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. 😉