Kissing Skates

I’ve had the idea for t-shirts for some time. We all know this. Katie and I had one each made for us for our marathon in Duluth but no other shirts.

Today I actually took a step towards doing something about getting it done as a fundraiser. I contacted a local clothing store than offers custom printing and apparel with no set up fees and no minimums!

I explained my story and that I am looking at fundraising for next summer’s inline marathon season.

They asked if they could get back to me after the holidays with some ideas and I said definitely as there are still 193 days until the first marathon (not that I’m counting).

There will be t-shirts, hoodies, maybe even sweatpants. A portion of each sale will go towards which ever cancer charity we choose. Currently we are considering several charities and looking forward to narrowing it down to one or two. If we do two, it’s most likely we will include a local charity that gives a yearly cash grant to all local cancer patients.

So, in my head it is a “Cancer can kiss my skates” with either inline skates or ice skates for a graphic. Down the leg of my pants (either sweats or race pants) it can just say KISS MY SKATES.

I’ve already had one woman tell me to hit her up when we start our fundraising next year and she will gladly sponsor our shenanigans. I’m pretty sure I know of at least one other business that will be interested in furthering our fundraising efforts.

It is time…my frustrations and anger at cancer are real and I’m taking my life back.

Five days a week I am on the ice for an hour skating laps, doing power turn drills, squats between the blue lines, hard charging the corners, skating on one foot between the blue lines, deep cross-overs all the way around the rink…all in an effort to increase my balance, my core strength, my cardiovascular health, and my speed.

I’m taking my life back, one push at a time. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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When I am Quiet

When I am quiet (I know, it’s not often…bare with me). When I am quiet and focus on the sacrificial life I have led; putting others before myself; doing things I’d rather not when I know it is for God’s glory; I’m at peace.

Sure, I still have crappy days (you know…like earlier this week) I also have days where I look at my bank account and it holds $100.00 more than it should. This has happened on more than one occasion and I have no explanation for it; apparently God just shows up at my bank and deposits $100 a few times a year. Always at exactly the right time, always when I am desperately desperate.

There are just no words for when things like that happen in my life.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, four days after my first chemotherapy treatment my car died. It had gotten me to Rochester several times (384 miles one way) plus over 1000 miles back and forth to Fargo jus since the end of October. It had led a good life.

The following day, I received a call from the local Chrysler/Dodge dealership. The voicemail was a salesperson asking me to call him as soon as I could. Great, I thought, he knows my car broke and thinks I can buy a new one.

When I returned his call, fully prepared to tell him I had exactly zero dollars and thanks but no thanks; I was brought to tears. Somebody had heard about my vehicle and had paid for a 2003 Dodge Caravan on my behalf with the only stipulation that it be anonymous.

I’m still driving that van, and the local paper even did a story on me and he boys and our situation and our Secret Santa. It’s got over 230,000 miles on it and leaks oil bad enough that I never need an oil change…I just add fresh stuff and change the filter now and then.

I’ve been stressing over finances for some time, especially with both boys having their birthday’s come up, Christmas, plus finding out their dad was not going to help pay for hockey after already committing to the season.

My very next paycheck, I had miscalculated…I had anticipated 10 less hours than I actually worked so my paycheck was bigger than I expected. When I looked in my bank account, there was the extra $100.

So as I am recalculating and figuring, I plan for the young one’s birthday party…waterpark with two friends. I always give him an option, more friends, less fun or less friends and more fun.

After understanding God’s got this and I make the plans…two friends offer me Buy one-Get one coupons for the waterpark that they can’t use! So…I’m letting the older boy also bring two friends and having his party as well (his birthday is three weeks after his brother). Today I went and bought them both new Nerf guns as the ones they have are over three years old and have served their purpose well.

When I take the time to sit down and count all my blessings, the other noise in my life goes silent. There is nothing as great as God. He promises to take care of His children.

Tomorrow, my tiny miracle will turn 10…what an awesome kid! To celebrate his birthday we are headed to hockey to play his first game of the year at 11:00 am and then watch one of his friends that is coming play his game (starting at 1pm). Then we are all headed to the waterpark for an afternoon/evening of super fun!

Today, we took 30 cupcakes to school to share with his class. Tomorrow we are bringing 15 cupcakes to hockey for his team, plus picking up a cake for the party. If this kid is not sugared up by then, nothing will do it!

Tonight though, we are headed to a Jr A hockey game (our local team is 18-0 and he has not missed a home game yet). I am so thankful for the gift of season tickets; this would never happen if not for them.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders of how great You are and how Your love is everywhere. Those reminders are sometimes quiet as a butterfly and sometimes they are a splash of cold water on a sleeping teenager. Without those reminders, I don’t know where I’d be. The enemy is loud and you are gentle. Thank you Father.
As the winter months set in, continue to bring us peace as well as strength to weather any storm.
You love is greater, Your love is stronger, Your love…is all I need.

