Why is death so scary?
As a Christian, I shouldn't be so worried about dying and what comes afterward.
But I guess the truth is I don't worry about my own death so much. I worry about my grandfather's. He's 91, and for a few months now, I've had the sense that time is running shorter.
He's uncomfortable so much of the time. His vision is worsening. He's tired but doesn't sleep well. His mobility is growing limited, and I think sometimes he's just plain bored of being in his body and still having such an active, brilliant mind.
I worry that he's miserable and unhappy. I wonder if maybe he wishes it could all just ... stop.
I don't know what I'll do without him. I don't know how I'll exist in a world without him. When I go visit my mom and my grandfather's not there, what will that be like? How will I be able to watch basketball--something we've always done together--without him?
I try to focus on what we do have and the time we do share together. But increasingly, when I leave, I wonder if it might be the last time I'll see him.
Conversely, when I hope for him to be here years from now, I wonder at what cost that would come for him. How much more discomfort and ennui must he endure?
I don't know what I think I want to happen. I mean, nothing I want is realistic, and I know that.
He's the best man I know. I love him with all my heart, and without him, I can't envision what life will look like. I'm scared of losing him, but I'm scared of him living a life he doesn't want--a life that isn't worthy of him.
Sometimes I miss him as though he were already gone. I love him so much.
If you stumble into this post, please say a prayer for him. He's the best ever.
Just moved this over from another blog site. Seven months later, I still do think about this race.
When you’re running a half-marathon, you have plenty of time to think. In my case, about 2 hours, 20 minutes.
Yesterday I ran the Cleveland Half-Marathon in 2:21.07. Two weeks ago, I ran the Flying Pig Half-Marathon in 2:22. On March 16, I ran the Jerusalem Half-Marathon in 2:20.
Those aren’t times I can get very excited about, honestly. (My first half-marathon, in Key West in January 2010, was a 1:58!)
But then it hits me: three half-marathons in two months’ time, intermingled with two overseas trips, kettlebell training and a minor leg injury. That ain’t too shabby.
Cleveland was one of my slowest races ever, and also one of my best. I feel like it was as mentally tough as I’ve ever been.
Mile by mile
I hadn’t run a step since the Pig. I decided to register for Cleveland because it had been in my head for weeks and I just wanted to see if I could do it. I knew the course was largely flat, and with my husband running, I knew I’d feel bad if I were just a spectator.
Not unlike at the Pig, the weather in Cleveland was HOT. And in the third mile, I already was thinking about how uncomfortable I was and how much I would rather be doing anything but running. My back had tightened up big-time after kettlebells on Wednesday. My IT band and my hip were hurting. And it was just … so … hot.
I decided to get to Mile 3 and take it from there. Happily, there was some shade and a good amount of crowd support. So I decided to go to Mile 4. Made it! Decided to go for 5 with the hope of 6 — I know I can run a 10k, right?
I took it mile by mile up to 9, when I decided around 9.2 or so to walk. It was interesting, though. I never felt like I was giving up. I felt like I was taking a break I needed to stay strong later. I also knew that from the 10 marker to 11 was the Carnegie Bridge, which I’d handled on a training run in 2010, and I was determined to conquer it again.
And conquer it I did. But just after the 11 marker, I got a little wimpy. There was no shade in sight and I was melting. So I walked a bit more, up until I saw the road bend. With that visual cue, I started running again and kept it up through the end.
That was a big deal for me. I have trouble in the last mile of every race. It’s as if my mind just shuts down on me with anxiety. In the final mile, I absolutely know I cannot finish the race. Bizarre but true.
But yesterday, I found some power in my playlist. The surprise hit was “Always Love,” by Nada Surf. This was its debut on a running playlist; I only recently downloaded it after being reminded of it in an episode of “One Tree Hill.” (OTH is now responsible for three of my favorite running songs!)
In addition to just generally rocking out, I was struck by the lyrics differently than usual:
To make a mountain of your life is just a choice
But I never learned enough to listen to the voice that told me
Always love … Hate will get you every time
Always love … Don’t wait til the finish line
Slow demands come ’round, squeeze the air and keep the rest out
It helps to write it down, even when you then cross it out
But Always Love … Hate will get you every time
Always Love … Even when you wanna fight
Self-directed lives … I want to know what it’d be like to
Aim so high above any card that you’ve been dealt, you …
Always Love … Hate will get you every time
Always Love … Hate will get you
On to the finish
Maybe it was the heat, but I had the thought that that song was perfect for that moment. It was a choice whether to make that last mile a mountain or not. And it was a choice whether to turn that run into an exercise of self-loathing (as per usual) or to decide that, by God, I was going to feel some love for myself and what I was out there doing.
