I Didn’t Know Until Now.

“Don’t be afraid; people are so afraid; don’t be afraid to live in the raw wind, naked, alone…Learn at least this: What you are capable of. Let nothing stand in your way.”

Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approach

Readers.  I’ve been gone.  I haven’t written for months.  

It’s taken me this day to realize just exactly what happened in 2015, and the only one I’ve come up with is…Can’t.

I can’t blog.  I can’t run.  I can’t do this again.

All year long, I said things like, “When you hit 55, it all goes downhill, fast.”  “It’s too cold to run in the morning.”  “My running days are over.” “I definitely don’t want a relationship anymore.”  “When your skin is this old, every day is scarf season.” “Maybe I had my shot at love already.” “I like to move into a new job every year or so.” “I don’t want to write this blog anymore.”

All year long, in all of my writing, I start to accept the notion that I am well on my way out.  All of the things that I love, I simply put down.  I think I was getting ready to be old… dead?

But I didn’t know until now that I was feeling this.  Until I saw this video this morning.  I met Billy on Twitter, seemingly a million years ago. Back when I was hungry, and hung on every word that runners said, what my coach said.  Because then…I wanted it, and wanted it badly.  Back when I was completely engaged and excited with my 50 year old self, running my first marathon.  I didn’t realize how masterfully this man could weave not only a story, but could also ignite a desire for life in me on this New Year’s Day.

Get a cup of tea.  This is a must watch.

I spent the morning of January 1 as I always do.  In reflection.  And I realized that if saying “can’t” to everything was working, then I would be satisfied.  And.  I am so. Not.

Then I saw the video.  I cried all the way through it, because I somehow knew what was coming.  What I didn’t plan on was the overwhelming realization that I gave 2015 a big…pause.  A big shrug of the shoulder and acceptance, erroneously, that my time at the table was done.

So.  I got a pen.  A piece of scratch paper.  I started writing.  Throwing out my pathetic, self centered journal writing from this year.  And.  I started to focus.  I wrote goals.  Crossed things out.  Smiled at some recollections of a hungry runner.

It’s not pretty, but here it is.  The short list for 2016.

  1. Run a race.  Any race, of any type.  I’m a road runner, but if it’s a trail, well.  I guess I’ll be running that.
  2. Stay purposefully single.  Stay where I am.  Lean in to this relationship-less path.
  3. Embrace my colleagues, and go with their purpose.  I’m at a New Year’s Eve party, and get in a corner with another teacher, and realize.  I love to teach.
  4. Swim.  More laps.  And in those laps, meditation.  More of this.
  5. Enjoy my age.  I will be 57 next month.  It’s time I enjoy it, laugh, wear scarves, understand that just because I’m 57, well.  It’s just an age.
  6. Keep loving my tribe.  All of them.

I start.  Today.

 

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I’m sick of following my dreams.  I’m just going to ask them where they’re goin’, and hook up with them later.  ~Mitch Hedberg
Today, it’s been six months since we’ve been in the home.
I never dreamt that I would be so happy with a house.
I lived 20 years in a home that took care of us.  But.  This place.  This place is home.
In the time that I’ve lived here, I’ve loved and lost again.
My nephew died, and I periodically am slammed with overwhelming grief.
I ended one dream job, and got another, better, more perfect job.
My son’s soccer team won the division section championships.
My son’s football team was one short of the same.
I’m starting to understand the heartbeat of my neighborhood.
When I should run.  Where.
I didn’t know that I would have ever picked this place on the map.
This grief.  This love.  This dream home.
All I know for sure is that my dreams…
The ones I haven’t even dreamt yet.
Well.
They are coming true.

Not sure how to start this.

I had the most bizarre experience today.  We had cause to spend some time together at a doctor’s office today.  He with his smile, and what seemed like a friendly demeanor.  Well.  As best as he could.

So.  30 minutes later.  He left an accidental voicemail on my phone.  Calling me names.  The bad ones.  He didn’t know he was being recorded.  And the funny thing is, he was talking to a different woman.  Not that woman.  Someone else.  Was he speaking rhetorically?  Or to her out the window or on another line…?  I couldn’t tell.  But when he finally realized that he was being recorded, you could hear the sickness in his voice.  Like he all of a sudden was caught.

And here’s the deal.  He talked about my blogs.  Things he thinks he knows from reading them (this is my first post in a month).

