motilium copii

Shot@Life Vaccination Campaign Celebrates One Year of Changing Lives #BirthdayBash

Disclosures: Photos provided by Shot@Life and Lindsay. Statistics for this post provided by the Shot@Life campaign and to the best of my knowledge are accurate. I was not compensated for this post, I just think this is a great movement.

 

Some ideas are so elegant in their simplicity they are awe-inspiring. For example, the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign. In a world where one child dies every 20 seconds from a preventable disease, the solution practically writes itself. Get those children the life-saving vaccines they need!

The Shot@Life movement focuses on just four diseases: pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and polio. These are diseases that can easily and inexpensively be prevented with vaccines and are widespread enough to merit targeting.

“Pneumonia and diarrhea are the two biggest killers of children under five, and account for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide. Polio has recently re-emerged in areas that had been polio-free for years and measles still kills an estimated 450 people each day—the majority of whom are young children,” according to the Shot@Life.org website.

Shot@Life’s first birthday — they like to use the term birthday rather than anniversary to mirror the act of a child reaching his or her first birthday — coincides with World Immunization Week. If you’d like to know more about the organization, you can see what I wrote about them after attending a local media briefing.

But in this post, in honor of Shot@Life’s own milestone, I was given an opportunity to interview one of their “Champions” — a blogger who took things up a notch, received training at the Shot@Life Champion Summit, and has blogged, tweeted, and spoken about the cause for several months. Lindsay from Laughing Lindsay kindly allowed me to interview her via email last week.

E-Interview with Lindsay of LaughingLindsay.com

Lindsay at a Shot@Life event.

JavaMom: How did you first learn of Shot@Life? Was it at the  Type-A Parent Conference 2012 in Charlotte North Carolina?

Lindsay: Yes, it was at Type-A. I visited Shot@Life’s booth and grabbed a blog prompt and then viewed their video on the last day which was very touching.

JavaMom: On your blog you said your Masters in Education compels you to stand up for all kids, but what convinced you Shot@Life was the right campaign to get involved with?

Lindsay: Healthcare is something that is very important to me… My dad had been in bad health for years. He was always worried about me developing some of his conditions and always made sure I received preventive care. Sadly, he passed away back in December. Since then, I’ve wanted to give other children the opportunity to survive and thrive, like my father did with me. I want to stand up for those children who aren’t as lucky as me.

 JavaMom: You went to the Champions Summit in DC — what was the most interesting or life-changing takeaway from that event?

Lindsay: The Summit was my first time traveling away from home since dad passed (I still live with my mom). The Summit forced me to finally talk about my dad and his passing (I hadn’t done it much prior to that). I still haven’t spoken much about it to people outside of my immediate family as it’s still hard to discuss. However, this cause has allowed me to discuss and deal with losing him around strangers.

 JavaMom: What was it like meeting the other Champions? Any surprises?

Lindsay: I’m initially a pretty reserved person. So, I didn’t say much when I was grouped with the other folks from Virginia. However, they called me on it and one of the first things I told them was about Dad. Those women instantly went from being strangers to some of the best ladies I’ve ever met. I didn’t think I would bond with other people so quickly there, but I did. The Summit was about learning about the cause/organization but also about connecting with other people right there.

 JavaMom: What have you been able to do as a champion to help further the cause of Shot@Life?

Lindsay: I blog and Tweet about it pretty often. I also spoke at the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in West Virginia state conference last month (which also forced me to talk about Dad).

JavaMom: What more would you like to do with the Shot@Life movement?

Lindsay: I would love to do an observation trip, like some other Champions have done. Also, I hope to get a mention in the local newspaper someday. Really, anything to get the word out there and get more people involved.

JavaMom: Please provide five key facts you like readers to know about Shot@Life and what they do.

Lindsay:

Five Reasons to Support Shot@Life

  1. 1.5 million children die each year of a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine. We can change this!
  2. Vaccines are one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries.
  3. Around the world, some moms walk 15 miles to get vaccines for kids. Shot@Life can make it easier.
  4. $20 can vaccinate a child against four deadly diseases.
  5. Immunizing a child helps us build a healthier world for everyone.

JavaMom: What would you like to challenge readers to do this week?

Lindsay: Here are three easy ways to help:

  • From now  until May 2, share a relay post from the Global Mom Relay on Facebook or Twitter to unlock a $5 donation (up to $62,000 per week) from Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to benefit Shot@Life.
  • Signup to join the cause at: http://shotatlife.org/join.html
  • Or donate here

 JavaMom: And since we’re talking about birthdays and milestones… Do you have any birthday traditions?

