Is it normal?

I imagined the way it would be in my mind. Thick heavy intricate snowflakes dropped with a plop on the cold empty ground. There were horses with jingling bells pulling a sleigh behind it. Hot chocolate stirred with a candy cane. It’s a picture of us trying to find that perfect tree. Even the boy with the face tattoo is there. He is the one taking the family picture of us finding that perfect tree. A ray of radiant light shines through the snow on the right one. We are all smiling and happy.

It wasn’t that way at all. It was raining and the kids had other plans. Paul ran out to the closest tree lot by himself and picked out the tree. But it was that way once. The problem is that I still expect it to be that way now. I spent some time that afternoon crying curled up in my bed playing lullabies that I once played for my babies. Is that normal?? I am off my rocker, literally and figuratively this time.

Is any of this normal?? Paul and I have been struggling lately with this very concept. This will be the last Christmas break that our whole family will be together. Angel is not planning on coming home after college this year. Alex will be graduating (hopefully) this spring and moving on. Arabella is still seriously interested in becoming a foreign exchange student.

I put a lot of time into this whole motherhood thing, and now my kids don’t need me anymore. Who am I now? I am excited to have time to myself to do the things I always wanted to do. But I never thought that the letting go process would be so painful.

Our son is really struggling right now. Although he is 18, we still have boundaries and rules because he is living in our house. We have been asking ourselves if his behavior is within the realm of normal. It was hard to let go of our firstborn, but she was heading off to college and we knew that she would be okay. We feel unsure about the future of our son.

There are really only two scenarios. Our son is completely normal. Then the problem is with us. We need to let him go even if he has to fall on his face a few times. He has to figure things out for himself. We need to let him go even if his future isn’t what we planned on it being.

The second scenario is a bit more troubling. What if he has mental health issues? Then I think it is our job as his parents to make sure that he gets the help he needs. But he is an adult. Is it our job to try to fix him?

Would you try to save someone from drowning if you knew that they knew how to swim??

I think that our son is normal. But what is normal? People have been asking us if he is depressed. I don’t think so. But I’m not sure. I want answers. I want to be guaranteed that he will be okay.

Letting go of a kid to go to college is normal. It is painful, but you are also happy that they somehow became fully functional adults with you as their parents.

But what happens if you think they are not ready yet?

This has been my struggle lately. I probably won’t get all the answers I’m searching for. Plus it doesn’t help that I have unrealistic expectations in my head of how I expect things to be…the way they once were, but no longer are.

Is any of this normal?

Learning (to let go) the hard way

I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know when it all started, the specific moment when things started falling apart. All I know is that now we are in crisis mode and I’m afraid that we can’t put it all back together in one piece.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I took a week off of writing last week. It wasn’t intentional. The previous week my son brought home a paper to sign up for honors band several hours away out of state. I hastily made arrangements. I cancelled plans and found someone to work for me so I could take him. I thought that maybe this was all he needed to get back into wanting to go to college for music. But I was wrong.

You may remember back in September that we toured a college for music and then a week later Alex dropped out of band. After talking to the teacher, he decided not to drop out of band. Now he got kicked out of band, but I am getting ahead of myself in the story.

I thought this would be a good mother-son road trip, a time of bonding. Two days before leaving, Alex said he didn’t want to go because he would be missing a party a friend was hosting because a couple more friends turned 18. I was unsure whether or not we would actually go, but we went.

I dropped him off the next morning full of hope. I picked him up a couple of hours later full of dread. He didn’t like it so he just walked out. His teacher called me angry. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I was so stressed out. What was I going to do? I just wanted to go home. But Paul was so angry that he would’ve kicked Alex out. Plus I spent a lot of money to rent a cabin and it was a really long drive home.

Instead I decided to stay. I spent the weekend talking to Alex. He opened up to me and for awhile I felt like everything was going to be okay.

