Risking adventure

This past weekend my son went cliff diving. Thankfully, he lived to tell about it. Honestly, it looks like a lot of fun.

My son loves adventure. Sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree.

A few weeks back my son sprained his ankle at the trampoline park. Thankfully, he didn’t get hurt more seriously. Honestly, the trampoline park sounds like fun. I would probably want to hang out there if I was 17 too.

Despite missing a week of work at his new summer job for a sprained ankle, my son is getting up before dawn to put in 40 hours of hard labor at a flooring company. I can’t treat him like a baby anymore. He is taking a lot of responsibility and working hard.

With his first paycheck, he bought an electric bass guitar. It is so cool. He has the ability to pick up any instrument and quickly learn how to play it. He is being courted by a couple of bands. How exciting! What an adventure I am sure that will be. I wish I could’ve done that when I was his age!

In a few weeks, he will be getting a motorcycle. If my husband was into motorcycles, you can bet I would be riding on the back of it or getting one of my own. How thrilling!

But as a mother, I am not too keen on my son’s adventures. What if he gets seriously hurt or worse??

My husband says we would be total hypocrites if we are adventurous but discouraged it in our children. I suppose our son could spend his life locked away in his room playing video games, but that is probably dangerous too.

I just told you a couple of weeks back how the rudder broke on our sailboat during a race. We spun in circles in rough water and had to come back against the other boats that were coming towards us. That adventure could’ve ended poorly, but it didn’t. It made for a great story and the most exciting race ever.

My hobbies aren’t the safest.

I could drown while swimming or sailing. There is a 1 mile stretch of my running and biking route that are especially dangerous. I’ve almost been hit in that area by idiot drivers a few times. But I have yet to change my route. Last year a pedestrian died on that road. Granted it was dark and he was wearing all black.

This week I was running on the dangerous stretch of road when just under the hill a Bambi froze in the middle of the road about 20 feet in front of me. I knew if I didn’t start yelling at the animal that a car could come over the hill, swerve, and hit me. It could’ve been dangerous.

It was at that moment I realized that my son is no different from me. We want an exciting life of adventure which means unexpected things can happen. We don’t want to get hurt doing it, but are willing to take the risk to do something that makes our lives more fulfilling.

It is time to start letting go and letting him live his own life. That doesn’t mean I will stop worrying or trying to give unsolicited motherly advice!

You probably know which child is giving me most of my gray hair!

Half tri training

It is raining again..the temperature barely made it to 60 degrees..Will it be July this week or is it the beginning of April?

I could almost swim in my backyard puddles.

But I restrained myself and went to the gym instead.

My neighbors already think I am a little crazy anyway..

If I learned anything this month from the Olympic triathlon event, it was that I need to kick it up a few notches if I am ever going to finish the Half Iron.

Last week I spent a total of 3 hours swimming laps. All three days the pool was packed with kids (probably due to all of the rain). Twice I was waved down. “Hey lady…can I jump in right where you are swimming?” What?? Another kid waved me down to ask what time it was. I must have been giving off a please rescue me from doing another lap vibe or something.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not very coordinated. If I was I would not be into this triathlon and running crap. I would be a graceful dancer. I can barely walk without tripping on something. I cannot do the splits. Because I am athletic certainly does not mean that I am graceful or flexible by any means.

There is hope for everyone willing to take on this insanity!

I am a beginner swimmer in my 40’s! I find it a struggle to coordinate breathing, kicking, and moving my arms at the same time. I would probably look okay in the water if I was a dog. I heard it is really hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

I find myself resenting people that have been swimming since they were on the swim team in grade school. They complain about how horrible they are swimming but can complete it in half my time. Although I admit that I am guilty of saying similar things about running..

It took me over a year but I finally figured how to switch gears effectively on my bike. I don’t have the world’s greatest balance, but I am getting into the swing of it. This past weekend I logged about 45 miles on my bike and the weekend before 40. I had a hilly route all planned out. Then afterwards I told my family that I would be gone for a little while to retrace my route and ended up coming back almost an hour later.

I am not quite as afraid of speed on the bike and falling as I used to be. I bought the clip on biking shoes and they work great. I would recommend it highly. I haven’t fallen yet either.

I have been practicing my running too. Running is my strong suit. I am really good at outrunning things as well, my demons especially. It is funny because people are starting to seek me out to ask me for running advice. It took almost a decade of running for this to happen. Maybe I shouldn’t expect to be a great swimmer or biker overnight.

