Positively Panicked

In my life, anxiety and adventure go hand in hand.

My Adventures with Zelda

Legends of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses came to Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center last night.  A group of us went to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

I know what you are all thinking… OF COURSE, Hilarie, of all people, went to see Legends of Zelda at they symphony! Duh! Well, if you are thinking that you clearly do not read my blog. I have zero interest in video games. Unless it involves something cool, like learning to use the Wii, or virtual reality games, or shopping for my Husband’s birthday gifts. Even then, it only holds my interest for a max of 7 minutes. However, when I am invited to a birthday event, I attend. Likewise, when I am invited to the Symphony, I show up. Even more so, when I am invited to an event that calls for a themed outfit, I deliver.

Zelda Nashville Symphony

Before last night’s symphony, my friend, Bella, and I googled “Zelda” and saw this image…

Zelda Link

Easy enough. We put together green dresses, brown boots, brown belts and voila!

Zelda at Symphony

Sorry, best pic I got!

I met up with Husband before the show and this conversation happened…

Husband: Aww, you look cute!

Me: Thanks, I’m afraid my look came out more “Nashville tourist” than “Zelda”.

Husband: No, you look like Zelda! I mean, you look like Link, but you know what I mean.

Me: Who’s Link?

Husband: …the character you are dressed as…?

Me: No. I’m dressed like Zelda. I googled it.

Husband: No. The little green elf is Link, the main character.

Me: The main character isn’t Zelda?!

Husband: No, Zelda is the princess.

Me: There’s a princess and I dressed like an elf?!

Husband: You’re going to get us  kicked out.

legends of zelda at the symphony

For the record, we didn’t get kicked out.  Even more surprisingly, I LOVED the show. The fact that we had box seats definitely made the experience more exciting and glamorous, but the show itself was great! They played video game clips on a huge screen while the orchestra and chorus played and sang the music from one of the world’s most famous video games. I may have not known the songs, but I did enjoy them.

box seats at the symphony

Three drinks didn’t hurt either.

Cheers!

 

A New York Memory

nyc memories

You KNOW I couldn’t have just one New York post, right? After four days in the city, we made too many memories to not share a few.

swings in Central Park

Luna managed to spot every playground within a 50 foot radius of her, which meant we spent about 85% of our trip pushing her on swings.  At one point, I had to answer a phone call, but when I hung up, I just sat and watched Husband and Luna play for a while. While living in New York, we would talk about how fun it would be to raise a kid in the city, take them to Central Park and and grow up as a city kid. We ended up choosing the country life, but for a brief moment, I was able to imagine what life may have been like, had we made a different choice.

macaroons from Laduree

We walked between 10 and 15 miles everyday we were in NYC, and we made up for all that exercise by stopping and treating ourselves every chance we got. One of the best spots for dessert is Laduree. Nothing like a little Parisian snack break…especially while Luna was napping.

toddler subway ride

Luna was OBSESSED with every form of public transportation, especially the trains. On one train, she decided to make friends with a woman who was on her way home from work as a pediatric nurse. Luna climbed out of her stroller and set next to the complete stranger and talked to her like they were old friends. In fact, Luna made a new friend every time we got on the train.

victory garden ice cream

The morning of our last day, I climbed in bed with Luna and asked her what she wanted to do for her last day in New York. She looked right at me and said, “Ummm, I want eggs and ice cream!” Easy enough. We had eggs for breakfast and as promised, we stopped for ice cream that afternoon. Unfortunately, she was sleeping when we got to Victory Garden. A friend of mine had recently told me about the all-goat’s-milk soft serve ice cream parlor and I just had to try it. (No lactose and it was REALLY REALLY delicious BTW!)

toddler ice cream

Of course, by the time Luna woke up, the ice cream was gone and I felt a little guilty. I decided to get her an ice cream cone at the closest ice cream truck and asked for small cone… this is what I got. Luna was beyond thrilled. Husband was not.

toddler at the MET

At the MET, Luna insisted on walking as opposed to riding in her stroller. It’s slightly nerve racking to walk around one of the world’s most famous museums with your toddler. The phrase “that’s not for touching, only looking!” was used about 587 times. The best part was when we entered the section of European Statues and Luna pointed to every giant naked man statue and said, “That’s Uncy Dick!”. We made sure to send a video to our friend Derek, AKA “Uncy Dick”.

double fisting toddler

We took Luna to Alice’s Tea Cup for brunch one day, which is adorable, but Luna was too young to appreciate it. However, she did enjoy her pb&j with her milk AND water, which she decided to drink at the same time. It looked disgusting, but we let her because what was it hurting? That is until, we saw that the milk was going in her mouth through one straw and out her mouth through the other straw, mixing the water and milk together. It was repulsive. So, like any other good parent, we immortalized it with a photo. Cheese!

