Celebrating 10 Years

I cannot believe it’s been so many months since I last added to my blog. One would think that with our kids grown and on their own, life would slow down, but it just seems to get busier. Today we are having our first virtual school day, so I am home trying to stay warm, trying to keep our four dogs warm and out of trouble, and checking in with students as they complete their Elearning assignments. It’s a great day to write since I refuse to step outside.

Last week was my 52nd birthday. I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday at all, but I am pretty happy because it was also when I celebrated ten years of running. Ten years. When I started running, I honestly never dreamed that I would actually stick with it. I had never stuck with any form of exercising, and I didn’t really like running, so I just kept waiting to quit. And then something unexpected happened; it changed my life.

I didn’t plan to start running. My husband and I realized we were really out of shape in 2008. We were in Alaska on vacation, and everywhere we went people were biking, hiking, or running. We were struggling to hike. As my 42nd birthday approached, I was becoming more and more depressed. My dad died at 42 of a heart attack, and I just didn’t want a year of being 42. I finally decided to try running; I wanted to be proactive and take care of my heart, and of my mental health. I had always hated running, but I had a few friends who ran, and my husband had begun to run. I started by running on our gravel road. I had no idea what it would lead to. I had no idea that running would change our world. I had no idea the beauty I would experience because of running.

Running has done so much for me that I could write far more than anyone would ever want to read, so I’ll just give the highlight reel. First, running has given me confidence. After several months of trying to become a runner, I began to enter some races, starting with 5Ks. Crossing finish lines, no matter where I finish, has given me confidence in every area of my life. It has taught me that if I set goals, do the work, and get the the starting line, I can reach goals that I once thought impossible. Running also gave me the confidence to try new forms of exercise. I became a Zumba instructor, and taught several classes for a couple years. Then I got my certification to teach Tabata Bootcamp and taught early morning classes for four years. Through these classes and through Everbody’s Fitness, I’ve met so many inspirational and encouraging people. Most recently, I began to help coach our junior high cross country teams. Anyone who knew me in high school would find that hard to believe. Because I can’t keep up with most of the kids, I ride my bike alongside them and encourage (push?) them to keep going. I understand how hard running really is, and know the dedication these kids have for the sport.

Running has provided me with some fantastic experiences. I’ve not only run too many 5Ks to keep track of, but I’ve also run a few 10Ks, and 15 or 16 Half Marathons. We’ve run races in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Virginia Beach, to name a few.  I’ve run while visiting Lake Tahoe, Tybee Island, and Louisville. While visiting new places, I’ve found that going for a run is a great way to check out the area. One of my favorite runs was in Chicago. I ran along the lake and had the museums in front of me, Lake Michigan on my left, and the incredible skyline on my right. In my world, that was heaven. Another favorite run was in Lake Tahoe. We were there for my step-son’s wedding, so I took advantage of being is such a beautiful place by making sure I got in early morning runs. One year while were in Las Vegas with several of my cousins and my sister, my husband and I got up early (yes, in Vegas), and ran a 5K before the others got up. We were back at the hotel in time to meet them for breakfast. The views during the race were amazing!

One of the best parts of running is the people. The running community as a whole is so supportive. Seasoned (and fast) runners cheer on the back-of-the-packers; everyone knows how difficult it is just to get to the starting line. The camaraderie of races is like nothing else I’ve experienced. The runners are friendly and excited about the possibilities of every race, no matter the difference in goals. One can see the determination and quiet nervousness of those in front who have the potential to place, and as the line goes on, one can observe the chattiness of those who are there simply to finish, or to spend those miles with their friends. I have run races alone, and with friends. Running with friends definitely makes the miles go by faster, but sometimes I like to run alone so I have no pressure to keep up with anyone, or to wait for anyone if I happen to be having a good day.

