Sunday, August 31, 2014

Imperfection


An old friend lived by the quote: 'Try again, fail again, fail better.' I like it! My sister and I were working on my nephew's tree house this morning, before I made the trek back to Ohio. She got to experience with me, what my friend Sue puts up with when I help her with house projects, failure the first time, success the third time... The beauty of the process is, once you figure out your mistake the first time, the second time it is much easier. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the second time.

I got home to Ohio, and was smacked in the face with incompetence and a bored cat. My cat is currently laying across my back, holding me down, so I have to lay here while typing. I'm OK with that... But I am practicing extreme patience at this fine hour of 10:44 pm, Sunday evening. I've never been so glad that I have the day after vacation off from work.

Tomorrow, I plan to try again. Many things went wrong today, but many things went right too.

For instance, my nephew has a sunroof on his tree house, and walls! How about that! I also got home without a speeding ticket, my cat is happy to see me (and I was happy to see her too, until about 30 minutes ago). The imperfections of my day, are what made my day perfect... The failed swing set project that I thought about for half my drive back to Ohio, the chewed up cord, and incompetence are all little gifts that are reminding me that patience and perseverance always wins.

So, I think I'm going to treat myself to some new running shoes and take them out for a spin because I'm convinced that my imperfect running style is is going to be as peaceful as it was to look at the completed walls and roof of my nephew's tree house, with the imperfect swing-set remaining there to remind me of life's little lessons on patience.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Different Kind of Blog

With my awesome MS supporters at Pedal to the Point, a ride of BikeMS. 
I am an eternal optimist, and 90% happy. We all have moments of sadness, and some of us even bouts of depression; how you deal with your situation defines you as a person, in my opinion. One of the saddest things I have seen over the past year, since I have been diagnosed with MS is how people deal with this disease. I by no means have any right to judge another person's journey, but I can reflect on other peoples' journey and decide whether I want to apply some of their lessons, wisdom, statements, etc. to me.

One of my friends listened to me cry for about two hours last night. You see, I am a runner and it was too hot to run. What I didn't tell my friend is that I had significant physical challenges throughout the day, and didn't have any business running last night anyway. But the tears were all influenced by things that really don't matter when all is said and done! Or do they? I mean I cried about them...

In having this conversation with my friend, I talked to her about how frustrating it has been for me to participate in on-line support groups for Multiple Sclerosis and I see language that I perceive as so negative. You see, I am not a victim, and I don't believe that I am sick or that my life is any worse or better than anyone else's life, but I do know that my attitude carries me through every moment!

The things that triggered this conversation were two statements that I have read in recent months:

1) I have seen several people with MS state they are sick. I also had one person say to me "I'm sorry you are sick." Saying that MS = Sick has really challenged my brain. I honestly don't view people who have MS as sick people. I certainly know that we have different levels of progression that challenge us, but for me to say I am sick is almost like saying an amputee or a person born with a physical impairment is sick. Just something to ponder. I will unlikely say I am sick unless I have the flu, or some cold, or a terminal illness.

2) Another thing that has really challenged my brain, is my ability to immediately blame things on MS. I have thankfully gotten away from this, unless I'm joking with my good friend about my memory (I have a mind of a steel trap is what she says), but I steer clear of blaming MS for my regular life. The sad reality is that I have been a 'victim' of loss and clumsiness since I came out of the womb. Perhaps there is a medical reason for this, but I didn't have a medical reason losing my keys and cell phone all the time since I began to drive and got a cell phone, until last year? Not likely!!! Unless something truly impacts the function that I am used to today, or even a year ago, suddenly, I simply need to accept it as me being me. There is however a very fine line of knowing when to get help when you have MS. For instance, when I lost my vision in my right eye last year? It was totally appropriate for seeking out help. When I fell off my bike because I didn't unclip my shoes from my bike pedals? I would call that pure accident.

Basically, my thoughts have been challenged, and I see some of this language and blaming as a barrier to my own recognition of my strengths, and I seek out positive outlets ALL over the place for my mental meandering with MS. Aside from one of my favorite bloggers, Dave, over at ActiveMSers, I have not found what I am looking for, and my friend challenged me to change that. Now, she didn't tell me to go and start a blog, but since I already blog, I figured it was a natural fit.

What do I plan to get out of this blog? I plan to express my positive opinions about MS and how it can/has been a blessing in people's lives. I'm going to talk about my journey and struggles. I believe, with every struggle, comes enormous life lessons that can positively impact a person's life. I want to share some of my less private stories (some things are left between me and the world, or the person I shared the time with), and share with people my journey, because although having MS has impacted and will continue to impact my life, the strength I have gained from this little diagnosis has been a gift.

