Friday, August 26, 2016

My five year birthday; And I'm still fighting like a girl!!

     If you were to listen to me five years ago, you would have heard me ask "why this too?!"  I remember all too well hearing my Oncologist recite the five year survival statistics.  But five years later I realize it was just one more test of my strength.  Some people only need one thing to find out how strong willed they are.  In my case, the breast cancer seriously put my MS in perspective.  

     On Monday August 29th I will be celebrating my five year birthday! This was the day I had my mastectomy and vowed to start living life as a gift, rather than an entitlement.  But just because I'm still here five years later doesn't mean I've given up the fight to battle all of life's challenges head on.  Only now it just makes me focus on the many second chances put in front of me.

     "Fight like a girl" has been the motto among breast cancer survivors for a very long time, and I believe it's because this is when we find out just how strong  women actually are.
     Below is a picture of my daughter Lindsay and I, at the Race for a cure, held in downtown Toledo.  It had only been one year at this point, but I saw all of the other fighters, and knew I had this as well.  Lindsay was the field commander for the Northview High School band, which was playing that day, and she made this shirt in my honor.  It was confirmation of just how much compassion all of my children have, and how fortunate I am to be blessed with them. 
     I've learned not to take anything for granted over the last five years, but seeing the fight so many others are going through as well, makes all of the daily obstacles seem like just one more test to convince me to always continue to "fight like a girl":)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 19, 2016

You see what you've been missing when the excuses finally run out.

     If there's one thing I've learned, living a life with MS, is it's usually a whole lot easier coming up with a great excuse rather than explaining why I "can't" do something.

     I've gotten extremely creative with my wording so that it's the absolute truth, yet leaving no room for people to question it.  My favorite is "unfortunately I have a conflict with my schedule".  Total truth!  Is there anyone on earth who doesn't have some sort of conflict??  And who would think to ask what the conflict is...

      Pat and Elaine, the owners of DMC Technology group, for many years have organized a company picnic at the Toledo Mud Hens baseball game.  However, it's always in August, which is the absolute worst month for my crazy body to walk outdoors.  I'm one big hot mess.  I know there is a ton of walking involved between parking in a downtown lot and walking to the stadium, and then the miles of walking just to get to your seat.  By the time I got to my seat I would have to be scraped up off of the ground.

     But year after year I manage to slide by practically unnoticed, and I have yet to have a schedule that would allow me to make it to the outing (or so they thought...).

     This year, the temperature was  expected to be around ninety, and there was no way in the world I thought I could survive that heat.  Ironically, everyone at DMC knows all too well that it's my poor body, and not my crazy schedule causing me to skip the picnic, year after year.

     Elaine texted me saying " I know the heat is supposed brutal on game day, and no pressure, but if you decide to go Pat and I would be very happy to pick you up and you and I could be dropped off right at the gate".  I really appreciated the offer, I mentioned to Elaine that I would love to go, but I would be walking at a snail's  pace and holding her back.  However, Elaine is also creative in her wording.  She told me that was perfect! It would give us a chance to catch up:) But she totally understood if I didn't think I could handle the heat.

     Then Mike, one of my co workers mentioned I could always be dropped off at the third base entrance and it was a straight shot up the stairs, and I would be right where I needed to be.  Now my excuses were all used up, except for possible rain... fingers crossed...

    Surprisingly, it wasn't as brutal as I expected, and being that I cover the front desk only when my BFF Maryann, isn't there, I never get to talk with her other then a few words coming and going. How cool was it to hang out! 

  It was looking like the perfect day for a ball game.  I would have never known that if I wasn't nudged a bit.
     Occasional thunder suggested that we may have ended up getting drenched, but I really didn't care. What was the worst that could happen?? My bionic leg hoopla could short out or rust,lol.

     I've seen many sun rises on my early morning bike rides, but I can't tell you the last time I experienced the beautiful sky as dusk sets in. 
     I saw pictures I thought were only possible in a painting.
                         And clouds like cotton candy.

     What?!?!  Pink?!?!?Those were for me, I'm certain!!