Amen

Crazy Good

Yesterday I did something I didn’t even know was possible. I went inline skating. Yes, I know I took up this sport in June. Yesterday though, there was snow lining the trail. There was ice on the bridge. It was barely above freezing.

Today, I’m waiting for my phone to charge. It’s 44 degrees outside; much warmer than yesterday. I’m going again. I can’t skate the greenwood trail because there is too much snow on the small bridge, I can do the Hartz Park loop though. That bridge has some ice, but not enough to stop me. I may only get a few laps…but at this point every single lap counts. Every mile counts, every stride counts. The wind today is 16mph…which sucks…but it’s better than not skating.

I’m certain there were strange glances yesterday as I skated down the hill, taking strides to build speed at the top of the hill, bent at the waist, hands behind my back…the guy running up the hill seemed happy that he wasn’t the only nut case out there on a Saturday afternoon.

Although I was welcomed to return to coaching youth hockey again this year, I just cannot cover the costs to become insured and certified. It makes me feel horribly sad and like a failure…like I’m failing these kids who don’t even know I should be helping their coaches. Like I am failing the parents who don’t even know I should be out there teaching their kids how to fall down and get back up.

But that’s Satan…he’s so good at his job…making me feel so horrible.

Do I miss skating with those young kids? Of course I do. Do I miss playing Ring Around the Rosie? Probably more than I should. Do I miss skating circles around the kids who are finally able to get up an ounce of speed just so they can giggle and fall down? Of course I do.

There was never anything more rewarding on the ice than seeing a kid progress. Whether it was progressing from 5 minutes on the ice to 30; or a kid going from a duck walk to an actual stride…there was such joy in every victory.

Those small victories gave me something to focus on when Dorothy showed up. I sometimes (but not often) wonder how we would have managed cancer, if not for hockey.

We didn’t have to social support we have now, we didn’t have much of anything…except hockey.

So I know that God will get us through anything…I have no doubt. Even this disappointment.

And now…as there is even snow on the ground, I am going inline skating…because I can. Because God is Good.

Father,

Forever I am grateful. Forever I am Yours.

Amen

Transition Day

Yesterday we experienced our first difficult transition day of the school year. I am thankful to have had a few weeks reprieve to get into the school year. With any luck, this is a one-time thing.

It was a busy day (as most of ours tend to be). He had hockey almost immediately after school and it was his first time on the ice this season. I was a forgetful Mom and I did not give him a snack after school. He needs a snack on a normal day, never mind going to hockey practice before supper.

While at hockey he felt like he was not good enough, and was confused by some of the new drills. As all kids do, he thought he was the only one struggling.

After practice, he was taking off his skates and one of the coaches asked what grade he was in. When I told him fourth grade, he commented that he’s a big kid. He complimented my son on how well he did out there and I shared that he felt like he did not perform very well.

I could have kissed both coaches, “Aww man, it’s your first time on skates this year. You looked like you were actually trying out there. I guarantee that you worked a lot harder than many of those kids. Those kids who weren’t trying, you improved today way more than they will all year because they don’t think they have to try. Isn’t your mom the coach that says you have to get good before you get fast? Trust me, being fast means nothing at this age.”

I got the obligatory eye roll when he mentioned that his mom might actually know a thing or two on the ice…LOL

But my boy calmed down.

When we came home, his dad was waiting to pick him up…and the attitude returned. I won’t share the entire scenario, just that he ended up not going to his dad’s last night. He stayed home with me.

After some cuddle time watching a movie and eating supper, he sat down and did all his homework with no arguments, had a bedtime snack while we finished the movie and went to bed like a champ.

He thanked me this morning for, “…having my back…” and I assured him that I would…every time.

Lord,

I thank you for giving that young boy a heart of a warrior and the fight of a lion. As he learns himself, help him feel encouraged to fight for justice. Continue to give him the courage to keep speaking out. As he learns how to manage his words and put feelings into action, surround him with an army of love and acceptance.
Continue to give my boy the strength he needs, and me the patience to get through it all.

Amen

 

Now I’ve Done It

Now that inline skating season is almost over, it is time for Katie and our friend Katherine to resume their Thursday evening workouts. Good for them, right? Wrong. They brought their weights and video over to my house and we will be doing it together.

Trust me, I tried everything to get out of this. I am not a workout kinda girl. I skated my butt of this summer and I am quite happy seeing how much better I will be next summer with a full spring/summer of training.

Well, this is where Katie pushes back apparently. She knows I want to be on a podium of at least one race next year and there is only one way to get there…hard work.

