family, perspective

Bad Things Happen In Sets of Three

I have been told over the years that things happen in sets of three. Mainly it’s been around death that I was told groups in threes. I haven’t really dwelled too much about it over the years because it hasn’t been so close to home.

This week life shook me a bit. First the death of a colleague from a not so distant past. He lost his battle with cancer. In his prime he was healthy, fit and the life of the party, many gatherings which I attended with him. As I watch the tributes to him online I have both happy and sad emotions. Why did the world lose such a bright spirit? Why did he exit in what seemed like a long and painful way?

Only a few days after, one of my bright-spirited friends lost her dog. This passing may seem trivial to some but this was her child. The trusty companion had been through schooling, marriage, death and even a pandemic over some 15 years of dog life. I’m sure age was the factor here but it doesn’t make it easier. Saying goodbye to a life companion is hard. So very hard.

Hours later as I write this entry my dad is clinging to life in his own aging battle with dementia. The word is that his time could come in hours or days. Just not sure. Is this the third in the set of three this week? Does knowing make it easier? Are we ready for the passing of such an important family member? So many questions.

Death is unfortunately part of life. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone. As I deal with the loss of the week and the pain of life I also thrust forward to see new light. What’s around the corner? What can I be thankful for? How can I keep pressing on?

I don’t shift focus to diminish the loss, rather I use the experiences to strengthen my stride in life. To live as much as possible in the time I have ahead of me. It’s these defining moments in time that I have to find a way to make an impact to honor the life lost. There isn’t really a roadmap to doing so. I just follow my heart.

The clip below spoke to me as I wrote this post and thus I am sharing it with you.

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As I think of funerals today and how they are so different I opted to write this short story to honor not only my connections who have suffered losses but all those who endured a loss and pushed through the new normal of saying goodbye in these pandemic times. Whether it was a zoom wake/funeral or immediate family only gathering, grief and goodbyes are never easy.

In closing, I hope my dad musters the strength to push forward for selfish reasons, but in reality I want him to spread his wings with the angels to take away the pain and suffering of his final days. If he becomes three it was meant to be.

health, perspective

Fresh Outlook

Clean crisp air floating through my mind translates into a natural high. Outdoor air may seem foggy to some yet it’s clarity to me. Pre-Rona, mid-Rona and as Rona wraps up the outdoor air is where I have done some of my best thinking.

It could be on my bike, it could be on a run, it could be on a casual stroll. No matter the tempo of my stride the clarity in mind is fresher with the outdoor air. I use technology to jot down my notes on my phone no different than I log my workouts.

The air I breathe may seem toxic to some, but my breathing means I’m alive and that gift of living spurs thoughts of growth. What adventures are on the horizon but also which ones are curtailed due to pandemic interventions. I’m not worried about the ones postponed as I will get to them in time.

Whatever the path I get to take, that path is mine to enjoy. As I have said before, my path may look different but that doesn’t mean it’s a negative reflection. Rather it means new opportunities.

Sceneries change when you ride a bike, travel on boat or go for a run. Scents in the air change as well. Sounds seems more peaceful if you listen. Nature is a stomping ground many may take for granted. However I feel I ignited those senses during corona when all else seemed to be muted.

What I figured out is less is more in a way. Less chatter and complaining can be replaced with birds chirping or wind whistling. The stressful days can can replaced with a long walk. Big decisions can be contemplated on a hike with switchbacks or steep climbs to help you anticipate challenges and overcome fears.

Our mind is a machine and a mystery. When you can figure the mystery in your mind your machine can make almost anything. If your machine has been out of production it’s time to dust it off and put some fresh air and positive vibes in it. You can ignite passion if you awaken your mind.

Get to moving that mind in new directions. Seek more adventures. Tune out what seems to be clutter or brokenness. As a new sun rises be settled for the new day. Time to kick some post-corona ass. Mind fuck Monday wisdom right here.

fitness and nutrition

Re-entry

My first step towards re-entry was mental. The choice to start the process. My choice. The time to push the things that don’t matter to the side to focus on what matters: health, fitness and of course fun.

Now the first step is always the hardest. The alarm clock being set for the wee hours of the morning. The time that others are still sleeping. This is the hardest if your surrounding family members are chronic late risers. Day one is done but a tough one. Got a trail run in to get those legs in gear.

