Posted in Thinking

Thinking about Chick-fil-A, Wounds and Kindness

As most have heard, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A, made some comments during an interview that he and the company believe in “the biblical definition of marriage” meaning they oppose gay marriage.

I support Cathy’s right to believe in what he calls “the biblical definition of marriage.” After all, this is America and the constitution gives us freedom of religion.

And I support Cathy stating publicly what he believes… after all, our constitution gives us freedom of speech.

With freedom of speech it’s a given that sometimes people will be hurt by what others say. And that’s what happened and there’s been a big reaction. Suddenly we find ourselves in an interesting place. As Conan O’Brien tweeted,

“It’s hard to believe that the greatest division
in American politics these days is “pro-“ or “anti-Chick-fil-A.”

Along with those beliefs, Chick-fil-A also donated money to organizations that oppose gay marriage, so some are calling for a boycot of Chick-fil-A and others are eating there more than ever. Since I don’t eat chicken and I rarely eat fast food, I’ve never eaten at Chick-fil-A (yes, imagine that, it is possible to live without waffle fries and chicken sandwiches) so deciding whether to eat there now is not an issue for me.

But I do understand the concern about having our money going to fund things we do or don’t agree with. Though in reality, it’s impossible to know where our money goes to with many purchases we make—the gas I use in my car could come from a country where women aren’t even allowed to drive—so we each need to do what we are comfortable with concerning where we spend our money.

Along with all that, a few mayors made threatening comments about not allowing Chick-fil-A to open restaurants in their cities, which was stupid. A mayor (nor anyone else) has any right making decisions like that based on anyone’s religious beliefs.

So in some ways, I think there’s been an overreaction to Cathy’s comments. Would people have responded in the same way if he would have come out and said that he believes in the  biblical definition of how to treat foreigners? Or what about believing in the biblical definition of divorce? (btw… just like marriage, neither of them has one specific biblical definition)

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But in another way the reaction doesn’t surprise me,
due to the history of pain about this issue and due to the recent pain
many experienced when laws to provide marriage equality didn’t pass.
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As I was finding my way out of a dark vortex of depression following severe trauma from an accident, I learned that feelings can accumulate. My injuries caused me excruciating amounts of pain, so I assumed that future minor pain wouldn’t bother me. I figured I wouldn’t even flinch if I got a paper cut or a bee string in the future.

But it didn’t work that way, especially during the first few years post-accident. Every little pain hurt like hell, which was frustrating and sometimes sent me a few steps back into depression. I wondered what my problem was until my counselor taught me that pain can accumulate which can cause minor pains to be magnified. Because I had experienced so much pain, any little pain sent my pain-o-meter over the top.

I was relieved to know that I wasn’t
turning into a super-wimp, but that my body
needed extra love and kindness due to all it had been through.
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So I couldn’t help but wonder if this strong reaction could be because everyone’s tolerance level had reached its capacity. Could it be because there has been so much discrimination and previous intolerance that Cathy’s remarks sent people’s tolerance-o-meter over the top?

And just like I needed to respect my pain and be extra kind to my body due to all the wounds I had, I wondered if extra care and kindness would be considerate in this situation, due to all the wounds people who are gay have faced.

To check my assumptions, I asked a few friends who are gay what their thoughts are about this shake-up. Their personal level of offense was minimal, because they respect the rights of others to believe what they wish, so they all agreed that Cathy is entitled to his own beliefs and he has the right to voice them.

But they are all tired… tired of not being respected for who they are, tired of the wounds they have endured and tired of shakeups like these, which add salt to those wounds. They aren’t asking for special treatment, but they are tired of not getting equal respect.

For those of you thinking the reaction has been over the top…

Could we all take a moment to think about pain and wounds… and love?

Love is kind. So since a large portion of this reaction is coming from a place of injury, wouldn’t love and kindness would be more beneficial than ignoring or dismissing the concerns? After all, it is kind to recognize and acknowledge the pain others feel.

When I was dealing with pain, the worse thing was having people minimize or dismiss my pain… which was done in various ways from telling me about someone who has worse pain to reminding me that I should be grateful because I survived life-threatening injuries to telling me there is a plan for all this pain and that I’m a better person because of it. (while there may be some truth in some of those thoughts, that’s not what I needed to hear at that time)

The kindest thing people could say was something like… I’m sorry.
This sucks. How are you coping with all this? What can I do to help?
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In light of that… could we all consider asking people who are gay how they feel and listen to what they are saying. Can we acknowledge their struggle and pain without judging them?

The people most likely to dismiss my pain were people who have not dealt with severe pain, so will we recognize that if we haven’t dealt with what it feels like to have who we are criticized, judged and marginalized, we don’t know what it feels like?

Will we attempt to recognize this oversized reaction is about so much more than chicken and waffle fries as Conon Gaughan wrote about in his piece We are not Arguing Over Chicken.

