Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Before and After Post

The end of 2007 was a mad dash of home improvements, and being someone who loves the 'before and after' of any makeover show - I took pictures.

(Ignore, if you can, the leaf pile) It was the g-d holly bushes. They were pretty for about 2 weeks out of every year, when the berries came out all pretty and bright red. The rest of the year I spent trying to trim them into some kind of symmetric submission, or picking the pointy-ass leaves out of my socks and/or feet.

Ta-DA! What isn't captured in this picture, is the repainted the shutters, porch swing and the new pretty front door with a oval shaped window in it. Also, no little task was replacing all the concrete edging around the now- empty beds. Of note, I didn't do this very hard work, I paid someone fantastic to do it for me. As my across-the-street-neighbor said to me as we watched Mr. fantastic drag dismembered holly bush pieces to the street "It sure is nice to watch someone else work". Heh.


This was my ugly deck. It was teeny and while there was room for a grill, a grill and say, a table and chairs was just too much. So....


TA-DA! It still needs to be stained, but ugly deck is gone! I am in lurve with this new deck. I am often wasting time searching for the patio furniture that will soon live here. My boss and co-workers have already started spouting suggestions for low-bush-shrub-flower-things to plant around the edge of the curvy part there, and I am open to suggestions, remember, low-maintenance, hardy, and not holly bushes.

Now, if North Carolina will just get warm enough to enjoy the outside of my house I'll be all set.

You're invited by the way, if you happen to find yourself out this way.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Staci's quote

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?...”
Marianne Williamson

One of my sister-friends has this quote in it’s entirety on her web page. I’ve gone to her page to read it once a week now for about a month. I keep coming back to it - there is something here for me.

I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being “dark and twisty” and I can’t totally disagree. Left to wander in my own mind, I tend to lean heavily towards the dark, the worst-case scenario, even when it brings me to tears, as it often does. I don’t know when this started, or why.

This quote has left me wondering if it’s a cop-out. Is it simply easier for me to think of the downside then to imagine the possibility of the upside?

Aside from the uncharacteristic brutal cold that is gripping my fair home state this week this was a near perfect day for me. The sky was so sharply blue against the winter landscape it looked like it would cut you. There was snow in my yard and on my car when I left the house, just enough to be pretty. My biggest worry was whether or not 7 layers was enough.

At lunch with my dog trainers – my dog and I were complimented, my dog even toasted. The year ahead for him, is looking very bright, and I am in love with the journey. JR said he admired my patience in dog training (if you know me, I’ll wait for you to stop laughing at the idea of me being patient) and wanted to know where I got that. The only answer I had was that I really am enjoying the process. I read my dog well, and when I see him get frustrated, I don’t find myself frustrated, I find myself asking myself, ‘how can I make this clear to him?’. When I see the light bulb go on for him.. I am insanely proud and I catch myself imagining the possibilities. The best ones.

A friend has invited me to run a half marathon with her this spring. If I can just stay injury free, I’m going to make it happen - we are both normally solitary runners. We can and occasionally do run with others which is something I (sort of) enjoy but still feel a little awkward about. Ms. Manners didn’t include a running partner segment in any of her books, and frankly, I suck at being polite when I’m sweating my arse off. This friend though, we are in sync when 900 miles separate us. I have no doubt that running with her will be as natural as lacing my shoes before I start.

Already, there have been opportunities presented to me this year I’ve never even considered. I’m amazed and excited, and yes, a little freaked out, but for the most part, I am happy to see them come my way, grateful for a chance at something bigger than I imagined.

I will not ask for more than moments of contentment with the (scary) unknown things ahead. I’m far more comfortable with my dark side, but this year, maybe I’ll follow some running advice and just “get comfortable being uncomfortable."

If change was easy, it'd be boring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January 5th

Wikipedia tells me that January 5th is the 5th day of the Gregorian calendar, and that there are 360 days left in the calendar year.