Running has given me the opportunity to share miles with my family. My husband and I have gone to almost all of my races together. We share our struggles and our victories. He encourages me to train and supports my running. He is always there for me when I need him to cheer me on. I’ve also had the amazing blessing of running with other family members. I’ve run my niece Erin’s first half marathon with her in Indianapolis, my niece Emily’s first half marathon with her in Bloomington, and my middle daughter Bethany’s first half with her in Indy. I cannot begin to express how much those races meant to me. Sharing a race experience is one of those times one won’t forget; it will always be a special memory.

Running has become something I share with my friends. The first friend I ran with was Jackie. We began together, desperately trying to add miles. In the beginning, we couldn’t imagine how runners actually talked to one another on runs. We could hardly breathe. As we became more experienced, we began to talk…and never stopped! Jackie’s sister, Kassi, then joined us. Because of schedule differences, the three of us don’t run as often now, but they have been my friends for over 40 years, and are part of my running story. They will always be my sisters. I’ve had some other running friends, but now I mostly run with coworkers after school. Kelly and Jennifer are much better runners than I, and they are much younger. They both push me to work harder. Most of the time they are a little ahead chatting away, while I follow, gasping the whole way. The three of us, along with our other friends and coworkers, Katie and Mary Jane, have run a few races together. The most important of those was the St. Jude Half Half Marathon. Katie is a St. Jude survivor, so that race is the most meaningful I’ve done.

I will never be a fast runner. I’ll never win races. I will continue to run as long as my body allows. I hope to experience new places through running, and to continue to encourage others along the way. I hope to always challenge myself and to set goals. I want my grandkids and my students to see that one is never too old to try something new or to get fit. If you are middle-aged or beyond and have thought about doing something new and healthy, do it! Know your limitations and start out small, but don’t let anyone tell you you can’t or that you are too old.

Happy Running Birthday to me!

 

 

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Everyone’s Grandma Betty

Every once in awhile, God places angels right here among us. Grandma Betty, as she is affectionately known, was indeed an angel. I recently read a quote that said, “Your smile is your logo; your personality is your business card; how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.” Betty shared her logo with everyone with whom she crossed paths, and one always felt better after spending time with her. She had the ability to make everyone feel loved and appreciated. She made others feel better about themselves simply by being Betty. That is truly a gift.

Going out shopping, to an auction, or to dinner with Betty was always an experience. She knew everyone, and it seemed that everyone was her cousin. Her family seemed to blanket Perry, Breckinridge, and Hancock counties. I often wondered if all of these people were actually her cousins, or if Betty just had so much love in her heart that she wanted everyone to feel like family.

I still remember the day I first met Betty. We had just moved into the house across the street from her, and she and Dorothy, another neighbor, came over to introduce themselves. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.Over the years, Betty became part of our family. She was a second mother to me, offering her wisdom and love whenever it was needed, even times when I didn’t know I needed it. She became a grandmother to my daughters, sharing her love of baking and of laughter with them. They loved walking across the street to Grandma Betty’s. I loved having someone who would share both my joys and my tears. No matter how down I might feel, talking to Betty always made me feel comforted. And when I had good news, she would end up being more excited than I was.

About 18 years ago, when my daughters were young and I was working full time as a hairdresser, I began to consider going to college to become a teacher. It was an intimidating decision, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Betty encouraged me, never doubting that I could do it, and shared her stories of nursing school. She let me know that she would be there for me, and when I finally began classes, she even kept Addie while I went to school. It was during this time that Addie started her coffee addiction. “I just give her milk with a little coffee in it,” Betty would laugh. Addie and Betty had their routine; Betty let Addie watch her shows on Nickelodeon, cooked her better lunches than she would ever get at home, and they would swing. We all have such fond memories of the swing in Betty’s yard. And her yard…that lady could grow flowers. I will never look at an iris without thinking about Betty.

