You Weren’t It…

My journal is like a treasure chest. It contains gold nuggets, as well as jagged rocks that just need to be cut and polished to reveal their value. My journals hold the stories of my life. I open them randomly at times just to see where my eyes land. It’s amazing how a line or two can become like a runway. I can take off in my mind on a paper time machine to another place in history. Some of the places I land are dark and for that moment have the power to make me tremble or take my breath away. Some places I land are glorious! I close my eyes and live in those moments, breathing in and savoring the beauty and sparkle of the many facets that each memory. reflects.

I’m able to look at all of them as treasure these days. They are part of me. They’re experiences that have cut, polished and shaped me. They’ve made me what I am today. I’m far from being a perfect gem, but none the less, I’m valuable and precious. It’s taken me years to be able to even say that, much less put it out here for the world to see. That I can now do that, in itself is pretty amazing.

You see, I’ve learned that while someone else may look at my journal entries and see a mess, I can see purpose in my pain. The mess becomes a message. I’ve come to know that no area of my life has to be seen as wasted time, wasted energy. I’ve come to experience that the God I believe in can take what was meant to harm me and turn it into something good.

With that said, here is another look inside what once was, but is no more. It’s been made new. I’ve been made new. I found what I was looking for and it couldn’t be found in people. What I needed could only be found in one. That’s the audience I play for now. And I’m loved and valued whether I look like the ugly rock or the precious gem.

This one was written two years ago.

I needed to talk. You had an agenda.

I needed someone to listen. You gave me your pitch.

I needed a friend. You wanted a sale.

I needed acceptance. You gave me terms.

I needed approval. You gave me comparison.

I needed to be valued. You named your price.

I needed honesty. You presented a mask.

I needed truth. You were cloaked in deception.

I needed courage. You made me fear.

I needed comfort. You wanted a body.

I needed to be held. You wrapped me in bondage.

I needed love. You wanted sex.

I needed safety. You made threats.

I needed protection. You chained me down.

I needed peace. You put me in prison.

I needed a Savior. You weren’t it.

Restoration in Progress…

I decided to take a risky step in vulnerability today. I’ve been pretty quiet on social media these days. Lots of life has been lived over the past few years since our move to California. I’d be overwhelmed to try to catch you up, so I’ll start right here. 

First, the back story. Many years ago, I started a journey of emotional healing from the trauma of rape as a teen. The poor judgement, bad relationships and abusive marriages that followed gave me a lot of junk to work through. I got pretty serious with my own need for help in 2013. I found a program that was more intense, but also more beneficial than any I had submitted myself to before. I now facilitate abuse support groups through that same organization.

What I would like to start sharing are entries from my original workbook. Each time I walk with a new group through the workbook, I revisit the exercises and find greater levels of insight as repressed memories surface and more layers of deadness are peeled away. I now have two workbooks I’ve used, plus entries written on notebook paper scotchtaped over old entries. I’m not saying I’ve reached the end of the road here, but I know that what’s been done on the inside of me is incredible! I can say with confidence now, I know who I am. My faith is stronger than ever. For the first time in my life I know I have a voice. I feel alive and free! 

I’m sure you’re aware that we live in a very broken world. COVID has created even more hardship for so many who find themselves where I was. Calls to shelters and domestic violence hotlines have sky rocketed. So many feel nothing but despair and hopelessness. I’m exposing parts of my story so that those who feel that way will know, there is help. There is hope. And no, you don’t have to live in a prison of fear, afraid to live your life all the way to the edges. 

So here goes. I’ve chosen this entry first, as it kind of summarizes the whole journey. These are not elegant writing projects. These are raw, unedited and never intended to be made public.

My Ist time through the workbook. Chapter 10, page 231:

My journey in dealing with the brokenness from rape and abuse started in a dark, damp and stinky basement. That first set of stairs leading to the first floor of the house were the most risky. They were rotted and shaky, but they had to be taken to make my way out of that dark hole. There were rooms on each level of the house that needed to be explored. It took courage to open the doors to each room and allow the light to come in and illuminate the objects. Some rooms needed to be totally stripped bare, all contents discarded and swept clean. Other rooms contained valuable treasures that were revealed as cobwebs and dust were removed. Over the many years that this house has been standing, rooms have been explored, cleaned or renovated, the steps leading to the next level have been cautiously and carefully climbed, with each new step – making gains. I feel like we’re in the attic now, where treasures have been best hidden. What was most valuable has been here in safe keeping all along and I’m finding it. There is a window in my attic and I’m opening it. The fresh air is blowing in and I hear the birds singing. I can’t wait to find out what’s beyond the attic. Maybe I’ll find some wings up here. I think I can fly!

(I finished writing that and turned the page and saw a picture of a little bird being held in the palm of a hand. The author penned these words on that page. “Trust Him. Follow Him. And fly…” That was a “God hug” for me.)

January 2015

Still feel as if I’m in the attic and the window is still open, however, dealing with some fresh pain makes me realize — I will always reside in this house. While the future is still in view and I know good things await, signs of spring are in view. I can’t neglect the rooms I’ve moved past. This house isn’t dust proof. Rooms swept clean will become dusty. The cleaning part isn’t just once and done. It’s a continual process. I can’t neglect my house. Restoration is ongoing and there is always room for new and fresh. God built this house for a purpose. I need to let him do what he wants to with it.

Fall 2016

I feel like in MTS, I’ve opened the doors to my house, which really is God’s house, and I’ve let others in to see whatever state it’s been in. I’ve exposed the dirt and the dust, as well as allowed others in on the restoration process, in hopes that they will be encouraged in their own houses, to explore, clean, find hidden treasures and eventually we will all fly! Together. Together is better. That’s God’s purpose.

For more information, visit http://www.mendingthesoul.org

Who Inspires You???

“Technology geek” would never be used in a sentence to describe me. As a matter of fact, most apps on my phone get ignored and I get annoyed by them, but I have to tell you about my new favorite app. My husband recently introduced it to me and I’m loving it. I don’t write this to promote an app. I only mention it, as it’s helping me to write more. A daily question serves as a writing prompt. Today’s question was, “Who inspires you?” My answer is worth sharing.

 

People who inspire me are those who bring change. They make a difference to better the lives and livelihoods of others. I hope to be one to do that. Someday, maybe???

 

I watched the documentary on John Lewis this past weekend. It’s called, “Good Trouble.” If you haven’t seen it, do watch this one!

 

Sadly, he passed away last week. What’s even more sad is that I wasn’t aware of all that he did throughout his life and the enormity of his impact. I’ve been like the millions of Americans who walk around oblivious to so many truly important things. I confess that I’ve been oblivious to huge social issues for most of my life. I get so caught up in my own, self-centered life.

 

Watching the documentary on John Lewis made me want to become a politician that night. I may have even made a formal announcement of my candidacy to my husband. Maybe it was the wine talking at the time, though, because I seriously do not want to be a politician! But, I was inspired that night.

 

John Lewis sought justice and he wasn’t willing to wait for a better day to do it; a day when people might be more receptive to his ideas. He knew the time was then. He wasn’t afraid to suffer for what he believed in. He “walked the talk,” literally, as he joined Dr. King in that historic march across the bridge in Selma, Alabama. That was just the beginning of a whole life time of SO much more.

