Monthly Archives: November 2015

RRG’s Grateful List

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This time of year can be challenging for many of us.  If you’ve ever been through a holiday season without someone you love, then you know what I mean.  Thanksgiving falls right in the midst of some of those “anniversaries” that aren’t really the kind that you celebrate.  I have an especially hard time with Thanksgiving because the last one that my dad was alive, I was supposed to be at home in Michigan with my family.  But since they had decided to go to Ypsilanti to have the traditional feast in my brother’s college apartment, I decided not to make the drive back to the mitten.  Instead, we spent the day with some of my then husband’s family in the Chicago suburbs.  At some point during the day, I called my family to say Happy Thanksgiving.  I called my dad’s cell phone, but at we talked, I picked up on the fact that it sounded like they were at home.  Puzzled I asked, “Where are you?”  And my worst fear was realized.  They had in fact changed their plans and cooked up the turkey, along with all the other goodies, right at home in EL.  My dad explained that they didn’t think I planned to come home regardless, but I bawled into the phone that I would have been there if I had known they were HOME.  My dad felt terrible.  I felt terrible.  I spent most of the rest of that day feeling sad.  And that is still my association with Thanksgiving.  A few days later, it became clear that if I had been there, it would have been the last time I saw my dad.  Did I want that as my association with Thanksgiving?  Which is worse?  So, all these years later, and I am finally coming to the realization that I may never reconcile that.  I don’t know what to do with Thanksgiving, in that respect, and it’s possible I never will.

In large part, for that reason, I have tried to add a lot of “Happy” to this Thanksgiving week by catching up with several of my friends that I have been neglecting in my chaos of the fall.  On Saturday, the beau and I hosted Friendsgiving at my house.  We made a ham and several friends brought a variety of dishes.  We had wine, champagne that Heather brought, and Fireball soaked cherries.  We had more mashed potatoes than we knew what to do with since Vega made the equivalent of a pound per person.  We had a very rich Reese’s Cheesecake that goes a long way.  Steve was convinced he could eat the entire huge first piece I cut.  He made it about half way. It was a valiant effort.

On Monday I had lunch with my friend, Stephanie, who was my very first friend in the 4th grade.  There is a good chance Brian and I will get together with her and a couple of our other classmates back in the ‘Ville later this week.  Stephanie can make me laugh til my stomach hurts and she can remind me that no matter what things will be ok.

And then today, I had lunch with my sweet friend Jaime.  She is a ray of sunshine in a sometimes dark world, and she always shows up in my life right when I need her.  Today was no exception.  We both have a tough time with the holidays.  She lost her dad a little more than a year ago and her story is absolutely tragic.  But her strength and resolve to overcome the unthinkable, inspires me to keep shining the light.

We caught up on all the happenings in our busy lives, talked about our plans for the holiday and we talked about my impending trip to Nicaragua that is edging ever closer.  I mentioned that there was no coincidence in the timing of this trip.  When I signed up back in the beginning of the year, I still hadn’t even thought about going back to school.  When I started school, it looked like my trip would land right in the middle of my externship.  But due to a transfer of credits and finishing up early, I find myself in between programs with no school, no work, no major commitments.  But in addition to the fact that the logistics of the trip worked out perfectly, I see even more reasons why this is the perfect time to go.

Sometimes its easy to get so focused on the craziness of life that is happening right in front of us in our own tiny little corner of the world, that we forget that there is so much more to the world.  And for that reason, I am thankful that I get to leave my stress, and struggles, and blahs of what is happening in St. Louis, behind for a week to reprioritize and focus on someone else.

Something else Jaime and I talked about was an article she read lately called Grieving and Grateful.  Even if our grief, that will never completely go away, it is still absolutely possible to find joy and be grateful.  Sometimes it comes easy and sometimes you have to search for it.  But without further ado, and in no particular order, I give you…

