Wednesday, October 14, 2009

3 AM... Insomnia... What do you do?

Sleepy-Time Tea, a boring book, counting sheep... I don't think I'd put "blogging" too terribly high on that list! Writing tends to stir up emotions, and I theorize that the glow of the computer screen before bed makes sleep difficult. But hey, here I am! I went to bed at 11:30 pm, fell right asleep, then BOOM! Awake at 3 AM with mind on hyperspeed.

Perhaps my recent re-emphasis on blogging has stirred my mind's juices and I just need to get my thoughts out of my brain so it can relax. Whatever the reason, I've got some insomnia going on, and I'm gonna try and write it out (then I'll pick up this god-awful book I started so I can go to sleep!)

I think what triggered this bout of sleeplessness is the little bit of depression I felt right before I went to bed. I was chatting with a few friends, making plans for the weekend, and after I signed off, it hit me that there's a very good chance I'm going to spend the rest of my life alone, serial dating! It sounds silly, I'm sure, but I felt that unless I'm willing to "settle" for someone who isn't my "soul match", I might not ever be in a long term relationship again.

Problem is, I'm not willing to settle! I've done so in the past, and all it got me was years spent with someone I knew wasn't right for me.

Admit it or not, we all have a need to be in a relationship. We want to have someone to come home to, to connect with, to be a couple with. Where we often fail is, we settle for Mr. Wrong just to have Mr. Someone. It's a slippery slope, and one I've slid down far too many times. Instead of working on a relationship, we fight FOR a relationship, knowing it's wrong, knowing it's not a match, but wanting too badly to be part of the all-powerful couple.

The temptation to settle is strong. When you're over 40, the pool of single men is small. Every criteria you have shrinks that already small pool. When you live in an area known for hunting, fishing, and big trucks - and that just isn't your thing - the pool shrinks further. When intelligent and insightful are high on your priority list, it becomes a search for a needle in a haystack. When as a woman you're independent, strong and have no drama - wow, your pool of male friends is large - but do they want to pursue a relationship? No, they want you to be their friend, their adivisor, their shoulder to cry on... as they pursue the woman with constant drama, young children, the jerk of an ex-husband, and a daily need to be "fixed". She may be more attractive, or less - but more often than not, her life's a mess. These men swear up and down they despise drama, but when they're in it - they don't refer to it as drama - they're subconsciously living out their knight in shining armor fantasy.

So, what to do? Dumb it down? Nope. Play helpless? Nope. Compromise my standards? Well, we all need to compromise in some ways, but my core needs? Nope.

Stay single? Maybe.

I've recently reconnected with a few men that I briefly dated in the past. When we dated, it just wasn't a click, and to be honest, it was often on my part. Something was missing - and most often, it was strength. I consider myself strong in many ways, but even I need to be taken care of on occasion, and I feel a great need to be with someone stronger than I am. I asked a few of these men why they were contacting me again. Other than the typical "I was just thinking of you", I heard, "I just didn't feel I was in the right place to pursue a relationship with you". One used the word, "intimidated" because my life seemed so "together". I felt then, as I do now, that if they'd demonstrated true strength, they would have seen my vulnerability.

Do I need to change? I'm not sure what I need to change, so I can't answer that. I'm far from perfect, but I'm me... do I want to go into a relationship being someone I'm not?

It's often said "there's someone for everyone". I think I believe it, but I have my doubts. When I was willing to "settle" in my life, I was always in a relationship. When I decided my life was too important to settle in my choice of partner through it, that stopped. I can't say I've been in a real relationship for over four years. I've dated, but not one has come close to what I'm seeking.

All around me my single friends are dropping like flies. They become single, and BOOM, before they know it, they're back in a relationship. My initial emotion was a bit of jealousy, "why her? why not me?" But as time has gone on, I've seen that they have settled. My jealousy has gone away, replaced by sadness for them. I wish them happiness, but I can't imagine they'll have the true happiness they would have, had they held out for Mr. Right, instead of settling for Mr. Somebody.

I think I'm going to focus on letting go, and letting God take care of this part of my life. He knows me, and he knows the kind of partner that will bring me joy, and accept me for who I am.

I'm not going to say I won't still feel some frustration, depression and loneliness - but like every negative emotion, it's short lived.

Right now I have a wonderful family, a beautiful new grandson to love on, and fabulous friends who already accept me for who I am. Might as well focus on those beautiful parts of my life, because I absolutely, positively, REFUSE TO SETTLE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming to Peace with our Bodies

Some years ago I wrote what I felt to be my best blog ever. I was inspired by the Dove commercials that celebrated the beauty of all women, regardless of body shape. To this day, I gravitate toward buying Dove products because they were the first company to publicly celebrate curves, and I admire that so much. Yes, a marketing "ploy", but someone who cared came up with it.

In that blog I mentioned how disappointed I was that friends of mine who very clearly were in no need of a "diet", would comment on the "junk in their trunk" and need to lose weight. I commented that my daughter refused to go to parties at their homes because she felt uncomfortable eating around people for whom food deprivation and being thin was an obsession. I admired then, and do now, how comfortable she has always been with her body, regardless of size.

Recently my mind went back to that blog... for a different reason.

Ever since I was a teen, my reaction to stress has been a loss of appetite. In my entire life, I have deliberately dieted once, and hated it. I have never been what I term heavy, just have vacillated generally between a size 4/6 and 8/10. In high school I was 5'6", weighed 125 and wore a size 5 jean.

My mother was 5'7" and weighed 115 - 125 lbs, my father was 6'3" and weighed around 180. My brother was nearly discharged from the Air Force for failing to make minimum weight, so there's a natural long leanness in our family.

At my heaviest, which wasn't heavy, I tended to look larger than I was because it wasn't natural for my body - but honestly, I didn't care, because I have always enjoyed the curvy look! My role models for the sexiest female body tended to be Penelope Cruz as opposed to Jennifer Aniston, and to this day I think Queen Latifah is one of the sexiest women ever! Her love of life and confidence in herself are so very attractive!

