Sunday, March 24, 2013

Adventures in Tulsa: Postoak Canopy Tour

Despite Doc and I’s shared fear of heights, we completed the Postoak Canopy Zipline Tours without crying, throwing up, passing out, angrily screaming at anyone, or otherwise totally freaking out.zipline

It was in the mid 30’s outside with very little wind and a constant mist of rain. We dressed warmly and honestly did just fine until maybe the last two legs of the zipline.

We booked an early start time, mostly so we wouldn’t have to feel the looming terror of doing something that is completely against survival instincts all day long. At 9:00 we were climbing three very steep and high sets of stairs to our first platform.

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Doc went first. He climbed onto the launch platform. In the picture below we are standing on the top of the tower, but you still step up onto the platform pictured before you take off. 269259_zipline oklahoma tulsa sand springs osage county_23_03_2013 09_58 AM

You aren’t supposed to launch yourself off. You more just sit your weight low into your harness and allow gravity to get you going. It’s plenty sufficient. So after a very brief pause to look down, Doc was off!

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Well I couldn’t very well chicken out after that, so just a few moments later, I stood up on the platform. I tried to focus on the view. It was beautiful. Hills. Streams. All that junk that I’d normally think was awesome if I wasn’t about to fly over it all. And fly I did!

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They have “break blocks” at the end of each line so that you can slow down and not slam into the giant tree at the end of each line. I found myself holding my breath at the end of each zip waiting to smack into it. It wasn’t ever super jarring or bad, but for some reason I kept expecting it to be. Next time, I’m going to yell “POW” every time I hit one.

The guides were great. An awesome pairing of the guy who tells those jokes teens love to roll their eyes at (and who also happened to be a Sooner Fan) coupled with the slightly quieter and more casual conversationalist. You can guess who was who from the picture below.

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They took photos for us, which was awesome. You can take your own camera, but I’m glad we didn’t. It wouldn’t have been fun to mess with.

We had a great time and will definitely try to go back when the weather is closer to the mid 80s later this year. I think next time we will be able to relax a bit more and just embrace the rush. There was a bit more…shivering…because of the temperature this time. Warmer weather might tempt me to wave my arms about more.

SO – you have to weigh between 70-250lbs. You can’t be pregnant. You can’t have severe allergic reactions, heart problems, super severe asmtha, etc. It’s a two hour deal and once you start zipping, there isn’t really an exit until you complete the course. Even if you are afraid of heights, if you can make it past the first zip, you will enjoy yourself.

I’m really happy Tulsa had this to offer us! Adventure Complete!

Next up: …TBA

Friday, March 8, 2013



Doc and I vs. Doc or I. Who gets to live their dreams? I’ve been living in a land of “or”. I’m not sure when my thoughts shifted that way, but they did.

Before we had children, Doc and I both worked towards our goals. We were capable of give and take to ensure that both of us were making progress towards our goals. Back in those days, I had some lofty goals. I wanted to get a PhD and work in the land of curriculum development. I was going to go to school and teach and be a mom and it was going to be wonderful. Then one day, I was going to get to do my dream job of writing curriculum and helping integrate writing and publishing science and mathematics for elementary and middle school classrooms.

But, with Doc working such sporadic hours while in residency and our beautiful little girl, we had to have a period of “or”. I could work for a while, pushing towards a position in my dream area. Doc would complete his residency, and we’d move from there. It needed to be Doc’s turn. I tried to think that hopefully, it could be my turn later.

Then Rowan came along, and the “or” in our life was bolded and bumped up. Doc worked on his goals because they were ones we couldn’t afford to stall. We had to pay for the cost of Rowan’s care. We had to pay to keep living. I quit working. Someone had to be home. It was him or me and I was the only one who made good sense. My work didn’t have great health insurance and I didn’t make what Doc did. There wasn’t even really a choice. I’m not bitter at the decision we made. We were lucky to be in a position that we had a way to take care of our little boy while he was here. We made sacrifices that were well worth it.

When Rowan died it was almost impossible for me to think of that world I’d lived in before where my dreams were possible. It seemed wrong. That world was only opening up again because my son was gone. If he was here, I’d never have had those opportunities. I felt sick when I thought about pursuing dreams. I felt guilty when it didn’t make me sick to think about them. But time has passed. My time in therapy has helped me work past feeling that I couldn’t move forward.

When I think about Rowan’s life, I do think about how my love of science and math helped me. I had to convert doses and measure medications and develop the capacity to have informed conversations on scientific topics I had no real previous knowledge of. I had the basic skills to teach myself. I had the tools. I read, researched, asked questions, developed new skills…

My point is, science helped me take care of my son and make what I believe were the best medical decisions for him. It gave me some sort of guidance in a world where I felt lost. I was able to navigate something I hadn’t understood before. I could share our journey with others. I could teach the subject to others because I understood it well enough to communicate it which somehow made the situation less lonely. It gave me power in a powerless situation, and isn’t that what I want everyone to be able to do? Isn’t this what I want to carry to my classroom and all classrooms I can?

I can picture students participating in the scientific community! Online blogs, student reflections and reports, sharing through social media, and reading amazing and wonderful developments with the capacity and passion to do so. Why shouldn’t they? They are children, but they are capable. They have a curiosity in them still that needs to be fostered and fanned into a flame that survives adolescence and teen years.

When did memorizing math facts and reading a chapter and answering flat questions ever make you want to delve and explore? Do we do that as adults?

I had dreams before my son was born. I still have them. It’s okay for me to have them. And isn’t this dream honoring Rowan in a way? I think it is.

And it occurred to me that my world isn’t an “or” world right now. Doc is going to finish residency after one more academic year. I want to teach for that year. And after? I want to start working on my masters. After residency Doc is free. Free to follow me and find work where I find a graduate program.