On Monday morning, I talked to Paul. I told him that we needed to have more fun and let go. Life is just not fun anymore. To be honest, I’ve been feeling so depressed that I didn’t want to do anything that helps me deal with my stress. I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to run. Putting one step in front of the other seemed like it would consume too much energy.

Later on Monday, we got a call from the school. Tuesday we met with the principal and dean of students. Alex is getting kicked out of band. He is also failing 2 other classes and may not graduate. He was suspended several days for being tardy, but at least he is still going to school.

We have just been beside ourselves for the last week trying to cope. We are going to be meeting with the school counselor and even set up an appointment with a regular counselor to help our son. The good news is that our son is talking to both of us. Paul and I have been taking turns talking to him. For awhile we think he will be okay and then we are filled with anger and despair.

Alex now has a dream to go into business. We are trying to keep that dream alive to motivate him. But it has been hard. Paul’s blood pressure has been sky high. I’m afraid to stress him out any more than he already is. I have been having stomachaches. Plus I have been struggling with depression. All the things that help me cope healthily I want to push away.

I feel very anxious and panic when I hear the phone ring. I have become paranoid that something bad is going to happen to him. I am not at peace in my life right now. I think people view us as crappy parents. But we are trying everything in our power to help our son succeed. We are trusting that God has a plan for him.

I am trying to take care of myself so I can help him. He is 18. Isn’t my job over? Is this why letting go of children into adulthood is so hard? Why do I feel like I am sending a two year old out to play in traffic? Is any of this normal?? He wants to leave, but he is just not ready. It’s so hard to let go when the future is uncertain. I will be able to do that a little easier once he graduates, if he graduates. Right now I want to fix and control.

I have to learn to let go even if things don’t go the way I want them to.

 

When the music is over..

My son dropped out of band the week after we toured a college for music.

It reminded me of the time my son dropped out of wrestling. It wasn’t just because he was being bullied. The year before he quit, he got third place at regionals in a large bracket. There was an opening to go to state and they called my son to fill that position. All the way up to state, Alex practiced as hard as he could. He practiced so hard that after falling asleep on the long car ride to state, he woke up with a pinched nerve. He couldn’t hold his head upright. He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t wrestle.

Some people gave him crap saying that he was too afraid and that he was faking an injury so he wouldn’t have to wrestle the best in the state. He forfeited his matches while we sat there watching everyone else wrestle. That night at the hotel, his team and their coaches and parents celebrated while we sat in the hotel room devastated. He worked so hard. It wasn’t fair.

We talked with Alex and we decided that we would do everything to help him get to state the next year if he wanted to. We took him to summer camps and intensive preseason wrestling twice a week an hour away. He got to be really good. Who would’ve thought that this could shake up the middle school pecking order and snowball into bullying? But he pushed on. Then at the end of the season, he got the flu. He got weak. But he kept trying. Then right before regionals, he got hurt again. He decided he had enough. It was hard to let go of the 8 years we put into this sport. I felt sorrow. My husband asked if I was expecting him to make a career of it. What if he got hurt again, but worse??

But this is different. This is more personal. I thought that maybe he would pursue a career in music. I thought he would pursue his passion. He got awards at state. He has the talent. He said he wanted that.

Even if he didn’t succeed, I think he would regret not going for it.

We had a long talk with the music professor at the college. He spoke of auditions for scholarships. My son even talked to us about the song he might want to audition with. We decided to contact his piano teacher to continue lessons and contacted the local university for private lessons on his instrument. We have given him all of the tools for success, but he just doesn’t seem to want to pick them up.

This year a majority of the upperclassmen and all of Alex’s friends quit band before the school year started. Alex said he wanted to quit band too. He told me this as he was making beats on his computer and strumming a guitar. Hate music now, huh? I didn’t take it seriously.

He just quit band, a month into the school year. He said he is never playing his instrument again. He was also going to be a part of the pit band for the high school musical, but dropped everything. No music lessons. He said he doesn’t even want to go to college. He burned all of his bridges with a blaze so intense it makes my eyes water.