Throughout my teen and adult years I went through a couple periods of "anorexia". Not "anorexia nervosa" because I didn't deliberately starve myself in an attempt to lose weight, but as the doctors termed it, "stress induced anorexia". Once during a painful breakup with a high school boyfriend, again at the end of my first marriage as I was faced with a painful divorce and the thought of being a single parent. The first time, natural teen resilience snapped me out of it, the second, it took the threat of hospitalization and prescription anti-nausea drugs to get me over the hump. I won't lie and say I didn't enjoy the "Wow, you look great!" comments as I became thinner, but when a cardiologist was able to see where to place the electrodes for a cardiogram, I didn't care that others thought I looked great, I didn't like it.

So there's the history...

I'm in the mortgage industry and have been for several years. A few years ago started what we now call "The Mortgage Meltdown". My world as I knew it, my career as I loved it, was reviled, and rules were tightened that kept me from doing the best for my clients. My income began to drop. I accepted a management position in my field to keep my income up - things continued to change and the stress continued.

During that time my father's illness with Parkinson's and Dementia worsened. We were facing his deterioration and death. The only thing I knew to do was support, research, help and try to cope.

My natural reaction, to lose my appetite, kicked in. Recognizing that it was happening, I decided that since I couldn't force myself to eat, I made a conscious decision to make every bite I was able to swallow, the best for my body. I went back to the way of eating that had always kept my hypoglycemia in check, which is similar to a diabetic diet. The meats I ate were lean, I emphasized protein in my diet, I avoided sugar, and I ate lots and lots of vegetables. I avoided sugar, processed foods and fruits, as they caused severe blood sugar spikes and crashes, and since I wasn't consuming enough to counteract it, I had to cut them out. If I knew a food would cause a blood sugar issue, I simply didn't eat it.

I ate healthy, and I ate often - even setting my alarm to remind me to eat. Problem with such healthy eating (problem?) you don't gain weight. I didn't lose much more, because I didn't exercise much, but I didn't gain either.

In January 2009 I discovered running when I signed up for Team in Training and committed to train for the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After a few months, I found that running cleared my head - it helped me focus, and it brought me wonderful new friendships. I was hooked! When I ran my marathon in May, it was the most exhilerating feeling in the world! I memorialized that feeling, and my father, who had passed away during my training, with a tattoo on my foot.

Since then I've continued to run. I feel wonderful, feel healthy, so I'm on the go a lot. I hike, I bike, I run, I snowshoe... and I feel wonderful doing all these things. I feel healthy, I feel strong, I feel energetic.

The problem... yes, comparitively, I am now considered thin. I am almost 5'7" and weigh between 115 and 120 pounds. I wear a size 3 jean, or 0 in adults. It ain't as "wonderful" as people want to think, because I have a 34" inseam, and it's almost impossible to find pants that fit well. But that's not really the problem.

The problem is people around me - actually the problem is my reaction to them.

I know I feel healthy, I know I eat, I have no jutting bones, no knobby knees or elbows, by no one's measure do I look emaciated. I run, I am genetically long and lean, and my body has found it's natural niche.

People who haven't seen me in a while will invariably comment, "You look great", but it's often followed with, "are you eating?" or "you're so tiny, you need to eat more", or worse yet, even in front of my daughter, "Kim, are you anorexic?" It got to where I doubted how good I felt - and that's my problem.

First stop: my doctor's office - specifically because I was concerned they were right, that I was too thin. Comprehensive exam, followed by a thyroid test, a cardiogram and finally the diagnosis, "You're not bony, you are 100% healthy, this is just where you naturally fit". Next, I visited a naturopath because of my weight concerns, who said, "You have pent up stress, but honestly, I'm not the least concerned about your weight. You're healthy, you're not bony, focus on your stress and don't worry about your weight."

I've been asked if I'm on meth (that one makes me LAUGH!), cocaine (I can't even IMAGINE sniffing something up my nose! OUCH!), because I'm so naturally hyper, people assume I must be on some sort of speed. Nope... I did finally get meds for my ADHD, but I won't take them unti after I've eaten, and only in the morning so I can get my focus work done with minimal appetite interference.

I've become obsessed with others' perception of my "problem", and have lost sight of what's important. I've cried because I was embarrassed at the "Girl, you need to eat!" or "Oh, Kim's anorexic" comments... in some cases I've avoided gatherings because I can't stand the feeling that people are watching to be sure I eat. I've found myself eating myself sick just to prove that I do eat. I've sacrificed my enjoyment so that others can feel justified.

Recently I heard that some of my friends are "concerned" about my weight. No one asked me how I was doing, they just voiced concerns when I wasn't around. I talked to a dear friend about it, and shared how I was so tired of having to prove myself to everyone instead of just enjoy who and what I am. I appreciated their concern, but wasn't sure that concern was the root of the comments. In a society obsessed with thinness, and in a group of friends where some see thinness as a competition - I wonder if the underlying issue is a feeling some have that I'm winning some sort of contest? This dear friend, who is one of the sexiest, most vibrant women I have ever known, gave me the best advice ever. In essence she said, "F* 'em. You know you're healthy, you know this is just the way you genetically are, and you deserve to enjoy the body you're in!". Just as an aside, she's not a "thin" woman - she's healthy, athletic, strong, and has a beautiful body. She reminds me of a Nordic goddess. Blond, strong looking, glowing with health - one of those women you could look at forever. She's 30 years old and has the self confidence of a woman twice her age.

Last night I shared my frustration with another beautiful young woman. She's 23, strong, athletic, healthy, and when I look at her, the word that comes to mind is "life"! She appreciates and loves her body (which is absolutely beautiful!) and most of all, the pleasure it gives her as she scales rocks, rafts rivers, skis, hikes and all the myriad of activities she does.

Thinking about these wonderful women who don't share the obsession of many woman, brought me to a decision.

I'm no longer going to worry about what others think or say about my weight. I'm not going to make self-deprecating comments or apologetic ones. I'm going to take the advice I've given friends in the past and just say, "Thanks!" When they say, "You look great", I'm going to say "Thanks!" and leave it at that.

When they ask how I did it, I'll just say, "I enjoy healthy food, I exercise and my body reverted back to it's genetically natural type".

