Blog September 12, 2016

  Blog September 12, 2016  

September 12, 2016

Let’s Dance

So, here’s the thing.  I haven’t written in so long because I have been in a funk.  Yep, a funk.  If you were there the day I spoke at church, then you heard part of it.  The news has been so depressing.  I don’t talk politics with people, but if I did……oh boy, would I have something to say.  All of the killing and violence and ugliness has been rough on all of us.  It is just so much more than any of us can wrap our heads around.  The news makes watching “The Simpsons” a better choice.  I actually find that show to be hilarious.  It is the type of sarcastic humor I enjoy and have seen fit to allow Laura to pollute her fabulous mind with it as well.  Totally inappropriate.  The news is worse.  It has got me down, but other things have pulled me in that direction as well.  The summer was a bad one for me with my health.  I had a seizure and the MS was through the roof.  That deal is kind of a viscous cycle.  One triggers the other, triggers the other, and it’s hard to pull out of.  I could rattle on and on about what is wrong.  I have not written as I feel my insight should be uplifting, not drag others down with me, ya know? Well, that was stupid logic (can you use the word “stupid” with the word “logic”?  I think not) because the writing brings me up.  So, here I am.  Back again.  My hope is to be consistent and write often.  You can look forward to more of my rambling on…….

What you put in your body and mind, you get out.  I know that if I start my day right I tend to be more likely to continue on that path.  I am not a big breakfast fan.  I know, I know, it is the most important meal of the day and all of that.  I just don’t love it.  I don’t wake up hungry and nothing ever sounds good.  For this reason, I know that I need to start my day with a smoothie.  I power pack it.  It is fruit, yogurt, veggies, protein powder.  I love it and it is a good way for me to pack in some nutrition that my body needs and more than covers this whole breakfast issue.  Laura is not much of a breakfast fan herself (whose fault is that???  I blame Ben).  Laura will eat breakfast, but needs to be up for a while first.  This is something that she does not have the luxury of on school days.  We are doing well to be up and out the door.  I start her day with a smoothie as well.  Hers has all of the good stuff snuck in there as well and she is none the wiser.  Now that bringing a lunch is no longer as cool (sigh), I am a bit spazzy about the morning smoothie.  I pride myself on the fact that it meets the requirements for a full day of calcium and vitamin d, protein, many other  vitamins.  That way if she chooses not to hear me when I say stupid things like, “eat something other than pizza at school today”, we are still ok.  I hit her with fruit and protein after school.  What you put in you get out.    You can’t expect to learn with nothing in your body to fuel it, or just a pop tart.  

You also can’t learn and be productive and effective if all you are putting in your mind and soul is negative.  Why am I so careful about being sure that my loved ones are taken care of in both regards, nutrition and mentally/spiritually/whatever you want to call it, while continuing the negative self-talk?  Heck, I have no idea.  This is exactly why I have to write.  Hopefully I can help someone else realize ways to help themselves as well.  I’m sure we all sabotage ourselves in some way.  

I do not like being told what to do.  What I dislike even more is being told what I can’t do.  Those two are very different things in my mind.  I have always been this way, so says my Mom.  It is no mystery to me where I got it.  She tells me stories of the early onset of this deal for me.  Stories of me ripping up papers, and folding my arms and stamping, and being very disobedient. ( I have asked Laura many times if she wants to read my blog.  I stopped asking and will definitely NOT start again with this issue!! ) What the heck is the matter with me??  I haven’t changed much here.  It is something I need to think about and work on.   I have always worked somewhere that I believed in the cause.  I have done some type of social work, teaching, mentoring, evaluating compliance to rules that I believed in.  So, while I was in the work force I managed not to ever get fired.  Did I have a few “head-to-head” discussions?  Oh yeah.  

With both of my kids I suffered blood clots during pregnancy.  After each child, I had surgeries on my legs to make things run a little more smoothly.  Though I wanted the result to be legs like Cindy Crawford, the goal was just to get things safe so that I would minimize the risk of getting a life threatening deep blood clot.  Bummer.  The first surgery was when Nick was 2 , I think.  When I was getting ready to leave the hospital, the doc said, “Well, you will never run a triathlon, but you should be ok for a while.”  Are you kidding me right now?  He really said this out loud to me while I was in recovery?  Come on, man, why did you have to do THAT?  Why did you have to be so condescending?  This was way before I had MS.  It would be many years before I was diagnosed.  I felt that trigger switch in my brain.  I literally felt it in that moment.  I said to him, “Oh, Dr. X, I WILL be in a triathlon and I will mail you my number.”  

