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

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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…

 

Brought to You by the Letter “J”

Two kids left to talk about, so two more days for this proud mom to use her bragging rights!  Today is “J”’s day.  Actually, let’s refer to him as “JN”.  You see, we have two “J”’s, so the next one you’ll meet tomorrow.  I also gave “JN” the heads up that I would be talking about him.  He wasn’t worried about what I would say either, so once again, I’ve been privileged with the liberty to share.  His comment was that the last manger scenetime I shared about him, it helped someone and helping people is where “JN’s” heart is at.   That post was titled, “My Grown Up Christmas Gift”, if you care to take a peek.

“JN” is my 3rd born, who also made his way into this world by C-section.  He too, was over 9lbs. at birth.  He was born right after Thanksgiving that year and was introduced to the public in his debut as baby Jesus in our small town church Christmas play.  I waited backstage, holding my breath as the guy playing Joseph held “JN” high over his head for all to see.  It was a proud moment, but did Joseph really have to hold my baby boy up in the air that high???

It was very evident from the beginning that “JN” was a deep thinker.  His gaze was piercing as he watched the people around him.   He would wrinkle up his tiny forehead and stare into people’s eyes, as if he could read their minds and interpret their thoughts.  It was pretty wild!  I would love to have been able to know what was going on in that little brain at the time.

“JN” got lots of attention, too!  He was born ten years after his big brother and sister, who were very happy to have a new baby around.  So when “JN” wanted held or fed, his wishes were granted pretty much immediately.   Thankfully, “JN” was spared from having to endure the drama of child abuse that his older siblings had gone through in my previous marriages.  I’d say he had a pretty sweet life in those early years.

Things began to take a turn though as “JN” was nearing the end of the elementary school days. He started to develop some health issues child in hospitalwhich resulted in lots of doctor visits, biopsies, surgery, medications and hospitalizations.  One of his doctors was a specialist who was writing a text book at the time and because “JN”’s condition was so rare for a child, he was going to refer to his case in his textbook.  I don’t know if his case ever made the cut or not, but I thought it was interesting.  Maybe a student or another child was helped even then by “JN”.  Needless to say, no parent wants to have their child undergo this kind of trauma.  I’m sure “JN” doesn’t have fond memories of this season in his life.

dark-streetThe season that followed doesn’t contain fond memories for “JN” either.  He would be able to tell his story much better than I.  I really only know the story from the parent’s side.  The years that followed were the very painful years of addiction.  “JN” missed all of the normal fun of the teenage years.  Instead he learned the tough existence of drugs, the streets and dark alleyways.  He had times of wanting to be clean and would check in to a rehab program, but it seemed he was caught in a vicious cycle of rehab and relapse.  These were nightmare years for all of us.

Maybe you think I’m a horrible mother for sharing this story with the world.  I might be that in your eyes, but I’m not in the eyes of my son.  I’m a mother who is proud of her son.  He’s clean now and he has been for a year and a half.  He’s been taking college courses, getting good grades, he lives on his own and he’s kept a full time job.  “JN” is intelligent, caring and obviously a fighter.  He’s still that deep thinker, too, and what he thinks most about is helping other people.  He goes to AA meetings, shares his story and sponsors others who are still struggling to be free.

No one knows the depths of the hell he went through in all of this, except for him.  For me to try to explain to you how hard he had to fight Strengthto get to where he is now would be a waste of space, because no matter how descriptive I get with my words, I couldn’t even begin to touch what he’s experienced.  So I’ll leave that story for him to tell.  What I will say is, if you are one who struggles with alcohol or addiction, why not visit one of those AA meetings.  You might run into my “JN”.  He’ll be the first to tell you, there is hope, there is help and there is healing.  You too can be free!

So “JN”, hear your momma loud and clear today, I’m super proud of you and I love you with all of my heart!

