I finished my book!!!

Tonight I’m celebrating.

I finished my book today!

I know that now the hard work begins…editing…trying to find a good publisher. But tonight I will put all those worries aside.

Tomorrow the video I created will be sent out to hundreds of parents of autistic children. Then it will be posted online to be viewed by countless people. I am nervous and excited to see what will happen.

Thanks for your continued encouragement and support!! I just wanted to share the good news!

My first 50k

I did it! I finished my first 50k.

The ultra marathon started at 6 AM. I got up at what would’ve been 3 AM my time at home after a restless night’s sleep.

It was still dark when the race started. I borrowed my cousin’s headlamp. I thought that I could just use my cell phone, but was told that a headlamp would work better. I never ran with a headlamp before. It was disconcerting and took some getting used to. I felt like I was running with a strobe light.

I felt tired and had stomach issues for three quarters of the race despite my best efforts to get enough rest and not eat anything that could possibly disagree with me. My body likes routine and kept cuing me that something was off. I did a lot of walking dragged along by my cousin who was always in front of me. He kept encouraging me along and everyone else along the path.

As the day grew long and the end neared, we greeted everyone and were greeted with a great job, keep going, looking good. It was a difficult course despite near perfect weather conditions. I saw runners vomit, covered in dirt, lay on the ground, and fall in front of me. Some were running the 100 mile race that started the afternoon before. Some looked strong and others looked like they were barely holding on.

Every muscle in my body screamed at me to stop after I ran the length of a marathon. My feet ran along in a slow shuffle. In my mind my movements were exaggerated. I thought I was picking up my feet high enough to get over several roots on the trail. Twice I tripped and caught myself from falling. My body jolted in a pain so fiercely never experienced before.

There was no way I could keep up to my cousin after that, but he wouldn’t finish without me. He told me how strong I was and to keep going. The closer I got to the end the more my mind told me just the opposite. I sucked at running and was despicably weak.

Meanwhile, Paul and my cousin’s wife followed us around routing for us. They stopped in the middle of the woods for a picnic lunch which prompted a runner to ask them if they were real.

C’mon now, we only have a 10k left…now a 5k. After another mile, we just had 3 miles to go. Wait you told me that a mile ago. Are you lying?

The last two miles were the hardest. It took everything I had to just keep walking. I never ran that far before. I didn’t trust myself to run. I felt like I was going to pass out. But I was determined to finish even if I had to crawl. My cousin said he would carry me across the finish line if he had to, but I said I would never allow for that.

My cousin is a very kind and caring person. He stopped to offer help to everyone he saw struggling on the path.

Finally we were about a mile away. I saw some fortune cookies left on an almost empty snack table. In only one package, there were two fortunes. I convinced my cousin that those were for us.

Ability will enable a man to get to the top, but character will keep him from falling.

Seems fitting, I guess. I am quite the character.

Finally, the end was in sight. I ran with all the strength I could muster across the finish line.

Life’s good

I feel happy with life right now. It’s been a long time since I felt this way. Things are finally coming together. I think I actually slept two full nights this week following a week of insomnia and nightmares.

What makes me happy is that everything is coming together for my family.

My daughter Angel just started her last year of college. She is dating a guy that I would be happy to call my son-in-law. I think they might get engaged soon. Her future looks pretty exciting right now.

My son Alex just started tech school. He is joining a band that I approve of. It’s all I can ask for right now.

Things are going better than expected with the foreign exchange students. I have been busy getting them registered for school and trying to do all of the fun stuff around here before summer ends. Weather wise, it pretty much has ended. It’s been a cool and rainy summer.

Arabella is doing good with her diet and one of our foreign exchange students offered to host her as a foreign exchange student next year. Things are coming together.

Paul is starting a new business, not a start up company this time but a franchise. We are getting along better now than we have before.

I am excited and nervous to be traveling to Michigan next week for my first 50k. Paul and I are taking the car ferry across Lake Michigan for the first time. I love planning trips, even if they aren’t very far. Off to another adventure which I’ll be sure to tell you about.

