Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Great Escape

I have some friends who are data people. I get it, but I don't thrive on it. Over the past several weeks, maybe even month, I have been running and cycling sans a gps device. I have absolutely no clue how many miles have been logged, although I could figure it out if I wanted to. The thing is, it has been nice. 

I'm sure you have all had a bad day. What is the first thing you do when you have a bad day? My guess is you do exactly what I do... Wish it away. Thing is, you can't wish away a bad day, you have to get through it and NOT over it. The best way to cope with anything is to face it head on. Well sometimes an escape is just as nice.

So how do these two topics merge together? Well, my friend and I were talking about all of the runners in this world and why they run. I stated that they are escaping. I do want to mention that there is a VERY big difference between 'running from' and 'escaping'. By escaping, I really mean taking a break. Running from is trying to get away from something hoping to never look back. 

I think there are two types of people/runners; those that run away from, and those that escape. 

When I am tied to data, I am more likely running away from something. When I finish a run with all of my data in hand (mind you, if I were training right now, there likely would be data mining going on) I immediately analyze and focus on the next run, never allowing myself to focus on what might still need attention pre-run. 

Well, since I have let go of needing the data, and gone back to running for the sake of running, I have been able to use running as a momentary escape that then allows me to just be while the world swirls around me. It gives me the strength, the willingness to face what I need to deal with when I reemerge from those moments of escape. What kind of runner are you?

Here is a very good video of a favorite song... Check it out, although if you are on a mobile device, you likely won't be able to view it here, instead YouTube, Great Escape by Patrick Watson...


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Power of We

My team of WE (not including my parents)
Today was an interesting day. I went into it begrudgingly because I had to do something I didn't wan
t to do, but I gave myself an attitude adjustment on the way, which gave me permission to take a step back to learn something new.

There are so many thoughts and discoveries to process from today, but I'm going to focus on the one thing that is freshest on the mind at this ripe hour of 10:00 pm. I should first mention that this discovery came while watching the last two episodes of Parenthood this evening at my friend's house. TV is one of those phenomenons in life that has increasingly taken over simple evening chatter with friends, that perhaps used to be focused on the happenings of the day. Call this escapism, or what you will, but know that sometimes the biggest lessons come from those escapes.

If you have been following along this blog for the past couple of weeks, you likely know that I am in my month of no MS. I have been 90% successful, but the reality is, I'm learning that I will never get a 100% free month because there are doctor appointments that need to be scheduled, shots that need to be remembered AND taken, and medicine that needs to be picked up from the pharmacy, just to name a few realities. However, on the obsessing front, I've been pretty good. I've only made a couple of jokes and my friend here in cbus has given me permission to talk when she can see that I am having an internal struggle that necessitates a few sentence rant.

Anyway, back to Parenthood... If you watch the show, you know about the family's supportive nature, but what you also get to see is how people can all react differently to the same situation. One of the most recent struggles on the show involves the dad needing heart surgery and all of the children have different struggles with the potential loss of their father, but what really impacted me was the interaction between the father and his daughter-in-law. Zeek (dad) and the daughter in law both have experienced significant health crisis throughout the course of the show. Tonight they bonded over the fact that they couldn't stand how their supporters would say WE will get through this, WE will figure this out, WE so on and so forth. This discussion was very interesting because I oddly find comfort in the exact opposite, and can certainly appreciate why the supporters are compelled to use the word we when addressing the issue of a health problem.

The fact of the matter is I know that I can use all the support I can get, and when someone says WE when talking about one of my problems, it makes me feel less of the weight. I, in fact, love when people say 'we' and thrive on knowing they are there. For example, I know I will never have to face a brain doctor appointment alone because 'we' will go and take in all the information, and 'we' will process that information in a positive way. I also know that 'we' will deal with the emotional challenges, and 'we' will figure out the finances, and 'we' will find a treatment that will work for the side effects. This is a true testement to my friends and family. They give me the gift of WE every time they use the term.

