I ran a 10k race this weekend. When I was at my race I looked around at all the runners and thought of their stories. I wondered why they were running. Did they have something to prove? What were their challenges? How did their training go? I wondered which of the runners had stories like mine. I wanted to know how many of them fought for this race. I wanted to know how much this race meant to each and every one of them.
For you see, I haven’t always been a runner. In fact when first I signed up for cross country running in seventh grade, I’m not even sure I knew what cross country was. I remember my dad chuckling at the thought of me running every day after school because I was the kid who walked most of the mile run in gym class. Even during the first part of that cross country season I walked during my races. Something changed for me mid-year. I found out that I could run and I did enjoy it. I became strong and fast. What started for me as a way to spend more time away from home became a sport that I loved. In my new found love of running I was part of an amazing team. My cross country team was made up of great, fun loving people. I was happy when I ran and I could see myself running for the rest of my life. I began to have hopes and dreams of some day running a marathon.
After high school, I took a break from running. I was busy trying to figure out how to be an adult. I had a job and stuff to do. While I never totally forgot my dream of running a marathon, my focus shifted. Then Friday night, July 24th, 1992 my dreams of running a marathon were taken away from me by force. I was in a car accident that broke my pelvis, fractured two of my vertebrae, left me with nerve damage, and toes that no longer worked. Worse of all I had been about thirty six weeks pregnant. I was due to have my first child in about a month. On July 25th I gave birth to my still born daughter, Shea Marie.
I spent years in depression. I was in so much physical and mental pain I sometimes still wonder how I survived. I was told by doctors that there was nothing they could do for the nerve damage, but slowly, year by year, I started to heal. There were eventually times I didn’t need a cane to walk. There were eventually days where I didn’t burst out in random tears and cry myself to sleep at night. I started to dream of running again.
Each year I would strap on my running shoes and try. It was hard. Physically my body didn’t want to work. I would run a block and my foot would cramp up. I would spend the rest of the day fighting the massive cramps in my foot and crying from the pain. I pressed on. I forced it time and time again. I had decided that I would run again, that physically I would heal.
It has taken me almost sixteen years of small victories and painful setbacks, but I ran my first race since high school this weekend. I was nervous and afraid. I ran the whole way and while my time was a far cry from where it used to be, I’m proud. I finished my race and proved to myself that I can do it. This race was not only for me. I dedicated this race to my daughter, Shea Marie.
Just the other day I received a copy of the autobiography of Star Von Bunny from my sister. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Star Von Bunny, she is a beautiful bunny who became a top model. I read about her adventures and stardom and immediately fell in love with her. Imagine my surprise when on my run this morning I see laying in the side of the road her cousin, Star Von Bear.
I was on my four mile run. I was tired and sore. I was stiff and hurting, mentally exhausted. There she was, laying there in the gutter on the corner County Road 9 and Vicksburg. I saw her and my heart ached, but I ran past. I had a run to do. I had things to get to. I had goals to achieve and places to be. I NEEDED this run.
Stride after stride I could not get her off my mind. Who’s bear was she? Why was she there? How did she get lost? Is someone looking for her?
I struggled to my half-way marker and I knew I would have to stop and see her on my way back.
She looked tired. She was dirty and sad, long forgotten and quite a bit mad. She was hurt, hungry, and confused. She needed a hug, a kind word, a bath, and a meal. I picked her up slowly so I wouldn’t hurt her anymore. I held her gingerly and decided to bring her home.
The trip was difficult at first. I held her little, dirty body out away from mine. I was afraid of her filth. I didn’t want the mud and the sand against me. I had my cutest running shirt on and what if she stained it? What if she dripped on my shoes? And as I ran and thought of her life and where I found her, what she had been through….I gripped her against my chest. I held her tight to tell her that I was happy to have found her. I wanted to let her know that she would be okay. I would take care of her. I would clean her up. I would hug her. I would laugh with her and let her sleep in my bed. I will love her.
To the little girl or boy who lost Star Von Bear at the corner of County Road 9 and Vicksburg: I found her. I know she’s not “mine” and I will love her for you until you need her again.
I was recently invited to a girl’s pj party. I know, it might seem that I am a bit too old for pjs and toilet papering, but I’m not. The invitation was a nice surprise. It was being hosted by a woman who I think is amazingly intelligent and kind. In fact, when I got my e-vite and glanced through the who’s invited list, I asked myself (out loud), “Why did I get invited?” The women who were on the e-vite list totally outclassed me.
The day of the pj party came. Of those who responded “yes”, I was the only plain-ordinary-less-then-highly-intelligent, woman going. I called my sister in a panic. My only question: “What if they don’t like me?” and in her brilliant-don’t-take-shit-from-anyone-way she responded. “It’s not like middle school. They don’t invite the one girl from the trailer park to make fun of any more.” Not to be outdone by her common sense I say, “but they are all really smart and stuff. They know Shakespeare and read The Classics.” “What if they don’t like me?” I say again, just in case she didn’t understand the question. And she says one of the most profound things I have ever heard. She says, “Not everyone has to like you.”
WHAT?!?!? I make her say it again. “Not. Everyone. Has. To. Like. You.” she says. In that moment a sense of relief washed over me. It’s true. Not everyone has to like me.
I’m silly and immature. I’m fun and most often crazy. I’m sensitive and strong. I often try hard to not cry. I forget people’s names and don’t remember birthdays. I haven’t been to college and I use spell check a lot. My hair is naturally wavy and unnaturally died. I hate making decisions and I love potatoes. I’ve hurt and I’ve been hurt. I’m bold and insecure. I’m usually right, but when I’m wrong I admit it.
I’m me and you don’t have to like me ~ but I sure hope you do :)
It started innocently enough. Dreams as a young child of being a fairy princess. Feeling myself having the grace and beauty of a prima ballerina (sans the mutilated feet), spending my days with the “nobles”, attending several tea parties with The Queen, always donning my tiara and tutu.
The changes happened slowly. The tiara and tutu were turned into “dress up clothes”. They were only to be used during slumber parties or when playing with the little sister. Then somewhere along the line it became uncool to be a princess. Most girls were coveting Olivia Newton John or Madonna. The princess gear was tossed in the back of the closet collecting dust with the barrage of stuffed animals. My heart was still aching for the sparkle of the tiara…the swish of the perfect spinning dress, but it was time to grow up.
So I did the right thing. I grew up. I got married (twice) and had kids (mine, his, and ours). I had jobs, bought a mini-van, and a house. I quit singing to songs on the radio. I wore grown up clothes and shoes. I even started wearing socks in the winter. I balanced my check book and paid my bills on time. My princess dreams were kept alive by my sister, a note card here, an ornament there…tiny reminders of what was in my heart so long ago.
And then some where in suburbia it hit me! I was not predetermined to be a boring, middle class wife and mother.
NO, I was born to be a Mother Freakin‘ Princess!