Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Measuring Time

"Time is not measured by the passing of years but by what one does, what one feels, and what one achieves." ~ Jawaharial Nehru

Time....when you time about it, really think about it, it is a funny thing.

What is time?  

We waste it, we set our day by it, we let time make decisions for us.

But today....today is a day that marks time for me and my family.

August 20, 2004...one of those days that changed our lives.

A day we refer back to....the before and after date.

I have a few others of those in my life - August 21, 1987, June 10, 1989, February 21, 1995, February 19, 1998, August 21, 2003 being others....the day I met Brian, the day we married, and each day another one of my children entered our lives.

Each one of these milestones is used as a point of reference - what life was life before and after we married, any of the kids were born.  We all do it, don't we?

Well today marks the anniversary of one of those days.  August 20, 2004...the day Brian passed away.

Just as the day I met Brian changed everything for me, the day he passed away changed everything too.  

I am a much different version of me since that date.

Just as Brian made me a better person when he entered my life, he made me a different better person when he left my life.

It is strange thinking about how different we all would be if he were still alive. How different our life as a family would be.

Since August 20, 2004, I have taken up running.  Something I had not done since high school.  I have raced in over 20 half marathons, 5 marathons, and countless others.

I have risen from bed at 4:30 am to meet new friends (after Brian friends) to train in the dark.at 5 am.

This is a version of me that Brian never knew.  Running a marathon was never in my bucket list before Brian passed.  It was after.

What else?

I took up cycling.  Yes, I knew how to ride a bike but never cycled.  Since then I have cycled across Iowa twice (while camping), ridden numerous times in the Texas Hill Country and tackled the hills of Philadelphia with my LIVESTRONG pals.

And the LIVESTRONG connection.  Well all those friends I have made through this wonderful organization, the community I have become a part of.....none of that existed before August 20, 2004.

I parachuted out of a plane.

I have traveled more.

I decided not to put life on hold anymore.

One of the things Brian and I talked about when he was in the hospital those last few days was all the things we had "planned" to do when the kids were older.

Well, August 20, 2004 changed all those plans.

I vowed afterward never to "put off" anything that really didn't need to be put off.  I have lots of dreams, we all do.  Many can't be accomplished right now.....but many can.  So I began ticking those off my list.

Am I a better version of me?  I don't necessarily think so.  Just different.  

It hasn't been easy these past 9 years.  And I certainly could have made better decisions about a lot of things.  

So today is a day of reflection....of a man we all miss and a life that has changed forever.

But this is also a week filled with new beginnings....our oldest is heading off to college.

He is ready to move on.....and I think so because since August 20, 2004, independence became a way of life for all of us....and helped prepare my son for life.

This milestone in his life reminds me that his dad and I met when we were just a few years older than he.....and that this chapter in his life is beginning......

.....a new "the day everything changed" is just around the corner for him.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wait.....What Day is Today? Life Really Does Go On.....

It finally happened.

It only took 9 years.

And it took my 9 year old to make me realize it.

Today I went on a bike ride with my daughter, as we so often do.

A short 5 mile ride to grab lunch and hit the library.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Along the way, we chatted....as we so often do.

I am always amused by the thoughts running through my 9 year old's head......especially while she is riding a bike (although I wish she would concentrate a bit more on keeping her line!).

About halfway through our ride, she advised me that it is only 10 days until her birthday. She is incredibly excited to be DOUBLE DIGITS!

Woo Whoo!!!

Wait a second.....

My mind began doing the math.....

If it was 10 days until her birthday, it was only 9 days until the anniversary of her dad's passing.

And that meant that the anniversary of his being diagnosed with cancer, had come and gone.....without a thought by me.

And the days from that terrible afternoon until this day, which were filled with just as terrible news and emotions, had also come and gone.....without a thought by me.

This was a first.

Each year since that terrible Friday afternoon on August 6, 2004 (The Day My World Began Moving in Slow Motion) and all the days leading up to the day Brian passed away on Friday, August 20, 2004, the first two weeks of August have been an awful walk down memory lane.  And not a lane I'd want anyone else to ever have to visit.

