Homesick in Silicon Valley

My son, daughter in law and grand-kiddies came to visit us back in October. It was my happiest time since I’ve been here, but it was so short. I felt deep sorrow and grief when I took them back to the airport to go home. I hold out very little hope that they will ever be able to move here even if they want to. I enjoyed my time with them and tried to live in the moment which I have a tough time doing. For the most part, I dwelled on the day that they would leave.

Arrival at SFO

Santa Cruz Kiddies

I am still working through my “homesick” issues and trying hard to completely adapt to being here. But that’s not coming along as well as I would like. I function like a normal person. I love exploring the area. I love the beaches and ocean. Very few things take stress and sadness away from me like the sight and sound of the ocean. Our financial situation is good. I still like my job and find it very challenging.

But I’m homesick and miss Daniel and Sadie constantly. It’s never far from my mind. It never shows for the most part, but my heart is very sad. I find myself living in the past and crying often. Daniel rarely calls or texts. I rarely hear from my son or daughter in law. I always feel that Daniel doesn’t care to talk to me or do facetime. He just goes through the motions. He used to love me deeply and I always knew it. I know he’s a kid and rather be playing video games instead of talking to his grandmother. I shouldn’t be hurt by that, I suppose. But I’m not reasonable!

Kevin is very patient and understanding. He misses home also. But he grew up here so there is comfort for him in seeing familiar things. But, still, he misses Daniel and Sadie. We both miss our home in Columbia and our apartment in St. Louis. I miss Christmas in St. Louis. I hold it together well for the most part and work hard at trying to get over it. But I’m sad a lot of the time. Especially when I am home and not busy. So, I stay on the go. I do that as a mechanism to help deal with my saddest and homesickness.

I had intentions to go to Memphis for Christmas to see the kids and visit my baby brother who is having some major heath issues. But travel during the holidays is extremely expensive and hard to get decent flights with the schedule that I needed to accommodate only a few days that I had off work. We are planning a visit in March timeframe.

Maybe its just common as people get older that they miss home especially at Christmas. I love the Christmas season. I’m always the early Christmas music and tree person. Kevin and I went to a Christmas tree farm in Half Moon Bay and chose and cut our own. I haven’t had a real tree since I was 11 or 12 years old. I enjoyed doing that. But it was so warm and sunny here, it didn’t feel right cutting down a Christmas tree in shorts and t-shirt!



We had Thanksgiving alone, but we did go to a popular restaurant here that serves traditional Thanksgiving food. It was good, but it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving here. The weather is beautiful so its hard to get in the Holiday spirit.

Christmas is coming soon. California does an excellent job of making it look and feel like Christmas everywhere. Christmas music started early and the homes here in the neighborhoods are decorated extravagantly. Last night we went to a Christmas parade of lighted boats at the marina in Santa Cruz. We then visited the boardwalk to see the Christmas train and decorations. It was cool seeing Christmas lights, drinking hot cocoa and hearing the ocean roar in the background.


I am not writing all this for sympathy or to say that I am depressed. Kevin mentioned how I used to blog often and he thought it might be therapeutic. My sadness comes and goes. It’s not that bad. I do love living here. I have always dreamed of living this life. Kevin and I have plenty of great times exploring the area. Peyton and Eli make our lives better. I think they are finally adjusting to moving here.

What’s not to love about living here. I’m near San Francisco, the ocean, Santa Cruz, redwoods, great weather year around and plenty of things to do that it would take a lifetime to see. Even the autumn trees are incredible here. Snow is near here. I have a good friend who has been gracious enough to offer Kevin and I to spend a weekend in her home in Tahoe which we intend to do soon. I think it’s more of a matter that as I get older and feeling the grip of mortality, that I miss the things that always made me feel young and that was always being around Daniel and Sadie. I miss my brother and sisters. I miss home. I went through this when I moved from Tennessee to Missouri. It did take me a while to adjust. This was such a big move that it might take a little longer.

Santa Cruz or Half Moon Bay is still where I plan on calling home in the next few years! We’d do it soon, but I’m worried about the traffic and commute home from work. I go to work so early, I don’t think that would be an issue…but going home would be a freaking nightmare.

On top of that, I’ve been concerned about potential health issues that has plagued my family including my baby brother right now. I worried it was happening to me. This past Monday, I got great news that I am healthy. A little too healthy, Dr. Li said take off 25 lbs!

Anyway, I thought it was time that I complained about my great life, again!

Merry Christmas, Mele Kalikimaka, Feliz Navidad


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Adjusting to California

This time last year, I was on vacation in California dreaming of the time I might be able to move here. Life can change on a dime.

It has been a little over 4 months since I moved from Missouri to the Bay Area in California. I either have not felt like blogging or had no time to do it. It is hard to sit down and put into words how your whole world changed so quickly and dramatically and how it affects you.

The first month was very stressful. I was starting a new job. I was in corporate apartment that did not feel like home. I was alone. I was so homesick. I missed Kevin, Peyton, Eli, Daniel and Sadie. I was trying to sell my house in Columbia. I was still paying for an apartment in St. Louis due to a lease. I did not really have anyone to confide in. I did make a good friend who happened to be my manager but I could not lay all that heavy crap on her! She would start to believe she hired the wrong person!

I just left a job that I had spent 17 years doing, a house that I loved, an apartment in St. Louis where I spend great times with Daniel and Sadie. Sometimes when I think about Daniel and Sadie being so far away, I get very sad to and it is almost unbearable. I feel like they are out of my life completely. It is even hard for me to talk to them now on FaceTime without crying. I miss playing with them in my backyard and Forest Park. I think of that daily.