I felt so angry at first. Now I feel an unrelenting sorrow. My hopes and dreams for him have been totally crushed. He is so smart and talented. To see him have the ability and throw it all away is killing me. Maybe there is still tech school. Who knows? Maybe he won’t even graduate from high school. I could see him getting his PhD in music, but I can also see him living on the streets. The windows of opportunity are closing and it is very painful.

What if he takes the wrong fork in the road?

I think the hardest thing about having adult children is the utter lack of control. I fear that someone will hurt my children. But even more terrifying is watching your child destroy himself and not being able to do anything about it.

Fortune cookie wisdom #4

Good beginning is half done.

This one seems rather obvious.

It serves as a reminder that my life is half over.

Midlife.

Soon I will be 44. Will I make it to 88? I think so..

It is scary to think about. Death, decline..

 

I fear death. Maybe by the time it happens I’ll be ready for it.

I fear decline even more. I want to always have the energy that I have today.

Or maybe it means that my marriage is half over. We’ve been married almost 21 years. Will we make it to 42?

I fear the death of my spouse. He is 6 years older. Plus women outlive men by 6 to 8 years. So just doing the math, I should outlive my husband by 13 years. So if I live until 88, he would live until I’m 75 which would be 46 years of marriage. My estimates based on nothing makes it pretty close to being half over.

I worry about that, I honestly do. I have longevity on my side, Paul not so much. My parents already outlived Paul’s only parent.

Maybe if I find his real father, I will find longevity on his other side. But then again, maybe not.

The first half of my life went by so terribly fast.

I think this serves as a reminder to enjoy every day of breath we are given. Don’t take life for granted. Take time to listen and love. Remember what is really important.

You will not be here forever and neither will the ones that you love.

 

ACT 1

Last week my son got his ACT score in the mail. He got an average score. Although my husband and son were satisfied, I was disappointed. I know he has the capability to do so much better.

I worry about him being able to get into a good college. He got 3 F’s on his report card this quarter, one of them being in band. He wants to go to school for music, that should be an easy A. But he skipped out of some pep band performances which brought down his grade.

In his defense, it seems like band and choir require so much more after school participation than I ever remember. The students are required to be at school in the evenings several nights a week for several months. I think it is a big commitment for a 1 credit class. I probably could’ve sent him with a note excusing his absence, but if he could be there…why would I do that?

Anyway, my son thinks that he can get into college once they hear him play. Maybe, maybe not. He is a very talented musician, I’ll give him that. We have been preaching at him about his grades for years. I’m getting sick of nagging him.

What I really have been concerned about lately is not just being able to get into college, but staying in college. He needs to get through the awful prerequisite classes that have nothing to do with what he wants to do. Without college (and even with), it is going to be hard to get anywhere with a career in music.

My son reminds me of my brother Mark.

Mark is a mechanical/building genius. In middle school, he designed blueprints for a water bed. He built the bed out of wood with his design. He created many things, but that was the most impressive for his age.

Mark struggled with school. Every night my mother would sit down with him and try to help him with his assignments. It often ended with a fight. Mark is very smart, but wasn’t good at school. He had problems reading. Later we found out that he struggled with dyslexia.

As expected of him, Mark went off to college for mechanical engineering and failed miserably. He dropped out by the end of his first semester.

Mark is now employed as a machinist. He is a hard worker and loves his work. Right after high school, he bought a lathe machine so he could work after work out of his garage. He learned everything about machines. Not only does he know how to operate them, he knows how to program, troubleshoot, and fix machines.

Mark has an eye for detail. He painstakingly makes sure things are done right. He was the main visionary for a big remodeling project up north on the cabin that has been in the family since the 1950’s. He created a blueprint to build his own house. He is a mechanical genius, but just wasn’t cut out for college. That’s okay, it wasn’t for him.

