Something Different

My posts are typically about running or some other random idea that pops in my head and I feel compelled to write about.  Today I want to do something different; something not so fun.  I want to share a poem that I composed last fall.  Oh, get up off the ground and quit laughing!  I realize I am hardly a poet, but after my nephew died, I was literally driving home from Walmart, and these words came to me.  How many people can say they feel inspired after going to Walmart?

Well, I got home, put away the goods, and grabbed the computer.  This poem just spilled out.  I don’t really know if it is any good or not, or if it will even make sense to anyone.  It is simply how I was feeling, and I needed to try to put it into words.  Here it goes…

That Moment…

Joyce Stath

It only takes a moment in time

for a heart to be broken, for a life to change.

The innocent ringing of the phone,

the call no one expects.

Ma’am…I’m so sorry…

Sir…I’m so sorry…

It’s your son, your daughter,

your father, your mother,

your husband, your wife.

Those words.

 Words we never forget.

Words that devastate.

At first, they seep ever so gently into our soul,

and then, they rip relentlessly into our very being.

It isn’t true.  It can’t possibly be so.  You’re mistaken.

But I just…

You’re wrong.  No!

Tears spill over, soft shudders become breathless sobs.

How….why?

What do I do?  Where should I go?

Dear God, why?

Not very uplifting, but did it remind you of anything?  As I wrote, I was thinking back to those phone calls, those words, that changed my life.  The first was the call telling my grandmother that my father had died.  I had spent the night with her, and was nearby when she received the news.  I will never forget her words to me, “Honey, lay across the bed and cry.  Your daddy just died.”  I also thought about the call from my sister telling me that her son had died.  The tone – weakness actually – in her voice still haunts me.  I, in turn, had to make that dreadful call to my niece that her brother had died.  Knowing she would never forget my words to her, I tried to carefully word the news, but really, is there a less painful way to tell someone a loved one has died?

We never know when we might receive a life-altering phone call.  Tell those you love that you love them.  Give them a hug when you say good-bye.  Take advantage of every breath that God blesses you with – and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Peace and Love…

Who is your mentor?

The other morning, I happened to catch a view minutes of The View.  Sometimes that show gets on my nerves because they all talk at the same time, but on Monday, each of the hosts had a segment about her mentor.  Shari’s was a spiritual mentor, the minister of her church.  Whoopi’s mentor was a director/producer who helped her get started in the business by introducing her to the right folks, and by casting her in movies.

As I listened, I began to consider whom I considered to be my mentor.  I couldn’t come up with just one name because I feel that I have different mentors for different purposes.  The first person who came to mind was Donna Fenn, a dear friend of mine who died about five years ago from cancer.  Donna was an amazing lady.  She was an incredible teacher, a down-to-earth friend, and someone who made me laugh hard and often.  She is one of the reasons I became a teacher.  My two older daughters were blessed to have Donna as a teacher, and I was fortunate enough to spend time in her classroom, both with my girls, and as an observer when I was working on my teaching degree.  I couldn’t wait to have a classroom and to be able to teach with Donna.  Unfortunately, that never happened.  Donna’s cancer was aggressive, and in much too short a time, took her life.  Her death was truly tragic because she had so much to give and brought such light into our world.  I have missed Donna every day.  I miss watching her with my girls; I miss going to church with her; I miss her laughter when she did something silly; I miss learning from her.  Anytime something comes up at school that I struggle with, I wonder how Donna would have handled it.  I think about how she loved and nurtured children.  I strive every day to be just half as good as she was, and for that, I am a better teacher.  She helped shape the person I am today.

Two others whom I consider to be my mentors have also lost battles with cancer.  One was my Aunt Loretta, and the other was my Great Aunt Martyne.  These ladies were so very special.  They were the type who made me feel better about myself just by being around them.  When I went through hard times, they never judged me, they just continued to love me.  They both enjoyed life, and cherished their families.  I want to be the type of person who uplifts others.  I want to make those whom I come in contact with feel better about themselves after having spent time with me.  I really don’t know how to go about doing that; I hope it is a gift passed down to me by my dear aunts.