I love the ocean, redwoods, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, the Bay Area and everything this area offers. I go back and forth between being super excited that I live in my place of dreams to a depression that is hard to shake off.  I miss Columbia, my house, our beautiful backyard and my butterfly gardens and the birds. However, I miss St. Louis so much that it is hard for me to think about it without crying. I will never see that city again. I feel sure of that. I knew when I left it the last time that I would never see it again. I still keep up with Facebook and Instagram friends from St. Louis. I love seeing the pictures of everything I miss, but it is hard to see them without getting sad.

I did so many special things there with my family. I first went there when I was a little girl with my Mama and Daddy to see the St. Louis Cardinals. I watched Cardinal games with my brother Barry and his family.

I ran this city! I knew this city! I ran so many miles through those streets in the heat, rain, snow and cold. I loved running there. I ran my first 5k there in Soulard. I ran my all my half marathons there. I ran my first marathon there. I trained for the Chicago Marathon there.

I miss Broadway Oyster Bar, Forest Park, Art Hill, The World’s Fair Pavilion, Soulard and Soulard Market, The Hill, Adriana’s, Pi Pizza, Mardi Gras, Llewelyn’s, St. Pats Day Runs, Straub’s Chicken Salad, Coffee Cartel, Greek Fest, Benton Park Café, Off Broadway Music Hall, Tom’s Bar and Grill, Hop in the City and Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale. I miss going to Daniel’s school events. I will miss Grand Friends Day at his school every October. I miss the St. Louis Blues and I miss the St. Louis Cardinals. I miss too many things to even count. The list of what I will miss is almost never ending. I love that city. I always have. The best times of my life were spend in St. Louis. I suffered and recovered from a serious surgery in that St. Louis apartment. I celebrated two St. Louis Cardinal World Series Championship wins in that downtown.

Most people would not know it but this has been an incredibly hard adjustment for me. I am still not quiet adjusted. I can be so depressed at times that I feel like I need help. Kevin has suggested that. Then the next day I am enjoying California as though I am on permanent vacation! I love all this area offers. I have gained weight. I do not exercise even close to what I did in Missouri.

How can I be both so happy to be in a place and so gut wrenchingly sad at the same time?

I love my job and everyone that I work with. They are professional, quirky and personable. This company was very generous in their financial support for the move. If they had not been, I am not sure how we could have done it financially. Kevin and I had set ourselves up pretty well financially for a move like this but it would have depleted our savings practically if not for my relocation benefits. I was fortunate to find such a position with a great company. I work in a place that makes robots for major surgery events! Kevin found a great job that he loves. Our financial situation is good and sound.

We found a very nice neighborhood and house to live in. I have always dreamed of having fruit trees. I have lemons, apples, cherries, loquats, avocados and Japanese persimmons in my yard! Yes, it cost a small fortune to live in but we love it and it is reasonable for the area. However, for some reason, I still cannot feel at home there. Kevin has done most of the decorating, which is not much! I cannot make myself do it yet. I am getting a little better. I have a hard time sleeping which has never been an issue for me. Many times now I sleep with the TV on or on the couch with the dogs just to keep my mind from racing over all the things in my head. My baby brother is very sick and I feel like I am a lifetime away from him. I miss Ashley and Allison. I miss my friend Jerry. I fear my own health crisis if I do not take care of myself.

I question many times if this move was the right choice. Kevin and I talk about it sometimes. I know that I would be miserable in Missouri without Daniel and Sadie being there. Kevin loves it here. He is comfortable here and knows the area like the back of his hand. I love it here! What the fuck is wrong with me?

In my perfect world, I would have brought my house here along with my kids!

I did not take any time off from my last job and drove 3 days straight to California to start my new job. In retrospect, I should have taken a week or so off. Maybe that would have helped with my adjustment but I feared that time in between with no health insurance. In addition, I was paranoid that something could possibly happen like a car wreck or other illness that might put us in debt and especially since, I was driving 3,000 miles with little rest during that time. Then Kevin had a 3 day drive here as well a month after my drive.

So….

I love my job, my co-workers, my house, my neighborhood, my financial position, the area, the sea lions, the otters, the whales, the beaches, the redwoods, the city, the fruit trees, the parks, the diversity of the people and land, the hard working people that make up Silicon Valley.

Here I am in the place that I always dreamed that I wanted to live with the job that I feel very fortunate to have yet I am pissing and moaning like a little bitch.

~ Living the Dream, Sorta ~

Saying Goodbye to My Life

I haven’t written in my blog for a long time. I think the last time was right after the Chicago Marathon. Maybe it was after the Super Bowl. I probably don’t have any readers anymore.

After years of dreaming of snagging that perfect job in the Bay Area of California, it happened. Not only did it happen, I had 2 offers from 2 great companies in the Bay Area at the same time. One was in Alameda and the other in Sunnyvale.

I eventually chose Sunnyvale. The money and relocation package was incredible. The company makes robotic surgery systems and instruments. It’s in Silicon Valley. It’s a coveted position that I never dreamed that I had a shot at. I almost feel like I don’t deserve it.

It all started a few months ago when my son informed me that he and his family was moving back to Tennessee from St. Louis for financial and work reasons. I was crushed but I put on a good face. I knew that day was coming but I didn’t realize it would be so soon.

