Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gatlinburg

My heart hearts today and I just feel sad. I was hoping to perk up a little but I can't turn off the TV and I can't get my mind to stop seeing the images on TV and social media. I've done pretty well holding in my tears but writing this may send me over the edge.

The wild fires are breaking my heart. The news coverage is breaking my heart. It's all bringing back emotions that I haven't felt this strongly in years.

My father was burned over 75% of his body when I was in middle school. He went to work, the building blew up (it was a construction site at a chemical plant), and life was never the same. Our family was never the same. That's the short version of the story. I no longer have a relationship with my parents (that's a whole other long story) but I imagine that to this day, he's still affected by his accident.

The story from that night is that he came out of the building on fire. A co-worker pushed him down to put out the fire but he came in contact with chemicals that also burned him. From what I remember from the stories, he was awake and in shock until EMS arrived and doesn't remember getting in the ambulance or anything after for some time.

He was in the hospital for weeks and then recovery took years.

That was middle school. It was awful and so, so hard on everyone.

My senior year of high school, just after attending a funeral for a classmate, my aunt died in a house fire. It was an electrical fire. A little bit of peace comes from the fact that firefighters told my family that she wouldn't have suffered and likely died immediately. Inhaling the smoke would have knocked her out. Three inhales and she was likely dead. I didn't see the house on fire but I saw it the day after and then throughout the rebuild process. It was a total loss.

Friends with the fire department gave me details that I really shouldn't have heard. Those details were too much for a 17 year old girl. I think they thought it would be helpful but it wasn't and they've stuck with me for years.

In college, one of the houses in the gravel lot where I lived burned on a cold, snowy day. No one was hurt but friends lost most of their stuff. It was crazy to see the flames set against snow.

I could barely make myself go to bed last night and I didn't sleep. I knew I wouldn't sleep thinking about all of those people trying to find safety.

Not only have we watched our precious mountains burn and burn and burn but now, so many people's lives have been set on a new path. And it is a new path that isn't going to be easy.

Even when the new stories slow down, homes and businesses will take time to rebuild. Families will need time to heal.

Please give. Send money. Pray if you pray or just send positive vibes if you aren't a praying person. And don't forget about these people affected by this terrible situation. Our newsfeeds will go back to being political and full of nastiness within a few days but each day, try to remember how lucky you are regardless of your current situation.

For now, I'm going to donate to the Red Cross and instead of complaining about the toys all over my floor, I think I'll play trains with the boys when they get home because I have a home and I have many trains and for this moment, we are safe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Life

It's been a bit since I posted and this is a bit long but I plan to blog more often and to make them shorter in the future!

Many of us use Facebook and Instagram to showcase life. Some of it's real and some isn't. I believe that for every great picture, there are at least 10-15 that were awful. That's the Altman Family reality so I don't believe for one minute that your kids really sit on your lap on the porch/beach/dock/dinner table and smile easily for the camera. If they do then you need to call me and give me all your secrets. And even then, I don't think I'll believe you.

I've had a good amount of time to scroll Facebook/Instagram and it's given me a chance to think about real life and what I've been doing and what's in the future.

My time for reflection stemmed from a "be careful what you wish for" scenario, I was literally just crying sometime over the weekend (maybe when I washing vomit filled sheets or trying to get the smell out of the house) that I just wanted 5 minutes....5 minutes to do nothing. 5 minutes to sit and not have a child tackle me or ask me for food. 5 minutes to stop looking at emails and stop planning and organizing and doing. Just 5 minutes.....

I got 5 minutes alright. Not exactly the way I wanted or how I planned but that's real life.

It's been a wild few days. I'm recovering from some monster sickness that may have been the flu or may have been a bug. I suppose it could have been strep since Jackson had it but honestly we'll never know a diagnosis.

I didn't go to the doctor. Why you ask? There was no time until I was super sick and by then, I just couldn't bear to get up to go and I probably couldn't have driven myself.

I was too busy being super mom and caring for two sick boys, trying to keep up with the laundry (mission not accomplished), work, more work, and cook and still do my usual life stuff. In my head, if I didn't keep going and do it all then the world would end and I'd be a failure at life.