When I get the "pseudo" compliments, I'm going to say... well, I'm not really sure what I'm going to say. But I do know one thing, I'm going to let the veiled negativism roll off my back.

I'm going to take the advice I give my friends all the time, which is to love and enjoy my body as it is. I'll continue to focus on my health and my life, and not let others' dictate my feelings. I'm going to work on my own insecurities - worrying less about others, and focusing just a little more on me.

I'm going to enjoy life - with one less worry in it!

So to all of you, curvy or thin, tall or short, I ask you to join me on this journey of "love who you are!" It ain't always an easy journey, but it's one more step toward becoming the best "us" we can be!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Experience of a Lifetime

I have been so terribly remiss in my blogging. Not that I have nothing to write about, but my life has been such a whirlwind, my emotions all over the board, that it's been impossible to focus on a subject. I have settled for snippets posted on facebook. Little bits here and there to relieve the pressure cooker of my mind and soul.

Recently I experienced the most wonderful event of my life, and it deserves to be posted and acknowledged on it's own. This event was the birth of my first grandchild.

I will never forget how stunned I was when my daughter announced she was pregnant. It was unplanned, an "accident" if you will - although I believe true accidents of pregnancy are extremely rare. There was no question that she was going to proceed to motherhood, and I committed to supporting my daughter in this new phase of her life.

Over the next eight months, I watched her grow - I shared her fears and concerns, answered her questions as best I could, and attended some doctor appointments and birthing classes with her. I was there when the ultrasound definitively showed that she was having a son.

On September 24th about five weeks before her due date, we spent the evening with my dear friend Holly, a professional photographer, who took her pregnancy intimacy photos. To say the pictures were stunning is an understatement. Kayte is by all accounts a lovely young woman, but to see her in this way, and the absolute beauty of her eight months pregnant body, with the accompanying glow (yes, they really DO glow!) was amazing! I would share pictures here, but it isn't my place, and some will be posted soon on her photographer's website:

The next morning Kayte called me - she was having severe heartburn and cramping, but didn't feel it was labor - besides, she had almost five weeks to go, right? She wanted me to bring her some soup, I told her I would do so, but she was to be packed for me to take her to the hospital for a checkup. She already was dilated to over a centimeter, and I wasn't taking any chances. We arrived at St. Luke's and she was hooked up to monitors. The monitors showed the baby's heartbeat was fine, there were some contractions, but she wasn't dilating, so she was given IV fluids. Shortly thereafter she began vomiting. Still no dilation, only heartburn and all over cramping, so the doctor decided he wanted her kept overnight for observation. God bless her doctor, he told her honestly that he had no idea why she was feeling the way she was, so he preferred to keep her in a safe place. She was given their entire repertoire of anti-nausea and heartburn medications, even a numbing agent for her stomach - finally the nausea and heartburn were under control and she could rest.

During the evening and night there were three incidents where the baby's heartrate dropped and the only way to get it back up was to put Kayte on her hands and knees with an oxygen mask. I was blown away at the response of the St. Luke's nurses! Within 15 seconds of a heartrate drop, three nurses would be rushing through the door to respond to the emergency! Each time it happened, they called her doctor to keep him informed.

The next morning the doctor advised her he wanted an amniocentesis and if the baby's lungs were developed he wanted to induce labor. Either way, he said, chances of her going home without having given birth were very slim. At 10:30 AM on September 26th she had amniotic fluid drawn and at 11:30 AM the results showed the lungs were developed. I contacted the baby's father to let him know what was going on and he arrived shortly thereafter.

The baby's father... the most difficult part of the equation. He screwed up. He couldn't decide if he wanted to be "with" her, but wanted to be part of the baby's life. I chalked some up to immaturity, but even more to weakness of character. I knew Kayte's burning desire for an intact family, so I supported her as best I could. I knew that soon, very soon, would be the time for a frank discussion between him and me, but at this time, he needed to be there, and in her heart, she wanted him there.

11:50 AM, Dr. Weyrich arrived to break Kayte's water and start her labor. He told us he would be going home once her labor started, and would be signing off duty at 6 pm that night to spend the evening with his wife. If the baby was born before then, he'd be back to deliver, if not, the resident obstetrician would, but either way, she was in good hands. He also advised her that if the baby's heartrate did one more prolonged drop, she would be undergoing an emergency C-Section.

After about three hours of heavy, Pitocin assisted contractions, Kayte decided she was ready for an epidural. Throughout her labor she hadn't screamed, hadn't yelled, had remained relatively calm, and at her last cervical check was at 3 1/2 centimeters, so the nurse didn't see the necessity of checking to be sure it wasn't too late for the epidural. Typically they don't give one after 6 cm dilation because it can slow down labor, but none of us thought she was even remotely close to that. So she got her epidural. After it was in place, she was checked and to all our surprise, EIGHT CENTIMETERS!!! We were all stunned! She had blown through over four centimeters of dilation with relative calm! She even commented that she was afraid she was getting her epidural too early and being wimpy!

Half an hour later she commented she felt some pressure in her bottom, Becky, her nurse checked her again and it was time to push already! Baby's heartrate, so far, so good - one or two minor drops, but for no more than a few seconds. So, daddy at one leg, me at the other, and we were ready to go. The plan was to push with the nurse's guidance until the baby's head was showing, then call the doctor to come for the end. So she pushed, and I counted, and we encouraged, and she pushed harder... and after about half an hour it was time to call Dr. Weyrich. He arrived at about 5:20, and...

At 5:38 PM, weighing a respectable 5 lb 7 oz and at 18 1/2 inches long, Kyler Lee Trilby entered the world! Daddy cut the cord to make him his own, separate person.

He was immediately whisked to the waiting table for the neonatal team to work on him. They pounded, they suctioned, they stuck little tubes down his nose... he mewled, he grunted, and finally... he cried.

After about 20 minutes of working on him, they finally put little Kyler in his mommy's arms.
Well done, mommy...

I'm not sure who felt more emotional. Kayte for the experience she went through, or me, watching my beautiful daughter take this final step to true motherhood.

I shared the physical part of the experience, but the emotional experience was so much more intense.