Kevin and I always wanted to move to California and since they were moving, I thought it might be time for me to look at opportunities. Truly, I never thought it would happen.

I went to LinkedIn and put in notifications for manager of production in California reminders. I never dreamed so many Medical Device manufacturers were in the Bay Area.

I got emails and phone calls for phone screenings, Web-ex interviews and offers to fly out to San Francisco for full day interviews.

This has been ongoing since early February. It felt like a whirlwind and yet a lifetime ago.

Now comes the difficult part. I’ve been in a state of emotional ups and downs since February. I cry daily. It’s not that I’m not excited. I go back and forth between sadness, agitation, excitement and gloom. I pretty much stay in a depressed mood at the thought of leaving everything I love. Everything!

Saying goodbye to Daniel and Sadie are the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m still crushed. That’s a sadness that I will feel for a very long time.

Leaving St. Louis was much harder than I ever imagined. I only lived there part time but I loved that city. I watched my kiddies grow up there. I ran hundreds of miles there. I went to ballgames, hockey games and parties that only St. Louis can throw. I’ll miss hanging out with Daniel and Sadie. I’ll miss picnics with Daniel. I’ll miss going to Tom’s Bar and Grill with him. We had many serious conversations over a beer and lemonade. I’ll miss the bars, organized runs, Forest Park, the Blues and the St. Louis Cardinals. I’ll miss Broadway Oyster Bar, Llyweln’s, Molly’s and Tom’s Bar and Grill. I’ll miss my apartment that gave me a special get away place. I ran my first marathon in St. Louis. 

Leaving Columbia is difficult. Kevin and I had a great life here. I find myself crying as I drive by places that I never noticed before. I noticed blooming trees in our neighborhood.

I said goodbye to my friends at Cardinal Health today. One had been my best friend for almost 17 years. We had a special relationship. He knew everything about my life. And I knew his. He was the person I went to when I wanted to talk about anything. I’ll miss my friend, Jerry.

But the thing that I can’t stop crying about is leaving my house…leaving my yard. I love this place. It’s been my place of comfort and joy for 10 years. It was the only house that Kevin and I have owned together in our marriage.

I’m looking around now crying knowing that in the morning when I leave for the last time….I will never see it again. I’m not sure I’m strong enough. I’m not sure where I will get the strength to leave that driveway. Especially because I’m leaving Kevin, Peyton and Eli. They will come out later in May.

I’m leaving everything I love. I feel weak and frail right now. It’s sad that my entire life will fit into a moving van.

I know that I would be miserable here in Missouri when Daniel and Sadie move away. I know that I would never get a fantastic opportunity like this one again in my life.

But that still is not helping the pain that I feel right now and likely for some time.

I start my 3 day drive there alone in the morning.

I have loved my life here. I love Columbia. I love St. Louis. I love Missouri. I’ve had a great life here. I know new adventures await me in Northern California.

Why am I paralyzed with sadness now?

Be a Champion

This is a story about Tom Brady but it applies to all champions.

First, I want to say up front that I have never been a fan of the New England Patriots. In fact, I’ve pulled against them every single game that they have played since 2001. I’m a Chiefs fan and a Peyton Manning groupie wannabe.

But last night I decided early on that I might root for Brady. My husband raised his eyebrows a bit. I wasn’t for the Patriots so much but as with Peyton, Brady is nearing the end of his great career so with my team out of the running and Peyton out of the game, I thought I could pull for him one time in my life.


Most people know his story if they follow football. No one wanted to draft him. He was skinny and slow and didn’t display any indication of the great quarterback that he would become.

But when he was given a shot, he made it count. Many times, people squander their one chance at being a champion or other things in life. I have squandered so many opportunities. I can imagine that Tom Brady knew that might be his only chance. He worked out, he practiced, he ate healthy meals and wouldn’t even drink alcohol even when his wife was drinking. His teammates couldn’t understand how he maintained his body even in the off season.

He’s as hot as hell but he’s tough. He plays hurt. He played at least one time with a broken bone. He’s been sacked many times and gets up and goes back at it.


He took his one chance and became a champion. From his play on field to his model wife to his perfect kids to his castle with a moat around it. He was far from perfect. He apparently deflated his footballs to a lower than regulation weight. Maybe he was just taking it to the edge of the rules. He wanted them that way and got caught. What was sad to me was that he never had to cheat if he did. He was proven to be a great quarterback. He didn’t need an edge. But again, he is a human. He paid up with his suspension and embarrassment and he went out and played all year as though it never happened. All champions are human with imperfections. That’s why I admire champions. They are all of us.

Being a winner doesn’t mean you are a champion. What makes a champion a champion is that they defy the odds. They never give up. When it gets hard, that’s when you know if they are champions or not. It’s not whether they win in the end but their drive to win.

During the first 3 quarters, I saw a glimpse of Brady on the sidelines and he had a bit of a defeated look on his face. Men with those faces always get to me. I thought the game was over and he was about to be humiliated. Champions don’t let those odds stop them. After that, all you could see on his face was that of a fierce competitor.

He’s a dad, a husband, a son, a patriot and a champion.

I have said in the past that I love winners. What I should have said was that I love champions.

There are many champions in the world. Champions can be soldiers, policemen, people with disabilities, old people, young children, men, women and yes, sports figures.

~Be a Champion, Be a Patriot~

Hip, Hip Hooray for Christmas Vacation

I never got a chance to blog about my Christmas experiences so it’s a little late but……

Due to work load and customer and quality issues, I was reluctant to ask my boss if I could take off that week before Christmas. I had plenty of vacation time left and didn’t want to lose it and also wanted to spend time with Daniel and Sadie.