Lindsay: I must have cupcakes (preferably either chocolate cake with buttercream frosting or red velvet cupcakes).

 JavaMom: Did you reach any key milestones during your time as a Shot@Life Champion?

Lindsay: Well, the Champion Summit was my first trip to D.C. and while there I got to have my first ride in a taxi cab.

<end of interview>

The Shot@Life campaign has stressed milestones — what milestones can children reach if given the opportunity to when given a life-saving vaccine.  Throughout the campaign, we as US mothers have been asked to think about what milestones we dream of our children having and to think of what we hope their counterparts across the globe should be able to reach as well. One more child to lose a tooth. One more book reader. A shot at riding a bike. Doesn’t every child deserve the same? Of course they do!

In the past year, Shot@Life has ensured that thousands of children around the world reached the milestone of celebrating a first birthday by receiving life-saving vaccines, sent over 26,000 letters to Congress, and grew this movement to over 190,000 supporters. As if that weren’t accomplishment enough, as you can see by the interview, this movement not only changes the lives of the people it is trying to help, but of the volunteers as well. I appreciate Lindsay being so open about her father’s passing during our interview – obviously still a difficult topic to discuss — and want to point out the gift that this campaign has given of giving her something to help carry on the legacy her father gave her of feeling compassionate towards others and a forum for reaching outside of herself into something larger so that she could keep moving forward even in her time of grief and mourning. She not only continued to feel a sense of purpose, she found a supportive community. As someone with a long history with volunteer organizations, I feel this says a lot about the Shot@Life organization.

Please visit their website for a list of additional ways to get involved, follow the #BirthdayBash hashtag on Twitter to see more stories and tweets about this week’s activities, download the mobile app for a fun way to document your child’s milestone while raising awareness about the global vaccination movement, and spread the word about the Shot@Life movement with friends and family.

Shot At Life: Save Lives, Change the World, With a Few Clicks #shotatlifedc

If you could prevent a child’s death would you? Of course you would. Picture all the children who enter kindergarten in the US each year and then imagine half of them being dead by the end of the year from preventable diseases. That’s the number of children in developing countries who are lost each year, all for the want of some simple vaccines. (Statistics in this post are  provided by the United Nations Foundation).

One in five children around the world does not have access to the vaccines they need to survive, which means that a child dies every 20 seconds in developing countries of a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.  

This does not have to happen. There is a very simple solution.

$20 can provide a lifetime of life-saving vaccines for a child in a developing country. The United Nations Foundation with many partners, has a program called Shot@Life focused on global health for children, currently by providing vaccines against four preventable diseases: polio, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia.

In the US, many of us have the option to delay or even deny vaccines, where in other parts of the world, mothers are walking 15 miles, desperate to get their children vaccines so they won’t lose another child to a preventable disease. United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Director Devi Ramachandran Thomas shared with us that in some countries, “They may have very few posessions, but they cling onto their immunization cards as their most precious possession, because it is that important.”

Every child deserves a shot at life. Every child should be able to reach the milestones we look forward to our own children reaching. His first smile. Her first bike ride. His first time reading a book out loud all by himself. Her first cartwheel. Knowing the facts, can we turn a blind eye? We can’t.

I learned about Shot@Life by attending a press event Friday evening, hosted by Monica Sakala of Wired Momma and Anastasia and Gianluigi Dellaccio, owners of the local business Dolci Gelati. They are ambassadors for the program and shared their stories about why they have become involved. And while the event itself was lighthearted and fun, the seriousness of the campaign was not lost on any of us who were there. Children are dying. And we can stop it. But we have to get the word out about how simple this solution is.

Here are a few more facts to know:

  • 70% of all unvaccinated children live in just 10 developing countries.
  • The Measles Initiative, which vaccinated one billion children in 60 developing countries since 2001, decreased world measles deaths by 78%.
  • Polio eradication is within reach — the world is 99% polio-free, but getting that final 1% is critical.

