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Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to say goodbye?

Today was an average day, in my present life.  Honestly, I feel lost, and without a direction.  Last time I felt this way, I pulled up everything, and left.  It was the middle of my fall semester junior year.  My head wasn't in the game, so, I found something, I knew I loved, and left.  I went to UVM, because I had a dream of becoming an equine veterinarian.  By my junior year, my grades were not phenomenal, in the Math, and science department.  My appretation of supporting myself, and doing every activity I found remotely interesting, left me little time to study, practice, or really become excellent, at one thing.  I couldn't see that, then, and while I don't regret my life choices, I wish I had a clearer vision for what I hoped to do with a degree, in communications.  I studied biology, to get into vet school, and later switched to communications, as it came more naturally to me.  I.e, I didn't want to senselessly pound my head into a physics, or calculus text, I could wrap my head around.  I just forced myself to keep trying, because I wanted to he's. Wounded, or sick horses.  Finally, I reached a place where I realized I needed a change, and time, to decide if this was the right path.  So, I found a job, doing farm labor, exercising, and grooming horses for a British Olympic hopeful equestrian.  Those days were simpler, they hired me. Asked on the experience I told them I had.  3 weeks later, I found myself on a massive horse farm, riding 5 horses a day, observing lessons, cleaning up more horse poop, than I care to think about.  We worked from 7 am until 7pm, most days, but everyday passed entirely too quickly, whether it had been fun, or not so.  I changed a lot, in that year, as it was first time supporting myself, taking responsibility, for my choices about school, and the money I'd wasted, that fall semester.  Eventually, I had to return, and face my world.  That meant deciding how to finish school.  I ended up switching majors to communications.  I did quite well with it, provided I was interested in the course.  I worked the hardest at the subjects that interested me the most, and the others, I pulled through, begrudgingly.

I'm now realizing, I still live like that.  I focus on what I like, and try to begrudgingly get through the other stuff.  I spent the last 6 years arguing with doctors, therapists, amd case managers, to get what I thought was best, or what I needed.  Sometimes, I learned that I didn't know as much as I would've liked, and other times I learned that I needed to create ways to get around problems.

There was one person, that remained a constant, in my life of unknown people, and outcomes.  In 2008, I met a woman, Kim Patton, who was going to be the occupational therapist, I worked with, from then on.  However, she was field based.  In the early days she helped me secure community based volunteer positions, and was committed to ensuring that I stayed active in the community.  Naturally, my personality clashed with hers, on a regular basis.  She was an incredible mom figure, and if you know me, gracefully accepting assistance, is not something I excel at.  The majority of our working relationship, she'd toss out ideas, and I'd immediately disregard them, or just blindly shoot them down.  Looking back, she worked tremendously hard, to ensure her clients received the best care.

Last year, it became evident she was battling, a particularly harsh medical condition.  We suspected it was likely cancer, but it was like the dead horse in the room, I wasn't about to openly inquire, if she wasn't interested in sharing these details.  She was always so,open, with regards to her family life, and she was still working, so, I didn't put much thought into it.  She transitioned off my case pretty informally, last summer.  I can't even recpllect our last visit.

Today, I met up with a friend/ previous aide from the early days.  She called while I was out running, to push our meetup, a bit later.  I contined on, came back, changed, ate, and she arrived looking pretty upset.  When she asked me to sit, I felt my chest seize in fear.  I had no idea what news she had, but I knew it wasn't good.  She told me that she'd just heard from Kim's husband, and that she'd passed away, the day before.  I felt engulfed by a wave of sorrow, and regret.  I certainly wouldn't be where I am today, without her pushing me, and leading me towards a path of acceptance of my new path.  For that I will always be thankful.  Looking back, I wish I'd shown her more gratitude, when I had the opportunity.

She lived, a driven, caring, and compassionate life, my heart breaks for her family, but I'll remain forever grateful for the progress she helped me reallize.  May you rest in peace, Kim.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

... (spooky-scary)

A great friend of mine got married Sunday.  Weddings are an annual, or biannual event, at this age.  I met Colleen in high school.  She was a tomboy at heart, and enjoyed running around in the Maine woods, despite being raised to be a lady.

