Treadmill

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She’s gone.

She died a slow, painful, sputtering death almost two months back now.

Her last leg was 13.1 miles on a very cold, winter day.

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A personal best, if there is such a thing on a treadmill, was a great way to go out.

What is a girlfriend to do when her best friend leaves her with no fallback plan?

After all purchasing a new treadmill during the post Christmas/ New Year’s health kick rush is not fiscally prudent.

And living without a daily run was not an option according to the girls who loudly and very vocally told everyone they knew that their Momma was not fun to be around when she missed a run.

That’s how I found myself one Saturday morning at the local gym purchasing a monthly membership and promising myself I would only come long enough to get me to  spring when treadmill prices would plummet.

In the intervening weeks from the time I joined until today, I have found myself in the throes of a metamorphosis. The woman who thought running was the only sport which would satisfy her soul has now found herself eagerly awaiting her strength training days.

She’s also found herself relishing the indoor track. My sprint runs have turned me into an athlete I didn’t think possible as I enter my 40’s.

And those people at the gym, I sort of find myself looking forward to seeing them each day. My crew, usually in the women’s only section, quietly motivates each other. I the recluse runner recognize the power of working out with a team.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still anxiously awaiting the day when I can once again respond to my 4:45am alarm, lace up my shoes and head downstairs for my morning run.

But, for now, I will be grateful that the death of something once deemed essential, was the catalyst for the birth of something new.

 

 

 

Here

I’m still here.

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While the celebrations have ended the marchers and the revelers gone home, there is a group of us day after day, week after week and year after year who remain, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office or gavels congress into session.

We wake up each day kiss our children and our partners and go about our work believing we make a difference in a world that for a very long time has viewed us as inconsequential.

We welcome your presence in this city. Whether you wore a pink or a red hat we applaud your enthusiasm.

We do have one request.

Don’t let this month or this week be just a Facebook picture or a Tweet. Let this be the beginning of your participation in our democracy.

If I may be so bold, may I offer you some advice from a well worn lobbyist?

Don’t save your vote for once every four years. When this spring rolls around and the polling places open again, please don’t tell us you aren’t voting. More is decided twice a year in the voting booth in your town then all year in Washington D.C.

Show up. No doubt at some point soon you will receive a mailer from your school board, your township trustee or even your congressional representative asking for your participation in a town hall or community conversation. Your first reaction should be to clear your calendar and to engage.

Turn off the TV and pick up a pen. Yes I said pen. Write your elected a letter. Start by thanking them for their service. Then let them know what you are thinking. Ask questions and offer to be a resource.

Speak with passion to your children about why you choose to engage in this great democracy. The last thing I want to see happen is this increased interest in the political process be fleeting. My hope is that my daughters will never question why they engage politically because being a part of the national conversation becomes an EXPECTATION of their generation.

One last thing. Pray for all of those that work daily in a place they believe has great beauty and even greater potential.

Until next time.
I’m not going anywhere.
I will be here when you return.

Muscle

Once a week Joe and I have a date.

We meet up at the back of the Fleet Feet store on Lane Avenue where he spends anywhere from 30-45 mins working me hard.

Joe is my physical therapist.

I’ve been battling pain in my hip and leg. It’s gone on for a very long time.

I traditionally had one of two approaches to handling the injury.

I self medicated with Aleve and continued to run

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I would talk my primary care physician into giving me a cortisone injection (those usually occurred every 3 -6 months) and continue to run.

Both options masking the pain, never getting at the root of the problem.

The gig was up earlier this fall when the pain became so great my long runs were torture. My primary care doctor refusing to give me anymore cortisone, referred me to a sports medicine doctor who specialized in runners. After x-rays to rule out a few injuries the sports medicine doctor sent me to Joe for six weeks of PT. He said Joe was the best in the business when dealing with my type of injury.

On day one Joe laid out what I was up against, the work I had ahead of me.

After years of the same repetitive motion, one side of my body was weaker than the other.  My one hip dropping lower than it should.

Somewhere deep inside that hip, buried under other muscle, was one little muscle who had been doing a ton of work. That muscle was not strong enough to carry the load.

Over the last year other muscles around that little muscle had been trying hard to make up for its failings. The result was now the pain I felt in the larger muscles (my hamstring) and in my nerves, who had become irritated by the little muscle.

Pain as a result of ignoring the issue and not strengthening the muscle.

I didn’t realize how weak I was.

Isn’t that how life sometimes works? It takes another person to point out the areas of weakness we couldn’t see ourselves?

I have a half marathon in Rochester, NY on January 7.