This past weekend I was tempted to sign up for a local half marathon. It was a small race so I knew that I could probably place. To tell you the truth, I am not a girl that is big into jewelry. But flash a couple of medals in my face and I am signing up for another race. It is not like I even end up wearing them for more than an hour after the race ends. Expensive bling for an hour of wear! Hey, don’t forget about the free banana!!

But I was good and did not sign up for another race just to have more time to focus on training for the Half Iron. I am big time into tapering and taking it easy the week before and after a big race. The first run after a big race, I feel like I’ve never ran before.

At this time, I think I will be able to complete the Half Iron. I have a lot of endurance and determination. It would absolutely crush me if I don’t finish. I am using that grueling Olympic triathlon as a learning tool. I am probably not doing everything right, but I am learning as I go.

I never in a million years thought I would be doing this 5 years ago.

 

 

 

Sweet baby

It happened on Father’s Day..

His first, his last..

I don’t even know him or the baby for that matter.

But I knew his mother from a long time ago, when she was a little girl growing up next door.

It seems hard to believe that I lived somewhere long enough in my adult life to watch a child grow up. She was so young when I first met her…younger than my kids are now.

When she outgrew her bike, she gave it to my daughter.

Now my daughter grew up and left home too.

I wonder what happens to the bicycles when there are no more little legs left to ride them.

The neighbor girl grew up to become a social worker. She rescues children from bad homes but couldn’t save her own child. The horrible injustice of it all must scratch at her wounded heart.

The funeral is tomorrow. It must be hard to pick out the last little outfit that your baby is going to wear in his coffin. I feel so much sorrow for you as I write this.

How devastating to have your baby ripped from your arms so unexpectedly. It’s hard to imagine him in a better place, a place without you.

Do you blame yourself?

Maybe if I noticed something wrong sooner…maybe I should’ve picked him up more when he fussed…maybe I should’ve stayed home with him longer before going back to work…maybe…maybe…maybe…this wouldn’t have happened..

It wasn’t your fault.

I can’t imagine the pain that you are feeling.

I’m so sorry you lost your sweet baby.

 

 

 

 

Weathering life’s storms

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Sometimes I feel like God is smiling down at me for weathering life’s storms. A ray of light sneaks through the clouds and dries the falling tears.

I can’t let the storms rock my boat…

I need the wind at my back to guide me in a different direction, to open my eyes to new perceptions instead of fighting the circumstances that surround me.

But first I need to leave the safety of the harbor and trust His navigation. I won’t get anywhere tied up in false security and empty comforts.

I am afraid that I will never have enough faith to walk on water, but I can’t let that stop me from taking the first step..

 

Midlife is getting old

Sorry to have possibly scared a few new parents yesterday with my talk about raising teenagers. I usually am more confident in my decisions. As the kids get older the decisions seem to be so much more difficult…As the old saying goes…Bigger kids, bigger problems..

How can I not be nervous? The decisions they make the next few years will be some of the biggest in their lives. They will decide who (if) to marry, if they want children, where they are going to live, their career path…pretty much everything that will effect the rest of their lives.

That is scary as a parent…letting go…letting them make their way..watching them learn lessons the hard way..

I can’t seem to relate to new parents anymore. I guess that is a clear giveaway that I am getting old..

Paul asked the other day if I missed having young children. “No” was my reply. Some of my friends are grandparents.

It has been a year full of changes so bear with me. I am entitled to go a little crazy every once in awhile.

My oldest daughter left home for college, then less than six months later Paul lost his mother. Together we lost our first parent and our oldest left.

We can see how the decisions our parents made in their young years effected the whole direction of their lives for good and for bad. Now we are seeing what path our children will take.

Within the last six months I also lost my last ‘great’ and now my parents attained the status of oldest living relatives. And I thought my parents were old when I was a kid!

This whole midlife thing is starting to get old. The kids are starting to leave home while our parents are starting to age rapidly and die.

I want to enjoy every single moment of life that I can.

This morning I awoke to the news that the baby of my neighbor’s daughter passed away unexpectedly. Last year my neighbor lost his wife and she was only 45. It just doesn’t seem fair. I feel such sorrow for the family.

It also makes me appreciate the blessings I have. It makes me want to squeeze my kids tight. Although I am not too sure they would like that.