I have always had this fleeting memory making a pact, or promising I wouldn't think of getting married, until ic was 30.  Funny thing was, I couldn't remember which one of my girlfriends I'd sworn. That pact with.  5 years ago, when I had someone to love, and the subject occasionally surfaced, my deeper subconscious paid me rare visits, but, I recall thinking, 'I didn't want yo get married until my 30's, and yet, I have no idea why.  If I've found love now, I want to hold on to it!'  Funny, how that didn't work out...

When Collen got married this past weekend, I saw her write something about having made a pact at 15. Not to marry until she was 30, and all of those memories, as well as many past struggles and tormenting emotions, surged in.  I realized I've never dealt with my emotions, since this happened to me.  I saw a therapist I didn't trust, on an emotional level, for almost 4 years, ack!  I never learned. To deal with my emotions properly, as a kid either.   I held everything in, until one, tiny thing, pushed me past my tipping point.  Sunday, I learned that I still do that.  I never actually dealt with my feelings, when Sean moved.  Instead, I threw myself back into school, and a class I didn't understand.  I was so far out of my league, at that point, I got lost in my phobias and misunderstanding of that class.  I remember that fall, because I dropped 10 pounds, that I did not  have to loose, and felt nauseous at every meal I ate, in my then living situation.  

When I moved, at the end of the year, it was the fresh start I needed, to get away from everything I associated with Sean.  That progression allowed me to cover up those feelings, without actually dealing with, or confronting them.  All of sudden I felt as if I'd been flattened by a Mac truck, of emotions, and feelings, I haven't dared , or even had the capacity, to approach, since the onset of my injury.  I went to meditation class that evening, to attempt to deal with myself.  I've been having difficulty adjusting to the visiting leader.  I loose focus constantly, and failed to consider that fact when I went.  Trust me, 90 minutes of guided meditation, often flies by, but I couldn't find home base, that night.  It was more like 90 minutes of my inner psyche, attacking itself.  Everything from interactions I could recall with Sean, to why I'm so unhappy with myself for not being gainfully employed, at this present moment.  It's rather unsettling to have your past, and present, attack at the same time.

I went to the track Monday afternoon, and pushed myself to faster, than I think I can.  For the very first time, since I started doing my escapes at the track, I got winded.  I've never, independently reached that point of physical stress, since incurring this injury.  So, that felt awesome.  While, I did, what I refer to as my run on the track, a frisbee team, came out, to use the field.  I must've listened to them chant something that sounded like, "ti-go-wanna-comfa-UVM" 10 times before I heard, "Here we go, UVM!"  So bizarre, how phonetics work...  It was a great distraction, though.  When I hit 3 miles, I stopped to stretch.  I'm touching my toes, when I hear, C-Blaaaaize!"  That was a nickname, I got in college, generally from my outing club friends. I knew who it was immediately, which I can rarely, to never, say when I'm out, and about.  My mindset falls back into college mode, relatively easily.  I think because, I really understood it, and where my life was headed.  When I acquired this injury, I lost everything that made me who I was, including my mind.  Stringing it all back together, hasn't been easy, or glamorous,but, in the end, you need all of those things, to know who you are- passions, furies, intolerances, glories, and so on...

I completely changed gears, from jogging at the track, to head over, and take part in a group called, Monday Night Kirtan.  It's basically a group of people coming together, to make music, and sing in chants.  All of the people are extraordinarily positive.  When I began going, I immediately appreciated the mindset of many of the folks I met, which enabled me to make more connections within the group, and continue or take part.

The progression of my recovery isn't normally, a vision, I can readily access.  However, when I realize. I have the opportunity to process the progression I've made, I feel I need to use that clarity, to help put things back together for myself.

All that said, congratulations to Colleen, and Adam, on your wedding!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maine Marathon

The slogan this year was, "The way a marathon should be".  That's a clever play on, 'Maine, the way life should be".  Which is is the state slogan.  My favorite t-shirt, from years ago, said that.