She took great pride in her flowers and in her home. She and I shared a love of decorating and of antiques. We’d go to a shop where she’d purchase some treasure, usually saying, “Don’t tell anyone how much a paid for this!” Every time I went to Betty’s house, something was new or rearranged. Her table was always set, and there was always candy on the bar for all of her kids. One always felt welcome in Grandma Betty’s home.

Betty spent her life helping others. Whether it was raising her six children or nursing ill patients, teaching school children or rocking babies at daycare, so many in our community were made a little better by a hug or kind word from Betty. As we all say our final good-byes, we need to take a piece of that with us and love fully just as she did. We need to pay attention, and when someone needs a lift, provide it. We need to make every child who crosses our paths know that he or she is loved and cared for. We need to encourage those who come behind us on this journey to chase their dreams, just as she chased hers to become a nurse.

And we should all thank Betty’s children for sharing their mother with us. She was so proud that each of them had gone to college, and she was proud of the caring adults they all became. So thank you, Donna, Doug, Debbie, Lorie, Lisa, and Janet. Your mother was a gem and she will be missed by so many. We all have an emptiness in our hearts, yet our hearts are also more full because of the love Betty shared with us all. Until we meet again…

 

In Honor of My Mom

In Honor of My Mom

My mom turns 84 this week, so I thought it was only fitting that I write about her. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t be here because she doesn’t go out after dark, so I knew I was safe. I am 50 years old, and I am still afraid of my mom. Do we ever get beyond wanting to please our mothers? My mother is a strict mother; she always has been, and she hasn’t mellowed out much in her senior years. I first realized this when she threatened my misbehaving children with a fly swatter when they were youngsters.

When we were young children living in Hammond, my older brother and his friends spent hours outside building forts, riding bikes, and trying to stay out of trouble. Mom was a stay-at-home mom of the 70s, so she always knew where we were. When it was time for us to return home, did she call us like the other moms? Of course not. She blew a whistle. She would stand out on the front porch, take a gigantic breath, and blow that damn whistle as loudly as she could. Birds and small animals would scatter in fear. Mortified, my brother would act like he didn’t hear it, wait a couple minutes, and then announce to his buddies that he thought he’d head home. By the time I was a teen, Mom had given up the whistle (or maybe it disappeared), and she began flashing the front porch light when I was out. There was no pretending it wasn’t coming from my house, so I’d hang my head and walk home while the neighborhood kids tried to control their laughter. Thanks, Mom.

Most parents have some memorable phrases they use with their kids. My mom’s favorite phrase was It just isn’t necessary. No matter our request, if Mom didn’t want to give in, she gave no reason other than it wasn’t necessary. “Can I take gymnastics, Mom?” “No.” “But why not?” I’d inquire. “Because it just isn’t necessary.” Oh, great, Mom. But those piano lessons are necessary? “Can I go out with my friends?” “No, it isn’t necessary.” But it’s fun, Mom. Can’t something just be fun? Algebra isn’t necessary, but I can’t get out of that. Dusting the floorboards isn’t really necessary, is it? But I had to do that.

My mom hates cooking, but she made sure we had balanced meals that included vegetables. I hated – okay, I still hate – vegetables, but she force-fed them to me: spinach (canned, cooked, nasty spinach), green beans, peas, lima beans – we had them all. I think the benefits of these vegetables were canceled out by the Spam she also served. She was one of those moms who made us sit at the table until we had eaten our veggies. Apparently she thought that was necessary. My brother would stash his in his napkin. I, being the younger, more creative sibling, swallowed them whole with my milk. Have you ever swallowed whole green beans? Just the thought of chewing a green bean gags me, so I became quite adept at swallowing them with milk. My family was amused by my ingenuity, and would watch me as I swallowed them down one by one.

