“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

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Chapter 2013, Page 1 of 365

2013It’s 9:00 a.m. on the first day of 2013 and I am sitting here at my kitchen counter, in pain and seriously considering going back to bed.  That’s not how I planned for this year to begin!  But, one of the lessons that life has taught me is that I can’t control everything.  I’ve been especially taught that in regard to my health these last couple years.  No matter how hard I work to stay healthy, there are just some things that are out of my hands.  Right now it appears that whatever is going on has to do with my spine.  I had x-rays last week and an MRI just yesterday, so I don’t have the results yet.  If you see me out in public, moving my appendages around in strange ways, it’s because I’m trying to bring relief to the pain going down my arm and my legs.

It’s the New Year, a time when we focus on changes we want to make in our lives.  Often, our New Year’s resolution has to do with weight loss and our health.  One of my goals in 2012 was to run a full marathon.  My body didn’t cooperate, so I wasn’t able to do that, but my mind was completely ready.  My first marathon from last May had to be rescheduled for January 20, 2013.  Last November, it became evident that I wasn’t even going to be able to do that, so I switched to the ½.  Now it’s even questionable as to whether I will be able to even walk that one.  Running is definitely out.

It’s so frustrating, so discouraging, to find myself having to take weeks off of training, yet again!  To feel like you have to almost start over, yet again…  I’ve taken up cycling for cross training in the meantime and I am having a blast with that, but I so want to run!

I have to admit, today I find myself in a weakened place.  T hey, (whoever “they” are) say to never admit to weakness, but we get real here.  We all have our weak moments.  We all have times when we need to be encouraged.  Today I will encourage myself with my own words.  Maybe they can encourage you, too!  Here is a blog post I wrote this last year: “Life Lessons from an Athlete”.  I’ve applied these principles to running, however, they can be applied to whatever it is you want to do in 2013.

I wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

Life Lessons From an Athlete

PHX HalfI wrote a blog post this past February entitled, “I Wanna Be an Athlete”.  Little did I know that within a couple weeks of that post, well into training for my first marathon, I would be taken out of the game.

Just over a year ago, my husband and I took up running.  We saw the value of being healthy and making healthier life style changes and running was a way to move us in that direction.  As you know, running isn’t a sport that those qualifying for an AARP Card usually jump into.  It wasn’t easy, but it was a serious jump and we’ve gotten several races under our belts now, the longest for me being a ½ marathon.  My first full marathon was to be the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon this past May, but that didn’t happen.

In March, while doing an intense speed workout, I had a hamstring and hip injury that brought me to an abrupt halt.   I was barely able to limp the three miles home.  I hate not being able to complete a workout the coach gives me!  Feeling desperate not to miss any training so close to my 1st marathon, I tried everything to speed up the healing.  Loads of stretching, physical therapy, ice, rest, nothing was working.  Along with the hamstring issue, the Sports Orthopedic Doctor found that I also had a lot of arthritis in my spine that was contributing to my pain and probably a stress fracture.  It became evident as the weeks passed by that I would not be running my first marathon in May.  I was intensely disappointed!

At the same time in March, I learned that I had developed an incisional hernia from a surgery that I had last September.   (That’s a whole other drama that I wrote about in “I’m Not Average”.)  The lump on my belly was huge!  I called it my belly boob except the problem was that it was bigger than the original two.  This would require surgery, so I went ahead and scheduled that, hoping to heal the hip at the same time I was recovering from the surgery. It turned out that the surgeon not only had to repair the hernia we knew of, but found that I had many holes to repair.  The surgeon described it as looking like swiss cheese.  The eight previous abdominal surgeries had done a number on my midsection.  Thus the surgery and the recovery time turned out to be a bigger ordeal than was originally planned.

I’ve not been able to run for over three months now!  If you are a runner, you certainly understand how painful this is.  Sadness wells th_aging_gracefully_exercise_painup when you see other runners on the road or when you drive down roads you usually run on or your spouse suits up to hit the road.  You even begin to crave those nasty GU packets!  What was really painful was being sidelined for three races that I was already signed up to run.  Reduced to being a race T-shirt collector, I still attended and cheered on my husband as he ran those races, including the race that was to be “our” first marathon.  Bittersweet as it was, I was so proud of him as he crossed that finish line!

All that said, I’ve had lots of time to re-think this “wanna be an athlete” thing.  I think there is much to be learned from athletes that can be applied in other areas of our lives.  Here is what I’ve learned.

