As you all may know, I’ve been in the midst of writing a memoir about the story of my father. Last weekend, I went to the International Women’s Writing Conference and generated some interest in my story. Please check out my guest blog post:
For a little over a month now, I’ve struggled with the reality that you’ve gone. There have been many times where I’ve wanted to forget and even a few that I did picking the phone to call before catching myself.
So often I’ve longed to hear that familiar “Hey hello” on the other end. I’ve needed the advice that only you can give about why my tomato plant isn’t doing as well as it should, how to make one of your recipes, or why I shouldn’t care about what other people think.
I’ve wanted the comfort that only you can give me knowing that I could tell you my deepest darkest secret without ever having to worry about you telling someone else or have to worry about you thinking less of me.
I’ve missed the interesting way you looked at the world and how you freely shared your perspectives. I’ve missed your “tell-it-like-it-is” nature saying not always what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear. (99 out of 100 times you were right too.)
I’ve missed being able to call you when I’m feeling upset and without even having to say anything, you sensed that I felt sad following with, “What’s a matter honey girl?” Then through my inaudible sobs you listened although I could also sense that while I was crying, you were too. You would wait until I finished everything I had to say and then in your comforting tone would say, ”Aww, don’t be sad sweetheart. Please don’t cry.”
I’ve needed the laughs we used to share through our many adventures, chats and the stories you would tell. I also miss the good times we would share curled up on the couch with the cats watching Dr. Phil while playing the role of Dr. Phil during the commercial breaks saying what we thought the guests needed to do.
I’ve missed so much, actually, too much to write.
I’ve tried to put my finger on this process they call grief, but I must tell you the only thing I’ve mastered is that every day is more unpredictable than the last. I’ve asked questions. I’ve heard advice from others on how this will somehow make sense someday or get better with time. I’ve read things that you need to do and things that you need not do. I’ve went to church, I’ve prayed, I’ve journaled, I’ve exercised, I’ve shared, I’ve done just about everything that I know how to do.
It still hurts. I still get upset. I continue to grieve.
I’ve learned to function day-by-day because I know that you wouldn’t want me to do this any other way. However, there are some days like today where the grief fills my body. You would have been 90 years old today Gram. There’s not a day that goes by where you don’t cross my mind, not a day goes by. I miss you terribly and love you dearly. Happy first birthday in heaven. Until we meet again…
I am happy to announce the launch of my brand new soup blog “Soup E. Doup“. As some of you may know, I am an avid souper and I have been thinking about doing something like this for a while. The new blog will not be as writing intensive as Running to Get On The Bus. This will allow me to be intentional about trying to post something every day. So what will you see on Soup E. Doup:
4. Fun Soup Facts
5. Souping Adventures
This blog will have a very different feel than Running to Get On The Bus, which leads me to the next question. With the launch of my new blog, some fans of this blog have written me concerned that this one is ending. Let me clear up the rumors once and for all, THIS BLOG IS STILL CONTINUING. The only thing that changes is instead of one medium to read me, you now have two.
Running to Get On The Bus will continue (with your help of continuing to read it and also pass it onto others, of course) to be the writing heavy blog. I will still talk about my training and other inspirational stories. I appreciate everyone on here who continues to read and follow my adventures.
Love to all!
Last Friday, I made a running/souping date with my good friend Kimberly. We were to get together for a relaxing day of running outside in the cold and then we would recover in the warmth while tasting our amazing (and they were truly yummy) homemade soups.
However, my ulterior motive was to try to knock out a 6-miler, which I had planned to do for the weekend. Although Kimberly told me that she wasn’t sure if this would be a great idea, I had it in my mind that it would. In my mind, nothing beats running with a buddy vs. running solo.
We went to my normal running trail on Friday after Kimberly arrived and we were greeted by the freezing cold winds. We started out and for the first mile or so, we were warming up and doing well. However, you could tell that we just weren’t totally feeling it. (I think out of the courtesy we didn’t say anything to one another). At about mile 1.5 or so, we stopped and stretched. We both made causal comments about the cold, our concerns for potential injuries and the time, as we still wanted to try to pull off making four soups.
We quickly decided to not kid ourselves anymore and we ended up just running out to the two mile marker and back, making our 6-miler into a 4-miler. For a minute, we both did what most runners do when their goals don’t match their realities. We became our own worst critics and then, we made excuses.
However, what we quickly realized in this all is that we just weren’t feeling it. Our bodies and our minds were saying ‘not today’ and we had decided to listen to them. We finished the run strong and although we didn’t do that 6-miler, I was proud of us for being able to do what we did.
Too often, runners beat themselves up. They push themselves when their inner motivation just isn’t there. Although there are some tricks of the trade to get your mind into the game, you must listen to what your body and your mind is saying. On certain days, even the most committed runners just would rather be doing something else. By recognizing this and stepping away, you are cutting your losses for potential injury and you are preserving your inner strength for the next run.
And there will always be a next run. Yesterday, I cranked out the 6-miler plus at the gym. I felt great, my pace was good and I was able to finish strong. I think the reason why I was able to appreciate days like yesterday is that I had a day like Friday. So remember, when you say ‘not today’, it is really ‘a okay’. Just go home and make yourself some soup!
At times, the English language and I have a little disagreement. From having had a grandfather who invented his own words to growing up in the city of Pittsburgh, which has its own “Pittsburghese Dictionary”, sometimes I get a little confused.