What do I want you to get out of this blog? Well, whatever you want. I'm doing this for me, but my hope is people will find some positive energy as they are struggling with their diagnosis of MS. Oh, and my friends can laugh at my story telling a little more1

Come along for the ride. In the beginning I will commit to a post every other week, and see how that goes! Share your thoughts, your interests, your stories! In life we only have eachother to learn from...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Journey

These moments, make every journey worth it!
Have you ever had a moment in which you overreacted, and when you reflect on it, you realize it is triggered by something that happened years ago, but in the moment of your overreaction you take it out on the WRONG person? Yeah, I had one of those moments today, and man did it drive me all sorts of crazy.

When I start reflecting on my new goal events, right now it is Glass City Half Marathon, I wonder how in god's name am I going to be able to run 13.1 miles again? It is interesting that, right now, my mind reverts to those runs that have challenged my core recently, but not to the finish line of the marathon I ran, or the half iron man I participated in. This is something I need to work on.

The reality is, every time you create a goal for yourself, there are different factors that will likely influence the
outcome, whether you want to admit it or not. Reflecting on the fact that I completed a full marathon may not even be appropriate because my circumstances have significantly changed. With the Glass City Half Marathon, I have already started planning my time goal. That is not normal for me, because quite frankly, finishing any event I register for is the most important. I have had my share of DNSs and DNFs, and I know this won't be one of them, but it is still an interesting to consider the start line of that race.

Here's the thing... I preach that every day we have a choice, and that choice is ours. Do we choose to look at the tough moments and have them define our attitude? In this instance, should I really look at the tough 2 mile runs as of late, and make a determination that that start line is impossible? Or do we let our attitude define the tough moments, and with this race, recognize that I can do anything I put my mind to, except when I can't because of REAL limitations? I strive to be the person who lets my attitude run my life, and I choose a positive attitude, but I'm human. Sometimes life simply doesn't follow a straight line, and we lose sight of what is important. Again, do we let that define us? Or do we make an effort to do better next time we are faced with an unexpected turn. Today was a day that I almost let that turn impact my every move for the rest of the day. Luckily, I have a good friend who knows how to straighten me out, but not until I declared why I WAS RIGHT!!!!!! Was that conversation even necessary? Probably not from the periphery, but had I not had the conversation, I would likely not have recognized why I had the initial reaction I had.

At the end of our bike ride today, my ever loving, caring, important and fearless cycling partner and friend told me that she enjoyed the ride, at which point I responded, so did I. Although I struggled with an interaction with a stranger on the trail, I didn't let it ruin the memory of the bike ride.

I am going to learn from all of this. Two weeks ago I rode 175 miles in two days, and that was huge. Today I rode almost 30 miles, and that was huge. Last year I did a half iron man, and that was huge. Today I finished helping my friend hang a door, that neither of us thought we could do, and that was huge. Next spring I am going to run a half marathon, and that will be huge. Why are all of these things huge, when it appears one thing might be bigger than the other? Because my attitude will allow me to love an appreciate EVERY big and small part of the journey, and because the circumstances that influence this journey will be different than the circumstances that defined all the other journeys.

And so I leave you with a song from, who else? Journey. One of my favorites, that I belted out in the car today, for all passengers to appreciate!!! (You likely can not watch this video on a mobile device)


Monday, August 11, 2014

P2P Pictures

I'm still processing the Pedal 2 the Point ride. I honestly still can't believe we did that ride. It is surreal that so many people came together to ride with me. All of my siblings, two of their spouses, one of their uncles and two friends made the trek to Ohio. I have story after story from the weekend, but I have no way to adequately share the stories...

Quite honestly, I lived in fear of doing a big bike ride like this. I've always wanted to do a ride like this, but never had the right motivation. Overnight rides take so much training and willingness to sleep in an odd place between days. Also, the people you spend the days with is extremely important. It is like traveling. There are VERY few people who I would travel with, and this crowd is certainly on my travel list forever now.

Rather than tell the stories that I hold so dear, I have put together one memory that I want to keep with me, along with a picture of two of each person I rode with. These brief notes from each person will likely not mean much to many readers here, but they mean a heck of a lot to me.

As scared as I was of this bike ride, I'm glad I took the chance, had I not taken the chance I would never have known I could do it. This once again was a moment in which I learned that I should attack every challenge that I am faced with. Will I always succeed? Nope, but darn it, the journey will always be worth it!!!

Here is a picture journal of sorts, pictures don't always match the captions, but are memories from the person in the picture, that couldn't necessary be captured in a photo:

Tina - You mean blood should be flowing there while you are riding your bike? Said on day 2 of the ride when we adjusted the bike seat. 