This week is World Immunization Week. Will you join me in advocating about the need to help? Here are some very simple things you can do:

  • Educate yourself further about the need and the program at the Shot@Life site.
  • Tweet about the program or World Immunization Week using the hashtags #shotatlifedc and #vaccineswork. Feel free to give a shout out to @shotatlife and to me as well @caffandaprayer.
  • Don’t know what to say? You can always tweet this post using the short link http://caffeineandaprayer.com/?p=3232 with the hash tags #shotatlifedc and #vaccineswork.
  • Keep current on the campaign by following @ShotatLife on Twitter and Liking them on Facebook.
  • Sign the pledge on their web site.
  • Put your money where your mouth is and donate whatever you can to the cause – remember, $20 can provide a lifetime of vaccines to a child.
  • Share, share, share the info any way you can, from old-fashioned word-of-mouth to your personal Facebook pages, to even offering to host your own informational night about Shot@Life.

Very rarely can we actually make a global difference right from our living rooms, but this time, we can.  Let’s do it!

——————————-

Disclosure: I attended a press event with other bloggers and members of the media and was provided a PR gift bag. I have not been compensated for this post and everything is from my heart. I believe in this campaign. All statistics cited have been provided by the Shot@Life media kit. All photos are provided by and copyrighted by Shot@Life .

Raw Milk – Stirring Up Memories and Controversey

jar of raw milkI love to tell people that one of the blessings of living in Northern Virginia is that we drive to the east to find museums and drive to the west to find farms.  I’ve blogged before about our membership in the CSA (community supported agriculture) program with Great Country Farms, but last week we joined our friends to visit their cow from their “cowshare” at another farm and try some raw milk!

Raw milk has been in the news a lot lately, in fact, if you are NoVA local, you may have read or heard a story on WTOP about cowpooling.  Raw milk is fresh milk, straight from the cow and refrigerated without being pasteurized.  It is not legal to sell raw milk in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but a share program is legal in Virginia — essentially people can buy into a herd of cows, paying into the costs of boarding a cow and in return receiving a quantity of the milk from the herd.  This is what my friend does and each week she drives out to the farm to pick up her glass jars of fresh, raw milk.

The JavaKids have always enjoyed our CSA program and making the connection between where food comes from and how it gets to our table, so this field trip out to the dairy farm was a natural extension.  We went to the store and saw all the jars lined up in the fridge, ready for pickup.  I showed the kids the jars of milk and then we walked outside and saw the three cows from which the milk came!  Since the cows had made a bit extra, our friend allowed us to take a jar home to try — and I showed the children how the cream rose to the top and gave them the option of shaking it up so the milk would be whole, or skimming the cream to make butter and turn the milk into skim.  (They opted to shake.)

They couldn’t wait to try it, and immediately declared it delicious.  Since we often buy organic, I can’t really say I noticed a huge difference in taste (except that I usually drink skim, so of course it was more full-bodied), but they loved it.  Later, when we allowed it to separate again, I gave each child a spoon of just the cream, which JavaGirl loved and JavaBoy wrinkled his nose and called, “disgusting!”

Eager to share their discovery with their grandparents, we made the usual round of phone calls.  Most were surprised that we were able to access raw milk, but my grandmother and mother both said, “Well, it used to be that was the only kind of milk we drank.”  My father was amused, but not surprised as my kids are always adventurous.  My mother-in-law’s immediate reaction was, “Why?  Isn’t there a reason we pasteurize milk?” 

Mixed reactions like these are exactly why drinking raw milk feels like participating in making moonshine during the Prohibition, even though unlike moonshine, raw milk is legal and many think, actually good for you.  Farmers who provide raw milk, whether through cow shares or other programs (methods vary by state) fear government raids like ones that have happened in California (see Jessica Haney’s post on The DC Moms) and that’s why the owner of the farm we went to last week asked that I not name her farm when blogging about this experience, though she is very careful to follow the local laws and cites them on all her materials.

Cow

Part of the cow share herd.

I do not claim to have enough of a science background nor any medical background to be able to argue either side of the pros and cons of the raw milk vs. pasteurized milk debate.  Pasteurization kills of certain pathogens in order to minimize disease.  Raw milk proponents say that it also kills of valuable nutrients and microbes that bring health benefits and that when under proper management, farms that produce raw milk can produce just as safe if not safer milk.  My friend feels confident about her choice to purchase from this farm because it is a very small operation and she has personally seen the many precautions in place to ensure that the cows are healthy and that the milking and storage is conducted in a sanitary manner. 

For some pro-raw-milk arguments see http://www.westonaprice.org and http://www.realmilk.com.   Some pro-pasteurized-milk arguments are at the FDA site and Centers for Disease Control site. 

I’m not ready for our family to become full-time raw milk drinkers, but I’m glad we had the opportunity to visit the farm, try the milk from our friend’s cowshare, and that my kids got a chance to get an even better understanding of how milk looks straight from the source.