 

Do Justly, love mercy walk humbly

There’s a Bible verse that speaks of three things that God requires of us. (Micah 6:8) Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. I actually have that as a sticker on the back of my car. John Lewis didn’t just have a sticker. He was a doer of that word. He lived it.

 

I believe that true inspiration isn’t just to be emotionally stirred by something. True inspiration is when I’m stirred and then moved to act.

 

I’m truly sorry for my ignorance, my silence and my lack of action in the arenas of racism and social injustice. I also believe that to truly be sorry, means I change the behavior I’m sorry for.

 

I don’t think I can afford to wait for a better time; a time when I’m not afraid, or I’m stronger or when I have more knowledge. The time is now! I pray that I do better in all of this, way better. I pray we all do better. I pray that I’m emotionally stirred – “truly” inspired, and I act. I pray we all act. Now is the time. Let’s all do better, because taking action together, we can and we will make change a reality.

And to John Lewis, thank you for your service to humanity.

 

I Wish You Could Have Seen…

Heart ButterflyI wish you could have seen what I saw last night. I sat among a group of women that I had been in close communication with for the past six months. When we first met, there were many tears, even deep sobs. Their tears were angry, grief laden, heavy with shame, guilt and loss. Through dark stories with deeply buried secrets, the group expressed gut wrenching pain. There had been thousands upon thousands of wishes, even futile attempts to make it stop, but it didn’t.

Many of these precious women have carried this burden for a lifetime, their bodies baring the physical effects of stresses they never asked for. They had been victims. It was so unfair. And so, they cried if they were still able. There were a few who no longer shed tears, their hearts hardened, numb, dead to what’s been held for so long. They all had carried this hideous monster of burden in the dark recesses of their soul.

Last night the scene was much the same as it had been in the beginning, yet the story Women Unitedwas different. There were still tears, but now they were sweet, filled with almost overwhelming joy. They were no longer ugly tears. They were beautiful. So beautiful… I wish you could have been there.

I wish you could have heard what I heard last night. They’d shared horrendous stories over the past six months. Those captive secrets were no longer buried in the heap of dust and ash of broken lives. From those who once expressed hopelessness, hope rang loud and clear. From those that had come to us in depressed despair, we now heard laughter. Lots of laughter! From those who once approached our group in anxiousness and fear, words of strength and courage flowed freely. From lips previously sealed in silence, we now heard a voice; a fiery voice!

Women Rise UpWe’d all become closely bonded in our pain, but not in a “misery loves company” sort of way. What once made this group feel isolated and alone, now brought us together as a powerful force. These women took that first courageous step to reach out for help. They showed up, cautiously allowing themselves to become open and vulnerable. By digging deep, they had moved to a place of confidence, self-worth, strength and freedom. They learned in the safety of the group to accept that they were never intended to have to do life alone, that they needed help. I had the privilege to walk beside them on a journey to wholeness. It was a crooked path with many obstacles. Fear was present, but they did it afraid. Oh, how I wish you could have heard their stories, human beings had literally been transformed. I wish you could have been there!

Women Circle UpThey say every great story needs a hero and a villain. These women’s stories all had villains, for some there were many. Their stories had heroes, as well, but there was one hero common to every one of these stories. That hero is their Creator, the giver of life. They know him so personally now as their loving and good Father. The Author of Life had penned a twist in their story line. I wish you could have heard their stories, but that’s for them to tell. In time, they will tell it! I hope you’re there to hear it.

DNS and DNF…

I haven’t written an update on my triathlon efforts lately, so I think it’s time for some catching up. In case you aren’t familiar with what DNF and DNS stand for, here’s a little Tri education. A DNF is dreaded. You do not want to have it listed beside your name on a race results list. It means “Did Not Finish.” Almost everyone who races has had one or will have. The tri world is super supportive when someone else gets one, but when it’s labeling your race, whether we admit it or not, it hurts. It’s a disappointment, no matter how supportive others will be about it. I had my first DNF this last May at the Santa Rosa Ironman 70.3. Insert sad face here.

 

A DNS doesn’t make an athlete very happy either. The sting of a DNS may be a little less painful depending on the situation and the perspective of the athlete, but yeah, I would have to say, I still dread those, as well. A DNS means, “Did Not Start.” The athlete never even gets to toe the start line. I had at least a few of those this year. After you put out cash for a race, invest in gear, training and travel… Insert another sad face here.

 

It’s this seemingly, perpetually injured body that’s caused me to have to cross races off my calendar this past year, thus the DNS labels listed by my name on race rosters. Arthritis in the spine, impinging the sciatic nerves and affecting everything else down the chain, is the root issue.  I don’t want to get into all of that, though. I hate to talk about my health issues. It seems I spend enough time talking to doctors, so I’d rather stay positive here.

 

The DNF listed by my name was for the Santa Rosa Ironman 70.3 in May. I invested in the race, the gear, did the training and traveled to get to the start line. It felt really good to finally be back in a race. It was a cold, windy morning, not my ideal race conditions, for sure. I managed to make the swim cut off time, even after having to stop several times because the cold water affected my asthma and I couldn’t breathe. I seriously considered having a boat take me into shore, but with rest stops, I was able to keep going. I was so happy when I got out of that water, though!

 

After the swim, racers had to run up a long and very steep boat ramp to get to the transition area where our bikes were waiting. My body isn’t able to regulate temperature properly, so when I get cold, it’s no joke. it’s difficult to get warm again. I needed to be warm for the bike portion of the race. I needed my body to stop shaking and my fingers to have feeling so I could shift gears and brake, especially on that first curvy, two-mile downhill stretch with a sharp turn at the bottom. After the swim, my fingers were so cold, I couldn’t zip on my dry jersey or stop shaking enough to do much of anything I needed to be doing right then. As a result, my transition time was way too long. The bike course was really hilly with more climbing than I had ever done. Because of my bad knees, I had avoided hills in training, hoping I would still somehow make it in the race. Between the cold, the hills and my stops at every aid station to take off a layer of clothing, I missed the bike cut off time by six minutes. I finished that whole bike course, only to pull up to the dismount line and have the race director meet me, take a picture of my helmet and race number, rip off my timing chip and tell me I was done. DNF! My first DNF! And I hope, my last DNF!

I did have one other DNS, since the Santa Rosa half Iron. That was in July when I was supposed to do my first full Ironman, again in Santa Rosa. And again, due to injury, I didn’t even get to start. I did have one race finish this year and that was the Chula Vista Triathlon in August. I was able to complete my first 100 mile bike ride in September, the Amtrack Century, complete with it’s California hills, including the Tory Pines climb! I thought I was going to die on that, but thankfully, the ice cream they served at the top saved me.

 

I’ve got one more race on the calendar this year, my “A” race, Arizona Ironman. In 25 days, 14 hours and 48 minutes from right now, I’ll be toeing another start line. I’m trying really hard to stay focused and positive. I don’t think that staying positive means that you deny that you have an issue. Being positive is moving in a forward direction regardless of what’s trying to hold you back. It’s being fully aware of the circumstances surrounding your situation, but not allowing the negative to overwhelm you. It’s guarding your heart, mind and thoughts from controlling your situation and bringing you to defeat. It’s knowing who you are and being confident in that. I might feel fear, but it isn’t going to stop me from what it is I need to accomplish. I’ll do it afraid.

