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Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Sunday
Sep072014

Badass Scaredy-Cat

I wrote this thing over on Mom.me about taking life day by day with absolutely no clue what tomorrow will bring and how appealing I find the whole concept of embracing the unknown. Not only appealing, but it's the only way I've been able to get through each day; not mulling over how all of my pre-divorce goals have crashed and burned over the past couple months, just putting one foot in front of the other and taking it one day at a time.

Still, at least once a day panic climbs my throat and it takes every ounce of willpower I have not to give in to what feels like a thousand voices vocalizing all my inner fears, shouting them back at me inside my head. I say that because in writing about embracing the unknown I can also acknowledge I am scared shitless of what the future may bring and that maybe I write to convince myself of things as much as I attempt to write truths.

I talk to my therapist about how I feel lonely but still resist the notion of dating, even just casually, and am trying to revel in the loneliness because I feel like a strong person needs to be completely comfortable being alone and not seek out others just to avoid loneliness. She asks why I feel the need to conquer life alone, tells me there's nothing wrong with being with others to avoid loneliness, isn't that one of the good things about relationships?

I don't know. I guess I view people who are uncomfortable with being alone as weak. She challenges that notion as well, says I've spent my entire life trying not to feel vulnerable and that it's OK to be vulnerable. So I'm trying to be open but it's all so confusing and difficult. I feel like an alcoholic in AA who's been advised not to date for at least a year after becoming sober. So damaged by my past and my marriage that I should avoid all contact with the opposite sex or else risk relapse into bad habit behaviors I've spent years cultivating. And, quite frankly, the notion of dating seems awful. I've spoken to a few divorced friends who are trying to meet people and resort to spending time on dating websites and the stories they tell... Just... NO. I'd rather die alone than subject myself to that kind of nonsense.

Actually, in writing this I realize I do have a goal. I want to be a calm, confident person who lets most of life's difficulties roll off her back. Someone who doesn't spend time freaking out about the unchangeable or the inevitable, who doesn't get caught up obsessing over bullshit and just enjoys the privilege of being alive. Life is what it is and I just want to appreciate the ride no matter what gets tossed my way. I'm trying. I alternate between feeling like a badass with a new lease on life and a lonely girl who is afraid of what the future might bring...
Wednesday
Sep032014

And the Playground Stank of Stink Eye

And so what if I did want to sit on the bench for five minutes while my son slides and mess with my phone? That makes me a bad parent? I need to be in on every second of the action or else risk the judgment of others? And forget about judgment, I’m trying to avoid complete and total burnout here. Any mom can tell you her entire day is spent responding to the needs of this child and that child and the dog and the phone call from your health insurance company that lasted 50 agonizing minutes and the bill you had to pay and then this child and that child and this child and that child and yet I still brought you to the freaking fair or the swimming pool or the park and CAN I NOT SIT HERE AND LOOK AT MY PHONE FOR TEN SECONDS WITHOUT GETTING A STINK EYE FROM SOMEONE?

Click here to read the whole damn thing over on Babble.
Thursday
Aug282014

Ms. Wylet Goes To Kindergarten

Never again will all three of my babies spend lazy days with me in the little bubble that has been our universe together. Oh sure, there will be next summer when school is out but Violet's horizons will have expanded, friends will have been made and maybe our little family excursions with just each other will no longer be enough for her. There was this one, brief summer when all of my children were born and none had started school yet when we felt complete. A team, a unit, best friends who had nowhere to be and only needed each other to be happy.

Go on with your bad self, Ms. Wylet. You have more heart and soul in your pinky finger than most people manage in a lifetime. We're counting the seconds until we can come get you.
Tuesday
Aug192014

Leaving the Legos Out

One minute I’m whirling through complete chaos. A chattering 5-year-old messily slurping Lucky Charms, a 3-year-old giving most of the sausage and eggs he demanded instead of cereal to the two enormous black labs constantly underfoot, claws forever tap-tapping/scratch-scratching the hardwood floor as they angle for table scraps, and a 5-month-old fussing from his seat in the corner of the small kitchen in the home I rented upon deciding to separate from their dad. Ten minutes later I sit alone in absolute silence. Dad came and went, taking the chaos with him.

My latest over at Mom.me. Click here if you wanna read the whole thing.
Sunday
Aug172014

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

For the longest time in life I haven't had A Thing. You know, the thing I do that is mine that I love that I look forward to that motivates me to get out of bed or finish a work day or defines who I am or how others might describe me in a small way. I guess writing is kind of my thing but it's also how I make a living and so it kind of stopped counting as A Thing. I was jealous of other people and their things because for the past several years my thing has been being a mom and surviving those crazy-ass first years of your childrens' lives where keeping them alive is priority one and after that; sleep. Please for the love of God, go to fucking bed so I can sleep too! Don't you realize how awesome sleep is, goddammit?!

