Thursday, December 27, 2012


"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"  

Have you ever pondered that question, relative to any given object, sense, or feeling? 

Philosopher George Berkeley proposed once that objects of sense exist only when they are perceived.  

Visual and auditory hallucinations exist to one.  Another who sees or hears them is able to validate them.  Does that alone make the hallucinations real?

If a secret is kept quiet after whispering it with but one, is that secret not contained to those two? 

I light a candle with you in a room with no windows.  We leave the room and tell no one.  Who is to know it keeps burning?

I have held his hand secretly in that room with the candle.

He loves me quietly and acknowledges that love to no one else but me.    Does a relationship exist?

Just how strong is YOUR faith?  

Saturday, December 22, 2012


This post first began 45 minutes ago as a Facebook status update.  Unfortunately it became too philosophical and complex -- in my own mind -- to be posted there for "everyone" to see.  I feel safer somehow making this a blog note, kind of public, not as public, if that makes sense.


I realized last night as I was trying to fall asleep, that most all the folks I consider my ultrarunning mentors -- old school ultrarunners, amazing athletes, my dearest friends -- are race directors.  Either there are a lot of local ultra distance races, or I am associated with the best of the best.  More likely, I am just hooked up with the best.

I consider these people the "best" because they are not only doing the sport they love to do, they do it with consistency, year after year, and have targeted a purpose greater than themselves.  Quite a lot of these races are fundraisers for charities, or awareness campaigns, or tributes to beloved colleagues, or even just chances to get non-running folks into running and becoming healthier.  These race directors get up every day to normal lives like my own, taking care of work duties and household tasks, and family affairs, AND they find a way to stay fit AND make a difference to others.  Their efforts really make me want to do something worthwhile, too.  

As a side note, quite honestly, I have not been running.  I have been so disconnected from the people I love that I fear I won't find my way back.  I used to tell Bob that I was always one run away from quitting.  If I am honest with myself, right now, I have all but quit.  

What happened to me.  What happened to the motivated, energetic Suzanne who would preface a run with "it's only" ... 16 miles, 26 miles, 50 miles.  How do I find the road back to that place, to that person?

Ah, but all this is tied to a greater issue within me.  The not running and the barely showing up are indicative of a greater challenge.  It may be depression, or loss, or sadness, or illness, or age, or an odd mixture of circumstance over the last 3 1/2 years.  I haven't been able to pinpoint it, cannot be objective, don't have a clear thought to save myself.  I go about my day pretty well, but usually right before bed, when I am trying to fall asleep and the thoughts won't stop rushing through my head, I desperately consider huge issues:  like how I must have a purpose on this earth.

I surely didn't just get assigned the role of mom as the only thing to do of importance.  My girls are raised, Alicia is an adult ready to graduate from college and have her own family and business, and Savanna is such a mini-adult she goes to school full time and works a job all so well she is graduating in the top third of her high school class.  I know this was the most important purpose of all -- being a parent -- and I am thankful to God that I was given the chance, twice, to do this job.  My purpose as Mom won't really ever end, thankfully, because I will always love my daughters more than life itself.  But I have set them off to fly.  So in a way, the largest part of my job is done.

Now, there must be another direction.

While the connection between race directing and running and parenting and finding purpose might not all connect for you, my reader, it makes sense to me in this way:  others are doing something with enthusiasm, consistency, importance.  Others who are my friends, my role models, are doing all I have to do in my world AND more... and are doing it with grace and ability and *consistency.*  Why would I ever have the right to sit here and say, I cannot do all this, when they do. 

My excuses are only excuses.

Even as I sit here on my couch, Saturday morning, 10 a.m., I realize today must be the day I make progress on something grand -- something more grand than just showing up and checking the box.   Like anyone, I won't be perfect.  I will make mistakes, I have my shortcomings, and will have failures.  But I have to TRY first.  I have to break through this endless cycle of crying over the mess, and find goodness in all of it.

Perhaps that will be my resolution for 2013:  to find direction  greater than just getting through the day.  I want to lead an effort that gets me jumping out of bed in the morning, while making the lives of others better.  I feel good only when I do for others.  I know this at least:  it is in my being, giving to others is a gift to myself. 

The tie to my role model friends is simple.  Friends like Tanya, Roy, Rob, Lloyd, Joe, Mark, Bill, Steve, and so many others I respect in our sport, just keep on making that difference -- they do for others. 

So, during this season of resolution, and setting goals, I feel moved and motivated to take steps toward being greater.  Life cannot be just about doing enough to get by, or just enduring yet another season.  This cannot be only a resolution for the new year, it needs to be an overarching personal goal. 

It is time to get off this computer, stop theorizing about the meaning of life, and go do my passion.   Stop waiting for someone else to motivate me, stop making excuses for why I cannot do something, and just go and DO it.  Clean up the daily, hourly mess, fix the broken-everythings, and move on to MORE. 

Somehow, in doing the things I love to do, the answers will follow.    

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Morning Regret

In our darkest time, our most lonely, it is easy to say, “it wasn’t THAT bad.”  Clear decisions cloud with emotions.

Good memories shine through a frosted windowpane and feel like a paradise from which I deserted.  

How do I convince you that you made a sound decision, saying you deserved better, when now you APPEAR to have less?

This morning, Regret has overcome Sound Judgement of last evening. 

Your heart feels laden and you start to negotiate with God, or with the fates, or with higher powers, to take this quiet away.  “I could be satisfied with what I had, if you would please return it to me.” 

Fifth-best, or third choice, or cast aside for other options is not where you had once dreamed of being.  All your life you have given your best; do not take less. 

We teach people how to treat us.  Do not accept behavior that to them means “good enough.” 

Cry today.  See your strength of yesterday.  Make way for truer love tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Many Hats

Every year around this same time, instead of thoroughly enjoying the gifts of summer, the laze, the relaxation, the slower pace of life, I feel driven to frustration and stress over my overly-packed schedule. Inevitably I feel like I am falling short everywhere, seemingly not being appreciated. Does anyone know how hard I work? Does anyone have any idea the responsibilities I carry?

I shake my head at the vision in the mirror.

The weather-worn Suzanne reflecting back at me is wearing (or rather, juggling) ten hats, all at the same time:

1. "Single Mom"
2. "Full Time CSU Employee"
3. "Girlfriend"
4. "Daughter"
5. "BR100 Volunteer Coordinator"
6. "Friend"
7. "Ultrarunner"
8. "Housekeeper"
9. "Gardener"
10. "Person who almost always says Yes to More."

It is a contrary vision, myself in that mirror. There is fatigue, but there is strength. There is insecurity but there is confidence. There is floundering, but there is direction. Most of all, there is yearning for understanding, but there is self assurance of knowing myself.

I am the first to admit, this dichotomous challenge is my own payment for taking on so much responsibility. I am a do-er, a helper, with a high work ethic, gaining energy from the enthusiasm and camaraderie of good people who give of themselves to make an event work.

I would not wear these hats if I did not love the folks for whom I wear them.

But I am not unusual or outstanding. I dare say that most of my friends, most of the folks around me, see the same reflection of hats piled upon hats, weighty responsibilities they shoulder every day.

Today's post does not serve as a complaint, but rather as a point that we all need to stop and look around at all the extraordinary people, wearing many hats, who go above and beyond for each of us every day. There are some amazing people around you -- do you see them? Do you acknowledge them?