RRG’s Grateful List

  • My children, even when they are driving me bananas, they are truly the light of my life.
  • My health, even during this season of sore throats and sniffles.
  • Running, even when I hate it.
  • Ice cream. Cereal. Pizza. Chips and Salsa. Pancakes. You get the idea.
  • My family. All of them, near and far, the ones I talk to daily and the ones I don’t.
  • My education, my brain that is smarter than I give it credit for sometimes.
  • My awesome friends, who make me laugh or listen to me or pick up my kids or run with me or give me hugs do whatever it is I need done at any given moment.
  • Movies. Books. Music.
  • The opportunity to travel, to experience new cultures, make new friends and see where my path leads.
  • Boots and sweaters.
  • 40 years of amazing memories.
  • 40 years of success and failure. I know that I am right where I am supposed to be and my struggles have made me into exactly who I am.
  • Coffee.
  • My beau, who takes care of me when I’m sick, pays attention to the things I say, cleans my gutters, and accepts me just as I am.
  • My house, and everything in it. But mostly the safety it provides and the love that fills it.
  • Mountains and oceans and woods and everything about the incredible world we live in.
  • March Madness. My Spartans.
  • My heart that feels joy and pain, and that loves fully.
  • My God, who loves me enough that he doesn’t allow me to grieve without hope.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character, hope.  Romans 5:3-4

 

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Rambling Runner Girl Rant

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Disclaimer:  This is in fact a rant.  I promise to return to my regular ramblings on running shortly, but if you can’t handle my rant, do not read on.  If you think you can handle it, its still my typical rambling style.

We live in America (by we, I mean myself and the vast majority of the people reading this).  Are we not at the top of the list as far as wealth is concerned? And are we not heading into a season where we spend an insane amount of money on the commercialism that has become the holidays?

I don’t know what your financial status is, or what your planned budget for the holidays is, but as we prepare to launch into the holiday season, let me propose something for all to consider.

Allow me start by saying, I tend to align myself as an Independent.  I do not have any kind of political agenda here.  I have some liberal views and some conservative views, and I vote for the candidate who I feel best represents where I stand.  But more importantly, where I stand is Love.  I am a human being with a heart for other human beings.  And my heart aches when I see a fellow human hurting, homeless or harmed in anyway.

The world has witnessed much pain unfold of late.  I could say in the last week, in reference to Paris, Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya (I’m sure I missed one or several, and I’m sure someone will be happy to point out that I am an awful person because of it) but it goes beyond that.  I could say this has happened in the past months, in reference to the refugee crisis and ISIS.  I could say look what has been happening for just over a year right here in our backyard of Ferguson.  But the truth is, we live in a broken world and these things, sadly, are not new.  Our world has been witnessing this kind of pain for a long, long, long time.  It doesn’t matter where you live or what your circumstances are, no one is exempt from bad things that happen.

In the past couple of days though, I have seen so much hate and anger.  The name calling and the political slants that make people to feel entitled to put others down because of their beliefs are just not ok.  I’ve read headlines against helping the refugees because we have veterans and homeless children right here in America.  I’ve also seen pictures of some of these refugee children and read about the things they witnessed and the kinds of conditions they are currently dealing with.  I just watched a video of a man whose wife was killed at the Bataclan and now he is raising his 17 month old son alone.  It’s awful.  All of it is awful.

But here’s my proposal.  Next time you think, Oh yeah, I’m going to repost this article because it perfectly portrays my stance on (fill in the blank), even if it’s well intentioned, stop for a second.  Instead of reposting that article that will either get a bunch of likes from people who see everything exactly the way you do, or it will stir up a debate with a high probability of turning ugly and perpetuate the problem, think about what you have done recently to support the group you so passionately represent on your chosen social media sight.

I don’t care where your personal convictions lie, but how are you helping the human race?  Whether its war vets, the homeless, the refugees, whoever, have you given anything to assist?  Or are you just sitting in Starbucks with your $5.00 latte complaining as much about a ridiculous red cup debate as you are about how the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket?

I am no exception here.  Last week on my way in to the Central West End for my last day of training, I rolled down my window at the intersection of 40 and Kingshighway to hand a homeless man an extra granola bar that I had sitting in my car, but then today after my run, while my children were safe at school, I went to lunch with a girlfriend and splurged on a huge breakfast and a Bloody Mary.  The fact is, our lives go on.  We go from one thing to the next, we go from holiday party to Christmas shopping, we may drop a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket along the way.  Or maybe not.  Sometimes we are sensitive to the big picture of the world, sometimes we are not.  Sometimes we get really fired up, and that’s ok too.  As long as we are using that energy in a constructive way.  Tearing other people down for not agreeing with our passions is not constructive.

