So…tomorrow is a Wednesday, the middle of the week, just an ordinary day. Except for the fact I start a program called the Whole 30, on the suggestion of my doctor to get myself out of the rut I’ve been stuck in. An entire month with no sugar, no grains, no dairy, no alcohol. I caught myself saying I’ll try, or maybe I can make it. Mostly I just say “it’s only 30 days”. According to everything I read it will change my life forever, on every level. Throw in training for a half marathon and I’ll either be a big ball of energy over the next three months, or I’ll be one grumpy momma. I’ve forewarned the family, although when the no diet coke, no potatoes, no bread tremors set in they will be quick to figure it out. Naps are mentioned as being beneficial during the Whole 30, so it can’t be all bad. I have no idea if I can run a half marathon in November, physically or emotionally. I still have a terrible phobia of running in front of other people. I like charts and lists and plans, so I have a shiny folder filled with things I’ve printed out. Notes I’ve made on what I don’t need to eat ( as if I can’t remember not to eat a ham sandwich) and how many miles I need to run on a given day to reach the ultimate goal of 13.1. I’m lucky, I’ve got some awfully supportive runners in my corner, friends and strangers alike. Life has been full of a lot of ups and downs the last few months, I think both programs will help me find some balance. Who knows, I just might surprise myself , in 30 days and again in November.
Growing up I was a swimmer, I definitely preferred distance over the short sprints. I’m a long haul kind of girl, even today. The 50 free was never my strong suit, I was respectable, but could never break the 30 second mark. That has always bugged me, that I couldn’t get down and back in less than 30. Now my goal is a 5k under 30 minutes. I’ve had a little sabbatical lately, some out my own laziness, most out of things beyond my control. I think no matter how old we get goals are important. Something to strive for and achieve. Even if I don’t crack the thirty minute mark though, I am happy to know that even at 43, I still have a little streak of competition in me. I can still learn something new, and benefit from it even on the days I am just plain too lazy to get out and run. In four weeks I have my first Red Dress Run in New Orleans. Yes, New Orleans, in August, in a red dress. Running shoes though thankfully, I can barely do high heels on a normal day,let alone try to run in them. It may be an epic fail, but I have no doubt it will be fun. My first half is in eighteen weeks. My positive side keeps cheering and clapping and saying you better start getting serious, my negative side is saying be happy you can run a 5k, you’ll never make a half. I’m built of sturdy stuff though, I’ve learned over and over I can physically do things I never thought possible. We are our own worst critics I believe, so a choice of which side to listen to must be made consciously. There’s been a lot of sadness lately in the lives surrounding mine, and I am reminded daily to keep looking forward. I am grateful for every sunrise, whether I run or not. Hopefully, I’ll one day be a little old lady, trotting off into the sunset. Maybe even under 30 by then.
A person I love dearly lost a child this week, unexpectedly, heartbreaking. Seventeen years ago, I lost my only brother when he was riding on his bike and hit by an old man who had no business driving. Six months ago, my estranged father died leaving twenty five years of unanswered questions. I will never know whether he even loved me after he left without a second glance, or was it made impossible for him to have a relationship of any kind with me. Every time something terrible happens I keep hearing the words God’s will, or God’s plan. If that helps someone sleep at night, then I understand grasping at anything to make the pain at least bearable, but God’s will? I don’t believe that. I believe accidents happen, a fragile human body fails itself. A person chooses to get behind the wheel of a car impaired and drive. I however don’t believe God in Heaven is spinning a giant bingo wheel and seeing whose number happens to come up at any certain time. We can’t have both free will and predestination. I believe we are given this life to live. The freedom to live it to the best of our ability or to squander it. To step on those as we scramble to the top, the top of what I don’t know, a bigger house, nicer car, more vacations, more houses. And each of those things can go away in an instant. Through death, loss of a job, loss of a marriage, some completely of our choosing, some out of our control. Feeling powerless to your circumstances is truly one of the most gut wrenching feelings in this world. It makes me sick, physically and emotionally. The quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” by Plato is one of my favorites. It doesn’t seem fair that your world can be turned inside out and yet everyone around you is carrying on as if it is business as usual. But then again, no one said life is fair. To my friend, I love you, I’ll be here when everyone slips back into their own worlds and the grief is still as stark and vicious as it right now. When it hits you, takes your breath for no reason. To the man that hit my brother, it was an accident. I forgive you, I will never forget though. To my father, you missed out, you were the parent, I was just a child but I am stronger for having to do it on my own, and I am a damn good parent as well.