This weekend, July 28th and 29th, is the Burning River 100 Endurance Race -- a point-to-point 100-mile race which begins in Willoughby Hills, Ohio and ends in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I am proud to say this is my fifth year serving as Volunteer Coordinator. Between race directing, volunteer coordinating, course planning, marking, supply organization, delivery, registration, manning 18 aid stations, and clean up, our volunteer total nears 350 to 400 folks.

Heading up that group of volunteers are directors -- for the volunteers, the race, the course marking, the supplies, the timing of runners -- as well as aid station captains. None of these positions is a paid position, even though the hours we log are way overtime.

Let me assure you, though, that each director acts as if he is paid a high salary. The amount of behind-the-scenes communication, preparation, planning, real WORK that goes on for this race in particular amazes me.

For example, were you aware that our race director Joe Jurczyk personally responds to every email he gets, even the "general information" online response forms? Yep. And did you know that Mark Shelton, our supply director, will reformat an entire food plan to include watermelon if a captain wants it? And Paul Romanic, our course marking king, sends out detailed emails and directions to the planning committee and his helpers -- even with pictures of what the course marking flags will look like! Yep.

And, did you know that most all of my aid station captains have an event page created on Facebook where they recruit between 10 and 40 (no kidding) volunteers each -- and then follow up with definitions and assignments of each job that needs to be performed on race day. Elizabeth Hiser does that. And they have themes, with props! Michelle Bichsel has made smiley face signs galore for Happy Days. Yep.

And then there are folks like Dan Horvath -- already race directors for other races -- who step up to take on a major (pain-in-the-butt) role like generator pickup and delivery. Or Lloyd Thomas who has assumed duties like assistant to the race director on race day.

And they do it for no money. They do it out of love... and out of dedication to the group that is joining an effort. For the runners, for the sport. Because they love the people for whom they wear the hats. What an outstanding team we have for BR100.

Yesterday I admittedly felt overwhelmed, beaten up, and unappreciated, bemoaning my willingness to readily serve.

Today I see the opportunity to appreciate the effort others are making, too, and to point out the extraordinary people I am fortunate enough to have beside me, not hasting at the mirror, but busily creating windows or doors with me.

I thank you.

"Volunteers are love in motion." ~ unknown

Monday, July 9, 2012

What is he worth?

Have I taken vacation from blogging? Not intentionally a vacation, although it is 9 days in to July, the Summer season is moving nicely by, fairly drama-free, spurring no rants or emotional postings... much to the shock, I am sure, of my faithful constituency (of two). One of the faithful asked me yesterday how my "writing" is going; not my running, or my job... but my writing. He implied that my posts actually mean something to him. I felt in that moment quite valued, and thought it time to conjure up something "meaningful." On what topic?

My blog dashboard has in it various "drafts" which I started and then just have left uncompleted, for lack of purpose or just purely lack of time. "Drafts" stand as a small sign to me that my mind is jumping all over the place, my attention is a bit fractured -- or, on a more positive note, I am considering various facets of life, seeing how the light looks from different angles. The topics haven't come to a meaningful fruition yet.

I have, however, been thinking quite a lot about what makes a person have "value." Which leads me to ask, is summing up our worth measured by what we as a people put value into -- and, if so, how to know when we are worth enough? Moreover, is it about the total dollar value of our possessions, the quantity or quality of what we own, how many credentials follow our signature, or maybe simply our intrinsic value to others?

Perhaps this is giving away the ending, but the reason this particular blog post has remained to date in "draft" form is because I have not yet made a distinct conclusion... I really don't know how to value one's VALUE. What is he worth, over there in the costly suit, or that homeless guy I pass on the stairs with arms (and pants) loaded with plastic bags? The man with the bags seems to fatter with them every day... does he consider more better?

Years ago I got into a collection frenzy of Beanie Babies. Ah, I was indeed one of those convinced women flying around from store to store in order to secure my "hard to find" blah blah blah tie-dye bear. A few of them actually were displayed in my curio cabinet -- I was so proud of my nearly complete list, which I was sure would be valuable "one day." Tubs were filled and they now sit in a basement somewhere, collecting mold, maybe. And there were Precious Moments, and music boxes, and later Pandora beads -- each $35 Murano glass bead represented an ultra I completed in a year's time (which served as a grand conversation piece until I couldn't afford to keep up with the per-race bead purchases).

I cannot tell you how much money I spent on all of that collecting, and yet I assure you that the "stuff" is adding NO real value to my life today.

Over the years only one collection-binge has survived: my beautiful but mighty limited array of carnival glass pieces. It started with depression glass turned pressed glass turned carnival glass. These days the collection is increased as I find a piece I love to look at, not because of some high book value, but because each piece actually brings me joy, to have and to hold, dollar value no matter. These purchases are only made with "extra" cash, after the real needs of life are covered. Clearly, my carnival glass collection would not rank high on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

Due to life circumstances that demand smarter living over the last few years I have really studied and analyzed what I "want" and what I really "need." Isn't that a good question for any of us to ask, though: "What do I need?" It is amazing how little we can live without when we have to. I have lived without a drill for over a year now, despite it being on my "need" list. Basic needs being met, food, water, clothing, shelter, the rest is just stuff.

And here is where the theme ties together. I know many folks, myself included, who liken the value of their "stuff" to personal value. They display collections that speak "value" to others. For example, there are the material objects that I believe, in my limited opinion, will be "worth something"someday, which I hold on to... somewhere. Granted those "valuable objects" are scattered in Bob's basement, in my basement, in the garage. I hate to admit that some of those boxes moved from Euclid to Roshon to Alexandria, never even opened. Do you (do I) realize how much of my energy is sealed into those boxes? And more energy is wasted each time I remember that I have to sort that stuff yet, and pare it down to a manageable amount. I now consider that those valuable things are actually devaluing my life. If I were to die today, my poor children would have all that junk to sort through and sell or toss.

Speaking of dying and leaving junk to my kin to fight over, I know this guy who makes his living shopping Goodwill, re-sale shops, garage and estate sales and re-selling those purchases in an antique mall booth, or to friends with collections. For a few depressing winter months I had him keeping an eye out for Swarovski figurines to add to my small collection (only those with the original boxes and paperwork, to ensure value maintenance). It was sort of satisfying the thrill of the chase for me. But then, the guilt set in.

You see, my "guy" is a pro at boxing up a bunch of "things" at these sales, where he offers one price for the lot... which is negotiated back and forth until a reasonable agreement is met. Unfortunately, quite a lot of these sales are of folks' treasures that they thought all along were worth great fortunes. The boxed lot which is now being sold for pennies on the dollar. A lifetime, minimized.

It is truly sad if you think about it. What I value is valuable on my own scale. I am worth only as much as I believe I am worth.

Moving to West Friendship forced me to take with me only what I "needed" to live. The rest is sadly still sitting, waiting to be parceled out and trashed. What makes this stockpiling bad is that I wrap memories around "things" and fear that if I throw the items away, I will lose the memories too. Which is absurd. But still I do it. One flood and it'd all be gone. One estate sale after my death and it's sold to the highest (low) bidder. What do I really need?

So many of my friends unfortunately have faced or are now facing divorce. Splitting up the "valuables" can literally take years. Some things may be intrinsically valuable, like photo albums... but other things are literally worn out objects tied to a valuable memory, or a point that "needs to be made" to our offensive spouse, items better off trashed and not taking up space in our new lives. A friend of mine was finally ordered to move items from his ex's house that had been boxed up and left to rot in her basement. The woman didn't need those things -- but she held on to them to inflict emotional pain and control. And no matter what, my friend was determined to secure his stuff. I doubt he even realizes the junk is worthless.

