The Trial-Athlete

th_AthleteEverydayYes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but life certainly hasn’t been without adventure!  For the athlete friends out there, I’ll give a quick injury update.  Since my hamstring tear last October, I’ve slowly been moving back into running, swimming and biking.  Slow progress is still progress, but there have been a couple more setbacks along the way.   It truly has been two steps forward, one step back ever since the long string of injuries started.  So many pieces and parts of this gosh darn kinetic chain have been affected, it’s all starting to become a blur now. I was allowed to start doing some easy walking and biking in December.  I was able to start swimming with a pull buoy and add Santa Barbara Racewalk/run intervals about the middle of January.  I made gradual progress to the point that my coach was able to schedule my workouts in miles of running instead of minutes of running at the beginning of May.  Even though my longest straight run had only been 3 miles at that point, I was able to do The Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, which was May 10th, using run/walk intervals.  Even at turtle speed, it felt awesome!  I have to say, Santa Barbara was the hilliest 13.1 mile course this flatlander has ever done, but it was the most beautiful ever!  Add in perfect weather and the wine at the finish line, do I really need to say more?  No, but I will.  It was awesome! Cabo marinaThe Santa Barbara race was the start of our vacation, a great start!  We flew from there to Cabo San Lucas.  Did I mention the race was the hilliest ever?  The combination of hills from the race, walking the hills of Cabo into town and at least two beach walks in the sand each day, plus a few training runs around the marina…  I suppose I overdid it.  My calves were toast.  So there you have it, one step back. Cabo beach I was just getting back out on the road again last week, more so with cross training still, but my calves were recovering.  Last Tuesday I was enjoying a wonderful ride on my bike.  I’ve been happy that I was finally getting my average speed back up to where it was before the hamstring thing.  I like riding where there isn’t a lot of traffic.  The problem with that though is, there isn’t a lot of traffic.  If you run into an issue, you’re pretty much on your own.  The more desolate roads around the desert aren’t always the quality of the busier roads, either.  I was drinking from my water bottle, hit a bump, and swerved off the road into sand deep enough to bring my tire to an abrupt stop, thus throwing me into the road.  Isn’t is bruised legfunny how even in the middle of nowhere, you still look around to see if anyone saw you fall?  Yes, I did that first, before I got myself off the road.  After a few minutes catching my breath and examining my wounds, I decided I had to be tough and ride home, blood and all.  After all, isn’t that what athletes do, suck it up, ignore the pain and move on?  The problem was, my chain had come off and I wasn’t able to get it back on Josiah Racingwith my injured hand, so I had to humble myself and call my husband to come rescue me.  Thankfully, nothing was broken, no stitches required, just a very bruised, swollen hip, sprained hand and a bruised, road rash covered elbow.  Apparently, there was a benefit from the crash.  According to my son, a racing team cyclist, I now have something called “street cred”.   That’s respect among the cycling community, so I guess that makes up for the pain, right! My Doctor said it could take four weeks for the swelling to go down and the bruising to disappear.  The Physical Therapist said I can swim with the pull buoy still, aqua jog lightly for now, but NO running or even walk/run intervals until the swelling goes down.  And in my mind I’m saying, “But don’t you understand, I’m already signed up for another half in August and September?!?!”  You runners that have dealt with injuries are tracking with me, right?  You’ve been there too! And there you have it, one step back yet again! It appears that I will always have something to deal with, as most of my issues have been stirred up by problems with my spine and impinged sciatic nerves.  The doctor’s encourage me to continue, as it’s important to stay active and healthy and my activity is not going to cause my condition to get worse.  I will have pain regardless, but if I stop moving, I’ll stop moving, period and that isn’t healthy.  I do get injections and see a Physical Therapist weekly, however, as long as I can avoid medication or surgery, I will keep doing what I love. I’ve titled this post, “The Trial-Athlete”, but not because of me and my silly injuries.  I’m thinking way beyond what I’ve dealt with.  I’m not a minimizing my “adventures” here.  I’m just looking at them from a different perspective in this post. My mind is drawn to some unsung heroes in my life.  Let me just tell you a little bit about them.  I won’t name names today, so to those who know me, no reason to be nervous. lonelinessThere is the friend who has spent years, almost a lifetime dealing with her disease.  It’s very difficult to manage, as her body doesn’t want to cooperate as it should.  It’s not only challenging, it’s risky, even life threateningly dangerous at times.  Her husband died several years ago and she remains home alone most days, missing him terribly.  She doesn’t remain home alone by choice.  You see, she’s had a series of falls, eleven of them!  Each has resulted in bad breaks of her arms, legs, hips and pelvis, each requiring surgery and rehab.  It’s now very difficult for her to get around.  Yes, she has times she gets discouraged, very discouraged, yet each time I see her rally her will and her mind to stay positive and move forward, even if it’s through tears that she does it. There is the friend who found herself a single parent with more children than most of us have.   