Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Worth Repeating

I had a moment today where I thanked GOD that this year was over.  I whole heartedly thought, I am so glad it’s done, I couldn’t live through another 2014.  My heart could not do it.

And then I remembered some of the greatness of the year.  And I thought, if I had to give up the bad AND the good of 2014, would it be worth it?

No.  2014 had too much goodness.

So maybe some of the things that happened in 2014 sucked.  Maybe there were more than a few days of suckage.  But when I think about them as they relate to all the minutes I spent in 2014, the sucktastic moments that happened were blinks of an eye surrounded by greatness.

There were many things, and I mean many things, that did not suck.  Not a bit.  There were hundreds of blistering hot miles run.  Old and new friends embraced.  A wonder-twin moment that brought me to my knees with gratitude.  

Yes, that moment was worth repeating.  There was more beauty in this year than I ever imagined in any year ever.  There was grace.

There were eyes rimmed in impossibly long lashes that demand revisting. There was that trail I've not not yet run down.  A hill that begs repeating.  And repeating.  Lets not forget the mountain bike that says “look at what we did!”, even as it wonders what we are capable of doing together next time.

There was that exquisite sunset in Hatteras where the sky blazed red and the sun dipped into the sea on waves of flames.  It smoldered as it sank, until the red and yellow melted to purple and blue and the inky night settled over the ocean. A million stars stretched across the sky and the Milky Way laid itself bare for me to admire.  Ghost crabs scuttled around my feet.  My children whispered, but not because they were told to be quiet. 

There were little moments too...
The pedicure that was appreciated with a compliment.
A pair of wind burned cheeks from a good bike ride.
The smile that came after the tears on a salt crusted face.
A kiss of joy and homecoming.
A lingering hug filled with “what if”.
The patient who lived another day because I worked that day.
The patient who taught me that sometimes the #bestdayever could be someone’s #lastdayever, and that’s an acceptable answer as long as you get to die on your own terms.  I fought for her terms.  I made myself proud.  She squeezed my hand, and I knew that I made her proud too.
There was the moment when I realized I was going to be OK.  That I am OK.

There were a few hundred seconds that passed as I stood on the bank of the James River in running shoes.  I was nobody.  I was everybody.  I was just another body.  There was steam floating up off my hot body.  Mist coated the river as she calmly wandered past.  She didn’t even notice the figures on the bank.  Sweat and the sun stung my eyes, but I could not look away from all the power that sedately wandered by even as I thought I would explode.  How can she be so calm when there is so much energy here?  I would repeat all those seconds.  
Except one.  
The last one came too soon.

A few days ago my son proclaimed that I am The BEST MOM EVER when I told him I was taking him to an NFL game, and the Coke Museum, and The Georgia Aquarium, and that moment, the one where I truly felt like the best mom ever, needs to be repeated again and again.

I wore a hole in two pairs of Brooks on my quest to run a personal great.  It wasn’t a best, but it was great.

I sanely and rationally tackled a marathon to see what it feels like to sanely and rationally run 26.2 miles.  I loved it.  But I want to run one on the edge of death next time to see what that feels like.  I know there’s a sweet spot of glory and misery, and I want to exist in that moment again.

I ran a 1:05 (<~ that’s one minute and 5 seconds) up 6 flights of stairs on a random shift at the hospital.  As I stood in the vestibule on the 6th floor landing, with my heart about to explode out of my chest, gasping hospital air, I had to think that if any medical professional had happened across me in that moment they would have called a Code Blue.
And Yes, I will repeat that moment.

There is the moment, just now, when I walked the dogs in the moonlit night.  We made our way down a dark path until I stood on the edge of the glass lake.  There were house lights reflected in it, they winked at me like laughing eyes.  I could hear a peal of child’s laughter drift along the water like the stars that floated in the black.  I imagined a party with people excitedly sharing their new years resolutions and reliving the glorious past year’s celebrations.  I savored the thought of couples snuggled in on couches.  Her lips pressed close to his neck.  I smiled at the thought of children strugglinng to hold their sandy eyes open.

I laughed my own laugh at the thought of a sweet white puppy with a long waggy tail, as he stands on a lakeshore.  His ears are straining as he stares into the dark.  His nose is assaulted with a million scents and he dreams of all the glorious squirrel chasing adventures of today.  He does not know that tomorrow is a new year.  He does not care.  There is only now.

The worn tread of my used up running shoes crunched in some loose sand, and suddenly my soul felt as worn as the soles I walked upon.  And yet as tired as today made me, as worn as I am, I know that tomorrow will come at midnight, and in it will be moments worth repeating.

