Tuesday, August 22, 2017

a total eclipse

Leaving dinner with a friend last night we were watching the sky light up with brilliant colors. Flashing through the soft layers of clouds on the horizon.  It was still warm and the humidity was a bit higher than it's been.  Not really a sign of a coming storm.  If anything, it looked like heat lightening. No distant rumble of thunder, just brilliant flashes of multicolored lights.

It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect day. As if the sky above us was taking a final bow, just before the curtain closed on an award winning show. 

Hubs and I had the most wonderful day!  We'd opted out of the traffic and chaos.  We had decided that we simply wanted to enjoy the wonder on our own.  We'd invited our girl, but she was concerned that it could harm our sweet youngest grand and stayed at home. 

With our chairs aligned, fans arranged to keep us cool and our approved glasses at the ready, we got comfy for the next few hours of the greatest show on earth.  

No where to go, nothing to do but relax and enjoy. 

I've never worn a pair of eclipse glasses before.  So needless to say, even though I have lived in many places with partial eclipses I have never experienced the wonder.  As early as yesterday morning I was struggling to understand the people that would pay thousands of dollars to witness the beauty. I was struggling (even though I was excited) to grasp the enormity of it all.  That people would travel thousands of miles to witness something that would easily be available on television, the internet and all forms of social media.  I mean seriously?  Haven't we all become accustom to living vicariously? 

No one ever explained and I personally never even tested the wonder of eclipse glasses.  I've never looked at the sun and not had that moment of wincing, the rapid looking away experience that all of us have endured. As we were listening to the news a bit earlier an astronomer was explaining first contact. That we would not be able to see it, that it was simply impossible for the naked eye.  A telescope would be needed. That absolutely did not stop us from trying. 

First contact was not a possibility.  But it did give me a chance to play with my phone's camera and my glasses.  

Over the next hour we watched through our glasses the moon slowly appearing to take a bite out of the sun.  At first it looked like a giant cookie monster bite... chomp, chomp.  

Being in the path of totality was such an incredible experience.  Initially we watched wispy clouds blowing past, concerned that we would not be able to see it.  They disappeared fairly quickly.

I don't know that if we had not been intentionally enjoying the experience if we would have noticed all the subtle changes leading up to that minute and 38 seconds of totality. The way we were laying in our chairs we were able to look up and watch the moons progress and look down under the edge of our glasses and observe the world around us.  I wish I had been able to get true pictures of the beauty with my camera, but I opted for little photography.  I wanted to keep it forever in my memory. 

Slowly.  That is the word I choose for the experience.  Slowly I watched the bright orange glow disappear.  Slowly the heat became less intense, the sweat on the back of my neck was replaced by goosebumps and the fans swirled the cooling air past us.  Slowly the light dimmed, almost as if somehow we had replaced the natural light with an indoor light that was fading out. 

It was covered about 90% in this picture
Slowly the woods surrounding our house became very, very quiet.  The color became greenish, like when a storm is moving in. 

Just as we were marveling at this wonder my phone buzzed, my girl was texting saying how creepy it was outside.  I called her back to ask if she was actually watching through eclipse glasses.  She wasn't. I told her that it was amazing to see this tiny sliver of sun showing around the moon.  It was still bright at that moment, we hadn't hit totality.  The tiny spot showing was still powerful enough to light our planet.  

The cicadas  that had been so quiet in the moments before roared to life.  The sound was almost overwhelming. I was stunned.  Everything I'd read lead me to believe that they would be stunned to silence.  Yet they were louder than ever.  They seemed to know something amazing was going to happen.  Maybe they were excited, maybe they were fearful, maybe confused.  Who knows?

As we hung up to enjoy the moment, that little spot faded. 


Not the darkness I anticipated.  My solar lights all came on in full brightness.  And where that glowing orange globe had been hanging in the sky was the most breathtaking sight.  The dark circle of the moon was surrounded with an eerily bright white halo.  Not circular, exactly, more jagged.  It looked like a rock dropped into a sea of black that had liquid light below.  Splashing up around the edges.  

Looking around in the middle of the day at the darkness was humbling.  It truly made you feel how tiny you are. 

Almost as quickly, it was the cool green being lightened by a beautiful sunrise that seemed to come from everywhere.  Putting my glasses back on I was blessed to see the "diamond ring".  That same itty bitty spot had miraculously lit our world again.  

The cicadas stopped almost as quickly as they started.  Silence again.

We laid in our chairs for most of the final show.  Only leaving as the sun rapidly warmed us back up. Sweat replacing goosebumps.   We stepped back out multiple times glancing up through our glasses to enjoy the view.  The gift from above. 

almost 90% cleared...
I delighted in everyone's comments, thoughts, text messages, etc yesterday.  For a moment in time, we all became Americans.  Some of us suffered disappointment as a large cloud followed the eclipse in, but at the same time delighted in being part of something bigger than ourselves.  The pictures, the beauty, the power of nature to awe and inspire. 

Hubs and I didn't let the calmness of the day slip by unnoticed.  We both savored our vacation day. The morning had been spent doing chores and preparing for splendor.  The afternoon.  Was spent on us.  We both grabbed a much needed nap. And then joined a friend for a wonderful meal and fellowship. Yesterday was a day full of blessings. 

Today, is also full of blessings.  Even when we don't always realize it. This morning the thunder roared, the lightening lit the skies in a completely different way.  And the rain poured down.  It's been slow to see the light today.  The skies are usually bright and glaring by this point in the day. Today, they are soggy, gray/green and wet. 

Our boys did agree to a long, soggy walk.  Most unusual.  Maybe they needed to feel the beauty of nature. 

I did. 

My hair is still damp.  My coffee is now cold. 

But my spirit feels fresh and alive. Each time I forget nature reminds me that it is the perfect balm for whatever ails you. It heals the spirit, awakens the mind and restores the body.  I think back to different times of trials in my life, each time it was being one with nature that healed me.  I believe it is the Japanese that practice Forest Bathing.  Maybe the rest of the world needs to realize this?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Soon it will go dark...