“Sometimes you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness.” – Susan Gale

#NaBloPoMo

It’s “C”‘s Turn!

open bookIn keeping with my “super proud mommy” theme these next few days, today’s post is dedicated to “C”.  “C” is my second born and my only daughter.  It’s not her birthday but there is plenty to celebrate!  I gave “C” the heads up that this post was coming today.  She said she wasn’t worried about what I might write.  “My life is an open book”, she said.  While I don’t plan to take advantage of the privilege she granted me with that statement, I will walk that fine line between her privacy and getting downright personal.  The more you understand about the struggle, the more you’ll see what an exceptional woman she has become.

I was still a single mom when “C” came into the world by C-section.  I couldn’t wait for her to be born.  I was so impatient; I even jumped rope to bring on labor.  It was a really stupid thing to do, as I didn’t have a clue about the dangers of doing that at the time, but it worked.  She was my tiniest baby, the only one that came in under the 9 lb. mark on the scale.

I hate to say, “C” didn’t have a very happy babyhood.  She was born with severe food allergies and even what I was eating while I was pregnant had been affecting her.  Yes, as rare as it is, she was even allergic to breast milk.  It took several months, lots of tummy aches, infections, poopy diapers and crying by both of us, to pin point all the things that were making her sick.  It was very evident from the beginning, that even though “C” was far from being able to talk, “C” had a voice and she wasn’t afraid to use it.

It’s a complicated story leading up to my pregnancy with “C”.  I’ve shared some of my soap opera drama in previous posts and I’m sure OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmore will unfold in the months to come.  Let’s just say, I was really good at weaving a very tangled web.  I guess the more appropriate descriptive word for me would be “stupid”.  What I will share now is that “C” never knew her biological father.  It was my decision for it to be that way.  I had to protect her.  Her biological father was, well… let’s just keep things nice here and say he wasn’t right in his head.  Aside from the fact that he was an addict, alcoholic, a pervert and abusive, he would have been the one who would have done more harm to her than anyone else in her life.  He wanted to have a baby girl, because he wanted to show her what love really was.  The thing is, he didn’t know what love really was.  All he knew was the perversion of love and my little girl didn’t deserve that.  No little girl does.

I did remarry after “C” was born.  She adored that man.  She, like every little girl, wanted that “daddy shaped hole” in her heart to be filled.  Unfortunately, that man was also an abuser.  She was too young to understand or remember when I ended the baby hand with fathermarriage.  All she understood was that the “daddy shaped hole” was empty now and for some reason, I had taken it from her.  Once again, we see how the effects of abuse have a far reaching effect on my children.

In spite of “C” not having the proper loving father image in the early years of her life, her inner strength and tenacity continued to grow and thrive.  “C” acted like a grown up from the early toddler days.  She was the one in control, even in her play with her baby dolls.  She wasn’t satisfied with wearing her own clothes and shoes.  She wanted to wear the clothes and shoes of a big girl, so what was mine became hers, so she thought.  I can still picture her in my mind wearing my bras upside down.

When “C” was eight years old, I remarried for the third time and I’m happy to say that one lasted!  Two more children followed and “C” liked to play mommy.  She will be the first to tell you that she got to babysit her brothers more often than she would have liked, but she did like playing grown up.  Like she did as a baby, she never hesitated to use her voice when it came to telling me what I was doing wrong or what I should be doing with her brothers.  You always knew what she was thinking and where she stood on matters regarding raising kids.

She’s a mommy now with a beautiful teenage daughter of her own.  “C” is a wonderful mommy!  She stays very connected to her daughter.  They spend time talking often and about everything.  It’s the way I wish is would have been between her and I.  I have great respect for her for this ability.  What caused me to shut down emotionally seems to have caused her to flourish.

“C” has continued to deal with challenges in her adult years, but she’s remained that strong woman and you will hear her roar when she flower blossomwants to be heard.   She has been lied to and cheated on and life just hasn’t always been fair, but she hasn’t backed down, nor has she let any circumstance get in her way.  She’s continued to stand strong, continued to be sensitive, expressive and nurturing, continued to blossom.  Best part of it all is that she has continued to love me.

You just have to know, I’m proud of you “C”!  I’m proud to be your mom!  And I love you with all of my heart!