Suddenly, for whatever reason, on the 9th anniversary of my husband's passing, I didn't remember the day he was suddenly admitted to the hospital.  I didn't relive the moments the surgeon changed our lives from one filled with hope for a lifetime of memories to a panic of just days of survival.  The sudden realization that I would have to make phone calls to share the news with his mother, his father, his brother, my family.....and worst of all, our children.

(see my past blogs that describe how I was feeling in previous years) 

I am not sure what is different about this year than the past 8 years, but this year feels different.

And although I doubt I'll ever forget ever minute of those two weeks, at least this year, I get to remember them on my own terms.

I never believed this day would come.

I thought if it this day did ever come. I would feel guilty.....as though I had turned my back on Brian.

But honestly, it is an incredible relief.

I am sure the actual anniversary of his passing will come with a heavy heart - especially since this year we will not be spending it at the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Philadelphia surrounded by fantastic friends as we have the past three years.

Instead, it will be a regular day...driving kids around town, attending meetings at work, helping my oldest pack for college, getting out for a run or ride, and I am certain, finding time to fittingly honor Brian.

I live every day honoring this amazing man....the love of my life and the incredible father of our three equally amazing and unique children.

Thankfully I am able to finally do it without laboring over all the terrible minutes of those two weeks of pain.

Live really does go on....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

What Parenting Tought Me About Being Second Best

It'll take a moment to get to my aha moment of parenting but I need to set the stage.....it's there....trust me....you just need to be patient.

This week has been an extremely difficult week.

I am certain there are others have far worse weeks than I.

I am certain that the reasons my week was awful is petty in compared to others.

And I am most certain, given the crappy circumstances I have been dealt throughout my life, that these experiences this week are not nearly as bad as those.

But, bad moments on top of other bad moments, really are tough to bounce back from when they come all at once.

Nothing life threatening.

Nothing tragic.

Just a lot of circumstances in which I was reminded that I was or am second best.

Second best in some situations is pretty nice - like in the Olympics or the lottery.  In both those situations, yes, being first would have been nice but second still has it's perks.

Mine were not Olympic Silver moments....Nope....not even close.

I have had several situations over the past few years in which someone else decided I was second best

Well that's too bad for them, right?  Yes, but in reality, it does hurt being second best.

This week I was reminded of several of those.  One came flashing back by a simple song playing in a restaurant.  The song reminded me of someone that I loved and have tried so desperately to forget and move on from.  That one song brought back a floodgate of memories and pangs in my heart.  All for someone that no longer even thinks of me, that loved me but I was an option and tossed me aside when something new and better came along.  Second best.

Another was an awkward run-in with someone that actually had to make a choice and, yep, I was on the losing end of that one as well.  Second best.   The run-in was awkward because the first choice was at their side....and certainly didn't know the flustered mom saying hello was a second choice.

Another was a professional situation in which, by no purposeful intention, I was made to feel as though I was not as good others.  And still another was a situation in which it was a surprise to me to find out that I was no longer a first choice.

All different circumstances.

All rather personal and as you can imagine humiliating, embarrassing and as human nature has it, any one of those would be enough to cause self doubt.

But the worst part of this week?

Seeing my child go through a similar situation and seeing the disappointment, anger, sadness, and self doubt creep in.

My son was involved in a competition that requires quite a bit of subjective judging.  On any given day, the same speech could be considered a winner or enough to miss the cut depending on a judge.

That day, he just missed the cut.  A matter of one or two points after days of competition and he was sitting in the hotel watching the Heat make the Spurs second best while others were prepping for the finals competition the next morning.

As I tried to console him, rather unsuccessfully I may add, I heard myself telling him I wish I could tell you life was fair, but it is not.

I wish I could tell you that this won't happen again in your lifetime, but it won't.

I wish I could tell you that everything will be ok, but you won't believe me.

I wish I could take the hurt away, but I can't.  It will hurt.  It will sting.  It will fad away but every now and again, something will remind you - a song, a smell, a joke, a memory - and the hurt will come back....not as strong.....but it will come back.