The sunrise this morning is so "normal". Hard to believe that in a few short hours there will be a total eclipse. Something so extraordinary. It hasn't happened in Missouri in August 1, 1869. Luckily we won't have to wait that long for the next.  It's going to be on April 8, 2024, a mere 7 years.

Hubs and I took the day off.  For people that are fascinated with the heavens and pretty much the glory of all things in nature, well it only seemed "natural".  Our original plans had us heading to Hermann, MO to enjoy the view on the side of a hill in a vineyard, with a few thousand of our closest friends.

We have our blankets ready, extra wine, snacks to pack and wait a minute... did we really see 30 mile long traffic in Oregon.  What is with all of these RV's we've been spotting around town?

Plan change.  Back to the store to pick up different lunch food.  A bottle of single barrel.  And sky check from the back deck.

Yep, we are going to be sitting on our own deck, in our comfy chairs, with our jack and cokes and our crazy cool eclipse glasses. From the comfort of our own back yard we will have full view of the entire eclipse.

Okay so in Hermann it is going to last for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.  Here in our little corner of the world it is 1 minute and 51 seconds.  When you weigh the difference of our peaceful backyard, with crowds in the thousands... well for us that is a no brainer.  Not to mention the sheer volume of traffic and parking issues.  No thanks.  Car can stay parked and we can enjoy without being overwhelmed by the crowds.

It's easy to feel the excitement that is buzzing around.  The thrill of being able to see it first hand.  It's also easy to imagine the shock and fear it must have produced in days gone by.

I mean can you imagine if we didn't have so much technology surrounding us?  Can you imagine the terror that must have been felt by the farmers in the fields and the school children outside at lunch?  A minute or two seems like such a brief snippet of time.  But if your world has gone black, when it should be bright, that would seem like an eternity.

Now we have people spending thousands of dollars to chase the eclipse on plane high above our heads. RV's and hotels all along the path of totality.  The sheer insanity of it all. I am sure it would have overwhelmed our ancestors to no end.

Hubs was sharing with me this morning that he'd heard on television that hotels are cancelling reservations made months ago, in an attempt to get their hands on the big money people are willing to shell out to be a part of this event.  I have to admit, it made me sick.  I'm glad I haven't turned on the news, I feel it would anger me and I want to preserve this incredible, restful feeling. I want to savor this day.  I don't want greed and selfishness to intrude.  I want to enjoy the gift.  Who knows if I will still be here in 7 years, tomorrow isn't promised to any of us.

I keep reading to keep your animals inside, maybe I am too simplistic, but... Do animals truly grasp an eclipse? Are all of the wild animals going to be seeking shelter or staring helplessly into the blinding light.  As it is I've never witnessed my boys staring at the sun.  A blade of grass, definitely, but the sun, never.

Now I will keep them inside only because I want to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the moment without worrying if they are freaking out due to the change.  I will say they are both acting pretty normal right now, so if they can sense it in the atmosphere they sure aren't letting me in on the secret.

I'm looking forward to this early afternoon celestial display.  Me, Hubs and the 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse.  Where will you be?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

I'm tired....

It was a beautiful morning, somehow Mother Nature didn't get the memo that it is mid-August in the Mid-West.  The sheer fact that it is 75 and breezy in August is simply amazing! I was sitting outside trying to enjoy it, but those darn annual cicada's are making the noise level too much for me.

I'd love to be out on the motorcycle with hubs, savoring this wonderful day.  Unfortunately, our weekend didn't quite pan out as planned.

I worked yesterday, overseeing an overflowing class of eager instructors perfecting their skills on our QueenAx system.  I was expecting to participate due to low numbers.  But as more and more showed up, I willingly gave up my spot on the super functional.  For me it was a basic understanding and work out, for them, it was a chance to hone their skills and help them to really rock that program.  No brainer!

Today, the dedicated Hubs, is helping one of his maintenance technicians that is shy on staff change out every light in his gym and pool.  Seems the tech is as afraid of heights as I am.  So Hubs volunteered his day to help him out.

Truthfully, while I would love being out playing.  It's probably best that I'm not.  Work has been a little consuming lately and the house and yard have suffered greatly.

While outside I could hear the neighbor mowing her yard, reminding me that I need to take care of that. Finding a reliable yard care person has been a challenge. I do have some outside chores to address, but Hubs has loaned out the pressure washer to one of his branches and I don't want to paint the door and window frames until I can get them cleaned.  And those darn cicadas... That sound truly annoys me.

Instead, I decided to focus on the house, seems the Hubs is fond of clean clothes for work.  And maybe even catching up on my long neglected chores.  If I didn't have such a paranoia about strangers in my house, it might even be time to consider a house keeper.  Sadly, I know that there is no way on this planet that I would be comfortable with it.  I don't want people messing around in my house.

Instead, I will find the time to do it myself, or it can simply wait.

As I am resting from tackling this expanding to do list. Seems I might have added baking a loaf of German bread and cleaning out my cupboards to the list, quite unexpectedly.  I am reflecting on all the news that is blowing up my phone, my FaceBook and my newsfeeds.  I am sitting here in stunned awe over the amount of hatred this world is forming.

It appears to be oozing into every minute of every day.  I was trying to enjoy a peaceful day.  Not focusing on work.  Simply on being.  I thought about going to get a manicure, but frankly the act of putting on "going outside" clothes, just felt overwhelming today.

I chatted with my dear friend for a while and my baby sister.  I put veggie scraps out for the silly little box turtle that's been hanging out in the back yard. As I was doing my regular chores, I just kept thinking.

I can't bring myself to read the articles.  I don't even want to read the headlines.  I'm tired of the hatred. The anger that is spewing out of every corner.  There is not one ethnicity, gender, or religion that seems to truly be able to just live at peace with one another.