So last Thursday we worked out…the three of us. I have not even LOOKED at weights for 30 years…never mind lifted them. They asked if I wanted to start with 3 lbs or 5 lbs. Well, here’s where my thinking gets me in trouble. I figure if I’m going to work out, I might as well make it worth my time and ache. I pick 5 lbs with the idea that if it does become too much, I can reduce to three.

Ya, we all know that never happened…oh wait, ya, for one of the exercises I picked the lighter weights…but only for one.

Friday my body must have still been in shock, because it didn’t hurt too bad. I knew I had worked out but could still walk up and down stairs without cussing at these two women.

Saturday came and Katie and I went for a quick five mile skate (not sure when that became quick…or normal…but it has). While doing some one legged glides, I lost my balance and fell.

I tore a hole in my only pair of sweatpants, I figured there must have been some road rash but didn’t bother looking as we were not even a half mile into our skate and there was nothing I was going to do. I could not feel blood dripping so it’s all good.

We enjoyed the first 2.5 miles just skating along on some new pavement by my house. Then we turned around…into a 10+mph headwind.

The conversation came to a dead stop.

The next two and a half miles was full of “This is stupid” and “We should have parked a vehicle at one end and just drove back” kind of comments. “Are we there yet” has taken on a whole new level of understanding.

I did notice that the strong headwind was great for my form though. I struggle with leaning forward and a proper, slow stride when I have no resistance. I was much better at putting my hands behind my back, leaning forward and a proper stride.

Silver linings, I guess.

Then off to watch the older boy start his bowling season…sitting for an hour.

Then I had to get up…HOLY HANNA…WHAT THE…

Ya, my body was letting me know what it thought of not only the fall, but the entire workout silliness now. I was nearly in tears when Katie dropped me off a sweatshirt (because I got the skate shivers while at bowling). I was telling her that now I had to go sit for another hour to watch football…oh my aching muscles.

By Saturday evening I could not even lift my arms to brush my hair without my triceps screaming at me. I screamed back…much to the enjoyment of the boys.

Now it’s Monday and my body seems to have forgiven me. I don’t yet have the nerve to tell it we are working out on Tuesday this week because we are leaving town for the weekend Friday morning to attend a women’s conference.

But…makes me wonder if we shouldn’t be working out twice a week…just when our body is not hating us…do it again. In theory it sounds like a good plan. Wait…what?

My legs have some serious work to do when it comes to strength. I also know that with that strength I will likely try to save enough money to spend on a skate coach for a couple of hours to work on my technique. The closest one I know of is down in the cities so will likely try to fit it in during a Rochester trip.

I am already looking forward to next summer…something I could not do just a few months ago.

Before healing, I could not think beyond the next month, or the one after that. Now, I’m back to planning a future, living my life as if I had never heard those ugly words, “I”m not going to lie, it’s not good.”

I am so thankful for the ability to work out and hurt like I’ve been hit by a tank. The ache reminds me of all those who cannot workout due to treatments, side effects, and those who have graduated from earth…I workout because they can’t. I hurt by choice…I remember when I hurt just because I was breathing…

How blessed am I.

Dear Lord,

This last week has sure been a roller coaster of living, to put it mildly. I am so thankful to be buckled in and eyes open to enjoy the ride.
As this week moves forward and we say good bye to a dear friend, help me serve his family as they have served others for so long.
I need help discerning the work situation as well, this is a tough one.

Amen

Normal

Life is beginning to feel almost normal again. For us, normal is busy, loud, and often disorganized. Normal is running fast and running behind. Normal is lots of love and little money.

It is our normal. It is how the boys and I do life.

It is amazing just how different we can all be yet still have so much in common. My youngest son plays hockey. The prevailing thought in this town (and many others) is that only rich families can afford hockey and when you go to the rink, it sort of looks that way.

Mom and dad both drive new vehicles, the family goes on vacation every year and never misses a college hockey game an hour away. They live in a mini-mansion with 2.3 kids and a Dog named Spike. Junior has the newest gear, a cool bag, and a $200 stick.

And then we walk in. Mom is divorced, drives a minivan with over 230,000 miles on it that sounds like it might die any second with two huge dents from accidents and because she cannot afford collision insurance, neither of them will ever be fixed. We rent, we have used gear that fits and his hockey stick from last year. Two cats, and have not been on a vacation beyond a trip to my parents house since before the divorce proceedings started 6 years ago.

On the ice, they all look the same with helmets and matching jersey’s.

What is normal for our family is only normal for our family. What is normal for each of the other families, is normal for them. It does not make one family better than the other. It does not ensure one child is loved more than the other.

What is normal for us, now may not be normal for you or anybody else. It may not even be normal for us in a year or two.

As we run through life with our hockey gear rolling behind, our iPad in our hand, our phone in our back pocket what you will see, is love. We love each other and we love our life.

