Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finding Inspiration In Likely Places

It's been a few weeks since my last post.  I've been wanting post, but I haven't really wanted to just post about my workout routine and how my cycling is going.  Those are beginning to become boring and tedious posts to me.  I have been waiting for some sort of inspiration.  Something with a little more depth than the number of reps and miles i've managed to make my body do (for those tuning in to know, my workouts are going well and my biking has gotten up to between 20 and 50 miles a day, two to three times a week).  This week, I have found my inspiration.  It's really quite embarrassing that it has taken this long to see it.  It's always around me and is one the biggest influences in my life.  My reason to get out of bed in the morning and muddle through another mundane day of work.  The cause of so much of the happiness in my life.  The backbone of my body of work to date. 

Two nights ago, after another evening of rushed dinners, scrambled time with the kids before the bedtime routine, and that awkward silence between the kids going to bed and our own bedtime (ahhh... silence at last... i feel like I should be doing something to take advantage of the freedom... yet I don't want to do anything but sit on my butt and enjoy the quiet), Andi and I went to sleep like we normally do.  For the most part.

She is usually in bed before me since she gets up earlier and leaves for work earlier.  That night, I went to bed earlier and Andi stayed up later to read a book she's been working on, no doubt enjoying her very rare "Mommy Time".  One of the reasons she was staying up later was she was planning on going in to work later.  We had no help from her parents scheduled for Friday since they were out of town.  So she was going to be doing the dressing, feeding and dropping off of the kids.  She was going to get an extra hour or two of sleep than normal.  A minor cause for celebration in her mind, I'm sure of it. 

As is it seems to happen in our household, whatever we may have planned is often rudely disrupted by simple acts of Life.  Two planned trips to the Caribbean for some R and R?  Two pregnancies that caused cancellations.  One turned out great... the other not so much (but that's a topic for another time).  Finally get student loans paid off and ready to really start socking some money away?  National economic disaster that leads to layoffs, job loss and the disappearance of paychecks.  Plan to sleep in a couple of hours later than normal?  A 2am phone call to come to work because some jackass with mental issues decides to shoot up a theater full of movie goers in a neighboring city.

Yep.  As fortunate as we are (and trust me, we are truly blessed and lucky to have everything that we have), sometimes it feels like we can't catch a break.  I'm sure that everyone and every couple out there has felt this way at some point in their own lives.  Some might be feeling it now.  Some might have felt it a year ago.  Some might feel it tomorrow or a year from now.  Friday morning was another one of those times for us.  Well, at least for me. 

When that phone call came in at 2am, it startled me from sleep.  Andi said she had to go to work because there was a mass shooting at an Aurora Theater.  "Aurora???"  I thought.  "That's not Jefferson County".  I figured it must have been pretty bad for them to have called her department to help out.  She then said as much, and proceded to get dressed to head out.  No complaints about not being able to sleep in.  Ashamedly, my initial reaction wasn't a hope that whoever was involved was okay.  My initial reaction was "Crap.  This is going to ruin my morning.  How in the hell are the kids going to get to daycare and camp at 8am if i have to be at work at 7am???"  I was thinking about the inconvenience this was causing ME.  At times, and then was one of them, I can be a very selfish prick. 

Needless to say, we figured out ways of getting things done (mostly involving me being late for work).  After dropping the kids off, I started the drive to work and turned on the radio to one of the local news-talk stations.  Until then I didn't know anything about the shooting aside from the fact that there had been one.  I had avoided the news in the morning with the kids around because I didn't want to have to try and explain anything bad that might have happened.  Once the eye-witness accounts started coming out, and after listening to a recording of some of the back and forth between the officers on scene and the 911 dispatchers during the shooting, I came to realize that my wife is a hero.  Not a badged or caped hero, but an unsung hero that ought to be recognized as one.  She would hate that I'm saying this and propping her up on a pedestal, but it is the truth.

For those who don't know, my wife has worked the last ten years for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.  Not as an officer, but as a Director for their Victim-Witness Assistance Program.  She coordinates the day-to-day tasks of her staff and volunteers to handle issues with victims and witnesses of crimes.  Some of this seems rather boring and mundane.  Such as calling up a victim or witness to a crime to let them know that a court date has been rescheduled.  But there is a TON of stuff that she and her department do that is simply amazing.  There is on-scene assistance which is immeasurabley important.  They provide an enormous amount of support for these victims and witnesses beyond the courtroom, such as guiding them to counselors, coordinating safe houses for abuse victims, dealing with death notifications.  The things they hear and see on a day-to-day basis are things that can ruin other peoples lives. 

To know that she and her department were involved in helping the families and loved ones of the dozens of victims and hundreds of witnesses is something that I am very proud of.  The fact that she can take a 2am call and head off to an unknown but surely horrific scene, provide the assistance and care and support that these people need and deserve, to listen to the stories (almost always tragic in some way), and then come home and be a full-time mother to our two kids and a full-time wife to me, is nothing short of heroic.  Just being a wife to me is heroic enough.  The other two can seem like piling on at times.  And i'm completely fine with being piled on.  She will help anyone in need of help.  She undoubtedly always puts herself last on any running priority list that she may be keeping.  And she does all of this work without complaint.  Well, at least the professional, monetarily compensated job.  There are certainly 100% justifiable complaints about the mom and wfe jobs.  Again, a topic for another post. 

The truth is, I worry about what she does.  Mostly, and selfishly, about how it will affect her and us and the kids.  I have already seen affects in some areas.  And she would acknowledge it.  How does this affect ME?  MY LIFE?  It takes a monent like the theater shootings to put some perspective on it. 