My mom is a clean freak. In Mom’s home, everything has a very specific place. Her books and remotes are lined up with the edge of her end table. She has absolutely no clutter. How does she live like that? She is at that stage in life when she is getting rid of things. She’s even given back family photos we have given her. Thanks, Mom. Wouldn’t want those old things cluttering up your house. Every single year, she did spring and fall cleaning. Her house was already spotless, so I’m not sure why this was necessary. She would scrub down every wall; I’ve never scrubbed down an entire wall. Is that really necessary? She would Jubilee every piece of furniture (remember that thick, white furniture cleaner?); I am certain that’s not necessary. Mom, even at nearly 84, still keeps her house spotless. Last August I heard my cell phone ringing at school. I checked and saw it was Mom; she never calls during the workday, so I answered. In her weakest voice she told me she had fallen, and was certain she’d broken her wrist. I took off to get her and take her to the ER. As we were driving, she explained that she had been standing on a stool, cleaning her top cabinets. The next thing she knew, she was on the floor. Cleaning is dangerous, Mom. Stop it. It just isn’t necessary to stand on a stool when you’re home alone just so you can clean something that no one will ever see.

Not only is my mom’s home spotless; she also keeps her car looking like new. A few years ago, Mom decided to spruce up her car a bit. Do you remember those spinners that young kids put on their wheels? They were metal and, well, they spun around as the car moved. They were really intended for hot rods or cars that were all jacked up and had bass that could be heard from a mile away, but for some reason, Mom thought they were neat, and had a set installed. So, on the front of her car was a plate that said ‘I Love Country Music’, and on her wheels were spinners, the ultimate oxymoron. That’s the year I bought her black bikini underwear that said “Hot Momma” for Christmas. She did not find that amusing.

My mother did not find me very amusing this past Christmas either. I decided to buy a couple bottles of wine. My daughters are adults, as are my nieces, so I thought it’d be nice to try some local wines. I had worked my tail off preparing a nice Christmas; my husband had knee surgery two days earlier; and I was stressed. Wine was necessary. I thought it was a nice gesture, but later found that if she could, Mom would have used that fly swatter on me. I was in trouble – at 50 years old – for serving wine in my own house. I’m getting her a bottle of wine for her birthday.

Someday, I am quite certain my own daughters will compile their own list of “mom” stories. I intend to follow in my own mom’s footsteps and provide them with plenty of material.

Rex Greenland 1932-1974

June 7, 1974. I awoke that morning at my Grandma Allen’s house. My sister’s graduation was the night before, and afterward I spent the night with Grandma because we were moving from Hammond to Hobart to be closer to my dad’s business, the R. W. Greenland Co. His business made tiny colored gravel for aquariums.

After breakfast, the old, black rotary phone at Grandma’s rang. By the tone of Grandma’s voice, I could tell something was wrong. As she replaced the receiver, she turned to me and said words I’ll never forget, “Honey, lay yourself across the bed and cry; your daddy just died.” As a seven year old, I don’t think the words truly registered. How could my dad have died? We were moving that day. We needed him. I needed my dad.

My dad had been up in the attic getting things down for the movers when he suffered a major heart attack; he was 42. My sister was 18, my brother 14, and I was seven. That moment in time changed the course of our lives. The rest of the day was a whirlwind. We were very active in Southside Christian Church, as my dad was an elder and an organist. I remember church members just showing up to help us complete our move. Our neighbors, the Rectors (who are more like family), welcomed us into their home and helped take care of us kids. We made the move to Hobart, but only stayed there about six months before moving back to Munster, which was closer to friends, family, and church.

I remember thinking I was having a bad dream and would eventually wake up and Dad would still be there. I thought that for a very long time. I would talk to dad as if I were praying. I just didn’t understand how God could take such a good man away from us. I still don’t.

In the seventies, therapy wasn’t something ‘normal’ people took advantage of. Our family was expected to just move on. My mother told me that not long after Dad died, she was having a bad day, afterall, she was a 41 year old stay-at-home mom who was suddenly left alone to raise three children. She went to my Grandma’s house in tears, and Grandma told her she needed to stop crying and get over it. We never talked about Dad. I believe that family friends avoided talking about him around us because they were afraid it would just upset us. On the contrary, it’s much more upsetting to not remember him because we never talked about him. I still love to visit with our friends, the Rectors, because they will tell me stories about my dad.