Other cool things Wikipedia knows about January 5th include;

In 1757 Louis XV survived an assassination attempt
In 1759 George Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis
In 1909 Colombia recognized the independence of Panama
In 1914 Ford Motor Company announced the 8 hour workday and a minimum wage of 5
bucks an hour. (Don’t spend all that in one place)
In 1940 The FCC got its first taste of FM radio (amen, brother)
In 1970 All My Children premiered
In 1993 Washington State executed a man by HANGING (yes, really in 1993)
In 1997 Russian forces pulled out of Chechnya

Also on January 5th…
Walter Mondale, Robert Duvall, Charlie Rose, Diane Keaton, Grant Young, and Marilyn Manson were born .

All in all, a not totally uncool day.
For me, it’s the day I got the phone call from the Fairfax County Police to tell me my brother had been found dead in his home.

The jack-ass I talked to on the phone that day was almost as sensitive as steel wool. After he identified himself as being a member of the “death squad” (storm-trooper anyone?) and him telling me it looked like my brother had been dead for several days and that his dog had to “forcibly removed from the home” I was ready to kick in his teeth. Just as soon as I found something to fill the gaping hole in my chest.

I remember sometime early on promising myself I wouldn’t memorialize this day. I wouldn’t remember it every year. I didn’t want to do that. Yet, every year since, starting right around thanksgiving - January 5th almost glows on my calendar. I can feel it coming, and I quietly start looking for a way to pass that day.

In 2005, Jan 5th fell on the day of my Team in Training Bon Voyage Party. We were leaving for Bermuda to run the marathon later that week, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society threw us a party. I took the whole day off from work, got a sports massage and a haircut and joined my teammates for dinner and drinks. I’d only started running the previous July – and quit smoking just 1 day before I started running. I trained all winter, running my longest distance of 18 miles on December 26th in 18 degree weather.

In 2006, my friends took me out to a place in Georgetown, called the Birdcage. There was no mention of the ‘anniversary’ not a word. They knew, of course, being the same friends that scraped me off the living room floor two years earlier, propped me up, took me to bail the from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, and somehow kept me from driving into the nearest bridge abutment/off a bridge/into oncoming traffic. These friends cheered for me as I ran around Bermuda the year before. They were there at the finish line with tears in their eyes and water and Corona in their hands, they helped me soak my swollen blistered feet, and they bought me a post race massage. There was much to say, and they said it just by being there.

In 2007, I met some other girlfriends at Snowshoe Ski resort, it wasn’t planned, and these girlfriends had no idea about the date. I remember noting it, and thinking that Mark would have loved to hear about that weekend, the things we did, the laughs we shared, the fried green tomatoes. I remember crying all the way down the mountain at the end of the weekend wishing desperately I could call him and share the weekends stories – I remember the dull thud of realization, knowing utterly and completely that this is what I would miss the most - the inability to share the rest of my life with him.

In 2008, I packed myself and my young dog off to a dog seminar with Ivan Balabanov. One of my very favorite things about the dog sport I do is that working with the man that has won every level competition he’s entered (from local to World Championships) for the last several years is as simple as making a phone call, paying a little money and spending 9 hours in a car. So off I went. This year, I was completely aware of the date. Those people who tell you it gets easier – they are lying. I still feel the cold spot in my heart the way you feel a draft from a not fully closed window in February.
I ran to Plant City, Florida to get warm. It almost worked. I spent two days 12 hours each totally immersed in dogs and training and other people as into (read insane) their dogs as I am mine. I worked hard, I trained hard, and I had fun. Ivan made a point to tell me what a nice puppy I had and what great potential we had as a team. It was overwhelming but felt so good.

I left Plant City at 4:20 in the morning, stopping to get gas and Starbucks and then cried every bit of the 110 miles down I-4 to 95.

I am not so dense as to miss the fact that I am spending this day each year wrapped in the things and people I love. Whatever ability I have to “man up” is obliterated on this day, I am simply, in need.

I am not particularly proud of this, but I refuse to be ashamed.