I Have Learned

I’m over a half century old-an antique! During these 50+ years, I have learned a few things…

I have learned:

That life is best lived one moment at a time.

That things don’t always turn out like you thought- good or bad.

That some folks will change, and some will not,

And I am not in control of either.

That some people will come and others will go

And they all will/have taught me something.

That it’s good to have goals and dreams

And that some will support me and others won’t…

And that’s okay.

That time really does go faster as I get older

Or at least my perception of it does.

That children grow up fast

And they turned out good despite my failings.

That “things” don’t really mean too much to me anymore

But experiences do.

That some people will look me in the eye

And stab me in the back

But I will keep moving forward.

That in the end

The choices and responses I have are really

The only ones that matter.

That prejudice will always exist

And that I must check myself daily

To not get caught up in the fray.

That no matter how good I am to some people

Some are just incapable of reciprocation.

I must do good anyway.

That unlearning all of the preconceived notions

And judgmental doctrine about God & my worth

Will take a lifetime to completely get over.

That age and what society says about it

Are not in my favor as a woman.

I have learned

That I am free to be me

No matter what others think, no matter their opinion,

No matter their gossip.

It doesn’t matter.

The free me likes me the best.

The free me is able to look at others

More objectively and non judmentally

And love them in their freedom.

I have only to answer to me,

And to God.

I am without a shadow of a doubt

Convinced that He loves me

Despite the fallible me

I most often times see.

I have learned…

That rejection is survivable.

Even by a parent

Or child.

That dogs are just children with fur

Who love unconditionally.

This life is meant to be shared-

With those less fortunate,

And that includes animals.

That politics can divide people,

Sometimes irreparably-

And that is a travesty.

That running may not be the cure

Or answer for some people,

But it has kept me sane.

But most importantly

I have learned that

I have a contribution to make.

I matter to some

And for that

I will never apologize

For being me.

Older women don't follow the rules

 

I Yam What I Yam…(No Apologies)

I’ve been called lots of things-

A whore (my ex), Ms Aster (mother), a dog (classmates),

Among other (not so great) trappings.

Most recently a “braggart.”

Well, I suppose it’s so,

If to “brag” means the adjective

Of “excellent,” “first rate”

Holding myself to a higher level

Than the status quo.

You see, I’m no better than any other,

Not my sister, not my brother.

From dust we came and from dust

We will return,

The ground is level at the foot of the cross,

Six feet under or cremation and burn.

I only seek to demonstrate

That whatever point you are in life,

That it’s never too late.

If that is bragging, than I am guilty as charged.

Life is too short to squabble over semantics,

Whether I’m right and you’re wrong.

The world would be a much better place

If we would just stop and give each other grace.

For whether it’s you or it’s me,

We can work together if we

Agree to disagree.

I make no apologies for who I am

Or who I have become.

I respect your right to your opinion

For it is yours, and not the force of

Anyone.

Just be respectful of mine as well.

I will treat you with respect, be courteous to you,

Encourage you.

I may not understand where you have been or where

You are coming from.

I do try, and in the trying I do not hate you.

Hate me if you must, hate what I stand for,

Hate whom I trust.

I “Yam what I yam,” as Popeye would say.

Love me, or hate me…whore, Ms Aster, dog, braggart…

I know of no other way

Than to be who I am,

Carefree, FREE, unhindered, totally myself.

There was a time I lived in a shell.

My loyalty is to ME first,

For it is only THEN that I am capable

Of loving anyone else.

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Stephanie

 

 

 

Race Day/A Decade of Running

Ah, race day. The day you have planned for, trained for, and spent a fortune on (maybe-but most likely if it is a Disney race, but this one was cheap). It’s a funny thing. After a decade of running, and I mean serious running, race day is just not that big of a deal for me. I mean sure-there is the excitement to the build up, the sense of accomplishment, the hoopla and foofah that accompanies it, but after ten years, it is well…different.