Living life without my dad has been difficult. Even now, at 50 years old, I miss him tremendously. I see daughters and fathers, and feel the loss of never having had that special relationship. As I graduated, married, and had children, there was always an empty space. What kind of grandfather would he have been? Would he be proud of the things I’ve accomplished? What advice would he have for me? What would it feel like to have my father hold me when I’m sad?

I believe that all life’s events – good and bad – are part of our path, and that has helped. Had my dad have lived, our lives would be so different. We would not have moved to Tell City (this is where my step-dad is from), so I wouldn’t have my girls, and I would not have met Gary. I have a great life, and I have wonderful people whom I love. For that I am grateful. I can’t help but wonder, though, what my career would have been. Would dad’s company have continued to grow? Dad was pretty ambitious, so I wonder what else he would have tried. He was also a great musician and wrote music. I wonder what traits of my dad’s I carry. I feel that my youngest daughter, Addie, got dad’s musical ability. She has taught herself to play the piano, and has worked on some of the songs Dad wrote. She even looks like my dad, so I can catch glimpses of him.

When I turned 42, I struggled. All I had ever associated with that number was my dad’s death. As my birthday approached, I became more depressed. I had to do something, or my husband had threatened he would put me in therapy. That’s when I began to run. I decided I needed to be proactive and take care of my heart. I didn’t know if I would keep up with the running; I had never been able to keep up with any type of exercise prior to that. It’s been eight years now, and I have my dad to thank for my running. I still run for him, and because of running, I am a happier, more confident person. It has changed my life.

It’s been 43 years since I lost my dad…that’s a lifetime. I will never stop missing him or wondering what life would’ve been, but I am content in knowing that I have made the best of this life, worked hard to accomplish my goals, and have tried to use my experience to help kids who have lost parents. Dad, I love you.

Turns Out 50 Isn’t Just a Number

I have been 50 for just over a month. It’s been a busy month, but I’ve still had time to analyze this next phase of my life. What I’ve come to learn is that a lot of people lied to me. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard 50? It’s just a number!  You’re 50? Oh, don’t worry about that; it’s just a number. You are all liars.

Guess what. It is not just a number. Not at all. 50 is hot flashes. 50 is wrinkly skin and baggy eyes. 50 is weight gain that can’t be explained. 50 is going to bed at 9:00. 50 is running slower even when one is training harder. 50 is craving chocolate. 50 is not just a number.

I’ve always known I wouldn’t age gracefully; I would fight it every step of the way. Some things I can’t really do much about. The hot flashes hit this past fall. I suppose it was nature’s way of getting me ready to turn 50. I remember my mother having them; it wasn’t pretty. And God forbid we tease her. That was not allowed. I thought I had hot flashes when I was pregnant, but I was really just hot all the time. These menopausal hot flashes are a different beast. They begin at my core and within three seconds consume my body. When I am at home, I start fanning, moving clothes, throwing off blankets, and sometimes go out to the garage where it’s cool. At night in bed, sometimes I just strip. In my younger years, that meant a completely different thing. At 50, it just means I am on fire. Flannel sheets? Hell no. I cannot even imagine how miserable those things – that I once loved – would feel. Heavy sweaters for work? Nope.

Weight gain. This is a real issue for me, and one I am not handling well. Until my late 30s, weight was never an issue. I could eat whatever I wanted (burgers, candy, donuts, chips, and on and on), and I still maintained my petite size. In my forties, this all changed. Suddenly I had to exercise, run miles and miles, and I had to be more conscientious about what I consumed. Still, an occasional cookie – or sleeve of Girl Scout cookies – didn’t hurt me; I just ran it off. Oreos and milk were still on my menu. My favorite post-run snack was a Diet Pepsi and Nutty Bars. I could not eat what I did in my earlier years, but I could eat smaller portions of what I liked.

