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!

 

 

Half Marathon #12 Training

In eight days I will be running my 12th half marathon. The Indy 500 Mini Marathon has been on my bucket list for a few years, but it usually falls the same weekend we take our eighth graders to Washington, DC. This year our trip is the week after the mini, so my daughter Bethany and I signed up. We actually signed up when we were at the expo for the Monumental Half Marathon in November. Bethany was a little freaked out that she signed up for her second half marathon before she’d run her first. But hey, we got $5 off and a free tech shirt, so how could we go wrong?

Bethany and I have been training for a couple months. Now that I am 50, I’ve found my long runs just keep getting slower. However, last weekend we ran our longest run of 11 miles, and our pace was a respectable 10:35 (respectable for me, but maybe not for Bethany). Sunday I ran five miles with my fast friends. They make running look so effortless while I am about 15 feet behind struggling to breathe. They were chatting away, and would occasionally ask me a question, but I had no idea what they were even talking about. So why do I run with them? Because I love them, and because it pushes me. Sometimes I get comfortable just getting my miles in, but I don’t really push myself out of that comfort zone. If I want to run well, I have to be willing to be uncomfortable. We ran those five miles at a 9:45 pace, which at this point is super fast for me. Jennifer had already run five miles, and then added another 3.1 after our five…at an 8:15 pace. Geez.

Fast. Something I’ve never been, nor will I ever be. When I talk to my eighth graders about my running, they don’t get that concept. When I told them I was running the Indy Mini, some asked if I thought I would win. Sure, Kids. I’m confident that out of the 30-35,000 runners, I will win. I told them that really isn’t the goal of most runners. But it’s a race. Why would you enter a race if you don’t think you can win, Mrs. Stath? I tried to explain the age groups, and how my goal is usually to place in the top 20% of my age group. But why would you run over 13 miles for that? Ummm…because we get really cool medals and a shirt. I guess from a 13 year old’s perspective, the fact that a 50 year old teacher would run 13.1 miles to get a medal doesn’t make much sense. It made me ask myself why I really do it.

There are so many reasons to run a half marathon. First, there is no other feeling like crossing that finish line, knowing I did something that not many people do. I have done the work – and it is work – and accomplished my goal. Running it with my daughter? That is a pleasure that not many moms get to experience. Running this distance has been life-changing for me. I didn’t begin running until I was 42, and I ran my first half almost seven years ago at 43. I never dreamed I could run 13 miles; I thought it was silly to even want to run for over two hours. But I did it. It taught me that even as a middle-aged mom and grandmother, I could still meet new challenges. It gave me confidence to take risks. I love the camaraderie of the running community. When we go to Indianapolis next weekend, I will enjoy being surrounded by other runners at the hotel, expo, and restaurants. There’s just a different type of energy in the air.

Running long distance doesn’t come without sacrifice and sometimes discomfort. My hip began hurting a couple weeks ago. It was fine when I ran, but hurt after. It is better after a couple trips to the chiropractor, and I have three more appointments scheduled for next week, including one right before we leave for Indy. Runners also sacrifice time. Long runs take time away from family, not only during the run itself, but when I am crashed on the couch afterward. Thankfully my husband is supportive since he was also a runner. Knowing he will be there when I finish makes me look forward to the finish line even more.

Bethany, thank you for taking time to train with me and to commit to this race. There really is something special about pounding the pavement with you. I am so incredibly proud of you. Let’s rock this race! Do you think we can win?

Half Marathon #10

On November 5 I will run my tenth half marathon, the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It’s been two years since I ran an entire 13.1 miles; the last three I worked some walking in for various reasons. I need to know I can still run the whole route – that my knee can endure 13.1 miles of pounding.

However, accomplishing that goal is not the most important aspect of the race. This race is special because I will be running it with my daughter Bethany. She began running in January of this year, and has since run a couple 5Ks and a 5-miler. She decided this summer that she was ready to take on the challenge of running her first half marathon, and I agreed to train and run with her. When Gary and I began running almost eight years ago, our hope was that we would be a positive example for our kids and grandkids. We wanted to show them that it is never too late to live a healthier lifestyle; it is never too late to set and achieve goals. Since that time, all of the girls have worked fitness into their lives. Gary’s daughter Tamara and her girls have participated in Girls on the Run; Morgan has run a few races and was recently certified to teach yoga; and the youngest, Addie, has now begun running and hopes to work up to a half marathon. Gary’s son Bryce has always been active. He and his wife run, ski, and climb. I don’t know how much we have influenced our children’s choices, but I hope we’ve had at least a little impact.

bethanymom

Training for this race has been interesting. I haven’t worked as hard as I should. It stayed hot so long that my runs suffered. Our long runs have been slower than I would like, but we’ve kept running. This past Saturday we ran 11 miles, our longest training run. It went better than our previous long runs, and I feel that Bethany is ready for this race and will run well. I feel that I had better quit eating junk for the next two weeks and increase my water intake or I’m going to struggle. No matter what, I wouldn’t trade these past weeks of sharing this experience with my daughter. I cannot wait for her to experience crossing that finish line because I know it can be life-changing. I know she will gain a confidence she’s never experienced. I know she will feel a sense of pride that is unlike any other. I know she’ll want to sign up for another!

I have had the unique pleasure of running two of my nieces’ first half marathons with them, and felt so blessed that they wanted to share that time with me. After running a couple 5Ks and a 10K together, Erin and I ran the Monumental two years ago – it was 15 degrees that day. Emily and I ran the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington. Despite being held April 9, it was 20 degrees at the start, and it did not warm up (I won’t even get into the hills). Now I have the honor of running 13.1 with Bethany, which I hope will take place on a perfect 55 degree day. There is something special about running a longer race with someone. If you run, you know that some of the best, most honest conversations take place when we are drenched in sweat, our muscles are aching, and yet we carry on…together.

