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I’ve been struggling lately, and when that happens my first reaction is to be really hard on myself. Which leads to me feeling generally inadequate; then questioning what I’m doing and why I’m so hard on myself;  and then finally telling myself that I should be hard on myself because that’s the only way I’ll get better. Oh what a tangled web we weave!

Now I’m thinking that this cycle is pointless (and the result of too much overthinking). While it’s great to evaluate yourself and make improvements based on those evaluations, sometimes you just have to back up and be thankful, and give yourself permission to be okay with where you are now.

So today, I’m not thinking about where I should be. I’m being thankful for where I am now. Hope you are too. xo

Does your town have a traffic circle? My town does, and for being a circle, it’s one divisive roadway.  It has five different exits connecting three different roads, most of which change directions in the circle. Throw in some crosswalks, streetside cafes and out-of-towners and you have the recipe for some really interesting hand gestures.

I can’t really explain the cluster of cursing and chaos that is the Towson traffic circle, but you might be able to get a feel for it based on the conversation that went down this weekend as my father-in-law John drove me, Scott and my mother-in-law Gayle home from brunch on a busy Saturday.

Gayle:  Oh geez, not the circle.

John: Gayle Robin it’ll be okay! To us: Gayle doesn’t drive through the circle. I love the circle!

Scott: Mom, you don’t drive through the circle? It’s not that bad!

Gayle: Yes it is. This thing is a mess.

John, looking at car in front of him: Ahh, what’s this guy doing? Go!

Scott: What an idiot. Go! Go!

John: He doesn’t have a clue. Gooo!

Gayle, eyes shut: See what I mean?

Me, John, Scott in unison to car in front of us: Go!!  Gooooo!

– Car goes –

John: Alright, here we go. Looks at car exiting to the left: Now you turn there. Here we go…

John, looking at car trying to come into our lane: No you stop. You stop.

John, exiting: Aaaand we’re off. See, that wasn’t so bad!!

– Whole car sighs in relief –

For the first time in my life, I’m thankful that I’ve never had a particular affinity for my feet. In fact, I’ve always thought them sort of large. They’re size 9s, unless you’d trust the trained shoe specialists at the local running store, who last week had the nerve to tell me I’m a 10. A 10! A full size larger than every other shoe in my closet!  As if I didn’t already have a complex about the length of my toes.

See, if I had been holding on to any sort of vanity for my feet, I’d be highly disappointed right now. You see, there are blisters. Blisters that showed up at the party months ago and are still crashing on my couch. And they’re starting to bring their friends over.

There are bruises—yes, full out bruises!—on my toenails. Perhaps from wearing running shoes that are a size too small.

Thank goodness I never loved my feet before I started marathon training. Because if I had loved them before the blisters and bruises of training, I might not love them as much as I do now, when they’re swollen and scraped and fresh off of carrying me through a 14 mile run.

And by meet, I mean sat close to at a basketball game at my alma mater.

And by close, I mean about 5 rows away, which was apparently as close as the Secret Service felt comfortable with.

I think they’re the only people in the world who like personal space as much as I do.

Kudos to you, Secret Service guy.

Oh wait, who’s that? Bill Murray you say? Well hello there.

Let me introduce you to some friends of mine.

All in a day’s work.


No, this post isn’t about a swanky tent or an episode of pimp my yurt (which sounds pretty gross anyway)–it’s about the rough week I’ve been having. The time change coupled with some really crazy and unexpected changes around me is throwing me for a bit of a loop. I tend to be pretty methodical about my decisions and sudden change makes my mind go into overdrive exploring possible outcomes and worrying about those around me. It can be overwhelming.

My favorite way to clear my head in these types of situations is to go for a long run. There’s something about the deliberateness of putting one foot after another, time after time, that clears my head and makes me focus on the present. The restraint of running comforts me; the intensity of it makes my mind turn off, and sometimes that’s what I need the most. But after getting a swift butt kicking on the TRX this weekend, running wasn’t an option for a little while (um, walking barely was) and I was at a loss for something to get me out of my funk.

As if she sensed I needed it, my mother-in-law invited me to go for a walk on the Goucher trails, and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. The leaves were vibrant and the trail was quiet and we wandered for a couple of hours, chatting and snapping photos and listening to the leaves. The fresh air made me feel calm and restored, and reminded me of how powerful an impact nature can have on our peace of mind if only we take the time to let it.

The photos above are just a few of the ones I took on our walk. Tell me, what do you do to clear your head?

It’s time I told the truth.

