And that’s a wrap

Last year I went and watched some friends race in the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon. I was kinda kicking around the idea of doing it but wanted to see the set up first. The whole thing was exciting so I decided then to do it this year. At the time, I expected to be out on the course with my several different friends and training partners and my husband to be my cheering section (and sherpa). As it turns out, one friend was injured and couldn’t train or race this season. A local trail race changed the weekend it was held and conflicted with Emmett and all of my regular training partners had already signed up for that one before they realized the conflict. And then my husband had to travel for work. Triathlon is essentially a single person sport. You can race it as a relay team but even then, you are on your own for whatever piece you’re doing. You are responsible for your own performance. You are ultimately responsible for your training. But. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that you’re never alone. And that community is a big part of what keeps me coming back.

Earlier this week I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to do one last open water swim with me. A woman I met a few years ago through the Pulse training group not only agreed to go out with me, she put together a whole group, complete with kayak support. And then she stuck with me the whole time even though she could have easily left me in her wake and swam twice as far as me. That same group of people were at the race today and offered up support, encouragement and cheers throughout the day.

This morning I got to the parking lot to load my bike on the transports up to T1. I had ridden briefly last night to check my tires and felt fine with them then. But Jon always airs them up for me and I’m notorious for thinking they’re fine when they’re a bit mushy. As I pulled my bike out this morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the fact that HE WASN’T THERE. A friend was coming to meet and support me but at that moment, I just wanted my husband to reassure me that the bike was fine. I stood staring at my tires for a moment, second guessing if they were really okay and trying to talk myself out of crying. An older couple were unpacking next to me. He glanced over and then asked if he could check and air up my tires for me. I nearly burst into those tears and instead word vomited all over them. “Yes! My husband usually takes care of this but had to fly out of the country and I’m suddenly freaking out a little not having him here and I’ll know I’ll be fine but I don’t know if my bike is or not and I really want him here…” The husband calmly took my bike and then wife proceeded to talk me down. We turned out to have quite a bit of common interests and friends. It was a big “small world” moment and incredibly reassuring to me. I felt like God put them specifically in my path to remind me that He’s still caring for me, even in these relatively trivial moments. And then the wife touched base with me several times throughout the morning until she saw I had other people around me.

I was setting up my bike transition and a woman near me started up a conversation. We stood and talked about 15 minutes, like we had known each other for years. She cheered for me, by name, when she passed me on the course later. And we talked afterwards, when we saw each other at our cars.

I had numerous mini conversations and encouraging words from random athletes on the course. I may have not had my usual training partners and friends to chase down but I was surrounded by people who bond over this crazy sport and who, inevitably, make sure no one is alone. It’s an incredible community.

But. Can I tell you the REAL heroes? They’re the friends and family that don’t bond over this crazy sport. They find it only mildly interesting and only because they love me. And yet they listen patiently as I discuss times and training sessions and various other triathlon related minutia. They forgive me missing events and social outings and conversations because I’m training or sleeping. They show up early on Saturday mornings and stand for several hours in the heat just to yell my name for a few seconds (and hold my stuff). My husband supports me taking hours away from our weekends for bike rides and swims. He endures weeks of sub-par, quick dinners because I have to get in a run after work and pauses his schedule to do bike maintenance on MY schedule. These dear people. They did not choose triathlon but they patiently endure it.

I stood in cold water at 9:35 this morning and crossed the finish line one hour and fifty eight minutes later, finishing out my 2017 triathlon season. No one else swam that course for me. No one else pedaled my bike or took even one of the steps away from me for 3.1 miles. No one else put in the training for me. But when I crossed the line today, it was to wrap up a season that was ONLY made possible due to the people around me.

End of an Era

Early last November our roommate moved into our extra bedroom with her dog. In six months we’ve had many late night talks, watched a lot of stand up comedy and laughed. A lot. Usually at her exhausted, caffeine fueled antics. Because she’s 20 and rarely sleeps.

Yesterday she moved out.

Last night the house felt empty and quiet. She’s not home much (see above: 20 years old). But this bouncy guy was:

He was entertaining and fun and loving. But definitely not quiet. Or still.

(Can I just say? This has to be one of my favorite shots I’ve ever taken of an animal ever.)

It’s a good move for her. And it’s on good terms. But it’s definitely the end of an era.

Winter Jam 2011 Boise ID – Kutless

I enjoy live music. A lot. I always have. There are quite a few artists that I have been *excited*…giddy even…to see live. But. I rarely get “star struck”. I spent way too many hours days in my past life behind stages and around tour buses for that. It’s not a glamorous job. Cool, yes. But not glamorous and so it’s hard to view these people – as talented as they might be – as anything more than a person who leads a drastically different life than I do*.