Any of you who have been single tear fallingparents can relate to the difficult challenges that this role presents to an already wounded mom or dad.  That wasn’t her plan when she married him.  Life wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  This wasn’t her dream for herself or her kids.  And if that isn’t enough, imagine if it were you as the parent and one of your children were handicapped and now a teenager that you have to do everything for.  This has been the case for 15 years already and will be the case for a lifetime.  Somehow she does it.  She’s not just trying to survive.  She is putting herself through school at the same time.  She does it well!  Even if it’s through tears. There is the friend whose career dreams were brought abruptly to a halt by a serious accident before she could even finish college.  Severe spinal injuries have caused her a lifetime of pain and suffering as a result.  Years after the first accident, a doctor was finally able to do a surgery that enabled her to walk again.  Her dreams had a chance to be reawakened, as it appeared she had been gifted a moment of hope that life could return to normal again.  Within weeks, those dreams were violently torn from her grasp when she became the victim in another serious accident.  Not only would she not be able to walk normally, she returned to a life of constant pain with many other complications to numerous and graphic to describe here.  While she has every reason to be angry and bitter, she is one of the sweetest, kindest, and most loving people I’ve had the privilege to share life with.  She just wants to love people, even in pain, even through tears. There are others who have had their lives drastically and tragically changed in an instant.  The friend who lost her son…  I just can’t imagine how devastating that would be.  The friends who have lost spouses… parents… other loved ones…  Those are life altering events.  You live with the aftermath for the rest of your breathing days. That’s the type of unsung hero I’m talking about.  Talk about an ability to endure!  When the accidents and surgeries are past, when the diagnosis has been given and the torturous treatments are ongoing, when there is never going to be any relief for the pain, when the funeral is over, the obituary archived and everyone has gone home, these heroes are left to live with their lifelong “new normal”. Runners work hard to train for the Marathon, really hard.  Triathletes work hard to train for the triathlon or the Iron Man, really hard!  They spend agonizing hours alone out there on the road or in the water, keeping those tired, heavy arms and legs moving forward.  Training is often in the dark, before or after work or through inclement weather that we don’t even like to leave home to drive our cars in.  Yes, they certainly have endured when they cross that finish line and they deserve that medal!  They’ve built up an pats run finish lineincredible ability to endure and that strength and endurance carries over into other areas of life.  It leaves them with a sense of achievement.  They’ve accomplished something beyond what they thought months before they would never be able to do.  It’s an incredible feeling!  And yes, you get addicted to it, so most of us do it to ourselves over and over again.  The thing is, we do it by choice.   Our race has a date and a finish line. The unsung heroes I’m talking about never would have chosen the circumstances that brought their pain.  Yet they do it day after day, month after month and year after year and they survive.  There aren’t crowds cheering for them along the course or people handing them water and nourishment every few miles.  Some are lucky enough to have a good network of support around them, but unfortunately, most do not.  Their race involves more than just a few hours of their time.  There is no medal to display in their home.  There is no finish line for them, at least not as long as they are breathing the air of this world. grace quoteTalk about an ability to endure!  These unsung heroes have it!  That’s a special gift.  I call it a gift of grace.  That’s how they survive.  They live day by day, one day at a time.  They live on the grace or the strength they have for that day.  Most days they don’t “feel” strong.  They might not even want to be strong anymore, yet they make it, one more breath, one more step, one more day.  And while it may appear that they do it alone most of the time, the friends I’m talking about, know they aren’t alone.  They know where their help comes from.  Their help comes from the maker of heaven and the creator of this world.  Yes, they have unanswered questions as to why, yet they trust their God for the strength to make it.  They trust in a God that enabled them to overcome and push through tragedy, disease, painful suffering and heartache.  Anger and bitterness have been exchanged for kindness, forgiveness and love.  They are true trial-athletes! Many are inspired by the athletes who train and compete in a race for finish lines and medals.  Look around at the forgotten, shoulder for cryingunsung heroes you share life with.   They are still running their race, often injured and their finish line is still years down the road.  Their legs and arms get tired.  It’s hard and it hurts.  They shed tears out on the course.  Keep cheering for them.  Step up and pass them a cup of cold water or nourishment from time to time, whether it be just a smile, a card, a text or phone call, a hug…  Let them know they are heroes in your eyes and that you’re sticking with them for the long haul!  By doing so, you will have entered yourself in a race.  It’s a race with no finish line and no medal on this earth, but the rewards are far better!  You will become that special gift in their lives and you too, will build an ability to endure.  Just watch out though.  You might become addicted!  I hope so!