 

So, right here I’m not denying these ongoing body issues are fighting me with a vengeance right now. My back and the sciatica have my hip and hamstring all fired up. I’m in treatment, and trying to get injections scheduled as soon as possible, hopefully in time to help. I haven’t been able to walk without limping this past week. There, I’ve said it. I know what my circumstances are and the challenges they present to my ultimate goal. BUT, I’m not going to focus on that. I’m not going to let that stop me at this point. No, I don’t intend to be stupid about it, but at the same time, I know that I have 25 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes to do all I can to get ready for that race. I won’t focus on the fact that I can’t even walk right now. I can still swim and bike, so I’ll just move my focus. When the negative thoughts come, I fight back with the truth of what I can do. Yes, I feel pain, so I’m doing all I can do to help my body recover and get stronger.

Our time is valuable. Our bodies are valuable. Our minds are valuable. It requires a fight to keep discouragement and defeat at bay when circumstances threaten to rob us of whatever it is we chase. Allowing any negative thought to take up that valuable piece of real estate in your mind, hurts you. You give your power to the negative, the dark side, so to speak. When you fight back with the truth, what was negative can actually make you stronger. This applies to many areas in life, not just my race.  I can’t afford to waste my time, my thoughts or my health, by not doing all I can do to fight back, and neither can you.

 

I use this a lot, but I truly believe it. #ificanyoucan People have said that I’ve inspired them. That’s really nice and I appreciate the support and encouragement! At the same time, I feel inspiration is useless if it doesn’t lead to action and change. Maybe triathlon isn’t for you, but better health, more exercise, being more positive, more courageous, fulfilling your purpose, those are things we can move toward, things we need to be able to fight for.

So, for the next 25 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes, you know what I will be doing. Of course, I’ll be praying a lot, too. I know I can’t do anything without divine help. If you want to toss some prayers into the hat for me, I’ll appreciate it much.  I want to hear whole words, not letters, associated with my name. It’s what I hope to be my birthday present for my 60th year of living on this earth, words blasting from the speakers as I run down that finisher’s chute and across that line, “Bobbi Spargo, YOU! ARE! AN! IRONMAN! The fight’s on! #ificanyoucan #IMAZ

#womenfortri #Ironman

#metoo #Ihave

SunriseQuite honestly, it makes me sad that I feel fear in sharing this with the world. I’m not the only one who feels that fear. Thankfully, someone was brave enough to open their mouth and be first, giving all of us a platform to join the ranks that will no longer remain silent about this epidemic of violence and sexual harassment that is plaguing our society.

 

#metoo. I was raped at knife point as a teenager while on my paper route. I didn’t tell anyone out of fear of the threats the perpetrator made. The toxic shame and guilt I carried as a result worked like duct tape, silencing me for years. It wasn’t until a friend asked me to take her teenaged daughter to the police station to file a rape report, that I began to deal with my own rape experience. It was too painful for my friend to go and she didn’t want her daughter to be inhibited from sharing the details with the officer, so I agreed to take her. As we sat with a crisis counselor at the station, the counselor began explaining to the young girl how important it was to talk about it and get help in dealing with the ramifications of it. The counselor went on to say that there were women out there who had been raped as teens who never told anyone. They lived years of their lives suffering with their secret and now they are 40 years old. I was stunned! There I sat, frozen in a police station chair with my secret. I was 40 years old at the time. I decided it was time I got help.

 

#metoo. I’ve lived with abusive husbands. Yes, I meant to make that plural. One was abusive to me and the other, more so to the kids, but either way, it wasn’t right. When a man throws knives at your head and sticks them in a wall behind you to terrorize you, or threatens to drive in front of moving trains, or pushes you outside without clothes, or holds you down on a bed with his hands around your neck, or tries to push you down a flight of stairs while you’re pregnant, or to push you out of a second floor window, or spins your vehicle around on a freeway, or a child feels a need to try to protect you, when you have to sleep with a knife on the bed railing to protect yourself, when you live in fear of the next rage and you walk 24 hours a day in fear, on eggshells, or the one who says they love you so much has affairs with other women… that’s abuse. It’s not right. It has to stop.

Women.shame2

#metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo, #metoo… Those are just a few, for all of the rest. Those are for the men and even women, who abused their power or authority in a position they held or a role they had in my life story. There were the bosses that made inappropriate moves or propositions, the married men who attempted things, thereby offending not just me, but also their own wives. And of course, there are the disrespectful words spoken many times! Based on the responses of this whole #metoo movement, it seems that every woman knows what I’m talking about here.

 

#metoo is a start, but it’s not quite enough, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve gotten counseling and been a part of many support groups for women dealing with these issues. I’m ok. I don’t need any sympathy as a victim. I don’t need my experience to be validated by anyone. I lived it and I’ve recovered from it. I don’t need revenge. I don’t need to face my perpetrators and hear an apology or get some kind of closure. What I need is for it to stop. What is it going to take for it to stop? What if all of those who posted, #metoo, also started naming names. Would that get those who continually victimize women to think before they do it again?

 

#metoo. This is where my list of perpetrators should be inserted. But instead of naming names, I’ll address you here. You know who you are. I can finally say, I forgive you. This didn’t come easy. I paid a high price because of what you did to me. My kids paid a price because of what you did for me. I’ve lost much because of what you did to me. Years of my life were affected because of what you did to me. How can I forgive you? I can because I’ve been forgiven. #Ihave. She who has been forgiven much, can take the risk to love again. #Ihave

Pointing finger.shame

#ihave. I’ve been an abuser. You see, when you don’t use something for it’s intended purpose, it’s abuse. I’ve abused men and women. I’ve done it in the work place. I knew that I could assert power over a man with flirtatious words or actions. I knew that I could intimidate to get what I wanted. I knew that I could use my appearance or my body to get what I wanted and #ihave. It worked for me for a season. Sure, some of it was because I had been broken by past experience, but that’s not an excuse for my inappropriate actions. I take responsibility for my actions. #Ihave and I’m sorry.

 

#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt myself. I forgive myself.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. I’ve hurt you. I hope you can forgive #metoo.

#metoo. I know my own darkness. #ihave. That’s how I can forgive you, too.

 

Hagg Lake Tri – I’m Coming For You…

FullSizeRender (35)When my husband told me to look at several race choices and pick one, as a way to celebrate my birthday weekend, there was one important piece of criteria the race had to have. It had to be an easy, relatively flat, bike course. I also didn’t feel ready for an ocean swim, so, no ocean, therefore, no sharks to worry about, was number two on my list. Weather was a lesser determining factor. Being from Arizona, cooler temperatures sounded a lot more inviting, than heat and humidity. Races in mosquito infested areas didn’t make the cut, either. Other than that, a beautiful course, nice downtown, shopping areas, good food and wine, hiking or other outdoor activities, all of those would be pluses. After looking at several races in many states and checking all of the bike courses, I settled on the Hagg Lake Triathlon. It appeared to have a few rolling hills with minimal elevation, a lake swim, cool temperatures, a beautiful race venue and it was in Oregon, one of our favorite states to visit. Portland has so many fantastic restaurants, and with wine country close by, it would be a perfect way to celebrate a birthday weekend!