Over the past eight months I watched my daughter go through nearly every emotional and physical experience a woman can go through. At times I felt helpless because I couldn't make her world right, but most of all I felt pride. Kayte was taking a difficult, emotionally charged time in her life, and handling it with grace and strength. Her focus stayed on doing all she could to ensure her son the healthiest start in life she could give him, regardless of where her life was going.

Seeing her push my grandson into the world was yes, the experience of a lifetime. I cried, I laughed, I felt so much joy I thought my heart would literally burst from it. I fell instantly in love...

Being the grandmother is so different from being the mother. Your heart hurts seeing your child in pain, you remember everything you went through, you want to lie there and take the pain away from her. Most of all, there is pride. Pride in your daughter's strength, pride in her womanhood. No longer is she just my child, she is now a woman in her own right, and my equal.

And daddy? Well, he fell in love too, with the little boy who looks just like him. He was supportive and caring during Kayte's hospital stay, but the story didn't end there. That frank discussion? It happened. I talked to that young man more harshly and strongly than I have ever talked to anyone in my life. Honestly, he showed his true character during that discussion - he listened, he absorbed, and he shared. He demonstrated that he is committing to his family. Am I convinced it will all work out? Well, it could... it might... and if it doesn't, I don't think it will be for lack of trying. Whatever happens, good or bad, my job is to support, not to judge. I will love and support them as long as they are together. They know I will always be upfront and honest, but will not make life difficult on them by holding grudges, being judgmental, or causing conflict. No one is perfect, all make mistakes, and the true test of character is how you move on and learn from those mistakes.

I am blessed to be a part of this lovely family and a supporter on their journey.

And that, my friends... is the experience of a lifetime.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wow... should I keep it?

Reading over my last post I debated... should I delete it? It's pretty negative. Do I really want that kind of "stuff" out there? Do I really want to expose that kind of weakness, and borderline despair?

Well... it's not like strangers are reading this... those who follow my blog and read it are also those who care about me, warts & all. Or at least I hope they do, and if they don't, what they think of me simply doesn't matter. So yeah, I'm gonna keep it there. It's real, it's me... and since I'll get through it and move forward, it might just help someone else remember that things can be really bad, but they can also get better.

And can you truly appreciate the really great "ups" unless you acknowledge the really shitty "downs"?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What do you do...

when it all seems to be too much?

Work, income, finances, people, hurt, stress, lack of control, longing, anger, impatience, disappointment, holding it in... fear, loneliness, hopelessness... hanging by a thread...

no escape...



tired of coping... tired of doing it all... tired of being strong...

need to lean... nowhere to lean... no one to count on... no one but me... don't want to be the one anymore...

had enough... but have no choice... it's all up to me... as always

need to get hope back

before it's too late

need to focus on the positive... tired of talking myself into it...

how much can I take?

my stores are low... I want so badly to give up, but I can't give up...

please don't lean on me today, we might both fall down

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Very First Time...

Wow! What a day!

On January 24th I embarked on this crazy adventure called "running". I committed to joining Team in Training to run a marathon and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. On May 31st, I will be running the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon - the pinnacle of this training.

Today, as a practice run, I ran the Famous Potato Half Marathon. I thought it would be just another Saturday training run, just done with lots of other folks. I didn't think it would be that big a deal.

It was.

I woke up at 4:30 AM for a race that started at 8:00 AM. Why so early? Well, ya gotta make doubly sure you have all your gear, get a shower to wake up, have some breakfast (Nutrigrain Eggo Waffles with Adams Peanut Butter is my pre-run breakfast of choice), catch up with the friends for a ride, then be at the park at 6:30 for the bus ride to Lucky Peak. Cold, windy Lucky Peak. Of course, there's the necessary pre-race bathroom break, where you stand in line for a porta potty freezing your underdressed butt off with the other hundreds of underdressed runners. Our goose bumps had goose bumps!!! The hardest part was surrendering my jacket to head to the starting line.

As I approached the starting line, I noticed a new friend, Thomas, standing nearby! What a great surprise! He had read my Facebook post about the starting time and place, and came out to take pictures. It totally made my day to have a supporter at the starting line!

So, my friends and I are standing in the middle of a mass of people... and finally, the starting gun goes off. And we're OFF! Sort of... well... when a sea of people all start moving at about the same time, there's a lot of start... stop... run... walk... But soon enough, the crowd starts to spread out, and we're really off!

Throughout my training I've been running long runs as intervals, so I have my watch set to five minute run then one minute walk intervals. During my walk intervals I see people pass me, when I run, I pass them back. Sort of a see-saw effect. Some (actually many) just keep getting further ahead, but hey, I'm out there, and I'm running!

The miles go by fairly quickly. There are water stops at every two miles, so we're kept well hydrated. I have my fuel belt with my gel "candies" and my Crystal Light with extra electrolytes, so I'm set.

My friend, Jenn, was running the intervals with me, and we find we're making pretty good time with our "system". My goal was to average 12 minute miles throughout the race, and we're ahead of that pace. After about eight miles though, I really start looking forward to those walk intervals!!!

At mile ten is the Team in Training water stop! WOO HOO!!! My TNT friends are there with water, hugs and cheers. As I leave them it hits me, I'm almost finished with my very first half marathon!

The last couple miles seem to go on forever... and ever...

Finally, Jenn and I hear the cheers at the finish line. As we come around the bend, I get that adrenaline rush and go for the sprint. Stretching it out... opening it up... full on sprint... I see the timing clock. As I run through, I see my friend Jacob with his camera phone held high.

I register the clock: 2:35.

Official time from start line: two hours and 33 minutes for my very first half marathon!!!

I'm done! I stop running... and there's my daughter Kayte, at the finish line, supporting her mom. What a sight! Then I see Team in Training coaches Mike and Louise and give them a big, sweaty hug.

Holy Crap! I did it!!! I ran an official half marathon!

I didn't expect it to be so exciting, because we'd run 20 miles on our last training run, but that was a much slower, easier run. I was told to take this one easy, which I guess I sorta did, but didn't. Our long training runs averaged about 13+ minute miles, because we took bathroom breaks, took it easy, walked a bit more... this, my first event, was an average 11.6 minute mile! About a minute and a half faster than my normal long runs!