Let me try to explain. A decade ago, I would have sweat bullets the night before a marathon. I mean, I didn’t actually even RUN a sanctioned marathon until 2011 (four years after I started running)! At that time I showed up two hours before, making sure I had been up for at least two hours prior to that to make sure EVERYTHING was in order! I pre-fueled improperly and didn’t know a fartlek from a hole in the ground! My old Timex watch took a licking and kept on ticking, so I figured I could just run, run, run without regard to fueling or pace, or GOOD shoes! Lots of mistakes made, or as I like to call them, “learning experiences.” Experience is really our only teacher, right?

Fast forward to September 4, 2017. Marathon 12 loomed on the horizon. I really didn’t even approach it as a “race,” but as a training run and an excuse to go see my son who lives in the area. I threw a few things together: GOOD, tried and true shoes (you know, actual running shoes), moisture wicking clothing, body lube, and fuel which consisted of gels, saltstick, and amino acids. I HAD actually learned a few things in 10 years.

Since it was a smallish race with no road closures, I arrived about 30 minutes until the start. This is a rehash of my day.

Park. Plenty of time to wait in line for porta-potty and get that last minute nervous pee pee out. Wait-what? NO PORTA POTTIES?! To clarify, there were porta johns, but they were owned by MU and were locked. “Sorry,” replied said person, “You can walk 1/4 mile to the hotel and use that one.” Well, I wasn’t staying at said hotel, AND who wants to walk one half mile round trip before they run 26.2?! AH, treed area and storage building. Use your imagination.

Air horn, we’re off! Blinking lights galore as it is only 0600 AM and still dark. This was the BEST part of the race as one could not see the hills but just knew we were running up them by “feel.” The fist three miles felt great and flew by. The only hiccup was having to follow Mr. “Clicky-Clacky want to be body builder” in his pseudo running shorts/underwear! I don’t know what he had strapped to his back, but it was clacking the whole way. Speaking of body builders-less is more, but I digress. Speaking of digression…

Mile 3.3. Try as I might, this pre-race fueling thing has me looking for a porta-potty. Since I was using this race as a training run, I wasn’t focused on time. Miles, not minutes. Thankfully, I spotted a porta-john (totally unrelated to the race). It was like a water fountain mirage in the desert. Having taken my liberties & DIGRESSED the bowels, I resumed my run. Joy of joys, Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” was long gone.

Mile 6-ish. I met a guy running his 50th state. We would commence to playing “I lead, no you lead,” until around mile 20. Mile 7-8ish, I lost him on the hill. I kind of like hills. They make runs interesting.

Mile 8-9, we ran a bit of the Katy Trail. I’m not fond of gravel/chat running, especially on a non-closed course. Vehicles drove by leaving dust clouds to inhale. I walked a good portion of this while covering my mouth/nose with a cloth. There was a girl who passed me whom I thought was talking on a bluetooth. Nope-she was talking to herself. Whatever it takes people, whatever it takes.

Mile 12-the infamous “Easley Hill,” one mile of pure uphill torture. It gave me a good chance to stretch the legs as I took long walking strides up to the peak.

Around mile 13-14, I fell in with a couple of guys who were running around a 10 minute pace. I hung with them for awhile and we chatted about where we were all from and races that we had run. I don’t know whether it was the gels I was consuming, the oatmeal for breakfast, or the Gatorade, but SOMETHING gave me a bit of the bubble guts. I farted-twice-TOTALLY uncontrolled, in front of two guys I had never met before and at least would never see again (at least I hoped). Funny how that is so much of a SNAFU in North America. I mean, look-I am a nurse and it is a natural bodily function-but REALLY?! Don’t look at me all smug like you never FART! A decade ago I would have crawled in a hole and never came out!

After pulling ahead of those two (by jet propulsion, lol), I made it to the 18 mile aid station and more hills. There was Mr. “Clicky-Clacky” in his underwear without his clackers. He was walking. Two way traffic (again, NOT a fan of an unclosed course). I stopped to stretch. I heard a guy from a slowing vehicle yell, “Hey, a turtle!” I thought he was referring to me. No, there was an actual box turtle attempting to cross the road. I gave him a hand. A decade ago I would have let the little booger get ran over and smashed because it was all about ME and my TIME!

Mile 20, Mr. 50 state passed me again. I would always gain & pass him on the hills, he would pass me on the flats. I didn’t see him again until the finish.

