Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finding Focus

I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the title of this post.  I did, however, spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts for the content.  Can't judge a post by it's title.  Does that work?  Eh, not convinced.  Who knows...this sentence might be removed before I'm ready to publish.
Today is the last day of 2013.  I closed out last night with some drinks, eats and lots of laughs with my early am lady runners.  The power of peer pressure pushed us out the door at 5:15 am and we managed to put another five miles in the bank.  I don't believe any of us really planned to be out in 20 degree weather considering yesterday's temps were higher.  Without a firm agenda for the day, I brewed a cup of coffee (from my high maintenance Keurig - apparently there's a g-spot that requires additional love in her old age.  a story for another day), stretched, showered and crawled back into bed.  I woke up at 9 am.  9 am.  9 am.  Holy crap!  Opening my eyes to see '9 am' on my phone was magical.  Thankfully, the time wasn't met with a morning rush.  No school.  No work.  No problem.  I actually started to get a little anxious knowing that I wanted to get this post out before the 1st.  I think I can handle it.
This past year, I think, was my toughest to date.  So much good coupled with different life challenges.
On the tail end of 2012, I continued to struggle with my abdominal pain and tried so many different diets to help ease my pain.  I spent a few seconds as a vegan.  My ability to creatively navigate the animal protein world and my love for a good burger prohibited me from maintaining a vegan status.  The ridicule from my family/friends and the lack of decrease in pain were also contributing factors in abandoning this lifestyle.  I am absolutely sensitive to animal cruelty, but I just couldn't continue  Two months later, after lots of research, I shifted to a 98% Paleo way of eating and I haven't looked back.
Everything happens for a reason.  Right?  That's what 'they' say.  Sometimes I'll buy into that.  After a lot of consideration, I decided, with the support of my hubbs, that I'd finish my 200 hour Yoga Teacher training by enrolling in a program at a local studio.  This experience so far has been helpful in my spiritual and physical transformation.  I'll close this training on May 4, 2014.
Oh, Lance.  That's really all I have to say.  My post about his Doprah interview clearly illustrated his selfish behavior at the expense for a fantastic organization.  His jack-assedry (read: not a word) started to push me towards abandoning future support of LIVESTRONG, but I've since changed my tune.  I feel sad for him and his kids.
As of this publishing, my most popular post captured the raw emotions after losing a pet.  Tissues required.  Love you, Pez.
Shortly after losing our dog, my husband buried his father.  I didn't write about this personal event, but it hasn't been forgotten.
Runners really rallied around each other and the sport following the Boston Marathon bombings.  This sense of community continued at local races, including the St. Luke's Half Marathon.
About a week after the half, we took the fam and my sister-in-law to Disney where we met up with one of my bestest friends and her husband.  Disney, for those who know, is filled with magic for kids and adults, alike.
Two months later we vacationed in OBX.  I can't believe how big the girls are getting.  They are really starting to develop a 'sisterly' relationship - this also includes fighting over clothes, the pink cup and who goes first.  We celebrated the July 4th holiday all week with sun, sand and lots of crabs.
Busy, busy, busy - not a lot of downtime.  I came back to work as the jetstream brought a violent shit storm which led up to the infamous Quadzilla 15K trail race.  I volunteered last year and knew that 2013 would be my year to run.  I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.  Looking forward to 2014!  I hope more of you will join me.  (ahem, you know who you are)
The challenges kept coming as we approached my birthday and Ava's first day of Kindergarten.  I survived.  We survived.  Ava loves school; we're proud of her development and thrilled with the school.
I continued to break personal records as if they were going out of style.  PR's included the 5K, 10K and half marathon.  I do have a goal to break my new 5K time next March.  Let's see what happens there.
The year closed out with two, as always, busy holidays packed with friends, family, food, booze and an overwhelming sense of giving.  My group running experience blossomed with regular runs with some fantastic women WHO LIKE TO RUN BEFORE THE SUN COMES UP.  I can only see these relationships strengthening in 2014.  I also think that some of them are signing up for their first marathon.
Speaking of marathon, I registered for the NYC Marathon via guaranteed entry.  It only took four years, but I don't care, I'm in now!  I have already started scheming on my training plans for breaking four hours.  I WILL BREAK FOUR HOURS.  I WILL BREAK FOUR HOURS.
Just before Christmas, my girlfriend lost one of her dear friends to cancer.  All I ask of you, my three readers, is to send strength and comfort to the family.  That episode in life showed me the raw emotion of people - emotion both good and bad.
I rounded out the year with a 13.1 mile run in celebration of a friend's birthday.  If you're a regular reader you might see a recurring theme when it comes to running in the Parkway.  I actually dislike that trail.  I'm not sure if it's the rolling hills (I normally love hills) or the trail surface (I normally love trail).  Perhaps it's the necessity to navigate piles of horse shit, fishermen or those weird green balls (read: nature).  Nevertheless, I hate that the Parkway is strategically positioned in the middle of the St. Luke's Half Marathon.  I usually feel like a million bucks before turning into the trail, but those miles do a number on my soul.  The curse may have been broken with the celebration run.  I enjoyed every moment of the Parkway.  I'm not going to analyze what changed, as I've run that route with so many great people.  And that's my story.
To wrap up this already too long, disjointed post, a few notes worth mentioning:
  1. I did see a movie in the theater.  Sure, I've seen Jurassic Park years ago, but not in 3D!  
  2. As planned for 2013, I succeeed in listening to a lot more Foo Fighters.  Word on the street is that they'll release a new album in 2014. I wait for that with anticipation.  
  3. I read at least one book NOT about running - Nano by Robin Cook.
  4. I wasn't able to complete my tee shirt quilt.  I'm just a little overwhelmed with the whole proess.  I honestly tried to squeak this project in last weekend, but that didn't work.  I thought about getting it done today; that was just a silly thought.  Maybe next year.  :P
  5. If my calculations were correct, I published 27 posts in 2012.  This post will be #28 for 2013.  Yay.  Progress.
Happy New Year, friends.  Thank you again for being with me on this blogging journey.  You are my silent audience - laughing, crying and screaming with me.  Cheers for a happy and healthy 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reasons to Celebrate