Yep... I'm feeling pretty good about that!

After a bit of food and catching up with friends, Kayte and I head over to join the Team in Training folks as they cheer in the rest of the TNT half marathoners and the TNT full marathoners. Eventually Kayte heads home and I stick around to cheer in the friends I've made over the past four months.

Four months.

I've gone from 0 to 20 in four months. In four months I trained for a full marathon and ran a half marathon.

In two weeks I will be running my TNT event, the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon! It struck me as I finished this half, that "Damn! In two weeks I've got to do twice this run!" It's a daunting thought! Can I do it? Yes! I can!!! I've trained for it, I've prepared for it... I can do it! It ain't gonna be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

I, whose idea of exercise has been a leisurely bike ride, hike or backpacking trip, am now officially A Runner!!!

What a fabulous feeling!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Goodbye Dad

May 10, 2009

My dad went to his peace on May 10, 2009.

My sister in law called me at 7:27 AM and said he had passed about 10 minutes prior. 7:17 AM... 9:17 AM Georgia time. I have no idea why it matters, but it does.

My dad lived on this earth for 73 years, 5 months and 15 days. Not long enough, but I know, longer than many.

It hurts... but not as badly as watching him deteriorate and become a shell of his former self.

I think I'll just dwell on his former self...

My friend Carol, who has been a best friend since we were 13 (and through us, our parents became life-long best friends) made me laugh tonight. I posted a status update on facebook about appreciating those I love and who love me and her response was "Stripes and solids... I wonder who's running the table?" reminding me of how our fathers loved to play pool together during their summer camp trips. It made me smile and it made me think.

I have a handwoven basket in my living room. On the handle, in faded black ink it says, "Kyle Troop 50". This basket is the only memento of my father's childhood and time prior to college. My father's childhood pictures and mementos were destroyed in a fire years ago - all except this one basket. My parents gave me this basket about 10 years ago, because they had no place to keep it, and knew I would treasure it. I do.

I look at it often and think about how little I really know about my father's early years. I know he grew up in the mountains of New Hampshire. I know he went to Bible College on a basketball scholarship. I know he played basketball in an exhibition game against THE ORIGINAL HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS! (I always thought that was the ULTIMATE in cool!) I know his nickname in college was "Snake" because of his ability to weave in and out of the defense...

I know my father proudly served his country for 22 years in the Air Force, and inspired four of the seven of us to follow his footsteps.

I know my father was just that... a father... and a wonderful one at that. He "biologically" fathered three, and was the father to seven total. In my father's mind, it didn't matter "bio" or not... we were all his kids, and he would kick our butts equally when needed. We never knew the difference, it's only in looking back at how he loved us all equally that I realize the beauty in that fatherly love.

I have such beautiful memories... mostly random, very few really "deep". The best memories are those that epitomize the kind of man he was. My dad was a fishing fanatic, a hunting enthusiast, a pool player, a beer drinker (although never, ever did I ever see him even slightly drunk!), and a helper of anyone in need.

I learned how to put my heart out there from my father. I learned to give without expectation of return from my father. After my mother died, my father "hired" two different ladies to help care for us kids (on a bartender's salary with a small military pension) who were going through tough times or were in abusive situations and needed a safe haven. He was a friend to anyone who needed one, and expected nothing in return. If anything, that's what I admire most about him.

I could go on and on... but the specifics really don't matter. What matters is that I was blessed... and I do mean TRULY blessed, by being the daughter of an imperfect, yet loving and caring man. A man who, no matter what screwups I made in my life, loved me 100%. If I ever felt he was disappointed in me, that was my own problem, because he never made me feel that.

My children, and my brothers and sisters children, were blessed to have an awesome Grandpa. Whether it was basketball, fishing, wrestling, or just grabbing on to the biggest dang nose ever, they had that fun with Grandpa. He loved his grandkids beyond belief. Toward the end, when he reacted to little else, he would light up at the sight of his grandchildren. When no one could get him to eat more than two bites of anything, he ate an entire hot fudge sundae fed to him by his granddaughter... my daughter... smiling and enjoying every bite.

Goodbye Dad... thank you for 44+ wonderful years of love. On behalf of all your kids and grandkids, thank you for the years of joy we had with you. Goodbye is hard, but the alternative of the past months is much harder. You deserve this time of peace, and of rest...

I love you so much, Dad!!! I miss you!!! I'll miss you forever!!! Thank you so much!!! I love you... I love you... I love you!!! Oh God, I love you so much!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Crazy Adventure...

18 miles... a helluva milestone for a rookie runner! My friend Theresa tells me once you've done 18, you're there... you can definitely run a marathon. WOO HOO!

The past few months have been quite an adventure in learning! I've learned to laugh at myself harder than I ever have, and I've learned a lot about the human body (not all of it pleasant, either). I've also learned that I can go out in public stinky and sweaty and really not give a rip about what people think.

So, for those of you who haven't run down this road and wonder what it's like from ground zero, welcome to my tale of the World of a Rookie Runner!

Having often thought that saying, "I'm a marathon runner" seemed pretty cool, I semi-impulsively (who? me?) signed up to join Team in Training to run the San Diego Half Marathon. That same night, at that same meeting I succumbed to the words of one of the mentors who insisted that I could run a full marathon! She told me I could do run/walk intervals, and if I changed my mind, I could back off to the half again. Having no clue what I was in for... I listened and checked "full" on my sign up sheet. And so began the journey...

The very first training run was on an icky, rainy, snowy, gloomy Saturday morning, I think in late January. All I know is that it was cold, and this crazy person stood up there and said we were gonna run three miles that morning! Are you kidding me? Okay, I'm active... I bike, hike, etc. when it's nice outside, but to start out with three miles? Well, we did it... and got back to the start looking like a bunch of drowned rats. I couldn't believe I left a warm bed and hot coffee for that!