As a history buff, it disturbs me the amount of history that is being wiped out globally.  Not because it is especially meaningful to me.  Honestly, I haven't paid much attention to these various disputes, I don't have the time or energy.  What disturbs me, is that I am a firm believer that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In our rush to erase the painful past are we clearing the path for us to once again live out those very actions?

I don't like any groups that claim supremacy. None of us are of greater value than the next. And it fills my heart with great sadness when I hear of these terrifying events.  In each instance the hatred grows.

Then my heart screams out to know who or what is trying to desperately to separate us?  I only know of one race.  The human race.  Maybe being a 60's baby instilled in me the love thy neighbor gene? Maybe the day will come that my rose colored glasses don't look so odd.

I'm tired of the hatred. I'm tired of the destruction.  I'm tired of the death.  I'm tired of lies and deceit. I'm tired of all of it.

Does it cost so much to give each other hugs?  To be a listening ear? To listen and support another's struggle even if you don't understand it?  Is it truly so hard to be responsible for your own actions? And to be honest with ones self?

Did the young person that drove that car into those people truly feel they had no other recourse to express themselves?  Did the people protesting have to present their voice in such a manner?

When did we stop begin able to have a conversation?  When did we resort to being social media bullies, regardless of your side of things?  When did it become okay to throw away the golden rule? Do we even teach that to our children anymore? Do the adults need a refresher course?

There is saber rattling happening at the highest levels.  There are adults acting like school yard bullies in streets of our cities and towns.

The news is not longer "the NEWS" it's propaganda.  It's always someone telling what to believe. It doesn't matter what channel you turn on, there is some talking head, spewing some vitriol, directed at someone or something.

I haven't had the energy to leave my house today. I've needed to insulate myself from some of this. Take a moment and lose myself in the mundane and familiar.

I've been reading as much positive and light as I can squeeze into my world.

I'm tired of the news media.  I'm tired of the glory hounds that are feeding them.  I'm tired.

I want to pour a cup of coffee and sit with friends, new, old and yet to be.  Let's talk about the insanity.

I want to hug someone that needs a hug.  I want to provide a meal to someone that is lost.  I want to laugh with my family, friends and neighbors.

I can't possibly be the only one.

As I took care of my home, did small chores for my Hubs and I.  I wondered if all of these angry people took a moment to just care for another person as they would for themselves, would they be so angry?

I will say a prayer tonight.  I will ask my God to help me be a better, stronger, more loving person. Someone that respects and celebrates our differences.  Because even though our DNA intersects far more than most people will ever admit, we are all different.  Even in our own families. Those very differences are what makes it such a wonderful world.

I'm going to go walk my boys, finish my chores and avoid anymore news.  I can't take it right now. Right now, I want to lose myself in the every day.  Maybe, we all need a bit less brain washing and a bit more connecting to nature and the ordinary.

Looking for peace and love...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

and you blink....

I was writing a different blog in my head last evening.  Zipping along Hwy 367 from Alton with the Hubs on the back of our bike.  Enjoying what had been an amazing day.  Even for a work day.

I was watching the sun starting it's decline to the west of us.  I was relaxed and laughing.  Hubs and I had been making memories.  Ironically, I read something just this morning that summed up my feelings of late.  None of our books are finished and we should all spend our time writing amazing chapters!  It isn't about the happy "ending", it's about the story.

The area we were in is not a particularly safe stretch of road.  It's heavily traveled and a lot of time by vehicles that are ignoring basic safety standards.  There are also more than a few high speed incidents in that area.  So even though we were enjoying the end of a great day, we were also very much on point with being aware of our surroundings.  Being on a motorcycle can often make you invisible. Especially to a distracted driver.

That's when it happened.

In the blink of an eye, a nano-second. The grey car on the other side of the median flipped, axles broken, parts flying, laundry flying, glass everywhere, dust clouds rising from the impact.

Hubs and I are both rescue trained.  Our jobs require it. It is something neither of us ever wants to use. As he pulled the bike to the side of the road we both took off running across all the lanes of traffic.  My job was to call 911, whoever was in that vehicle was going to need a lot of help. I watched cars start pulling off and people start running.  No one knowing if the vehicle would burst into flames or simply lay there upside down.

Not knowing what they would find when they arrived.

I stayed on the phone with emergency services.  They lifted the car and got the young woman out. A child really.

I prayed. I sent out a request for prayers.

I don't know the end result.  I am still praying.  I am fearful for her.

Hubs tried to get them to hear his words.  The panic stricken good Samaritans. He pleaded with them to simply extract her and lay her on the ground.  She was conscious, she was breathing, she was talking.

Please don't move her far, don't bend her.  You don't know what kind of damage she's sustained.  Keep her flat and still.  The words of too many training's echoing in both of our heads.  Me relaying the scene before me to the 911 operator, her voice telling me to have them stop moving her around. No one hearing the warnings.

Hubs was standing near, he watched the man intent on rescuing her scoop her up like a small child that's skinned her knee.  He saw the blood, he saw the moment her head slid back as she became unconscious.  Continuing to plead with them to lay her still, put her gently into a rescue position.

As another woman rushed over and put her head in her lap and held her in a position that was potentially blocking her airways if not damaging internal organs or putting pressure on any fractures in her neck, head or spine.  I cried.

I cried and I prayed.  I'd told EMS, please hurry.  They are trying to help, but they could seriously be hurting her worse.  I prayed that she wouldn't throw up, knowing the angle that they were holding her would suffocate her.

And I prayed for wisdom for those wonderful people that only wanted to help.

I've never seen a car that destroyed in an instant.  She wasn't wearing her seat-belt.  She was looking down at the phone in her hand.  She was merging into traffic off an elevated entry ramp and went over the side.

I needed a prayer army for her.  I needed to know the people that I trusted the most to lift that sweet young woman up could help.  I posted a simple plea on Facebook.  I was trying to be calm.  Watching the chaos and suffering, I needed to find peace. I simply typed Pray!!! I knew those that would, their responses assured me that they did.