Today has been amazing, but I need a little break.  I'm relaxing on my chaise to take the pressure off my feet while my fingers chat away with the keyboard of my new MacBook Air (told ya I was a good girl this year).  We're expecting a few friends and their children in two hours.  Right now, I'm enjoying the silence.  Ava is playing quietly in her room, Alli is napping and the husband is on another one of his beer seeking adventures.  Here I am.  What a great day!  A few weeks ago I was invited to celebrate a friend's birthday in true running geek style - run 13.1 miles on her day.  I didn't hestitate to jump on the opportunity to spend a few hours with lovely ladies doing what I enjoy.  Although I had a few jitters that usually precede a race, I didn't stress about the run.  Instead of following my typical pre-race rituals, I threw that out the window.  I felt reckless (read: rebel), but my lack of organization didn't distract me.  

Most of us started together to run the entire route.  We donned matching hats (thanks, Shannon!) and left our cars behind.  As with our regular runs we chatted about anything and everything.  At the end of our first loop, we tackled THE HILL...at the birthday girl's request, of course.  Our feet carried us over the back of the mountain until our heads crested at the top for a brief pause before heading down the front side.  Over the hill.  Check.  

We picked up a few more runners for the second loop barely disrupting our pace.  The additions didn't alter the chemistry of the pack; it just got better.  More chatting followed laughter and some rolling hills before we, again, challenged THE HILL...ahem, at the pressure of the birthday girl.  We happily obliged.  It's clearly my opinion that this climb seemed easier.  I think the adrenaline of knowing that we were almost done helped push me up that hill.  As if I had a ton of rocks strapped on to each ass cheek, I barreled down the other side.  With just a 1/2 mile to go, we created a short loop and headed to the parking lot.  The pack was met by a cheering crowd ready to give us medals for a job well done.  Two pretty girls (birthday girl's kids) hugged their Mom as Dad stood back with a smile.  The pride we felt for her and the outpouring of support we saw lifted our hearts.  What an amazing day!  

This morning, we ran for health and friendship.  Cheers to my new-found am runners.  I never imagined that I'd meet a great group of women WHO ACTUALLY WANT TO RUN AT 5 AM DURING THE WEEK!!!  Thank you for keeping me on 'pace', so to speak, and welcoming me into your circle.  Most of all, thanks to the birthday girl for showing me that age is just a number (I will just have to keep telling myself that).  

We do, however, need to figure out how we can get four + treadmills and a coffee pot in one room when bad weather strikes.  



