Sunday, August 30, 2015

Camp Auntie Sarah

I had the pleasure of spending the past ten days with two of my nieces and nephews. Four of those days, the third of the Watts clan was part of the fun. My sister has named this week Camp Auntie Sarah. Because this is my second year hanging out with the kids, she must have decided to formalize the name. What a fantastic ten days!!!

I learned a lot during camp because I feel like I got to take a look at my life through a child's eye. It reminded me of some of the most important lessons that I have learned in life so far.

Here are the lessons:

Treat people how you want to be treated: When I was a kid, I was relentlessly teased by my siblings. I'm certain I annoyed the crap out of them, which is likely why they teased me. They had me stick my tongue to D batteries, vacuumed my back, gave me 'sprite' or some mixture of baking soda and vinegar to drink. While watching my niece and nephew relentlessly tease each other one minute, and play games the next, that actions really do speak louder than words. They knew that when they told each other that they suck, that neither of them really meant it, because when it came down to the tough moments of getting on roller coasters that were scary, they anxiously encouraged each other (by calling the other a wimp) and then climbed on and high fived afterwards while saying, 'see it wasn't that bad.'

Stay away from the edge of cliffs and Double Sclerosis: While at Great Falls we hiked around, near cliffs. I'm not the steadiest on my feet anymore and so I choose to stay away from edges that don't have rails. Rose turned around and tried to encourage me to come to the cliff, at which point I gently stated that I fall over too easily and so I wasn't going to get any closer. I heard my sister chuckle, and I didn't quite know why. Several minutes later as we were walking back to the car, Christina asked me if I heard was Rose said. I hadn't... Apparently after I said I wasn't coming to the edge, Rose asked if I wasn't going to come closer because of the Double Sclerosis. I got a nice chuckle and then walked right off the edge of the trail almost falling over!

Stop to enjoy the little wonders of the world: There was a bug, a big bug of some sort near the trail at Great Falls. I would not have noticed this bug because I was too anxious for the boat ride. I turned around and squatting next to the trail are all the kiddos and their dad. They were obsessing over the dirt, so I thought. Next thing I know, Liam is walking over with a big ole bug on a leaf. That bug turned into his center for a few minutes. He examined, and was fascinated with the bug. He took the moment to forget about the boat ride to watch a bug! Seeing that wonder while he explored was a great reminder that the small things are the things that matter.

Be nice to your parents: Someone who must have been smart pointed out that we treat the people we love the most the worst. It is true!!! Mothers get the worst of it because they are the one's who love you most unconditionally. I made the kiddos call their mom every morning, and before calling they would groan, they would say that she asks too many questions, etc., and the minute their mom would answer the phone they would dive into long stories about their day or the cool thing they saw. While spending this with the kids, they started treating me like a person who unconditionally loves them. Because of that there were some harsh words, but it didn't make me love them any less, just appreciate them more for their honesty! It made me think of the times I'm sure I made my mom cry when I was young, and I wanted to pick up the phone and say I'm sorry!

Adulthood does have it's advantages (outside of bill paying): Parents monitor what their kids eat for good reason. As an adult, if I want to eat Trix for breakfast, I don't have to ask. As a kid, if you want to eat Trix for breakfast, you have to beg. I have to appreciate my Trix eating freedom!

People are going to disappoint you: I heard a few stories from the kiddos about their friends, and how their friends hurt their feelings in one way or another. It was interesting to hear about this from a kid's perspective... I can go on about this, but I'm not going to... All I know is that adults can learn a lot by watching how a kid deals with hurt feelings.

Stop and just have fun: During our drive, we listened to a song on repeat for over an hour. The entire hour, Rose sat in the back seat singing. Her singing got a little snarly at the end of the hour period and that is when the video camera was pulled out for recording purposes. All three of us sat in the car and laughed heartily at Rose's rendition of Cheerleader while Liam video taped my dancing and Rose's singing.

Take some time to exercise: I needed to clear my head and have 'alone' time, of which you get none when you are a parent. I now understand why parents exercise... It is their freedom to just be!!!

I realize this isn't my typical post, but I did want to make sure I remembered some of the take aways from the kiddos. If you want a more detailed look at Camp Auntie Sarah, feel free to continue reading. The following recaps all of the activities from Camp Auntie Sarah, with additional pictures.

