Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cassie

Today I decided I not only needed a run, but a change of scenery. So I headed to the lakefront. I parked and headed towards the path.  About a half a mile in,  I noticed my shoe was untied. There was a bench nearby so I sat down to tie my shoe on one end.  At the other end of the bench was a woman who looked to me to be homeless.  Her head was down and she never looked up. She was picking at the seam of her shirt.  I turned towards her as I tied my shoe and said,  "Good morning! Beautiful day isn't it!" She looked up at me with such sad eyes and mumbled, "I guess"
I said, "Really?! The sun is shining and it is warm. Do you not like the warm weather?"  
She said, "I love the sun and warm weather. I used to love to take my kids to the playground on days like today."
She asked me if I lived in the area. And I said in Chicago but not the lake area. And we got to chatting. My run would have to wait a bit. 
Her name is Cassie. Her story is one I have to tell. She's only a year older than me.  She had a well worn face and spirit looking more like 70 than her 51 years. . A mom of four kids. She got married and had kids at a really young age. Her husband became abusive shortly after they got married and she felt she could not leave. 
She protected her kids and took the brunt of the abuse. Once the kids were old enough, they moved out heading into the military.  Cassie said one night she had enough...got brave...and ran from her home. She never looked back.  She's afraid to even communicate with her children for fear her husband will find her. She has not seen nor heard from her kids for over 5 years. She left with only what she could carry and has been homeless for the last fours years. She was with friends for a while but got scared so she has tried to 'disappear.' 
We talked about life about love. We talked about abusive men. We talked about a mothers love for her children. I finally said, "I really need to get to running or I will never go...." 
"You are kind. This is the best conversation I have had in a long while. Thanks for listening to me...."
My eyes welled with tears as I asked if I could give her a hug her and she said no. 
"You really do not want to hug a homeless person."
"I'm  not hugging a homeless person. I am hugging another mom."
We hugged and I headed off for the rest of my run. I cried for a while as I ran. 
All I could think about was women like Cassie. How many Cassie's are there?  
Mothers. Mothers who give up everything for their children. Mothers who do the best they can and it's still not good enough. Mothers that lose sleep. Mothers that are tired. Mothers that fight for their kids. Mothers who let their kids go. Mothers who let their kids make mistakes. Mothers who cry tears of joy, anguish and heartache. Mothers who hold on too tight. Mothers who don't hold on at all. Mothers who let go. Mothers who love until it hurts. All in secret.  
I thought to myself, there by the grace of God go I.
Please pray for Cassie and women like her. 
I am only posting a photo of our bench that I took on my return trip. I want to respect Cassie's privacy and safety. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Seasons

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:3-8

I laced up my shoes and went for a run today. I had planned to just run 5-6 miles but I was feeling good and kept going. I needed to get my head and heart to start talking to each other again along with resetting my bullshit meter. Sometimes that takes longer than expected. Today it took 10 miles. 10 miles of true grit. There were tears, laughing, screaming, and some walking but I finished those 10 miles. 
I headed back to my "home" .... my trail ....for my run. I have not been on the trail since October. As I ran, I thought about the last year of my life. It has been a long year. A year I thought I would never get through. A year I thought I would not survive at times.  But looking back, I have no idea who that woman of a year is anymore. I feel I do not know her. She was so scared and uncertain. She was so weak and timid. She was so confused and overwhelmed. She was me. 
As I ran, I thought of all the changes in my life; how different I am and how different my life is today from a year ago.  I paid a visit to my girlfriend Wanda (she is a badass bridge) and this time she did not get the best of me. There is something euphoric when I run downhill with the sun on my face and the breeze at my back. I took a jog down 'complain lane' (a straightaway where runners complain) and let loose with all my complaints since my last visit.  Then I turned around to run home.
 I looked at my shadow as I ran home and thought I am a shadow of my former self. I started to notice that winter was finally gone and spring was starting to take over the trail. Blooming trees and flowers along with more green then grey.  Seasons are like that. Winter can't last forever. Some winters are longer, colder and darker that we expect but they eventually come to an end and spring brings rebirth and new life....every year.  We just have to get through the winter. 
This past year has been a long winter that is finally giving way to spring.
Over that 10 miles I found my legs again. I got my heart and my head to start talking to each other. I reset my bullshit meter. I realized that I am stronger and smarter than I ever was.....I am blooming like the trail in spring. 
#forwardisapace Peace

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Because of GOTR #ICAN

Eight years ago I brought Girls on the Run to my school. We started small. My youngest daughter was in 3rd grade and on my first team. She and I have both grown with the program. She has not missed one race day with me since that first season. 16 seasons later, here we are. Both of us have evolved as has the persona of #tutulady
This season my team was asked to create a video about what Girls on the Run means using phase "Because of GOTR #ICAN"
I love all these girls and feel privileged to have been a part of their lives for even a season.
Here is my heart and soul on film.
#forwardisapace
Peace.