We had our bikes shipped ahead of time so they would be ready for us. Race week, the weather was looking pretty rough from an Arizonan’s perspective, low 50’s and a steady rain. That’s winter in AZ. To the locals in Oregon, our gear bag contents probably looked ridiculous. We had enough layers, we might have been warm enough for snow. Race day, actually ended up being pretty near perfect though. It was in the low 60’s with cloudy skies. It looked like it would rain, but never did, and the sun actually peeked out a few times.

All of our pre-race activity went smoothly. We arrived early. Our bikes were there waiting and ready for us. Athlete’s Lounge was the sponsoring bike shop. They did a wonderful job taking care of our bikes.

IMG_6397Next was body marking. For my non-triathlete friends, body marking is when they write your race numbers on your arms and also your age on your leg. Race day was the actual day of my birthday, so for the first time this year, they wrote my true age on my leg. I remember how appalled I was when I did my first triathlon and they wrote my age on my leg! I soon realized it wasn’t so bad though, when during the race you pass people who are younger than you. It’s no big deal anymore. As they say, “Age is just a number, THEY WRITE ON YOUR LEG.”

My husband and I got our gear all set up in transition. We both noticed a lot of really nice bikes and that the field of athletes looked to be pretty experienced. Not that it was intimidating at all…  🙂

The only thing I didn’t get to do, which may have made a big difference in my race, was a FullSizeRender (37)warm up run. I have asthma and being able to run first really helps me with the breathing when I swim. Since we had to be out of the transition area early, that wasn’t going to work. Everyone was already putting on their wetsuits for the swim. We got our wetsuits on and headed down to the lake for the start of the race. We were unaware that we were allowed to do a warm up swim, but we weren’t by the lake early enough for that. At least we got a couple minutes to get in the water, which gave me a chance to be sure my goggles weren’t leaking.

Here’s where the story starts. That swim. I’ll never forget that swim. That swim made me think about not doing triathlon ever again. That swim made me think about never wanting to swim again, period! I had a triangle of three buoys to swim around. I was to do two loops. It started out ok. I choked a little, which I do from time to time. I ran into a couple people. That happens. I swallowed water. That happens, too. But by the time I was around the second buoy, the wind had kicked up the water and there were waves like none I’ve ever had to swim in before. The water was choppy. I’m used to swimming in a lake with high canyon walls, protected from wind, really. There are no boat waves, just kayaks and a few paddleboards. I’m a wuss, is what I’m saying! No matter how I turned my head to breathe, I got a mouthful of water instead of air. I choked several times. I couldn’t breathe. I tried to swim with my head up. I still couldn’t breathe. I stopped to catch my breath. I sat in the water watching  swim capped heads pass by, all seemingly unaffected by the turbulence that was causing me to lose hope that I could finish one loop, let alone, two. I rested a few times, and then tried to propel myself forward. Every time I put my face in the water, within not so many strokes, I was choking and out of breath again. I finally reached the second buoy. A boat was there and the man was yelling for me to turn, which is what I was going to do as soon as I got around the buoy. I wasn’t understanding that the wind had blown the buoy off course and I had swam farther than I needed to and he was trying to tell me I didn’t have to swim around the buoy, but could turn in toward shore sooner. Blame the slowness of understanding on lack of oxygen, maybe… There was another boat guy after the buoy. Winded to the point I felt my wetsuit choking me, I asked if I could hold on for a few minutes. I’m not sure how long I did hold on, but I did a lot of talking. I apologized for having to burp, because burping is what one has to do much of when they drink half a lake. He said he had seen worse. Poor guy. He was a good listener. I talked about quitting, about how I thought I was going to be last and how I had never quit and I didn’t want to quit, but I couldn’t breathe, and I still had another loop to swim. My stomach hurt from swallowing so much water. My wetsuit felt like it was choking me. I wanted that medal! I didn’t want to be last… Finally, he acted like it was time for me to get going. He didn’t try to influence me. He just listened and said he would be there if I needed him. So off I went toward that last buoy. It was so close to shore. I could go in and this whole horrible mess would be over with or I could go back out into the waves one more time…

IMG_0920It’s amazing how much thinking you can do under duress. I have a mug that says, “The Mind is the Athlete.” It’s so true. I had so many reasons not to finish the race. They sounded good to me at the time. Hey, breathing is a big deal! I really wanted that medal, though. When you train hard, you should get something to show for it, right!  How many people wish they had what someone else has, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes to get it? I thought about that in the water. I did NOT want to finish that swim! The only way I was going to get that medal was to stay the course, finish the race and cross that line at the end.

There was another very powerful thought that went through my mind. As I said, it was my birthday. Thanks to Facebook, my friends and family knew we we’re doing the race, so I was getting a lot of support from that. I had briefly scanned some of the posts as we were driving to the event. My mom had posted. In her post she said I was an example of courage and perseverance. Wow, the power of the words we speak! My mom’s words were power that day. No I didn’t feel courage at that moment and finishing that swim was the last thing I wanted to do, but I was going to be what my mom said I was. I rounded the third buoy and I kept swimming. If you think you’re hearing Dory singing, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming…” It’s me! I sing it all the time now.

The rest of the race, I just had to make the best I could of it. By the time I got back to transition, my bike was the last one, meaning I was the last one to get out on the bike course. The thing I feared the most, being last… I thought it would be like it has been in other races, I’d be able to make up time and pass people, but not so. The bike course that I initially chose for it’s easy rolling hills, well, I must have gotten mixed up with all the courses I had looked at. This one did not have easy rolling hills. I train on mostly flat routes because of issues with my knees, so not only was I not prepared for the hills, my knees were very unhappy with me. I also hadn’t had to use the gearing on my tri bike much, since I ride flat routes. That further complicated my race. We had to do two loops around the lake. The first loop, riders that were finishing their second loop passed me, but once I started my second loop, I was on my own on the course. It felt really lonely after a while out there in the woods. Then there was the stupid fall. It was just stupid! Of course, the support motorcycles show up out of nowhere and catch me on the ground. I did one of those things where you jump up, bush off, say I’m ok, and take off, too embarrassed to acknowledge the blood running down your leg. I was so glad when I finished that bike ride and got back to transition again. SO glad!

Many people had finished the whole race and were walking around with their medals on and packing up their gear to go home. Here I was just getting ready to start my run. I couldn’t believe it. I was really going to be LAST! I had never even come close to doing this badly in a race. Even in my first couple triathlons, at my age, I still came out around the middle of the pack for all ages on my time. Now I knew how it felt for those who do come in last, those who still have to push themselves to keep going to get across that finish line, even when they know they’ll be last. It was a horrible feeling! But I wanted that medal. I still had worked hard. I still had done the best I could with the circumstances at the time. I still had to fight to get to the finish. It was very humbling. The whole thing was, but I think I needed humbling, so that’s ok.