We hold on to things like we need to be holding on to each other.

And yet we do it. More is better. We hoard. We protect, we stand firm to a point of pride, we hang on to and cover memories in basement boxes that take up space in our houses instead of in our hearts.

I know logically that I should go through my life and clean out the space-takers, the dust-collectors, the less than valuable "collectibles" like a tub full of Beanie Babies with the tag protectors sill attached. Does that mean I am willing to throw it all out? Get a dumpster and haul it away? No. I am just pointing out the fact that the analogy is becoming clearer as this post progresses: what is it I value -- "things" or people? My dusty memories or making new ones? My past, or what I have right at this moment, who I have next to me? Why not collect friends? Why not fill space with love and life?

Not that I have come to any distinct solutions, or affirmations or answers -- and certainly I will continue collecting little glass shiny objects that make my heart feel happiness when I look at the different angles of shining light. But with the writing and processing of this blog, I have come to consider that a man's worth might just be summed in the number of lives he has positively affected -- and the KNOWING, the AWARENESS of that value to others.

Look at the people you pour energy in to every day, look to your left, to your right, what is he worth? What is he worth to you. How many people are leading better lives just because you exist?

When you are able to say-- to believe, to know -- that you have added value to someones life, then THAT is when you are worth "enough"... even with nothing, you have everything.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ya Gotta Wanna

This morning I withdrew my name from the Burning River 100 registration list. Not an easy decision to make. As Volunteer Coordinator of the race I have seen a few withdraws come across to RD Joe via the on line contact form, and it seems like each comes with an emotional explanation and justification of why that person needs to claim a DNS this year.

For me, aside from a nagging pain or two, I haveta-wanna, and I just ... well... don't want it enough now to even try.

If you know me, you know this sounds a little surprising, unlike me, even. But times have changed. The schematic of my lifestyle reads differently than it did years ago. There comes a time when admitting limitations is healthy -- moreso emotionally even than physically. I have been running, I have been training. My body is physically ready to complete the 100+ miles. My mind is just not up to the task.

I am not a quitter. In fact, next weekend I will be running the Mohican 50 on Saturday and the Canton Marathon on Sunday. What makes this difficult for me is having to do it myself --rather, to get myself there, to both starting lines, without the benefit of having a partner or good friend to force me out of the house. No one really even to help me decide, camping or cabin, hotel or driving down morning-of the race. It's all me. Mentally I know this challenge will be quite a win once I complete it. Maybe to you it doesn't sound difficult, but for me, the getting there is the hardest part -- the running is simple.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to support a friend at an Olympic Triathlon event. I have been to triathlons before, but this one hit me in a different way. I looked at the ladies competing and really for the most part these women were fit, built actually, tough, capable happy people, and their events were over in about three hours. What joy it must be to start and finish a demanding event in less than three -- not seven or 24 or 30 -- hours, and have it still count -- have it still feel like a win.

Why do I feel that the only way I can "win" is to run longer than the average athlete? Come to think of it, the men in my life who convinced me that this was the only qualifier for toughness are essentially gone from my life, on the outside of my every day existence. It once mattered to me to have it matter to them. And now, it seems to just matter less.

Of course, as an ultrarunner I have total justification to how I find personal pleasure in completing the "long (really long) run." The event yesterday just opened my mind to the possibility that doing a different sport may actually be good enough for me, someday. It actually would be a challenge to complete a tri, because I am not a strong swimmer. It would actually take training for me to be able to swim a mile. I watched Jeff swim two loops around that reservoir like it was pretty much nothing -- while I hyperventilated on the dock, imagining what it would feel like for me to be in that water. Maybe it is time for me to consider mixing up my sports a bit, going for a different challenge.

Who knows why my attitude has changed. I do love running trails. And I love events like a 50 mile trail race. But the road running during the week is more painful than pleasurable, and something inside me is beginning to ask why.

For the past 8 years I have defined myself, with pride, as an ultrarunner. I don't think that withdrawing from Burning River 100 makes me weak -- or at least I hope it doesn't. I just want that fire back that once powered me, the fist-pumping, high-fiving win of finishing. I know sadly, next weekend, when I get home from the Canton Marathon, 76+ miles logged for the weekend, it will just be me celebrating. I won't have anyone here on my couch who shared that experience, no one to download the information to, anyone to pat me on the back or make me an egg sandwich, to really understand how much it took to finish.

I realize that in this life, we ultimately all are alone and have only to rely on ourselves. And this might sound like complaining -- honestly, it is not. I am just saying that it takes a little of the joy away to be in this sport alone. To suffer through 100 miles at the end of July, I gotta-wanna, and aching alone makes me say I don't-wanna. Right now, it somehow just doesn't matter much.

And I want what I do to matter.

Part of the thrill of this sport, to me, is sitting around after the event talking about what happened out there -- how the river was really flowing this year, or the mud was shoe-sucking deep, how the horse-flies were biting, the waterfall was heavenly cold, or the wipe-out on the rocks really hurt but I kept my leg bloody to look like a bad-ass.

I want to be a part of something, a bigger something than just me. Sure, in my job of volunteer coordinator I am a part of that big effort, and it is super satisfying to work with Joe and Mark and Vince and Jim et al to make it happen. I will put my whole heart into that effort, and it will be so gratifying to see each runner succeed in his own right.

Still, as bad as it sounds, I guess I don't run ultras primarily for the self-satisfaction. I am driven by that community of understanding, of making an effort that others like me see and "get" as a challenge. And right now, for whatever reason -- I rightly take the blame, the responsibility -- I feel a little bit out of touch with that community. I have no front-line connection with a routine, accountability partner. I have myself. "Good effort, Suzanne, it sure was hot out there today, it was fun running with you. Wasn't it a beautiful day though? Thanks for being there with me." The glow that powered me to a 100-mile finish has dimmed.

And to those who take this post as negative, who will look at me like this is quitting -- I AM NOT QUITTING. I have not given up, I have not quit the sport. My life is happy. I am blessed with a wonderful job, a beautiful garden, my loving children, a new man who has all the promise I have prayed for, and a body that still carries me through activities I love. This post is positive -- it is freeing to be able to admit how I really feel these days and have it be okay with ME.

It simply makes more sense, seems healthier even, to accept my limitations right now, be they mental or physical. Because if what I am gonna get after a 30 hour event is the glassy-eyed look of a co-worker, or the "you're nuts" blow off from my mother, then I may as well go for a far less demanding three hour event that takes everything I have to complete it, FEELS LIKE A WIN, but then still leaves me with energy to do my day. It hurts to run 100 miles -- and there is pain and sacrifice for weeks and months before the event even happens. Having someone next to me understanding the effort actually makes the pain go away. Who wants to sit on the couch reliving a memory by yourself?

Ya gotta wanna.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Money Doesn't Buy Everything, But...

Three times this week I have heard a rendition of the phrase, "Money doesn't buy everything!"

I consider the words and imagine them spoken first by a wealthy individual whose view from the top was quite rich. I also imagine a single mother trying to convince her teenage daughter that skinny jeans from Hollister aren't really "all that." Or a mother and father of seven who are serving noodle soup again for dinner.

No matter who is saying it, it is personally irritating to me and difficult to not respond with, "Ah, you sound so self-actualized, so mature and evolved... but come on now, having money sure does make a difference!" Give me a try, I will show you how far I am able to stretch "more"!

