Most of you (at least my personal friends) know of the personal journey that has been mine and my son’s family for the last three weeks. I can’t tell you just how much it has changed me as a person. I realize that it is most personal for me and that we are no more special than you. I choose to be transparent. I lived too much of my life in pretense. Maybe it’s an age thing, maybe not.
I’ve spoken of my issues with depression and ADD before. It does not define me. I am whole, I am free. We all face battles that are specific to us. We are all pilgrims in this journey called “life.”
I wish I could put into words how much the last 23 days has changed me, but I cannot. I can only relay the revelations that have been shown to me. I will try to outline them here:
When you think that you have no more tears to cry, others cry for you.
When you have no more to say to God, others fill the gap.
When you worry as a parent and grandparent about the financial aspect of the horror story that has befallen your child, others come through.
When you are at your lowest, you will get a text, facebook message, or face to face encouraging word that will illuminate your path and set your heart on fire.
Though I describe myself as a “social introvert” meaning I love to be around people, but I need my alone time to regroup and refocus, I have a better understanding of the phrase “no person is an island.”
We need each other, we do. I am fiercely independent and feel smothered by too much togetherness, but I have come to realize that there needs to be a balance. One has to establish boundaries to let others know when “enough is enough.”
I am not responsible for the way others perceive things. Their perception is their reality. I need to be true to me and let them deal with their issues. They may never deal with their issues and continue to blame me (i.e. my mother). I am okay with that and will not internalize it.
Thanksgiving is upon us. I am SO thankful for my true, genuine friends and their presence in my life. I am thankful also for those who sharpen me and challenge me to “turn the other cheek.” They illuminate my shortcomings.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -Joseph Campbell
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.
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!
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.
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.
Goals are important but none are as important as your health. My main goal as a runner this year:
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!
Well, well. Here we are again. Thanksgiving is over & the holidays are upon us. Yes, I said HOLIDAYS are upon us because there is more than one holiday UPON US! I really don’t care if you say “Happy Holidays” or whatever it is that you celebrate, as long as you have the same respect for me. When it is Christmas, I will say “Merry Christmas,” that is, if I know you. Let’s be real-we do live in a “tossed salad” society where many do not celebrate the Christian holidays. Is not Hanukkah just as important to our Jewish friends? I will not get into a debate with anyone on the politically correct way to address the “holidays.”
So how was your Thanksgiving? It can be a sad time for some this time of year. Some have very little family and there are those who have strained relationships with their family. People find a way to get together if they really want to, whether it is a “holiday” or not. It just so happens that many people jointly have that day off. I can remember a time when hardly anything was open on Thanksgiving day except for maybe a grocery store or two until noon. One better make sure that they had all they needed for the “fixins” or they were out of luck!
Times have really changed. I guess every generation says that because nothing every stays the same. Would you really want it to? What about this? (photo credit-not mine)
I had typing 1,2, & 3 in high school and it is one of the things that has served me well in life. At my best (back then) I could type 90 words a minute, accurately. For some odd reason, they made us take a test on the old peck away typewriter. I flunked that test! The rest of the time we were on big IBM typewriters like the ones in the photo. Now we have “text speak” and voice to text. I would argue that one still needs relatively decent typing skills for any level of higher education. I can’t imagine writing a scholarly paper without it.
I’m on the fence with texting. I think it is a great tool to convey messages when you are short on time or just need a yes/no answer or vague instructions on something. What I LOATHE is when someone wants to have a conversation that way. If that’s the case-JUST MAKE A DAMN PHONE CALL! Texting is just another way of depersonalizing a relationship (my opinion of course). PLUS the message can be so misconstrued.
The wind is howling outside my window as I write this. Such a stark difference from yesterday when it was sunny and low 50s. It was November 26, and I was able to hang clothes outside to dry-you know, on a clothesline like at the top of this blog. It made me laugh and saddened me at the same time when a little neighbor boy asked me what that was as he pointed to it. I use it all the time in warm weather. I guess it is becoming as much of an antique as I am! There is nothing like the fresh smell of clothes that have been line dried.
