Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." -Dr. Seuss

December 31st....the last day of 2011.

It has been a long year - a year filled with highs and lows.  Something I suspect we all have.

That quote in the title summarizes a lot of what I have been feeling this year.  Sadness for a lot of wonderful experiences that ended - adventures with friends, a relationship, training for races, watching my children move on in life, friends moving to new cities, milestones coming and going ....but all in all, a ton of  wonderful memories to embrace!

We all have accomplishments - some of those may just have been making it through a particular day and others may have been completing a challenge we never thought we were capable of.   Some accomplishments were filled with sadness and regret....others with joy and triumph.

Regardless, we survived each high and each low.

As I reflect back upon the roller coaster ride I endured this year,  each one of those ups, downs, twists and turns were not accomplished alone.  I was surrounded by love and support from old and new friends - many made through my involvement with LIVESTRONG, others through random meetings (again, I truly believe things in life happen for a reason), and many others virtual strangers.

I appreciate each and everyone of you - my blog readers, my #plankaday partners, my running friends, my LIVESTRONG friends, my partners in crime (you know who you are), those that have known me since grade school (and unfortunately have the pictures to prove it), those I work with, and those that only know me from social media.  Without each of you, I would not have survived the lowest lows in life or have the successes I was blessed with this year.

I welcome 2012 with open arms....and although I will continue running for LIVESTRONG, I am considering 2012 as the Year of the Bike.  Yes, a new challenge....and one that scares the daylights out of me.  But, my focus will be in cycling....with a few half marathons thrown in for cross-training.  More to come! 
 
As I scoured my list of favorite quotes, I couldn't find just one that summarized how I am feeling as a new page begins at midnight.  So, I am sharing several....as my parting comments for 2012.

And one last comment from Barb for 2012 ~
....instead of celebrating tonight at midnight, consider celebrating each and every midnight....reflect upon the successes/fails of each day, have gratitude and create a goal/resolution for the new day to come!  CELEBRATE LIFE!!

“Begin at once to live and count each separate day as a separate life.” -Seneca

"The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment." -Pema Chodron

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." -Charles Swindoll

"If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us." -Daisaku Ikeda

"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant." -Robert Louis Stevenson

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Your outlook on life is a direct reflection on how much you like yourself." -Lululemon

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” -Pericles

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"It Is Not the Length of Life, But Depth of Life" - a tribute to Sean

My guest blogger is my LIVESTRONG friend I made while running the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge 5K in 2010.  Those that know us find it amazing that we only met a little over one year ago....but it is as though we have been friends for life. I have never laughed so hard as I have when I am around Christine.....to the point that my belly aches and I have almost fallen off my bike.She is one of my many sounding boards, a major component of my LIVESTRONG support system....and a CANCER HATER!

What follows is a euology she delivered yesterday at the funeral of her friend Sean, who fought bravely against cancer but ran out of time.  

What she shares applies to each and everyone of us.  Take a look at your own life - are you living it fully?


It is not the length of life, but depth of life.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take good care of your body.
Your body is the greatest tool you'll ever own. It impacts every step you take and every move you make. Nourish it, exercise it, rest it.

Spend as much time as possible with the people you love 
 Human beings are emotional creatures.  Family and close friends makeup the core of your emotional support system.  The more you nuture them, the more they will nuture you.

"I would not be anywhere else than with my child who was desperately sick and fighting for his life. Every night and most days I stayed with him, watching him battle to live. Finally the day before he lost his battle, he looked at me and said 'my poor mommy'"

Be a part of something you believe in
This could be anything. Some people take active role in their council, some find refuge in religious faith, some join social clubs supporting causes they believe in, and others find passion in their careers.  In each case the psychological outcome is the same. They engage themselves in something they strongly believe in. This engagement brings happiness and meaning into their lives.

"Sean was going to be an honorary chair of the 2012 American Cancer Society's Daffodil Days campaign. It was something he was excited to get involved with. The campaign will now be dedicated to his honor."

Excel at what you do 
There's no point in doing something if you aren't going to do it right. Excel at your work and excel at your hobbies. Develop a reputation for yourself, a reputation for consistent excellence.

"Sean never saw limitations w/his niece Morgan Stephanie. He never thought about what she couldn't do, never talked about what her limits would be. He only imagined what she could accomplish. He saw no boundaries in life only the possibility of completing anything. I published my Livestrong ride of 2008 on Facebook and Tracey told Sean she wanted to run the 5k in his honor. He said I want to do it with you. She told him she would walk w/him, but he insisted on jogging and he crossed the finish line receiving his yellow rose RUNNING all smiles."

Be self-sufficient
Freedom is the greatest gift. Self-sufficiency is the greatest freedom.

"Freedom to Sean could have been being on an open road, starting, stopping, choosing a route to drive.  It could be from 2009 to 2011 when he was in remission of cancer.  I hope that it is now, being free of pain, free of cancer, and free of being scared.  I know in my heart that I will always miss and long for my brother and husband, but again freedom.  I am free to love him, free to replay all of my memories, free to know I will someday meet w/him again."

Build a comfortable, loving household 
Home is where the heart is. Your home should be comfortable and lined with love. It should be a place that brings the whole family together.

"A house is not a home until it is filled with love. Each and every home Sean entered, lived in, or visited was instantly a home."

Respect elders. Respect minors. Respect everyone
There are no boundaries or classes that define a group of people that deserve to be respected. Treat everyone with the same level of respect you would give to your grandfather and the same level of patience you would have with your big brother or husband.

"Sean was kind to every person he met, whether young or old, rich or poor. He treated others the way he would expect his sisters or wife to be treated. Sean always had the patience of a saint, it showed through the loving relationships he had with his nieces and nephews."

Mix it up. Try different things
 Seek as many new life experiences as possible and be sure to share them with the people you love. After all, your life's story is simply a string of experiences. The more experiences you have, the more interesting your story gets.

Take full ownership of your actions
 Either own up to your actions or your actions will ultimately own you.

Listen more. Talk less
The more you listen and the less you talk, the more you will learn and the less you will miss.

"Sean loved in the last few months, the people who just came to talk.  He listened intently and loved the talking."

Savor the natural joys of simple pleasures
They come in the form of simple pleasures and they appear right in front of you at various locations and arbitrary times.  They are governed by Mother Nature and situational circumstance and captured by mindful awareness.  It’s all about taking a moment to notice the orange and pink sunset reflecting off the pond water as you hold hands with someone you love.  Noticing these moments and taking part in them regularly will bring unpredictable bursts of happiness into your life.

