Wednesday, April 4

Lethargy

When I attended the kickoff meeting for the official 3 day event more than a month ago, I remember being warned that at some point during the course of our training and fundraising, we would be discouraged and want to give up. I scoffed and figured I was SO fired up and SO dedicated that I wouldn't have a problem with my desire.

Turns out I was wrong.

I'm a full month into training now, and the old problems I've had with my left knee has flared and invited my right knee to join the party. I'm walking 18 miles this week-3 miles on Monday, 4 miles on Wednesday, then 6 miles on Friday, followed by another 4 mile walk on Saturday. It's really the back-to-back walks that hurt me the most-those are the ones I aim to complete outside, which means I've started rising well before dawn Friday and Saturday mornings to lace up my Susan G. Komen sneakers and walk the dark streets.

This week has been particularly distressing. I've felt lethargic, achy, worn down, disoriented, and confused the last couple days. I know I'm sleeping enough, I'm eating healthy, and I'm continuing to exercise regularly, but this week it has been so difficult. Last night I woke up half a dozen times because my arms were completely numb and leaden, and I was forced to move around and flex them to try to get them to get some feeling back before I could fall asleep. This afternoon I finally called the doctor because my gut is telling me something is 'off'. The receptionist asked me my address and phone number...both answers I should be able to give without hesitation, but I had to take a moment to really consider both questions before I could rattle off the appropriate sequence of numbers.

I'm sure my family would love me to add that I've also been extremely irritable. Poor kids. Poor husband.

All in all, I'm feeling incredibly discouraged. I quickly discovered that training wouldn't be easy, but I didn't expect it to be this HARD. It's still only walking. I'm a healthy, physically active YOUNG woman who should be able to stand up to this kind of physical exertion, but I'm really struggling. My fundraising isn't doing as well as I had hoped it would be doing, and I'm feeling very defeated.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to see the doctor, and even if he has no answers for me I'm really praying I get my mojo back. I've never been the type of woman to back away from a challenge, but retreat is a tempting possibility in this moment.

Monday, March 12

Training

I officially started training a week ago, on a snowy Toledo morning. On my way in to the YMCA, I was...less than excited...about the prospect of 3 monotonous miles on Ye Olde Treadmill. Nevertheless, I reminded myself that I made a commitment, and I need to stick with it. How can I expect people I know to donate time, money, goods, and resources to my cause if I'm not willing to put the work in myself? So...off I went.I hopped on the first available treadmill, and ignoring the sounds of my best friends pumping weights in the free weight center across the room, I settled in for the walk. 3 endless, slow miles stretched in front of me.

I may have started to panic just a little bit.

For posterity, I asked a friend to snap some pictures of me on the machine. Day 1, 3 miles!
After a while, the boredom became overwhelming, and I shot up the speed on the treadmill and jogged the second mile. Afterward, my joints and my feet were sore for days, an event I haven't repeated since then for fear of repeating the same pain.
Finally, finally, finally 42 minutes later I was done with my first 3 mile walk. Sweaty, tired, and triumphant.
As I walked through my first mile, I was struck again by what a journey this event is going to be. I imagined the event...walking through streets lined with pink, with survivors and family members on all sides, cheering and supporting us. I teared us as I imagined the emotion of the moment, the emotion I was feeling just training.

This walk is going to be a journey, people. I added up the miles I'll be walking including 24 weeks of training and the event: the number came out to a staggering 645.

Every step I walk in the next 23 weeks is a step toward a world where NOBODY has to deal with the effects of this disease, and I am HONORED to be a part of it.

Please consider donating to my fundraising minimum here.

Friday, March 2

Hunting

We've spent endless, endless hours online looking at houses in the Columbus area in the last couple of weeks. Like everyone else, we're trying to balance our wants and desires with the more practical matters of location, school district, and oh yeah...budget. Thankfully, there are LOTS of properties listed that meet (most) of our needs and also follow within our price range, and recently we turned to a real estate agent we found through our church to help us with the process. This morning she sent us the first batch of listings she culled for us, and within moments of opening up the MLS search, I found The. One.

THE HOUSE.

The one I haven't been able to stop thinking about all morning. I have looked at houses until my eyeballs have begun to bleed...but NONE of them have gotten me excited like this one.

I'm not even going to post a link to it-because it's THAT fabulous, and I'd be devastated if somebody else found it and snatched it out of my hands before we've had a chance to go see it. The plan yesterday had been to find a weekend in April that we could abandon the kids with friends and spend an epic day looking at real estate in Columbus. This is still likely the plan, but now I'm paranoid that somebody-some JERK-is going to make an offer on MY house before we get there.

I'm doing lots of deep breathing today. I'm trying to be patient and remember that just like every other aspect of this job search and relocation-it will fall into place.