By mile 22, I was incorporating the run/walk-4 minutes of running to 30 seconds of walking. Mile 23 led down into a trail and eventually back up into MU and the finish. There were a lot of bikers on the trails giving their thumbs up and shouting, “Good job!” I kept singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” in my head. A decade ago I would have been singing, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”

Wonderful volunteers with water, Gatorade, ice, popsicles. They truly were what mad this race. The finish was an uphill, which led to a slight downhill to the finish. I loathe finish line photos. This one I look like a monkey. A decade ago I thought I needed to buy every race photo, good or not.HOA Columbia Marathon Finish

I had a medal thrust around my neck, and an Icy cold towel thrown around my shoulders. I made my way to the exit area and grabbed a few grapes and found a grassy place to lie down and get my legs up to drain the lactic acid. When I got up, there was Mr. 50 state. I had won the battle.

A nice couple in a jeep gave me a ride back to the parking area/start line. I met a guy from Houston who rode with them as well, and we discussed the flood. Nice people runners are. They didn’t even care that I was sweaty, wet, and gross. A decade ago I would have walked…uphill, barefoot, in 10 foot of snow before I set my sweaty body in someone’s vehicle!

I didn’t care about the time. I just cared about getting to the finish without hurting. Though from mile 22 in ANY marathon hurts, after 10 years of running, it hurts less. Walking up/down stairs afterwards is not a big deal. I don’t require a 2 hours nap BEFORE I shower. It’s really all a state of mind. When I was running for time, I hurt way worse. A decade ago a marathon was a pipe dream, let alone running Boston.

I checked results after I had gotten back to my son’s place and found that I was first in my age group. Another perk about a decade of running later in life-age group awards.

HOA Results

What has a decade of running taught me? Running, like life is a journey. There are ups and downs, highs, lows, victory, and disappointment. It’s not so much about the time, but about the journey. Running has taught me a lot about myself-what I can tolerate, what I like about myself, & who I like to be around. Running has brought many wonderful people into my life.Running has taught me to never give up even when circumstances seem impossible (or even if you fart in front of strangers, lol). Life and running can only get better from here. A grandson on the way, only 35 states to go (5 states a year to complete by age 60). Anxious to see where the next decade will take me. Adventure awaits.

Just an oldish chick running & loving life,

Stephanie

 

 

 

What Are You Living For?

When the morning dawn breaks,

What are you thinking?

What are your goals for the day?

Are you building bridges or mending fences?

Or are you leaving them in disarray?

This one day may be all you have.

How do you want to be remembered?

Have you gone after your dreams?

Or are they laying in shambles

The influence on others no more

To be seen.

Search your heart, search your mind.

How are you spending your time?

If today were your last day,

What would you do different?

Would you care?

Would you reach out?

The choice is yours…

And mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Things Just Don’t Make Sense

People can be strange, people can be cruel,

Life is a bit odd at times when you can’t accept all of the rules.

Does anyone think for themselves anymore?

Or are they victims of the times… the news-fake or not,

Why can’t they just choose

To search out the truth,

The things their minds can’t comprehend.

Are they brain washed-are you? Am I?

The easy path sometimes we take,

Robots-afraid to try

To look beyond the “norm.”

We create our perfect storm

Of racism, politics & bias,

The older we get, the more they want to try us.

Everything is political-the almighty dollar reigns supreme.

Human caring is sacrificed on the alter of “me.”

 

Into the Night

Into the Storm,

Going head first.

No turning back,

But fearing the worse.

Always the black sheep,

I never fit in.

Trying to do the right thing,

But I could never win.

Racking my brain,

Where did I go wrong?

Begging for your acceptance,

But you’re so headstrong.

I wish I knew what goes on in your brain,

Not listening to reason,

And feeling no shame,

For the way things have turned out.

All I ever wanted

Was for you to be proud of me.

Somehow I failed you,

No chances left to be.

Despite it all,

I will never stop

Doing the right thing,

Doing what’s right,

Even though we have come

Face to face

With the night. ©

IMG_20160724_123815815

Revival

Once upon a time,

Or so the story goes.

Caught between the girl I used to be

And what I have become.

Longing even,

For those carefree days

Before feigned love

Seared my soul

And sought to control

The Me I always was.

