This photo was taken almost 4 years ago, and although its true that memories fade, and although you can't see my face in the picture, I'm pretty sure I was smiling. The dirt alone was enough to make a person cry, for heaven's sake, never mind the blisters, but I was grinning from ear to ear. I took this picture of my feet on the second day of the Boston 3-Day For the Cure, a 60-mile walk aimed at raising money and awareness to combat breast cancer. This was the first weekend in August, 2007 and it was 104 degrees. I don't think anyone's feet were made to sweat that much - so, yup - we got blisters - and heat rash - and sun burn. But no one that I encountered over those three days - and there were about 2,000 of us - no one, was whining. Why? Because the people of "The 3-Day" are a rising tide that inspires and lifts us all. I had never before been around that many strong, selfless, gracious and determined human beings in one place. The spirit of The 3-Day is infectious and I hope this blog will continue its spread. Maybe by talking about what I go through to fundraise and train for a 3-Day event, I can help people stay motivated and committed. I am proud to be associated with this cause. I am grateful I have the strength to walk. And I'm filled with joy that I can do it with such a great group of people. So I'll buck up and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to join me. But remember; no whining allowed!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Climb Every Mountain

Over Father's Day weekend, my husband participated in the Mount Washington Road Race. It is a 7.6 mile climb (they call it a run but when the slope exceeds 20 percent, I think it's fair to say it's a climb) and while some people manage to finish the race running, others are happy to walk or crawl as the case may be. If you are not familiar with Mount Washington, it is the highest point in the northeast at 6,288 feet and is known for having pretty much the worst weather in the world. The highest temperature ever recorded there was only 72 degrees and the average annual snowfall is 256 inches. The strongest wind measured on the mountain exceeded 230 miles per hour and fog is reported about 300 days out of every year. The race has been around for 50 years and running it has sort of been on my husband's "bucket list" for a while. I'm glad to have it behind him, although he says he'd like to sign up again, train harder and do better. I think he's nuts and am just thrilled he completed it without injury or ailment. I keep telling him he has plenty to be proud of to have simply finished. (Any of this sound familiar?!)

Anyway, while he was off with the guys racing around the wilds of New Hampshire, I was back home in little Rhody, elevation 20, and I attempted to take the boys to the beach on Sunday. The fog rolled in so thick along the coast that the lifeguards wouldn't let children in the water because they couldn't see them well enough to keep them safe. We gave up and went home.

I went for a walk later on and realized how much I like walking in the fog. You can only see a short way ahead so the distance you still have to travel doesn't come across like this infinite, unattainable course. You're just going so far as you can see and then doing that again. Walkers who are experienced with The 3 Day are always quick to point out that it's not a death march situation. Its just a whole bunch of little walks strung together, connected by pit stops, Grab and Go's and a mid-day meal. It is sound advice to think of it that way. Anyone can do three miles. As my dad would say, "You can stand on your head and gargle peanut butter for three miles." Then you take a break; eat a banana, drink some water, stretch; and do it again. Just go to where the fog thickens and see how it looks. Take a break. Try to see what lies beyond. You can walk that far.

The motto of the Mount Washington Road Race is "Only one hill." (Not - "The whole thing is one giant, wicked intimidating big-a** MOUNTAIN that will make you puke and pant and limp!!" Just, "Only one hill." ) You can do that.

If you are having trouble training for The 3 Day because you can't find a way to crow-bar those 15 or 18 miles into your schedule, remember not to take the "60 miles" part of it so seriously. If the big number is intimidating, break it down; spread it out; carve it up. Maybe think of it as 20 three mile walks; or 12 five mile walks; whatever your most comfortable training increment is. Once you start tackling those small, measurable goals, you'll start to feel the vastness of the 60 mile gap start to close. And Mount Washington will start to look like just a hill.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Took a few days off

Sorry for the delay in blog entries but I have been away from technology for a few days. Went camping in the wilds of western Rhode Island with the cub scouts over the weekend. I take back every bad thing I've ever said about porta-potties. I was begging for one by Saturday night. The "primitive facilities" at Camp Rah Rah Aquapaug left a lot to be desired. Since there is absolutely no way to politely describe the conditions, I will leave it at that. But I will add that notwithstanding the lack of luxurious restroom accommodations, parents and kids all had a blast on the trip!