NYC, you never disappoint! Can’t wait until the next visit!

Cheers

Let’s Focus on the People

In the last year, I would assume that you have seen, read, or been a part of a debate regarding one of the following: Black Lives Matter, Breast Feeding, Trump, Transgender people, gun laws, Hillary, Muslims, Christians or some other major debate. I am not against these debates. On the contrary, I believe a healthy debate can change hearts and minds and require one another to open their minds and learn about beliefs outside of their own. That’s a good thing! It’s the lack of discussion and abundance of hostility that is causing me to lose sleep at night.

the enemy is fear

It is easy to cast off the unfamiliar as wrong, scary, freaky, weird or even dangerous. It is even easier to feed those fears, harvest them and eventually grow hatred. Those little seeds of fear grow fast and strong  when fed. How simple it is to remain in our own little worlds. We discuss our fears and questions with friends who think and feel the exact same way, share memes and blog posts that share our own beliefs and make assumptions that we are in fact “right” and they are “wrong”. We all fall victim to hearing or reading an easy line or quote that validates our fears, and fail to recognize the phobia and falsehoods behind the words.

For just a moment, let’s forget about “right and wrong”. Forget about political and religious opinions and agendas. Let’s focus on people.

I grew up in a predominately white Christian southern town. There wasn’t much diversity, and while my parents told me to love others as myself and to be kind to everyone I meet, it wasn’t always easy. As much as I hate to admit it, I judged people who looked, felt, believed, dressed, talked and acted differently than myself. They were unfamiliar and unfamiliar is scary.

One of my college professors told me that you never truly understand a student until you meet their parents. Once you understand where the student is coming from and learn their history, you will gain compassion. I have never forgotten that lesson. I discovered it to be true for not only students, but all people. From then on, I decided to dig, to learn, to experience and to decide for myself what and who should be feared.

The way in which we respond to people different from ourselves, reflects our compassion for others and our willingness to learn about the world outside the small one in which we know and live. One does not have to compromise or change their beliefs in order to have compassion. All it takes is opening up your heart and accepting the fact that other’s beliefs are just as strong and true as yours. Their loves and lives and hopes and dreams are just as real as yours. Their pain, their struggles, their childhood, their traditions, their Gods, their heartbreaks and their fears are real. Agreeing with them isn’t necessary. but exemplifying respect and humanity is.

I understand the rants on Facebook. I may disagree with them, but I truly understand why people respond to others in anger. Fear. Fear feeds anger. It is easy and natural to fear the unknown. However, fear is the root of racism, sexism, xenophobia and homophobia. Fear is what is slowing tearing us all apart.

i saught my brother

Over the last ten years I have been facing my fears by traveling the world and immersing myself in various different cultures. I lived and taught abroad for a year. I visited Mosques, became friends with Muslims, attended protests, studied the history and art of many countries, volunteered, joined support groups for at-risk teens in the LGBTQ community, visited the child of an illegal immigrant in a children’s hospital that saved her life, started an online campaign that raised thousands of dollars for the children of Syrian Refugees and most importantly kept an open-line of conversation with the new friends I’ve made over the years.

These new friends of mine are in so many ways nothing like me. We are different races, religions, sexuality and political parties. We are different, but we are trying to understand one another. We are looking for the best in one another. We are recognizing the good in others and learning that change starts within oneself. I am not free of judgement. The truth is, I have been judging my judgmental Facebook friends, which is no better. Often my knee-jerk reaction is to pop-off with a sarcastic response, but I am learning to recognize when I become hypercritical. I am trying to take a step back, reflect and learn. I do not want to add fuel to the already raging fire.

Today, I beg you, before you respond to anyone in anger, try to understand that person. Talk to them, ask them questions, help them, show them love and kindness, visit and share yourself with them. You may not agree with them, but maybe you will have some common ground. No surprise here, we all have a lot more in common than we realize. In fact, you might even make a new friend.

zootopia quote

Cheers

Taking a Toddler to NYC

taking a toddler tp NYC

We have recently returned  from a week long vacation to both NYC and Boston, and while half of it was dedicated to Husband attending PAX East (Penny Arcade Expo), the other half was reserved to family time in one of our favorite cities, our home away from  home (well one of the many places we consider “home”), New York City. Luna has been to NY with us a couple of times, but this is the first time she could voice her opinion of what she did and didn’t want to do. We were in no rush and had no itinerary for ourselves, so we let her map out most of our time in the city.

cityscape

I’ve had many friends message me and ask what they should do with their toddler in NYC, and if it’s even worth taking them. I think traveling is the most important activity you could ever do with your children, so I will always answer “yes”. Yes, take them. I promise it’s not as hard as it seems. (This, of course, does not relate to a much-needed romantic getaway you might plan with your significant other.) Toddlers are happy with running around outside, snacks and silliness, which is easy to find in just about every location, New York included. To make it even easier for you, I’ve compiled a quick list of best places to take a toddler in NYC.

