Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Run Swiftly Through the Low Points ~

We all mourn losses.  Give your life enough years, and you will mourn many too, if you haven't already.  I'm not very old by any means, but I feel that I've had more than my fair share of loss.  I try to tell myself that loss makes me stronger.  It makes me appreciate the good times even more.  It's good to feel low because it makes the highs feel even higher.

A couple of weeks ago was Mother's Day, and as I wrote before, I took it even harder this year than most years.  Not really sure why, as my life has been going really well lately.  Maybe that's the time when [God, the universe, etc.] decides to knock you down a notch.  That's what I feel like happened to me.  I found myself on the Wednesday after Mother's Day still crying about my mom.  Not sobbing uncontrollably, mind you.  Just getting a bit teary-eyed a couple of times a day, and missing her.  I started wondering what my problem was.  It's times like this that I turn to my friends for support.  I have some great friends.  My girlfriends are the best, and take me out running and to coffee, even when they have other plans for the day they seem to fit me in and take care of me.  This type of friendship is even more appreciated because I don't have a mom to turn to.

I also had just been on a great trip to California with my running partner of the last year.  We had an amazing long-weekend running the trails of Mill Valley and eating good food.  We attended a wedding reception in Napa.  It was a great weekend with lots and lots of miles.

After getting back from the California trip soon afterwards was Mother's Day, and soon after my running partner seemed to not really want to run with me anymore.  I invited him on a couple of runs and he said no (he said yes to one, but seemed out of sorts and not very interested to run with me).  He set up runs with other people and didn't invite me along.  I took it personally.  Despite being a physically strong person, I am emotionally pretty sensitive.  He was running with other people and I was running by myself, so I started running with other people too.  But I wanted to run with him.  I couldn't figure out what was going on.

I had a few 20-milers stacked up on my training plan, and I figured it would be easier to motivate and get through them if I had friends along.  I invited a handful of friends, my running partner of the last year being one of them.  A day later, I got a curt reply, something to the effect that he would be running similar mileage, but that I was too slow of a runner for him to go out with... huh?  I took offense.  I admit it.  I reacted defensively and emotionally.  How could I not?  I was missing my mom and I just wanted to go run with my friend.  Here he was being what I felt was insensitive and selfish.

Needless to say, the conversation turned brutal.  The more I reacted to his insensitivities, the more harsh he got.  I can only explain this as him trying to assert some "tough love", which I was not in any place to accept.  I was too hurt, and the more the conversation escalated, the more hurt I became.  He would "text bomb" me, saying that, "This is how it is.  No negotiations.  You are not allowed to comment, as I will not respond to your texts if you reply."  What?!?  I am still trying to understand this flip in his attitude.  A supportive friend and running partner over the last year has suddenly, inexplicable dumped me.  Some of the things he said to me were downright cruel and not worth repeating.

It hurts.  It's sad.  All I can say is, whatever he might be going through to display this type of behavior to a friend, I feel sorry for him.  It's unacceptable as far as I'm concerned.  You don't treat friends like that.  I asked for a little bit of support and explanation and I got, "I'm too busy for you and I'm not willing to listen to your sob story."  Wow.

I've received a lot of support through this from other friends which is very comforting.  It will take some time for this sting to stop burning.  I absolutely hate it when friendships fall apart.  I want to believe that there is a bigger reason for this.  I want to know if I could have done anything differently and supported him more, but I'm resigned to the fact that he is angry and I may never know.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Lonesome Heart ~ Mom's Week?

Doggie destruction ~
As I struggled with the bobbin on the sewing machine, I thought to myself, "Mom would know how to fix this!  Stupid sewing machine.  This is the most finicky sewing machine I've ever used!"  I struggled with it for 20 minutes, then finally got it to work.  I was attempting to sew up the holes that my dog had chewed in my backpack, the one I use everyday to go to and from work and carry my lunch.

My mom taught me how to sew.  We spent countless afternoons sewing in the "little room", a den in our Michigan farmhouse.  She also taught me to pack my lunch everyday.  It's rare to have a day that I don't bring my own lunch to work.

This Mother's Day hit me a little harder than most years.  I'm not really sure why.  I started out getting some old photo albums out so that I could scan and post some photos, and ended up crying, looking at how happy I was alongside my mom and the rest of my family.  I really miss being a kid growing up in the Midwest.  So much has changed.  Ahh, adulthood! It feels kind of surreal to think that we live this life trying to find a purpose in it.  Meeting new people and thinking of our future and our past.  I do like to think of how past and future collide in the present.
Patch job ~

Why was I sewing up my backpack at 9pm?  I had gone to an Honors for Nursing banquet (I was an invited guest, for my efforts as a preceptor for the University of Utah College of Nursing) and figured I would talk my friend Suzanne into going (she was also invited, but a little on the fence over whether she wanted to go or not).  Unfortunately, the dogs did not want me to go, and I had left my backpack by the front door on the floor with the remnants of my lunch in it.  The smell of traces of food on the Tupperware were too intoxicating for Franklin to ignore, and he took the pack out the dog door into the back yard and proceeded to dismantle...
Franklin wearing my name tag,
attempting to make me smile.

I was so frustrated to find what I did when I got home.  I'd just had a lovely (free) dinner with friends and gotten a free umbrella, too!  And I come home to 3 pounds of organic sweet potatoes gone, a Tupperware chewed up, and a favorite backpack with holes in it.  I threw the backpack in the trash, but then retrieved it and resolved to put my skills to work on it.  The whole time, as I struggled with the sewing machine, I thought, "Mom would be able to figure this out if she were here!"  And I scowled at the dog and told him how disappointed I was in him.  I took off my name tag from the dinner and stuck it on his head, so that I would laugh at him instead of continuing to be angry.