  • Being an athlete changes the way you eat.  I’m an athlete.  I need to eat healthy food.  What I put into my body matters.
  • Being an athlete changes your daily activities.  Workouts “must” fit into your day.
  • Seeing yourself as an athlete changes the way you think about a workout.  I am an athlete; therefore hard work is what I do.
  • On a substandard, humorous level, it changes the way you see yourself.  It makes it a little more okay to be smaller on the top side if you’re a woman.
  • An athlete needs to have a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit.  You need to be strong in all three areas.

Athlete Sign

  • Athletes see themselves as WINNERS before they have even run the race or played the game.
  • Athletes push harder; they go above the norm, above the expected.  They push the limits, if there are limits.
  • Athletes go through periods of strict training.  They beat their bodies into shape to be able to accomplish their goal.
  • Athletes endure setbacks and injuries as being a part of the game.  They don’t give up but use it as time to gain strength or endurance in another area.
  • Once an athlete recovers from an injury or setback and is able to get back in the game, they forget what’s past and strain for what’s ahead.  They can’t afford to allow fear of the past to slow them down.
  • Athletes are persistent and determined.  They know what patient endurance means – “steady, active persistence”.
  • Athletes strip off everything that would hold them back, even the tiniest thing that would weigh them down.  They wear appropriate clothing and gear, specifically designed for their sport.
  • Athletes don’t allow themselves to be distracted.  They stay focused.  Their goal, the prize is always set before them.
  • Athletes work together with their team.  They help each other win the game.
  • Athletes find motivation and encouragement in those who have already endured through the agonizing pain that comes with training.  They look to those who have pushed through hardships and setbacks, those who have already attained high goals and already succeeded at winning.
  • They run hard or play the game as a fight to the finish and they get the prize.  And the rewards don’t suck!Running 1

I’m sure there is more that I will learn in this journey.  I’m at six weeks post surgery now and had my first physical therapy appointment this week.  I was hoping to hear that I was good to hit the road, but it looks like I’m going to need another two to four weeks to rebuild my core strength before I can run again.  The next scheduled race is the Napa to Sonoma ½ Marathon which is just over a month away.  I will probably have to walk most of this, but at least I won’t be sidelined.  My husband who will be running will just have more time at the finish line to enjoy the fruits of Napa while he waits for me.  🙂

th_AthleteEverydayHaving re-thought this athlete thing, I can tell you that I haven’t changed my mind.  The difference now is, I’m seeing myself as an athlete, because I am!  Life is an amazing race.  Let’s run it well, together!

Looking for the Fountain of Youth…

I’ve never posted on Craig’s List but if I did, here’s my want ad for the day: “Looking for the fountain of youth, a.s.a.p.!”  If anyone really did find a fountain that would bring back youth, they would certainly build a resort around it and become a billionaire.

You won’t get me on the expensive surgeries that will restore a more youthful look (just yet anyway), but I’ve been a sucker for the beauty product infomercials that claim to have the one secret, key ingredient that will dissolve my wrinkles and bring back my youthful glow.  Save your money!  I can tell you, there is no secret ingredient!

As I approach the birthday that will qualify me to become a resident in an “adult only” community, I can’t help but have a few thoughts on this aging dilemma that I face.  I remember my 30th birthday.  That was the hard one for me and now I have to laugh at myself over that.  Turning thirty was a piece of cake in comparison to what I’m looking at now.  I can’t even bring myself to let the new number slip from my lips.  It’s amazing to me how my definition of what I consider “old” has become older the older that I get.  In my thirties, I considered where I’m at now to be classed as “old”.  Now that I’m here, old is more like when you’re in your nineties, right!

It’s not fair that we don’t have a choice, but have to succumb to the aging process!  But then, just when did life decide to play fair?

It’s just not right for an 18 year old to start getting gray hair.  It wasn’t just a few hairs here and there.  It was one spot on the front left side of my head.  I was a brunette then and had this gray streak that wasn’t a pretty highlight that I paid big bucks for.  When I was in my twenties, someone who didn’t know my name, described me as the “woman with the spider in her hair”.  I bought my first bottle of hair color soon after that.

It’s not fair that I went into menopause at age 40, ten years earlier than the average women does.  Of course, we’ve already established the fact that “I’m Not Average” in an earlier blog post.  I did find some advantages in early menopause though.  Hot flashes weren’t one of them!

What a shock it was when I got contacts for the first time.  I had only been wearing glasses to read, so I never had them on when I was in front of a mirror.  My first trip to the bathroom with the contacts was a literal eye opener.  Where did all those wrinkles come from all of a sudden?  I looked so much younger before I got contacts…  So of course, the contacts had to go!

