Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thought 40: Wrapping it up like a bow . . .

For each blog, I have taken time to look back at a year of my life and highlight a moment, a happening, or a feeling that stood out to me. Well, if you have been following along the past 39 blogs, you know what happened the year I turned 40. It has been an amazing year running, living, loving, and learning. I am still living it as I am only two months into my 40th year. I can't say I have been doing a lot of running the past couple of months, but I deserve a break, right? I sure think so and so do my legs. I will join the rest of the new gym memberships in January with a renewed spirit and focus. Now time for another treat!

What a ride this last year has been for me. I have to say I am proud of myself for seeing this journey and blog to the other side. I have put myself out there in a new way and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I have often heard people remark that people who talk about their medical issues and other problems are "complaining" or "not strong." I can appreciate the need for privacy and that is something different. Up until the past few years, I didn't want to talk about any of my experiences. However, I don't think strength is defined by how well you stand alone or keep things to yourself. I think it is important to have people in your life that can share your worries and burdens, as we all have them. I think the more we all can share and talk, the more we can lean on each other and help each other. I would never want anyone in my life to feel alone.

So, this is what I hope this blog has been for you. I have felt alone so many times along the way, even though I had loved ones holding my hands. I share my story with all of you to show that it is ok to be afraid, but you don't have to be afraid. You are not alone, no matter what worries you. I just hope some part of my story shows you that is true.

I have mentioned before that I struggled for many years like I was standing at the start line, unable to move, and everyone was zooming past me. And this is what this journey has been for me. I am no longer at the start line. I am running the race and living my life. The funny thing is, I have always been living my life . . . my life. I have tried so many times to will myself internally to move on, get over it, or not accept everything that happened to me as part of my life. The self talk I have had with myself over the years is brutal. What I have learned over the past year is that there are no amount of words that will get you across the start line. It's all about action. You don't have to run a marathon to wake up your life. You just have to stand up. You have to invest in yourself. You have to keep moving despite the fear. You have to have hope.

So, that is what it is about for me . . . hope and faith. No matter what your obstacle is in life (or obstacles), you have to have hope - hope that things will get better. I have asked the questions, Why me? Again? When is it my turn to be happy? When will it get better? I don't have the answers to those questions. I never will and neither will you. There is not anyone out there that is alone in finding life to be really hard. When I see senseless deaths around the world, friends losing spouses, parents losing kids, I would say my problems have been minor. But I don't think it is about what I have gone through, but what I have learned from it. If I have inspired or given hope to one person through my writing, than I would say this journey was a success. A year later, I stand tall as a 40-year-old woman feeling hopeful about my future and that of my family. If I wrote these last 40 posts and no one read them, I would be happy, because I wrote them, read them, and am healing from them.

My blog "40 thoughts for 40 years" is now complete. I feel so good about it and walk away with a happy heart. I look forward to continuing to write and finding new ways I can impact the world. I know my mom is looking down from heaven with a big smile and proud heart. Her strength gave me the gumption to put my feelings into words and my words into actions. She will be in my heart always. Thank you mom.

So, 40 years, 40 blogs, hundreds of miles, lots of sweat and tears, never enough laughs, and $10,226 raised later, I say thank you. Now that I have finished this blog, you might ask, what am I going to do? WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!! (Shhhhhh . . . Megan doesn't know yet.)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to each of you. I hope the new year brings hope and love to your heart and peace in this world.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Thought 39: Staying thankful . . .

I spent my 39th year doing a lot of mommying and a lot of running. We took Megan to Walt Disney World for the first time with our dear friends, where my girl Jean and I ran the Disney Half Marathon. I made the commitment to run a full marathon and share my story through this blog. We traveled to Virginia to see my cousin be ordained as a priest. We played on the beach and in our front yard. We attended two 20 year high school reunions. We conquered potty training. We enjoyed going to Clemson football games. We welcomed a new nephew/cousin to the family. We found our rhythm as a Hubbard trio and a new sense of peace as a unit.