I long for the simpler things in life. It seems that many things have gotten so complicated. Technology is a great tool when used right. It is also a bane when it screws up. Software updates are often a complete headache. Communication gets all out of whack when that happens. One of the things they stressed when writing research papers in nursing school was to “save and save often.” This was in case of a glitch so one’s hard work would not be lost.
Life is kind of like that. Life gets busy and complicated (many times by our own doing). We lose contact with those whom we are suppose to be close to. The software doesn’t get updated and things get all out of whack. The antiques are replaced and forgotten by the newer versions. Relationships aren’t saved and opportunities for memories are lost forever.
One thing I’ve learned since turning a half century old is that experience is not just the best, but the ONLY teacher in much of life. Those who come after will have to learn that lesson too. I am what I am. Love me or hate me, I am the same with everyone. I will not treat anyone differently if I see them at a regular function or out in public when “important” people are around. I won’t put on a facade to impress people. What you see is what you get. I don’t/won’t apologize for that.
I like to run, and I like to talk about running. I also like to talk about history. If you like to knit, then knit. Whether it’s cooking, bowling, fishing, crafting, biking, mountain climbing, sewing, woodworking, weight lifting, whatever-do it and talk about it! Lord knows we are all SICK to death of politics. Post pictures, brag a little, share your story. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just be sure you are showing the same respect to others. Respect is a lost art. Imagine what the work place would look like if everyone truly respected each other and had good attitudes. Wow-Utopia!
The next few weeks will go quickly and Christmas will be here. It is the holiday that I celebrate. Then there will be the New Year and all the quirky resolutions. So to that end I will say, “Happy Holidays & a Wonderful New Year!” Now go out and make some memories and “save and save often!”
Today is November 15, 2017-eight days until Thanksgiving. Here is an impromptu list of why this is my favorite holiday:
Halloween Is Over. Sure it’s a cute “holiday,” but really isn’t a holiday as no one gets to take off work. No work days are ALWAYS holidays. As a nurse this is even more true. A day off in my world is a license to eat and rest and do whatever the heck I want! Even if that means eating left over Halloween candy.
The Election is Over. You’re probably wondering why this is in the number nine slot.Let’s face it-it was more entertaining than all of the Halloween costumes and fanfare. Some have yet to shed their devil horns though, and there are still clowns out on the streets behaving like pre-schoolers in a Toys R Us when their favorite toy has sold out.
It is Less Humid. For those whom this does not apply, look away. Heat is one thng, humidity is another, especially if you are a runner.
Nature is At It’s Most Beautiful. Let’s face it, Spring is pretty when things start to bloom out, but the weather is fickle and at times drizzly, and dreary and such. The colors of fall-Ah, God’s paintbrush at it’s finest!
People Seem Nicer. To me, Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season. Christmas lights come on, greedy sales start, and people are generally a little nicer contemplating getting their “feast” on. Happy bellies= happy people, or maybe they just pass out from eating too much and have no energy to be mean.
It’s Not About Shopping. Speaking of greedy sales- have you ever heard of a pre-Thanksgiving sale that starts say, in July? No, everything starts the eve of Thanksgiving to get ready for the “gimmies.” You haven’t lived until you see a couple of women fight over a pair of $7.OO jeans. Does that happen with frozen turkeys? I think not! It’s the only major holiday not dependent on huge sales.
The Hungry Are Fed. People are generally more philanthropic. You don’t know what that means? Look it up. Suffice it to say, there are those who genuinely CARE that people get fed-the homeless, the shut-ins. It’s giving based on the basic human need of hunger & need, not the greediness of want.