Be sad, be angry, be disappointed....but eventually in a few days, wake up and vow to put that in the past.  Accept it and allow that disappointment, anger and sadness to propel you forward to greater pastures.

Hmmmm......perhaps this is advice I should take?

So, here is my plan.  I am going to make some changes.  Changes in my day to day life.  Changes in my professional life.  Changes in how I make decisions, changes in my dreams.  I'm going to write them down and look at them EVERYDAY.

And although being second best pretty much sucks (sorry but there isn't any better word to describe it), I am going to take being second best as a blessing.....as an inspiration to do greater things with my life.....to take the opportunity to do WHATEVER I want and do it as best as I can.

To those around me that thought I was second best (not that I think they are reading along), well, I hope they don't eventually realize what everyone else knows - that I'm first-class, fabulous. talented and incredibly smart - because then guess who will feel like second best....not me!

Wow, parenting teaches the parent!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"The Crime of Loving is Forgetting"

"The crime of loving is forgetting." ~ Maurice Chevalier

About 27 years ago, give or take a year or a few months, my closest college friends and I were contemplating our futures.  It was agreed - unanimously I may add - that of the 5 of us, I would be the last to marry and would always be a fabulous aunt, but never a mother.

Ironically, I was the first to marry and the first to have children...three no less!

Life certainly gives you surprises along the way (that would definitely explain why there is a rather large gap between by middle child and the youngest...Surprise!!).

My dreams and aspirations when I was 19 and 20 years old are considerable different that the 46 year old version of me.

The first major change in my dreams and hopes?  Unexpectedly meeting this really great guy at a fraternity party in the second semester of our senior year in college.  This frat boy and I had both been in Ithaca, NY over the same period of time, but not until January 1988 did we cross paths.....and our paths stayed intertwined from that day forward.

There was never any question in my mind - although this boy did not work into my "plan" nor my friendly wager with my college girlfriends.

No, this boy was a game changer - or more appropriately a life changer.

Tomorrow marks the 24th anniversary of my marriage to this frat boy.  

24 years since our college friends - many of them that were present on that fateful evening in the basement bar of Lambda Chi Alpha - gathered to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in both our lives.  A chapter neither of us saw coming so quickly.  But nonetheless, a chapter we were not going to run away from.

I truly believe that every so often, someone will walk into your life that changes it forever.  

Brian was this person to me.

I have no doubt that there have been others -  friends I have made along the 46 years of my life, teachers, coaches, and quite possible complete strangers on a plane.

Brian was different.  He allowed me to unleash my inner-confidence.  He never once doubted what I was able to achieve - although (and I'm sure this will surprise many of you), I was filled with doubts about myself.  

We clicked. 

Every moment from that first time we spoke (in which he told me they were out of beer.....really, who runs out of beer at a fraternity happy hour??), we never skipped a beat.  It was always effortless - even when it shouldn't have been.

Recently a very brave friend asked me a question that I suppose others would have been offended by.  I'll admit, I was for a moment until I realized that this person - as many others - really was just curious and trying to gain an understanding.  It wasn't meant to judge me or anyone else.

I was asked at what point do widows "move on."  It wasn't directed to me per say, it was really just a general question and since I was a widow, and I'm pretty much an open-book, and lets face it, an opinionated one to boot, it makes sense to ask me.

My response was we all move on in a different time frame.  There is no "exact" time and quite honestly, as I've mentioned before, grieving never truly is "over."

Yes, I am still in love with Brian.

How do you stop loving someone that had such an influential impact on your life?  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't know what it is like to be divorced, but I do know that those I'm friends with still go through a grieving period, yet often times there is no love lost in those relationships.

The difference with a widow?  Our relationship was ended for us by something completely out of our control.  It didn't end because either or both parties feel out of love or potentially realized they never were truly in love.  Now, before I am criticized, I do recognize that some widows perhaps were in loveless marriages.  