Being thankful. This is a challenging concept to explain or instill in a child. We have talked a lot with our Megan about what it means to be thankful and what we are thankful for, but it is a feeling that will have to be understood over time and with maturity. I think it really isn't something you can explain with words. Actions always speak louder. I know some like to use the month of November as a time to talk about what makes them thankful leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I am going to use Thanksgiving as a starting point for showing Megan what it means to be thankful as she learns more and more about this feeling. I think this is what the holiday season is for me - giving to others. I have been inspired by a great article on the Smyrna Parent blog that discusses acts of kindness for kids and toddlers - a different look at the Advent season ( I want to model "being thankful" to my daughter, and hopefully the holidays can be a starting point for "staying thankful" all year. Why can't we bring cookies to the fire department on a Tuesday in March? My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back. If I can raise a daughter that believes that giving back and being a good friend is the most important things in life, I will feel like a success.

I am thankful for lifetime friendships and there is one that has not made it into my blogs yet. For over 20 years, Bob and I have called Kris and Kay Watts our best friends. We were in each other's weddings in 1997 and we all met as young kids at Furman University. Kris and Bob are fraternity brothers and Kay and I are sorority sisters. But most of all, after over two decades of friendship, we are family. We are godparents to each other's children and, although we live states apart, we make time to connect at least once a year. We have gone through life's ups and downs together and Kris and Kay have been there for us through everything. I will never forget Kay getting on the first plane from upstate New York to fly to Florida to be there with me after I lost my mom. We spent last Thanksgiving together at their home and being with them is like being home.

Speaking of lifetime friendships, our circle with Kris and Kay is part of a greater circle of Furman friends that we are counting on growing old together. My blog would be incomplete if I didn't share the immense impact that our college friends have had on our lives. We have all grown up together. Kay wasn't the only one that showed up in Florida on that difficult July morning 5 years ago. Here they all came, walking up to me at my mom's funeral - Lisa, Madison, Keri, Shawn, Michael, Jay, and Kate. Whether we are eating Indian food, celebrating a new baby, cheering on our Paladins, enjoying a Soby's brunch, laughing over old stories, or being there during the hard times, our Furman family is a huge part of our story. Looking forward to that retirement community together!

I am thankful for today. I do not know what the future holds. No one does. But I want to be thankful for today and every day before that brought me to today. I am most thankful for my Bob and Megan. I am thankful for my my dad and brothers and my mom watching over us all. I am thankful for my Hubbard family. I am thankful for all my nieces and nephews - I now have 5 nieces and 3 nephews! I am thankful for my Nabors, Cavanaugh, Boulineaux, Johnson and Alley families. Whether I have known them since 1974 or 2014, I am thankful for all of my friends. I am incredibly thankful today for my good health and to all the professionals that have helped me get to today. I am thankful for good test results. I am thankful for the small moments - hearing my daughter sing in the back seat or watching her eyes open with surprise seeing the church Christmas tree light up. I am thankful for cups of coffee that bring a grateful smile. I am thankful for a warm bed, a full refrigerator, a husband safe at home, my independence, and my right to stand up for what I believe in as a woman.

There most certainly are times, periods, and moments in life when it is hard to feel thankful. Sometimes it is just impossible. I have faced those times and it has taken everything in me on those days to find a thankful heart. Today, however, I am a lucky, grateful, thankful Susie, and no matter what happens, I hope this statement can always deep down be true.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thought 38: What I want to be when I grow up . . .