For those of you who may be out there struggling with people saying we when you are the person who has to physically and emotionally deal with a chronic disease, I want to remind you of something very important. People may be saying 'we' so that you don't feel alone, but more importantly, the people who are by your side are also struggling and may be having an emotional reaction. Because we are in the situation together, albeit from different positions in the doctor's office, if we are lucky, we are surrounded by people who are willing to take on the new information with us. Embrace the WE and let people lift you up with their love in the way they know how, and guide them to enhance that support by teaching them what you might need.

Afterall, WE are lucky to have the love and support, and that is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from MS.

Next week, watch out for another post about my discoveries from today!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

VolunCHEER!!!

Whoops, missed a week...

When I went up to Canada to run the Niagara Falls Woman's Half Marathon, I was embarking on a whole new experience. It included crossing a border, eating out all meals for several days before the race, the metric system on the course, and the most robust race packet I have ever seen.

Here's the funny story that has never been told. All the volunteer shirts said voluncheer. I thought it
Remember this finisher's photo?
was one of two things: a) the screen printers screwed up, or; b) the Canadians had some weird way of saying volunteer. I mean either could have been possible, right? Well, I believe it was while we were running this lovely half marathon that I finally asked Sue if that spelling was french or something, because it occupied my brain so much that I needed to know!!! She then, so kindly (or not), laughed and told me it said volunCHEER!!! It was a play on words, who knew?

Fast forward to this October, and I saw the 2014 Columbus Marathon volunteer shirts and found myself bummed that we, in America, like to spell words correctly, or don't like to make up words. 

This weekend, I found myself participating in the perfect combination of that play on words...

Friday night I spent several hours handing out race shirts to the wonderful athletes who were participating in the marathon weekend. It was fun to hear and see all of the excitement buzzing around the expo center. Hundreds of people getting ready to complete their journey to the finish line!

Then, you know what I did today? Only the second best thing you can do on marathon weekend... I picked an athlete and chased her around town on my bicycle. Sue and I met up at 7:30ish and chased a special person through the city. She may not remember when we saw her, or how many times we saw her, but I can tell you, the smile that appeared on her face every time she saw her mom was worth every second of my time.

What a way to spend a day!!!

If ever you want to get involved in a marathon weekend, but you don't want to run/walk the marathon, pick a special person, chase them around town and fuel them with your energy. Go out and VOLUNCHEER!!!!!!!


Monday, October 6, 2014

The Elephant

I'm in the sixth day of this little game I play with myself sometimes called MS Free time. What might MS free time entail? It is just a period of time in which I stop all talk about MS, and resume my life as if I was never diagnosed. Simply put, I just quiet my loquacious nature for a bit. I don't totally ignore MS though... I still take my meds. Oh, and I had a brief conversation with my mom about it today, but that was less about my MS and more about emotions surrounding chronic diseases.

I have successfully gone MS free on several occasions, one of which was my trip to Canada in the beginning of the summer. So why am I blogging about it then? Because, as my mom said today, I don't know how to quiet my mind. My friend and I talk about my inability to relax, I disagree and was telling my mom I am great at relaxing, which is true, but only physically. I mean I can ignore dishes in my sink and the ring around my bathtub for weeks out of my 'need' to relax, but my mind NEVER settles and relaxes. The time I was able to best settle my mind was when my buddy Mike coaxed me into practicing Buddhism. I'll tell you what, there is nothing like chanting away, in a language that you don't understand, to pull you away from your mind. Focusing on what syllable comes next is about all my mind can handle when I am sitting in a room with a hundred people chanting. It is somewhat soothing, but I would always get so focused on the words because I never wanted to mess up my neighbor with my bad pronunciations of the sacred words my neighbor was saying, and actually understood.

