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

Posts tagged ‘Fear’

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.

Marvelous

Lady J is on her way home!

In my previous post, I was in the air headed north, and I am blessed to be headed the opposite direction, returning to my family and work. Our flight was delayed three times, only to be moved forward again (take away – if they say to be at your gate at your original time, they mean it), leaving plenty of time for questions. What is the cause of the delay? Weather? Maintenance? Is this going to be the type of flight where I will be wondering if my affairs are in order?

At take off, of course, I smell something strong. “Oh my gosh this could be it.” The flight attendant had said we could anticipate a smooth flight once we were at cruising altitude and I am here to tell you WE HAVE NOT REACHED IT YET. The most important question remains –

Should I relax and enjoy it? 

I always get window seats because I have a tendency to get claustrophobic and I love marveling at creation. Right now, I see nothing but a wing jutting out into cloudy darkness. I’ve written in this space many times that while I intellectually grasp that there is not a method of travel more statistically safe than this, I do not find myself clenching on car, bus, or subway rides. And yet, being up here is still marvelous. It is incredible that in mere hours I can be in a completely different part of the country, visiting people that I love. How wondrous that people have worked and are working continuously to make this more efficient and comfortable. In moments, I am going to be able to hit the publish button from 35,000 feet in the air. Plus, someone is going to come down the aisle shortly with some excellent snacks.

I have always looked at the term “first world problems” skeptically, because it seems like a way to dismiss the emotions of others. As a woman of faith, I’ve had no problem that cannot make me look toward the Lord for guidance. Dammit if some bumps don’t remind me to make sure my priorities are right. These bumps are nothing if not “self-inflicted,” as I wouldn’t be feeling them if I hadn’t wanted to have this amazing getaway.

Update: THIS PILOT IS A LIAR HE SAID THE BUMPS WOULD END AT CRUISING ALTITUDE AND IT WAS DEFINITELY FAKE NEWS

person in parachute gliding above mountains

I ain’t ready.

I suppose even the turbulence is marvelous in its own sneaky way, as I have no choice but to surrender to His will and the crew’s expertise. What could be healthier than remembering how little control I have?

More marvelous travel, please!

The Journey Home

Many thanks if you happened to read my last post about our journey from Athens back home and prayed for our safety! I write now from the comfort of our bed and a body and brain still on Eastern European Time. We saw five airports in 34 hours (yes, there are more direct ways, but we have more time than money, no shame in our layover game!) and it was pretty emotional for both of us.

I. Leaving Greece

Leaving our hotel in Athens was very emotional. Not only were we anxious about a long trip, but neither of us were really ready to go. Our taxi driver took us to Attiki Odos – the highway – for one last time to the airport. We checked our bags, grabbed some dinner, and I ran to duty free to get important things! I picked out a box of kourambiedes, which are delicious almond cookies covered in powdered sugar, and my absolute favorite chocolate, Leónidas. I went back and forth about buying some honey because I wasn’t sure the security gods wouldn’t confiscate it as I went through each airport, but I learned later that duty free liquids are exempt from that stupid 100 mL rule! Good to know!

I thought I had bought everything I wanted to, but about 10 minutes before we were to start boarding, I remembered I had some unfinished business. I absolutely love stuffed bears and I wanted to get one! Thankfully, I found one on a keychain to join Travel Bear!

Ready as we’re going to be. At the gate, we boarded a bus to be driven to our plane. Old school! I cherished every moment we were still in Athens, even on the tarmac on a bus. Check out how we boarded the plane!

I settled into my window seat and looked outside wistfully. I am hard-pressed to think of a time I’ve felt more moved on a return trip. Adonis was saying leaving for him was tough because he wasn’t sure when we would be able to return to Greece. I touched the window, as though I could pet Athens. He was right. God only knows when or if we will be able to return. We prayed together and thanked Him for a wonderful time.

Wheels up.

II. Stop #1 – Barcelona

After an uneventful flight, we landed at 0:45 CET. We deplaned and navigated our way to baggage claim. Now the fun begins – how do we get to our next plane? I checked the departure board and noticed the plane we were just on was going right back to Athens. I sighed.

