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.