As for the powerlessness, it too is a part of life. There will always be those with power, and those without. It’s time to breathe in, accept the things I cannot change, love those in my life with all my heart, and live life without fear. It’s going to pass whether I want it to or not. In joy and in sadness, life will pass. As long as the sun rises in the east we have another chance at redemption today.
There is a saying that we have three types of friends in this life. I like to think we have more, but I still believe they fall within those boundaries. There are some people that there is instant chemistry with. All walls come down, they see me as I am and love it. All my quirks and eccentric craziness. Some I’ve known for years and they’ve never scratched the surface, they see in me what they need to see. Then there are those that for a short moment we are friends, and that’s ok too. I believe everything happens for a reason, everyone we meet either teaches us, or teaches us a lesson. I’m loyal to a fault for those I love, and unfortunately, I easily walk away from those that I don’t feel accept me as I am. Life is to short to be unhappy, or to be with those that make us unhappy.
I’ve had a looong month or two, filled to the very brim with all sorts of road blocks and speed bumps. My running has limped along, quite pitifully actually, but still moving forward. Slowly. We’ve lost a four legged member of the family, had a few trips to work around, and a few days of just not feeling well. I got a phone call today that pushed me back firmly into the motivated camp, very out of the blue and incredibly welcome. The idea someone would give running a shot simply because I have tried as well is mind bottling ( yes, bottling…let’s see who gets that). Sometimes we are our so hard on ourselves, and it’s easy to forget it’s ok to take a break and step back now and then. My break is over, it’s time to step it up and start actually logging the long miles again. I’ve got a couple of short races in the near future, the near hot and humid and sticky future. My first half marathon is 18 weeks away, and for the first time instead of saying “I’m supposed to run a half”, I now am saying “I am running my first half.
Life is always going to be filled with pitfalls, speed bumps, and flat out disasters. It’s just part of life. It’s messy. It’s beautiful, and painful, sometimes at the same time. We have two choices. We stop at them, or we hop right over them.
I have been working awfully hard on my hopping ability!
Over the last few years, I have been trying to trace my roots, my heritage, to find a sense of self. I felt so very compelled to belong to something, come from somewhere. I don’t technically have a home town, being raised all over in the military. I don’t have a college alma mater, or a sorority tie, or a family church that we’ve had a family pew in for years. I tend to think of myself as a bit of a mutt, but not in a bad way. Traditions are wonderful, but often cause people to have such closed minds and closed hearts. Currently in our city, our two school systems are fighting over basically a turf war. There are generations of families being told they can no longer continue their educational tradition because of boundaries never before enforced. On my husband’s side, I can trace back hundreds and hundreds of years, to the Revolutionary War and beyond. On my own, I am stymied. I can find my parents, nothing more. No records, no hints, nothing. I tended to grasp at anything that would give me a link to the past, to a me before being a wife and a mother, regardless of the quality of the link. If it connected me to a time before the present me, I was grabbing it. It didn’t matter if it was good for me or caused me pain, I was willing to take whatever I might find. An incredibly wise friend recently told me “you don’t need a link”. It was like having Eeyore’s dark cloud lift away when I realized how very right she is. It doesn’t matter where I came from. It’s not as though I could have chosen my family, my history, my ancestors. I can, however, choose to create my history going forward. I have all the power in the world now to choose my friends, how my children are raised, where my travels take me. I have the choice to dwell on the past, or look forward to the future. I’ll still keep looking into my ancestors , just because I am curious to know where I might have come from, but if I never learn any more than I know right now, I am fine with that. I purposely cut many links from my past because they served no purpose. I don’t believe in having those in my life that cause drama and stress, or those whose presence is a constant reminder of hardship and heartache. I have so very much to look forward to, to link my future with those I adore, the ones that bring out the best in me. The family I have created is so perfect for me, and so much better than I deserve. I create my own traditions, accept people for who they are, not where they come from or what they might have in common with me. When I look at my true closest friends they are each and everyone so very different and I love them especially for their uniqueness. I was never meant to be a cookie cutter, nor do I want to be surrounded by them . I’ll never completely forget my past, because it allows me every day to send up a prayer to all that might be listening of thankfulness and amazement for all I have been given. To my friend that reminded me I didn’t need a link, you are at the top of my list of true originals, and you are perfect in my eyes.
Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too–even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie
The saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is very true. We all have what we consider beautiful, a certain look, body type, eye color, skin color. That quickly becomes irrelevant when we lay our hand on the other persons heart and we see them as they are. For years I’ve been divided into two people. The person I was prior to marriage, thin, young, naturally blonde and fearless. And the person that took her place chubby, blonde with the help of bleach, scared of everything. I’ve helicopter parented both children, only out of love and worry, the what if. I watched the end of football practice today, as I’ve done a million times. Boys if every size, shape, color, economic background. All wearing shorts and cleats. No shame, no worry, no fear the guy next to him will call him something unflattering. They are a team. They sweat together, hurt, suffer, and share in the wins and losses. They don’t judge. They don’t care who drives the nicest car, they speak when they see each other in the hall. They are beautiful to me. Every single one of them. My mentality for years has been when I lose weight I’ll be more popular, people will flock to be around me. I’ll have a dance card full of invitations. This has been a week of sou l searching for me, and I realized if I suddenly became part of the in crowd because my butt shrank a size or two I’m pretty sure those wouldn’t be my kind of people to begin with. I sat down and listed all the people that would devastate me if I lost them, and I couldn’t have come up with a more diverse group of people. Each and every one make me a better person. I hope in return I give them just a sliver of what they give me.
Those are the beautiful people to me. Those are the ones that ran with me 30 seconds and never made me feel embarrassed. The ones that look me directly in the eye and say you matter to me, Those are the beautiful friends that I hope always find joy even in the midst of heartache, because it will be there. Life is beautiful, it’s messy, and scary and uncertain. But it’s glorious as well. It’s all too short, so for me I want to inhale in, wrap it around me, run new roads, and live without fear. I’ll always worry about my kids, I gave birth to them I figure I get that right. But as far as being afraid to say the wrong thing, wear the wrong thing. Laugh too loud, no more. My life is mine to live on my terms, in my own version of beauty, for ever second I’m blessed with.
None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”
― Paulo Coelho, Brida
We all have skeletons in our closets. Some of us have them in our kitchens, bathrooms, under beds, behind doors, and even in the middle of the night standing vigil as we sleep. My skeletons come in the form of ghosts… Woulda, shoulda, coulda, and if only. The blame is easy, if my parents had done this or that, if I’d had the cool clothes or the right date to prom life would be golden. It’s time to lay my ghosts to rest, they have guarded me long enough. They’ve been my comfort and my wall of excuses. Each day we are fortunate enough to open our eyes to is fresh as clean. No mistake cannot be correct, no sin forgiven, and there is always love and kindness to share with the world. It could use a little more. It’s time for forgiveness, the past cannot be changed, we can look back and remember the good, learn from the bad, and be a better person going forward. There will always be tears and broken hearts and sadness, but there will also be unimaginable joy, and pleasure, and celebration.
Kiss the past good bye, or good riddance. Everyone that crosses your path has a lesson to learn, good or bad. Take it, use it, and love anyway.