I am doing the best that I can. I am trying to make the best decisions that I can for my kids. That will have to be good enough.

I am trying to grasp life and enjoy what I can now because this is as young as I am ever going to be.

Letting go of (not so) little hands

Last week my son turned 17.

It was my son that ended up in the ER the weekend before this past one. He hurt himself at the trampoline park. Thankfully, he just sprained his ankle.

This next weekend he wants to jump off a cliff. I say I want to do this all the time, but he is really planning on cliff jumping/diving.

I worry all the time. Is there any wonder why??

When I think I have it bad, I am reminded of a classmate’s son who checked jumping out of a car at 55 mph off his bucket list.

My son wants a motorcycle. We told him he needed to work on his grades and get a job.

The original job he had lined up fell through. Now he has a better job. He does general labor for a flooring company. It is hard, dirty work that pays unbelievably well. A job that pays enough to buy a motorcycle.

We decided to let him get his motorcycle license. Perhaps if you are reading this now and you are rather young, you think I am the world’s coolest mom. Or perhaps you are thinking I am the world’s biggest idiot.

I don’t even know anymore…But hear me out.

In less than a year, he will be getting a motorcycle with or without my blessing. He could very easily say ‘screw you mom and dad’ and be very reckless about it. Now we signed him up for a class at the local Harley Davidson, we bought him a helmet, and practically every safety item we could without putting a bubble around him. We are hoping to instill good habits now. Plus by the time he takes the class and gets the bike, he will only have 2 months to ride before it is too cold.

Believe me, I am not as excited about it as he is.

I really wish kids came with owner’s manuals. Or at the very least a flow chart. Is your child adventurous? Yes or no. Is you child a risk taker? Yes or no. Does your child follow the rules of the road? Yes or no. Each answer would pop up a simple pass or fail for each decision that needs to be made.

That would be the perfect world.

 

I loved it when my kids were young. I felt like I had some control. They would eat the food I gave them. They would go where I would take them. Then went to bed when I told them. They wore the clothes I picked out for them.

I realized the minute my children entered the world that they would someday have to leave it. I just don’t want them to leave this world before I do. I told my son that I would never forgive myself if something happened to him on a motorcycle. Children die all of the time. I can’t stop a car accident, a disease, or a natural disaster. Yet I worry about the things I have no control over.

My kids are going to make mistakes. They are going to get hurt. Letting go is a lot harder than I ever thought that it would be. I want to hold their little hands forever. I have to force myself to not over mother and smother my little birds and instead let them try out their own wings to fly. Sometimes it feels wrong. I spent so much time focusing on them. It is hard to let go. As strange as it sounds, it is hard to be me again. It is hard to do the things I want to do for me. It seems so selfish to be able to focus on myself again.

I hope I am making the right decision about letting my son get a motorcycle. But try as I might, I won’t be able to grasp his hand for much longer.

Survival stories

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Over this past week, we have been hit by several severe storms. There was one day that it didn’t storm. Tornadoes blew through the area.

My daughter, Arabella, was at camp all week. They had to take shelter several times due to the severe storms. For once, I didn’t worry too much. I grew up fairly close to the area that my daughter went to camp. I knew exactly where the storms hit. I knew the campers weren’t in the storms path. By the time I knew a storm was coming, it had already passed that area.

After I picked up my daughter from camp, I went to the cemetery to see if my grandparents ‘survived’ the storm. I checked on their parents and siblings too. It seemed like a strange thing to do, since they all have been dead for almost a decade or more. I don’t get out that way to visit too often.

I remember going as a child along with my grandma and Aunt Grace to check on our family at the cemetery after a storm. Now, regrettably, it felt like my turn.

I drove by my grandparents house. The new owners put up a decorative fence in the front yard. At Aunt Grace’s house, the new owners put in a new front door and constructed a flower bed where a tree used to be. It is still painful to drive by.

I stopped at my parents house, but they weren’t home. It was oddly silent. I feel a certain sadness when I go home. I can’t explain it. I feel nostalgia for what was. I feel grief for things that happened that shouldn’t have. I feel an emptiness, a sense of being alone. It is a painful feeling, but ever so slightly, an uneasiness that almost cannot be pinpointed.

