The End of An Era


My 18 year old passed away from cancer in April. It was the hardest experience of my life. Kitty and I have been together since he was 4 months old, and I was 19. He taught me how to be an adult. I grew up for him. I had to be sure I could provide food, shelter, and medical care. I’m sure that if it wasn’t for my furballs, I would have continued on the downward spiral I was on at that point in my life and continued to live on my car/in the streets, or worse.

Kitty, as you may know from this post was predeceased by Kip. Together, they constituted the dynamic duo. After Kip passed away, Kitty and I adopted Jude. While Kitty and Jude bonded extremely well, they did not have the depth of connection held by Kip and Kitty. With Kitty’s passing, it is truly the end of an era.

The past month or so has been extremely hard for me, I feel like I go through many of my days on autopilot. Some days, I am unable to determine if I am having trouble because I messed up on my post-stroke medication (I didn’t) or if I am having trouble simply because I am so upset (more probable). I feel dead inside. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who greeted you at the door every day, who slept with you every night, and was your constant companion for almost two decades.

The hardest part about the entire situation is that, let’s face it: Cancer sucks. This was not a clear cut illness as it was when Kip died of pancreatitis. Kitty turn a turn for the worse, and even with pain killers was still in pain. I could not let him continue like that. If I could have traded places with him and took the pain for him, I would have.

I’m sure I will have more clarity on the situation when I am able to fully function again. For now, our family of three is now a family of two. Jude and I have been trying to figure out what that means. In his own way, Jude is grieving too. It’s not just about me. The hardest part is that Kitty was the child I never had, my best friend, and my life partner. I am at a loss currently on how to move forward without him.

I am thankful that these past few years I have made a concerted effort to slow down my life so that I was able to spend as much time with Kitty as possible. While he has been a huge part of my life for 18 years, I was the only person in his. The steps I have taken the past few years in minimalism have helped me to focus on what is most important in life: the people and activities that bring me happiness and joy.

I have been quiet the past few months dealing with Kitty’s illness and my own. There are always challenges in life. How you respond to those challenges are a reflection of the type of person you are. Hopefully soon, I will be sharing some ways in which I am moving forward and some changes that are happening in my household.

For now, I am still hurting. That is okay. It’s healthiest to feel feeling and be able to work through them instead of shoving them aside. I am thankful that I have had a better support network in working through Kitty’s death than I had back when Kip died.

It is the end of an era in my life, and I am now facing uncertainty. One of my good friends told me recently that you don’t ever “get over” something like this; you have to “go through.” It’s hard to go through when you feel like you are stuck. If there is one thing I have learned running marathons, it is to keep moving. Walk, run, dragged, or crawl, you have to cross the finish line.

I’ll be sharing more in the future about the changes I am making as I make my way through this difficult time in life. For now, I am thankful that I have been rewinding my life real slow so I could focus on what is most important.

Reality Check

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In 23 years of driving, I have never had a collision claim. This changed this past week when I was rear-ended while stopped at a red light on my way to work. This has been one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, and it’s not over yet. Not only was the driver who hit me impaired, but also had multiple other violations as well, and there was nothing from the other driver to the police officer to the other person’s insurance company that has been easy to deal with. The factors surrounding the driver were very sketchy.

Although this is a nasty situation, I have been blessed in my ability to handle it calmly. I am sure that if this had happened before I slowed down my life, that I would not be able to “go with the flow” on this as much as I am. In fact, I remember when I hit my first deer a few years ago, that I fell apart completely. It was just too much at the time for my already overflowing plate.

I now have the time to deal with this situation as unpleasant as it may be. Life isn’t fair, and I know that. The one thing that I am very fortunate is that I was not critically injured. In that moment that my car was being struck and I was being pushed into oncoming traffic, I was worried about who would take care of my cats if something serious happened to me. That was the biggest thing that came to mind.

I know that the stress of the situation got to me, as I have been having difficulty the past few days with my autoimmune disorder on top of everything else. Stress is a trigger for the autoimmune disorder. A big part of slowing down my life was to reduce my stress levels. So while this is a bad situation, it could be worse.