Fast forward to the last year. I can’t eat shit. As of today, I am at my highest weight (besides when I was carrying another human inside of me). I know that it’s not awful, but on my five foot frame, those little fat cells are just accumulating around my middle. Heck, my workout clothes are too tight. I put my age, weight, and goal weight into the Lose It app a couple weeks ago, and to lose one pound a week, I can only eat 1049 calories a day! Seriously. As I was going through the McDonald’s drive-through today (Don’t judge – I got a Diet Coke and grilled chicken), I saw that one of those mint shakes has 680 calories. That’s over half of my daily allowance. That, my friends, sucks.

And if you watch television, you’ve seen that food, really fattening food, is marketed constantly. We have always joked about how little my mother eats at holiday gatherings. She literally has a teaspoonful of each item. Now I get it. If I eat a normal meal, I see it on the scale. I listened to a podcast while I was running today, and a doctor was talking about fat. She learned that she has to stop eating at 4:00 p.m., and doesn’t eat again until 10:00 a.m. She is a scientist and learned that there is something that happens at night that gets rid of fat, and if she gives it more time to work, she can maintain her weight. I would starve. And my family would make me move out because I’d be mean.

So, what’s the answer? I have not yet figured it out. I have begun to drink more water, and I can already tell a difference in how I feel. I was up to about five diet soft drinks a day. My belly felt bloated all the time, and I knew it was just bad for me. I am going to work on my diet, but it’s a struggle. I truly don’t like most veggies. I can’t even force them down. My daughters are all working at losing weight and getting in better shape, so that will help.

Skin. There are all kind of anti-aging products out there, but geez, they are expensive! Nerium and Rodan and Fields are constantly on my Facebook feed, and some good friends sell them, but I just cannot afford them. I found something less expensive that I am going to try. As strange as it sounds, I ordered Robin McGraw’s skincare (you know, Dr. Phil’s wife). I watched her pitch at the end of one of his shows (Don’t judge; there isn’t much on at that time), and since it was affordable, I thought I’d try it. I’ll keep you posted (it hasn’t arrived yet).

There are a few positives about being 50. I can tell people I am wiser; I’m really still learning, but because I am old, it seems like I should be wiser. I really worried about my wardrobe for awhile, but then I decided that I am 50; I can wear whatever I want. I also feel bolder in standing up for what is right and good. What the heck – I don’t have that many years left to say what I think.

I often think about what my mom was like at my age. She exercised and worked to maintain her health, but she did nothing outside of caring for her house and for me. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but I would be so bored. I am on the other extreme. I work full-time as an eighth grade teacher, teach Tabata classes, sell real estate, run, direct the high school play with my daughter, coach an academic team, and I just finished coaching the JV cheer team. It’s a busy life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I find rewards in all I do. For me, at 50, I still have a lot to give. I get really tired on some of my busy days, but if I am making a difference in a kids’ life, helping someone else get more fit, or helping someone find his dream home, it’s worth it.

50 isn’t just a number. It’s a large number that means life is passing by quickly. It’s a number that means I probably should spend less time obsessing over the negatives and more time appreciating what I can do. I ran nine miles today. I ran slower than I used to, but I ran nine miles on a Sunday afternoon just because I could. This body that is carrying several extra pounds carried me nine miles. This body, that some days I really dislike, can still do squats, burpees, pushups, and more. This body can climb up to my classroom several times a day to teach thirteen year olds to write, to read well, and to be kind to one another. This 50 year old body can run and climb with my grandkids and kayak with my husband. This 50 year old slightly chubby body can laugh and cry and encourage and scream and love.

50? It’s not just a number.

 

 

2017…Bring it on!

2017 is upon us, and as is typical, I like to take time to reflect upon the previous year, and make plans for the upcoming year. I don’t make resolutions; they are usually broken. I do try to set some goals for myself, but I make them something I can manage. I set goals throughout the year, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Even on days I am off work, I set little goals like finishing laundry, getting photos in albums, or taking some time to read.