     However, the best feeling came over me when I noticed the night sky had hit, and I didn't turn into a pumpkin.

     I may have "outed" myself by confessing my sneaky tricks, to avoid a situation I didn't want to gamble on.  But in this case my bet paid off!!  And If I hadn't tucked that bag of excuses away, I never would have known it:)

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 12, 2016

Just because it doesn't seem big to others, doesn't mean it isn't one of my biggest fears.

     It seems like every bike ride in the past has been all about riding, and it was up to me to sneak in the scenery on my own time.

     But this past ride turned out to be organized by one of my riding buddies, Tom, and included was a tour of Bowling Green Ohio.

     There were 13 of us that met at the trail head of the Slippery Elm Trail. 
    I've been on that trail a few times before, but anytime I get the chance to go on a bike ride I'm not usually picky about where it is, as long as it's paved.

     This trail went under the highway; which is so cool!  It's not often I get to ride underneath freeway traffic and end up in one piece.

     On this ride I'll admit, there were certainly a lot of firsts for me. One lady was around eighty something and could probably ride circle around me. Another guy actually had a child carrier on the back of his bike, and he was toting a two year old little girl and an eight week old puppy.  If there was room for one more I might have asked to join them:) 


   Unexpectedly to me, it wasn't long before Tom guided us off of the the Slippery Elm Trail, and we found ourselves crossing over I-75.  Surprisingly, we all got off our bikes to observe the on coming traffic; It's not often that you get to watch huge semi trucks barreling at you at seventy miles an hour.


     And no matter how old you are, that little kid in you comes out, in the hopes of making those truck drivers pull that all too familiar horn chain. Oh, Grow up!! Never!!

     In this photo below, Tom explained to us that this was a cemetery where years ago they buried people who had no money.  Those little posts lining the lot were marked with nothing more than a number, which sadly was the only record they had of their existence. Subsequently, they lived in a building they called "the poor house". I remember as a kid hearing my parents say if we didn't watch our money we would end up in "the poor house"  whoda known it really existed at one time?!?!
     At this point, this ride was very interesting, educational, enjoyable and absolutely well within my comfort zone.  Until Tom announced that we would be riding on a small patch of gravel...

     I've mentioned that riding on gravel with my road bike was something I would never, ever, do.  I have this huge fear of wiping out and being mutilated by the sharp rocks.  However, there were 12 others on this ride and I knew they weren't going to turn around just because I'm a little freaked out.

     Of course, you know one thing I'm not afraid of, and that is to ask the question, just how big is this "little patch".  Tom Assured me it was a very short distance.  I began picturing crossing over a gravel road at an intersection.  I could suck it up and cross it.
     Yikes!!  Tom's idea of a little patch and mine are so far off!! This "little patch" was about a mile long!  However, I had no choice but to ride on it.  But I was scared out of my wits!  In fact, I was as white as the ghosts in that cemetery we just left.

     One of the other riders commented that is can't be good for a road bike... now I'm imagining my skinny little tires getting punctured by a sharp piece of gravel, and getting a flat, and spinning out of control; which is one of my other worst fears!  ugh!!
    Now don't think for one second that I was taking this picture while riding; my hands practically had to be pried from my handle bars when I was finished.  I waited until I was at the end of this road, making sure I actually made it unscathed.  But you tell me... does this look like a "little patch" to you!?!? Right!?!?

     But I survived, and was able to cross one more thing off of my lists of "never would I ever"...

     Lastly, Tom took us through the campus of Bowling Green University, where we also got quite a history lesson while we were there.
     And we didn't even have to pay the astronomical tuition fee to get an education at BG:)
     The last stop Tom had on his agenda was to get ice cream, and to someone big on delayed gratification, it was a perfect ending to an amazing ride!  Why can't all rides be like this!? :) 

Have a great day!!


Friday, August 5, 2016

How do I make sense of life and death?? FAITH

     I know blogging has always been my way of sharing with you how I get through life with all the challenges put in front of me.  But today I have to take a different vein.