That being said, there are moments in life are defined by music; moments that change the course of our personal history with a song. And when our life becomes entangled with those notes, the musicians become more than strangers on the radio.

My friend Katie had such a moment just over a year ago. It is her story, personal and compelling. But that moment changed her path and led her into our life. And last night, she allowed me to participate in another phase of that storyline.

Last night she had the opportunity at Winter Jam 2011 to meet those musicians who impacted her and she asked me to go with her. I’ll admit, I had to go the band’s website before leaving the office. I knew- & really like – a lot of their songs but knew absolutely nothing about the guys behind the music. I didn’t even know what they looked like!! (We weren’t sure I’d be able to get away from the office in time to join her. As a result all the pictures I took were with my cell phone. I have NEVER regretted taking a camera with me, even if it doesn’t get used.  I have often regretted NOT having one. This is one of those times. Why my brain took a leave of absence & I left my point & shoot locked in my desk, I’ll never know.)

clockwise: James, Nick/Jon, Jeff, Dave

I am glad I was blessed enough to join them though. And I don’t use the word “blessed” lightly. I had no idea what to expect and went primarily as Katie’s friend. However, these young men blew me away, not only with their talent, but also with their personalities and hearts. They understand that they’ve been gifted for a purpose; that God has placed them on this path and given them this responsibility. They have shouldered this privilege of touching thousands of people, of speaking directly into lives and hearts, of carrying God’s message to the masses. They are talented, yes, amazingly so. But they are also humble and genuine.The sparkle in their eyes, their grins, their honest interactions with each other and us, the obvious love for their families in attendance – those are the details that turned this from a mere experience to a blessing.

The best part though? It wasn’t hearing songs from the new (unreleased) album. (Although I’m actually EXCITED for the album now).

It wasn’t the smooth, rich acoustic tones. (Although Jon ‘s vocals are overwhelmingly better unprocessed and in person. He now ranks as one of my favorite vocalists just because it’s so…clean and clear) (Think he’d be offended if I referred to his voice as “dulcet”?) (Too bad)

It wasn’t even the opportunity to meet and talk with Jeff’s mom. (Although that was one of my definite highlights. She’s a pretty awesome woman).

No – the best part was the expression of pure happiness on my friend’s face the. whole. time. It was getting to watch/hear Kutless figure out how to do “her” song acoustically, for the first time, on the fly, especially for her. It was getting to witness one of her dreams coming true.

Jame's "J" tat, Jon singing, Kutless tagged guitar case

(A write up of the full Winter Jam experience is in the works. But I knew this one hour out of the night needed a post of it’s own. And really – it could’ve been much longer.)

*I do have a habit of developing “crushes” on especially talented musicians – male & female – but have finally realized I really crush on their musical abilities, not them personally.

Have you ever been gifted with someone’s story that left you completely speechless?

Not like “Wow – that’s horrific! Now I understand why you’re bat $h!t crazy”.

No…where you’re left feeling that you’ve been given a true gift with the presence of this person in your life.

I had one of those moments yesterday where I read, then re-read (and re-read…) an email in amazement. The story (of someone dear to my family and I) absolutely illuminated the depth of her character and pureness of her heart. She demonstrates what it truly means to be a friend to everyone, to exude compassion, to cover everyone in unconditional love.  It is humbling to watch her light flicker, then burn brightly, and a delight to learn a little more about what it means to be God’s hands and feet.

Feeling loved

I haven’t felt totally up to snuff the past week or so and by Sunday night was really feeling pretty miserable. By yesterday I sounded like a 400 lb asthmatic.

(For the record, I am neither 400 lbs nor asthmatic.) (Although I have displayed signs of exercise induced asthma recently.) (But that’s beyond the point, really).

Last night my husband made the executive decision that I would stay home from work. I argued and cried and explained why I didn’t want to be THAT person…the one who uses a sick day at the first sign of a sniffle…and he didn’t budge. So I called my boss and proceeded to sleep until noon. Then I got up feeling MUCH better and decided to wash dishes that had been sitting on the counter since SATURDAY night. I was almost done when a friend of ours appeared on the porch, gift bag in hand. She asked if I was doing stuff for someone else. I denied that and said “I’m just washing dishes!”. She sighed heavily, said “Do you have pants on?” I nodded, she let herself in, handed me the bag and said “Your face sounds ugly when you talk. You’re sick. You sound sick. Sit down.” She then proceeded to finish the dishes, told me sitting at my computer would be ok, gave me a long distance hug and blew out as quickly as she blew in.