I don’t know what the future brings. But as for right now life is good. I’m going to hold on to that as long as I can.

Write, right?

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t really felt like writing.

Most of the time I have no qualms about throwing it out there. But for some reason this week I’ve felt impersonal. I want to keep my distance and my thoughts to myself. I worry that I’ve already shared too much.

I feel frustrated. My thoughts are fluctuating about my writing. One day I have great confidence. My book will be a bestseller and I can’t wait to chronicle my descent into despair. The next day I want to walk away from it all and not open myself up to be vulnerable to the world.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has been as personal as mine is going to be.

Word has gotten around that I am writing a book. I got a call from a publisher this week. She wants to meet for coffee to discuss my book. She said that memoirs are flying off the shelves right now. She wants me to send her a sample of my book. I am thinking about turning her down, but I am not sure if that is a smart idea. She is a small publisher that mainly publishes works of fiction.

I am not ready to deal with this yet. I want to take my time and write a great book before I worry about finding a publisher. Then I feel bad because I have some good friends who wrote great fiction books and haven’t been able to find a publisher.

The end of the summer, I will be public speaking about being a sibling with an autistic brother. My contact said that once I have my book written, she had someone interested in publishing. I would prefer to publish my book in the mental health memoir genre. Now I will need to reach out and contact them to see what my options are. It is all very confusing as a first time author.

All I want to do is write my book and not worry about anything else right now. The publisher said that if I finish writing a book, I will find myself in the 1% of the population who has. That is rather exciting, but I have no interest in being an author.

I just want to write my book. I’m not sure what I’m going to do after that. I can see myself doing public speaking and being an advocate for families, especially siblings, of the disabled. But I haven’t even done my first public speaking stint yet. Maybe I won’t like it. Maybe I won’t be good at it. The thought of public speaking about something this personal is starting to fill me with anxiety.

I’m not sure where this path is going to lead me and I am filled with doubt. But I think I need to keep writing.

Write, right?

Fortune Cookie Wisdom #19

You have many special gifts, go experiment with them!

I really like this fortune cookie.

But how do you know what your gifts are? I think the best way to find out is by trying  new things.

Last summer my mom retired at age 70. She was really quite miserable after retiring because she really loved her job. She even got an ulcer shortly after retirement. But then she started trying new things. She started a sewing project with her sister-in-law. Once a week, we work together doing genealogy research. She discovered that she really has a passion for history. She wants to start volunteering at the literacy council.

My husband’s step-dad Darryl also retired recently. He, like my mom, has a hard time sitting around doing nothing. He decided that he wanted to be a first responder and signed up to take EMT classes. He also joined his church choir which always practiced during the time he was working.

I wonder what other ‘gifts’ we will discover that we have.

I found out that I love to run when I was in my 30’s and started writing a book this year. I probably won’t be running marathons forever and as of right now I am thinking one and done as far as the book goes. We’ll see where this path takes me.

I am encouraged by the others around me that even in my 60’s and 70’s, I might still find new and exciting gifts.

 

 

The ultra training starts

I just signed up for my first 50k.

There is no turning back now. Thankfully, I have until September to train. I will be running the ultra with my cousin.

It has been a cold spring here in Wisconsin. I have only been out to run a handful of times. Today’s high temps are in the mid-40’s and it is raining. Yuck! But at least it’s not snowing.

I was able to run with my new friend from the theater. I doubt we will ever run together again and I am okay with that. She is so much better than I am. What I didn’t know was that this new friend qualified for the Boston Marathon 6 times and ran it twice. She even ran something like 10 miles the day she gave birth. Talk about hard core!

She is a couple years younger than me as well which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is in the racing world. Maybe if I was 20 years younger than her, I would be able to keep up. That might even be pushing it.

Now that I am almost 45, I don’t have the stamina I used to.

