The truth is, I don’t feel like most of the time I have a busy life.  (The roar of laughter you hear is my husband)

I work, I work out, and I do my parts of keeping the house moving forward.  I have one TV show I follow, and I’m currently 4 weeks behind.  I don’t read recreationally, or knit, and for the last few months I struggle to even care about cooking.

My son goes to bed about two hours after we all get home, and those hours feel short.  I go to bed a couple of hours after that and the best I can describe what I do in that time is “putter”.  It feels like adult life.

When the holidays come around, and for arguments sake we’ll go ahead and start at about Oct 20th here and move through the middle of January, my expectations of my life and what things *feeeEEEeeel* like comes completely unmoored.  And here we are in mid-November and I’ve hit the thick of it.  It is easy to approach the idea of what the end of the year can be and about how I want my son to feeeEEEeeel, the memories I want him to have – but I’m not doing that.

How I want to feeeEEEeeel – my Christmas list.

  1.  I want to feeEEEeeel connected to my family by sharing time together.  I want to feeeEEEeeel like I know them well enough to get a delightful gift for them instead of something that costs $25 at Target.
  2. I want to feeeEEEeeel connected to my family by sharing time together.  I want quiet conversation about how we can take over the world, or make it through the next days, and about the shining and amazing parts of them that I see and I adore.  Also, totally delightful gifts for them – not clutter and burden but useful and easy and uniquely them.
  3. I want to feeeEEEeeel like the people in my home can relax someplace just a little more lovely, through both decoration and general vibe.  That there is hurry surrounding us outside but that this space is a haven made lovely by intention.
  4. I want to feeeEEEeeel like the dogs will chill out, or not eat the tree, or stop waking me up at 4:45 by putting a delicate paw on my ass.
  5. I want to feeeEEEeeel seen.  That I have shared enough of my heart with the people around me that when they see something that would delight me they feel ok about it.  Even if their wallet says “take a picture and send a note like she does”.
  6. I want to see beautiful decorations with a calm enough heart that I can just sigh and enjoy them.
  7. I want to hear music that compels me to sing.
  8. I want to bake and cook even when the only reason to do it is to give it away (because I don’t really want to eat the cookies, or the soups, I just want the house to be warm and smell good).

I don’t need Santa’s reindeer shitting glitter while James Earl Jones reads The Night Before Christmas to 100 orphans that I have brought together.  I just want to be intentional and calm this year (while not defining calm as not-taking-action).

The Christmas I was seven I got a bracelet, I think it had a dancer charm on it to start with.  For the next 20 years or so dad gave me a new charm every Christmas – it had something to do with my year.  Drama masks.  Softball.  Track.  French Horn.  For a long time it was the only thing I got that was just from him.  For years I didn’t wear the bracelet because it was woman sized and I was varying degrees of girl sized.

Then I didn’t wear the bracelet because it was the most precious thing I ever owned.

The year I was 23 I got a charm that had two interlocking hearts (one rose gold, one yellow gold).  I opened a box from my fiancé and there was a bracelet with the same charm on it from him.  I cried for hours.  For a few years after that I got a charm for something related to my year.  A house.  Palm trees for Barbados.  A medical snake for my job at FU.

I didn’t wear that one often.  I don’t even know why.

I’ve collected 4 Pandora-style beads since August, three of them for my 50-mile months, and a 13.1 mile bead for my first half marathon (the first of The Dad Series Runs).  I had been wearing them on a necklace but about a week ago I looked for bracelets that would hold them.  I impulse bought one.

About a day later I thought – well of course it is supposed to be a bracelet.  A bracelet to hold my running charms related to The Dad Series (Chattanooga, Cincinnati, MCM and maybe a race in Coronado at this point).

This week I will sing a dedication at the Athens Symphony to remember the creator / long-time director of the Symphony.  The dress rehearsal and performance will sandwich the Free to Breathe 5k to raise money for lung cancer research.  I am bringing donuts / snacks to the departments of the women I was meeting with on 11/11 last year – the women who were near me when mom called to tell me dad had died.  I am hosting a caregiver support group.

Mainly, I am feeling the way through a new thing.  Wednesday is one year since dad died.  I’m sad and fragile.  I’d buy anything you wanted to sell me.  I’m slightly irritated that you aren’t magical and excellent with ESP.