I love that I do not drive a new vehicle, I have no financial debt and will do anything and everything to keep it that way. Yes, I would like something that I don’t have to worry about when I drive to see my family and that doesn’t need new tires; I also know that God has provided this long, He’s not going to stop now. When this vehicle is finished, where some people would be panicked, I see another opportunity to trust Him.

As much fun as it would be to take the boys on a week long vacation somewhere totally amazing, the memories we make each and every day are enough for me. I am not going to give up my everyday life (by working two jobs or otherwise) to have a week worth of memories.

I love our life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my kids, my family, my friends, and my church family. I love that life is simple for us. I love that we love.

Matching Shirts

Part two from my very first guest blogger, Katie. She sent both of these writings Sunday as I was getting ready for church. I have since read them over and over again.
 
Last night it hit me; we were only 27 minutes slower than Katie’s BEST time at NSIM. Here is our exchange:
 

Me:I keep rereading that we were 27 minutes slower than your best time…
Dang…I really killed it, didn’t I??

Katie:Heck yeah you did. You so did. And honestly, I kinda feel like a crappy friend cause I don’t think I’ve truly given you the credit you earned for this. I thought I did. But until Friday and Saturday, I didn’t understand how hard you actually worked to do what you did. Like I saw you put in the effort and I knew you did it, but I didn’t understand it. I didn’t feel it. And what I felt and understand now is still probably nothing compared to what you did.

M:You did more than enough…and I had actually forgot that more than half my training was injured…lol

K:Still, I have a different understanding now.

And it was a stick. There was a stick in my skate, I couldn’t see it until I took the wheel off. It wore almost all the writing off the side of my wheel.

Debbie: 😖

Part 2
Between June 19th and NSIM, I didn’t go more than 3 days without skating. Friday (yesterday) was my first day back on skates since the marathon. It was a 5 day stretch with out. It’s gonna be a long winter. 
Luke got home on Friday in time for me to skate, so I texted Debbie to let her know I was heading out and aiming for 10 miles in under an hour. I didn’t expect her to be able to join me, but it feels weird at this point to go for a skate and not at least let her know I’m going. Between a nasty sinus cold thing and my timing being just as kids were getting home from school, I just figured it wasn’t gonna work for her to join me. I was wrong. She responded with so much enthusiasm about going, I half expected her to beat me there. We made it one lap around Greenwood before we found ourselves doing hills of course. But after two consecutive laps of hills and a second lap around Greenwood, Debbie’s cold caught up with her and she was done. She left, disappointed like she gets when her body doesn’t do what her head says it should be able to do.
I stayed and reset my runkeeper so I could smash my 10 miles in under an hour. I was so ready for it! I got going and I wasn’t 2 miles in before my legs were on fire. Everything in my legs hurt. Muscles I didn’t even know were things hurt. I tried to stop for water at 3 miles and didn’t have the strength or functionality to brake (when the heck was the last time I needed water at mile three?? Like for real. How stupid is this?!) I slammed into my mirror and spun half way around the front of my van before I could hobble back for water. My skates felt like lead weights with every stride, but I managed to finish in 58:32. My 15th fastest. 
Saturday. I had high hopes of redeeming myself today. I got back on the pavement and it was deja vu. Only this time, it was my lower back that was throwing a fit and it was screaming. I stopped at mile three again (at least I could brake this time) for water and ibuprofen with dismal hope that maybe it would do something. Of course it didn’t. My feet were like led weights again and it took all of my concentration to make a decent stride. On mile 5 as I rounded the corner from the woodsy area into the wind, I was done.
 “Forget this, I’m done. This is stupid and I’m going home. I can be satisfied with 5 miles.” I said, out loud.  
“Once you quit once, then quitting always becomes an option…” Came the reply in my head.
Crap. I couldn’t quit. Well, actually I could. I, mean I wanted to. So bad. Who was there to stop me? Who would have really known the difference? And Luke would be happy to have me home earlier than planned.
“Debbie went from 0 to marathon in 88 days. Half them on skates with crappy wheels and shamefully awful bearings. And with a crappy knee. And a busted finger. And hip pain that made her count strides to keep going. A marathon in skates that hadn’t fit right from the beginning and she never complained about that until after the race…” My thoughts continued to argue me, some of them out loud.
“Nope. You don’t get to quit today. Not for this. You don’t get to make podium goals one day and then quit later just because your back hurts. Shut-up and skate.” So I didn’t quit. It sucked. But I finished my 10 miles and I did it in 57:55. My 12th fastest.
The me that used to skate by myself would have quit today. I would have quit and I would have missed the opportunity to shave almost a minute off my time from yesterday. I would have missed gaining the strength that comes from pushing myself. I would have missed learning I can still do it, even when it hurts like hell. That is why a friend with a matching finisher shirt isn’t a small thing for me. That is what I get from finishing in 2:52:30 together.