After moving becomes a priority so does hydration and nutrition. Without these elements the moving may not be as beneficial. Bye bye comfort foods. Hello bag of protein. It’s a process and sometimes you have to start, stop, restart and so on. Reigniting the passion to push oneself is definitely required after a pandemic pause of many many weeks. Time is required to rebuild strength, stamina and mental toughness especially during the turbulent times that are still upon us.

A pandemic was not on my schedule and it definitely wasn’t on the schedule. Keeping me off my consistent CrossFit workout routine for almost 2 months translates into the biggest excuse I’ve let myself withstand in my lifetime. That is not an exaggeration. No more pity party for me or those around me. No more sand bag workouts. It’s time to dust myself off and dig deep. Maybe the post-corona me will be a better version of myself. So much to look forward to.

My new may look different but that’s okay. Change is really the only constant life offers us. How we adapt to change is really the test. Here I am, 1 week into my re-entry plan. Continuing with my 2020 fitness goals, training for my first triathlon and spending time on things that matter with people that matter the most.

Next is next and I’m moving and shaking my way towards what is up next. Summer time and a triathlon. After that it’s anyone’s guess.

perspective

Every Game is a Gift

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I looked out over the field, early that morning.

It was a beautiful April weekend.  Still a little crisp in the air, but the bright, direct sun warmed your skin enough.

I thought to myself, it is a perfect lacrosse morning. Right now, we are in the heart of lacrosse season, the sport both of my daughters and many of their dearest friends love. I looked out over the field where both of my daughters played their first seasons of the sport. It should have been bustling with warmups and whistles. Instead, it stood completely empty, the “closed” signs warning everyone away. Corona was in town.

When my older daughter was in high school, she told me that lacrosse was the only reason she went to school some days. In those high school seasons, she fought through injuries of all kinds.  From ankle twists and endless bruises to plaguing knee injuries and surgery.  Most notably, as a dynamic and skilled attack player, she also suffered at least three significant concussions. Because of these brain injuries, she watched many games from the sidelines, cheering her teammates on with all her energy and might while she waited for her head to heal.

After making her way through the recruiting process, she earned a spot playing in college.  There were many ups and downs, but she made it to the college playing field.  I was so proud to see her play at that level.  But just a few games in to her freshman season, she took a hit to the head that knocked her out for several minutes.  She lost some of her memories.  She couldn’t stand bright lights our music louder than a whisper.  She was just not her usual sharp self for a while.

Days off the field turned into weeks and months.  Her college freshman season ended and even though there were a few glimmers of hope, she finally got to the point where she realized her playing days were over.  Yes, she could continue coaching and being a referee, but she would never pick up her lacrosse stick competitively again.

God, I loved watching her play.  She was such a competitor on the field.  It was amazing to witness and cheer for her. Seeing that end too soon was devastating for us both.

My younger daughter has taken her own path through lacrosse.  She has great talent and has loved the sport for many years. She was just finding her footing in her first full varsity year when corona came to town. When I ask her these days what she misses most about school, she says lacrosse.

Each of them, in their own ways, now have “lost seasons.” Seasons that should have been played. Goals that should have been scored. Laugh-filled bus rides that should have been ridden. Late night meals with teammates that should have been shared. Wins that should have been celebrated. Defeats that should have been endured. Lessons that should have been learned.

Coronavirus has served many of us lost seasons. Weddings, holidays, so many celebrations shifted, even canceled.  I think especially of high school and college seniors in their final months of school, what should be a time of togetherness, of celebration for them and their supporters. I hurt for them, even though the changed celebration doesn’t change the effort they put in or the elation they should feel. If you know someone who has a lost season because of corona, I encourage you to reach out to acknowledge that loss. Most of us don’t quite know what to say, but just being there to listen and recognize what is lost may be a help.

An unexpected concussion ended my daughter’s lacrosse career too early. From that time I knew, every game is a gift. Every time you get to step on the field or out on the stage or wherever you do what you love…every time you get to do that, it is a gift to be cherished and a challenge to be embraced. When we emerge from this, I hope we are changed in a way where we remember that.

perspective

The Corona Coulda Shoulda Wouldas

So Corona has been here for a while now.  It has shaped our lives and routines.  I wonder, were you ready?

Ready?  What does that even mean?  Burning question: How do we prepare for the unforeseeable?  For something we have never experienced before?  A lot of people are playing the “coulda, woulda, shoulda” game these days, thinking of things they wish they had done to be more ready for this moment.

