Category Archives: Health

I ran 13.1 miles & all I got was this lousy self-esteem

People do dumb things. It’s one of the few things you can rely on. You’ve probably heard that old quote that goes “the only constant is change.” But really it should be amended to “the only constants are change and people do dumb things.”

I should know. I am a people and I just did something dumb.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Not dumb enough for you? Just wait, there’s more. I ran a half marathon during a Nor’easter, which is a wicked storm featuring heavy rain and snow and strong winds.

Still not dumb enough for you? Here’s the best part. I paid not-dumb people $80 for this privilege.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would one day sign up to run a half marathon, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you I would have seen my brain. Shoot, if you would have told me just last year that I would sign up to run a half marathon, I…well, I wouldn’t have heard you over my screaming children. But after I asked you to repeat it four times I would have responded by laughing so hard I probably would have woken up the baby and then I would have thrown a pan at your face for making me wake up the baby.

And yet, there I was. On Saturday in Cape Cod. Running 13.1 miles. In a row. On purpose.

Not only that, I trained for it. For months, I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and strapping on my shoes and running four, five, six miles in the dark. On the weekends, it was seven, eight, nine miles. All on voluntary terms. All without anything chasing me. And all with no other purpose than I needed to run a lot to get ready to run even more.

Like I said, dumb.

On the plus side, it was also hard and painful and exhausting.

But it was transformative.

For some reason in our society we have this idea that people don’t change. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I do know we evolve.

We evolve with each trial and tribulation we overcome. We evolve every time we learn something new. With every new experience, every new person we meet, we evolve. We evolve every time we fall in love. We evolve with each heartbreak. We evolve when we hold our children for the first time.

And we evolve every time we conquer what we think is the unconquerable.

That’s why I signed up, dumb as it was. It’s easy to think that the way things are, the way you are, is how it will always be, how you will always be. I was a tired, overwhelmed mom who was getting increasingly frustrated at both herself and the way the world was.

But change is the only constant. And that’s why I ran (limped) for miles in a storm. To prove I could evolve. That I could become the kind of person who crosses the finish line. That I can be whoever I want.

And now that I did, I have a whole list of other unconquerables. I want to write a novel. And a children’s book. To become a decent photographer. To buy a house and foster orphaned pets. To be the best mom and wife and daughter I can. And, lord help me, to run a full marathon.

And there are now fewer doubts in my mind that I can do all these things. Because I evolved. Because through this experience, I became a better version of myself.

And look, this could just be the endorphins talking here, but finishing that half marathon gives me just a little bit more hope for all of us. We can be better. We can make this world better. We can do the impossible because history has shown us that doing the impossible is what humans excel at.

All we have to do is try hard. Forgive ourselves. And try harder.

And yes, I realize how naive this all sounds but hey, we could all stand to be a bit dumber that way.

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I believe you.

I am angry.

I am tired.

I am sad.

But mostly, I am angry.

All week I’ve been glued to social media, watching how people are reacting to the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. And realizing just how far we haven’t come.

I’ve also been watching as my female friends and family have come out with their own horrific sexual assault stories in the wake of this news cycle. And realizing just how many people quietly carry these scars in a world that refuses to believe them.

And I find myself left with nothing left to say. Nothing that hasn’t already been said. Nothing that will matter. Nothing that can make this world a place where men don’t rape women and children on a regular basis and never get punished for it.

So instead, I’m only going to write the two following things.

The first is this brief message: To all the women, men and children who have been sexually assaulted, I believe you, I love you and I am here for you if you need anything.

And the second is this list of resources should you ever want or need it:

The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center: www.nsvrc.org

The National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-2253

National Teen Dating Abuse Online Helpline: www.loveisrespect.org

GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project: 1-800-832-1901, www.glbtqdvp.org

Take Back The Night Foundation: 1-866-966-9013, https://takebackthenight.org

For further resources, call RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) at 1-800-656-HOPE or go to www.rainn.org.