For me, November isn’t just the season of sparkle. It’s the season of snot. You’re probably thinking right now, “That’s disgusting! What is she talking about? I’m not snotty! Wait did I blow my nose this morning? Do I have a bat in the cave? Oh God where’s a mirror?” And I’m sorry to put you through that, but I just have to get this out there.

Maybe for normal people, the months between October and April are quite pleasant: they drink hot chocolate, they bundle up with loved ones, they lace up their boots and go for snowy walks. But for me, these months get quite embarrassing, because the second the temperature drops below 60 degrees my nose becomes a leaky faucet. Not just any leaky faucet though…it becomes that really annoying leaky faucet that always bothers you when you walk by the bathroom but that you always forget to have fixed until it’s annoying you so much that you decide to start showering in the other bathroom just to get away from it. Except this leaky faucet is on my face, so I can’t get away from it. Torture, I tell you. Torture.

I can’t step outside in winter without my nose dripping in the most awkward way possible: it’s not exactly a runny nose in that it’s not caused by stuffiness, it’s just a teeny bit of mucus that likes to hang at the very bottom of my nose, threatening to slide out with every breath. And when I wipe that teeny little bit out, another teeny little bit appears, just to torture me.

Is this post sexy enough for you yet?

I know you’re thinking, “Stop being so dramatic and get a Kleenex already,” and while you’re right about the dramatic part, the latter part is a little bit more tricky. The way I see it, there are three ways to deal with my little problem:

  1. Be that person who is constantly trying to suck up their snot, thereby annoying everyone around them;
  2. Do a discreet hand/sleeve wipe every five seconds, which is not only gross but also hikes up your dry cleaning bill (although I won’t pretend I haven’t done it before); or
  3. Make like your grandmother and carry around a crumply, half-used tissue in your pocket at all times.

None of these options are particularly appealing to me, but after finding these custom snowman Christmas hankies online I think I’m going with option three. Let the season of snot begin!

“It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”

– e. e. cummings

 

Image from via

A long overdue trip to the boardwalk, in all of its kitschy, treat-filled glory. I’ve always been a sucker for the boardwalk—I worked in the ice cream shop above during high school—but I have to say, it’s even more fun when the chilly weather makes it less crowded, giving you a great bench spot for people watching.

Running on the beach in the chilly, windy weather–now that’s a totally different story. And I have the sea foam-stained sneakers to prove it.

This is the second part in a two-part series on getting my eye health in order. To read the first part, go here.

I sat my eyes down and had an intervention. Their actions had affected my in the following ways and it was time for them to go to rehab—aka the local Lasik doctor. When that doctor told me that my eyes weren’t in good enough shape to get Lasik, I went to another (actually more renowned) doctor, who took a quick look at my eyes and booked me on the spot. I ignored the nagging feeling that a dry-eye inducing surgery probably wouldn’t be so great for my already dry eyes and focused solely on the fact that, for the first time in almost two decades, I’d be completely free of glasses and contacts. No more carting saline solution around at all times! No more ducking around corners when I ran into people wearing my huge glasses (or worse, yanking them off and then trying to have a conversation without seeing their facial expressions)! No more heinous eye infections! Imagine the possibilities!

If you want to see the wonder of modern medicine (albeit modern elective, some say cosmetic medicine), look no further than Lasik surgery. You show up at a doctor’s office, take half a Xanax (which let me say was NOT enough to calm these Type A nerves), squeeze a nurse’s hand so hard she starts awkwardly rubbing your head, look at a light for 30 seconds, go home, take a nap, and wake up with almost perfect vision. It’s a miracle to say the least, and to this day I don’t regret the surgery one bit. I mean, I CAN SEE! In the morning! In the shower! On long flights! It’s truly amazing. Except, well…

After the surgery my eyes were pissed. Not like, “I’m a little tired and cranky after surgery” pissed, but like, “you straight up sent me to rehab and now I’m divorcing you” pissed. They decided to just become so dry that it took nearly every bottle of eye drops at target to even put a dent in them, except that the eye drops made them itchy, and you’re not supposed to itch them so I’d just neurotically rub my eyebrows instead. Make sense? No. Next best thing? Yes. It’s kind of like when you had chicken pox and could only scratch the pox with oven mitts on. Except I couldn’t bathe in oatmeal or stay home from school sick.