Here is a little background information for you.  I am not athletic.  Not at all.  I never was, didn’t care, never will be.  I am not competitive when it comes to physical things.  If I were to be playing volleyball and the ball came somewhere near me, I would never dive for it.  I just wouldn’t.  I would be more likely to step away while yelling, “Yours!!”.   It could mean I am not a good team player, or it could just make me smarter because I don’t risk injury for a sport.  I do wish I had a little of whatever that is in me in the athletic arena.  I have plenty of spunk in other areas though.  So, my point is that I had just told myself that I WOULD be doing a triathlon as I was going to mail that pompous doctor my number.   I was mad.  The doctor had gotten my Irish up, as my dad would say.  Dang it.  

It took over a year to heal up physically.  I remained determined and head strong.   During this time I met, and fell in love with, Ben.  Ben has always been so supportive.   I bought a treadmill.  I still have it and my nephew told me it still works!  I still like it, but can’t keep my balance very well.  I think falling off of that thing would hurt a lot more than diving for a  volleyball.  The triathlon I entered (gulp) was the Glenwood Springs Triathlon.  Glenwood is my happy place.  I grew up riding the train there.  My dad worked for Rio Grande Railroad for 40 years and he would stick us on the train to my Grandma’s and she would pick us up in her hometown, Glenwood.  I used to think when I grew up I would live there.  Now it is far too touristy and crowded for me.  I do crowds about as well as I play sports.  Anyway, I guess I figured if I was going to do a triathlon anywhere, it may as well be there.  Maybe Gram would watch over me and help me cross the finish line.  

My athletic friends all entered.  There were 5 of us girls participating.  Our families and loved ones came with us.  Get this, the day before the race, Ben took Nick and I to the path alongside the river in Glenwood Canyon.  I did not own a bike.  I had not ridden a bike since college and not much then.  He brought his bike and helmet.  The day before the race I got on that bike and Ben showed me how to switch gears etc.  Was this really happening?  Oh jeez, I was getting really scared.  The switch that had flipped in the hospital was a stronger force than my fear.  So, I rode along that path practicing gears and wondering how I could drink water and ride at the same time (turns out I couldn’t and I dropped the water bottle very early on in the race).  

The race started with the swimming.  There I was in my suit alongside my best friends.  Nick and Ben would be waiting for me at the finish line, or come search for my body.  It was the last moment I saw my friends until I saw their happy faces much later.  I could do this.  I like to swim around.  I love the Glenwood Pool.  It’s nice and warm and very relaxing, right?  Right.  That isn’t what it takes to swim in a race!  I did the one stroke I am good at, the breast stroke.  I did not panic or rush as I knew this was going to be the easy part for me.  Yeah, well it wasn’t.  We swam 525 meters, biked 15 miles, and ran (I walked, I don’t run unless a really mean pit bull was chasing me.  I might just throw down and play dead though) five miles.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I did not have a clue.  If I did, I would not have done it.  For this reason, I am glad I didn’t have a clue.  

The swim wasn’t so bad because when you are under water it is like just being in your own head anyway.  You can’t hear the others, I was just focusing on finishing this deal.  I was left alone in a hurry and didn’t care too much.  Boy, you really get tired quick when swimming for real.  You also get tired in that warm pool.  I see why swim team is usually in cold water.  I pulled myself as far into my own head and thoughts as I could.  It was me and God in that pool.  When it was time to get out, I don’t remember where I put my goggles or how I got to my bike.   It was no longer just me and God though.  There were hundreds of people on bikes.  How were we not going to run into each other and be in bloody piles on the cement?  

The bike race took place on I-70 alongside the river.  It went clear past No Name if memory serves.  I remember when I got on the bike that I felt so nervous to have other riders by me.  That was of no matter, though, because very soon I was all alone.  That bike ride was so hard.  I am not kidding, it was mountainy, hard to catch your breath, hot, and I was so scared.  I really was all alone as the other bikers left me in the dust so quickly.  I was glad.  They were bugging me.  After a few miles, I literally could feel my legs screaming.  It hurt worse than anything I had felt in a long time.  I cried and forced  my legs to keep pedaling.  I got really thirsty and needed a drink so badly.  I was afraid to reach down for my water bottle.  I was so afraid I would lose my balance and fall.  If I didn’t take a drink, I knew chances were good that I would dehydrate and pass out.  I could hear only the sounds of Ben’s bike and my breathing.  I guess that is how athletes do it.  They get lost in that and that is a great thing in some ways.  It helped me to remember that I was not alone.  God was with me.  I prayed so hard.  