~ respect the distance ~ savor the run ~

Thursday, December 25, 2014

What did you BRING today?

Today is about STUFF.


I mean that in general today is about getting and giving and sharing and eating and doing and stuff.

So to that I ask, what did you bring?

Yesterday *kinda* sucked for me on a few levels.  I had to work.  It was a "holiday-eve" for 99.99% of the world population.

So ...what did I bring?

I brought bad news.  I stood by an MD while she delivered HORRIBLE news to a family.  On *this* EVE.

I brought my own joy to a day that was hard.

I BROUGHT MY FREAKING BEST EFFORT all day.  All day.  Even when it wasn't needed.

I tried like to hell to bring a smile to everyone I encountered.  Except I'm not sure I accomplished it.

Also, I brought a little GBA to the hospital yesterday.  I  ran up 6 flights of stairs in 1:05.

6 flights.  I haven't counted the number of steps yet.  Maybe next time.  But damn it felt good.  ANd do you know what it did?  It made me better able to handle the sadness of working on "eve" and sadness of "the family" who got the bad news.

Also, it made me feel good.  I reminded me I'm alive and well.

And that made me a BETTER COWORKER.  Truth.  I had smiles and laughing flying all over the place after that little sprint.  It was good for my mental health.  Probably, to keep me off of the 7th floor, I should use the stairs from now on...

USING THE STAIRS didn't just give me a few extra smiles and some endorphins.  It gave me a goal for what to bring in 2015.  I need to bring a sense of humor every day at work to survive this life.  I need to find joy in all the weirdness.  I need to race up the stairs when life hands me lemons.  I need to race sometimes because I can, and not because "I have to" or someone tells me "I should".

Yes.  A simple thing like a one minute sprint gave me a big picture view of what I need to BRING to 2015.

Also - unrelated but on point - it gave me a physical goal as well.
Now I have a time to beat.

~ savor the run ~ respect the distance ~

Friday, December 12, 2014

Parenting WIN

“What do you kids want for Christmas?”

I would guess that question is rolling around a lot these days.  It’s alternate forms include, “What will you ask for from Santa?” and “Hanukkah is about to start...” and “It’s December ... do you need anything?”

Well this year I had an extraordinary answer from two of my three children.

From my son, Gfly, “I don’t know.  No, don't get me anything.  I don’t need anything.”

From my eldest daughter, C, “I don’t need anything either, but please spend the money you would have spent on me and go buy yourself a new warm coat.  The one you have is not warm enough.”

And that was when I realized that A, it’s possible to cry with pride without your children knowing that you are crying and B, I *probably* don’t suck at parenting.

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

100 Days of Gratitude

About 4 months ago I realized that my life wasn’t exactly going to go the way I expected.  

One day I was driving down the road I was mapped on with a smile on my face, and the next day, my car started to slide.  I jerked the wheel to try to stay on the road, but I used a heavy hand.  It threw me into a whirl, I spun very quickly out of control, and just like when a car slides on ice, the more I thought I could correct it, the worse the spinning became.

And the more I spun, the harder it was to understand that it would ever stop.

It felt like there would be no end.

In October a friend saw me struggling.  She is a good friend.  She said, “No matter how you feel tomorrow morning, I want you to do something when you wake up.  I want you to think about what you are grateful for and write it down.”

She said in 100 days that I would feel better.  She said, “If you do this every day, in 100 days you will remember what you have forgotten.”

I thought she was crazy.  I hadn't forgotten anything.  My life had just spun out of control.  I thought that it was my fault.  I was operating under the illusion that if I kept jerking the wheel, I could get it back on the road.

I listened to her though, because I was so desperate that I would have done almost anything to feel better, even if I had to wait until January.

Some days it was really hard.  I wrote things like, “I am grateful that the sun came up” because I couldn’t think of anything.  Or, “I am grateful for coffee”, because that seemed like the only thing that would get me through the day.

As the days went on, it became easier to write them down.  “I am grateful for my children...” and “I am grateful for my amazing job” and “Harry Potter” and "my run" and "my mom" and “my running wife” and "my wonder twin" and “the puppy who woke me up at 3 am, because when he did that I saw an eclipse”....  

And do you know what I realized the other day?

It did not take "100 days of gratitude" to make me remember why my life is so good.  I realized that I could be grateful for something every day for the rest of my life and still probably not honor all the amazing people and good and lucky and blessed events in my life.

I know I have it good.  I know we are lucky.  I am aware that my parents love us.  I know my friends love and support me and the kids.  Those same friends will be there at 5 am to run, at 10pm for a glass of wine, or for an afternoon hug on the hard days.