While I'm waiting for it to fall into place, though, nobody better track mud onto MY carpet. The last thing I want to do after we move in is steam clean.

Wednesday, February 29

Returned

I haven't blogged in what feels like ages, and honestly am not sure if any of my old readers remain to see my words. I've been lost for the last 30 minutes re-reading old posts and re-living different facets of my life. I think I've missed blogging, and am going to try to step back in and chronicle this crazy life we lead.

The winter here in Toledo this year has been mild in every sense of the word-temperatures hovering in the 30's or 40's most days, with lots of rain and very little snow. Today is the last day of February, and I'm beginning to think we really will escape the winter months without any snow days...a feat I haven't experienced since I moved to Ohio 5 years ago. This will also be our last Toledo winter, as Kevin has received a job offer for a 3 year position in Columbus, Ohio. We're currently in the throes of house hunting and school searching, which is a fun sidelight to the busyness of life.

Perhaps the central focus of my life these days (aside from my husband, the kids, the house, and wiping many many many many things every day) is this:





I've wanted to do this for a long time. A friend mentioned it in passing about a year ago, and I latched onto the idea of walking then and haven't let go. I didn't find out in enough time to participate last August, but this year I have been rabidly excited about experiencing this amazing event. I'm in the throes of fundraising (holy COW that is a lot of money!) and will be starting training next week, an experience I'd dearly like to chronicle here.

All in all, life is so good. The kids are crazy and life keeps my head spinning, but I'm in love with what we're experiencing. I'm in love with my family in a way that makes my heart expand beyond what I thought it was capable. It's impossible NOT to be happy, and I'm so grateful.

Monday, March 14

Trappings

I stepped into the shower today, and was greeted-not for the first time-by the sight of a moderately sized clump of hair-wet, disgusting, and left in a wad on the small bench in the corner of the shower enclosure.

"Gross." I thought. "Why does he do that? Would it be so difficult to fish the hair out of the drain and then put in the trash, instead of leaving it here for me to find?" I asked myself, irritated. I slid open the shower door and tossed the clump of hair into the toilet, and made a mental note to talk to Kevin about it later. "He should know better." I told myself.

As I slid the shower door re-shut, my mind shot backward. Backward to the days when I exhibited the same sense of irritation about a pair of white, nondescript sweat socks. Always crew length, always slid first off one foot-then the other, and left on the floor in front of my sofa. Endless were the days I nagged about these socks. For years these socks made their nightly appearance on my living room floor, and for years I either cajoled the owner to pick them up or I would begrudgingly gather them myself to be laundered.

Nearly 3 years ago, those socks stopped appearing on my living room floor.

I missed those socks-desperately. I longed for their presence, for the signal they left that there was another person in the house with me-somebody that shared my burdens and my life. I thought endlessly about those white socks, and would have dreams about walking into the living room to see them.

As I lathered my hair today in the shower, I thought about the disgusting clump of hair left in the corner. I thought about the pants that get left on my bedroom floor. I thought about the shoes that litter my bedroom floor. I thought about the countless little things that signal that there is another person in this house with me-somebody to share my burdens and my life.

Instantly, my mood changed from annoyed to grateful. Grateful that this is my life-surrounded by the paraphernalia of a good, gentle man.

I still don't love that there is a clump of hair in my shower every week. I still don't love that I trip over shoes sometimes on my way to the closet. However, instead of getting frustrated and demanding that my standards be met...I choose to be grateful for my life. For the chaos, the mess, the noise, and the love that fills it.

I wasn't always so lucky.

Friday, February 18

Sunday, January 30

Abandonment

Growing up wasn't easy for me. It seems as though growing up isn't really easy for anybody, but it seems to me as an adult that growing up in our family was a little more difficult than it needed to be. I'm not pointing fingers or laying blame, and I'm certainly not going to go into details-but it was rough. I'm blessed to have a good relationship with the members of my family now, but it took some long years to get there.

When I was a teenager, my older brother and I shared a strong bond. I'm sure at least partly based on the difficulties of growing up together, but also because we genuinely enjoyed one another's company. We shared much over the years-joys and tragedies and everything in between. I was 18 when he tragically died, and the grief was overwhelming-something I've written about here before. Ammon and I were newly married when Jeremy died, so it was easy to transfer my intense need for male trust and love to my husband when I lost my beloved older brother.

I mourned Jeremy for a long time-still do, in many ways. Ammon and I built a good life together, and chose to name our oldest son after the brother that had been stolen from me.

Then, another man was stolen from my life.

When Ammon died, everything fell apart for our family. For the first time in my adult life, I was without a strong male influence. My father was living halfway across the country from me, my older brother had been gone for almost 10 years, and now my spouse was out of my life as well.