When I returned from camping and had scrubbed off all the filth and aired out all the wet gear, I fired up the computer. There in the In-Box was my virtual personal trainer e-mail from the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure indicating the 6 (yes, six!) weeks away mark! It seems a little like this year's walk has sneaked up on me. Maybe because I walked so late last year - in Atlanta in October. And this year, doing Boston, which is first in the rotation, well, it just doesn't seem like it's time yet for another walk. But it is.

I saw the 6-weeks header and thought, "Holy Cow!" And that reminded me I had promised some people photos of the "fake" cows (previously mentioned under "Cows That Don't Say Mooo") and I have delivered. I took the camera back on that walk route just as I said I would. While I was snapping shots of said cows, their owner came out, clearly curious what I was up to. Bear in mind that her inseam likely equaled my whole height and while she was wearing shorts and sneakers with a T-shirt, her lipstick was perfect. I estimated her wristwatch cost more than my car. I'm sizing her up as my polar opposite BUT - we were wearing the same hat (GO SOX), so I thought I'd give a chat a go. And now I have a new not-quite friend, but at least very polite acquaintance.

Turns out these people Love, Love, Love their fake cows. I heard all about the extensive effort they had gone to in choosing the cows, their poses and positions and their placement in relation to each other. This woman's affinity for these things was extremely genuine and she clearly felt they lend a sense of whimsy and interest to the property. She made it clear that their purchase was a design decision and their approach to the installation was comparable to deciding on architectural elements for your house; like picking a Victorian porch or a fieldstone chimney. For the owners, the cows create a certain character for the property that just generally makes them feel good about being there. Hmmmm

When I left for my walk the morning I took these photos, I felt really good about what I was wearing. I was rockin' a hot pink sport skirt that my husband could only describe as "loud." I reminded myself that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

When the Guggenheim museum was built, some people thought it was so artistically done that it would compete with the art inside; others called it a monstrosity; an eyesore. Everyone had an opinion. Some believed it to be a thing of beauty and others disagreed vehemently.

For my kids, a thing of beauty is probably best represented by the sticky brown froth bursting out of the Diet Coke bottle when they drop the Mentos in. For my husband, a thing of beauty is probably a sound more than a sight; like the motorcycle engine turning over on that first warm spring day.

I personally love that half of my wardrobe is now pink because of The 3-Day. I wear it all in part because it represents our unity and in part because I think it looks fabulous on me. But there's a movement afoot within The 3-Day community with their "Pink is so NOT my color" slogans. For them, "beautiful" will be a day when we don't all have to wear the unifying pink anymore. I think I can adjust my personal standard for beauty to accommodate that vision. Our idea of what it means can change and evolve and I will look forward to a day when I can pack up all the lovely pink things and carry them to the attic in a box marked "Sooo Last Season!" When the time comes to ditch the official "uniform," we'll all be free to do our own thing. We'll get eclectic and funky in other hues. And maybe we'll put plastic cows in our yards.

SO I have resolved to be less quick to judge and to always have that chat before I jump to any conclusions. And to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But my mom taught me another saying that seems appropriate here: "Pretty is as pretty does." So to all The 3-Day community - I don't care if you wear pink skorts or not; and you can have fake cows, garden gnomes, wind socks, ceramic frogs or those little painted kitties that look like they're climbing a tree - it doesn't matter what's in your yard (or your house or your hair or your bra, for that matter). You all look absolutely gorgeous to me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

False What??!

