Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fate, Faith, and a Well Worn Pair of Shoes

Forgive me.   Brooks and I are still working out our privacy concerns, but this blog just needed to come out.   It is my intention that after you have read it, that you understand my exception to my "last" blog post.

God is present in my life.  I pray...never for things, but always for strength.  No matter how late I am running, my first thought each day is always to pray: "Please Lord, give me the strength and courage to do what needs to be done today.  Please guide me and keep me from screwing up your plan".

My prayer is obvious of two things.  One:  It's my own vernacular.  Two:  I believe in fate.

I believe that there is a plan for each of us.  Over and over again, my life has been blessed with serendipitous moments that can not be explained by randomness.  These are intentional blessings sent to us to teach us and prepare us.  The universe gives us hints that we are being guided.  A chance meeting of a friend after years absence; seeing that mother with her son before I knew adoption could be an option for us; the ladybug that landed on our adoption application just before I put it in the mailbox; walking into a baby section for the first time EVER two weeks before I found out I was pregnant, after being told my whole life I would never conceive; being asked to "go for a run", which was an absurd notion, just after getting a scary diagnosis for Noah; "seeing" my sister Jeanne in a stranger---always a sign for me that a big change is coming.

That is fate.  That is the universe telling me that it's okay.  Someone has got my back.  I'm on a path, a journey.  I'm doing okay.

And, then there is faith.  Faith is harder.  Faith is knowing that my will and wants may not be what is His will for me.  It is knowing that I am but a small cog in the universe and that my tunnel vision can not possibly see what lies in store for me.  This is hard.  It is giving up control.  It goes against every fiber in my being when I want to take action, but often I have to practice patience.  It's where I can screw it up.

Then there are times like now.  When I face challenges in nearly every aspect of my life.  I am at a crossroad with my career, friendships, racing and in my home life.  I want to DO, but in many of these areas, I must pause.  It is hard for me.  I am struggling.

That's when I call in the big guns.  St. Jude.  St. Jude is the patron saint of hope and impossible causes.  He's my miracle worker.  Each novena I have prayed in my life has been answered.   I credit St. Jude for Noah's very existence, for my beautiful daughter who came to me from half-way around the world, for Mark's coming back to life.  I am currently praying a novena, but I can not yet see tangible evidence that my prayer has been answered.  I must have faith that it has, but be open to signs that it is answered in God's way, not my own.  Again, hard for me.

That is where the worn pair of shoes comes in.  I've seen shirts that tritely say that "Running is my therapy".  For me, it is more than words on a t-shirt.  I believe it.  Running is when I feel closest to God.  I can cry, scream, and question when I am alone and running.  I can also count my blessings, see beauty, be open to my path and be thankful.  It is when I can find my strength and courage.  I would be lost without it.

This past weekend, I ran a half marathon.  Not a big deal for me in distance, but mountainous for me in it's completion.  During my previous race, I walked away.  I could have completed the distance and challenge, but I just couldn't run through it.  I felt weak.  Those same feelings haunted me at the start of this race.  I felt lonely.  The gun went off, and I couldn't have been more disinterested.  I hit the second mile and  I started to cry.  I cried hard, but I kept running.   I put my sunglasses on and ran, soon realizing that it is very hard to cry and run while keeping an 8 minute pace.  So, I stopped crying, but kept moving, resisting the urge to just walk away. The tears came and went throughout that race, but I kept pushing, haunted intermittently with incredibly negative thoughts.   I did not feel like I had strength or courage. Frankly, I was pretty pissed and cranky.  Then I started "seeing" things.  First, a number on a person's back...then a handmade sign that held a personal meaning for me outside of it's intended message... a silly picture that I associate with one of my struggles, and finally, a soda bottle on the ground with just the right word on it.   I stepped away from that race with not just a medal, but with a wee bit of hope that I am on the right path.

I have several decisions to make.  I will make them.  They are the hard kind, but I am keeping my faith close to me.

My friend Catherine has this wonderful quote that she shared when she delivered my son's commencement speech, and also several times in yoga class.   I can hear her voice when I recall it.  It's been a mainstay in my head for the past few weeks.

"What will you do with this ONE wild life you've been given?"

Well, Catherine...God only knows.