I am grateful that I live a blessed life.  I am grateful for the roof over our heads, no matter how humble its shape.  I am grateful that I have a generous heart, and that I freely give what I have to give without regrets.  I am grateful that I was born with a smile that comes easily, and that when I can, I use it to bring joy.  I am grateful my family raised me to be courageous, to try new things, to be brave, and to live a life without fear.  I am grateful.

Because of my gratitude, my cup is not “half full”:  It is overflowing.

I am grateful.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

If You Toe the Line, You Have to Race

I'm all about the 5K distance.  I've been enjoying the shorter running.  No lie. It's The Year of The 5K and I am LOVING IT.

There's no pressure to train.
Sometimes I wake up and run fast, and sometimes I run relaxed, and sometimes I skip my run and climb 5 or 6 flights of stairs at the hospital 2 or 3 times a shift.  And that's my workout.  This is not training.  This is running for the joy of running.

You know what else is awesome about the 5K distance?

I can do all those things, or none of them, and it doesn't matter.

The Pre-Race Photo
The 5K will still be out there waiting for me.  I will get to the end of it regardless of my non-training.  If it doesn't go well, there will be another 5K in a few weeks and I can run back to back 5K races without hurting myself.

And that was my mindset when I went out to run my December 5K.

I told DeNiece to pick the race.

I didn't really care which one she picked.  As I said, a 5K is a 5K, and since I haven't been doing too much specific training it almost didn't matter which one she chose.  Hills or Flat?  A known course or a new course?  Nothing mattered except showing up and having some fun.

And FUN is my middle name, so that's a given.
Actually it's spelled like Althea, but is pronounced Fun.

DeNiece picked me up after a healthy breakfast of 3 chocolate chip cookies.  I may have had some water... wait.  No I didn't, but I definitely had some coffee.  For the record, my pre-race dinner was 5 pita chips, a spoonful of hummus, 2 glasses of wine and a marshmallow.  Oh yeah, and a shot of Fireball.  Can't forget that...

Basically, on the drive over, I questioned aloud whether or not I was in top running form.

Not that it mattered.  It's only a 5K.  And as I said it, I thought, "I'm not sure I'm showing the 5K enough respect".

We arrived at the Jingle Bell 5K to discover that Harry Potter, one of my all time favorite Black Team runner friends, was standing in the packet pickup line with is son, M!  It was M's first 5K!

It was sure to be a #bestdayever!

There was some banter.  Some wardrobe commentary.  Some jokes were thrown around about "just go win it, ok?"

We ran a warm up, got a selfie, walked around, said 'hi' and 'Merry Goodness' to all the peeps we saw and recognized, and then it was time to line up.

I wasn't feeling epic.  But I was feeling some bad dance moves.  It's nice when you can not only embarrass your own kids, but you can also embarrass your friend's children.

I wandered back into the crowd... and DeNiece and another GBA 5K team member, WnW, pulled me to the start line and said, "This is where we line up."

I said, "I don't belong up here."
Potter said, "If you toe the line, you have to race it."
D & WnW basically said, "You belong here.  We are here.  You are with us."

I lost track of D & WnW within about 13 seconds of the start.  They went that fast.  I saw them up hills and on the out and back, but generally it was my race to run alone.  That said, I didn't get passed by a tremendous amount of runners.

The Potter Boys - look at that kid's form! Love it! (glad to
 see Harry Potter catching on with the festive "tall socks")
I ran well.  Pushed myself.  It was hilly.
I felt a little hunted by the Potter Boys.  I kept expecting them to come from behind.
I walked a hill and dry heaved at mile 2ish.  I decided Fireball may have been a bad pre-race hydration strategy and will note that for future 5Ks. ~respect~
I really pushed it on my last half mile.

I finished having no idea what the clock read.  I ran without a watch, as is my new habit, so I truly had no idea how fast I had run.  The Potters rolled in right after me.

There were high fives exchanged all around!  M rocked out his day.  He should be proud of himself.

We ran/walked a little cool down and made noises about leaving before the rain started.  We didn't leave though, because DeNiece pointed out that WnW had probably won her age group.
Team GBA 5K

Well, while we were at the awards waiting for them to call WnW's name, we heard my name called for 3rd place A.G finish!  And DeNiece was 3rd in her A.G!  And WnW did, in fact, win her A.G!

The Bling
All on the day that was M Potters first 5K!  What a fun day!

Even more fun when I looked up the results last night and I was pleased to see they had read my A.G. awards in the wrong order, and I was actually 1st place A.G. finisher.