Were they praying for that sweet little girl ironically lying waiting for medical on the very median that she'd flown over in her car?  No, how could they, they didn't know.  But all of us need prayer.

Once EMS had arrive, officers had relieved Hubs in his bright white shirt in the fading sunlight from directing traffic around the scene, we got back on our bike and left.

The joy of the day had been sucked away.  Our regular caution when riding was now amplified by the adrenaline rush of the past 30 minutes.  The sun sinking rapidly into the horizon and us still 30 minutes from home.  Riding at dusk gets more hazardous.  People pay less attention as the sky transitions, the sun momentarily blinding you at random intervals.

We were heading home, chilled externally by the cool day - so rare for July in the Mid-West, and internally by knowing all that had potentially gone wrong. Both of us knowing we had done all that we could and also knowing it wasn't enough to protect her from further harm. But St. Louis being what it is, and us being where we were, it was ALL we could do.

During a moment when I was praying silently on the back of the bike, asking God to help us accept what we'd just been a part of.  To be at peace with whatever would happen from there.  To know that we had done all we could.  Just then... on that wide stretch of highway, by then we were on the loop around this big, small city, which was oddly empty a small black Toyota pulled up alongside of us.

In the midst of a swirl of chaos and emotion, I heard a small voice say look to your left.

There in that car were two people that I adore!  They work for my Y.  He's a Pastor at a church in Ferguson or Florissant (I believe), when he isn't wowing everyone with his skills in Kickboxing.  And she's a personal trainer by trade, a life changer by nature. Gentle and kind, they both have a life mission of doing good.  And out of the blue, we are traveling the highway together side by side.

I felt calm.

In her smiling face and his laughing eyes (he's one of the few people I know who's eyes genuinely smile and sparkle when he smiles) I felt calm.  As we waved and greeted each other the moment of fear, grief, anxiety and angst was gone.

I believe God speaks when we are quiet and listen.  I know he does. A long time ago I turned everything over to him.  I was too overwhelmed and collapsing on myself from trying to go against his will. When I gave in, when I softly said "It's yours".

My world opened.

He brought me Hubs.

He has guided me and takes care. You just have to be silent and listen with your heart. Last night, I immediately felt calm.

Today I woke up praying for that young woman.

I also feel there is a lesson to be learned. As I also believe very strongly that we are put where we are for a definite reason. Nothing is an accident.

I am going through a few struggles right now.  There is a stormy sea.  I am trying to navigate and walk a path that is fraught with challenges.

I am making changes in my and my surroundings.  I am writing my story.  I am growing.

The story isn't about the ending.  It's about the pages in between.

Each of us are on a journey.  No one person is more important than the other.  No one person needs to consume all the resources and energy from the room.  My needs, your needs, everyone's needs are great at different moments and less at others. And somewhere in the messy middle, if you are willing, there is a happy spot.

Right now, I'm struggling with things in my bubble that are draining.  There are things going on that are zapping the energy stream.  In the same way a phone charger just plugged in and not charging anything puts a strain on the greater flow of electricity.

I have a task I need to complete today that is draining my energy.  Too much time, attention and energy are being directed into something I cannot change, impact or redirect.  I can't find the phone to plug into that energy stream.

So for a few more moments today while Hubs is off working at one of his branches, and I am getting ready to drive into the city to work at mine, I'm going to savor the quiet.  I'm going to be silent and listen.  Sip my coffee and reflect on the brilliantly swirling chaos that is my beautiful life.

I need to untangle a few pieces.  I need to sort through the path forward. And while I'm at it, continue to pray.

What about you?  Are you writing your story?  Or are driving distracted down the highway of life?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

14 years down...

When you are that person... the one who never remembers until the last minute.  The one that cannot remember the day of the week or how to plan ahead, it is highly stressful being married to someone that is not.

Hubs and I are celebrating our 14th anniversary today.  I would love to be spending a leisurely day with him, doing things we want to do.  But life doesn't always cooperate.

I woke up shortly before my alarm went off after a very fitful night sleep, I'm afraid to see what my fit-bit recorded, to the light being turned on and being handed my glasses.  Mr. Wonderful had again found the perfect time to go card shopping, because for him that is seriously a thing, and had made a special trip at some point while I was working no doubt to buy my gift and he couldn't wait a minute longer to give me either!

Me on the other hand... I think the last thing I pre-planned was our wedding.  Or possibly the trip to Germany 5 years ago.  I have long since lost the skill that is required for such punctuality. I was always terrible with cards and mailing gifts.  But now, I am so wrapped up in survival mode that I seem to forget the most important things!

In all fairness, his gift is coming.  It's still in New Mexico most likely, but it is coming!  And he is going to love it!

As I was preparing my Facebook post for him this morning, I realized that he's been challenging me to step outside of the very tight box that I have spent most of my life living in since day one!

I mean seriously?  I got married to this adventurous loving man on horseback! And the closest I'd ever come to riding a horse was feeding them at the fairs and in the fields.  They terrify me.  They are huge and definitely have a mind of their own.  Back then, my health was still really a hot mess and the tremors hadn't yet stopped, much less having an ability to speak correctly.  Yet, I climbed on back of that beautiful beast and trusted.

I've been doing a lot of trusting since I married Hubs.  Even before. If you had told me 15 years ago that I would one day strap on a helmet, sometimes without, and get on the back of a motorcycle for a days ride, I would have assured you that you were beyond insane!  And I do mean BEYOND! And yet, I will take any opportunity to go riding with Hubs.  I will drink my wine and let the wind blow past me in wild abandon and never hesitate.

He's coaxed me up to the top of a mountain in a gondola and down a zip line in the dark (I believe that I have mentioned that I am absolutely terrified of heights - correct?), but I assure you he will never convince me to jump out of a plane.  That is one step past crazy and into insanity with no hope of return.

When it comes to myself, I am not a risk taker.  I tend to walk the straight and narrow.  I am more of a fearful person.  Always needing to follow the rules.  Never able to let go.