I picked asparagus in my parents backyard as I saw lightening and heard the rumble of distant thunder. I felt empty, alone, and a little afraid. Afraid of being vulnerable out in the open. I felt the emptiness of it all. Soon my parents will be gone. I still regret not spending every moment with my loved ones that I could before they were gone. Guilt. But not even deserved. I spent a lot of time with my family. My mother didn’t want to let me go, so I stayed. I’m the dutiful firstborn that never went far from home. I was needed.

As I ventured out and about this week, I talked to others that faced the storm. People are drawn to tales of destruction, to view the carnage. People want to share their survival stories. I spoke to a stranger that said his family had several collector cars that were destroyed by the tornado after the shed they were in blew away. Cars that were loved, the original parts sought after. I saw pictures. How often does a stranger show you picture after picture on their phone??

I heard the story of a barn the was destroyed in the storm. The cows were lost and some blew away. Half of the cows were found down the road impaled into the ground. These are survival stories being told by people grasping for others who can relate.

I thought about the stories I heard, then realized that I am the same way. I want to tell my story. I want to feel united in life’s collective struggle. They may not be the same stories, but have the common key of surviving something difficult.

I told you this week about a couple of stories where we survived sailing under difficult circumstances that were unexpected. I tell you about my races, how grueling the last triathlon and marathon were. My struggles as a parent, spouse, business owner, and with my own personal issues. I speak of surviving a very difficult childhood. I often feel alone because I don’t hear a lot of people with a similar story.

Who else out there has a severely mentally ill sibling that threatened to kill the youngest most vulnerable family members? Beside my siblings, I know of no other person who has that story to tell. It is lonely struggling alone.

My favorite bloggers are those that have struggled too. I don’t read your stories because I like to see you in pain or your failure. Your stories motivate me to go the extra mile. They inspire me to keep telling my story.

I almost feel sorry for people that don’t have a story to tell.

The accidental overnight sail

I originally posted this when I first started blogging two years ago…the mishap we had this week sailing was partially due to our adventures a few years back when we originally weakened the pin to the rudder…Enjoy! We sure did…many years later.

Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind.

It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark.

In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents down my legs onto my new water shoes.

Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no.

Now it was dusk and we were lost.

The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died.

To make matters worse, we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out.

When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm.

One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight.

My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!!

In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore.

We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day.

What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, food, and bought an additional battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail.

We probably should’ve just thrown out an anchor for the night. But what fun would there be in that??

Race-A-Peril

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After we got back from the triathlon, we were planning on sailing a full moon race. I was rather excited to check two races in one day off of my bucket list.

But the strong winds from the morning of the triathlon increased throughout the day making sailing conditions very treacherous. We thought the race would be cancelled but never found out for sure since we spent the evening in the ER instead.

But that will be a story for another day..

I typically compete in triathlons or running. My husband races our sailboat. Sometimes our race paths intersect and I can be found on the water and he on land.

Last night I was part of my husband’s sail race crew along with our friend Jerry. It was a lot cooler and windier than we thought it would be. We were sailing in rough conditions with 3 to 4 foot waves.

For a time, we were slightly ahead of a boat that always wins. They were alongside of us and fell back after we turned.

We were headed on a straight course to the first buoy in the race when disaster struck.

I knew something was wrong when, just like that, we were hurled off course.

A pin snapped. The rudder broke. We spun in violent circles while being struck by waves that rocked our boat and crashed upon the bow. The boom swung and the wind whipped our sails. A line from the main sail broke free and was swirling around overhead like a lasso.

Paul started the outboard motor. The rudder smacked back and forth into the motor’s propeller. Jerry and I worked on getting the jib sheet in as we spun in circles. Then Paul struggled to get the boat in irons to take down the main sail. Then the guys lifted the heavy rudder out of water while trying to maneuver the boat.

After taking the main sail down, the situation became less perilous. But we weren’t out of the woods(?) yet. Paul had to steer the boat back in to the harbor without a rudder. He had to rely on the small outboard motor. His arm was sore from the waves and strong winds that he had to arm wrestle his motor against.

To get back we had to go against the flow. The boats that were racing behind us were coming towards us to get to the racing buoy.

Finally we were able to limp back to shore. Paul had to steer the boat into our slip and it wasn’t going to be easy. There were rugged rocks and a cement wall to navigate around in the strong wind. He hollered to shore for help…but he was able to get us into our slip like a pro.

There were other boats with problems last night.

Another boat had issues and started to come into the slip sideways almost colliding with nearby boats.

The wind ripped another sailboat’s spinnaker in half.

