Music Moves Me

I love music. I especially love live music. Music takes me places that I have not yet experienced. It takes me back to places that I have been. Memories and emotions that hold a special place in my heart come flooding back and I relive those special times through the song. Eric Church says it well in “Springsteen” with “funny how a melody sounds like a memory.”  Most of those memories are good, although there are always a few that you want to forget.

I have had the pleasure of experiencing a variety of live performances in my life; most recently, the Zac Brown Band at the Target Center. In all performances the one thing that has become very evident to me whether it was during one of my daughter’s 10 years of piano recitals at the local music center or the stadiums filled with 20,000 people (and everything in between) the common denominator is that they all have passion.

Live performances allow you to feel the joy that the performer is feeling. They are sharing their passion with you. You can feel it in your chest (okay, that might be the massive amps); an energy that wells up deep inside, pushing its way up until you can’t help but sing along or dance right where you are without a care of anyone seeing you. I’ve even noticed that once you let yourself live in the moment, taking in fully the energy by singing and dancing, it allows the person next to you to do the same.

Music energizes me. Makes me happy, smile and laugh. It has made me sad, cry and has given me strength to push through tough times-both physically (those long 16-22 mile training runs come to mind) and emotionally.

There is always a song to describe exactly what you’re going through; breakups, new relationships, comfort and stability from long lasting relationships and friendships, fun experiences or just being grateful for the life you’ve been given.

The great thing about music is that it’s an art. Every artist’s viewpoint, perspective and goals are personal and different but the really neat thing is that each and every artist is human and as humans we share in similar experiences that allow us to connect and comfort each other.

Birthdays….a good thing

I often wonder why so many people get bent out of shape about their birthday. They don’t want to acknowledge it and often deny it. They skirt around their age. Why do so many people think birthdays a bad thing?

I love celebrating my birthday. It means I’ve lived another year. I’m very happy about that.

Perhaps it goes back to growing up as a kid. We always celebrated birthdays. My mom would order a big German chocolate cake that was covered with sticky coconut caramel pecan frosting from a lady in town who was known for her cakes. Not only was the cake delicious and covered with gobs of frosting, it also meant that you got to go into Little Falls, which was a big deal forty plus years ago.

I really started celebrating the year I turned 40. I managed to have fun the entire week that year. I started on Monday with three of my girlfriends (one convinced her husband to be our sober cab) taking me to Ivan’s on the Bay for martinis and dinner. Yes, it goes without saying, we had a blast! That year I went out with different friends or family every night. Co-workers decorated my desk and filled my desk with black balloons.

40th birthday desk decorations

They brought in a cake and called everyone in the office into the conference room and proceeded to sing happy birthday to me. The week ended with a fun birthday party surrounded by family, friends and neighbors put on by my husband. To this day I am still impressed with that. He executed the whole ordeal. Not usually his thing and a huge feat for a man whose usual contribution to our social life is: “Tell me where I need to be when. Who are we going with again?”

Again this year I celebrated the whole week. I didn’t set out to plan it that way; it just happened. Lunches with friends and co-workers. I enjoyed an afternoon being pampered with a manicure and pedicure. I also love volunteering and it just so happened that the Monster Dash (a Team Ortho race in the Twin Cities) had their packet pick-up the Friday after my birthday. I was able to take some vacation time and give to other runners as well as to a great organization.

I completed the week by celebrating with my husband, kids and their significant others with a fun dinner followed by a great show put on by an a capella band, Six Appeal at Pioneer Place in St. Cloud. It was the perfect ending to what turned out to be a birthday celebration week.

Over the past 45 years I’ve learned it’s really not about it being your birthday, it’s about choosing to be alive. Birthdays are just a good excuse to step it up a notch and feel extra vivacity for a few days.

26.2

26.2. A few years ago this was just a random number to me. Today it represents a major life experience.  I can feel the confidence, joy, laughter, friendship, tears, pain and sense of determination that I lived during training. The meaning of this number peaked Sunday, October 7,2012 in Chicago with one adrenaline-charged feeling of achievement when I crossed the finish line at one of the world’s top five marathons.

It was the finale of months of training and preparation. Miles and miles of training runs; 579 miles to be exact.  For the first time since I have started running, I logged every single training run. If I went for a run, I wrote in down. In hindsight, I am very glad I did. It now represents a tangible number that is attached to a lofty goal. It helped give the training perspective for me. I Google mapped Little Falls to Chicago. It comes up 505 miles. So I literally ran to Chicago over the course of my training. When you do it a little at a time, the numbers have a way of sneaking up on you and amounting a lot more than you expect.