"It is really a shame that we sometimes need a life changing event to help us appreciate moments in our lives. Sometimes the silver lining that comes from the passing of a friend or loved one is the realization that our time in this world is not infinite. We need to savor every moment that our lives afford us the opportunity to experience. Sean lived his life this way. He taught us to take every chance, dance every dance and live EVERY moment. In just the last few years, Sean experienced so many great things that should inspire us to LIVE FOR THE MOMENT. Whether it was starting his own business or supporting cancer research, he did it with an enthusiasm and passion that was unmatched. We are all blessed to have known Sean and I hope we are all inspired by his courage and positive attitude to enjoy every moment life has to offer. I know we will all live our lives SeanSTRONG."

Leave time for spontaneous excursions
Sometimes opportunity knocks at unexpected times. Make sure you have enough flexibility in your schedule to respond accordingly.

"Growing up my son, Sean always would say 'dad look at that truck going down the road.' As Sean began driving he would work around trucks. Before you knew it, Sean called me to say 'I got a job driving a tractor trailer for some company and I'm going to Delaware tomorrow.' I said Go for it! That was the start, then came California and British Columbia and it never stopped."

BE HERE NOW
Right now is the only moment guaranteed to you. Right now is life. Don't miss it.

A Word of Consolation
If a tiny baby could think, it would be afraid of birth. To leave the only world it had known would seem a kind of death. But immediately after birth the child finds itself in loving arms, showered with affection and cared for at every moment.

Passing through death is really a birth into a new and better world.  Those who are left behind should not grieve as if there were no hope.  Life is changed, not taken away.  Our dear ones live on, in a world beautiful beyond anything we can imagine.
There they await the day when they will welcome us with joy.

In Sean's Own Words.-When he was re-diagnosed- "I am positive I can defeat this again. I have a lot of support of friends & family 24/7! Keep you posted! LIVESTRONG!"
'Sean NEVER gave up, he simply ran out of time, he simply ran out of time.'

Monday, December 26, 2011

Generosity

Generosity is often hidden most of the year - unfortunately.  Perhaps we are just too busy to notice it throughout the non-holiday season.

I hope that I haven't overlooked any gestures of generosity towards me....and if I have, please accept my sincere apologies.  I am so very appreciative of the thoughtfulness others have bestowed upon myself and my children.  We have been the recipients of so many acts of kindness over the years. 

The past three years, you have all been very generous with your wallets - helping me raise close to $35,000 for an organization that has been very generous to me - LIVESTRONG.

This morning after receiving a gift from my children of uninterrupted sleeping in (thank you!), the Facebook airwaves were filled with notifications of a very generous bit of news.   An anonymous donor has offered to match EVERY LIVESTRONG  donation until the end of 2011, up to $100,000.

Wow!

This is my opportunity to give back to an organization that has provided so much hope to my family....that has helped me to survive some very awful periods of depression and sadness due to the lack of generosity cancer provided me when stealing loved ones from me.....the sense of community this organization has created and I have been lucky to be a part of.....the list goes on and on....the programs LIVESTRONG supports for those fighting cancer, those having won their battle, and those grieving
 - LIVESTRONG at the Y, Camp Kesem, the LIVESTRONG Navigation Center....the list goes on and on.
Check out more information on how LIVESTRONG provides support and uses our donations  http://livestrong.org/What-We-Do/Our-Actions/Programs-Partnerships

I am making a donation today.....and hope you will join me so we can take advantage of a stranger's generosity...and in turn, our generosity will allow LIVESTRONG to continue their generosity to those needing support during a difficult time in their lives.

Please join me  by making a donation using the link below:

Have your donation MATCHED today!

A heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you for your generosity to me, your support, your kind words and gestures this year as I have encountered ups and downs.   

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What LIVESTRONG Means to Me - by Rachel, 8 year old cancer hater

Today is Christmas Eve and as I was snuggled on the couch with my 8 year old daughter Rachel, we started talking about LIVESTRONG.  What follows is Rachel's words.   From my family to all of you - hope you have a joyous holiday season!





LIVESTRONG means to me -

  • killing cancer

  • thinking of my dad

  • not letting anything stop me

  • friends and family

  • helping others 

  • giving hope to other people

  • donating to help people fight cancer


    LIVESTRONG helps me be stronger without my dad.

    LIVESTRONG helped me go to Camp Kesem and meet other kids like me.

    LIVESTRONG helps my family because we have a lot of friends that LIVESTRONG.

    Marry Christmas to all!

    Rachel

    Want to help Rachel and I keep kicking cancer to the curb?  Consider joining us at the Philly LIVESTRONG Challenge on the Friends Fighting Cancer team in August or make a donation to our efforts
    RunningSTRONG for Hope & Hula Hooping for Hope to benefit LIVESTRONG

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    The New Compliment - Intimidating

    "Are you intimidated by me? Because if you're intimidated by me, that's something you'll have to deal with."


    I had a very interesting discussion with a great friend the other day.....and we came to a conclusion about how I am perceived by others after our spontaneous conversation over coffee.   And to be honest, it wasn't the first time I have wondered this....or others have suggested it.

    Wondering what we talked about, huh?

    We determined that people are potentially intimidated by me.

    Not as in being a bully but that my independent nature and circumstances causes men to find me intimidating.

    Really?


    I wish some people would put more thought into why individuals are the way they are instead of just making assumptions about them.

    OK, what follows is a sarcastic rant (maybe that's why I'm often perceived as intimidating - ha ha).


    When my battery dies on my car, guess what....I have to deal with it.

    When the bills need to be paid, guess what....I have to deal with them.

    When my kids get into trouble, guess what....I have to deal with it.

    When the snow needs to be shoveled, guess what....I have to deal with it.

    When we travel, guess what.....I need to pack the car, I need to make the arrangements, I need to do the driving, I need to fill the tank, I need to plan the "potty stops", I need to map the route, I need to figure out where we are if we get lost.....I have to deal with it all.

    I am not "dealing with all this" because I want to....but because I HAVE to.....my life has become full of HAVE too's.....there are no choices, there are no decisions or dividing the duties down the line.  There is no shared custody and every other weekend free.

    My widower friends (my father was one of these men) are not considered "intimidating".....I think women take pity on them.....how awful that they need to do laundry, bake cookies for school, do the grocery shopping, clean the house, make dinner.

    Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, a woman who lost her spouse is considered intimidating. 

    Really, who do these people think is going to do all this stuff?

    Intimidating is such an AWFUL description of my situation.  As much as I dislike always being considered strong - because I really am not - strong is not an offensive description.

    I think I speak for all widows/widowers out there - as far as I am concerned,  widows/widowers are the best catches out there.  We are single because an accident, an illness, an  unfortunate event ended our loving relationship.  We are not "needy" - we are capable of being independent when necessary.  We have limited free time but appreciate that time - and it give the other party an opportunity to have some guilt free time to themselves.

    What a shame that there are a lot of  individuals out there that are missing out on scores of great catches because they are "intimidated" by our situation or independent nature.  Too bad that being "needy" is more appealing.  I am a fabulous woman who yes, is a bit opinionated and a bit strong-willed, but am capable of wanting companionship for more than someone to handle my household tasks.


    Thank goodness all those "I need to take care of you" overbearing men find me intimidating.....I don't need to be "taken care of."

    So, perhaps intimidating, although it can be construed as offensive, is a great way to weed out those that can't appreciate a fabulous gem if it were placed on a silver platter directly in front of them.

    Of course, I won't be crying about this.....that would ruin my reputation and I certainly don't want to be labeled needy, weepy or weak!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Planking, Planking, Planking.....Planking for LIVESTRONG

    Even Santa Planks!
    I started doing this PlankaDay thing on Twitter a few months ago to strengthen my back and core....started out doing one a day for 30 seconds....worked my way up to 3 minute planks.....then started adding some side planks, etc.  Boy does it work....65 miles on the bike in Austin last October and no back pain....NYC Marathon in November and no back pain those last few miles.
    The Twitter Plankaday movement includes the Plank Police.....and believe me, you'll be called out on Twitter if you don't get in your plank each day.  Just what I need.  Perfect to keep me motivated.  Check it out and consider joining in on the fun! Plank-a-Day Revolution
    I have already completed more than 100 planks for December and decided it is time to use my planking for good.....to help more than my core and back....to support LIVESTRONG.
    But I need your help.
    I have a challenge for all of you.....just like I do all the running for my marathons, I'll do all the planking.  BUT, you get to decide how MANY planks I do.
    I will do as many planks next week based upon the donations made to my LIVESTRONG 2012 account (I'm currently training for the LIVESTRONG Austin Half Marathon in February).
    Any amount of donation counts.  The number of donations, not the dollar amount, determines the number of planks completed.
    Any donation between $1.00 and $9.00 = 1 plank
    Any donation $10 or greater = 2 planks
    Use this link to make a donation and get me planking http://laf.livestrong.org/goto/BarbaraSimmons
    Be quick though.....don't delay.  This special offer to make me suffer with loads of planks ends at midnight Saturday. 
    Oh, and don't forget.....this is considered a 2011 TAX DEDUCTION! A win-win for everyone involved!!!

     

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Fa la la la la.....It's Time for New Traditions

    A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.  ~ Garrison Keillor
    Compulsory?

    The definition of compulsory is obligatory; required by a law or a rule.

    Christmas as compulsory?  Is Christmas required by rule?  Is it obligatory?


    I never thought of Christmas as anything more than a time of joy, a period of gathering with loved ones, of fun filled excitement.  

    As a child, I have memories of anxiously awaiting Santa's arrival, baking cookies with my sister Janet, going to the Cathedral for the Christmas Eve children's service, thinking every red light in the air was Rudolph, large family gatherings on Christmas day, family Cribbage tournaments, and finishing up the holiday with a family tradition of cards using my Dad's homemade game board and pennies for our wagers.
     
    As a teen, I remember watching the awe of Christmas from my niece and nephews eyes, the excitement of Christmas for myself somewhat passed but still loving the large gatherings of my family, the tradition of Christmas caroling through my neighborhood with my high school field hockey team (I'm not sure how that tradition started but we did it every year while in high school).  The college years were filled with Secret Santa, studying for finals, and coming home.  Christmas meant meeting up with all my high school friends again.

    Once I graduated, Christmas was filled with memories of Brian.....and our own traditions.  As our family grew, we added more traditions.  But, then Brian passed away....and so did many of those traditions.


    Once Brian passed away - just a few years after my sister and father passed - Christmas no longer was joyous to me.  

    Christmas became compulsory....and obligation.  As it still does.  If it weren't for my children, I am not sure I'd even celebrate the holidays.....I'd just put my head down and move forward as quickly as possible.

    We began new traditions - with friends and within our home.

    But, in reality, Christmas has begun to be a chore for me.  Maybe it is because the boys are getting older and aren't as excited.  However, celebrating without Brian, Janet, my father, my bother-in-law Frank....and having large family gatherings I grew up with.....makes me indifferent about Christmas.

    If I had the choice, I'd skip it all together.  I would go on a trip.  I would not decorate.  I wouldn't do any shopping.

    Reality....I finally got around to decorating my house today.  The last one on the street with any lights and with a tree.  I am certain they wondered what was wrong with me....just like they probably wonder when I am going to get around to raking my leaves, mowing my yard or weeding.  It isn't that I don't want to do those things or that I am not lazy.....it is because I am not motivated.  Widows still grieve at the holidays - regardless of how long it has been.

    Today the tree was put up and decorated - by my daughter and I.  The teenage boys no longer have interest in participating.  Rachel has no memories of Christmas with her father.  I missed the reminiscing with my older son as he recognized Brian's ornaments.....and both Brian and Jay's favorite - Prancer playing basketball.  After I mentioned this to Rachel, we decided to honor Brian by placing a LIVESTRONG band on his favorite ornament.....a new tradition I suppose! 



    I want Christmas to be joyous but it is difficult.....as I am sure it is for many.  I am pretty sure we are all missing someone or something - either a loved one or an important tradition.  


    I wonder what memories my children will have?  

    Perhaps this year we will come up with a new Christmas tradition.....I'm going to put some though into this.  Something new so Christmas won't continue to be so difficult.  So it isn't something I dread.  So it isn't a chore.

    Don't get me wrong - I love the celebration....love the festivities.....love the decorations.....love the music....love the meaning....love the joy.....but I just don't feel it anymore.

    No, I am not the Grinch....I am not filled with "Bah Humbug."

    I am a widow.....and cancer has taken the joy out of Christmas. 

