Aide

Four years ago today I ran what would be my last marathon. I did not know that at the time but I had an idea….I was tired. Training is difficult, time consuming and takes a toll on the body.
I just could not sit on the sidelines. The FOMO was real and I needed to be out there on Marathon day….so what is a girl to do? VOLUNTEER!
Two years ago my friend Khit asked for help with her aide station and jumped at the chance. I was put in charge of Gatotrade. Now, to some that would not be a big deal, but to me it was huge. I was in change of a battalion of volunteers that mix, pour and serve Gatorade to runners. Mixing it correctly is important…too weak and runners do not get enough nourishment. Too strong and runners get sick. Prepping table to serve it all is a big deal as well. Layers of cups are filled and often blow off the tables.
The day is long and starts early. I was up and ready to go by 4:30am, finishing about 12:30/1pm. And yes….wearing the tutu!
In between all that time, we are serving and cheering runners. Our aide station is about mile 12. Today it was unusually busy, even though the number of runners was lower than in past years. Why? Medical tent. Today was hot and humid. The conditions went from yellow to red as the day progressed and that progression was evident in the faces and bodies of runners.
Spotting hurting runners and keeping spectators off the course as well as out of the medical area was a full time job today. I mean….people do not like to be told no and feel a bit entitled sometimes. I was called a bitch 39 times. I was shooting for an even 40 but….it is a dream deferred! Like the Cub fan I am…there is always next year!
I was cheering runners all morning. The elite runners are a site to behold but the wheelchair athletes, endurance athletes, and those with special needs? Those folks are my inspiration!
“You got this!”
“Today is your Day!”
“You are going to finish and get a medal today!”
“You look so strong and amazing!”
I shouted and high fived runners as they passed for hours. Eventually a spectator called me over to the side. She looked at her young son and said, “tell her what you just said…” The teacher in my thinks she is trying to teach a lesson…..and yes, she was.
“I said that you are really inspirational. If I were running this, you would make me feel so good.”
I stood, stunned for a minute and replied, “These runners are MY inspiration. I know what is takes to train for and run a marathon. It is not easy and someday WHEN you run the marathon, I will be right her to cheer you on!”
He smiled and so did I….and then I was back to cheering on the runners.
I saw 2 of my former students running (one of which cheered for me once before!). I saw my friend, the running priest! I saw so many friends who knew just where I would be. The two most important, my BRF (best running friend) and another running buddy of ours gave me tight long sweaty hugs that I will never forget. The transfer of energy was electric!
As the end drew near, there were still runners on the course….walking now but determined to finish. We started to break things down and clean up and the crowds thinned. I took a moment, standing in the middle of the street and took it all in…all that had been accomplished by not only the runners, but the volunteers as well.
The Chicago Marathon only happens because so many people work so hard in tandem with others to make it all possible. It is no small operation.
Once everything was picked up and packed up, it was time to say goodbye and head home. Another year in the books. My heart is so full.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Grace

In the early stages of my divorce I was so deep in my trauma that my response was to over explain and/or justify my behaviors. It was something my therapist and I worked on a great deal. She wanted me to learn to count to 10 before responding to my kids, a text, an email….. I tried it……
The whole counting to 10 thing did nothing but frustrate me.
10… 9…..8….
fuck.
this.
shit!
I’m done.
By the time I got to three I had inevitably done something or said something I would later regret.
I was reading everything given to my by my therapist and others. I was trying all the suggestions. I was depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, abused and deep in trauma.
I was on the couch one day flipping through the channels and stopped on Mel Robbin’s talk show. I felt like she was talking to me. So I pulled out my phone and googled her. The 5 Second Rule came up with a link to her Ted Talk. I clicked the link and watched.
The 5-second rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. …. Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.
5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
That was it…..I didn’t need 10 seconds. I needed 5. I needed 5 seconds to change my thoughts, take action, make a move, maybe even not respond at all.
Therefore I adopted the Five Second Rule. I counted down from five when I could not get off the couch or out of bed. I counted down from five before responding to emails, texts or comments. I counted down from five when I needed to make a choice. I counted down from five over and over……
I realized that counting down from 5 offered me to allow myself, and others, grace. I could take action or slow my responses. So I started saying the word “grace” five times before taking action. It was working. And then I realized that the word ‘grace” has five letters. So I started spelling out the word grace. Slow and steady. That gave me time to think and not get frustrated. I had time to chose my next step…or just force myself to take a step. I could choose how I wanted to respond, or not respond at all.
Grace. I was now giving myself, and others, grace. Even when others did not or do not respond with grace, I could and did.
I have learned a great deal about myself and others over the past few years. But one of the most important things I have learned is grace…..with myself and others.
Next time you are tempted to respond out of emotion, the next time you feel paralyzed, take 5 seconds and spell the word grace. You will realize that you are able respond from a place of understanding and grace.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Timehop