He's taught me that it's okay to take a chance, a risk, to spread your wings and fly like an eagle. He's been my fountain of courage, strength and love.  From the day I told him I would never trust another man, nor would I ever get married again.  It simply wasn't happening.  

Sure we fuss at each other.  We have moments that we absolutely question (usually only for a few hours at the most) what in the world we were thinking.  And then we talk it out, sometimes via text, because its such a raw, deep and passionate emotion that we can't trust face to face words.   But we always end up back where we started.  Two halves of our whole!

I was married before, I struggled to imagine a future after our children were grown.  Now, I jealously guard each moment.  We day dream about retirement, trips, the next decades... I fear one reason that I struggle with his continual announcements that he'd like to retire is because I don't want to face the fact that my sweetie is older than me, that eventually, I will walk this walk alone.

I need that next 20 or so years... and I fully intend to have it!

I am blessed.  God sent me the perfect person to love for the rest of my days.  I look back on all the days and nights I spent praying and trusting God to do his will.  As I struggled to survive what I thought were the darkest days of my life.  I trusted and walked away as a person.  Between God and Hubs...

Pure Love....

Thursday, July 20, 2017

life's a journey...

Holy COW!  Has it really been almost six weeks since I've sat still in the morning, savored my coffee and done a serious brain dump?  Don't know if you've figured it out yet or not, but that is truly what this blog is about.  It helps me face life, deal with challenges, emotions, think things through, find my own compass.  The past six weeks almost seven weeks have been crazy intense, many things that I love have been sitting dormant, waiting for me to return to me.

I think I am getting there.  I couldn't sleep for almost two straight nights, the cicadas have been roaring, the song of their people is wearing on my nerves.  I am also not a fan of the Midwest heat.  Which if you have followed me for any length of time you already know.  So when the thermostat on my car dash tells me that even though my sweet little air conditioners is keeping me comfy at 70 degrees the air outside is a blistering 103, my mood sinks a bit. And... it's summer.

During the summer I rarely see my girls.  My daughter is a traveling fool in the summer.  Normally it is only a bit sad, this year with my newest grand baby changing almost daily, I am at least thankful she is an avid poster on Facebook. I feel like I am missing out on so much. Fall will arrive and life will slow down for her again.

I haven't had a chance to see my son for over a year.  Again, this is terribly sad for me.  I am "that" mom.  I never fully developed a me that didn't involve that in my "job description".  Who knows, maybe it is delayed empty nest syndrome.  Whatever it was it sure was causing me the blues this past week.

Yesterday, I felt an overwhelming sense of loss.  If I hadn't had so much to tackle, I am fairly sure I would have called in needing a mental health day.  Luckily, I needed to be busy. As I got into my car feeling pretty darn weepy and depressed I thought about calling a few folks, Bluetooth is an amazing invention for those of us with more to accomplish in a day than hours permit. I thought about doing a million things.  Instead I turned up the music for my 40 minute commute.  Hubs has been buying me a collection of new CD's lately, yep some of us still use CD's. Yesterday it was Sheryl Crow's newest.  

Initially I hadn't wanted to listen to it.  Frankly, I tend to shy away from artists that get too political, on either side of the spectrum.  Mainly because I will gladly read your comments, listen to you, speak with you etc, but I am not going to pay you for them. Just a personal quirk, and I'd already read some strong words regarding this album from her.

Luckily, I seriously enjoy her music and this was no exception.  Driving in I listened, rather loudly, to the words, the thoughts, the melodies.  So much of it spoke to me.  To where I am now in my own life, to my own quandaries and struggles. It soothed and uplifted me.

I needed that 40 minutes.

I've been doing a lot of reading in the few moments I've had to myself lately.  I've juggled a lot of minor struggles and some major ones.  I've closed a Y and opened a new one.  I have said goodbye to long time co-workers and welcomed new ones.  I have been working more hours than I thought were humanly possible, on relatively limited sleep and an even worse diet. I'd forsaken working out and I wasn't doing really good with  remembering to drink water.  I was neglecting my Hubs, my kiddo's, and my dogs.  Mostly, I was in survival mode.  My boss keeps calling it a marathon.  It sure felt like a six week sprint, but I totally understand what he was saying.

Three weekends ago I finally took some time off, four glorious days.  My boss insisted that I not answer emails, the phone, text messages, etc unless direly important.  I am thinking he could see the cracks that were forming around the edges. My core staff and I were all starting to get a bit crackly and crabby.  The strain was showing.  I am thankful for a leader that forced me to refocus.

It's been a slow process coming back from that.  It feels almost like weaning yourself from a bad habit. June was the crazy marathon.  July has been about refocusing, about making those changes that need to happen.

Slowly Hubs and I have started to live a normal life again.  I've started to cook, almost thought I forgot how, we are both back on track to continue our healthy lives.  Not the average new American lifestyle. Breakfast is in our kitchen, lunches are usually packed (although today we have the opportunity to have lunch together and a salad from Taze' is definitely going to hit the spot), dinner is being cooked together - eaten together at our dining room table.  Minus a few dozen of our new friends that we find at each restaurant.

Last night was the first time we've worked out together again.  I have been participating in classes at my new Y.  I not only want to support my staff team, I also what to be able to speak intelligently to what each class offers. I rarely go to another Y, habit I guess. As I no longer have a pool, it became a necessity.

Hubs has had learning the proper way to swim on his bucket list forever.  And we bought ourselves a season pass to our local outdoor pool as a gift this year.  I love to swim outside, inside - not so much. And he mentioned again how much he'd love to learn to really swim, to glide through the water as smoothly as one of my B's does.  Well, duh, we work for the Y!  Swim lessons are a pretty common occurrence and the new classes were just getting ready to start.

