What’s in a Name?

In Cheryl Strayed’s amazing memoir Wild she wrote about the moment she signed her divorce papers with the new last name that would finally match her true self.

No longer the person who carried her last name as a child, she was embarking on something new and was certain that her ex-husband’s surname didn’t fit, either.

What’s in a name?

For Cheryl, she ended up finding the perfect moniker in the dictionary. Once signed on the dotted line it became her new identity. Read the book and you see it makes perfect sense.

I’ve decided that I no longer want my domain name to be Running in Mommyland. It doesn’t suit me anymore. I’m not sure it ever really did.

In pursuit of a new name (a pen name so to speak) I configured many an idea into the WordPress domain search box.

The task proved difficult as sharing a name with the Queen of all media and PBS’s talking dog means that all obvious domain choices are taken.

I’ve had a few last names in my life. My birth mother’s name is Osmundson. My father’s name is Feldman. My married name is Merrill. None of them seem to fit so much anymore.

So who am I and what will I be?

I know I will continue to parent and blog and run and try to eat healthily and continue my quest for a happy and healthy life.

I will continue to share Merrill with my kids.

I will always be a mixed bag of emotions and trials and errors.

I will never have all the answers.

But I will find a way to write for a living.

I am willing to do what it takes to make this thing happen; to ensure a good life for my kids and me.

Martha wills it to happen.

Martha Wills?

Decide quick…the domain name is available!

What do you think? Any other ideas?

M.

From an aesthetics perspective, I like how the M in Martha mirrors the W in Wills. And please forgive the sloppy penmanship. There’s a reason my name isn’t Martha Pretty Handwriting.

Why Blog?

If you are not a blogger you might not be aware of some of the fun things that your “publishing platform” can monitor for you.

In my case (on WordPress) I am able to see how many hits my site has had for the day, the month and the year. I also have access to cool information like the top posts for the day, which can be surprising if and old post gets a ton of hits from out of the blue.

One of my favorite sections is the search engine list which lets me in on the searches that have led readers to my site.

Today I have been located through searches for, “Sgetti honey boo boo,” “Emmy tits,” and “Miami 2013.” Yesterday  I gained a reader through the search phrase “make millet chips,” which I’ve never actually made, but all my talk about kale chips and millet and such makes it easy to understand Google’s minor confusion.

There have been endless interesting search phrases that have led readers to Mommyland and for each I am grateful.

Even the person who yesterday typed, “gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts,” is my reader….

Many people have asked why I still blog. My marathon has long ended; the main reason I started it to begin with.

There are a bunch of reasons that I continue.

But today, when the sun never shone and my kids spent way too much time in Crazyland (not to mention my own brain freeze caused by the paperwork pile of divorce affidavits), the smile that crossed my face upon the discovery of a curious reader’s search has proven to be reason enough.

Gorgeously dressed ladies with bare breasts.

I wonder if that searcher found what they were looking for? I wonder if they’ll be back?

Why do you blog? If you don’t have a blog have you ever thought about starting one? What would it be about?

XOM

Search number 4 on Google!

Parenting an Artist

While lying in bed between my girls last night I took the opportunity to read three pages of The Style Rookie, a blog created by sixteen year old Tavi Gevinson who has taken the fashion world by storm.

To say that I was blown away by her work is an understatement.

A collection of her thoughts (both typed and beautifully hand written), artistic imagery (collages, others and her own), music (others and her own) and photographs of her sweet bang trimmed self styled in real fashion (as opposed to an overabundance of labels), her voice is crystal clear.

Her current tilt seems to be toward a fifties and sixties aesthetic, but the photos with her friends are timeless. I love the freedom of expression; her cat lined eyes, her mix of print and pattern and form and silhouette and color.

What is there not to love, and with 50,000 hits a day to the blog (an incredible number not attained by people two, three, four times her age), it appears I am not the only one enamoured.

As I scanned the blog I got to wondering.

Clearly Tavi is an old soul; one of those people who functions outside of age. Watching her Ted presentation (below) you can see how bright she is yet the admittance that she still hasn’t, “figured it all out,” combined with her strong yet sensitive presentation, make her real as opposed to super-hero. What a great model for girls everywhere (teenager and not)!

What became more curious to me were my questions about her parents.

Who are the Gevinsons? Who are the people who created and are raising this bright and creative soul?