But to understand the full epic-ness of this event, you have to see the contents of the gift bag.

Included was:

  • a bat mitzvah card (She makes a point to always give/send the most random cards possible). The note on the front reads “To the most adorable sick person evAR (I’m a nurse. I konw what I’m talking about. I’m right. Don’t argue w/me!) ”  The note inside was totally sweet and was accompanied by $5 and the order to use it for “Rhoni deserves good coffee time”
  • a bag of Ghirardelli chocolate – the note on it reads “Nom nom! Extra excuse to go to the gym!”
  • one of those awesome ceramic coffee cups – it’s note said “You can put your bat mitzvah $ coffee in here so everytime you drink your tea you remember your special rite of Jewish passage.” By this point I’m already laughing so hard I can hardly breathe.
  • Celestial Sleepytime tea – “If you continue to refuse to take care of yourself, have some tea at least. (This is my passive agressive way of drugging you. If you won’t take a break, I’ll force you.)” I guess she EXPECTED to find me up and doing stuff?
  • Hall’s Warm Ups (which are AMAZING by the way) – “Your nose be trippin 😦 Here’s a band aid for it.”
  • Hall’s Triple Action drops – “For the sake of variety, here’s another kind for your adorable little nose”
  • pink fuzzy slipper socks – “Toes are people too. And yours deserve a hug. Just not directly from me. ha.”
  • a stack of post its with instructions to use on someone else when I felt better.

Like I said. Epic. I am wearing my fuzzy slippers. I just drank hot chocolate out of my mug. And I’m about to use some of those Halls drops while I lay on the couch. Because I hate to admit it but I am kinda worn out. But this has been the most awesome sick day ever. I’ve been grinning since she stopped by. This woman? She takes loving people to a whole new level.

Tenuous connections

This internet is an odd place. I’ve encountered idiots and found plenty of reasons to be concerned for the future of the human race. But on the flip side, I’ve stayed in touch with friends that are close to my heart yet across the country from me physically. I met my husband online and the genesis of our relationship happened through chats, webcam and phone calls. I’ve connected with some fabulous women that I now consider true friends despite the fact that we’ve never spent time in the same room, (or even the same state). And then there are the people whose blog you read, enjoy & comment on. The ones you interact with on Twitter, even exchange a few emails…and then they drop off the face of the planet. Or at least off the face of cyberspace.

I thought of one such woman this week and started trying to find her again. Her blog was gone. Her Twitter stream inactive, her Facebook page filled with spam but no new content. I took a chance and sent a quick note to the generic contact email from her website – separate from the blog and just as inactive as her Twitter. I just basically noted that I’d thought of her, hadn’t seen any updates and hoped all was well.

She responded within 10 minutes. Seems all is NOT well. She is enduring a difficult and painful upheaval in her life. She is struggling for strength on a daily basis. She’s hurting. She didn’t feel it was appropriate to share with the general public – and she’s right – but she gave me the general over view. And it broke my heart.

I hid in the bathroom until I knew no more tears were going to spill over. I didn’t want to explain to coworkers who refuse to use a computer after work hours and can barely function with one during that I was grieving for someone I’d never met. It doesn’t matter that I don’t truly know her. I still pray for a miraculous intervention, for peace, for healing, for wisdom in her life. I will probably never know what happens, where she ends up. But then again – the internet is an odd place. Maybe our online selves will intersect again someday.

Friends

It’s amazing how a simple comment can make you realize just how truly special a friend is; how one minor statement can suddenly make you grateful for the fabulous people in your life.  Not everyone is going to get along or like each other. That’s the nature of different personalities, experiences and just human nature in general. Unfortunatly that divergence of personalities sometimes festers until venom is spewed. It’s important to remember that’s rarely a result of that disconnect but a symptom of a personal issue within the source.  Still – when that level of posion is aimed in your general direction twice within a week, it’s reassuring to be able to reach out to the connections around you.  The comfort doesn’t come from being personally bolstered but a simple recognition that there is an abudance of light and happiness and yes, even sanity, that flows from remarkable people. I am surrounded by a network of friends who are mind-blowingly incredible and sometimes that just needs to be recognized. 

But sometimes, one truly reaches out and touches you – and to her today I say thank you. I loved you before for who you’ve been to mutual loved ones and the awesome core person I saw. I love you even more today for who you are to me.