He asked me to come and swim while he took lessons. Don't forget I've run a pool, so I am very familiar with protocol during class times, and after checking with the guard and an instructor I found out that this pool doesn't allow open swim during class times.  I was feeling a bit bummed until I found out there was a deep water aerobics class at the same time.  Problem solved.

Today, I might be regretting that decision a bit following an intense workout on the QueenAx with one of my newest instructors. My arms are feeling a bit like jelly and I am hoping that the class I agreed to take at 4:45 pm today is going to focus more on the legs - they still have some life left in them.

I keep hearing Sheryl's songs in my head.  Several are focusing on finding yourself.  One in particular with an ironic title of "Roller Skate", feels like it could be my anthem. "I want some attention, I want to put you center stage, I don't want competition, so put your phone away." Sound familiar?  I feel like that mantra has been rattling around in my head.  I am working on being more present.

... she states ironically as her phone goes off with another person calling off and needing to change her plans to go to work...

Take some time for you... gotta run...

Saturday, May 27, 2017

moving forward...

The fan circulating the cool stormy breeze through my house is so loud, I can hear it throughout the house. Although I am finding myself thankful for it tonight, darn air conditioning is acting up.

It's been an emotional week.  Full of highs and lows.  People that I'm thankful for.  Short tempers and high spirits.  All the things that happen when any group is put through a huge change.  Our little group has been put through more than their share.

We are a family.  We aren't co-workers, peers, supervisors.  We spend way too many hours together for that to be the case. For 10 months we have been in a state of change, turmoil, transition in our professional lives. We've had to learn to deal with the fact that our "family" would be fracturing, no way all of us could move forward with our future, for a variety of reasons.

Our beloved Y was closing, our building was not sustainable. I remember the day it happened.  The beginning of the end for that beautiful, old piece of history that we loved and hated depending on the day. The flood in January of 2014.

We all knew the day would come.  For a while that first evening as we sat there in shock we feared that we would never open again.  The damage was intense.  Water everywhere. Large parts of our building seemingly destroyed. Ceilings coming down, water continuing to rise in the lowest levels of the building as the water continued to come down from 5 floors above, seeping through nooks and crannies.

There were four of us sitting in the lobby that night.  Emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted from the battle we'd fought since the early hours of that day.

I remember the feeling in my heart.  It felt hallow.  It was a building for pities sake. The sense of loss was almost over powering.

Our "family" worked hard.  Hubs was part of that family, it was when he still had an office on the main floor. That flood caused the Corporate Offices to move out for the first time since our Y had opened in 1926. And while we worked for 9 long months to get back to where we were, it wasn't meant to be. It was the beginning of the end for that old girl.

Ten months ago the decision was made, the battle ceased.  It was time.  We'd done a good job holding our own, we'd grown our membership base, we'd proven that a Y still belonged downtown.  But it was definitely time.

We got word that we were going to have a new Y, in the heart of the city.  A new kind of Y.  She's almost ready, soon we will open her doors.

This week, I closed the door on the past for the final time.  I was struck by the powerful feelings it held.  As I pulled up out front for the day, my heart hurt again. I would pull up again, many times, but it would never be to a Y again.  Simply to a building that needs to be emptied.  A place full of memories.

I spent Thursday comforting members and staff.  Offering tissues and hugs to people that have been there for decades.  Encouraging them to come with us to the new location. Climbing the stairs to all of the levels many times, giving final tours to people that simply wanted one more look. I guess when you have been part of the city landscape for 91 years, you don't truly slip off into the night.

Hubs was not feeling well - a migraine level headache took him out - he'd been supposed to join me for the final walk through. One of my B's was in Delaware, the other simply too tired to stay to the bitter end.  The Beast, well let's just say the week had pushed her hard and she needed to be home before her children put her picture on a milk carton as a missing person.

I knew that my boss was feeling under the weather, fighting a head cold that wanted to win.  But that night he showed up to help me walk every square inch of the old girl.  Locking rooms and insuring there was no one hiding in corners. Turning off lights and saying good bye.

I am blessed to work for a man that I can truly respect and admire.  He is a true cause driven leader.  He lives it.

I'd shared with him that I wanted to toast the old girl, after her doors were locked she was no longer a Y, just real estate.  Despite a cold and probably needing sleep more than helping me, we toasted the past, the present and the future for our Y.

She does have a future.  Because a Y is not just a building, it is not brick, stone or marble.  A Y is the people inside.  The work in the community.  A Y doesn't need walls, it helps, but it is not necessary.

Remarkably, I didn't cry.  At least not as I turned the key, reminisced, or even walked out to my car.  Maybe it was my military upbringing.  Maybe, just maybe I felt she deserved respect.  She'd sheltered so many over her 91 years, people had been connecting and finding a place to belong inside her walls for over 9 decades.

I can't say I didn't cry on the way home.

Our new "home" is almost ready.  Each day is more exciting than the last.  It's bright, airy, full of energy and fun! I am beyond excited about the things that we will accomplish.

The change is hard.  We're all running on fumes, working long hours with a single day serving as a weekend, if that. Our families aren't seeing us and we aren't seeing them.  Not only that but it's a busy time of the year. Graduations, vacations, endings and beginnings in all of our lives.

On top of all the things that need to happen quickly, we are all dealing with a 91 year old cranky old lady that might be trying to kick us out.  Ceilings are leaking that shouldn't have water above them.  The elevator decided to quit working the day before we started moving things out. Chunks of ceiling want to fall on the track.  It's been so stressful.

I have a lot of work that I should be doing. Schedules, bills to pay, so much.  I decided I needed a break. It's time to rest.  For a day, that is all I need, I want a long night's sleep. I will be better after a day of rest. My emotions not so raw. My energy level returned.

It's an interesting place. Looking west I see the past, it's quiet in its worn regal state.  Looking east is the future, full of life, excitement, energy, power, and possibility.

Now it's time to give in to sleep.

I'm worn.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Hot coffee and a beautiful sunrise.

