My Thanks

Disclaimer: This post is sappy and not at all about running. You’ve been warned.

Gratitude is something I have plenty of this year. And I don’t know how to put into words just how grateful I am for every single gift and opportunity I have been given.

And there is no way to express my thanks to my friends and family.

They held me together.

Me. In pieces.

They always say that you know who your true friends are in times of crisis. It’s true. My friends visited me, brought flowers, sent cards. They fed me…well, mostly JB, which is a feat in and of itself.

But mostly, my friends comforted me. When I couldn’t go out, they came to me. They never complained about having to accommodate me at every turn, never made me feel guilty for being out of commission and a big, whiny baby for the past two and a half years.

Friends take you running, colostomy bag and all.

My dearest friends, thank you.

Flying with friends.

My friends weren’t the only ones who hung by me, gross surgeries, colostomy bags and all. I have the best brothers and sisters out there. And, lucky me, I have A LOT of them.

I sincerely hope this picture is old enough and shadow-y enough to protect the identity of my siblings. Would anyone guess that’s me front and center, picking up my sunglasses? You guys look awesome, by the way.

Mr. & Mrs. Jones, Reno & Blondie, Red & the Irishman, The Golden Child & Ginger, Chi-Chi, and sweetest Peanut…I seriously have the BEST family in the world. Also, they have excellent taste in flowers and were always the first ones to arrive at the hospital room post-op.

What’d I tell you? Gorgeous.

When I was literally in pieces, they called from cities near and far to make sure I was ok. To make sure JB was ok. They asked about every step, were/are shoulders for me to lean on. Some are very broad shoulders to lean on.

Thank you. All of you.

I can’t really describe how amazing my parents are. Those of you who know them know why I use the word “amazing” without hesitation. At every turn, they were there. Every time I felt overwhelmed, they helped shoulder my burden.

They supported me from beginning to end, wiped my tears, and reminded me that it would be ok. I would never have made it through the darkness had it not been for them.

Mom & Dad got our backs, always.

For my gorgeous husband, there are no words. With every squeeze of my hand, every protective arm around my shoulder, every night I had control of the remote, every disgusting bodily function endured, every gentle kiss he said, “I love you”. I will always do my best to show him my gratitude for enduring this year with me, alongside me, often leading me in a direction I was too scared to go alone.

I love this man.

My love, my heart.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. I’m eternally grateful for the support of my extended family and all of you.

Now go out and run!

What Marathon?

Hello from post-Sandy New York City! JB and I are just fine, have power and no flooding. In other words, we are the luckiest people on the island of Manhattan.

Just outside our apartment building.

Down the block.

As I walked around my part of town and surveyed the damage, I became even more appreciative of our good fortune. Many of my friends and classmates are without power, cell phones, and all the amenities that go along with that infrastructure. And there is no end in site for them, as Con Ed works to get the power back on.

Pumping out one of the basements in Stuy Town.

This was washed ashore A FULL CITY BLOCK and demolished a car. Thankfully, it wasn’t a person.

This storm was no joke. People were killed. People are now homeless. NYU Langone Medical Center lost power and had to transport more than 200 patients to other hospitals in the middle of the night last night. Thankfully, we have a massive team of First Responders here to help.

Ready to go.

Thankfully, we still have a President who believes FEMA is important enough to fund.

Our city is trying desperately to hold it together and help one another. Downtowners, come on uptown. We got you. Our beloved Central Park is being cleaned up. Our Rivers are still washing stuff onto running paths. We have a lot to do to bring our city back to normal.

The sirens have been going all day and night. I’m just glad they’re responding to emergencies.

Debris under the FDR.

The clean-up effort has already begun and is tremendous. I high-fived a sanitation worker over on Avenue C today who was kind enough to smile at me as I passed by his job site (a massive tree that had toppled over). The city services are out in force!

The scene from Broad St. into a below ground parking garage this afternoon.

One of the tunnels that merges with the FDR downtown.

