I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘family’

Can I Get Hope With That?

I come from a very large family. My Dad is #6 out of 10. My mother is #6 out of 9. I have grown up celebrating this family reunions – some more organized than others – and now that I am in my 30s, there is a lot more gray at these reunions than I remember. Have you ever seen a sign like this at a workplace –

Days_Without_Accident Lord. I feel like someone is always either going to the hospital or coming out of the hospital. Perhaps there were never really carefree days, but 20 years ago – even 10 years ago – it didn’t feel like there was always something wrong with somebody I care about.

Adonis’s Mom went to the doctor last Tuesday complaining of pain in her chest. They ran some scans. Tumors on her pancreas and lungs. We went to the doctor two days ago for confirmation after a PET scan, and sure enough, it appears her cancer is advanced. We do not go to the oncologist for further information until next week, but her doctors have recommended hospice and palliative care for her.

I have cried almost every day since getting the news. She is 90 years old, but I am still not ready to let her go. I am not going to eulogize her here because dammit she is still making jokes and seems at peace with the whole situation, but I wish I weren’t having to think about this now – for several reasons. I don’t want her to suffer, but as long as she is doing pretty well, I want her here on earth. Adonis loves her to pieces and I’m doing my best to be here for both of them.

She even made me laugh on the way home from the doctor, who had said that one of the signs that her time is limited would be that she would be losing weight from lack of appetite.  We stopped at McDonald’s to grab something quickly. She got a quarter pounder and a large fry, and when we arrived home she shared with me and added salt to hers. I don’t know if she did that for our sake, but she ate half of the fries and half of the burger. So there it is. As long as there are fries, there is hope.

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Tired but Inspired: Race Report

As you are fully aware, cancer sucks. The many volunteers behind One Step Closer to the Cure are tirelessly working so that no one else’s Auntie has to be taken prematurely by ovarian cancer. Collectively, my family did our part contributing about 100,000 literal steps. Here is how my 6,000 went:

1. 1-2,000

If you want to know how I think I’m going to do during a race, all you must do is check my playlist. Did I set it to shuffle? I’m just here for the cause. Perhaps I spent significant time carefully crafting both the sequence and length of the list. That means the next 33 (Lord willing) minutes are not a drill. When the horn sounds, I’m feeling great out of the gate, man. I’m gonna run this bad boy all the way through. Early on, I experienced the runner’s high that keeps me coming back. Seeing so many teams and friends coming together always helps to add to my gooey feelings. Everyone’s a champ so far, even me!

2. 2,001 – 4,000

It’s…it’s kind of hot out here. I wanted to push but – eh. I have noticed recently that there’s something about turning in races that is a mental drag for me. It used to exhilarate me, as I would focus on the fact that I am progressing, but right now I deem to be in a place where I think to myself “ugghhhh there’s more!” and my pace drops accordingly. I started running some, then walking some, but still trying to meet my goal. Plus, running whenever I saw my family.

3. 4,001 – finish

Okay so maybe my goal was a *tad* ambitious based on my current fitness level. I blame the stress and snacks that Hurricane Irma swept in! She was a big heffa, you ‘member? I was moving forward but “Imma own this!” had devolved into “Ugh let’s finish and get breakfast.” Then the most amazing thing happened.

“Hi Daphne! You’re beautiful! You’re doing great, keep going!”

Several different waves of emotion came over me. Thankfulness for being Daphne’s niece. Humbled by the fact that she can still touch lives, 7 years after her death. GUILT! For whining about a slow pace in a healthy body. This woman who God brought to me at just the right time was cheering ME on. I am complaining about fighting 3.1 miles and she is literally fighting for her life.  I learned later that she also serves on the board of the foundation that puts on the race. Man. I suck for thinking that I suck. I started running a bit more and digging until the end.

I need to pray for the spirit of people like that amazing lady and Auntie Daph to fill me, not just when I run but in my every day life. Every step God gives us is a blessing and it’s my prayer that I start to act like it!

The Reason: Race Report

My Auntie Daph continues to inspire me, 6 years after stupid old ovarian cancer took her from us. It pleases me to think that seeing her family unite around beating the cause that was the source of so much pain near the end of her life in a healthy way honors her. Makes beating my 5k time from a month ago seem like a silly thing with which to concern myself, no? 

If that last sentence made you laugh out loud, then you know me well. 

Did I mention that this was the Big One’s first 5k as well? She has been sharing her running achievements with me excitedly leading up to the race. Finally, I got one that enjoys the training! Like the young person with boundless energy she is, she decided to go to Halloween Horror Nights the night before. 

Lady J, Stepmother: “I hope she isn’t too tired! I want her to enjoy her first race experience!” 

Lady J, Nervous Runner: “I hope she doesn’t bust up my sleep coming home. My ass is not 20.” 
The first thought listed WAS my first thought. Honest. 