1. Central Park

No matter what the age of your children. Go to Central Park! It is enormous and gorgeous and packed with adventure and wonder. There is so much to do that you could easily spend a couple of days exploring. I suggest starting at the Conservatory Water and watching the little sailboats, climbing on and taking pictures with the Alice and Wonderland Statue, head to Bathesda Fountain and pass the Boathouse, walk over the Terrace Bridge and down the Mall, explore the Ramble and definitely play at a couple of the amazing playgrounds. They are incredibly unique and fun!

starbucks outfit

2. Playgrounds

There are a surprisingly huge number of playgrounds around the city. In fact, I never noticed just how many until we brought Luna. That girl can spot a swing-set 6 blocks away. A few of our favorites are Carl Schurz playground on the Upper East Side, the Union Square Playground,  East 72nd Street Playground and Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park and Pier 6 Playground in DUMBO. There are dozens more that I am just dying to visit too!

nyc playground

3. Ice Cream

What kid doesn’t love ice cream??? Like pizza, there’s really no better city to find great ice cream.  There are ice cream trucks on every corner, but there’s also and endless supply of artisan ice cream shops in every single neighborhood. Want some of my recommendations? I love Big Gay Ice CreamVan Leeuwen (which has plenty of vegan options), Emack and Bolio’s and Victory Garden (all goat’s milk soft serve!)

making new friends

4. Time Square

Yes, Time Square is ridiculously crowded, but it’s also so full of energy! Luna not only loved watching all the people and creepy characters* wondering around, but she loved the stores. Namely, the Disney Store. Walking through the Disney Store in Time Square will make you feel as if you’ve transported to Disney World for a moment. Everyone welcomes you as you enter the door and the entire store is beaming with Disney magic. I’d also suggest climbing and sitting on the red steps to eat a snack and people watch for a bit.

*I very strongly suggest you not to take photos with the people dressed as characters.

nyc cherry blossoms

5. Broadway 

This is risky, but I would take a three or four year old, or a mature two-year old (oxymoron, right?) to a kid-friendly matinee. I plan to take Luna on our next trip. Lion King, Aladdin, Matilda or Wicked would all be great shows for kids.

climbing toddler nyc

6. A Library

I know you have a library wherever you live, but it most likely doesn’t compare to a NYC library. I LOVE the 42nd Street Library for many reasons, but it also has really large children’s center. It’s also the home of the original Winnie the Pooh stuffed bear. Of course, there are tons of story times for kids all over the city, just check the schedule here.

swings at nyc playground

7. Musuems

It’s easy to assume that a museum is too sophisticated for your toddler, but I assure they are not. Many NYC museums are child-centered… the Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Transit Museum to name a few. Even if the museums isn’t “child-centered”, it can still be child-friendly. Lots of museums offer family-friendly exhibits and it’s pretty easy to engage your kiddo in classic museums like the MET too. I like to ask Luna questions like, Can you find a dog? What colors do you see? What shapes do you see? Which do you like best? Who does that look like?  Can you count the girls? Etc.  Of course, after a half-hour we resort to goldfish crackers and juice for entertainment. Everything in moderation.

central park swings

8. Zoos

There’s the famous Bronx Zoo and the less famous Central Park Zoo. The Bronx Zoo is definitely the better of the two, but it’s also a trek to get out there. Central Park is much easier to access, but expect a small zoo experience. It’s worth your time to checkout the Children’s section of the zoo, which includes a petting zoo! Oh, and don’t forget to ask about the gay penguin couple!

upper east side toddler

9. Take a free class

This might be unethical, I don’t know, but you can definitely sign your kid up for a free trial class for anything you can imagine. NYC offers top notch classes for toddlers. They can learn dance, gymnastics, sign language, music, Chinese, sports,  cooking, Spanish, art, you name it! MOST of these classes offer free trials. So, before you go, give them a call and ask if it’s cool for you and your kiddo to try it out. It might just be the best class they’ve yet to experience! And, heck, it’s probably worth it to pay a one time visitor fee…if that’s even a thing.

nyc sunset

10. Public Transportation

Now, I know what many of you are thinking. Eww. Well, get over yourselves. Everyone in New York takes public transportation, and kids LOVE IT. In fact, Luna could not shut up about taking the train. Trains, buses, taxis, boats…anything out of their ordinary will be a thrill. Trust me. Plus, it’s cheap and gets you to your next fun destination!