Togetherness.It’s the only major holiday where people actually get together because they want to. Think about it-you can eat any time, anywhere. Although there are those who just “make an appearance,” and eat and run, people are at least forced to sit and stare at each other over mashed potatoes and gravy for an indeterminate amount of time.
Memories. And my number one reason for preferring Thanksgiving over all others is because of the memories it brings to mind. I remember as a kid going to my grandmother’s house and stuffing myself silly and having “big belly” contests with my brother. Christmas seemed a long way off and everyone seemed to like each other. It became even more meaningful after having kids and starting traditions like baking sugar cookies. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pie & eating leftovers the next day-priceless!
The world is certainly a different place, or so it seems to me. Maybe we would all do better to look at things through the eyes of a child again, and make a wish while snapping a wishbone.
Talk at ya later!
P.S. My legs are hungover from many weeks of racing…in case you wondered.
Well now-it has been well over a month since I last attempted a blog post. Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded with ideas that it is easier to do nothing until something stirring happens. I have plenty of races to blog about, but for sake of time, I will condense those at a later date (and eventually get back to living in the present while reflecting on the past).
Today is Halloween by the date on our Gregorian calendar. I won’t get off on a tangent about the history of the “holiday” as much as I’d like too. I will just say that people sometimes major in the minors about the “to celebrate or not” as it implies to the “pagan” background More importantly, I returned home today from a four day trip to Washington, DC. Annie the orphan pup was glad to be home from the sitter & appropriately did her “Franken Annie” impersonation in her sleep.
Why was I in DC? Glad you asked. Last late winter/early Spring (I can’t remember exactly when, I’ve slept since then), I entered the lottery to run the Marine Corps Marathon & actually got in. My fall marathon was planned. After the horrible experience I had at Grandma’s Marathon in June, I almost regretted having to train for another one occurring just four short months later. Since this was a bucket list marathon, I trudged away with hot, humid, summer runs.
This is not a race recap. You can find plenty of those on other sights. After all, this was the 41st running of MCM. I am not a race director, nor do I aspire to be. MCM was my tenth marathon-not really that many by hardcore marathoner standards. What I do know is this-everyone has an opinion, and everyone is different in their likes/dislikes of particular races from course layout to crowd support, to aid stations, to…you name it. To run out of water at a race is unacceptable (which they did not, but I have been to others that did). I personally think that chocolate milk should be a standard offering post race at EVERY race, but that’s just me. Not being a race director does not numb me to the fact that all races entail a great deal of planning/preparation, especially one of that magnitude.
Some of the complaints I heard online and at the Hotel I was staying at afterwards were as follows: Too hot (as if the weather can be controlled), too many out & backs, too many times around the Pentagon parking lot, course was a bit longer than 26.2, not enough showcasing of DC, expo too far away, no finisher blankets, blah, blah, blah. One person even said that she was going to write to the General. Good luck with that.
My point is this: Is your glass half empty or half full, whether in a marathon or any other aspect of life? Here is the mission statement from marinemarathon.com
“The mission of the Marine Corps Marathon is to promote physical fitness, generate community goodwill and showcase the organizational skills of the US Marine Corps.”
It goes on to tell how the Marines are actively involved in the planning & execution of this and other MCM events. Marines organizing every jot & tittle of a public running event. No prize money for the winner. It is “The Peoples’ Marathon.”
The Bleacher Report said this:
“One of the nation’s largest & most popular marathons…provides an opportunity for members of the Marine Corps to come together and celebrate a special day for the armed forces.”
Did you catch that? “To celebrate a special day for the armed forces.” This was the 41st year. There was at least one older gentleman who had run all 41. A lot of our armed service personnel who are either active duty or retired, run it every year. Many others run it every year. So to be fair, I have no other years to compare it to since this was the first time that I have been privileged to run it. For the complainers in the hotel, it was their first time as well.
