Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running for a Reason

I spent this weekend in Nashville running the Country Music Half Marathon with Team in Training. With your help, I raised over $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and ran 13.1 miles in less than 2 hours…and if I’m being honest, I’m not sure which accomplishment I’m more proud of! But to tell you the truth, before this week, I hadn’t fully made the connection between the fundraising I was doing and the training. To be sure, I spent a lot of time thinking about Lynn and my dad and others who have lost their lives to cancer while I was logging the miles, but it was hard for me to wrap my head around how the actual training fit in with my fundraising. I suppose I could make more sense of it if I was raising money by promising to do something horrible like…I don’t know, give up ice cream for a month, but running…well, bizarre as it may be, I really like to run. Love it in fact. The way it makes my less than perfect body feel strong and powerful. The way it clears my crazy head. I mean, it’s not like I jump out of bed every morning just dying to lace up my running shoes, but for the most part, I really enjoy it. So asking people for donations by promising to do something I love, well, it didn’t seem quite fair.

But last weekend it started to make sense. On our last day of training as a team, my team member, Mallory, shared a story about her own battle with leukemia. She told us about an afternoon during the course of her chemo when she tried to climb the stairs in her house and discovered that she couldn’t. She was sixteen years old at the time and didn’t have the strength to climb a single flight of stairs. Her eyes filled with tears as she told the story but then quickly cleared as she looked at each of us and said, “I’m running this race because I can. Because there was a time when I couldn’t climb the stairs, and now I’m ready to run 13.1 miles with all of you. I’m running because I can.”

Suddenly it clicked for me. Running the half marathon wasn’t just a fundraising device, a reason to ask people for money, but the race itself was a way to honor those who have battled cancer. Those who have fought blood cancer and won like Mallory and those who have not been so lucky, like Lynn. I would run in celebration of the fact that Mallory is here to run with me today and in protest of the fact that Lynn – and so many others – are not here at all. I would also run with a renewed awareness and thankfulness that so far in this life, my greatest physical challenge has been the one I’ve imposed on myself.

I met that challenge Saturday morning. In 80 degree weather, I ran 13.1 miles in 1 hour and 57 minutes flat.

I spent a lot of that time thinking about Lynn. About the stories she told, the way she laughed, the way she could make my mom laugh so hard that I worried she might wet her pants. I thought about Lynn’s rules about double dipping and sharing ice cream cones; I thought about the way she’d matter of factly say “perk up" to pull you out of a bad mood. I thought about how much she loved teapots and Meg Ryan movies and McDonald's Diet Coke. I thought about the many holidays my family spent with hers, the countless plays and performances of both mine and my sister’s that she attended with her whole family in tow. I thought about the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings. No milestone went unmarked by Lynn (and the marking usually involved cake!). I thought about those last weeks, when the myeloma fully took over – how hard she fought, how much she suffered. I thought about the many friends and family she left behind - those who miss her, love her, need her still…

I won’t lie; I also spent much of that hour and fifty seven minutes checking my watch and wondering how much longer I could keep up my pace in the sweltering heat, but the time I spent thinking about Lynn…well, it made me finally realize what running for a reason means. And now, I can honestly say that running is no longer just about burning calories and fitting into my favorite jeans. It’s a celebration; it's a protest; it's a prayer of gratitude.

So thank you for supporting me on this journey…from your generous donations, to your questions about how my training was going, to your calls and text messages and emails of support. Thank you. Thank you for supporting me, and thank you for supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

41 minutes

Okay, so I know that after neglecting you completely last week, I should be delivering something extra fantabulous this week, but let me just warn you right now: this is not going to be extra fantabulous. Why? Because even after taking the week off, I still don't really feel like writing. There it is. The honesty you've come to expect. Is this the first time I haven't felt like writing? Well, no…and it's not even about the writing so much as it is about the time.