My first reaction.  Shut everything down.  Go dark.  Run.

Then.  Another response.

No.  I will not.  I am not afraid; I am not worried.

In fact, my response was to stand right up.  Most people know I adore social media.  I’ve met wonderful friends on Twitter…my running world would not be complete without them.  I snapchat daily with a friend from my last job.  I love connecting with long standing friends across the country.  I’m the first to get on board for a new outlet.  I love it all.  So, in light of this morning’s development, instead of shrinking and changing what I love, I simply have decided to fling myself right out here, and give you my take on all the social media.  Including links that will take you right to my page.

First, the uglies.

  1. Ello  So not sure about this one yet.  I joined. I love the format.  I just don’t get it yet.  I’m reserving judgment, but there is no app, so I’m not hep.  Yet.
  2. Biker Or Not An old site I rarely use.  When I used to have a backseat, I loved reading some of these posts.  They are snarky and adult, and it’s only given me some cute pictures, nothing else.  I certainly am not interested in someone else’s backseat.  I go on and off of this one.  It’s really not for me.  Weird format.

The ones I like the most:

  1. Google + This is my new favorite. No advertisements.  Clean format.  Easily ported through gmail, google, youtube.  I like the interconnectedness.
  2. Twitter One of my first online ventures, I started Twitter when it was just a year old.  I met hundreds of people that I started to interact with on a regular basis.  I didn’t know any of them, but they became real, when all over the country, Tweetups were the thing of the day.  Many of those old friends from 2008 are people I talk with daily on Facebook.  I have a public profile, because I like the seamless interaction with businesses, and since I’ve come back to teaching, Twitter has started to flesh out my career.  Also.  Anyone remember the governor helping to save my house?  Yes, I could go on forever about this one.  I love Twitter.
  3. Instagram I love this site.  But.  What I really love it clicking your picture two times to bring up that heart.  So satisfying.  So many people I know do JUST Instagram, so it’s a fun way to connect.  The filters.  RISE.  My personal favorite.  Super fun.
  4. Pinterest When this first started, I just liked a page of all my favorite stuff.  Then, I liked to be able to link pictures to web pages I used regularly.  As with everything, some wise guys have fake pins that take you to spam, but for the most part, I like my collections.  It’s sort of my history there now.
  5. Snapchat This is the site where you take a pic, send it, and it’s gone.  Instantly.  Or so you think.  I only use it with a few friends.  Mostly snarky and sarcastic and stuff we don’t want seen again.  You know who you are.
  6. Spotify  My only music sharing site.  I have the premium.  I have thousands of collections, and follow many more.  I love music.

Lastly.  Facebook.  How could I forget you?  I have a love/hate relationship with you.  I can’t disconnect, because you own everything.  I will figure out a way, but for now, I am with you.

I’m not afraid.  I’m authentic.  Think what you want…then come join me.

what you can do right now

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helpless. you didn’t know why she took her life. you didn’t know he was THAT depressed. you wonder what you could have done. there are no answers. when someone has depression, the worst question you can ask is “why?”, as if there is some reason. some explanation. it’s the same logic as asking why you have kidney disease. why. why not. what we know now is that many times it is a medical issue. talk therapy + meds, in short, is most accepted form of treatment. add alcohol + drugs, and you gotta add the 12 steps. or some type of recovery.

so you didn’t know. you’re shocked. you wish she had called you. but she didn’t.

see that post it note? that was sent to me in the mail, along with a book. from one of my favorite twitter friends, tk…and it was sent during a crazy time for me. worried about raising two kids alone. then welfare. then unemployment. and i read the book, and i saw the movie. and i can’t even tell you where the book is now (somewhere in my house)…but this post it note. it made it through the move. i saved it in a special spot, because my friend. she wrote. i love linda! (i think it was attached to jeff bridge’s mouth, because be both loved this movie, soundtrack, etc.) but it was one of the kindest gestures i’ve ever received. it stares at me daily, as it has for all this time. to remind me. i love linda! wow!

so. since the death of robin williams, and because of my job, i’m up close and personal to depression. and this week has been a bitch. because, ya know…if HE could do it. well. then this morning, another of our friends found dead to suicide. and again. the same question.

here’s a smallish list that you can do right now to add some CONNECTION to human beings.

1. call one person who you know and talk to them. turn off your distractions. listen.