She was very nice to tell me to take off and enjoy. I spoke with my supervisors and asked them to please take care of things in my absence. I finally have 4 supervisors. The newest guy that I hired is a young Navy vet and particularly impressive.

Kevin still had to work so I had to decide if I wanted to spend my days off here in Columbia or drive to St. Louis apartment and spend as much time with the kids as possible. I was stressed because I still had not done any Christmas shopping so I intended to do that. I had tickets to the “Nutcracker Ballet” with Allison (daughter in law) and Sadie (my almost 4 year old granddaughter). I intended to see the Nutcracker and spend a couple days with Daniel and Sadie and come back home to Columbia on Tuesday to spend with the dogs, Kevin and do some Christmas shopping for the kids.

I received a Christmas package from my Sister-in-Law so I decided I’d carry it with me and open when I got to St. Louis.

I left for St. Louis early on Friday morning December 16. I wanted to leave early because we had tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet for Allison, Sadie and me for the next day. There was no particularly scary weather except for maybe some snow and freezing rain that was headed north.

St. Louis is normally a 1:45 minute drive for me if I don’t stop to pee or get something to eat or drink. There was a bit of freezing rain but to make a long story short, it took me 9 hours to drive to my apartment. It was a weird black ice situation and there were vehicles sliding off the road and vehicles unable to get up any incline. At one point, it was a standstill for 3 hours. There wasn’t a way to turn back nor any way to get off an off-ramp. I was hungry and needed to pee. At the 3 hour standstill, I opened the gift that my sister in law sent me. It was a beautiful Tennessee Volunteer Christmas ornament. My late brother loved the Volunteer football team. It made me cry. She also put candy in the package which I laughingly say saved my life since I had not eaten since 5:30am that morning! It was the most tense and stressful drive I’ve ever had. It was also the most dangerous. I finally arrived at the apartment in STL at about 9pm.

I “skated” over to Whole Foods and got something to eat. I drank the one beer in the fridge to calm my nerves.


And I found out due to the terrible ice storm, the Nutcracker Ballet the next day was canceled. So, my real reason for driving up early was shot to hell. I was told the next available show was the following Wednesday. So, that meant that I would spend the entire week leading up to Christmas in St. Louis.

I intended to make the best of it. So I would spend a lot of time with Daniel and a few days with Sadie. Kevin would drive up on Thursday night with Peyton and Eli so we could all spend Christmas together.

Daniel spend the entire week with me. Sadie spent a couple of nights so their Mom and Dad could shop for Santa. I enjoy every minute that I spent with Daniel. Sadie will spend a while but always misses her Mom and Dad.

Saturday the kids brought over both kids so they could shop. It was so cold. I took the kids to Union Station to visit the North Pole thing they had there. It was nice and a lot for the kids to do. Daniel went ice skating and Sadie played in the snow.

I had a great time with the kids. They always make my life better. I made Daniel’s favorite breakfast every morning. One morning we made Chocolate gravy and homemade biscuits and the next one sausage milk gravy and homemade biscuits. I haven’t made those things since I moved from Tennessee. Daniel loved it! Of course he usually gets everything he wants when he stays with me.


 

He is a good kid and minds me very well. He is funny and a great conversationalist. I don’t think anyone knows that side of him like I do. I just feel good when he is with me. And we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” together. I told him he would have a quiz at the end to make it pay attention and he nailed that quiz!


 

Wednesday came and it was time to dress up and go to the Nutcracker Ballet. Sadie looked like a princess. She loves ballet but I think sitting still was a little much for her. She wasn’t on her sweetest behavior! We had 2nd row seats and soon her Mom took her closer to the back so she wouldn’t disturb others. I enjoyed the ballet as I always do. We can wait til she’s a little older to try it again.


 

Later that night after the Nutcracker, we all went out to a Mexican restaurant to pig out.


So, on Thursday, I took both the kids home. I went back to my apartment and went out for a 3 mile run. It was my first time running the entire time I was up this trip. Kevin drove up on that night. I was so happy to see him and my furry babies.


Kevin and I went out on Friday night to see Christmas lights and St. Louis decorations. I always enjoy going downtime to the City Garden to see the lights. Wheen we got home, I enjoyed a Chocolate Covered Bailey’s Alcoholic beverage and relaxed.


 

On Saturday, the kids came to our place to open presents. My ex-husband (also Daniel and Sadie’s granddad) was up so our time with them was limited. Daniel and Sadie always get a lot of stuff.

I love those kids.


On Christmas morning, Kevin and I had breakfast and went to the see what Santa brought Daniel and Sadie.

Afterwards, we decided to drive back to Columbia. I had missed being at my real home so it felt good to be home. It had been a weirdly strange time for me. But anytime I spend with Daniel and Sadie is always a feel good for me no matter what.

When I got home, I had a package waiting for me from my sweet sister, Barbara. It was a thoughtful gift that I will cherish.


I only worked a few days the coming week. Kevin and I spent a quiet night in our Columbia home and welcomed in 2017! It was a good year and I’m looking forward to 2017 even though I’m a year older!


~Merry
Christmas and Happy
New
Year~

2016…a Wild Rollercoaster Ride


Each year I try to summarize my year whether good or bad…..here goes!