Me-an anomaly.

Deep down I am still there,

Though forces try to keep me subdued.

Cold souls.

Then I notice the Daffodils,

Beautiful, vibrant, persistent

Glimpses of Spring,

Extremely tolerant of cold.

Reminding me that

The me I used to be

Is likewise bursting forth,

Chasing the cold away.

As the sun and hints of summer

Burst forth in my innermost being,

Searing the doubt, the pain, the gloom.

To a “happily ever after”

Where I-“me” can shatter the ice,

Love myself again,

And once again bloom.

sunrise-1107408_960_720

 

Stephanie  ©

Clutter

Clutter: (noun) A collection of things lying about in an untidy mass (google search). We’ve all experienced it, maybe we still are. I know I still am. The more I try to get rid of, it seems to multiply.

Some people collect antiques. I used to be enthralled with antiques. It seems they had a story to tell. I still find it hard to “get rid of ” those things that I know are exceptionally old. I have a little red chair that was my dad’s when he was two years old. My dad was born in 1928, so that makes it 87 years old. I wouldn’t part with it for anything as I also sat in it as a child, as did my kids. I put it on display as part of the memorabilia at his funeral.

Time-we all have the same amount, yet it seems to go by so quickly. What are we doing with the precious time we have?

Recently, there has been some remodeling going on in my house. Talk about clutter! Having to move stuff out of the way just to get started! It’s funny (sad?) to look at some of the things that I purchased & wonder why I thought I needed it then. The perils of youth.

Once upon a time, I thought I had all kinds of time. The truth is, time is so finite. I will be 53 in a little over a month. I remember when my dad turned 50, and he joked how he was “half a century old.” I was 14 at the time. The time we all think we are invincible. His mother, my paternal grandmother, died the following January in 1979. That was the first experience I had with the death of someone close to me. She was our (my brother and myself) primary caregiver when my parents were at work when we we were small children. She was 78.

Aging doesn’t bother me. Not living life to the fullest does. I have found that there is so much “clutter” that can get in the way of truly living. We give up what brings us joy to follow the patterns of the world system. We do stuff because we “have to,” not because we really “want to.” Sure, it is sometimes polite to do those things to bring joy to others. But as I reflect back, sometimes I did things kicking and screaming because it was the expectation. We fall under others’ needs/wants. If it isn’t given freely & joyfully, what is the point?

For instance, we go to or give to an event that we could really care less about because it is the expectation and we are afraid of what others will think if we don’t show up or give. Why do we live our lives like that-a lie?

Clutter-cluttered surroundings, cluttered mind. At least that’s what the experts say. I need to close my eyes and pitch things. It is hard. It is like throwing a piece of my history away. Yet, I look at things now with eternity in mind. Do I really need to spend a lot on stuff that will outlive me? I’d rather spend my hard earned dollars on experiences and on bringing joy to others.

I know there are those who live by the motto, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Tomorrow being any time in the future. Our lives can become so cluttered with others’ opinions, beliefs, facebook  posts, and lifestyles, that we start to lose sight of ourselves and our future.

I am in a process of “uncluttering” of material possessions, relationships, and things that don’t bring me joy. I want to leave a legacy of truth, a mark of being real and transparent. I have had enough of fakery in my lifetime. I have had enough of shallow people and relationships. If someone can’t be real with me, I don’t need them in my life. I don’t want them in my life.

At 52 going on 53, I’ve had enough superfluous relationships to sink a proverbial ship! And if I can’t be true to me, I can’t be true to anyone else either. I have come to the realization that I cannot be held responsible for others’ reactions/opinions to or about me. That is on them. I am responsible for me and me only. There is freedom in de-cluttering. Try it, you may discover a hidden treasure.

Peace,

Stephanie

From the Womb to the Tomb

I have “suffered” from depression most of my adult life. I use that term lightly as it has not been the crippling sort that keeps me from doing what I need to do daily. When my kids were small and I was working full time nights, I was seriously sleep deprived. I wanted to be there for them during “normal” hours, so I sacrificed sleep to try to be there for them & attend their functions. It was difficult at best. I beat myself up- a lot.