I also have running mentors.  My friend Kim is my ‘go-to’ girl for running advice.  She is the one who kept encouraging me to just get to that first mile.  She has been an amazing supporter, and I hope that I, too, can always give her the support she needs.  My boss and friend, Laura, was also a major influence in my early running.  I would whine to her that I would never be able to run very far, and she would tell me that she knew I would run a half marathon.  She was right.  Her belief in my ability helped carry me through when I didn’t really believe in myself.  My husband is an amazing running mentor.  Had he not first laced up his running shoes, I would never have taken my first step.  Seeing this man, who is 16 years my senior AND has an artificial knee, get out and start to run forced me to drop all of my excuses and give it a try.  There are times when running is so difficult for him it would be easy to just give up, but he keeps on getting out there, and that keeps me out there.  When I am feeling ultra whiny and wondering why I ever thought I could call myself a runner, I think about the effort Gary puts in, and I keep putting one foot in front of the other.  My running mentors, along with the girls who listen to me whine while running – Jackie, Kassi, and Jennifer – are so appreciated.  I probably don’t tell them that often enough, so hopefully they’re reading!

Doing the right thing.  It seems like an easy concept, but it isn’t always that easy, is it?  Sometimes we just get pissed, and doing the wrong thing is our natural reaction.  Sometimes we are tired, and doing the wrong thing is just easier.  Sometimes we just don’t like certain people, and THEY do the wrong thing, so why should we do the right thing?  I struggle with this (shocking, I know!).  So I happen to have a ‘do-the-right-thing’ mentor.  And I also happen to be married to him.  My husband has made me a better person.  He honestly lives his life by doing what is right, even when no one is looking.  He is the most selfless person I know.  He is always willing to help someone, even when it is most inconvenient.  When I have a decision to make, I know that I can count on him to lead me in the right direction, even when sometimes that means going the opposite way that my selfish self wants to go.  Gary does all of this, but not many people know about it.  One of the most impressive qualities about my husband is that he is always serving others, but wants no recognition for that service.  There are many people who help out their communities, but every time they do something good, they also have to have their pictures in the newspaper so everyone knows about it.  Not Gary.  He works behind the scenes.  He does it because it’s the right thing to do.

I cannot list my mentors without listing my sister.  I would consider her my faith mentor.  She is eleven years older than I, but rather than think that I was just an annoying little sister (which I was), she has always been so good to me.  She has been my biggest cheerleader, no matter what I have tried.  I have always said I could run a house of prostitution, and she would still say I ran the best one around.  My sister has amazing faith, and it has carried her through some dark times.  The strength she has through her faith in God is incredible, and has, in turn, made my faith stronger.  My sister is also the kindest person I know.  She is just genuinely sweet – though I have seen a little spunk in recent years.  I appreciate my sister and her love so much.  I hope that I have been able to show that love and support to her.  She is a great mom, aunt, and wife as well.  Much of who I am is because of who she is (Feel free to quote me on that !).

Who is your mentor?  Do you have that one person in your life who has influenced you, or are there many?  Who do you mentor?  I don’t know of anyone who would consider me a mentor, but I hope that I can make a difference in others’ lives.  I love my nieces and nephew dearly, and hope that in some small way, I have served as a role model to each of them.   I hope that Donna and my aunts knew how much they meant to me, and that Kim, Laura, Gary, and Bobbi know the influence they have had on my life.  I know that there will be other mentors as I continue on my journey.  I would love to have a writing mentor.  I secretly consider Kristen Armstrong to be a mentor, though I have never met her.  She is a runner, who has the perfect career of getting to write about her running and her faith.  I love her open, honest style of writing.  Maybe she’ll mentor me…

My Sister, Bobbi and I…

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Okay, I admit it…

This weekend there is a 5k and 10k race in Owensboro.  My friends are running it, and I should be running it.  I really should run the 10k with Jackie and Kassi, and I want to, but…I haven’t signed up.  I can run the 6.2 miles.  And there is supposed to be an awesome pancake breakfast following the race, and I love pancakes.  The temps are going to be in the 70s.  That’s pretty perfect for a morning run.  While I certainly don’t need another race t-shirt to add to my collection, I am rather proud of that collection, and it wouldn’t hurt to add just one more.

So, why the reluctance to register?  At first it was because for a couple weeks, every time I ran I would run into (ha ha) stomach problems.  I have no greater fear than being out on the road mid-run, and suddenly needing to find a bathroom.  Along with that little issue, my left knee was also giving me some problems.  It hurt.  Not every run, but when it hurt, I just couldn’t continue to run.  For the last week, both problems seem to have gone away.  I ran six miles Saturday, and it felt pretty good.  Today I ran eight miles after school, and though it wasn’t fast, it didn’t feel bad.  Well, it felt a little bad in the middle when I suddenly had to pee.  I was behind the floodwall on the greenway, and I began to obsess.  Those are the times I wish I were a man.  But I’m not, so I decided I just needed to make it another mile to my sister’s.  Even if she wasn’t home, I know where she keeps her key.  She was home, so I did my business, got a drink of water, checked out what she was cooking for dinner (if it weren’t turkey burgers, I might have stayed), and ventured on.  I managed to get my eight miles in; I didn’t feel like the rock star I had hoped to feel like, but I did it – after working all day, I might add.