I learned by trial and error, never let anyone see your face if you have to bend over in public.  I was in my late 40’s and happened to see myself in the mirror as I bent over to brush my hair.  It was a horror show!  Skin just hanging off my cheek bones!  How and when did that happen?

In my Physical Therapy sessions now, there is an exercise that I have to do that really makes me swallow my pride.  It’s called “Inch worms”.  I have to walk on my hands and feet on the floor and my butt in the air.  I’ve said what my face looks like upside down, but to have to see the skin hanging from my arms and around my knees and knowing everyone else that can see that too is torture!  I’ve begged the Physical Therapist to not make me do this exercise, but to no avail…

It’s not fair that body parts succumb to gravity and head south!  The word “perky” is no longer in the description of any body part.  “Tube socks with golf balls in the toe”, is a more fitting description and the rounded hips, well…  the cheek and thigh tend to meld into one continuous mass.  Enough with the disgusting word pictures!

I took up running to try to slow down the aging process, maybe even reclaim some of my lost youth.  Running has improved the appearance of some body parts and I am much healthier than I was a year and a half ago.  I probably am healthier and more fit than I’ve been since my early twenties, but in spite of that, my body still betrays me.  I still spend more time with medical professionals than I would like.  It’s so not fair!

In a previous job, I spent a lot of time working in retirement communities and with clients who I considered to be “old” compared to my stage of life at the time.  It was quite sad actually.  Some were very healthy, but they had let themselves become “old” in their minds.  They saw themselves as “old”; therefore, they were justified in living the stereotypical, “old” lifestyle.  They let their age determine their level of activity and there are just certain things that they just couldn’t do because of it.  The reality was that there was much they could do if they applied a little effort.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but I found that the general mindset was that they were now retired, so for many that meant the end to “accomplishment”.  They would no longer be expected to accomplish anything and any unfulfilled dreams could be let go of.  They no longer nourished those dreams and their dreams were allowed to die.  The reality was that they now had the freedom and more time to realize their dreams.

Life for many had become a waiting game.  They were waiting for the end of life, when the reality was that they still could have many years ahead of them to live.

As I now find myself in this new place, regardless of how old I live to be, I always want to be useful, to have a purpose.  I want to always be doing something to better myself and to help others.  I still want to work toward those unfulfilled dreams.  I’m choosing to not become “old” in my mind; therefore, I think I have found the fountain of youth.  You’ve heard it said, “You’re only as old as you think you are”.  It doesn’t matter how old my outer shell gets.  (Ok, so I admit it’s still kind of hard to say that last sentence.)  I’m young in my mind.  Life isn’t fair and even though my body may betray me, I’m determined to make the best of this aging process.  Like fine wine, I too, will become better with age, so I raise my glass and say, “Cheers!” and “Happy Birthday to me!”

I choose to die living, not live dying.  Who wants to celebrate with me?

 

Life Lessons from an Athlete…

I wrote a blog post this past February entitled, “I Wanna Be an Athlete”.  Little did I know that within a couple weeks of that post, well into training for my first marathon, I would be taken out of the game.

Just over a year ago, my husband and I took up running.  We saw the value of being healthy and making healthier lifestyle changes and running was a way to move us in that direction.  As you know, running isn’t a sport that those qualifying for an AARP Card usually jump into.  It wasn’t easy, but it was a serious jump and we’ve gotten several races under our belts now, the longest for me being a ½ marathon.  My first full marathon was to be the Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon this past May, but that didn’t happen.

In March while doing an intense speed workout, I had a hamstring and hip injury that brought me to an abrupt halt.   I was barely able to limp the three miles home.  I hate not being able to complete a workout the coach gives me!  Feeling desperate not to miss any training so close to my 1st marathon, I tried everything to speed up the healing.  Loads of stretching, physical therapy, ice, rest, nothing was working.  Along with the hamstring issue, the Sports Orthopedic Doctor found that I also had a lot of arthritis in my spine that was contributing to my pain and probably a stress fracture.  It became evident as the weeks passed by that I would not be running my first marathon in May.  I was intensely disappointed!