That was not the case with Brian and I.  We were very much still in love when he passed away.  Never in my mind - and I can only hope he felt the same way - did I ever doubt that I would live the rest of my life with him by my side.  

Unfortunately, that was only true for Brian.

Yes, I have moved on.  As a matter of fact I have loved again since Brian passed away.

Ironically it is that relationship that put my life on hold....made me feel stuck....and caused me to struggle moving forward. It was that relationship that caused an internal struggle with moving forward because with the end of that relationship, I lost trust, lost faith, and sadly lost my sense of confidence.

I will always love Brian.  I have no reason not to love Brian.  We didn't part ways angry and disillusioned with one another, didn't disappoint one another, didn't lose trust in one another, never made each other feel like an option and never ever stopped loving one another.

Brian is very much still a very important part of my life.  We have three beautiful children that deserve to know their father and how much he loved them.  As a matter of fact, it would be hard to forget Brian even if I never spoke of him again.  One is the spitting image of Brian and all three exhibit behaviors of Brian, so every day I am constantly given subtle reminders of him.

I absolutely love that my life crossed paths with Brian that night....without him, I would be a completely different version of myself.

I am so glad that night occurred when it did and that the bond between Brian and I was so strong so immediately.  I am glad that both of us recognized that our meeting was worth derailing our hopes and dreams.

Otherwise I would not have enjoyed 15 fabulous loving years married to this frat boy.  I'll take those 15 years with him loving him over a lifetime without him.

And I will never regret still loving him.  No one, no experience, no bumps along the road of life will ever change my feelings for him.

Now, go hug someone special in your life and tell them how much you love them!

And enjoy those unexpected surprises life tosses you!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Keeping Your Eyes Open

I just happened upon this blog post I started 9 months ago.  It really doesn't apply to my outlook at the moment, but it serves as a great reminder.  It began as a quote jumped out at me from a book I had been reading.  The quote is still here but I've rewritten the post. 

"...at some point, it doesn't matter who was right and who was wrong. At some point, being angry is just another bad habit, like smoking, and you keep poisoning yourself without thinking about it."

It isn't often that I take the time to underline a book and pull out a quote.  But this one....this one spoke volumes to me.

I came across this quote at the end of Jonathon Tripper's novel "This Is Where I Leave You"  during a flight to Portland, Oregon last August.  Not a bad book and honestly I can't remember much about the story but I jotted down this quote.

Flashback to the last week of August.  I was sitting on a flight bound for Portland, OR by way of Oakland, CA to meet up with some of my closest LIVESTRONG friends that just a few years ago were complete strangers thrown together in a van for the Hood to Coast Relay.  I was headed to a happy place....fun, friendship and let's face it, a fantastic city and part of the country.

But at that time, could I really say I was in a happy place?  Probably not.  I was still going through the motions of picking up the pieces.  Pieces I had ignored after Brian passed away and only became apparent after some personal upheaval the year before.  A year later, I was still struggling to move on.  Because it turns out I was angry and "poisoning myself without even thinking about it."

For those that know me really well, this is so unlike me.  I am not a grudge holder.  I am a forgiver.  But this situation was unforgivable yet it was holding me back.

Coming across this quote.....while I was in a situation with absolutely no distractions.....came at the absolute right time.

Any other time and it would have been missed.  How many other signs had I missed the months before, the year before that would have changed my course, changed my direction, changed my decisions?

What was it that caused this particular moment to exist?

Just a fantastic reminder to all of us that although it may be obvious to some of us the steps one needs to take in their lives at any given time......it isn't particularly obvious to them.  And funny, this quote is something I would have told anyone else - and have always done in my past.  But this one situation blinded me and everything had to be aligned just perfectly for the "light-bulb" to go off.

Even coming across this unpublished blog post today is a complete unknown.  Why today?  

Life just amazes me. 

All the tragedy  sorrow, joy and celebration that we all experience.  And how in each circumstance - dependent upon numerous factors - each can be handled in such different methods depending upon the person and their state of mind at that very moment.

