Guardian Angels

I have struggled for two days to write a post about Boston, based on my own experiences at the Portland Marathon the last 4 years, but it’s just not coming.

I’ve written, I’ve edited, I’ve saved and in the end, I’ve trashed them all. Nothing I can say can truly capture the spirit and the camaraderie of a marathon and the people who come to watch so I should probably give up.

I only know that when I’m there, I feed off the encouragement of everyone from the tiny little old lady with the sign on her back that says, “This is my 34th marathon, what’s yours?”, to the lean elite runners that you see headed towards the finish when you feel like you’re just getting started, to the very overweight woman at the back of the pack who is struggling but is cheered on by everyone she meets at a turnaround, fellow marathoners and spectators alike. The one who will finish the slowest but will be the most inspirational person for many who are watching her.

So many people and so many stories. Few of them are the lean runners you think of when you imagine marathon runners. They are every day people of every age, shape and size working towards a common goal.

I have felt the emotion and sense of victory at the finish when you’re carried to the end by the encouragement of the spectators. The people who gave up their day to come celebrate with their runners as well as every stranger who passes them on the course. The same people who make up the list of injured and dead because some non-human piece of shit decided they would be his targets on Monday. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of watching the explosions on Monday knowing how important that group of spectators and everyone along the race course for that matter, are to the finishers. And also seeing runners themselves, who likely have overcome so much to be there, injured after what was probably one of the biggest accomplishments of their lives.

My heart is broken and the marathon memory that keeps coming to mind for me is a man I walked behind 2 years ago. The back of his shirt was covered with photos of him and what I assumed was his wife. They were at various races and what looked like vacations together. In many of them she was wearing a Wonder Woman cape. In the center was a picture of her alone and this time, he was walking alone.

As I was passing him, an Elton John song came on my mp3 that I usually skip because it’s too slow but this time I kept it because it reminds me of my Science Guy and I needed him with me at that moment. It feels like a good song to honor all those guardian angels who, without regard for their own safety, ran in to the explosions on Monday to help. Bless them all.

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Goodbye

RIP Jenny ~ I’m so thankful to have been able to call you my friend.

Thank you for being one of my first Twitter followers and for all the comments and support on so many posts here. Thank you for the many many Words with Friends games on FB.

I love you and will miss you more than I can say.

Wow – Can you believe he still likes me?

Eighteen years ago today I married my best friend. It was the best decision I’ve ever made – or talked him into making.

I double checked this morning to make sure he doesn’t regret it and he says he’s still good with it. That makes me happy. He makes me happy!

When I was young and couldn’t get a date, I never imagined I’d be married, let alone that it would go this well.

I assumed I’d be alone – that I wouldn’t be able to find someone who would love me enough to want to spend his life with me. That might be because I’d dated an asshole who had told me pretty much that same thing and I believed him. But I don’t know – it just seemed to out of the realm of possibilities.

To have a marriage like my parents, who would rather be together than anywhere else, seemed unreachable.

But I was wrong. This shy handsome man walked into my life just as I had given up on dating, and he stayed.

For that, on this day and every other, I am grateful.

This getting healthy thing is going to F*$#ing kill me!

**Update** Scratch that no bears thing….they “relocated” one that was hanging out in a backyard not more than a mile from my house on Thursday!!

Alright so I’ve bored you to death with this talk of walking a 1/2 marathon in Portland but I’m not sure I’ve stressed quite enough what horrible shape I’m in or the impossible training conditions I’m facing.

I’ve been following Hal Higdon’s “walking a 1/2” training schedule and haven’t really been doing too much of the “30 minute stroll” days. I do walk at least the required time but generally faster than suggested. Honestly, I think my legs are too long to walk that slow. It feels awkward.

I was proud of my extra effort and the stamina I’ve been showing after a long hibernation which might have involved baked goods and milkshakes and my ass taking the shape of my computer chair.

Until recently.

I think I broke my thighs on my 8 mile walk this weekend. Is that possible? I’m sure I heard them scream when I hit a hill at mile 7. I’m sure the neighbors heard it too. I’m moving a bit slower now.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stop for a nap and a nice glass of Shiraz because I was, at that very moment, trying to get out from between a doe and her 2 fawns. Those mamas kick and I didn’t want any part of that.