As it turned out, I did catch up to one other lady on the run. I wouldn’t have had to be last, if I didn’t want to be, but it sure didn’t seem worth it to pass one person and make her feel the way I knew I would have felt, so I stuck with her. We enjoyed the rest of the race and crossed the finish line together. We’re all better together, right! I do have to say, even though it was my worst race ever, the race director, the volunteers and the spectators that were left, made the finish line awesome. My husband had mentioned to one of the volunteers that it was my birthday. He told the announcer, who had called everyone back to the finish line as I was coming in. Everyone sang happy birthday to me at the finish line. Yes, I was a little embarrassed, but at the same time, it took some of the sting out of being last. And I got my medal! IMG_6415

I learned a lot from this race. I hope it’s the bad race experience that’s behind me and I’ll never live through again, but no guarantees on that. I’m glad it’s over, but at the same time. I’m glad I did it. It didn’t kill me. It did make me stronger. And Hagg Lake, I hope you can hear me. I’m coming back for you!

Thank you to Sherri McMillan and staff of Why Racing Events and all of the wonderful volunteers of the Hagg Lake Tri and Du. This is a beautiful race venue, a challenging course, and a very well run race! Everyone was awesome!

Thank you, to Don and Russell from VeloZoom, who took care of the AZ end of the bike shipping process and then Christine and Gary from Athlete’s Lounge who took care of our bike’s in Oregon!

#whyracing #whyracingevents #hagglaketri

A Few Things I Had to Tell My Kids…

Women.shameI’d been wanting to write a letter to my kids for the last two years or so. I guess the number one subject would be something that most parents deal with. I’m inclined to say every parent, but then I think of some whose kids outwardly appear to have it all together and the parent takes all of the credit. I’ve heard parents brag about how successful their kids were, followed by, “I raised them well,” or “I did everything right.” While those types of comments may make them look good or feel good, for me, they’re like a dagger. They hurt. What I hear is, “Since your kids had some rocky years, you must have screwed up somewhere.” And the pot of failure and guilt gets stirred all over again.

I can’t help but wonder what’s really gone on behind the scenes in those seemingly perfect homes. Had the child rearing years really taken place with an always warm and loving home atmosphere, sounds of love and laughter, sharing and caring, fun and games? Were the years of child rearing really filled with everyone having a good attitude, never any rebellion, anger, yelling or arguing, or no behavior issues? I’m doubtful that any perfect home exists, that any perfect parent or kid exists, but I’m not here today to argue that. My purpose is to be honest, to take responsibility for my actions whether good or bad, and to bring death to my own guilt and shame.

There, I said it and it wasn’t easy, especially in such a public way. Yes, I feel those things. Women.shame2If guilt and shame are present, then I’m also admitting that somewhere along the line, I think I screwed up. Some of you parents can relate. Whenever you spend years in condemnation, living under guilt and shame, no matter how hard you try, you can’t just blow it off. It doesn’t work that way.  So the purpose of my letter was to take some forward steps to address it.

Guilt and shame are cruel to those personally acquainted with them. They latch on to the person who has opened the door and invited them in to be a part of their everyday life. The longer they are allowed to stay, the more they infiltrate your being. At first they don’t seem quite so harmful. Sure they point out every flaw or fault they see, but you see them, as well. As a result, you deserve to be accused. Since you deserve it, you allow guilt and shame to continually bring attention to Pointing finger.shameyour faults. Their pointing fingers become poking fingers, prodding the same spots over and over again. Unless they’re stopped, they’re able to work their way deeper, growing roots that eventually infiltrate every area of your life. Your thoughts are affected. Your perception becomes clouded, even murky. Your reactions become altered. Negativity increases. Unhealthy comparisons of yourself to others become owned. False judgements become facts. Relationships become strained, often damaged. You feel rejected, misunderstood. Gratefulness decreases, bitterness sets in and joy is lost. And it can all start with something as small as one flaw, one failure, or one life altering date in your history, one tragedy, or victimization. Or maybe, it was much more, such as living under years of torture and abuse, something that was out of your control and due to no fault of your own.

Brick Wall.ShameGuilt and shame don’t appear to be all consuming monsters in the beginning. They sneak in, almost unseen. They start small, tiny even. Like a buried seed that grows a root and sprouts through the soil as a blade of grass, so they grow. With gentle, yet consistent pressure, that seemingly fragile blade is able to break through a concrete slab. That same constant pressure enables these harmful guests to infiltrate your life. That same pressure is all that guilt and shame need to hold you captive as their prisoner. They deal harshly with their captives, shouting constant accusations, constantly abusing those they enslave. They are enemies whose accusations cause addicts to stay addicts, alcoholics to stay alcoholics, undealt with pain to become full blown depression.

The only way to stop them is to first, identify them as an unwanted enemy, which isn’t easy. They like to deceive those they’ve lived with so they are allowed to stay. They remain hidden behind all of the wrong perceptions of their host. Exposing them often takes help from a wise counselor. It requires us to dig deep into the dirt, expose the roots and pull them up, not a trace left behind.

While I had exposed my roots to counselors or in support groups, it was time to expose Words of Shamethem to the people that mattered the most to me. You see, guilt and shame don’t go down once and for all when the carrier dies and is buried in the ground. Guilt and shame become hereditary, so to speak. If they have affected years of my own life, they have also effected years of my kids’ lives. I wanted to expose it, hoping to dig it up before it was passed any further in our family line.

You see, the roots of guilt and shame for me stem mostly from victimization at a young, impressionable age. I was a young teenager. I had big dreams. From as young as I can remember, I thought that growing up and being a mommy was the best possible thing I could ever achieve. I loved playing with my dolls, holding them, rocking them and caring for them as I would my own children one day. Being a wife and a mother was my big dream, what I longed for. I wrote my goals down at a young age even. The number one thing at the top of my list was to be the best wife and mother in the whole world. And that was the only thing that was on my list.

I started off pretty well as a kid. My parents loved me, took me to church and disciplined me when I needed it. I think I was a pretty good kid in those early years. There were a few minor events of teasing or being hurt by another kid in some way, pretty typical things for a lot of kids. Those events, even though minor, did cause a seed of shame to sprout in my life. Thus, began the hard work to make myself good enough, to gain approval, to be perfect. I set high standards for myself.

It was during the junior high years that one pivotal event had the most damaging impact on my life. I will just give you the nutshell version here.

A friend had started smoking and she offered me a cigarette to try. I accepted, wanting to please the friend. After school that day, I ducked into a wooded area along my paper route to try out the cigarette. Yes, back in the day we actually went house to house delivering hard copies of the news. I wasn’t aware that someone had been being watching me on my route, nor was I aware that this person had followed me into the woods. While I was smoking, I was approached by a male carrying a knife. With a knife pressed into my side, I became a victim of sexual assault. It wasn’t something that I had heard a lot of talk on at that point in my life. It just wasn’t talked about much and rarely was it reported. I went home crying and muddy, my paper route cards torn. I couldn’t tell my parents what had happened. I wrongly, thought that I was responsible. I was in a place I shouldn’t have been in, doing something I shouldn’t have been doing, therefore, I would be in trouble for the rape. When my mom questioned as to why I was so upset, I made up a story. I kept that event a secret for years, not understanding how to respond properly to what had occurred and not knowing how deeply it would affect me.