Janell - She said, Don't forget my cell phone. You (Christina) and Sarah are the most forgetful and I am trusting BOTH of you to remember my phone








Meredith -  Escaping the corn in the middle of nowhere!

My Momma - The best medicine carrier, cheerleader a team could ask for.



Christina - Walking out of the bathroom to a stranger in the room. Oh yeah, and she only had on her swimsuit and towel.

Bernie - He said, Meredith isn't ready to go... While she is waiting to leave the room and he is laying in bed.

RJ - The garbage bag fashion show on our 100 mile day!

John - 6:30??? It doesn't start until 8:00??? AND, be nice to him, get his phone number and we will call his wife at 3 in the morning for a week straight.





Sue - The selfie that made me wipe out and ice cream cheers.

David - I only ate 7 yesterday, when asked how many HoHo's he ate the day before. 


The Raincoats!

The 100 milers... Missing two arms though




The Selfie





Monday, August 4, 2014

My Paleton

Paleton: The main body of riders in a bicycle race.

My Paleton
OK, OK, so this wasn't a race, but a ride, and we weren't the main riders, but my team were MY main riders for the weekend...

So you have been reading about it for months now... That is right, Pedal to the Point finally happened this weekend. I was a little nervous and wondered if I would be able to finish 175 miles... I trained, and trained some more, and made plans, and trained again, and slept, and worked, and trained, and emailed my team mates about the weekend, and then continued training. I had big expectations for the weekend which can be tremendously dangerous, but you know what? All expectations were enormously exceeded.

I'm sure you want to hear about my weekend, but I'm afraid this will not even come close to a good reflection of our adventure but hopefully you get the idea.

The weekend started on Wednesday for some, Thursday for others and Friday for the remainder of the team. We all met up on Friday evening for our pre-race meal where we talked about our plans for meeting at 6:30 on Saturday morning to head out for the ride. We checked the weather and went to bed knowing that there was a 50% chance of NO rain on Saturday (the cup was half full). We also figured out who was going to ride the 100 and who was going to ride the 75 on Saturday.

We met on Saturday and off we went, splitting off after the first rest stop on our journey for the 100 or 75 miles respectively. Meredith, RJ, John, Sue and I headed out for the 100, while everyone else went for the 75. I heard the 75 mile riders were pelted with rain for half the day, while the other five of us were only pelted by rain drops that felt like hail for 6 miles. There were hills that were so challenging many folks were walking their bikes, and downhills that got us up to 35 miles per hour and HoHo's everywhere.

We got to the High School in Sandusky, the skies had cleared and half of us pitched out tents, while the other half headed to hotels. We ate pasta and then some appetizers, and went to bed knowing we would get to relive our experience the next day with 90% chance of NO rain. Us campers were kept awake by some birds, trains and volunteers who decided to bring their kids camping, and who were extremely loud... And if we knew who the mother was of the daughter, we would have all taken the opportunity to call her at 3 in the morning for a week straight to let her know that her kid was up REALLY late, but unfortunately, we never got his phone number.

We went out for day number 2, talking about what parts of our bodies were sore. Luckily, I was in good shape but others had pains in unmentionable areas that should never feel pain!!! We rode for about 20 miles when the 10% chance of rain decided to sprinkle on us, but this time it was refreshing. It only lasted for a few miles and no one really had a bad thing to say about it. We ate more HoHos and drank more Gatorade, and ate more grapes.

We then encountered the hill... This wasn't just a hill, but more like a mountain in the middle of Ohio!!! Well, at least that is what it felt like at the 173 mile mark of the 175 mile ride. There were volunteers standing in the middle of the hill letting us know that we were only 1.5 miles til the end. I said it was a cruel joke, but it was amazing. I made it up the hill!!! One of my team mates told a story about how her bike just decided to stop half way up the hill, but we all made it up to tell our own version of the tale.

My team mates who were all much faster riders than myself were there at the end to ride in the final mile of the ride with me. They stuck by my side and we all crossed the finish line together. It was a breathtaking moment for me. Why? Because these are the people who crowded around me and not only threw their support in my direction, but also took a journey with me that is worth a thousand years and a million memories.

I know this isn't the best write up of an event, but I couldn't even begin to tell you the stories that made this a weekend that will be in my memories forever. Sure, there were trash bags, hohos, stories about bodily functions, falls, corn fields, camping stories, commando discussions, and so on and so forth, BUT the most amazing part of the weekend was getting to spend it with my own personal paleton!!!

Thank you Mom and Cathy for being there to support us along the way. Thank you Meredith, Bernie, David, Janell, Christina, John, Tina, RJ and Sue!!! To 2016, when we are back for another MS 150 (or 175)...