Anything you’d add or take away from my list? I’d love to hear your opinion. Keep in mind, that anytime you travel with a toddler you will have good and bad moments. So pack their favorite snacks, your Xanax, and take it all in stride. The best thing about New York is that it’s always noisy, crowded and full of weirdos. No one will look twice when your toddler decides to have the meltdown of the century!

Cheers!

The Lesson I Learned From a Day at the Spa

Today, my Husband surprised me with a really nice and incredibly generous Mother’s Day gift. He took the day off work, took Luna and told me to do whatever I want this morning. THEN, he texted me an address and told me to be at that location before noon. That “location” was a spa, a real fancy-pants kind of day spa. There, he arranged for me to have a pedicure, massage and a facial. It was heavenly, but I’m not telling you this to brag…though it’s definitely starting to sound that way. I’m telling you this because I learned a valuable life lesson at the spa today.

cannot serve from an empty vessel

I was 100% excited and ready for my day alone, but the second Husband walked out of the door with Luna and headed to baby gymnastics I felt lost. I got busy quickly to take my mind off what I might be missing. A few chores and a blog post later, they came home and informed me that Luna had her first awards ceremony…and I missed it. The 27 photos Husband took made me feel a little better and before I knew it, it was time to head to my surprise spa appointment. At first, I was too overwhelmed by the refreshing aromas, luxurious robe, fruity water and peace and quiet to think of anything else. After a hot cup of tea and a pedicure, I started feeling anxious and guilty. I should be with Luna, I should be making dinner, cleaning, writing a blog post, volunteering, making money, working out, growing a garden, painting the living room, calling my Mom, ANYTHING, but getting a care-free day of pampering! What am I doing here???

The waves of guilt kept coming..

I have friends who deserve this more than I do. My Mom deserves it. (In fact, I made a looonnggg mental list of everyone who deserved a day at the spa more than me.) Also, why is my Husband wasting all of this money on me? Does he think I expect extravagant gifts? Shouldn’t we be using this money on groceries or starting a college fund? And, why am I getting all this time to myself? Husband works 12 hour days, shouldn’t I be taking advantage of his day off by spending quality family time with him and Luna?

I took a break from my train-wreck of thoughts by distracting myself with Facebook. Facebook is always a good  way to numb your mind. Between some adorable baby photos and Ellen videos I saw a status from a very smart friend that made me pause. She said that ongoing self-care is not a luxury, but a requirement. You cannot serve from an empty bowl.

You cannot serve from an empty bowl.

I read it over and over. I thought about it over and over as I got the best massage ever. By the time my day was done. I felt like a very grateful, melted stick of better with an overflowing bowl. In fact, after my facial, I chose to sit in the “relaxation room” a little longer so I could finish the next chapter of my book. I decided to make sure my bowl was overflowing.

I brought Chick-fil-a home for dinner. We had a very rare family meal together. I didn’t have to cook or clean-up and we just talked about our days and enjoyed each other’s company. I felt relaxed, energized and excited to dance around the living room before bedtime, let Luna ride on my back and play “giddy up Mama” and got everything ready for Friday. I feel renewed, and I am so grateful that my Husband gave me this gift.

I’m not saying we all need a day at the spa to fill our vessels and prepare to serve others, but we definitely need to take some time to refuel, however it is that we refuel. I know that I am not the only person who feels guilty and selfish when I take time for myself. Becoming a Mom has made the guilt even worse. I put off hair appointments and showers, I don’t take time to read my favorite books, do yoga, write or anything that serves me. For me, Motherhood has always been about being completely selfless 24/7, but what if taking care of myself actually makes me a better Mom?  It’s time to say buh-bye to that guilt. Self-care is necessary. I need to relax. I need to sit by myself, to read, write and express all of these crazy thoughts running through my mind. Not only that, but I need to show Luna that resting and caring for yourself is important and not shameful.

Take the time to fill your cup with love and peace. Then, you’ll be able to pour into others. This is not selfish. This is necessary.

take the time to fill your cup

On that note, remember not to judge others for taking the time to fill their own cup. This is something I need to remember. Others are just as drained and overworked as I am.  (Including my Husband.) So, next time you need some alone time, a long drive, a run, a date night, a girl’s night out or glass of wine in the bathtub, do it and enjoy it.  I promise you will come back full and ready to share your love with the others who need it.

Be kind to yourself…and others.

Cheers!

The Depressing Story of the Bridges of Madison County

 

 

review of bridges of madison county

It’s been a minute since I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing one of TPAC’s phenomenal Broadway shows, or heck review or write about ANYTHING. That’s a separate blog post…”Why Hilarie has been so overwhelmed and unable to write”. It’ll be riveting. I digress… This week I was able to attend the premiere of the award winning Broadway hit Bridges of Madison County at Nashville’s one and only Tennessee Performing Arts Center.  In all honesty, this will be one of the more difficult reviews I’ve written.