Ways to unsuccessfully deal with insomnia

 

  1. Watch something. But not something too interesting. But also not so boring that it allows your mind to wander. Maybe something you’ve already seen but enjoyed. Preferably where at least one character has a British accent and is trying to solve a crime.
  2. Read something. Same rules apply.
  3. Eat something. Because, hey, it’s there and what else have you got to do?
  4. Count something. Sheep seem to be pretty popular, followed by minutes (“if I fall asleep now, I can still get 3.5 hours of sleep before the alarm goes off”).
  5. Argue something. In your head. Obsessively. Finally find a way to win that Facebook argument from 2015.
  6. Take something. Tylenol PM, perhaps? Or that melatonin that has never ever worked but yet you still keep a giant bottle of it by your bed? Does children’s benadryl work on adults?
  7. Rearrange something. Because you’ll definitely be able to sleep once all your bookshelves are ripped apart and then put back together in a slightly different organizational pattern.
  8. Worry about something. Like every single bad thing that could happen to your children.
  9. Eat something again. It’s now 3:30 a.m. Screw it.
  10. While you’re at it, watch something else. Maybe a 90’s sitcom will do it.
  11. Pray for something. Perhaps divine intervention from the deity of your choosing. Or an anvil to fall from the sky and onto your head, finally knocking you out. Or modern science to prove that sleep is unnecessary for survival.
  12. Scroll something. Sure, they say to avoid technology when you can’t sleep but you aren’t going to sleep anyway so may as well stalk that girl from seventh grade who used to bully you.
  13. Wake something. Like your husband. Who is peacefully sleeping right beside you in the most obnoxious manner possible. Misery does love company…
  14. How is he still sleeping? If you poke him any harder he’ll likely have internal bleeding.  
  15. Sigh.
  16. Clean something.
  17. Eh, never mind.
  18. Daydream something. Maybe cue up that one about marrying Chris Pratt (after your husband dies and you mourn the appropriate amount of time, of course).
  19. Plan something. May as well use all this time productively. Just a quick 36-point plan to improve every aspect of your life.
  20. Is there any cheese left?
  21. Research something. Like how insomnia causes premature aging. Then get up and slather more moisturizer on your decrepit face.
  22. Drink something? Warm milk? Ugh. Gross. No. Then maybe just a small glass of whiskey? Nah. It’s practically morning.
  23. Write something. Like, say, a list of all the futile ways you can try to combat insomnia.

But I still can’t define irony

You know how when you have kids and you look down for just a second to tie their shoe or pick up their Legos and the next thing you know it’s five years later and everything is different and you have no idea what is going on outside of your living room? Well, I just looked up and somehow, between getting knocked up with my first child and celebrating the second birthday of my youngest child, every single person I have ever met has jumped, to varying degrees, on the personal improvement bandwagon.

Everyone is on the path to wellness.

I mean, I scroll through Facebook and they’re signing up for 5k’s in droves. They’re posting 6 a.m. gym selfies. It’s been four months without a cigarette and two years without a drink and nearly half a decade since that demon gluten has touched their lips. They’ve changed their entire way of thinking about food and diet and sustainability and are consuming whole foods they got at Whole Foods. They’re eating like cavemen and dinosaurs and feeling amazing. AND they lost 17 pounds on whatever a keto is.

The ones who used to complain about people complaining about them smoking are now the ones complaining about the people smoking. They’re meditating and traveling and replenishing their souls. They’re politically active and raising money for charity AND doing it all while raising politically active, charity-minded families.

Because they have all turned into time management GODS. They work eight hours, maybe ten, hell, sometimes twelve, and then go home and record a podcast, or an album, or both, which they do while also sewing quilts, which they sell on Etsy, which they in turn use that money to pay for the food and medicine all the rescue dogs they are fostering need.

If it sounds like I’m making fun, I’m really not. I think this collective transformation I’m witnessing whilst splayed out on my couch is amazing and life-affirming and inspiring. I just felt a little out of the loop because one, I was in survival mode with my small children for so long that it’s hard to imagine everyone else doesn’t also buy cookie dough and wine in bulk. And two, I’m old enough to remember what counted as “wellness” before Goop and Instagram came along.

