Speak up

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.

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Ironman Wisconsin Race Report

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.

9/11/2016
I got a decent amount of sleep. I’m not sure how I was so calm, but I was. I think I fell asleep around 1030pm and slept until 2:45am. My alarm was set for 3:15am. Around 3:10, I finally got up and ate my already made PB&J, starting drinking water and gatorade. Got dressed, pooped, took my social media photo. Put in my headphones and dialed into my church, Soul City’s, Sunday Worship Spotify station. I started praying, I prayed over every aspect of the day; from the water to transition 1, the bike, transition 2, and the run. I prayed for safety, I prayed for peace, I prayed for focus, and I prayed for endurance. As the clock turned to 3:30am, I woke Sean up and then I started to freak out. There was something about that hour before everyone else got up – it was just me and my head. I needed it.
Sean got up, smiled at me and said, “today’s the day!”. I freaked out.
We woke the girls, got our things together and headed downstairs. We met up with Sean’s parents (bless them for starting their morning at 2am) and took the bus that shuttled us to the race start. It was surreal. We were on the bus with the rest of the Team World Vision group – I still couldn’t wrap my head around the day ahead.
Thank goodness for this group – I was able to stay calm through dropping off my special needs bags, last minute additions to my transition bags and checked on my bike (thank you, Matt for lending me your bike pump and then pumping up my bike because I wasn’t functioning!).
Something meaningful to me – the rally and prayer we had as a Team World Vision group. It really helped continue the tone of prayer and worship for me. I parted ways with Sean, the girls, and my in-laws and headed out towards the lake.
SWIM: 1:32:05
Somehow I ended up with a couple of TWV people at the beginning of the swim start waiting area. They started letting people into Lake Monona at 630am! That would mean treading water for 30 mins before the start of the race. I had a minor freak out. I can’t float on my back (or swim on my back) as it makes me extremely dizzy – this has been a new issue this year. So I stood at the shallow end (out of the way) for about 5 mins and decided I’m too excited to stay out of the water and headed into the lake.  I ended up towards the ski/boat (?) ramp and stayed towards the front of the pack (I wasn’t really thinking). Those 20 something minutes before the cannon went by fairly quickly, it was amazing to see the swimmers, green caps and pink caps begin to fill in every single inch of the start area.
The cannon went off and there we went. It was ridiculous. That’s almost an understatement. I was expecting to get hit a bit here and there, but I’m talking, clawed at, elbowed, pulled… I swam towards the inside of the buoys. I was able to get comfortable and focus on my strokes, pulls, and sighting. Occasionally, someone would get a little close and I’d get kicked or knocked (OMG, I did get kicked in the mouth and dear Lord thought I was going to lose my new fake teeth! And thought I’d have a toothless grin throughout the race!). At one point, I got really annoyed of one guy who literally swam back and forth in front of me – perpendicular to me! I ended up stopping and yelling at him that he was swimming diagonally and he needed to sight better. He got mad and kicked me in the boob. Seriously? So. Lame.
As we swam back towards shore, I got super excited because I was pretty sure I was doing well (I forgot to mention someone knocked into my garmin watch and it was on triathlon mode so while swimming, I had to click through each set (bike, T2, run), save, and restart triathlon mode to record the rest of my swim). I can’t add or do any sort of math while swimming, biking, and running… so you know, I wasn’t exactly sure how well I was doing. OH! And I mastered how to pee WHILE swimming – best new skill ever. I peed so much that I didn’t have to stop to go after the swim. SCORE!
T1: 0:09:19
I ran up the helix after the wet suit strippers (best volunteers EVER), got through T1 by myself because all the volunteers were helping others. Nothing too memorable here, except I saw lots of butts. Made me feel better about my shorts change for T2.
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Photo Credit: Mike Poulos

I ran out and immediately heard my name called, the Poulos family! I didn’t think anyone would be there cheering for me as I told Sean and fam to head to Verona so I could see them around mile 15 on the bike. It was the BEST ever to finally hear MY name called over all the shouts and cheers.
Bike: 08:08:14
From the very start of the bike, I kind of felt off. Like my butt was uncomfortable already and seriously, I had 112 miles to go. Saw a bunch of TWV folks, got passed by lots of people (and kept telling myself that means I passed them in the swim! SCORE!), tried to keep my head down and keep pedaling.
I saw Sean, the girls, in-laws, and Bob & Emily (they are some of the best cheerers out there – they’ve come to a bunch of Chicago Triathlons and now the Ironman to cheer for me) at the beginning of loop 1, the end of loop 1, and the end of loop 2. I saw TWV and Trimonster folks, and the Poulos family (they were volunteering at the Mt. Horeb aid station) randomly throughout the course and it was such a boost.
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Photo Credit: Chris Navin

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 tend to talk a lot when I’m biking to pass the time. I asked Jesus to literally be my back, my legs, my feet, my arms. I went through hours of loneliness as people passed me by. I thought terrible thoughts of how and when I could just stop – like getting hit by a car so I had an actual excuse to stop (I seriously thought this. Did I mention I am a little crazy?) I thought about what I would say if I didn’t make the time cut offs. Then I started seeing these fuzzy caterpillars. A LOT of them. They all seemed to  be crossing the road during the last couple hours of my ride. I swear, Jesus put those nasty thing on the road for me – we had just gone camping with the girls and saw a ton of them and each time we would stop to talk about them, try to pet them (NOT me), and talk about butterflies. If you know my girl, Olivia, she has been fighting this FEAR of bugs and has finally gotten through it, for the most part, this summer. So the caterpillars made me think about the girls and Sean. And they are my anchor, my confidence.
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Photo Credit: Emily Wightman

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.