2. buy a package of cheap birthday cards, and some stamps. look at your facebook events page. up in the right corner, look at who is having a birthday. see who is having a birthday next week. get their address. send them one of those cards.

3. send a snapchat to someone having a bad day.

4. when your gardener comes, give him a soda or a water. go outside and have a conversation with him.

5. say hello to everyone you pass. everyone.

6. write a note and slip it under your co-worker’s closed door. not in a creepy way, but sort of a joking, fun way.

7. tell someone you work with how they made your day/week.

8. go into your library, and find a book that you’re done with. mail it to someone with a cute card.

9. use the messenger phone app. call someone in your facebook friends list. from the app. it’s got great sound, and then you can’t use the excuse that you didn’t have his number.

10. ask in an open forum. twitter. tumblr. ask if someone is depressed. tell them you’re there right now if they need to talk. just be a human.

i don’t know if it will save their lives, but maybe. maybe your interaction will just let them know you are there.

because some days. i just look at that post it note, and i smile. and that’s something.

a piece of my heart.

 

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This will be the last Saturday I’ve owned this home.  A long story, stretching over 6 years of saving it, one day at a time.  Our home will sell finally on Wednesday, and someone else’s name will be on the Title.

And I don’t know where we are going.  Or when.  But I know this.  We will be fine.  I have a great, dream job, with good income.  I have saved this house, long after most people left in the housing crisis of 2007.  My sons are both in High School, and know how to run every part of a home.  They cook, clean, do laundry (to the end…I brag), barbecue and fix stuff.  (Getting them into Boy Scouts when their dad left was ingenious.)  We lovingly call this the Duct Tape Home, since I never wanted to put too much money into fixtures, once we knew we would be moving…And who knew we would be here until 2014.

I woke groggily today.  Slowly.  I felt a heaviness as I looked around my room, knowing that this time is really it.  It took a lot of time, maybe 2 hours to acclimate myself to the fact that there are no more sweet deals.  And so, I simply did what we do.  Laced up to hit my streets.  I took off for a 5K run, even though it was already warm at 66 degrees.  Save for the man I passed on the overpass who apologized for being too slow, I have spoken out-loud to no one all day.  My sister called for a quick 5 minute chat.  I came home.  I sat in the spa.  I was numb.  A girl I sponsor called.  I talked to the AT&T and Apple people to help me fix my accounts and phones.  I closed my eyes for a brief nap.  But that’s it.

And it’s not the house.  The memories you might imagine.  It’s touching the under side of the wooden blind in my front room and remembering an argument the long gone ex and I had over a camping trip with his then paramour.  (Yes, you read that right).  It was looking at the angel vase that the boys gave me one Mother’s Day. The Santa Claus Ping Pong table surprising the boys in the garage at Christmas. Staring at a random book in my bookcases.  A Gift From The Sea.  The Scrabble Dictionary. And wondering how they are together, since one is blue and one is red, and remembering that my books are arranged  to the color of their spines. I walked to the back with Chet, and looked at the pile of rocks that we put in as a decorative touch.  My cactus with one bloom.  The now gone potting bench, where after studying for my MFT license, we would pot strawberries and channel Martha Stewart.

I would be sitting somewhere today, and from a low place in my soul, a cry would bubble up, exploding in a smallish wail.  Chet would immediately be in my lap as soon as it would start.  On at least three different occasions, he simply could not stand it, and let me know he was there, making his presence known with his cold nose.  And he would stare at me.

For weeks, I have been looking at rental houses.  They look great on paper.  Then we drive there, and the farmhouse that was adorable sits across from a Dueling Banjos house, complete with thatched roof.  The perfect price with pool is one street over from the most dangerous part of town.  And the beautiful home I dream about is a 25 minute drive to school for my boys.  One way.  One owner wants $1000 pet deposit for my dog, one house is sans windows.  I’m about to move from being a homeowner to a renter, and I haven’t been that for over 20 years.  It’s slightly unnerving.

So.  I sat in solitude today.  Quiet.  Feeling and remembering the pulse of this house. The parties.  The times I was alone and angry. Little children peeking around the corner when they should be napping, and family dogs:  one black, yellow and chocolate lab.  And Princess.  Forever guarding this place.

I suppose marathoning has prepared me for this day.  The fun runs, the aching middle miles, then the final push toward home.  In some ways this week is like taper week.  I’m not really hungry.  I’m empty of thought and drive.  I don’t want to talk. I want to sleep.  And it’s not depression.  It’s life, and adjustment.  I went out with friends last night as if to avoid looking at more rentals, and feeling the future pinch of my paycheck.