  • I turned 56 years old
  • I interviewed for a job in near San Francisco that didn’t pan out
  • I spent almost 2 weeks of this past year in the hospital
  • I had a cancer scare
  • I had colon surgery where the surgeon removed 12 inches of my lower colon
  • I became slightly hooked on pain pills for the first time in my life (I’m clean now)
  • I started training for the Chicago Marathon 3 weeks after major surgery.
  • I sadly went a whole year without seeing my sisters (Barb, Janice, Bev) and

    brother (Barry)

  • I spent another year enjoying my grandchildren which I never take for

    granted

  • I was blessed another year with a son and daughter in law who are doing a good job raising the most important things in my life and keeping them healthy and

    happy

  • I was rewarded with another year loving and being loved by my furry children (Peyton and Eli)
  • I had my DNA tested and found out that I’m 36% British, 25% Irish, 19% Western European, 9% Eastern European, 6% Scandinavian, 2% Iberian Peninsula and not a

    smitch of Native American blood which I grew up believing that I did

  • I was pleased to spend another year with my best friend, playmate and lover (Kevin)
  • I ran my 2nd marathon in a beautiful, big city…Love Chicago! (Chicago Marathon)
  • I spent time with, ran with and ran the freaking Chicago Marathon with a good friend whom I had never met in person before this year.
  • I experienced a Lou Malnati’s pizza in Chicago
  • I stood under the Big Bean in Chicago
  • I spent another year in love
  • I visited Buddy Holly’s crash site in Clear Lake, Iowa
  • I was less fit than the year before
  • I unfortunately became more unhealthy
  • I continually realized how lucky I am that I met and married Kevin
  • I had a tough, frustrating and rewarding summer training for the Chicago Marathon
  • I spent another 8 days in my favorite place in the world…Santa Cruz!!
  • I hiked in a forest of Redwoods and touched a Sequoia
  • I enjoyed the wild and crazy election season!
  • I was jubilant that the crime family didn’t get into power on the Nov 8 election (I still pinch myself over this)
  • I continue to realize that our current government has betrayed us deliberately
  • I was surprised when my son penned a Mother’s Day post to me that made me cry. I never thought it possible.
  • I ran on beaches in California including a yearly 4k along the coastline on trails
  • I sat and listened to sea lions bark for hours again (one of my favorite California things)
  • I watched a Los Lobos concert while riding a sky lift over a boardwalk
  • I continue to believe that my dogs make me a better human being
  • I felt myself aging quickly this year
  • I still grieved over losing Jimmy
  • I missed Tennessee badly
  • I came to believe that the country has become irreparably divided by race
  • I feared for our protectors…135 police officers died in 2016…up 250% from prior year
  • I was lucky to still have a job that pays well
  • I lost 2 cousins this year who died way too young
  • I was paid for an article that I wrote about my weight loss and running journey as a contributing writer to an online health magazine and have an offer to write another.
  • I lived another year in both my home in Columbia, Mo and an apartment in St. Louis, Mo
  • I spent the best week of my year with Daniel at Camp MyMy in Columbia
  • I visited Daniel at his Summer Camp…his first
  • I gave money to charities and not a single penny to a politician
  • I ran my favorite races this year (Run for Your Beads, St. Patrick’s Day 5 Miler, Macklind Mile and the Chicago Marathon)
  • I dropped out of a Half Marathon (Go! St. Louis) due to health. It’s the first time that I registered and paid for a race that I didn’t run
  • I cherished another “Grand-Friends” day at Daniel’s school
  • I spent more money on dogs this past year than people and that makes me feel good
  • I watched the “Nutcracker Ballet Live” with Sadie and Allison
  • I enjoyed another year at Mardi Gras in St. Louis with Kevin and didn’t get as drunk as the year before
  • I cried when Alan Rickman died
  • I was sad when David Bowie, Meryl Haggard, Prince, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher and George Michael died

This has been a rollercoaster ride of a year for sure. For the most part, I enjoyed it. But a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies “Parenthood” – the one with Steve Martin, not that knock off crap show, sums up the 2016 ride ~


I continue to be blessed more than I deserve. I never take that for granted. My life is far from perfect but without the downs, the ups would not seem as special. I never forget that. My only hope for 2017 is that my friends, family and I stay active and healthy.

I am very optimistic about 2017 both for the country and for myself.

2017……bring it!

An Out of Control “Control-Freak”

“You ARE a control freak” ~ Daniel (my 9 year old grandson)

He said this to me during our first real argument a few months ago. Of course he had heard it from his daddy (my son).

After thinking on it, I guess it is true to a certain extent.

It’s been a while since I have written on my blog. It seems either I can’t find time or have nothing to blog about.

Since the Chicago marathon and really even before it, I’ve lost all control over my health and fitness level. I eat badly, I’ve gained weight and I barely exercise. I’m a bit depressed and I know it’s about my loss of control.

Are You a Control Freak? <—Take the quiz!

After I lost 127 pounds, I thought I knew the secret. During that time my appetite decreased, my energy level was high and I felt like I was 30 something. I have always counted my calories diligently but now I don’t record everything or I undercount the caloric value. Somehow, I seem to think just recording something is better than nothing. My desire for junk food has increased and my old “300 pound Charlotte self” has come back with a vengeance.

I got a surprising report that my cholesterol was high and blood glucose levels are elevated. Not since 2009 when I weighed 300 pounds have I had a worse report.

My clothes are tight. When your Flipbelt gets too tight, you are getting fat!