The bottom line is guilt and shame became deeply rooted, and yes, what followed for many years was a downward spiral of bad judgment and unhealthy behaviors. Guilt and shame from victimization can cause us to get ourselves into situations where we are repeatedly re-victimized or we live with a victim mentality. Therefore, my kids, too, were indirectly victimized.

My oldest two children had to live in the hell that I took them through. It’s no secret that there were two marriages and divorces, one to an addict and another to an alcoholic, one where I was abused and one where my kids were abused. Those marriages were each followed by the struggling single parent years. My children had to live with a mom who was always at work and when she was around, she was tired, sad, and moody, just totally overwhelmed with life.

Shame corrodesThere are times that I don’t remember. I think they were too painful. But there are enough painful times that come to the forefront of my mind every now and again, which I am truly ashamed of. Of course I’m ashamed of most of it, but I specifically had to apologize to my children for the things that they probably did remember. I said I was sorry, so sorry, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. How do you make amends for this stuff?

Remember? I just wanted to be the best mom and wife in the world and I had failed. It was hard living with such a failure that I felt that I was.

I married for the third time and had my two younger boys. Even though they didn’t remember much, they also lived with results from my life events. And then came the grandchildren. They’ve lived with results from my bad judgements from years ago. If left undealt with and unexposed, so would my great grandchildren to come, as well as the partners and spouses who have or will join us along the way. They would also be affected in some way.

There were years that I was not emotionally available. Instead of dealing with things that I needed help with, I kept myself occupied. Being busy distracted me from the issues I really needed to look at. It kept me from having to recognize problems. Trying to be perfect in outward things, like keeping my house clean, gave me the false sense that I was in control. It was the only thing I felt I could control, when I learned that life doesn’t play fair. Bad things do happen to everyone and there were times we were just trying to survive until we could get through the storms that raged around us. There were times when it seemed the storms would never end.

I had to apologize to my grandkids in my letter, as well. I’m so sorry that I’ve missed so much of their lives. Not that I had control over all the reasons as to why it’s been that way, mostly due to distance. I really wish I would have gotten the pleasure of being more involved. They’re all beautiful and make me very proud.

You know, parents aren’t given any instruction manuals when they take a baby home from the hospital. We don’t have our children for the purpose of seeing how bad we can screw up. We just do the best we know how, and at times, we just don’t know how. What we do isn’t always the best. Looking back over the years now, I’m sure there were things I would have done differently, had I known what I do now. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to change the past. It’s all water under the bridge. What I could do was to confess my failure and say, I’m sorry. I promised to continue what I know to do to the best of my ability, and that’s what I’m doing now.

Shame QuoteIn writing them, I had to expect nothing from them. They could choose to not forgive me or not even acknowledge the letter. This is something I needed to do for myself. And yes, I’m making myself very vulnerable here by posting this. My blog is named what it is for a reason, because that’s how I want to live my life. Being real has to start at home.

Yes, I’m sure there will still be times I fail. You know I’m human, too.  There are a few things that I promised my kids that I would not fail at. I will not fail to pray for each of them by name, every day. I will not fail at believing in them, at loving them and wanting all the best for them. I will never give up hope for wonderful futures for all of them. I’ve entrusted their lives to God and I know that he will be faithful to complete every good work that he started in each of them. He promised that to me.

Counseling, support groups, the letter and this post are all steps I have taken to free freedommyself from the enemies that have caused such destruction. Guilt and shame are no longer welcome here. I choose to live in freedom to be the wife, the mom, the grandma, the great grandma, the mother in law…

Maybe someday, the best in the world…

 

When Fear Runs Deep…

20140515_030355283_iOSI opened my eyes as I had already done many times throughout the night, waiting for the sound of the alarm to signal that it was finally the right time to be awake. It had been one of those nights. You know the kind I’m talking about, when your mind won’t get quiet and sleep evades you. It felt as if I had been semi-conscious for the last several hours. Nervous apprehension had replaced every last bit of excitement I felt the previous evening, as I had prepared for this morning. It was to be a big day for me! Another milestone was to be reached. Another step crossed off the list of steps I needed to take on this road to become a half Ironman finisher. My first 70.3 triathlon at the (young) age of 58 was a big deal, one I really was unsure that this body with all of its aches and pains could actually endure. Today was the day to put on that new wetsuit I had packed and go to the lake for my first open water swim. You should be hearing the theme from the movie, “Jaws”, playing in your mind right now.Jaws

Maybe it seems silly to you that swimming in a lake would be a big deal. I had splashed around in the lake as a kid. I even thought my little doggie paddle for a few yards every so often as I played, was actually considered swimming. As a matter of fact, I really thought I could swim, that is until I took my first real swim lesson two years ago. My coach at the time informed me that my doggie paddle was not “real” swimming. I learned that I actually had to put my face in the water! I found myself embarrassed as I was made to practice bobbing up and down in the water at a public pool, to blow bubbles out of my mouth and nose. I had to do it in front of “real” swimmers even! That was six weeks before my first sprint triathlon. Six weeks was not enough time for me to get this swimming thing. That first race was so hard! I was out of breath after the first 50 yards. I had to stop and rest each time I reached the end of a lane. I won’t say how long it took me to finish that little 400 yard swim, but let me tell you, I was slow!

A hamstring injury the week following that first race, kept me out of the pool for several months. That was followed by several months of swimming using the pull buoy, as I wasn’t able to kick. In spite of the injury and lack of proper training, I felt I needed to do a 2nd sprint the following year in order to keep my standing as a triathlete. I signed up for the same event I had done before. That swim was even worse than my first had been!

I really wanted to do this triathlon thing, so here’s where my current triathlon coach enters the picture. Swimming is her strong area. She’s been working with me just over a year now. Believe me when I tell you, this swimming stuff hasn’t come easily for me. I’ve worked hard and I’ve come a long way, but even recently at a master swim session, my coach was laughing over some weird movement I was doing in the pool. Somehow, she always manages to find something to correct, as a good coach should, I might add.

Fear.1I remember many of my early swim sessions with her. Every time I had to do a workout, I fought anxiety and apprehension. I remember times when I dreaded getting to the end of the lane and I knew she was going to have me do another lap, and then another and another. I was so out of breath at times, I felt lightheaded and even in a state of panic. There were a few times I even wanted to cry. Ok, maybe I did cry, but I sure couldn’t let her see that. I imagine I’ve made her wonder if I would ever make it as a swimmer. Even if that’s not true for her, it definitely is for me.

Confidence about my swimming had evaded me as much as sleep had the Strengthnight before this big day. I had volunteered to drive out to the lake that morning. A couple of my team mates were riding along. One was a seasoned open water swimmer. I didn’t know at the time, but our coach had given him strict orders to stay with us and keep us safe. Poor guy! Who would want that responsibility! The other team mate was a near neighbor, a.k.a., my “tri in the hood friend”. We had begun to do some of our training together. She was new to this open water swimming experience, as well. Even though she had been a swimmer longer, she was as nervous as I was. It’s funny to think back to one of our early swim sessions with our coach. I remember her commenting on how she would never be doing any open water swimming. Never say never, right!