So, by mid-day on Monday, I couldn't get off the sofa. Literally - I couldn't stand up. I haven't been that kind of sick since 2009.

That's my life this week and before that, I've been in a funk.

I *thought* I might be on the mend and healing when I sprained my ankle in early August. It's still sore and a bit swollen at times. I now well aware that there will be no half marathon for me in December. There may never be another half marathon. My body doesn't seem to hold up anymore. And truthfully, I'm over trying and trying again only to be hurt and disappointed.

For weeks and maybe until today, I saw this as a failure at life and possibly even at my job. But now, I see it as an opportunity to try new things. Certainly a little more yoga in my life would be beneficial and maybe I'll finally stop by Terri Durbin's and grab a SUP to try out. I'll still run. I'll always run as long as my legs and hips will let me. But, I no longer plan to keep track of workouts and think about races. For now - at least - I'm going to focus on being the healthiest version of me.

See, in my head, I've been stuck on the fact that if I'm to lead a running organization then I have to be a great runner and log miles and care about times. But I don't. I haven't in a long time. Altman cares about his miles and times and races and I appreciate that and I respect that, but I could care less about my own. I felt that way before I got pregnant with Karson and I've basically been forcing myself for over 3 years to find my way back to training and racing with no progress.

I don't have to be a stellar runner to be the ED for KTC. I do have to know how to operate a nonprofit and manage all the pieces and parts of a large organization and I do my best and I think that most days I do it well. Being a recreational runner is totally fine. That's real life - learning to understand where you are and how to be happy.

I create these situations a lot. I'm my own worst critic and I always have been. I didn't come from parents who gave me unconditional positive reinforcement and sometimes I paint a "Norman Rockwell" in my head (you know...the perfect picture/scenario/outcome) and get into a funk when I don't meet my own expectations for life.

That's life and who I have been.

I've done this as a wife, mother, friend, employee and in all situations. But, it stops now.

I'll be 40 in a couple of weeks and with all this time to reflect, I'm looking ahead.

I'm going to do my best as a wife. After more than 14 years together (I think - I had to count on my fingers so I may be off a year), Altman is still my favorite. I would never trade a date night with him for anyone else. He's still my first thought in the morning and when things go well or go terribly. I'll make mistakes but I want nothing more than for him to be happy.

I'm going to do my best as a mom. I screw that up daily but so far, they are both still alive so that has to count for something. It's a marathon and not a sprint - for them as individuals and for us as a family. Those two boys are my heart and soul and I'll make them mad and there will be days (maybe weeks) when we aren't friends but the goal is to teach them to be responsible humans. I'll continue to screw up daily but I think we'll be okay. (Fingers crossed and few prayers would be appreciated just in case.)

I'm blessed with some amazing friends. Luckily the ones that have stuck with me all these years understand that I'm going to screw up. Go back to the whole parental thing but I wasn't really taught how to be a good friend. I've learned from others over the years and I do my best. I've had to distance myself from some friends over the years and I've had others distance themselves from me. That's just life. We grow and become different people and sometimes friendships aren't meant to last a lifetime. But, my goal is to do my best and see where it leads with the sweet humans that I call friend right now.

I have great jobs. My work with KTC is hard and is ever-changing and evolving. This is not the same job I had in 2009 and definitely not the same job I came back to in 2014. It's more complex and much harder. But, we're doing so much more and making a mark for health and well-being in this community. I'm also lucky to still do some consulting work with nonprofits. Both are fulfilling and rewarding. That said, I'm going to screw up. I don't have all of the answers and sometimes my choices aren't the most popular. That's life. I do the best I can and I make decisions on information that I have and sometimes it will be popular and sometimes I'll get hate mail.

At the end of the day, this is life. It's real. It's messy and ugly and hard but also beautiful and fun and full of love and laughter. There are tears. Lots of tears. It's not that perfect profile pic on Facebook (that was it's 4th attempt by the way) but it's wild and challenging and I wouldn't trade it.

Finally, I'm looking forward to 40. The 30's were so much better than my 20's so I can only imagine what the next decade will bring. I hope you'll come along with me and see where it leads.