At the same time in March, I learned that I had developed an incisional hernia from a surgery that I had last September.   (That’s a whole other drama that I wrote about in “I’m Not Average”.)  The lump on my belly was huge!  I called it my belly boob except the problem was that it was bigger than the original two.  This would require surgery, so I went ahead and scheduled that, hoping to heal the hip at the same time I was recovering from the surgery. It turned out that the surgeon not only had to repair the hernia we knew of, but found that I had many holes to repair.  The surgeon described it as looking like swiss cheese.  The eight previous abdominal surgeries had done a number on my midsection.  Thus the surgery and the recovery time turned out to be a bigger ordeal than was originally planned.

I’ve not been able to run for over three months now!  If you are a runner, you certainly understand how painful this is.  Sadness wells up when you see other runners on the road or when you drive down roads you usually run on or your spouse suits up to hit the road.  You even begin to crave those nasty GU packets!  What was really painful was being sidelined for three races that I was already signed up to run.  Reduced to being a race T-shirt collector, I still attended and cheered on my husband as he ran those races, including the race that was to be “our” first marathon.  Bittersweet as it was, I was so proud of him as he crossed that finish line!

All that said, I’ve had lots of time to re-think this “wanna be an athlete” thing.  I think there is much to be learned from athletes that can be applied in other areas of our lives.  Here is what I’ve learned.

  • Being an athlete changes the way you eat.  I’m an athlete.  I need to eat healthy food.  What I put into my body matters.
  • Being an athlete changes your daily activities.  Workouts “must” fit into your day.
  • Seeing yourself as an athlete changes the way you think about a workout.  I am an athlete; therefore hard work is what I do.
  • On a substandard, humorous level, it changes the way you see yourself.  It makes it a little more okay to be smaller on the top side.
  • An athlete needs to have a healthy balance between mind, body and spirit.  You need to be strong in all three areas.
  • Athletes see themselves as WINNERS before they have even run the race or played the game.
  • Athletes push harder; they go above the norm, above the expected.  They push the limits, if there are limits.
  • Athletes go through periods of strict training.  They beat their bodies into shape to be able to accomplish their goal.
  • Athletes endure setbacks and injuries as being a part of the game.  They don’t give up but use it as time to gain strength or endurance in another area.
  • Once an athlete recovers from an injury or setback and is able to get back in the game, they forget what’s past and strain for what’s ahead.  They can’t afford to allow fear of the past to slow them down.
  • Athletes are persistent and determined.  They know what patient endurance means – “steady, active persistence”.
  • Athletes strip off everything that would hold them back, even the tiniest thing that would weigh them down.  They wear appropriate clothing and gear, specifically designed for their sport.
  • Athletes don’t allow themselves to be distracted.  They stay focused.  Their goal, the prize is always set before them.
  • Athletes work together with their team.  They help each other win the game.
  • Athletes find motivation and encouragement in those who have already endured through the agonizing pain that comes with training.  They look to those who have pushed through hardships and setbacks, those who have already attained high goals and already succeeded at winning.
  • They run hard or play the game as a fight to the finish and they get the prize.  And the rewards don’t suck!

I’m sure there is more that I will learn in this journey.  I’m at six weeks post surgery now and had my first physical therapy appointment this week.  I was hoping to hear that I was good to hit the road, but it looks like I’m going to need another two to four weeks to rebuild my core strength before I can run again.  The next scheduled race is the Napa to Sonoma ½ Marathon which is just over a month away.  I will probably have to walk most of this, but at least I won’t be sidelined.  My husband who will be running will just have more time at the finish line to enjoy the fruits of Napa while he waits for me.  🙂

Having re-thought this athlete thing, I can tell you that I haven’t changed my mind.  The difference now is, I’m seeing myself as an athlete, because I am!  Life is an amazing race.  Let’s run it well, together!

The Power In the Pause…

Oh, how I love the fact that the TV remote control has a pause button!  I can be in complete control of what I watch and when I want to watch it.  During a workout DVD, I especially like being able to pause when I need a drink of water or an extra minute to catch my breath.  The fact is I like to be in control with the ability to order my day as I see fit.  I can control the TV, the music, the ceiling fan, lights, even the waterfall in the pool, all with a remote control.  I hold the power to control those things, but that’s about as far as my super powers go.

Unfortunately, I have no remote control for life.  Regardless of what I would like to think, the reality is that I have no control over other people, nor many of the circumstances that happen around me.  No amount of planning, organizing, ordering, goal setting or manipulating gives me power over many of the situations I live with on a daily basis.

I’m making a tough confession here.  I’ve spent several years of my life feeling unfulfilled, like there was something more for me somewhere out there, some purpose that was just beyond my reach.  There was nothing I could do to bring it to me any faster.  I just had to wait.  Most of us don’t have the patience for waiting or being placed on hold.  I particularly hate waiting and yet I’ve been doing it for years.