By this time in my life, I was used to a few curve balls. But I will never forget the spring day in the park when my doctor called me to tell me I had renal cancer. I learned quickly it was operable, but I have never experienced something medically that felt so out of left field. I had what I hope is my one and only kidney stone in May 2012. If I had not experienced this, I would never have had the follow up CT scan that showed a small mass on my left kidney. The later MRI confirmed the mass was malignant. I was terrified. How and why did my body create this? The next month I met with a wonderful surgeon who was able to remove all of it and only take a small part of my kidney. It was the easiest surgery physically and one of the hardest emotionally. While I was recovering in bed, I learned of two friends in their 30s that passed away from cancer. My 38th year was full of joy, love, and fun with my Megan and my Bob, but wow, nothing like a curve ball to knock you down. You just have to make sure to stand back up. 

For some reason I had a hard time with Megan turning four this month. We had such a good time celebrating her, but I was just so emotional. Where has the time gone? She is growing up too fast! I know most parents feel this way. I have just loved the time I have had at home with my Megan the past four years. I just don't want our fun, carefree time to end. I am good at being Megan's mommy. It has been my world for four years now. But what about the other parts of me? 

Megan will be in Pre-kindergarten next fall and going to school five days a week. So, it's time for me to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I have really enjoyed writing on a regular basis over the last year. So, I would love to find a way I can do that more. My background is social work, although I spent the five years before Megan as a full time fundraiser. But the past four years have changed me. The last year of reflection has changed me. I miss working directly with people, with children. I know what a quality program looks like and how to raise resources to support it. But I do want to carry out the work too and I think I am good at it.

I have always wanted to be in a helping profession since I was a kid. There have been years when I fought that instinct and thought something else sounded better or easier. But it is time for me to do what I want to do and not what I think I should do. Right now, my instinct is telling me to look into medical social work. I think that with my own personal background and love for children, working in a hospital setting would be a good match. I know it will be emotionally difficult and hard on my heart. I did not become a social worker because it would be easy. I was built to give myself to the world in a way that would make a difference. I think this just might be it. I am going to take this next year to talk to social workers in the field and figure out if a hospital setting is a good fit for me. I will need additional training. Whatever I end up doing next, I hope this time next year I am on my way to jumping in the deep end again. 

I am terrified to go back to work. I don't know what I will do not being around my girl every day. I see friends go back after their maternity leave or some time off all the time. I know she will be fine and I will be fine. It just makes my heart hurt to think about this precious time together ending. I will miss seeing my mommy friends on a regular basis, but I know those friendships are greater than play dates and trips to the park now. I will have them forever. But what I am finding with my Megan time, it's get better with every day and every year. 

I am excited to go back to work. There is a big part of me that I haven't explored in a long time. It has always been a big part of me to do something in this world that is greater than myself. After a lot of medical problems and scares, I am still here. I owe it to myself, my family, and all of those that I have lost in my life, to give back and do something great. Although I am 40 years old and still figuring it out, I plan on being here a while and doing my best to give back. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thought 37: Ripping out the plug . . .

Staying home with Megan has been such a special experience. I cherish the time we have had together and the opportunity to be a part of all her milestones. The year I turned 37 years old was full of  play dates with new friends, stroller walks to Starbucks with my super mommies, music class, trips to the Zoo, quiet time playing on the floor, airplane trips to see family and friends, beach time, library story times, reading books, and lots of snuggling. It has not always been easy of course, but whatever rough moments I had were overshadowed by the joy. I don't just love being a mom, I love being Megan's "mommy" or "mama."

I swore I would never get a smart phone. No touch screens for me. I just wanted a regular cell phone and was not interested in all the extras. I always thought it was too much and unnecessary. Time passes and now I can't seem to live without it. Really? I remember when I kept a cell phone in my glove compartment in case of an emergency when driving to and from college. Now my phone is something I might as well attach to my body. Why do we get sucked into all this technology? Is it really necessary?

I think I am past the point of no return now, but it is up to me to decide how much I will allow it to be part of my day. Confession time - I look at my phone a lot during the day no matter where I am, even in my car. I don't text and drive, but I have been known to check my email or look at Facebook. Ugh! I'm so embarrassed that I have let these things creep into my every day. I look at my phone in front of my daughter and text in front of her. She likes to play on my phone and iPad more than I want to admit (although I think I am pretty good about limiting her time). I don't want to be that person - the one that is missing out on what is in front of her because I am plugged in somewhere else. Is there really a reason to check our email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else more than once a day? The answer is no.