2016 was a decent year for us. Morgan and her family moved back home after living in four states in as many years. I ran three half marathons, one of which was with my daughter Bethany. My husband began a new job and is now teaching in the same school as I. Nothing extraordinary happened, but nothing devastating happened either (except Trump getting elected, but I won’t go there).

As I was driving to visit my mother today, with my five year old grandson in the back seat, I thought about my goals for 2017. I turn 50 in 24 days. I was not bothered when I turned 30 or 40, but 50 is a little tough. I find myself questioning my clothing choices…You’re almost 50; should you really wear those leggings? You’re almost 50; you should consider more practical shoes…You’re almost 50; maybe you should cut your hair shorter. So, my first goal is to accept 50 as just another number, to wear what I want, and to get in shape. My next goal is to run stronger, to prove that just because I’m 50 doesn’t mean I can’t improve; 50 doesn’t mean I have to change who I am. I’ve gotten slower the last two years, especially after knee surgery, but is that just an excuse? I intend to find out. My friend Mary Jane and I plan to train harder for our half marathons that will take place in the spring. I want to be in the best shape I can and not let 50 be an excuse to let up on exercise.

rhett

With Layne chatting away in the backseat, I thought about a more important goal: making great memories for my grandkids. I thought about the precious memories I have of my grandmothers, especially my Grandma Allen. What I realized was that those memories have nothing to do with things or money. Grandma Allen was poor by today’s standards, but I never knew that. She never owned her own home; she made her own clothes; and she lived a very conservative life. Until I was 16, Grandma lived in a garage that had been converted to an apartment. I loved that little place. It had a little bedroom, bathroom, small living room, and a kitchen, and it was perfect.

The only trips Grandma took were to visit my uncle in Texas, and he paid for those trips. She had a handful of toys for us grandkids to play with, and she saved her thread spools and greeting cards for our entertainment. My cousins and I would build great towers with those spools, and would attempt to stack greeting cards creating card houses. I don’t remember my grandma ever buying me anything or taking me anywhere, except one summer when she took my cousin, Marcia, and me to visit family in Kentucky.

Marcia and I were city girls, so this trip with Grandma was  quite the adventure. We spent a week on Christine’s farm, and a few days at our Great Aunt Lillian’s farm. We explored their homes, built a tree house out of odds and ends, and easily entertained ourselves. We had no electronics, but we had the best time. Grandma didn’t need Disney World to make great memories for us.

The memories I have with my grandma are of her  spending time with me. She would make me grilled cheese for dinner and popcorn for a snack. I slept with her in her bed, and she always complained about my kicking her all night. I went with her to the laundromat and the grocery store. She didn’t buy lavish gifts or take me to museums. She didn’t buy me a treat every time we went to the store. She didn’t have to. Her time and her love were all I needed to create those beautiful memories that I hope to create with my grandkids.

We feel very blessed that Morgan and her family are here so that we have the opportunity to spend time with her kids. Gary’s daughter and her family live in Virginia, so we are lucky to see them once a year. We both really miss just getting to know her children, and being able to spend time with them. I hate that they won’t have memories of us being in their lives as they’ve grown up.

Layne is five, so he is at that oh-so-inquisitive age. I bet he has said, “Hey, Nana…” 100 times this week. “Hey, Nana, why are there trees?” “Hey, Nana, how did they make that gym floor?” “Hey, Nana, what was your dad’s name?” And as a Nana, I cherish every single Hey, Nana. I hope he and Rhett always want to spend time with us. I hope they remember the little moments, like our walks to see the horses or going to basketball games together. I hope they grow up to be better men having spent time with us. I hope they will always say, “Hey, Nana?”

Bring on 2017. I am ready to be an fun-loving 50 year old nana! Bring on those hot flashes, wrinkles, and age spots. I won’t let them hold me back from being the best senior citizen I can be. Happy New Year!

