Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Gratitude List

A wise owl recently imparted some words of wisdom to me while on a long run. It was during a discussion of future plans, goals, and dreams for the coming year that she reminded me that we so often become focused on what we hope to do better, faster, and bigger each new year ~ whether it be in regards to triathlon or in our personal lives ~ that we forget to acknowledge what we have already accomplished and we rarely take the time to appreciate that which we have worked for. Our culture seems to push us to always want more, and for those of us that are hard-wired to overachieve, we sometimes forget to reflect on where we started and who and what along the way helped us to get to where we are.

With this being the last day of the year 2011 I decided to express my gratitude to those people, experiences, and moments that have helped shape me this past year. I write so much about bucket lists, future goals, and dreams that I sometimes forget to acknowledge the here and now. This is that moment.

2011 has been the most difficult year of my 41 year life. It would be easy to focus on the negative right now. I recently have experienced a tremendous loss with the sudden and unexpected illness and death of my father. I have been caring for a mother who is grieving and suffering from one medical complication after another. I lost faith in the belief that all people in my "inner circle" were of strong character, and for the first time in my life began to doubt my own judgement in regards to friendships. I've struggled with loneliness, grief, and relationships. Tonight I am putting 2011 to rest.

There are moments and experiences in life that we know shape us into who we are and into who we want to be. When I think back on 2011 I can think of many, but have chosen to list a few that are especially meaningful to me:

  • Accomplishing my goal of an official 70.3 finish and doing it alone, without cheerleaders, as my final journey with a battle that raged in my brain for two years.
  • Participating in the Falcons Youth Triathlon Camp as Camp Director and being part of an incredible experience for all of our athletes. It reminded me why I love this sport and the people who give of their time to help others.
  • This is the year I gained confidence in swimming. Not only have I learned to control my fear of the water, I have turned my limiter into my strength, and have learned to love what for 40 years I despised.
  • Chicken Shwarma MENSA Meetings (aka World Domination Meetings) with Lizard. These are lunches where for a short while the world stands still and everything falls into place.
  • Being at my father's bedside as he passed from this world ~ the hardest thing I have ever done, but a moment I am eternally grateful for. A moment that has shaped me was standing alone at his funeral and expressing my thoughts and feelings about him one last time, and as I struggled with my words looking into a sea of friends who were there to support me.
As far as the people of this past year that I am grateful for, there are too many to list, but there are a handful that I want to publicly acknowledge. There are so many more who are listed in my heart.
  • My husband Hill ~ this coming year will be our 20th anniversary. We have had a challenging year in so many ways, but you have stood by me in my times of need. You accept me for who I am, good and bad. You allow me to challenge myself in ways you might not understand and you adjust to let me do things you know are important to me. I love you and I know we can continue to work together to set a good example for our kids.
  • My children Chase, Justin, and Ashlen ~ my littlest yet often biggest supporters. Your eagerness to experience life is contagious. You constantly remind me to appreciate the small things and to live every day to the fullest.
  • My dear friend since childhood, Fae ~ you are my rock and are always just a phone call away. I love that no matter how separate our lives may seem, in an instant you are there when I need you. You know everything about me yet still love me as a sister. You make me laugh when all I want to do is cry, you hold me up when I am down, and you kick me in the ass when I need a shove forward. I'll always be there for you friend.
  • My Coach, my CEO, and my friend Anne ~ You've taken a beating from me lately and yet you haven't run away. You are a source of comfort and direction for me, and help me to better myself in so many ways. With so many hats that we wear, ours is a complex friendship, but one that I think will stand the test of time. I am grateful for your support, guidance, and patience. You have helped me to accomplish things I never thought possible and I know you see potential in me that I don't see. Thank you for being someone I know I can trust.
  • My Big-Sis Lizard ~ You are a wise and gentle soul. You are a natural teacher, a life counselor, and a mentor. You have taken me under your wing and helped me through a difficult year. Whenever life gives me lemons, you help me make lemonade. I cherish our lunches and your friendship.
  • My FitBirds ~ You all have no idea how much you mean to me. You all in your own way have shown me support, have encouraged me, have helped me stand tall, and have pushed me to push myself. You motivate me and inspire me. You make me laugh hard, and you always offer a shoulder when needed. Your outpouring of support these past few months in particular has meant the world to me. Whether you've helped to outfit me, flat iron my hair, apply my makeup, or keep me from drowning, you are always there in your own ways. I look forward to many more adventures.
  • My long lost cousin Jill ~ Life has strange twists and turns and this twist I never saw coming. I am so glad we have re-connected. You have helped to shape my life since I was a child, and I am so glad to be entering the next phase of my life with you by my side. Love you cuz.
As the end of the year approached I found myself struggling. My expectations for the holidays have been low. I have been ready for this year to just end. These past few days in particular have been hard. Today was a good day. Why? Because it was simple. It was a "back to the basics" kind of day. It was filled with the things I love ~ exercise, friends, laughs, entertainment, and... the hope of good things to come.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life. 
You all have shaped me in some way. I am grateful to you all.