I got the backpack patched up (after a couple hours of work).  It actually was a good project and sharpened my sewing skills up again after not using them for a while.  I'm pleased with how things turned out:  the backpack, and my life.

Suzanne at the Nursing banquet,
showing off her new umbrella.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Run for Your Mother ~

(l to r) Judy, Mom, and me ~ look at how fast
we are going!  I'm carrying an umbrella
because it was pouring rain.  1979 Kalamazoo Klassic 10k
As many of you know, my mom is the one who got me to start running.  She and her friend Judy (our neighbor) were absolutely THE FIRST moms in our area to start running on a regular basis and take part in races.  My brother and I grew up in rural Michigan in the 1970s and 80s.  Moms were really moms back then and pretty much stayed home and took care of kids and cooked and cleaned from what I remember.  My mom ran probably about 20 miles per week, drove the school bus (it was a manual transmission diesel), AND did all those other "mom" things.  She was a pretty amazing lady.

Hey, I earned that orange slice!  Being an 8-yr-old
spectator is hard work.
And she didn't just run 5ks (I don't think they even existed back then, although there were kids' races called "Fun Runs" which were about 1 mile and not all that much fun, as I remember.  I got just as worked up back then before races as I do now.  I remember being super-stressed because I was afraid I wasn't going to get back fast enough to see my mom at the start line of her race.

ca. 1980 Borgess "Run for the Health of It" 10k
(Some random guy next to my mom.)  She's killin' it!
My mom and Judy read Jim Fixx's "The Complete Book of Running" which was the first book of its kind to outline the health benefits of daily running (or "jogging" as we liked to call it back then).  She even got Mr. Fixx to have his picture taken with us at the Borgess 10k one year (my brother and I pretty much had no clue who this guy was, but we stood diligently next to him and smiled for the camera).  This was after Mr. Fixx had lost like 200+ pounds through diet and exercise and before he died several years later of a massive heart attack.

But I digress.  This post is about my mom and how she instilled her love of running in me!  So to this day, I run, and I love it.  I often think of my mom and what a pioneer she was.  I think of her every time I run.  Today is Mother's Day, and I'm going to do something that we both love(d) best ~ run.

Happy Trails!

Stefan & me with Jim Fixx.  Our mom was
all starry-eyed.  "There he is!  Let's go get your picture
with him!"  She didn't get her picture taken with him...  we
were like, "What?"  OK, Mom!" (eye-roll).  Makes me laugh
thinking back on it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A post about work that I'll try to turn into one about running ~

Honestly, I've really been debating whether or not I should write this post.  Because it's more about work than it is about running.  But maybe I could find some way to make it about running, too... so I'll try.

I've been at my current job for about 5 years.  At the onset, I only worked a day or two a week, pretty sporadically, and didn't expect any benefits.  I was kind of going through a mid-life crisis where I had quit a 7-days on, 7-days off nurse practitioner job managing inpatients at a hospital (which was my first job after getting licensed) which was an absolutely awful job.  I was happy to have a lot of free time where I could just run lots of miles, work once in a while, and build up my credit card debt.

Over the past 5 years, I've worked more and more at my current job, typically averaging somewhere between 20 and 30 hours a week, which I think is plenty of work if you have the part-time (unpaid) job of running around in the mountains 10-20 hours per week.  Some might say that I should work more, but after watching my parents work so hard for so many years then only to have major illness affect them from enjoying the things they wanted to do (but never got to do) in their retirement, I've decided to live my life a little differently.  I get the bills paid, anyway.  I have a couple of part-time jobs to fill in some of the financial gaps, too (also un-benefitted).

So imagine my frustration when every Summer Semester (because my job is dependent upon the college population) my hours get cut back to once a week for various reasons, but then whenever someone goes on vacation they want me to cover their hours.  I end up working the hours.  I end up covering people and feeling a little bit used.

The thing that really hits me in the gut is the amount of benefits that I'm missing out on.  I'm actually really OK with paying for my own health insurance out of pocket (because it's high-deductible and probably works out to be cheaper per month).  But my colleagues get to enjoy:  health insurance, paid education hours (many of which are required to retain a license.  Providers typically turn this into a vacation and go to places like Hawaii for a medical conference), half-price classes at the University (to further their education, or just to learn something new), paid vacation hours, paid sick time.  It starts to really add up.  I figure I am missing out on at least $8,000 per year in benefits.  There are a lot of people in the same boat as me.

Why doesn't this change?  Because organizations who are "required" to pay benefits to employees after a certain amount of hours per week (20+, in this case), hold employees below that limit.  When my medical director went to the administrator to ask on my behalf if anything could be changed to offer me benefits, the administrator replied that he should cut my hours to below 18 per week.  Nice, huh?  This from an administrator who earns upwards of $300k per year (I looked it up).

I don't really need more money.  My life is good the way it is.  But I can't help but feel a little bit under-appreciated.  I'm happy to have the free time to go and run when I want (see?  I was able to bring this post back to running after all) but to do a really good great job and have patients appreciate you and know that their good outcomes are in part because of something you did or said to them and to get repaid with lack of benefits and a lower-than-average wage for your job type (I forgot to mention that, too) just hits me really hard.  I start to think that maybe I really am not worth more.  Maybe I made a mistake choosing the job path that I did.  Maybe I should have done something else with my life (Mid-life crisis, anyone?  Nah, I already went through that.  I'm really ok with the majority of my choices.  I have a pretty darn good life).

Maybe I'll go for a run to make myself feel better...  that typically seems to work.  Can't hurt, right?

I've also got a new job prospect lining up that will hopefully work itself out here in the next couple of months...  I'll keep you updated.