Monday, May 13, 2013
Imagine you were a competitive runner in high school, and 27 years later you still hold records. You were invited to train with an Olympic coach who believed you would make the U.S. team. It was discovered you had a heart condition, and you learned that dreams die hard. You pushed past that disappointment, became an athletic trainer/physical therapist, and at age 40 still love to run, back pack, zip line, and do anything adventurous. In one second, your life changes again when you are in an accident. You destroy your left knee, both bones close to the knee are crushed into dust, and you are told you will never work or walk again. You weren’t surprised because you had already self-diagnosed at the scene of the accident and knew the extent of your damage. You suffer multiple complications from the accident including repetitive pain syndrome, blood clots, and inflammation throughout your body that causes additional health concerns. For five years, you draw on strength from God, what you’d learned from long distance running, and the medical knowledge you gained from your chosen profession. You reuse to quit or give up hope, and have fought through extreme pain. Your athletic determination moves you from the couch, to a wheel chair, to a walker, to walking without assistance. Walking again is a bitter-sweet victory, because you have been advised to walk as little as possible to save your mobility. Every step grinds away more of what is left of your knee and leg bones. Doctors think they might be able to give you one knee replacement, which could last 15 years, but there is no guarantee they can attach a replacement. There might not be enough bone to anchor it too, and a failed attempt means a certain end to walking. Each step you choose to take is one less you might be able to take in the future so each step must be spent wisely.
You have just imagined life in my sister’s running shoes. On May 5 of this year, my sister, Juleigh, celebrated the 5th anniversary of her accident. She made the emotional decisions to celebrate by walking in the Not Your Average Joe’s 5K this past Saturday. Joshua and I decided that there are some things in life that are too important to miss. There was no doubt that we had to drive the 13 hours to surprise Juleigh and walk beside her. There were 100 reasons why we shouldn’t have. Crazy deadlines for work, the price of gas, the Sunday morning commitments we couldn’t miss, having to turn right around and drive right back home late at night – the list could go on and on. But there are some moments in life to precious, too profound, too miraculous to miss. My parents, Joshua, and I showed up at the race wearing “Team Juleigh” t-shirts, and I am sure those around us wondered why there were so many tears. There was no way they could understand what she felt when she heard the gun sound as she once again stood on a starting line or what I felt starting beside her in the race instead of being in my usual place, cheering on the sidelines. Others might not have noticed how she automatically picked up the pace when the first runners lapped us, but we all knew that if life wasn’t hard they would be chasing her instead. It was only right when she and Joshua, also a long distance runner, pulled away from me as they targeted and schemed to overtake each group of walkers that were just a little bit ahead. As I followed behind, I stared at the back of Juleigh’s bright yellow shirt, and I cried. I am the big sister who was there to see her very first step as an infant, and later could only pray she would have a first step again. And there she was – once again where she belonged. Better, stronger, faster, tougher, braver - life’s winner. My second 5K was my sister's second first 5K. A new kind of race that marked a milestone in life bumpy road. A race that wasn't about the time at the finish line, but about staring the rest of the time we have to live in the face and saying we will fight and overcome. For me it was a trail of tears to celebrate and give thanks for miracles, remembered past pain, enduring love, and a prayer for the road yet to be conquered. Life is a race my sister will always win. I am so proud to be a part of her team.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Well – I did it! I completed my first 5K and discovered my five new 5K Philosophies:
· I am thrilled that so many friends joined me. Many of them also finished their first 5K today. It was fun to hear them say they decided to do it because I was. I readily embrace my calling to be the person that makes people say “Well, if Larla can do it, I can!” 5K Philosophy 1: God has called us to be a Barnabas (encourager) even through our greatest weakness.
· I wasn’t the last ones across the finish line, but I think that everyone behind me accidentally walked an extra loop. 5K Philosophy 2: We don’t all run the same race in life but we all eventually reach the same finish line.
· My goal was 1 hour. I finished in 1 hour and 27 seconds. I could have been an over-achiever and beaten my goal (please appreciate the irony of that statement), but it would have meant leaving friends behind and not taking our picture at each mile sign. 5K Philosophy 3: Life’s race is too short to miss walking beside a friend and celebrating life’s mile markers.
· I ran a few races in track in Jr. High but only because there was no one else available. I always lost, but that was OK because no one ever expected me to win. 5K Philosophy 4: Finishing a race is winning.