A chronicle of the week

Unfortunately my exercise regime was somewhat impacted, or was it? So, what does Camp Auntie Sarah entail? Here's the breakdown, with some of the fun stories that go with each adventure!

Drive to Ohio from Chicago - The first Friday of our adventure included a 5 1/2 drive from Gramma and Grampa's house to hang out in Ohio for a few days. On this drive I was tricked into a candy stop. I didn't realize how cheap some candy still is and so I gave them a budget of ten dollars a piece. Well, at Albanese Candy, ten dollars gets you a huge back of random candy that had to be monitored for the remainder of the trip.

Movie Day - We wanted to have a relaxing day before our two big adventures, and so the kiddos decided we needed to go and see Shaun the Sheep. If you haven't seen the movie, you must know that continuous sheep jumping over a fence really can put a person to sleep. No kidding, I am living proof!!!

Zoombezi Bay - Welp, on Sunday, the extreme adventuring began. The three of us went to the water park, applied sunscreen, ran around the park for seven hours, which had to amount to miles of walking around on hard concrete and no shoes. We all left a little cooked lobster like, I had a bit of plantar fasciitis, Liam with a tarnished ring, and Rose with more energy than she had when we got to the park.

Cedar Point - After a day at the water park, we decided it would be a good idea to drive two and a half hour the next morning to walk around an amusement park for ten hours. My amazing aunt sponsored this trip, and boy were we thankful for the day!!! In the ten hours we were at the park, my fitbit told me that I walked almost eleven miles. We went on many roller coasters, and my niece and nephew may have heard more expletives come out of my mouth than any parent would have approved of.

Rest Day - We decided a day of rest might be a good idea, and so the kids and I rested on Tuesday by making home made taffy apples and brownies, purchasing some fish for my fish tank, We also made dinner, packed bags, watched TV and played with Piper.

Drive to Virginia - I then had to get the kiddos back to their parents, and so after packing some more, making more brownies, vacuuming the kitchen for the third time, we headed out for their home. We stopped at the promised Cracker Barrel and then made the six hour journey take about nine hours. We danced, they argued, we discussed how the world works, I explained Multiple Sclerosis for the third time on this trip, we talked about cell phones and danced a little more, all while listening to the song Cheerleader on repeat for over an hour. Yes, I am that good of an aunt!!!

Hang out with Brady and Tie Dye - Since Brady didn't get to spend the week with us, we knew that Thursday would be the Brady day. So, Brady decided he wanted to go to a movie and have Sushi, and that is exactly what we did. Movie, lunch, tie dying blankets, shirts, bandannas, hats, aprons, socks, our bodies... and then a Sushi birthday date with Brady. My sister also convinced me to go out for a three mile run. Thank goodness because I was certain that I wasn't going to know how to exercise when I got home!

Pool and Pizza Suckered - On Friday, we once again didn't have any plans so we rinsed out the Tie Dye, and the kids in the house multiplied. Suddenly there were friends and kids running between houses. I had no clue what had happened when I turned my head! Next thing I knew it was lunch time, and one of the add-ons for the day recommended a pizza lunch. Someone told me I needed to order two pizzas, of which we only ate one... But it was pretty good pizza. We then went to the pool, I started Brady's birthday cake, had a fantastic time catching up with a dear friend, and got home to watch TV with my sister and brother-in-law.

Great Falls - On Saturday we took a family trip to Great Falls National park, hiked around and took some pictures. We also went on a fantastic boat ride on the canal in which mules pulled us up and down the canal. I also learned a song about donkies, mules and mares. Catch me on a good day and I might sing it for you! We then got home, I finished Brady's cake, made ginger cider with Liam, went out for Thai for Brady's birthday and then sat around the fire while munching on cake and pie.

Drive Home - All good things have to come to an end, and this is when it all ended... This morning I had to hop in my car and drive six hours back to Ohio. I literally drove the entire way in silence. I stopped at another National Park on my way home, but it just wasn't the same without Liam and Rose picking up the bugs and bringing them to me for show and tell...