But you know what was the MOST fun of all?

I took off time between my October 5K and December 5K.  A lot of time.
:59 seconds worth of time.  Of course, you know what I thought first when I compared the two times?

"I couldn't have run 1 second faster?"

Yeah.  Runners are weird.  And I am a runner.

The Year of the 5K stats so far:

~ savor the run ~ respect the distance ~

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fear Less

For every second of a mountain bike video where there is a cyclist perched on the edge of a cliff, there is a MTB chic like me.

A babe on a bike who’s scared and sweaty; gripping the handlebars with white knuckles under purple gloves even as she gears down so she can chase her badass Fear-less friend through the forest trails. 

That girl?  You know the one? 

That girl, who is so totally focused on not crashing that she sometimes she forgets she is having fun?  The one who is concentrating on every single root, bump, rock, dust mote and mole hole as she negotiates her way through the trails? 

That girl is me.

And you know what?

I don’t even mind being that girl.

I’m not particularly good at the sport, but every time I go out and do it, I love it.  I find it to be invigorating and so unlike anything I’ve ever done before in my life.  

Even though it’s just like riding a bike, and I used to race BMX as a kid, this is not like riding a bike.

It’s dangerous feeling, but it’s empowering too.  It’s dirty and sweaty and all the things that we are taught that girls shouldn’t be.  There are cuss words and giggles, at the same time.

My tires pop and crunch on the roots and rocks.  They slip on loose gravel when I don’t expect it, and when that happens on a hill, it feels like the back end of the bike is vanishing from under me.  At least two or three times today I caught a root and it caused my front wheel to turn in a direction I wasn’t expecting.  That was a little frightening.

I could hit a tree.
I could wreck.
I could trust myself.
I could fear less.

And that’s what I did today. 

I hate being scared as much as the next girl, but I must love it too because I had to try to do everything I came upon today.  Every obstacle vanished behind a giggle or a muttered curse word.  Even better, I successfully “didn’t die” while trying to put it together into something that looked and felt an awful lot like FUN.

I’m sure that there was a wrinkle in my brow for a lot of today’s ride.  I know I was so focused on what was in front of my tire that I likely missed much of the beauty of today’s adventure. 

I am just as certain that I was smiling throughout the ride, even when I had to put my foot down so I could just keep going.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Holder

I felt the strain on my knee and leg as her bony foot struck me.  It was not a good kick, but it was strategically aimed.  Crunch!  My knee, which was already a little wonky from the marathon, was suddenly in agony.

“Ah!” I yelped.  But I stayed put, pressing my gloved hand firmly into her neck.

There was blood oozing through my fingers.  I could hear sneakered feet and voices coming down the hall, it was only a minute before I would have help.  I looked down into the sweet cornflower blue eyes that looked up at me.

“Stop trying to kill me!” she spat through gritted teeth.

I adored her.  

I smiled and said in my most reassuring voice, “I’m a nurse.  I’m not here to hurt you.  Mrs (Smith), just relax.  You are safe.”

Sadly, I don't think she was reassured.  She narrowed her eyes and dug her nails into my arm.  They were long and sharp, painted an orangy red color and she triumphantly grinned as got one of them into the skin.  A trickle of my blood dripped down into her bed.

And I continued to hold pressure on the open wound on her neck.

I continued to reassure her.

The rest of the nurses descended on us, and I moved from “emergency pressure holder” to “hand holder”.

By hand holder I really mean, “I continued to allow that poor woman to try to rip the skin off my arm so that other nurses could apply bandages to her bleeding jugular.”

These are my people.  Sweet confused people who are so ill that they think that I, the nurse, am not who I say I am.  Patient’s who call me Morris.  
Or John.  

Patients who believe that I am people from their past who’ve come to call on them.  Or haunt them.

These are my people.  And I really do love them.

Regardless of how truly fond I am of my confused patients, when I got up the next morning my leg couldn’t bear weight at 100%.  Holy WHAT?  I was limping for much of the day because it just felt so uncomfortable.  Thankfully, I totally panicked and reached out to TMB before most people are even awake spoke rationally to a friend who recommended I head to see the Witch Dr.  

At least The Witch Dr could evaluate my situation.

And thankfully, after he treated me for a solid 20 minutes with some medieval torture devices and his thumb, he pronounced me “probably ok” with a promise to “re-evaluate next week if I wasn’t 100%”.

So there you go.  Walking into a patient’s room is far more dangerous for my knees than running a marathon.

And you know what I’m going to do again in a few days?  Walk into that “same” patient’s room.  Even if it’s a different patient.

~savor the run~