I was once a teenage girl who took fashion risks and cut baby bangs and wore my hair in Heidi braids crisscrossed over the top of my head, too. But beginning a fashion empire was just a dream for me. Tavi is doing it for real and her parents are allowing her to flourish and bloom.

In her adorable interview with Jimmy Kimmel she skimmed over his questions about her parents by saying something about them being “nice people,” but I discovered later in her posted Vimeo video that her father is an English teacher and her mother is an artist who weaves tapestries. She goes on to mention that her parents encouraged her (and her sister) to be creative and to read.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing all I can to raise children who will develop into well-adjusted, secure and strong girls. It’s not easy in this world of Barbie and princesses (whom my girls love) or as Tavi describes, “two-dimensional super-women…with one quality that’s played up a lot.”

I think Tavi’s parents are the example of how to do it right (whether or not a child is meant to be a prodigy). Fostering creativity, encouraging reading and allowing freedom of expression is the key.

Now if only she’d interview them. Or maybe I should try. I bet they are equally as interesting as their delightfully dynamic daughter.

Had you ever heard of Tavi’s blog or her magazine for teenage girls, Rookiemag.com? Are you as interested in learning about her parents as I am? Can you believe she’s been blogging for four years? That’s a lifetime in blogland!

XOM

Getting Paid to Write?

Here is the plan.

Tomorrow I will wake and dress and pack a bag of clean clothes for the day.

Before heading to yoga I will grab the computer and some lunch for later and hit the road on four wheels not to return until closer to dinner.

I will vinyasa until I’m sweaty and then drive my hot reddened self to Peachie’s house where I will shower and set up shop for some serious writer’s work of the non writing variety.

You see, I need a job and so am committing my entire Saturday to the submission of my work. I have contacts for Blogher and Babble and am hoping to unearth a few more blog friendly companies who pay their writers in currency of the greenish kind.

I have got to get this ball rolling as time is limited before I must find a real job with a real paycheck that can pay my very (necessary) and real health insurance. I could go back to teaching (I do miss it sometimes). I could find work in retail (Brian will have the girls on weekends anyway). Wouldn’t it be perfect, though, if I could make a living doing what I really love?

Blogher and Babble require links to previous posts for them to review. Clearly, I’ve got to pick the best ones, which is terribly hard when you are the kind of me that I am; never completely satisfied with my own work/harder on myself than others. It’s a curse.

My husband is not happy about my exodus, but it is essential. Work submission cannot happen with any distractions. I need complete focus. Aerobella the papillon will serve as my warm and fuzzy thinking companion. Rubbing doggy ears between thumb and forefinger is a very good deep thinking strategy.

Will keep you posted.

Any posts of mine that are favorites…that maybe resonated and live somewhere in your memory?

What are your plans for the weekend? 

XOM

Blogher, a women’s as network and publishing network.
Babble.com is a website for a new generation of parents Created in 2006, it went corporate in 2011 when it was purchased by Disney.
Her name is Aerobella, but we call her, “Belly.” She has very good thinking ears.

 

 

Blog Love

My real life bloggy friend Christine (from Love,Life,Surf) has inspired me with her weekly roundup of bloggers and posts.

In blogland there are masses of talented people with fantastic points of view.

Here are some of the gems I found (and re-discovered) this week!

1. She describes herself as a “teenager completely obsessed with fashion.” Living in New York City, she blogs at You’re a Tulle and writes for Huffington Post and Chictopia. I’m old enough to be her mother, but she’s my hero; channeling her passion and building a fantastic creative work life at such a young age! Odelia Kaly is a voice that I am convinced we will be hearing a lot from in the fashion circles of the future.

2. Months ago I stubled upon a blogger named Coco J. Ginger who blogs at Courting Madness. A poet, Coco had written about a breakup that spoke to me on so many levels. I tweeted her to tell her how much I liked her work, but as the days and weeks went by I forgot her name (it happens, sadly) and thus began my new search. How excited I was to find her again (I have since begun keeping a notebook of favorite blogs). Poetry is interesting; not always easy to understand as it’s rarely spelled out clearly. It’s also tough to write (my rhymy attempt). But Courting Madness has a great following with lots of likes! Her words resonate. Especially her words about love.