And it worked! It wasn’t easy; I mean, I still was thinking, “OK, when I turn this corner, I have to walk.” But then I turned the corner and kept running. And then I turned another corner and saw the 13-mile marker and the finish line.
I finished the race running hard and strong and rocking out — singing, even — to Shinedown’s “Sound of Madness.”
The mystery of running
It’s odd to me that my time was basically the same as my Pig time. During the Pig, I had a huge mental meltdown at Mile 4, followed by a bunch of other wimpy moments and one more huge mental meltdown in that dreaded final mile.
What it tells me is a) I’m much more affected by heat than I am by hills or even injury, and b) running is just weird and hard. Period. It’s just an unpredictable pursuit. And as my mom suggested on Facebook, maybe that’s exactly why I do it.
During the Cleveland expo on Saturday, Joan Benoit was speaking and made the comment: “Every finish line I crossed, I always found a reason to keep going.”
I loved that. And even though those exact words didn’t run through mind during the race, I did keep finding reasons to keep going.
And so another finish line has been crossed. I’ve run eight half-marathons and one full since January 2010. There might be more in my future — or maybe not.
It’s up to me; it’s my choice. I’ve already aimed high above the cards I’ve been dealt, athletically. I think that counts as a “self-directed” life.
And here's something else I've worked on quite a bit in 2012: a new digital magazine, called Liberty+Vine. Check out our free sample issue, which includes an article I wrote about my experience of running, specifically in the Jerusalem Half-Marathon in March.
Throwing aside common sense and doubtlessly all manner of digital protocol, below are the links to blogs I've written for AmericanCatholic.org so far in 2012. They cover everything from travel to social issues to ... vegetables!
Simple, Beautiful Love
There You Are!
Just Not in the Cards
Babes in Bikinis
What Is the American Dream?
People are Living in Motels
The Beastie Boys: Spiritual Savants
'The Ferrari Might Be Next'
Are You Catholic Enough?
Words of Hope and Wisdom
Are You a Game-Changer?
Another Brick in the Wall
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!
Suddenly I Was Crying
Looking for Lent in All the Wrong Places
Pro-Life? Then Be Pro-Mom
Below are several blog posts for AmericanCatholic.org from my CNEWA-sponsored trip to Lebanon in November 2010.
Quite Literally Powerless
St. Francis Was With Me
Imprisoned By Circumstance
What's in a Miracle?
Live From Beirut
Here is the article I wrote for St. Anthony Messenger magazine -- my first published magazine piece, complete with some photo credits in the print edition.
And here is the special page at AmericanCatholic.org that features the daily Web stories I filed from Lebanon.
Today was one of the best days of my first five weeks at St. Anthony Messenger Press.
After a discussion about branding, I raised some questions at the periodicals department meeting regarding St. Francis and what it means to be Franciscan.
The ensuing conversation, led by Father Pat McCloskey, OFM, was fascinating and inspiring, and I came away feeling like we'd had an "aha! moment" about some key (re)building blocks for our company.
I went through my notes to jot down key points and had an "aha! moment" of my own: This, I determined, merited a blog post.
So with apologies for oversimplification, here are 26 things I learned today about Franciscans, all of which made me feel energized for the work that is to come.
1. Care for creation is a priority.
2. At heart, all Franciscans might be anarchists. (So says Father Pat!)
3. Franciscans believe in accepting the Church, warts and all.
4. They recognize the problems with the Church, but they don't criticize.
5. "Common values, unique expressions."
6. Francis was a free spirit, but his values apply to people who do a variety of things.
7. Franciscans are wary of structure and formula.
8. They trust that a person "is what he is before God -- and nothing more."
9. Humility flows from the Franciscans' honesty.
10. Franciscans can be pretty liberal, generally.
11. They believe God doesn't love just humanity, but he loves each person as an individual.
12. The Church should serve.
13. Franciscans find a thread that connects.
14. They are on a faith journey, and they respect where anyone else might be on his/her journey.
15. "A Franciscan at their best is humble and honest. That's the yardstick."
16. A core belief is respect for creation, stemming from their trust in the goodness of God and their focus on the Incarnation.
17. The Incarnation is seen as God showing humility -- a revolutionary concept when it first was espoused.
18. Inclusivity and simplicity are key tenets.
19. The first Cincinnati friars were former preachers; they somewhat just transferred forms of pastoral ministry.
20. Franciscans embrace St. Anthony because he was a popular (of the people) preacher. They tapped into his following; he was engaged in society differently from Francis.