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, our leader and instructor. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterwards; and now he sits in the place of honor by the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1 – 2 (TBL)

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Cor. 4:17 (NIV)

Naming Names…

friendsBefore my family and friends panic thinking I’m writing about them, let me just say most of you can calm down.  While I may be writing about you, there is only one person that I’m going to name today.  The person I’m naming is a long time friend, warm, caring, soft spoken, just beautiful inside and out.  If that description doesn’t fit, you can relax, but if it does and your name is Denise; buckle up, put on your listening ears and hear me loud and clear.

I hope all of you have had the privilege of having a “Denise” in your life at some point.  I was a single mom, not many months out of an abusive marriage when I met my Denise.  I had just given birth to my second child and found myself living in yet another new place.  This, not so quaint new community was called Silver Meadows.  I soon learned that it was better known as Silver Ghettos.  It was certainly misnamed.  There were a lot more copper pennies than silver to be found here.  I was surrounded by loud neighbors, criminal activity, police sirens and more abuse happening within the walls of those who lived around me than what I had ever known.

I did discover that my new ghetto had a silver lining though.  Her name was Denise.  I lived in a third floor apartment and she lived friends3on the bottom floor.  We both had little boys the same age.  They quickly became buddies and played together while we had our morning, afternoon and evening coffee or shared a meal.  Thankfully, she loved babies and she would rock my baby girl, giving me a little break from the stress of an often crying, colicky baby.  I didn’t have a car back then, well not one that you could drive.  It did take up a parking space, but that’s about the only thing it could do.  Denise would take me grocery shopping or to doctor appointments for the kids when I needed.  Needless to say, Denise and I spent a lot of time together.

Over time both of our situations changed.  Denise and I both found ourselves moving to new places and into new relationships.   I moved out of state and remarried but that didn’t last long.  After a short blip in the screen of life, I was back in my home state and on my own once again with my two kids.  Denise had married, as well, but she was still there for me.  I worked a lot of hours, but always found myself at her house on my day off.  She had a daughter by now, so both of my kids had a friend at her house.  Denise was my rock.  We would talk about everything.  She kept me sane and grounded with her wise words of advice.  She was the friend who had my back.  I don’t know what I would have done friends5without her.  Her husband was also gracious about me hanging around for a whole day at a time.   He was a stylist, so he cut my hair when I needed and he did my car repairs or showed me how to do my own, which saved me a lot of money.  He taught me how to do tune ups and even how to work on my brakes.  It was empowering for me as a single mom to know that there were things I could do myself.  I needed that.

Denise and I lost contact for many years, but thanks to facebook we’ve been able to reconnect.  A lot of life passed under our feet during that time and many of those years weren’t kind to my friend, yet I’ve seen her be strong and rise above the hard stuff.  She’s still a rock, and I want her to know that.  She is still that light that was shining for me on the dark paths I walked back then and I never want her to forget that.  She still supports me, encourages me and I know she still has my back.

This morning as I was journaling, I was remembering Denise, as well as several other friends like her who have been there for me friends4during tough times.  I’m so grateful for relationships like the one we share.  You know what I mean.  Who is your “Denise”?  It’s fitting during this Thanksgiving season to celebrate those who have stood by us, supported and encouraged us through thick and thin, therefore I proclaim this day to be “Thank your Denise Day”, so get out there and just do it!  Thank you to Denise and all of my other friends who support and encourage me.  You make my world a happier place to be!  ❤

When “Mr. Right”, Screws Up…

rainy dayFor those of you who look for my running posts, this isn’t one of them.  This post is on betrayal.  The only way I could tie running into this one, is if I were writing about my body betraying me.  It does do that!  I take good care of it and yet, it fails me from time to time.  That’s not the direction we’re going now, though.  Today we’re going on a journey into something darker, something that often leaves as much damage as a failed organ.  The resulting damage isn’t readily seen, but the pain can certainly be just as intense.

Who hasn’t experienced betrayal in some form?  We’ve all been lied to and blindsided by those we trust.  We’ve all been stabbed in the back by friends we thought “had our backs”.  We’ve all been more than a little disheartened when darkness that’s been hidden in someone we respected is exposed.  And I would be surprised if there is anyone out there that hasn’t had their trust totally crushed in a relationship with someone who they considered to be their soul mate, their “Mr. or Mrs. Right”.  It happens to people every day.  The person that we think is “the one” for us, the person that was supposed to love us “with all of their heart”, can get totally stupid and screw up.

It was my 25th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago.  If you’ve read any of my past posts, you probably already know that I’ve been married before, twice actually.   I have indeed, experienced betrayal.

It’s hard to forget.  It’s harder still, to forgive.  I can vouch for the fact that, so far, I’ve never forgotten.  Memories fade over time, but each new betrayal triggers all the painful emotion.  It’s surprising how an incident can make memories fresh all over again.