I like being there for family and friends and doing what I can to be supportive of their lives no matter what is happening. I feel like if I get a text or email I have to answer it right away or the other person will wonder why I haven't responded. Truthfully, some texts are that way and need an immediate response. But I need to realize that it is more important to be present where I am and less important to stay connected to my phone in case someone shares some information I want to respond to or show them that I "like" it. It really comes down to family time and me knowing and wanting to be connected and present with my Megan and Bob. Everything else will just have to wait.

So, I am making the commitment now to rip out the plug and put my phone away. I will always answer the phone and respond to texts at my first chance. Email, Facebook, and other apps will have to wait. I will allow myself to check my phone when I get up and before I head up to bed. I will no longer be immersed into my phone around Megan and I will no longer check my phone once I get in bed at night. At some point you have to disconnect and shut down for the evening. I am ripping out the plug and it feels good! It's sad that I have to do it in the first place. So, if you need to reach me right away, let's go old school . . . Call me!

The bigger question for me is why do I have such a hard time being present in my life. I have always struggled with yoga because I have a hard time focusing on the moment and not allowing my mind to wander. I am a worrier and heavy thinker and I'm always thinking about what needs to be done or if there is something I should be doing. I hate to think of time I may have lost with Megan because I allowed either a phone or unnecessary task get in the way of quality time. I just have to slow down. I want to focus on my life from the inside out. Be present at home. Embrace my time with Megan and Bob. Cherish my times with friends and family. Get outside whenever possible. Finally, put down the phone unless I am turning on the "princess songs" station on Pandora. Sounds like a good plan, right?   I am committed to being more present and I know my family and I will be happier for it. Who's with me?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thought 36: The best pain of my life . . .

At 36 years old I became a mother. My Megan Joan arrived in my arms less than a month after my birthday and my life received a whole new breath of fresh air. My heart was full again as we all knew that my mom, her Meme, sent her to us. Along with my wedding day, it was absolutely the best day of my life. Becoming a mother changed me forever and Megan's presence in my life has made me a better person. I decided to stay home with her full time in the months following her birth. It was difficult walking away from The Carter Center, but I have never looked back. I have loved being a stay-at-home mom and I am forever grateful that I had the option to make that choice. A few months after Megan's birth, I was connected with my Super Mommies, who will forever be some of my very best friends. Motherhood is a gift and I had to keep believing and waiting until it was my time. We had to wait for our Megan, and it was SO worth the wait! 

Speaking of very best days . . . let's talk Chicago Marathon! I have never been so at a loss for words than trying to talk about this day and all the gratitude I feel. It has taken me two weeks, but I am now getting back to both running and writing. I have such a hard time putting into words the feelings that came from my marathon experience and all the events around it. So many people have asked me if I will run another one.  There is no way I could ever top that day. As I sit here at my computer and listen to my marathon mix, I will do my best to share some highlights and feelings from that most incredible day.

I arrived in Chicago on Friday, October 10, after dropping Megan off with family in Kalamazoo and taking the train into the windy city. I was so excited to stay with my second mom growing up, Marnie, and her wonderful husband Bob. She has a beautiful home in downtown Chicago and she made everything feel just like home, as she always has as long as I have known her. It was so fun to stay in the city with friends and have the chance to surround the weekend with loved ones.