Sit down and let Auntie Aprill give you a brief “wellness” history lesson, kids. See, when I was a kid in the 80’s, being healthy meant eating giant tubs of pretzels and then burning those calories off by half-assedly participating in one of the 78 VHS workout tapes you owned. In the 90’s, no one even ate food. All our nutrients came from Diet Coke and cigarettes and our only exercise was ripping very elaborate holes in our jeans that we all claimed were from legit wear-and-tear. And none of us could afford therapy so we just watched “Reality Bites” over and over and over again. 

In the early 2000’s, wellness consisted of wearing gaudy pink tracksuits with “Juicy” written on the butt and taking over the recommended dose of those diet pills Anna Nicole Smith was shilling. We also cut down our indoor tanning time by, like, a fourth, because cancer or whatever. By the time Obama was in office, we were mixing our vodka and Red Bull with a dash of vitamin water like the responsible adults we had become and, as long as we were doing less drugs than Lindsay Lohan, we pretty much considered ourselves in good shape.

But now, well, now people are striving to get healthy in actually healthy ways. Long term ways. Scientifically proven ways. In ways that address their physical, mental and emotional needs.

It’s a potent idea. So potent, it’s even rubbed off on me. ME. The person who used to consider binge-watching “My 600-lb Life” as exercise because, hey, I wasn’t ON the show or anything. But, now that I have kids, I want to live forever. Even more importantly, while I am living, I want to feel good and be present and be content. For them. And my husband. And me. (WELLNESS!).

Which is why I signed up to run a half marathon this October. And it’s why I drink more moderately now (although it’s a Boston moderate, which is still enough alcohol to kill your average Californian). And it’s why I cook most of our meals. From INGREDIENTS. And why I’m busy making outlines for the books I want to write. And why this summer I didn’t sign my children up for anything and we just explored and traveled at our leisure. And why I’m saving up my money, not for things, but for experiences. And I’m reaching out to my friends more because loneliness is a silent killer. I’m even donating to the occasional goddamn charity.

22-year-old me would hate 37-year-old me.

But screw her. I feel better. I do. I ran almost seven miles Sunday morning. And then went gallivanting around the city with my family. And then still had the energy to go out to a coffee shop and write for a couple of hours before heading home to put the kids to bed. And then I collapsed on the couch, exhausted. But a good exhausted. Life’s too short for unhealthy coping mechanisms.

All in all, I’m quite proud of myself. Of all of us. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Which is also why I won’t feel guilty when, as soon as I post this, I’m going to mix this can of Diet Coke with some whiskey and watch “Reality Bites.”

You know, for old time’s sake.

37 things I’ve learned in 37 years

Decluttering your life only works if you refuse to allow your family back into the house.

You should do one thing every day that scares you, like skydiving, or answering your phone when it rings even though this will likely result in having to talk to another human being.

When you’re a mom, children turn into gremlins the minute they find out it is your birthday.

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After a certain age, every musical guest on Saturday Night Live makes you squint and say “who the hell is that?”

Always do the voices when reading books to your kids.

If an entire drawer in your fridge isn’t devoted solely to cheese, are you even really living?

Nazis are bad. Always. No exceptions.

Saving the planet is good. Always. No exceptions.

If you cook Thanksgiving dinner, apologize for nothing. I don’t care if the turkey tastes like hot garbage and the mashed potatoes are on fire. You just spent 16 hours in the kitchen. Apologize. For. Nothing.

Everyone talks about how important it is to drink water but it is equally important to know that if you do start drinking water, you’ll have to keep doing it forever because now you notice how dehydrated and awful and death-ish you feel when you don’t drink water. You’ve been warned.

If you take your dog on a walk, he will poop exactly one more time than the amount of plastic baggies you brought with you.

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Don’t say maybe when you want to say no.

After a certain age, you wake up in pain for no discernible reason. Maybe it’s from your three-mile run. Maybe it’s from when your toddler was practicing WWE moves on you while you tried to make dinner. Maybe it’s because you sneezed too hard. Who knows?

Pillow fights are fun for exactly 24 seconds before it all devolves into attempted mass murder via fluff.

Parenting gets easier the day you realize that the food will never be eaten, the laundry will never be done and the term “clean” is now highly malleable.

Don’t just be nice. Strive to be kind.

Camping is always a great idea. At first. Then nature happens. A lot of it.

Never feed small children spaghetti unless it’s their bath night.