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To all my readers, will we treat others as we want to be treated?
And what do you think about Dan Cathy’s comments and the shakeup that followed? And how are you dealing with it all?
And to my readers who are gay… I’m sorry for the pain you had and continue to have. That sucks. What can I do to help?

 

Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!

This is post four in a series of sharing your inspiring stories in my quest to take over the negative news media by sharing positive, inspiring stories from others who are…
doing what they can, with what they have, where they are. 

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Troy and Janet

Last year, I was at dinner with friends and one of them talked about her nephew Troy, who was adjusting to a new normal after an accident changed his life.

She mentioned that he was planning to do a 5k later in the year. Of course, I knew he was someone I wanted to connect with and soon after that we did—first on Facebook and then in real life.

Though our stories are different, they are similar. Both our lives changed suddenly and the changes are with us every day in almost everything we do.

Since his injuries, Troy not only returned to a love of his before the accident—playing street hockey, but he also started a new sport… running! Eleven months after the accident, Troy decided to start running and last December, about 18 months after his accident, I joined him when he ran his first 5k.

Find out more about Troy in this interview…

Janet: Tell us when/how your world changed.

Nothing stops Troy!

Troy: On 6/11/2010 my world was completely rocked when an SUV ran a stop sign and slammed into the side of me on my motorcycle. I lost my leg that night at the hospital and so that was the start of my life as I know it now.

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How does this affect your daily life?

This affects my daily life in many areas, but some that really stand out are taking showers. I can’t get my prosthetic leg wet because the foot spring is made of steel and that will rust if not properly aired out. So when I shower, I need a seat for safety reasons.

Other things that it affects is that throughout the day I need to remove and replace my leg because it gradually starts to work itself loose through daily activities. I also need to plan ahead the night before about whether or not I will be running or playing hockey the next morning. I need to apply antiperspirant to my stump in order to minimize sweat and therefore my leg will stay on better when participating in strenuous activities.

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What do you miss about your life before the accident?

I miss being able to just jump out of bed in morning without grabbing the crutches. I miss not having to think about climbing steps or running. I also miss being able to stick all ten toes in the sand.

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What obstacles have you overcome that you or others didn’t know if you could?

Along the way there were many obstacles. Each one that I overcome opens up another challenge for me. In order there were a few that come to mind….. walking without support, climbing stairs one foot over the other, running, driving manual transmission, running a 5k, running a 5 mile.

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Finished! A 5-mile race on July 4th.

 

What dreams and goals have you reached since the accident?

I am now back to doing what I love most, playing hockey. I also have run three 5k races and a 5 mile.

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What dreams and goals do you have for yourself in the future?

My next goal is to finish a 10k in September. I also think about a half-marathon sometime in the future. I want to continue to improve my hockey game as well. I also want to be able to help others realize that they can overcome obstacles in their lives.

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What does a well-lived day look like to you… or in other words, if you knew you were dying tomorrow, what would you do today?

I would run until I couldn’t run anymore. I would enjoy the outdoors. I may light a fire in the fire pit and enjoy the company of my family. I would leave it all out on the hockey rink. I would tell my friends and family how much they’ve helped me through this 2 year journey of mine.

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Enjoy this video Troy put together about his story…

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I’ve been impressed with Troy’s determination
to do what he can, with what he has, where he is… because he can!

Dancing with his daughter at her recent wedding.

Leave Troy a comment, ask him a question and/or give him a virtual high-five for his determination to live life well, even with obstacles to overcome. And visit (and like) his Facebook page, A Leg Up.

One more thing… Troy didn’t ask for this and will probably be annoyed I did this, but what are friends for? At this time, Troy runs on his regular prothesis, but he would like a prothesis made for running… one of those super-cool-metal-bendy ones (I’m sure that’s the official description of them) Of course, insurance doesn’t feel that’s a necessity, so he’s saving his pennies to get one someday. If you are interested in helping him with a gift of any amount, send it to…
Troy Roland – 437 S State Street – Ephrata, PA 17522

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*More of Your Inspiring Stories
Chris Kaag—Doing What He Can, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can

Running Truly is for all Ages
Beverly Shantz, Living and Laughing—Because She Can!
Roni Noone does Fitbloggin’—Because She Can!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can!
Michele Lynn—Believed She Can… and She Did!
Posted in Personal,
Body

Giving up and Loving it… Because I Can!

I had plans for a very active weekend, extending into Monday, but on Monday things didn’t go quite like I had planned.

I had planned to do a 10k. 
But then I decided I’ll only do a 5k.
And in the end I only did a 1 mile walk/run.

Let me explain…

I rarely go to a gym, but I want to do some cross-training, so on Saturday I did a fitness class at Corp Fitness. I’ve had too much pain and have no need to have more, so I modified one or two of the exercises because I didn’t want to injury my leg. By doing that I could do the whole hour class and to my surprise I liked it, because it was so different from running. Though it was hard, I liked the change of pace  and I wasn’t dying during it.