I’ve written before that sometimes a race is about so much more than a PR or personal goals. My best runs have been when I’ve run for a greater cause, whether it was to help someone complete her first half, or to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. The medals earned represent time spent training and sharing in a common goal. The medals represent not giving up, even when it hurts. They represent achieving something that a few years ago seemed impossible.

Bethany, I am so proud of you! You’ve accomplished so much this year, and it is truly my honor to run with you. I pray for clear skies, perfect temps, strong legs, and settled bellies. Heck, maybe someday you, Morgan, Addie, and I can run one together. That would really be a miracle! Let’s eat healthy foods the next two weeks, okay? Good Luck, Bethany! Thank you for allowing me to be your running partner. Thank you for loving yourself enough to take on such a monumental challenge. Now go #BeMonumental!

See ya 2013!

I always write an Old Year/New Year post, and it’s typically long, jumbled, and possibly somewhat boring, but it’s also my way of processing the old year, and welcoming what’s to come.  So, if you’re sitting at home, avoiding laundry and housework, and need a reprieve from the daily chaos, read on.  What follows is a wrap-up of random thoughts.  Here we go…

  • Sunday, as I was waiting for my hair color to work its magic, I transferred birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates from my 2013 calendars to my 2014 calendars (one of which I bought for half price because I waited until the last minute).  As I was carefully writing in the upcoming events, I thought about how wonderful it is that each January, we get the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and start all over with a new year.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do have a few goals.  I will share those at some random point in this blog.
  • 2013 was filled with both blessings and frustrations for us.  Health-wise, it was a tough year.  Last spring, I had the flu, and stomach bug, and then six weeks worth of eye infections.  The entire year I dealt with knee problems that resulted in surgery in August.  It isn’t completely healed, but I am hopeful that it will continue to get stronger, the pain will continue to lessen, and eventually I will return to my running routine in 2014.  Gary had to have hernia surgery, and Addison had (and continues to have) foot problems.  Because of changes to our health insurance (that are infuriating), my rates have doubled, AND we went from a $500 deductible to a $3000 deductible in 2014, so I pray for good health because we can’t afford to be sick.  We will limit trips to the doctor to dire emergencies, and suffer through all other illnesses.  We are educated, middle-class working people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.  There’s something wrong with that.
  • Blessings…We added two members to our family in 2013!  Gary’s son Bryce was married to Krista in October.  It was an amazing weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Krista is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and adventurous young woman, and we are thrilled to welcome her.  We also welcomed a new grandson in December.  Rhett Cail was born December 15, and we met him the following weekend.  He is a beautiful little boy just like his brother Layne and his cousin Gabe.

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

  • Rhett Wayne Cail December 15, 2013

    Rhett Wayne Cail
    December 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2013 was a year of travel for Gary and me.  We went to Virginia Beach, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas, and Lake Tahoe, and we added some short trips to Indy, Northern Indiana, Louisville, and Nashville.  We are fortunate that our family has chosen great vacations spots in which to live.  We won’t be traveling as much in 2014, but are grateful for the experiences we had.  In our eleven years together, Gary and I have had some awesome trips.  Most included the girls, some were just the two of us.  I am so grateful that we enjoy being together and have had some great opportunities.  I look forward to many more!
  • We also added to our family by hosting an exchange student from Germany.  Benita was already in Tell City and a student at our high school.  She had been placed with a couple who had no kids at home, and was new to our town. Because they knew no one, they wouldn’t let Benita do anything with anyone.  The poor girl was miserable.  She came to stay with us in November, and has truly been a blessing.  We have learned a lot about Germany, have enjoyed lots of chocolate, and have loved getting to know this amazing girl who, at only 16, chose to move away from her family for a year to experience America.  She will be with us until the end of May, and I already dread telling her good-bye.  On the bright side, with any luck we will one day visit her in Germany.
Our day in Nashville

Our day in Nashville

  • Along with my knee issues came weight gain.  As of this morning, I am within one pound of my pre-exercise-running-Tabata-healthier-eating weight from 2009.  I knew I would gain weight when I had surgery and could not exercise for six weeks.  After four plus years of exercising four to seven days a week, it was inevitable.  But I also thought that once I jumped back into my workout routines, the pounds would melt away.  They didn’t.  Not. One. Pound.  Finally, when December hit, I decided to not worry about it until after the holidays.  Given my love of baking – and eating what I bake – I knew it was pointless to try to shed weight during the best eating month of the year.  And so I gained another few pounds.  Right now, I am so disgusted with myself.  I worked so hard to get in shape and get to my ideal weight, and now I have to start all over.  My clothes don’t fit, I feel gross, and working out is hard.  Because I am so short, an extra eight pounds makes a huge difference.  I have two new dresses I can’t even wear until I lose the weight because they accentuate my belly flab.  Since they are winter dresses, I am going to have to make progress quickly.  Gary and I went grocery shopping Sunday and bought only healthy food.  I threw away the chocolate caramel cake that we left, gave away cookies, and refrained from baking more (even though I am dying to use my new Kitchenaid Mixer).  I have to get a grip.  I also hope to add more running to my routine because it seems to help me keep my weight down better than any other form of exercise.  I have been teaching five classes a week at the gym for the past two months, so I really haven’t had time to run as much as I like.  Enough on that – I will keep you posted.
I NEED TO RUN!

I NEED TO RUN!