The signs in Barcelona El Prat were in 3 languages – the last language was Spanish, the second was English, and I THOUGHT the first was Portuguese, which in retrospect, was really stupid. Give me a break. It was late! After a while, it dawned on me that we were in CATALONIA and that language had to be CATALAN! Duh! We were definitely clueless as to where to go once we had our bags. My Spanish is decent and we asked someone where we needed to go, but only after we had been in a few círculos. Heh.

“DOES THIS PLACE HAVE ANY DECENT COFFEE?”

I had been preparing myself while still in the US for Adonis’ grumpiness when we left Greece. I had not been prepared for it to set in quite so quickly. “Dude. Spain has coffee.” We were both tired and exchanged words that likely won’t make it into any healthy marriage Hall of Fame, but the coffee was good! We passed some time by talking to my parents and Lil One. What I thought would be the trickiest of our layovers was passing fairly quickly.

We checked in our bags, found some breakfast, and by 5:45 AM, we took the LONGEST. WALK. EVER. To our gate. Seriously, it was insanely long and there was no way to shorten it. I know we were tired but Dios Mío. El Prat needs to tighten up. Adonis noticed that unlike in American airports, there was no option to sit near the gate without sitting at a business, like a bar or cafe. Pagar o estar de pie (pay or stand up), says the airport authority. We didn’t make it onto the plane until about 6:15.

Tired.

Wheels up.

III. Stop #2 – Madrid

As I’m sure you can imagine, the flight from Barcelona to Madrid was short and packed with commuters. It was a bit bumpy, but I managed to sneak in about 15 minutes of much needed sleep. Lucky Adonis was sleeping as soon as we were in the air and didn’t awaken until we landed.

Since we were leaving the Schengen area, we had to go through customs after collecting our things in baggage claim. After receiving my second of two Madrid stamps, we boarded the shuttle to our terminal, where we would wait about 3 hours before the longest flight of our journey. We got some coffee and snacks and I ventured to do something I never had – taken a shower at the airport! They were not scary at all, I am pleased to say, and I was happy to no longer be sticky. I felt as fresh as I could for having gotten 15 minutes of sleep in 30 hours.

Thankfully, the journey to our gate was not as obnoxious as it had been in Barcelona.

After boarding, we settled into our seats. I immediately prepared myself to sleep by spraying some aromatherapy spray on a pillow. Then I did something I have not done since 2005, incidentally on another New York bound flight.

I used the lavatory.

This might not seem so noteworthy, but that was exactly the THIRD time I’d been in 23 years, and I am not that infrequent of a flyer. When I was 10 I used it on a flight for the first time and I couldn’t figure out how to open the door to exit, just as the flight was getting pretty turbulent. I had to yell for help and it’s haunted me since. Notably, this was my first time in the lavatory since I started running and it just reminded me of a portable toilet. Nonetheless, I used it and got the hell out of there as others were still boarding.

Listos para Nueva York.

Wheels up.

IV. Stop #3 – New York City

The pilot had announced that he expected the second half of the ride to be moderately turbulent. The second. HALF. I thought to myself, hopefully I can sleep through the drama. Eat up and then take some Advil pm and knock out until ‘Murka. I also wanted to make sure I was able to buy something from the duty free magazine that I had seen on the flight to Madrid two weeks prior. How to sleep and shop?! Traveler’s dilemma!

As we were in flight, I had to go to the bathroom again, but as it were, my practice run made me feel more confident so I did so without fear. I closed the door behind me and then I heard a ding. My inner 10 year old panicked, but the 33 year old quickly did her business and got the hell out of there. I realized later that it was just the ding of someone calling for the flight attendant, not the *sit your ass down y’all!* ding of impending bumpiness. I think I’m not scared of the lavatory anymore! ✔️

I asked the flight attendant to wake me as the duty free cart was coming around, and she did. Indeed, the second half of the flight was bumpy as promised, but I found myself clenching less and less. Big planes matter, as does experience – I think this being my 8th plane ride in 2018 (so blessed!) is helping to put me at ease. I whipped out my credit card and got a lovely set of earrings. I can’t say I wasn’t happy to land safely, but nor was I in a rush to get off the plane.