So, it seems my excuses for not running the 10k are pretty much invalid at this point.  So what is really holding me back?  Pride.  Ugly, ugly, immature pride.  I have run a 10k before.  I was in better shape then.  I ran rather fast.  I happen to have a spreadsheet of Gary’s and my race times that I always refer back to before a race, and I know that I cannot run Saturday at the same pace I ran my last 10k, and that will piss me off.   I know that a reasonable person would run for the sake of running a fun race with her girlfriends and enjoying some breakfast afterward.  A reasonable person would run because it is going to be 70 degrees in March, and we just never know what the temps will be around here anymore.  I am not really reasonable. 

In the end, I will probably sign up.  I know that I will enjoy the race with my girlfriends, and I will happily devour some syrup-soaked pancakes and make up for all the calories I burned.  I will be proud that I complete 6.2 miles because that in itself is something to be very proud of.  Isn’t it?

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Motivation (or Lack Of!)

The weather continues to baffle us here in the midwest.  Monday, I ran wearing three layers, running tights, an earband, and gloves.  Tuesday, I ran wearing shorts and a long-sleeved t-shirt – and I was sweating like it was July.  Last night it was pleasant when we ran; a long-sleeved t-shirt and yoga pants were more than enough.  Today, it’s freezing again – and raining. 

The last several weeks, I have worked hard to stay motivated because I am supposed to run a 10k (6.2 miles) next weekend, and a half marathon at the end of April.  My body, however, has worked against me.  First it was my belly churning and processing at the most inconvenient of times.  Mixed in with that discomfort was pain in my left knee.  It began to subside, but then reappeared Monday at about mile four of a seven miler.  I continued to run despite the pain because I was determined to get a long run in (I ate A LOT Sunday).  As soon as I got back to my car, I hit the seven mile mark, and my knee was finished.  Though I felt as though I was hobbling those last three miles, my overall pace remained steady.  My frustration also remained steady.

Tuesday I had to strategically plan my run.  Addison is on the fine arts academic team, and their first competition was out of town that evening.  I had about 30 minutes to get a run in, and then had to wash up at school, and put back on my dress clothes.  I took off from school, and decided that running a 3-mile loop would make the most sense.  The problem with that was that loop included Mozart hill – the one-mile long killer hill.  The hill I hadn’t run in months.  The hill I detest.  It was also the hill I needed to run in order to prove to myself that I can still run it.  My run began downhill, which was great.  When I approached the uphill portion, I really wanted to turn around.  However, in order to get back to school – and my clothes and car – I had to go up a hill.  I pushed ahead.  When I am trying to ascend a beastly hill, I chant to myself PUSH!  PUSH!  While that is coming out of my mouth, in my mind I am asking myself why the heck I thought it was a good idea to run Mozart.  I did make it up the hill.  Without stopping.  And whenever I reach the crest of the hill and round the corner onto a relatively flat street I am always proud that I have once again conquered The Hill. 

On that run my knee was a little sore, and by my Wednesday night run, it didn’t hurt at all.  If I have a couple good runs, I will run the 10k with my friends next weekend.  If my knee or belly continues to give me problems, I will focus on the half marathon.  I am so looking forward to spring weather sticking around.  Rather than run in the cold rain tonight, I am going to Zumba.  It is great for cross-training, and a nice change of pace. 

There are many different things that motivate us to exercise.  Some of the things on my list include time with my friends, time to process my day, the amazing feeling of having finished a run, my husband’s perseverence in running, my daughters’ new interest in running, and my friends.  I am always inspired to continue on when I participate in races.  The variety of runners and their dedication never cease to impress me.  What inspires you to exercise?  How can you inspire others?  One of the best things about the sport of running is that runners are such a supportive group of people.  Because I had special people who encouraged and inspired me, I feel the need to pay it forward and do the same for others.

Need some motivation?  Summer, aka bathing suit weather, is only three months away!  Now get up and move!