Thank you St. Jude

Friday, July 10, 2015

Transformation: A Life Regained

I write this blog for Brooks.  Recently, they asked me to make it more public to increase my readership from my current several hundred hits per post.  I'm not sure yet, how I feel about that.  As such, this may be my last blog. I'll have to run on it.

However, I am comfortable with this entry, as it is not about running....mountain climbing...travels...rafting..kayaking....camping....yoga...building stuff....or any of the other "crazy" things that I do.  This post is about Mark and the amazing transformation he has completed.

We have always wanted to go to Chicago.  I pushed the envelope again.  I told him I signed up for a race and had already booked my airfare.  I then told him that there is a body building competition that has a "transformation" division that same weekend.  I planted the seed and relentlessly harvested it.   From the first week I met him, he has wanted to enter such a contest, but there was always an excuse. (more on that later).  Mark doesn't make decisions like I do.  He's a planner, a projector, a "let's be sure this is the right thing to do" kind of guy.  I drive him crazy.

He eventually bought in.  It took him so long, that we wont even be sitting next to each other on the flight home.

As part of the contest, he had to write a 100 word bio explaining his transformation.  100 words? Mark?  Ha!  He takes 100 words to say hello.  During one of our dates, he asked for help.  I stared at him for two minutes.  That is a really long and uncomfortable amount of time to stare at someone who has no idea what you are doing.  I grabbed a pen, and this is what came out:

Boom!  Who's this guy?  The Mark Basehart of just three years ago had severe depression, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, syncope and early diabetes.  Maladies that made his doctor shake his head. To add insult to injury, he was born with Poland's Syndrome, a congenital anomaly that effects 1:100,000 people.  Look closely, you'll see he is missing his left pectorals major muscle and one half of his left bicep.  Can you say low self-esteem?  Life was about setbacks and defeats and he had become disinterested.

Things got rocky in all areas of his life.  Things had to change.  He found WBFF Fitness-Pro Vince Delmonte's programs on-line and hasn't looked back since.  He's lost the 75+ pounds (and gained muscle), completed two marathons, a 50-mile road race, a Spartan Race, began Cross-Fit, and continued serious weight training.  Hang gliding, para-sailing and mountain climbing are all on the bucket list, and he's just getting started.  Life is now about possibilities and busting through comfort zones.

Wow.  He had tears in his eyes when he read it.

He committed right then and there to add the "fitness" category to his competition. He was all in.  It may take him a while to make a decision, but when he does, he commits with a vengeance.

Before school ended, he pulled me into his classroom (literally).  He was so excited to show me a picture.  It was a picture of his muscular back.  "This is it, Tiggs!"  he was almost giddy.  "THIS is finally changing the voices in my head from, NO, I can't, to YES, I CAN!".  Now, it was my turn for my eyes to sting.

We laugh at the silliness of this "contest" that in some ways amounts to a beauty pageant.  It is entirely superficial at face value.  It is supposed to exemplify health and fitness, but the nutritionist in me crawls into the fetal position when I see what he is doing during "Peak Week" and the Personal Trainer in me can't wait to help him implement a more balanced lifestyle plan.  I cringe when I think of the extent some of the competitors (mostly women) will go through to get lean.  Ugh.

He calls me his 'Director of Artistic Development'.  As such, I've had to learn and help implement information pertaining to spray-on tans, teeth whitening, posing trunks, facial hair orientation and coloring, smile practice, brooding practice, choreography, and endless posing.   He wakes me up at night, slowly stroking his hand down my spine, whispering such things as, "should I increase my protein?" or "tell me about Potassium".  It's a lot.

He also got a bear claw tattoo.  A BEAR CLAW!  OMG!

But, we know it is about a lot more than the contest.  It is about Mark facing his fears and moving forward.  It is about Mark finally accepting who he is, and letting the whole world know it

So, next weekend, we will fly off to Chicago.  Mark will take to the stage and I'll run with Meb.  Then we will partake in all of the deliciousness that Chicago has to offer (Mark calls it the food porn capital). I can't wait to cheer him on, and spend a fabulous weekend together, even if we don't sit together.

Transformation complete.  I'm so very proud of you Froggie.

Thank you St. Jude