 

#NaBloPoMo

Celebrating “M”

Just have to tell you how proud I am of my kids!  I know that I’m no different than any other parent out there.  We’re all proud!   I’ve decided to voice my feelings and the next four days will be dedicated to each of my kids.  I want it to be recorded for the world to see and hear how much I love them!  Maybe this is something they need to hear in case I’ve somehow not gotten it across to them already.  Even if I have, we all need to be reminded of these things.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, “Let the Future Begin”, I’m going through a recovery group for victims of domestic violence and abuse.  Of course, we do a lot of digging around in the dirty muck of the past in this group.  It’s not a pleasant experience, to say the least, but I know the end result will be worth it all.  My past rape and abuse had a very profound effect on me, so naturally it would have an effect on my children as they were growing up.  Without going into all the details of that right now, in the next few days, I will tell you a little about how it affected my children.

birthday cakeToday, we celebrate my firstborn son who is about to have his 36th birthday.   I’ll call him “M”.  I remember when he was born and that overwhelming love that I felt for the first time in my life.  I couldn’t believe that it was possible to even feel an emotion so intensely.  I remember not really liking what I felt, as I knew how vulnerable it made me.  When you love that much, there is the risk of hurting that much and I surely didn’t want to hurt that much.

“M” was born at 9 lbs. 10 oz., by emergency C-section.  This was years ago when they put you under for a c-section, so my first memoriesbaby holding hand are a little fuzzy, but I’ll never forget when they brought him to me for the first time.  The nurse laid him close to my face so my cheek touched his cheek.  I’ll never forget how wonderful that felt.

This morning I’m envisioning him as that little, almost 2 year old boy I loved waking up to every morning.  I was a single mom at this point.  I’d wake up to see his wide eyed grin and hear his little giggle.  He had crawled out of his crib again.  There was no stopping this kid.  He rolled over from the day he was born.  When he was six months old, we lived in an upstairs apartment, so we had to have a gate to guard the steps.  One day he was crawling around and I heard a little laugh at the bottom of the steps.  It was “M”.  He’d managed to wiggle himself under the gate and crawl down the steps backwards, at six months old.  Yes, it really did happen!

“M” was hungry when he woke up.  He’d go to the refrigerator and get whatever food he was in the mood for and lay it on the pillow besideFredrick's Alligator Book me.  It might be a carton of eggs, a pack of bacon or his favorite popsicle.  I remember trying to get ready for my day and he would want to read.  His favorite book was “Fredrick’s Alligator”.  He had that book memorized and he would read it to me, daily and often.  I’ll always remember that book.

This morning I’m envisioning that sweet baby boy covered in white.  All that surrounded him was covered in white.  Gooey greasy white!  Gooey greasy white that is very difficult to get off.  To all Desitin diaper cream users, if you’re smarter than I was, you’ll keep that stuff far out of reach from your kids.

My oldest was abused by his father.  You may have heard it said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Even though he couldn’t possibly understand what was happening to him at that time, I think what my son experienced helped to develop something good in him.  It helped to develop determination, drive and made him a fighter.

Tennis shoe riding toy

That Tennis Shoe riding toy is down in the left corner. Found it in the Sear’s Wish book from 1979.

I remember one occasion when I was at work and someone was supposed to be watching him.  “M” was four years old at the time.  His little sister was two.  He wanted something and he wanted it bad.  His motivation for wanting it was love.  He wanted to be with his “Gammy” and she had gone to church.  The church was five blocks away and meant crossing a major intersection.  He determined that he was going to get there and he was going to see his “Gammy”, no matter what.  He managed to sneak out of the house with his sister.  I don’t know if he knew she wouldn’t be able to walk that far, but his two year old sister was riding on her plastic tennis shoe riding toy.  I have no clue as to how he knew directions to get to that church, but he managed to guide his sister on her tennis shoe and cross several streets, including the major intersection.  When Gammy walked out of those church doors, there were her grandkids, a little tired, but beaming with pride and joy!  I was horrified when I found out what had happened and thought about what could have happened.  I was furious that they hadn’t been watched and protected like they should have been, but I was stunned to think about what my son had accomplished.  I asked him how he crossed the big street with all the cars.  He said, “I just put up my hand and the cars stopped”.  Wow!  It’s taken years for me to get past the thought of what could have happened that day, but talk about determination and being fearless!

