Life is filled with defining moments. Moments that change us…. for good and bad. Moments that stay with us forever. Some of these moments we go through alone and some we go through collectively. As anyone of adult age at the time, where there were on 9/11 and I would bet everyone has a story. For Many including myself December 14, 2012 is another defining moment.
Those of you that have been here awhile know that Sandy Hook Promise is close to my heart and that I have run 2 NYC Marathons as a charity runner for them. Recently, I was approached to write a blog post for them.
I was honored to be given the opportunity to share my story, but this is the story of many “soccer moms” who woke up demanding change. Change is hard. Change is slow. Change is happening…..
I still remember a year after the unthinkable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary being in the parking lot of a Toys-R-Us store. I was on the phone with a friend who has very different ideas and we were debating gun control issues. She said to me that I needed to do something because I couldn’t seem to let go of what had happened. I told her that I was doing something…… Something to bring change….. Something to help protect children in the future….. Something….. Anything…….
I also told her that I had joined a few new organizations that formed. One being Sandy Hook Promise that just formed. This has brought me to where I am today.
We all have a story to tell. We all have these defining moments. We all need to seize these moments and let them stay with us. Let them guide us. Let them change us for the better and work for the change we want to see in the world.
What is your defining moment and what have you done with it?
Often in life we wonder…. Did I make a difference? Was I effective in what I wanted to accomplish? Would Anything be different if I hadn’t been there?
Then again…. Maybe that is just me and George Bailey. If you are unfamiliar with George, you need to acquaint yourself with the classic Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life. It is one of my favorites. A classic tale of a man who is granted a wish from an angel to see what the world would be like without him. Now my hubby thinks that it is not the stellar movie that I do, so I guess it is a subjective thing. For me, it is a heartwarming story of a man who doesn’t recognize how important he is to those around him and the impact he has had on others.
I think most of us in life do not realize the impact we have on others. We go about doing our things living our lives and often we don’t know how our actions have influenced, helped, or impacted someone else. A kind word here. A deed that maybe we thought went unnoticed noticed there. Sometimes because we don’t see it, we begin to think that maybe we aren’t making a difference or no one is paying attention.
Similar but different to when people post those “I know no one reads my posts” on their social media to see who is paying attention. Not the copy and paste ones, but the real ones. Sometimes in a world filled with noise it is easy to get lost or feel invisible. So when a friend posts something like that don’t just roll your eyes, they may truly feel invisible and just need to feel seen. To feel validated. To not feel alone. Sometimes a simple Hello is all it takes to make someone feel seen.
Then there are the times we wonder if we are being seen. If the things that we do have made a change. We may never know the full impact of our words, deeds and life. There aren’t too many Clarences (angel in above movie) to show us our impact but that does not lesson it. Each and ever person’s life has an impact on another’s life. Good or bad. This is why the expression of being kind is so important. One life really does touch another. Sadly in our society, we often wait till someone is gone to express how impactful they were in life. It really is sad.
The truth of the matter we may never know how we have touched someone’s life. If you think about the people who touched your life, the people who effected your life with a word or deed (good or bad), how many of these people actually know. I thought about a 4th grade teacher who showed me kindness. I thought about people that I worked with that inspired me. I thought about words that I’ve read that have stayed with me. I’ve thought about words that were spoken to me that stayed with me. We all have moments that for one reason or another stay with us while. They stay with us because they impacted us and the other person might not even have a clue. They don’t even need to be big moments……. many of these moments are not the BIG moments in life because every moment is life is a big moment we just don’t realize it. Each day is a gift. It’s not hokey to say. It is true.
As you can tell from this post, I’ve been doing some reflections recently. I believe part of it comes from taking part in Remembering Sandy Hook with 14 Days of Actions. These actions have been showing gratitude, being kind, and self-care. Some days it was as simple as taking a moment to actually talk to a friend…. not text…. not facebook….. have a real conversation which many of us miss as we stay home due to Covid. Some days were as simple as Saying Hello to brighten someones day. Then there were the days of action taking a moment to not only think about what we are grateful for but actually write it out. These things got me thinking about the impact we all have on each other. It is much greater than we realize.