Bob and I met up with Bob's parents, Rob and Claudia, and then headed to the Chicago Marathon expo. We took a "free shuttle ride" from the Hilton Chicago, or I should say we took a school bus ride from a driver that was taking this route for the very first time. The ride took about 20 minutes longer than it should have, but we made it. It was so much fun to see the marathon experience come alive as I picked up my packet and took advantage of all the fun photo opportunities. I have never seen my birthday date blown up so big and it hit me that the marathon was not the only thing happening on that Sunday. I was thrilled to meet my contact, Kim McEvers, from the Les Turner ALS Foundation at the charity tables. By the end of the weekend, I had raised $10,201, with a very special friend making sure I hit that $10K mark. I could not be more grateful to everyone that helped make that number possible. After seeing the Chicago Tribune article that reports that Northwestern University doctors think they have found a cause for ALS  (, and watching what the foundation is doing through Northwestern to advance research and patient services, I could not feel better and more proud about where all the money raised is going.

The weekend was spent resting, eating a lot of good food, and enjoying some of my very favorite people, including Bob's parents, my dad Bob and his friend Nina, our hosts Marnie and Bob, and Bob's boss and our dear family friends, Larry and September. Yes, we had three Bob's in our group. My Bob worked so hard with Marnie to make every meal and detail of the weekend perfect and I am beyond grateful. Here is a picture of our wonderful Friday night dinner out, but the fun continued on Saturday with a must stop to Lou Malnati's pizza for lunch. Marnie and Bob were so generous to host us all on Saturday night at their home for a carb-loading pasta dinner where we could all relax and enjoy each other's company. I had been receiving pictures and videos all day from friends wishing me good luck. I was feeling good and so complete. I was ready to run.

And then this happened . . . 

I am still at a loss for words about how touched I was that all four of these ladies made the trip to Chicago to surprise me. My super mommies!! I could not believe they had been planning this since July. Although they were not all present, these four represented well, two flying from Atlanta, one from Raleigh, and one driving 5 hours from St. Louis. To say that I love them is a huge understatement and I am so honored and proud to call them, along with all my super mommies, some of my very best friends. I was always told that the friends you meet when you start a family will be your friends for life. I know this will be true for me and I am a better person having them by my side. 

Race day! One of the best things I can say about my 26.2 miles in the beautiful city of Chicago is I felt prepared. As many times as I questioned myself during my training and whether I was doing enough, I felt so incredibly prepared. I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, but I was still very anxious waiting to begin. I was just really excited. It was a chilly start, but most people, including myself, started shedding the layers before their feet crossed the start line. I could already see volunteers walking around to gather all the clothes left behind to ensure they were donated to people that needed them. It was nice that my start time was not until 8:00 a.m. (or more like 8:23 when I finally crossed start) as the sun was up and the temperatures already started to rise. The weather was sunny and beautiful and the temps stayed in the high 50s - a runner's dream!

I have been to Chicago numerous times and have always loved it. But I have never seen the city like those 26.2 miles and was just blown away. I love how you can be in the city surrounded by skyscrapers and then in a neighborhood on the next block. The people of Chicago were amazing and there were spectators throughout the entire race. I have always run to the right side of the street. I loved every person that put their hand out for a high five and I took every opportunity to high five them back, especially the kids. The diversity of the neighborhoods and the people was so exciting to me and truly made me feel better about our country. For a lot of the race I was running near Team Palestine, who ran the whole race with a giant American flag and Palestinian flag. They were raising money for Palestinian children and always had a lot of energy and team spirit. I felt the energy and spirit from the crowd and fellow runners and it gave me so much motivation throughout every mile. 

But when it comes to spectators, I had the best team out there! I felt like I was flying through the race, and was able to run a faster second half of the race because of my moving cheering section. I knew they were all out there somewhere, but I never knew when, where, or if I would see them. Since I was one of over 45,000 runners, I figured it might be pretty difficult. I didn't wait long as I saw my Bob, Bob's parents, and Marnie and Bob before I even hit mile one. I passed the corner where Marnie lives, and there they were with all their signs and love. I was so pumped. I continued down the road not even a half mile and there were my girls, with matching t-shirts!! I was already crying and I had not even run 2 miles!  