So there was not time for A Thing beyond the things that kept my kids alive and mostly happy and the things that made the money that helped keep the kids alive and mostly happy. And then I suddenly found myself without my children half of the time. Granted, most of the time I'm not with my kids I'm working full-time and most of the time when I'm not working full-time I'm writing for three different websites but when I'm not with my kids, not at work and finished writing - I finally have A Thing. The thing, it's changed my life.

When's the last time you rode a bike? For me, until last month, it was maybe when I was a teenager. Oh, there was the one-off here and there; goofing around at someone's house who maybe had a bike laying around and I vaguely remember vacationing with a boyfriend in my twenties and deciding renting bikes and riding along the beach would surely be a scene out of a fucking Nicholas Sparks novel but, as is the way with most seemingly romantic things - sex in bathtubs/cars being other seemingly romantic/sexy things that suck in actuality - the novelty wore off ten sweaty minutes into the ride. The last time I used a bike with any seriousness or true enjoyment was in my early teens to get to my friend's house or just riding around exploring the city I called home.

But now, 25 years after my serious biking career came to an end, I'm riding almost every day and with joy and determination that would shame my 12-year-old ass. Brace yourselves because I'm about to make a bold statement that is truer than the package of hot dogs that is now my forehead when I raise my eyebrows: other than giving birth to Charlie in my living room the most powerful I've ever felt in my adult life is lately when I'm riding my bike. Not when producing a newscast in New York City featuring Barbara Walters (and, incidentally, telling Babs to wrap it up she was running long) not when manning the control room of FOX news during our 9/11 broadcast - I feel most powerful and alive when riding my bike.

A year ago I really tried to get into running. Everyone and their neighbor and their neighbor's cousin and the cousin's ex-boyfriend all seemed to be into running marathons. They all can't be wrong about running, I reasoned with myself. I'll just give it another go even though I've never really enjoyed jogging.

Turns out, they're all really wrong!

Running totally fucking sucks. And it's really hard on your body. But I wanted to get outside and do something active. Hiking's okay but somehow - dudes and their ridiculous, in yo face Spandex bulges aside - cycling caught my attention. Wait. Maybe the ridiculous in yo face Spandex bulges are why it caught my attention. I can't be sure. Then I got knocked up with Charlie so I put it off. But, after working off the last of the baby weight in June, I finally pulled the trigger on this bad boy about a month ago: Maybe the best thing I've done in years. It's the next best thing to flying, I swear. Sometimes I'll be hauling ass down some gorgeous country road and I catch myself grinning like a lunatic. Giggling, even! There was a bit of a learning curve at first. Any serious cyclist wants to clip in to their bike with special shoes that have cleats on the bottom that clip right onto the pedals. It sounds scary to be attached to your bike but it's really the only way to go. After a couple days clipping in you realize how natural it feels, how much more energy you're able to get out of each pedal rotation. Although initially I did have to tape a note to my bike reminding myself to clip out or swiftly meet the pavement in a most ungraceful manner should I forget. And, of course, I ate it in spectacular fashion at a busy intersection near my home when a light changed and I couldn't clip out in time. It was a tiny scratch but to just fall over on your bike like a 5-year-old riding without training wheels for the first time is pretty embarrassing. But crashing because you're clipped in to a bike is a rite of passage so I'm glad to have the story and gladder still that it's behind me.

For the past month I've been slowly increasing my miles and yesterday after work I managed to finish 30 miles.A horse's ass celebrating 30 miles with a horse's ass. While I like pushing myself to see how far and hard I can go, I think my favorite part - aside from seeing how fast I dare let myself go down hills (37 mph so far!) - is just being close to the road and the land, wind whipping all around me, seeing and hearing things I wouldn't from a car. Often I stop for a drink of water and just stand there listening: crickets, birds, distant cars, cows, airplanes droning overhead. I'll stop and talk to animals occasionally as well which reminds me - holy shit did you see this video from one of my bike rides that I posted on my Facebook page?



Maybe it sounds stupid but I can't tell you how happy, strong and powerful I feel whenever I'm on my bike. And yeah, the health benefit is amazing too. Not only am I damn near high on endorphins when a ride is over, I'm burning as much as 800 calories on some of these longer treks, but I'm seeing the gorgeous Pennsylvania countryside that I call home in a much more intimate way than I otherwise would. Riding my bike has solved so many problems for me. When I feel sadness creeping I get on my bike. Instead of working out at a gym I ride my bike. It's done wonders for my health, fitness, state of mind and my self-esteem. And hey. It looks like I'm not the only addict in the family. Setting a positive example for my kids is worth all the other benefits combined.
Ladies and gentlemen... QUEEN.
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