There are a few topics I really do not at all enjoy to view in any from of entertainment: affairs, cancer, hurt/sick animals and sad endings. *Spoiler alert* Bridges of Madison County covers two (possibly three) of these topics. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I do not love this kind of story.  I must admit, I never read the book or watched the movie, but after seeing the musical I did lots of online research to find the differences between the three and try to decide if I want to give either a try. I might.  In any case, Bridges of Madison County  centers around a love affair between an Italian woman who lives on a farm in Iowa with her Husband and two children as a housewife and a photographer from the National Geographic. They have a fast and furious four-day love affair while her family is at the state fair, which must come to a sad and painful end. Fun, right?

bridges of madison county

Watching an affair unfold makes me sick to my stomach. I find myself wanting to scream, “Stop! Don’t’ invite him! No, don’t drink the Brandy! Think of your children!!” I am not so naive to think that affairs don’t happen or that they’re even uncommon. In fact, the older I get the more common they seem, and I even realize that many couples stay together after an affair has taken place. I also know that people get sick and die, but just because it happens, doesn’t mean I want to watch it or read about it. I prefer fantasy, fairy tales and happy endings. Look, my anxious brain deals with enough turmoil 24/7, it needs a break from the heavy burden of doom and gloom. I need a little fantasy in my life. I don’t need a therapist to tell me that this is probably a huge reason why I am so in love with all things Disney.

I also realize that many of you do enjoy a nice heart-breaking story about affairs, love, sex and sacrifice. Sacrifice might actually be the saving graces of this story for me. One of the themes that runs through Bridges is sacrifice. What sacrifice will these characters make? Which love will they choose? Which path, if any, is the right path? I get that. Choices are hard, especially when it comes to love and sacrifice. The story is not all bad, and the musical itself, is certainly not bad. In fact, it’s mostly good.

bridges of Madison County musical

The singing, the acting, the music, the set and the costumes are all fantastic. I can appreciate and even enjoy a good show. There’s a lot of talent and artistry that goes into creating a memorable musical and I don’t want to leave you thinking I hated Bridges. I may have left feeling slightly depressed, but I did enjoy the talent and especially loved the set and the lighting. I truly felt the sun rising and falling each day over their small town. It was quite lovely.

I’ll leave you with this. If you enjoyed the book or the movie of Bridges of Madison County then you should definitely checkout the musical. If you are in search of puppies and sunshine like me, then keep in mind that Beauty and the Beast is coming to TPAC next month! Check out dates and tickets here for all of their upcoming shows. If you haven’t heard me say it before, I must say again how truly lucky Nashville is to have such a nice theater that always houses some incredible Broadway shows!

Cheers!

To the Dog I Got Before Having a Child

to my dog

Dear dog I got before having a child,

I begged for you for years when I still lived at home. It wasn’t until I got my wisdom teeth out (and a dry-socket), that I was able to sweet talk my Dad into getting me a pity dog. You were eight weeks old when I brought you home. And, though I swore it wouldn’t happen, you spent the first night snuggled in bed next to me. That’s where you have slept ever since.

baby belle

The first year, I bought every single ridiculous toy, treat and accessory that neither of us ever needed. You managed to completely demolish 4 phone cables, 5 pairs of shoes, a brush, every dog toy, 11 stuffed animals, a purse, 6 tubes of lipstick, your leash, collar, carrier and a chair. However, you were housebroken in record timing and pretty darn adorable with your one floppy ear so I forgave you. Your favorite playmate was a kitten nextdoor. The two of you were exactly like Milo and Otis. We took long walks, I carried you in a bag like Paris Hilton, and brought you absolutely everywhere.

belle and mommy

Over the next several years, we moved from Texas to Tennessee to New York and back to Tennessee (with a brief hiatus when I moved to Albania). You were one of the worst travelers ever. You never ever fell asleep in the car. You preferred to run around and whine. You chewed through three very expensive carriers on planes and almost got Zoey kicked off of a flight. She had to lie and tell the attendant you were her emotional support dog, which was a bold lie, considering you were crying and barking the entire time. There was also an incident where you lost two claws in an escalator at H&M. Boy, you can be a handful. However, you always adjusted. You learned to love the snow, pee on concrete, play with other dogs (kind of), shop in fancy stores, love new people and always remain loyal to us.