“M” has had to fight many battles through life since that time.  I’m proud of my son and that drive and determination that will continue to keep him going after what he wants.  I can’t wait to see him take hold of his dreams.  I’m proud to know that deep love he holds in his heart will continue to be his motivation as he takes care of his family and helps to raise his girls.   I’m proud of you “M” and I love you with all of my heart!

#NaBloPoMo

My Story For Ellen

Ellen PhotoI got an email the other day from Ellen DeGeneres.  That in itself is amazing, right!  She said she wanted to send me to Australia!

Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM

from The Ellen DeGeneres Show to you

Ellen is sending you to Australia! Enter to win the trip of a lifetime!

 

Ellen AustraliaI couldn’t believe it!  I’ve always wanted to go to Australia!  It wasn’t just a cut and dry, done deal yet though.  I would have to fill out an entry form and actually “win” the trip.  I had nothing to lose, so I filled in the blanks and came to a box where I was to answer the question, “Why do you deserve to win?”  Hmmmm…

I love an opportunity to write and I did have a story to tell, so I opened up a blank Word document and began to write.  I misread the requirement though and thought it said 2000 words.  It did seem like a lot and I wondered who would possibly have time to read all these 2000 word entries.  Oh was I ever surprised as I copied and pasted my story into that box.  My exactly, 2000 words didn’t fit!  What?  Then I saw it.  2000 characters…  I had just wasted all this time writing my story and now I have to say it all over again, but in only 2000 characters!   So since I took the time to do it, I thought I may as well share it with someone.  So here you go:

My 2000 Word Story For Ellen

With obesity at epidemic proportions in our country, my husband and I saw the importance of being part of the solution instead of the problem.  We took up the sport of running as a way to lose weight and get physically fit.  We started this at an age that people wouldn’t normally consider running as a fun hobby to pursue.  Let’s just say we qualify for an AARP discount.  Actually, my husband started running before I did.  He was having so much fun with it, I had to join him, plus it seemed like it would be something great that we could do together.

That was just over a year and a half ago.  Oh how well I remember those first few runs.  It was so hard!  I hated it, yet there was something about it that grabbed me by the feet and kept me going.  Before I knew it, we were running five miles and I was amazed when I could run that far without stopping.  In spite of my hate for doing it, I really enjoyed those early morning times with my husband, not the running part, but the fact that I was doing it with him.

Finish Line Gunbunfunrun2In July of 2011, we ran our first race together in Napa.  It was a 5k, the Gunbun Fun Run.  It was the first time that I think I experienced the runner’s high.  Yes, it was an effort, but interacting with other runners along the way, seeing the determination of people of all ages and body types, having people cheer you on; it was awesome!  And I was doing it with my husband.  We crossed the finish line holding hands, together.  I was completely hooked after that race!

We were serious about this.  Both my husband and I had experienced a transformation in our bodies.  We lost weight and felt better than ever.  We got a coach and signed up for our next race which was to be in New York City over Labor Day weekend that year.  It was the 9/11 Run to Remember, just a week before the 10 year anniversary of that horrific terrorist attack.

What an honor it was to run in memory of those who lost their lives on 9/11.  Running alongside the families of victims, firefighters andRun to Rememberpolice officers who were involved in the aftermath was so much more than just a privilege.  I will never forget the moment as I watched two other runners on the course whose lives were apparently connected somehow.  They saw each other and immediately stopped in the middle of the course, fell into an embrace and were weeping on each other’s shoulders.  I was moved to tears myself.  Another totally different, but totally amazing running experience!

This was getting fun now!  We came home and signed up for our next race which was to be in November.  We were doubling the distance now.  This was going to be our first 10k.  We even took it a step farther and signed up for our first half marathon which would be January of 2012.  Our coach knew our goals, gave us our schedules and training was seriously under way.

