Friday, December 28, 2018

Closing out 2018

As another year ends, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the little moments that made this year spectacular. You know, take some time to remember the happy or best events that shaped this year. To express gratitude, which as you know can actually make you happier.

Try it. Take 30 minutes or more and think of the times that put a smile on your face this year. The times that gave you joy. Try for 5 moments and believe it or not, I bet you even more will start popping into your head.

Write them down. Share here or share with a friend or a loved one over a beer or your favorite hot chocolate, or pizza. See what they come up with.

Here is my list. Believe me there are more, but I had to stop. Hope it works for you and it makes you smile and feel good about the close of 2018.
Grandma at rehab.
Some of my best moments this year revolved around my beautiful, strong, 94-year young grandmother. My grandmother got sick this year and was in the hospital for several weeks. Well, if you knew Maxine (AKA Mad Max as my father likes to refer to her), you’d know she is one tough cookie. She survived the incident, thank goodness and I have pictures of her smiling to prove it.

Grandma with my hat she made.

 
 
 
Grandma made some of the crocheted hats we donated to the homeless Veterans this year. She even made a hat for me. When I got bronchitis in late October grandma called me to check on my health and to tell me I should go stay with her, so she could take care of me. Such wonderful love and spirit this woman, the heart of our family has to give.
The quilt my mom made.
My mother, who battles cancer every day, the daughter of the grandmother I just mentioned is a fighter and the craftiest person I know. She may not do as much as she used to, but when she does, whatever she makes is beautiful. Mom made the cards for our homeless Veterans backpacks. My Christmas gift this year was a quilt made by my mom, Mary. I adore anything handmade/homemade and she knows that what she makes will be treasured.

Dad and I doing a 5K together.
Dad, AKA Pops, is the smartest person I know with the most common sense and the biggest heart. He takes care of everyone in this family, no matter how close or how far. But we all worried when he had to go in for a hip replacement earlier this year. He survived it and he was right back to playing golf the same day the doctor gave him the all clear. Not kidding. He booked the tee time before he went for his last follow up visit. He was not going to be stopped. I get my outdoors and activity mode from my father, Keith. Along with my tenacity.
My nephew and me.

I had a terrific time when my youngest nephew, Brandon came to visit and share his 20th birthday with me. I mean, seriously, how many aunts are lucky enough to have a niece or nephew want to spend a long weekend with them? Me! I enjoyed every minute and I hope Brandon brings his contagious smile, blue eyes, red hair, and his amazing personality back to visit again SOON.

Even though I am so far away from all of my family I hope they know how much joy they bring into my life.
Tough Ruck 2018


This year I had some huge accomplishments in my running/walking. I did my first marathon ruck this year. Twenty-six point two miles with a 22-pound backpack. Talk about tough, but the reward was time spent talking with many active military, retired military, and first responders. Oh, and the embarrassing part of tripping over the finish line. THAT, I will never forget. And the hot fudge sundae as a reward for my efforts. I had so much fun and supported such a fantastic cause - Military Friends Foundation that I am doing it again this year. If you’d like to help me support the Military Friends Foundation, which helps military and first responder families you can donate here: https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/tough-ruck-for-the-fallen-2019


Me and my support crew.
What brought me to happy tears this year was FINALLY reaching 100 miles in an ultra-event. Actually, it was 101 miles of cold, rain, heat, sweat, and blisters (my nemesis). What made it all the sweeter was not the buckle I received (although that was very cool!) it was having my good friend Renee there to share it with me. She not only walked with me off and on, but she was my support crew. She pulled me out of my funk when I hit bottom, went and got us real food when we could eat no more junk, and suffered through sleeping in the back of my SUV for two nights. How many friends do you know would do that? Heck, I can’t get most my friends to even go to a run and see what I love about ultras. If they only knew what they were missing…
Renee bucket list.