My perspective: This was my 2nd trip to DC. The last time I was there was 2009, and things have changed somewhat. I have lots of photos from previous trip of all of the monuments and other touristy stuff, so I didn’t repeat a lot of those photos. The featured image says it all. I will always visit Arlington National Cemetery. So I will start there.
At the start of the race, the headstones are visible to the left. “Thank you fallen service members.” If it weren’t for those somber graves, there would be no freedom to run marathons. Since it was Halloween weekend, many runners wore various costumes. One runner wore a Yeti costume with full head gear the whole time. That had to be miserably hot. Moreover, there were the photos/names of the fallen, the fighting, and the wounded pinned to many shirts. There was a firefighter who ran the entire race in full gear in honor of an armed service person. Many active duty ran in full uniform with packs on their backs. Many carried American flags. “Thank you active duty.” Many wounded veterans ran whether with prosthetic leg or via wheelchair. “Thank you wounded warrior.”
Then came the “blue mile.” From mile 10 to 11, photos of the fallen with family members standing by some, others holding the American flag. Besides the foot falls, there was silence, then faint sobbing. It was hard to breathe right and run that mile. Once again, “Thank you fallen warriors & bless the families that you left behind.”
Starting at the expo to the finish line, there were Marines helping, serving. No greater honor than to have one of them put the medal around my neck. Those who have sacrificed so much to be there for me, a small town Missouri runner. Those in the grave, who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I might be free. What do I have to complain about this race?
The miles really just flew by. Legs were a little weary by mile 22, but Marines were there to encourage. It was a very special day. My time? Meh, it wasn’t about the time. I will always cherish this medal above all others for what it symbolizes. I will always salute the flag of the United States of America whose colors never run, birthed with the blood spilled by many. I will always thank God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son for this great country and for the men & women who serve it’s armed forces.
Thank you United States Marine Corps for a job well done. My cup runneth over. #missionaccomplished
In Your Honor
Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold your dreams, your lives.
On foreign soil, you found yourself planted,
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.
Without your sacrifice their cause would be lost,
But you carried onward, no matter the cost.
Many horrors you have endured and seen.
Many faces have haunted your dreams.
You cheered as your enemies littered the ground.
You cried as your brothers fell all around.
When it was over, you all came back home.
Some were left with memories to face all alone.
Some found themselves in the company of friends,
As their crosses cast shadows across the land.
Those who survived were forever scarred emotionally, physically,
Those who did not, now sleep eternally
‘Neath the ground they had given their lives
To keep free.
With hand upon my heart, I feel the pride & respect;
My reverence is revealed in the tears
That now stream down my upturned face,
As our flag waves above you in her glory & grace.
Freedom was the gift that you unselfishly gave.
Pain & death was the price that you ultimately paid.
Eventually I will get back to “Living in the Present While Reflecting on the Past.” Ideas flow through my brain like marbles down a staircase. Sometimes it’s not pretty. Although, I think marbles are pretty. Most of them anyway.
I’m a feeler. You know the type-we like to FEEL things! I guess I have always learned about my world this way. The squishy feeling of play-doh, the cool grass on bare feet (except when you step in dog poop-yuck-squishes between your toes)! The feeling of the wind on my face, soft puppy fur, a cool shower after a run or working out in the yard.
I have always been a hair twister. Nervous habit maybe. It somehow is comforting. Some people smoke, some people twirl hair. Don’t judge me!!! Whatever it takes to calm the soul. Running calms my soul. Music calms my soul as well. Music is the universal language.
Have you ever been so down on yourself to the point of being disgusted? I have. I think being a mother is the most challenging, frustrating, rewarding thing in life. Yet-when you are a “feeler,” your soul doesn’t let you forget. A mother holds things in her heart forever-the good, the bad, the great, the sad. Things that she wished she could go back and change, yet she knows that life is not that way, and that she did the best that she could with the circumstances at hand at the time.
