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 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. 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, 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 |

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 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 be loved 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 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!