I had a really bad run outside a couple weeks ago. I was several miles from home when I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I was in the suburbs and there was no where to go. I was so tempted to run up to a stranger’s house and ask if I could use their bathroom. How mortifying would that be! Every time I ran, the urge to go was stronger but walking prolonged the journey home. I called my husband to pick me up, but he didn’t answer. There were people everywhere. I finally made it home accident free.

Maybe I need to add Depends to my running supply list! That is the only thing I like about running on the treadmill at the gym. There is a bathroom close by if I need it. It is easier to stay hydrated as well. I finally broke down and bought a hydration belt with water bottles for the long runs outside.

Again, having to go to the bathroom is always an issue outside. Not to mention bugs, pop up thunderstorms, reckless drivers, adverse weather conditions, those horrible hills, chafing, injuries, dehydration, and animals. But that is what also makes for the best stories and adventures that won’t be forgotten. It’s the dirt and the grit. Determination. The testing of the limits. The long runs to think. Enjoying nature when it doesn’t call. The friendships, the camaraderie of strangers, the goodness of fellow travelers along the trail. I love it all!

I am hoping that the training goes a lot better once it warms up outside. Since I have a few marathons under my belt, what is a few more miles? Right?!??

 

BVI, day 11

The time zone in the BVI and Puerto Rico is two hours ahead of us at home.

I woke up the morning of the 11th day at 12:45 AM to shower, leave by 2 AM, and catch a plane at 4 AM our time at home. I was approached by someone asking if I would do a survey at the airport. Normally I would say no because who has time for that. But there I sat while everyone else in the group waited in an endless line for coffee.

I didn’t get coffee. Instead this time I took my anxiety medicine. I was hoping to relax and sleep on the plane since I didn’t get much rest on the sailboat. But things never turn out the way I plan. The flight from San Juan to Chicago was 5 hours long and I’d be lucky if I slept half of it.

At the end of the flight, we were warned we were headed towards some nasty turbulence but that the pilots were very experienced and would get us through it safely. Terrified I braced myself to my seat for the longest time but the turbulence never came.

Many of the passengers coughed. I thought to myself that I would rather get sick after my vacation than during. That was until I got sick and decided I would rather not be sick at all.

We reached our connecting flight with just enough time for me to get a cup of coffee. I had play practice that evening that I couldn’t miss because I already missed 4 rehearsals from the vacation. Time to wake up!

Our second flight home was very short and as we were making our descent, I was filled with dread. There was snow everywhere! No more warm weather for a long time.

I had just enough time to unpack before heading out the door again. I heard stories of how things went when we were gone. Paul’s step-dad Darryl stayed at our house over the weekends we were gone. Monday morning he overslept and Arabella had to wake him up to take her to school. He left in such a hurry that he didn’t let the dog out and there was a mess to clean up later in the day when my mom came. He also told Arabella that he was going fishing on a day that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to give her a ride.

My mom stayed during the week and things didn’t go that much better. Alex skipped school one day because he didn’t wake up in the morning. My mom and Arabella were having so much fun that my mom didn’t take her to school one day until 10 AM. My mom wrote Arabella a note saying that she got stuck in our driveway which wasn’t true. Those things made me very angry (now you can see why I worry so). But I let it go reasoning with myself that the pets and my children were still alive.

That night I felt horribly tired at play practice. Jet lag I suppose. I felt dizzy as well. For all the time I spent on the sailboat, I didn’t feel like I was on a boat at all until I got home. Everything was rocking for two days. Then I got a really nasty cold for 2 weeks and maybe only slept two nights in a full month. But, hey, at least I had a pretty good vacation.

At this point you are probably wondering if I would’ve done anything different if you are still reading this. Yes, I would’ve left the wet suit at home. I would’ve brought a good pair of boat/water shoes. I would’ve done more research online. If you decide to read any books regarding the BVI make sure they are written post hurricane because some of the things we read about and wanted to visit simply weren’t there anymore.

Also, we opted to sail the boat ourselves without a paid captain or chef. I would recommend doing that if you have people onboard that are skilled at both. Also, it does help if the crew is in good physical condition.