    This weekend we say our final good-byes to my big brother Kevin, and at 56 years young, it was way too soon.  This wasn't supposed to happen to us.  Other people lose siblings at an early age, but it never happens in real life.  Not to me...
Kevin: back row, center

   Kevin was the kindest man you'll ever meet, and his laugh was infectious.  In fact, all of my siblings have always had each other's back.  Though we all appear to be cut from a different cloth, we never let that break our bond.  It was assumed that we would grow old together, driving each other crazy, but we all loved each other and would go the distance to prove it. 

     After many tears and feelings of anger, I've learned that making sense of why he left so soon, turning our "perfect" family of five siblings into four, in the blink of an eye, is a heck of a lot harder than learning how to adjust to a life filled with challenges.  Now I needed to figure out why someone so special can be put on this earth, only to leave before we're ready.  

    But that's where my faith comes in.  I'll be the first to admit I'm not the most religious person there is.  However, I'm extremely passionate when it comes to spirituality.  We all have a purpose for being here, even if we aren't certain what it is.  Everything happens for a reason.  Though, Kevin made a huge mark, having many friends, and a very big heart, so it's obvious why he was put here.  And now that his mission on earth is over, his Father has called him home.  And I'm certain he's our guardian angel up in heaven, looking over all of us.

     I come from a family who is big on hugs, and we're never afraid to say "I love you". 

    My faith and up bringing has helped me process all of this immensely, because I have no regrets, or thoughts of "if I only had one more day, I would have let him know."  We very seldom get a warning, and I consider myself very fortunate to have been raised in a family who has learned that today is the day.  Tomorrow may be too late.  In this case, I'm certain Kevin knew it:)  Til we meet again big Bro!! "I love you":)

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Ever wonder what it's like to ride your bike on the interstate? I sure came close!

     Well, I found a new trail in my area, which wasn't easy.  I've been on every trail within a sixty mile radius (or so I thought).  This trail, I discovered on my way up to IKEA, with my daughter and the grandbabies.  However, as a passenger, and due to idle chit chat, I lost track of how far we had been driving when I spotted it out the passenger side window, while we were traveling on Interstate 275.  Ironically, when I researched it later, I found the name to be "I 275 trail". Go figure... who came up with that clever name?!  It actually begins at Heinz Park, In Michigan, and that was where I hoped to find the starting point.

     When I ventured back up with my riding buddy, Robert, looking for the trail, what I remembered as being a quick jaunt over the state line, ended up being about an hour drive... oops...

     We never found signs for Heinz Park, but we did see the the bike trail as it ran through a rest stop off the highway; and that would be where we would begin our ride.

     As a kid, I used to love these rest stops!  All I remember was, there were usually snack machines inside, and of course, one could only hope one day my parents would cave and let us actually put coins in them... at least we were able to pick up all the "free" brochures, advertising the area attractions, our little hearts desired!! 
     Well, I wasn't looking for any free brochures, or snack machines, so I never made it inside this day...

     This bike rack would indicate that there must be someplace locally to pick up this trail, other than riding down the highway.  Maybe we'll find it eventually...

     When I researched this trail it was noted that parts of it were extremely noisy, due to the adjacent freeway traffic.  They were absolutely right! 
     The noise surely had to go down as soon as we found Heinz Park...
     But not before riding under the highway...
     It looks like somebody had a little time on their hands...

     YES!! Pink flowers! You know I live for them:)
Finally!  This looks more like it!  We were soon going to be riding in a park, rather than next to the freeway!

     Maybe not... Come on!!  A gravel trail!?!?!  Not with my road bike!!  Not in a million years would I ride on that with my skinny tires.  Sky dive, yes...  but gravel trails absolutely freak me out!

     So it was back to the noisy freeway for us.  Yes, it was loud, but at least I wouldn't be picking little pieces of gravel out of my "road rash" covered body, which was certain to be the case if I wiped out on that freaky gravel trail!  I wasn't in the mood for that!! Not today...

     Now I have one more trail to add to my list of "probably not again".  But I did learn that just because you see a bike trail from the highway doesn't mean you want to ride on it.

