myself deeper than the voice in my head, the one that dictates all the tasks of my days.

That, Mom and Dad, is why I run and bike and swim.

Posted in #BrainDump, #FindingMyHappy, Races, Training Plans, Triathlon, Wellness | 1 Comment

#MicroblogMondays: In Defense of Downtime.


(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)


Our August was busy with vacations, pool time with friends, parties and gatherings and dinners, time with visitors, and camp and library visits. And, really, we do this every summer –  stuff as much as possible into the summer months, because we know we will be heading into Hibernation Mode come October, where it gets dark and cold and grey.

But it doesn’t leave much in the way of downtime. For the past few weeks especially, I’ve felt as if I’ve been in kind of a Survival Mode; trying to stay on top of the most pressing items on my To Do list. I have only been able to take my life one day at a time; I have been too overwhelmed to look beyond it.

And it has affected me emotionally. I’m tired and grumpy and anxious and stressed. Especially these last two weeks, I’ve been struggling with anxiety, enough that I’ve had to take a few minutes multiple times a day to focus only on my breathing in order to stave off what feels like a mounting panic attack.

This weekend, Owen had his first club soccer tournament, which was scheduled for Saturday and yesterday. We spent most of the weekend after his games being social and then doing fun stuff together.

Today the weather was supposed to be cold and raining, so we deliberately did not make plans today; we thought maybe we’d have a family movie day. I even had a rare rest day from workouts scheduled, since I have my next half ironman race next Sunday.

The weather changed, and it’s gorgeous and sunny.

So we slept in, had some breakfast, then I wrote and meditated… then, while Jeff and Owen went fishing, I’ve puttered around and done all the things I haven’t made time for this past month: cleaning/decluttering, going through mail, changing and washing our sheets and towels, prepping food for the week.

It feels luxurious. It feels calming. I can feel myself unfurling, the tension in my shoulders loosening, my breath coming easier.

I need to remember this for next summer, when I keep adding things to do into our schedule. Down time is important, too.

Posted in #FindingMyHappy, #MicroblogMonday, #ThingsIHaveLearned | 1 Comment

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

I was driving south on Rt 95 yesterday, in the left lane, singing aloud to Hamilton, when all of a sudden there was dirt spraying and this Jeep tumbling madly. Right in front of me.

It landed upside down, its wheels spinning.

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, I kept saying. I stopped my car, put on my hazards, and got out –  the first person to get to the crumpled, upside down Jeep. I had no idea what I was going to see.

There was a guy in it, hanging upside down, held into his seat by his seat belt. He responded to me through the window when I asked, Yes, I’m okay. He was alone. He managed to wrench the door open, told me again, I’m okay, then released himself from the seat belt – falling on his head, groaning, then crawled out of the car with the help of another man who had also stopped. And he sat in the dirt, next to his smashed, upside down car.

Like a true Massachusetts driver, his first question was, Did you see the asshole who cut me off? Did he bail? I hadn’t seen anything but dirt and tumbling car, but the man who helped him out of the car had, and the other car did stop and was waiting on the shoulder across the highway.

Then, from the other side of the median, an unmarked police car pulled up with his lights on and started walking across the median. And I felt like there wasn’t much I could do, so I walked back, got into my car, and drove away, a little shaky from adrenaline.

Thank goodness he was okay.

It happened right in front of me.

It could have been me.

I work really hard at staying alive. I exercise every day, prepare healthy foods for my family and eat very little junk food. I always match my carbohydrates with protein to avoid the diabetes that is so prevalent in my family. I see a therapist and meditate and write.

Thing is? It could have been me yesterday, and I could have walked away from it like the guy did, or I could have been really, really hurt. Or I could have died.

You have no control who lives, who dies, who tells your story.

I’m sitting with this today.

Posted in #BrainDump, Challenges, Deep., Wellness, Writing. | 2 Comments