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Posts Tagged ‘loving life’

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

A couple of weeks ago, I completed a bike ride called the Kelly Brush Century Ride. The choices for distance were 25, 50 or 100 miles, and I chose the 25 since I hadn’t ridden in years. A number of people asked me how it went (how I felt, during the ride) and I said, “I felt great on the flat ground, scared on the downhills, and inadequate/discouraged on the uphill portions”.

I had to walk up a number of steep hills….well, I’m not sure that I had to, but I felt like I did, and lots of people passed me. At one point (maybe around mile 18?) I had gotten off my bike and was trudging up a steep portion of the ride. My steps felt like lead, I imagined my body, not as a fit thing, but more like an elephant taking one big round heavy step at a time. I didn’t feel like it was a mistake to have done the ride, but I certainly didn’t feel inspired either.

As I slowly pushed my bike up what seemed to be an endlessly long incline, I noticed one of the hand-cyclists ahead of me. I hadn’t seen him pass me earlier, but there he was, pedaling with his hands up this incline. There were about 25 riders who completed the ride by using their arm-strength alone. …and who didn’t have the option to get off their bikes and walk.

Seeing him up there, not moving quickly, not passing anyone, but moving with such determination, helped me so much. For one thing, it shut up my mind that had started to complain that it was embarrassed about needing to walk. We met on a straight part of the ride and I thanked him for inspiring me. He answered with a smile, “I’m only being me.” My next thought was, “Well just being you, has just inspired me beyond words.” I was too choked up to say this.

I want my life to matter. I want to live every moment of my life by saying yes to it, not by sitting back and hoping that someone else will do it for me, or will finally pay attention to me, or notice my efforts.

I cannot be hindered by the world (only by my own thoughts) because I always have the choice to think something different if I find myself lost in self-pity or discouragement.  I can think about the everyday heroes who get up, every morning, with huge obstacles to overcome, but they do it….and maybe my life, maybe me walking up a hill that I clearly couldn’t pedal up, inspired someone with that thought, “If that old gal can do it, maybe I could give it a try!”

“Everyone has a story that makes me stronger.” Richard SImmons

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As many of you know, my son Tom is getting married to Lindsay Brush this summer. You don’t need to be around Lindsay for very long to realize that her family is her priority. I love that about her. When I first heard about Lindsay’s sister Kelly; her accident, and the foundation that she set up afterwards, I found it hard to believe that she was only in her 20′s.

Several weeks ago, CBS aired a segment on athletes who were giving to the world in a meaningful way, and Kelly was one of the people chosen. The 6 minute video is below.

It is inspiring beyond words, a great remedy for the “poor me’s”, and if you want to get a little glimpse into my life, you will also see our wonderful soon-to-be daughter-in-law Lindsay, and at the end, a Brush family photo which includes Kelly’s parents, her husband Zeke, and Tom.

I never had a “why me?” moment.”Kelly Brush Davisson

(The Kelly Brush Foundation is a private 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting individuals with spinal cord injuries and increasing ski racing safety).

 

The link to her foundation is below

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Tommy and me (31 years ago… living in graduate student housing and getting ready for Matt to be born)

My oldest son Tom recently became engaged, and as I look at the wonderful new photographs, I’ve also felt drawn to look at old photographs, and to remind myself to savor every moment, slow down and be present. 31 years ago, Tom was 3 years old and I was 25. I can remember the day that photograph was taken as we stood on the steps of our little rented apartment.

Tommy’s dad and I were talking about life with a new baby: wondering how things would change with two little kids, if we were going to have a boy or a girl, how Tommy would react to the new baby, deciding which nursery school to send Tommy to in the fall. These were some of the questions that we had back then, and it seemed like we were always in a rush to get them answered, so we could move on to the next thing.

Today we are talking about Tom and Lindsay’s wedding. There are questions that are, in the moment, unanswered. One of the biggest illusions (in life) is that we will somehow get all of our ducks lined up, all of our questions answered, so we can sit back and relax, but this isn’t life. There will always be questions, decisions and future events to be considered, so we are going to relax now: in the planning, in the questions, in the delightful uncertainty that is Life.

We are still planning: planning on savoring every moment of this magical time!

Tom and Lindsay on the day of their engagement, August 15th  

Today is life: the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Shake yourself awake. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Dale Carnegie

The website of their friend, and amazing photographer who took these photos, Derek DiLuzio, is:  http://derekdiluzio.com

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working with what we have

We’ve lived in our current home for 7 years and one of the things that I’ve always wished it had, was a big porch. So this is on the top of my list of “must haves” for our new place. On Friday night, Jack and I were having one of our many discussions about moving and I said, “I am so ready. I just wish there was something that I could do to make it happen.” The thought of enjoying the cool evening air, watching fireflies from the porch, and just relaxing, produced such feelings of longing inside of me.

I woke up early the next morning, took my coffee outside, and sat on our little porch (it is just big enough for a chair) when the idea popped into my head: fix up the area by our side garden. I imagined getting some little fairly lights and a small table and a couple of chairs and just sitting there in the evenings. By that afternoon, this little garden spot was ready.

We had one broken solar light (that was left by the former owners and hasn’t worked in 3  years), still hanging in a tree, and every time I looked at it, I wished that I had more…but never bought them. Saturday afternoon, I bought a set of 6 and added them to our new space.

The total cost for this project, was $59 for the lights, (everything else was stuff that we had here and there but never pulled together), a couple hours of weeding, raking and clearing this very over-grown area. It’s not a porch, but it is the best that we can do with what we have right now….and what else is there but now?