After landing at JFK, we had to make our way to customs, where I was pleasantly surprised. I had been feeling so sad to leave Greece that I wasn’t expecting to be happy to be back in the US, but as soon as I saw the big “Welcome to the United States” sign leading into passport control, I broke into a big smile. As messed up as home can be, it’s mine, and I appreciate it even when my sleep is limited, apparently. The joy was quickly muted once we got into a miserably long line, and I can say this was the most unsavory part of our long trip. We got our things and guess what! My Greek cough syrup made it back!

One thing that struck me was how prepared I was to speak Spanish although we had made it home. It took me awhile adjust to feel average and not like an outsider for speaking English, especially since I was surrounded by Spanish speakers at JFK. The only difference was that from what I saw, the Spanish speakers were mostly customers and not staff as it had been for the last day of my life. I love the tapestry of America – seeing different last names on employee tags, recognizing the different heritages, yet all equally American. E pluribus unum, y’all.

We splurged and went to the lounge because the area by our terminal was SO. LOUD and we wanted a bit of respite during our last layover. Let me tell you something – Delta has great cookies at JFK. And chairs comfy enough for a tired girl to crash until her husband wakes her up.

Wheels up.

V. Home! Orlando

Well. I don’t have much to say about this flight. I sat down. I slept. My husband woke me up when we landed. Good job, Delta.

We got our luggage quickly and made our way outside, where The Big One and The Beard (her boo) were waiting outside for us, despite our having landed a bit early. She rocks. We had a quick ride home and debriefed them as much as possible on what had been the trip of a lifetime.

34 hours after we began, this happened.

Bear was thrilled to see Travel Bear and his new friend, Nikos. Petros, our fish, was delighted to see us, I must say. Splashing about like a mad fish, craving a snack like his Mom. My very thoughtful father had stopped by the apartment and left us Publix subs and the best pound cake in the world.

Our trip was truly blessed, from start to finish. While I am eager to get back to Greece, I want to always be thankful for the opportunity I had to go, even one time. I have more about which to write, including meeting family and a race report!

God is good.

Ενθρανστο.

At this moment, we are waiting in a hotel lobby for a taxi to the airport. I just got off of a video call with my parents, who were happy to see me. It seemed as though we hadn’t been video calling all along through the last two weeks that Adonis and I have been in Greece. In fact, they seemed a bit nervous, and I believe it’s for the same reason that I have butterflies in my stomach.

Ζωή είναι ένψρανστη. Life is fragile.

As terrible as my reading of Greek is, I have much more control over that than I have over much else, from whether our cab makes it on time to the safety of our 31 hours of travel time back to our blessed home. I was both taken aback and appreciative yesterday as we went on our last ferry ride to see one of the crew members do a sign of the cross as we left the port. I assume that he makes that journey several times a week, but it didn’t appear that he took his lack of control for granted. The blue waters of the Aegean offer life for many but can pose a great threat as well. The brilliant minds who have made it possible for us to travel 5,764 miles within 31 hours cannot offer us a guarantee of a safe return.

If you are reading this, I ask that you pray for a safe journey for Adonis and I, who happens to be handling his nervousness by pacing around the lobby. Yes, I understand air travel is statistically very safe, and I expect to be in my bed tomorrow evening, but life is fragile. I thank God for this amazing trip, which I will be writing about more in a days (yes, I did find a race here), and ask for His continued protection on our journey home. Also, for some self-control at duty free. Amen.

How Joanie got her groove back

It’s Saturday and I skipped my weigh-in. First skip of 2018. Rut roh.

I was recently having a venting fest with a good friend and she was lamenting that it was difficult for her to get motivated to take healthful steps in her life. I opined that I think momentum often brings about motivation and not the reverse and am currently experiencing that phenomenon myself. You know whose fault it is? My Grandma. And husband. And the school district.

1. Grandma’s birthday party

Cake.