You see, my wife has never taken a pledge to "serve and protect" like any police, firefighters, or military personnel would.  Yet she most definitely serves.  And she protects.  Not lives, but peoples rights.  What she does as a profession every day is incredibly under the radar.  Yet it is every bit as important as some of the other professions that get all of the attention (cops, firefighters, military and teachers).  I have come to realize this truth and have learned that as much as I don't like to sometimes, I have to share this woman with the rest of the world.  Because the world needs her and the many people like her.  She is the Wonder Woman of my world.  I thank God for her every day for what she gives to and does for me, and for what she gives to and does for our community. 

She quite simply is

my inspiration.      


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Letter to My Body, By Andi

My sister introduced me to a blog called Tamara Out Loud.  Please check it out.  I especially like Tamara’s posts on parenting and body image.  She is so funny!  And so real.  Maybe too real.  She says things I think but I sometimes don’t want to admit that I think them.   A very recent post Tamara published was a letter to her body.  It choked me up a bit.  Again, she’s too real.  She suggested at the bottom the post for her readers to do the same.  And I thought I would give it a shot. 

Dear BFF,
Here we are, nearly 38 year later.  That’s a long time to be with one person!  But it does not seem that long because I really didn’t even realize you were here until I was close to nine.  To say I have taken you for granted is an understatement.  But even before I realized you were here for me 100%, you were propelling me through childhood allowing me to run, climb those red rocks behind the house, do cartwheels in the living room and live each day with unlimited energy.  Back then, I never thought fondly of you.  I never thought of you at all! It was all me.  You were the unsung friend.  Then one day, when I was doing cartwheels in the living room I remember my dad saying I had “thunder thighs.”  He was obviously talking about you.  Thunder thighs?  Looking back I’m shocked how delicate my feelings were at nine.  He could have meant strength.  He could have meant power.  I heard him say fat.  I knew fat was bad.  And then I realized you were there. 
As I am sure you realize by now, the next 29 years we have had quite a love hate relationship.  I remember trying to fit in with the athletic girls and blaming you for the fact I could not keep up.  Looking back, it was probably my will power but I couldn’t admit that so I blamed you.  And I never really became very athletic.   Instead I was an athlete poser and that did a doozie on my psyche.  And what happens when we start messing with our psyche?  That’s right, we start neglecting and abusing those that we should love the most.  Like you. 
Yes, those lard filled chocolate cupcakes with pretty icing swirls drawn on the top were so good.  And soda!  Yum.  I have no idea why I could not equate eating well to health but lucky for me, back then I could fill you up with some of the worst poison and you would bounce back!  I don’t know how you did it.  Lord knows you can’t keep up now.
Do you remember graduation day when my boyfriend commented on a little pudge on your bicep?  I know I should have been pissed with him for such insensitivity but I blamed you for making me feel bad.  So what did I do?  Yep, I had the last straw with you, or so I thought.  That summer I gave up fat and picked up running.  You shrank.  I lost about 20 pounds.  I also remember picking up the attention of a 28 year old Marine.  Scary!  So now, and through collage, I realized you did indeed have some untapped power.  But that was difficult power to wrangle as I introduced you to the “freshman 15.”  And yoyo dieting.  I remember feeding you a diet of hard boiled eggs, hotdogs, grapefruit and red beets for two weeks.  I think the weekend alcohol use negated the promises of the results if this crazy diet.  The good news for me was I knew I was not alone.  The love/hate relationship we had was so similar to that of my great college friends and their BFFs.  But I remember liking their BFFs so much more than you.  Sorry.
But you still stood by me.  Even after marriage and a 20 pound weight gain, you still gave me your all and I ended up birthing (yes actually birthing!) two humans!  How did you do that?  You are amazing.  And you made milk for them?  That really shocked me. I did not know I had it in me.  You.   And I think it was at this point when I realized, I need you just as much as you need me.  And I had not been good to you.  You produced miracles while I was ignoring you.  Again, sorry. 
And now here we are.  Approaching 40.  Yes, forty.  Four, Zero.  40.  Ten less than fifty.  And at last I look at you and admire how hard you are around my arms and shoulders.  You have this curve on my calf that I never knew was possible.  You might feel like I have been abusing you even more this year with pulling you out of bed at 4 am.  You might sometimes hate me for making you run when you are creaking in the knees.  You might call me bad names when I increase the weights and expect you to lift another twelve reps.  But I hope you realize how good you look and how good you feel.  I still see the soft pouch covering what I expect are strong abs.  I do wish you would let that fat fall off somehow.  I know some of our clothes still don’t fit great and you may not feel 100% in them.  I don’t either.  I too see the twenty something year old girls who just started at the gym and who don’t have the tummy or the thunder thighs.  I know we won’t be able to look like that again.  But I do wonder if they will look like us when they’re 38.    
Please, hang in there with me.  I hear the creaks and I also feel the pain that I cause you with these work-outs.  Your sweat suggests tears but I really think they are your way of telling me “we did good today.”  I promise to give you more good food to allow you to do these things I make you do.  The things I expect from you.  I promise to stop judging you with the scale and stop looking at you with disgust in the mirror.  I realize you are only as good as me and I have control over me.  No, you don’t bounce back as easily anymore.  I hope you will continue to remind me of that fact when I drink too much or eat too much crap.  Feel free to stick it to me.  I may need those reminders now and then and I promise not to blame you for that pain.  I have no one to blame but me and my choices. 
So these are my promises to you.  And here is a promise to my kids.  I promise to lift you up.  To complement you and be cognizant to your feeling and plights.  I promise to look out for the best interest in your mental, emotional and physical health.  I promise to limit your sugar, make you eat your veggies and find healthier choices.  I promise to encourage you to find physical activities you enjoy and want to partake in.  I promise to love you at any size and never judge you or allow you to judge others on how your body is growing and propelling you through your life.