  • Another goal for 2014 is to be more in the present.  I spend too much time on Facebook, and need to spend that time reading a book or chatting with my family.  I completely enjoy Facebook because many of my friends and family members live away, and it is a great way to keep up.  I love seeing their pictures, sharing my pictures, and being motivated by the fitness groups to which I belong.  But I love my family more.  I know it won’t be easy, but I will cut back on computer time, or at least spend some of that time keeping up with my blogs rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
  • I want to get some bills paid off.  I am still working on my hospital bills from August, so that is my first goal.  I also have some added credit card debt from Christmas, so that’ll be next.  I am going to keep my checkbook balanced and stick with my budget.  We finally took a leap and got rid of our home phone, and I have looked for other ways to cut monthly bills.  I think I have scaled back all I can (without causing an uprise in our family).
  • I want to nurture friendships and gently let go of relationships that cause stress.  I value my friends, and would do anything for them.  I pride myself on being a good listener, keeping confidences, and being honest.  I expect the same in return.  I am blessed with some amazing friends, and hope I never disappoint them.  I have also learned that even at our age, there are still those who choose friends based on their social statuses, what benefits they will gain from those friendships, and how it looks to others.  I care about none of that.  I choose my friends based on their character, their sense of humor, and how they treat people.  And my life is so much better because of it!

Friends!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

  • Life is a gigantic lesson, and I believe we need to keep on listening and learning until we take our last breaths.  While we need to know where we stand, we also need to listen because sometimes our opinions can change.  We need to be accepting of others, and gentle with our words.  We need to let go of relationships that are no longer healthy, and hang on tightly to those that matter.  We need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everyone.  But we need to make our own judgments and not judge others based upon what we hear – what ‘they’ say.
    Words to live by...

    Words to live by…

    We have to – and this is big – work to positively influence our youth.  We need to encourage them to work hard, to follow their dreams, and to know that character is just as important as intelligence.  We need to model being good citizens, talk to them about our world, and show them how to treat others.  Our children are reflections of us.  Teach them well.

Some of our influence actually worked!

Some of our influence actually worked!

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy 2014.  I hope to continue with my writing, and it would help me greatly if you would share this with your friends if you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  I would also like to add some followers.  Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

I am beautiful, strong, and wise

The picture below would be an awesome inspirational quote, but then whoever wrote it had to go and ruin it by putting ‘learnt’!  Really?  Learnt?  Apparently he or she ‘learnt’ nothing from an English teacher.  Okay, enough.  Ignore that error, and focus on the meaning.

I hear so many women put themselves down every day.  Heck, I hear thirteen year old girls put themselves down.  Face it, most of us have trouble accepting compliments; rather than just saying thank you, we have to counter with something negative: Oh, I’ve gained some weight; My hair looks terrible today; My face is a mess.  Why can’t we just say Thanks?  We need to be able to say that we are strong, even when at times we feel weak.  We need to acknowledge our beauty, without pointing out our flaws.  Do we have fears?  Sure, but we have many more fearless moments.  Admit you are wise.  The greatest lessons we learn come from our mistakes and from the difficult moments we face.  And every time we make it through those trying times, we become a little wiser (by this point, I should be a genius!).  And I hope we are all lovers – lovers of our family and friends, lovers of our jobs and hobbies, lovers  of the lives we are blessed to live.  I hope the hate we have felt and witnessed has caused us to love deeper.  And we need to laugh every single day (working with junior high students makes that one pretty easy).

Why is all of this important?  Because we are teaching our daughters, nieces, and other young girls in our lives to focus on their flaws.  We need to redefine what beauty is.  How would you describe beauty?  Perfect skin?  Long, flowing, shiny hair?   a thin body?  Or is it a smile that causes others to smile?  Is it a contagious laugh?  Is it when someone stops what she is doing to help someone else?  Is it a young woman who enters a room with confidence?   It is difficult to say, “I am beautiful.”  Try it.  Look in a mirror and say it.  Can you do it?  I might start, but then I see the wrinkles and the gray hair that’s fighting its way through.  And I notice the chub gathering around my belly.  And, crap, there are those brown age spots planting themselves on my face.  It’s easy to say all of that.  I can name every flaw on my body.  And when I do, my girls begin to find their flaws – I want them to see their beauty.

I see their kind eyes and their strong legs.  I watch as they step up to help others, and I see beauty.  I listen to Addison play the piano, and I hear my father’s beautiful notes echoing through hers.   I listen to Bethany talk about working with students, and see the joy in her face; that’s beautiful.  I see Morgan mothering her son – gorgeous.  I watch as Tamara talks with her kids and encourages them to stay true to themselves, and I witness pure beauty.  I see the pictures of Krista rock climbing in Lake Tahoe, and see her strength and courage, and I think nothing is more beautiful.  I want all of these amazing sisters to know the depth of their beauty, strength, and wisdom.  However, if they continually hear me picking apart my flaws, they will do the same.

We, all of us, have to strive to be better, while realizing we are enough.  Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but it’s one that makes perfect sense.  We should always work to learn more, to be healthy and strong, and to experience all we can.  We owe it to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can.  But we also have to realize that we are enough.  We are beautiful the way we are; we are wise; we are strong.  We need to quit comparing ourselves to others, which many times makes us feel that we never quite measure up, and just try to be the best women we can be.  What makes you feel strong?  Do it.  I feel strong when I complete a good workout or have a great run.  Oddly, I feel strong when I am sore – that means I am able to work out.  What makes you feel beautiful?  My husband makes me feel beautiful, but I need to work on feeling beautiful without depending on his compliments.  I feel wise when I learn something new, whether it be in a magazine or book I read, or something I have randomly discovered.  I feel wise when I can share what I have learned.  Do what makes you feel wise.