This year Renee and I also did a run from her bucket list – the Marine Corps Marathon. That is by far the best marathon and I know I enjoyed running it with a good friend, the sightseeing we did before and after the event, and just the general good time. Of course getting that medal put over my head by a Marine - there’s a lot of happy tears involved in running, but none more than when you do it with a friend. 😊


Operation Stuffit with family
What brings me much joy and happiness is giving back. This year I saved so I could spend every weekend gathering backpacks and supplies for our local homeless Veterans. I wish this was something that did not need to be done, but it is an honor and a privilege and a way for me to say thank you to the men and women who do so much for us. The culmination of this effort happened on a Saturday evening where I spent four hours with my neighbors and friends who are more like family to me; listening to Christmas music and stuffing the backpacks with care and love in what I refer to as Operation Stuffit. Thank you, Kenny, Donna, Jay, and Lynn not only for your help, but for your friendship and unwavering support.
Speaking of good friends. WOW! Right before Christmas I got to speak with a couple of longtime friends. I’m talking people I have known and loved since high school. I literally sat in my car for 90 minutes talking with Maurine and Duane who I haven’t spoken by phone or seen in years. Amazing how time slips away even after all these years and you realize how much you still have to talk about and how much these people meant to you back then and how much they helped shape who you are today.

I could go on. Like all the text messages my aunt Sheri and sister, Jeanine share weekly. Drives my brother in law nuts when the phone dings repeatedly when we are on a roll, but the three of us have a good time keeping in touch and making sure we know what is happening in our lives. Sharing with each other. Sharing is caring, right?!
See! I told you once you started you would see there were many happy moments, little slices of heaven that occurred throughout the year. Times and events that that make you smile and make you grateful.
I hope you take the time to recognize just a few and take that warm feeling into the new year.

 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

4VETS4LIFE – help a disabled Veteran

As Veterans Day (November 11) approaches and we thank our Veterans for their service, another organization, 4VETS4LIFE is looking to help disabled Veterans in a big way and they need our help.

4VETS4LIFE  https://4vets4life.org/ has reached out to me in search of wounded Veterans to aid. I’m turning to you all to help get 4VETS4LIFE  https://4vets4life.org/ some names, to point a wounded Veteran you know in their direction.
Our mission: Identify wounded/disabled Veterans who need 4VETS4LIFE help. Pass this on!

4VETS4LIFE mission: Provide vital assistance and support to American wounded Veterans to help them overcome their injuries and re-establish themselves as successful productive members of society.
4VETS4LIFE is looking for TEN disabled Veterans to help. Each qualified Veteran will be awarded $100,000 toward making their future a reality, but they need our help.

Identify a disabled Veteran and 4VETS4LIFE aims to provide them with a home specially modified to meet their specific needs and help restore their personal dignity and provide a building block for their future. 4VETS4LIFE aids disabled Veterans with the essentials to rebuild their lives, including job training, education or building a business or a modified vehicle the disabled Veteran can operate themselves, or even providing a home designed to allow them to improve their lives, despite any disability.
If you know a disabled Veteran, please help him or her get to this link https://4vets4life.org/apply-now/ and apply to be a part of the 4VETS4LIFE program to hep them make their future brighter, to help make a dream come true.

There is no deadline, however, only TEN Veterans will be selected for each Program, with the selection of Veterans occurring prior to the start of each Program. The earlier a Veteran application is received, the more likely for that Veteran to be in an earlier Program and be awarded the $100,000 plus potentially a fully rehabilitated, mortgage free home modified to their specific needs.
Go! Help a Veteran and 4VETS4LIFE. Let's make a Veteran's future brighter.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Underwear wrong side out

You wake up in the morning and rush to get cleaned up, dressed and head out the door.  This is an every day occurrence. What happens next...not so every day.

You are sitting on the toilet with your underwear to your knees, no, not to the floor as that’s a guy habit. They drop their drawers to the floor. Any woman who has ever had to share a bathroom with a man knows…no way are we letting our panties touch the tile surrounding the toilet. It’s a result of knowing men have bad aim.

Anyway, you’re sitting there and getting ready to pull everything back up only to discover your underwear are on wrong side out. You have to do a double take. Really?

You’ve done this, right? I mean it happens to everyone. Not just me, right?
Is it a sign of things to come?

Oh, yes!
I fell off the ladder trying to put up the cable wire to the house that had been ripped off during one of the storms. No biggie, I have a tough backside with padding.

