Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Very Own Moment

I wasn't able to eat at all today, save for a package of Chomps, a peppermint mocha and two wheat thins.

Feeling crappy due to the calorie deficit, I decided at 8:30 PM that maybe, just maybe, I needed to create an "experience" for myself rather than simply force myself to eat.

I carefully chopped and sliced and melted and poured then grabbed the most recent issue of Real Simple. I sat down at the table by myself with a glass of malbec, and a plateful of carrots, celery, a granny smith apple and a few slices of from a sourdough baguette, all of which I dipped into cheese fondue while leafing through my magazine and sipping my wine.

I was, in that moment, utterly and completely sustained.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Sickness Carol (by popular demand...☺)

The Twelve Days of Sickness...

On the first day of sickness my illness gave to me a painful, swollen right knee.

On the second day of sickness my illness gave to me forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the third day of sickness my illness gave to me extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the fourth day of sickness my illness gave to me severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the fifth day of sickness my illness gave to me five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the sixth day of sickness my illness gave to me many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the seventh day of sickness my illness gave to me a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the eighth day of sickness my illness gave to me a lovely low-grade fever, a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the ninth day of sickness my illness gave to me nine rounds of puking, a lovely low-grade fever, a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the tenth day of sickness my illness gave to me ten dark blue fingers, nine rounds of puking, a lovely low-grade fever, a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the eleventh day of sickness my illness gave to me inexplicable weight loss, ten dark blue fingers, nine rounds of puking, a lovely low-grade fever, a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

On the twelfth day of sickness my illness gave to me pericarditis, inexplicable weight loss, ten dark blue fingers, nine rounds of puking, a lovely low-grade fever, a case of pleurisy, many mouth ulcers, five little seizures! Severe neck pain, extreme fatigue, forgetfulness and a painful, swollen right knee.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Enjoy the Ride

I sat on a bench soaking up the beauty of my friends and my surroundings and counting my blessings when out of nowhere this incredible spirit came over to me. Years of hardship were etched into his face. He smiled and said something about some people believing that life is just like getting in and out of a car, point A to point B. I told him I felt that there was so much more to life than that and that we each must make the most of it. He laughed a deep, rich belly laugh, pointed a crooked finger at me and said, "ain't it the truth". He backed a few feet away and from the depths of his soul and with the voice of a gospel angel, began to sing Amazing Grace with such passion that he made us both tear up. When he was finished I thanked him for the song. He told me he was gonna fly soon and asked if I believed it. I said I understood. He asked me to pray for him and, much to his dismay, I think, I told him to do the same for me. As he walked away I called after him to say, simply, "Enjoy the ride."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Song Bird

Maya Angelou is, perhaps, my most favorite literary giant. Her words are rich and powerful, touching and poignant, yet she is so altogether unassuming.

Exhibit A recently read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, possibly one of the greatest books of all time, by my estimation. She was moved, as most of us are, by Maya's story.

There's a stand alone Angelou essay about Maya's brother who played an integral part in the events that shaped her life and Exhibit A felt compelled to write her own piece about the single most important person in her world. In keeping with the singing theme, she selected a song that reminded her of her subject and she interwove the lyrics throughout her writing.

She chose me.

She stood in front of the room with her selected piece of music playing in the background and she began to read her words with a confidence we all wish to have when the spotlight shines upon us.

I can't possibly express here the depth of her essay or even hit the highlights, for I know I won't do it justice. I am not sure I've ever felt so utterly overwhelmed with pride, love, humility and gratitude all at the same time.

I can tell you that the part that touched me the most was that she said I was a "working woman"... but she didn't mean I have a job. Instead, she stated that I don't approach anything with less than my best and no matter whether it's a volunteer position, my job, a family matter, fighting an incurable illness or sustaining a relationship with another person, I put forth 150%. She also talked about my green eyes, my mad cooking skillz, my willingness to teach other people new things and, perhaps most touching, my ability to face adversity with courage, strength of character, beauty, grace and an unending sense of humor.

All the while she wove into her essay the following lyrics by Kate Voegele which continued to play in the background:

This road is anything but simple
Twisted like a riddle
I've seen high, I've seen low

So loud, the voices of all my doubts
Telling me to give up
To pack up, leave town

Even so, I had to believe
Impossible means nothing to me

So can you lift me up?
Turn the ashes into flames
'Cause I have overcome
More than words can ever say
I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
And that a day will come when the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

Somewhere, everybody starts there
I'm counting on a small prayer
Lost in a nightmare
But I'm here, and suddenly it's so clear
The struggle through the long years
It's taught me to outrun my fears

Everything that's worth having
Comes with trials worth withstanding

So can you lift me up?
Turn the ashes into flames
'Cause I have overcome
More than words can ever say
And I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
And a day will come when the fight is one
And I think that day has just begun

Oh lift me up... oh lift me up... oh lift me up
Lift me up, lift me up
Oh, lift me up

Down and out is overrated
And I need to be elevated
Looking up is not enough
No, I would rather rise above

So can you lift me up,
Turn the ashes into flames
'Cause I have overcome
More than words will ever say
And I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
And that a day will come
When the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

How is it that one so young is so incredibly wise beyond her years and that she understands so much more than so many people who have lived longer and fuller lives? Once again, I am humbled... yet also just incredibly thankful that that my words and actions have reached her, that I am one step closer to where I need to be in order to know with great certainty that my work here is, indeed, done.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Girl Talk

My house backs up to thick woods which right now glow with the fire of fall colors. The beauty of living in the dirty south is that on a crisp fall day it's just cool enough to whisper autumn but fair enough to soak the outside world in sunlit warmth.

Exhibit A and I sat on the deck this afternoon sipping hot, spiced cider and talking about everything and nothing all at once.

As her words started to flow she opened up to me more and more and for the first time ever, there was talk of... a boy.

She likes a boy but she doesn't know his name. He is tall and has strawberry blonde hair. I asked her if she'd just seen him from afar and thought he was cute and she looked at me like I have three heads then went on to explain...

She was in the hallway trying to get from one class to the next and a few things dropped from her locker. The boy was passing by and stopped to help her. He picked up what dropped and handed it to her with a smile.

The measure of a man is not so much in his looks or even in his words, but in his actions. I've tried to model a life of action for my children and explain to them what matters most. How happy I am that my daughter has already started to figure out what took me years and years to understand.

Friday, October 30, 2009


It's not dead.

I fully admit that in my life time I have made a few poor choices with regard to the princes who have come and gone from my kingdom. I believe that in any such relationship the signs are there if you look hard enough... but often we want so much for things to have a fairy tale ending that we overlook the obvious or, perhaps, the subtle. For some, the issue isn't so much that they don't see the signs but that they simply become too enmeshed in their patterns that they are willing to accept mediocrity. On the flip side, sometimes we don't give enough credit where credit is due and we fail to recognize how truly amazing the people in our lives are which puts us at risk of missed opportunities to kiss frogs or sleeping princesses.

I've been hanging out with a particular prince for awhile now. Tonight I had some errands to run and he happily offered to come along to keep me company which, I believe, was code for keep me safe.

As we stood in line at the grocery store an elderly lady in front of us dropped a $20.00 bill on the ground. It came as no surprise that the prince picked it up and handed it to her. As the cashier gave her the total, this sweet lady realized she hadn't enough cash with her and stated she needed to put some items back. Without knowing the amount owed, the prince informed the cashier that he would be covering the balance. The thing is that it didn't surprise me in the least and it was almost a race to see who could get the words out the fastest as my mind works in exactly the same way and I certainly would have offered had he not.

So yes, chivalry is not dead... I just think, sometimes, our sensitivity to the acts of kindness around us might be.

Things That Make Me Happy

1. My little one's belly laughs... the kind that is only ever elicited by his awesome big brother, the kind that makes people stop and listen and laugh themselves. The kind that you wish you could bottle and listen to whenever you have a bad day now or years from now.

2. Skinny margaritas... rocks, sugar.

3. Waterfalls... nothing like hiking a remote trail, finding a big rock and just hanging out there for the day. Best to go with someone who plays the guitar (bonus points if that someone is responsible for hiking in with it).

4. White water... doesn't matter where, what category... just gimme some.

5. My bikes... my stupid, cheapass, silly, girly pink mountain bike. It makes me feel strong and reminds me not to lose my sense of humor. My pretty roadie that has taken me down paths I never knew existed, both literally and figuaratively.

6. Knowing that there is no item #6... and getting the joke.

7. Teaching group X classes to newbies who are hooked immediately, to athletes who can handle the challenge and keep coming back for more, and to everyone in between.

8. Music... I have such a connection to music... I can tell you what was playing on the radio 22 years ago when I was driving a friend's Toyota Carolla, sitting at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and River Road in DC. It was not a special moment in time, nothing interesting happened. It's just how I am. It's like there's a musical score always going on in my head. Music is important to me every second of every day. Really.

9. Special K... after spending our college years together it has been a treat for us to live near each other once again and for me to know the incredible woman she has become.

10. My other BFF... not a day goes by that we don't laugh together, sometimes even through the tears. Just moments ago during a very serious and difficult conversation I couldn't resist the urge to say something over the top sassy. It broke a moment that needed breaking and we both understood it, we found solace in the ensuing giggles, and that was good therapy.

