A Memorable Year

January 1, 2019. I had signed up to run a local 50K, remembering how depressed I was the previous New Years Day, the first since Ray’s passing. Ray’s parents spent the day with us but I was miserable nonetheless. Not wanting a repeat of that, I decided to do something different. Why not tackle a 50K? It was a fatass-style race, which meant no entry fee or bling, and you bring food and water to share. It was three ten(ish)-mile loops on the trails in Prince William Forest Park, and looking at the results from the previous year, about a third finished one loop, a third finished two loops, and a third finished all three. I figured there was no pressure to complete the whole thing. After each loop I could assess how I felt and decide whether to do another one. No pressure. I convinced a coworker to do it with me and we were both excited.

Unfortunately they cancelled the race. I think it was because there had been so much rain during the fall that it would be too muddy. I can’t remember exactly why. Rather than moping about it, my friend and I decided to spend the day running as many miles as we felt like. I ran 21 miles that day, and she ran 26. I must admit that it was a pretty cool way to start the year.

(My friend Patricia joined Maureen and me for part of our New Year’s Day run.)

For the first half of 2019, I was pretty consistent with my blogging, and I told you about some of the things that were going on in my life, like Chris’ joining the Air Force and how we got to see him graduate from basic training and then hang out with him for a few days in San Antonio. Matt’s graduating with a bachelor’s from Virginia Tech. Nick’s propensity to steal the show in every drama performance he’s been in, like as Black Stache in his high school’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher, or as Orsino in a local production of Twelfth Night. His graduation from high school. The awesomeness of running the Blue Ridge Marathon and meeting Jeff Galloway and his wife Barbara. Going skiing with my boys on Groundhog Day. Getting re-acquainted with an old friend from high school, a friendship which I hope will continue into 2020 and beyond.

Going plant-based and discovering the endless benefits of eliminating meat, fish, dairy and eggs and eating an abundance of plants. OH, and in March I got to meet the great Michael Wardian, Ultrarunner Extraordinaire. (I did not include this in any of my previous posts. So now you know.)

July 1 was my last blog post before last week. I’ll start there. In chronological order, I present my most precious memories from the last 6 months of 2019 (drumroll….)

July

A week at Ocean Isle Beach with everyone from both Ray’s and my side of the family (except Chris, who was in Biloxi for tech school).

Shaun Cassidy.

August

Having Chris home for ten days after tech school, before he had to report for duty in South Dakota. I made sure he got to see both sets of grandparents.

My dad’s brother, Uncle Don passed away. A great human being who is sorely missed.

September

Running the Hokie Half.

October

Celebrating Nick’s birthday in Blacksburg, which is his second home nowadays. It’s nice having both of them at Tech.

November

Running the Savannah Rock and Roll Marathon. I did it in honor of Ray and to raise a little money for Colorectal Cancer Alliance. I managed to snag a PR!

Spending Thanksgiving in Rapid City, SD with Chris, getting stranded for an extra day because of weather, and driving 6 hours on snowy roads to Denver to catch a flight home. We saw both a coyote AND a roadrunner on that road trip. (Not at the same time, but wouldn’t that have been funny?)

On that visit I ran a local Turkey Trot and found a few geocaches too.

December

The Tacky Light Run. Boy was that fun!

Then I had surgery and Chris came home for a week and we had a quiet Christmas. Now he’s back in South Dakota and I don’t know when we’ll see him again. I’m feeling a bit mope-y today if you want to know the truth.

I did a bit of geocaching in 2019 too. I found 205 caches, the most I’ve found in a year. If I attend the upcoming New Year’s Eve event my total will be 206. I found my 800th and my 900th geocache in 2019, and it looks like I’m going to hit 1000 sometime in January. I’ve been trying to attend more geocaching events and have met some really nice people to hopefully go caching with in the near future.

I ran a total of thirteen races in 2019, and finished twelve. (Yes, you read that right; I took a wrong turn during a trail half marathon and ended up with my very first DNF.) I finished three half marathons, two full marathons, three 5Ks, two 10Ks, a 5-miler, and a 4-miler. (Technically the Turkey Trot in Rapid City and the Tacky Light Run in Richmond weren’t “races” because they weren’t timed. I’m counting them anyway.)