Then we all got this training schedule emailed to us. This... this... Calendar that had pretty much every day filled with exercise stuff! Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - 30 - 45 minute runs, Wednesday core training, Saturday group runs... when the heck will I have time to drink my wine? I figured I'd better get a plan together! So I put the word out that I needed someone to run with, 'cuz I pretty much suck at the whole self-discipline thing. A lady I knew a bit from this group I hang with, Gwen, stepped up and volunteered to run with me. Gwen has been my life saver! She makes sure I get out there and run (even in 22 degree freakin' weather!!!) and has been my "coach" in all things running-related. The only bummer is, I can't just keep my butt in bed and blow off running, 'cuz she's waiting for me! Sheesh!

Week after week the miles we ran got longer. We formed our own little groups based on a common pace (heck yeah! I found my own rookie group of slower runners!). We were happy to learn that very few people run an entire marathon and that run/walk intervals are perfectly acceptable and endorsed by even hard-core runners. Yay! License to take lots of breaks without guilt! Works for me! I learned about "fuels" for running, which is a nice word for really icky crap you're supposed to eat or drink while you run. Crap like Gu, gel, and, horror of horrors, pure salt!!! I tried my first "Shot Block" on the six mile run... which if you've never had one, is a gel candy loaded with caffeine and sugar. The sugar/caffeine rush hit me so hard I thought I was going to pass out or puke... note to self: Shot Blocks ain't my "fuel"!

I learned that "hip flexor issues" is run-speak for "I think I'm gonna die, cuz my hip hurts like a sonofagun!!". I learned that I can rub a muscle out so hard I give myself bruises that hurt worse than the "hip flexor issue" ever did! I learned that instead of "My butt hurts like hell!", runners say, "I've got a strain in my right glute". But ya know, whether you call it butt or glute, hurt or strain... it feels the same! Fortunately, it all goes away the same, too.

After 14 miles, one of my new friends and I realized that we both suck at every other long run. Twelve miles, I pretty much walked the last three miles 'cuz my "hip flexor" was hurting. Fourteen miles, not too shabby! One of my other new running friends was having IT band issues (OMG! I'm sounding like a runner!) which is run-nese for "hard-core knee/outer thigh muscle pain", so I walked with her the way one of my teammates had walked with me on my crappy run.

The 16 mile run was my big, hilarious oops! I don't know how many times I was told to be careful with what we eat the night before a big run. I heard how too much protein will mess with your guts, how we need to balance carbs with a little protein, etc. Did I listen? Well... yeah... sorta! But I'm a protein-eater, right? My body is used to protein and I don't eat a whole lot of carbs... so I'm different, right? WRONG!

Friday night, I worked 'til about 8:30. I hadn't eaten since about 1:00 so I was pretty hungry. I decided to catch up with a friend at Cheerleaders for a beer. We were sitting at the bar and I knew I needed to eat. The bartender told me about that night's special: Filet Mignon with grilled prawns... uh-huh... I ordered it! It was soooo good! And hey, I had two beers, so I actually did have some carbs, right?

Next morning... feeling pretty good. Start the run... still good. Mile 10... uh oh, not so good... we run to Zamzow's cuz I think I need a restroom. Nope... that's not it and it's not getting better! Keep going... only about five to go... I didn't really get what was going on, I thought my body didn't like the "fuel" I was giving it on the run. At mile 13 I looked at my running partners and said, "I would give $100 right now just to puke!" A bit later one of the coaches came back to us and I was telling him about my dinner the night before. I think if he coulda laughed his butt off, he would have! "There's your problem!" was his euphemism for, "Way to go, dummy!" (not really, but close enough). So I struggled through the rest of the run, finished the 16, with the help of great friends who stuck by me, and learned a very hard lesson. A lesson I still laugh about!!!

When you embark on this journey called "marathon training" you start with your pride and prudishness intact. Over the weeks and months the pride changes to a different sort, and your prudishness pretty much goes out the window! You talk comfortably about body functions, and quit caring who sees your nose run or hears you talk about your tissue-less, no hands, while running nose-blowing skills (I have yet to master that skill!). You're perfectly comfortable announcing that you need to find a bush to go behind. I realized I'd taken a huge step toward being a runner when I met my daughter for a movie after a run and hadn't had time to shower or change yet. Did I care? Not really... and hey, if it got us a whole row in the theater to ourselves, who am I to complain? (well, I was nice enough to leave my jacket on!).

Yeah, this marathon training isn't all about the running, although finally, finally that part became fun. It's about pushing on to do something you thought you knew you couldn't do. It's about realizing that with enough motivation and great friends you can accomplish anything. Most of all, it's about knowing with 100% certainty that I can't is your own personal limitation, not necessarily a fact. Anyone with working legs and reasonably good health can do this if they want to... ya just gotta want it, and ya just gotta do it.

Oh, and the perks? I'm not gonna lie, I'm lovin' my legs these days!!! My running buddies bodies are looking pretty phenomenal too! We were talking about a theme song for our little group and one suggested, "Fat Bottom Girls"... I voted no for that, cuz there aren't any, and these butts are all tighter than they've probably ever been! So yeah... the body perks pretty much rock!

Five more weeks till D-Day! Or shall I say SD-Day? On May 31, my girls and I are running the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon together. We know we're gonna finish, we probably aren't gonna win (HA!) but we will finish!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a difference a couple days makes...

Not health-wise, nothing is better for my dad there... doctors are still working on being able to install the shunt. The geriatric doctor gave the go-ahead for surgery, but they need to have three good spinal taps before installing it. The first one failed when no fluid was extracted - may have hit scar tissue from an old back surgery. So phyically, nothing has gotten better, doesn't seem to have gotten substantially worse.

My attitude and outlook is where the difference is. I got my anger and frustration out and I can now look ahead with a clearer vision. I can't change the outcome, I can't control the universe... but now I can control my reaction to it. I am, for now, centered.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pain... sadness... I don't know what to call this...

Too many things going on in my head... too many stresses, too much pain. I thank God for a forum in which I can write, because otherwise, I truly feel my soul would shatter.