It is ok.  It is awful.  It is just a day.  The world stops for no loss because it would have to stop for each of them.

He was loved.  As am I.  As are you.


It has been dreary here for weeks, raining most of the time and humid the rest.  It has been claustrophobic.  The time change added insult to soggy injury and this morning instead of getting up and running in the pouring rain … again … I recognized that this was the last weekend between now and 2016 that I didn’t have a major plan.

Time to move furniture.

The bedroom revision has been rolling around in my mind for years.  About six months ago I realized that the “Get This Shit Done” fairy was actually me and Dave.  I’ve picked stuff out and moved it around and he has been dutifully lifting whatever random thing I needed him to.

One of the things that had become (sort of) invisible to me was the large flat cardboard moving box we brought back from LLV 2.5 years ago.  I popped it open this morning and the memories of the 26 year old I actually was smiled back at me.

While I was not dancing until dawn at 26 I was gleefully buying 16×24 picture frames with collage mats in them.  I remember being that woman and knowing that even as things changed the days and memories I was capturing deserved special treatment.  The collages (two) of the first 5 or so years with John, including a copy of the wedding invitation.  That includes one of the 5 best pictures ever taken of me.  The stacked photos of the manic joy of being alive while filled with grief and laughing big and wild with the Friday Friends that I don’t know anymore.

Twenty six year old me was right, and she did a great job with the pictures.  They tell stories that I don’t remember all the time and we were all so beautiful and willing.  Still, I don’t have infinite wall space, that was 15 years ago, and I don’t know most of those people anymore.  So I smiled and lingered but the work of the day calls and I smiled some more while I pushed them (lovingly) under the bed.

They are who I was, what made me who I am, and I need the wall space for where I am going – even when I don’t know where that is.

The year I was … let’s say 26-ish … was a really good year.

I was doing work I liked in a place where I was being taught how to Adult At Work better and I was working with my best friend (BONUS!).

My husband was making the kind of money that makes you giggle when you think of it because you’re just so damn surprised that somebody would pay you THAT.

Our Friday nights had a plan that involved people we really enjoyed, getting smarter about beer, heavily geek conversations, and the occasional bon fire or other extension of the evening.

All the parents were around and in good order.  Life was super good.  I don’t want to distract from my ACTUAL LIFE at all.

But in having that life there was another one that I didn’t have.

There are people who have memories of being in their late 20s, going out to the bars with their friends, staying up super late and putting attractive young men further into credit card debt while they flirted.  There was dancing while holding glass glasses and wearing cute shoes.  In theory – these same women are able to sleep off unbelievable hangovers all day on Sunday.  Or threw on a Bears jersey, sweats, and a pony tail to go shout at a football game.

I didn’t live that life (and the Brandy / Goo Goo Dolls / Smash Mouth music of the year might have made the dancing tough) but sometimes while I listen to the radio and the amazing conglomeration of danceable pop songs out right now I kind of wish I could stay up past 9:30, drink more than two, tolerate hella loud noises, dress to be flirted with, and see drinks paid for with cash.

There are some things that will always be true about me.  I will always be a person with a masters degree.  I will always be a person with two marriages.  I will always be a person who likes sleep.  Some things will never be true.  I will never stay up all night dancing when I’m 26.  I will never be in the military.  I am highly unlikely to actually study theatre at this point (although community theatre is still on the table). It is ok – but something about being 42 points out the Still Possible from the Not Anymore.

I have the odd truth of having November 2 be a super meaningful day for me.

In 1996 I was married on November 2.  It was fun, in part, because it was my great-grandmother’s birthday and she was able to attend that day.  John and I got married in the morning and had a lunch reception.  We ordered Italian delivery for dinner while we tore open envelopes.

In 2014 I saw my dad alive for the last time on November 2.  I watched him shine and talk with my son from his hospice bed in a beautiful home in a residential neighborhood.  Most of the rest is a blur.  He had 9 days left, which I’m grateful also included time with my brother.

This November 2 I’m spending with my son (who has the day off of school).  He wants to make a schedule and put it in his computer so he knows how the day will go.