So folks, that sums it up. We are already planning Camp Auntie Sarah for next year. It looks like a camping trip with fishing, s'mores and camp fires are the desired activities. I think that sounds like a great plan!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

21 Days

I dream of the day in which I get all my chores done. I dream of the day when I get home and Piper hasn't put socks in her water bowl, clothes on my living room floor, and toys at the bottom of the basement stairs. I dream of the day when I treat people how THEY need to be treated. I dream of the day when my association fixes my basement, like they should have back in January. I dream of the day when there is no pain felt by me or my friends. I dream of the day when getting out the door for a workout isn't a chore, again. .

I think I need to keep living, because one of these days, all those dreams will come true, but at what cost?

Dreaming is awesome. I love dreams because they are your mind telling you what you can do, if you put your mind to it. Certain things come at a cost though. For instance, if I want to come home to no socks in my cat's water bowl, that means I have to put all my socks away. See my first dream? That has to happen first.

Similarly, I dream of the day in which I get my chores done, AND laundry is one of my most annoying chores in my world. My mom used to tell me that I needed to bring my laundry down to the basement if I wanted to have it washed. Well, I didn't listen all that well and one day she walked up to my bedroom, saw the mounds of laundry and forced me to go to the laundromat to wash all the stinking clothes myself. I spent hours there, washing, drying, folding, man she was a cruel mother... Making me do my laundry myself... But you know what? I don't think I ever had a laundry problem like that again while I lived under her roof, and still don't when I visit. I've gotten so good at that lesson that when I go home to visit, I know that the dirty laundry I bring home needs to make it to the basement if the laundry fairy is going to clean it before I head back to Columbus. By the way, I don't think that she was telling me that I should bring dirty clothes home at the age of 35, but I still remember the actual lesson that was being taught in those moments years ago, laundry in basement equals piles of clean folded laundry on the stairs.

I hate that we sometimes have to royally screw up to learn lessons, but I also know that repetition is the best way to tackle the lessons that will allow us to achieve our dreams. Two other stories? I try to give people what they need, but I end up giving them what I would need in that situation instead. That's just crappy, and I know it. This is kind of an elementary example, but at work, someone could come to my office for advice, and what I might need to hear if I were asking the same question may be as simple as 'suck it up', and so I'll say that... But what they need is to talk it out. I finally realized that my dismissive nature wasn't helping, after several instances of my friend walking out of my office ticked off at me,

Here's another big example of a screw up. I was registered for a triathlon this morning. My training sucked, I blamed it on everything under the sun including exhaustion, pool access, the heat, etc. So what did I do this morning? Totally 'forgot' that I was even registered and went about my day doing laundry, running errands, antique browsing... The only way I will be able to get out of my disappointment in myself is to get out the door tomorrow for a workout, and throw the excuses out the window.

So, I'll apply the 21 day rule to my life and see what happens. Don't know what the 21 day rule is? Well here you go... If you know anything about me, you know that I am a recovering diet coke addict. I think I will always be recovering from this problem, but I learned some time ago that if you can stick with something for 21 days, it then becomes a habit. It is that three week rule. So, several weeks ago I decided to take up the daunting task of ridding my body of artificial sweeteners once and for all. I convinced myself that I only needed to get through the three weeks, and then I could decide if I wanted to have a diet coke. I made it three weeks, and now I only think about ordering a diet coke twice a day, but you know what? I don't and won't because I feel better.

My point in all of this is we can retrain ourselves to do our chores, treat people how they need to be treated, be patient with our association, enjoy leaving the house for a workout, etc. if we invest the time and energy. And you know what? It only takes 21 days...

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I'm told that I can get fixated on things, and simply not let them go. These fixations come and go, but I typically have a couple of days every four weeks or so in which I'll grab onto something, and latch on.

I remember my sister once likened certain people who were dating to a fish hook and a fish. Important background is that there are two types of fish hooks, one with a barb, the other without. Hooks without barbs are easier to remove from the fish; hooks with barbs can get stuck and can sometimes damage the fish when removed. The situation was this... We knew a girl who was dating a guy, guy broke up with the girl, girl latched on and wouldn't let go. This was way back in the days of pagers and home phones, so she would call and page. It was like she was a fish hook with a barb, and the poor guy was stuck, and he didn't even realize it. He would start to shake her off but the barb would reengage the minute it started escaping him. This went on forever!!!! Well, at least what seemed like forever to high school kids...