After my brief conversation with my mom today, I am understanding that being in a room with a person who has a chronic disease can be very similar to my experience in the Buddhist temple. I never wanted to disrupt the rhythm of the person sitting next to me, to gain a better understanding of the words, because they were so focused. The reality is, that person would have probably welcomed my questions and curiosity because I would have been trying to gain insight on something that is so precious to them.

You see, having a chronic disease is like walking around with a big elephant sitting on your shoulders, and it takes a special person to approach you and knock that elephant away. Last week I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend that I don't get to see or talk to very often. This friend asked me questions that may have been perceived as uncomfortable to the closest eavesdropper. The questions ranged from relationships to MS (which actually is best described as a relationship in my world), and I graciously answered every question, and was actually delighted to have someone ask the questions that very few will bring up.

So what does this all mean anyway? Well two things. The first is, if every you approach someone who tells you they have a chronic disease, don't feel like you can't ask questions and explore their situation. They likely want to talk and are more than willing to share their experiences with you. Not to mention, you might get to hear them talk about the fact that they initially thought they had formaldehyde poisoning, NOT MS...

Second lesson is really specifically for me: The MS breaks are necessary. This past weekend, I had the most fun having carefree conversation while installing doors at my friend's house. I think the reason I was able to let my guard down and just have fun making mistakes and a mess at someone else's house is simply because the elephant does not exist with this friend!

So, here's the thing. I'm not scared to talk about it, neither should you. Let's work to turn that elephant into a tiny little mouse! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Lesson for the Friends

What do you do during your 'off season'? Well let's first define what an off season is for me... In my world, any time I am not registered for a big event, or the event I am registered for is more than 20 or so weeks away, I call it off season. One of my favorite things to do when I am not training for something is, well, nothing.

The last big event of 2014 is over. Pedal to the Point ended two months ago today. I'm still mourning the completion of the best event of the year, and certainly the most memorable of my life. Finishing Pedal to the Point was something!!! No other word can explain it...

So this is where I get to the point, and really explain what I do in my off season. I have post event depression, I watch copious amounts of TV, eat copious amounts of ice cream, lay on the couch, and do crazy household projects...

I am often told that I am not good at living in the moment, but I can tell you when you are on episode 23 of Sister Wives, finished a season of Breaking Amish, have 13 old window shutters, a new mountain of laundry needing to be folded, and a kitchen that hasn't been cleaned in too long, it might be time to quit living in the moment, because the moment is only getting more pathetic! I do have to say that the household projects have really turned into my biggest hobby, but there is only so much work that can get done before one starts making mistakes. So... what to do but sign up for, or plan my next series of events. If I don't start my planning now, I might end up eating more ice cream, collecting more junk and fill my basement with more yarn and laundry mountains. All of which won't get dealt with until someone comes to visit!!!

I seriously think this time should be called the lazies because, that is exactly what I am right now... So, let's get to the planning!!!

If you've been following along, with my blogging world, you know that I plan to hike Pikes Peak in 2015. I haven't heard much about this event in awhile, but my friend and I still plan to go! Even if we have to go on our own, we will hike!!! My first, and probably last 14er...

I signed up for the Toledo Half Marathon shortly after Pedal to the Point. This is quite exciting because I'm still hoping I can talk my friend and her husband to come out and run.

I am pretty sure another quick MS ride is in the works for 2015, likely in Washington, DC. I'm thinking a 50 miler will do the trick in 2015... Maybe more, but 50 miles, early in the summer sounds appropriate.

I also got another friend to commit to a half iron, but not for a few years. I'll take it, because it means that I will have to keep my eye on that prize by riding and swimming, in conjunction with my running!

For all of these events, I will likely be tugging on someone's pant leg to join me (insert your eye roll here), although I have already convinced a lucky few to join in on the fun above. As the schedule fills up, builds out, etc. the requests may get more intense, so watch out!

There is a lesson in here for my friends... Make sure I'm always training, or you just might be the one who is being lured into one of the best, most fantastic, amazing events of your life!!! Don't believe me? Well... look back in this blog, and you will see the proof!