Mental pain-it is a real thing. It is much worse than physical pain. Physical pain eventually comes to an end-unless it is a chronic physical pain that you just get used to . I think this is why I have such a high pain tolerance. Physical pain is nothing compared to some of the mental anguish that I have been through. I think that is somewhat of a good thing. It helps me get through life-this crazy life. And sometimes I feel like Bat Woman.
Today was a day of firsts for many, in my town at least. It was the first day back to school after summer vacation. What??? Wait a minute. The calendar still says August and the thermometer is registering 90 degrees. In fact, I cut my planned seven mile run down to four today because I didn’t get out until 1:00 p.m. I truly do not understand the concept of starting school this early. What ever happened to starting the day after Labor Day?
Ah, the ponderables of life! I don’t know when the powers that be decided to start school in the middle of August, but for the record, I think it is ridiculous (Disclaimer: this is MY blog, with MY opinions. If you do not like what I say that is fine. Leave a comment and frankly my dear, I do NOT give one good DAMN)!
Okay, now that that is off my chest, let’s move on shall we? After seeing all the facebook posts of others’ back to school photos, I am SO thankful that that period of my life is over. It was fine at the time, because that was the season of life that I was in, but I do not miss it one iota! Thankfully, my kids are all grown and married. I have had an “empty nest” for quite some time. It is the natural flow of things.
I remember my first day of kindergarten. I DID NOT want to be there. I remember screaming and crying when my mom left. It was SO different than what kids experience now. It was in a little building called “Washington School.” Only kindergarten was held there. It was my first real social experience.
I can only recall a few things that happened there, like the boy eating the string when we were playing some game with marshmallows, and of course, the dreaded “nap time” on the mats. I always got in trouble for fidgeting and giggling. Such a concept, kindergarten.
At any rate, summer IS winding down. School starting at crazy times or not, some things never change and are not controlled my mankind. Take for instance this little guy:
I say “guy” because it is the male that makes the loud shrill droning noise. “He” got in my house and was very noisy! He was whisked out and I found him dead the next day out in the yard (it is an educated guess that it was him). That familiar noise of the cicada in this part of the good old U.S.A. is a familiar sound of the end of summer. I always thought they were cute little creatures. Those big old eyes had me at “hello!”
It got me to reflecting on other aspects of summer as a kid. I don’t mind extremely hot weather that much because I didn’t grow up with an air conditioner for a good portion of my childhood. When we did get it, it was a window unit that froze the room it was in, but the bedrooms were still relatively hot. What was central air? Fans were put in the hallway to try to blow the cooler air to the bedrooms. Being overly hot and going indoors was a real treat. I spent most of my time outdoors riding my bike, going on adventures in the woods, going to the pool, playing in the hose, catching snakes and toads, or just hanging out. It was the best of times. Then when the frigid window unit made me too cold, I would go back outside to get warmed up!
Drive In movies were always a fun summer thing to do. My mom would pop big paper grocery sacks full of popcorn, load up the neighborhood kids, and we’d all go to the drive in. My mom made sure we had a fun childhood to the best of her ability, even though she worked full time.
I think about my parents a lot and how they have affected my life. My mother was 20 years old when she married my dad on his 30th birthday. Ironically, I married the first time at 20 and my daughter recently got married at age 20. The apples don’t fall too far from the trees evidently. My mother gave me her wedding dress from 1958 and I have had their cake topper for many years.
I look at these two people and wonder what they saw in each other. I heard so many stories growing up from my paternal grandmother (who was my primary babysitter), but I was a child. I know that my dad was married once before, very briefly. My childhood was pretty turbulent. Though I love these two people very much, their legacy lives on in their children-some good, some bad. It is by trying to make sense of the past that I am trying to make sense of the present.
Come on this journey with me, won’t you? Maybe you can add to the tapestry that weaves itself together in this thing called life. Maybe we aren’t so different. Maybe we can learn from each other. I hope so.
I have 7 weekends of racing starting this weekend. Hope to see you out on the roads or trails!