For the rest of the day, I was tired, but not sore. But that all changed on Sunday morning. I woke up with my upper legs and hips screaming. I was so freakin’ sore! Apparently the exercises were very different from running and I used muscles that had been chillaxin’ for years.

I was signed up to do the Run For Taylor 5k on Sunday morning and since I was going with a few friends, I went. I figured the run would help shake out the soreness. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I took Ibuprofen before the race, which I never do, but between my soreness and the major hills on that course, I ended up walking as much as running and I got sorer as the race went on.

The rest of Sunday I was popping meds… and Jerry was laughing every time he saw me sit down or get up slooooowly. After years of listening to my body, I didn’t think I had injured anything, but I sure had overused some muscles and they were not going to let me forget it.

And my workouts weren’t done yet, I had signed up for a 10k on a golf course on Monday evening at 5pm (done then due to golf course availability) because I knew it would be a beautiful place to run. And also because it was put on by OneRun Together, which raises money for cancer patients and their families.

On Monday morning, I felt better, but was still sore and remembering my recent post about how sometimes we need to be willing to give up on our original plans and readjust our goals, I decided to drop down to the 5k. When I arrived, I warmed up with a walk and some stretches, surprised at how sore I still was and wondering how the heck I was going to do 3.1 miles.

The first quarter mile was on an asphalt golf cart path. As I ran that, every sore muscle complained LOUDLY and I was asking myself why I was even attempting to run. Leaving the path, the course was on a grassy slope… which is bad for my left leg/foot on a good day and now having sore upper legs and hips, I had to be extra careful that I didn’t overturn my ankle.

After walking carefully on the grass for a little… I was done!
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'No running' photo (c) 2009, Quinn Dombrowski - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
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At the next turn they were directing the 1-mile folks to the left and the 5k and 10k runners to the right and I proudly walked to the left. For the first time in my life, I quit a race early and I couldn’t have been happier!

Sometimes my body can’t… but I can use my brain to say I can quit. 

Our bodies use pain to talk to us and mine was talking LOUDLY… it needed a break.  As I mentioned in a recent interview on BlissTree

I don’t believe in the old-school mentality of no pain, no gain. Pain is our body’s way of talking to us, so we have to be wise and evaluate where and why we have pain and then make a wise decision on whether the pain needs rest, stretching, gentle running, a different exercise, etc.

Today I had a noon speaking gig and after standing for an hour my legs were complaining again. So now I’m on my recliner and I will baby my aching body the rest of the day and maybe tomorrow and the next day and the next… maybe until Christmas.

So running friends, if you don’t hear from me in the next week/month/year, you might want to check in with me and see if I ever plan to run again.

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Have you ever dropped out of a race or something else you planned to do, because your body was talking to you? Where you glad or sad you did?

 

My Review of THE BIG BOOK!

Plan ahead.
Build a base.
Make the time.
Think about training plans. 
Set realistic training and race goals.

All great advice, especially good at this time for those of us doing fall races. I’m planning for the Runner’s World Half on October 21st and I know many of you will be there also.

We are now 13 weeks from race weekend, and since most half-marathons training plans are 12 weeks long, this is the week of do some research, look at some plans and think about your training for more than 2 minutes.

I’ve suffered through enough races over the years to know that planning is wise! So now I’m looking at my calendar and thinking about my overall schedule (because I do have a life outside of running) and I try to plan out my long runs. Sometimes I’ll do them on the weekend, but if my weekends are busy (gotta party sometimes) then I plan to do them midweek.

Recently I read The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training and it is a perfect book for beginning to intermediate runners to read a few months before a race and then to keep close by if you need to refresh some info and/or get some motivation during the weeks you are training.

For starters, I like the bold, large font of the book (yes, showing my age) and I like the parts and chapters the book is broken into. It covers everything from thinking about what race you choose, the training needed to make it happen and what to expect on race day.

Then it also covers nutrition and injury prevention, both which are overlooked too often, but are a major key to have a successful experience. The cool thing is, the book doesn’t insist that you do this or that or else you will die. It suggests various options for everything from stretches to cross-training to food choices to remedies to race plans.

It even includes advice on washing/drying your running clothes… after all, you have to get the stink out and you want them to last as long as possible.

The book is a collaboration from three folks very familiar with running… Jennifer Van Allen, Bart Yasso and Amby Burfoot. The sidebars are full of easy-to-read advice.

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Amby’s Advice on jumping into doing a half or full marathon soon after you start running: Be realistic about your expectations. Unless you’re young and fit, you’ll have to do most of your training on a run-walk pattern…. don’t be afraid—just have reasonable expectations. And follow a solid training program that builds up your miles. They can be slow miles, but you gotta do them. (See the full quote on page 4)

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And sprinkled through-out are stories from everyday runners like you and I. They include personal stories of success and also some tips on what worked and what didn’t.

Read about Jeremy and how running helped him deal with fatigue and depression while undergoing cancer treatment.

And be encouraged by Belynda’s story… she was so tired of being sick and tired, so she started moving and with the run/walk method, she lost 100 pounds.