The race was a blur in a lot of ways and I don't know exactly what mile I saw my loved ones, but I know it was at least four times. I saw my girls at mile three and my Jean jumped out and ran with me for a mile. I was so excited to have some company, especially from someone who was already my running buddy. It's like they just popped in and out of my race and it was always at just the right time. Many people have asked me what was the hardest part of the race, and I would say it had to be around mile 10 and 11. I guess it just hit me how far I still had left. I knew I could do it, but wow, it was going to be the challenge I expected both physically and mentally. I had my sites set on mile 14 because I knew I would see my charity team there. I did not have my name visible on my singlet, but I had a few people shout out "Go Run for ALS" throughout the race, including the MC as I crossed the start line. It made me feel good to be representing something bigger than myself. 

In order to see me at different points in the race, my loved ones had to jump on different trains to get to various points on the race course. I loved learning that my Bob and my girls were talking and then I see around Hubbard Street that they all joined up. What an amazing jolt for me! 

I am not going to lie, I was in pain once I hit the double digits, but it was an overall leg pain, which was fine with me. I just did not want any targeted pain like I have felt in the past. My body held out, but the pain increased a lot as the miles continued and I stopped several times along the way to stretch. Around mile 22, I saw my crew again and my Leslie jumped out and told me she was running with me until mile 26. She helped me bring it home and it felt so natural since she trained with me a lot this summer. I have always looked up to her as a running mentor (and many other ways) as she has run 7 marathons herself. It was amazing to have her there with me to the end. We did not even talk much. It was just about taking in the moment and I was so grateful to have her support when my mind and body were being tested the most. 

I was experiencing the best pain of my life and I was about to complete a goal that I have been working toward for so long. I made the big turn at mile 26, which is where my dad and Nina were standing. I knew they were all there and that carried me another .2 miles. My mom's spirit was with me every step of this race, but I looked to the sky at this moment and felt her presence as I crossed the finish line. I was speechless. I took some steps and then I started taking in the moment. I stepped to the side and let the tears fall. I did it!! I am a marathoner!! 

It was a very surreal feeling walking the almost mile to meet up with family and friends. I was so emotional as I had my medal put around my neck and I continued to walk, while my legs were tightening up more and more every second. I was not hungry. I was not thirsty. I was just floating along thinking, did that really just happen? Did I really just run a marathon? I am still living in that surreal reality. The experience and day could never be topped. I had all my friends and family there, whether in Chicago or in spirit. I felt love from all over and I have never been so grateful. I could not be more proud of myself that I completed what I set out to do, and with a time I am really excited about hitting! 

After about two hours of celebrating and walking back to get a cab, I sat down. The force of this day on my body hit me like a train and I felt awful. I spent the next two hours taking in fluids and calories and taking some time to rest. Whew. I just didn't want to get dehydrated. My second wind came through and we all headed out to celebrate the day. I was now 40 years old and a marathoner. Not bad I would say. Surrounded by friends and family, I enjoyed a bone-in ribeye (you heard me) and an amazing evening with some of my very favorite people. Thank you to everyone who made this extraordinary weekend possible and all the plans and work it took by each person to make it happen. I am thankful for every word of love, encouragement and support that was sent my way. It carried me to the finish line and what is a new beginning for me as I take on my 40s! 

I will take my last four blogs to digest this experience and what's next for me. I do not have all the answers, but I have never been more ready to start figuring it out. My girls told me about a sign they saw on the course that really touched me - the person that starts the marathon is not the same person that finishes it. I could not agree more.

My Leslie made an incredible video for me, looking back on the past year and my journey to this point. I would love to share it with all of you - Thank you Leslie!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thought 35: A word of thanks . . .