    As you celebrate your holidays, think about those around you that have had an unfortunate change this year....or years past.   Nothing extraordinary needs to be done but perhaps add them to your address list for a card, invite them to a gathering, offer to entertain the kids so they can wrap presents or finish up shopping, see if they need assistance "building" that special gift, offer to assist with getting the decorations out of the basement/attic, invite them to a day of baking, a cup of coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop.  All these have been offered to me by others over the years - and all have added "joy" to my holidays.  Sometimes a little gesture is all that is needed to get in the spirit.


    I can feel the dread already going away slightly just by writing this....as I sit in the glow of my Christmas tree.  

    Happy Holidays!

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Stuck....

    ....in a rut.

    One of those ruts that come along with winter.

    The early darkness to start nighttime before I leave work.

    The wind howling outside.

    Darkness in the morning when my alarm goes off.

    Coldness surrounding the air outside the cocoon of my bed.

    Much to easy to pull my toasty warm blankets over my head than get out of bed.

    Stuck in a rut.

    I suppose some of this rut is due to the change of seasons....the clocks turning back...the darkness and cold..

    But, I suppose most of it is because I accomplished my goal for the year.

    I set out to run half marathons and marathons all year long to raise money and awareness for LIVESTRONG.

    And I did it.

    Some people thought I was crazy.  How in the world would I do that?  How would I fit in the training with three kids?  I was determined....and I had made my goal public.....so no way, no how I wasn't going to attempt it.

    Yes, I was successful.  But a drawback of this success is being in a rut.  I am a little tired of running.  And, without a big goal ahead of me, it is difficult to get motivated to be training (although my waistline getting tight on all my pants is certainly a bit of motivation).

    I do have a half marathon scheduled in February - the LIVESTRONG Austin Half  - so actually I do have something to train for....but February seems so far off when I have had a race each month.

    And then there is that typical rut I get into after each marathon I have ever run......

    which tend to be in the fall....

    and after I take a few weeks off to recover.....

    winter has set in....

    and BAM....I am in a rut.

    This week was going to be the start of my breaking free from the rut.

    After eating my way through Thanksgiving, I got in a very satisfying 5 mile run last Friday....spent some time in the weight room....and another 5 miles on Monday.

    My plan was to run another 3 or 5 miles tonight.

    But then life got in the way......gymnastics and circus practices....a promise to go pick out paint for a little girl's bedroom.....dinner.....helping with homework.

    Suddenly, the night got away from me.....it too late for a run....and my butt is back in the rut.

    SOOOO........my goal tomorrow......

    is to set my alarm.....

    place it in my bathroom.....

    and when it goes off.....

    I will have NO choice but to get out of bed.

    My workout clothes will be set out right next to my alarm.....staring me in the face.....guilting me into working out....

    with the sign below taped on the bathroom mirror -



    Time to become a morning person again.....and I am going to use all the tricks necessary to trick myself.

    Keep me honest folks!

    Oh - and if you are interested in joining me in Austin this February, consider joining the Team LIVESTRONG team - I can guarantee you that running for such a great cause will be an amazing experience.  Check it out!  Join TEAM LIVESTRONG


    12/1/11 Follow-up - Yes, I did get out of bed....and yes, I did get to the gym.  Roughest 3 mile run I've done in a long time.  Although my mind was awake, I don't think my body was quite awake yet.  Gonna take some time to adjust to running in the morning but already I am loving the benefits of it.  Love starting the day off  having accomplished something before anyone else has plans for my time.

    Please keep me honest....and if you see me over the next few weeks, ask me how my morning workouts are going!

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    277 Miles....plus some

    What started out as a jaunt to Las Vegas by myself....to prove to myself that I could make plans alone....I was capable of being the strong, independent woman my father raised me to be.....became a 277 mile journey...

    13.1 down the Vegas strip...


    13.1 around a speed skating rink in Wisconsin....



    26.2 through the streets of LA and Santa Monica in a monsoon....



    13.1 alongside a dear LIVESTRONG friend up and over the three rivers in Pittsburgh....



    13.1 into 40 MPH winds with the Big 10 Illini fans cheering me on.....



    16 biking as the middle leg of the LIVESTRONG Chics 3rd annual triathlon relay....




    13.1 at a black flagged inaugural Summerfest Half in Milwaukee....

    45 miles in the rain up and down the hilly Philly countryside.....



    20 miles in the shadows of Mt Hood to dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean over 30 hours with 5 new LIVESTRONG BFF's - and leaving behind roadkill.....



    13.1 making new friends as I traveled from Illinois to Iowa and back again.....with a stop for the best milkshake I have ever had as my reward....


     65 miles through Texas Hill Country with my incredible LIVESTRONG friend - and fellow honorary sheriff...

    ...not before I rode alongside Lance Armstrong - a private ride donated to me by some very cool cancer-hating friends


    and finally......26.2 rocking a Movember MO through the 5 boros of NYC.....alongside some amazing cancer-hating LIVESTRONG runners.



    Since last December....277 miles ran and biked to benefit LIVESTRONG....to honor those who ran out of time and we lost to cancer.....to honor those still putting up a gallant fight to cancer.....and those still at our side as survivors having knocked cancer out.

    279 miles if we count the 2 miles I floated through the air after jumping out of a plane above the cornfields in Central Illinois.  And countless more miles training.....



    No, I didn't exactly meet my goal of a half marathon each month - I missed February because of conflicts and had one scheduled for June but it was the same day I dropped my daughter off at Camp Kesem - a camp for kids that have or had a parent with cancer.....I think very valid reasons.....but I still surpassed my original goal of 200 miles......TAKE THAT CANCER!

    I cannot thank each and everyone of you enough for your support this past year.  The friendships I created throughout this experience - from the two new friends I met on the plane ride to Vegas to the two I met in the corral on State Island...and all in between.  You all inspired me to keep going when times got rough this year.

    Oh, and let's not forget the close to $11,500 raised for LIVESTRONGWOW!

    And to top it all off, I was selected as the Pan The Man SUPERLATIVE winner for the month of July and was honored to be used as a widow that defines thriving in the video created  below by Embrace Life Winner, Michelle Neff Hernandez.




    I've been asked quite a bit what's next.  Well, I've taken a few weeks off to rest and back at it this weekend.

    Maybe cycle more?  Maybe tackle more local events?  Maybe hula hoop a few 5Ks with the cancer hating red head?

    What do you all think?  What should I do in 2012 to support my LIVESTRONG fundraising efforts?  What do you want to see me accomplish??