We Did It!!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running 13.1 miles with my middle daughter, Bethany, at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It was truly a memorable weekend. We took off for Indy Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then walked a few blocks to the Convention Center for the expo. Bethany had been to an expo with me, but not as a runner. While there, we got a little caught up in the excitement and signed up for another half marathon, the Indy 500 Mini in May. We got a free tech tee for signing up early, and who doesn’t want a free shirt? It was fun just to explore the booths, but it was more fun to carb load afterward. We chose Scotty’s Brewhouse for our last big pre-race meal. While most runners would choose a healthy, carb-filled meal (Is that an oxymoron?), I wanted to try something different: a grilled cheese with pulled pork and mac and cheese on it. Yup. It was messy, but delicious. And on the side? Cottage fries with cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Hey…I was going to be running over 13 miles the next morning; I needed energy. Bethany chose grilled chicken. Boring. But that might be one of the reasons she beat me!

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When running a long-distance race, there is so much that can go wrong, starting with the weather. Two years ago when my niece, my husband, and I ran the Monumental, it was 15 degrees. It was miserable. Yesterday the weather was perfect. It was chilly while we were waiting to start, but not unbearable. Once we began running, it was gorgeous. Indy is a beautiful city in which to run, and on a sunny day, it’s even more brilliant. Another obstacle to a successful race is stomach issues. Without going into gross detail, yesterday went well. Even my playlist was put together perfectly, which was a total fluke. I had tried to put ‘Living on a Prayer…Halfway there’ at about the 6.5 mile mark, and it landed exactly where I wanted it to.

Bethany seemed to enjoy every moment of the race, which is what I had hoped she would do. I told her ahead of time to take it all in.I didn’t want her to worry about her time or about whether or not she’d finish; I knew she would. The joy of the race comes not only from achieving a monumental goal, but also from enjoying the small moments, the cheers from the spectators (who were amazing yesterday), the sounds of music along the course, the funny signs, and the other runners who all have stories about why they are there. The joy comes from the scenery, the gorgeous neighborhoods, and the pounding of thousands of feet, all working toward the same goal. The joy comes when you see a firefighter in full gear, including his tank, running a marathon, runners with pictures of loved ones ironed on their shirts, and children along the route offering high fives. A few miles into our run, Bethany said, “This is so much fun!” And at mile eight she said, “Mom, I think it’s so cool that you run. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” That was my favorite moment in the race. I don’t know if she even knows how much that meant to me. We, as parents, never know what our children will learn from us. Knowing that I had a small part in her achieving something she never thought possible, and that gave her so much confidence, was indescribable.

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As the race went on, I could tell that Bethany could run faster. I was settling into about a 10:35 pace, which was fine with me, but she kept easing a little ahead. At mile 9, I told her to go. I did not want to hold her back if she could go faster. She hesitated, but then a lady running near us also encouraged her to go. She told her that it would make it harder for me if I knew she was waiting, and that if she felt good, she should take advantage of it because it might not happen again. She took off, and I relaxed knowing she was running her race. I was tired those last few miles, but kept a steady pace. Crazy things can run through a runner’s mind when exhaustion sets in. At one point I thought maybe I’ll get a 13.1 tattoo after this. It’s my tenth half marathon, and geez, this is hard. I deserve to have a tattoo. When I told my husband that had run through my mind, he just rolled his eyes. At mile 11, I reminded myself that I was NEVER going to run a full marathon. I couldn’t imagine having another 15 miles to go.

Bethany ended up finishing about five minutes before I did. I am so proud of her! Running is hard work. It takes dedication and determination, and it’s physically demanding. It takes time to train, and with our busy lives, carving that time out isn’t always easy. Completing a race can be life-changing; it gives us confidence in all areas of our lives. I am so thrilled to have shared this journey with my daughter. Congratulations, Bethany!

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