Sometimes the manifestation of dreams/desires comes in one fell swoop and other times, it is step by step, like with the yard. This seems to be the way that prayer works in my life. I have a need, I express that desire and when I least expect it, an answer comes…but I have to be ready to hear it, because very often, the answer doesn’t quite fit my original vision.

In the past we might not have followed through on this idea because our ultimate dream is to move. But since it is highly unlikely that we will be moving before the end of the summer, what about now? Life is happening now. …I don’t want to put off enjoying it, longing to be someplace that my mind says will be better.

Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along. Napoleon Hill

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I’m not really ever interested in discussing the weather….it feels like “filler” talk to me. To my parents, the weather is a major topic of conversation….and worry.  When our phone rings and I hear Jack say, “Yes, that was a hot day yesterday!”…or something similar…I know that either my mother or father is on the other end of the line. My father and I were talking the other day and he was saying how nice the weather had been in Florida (where he and his wife live 8 months of the year) and how he really hoped the summer in Saratoga would be nice too. Then he asked me why I would choose to live in the rural northeast with such “terrible winters and not much to do.”

At first, I said my standard, “I like the change of seasons”, and that is true…but I found it interesting that something more started to surface. There is this idea that we can somehow “tweak” our lives, environments and worlds to our ideal of perfection…sort of like the song from the musical Camelot; always sunny, 70 degrees, only rains at night, everything “moderate”, neutral, i.e. never “interferes” with our plans. I have watched my parents try to make this world for themselves.  I grew up in the 50′s which seemed to be the era of how to sterilize/standardize just about everything…hoping that if we could control the outer world, maybe this would give us security on the inside too.

Sometimes I still look for this “perfect” environment when I feel overwhelmed by my “messy life”. As I sat down to write a post yesterday, Fred sauntered by with a chipmunk in his mouth. After the chipmunk rescue (what a complete delight to hold that little mammal in the palm of my hand), Eleanor threw up all over the rug, after that clean up, the phone rang (no one calls at 6 am) and it was important to be available, …I gave up on writing and embraced the wonderful mess of my life.

I have to admit that sometimes, I still hope that this perfect place exits out there somewhere….. but what I know, deep in my heart, is that it must exist inside first, and the quickest way to get there seems to be to love what is in front of me at the moment…whether that be an unexpected visitor (like a chipmunk or snake), a deep and meaningful conversation, or a hail storm. All of the perfect weather in the world won’t make a bit of difference to me if I am not peaceful inside. Because when I am, I see the perfection…every place.

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A world waiting to be discovered: a rock from the beach in Costa Rica

Jack and I went to Montezuma, Costa Rica last November. I had been there 17 years earlier as a chaperone on my son Tom’s school trip where we had travelled to the rain forest, and to small villages, but the 3 days in Montezuma, a little run-down hippie town right on the ocean, and very remote, was like magic to me. One thing that particularly thrilled me was the lack of “regulations”…dogs and cats (and birds and chickens) ran and flew in and out of restaurants, cock roaches invaded the rooms of our shabby little hotel at night, a guide  took 3 of the girls, and me, on an all day horseback ride where we ran up the beach, through the woods and up the middle of the road…no waivers were signed.

When I returned last November, the only thing that I tried to “re-create” was the glorious feeling that I had, riding that horse up the beach at full speed. It did not feel the same this time. The ride was scary. I had wanted to re-capture a time and a place that had passed. When I was there 17 years ago, I was in a lot of turmoil and chaos in my personal life and the wildness of the trip almost matched that.

I no longer want to do some of the things that I did in my 20′s and 30′s…does that mean that I am decaying? or not growing?….Jack and I found a spot right up the beach from our hotel that had all of these beautiful multi-colored stones. Everyday we walked up there and filled our pockets with these treasures, took them back to our room, sat on the balcony and looked at them. There is a season for everything…what treasures will this mid-life season offer?…maybe I’ll find out when I let go of the past.

p.s. One of my greatest joys in life is sharing…I love rocks from different parts of the world and if you would like the little rock in the photo, let me know in a comment post, and I will randomly pick someone when I return from Boston next week and send it out!

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Lately, I have been experiencing hot flashes…and it really is about time, given the fact that I am going to be 56 this year, and it was beginning to scare me that I hadn’t  felt any symptoms of menopause. I was starting to look up to the sky and say, “Hey, did you forget me down here? …don’t need this anymore!” I had visions of being on the cover of the National Enquirer as the oldest living woman who still had periods. I could see the picture of me bent over with a cane, leaving Rite Aid with a box of Always Extras (possibly holding a half human half ant baby). I guess the message finally got through because in one fell swoop, the periods stopped and the hot flashes began!

We were raised as Catholics and whenever we got sick, and started complaining, my mother would say, “offer it up”. Somehow our suffering was supposed to benefit someone else…I can’t remember if we were “suffering for the suffering” ones, or for the newly departed who had possibly landed in Purgatory and were needing some bonus points to move up a level …but whoever or whatever the offerings were for, I don’t think they got much help from my pain.

The other day, in the middle of a whopper of a hot flash, the words of my mother came rolling back to me …like a 50-year-old echo….”offer it up”…and I, for the first time, thought, “If someone, somewhere in this world is cold, I wish I could send them some of this heat.” I meant it. I kept doing it with every hot flash. I have no idea if this “prayer” is helping someone else. I do know that my feeling about the hot flashes has changed dramatically. I do not dread them…so what if I am hot? When I am, I send my love and my warm thoughts out to the world , I remember how good my life really is, and I feel better…maybe my mother was wiser than I thought.

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