Admittedly, guaranteed money offered as a reward would probably motivate me to the finish line of (nearly) any race. Money is not actually a motivation for me TO RUN a race but instead to be able TO REGISTER to run the race -- with registration fees for ultras over $100 each nowadays, I literally cannot afford to do as many races as I am physically able to do.

So if I can't afford to exercise away my stress, shopping therapy is always an option. Not like any of us need to acquire additional STUFF, yet it goes without saying how retail stores and online shopping provide endless opportunity 24-hours a day to buy material objects of any sort -- even, ironically, collectible currency.

I have heard that money can buy you an early retirement, but it is no longer necessary to buy sex (it is literally being given away, for free!).

In general, money is able to fund convenience. Like hitting the "easy" button, if you want a task done, don't have time but have cash, you can pay someone to do it for you. Why iron shirts when the drycleaners have starch? Why spend a week of evenings mulching when Alex and his family-team will do it in four hours this Saturday? No time to visit mom for Mother's Day? 1-800-FLOWERS, done.

This is a worn-out topic, way overdone, not barely worth discussing. Yet it still irks me when a pompous ass throws out a grand cliche and acts like it's some valuable life lesson which obviously he ignores.

Money might not buy me happiness, but it sure does make the pain of unhappiness go away by affording a five course champagne brunch at Main Street. Argue the justification, anyone.

Without getting too serious and sad here, having money can actually make the difference between going to college and not -- trust me, I award scholarships for a living.

Even more serious, a lack of money can invoke outright violence. Imagine a starving father or mother stealing to feed his or her family. Thank God I have what I have.

My point: let's admit that having less money generally means having less options. And frankly, I not only want options for myself to choose my path of happiness, but to also influence paths of happiness and fortune for others.

So if you are one of the fortunate, please try and throw the phrase around a little less carelessly. There are many of us who would love the chance to prove how much even a little more money can buy.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I may wear lipstick, but I am no candy ass

Thirteen years ago I would not ever have imagined running more than one marathon every six months.  The first time I "turned over" a marathon in two weeks, running Towpath and then Columbus, it is a distinct memory, my speaking the words, "never again."

Running a marathon one week after a fifty mile race?  It is now my "normal."  It is amazing what a body can do. 

Back in 2004, when I met and married Bob Pokorny, I was shown a totally new life and way of thinking. He was the one who took me out for my first trail run, bought me the right shoes, and introduced me to his group of friends who just so happened to be really big into the sport of ultrarunning, all extremely talented runners.

I was connected with Medina runners who were or soon became national champions -- like Connie Gardner and Roy Heger. Even Bob was a national masters champion. He threw me into the Saturday morning group, with Mark and Steve Godale, and company, who became known to me as the "A team", as Bill Wagner adopted me into his group on Saturdays, quietly known as the "B team".

An aside here, Bill Wagner is one of the toughest runners I know, and is the best pacer an ultrarunner could ever ask for. He understands the pain, assists to get you through it, but quickly ends the moaning with a harsh word or statement akin to "is THAT ALL ya GOT?" That voice has motivated me to finish lines and running up hills so steep I surprised myself.

So back in 2004, when my first trail run was a fantastic success, I fell in love immediately.  Kinda like downhill skiing, I dove right in, bought all the equipment after only one try, and immediately considered this sport my new passion.  However, my second time out was not love. It was muddy, and well, as most trail runners do, I slipped and slid down a hill on my bottom, which at the time shocked me. I cried. Real tears. I can tell you the exact spot on the Buckeye Trail where I lost it and cried. Bob walked me to the road, we gave it up and ran back to the car. He was pretty much silent. It was my make it or break it moment.

Thankfully, I attempted a third time. And that was the training run when Roy Heger gave me the unwritten rules lecture that there is absolutely NO COMPLAINING, NO WHINING, and certainly NO CRYING in the sport of ultrarunning. In other words, shut up and run.  Tanya Cady -- also another national champion, I believe -- was my model for shutting up and doing it.  Toughest woman I have met on the trails, for sure.  I learned quickly that folks like me who didn't harden up would be known as Candy Asses. I hardened up, toughened up, sucked it up, and went head-first into ultras.

It was a life changing time for me. It formed the unique, passionate person I am today.  I may wear lipstick, but I am no candy ass.

Earlier this year I posted a blog about picturing my perfect mate as a runner, or at least someone familiar with our "community of understanding." How we push through limits (like running back-to-back marathons), run to places we never dreamed of going, and how we get through even the most adverse of situations. Bob Lisey, another well-accomplished ultrarunner, once told me that I am an adversity runner -- the playing field is leveled when you put me onto a hard course with other not-so-tough runners. I get through challenges like mud and pouring rain, and falls and bleeding and running out of water.   I might be slow, but I endure.

A non-runner has a truly difficult time understanding how we say "no" to fatigue and pain and continue a race -- he simply doesn't understand how this is good for us. For me, it is the best, most rewarding sport, a sport I cannot -- or want not -- to live without.

So my daughters spent six years-plus living with a couple who ran ultras. They were raised into our sport, knowing dinner would be served late, traveling to races, crewing for us, making signs and helping at aid stations. Alicia has been the aid station captain for Burning River's mile 89 aid station and Savanna has worked as the only female on the supply truck team every year since the race began.  In other words, both my daughters are pretty darn tough.

Amusingly, since living on my own, I have dated only ultrarunners.  Until just recently. This one particular non-running man, suffers with migraines.  He actually pays attention to his body signals of pain, and one evening arrived at my house with a headache. I heated up a hot pack ("bed buddy"), propped him up on pillows, fed him Advil, kissed him on the forehead and closed the shades to let him sleep. I overheard Savanna say, perhaps in a mumble only I could hear, "He won't last long in this household." I asked why and she said something like how he will be taken care of for only so long, and then, the pity party is over and done. Get up and get moving. This is the house of an ultrarunner.

I realized that she was right. Oftentimes when one of the kids comes home with an ache, I say, "wanna go to Kaiser?" to which she responds, "no way," and I say, "then be quiet about it." Toughen up, kid. Serious issues are treated seriously, of course. But when enough time passes that the healing is done, so is the empathy.

There is a fine line where pity meets no mercy.

And therein lies the key to what I need in a man.

All along I have asked for a runner, preferably an ultrarunner, who understands endurance events and the mindset of these athletes. But maybe I am just looking for a man who can see that fine line -- not necessarily because he runs, but because he understands the gray area between wallowing in sorrow and picking yourself up (or pulling me up) and moving forward.

I made mistakes in life, and the largest mistake of all was agreeing to end my marriage. When I fall back into a rough patch these days, I am usually overwhelmed with this guilt of screwing up, which magnifies all the loss, and creates an internal inability to do all that I am required to do. It is like a death spiral. I then must rely on myself for motivation and accountability. Once in a while, when I am in my dark hole, obsessing over losses, or being depressed over long gone issues, I have had a friend or relative come by and say, "Pity Party is done. Get your head out of your ass and get moving." In other words, grace, sympathy, empathy, mercy, all that extends to me. I am allowed to grieve, to wallow... but for only so long.