Are we going to fix all of these issues over night?  Nope.  But if each person used the time it takes to repost that random article to do something for the cause that pulls at their heart, well, it would be a start.  I don’t care what your chosen charity is I just want human hearts to stop hurting.  I want children to have a bed to sleep on, inside a house.  I want people who have served our country to not be tossed out on the street and rejected.  I want to hug all of them.  And while I know that it’s not possible for me to hug every single hurting person on this planet, at least next week I will have a chance to do something for some of them.

No, I’m not going to Syria, and I’m not going to be here saving the world either.  But I have a plane ticket booked and my passport is ready for Nicaragua.  I’m not asking anyone to do anything that I’m not prepared to do myself.  I’m pleased to report I exceeded my fundraising goal, and I did in fact contribute a portion to that myself, in part so I am not getting a free trip to Central America. I guarantee I will come back a changed person.  I’m going to drill a well in a community that desperately needs clean water, and somehow in my broken Spanish I will help teach classes about hygiene. But more importantly, I’m going to love some people who I’ve not met yet.  I can’t fathom how I will return from that experience and want to spend a bunch of money on Christmas presents that none of us really needs.  That’s probably why I have been preparing my kids that this year will be smaller, scaled back, different.  Our church talks a lot about Advent Conspiracy, the concept of spending less and giving more of ourselves.  I have always been of this mind, so I jumped up and down the first time they talked about it and it finally had a name. Relational gifts are where it’s at.  Make something.  Give someone a “date in a box” that you have to use together.  Plan an activity.  Invite someone to coffee.  Give of yourself.  Give someone clean water.

I’m also not saying everyone needs to jump on a plane next week to give of themselves, this took many months of planning.  I just want everyone to consider that maybe, just maybe, instead of complaining about the issues, there is something you have to offer that can help even just one.  Your resources, your time, a smile.

My friend Cheri Kay has been in China for the past 10 days.  Tomorrow she gets to bring home her little girl.  Cheri Kay already has two children that she adopted from Haiti.  Cheri Kay is a single mom.  She has done every single bit of this of her own accord.  And because of that, there really are no valid excuses.  Cheri Kay has a strong faith and an amazing support system, yes.  But if she can go to the ends of the earth for just one, I’m sure everyone can come up with something to help end the hurt for someone, too.

*If you are looking for a way to give, you can still donate to Living Water International.  Go to https://www.water.cc/ and you can purchase Living Water gift cards, or donate directly.  You can also still donate on my Living Water page.

 

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Making Lemonade

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My dad used to love the word ‘ade’.  I remember many times being in the reception hall at church for refreshments and my dad would offer to get me some ‘fruit-ade’.  My dad was a dork.  But he made me laugh.  And that is one word that I always get right on crossword puzzles.  3 letter word for fruit drink…got it.

Another thing my dad always said, that I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before, was the advice “Surround yourself with good people.”

Yesterday, I went for a run with my friend Ken Clark.  It was so appropriate to celebrate my first day of “freedom” (I finished my Medical Assistant externship on Tuesday) by going for a run with Ken.  A year ago today, I was on my way to Arizona for the big event.  Today, Ken is on his way to Arizona.  I just got a text from him a little while ago, he was sitting on a plane in Dallas waiting to fly to Phoenix.  Anyway, last year in Arizona, I was surrounded by good people.  I drove out with Ally, Brian and Dan.  My mom, brother, sister in law, niece and nephew met us out there.  I stayed in a house with a bunch of friends who were either competing or supporting.  A huge smattering of Swim Bike Run club members were out there.  I had lunch with a friend from High School and saw various other friends from different parts of my life throughout the weekend including all over the course.  From start to finish, I was surrounded by, not just good, but GREAT people.