There is one particular instance that bereaves my heart. It was “donut day” at the elementary school my youngest son attended. That meant that the parent showed up at a certain time (I think it was 9 o’clock) to have a donut with their child. It was a day that my daughter attended preschool and I stayed up after working all night to take her to preschool. I would “nap” during that time, then go pick her up. I had planned on attending “donut day” but ended up sleeping right through it. My son showed up at the cafeteria and I wasn’t there. I WASN’T THERE. The mom wasn’t there. It still haunts me to this day to see his little face when he came home from school & asked me why I WASN’T THERE.

If it weren’t for being a responsible adult when my kids were still at home, I would have slept all the time. I didn’t, I went about my daily routine and taking care & providing for them the best I knew how. They never went without. I wish I could have given them the moon. I wish I could have attended ALL of their functions. I tried. God, how I tried.

I was always made to look like the bad guy. Me, the one who tried to “fix” everything. My parents pretty much despised one another. At least I know my mother hated my dad. My dad always tried to do the right thing. Maybe that’s where I get it. He had a completely dry sense of humor that I suppose, got him through things. I pretty much inherited that. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but he wasn’t “mean.”

I wanted to “fix” things so badly for my parents. I only saw them kiss once as I was growing up. When I saw the wedding picture of my parents for the first time I  told my grandmother, “That was mom & dad when they liked each other.” I wanted so desperately for them to at least “like each other.” They existed together, for me and my brother I guess.

Fast forward to my own marriage and divorce, three children later. I never wanted to have a “broken” family. Yet, it happened. The “church” world as I knew it then (and attended) placed so much emphasis on the “obedience” thing. Yet, in my situation, the MAN did not care to provide for his family yet told me that I was to “Fucking submit” to him. That was biblical, I’m sure. A woman can only do so much, but when divorce happens, the woman is most often to blame (in the legalistic church world that is).

Life is difficult. From the womb to the tomb, we struggle. We live, we love, we sacrifice, we give it our all. We are misunderstood. I miss the days of my innocent youth. The days when I had LOTS of female friends and life was so carefree and unrestricted.

Depression hurts. I wish I had the knowledge and resources that are available today, back then. Maybe I would have handled things differently. Maybe I would have stood up for myself a little more. Maybe my kids would understand & not think so poorly of me. Maybe they would come around more. Maybe I am delusional to think any of that.

Nevertheless, I am whole, I am free, I am in the last phase of my life. From the womb to the tomb. We live, we love, we learn. We can’t make people love us or want to be with us, even if it is our own flesh.

I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for the GIFT of running. I am thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ who understands how broken & fallible I am. I am thankful for life. Health is everything. Though my mother forsakes me, I am thankful that I am free. I am thankful that though “religion” has disillusioned me, I still know that there is a savior who conquers “religion”and knows my heart. I am thankful that depression is under His feet & will NOT be the victor.

I am thankful for humor. I can only be myself, who God meant for me to be.

It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly & not too seriously, pretty soon you find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a life saver.”- Betty White

 

View From the Rear

Alas, another year has come & gone. It really puts things in perspective on how fast time flies when I find snacks that I swore I bought a couple of weeks ago and they are dated October 4, 2016!  I guess I didn’t want them as bad as I thought I did at the time or they would have all been gone-ah, hindsight!

Hindsight – (noun) Understanding of a situation or event only after it has happened or developed.

How many things can you look back on that happened in 2016 (or prior) and have a little more understanding now? I can think of lots of things. My overactive brain is always in “go” mode & in hindsight I should write them down when they pop in my head, lest I forget (and have) most of them.

I kind of, sort of, (snicker/snort) like to run and enjoy competition with myself. Race wise I ran two marathons, six half marathons, two 10ks, six 5ks, one 4 miler, and  10, 15, & 20 mile technical trail runs. I kind of like bling too (e.g. medals). Total running miles for the year = 1,375. That is probably not a lot of miles for some runners. In hindsight, that it is the equivalent of running from my little town in Missouri to Las Vegas, give or take a couple of miles (1,377.4 miles or a 19 hour drive). That seems like a lot for me, although my total was a bit more in 2014, less in 2015. There is always room for improvement and growth.