It is always iffy to travel with friends. We didn’t know Tim and Cara that well and didn’t really know Stan and Angela at all. Overall, we got along pretty good. But there were instances when someone felt like the third wheel. Also, we were in very tight quarters and at times under stressful circumstances which doesn’t always bring out the best in people. There is a lot of invasion of private space and necessity to work together as a team to make decisions. I guess that’s what makes it a real adventure!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

BVI, day 9

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Today was the best day and our last full day on the sailboat.

We wanted to get as close as we could to our end point without actually going there. It was still very windy and a very rough ride. There were 6 ft waves that were close together. Everything creaked and loose stuff shifted position. It was hard to walk without falling down.

It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. Paul brought a bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses out after we moored while I was sitting on the bow. We shared the wine only to find out that it was only 10:30 AM. Whoops! Afterwards, we ate a huge lunch. We had a lot of food and drinks left over.

After lunch, we all went snorkeling. For the first time, I put on my wet suit. Just a quick bit of advice, leave the wet suit and flippers at home. They take up tons of luggage space and are not necessary. The water was cool and refreshing, but not at all cold. The only thing nice about a wet suit is that it provided a layer between my skin and whatever was in the ocean. It gave me a feeling of protection, but not enough to take up a quarter of my suitcase. The charter company had flippers to use. Save the room for extra clothes because laundry is a pain. Invest instead in a nice pair of full face goggles.

I felt indigestion after feasting, so I decided to go to shore. It was rocky, not sandy. It hurt to walk on the stones, they weren’t very smooth. At one time, someone was camping on shore. There were a couple of old boat cushions, remnants of a campfire, and miscellaneous empty bottles. At any time I was expecting Tom Hanks to come out with his ball Wilson. Behind the beach was hilly terrain and thick foliage which was rather creepy.

To make things more unsettling, I heard the intermittent crying of a kid in the distance. A kid?? Did someone have a child on their boat? Not that I knew of. Yet the crying continued. It was a while later that we spotted goats. It was a kid after all, just not the kind I originally imagined.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to visit the legendary Willy T bar for drinks. On the second story of the boat, people were jumping off into the water despite the no jumping, no diving signs. I watched several people jump and debated for at least an hour whether or not to give it a try. I spent enough time in my life watching other people have fun and decided I couldn’t forgive myself if I left without jumping. Paul, Stan, and Tim already dove off the platform.

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This was the picture of the Willy T I posted earlier that was shipwrecked from the hurricane on Norman Island. The new Willy T is located on Peter Island.

I was utterly terrified as I stood on the platform overlooking the 15 ft drop. I talked Angela into jumping with me but Cara could not be convinced. Strangers cheered us on as we stood on the platform in fear. We couldn’t wimp out now! Jumping was utterly exhilarating! I convinced Angela to jump in from the water. After jumping once, we jumped in several more times. It was so much fun!

The hardest part about jumping was getting back onto the boat. There weren’t any steps, just slimy dock poles. The guys had to give us a hand. Angela and I bought hot pink Willy T t-shirts to remember the day. Then we decided to head back to our boat for supper. We had a lot of food left. Our adventures of the day bolstered our conversation that evening. But our adventure wasn’t over yet!

Later in the evening, the guys caught another shark. It took Tim 2 hours to fight the monstrous beast. They decided to bring the shark onboard for pictures then set him free back in the water. I thought it was a crazy idea. The shark was huge, almost 7 ft long! But by the time we brought the shark onboard, he was sick of fighting. I was kind of glad I wasn’t planning on doing any more swimming though.DSC_0386

Sorry the pictures aren’t the greatest. It was dark and I didn’t want to get too close!

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What a great way to end our sailing adventure!

 

 

BVI, day 2

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We left Puerto Rico late this morning to take the puddle jumper to Tortola. Some of us were a little nervous about our flight on such a small plane that we decided to stop at the bar before our flight. I ordered a Bloody Mary which I thought was rather strong. Maybe it was just too early. It was 10 AM, 8AM at home. I jokingly said that is when the school will call me at 8 AM a little tipsy. Hey, it’s noon somewhere.