Recently I was reading a facebook post and one word that the writer used really hit me.  She was talking about making a “pivot” in her life, changing direction.  She talked about the “nothing space”, the empty void that there is when you take the risk to change direction in your life.  You take that leap of faith off of the cliff, often into nothing, thin air.  You then free fall for what seems like an eternity, but is really just a matter of seconds.  She described this time as also being a “pause”.  That’s the word that hit me.  That’s where I’ve been, in the “pause”, just waiting for that great thing, my sense of purpose and fulfillment to come along.

I’m sure some are wondering why I’ve allowed myself to be in this “pause” for years.  I encountered one of those seasons that I really had no control over.  Lots of “life” happened around me during those years, much of it involving family matters that required my full attention.  It just couldn’t be all about me.  Others had to come first.  Many of those years were extremely, overwhelmingly, stressful, to say the least.  I would say, even hellish!  I felt my very being was not only broken, but crushed beyond recognition.  This isn’t the time to get into all the events that took place, but as a result of those things, my life was put on hold.  Something bigger was holding the remote and interrupted my happy program by hitting the “pause” button.  The situations demanded that my plans, my ambitions, my hopes and dreams be pushed aside for awhile.  It’s been an excruciatingly painful, long pause.

Life has quieted down a bit over the last couple years.  Not that all the wrinkles have been smoothed out, but it’s not overwhelming anymore.  You see, I’ve discovered the power in the “pause”.  Valuable treasures have been built into my very being during this pause.  I’ve grown much as a person.  I’ve gained wisdom and learned important lessons.  I’ve developed tenacious perseverance, a never give up attitude.  I’ve become stronger than ever in my faith, which that in itself gives me strength and hope that’s unshakeable.  It allows me to “rest” in my pause.  That means I can be ok with being on hold.

Unfortunately, for most of us these treasures can only come to us through the storms of life.  Storms are a powerful force.  We’ve seen the fury of a hurricane.  We’ve seen the wide path of destruction in the wake of a tornado.  You’ve also seen the victims of these events, rise up and rebuild afterward.  My life storms had the power to break me, but they also contained the power to rebuild a better and stronger me.  It was a pause in my life.  It was inconvenient, maddening and uncomfortable.  But oh, how I love it’s power.

If you are wondering where I am at now, I’m still in the pause.  I’ve recently made another pivot though; yes a leap into thin air.  I know the one who is in control of my life and I’m no longer fighting for the remote.  Those hopes and dreams are being reawakened.  That thing, that sense of purpose and fulfillment is closer than ever.  I can feel it.  There’s a giant finger over that play button and it’s going to be “game on” any second now…

 

Holes in the Clouds

One week ago today, our family lost someone that we loved very much.  It was my father in law.  My husband and his brothers lost their dad.  My mother in law lost her husband.  Our children, nieces and nephews lost their grandpa.  His siblings lost their brother and on it goes.  This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but the one thing that stands out to me is that family stands together through all of it.

My run this morning was at about the same time as last Wednesday when my mother in law and I were huddled close together in the hospital, having just been told that the one we loved didn’t make it.  It was cool, breezy and overcast this morning, much like it was that morning.  The clouds were pretty thick at the start of this day and blocked out the normal beautiful sunrise.  I couldn’t help but notice that there were holes in the clouds as in a slice of swiss cheese.  The rays of early sunlight were shooting through the cloud holes in every direction and it was absolutely beautiful.

Clouds are often associated with sad, dreary times, and we have good reason to feel sad and dreary right now.  But nature this morning sent us a message.  It was a reminder that no matter how dark and thick the clouds may be, the sun is always shining.  It’s light will find a path through the thickest, darkest cloud to light our path and allow us to feel it’s warmth.

Each beam of light I saw this morning reminded me of something to be thankful for.  I started thinking about all the many things I’ve experienced in just this last week that I am so grateful for, most of all, the abundant love of friends and family.  By the end of my run, my heart was overwhelmed with thankfulness and tears spilled onto my cheeks.  They were the good kind of tears, both cleansing and healing, all brought on by light shining through a hole in the clouds.