Getting Addicted to Exercise: You Can Do It!

You know that friend who is perpetually thin and jogs every day and talks about her runner’s high?  Yeah, don’t you hate her?

Okay, well, I’m your fat friend who has has started a walking program and now talks about endorphins and secretly obsesses about when I can get my next four-mile walk in and I don’t want you to hate me… if you are in need of exercising too, I want you to join me.  Here’s why — I had a million reasons why I couldn’t start a walking program, but all I needed were a few reasons why I COULD, and the main one was because people believed in me.  And I believe in YOU.

I felt horribly, horribly out of shape and consequently my self-esteem was very low.  I felt certain that if I were given a stress test by the doctor, I would fail embarrassingly.  With my recent diagnosis of diabetes, I knew that I had to incorporate exercise back into my life and walking has always been my exercise of choice.  But as tried to picture myself launching a new walking program, all I saw were roadblocks:  how to do it with small kids in tow, my lack of energy, my lack of confidence, my chronic trick knee.  I could only see failure on the horizon.

But life has an amazing way of conspiring to bring all the right elements together.  A doctor who looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and a giant grin while saying, “I know you can bring it, girl!  You can start exercising tomorrow, no problem!”  An IM completely out of the blue from an old high school friend who said, “Not only were you pretty then, you still are today.”  A reminder from a colleague that despite going onto the “mommy track” for a few years, I have managed to cultivate the skills employers most desire in my field today and that I can walk back into the marketplace easily whenever I chose to return to full-time work.  And yes, the sudden realization that my high school reunion will be next year.  Suddenly I had a target date (reunion!), a little bit of fuel for the ego fire, and that’s all I needed to put a plan into action.  Because I’m a Type A, Aries, goal-driven kind of a gal.  Give me a purpose and a date and I’ll go out and smash that goal in a way you’ve never seen.  I need to be healthy, in career-resuming fighting form, and reunion-ready in a year.  And yes, I want to be back in my head-turning shape!

I started my program simply by walking to pick up my son from school — half a mile away.  Walking with small children is challenging and frustrating.  When you WANT them to be slow, they zoom all over the place.  When you want them to be FAST, they drag their feet and complain and act as if they have no clue how to put one foot in front of the other.  So I made a game out of sending them running ahead from mailbox to mailbox — far enough ahead that I could keep a steady pace but close enough that I could keep them from being hit by cars or kidnapped.  Now that school is out and extra-curricular activities are fewer and further between, I try to take advantage of walking while they are at vacation bible school, in the evenings while JavaDad is at home to watch them, and sometimes I am even walking very, very late at night (safely) in well-lit areas while the family is snoozing.

At first those one-mile round trip walks were all I could muster and they were far, far slower than my old pace of 15-minute miles walks.  Which I found quite frustrating.  I would get mad at myself for how out of shape I had allowed myself to become.  But I found two things that helped me out.  First, building myself an iTunes workout playlist — I find that I respond very well to music — it sets both a pace and a mood for me and the familiarity of listening to the same songs for each walk help me maintain an even tempo.  And second, a handy app called Nike+GPS  that runs on my iPhone.  Although I had also bought the Nike+iPod sensor, I actually prefer this far less expensive app.  Nike+GPS requires no equipment other than your phone and ear buds.  Download the app, program in some information and walk (or run) – it’s that simple.  You can even use it on a treadmill, though you must carry or wear it (don’t set it down on your treadmill).  Here’s a pretty decent review of the two different apps.

Nike+GPS tracks where you walk, your pace, distance, allows you to play music, set goals, and — here’s the most important part to me — share the fact that you are “running” (even though I am walking) publicly on Facebook, Twitter and the Nike Running web site.  On Facebook, people can then “Like” or comment while you are exercising and you will hear rock-star style applause and see their comments on your phone.  To me, yes, a completely shameless extrovert, this real-time encouragement motivates me to keep walking, sometimes even faster.  I have been stunned at how involved my friends have become in my exercise.  The amount of encouragement I have received has been overwhelming!  When you complete your “run” (the app assumes you run and doesn’t allow you to change the postings to say “walk”), it publishes the results on Facebook, so your friends can see your time and distance.  You can, of course, choose not to publish any of this, but to me, this is part of the attraction of this app — it makes me accountable and gives me the encouragement and feedback I need.