At 35 years old, I faced my lowest low and highest high in the same 12 months. I struggled so much with the loss of my mother. I still do. Three weeks after she passed, I had a full hysterectomy, which was a delayed procedure with everything going on surrounding her passing. I came to terms with it pretty well, actually. I think I was just in a fog. The day my mom passed away, I had the chance to tell her that Bob and I had decided to move forward with adoption. Later that year, after my 35th birthday, Bob and I met with The Adoption Consultancy and were on our way to becoming parents! I think going through that process was therapeutic for me in dealing with the loss of my mom, although it was so hard to not have her there to experience it with us. We spent January to May of the next year getting approved and completing all of the paperwork. I will never forget standing in Kinkos for four hours laminating numerous copies of our 12-page adoption profile page by page. Bob and I sat together for many hours in Panera Bread with our laptops working on forms. We were approved in May 2010, and just two months later, we received the phone call that changed our lives. Megan was on her way! We will always believe that a special angel named "Meme" sent her to us. 

I came across this picture of myself yesterday when going through some old pictures. This was my first swimming ribbon at my first swim meet. My mom said I waved and smiled the whole time. Essentially, this was my first athletic competition! I finished my last two miles this morning of marathon training. I am now ready to finish packing, head to Chicago, and lace up for the most challenging athletic competition I will face in my lifetime.

"I Run Like a Girl. Try to Keep Up" -- Thank you my Allison

"Limitless" -- Thank you my Leslie

"I Run to be Fierce" -- Thank you my Jean

I embarked on this journey to the Chicago Marathon over a year ago. I registered in March and signed up with the Les Turner ALS Foundation at the same time. I will never forget walking with a dear friend on a North Carolina beach in August 2013, and sharing my idea of writing this blog and running this race. It feels so, so good to have done exactly what I set out to do. But, I sure did not do it alone. I feel like I must express my thanks now, because it is the journey that brings me so much gratitude. 

It is impossible to single people out as I know I would miss someone. I am thankful for the encouragement, love, inspiration, and motivation. I am thankful for both the words and actions. I am thankful for motivational quotes before every long run. I am thankful for the high fives. I am thankful for those that have run before me and next to me. I am thankful for the stories of those I don't even know but feel so connected to by hearing about their journey. I am thankful for those that took care of Megan while I needed to run, including playdates with friends and a dedicated husband who gave me every Saturday morning. I am thankful for surprise parties at ballet classes. I am so very thankful for every dollar and every person that contributed to my personal fundraising goal for the Les Turner ALS Foundation. You should all feel so good about where your dollars are going and the amazing work that will be done with them. I am thankful for "Super Mommies." I am thankful for siblings that have not only provided me "courage," but also the keys to making this experience a success. I am thankful to all the roads I have traveled in multiple states - Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Michigan. I am thankful for family and friends that supported me every step of the way. I am thankful for all the posts, texts, likes and messages. I could feel the love behind all of them. I am thankful for solutions to obstacles. I am thankful for pink socks and a niece that inspires me to step out. I am thankful for a safe journey. I am thankful for a body that stayed strong and healthy. I am thankful for all the "moms" in my life. I am thankful for inspiring running shirts from dear friends. I am thankful for the sharing of music. I am thankful for the response from my blog and for all of those that shared my words with others. I am thankful if I was even able to touch one heart or provide some hope.    