    But what should I do for 2012?

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Thanksgiving Thoughts

    "The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be." -Shakti Gawain

    I write this as my Thanksgiving turkey is stuffed, seasoned and roasting in the oven; homemade cranberry sauce simmering on the stove and an apple pie cooling on the counter with the sounds of the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade in the background - and the glee in my daughter's voice as Santa makes his arrival in NYC.

    It is a quiet Thanksgiving this year - no family visiting and no travel.  Just myself and the kids.  But quite an enjoyable day so far cooking, relaxing and best of all....no pressure - easy to please 3 kids with the Thanksgiving basics.

    However, this is far different than Thanksgivings of my youth - as the youngest of a blended family (9 kids - our own version of the Brady Bunch) holidays were always filled with noise, games, laughter and lots, lots of food.   Once I married Brian and moved to Philadelphia, Thanksgiving was spent with friends or sometimes travel to visit family in Rochester. Until the Thanksgiving I was pregnant with Jay.  Brian suggested we spend the holiday at the Outer Banks and enjoy our last holiday without the craziness (and joy) of kids in one of our favorite places - the beach.  So, we packed up our Thanksgiving feast and began a  tradition that lasted through the birth of all our children as well as our move to the Midwest. 

    Until Brian passed away.

    Walking the Outer Banks beach one of many Thanksgivings
    Brian & Rachel that last Thanksgiving

    The last Thanksgiving the kids and I shared with Brian was at the beach.  The following few years were spent with my family in Rochester, Brian's family in Tennessee and the last few years in Bloomington.  My oldest is now a junior in high school and for the third consecutive year will be performing in his high school Madrigal performance this weekend.  No opportunity to travel very far because of these performances - but I do love seeing him perform (he is quite talented - something he inherited from his father's side of the family as my family has no singing talents what-so-ever).

    I think I am ready to start this tradition again.  I think it would be good for my soul to be there again....a moving on....and an opportunity to revisit a life I loved with Brian.  His ashes were scattered off the coast of the Outer Banks, and as a family, we have not been back there since that day.

    I miss Brian quite a bit - especially around the holidays - but I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of his life.  To have memories with him....and to see him in our children.

    As with every Thanksgiving, it is tradition to reflect on what we are thankful.  Here goes:
    • My children - although at times they drive me crazy (think two teenage boys and a red-headed daughter that hasn't fallen too far from the tree) I love them dearly.  It is difficult being the only parent but they understand the difficulties and I know they are appreciative of our struggles.  As I find gratitude each night before going to bed, all three consistently make the list for a variety of reasons.  My life would be 100% different without them - perhaps some days would be easier but in the whole scheme of life, I would never have been able to move forward as I have without the three of them at my side.
    • My family - we are not the closest of families - I think due to the circumstances in our lives - and it doesn't help that I live halfway across the country.  But, I know that if I need something, all I need to do is pick up the phone and I can count on my sisters, brother, nieces and nephews to be there for us. 
    • My in-laws - Brian's family has been a blessing to me.  One would think that perhaps it would be difficult for them to be around the memory of their son and brother (I recall my grandmother not being able to be around us after my own mother passed away because it brought too much pain to her).  My mother-in-law and her husband are like parents and friends to me....a major void in my life with the passing of my own father 8 years ago. There isn't anything they wouldn't do for me and the kids.
    • My health - yes....very important item to be thankful for.....even more so that I am the only parent.  I can't even tell you how concerned my kids get whenever I have a doctor appointment....all routine annual visits of course....but I understand them being concerned.....and extremely grateful that I am healthy.
    • My friends - this one is a given.  I can't list you all but without each and everyone of you, my children and I would be lost!  You provide me laughter, support, a shoulder to lean on,the necessary kick in the pants,  the opportunity to cry without feeling sorry for me, shelter for my children with I need a break - or off running my marathons, accepting me as I am (the craziness, the goofiness, the sadness, the directness etc).  I could go on and on....but that would be another blog entirely!
    • My children's successes - My kids have definitely been dealt a raw deal in life.....but that hasn't stopped any of them in being successful in life.  All three are very unique individuals, all have their strengths, and the word "can't" isn't part of their vocabulary - except when asked to do chores around the house I suppose.
    • The LIVESTRONG community - without this organization, my life would be completely different.  The friendships I have made over the past three years has added so much to my existence.  I cannot imagine any of the friends I have made through these experiences not being a part of my daily life.
    • My blog readers - I appreciate your support as I often use this space as a free therapy session....appreciate your willingness to read my rants and raves....appreciate your understanding and comments regarding my achievements and difficulties.
    • My LIVESTRONG donors - I am incredibly thankful and overwhelmed at the generosity of my friends, family and strangers in supporting my efforts for LIVESTRONG.  This year we raised over $11,000 for close to $35,000 the past three years.  This is something that is near and dear to me, so your support is something I am very appreciative of each and everyday. 
    The theme in this list - the people in my life.....bringing the LIGHT into my soul.

    Rachel is busy making a Thanksgiving concoction in the kitchen....so I asked her what she is thankful for:
    • Her dad
    • Me
    • Our friends 
    A Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.  May the friends and family in your life provide you with light needed for you to shine each!


    What are you thankful for this year?

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    RunningStrong for Hope: What is Holding Us Back.

    RunningStrong for Hope: What is Holding Us Back.: "It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." This quote was shared by a new friend I made this yea...

    What is Holding Us Back.





     
     
    "It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." 
     
    This quote was shared by a new friend I made this year through my participation in Team LIVESTRONG.
     
    How very true this is for all of us.  How often we focus on what we need to improve, what we lack – or perceive we lack, what others have made us feel about ourselves.
     
    I am certain if we all took time to reflect on that quote as it applies to us individually, we could all come up with a long list of what we think we are NOT and those we wish we were.
     
    My wish list….
     
    • I wish I was more organized
    • I wish I was more of a planner
    • I wish I was a faster runner
    • I wish I was physically stronger
    • I wish I didn't always speak my mind so freely
    • I wish I was more ambitious
    • I wish I was a better mom
    • I wish I was a better friend
    • I wish I was a better sister
    • I wish I was less frazzled.
     
    The list could go on and on and on.
     