This accident is just another learning experience for me to think over when it comes to making positive changes in my life. Is there another way I can take to work? I was stopped at a red light, so it was not like I was even moving. There is nothing I can change about that.

If I did not love my job as much as I do, I would try to work in a different city. I loathe the city in which I work. Since that is not currently an option, I need to figure out other ways to be safe. But seriously, if we are not safe when sitting calmly at a red light, then where are we safe? Just more reasons why I wish I could move into the woods and off the grid.

The silver lining in all this is that it helps me to remember my priorities. I need to focus more on what’s important because life is so fleetingly short. There is nothing like the feeling of “omg, I’m going to die” as you are being pushed into traffic to give you a reality check.

It’s time to prioritize what’s important. That’s why we rewind real slow.

Your favorite 1:37 story

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It all started Saturday night. I knew something was wrong when I woke up completely drenched in sweat. I just had a nightmare that I was pitching for the Yankees in the World Series. Pedroia was at bat for the Red Sox. He walked right up to me and snarled, “I’m making a line drive for your head, traitor.” Why was I pitching for the Yankees? I have nightmares about baseball every single time I have a fever. They typically involve the World Series.

That nightmare was warranted; my temperature was 102.7. If those numbers were a radio station, the call letters would be FLU, and the program completely sucks.

I’m home through Wednesday, at which point I am considered to be no longer contagious. In the meantime, I feel like I’m dying.

I’ve pretty much been sleeping since Sunday. I wake up every 3-4 hours. I’ve been awake about 3 hours in every 24. Today is a stretch – I have been awake almost 5 hours. I’m sure I’ll pay for it later.

Being home from work is not very fun. I woke up this afternoon and decided to turn the TV on. I was looking forward to some Price is Right on my TV set. Instead, there is no Price is Right. It’s Jerry Springer and a bunch of judge shows. Although I skipped my 20-year high school reunion this year, I was able to get caught up on everything today. I am pretty sure everyone on Jerry Springer is someone with whom I went to high school. I did not have to drive 2 hours to see the drama; I got it in a 30-second TV clip. I would much rather be at work.

Deciding that TV is a lost cause, I decided to pop in a Cheers DVD. It just so happens the first episode up is the one in which Coach and Sam accidentally leave Norm in the locked bar overnight. Right before leaving the bar, they had a discussion about the time – the 1:37 moment. Coach commented that although 1:37 used to be his favorite time, he is more of an 8:15 guy now.

I’d like to be an 8:15 gal now too. But right now, I’m a little all over the place. I never came back 100% from the allergic reaction I had last spring, so I am hoping that after the flu, I can come back okay. This is totally not the best time for me to be sick right now. I am definitely not a 1:37 girl. Unless that’s 1:37 pm.

What’s your favorite 1:37 story?

 

 

My Yoga Pants Went To Yoga

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Yoga pants are an essential part of a marathon runners’ wardrobe. Once you complete running 26.2 miles, yoga pants are pretty much the only things you can wear for the first 2-3 days while you recover from putting your body through the equivalent of natural childbirth. Your legs kind of flop around like a fish on land, and yoga pants are very forgiving with the first few days post-race.

I have two pairs of yoga pants. They have never been to yoga.

Until today.

I have been to yoga many times, but I do not usually wear yoga pants to yoga, I usually wear shorts. Since it is a little ridiculous to pay $45 per one-hour class to take yoga in the city in which I work, I decided to do a yoga class in the city in which I live. It was a much cheaper rate. Actually, I am on a free trial.

Thank goodness it was free. It was the first, last, and only time my yoga pants have ever been to yoga.

When I entered the facility, the instructor seemed exasperated that I came with only a mat – no blocks, no leash, none of the other yoga props – just a mat. Hey, at least I came with a yoga mat. I’m not new to the scene here, but I’m also not a hard-core yogi. I do what I can, and when I can’t, I just relax.

Her exasperation over my lack of accessories only served to strike fear into both my head and my heart. In my experience, yoga classes that require props translate into situations in which I am either going to get physically hurt or poses into which I either cannot get into, or once into, cannot get out of. Yoga classes with props give totally new meaning to the phrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” I typically do better with classes that do not require props, and when I can’t do the pose, I just lay there peacefully. This woman was like some sadistic combo of drill sergeant and dominatrix. I can’t tell you how frustrated she was at my lack of a leash.