The recovery I made from that loss has been well documented here, and although there are still wounds from the losses I experienced earlier in life, nothing is as bleak as it once seemed. The kids and I not only learned to survive without a man in our lives, but we thrived. We learned to rely on the people around us when necessary, but also how to fend for ourselves and build a life centered around each other. When Kevin met us, we had finally figured out how to become a family again. Not just a functioning (but broken) puzzle, but actually a family-vibrant, happy, and full of life.

The fact remains, though, that I am a girl with abandonment issues-and it has never been more apparent than every time Kevin packs his single small suitcase to board yet another airplane bound for yet another conference or meeting.

When Kevin and I were dating, we discussed his travel schedule. As an astronomer, he travels a great deal more than most people. In fact, the frequent and extensive travel is one of the perks that drew Kevin to the field in the first place. For years he had enjoyed the luxury of being unattached and free to travel as often and for as long as he or his employer wished. He has an enviable ability to function away from home, and freely admits that although he misses people-he never gets homesick.

The first time Kevin traveled after we met was to Germany-he spent 10 days there, but it was during our intrepid 3 week trip out west so his trip was barely a blip on the separation radar. The second time he traveled was about a month after we got married, and he spent 6 days in Pasadena at a conference. I cried when he left and nearly every day that he was gone-a fact that I hid well from him until about the 4th or 5th day when I ended up sobbing uncontrollably with him on the phone. By the time he returned from that trip, several more trips had been scheduled-roughly one week out of every month for the next several months.

I wish I could say that having Kevin travel has gotten to be old hat for me. I wish I could say that I handle it better these days than I did a few months ago...and maybe I do. Or maybe I don't. I know that the kids handle it better-as I mentioned briefly before, Kadon struggled a great deal with Kevin's first trip, but once he was assured (and shown) that Daddy Always Comes Home, he has handled subsequent separations much more calmly. I wish I could say the same for myself.

Oh, I cope with his trips the best I can. I cope with the long silences- the days that are punctuated by one 90 second phone call in the morning, and a 3 minute one in the evening. I tried requesting more phone time before the last trip, hoping it would help assuage my struggle, but it really didn't-it simply placed additional (and unnecessary) pressure on Kevin and made my disappointment when he wasn't able to carry through more acute. Even as I write this, Kevin is stuck in meetings in Pasadena and I have a slim hope for a short conversation late tonight before he rushes off to his next obligation.

I know I'm painting an unfair picture-I have no doubt that since Kevin and I got married, some of the lustre of traveling has been removed for him. I know that he is happiest ensconced in our home with our family, and the days he is required to be away are taxing on him as well. I know that the days when he IS away and isn't able to have long telephone conversations aren't a result of choice, they're a function of his busy schedule. I know he isn't lounging by the pool-he's stuck in long meetings discussing important matters and meeting with important people. I know that he has to eat, and that a great deal of his job (especially at this point as he tries to make a name for himself) is the ability to network and get to know the more established scientists. Often this involves long, late dinners from which he cannot escape to call home before I go to bed. I know that meetings and conferences are mentally draining for him, and physically exhausting. I know that in his position there is an enormous-HUGE-amount of pressure placed on him, with generally very little recognition. I know that he is hyper-sensitive that within a few short months he will be back on the job market, and everything he does or says at these meetings could either help or hinder his search for his next job. I know that because most of the traveling he has done to date has been to the west coast, the time change is part of the problem-by the time he is through for the evening, it may be only 10 o'clock there, but for me it is 1 am...and I am usually sound asleep. Prudence will often keep him from calling me at that hour, and I recognize it as a kindness.

I could go on and on and on about the logic of his trips, and why communication is necessarily suspended for the length of them. I deeply understand the restraints he is under, and I hate that I add to his burden. I hate that almost always, at least once while he is gone I will end up in tears on the telephone-with Kevin miles away and helpless to do anything. I know every time it happens it breaks his heart, and I hate myself for it. I hate that I cannot control this-this separation anxiety, abandonment issues, or loneliness-whatever name I choose to give it. He tries so hard-and I know that many wives aren't even as lucky as I am-no matter how busy he is, he always calls at least once. Even if it's incredibly short, I know I will hear his voice every day and that he will tell me he loves me. On a grander scale-I know he isn't dead. I know that in a few days, I will see him come through our door again, a luxury that my widowed friends don't get to enjoy.

I have to figure out how to conquer this. I don't know how-the response feels so ingrained and guttural and I'm not optimistic about ridding myself of it, but I owe it to him to try. And if I can't completely obliterate it, I owe it to him to at least be a better actor. He works so hard-and would do anything for our family and the impossible for me. I've ever met a more devoted man, and I am the lucky recipient. I have to stop adding to his burden.