I remember the lies, the cover ups, and the clues that raised my suspicions.  I remember wanting to be in denial, not wanting to allow Things that can not be hiddenmy imagination to even explore the possibilities of what I was sensing.  I remember the moment that the evidence presented itself in a way that I could no longer deny.  The slow realization of what I was sensing was indeed a reality.  My betrayer was caught.  It happened more than once, actually.  More than twice.  It happened often with my first marriage.  Needless to say, that one didn’t last very long.

There was physical abuse within the marriage.  Physical abuse is a betrayal.  The hand that’s supposed to love you, gently caress your skin, instead inflicts bruising and pain.  That hurts emotionally and physically.

And then there was the time I was blindsided, totally and utterly blindsided.  I had no clue.  I wasn’t suspicious.  I had absolutely no reason to even go there in my imagination.  I was adored by him.  I was loved and loved well.  He was my soul mate, my Mr. Right.  How could he do this to me?

In all of these experiences, not one person ever came forward and confessed.  They had to be caught.

It hurts to be betrayed.  It hurts like hell!  Betrayal can turn a normal, calm and self-controlled individual into a crazy person.  Tumultuous, tormenting thoughts consume your mind.  Of course they would.  You’ve just experienced a loss, a huge loss.  It’s not a whole lot different than experiencing a death, only with betrayal, there may be no closure for a long time.

The normally confident person becomes insecure and fearful.  Self-esteem is brought into question.  “What did I do wrong?”  You begin to make unhealthy comparisons.  “How was I not good enough?” “How was the other person better?”  And the anger!  Internal rage!  What’s the quote?  “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s anger!”  Yes, the anger is very real.  You’re angry at everyone.  Angry with the offender, angry with the other party, angry with yourself, and even angry with God.

Sad-love-quotes-Trust-it-takes-yearsI remember a three month period of anger as my second marriage was coming to an end.  I worked retail and had a 30 mile commute home from work each night.  I was the one in that really slow car driving down the freeway late at night, after closing the store.  That was my alone time, away from people, away from my two children.  It was my time to think, my time to vent.  Of course there were tears, lots of tears.  I had conversations with myself.   Sometimes I would literally scream.   It was a safe place in my car on an empty freeway at night, so I could let it all out.  I was so angry.  Of course, I was angry with my betrayer, but more so at myself.  I was angry with myself for letting it all happen again, for allowing myself to be in such a vulnerable place, allowing myself to love and trust again.  I was angry at God for allowing my heart to be broken again.

There was the unfairness of it all.  It was so not fair that this was happening to me again.  Wasn’t it enough before?  Why me?

I hated that it made me feel so exposed, naked.  I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin anymore.  I didn’t want to be touched anymore.  It was like I was married to a stranger.  Who was this man that I had given my life to?

You feel betrayal physically.  It’s like your chest has been ripped open and your heart has been yanked out and crushed by the hand that said it loved you.   You’re left to bleed…  alone, helpless, vulnerable and bleeding to death…  It’s just so wrong.

As I’ve said already, betrayal takes many forms.  While the betrayal in your case may not have involved an actual physical affair, rosesomething far more valuable may have been taken from you.  Your spouse or partner turned the eyes that were supposed to be focused on you, in the direction of another.  The place where thoughts of you were supposed to dwell, allowed another to move in.  That person occupied your space.  The heart that belonged to you was offered to another.  When they held out their hand to the other person, they held out your heart and were allowing it to be crushed.  Those parts of the one you love are much more valuable than sex organs will ever be.

What do you do from here?  How do you process all of this as the person who has been betrayed?  For me, I write.  Writing helps me gather my thoughts, express my feelings, vent my emotion.  It’s much more effective and much safer than a slow, late night car ride.  I used to journal regularly.  I haven’t done that so much over the past several years, but recently started to do that again.  If you’ve never tried it before, give it a shot.  You have nothing to lose, but you have your sanity to gain.  It’s very therapeutic.

What do I write?  Start with a letter to the one who betrayed you.  Even if they never get to read it, you will be able to write what you really want to say.  It may be mixed in with things you don’t really mean, but you will get the benefit of it.  It will give voice to what you need to express and may help you be able to express it in a less crazy way than you would have.

revengeMaybe it would help to write a letter to the “other” woman or man as it may be in your case.  They are also an injured party in the scandalous, mess.  I know the natural inclination is to call names, lots of names and maybe even seek revenge.  If you don’t seek revenge, you can’t tell me that at least thoughts of something bad happening to them haven’t gone through your mind.  Fess up now.  Remember, I’ve been there.