Beginning tomorrow I have to start thinking about work again, and immerse myself in lesson plans and report cards. I don’t know when I’ll run again. (I hope I won’t go bat sh*t crazy for lack of exercise, and I hope January 1 won’t suck like it did two years ago. Spending the day running is off the table.) I’m working on some fun adventures to look forward to in 2020, so stay tuned. (Right. As if I’ll have time for any blogging. Just watch my Instagram, that’s pretty reliable.)

Thanks for reading, and here’s to making 2020 the year to make our dreams come true.

Convalescing (TMI alert)

For the last few days this has been my view.

That’s my dad, reading on his Braille Note, basically a Kindle for blind readers. (Currently he’s reading Cokie Roberts’ book Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. Sounds like something that would be right up my alley. I dig stories about badass women.)

My parents have been here since Monday. On Tuesday I had bladder prolapse surgery and a hysterectomy. My hope is to be well enough to return to work at the end of Christmas break.

I’ve got quite a bit of school work to do between now and then, including report cards. (Not today. Maybe tomorrow.)

(I’ll spare you a photo of my catheter bag I ended up bringing home because I couldn’t get my plumbing working well enough in time to be discharged. I’m stuck with it until Monday. I’ll be so happy not to be tied to that thing anymore.)

Today I stepped outside the house for the first time since coming home from the hospital on Wednesday. I stood outside on my back deck in my bathrobe (holding that infernal bag that my mother jokingly calls my “purse”.) Physically I feel pretty good, all things considered. Mentally I’m restless and down in the dumps. Just breathing the fresh air for a couple of minutes lifted my spirits just a little bit. It’s a gray day, but not bone-chillingly cold and the clouds are thin enough to see a little sunshine peeking through. It will be some time before I’ll be able to do a whole lot in the outdoors besides taking slow and easy walks. I’ve been able to move around the house fairly well for the last couple of days, although just the simple act of getting up to refill my water glass is pretty tiring, never mind walking up and down the stairs. I’ve yet to find a good balance between moving around enough to gain my strength back, and resting enough for optimum healing.

Matt and Nick came home on Wednesday. On Thursday they went out and got a little artificial tree. Mom has been busy making plant-based meals for me. Last night Matt’s girlfriend Andrea came over and the three of them worked together to make ratatouille. Christmas is going to be very low key. I’m hoping to be well enough by then to cook something (I’ve got my eye on a portobello pot roast; or maybe jackfruit BBQ) and/or go to the movies. The boys already saw The Rise of Skywalker. Maybe we’ll go see that (they won’t mind seeing it again) or perhaps the Mister Rogers movie or maybe Knives Out.

HOLD EVERYTHING! WE HAVE A PLOT TWIST!

So I’m on the couch, writing this post, my parents reading in the chairs by the window. I’ve been texting Matt who is stopping by the grocery store on his way home from his shift at Home Depot. Suddenly I see a car through the window, the same color as his, and I wonder out loud why he’s coming here first, and good grief, has he been texting and driving?? We hear voices. Mom looks through the window and says, “Go stand at the door.” It’s Chris, and his two friends who brought him from the airport. Of course I start to cry, and feel slightly horrified that I’m wearing my comfy bathrobe and I’m lugging around a bag of pee.

He’s here until the 29th. It’s going to be a wonderful Christmas!

Lists and Living

Hopefully this won’t be a boring post.

Before I was working full time I had a pretty good system for getting things done: in the evenings I would make a to-do list for the next day, and make sure I put no more than eight items on the list. I would also prioritize those tasks according to what needed to be done immediately and/or which ones were more important. I tried to include things that were good for my physical and mental health, as well as mundane everyday things that needed to be done. Then Ray got sick and all that went out the window. After he died I pretty much quit making to-do lists. Just getting up in the morning and going through the motions of living was an accomplishment. Starting a full-time teaching job kept me focused, even though I was pretty much in a fog for the first half of the year and relied heavily on my co-workers to help me get through.

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I’m slow as a turtle when it comes to getting things done, just like my running. I have accepted this fact.

We have a short summer this year. I have five weeks until I have to be back to work. For the last two weeks, I’ve sat down at the beginning of the week and made a list of 25-35 things I hope to accomplish in the next 7 days. Some are specific, like “Go To This Appointment at 9:00 on Tuesday”; others are more general like “Find At Least 7 Geocaches.” Five things to check off every day, at the most. So far it’s proved very doable, and I feel like I can have some down time every day without feeling guilty. And the things that don’t get done this summer will still be here next year.