But we have a long, long way to go before things are back to where they need to be in order for us to get back to school and work and life. You know what the last thing on my mind is?

The New York City Marathon.

Yes, I am part of the Medical Team. But right now, my efforts and energy are elsewhere.

Both Bloomberg & Wittenberg say the marathon will happen and I believe them. There is far too much money in it for them to cancel such a main event for the city. It will turn into some “enduring spirit of New York-ers” sort of PR event and the city will make lots and lots of money.

I don’t care.

I feel for you who have trained for it and would be so, so disappointed if it were cancelled. I do. I’ve been there. But you know what? Let’s put things into perspective and quit bombarding the {New York} Road Runners Facebook page and Twitter account with your panicked messages.

It’s going to happen. Come as planned. Quit your bitching.

Yada, yada, yada, the bleachers are up. Quit freaking out.

That’s two days in a row that I’ve sworn on my blog. I supposed hurricanes bring out my saucy side.

As for my New York neighbors, there are plenty of places to volunteer now that we are all out of work and school for a few days:

Our NYC Marathon Medical Team needs more volunteers since so many docs were pulled away because of Sandy. Email me: runstrongereveryday{at)gmail{dot)com if you are a medical professional or student who would like to volunteer on Marathon Sunday.

Please, give of your time, your talent, and your resources to help those who are in need and those who are helping to get our fairy city back on her feet. If anything, just be thankful it wasn’t you. And quit bitching about the marathon.

(There I go again…)

Now go out and run!

PS. I will see all of you at Flywheel Sports (11:30am @ JCC), luluelmon E 66th St., and the Javits Center tomorrow. Sweating, hugging, and volunteering. Hope to see some of you there! 

Gratitude

Hey all.

Just wanted to send out a little bit of gratitude your way before tomorrow gets outta hand. Turkey, family, wine, Turkey Trots, pie, wine…mmmmm, Thanksgiving!

Even if you are a cynical bastard who thinks Thanksgiving is a crock and the Pilgrims actually stole that food (amongst other things) from the Native Americans and it’s a Hallmark Holiday, the sentiment should not be forgotten or squandered.

Giving thanks for what you have teaches you humility, which in turn gives you grace.

I am humbled by all I have been given in this world. My husband who could not be better suited for me and whom I love with my whole heart. My family which is huge and loving and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the whole world. The Obi-wans who have taught me all I know about being a good person. My gorgeous friends who selflessly share of their time and talents so that I might learn and benefit from their friendship. My teachers who decided it was a good idea to make the rest of us smarter. My city and country where the opportunities abound!

I have been given opportunities that others only dream of and I hope that I am not squandering them. I hope I am being the change I want to see in the world, one day at a time.

I hope that you know how lucky you are and that, at some point tomorrow, you take stock of what you have and give thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Gobble, gobble!

Now go out and run!

And you New Yorkers, I’ll see you in a little bit at the Turkey Trot!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Birthdays

Happy Better Than the Alternative Tuesday, everybody! Did you survive Halloween? Do you have a sugar hangover today? I do not because we don’t get trick or treaters in my building. It’s kind of a bummer because there is nothing cuter than small children in costumes. Thankfully, Blondie sent out a picture of my angel baby niece in her ladybug (ladybug!) costume right before I hit the hay last night. Now THAT was what I was waiting to see all day.

This is my favorite Halloween costume Mrs. Obi-wan ever made for me. She's so creative. I fully plan on stealing this idea for my own child someday.

Speaking of the most beautiful baby in the world, our BTAT them this week is birthdays. Hooray for birthdays!

I love me some cake

When you’re younger, birthdays are a thing to celebrate. Parties, cake, candles, presents, cake, guests, singing, cake. It’s all to celebrate the day you came into this world with people who are glad you did. I, famously, love birthdays and love celebrating them.

Hooray! It's my birthday!