Sometimes I wonder if we are taking a square peg and trying to make it fit into a round hole.

But how can someone be marketable as a musician without an education??

Maybe he could work in a music store selling instruments. Or he could learn how to fix instruments. Would he be happy doing that and being a small town musician in the evening?

It is really up to him now. We have given him all the tools for success. We’ll see what kind of life he can build out of it.

In my feelings…

Last year, at about this time, my brother Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic meds. Slowly, the docile Matt that we came to love disappeared. It started with a grunt and a few twitches. The Tourette’s was back. Then he started flapping his hands again, the Autistic self-stim. It all would’ve been tolerable for his liver’s sake, I guess.

But then the old Matt came back in full force. He talked to my mom about wanting to kill my niece, my brother Luke’s daughter. He fantasized over scenarios of killing or harming her. The voices were back. He laughed at the things they told him to do. He had conversations with himself as he flapped, grunted, gagged, and twitched.

He had to go back on the medicine. It took months to wean him off and it would take months until it was fully effective again. In the meantime, Luke had to keep his little girls away from Matt.

All of this happened before…

He attacked my daughter at her birthday party when she was 4. That was before he was medicated and in a group home. After that happened, I cut myself off from my family for years.

Before that, it was me. It’s okay if he hurt me, we were the same size. It happened day after day for year after year.

I was told not to feel. Don’t feel…don’t feel…don’t feel. I got pretty good at not feeling.

My dad never told me he loved me or said that everything would be okay. He could sit in the next room laughing over something stupid on TV while I cried. He didn’t care. He looked at me with vacant eyes. He wasn’t there.

He didn’t hug me, nor did he hit me.

Then there was a switch that would go off somewhere in my dad’s mind. He would become angry. He screamed, he swore, and flailed out at everyone. He laughed at our fears and tears. He ridiculed us, called us stupid, and told us how much he hated us. My brother Luke got the brunt of my dad’s anger. But Luke rattled his cage.

My dad never said ‘I’m sorry that you have to go through this’. Instead he called us names like wimp, baby, or worse if we cried or showed any signs of weakness. I built a tough exterior around myself that wouldn’t even allow empathy in. For every punch, hit, or bruise from my brother, my mantra was that the physical pain would make me stronger. The bruises and scars have long faded, but the inner scars will always remain unseen to most.

My mother was the perfect mom. Except she had one weakness, Matt. She favored him over everyone and everything else. If Matt wanted to go, we went. If he wanted to stay home, we stayed. If Matt was hot and we were cold, she would crank the A/C. Matt couldn’t help it, she said. We had control over ourselves, he didn’t. Sometimes she was so blinded by Matt, that she would put other people at risk by his behavior. But, she cared.

A few months ago, my mom brought Matt up north for my niece’s birthday. I’m not sure if it was a miscommunication or if she was trying to force Matt back into Luke’s life once she deemed Matt as better. Both situations happened before. Luke and my mother got into a huge argument. He wasn’t ready to trust Matt around his daughter. My mother left crying.

This takes us to a couple of weeks back…my mom stopped by on a Friday night. I asked her why she was over. On Friday nights she goes to the group home to pick up Matt. She said that Matt wasn’t coming home because Luke was coming over the next day to talk…something about therapist…repressed memories…

I felt very anxious the next day. For a brief moment, I wept. I know how Luke feels. I’ve been there before. It rips you apart.

It’s been almost a year and a half since I had my last what I call post traumatic stress episode.

It started out innocently enough. I was decorating the Christmas tree. Then this memory came back, almost like an image in my mind that I couldn’t get out. With this memory came intense emotion…stronger than anything I have ever felt before. It lasted almost two days. I couldn’t sleep and when I did I had intense nightmares where I woke up crying and frightened. I had several nightmares a night. I felt intense fear, panic, and rage. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t think rationally or otherwise. It was very horrifying.