Just a few weeks after the 9/11 Run to Remember, though, I had a little set back.  Actually, it wasn’t so little.  It was a big deal!  I started having symptoms that were familiar to something I had experienced before.  It was stomach pain that had landed me in the hospital already, twice.  Because of to many previous surgeries and being septic from a ruptured appendix, my body grows a lot of scar tissue.  That scar tissue causes obstructions and I woke up this particular September morning, knowing I was headed back to the hospital.  I had been told before that walking might be helpful when I started to feel the discomfort.  This morning, there was an eight mile run on my training schedule.  I thought if walking might be helpful, running might be even better, so I did my very painful eight miles before I went home and got ready to go to the ER.  My trip to the ER resulted in emergency surgery for a perforated bowel, which left me septic, in kidney failure and a sentence of the next ten days in the hospital, five of them in ICU.

I’ve been able to bounce back quickly following my seven previous, major abdominal surgeries, but I have to say, this one was really difficult.  I really believe that had I not been as fit as I was from running going into this trauma, I really think the outcome would have been so much harder than it was, maybe even different.

Even though I was out of the hospital, I still had much recovery and many follow appointments ahead, as other organs were affected.  I had fluid in my lungs when I was released from the hospital.  I resisted having another procedure done to drain the fluid, so I was told that I needed to do a lot of walking.  And of course, I still had this training schedule with the next 10K just six weeks away.  I wanted to run!

I wasn’t stupid about it.  I did follow the doctors’ orders and walked every day.  As soon as I was given the go ahead to run, I did and with my coach’s help, was able to gain back the fitness I had lost.  I was even able to run that 10K, not really fast, but I ran!

Training continued and in spite of a couple, ongoing issues with my health, I was able to run my very first half marathon in January of 2012 with a time of 2:20:32.  Not too shabby for an old lady who just recently started this running thing, in spite of the setbacks!

When my husband does something, he goes all out.  We not only had a coach and a training schedule.  We now had a race schedule, with races for March, May, July, September and November of 2012.  It just made sense that since we had trained and run a half marathon, the natural progression would be to run a full marathon, right!  We were registered for a full marathon in Cleveland, for May of 2012.  Thus, training for 26.2 miles was in full swing.

All was going well with training until March.  I was still having some kind of issue with my liver that the doctors weren’t sure about, so I had a series of CT scans and MRI’s to watch that.  The surgeon didn’t want to be quick with another surgery.   I also developed a large bump on my belly which turned out to be an incisional hernia.  I would need to have surgery again, but it was safe to wait until after the May marathon.

Early in March during one of my speed workouts, my hip seized up and brought me to an immediate halt.  I was barely able to limp the three miles home that day.  I started physical therapy right away, as I couldn’t afford to lose time in my marathon training.  I was sidelined and became just a race shirt collector for the March race.  It was bittersweet to watch my husband cross the finish line without me, but I would never want to hold him back.

Over the next few weeks it became evident the marathon in May was not going to be an option for me either, so I went ahead and scheduled the hernia repair in April.  This would give my hip the time it needed to heal, while I was recovering from surgery, as now my focus shifted to the next race.  The next half marathon was in July.

The surgery ended up more involved than it was expected to be.  Not only did I have one hernia to repair, the surgeon said my belly had so many holes it looked like swiss cheese.  This made surgery number nine, the biggest and most painful one yet!

We did go to Cleveland in May.  Again, I added a really cool race shirt to my collection.  This was supposed to be my husband and I’s first marathon.   He still ran and I waited.  I was so proud of him as he crossed that finish line!  I posted the picture of him wearing his medal afterward with the caption, “I’m married to a marathoner!  Now that’s hot!”

photo (5)I was able to start training again around the middle of June, but was only able to walk the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon.  That was certainly better than having to sit on the sidelines and watch.   You can’t beat a birthday celebration in Napa either!  We had friends with us who had the idea to celebrate my 55th birthday by trying 55 different wines!  Challenge accepted, done and documented!

Eyes now focused on the next race in September, the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon.   Training once again was progressing well.  I felt good and my body was cooperating.  I still had to walk a good bit of the Oregon race, but I got to run part of it, too!