· Today I wasn’t nervous about finishing because Pat had already walked the path with me two weeks ago. 5K Philosophy 5.1: Fear runs once it’s faced.
· The highlight of the day was seeing my Pat, my Joshua, McKenzie (Joshua’s girlfriend), and other friends cheering as I approached the finish line. I wanted to slow down to make the moment last, but instead I ran (in public for the first time since who knows when). 5K Philosophy 5.2: Ten seconds will always take 10 seconds to past by, but the love of friends and friends can propel you farther in those seconds then you've ever traveled before.
Monday, April 01, 2013
My life has been like a DVD player the last few weeks. There have been two very important events that caused me to hit the RECORD button so I can treasure them forever. First, my son, Daniel, got engaged to his girlfriend, Clare! What a precious memory! Daniel and Clare are looking at December 2014 for the wedding so I now have the perfect long-range goal to hit and maintain my final weight loss! The other exciting news is that my niece is going to have a baby! This little one will be the first great-grandbaby for my parents, and we are all so excited! I must admit that I am determined that this first great-niece/nephew will never wonder if I’m his/her great-aunt because I am GREAT big. It will obviously be because I am the greatest great-aunt ever! (Yes – I plan on doing my share of spoiling! That means there had better be a lot more gone by this December for that “First Christmas” family photo.)
The main reasons I haven’t written for a while is because life has been on a crazy FAST FORWARD. My sweetheart, Pat, has been sick, both boys had Spring Breaks, Joshua was in two fine arts competitions, work has been crazy, I took a business trip to TX, and there were some days I think I forgot to breathe! (I wish I could have used the rewind button in TX. I learned the hard way that when you are losing weight you should try on clothes as you are packing them. If you don’t, some items that were OK a couple weeks ago might be too big to wear!)
Unfortunately, my weight loss has decided to hit the PAUSE button. It’s almost like the minute the Chairman’s Challenge ended my body said – “OK – you made the goal, now leave me alone and let me rest for a second!” It’s all good because I have been holding the same weight for the last few weeks. This slight break has really helped emphasize to me that the life change really is about health. I’m sure that the weight lost will start again soon, but 32 pounds lighter is not a bad place to pause!
I’ve also had a chance to PLAY. Last week I had a date with Joshua. I taught him how to play racquetball just like I taught his dad so many years ago. I was pretty amazed how much more competitive I was with him than when I play Pat. Those first games will probably be the only time I can legitimately claim to have “schooled” him in any sport so I didn’t let that opportunity pass.
A quick glance at the calendar is warning me that the FAST FORWARD is going to continue. There are trips to a state and a national music competition, college visits, Royal Family meetings, and oh yeah – my first 5K in just 20 days. I must admit that I am tempted to hit the EJECT button on that idea, but I am going to reach for that POWER button instead!
Saturday, March 09, 2013
So my honey took me courting this morning! It has been 23 years since we had a date to play racquetball. It was a blast. I’ve always enjoyed playing racquetball because it’s a valid sport for me. Unlike tennis, if I hit the ball really crazy, it can only travel so far before it hits a wall and bounces back somewhere close. A tennis ball, on the other hand, will leave the court, sail over the fence, fly across a four lane road, and into a yard. (Trust me – I know these things!) Racquetball allows me to keep playing a game that involves a racquet instead of a game of fetch.
I have always loved the intimate feeling of leaving the rest of the world behind and spending time together on the court. The health club court has a tinted widow along the top of the back wall. Half way through our time we realized that the widow is in the wall of one of the hospital’s waiting rooms and there were several shadows watching us play. (So much for privacy.) I am sure we were quite entertaining.
Here are the highlights of our date:
Longest volley: 13 hits
Approximate percentage of the balls I successfully returned: 50%
Percentage of the hour I spent laughing at myself: 75%
Most commonly used phrase we said about our own good hits: “That was lucky!”
Most commonly used excuse for not going after a ball: “I was afraid I was going to hit you.”
How many times I hit myself with the racquet or the ball: 6
Where I hit Pat with the ball: Dead center of his forehead.
Where Pat has a really red mark that looks like a giant hickey: Dead center of his forehead.
Pat’s quick, witty retort: “Next time I’ll remember to wear a hard hat with my safety glasses.”
Most romantic thing said on our date: “I love you as much as I missed hitting that ball by.”
Romance is alive and well! I see many racquetball dates in our future.
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