I fell into a deep dark depression. I drove around aimlessly in my car. I had this strong desire to end it all. If I drove fast in my car and missed a turn…well…oh well. I screamed at anyone that tried to help me and pushed them away. I remembered. I felt the feelings I tried to repress 100x’s more powerful than if I would have felt them before.

I am afraid of this happening again.

My childhood…the flashbacks…those are the times my feet have swept the bottom of the ocean floor. I honestly don’t know how I survived, thrived in fact. I am completely ‘normal’, but my experiences in life are far from it.

The meeting with my brother was all very hush hush. He talked to my dad for 3 hours and my mom for 2 1/2. It sounds like there was closure and healing. At this point, it is hard to say.

Maybe I should talk to my parents too while I still have the chance.

But I’ve chosen to write about it instead.

Out performing

Last week my daughter Angel was home from college for spring break. We watched a couple of rockumentaries. We watched the Kurt Cobain documentary “Montage of Heck’. I found the documentary to be rather disturbing. It showed raw footage of his drug addiction. What a tragic story of a brilliantly troubled mind. He was so talented, yet died so tragically young. Sadly, it really isn’t unusual anymore to hear of talented performers dying from suicide or drug overdoses. I wouldn’t wish the life of a performer on my worst enemy.

Then it occurred to me that this is the kind of life two out of three of my children want to have. They want to be performers.

My firstborn, Angel, is in her second year of college for vocal performance. Recently she competed in a very elite competition and was one of the very few students from her college that was chosen to sing in front of an opera star. She never had singing lessons before college. It might even sound stupid, but maybe I never fully realized her talent. She was the only one ever in the history of her high school to get as many perfect scores at state for her vocal performances. Now she is in college competing with students that have had singing lessons for their whole entire lives.

But don’t all parents think that their children are the brightest, most talented, most intelligent children even if they are not? I also had the opportunity to listen to performances of strangers for solo and ensemble. I sat through one of the worst vocal duets I ever heard to look around to see parents recording the blessedly miserable event on their phone beaming with pride.

Parents often wear blinders. Why would I be any different?

My son is going to state for a piece that his piano teacher couldn’t even play the accompaniment for. It has a difficulty rating of 9. She said that it was a PhD piece. The ‘second chair’, who is a senior, played his level 4 difficulty solo from last year and bombed it. It was the song that my son got a perfect score on at state as a sophomore. After my son played his solo this year, the girl’s mother introduced herself to me. She told me that my son is a genius, a savant at music. She went on and on to the point that I almost was embarrassed. What could I say back to her? Her daughter as a talented senior bombed the solo my son aced at state last year as a sophomore. It was awkward.

I have two children that are the top performing musicians from their small town school. They are joining the hordes of a million other talented young wannabe famous musicians who are just as good if not better than they are.

In all honesty, who doesn’t want to be a star?? I sure would love to have 20,000 followers on WP. How about you?? If you have that many followers, how worried are you about continuing to write brilliant posts? Point made.

But do I want the life of a performer for my children?? I am not so sure anymore.

I picture them searching from city to city for a mirage they can’t seem to grasp onto. They will deal with the fear of failure. But guess what? The fear of success is just as terrifying. Rejection. Not having a stable lifestyle. Not having a steady income. The possibility of finding permanent residence in my basement. Not being able to pay off college debt. Maybe being famous? Having to keep performing at a stellar level to keep their fame. The possibility of drug addiction. Fans worshiping them but not knowing who they really are. Haters. Critics. What do you think a beautiful girl might have to do to make it to the top? A life on the road. What about a family? Broken relationships. Constant pressure. The isolation from a lack of anonymity. Broken dreams from not succeeding. Not being able to handle fame.

Why do I worry that it might not go well for them either way?? Didn’t we teach our kids to follow their dreams when we followed ours? Performing is one of the most exciting career journeys that anyone can follow.

Who knows? Maybe it will end well. As I overthink about it, maybe I am just worried because that is what I do as a parent. Worry. Sure, my kids are talented. But are they talented enough??