So, as you go forward with your day, your week, your month, your year.....keep an eye open for life's little signals and reminders in the places you don't expect them.  If we don't keep our eyes open for them. we could be stuck in a very different version of our life and self for much longer than we should be.

With that being said, I'll close with one of my most favorite quotes:

"Do not be afraid of death.  Be afraid of the half-lived life." - Laird Hamilton

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Motherless Mother's Day

The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her. ~ Author Unknown

A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones. ~ Kristin Hannah

Another Mother's Day.

My 43rd Mother's Day without my mother.

I have been blessed throughout my life to have plenty of "other mothers" in my life to help fill the void - my sisters, many of my friends mothers, and a wonderful mother-in-law who has always treated me as her own daughter - even more so after her son passed away. (Check out my past two years Mother's Day posts to read more about these incredible women - Our Other Mothers and Sisters as Mothers....Mothers as Sisters)

Yes, I am incredibly lucky to have had all these fantastic women in my life guiding me along life's difficult journey.

However, I would be lying to all of you if I said I didn't feel a void.

I have no memories of my mother but I've missed her my entire life.

Funny to miss something or someone you never knew, isn't it?


It is so very different than the void I have from the loss of my father, my sister and my husband.

But a void all the same.

And one that doesn't seem very apparent very often, but there are times....

....when I was going to my prom

....when I was deciding on colleges

....when I was feeling rejected and sad

....when I realized I was falling in love with Brian

....when I was getting married

....when I was pregnant for the first time

....and the second, third and fourth

....when I miscarried the third pregnancy

....when I struggled as a first time mom

...when I struggled with the loss of my spouse

All those major times in a girls's life that they rely upon their mother for guidance, support and love.

Yes, I have had my sisters and other mothers to fill those voids during those times, but I've always wondered....

What was my mother like?
Am I anything like her?
Would I be a different version of me?
Would I have made different decisions?

Mother's Day often creeps up on me because honestly it wasn't ever a day that was celebrated in my childhood.  Just as Father's Day is not celebrated by my children.

It is a day of reflection on what is missing.  

Although, it is quite wonderful to know that all those things I missed in my lifetime, I am here to do for my children and hope to be here for all of them.

At this time next week, I'll be watching my oldest graduate from high school.  I'm sure he won't think anything special that I'm there because where else would I be?  But I'll be thinking how thankful I am to be there as I recall missing my mom at my own graduation.

Of course, I can't not mention the big villian here.....CANCER.  It was cancer that caused this void in my life.  It was cancer that made me feel all alone and different than everyone else.

In memory of my mother, I am making a donation to LIVESTRONG so others have resources available to them to win their battle with cancer and their children/spouses have a community available to them to help them realize they are not alone.

Please join me in honoring the women in our lives and the mothers other children have lost because of cancer by making a donation as well.
Donate to LIVESTRONG in honor of Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms in my life.  I love you all and am eternally grateful for each of you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Coming Together Is a Beginning.....

....keeping together is progress; working together is success.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

Some cyclists.

       Several runners.

               A widow.

                      A hula hooper.

A kayaker.

       School teachers.


                      East coasters, Texans, Southerners, Midwesterners.

Hockey players.



                       Bird watchers.

A piano teaching bike commuter.

          A cycle shop owner.


                       Cancer survivors.

What do all these have in common?

They all motivate me each and every day.

Back in November I decided to combine my selfish need to hold myself accountable to exercising regularly again and spreading awareness of Movember - the month men grow mustaches to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

So I wrote a blog and introduced the idea of "The 30 Days of Movember - a Fitness Challenge."

My intent was purely selfish.  My running group had disbanded earlier that year and I was struggling to keep a routine fitness plan.

So I concocted this crazy idea to create a Facebook Fitness Challenge group.  30 Days of Fitness.

An idea to share my fitness goals and hold myself accountable to 10 or so friends....

And those 30 days flew by.

And the group continued to grow.  Friends inviting other friends.  And new friendships being created.

As the final days of November were being crossed off the calendar, I asked if anyone wanted to continue into December.  To my surprise, I received a very consistent message from my fellow Fitness Challenge participants - YES!