For the record, the only leashes I want to deal with are those attached to my surfboard, or, if I had a dog, the one we use on walks. I digress.

I attend yoga mostly for relaxation, and also for some light stretching. I tore the patella tendon in my knee a few years ago, and every once in awhile, it gives me pain. I know better than to do anything overly pretzel-like. I have also had multiple head injuries, with at least 5 documented concussions, so I know I am a fall hazard if they are trying to get me to balance in some type of ballerina position. This class was obviously going to be much too rigorous for me.

I rolled up my mat and started to leave once I realized that this was not going to be the peaceful and relaxing yoga class I had envisioned. That seemed to only perplex the instructor further. She just could not understand why someone would need or want to leave her yoga class. To her credit, she did suggest that the senior citizen chair yoga class may be more my speed. I smiled and nodded politely. I have indeed taken the chair yoga class with the senior citizens years ago after my most recent head injury. I have actually successfully graduated from that class and done several gentle or slow flow yoga classes with no problem in the city in which I work. I didn’t tell her that, though. I’m just thankful for the free trial. At least I did not have to pay $45 to learn that lesson.

This year is the first year in well over 30 years that I am not in school. September has been a very hard month for me. I’m sad, I’m frustrated, and quite honestly, I have absolutely no idea what to do with myself.

My two biggest coping skills have always been running and school. I have always played the two off from one another. When school was not going well, I ran. When I had an injury that I had to rest from running, I focused more on school. Now that I am retired, I don’t have school anymore. All I have is running.

I love running, but I know that I will not be able to do it forever and I need to have a second coping skill for those times when I cannot run. I have been trying different activities. I am trying to get myself onto some sort of schedule. I like having more time to do things since I have slowed my life down, but now I don’t know what to do. I miss the structure that came with the semester and having to go to class and do schoolwork. I need to replace it somehow.

I am not sure how this is all going to shake out, but I do know that I am not going to be a yogi. I have some more activities I plan on trying to see if they fill the void I have in my life by not being in school. You never know what is going to work until you try.

For today, my yoga pants went to yoga. It was so overrated. I think they should be called marathon pants instead. I’ll have to write Victoria’s Secret to tell them I am renaming their pants. These yoga pants aren’t going to yoga again.

 

Vacation

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I’ve been working 23 years. For the first time in my work life, I just completed having a week’s paid vacation. I have never before had employment that gave me paid vacation. It was wonderful.

At one moment, I was lamenting that I did not take as many day trips this year as I have in years past. Then I realized that my life has slowed down enough that I no longer have need for the day trip escapism that was so essential to keeping me going when I was working two jobs and going to school full time. Now that my life has slowed down, I actually have a few hours each week in which I can relax without having to leave town and take a day trip. Having an entire week off completely blew my mind.

I was amazed at the fact that even though I had a week’s vacation, what I wanted more than anything was to be home. I do a lot of driving. I drive every single day. I am sick of driving. Especially where I live in the Finger Lakes, the traffic is so bad in the city in which I work that it is worse than Manhattan, Boston, or L.A. I have driven in those three cities, and would rather drive in them than drive through the city in which I work. So one of the nicest parts about being on vacation was that for nine straight days, I did not go anywhere near the city I work in, which is about 10 miles away from my house. It takes me almost an hour to drive those 10 miles one way to work on a daily basis. I did not miss it.

I did a lot of reading, a lot of hiking, a lot of sleeping, and a lot of relaxing on my vacation. I also planned some fun things for the coming fall and winter. Vacation was a great time to stop and assess where I am in life and to be sure that I am on the right track.

I am so relaxed; I don’t have anything to say.

I have heard many arguments for vacations and many for staycations. I would say that my week was a hybrid. I had four “away” days where I went on a trip, and five “home” days. I read that staycations became popular after the recession. Family vacations of the post-war period were typically camping trips that centered on family togetherness. As the extravagance of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s took over, families go to Europe or Disney. Personally, I needed home days before and after my trip just to prepare and decompress. I go from point A to point B every day of my life. The last thing I want to do on “vacation” is the same thing I do in my everyday life except in a different location. That just does not seem like vacation to me.