 

It had been years since I had been to this particular lake. While the desert landscape was beautiful, the road is narrow as it winds up and down the sides of the mountains. The anxiety was building in my chest and my shoulders grew tighter with each hairpin turn. Of course, our conversation over how nervous we each felt only amplified the tension. I rounded a bend and had my first view of the water. The lake looked huge and the boats so small from our elevated vantage point. It’s good that I had passengers in the car that day, for had I not, I’m sure I would have turned around and high tailed it home!

When we arrived at the lake, several other tri club members were already putting on wetsuits. Trying to get a wetsuit over aged, loose skin that just moves up with the compression of the suit, well, that’s just an ugly story. Having to do that in front of others is down right, humiliating. I’m glad it took what seemed like forever to get the suits on. Anything to delay us from having to get in that water was okay by me. But alas, the moment arrived and it was time.

My “tri in the hood friend” and I had only planned on splashing around a bit to get used to the wetsuit, maybe swim along the shore a little, but certainly not go in over our heads. We were told we wouldn’t drown in a wetsuit, as it makes you more buoyant, but still, the idea of going deep was frightening.

Motivational-Quotes-40I’ll never forget the first time I put my face in the water. It was so cold, it took my breath away. It took several times of bobbing up and down before I could blow bubbles under the water and take a breath when I came up. We swam along the shore a little and stopped to stand up every 25 yards or so. There was security in knowing we could still touch the bottom. I think I was ready to call it a day after about fifteen minutes, but our seasoned team mate seemed determined to be sure we actually got in a little more of a workout. He was able to get my friend to swim out to a buoy. It wasn’t too far off shore, but it was definitely beyond my comfort zone. She was very pleased with herself over having done it and apparently she wasn’t satisfied with me not having the same experience, so now there was double the pressure for me to swim out to the buoy. Not wanting to jeopardize my “tough, old lady athlete,” status, I resigned myself to oblige their request. It was horrible! I forgot to breathe. I choked. I swam crooked and ran into my friend. Each of those things caused my heightened anxiety level to become a complete state of panic. My chest felt like it was being crushed and I couldn’t breathe. I stopped and begged for someone to unzip my wetsuit. Our seasoned team mate told me to keep it zipped. I had to get used to feeling that, as it happens to even experienced swimmers on occasion. I tread water for a minute and tried to calm myself until I could breathe. So much for the tough, old lady athlete! I did make it to the buoy once that day and as you can see, I lived to tell about it.

We had many lake visits over the summer, but there were very few that I

The mass start under Mill Ave in Tempe, AZ.

The mass start under Mill Ave in Tempe, AZ.

didn’t experience the whole gamut of emotions associated with my fear of the swim. It was particularly unnerving when I found myself panicking in the water just two weeks prior to my half Ironman event. That was an ordinary workout day, which didn’t include the hectic frenzy of bodies thrashing about, which is what takes place in a race scenario. I couldn’t imagine how incredibly terrifying it would be to experience that during the race.

One thing I have learned about fear, not that I would deny that I felt it, but the more you talk about it, the more you give it a voice, the more it grows, the more powerful it becomes. I couldn’t afford to talk about it, so I didn’t. That would only feed it.

Another thing that I had learned about fear, I had heard from a speaker one time. They shared an acronym for fear. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. My fear was ungrounded. Sure, there was evidence. I had panicked in the water, MANY times! And it was terrifying! But it wasn’t real. The facts were, I could swim. I had listened to my coach. I had done my training. I had put in the hours, the distance, the time. And I hadn’t drown, not even “almost”, not even once!

FullSizeRender (18)

Packet pick up day! Some of our tri team mates with our awesome coach on the left. Less than 24 hrs. until the big event!

The week before the 70.3 Ironman event, I was amazed that I felt excited, rather than anxious, as I usually felt before a race. I mean I was really excited! Training for this had involved a lot of sweat and tears. I had gone from seriously doubting my ability to even do this, to knowing I would finish. My emotions were running high all week, so it didn’t take much to cause whatever I felt at any given moment to spill out. My coach said that was normal.  In spite of my carefully laid out plan for the morning of the event, it seemed as if everything was going wrong. I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before. I left the house later than was planned. It was raining. Two freeway ramps that I had planned to take to get to the venue were closed, forcing me to exit in an area I was unfamiliar with. I lost my wrist bracelet which I had to have to get into the transition area. Four different people working the race venue, had me running all over the park area to get help with the bracelet issue. When I finally got to the transition area and saw my coach standing there, I felt as if I would explode. She knew just what I needed. After she hugged me, she got in my face and with a gentle firmness, instructed me on what to do next. She was perfect! That minute or two made all the difference in the world to me. I had just enough time to get my transition area set up, stand in the bathroom line, get my wetsuit on and get in line for the swim start. My coach and team mates were there, along with my husband and one of my sons. My son read me an incredibly, awesome text which he had sent me that morning as encouragement, but I didn’t have my phone, so I hadn’t seen it. That made me teary eyed! Ok, everything made me teary eyed at that point, but his text was really special! I could feel slight undercurrents of frayed nerves, but I chose to block out any negativity and stay focused. My strategy was simple. I had borrowed it from the movie, “Finding Nemo”. Nemo and DoryAnd yes, I’m admitting that I even watched the movie that week before the race for inspiration. I was going to take Dory’s advice and “just keep swimming.”

It was time and our group was called to enter the water. We swam out to the start line and waited for the horn to sound, and we were off! The hectic frenzy of thrashing arms, legs and bodies was just as crazy as it had appeared in the triathlon videos. All of the things I had feared, happened. I choked. I couldn’t breathe. I got kicked, swam into and slapped in the face – HARD. Someone grabbed my leg at one point and it felt like they were trying to pull me under, but I just kept swimming. I stayed calm. I was amazed at how calm I felt. I kept focused on the next buoy, then the next and the next. By the time I rounded that last buoy, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, I wasn’t swimming by my own strength that day. Yes, I had trained for it, but I knew I had supernatural help. As it turned out, I wasn’t even the slowest one in our group, which amazed me even more, because I’m always the slowest one. My son and my husband said they were shocked when they saw me run past them, as they didn’t expect to see me for, at least, another ten minutes.

That’s the biggest part of my race story. The rest was just fun. Because of Ironman Runongoing knee issues, I had to ride easy on the bike, just fast enough to make the cut off time. On the run, I kept stopping to try to get what felt like rocks out of my shoe, but there were no rocks. It turned out to be a bigger issue with my foot. I had a killer headache, I think from lack of salt. I had dropped all of my salt, right up front on the bike course. I ended up walking a lot of the run portion, as a result of all of it, but I knew I would make the cut off time so I wasn’t concerned. It was hard and it was hot, but I had a blast! Crossing that finish line was a high that I’ll never forget! It stuck with me for a long time after the race, too!IronmanAZ70.3

I can’t tell you my story without sharing the most important thing that I’ve learned about fear. That is the fact that I don’t have to have it. I can choose to not fear. Real life experience has a way of teaching us things that become rooted deep into the fiber of our beings. That truth for me is that I have a big, powerful and completely, faithful God who always comes through for me. Even when life throws unfavorable things my way, as it has often, God has always, one way or another, worked things out for my good. Helping me with a little swim was easy! When fear runs deep, my faith is deeper still.