Well, in some ways it’s impossible.  But looking at my life now, there are some things I have done that set me up positively for this moment and other things I will do better with from now on. Yes, the lessons are already showing themselves. It’s up to me to keep my eye out and learn them. Here’s a couple I’ve thought about.

One thing I’ve done right: I am glad I took control of my health when I did.  I could not have known what was coming 5 years ago when I started working on my level of fitness, and then more specifically on my diet.  Now we know that severe obesity is one of the major risk factors in serious complications from this virus, and I am grateful I am not in that category any longer.  CrossFit and consistent exercise has also lowered my blood pressure, which some believe seems to make a difference in successfully battling this illness as well.  Still, I was morbidly obese for decades. I know I’ve taken a toll on my body. Hopefully I made the right changes in time and can continue choosing every day and being consistent.

One thing I need to work on: I could definitely spend money differently.  My house is choked with stuff I thought I liked or needed at any given time.  As I’ve noted in previous posts, many of those items are now coming out of hiding and finding a purpose.  Some have been given away to people who need them. But, there’s a lot of excess stuff. I’ll be selling or giving things away over the next few months in bulk and trying to spend more intentionally.

What I am so grateful for: I am SO GLAD I have a group of friends and loved ones to do crazy stuff with.  The “Bad Idea Club” and several others are always up for a goofy good time.  We dress in themes, we giggle from our guts.  We care less about what others may say. Judge away, we are too busy having fun.

Case in point: just before the corona wave broke, we had an epic birthday celebration for Chick 1. We dressed up in 70s regalia, took pictures, went out on the town, stayed out on the town at a funky little hotel, had s’mores late and night and a birthday breakfast at a local diner the next morning, and generally just embraced life.  It was a grand celebration.  And while it was such fun at the time, one short month later, in quarantine, when those photos came up in memories, I multiplied that happiness by 10, that we just went for it and did life and her celebration BIG.

I am sure there are many who roll their eyes (like my kids) or shake their heads at our antics.  But darnit, I really don’t want to get to the end of life and not have lived fully.  The stuff does not matter.  The memories and the people we make them with do.

So much for the coulda, shoulda, wouldas.  We need to take better care of ourselves now, and live now. What are the “I can, I do, I wills” for going forward?

I will to take more vacations, drive more scenic routes.  I will take more hikes and visit loved ones more often. I will stop waiting for the perfect time to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the fall foliage change color.  I will add to my list of dreams and destinations and tick them off one by one by one.

I will keep taking care of myself and those who matter to me.  I will love and live big each day, and appreciate deeply the opportunity to do that! It has made me look at the magnet on my refrigerator (pictured below) with new eyes!

What lessons are you learning from this?  What coulda shoulda wouldas can you turn in to I can, I do, I wills…?

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balance, Teddie Aspen

Floating Away

Today I floated in the water at the lake on a boat. Social distancing safely while getting some water therapy as I called it. The calmness of this environment took away all the worries of the world even if for just a few hours.

The sound of the gentle waves hitting the boat were relaxing. A slight rocking motion to compliment the uneasy feeling of life right now was somewhat comforting. A few sound effects from the geese in the area while the radio plays softly in background was a good distraction as well.

It wasn’t super hot rather it was about 70 degrees with a gentle breeze. I had enough time to read a little of a book, rest my eyes, write a little and feel the warmth of the sun on my body. The vitamin D was much needed and so was the change of scenery.

Pollen count was very high where I was but it didn’t seem to bother me in the middle of the water. I got to see a crane at one point and saw a few jumping fish. Might not seem like a big deal but it added to the ambience.

My little puppy Teddie had her first trip on the water. I think she is going to like the boat as much as me this summer. She has the cutest little life jacket but it’s in blue. No cute pink or print was available so she isn’t really stylin’ but she is cute no matter what.

Sometimes we can take things in life for granted but in the midst of this corona virus I can safely say I’m thankful so many things. The sounds that may have seemed annoying before are probably the ones I miss the most right now.

The phone ringing off the hook. The kids screaming at the park. The laughter along with the tears. The competitive sounds at the gym. The giggle of my girls at a coffee date. So much to miss but for now I’m focused on what I have in front of me. A little more time. A little more quiet.

Hope you enjoyed my virtual water therapy with me. It may not be a perfect reflection but maybe it will offer some peaceful thoughts where you are especially if you are cooped up. A little sunshine can help anyone if they let their mind drift into a peaceful place.

 

perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?