Which brings me to another issue. How the hell am I supposed to keep a good pace when I’m constantly having to stop because there’s a fairly large buck in the middle of the street staring at me like he’s wondering how far he can stick an antler into my soft, not anything close to a 6-pack, abdomen?

It’s not bad enough those guys eat my flowers on a regular basis? Now they have to interrupt my quest to lift my butt back up to where it belongs and get my thighs farther north than my ankles. Really? Not only is my body working against me, so is the neighborhood wildlife!

Did I also mention the snakes? We have this great trail that cuts between houses and goes up a hill that has a stunning view of the mountains and valley. The problem? I look like an ass when I’m bebopping along listening to music and suddenly, all by myself, I let out a scream and run because something slithered along the trail in front of me or over my shoe!

I called my dad to see if he would identify one of the snakes and he didn’t know. Seriously? The guy who, at age 9, used to take a rifle and a lunch up the mountains behind his house and stay for a few days at a time, could not identify the snake on my shoe.

I can only assume it was a mutant blend of a local snake and an illegally released highly poisonous pet and that I’m lucky to have escaped with my life.

I suppose I should be thankful I’m not running from bears. Which, by the way, is a really bad idea! I’m being told my wildlife issues will be resolved when I get to the streets of downtown Portland. But just in case, I’m taking bear spray!

And I’m asking my thighs to keep the screaming to a minimum because that’s just embarrassing.

Oh right – I have a blog don’t I?

Well hi there! Remember me?

I’m the lazy ass chick who took a summer hiatus to hang out and do mostly nothing. Well actually that’s not true. I spent a good bit of the summer in the car running the girls to nature camp, soccer camp, volleyball camp, strength/agility camp, volleyball tryouts, volleyball practice, volleyball games, parent meetings, high school registration…you know, the usual.

Only not really. This summer was crazier than usual. The odd part? The oldest one who should soon need me the least, required the most work. I feel like we’ve lived at the high school this summer. And she’s only a freshman. Or today she finally is anyway.

As of 8am this morning I have 3 daughters in 3 different schools.

D2 headed off to middle school but was somewhat over shadowed by excess goings on at the high school. It still feels monumental though. She was only in kindergarten when I was diagnosed so any new stage for her is gigantic for me. It feels good! I’m proud of how confidently she faced this new phase!

D3 still has a couple of years left at the elementary school because, even though they’re only a year apart, her birthday fell just past the cut off date for kindergarten. She’s such an old soul I feel like maybe she should be the one starting high school but nope, 4th grade instead.

So where does this leave me? Alone. But that’s ok, because I have you guys right? If any of you are still around that is.

I have plenty to do. The kids trashed the place the last couple months. Well, the kids and the 2 dogs might be more accurate. So there’s that. And I should try to figure out how to write again. My brain feels a little foggy and I don’t think all of it is from the forest fire smoke.

Oh, and I need to walk. To get my legs in shape and try to rebuild some muscle because I did something really stupid, or maybe really smart, and signed up once again for a trip to Portland in October. This year I’m walking the 1/2 marathon. No more wimpy 10k’s for me dammit!!

The tricky part is that I spent so much of the last year feeling sorry for myself over how crappy I felt that I made things worse. I think it shows in my downer writing the last months. I sat on my butt way too much, lost huge amounts of muscle which probably would have happened anyway given the muscle wasting effects of Nexavar, but not to the extent it did.

I was so convinced I was sick that I made it worse. Yes, I felt awful and my feet were killing me and all my friends went back to work but that’s no excuse for me being such a buzz kill last year. I apologize for that.

This year I’ll try not to be such a downer.

Coincidentally, as I started to get more exercise and revive a little, I got an email from a man named David Haas who asked if he could do a guest post. David is a cancer advocate and the topic he was interested in writing about was the positive effects of exercise on cancer patients. It seemed perfect for where my mind is so he’ll doing tomorrow’s post.

I don’t think it’s only for my fellow cancer peeps though. I think anyone who finds themselves faced with tough situations in life will find his words to be a good reminder to keep moving.