Monday, December 23, 2013

I Believe…

It’s so easy to complain.  It’s easy to whine.  Sometimes, it’s all too easy to blame someone else, regardless of where the blame really lies – why do we need to find a guilty party?  Getting to the root of this problem doesn’t matter for this post.  In reality, this happens.  We do it.  Some of us go out of our way to pin the issue on someone else.  Whatever.  I’m not squeaky clean in this, either.  I get annoyed that my house is cold; at least I have heat and clothes to stay warm.  I get frustrated with my hubby if his boat shoes are in my way; I should be grateful for finding my soul mate.  I’m dissatisfied with my job; I need to find the joy in my work.  I can get annoyed with the girls’ bickering; I must cherish the time I have with them.  And so the list goes on and on…
Whatever you celebrate, it’s Christmas Time for me.  Whether it’s Kwanza or Hanukkah or even Festivus, the end of the calendar year marks a time of joy.  We all walk a little gentler, talk a little softer and lean in a little closer.  Families set aside their differences (sometimes) to share a meal and conversation.  Friends schedule outings in celebration of days past and a toast to the future.  We, as a society, behave more human.  Those moments progress in slow motion, clicking by, frame by frame as the soundtrack plays in the background.  And, then, just like that – it’s all over, as if it never happened. 
I’m getting old.  Yup, I said it.  I hear the responses already: “Age is just a number”; “you’re only as old as you feel”…please send me your responses and I’ll be sure to add them to my list.  I say this a lot.  The reality is that I AM getting old – that’s kinda the process.  In addition, as I mature as a wife, parent and member of society, my view points change.  My teenage beliefs, over time, have blossomed into a position that I believe better supports my children.  I now see exactly where my parents were coming from.  I guess this is the battle of the ages – never ending and always evolving.  I’m screwed.
Yet again, I digress. 
So, it’s Christmas Time.  My cynical approach to this season starts just before Thanksgiving.  I’m disappointed about the focus on the retail madness, but I don’t partake in those activities.  It’s not my bag.  I take each day as they come, anticipating the asshole driver or the disgruntled shopper.  To my surprise, I don’t recall encountering too much of this crap.  Overall, we get consumed with the hype that we ignore what really matters.  I honestly enjoy shopping for other people.  Sure, I’m known to pick up something for myself along the way, but I love finding the ‘perfect’ gift and anxiously awaiting it’s unveiling.  With each year, Christmas Magic grows in intensity as the girls get older.  The hubbs and I find ways to incorporate Santa and all the magic into the day.  They believe.  It’s precious. 
I believe, too. 
Three recent events rekindled my belief in the Magic of Christmas. 
1.  A local community has rallied around a little girl quickly losing her battle with leukemia.  This beautiful girl, Laney, just celebrated her eighth birthday; her family knows that she will not live to celebrate her ninth.  Laney’s story has touched so many people that thousands flooded her street to sing Christmas carols, an item on her bucket list.  Donations and gifts continue to pour in from friends and strangers alike. 
2.  Sadly, during a domestic dispute a father murdered his wife in front of their three children.  Forever changed, those kids had their innocence stolen.  With nothing but the clothes off their back, they moved in with a foster family (no relatives in the US) to start the healing process.  A co-worker, who’s son is a friend of one boy, started a monetary collection to help supplement an account set up for the children.  In this time of empty wallets, within two days, our department has raised over $2000.  Speechless. 
3. Story #3 will take more space.  This touches me in a way that makes my hands tremble and my heart ache.  This story makes me ask ‘Why?’.  It’s situations like these that highlight my lack of faith.  I don’t understand; I don’t accept; I can’t see the bigger picture. 
This past Saturday, my dear friend lost a close friend.  I didn’t know her well, as our paths crossed, at most, five times.  I did, however, hear a lot about her.  This woman, Molly, was a pillar of strength for two little girls and a gentle man.  The world lost a woman who put up a hell of a fight for almost two years.  After hearing of her initial diagnosis, I broke down in tears.  I put myself in her shoes, her husband’s shoes, her children’s shoes.  She needed to hold her head high for her babies.  She needed to show that there’s no battle too difficult to fight.  I can’t imagine all the feelings and pain that ripped through the family, but I know it wasn’t easy.  They did find some comfort and lived each day to the fullest.  ‘Each day is a blessing’, I heard her husband say a number of times.  It’s an unbelievable comment coming from a person staring in the eyes of adversity. 
Last Friday, she was admitted to the hospital for what would be the last time.  Her body weakened as the days flew off the calendar.  The prognosis didn’t seem great, but I observed something magical.  I went with my girlfriend on Wednesday to see Molly.  Once she was settled in her bed, we walked into her room.  She looked better than I expected, but still not good.  I grabbed her hand; it was warm.  And that’s all.  I just held her hand.  Without words, she showed me that there is no battle too hard to fight.  Later that evening, after dinner, I cried at the table.  I cried for Molly, I cried for her husband, but most of all, I cried for her girls.  Her little princesses will be forever changed by this milestone – an event happening too early in their lives.  I can’t imagine EVER saying good-bye to my babies – watching them walk out the door for the last time.  Molly must have been so scared.  Right?  It hurts me to think about my girls never being able to hug me, snuggle, or hear my voice again.  Would my memory fade?  Could they close their eyes and see my face? 
I do know that Molly must have been one special lady.  I understand she was a bit of a planner and left behind a hell of a legacy.  Her strength is reflected in the support that her husband and kids continue to receive.  A wonderful network of friends, family and even strangers pulled together to offer support.  From homemade meals and Christmas gifts to kind words and play dates  – people shuffled priorities and rearranged schedules.  I still can’t see the bigger picture and I continue to ask ‘Why?’, but my faith in humanity has been restored.  Maybe supporting each other and just being ‘human’ IS the bigger picture. 
Rest in peace, Molly.

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