adventure

Girls, Ghosts, and a Graveyard

It’s pumpkin spice season at Starbucks. The smell of fall in is in the air. Kids are back in school. Now it’s time to do dust off the craziness of summer and rush in fun fall festivities.

This weekend was something new. An adventure planned for the girl gang to step out of their comfort zone. Dining at a restaurant adorned with the name Six Feet Under. A creepy cemetery tour. Why not? This weekend seemed like a perfect time to have the shit scared scared out of me. Off we went, almost leaving the safety of suburbia for the sin of the city.

Well, I almost went. The others actually went. The first warning came from the driver. “I must warn you I’m willing to drive but I drive like a blind person.” Hmmm. Sounds perfect for this fall adventure. Unfortunately Chick 1 had to bail to catch a flight on a whim, but no fear Chick 2 was ready willing and able to jump into this spooktacular adventure. As the torch passes from one scared Chick to one unphased Chick, you will see how this wild tale unfolds.

I will be waiting in anticipation to read the conclusion of the graveyard tales with you. I may or may not be chasing ghosts in my sleep until then….

Chick 2 taking over. We arrived on the misty morning at the front gate of Oakland Cemetery. The forecast called for rain and clouds, which in most cases might have been a disappointment, but in this case it fit perfectly with our funereal outing. We made a brief visit to the gift shop which was filled with laughably morbid treasures like Southern funeral cookbooks and sympathy cards. After breezing through, we started our tour.

It had been about a decade since I had been to Oakland. And before that, I had visited in 7th grade. This was an old old cemetery even then, so you can imagine the cracked walkways, faded headstones, and mossy ground it is filled with now.

Our guide was a quirky woman who had led tours there for many years. Our tour was focused on stories of women buried there. We walked gingerly between the rows. Simple stones to elaborate tombs and everything in between. We saw the resting places of celebrities like Margaret Mitchell and Kenny Rogers (not a woman, but his fame made him a detour). We heard about people who weren’t famous but shared great love stories, made important contributions like leading the first black PTA, or just did notable things. We noticed stones and little elephants piled on grave markers. The elephants were on a stone that marked the resting place of a woman who took in many orphans. We learned that elephants are some of the only animals that look after orphans in nature. Interesting.

There were so many symbols on the graves. Circles stand for eternity. Closed books and open books. Swords and pillows. The lambs on the graves of babies. Each with a different meaning behind them. Intricate stories for the lives represented. An attempt to capture what was most important about them in life, or even their hopes in death.

Different sections for different kinds of people. A section for Confederate soldiers. A Jewish section. An African American section. Interesting how cemeteries reflect the segregation in life at times.

Since we mostly looked at the graves of women, I noticed how often the women in the cemetery were remembered only in relationship to what they did for others. One man had many accomplishments listed, author, Southern gentleman, and so on. On the other side of the stone, the woman was listed as “loving and supportive wife.” Is that all we remember her for?

It also made me wonder what I would want to have on my tombstone. What would I want my legacy to be?

My group and I wandered in the dreary drizzle. We meandered. We took photos. We smelled plants. We asked questions and just took in the ambiance. A sunny day wouldn’t have fit, to be honest.

We capped it off with a delicious lunch and a surprise pastry and coffee treat. All in all, a great day of learning, friendship, and both making and thinking about memories. How would you like to be remembered?

challenges, perspective

A Life Cut Short

Recently, someone in my daughter’s close friend group experienced a great loss. A tragic accident. A death, completely unexpected. Not his fault. A shock out of the blue.

I had met this young man a couple of times. I have photos of him, since he was in the group for my daughter’s high school dances. I had been introduced to him once. Still, such a sudden loss makes every parent in the community shudder.

My kids laugh at them when I tell them to be safe. Don’t drink (and if you do, don’t drive). Don’t do drugs. Stay alert. Make good choices. Check in when you get there. Leave early. Slow down. Assume everyone else is drunk or not paying attention. This young man probably followed every single one of these rules and still, he is gone.

In most cases, you may not know the last words you’ll say to a person. A loved one. A friend. Every time they leave you, every time you hang up, every time you text it could be the last time. Stop and think of the people who mean the most to you. How have you left it with them? Yes, right now. Today. Sure, saying “I love you” to a friend all the time may seem foolish. Maybe you just aren’t that way. But how can you leave things so that you’d be content with those being your last words with them? Think about it. Do they know how you feel? Do they know what they mean to you?

Memento Mori. One of the tenets of stoicism. Remember your death. To some this might seem morbid. Too heavy. Honestly, it is useful for me. It means pay attention to what matters. Keep your shit in order. Don’t drown in the trifling details. Don’t waste time on petty arguments or people who are just not meant for you. Invest in what is meaningful. All you have is now. Don’t waste it.

I watched the beautiful slide show for this 20 year old young man. I saw his smiles. His family vacations. Trips to the university his family loved. The dinners with friends. The light in his eyes when he looked at my daughter’s friend. I wept for him and what everyone who loved him lost. All the dreams that would go unfulfilled. The awful anniversaries that would come over and over and over again. I wept for the life cut short.