I wish I knew too.  I have been fragile recently, prone to tears, ready to spend money, unwilling to sit and I don’t know quite how long it will last.  I miss dad.  I miss John.  I miss my great grandma.  Part of being in your 40s is an elongating list of people you don’t see anymore – just the truth of things.  This weekend, it is a bit heavy.

“Why do you run?”  He turned and asked me as “our shuttle” pulled away full but someone was definitely going to swing back around and pick up 30 more of us.  Really soon.

It took a long time to sort through the options and finally I replied, “because my dad is dead.”  He nodded and muttered something about heart disease.  I laid the truth at the feet of 83 years old and lung cancer, mentioned that I missed my dad and politely asked the 70 year old man in front me his question in return.

I had walked downstairs at 5:40 in the morning to follow the herd to the shuttle.  Men and women who were running between 3.1 mils and 26.2 during the day.  Dressed in clothing I would have to save up for and that they would ditch along the roadside when they got warmed up.  High pony tails and calves that could cut glass.  Drinking coffee like intestinal disaster didn’t even cross their mind.

I was wearing yesterday’s socks because I forgot my regular socks.  I was begging the DayQuill to kick in because my whole face tasted like sinus infection and I felt dumb.  Prepared, but dumb.  I often think about making sure my clothing matches the situation because I feel more comfortable that way – I want to stand out because of who I am or what I’m doing not because I’m wearing boot socks and tennis shoes.

The second school bus came and picked us up.  People chatted and I cried a little bit, I hadn’t found my “Atta Girl” yet and there was a long time between when we had to get off the heated bus and I could get started.

It was 42 degrees while I waited in the dark for 90 minutes to start my race.  I didn’t feel any less dumb.  Numb did start to happen though.  Lining up for the 7:30 start I noticed the sun started to rise.  i thought of Tracy and that she would have the advantage of a 9:00 start for her first half today.  I was happy we were doing this together separately.  I figured out my pacer was a woman who was actual personal friends with someone I admire online.  That was a bonus.

We started.  My guys were awesome, well prepared and cheering me at 5 different times (pro-tip as created by my husband – white board for signs!).  The weather got nice.  I could keep going.  It was as silent  for me as I wanted it to be although I heard others chatting around me and felt that I could have joined if I wanted to.  I stayed in front of my pacer.  I saw the guys at the finish line, I crossed the line and got my medal, my towel, and a bottle of water that might have only been for the full marathon folks (I’m not sure).  Then I burst into tears.

I had long since quit feeling dumb.

Somewhere along the road I realized the real answer to why I am running these days.  My dad is dead, and the least interesting part of his life was his career.  It was the things around the edges of his work life that made him the man I miss.  The adventures, and the doing, and the building and the LIFE that wasn’t his second shift job he despised but paid well.  I want to lean back in a chair and reminisce about a LIFE when I am in my 80s.

I got the email that said “Congratulations.”

I started to run, I was rusty (at best) and delusional (daily) and I laid down miles.

Between my highest ever non-pregnant weight (May) (which was only 15 lbs away from my highest pregnant weight) and a few days ago there is a difference of nearly 20 lbs.

I get up between 5a and 5:15 four days a week to run in the dark.  In the rain.  In the (f*cking) fog. I finally understand why so many people hate treadmills.  When I noticed how much I slouched when I got tired I added Tania’s Shred class on Tuesdays so my arms weren’t exclusively decorative.

Everything below my ribs hurts most of the time, but not in an injury sort of way.  My left foot worries me.  My right foot is the bane of my existence and my trusted companion.

I have come to terms with not being a beautiful runner and that has made me love the beautiful ones even more.  There are people in town who recognize me solely because Saturday mornings I lay miles down.  In the heat.  In the sun.  On game days.

Somewhere around 300 rehearsal miles.  I’ve tagged my 50 miles months (there are two now) and will tag my first half marathon and my third 50 mile month on Sunday.

My husband has the support plan for this weekend laid out around him.  On paper the things so similar to what I did for his first half, his second, his first full.  What our family looks like when we run.  I put miles down, we all celebrate what we can do together.  The next weekend will be his – but simpler in many ways.