OK Guilty; I admit it. But in my defense, people do it all time. It was strictly for effect, though – call it literary license. I created a false dichotomy – and would point out that we’ve all done it at some point. We assert the two opposing forces most closely associated with our values and frame of reference and pretend that nothing exists in the middle. We call out the two most extreme versions of something and offer them up as a collectively exhaustive list. That’s precisely what I did in a recent post.
In my May 21 entry, "Guilty Pleasures," I hypothesized that there are two kinds of people in the world: (1) those who embrace each day and all that it brings [they want to add value to the beauty and goodwill of our existence]; and (2) those who can’t conceive of anything bigger and better than themselves [and thus will never work to attain it].
Of course these are not the only two options. They are but bookends in a broad spectrum of types. I am the first to admit that I’m uncomfortable with shades of grey and tend to think of all people as either part of the solution or part of the problem. I know in that sense that I have fallen victim to the fallacy of false choice. "You’re either with us or against us" syndrome. Because of my black and white way of thinking, I often find myself choosing between two ideas instead of considering the infinite possibilities that lie between them. So yeah, my use of the false dichotomy may say significantly more about me as a person than the fact that I like to tie up my blog entries with a nice, neat bow at the end.
Following some serious philosophical introspection over the weekend, I concluded that my readers deserve better than my bad logic. I did some gut-wrenching soul-searching and a lot of deep thinking and finally, the light bulb went on. Revelation! I could, at last, move away from the "two kinds of people" notion. I could leave the false dichotomy behind. Because I could finally discern, thru my fuzzy, half-truth fog, that there are indeed not two kinds of people. There are, and always have been, three kinds of people in the world. There you have it! Yessirree! I told you I could move beyond the false dichotomy – I’m giving you, my readers, the new and improved False Trichotomy.

Here they are; the 3 kinds of people:
(1) People uninterested in service or the spirit of giving. They may be selfish or just self-absorbed or simply driven to distraction by the mundane. Regardless, their existence is not marked by contribution, creativity, gratitude, serenity or humility and they leave the world no better than they found it. They can be hard to identify. Many are absolute thugs living at the dark periphery as societal fringe with utter detachment from their community. Others live on your street, drive the same car as you, and haul their kids to the same athletic fields and trumpet recitals. Look out! Once you really know what you’re dealing with, avoid it like the plague because it can drain you.
(2)What I believe to be the vast majority of us. We always try to do the right thing. We give what we can where we can. We seek out like-minded companions and form communities around a shared effort to have a positive impact. We are the T-ball coaches and Scout leaders, church social committee members and 3-Day walkers. We reach out and try to connect, try to support and try to leave things generally better off when we’re done. We spend some of our time being conflicted and frustrated and sometimes we grow tired and complain. We mutter under our breath at times when we have to bake more cupcakes or cart around more kids or stay late to turn off the lights when we really want to be in bed. But we do it. And we get up the next morning and do it some more. We’re energized by the fact that we’re in it together and so we keep going. Yup; that’s most of us. Muddling thru and trying real hard to do the right thing.
(3) Then there’s these guys. What can I say? We all know a couple of them. The ones who always do the right thing and then some! Do it with a smile on their face and a song in their heart. These are the people who never seem to puzzle over what the right thing is – and when it comes time to actually do it, it’s done with a graciousness and sincerity that puts us to shame. There’s no effort involved; it’s a way of life. Compassion and generosity come so naturally to them that it’s almost supernatural. Latch on to these people. Learn from them. Emulate them. Thank them.

There you have it. The 3 kinds of people in the world! By now you know I’m kidding, of course. I’m certainly not about to go pounding all of humanity into one of the three peg-holes I’ve created. We all know "It takes all kinds" and the personality continuum is expansive. Maybe we’ve all had our moments of being each kind at some point or another. As much as I’m a recovering whiner, I still whine every now and again. But I’ve also had a couple of choice moments, especially as a parent, when I’ve been supremely selfless. We’re all a different shape, a different shade, a different degree and, in reality, I’m all for celebrating that! But right now I see a cluster of pegs, way out at the far end, waayyy out in the distance, standing together below the board. My goal is to re-form this peg - me - until it fits through their hole.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Thanks Guys!