So I guess I’ll be back on Wednesday to give my thoughts on that. Suddenly, I think have lots to tell you. Hope your summer was fabulous!!

Cold summer in the mountains

Well, the kids are out of school, the new baby has arrived and the sun hasn’t. Which means that the kids, with the exception of D2 who is at a cool camp this week, are all right here. All the time.

With friends.

On my computer.

Looking over my shoulder.

Expecting me to feed them.

That translates into very little blog time, or really any computer time for that matter. So if I’m scarce, I will return with the new fall shows.

Oh and if anyone wants to send gifts, preferably expensive ones, my birthday is Friday.

Just sayin’.

Trying to find my way out of a funk

I’ve been really busy lately. With what, you ask?

I’ve been throwing myself one hell of a pity party. RSPVP’s were not required because, though we all like parties, this was not one you would have wanted to attend. Engraved invitations didn’t go out, hell, I couldn’t have even managed an e-vite.

I was on a high after my 5 yr anniversary post. The love and support lifted me and held me up for 3 or 4 days. Then my scan came and my fear of bad results took over. I posted a little, trying to make light of it and appear grateful for the good results. I held my head high and typed with fake enthusiasm.

I pretended to be strong and joked about my doctor’s office meltdown.

But I lied. It wasn’t joke worthy. It hurts to lose it even before getting the results. It’s hard not to be strong in the face of it all. To admit I’m weak and tired and  really really sad.

I’ve been walking in a dark cloud. I’ve struggled daily to hold back tears every time I glance in the mirror and see my lack of hair and overly thin face. I look like a cancer patient.

I’ve had friends make suggestions about what can be done with my hair. It’s made it worse. I had another friend comment to my kids that she just “had to tease their mom about her hair”.  But why? Why did she have to tease me? How does this help?

I knew my identity was tied to my copious amounts of red hair. Honestly, I’ve had very few bad hair days in my life and I do appreciate that. Up until now.

I’ve never been the pretty one but I had great hair. Through my freakishly tall, bad skin, questionable choice of band instruments days, I had the kind of hair people told me they envied. It made me walk a little taller. But honestly, how ridiculous is it to not know who I am now that it’s gone?

Someone recently asked where D2 got her gorgeous long red hair. It killed me. Absolutely broke my heart into tiny pieces.

How do I justify feeling sorry for myself over such a petty minor thing?

Should I admit how superficial I am?

Should I be embarrassed to admit how much I struggle when I’m supposed to be grateful for 5 extra years?

I guess I bare it here and hope nobody reads it. This is my therapy.

This is where I confess that I fear I won’t live long enough to see it long again. In the greater scheme of things that shouldn’t matter. But it does.

It matters to me very much.

I had a friend suggest I cut it shorter. She might be right but I can’t do it. My hair stylist knows that – she wouldn’t do it if I asked. She shaved my neck at my last appointment. It WON’T be shorter than that. She’s been through cancer treatments herself, so she knows and appreciates how much the loss of the smallest things add to the mourning of life before cancer. How my femininity is tied to my hair.

So how do I find my way out of the dark cloud of a lost identity and the exhaustion of a year of daily treatment that wears me out in every way? When does the mourning end? What’s next? Do I have the strength for another 5 years?

I don’t know.

I’m trying and SG is trying to help. He tells me I’m beautiful to him but I don’t believe him. He’s not above lying to me to try to make me feel better. I appreciate that and I’m sure I don’t want him to tell me the truth anyway.

I don’t want to be told to get a wig now that it’s just starting to come back. That’s what my mom does. She does it with love – her way of trying to help me feel better about myself.  But somehow my warped brain sees it as a reminder that the way I look now isn’t good enough. Not to her but to me.

And yes, I am feeling horribly sorry for myself when I know how much worse others have it. But why do I have to compare my feelings to that? Why can’t I just allow myself some time to wallow as long as I snap out of it by the time the girls get home from school?

I’ll get through it. I’ll contain it to after hours, after bedtime. I will get through it but not yet.

Not right now. Right now I’m sad and exhausted and out of words.