belle in a coat

When you were seven years old, I found out I was expecting. You were going to be a “big sister”. I was SO excited to see how you would respond to the baby. Would you be loving, protective, nurturing, excited, curious or playful? (No. You were none of those.) Before having Luna, I used to hold you and cry. I was so worried that you would feel left out or forgotten. I would tell you over and over what was going to happen and that we would always love you. I knew things would change, but I didn’t quite know how much.

big sister belle

Luna is now two and you are now ten. You are currently snuggled up under my elbow as I type this, and I just want to apologize. I am sorry for what I said when I was sleep deprived. There may have been times I threatened your life and home when you almost (or successfully) woke the baby. I never meant it. I would never actually drive you to the animal shelter or have your barker removed.  I’m sorry I lied and told you things wouldn’t change. You are always on the back burner…your walks, baths, vet visits, flea medication and sometimes even dinner are either forgotten, late or last on our list. Thankfully, Luna gives you at least half of all of her meals. I am not half the owner I was two years ago, and I am sorry.

Luna and Belle Feeding belle

Yet, you still love me most. You are always happy to see me, only sleep in the nook of my knees, listen best to my commands, will walk and run many miles with me, insist on licking me on the mouth (you could actually let that one go) and still love me unconditionally.  I’m certain that only a dog has the capacity to love so unconditionally, well or a God, but you catch my drift… anyways, no other human can possibly be so loyal. Thank you Belle, you are truly a girl’s best friend. I may accidentally leave you  in the backyard and let Luna walk you on the leash (even though I know you hate it), but I love you. and I’m really glad you put up with my shotty behavior. Happy tenth birthday and may we have many more together!

me and belle

Love,

Your Mom

P.S. Could you maybe at least pretend to like Luna? Other than when she’s holding food? She is my daughter, you know.

resting Belle

Flying on the Zoo’s New Eagle

the nashville zoo's soaring eagle

Have I ever mentioned how much I love living in Nashville?  I have said it to so many people, so many times, but this city has it all. Sure, I miss Texas, New York, Florida and even Albania, but no other city compares to Nashville (and it’s surrounding suburbs).  I’m always looking for new adventures in this town full of excitement and luckily I’ve made friends with people who actually invite me to come try some of Nashville’s newest thrills. Last week, I got invited to try the Nashville Zoo’s newest ride: The Soaring Eagle. It’s a zip-line that’s family friendly, goes two ways and is a really special experience.

zipline selfie

Soaring Eagle selfie!

I’m no stranger to zip-lines. We’ve zipped through the islands of Okinawa, the rain forests of Costa Rica, the towers in Franklin’s Adventure Tower and the ski slopes of Nemacolin. I thoroughly enjoy zipping quickly through and over the beautiful landscapes. There’s really nothing like it, and even though the zip-lines are always similar, the views and experiences are all unique. However, the Soaring Eagle ride is not like other zip-lines. I have never done a zip-line quite like the one at our local zoo.

soaring eagle view

First of all, it seats two people. That’s right…seats. You actually get to sit in a chair with a seat-belt like buckle with someone else. The two of you are then quickly carried backwards and up to the top of the line (110 feet in the air). After a brief pause to take in the views (the Nashville skyline, the zoo’s African Savannah, the festival field and much more), you will be released to soar back down at a 28 mph speed! It’s exhilarating, but not enough to be too scary for kids. In fact. we saw a 5 year-old girl riding with the biggest smile on her face. The scariest part is at the end when it appears you are going to have a hard landing. (You’re not BTW.)

Bella and I were lucky enough to try out the Soaring Eagle together, but Husband had to work and is dying to try it himself. Maybe next weekend during their Eggstravaganzoo?  Unfortunately, Luna isn’t tall enough to ride yet, but as soon as she reaches 42 inches, I’m certain she’ll be itching to ride. Although, who knows what new attractions the zoo will have by then…they just keep growing and growing and growing and growing. Stay tuned because we will be there for their giant egg hunt next Saturday and the grand opening of the  new entrance on April 9th.

What adventures have you been on lately?

Cheers!

Crossing the Finish Line

crossing the finish line

*This isn’t me crossing the finish line, it’s me running through Magic Kingdom and boy was it magical!

I recently ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Disney World. In fact, I actually completed the Glass Slipper Challenge…  meaning, I also ran the Disney Princess Enchanted 10k. Flashback to a year ago, and I would have told you that I would never ever ever in the history of evers consider running a half marathon. Go back two years ago, and  I would have told you you that I’d be thrilled to be able to walk a half mile. In fact, I would have been thrilled to walk downstairs in my house without starting to blackout. So, how did I get here?  Well, that was my exact thought as I ran across the finish line, hand in hand with my Husband.