Not long ago she sent me a note that said "there is so much to thank you for but what I really want you to know right now is that you've been the most amazing friend a person could ever have." I feel exactly the same about her... and that, in and of itself, makes me happy.

11. Making other people feel good, helping those in need, being the best friend/mother/insert any number of titles here... that I can be makes me happy. I hope that I've made a difference in the lives of others whose hearts and heads I've touched. I hope I've made people be more self-reflective and inspired big thoughts. It is my sincerest hope that someday someone will say that a day without the Cranky Princess is like a day without sunshine.

12. My job. I feel so blessed to do what I love and therefore love what I do.

13. Watching my daughter dance. It's amazing to me to see such passion and drive in one so young.

14. My Prince Charming... the one I'm lucky enough to love... who loves me to the moon and back and then some. I think he's kinda lucky, too.

15. My guidelines for how to live my life. They keep me grounded. I'm proud that I have them &, for the most part, that I stick to them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Philosophy...

The best we can hope for in life is that we have laughed often and loved much, and that at the end of our days we can honestly say we have lived a life of integrity, have few, if any, regrets, and that we have told the people who matter how very much they made our hearts sing.

As I reflect upon a life well lived, I think to myself, "what advice would I give others?". It seems so obvious to me but I've come to realize that perhaps it's only so because I find myself in a position to be reflective, to take stock and to judge how successful I've been in the areas that really count. So here goes:

Have a sense of humor. Face life with a smile on your face. And, for the love of God, never, ever take yourself too seriously.

When it's important, tell people how you feel no matter how difficult it is to express, how uncomfortable it may feel in the moment, or how much of yourself you have to expose. You alone are accountable to and for yourself and you must be your own advocate.

Make sure your actions exemplify your words. For they speak far louder than tiny utterances ever will.

Deal with anger, frustration or general crankiness in constructive ways... don't take things out on people who have no control of your world or did not contribute to the problem at hand.

Support others' efforts to live their best lives, whatever that means to them, even if it's not the path you would choose for yourself or have them choose for themselves. Express concerns if you have them and be honest, but ultimately, it's their choice... and often choice, not chance, determines destiny.

Appreciate even the smallest acts of kindness. Practice your own random and specific, planned acts of kindness on a daily basis.

Know who you are when no one is looking.

Apologize when you need to... and even when you're not sure you need to. No one will ever fault you for apologizing... but a lack thereof is ultimately egotistical.

Pick your battles, and never, ever pick petty things, for they are seldom worth the fight.

Give people choices. No one wants to be backed into a corner and you can't control other people's words or actions anyway.

Carefully consider your options so that the choices you make do not lead to regret.

Be spontaneous but never reckless in words or actions.

Remember that life is short and experience as much as you can, journey as often as possible... and take the road less traveled when you do.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another Resident Writer

As I sat on the sofa trying not to bleed on pretty pink satin, wondering how on earth I managed to birth a child whose passion requires that I singe ribbons and sew things with sharp needles and dental floss, said child looked at me with those baby blues and said, "You know, mom, writing is kinda my thing."

It wasn't really news to me, she used to shut herself in her room for hours and write and illustrate stories, but I asked her if she had something new she wanted to share. She'd been working on a poem for a county contest, the theme of which this year is Beauty and had just finished it.

Beauty is Dance
- by Exhibit A

Dancing is meaning
Beauty in both
Dancing is feeling
Love with no words

Dancing is flawless
Worshipping perfection
Dancing is art
Picasso with no brush

Dancing is passion
Knowing what you want
Dancing is grace
Walking with talent

Dancing is learning
No wisdom too much
Dancing is breath taking
Stunningly elegant
Dancing is Beauty

And so it seems that at her young age she's already figured out that when you write from your heart, when you write about that which you are passionate, you create unparalleled beauty in your words.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Athlete's Honor

We often forget that listening to our bodies and respecting the recovery process is just as important as tackling the difficult training tasks that become part of everyday life. So many athletes don't realize that it is, actually, through recovery, whether within or outside of a given workout, that our bodies do their best training. The more fit you become, the more quickly you recover. Athletes that are plagued with chronic injuries are typically those that don't know the meaning of rest days or sidelines or how to fine tune their bodies enough to know when to keep pushing and know when to say nada mas.

There are two ways to honor your body. The first is to know when and how to challenge it. The other is to know when to back off.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We all have our crosses to bear and yours are no greater than mine. I realize it's all relative and, frankly, I am a believer that we are not given more than we can handle; however, it does seem that some of us must endure more, must work through pain, be it physical or emotional, time and time again, must experience highs and lows that come from a place so seemingly unmerciful that at times you can do little more than scratch your head and think... really?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fancy Things

If I were to bottle my teaching philosophy and magically build a school from it, the result would be quite similar to Exhibit B's Fancy Schmancy school. As I sat through curriculum night tonight I couldn't help but tear up just a little out of the sheer joy I felt over being able to offer him this experience.

You see, the thing is, they had me at "we are not textbook based" on the school tour a few months back when I was considering applying. They reinforced it with talk of Lucy Caulkins, inquiry-based and experiential learning, curriculum integration, constructivism, literature circles and global citizenship. Tonight, however, what got me was far less theoretical than that. While the teachers were talking about the curriculum they were showing a slide show of photographs of the kids engaged in their everyday activities. One, in particular, caught my eye. It was a picture of Exhibit B doing a freewrite while nestled amongst the high branches of a tree.

In that moment I realized that it doesn't matter, the cost or the sacrifice, because he is, already, forever changed by this opportunity.

Admittedly, I sat in that room this evening feeling like an imposter... as though I didn't belong. I can barely afford this school but would gladly give up a million and one fancy things to keep Exhibit B there for the next 5 years. I listened to them talk about the annual fund and the price range on what things go for at the spring auction... and felt kinda sick.

When I juxtapose the financial burden with what's happening in my life right now, I find it all just a little bit surreal. However, at the end of the day, if my child's education is the fanciest thing I've got going on, I am perfectly OK with that. And then some.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Dearest Mr. A,

It's 11:54 PM. I just got the news and I. Am. Speechless. So I sat down at my computer to let my fingers do the talking because sometimes they work better than my brain. If you were here, you'd tell me that writing is cheaper than therapy and likely make a joke about me being "just this side of crazy". The more I think about it, the more I think you might have had a good point.

There were so many days when your dry sense of humor brought a smile to my face. I can't remember a time when you didn't have a Starbucks cup in your hand. I think of you whenever I hear the Fast and Furious soundtrack. You knew the importance of a good pair of shoes. I often thought that if I came to your classes and just did the warm-up with the girls that I'd have the rockin'est core around. I've watched my daughter dance many dances and know, with great certainty, that the best she's ever done were those she did for you. You pushed hard but there was never a question about just how much you truly cared. I can't count the number of awards you won for your breathtaking choreography. You shared your gift, your passion, your creativity and raw talent with and motivated many, many young dancers, some of whom have gone onto greatness as a direct result of your influence.

I had my suspicions, you know, about what was going on, but kept them to myself even when we had those long talks. I wanted to come to the hospital last week but got the word that you were in ICU and only family members were able to visit. Somehow, given your strength and youth, it never dawned on me that you might not bounce back this time. I wish I'd had an opportunity to say good-bye. You've been taken away from us far too soon. Life's twists and turns are often cruel, and my children know this already. However, I haven't yet found the words to even try to begin to explain it to She Who Was Over the Moon That You selected Her To Be In Your Company This Year... a.k.a. She Who Dreamed Ballerina Dreams Of Dancing Arabian with You Someday... she who doesn't understand things like this... because really, none of us do.

Rest in peace, dear Mr. A, knowing that the world is a little less bright without you in it, realizing that you were loved unconditionally by all those whose lives you touched, and that you will be remembered by each of us, not only for who you were, but for what you inspired.

With Great Respect and Affection,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

So why do I leave these stories unfinished?

Recently several folks have accused me of being "cryptic" in my writing, announcing, as though I ought to be concerned, that they don't really always know about what I'm talking. Yet, I notice that they keep stopping by, which tells me that even though these musings are not really start to finish stories, my words still draw emotion and create a connection.

I think it's an interesting concept, really. The underlying idea of someone saying that they don't know why I was sitting by a lake in the middle of the night seeking out swans or what it meant that my kingdom was shattered is that my life should be an open book or that, perhaps, I blog for others' amusement instead of for my own edification. There's an air of frustration about it on their part, I think, as if they might believe I somehow owe them more and are unclear as to why I would purposely leave them with more questions than answers.

Maybe it's simply because my stories are still unfinished, or maybe it's because I know how they will end but am not quite ready to share them, or maybe I'm just a tease like that, or maybe it's because I'm an intensely private person, maybe it's because for me, self-realizaation lies not in a 3.5 essay, but rather in random thoughts, or maybe, just maybe, it's because that which makes us wonder... question... contemplate... is that which is far more interesting and far more powerful than actually knowing.