I feel like an old woman right now. I’m getting age spots and more and more wrinkles and gray hair. I am more forgetful. I don’t want to get old but I’m not doing anything to keep my vitality.

I still count my calories and run every now and then but it’s not the same. I’ve gained weight and I ate like I’d never eat again during the Christmas holidays. Each day is going to be the day that I get control. As soon as my stomach tells me it’s time to eat, I grab junk food.

I used to love running during the winter months but lately it’s all that I can do to get in a run on the weekend. It’s dark when I go to work and dark when I get home. My hours at work are longer and more stressful. I’m making excuses which I never did before. When I get home and feed the dogs, I get in my pajamas, make my dinner and sit on the couch the rest of the night. I really want that to stop.

I miss training for the marathon believe it or not. I’ve always said I was better when I trained even if I complained that I was training. I’ve thought about a personal trainer but I’ve gone that route before and didn’t like it.

I don’t like going to gyms. I had a membership for years and it was a waste of money. I found most people there smelly and rude. They spend time on equipment that I was waiting for texting or socializing. I hate people who grunt while lifting weights or wear too much make up or cologne. I hate people dropping weights on the floor heavily. I hated people bringing their kids (clearly posted as forbidden) and being afraid to do kettlebells afraid of hitting one of them in the head. I grew tired of watching kids trying to use equipment or running around screaming. There was a daycare there but people apparently didn’t want to pay $2 dollars for them to stay there an hour or so. And you know just like clockwork, all those New Year’s resolution Gym Rats will be back in January.

And P.S. – please wipe off your machines when you leave and re-rack your weights. I also detest men with big chest and arms who have bird legs. Do some calf raises for pete’s sake.

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Gym Rat

I would come home from the gym more stressed than before I went. And even still, I have a very nice gym in my basement with everything I need and I still don’t do it.

So, I’m struggling for control again. Wish me luck!

I was contacted by another online running health magazine to do a series of 3 articles as a contributing writer. I feel guilty even accepting it since I don’t feel like a runner right now. I’m a runner in my heart but you are only a runner if you run.

Yesterday, I started again trying to hold myself accountable. I counted every bit that went into my mouth. I ran yesterday. I’m doing well today. But I find myself unusually hungry which is common for a junk-foodaholic, like me.

This is day #2. I need to get control because being a “Control Freak” is better than being an “Out of Control Freak”

RIP George Michael. I fell in love with you in the 80s.

RIP Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) – I used to pretend to be you while playing with my son (when he was little).

“Your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars – The Phantom Menace)

I Am a Chicago Marathoner

It’s been a week today since I completed my running bucket list item of running the Chicago Marathon.


Kevin and I drove from St. Louis to Chicago last Friday. It was a beautiful day for a drive. It was relaxed and carefree until we got into that busy city!

Not only was one of the greatest marathons going on but the President also decided to visit. And then, the Cubs had the nerve to win their pennant! The city was busy, beautiful and electric.


We checked into the Hyatt Regency Chicago for a 3 night stay and our room was on the 29th floor. It was comfortable, in the heart of everything, had a beautiful view and expensive!!

We met up later with my friend and fellow Chicago Marathon, Tammy (VeganRunnerNerd) and her family.

We had a couple of drinks and started off to the Abbott Center to the runner’s expo to pick up our packets. We were told it was a 2 mile walk but it ended up about 4 or so!


Kevin, David and Kayla were going to run the International Chicago 5k that Saturday morning so we had to pick up their packets as well as ours.

I could have spent a long time and a lot of $$ on a normal day at that expo but we needed to get back to our hotel and get some dinner and rest up!

After the expo, we caught the shuttle back to our hotel and had dinner in a restaurant in the Hyatt and we were off to bed for an early morning watching Kevin, David and Kayla run the 5k.

The next morning, we walked to Daley Plaza to watch them run. And the Picasso sculpture in the center is the model for the Chicago Marathon medal!


Due to tight security for the weekend, it was hard for us to find a place to watch them. We finally did find a place and watched them bring it home in Chicago’s first International 5k on Marathon weekend. They did it and we were proud of them. Tammy and I were also a bit envious of the cool knit cap that they got for their finish.


After their run, we explored the city a bit and I finally got to see the Giant Bean!


Chicago is a beautiful city. You hear so much of the ugly things about the crime, murder etc. that people maybe forget how magnificent it is. I totally fell in love with it.

After we went back to the room for everyone to shower up and change, we went to eat dinner at a Vegan restaurant call “Native Foods.” Kevin and Tammy are Vegan so we wanted to go to a place for them. But I will admit, I loved the food also. I also got to meet one of Tammy’s friends “Heather” who I can now call my friend. Hey, all us Marathoners are friends!

I had a Southwestern Vegan burger and it was incredible! I will definitely go back the next time we go to Chicago. And we will. We are already talking about “when.”


After lunch, we went to Field Museum. It was great and so big that you need a vacation just to see it. I’d love to visit again when I have more time. And I met T-Rex (Sue)!


We were supposed to be resting on Saturday but who can do that in Chicago on a beautiful day?

We made use of Uber cabs to take us back to our hotel. Kevin and I grabbed sandwiches in the hotel market and went to our room for a hot shower, leg rolling and rest.

I laid out my running gear (and after long deliberating, I went with the yellow Asics Nimbus shoes) and relaxed on the bed until lights out. “For Jimmy” on my shirt was for my brother Jimmy who died last year. He is never far from my mind no matter what I do and especially running this marathon. I deferred it last year because he was in the last days of his earthly life. When he found out that I canceled, he was upset that I did it because of him. So I had to do it “For Jimmy.”