I put myself in this box that didn’t allow me to step up and reach for something higher. I say that I put myself in a box because Doc has always supported an “and” for us. I  revisited the topic of graduate school to Doc for the first time in a few years, this was about how the conversation went.

Me: So I was thinking about starting work on graduate school.

Doc: Hm mm

Me: And I thought that maybe when you finished residency it would be a great time for me to start. So I thought I could start researching programs and work on applying next year to start August 2014.

Doc: Ok. That would work.

Me: Would you be willing to find a job based on where I was accepted to school?

Doc: Yep.

Me: Would you stay in Tulsa if I went to school here?

Doc: (no hesitation) Yes.

It means a lot to my husband to live somewhere different. When he said he’d stay without hesitation that he’d drop that goal for a while if it meant I could work towards my dreams, it reminded me of why I gave up my thoughts of never marrying for him. He’s willing to live in an “or” world for me so that we can live in “and”land as often as possible.

So that’s where we are heading now. I’m researching graduate schools and studying for the GRE.


We’re on our way again.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I love shrinks.


When I was in grade school, I remember hearing the term “marriage counseling” in church. My entire impression of it was that marriage counseling is something people go to when their marriage is basically over and they are trying to buy time before they divorce OR something that couples do after someone commits adultery. It was absolutely NOT something I perceived as a standard, healthy process for couples to use as a tool to enrich their relationship.

Then I met my husband.

Oklahoma has a wonderful program that allows engaged couples to receive a discount on their marriage license if they complete a specified amount of premarital counseling. I’m not going to lie, I was a little afraid of getting married. I was only 20 when I became engaged. Doc was 22. I knew that I was young…really young for marriage. Doc and I both felt like premarital counseling was a good step for us. We wanted to make sure that we’d considered a lot of the major beliefs, ideals, and goals we each had for our lives. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t get married and five years later discover that there was some giant problem for us in our relationship that we hadn’t explored prior to getting married that would be a “deal breaker” or would cause one of us to give up something that was extremely important to us and leave the other resentful.

Needless to say, we used the marriage license discount as an excuse, but really benefitted from the premarital counseling. It gave us a renewed faith that we really were ready for marriage and that we had a shared vision for our future.

After we were married, we went through a lot of ups and downs outside of our relationship. We lost family members, dealt with illness, medical school, financial struggles, and it weighed heavy on me. I ended up seeking therapy to help me cope with all of the new stresses and changes in my life. It gave me so many tools to deal with anxiety and stress. My therapist helped me learn how to recognize signs that I needed to slow down and take better care of myself.

I’ve tried to talk openly about therapy because I think it has been highly beneficial. I see therapy as this beautiful opportunity for individuals, couples, and families to really take care of themselves and better their lives. Your mental health is important. Your relationship’s health is important. Doesn’t it deserve check ups too?

After Rowan died, Doc and I both were really deeply grieving. One of the problems with grieving deeply alongside your partner is that no one grieves the same way. Trying to be supportive for your partner while you are grieving yourself is extremely difficult. Communicating became more difficult. It greatly diminished my self esteem to love someone so much and know that I could not help them because I just wasn’t capable.

So Doc and I decided to go to grief/marriage counseling. We worked on trying to sort of grasp our bearings. A good friend of mine described the feeling in a marriage after the loss of a child like being in a shipwreck. When the ship finally sinks you get pulled under water. You are separated and sent spiraling. You can’t tell which way is up but every day is a fight to try to get to the surface. Once you get there, you start to search for the other person. Sometimes they don’t get to the top at the same time. You wonder if they’ll come up for air at all. You just want to find each other.

And that’s what we wanted. All along we just wanted to get to the top and find each other. Therapy helped us navigate our way through this ocean of grief. We needed someone to help us figure out which way was up.

I’m happy to say that after about three months of really hard work I feel like we have managed to do that. We just needed a guide.

So here is more of me being open about therapy. Counseling. It’s a spectacular tool. It took a lot of courage to say “I want help” for both of us. There is some stigma still surrounding therapy but I hope it continues to dissipate. I hope my Little Bird goes through her childhood and adolescence thinking that there is true value in seeking help and counsel in life when the people around you cannot provide it. I hope she doesn’t see it as a last ditch effort to solve and unsolvable problem.

I’m willing to fight for myself and for my family, whatever arena that fight takes place in.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Feminist Rant for the Week

First of all, let me say that Diane Rehm is wonderful. She did a spectacularly thought provoking broadcast about the Feminine Mystique that you should find on and give a listen.

We’ve come a very long way in the last half century, but there are still constant little things that I feel we need to push onward.

This week I’d like to address something that punches my gut at least once a month.

“Dr. and Mrs. Matthew F-------.”

I understand that this is old school ettiquette. Regardless, I don’t like it.

Before I married my husband, it would have been addressed to “Dr. Matthew F------ and Ms. Elle M--------”. I was allowed to count as an entire first name! Lucky me!

I should clarify that “Dr. and Mrs. F----“ doesn’t bother me. My husband is firstnameless as well.

When we married, I insisted that we be announced as “Mr. and Mrs. Matt and Elle F----“ because I didn’t understand why anyone would reduce me to “and Mrs.” just because I’d married.

It was hard enough for me to decide to change my last name to my husbands. I do like that our little family shares the same surname, but it was a difficult decision for me. I still fight it a little by insisting on “Fowlington” as the name for our little clan, even if it isn’t on our passports.

Maybe your grandma or grandpa would be aghast if you sent out invitations or mail addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Grandpa and Grandma Surname”, but I doubt that very many woman would be upset to see their first name on the envelope too. I certainly enjoy it.

Just a thought.