And so I'll leave it at that and head off to stare at the world. The circus awaits.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Life and Death

When Princess Di died I was pregnant and living in D.C. It was a very emotional moment for me and I'm certain the hormones amplified that. Princess Di had inspired me for her benevolence and the grace and positivity with which she approached most everything. I went for a walk the following evening and somehow, though I swear not purposefully, ended up in front of the British Embassy. I was amazed by the amount of flowers and notes and outpouring of tangible love... but I didn't really get it. I did, indeed, pause for a reflective moment, acknowledging the loss of such an amazing woman, but I didn't feel the need to light a candle or place a posie fit for a princess.

That said, I don't understand the people milling about outside of Neverland Ranch, signing cards with gloved hands, leaving teddy bears and other trinkets there as well as in Indiana & on the Walk of Fame. I don't see how this helps one grieve or why folks feel the need to pay tribute in this way. Sure, my formative years happened in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, so trust you me, MJ was responsible for much of the soundtrack of my life during that time... though my tastes have clearly changed throughout the years.

It's hard not to feel sorry for MJ on some level, really, in that hs childhood was stripped from him and he never was able to get beyond that. As the years went on the stories surrounding his life became more and more bizarre and it was evident he suffered from O-D-D. His relationship with a number of children was suspect (my feelings on this are actually much stronger but I shall leave my thoughts about them out of this post). My guess is that his "heart attack" was probably the result of perscription drug abuse or, given that we are just weeks away from the planned comeback tour, I have to wonder about the timing of it all. We may never really know, and maybe it's better that way. I guess my point is that while the passing of anyone with whom we feel some sort of connection is sad, in my naievty, I just don't understand the whole cult following thing that seems to still exist and the over the top raw emotion exhibited by people who knew him only as he appeared in the public eye. In some ways I think his death is a blessing; for in death, Michael will finally find the peace he never had and likely never would have found in life.

In other news, Farrah, Jaclyn and Kate were my go to girls when I was a kid. What's not to like about smart, hot women who can kick some major ass? I wasn't allowed to watch much t.v., particularly anything violent, so after school I used to sneak into the sitting room behind my parents' bedroom to watch Charlie's Angels, the reruns of which came on at 4:00. My friends and I played hours worth of Jill Munroe, Kelly Garrett and Sabrina Duncan (I was always Kelly, of course, as I'm sure you all see the obvious resemblence!). We even had our own Bosley, much to the chagrin of my German Shepherd/Collie mix.

You know, Farrah wanted to die a quiet death with little attention focused on her last breath or funeral... and MJ's passing, I believe, has granted her that final wish by overshadowing the news. However, the incredible beauty this woman posessed in life and through sharing her journey towards the end of a life well lived with all who would open their eyes, their ears, and their hearts, can't be denied.

I won't be traveling anywhere to place flowers or the gift of a replica early-design cell phone the size of my head, but I will at least say: rest in peace, Angel.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swan Signs

In my kingdom there is a road that runs right next to the edge of a lake. Ever since moving here, each time I drive on that road I try to use extreme caution because in the back of my mind I realize that one false move, one small driver error, could have a devastating effect involving my royal chariot rolling into the drink.

I drove there purposefully last night and thought the usual thoughts though, admittedly, I struggled with the concept of extreme caution versus extreme recklessness. I parked and sat by the water's edge, listening to it lapping the shore. I watched and waited, wondering if the beautiful ambassadors of the lake would make their way over to me even in the dead of night. True to form, shortly after my arrival, the male swan glided effortlessly across the lake, his enormous wings standing proud and forming that familiar heart shape as if he was reminding me that where there is love, there is hope and with hope, all things are possible. The moment was fleeting. Once he ascertained that I wasn't much of a threat and didn't come bearing food, he decided to go back to his mate.

I gave that due consideration and, after a few minutes spent reflecting on the events of my day, I hopped back in the car and carefully navigated my way back home.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Results Driven

"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result."
~Mahatma Ghandi

I am not a no results kind of princess. I am strong and successful, sassy, confident and, yes, even quirky in a beautiful kind of way. I offer solutions, not problems, and I think outside the box... in fact, I think I might actually live outside the box.

Today's the day. I feel empowered. Today I will make the difficult decisions that will dictate the direction in which I need to go and how I need to get there. The motto "I will find a way or make one" was ingrained into my pea sized brain from an early age. There is, afterall, something to be said about strict all girls' schools that believe in developing smart, independent, young women. That single sentence has stuck with me for the past 3 decades as a defining principle for who I am and how I operate. Somehow, though, I let it slip away from me for a little while... but I remember now that often it is choice, not chance, that determines destiny. It's time to get back to basics.

So there. Now where the hell is my coffee mug.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Coffee Quirk

I admit it, I'm a little quirky... some find it endearing while others, I presume, find it thoroughly annoying.

This morning as I sat sipping coffee, I realized that I have a coffee quirk.

The M mug I had in hand is new and I love it. No, really, I LOVE it. It's the perfect size, shape and weight for a coffee mug. It has a flower-vine filled letter M on it (you know... for, ummmmm... your Majesty) but the best part is that inside of it are the words "love the moment". I think that applies to the way I live my life in general but the fact is, I always specifically love the moments when I have a good cup of coffee in hand.

I am not a caffeine addict by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I'm just as happy having decaf as I am full lead in the morning. For me, coffee is an experience that starts well before the first touch of coffee cup to lips. It's the sound of the coffee maker gurgling to life, the smell of fresh brewed java creeping up the staircase before I'm even out of bed. It's the beauty of the morning stillness through the picture window or from atop the deck, it's the quiet time I spend thinking about the day ahead.

I'm so invested in the coffee moment that no matter what, I have to have my first few sips of coffee out of a real, honest to goodness mug in the comfort of my kitchen. Even if I'm in a hurry and plan to take a travel mug with me, I still pour the coffee into a mug, savor the smell, taste and place, drink a little, then transfer it into the traveler. If I don't have time for that I will actually opt out of coffee from home... but might just stop at Starbucks... for apparently if someone else makes it, I'm OK with cardboard.

So yes, I am a little quirky when it comes to coffee drinking but I do, in fact, love the moment.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Not-So-Social Butterfly

I'm not much of a party girl. I think most people perceive me as highly social but the fact is that I have a few close friends with whom I enjoy doing things... dinners out, concerts, hanging out on decks or patio bars listening to music and chatting, etc. Beyond that, however, I don't really have any interest or need to be a part of the Suburban Party Circle.

That said, when the subject of how to celebrate my upcoming "big" birthday arose in various conversations from people in different arenas of my life, things got a wee bit touchy. I made it clear that there would be no surprise parties and that I would rather go away for a weekend & ride my pretty bike somewhere or get a new camera and spend a month documenting the important people and places in my life than have a big bash.

Suggestions were made... girls weekend, bike weekend, tattoo (yeah, really... I love my friends!), fly somewhere to see one of my favorite artists in concert, dinner parties, huge "invite everyone I know or have ever met" blow outs, fly to my hometown for a feast of local delicacies... so many options and different people wanting to do different things, so little time, and so little interest on the part of this not-so-social butterfly.

However, I understand their desire to celebrate in some fashion and so I was willing to compromise and plan a few little things here and there. The celebrations began last night in the form of a dinner party amongst some of my closest friends. I can honestly say I had an amazing time. We laughed harder than I've laughed in weeks and even shed a few tears when my most special friend made a toast that included details of different times we've shared throughout the years. She talked about the grace with which, at a young age, I dealt with my father's death, the strength and inspiration she derives from watching me fight an invisible demon, as well as about some of the more ridiculous predicaments we've found ourselves in throughout the past couple of decades, our former dating philosophy. the parade of vehicles we have owned, trips we've taken, how I was family before I was really family, that I am the one friend she can always count on to keep her grounded when she asks for advice and, above all, about the definition of unconditional love. She also is such a giver that she brought two photo albums full of pictures from our youth so everyone could marvel at our big 80s hair and remark upon the seemingly excessive amount of time we spent in bars and on boats. She gave me a stunning necklace and a bottle of Screw Kappa Napa wine. Have no idea if it's any good but it cracked us up from the bygone sorority rival days... we Thetas weren't too fond of Kappas... and we might have giggled a little when they got thrown off of campus. Ahhhhhh... how I miss the days when these sorts of things were the biggest concerns in our lives.

When my closest friends reach a milestone, I usually make a book for them. I take a well known children's book title, change it to relate to said friend, then write a silly, rhyming something or another related to the milestone and that somewhat mimics the children's book in question. As an added bonus, these books generally include the most horrid pictures of the "main characters" I can find. I, too, am a giver like that. Obviously. Let's see... there was SuzieQ and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fiance... Mary-locks and her Three Boys... If You Give a Fletch a Tequila Shot... and many, many more. Therefore, an announcement was made by one of the ladies that I really ought to have considered finding more creative friends since this sorry lot was unable to create the magic and didn't want me to have a "cheap" imitation (if you've ever seen one of my creations you'd realize how funny this is). Therefore, not wanting to leave me hanging, they bought me really cheeeeeeesey rhyming birthday cards instead. They were decidedly stupid and hilarious all at once. The cards that is, not the friends... ;o)

Later this week there will be a lunch, another dinner party, and a restaurant outing. There's a girls weekend planned with one of my favorite girls who was unable to be here for the festivities due to pregnancy-related travel restrictions. We intend to make up for it in a very big way.