Anyway, I bring this up because my fixations are like fish hooks with barbs, they get stuck, until I decided to just cut the hook above the barb and walk away with that little bit of barb still in me. I'm OK with the residual piece of barb because that is basically a story, that I get to carry with me, but no longer controls me. The thing is, if you never live these lines from Invictus:

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

that hook and fishing line will continue to try and pull you back in when you are least expecting it, and when it isn't your choice.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think I am saying this... I'm super fixated right now and trying to cut the string. One of the current fixations is on my very easy ability to shrug my shoulders at exercise when I know a more consistent schedule would help me both physically and emotionally. I am dying to ride my bike tomorrow, and so I am going to ride my bike! I'm going to cut away that fishing line/hook, and I'm going to swim upstream, because it's a better workout! And then my fixation will be gone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sail Away

One of my greatest friend always reminds me that the past is the past. I'm so glad she has taught me that, especially since I have recently been going crazy thinking about my physical aptitude from the past. For instance, I had the endurance to run a marathon! That was a six hour feat that was super intense and rewarding. And then there was the half iron man which was an 8 plus hour adventure through the woods of Wisconsin. I NEVER felt so accomplished...

So, why is it that today I can't do those things? If I continue to focus on that fact, I would likely never be able to move forward. It would be like an emotional attachment to what I used to be, and guess what? That is my past!!!

This doesn't mean that I can't do it again in the future, as a matter of fact, I will... Here's the thing, it will be totally different because I'm different. I refuse to attach myself to one moment in time and expect it to be the same. I'm not going to attach myself to that because what worked back then most likely won't work today, and what didn't work back then, might work today.

I was listening to Styx yesterday, well, because I can, and some words struck me from 'Come Sail Away', and it reminded me that I started this post a couple months ago and never finished it. Here I am finishing it because of these lyrics:

I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me.

These lyrics are especially powerful to me because there is only one way to be free, and that is to focus on what today is, rather than what yesterday was. Today I rode a very solid 15 miles, at a great pace. You know what? That is a huge accomplishment. If I focused on the 100 miles in one day last year, that 15 miles might not be so impactful.

So, today I'm going to be proud of who I am, what I've done, and recognize that I have the ability to dive into some crazy training when I'm ready. I'm going to take what I learned from the past, and recognize that today is not yesterday so my abilities are different. It gives me the power to understand that next time it won't be the same because it is like a brand new relationship, and the players aren't the same...

And so now I'll 'SAIL AWAY' and enjoy the ride!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What is a Burpee?

When I first heard the term burpee, I smiled because it made me think of how I talk to a little baby when they burp. I say in a cute little baby voice, "oh, you just had a burpee" and the baby coos and smiles because they feel such great relief! Hmmm... Or is that my sister in law? (I would totally link a video, but I don't want to embarrass her.)

I also imagine, when I hear the word burpee, a beautiful large garden with all the tomatoes, beans, strawberries and blueberries a person can eat! Just thinking about it now makes me want to make a blueberry pie! That lovely seed company can produce food infinitely.

Then I was introduced to exercise for fun and learned that a burpee is an exercise that includes pushups, jumping and squatting. I heard of these things and couldn't figure out what was fun about this exercise. Perhaps it was simply created because trainers needed to create some sort of new exercise that would keep people coming back for more.

My MS class instructor's definition of a burpee is that it is pure entertainment mixed with torture. I mean, it is kind of hilarious watching a bunch of people with balance and strength problems squat, pushup, jump, squat, pushup, jump, squat, pushu... you get the point!!! On the torture front, my instructors have us do a MILLION burpees, and for what? I mean seriously, what good are they? They are good for fatigue, exhaustion, and misery...

But, you know me. I have to turn everything into a positive, so I've taken on the burpee challenge. My MS instructor has challenged our class to a challenge in which we try to increase the number of burpees we can do in a 5 minute period of time. The baseline test was about a month ago, and I was able to do 52 burpees in 5 minutes. How many burpees will it be at the end of the challenge? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

By the end of this thing, I might be like a baby and coo and smile because I feel so good, after the darn burpee!!!