Christopher’s story of becoming symptom-free from chronic disease is very inspiring. Running liberated him from the debilitation effects of Tourette’s syndrome and the side effects of the medication.

And Tammie shares how people close to her thought she was a nutcase for wanting to run, but connecting with other runners at races unlocked a whole new world of incredible people who made her feel normal because they were runners also.

And read how Mary, an attorney and mother of four finds time to train for marathons even with a busy schedule.

The sidebars include great advice from Bart Yasso.

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Bart Says… It’s easy to get discouraged when you see the pack disappearing in the distance. This is hard, no bones about it. Just remember that everybody who is ahead of you has been the beginner at some point—and probably finished near the back of the pack when they were—so everybody knows what it’s like to be in your shoes. (See the full quote on page 51)

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The book finishes with some menu options, along with marathon and half-marathon beginner, intermediate and advanced training plans.

So whether you are training for a particular race right now or not… here’s some more great advice from The Big Book:

Watch your form.
Warm up and cool down.
Start slow and build gradually.
Alternate between hard and easy efforts.

Check out more info about The Book here and if you have any running/training questions… order yourself a copy and enjoy!

Buying yourself a copy means you’ll have all the info needed to train and join me and many others at the Runner’s World Half and Festival Weekend on October 19-21… here’s more info.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Runner’s World Big Book of Marathon and Half-Marathon Training from Rodale Press to review, but this review is solely my own… because no one tells me what to do! (just kidding mom, I quit saying/believing that years ago, but in this scenario it’s appropriate.)
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Posted in Thinking

A Gunman, a Movie Theater and Senseless Violence

'Mourning' photo (c) 2008, Myrrien - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Senseless violence, suffering and pain… this time in a movie theater in the middle of the night. My heart breaks, there’s not much one can say.

Actually, I’m not sure there’s anything an unaffected* observer like myself could or should even attempt to say. (*affected in the sense that I’m heart-broken, but not directly affected by knowing anyone involved)

And I’m no expert about what one should say when someone’s loved one, friend or acquaintance is injured or dies, especially in a brutal shooting…
but here’s a few suggestions:

I’m so sorry.
I have no idea what you must be feeling.
I don’t know what to say, but I’ll be glad to listen.

What can I do to help?

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But there are definitely a few things no one
should say about the loss of lives or the injured. 

Everything happens for a reason.
I understand the loss you are feeling.
My brother/aunt/cousin/friend died or was injured, so I know what you are going through.
God will never give you more than you can handle.
They are in a better place now.
It’s part of God’s (life’s) plan.
Someday you will understand.
The universe knows what you/we/they need.

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Some of you will think that you or certain situations are different and therefore it’s okay for you to say these things. I know I haven’t talked to the world, but I hear from a lot of people dealing with difficult situations and each one has heard some or all of these and hardly any have appreciated having these things said to them about a trauma, tragedy or death.

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Any other suggestions of things to say or not to say?

 

A 5K for my Sister, the Special Olympics and YOU!

I have a vague memory of when I was almost four. A day when I was trying to understand why my older sisters were so excited. There’s going to be another one of us. What?

“That’s why Mom has been gone all day,” one of them said. “She’s at the hospital getting a new baby!” (That’s how things were explained in my family)

A baby? I had one brother and three sisters and it never dawned on me that would change. But I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for mom and my new sister to come home.

That baby sister, Rosene, grew up and taught me many things.

Probably due to her name, Rosene was drawn to roses and she was impressed that roses bloomed and were fragrant, even if life gave them thorns and her goal was to do the same.

Her life motto was “Bloom where you are planted.” 

And she did—even though she faced more obstacles than most of us. Her obstacles came in the form of Cerebral Palsy* which caused a lack of muscle coordination over her entire body.

She walked, but was unsteady and always had bruises on her knees from falling, but she walked for most activities until her late twenties, when she began using a wheelchair.

My mom and I took Rosene to a field day with our local Special Olympics of Berks County a time or two. Rosene loved every second of those days… whether she was focusing hard to throw a ball, walk a short distance or watching others, this smile never left her face all day.

Rosene at a Special Olympics Event

If you’ve read my memoir, Because I Can, you know the relationship Rosene and I had was special, even if we didn’t always agree on everything. And you also know that Rosene passed away at age 39 on October 22, 2008 and that’s when I decided to follow her example of
doing the best I can, with what I have… because I can!

So when I saw a 5k (3.1 miles) called YES I CAN which is raising money for Special Olympics of Berks Co, I wanted to get involved and recently I had a meeting with the planning team. 

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And I’m thrilled to be a part of this!

Rock Y102 YES I CAN 5k Run/Walk

I’m helping with promotion and I’ll be at the 5k, either running it or helping, depending on the need. And for this to be successful we need you and you and you and you and you!

Jackie Wenrich

Jackie from “Jackie and Scott” at Y102 is co-directing this event and I’ll be on air with her on August 9th to encourage her listeners to do what they can and join the YES I CAN 5k! 