It's not that I don't have time. I do have time. I have as much time as the next person, and despite all of our constant whining about it, we all have time. 24 hours a day. 168 hours a week. It's how we choose to spend the time that differs. And before you roll your eyes at my phrasing, let me stress that I use the word "choose" loosely. Because I'd say that for the most part, how we spend our time doesn't feel much like a choice. The 40+ hours at work, for instance. It's not really a choice for most of us. Of course, whether your 40+ is closer to 50 or closer to 90 largely depends on your choice of occupation (doctors/lawyers/bankers, I'm talking to you!). But once you’ve made the choice to be a brain surgeon, I’m guessing you’re kind of expected to put in the necessary hours. And as for the busy parents in the audience, well, while the child was probably (hopefully?) a choice, the hours spent breastfeeding or making PB&J sandwiches or driving to ballet class or soccer practice...well, as a (good) parent, you don't get much choice about that.

But we're talking about me here…and I’m certainly not saving lives at my job or hauling babies to soccer practice. And while I feel very "busy" lately, I recognize that I’m choosing to be busy. I'm choosing to spend my evenings/weekends at Braves' games and concerts and watching movies and drinking beer at Mellow Mushroom (and running it off with my team the next morning). And the nights I’m not out having fun I choose to spend vegged out in front of the TV watching Grey's Anatomy or American Idol or 30 Rock (or all 3 if they’re waiting for me on the DVR).

And when Sunday evening rolls around after a weekend packed full of time spent either being productive or having too much fun, sometimes I just want to veg out instead of write. And that’s okay, I guess, but I’ve come to feel about the blog the way I feel about running. I don’t always feel like doing it, but I know I’ll feel better if I do.

And you know what? I was right. I do feel better. And it only took 41 minutes. And it only took that long because I kept stopping to check my email and watch parts of the Gran Prix that Roger insisted I would find extremely exciting (um, yeah). But still, 41 minutes out of 10,080 minutes in a week, really isn’t that big of a deal.
Time well spent. (Well, depends who you ask, I guess!)

Extra fantabulous

Okay so before I spent my 41 minutes writing the above nonsense, I was on the phone with my sister - bugging her to send me a few pictures of my perfect niece so that I could post them on my blog (in lieu of writing something legitimate). Now D, forgive me, but I was skeptical that you would actually get around to it tonight, much less within the hour (because if you want to talk about not having time...well, talk to a new mom!) so I went ahead and wrote the aforementioned nonsense. But my sister pulled through and and now I can accompany the nonsense with something truly extra fantabulous...the latest pics of Miss Avery Jayne!
What's that? She's the cutest, happiest, smartest, most perfect and beautiful baby ever?
I totally agree.
In fact, the whole family is pretty perf if you ask me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My life would suck without you.

Because the song has been stuck in my head for at least seventy-two hours and because I haven’t resorted to a list in lieu of a legitimate post lately, this one goes out to my impossibly charming husband…

The top 10 (not-too-cheesy) reasons my life would suck without you.

1. Rock Band. Without Roger I wouldn’t know the pleasure of belting out Livin’ On a Prayer while my husband rocks the guitar (or drums) beside me.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alison insisted that I'd love it, but it was Roger who finally convinced me to give the monster slaying valley girl the chance she deserved.

3. The M-I-L and Co. I admit it, as much as I love to bitch about Roger’s parents – I wouldn’t trade his family for anything. Because of Roger, I’m a member of this crazy cast of characters who are completely certifiable, but never ever boring, and always, always entertaining.

4. Moose. How would I have ever found my miserable mongrel without Roger?

5. From the Power 90 to the peanut butter factory, Roger makes everything more fun.

6. Because he occasisonally reads my mind.

7. What other foreigner would so completely adopt the American pastime? Okay, maybe any sports-obsessed boy, but I love that my husband knows more about the Braves’ players than I do…even if he doesn’t know all the words to my Braves’ song…yet.

8. Because waking up to the words “You’re so beautiful” (even when you know you’ve been drooling and snoring all night) never gets old. (okay, that one is pretty cheesy...sorrry.)

9. South Africa. If I hadn’t married Roger, there’s definitely no way “Well, when I lived in Africa…” would have worked its way into my vocabulary.

10. The impossibly charming-ness. I use this phrase a lot and it’s hard to explain what I mean by it, but Roger just has this way of making it impossible to be mad at him…which should be infuriating, except that it’s hard to be infuriated when he’s making me laugh as hard as he does. I’m not sure if it’s what he says or how he says it, but the boy knows exactly what to do to get me right where he wants me…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So there you have it..the top 10 reasons my life would suck without Roger. (Well maybe not the top 10, but the first 10 that I could think of this late on a Sunday!)