That is my greatest need in a life partner: enough compassion to hear my whinings, but for only so long -- and then he motivates me to shut up, get up, and get moving. This personality trait -- a true mixture of soft and hard -- I have found mainly in ultrarunners. Like Bob Pokorny, who works full time and still manages to run doubles during the weekday... and admits it's hard as hell to get out of bed exhausted, but how ya just have to do it to get better. Like Roy Heger, who will understand the pain of blisters (or annihilated toes) but yet be willing to patch you up and get you back out on the race course to finish. Like Bill Wagner, who knows personally the fatigue of running a tough 100-miler, how the body screams to stop but how the mind has to overcome and continue. As a pacer, Bill will give a hug and then a push. Like Mark Godale, who runs and finishes his 19th Boston Marathon, despite a debilitating knee injury, but overcomes the pain BECAUSE it's his 19th Boston and he's gonna run it.  Or like sweet tough Frank Probst of Virginia who has run Bull Run every year now for 20 years (that is 50 miles and he is over 60).  

So the man who will be best for me is the man who reads my last blog, where I consider either excelling or outright quitting, and he tells me "don't quit."  He will be the one who tells me I am tough when the going gets rough.  He will not balk at my running a marathon a week after a 50.  He will be the one cheering at the finish line telling me I am awesome and lying how beautiful I look at that moment.  He is the one who will be showered with an equal amount of support from me, in any capacity he needs it.  No, we don't do pity parties for very long around this house, but he will understand that tough love, and embrace me, my daughters, and my community with understanding. 

I hope I am not asking too much.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Excel or Quit, No More Just Hanging- On

The intention is almost always good. I start a new year, a new season, a new month, with grand running goals. There was a span of maybe two or three weeks in December-January when I felt like it was going to be "my year" for running well. I was running at least 7 miles a day, meeting up with friends to run like the "old days," I felt good, felt strong, felt motivated and dove into a year-long race plan.

Running ultras takes planning, at least for me. Especially when registrations go live six months or more before a race, and open and close within hours. If I sign up for a 50-mile, 100k, or 100-miler, I had better know that my time schedule will permit the training and not conflict with any major events of my children. Besides, the registration cost for so many of these races is steep -- steep if you are registering for multiple events throughout the year. After investing $100 or more sometimes, to "not go" is what happens only in the event of true injury. If I have paid money to do a race, and my name appears on the "registered" list, then you better believe I am going to run that race. Even when I am not adequately trained. Which is my downfall, and the topic of this sorta-mini race-report on the Bull Run Run 50-miler which took place yesterday.

"Not adequately trained" has been my excuse for quite some time. But yesterday, while I was running in the hills of Clifton, Virginia (near Manassas), I had quite the revelation: I am tired of just hanging on... I am tired of just getting by... finishing is good, yes, but even if it is a little embarrassing? Hmmm... now therein lies the point.

My friend Roy, a veteran ultrarunner and one of my favorite role models, would normally say "a finish is a finish" which is a good way to say "you put in the time training, you simply had a less than stellar day out there, we all have them." But I am sure that Roy would only say this if he knew I was ready... not if I just sorta half-assed it, showed up because I was registered, hung in there and finished... sorta badly. I get that. I suffered more than normal yesterday because I haven't done the time on the trails recently.

It is difficult for me to explain this to newer trail runners, because for some of them getting a finish is an accomplishment. I totally honor that. And colleagues at work wouldn't even ask me my finish time, probably because most of them believe that I used multiple days to cover 50 miles because who does that anyhow, run for 50 miles, that is absolutely crazy. Ultrarunners are a slim population, and I respect my sport and respect my body's ability to complete these trail races. I thank God I have the capability to do it at all. Yes, each finish is a finish.

But take note, I am serious this time.

My trail revelation involved a mind-body connection, somewhere after the 16 mile mark. My inner thighs were becoming painful, little spasms that I have been experiencing lately just sitting at my office desk doing nothing physical. I was still moving fairly well, and continued forward, knocking off each aid station and running through pain that did not go away this time with Advil.

I didn't ever consider quitting, because I knew I had finished many 50-milers before, and I was convinced that I could endure 12 hours of practically anything and still live. I knew I could get it done. It may not be pretty, and it may not be impressive to Mark Speedy-Pancake or new friendly companion Paul, but I knew the finish would come eventually. And besides, my daughter Savanna would be proud of me every time I would see her on the course that day.

I didn't consider quitting, but admittedly, I did consider not even starting. It had been a slightly cold night, huddled up in layers that were actually comfortable once I stopped caring about the big black spiders I felt certain were all over Happy-the-Hippo, my pillowpet, as well as my hood and down my sleeping bag.

Laying in my platform-tent bunkbed at 5:08 a.m., with a cramp that felt like a migraine in my neck, I ran through the entire scenario of just not getting up for the race. I remembered that my only flashlight was dim with low battery, and none of my race clothes or drop box items were sorted. Breakfast food was all the way back in the car, and the race started in a little over an hour. It all seemed like too much. Like maybe I cannot do everything I used to be able to do anymore.

I played it out in my head... I could lay there, sleep more, hope the aches went away, and be up to cheer on Mark later in the day. I could be warm like a normal person, eat a real breakfast, relax. Why was that not good enough for me? Why did I get up, falling around in the dark, take advil with no water, and drag all three of my bags to the restroom, and muddle through getting dressed? Because I could endure anything for 12 hours?

I hauled it all then down the hill to the car and sat in the front seat with 20 minutes to go, wolfing down a doughnut and my thermos of coffee. I didn't sort my drop box, it could all sit there for sorting if I needed it later. I kept thinking, how on earth am I gonna get it together? I am a broken mess.

I was so unprepared mentally, but the hard part was over, I was up and dressed and only had to be there at the starting line. The rest would work itself out, including the passage of 50 trail miles. I could just take it hour by hour. So I went to the starting line, saw my friends and started going when the RD told me to go.

Miles ticked by, I didn't feel like talking with anyone, so unlike me. I did feel better after changing into my Moeben skirt at the 16 mile aid station, and going to the bathroom and getting some Icy Hot for my muscles. I saw Paul and my dirlie Savanna and that re-energized me to walk out of the aid station for more fun.

And then the revelation-- I realizing I am now officially sick of just enduring these long races. I am sick of just hanging-on for dear life, for just barely showing up, for being less than spirited.

Honestly looking at myself, I have been cutting runs short or not going at all. Despite my improving performance in 50k's of late, I honestly have not been doing enough back-to-back long runs. Most of my weekday runs are at home, on the roads, by myself. Boring and sometimes painful. My thighs are a little chunky, I am eating crap-food again like burgers and pizza. This is the time when I need to be training with motivated groups, beat my body down so it will re-build itself, eat salads and drink lots of water.

I need to become a priority again in my own life.

Running along that dry single-track, I was having a pleasant time, really. There were actually moments I felt strong out there, racing down the hills and passing weaker runners. Imagine if I really trained. Imagine if I put in time like Mark Pancake had for this race, maybe I would have been closer to my 11 hour goal. Somewhere inside my gut I knew if I trained I would be good. "Good" relative to myself, relative to the other 45-year old half-assed ultra-runners show up mainly 'cuz they paid money for it.

Now is the time that I stop just hanging-on, and start excelling... or it is just plain time to quit.

The prospect of quitting the sport I love is a little threatening... actually, a lot threatening. The ending of the story I played out in my head for the day in Virginia had I NOT run, involved lots of eating fattening sugary food, lots of laying around, lots of feeling sorry for myself and falling deeper into the pit of despair. It feels like it could all snow-ball and not stop. I fear I would become fat and sleep all day. I realize I am always one day short of quitting and going to hell. The road of good intentions, you know.