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At the beginning of 2019, inspired by Gretchen Rubin, I made a list of 19 things I wanted to accomplish in 2019. This week I realized that some of my goals for the year were unrealistic (Not “Run the Blue Ridge Marathon” though! I did that!) and I took some of those off and replaced them with new ones. Like, I want to hike once a month starting in July (with the possible exception of September when my training for the Rock and Roll Savannah Marathon will be ramping up–stay tuned for more about that). I also resolved to work extra hard on some others, like limiting my social media time and having a get-together at my house every month, even if it’s just coffee with a neighbor.

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Connecting with neighbors! That is something I’m terrible at! But just today I talked to three people: one person whose family just moved in next door, a friend from the next street over who I hadn’t talked to since before Ray passed, and an elderly lady on the next block. I’ve already got a few social engagements lined up with some of my neighbors, and I’m hoping to get to know the people around me better as long as I’m still living here.

Besides being buried in school work for the last two months (sure is nice to be off now, even if it’s just for a little while), I’ve managed to make some good memories since my last post at the end of May! Let’s see:

Nick graduated from high school and we spent the weekend celebrating his accomplishment with family.

 

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Nick starred in a local production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on the grounds of Kenmore Plantation in Fredericksburg. My parents came to opening night. My friend Sean came to see the final show the following weekend, and we spent some time beforehand touring the house, museum, and gardens.

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I ran a half marathon on the C&O Towpath in Washington, DC. It was my slowest half marathon ever. Hardly surprising since I wasn’t training and I wasn’t pushing myself and I kept stopping to use the restroom and take pictures and it was a warm day. I had a great time and met some nice people, and afterward I got to climb the big staircase featured in the movie The Exorcist and found the geocache that’s hidden at the very top! Who cares if I was slow?

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Last week I took part in a training for Responsive Classroom with other teachers from the county. I learned a lot, gained some new ideas, and made new friends!

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I’ve had some beautiful runs and found some fun geocaches.

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I’ve gone 100% plant-based, and started using a meal planner from Forks Over Knives. The best part about it is that it’s gotten me excited about cooking again!

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I’m hoping to post a little bit more often now that school is out. But the summer is short. And there is a lot I want to accomplish. Perhaps I’ll make sure I put “Blog” on my list every week.

Quieting the Noise

I bought a book a while back called Quiet The Noise: A Trail Runner’s Path to Hearing God. It’s the first of three in a series. I haven’t read it yet. I don’t even know where I put it after it arrived in the mail. I went on a trail run with a dear friend this morning, my first trail run in months. We hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks, and we spent an hour catching up on each other’s lives and pondering the ups and downs of life and relationships. We took a couple of photos and posted them on Instagram and Facebook. I got a few likes and comments, and a handful of kudos on Strava.

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Is this what it’s come down to? Every experience, be it positive or negative, has to be shared? Social media has been a great source of information and inspiration for me, don’t get me wrong. Without it I might have never started running. I may have never met some of the friends that I now hold dear. It helped me re-connect with old friends and stay connected with faraway family members. I enjoy my Facebook groups centered around running, geocaching, healthy living, even grief. I’m not sure if I’m willing to give all that up.

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I heard on a podcast recently that the average person spends 3.5 hours a day mindlessly scrolling on their phones. Holy crap. Do I do that? Brene’ Brown calls it “numbing.” She’s right. When life feels overwhelming or I’m missing Ray or I’m wondering how I’m going to survive (which is pretty much every day) I find myself on my phone, looking at Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and playing Solitaire. Sometimes I’m on my phone for a whole hour before I drag myself out of bed. What’s the point of waking up early to get things done? Mornings are when I’m typically feeling my worst emotionally and mentally. I’d be better off going for a run.

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Since Ray’s death I’ve been to some dark places. I’ve also experienced overwhelming moments of joy and gratitude. What are the things that make me glad I’m still alive? Not Instagram or Facebook or Twitter. It’s movement, being out in nature, real conversations with real people. Hearing birds twittering and owls hooting. Water cascading over rocks. Learning something new about a person. Feeling the wind and the rain and the sun. Having friends and family members around me. Watching ducks and geese and the occasional great blue heron. Seeing a beautiful sunrise, or sunset.

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Last weekend we celebrated Matt’s graduation from college. He has another year to go, to complete his Master’s degree and his teaching license. We’ll celebrate Nick’s graduation from high school in a couple of weeks. Chris joined the Air Force and made it through basic training. Without Ray these milestones are tinged with sadness but I am grateful for them all the same.

