If you feel anger and frustration, don’t let that be diminished – maybe that is God’s image reflected through you. And when you feel a connection to someone different, someone the world tells us doesn’t deserve love, don’t dismiss it. Don’t ignore it. Love.
There is a time to be quiet but there’s a time to speak out. There is grace in fighting against injustice. There is dignity in speaking when no one wants to listen.
Our collective anger can bring about behavioral change. If we all stood for what was right and decent, then maybe, just maybe calling out racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, all the isms would bring about social change.
If we don’t speak up, the same old disgusting behavior continues and then we are just as bad as the ones perpetuating it.
The summer before my senior year in college, I had the easiest job. It paid a decent hourly rate while only requiring me to be on the telephone trying to recruit PTs, SLPs, and other acronyms to work at short term nursing facilities. My boss, who happened to be the big boss, was this 50 something year old charming north shore white man. He happened to be a dad to kids around my age. I thought he was pretty cool as he liked to chit chat with his staff about random things. One day he asked me to help him with something. I followed him to the darkly lit dingy parking garage of this north shore building. We stood by his car and he talked to me about my grades, my summer break, blah blah. Then the clincher. “You know, this job is something you could probably do during the school year since you really just need a phone and we can send you lists.” I remember thinking, “heck yes! That would be awesome. I knew he was so cool!” He then said, “of course, if you want to keep the job, you’ll have to have sex with me and my brother.”
And there it was. How much more blatant can sexual harassment in the work place be?
I was freaking lucky to be a semi fast runner and thought I could outrun him if needed. I was lucky that I couldn’t hide my thoughts from touching my face. I was lucky that he didn’t actually make a move to touch me. I was lucky to not be desperate to keep my job to actually live life. I was lucky that if I needed to, I could have easily found other employment if I had tried. I was lucky the conversation quickly ended and he let me go back upstairs and back to my desk. I was lucky that I was so uncomfortable walking in front of him going up the stairs that I leered at him and he said, “don’t worry, I won’t touch you” and I knew it to be true. And I was lucky that the other staff (there were only 6 of us besides him) had started seeing the gross way he and his brother (who was co-owner) would come talk to me. (Like, they would come and whisper shit in my ear.)
But guess what. Not one person. Not one of them stood up for me. Not one. Not one person confronted him. Nope. And I was stupid. And I wanted to get paid. So I kept working there. I pretended it didn’t happen even though I started wearing giant sweaters (in the dead of Chicago summer) to work. I stopped showering before work. I stopped chit chatting with them. I never was alone- I even stopped using the bathroom. I tried to keep my head down. Like any and all of these things were reasons and therefore, my fault that my 50 something year old boss and his just as old brother wanted to have sex with me and said so if I wanted to keep the job into the school year.
But, I was fortunate that summer. (Lucky. Fortunate. For some reason I can’t think of a better word. Christians- don’t even get me started on saying I was blessed. As if to say those that were actually sexually assaulted were not blessed.) Because nothing physically happened to me, unlike the thousands and millions of other people that were sexually assaulted that summer. I was stupid and kept going back. I was stupid and pretended that whole incident never happened. But you know what? The people around me? They were stupid for sitting back and never saying anything.
This is why I won’t shut up. I won’t shut up about any of it. There are clear standards to being a decent human being- no matter who you are. And standing up and speaking out for people- that’s all I ever want when I’m feeling vulnerable or alone. A nod, an – I see you . You are NOT alone, and it’s not your fault. People are NOT invisible. One person is no more valuable than another.
I cannot even think about the what ifs that will happen in my girls’ lives. It breaks my heart to think about the evil things in this world that lurk around every corner. I can only raise them to stand up and speak up for themselves and those who people refuse to hear. I can only show them how to be decent human beings who love God and love people. I mean, really LOVE them.
So if it isn’t clear, let me be clear. It is not ok. It is not ok to speak about people- no matter their religion, their race, their ethnicity, their sexual orientation, their gender, their age… the way that Trump has from the very beginning of his campaign. It is disgusting. It is vile. I don’t care what side of the political pendulum you swing, he is not ok. And if we don’t stand against his hateful rhetoric, we are perpetuating the behavior and belief that we are not all created equal.
I have never written a race report before – I’ve done many races, but never an Ironman. This is mostly for me – so I remember as much as I can.
So here it goes.
8 HOURS, yo. That’s an entire freaking work day. I was out there on that bike fighting every bit of the head wind, self doubt, and self pity. It was a pretty terrible ride. I cried, I sobbed, I tried to do math (and got really confused) to figure out if I would make the half way bike cut off and then again for the final bike cut off. The second time I saw my family I just looked at them and cried because I had to do the damn loop one more time. My lower back was killing me, my right quad was spazzing out, but I fought. I rode every dang hill except for the Barlow wall (because the first time I tried climbing that in August, I fell over so thought it was smarter and faster to walk). Ain’t no shame in my walking game.