What fun are you having this summer? Vacation or staycation?

No Regrets

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I used to say that only had one regret in life – that moment when I moved from Massachusetts to New York. I distinctly remember moving on 4th of July weekend, thinking it ironic that at a time when everyone else was celebrating freedom, I was in fact, relinquishing mine, and voluntarily taking up chains. I spent well over 10 years after trying to return to Massachusetts.

It didn’t work. The cost of living is way too high for me to be able to pull an income to live there without being homeless. Not only did I have to face that heart crushing reality, but I also came to realize over the course of time, that I needed to let go of that solitary regret. There is a Buddhist saying that if you live in the past, you are depressed, if you live in the future, you are anxious, and to live in the present because it is a gift.

I agree wholeheartedly that the present is a gift. When I face challenges or adversities and start to become stressed, I try to summarize the situation by identifying the two or three things that are bothering me the most. Then, if I mentally set those things aside, I realize that life is pretty damn good and start counting my blessings.

Now I live with no regrets.

Regrets are borne out of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” mindset. We all have it from time to time. Sometimes we wonder how life would be if we had done this differently or chosen that over what we are doing. The key is to not get caught up in that exercise and beat yourself up over what could have been. It typically happens when we are contemplating major life changes. When faced with big choices, choice A is sure to have a distinct and different outcome than if we were to go with choice B.

I have had some pretty major life changes over the course of the past year. My 20-year career as a college student ended, and I have been out of school for 6 months now. I have no regrets. The timing was right. I was ready to be done. Four or five years ago, when various people were encouraging me to drop out of school due to my grueling commute, I was not ready to be done with school, and to drop out at that time surely would have resulted in regret. The timing was right for me to be done now. I am completely happy.

About 3 months ago, I completely deleted my faceboook account. Every so often, I will be in conversation with someone, and they will say “I saw it on facebook,” or “on facebook …” and trail off. I just smile and nod. I honestly do not feel I am missing anything by not being on facebook. My stress levels have decreased significantly. I do not feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’. I am no longer subjected to everyone’s drama. Believe me, to quote the infamous Deadpool, facebook is to my mental health like what “Limp Biskit did to music in the 90s.” I am significantly happier without it.

To add to the plethora of changes that have been occurring, I cut my hair last week. You are probably like, “whatever, I get a trim every 7 weeks.” I typically get my hair trimmed also, except this was a major cut. My hair has been halfway down my back, approaching my butt for going on 10 years, and it is now up above my shoulders closer to my ears. One of my coworkers did a double take and literally almost fell over when they saw it. It just needed to be gone. When your hair is so long and so fine that it not only gets caught in every seatbelt, purse strap, and starts to attempt to try to dreadlock itself, when you don’t want dreadlocks, then its time to be gone.

With my new hair, I can drive with all the windows down without having to worry about my hair being knotted worse that a rubber band ball, and showering is quick and easy. Believe it or not, I can still style it in my signature braids for running, although the braids are now so small, they make me look like a toddler. My hair is just slightly longer than that kewpie doll look.

I am looking to sell the bed in my spare bedroom so that I can reclaim that space for a different, yet to be determined, purpose. Not only am I changing myself, but the space around me.

Big changes that are coming in the future is that I will be shutting off my home internet, and giving up my space in the parking garage I use for work and having to walk a few miles to work from someplace that has free and safe parking. Giving up Internet and parking are going to be challenges, but are necessary changes that need to be made for financial reasons. There are only two ways to get more money in life to pay for necessities. You either earn more money or you reduce your expenses.

I could earn more money. I could apply to teach at one of the colleges in the area or look for some other part-time job. I don’t want to. I enjoy the time I have now with my given work schedule. It is not worth it to me to sacrifice my time to work another job to try to get more money. Now that I have experienced this phenomenon called leisure time for the first time in my life, I am hooked and do not want to give it up. I spent decades working 70 hours a week. I don’t want to do it again.