My dad came up to Vermont, Friday  night.  We made some dinner, and planned out the weekend.  He ran some errands, while I continued gathering everything, I might possibly need.   Oddly, I forgot one crucial thing.  My toothbrush.  Yuck.  I did get one there, but I was so bummed when I couldn't find it.

We enjoyed an amazing meal with my friends Val, and Abe.  Fresh veggies, sweet potato hash, and pasta with pesto.  There was a lot of antagonizing going on, while dinner was cooking.  Another friend, Hazel showed up, and we all ate this wonderful meal, and caught up.  We talked about a wedding, of a close friend of ours from high school.  I'd suddenly become, the only one, not attending.  Due to error, in not booking my tickets.  They decided to bring me in spirit, and in photographs,  it was one of those ideas that sounds great in the moment, but that you doubt will ever really occur.  Although, I was pretty sure, it would happen.  These ladies, are doers.  I wish I spent more time around them, for that reason.  I've spent 6 years living life where people talk about stuff they never actually get around to doing.  These gals are my best friends, and I know they do what they say, no matter how ridiculous.  And, I love them for it.

It was an early to bed, early to rise type of night.  We got up at 4:30 to start at 6:30.  It's a truly beautiful course, especially, at day break.  The first 2 miles are along a cove, and open water.  It's my favorite part, as it's just getting light, and you catch the first glimpse of the sun rising, over the water.  Everything is peaceful, and quiet, at that hour.  We continued on,and ran into a cyclist volunteering for the race, Roy.  He was the same man, who'd accompanied us last year too.  It was great to see a familiar face, on course.  We all continued on, me pushing the jogger, my dad running backwards, and Roy, going back, and forth, until we got into the pack, that is.  Around halfway, we started seeing a lot more runners, and had people consistently passing by, the rest of the way.    After I turned around, I heard  my name, and knew it must be someone I'd recognize.  I got mauled in a hit and run bear hug, by my childhood eye doctor.  I'd seen her at the gym in June, and we'd talked about this race, but I'd forgotten until that moment.  That was pretty unbelievable!  The top marathoners zoomed by, as we knew the end was fairly close.  The day before, the race director had mentioned the name of the guy projected to win, Robert Gomez.  I stood there thinking, I know that name, weird.  Eventually, I realized, it was because we were on the same cross country team, in high school.  So weird.  I never actuallysaw him, except as a blur passing by, but he did win the race.  Another member of the XC team from high school, was there too.  Medomak Valley represent.  I saw Darren passing too, but didn't really get to day hi.  This is a huge event, I never expect to see people I know.  I had my own surprise, of awesome friends waiting at the finish.  In the last mile, or two, my childhood best friend, Amy, and her boyfriend Jason, were walking out, and they brought us in.  I was so relieved to finish, as I was starving, and just wanted some pizza.  For whatever reason, pizza is the post race food, I've come to crave.  Crazy.  It's one of the few times I even eat pizza.  It normally doesn't call to me.  Hazel also came down to join us, and  had just found out she passed her nursing boards, that morning, so there was celebration all around.  

We hung around briefly, talking to local press,and food vendors,and made a plan to meet up in a couple hours for lunch, at a Portlannd hotspot, Gritty Mcduffs.  It's basically a pub that serves local Maine brews, and great fesh, grill style food.  Yum, after a great race, and visiting with great friends, we headed  back to Vermont, though not before stopping at a local donut shop, 'The Holey Donut'.  It came highly recommended by Val, and Abe.  When I heard about the chocolate, sea salt flavor,  I knew I had to stop.  Thankfully my dad was in a similar mindset.  He also got a gift certificate for Val and Abe, as they'd spoken so highly of it.  I knew that would be a fun thank you note to receive!  Yum, I could go for a donut right about now.

Looking back, the race went pretty smoothly.  Obviously, the only thing I'm actually racing are my uncoordinated limbs.  It's like a neverending  contest for my feet to get safely back on the ground.  The joy, and anticipation I have for this event, is boundless.  Though, of course I look forward to the day I can do the full marathon, sans jogger, though for now, accomplishing 13.1 still feels like a major feat.  I'm so thankful to everyone who helped make this happen for me!