I saw them at the end of loop 2 – the start of the 14/15 mile stick back to Madison and looked at my watch and knew I was golden. I laughed hysterically those 14/15 miles – because, what do you know? I was going to make the bike cut off.
Then I saw and heard Sean. We hugged and he told me how proud he was of me and he told me to go! I started sobbing and jogged towards the lights. I didn’t hear anything distinguishable. Not Mike Reily announcing me as an Ironman (I had to re-watch the finish video like 10 times), not any of my family or friends calling out my name. It was just me, some screaming, and some lights. And I thanked the Lord for getting me through the journey.
The nerves. It’s kind of debilitating. I should be going through course maps, starting to pack, looking up what to do and when to do it. But every time I start, I get so nervous I have to take a pee break. Ok, fine. Poo break, ok?
As time nears – 11 days. ELEVEN. I think about all that I have done these last several months – since January when I began clean eating (that lasted like 90 days) and 100 days of running. I think about the time, the miles, the self-talks. All the things. And I am in awe. I am in awe of what my body has been capable of doing. I am in awe of what my brain has told my body to do – and it’s followed through. Now, clearly, I still have the entire race to do – but let’s just pretend for one minute (because, poo breaks, remember?) that I’ll totally finish the race.
I am thankful. Thankful for this body. Thankful for this opportunity. Thankful for everyone who has donated to Team World Vision on my behalf (I reached my $$ goal: clean water for 100 individuals, for a lifetime, yo). I am thankful for my coach, my team, my friends, and thankful for my family.
I am THANKFUL for my husband. For a husband who is so incredibly busy #surgeoning but one who has been the most supportive and the most encouraging. 16 years ago when we started dating, we didn’t have these goals, we didn’t know this about ourselves and each other. But here we are, 16 years later – supporting one another in the best way possible. Speaking truth and love to one another when our self doubts and fears creep in. You guys. I have all the emotions. Amp that up by a thousand and there’s me in the thick of it. How this man can even understand a word I am saying is beyond me. But he does. And he combats my crazy and my ugly. I love him so – he and our babes, they are the best of me.
In 11 days when I start that race? I’ll be thinking of him. I’ll be thinking of our children. I’ll be thinking of (all the things because it might just take me all 17 hours, that is, if I finish) how God has showered me with so much love in my life. So many opportunities. So many dreams. So many goals. I cannot wait to reach that finish line. I cannot wait to celebrate this massive goal with the ones I love the most. I cannot wait to lay down and eat everything and not get up for a week (just kidding, kids). I cannot wait to get my obligatory tattoo and then stash my wetsuit and bike away (possibly for years). I cannot wait. Because in eleven days, at 7am, I start the biggest physical, mental, and emotional challenge of my life (aside from #parenting, of course). And my truest loves will be there for me and with me.
“an act of terror and an act of hate”
That’s what this is.
Yesterday morning, when I learned of what happened, I sat in silence. I watched my two girls play, giggle, make a mess of things around me. I thought about the lives that were brutally taken. I thought about the families who lost their loved ones all too soon. I thought about the moms and dads. I thought about the hate that must have been burning in the gunman. The hate that was so much and so big that he went and opened fire and murdered and injured over 100 individuals at an LGBTQ night club. I thought about the hate and ignorance from people who immediately began to disparage and belittle.
A day later and while there are a million things running through my head – as I read posts about this massacre, this hate crime. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m afraid. I’m sorry. So incredibly sorry. I’m sorry for both communities – for my dear LGBTQ family and friends. An entire group, community was attacked, but let’s be clear, this group is attacked every day. Each time we say something homophobic. In a world that allows laws to be made based on fear and hate of a group of people. It happens every day.
For my dear Muslim family and friends – who at every turn feel like they need to make sure strangers know that they are not the radical Islam the media and our culture blankets them with. For folks who fear for their lives because of how they dress or who they praise.
I’m so sorry that we have bred a world that hates anyone and everyone that is different. I’m so sorry that we judge and fear and vilify you. I’m sorry that the hatred is so real that while two communities are devastated, we disgustingly make idiotic comments about abominations and guns and God’s will.
Because, the God that I believe, he loves. He loves Every. Single. One. Of us – JUST as we are.
So, in my response that will for sure fall short – I want to talk. I want to hold. Secondary trauma is real, so I am here.