Healing is ultimately what we need.  It’s a process.  It takes time, lots of time.  If you’ve just been betrayed, you aren’t going to like what I suggest as a next step.  It’s not something you will feel like doing at all.  It’s something you may think you will never be able to do.  But it’s the first step toward a healed heart, and I know you want that.  I’m not saying you have to do it right away either, but the sooner you can take this step, the faster you will walk toward wholeness.

Healing starts with a choice.  You have to choose to forgive.  You do it for you.  No, the other person doesn’t deserve it, but you do.  When you don’t forgive, you become a prisoner to your own bitter thoughts and feelings and the one who is truly punished, is you.

When we’ve been hurt, we become inclined to wall out the world to protect our own heart.  We aren’t willing to risk being hurt again.  By doing this, we actually hurt ourselves even more, though.  With a wall around our heart to keep the bad away from us, we also keep the good away.  Our heart never gets what it truly needs, because no one can see it or reach in and touch it.

When you make the conscious choice to forgive, in time, your feelings will catch up.  I promise!  Yes, situations will arise where words are said and opportunities for re-wounding will be present.  You’ll feel like you’re back to square one.  When you reach that spot, remember your choice to forgive and you stick to it or do it again.  Do it over and over again if you have to.  Eventually, you will find yourself in a place where you are surprised to realize, you really do forgive.  You can feel it.  You’re a bigger and better person because of it.

You have to come to a place where you choose to not allow your mind to be consumed with the whole situation.  Stop replaying the scenarios over and over in your mind.  Stop allowing yourself to be tormented with a need to get to the bottom of a story.  You may or may not have all of the details, but does it really matter?  The damage has already been done.  You have to come to a place where you choose to let go.  Finding yourself in a situation involving betrayal is emotionally exhausting.  I’ve come to the place where the internal struggle was so intense, I had no choice but to let go.  My mind and my body couldn’t handle the stress of it anymore.  If I didn’t lay it down, it would do me in.

When it comes to healing, I can’t help but to talk about God’s role in all of this for me.  I told you that I had a time when I was angry with God over what I had experienced.  God wasn’t the one who betrayed me.  He didn’t create us to be robots that he sits up in the sky and controls.  He made us human and gave us the freedom to choose our actions.  It was a human who betrayed you.  We are all human and humans aren’t perfect.  We all make mistakes.  I’ve hurt others and others have hurt me.  Maybe they hurt me more, but that doesn’t matter.  I may not be able to trust humans to the degree that I would like to, but I know I can trust God to take care of me and heal my heart.  He’s come through every time.Don't lose hope

When you let go, you find yourself in a calm place.  When you’ve forgiven and let go, you find yourself in a calm and peaceful place.  When you trust God to heal your heart, you find yourself in a calm, peaceful and loving place.  That’s the place I would hope for you, my friend.  Will you join me here?

“The Hip Bones Connected to the…”

chain link fenceI never wanted to be one to grow older and complain about all my aches and pains, so I swear, I’m not complaining here!  There is a moral to this story, I promise!

You probably have someone in your life that seems to thrive on relating their latest illness to the world.  I remember a neighbor years ago who lived on the other side of a chain link fence from me.  I loved spending time outside, either soaking up the sun or working in my garden.  Because of this one neighbor, I felt I had to operate in stealth mode to enjoy my backyard.  Venturing out the back door involved preplanning.   I avoided times that my neighbor was sure to be outside.  I’d peer out the windows for any sign of movement around her house and if the coast was clear, I would venture out.  I cautiously remained on the alert for any sound from across the fence, watching from the corner of my eye with one foot pointed in the direction of my door.  I was ready to make a mad dash for the house if needed.  If my neighbor managed to catch me off guard, I’d be stuck listening to all her health issues until I could think of an excuse to break away.  It was the same dreary conversation, over and over again.  You know what I’m talking about, right!

I’m not going to be that neighbor!  This blog is about being real, right where I’m at today.  So for those who care and have read any of my previous posts on this aging body, here goes.

First, I’ll give a little update on the abdominal issues.  If you need to know the back story on this one, you can catch up here with: “I’m Not Average”Apparently, I’m not average at all.  I’m an overachiever!  In this case, it’s not a good thing.

I got to spend a day in the ER last week because of my midsection.   The issue is that I build up large amounts of scar tissue from to many surgeries and being septic twice now.  The scar tissue causes obstructions.   The doctor said that the average person with my scar tissue issues, has to have surgery every two years.  I’m two months away from the one year mark of the last surgery and I’ve experienced symptoms of a partial obstruction twice now since the beginning of this year.  In previous events related to this, that’s been the pattern prior to the hospitalizations.  I’m updating you on this one, not because I’m looking for sympathy.  But, if you’re the praying type, maybe you could swing some prayers this way.  Another surgery would not be a good thing for me!  As a matter of fact, one doctor said it would be a mess.  OK, enough on that!