Maybe not pursuing a dream gives a life of more regrets.

And maybe I shouldn’t have watched that documentary.

Enlistment?

Last night my son told me that he was planning on enlisting in the military after high school.

He has been talking about it for the last couple of weeks ever since we started watching a Vietnam War series on public TV.

My dad was in the Vietnam War.

Times have changed a lot since the 1960’s.

But really have times changed that much?? After watching several episodes about the Vietnam War, it really hit me for the first time how hard the 60’s were. A president assassinated, political unrest throughout the country, violent war protests, young men drafted…

Times were tough for my family then…My dad went off to war while my mother went off to college..While her then boyfriend was at war, her mother died. She had to tell my dad in a letter…he missed the funeral. My mom’s college finals were cancelled because of bomb scares and there were violent war protests out in the streets. My dad saw his buddies die next to him. I can’t even imagine.

My grandparents had to send their only child off to war…My great-grandparents sent their only grandchild off to war…several decades before that all of their children were in the military for WWII.

Today was my grandpa’s birthday. He passed away the year my son was born. Even though they did not have the opportunity to get to know each other, they are a lot alike. My grandpa was full of piss and vinegar. Before I was born, he was a bit of a bad ass. He rode around on his Harley with a cigarette hanging from his mouth. Although he was a small man, people didn’t mess with him. He wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in. My grandma was the only one that could tame him.

I see my grandpa in my son.

My grandparents were wonderful people. They are a big part of the reason why I am sitting here typing this today. They insulated me. I would be a huge mess of a person if they weren’t a big part of my life growing up.

I feel proud of my son. I think this is the right move for him. He would thrive with the structure and discipline the military would offer him. It’s just the mom in me that feels worried.

 

The Chicago drama…

Just a short recap…I got my pants back. Yes! I didn’t have to see Hamilton in PJ’s!

After getting my pants back Friday night, we stopped at the hospital to visit Martha. She was doing a lot better and was moved out of the ICU. I felt a lot better heading to Chicago knowing things were better at home. Plus, I had pants.. There’s that!

I won’t bore you with the trip down to Chicago as it was very uneventful. We checked into our hotel and headed for a late afternoon showing of the Blue Man Group. It was an awesome high energy show.

We took the subway to the show. We stuck out like a sore thumb all dressed to the nines and all. There was a man that wanted money to help Paul get a subway pass. The security guard asked if we were okay. Immediately after entering the subway, we saw a man that had a sign that said ‘Hungry as F*ck’. He appeared to be sleeping. The subway car smelled like piss, but being on it didn’t scare me. I just fear irrational things.

It was bitterly cold in Chicago with wind chills below zero. I broke down and bought myself a hat. I watched the passersby from the window as we ate supper late Saturday night. Young girls walked with streets on their way out in short skirts, high heels, and no coats. There was a group of young guys with pants that didn’t cover their rears. I thought that went out with the 90’s. Guess not? Everyone looked so cold. I finally reached the age were being warm is more important than looking cool.

I had a hard time sleeping at night. I thought I heard someone getting murdered out in the street in the middle of the night. I looked out my window in the morning to see if I could glimpse a body in the dumpsters.

I have also been waking up with nightmares. I have this crazy fear when it is cold outside that I forgot to let the dog back in and he is freezing to death. My son was staying at his friend’s house down the road and was going to be pet sitting. I worried that the dog was out all night. Sometimes at home, I get up to check that the dog is alive and inside. It is a totally irrational fear that I can’t seem to shake.

But you want to hear about the sold out Hamilton?? The musical was greater than I ever expected it to be. Angel sat in front of the computer literally all day the minute the tickets went on sale. She was able to snag tickets for Paul, my mom, her boyfriend Mitch, and I. The tickets had an obstructed view. I had a pole in the middle of my view. Regardless, the show was absolutely awesome. It was worth it!