Just as I am finishing this blog post, my two teenagers come in, looking for me, and for a sweatshirt and socks, because they are spending their weekend at Relay for Life with the Scouts.  They say it’s boring.  I say take this deck of cards.  And the Poker Chips.  And they breathe life into my evening, because they needed something, and I was here.  When they could have gone to their Dad’s house, equal miles away, they came here.  Because I’m here.  They give me a kiss, take more stuff, grab games, and tell me they love me.  And I got to be right here to hear it.

Most people know that I’m anything but an introvert.  In fact being with people is my most favorite thing.  But this day spent in quiet was most necessary and beneficial. And slowly as I head into the night, I have new fire, hope and resolve. That this will not break me.  That I can spend the next few weeks or months saying goodbye, in my time, to a place that is not just a clump of wood held together with nails, but a place that grew people.   Of course I look forward to new vistas and home shopping.  But, for now, I begin preparing for the next step.

 

 

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Life.

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  This blog has always been a running blog.  Then a divorce blog.  Then an oh-my-god how am I going to raise two little boys blog.  The last time I posted was for a trail race at the end of March.  It is now mid-May, and this may mark the longest streak ever of no posting.

I’m running, sort of.  I have a loose race on the calendar, perhaps the San Francisco Half Marathon.  I’m working 4-10 hour shifts that start at 6am, so for me to run and train, it’s either late at night when it’s super dark, or at 3am.  Neither of these options looks palatable to me.  Especially when it is now 95 degrees here in Northern California.

So.  Updates.

In one week, I will have 2 boys in High School.  The oldest is 2 years from leaving the nest altogether…yes, I’m that Mom.  You leave.  He came to me the other day and said he wanted to go to University of Idaho…and I said…really?? that far?  His response:  “Mom, you want me to go see the world.  I’m gonna go see the world.”  I always thought I’d be that Mom that is overdramatically hanging onto my kids, but I’m really all about going.  Getting out.  Seeing it all.  My boys go to a small school in a small Dutch Christian Reformed town, one that values Christian Reformed colleges…and so I said, anywhere but there.  Anywhere.  The extent of him “breaking the rules”?  Telling me he might want to do just that.  And I bit my tongue.  He’s soccer, basketball, baseball.  He’s Scouts and friends and his jeep.  The other is all football, all the time.  Wants to go to LSU…or Alabama…and what shock I had when he was in the weight room 5 days a week this Spring, getting ready for football.  Both of these amazing boys, who were in 1st and 3rd grade when their Dad moved out, and both who have turned into the most amazing young men.  I don’t do much for them.  I provide.  But, they learned how to do laundry (all the way to folding and putting away), dishes, barbecuing, fixing stuff.  I gave them hammers, and they did it all.  So yeah.  I have 4 years until my direct influence is gone.  But I will say that they always want to be here.  With me.  Hanging out.  We keep a group text going all the time, even when I erase all texts daily.  Not theirs.  At night we send funny internet memes to each other from our rooms.   They harass me with Dodgers-Giants rivalry love.  I have to say that being a Mom, while sometimes daunting, has been easy with teenagers.  Because we talk.  We talk about hurts and love and loss and tell the truth.  Every day.

It is my most important job.  I was never the mom who went out on dates after the divorce.  I fell in love some 3 years later, and then was alone again.   And some days and weekends when I am by myself, I wonder if I will every do anything else with my life except parent these two.  And yet, if that’s all it is, it’s very good.  It’s important.

The house.  Next week, the house goes up for foreclosure.  Again.  Since 2008, I have fought to keep this house.  Three foreclosures on the courthouse steps, and I saved them within hours of the sale.  6 years I have saved it over and over in the nightmare California foreclosure process, and still I’m here.  In 10 days, I believe the death knell will finally fall.  My pool pump broke yesterday.  I’m fixing it.  Because I’ve loved this house, and I have been very lucky.  But those who know me, know that perseverance is my number one quality.  Sometimes it’s a good thing.  Like the house.   Sometimes it’s hard to step back and stop persisting, like in matters of love and relationships.  In any event.  6 years.  Here in this place…the duct tape house.  My kids fix it when it breaks, and Chet is here watching it all.