Here is what I want to focus on today.  It’s my “pain in the neck”!  It was in December when I found out what the problem was.  I have three bulging disks in my neck and two more disks with bone protruding into the nerve.   Thankfully, there is not so much pain in the neck anymore.  Most of the pain runs down my arm and my hand feels like it’s been asleep much of the time.

I’ve been in physical therapy now for a couple months and I put myself in traction at home every day.  Things are improving!  Initially, I had to give up running, but I’m happy to say that I’ve slowly been able to work my way into “minutes” of running on my schedule.  I finally have a couple days this week where my coach was able to assign “miles”, instead of “minutes”!  If you’re a runner, you can understand how this makes me want to do a happy dance!

Being in physical therapy for different parts of my body since I took up this running hobby has increased my awareness of how kinetic changeamazing our bodies were created to be.  You might remember the song we sang as kids, “The hip bones, connected to the leg bone.  The leg bones connected to the knee bone.  The knee bones connected to the …” and on it goes.  It’s all part of the Kinetic Chain.  Each joint is connected by bone, muscle and tissue to the next joint and the next and the next.  When the movement of one part of our body is hindered or a part is injured it affects the other parts in the chain.  You might not even have symptoms of a problem right away.  Injuries can build up over time and all of a sudden, your body is screaming at you.  The pain you feel might not even be where the root of your problem is.  The problem can originate somewhere up or down the chain.

I love the analogy of the different parts of the body being like us, who we were created to be with the gifts and talents we each possess.  One person may be like the mouth.  They are just naturally a very vocal person with a gift of eloquent speech.  They are able to be a voice on behalf of those who have no voice.

shoulder for cryingOne person may be like a shoulder.  They are built to be strong.  They’re the burden bearer or a shoulder to cry on.  They’re not only able to carry their own heavy loads, but also the loads of others.

Even the unseen, seemingly insignificant parts of our bodies; all have a specific function that is necessary to our existence.   Each part is connected in the Kinetic Chain.   If one part is hurt and neglected, the other parts of the body will be affected.  What good is a mouth if it’s wired shut?  A mouth without the tongue to taste, teeth to chew and a throat to swallow is useless.   A mouth without a head and a face to hold it in place would just look weird.  It needs the other parts to fulfill the purpose it was created for.

This is really what’s on my mind today.  Sorry it took me so long to get here.  It boils down to the simple fact that we need each other!  Why do we isolate ourselves from others?  How can we be so proud and arrogant to judge another person to be of lesser value than ourselves?  Why is it that so many try to operate on their own, without the help of others?  Remember Herby, the dentist from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, as he declared, “I’m independent”?  Even Herby found out he needed others, but almost at the cost of his life.

I’m guilty of all of the above at one point or another, so I’m not just talking to you.  That neighbor across the fence needed me.  I listened and tried to be kind, but I really didn’t care that much.  I avoided her in every way I could.  I really couldn’t help her with her medical needs, but I could have offered encouraging words or maybe a smile to brighten her day.  Maybe even I could have enjoyed the outside I loved, by helping in her yard.

It’s true, when one part hurts, the others will hurt.  Turning a blind eye to the needs of others will eventually affect you.  Devaluing those who work under you in the workplace will eventually affect you.  Neglecting the people that are a pain in the neck, butt or whatever, will eventually affect you.

No, we can’t be all things to all people.  We weren’t meant to be.  But we can be the best at being who we were created to be and using the gifts and talents we were given for the betterment of humanity.  When we refuse to function and fulfill our purpose, when we become intolerant, unfairly judge, criticize or belittle another human, we hurt a part of ourselves that is valuable and necessary to our existence.

So here’s the moral of our little story today.  We, as a member of the human race need to start focusing on our overall health and well being.  We need to start thinking long term, for the sake of our existence.  Let’s begin to take better care of ourselves, which means taking care of each other.  I need you and whether you like it or not, you need me. You’ve heard it said, “It takes a village…”  All of humanity is a part of our village, our Kinetic Chain.   So let’s, “Be the change you want to see in the world”.   Just do it!

change

My Grown Up Christmas Gift

HopeIt’s with utmost respect and honor that I bring you today’s blog post.  I want to share one of the most valuable and precious Christmas gifts I have ever received.   It’s a poem written by one of my own.  My son gave me permission to share this with you today.  It wasn’t his intention to share this normally, very private, thing with the world, but it’s such a beautiful thing that, how can the world not get to experience it.  The back story to this, are years of addiction, many rehab programs, and several seasons of recovery followed by relapse.  Not that the journey is over, but this time feels different.  There is new life and hope that hasn’t been felt before.  I’m proud of my son and the positive steps that he is taking toward his new and wonderful future.  Together, we share this private moment in time today, not to exploit a man’s suffering, but to bring hope to other moms, dads, brothers, sisters and family members of addicts.  My son’s heart is much the same as mine, to help and love others.  Here is our gift to you.  May this season of hope live on in the New Year.  Merry Christmas!