Looking back, things went pretty smoothly on the bike. My chain did fall off once. It happened to fall exactly when a Trek bike support car was passing by and they jumped out and put it back on within 30 seconds. I literally didn’t even have time to freak out. The only other time I got off my bike was at the top of one hill because my right quad was spazzing out so I stretched it out for a minute and then at special needs for a couple minutes to pour extra gatorade in one of my bottles, take a swig of warm coke, and switch out my nutrition. I told the volunteers there were lots of goodies in my stupid bag and they should eat it all (What in the world was I thinking? Like I was going to have time for a picnic of beef jerky, twix, coke, and funyons?).
T2: 00:05:33
 I dismounted off my bike while a sweet volunteer held onto it for me. He made sure I could walk upright. The minute I got off I started sobbing. Like uncontrollable. I don’t exactly remember why, I think between the pain, the joy, the relief… I immediately saw Bob, Emily, and my sweet training bud Lydia (who was supposed to do this race with me but was sidelined by injuries this year). I literally wept in Lydia’s arms.
I felt like I needed to rush (because, math, and I can’t do it), so I ran into T2, had a volunteer grab my bag and headed into the changing area. I apologized to her and changed my shorts and seriously, if I had time, I would have lit a match and watched those shorts go up in flames. My butt hurt SO bad. I quickly got my things together and ran out of there. And that sweet volunteer reminded me to take off my bike gloves (I had forgotten during the Chicago Triathlon and had to hang onto them the entire run). I stopped to get sunscreen sprayed on my shoulders and arms and the port-o-pot. I peed for like 2 minutes straight. I had tried to pee several times out on the bike but just couldn’t relax enough. And I thought I was chasing the clock so didn’t want to stop to pee. How in the world do people do that? That’s a skill I’ll need to learn: pee while cycling.
Run: 06:32:14
Now, this run time is hard for me to write. I went into this race thinking I would run most of the marathon, but it just didn’t work out that way. My plan was to jog every mile and walk through every aid station. That worked out for the first half of the run.
Immediately coming out for the run I saw my family. I started sobbing. In fact, I have a photo.
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Photo Credit: Thanks Sean

I think it was just an overwhelming sense of relief, again – PAIN, and the realization I still had to do a marathon. I don’t quite remember. What can I say, I am a very emotional person and emotion = crying for me. I was pretty much an emotional mess. I hope I never forget how hard it was though. That’s why this photo is ginormous and posted here. This whole thing was HARD. I never want to forget.
Sean looked at me and said, “you’re doing it!” or something like that and I gave it a go. Once I started to run, I felt GOOD. I realized that getting off that stupid bike was AMAZING and running was AMAZING!!! I was on a HIGH! I had about 7.5 hours to get through the marathon and I KNEW I could do that even if I walked the whole dang thing.
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Photo Credit: Emily Wightman

So I jogged every mile except for the aid stations for the first 14 or so miles. I had nailed my hydration while cycling so I had to pee every 2-3 miles on the run. Typically, I’d just pee. But seeing as I needed my shoes and socks to not be sloshy for 26.2 miles, I decided port-o-pots were the way to go. I caught up with a TWV pal, Jess (who I am now in love with and too bad she lives in Michigan). We jogged for a while together telling and then re-telling stories of how awful the bike was. We tried doing some math, but you know,  just couldn’t get it right – we were even counting on our fingers. 🙂 Along came Sean and he told us, we could do 19:30 min/miles and still make the finish. Phew! So then we decided to start walking for a little break, because you know, our back and knees hurt – Jess even pointed out while bending over to put Biofreeze on her knees, it hurt her abs. Basically, every single inch of our bodies hurt. That was probably the wrong thing to do – start pointing out what hurt because all of a sudden, the high was gone, and I just hurt. Though, I did point out to Jess that every inch of my body was rock hard (my muscles will probably never be like that again). By this point I could feel blisters forming on the balls of my feet, and how do you avoid making that hurt?
During the run, I saw so many people – my family like 5 or 6 times – Olivia even ran with me for a bit, I saw Trimonster folks, TWV folks, the Pouloses – who are MASTER spectators (and volunteers). It was a LOVE fest.
Let me take a second to just say, as a mom, most of the time, I play a very good supporting role to our family. Our kids, they come first. As a wife to a resident surgeon, I cheer on my husband and we typically work our schedules around his busy schedule. I don’t always thank Sean for cheering me on even though he does this so well. The entire course was spread out – I mean, we covered 140.6 miles in one day. But Sean figured it all out without me being too involved. He made sure I got to see our girls as often as possible throughout the day.  This one day, if nothing else, was a perfect example of his never-ending support.
Anyhow, I stopped taking in water around mile 15ish because I went into a disgusting full port-o-pot (think: splash back) and worried the rest would be the same. Really bad decision – as that for sure sped up my fatigue and soreness. I drank some chicken broth and when it was warm, it was like the best thing in the entire world. At this point, Jess and I were just walking – speed walking, mind you, but walking. Sheila and Michelle, also TWV folks, caught up to us and the four of us were like the dream team, speed walking our way through the darkness that is the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Towards the end, with just a couple miles to go, we were all wincing as we were stomping on our giant blisters that had formed. I ended up spotting Lydia in the darkness and she and I broke away from the actual TWV dream team of 3. We rounded a corner and could hear the madness of the finishers chute. Some random guy started encouraging me and pulling me to start running. So, I started to jog and Lydia joined the spectators.
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Photo Credit: Chris Navin