UPDATE: Link to my time on-air with Jackie on 8/9/12.

Jackie’s goal is to have this be a run and a walk. Not just a run. So here’s your chance. Whether you’re a speed demon or a walker or some level in between… this is your 5k!

And remember it’s all about the Special Olympics! They are…

“A non-profit organization which provides training and competitions for the intellectually disabled. Our athletes, ranging from eight years of age to adult, participate in local, state, and international games. Our program receives no government funding; therefore we rely solely on donations from the community and fundraising.”

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Rosene never had the option of putting on a pair of running shoes and doing a 5k. But in everything she did, she gave her all as did every person I saw at the Special Olympics  events. They truly embodied the oath of the Special Olympics…

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let be brave in the attempt.”

This is an opportunity to do something that benefits your health and makes life better for others. The 5K and a .5 Kids Run will happen at Gring’s Mill on the flat Union Towpath.  So round up your friends, your family (yes, even the crazy uncle) and come join us.

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Are you brave?
Brave doesn’t mean not having any doubts or fears.
Brave means doing what you can, with what you have, where you are…
because you can! 
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Click here for more info and to register. Only $25 if you register before 8/13! If you have any questions about the 5k or about training for it, leave them in the comments.

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*Cerebral Palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that encompasses a group of non-progressive, non-contagious conditions that cause physical challenges in human development. CP mostly affects body movement and muscle coordination. There is no known cure for CP.
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Posted in Personal

Dear Body,

I have mixed feelings about writing you a letter, but everyone else is doing it and it would be cool to join the synchroblog*. Which is kinda like when every part of you is working together and we’re in the zone… oh, those are some good times, but I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Writing a letter because everyone else is probably means I should also write my soul a letter about not giving into peer pressure, but that sounds way too complicated! So body, maybe writing one to you won’t be so bad.

After all, I really do like you.

But first a warning, to help understand the love I now have, I need to first go through some of the complicated past we’ve had. So bear with me, bod, I will get to the good stuff eventually.

My first memories of being aware of you are a mixture of love and annoyance.
I loved the feel of your strong legs running barefoot across the grass in a spirited game of dodge ball with my cousins. When it came to strength and speed, you were fast and equal with the boys and if they did catch us, I’m sure it was only due to that darn dress wrapping around your thighs and slowing you down. But I had to wear dresses because you are a girl’s body.

So for most of my childhood, my thoughts of you were complicated. I liked your strength, your speed and your energy. But you were a girl and damnit, that limited us! Dress was just one of the ways, there were also many other things that boy bodies could do that girl bodies weren’t allowed to do. But what they don’t know won’t hurt them and what all we did is our secret ;)

As we grew up, I learned to like you better and other than the fact that your thighs insisted on rubbing together when I ate too many Reese’s peanut butter cups, I came to appreciate you. You were strong and flexible, allowing me to do almost anything, including swimming across the farm pond, doing flips off the diving board and snow skiing. By this time, I cared enough about you to have a secret stash of clothes so I could dress you right for the elements.

Along with being fit, I wanted you to look good, so I did hundreds of stomach crunches and leg lifts. Thanks for responding well and giving me the flat abs I wanted. Darn, I wish I would have appreciated them more back then… think we could try again? 

And bod, I gotta tell you something, I know you liked it, but I was not really that impressed when boys were impressed with just you. Sure it was flattering, especially considering the crunches and all, but the truth is, I wanted them to be impressed with me, my mind, my personality, all of me, including you, but not just you.

And then, we discovered sex… yes, we did.
And that’s all I have to say about that.

You handled three pregnancies well… and two labors well. But what were you thinking with that one labor? It was so damn difficult! I know it was the first one and you probably didn’t know what you were doing, but wasn’t there anything you could do about those screaming nerves in your back? Geesh, it was tough!! Sorry, guess I’m still a little annoyed about that. 

Birthing those three adorable bodies seemed to mess with some of your hormones and life looked overwhelming until I discovered running. Running! The thing that has and continues to make me love you. After a few mistakes, I learned to listen to your pain signals and to adjust my speed or distance to help you be your best. Together we learned how to run. We learned that you’re not fast, but you are strong and you have endurance! And your willingness and ability to run has saved my life in more ways than I can count.

Thank you! Thanks for being willing to run so I had some semblance of emotional balance.  Thanks to you, over a 10 year period, I experienced races from 3 to 13 miles and one crazy day, even doing 26.2 miles.

Through running, I began learning to be me, the me you and I were meant to be. Because you were healthy and strong, I could play with my kids, run races, teach classes, help with community events and manage a business which required long days on your feet and heavy lifting with your arms. Thanks for those defined biceps… that’s something else we need to do again.

Life was busy, but good.

Until that day, THAT day that our world changed more than we ever imagined it would. 