Surround yourself with authentic people, those that stick. Those that have strength and courage and will hold your hand when you need it, or hold you close when you can’t bear to take another breath. Those are friends, they are family, and they are all that matter.
“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
― Lois Wyse
I grew up a military brat, I don’t remember setting foot on American soil until I was nearly 11. It’s hard to start school three weeks before winter break and expect to have friends instantly. Some people have an innate ability to never meet a stranger, some people keep up walls wrapped in concertina wire to keep people at a distance. I didn’t have engaged parents, as in active participants in my life. They showed up at my high school graduation because they were slightly obligated. It was just assumed once my brother and I reached a certain age we were more than capable of being on our own. I didn’t grow up with sleepovers, birthday parties, sorority sisters, or women friends to guide me into adulthood. I didn’t go to prom or have a bachelorette party, If memory serves my side of the church at my wedding held three people, and two were related. But I’m still here. This is by no means an exercise in self pity, it’s one about lessons I’ve learned along the way. I unfortunately tend to be a pessimist, but I have a gut that is unparalleled when it comes to knowing how things will turn out. I know tons of people, lots of acquaintances, but I can count on one hand those I trust. Those are the people to treat with love and respect and always know they’ve got your back. People will come in and out of your life, at different times, for different reasons. I believe they are meant to teach a lesson of some kind. Sometimes I am the lesson they might need. There’s a big uproar about A & F and their no fatties allowed ( yes, I’m a chubby girl so I can say that word). They only want the thin and beautiful to shop in their stores and wear there clothes. Small thing they might have overlooked…. the thin and beautiful teenagers often need the chubby mom to go with them to pay the bill.
My point on that is that we all have our struggles, it’s basic human need to want to connect, to belong, to fit in. Yes, we all want to be the cool kids in the cool clothes. If I delve into my closet and pull out the Louboutons, the expensive jeans, the cashmere sweaters, the expensive purse, I’m still me. I can play the country club wife, and sit on charity boards. I’d rather be the me that really likes flip flops, T-shirts and no makeup. I’m way past the age of needing anyone’s seal of approval. Man or woman. I’m still in love with my husband after almost a quarter of a century together, I’d give my life for my kids, and that handful of people I call friends, I’d give the shirt off my back, and a belt to a couple so you could wear it like dress. Bottom line, I’m all about quality, not quantity. I’d rather have one person I can trust without question, than a dozen to go out and pretend with. I’m comfortable in my skin, in my life, in my world. The question should never have been am I good enough to be someone’s friend. It’s are they good enough to be mine. That’s a friend to me, those that come into your life and never leave, no matter what.
In August of 1999, a little red ball of energy and incredible stubbornness entered our life. After one night in her crate she made it clear even at just a few pounds and a baby she was in charge. She has over the years slept where she wished, helped her daddy cook, looked in shock when her mother wandered into the kitchen, and loved without condition or limits, every single day. She loved her tennis balls, only to play with, never to fetch. Only dogs would do such a thing, and she was just another of the children. In the summers, she played in the pool, usually the top step only. Mostly she just loved to lay in the sun. As a young girl, she would occasionally make a mad dash to freedom and it took everything we had to chase her down, as she aged she was secure in knowing she didn’t need to make us chase her. For years on end she was my company during the day when everyone else was at school or work. I brought her home for my daughter after seeing her in a pet store. I’ll never forget her daddy saying is it the breed or is it “that dog”. It was that dog. Bridgette was meant to be a part of our lives and our family. It has been a wonderful fourteen years with my little red girl, and yesterday I held her in my arms one last time and said good-bye. I brought her into our home in my arms, and I held her as she left this earth, to gain her little angels wings, for whatever anyone may believe, if there is a heaven I am certain my girl is there with her tennis ball close by. Goodbye my darling girl, you were loved with everything we have, and are still. Love never leaves us, neither will you.