2. Wedding anniversary

Meat.

3. Spring Break

I suppose that the term “Spring Break” isn’t short for “Spring Break from your meal plan” but it may as well be, amirite?

Understanding the problem here is key, y’all –

There. Is. No. Problem.

It is tempting to view these things as interruptions, but all of them are wonderful. Celebrating my Grandma’s long life (and may God bless her with many more!), my short (thus far) marriage, and an entirely too short break from y’alls children are all blessings. However, with the break in my routine has come a break in my momentum. Without the momentum, it is difficult to adjust my vision to see all the good things happening, and thus I become unmotivated. Even after only a week, getting back into my groove feels like a heavy lift.

I am proud of myself. I ran yesterday and have a work out planned for today. I’m at a conference and I have brought meals with me. I promise to report my weight next Saturday because I want to monitor my progress wholly. I don’t expect any loss until the end of the month because of where I am in my cycle, but I am determined to love myself and celebrate making good choices for my body.

My not always steady beat is groovy again. Thanks be to God.

I put the “A**” in Assessment

Part of my job description includes recording grades for students. I must say – love to assess, hate to record. It’s just a mark of progress at a point in time and doesn’t define a person’s ability. I hate to think that I have students who see grades less than an A and think to themselves, “Meh, music isn’t for me.” That’s not even taking their parents into consideration, who may see grades and start to close doors for their children. Ugh.

My disdain for recording applies to my personal life as well. While I understand that stepping on the scale doesn’t define me, I find that I, too, am tempted to think, “Meh, healthful living isn’t for me.” Nevertheless, she is persisting…

I shall proceed to grade myself in 3 parts, like I do my students – the strict assessment based on data, a comment on my progress, and a citizenship grade.

1. Grade: A

I have lost 18 pounds in 9 weeks. I have done so with the help of portion controlled meals. My running feels much easier than it did and my clothes are fitting more comfortably. It is difficult to argue with such obvious results.

2. Comments

My attitude is heavily dependent on my perception of my progress. Going from 175 pounds to 172 pounds means I had a wonderful week. Staying at 172 means I had a terrible week and I do not look forward to assessing my progress in the same way. I hate that the 172 pound person is attractive in the mirror only if I am making weight loss progress. While it is positive that my self-perception isn’t based on a particular number, progress is not linear and such extreme fluctuations in how I see myself can’t be healthy.

3. Citizenship: Satisfactory

I can be that person who will bring down the room if I don’t feel I am doing well. This week, for instance, since I didn’t lose any weight I have not been putting in the same effort with my exercise and eating – despite having an amazing race just 10 days ago. It is quite a challenge to be a good citizen with such a myopic perspective.

The capstone of next quarter will be another 5k, in which I hope to be 12 pounds lighter and be considerably more flexible. I wish I knew how to detach my perception from however my week went. Hopefully I will have better comments for next time!

What I learned from marathon training 

Negativity is bad. Like, really, really bad. 

Not the kind of bad that lets you know up front that it is bad, like tickets to a Browns game or a $25 sandwich at the airport terminal. It’s the insidious kind that pretends to be on your side, like shots of tequila giving you ‘courage’ before you end up falling on your face. 

Negativity would show up to my training sessions handsomely dressed as Realism or Caution. It wouldn’t say to me, “Joan, you can’t finish” or “Joan, why are you doing this.” It would say, “Be careful or you won’t hit your pace!” “Don’t expect a good training day because you haven’t been perfect with your diet!” I would find myself going faster than I needed to in the beginning of runs because of fear and inevitably end up tired in the middle, thus affirming my negative thoughts before I caught on to what was happening.

The only effective method I have for combating Negativity is to simply keep showing up. I will admit that there were times over the last 16 weeks where I allowed it to beat me, but overall, I believe I won. I will not be able to confirm my victory until tomorrow at about 1 PM EST, but for all the times I felt like giving up, fearing that I am unworthy of the starting line of a marathon, there were many more that I fought through and finished. 

Let’s hope that the 15 pounds I’ve gained are pure courage. 

Tag Cloud