The only way to come up with more money to cover the unexpected medical expenses I am facing right now is to reduce my expenses. The only frivolous expenses I have are parking and Internet. So, they have to go. Once the parking and Internet bills are gone, I am only left with necessities like rent, electric, car, and insurance. If cutting parking and Internet does not free up some cash to pay medical bills, then I don’t know what will.

Before everyone throws a fit over canceling home Internet, be aware that my cell phone has unlimited Internet. When I switched phone carriers last fall, I not only saved myself over $100 a month in the switch, but I also went from having an Internet cap to unlimited. I can still email, catch the news, sports, and weather right from my phone. In fact, in looking at my Internet usage over the past 6 months since I have been out of school, the only time I bring my laptop out and plug into the Internet is when I’m writing this blog. Not only can I do that from my phone with an app, but I also have access to some places with some pretty good wifi if I want a larger platform than my phone. Spending $2 at my favorite café once a week for coffee and wifi is a whole lot cheaper for Internet at a grand total of $8 per month ($2/week x 4 weeks) than what I am paying now. Plus, going to the café once a week gets me out in the community. Or, maybe I will alternate. If I can blog through an app on my phone, then maybe I will only frequent the café twice a month. Either way, I do not feel I am using the Internet enough to justify paying for home access, and the money I will save by shutting off Internet will be better used for other bills.

The hardest transition is going to be giving up my parking pass. Having a parking pass is a huge convenience. It is close to my work, it is in a safe location, and the car is covered so I do not have to deal with snow and ice in the winter. My car is safe there. Now, the challenge will be finding a safe place to park my car. Once I do find a safe place, I will have to walk a few miles to work. Normally, this is no big deal. I run marathons, after all. The challenge is that the time of day I will be walking due to my work hours is not the safest time or place to be on my own, but after surviving some negative experiences in big cities, I will be sure to play it safe.

I have done a lot to decrease my expenses in recent years. Most of it has just been cutting out excess and fluff. Getting rid of my parking pass will be my first true sacrifice in trying to get more money to pay for bills. I am hoping I don’t regret giving up my parking pass. Time will tell. It is definitely going to be a huge change. I have viewed my parking pass as a way to keep my investment (vehicle) safe, so my life is about to get more challenging.

Whenever we face big changes in life, we have the potential for regret. I want a live a life with no regrets. I want to look at all the options, make an informed decision, and jump in with both feet: this is what I’m doing and live with the consequences. Change is scary. It is fear of the unknown. Even the best-laid plans do not always work out. We may make a decision, and then find out information later that makes us wish we had made an alternate choice. Yet we can only go on what is in front of us at that time. How do you live a life with no regrets?

Beach Reading

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Above: The one time I took a novel not related to my degree fields to the beach last summer. 

I am very fortunate to live to live in an area that boasts one of the top 10 largest book sales in the country. This weekend, I spent a whopping $8.14 on 20 paperback novels and 5 CDs. One of the CDs was brand-new, still in the plastic shrink-wrap. It was the final weekend of the Friends of the Library book sale, and I made out like a bandit.

I have been to the book sale plenty of times in the past, but this was the first time I was able to choose books out of pure pleasure. The past 20 years in school, I would read the occasional novel unrelated to my degrees over one of my school breaks. I typically had a wish list of this popular novel or that new release. This was my first time making choices based on subjects and authors I have always wanted to read and never had time to look up.

One of the novels I chose has a sticker affixed to the front proclaiming it to be a perfect beach read. That sticker made me stop and think. I have read plenty of guilty pleasure “beach reads” in the past, although I have never read any of them on a beach.

Even though I used my park pass quite frequently at the beaches last summer, I took reading for grad school with me almost every single time. I was multi-tasking to the max and not fully enjoying anything. There was only one week when I had a “slow week” writing my thesis that I took a book not related to my subject area, as I needed a break from grad school.

This summer may very well be the first time in my life that I go to a beach and sit and read a “beach read” novel while my feet are buried in sand. While I sing the praises of the library and much prefer to borrow books than purchase them at some big box store, I feel justified in my book sale purchases because the money goes back to the library. Not to mention, I try to keep library books in good condition. If I take a book to the beach, it will at the very least be sandy, and at worst, maybe wet or damp. I would rather have a book I own suffer the consequences of being a beach read then a library book.