In a month’s time I have gone from struggling with one mile to craving my four-mile walks and watching my average per mile time decrease by three minutes.  It’s still not at my best average, but it is improving.  Walking, for me, has become not something I dread and force myself into, but something I enjoy and look forward to.  My anticipation builds as I change from my mommy outfit du jour and into my workout outfit, lace up my running shoes, grab my iPhone and ear buds, fill up my BPA-free plastic water bottle and head toward the door.  I take a few minutes to touch up my make-up, and if walking by day, grab my sunglasses; if walking at night, grab my flashlight.

I step out the door and fire up my Nike+GPS, sometimes I’m almost immediately rewarded by a roar of applause from a friend on Facebook “liking” the notification that I’m starting a walk.  I close my eyes for the first few steps as I listen to the orchestral strains of Coldplay’s Viva la Vidafill my ears… 1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4 …I let my feet feel the beats and take over as I feel the breeze that always seems to swirl in our cul de sac collect just under my ponytail.  Swish.  Swish. Swish, swish, swishswishswishswish.  Even my hair picks up the beat.  The water bottle swings on one side and I hold my iPhone on the other. 

Though my casual walking style is to stretch with long legs forward, I’ve learned that the best and fastest exercise walking style is quick, short strides.  Thanks to years of ballet, if I don’t focus, I can walk a bit duck-footed, so I try to walk toes straight forward and to compensate for my trick knee, I sometimes have to bend a little more on the right leg, so the music helps me block everything else and just focus on the walk.  I choose songs very intentionally for their driving beats, some very fast and a few slower ones in the middle to give me a break.  I’m the crazy lady who will sometimes sing the lyrics out loud and emote with hands in the air — whatever, I consider it a little cardio boost!  This time is not about anyone but myself.  For one hour, I am utterly selfish and not self-conscious.  This is freedom.

I make my rounds of the neighborhood, noting that someone on our street orders pizza every single day as I always pass a pizza delivery car.  Getting to know every dog behind a fence.  Noting every utility that has a crew in the neighborhood.  At night I now know where the teens hang out.  Who runs sprinklers when, sometimes I avoid them, sometimes I run through them, at times coming out looking like I’ve been in a wet t-shirt contest, but if I do, few are around to give me a raised eyebrow.  I enjoy the wildlife and love the fireflies who light my evening walks.  During the day and dusk, I give a nod and a smile to the joggers, bikers, walkers and dog walkers.  I no longer feel self-conscious as I pound the pavement, wondering who is judging me and my imperfect figure as I sweat it out in public.  And invariably, whether I’m out at 8am, 8pm or even at midnight, somewhere, someone on cyberspace is clicking a “Like” or a comment and giving me a cheer at the exact moment when I’m thinking of cutting it short and heading home.  Spurring me on.  Making me want to go that extra mile — literally.

The transformation inside me has been faster and more dramatic than the transformation on the outside.  I feel more alive, more confident, more relaxed, happier.  Though I keep the same music, I try new paths all the time — a personal trainer once told me changing things up allows the brain to build new neural pathways — and I remember the first time I encountered a hill that was so tall and steep the crest towered above my head.  I stopped for a second, stared at it and wondered if I should attempt it, given my knee.  But I did.  And now I am not afraid of that or any other incline.  I can do it.  I can do anything.  I’m still fat.  I’m still too slow for my perfectionist’s standards.  But I know I’m capable of anything I set my mind to.  Don’t get me wrong — the fact that some v-neck t-shirts I wore just a month ago are falling off me flashdance-style and that my belts now have to be replaced is AWESOME!  But not being afraid of a hill is even better!

The first pair of shoes I bought hastily gave me blisters.  I had to acknowledge that I needed to invest in the right pair of shoes (thank you, VA Runners in Clifton!)  For the first time ever, I’m not just using any old pair of socks, but runner’s socks, made of synthetic materials — after 29 comments (!) on a thread on my Facebook page with advice from friends.  This is how much people care about helping me on my journey.  And this is why I want to help you.  If you need that voice to speak louder than a million reasons telling you not to get off that couch, let it be mine.  Let me tell you, you can do it.  Start with the pair of shoes you have, if you need to.  Start with a walk around the block.  Don’t worry about the skinny friend with the runner’s high.  You can do this.  And if you need me to keep you honest, post here or post on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/caffeineandaprayer.  Share your favorite workout playlist songs.  Do it for your health, do it for an upcoming reunion, do it to find your inner sexy, do it for one reason or twenty.  But if you know you need to get off that couch and get out there, and you’ve not known where to find the inner resolve to do it, find it here.  And keep coming back here until the endorphin high compels you to keep going out there.

