And to you. Because it is someone’s birthday today. Loads of people. But not me. This is from a song by a 90’s band called Cracker. My husband is a fan. When I came home from work the other day complaining about everything and just generally miserable, he played this song for me. And it made me feel better.
It’s about remembering the little things. Being grateful. Appreciating all that you have.
I’m feeling thankful for the small things, today
I’m feeling thankful for the small things, today
Seeing a giant rainbow in the sky
Sitting outside with a steaming hot cup of coffee, my dogs and my chickens
Taking everything out of my bag, organizing it, and putting everything back.
Painting my nails
Running on a nice cool day
Any time with Bobby
Finding folding money in a random pocket
I’m also grateful today for the big things: life, health, love, family, work, food and water. Life is short. Sometimes too short. I don’t want to waste my time dwelling on the negative. Yes, life is tough sometimes. But we persevere. We have to be tougher than the problems we have. Know and believe that our problems are temporary. We ask for help if we need it. Reach out to family and friends when we feel lost and lonely. But one thing we ought not to do is give up. Never give up. So Happy Birthday to you, to me, and here’s to many many more.
I have been a collector of quotes for a very long time. These are the quotes that caught my eye this week:
Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.
I love this quote because it speaks to why I started running and signing up for races in the first place. Growing up, I was never what anyone would call an athlete. I played soccer on a team once and hated (hated. HATED. hated.) it. I also played basketball for a season when I was 11, and called it quits after I broke my finger on the ball. That is not to say that I was not active. I took dance lessons from the age of 4 to about 17. From college and through my 20’s I was active too, but really just coasted by on my genetic fortune: no significant health problems, no surgeries, no injuries. Just enjoying myself, indulging in whatever food and booze I wanted with little repercussion to my health (that I was aware of anyway). I exercised some, but very sporadically. A little yoga here, Pilates there, dabble in a bit of tai chi, maybe join a gym for a few months…you get the idea. As I got into my 30’s, I started paying more attention to my health. I became grateful that I didn’t have any health issues even though I was eating a lot of fast food and sitting on the couch enjoying a cocktail or three (or four). I knew if I wanted to have health and longevity in my future, my habits would have to change.
Enter the Couch to 5K program around the age of 38. Better late than never. It totally worked for me, and provided the basis of years of running and regular exercise. Sometimes I get down on myself for running so slowly or wonder why I still bother with this… and then this quote reminds me why this still needs to matter. Slowly is still better than not at all.
Life is for participating, not for spectating.
I love this quote because what started out as a way to lose weight became something much more than that. It’s a hobby and an outlet for my stress, sure, but it’s also been such a fantastic way to learn more about myself and to push the limits of what I think I can do. Like I said, I’ve never considered myself an athlete, so to sign up for a half marathon or a triathlon is crazy-scary. But then to be able to do all the months of training for it and cross the finish lines of those races is unbelievably fulfilling for me. I’m not just sitting on my couch wishing I was doing something interesting and exciting, I am pushing myself to do those things. And I really do love that feeling.
Plus, I get to see things I would normally miss: a beautiful view, random wildlife (I swear a pair of cardinals followed me on a run one day), visiting a new city for a race (Boston, Hartford, Hampton Beach, next up – Newport)…and then experience the satisfaction of completing something difficult for no other reason than because it is important to me.
And the added bonus? I have the blood pressure of a young kid. What’s not to love about any of that??
Growing some herbs from seeds. It’s a first and I’m so proud! This little chicken seems to like them too.
Rainy bike trail
Swimming at the YMCA
Getting some exercise. A 6 mile run in the rain on Sunday. And a visit to the pool on Monday.
After run glow
My plan Tuesday was to go for a run after school and sign language class, but I neglected to check in with my other half regarding his plans. He had baseball practice after school, which meant I had to get home to take care of the dogs. Ok, Plan B it is! Workout at home – strength circuit from Betty Rocker (squat jumps, single leg squats, push ups, jumping lunges and tricep dips – for 15 minutes), and a 15 minute yoga stretch video. The dogs “helped” by licking my ears and going between my arms in downward dog. Laying down in corpse pose and looking up at the beautiful blue sky and leafy trees was the highlight of my day. I loved that I took the time to see something I normally would not have probably bothered to appreciate.