So, since I am a teacher, I feel compelled to give you an assignment.  For the next week, give compliments.  Not just to your family or close friends, but to strangers or acquaintances.  It will make you feel good.  And, here’s the challenge, when you receive a compliment, just say thank you.  Don’t criticize yourself, and don’t give someone else credit.  Just say thank you.

You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are wise.  Go out and show the love, face life with no fear, and laugh!  Goodnight, Beautiful Friends!
inspiration

16 Days Post-Op…Losing Patience

I am not a patient person, but it’s expected because patience runs thin on my mom’s side of our family.  It is one of my character flaws, but since I am basking in mid-life, I have just accepted it.  And so I am 16 days post-op, and recovering as expected – by the doctor; I expected a miraculous healing.  I am getting around quite well, but then I forget I just had surgery, and I do something careless,, like try to kneel or squat.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not Catholic.  At my post-op checkup, I was told I would not be able to kneel for three or four months.  That might not seem like a big deal, but, seriously, have you ever tried to clean a toilet without kneeling?  Wipe up a floor by bending at your waist?  Squat, you say?  Nope.  I can’t do that either.  I have forgotten I can’t do that, and have squatted down to pick something up, and then pain shoots from my kneecap to every single nerve in my hip, foot, and leg.  And then I remember I can’t squat.   Sunday I simply wanted to sit on the couch.  Sometimes I plop down with my legs underneath me.  I tried this, and again, my knee can’t bend that far back.  I made some primal  (is that a word?  Like a sound that comes from a primate?  Pretend it is.) moan causing my husband to ask what I had done.  Ugh…I just wanted to sit down without propping my leg on a pillow.

I was told I could begin to ease back into exercise, beginning with a little walking, biking, and swimming.  Honestly, I am scared.  My knee still hurts, and the thought of turning bicycle pedals makes my belly turn.  I suck at swimming, so I decided I would go for a walk with my friend and coworker Kelly.  I knew she’d bring her kids in a stroller, which would (hopefully) make her walk a little slower than normal.  We walked over two miles, and I made it, but it was hard.  To go from being able to run 13.1 miles, to barely being able to walk – slowly – two miles is slightly discouraging.  Hell, it’s downright maddening.  But it was nice to have some time in the great outdoors with my friend.  Positive…positive…positive!

Yesterday was my daughter’s first high school golf match.  I don’t like golf.  At all.  Won’t ever.  Yes, I’ve played.  Hated it.  But, being the devoted mother I am, I drove out to Christmas Lake to cheer her on.  And then I found out you cannot cheer in golf.  You may softly utter, “Good Ball’.  That little phrase doesn’t make sense to me.  What’d the ball do?  It was a good shot, good drive, nice putt.  Good ball?  I have lots to learn.  Anyway, the coach from the other team told us we could rent a cart for $5.  I considered it, but then thought I could get a little exercise, and none of the other moms were being wimpy and getting a cart, so I walked.  For three hours I walked up and down hills and stood.  That was one of the most ignorant things I’ve done in a long time (other than purchasing the wrong Cubs tickets).  I was hot; there were bugs; my knee hurt; and I was bored out of my mind.  Golf moves at a snail’s pace.  No, slower.  One hole could take 20 minutes.  By the time I got home, my knee ached like crazy, and it actually hurt all night long, which it hasn’t done since right after surgery.

Tomorrow we have another match at the same place.  And, yes, I will be there with my timid little voice, trying not to make jokes or holler, “Way to go, Babycakes!”, and driving a cart.  I will take a book to read or papers to grade, and I will follow my little princess around in a golf cart.  I will find joy in the moment (probably in the form of a Diet Mountain Dew and a candy bar).   I will rest my knee.

I am supposed to be able to run in a couple more weeks.  Today, I can’t even imagine that.   I am pretty hesitant to try much of anything.  The doctor said I won’t hurt anything, but I could slow recovery, which is just what I don’t want to do.  Getting back in shape is going to be rough.  It takes so long to get into good shape, but gosh, it goes quickly once you stop working out.  I won’t be able to teach Zumba for a few more weeks, and I really need feel good about my mobility before taking it on again.  There is so much I want to do right now.  Gary is working out often, so he’s gone a lot, and I am stuck here.  Maybe next week I’ll get brave and attempt the elliptical.  Woo hoo.  I’d have to be desperate to look forward to an elliptical!

After all is said and done, I am healthy, healing, and blessed.  I spoke with my friend Rob today, and he is currently battling cancer – and winning.  He has the best attitude, believes in the power of prayer, and has been fighting like hell.  If he can take on that challenge without complaining, I think I need to get over myself, be glad I only have a knee injury, and quit whining.  Well, I will quit whining about recovery, but will likely continue to whine about golf until mid-September.   To Rob…You keep up the good fight!   Our family, particularly Morgan and Bethany, have been blessed to have you and Angela in our lives.  We, along with countless other Prayer Warriors, will keep on praying!

Peace and Love….

Only One (really stupid, major) Glitch…

As I posted last weekend, my husband, daughter, and I spent the long weekend visiting family and friends throughout Northern Indiana and Illinois.  It was a non-stop-cram-it-all-in kind of weekend, but I regret nothing.  Almost nothing.  The one regret I will get to in a later paragraph.

Our first stop was at Dewart Lake (well, actually it was at the outlet mall, but I know no one wants to read about our shopping excursion, no matter how great the bargains were).  Our wonderful friends, the Rectors, live at the lake.  We had a fantastic visit, and were able to see the whole family.  We talked about old times; I learned more about my father; and we caught up on what is presently going on in our lives.  Peggy, Addison, and I enjoyed sitting out on the deck watching fireworks that were being set off all around the lake.  It was a beautiful evening free from the heat and humidity of Southern Indiana.