3. Having recently blogged about my diet overhaul (and writing about the task of removing sugar and gluten) I received a comment by a blogger named Vinny Grette (silly pseudonym?) over at Cook Up a Story. Currently writing about nutrition for children, he (or is he a she?) suggested I read his post about stevia. I read it and loved the writing style. So often, books and blogs about nutrition are as dry as Melba toast. Vinny’s work is clever and easy to understand without being preachy.

4. One of my favorite yogis, Lisa O’Brien from lifeyum believes in feeling good and doing good. She did so this week by sharing with her readers the work and words (guest post) of Elex DiSanto Scheels from Om Frog Yoga. Alex is a mom of triplets, a yogi, and her piece about sending the kids back to school is great! To say, “I relate,” would be an understatement.

5. Describing herself on Twitter as a ” former model who loves fashion and running,” Diary of a Dashing Fashionista has put together a great post about this season’s sportswear trends. From brands I know and love (Stella to Lululemon), to brands I haven’t yet discovered (No Balls and Wellicious), there’s a great array of information and images to excite any girl’s running fashionista within.

Happy reading!

XOM

8×10 print created by Jennifer Ramos at Made by Girl @Etsy. Check out Jen’s Made by Girl blog, too! She’s a New York City graphic designer and entrepreneur. Just fantastic!

Running Shameless

I woke restless (4:23 a.m.) from a dream that Zach McGowan from Shameless was my running partner for today’s scheduled eight miler.

There wasn’t anything tawdry about the dream. He was telling me to hurry up and get my belt. Urging me to tie my shoes faster. Handing me my coffee.

He wasn’t wearing a shirt, though.

But with it still so hot and humid outside, certainly that’s all that was about.

Off again I go into the blackness of early morning, this time made brighter by the lingering dreaminess of that man.

What are your motivators to move today?

XOM

p.s. So sorry for not attaching a photo, but every single picture was copyrighted. How’s an upstart blogger girl supposed to give her readers the full picture if not for the attached photo of him running with his dog? Now go and google…

I tweeted the fabulous Zach McGowan to which he replied and said he liked the post, used a smily face emoticon, and gave me permission to grab a photo off of his instagram. Nice and dreamy… a super combination!

On the Train Again

The whole purpose of beginning this blog was to document my marathon training while living this crazy place called Mommyland.

It’s with relief that I am now coming full circle as training for race number two officially begins on September 24th.

In the space between the last marathon and now I have worked and re-worked the plan making educated and experience based substantive decisions, which I will do my best to follow.

1. I will again be following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 schedule, but instead of three-day mid-week runs, I will be combining the mileage to run only two. This will mean that those mid-week runs will be longer, but I’ll have more days in between to rest and recover. I am hoping that exhaustion from too many successive runs in a row (which was an issue last time) will be resolved with this plan. I will also use the Galloway system of strategized walking, as I do believe it works and will help me go farther with more control.

2. I’ve agreed to help out my most favorite yoga instructor on Saturday mornings by checking in her students in return for a free pass to her phenomenal class. Last marathoning go around I was so consumed by the run that I neglected my yoga, neglected a huge piece of what grounds me to my life. Agreeing to be at the studio every Saturday will ensure that my yoga practice is built into the schedule. It will also give me an opportunity to re-build the dusty resume and re-establish the fact that I am consistent and committed and pretty competent at tasks in which I’m given.

3. Long runs, then, will have to happen on Sundays or Mondays (last year I ran long on Saturdays). The most gratifying runs are the long ones, for me. I am looking forward to those hours and hours on the road, out there on my own two feet, floating alone inside my own busy brain.

4. I’ve been off of sugar for twelve whole days, off of Diet Coke a week longer, and I’ve been much more careful about the overall contents of things like cereal and yogurt and so-called healthy snack bars and drink supplements. An ongoing process, I am sure there will be much more written about my emotional connectedness to food as it’s the one part that I still haven’t fully figured out. I should mention another change, too. I will NOT be getting on the scale anytime in the near future. More about that to come.

And so I am ready to go.

The last factor (of which I have no control) is with mother nature.

Yes there will be days in the next months that I will have no choice but run in the drizzle and/or rain and/or the early morning freezing cold. I can handle all that. It’s part of the challenge.

This heat, though, needs to go.

September marks a new beginning for me in so many ways and the muggy humid air has gotten very very old.

What races are you running? What will your training plan look like?

XOM

ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon. Joanna, from Poppy’s Style and I are running it! Anyone else want to come to the party?