To make a long story a little shorter, the next setback to cut into my training was a knee injury.  That affected my November race, and I had to walk half of that one, too.

My knee was recovering and I was back in training.  Then I started having problems with my neck, which turned out to be bulging disks.  That’s where I’m at now.

Yesterday was the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Half Marathon and Marathon, here in Phoenix.  This was supposed to be my rescheduled, RocknRollHalffirst marathon.  I was only able to walk the half because of my neck issue.  My official time was 3:04:35, which is a pretty swift pace for a 13.1 mile walk!

My husband finished his second marathon yesterday.  He is amazing!  He has been so supportive of me through all of this.  I stopped working a few months after the big surgery and in spite of all the medical bills and co-pays that continue, he wants me to be healthy and happy and hasn’t asked me to go back to work.  I have been able to stay home and recover.  I’m now beginning to pursue things I love, one of them being something that’s dear to your own heart, which is loving people through kindness.  I’ve been taking steps to do volunteer work.  I’ve also started writing a blog, which is both therapeutic and enjoyable for me.  More importantly, I hope it can help and encourage others.

My husband loves his job, but he’s not only working, going to school and getting A’s, he’s running!  He’s running a lot!  Yes, once again we have a year of races already scheduled.  I hope to be able to start training, very soon now.  It will be another “start over”, but I’m determined.  I won’t give up!

So this pretty new hobby has not only made us fit, but it’s taken us to new places.  We learned that we can physically do much more than we ever thought we could!  We’ve been challenged and learned that we are mentally and emotionally stronger than we ever thought.  Our friends have been inspired to become more fit as they’ve watched us through this journey.

So why do I deserve to go to Australia?  I don’t feel I “deserve” anything, but I am grateful for everything.  I’ve always wanted to go to Australia and so has my husband.  How awesome would it be to be able to surprise my husband with a trip to Australia!  Not only would I want to go there.  I want to run there, together!  So, like the little donkey jumping up and down on Shrek, picture me.  I’m jumping up and down saying, “Pick me, Ellen!  Pick me!”

P.S.  Talk about inspiring, I’m inspired every time I watch your show!  I love the things you do for others!  It’s totally amazing and you’re awesome!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

I have a little update to the story since I wrote it.  I did see the Physical Therapist the same day I wrote that story.  He said that my neck feels much better and he gave the ok to start running again!  I have to be patient and take it slow and easy, but I hit the road for the first time yesterday and it was great!  I felt like a giddy little kid when I got home!  Coach gave me a new schedule.  He’d rather play it safe than be sorry, but he said he’s going to make me a machine.  This old lady, “a machine”!  Awesome!

When “Little” Becomes “Limitless”…

limitlessHere’s my personal pick for my tweet of the week:

“Typing the word “little” on my phone & auto correct changed it to “limitless”.
When little becomes limitless, that’s ok! Thanks autocorrect!”

Two words, “little” and “limitless” have become my theme this week.  How auto correct would ever change the word little to limitless is beyond me.  But when “little” becomes “limitless”, that’s more than ok.  It’s incredibly awesome!  I’ve thought about these words and how they apply to my life.  After last week’s blog post, Digging Deeper, Whatever It Takes, I’ve done some hard thinking about the things that I’ve felt were limiting to me.  I’ve come to realize that while my dreams may be big, my own thinking is still small.  My own “little” is keeping me from my “limitless”.

It was last Monday when I was typing the word “little” on my phone.  I was texting a few friends, asking for a “little” prayer.  I had started experiencing the familiar symptoms that have landed me in the hospital four times in the past, symptoms that have been the reason for two of my surgeries.  I’ve talked about this before in a post, I’m Not Average.”  Monday, I was preparing to go the hospital.  I really thought that by that night, I would be admitted.  I know how this goes.  I followed the doctors’ instructions to try and prevent another episode, which haven’t been successful previously.  I made it through that day with no hospital admission.  I’m happy to say that my symptoms have subsided a little more each day since, and today I feel back to normal!