Some people like to making a running mix and listen to it in a particular order, with timing songs to play at particular points in the race. I actually love the unexpected and always put my mix on shuffle every time I run. I enjoy hearing the songs in a different order each time. I like to imagine that some songs play just when I need them, especially when many of my songs remind me of particular people. I read some great tips about the Chicago Marathon this week. One of the suggestions was to take the hardest miles, the last 6.2, and dedicate each mile to certain people as a way to stay motivated. I have decided to do this and want to share it here. The first 20 miles are for my mom, who I dedicate this race to, and I hope to honor and make proud every day. Mile 21 will be dedicated to my dad, the person that instilled in me the drive, compassion, and gumption to make this goal possible. Mile 22 will be dedicated to Bob's parents, who have always treated me like their own daughter and been there for me in every way the past 20 years. Mile 23 will be dedicated to my brothers, Mike and Steve, who are a big part of the person I have grown up to be and I know would be by my side whenever I need them. Mile 24 will be dedicated to my Hubbard Sibs, who inspired me to run in the first place and are there for me every day with love, encouragement, and inspiration. Mile 25 will be dedicated to my Bob. There are not enough words for what he means to me or what he has brought to my life. He is my everything and I will love him with my whole heart forever. Mile 26 will be for me and how proud I am of myself for taking on this challenge. And the final .2 miles will be dedicated to my Megan. The distance may be small, but it will give me the biggest smile. Chicago or bust!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thought 34: A case of the butterflies . . .

In looking back at my 34th year, I was trying to think about what happened. After figuring out what year it was at that age, I came to a halt. I was 34 years old when my mom passed away. I never saw that coming in 2009, or at least my denial didn't let me see it. I have already talked about losing my mom in past blogs and I won't repeat that here. I just miss her like crazy. We used to talk every day on the phone, sometimes multiple times. She still has an entry in my phone and I still have one voicemail saved. I was driving home last night and almost reached for my phone to call her. It still feels like a natural thing to do. I just miss her and would give anything to talk to her. October 4 is her birthday and I will smile thinking of her and enjoying what I hope will be a beautiful Fall day. Happy Birthday Mom. I love you. 

I should have run 8 miles today - my last long run. But Mother Nature decided to interrupt my plans and bring on a rain storm. I could have gone inside and run it on a treadmill, but I am not doing my last long run in a gym. I love running outside too much. So, it looks like my last 8 mile run will be in Clemson, SC, where we will be this weekend for our favorite Fall family tradition . . .  football. Go Tigers! I have run many miles in Clemson throughout this journey, so it will be a beautiful place to take on these last few training strides.

All of a sudden this week I started getting really nervous about the marathon. I just feel sick to my stomach. It has hit me like a train. I am so excited about the experience, but I just can't seem to shake my nerves. Will I really be able to finish? Have I prepared enough? Will I forget to bring something with me? Will I wake up in time? I know it will all be fine, but I feel like I am about to take a big exam and worry that I didn't study enough. I know some of it comes from fatigue, but my mind, body, and spirit are starting to take in the significance of this moment for me. I have been training for something for over two years now, which is a lot of running and commitment for someone who never initially saw herself as a runner. I have been committed to this marathon goal for over a year and I can't believe the time is almost here.

When it comes down to it, this is not about running for me. It's not about a medal. It's about showing myself that I am strong enough and can do anything I want as long as I put in the work. It's about showing myself that I am ok. I can trust my body again, even if more hiccups come my way. I don't need to be scared anymore. I can say out loud that I am healthy and I will be ok no matter what else comes my way. I will not jinx myself. It's time to move forward with confidence and without fear. It's about sharing my story and touching the lives of others. It's about hope.

I am a competitive person and classically put too much pressure on myself. I have had multiple people tell me not to worry about my time and that just finishing the race is the victory. I know all of this and I am trying to let go of any expectations I have for myself. I'm sure once I am out there I will know that I can do what I can do. My goal over the next week is to stay healthy, enjoy my last few short runs, love my family, eat some good food, HYDRATE, and not over pack (I am a classic over packer). There is not a whole lot I can do about the nerves, but I can channel that energy into fuel and excitement.

This time next week I will be in Chicago. I am so excited I will have my Bob, Bob's parents, and my Dad and his friend Nina waiting for me when I get there. I am also thrilled we get to stay with my favorite "lady" Marnie, who has literally known me my whole life. Not that I needed the reminder, but I am certainly blessed with the most amazing family and friends, from all parts of my life.  I guess we all need the reminder.

So, I have come down with a case of the butterflies. It's nothing serious, but it sure won't help me be a better packer.