It was the most exciting race ever!

I was happy that the rudder didn’t give out when we were alongside the other boat…we might’ve crashed. Also, the ER visit prevented us from racing this last weekend if the strong winds wouldn’t have. If the rudder broke at dusk 5 miles from shore in strong winds and waves who knows what could’ve happened!

I had a great time. There was no lasting damage. The problem is relatively inexpensive to fix. No one panicked, got hurt, or died last night.

After it was all over, we had a drink and reminisced about our previous perilous sail when we were beginner sailors…the accidental overnight sail…(maybe I will share the story with you all again). Jerry said it was one of the top ten memorable stories of his life. It was one of mine too.

I will not forget last night either.

I love adventure, but I am not a big risk taker.

I have to say that there is something totally exhilarating about challenges that push my mind, body, and stamina to its limits to get through…A sense of danger…Flirtation with failure.

Racing…competing…how I love the thrill of it!

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

No race is ever the same…even if it is the same race.

We didn’t finish the race, but we survived the night.

I will count that as a win.

 

Worth, an Olympic tri

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And just like that my confidence was swept away with the howling of the wind..

We arrived the night before the Olympic triathlon. We dipped our feet in the cold waters of the shore. I had one raspberry daiquiri that felt like four.

We dined at a table next to a family with 5 kids all looking to be under 7 years old. They were well behaved and received the envious stares of a couple with one rambunctious toddler.

I briefly thought of my teenagers who could care less about my race the following day while I glanced at my husband across the table. We were alone. My husband played peek-a-boo with the baby at the table next to us. I felt relief that the young years of parenting are over, but wished I could grasp their interest once more. How incredibly boring my children think I am…

We went to bed early the night before the race. I woke up several times during the night fearing that I would miss my alarm but I never do. I awoke to the sound of athletes outside my window. I felt the tug to get ready early even though I was in one of the last waves to go.

The weather conditions were brutal. It was very windy and hot. I was one of the last few people to start swimming. The first half of the swim was against the strong wind. I couldn’t put my face in the water. I was nervous, breathing fast with a racing heart. Every time I put my head in the water and came up for air, I was hit by the waves. It seemed like I sucked in more water than air. I struggled, sputtered, and coughed. But I did not panic nor did I give up.

The swimming was the hardest part. I felt exhausted before the rest of the race started.

The biking was also challenging. The course was very hilly. The wind blew with a sustained speed of ~25 mph with stronger gusts that were strong enough to take down branches and trees and blow the dirt from the nearby fields into my eyes.

I had to stop a man on a motorcycle for water. I didn’t care that I didn’t know him, that he already was drinking out of it, or that the water was warm.

I struggled up the steep hills against the wind. I hit the brakes going down the hills because the wind took my wheels like a kite and I drifted all over the road. Sometimes there were curves at the bottom of a steep hill. I’ve never road a bike on hills like that before nor did I train for it.

I had to be careful for cars since the roads weren’t closed. I almost got hit by a car going through an intersection that did not stop for the crossing guards. They threw up obscenities towards the reckless driver and mumbled apologies my way.

I was told to slow down on a hill because of loose gravel. A rodent dodged out of my path. My bike helmet was too big and painfully chafed the back of my neck. My skin scorched burning in the heat.

By the time I reached the second transition I was very tired. A man who was already done offered to lift my bike on the rack. He also offered me a pair of socks. I didn’t need the socks. I will remember to go without them next time. I looked and looked for my socks I didn’t need, but I was sitting on one. I left to run with one sock on and one sock off.

Running is my strong suit. I pride myself in not doing a lot of walking during a race. There were a few points that I broke down and walked. I walked under the beating burning sun against the wind up a hill. I prodded myself along by thinking that I was almost done. All the Gatorade and water did nothing to quench my thirst. With the exception of a little cup of ice, all of the drinks I was given were hot.

It took me over 4 hours to cross the finish line, but I didn’t give up. Unbeknownst to me, I signed up for an extremely challenging race under ideal weather conditions.

So far the recovery is going smoother than the marathon recovery last month. Marathon recovery is much more intense and painful. This time I feel more exhausted than I do sore. I spent a lot of time yesterday just bored out of my mind but I couldn’t find the energy to do anything. I couldn’t find the strength to grasp the words that were fluttering through my mind.

In the end, I feel more prepared for the Half Ironman next month. But on the flip side, I feel less confident.