Intentions for me have to start becoming achieved daily goals. And sure, I can make excuses that I am no longer married to or dating an ultrarunner who will motivate me, and I can pretend like I am superwoman who can maintain a job, house, three high maintenance pets, a garden, raising a teen and worrying about a young-adult daughter. But I cannot do it all. As a single woman, something has to change. I literally cannot do it all.

That's why I am faced with the sad realization that it is either excelling or quitting for me at this point. Because the productivity level here in my house today is low at best. Bags are not yet unpacked, and dinner is not made (or on my mind), I slept til 10:30 a.m. and still feel like sleeping. I feel dragged out because I dragged my untrained ass around roots and rocks for nearly 12 hours yesterday.

All in all, I had a good time in Virginia. Traveling with Mark, Paul and Savanna was a really nice escape, a good memory made. The bluebells that were supposedly bloomed-out from the early spring were still alive and beautiful, and the Bull Run course was the best I had seen it. Volunteers were organized and positive, and I felt supported and appreciated despite my finish time. It was afterall, 50 miles. And I did finish.

Now comes the time of deep contemplation. In the month of June I was hoping to do the Mohican 50 on a Saturday and that Sunday do the Canton Marathon. I do not want to feel like that is a stretch for me to do. And, I don't want it to be a suffer fest, at least for what is within my control. I will need to train at Mohican, do doubles, be strong and proud inside.

In the month of July, I have a 50k race planned for one week AND two-weeks out from the Burning River 100. There is absolutely no way I am going to do the BR100 again unless I am really and truly trained, at least so that I can give it a valid shot. Then later in the season I had hoped to do Woodstock 100k or 100 mile, and then the West Virginia Trilogy -- a 50k Friday, 50 mile Saturday, and half marathon on Sunday, on the hilly trails of WV. I would expect to finish all three events, or it would be a loss for me. I won't register if I am not ready, physically and mentally.

It is time to prove to myself that I am either a strong trail/ultra runner, or just another aging depressed single woman-quitter who feels sorry for herself and has gone down hill and given up on a healthy life. I cannot stay here in this middle, not being good at anything.

My daughter Savanna asked me, "so what are you gonna do differently then?" Good question. I look around and there is no one else here, no one to force me into accountability, no one to really care if I run or not. Just like getting myself out of bed yesterday morning in Virginia, there is just myself. I have to let go of doing it all, be okay with that, and start a new plan of self-motivation. It is, after all, up to me to show up and meet friends and log the time.

My intentions are really good this time. Either you will see me at races -- or I will be quiet and absent.

I sincerely hope I am not a quitter.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lesson of the Day

"Learn a lesson each day!"

"Keep growing, keep moving, keep achieving."

"Up and out, onward and upward!"

What is the lesson of the day that I will gladly share with you? Sit down, children, and I will tell you a little story.

After years of being taught that the world does not revolve around me, I heard that there is still a small majority who believe I am worthy of focus. Can you believe that? (Ah, but if it were only true, for real.)

While social media has brought us closer to long-lost or previously out-of-touch friends, and is an excellent avenue for advertising events and publicizing grand achievements (including photos to pretty it all up), it can be a greatly misunderstood mode of communication based primarily on assumption.

For example, did you know, that my FB updates during December and January were mostly targeted at my eldest daughter? Some in February were as well – and probably in March. She, like many young adults, has been navigating her own bumpy road and though she is legally of-age, she still needs her mom to remind her that this world is a better place because she lives in it.

She, and many others need to know too, that to continue wasting time on people who don’t believe she matters is indeed a WASTE of her time. Shocking truth? I have and will continue posting quotes to this affect, for the interpretation and perhaps benefit of someone who identifies with it.

Also another shocker: some quotes or status updates have nothing to do with anyone -- they just sound good! Just because I post a picture of my lilac bush that was cut down last season and is surprisingly springing back to life doesn’t mean I am claiming it is a new day and a re-birthing that is somehow symbolic of closing a door on the past and getting on to everything better and new. Nope. It literally had to do with the lilac sprouting after I thought I killed it.

Oh, and the “I love you” post last month was in direct response to the associated article, which had to do with Jimmy Freeman and his opinion of life risks and Micah True.

When I post that “I am happier today than I have been in months,” those who know me know I suffer with depression, which oftentimes is worse over the winter months. And gardening makes me happy.  It does NOT mean that any one person made me “unhappy” and I am sending some hidden message to a person who is probably not even my FB friend!

Moreover, not every post or blog or picture has to do with my relationships. My blog includes tidbits and details I have heard from various sources, and just because I write of heart break doesn’t mean that YOU Bob or YOU Jay or YOU Dude Whomever were the one who broke it. My children break my heart. Their boyfriends sometime break my heart. My neighbor breaks my heart when he wanders through his yard alone. My mother stomps on my heart. Failing to run a good race absolutely wrecks my heart! My “melodramatic” posts are not meant for calling one person out, or to render some exact judgment against one particular person.

Everything you find on the internet, including all I post, is open for interpretation. Many meanings can be taken, many levels are intended.

So get over yourself, people, it is the writer’s privilege to write simply for the love of writing.  For me it's mainly for the love of expressing in words what many people tend to avoid: emotion. Social media like Facebook has in my opinion dumbed-down our ability to feel emotions beyond “happy” or “angry.” It flattens every life experience into words of a sentence. We may feel like we have connected with Facebook, but come on, we have only grown farther apart. Calling someone on the phone is considered intrusive and way beyond friendship these days – it’s likened to stalking if a “gf” calls her “bf” more than once a day, if at all. Texting is THE avenue. Oh, so personal. (Then why do I have 1400 minutes when I text more than I call? Guilty as charged.)

Anyhow, my life has become so much less of an event these days. I am so sorry to disappoint my small audience to say this story isn’t really a story. I haven’t been in the middle of a ravaged love triangle, or been fighting off terrible life challenges, or taken on any great monumental races of mind-changing proportion. I haven’t gone the way of cheating in so long now, I am actually quite boring. If you would like to hear some really great gossip, though, I actually have heard WAY better stories around town than my sad little pitiful tales of loss. I will be glad to share, if you ask me directly. Otherwise, be careful what you assume. You know what happens when we ass-u-me.

So, yeah, this blog post is a bit of a circular rant. I take ownership of that.  I will however also give credit where credit is due.  If an accolade is attributable to you, I will name you, no guessing necessary.

Seriously, if you visit my blog to check and see if you are the “topic” of the day, then perhaps you have some guilt to explore. And that, my dear, is YOUR lesson of the day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kitten Krazy

Really, in this economy, where nearly every business is reducing services and staff, or increasing prices to be able to continue them, it impresses me beyond belief that an organization like Kitten Krazy is able to exist -- and thrive.

Kitten Krazy, specifically "Quick Fix" in Medina, is a low-cost spay and neuter clinic, and adoption center, right here on Rt. 42. Kitten Krazy, Inc. is a non-profit organization operated by an all-volunteer staff. Their mission is to help ease the cat overpopulation by fixing, housing, and finding homes for stray, unwanted, and abandoned kittens and cats.

I took our little rescue-kitten Freddles in today for neutering, and could not believe the crowd lined up to bring in their cats for surgery. Thanks to my neighbor Trudy, I learned that this month the clinic is offering a special $20 fee to neuter female cats, and even though Freddles is a boy, they gladly made me an appointment.

Listening to the women in line, it sounded like most of the cats brought in to be spayed were neighborhood strays, and feral cats that they voluntarily decided to help. Not because they owned the cats, but because it was just the right thing to do. What a great organization, and what generous folks in my community!