“Please help me finish this.  I really, really don’t want to fall.  I will bleed a lot and it will really hurt.  Please help me get a drink, God.  I need a drink so badly.  I don’t want to have to leave in an ambulance.  God, ummmmm God?  Are you hearing me?  I just need to know I can do this.  I need to know I can.  I don’t care if I come in dead last, just help me finish.”

In those moments the memory of the Dr. and his comments left my mind.  This was bigger than that now.  Remember the words of that prayer.  That prayer has come back to me so many times over the course of life since that day, the same words.  The circumstances vary, but the words still apply.   Those words have applied to many way bigger deals than me and that bike.  I am talking globally here.

I kept going.  Soon my legs got kind of numb.  I managed to get the water bottle out of the thing and took a long drink while praying not to fall.  I sort of tried to get it back in the thing, but it fell to the ground.  I didn’t really care.  I was a little relieved not to have to fumble around anymore.  I don’t know why I didn’t use a camelback water bottle.  It is a backpack with a straw that is right on your shoulder.  I didn’t know about that and they must not have existed or surely someone would have told me.

So, water bottle down, me alone on the pavement heading to No Name.  The fact that we  were heading to No Name could be ironic, I think not.  This had become a God thing.  It wasn’t about saying I told you so to the doc.  The rest of the race was some serious prayer and soul searching.  I was seriously all alone in my head, aside from God.  It was strangely silent.  It was cool.  When I got off the bike, my legs didn’t work.  Seriously, they were so wobbly and it took a long time to be able to walk right.  The run (walk for me) took place along the bike paths of town.  I really had to go to the bathroom.  There were those port-a-potties set up along the route.  I have to sidetrack for a minute here to give you some personal history, as well as a little regular history-history.  

I love the Hotel Colorado.  It isn’t where we stay, but I love to go there.  It is so full of history and is really a magical place for me.  I love to wander the grand halls and look at the pictures on the walls.  There are pictures of Teddy Roosevelt who stayed there yearly while he was hunting.  The rumor is that the Teddy Bear got named during his stay there.  President Roosevelt hunted bears and if his hunt was unsuccessful, the maids would present him with a stuffed bear.  Kinda seems like rubbing salt in the wound to me.  Anyway, the story is that his daughter named the bear “Teddy” and that stuck.  

The gangsters and their gals stayed there and danced and had fancy parties.  There are pictures of flappers on the wall that I have looked at since I was a little girl.  I would fantasize about wearing those beautiful drop waist dresses, with furs around my shoulders (I hate the very notion of furs, so I don’t know what that was about), and a piece of lace tied around my head in the perfect bow on the side.  My grandma had a real dress and even had these disgusting minks.  It was two minks joined together by their tails so that they draped their head across each shoulder.  They were the real deal.  She had all of the jewelry and pictures.  My Gram loved the Hotel also and we would go there for breakfast sometimes and listen to her stories.  I would hang on every word.  She said when I was big enough I could wear that flapper outfit for Halloween.  Mom saved it and I did.  I even wore those nasty minks, with their fake beady eyes and sick teeth.  I looked fabulous though and could have been in the roaring twenties easy…..oh yeah, except for everything but the fashion.

The Hotel Colorado is just amazing and when I go in I get a shiver.  The furniture is beautiful, the pictures are amazing….debutantes, Presidents, movie stars, but most of all my Gram is there to me.  I feel her presence there.   I had one experience where I even smelled my Gram, I kid you not.  My Gram always had this round bowl of body powder with a big fluffy powder puff in it to poof it on herself.  It smelled so good.  The smell of my Gram was a combination of that powder and the other Avon products she used.  Just a very certain smell, a smell that could never be duplicated.  I was coming through one of the side doors to the hotel many years ago.  I got the chills and the hair on my arms stood up.  That certain smell seemed to pass all the way through me and I knew it was Gram.  The hotel makes me  feel  peaceful.  I will walk there from the hotel where we stay in the early morning hours and have coffee in one of those big chairs.  I go alone before the others wake up.  I love it.  Ok, so now you get it.  The Hotel Colorado is a happy place for me within my other happy place, Glenwood Springs. 

