Monthly Archives: March 2016

ALONE ON A MOUNTAIN

When I was 15 I had my first “boyfriend”. Then I had a boyfriend every year for the rest of my life. Before I met Patrick I spent some months alone. Going out with friends and to parties as a single girl. But other than those months there has been very little time since I was 15 that I did not have a boyfriend.

 

This past week was our Spring Break. What an amazing friend I have that let us use her family’s vacation house in the mountains, on a river for a few days. It was my idea of a dream. Hiking all day, beer at night, quiet, peaceful views of a full moon. And a lot of alone time on a mountain.
I think I always had a boyfriend because I thought being alone wasn’t ok. Or maybe I was insecure. Or unsure enough of myself. That I “needed” another person to confirm that I was worthy or lovable or whatever. I know there’s a lot of psycho-babble crap that applies. Im not sure I really liked myself all that much. I guess we all struggle with our self esteem. At least I did. Ive said this before but dear God I love my 40’s so much more than my 20’s or 30’s. I told my Mom yesterday before she left to go back to Dallas that I am happier now than I think I’ve ever been. Then I took the long way home from the airport. And turned the radio up very loudly and drove. Just drove. Alone.
There are not enough words on the planet for how much I miss my Dad. And how much I miss my Grandfathers. And how much I miss the guy I married. Lots of men gone. Or going. When Patrick & I first married we lived in Austin and hiked and biked every single weekend. We were very active. He did some biathlons and lots of bike races and we went to the gym a lot. I loved having a partner that enjoyed the same things I did. He is not that guy anymore. He is different. I love that he has a trike and can get out there on his own or with me chasing him on a 2 wheeler and do his thing. Have some freedom. But it is different. And I look at couples and sometimes get sad. Or hope they realize life is not promised.
It is the strangest thing to grieve someone when they are still alive. Your physical body is so much a part of who you are on this Earth that as it changes and fails you there is a grief. A loss. I remember when I realized I’ll never hike with my husband again. I’ll never climb a mountain with him. Ill never go mountain biking with him. Ill never do a lot of things we used to do. And even though you know Brain Rot will take those things it is still shocking how fast it all happens. It makes me sad. I rarely hike alone. I have a posse. My girls, my sisterhood of women is unbelievable. I cannot imagine life without them. I don’t know how a woman doesn’t have other women in her life. How lonely. I’ve always said…if a girl doesn’t have some seriously loyal friends, and I mean the kind that would bury the body and never tell, then she’s not the kind of girl I’d be friends with. I’ve buried some bodies. With some sisters. And it will die with me.
So I am so grateful for those hiking partners and friends and women and trouble makers. But I’ve never really REALLY hiked alone. I even took a partner up Pikes Peak. So this past week at the vacation house I decided I was going to go on a real hike alone. And let me clarify. I get the feeling some people think “hike” is synonymous with “walk”…. IT. IS. NOT. I ascend 2,000 feet in elevation at times, scurrying and bustling over large boulders on edges of cliffs. I am ready for mountain lions. I am at times lost. I lose the trail at times. I HIKE.
I took a long hike one day this past week. Alone. I got lost. I bouldered. I crossed the Arkansas River. I got scared. I lost the trail. I sat and had a cry. Then I got up and kept going. When I wrote about my climb up Pikes Peak last summer I wrote that instead of “finding” whatever I thought I was looking for on that mountain that I “left” some things instead. Things I needed to leave. Well. I think maybe I found some things on my Spring Break solo hike. I found out Im really strong. I found out I never “needed” a boy. I found out I like myself. I found out I will be ok. I. Will. Be Ok. Sad things are ahead. But I can hike alone. I can survive alone. I can do “alone”. I don’t want to. I didn’t want to lose my hiking partner, my biking partner, my security. But sometimes we don’t get the things we want. And falling down in the middle of a mountain to cry about it is ok. It is ok. As long as you eventually stand up. And keep moving. And I came out at the end of the trail, the hike, the bottom of the mountain, stronger than when I started the ascent. I went up that mountain alone. I came down that mountain alone. And I’ll do it again.
I wouldn’t change things about my early life. But I would certainly tell that girl how incredibly capable and strong she will be some day. And that she CAN. She can do it. When you can be alone with yourself, no one around, no one to share the moment or the view or the scenery or the feeling with and still be genuinely happy, genuinely filled with joy, contentment and PEACE….you have learned to live.
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A FINE LINE