Back when my daughters and I were going through our Pregnant-Padfoot drama of the summer (male turned out to be a pregnant female, had 6 kittens, only one survived -- Freddles), our extreme effort to save the lives of these animals seemed so minimal when compared to the great loss of life in the Zanesville exotic pet tragedy. I remember thinking how silly it was that we were going through all of that effort to save kittens when rare tigers were gunned down and not even given a chance at survival. Of course, seeing Freddles happy, and his mommy in her wonderful new loving home with the Murphys, was worth every bit of effort after all.

That's why I think it is an amazing thing, having a volunteer organization right here in Medina, offering low-cost options to take care of our little animals. The organization survives on donations, and if you are at all able to support their efforts, please consider reviewing their Wish List or sending in a monetary donation. I love my vet (he is an ultrarunner, after all), and give him my business for sure -- but a low-cost neutering for Freddles is very welcome to me as a single mom to two kids and three pets.

I am sure thankful that even in tough economic times there are organizations and groups of people being able to make a difference in the community. Even if it seems like a small drop in a large ocean to you, they matter to me.

And this, my friends, is a prime example of a woman who listened to her "essential self," to what gave her joy, energized her soul, and pursued her vision. Thank you, Wendy Mirrotto, for going after your dream in 2004 to form Kitten Krazy. You help me to keep faith in dreams coming true, and in the goodness of people.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Only Way Out is Through

A few nights ago I got into reading an intriguing book that has been on my bookshelf for two years now. This is less of a self-help book and more of a finding your divine purpose book, concentrating on getting to your "essential self" -- the authentic you -- through listening to your intuition and looking to where you find joy.

Granted, this book is quite involved and I am totally generalizing here when I say that the author wants us to strip away every pretense and habit that may make us socially acceptable but that which goes directly against our essential selves, in order to uncover what really feeds our energy and aliveness.

This is not an easy course to take -- there is much pain and despair and stripping down of familiarities and comforts, all of which we as humans naturally tend to avoid. No statistics are provided, but I dare say that I doubt many are successful. It is so much easier to take the road well traveled, accepted by others, DIRECTED by others. Following, instead of leading. Denying, instead of feeling.

You see, sometimes the process of following our divine purpose in life takes a total destruction of our foundation in order to set us to rebuilding. And I am not saying that we all purposely set off a bomb in our lives, but perhaps we are living with such discourse from our true course that the bomb goes off by itself. Either way, you are left with nothing.

And I understand that place.

It was not long ago that I lost nearly everything of value to me. The only firm foundation remaining was my job and thank God my daughters. All else had fallen away. I thought that was the stripping down of my life to begin again, only to build what I thought was my future and had it taken away from me again. Perhaps I lost it myself, who knows. What matters is that, like a house of cards, for years I had my life built up and it was knocked down... I rebuilt, a few layers, and it was knocked down, blown down, taken down, whatever. Down. And I am back to square one, re-analyzing my purpose in life, looking at everything with a different slant. Maybe this is the route to my essential self.

It has taken me a lifetime to realize that denying emotions, stuffing them down and hiding them, is actually a longer way of handling loss. The corrosion caused internally can actually manifest in physical ailments, like migraines or back aches. I have learned that per the coined counselors' saying, the only way out is through.

This recent grief I believe is nearly processed. I have finally let go of any hold on what I thought was my destiny, so that I may reach out and grab what is being handed to me. Hopefully by the hand of God.

The purpose of this blog is really not only personal. I truly believe that if I bear my feelings and my experiences to you, that you will identify with some part of it, and perhaps be able to come through and out of grief that has haunted you.

Despair is not "wrong" or bad or something to fear -- it is to be loved as happiness so that we are able to recognize that happiness when we find it. Do you honestly believe that if you deny grief you will be able to grasp happiness? If you do not know how deeply sadness can run, you will not likely reach the heights of joy that are possible in this lifetime.

Change is certain, all is temporary. Sit in the feeling, get through it, and be open to all that you were meant to experience. Life is indeed a grand ride.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where did my Destiny go?

As a woman and a mother I believe that I have been gifted with intuition. The gift is also a curse, when a realization is made at such a deep gutterral level that it sits as a shadow behind everything seen before you. That despite what you see, there on the surface, another story is hidden deep below -- and you are cursed with knowing it is there. When eventually the truth is revealed, it is a sad confirmation, it looked so promising, but it was not meant to be.

If I really paid attention to my intuitive side, I would likely make far fewer mistakes. How often have I known the shadows were lurking and yet I ignored them because I wanted to believe that I was seeing the truth? I was sure I could control the outcome, the destiny, if I just acted like I believed.

But there are rare times when I have absolute, resolute faith that my judgment is right, that what I see and what I know intuitively match. No one is able to tell me different, I "know" I am right. Just recently I was absolutely so sure of something I would have bet my next paycheck, my house, probably my life on this specific destiny. When it fell away -- okay, was pulled from me -- no one was more surprised than I. Others saw it coming, "well of course that was not ever going to work," they would say, but I just shook my head and said, "but I was so sure it would." I still cannot believe I was so wrong. Accept the reality that no words will be delivered, no voice will call, there is no closure but this is final.

I am thrown back to many years ago, at Sunset Memorial, driving away as I cried, "but he is all alone...", the casket sitting on the hill, after everyone had left its side. THAT was finality. I knew that the cemetery workers were waiting behind the trees for us to go, so that Scott would be lowered and buried. No debating that destiny.

As long as we are still alive, there is a chance to change the course of destiny though, right?

I am told, not likely. Can't make others do what you want them to do. No matter how much you believe in that person.

It is such an incongruity, the tearing of reality out of dreams.

But just as I am throwing up my hands and saying "when, when will it change, when will I accept this is done" someone coincidentally falls back into my life and tells me, *this* is Fate. Is fate my destiny?

How tempting to believe that herein lies the change I asked for. This early-on, what I see before me is not yet meeting with gut-level intuition. Give it time, it just might, if I listen (will I listen?). You see, I have to let go of one destiny to get to the other.

Help me believe. Tell me more, tell me more how this happenstance, this synchronicity or touch of God's hand, tell me where it might lead. I am driving away from the hill side again, "but he is all alone...." Not dead, there still, somewhere, alone... and might come back and I will be gone.

I stand at the fork of a road, not sure which to choose because this one could be the permanent road. I look into eyes I haven't seen in 13 years and hear words that match my own, and see sparks of adventure I had long forgotten.

Who am I to deny Fate?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Made to Last

We all want and look for a guarantee. At some level, generally speaking, when we dedicate our time, our money, our hearts to a specific investment, we want the odds to be in our favor that the item, project or person is going to work correctly. I cannot tell you how frustrating it has been for me that I have gone through three percolators in the past four years -- name brand percolators! So, I use the coffee pot every day at least once, but shouldn't these machines last longer?

And that terribly expensive stacking washer/dryer I purchased in November 2010 that is now broken... really? I suppose if I wanted it to last longer I should have purchased the extended warranty. At least then the washer would have lasted at least three years, probably three years and one week.

Like everything it seems these days, products, people, relationships were made differently when we reflect to the times "back then." Nowadays so many things are breaking down, disposable.

Ebay and other such websites offer "refurbished" items for a fraction of the cost of new, and honestly I have resorted to buying some items that way -- since they are likely to break down anyway, I figure.