When Luna was born, two years ago, I was very physically and mentally ill. My crazy blood pressure had kept me in the hospital for 10 days and the doctor had me taking 19 pills a day. Being so sick and weak after giving birth not only caught me completely off-guard (I had a textbook perfect pregnancy), but it left me feeling shocked, depressed and very anxious. I had bad PTSD that I am still battling, but I was also physically unable to do almost everything. The medications were keeping my heart rate and blood pressure so low that walking upstairs or even holding Luna while standing for too long, caused me to blackout. It was really hard. Gradually, I began to heal. My medications were lowered (a lot), my strength and energy started to return and I was beginning to come back to life. Focusing on the small victories helped a lot. At this point, I was thrilled to start going on walks and do yoga again.  In fact, a full day of grocery shopping, cleaning cooking and caring for Luna felt like crossing a finish line…a finish line that ended by crashing into my bed, and a race that began again each morning. It was a finish line that I was thrilled and grateful to continue crossing.

disney princess half marathon

By the time Luna turned one, I couldn’t even recognize the sick version of me from her birth. Yes, I was still taking blood pressure meds, but nothing could slow me down anymore. I had teamed up with my very good friend, Bella, and started exercising hardcore 6 days a week. We started with Shaun T’s Focus T25 and with each other’s continual support and encouragement (plus some friendly competition), we had completed T25, Insanity Max 30 and P90X3. To give ourselves an even bigger challenge, we signed up for a few Mud Runs. Neither of us ever ran, or even liked running,  but we needed a little challenge and a few muddy obstacle course riddled 5K’s seemed fun and even doable. Well, these Mud Runs led to regular 5K’s because we needed the practice, right? We wore matching costumes for every 5K to make them more fun and we actually began winning all the costume contests. Before Luna turned one, we not only won several costume contests, but we were placing in our age groups too!

Our most exciting 5K happened in May of 2015. We did the Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. A night run through the park  that turned into a 3 mile scavenger hunt as soon as you crossed the finish line and ended in a private party inside of Animal Kingdom and lasted until 2am.  This race was so much fun, so organized, unique and full of Disney magic that we decided right then and there that we’d be coming  back for another, bigger, better Disney run. We must have been REALLY excited because we somehow convinced ourselves to sign up for the Glass Slipper Challenge.

Over the next 9 months, we trained. We trained hard, and then…we didn’t. We were interrupted with vacations, work and illness. We’d drop off and then start again. We were riddled with shin splints, stress fractures, runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis.  We saw doctors and physical therapists, learned new exercises, cross-trained like a beast and fueled on gallons of water and coffee. We learned the importance of good running gear and sold our souls to Fleet Feet in order to purchase the best shoes, socks, leg rollers, compression sleeves and leggings. Before we knew it, it was four weeks until the race. We spent the last four weeks pushing hard, much harder than we should have. We were running further and faster than we ever had and we paid for it. Two weeks before the half-marathon, I got put in a boot. One week before, Bella seriously injured her knee. We flew to Florida crossing our fingers that some Disney magic and pixie dust would carry us over the finish line.

The weekend of the race we went to the parks all day every day. We went to bed late and got up at 4am every morning. We decided to take the 10k super easy and save up our energy and and slightly healed bodies for the half. We jogged the 6.2 miles, stopped to take a few photos and really enjoy the early morning run through EPCOT and the Boardwalk. We watched the sunrise, saw several characters, fireworks and it all felt very Disney-esque. We crossed the finish line feeling great. In fact, we all felt more confident than ever about completing the half-marathon, which brings me to the next morning.

RunDisney’s slogan is “every mile is magic”. When I first saw this phrase plastered around the memorabilia shop, I laughed because, seriously? No. “Every mile is torture” was how I felt during our training. However, when we crossed the start line with 25,000 other runners decked out in their Disney running costumes, fireworks went off and I have to admit, it felt a little magical. Then, we passed a full marching band playing and cheering us on…then a DJ who was jamming so hard she had the entire crowd raising the roof as we ran up an overpass. I was actually enjoying this. The magic continued every single mile…dozens of characters, choirs, cheerleaders, music, snacks, drinks, medication, photographers and not to mention Cinderella’s castle kept us entertained and motivated for the entire race. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t horrible either. I smiled so much during the half-marathon that my cheeks hurt. Husband and I stayed together the entire time and kept a slower pace so as not to cause any injuries to flare up.

Before we knew it, we were a mile from the finish line. At this point, we were both feeling shocked. We were actually going to do this, nothing could stop us now and each step just brought us closer to the finish. I could feel the excitement coursing through my veins as we ran passed the crowds cheering us on (which BTW makes a HUGE difference!). Husband and I kept looking at each other and saying, “We are doing this, we are actually doing this!” Then, about 100 yards from the finish we grabbed one another’s hand. We crossed the line hand-in-hand. Not only could I not stop smiling, but I couldn’t help but cry.