In my case it meant slicing my thumb while trying to strip the covering on some electrical wire. By the way, it still hurts.
It meant that even after shutting off the power to the outdoor lights I get electrocuted. Seriously, talk about shocked. I think I jumped fifty feet in the air and yelped. There’s no other word for it. I yelped. Note to self: the electrical box is not necessarily marked correctly.

All in the same day. The day my underwear were on wrong side out.
What happened to you on the day you wore your underwear wrong side out? Was it a sign? Was it a lucky day or unlucky day? Did you win the lottery or stub your toe?

Monday, July 2, 2018

THE STILETTO GANG: Writing What You Know ... Sort Of

THE STILETTO GANG: Writing What You Know ... Sort Of: By Guest Author Loretta Wheeler Thanks to Loretta for stepping up to fill my first Monday of the month spot. I'm away for most of Jul...

Monday, May 21, 2018

In search of 100 miles - 3 Days at the Fair

There’s a scene toward the end of the movie, Pretty Woman, where the character named Kit asks some other hooker, “Do you have a goal? Cuz you gotta have a goal.”

I’ve had a goal that I set for myself two years ago. I wanted to run/walk 100 miles.

Sound crazy? To many this sounds like a crazy goal. I mean why run when you can drive a car. That’s what most people say. One guy I met this weekend even said, “That’s crazy. I drive my golf cart to the mailbox.”

Is it crazy? Maybe.
Is it attainable? Absolutely.
Will it hurt? Like hell!

Is it worth it? Beyond anything you can imagine.

Months ago, I signed up for a race called 3 Days at the Fair 3 Days at the Fair. You have the option of choosing pretty much any time limit you want to run; from 12 hours to 144 hours. Yes, that’s SIX days. And people do it! I went with the 72 hours or 3-day version. You read that correctly.
This weekend, with my SUV packed to the gills with food, fluids, canopy, chairs, blankets, running gear and a close friend for support I set off to attack my goal at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ.

Our home for the next 72 hours.
We arrived at the fairgrounds at about 7:30 AM on Thursday where we parked our car for the next almost 72 hours and setup our campsite. One of many at what I call tent city.

We get all unpacked and ready and at 8 AM I check in. This year’s swag was a rain jacket. I’m thinking the race director knew something we didn’t when he had ordered the gear weeks ahead of the actual event. Hmm.

Start time is 9 AM on Thursday for the 72-hour runners.
We are off!

It was a little chilly in the morning but quickly warmed up to the point of stripping down to a t-shirt. The plan for day one was to go 10 miles before taking a break. On my first day I met several people that I would run into again and again over the next three days.


One of Linda's signs.
One of those people would be Linda ( a police officer who loved to push herself) whose tent was across from us and who made these fun signs to make us laugh and keep our spirits up.

Linda and I did a lot of miles together day one. At about midnight I stopped for the day at 32 miles. That’s 15 hours in to the race.

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but remember, we have a lot more one-mile loops on pavement to go.
I started out sleeping night one in a zero-gravity chair then got cold enough to crawl into the back of the SUV and sleep where my support crew and friend, Renee was sleeping. It wasn’t comfortable, but it’s not supposed to be.

Friday morning, I woke up, greased my feet with some Squirrels Nut Butter– yes, it’s a thing and you gotta love the name. I tugged on clean socks and a pair of running shoes and got to 40 miles before 9 AM.
My goal was 40 miles in first 24 hours and I did it. Yea me! It is amazing how a few hours of sleep can refresh and repair the body.
After hitting my goal, I took a shower. The fairgrounds had real bathrooms and showers. After a quick shower where I felt almost human again, I dressed and started day two. On this day, my friend Michele showed up for her 48-hour event. I met Michele at this event last year where I did my first 48-hour run and we kept in contact.

Dead man walking ultra.
New runners show up not with just with fresh legs but with fresh humor. How a runner feels after 50 miles...a skeleton of him or herself.

My goal for my next 24 hours was to hit 75 miles. Could I do it?
At about 6 PM on day two, Renee decided that we needed real food and she left on a mission to get chicken tenders for us and Michele. I did another five miles while Renee ran the errand.