Something in our dinky little local newspaper caught my eye yesterday. It was a picture of 28 women and one man. If the dinky little local newspaper would put their opinion pieces online, I would provide the link here, but alas, they do not. I will just have to describe it as best I can.

The 28 women were wearing brightly-colored and be-jeweled bras on the outside of their clothes and they were posed in front of a local restaurant – yes, outside, on the sidewalk. The one man in the picture was Marko, the owner-proprietor-chef at said local restaurant. And he looked pleased as punch to be in the middle of this spunky group of ladies. I have been in Marko’s a few times – he makes a foulle that is to die for; it’s a soupy, garlicy blend of chick peas and fava beans, meant to be sopped up with flat bread – good and good for you! The place is tiny and casual – you can bring your own wine and they’ll un-cork it for you and provide the glasses. It’s a friendly, homey sort of place without pretense but with excellent food.

The ladies gathered at Markos were there to raise money for one in the group who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. They, to my knowledge, are not affiliated with any formal event like The 3-day or Relay or Race for the Cure or anything; but were taking their own private steps to support their friend. Beautiful. And the reason it made the paper is because they had written a very moving, public “Thank You” note to Marko for having hosted their event. Apparently they picked the place because they liked it and not because he had any relationship with any of them. He had allowed them to over-take his place of business for a night – in all their costumed glory – and not out of personal obligation to anyone in the group – but just to be a good citizen. Which brings me to my point – it's always the men who get me. As moved as I constantly am by all my “sisters” in the 3-day family, it's always the men who get me. Pink Beard; Men With Heart; Baghdad; The Second Basemen; Convertible Thunderbird guy; the Kilts; the man in the video who says he’s walking for his wife because she can’t be there. . . . . That’s when you’re biting your lip and pulling the tissues out of your fanny pack.

Last year when I got home from the Atlanta walk, I wrote a letter to People Magazine suggesting that the “Men of the 3-Day” deserve their title of Sexiest “Men” Alive! The following is excerpted from the letter I submitted. . . . .

“I’m sure the editors of People are hard at work on the annual “Sexiest Man Alive” edition, which usually comes out around the first of December. I have a “nomination” to put forth in that regard. I assert that America’s Sexiest Man Alive is not a man, but a group of men; a group that wears feather boas, angel wings and hot pink hula skirts. But they are not transvestites, transgender, gay or “curious.” Well, some of them might be, but mainly, they are the fathers and sons, husbands, brothers and boyfriends of women affected by breast cancer. Some of them have even been diagnosed with the disease themselves and are gutsy enough to say so in public. These are the men of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, the boldest event of its kind in America. It is a 60 mile walk over three days that draws tens of thousands of participants each year and raises tens of millions of dollars for breast cancer research.

“As you can imagine, “The 3-Day” is a female dominated event, but men do come. They come as the bicycle, motorcycle and medical crews who see to the safety of the walkers; they come as the gear and tent haulers, support vehicle drivers, and the hydration team that mixes infinite gallons of Gatorade. Many of them come to walk themselves or to simply be “walker stalkers” - spectators who follow the route cheering, clapping and encouraging. In solidarity with women who have given up something of their womanhood to have their breasts altered as they fight their disease, these men give up their manhood for a weekend to wear be-dazzled bras, and pink Crocs, to wear wigs and paint their nails and trudge along among this gaggle of women. That’s hot!

“But “The Men of the 3-Day” doesn’t just include the guys “on event.” It includes the guys back home, too: the husbands, brothers and dads who support these women while they train and fundraise; who take care of the kids, rub the feet and wipe the tears. No walker could do it without them. There’s nothing sexier than empathy, generosity and sacrifice. In my opinion, they deserve more than a page in a magazine, but it would be some great recognition and well-deserved. I hope you will seriously consider this proposal.”

Happy Father’s Day All -

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Today's Pink

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I planned to wear something
pink every day until The Walk. Today it was bracelets. Cute, huh?!
Also, there have been requests for photos of the bogus bovine - Did not have the camera with me on last weekend's walk - will definitely take it this weekend though - you just gotta see it!