Despite my hesitation for all the hooplah, I'll try to live in the moments and enjoy the company but, as the festivities die down, I'll be very happy to retreat back into my own time and space and just be me... a year older, a little wiser, a lot thankful for the friends I've chosen along the way, but no more social than before.

I haven't ruled out that tattoo yet, though.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


My kingdom was shattered into a million little pieces last night and I'm just not entirely sure which piece to pick up first or how to pick it up without its jagged edges reminding me, in a painful wash of crimson red, what a fool I've been, how fragile everything in life really is, and of the sheer and utter enormity of it all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

My father was in the Navy after he graduated from college. It was during the Korean war. My grandfather swore my dad never would have grown up had it not been for the Navy. Nice try, but he really never DID grow up, which was one of the magical things about him, one of the many reasons his children adored him, and why he was, indeed, the world's greatest pediatrician.

The flag from my dad's funeral is among my prized possessions.

My step-father, Charlie, is one of the most fascinating people on the planet. He is a psychologist by trade and has voluntarily devoted much of his free time to veterans' affairs. He testifies before Congress on a regular basis, is interviewed by CNN and other news organizations as an expert on WWII, POW/MIA/VA issues as well as post traumatic stress disorder. He is invited to the White House on a regular basis (but refused to go during our former president's last term) and was instrumental in pushing forward the WWII memorial in D.C. His passion for this work comes from the fact that he, himself, was a prisoner of war during WWII. He walks with difficulty, not because of his age, but because he was pushed off of a moving train by the Nazis. The stories he tells of how he survived in captivity keep you on the edge of your seat. He has every right to be a little bitter, but he is far from it. He is incrediby unassuming and defines a hero in my book.

So for my dad and for Charlie and the millions of men and women who have served or currently serve in our armed forces, enjoy your family, your friends and your freedom today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm Still That Mom

I'm that mom. You know, the one I've talked about before. The one that shows up to school events sweaty, in spandex, sporting pigtails and bandanas while the other moms show up in perfume, pearls and heels with perfectly coiffed hair. I'm the one that can't make it to Starbucks to hang out every week because I'm taking the peanut for a slog in the jogger, teaching spin, taking Strike or practicing yoga. I'm also that mom at the dance studio. I have even been known to go for a run on site between rehearsals and recitals, but I promise I clean up OK for the actual performances.

Between recitals on Sunday, Exhibit A took a nasty spill on the steps leading to the balcony. She had an impressive scrape, bump and bruise on her shin. She still had two recitals to go and I knew it had to have hurt. I gave her the appropriate amount of sympathy, told her not to take "break a leg" quite so literally, got a smile from her then wished her luck for the last shows of the weekend.

She danced like an angel the rest of the afternoon, with the passion and energy she always brings forth. She was on cloud 9 at her celebratory dinner out but once at home, I noticed that she was walking across the floor. Now this may not sound all that unusual, but it is important to understand that when The Prima moves from point A to point B, she typically throws in at least one twirl, leap, battement or chassé. I asked her how her leg was feeling and she stopped and looked right at me. She told me it was painful and that it had been during her performances. I told her one never would have guessed. She responded with the following statement:

"I got through it. I just thought to myself of all the times when you hurt so bad but you keep on going. You don't let it slow you down. You even ride your bike for a lot of miles and you never disappoint people that count on you for stuff."

And with that, she said goodnight, turned away and disappeared upstairs while I stood there utterly touched and utterly speechless.

So it seems that now, more than ever before, I am OK with being that mom.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Recital Highlights

It's funny how once upon a time I was the mother who dreaded having to sit through an entire recital when my kid was only a part of it for 5 minutes. Now I sit through six recitals and enjoy it more and more every year. I am easily annoyed and crankified by the people who leave right after their kid's performance. I secretly hope that some day their precious angel's number is last and she has to perform to a less than full auditorium. I can't help it. I am, afterall, an evil princess.

Speaking of princesses, Exhibit A performed flawlessly this weekend. There's not much else to say. I can't believe how far she's come in just a year and what a pleasure it is to see the passion and energy she puts into each show, coming home utterly spent but ready to get up and do it all over again the next day. She's beginning to do her own hair and make-up and, while in some ways this thrills me, in others it reminds me that I am seeing not only a physical transformation before my eyes but also a social and emotional one.

There were many highlights from this weekend, too many too count, but here are a few favorites:

It's always fun to watch the 3 & 4 year olds as they take to the stage for the very first time. They are unpredictable and you can usually count on at least one or two of them to just kinda stand there, bored to tears, looking at all the other little girls with a "WTF?" expression on their faces while the others dance around them. One kinderdance number, however, was absololutely priceless. Thse little itty bitty girls, all sassed out in sparkles and tutus, pill box hats and tap shoes danced their tiny hearts out to the song "Thank Heaven for Little Girls". Right before their last combination, the curtain opens and their fathers are standing there in suits/ties. All at once, the dads crouch down to catch their little girls with big hugs to end the number. Thank heaven, indeed.

During day 2, the pre-teen and teen acrobatics classes had to perform in every show (and they performed once on day 1). On day 2 they ditched the CD and had a live keyboardist/singer on stage with them. Incredible.

There are a few highly accomplished resident choreographers that teach at A's dance school. The companies peformed several of their most recent award winning pieces and they didn't disappoint.

The finale of each performance was a complete surprise to the kids. Little did they know, all of the instructors put together a little sump'n sump'n of their own. It was ridiculously funny yet still showcased what amazing talent they all have. They used the song Circus by Brit Brit and each dressed up as a caricature circus freak... errrr, I mean performer. Seeing Mrs. M, who has been teaching classical ballet for 30+ years doing some hip hop moves and the sprinkler was priceless. For the benefit of those of us who were at every show, they made it a little bit different every single time so we never knew exactly what to expect. The more times they did it, the more comical it became. By the end, the director of the school was tap dancing while hula hooping (around her neck, even) and the modern teacher who had been unable to be involved in recitals due to a back injury was wrapped in caution tape and wheeled out to the stage to take part in the hilarity. It was so much fun and, as you can imagine, the parents and kids alike were completely wow'ed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Random Thoughts...

1. Every little girl that dreams ballerina dreams is, truth be told, dreaming of pretty pink pointe shoes. Each time I see Exhibit A twirl on her toes I wonder if she realizes that, at just 11 years old, she's already living out one of her very first dreams.

2. In my not so very humble opinion, the end of the school year is far worse in terms of busy-ness, small details to remember and stress than the holly-daze season, and it's *almost* as expensive

3. Chocolate is not one of my favorite things... but it sure tastes damn good along side a glass of pinot noir.

4. Having struggled with the decision of whether or not to send Exhibit B to the fancy private school next year, I waited until the absolute last moment to turn in his acceptance and deposit, as in I hand-delivered it there on the due date and arrived 7 minutes before the school office closed. I had a nasty gnawing in my gut for days prior and it worsened on the way to the school to take the plunge. I walked in and handed over my money and paperwork. Turning away from the secretary I thought, for a moment, that I might actually vomit. However, as I walked over the threshold into the bright sunshine and peered out over the meadow a sense of relief and joy washed over me and, in that moment, I was more sure of that decision than I've been of anything in a long time.

5. In the never-ending quest to help Exhibit C gain weight, I am supposed to offer him all kinds of junky and fattening things. He drinks whole milk with heavy whipping cream and either dried whole milk (double the fat and calories) or Carnation Instant Breakfast mixed into to it. When I make him a grilled cheese, it has butter on both sides of the bread, I put butter on PB&J sammiches, anything cooked in Pam for the family gets a separate portion for him cooked in butter. Milkshakes? As many as he wants (only "bee-niwwa" from Chick-fil-A will do, he doesn't like homeade ones). That's OK, theirs have 800 calories in them... more if you do whipped cream, and the fact that I know this off the top of my head should give some indication of how much a part of life all of this is for me. I have special powder that's basically colorless, odorless, dried carbs and fat that gets added to many things. Hot dogs? You bet, the more calories and fat the better. You get the idea. Today I asked him what he wanted for breakfast and he said Apple Jacks. Sweet! Sugary cereal with double milk and cream on it. I was thrilled. As I started to pour the cereal he added "but I don't want any green ones...".

6. There is no item number six.

7. I believe that no matter what training I take on, what exercises I do, how many miles I ride, that I am only at my highest level of overall health and wellness if I practice yoga on a regular basis.

8. Speaking of miles, I miss riding my pretty bike. I've been sidelined a bit this year. I wish somebody would be my hero and have the patience to come charity ride with me and my neurologically disasterous body.

9. Zeke is 98 pounds of goofy black lab. His head is like a box of rocks... and he has... well, "issues"... you know, like he must physically be touching a human being at all times which, frankly, is not really all that convenient. That said, I am pretty sure my children could chew his ears until they bled, dress him up in Buzz Lightyear and Princess costumes all day long, and ride him like a pony and he'd just wag his tail and lick them. We should all be so fortunate as to take everything in stride, to love unconditionally when it's so well deserved, and be more than content with an encouraging word and a simple belly rub.