A December challenge was created  as the number of members continued to grow.

7 months later and we are still going strong!

The group discusses personal challenges, personal accomplishments and frustrations.

Others struggled just as I did to stay motivated during the cold dark winter months.  Together we set monthly goals, shared our New Year resolutions, and held each other accountable.

Together we accomplished what many of us could not accomplish alone.

Together we inspired one another.

Together we lost weight, planked, ran, hula hooped, shoveled snow, climbed stairs, drank more water, shared success stories, made each other laugh and cheered those up that became injured.

There is no pressure to post and no pressure period.

As you can see, it is a rather diverse group - many friends outside the page but many started out as strangers.  A merging of several webs of friends.  A web of support.  A web of inspiration.

It takes a village.....and although this village was started for selfish reasons, it has filled a void that was evident in my fitness world.  

All accomplished by a simple need to be held accountable and setting up a Facebook group.

No extravagant webpage design, no membership fees.  Just a bunch of strangers and friends sharing their daily workouts, frustrations, and goals with one another, while lending support to those same strangers and friends.

Every now and again someone will disappear for a few weeks - myself included.  No pressure from the members about your missing workouts.  But occasionally someone will ask where you are - not to make you feel guilty but to make sure you are okay.  A thoughtful caring group of individuals that I  look forward to hearing from all day long!

Do you have a need to be motivated, inspired, held accountable?  Consider joining our group.....or maybe creating your own!

And see firsthand what a group of individuals can accomplish together!

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Perseverance of Runners

"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable." 

-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile

"Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too." 
--Richard O'Brien

The events last Monday at the Boston Marathon impacted each and everyone of us.  A sense of vulnerability was suddenly very apparent   The uncertainly, the fear, the terror all captured on video and pictures, along with the aftermath that followed the following week were unimaginable.  

This hit home for me.  No, I was not there.  And no, I am not related or know any of the injured or deceased.

But this was personal, as I suspect it was for all of us in some way.

I have a love for Boston.  Both my parents were born and raised in Boston.  I have family that lives there.  I have friends that call Boston home.

My 9 year old and I just returned from a spring break vacation to Boston last month.  I let her pick where we were going to travel.  I was prepared for Orlando or the beach.  But once again, this little girl surprised me.  Her choice was Boston.  She had never been but had been learning about the northeast in school so Boston was on her radar.

She picked out our daily itinerary  which included walking the entire Freedom Trail, having lunch at Fanueil Hall, and touring the Boston Tea Party Museum.  But two experiences came flashing back into our minds last Monday.  

One of the very first "touristy" experiences we had was viewing the city from The Prudential Building.  From that vantage point we noticed the Boston Marathon finish line, which is marked permanently on  Boylston Street in yellow paint.  The other was her decision to check out the Boston Public Library - which is just steps away from the finish area.

Although there have been many tragedies during my daughter's short lifetime, never before had she been able to place herself in the exact location, to be able to picture the surroundings, to have a frame of reference.  It saddened me that as a 9 year old, she could envision herself in the exact locations flashing up on the news surrounded with tragedy.  She was scared by the events and the familiarity of it all.

The events also impacted two other important families of mine - the running community and the LIVESTRONG community..

As a marathoner, running has saved me many a times through bouts of depression, anger and frustration.  Training for marathons has given me goals, given me stamina, given me a sense of invincibility and perseverance no other sport has ever given me.

Participating in marathons brought me to LIVESTRONG.  It was my first marathon that got me involved with Team LIVESTRONG.

Participating in running created new friendships.  Runners are incredibly supportive of one another - regardless of age, speed or accomplishments.  I have never been surrounded by such a competitive group of people that ALL wanted everyone else to succeed as well.

Through running I have built long lasting friendships with people from Oregon, Colorado, California, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Texas, etc etc etc.  Many through participation in LIVESTRONG events.

And last week, this tragedy hit my running family.   The majority were strangers, but none would be a stranger if I was running beside them.  I've never run a marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K or just a group run where anyone was truly a stranger.  There is a camaraderie that exists among runners.  