What makes a book a good beach read? I’m not sure. This seems to be another one of those first world problems. I am joyfully looking forward to long summer days spend surfing and lounging on the beach experiencing what it feels like to read a leisure novel in sand and enjoy every moment I have in the sun.

That small sticker that says, “beach read” makes me think of how to slow my life down and enjoy more. Life has changed so much in the past 5 months that I have been out of school and started to institute major changes.

In some ways, I have been wandering aimlessly trying to figure out which activities I want to keep in my life and in which directions I wish to go. I have walked into the library and just picked up whatever was new or looked good. I have been to book club trying to figure out what I like and want to read. At the book sale this past weekend, I was finally able to confidently pick up books, and be like, “this looks good,” without having to put a lot of thought or planning into the process. I did not have to consider whether I would have time to finish the book before it was due back at the library or before school break ended. That is some sort of freedom.

When I think about beach reading, I tend to think of it in context of class. People who have more money obviously have time to sit on a beach and read. When I was going to school full-time and working 70 hours a week, spending more than 3 minutes in the shower was a luxury, forget having a few hours to wile away on a beach. Then I think back to the mid-20th century when beach trips were actually the recreation of choice for the working class. Beaches are typically free. If you had a day off, you would just grab your towel, some sunscreen, and a good book, and head into the great outdoors for the day. In today’s society, time is at a premium. Actually having time to read on a beach is finally a luxury I am going to be able to have since rewinding real slow.

What books have you read that are perfect beach reads? What makes a novel a beach read? Isn’t any book I take and read while laying in the sand a “beach read?” When we slow down our lives, we have more time to do things we really enjoy – even if that something is to sit in the sand doing nothing at all.

 

Complacency

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I was talking to someone this week that was saying that they felt stagnant. Part of complacency is fear. We are afraid to let go; we want everything to stay the same. New places and experiences are frightening. Fear of the unknown has held many in place, and it is often a detriment.

This same person inspired me to reignite my passion(s). Since finishing school last fall, I have been kind of wallowing. I was a college student for 20 years – practically my entire adult life, and I honestly do not know what to do with myself or how to fill the void that is left now that I am not in school. I have been trying various activities, and it has been hard to find my groove.

I also realized that when we become complacent, we become reactive instead of proactive. I have pretty much simply been responding to whatever crisis or need happens to need my attention instead of being anticipatory and trying to do proactive things to make my life easier. When I was a full time student and working 70 hours a week across two jobs, there were some proactive survival skills I employed, such as preparing large batches of food ahead of time and freezing them in individual portions, so that I would always have allergy friendly food to eat with my hectic schedule.

Yet nothing has prepared me for life in the real world as an adult. I have a new set of challenges and circumstances for which to prepare. It has now been 6 months (6 months!) that I have been out of school and in the real world; it has been a rude awakening. While it may sound cliché, I have learned that even the best-laid plans can be shaken down to their very foundations and destroyed. Survival skills that I learned and used while going to school full time and working 70 hours a week now need to be adapted to address the unique challenges of trying to juggle work, health issues, and leisure time.

Ah, leisure time! Such a first world problem!

The number one thing I have learned these past few months is to be grateful every single day for everything I have and do, for those things are fleeting.

In the words of the great philosopher, and star of my most favorite movie of all time, Deadpool: “Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief commercial-like breaks of happiness.” The only way to achieve those breaks of happiness is to break out of complacency and push the envelope. The best moments lay just beyond your comfort zone.

To this end, not only have I completely re-evaluated my priorities in life, but also I have made a concerted effort to double my KonMari  efforts in evaluating my possessions and surroundings to be sure that I am living an authentic life and that I have and do things that are in complete alignment with my values and goals.

A small example of an area in which I have been complacent is my spare bedroom. Now, 5 or 6 years ago when I started my minimalist journey, I did so with the intention of preparing for a large out-of-state move. That move did not happen. I then nested. I took my spare room, which had been a cat playland/library and turned it into an actual spare bedroom. This was partially due to trying to live out one of my fantasy selves: that of the socialite who frequently holds house parties and entertains overnight guests from out of town who come to visit me from far away so that I am not always the one that has to do the traveling.