The next morning, after a walk with my friend Missy and a little more visiting, it was time to head west.  We stopped in Hammond, my birthplace, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Miner Dunn.  The restaurant, known for their burgers, literally hasn’t changed since I moved away in 1978.  The food was excellent; the lack of cleanliness was a bit disappointing.  Regardless, I had my cheeseburger, fries, and orange sherbet. I always dip my fries in my sherbet, which my family finds odd, but I love.  Our next stop was a huge Cabella’s in Hammond.  Although I am never thrilled to go to a hunting store, I have to admit that this store was pretty cool.  There were displays of animals everywhere, and Addison and I explored the tents and took goofy pictures.  We also found a shooting game, that surprisingly, I was rather good at.

Hammond is about 30 minutes from Chicago – if there were no traffic.  That is never the case.  It took us about three hours to arrive at Erin’s apartment.  The traffic was maddening.  I get really nervous when we are not exactly sure where we are going, and when you add people yelling and flipping us off if we hesitate one second, the tension level increases at unheard of speeds.  When we did get to Erin’s place, we had to drive around almost an hour to find parking.  UGH!!!  We finally found a lot about three blocks away; by that point we were ready to pay just to be able to stop.  We got settled, and then headed to the train to meet my cousins for dinner.

Erin has only been in Chicago for about two months, but she has the transit system down.  She was able to guide us small-town tourists around with no problem.  We didn’t get to go to the pizza joint Erin had chosen, but we did get into a quaint neighborhood place.  It was wonderful to have time with my cousins.  Our time was short, only  a couple hours, but I am glad we took the time to meet up.

Saturday, Gary, Erin, and I wanted to go for a run along the lake.  I couldn’t run much because of my knee, but Erin and I managed about 1 1/2 miles running, and walked the rest.  It was a picture-perfect morning along the lake.  There were literally hundreds of people out running and biking.  I would think that would be excellent incentive to stay fit!  Next on our list was Navy Pier.  We had planned to go to the Field Museum of History, but my cousin told us we would be much too rushed since we were also going to the Cubs game.  Navy Pier was a great alternative.  We browsed a little, and then Gary, Addison, and I took a boat tour of the skyline.  It was gorgeous!  The morning was perfect, and the skyline shone in the sun.  Lake Michigan was clear and oh, so blue.  If you’ve never been to the lake, you need to visit.  It is a sight to behold.

After Navy Pier, we hit the trolley, and then the train, and headed to Wrigleyville.  We wanted to have time to eat before the game.  Erin chose an awesome diner.  Wrigleyville was wall-to-wall Cub fans – some started celebrating the victory before the game even began.  After lunch, it was time to head to Wrigley Field.

And then tragedy struck.  Okay, my stupidity struck.  Seriously.  We had our tickets that I had purchased online in early June.  I noticed that when they scanned Addison’s ticket, there seemed to be a problem.  Uh Oh.  Then there was a problem with mine.  It scanned as the wrong date.  But how was that possible?  It was possible because I BOUGHT TICKETS FOR THE JUNE PIRATES GAME AND IT WAS JULY!!!  My heart fell.  I began to sweat.  What the hell were we going to do?  I had promised the three of them this game.  Heck, it was Gary’s 10th anniversary gift.  I went to the ticket booth to see what we could do, and the only option was to purchase new tickets….another $200.  What to do?  Well, we were all dressed in our Cub gear, excited about the game, and we were going to that stupid game!  We bought new tickets, and proceeded to the gates…again.  My daughter and niece found this to be quite funny.  I had screwed up, and they enjoyed every minute of it.  We did get free Cub t-shirts as we went in (I had to point that out to everyone).  Once we found our seats, I just sat there so pissed at myself.  The only thing I could think of is that the first time I got online to look at tickets, I saw they were playing the Pirates the first weekend in July.  Little did I know that the Pirates were also in Chicago the first weekend in June.  When I got back online to order the tickets, I must have just looked up the Pirates game, and paid no attention to the date.  How I didn’t eventually notice is beyond me.  I looked at those tickets so many times.  I do tend to get in a hurry (as is evident in some of my posts), but you can bet that I will be paying extra attention from now on – if Gary ever lets me order tickets again!

So, despite my massive mistake, we had a great time at the game.  The weather was excellent; the crowd excited; and the Cubs won.  Yes, you read that correctly!  We saw two Cubs homeruns, and witnessed a Cub victory.  I can’t wait to go back (Gary will take care of ordering tickets).  The downfall (besides blowing $184 on tickets for a June game) is that I will never hear the end of this.  I probably deserve it for making fun of my family for silly things they have done.  Erin said that we just added another family story to share, and Lord knows they’ll share it!  I hate feeling stupid.

Fast forward….we left Chicago after the game and ventured on to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Sunday we attended a retirement party for a friend of Gary’s.  It was a great afternoon, and it was really nice to meet Gary’s friends.  Addison was a trooper; she was at a party where she knew no one, and never once complained or even looked like she was bored out of her mind.  What an awesome kid!

After our whirlwind weekend, we arrived back in Tell City last night.  Now we are back to reality.  My reality will now include knee surgery on August 2.  My MRI showed arthritis behind my knee cap (the nurse said they call it ‘a more young person’s arthritis’ – I swear, she said that!), and IT band tendonitis.  Because I have done over a month of physical therapy, rested, and have had two injections, the next step is an arthroscope.  Dr. Love will clean out the arthritis and repair the IT band.  There is no convenient time to have surgery, particularly when one teaches fitness classes, but I scheduled it between a fitness conference and the start of school.  I will not be able to teach Zumba for four weeks, but that’s a small sacrifice to be able to run again.  I have babied this knee for six months, and it is time to get it fixed.  There will be no races in the near future, and certainly no half marathons this fall, but hopefully next spring I will be back in 13.1 shape.  I know it will take some serious time to build up my endurance and speed, but I am willing to put in the work.  I have such wonderful running friends, and I know they will be a great support system as I recover.