You didn't come this farWhat’s next? I’m not sure. I’m grounded from biking and running right now until my knees and foot recover. Yes, there is the thought that it would be really cool to do a full Ironman one day, but right now, it’s hard to imagine it being a possibility with this body. Of course, I’ll never say never, because we all know what happens when we do that, right!

My Why – This Triathlon Thing…

JQN_0586-(ZF-5809-28111-1-001)I realize that’s it’s been a really long time since my last post. I have lots of reasons, or should I call them excuses, maybe. Busy… yes, just like everyone else, only I’m “retired”. All of those things that I thought I would have time for – well, I’m not quite sure what happened there.  I will say, what I am doing, I do love. No it’s not all fun and games, but I’m very grateful to have the opportunities that I do have. Thank you to my hard working husband for allowing me this freedom earlier in my years than most get to have it!

About this triathlon stuff, it’s not really the fun part of my retirement. While I’m trying to keep the positive thoughts going, I have to admit that it’s not easy for me.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that injury has been a huge part of my journey in this stuff. I’m embarrassed to say that after all of this time, injury is still a part of my journey. I posted a photo journal awhile back if you want to check it out. “Coping with Injury…” I haven’t had a break from physical therapy in over a year and a half now. It’s only been about six weeks since I graduated to bi-weekly rather than weekly visits. Even with insurance though, this stuff gets expensive! Let’s not forget to mention all the appointments with the specialists that keep sending me to physical therapy!

For those who might need the nutshell scoop to catch up, here you go. Just skip this paragraph if you’ve been along for the ride. Since my husband inspired me to start this athlete type activity about four years ago now, I’ve had just about every piece and part of this body from the neck down worked on. The list includes feet, ankles, calves, knees, hips, upper and lower spine, shoulders, arms, hand… The biggies that forced the cycles of extended time off followed by having to start all over again were: a stress fracture in the hip, two major abdominal surgeries, herniated disks with nerve impingement in the upper and lower spine, sciatica, a partial tear of the hamstring from the hip bone and bone contusions from a bike crash. Things that remain on going and cause flare ups along the kinetic chain include arthritis, sciatic nerve pain, bursitis, and tendonitis, as well as nerve pain from multiple cysts in the spine.

So really, who does this? Shouldn’t I be a poster child for something?

And then there is this thing you have to do at the very beginning of a triathlon called swimming. It’s been almost as The sky is not y limit
challenging for me as the injuries, or so it feels like it is anyway. I started taking lessons a year and a half ago and I am just now feeling like I’m starting to get it. Even still though, I feel anxiety every time I get in the pool. In the last couple months I had to start swimming in open water. That’s a whole new challenge I’m having to overcome in.

You might be thinking, “Give it up already, lady!” I admit, I do ask myself why I don’t give up. I ask it pretty often, too. So for both of us today, I’m putting it down in writing, so I can remind myself whenever I need to, why I do this.  Here goes.

  • Exercise is healthy for my body. It’s going to hurt regardless of what I do or don’t do, so why not let it hurt for my good.
  • It makes me stronger. My bumper sticker: “Strong is what’s left when you’ve used up all your weak.”WIN_20150601_130942
  • I’m happier with my appearance. Not too bad for a retired lady. My husband is happy, too!
  • It’s a way I can be good to myself.
  • I get multiple rewards from it, as you can see.
  • I get metals. I think I’ve become a metal junkie.WIN_20150601_132408
  • It gives me a goal to work toward. My first half Ironman, 70.3 miles, is in October this year.
  • It makes me mentally stronger. I have to get past the tough workouts in my mind before I can physically accomplish them. When my body says “no”, my mind says “go”.
  • I found an awesome coach who says she will never give up on me. If you’re looking for a coach, check out this bio!
  • I’ve learned I can do far more than my mind or anyone else thought I could. This is a huge reward for me.
  • I love the freedom I feel when I run and bike.
  • I get to watch the moon set and the sun rise when I’m out on my workouts.Sunrise
  • When I’m doing a workout I can meditate, refocus and regroup from whatever life is throwing my way.
  • I can sing, talk to myself and even throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Of course, I’m more apt to do these things when I’m in a deserted area.
  • It’s great stress relief. Yes, retired people still have stress.
  • I’ve made lots of new friends and they’re awesome!
  • I get lots of support and encouragement from these new friends. We’re all in this together.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • It keep me disciplined.
  • It causes me to eat healthier as I know my body needs fuel to function properly.
  • It causes me to be more sensitive about being sure to get proper sleep each night.
  • I sleep better!
  • I can reward myself with desserts on occasion and the calories don’t stick to my thighs!
  • It makes me feel younger.
  • It’s empowering.
  • My husband is proud of me. He likes the results, too.
  • It enables me to participate in a sport with my husband, giving us more time together.
  • We’ve been able to take several trips together for races. We’ve run in some beautiful places. Kona Tri Start LineSmith Rock Half MarathonMountains 2 BeachBarcelona

I’m sure there are more reasons that aren’t coming to mind right now, but you get the idea. I have many good reasons to keep doing this triathlon thing! So for now, the plan is to continue. I have days when I can’t do what I want or what’s on the schedule, but I do what I can, when I can. I am smarter about my training and recovery. I listen to my body and I do recovery in “beast mode”. I do my physical therapy exercises and stretches. I use my recovery tools – foam roller, rumble roller, PVC pipe and the stick. I ice and heat the different pieces and parts daily, sometimes multiple times. I’ve done injections, dry needling and nerve blocks. I even have a home traction unit and I use it!

My why? Because it’s worth it! I’m worth it!

I’ve been told from time to time, that I’m an inspiration. I’ve been inspired by others at times, but it’s usually an emotional reaction, not inspiration that moves me. I might be mentally stimulated to “feel, but the best kind of inspiration for me is inspiration that moves me to do, to act. My husband inspired me to start running. The joy and enthusiasm he had moved me to action.

Maybe you read my list and saw things that you would like for yourself. How often do we see what someone else has and we want it, but never take the steps necessary to get there. We have reasons, or are they excuses, as to why we can’t do the same. This can apply to many things in our lives.

Running 1There is nothing amazing or inspiring about me. I’m just like you. I have bad days, I have disappointments, issues, and times I don’t want to work out or don’t feel like working out. So how did I get here? One day at a time, one workout at a time. I overcame each negative thought, one at a time. I overcame each injury, each setback, one at a time. Each step in the right direction gets me closer to where I want to be. Progress is often slow, but slow progress is still progress.

What’s your goal? What’s that big thing you want for yourself, that change you need to make? What’s stopping you? If I can do it, you can do it, too. Anybody can do it! So why not take that first step? Take it now before you change your mind!Do it NowJust do it