I planned to write on April 3rd. I always get the urge to write on that date because it was my mother's birthday. In church the Sunday before, instead of listening to the readings, I scribbled numbers. I needed to know how old my mother would have been this April 3rd. She would have been 76. She died at age 42, when I was 10 years old, of colon cancer. Being 10 at the time, I really didn't know what was going on with her, all I knew was one day she went into the hospital, and very soon thereafter she died. I didn't know then about the surgery, about the military refusing to pay for her care at the university hospital once they deemed her "terminal" or my father's guilt over not being able to afford $800 per day in care. I didn't know that the transport back to the military hospital likely hastened her death. I didn't know that the time my father allowed me to stay the night at a friend's house instead of going to the hospital was my last chance to see her alive.

What I did know is that my world as I knew it ended on September 21, 1975. My 10 year old mind didn't know how to cope, so I did the only thing I knew to do. I put a shell around my heart to keep it from shattering, and since I had figured out how to protect myself, I set about protecting those around me. People around me felt the need to comfort me. I knew they needed to do this, so I would give them a little time, allow the appropriate noises to be made, thank them, demonstrate how they'd helped me, then move on. I didn't want comfort from them - I honestly didn't think they had anything to offer me. But I accepted their offerings graciously to make them feel better, and did what I needed to do.

I let my sister have the crying time she needed and comforted her. I stayed strong so as not to add additional stress onto my dad's shoulders. I returned casserole dishes, thanked loved ones, stayed out of the way, and finished parenting myself. My father never neglected me, he loved and cared for all three of us kids living at home to the best of his ability, and he did a wonderful job of it. I knew I was loved, but I thought I knew that it would be best if I didn't add anything to his already heavy load. So I chose to be "the easy" one.

The life pattern began at that point.

For the next almost 34 years I have continued that pattern. Yes, I ask for comfort when I need it so bad I feel I can't bear it. I have wonderful friends as well as a few of my siblings that I call when I just can't any more. They comfort me, and as they do, I wait for an indication that perhaps they've been listening long enough, and I make the appropriate "finished whining" noises, and move back into my upbeat mode. Were they really tired of listening? I don't know. Probably not. But I don't want to be a burden, so I cut it short, suck it up, make the appropriate noises, and move back to the positive one they know.

(note: I've never told them this, don't know if I ever will, so don't tell on me!)

The biggest problem with this behavior is that there's never full relief of the pain. I thank God for my writing. Without the ability to untangle the emotional knots through "writing it out" I truly feel I wouldn't survive. These blogs, tangled as they are, help me to sort through pain in a way no human being has yet to do.

When I write out my pain, it's all about me and what I need at the moment. There's no one saying, "Well, let me tell you about my life, my pain, my situation". It can be all about me for a short time, and people have a choice whether to read/listen or not. I don't have the guilt of burdening someone else with my problems...

So here's my pain relief.

Over the past few years my family has seen my father's health deteriorate. There's not any one diagnosis, it's a horrible mish-mash of shit that has changed my father from the fishing, basketball playing, card playing, fun man he was, to a shell who sleeps 20 hours a day, can't walk, talk or feed himself and is dependent on others for every physical need.

Parkinson's. Dementia. Muscle Atrophy. Muscle stiffness. All part of whatever it is that's going on in his body. Newest diagnosis: hydroencephalus. Fluid on the brain. Diagnosed because experimental spinal fluid draining caused marked improvement. A brilliant neurosurgeon in Macon, Georgia wanted to take things one step further, found hydroencephalus to be likely and is hoping to install a permanent shunt to drain spinal fluid. Permanent because while each draining has caused marked improvement, as the fluid builds up again he gets worse.

A few weeks ago it was seizures. Not the thrashing kind, but the "asleep but can't wake him up" kind. Recently he's "forgotten how to swallow" and had to have a feeding tube put in his stomach. The hope is that it can come out once the shunt is put in, because they feel he'll be able to swallow again, and possibly even walk with assistance.

He was supposed to be admitted today for the shunt. No one told my family he needed to be off his blood thinners prior to surgery. Delay while they get those damn things out of his system, then they have to do three spinal taps to see how he reacts. Hoping for surgery Thursday or Friday.

The neurosurgeon said today he won't do the surgery unless my dad's geriatric doctor gives clearance, because he's so weak there is concern he won't survive. So that conversation takes place tomorrow.

As a family, per my father's wishes, it has been long decided that no "extraordinary" measures to keep our dad alive would be taken. Is this shunt extraordinary? I don't think so. It may or may not prolong his life, but the hope is not to prolong, but to give him a bit more quality and comfort. When the doctor discussed "quality of life", "next steps", etc. in my father's presence, thinking he couldn't understand, or was asleep - his blood pressure shot up about 30 points. Fear? Frustration? Anger? We don't know... but it's apparent to us that his mind comprehends, it's only that he can't communicate it. So as my brother said, if the doctor gives permission, we have to have the shunt installed. It may work and give him back the ability to eat, smile, maybe to say, "I love you", and maybe it won't. Either way, we tried.

So... everything leads to this.

I'm going to lose my other parent soon.

My instinct is to think about my stepmom losing her husband of 30 years, my siblings losing their father, the grandkids losing their grandfather, and worry about how they're going to cope. But right now, in this forum, for a few more minutes, I'm going to cry about what I'm about to lose.

My father and I weren't extremely close when I was growing up. I was "mom's girl" when she was alive, and for all intents and purposes I shut down after she died. I didn't need a parent, and in many ways, probably didn't allow my dad to be the father he was capable of. But I knew he loved me, and he knew I loved him. Over years our good relationship became even better. I always had a very healthy respect for his position as parent, and we never had father/daughter fights or anything like that. One thing I knew was that regardless of what decisions I made in life, whether he agreed or not, he would love me and accept my choice. I was the first in my family to get divorced (and the second one, too!!) He never judged me, just accepted my way of life. I knew he was okay with it when he made a joking comment, "You know Kim, maybe you just aren't meant to be married!" I laughed, because my Bible College attending, former assistant pastor, married 'til death parted Dad was okay with the fact that I had been divorced twice and was living with a man I wasn't married to. He was okay with it because he loved me. He saw me make bad relationship choices, and when they fell apart, he never said, "I told you so"... he just kept on loving me.