Because YOU CAN!

——————————————–

Disclaimer:  Always check with your physician before embarking upon a new exercise routine.

My Summer of Rediscovery

The words weren’t entirely unexpected, and yet they still punched me in the gut.

“You, my dear, have diabetes.”

I looked at my endocrinologist somewhat blankly.  I knew this was coming, and yet, the words fell down around me like individual blocks of cement. I. Have. Diabetes.  I. Have. Diabetes. Ihavediabetes. Diabetes.  Dammit.

The family history is there.  The individual risk factors are there.  The pre-diabetic symptoms had made their unwelcome appearance over a year ago.  The horrible “buzzy feelings” I get with high sugar levels.  The pins and needles numbness in my limbs.  The blurry eyes.  And yet, I realized, the shock still comes.  For friends who don’t understand the shock, I explain it like this — even when you are trying to have a baby, even when you know how to conceive a baby and are actively trying, when that pregnancy test comes back positive, you still have that moment of shock — that moment of, “Oh my, what have we done?”  Except you wanted to get pregnant and I never wanted diabetes.

I cope best with information and a plan.  I won’t bore you with the details of the multiple appointments and frustrations, but suffice it to say, that putting together information and a plan wasn’t as easy as I had hoped.  I wanted to walk away with a precise way to deal with things and I didn’t get it.  Coping with diabetes was to become — and still is — a journey.  I’m in the early stages of Type II Diabetes and am controlling it through diet, oral medication (Metformin) and exercise.   I monitor my blood glucose levels with a meter regularly.  I started out feeling absolutely paralyzed about making food choices and was miserably hungry while adjusting to my new lifestyle — an effect of the insulin resistance on me was constant hunger.  Now that things are under control, I find myself eating significantly smaller portions easily.

I have had intentions of re-launching my walking exercise regime over the years and always had one issue or another crop up, but this time I knew just how critical it was for my health.  Even more so, I needed it as an outlet.  Life suddenly felt very out of control, and I needed to feel like there was something in my control.

Because of the timing, the severity, and the physical impact, my diabetes also became the launching pad of what I like to call my Summer of Rediscovery or what my friend Julie calls my “midlife crisis.”  I’m not much of one for navel-gazing, but both are correct.

I’ve turned 41.  I’ve just completed 10 years of service in a major volunteer organization, several of which were in key leadership positions, the last of which was as the president.  For the first time in a decade, though I’m still a member, I’m not even on a committee — I’ve gone from overbooked most nights to home almost every night.  My diagnosis came literally days before I ended my term as president.  My youngest child graduated from preschool a week later and will head off to public school in the Fall– the writing is on the wall, my days as a stay-at-home mother will be coming to an end in a year or so.  My husband has patiently stood by as I took what little energy was left after being with kids all day and threw it into part-time work, volunteer commitments, and blogging over the past few years — and I realize there was little to none left for him when all was said and done.  I feel like I woke up on a Monday and suddenly didn’t know who I was anymore.

Summer arrived and a blank chapter lies before me and I’m furiously writing it without knowing exactly where it ends.  So I walk.  And I think.  And I pound the pavement with my Nike-shod feet as fast as I can.  Listening to the kind of music I’ve denied myself for years because I’ve been so focused on making sure that the kids heard classical music as babies, and “appropriate” music or music in foreign languages as toddlers and preschoolers.  In the car, even alone, I was always catching up on news or talking on the phone.  The simple act of listening to music that doesn’t involve farm animal noises or something the kids had to learn for choir felt so liberating, it almost feels sinful.  Like I am cheating on my entire family.  My apologies to my neighbors when I occassionally burst out in (horrible) singing while walking with headphones on!  I come home, bursting with ideas of things I want to do, to try, to write.  Some are completely ridiculous (hair tinsel) and some are less so, but exceedingly ambitious (wanting to find out how to apply to manage the Nike + running web site).

It’s been a month.  My eating habits have changed — I eat far more broccoli slaw, far fewer sweets and far less of everything.  I’ve lost about 10 pounds (I say “about” as we had to replace our scale when it said we each weighed 0 pounds — so I have to start with a new baseline.)  I’m slowly becoming an exercise-induced endorphin junkie.  I’m finally cashing in all the iTunes gift certifcates I’ve been given over the past couple of years.  And I’m rediscovering who I am — more than just “Mommy.”  Different schedule, different diet, different routine.  Trying to unearth the woman who is buried inside under the layers of mommy neglect — the woman, the writer, the wife, the person.