Wednesday, July 22, 2009

save second base

so this is one of my best friends, amy and i on the morning of the race for the cure. she is easily the most highly motivated person i know, always up for challenging herself and more than willing to find a few ways to challenge those around her (fortunately, not in that annoyingly overzealous way like richard simmons). years ago amy and suzy (who im sure ive mentioned on here before) ran a race in honor of my beautiful mama and her victory over breast cancer. since that time patrick has run one as well and yet, i, being reluctant to take on any real commitment to fitness in my life continued to watch the races come and go, reminding me just how much i wanted to participate, but never actually doing it. with my new goals in place i figured this was the year to finally run the race for the cure. its now been 13 years since my mom completed her last chemo treatment and the race was long overdue. this became THE year when amys amazing mother was diagnosed and began bravely battling breast cancer as well.

i cant help but feel like my moms cancer was a defining moment in my own life. At 18 in my first year of college while happily occupying the center of my own universe, i remember feeling invincible one minute and gripped with an all consuming fear the next. i attempted to make incredible deals with an incredible God always under the guise of 'if only You will take this from her, i will do (insert completely outlandish and impossible promise)'. at the time i remember feeling completely out of control and desperate, unable to shake the reality that there was absolutely nothing i could do to shape or shift the outcome of this reckless, indifferent and unsympathetic opponent. in an instant, i became the smallest and weakest person i knew on my knees begging God to just listen to me. to simply hear my cries and feel my overwhelming need for more time with my best friend. fortunately for me, who had laid out every possible promise to live an altogether perfect life rivaling that of mother theresa, in order to have my mothers life spared, God isnt really into deals. what He gives and what He takes away is not determined by my ability to emphatically beg, plead and promise.

after months of recovery, chemo and sickness, the prayers of anyone and everyone who has ever met my mother were answered and she was still with us. there will always be life before cancer and life after cancer in my mind. it completely shifted the terms in which i view life, the sacredness and joy of it as well as the potential brevity and injustice of it. before cancer i knew my mother was beautiful and kind, warm and patient, gentle and loving. i knew she embodied contentment and joy and had given me a glimpse into the kind of mother i hoped to be someday. after cancer i learned that in addition to what i knew to be true of her before, that she was also the strongest person i had ever known. and brave. and courageous. and hopeful and faithfilled and optimistic and unbelievably grateful. i remember her calming my fears and attempting to steady a foundation that i could feel shaking under me by reassuring me that 'if this cancer was the most challenging thing we ever faced as a family we were incredibly blessed.' and that the same God who was in control yesterday when life was cancer free is the same God in control today battling with us. these words and the loving wisdom that poured freely from them gave my weak and trembling soul hope. the kind of hope that was able to sustain me as i watched the chemo wreak havoc on her already sick body. the kind of hope that comforted me in the quiet moments of solitude when the tangible feeling of doubt surrounded me. she has always painted the future with broad strokes of hope and it is what i believe kept all of us looking ahead with the same optimism and faith in spite of the difficult journey.

it was during her months of chemotherapy that i began to see another hero emerge in my life. my father had always been brave and strong, honorable and wise, a man with conviction and integrity. and yet as i watched him stand along side her, sometimes with the strength of his love and commitment holding her up, i began to witness a love and adoration i didnt know could exist. i saw what for better or worse looked like, what in sickness and in health could mean. it was painful and exhausting, its toll brutal and yet, it was and is the most beautiful love i have ever seen. my parents get commitment and i am eternally grateful for the living example of it and for the profound impact it has left on my life and the legacy that will be passed on and on. and i wouldnt wish this disease on anyone. i would fall to me knees in an instant in prayers for you and yours to overcome this ugly threat and yet, it was through this unbearable disease that i came to see the entirety of the two most amazing people in the world, each possessing the strengths of the other and trusting in the same power of the same God regardless of the day.

so i ran. and ran. and ran. for you, mom. and for you, debby. and ill run save second base, to save the ta tas, to find a cure and to hopefully spread hope in the meantime as i run in honor of you, mom, with your name proudly on my back.

Friday, July 17, 2009

duck duck goose

we are officially at the beach in duck, north carolina and after my first night of uninterrupted sleep i am feeling downright grand. ive heard that you are either a mountain person or an ocean person, a division so clear and easy to recognize it rivals the over or under camps of toilet paper rolls. and while i do know a few people who clearly fall into the mountain side of things, loving the hikes, the peaks and the views and then of course the beach freaks who long for the sand, surf and sound of the waves....i have to admit i feel like i have one foot firmly planted on both sides of this fence (no surprise to those of you who know my gemini split personality). i remember traveling through new zealand and feeling like God must have been showing off when He created the mountain ranges there and having the same feeling of wonder when i stood at an overlook in kaui gazing at the na'pali coast. it was the same feeling of awe and amazement. im fortunate to have had that feeling many times...patrick and i spent the first 5 years of 'we' traveling our tails off to as many awe inspiring places as possible finding heaven while diving the great barrier reef and in the views we took in skydiving over oahu's north shore.

but what im realizing most about my love affair with both sun and sky is that as hard as i may try to claim a strong affiliation with one, i simply cant betray the great love i have for the other. and i dont really want to. we spent some time at glacier national park a few years ago and extended our visit to check out realty in the area. i suggested that as much as we loved it there and as excited as pat was to buy our forever land, we might want to visit it in december just to make sure. needless to say, visiting montana in december doesnt have the same allure as it does in july and we have yet to return. theres also the element of height and our shared phobia that appeared while traveling on the road to the sun...pats white knuckles and inability to speak in complete sentences paired perfectly with my shortness of breath and verbal petitions to God to please keep us from falling off the edge. super fun. and yet, when we arrived at the top (with anxiety attacks behind us), we were ready to buy land and stay forever. the view and feeling of wonder was all consuming. i didnt even want to share it with a camera lens...i didnt want to squint one eye for even a moment and crowd the landscape in front of me. it was and is one of the most spectacular places in the world and i long for the day we can visit again.