Laundry and cleaning await.  Please remember:  When ordering tickets online, don’t be an idiot.  Check the dates, time, location, and price very, very carefully.  Don’t give your family and friend any material to use against you at all future gatherings.  Be smart, folks!

The Trip North…

Both Gary and I are from Northwest Indiana….the Region.  The area is called the Region because of its proximity to Chicago.  I lived about 30 minutes from the Windy City until I was eleven.  Gary lived further south, about an hour and a half from Chicago.  We both enjoy visiting that part of the state, the part where the land is flat, the dirt is black, and no one waves at you as you drive down the road (unless a middle finger is up).  I, being a city girl at heart, love spending time in Chicago and taking that journey back to my childhood.  This weekend we were presented with the opportunity for a long weekend visiting family and friends.  Since my brother was available to house and dog sit, it was a perfect plan.

It began when Gary and I received an invitation to a retirement party that will take place Sunday in Fort Wayne.  Gary’s friend and former coworker, whom he hasn’t seen in 15 years, is retiring, so the friend’s wife is having a surprise party.  As we looked at the calendar and saw that it fell on a long weekend, we decided to extend the trip.

We are currently on our way to our friends’ at Dewart Lake (after a little detour to the outlet mall).  The Rector family has been in my life since I was born.  They lived next door to us until I was seven, and since that time we have kept in touch.  Peggy and Clyde are like an aunt and uncle to my sister, brother, and me.  They have three daughters who are around our ages.  We will spend tonight at Peggy’s and Clyde’s home on the lake, and attend a party hosted by their daughter Suzie.  The last time I spent a night in this house, my father was with me.  Our family had joined theirs for a weekend on the lake.  I was really young, so I remember very little about that trip.  Still, it means a lot to me to be in the same place my father spent time.  Peggy always tells me stories about my dad, and I value those stories since I have so few memories of him.  One of the things I love about this family is that we can go years without seeing them, yet the conversations always pick up right where we left off.

Tomorrow we will go to the Hammond area.  Gary wants to go to Cabella’s, and since much of this trip is about me, I will concede to a visit to a hunting store.  Perhaps I will purchase some camo.  I bet Gary would find me especially hot!  I wonder what people in town would say if I suddenly took a liking to camo.  Anyway, I  digress.  After lunch at a yet-to-be-determined location (that’s kind of a lie because I want to go to Miner Dunn, which has the best burgers ever – and I went there as a kid –  so I can pretty much bet that’s where we will go.)

After our brief stop in Hammond, and possibly a drive-by of my old houses (I also lived in Munster), we will venture into the mad traffic of Chicago.  Thank the Lord Gary is driving, though Addison gets her license this month, and that would be some intense experience for her.  Since my car is new, I believe Gary  would be the best choice.   We will be spending Friday night at my niece’s new apartment in downtown Chicago.  She just moved in May, so I am excited to see her urban abode.  That evening we will be meeting my cousin Marcia and her husband David for some Chicago-style pizza.  Oh, yah!  Deep dish pizza oozing with cheese and cholesterol.  Marcia and I are only a year apart in age.  Until we moved south, we spent a great deal of time with her and her brother.  I have wonderful memories of riding bikes, building obstacle courses in their basement, and spending the night at their house.  Despite our complete opposite lifestyles, Marcia and I have remained close over the years.  She is a big city girl; I am verging on being a hick (a very classy hick).  She rides horses (not like horseman-club-riding horses, but dressage riding, which is very proper); I run.  She has an exotic beauty – short, black hair, dark skin, tall, and thin; I, well let’s just say  you’d never guess that we’re related.  She and her husband are worldly; I have never been out of the country, unless you count flying over Canada on our way to Alaska.  I embrace our differences, and always look forward to the times we get to be together.

Saturday will be filled with the excitement of the big city.  We plan to rise bright and early, and go for a run along the lake.  That’s my heaven.  Because of this knee issue, I will have to walk a lot, but that won’t take away from the experience:  Lake Michigan on my left, the skyline on my right, and the wind in my face (I will probably be cussing the wind).  After showers, we will head to the Field Museum of Natural History.  I will admit, when I went to this museum in my younger days, it bored me, but Addison loves history, so I think she’ll enjoy it.  And…since our next stop is the CUBS game, I can endure a bit of boredom.  In the afternoon, we will be cheering on the Cubs when they play the Pirates.  That’s what true Cubs fans do.  We all have our new Cubs shirts, so we will look very touristy.  Don’t worry – I will be posting pics along the way!

After the game, it’s back in the car so we can head east.  We will be spending Saturday night in Fort Wayne, and will go to the retirement party Sunday – but not before we hit up the Dick’s in Fort Wayne.  Gary says we are trying to hit up every Dick’s in the country.  I haven’t yet met these friends of Gary’s, but am sure I will like them.  Since there will likely be a bunch of teachers there, surely I can find something to talk about.  If nothing else, I just share some funny Gary stories.  When he isn’t around.  Because he’d trump me with embarrassing Joyce stories.  And that would suck.

While my guess is that no one really cares what I am doing this weekend, you just read this whole blog entry.  I really write for my own enjoyment, and I did just pass a substantial amount of time in the car, but I hope you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  Actually, if you knew what really goes on in this mind, you might petition a judge to lock me up.  Want an example?  This morning as we were driving down a country road near our house, I saw a turtle crossing the road.  He (who really knows what sex a turtle is?) also saw us, and naturally shrunk into his shell.  I thought to myself (I probably shouldn’t admit this) that it would be really cool to be a turtle.  Then when I am afraid, or someone annoys me, or I just want to be alone, I could just pull myself into my shell and hideout.  And because I am a turtle, no one would even wonder what my problem is.  I think I will be a turtle in my next life.  Then I’d really be a hard-ass!