 



Honestly, I barely slept. So many things were running through my mind. I think I fell asleep about 3:00am and I was awake before the alarm went off at 4:45am. So I knew Sunday was going to be a long day! I went to the 24-hour market in the hotel and grabbed a spinach and egg croissant, coffee and a banana.


We met up with Tammy and family in the lobby and headed off toward the Congress Hotel where Tammy’s charity was hosting a breakfast and kick off celebration.

Due to security, our family couldn’t go with us so we kissed them goodbye and headed to our corral.

It was both exciting and nerve wrecking waiting for our turn to start. The crowds were 44,000 strong and electric.


After about an hour of waiting, we started running.

The crowds, volunteers and spectators were incredible the entire way, even for us slower runners in corral K. The course was flat and the city looked beautiful as we ran through 29 neighborhoods. Each neighbor brought something different for our experience. I had read so many stories about the spectators in each neighborhood but there was nothing like experiencing it. One thing that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face was dozens and dozens of the spectators yelling “Do This For Jimmy!!” that was on my shirt. I know he would have laughed at people calling his name so much. I felt he was with me. 

I felt good for the first half of the course. My speed and enthusiasm was nice. At mile 14 and 16, our families were there cheering us on. We grabbed hugs and kept running.


So then came mile 17 or 18. I’m not sure if it was because I was walking so much the couple of days leading up to the marathon or whatever but at first my right hamstring started feeling tight and then started pulling slightly. Then the left hip started hurting. And then, left foot cramps. As a runner, you understand that one thing going wrong causes a chain reaction and that’s what happened. It really got bad at about mile 22 or so. Had it not been for Tammy, I wonder if I would have finished. I’m sure I would have because I had a similar thing happen in my first marathon but she was encouraging and helped me muster up the stamina and drive to finish.

All of the neighborhoods were great such as Boys town, Little Italy, Greek town, Chinatown, Old Town but 18 street or the Pilsen neighborhood was my favorite of all the neighborhoods. It was the Mexican district of Chicago. My next trip to Chicago, I will make sure to go there and eat and drink and have a good time.

Near mile 26, the city of the Chicago played a “fuck you” game with us and put a hill there! After crawling up that hill, I turned to the left and saw that finish line.

Tammy and I charged toward that bitch! I felt so good running down that hill knowing I would be a Chicago marathoner that I had forgotten the hurting hip and cramping foot. I had forgotten how hard it was to get there. I felt immortal for a short while. But a few minutes later, I could barely walk!

We crossed together and I’m not sure about Tammy, but I burst into tears! The tears were so thick in my eyes, that I could barely see. I went toward the person with the medal and he placed it around my neck. He then said “let me give you a hug!” He gave me the biggest hug and told “You Own Chicago, now”!

Another volunteer handed me a bottle of water. Another wrapped the warming blanket around me.

I hobbled out of the runner’s village and found Kevin waiting for me near the exit. I could barely walk to him but I fell into him crying. We went to the Congress Hotel where Tammy’s charity hosts gave us food, beer and a massage!


To the volunteers, police, firemen, kids, senior citizens, regular citizens, drunk college kids, Elvis, drag queens, dancing dragons, mariachis, hello kitties, Mario brothers, Yoshi and anyone who gave me water, high fives, let me hit the power up button….thank you, thank you very much!!

After the massage, we went back to our hotel to shower and grab a few minutes of rest.


I have never hurt so good in my life!

Now Kevin had researched the best Chicago pizza in the city and he decided he wanted “Lou Malnati’s” and while I haven’t had all pizza in Chicago, this was incredible. I would go back to Chicago just for that! We took an Uber cab there. It was an hour wait to get in so it knew it was good. We went next door to grab a beer while we waited. It was also funny to see all the people hobbling in with their medals around their neck. Everyone earned that pizza!


Afterwards, we told Tammy, David and Kayla good night and goodbye until next time we see each other.

I lay there in that comfortable bed looking out the window at the city of Chicago. I was euphoric and felt accomplished.

I am so happy that I got to share this experience with Kevin, Tammy, David and Kayla.

I could write forever about this 3-day experience…. but I’ll spare you!


26.2 at the City By the Lake

It’s less than 6 days and I think I’m ready…

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Saturday was my last long run before the big one on this upcoming Sunday. I ran it through downtime St. Louis and I felt amazing during this run even with the St. Louis inclines!

I ran fast and strong the entire time. I even felt that elusive “runner’s high” that we all seek. When the run was over, I couldn’t stop thinking about how good it felt. At that moment, I felt I was ready for 26.2 miles.

It was cool and cloudy, my favorite kind of weather so I knew it would not suck too bad. Downtime St. Louis was very busy and they were having an event there “Sista Strut STL” ` Breast Cancer Awareness

So I felt like I was in a special event! Beautiful and friendly crowd that was colorfully dressed so that’s my kind of event!

I do love running in downtown St. Louis and Forest Park.

Afterwards, we went to watch Daniel play soccer for the first time. His team got demolished but I laughed so much. Kevin and I spend the rest of the Daniel and night with Daniel and Sadie.

We went to the hill to eat Italian….well, because I’m card loading! haha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last weekend, Kevin and I went to Iowa so I could visit and run with my friend Tammy. It was wonderful to finally meet her even though I felt like we have been friends for years. She and I visited together on that Friday afternoon and met up with her husband (David) and her awesome daughter (Kayla) and her friend Riley. Kevin and David hit it off well. We went to “2 Dogs Pub” Friday night for beer and food.

