Like many people I was so looking forward to 2011. While every new year shines with the new possibilities, the last few years have had me anticipating the calendar change even more. In 2004 I embarked on a new career and found a niche I thoroughly love, that of being a healthcare chaplain. In 2005 I was in my chaplain residency and had the opportunity to work with a 1200-pound man. As I got to know more about his story, I saw too many parallels with my own. At that point I was almost pushing 300 pounds. My “fat pants” were starting to get a little snug. He was in the ICU and sedated for a large portion of our visits. So I would sit there, hold his hand, and talk to him about whatever I could think of just so he heard a voice that had something other than “OK, it’s time to bathe you.” After 2 months of working with him 5-6 days a week, I decided I was changing my life. I went home and changed the way I looked at food. I got a workout DVD so I could get more exercise than the walking I did around the large hospital campus. As I shed weight, I noticed my knees weren’t hurting me as much. Yeah, go figure. So one day I thought: Hmmm, I wonder if I can run now.
The next time I went to the walking path in a greenbelt, I decided to jog. I ended up doing a mile! I’ve had knee troubles since I was 11, so I wanted to wait and see what would happen. No pain. The next day and things still felt good, so I did 1-1/2 miles. A couple of days later, I did 2. I got excited! Maybe I could do this! FINALLY! So I picked a 5K that was a few months away and decided I’d do it.
I think I beamed for days after finishing that. Friends asked Will you do a marathon? “No way! Marathons are for insane people!” Long story short, 3 months later I found myself running my 1st marathon. Even sweeter was that it was held at a park I used to go to watch my former stepson during some of his cross country meets. I had trouble walking around the park back then, and now I was running 26.2 freakin miles. I ended up walking for 3 miles toward the finish secondary to dehydration, but with only 3 months of training going from couch potato to marathoner, I wasn’t going to beat myself up.
Then I discovered these things called ultras. An ultra marathon is anything longer than a marathon. About 3 months after running my 1st marathon I was finishing my first 50K (31 miles). I was hooked, officially gone over to the dark side.
In 2006 I went to Paris to fulfill a lifelong dream and doubled it by running a marathon there as well. I had been putting off adopting a child because I felt like I needed some time to actually live for myself for a change. During my last night in Paris, I was sitting in Altitude 95 in the Eiffel Tower, drinking a kir royale, eyes watery as I looked out over the City of Lights feeling so incredibly lucky, and I knew it was time. I had done what I needed to do before I adopted. I returned home and called the local county office. Lo and behold, they had another session of the requisite classes that night, and I could attend. Four months later my first son moved in. He was adopted in Feb, and then a year later, my next son (Tigger) moved in with us.
“C” had a LOT of issues due to his traumatic history with his bio family. As he approached adolescence they got so much worse that he would spend the next 2-1/2 yrs living away from us, and 2009 ended up being the year of pain for me as we began our last-ditch effort to get his violence controlled enough that he could return home, or at least to live in a home environment rather than in an institution.
On New Year’s Eve of 2009, I remembered the effigies that people in Ecuador burned during their NYE celebration, and so I made an effigy of 2009, threw it in the fire, and gave 2009 the finger as the clock struck and officially moved us into 2010.
2010 would be the year of transformation for me. Between July and December I would visit Peru, have my life-altering moments with @FamilyOnBikes, have to officially end my relationship with my oldest child in order to get him services and save the rest of the family, my grandfather died after a trauma, then my beloved dog Pepe suffered a head injury during a tussle with another dog and had to be put down, and over Thanksgiving weekend my father killed himself. Needless to say, I was more than ready to wave buh-bye to 2010. Yeah, it got the finger too. Sure I grew a lot, learned a lot about myself, and had some wonderful experiences, but wow did it rake me through the coals! Still, it was also the year that I decided to drastically transform myself on my own terms. That’s right, Universe, you had your fun. Now it’s MY turn.
I came back from Peru set on taking Tigger to Africa. I did my first century ride (101 miles by bicycle), and by October I would’ve had more discussions with @FamilyOnBikes (Tigger has some special needs & with her being a special ed teacher, I needed validation that I wasn’t going to be harming him by unschooling him while doing world travel) and tweeted with @GotPassport about living in Thailand. In spite of my need to have security, know where I’m living, have a steady and secure job, I would end up throwing all of it into the wind and saying We’re doing it! The announcement was made and plans begun for my indefinite round-the-world trip with Tigger. So after being visited by the Year of Pain and then the Year of Transformation, I proclaimed 2011 to be the Year of Adventure. I’m sure it will include components of other years. It’s hard to be alive and not experience some of them, but I really do believe we create our own reality, and so the universe has been forewarned: This year, we’re livin’ large!