In the 5 or so years that the spare bedroom has been in existence, it has been used maybe twice. To me, that is not enough justification to keep the space as a spare bedroom. First, if I were to move, then I would no longer be able to afford a 2-bedroom. I would at most be in a 1-bedroom, probably a studio (most likely living in my car again) with the way housing prices have skyrocketed in my area. Second, while I do have an extra room as long as I am living here, I want to be able to use that room for my own purposes, and not simply have it there to be kept clean awaiting company I never have.

I have decided to sell the bed in the spare bedroom. The money is going to be put toward my passion of running (I will not have sponsorship for my fall race this year, and must cover my hotel room and expenses in entirety). Not only am I going to shake myself of the complacency of maintaining a spare bedroom that is not used or needed, but also I am going to use the money to fuel a passion, and once the spare bedroom is empty, I will use the room to fuel another (as yet undetermined) passion.

I’ve always said I wish I had my own treadmill so that I could run inside when the weather is icy without having to leave my house and without needing a gym membership. In fact, my “dream life” is to be in a house in the woods completely off the grid run by solar panels, and of course, a treadmill so I could run in inclement weather. Who knows – once the bed is gone in the spare bedroom, I may seriously look at using that room for a treadmill. Time will tell.

The point is, the more we move out of complacency, the more beautiful life can be because we can control some of what happens to us. We can be proactive instead of reactive, and put into motion things that we want to have happen instead of waiting for life to happen to us. If life is only punctuated by brief moments of happiness, then I want some control over what that happiness entails.

If we operate from a place of happiness and gratitude, then we are better equipped to face the challenges that life throws at us. If you have ways to get either through or around the train wreck, then the continual train wrecks of life are just a little bit more manageable.

Break out of complacency. Fuel your passion.

 

 

Don’t Mess with People Who Run 26.2 Miles For Fun

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Above: When I earned my BAA medal in 2010. Out of my 14 medals, my BAA means the most to me.

Friday was One Boston Day, the third anniversary of the heartbreaking bombing of OUR marathon by domestic terrorists. The Boston Marathon is the oldest and most prestigious marathon in the world; it is a race that belongs to everyone. Whether you qualify or not, Boston is the race that shows the truth of the human spirit and the unfailing love that is part of the running community.

While my work schedule is often hectic and beyond my control, I did manage to observe a moment of silence close to the time when the first bomb went off on Friday. I remember that day three years ago, when I felt like someone literally took a sword and pierced my very soul. It was one of the deepest emotional pains I have ever felt in my life. I would have to say that it was one of the three worst moments I have experienced. Even though I was in NYC in 2001, I would have to say that for me, Boston felt more personal.

As horrific as that moment was, every single minute that has come after has shown the strength, resilience, and perseverance of the community of runners. It has been amazing to see how everyone, even people who are not runners, rally around us to help and heal.

The Boston Marathon is OUR marathon. The finish line belongs to everyone. The marathon represents hope to everyone. It represents the challenges and adversity people overcome to be able to toe the start line. It represents sacrifice. Mornings when we got up at 4 am to run when we would much rather push snooze and roll over. Afternoons spent running in the rain just to get the miles in the tank. Most importantly, the Boston Marathon represents LOVE. And it belongs to everyone. You just don’t mess with people who run 26.2 miles for fun.

Today is Marathon Monday. Happy Patriot’s Day, Massachusetts! This is the day when the crowds line the streets to cheer the accomplishments of everyone in the race. It is a day to come together and celebrate and be kind to one another. We have overcome the atrocity of 4.15.13 by showing each other tenderness and mercy in a time of need. As my hero Kathrine Switzer has said, “If you ever doubt the strength of the human spirit, watch a marathon.”

Speaking of heroes, today also marks 50 years of women being allowed to run the marathon. I am thankful for the opportunity to run every single day. At one time, women were not allowed to run more than a mile because it was thought that running more than that would make us unable to bear children. Of course, we all know this is a misconception. Many women have both ran marathons and bore children. However, it should be noted that part of the confusion came from the fact that when we run a marathon, it works the muscle groups directly below those used in natural childbirth. So yes, they are equivocally the same. Running a marathon pretty much does the same thing to our bodies as natural childbirth. However, marathoning does nothing to interfere with our ability to bear children. This was a huge hurdle that had to be overcome in order for women to be able to run marathons.