Each life has an impact on another life in ways we might never know. I think having so much time at home has mad me a little more reflective Normally, I send a million and one Christmas Cards. Maybe a slight exaggeration, but my list is long! This year, there was no great family photos to use. I joked that maybe I could take a picture of my couch as that is really where my year unfolded “Merry Christmas from my couch to yours.” Without this photo card, I was didn’t want to send cards. Then a friend said something that got me thinking how in this year of crap how something as simple as a card could make someone’s day brighter. So I changed it up. This year there is no photo card, my list is MUCH shorter, but I am going old school. Sending cards with actual handwritten messages telling those who receive something that I might not let them know enough….. How much I appreciate them. (PS – If you were previously on my list and don’t get a card, please know that I do love and appreciate you too, but time is limited!)
If you don’t already know, I want you to know………
You are important.
You make a difference.
I encourage you, let those in your life know this too.
It is a weird world right now. It is a strange and hard time right now. Even those of us getting by and staying healthy are adjusting to all the changes in our day to day lives right now. We are trying to keep it as normal as we can when there is no normal. There is just getting by.
This is the time of year many of us would start thinking about goals for the New Year. Things we hope to accomplish. Races we want to race. Distances we want to conquer. PR we want to set. As with everything in 2020, goals will be harder to set. More challenging and sadly in some cases unattainable for now.
We do not know what 2021 will bring, but we do know that all the bad juju of 2020 will not be wiped away at the stroke of midnight New Year’s Eve. I really feel that it will end much better, but it will have a bumpy beginning.
Normally I set goals. Never resolutions because I just don’t like them. I set goals. Some easily attainable. Some that need a lot of work but are still attainable. Then there are the goals that are a stretch. Goals that I have to work my ass off to reach and push myself to get there.
A few years ago, I set a goal to run a sub 2 Half Marathon. I worked with a coach. I ran often. I ran fast. I trained hard. Then the day came and I ran the NYC half in 1:59. NYRR just announced that this race will not take place next year as it is in early March and the way things are going they know that there 2021 is going to start off much like 2020 has ben all year.
2021 will be different. Simpilier…
I am setting a goal of being more connected. Now those who know me personally might be rolling their eyes and wonder how someone like me could be more connected I could be. My goal to be more connected is not about upping my online connections, but my personal connections. To be more connected to my day to day life. to disconnect a little more often from online world. To focus on the people in my life.
As I work on setting my personal goals, I saw this……
I have been participating in the Sandy Hook Promise 14 Days of Action. This is part of not just remember Sandy Hook but by honoring them by taking part in actual action. So while I think of my personal goals, I will think about some short term goals to help others. This is what I’ve come up with:
Support local small businesses this Holiday season.
Donate regularly to locate food bank
Still working on
Still working on
No matter what we do or don’t do with our goals, we must know that next year might not be the year to make big goals. Then again maybe we need big goals. Right now, I just need to keep trucking on my C25K program and see what happens.
What if there is no easy answers? What if we have no idea what tomorrow will bring? What if as each day is just like the day before, we still have no idea what the future will bring? How do we plan? How do we accept not knowing? How do we move forward and not stay stuck in limbo?
Why are there so many questions and not enough answers?
What if it is easier to ask the questions than answer them?
When will this happen?
When will that happen?
On and on it goes with no clear cut answers. No answers that you like. No answers that make things easier. No answer that doesn’t lead to another question.
What if I tell you that it won’t always be like this? What if I tell you that even in the best of times that tomorrow was never promised? That plans fall through. That life is more complicated and much simpler than we every realized. That even when you make plans, sometimes plans change. Sometimes things that you never thought would happen…. happen. Things that you only dream of….. happen.
Right now so many of us feel in limbo. We miss people that we now have to be “socially” distant from which really just means physically distant. Do you even remember the last person not in your home that you gave a hug to before this all started? Have you thought about how good it will be to give that person a hug when this is all over? I, honestly, can’t remember the last person that I hugged and that makes me sad. Althugh I believe it would have been either my mother or my friend, Jen; but I’m not sure. It was such a normal thing that at the time I might not have given it a second thought.