21. "If Anthony went down to Fountain Square and started speaking, he'd get an audience."
22. "Any whiff of pretense is going to undermine what (Franciscans are) trying to do."
23. Honesty without criticism.
24. Acceptance that the Church is run by people and people are flawed, so the Church never will be perfect.
25. Original Franciscans beat naysayers at their own game by being honest about problems in the Church, not denying them. It was a kind of grassroots reform.
26. Franciscans believe in the "uniqueness of each person precisely because he/she was created by God."
Amen to that.
Over the past eight months or so, I've become fond of telling people, "It's there when you look for it."
Now, "it" might be faith or hope or whatever you need it to be. But it's there when you start paying attention.
Today was yet another example of that in my life. After a tough week at work -- in which I began questioning every professional decision I've ever made -- I woke at 5:30 this morning to run 11 miles. I had the best run of my brief-but-growing running career, the kind of thing that gives me real hope and pride and a sense of accomplishment.
Afterward, I visited with my grandfather, a living miracle in and of himself, and then I drove with my mom's neighbor to pick up a dryer. Mundane? Not at all. Along the way, Chuck and I talked about everything from food to wine to religion and faith, and it was one of the best conversations I could imagine ever having.
So I am grateful for this day, which led me to wonder: What are you thankful for? When you look for "it," where do you find it?
And now to keep with my list-making theme, I need your help. I need 26 responses, on Facebook, Twitter or Weebly, about what you're thankful for.
Take a moment, look for it, and share it.
While I was doing my 10-mile run this morning, I had plenty of time to think about, well, running. And in the 104-degree heat index, I managed to put together the following disjointed list of 26 deep thoughts.
1. I have completed five weeks of my 16-week marathon training schedule, and I feel great about that.
2. From here on out, every Saturday morning run is a double-digit run. Somehow, I find this exciting.
3. Only four more July runs to go!
4. This week, the 3s become 4s. I will miss you, little 3-mile runs!
5. I think it's awesome that the Running Spot puts out coolers along the routes its training group runs -- and then doesn't mind when stray folks like me stop by for a cup of cold water. What a boost that was today!
6. My Shuffle is on the fritz. Booooooooo! I'm dependent upon my iPods, which isn't good, because they're among the least reliable products ever created.
7. So far in my training, I have seen bunnies in Florence and at Lunken. And there's nothing like a fluffy bunny butt to make a run go better.
8. I tried out my new Camelbak today, and I really like it.
9. I learned the hard way, however, not to freeze it overnight. Took a lot longer than I thought for the ice to melt, so I actually ended up running out of water for a bit. (The good news is, the water stays nice and cold!)
10. I'm doing much better not choking myself when I eat Gummies for fuel. I'm thinking not choking to death will be among the keys to finishing in Chicago.
11. Much to my extreme surprise, it appears someone finally cleaned up all the penis drawings on the Taylor Southgate Bridge. And to think: It took them only about 18 months!
12. My right knee still hurts pretty much every day, but it just doesn't matter anymore. It's time my knee starts playing by my rules, and so it will.
13. I'm enjoying my new visor, and I could not be more delighted not to have to wear my much-loathed hat.
14. I'm getting some new shorts, and one pair will be -- wait for it! -- purple.
15. I am reminded every time out that running is at least 90 percent mental.
16. I am so grateful to Sherry Coolidge for being willing to run with me and talk with me and just generally be really awesome.
17. I am so grateful to Adrea Beatty and Amie Bracken (and their pending wee ones!) for running with me, but more so for their continued advice and support and psychotherapy.
18. My training so far has included runs in Canyon Country, Calif.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Cleveland.
19. Oh, man, now I wish I were in Santa Barbara.
20. Sept. 18 is the 20-mile run. I have had that date circled for two or three months.
21. The toughest part of every run seems to be the last mile. It's as if the finish doesn't get any closer.
22. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty shaky about the last 6.2 miles of the marathon. How do I make myself mentally tough enough between now and then?
23. Maggie Jenkins and Mary Soller, I apologize in advance for all the whining you're going to hear from me on Oct. 10!
24. I can't wait to see my Chicago pals when I'm in town that weekend. Where should we eat?
25. PLEASE let me get one cool picture out of this marathon. I have this glorious picture of glorious victory in my head, which proves that hope, however foolish, springs eternal.
26. I ordered my backup pair of purple Air Pegasus, and they're in my closet, just waiting. They are The Official Chicago Shoes. And I don't think I'll ever get rid of them.
Only 11 weeks to go ....
Welcome to my brain! You're likely to find posts about sports, travel, food, wine, media, TV and music. Should be something for just about everyone!