I asked some friends for a “little” prayer last week, too.  I told you about the issue with bulging disks in my neck.  That’s been more than a little painful!  I’m happy to say that the pain has gotten better each day since!  It’s not completely gone, but I’ve been able to stop taking all the pain medication I was on.  And for those who know the story already, there is a good chance I can start running again next week!

As a child, my parents took me to church and taught me to believe in God.  Yes, they taught me, but I’m the one who had to learn what it meant to believe in a god.  Like every other person out there, I had to do my own searching and formulate my own opinion about who God was and what place he was going to have in my life.  If you’ve read any of my previous posts, I think you would agree that my life has been quite an adventure.  I would describe it as being a “better than a soap opera” kind of life.  These experiences have given me much opportunity for life lessons.  I’ve had lots of opportunity to let experiences make me bitter or better.  I chose to let them make me better and in the process, I did indeed form my own opinion of who God was and what place he was going to have in my life.

I think back on the Bible stories I heard as a child.  There were a couple times recorded in the Bible, when Jesus, God’s son, found loaves and fisheshimself in a remote location with large crowds gathered around to hear him speak.  They became hungry and there were no grocery stores nearby, so Jesus took the little that he had, like a few loaves of bread or a couple fish.  When he put his hand of blessing on it, the little became limitless!  He not only fed the thousands that were gathered.  They even had leftovers!

There was a widow that’s talked about in the Old Testament.  She was in debt up to her eyeballs and her two sons that were about to be made slaves to pay for her debt.  She asked a prophet if he could help her.  He asked her what she had.  The widow told the prophet that she had nothing except a “little” jar of oil.  The prophet asked her to do something quite odd, but amazingly, she listened to him and did it.  He told her to gather up all the empty jars that she could find, so she gathered every empty jar she had and even got all the neighbor’s jars.  Next she was to go inside her house and start pouring the small amount of oil from her little jar, into the big empty jars.  Can you imagine all the thoughts going through her mind about how crazy this was, as she did it?  I’m sure she expected it to take about two seconds for the oil in her little jar to run empty, but it didn’t!  She just kept pouring her little into her emptiness and every single jar was completely filled.  The oil didn’t stop flowing until there was nothing left to pour into.  Her little became limitless!  Her sons were saved from slavery and her debt was paid.

love limitlessThose are just a couple of the many, biblical examples of little becoming limitless.

Believe me when I tell you that in my own life, there have been many times when God made my “little” become “limitless”!  I hope you’ve caught that in my posts.  I don’t talk about God in most of my posts, but I believe that there have been many events that I consider to be “a God thing”.  Maybe they weren’t all good things, but God worked them together for good in my life.

I was inspired twice this week by video links posted by friends.  Both were of a man born with no arms or legs, Nick Vujicic.  Now this is indeed, a man who has what appears to be, very limiting factors in his life.  Yet, when you talk about someone who has overcome obstacles, he’s one of the best examples I’ve seen!  I’ve posted the links to these two video clips below.  Nick not only gets where he needs to go, which is challenging in itself, but he even swims, surfs and plays golf.  He is now a bestselling author and a motivational speaker who travels the world.  His first book was titled, “Life Without Limits”.  Nick is a perfect, real time example of “little becoming limitless”.  I look at his life and can’t help but be moved to let go of every excuse I’ve ever made!

There is one common denominator in each of these examples.  It’s the God Factor.  God was involved in the Bible stories, my own life and certainly in Nick Vujicic’s life.  It’s been quoted by several people, “The size of your God, determines the size of your goals.”  Through my own life lessons, I’ve come to believe with all my heart, that I’ve got a really, really BIG GOD!  I feel that I’ve spent much time exploring the aspects of his love, grace and mercy.  With each new obstacle I’ve bumped up against, I find His love, grace and mercy are there.  I have yet to find their limits.  But you know, I’ve stopped looking for limits.  “Little” is going to have very limited use in my vocabulary from here on out.  I’ve concluded that my God is big enough for whatever comes my way, that he is indeed, limitless!Gods treasure

The moral of this story:  If God is big enough for me and all the messes I’ve made, he can be big enough for you, too! 

Don’t look at your limitations.  Look at your limitless God.

http://t.co/z7yjTJg8