I haven’t eaten chicken tender in years and I swear this was the best - EVER! Either that or I was starving for anything that wasn’t prepackaged.
I was hitting a low point on day two where I wanted to put my feet up longer and not move. Blisters started on my feet and they only got worse. This is the one thing that is the death of my running or walking long distance. Due to a kidney issue (so the doctor thinks), my body pushes all my fluids to my feet, so they swell and then I get blisters and a heat rash. It’s not pretty and hurts like you would not believe. But, I refused to give up.

I was out on my last loops for the evening when the crew of another runner offered me a warm chocolate cookie. Can I just say that it was the best cookie – EVER! Okay, maybe not, but it was the sentiment behind the cookie, the incentive of the cookie, and the lovely gesture that made it special and rewarding.
I got to 65 miles about midnight and hit the sack…or in this case the bedroll in the back of the SUV where Renee had gone and gotten blow up mats that float in the pool to make the back of the SUV a little less hard to lay on. I wasn't picky and I was passed out in five minutes.

Saturday morning dawned beautiful. I got up and hit mile 74 (5 miles more than last year when I did the 48-hour event) just before 9 AM. WOOT! I was shy of my goal by one mile in 48 hours, but I was doing well.
Is it weird that I'm grinning?
The rain set in after 9 AM. Told you the race director knew something in advance. The rain jacket swag came in very handy on Saturday where the weather went from gorgeous cool in morning to drizzle to downpours to drizzle to a break in the late afternoon where there was no rain.

Here’s the funny thing – I love running in the rain. My body loves the rain. It’s cool and refreshing. On what was now my official start of day three I was moving really well in the rain. I took a break every 4 miles to change my socks and shoes out for dry ones. I was running more with the rain than without the rain. And this was after 48 hours. I felt fantastic!
Beware – what goes up, must come down.

How does one dry out shoes and socks during an ultra-running festival? Place the socks and shoes on the floor board of the car and turn the heat up full blast. I was tossing hats, mittens, even jackets down there to dry out and get them warm.
Then the rain stopped. When the rain ceased my feet got irritated again. They were not happy. I was not happy. I probably had more blisters during the rain, but my feet didn’t feel them. Maybe because my feet were wet and numb.

Because I was doing so well we were very excited and all Renee could think about was sleeping in a hotel. I wanted to get done so she could have a warm, comfortable bed. I mean how do you thank a person who blew off her anniversary weekend with her husband, drove 7 hours, and spent the last 48 hours waiting on me, supporting me, doing a lap or two with me.
I pushed myself, so she would have a bed.

Every 4 miles I was taking only 20-minute breaks instead of the 30 to 45 minutes I had planned and that was working the two previous days. I may have pushed a little too much. By late afternoon I hit another downturn. My feet were on fire. Legs felt great, body was doing awesome, but feet screamed, “STOP! STOP!”
I passed our tent and Renee instinctively knew I was not myself. Renee, being the amazing friend she is, tossed on her running shoes and a rain jacket and went in search of me on the course. She found me and did a mile with me until I hit my next break time.

By 8 PM I was mad. Mad at myself for changing the plan. Mad at myself for being mad. Mad because my feet refused to cooperate and because every step was like walking across hot coals and needles all at the same time. TORTURE.
I was no longer capable of running or walking. I was shuffling. For the last 13 miles (that’s a half marathon) I shuffled my way across the black pavement trying to just do 3 mile stretches before taking a break. Almost sixty hours into this event and all I wanted was to sit down in the middle of the road to hell and not get up. I wanted to curl up into a little ball and go to sleep. I was sleep walking anyway so why not.

As a matter of fact I did sit down in the middle of the pavement. But it was to put my socks back on that I had taken off hoping for some relief. Didn't work. As I'm sitting on the wet, cold pavement lacing my shoes up, a car coming from a wedding that took place at the event headed straight for me.

I held up my arms and three other runners who were coming saw the car and made sure they avoided me. Thanks, guys!


Flowers of encouragement.
Every lap there were people out there cheering us on. Offering words and even flowers of encouragement, of support and awe. That was great, but it could not cut into the haze of pain.
With 10 miles left I took a break, changed into what I thought would be my last shoe change and headed off.

Renee, with the help of the people next to us who were there crewing for a 24-hour runner had packed up the car. She was ready, and I was dragging.