10. Change is interesting isn't it? Why is it that so many people fear it? Is it not a natural part of life? Often people do anything in their power to avoid it, sometimes even at the expense of their own happiness and fulfillment. I have trouble wrapping my tiaraed head around this. I am not afraid of change; in fact, often, I embrace it. We all change. Life is, indeed, about metamorphosis. I am a much wiser Cranky Princess than I was 10 years ago and I would never have evolved in this way had it not been for the many changes that have taken place in all arenas of my royal life. Now if I could just do something about the paparazzi...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I am...

... humbled. By people that ask for so little and appreciate so much.

... a sponge. A life long learner with a thirst for knowledge that I can't seem to quench.

... insightful. I can sum up people and situations, understand feelings, actions and driving forces, see red flags that are often invisible to the naked eye and predict the outcome of oh so many things.

... almost always right. It's not as much of a blessing as it might seem when it comes to the more unpleasant things in life, and I try hard to resist the urge to say "I told you so".

... saddened. By false promises and the inability some people have to make decisions and manage situations in ways that might hurt momentarily but ultimately are good and right.

... a workaholic. I do what I love and therefore love what I do.

... hopeful. That some day I will wake up and when I lie there as I do each morning, waiting for my body to tell me which part will ache or malfunction or die just a little that day, that the answer will be, once again, like it was in the beginning, a simple, yet resounding: none.

... unique. I see the world in a way I believe few are fortunate enough to experience and I help others lift themselves up to view it from my vantage point. I touch lives and leave indelible marks on hearts that I know are forever changed by my presence in them.

... secure. I question everything and anything yet I know with certainty who I am at my core, what I want, where I want to go, and with whom I want to go there.

... selfless yet selfish all at once. I figured out a long time ago that in order to give of myself, my time, my energy unto others, which I do so often and so freely, I had to first find my passion, follow my heart, create balance and experience my own brand of happiness.

... a dreamer. I still believe that there are so many possibilities and so very few impossibilities.

... a writer. Who knows the power of words and how it feels to touch somebody's soul with a few simple sentences.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Soccer Snooze

The temperature read 72 degrees but when we got to the soccer field the wind kicked in. Exhibit C, who is typically content to sit sidelined in his Spiderman chair or kick his ball around with the kids who are subbed out, was cold. He crawled up into my lap and I wrapped his jacket around him like a blanket as he curled up into a ball underneath it. I squeezed him tight against me. He wiggled around until he could get his thumb in his mouth, taking it out every now and again to tell me he loved me, ask me if I like Lego Star Wars or Indiana Jones better, or to encourage me to notice the foot he kept dangling out from underneath the jacket to tempt me into tickles. Instinctually, I started rocking him back and forth and, before long, I felt him melt into me and I knew he'd fallen asleep. As I sat there with a fierce wind blowing, whipping pollen into my eyes, sending a chill through me, I was struck by the thought that holding my contently sleeping child on my lap was a simple pleasure no matter in what time or place it happens, and that now that my children are older, it's a pleasure I will not be able to enjoy for much longer. Once again, though, I'm reminded that it's the little things in life that are our greatest gifts.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fluffy White Cat

The "Things That Make Me Happy Today" post mentioned both my father and my cat and my mind wandered back to a moment in time that was undeniably sad yet moving.

As I've mentioned before, my father died a slow and painful death, suffering with metastatic cancer for seven years. He wanted to die at home and when we got to the point where he was no longer able to walk or care for himself, we had round the clock hospice care to be sure his pain was managed appropriately as well as provide some respite for my family.

At the time, we had a big fluffy white cat who adored my dad. Every morning after making his rounds of the house, eating, bathing himself in the sunlight for a bit and doing a little stretching, the cat would meander up the stairs and down the hall to hop in bed with my dad where he would stay for the day. He would greet each visitor by walking to the end of the bed, receiving ridiculous amounts of pets, playing, and purring, and would then settle back down either right next to my dad, pressed up against him or, more often, perched on his chest.

One Thursday morning the cat made his rounds, walked into the bedroom to settle in for the day's events, hopped up on the bed, two paws on my father's chest, then he seemed to freeze for a few seconds, staring at my father. With a single, startled sounding meow, he quickly jumped back down to the floor. I scooped him up and put him back on the bed but the cat wanted no part of it. He squirmed away and headed to the doorway where he sat, smack in the middle, facing the bed as if trying to decide what to do. My father, no longer able to speak by then, followed the cat with his eyes, and seemed very confused. I smiled and shrugged, not sure what to make of it myself. Throughout the day the cat was highly agitated... pacing, meowing, not interested in food, toys or attention. He seemed to almost wince in pain when touched.

Aside from the cat's absence on the bed, the day went on as usual. Meds and visitors, errands to buy meds, groceries and offerings for the visitors. I even booked a little bit of ice time that day to help me decompress. You see, I was a competitive figure skater in my youth and, at 21, while watching my father die, I found that time on the ice with my thoughts and my speed was incredible therapy, I even hired a coach for a few months. To this day, when I need to think big thoughts, the ice feels like home to me, even more so than my bike, but don't tell a soul.

I took my big goofy dog out to a park where we played frisbee and he swam. My best friend came to visit and we sat and chatted. She peeked in on my dad, who never failed to light up when she entered the room. She asked him where "that crazy cat" was as she was immediately struck by his failure to appear for attention upon her arrival. My father smiled at her.

When I got into bed that night, the cat finally emerged. He got up next to me instead of curling up at the foot of my dad's bed. He never seemed to get comfortable, moving around a few times until settling in one spot, and he wasn't in a snuggly kind of mood. He didn't put his head down or sleep. He sat with his tail twitching every once in awhile and his ears perked up, eyes toward the long hallway that connected my room to the master bedroom.

I finally dozed off and, soon after, was awakened with the news that my father had died in his sleep. I ran down the hallway, which seemed 14 times longer than it had ever been. I kissed my father's forehead. I had never come face to face with death before and I remember to this day how very cold he was. I understood it logically yet I just didn't expect it and was caught completely off guard. I couldn't talk or breathe or even cry for what seemed like hours, though I know it was only moments that I stood there over him, frozen in my pain and wondering what the hell I was supposed to do next. The hospice nurse talked to me. I don't remember what she said but I remember knowing beyond all doubt that she was, indeed, an angel on earth. She led me over to the loveseat and asked if I wanted some tea which sounded wonderful yet completely preposterous all at once. As I sat, silent and alone, waiting and wondering, the cat walked past me as if I didn't exist and, without hesitation, hopped on the bed, curled up on my father's chest, lowered his head, closed his eyes and began to purr... a purr so loud I could hear it across the room, a purr so soothing I knew that the cat had known what the rest of us hadn't and had spent the day trying to tell us. His beloved human's pain was so immense, so overpowering, so disturbing that he simply couldn't get close to my dad... the cat knew that the end was near and needed that pain to be lifted in order to cozy up again.

And in that moment as the deafening silence was broken by the motoring purr of a fluffy white cat, I knew for sure, after all those years, that my father was finally at peace.

Things That Make Me Happy Today...

1. Exhibit B got accepted at the fancy private school. I don't know if he'll go or not, but it's nice to see his abilities recognized.

2. My father was the world's greatest pediatrician. I am angry at him for dying on me before I had children, each of whom he would have adored. However, he also had, as his closest friends, the rest of the world's really fabulous pediatric specialists. One of them called me yesterday post casual conversation with The Queen, asking for Exhibit C's records to be Fed Ex'ed next week so the head of a particularly appropriate pediatric specialty at a world reknown place could review them. Looks like I might be making a trip back home soon.

3. I'm going back to work today for a couple of hours and, believe it or not, that does, indeed, make me happy. Do what you love... love what you do.

4. In related news, I simply don't care anymore about a certain dramatic situation over which I have little control. I have spent entirely too much time and energy on it and, in the end, whatever will be will be. Deep down all involved know what is right and what should happen, but I hold out little hope that it will, and I have accepted that. If, by chance, it goes my way, I'll be over the moon happy. If it doesn't, as a wise friend told me, "it's money in the bank".

5. I realized yesterday morning that I should have been waking up in a different time zone... in a different space... in a different situation... doing something different... and as sad as I was not to be, I am happy that I recognize that, whether others appreciate it or not, I do have some pretty amazing qualities, including a hell of a lot of inner strength, the ability to remain positive in the face of adversity, an undeniable impact on the people who I choose to let get close to me, a strong sense of justice, the ability to show love and appreciation to the people that add value to my life, and a stubborn independence that might make a few people a little crazy but, at the end of the day, they respect me for it.

6. Over the weekend I reconnected with someone who I've not heard from in almost 2 years. I've missed our friendship greatly for many reasons, not the least of which is that he always understood that there is no item number 6.

7. I feel blessed that I have the ability to express my feelings in words, both spoken and written. No one ever has to wonder where they stand with me... and I think that's a good thing.

8. Spring break makes me happy even when I'm not on some fabulous vacation. I love that the kids can sleep in and that life is not ruled by "the schedule" for a little while. I couldn't live that way all the time, but I appreciate the ease of it today.