Ken was one of those people.  He had gone to Arizona to volunteer on the course, earning himself early registration into this years’ event, like I had done the year before.  I never did see Ken on the bike course at any of the aid stations where he was an official volunteer, but he was waiting at the transition area as I cruised in to jump off my bike.  I remember he gave me a quick hug as I passed my bike off to another volunteer and threatened to throw my bike shoes into Tempe Town Lake.  Ken found me at various parts of the run course, he would run back and forth across the bridge to tell my family approximately where I was and how I was doing.  And when the sun had finally sunk low into the Arizona desert and I was resenting the people who had said, “Nah, you won’t need a headlamp. It’s well lit” Ken showed up with his iphone to light the way up that one lonely, dark hill on the course.  He was full of encouragement.  And since he was wearing a “volunteer” t-shirt, I could do things like throw my cup on the ground for him to pick up and not get in trouble.  We aren’t allowed to have “pacers” but that volunteer shirt got me a personal escort in the dark.

So, when I realized how close I was to finishing my required hours for my externship last week while I was at a small party for Ken’s 40th, I knew I had to finish up before he left town so we could run together again.  It had been almost exactly a year since the last time we ran together.  I needed to give him a send off since I can’t be on the course to support him the way he was for me.  Funny story, Ken and I met as teammates for the Smoky Mountain Relay a few years ago when I was in rough shape emotionally.  Ken and I spent a weekend in a smelly van with sweaty people, we ate lukewarm Ramen noodles at 2am, we had a conversation while in adjoining port-o-potties (nothing says bonding like pooping) and he is the one who came into the woods, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me up a hill on my last leg of that race.  Seriously. I love this dude like a brother.

On Tuesday, as I said goodbye to all the people I have spent my time with for most of the past 6 weeks at my externship site, I realized that through the good and bad of that experience I once again found myself surrounded by really great people.  I am already missing the MAs and nurses that I spent so much time with.  And as I drove out 40 towards West County to pick my kiddos up from school, I thought of the people who have played taxi driver to my kids throughout the past year while I went through this program.  And when I gathered the kids we went to Steak n Shake to celebrate everything that has occurred since a year ago when I crossed that finish line in Arizona and heard the words, “Lindsey Jacobs, you are an Ironman”.

While I drove towards my kids, I thought of those words, and how important they were.  It occurred to me that this week I tackled another kind of Ironman.  Last year in Arizona, the idea of going back to school hadn’t even occurred to me, but since then I set it up, started the program and saw it through to completion.  And with nursing school on the horizon, I have absolutely zero doubts that with the people on my team, I will make that happen too.  And in each season of life, in order to make those things happen, I will continue to surround myself with good people.

This morning, I woke up in a somewhat foul mood.  I got plenty of sleep, so I’m not really sure what my deal was, but today had the potential to be ugly.  However, when I walked into my neighborhood coffee shop to meet a friend for lattes after dropping off the kids at school, I saw the face of another friend that I hadn’t seen in ages.  Paul has his own business called Trickle Down Happiness.  I love that concept.  And I actually got to see it in action today.  As soon as I saw Paul, my mood changed instantly.  And when he asked me how things were, I immediately started rambling on about all the good things in my life.  That turned the day around for me.  I was focused on the good things happening and the great people involved.

A couple hours later, when I took my phone into T-Mobile to see why it hasn’t been working lately, I ultimately walked out with no contacts.  This could have been a huge headache, but rather than stress about it, I posted a plea on Facebook and waited for the contacts to come rolling back in.  As they progressed they have been funnier and funnier.  My face hurts from smiling, hearing from friends and the silliness of having to guess who they are.  Who knew something that has the potential to be a huge pain in the butt would turn out to be so fun?  I guess you could say I’m finding the silver lining.  Or I’m making lemons into “ade”.  But I think it just has to do with being surrounded by really amazing people.

When Ken takes to the course on Sunday, I already know he will be surrounded by some greats.  His wife Marti is one of the coolest people ever.  My friend, Jess, was the volunteer who handed me my Run special needs bag last year and she’s competing this year.  My friend, Nicci, who I’ve known since she was a peanut, grew up in the house next door to me in Michigan, this will be her third Ironman I believe.  And every other athlete on that course has a story, young, old, war vets, amputees, illnesses, losses, struggles.  The one thing they all have in common is that they’ve all had to overcome something to be out there.  They’ve all been handed some lemons.  And  all the people standing by, helping them, cheering the on, encouraging them, getting them whatever they need.

I just wish I could be out there to light the way up that hill for Ken.  Or maybe offer him some ade. 😉

With Ken at Creve Coeur for a send off run

With Ken at Creve Coeur for a send off run

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