Monday, April 11, 2016

Shuffle

2013/2016
How many changes can you see?!
#tutulady #supertall
Each year I run the Shamrock Shuffle. For me it is the unofficial start of my running/training/racing season. For the last few years I have run the race with my BRF (best running friend). We always start together but don't often finish together.  We get to a certain point and then run our own race....faster/slower/whatever.
This year we started together and leapfrogged each other until close to the end when she took off.
I had only one goal this year....to run up Mount Roosevelt  nonstop, no walking until I rounded the corner. Not only did I run up the hill nonstop, but I kept running until I crossed the finish line!
My BRF and I finished within a few minutes of each other.  I felt so good when I was done....better than I have in a long while and I was so proud of what I had accomplished. It was not a PR by any means but I set a goal and crushed it.
We found each other, got a beer and took some pictures then went to eat!
It was not until a few days later when my BRF sent me 2 photos side by side that I realized how far we had come in 3 years. 3 years.....yes....it has been a long journey and one that is not over by any means but the difference I see in the 47 year old me and the 50 year old me ...the 3 year difference is astounding.
The difference in the both of us is amazing. Both of us have been on a journey and the changes we have encouraged each other to make have not only affected our running but who we are as women. 3 years of pushing each other and cheering for each other. 3 years of tears and triumphs.  3 years of laughter and love.
Women....we need to inspire each other to be better  challenging one another to reach new goals. We need to mentor each other, reaching back and giving back to the next generation of women.  We need to respect each other's journey while inspiring others to do the same.
None of us should ever be alone on this journey. Sometimes we will shuffle with each other. Sometimes we will walk with each other. Sometimes we will run with each other.  But sometimes....every once in a while...we will soar with each other.
#forwardisapace
Peace.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Soar

Me. I am who I am.  Take me or leave me. I am a big girl with a big, and oftentimes, overwhelming personality. I am done denying and apologizing for who I am.
I’m done muting my voice down to a  pathetic whisper. I’m done erasing my vibrant, beautiful colors and appearing to the world in dull muted tones. I’m done pretending I have no power, that I’m a helpless victim, that I don’t know how to rise like the brave, strong woman I have hidden away for years.
Gone are the days where it feels okay to recklessly abandon myself. Finished are the moments where it seems like a great idea to destroy myself. Done is the time where I please everyone but myself. I have decided that I deserve so much better....

I need to breathe. Deeply. Purposefully.  
I need to remember the absolute magnificence of my own soul. I am done thinking people are doing me an epic favor when they like me. I am done apologizing for every step I take, every word I utter, every breath I take. I am done leaning on flimsy excuses and selling myself so terribly short. I hereby declare every day a true celebration of my glittery awesomeness, my one-of-a-kind messy beauty, my huge imperfect heart, my amazingly sparkly tutu-clad soul.  I declare to never, ever forget the true radiance of of my worth.

From here on out, I will live like I mean it. I will live from the deepest, most unsteady depths of my soul. I will reach out living each day like I mean it.  I will slow down, taking time to smell the roses, lavender and other amazing scents of the world.  I will open my eyes to everyday miracles that surround me. I will stand tall, be brutally honest and unapologetically say the shit I need to say. I will continue to trust but demand honesty from all those that wish to be part of my life. I will move through tears and tough times being graceful and patient with myself and others. I will speak to myself kindly and compassionately. I will love fiercely, giving my full, huge heart in the most overwhelming, and often smothering, of ways.  I hereby grant myself permission to live the most awesome life possible. 

Gone are the times where it felt it was okay not to honor myself. Finished is the mistaken thought that self-confidence is arrogance. Done are the days where it made sense to destroy myself. I’m in the driver’s seat now—and I’m headed towards love. I’m barreling towards truth. I’m running towards myself. I’m rushing towards soul. There are no excuses left, there is no obstacle in my way, there is no one left to blame. I am in charge and I choose ME! Loving myself is the only option. Moving forward is the only path to take.