Then came the long trip back home. We got lost trying to find our car after the show. It seemed like the skyscrapers stopped our navigation from working properly. So we ended up wandering around the streets in our dress clothes in the bitter cold cursing modern technology.

It was so bright in Chicago on the dark night that we failed to notice that our headlights were off. We drove through downtown Chicago and were on the interstate when I noticed that someone opened her car window and was frantically waving at me. It was then that we figured out our lights were off the whole time.

It was at this time that Arabella started calling me. She stayed over at a friend’s for a birthday party and got dropped off at home. She said that she wasn’t feeling well and might have strep. She was feverish and delirious. She complained of being cold. She said that she was going to turn on the oven and open the door to warm up. It freaked me out that she was home alone sick and we were a long way from home.

We finally got home late last night. I checked on Arabella. The house was trashed but the pets were alive. Alex overfed Angel’s fish so that caused a fight. But it was a lot better than our arrival home from Florida last year when our pet sitter was stuck in the snow bank after trying to leave our house that was covered in dog crap, vomit, and urine. Fun times!

I had to take poor Arabella to the doctor today. She does have strep and is delirious when feverish. She was crying and arguing with me about why she should cut her hand off. When asked if anyone else was sick in her house, she responded that the pets were very sick with fleas. She was convinced that the doctor was trying to steal from her. We sure had some interesting conversations.

The saga continues…

 

In too deep…again..

In 2016, I kept track of how many miles I ran and biked over the year. I’m sure glad that is over! Keeping track of it all was a lot of work.

Running: 794 miles

Biking: 298 miles

I also did Jillian Michael’s video No More Trouble Zones 15 times. I am happy to report that my trouble zones are now gone. Thanks Jillian!

This past year I achieved my goals of competing in one 5k, one 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon, and my first sprint triathlon.

Now I am looking forward to a new year with very challenging goals.

I tend to like to dip my feet in the water before jumping in all the way.

I am happy to start with a 10k or sprint because I have learned so much before moving on to bigger and better things. The first race I ever ran was a large 10k. The first mile that I ran I was so terrified that I wanted to run off the course and sit down with the spectators. I wasn’t expecting anxiety. I learned from that experience.

I also learned from my first sprint triathlon. I learned how to ride a race bike which is a lot different from the bike I tore around town in as a kid. I am still learning how and when to switch gears. I relearned balance and speed, but not without going into the ditch on a turn. I learned where to bike to avoid cars. I also learned not to hug the ditch after almost hitting a skunk.

I learned that I am not as good of a swimmer as I thought I was. My two months of lessons as an 8 year old never prepared me for this. At race speed, I had a hard time maintaining a rhythmic breathing pattern. I didn’t take into consideration needing to take breaths more often. I was the one floundering around doing the doggy paddle gasping for breath. I also noticed that my left arm is a lot stronger than my right and ended up taking myself into deep water versus staying on course. To go any further with this, I need swimming lessons and a lot more practice.

More lessons learned..

Yesterday, I signed up for my third marathon. I know that I told you to talk me out of it, but it is too late. I also signed up for my first trail half marathon. I am going to do these events with my cousin.

I also mentioned finding a wet suit for myself on clearance. While I was at the fitness store, I ran into the director of a triathlon on Lake Michigan. He said that last year the swimmers faced 1 to 2 foot waves. Half of the participants couldn’t do it. The ones that did felt like they were on a roller coaster ride and not in a good way. Then the participants had to bike in rainy conditions. It was very grueling and many didn’t make it. The sad part was that I didn’t cringe in terror. Something inside of me said sign up. Crazy!?!!

Yesterday I went on the triathlon’s website just for the heck of it. I noticed that the tri was open for less than 24 hours and was nearing full capacity. That is how I ended up signing up for my first half Iron. Now I am absolutely cringing in terror, but excited too.

Looks like I will have more adventures to share with you (lessons to learn)…