I also have to admit that sometimes, I just plain out disagree with the rules of grammar. Today my gripe is about the word “happy”. According to the rules of grammar, happy is an adjective, a way that we describe a current state. Ex: Maria looks happy. Although this may be true, I feel that the English language gives everyone a pass to say that happiness is somehow out of our control. It is something that we feel when the stars align for us in the right way. This, my friends, is BS.
One of the powerful and also hard lessons I had to learn over my 30 years is that if you are waiting for happiness, get ready for one really, really long wait. I truly believe that in order to obtain happiness, you have to make it into an action.
My brother-in-law recently shared a great book with me to kick off my new year. It is called, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin and if you haven’t read it, go out and get yourself a copy. Throughout the book, Rubin identifies ways in which she wants to be more proactive in obtaining happiness in her life. She uses her current wisdom to formulate her “Secrets of Adulthood,” which consists of advice she’s learned like always bring a sweater and other people don’t notice your mistakes as much as you do. She then targets her “12 Commandments”. These include twelve different individualized themes that she works on throughout the year. Each month is a theme and each theme has its own set of individualized goals. Ex: In her marriage theme, one of her goals is to stop nagging her husband. She chronicles her experiences throughout the year and she tweeks the goals that contradict her Secrets to Adulthood. I won’t say anymore other than her transformation will leave you thinking about ways in which you can start your own Happiness Project.
You know as well as I, that life has an interesting way of throwing us curve balls. No one stands at the top of the mountain forever, even though sometimes jealousy can cause us to think this. Even if you have lead a seemingly status quo existence, one day your are bound to trip and when you do, I hope that you chose to disagree with the English language as well. Go out there today and make happiness a verb!
I received a very interesting Christmas gift this year from my in-laws “The Complete Runner’s Day-By-Day Log 2012 Calendar.” The calendar holds you accountable for your workouts everyday and encourages you to push your mileage and speed weekly and overtime, which is just what I need for 2012.
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I’m still missing my Gram terribly, but I’m feeling reassured that she is right here with me. I am certain of this not only by all the eerie things that have been happening throughout this past week, but also through everyday situations which have not otherwise been planned. One of my final memories with her was watching the Steeler’s game and on Wednesday evening, Kelly received a call from her friend asking her if he knew of anyone who would want to go to the Steelers/Browns game?
So on Thursday, my mom and I attended our first Steeler’s game. At the half time show when Rusted Root, a native Pittsburgh band, came out and sang their hit song “Send Me On My Way,” it felt as though it was her giving us a message from up above. The tears came, but also I was able to smile knowing how happy she must be being united with loved ones that have passed before us.
On Friday when we left Pittsburgh for Baltimore to attend the wedding of Joe’s best friend (Steve Kaplan), I was also a bit nervous. Weddings are such happy occasions and I was feeling a little less than joyful to say the least. As we drove down to Baltimore, I was trying to figure out how I would occupy my day as Joe would be busy doing groomsmanly duties with Steve. It wasn’t that there weren’t options available for me and people there I could meet, which Joe would have been happy to arrange; however, I just wasn’t feeling incredibly social and didn’t really have the energy.
I decided that I would probably spend my day in the hotel lobby catching up on e-mails until I received a text which I’m sure was sent from above. ”Good Morning Maria, when are you coming this way again? I hope I didn’t miss you. I would love to see you so when you have a free moment give me a call.”
It was Stella* my old Get On The Bus friend. She had recently moved to the DC area and when we chatted a few weeks ago prior to anything happening, I told her that I would be heading down to DC this weekend for the wedding. In the midst of everything, I had forgotten all about calling her and trying to connect with her for the day.
As we exchanged texts back and forth and I told her all about my week, we had both decided that it was fate that brought us together. She had agreed that we needed to hang out for the day and this is what she had written to me prior to us getting together:
“Well, you know my philosophy Maria, God knows just what we need and just when we need it and his heart is full of Holy Hook-ups for us!… I don’t know what to say, but God be the Glory and I just seek to please him with my life… Whether you know it or not, effortlessly you have blessed the lives of so many (including my own). I told you that I would never forget what you and Get On The Bus did for my boys. You have no idea how much of an Honor that God is allowing me (of all people) to share and comfort you today.”
At about 1:00 pm on Friday, after almost 2 years of not seeing one another, I hopped into Stella’s* van and we went on a drive. We exchanged tears of joy, sorrow and pain (as she too had recently lost her brother), but we had a camaraderie that many people can’t understand. We met through a challenging time in her life and through it we became friends and now when I needed a shoulder, she was the one there for me.
Thank you does not begin to express how blessed I have felt by her presence and the presence of my friends and family. Just as Stella* said to me years ago, “your kindness does not go unnoticed. I will never forget what you all have been doing for me and my family.”
*Names have been changed.
As some of you might be aware, my gram Helen passed away suddenly and unexpectedly this past Sunday. As you all know from reading my blog, she was an integral part of my life and the matriarch of our family. My sister and I got a chance to share the memories of her at the funeral and many people have asked for copies of our speeches. However, in the midst of everything, I realized I forgot to write down who wanted the speech, so I’m posting it here for anyone to print out. I’d also like to thank everyone for their kind words, thoughts and prayers for our family during this very difficult time.