You guys, it was bad. The dryness made my vision blurry all the time and super sensitive to any kind of light or wind. Heat vents drove me nuts. Ceiling fans were torture. Driving at night was a thing of the past. I went back to my Lasik doctor every month for 6 months, plus to a bunch of specialists he recommended. I tried every drop in the book (including steroids). I began taking Flaxseed and Fish Oil and drinking mass quantities of water every day. I had my tear ducts plugged, which is as grotesque as it sounds. Nothing worked. I exhausted all other options, and then I turned to Restasis.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the monotonous, disclaimer-filled Restasis commercial, let me just cut to the chase: it’s a dry eye medication. A dry eye medication that comes in eyedrop form, which is a little strange, especially when people unexpectedly stop by and come face-to-face with the dozens of empty single-drop vials that you lazily leave around the house No! I’m not a meth addict! That’s my medication!! I swear!

The other strange thing about Restasis is that is takes up to three months to start working. Um, hello? Buying groceries for the entire week feels like a big commitment to me when I’m not sure if I’ll WANT to have the salmon on Thursday, thankyouverymuch! Using a medication—one with SIDE EFFECTS—for three months without even knowing if it’s going to work blew my mind. But I was at the end of my rope, so I sucked it up and went with it.

One year and thousands of empty eye drop vials under my bed later, my eyes! They’re out of rehab! They’re even out of sober living! They’re doing well, taking it one day at a time, painting portraits and learning an instrument and exploring all the new possibilities that sobriety brings! Possibilities like driving at night and being able to focus for more than two hours! They’ve moved from their searing red stage to a lovely light pink color, and there’s even hope of returning to plain old white soon.

My eyes have gone from super dry to so fantastically tear-producing that any slight bout of laughter, sentimentality, or sadness has me weeping like a wishing well. Give me a compliment? My eyes get watery! Casually mention that you rescued a cat? I’ll tear up! Tell me a joke? I’ll laugh so hard I’ll cry!! I’m every comedian’s dream and every boss’s nightmare. And you know what? I doesn’t bother me one bit, because if I have to choose between blurry vision or teary eyes, I’ll take the old lady leaky eyes every time. Restasis for the win! Can’t you see it in my tears of joy?

Now excuse me while I go find a Kleenex.

*Disclaimer: I am not getting paid by Restasis, or anyone else, to write this blog. Although I’m totally open to it. Pay me! Please! Someone!

I didn’t get dealt the best hand in balance or general grace, but, my friends, I’m the first to say that I made out pretty well in the health category. And before you go all “you never know how important your health is until you don’t have it” on me, let me tell you that I count my lucky stars for it on the regular. I eat my peanut butter cup/apple a day and keep my fingers crossed and feel super grateful. Except for one, teeny, tiny, kind of super important thing. My eyes.

My eyes are like those insidious middle schoolers who are either so perpetually lazy or unimpressed that they end up in alternative school, walking around in small groups with a mean teacher and smoking cigarettes in the bathroom and not giving a shit about any of it. They’ve been giving me the middle finger for as long as I remember, and now it’s starting to get on my nerves. I’m considering military school for them. Or sending them to live with their father.

It’s just that they…well…don’t work very well. I started wearing glasses at the ripe old age of six, which I’m sure seems cute in the movies but in real life is a lot less fun, especially with the whole “keeping them on your face and not on the ground/your chair/somewhere where they can get stepped on, sat on, or kicked around” thing. (What can I say, I’m that kid who always broke her glasses and lost her retainer. At the Cracker Barrel. True story.) The constant breaking plus my annoyance at wearing them during basketball games inevitably led to contacts, which worked out surprisingly well in grade school but much less so in high school/college when, after consuming my weight in [insert light beer here] (hellooo bottomless red cup), things like “waiting two minutes to not burn my mouth on pizza” and “taking out my contacts” didn’t seem so important. See: heinous eye infections, followed by their close friend astigmatism.

I eventually realized that not taking care of my eyes meant poor vision and punishment from my eye doctor in the form of having to wear my titanic-thick glasses—in public, no less—and started being meticulous about my eye care. It worked out for a few years until they spontaneously decided that, you know what, being healthy wasn’t so cool anymore and it was much more fun to revolt against the machine (aka my body), meticulous care be damned. My eyes broke up with their convenient—and, I’ll admit it—somewhat vain boyfriend contacts, and six eye doctors, two years and eight different contact trial pairs later they still hadn’t reconciled. So I upped the ante.

Next up: part II. Because my eyes are long-winded that way.

A photo of me.

About me

Hi, I'm Pam. I'm a runner, reader and recent MBA grad living in Baltimore with my husband. I work in PR, but I spend my off-hours writing here about my life, which mostly revolves around family, friends, fashion and fitness. Sometimes I throw in the occasional food photo just to make sure you're paying attention.

Contact

For questions or freelance opportunities, contact me at theinspirationfiles {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to hear from you!

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