We all love you dad…   

I Wanna Be An Athlete

I can’t honestly say that I was “born to run”, certainly not in the sense of the Bruce Springsteen song, however, that song does make my play list.  An athlete, I have never been, either.  I was the last one picked for the sports teams in gym class.  The only time sports shows were on TV when I was growing up, was for holidays at my Grandma’s house.  I don’t think watching Minnesota Fats play pool counts as a sport, and I’m embarrassed to say we watched that on Saturday nights.  Yes, it was a sheltered life, I know.  I’m lucky to know the difference between a foot ball and a hockey puck.  My husband can vouch for my lack of enthusiasm about sports, probably much to his disappointment.  I’ve tried to like it, I really have.  I’ve tried sitting to watch football with him.  It’s torture to me.  I just can’t go there.

There was one sport that I kind of liked in Jr. High and High School gym class.  It was track.  I could run and back then, I was even fast.  That’s about as far as it went though.  Once I wasn’t required to take a PE class anymore, no more sports for me.

So now we skip ahead, way ahead!  It’s been many years since those track days.  About as year and a half ago, my husband and I became more health conscious and started our own exercise programs.  We had a tread mill, so that fit into the routine, but only for a mile or so for me.  Little did I know, my husband was gradually building his distance though and had gotten it in his mind that he wanted to run a race.  I was surprised when he signed up to do Pat’s Run last year.  It’s a 4.2 mile race and he had never even run anywhere but on the treadmill.  A few days before the run, he ran outside for his first time and he loved it.  When he came home from his first race, he was so excited and that’s all he could talk about.  He was hooked on running.  I knew that if there was a sport that I could enjoy with him, this would be it.  I also knew, if I didn’t jump in right away, I would never be able to catch up to his fitness level and run with him.  So without a whole lot of thought, that next week, I started running with him.

Wow, was it ever hard in the beginning!  I’m not a spring chick anymore, but not quite ready to live in a retirement community either.  I remember those first few weeks of running more as a nightmare.  All the heavy breathing I was doing wasn’t bringing any sort of pleasure.  I so wanted to keep up with my husband and was determined to do it, but I hated the process.  It was all I could do to take another step sometimes.  I’ve found that when my body is working extra hard like that, I am more likely to feel rage rather then the euphoria that runners normally feel.

Why did I not quit and give up though?  It’s something I really wanted to be able to do with my husband.  If it was going to take this much of his time and he enjoyed it so much, I needed to do this.  I liked the results from it, too.  Weight was melting off my body.  I had worked so hard to lose weight and this made it so much easier.  I was even craving healthier foods to give my muscles the fuel they needed.  I also found something in myself that caught me by surprise.  I couldn’t let him beat me!  For some reason, I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

It was a rough start at first.  Both of us ended up in physical therapy with injuries.  Most of it was from a lack of knowledge and doing more than the rest of our muscles were ready for us to do.  We were signed up for our first 5K last July and thanks to the physical therapy, I was able to run.

Our first race was so much fun!  It was the Gunbun Fun Run in Napa, CA.  Not only was it a beautiful place to do the run, but it was my first experience to run on streets that were lined with people cheering us on.  We ran across the finish line together holding hands.  It was exhilarating!  It didn’t suck to have the wine tasting at the finish line either.  I was now hooked!

We’ve done a few races since then.  The Run to Remember 9/11 in NYC was such a memorable experience.  Running on Governor’s Island just across from the bay from the World Trade Center Memorial Site and the Statue of Liberty, running with family members of 9/11 victims in memory of those who lost their lives that tragic day was an honor.  Our next race was the AZ Grape Stomp 5K in Sonoita, just 5 weeks after I had been in ICU and had a major surgery.  I should clarify, I mostly walked.  Just two weeks later I did run my first 10K.  It was slow, but I ran the whole way.  Seriously, regarding the hospital event, had I not been physically as fit as I was from running, I really think the outcome of that experience could have been very different.  Staying on this side of the grave was a huge benefit.  You can read about that in another post I wrote, “I’m Not Average”.  My husband and I did our first half marathon in January and are training for our first full marathon this coming May.  26.2 miles!

We’ve had a coach for several months now.  He’s a professional and keeps helping us to improve without getting injured, which is a big deal for runners.  We’re up to about 40 miles a week with our training.  Each week, we have a couple speed workouts, a couple easy runs and a long run each Sunday.  We’re up to 16 miles on the long run now and wow, is 16 miles a long way on foot!

I’ve had several people ask, how I do it.  I have to say, the answer is the same for everything else that I do in life, one step at a time.  When I’m at that point where I think I can’t go on, I just take one more step, and then another and another.  I keep going.  Quitting is not an option.  Besides, I wanna be an athlete.