I’ve always been a tad competitive. I’ve always been hard on myself. I’ve always been hard on others. Im working on all of that. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being competitive…it pushes me to be better. But I need to ease up on myself and others.
Being a TEAM LEADER, having a team of coaches to lead in my Beachbody business, has certainly shined a light on some of my shortcomings. I lack patience. I sometimes lack empathy. I lack the ability to give a shit at times. I can be inconsiderate and not have grace for people at times. I blame my parents. Or Obama. Or the environment. Or whatever. Ha. Its no one’s issue but my own. This damn coaching thing, leadership thing, is forcing me to GROW. Its annoying. I was perfectly fine in my cynical, sarcastic, low expectations of others-self. Or I wasn’t.
I build walls. People have certainly broken my trust and hurt me in the past and I don’t have the most trusting nature to begin with so being a little “rough around the edges” seemed acceptable. As my kids get older & I see some of these traits in them I am rethinking all of that self defensive behavior. I don’t want them to shut everyone out or build too many walls. Its a protection thing. When you let someone close or trust someone and they hurt you…it’s natural to not want to feel that way again and protect yourself from that. But….as I’ve said before…if you build walls to keep the “bad stuff” out you also keep the good stuff out. And thats just no way to live.
So Im pushing my team of coaches to further their businesses and reach the giant goals they’ve set and GO FOR IT! This Beachbody business has become a financial freedom tool for me and my family. Many coaches wake up on Thursdays (pay day) and get to dream of quitting jobs or paying off mortgages or buying a better car. Its all awesome. I dream of big things too. But on paydays I actually think of medical bills and future expenses to take care of my husband and how I’ll manage alone. So a lot of emotion comes with that. I feel mad and sad and angry and jealous and irritated and cheated. Of many things. Of a future I don’t get to decide on. And all of this crap explains why I lack a little patience with my team sometimes or with those that come up with excuses for not working out or eating right. In my honest opinion…there is absolutely no excuse. None. I have friends in wheelchairs working out, friends who have terminal cancer working out, friends who lost a spouse just a few weeks ago working out. There’s just no such thing as an excuse.
But there are reasons people get stuck where they are and I am learning that empathy, sympathy and understanding are qualities I need to work on to help other people. To help my team grow. To help my kids succeed in life. So I walk a fine line of that girl that climbs a mountain and that girl that chooses sitting with a friend in need at the bottom to comfort her. I hope my kids and my team and my friends understand that I am still a work in progress. That at age 43 I am still learning and trying to be better.
There’s a drive in me that I cannot quiet. I like it. It pushes me. It gives me a purpose each day and puts my mind on other things besides Brain Rot and cancer and Thyroid disease and shit. It is the reason I will continue to grow a successful business. It takes a little edge and thick skin to do that. But I actually have a heart. And feelings. And people hurt them sometimes and make me sad and I need to let that be ok. I need to show that Im human and there’s some soft stuff under the hard shell. Because there is. More than people know.
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CHOOSING HAPPY

My husband has Brain Rot. OK its technically called Spino Cerebellar Ataxia but we call it Brain Rot. His cerebellum is shrinking. There is no cure. There is no treatment. It is so crazy rare that there is no money for research. The doctors have said “enjoy life while you can”. Thats always a good thing to hear. My daughter has a chronic pain disorder, Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease. My son has terrible ADHD and struggles with school. I have an autoimmune disorder that causes stomach problems and caused MANY miscarriages…some I had very late term. There are definitely days I crawl under the sheets and cry. And want to just sleep. There’s days I cuss. There’s days I want to punch people who are lazy and complain but have no real reason to. But most days…MOST days…are amazing.

Immediately following Patrick’s diagnosis in 2012 we decided we were going to move to Colorado. Ive always wanted to live here. My Dad loved it here. We vacationed here as kids. And Patrick wanted to be outside doing OUTSIDE things for as long as he was able. And in the process of this move I found mountains and hiking and friendships and myself.
We all have our shit. All of us. There’s not really anyone who escapes suffering or loss or pain. Its part of life. So I have, we have…choices. Choices when you are dealt a crappy hand. It is definitely a CHOICE to be happy everyday. Damn its a CHOICE to get out of bed every day. A choice you make. Somedays I cuss a lot. Somedays I cry. Somedays I want to get in my car and drive. Far! But thats just somedays. What makes it all worth it is the OTHER days. The MOST days. The good ones. And there are a lot of them. Hiking, friends, trips to Cabo, mountains, lunches, moments with my kids, watching her cheer watching him play soccer, watching deer walk across my yard, talking to a friend….all the little stuff. Thats actually the big stuff.
When I was young I used to sit and watch my Dad change the oil in the cars in the driveway. I actually never knew until college that there were places that you could pay to change your oil. I thought all Dads just did that. And the garage radio would be on blaring CCR or Led Zeppelin and I remember feeling this sense of comfort and safety and HOME. HOME. I don’t think its a place anymore. I think its a feeling. I love when I get that feeling.
Patrick is getting worse. Slowly. Slowly. It is little things. Balance is worse. Speech is slightly worse. But God dammit he is fighting it. He lifts weights and modifies and does the workouts we have and builds muscle strength to help with balance. But we know the reality. So there’s an update. Some have asked. Im not yet to the point Im thankful for Brain Rot. Not sure Ill ever be. It’s a tough one. But I am to the point that Im grateful for what its taught me. Patience. Love. Acceptance. Ok Im working on that patience thing.
Life is so beautiful. So sad and tragic and heart breaking and gorgeous and full of joyous moments and beautiful people. You just have to choose to look out for the GOOD things. Find the pretty people, the people who are beautiful INSIDE. Find the gorgeous moments and the places that make you happy and go there. GO THERE! Dont wait. Dont hesitate and god dammit stop thinking so much.
When I went public with Patrick’s brain rot in July of 2014 someone wrote me a very rude letter about how I was handling it wrong. I saved that letter. I wanted to throw it away. It was pretty bad. But…I kept it. It is a reminder of how NOT to be. How NOT to act. What Un-kindness looks like. I may be “handling” this all wrong but its the only way I know how. And Im happy. Very VERY happy. And THAT is what matters. I think this growing up thing can suck sometimes. But I have become a different person because of Brain Rot. Because my Dad died. And I see the good in that. Learning to find the good within the bad is a pretty cool thing.
Love life. Enjoy life. Grab life by the balls and run! LIVE!!! I choose happy.
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