That’s it for now.  I have to rest up for shopping.  Have a fabulous 4th of July….Isn’t it great to be an American?!

Today’s Grandma

Having my one year old grandson, Layne, living with us, I have had lots of time to reflect upon ‘grandmotherhood’.  When I first learned that my daughter was expecting, and that I was to become a biological grandmother, I had mixed emotions.  I already had three amazing step-grandchildren whom I adore, but somehow my daughter having a child would automatically age me.  Was I really that old?  I felt much younger than I had imagined grandmothers to feel.  I run; I do Zumba; I bike; and I am basically cool (that last one might be a slight stretch, but I like to think I am a little cool).  However, Morgan was older than I was when I had her.  Little did I know when I became a mother at the age of 21, that would mean I could possibly reach grandmotherhood before most of my  peers.  Who thinks that far ahead?

Once Layne made his appearance, I embraced my new role.  His blue eyes, precious smile, and unconditional love won my heart immediately.  Suddenly, I was proud to announce that I was this little guy’s nana.  Okay, I did choose to be called ‘Nana’ rather than ‘Grandma’ because I thought it sounded younger.  Fast forward one year…Morgan and Layne have taken up residence in our home while Layne’s dad is in Afghanistan.  While going from a house of three to a house of five – and one of those five is quite the active little climber – has been challenging (and exhausting) at times, I treasure having this time with Layne.  I realize that because his dad is in the military, they will likely live away for several more years, and I am very blessed to have this time with Layne.  And he is quite entertaining!

I have also thought a lot about my own grandmothers, and other grandmothers of their generation, and how different today’s grandmothers are.  I loved my grandmas dearly.  Grandma Greenland was a heavy-set lady – the stereo-typical grandma who was an incredible cook.  She treated us to ham loaf, buttery (I am talking 2 sticks of real butter) mashed potatoes, and dessert that would rival any on the Food Network.  Her cookies were not only scrumptious, they were also beautiful.  And her pies?  Wow.  I have never tasted a butterscotch pie that was even close to hers.  She worked hard, raised three sons who all died before she, overcame some devastating times, was active in church, and played the piano.  And then there was my Grandma Allen, ‘Gram’.  I was really closer to her.  I spent many nights with her.  She made me grilled cheese, popcorn, and taught me this game where we connected dots and tried to get the most squares.  She was also a good cook.  Her specialties included fried chicken and eclairs (which I learned to make).   She never had much money, but we never noticed.  She had very few toys for us to play with, but instead saved her thread spools (she also made her own clothes) and greeting cards.  We grandkids could spend hours building with spools and cards.  I have wonderful memories of both of my grandmothers, and miss them tremendously.

 

I wonder, now, what my grandchildren will remember about me.  I can cook.  Well, no one would starve anyway.  I can bake some, but not to the degree my grandmas baked.  I run races; I teach Zumba; I love to travel and attend sporting events.  My Grandma Allen always, and I mean always, wore dresses.  I can’t imagine her wearing Nike running shorts and t-back tanks like I wear to work out.  If my grandmothers heard the music and saw the choreography for Zumba, I imagine they’d be shocked (but secretly jealous).  Saturday I ran a 5k dressed as Super Woman, which meant I wore a short sequined skirt, royal blue tights, and a sparkly blue headband.  If Layne were older, would he think his nana was nuts?  Just the thought of my grandmothers in a Super Woman costume is hysterical.  They never stepped out of their comfort zones.  They both had a sense of humor, but they stayed with in society’s norms.  I, on the other hand, choose not to dress a certain way just because I am middle-aged.  I want to remain active until I can no longer move.  I hope to run races well into old age.  I want to get my Zumba on into those so-called twilight years, and encourage others to do the same.  Sure, I can crochet, which a rather grandmotherly thing to do, but I will crochet only after I have gotten a run in or gone to the gym.

When I look around, I see that my friends who are also grandparents no longer fit the molds our grandparents so eagerly set either.  They are also working out at the gym, running, walking, going to Zumba, taking classes, or somehow continuing to grow.  I think we are setting an incredible example for our grandchildren.  We are teaching them that one is never too old to set new goals, that we must remain physically active, and that learning is a life-long process.  We are active grandparents who, rather than spoil our grandkids with cookies and pies, spoil them with our time and energy.  Because we are active, we are able to really play with them.  Because we are tech-savvy, we can also post all those adorable pictures (like this one from Layne’s first birthday where he has cake smeared all over his face) on Facebook!  See, we are cool!

As I typed this, Layne walked in wearing his shirt that says ‘My nana runs faster than your nana!’  That pretty much sums it up!

In Memory of Stephen

One year ago this week, my young nephew, Stephen, died.  As we journey through this week, our thoughts go back to this last year, when amidst back-to-school preparations and our town’s annual Schweizer Fest, our family was planning a funeral for a 26 year old young man.  The following is a story I wrote about Stephen’s death with the goal of informing other young people about the dangers that lurk at parties. 

In Memory of

Stephen Paul Fordyce

I can’t erase her voice from my mind.  Sometimes her words come back to me at random times.  As I am walking up the stairs with a load of laundry it comes to me, “Stephen died.”    I remember how weak my sister’s voice sounded on the phone as she, still in shock, told me of my nephew’s death.   She sounded like a lost child, a wounded soul.