Guess what! God is awesome, and yesterday it was reflected in the fact that both the Stepmommy and nervous runner got their wishes! I felt something incredible on the course – *gasp* – a BREEZE! I had a goal in mind to do better than a month ago, but the feeling of just seeing where my body is at the moment was liberating. If I didn’t beat it, it is what it is. It’s nice having a cause like beating ovarian cancer to fall back on just in case you run the best race ever. I often  judge my effort based on if I want to stop running or how badly I want to see the finish line. “You can run for 10 more minutes! You can run for 9 more minutes and 30 more seconds! You can run for 9 more minutes and 28 seconds! Damn. Just keep going.” 

32:55! 32 seconds faster than a month previous. It’s like, my training has been effective or something. I had enough time to beg for water, tell Daddy how my run went, and cheer for my family as each of them crossed the finish line, including my girls, who were grinning from ear to ear. 


Running is powerful. Family is powerful. God is The Power. 

Lady J’s Christmas Reflections: The “J” is for Jerk.

Christmas The way Christmas is often celebrated sucks.

I had to word that carefully. As a Christian, the marking of the Savior’s birth is a pretty big deal. I have no desire to be blasphemous or flippant about it. It’s merely that all of the hoopla surrounding the observance – for me – doesn’t serve the purpose of celebrating His
birth. Forget about the supposed commercialism of the holiday and how some are up in arms about “Happy Holidays” vs. “Merry Christmas.” “Oh, woe is me, a store is trying to sell more things!” That’s kind of the religion of business, no? I’m talking about familyism. And friendism. It’s y’all who ruined Christmas.

Let me tell you how.

A quick look through my previous posts will illustrate that I am fairly adept at expressing thankfulness for the blessings in my life throughout the year. Yes, of course there are times for me personally that make me reflect upon these blessings more than others, but it is definitely more often than the last 6 weeks of the year. So all you jokers come along, “Hey, it’s the holidays! I miss you. Let’s grab food/drink/swim/bike/run/whatever.” I am not in some black hole, inaccessible the first 10 months of the year – unless Coachie has me there, but even then I still get phone reception there. I get a little time to relax from work and all of a sudden because the Savior is born you want to blow up my phone. Quite frankly, if it is important for me to talk to or spend time with you around this time, I would have done so on stupid October 3. I’m not saying I’m above losing touch with important people. I’m just saying that I’m probably better at staying in touch than you are. 🙂

Then I hear the still, small voice.

“Hey Joan. I came because people are imperfect.”

I then am forced to take the time to reflect upon my own imperfections. Indeed, I am a thoughtful person, and one of the things I hate most is wronging someone unknowingly because it reminds me that I cannot be in control all of the time, even when I think I am. As good as I am at expressing my gratitude throughout the year, I will never be perfect.

I pray that in years to come, I am able to find both the solitude I need to strengthen my relationship with Christ and with others. Love is patient, wrote the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. I’ve got a long way to go.

Merry Christmas!

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Shoutout Series: Prima!

Pree-muh. Spanish for “Best female cousin on the planet.” If you go to a Spanish-speaking country, however, a native speaker may tell you it just means “female cousin.” You and I know the truth.

My Prima is the daughter of my Daddy’s younger brother. We didn’t grow up in the same city and would only see each other on family holidays. She is 5 (and change) years my senior and it wasn’t until I was a teenager and she was one of those big college graduate people that we became besties. Y’all know. Chatting on AIM and ery’thang on the daily. We’s old.

It has been wonderful having my Prima to grow with and look up to. She’s much better than an older sister – I get an awesome auntie thrown in and no need to share my own amazing mother! Prima has been there to guide me through many of life’s rites of passage and helped me to become a stronger woman.

It’s awesome because while we have similar character, our temperaments are quite different. I’m the nice one, quite frankly. We can’t ever grow apart because I need her too much! Plus, she trains for Brazilian jiu-jitsu and I’m sure I will need her to kick someone’s ass for me in case I can’t outrun him/her.

To my Prima Fabulosa. I’m glad you are my family! Thanks for helping Lady J to do it.

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Seventy Point Family: Real Talk, Part I

When I registered for Augusta on New Year’s Eve, I told my parents soon after. Mom’s response? “Unless you plan on texting from transition to let me know you’re okay, we’re coming.” Tee hee. I suggested to my father that we turn it into a field trip by stopping in his hometown of Rochelle, GA on the way there. He agreed and seemed pleased.

“How long is this business you’re doing again?” Mom would frequently ask. “70.3!” She would pause. “That’s how many miles you’re doing?” I would sigh, exasperated. “Why do we have to keep having this same conversation?” She finally replied to my satisfaction one evening in September. “It’s so long – I think I have a mental block against that distance.”