I try to change things up so as not to get too bored. One way in which I sought to do this was through technical trail runs. I have ran four total and I love being out in nature among the quiet and serene. I have fallen three out of the four. I’m just a clumsy butt. The last one on 11/12/16, a 25k, was a beautiful course. I had run the 10k of this race in2015 (my first), so I decided it was time to up the ante. I had run a marathon two weeks prior, so I thought 15 miles would be a breeze. Well, it’s trails so…lots of autumn leaves and rocks/roots under those leaves. I fall down go boom boom on my left side at mile 11-hard. I finished strong, but was oh so glad to be done!

In hindsight, I should not have ran that race, or I should have at least taken sufficient time to heal, but I really had no pain when I was running. I went on to run a 1/2 marathon a week later and a 5k four days after that, again with no problems, or so I thought. I tried to run with the group the following Sunday and my left knee started giving me pain. I rested a couple days and took short run/walks the rest of the week. On 12/4/16, I was feeling pretty good, so decided to run four miles. The first mile was great-no pain! Mile two was a little sketchy and in hindsight, I should have quit and called for a ride. I am MUCH to stubborn and gave it all I had to get back to my house. That was truly my last official “run” for the year. My knee was trashed. I managed an 8:38 pace, so there’s that, ha, ha!

Having one last 5k for the year-my 20th “race” for the year, I was determined I was not going to miss it. It would be my husband’s first 5k and I was not going to let him down. I thought I would just run very conservatively, maybe around a 10-11 minute/mile pace. Who the heck was I trying to kid? Well myself of course! In hindsight I was delusional! I tried to jog (in very bad shoes)! This was after I got my “boogie” on at a pre-race costume/dance competition. Approaching the first mile, I was wishing I had just signed up for the one miler! I limped/walked for the next 2.1 miles.

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Photo Credit: Mile 90 Photography

View from the rear: I am not the fastest runner, nor the slowest. I am more of a “mid-packer.” My very first 5k as a runner back in 2007, was a walk/run dare. My time was around 48 minutes. My PR in the 5k is 0:23:11 9/6/15. This jog/limp was around 48 minutes. But oh, the sights I saw! I saw grit and determination from those who are always bringing up the rear. I saw walkers and families with strollers and dogs having a great time run/walking all lit up in costume and lights. People came out of their homes to watch and say, “Merry Christmas.” I was able to thank the volunteers and the police officers. I tortured people with my singing “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer.” I shouted to the runner in the “A Christmas Story” bunny suit, “Speed up you Wascally Wabbit.” My son and daughter in law passed me. They were the cutest. It was a beautiful December night.

In hindsight, I gained a whole new perspective. Way too much emphasis is placed on “speed.” That is fine if one is trying to qualify for an event, but we are all different. At my peak, running too slow is uncomfortable. My best times have come when I wasn’t even trying. The people I saw from the rear had this figured out-have fun, take it all in, and enjoy the journey. Despite the pain, I still got my bling!_20161225_111826

 

Lessons Learned: 

Heed the warnings of your body. What may have been an little issue in the past, could be disaster in the future. I ended up having a lateral meniscus injury that threw me into IT band problems by my leg trying to protect my knee. I am on the mend and have a wonderful chiropractor to thank for that. I should be able to do my first race at the end of the month.

Trail races are great for the non-clumsy, although even the swift and nimble have been known to fall a time or two as well.

After care in running is hugely important, especially as we age. If we want things to function well, we best take care of what we have.

Old dogs have joint issues as well and need lots of hugs and cuddles._20161214_201429

 

Life and running does not always have to be FAST. In hindsight, the caboose who thinks he/she can, eventually will -with determination and effort.

Temporary set backs are just that-temporary (remember the expired snacks)? Although when you’re going through it, it seems like forever which brings me to my next point.

It really is all about perspective and attitude. _20170106_091359

Goals are important but none are as important as your health. My main goal as a runner this year: _20170101_112832

In hindsight, what are your goals for the new year and beyond?

“There’s not a better feeling than when you have found that moment of balance and harmony when both running & life come together. Then you know why you run and that you couldn’t live without it.”-Joan Benoit Samuelson

Have a great January and beyond. Cheers to the New Year!

Stephanie