That morning was August 8.  It was the week before school was to begin, and I was in my third grade classroom preparing for opening day.   At nine o’clock my cell phone rang.  It was one of those calls I will never forget.  At first I couldn’t comprehend what my sister, Bobbi, was saying.  How could he possibly be gone?  Stephen was 26 and had just begun to live life.  He was healthy; actually he was more healthy than had had been in previous years after starting a workout routine and improving his eating habits.

I dropped what I was doing and stopped in the office to let them know what had happened, and that I wouldn’t be in for several days.  As the words came, so did the tears.  I couldn’t believe what was coming from my mouth.  My nephew was dead.   I have lost many family members, including my father when I was seven, but this?  This was incomprehensible.  What happened?  On the drive to my sister’s house, I just kept wondering what to do.  I don’t know what I am supposed to do.  What do I do?  Whom do I call?

Shortly after arriving at my sister’s house, I watched as her co-workers walked her in from the car.  What could I possibly say to her?  All of my life I have wanted to fix others’ problems.   I could not fix this.  As she began to explain what she knew, the story only became more difficult to swallow.  First of all, it was Monday, and Stephen had died on Sunday.  Stephen lived in a city about an hour from us, and the coroner’s office had failed to notify my sister that her son had died.  How is that even possible?  His friends knew of his death before his own mother.  There are no words to describe the pain that caused.

When the coroner first informed Bobbi, the only explanation for Stephen’s death he gave was that there had been a party at his house the night before, and that one of Stephen’s friends said there might have been prescription drugs involved.   As you may or may not know, grief comes with a wide array of emotions, including anger.  While I was extremely sad about the loss of my nephew, as I pondered his own responsibility in his death, the anger occasionally seeped in.  How could this intelligent young man make such a stupid – and ultimately deadly – decision?

While we awaited the final autopsy report, there we arrangements to be made, and phone calls to make.  Every step we took was wrought with devastation.  Watching a mother make funeral arrangements for her child is heartbreaking.  Because that mother was also my sister, it was nearly unbearable, yet I needed to be there to help carry her through.  As we spoke with the funeral directors, they tried to gently give us more troubling news.  While Stephen was passed out at his party, his friends (please remember these weren’t teenagers; they were all in their twenties) thought it would be funny to write on his face with a permanent marker.  The funeral directors knew we wanted an open casket, but were not certain they could remove the black marks.  Fortunately, a couple of days later, they called to report that they were able to clean the marker off; my sister would be able to see her son’s beautiful face one last time.

Any time a young person dies, there is a large turn-out at the visitation in our small town.  Stephen’s day was no different.  It was comforting to our family to see how many friends Stephen had, and how many lives he had touched.  At the same time I wanted to scream at his friends to remember their friend lying in that casket the next time they thought it would be cool to try drugs.  Though they were clearly upset by the loss of their friend, did they really understand the implications of his choices?  Would they remember that day the next time they were at a party?

We made it through the first week, but this was by no means the end of our grief.  We had a house to clean out, financial arrangements to be made, and visits to a lawyer to make sure the legalities were handled correctly.

After a few weeks, we received the autopsy report.  Stephen’s death was caused by mixing Xanax and Oxycontin.  There was no alcohol in his system.  According to the coroner, this is becoming a common practice at parties.  Supposedly, mixing the two gives quite the euphoric feeling.  Or it kills you.  As I began to research the effects of mixing these two prescription drugs, I found that it slows one’s heart rate and blood pressure.  If it slows them too much, death is inevitable.  While a party-goer might be able to mix the two one time with no ill-effects, the next time could end in death.

According to his friends, Stephen was intoxicated at the party, but they noticed nothing out of the ordinary.  He even woke up the next morning to see his girlfriend off to work.  After she left, he returned to bed to ‘sleep it off’, and that was the end.  His life was over.  He had a great job as a heating and air conditioning technician; he owned his own home; and he had a wonderful girlfriend who cared about him very much.  In an instant, none of that mattered.

My nephew was not a drug addict.  The coroner stated that the results of the autopsy showed that he did not make of habit of taking these drugs.  He was having a good time with his friends, and he made a mistake.  That mistake cost him his life.  That mistake left a mother without her son, an aunt and uncle without their nephew, his sisters without their brother, grandparents without their grandson, and cousins missing one of their own.

Life is about making decisions, and every single decision we make has a consequence.  We all make poor choices at some point in our lives.  When I was young I took unnecessary risks, partied when I shouldn’t have, and made my share of mistakes.  By the grace of God, I was never arrested and I lived to tell about it.  Teenagers and twenty-somethings:  You are on the brink of living life as an adult.  You can be whoever you choose to be.  You have countless opportunities before you.  Take advantage of all the great adventures this life has to offer.  Enjoy life, but make smart choices.

Many young people seem to be under the misconception that since drugs such as Xanax and Oxycontin are prescription medications, they are safer than street drugs or alcohol.  They are safe only if taken by the person for whom they are prescribed, not mixed with other medications, and taken as directed.  Otherwise, you are literally risking your life.  One night of partying is not worth the chances you take.  The wrong mix of drugs and/or alcohol can cause irreversible damage, not just to you, but to your family.  Our entire family has been affected by Stephen’s decision.  His mother lives every day with the knowledge that her son’s death could have been avoided so easily.  Let his death not be in vain.  Learn from his mistake, and share that knowledge with your friends.  Consider the consequences before making a decision.  If it would help, buddy up with a friend, let him or her know your intentions before you attend a party, and ask her to make sure that under no circumstances do you go off path.  You have to look out for one another, even when it’s difficult.

Please share this story with everyone.  Share it through your own blog, email, or your Facebook page.  If by sharing our story we save one young life, perhaps we can begin to make sense of our loss.

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