Have a great day!!


Friday, July 22, 2016

I thought it was a family bike ride; turns out we were chasing Pokemon!

     Last weekend I actually went on three bike rides, though one trail was new to me, so I took many pictures and planned to share them with you.

     However, the third ride absolutely blew my mind, and I just had to tell you why.

     My collage age daughter, Lindsay, was in town for a few days and the night before, she and her brother, Matt, were out "catching Pokemon".  I know by now everyone has heard of this new fad, and I am at a huge loss as to why this crazy obsession is so big.  But at least they were getting out, and spending quality family time, so I didn't ask questions.

     The next morning Lindsay asked me if I wanted to go on a roller blade/ bike ride at the park with her and Matt.  How cool was this!?!  Not only are two of my "20 something" kids hanging out together, but they wanted to invite me along!

     So we piled in the car and started heading to Maumee Bay State Park.  I really enjoy riding my bike there and it was a bonus to be spending time riding with my kids.  It wasn't long before Lindsay said "Mom, slow down here!" I was wondering if I was being a lead foot, and she was looking out for our safety.  The two then began to stare into their phones while one says "there's one right by that hotel!".  Are you kidding me!?!?  I jokingly asked Lindsay if they only invited me along so I could drive while they catch Pokemon.  She replied "No, but it is a perk!!"

     So a short while later, after capturing several of these make believe creatures, we arrived at the park.  And I'll admit, it was a great day for a ride! 
     The park was packed with people flying kites for some kind of event, obviously having to do with kites:)

     As we ventured out, I began soaking up the amazing beauty right in front of us.  I asked Matt and Lindsay which way they wanted to go, and Matt pointed and said "this way...".  Okay, I didn't care where we rode, it was just nice to be spending time with my family.  But it wasn't long before we found ourselves parked at a picnic table.  Can you guess why...?

     Yep, it turns out this park was infested with those sneaky little varmints.  So I waited for them to finish whatever it is they were doing... and said "okay, why don't we start riding:)".  Matt says "lets go down this hill".  Of course, I love a good down hill ride!  We soon made or way to the bottom of this hill, were we found ourselves in front of an amphitheater.
     Matt informs Lindsay that this is a "Pokemon station".  (a what?!?!?)  So then the two of them plant themselves on a bench, noses buried in their phones...

     Isn't this nice!? My two kids sitting on a park bench "together"!

     They eventually got a little closer, but I was here for a bike ride, and I told them I was going to ride by the lake and they could catch up with me as soon as their creatures "hatched", "finished working out at the "gym" or whatever it is they do...
     Seriously!?!?!  Look what I found down by the lake!!  It was like something straight out of the twilight zone.  grown adult, "twenty somethings", everywhere, with their faces planted in their phones.  I know these young adults were living the whole Pokemon craze as kids, and maybe it's just a happy walk down memory lane.  But I still don't get it.

          Look at this gorgeous sky!!  Why were they looking at their phones!?  Ya know how you usually say "on your  left" as you pass others on a bike trail... Well, these people were so oblivious, that I found myself saying "heads up, pick a side, or hello... coming through!!"  Oddly enough, I did actually see one guy "talking" on his Phone.  I was tempted to say " What are you doing wasting your battery on a phone call!?!? Don't you know there are Pokemon everywhere, just waiting to be caught!?!"

     Matt and Lindsay finally met up with me, but those little caricatures were right there with us.  I asked Lindsay what the prize was for this "game", she replied "Bragging rights!!".  Well, now it all makes sense!!!  At the end of the day, at least we got to spend some time together.  

      It was kind of comical to see this picture Lindsay posted on Facebook, with the caption "At Maumee Bay State Park with Christine and Matt, rollerblading and biking!"  I guess if we all fit in one picture, then it must have been true:)  Of course, I'm not sure, but I might have been in a different time zone...

     I guess I still consider myself lucky to have spent some "quality" time with my kids, in the great out doors... even if Pokemon had to join us:)

Have a great day!!