Those with broken relationships often look to fix their lives with shiny new partners (or refurbished models, as it were). One such venue is online matching. For a mere $59.95 a month, one is able to expose herself to a virtual hoard of single men, all wanting, well, something. A guarantee perhaps? A guarantee of a life-long partner? Is that even possible?

According to a high ranking "relationship service provider," i.e. online dating service, an average of 542 of their members marry every day in the United States as a result of being matched on the site (equaling roughly 197,830 people per year). An alluring statistic, indeed. (No data available on the number who stay married... and frankly, I don't want to know....)

I personally doubt the odds.

Perhaps, on this purchase, I will require a money-back-guarantee before I invest.

Sure, the site says it matches folks on some 29 different categories, but I want to know exactly which "key personality dimensions" they are analyzing. No where in the mess of questions is there a check-box for "obsessive runner" requiring only a like-minded, fit individual in return. No offense, but riding a Harley is NOT exercise, nor is it defined as "adventurous" at least in my mind.

See, when I picture my ideal partner, I see a runner -- or at least an endurance athlete of some sort who fits in to or is one of our "community of understanding." Only a runner would be okay that my Saturday and Sunday mornings are pretty much booked on the trails, sometimes with other men, and that travel for pleasure will most likely include a race or two.

Oddly enough, there are no check-boxes on the survey for the type of partner I am used to having, either -- a handsome, kind, giving man who is willing to meet me at the finish line of an ultra.

As much as I would like to no longer be single, I will save my money for race entry fees. At least for signing that contract I get a shirt, and a chance to test my limits. Sometimes I even come away with new friends. For now, that will have to do.

There are just no men like the men I know in the ultra community, they are the best. They are the original tough models. Made to last? Well, check back with me in a year. We all want that guarantee.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, Winter, or Just a Full Moon?

Really trying to believe that Mondays are just Blue Mondays, and that after a weekend packed with running and parties we are all too involved with the work to-do list to respond to texts, emails or phone calls. Perhaps we are all just closed-up and put away for the Winter, in storage, until the weather is warmer and flowers are blooming. Northern Ohio folks are a little grumpier this time of year... but we haven't exactly had that hard of a winter, so maybe it is just the Full Moon. I think my email is down... and my phone, no service?

Where is everyone? Where has everyone been? Are we all just so overloaded with things to do that we cannot find the time to answer the call? You know, the call of a friend.

Communication is vital in every relationship. It is my opinion that lack of communication actually breaks up couples, and separates families.

I feel disconnected.

Despite having well over 600 friends on Facebook, I fear this electronic age is teaching us to not personally contact each other. I miss the days of receiving hand written letters in the US Mail, and greeting cards just for being thought of today.

That knock on the back door? Don't answer it, pretend we aren't home.

When was the last time you received a call just to check on how you are doing?

How many texts have you ignored today because you didn't think it "required" a response?

I am not sure how to fix this lack except to continue reaching out to those I love and hope they return my voicemail.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wake Up Call

Ya know that classic movie/tv scene where an obviously neurotic woman has completely lost it, screaming like a banshee, gasping in between blubbering sobs, muttering nonsensical words, turning in circles until SMACK, she gets slapped across the face by her sane, calm companion?

She stops dead in that moment and is suddenly present and realizing, "Well, this is stupid, what good is this gonna do to help me get away from this [insert crazy monster, psychotic murderer description here] THING that is trying to kill me?" Nothing. It will help nothing to continue this waste of energy whirling around crying about it. Do something to help yourself get out of there.

It's like the moment sanity hits her and she takes action against the predator.

Imagine that scene, only take out the loud screaming and the muttering and turning in circles, and instead of a literal slap across the face, imagine a phone call that does the same thing. No hello, no nice introductions, just a stern, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING. STOP THIS NONSENSE. Get yourself up out of this black hole you have put yourself in to and get on with living.

This friend of mine doesn't call often anymore. We used to speak daily, lots of texts and some emails years ago, but now once in a while I will get a call or text that is so well-timed in my life it is frightening. I have always believed we are on the same wavelength, connected in a metaphysical type of way... like a lost sibling, or real life soul mate.

From no one else would I get a text that simply says, "You are not broken," and have it be like a message from Heaven, perfectly timed, in direct response to one of my out-loud prayers for meaning.

This phone call was the slap across the face I needed to wake me up.

See, unlike in movies or on television, we thankfully don't have literal monsters hunting us down to kill us. But we have our minds. And if we let those minds get so focused on one obsessive thought that replays over and over, and congers memories of other like thoughts, that act of ruminating can keep you stuck. Stuck in a whirlwind of "what if's" and "what could have beens" that play over and over and become bigger by the day, and can totally overcome our ability to live. Our hearts ache, we cry, we stop eating, we wander, we try to sleep, we over-think, we over-feel... until THANK GOD, we get a wake up call.

What do you think you are doing? Stop it. Just stop it.

"I have only a minute to tell you this, so listen." And within that minute, he manages to stop my tears and make me laugh. Breathless with laughter of how my imagination has certainly created a scene so entirely impossible, and how funny the reality of it all probably is. He turns demons into clowns, visions of perfection into hilarity, spins the whole messed up story in my head a whole different direction. I hadn't thought of it that way.

"So quit this shit and get on with living." All I could mutter was "thank you."

It took some guts for him to call me, ya know. It sure would have been a whole lot easier to leave the fitful woman alone to work through her own issues. I wonder, how did he know that was the key moment? Not quite sure, but thank God for him. Thank God for all my friends and family who love me that much.

I believe that we all could use a good wake up call once in a while. Like a smack back into reality, that motivates us to face the monster and fight.

And so this is how I am going to live. It doesn't matter which way the whole story has played out in reality, who did what to whom, or what they are doing now... because my life is here, in my hands. I have stopped spinning, stopping crying, and stopped wasting my energy on others I could not and cannot control. I am DONE.

For what is in my control? Only my actions, my reactions, to the life I have right in front of me.

Day one, of moving on.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What Did I Look Like When I Was Happy?

"When I was a girl, my life was music that was always getting louder. Everything moved me. A dog following a stranger. That made me feel so much. A calender that showed the wrong month. I could have cried over it. I did. Where the smoke from the chimney ended. How an overturned bottle rested at the edge of a table.
I spent my life learning to feel less.
Every day I felt less.
Is that growing old? Or is it something worse?
You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

I am told this is obsessing. Me, the counselor, I recognize it, thank you. Reality is, she doesn't want to hear about it anymore. Mourning is over, be done with it already. Move on.

I am told to love myself first. Oh, but I do. I didn't need anyone to complete me. Within moments though the glimmer, the bow on this marvelous gift of life, was gone -- I didn't know it would be the last time... I didn't know, I could have held on tighter.

The world is rushing by outside the window, cars pushing through the dark, rain-soaked streets, barely stopping at the crossroads, barely looking. I have sat here for hours watching cars. Maybe one will be the one I want, turning on to my street and in my drive and I will rush to the door, to be happy again.

What did I look like when I was happy?

So many of us go around with plastic smiles because we are told that is the way to do it. No one wants to see your pain when they are covering their own. But I won't lie and say it isn't there, crushing my chest like a physical weight. I have lost someone dear, and this day I am allowed to feel that loss! In my day I will cry and let you hide from me. Don't think I don't know, you cry too.

I trust one morning, I will wake to lighter air, breathing deeply and consider, this hurts less. I may not even see it coming, but it will.

I have faith that someday I will wake to contentment again, like back when I awoke next to you. And have your memory be not ever of tears, but only of light and love, suspending my happiness and leading me down the next road.