Just when you think it can’t get worse; it can!
I wanted to sit, put my face in my hands and weep. Oh, yes, there were tears. You just couldn’t see them because of the drizzle.

Was I nuts? Why did I think I could do this? I will NEVER try this again.



Every time I passed the turn to the pallet bridge over a puddle and I had to lift my legs I cringed and wanted to yell and hit someone, anyone –most of all myself.

In my 97th mile I text Renee and said I would need another pair of shoes when I got there. I felt bad because she had everything packed, but my feet needed a fresh pair of shoes if I was going to finish this beast.

I changed and slowly (Picture a large turtle trudging uphill through wet sand - that kind of slow) started off for my last 3 miles telling Renee I would text her when I completed mile 100 so she could do the last mile with me.

I don’t know how long it took, but it felt like forever; kinda like swimming through molasses before I completed mile 100.
When I FINALLY reached mile 100, a first for me, I texted Renee and got no answer. When I reached our tent area she was unpacking the car. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Was it a mirage?
I think my mind went berserk right then and there.
I wasn't focusing on the fact that I had reached an amazing goal. I had hit 100 miles on foot. As a matter of fact every mile past mile 69 was a new adventure, a new accomplishment.
I should have been celebrating that suckfest!
Instead, I was thinking what the hell was Renee doing? She wanted a bed. I wanted sleep. Why was she unpacking? When Renee reached me, she informed me that she had called 20 hotels and there wasn’t a room anywhere near.

Apparently everyone was getting married the same weekend as Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

Was she kidding me? No room? Anywhere?
No way were we not getting a bed in a hotel. No way was I not getting to sleep - SOON.

As we started the last mile I was on the phone to Hilton reservation number getting us a hotel room. Brenda, the agent was fabulous. I asked her not to laugh and told her I was finishing my hundred mile run and needed a hotel room with a bed, could she please find me one. She did!
Now remember, I am in the middle of a race with nothing on me but thank goodness I do have a credit card memorized. We had to drive 50 miles, but Brenda hooked us up.
Funny thing about this phone call – it took my mind off the pain. We were in the last quarter mile when I hung up and I didn’t feel every step. Pain no longer shot through me with every shuffle.
Moral of this interlude - Do NOT mess with a runner who just spent sixty plus hours trying to reach a goal, who wants to fall to her knees where she stands and go to sleep.
At 11:07 PM on Saturday I crossed the finish line for 101 miles. That’s sixty-two hours into a 72-hour event. GOAL! Ten hours ahead of schedule!!

Mile 101!!!
Renee took the finish line photo and then we hugged. Tears rolled down both our faces as the enormity of the accomplishment set in. I did it! We did it!

Then I read a text from a friend of mine who sent me a message before I finished as he wanted to be the first person to congratulate me. More tears!
I hurt so bad but felt so amazing.

I may not be fast, but I have heart. And it’s the heart that keeps us going. There’s a quote by Dean Karnazes, “Run if you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must, just never give up.” I’d say Mr. Karnazes hit the nail on the head.
I never gave up.

At no time did it ever cross my mind to quit. To take a longer break – YES. To sleep – YES. To call it quits and give up altogether – NOT AT ALL!
Could I have gone more? Maybe. I wouldn’t have wanted to that night, but the next morning, I probably could have gotten in more miles if the hotel hadn’t been so far away.

I guess we will see the next time. 😊

Are ultra runners crazy? I don’t think so. They are a community of people, friends and strangers, out to push their limits and support others in their own attempts and accomplishments.
This weekend I had the pleasure of sharing the blacktop trail with hundreds of runners who all set out with various goals; most of which were accomplished through shear guts and determination as well as support from friends and strangers.
Sometimes you’d be running by yourself, but you were never alone. Sometimes you would run or walk in groups and the camaraderie would boost you up.

It didn’t matter that you arrived not knowing a sole person. By the time you left, you were all family.
101 mile buckle and 100 mile lifetime coin.
This was demonstrated over many hours, but even more during the awards ceremony. Many cheers, hoots of joy, handshaking, and picture taking. All while wearing sandals and pajama bottoms.
Everyone was happy for everyone!
Renee and I day two.
To my friend Renee, thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving up your time to spend a weekend in heat and rain, in daylight and darkness, during highs and lows. You were the reason I reached my goal ten hours ahead of schedule!