Adding up those miles confirmed for me I was physically prepared. I had two; twenty mile training runs in, so I knew it was physically possible. In my mind, once I hit 20, I just knew that I could do another 6.  Even though I had heard from several experienced marathon runners about the proverbial “wall”, I was ready. There is always the chance you can have an off day, you just never know what you will feel like, but you can’t let that stop you. I was not going to let the wall hinder my first marathon finish. There are times willpower comes in handy and this was one of them. How well I would feel or how fast it would happen was yet to be determined.

That left the mental wall.  My previous running experiences told me that while some races are easier than others, I needed to be prepared to push through. One thing I knew I had in my corner is my black belt experience.  I learned the day that I broke a brick with my hand that anything is possible. I learned that if I want something, if I can visualize it, and truly believe it can be done, it can be done. There is not room for doubt. I had spent months visualizing the finish line, that one last long, strong stride as my body crossed over that piece of finish line rubber. I never once doubted my finish.

The finish line became reality at mile 20. From that point on, it was a race for me. 6.2 miles to the grand finale.  Approximately one more hour left of this experience. Me against my body. I knew it was do-able. The last bit of adrenaline kicked in and my steps became lighter and my stride stronger. The finish was going to happen and soon. I ran those last 6.2 miles with strength and determination.  I felt energy from the thousands of people cheering us on. This was a special energy that lifted and carried you and made your feet lighter. I could also feel the support from friends and family who were back in Minnesota cheering for me. Many times I had heard the last part of the race is the most difficult. For me, it was by far, the easiest and my favorite part.

I crossed the finish line with a feeling of success and relief. Realizing once again that life is an amazing journey that is meant to be lived, to make us feel alive inside.

A few years earlier, running a marathon wasn’t even on my radar. At the time, it didn’t even seem physically possible to me (OK, even a little crazy), yet here I stood at the finish line, feeling more alive than I have most of my life.  If someone would have told me 2 years ago that I would successfully run the Chicago Marathon, I wouldn’t have believed them, yet here I stood at the finish line. Life has presented me a lot of opportunities. I’ve learned I can embrace them or ignore them. I’ve learned it sure is a lot more exhilarating to embrace them!

Amazing

People amaze me…in a good way. This has become even more evident in the last couple of days as I prepare to leave for my first marathon in Chicago. The words of encouragement throughout training have been much needed and I am so grateful for them. I can’t even begin to express the gratitude I have for the overwhelming support that I have felt over the past couple of days. It has brought happy tears to my eyes on several occasions.

I  cannot even begin to name or thank everyone individually that has supported and encouraged me along this journey. However, I do have to give a special thank you to my husband, Todd. He has been my biggest fan. Never once complaining about the long runs that left me too tired to function for the rest of the day or the countless times that the whole weekend had to be adjusted to fit in a training run.

A huge thank you to the friends and family  that have sent e-mails, Facebook messages or notes. You are too numerous to name. The phone calls, hugs, smiles and laughter as well as the tears that have been shared have all played their part in this amazing journey. People amaze me.

As I was getting ready for work earlier this week, these words came to me.

“You don’t have to do it by yourself, but you do have to do it for yourself.”

I wasn’t sure at the time what they meant. Today their meaning is much clearer. I am running 26.2 miles on Sunday. While I will be doing it for myself, I know I know I won’t be alone.

Anticipation

Anticipation. Remember Christmas as a kid? When the magic of Santa still lived and the anticipation of what was going to be under the tree when you woke kept you up that night?

I have been anticipating getting this blog up for a few months now and while it’s not quite the same feeling as Christmas morning, there have been many moments over the past few months when those same feelings of excitement and anticipation were felt deep within. First there were months of telling myself I should do it. Finally getting the nerve to say it out loud to myself and then actually saying it out loud to friends. Friends that were willing to  help me design it and get it up and functional. I was scared, nervous, anxious and every other emotion that comes with starting something new. There were moments that I questioned myself– should I do this? Moments of I need to do this and moments of everything in between. Yet, the anticipation of doing it always lingered in my mind and it became more of a matter of when would I do it versus will I do it.

This blog is part of the next phase in my life. It is helping me to learn and grow—in many ways that I didn’t even know existed on the technical side anyway. I am fortunate to have many great people who are willing to help me and it is an exciting process that is leading me toward new goals. Goals I have been working toward for years and months. I transferred to Augsburg College in Minneapolis earlier this month. I am running the Chicago Marathon in ten days. Events that that I’ve been anticipating with that same kid at Christmas feeling that will change me and the course of my life forever.

I have thoughts, visions and dreams about where my life is going. I love the feeling of anticipation as life changes. There are always new goals to set and events to anticipate. It’s what makes life interesting, challenging, and joyful all at the same time. As I launch this today, I can’t help but wonder where will it lead and what can I look forward to anticipating next.