Second thoughts are the problem now. Second, third…. a million. We are all searching for answers but right now there are no answers. That is hard for so many reasons. How do you plan for the future when you don’t know. So many things that we took for granted before are now gone. A hug goodbye. The ability to pop in on a friend. The knowing that even if plans had to change that the world didn’t. As hard as some people want to put this pandemic behind us, it is here in our lives for a while. We have no choice but to give up the reigns and that is a hard pill to swallow.
Right now many people are planning for fall races. I was asked if I wanted to be part of the Sandy Hook Promise Team and as much as I support their cause…….as much as I like to plan….. as much as I want to; I just don’t think I can for several reasons but I go back and forth.
My first thought really is how much harder this year it would be to fundraise. People are hurting and many disposable income is gone. Businesses that have been very supportive in the past are doing all they can to survive now. While these last 2 years I have had great success with my fundraising and had expected to do it again this year, I just can’t see how that would be possible. It bothers me too because I think Sandy Hook Promise mission is worthy of all of our support.
On top of that honestly, I know so many runners are holding out hope of fall races but I don’t see how that can happen. How in a matter of months can NYC expect to host an event with 50,000 runners and their supporters. It seems like a foreign thought to me. For those holding out hope, I hope I’m wrong. It will be a strange November without a NYC Marathon but I’m sure the people of Boston felt the same way.
It is hard to plan for the future when the future is so uncertain. For me, that means just doing the things that I can do daily to make my life seem like I am not a house plant.
Exercise Daily – Check
Shower Daily – Usually
Daily walk – Usually
Try not to eat all the chocolate – I’m trying
For me…. Making a conscience effort not to plan is my plan. I would love to plan for a fall race, but I just don’t see how that can be. I would rather let that go now as, for me, that is what I need to do. This is not to say that I am giving up planning and doing. I am just going to plan and do things that are in my control. Right now I am in the process of deciding weather I want to run the NJ Parkway (172.4 miles) or the NJ Turnpike (117.2 miles) – Virtually, of course. There is an online challenge where you are in control from running the distance of the boardwalk (28 miles) to going as far as taking the Jersey Devil challenge (579 miles). These distances will be run starting May 15 through July 15th. Mile wise I’m leaning towards the Turnpike but I’m more of a Parkway girl, so I have not figured it out yet. That will be something I control.
So, for me, when the world is our of my control; I will take the control back where I can. How I can.
Tomorrow I will be stepping up the start line for my seventh marathon. Hopefully it will by the end of the day I can say that I have finished all 7. We all know that there isn’t much that is going to stop me from getting there. No matter what I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
With each marathon, I’ve learned something. Learned how to push myself. Learned that I am stronger than I realize. Learned that no matter what there is always a little more in the tank.
My first marathon, Philly, was a fluke. That year, I had trained and completed the Runner’s World Hat Trick (5k, 10k, and Half marathon all in two days). When it was over a friend nudged me to sign up for Philly the following month. One 20 mile training run later, I was in. I finished in 4:46:20. This is before I knew anything about running, so I do see humor in that I didn’t push for the 4:45 time..
Then over the next few years would run a marathon a year. For my second marathon, Marine Corps, I trained with a coach. I finished in 4:38:14. This is my current and more than likely my PR for marathon finish times. I should have PR’d my first New York as I was well trained for it, but went out way too fast not following the plan. This is a mistake I will not make tomorrow.
Two weeks after that first New York Marathon was my thyroid surgery leaving me not just without my thyroid, but also working parathyroid glands. I was determined not to let being Hypopara take away my running and the Chicago Marathon was supposed to be my one hypopara marathon and done. A way to snub my nose at it. I learned a lot in Chicago. I learned that for me the set run/walk plan doesn’t work for me. I learned that my body does NOT like running in the heat as it was very hot that year. Most of all, I learned that I can just keep going. All things being considered, an hour slower is pretty awesome.
But then, then it became about something more. Last year when I got picked to be part of the Sandy Hook Promise Team, I could not have been any more honored. I still remember sitting in a Toys R Us parking lot talking on the phone with a friend in 2013, a year after the shooting in Sandy Hook. She could not understand my pain over the horrific shooting when I was not personally involved, but I was involved. I’m a mother, that year my youngest son was also in Kindergarten. I took it very personally because this tragedy as we’ve learned over the years can happen anywhere. She couldn’t understand my pain and told me that I needed to do something as I wasn’t “getting over it.” I didn’t want to get over it, I wanted to do something. So here we are.