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.

 

eleven days

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.

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Love

“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 sorry.

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.

 

I’m nuts.

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.

Doctoring

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.

Turning 33.

As I get older, the less I care about what people think. This is such a good thing for me. I’ve always cared WAY too much what people thought of me, of my family, my clothes, my hair, my teeth, my work, my size… everything. I’d like to think as I age, I am becoming wiser.

This last year has been full of lessons on love, grace, and acceptance.

We had the privilege of bringing new life into this world – Lucy Amalia. Our #giantbaby. She is going to be the athlete in the family. This sweet almost 1 year old, she is a strong one (strong in physical strength and will) and she is fearless (likes to jump out of your arms type fearless). Her smile and goofy antics has brought so much joy into our lives. O adores her little sister – and L adores her big sister. To be a witness of their mutual love and adoration often leaves me speechless and in tears. I love their love.

It seems that quite a bit of my 32nd year of life was spent in hospitals and doctors’ offices (and being subjected to weird contraptions that told medical professionals nothing about my passing out condition). Pregnancy and delivery will put you in hospitals and doctors offices. But also, unknown health issues do that to you too. Apparently, as you age, your body decides to think on its own and do weird things. As I started to lose control over what was happening in my brain, I took control over my physical health. I regulated my eating habits and started working out…even more than I already was (yes, I realize how lucky I am that I can do this). I am officially back to my pre-O weight and size. Ok, maybe even pre-pre- O weight and size (although, I really can’t remember what size or weight I used to be, I just know nothing fits). I mentioned before of that quiet dark place I was sitting in, well, taking control over something helped me climb out of it. Think what you will (remember I said I was getting better at not caring?), but taking control over my physical health helped shine some light into my life (don’t worry, I’m still being healthy, ok?).

I hit a low point a couple months ago when my thoughts were centered on death; me dying, S dying, the kids dying… accidents happening… I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about dying and the what ifs: what if we both die and orphan our kids. What if I’m out with the kids and my aneurysm blows, what will happen to the kids. What if my aneurysm blows while I’m swimming and I drown. What if I have a blackout episode while I’m bathing the girls (did you notice they were kind of stinky for a while?). What if. What if. What if.

Friends. Having friends (and the best husband) who are compassionate, understanding, and gifted in counseling. They are gold. They helped me feel normal. They told me my thinking was normal when all I felt was abnormal. They gave me the gift of grace. (You know who you are. I cried to you and said crazy things to you and you loved me. Thank you.)

Because seriously, I’m 32. Ok, 33 tomorrow. But, I’m 33, seemingly healthy, and training for an Ironman. I’ve done everything right (ok, except when I drank too much at a party, slipped and broke my teeth. Remember that? Yup. Still dealing with the aftermath of that. Just add it to the-what the hell list of year 32.) But I care about people, I feed the homeless… I house the homeless. I love my family. I would give my life for my hubs and children and probably other people too. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. (This is me whining.) But aneurysm and weird blackout sessions -they don’t discriminate. They don’t care how great or kind or awesome you are. It just happens. So it’s taken some time, but I’m starting to accept it. I’ve even purchased a medical alert type bracelet (a cool athletic one, mind you). Because if this right posterior cerebral artery brain aneurysm (that’s what it says on said cool bracelet) does blow, I want medical professionals working on me to know and to check that first (I learned this from grey’s anatomy when dereck died. He knew what was wrong but no one else did! He DIED. See, TV is useful.)

So, this is my long drawn out reflection of year 32. Thanking the good Lord for the gift of L, if not for her, this year would have been tainted with awful medical scare memories and thoughts of dying.

But, year 33, please be good to me. Be good to my family, me, and the people I love. (This is me praying, pleading to God, really.) Because truth is, I’m tired. Exhausted. So, let’s pray together that nothing extraordinary happens this year – except that I finish Ironman Wisconsin in less than 17 hours. (Shameless plug, donate here:  http://www.teamworldvision.org/participant/awightman and provide clean water for people – because water is life.)

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Because no post is a good post without a photo of these two loves. Here we are, breathing new life in the everyday life…in San Francisco.