Never feed old dogs leftover spaghetti unless it’s their bath night.

No matter how many times you threaten them, someone is going to eventually poop in the tub on bath night.

Wine.

After a certain age, people start looking too young to be your doctor.

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Remember to have fun.

You can never own too many books. You can definitely own too many cheese slicers. (Seven. SEVEN.)

Make friends with people who understand you when you say things like “I’m having a really good boob day.”

Screw it. Just order pizza for dinner.

Let your loved one know you care. Pinch their butt more.

Resist the urge to buy your children finger paints. They’ll play with them for five minutes and it will take you roughly the rest of your life to clean up the mess.

After a certain age, no matter how positive you are that you’re right, you are definitely not using that Internet slang term correctly. Trust me. I’m Netflix and chill AF.   

Don’t let your kids “win” at board games. That’s how those insufferable people who say “well, actually” are created. Crush them at Candyland. Crush them hard. Society will thank you.

Making the bed in the morning seems so pointless. Until you go to bed.

Kids are resilient. So are you.

Your partner cannot read your mind. When they make you angry, tell them how you feel right into their big, dumb, stupid face.

For those of you wondering, a nice Kentucky whiskey pairs best with dinnertime temper tantrums.

After a certain age, you’ll start yelling at people to stop wasting paper towels. Do not panic. This is a natural part of the aging process.

Slow down. The only thing waiting for you at the end of all this is death.

I’m 37 now and I can officially declare that there are no grown-ups. We’re all faking it.

Beggars can be choosers

Do you have pearls on right now? If so, prepare to clutch them…

I no longer care what my kids eat.

Oh yeah. I said it. And I mean it. This nose ring and these tattoos aren’t just for show. I’m a rebel mom. (slowly pulls off motorcycle helmet and shakes out hair)

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I. Don’t. Care. You hear me, world? I DON’T CARE.

OK, OK, I do care. Of course I care. I’m a mom. (sets down motorcycle helmet and puts on cardigan) I’ll care about what my kids eat until the day I die. In fact, my last words will likely be “are you eating enough vegetables, honey?”

However, I did have an epiphany recently that means I will no longer fight with my kids over what they eat at dinner. (takes off cardigan and puts on cardigan decorated with skulls!)

I was 35 the first time I tried cream cheese on a bagel. My whole life, up until that fateful day, I had dutifully been spreading butter on my bagels. Like an idiot.

I have two college degrees, am a voracious reader, spent years working as a journalist, and literally thought cream cheese on a bagel was icky for no other reason than I decided it was icky one day as a small child despite having never tried it. And I held onto that belief for multiple decades despite the whole world telling me it was one of the most delicious combos ever dreamed up by humans.

And when I finally did try it (AT THE AGE OF 35), it was so amazing I literally stole the other half of the bagel from my 3-year-old son.

Worst of all is that this is just the latest in a series of foods I finally tried as an adult that I spent my whole life thinking were icky.

I was 21 before I tried coffee (and 27 when I tried it black for the first time).

I was 25 before I tried hummus.

I was 28 when I first tried guacamole.

And the first half of my 30’s has been busy trying and falling in love with crab rangoon, artichoke hearts, falafel, spinach dip, reuben sandwiches and all the cheeses outside of the “colby” range.

So, I no longer care what my kids choose to eat off their plates. Because, honestly, how can I expect them to have a more reasonable attitude toward food than I do? A grown woman who still has never tasted a mushroom (AT THE AGE OF 36) because the word fungus makes me cringe?

“But, Aprill!” I hear you yelling at the screen as you clutch those pearls. “You don’t want your kids to end up like you, do you!? Isn’t that all the more reason to force them to try stuff?”

And yes, you’re right. I don’t want my kids to be 35 and just realizing that cream cheese is the delicious glue that holds our entire society together. However, my mom once forced me to eat a tomato when I was six and we had a three hour standoff over it and it became a core memory and one that I tell everyone about and I still, to this day, hate tomatoes and refuse to eat them. So, that method isn’t always foolproof either.