I wasn’t especially nervous about the flight. I figure I can handle just about anything for 30 minutes. I wore pants which ended up being rather ridiculous. I am always cold on planes, but this plane was very hot and loud. We spent the whole flight filling out our customs form and then it was over. There were only about 12 people on the plane, half of them belonging to our group.

We got off the plane and entered one of the smallest airports I’ve ever been in. There were chickens wandering around outside. It was very hot and everything went at a slow pace. We took a shuttle ride from the airport to the marina. We got to our sailing charter a day early and would spend the first evening sleeping aboard at the marina.

We couldn’t check in until later in the afternoon and decided to walk around to find something for lunch then provision at the store. We got a recommendation for a restaurant, but when we got there the sign said closed. We heard people inside and wandered in anyway. They were short staffed so we sat at a table outside and relaxed waiting about 2 hours to eat. We weren’t in a hurry. While we waited, we could hear the band students playing Bob Marley songs nearby. The band room was located in a tent ever since the hurricane.

We walked to the store later. It was strange since the traffic moved in a different direction than it did at home. Cara started to cross the street and had to run back to the curb because a car came around the corner fast. She earned the nickname frogger from the old Atari game where the frog tried to cross traffic without getting squashed. Later that evening, the same thing happened to Cara. This time a man on a motorcycle stopped so she could cross and almost got rear ended by a truck.

Our trip to the store was interesting. It was strange because there were people tailgating in the store parking lot. I found that to be an unusual hang out place. The store had a lot of interesting food like squid and fruits and vegetables we’ve never seen before. There were cases of beer for $50. There were also 6 packs that people mixed with other brands. Coming from WI, it was weird to see beer for sale by the bottle. I also did not see a large selection of coffee creamers. Some of the items did not have prices.

After we bought our provisions, we stuffed them in our backpacks and walked back to our boat at night. We weren’t worried about crime although it was a little scary to cross the road. The next morning we were going to have our bigger items delivered like our cases of water and soda. Then we were going to be on our way.

Goal 7: Finish strong with parenting and be an enjoyable life partner.

Winter has finally arrived in Wisconsin. Yesterday we received a foot of snow and the next two days we will have wind chill warnings of 35 to 50 below zero. Maybe I will be able to dust off my cross country skis after all.

It has been hard to work out lately. Not only has it been impossible to exercise outside, it has been hard to get to the gym.

Yesterday school was cancelled. Today the kids had school. Some are already cancelling for tomorrow. The roads have been treacherous, but we carry on because this is where we live.

The final countdown is on. Alex has less than 4 months now until graduation. He passed all of his classes and signed up to go to tech school this fall. I have been very excited about the positive changes but there have been a few slip ups. Alex still is consistently late for school. It hasn’t been easier since we moved further away. Plus the weather has been bad and last week he had car trouble. I think a lot of his problems would be solved if he just got up 10 minutes earlier.

Arabella is no better when it comes to timeliness. Angel always had to be 10 minutes early which caused a lot of fighting among the siblings when she drove the kids to school. As a parent, sometimes you just can’t win.

Next year we are planning on hosting a foreign exchange student. Then for her senior year, Arabella wants to be a foreign exchange student. We would love to visit her and watch her graduate in a foreign country.

But after this parenting gig is all over, Paul and I will be on our own too. We weren’t even married for a year before our first baby came along. I want to be the life partner that is enjoyable to be with. Right now it seems like all of our focus is on problem solving and dealing with all of the change in our life. We concern ourselves with the urgent but not necessarily the most important.

Life is always a work in progress. My goal is to finish strong and keep working on my relationships. Instead of trying to change others, I need to change me. That has been a difficult realization to make. I need to be the change I want to see in the world. I can’t fix others.

Oh, and the next couple of days it will be colder here than in Antarctica. Maybe visiting all 7 continents wouldn’t be so bad after all. I am getting used to this now. I have to admit, it is very beautiful watching the swirling snow fall.

Time to update my bucket list and start working on my goals.