Sunday, February 20, 2011


is the title of a Frog and Toad story. It's a great one. A friend of mine gave Sam a set of Frog and Toad when he was born with a card reading, "Everything you need to know about life is in these books." And the more I read (and read, and read) them the more I think she might be right.

In this particular story Frog makes delicious chocolate chip cookies and, after eating most of them with Toad, throws them to the birds so he won't eat all of them and calls that willpower. (It's funnier when Arnold Lobel tells it.) I'm not quite sure why Kris always thinks of me when she reads it. Do I have funny ways of expressing my willpower? Do I have poor willpower around chocolate chip cookies? Hmmm.

So, willpower. Mine is spotty, at best. It shines when I'm hiking: alone with a mountain I want to climb, I just won't quit until I've finished it. (This has not always been a good thing, but I'm still alive, so it's successful on that level.) But for the rest of Life, I get easily distracted and poof! there goes my willpower. Unfortunately, motherhood has eroded it even more. Something about starting a project knowing that it is going to be interrupted makes me detach from the need to finish anything.

Running (which I've started doing again, BTW) requires willpower. Especially when you're out of shape and running on a treadmill - without a TV. Running is both the most empowering and the most humbling of activities. Humbling because it has taken serious pep talks to get me to stagger through 3 miles. ("3 miles?! Anyone can run 3 miles. Move. Don't stop. It's only 3 miles! NO, don't stop now either.")  And empowering because I am so freakin' excited for myself when I finish a run.

I feel as if developing my willpower has been harder and more important than getting my muscles back where they belong. I know I am strong and will be fit again, but I'm less confident that I can finish what I've set out to do. Whether that's today's run or the training for - and running of - a marathon.

But every day that I get out and run gives me another bit of confidence. And today, for the first time, once I was in my clothes I actually had a pleasant sensation of anticipation when contemplating my run instead of having to haul myself out by the scruff of my neck. So that's progress!

Now, where are those chocolate chip cookies?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


There's a beauty in skills honed over time; repetition building confidence and mastery.

I don't approach things that way though. I love learning trying new things, learning unknown skills, fresh beginnings, all that. I also am genetically determined to be a DIYer. I talk big about hiring stuff out to the professionals, but when it comes down to it, often I can't stop myself from giving it a go - for better or for worse.

This attitude has it's merits. Murray always says I'm a good cook, when in actuality, I'm just a fearless one. I'll try almost any recipe - and as he likes to eat almost anything, we're a match born in heaven. That old adage about not trying new dishes on guests is lost on me too (although I do often think of it as the food is on the brink of disaster and the guests are 30 min away).
In defense of trying new things, I've served very few inedible meals and a fair amount of tasty ones. And as I age I am learning to repeat the winners - less stress. Still, I'm drawn to try new things... and not just in cooking.

For instance, I'm slowly putting up the crown molding in the kids room. Installing crown molding is definitely new to me, and I can not claim it as an actual skill yet. I have to cut most pieces multiple times - although during my last session, I put up 2 pieces with just the necessary 2 cuts - amazing! I was glowing, even though the third piece required about 8 cuts to get right - grrr.

Such escapades gives me renewed respect for carpenters. Learning something new almost always gives me respect for those who can do it well. Which brings me to Charlie, our Barn Whisperer. He is amazing - he can read a building like a book,  he knows what it needs to stand straight and how to go about straightening it. Our barn is still standing because of him. Sadly, Charlie is in the hospital right now. He fell off a high barn roof onto frozen ground (with all this snow around, how could there not be a snow drift to catch him?!?! But there wasn't.) He's pretty broken up - way worse than just the broken pelvis Murray and I heard he had (which is bad enough). He and his family would appreciate your prayers. On the drive back from visiting him I couldn't stop thinking about the vast trove of knowledge lying there behind his closed eyes. We were lucky to have met him and luckier still to have had him work on our barn. I hope and pray he lives on to save many more.