There was a vacation because the business had been sold. Trucks changed lanes near the motorhome we were riding it. There were errors and there was disorder.  There were multiple impacts. Suddenly crushed metal, splintered wood and shattered glass invaded our space.

Your skin was stripped, muscles torn, bones crushed and your blood flowed. Wow, did your blood flow. Out of you, down over the seat, over a book, into shoes and onto the carpet.

We were blindsided. My mind went into shock and as soon as the helicopter touched down, the wonderful doctors gave me meds to sedate me. Most of the trauma was blocked out for me, but you felt it all. Every cell in you absorbed the intense trauma, excruciating pain and the uncertainty.

You hung between life and death for days… the trauma almost too much for you to handle. And no one would have blamed you if you would have quit. Actually almost everyone assumed you would have no choice.

But you rallied.
You rallied and you would not give up!
You rallied damn well, surprising everyone.

There was no instant healing or miraculous recovery, but you kept going. You would not quit. Your heart beat on, though it had more stress then hearts can usually handle. Blood flowed from too many wounds to count, but the doctors and you were amazing. You rallied, they worked, you continued to rally, they worked and on and on.

You opened your veins and accepted blood from strangers… almost ten times as much as you hold. You took the antibiotics, the pain meds and the anesthesia inserted into you and distributed it to the areas that needed it. Shots were given, filters placed and pins, rods and screws put into your shattered bones. Skin was sliced from your thighs and grafted over your almost-severed lower leg.

And you wouldn’t quit.

I woke up dazed and confused, the heaviness and pain coming from you had me thinking you’d been run over by a truck… I had no idea how accurate that was.

Much of the recovery blurs together in my mind, but I don’t recall being mad at you then even if you were sending me the most intense pain signals I’d ever felt. I was aware enough to know this wasn’t your fault and I was already in awe at what you had survived.

Scalpels cut into your skin multiple times over the next four years as repair surgeries were needed. With time and therapy, your bones healed, your wounds closed, your skin healed… not back to normal, but surprisingly well. Which amazed me then and amazes me now.

But somewhere between the ongoing surgeries, therapy and meds,
I was sucked into the dark vertex of depression… and I was angry.

At first, I wasn’t mad at you, but I was mad at the circumstances that changed you. I was glad you had recovered well, but you weren’t the you I knew before. I didn’t like you with the pain, limitations and deformed leg you now had. I vacillated between feeling sorry for you, indifferent to you or hating what happened to you.

Then my angry spilled over unto you and I treated you unkindly. Since you couldn’t do what you did before, I didn’t want to do anything. Forget the therapy, the stretches and the walks! I sat on my recliner and ate too much chocolate and drank too much wine.
And angrily asked why the hell you don’t heal back to what you had been!

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for all that anger directed at you. You had recovered amazingly well and I was demanding more. I was demanding the impossible, without being willing to help.

But I missed the old you. I missed how you had looked, especially that leg. I missed the energy you used to have. I missed our runs, but most of all I missed our painfree days.

I also missed the feeling that with time and training you can do anything… and I thought I would never have that feeling again.

But I was wrong, so very wrong. 

Counseling helped me understand the trauma every cell in you had endured. I shifted my focus from yearning for what you had been to accepting what you now are. Research gave me information and confidence to began doing with I could, with what I had, where I was. Determination made me continue even if it was slow and  painful… and without a guarantee.

And then the impossible began happening.

You responded well to 10 minute walks, so I extended them. I started giving you foods that had nutrition and you gave back energy. I added bike rides and hikes… which made me hungry for more good foods, which made you give back more energy, which made me walk, bike and hike farther, which made me want more good food… and the wellness cycle grew.

I was amazed at you. You healed more. Moving increases circulation and blood flow, so every fiber of your being gulped up the nutrition it was receiving. Your cells healed more. The pain signals you sent me decreased. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I took a risk and bought a pair of running shoes for you. But I was scared. I wasn’t sure how you would respond. Would your splintered pelvis handle the movement of running? Could your fractured femur take the pounding? Would the almost-severed calf have enough muscle to run? Or would you revolt and refuse to ever move again?

I went for many long walks… dreaming, talking to you and trying to fight off the fear of uncertainty. And one day, I just had to know what you could do. And I leaned forward and asked you to run.

And you did! You did it! You freaking’ ran! 
Four years after everyone thought you were dead, you ran again!

Sleeping nerves tingled. Lazy muscles complained. Healed bones creaked. But there was no increased pain, no blood spurting from wounds and none of your parts fell off. (yea, hate to admit that, but I had those irrational thoughts about you)

At first, 30 seconds of running was your limit, then we walked for a minute and did it again. For weeks it was our little secret. You and I would head to the trail when no one was around to walk/run/smile/walk/run/smile…

The first time you carried me a mile I cried. Tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of peace. And then I threw a party to tell my world and to celebrate you.

I had been so wrong thinking that I’d never know the feeling of you getting strongly if trained properly. You responding incredibly well, but I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, the essence of you is the same and you’ve always responded well when given good care.