Hello world, 
Meet my amazingly huge heart. 
Meet my overwhelming, overflowing personality.
Meet my magnificent, deep, imperfect soul.
Meet my goddamn confidence
Meet the ballsy sparkle in my eyes
Meet the real #tutulady

Goodbye excuses. Goodbye apologies. Goodbye shame. It’s time to say goodbye to all of the crap and hello to love. I hereby declare the war on me finally OVER. I am done fighting. Not because I am tired of fighting but because I am so much stronger than I ever believed possible and it’s time for me to live my truth. It’s time for me to believe in me. It is time for me to fully love ME. I am shaking and crying but it is finally time. Time to stand up, straighten my spine, toss my head back to face the sun, spreading my wings to fly, soaring higher than I could ever imagine.  It is time. My time.
#forwardisapace Peace.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Plunge

Today I lived a dream. I did something I never in a million years thought I would do. Not only that, I got to see my son do the same.
Today I took the polar plunge for Special Olympics and Girls on the Run. When I signed up a few months back, I really did not A) think I would raise the funds B) actually Plunge C) have a cheering section!
Well I not only raised more than I needed for 2 amazing charities but I did plunge and with an amazing cheering section!
13 checked in the night before and made sure we were still going in the morning. I had made tutus for our team and the weather was supposed to be good...so why not?!
Gaga and 13
I got up in the morning, had coffee and got everything together then woke up 13. We got in the car, got more coffee and headed towards the lake. We sang along to the radio as we made our way to the parking lot.  Once parked, we walked to the North Avenue Beach house. 13 was more excited to "stalk" celebrities than ot see momma jump in the lake and made no bones about it!
Once we got the "lay of the land' we met up with 2 friends of mine...one is my "running daddy' the other is my "personal Paparazzi". My PP gave 13 some celeb spotting tips and then he was off.
13 and I noticed that some celebs were coming out of the "warming" area. It was Tyler Kinney and Lady Gaga!! 13 tried to get  "selfie" but Gaga was not paying attention. Momma opened her big mouth as 13 ran ahead. He asked again and there it was...the selfie (and the only one she would take all day).  My son was hyperventilating and tears came...from both of us. Seeing him meet someone he considers a hero? A life changing experience for me. It would carry him through the rest of the day....floating on cloud nine.
Me? I had to leave him and meet my team.
We got "dressed"...or undressed.... and prepared to plunge. Once we were ready it was time for photos and then the walk to "line up", We entered the line and heating tent to wait our turn ....and then it was time!  we burst out of the tent and headed to the water.  I could hear 13 screaming "GO MOM" over my shoulder as I headed to the water with my team....
My favorite cheerleader!
And then it was time for the Nestea Plunge!  Backwards I fell  with my head going beneath the water!  It was exhilarating and amazing!! I danced as I pulled up my sagging, wet tutu and headed towards the shore cold and HAPPY!
The team found our supporters, took photos and headed to change into warm clothing.  Once I was changed, 13 and I went to get some hot chocolate and food. We ate and drank and danced and laughed and warmed up. It was a joy to watch my boy so happy.
Soon it was time to head to the car for the drive home. 13 and I talked and laughed some more as he floated on cloud nine...and I did too.
Today was a day that I will remember for a lifetime. Time with good friends. Time checking an item off my bucket list. Time raising money for 2 great causes. Time with my son that changed his life and mine forever. #forwardisapace Peace



Curves

Slow down. Curves ahead. Life, life roads and trails, often has curves. Some curves are so sharp if we don't slow down, we veer off the road into a ditch.
It is important to watch the signs and look ahead to where we are going.
Today I saw the signs that I has missed.
I took off for a run only thinking that I would go about 2-3 miles as I had not run in months and my last run was crap. But as I moved forward and put one foot in front of the other, I realized that I was doing ok. I was running again. Do not get me wrong, it was not an easy run by any means, but it felt good.
i kept moving forward feeling stronger with each step and as I ran, I realized that I was coming back to myself.
The last few months have been hard. Harder than any marathon or race I have ever run, and while I know that race is not yet over, I can see the finish line. I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. I have had the support of a lot of good people and I know that they see and feel my pain. For years, I have been the cheerleader...the motivator... Suddenly that changed and I could barely breathe without crying. It was not a place or feeling I was familiar with. I felt like a fake....going though the motions and smiling through the pain. But my friends took over. People I knew took over. People I barely knew and some I didn't know I touched took over. They supported me in words and actions that helped me feel supported and loved. I have never been one to take things or ask for help....it is not a space in which I am comfortable. I did not need to ask....People just showed up. People sent me messages. People prayed.
Today during my run, I was caught in such a place of deep gratitude for every one of those people. They may never know how much their support has meant to me and changed my life but today I gave thanks for each one.
 I am so blessed to have a support team that helps me see the light....
#forwardisapace Peace