Happy Anniversary!

Tell Mike I said thank you for sharing you with me this weekend. I owe him.

To my new runner friends, I met at 3 Days at the Fair; You all are amazing, and I thank you for your time, your wisdom, your humor, and your camaraderie. That alone was worth the price of admission. Congratulations on your many achievements!

To the family and friends of all the runners; Thank you. Thank you for the warm cookie, the pep talk, the hoots and hollers, the offer of a cold beer. Without all of you, none of us would succeed.

3 Days at the Fair Race Director
and me looking oh so fabulous - right!
To the race directors; Thank you for an unbelievable opportunity to meet so many wonderful runners and new friends and for the path to a new accomplishment.
Will I do this again? Funny you should ask. The other night when I was at my lowest I said I was finished.
"One and done! NEVER again!"
The mind is a tricky thing. You know what they say. Never say never.
Two days later and I’m thinking, “Hell, yeah! I want to do it again.”
Why do I want to do this? Why do I like endurance runs?
It’s a good question that I’m not sure I have the answer to. The answer is probably different for everyone.

There’s a sense of community that comes from ultras and ultra runners that you can’t get from a 5K event or even a running group or maybe anything.
It’s the knowledge that you are pushing yourself to a new limit, to an edge of something that you have never done before and that not everyone would even attempt to do. It’s not just reaching the goal, but the ability to dig deep, very deep, to pull yourself from the pain and keep moving. You reach an awareness of your body and an inner peace in your mind.
You’re not reaching for a finish line, you’re experiencing life and all it’s challenges in every step along the way and it’s how you grow from that pain, those challenges. Embracing the suck and coming out better for it.
I’m not sure that’s an answer, but I can tell you this; My mind and body (all except my feet) are already clambering for the next adventure.

That’s truly what an ultra run is; an adventure that leads you to growth, awareness, and a peace that cannot be put into words.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Unexpected Flowers

Don't you just love flowers?

I do!

I love the colors, the shapes, the smile that crosses your lips when you see them. I love my garden and I love planting more and more flowers every year. Yes, it's kind of an obsessive-compulsive thing.

What's even better is receiving flowers from a friend. The other day I was waiting for a girlfriend so we could drive together to run the Fat Tuesday 5K. When she showed up she surprised me with not a dozen tulips, but three dozen tulips. Gorgeous!

For the record, I love tulips!! They are just such happy flowers. I love how they sleep at night and open up during the day. They look like they are smiling, which makes me smile.

The fact that these flowers were a huge surprise from a great friend made my day. And the tulips were pink. My favorite color!

Don't you just love good surprises?

The unexpected is what makes life interesting. Don't ya think?

Grateful for my friend for being a part of my life and for bringing a smile to my lips.

I hope you all have wonderful friends in your life. Hope you not only appreciate a terrific surprise but you do the surprising.

Have a terrific day and may the unexpected be positive!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Laughter is good medicine

They say laughter is the best medicine. How can you disagree?

The benefits of laughing are all-around fantastic! Laughing has a relaxing effect. In this day of stress as the norm, relaxation is something we should seek.

Laughing boosts your energy, boosts immunity, decreases muscle tension and pain, and helps prevent heart disease.

I did it!
When you are sitting around drinking your coffee with coconut oil and you watch your skinny cat hop in a box and I swear practically bounce back out again you have to laugh.

When Mayhem's chubby brother tries to crawl in the box (because his backside is to chunky to jump) and the box keeps sliding across the floor you MUST laugh. Mischief did make it into the box but I could not stop laughing. He is so dang cute and was so determined. What is it about cats and boxes?

What was funnier was watching Mischief try to turn around inside the small box. He did it!

His brother, Mayhem cracks me up. I was eating chicken for lunch the other day and of course he wants to eat some. I sit a piece on the counter for him and the entertainment ensues. Check out these photos of him getting the piece of chicken off the counter.

Oh! I spy chicken.
Come here, chicken!



Success!
Together these two brothers, Mischief and Mayhem keep me laughing and entertained on a daily basis. Look at those faces! I am blessed with these two troublemakers.
 

 
Where does your daily does of humor come from?
 
 
 
 

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