I've struggled along some races but with the support of the strangers lining the course and the runners around me, I've always been able to dig deep and get it done.  

Running has given me the opportunity to a lover of new cities as I become a running "tourist" and has created a secondary family from events such as Hood to Coast (I dare you to spend 30 plus hours in a van with strangers sleeping in grassy fields, scouting out bathrooms and changing in/out of some rather smelly clothes and not make new friends that know you better than some of your own family).

A few of my Team LIVESTRONG Hood to Coast family were on the course last week.  They had worked relentlessly to achieve a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  One has been plagued by injuries but the other stuck with her throughout the race. 

Because that is what runners do for one another.  They help each other through tough situations.

And although so many did not finish the marathon due to the explosions, I have a pretty big hunch that none of them even cared about that.  Unlike other marathons that were black flagged due to weather, lacked enough hydration on the course, or just were poorly planned for a number of reasons, I have yet to hear of a single marathoner complaining about how this impacted them.  Not a sign of selfishness.

I think they all did what all runners do.  They thought beyond themselves.  They took care of each other.  They immediately thought about those in need - we have all heard of those leaving the course and donating blood (after running 24 - 26 miles!), providing support to the EMTs, comforting one another, sharing cell phones to let loved ones know they were OK.

You know what?  Runners were already rather supportive of one another.  Guess what....this tragic event has created an even stronger bond among runners.  The Elites to the sub 4 hour runners, the wheel chair participants to the charity runners.  The moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters.  None with multimillion sports contracts.  All running 26.2 miles willingly (yes, we are a crazy sort of bunch to begin with).  

And you know what else?  I suspect we will see a rise in the number of runners out on the trails and streets this next year.  And an increase in the numbers running marathons. And an increase of runners trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon - pushing themselves beyond limits they knew they had inside themselves. 

And even more importantly, an increase in the number of spectators lining the courses, because in addition to all the news being covered by the networks, this past week has also drawn attention to the amazing athletes that are just like you and I; that live in every town, city and village across our country.  And each are supported by family and friends.  

Yes, I'm incredibly sad by this event.

Yes, I am angry that my different families were impacted.

And yes, I'm going to keep running marathons!

Who wants to join me???

Sunday, April 14, 2013

There Are Days.....

There is an old saying that time takes away the grief of men.

I respectfully disagree.

Grief never goes away.

It goes into hiding.

It resurfaces just when you think it has finally gone away.

Sometimes there is an anniversary or a memory that triggers it.

Often times, there is absolutely no reason.

But, it never completely goes away. 


Regardless of time.  

Regardless of how well your life is going.

Grief never disappears.

I have had different bouts of grief throughout my life due to the loss of my mother, father, sister, and brother-in-law.  

However, I am sure it comes as no surprise that the largest source of my grief is the loss of my husband Brian.  

Not a day goes by without a thought of Brian. 

Not a day goes by without a pang of sadness and missing him.

Some days the pang comes and goes.

Other days, it overwhelms me.

Other days, it overwhelms me and over stays its welcome.  

I suspect it has something to do with how complete my life seemed to be once Brian entered it.  

Grief unfortunately reminds me of how full my life was with him.

It serves as a reminder that my life is somewhat incomplete without him.

Don't get me wrong, I have a fantastic life.  I am extremely blessed with three wonderfully talented and amazingly independent, smart, resilient children.  Without my children, my life would be even more incomplete.  

Yes, I have a fantastic life.  Great family, great job, great friends, a roof over my head.

BUT,  grief keeps sneaking in reminding me of what I am missing.  Of how even more fantastic my life was.  And all the dreams and plans I had for my life as it was.

However, when grief overwhelms me, somehow I pull myself out of it.  I don't know how I do it.  Sometimes it is a swift kick in the butt from a friend, a good night sleep, a great run.  

During these times, that same sadness also reminds me of what I have, what I have overcome and causes me to reflect, redirect and set new goals.