This was my original plan for the week:
Monday – swim
Tuesday – run
Wednesday – strength
Thursday – run
Friday – rest (out to dinner)
Saturday – bike ride
Sunday – long run (7 miles)
And then life happens. Plans change. It’s important to be flexible and be prepared in case something comes up. In my case, Tuesday’s plans changed; I had to get home. Ok reshuffle the workouts.
Wednesday was up in the air – do I need to get right home after school or can I stay and run then get home later? I packed a running bag in case I can stay and run at school, but if I have to get home then I’ll put my bike trainer in the yard and catch up on some Netflix. Either way works for me.
It’s important to have both a flexible body and a flexible brain. Sometimes Plan A works out, sometimes you have to consider a Plan B, C, or D. The one thing I’m trying not to do is use my schedule snafus as an excuse to skip working out. And of course communicate with my better half so we know each other’s plans. Annnd write my schedule in pencil.
On April 16th I did something I’ve never done before. I ran a 5k blindfolded. It was quite an undertaking, but honestly running blindfolded was the easiest part of the whole endeavor. First, I had to find a guide willing to go through the process with me, which I did (thanks Dulce!!). I was required to raise a significant amount of money ($1,000.00), attend a training session in Boston a week prior to the race, find hotel accommodations the weekend of the Boston Marathon (due to a 7:15 photo shoot at the Boston Common), and then attend a pretty swanky breakfast after the race. It was quite a big undertaking. And a pretty big deal.
The race itself was pretty cool – it took place the Saturday before the Boston Marathon, starting on the Common and actually crossing the marathon finish line. It’s a part of the Boston Athletic Association, which puts on a great race. Well organized, lots of volunteers, swag tents, finisher medals, timed start waves, and security. Lots of security. Overall there were about 10,000 runners and 30 of us were blindfolded.
What I learned from this experience is that it’s not that difficult to run without the use of vision. It helps to have a guide, obviously. And from there it was pretty simple: I just ran until Dulce told me to stop. Actually I think it might have been easier because I couldn’t check my watch for my time. I I didn’t have the scenery to distract me, but I found it easier to get into the flow of running. Instead of feeling tense and scared I felt calm and meditative. I trusted my guide as we’ve run many, many races together and I knew she’d get me safely across the finish line.
The goal was not to set a personal record. The goal was to raise $1,000.00 as required by agreeing to do this. That was the real challenge. I don’t like fundraising, but I have very generous family and friends. Thankfully. I am so grateful to everyone who helped me do this. I also wanted to help my sister’s school and the other associations that help the blind in Massachusetts. I’m really proud to say altogether altogether the Blindfold Challengers raised $31,000.00 for Perkins School for the Blind, MA Association of the Blind, and the National Braille Press. That’s going to help a lot of people.
My sister and I are pretty close. Even though there’s 80 miles between us we spend a lot of time together. And I’m always searching for ways to understand her experience in the world a little more. I know I can’t, really, but I don’t think that’s a good reason not to try. A long time ago I learned American Sign Language (ASL) so we can communicate. I’ve been working with deaf students for the past 13 years or so, and my interest in the field is the result of growing up with my sister. I’ve always focused on her deafness and not so much on her blindness. But how she sees the world is just as important to understanding her as how she communicates in the world.
And since I’m sharing, the other big reason I chose to do this is that my grandmother died a few months ago at the age of 99 1/2. Right before Christmas actually. She was immensely important to me and to so many who were lucky enough to know her. She and my sister were incredibly close. That’s an understatement. They had a bond. When the opportunity arose to run blindfolded to help my sister’s school, I knew participating in it would make my Gram so proud.
So thank you to my family, friends, mom, sister, grandmother, and Dulce my sighted guide for helping me to achieve this goal. It was quite an undertaking and I never could have done it without the support from all these wonderful people. I am grateful to everyone and so humbled by the experience. And thank you to my grandmother. I heard you cheering from heaven.