 

For the Family

How can I even begin to express

About this time last year I was undoubtedly distraught, surely lost,

Senseless direction, heading nowhere, the trail had long since gone cold

Solid ground so ever elusive

The fear of death was becoming reality

I had abandoned all hope and lying to myself and everyone else in the process

Sick of pain and sobbing in a drunken stupor, I knew I couldn’t deny the truth

I was robbing myself of a life rich with meaning and warm hearted affairs

So I did what all good gangsters do and I called my parents, E.T. phone home

An answer, always an answer, as close as man can come, to divine love

They listened, always listened; I knew I had to get back to the desert

The place I once believed to be my problem, these people, these mountains, these

plastic possessions

Technology, pornography, dystrophy, all around me

But what I’m getting at ain’t so easily said, but seen out of your own two see’ers  instead

I got lost

The stupid story of the prodigal son haunts me like a rake does a garden gnome

And every time I was welcomed back, grace with a warm blanket of unconditional love

I am warm in my family’s arms

Fingers not so stiff and bleeding

I am charged with intense emotional uplift in the arms of my blood

Not so lethargic and glum, the fog lifts a little and I can finally breathe some

I am delighted to be born into such a solid rock of a household

Homesick and uprooted I am shaky and alone

I am blessed with a family who could never see me how I see myself

Distasteful, wasteful, hell in a bucket

The true meaning of the holidays is this

Family

I hope I’ve expressed in some way what I’m so desperately trying to say

I have the best family

From it stem the strongest roots

And I am so grateful and so floored to have made it back

If I’d had the choice to choose, I would have sold myself short

I am a man among angels

You see right through me

Thank you

 

Do You Hear Their Tears…

Yesterday I attended the funeral of a young man who died when he should have been entering the best years of his life.  I wept with the family and friends as they shared his stories, some humorous, others sad.  It was very evident that John was loved and even in his short life he had a positive influence on many in attendance.

At the same time, there was an unsettling undercurrent of thought for me.  At the funeral, you “saw” the tears.  A brave few expressed the depths of the emotion they felt, not just the sadness but the anger and intense pain.  Questions of, “Why did he have to leave us?”,  “Why such a tragic end?”,  “Why didn’t I do more to help?”, all remained unanswered.

The fact is there are many around us each day who are dealing with intense pain.  They desperately need a kind word, a comforting thought, a warm hug, but there smile hides what’s inside.  They move among us and walk beside us.  For them today, I share…

Do You Hear Their Tears?

Do you hear the tears that trickle slowly down her cheek,

Do you hear the heart explosions of overwhelming grief?

Can you feel the intense hatred of those oppressed by war,

Can you feel the cold indifference of the one whose been beaten to the core?

Do you see the shivers of the forsaken, homeless, left out in the cold,

Do you see the pain of hungry millions, both the young and very old?

Have you touched the forgotten prisoner who’ll live forever with his past,

Have you touched the lonely widow, wishing each day were her last.

Do you hear the tears of the addict who cries desperately to be free,

Do you hear the darkness of the hopeless who search for light so they may see?

Have you known mental illness or do you understand it’s pain,

Have you known depths of depression, the fight to just stay sane?

So many helpless hurting people surround us everyday.

Do we really see their faces or do we hurry on our way?

Do we look to see a smile or pain within their eyes,

Do we care if their sun is shining or clouded with gray skies?

Would it really even matter if those next to us are crushed,

If we cared to see or feel their pain, would it slow us in our rush?

Would we stop for just a moment to give something of ourselves,

More than just our dollars, but what’s drawn deep from inner wells?

Inner wells of strength and courage, hope and comfort, even love

Yes, we all have something we can share, not forgetting God above.

Do you hear the tears of his heart, as He longs for us to be…

Salt and light, help and hope, love and peace,  people living free?

Do you hear the tears?

Those who have felt, have heard the tears.

Written by Bobbi Spargo

Tequila Makes You Crawl – A Fairytale About Falling Down

Once upon a time in a land far away, a young handsome prince set out on a journey.  The royal prince dreamed of a getaway by the sea, one of complete relaxation in a beautiful destination, also very far away.  Leaving behind a multitude of cares, the prince traveled for many days before he arrived at the castle that would be his brief place of solitude and escape.