Although, even before last year I was involved. I did what I could, but I wanted to do more. This is my more. I can and do share the message of inclusion, stopping gun violence, and making a change. My personal friends know this to be true. I remember one year on Wear Orange for Gun Safety another friend that I ran into at a baseball game while I was wearing my orange shirt saying to me, “Isn’t every day Wear Orange day for you?” She meant this is the nicest way possible because she knows I am always spreading the message.
So here I am getting ready to run my second marathon as part of Team Sandy Hook Promise. At a lunch today it was said, “You weren’t just a number coming into Sandy Hook Promise. You were selected. Your stories and passion are what got you here……. We picked you from the heart.” So I run knowing that this isn’t about me. This is my way to not just share the Sandy Hook Promise message which I do, but about helping to support an organization that is doing so much good. Last year was my slowest marathon to date at 6:10:13; but my most memorable and favorite one.
I am honored. It is more than words. It is a truthful statement.
My goal. My only goal tomorrow is to wear my Sandy Hook Promise shirt with pride. Ok, I may also have a goal of 5:45 time but that is secondary. I know it won’t be easy, but nothing in life worthwhile is a walk in the park. I will get that walk in the park crossing the finish line. I’ve learned a lot about running since my first marathon. I’ve learned a lot about what my body can do even after becoming Hypopara. I will do what it takes knowing that I will have not just the support of family and friends, but the Sandy Hook Promise community.
This picture was taken last year during the marathon. I have taken MANY race day photos. I have NEVER taken one like this with the sun shining down on me. I look at this as a sign that I was not alone. So as I run these 26 miles, I know that the saying 26 miles for 26 angels is more than a catch phrase. It is real.
Life is filled with one new beginning after another. The road to life has many turns, backtracking, ups & downs and hopefully always moving forwards. There are many stops along the way, but the trick is not to idle too long or you may get stuck in one place.
Each journey along the road is a start of something new filled challenges, hopes, dreams and sometimes set backs. When we come to the beginning of a new road, we can either face the challenge, avoid it, change direction or drive into it. Sometimes starting a new journey is familiar. Some times it can be scary. Often a journey begins with hope.
I am about to embark on a few new journeys. Two familiar, yet not the same. One totally new and even with planning, research, and knowledge still a little frightening, exciting, and unknown.
The first journey is the beginning of my NYC Marathon training for Sandy Hook Promise. This is a journey that I faced before, yet it will still be a different road with new challenges, thrills, and hopes. This journey is scary not just for the training of the marathon but the fundraising aspect of it.
For the marathon running, I have been there done this as the saying goes. That being said, I have not done the 2019 marathon whose weather, training, and everything in between still has not been written. I am embarking on a 28 week training plan that has already started. The plan I have chosen is a basic marathon training plan with a slow build up, but will get me to the finish line. For now, I am not setting any training goals other than to finish better than last years 6 plus hour marathon. I also, for now, am not in a place to think about more than just a basic marathon training plan nor do I want to do more than be prepared.
For the marathon fundraising, I have been there done that once before; but again that was last year. This year my goal once again is $3,000 which is a scary goal that I am committed to hitting. For those who have never run as a charity runner, when you make this commitment it is not I will try. It is do and if you don’t hit your mark, you have signed a contract that you will personally make the payment. This is why you must be committed to the cause you are fundraising to which I am. I have been a believer in Sandy Hook Promise since they first organized and I signed up with them. That being said, it is a scary prospect as a mother of 3 children, one finishing his first year of college, one who is currently looking at colleges, to make a commitment like this. So far I’ve raised $50…. Gulp…… That being said, I have just started and this fundraiser is a marathon in itself.
Lastly I will also be starting a new adventure in my treatment of Hypoparathyroidism. The medication, Natpara, awaits in proper temperature in my refrigerator for the Natpara Nurse to come Monday to teach me how to prepare the mediation and give myself the daily injections. This is an exciting road that I’m hoping does not have too many bumps as I work out proper dosage and also adjust calcium supplements and Calcitrol dosage. I’m not expecting this to go without a hitch but hoping that it is easy transition. Once I start this treatment and get levels/dosage where they should be with any luck much of the issues that come from not producing the PTH hormone will be gone and my body can go back to factory settings.