Still doesn't feel like enough to get me motivated to do anything.  I want to get a walk in.  I do.  But my headache from yesterday is still lingering and the cold breeze is not inspiring me to slough off the exhaustion this week has brought with it.  

I haven't been sleeping well.  Correction, I've been sleeping fantastic until something makes me wake up and once awake all of those to do lists start popping up in my head.  Home ones, work ones, personal ones... they come flying in, robbing me of sleep.

I feel like I am stealing a few moments of time.  I guess I truly am.  I should be folding laundry, doing more laundry, changing sheets, catching up on the ironing, dusting (I'm am thinking of labeling all surfaces a science project with a do not disturb the dust signage), finishing pulling that darn English Ivy and putting out my beauty bark, moping floors, vacuuming (haven't seen that thing in weeks)... that list currently feels as overwhelming as the one for work.

I'm not complaining.  I'm sorting through.  I love my job.  I am so excited about all of the great things that we are doing, the changes, the energy.

I am just feeling a tad caught up in the maelstrom. So many moving parts in all areas of my life.  It's swirling around me. Golf, move, closure, opening, advocacy, staffing, coordinating, new rates, schedules, lists, lists and more lists.

Is it truly possible to be excited and anxious at the same time?  Where does one end and one begin?

So I'm stealing a few minutes.  Not many.  Just enough to enjoy the silence while Hubs and daughter are off on a mission that possibly involves a canoe?  Don't ask.  I've learned it's better that way.

There is no music playing, the house is silent except for the sound of the fountain in the aquarium. The boys are both snoozing and I am pretty sure the cat has once again returned to the upper level (I believe she has claimed it as her own).

In the silence, with the beautiful shadows from the breeze and leaves in the sunlight dancing on the hardwood floors, I am feeling calm.

More in control.

Control is something I have not been feeling a lot of lately.

I missed two of my workouts this past week.  Life, rain, and a headache all decided they were more important.  It's hard to believe that not a week ago I was standing out in the rain helping to bag sand.  Putting other problems and responsibilities on the back burner to help not only the community I live in, but a fellow leader in the Y movement.

Standing in the rain, covered in sand with my fellow Y family, my family and complete strangers I remembered what I missed so much about having time to volunteer. That powerful feeling of doing for others is amazing.

As Valley Park posted pictures of where we had worked so hard for so many hours, with flood waters dancing around the makeshift levees I felt a sense of pride for the efforts and immediate sense of defeat.  It looked from the pictures like it had been a wasted effort.

Slowly I started reading the comments, in fear, I didn't want to see what they said.  I didn't want to know all that was lost.  But in my usual Polly Anna manner, I was hopeful that I would see a silver lining somewhere, some how.

Seems that old adage, it's all a matter of perspective, is very true.  The pictures were taken from a drone hovering overhead.  The reality is that our efforts did make a difference. The homes might have taken a bit of water, but nothing tragic.  The county police department stayed dry. Homes and businesses were not destroyed.  We didn't save them all. Many have a lot of work to do to recover.  But we helped save some.

The Mobil station that we all kept running to for bio breaks and hot coffee appeared to have lost it's battle, but no sandbagging could have protected it.

In the midst of all that chaos, we made a difference.

I'm feeling the same way about the sunrise that is blinding me this morning.  I was so thankful for the rain to stop yesterday.  I love rain, but sometimes you can simply have too much of a good thing.

One storm handled, calm restored.  That is where I am right now.  Tackling one storm at a time and hoping I don't miss anything along the way.

Those endless lists will keep me focused.  I have all my B's, the Hubs and my girl keeping me grounded and sane.  I even started planning this coming weeks workouts. And tomorrow I will prep all the meals for the week.

It's all in the planning.  I guess it's time to fill my own sand bags.  It's time to rally my support system.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

trotting in the rain...

It's Tulip Trot Day! 

It's pouring rain. And yes I do intend to walk it regardless!  I had been hoping for sunshine and nice temperatures. Mother Nature, that fickle old woman, decided chilly and wet was far more preferable. Ugghhh, it's the first time that I will go to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  I'd had such high hopes to enjoy the beauty.  I will still enjoy the beauty, just in a different way. 

I don't mind rain.  I seriously do not. The girls are joining Hubs and I, although I feel Hubs is considering opting out.  He is not a fan of rain. Who knows the girls might opt out also.  I hope not.  I am not willing to give up so easy.  It's just another step on this journey. 

I got on the scale this morning, yes I know I told The Beast I would wait two weeks, I didn't.  I wish I had. On a basic level I know that weight training is going to cause swollen muscles initially. I know that muscles have more "weight" than fat. Logic weighs heavily in all of that.  But I can tell you, that the emotional side, the heart that has pushed through this journey was NOT happy this morning. 

I need to really refocus on my cardio and watching my diet.  Hubs and I have been resorting to our old ways far too often.  Not out of laziness, but out of sheer exhaustion. I toyed with getting something quick to eat for breakfast this morning.  But with the scale burning in my memory and The Beast's words about cardio and diet ringing in my ears I stopped for a moment and reassessed.  

A healthy, low-fat, low-sugar, high protein bowl of Greek yogurt, whole grains and a few strawberries later, I feel ready to take on the world.  Or at least 5K of soggy.

I know I am making progress, yesterday for the first time in almost a decade I shopped in the non-"women's" section. Not everything was bought there.  But enough to make me proud of my hard work.  

This journey is hard.  We are so ingrained to want instant success.  To take those baby steps, to struggle.  It feels unnatural.  And truly it is the most natural thing in the world.  Now if you see my gorgeous daughter who had a baby just over 9 weeks ago and she looks like a super model, it's easy to understand my frustration. Then I remember that she has the time for those walks and all those projects she's always working on are the truest definition of functional fitness.  And I feel a bit better about where I am on my personal journey. 