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More importantly, I’d much rather my kids have a sane mother, a mother who is not angry and frustrated at every meal, than for them to have a diverse palate. I no longer want to be the mom who hijacks dinner over a bite of corn. Because that is what every meal was starting to feel like. A hostage situation. With exhausting and tedious negotiations. It got to the point that everyone was starting to dread meal time.

Which is why I’m taking dinner back. I want to sit around and talk about our day and laugh and joke and relax. I want breakfast to be a bonding experience and not a waterboarding experience. I want to hand them their lunch plates and when they say “I don’t want to eat that,” I simply respond “OK, just eat the other stuff” and BOOM. We move onto other things.

It’s a gamble, sure. My kids will likely end up with scurvy. But then again, pretty much all of parenthood is one giant gamble, isn’t it?

In the end, having a bowl of peas on the table that everyone ignores is a pretty small price to pay for wonderful memories sitting around the kitchen table with the people you love.

And besides, peas are icky.

 

Death (doesn’t) become her

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.

Oh, sorry. That might be a bit too heavy of a sentence right off the bat. This is meant to be a “humor” column, after all. Let me start over.

Good morning! How are you? I’m fantastic. My toddler had a meltdown inside a store and I dropped a meatball on my baby’s face. But Starbucks is now selling their Peppermint Mocha Latte again so it all evened out.

Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately. Not any particular death. Just in general. Like, what does it all mean? Is there an afterlife? Will the mortician doing the makeup on my dead face get my eyeliner right?

But mostly, I’ve been obsessing about how I definitely do not want to die. Like, ever.

You might think that something like that should go without saying, but then you are likely a well-adjusted person with a 401K and someone who didn’t spend the first 35 years of their life thinking okra was some kind of seafood.

Not that I ever wished for death (the Great Flu Vomitpalooza of 2015, which occurred right after the Great Chinese Buffet Overindulgence Shamefest of 2015, notwithstanding). I fully enjoy breathing and all that comes with it. It’s just that in past I was always fairly laid back regarding mortality.

This was especially true when I was young, because when you’re young, you are invincible. Death is merely theoretical. Like, yeah, everyone dies. Of course. I never will but sure, yeah, I get it. Everyone dies.

Except me.

Then I got older and started having to adult full-time. And while I now truly understood that, yes, I too will die someday, I was still somewhat ambivalent at this point because paying taxes and dating are just the worst. I didn’t want to die, per se. But, hey, if it meant not having to awkwardly break up with Craig via text and would end this epic hangover from hell, I wouldn’t, you know, rage against the dying of the light or anything.

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But then I had kids. And those adorable little jerks changed everything because the millisecond after looking into their tiny screaming faces for the very first time, I knew that I absolutely had to live forever. FOREVER. I can never, ever, ever, ever leave them. EVER. I’ve often heard people say “my children are my reason for living.” Well, my children are the reason I can no longer die.

EVER.

Seriously, the thought of leaving them reduces me to heaving sobs and the ugliest of ugly cries. I have so much more to teach them! So much more to show them! At least 80 more Thanksgiving dinners with them where I ruin the day with another Star Wars vs. Star Trek argument!

And then there are the million more days I need with them because they are simply the best human beings to have ever existed.   

Because that’s the thing about having kids. Even with the exhaustion and the fears and the tantrums and the mysterious smells emanating from under the couch, my kids make my life more. More colorful. More fun. More beautiful.

Every holiday is magical again. A walk through the woods is full of gnomes and fairies again. And love is back to its purest, simplest form again.

It’s life in Technicolor.

And there is no way I’m missing out on a single minute.

So, currently my plan is to live to 114, where I will be raising my great-grandchildren because my granddaughter June is a complete hot mess because she was too spoiled by her grandmother. And by then, when I finally do kick the bucket, the technology will exist to link up my consciousness with a computer, turning me into an awesome old lady robot who says completely inappropriate things in a cool robot voice.

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Or better yet, I will become a vampire. And when my children die, I will spend the rest of my immortality just chilling at their grave sites and going trick-or-treating with my great-great-great grandchildren and eating all the descendants of the people who bullied me when I was in elementary school.

Because the alternative is no longer acceptable. I simply cannot ever leave my kids.

I’m not just going to rage against the dying of the light.

I’m going to punch it in the throat and knee it in the balls.