After such a long journey, his tummy was craving a savory morsel of the sweet food and refreshing drink that this enchanted land was known for.  The first stop after approving the accommodations for his stay was the castle lounge.  Number one on the list of “must haves,” was the sweet nectar of the agave plant mixed with lime and a hint of salt, on the rocks, of course.  Second on the list for the prince was an appetizing treat consisting of the hot, spicy peppers, red, succulent tomatoes and zesty avocados, served with warm, crispy chips.  The anticipation had been building from the moment his journey had started many days before.  His mouth watered as he waited to be served.  He was settling in for seven days of bliss, observing the splendor of his surroundings and grateful for the opportunity to be in such a magnificent place.  In not such a great haste, after all, that’s the way of this land, his desires were met and tummy indulged. “Awe…”  love the feel the Agave gives…  His holiday had officially begun!

Each day, the prince experienced the luxurious surroundings of his oasis where the desert meets the sea.  Lazy days were spent by the many beautiful pools, listening to the soothing sounds of nearby waterfalls and thundering waves. Early morning and evening walks were had along the oceans soft, sandy beaches.  The prince gazed at beautiful sunrises and sunsets.   The warm ocean breezes gently caressed his body as the cool ocean spray misted his cheeks.  Life was good for the prince.., but he wanted more of all that is good.  More of that sweet Agave nectar called to him and seemed to seal each day with a kiss.

One wonderful morning in particular, the prince learned there was a holiday celebration in the land.  He too, desired to celebrate with the people of the land, and, of course, in the same fashion as the people in the land.  When it was understood that the celebrating would include more of the sweet agave nectar and more of the spicy succulent fruits of the land, he was ecstatic!

There was a very famous place in land, well known for its production of a great variety of exotic drinks that featured the sweet agave nectar.  The prince made haste to visit this place as early in the day as was reasonable, without appearing over zealous.  The prince was very pleased with his experience.  He was so pleased that not long after he had departed, he heard himself saying, “I want to go back!” and that is just what he did.  Truth be told, he went back not just once or twice, but three times that day he indulged his passion.

The sweet agave nectar was now pulsating through his veins and overtaking his senses.  He was feeling the sense of freedom that the agave brings.  He was laughing lavishly as he strolled along the narrow streets and stumbled over the crooked sidewalks of the city. He was not considering that he may have become impaired. He was being overtaken by his passions; he allowed himself to be drawn to the dark side of his soul.

The prince found himself in a place that he really did not want to be, face down in the mire of a dark street.  His fine garments were now soiled.  The jewels that once glistened in the sun were now covered in soot.  Is this the place where royalty and beauty lies?  Is this the place you would expect to find a prince?

The Prince’s story is not what is so important here.  Important are the questions that arise from this story, the reasoning that takes place in your own mind.  What do you do when you find yourself in this place?  Do you stay with your face buried in the mire? Do end your journey by choosing to stay on the ground?  Maybe you should stay there for a little while, agonizing in your defeat and disappointment of yourself.  Maybe you deserve to stay there.  You don’t deserve to get up and walk on.   You deserve punishment of some kind.   Shouldn’t there be a period of mourning before you allow yourself to get up and go put on clean royal clothing, some kind of penance paid?

Isn’t that how we are in this life, in our culture, maybe?  When we, ourselves or someone we know screws up, should they be allowed to just go on with their life?  Don’t we expect something from those who for cause us disappointment?  We look for signs of remorse and certain attitudes or actions to see if they are truly deserving of our approval, before they can go on with life?

Consider the fallen politician or minister.  What about the alcoholic or addict who relapses for yet another time?  Of course, we can’t forget the sports figure who allows his inappropriate passions to rule over good judgment, or even the co-worker who fails to produce what is expected.  What about the spouse who never gets anything right or has just become boring and not enough anymore?  What about the parent who was abusive or neglectful, or just not good enough?  Don’t they owe us something before they are allowed to gain access to our good graces once again?

We make it hard enough for people who have fallen to get back up again, but consider your own struggle when you are that person.  It takes an internal war to muster enough strength to lift your own face out of the mire to see sunlight again.  When you finally raise yourself up on your knees and begin to crawl, should others let you or do they push you back down again?  Have you paid your own debt to yourself?

What about grace? Mercy?  Forgiveness?  Love?  When is it OK for us to allow these to come into play, or should they just always be expressed, unrestrained?

What happened to the prince from our tale?  He got up.  He got up as fast as he could?  Despite the internal battle that told them he did not deserve to put on clean royal clothing again, he did it anyway.  He chose to walk on to a new day, vowing to not allow himself to be found on the ground again.  What would good would it do to stay face down in the mire?  What good would it do for him to wait for the people of the land to approve the timing for his return to his position of royalty? After all, he was born as royalty and he would die as royalty.

The moral of this story: When you fall down, be quick to get back up.  When your friends, family or leaders fall down, be quick to help them get back up.

Who is in your life that is keeping you down?  Who is helping you get up?

Who in your life doesn’t deserve to get up?  Who can you help get up?