As we get older and approach the “big” birthdays, something changes. 18 is a “big” one and so is 21. But as soon as 22, 23, 24 hit, people start to celebrate less and see birthdays as yet another year when they don’t have XXXX in their lives, aren’t yet married and haven’t accomplished everything they wanted to by the time they were 25. Quarter-life crisis. 30 is like an “uh-oh” for so many people I’ve known. “Uh-oh” because they don’t have a house, 2.5 kids, a dog and the perfect career. 40 is still the classic mid-life crisis time and it doesn’t seem to me that, until you get to the big 5-0, people start celebrating again.

Why isn't everyone else happy on their birthdays? There's cake, after all.

Why?

So many of my friends have become depressed around their birthdays and only half-heartedly celebrate with their family and friends.

Why is that?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past ten years, it’s that birthdays are a time of celebration. One more year here with us. I cried on my husband’s (then boyfriend) birthday the year he came home from Iraq, I was so happy he made it home. It wasn’t like it was a “big” birthday, it was his 28th, I think. It was just such a gift to have him home with all his fingers and toes. No birthday was just another birthday after that.

30th birthday? Woohoo! Let's jump out of a plane!

My closest family members having birthdays after battling cancer makes me want to jump for joy to celebrate their LIFE, their being HERE. My beloved aunts and uncles who came thisclose to not being here only to fight back and see another wonderful birthday celebrated with their kids and grandkids. It’s just so beautiful.

Don’t have the life you envisioned for yourself when you were 16? Well, you were 16 and things change. Go with it. Really cool things can happen when you least expect it. Don’t like your job? Start working on a new one. Does that mean going back to school? Don’t be scared. I’m doing it now and it’s nothing to be afraid of. You can change your life, you just have to decide to do it. You are in charge of your own happiness.

Maybe you’ve not experienced losing/almost losing someone so you don’t know what it is to truly appreciate, not just celebrate, birthdays. I get it. Not everyone has. But I hope that doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate and celebrate your own birthday just because ohmygodyou’regettingolder because that’s stupid. Yes, I said that’s STUPID.

31st birthday and there are BALLOONS!

Celebrate. Eat cake (ummm…hello, cake is yummy). Be showered with love by your friends and family. Smile. Say “thank you” when people wish you a happy birthday, not “ugh”. Take a moment and show some appreciation for the life you have had, the life you’re living and all the days to come. Because it beats the hell out of the alternative.

And if it’s your birthday and you want a shout out from me, just let me know. I’m a very good singer of the “Happy Birthday” song.

Now go out and run!

Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays: Science

Science gets a bad rap sometimes. Genetically engineered food, pesticides, all of the Terminator and Species movies, plastic surgery, fracking, combustion engines, controlled substances, vaccines…the list of what people are complaining about with regards to science goes on and on (and on and on in social media). I’m here to give science a shout-out today! I LOVE YOU, SCIENCE!!

BTAT are designed for me and you to realize what’s so great about this world that we live in and why it’s so much better to be here than not. Science makes our lives better. It just does. There really is no arguing that point. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and get specific with why science is the topic of our BTAT this week.

Science keeps my loved ones (and me) alive.

Multiple sclerosis, cancer, ulcerative colitis, lupus, Sjogren’s, heart disease, cataracts, nearsightedness, diabetes and asthma are just some of our family’s ailments. And a hearty majority of our family are still here because of science. Science saves lives. Science makes our lives easier, more tolerable. Science allows many of my cousins (and me!) to keep our parents around to meet their grandchildren. Science is GOOD.

The more I learn about science, the more respect I have for those who devote their lives to the field. To them I say: “Thank you. But, you’re not done yet. Cure cancer, please. But most of all, thank you.”

Science made your running shoes. And your GPS watch. And all those wonderful Shot Bloks that get you through long runs. And treadmills. And velcro! Where would we be without velcro? And science made the POJs smell less yucky.

I’m grateful for science and all those wonderful discoveries that allow us to be here rather than there. Science beats the crap out of the alternative again and again.

You go, science.

Now go out and run!