9. We're making s'mores for dessert tonight. That's just pure happiness inside a graham cracker sammich.

10. This morning The Wonder Cat was missing. Last I saw he was curled up with me when I wasn't feeling so hot last night. He gets it. He's an indoor cat but every once in a great while he sneaks out with the pooches. He's sneaky like that. He doesn't have front claws, has absolutely no fear of anyone or anything, including large dogs, and we have coyotes in our neighborhood that think cats are a tasty treat. It was cold and windy and I knew if he'd gotten out & been OK, he would have been waiting at the door this morning, but there was no sign of him, which was worrisome. However, I should probably mention that, like Big Dumb Dog, he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He's also ridiculously clumsy. Apparently, he did get out last night and somehow got himself trapped under the deck stairs. So I'm happy that, as I type, I have a purring kitty sound asleep in my lap.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Trek Women Who Ride

Once again I entered the Trek Women Who Ride contest. Once again, I wasn't selected. I suppose I could play the sick card... that combined with my writing style would probably take me pretty far in the process... but I'm just not willing to go that route. At any rate, I give you my answer to the question: Why Do You Ride?

Few machines have changed so fundamentally little in the last century as bicycles. I like to think that's because those of us who ride understand that there's no better pace at which to watch the world go by, and no better place from which to watch it, than from the seat of a bicycle.

I ride for many reasons. One is that spending time in my saddle at that perfect pace has taught me that cycling is empowering. I'm awed by the mind-body-bike connection and the satisfaction of moving forward under my own steam. Whether it's a sixty minute ride or a sixty mile ride, in it, I find joy and freedom.

I bought my first Trek a few years ago at the urging of some participants in my indoor cycling classes. It was love at first pedal stroke. I discovered that cycling is a great equalizer. People of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can transcend whatever their perceived obstacles may be and roll beyond them, both literally and figuratively, from atop a bike. Riding has sparked my determination to overcome physical limitations and awakened my inner athlete. It's transformed my body while providing hours of enjoyment and a new found sense of self. Cycling has given me the confidence to take on challenges I once thought were beyond me, like century rides and multisport, and allowed me to experience a whole new range of emotions stirred by a finish line crossing.

Be it in the quiet solitude of an early morning ride, the camaraderie of a pack, or the thrill of riding a triathlon bike leg, cycling is a sport like no other. One of my favorite things about biking is that it is unifying and inclusive in that both the mentor and the mentored, the novice and the pro, can, more or less, ride together, side by side, and learn from one another.

I ride because when I get on my bike, I move into another realm where I can escape the stresses of daily living, or perhaps simply reflect upon them. I ride because when I get off my bike, I feel a sense of peace and accomplishment. I ride because I want to be a good role model to my three children who are learning that it is important not only to be strong, independent and active, but also to find your passion and hold tightly to it. I ride because doing so enables me to inspire others by bringing them along on my journey.

Mostly, though, I ride because the allure of the bicycle is that while it may have stayed the same for a hundred years, and it may stay fundamentally the same for a hundred more, no one who rides can help but be changed. Cycling thousands of miles has forever changed my life.

I am, indeed, a woman who rides, and I welcome the opportunity to share my contagious enthusiasm for the sport I love.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Achieving World Peace

Whoever thought of making bread pudding out of Krispy Kreme doughnuts deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. Seriously, just think of the gaps that could be bridged over that bit of sinfulness.

Friday, March 20, 2009

LTFU, America

I rarely watch t.v., but last night, when I couldn't fall asleep, I decided to flip through the channels and was surprised to see President Obama on with Jay Leno. Again, I state for the record, I didn't like any of my choices in this election so it's not as if I'm a staunch Obama supporter. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. I think he has a genuineness about him that's unique and he is usually an eloquent speaker. Last night I felt like he was just hanging out, being him. He answered the tough questions in layman's terms so that the everyday joes and joannes like me could understand it. I actually laughed out loud several times during the interview. I thought the part about the puppy was pretty cute.

I have devoted the past two decades of my life to helping children with special needs. Tirelessly advocating for them both individually and collectively, I pride myself on my ability to obtain the services they and their families need and deserve and to make sure school systems are following through to the letter of the law. I've worked hard at educating people to use "people first" language so as not to define others by their disabilities... and, further, have encouraged the use of the term "differently abled" instead of "disabled" for obvious reasons. I am the mother of a child with special needs. His issues fall more into the mild realm, but my clients range from mildly to profoundly involved.

I am the person who if someone uses the word "retarded" cringes and he/she gets an earful. The truth is, though, I watched Obama talk about his bowling ability and I actually didn't even catch what it was he said to Leno. Once I started hearing the public outcry read that he made a reference to the Special Olympics, I still wasn't offended. He was making fun of himself and meant no disrespect. Was it a good choice of words? No. Was it horrific? Well, seems to me I'm easily offended by that sort of thing and I wasn't.

I am also confused about why people are so critical of his decision to go on Leno. I actually think it's brilliant on so many levels. Why should he stop trying to connect with people and deliver his message or market his ideas simply because the election is over? Have we forgotten that our president is, at the end of the day a figurehead in a lot of ways? Do we not have a system of checks and balances for a reason? Should we try to make all presidents the same? Should they all do the same thing? Be the same man? Seems to me that if we keep on doing what we've been doing, we'll keep on getting what we've got, and for me, personally, that is unacceptable. I embrace out of the box thinking by all people, including the president of the United States. This is not about Democrats or Republicans or He Said/She Said. It's about rebuilding a country that needs rebuilding. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you are blessed beyond words to have not been affected... yet.

So to those of you who are appalled by the president's appearance on Leno I say... seriously? Lighten the fuck up America, we have bigger fish to fry.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This, That and The Other

So many thoughts, so little time to write.

I like to be in control. I'm a charge taker. Now this is no secret to anyone who knows me and it's not as if I didn't already know this about myself, but what I've realized lately is that I actually miss having a "real" job. Sure, I love my business and I love what I do for my endurance program and cycle gig... but that's different. I get a certain thrill out of the day to day problem solving, number crunching, people managing stuff involved in running a successful business. It would probably be different if I had to work or if I had to have set hours, but I don't and so, for now, I'm entertaining the possibility.

I have sunk to new lows. I actually watched the tail end of The Bachelor the other night while I was doing my nightly routine of writhing around in excruciating pain. For the record? I'm all for a sensitive man... but seriously? What a freakin' crybaby.

Speaking of babies, my oldest "baby" came home from dance on Cloud 9 last night. She has been "approved" for pointe. She is bursting with excitement. Regardless of how I feel healthwise, today we will be very ceremoniously purchasing her first pair of pointe shoes. This is a huge deal in the life of a dancer. We got a long letter from two of her ballet teachers. My favorite part? "She will have her first day of pointe class on Tuesday, March 17th. Please plan to join us for this special event where she will learn to put the shoes on, tie the ribbons, go up on pointe and learn how to smile while she is in pain. Bring your camera and your encouragement, it is a day to remember."

I guess it runs in the family.

Monday, February 23, 2009


You know... it's interesting. People tell me sometimes that I am "inspiring" or "amazing". I scoff at those words because really, I am just me. The things that actually define me at my core have nothing to do with the fact that I have an incurable illness... and now it appears a neurological disease, also incurable, 'cause that's just how I roll.

Today, however, a friend for whom I have great admiration, used the word "courage" in reference to me, and I decided it fits, though not in the typical heroic or poetic sort of way.

It's more about finding the strength to do what needs doing while trying not to care about insignificant things like toys on the floor or laundry that needs folding. It's about getting out of bed in the morning and facing the litany of symptoms and suffering instead of wallowing in them. It's about showing up wherever I'm supposed to with a smile on my face, pretending to feel good and pain-free all the while looking like death warmed over, ignoring the whispers and even making jokes about the "you look horrible" comments. It's about not allowing self-pity to exist even when the pity party people show up on a daily basis. It's about finding the strength to keep on fighting even when I know for sure it would be easier physically and emotionally to curl up in a ball for awhile.

None of those things is really all that incredible... but I think each of them requires a certain amount of that everyday kind of courage we all have to call upon from time to time. I, however, have to keep it on speed dial these days.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Power of Friendship

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
~Henri Nouwen

I believe that friends come and go and that each one enriches our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I came across this quote earlier and immediately thought about one of my "lifers". While I have many friends, she's the one who has been a constant in my life for over two decades, and when I think back to the times when I've felt powerless, I realize that she has always been present in those moments.

We met in college as sorority pledges. We clicked instantly and soon realized we had a class in common. We spent the semester hanging out together both on and off campus, completing sociology assignments and projects collectively... and finding out that we had very similar interests, taste in music and clothes, ideas and goals. Eventually we became roommates in our junior and senior years of college as well as after graduation.

When I was twenty-one I watched my father die a slow and painful death. Many days, K came with me to visit him so I didn't have to go alone. She never really knew my dad prior to that time and he was often unable to speak, but she would engage him and elicit his smile every single time. She would take stock of the fridge and pantry and slip out to the grocery store for us. She made tea... lots and lots of tea. On the night he died, she was the friend I called at 3:00 in the morning to tell. She cried with me on the phone. She didn't say much of anything because there was nothing to be said... but she was there, present in my powerlessness. She also made phone calls to several family friends to tell them the news and about the funeral arrangements. Years later she told me that was one of the hardest things she ever had to do, but she did it anyway.