Tammy and I ran 10 miles together the next morning in her hometown. We are running the Chicago marathon together and we are great running partners as we both discovered. I’m excited to cross that finish line with her.

After our run, we all went out to lunch together at “30 Hop.” It was a great visit and it felt like saying goodbye to an old friend.

See you in Chicago, Tammy!

After that, Kevin and I drove 3 hours northwest to visit the Iowa city of Clear Lake. It’s the famed place of the tragic plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. They performed that fated night for the last time in a club in that little town. Kevin is a music lover and historian of sorts. He is particularly a fan of Buddy Holly. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great visit to Iowa and we’ll be back.

The Day the Music Died (Marathon Training and Such)

It’s less than 3 weeks until the Chicago Marathon.


Last weekend was my biggest and most important training run. It was scheduled for Saturday but I needed to see my Daniel and Sadie (grandkiddies) which I haven’t seen since Labor Day.

They usually spend the Saturday night with us when we are at the apartment in St. Louis. But I could only spend a day with them in St. Louis because I needed to be back in Columbia in order to rest up for my 22 mile run on the MKT trail.

I can never spend enough time with them but we tried to cram as much fun in with them as possible.


I will be glad when this is all over so I can spend quality time with them again. They need me and I need them more.

But, the time is very near and I can get back to enjoying my life and enjoying running again.

Training for a marathon is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, honestly. I could not even enjoy my Saturday night knowing that I would spend a big part of the daylight on Sunday running plus there’s football on Sunday.

I am now happily in the taper part of marathon training so my miles are going down significantly especially the long run on the weekend.


Now about my 22 mile run…..

It was about 70 degrees when I started but the temps would rise to about 85 or so which is too warm for me. It wasn’t as humid so that was good. I always do my over 10 mile runs on the MKT trail which is a beautiful trail that leads into the KATY trail. It stretches across the state of Missouri.

Kevin always rides his bike with me on these runs because it makes my run more comfortable with him carrying my water, food and other things that I may need. It also makes me feel safer if I get hurt or sick for him to be there. He usually doesn’t stay that close to me and gets to enjoy his ride. He keeps my hand held water bottle full and circles back to see if I need fuel.

But on this morning, I wanted him to spend some time with the Peyton and Eli (my dogs) and give them a nice long walk after their breakfast. Dogs get neglected because of marathon training also.

He dropped me off at the trail head and went back home to walk the dogs. He loaded up his bike and came back to the trail to catch up with me. By then, I had already gone almost 11 miles and was about to turn around to head back. I was getting a little worried that it took him so long but I had plenty of water and fuel. There are 3 water and potty stops on the way. I didn’t stop to potty but did stop to fill my bottle.

I had a respectable speed going (for me) until my toes starting hurting at about 18 miles or so. It seemed my toes were hitting the toe of my shoe causing pretty significant pain. And I had just bought these shoes a half size bigger than the others. I think my socks were too padded at the toe. I don’t want to buy more shoes. I still have some experimenting to do with socks/shoes maybe.

I hate headphone cords. They bother me and cause me to get agitated on long runs. So I decided to try out my Denon Exercise Freak wireless headphones. They fit perfect and work well for the most part. But it ran down my iPhone quickly so I ran out of music at mile 12 or 13. That’s not good. I need music when I run alone.


But I did bring my iPod Nano and headphones stuck in my sports bra! And I got it going and it screwed up. It kept skipping music and playing over and over even though I had it set on shuffle. At about mile 18 or so, I just held it in my hand to keep it from skipping.

So for 12 miles or so, it was easy peasy. It turned to crap after that!

At mile 20, I filled my water bottle, paused my Garmin and was going to decide if I might call it over at 20 and walk the other 2 miles. I saw it as a win/win or a lose/lose anyway because my run was supposed to be 20 miles anyway. But I quickly decided that I would run the last 2 miles. Honestly, with my toes hurting, it felt just as good to run as to walk.

I finished 22 miles!


I walked around a while afterwards while Kevin loaded his bike up. I always have a fear of getting in the car and having those very painful thigh cramps that I get sometimes.

But I did not cramp up the entire day or night.

When I got home, I took a long shower and Kevin made me a couple of bloody marys while I finished watching the Kansas City Chiefs get beat by the Texans!


Even the dogs pampered me.


Later, Kevin rolled my legs and made a delicious dinner. I slept well and work up with no real soreness the next morning and went to work.

I was supposed to run 5 miles last night after work but I came home so tired that I was asleep before 8pm. I forgot to set the alarm and woke up at 6:30am and was supposed to wake up at 4:30am. I also had a terrible headache so I just stayed home.

I started feeling better and got in my 8 mile run on the trail even though it was very warm. I came home and walked the dogs and mowed the yard.

Back to work again early in the morning. I have 5 miles on deck for tomorrow night.

Kevin and I are going to Iowa on Friday to meet and spend some time with my friend Tammy at VeganRunnerNerd. We are going to hang out Friday night and get up on Saturday morning and have a 13 mile run together. I’m excited to finally meet her. We are running the Chicago Marathon together.

Kevin and I will leave for Clear Lake, Iowa that afternoon because my hunny wants to visit the place where Buddy Holly’s plane crashed. He is a huge fan of Buddy Holly. We will head back to Columbia on Sunday afternoon.

~That’s All Folks~