New beginnings are a part of life and I’m happy to be taking these paths right now.
Those who have been here for a while know that after running the New York City Marathon last year as part of the Sandy Hook Promise Marathon Team, I said that while not saying never again that it will be a long time before I run another one. I said it. I meant it.
A year is a long time, right?
Sometimes we say things that we mean 100% at the time. Last year running NY was hard. I would say it was not as brutal as when I ran Chicago Marathon that hot, hot day; but being on the race course for 6 hours does take a toll. That being said even with it being my slowest marathon by a long shot, it was the one that I enjoyed the most. Because of where I was with my training, with my health, and why I was running; I went into NY with a whole different attitude. I went into to enjoy the experience and I did.
I walked with people along the course. I talked to them. I stopped and took photos along the bridges, with the crowds, and walked if I needed to which was a lot. Sadly, I did somehow miss the Sandy Hook Promise cheer section, but I promise not to this year.
Yup…. I am once again joining the Sandy Hook Promise NYC Marathon Fundraising Team. Anyone who knows me personally, knows that this is a cause that I champion, believe in, and put my running shoes where my mouth is.
And while a friend laughed when I told her that I was doing this again and said she knew not to believe me last year about not running again, I honestly don’t think that I would take on this daunting task if it were not for the fact that I believe so strongly in Sandy Hook Promise’s mission and if I wasn’t gearing up to start Natpara. I also have rediscovered my love for running. Things will be different. I’m going to train smarter. I’m also going to go into this once again to enjoy the experience. While maybe not walking as much, I also want to come away knowing that I enjoyed the experience of it again and did what I could to raise money for Sandy Hook Promise.
Since stepping back and starting from square one with my running, I am rediscovering not just joys of running but learning what my body needs and when it needs it. I will slowly build on my 5K training smartly and not take any of this for granted.
I will admit that I am a numbers person. I like keep track of how far I’ve run. I like to keep track of pace and distance. I am never one to run without my Garmin. That being said, there is so much more to running that sometimes we forget. Sometimes the universe sends us a curve ball to remind us.
Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with chasing time. I’ve done it. I trained hard to be able to get a sub 2 half. I was never able to obtain the 4:30 marathon or 25 minute 5K. Although I admit that I came close with a 26.26 5K and I could never shave off the 8 minutes to get the 4:30. But as much as I chased these dreams, I was never completive enough to be totally vested in them.
To me this race was never about the race, but the experience. It was about raining money for Sandy Hook Promise and trying to bring about change. It was about so much more for me. I was excited about the challenge of raising money for them. I was not equally excited about running the marathon. My heart was in the fundraising, but also in just getting to the finish line for those 26 angels who broke my heart and made me promise to try and bring about change for the future.
When I saw this picture after the race, I took this as a sign that those 26 angels were with me that day. They were the reason that I ran. They were what got me to the finish line. Yeah, I really do believe this.
It was by far my slowest marathon at 6:10:13. I can honestly say though it was my most enjoyable race ever. Not that I wasn’t in pain by mile 6. Not that I didn’t need to stop to take more calcium because I was feeling wonky from low calcium. It’s because for the first time I really, really took in my surroundings. Not chasing time allowed me to chase the experience more fully. This is not to say that when I ran for time that I didn’t enjoy it, but there was much I missed.
I missed stopping to take in this view and take a picture.
I missed helping a little old lady with a cane navigate her way across the street when she looked overwhelmed, (Seriously, I helped an old lady cross the street)
I missed walking with a man whose been running the marathon since 1978 and hearing his stories of how the marathon has changed. He loves the changes. He love the race and he loves how even though his goal now is to try to finish before dark that he is still moving.
I missed taking in the grit of a hand cyclist at he was hours into the race and still pushing through.
I missed stopping to take pictures with random strangers because I loved their sign.
I missed around mile 23 taking a power bar from a child passing them out and hearing his mother telling him that she told him someone would take it. Then seeing how excited he was. Best of all, devouring said energy bar that never tasted so good.
I missed remembering that even at my fastest the time really didn’t matter because as much as a number person I am that I had to look what my PR marathon time was (4:38), but I will always remember the 6 hours and 10 minutes and 13 seconds running this marathon took.