I was blessed this past summer to help my stepmom get my dad from California where they were staying to Arizona to see his doctor so they could see what was going on and consider next steps. I stayed with my dad while my stepmom ran errands. While she was gone he had a particularly lucid time. During this time I was able to thank him for being such a wonderful father to us all and for loving us the way he did. I was able to tell him, and know with 100% certainty that he understood, how much I loved him. I heard him say, "I love you too, Honey" just like he always did when I was hurting. So I have no regrets that things were left unsaid... they were said, and they've always been known.

I'm sad that my wonderful father is dying soon. I'm pissed because he's only 73. I'm sorry he won't see my grandchild. I'm upset that I probably won't be there when he goes.

I've had some time to get my mind around losing him... but it's not making it any easier. My logical mind is accepting it, somewhat... my emotional mind is railing against the injustice.

I want to escape... I want to cry until I feel full and total release... I want to throw things and smash things... I want to explode... I want to scream...

I want to hear the one thing that will take away all the pain... but there's no such thing.

I don't want to hurt... I don't want to say goodbye... I don't want to deal with it at all... I just want it to all go away...

Monday, March 16, 2009


with those who have no soul...
no depth...
no passion.

with those who seek nothing...
accept status quo...
never question
never search...

with those who pass up opportunity...
pass up growth
pass up knowledge...

with those who do not embrace...
all that is
all that could be...

I'm bored.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Amazing Weekend...

I had the most wonderful weekend last week. Imagine if you will, eleven (yes, 11!) women together in a cabin in Donnelly, Idaho. Imagine the laughter, the sharing, the sisterhood... the absolute joy in each others' presence.

I don't remember how it started, the idea for this weekend, all I remember is saying, "Sure! I'll go to McCall in March with you all!" Before I knew it, the planning emails were flying as we all received our shopping and activity assignments. We were pretty excited, because this would be the first time since February 6th that we would see our "L'il General" Lola.

Lola had spent the last weeks recovering from her Valentine's Day kidney removal. She had volunteered to donate a kidney for a co-worker's daughter who had been on dialysis for several years. Long story short, a better matching donor was found (who unfortunately fell ill and that donation didn't go through) but Lola, having gone that far, chose to donate to an unknown recipient. She doesn't see herself as a hero... we beg to differ.

So, along with Lola, the wonderful women in attendance were: Theresa (our ultra-marathoner and the sweetest, most soft spoken woman I know), Michelle (Theresa's amazing friend from Corvallis), Char (deliberate, analytical, warm-hearted teacher), Paola (the Argentinian firecracker with constant smiles), Dodi (the sweet, compassionate teacher), Angie (the exuberant, loving engineer), Holly (the young one, and such a beautiful soul!), Karyn (my longtime, gracious, warm-hearted friend), Shellee (another longtime great friend and my "wife"), and me.

We were fortunate to have the loan of Theresa's friend's four bedroom, three bathroom "cabin" outside Donnelly. The word "cabin" is definitely an understatement, so we nicknamed it the "Cabin Mansion". We spent the weekend drinking wine, eating wonderful meals, snowshoeing in pristine white powder, soaking in the hot springs at Gold Fork, and sledding down the powdery hill right outside our door. We also spent a wonderful evening sharing... which is the inspiration for this blog posting.

Friday night, as we sat around the fireplace relaxing with a glass of wine, Lola asked us all to share two of our strengths and one of our weaknesses. After someone shared, we just naturally fell into a pattern of affirming and uplifting that person. It was a beautiful thing to hear women talk about what they saw as good and beautiful about themselves. Compassion, honesty, loving and helping seemed to be the strengths we had in common. Lack of self-esteem, unfortunately, seemed to be a far too common thread among the weaknesses. My hope is that the affirmations helped lessen that.

Somehow, I ended up the last to share. I had had a stressful week. The housing stimulus bill details came out, and I was very upset (I'm saving that for my blog at, I had been stressing about my friends in danger of losing their jobs (I know far too many people at Micron), my business was extremely slow (being full commission, if I don't close loans, I don't get paid), and I was feeling overwhelmed. That morning, one of my clients called me to tell me he had been laid off at Micron. He then shared that his wife was due to deliver their second child end of March. She being a teacher, has an income, but he was feeling like a failure for not being able to provide for his family, and he was scared. Other friends of mine, one of whom was at our retreat, also were without jobs and in grave danger of losing their homes.

I tried to share a strength... I got out the words, "I truly care..." and broke down sobbing. I do not cry in front of people. My friends see me as the always up, always encouraging, always positive one. I couldn't do it any more. I couldn't fix it all, and I couldn't bear it. The words, "I can't take any more..." came out amid the sobs and gasps for air...

I felt love surround me... words of comfort... some embraced me, some touched me, but all loved me.

Some of the women I knew well, some I was just getting to know. At that moment, I knew I would love them forever.

This is how it is with wonderful, amazing, beautiful women. It's safe, it's loving, it's comforting and accepting. I think it's a bit like Heaven.

Oh, and the weakness I shared? Well... I did share that I'd been told by a chaplain I worked with that I have a bit of a "Messiah Complex"... feeling it's my calling to make the world right for everyone. Given the fact that my coach agreed with that wholeheartedly (and I admit, they're right to an extent), I guess I'd better work on that!

Monday, February 16, 2009

yeah, I have a weird sense of humor!

Having "celebrated" Valentine's Day on Friday, and said valentine being occupied with dad biz, I was happily dateless this February 14th. Had the girlfriend offers of "let's go downtown and go dancing", etc. but after a super busy day consisting of a seven mile run and a chick flick with my daughter, I just didn't feel like doing anything but vegging in the peace and quiet of my house.

BUT! I just had to go to the grocery store! My cats were whining for their canned food (spoiled damn babies!)

So, I made my way to Winco and plopped the following in my cart:

Cat food
Red wine
Assorted Lean Cuisine meals
Frozen egg rolls
Two mystery novels
and assorte other "stuff"

It struck me as I put my bags in the back of my car...

How hilariously single-woman/spinsterish my purchases were!

So I sat in my car and just LAUGHED! I laughed 'til tears were rolling down my cheeks! I laughed at how my cart looked!

The poor single woman on Valentine's Day going home to her cats, to eat her plastic-dished dinner all alone with a bottle of wine and a book...

Good thing I didn't buy a box of Kleenex while I was there!