And finally, let’s not just react. Let’s not just put out these fires. Let’s be proactive. This shouldn’t happen. Let’s stand up for policies and laws that protect. Let’s stand in solidarity with every group that is attacked and marginalized. Let’s shout for those who cannot be heard. Let’s love. Because, LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE IS LOVE.
About a mile away from home. Probably less than that. Just sitting here in the grass. Crying a little behind my shades. In my running gear. A big salty mess.
I sent a friend a message, “omg. I’m going to pass out”. A friend that gets my crazy. You see, Sean’s home with both girls and everyone’s napping. Sean just got home from working 32(?) hrs at county trauma (gun control, please.) so I could go out and do my run for the day. Just a short one- but a hard one.
A few minutes after stopping I felt like puking and passing out. For a hot second I thought, maybe that balloon in my head blew and I’m actually dying. And then I started to cry because I scared myself. Such an idiot. Anyhow, messaged a friend in case I did go missing, I wanted someone to know that I passed out. But in case it was nothing, didn’t want to wake Sean from his first sleep in over 32 hours.
Omg. These are the crazy things that go through my head.
Surgeon’s wife. Sounds so glamorous. But for those that live this- particularly with little ones at home, you know that sometimes it feels more like residency widow (Sean HATES when I say that. Sorry babe.). But yesterday, yesterday as I sat at work waiting for a phone call from Sean to hear where he matched for fellowship, I realized this was it – this was why it’s worth it. It is these moments of tangible success, tangible celebration (for me). Because I don’t understand the successes in the OR (whipple what?). I don’t understand the celebrations of a seamless list run-through (is that even what they call it in the morning when they do rounds?). But this, this fellowship match. This, I understand.
Sean and I married almost 10 years ago. TEN. We married the summer before he started med school and I was starting my masters of social work program. I finished that same school year. He finished 4 years later and now is entering his seventh and last year of general surgery residency. Yesterday, he matched at Stanford for his cardiothoracic surgery fellowship – which is another 2 years. So basically, all of our married life, he’s been in training.
I say this all the time. It’s because I MEAN IT. I don’t know how anyone does this. I don’t understand what is in each of these doctors that pushes them to do this day in and day out. Year after year. After year. I have to believe that this is their calling – they were put on this earth to do this incredibly intelligent, beautiful, life giving, hard work. Because I see Sean. I see him work harder than anyone I know. I saw him go to school, I saw him study HOURS on end – I still see him study for cases. I see him get up at 4am. I see him get home sometimes past 11pm. I see him switch days and nights for different services. I see him lose weight on busy services. I see him come home after 7pm, give all of his attention to his girls, and then work on presentations or write book chapters/articles after everyone is in bed. I see him not get to eat or drink during the work day because there are patients to be seen and cared for. I see his hurting eyes when a patient isn’t doing well. I see his eyes light up when the girls want nothing more than to be held by their daddy. I see him.
You know, I take doctors for granted. I have sat in quite a few offices these last several months. I get annoyed if they’re late. I get irritated if I can’t schedule something during my window of free time. But then I remind myself that these doctors, they are someone’s family. Duh. Because Sean has a family. He has 3 girls. And we miss him. All. The. Time. But as his life partner and mother to his children, I would not change his job, his career, his path, his calling. For anything.
A couple weeks ago, I was irritated that it was 9pm and Sean wasn’t home yet – he was on a service where he was typically home by 7pm the latest. So, of course this night, I made plans for us to go do something. (NEVER MAKE PLANS because those are the days that end up with emergency cases.) I don’t even remember what time Sean got home that night – but he so kindly told me that a patient came in with a major issue and it was the right thing to do to stay and assist this patient. (Have I told you how ethical this man is?) That’s the kind of doctor I want. That’s the kind of doctor/person/dad/husband Sean is.
Let’s be honest though, this isn’t easy. I sincerely hope no one thinks being a doctor or marrying a doctor makes life easier (financially or otherwise. He’s a resident, people. And we have a MOUNTAIN of debt.). Adding our precious little people into the mix makes it all the more hard (much more enjoyable too). O says things like, “where is daddy”, “is he working? again?”, “i miss my daddy”. These are hard sentences to swallow. But then there are moments of, “daddy’s a doctor. And when I grow up up up, I’m going to be a doctor”, “daddy is a doctor and he fixes people”, “I’m getting bigger so I can fix people too”. Bless that little GIANT heart. Because that’s exactly right. Daddy is a doctor and he fixes people. Literally, cuts them open and works some magic with those hands and brain and breathes new life. I don’t question for a second – I absolutely know that this is what God intended for him. And I could not be more proud, more in love, more grateful for him.