While Kathrine Switzer is well known for running Boston using only her first initial for registration and surviving an attempt by the race director to throw her off the course screaming “Give me those numbers,” we must remember that, in fact, the first woman to run Boston was Bobbi Gibb. Bobbi is one of the pioneers of women’s running that helped pave the way for the rest of us. 50 years ago women were not allowed to run marathons. Today, we make up about half the field in almost every race.

In 1980, American Joannie Samuelson won gold in the inaugural women’s marathon in the Olympics. Just a short 36 years ago, we showed the world that not only can women run marathons, but also that we can do so on a competitive international level. The three women: Bobbi, Kathrine, and Joan are the pioneers of women’s running. Today’s Boston Marathon is a celebration of the barriers we have overcome to be able to run this great race.

I am so proud and so blessed to have the ability to run. It is the greatest gift that I have in life. While considered a solitary sport, it is amazing to see what we can do once you get a group of runners together. We run to raise money for charity. We run to bring awareness to causes. We continue to run even when we are hungry and tired. We run through joy, we run through tears. We just keep going, because to stop would be one of the greatest pains to experience.

There is a meme that has gone around the Internet in running circle with a Matrix-like scenario. If you take the red pill, you can continue running at your current level for the rest of your life. If you take the blue pill, you will see significant improvement in your ability to be competitive, but your super running ability will only last for 5 years and then you will not be able to run anymore. I choose the red pill. Every time. I choose the red pill. I cannot imagine my life without running in it.

I will be doing a trail run today in solidarity with Boston. The day I earned my Boston medal in 2010 was one of the best days of my life. Let us never forget 4.15.13. We must honor those that we lost by continuing to run. We must run for those who cannot because we know they would do the same for us. We must show all terrorists everywhere that even if you bomb our race, it will not stop us from toeing the start line and from crossing finish lines again and again. Each step that we take is a step full of love.

You don’t mess with people who run 26.2 miles for fun because we have the ability to be, show, and bring out the best in humanity. Today we celebrate not only women’s running but also the hope and love that the marathon symbolizes. #BostonStrong

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Thanksgiving Day in April

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I had a bad day today.

Nobody wants to hear bad things. People want to hear good things. Before you stop reading, let me tell you this: It reminded me to be grateful.

That’s right, grateful.

I remember a time about 4 years ago, when I had a job so atrocious with a boss who micromanaged me with the precision of a Lego drill sergeant, that the most positive part of my day was lunch time. That’s right, lunchtime. I remember the person whom I was dating at the time trying to be supportive, knew better than to ask, “how was your day?” Instead they would ask, “How was lunch?”

In vast contrast to four years ago, my life today is at the most positive place it has ever been in my 37 years of life. For the first time, I literally have it all: A roof over my head, a working vehicle, 2 healthy cats/kids that love me, a job I love that pays me well & allows me to meet all my obligations each month. I am finally done with school & have more leisure time than I have ever had in life or know what to do with. The only thing missing is the person to share life with, and well, that just happens sometimes.

So what is one bad day? I need to have Thanksgiving in April. You know, I’ve always said Thanksgiving should not just be one day, but every day all year long.  It’s true. We should be thankful every day.

I am quickly approaching my one year anniversary of when I made a life changing decision to go from two minimum wage $9/hour jobs working 60-70 hours a week to working one living wage job working 25-30 hours per week. Even though it was one of the scariest decisions I have ever made in my life, I am glad I took the chance and jumped in blind with two feet. The past year has quite literally been the best year of my life.

Not only am I able to pay all of my bills, but also I am able to take care of myself better than I was able to before. My food allergies and autoimmune condition are very demanding, yet the past year they have been relatively under control.

Thanksgiving should not just be one day in November. We should be thankful every day for our blessings in life. Every day.

What are you thankful for today? How can you have Thanksgiving in April?