My job.  My most amazing job.  God plucked me off that mountain on the way to Mariposa a year ago, and gave me the most perfect job for me.  All day, I get to do what I love…and couple it with the passion of my life and my sobriety.

I want to especially point out that I could have done nothing without the people in my life who cried with me, lifted me up, laughed with me and drug me out of the house in my loneliness.  I want to thank the Dodgers for giving me a cheap form of entertainment when I couldn’t do one more movie and dinner.  And Chet.  Where would I be without him?  And I suppose all of his antics, his coming home in a cop car, his desperate pleas to always be by my side, his snoring.  I suppose my life is important to him as well.  Not too long ago, I was crying.  And the moment I started, he was there, his brown head in my lap.  Loving me.

A few years ago, the big saying was, “It is what it is.”  As an English teacher, that phrase would just make me cringe for the mere purpose of it’s annoyance.  The new saying is “I’m so blessed.”  “I’m blessed.”  As if to say that look at me I am so lucky and so blessed…by God I assume…as if you did something to get’s God favor, or not, and you have now been …blessed.  It’s annoying.  Work with me here.  I’m not blessed.  I’m fortunate that I was raised by the people who taught me that in a pond of alligators, you should probably shoot the closest one first.  I’m fortunate to have found an amazing therapist who lets me sleep at times, with all my ADHD-ness.  I have a sponsor that is so patient with me when I’ve again decided to do it my way.  I’ve been given gifts.  “Blessed” with people and principles.  But all of this is moot if I do not pick up the hammer and do the work.

I did the work.  You stood and worked and sweat there beside me.  God’s grace was on me.  I called the Governor.  I lined up the people.  So it’s part me, and part you and part God.  It’s timing.  It’s everything.

My Mom told me when I first got a divorce that I should never leave this house without lipstick.  My dad told me to stand up, and keep moving.  My drink is coffee.  All day.   And yes, this life…well, it is working out perfectly, and though I get scared, I’m more excited to see what’s up around the next corner.

It’s not likely, but maybe I’ll even do a marathon again.

 

 

7 Years And Room For More.

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Seven years ago, I was a newly divorced, life-falling-apart PE teacher in a Middle School.  Trying to figure out how to get my students to be more active.  I came across the C25K running plan, and for 9 weeks, I had 7th and 8th graders running around the gym.  Over and over again.  I didn’t know anything, was just armed with my credential and a plan that I found on the internet.  My class ran a 5K to the pumping sounds of U and UR hand, and a runner was born.  That Fall, I started running on my own.

That month, I started a blog, and without fail, I’ve posted something every year on March 21, the inception of this blog.  Though yesterday, I just.  Didn’t.

In 2007, blogs were very new and radical.  It was a year before Twitter was born, and Facebook was something that didn’t register for me.  I loved to write, and I taught kids how to engage by making their own blogs.  So cutting edge.  Think of all that’s changed in just seven years.  We tweet and make status updates.  Lengthy emails feel like homework, and blogs, simply may have just run their course, because we simply can’t pay attention to that much verbage.

So, this blog is 7 years old.

Here are the stats:  4200 miles run.  6 marathons.  Ran my first marathon at age 50, and my last at 55.  Fell in love with someone I’m sure that I will never stop loving. Dusted myself off, and dated again.  Lost and saved this house three times.  Have spent hours at teenager’s sports events.  Traveled to see my parents once a month in the last year.  Found the job of my dreams out of a pile of ashes.  And those are just the highlights.

Just as I was typing this, and not sure what I should say, I happened to look up at this collection of pictures on my wall.  And I realized something.  Yes, the blog is 7 years old, and there they are…all the people that have made up the fabric of my life. I’ve become a runner and coach.  A mom to teenagers and a great employee.  And here’s the thing.  Even as I look at that collection, there are spaces where there is nothing.  Because there is room for more.

More love, more friendships, more life.  I have more books than I could ever read.  I have more music than I could ever possibly listen to in my whole lifetime.  I have food in my cupboards that could sustain me for months.  I have the love of my LA Family, and now facing moving from Ripon for the first time in 20 years, I realize that I do indeed have a group of fabulous friends here.  The empty spaces in this collection of pictures are just waiting for more.  Of everything.  I don’t always feel blessed. In fact, I can be a little negative.  But, tonight, my life is rich, and I thank you for being in it.

In the words of Ferris Bueller:

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