So... As we were heading to the Tulip Trot we got a notification that it was being cancelled due to rain. We decided to go pick up our shirts and transfer our registration to the Garden Gallop they are having in June. My girl and I were so excited to find out we could not only transfer, but also still walk the 5K, they just weren't allowing runners due to the standing water on the paths.  Safety first you know (which actually was not a bad idea as several places were a bit slick due to the water on the stones and or wood). So we smiled sweetly and got the Hubs and Grand Daughter to walk with us. That's our version anyhow...  it had nothing to do with the fact that we had the truck keys and were not negotiating.

If felt pretty amazing to hit 10,000 steps before 8:30 am.  And even in the rain, those gardens are breath taking!  Absolutely beautiful!  How have I never been there before?  I was feeling like a total slacker about it until Hubs made the comment that he's from here and in his WHOLE 65 years, he's never been either.  He has me beat hands down. Completely.

So, not only are we the proud owners of sore thighs, achy old knees, pruned feet and probably a few blisters, we didn't let a little (okay, so we are under an areal flood warning) rain deter us.

Now a tub with some Epsom salts and catching up on my magazines await my attention.  

Friday, April 28, 2017

early morning mumbles...

Sleep is starting to evade me.

I've been up for almost two hours now.

I've already taken the boys for their morning walk.  At least I think that is what we are still calling it.  They are both starting to show their advanced age and what used to be a 15 minute adventure of being dragged, is now a very leisurely stroll of about 30 or more minutes that involves a great deal more time standing still while they slowly meander along.  The big guys allergies are wearing on him, that and the fact that he is 10.5 years old.  Pretty advanced age for a Shepherd/Rottweiler mix.  The little guy, he's still trucking along at 16, (although that is pretty advanced for his breed mix of basset/pit) and there are days that I am pretty sure he is actually moving in reverse, at least until the last sprint when the leash comes off.  Then he's greased lightening. Although, I've noticed that our race has more breaks in it than it used to.

I worry that their time with me is drawing down.  And I find myself listening for their snores at night, more than sleeping.  For years Hubs has said that he hopes when they cross the Rainbow Bridge that they are sleeping safely in mommy's arms.  While I can understand that thought, as said "mommy"... I don't want to wake up to one of my boys gone in my arms. My heart would shatter!

So once my sleep get's disturbed and I start counting snores, well that's the end of it.  Because then my to do list breaks into my mind and simply there is no sleep from that moment on.

We are crazy close to opening our new branch.  It is an intense and overly busy time.  There are tough decisions to be made and so many things that are having to be sort of started from scratch.  New staff to either be hired or current staff to be retrained.  A 91 year old building full of "stuff" that needs to be sorted and planned for. A new one that needs to be monitored and filled.  I've measured offices and work spaces. Looked at more paint colors than my brain can process at this point.  I woke up this morning with visions of YMCA medium green versus YMCA light green and hearing the voices in my head arguing their different points.  For the record, I am not a fan of the light green.  Actually of any of the light colors.  I gravitate to the medium's, but dark's are where my heart is. Because at 3:30 am that is the conversation rattling in my head.

At random times I find myself making mental notes to order toilet paper dispensers and debating with myself over where I want to install paper towel dispensers. Evaluating the needs of the new facility with what remains in the current one, how many trash cans do I really need to purchase?

Don't even get me started on all that I have learned about fitness equipment, loading docks and installation processes! Although, I am incredibly excited to see and experience all of the new "toys" that will fill our space.

It is such a different kind of experience.  Such a big change.  It's exciting and it's terrifying all in the same breath.

I am thankful to Hubs for starting me on my own personal fitness journey almost 10 months ago.  It helps me understand so much more of what I am dealing with.  Most of the people that come to us are "Health Seekers", they are searching for the path.  Maybe they are still in denial, maybe they are still trying to rationalize it all in their own heads.  I feel so much better prepared to help them, to take their hands and say walk with me, I'm on the same journey.

A year ago, a comment was made that offended me to my core.  I still hear it in my head.  It wasn't meant maliciously, it was said carelessly and could have been worded better.  The young woman that said it is no longer part of our organization, and it's probably for the best, in a nut shell she was a super fit, young, single person and she could not understand the sheer laziness and lack of will power of anyone that could allow themselves to get "fat". She didn't have the depth and context of working long hours, finding little time for yourself, getting caught up in the day to day life far too many live, raising children, taking care of other family members and all of the things that lead to that slippery slope.

I hated that she'd callously said that.  I am sure there is a better way to encourage.  I have always been that person that has to make the journey to be able to fully understand the path.

I was that "fat" person.  I am still that "chubby" person.  I have a way to go on my journey.  I have found my path to my destination meanders a LOT! And that sometimes I lose track of where I am going.  Thankfully, I haven't reversed directions, but moving forward with everything else going on has been a challenge.

Working with "The Beast" 4/26/17 
I am so enjoying working with the Beast.  She might be the ying to my yang. She pushes me just hard enough that I don't really love her for a few minutes, but not hard enough that I hate her for days. She makes me work for it, and I love her wicked laugh as I am not so silently cursing her.

Me and my "B's"! Yep the Beast is in there!
It's not a pretty sight combining my personal and professional hopes, dreams and goals. The marriage has been messy.  It's so rewarding for all of the bits and pieces to finally feel like I have the right puzzle.  It's not the toddler version that I had all the wrong parts to, but I wasn't really expecting the 5000 piece one without a picture.

I was searching through old photo's today.  Looking for just the right one of Hubs, I need it for a special occasion. As I searched it was like pulling a scab off a festering wound.  The pictures I saw of me, that I allowed to be posted... wow... It's been an eye opening morning to say the least.

September 2013

April 25, 2017
So the lack of sleep is probably just my mind working over time.  Thinking through all of the bits and pieces and figuring out how to sort it out.  My old boys are just that, old... and eventually the Rainbow Bridge will call them to run like puppies again, but for now they are snoozing in the sitting room, safe and dry away from the rain.  I will manage to open and close the buildings.  Our golf tournament will happen.

And I will continue on my journey to me. Thankful all the way for the people that I hold most dear!