I have a love/hate relationship with Timehop and the daily memories it shows me.
I hate it because it reminds me of memories I would rather forget but I love it because it reminds me of all the good times and, more importantly, how far I have come.
Today, today was one of those not so great memory days. It is funny because yesterday something triggered this memory. I scrolled Timehop today to see the photos of that day and it all came flooding back….like watching a rerun of an old TV show I had seen a million times.
It was a Tuesday. My girls were already in school and we had to take a drive to take the jet ski out of the water near my parents home as it was the end of the season. My wasband, young son and I loaded up and drove out there. We spent the day on the beach and I took one last ride on the jet ski to end the season.
As was the routine, I walked up, got in our truck and headed to the boat slip while my wasband drove the jetski to meet me there. It was already an odd day and we had not spoken much but I no clue what was coming.
I pulled up and waited for him. When he arrived, I started to back the trailer up as I was instructed. I don’t know if y’all are aware of how difficult it is to back up a boat trailer while driving a full size suburban when you can not see said trailer. It was as if someone flipped a switch on the wasband. He started screaming, yelling, cussing and berating me. To be honest, this was not new but this was the first time in public. Other boaters and the harbor master just stood there. After a few minutes the harbor master walked over and calmly asked my wasband if he needed any help. He told him no and brushed him off. The HM then walked past the front of the truck, looked at me and mouthed,
“You ok?” I nodded. All the while, my son is laying on the floor of the back seat trying to hide.
Could the wasband jumped in the truck and backed it up himself? Yup…..but he didn’t.
Once the jet ski was out of the water, he complained that there was not a dry/unsandy towel for him to dry off…..
I suggested that we go eat something thinking he was hungry. We went to a local Brewery and when we were not allowed to sit at the bar because our son was with us? Well, the hostess was well aware of his displeasure. I took my son to the rest room and was again, asked by a stranger (the hostess) if I was ok. I said yes and made excuses.
We drove home in silence for over an hour until I apologized for suggesting the trip and not backing up correctly.
I knew something was wrong that day. I knew my marriage was in trouble. What I didn’t know was that it was not my fault. My wasband was already having an affair at that point. It would be a few months before I would have face that reality.
That was 7 years ago. The jet ski was parked in the garage that day and never used again. It was sold 5 years later after we were divorced. The battle and sale of the jet ski is another story for another day.
Back to my love/hate with Timehop. I was determined to create a new memory for today. So I took one long look at that old picture and it clicked. I needed to go to the water. I packed up my bike and headed to the lakefront. I rode for 20 miles along the Lakefront, taking in the beauty of the city and all the while releasing that woman that I was on that day(and other days like it). I repeated over and over, “You have come so far. There is peace in your solitude. There is happiness in your heart.”
I stopped on the ride back and looked out over the choppy lake water. I realized that I had weathered the storms that were meant to sink me. I had learned to keep my head above water, swim and eventually surf all the waves of emotion. I took a beep breath and forgave myself for that day. I made a promise to myself that I would never again lose my sense of direction again. I promised myself that I help other women like me find themselves again. I promised to love myself again.
Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace

Sparkle

When you least expect it, life surprises you!
I enjoy being creative and sharing that creativity with others.
I love teaching and coaching others.
So when an opportunity to combine so many of the things that fill me up,
I jumped right in …..
which lead to the creation of Sparkle Social Media!
Women ‘of a certain age’ run businesses that need to be relevant and present on social media. Younger social media managers often do not speak to the needs or wants of this group of women. Enter Sparkle Social Media!
Sparkle Social Media was created to offer coaching on optimizing social media profiles, systems to streamline content creation/posting, as well as full service social media management. 
I help business owners at all levels maximize engagement on various social media platforms.
Want more information on or services and plans?
Click the CONTACT tab at the top of the page and let’s connect!

LemonSpark

If you give this girl a Lemon….
She Is sure to make Lemonade!
And all sorts of other good things….like connections!
It was such an honor to be asked to share my story!
Thank you LemonSpark Stories for having me on the podcast!

You can listen to the whole episode here: https://bit.ly/lemonsparkpodcast

Peace
#tutulady
#forwardisapace