As I write this, I am not sad but I am not happy.  I feel the sadness, the emptiness that grief introduces to us lurking.  I've pushed it aside but I know it is just waiting....waiting to pounce unannounced.

And hopefully, I'l be ready.  Hopefully it will be an easy hurdle but sometimes it isn't.

Why am I sharing this?  

We all know someone that is grieving or perhaps you are grieving - or will someday.

I don't imagine I am alone in feeling this way and I want others to know they are not alone.

I want others that are not grieving to understand that their grieving friends will go through a roller coaster of emotions the rest of their lives.  Sometimes up and down quite often, other times spread out over years.

But please know, grief is a very complicated.

Do not expect someone to just "move on", do not expect to feel "normal" again.  

Just when you think the old normal has returned, there it is....the grief resurfaces. 

This teeter-totter, tilt-a-whirl of emotions is the new normal. 

Be mindful.  Be prepared.  Be supportive.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Moments in Time

"A photograph can be an instant of life captured for eternity that will never cease looking back at you." ~ Brigette Bardot

How many of us have been cleaning a closet, a drawer, sorting paperwork when we come across old photos.  Suddenly, the our path is changed.  No longer are we busy organizing, cleaning, straightening up but reflecting and reminiscing.

A moment in time we had forgotten about comes back to us instantly when we uncover that photo.....life looking back at you.

I am often stopped by photos of my children - taken back to a time when they were such different people.  Children needing their mother - not the independent young adults they have transformed into.

Those photographs are always organized in my mind into a particular time - when we lived in Philadelphia, when we first moved to Illinois, our old house, our new house, before Brian died, after Brian died, when they were in elementary school, junior high, high school.  

My life broken into periods of time.

Lately when I come across photos - often nowadays on my phone or on Facebook, I tend to put them in two categories - before and after.  The tilt-a-whirl.

You remember the tilt-a-whirl.  It was instrumental in my starting this blog.

Suddenly I recognized that my life has somehow gotten back on that tilt-a-whirl.  I am not sure when I jumped back on the ride....or how long I've been on it.....but here I am.

And I've been ignoring it.

But, my 2013 resolutions included becoming healthier.  Eating healthier, drinking more water, introducing a variety of exercise to expand beyond running, making an effort to reach out to friends, improving my mental state.

I suppose we all have similar goals.  But those last two have been difficult.

How to go about improving my mental state.  Well, I knew exercising and eating healthy would be a fantastic start.  Then I reached out to several friends and made plans.  No more sitting alone waiting.....waiting for what I finally asked myself.  Get out there and make plans on your own.

January was a success.....except.....but....however....

That sadness continued to be there.....lying there waiting to spring free.

And it did.  While I was feeling great.....during plans with a friend.....during the middle of a conversation while we were catching up.

Uh oh.....

I finally had to pull the plug and break down about seeing a counselor.  Nothing wrong with that however I've done it twice before - when Brian passed away and again 5 years ago....and both times it was like going to the torture chamber.  I hated it.

So what is different this time around?  

Well for starters, it was my own decision and idea to go.  I wasn't going because everyone around me thought I should go (well, perhaps they do this time round as well, but no one has pressured me into it).

And, I think I was ready this time.  Ready to reach back into the depths of my life, into the depths of my soul, and get it all out.  

As I have been meeting with a counselor, it has reminded me of uncovering old photographs.  I am remembering things I had forgotten about - perhaps purposely or really because life got in the way.  '

Moments in time from my childhood.

Moments in time when I was in high school being the only child remaining at home.

Moments in time when my sister received her cancer diagnosis.

Moments in time when my children were born and there was "normalcy" in our lives.

Moments in time before and after Brian died.

Moments in time that included my step-mother the divorce from my father.

Moments in time that reminded me of being a kid and spending days while I was home sick looking at boxes of photographs.

Photographs that pieced lives together.

The difference now is these photographs are in my head.....and thankfully are there to remind me....to help figure things out.

And yes, there are bad memories but lots of good memories.....that wouldn't exist without some of those unfortunate memories. 

Memories are like photographs.....some blurry, some you want to frame, and others you wish you could delete