We crossed the finish line and slowed to a walk…our first time to walk in over 13 miles. I was flooded by emotions. Every single “finish line” prior to this one crossed my mind. From Luna’s birth to being able to walk downstairs, completing T25, to my first 5k, to my first medal, to a 10k and then this. I did it and I could not have felt more proud. I wore my medals all weekend.

We cross many “finish lines” throughout our lives. These victories are more than just an accomplishment, they are stepping stones to our next challenge. They are there to remind us that we can do hard things, that we have done hard things and each one prepares us for the next. And, those “magic miles”, well, every mile might not actually be magical, but every once in a while you’ll pass a cheerleader that will encourage to keep moving…keep your eyes on them, they are the magic. So whether the next “finish line” is at the end of a race, a number on a scale, a promotion at work, the end of the laundry pile or finally having the courage to try something new, remember the finish line’s you’ve already crossed. You’ve got this.

mommy's #1 fan

I just want her to know that if she works hard and believes in herself, anything is possible.

Cheers

 

When My Toddler Reminded Me That Love is Patient

love is patient

Husband has been sick and working from home the last couple of days. He is lucky to have a job that allows him to do this, but it is not easy to work at home when you have a toddler constantly asking you to come play. So, I’ve done my best to keep myself and Luna busy and out of the house.  After my work yesterday, I picked up Luna from Mother’s Day Out and took her to the mall. It was raining and freezing outside, so I figured we could have a good time running around the mall and maybe even get a little shopping done.  Everything was working out just beautifully….until it wasn’t.

While browsing Nordstrom’s, Luna began asking for water. And, by “asking”, I mean screaming, crying and rolling on the floor yelling “water!”. There just happens to be a little coffee bar right outside of Nordstrom’s. Perfect, Luna can get some water and I can have a coffee. While waiting in line, Luna began whining that she wanted to walk. I put her down and she immediately climbed into a chair and dropped her stuffed Goofy, right next to the chair. Being the logical toddler that she is, instead of getting off the chair and picking up Goofy, she started wailing.

The wailing began just as I was ordering our drinks. I tried telling her to get down and pick Goofy up, but she had other plans. Luna, decided to not only continue screaming, but to lie on her belly and reach over the side of the chair to try and reach Goofy. With every passing second, the screaming got louder. Then, just as I was taking my change from the barista, Luna slipped out of the chair and landed on her head. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Knowing what was coming I rushed to her to try and quiet the oncoming screams. Hell hath no fury, like an already fussy toddler that falls down. Not only was she inconsolable, she was pissed.  She refused the water, the hugs, the calming words, her Goofy, snacks…everything. She was thrashing and screaming as if I was pulling her teeth out. I tried desperately to hold both drinks, my diaper bag, the stroller, my shopping bags and my feral toddler and get out of the tiny coffee shop as quick as possible. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. within 100 feet of us had stopped what they were doing to watch, and mostly likely call CPS. At one point an older woman even came over and offered to push my stroller out. She could clearly see the sweat beads forming on my brow as the wild toddler kicked and flailed frantically in my arms.

After what felt like hours, we made it to a table outside of the shop and sat down. Luna calmed down quickly as she sat on my lap and decided to drink her water. At this point I was not only embarrassed, but angry. As I whispered in her ear how very lucky she is that we aren’t at home and took a giant swig of my latte, Luna did the most unexpected thing.

She put her hands together and said as clear as day, “Love is patient. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is kind.” She repeated this phrase over and over along with some added babble. I just stared at her wondering, a) when did she learn this little prayer? and b) how did she know I needed this subtle reminder? Also, why couldn’t she sit quietly and pray like a little cherub in the middle of the very crowded coffee shop?!?  Mostly, I stared at her in awe and tried to figure out the rest of her little prayer.

Eventually, I emailed her teacher to get the rest of the words… (said to the tune of Where is thumbkin“)

Love is patient, love is patient

Love is kind, love is kind

Always understating, always understanding

Time after time, time after time.

I sat with her, mulling over her prayer, and realized just how much parenting has taught me about true unconditional love. Sure, I may lose my patience with Luna more than I care to admit and I’m probably not always as kind as I could/should be, but I’m learning. That’s the funny thing about parenting. As parents, we spend so much of our time teaching and helping our kids learn, meanwhile, we are still growing and learning ourselves. While I do my best to teach her about life, rules, friendship, manners and going pee pee in the potty, she is in return, helping me be a more responsible, loving, understanding, patient and forgiving. It’s a beautiful relationship.

This is a memory I’m going to keep safe, right in my back pocket. I have a feeling I will need to pull out this little prayer many times of the next 16 years or so….and then some.

Cheers!

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