but as much as i love the mountains, i could curl up next to the sound of waves and only be moved by the changing tide. i fell deeply in love with the half of the world that lives and thrives mostly in secret underwater when we started diving. i am completely captivated by the ocean, effortlessly drawn into the rhythm of the waves and wrapped in the warmth of the sun. i have freckles marking all of my dates with the ocean, one by one reminding me of time spent in its familiar company. they are evidence of times shared and memories made in the presence of one of my greatest loves. and so the beach beckons and i, eager to create more memories that will not fade over time, answer. only this time, the 'we' is much grander and much greater than before.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

decisions decisions

let me throw out this quick disclaimer...after a month of craziness (busy in a good way) i have had zero time to blog. when i finally did squeeze in a few minutes my flippin blog deleted my post as i was posting it. therefore, as this is my second go at this post, there may some additional cynicism accompanying it. i am bitter to say the least that i lost my first post when spare time is the hottest and rarest commodity in my life right now. that being said, i recently had a big decision to that had me weighing pros and cons, doing quick checks of the finances and discussing time management (or my lack there of) with patrick. i was weighing the option of hiring a housekeeper (how i long for korea days with ms.hong drying my jeans on high heat and waking gk with the unbelievably LOUD noise of the plastic bag that carried her dust rags), joining a massage club (a little weird and self indulgent, but SO tempting after gamal, the wonder egyptian gave me a fab massage recently) and finally a gym membership. what i wanted most was a couple of hours a month with gamal....where i wouldnt be thinking of the laundry that needed to be done or the muscle buried far below the layers of flub gamal was massaging. ive decided to work my way backwards...starting with the fat and working my way to the housekeeper and finally the reward of a massage club someday. however, in order for me to fully embrace the gym membership, i had to come to terms with several key issues and move beyond them.

i am certifiable when it comes to working out and dieting. i admit it. it has been a cycle of sorts over the course of the last 15 years that has drug me through bouts of self loathing and tendencies toward the extreme. of course 15 years ago i was trying to be a size 2-4...that would now only be achievable if i were willing to have one leg amputated and wear the size 2 jeans on my remaining limb and even those better be stretch denim. i realized in a moment of rare clarity that i have to completely change my perspective on the entire way ive been approaching this aspect of my life. for the life of me i cannot understand why being content with my body is so damn elusive...i am truly content in every other venue of my life with the exception of this. i find it horribly arrogant and self centered to focus on it and let it (with it being so trivial in the vast scope of life) occupy as many thoughts as it does and yet, its a struggle. part of my issue is how i have always viewed has ALWAYS been a means to an end. always. for a dress, for a boy, for a bikini, for a name it, if its shallow, its been a great motivator for yours truly. the problem with this (okay...many problems) is that once said shallow event or relationship has passed, i go back to slugging my way through life and relying only on occasional adjustments in diet to drop the pounds. that being confessed, this is my new least its the one i am trying to convince myself of when i feel those self loathing thoughts come up.

i will choose to view exercise as a lucky am i to be healthy enough to work out?? there are SO many people who would love to have the opportunity to run but are unable to for a variety of reasons. and my reasons are the lamest of lames....dont feel like it, too tired, choose to not make the time, dont feel like washing my hair today...the list goes on and on. the second part of my mantra is that regardless of the results (how timely or not) i will do this for a year. with the goal of five times a week. ugh. all this being said the most important part of working out is the wardrobe. so i bought new clothes to make myself look like im a worker outer even though my out of breathness will sell me out within a few minutes. i dont need to buy new running shoes because the ones i bought 4 years ago have conveniently only been worn a handful of times for marathons...of the shopping sort.

once the big decision was made, the new threads were ready and my new mantra was playing in my head, i decided i needed to seek some professional help (read someone to hold me accountable and force me to show up). so i met with the super fit fitness manager who discussed with me a few concepts...the first being that this would take sometime and the second being that it would be hard work. great. my two least favorite things. he insisted on setting goals (something i typically resist i really need tangible benchmarks to fail at) with the short term goal of fitting into a closet full of clothes (even while knowing that once i fit into all of them again, i will still continue to rotate between black and white crews and jeans i cant remember washing) and the long term goal of making this part of my life a habit. so i signed up for a race, hired kathy the wonder trainer and got to work. once super fit fitness guy had assessed my goals and mental health he matched kathy and i up. she has assured me that over time, a lot of people experience a runners beginning to think she may have a drug problem herself.

with lots of progress to be made, kathy and i began the death march toward health and fitness. she is fabulous, really and very knowledgeable with a wide stocked arsenal of pain inducing moves. ive seen her smile once and i believe with enough time i could squeeze a laugh out of her, but what shes really a master at is carrying an entire conversation on her own. similar to a dentist chatting you up with your mouth pried open, kathy can hold down an entire conversation while i simply sweat and catch my breath wondering the entire time how she can really talk and keep track of reps at the same time. its very impressive to say the least and a skill that im sure only comes after years of watching countless victims struggle to talk while completely distracted by the fire that is racing through every muscle in their body. i dont think i can recall any part of any conversation we have ever had...and we've been meeting for 5 weeks. its not that im uninterested, im just a wee bit preoccupied with the level of concentration i have to simply not fall over and quit breathing. yep, its been fun.

so, im on my way. im running 20-30 miles a week and lifting a few times as well to try and build that muscle that will hopefully be unveiled at a later date when the cardio has done its job. there will be more on this to how ive chased those unruly exercise balls all over the mats or how ive memorized the exact location of the emergency stop button on the treadmill.