    Wow….a lot of negativity on that list.….and I am sure I'm being hard on myself but aren't we all?  These "wishes" have held me back at times….but why?  Some of them are just fruitless to ever attempt – for example, being organized.  I have tried….and I have come to the conclusion that some people are very organized and others are not.  I, unfortunately, fall into that later category.  However, as I reflect, I realize that at some point, I was organized…..somehow over the years, with each child, with each additional responsibility on my plate, I have become less organized and definitely without a doubt more frazzled.  But, somehow it all gets done in the end….perhaps not the way I wish my super organized and with-it friends do it….but it gets done.
     
    Perhaps that makes me more flexible, more of a free spirit?  Hmmm….perhaps that explains the lack of a planning gene in me.   Some may beg to differ that I don't plan – for goodness sake I just completed a year of races and travel without a hitch – but when I do have plans, they are very loose plans.  Again….I don't like a rigid schedule….I like flexibility….and I love it even more when someone is willing to make all the plans.  Just tell me when and where I need to be! 
     
    A great recent example that would drive many of my friends crazy.  On my recent trip to NYC, I really didn't have an agenda with the exception of going to the Marathon Expo, running the marathon, and the Team LIVESTRONG event afterwards.  My son and I had a list of sights and experiences we wanted in NYC, but none were on a schedule….none were set in stone….and because of this, some were checked off, others were not, and still others were added.   No set plan?  No worries….we still managed to have fun and because that's the way I roll, we were never stressed about our schedule.  In one instance, my son picked a museum he wanted to tour but when we arrived, it was closed.  What to do now? Well, we just jumped in a cab and quickly moved on to the next item on our list.  No worries!  And no regrets!
     
    I suppose every mom, dad, friend, sister, brother,  husband, and wife feels they could do better for the other party of their relationship.    But, in the eyes of the recipient of those relationships, do they really view us as terrible moms (well let's not survey the teens), dads, friends, sisters, brothers, husbands or wives?  Perhaps in the moment, some of them do, but when they reflect back on their lives, will our "terrible" status – especially to our children – really have been that awful?  Or would it have assisted in developing independent, caring successful members of society?  I hope so!  Sure, on a personal level,  my being stretched too thin has definitely created some opportunities which under different circumstances I would have handled differently.  I cannot necessarily change my circumstances, but I can adjust my standards…..and accept them.
     
    How should I view myself?
    • Independent
    • Caring
    • Full of life
    • Willing to stand for my convictions
    • Devil's advocate
    • Flexible and adaptable
    • Willing to take on challenges
     
    Had you told me 5 years ago I would raise over $30,000 for LIVESTRONG, become an advocate and mentor for other LIVESTRONG participants, run marathons and half marathons (or even a 5K for that matter), take up cycling, write a blog and share my innermost thoughts with strangers…..I would have most definitely told you that you were crazy.
     
    Think back over the past few years…..I'm sure we have all accomplished activities and taken risks we never would have thought we would ever do in a million years.   We certainly didn't accomplish these goals because of our list of shortcomings. 
     
    Now, pat yourselves on the back for a job well-done….a life lived fully.  And let's all vow to start defining ourselves by our ABILITIES….not what we think we CANNOT do..…and KEEP living life fully!
     

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    It Is What It Is

    I think I gave people the wrong idea with my last post.

    Yes, I am sad. But that is ok. Being sad is a human emotion....one we all experience....and I for one am certain it would be unhealthy if we were not sad and disappointed at times.

    No, I am not so sad as to be concerned about my well being. I very much appreciate being alive and living life....so not need to worry about that. I still have loads of places to see, friends to make, planes to jump out of, adventures to accomplish and most importantly, raising my wonderful, smart, ambitious children

    What I was trying to convey is that after seven years of being along...meaning without a spouse, without a significant other to share the ups and downs of each day, to start and end my day with, to make plans for the future, etc....life does get a bit lonely....and sad.

    It isn't easy living life with a significant other to support your and assist with the day to day grind (believe me....I've overheard plenty of people complain at how little their spouse does, how terrible it is to have the around all the time.....I'm amazed I haven't bitten my tongue off yet from keeping quiet) but imagine how lonely it would be to do this alone day after day after day. After awhile, it gets tedious....boring....feelings of being trapped come along.

    This where I'm at. Yes, I recognize that being in a relationship doesn't make me the person I am. I am fabulous all on my own. But, being in a relationship certainly would add some enjoyment to my life. And the idea of that not being a possibility - lets face it....7 years being single doesn't make me too optimistic - is somewhat depressing.

    Widows/widowers are in lives we did not plan....lives we did not choose. If we had a choice, I'm pretty certain we would all still be celebrating wedding anniversaries, sharing a morning kiss out the door, sharing a glance across a crowded room, smiling at one another when our kids accomplished something or said something silly, providing support to a parenting decision the other made regarding teen angst, calling/texting each other to see what errand we can help the other with. The list is endless. And although we all miss our spouses, we also don't want to live a life without those little daily reminders of someone caring for you.

    Of course, being in a relationship doesn't define me but being a widow does....because I live it each and evey day. And the saddness doesn't ever go away..it just goes into hiding.

    So please bear with me....this is nothing new....it comes and goes....I'm just finally publicly sharing this with everyone as one of my "public service announcements."

    No need to worry....no need to try and fix anything....it is what it is....and somedays are easier accept this than others.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

    I had the opportunity to attend some amazing and uplifting events the past month - cheering on the Chicago Marathon Team LIVESTRONG runners, attending the Ride for the Roses event at the Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge, and just last weekend, running the NYC Marathon for Team LIVESTRONG.  

    Surrounded by my LIVESTRONG family....weekends filled with inspiration, joy, some cycling, running, dancing, laughing hysterically and just plain ole' fun.

    All the anticipation of these events and the actual excitement of the events came with a cost this year.  In years past, I've entered these events in a tail-spin and being around the LIVESTRONG community lifted me up.  Unfortunately, this year, it has been quite the opposite.  I mentioned this in my previous blog as feeling as though I was watching from the sidelines....but now I don't even feel like I'm on the sidelines.

    I think those LIVESTRONG filled weekends caused me to feel quite empty and alone once I returned back to reality and without the constant influence of the most inspiring people I know.

    For the past 3 weeks, I have been dealing with some rather dark moments.  Moments that make me just want to lie in bed and pull the covers over my head.  Moments that make me dread the sun rising and the sun setting each day.  Please know that I love life, I love my kids, I love my friends and I am not in such a state that I do not recognize that I have a blessed life...but suddenly I am feeling very trapped....mostly dreading being alone for the rest of my life.
     .
    I know, I know....I've heard it a million times...."the right one is out there," "you need to stop thinking about being alone and live," "you deserve better" etc.  Hmmmm......interestingly enough, all this advice is always provided by those that are not alone, all in happy loving relationships or are single by their own choice.
     