We've held each other's hands and hearts through deaths of family members, friends, and even dreams. We've seen each other through family crisis, childbirth, medical emergencies and scary illnesses. There have been times when we've waited on news together, nervously sipping tea, listening to the deafening silence until the phone rings. We've been each other's biggest cheerleaders for races, contests, job hunts, parenting, and so much more. We've bent our ears countless times when the conversation opener is "get this" or "I don't know what to do". I simply can't imagine K not being my go to girl. She is the godmother of my first born and, in my will, is named the legal guradian of my children. I suppose that would render her present in the ultimate moment of powerlessness.

Of course there are endless happy memories ranging from beer slides to vacations to girls' nights out and parties. In the summertime we sit by her pool and drink margaritas while reading trashy magazines. We can go for hours without saying a word to each other yet walk away feeling as though it was the best day ever simply because we had the opportunity to just be.

After we graduated from college, K lived in many different cities. In fact, for most of our friendship, we've lived apart, which is proof positive that physical presence is not the most important part of true friendship. That said, you can imagine how overwhelmingly happy we were when, three years ago, not so coincidentally, she moved a town away from me.

The other day I had to tell K about my most recent serious medical struggle at a time when she, herself, is facing a severe back problem as well as some family issues. It was the first time I can ever remember both of us being the walking wounded at the same time and that neither one of us could do the other a damn bit of tangible good to help ease our situations. The thing is, though, that it is an excellent reminder that it's really not the physical acts of kindness that define friendship. If she still lived elsewhere, I'd still call her first each day with my health update and to seek hers. I'd still text her the thoughts that really go through my head instead of the cleaned up and coherent ones I save for the general public. I'd still be able to laugh at us sharing our stories of our recent "break-ups" with our respective doctors and simultaneously yelling into the phone "you can't ever go back!", a mantra we had in college with regard to dumping boyfriends.

So it seems that K and I are both powerless in our situations now and powerless to physically help one another through with the usual gifts of meals or childcare or wine and chocolate. However, the love and support we extend to each other on a daily basis magnifies a thousand fold in times like this. I can't give her advice or solutions or a cure, nor can she give those things to me... but I can be present for her, as she is me, and, at the end of the day, that's really what the power of friendship is about.

That, and sharing a good cup of tea.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Value Added Friendships

I feel like writing but my thoughts are random and disjointed right now so I'll just go for a stream of consciousness post today.

I've been pretty seriously ill lately and it's a great reminder of how wonderful my friends are. At the end of the day, I have a roof over my head, plenty to eat, an amazing family and great circle of friends. I am truly blessed despite my medical demons. I have known for a long time that life is neither fair nor equal and I am at peace with my situation. We all have crosses to bear and the best we can hope for is that we can learn from both our individual and common experiences.

That said, I am exceedingly sad for and disappointed in people who can't be bothered with extending even a single kind word to me, and therefore, I would assume, act the same way towards others with whom they come in contact. I've done nothing to anger these folks or warrant this behavior. I honestly believe people like this don't even realize how selfishly they are perceived by others who aren't like that. However, the tragedy of it is that they have no idea how much joy they are missing. The ability to bring sunshine to someone's life is a gift that ought to be experienced time and time again by each one of us.

It's probably silly and childish on my part but, frankly, it bugs the snot out of me. I'm not making much sense without being specific. One very minor example comes to mind. Let's just say that you have been feeling so sick that lifting your head off the pillow in the morning is a major accomplishment and that days on which you actually are up and about and trying to find a sense of normalcy for a few hours no matter how bad you feel seems like a major victory. Now let's say you knew many people who raced over the weekend. Despite feeling crappy, you made the effort to look at each one of their results and extend a congratulatory message. Now let's say that of that group only one seventh of them had the decency to respond with a "thanks". Do you know that it takes less than two seconds to write that word and less time to utter it?


Unfortunately, it's a pattern of behavior for many and I am a believer that, with few exceptions, people don't change. The problem here is, in fact, not with other people, but with me. I have accepted it. I've sometimes allowed myself to be treated in ways that I'm not really OK with. Obviously the example above in isolation is not a deal breaker, and you certainly can't mandate manners, but I find that frequently little things like this are very telling of the thoughtfulness and respect, or lack thereof, people have towards others. There is an air of self-absorbedness there that is completely foregin to me and the truth is that I don't ever want to be like that and I don't ever want to become so immune to it that I think it's just dandy to treat others as such.

Up until now I've just sort of shrugged off some things as "they are what they are" situations and, truth be told, the actions of people beyond my inner circle have little effect on my life; however, right now, in the midst of phsycially suffering through each day with not much to lift my spirits other than the kindness of others, I have realized that it's time to cut the dead weight. People who do not add value to my life are no longer welcome in it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hearts and Flowers

I think the notion of romance is interesting. We each have our own definition of it, yet there are certain acts that are deemed romantic on a more universal level. Lately I've been thinking about why that is.

I can't define romance for myself, but I can pinpoint some very romantic moments in my life. I've been proposed to, and while wonderful, exciting, and absolutely breath-taking, I can't actually say it was the single most romantic thing I've ever experienced. Don't worry, though, Prince Charming would actually agree with me on this point, so this won't come as news to him.

I'm not sure I even know what my most romantic moment to date is. There are several that stick out in my mind. I was going to write that romance often had to do with planning but, upon further consideration, I don't believe that's the end all be all, either. Often, spontaneous remarks or acts are incredibly romantic. So, is universally recognized romance the result of a declaration? Passion? Thoughtfulness? Maybe it's all of those things, but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that one of the key ingredients to romance is the element of surprise. It's catching someone off guard by doing something that's completely unexpected, and maybe even just a little out of character. Roses on Valentine's Day? Cliche, no thank you. Roses on September 3rd "just because"? Much bigger bang for your buck, though, frankly, this princess doesn't like receiving things that die. I'd rather have something pretty and full of lycra and spandex... and I believe that knowing someone intimately enough to know a fact like that plays into romance, too.

When I was in college, I met a boy who I believe was fairly confident in the "women want me" category. He definitely didn't seem particularly commitment-minded and, while there were many girls he hung out with, I didn't know him to have a girlfriend. In his defense, he was very attractive and had a knack for making girls giggle. However, many of my laughs, at least initially, came at those girls' expense as I watched them throw themselves at him in the hopes that he'd glance in their direction from time to time.

As time went by, he and I spent more time together. The truth is, though I never anticipated our shenanigans would lead to anything more, I ultimately enjoyed his company very much. He was a really good guy, and I saw through all of the typical college dude bravado. He was smart and had a depth to him that was incredibly hard to come by among the men I knew at school. I appreciated the fact that on Thursday nights out at the bars, no matter what cute-but-sloppy-drunk girl was hanging on him at the end of the night, he still made sure that I had a safe way home with our friends, the shuttle or, sometimes, his car.

One night, I said my good-byes and headed out a little earlier than the rest of my crew. I walked across the street to the campus shuttle stop and waited by a huge light pole that sat atop a waist-high concrete block. Shortly after, the boy in question appeared. He said nothing but picked me up so that I was standing above him on the concrete because, in his words, I deserved to be "placed on a pedestal". He proceeded to explain that he wanted to go out on a date with me, a real date, not the usual talk to me over the music and buzz of the campus bars... and then go on more dates. He wanted to meet my mother. He wanted tuxedos and black cocktail dresses, fancy dinners as well as quiet nights with pizza and wine, trips to the zoo because he knew I loved animals, he wanted to see me ice skate, to go on a road trip together, to hang out at Great Falls... and so much more.

Needless to say my first thought was "what in the hell have you been drinking?" (I confess, it is possible that, through the grace of connections with bouncers and incredibly awful fake IDs, we had indulged in a cocktail. Or two. Or thirty.), but I refrained from saying it out loud. However, as his words started to sink in, and I determined there was a level of sincerity there, that there was a shred of truth to it all, I realized how unbelievably romantic the whole scene was. It was totally unexpected, completely out of character for him, as far as I knew, though he would ultimately prove me wrong on that, and every single thing he said showed me how much about me he actually knew and understood. He had listened.

Hook. Line. Sinker.

He became a fixture in my life for quite awhile after that night; our time together ebbed and flowed, but there was a connection there, even when we went through periods of little contact. Eventually, he graduated and moved to New York, while I was still in school. Once there, he continued with occasional romantic gestures, including "just because" notes, cards, phone calls and even flowers. Once, he drove to Maryland from NYC, arriving at 1 a.m. to surprise me so we could hang out for a little while. Literally... a little while... like a couple of hours. I was outside playing lacrosse on fraternity row when he arrived (what else would I be doing in the middle of the night on a Friday in college?!). I heard him calling my name from across the green. In my head, that moment plays out in slow motion as I dropped my stick and ran to hug him.

Eventually, he settled into his life in NY and I mine in DC, and, as it does, the universe dealt each of us the hand it was supposed to. Fortunately, I've experienced many amazingly romantic things in the years since that night on a lamp post in front of the 7-11, but this one still stands out as my earliest recollection of something so unexpectedly touching.

And so it seems that I have not yet solved the mystery of defining romance, but I do know how to recognize and appreciate it in the moment.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Solo

I vowed I would never sleep in a parking lot in order to enroll my child in preschool. I always felt that was rather ridiculous. As a former teacher, I know what's truly important in those preschool years and there are a whole lot of places, including my family room, in which that type of learning can take place. I found perfect preschools for all three of them and never once stood in line to register.