Joe promises, if I do the work, it will be a pain free race.

Message heard clearly.

No longer masking the pain, weakness noted, I’ll be putting the time in to course correct.

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Recovering

3,285 sun rises ago on a rainy, October morning he soared.

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The rest of us left with lingering memories of the booming voice, bear hugs and weekend runs.

I love to dream of him. When I wake up, for a brief second, I am granted a reprieve from my grief, as I forget he has died.

Most days though, while his passing is a part of my life, the scar is covered by the realities of this world. We all just move forward, nine years into our journey.

What do I want to leave you with?

I want you to know, in ways I cannot articulate, how wonderful my daddy was.

And, I want you to understand that others walk this path and feel the loss too, year after year, day after day.

Our fast paced world seeks to rush past it. We speak less and less of those whose passing was momentous to our lives.

How about instead we recognize that we are all always recovering?

That loss does not occur in a moment.

There is no time limit on grief.

Let’s give each other the grace to dance with the pain in public long after its perceived expiration date.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neither

I’m not with her,

or with him.

It’s not that I can’t decide.

It’s simply that I decide neither.

He’s not my party.

She’s not my person.

Neither represent what I believe.

Neither (for different reasons) are role models I want my young girls to emulate.

I don’t care if you feel I am throwing away my vote.

I am standing on principal; doing it loudly, not in silence.

As we do every spring and fall, the little ladies and I will walk into our polling station.

I will check the box for men and women I know make me proud of their service and their ideals.

At the top of my ticket, one box will remain empty.

I’m not with her.

He’s not with me.

Given a choice,

I vote neither.

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An ending

The end came with a whisper.

A quiet acknowledgement on the eve of my 39th birthday that we were no longer capable of moving forward together.

The breath catches in my throat when I think of the beauty gained from knowing this man; the place he carved in my life.

I am grateful for having shared a piece of this journey with him.

I am in awe of what his love taught me.

And so on my birthday, I choose to celebrate the many blessings of my life;

to thank God for all of those he has chosen to walk this road with me, even those who aren’t here to stay.

"They say that if one understands himself, he understands all people. But I say to you, when one loves people, he learns something about himself." ~Kahlil Gibran art by Kimberly Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

Forever

I can’t recall a time that our lives were not woven together.

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Days of dress up in my room;

school field trips and projects;

birthday parties in her parent’s basement;

proms and graduations;

weddings and babies, and moves and heartbreak.

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She knows the totality of my life.

And in those dark days when I shut the world out, she stood there waiting.

She doesn’t ask me for more than I can give.

Again and again she is there, a lifetimes worth of showing up.

Audrey calls her my forever friend,

a person you have known so long you can’t remember a time without them.

After a weekend spent together, where as always its as if we never missed a beat, I think about the blessing it is to have her as my forever, the beauty in the intersection of our lives.

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Patience

In this world of immediate gratification, I am learning to live with longing.

Not the kind of longing that paralyzes you with fear, but the kind that tells you in the waiting you will find your greatest reward.

The answers won’t arrive with the speed of a freight train. They come slowly, with the pace more akin to that of a meandering  donkey on the road to Bethlehem.

With each sunrise, I open my mouth in prayer, hopeful the answers will come.

I choose with that same prayerful breath to acknowledge the goodness to be had in the waiting.

The growth to be gained from the longing.

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Lessons

My daddy taught me to be grateful, to show grit;

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to ask questions then listen closely to the answers;

to smile deeply and love without expectations.

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He showed me that life, like riding a bike is more than just forward motion, it’s balancing on two wheels.

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He chided me for tears that came from tantrums, but held me when the eyes were wet from things that go bump in the night.

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He was my biggest cheerleader and my sharpest critic.

He was my love story before my heart grew wings.

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For thirty years, I ran by his side at a steady clip.

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But, it took loosing him for my legs to learn that they could fly.

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Grace

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Grace given in daily doses.

The amount needed to see us through those 24 hours.

If only we knew to live in the present; to accept grace in the manner given.

Instead we seek to hoard it, begging for more than what’s needed in the moment.

Grant me thy grace in advance, as if today were my retirement and I was cashing in the 401k.

But grace doesn’t work like that.

It is given freely.

It is renewed daily.

He knows what’s needed. He catches us in our moments of weakness and helps us to rise.

When we lose our temper with our children, fail at our jobs and doubt God, he steps in and doles out the grace.

We can live in the moment.

When I try to plan ahead, a prayer for a peak down the path of what my life will hold, I simply need to return to Our Father’s prayer-

Give us this day our daily bread.

His grace is there feeding me daily.