I have the utmost respect for you and I don’t want to do anything that hurts you, so as I increased my running I continued to give you walking breaks. By running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute, you got strong enough to again cover races from 3 miles to 13 miles in the past 4 years.

And on May 20, 2012, 8 years to the day since you almost died, you again carried me over 26.2 miles.

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, so here’s a promise. Life is beautiful and there’s many things to see, places to go to and people to meet… and I want us to do it all! So I will try to always treat you like a spoiled princess giving you whatever you need, whenever you need it, so that we can continue to overcome any obstacles we face. (and a princess does deserve chocolate and wine, just not in large quantities)

And body, incase you were wondering why the training has picked up recently again… you and I are headed to the New York City Marathon on November 4, 2012. Yes, we are. Yes, 26.2 miles is happening again. Thanks in advance for all you will do.

Because you can, because I can… we can!

Thank you, I owe you my life!

Your biggest fan!

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*This is part of a SheLoves synchroblog titled, A Love Letter to my Body.

Running Truly is for All Ages

This is post three in a series of sharing your inspiring stories in my quest to take over the negative news media by sharing positive, inspiring stories from others who are…
doing what they can, with what they have, where they are. 

 

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There’s many things I like about running… from what it does for my body, mind and soul to all the wonderful people of all ages that I meet. Last evening I ran a local 5K (3.1 miles) and I took time to meet two of the other runners there. I’ve seen both at other local races, but I never took time to get to know them before.

Rose and Cassie

Running truly is for all ages! These two lovely young ladies (who did not know each until I asked them if I can take their picture together) are both relatively new runners. And each time I see them during a run, they are focused… always with a smile on their face, enjoying the experience.

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Cassie and I (with my unique post-race hairstyle)

Cassie is a 7 years old and has been doing 5ks for about a year. She runs with her dad and they also take walking breaks like I do… so sometimes we see each other numerous times in a race as we yo-yo pass each other.

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Rose and I

Rose is 65 and began running two years ago… helping me bust the myth that some say they are too old to start running.  There’s no magic to begin running… it’s one step at time and Rose did it right, starting slow and listening to her body as she went. During the first few months, she had some aches and pains that required her to take it easier for a few days. With time and her patience, her legs became stronger and now those aches and pains are gone.

Along with getting exercise, Rose has changed her eating habits to benefit her running. She runs about 3 days a week now and does about 2 races a month, mostly 5ks, but she did one 9.3 mile race last summer. Unlike me, one personal goal Rose has is to never walk during a race… so she moves forward at a steady pace until she crosses the finish line. This gal has endurance!

So if running is something you’ve thought of doing, but you’ve debated if you are the ‘right’ age to run, take a hint from these gals and just do it!
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Inspired? Leave a note for Rose or Cassie in the comments to thank them for being good role models. Also if you (or someone you know) has an inspiring story, share it below or at my Your Story page.

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*More of Your Inspiring Stories
Chris Kaag—Doing What He Can, Because He Can!
Troy Roland—Hockey and Running, Because He Can!
Running at Age 72 and Age 84—Because They Can!
Living Each Day Well–Because She Can
Beverly Shantz, Living and Laughing—Because She Can!
Roni Noone does Fitbloggin’—Because She Can!
Consistency Helps Dawn do Anything—Because She Can!
Michele Lynn Believed She Can… and She did! 
 

As long as You’re Fighting, You aren’t Growing

Words were spoken that weren’t necessary.
First by another, then by me.

Not angry words, just redundant, annoying words. It’s one of those bursts of conversation that’s been bouncing around for years. You know, one of those conversations that isn’t really about anything major, but yet it is.

But nothing ever gets resolved, nothing ever comes to a closure. Yet the conversation never completely dies. It might be invisible for months, maybe even for a year, but then something sparks it and it resurfaces. And each time this particular conversation rears its head, I squelch it as fast as I can.

To me, it’s a slow motion whack-a-mole game.
'Abbe spelar Whack-a-Mole' photo (c) 2010, Emil Ovemar - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Whack-a-Mole

It’s an instinctive response, because it’s the same response I’ve had for years. It comes out naturally, without effort. I can’t change the circumstances surrounding the conversation, so I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to discuss it. I don’t want to argue about it. I just want it to go away. I never want to hear about it again.

This time was no exception and the conversation was soon safely back in the dark where I think it belongs. We both went our own way. But for once, I allowed myself to think about it more. Though I feel the conversation is unnecessary, apparently the other person doesn’t, so why is it so hard for me to engage in it?

I’m frustrated with my reaction. Why can’t I allow the conversation to continue? Though the topic of the conversation involves me, everyone agrees I haven’t done anything wrong nor can I do anything to change the circumstances that feed the conversation. It simply is what it is.

I also know I haven’t done anything wrong, but since the topic keeps resurfacing and since it’s about me, it makes me feel like I am somehow wrong.