    Well, my answer to those statements -
    • "I had the right one....he was taken away from me by cancer."
    • "It is hard to ignore being alone when loneliness surrounds you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for 7 years....with no light at the end of the tunnel."  
    • "Who determines I deserve better?  What exactly is better?"

    Don't get me wrong - I love my friends and I love that they want to make me feel better.  I truly appreciate all of you being so positive and trying to cheer me up.  But sometimes, being sad is necessary to be happy again.  I am just getting sick and tired of the sadness, sick and tired of not having someone out there that is wondering about me.  I just want to be part of someone's life....and to be part of someone elses life.  I know that doesn't make a person....but let's all admit....it certainly feels good to be important to someone.


    So, although I know I am quite fabulous and a lot of people are missing out, it doesn't change reality.  Right now I am sad....I am lonely....I am dreading the winter gloom....and the holidays.  Yes, I am not being the upbeat full-of-life person you all seem to think I am.   Reality check - I am that person but lately there isn't any reason to be that person.

    I know what you are thinking....Barb's having a pity party.  

    So what!  "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to!  You would cry too if it happened to you."

    I will get through this as I have all the obstacles in my life.

    Don't worry but please keep in mind that although it has been 7 years since Brian passed, and I keep myself busy with races, skydiving, trips etc., these activities to not replace being alone.

    I like to think that we all have periods of sadness in our lives otherwise we would never appreciate the periods of happiness, right?

    OK, I promise my next posts will be more uplifting....updates about these amazing weekends are in the works.....keep a lookout for them!

    Thanks again for all your support this year -I would certainly be adrift by know if it weren't for all the lifesavers surrounding me day in and day out - all of YOU!

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Watching Life from the Sidelines

    Do you ever get the feeling that you are on the outside looking in?  That you are on the sidelines watching others live life?  That you are a silent observer?

    That is exactly how I have been feeling this week.

    I suppose part of this is the melancholy that follows my yearly reunion with like minded cancer hating advocates.  LIVESTRONG events are always extremely motivating and energizing, and this past LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin - in conjunction with the Ride for the Roses weekend (an event held for those individuals that raise over $10,000) was no exception.  As a matter of fact, to be honest, each year it becomes more energizing.  Think of this as a reunion on steroids.  The passion, friendships, creativity, ideas, and support are out of this world.

    Funny,  the aspects I love most about LIVESTRONG - the sense of community being the most important to me on an individual daily basis - is also the aspect that causes a sense of emptiness at times.

    After spending so much time for such a concentrated period with outgoing, supportive, understanding, inspiring friends, it is truly difficult to come back to reality.

    Yes, I have fantastic friends surrounding me each and everyday.....but lately, I've been feeling a bit out of the mix.  On the outside looking in.


    So, I suppose some of my feelings this week are due to coming down from this amazing high.

    But, how to address it?

    Several times this week and weekend I have caught myself just watching.....from the sidelines....waiting....as though I was on the outside looking in.  Have you ever felt invisible?  Yep....had that feeling a bit this week too.

    Again, I suppose it was from the non-stop social aspect of the Ride for the Roses weekend.  Wherever you went, there were people you knew....people that were excited to see you.....people that wanted to know what was going on in your life.

    Unfortunately, there are days in which I - and I suspect we all have these days - feel that no one would even miss me.   Don't get me wrong - I know my kids and friends love me....and at times need me.  But....in reality, my kids are getting to ages where hanging out with their parent isn't the end all, be all moment.....and my friends have lives of their own.

    I recognize this is normal....this is when I tend to reach out to my friends, or have a great pity-party cry, or go out for a run.

    What do you do when you find yourself watching the world from the sidelines?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    The Mustache Made Me Do It

    We are just 10 days away from Movember.....no, that is not a typo. 

    During November each year, men across the world grow mustaches - using their faces to raise money and awareness for mens health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men.  Last year alone, Movember raised over $80 million which was then donated to various prostate cancer organizations around the world - including $3 million to LIVESTRONG.


    Check out this video the history behind this groups efforts:
    Behind the Moustache: The Movember Story | Break.com


    Those that participate are MoBros.  There are plenty of women that want to support the cause because we love our MoBros.  I have lost two important men in my life to cancer - my father and my husband - and my father-in-law was recently diagnosis.

     I can't grow a Mo (the Australian lingo for a mustache) BUT I can certainly glue one on!

    To support this important cause I've decided to make my little jog through the streets of NYC a little more interesting.  I'll be running the NYC Marathon in support of both LIVESTRONG and Movember.  I'll be sporting my yellow Team LIVESTRONG shirt while wearing a fake mustache.

    But which mustache should I wear?  That I will let you all decide.


    Below are several mustache designs.  Pick your favorite and made a donation in the amount referenced next to the design.  Donations can be made on my Movember page using this link:  Pick a Mustache for Barb

    The most popular dollar amount donated ($25, $20, $15 or $5) will determine the winning Mo.

    And of course, if you'd like to make an additional donation to support my efforts for LIVESTRONG and my final race of my "Coast to Coast" Tour, please do so here:
    Support Barb's RunningSTRONG for Hope to benefit LIVESTRONG  


    handlebar mustache $25




    chevron mustache $20



    english mustache$15




    pencil mustaches$5

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    T-0....LIVESTRONG Challenge Weekend is Here!

    Today is the day.

    No more countdowns.


    My bike has been shipped, my bags are packed. instructions for the grandparents on the kitchen counter, all kid activities coordinated.

    Yep, I'm outta here.

    Boarding a jet plane headed south.  Destination - Austin, TX.


    Getting my LIVESTRONG fix.

    Can't wait to be surrounded by the best support group ever - my LIVESTRONG family.  Those that "get it"....although I'm sure we all understand that cancer sucks....these folks understand the impact it has on everyday life.  They come out of the woodwork to give me virtual hugs via Facebook posts, texts, phone calls, tweets. Somehow they know when it's a bad day....even when sometimes I don't.

    This is my 3rd year attending the Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge...and 3rd year qualifying for the Ride for the Roses Weekend.  A weekend of events for the top LIVESTRONG fundraisers.  I am certainly not the top - there are those that raise $30,000 and above on a routine basis.  But, what I love about my $11,000 raised is I do so without a fundraising event.  This is from friends, family and strangers reaching into their pockets to make $100, $50, $20, $10 donations because they all hate cancer and want to support myself and an outstanding organization.