My plan is a race series of two halves and a full over 53 weeks.  I have the chance to add some fun runs in that support the cause.  When the email said, “Congratulations.” I panicked but in the end this journey has been just what I needed.

I doubt I’ll miss a Tuesday with Tania.  I don’t like taper and expect that recovery will be even less fun.  I’m afraid.  I’m excited.  I don’t want to stop.  I want to run.  Runners run.

I’m trapped in the lure of false symbolism. I like the sound of “the last three miles” and I think it should *stand* for something. It doesn’t. Those miles aren’t the first or the last. They are just miles. 

I want to be wrapped in the hero’s musical crescendo, when the minor chords of the crisis-of-morals moment have smoothed into the inevitable assent into greatness that we all attain in moments. I’m just singing in the car, in the key of Heather which remains largely undefined. 

I want to look you in the eyes and say,”I see you.” When the very best I can hope for is “I see what you are willing to show me through my own filters.”  

Apparently, I am also trapped in the ennui of a 22 year old closet poet (20 years too late). 

Suffice it to say. Today is one day, tomorrow is another, and from there on out we can make it up as we go along. 

For years I have talked to my mom on the way to work.

Last year, around this time, I was taking a new route and in the morning there was this moment where I drove past a cattle ranch.  It was in a basin, often with a mist of fog filling the bowl, and this time of year it was moments after the most lovely parts of pretty sunrises.

I would interupt whatever we were talking about to say, “good morning, cows”

We talked about my new job.

We talked about her workouts.

We talked about my dad, who was dying.


My dad died, and a few months later my route to work changed.  I didn’t see the cows in their fog bowl anymore.  Time passed and things happened.  In July my work route returned and I now drive past the cows again.  The light is changing and it is starting to feel more and more like the days last fall.  The cows are there, the basin filled with fog, conversations with my mom.

Different topics now.


I keep thinking of reasons to go to Illinois.  I really want to see the pumpkin festival this year.  I miss my first in-laws because I didn’t get much of a visit this summer.  It is a pretty time of year up there.  Last year I was there a lot.  Some trips were planned, others were drop-everything, others were for memorials and hugs.  September lacks travel for me – but October is filled up, there isn’t a right time to go up there.  Not this fall.


I’ve been trying to wrap my head around beginning my fundraising for Free to Breathe.  This lung cancer conference was amazing last year, their devotion to young researchers and bringing deep opportunities for involvement for laypeople, caregivers, and survivors is wonderful.  It is an organization pitched perfectly to the way I think about disease and healthcare and what we can be when we work together.


I was sitting outside at the Free to Breathe conference eating a breakfast sandwich, looking at a fountain, and talking to mom on the phone when my heart really understood how close my dad was to dying.


What I can do this year is fundraise and volunteer.  I might ask you to volunteer too, or donate, or hug me when you see me.

There isn’t enough research.

There isn’t enough understanding.

Not everyone “earns” their lung cancer.

I like Dragon*Con, I even like That Guy.

Every year he brings his zealot enthusiasm with him.  He doesn’t care if Han shot first.  He’s not going to cut a b!tch over Marvel vs DC.  If he said Jean Luc Picard was the best starship captain ever nobody would argue, but he’d never say it out loud.

He is as much a pillar at the parade as the water bottle guy.  He has a great spot and he gets there early every year – he isn’t about to miss out on the spectacle.

He is just so damn worried about us.


There are 7,000 PARTICIPANTS in the parade.  The route is 9/10ths of a mile long and is often that deep with people.  Men and women march in body paint and just enough material to not get arrested (everyone has dimpled flesh.  everyone).  The storm troopers of the 501st often wear armor that doesn’t clearly differentiate gender so he can’t even target his megaphone / microphone enhanced shouting.

I will never know if he sees thousands of people routing for the good guy.  Imagining a day when we can be peaceful with each other and with aliens.  I don’t know if he understands the millions of words that were read and watched about justice and kindness and moral correctness.  The monologues about rising up to be a better person.  I doubt it.  That isn’t all we read either, to be sure, but still.

He is so worried about a group of people watching a parade on a beautiful Saturday morning that he never misses it.

I wish he knew we’d be happy to share our joy if he’d just put his sign down and be there with us.


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