Do the important things now. Make a list. Start checking it off. Do them with the people who matter to you. Time is ticking and we don’t get it back. Not fun to think about. But let that motivate you to embrace life NOW. Not next year. Not when you have more time. NOW. Live big. Love well. Embrace life.

Now.

change

The Alarm Went Off

It was a weird chirp sound. One I wasn’t familiar with. What is it? Where is it? The hunt was on. It was my countdown clock for 1095 days. Tucked in behind a few things on my closet shelf. Waiting for its special day to chirp. 

3 years gone by in a blink or two. Just like that 1095 days is a part of the history book. I blinked. A pandemic. A few birthdays. A cool countdown with a bunch of crud and coolness intertwined in those three years. All categorized in journals, online and in the vault. Many thoughts for future books but also many shifts due to environmental changes over time.

I certainly would not have thought three years ago that today would be what it actually is today. I guess my crystal ball is foggy at best. Worst plans, best plans, who lived, who died, and so on. Change is the the one word that keeps coming to mind when I think of these past 1095 days.

Changes of many kinds. Bend. Flex. Adapt. Reframe. The words that I seem to say over and over these days. Looking forward to the next 1095 days. Maybe I’ll have a comparison post when my alarm rings again. Maybe not. Time will tell but for now I’ll just say change is the only constant in life.

Welcome to 2022.

challenges

The Solo Comp

Ah I signed up for a solo CrossFit comp. Masters age group. Local venue, national footprint. Just wanted something to do before the end of the year. I wanted to say I squeezed in another event to end the year with a bang instead of boredom.

Why? Because I guess I had nothing better to do. I guess I’m a bit neurotic. I guess I’m a bit curious. The list goes on. I guess I hang with some crazy friends who like to do weird things like me. 

I do a little practice session on event one. It was just 6 minutes but I wanted to die at about 4 minutes but I somehow pushed through with the help of my workout buddy Kim. I’m still here to write about the escapade so it wasn’t that bad. The event is above if you want to test the workouts yourself and see how you fare.

We opted to try another comp trial wod the next week. It was equality shitty. This time it was 9 minutes and another lung burner and sweat fest. I finished. I recovered but ugh it wasn’t pretty. Not feeling successful after two events. The photo below shows my pal after her efforts. She wanted to kill me for pushing her in the moment but she got over it quick. I think.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I practice wod 3 with another friend. This one was a whopping 7 minutes long and I took yet another beating. Now the reality is I have to do all three workouts in one day. Limited rest. Competitive environment and just me, myself and I to rely upon to get it done. Just me cooling off outside in the cold using the cement to cool down my body temp rapidly. Just 7 minutes to wipe me out. And I thought a masters competition would be easy!

Part of my issue could be that most of the events require body weight movements, some of which I do but not fast. I’m a thick fit type of body which equates to moving a lot of body weight in comparison to others that might be a bit more agile. Another could be I’m just not in the top shape I was a year ago. This happens.

I will do all events regardless because that’s what I signed up for. The measuring stick. I can’t always win and I may lose big. It’s okay. Part of the process is how to learn from the opportunity. 

How to show up.

How to rely on myself.

How to push forward when times are tough.

How to set an example for anyone watching.

How to celebrate my willingness to try.

How to celebrate me in general.

In life I rely on myself. I have others whom I can lean on from time to time but when push comes to shove it’s me. Competing on any level allows me to reignite the fire within, to keep on trucking day to day to get through whatever life hurdles I have to face.        

Less than 3 weeks until the event. Lots of hard work in my sights to prepare myself. Wish me luck. I probably need a little for this comp.

family

Missing You

The last few days I have been missing my dad or the spirit of my dad.

Grief is a funny thing. It creeps up on you at unexpected times. It can be just a flutter in your heart or a vivid memory jerking the tears.

For me I have a night time shirt. An XXXL-type shirt bearing his photo. Not one I would wear out but one that’s comforting for those sleepy days. Maybe the visual on the shirt sparks the memories. Maybe it was the card in the mail from hospice on grief. Maybe it’s just the dust settling. I’m really not sure the nature of its source but it can take your breath away.

No matter the source I miss my dad in all forms. His younger vibrant days as my dad when I was a kid. The middle of the road days where he helped me navigate adulthood. To the end days when he needed help eating his dessert. I just miss him. There is really no replacement.

As life lessons need to be passed to my kids I find myself thinking what would he do. For now I cherish the memories and honor his spirit as I push forward.

I may never say goodbye to grief but I can push through the sadness. He would expect me to. Writing is a great form of therapy for me. If you lost somebody close to you, journaling your thoughts is always a great opportunity to push through the sadness.

I also have a great bestie named Teddie to hang with me as I write and today it was a nice cold glass of almond milk to wash away the woes.

Until next time…