    I couldn't have done this without all of you!  Thanks to all of you for your support!

    So looking forward to experiencing this weekend.  I'll be running a 5K and riding further than I've ever ridden before - 65 miles in Texas Hill Country.

    This one's for Brian, my parents, my sister and all those we've lost to cancer.  And I'll have Brian along with me for the ride -


    Be on the lookout for a post weekend update.  

    Thanks again for all your support!

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Is There ONE Positive Aspect of Being a Widow?

    Curious, aren't you.  What in the world could possibly be positive about being a widow?  I will get to this....but please be patient....there is a method to my thought process, although it may not make sense at first.  A little background to start with..... 

    A year ago at this time I was dealing with some very difficult personal issues...and found myself living life on a Tilt-a-Whirl.  I also was heading off to Austin, TX for the 2010 LIVESTRONG Challenge....and finding myself surrounded by my LIVESTRONG family, gave me the strength to slow that Tilt-a-Whirl down.

    It was also upon the return from that trip that I embarked on something new...writing this blog.  Take a look back at one of my original posts - How LIVESTRONG Saved Me From the Tilt-a-Whirl

    What began as a way for me to share details about my training and races throughout the year has evolved into something completely different.

    Yes, I am still running my races....and training....and raising funds for LIVESTRONG...but my blog posts have become more "therapeutic" for me....and an opportunity for me to honestly and openly share what life as a widow is like.  It ain't pretty....at all.

    Life has definitely been on and off the Tilt-a-Whirl this year.  Yet my friendships in and out of LIVESTRONG have allowed me to "stay afloat."

    My 13 year old son asked me earlier this year what was different....I compared myself to treading water.  When you are constantly treading water, you get tired.  When you get tired, you start to go under the water, but you pull yourself up and keep treading water.  Eventually, you get so tired that you can't pull yourself up anymore...and you begin to drown.

    Life - the loneliness, the single parenting 365 days a year, the juggling work and home, the broken refrigerator, the flooded basement, the flat tire, the dead battery, the shoveling snow, the school "craft" projects, carving out time to exercise, grocery shopping, laundry, etc, etc, etc....finally 7 years later had me "drowning."

    A lot of life experiences were involved in creating that Tilt-a-Whirl and drowning feeling however as I reflect back, I realize that the largest contributing factor was allowing myself to lose a piece of me in a relationship that was very important to me.

    And also in this reflection, I recognize that bouncing back from this relationship has been far more difficult than moving forward after the death of my spouse.

    Not that losing my spouse was easy....but he left me loving me....never made me wonder what I could have done differently, what was wrong with me (which by the way, I know there is aboslutely nothing wrong with me...I'm fabulous....but we all wonder that from time to time), never caused me heartbreak, never caused me to provide an uncomfortable explanation to my kids or friends,and never, ever left me questioning my ability to trust.

    As a widow, losing the love of your life does create some sort of guilt for wanting to move on....to be loved again.....to allow yourself to love again.  However, with this relationship, I finally opened myself to the idea I could love again.  And loving again didn't mean my love for Brian never existed.  That love will always be a part of me....ALWAYS.

    Why am I sharing all this?  Well, yesterday I surprised my boys with a trip to St. Louis to see their favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies, take on the Cardinals in the playoffs.  (A team their dad loved...and passed this on to his children). A once in a lifetime opportunity for them since we live 13 hours away from Philadelphia.

    Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, in order to get to St. Louis, I had to complete a drive I had not done since my break-up earlier this year.  And emotions I had been hiding away came pouring back.

    And why am I sharing this with you?  Well, because I can feel the emotional Tilt-a-Whirl creeping up again....makes me a bit angry....why in the world do I feel this way for someone that didn't find me important enough to move mountains for me?  I....we all....deserve that.  But, sometimes your heart wrestles your brain and wins.

    So what?  Well, thinking about writing my blog for a full year got me to re-read my years posts....and yep, great therapy.  And even better therapy, seeing my LIVESTRONG gang again next week.  Can't wait to have my LIVESTRONG fix!  These are the folks that get it...that have been impacted by cancer themselves - in a variety of ways - but all supportive of each other and the various challenges cancer has created for each of us.  Yet another reason I am so passionate about LIVESTRONG.

    But most importantly, I want to share the light bulb that went off in my head during that emotional drive.  Being a widow is awful....nothing positive about it.....with the exception of the lesson I learned this year.  Being left behind by someone that loves you entirely....because they have NO control over their leaving you....is much easier to accept than being left behind by someone that loved you and HAD control over their leaving.

    And as always, appreciate the love of your life.  Move mountains for them.  Make them feel as though they are the most important thing in your life - which they are!  And, most importantly, if you love someone, be sure they know it....and don't let them ever forget it!

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    A Day of Dispair that Didn't Turn into Days of Dispair

    "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." 

    Yesterday was a rough day.
    I have no idea why.

    The day started well.

    And nothing went wrong.
     
    No bad encounters with other human beings.
     
    No issues with kids.
     
    No problems with my car.
     
    No complaints or issues at work.
     
    But.......
     
    as time ticked on throughout the day,
     
    a cloud of doom started forming in my mind.
     
    Sadness started to sneak in.
     
    Boredom and unhappiness with my life drifted in.
     
    Feelings of my life wasting away seeped in.
     
    Dispair of loneliness crept in.
     
    Slowly....very slowly....so slowly I didn't realize it until I was home from work.
     
    I escaped from the kids for a few moments....in the nick of time....and burst into uncontrollable tears.
     
    But then I reached out.

    I sent a note to a friend and posted a tweet.

    Within moments I had notes back from my LIVESTRONG family friends.

    Lifting my spirits.

    Inspiring me.

    Rekindling my inner spirit.

    Reminding me to LIVESTRONG.

    And off to the gym I dragged myself.

    And I kicked that sadness' butt.....but only after after my "inner spirit rekindled" by friends....some I've never met before but we have a common bond with LIVESTRONG.

    I chalk yesterday up to another day that cancer tried beating me down.....those feelings would never have existed if Brian, Mom, Dad and my sister were still here with me.

    GO TO HELL CANCER!  

    I have a lot of cancer hating ass kicker friends that LIVESTRONG......

    And we will NOT let you impact our lives ANYMORE!