I must confess, however, that this year will mark the first year in many that we will not sleep in a parking lot to register Exhibit A for Mrs. M's dance class. Mrs. M has been teaching ballet for thirty years. Her philosophy is that she builds little girls, and then she builds dancers. For the little ones, each of her classes starts with circle time. Eventually, this evolves into "girl talk". Don't tell the dancers, but it's really the same thing, they just feel more grown up about not sitting in an actual circle. She asks each little lady to share something special with her... something about her day, a success she's had at school or elsewhere, a special treasure she's brought with her to share with Mrs. M. As she converses with each of them individually, she makes them mindful of their manners, asks them to speak up and use good eye contact and models active listening. She teaches them early on to thank her for the class before they leave and to extend that courtesy to all of their teachers... and the world beyond. She thanks them, too, for their enthusiasm, a job well done, for loving to dance.

The day after my friend's daughter's first class with Mrs. M, she woke up and made her bed because Mrs. M told her class that it's good to help mommies. She was three at the time and now, at 6, has made her bed every single day since then.

When Exhibit A struggled with some body image issues I talked to her but could tell she thought I was just giving the required mom speech. I enlisted the help of a gal pal who Exhibit A adores and who, coincidentally, was a dancer, and I asked our pediatrician to mention it in passing at Exhibit A's check up. It wasn't a huge deal. It was a few tears shed over a comment someone made that was benign, but she misunderstood it. However, I don't ever want body image issues to rule her life and I felt very strongly that I wanted to nip it as soon as possible. I still felt, though, that Exhibit A wasn't really internalizing all the things we were saying, so the thought occurred to me: call Mrs. M.

"Mrs. M... I am struggling with something and I was wondering if you could help me. I know you've probably dealt with this many times with some of the older girls..." and I went on to explain.

Her response? "Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I'll handle it."

And she did. I don't know exactly how, though I have a general idea... I don't know when... but it became a non-issue.

Mrs. M is so popular that getting into one of her open school classes requires careful planning and a willingness to brave the elements. Registration is held at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. People start lining up Friday afternoon. The line winds around the building and then some. People bring movies, snacks, cards, grills, coolers and settle in for the night. The kids love it. The parents complain bitterly, but you bet your sweet bippy they wouldn't miss it. At 6 a.m., Mrs. M shows up with donuts, for she knows that the crowd is there for her and, in all her humble graciousness, she wants to thank them for their love and support.

This year marked Exhibit A's first year in company and, as such, we will forego open school registration. She'll simply audition her way back into whichever companies wish to have her. I can't say that I'll miss the parking lot experience, but it does feel somewhat like the end of an era.

As I mentioned in "The Smile", it was recently parent watch day at each one of the seven classes Exhibit A takes. While most teachers just show you what happens in their classes on a weekly basis, Mrs. M approaches things a little differently once the girls make it into company.

At the beginning of the year, she informs them that they are to select a 3 minute piece of music and choreograph a dance to it. They are to find their own costumes and practice their dance until their feet feel like they might just fall off... for she will be requiring that they do their first ever solo and they will have no direction from her. They are to take the knowledge they've gained from her and other teachers throughout the years and shine.

Exhibit A asked me to burn a CD for her. That's the only thing I ever heard or saw of this endeavor until last week.

At parent watch day, which for Mrs. M took place over two consecutive classes in order to have enough time, each dancer performed her solo that was 5 months in the making. Parents and special friends were invited, and the girls' company big sisters came out in force to support the girls. Each one performed her dance and then Mrs. M provided feedback of her own before asking the dancer's parents and big sister to comment, then other company members were invited to to chime in with their thoughts.

Exhibit A is not the nervous type. She took the stage with the confidence that I've grown accustomed to over the years. She smiled and announced her name, age, school and provided the title and composer of her piece of music and then, she began to dance. I was awestruck. In my wildest dreams I never imagined it would have looked the way it did. I couldn't believe that she had choreographed and rehearsed this alone, in her room, in between dance classes, flute practice and maybe even doing some homework. I had, of course, known that she had come far as a dancer, but that was under the direction and choreography of her teachers, in their classes, on their stages... a far cry from "find music, create a dance, dance". It was beautiful and inspiring. Afterwards, Mrs. M told Exhibit A how proud she was of her. Exhibit A was the only dancer about whom there was no constructive criticism, just a long list of positives about the use of space, making her movements match the tempo, and owning the stage. Her big sister's comment was that even though the music was repetitive, Exhibit A chose different choreography for each refrain to keep it interesting. I was so proud I thought I might pop. My comments reflected that. Immediately afterwards, Exhibit A asked me to burn a song onto a CD for her. She's already starting to work on next year's dance.

The solo was an important moment in her development as a dancer. For me, though, it was an opportunity to see that my child not only has a passion, but also a gift.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Vault

Last summer I went to see HeWhoKnowsAllThingsAboutBikes (HWKA) for a fitting. I didn't like the way my new frame was feeling and asked him to take a look. As I wis sitting in the saddle, just pedaling away, he posed this question: "I don't know anything about (insert name of incurable illness here). Can you explain how it affects you?"

Dumbstruck, I smiled and, once I could utter something that sounded sort of like speech, I thanked him for being so direct. It's very rare that someone is. This doesn't mean I found it even a little bit appropriate, but I still appreciate the fact that he wanted to know the real deal instead of relying on he said/she said or filling in the blanks with intrawebz mumbo jumbo.

I went on to explain it to him in a matter of fact sort of way and, in the end, he talked to me about some related things and it was a good and meaningful discussion. No harm, no foul, but I'd be lying if I said my blood wasn't boiling at the thought that someone betrayed my trust and felt the need to share such private information of mine with him. I operate on a need to know basis. It doesn't affect him. It's not really any of his business. I don't train with him, so there's no chance I'm going to have to bail on him when my health is compromised, I don't have to rely on him for childcare or carpools... so in my book, he doesn't fall into the need to know category. Don't get me wrong. I *heart* HWKA and consider him my friend, but I have lots of friends whose friendships are such that it is simply a non-issue and, therefore, I treat it exactly that way.

My dearest friends understand that this is something I hold close because I never, ever want to be defined by a medical condition. It is an unwritten rule that if it is to be shared and discussed, I am the one making the disclosure and engaging in the dialog, for this is not something I want tossed around amongst the PTA moms in their hushed "how sad" tones, and I certainly don't want to hear rumors about myself amonsgst the people with whom I work. I am not naive, and I understand human nature, but I'm ever hopeful that the people in the outskirts of my world can respect me enough to rise above that, for I've seen firsthand that the ones who care most about me can.

I do not begrudge my disease. In fact, I am thankful for it. I know that sounds rather ridiculous and maybe even a little trite, but a long time ago I had to accept it as absolutely perfect. For in not doing so was to accept defeat and resign myself to a life of "what could have beens" instead of "what will bes". I had to learn to redefine "normal", and living with it has, in some respects, made me learn how to live. I am reminded on a daily basis that life is too short to be angry, petty or to harbor resentment. I'm reminded to love without limits, tell people how I feel, live without regrets, find my passion, and appreciate the little things in life. I do not get caught up in negativity, gossip or drama, for I have learned that when there is a limited amount of energy, wasting it on other people doesn't make any sense... not that it ever really does, but, sadly, many people don't understand that. Instead, I try to spend time every single day doing something for others, be it a planned act of volunteerism or a random act of kindness. I've learned never to take myself too seriously and that laughter is not only life's loveliest music, but also the greatest medicine there is.

My circumstances have made me a better friend than I might otherwise have been. My circle is my rock. They have taught me what unconditional really means. We can laugh and cry and finish one another's sentences all, seemingly, at once. I have earned two nicknames amongst these women. One is "Peanut"... as in no comments from the peanut gallery. I guess my condition has allowed me to break down some walls and say exactly what's on my mind. I earned that one when my friends realized that I was gonna call 'em out when they were f*cking up whether they liked it or not. They also call me "The Vault". I am the friend that you can trust with anything. I'll never tell. This is not always easy for me because Peanut wants to yell out RED FLAG! RED FLAG! in public sometimes, but The Vault never will... instead I'll save it for private moments such as "Can I get you a red flag? Erm... I mean some red wine?". It's pretty simple, really. I believe if someone tells you something in confidence, you keep it to yourself. If you read closely above, you may recall I don't do gossip or drama. I am fiercely protective of my family and friends. I want... need... them to be protective of me so that I am not at the center of soccer mom chit chat, so I'm not caught off guard while simply trying to get a bike fit, or so I can continue on with the success I've found in a profession that I never knew I would actually enjoy so much.

My point is this... I wouldn't wish my condition on anyone... but the lessons I've learned from it have been invaluable. I don't define myself by this single aspect of my being and I wish others would learn to be The Vault and appreciate my desire to live as normal a life as possible. I don't want to be labeled "the sick chick" and, while I want to inspire others, I want it to be because I write something that touches them, or because I do something admirable, not because my body wants to rebel against the SOP and it makes for good coffee talk. I guess it comes down to the fact that I know the me that is at my core, the me that has nothing to do with doctors and medicine, the me that others sometimes miss because they are so focused on giving an illness a life of it's own, the me that's... well, just cranky, sassy, silly ol' me.