What I love about my parents is that while it may take them awhile to wrap their collective brain around something I’m doing, they are always ready to support me. As much as I’ve doubted myself along the way, I never questioned their support for me. I thank God that He allowed me to be born to parents who after almost 30 years are still invested in my growth. Good thing, too, because as I age I appreciate their love for me more and more.

After the race, we drove into Rochelle to the property where my grandfather used to work and my father was born. It was remarkable to meet the man who now owned the farm and see my Dad learn more about his personal history. My grandfather died before Baby J made her debut; I missed him by weeks! I actually am named after him – he was John. Dad always describes him as a man among men, who chose to make a grueling move from rural Georgia to south Florida to make a better life for his family. My father often says that he stands on the shoulders of a giant.

I am learning and accepting that I, too, stand on the shoulders of my amazing family. Whether it’s playing music or doing triathlon, I could not do any of it without their unfailing love for me.

I’m going to stop writing now. I’m starting to want to pay it forward with a family of my own. I have races coming up.

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N.B. – It’s fitting that 3M is in this picture taken before I lined up in my wave. Pretty sure she’s in for the Lady J long haul. ❤️

Pheidippides ran without a Garmin. Pretty sure that’s what killed him: Race Report

In 2010, ovarian cancer took my amazing Auntie Daph away from me. It was especially hard because she was loved by anyone who crossed her path. She treated her body well, was active, and lived her first 69 years with little to no sickness. Then this nastiness rolls up on her body like nobody’s business and in less than 2 years she went from vital and joyous to – well. Less vital, but still joyous. I told you – she was incredible. My Auntie was the embodiment of Proverbs 31. She’s left a huge hole in our family and we miss her every day. Cancer blows.

When I fell in love with running 18 months ago, one of the first things I did was to search for a race whose profits went to research for ovarian cancer. I was surprised to find that there is an annual race in St. Petersburg each September. I informed my mother (aunt’s baby sister), whose running addiction was also just beginning, and tried to gather several family members to run or walk, whichever they wanted. 12 people registered to represent Team Daphne! I loved it because A) it brought my family together doing something healthy and B) I think she would have loved to do something like that herself.

Fast forward to this year. Team Daphne was 16 strong! Last year, we walked most of the race. This year, because we love to grow and compete, we all went at different paces. They offered a 10k this year and because I hear Coachie in my ear wherever I go, I registered for that. While I love spending time with my family in this way, racing with them STRESSES.
ME. OUT. Because I found the race and I am the “family runner,” I apparently have the responsibility of answering all questions and making sure everyone stays organized (read: arrives before the race starts and is actually behind the start line). Of course, we were running later than I wanted, but we actually made it on time this year! Progress!

As I was getting ready, the strap to my Garmin decided to fall off. Fantastic. I love when I have to run and like, just listen to my body. I wasn’t expecting or trying to run a PR, but I wanted to feel like I was working without killing myself. I lined up with my family but went off by myself as the race began. The day was really beautiful. 🙂 Racing in St. Petersburg means a lot to me – from the Women’s Running 5k to St. Anthony’s Triathlon, I have already made a lot of precious memories here. I smiled as I passed sites I have seen many times. My body was feeling wonderful and I felt the runner’s high that has lately eluded me during my half-Ironman training. The sky was filled with gorgeous color.

As I made my first turn-around, I saw some of my family and waved. We cheered each other as we passed. I saw a chick walking with 2 colorful parrots. I giggled. I love that I can find pleasure in races of high competitive intensity and races where people have parrots. It was about celebrating good health and honoring those who have fought ovarian cancer and are currently fighting. Good vibes.

Alas – I think God has this thing where regardless of the distance, I am reminded that I need Him no matter what. 60 mile ride? 6.2 mile run? No matter. “Hey Joan you’re gonna feel great for like 75% and then you will curse your existence and look to me! Don’t forget who allows you to do this!” Indeed, somewhere between mile 4 and 5, while I didn’t hate life, I thought, “Hmm. I’m still running. I’d rather not be.” Then I saw a lady walking who appeared to have one leg longer than the other. Immediately I pulled my brain together. I cheered her on and made my way to the finish, where my family was waiting for me.

1:06:33! About 3.5 minutes off of my PR in April, but I’m super stoked because

1. The last time I ran a 10k without my Garmin was my first 10k in May of 2013. It reminded me of going out and having fun, tee hee. Oh, to be young again!
2. My foot felt great! It’s looking like she will hold up for Augusta IF I keep treating her right,
3. I am happy I was able to hold that pace fairly comfortably. It’s good to know that is a natural pace for me and I didn’t have to aim for it or struggle.

Tee hee. My family says they are already ready for next year and are looking to PR for themselves! More running, walking, and good health for everyone! Who knows how long we have it? God is good.

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