But for once, I ponder my strong reaction to it. A strong reaction is often a clue that there’s something there to explore. So I begin thinking, processing and allowing myself to follow random trails in my mind and my emotions.

When you’re willing to learn, you will find answers in places you don’t expect.

Another day, another place, I go to dinner with a friend and in the course of our conversation, when we were talking about something and someone else, she says, As long as you’re fighting, you aren’t growing. Which struck me as profound truth.

Driving home I’m thinking about that bit of wisdom and I apply it to that annoying-energizer-bunny conversation that never dies. And I realize by shutting down the conversation immediately, I’m fighting it.

I’m fighting it.
I’m fighting against the conversation.

Which suddenly explains why nothing ever gets resolved in that conversation.

Maybe I need to grow, maybe the other person needs to grow, maybe we both need to grow… but not having the conversation is killing any growing that could happen.

Another day, another unrelated incident, and I learn more. Someone mentions that when a person keeps talking about the same thing, it probably has more to do about what’s going on in their life, then what is going on in anyone else’s life.

This idea isn’t new to me, but I hear it more fully this time and I think about it in conjunction with the whack-a-mole conversation. And it changes my thoughts about it. I have been taking it so personally, when maybe it has much more to do with the other person than with me. Maybe by engaging in the conversation, I will learn something about the other person that could be helpful in our relationship.

When the conversation raises its head again, I’m going to try to engage. I’m going to try to listen closely. I’m going to try to really hear what is being said. I’m going to try to find out why it keeps reoccurs. Why the other person feels the need to talk about it again and again and again…

I know there’s risks involved. I might not like what I hear.
But if I keep fighting the conversation, how will either one of us grow?
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Posted in Uncategorized

Some Myths about Running

Last Monday I wrote a post with some truths about running covering various benefits of running. Today I’ll tackle the other side of the coin… some myths about running. These are perceptions that many (mostly non-runners) often have.

'Day 326: Busting Myths' photo (c) 2009, Tom Small - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Running MythBusters!

If you run, you will have knee issues.

This is false. The truth is if you are human you might have knee issues. Knee issues are not limited to runners, anyone can have them. I addressed the myth about running hurting knees before with links to research. Research shows that having knee issues is not just a runner’s problem, it is a human problem. So you’ll have to take that one up with whatever you feel is responsible for creating knees as they are… God or the process of evolution.

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To be a successful runner, you have to run everyday.  

No, you don’t. Actually for many people, running everyday is a sure way to get injured. If you are a new runner, if you carry extra weight or if you have any aches or pains, giving your body a day off from running between runs is key to being a successful runner. 

When I returned to running post-accident, two of my doctors gave me permission, but both encouraged me not to run everyday. They said giving my legs two days between runs will be crucial to my success and they have been right!

On the non-running days, I might hike, bike, do yoga or I don’t do any strenuous exercise, but I walk more while working on my treadmill desk.

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Taking walking breaks means you aren’t really a runner

I’ll be the first to give kudos to anyone who can complete a run or race of any distance without taking a walking break, especially the people that complete 10 miles in the same time that I do 5 miles. I’m in awe of them.

But I also know walking breaks are key for many, including me. I would not have been able to return to running post-accident if I would have refused to take walking breaks. And I would not have been able to complete 4 half-marathons and 1 full marathon in 14 months without walking breaks. I want to run to be healthy now and long into the future, so if that means I have to take walking breaks, I will. It sure beats sitting on the couch.

Since I run at least twice as much as I walk, I’m comfortable calling myself a runner, usually adding that I take walking breaks. But a few times, I’ve tried to come up with a new word to replace runner for the run/walk/run method I use… but I don’t like rulker, ralker, runker, wunner, walner, walkner or any of them. Any suggestions?

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You are too old to run.

This is nothing but an excuse, because many people of all ages run or run/walk. But don’t take my word for it, instead meet Joan and Catherine. Joan started at age 57 and continues to run today, almost 15 years later.
Catherine started running at age 40 and is still running today, 44 years later! 

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I’m writing running posts every Monday, because of what running means to me and because I’m a blogger for Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival weekend happening in 15 weeks on October 20th and 21st.

I’ll be doing the half-marathon with my 3 minute/1 minute routine. Right now I’m making sure to get a few 3 or 4 mile runs in each week and beginning this weekend, I’ll be doing long runs again. I had planned to do a long run last week, but the extreme heat and the stupid bug-in-my-ear fiasco messed up my running all week, but I’m back on track now.

If you are registered for the half, make sure you are getting regular runs in now and consider having a half-marathon training plan to follow beginning about 12 weeks before the race. Runner’s World has three plans, which are specific to the Bethlehem course… you’ll find the three specific half plans here. Or if interested in a general half-marathon plan, RW has some here for any level runner.

If you aren’t ready to tackle a half, RW also has a 5k and a 10k that weekend, along with an expo, various running movies and seminars. Check out all the info here.

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There’s many other benefits and myths of running…. feel free to share yours below or to ask if a thought you have about running is a fact or a myth.