Happy New Year and Welcome 2012!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bucket List Revival

We've been down this road before. The "make life meaningful" blog, the "don't take things for granted" posts, the "set goals for yourself" ideas. It's nearing the end of December, this year has been a *bitch*, and it's time to make some progress on things I want to do in my life. This brings me to the update of my Bucket List.

I've made some progress on my list since my Revisiting of The Bucket List  post in May of 2010. I am now able to check off a Half-Marathon and an "official" 70.3 distance Half-Ironman. But I have other dreams besides triathlon related items. This year I am editing my list, making my goals more specific and attainable, and less global. My plan now is to check off at least 2 items a year on my list. Enough talking, it's time for action.

This year's focus? Adventure. I plan to (1) sky-dive as a birthday present to myself while in Virginia this summer.  I plan to (2) get my first passport and travel outside of the country (albeit not very far away) to Canada to broaden my horizons and I plan to (3) work towards my 2013 Bucket List item of completing a full Ironman by completing two 70.3 distance races this year as part of my training.

So, now (drum roll)... the unveiling of Bucket List 2012:

Items that have already been achieved are listed in blue. Some items from the past have been rejected as Bucket List items. Items in red are planned for this year. New items are in green.

  1. Write and publish a book.
  2. Remain happily married to the same man (ongoing).
  3. Have children (took a while and did it a different way, but same outcome... headache)
  4. Skydive.
  5. Obtain the rank of Black Belt in a martial art.
  6. Officially complete a Half-Ironman.
  7. Officially complete a Full-Ironman.
  8. Go to Kona and watch the Ironman Championship.
  9. Go camping alone for a weekend.
  10. Get a cool tattoo I design myself to symbolize #7.
  11. Own a black Jeep Wrangler that I can put my road bike on the back of!
  12. Own a convertible.
  13. Run a half-marathon.
  14. Run a full marathon.
  15. Sail a boat around an island.
  16. Make a significant, life-changing difference in someone's life.
  17. Ride a horse on a tropical beach at sunset.
  18. Go on a mission trip in a foreign country.
  19. Swim with dolphins.
  20. Go to a Joan Jett concert.
  21. Converse in adequate Spanish in a foreign country in order to be understood and to understand conversation.
  22. Travel outside of the U.S. (in particular: Canada, Italy, Caribbean, Belize)
  23. Open my own business (and build it enough to financially cover my hobby expenses)
  24. Find my biological family.
  25. Climb a mountain and watch the sunset with friends.
  26. Rock climb and rappel a moderate size cliff.
  27. Go snow-skiing on real powder snow.
  28. Hike part of the Appalachian Trail.
  29. Snorkel around a tropical island.
  30. Scuba dive on vacation.
  31. Save someone's life; respond to an emergency situation.
  32. Watch a baby being born (got to watch my daughter's birth).
Life is short and as this year has taught me can be very difficult. There are so many pleasures that God has awaiting me in the world it is a shame to not work to experience as many of them as I can. I hope that by participating in these activities and by achieving my goals that I will gain self-esteem, confidence, and learn to rely on myself for affirmation of my abilities and become less emotionally dependent on others. I pray that 2012 brings me good health, peace of mind, focus, sanity, and the ability to achieve what I have set out to do.

And to my readers, again, I ask you... what's on your Bucket List?