More tomorrow as there is always so much to unpack with a marathon!
It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything. I would like to say it is because training has been going stellar, but that might be a bit of an overreach by a lot. I’ve been plugging away doing the best that I can. I’ve been meaning to update but really what would I say….
I’m doing the bare minimum right now.
Not very inspiring.
Honest, but not very inspiring.
Since the beginning, I have said that running NY this year was not part of the plan. It only became part of the plan because of Sandy Hook Promise and wanting to be part of something to help bring about change. Although I have been plugging away with my training, my focus really has been about supporting their organization. My way of giving back to an organization that is doing amazing things and given me hope for change. This go around the marathon really isn’t about me, but about a cause so much bigger.
I’ve been pumped to raise money for Sandy Hook Promise.
I’ve not been so pumped to run.
I’ve been struggling a bit with my running. Some physical. Some mental. I will honestly be excited the day after the marathon to put this to bed. I am trying to muster up the excitement that I had last time that I ran NY, but it’s just not there. Don’t judge me for this. There is much going on right now and running is taking a back seat to much of it.
That being said, I know that NYC will be amazing and I am looking forward to running the streets of NY wearing my Sandy Hook Promise tank. I’m working it all out. Putting things in place and getting ready to get to the start and finish line of NY.
On April 7th I applied to join the Sandy Hook Promise NYC Marathon Team. I was nervous, but I also knew that this was a cause that I whole heartedly believed in. I also knew that it would be a long shot for me to make the team. To my surprise, a month latter I got notification that a spot was mine if I would accept not just the challenge of running 26.2 miles, but also agreeing to raise $3,000. As much as I knew I would say yes, I also had panic attacks thinking that if I didn’t reach my goal I would be responsible for it. That being said if I had thousands of dollars to donate on my own I would have jumped without thought, but I’ve got 3 kids with one just starting college. This was a huge commitment to take on. One that I couldn’t refuse though. There were many reasons to politely walk away.
I did it anyway.
Over the next month, there were contracts to be signed, forms to be completed, and registering through NYRR for NYC Marathon. Then I was able to get my fundraising page set up on May 30th.
Fast forward to today where I have reached my goal. I know that I have said this before, but I have been blown away time and time again during this process. It has touched my soul to see the outpouring of support for Sandy Hook Promise. I still remember talking with a friend more than a year after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. She said to me, “You are very angry and I think you need to do something.”
She was right. I was angry. I was angry that more people weren’t angry. I was angry that more wasn’t being done to prevent these tragedies which continued to happen. I was angry because I did feel helpless, but then I realized that I wasn’t alone in my anger and wanting to bring about change. As soon as I learned of the Sandy Hook Promise organization, I became a supporting member. I continued to share their message and work for change.
As time passed Sandy Hook Promise has grown into more than just a promise, but a plan of action. They have evolved. Currently they offer free to schools and communities programs such as Know the Signs, SOS signs of Suicide Prevention Program, Start with Hello, and a Safety and Intervention program. I have been told that my school district will be implementing the Start with Hello program this coming school year. These free resources to schools are not free and can only happen with the donations that are made to Sandy Hook Promise.
It is with this thought that I decided to tackle my personal fundraising. I firmly believe that we need to do better for our children. As hokey as it sounds (and you hear Whitney in your head when I say it)….
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride
To make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
This could not be more true and it is up to us as the adults to lead the way. Although there are many children who are bolding leading it too.
This whole journey from seeing the application by chance to today has been surreal. Everything has felt like it has fallen into place and each step has felt like it was meant to be even if I can honestly say there was much anxiety in the beginning. At some point though, I knew it would all fall into place and if it didn’t that was ok too. Some might see these as coincidences. I have started to see them as the signs that they are.
When I joined this campaign, I joined for no other reason than I believe in this cause and want to make a difference in the way that I can. I find it fitting that exactly 2 months to the day of starting my fundraising that I have met my goal. Even more fitting that a very dear friend was the one to take me over my goal. That being said, I am so appreciative of everyone who has supported not me, but Sandy Hook with their donations. One of my favorite expressions is Together We Can Make a difference and it is amazing to see that in action.
That being said, I’m going to continue this journey for Sandy Hook right up till I cross that finish line and even after:)