Here is my proof that the race was no longer a race against other people in my mind.  I was alone.  I was actually really alone because I was so far behind the others, but I was alone in every sense of the word, except for God of course.  It was me and God that day.  So, why would God and I use a port-a-potty when we could go in the Hotel Colorado?  We wouldn’t.  My friends cannot believe it to this day, but that is where I went to use the restroom.  I strolled in too.  I was not in a hurry at all.  At this point none of that mattered.  I would finish the race, but needed this pit stop to get there.  It was the correct move.  I strolled in, yes I looked at a picture or two and got more feeling back in my legs, and strolled out.  I completed the walk.  I didn’t come out of my own head and re-enter the human zone until I hit the stretch where people used to be lined up cheering on their loved ones.   It still had people but they were all reunited and celebrating.  So many cheered me on.  Complete strangers were telling me I could do it and clapping.   It was really amazing.  I looked ahead and there were all of my friends, their spouses and kids, and Nick and Ben.  Nick was just a little guy and was yelling, “Yay, Mommy!! You did it, You did it!” Ben was grinning from ear to ear and yelling right alongside Nick.  “Cross the line, Erin, you did it!”  Wow.  I really did it.  I was second to last.  A very old person finished last.    I didn’t care one bit.  I did it.  God and I did it together.

Reality hit soon thereafter.  At first I couldn’t feel most of my body.  Literally, I was sort of numb.  That was only temporary.  Ow.  Oh ow.  We ate a lot of food, though I don’t remember what.  It was not Gatorade and trail mix.  It was more along the lines of a burger the size of my head.   We went to the pool.  I got into the hot pool and remember exactly where I sat.  It was there I could actually feel my muscles seizing.  Ow.  I was so sore for so long.  I tell my friends I am still sore from that day.  That was a beautiful and magical day.  I would not be able to do it now, even if a stupid doctor told me I couldn’t.  I don’t care because I did it.  Once is good.  That’ll due.  

The connection between the tragedy in the world right now and the race is the prayer. 

 “Please help me finish this.  I really, really don’t want to fall.  I will bleed a lot and it will really hurt.  Please help me get a drink, God.  I need a drink so badly.  I don’t want to have to leave in an ambulance.  God, ummmmm God?  Are you hearing me?  I just need to know I can do this.  I need to know I can.  I don’t care if I come in dead last, just help me finish.”

The prayer applies to both things.  The prayer has applied to so many much harder things that I have faced in life since that race.  The battle of health, of daily living, financial woes, being a parent, seeing my beautiful child suffer and struggle,  watching your own parents enter the final stages of life are all things where this prayer applies.  Don’t we all just know that there are times that it is in God’s hands and there really isn’t a lot we can do.  We can’t just give up and not keep trying and just get sucked in though.  

I know that I have to keep being good and doing things that are productive and right.  I need to be good and kind and try.  God is here too.  He always is.  He is even MORE there in tough times, though sometimes we forget to lean on Him.  Sometimes we have to fall.  Sometimes the answer to the prayer has to include the falling and God can see that.  We cannot.  We must continue to do what is right until we see the answer before us.  I wish the world wasn’t so ugly right now.  All of the needless killing and pain is so horrible to see and hear about that I just don’t want to listen or watch one more minute.  We have to listen and continue to be good and kind.  If we stop listening, if we stop watching, might we lose our empathy?  Will no one help?  If I stopped watching, would I stop praying for these people?  Ignorance is not bliss.  The world would be even more violent.   We have to listen and continue to be good and kind and help.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.  I was inspecting a day care center and my son was in preschool across town.  I couldn’t get out of that center fast enough.  The staff and I had been glued to the TV.  I cried the whole way across town, went straight to preschool and picked Nick up.  I held him so tight and brought him home.  I fell to my knees that day in grief.  I had never seen anything like this.  I remember vividly seeing the  people jumping out of windows.  I remember grieving for the  parents with children unaccounted for.  I slept with Nick that night.  I thanked God for him and for us being together.  I swear I never wanted to leave his side.  I think we all felt that way about our loved ones.  What a horrible, horrible, horrible day.  It felt like my guts had literally been ripped out.   

Personally, I will do the things in my control to make me a better person.  What I put in, I get out.  I will start more days like this, with a smoothie and writing and prayer.  Maybe I will be up for a walk later.  I will be good and kind to the people I see and think about a way that I can help someone less fortunate.  I know there are many ways to help those that we do not see.  That is what I can do today.  Maybe tomorrow I will have a bigger revelation, but not today.  

The other day I was sitting in the car waiting for Laura to get out of school when “Imagine”, by John Lennon, came on the radio.  It was a day that had begun with the news of more death and crime.  I knew I was starting to pull out of my funk as the words hit me hard and sent me to my contemplative place.  It is a place in my mind where I write and pray.  I knew it would stir up a chapter, but did not know how until this very moment when I am realizing it is the perfect way to end this issue….


John LennonPlastic Ono Band

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...


Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...


You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


John Lennon



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