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In the next few years it will be time to leave this beautiful monster of a house with the lake behind it, and the old pipes and peeling wallpaper and great big trees. I want to find someplace small and cozy, close to nature, but not too far away from people. And no yard work. Unless I decide to plant a garden. I want to stay active, travel, run races, work out, geocache, eat plants, hike, sleep outside, have deep conversations.

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(Random geocaching photos)

And hear God. I want to hear God again. I don’t think social media can help me with that. Time to dig up that book.

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Guess what, I found it! Signed by the author, too!

A Hodgepodge of Stuff, Mostly Good

Recently my mother commented to me with a smile, “It’s a good thing to be alive.” At the time I didn’t know how to respond to that because if you want to know the truth, sometimes it sucks.

Grief is tricky. It’s made me more keenly aware of everything around me–my family, the clutter that doesn’t go away, the sound of the wind in the trees, deadlines.  Good things and not so good things.  Last fall when the boys and I spent a Saturday at Kings Dominion, I remember feeling the wind in my face and in my hair and taking great delight in that.  One day at work near Halloween time, someone was playing the Time Warp song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  With great gusto I did all the dance moves and walked away with a big smile on my face, and at the same time felt like crying.  The little things that make me glad to be alive can also trigger intense feelings of sadness.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning wondering what I’ve got to look forward to, and I face the day with dread. Usually it turns out fine, and even if it doesn’t it’s not so bad because the worst day of my life already happened.

We’ve made a lot of memories this last month and a half since my last post. All the good things that have happened and we are anticipating are tinged with a little bit of sadness because Ray isn’t here to share the joy with us. But instead of ruminating about loss and regret and gratitude in the midst of pain, I want to share with you a few moments of joy.

–1–

Running the Scope it Out 5K in Washington, D.C. with my good friend Pearl. It’s the Colorectal Cancer Alliance’s biggest race to raise awareness and funds for colon cancer research. There were a few tears at the beginning on my part, but we finished the race in under 30 minutes and had a great time. And, I got to break in my newest pair of Altra Escalante running shoes that I bought for Blue Ridge. In the rain.

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–2–

Spending a beautiful Saturday with my friend Sean and discovering a lovely new-to-me winery that even has a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima. And the wine is good, too.

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–3–

Running the Blue Ridge Marathon.  What an amazing, beautiful, difficult, soul-crushing, fun, fabulous race! At the start line I ran into Jeff Galloway (Mr. Run-Walk-Run himself. His wife Barbara wore a shirt that said “Queen of Run-Walk-Run.”) and his advice to me was to walk the uphills and adjust my run-walk-run as needed. That’s what I did. I also ran all the downhills, partook of the mimosas on Mill Mountain and the champagne at the top of Peakwood, talked to people, took pictures, wanted to cry and thought about quitting. I pushed through and finished strong, and THAT is a marathon I will definitely do again. Oh, and I finished only one minute slower than I did at Marine Corps.

(I also ran into Sally, who used to lead one of the Moms Run This Town groups here until she moved. And the man in yellow on the bottom right below? One of the amazing volunteers.)

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–4–

Spending Easter weekend in San Antonio with my boys, watching Christopher graduate from Air Force Basic Training. What a proud moment. San Antonio is a beautiful city, y’all! I want to go back. The Rock-n-Roll San Antonio Marathon is in December… Hmmm…

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(The city is named after St. Anthony of Padua. We found a statue of him on the Riverwalk!)

Chris is at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi now for his technical training. He wants to be an air traffic controller.  I’m hoping we can take some time out of our super short summer to go down and visit him.

–5–

And I can’t leave without sharing a few of the geocaches and the neat locations they took me to!

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(GC7YT8T, Hilltop, in Stafford County; GC5HT0X, Ruffin’ It, in Spotsylvania County; GC862ZD, Stashing Acorns #3, in San Antonio near Lackland AFB.)

 

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(I was First to Find on GC857FJ, A Salute to LTC Grayson, near the Stafford County Courthouse. It’s field puzzle at a war memorial placed in honor of a local cacher who served in Vietnam.)

 

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(GC7KEV, Tower of the Americas and Water Garden, in San Antonio.)

May promises to be super crazy. There will be lots of work-related stuff to do since we’re (already!) wrapping up the school year, and I hope I’ll be able to balance it out with some quality “me” time–and of course make some memories with my family too. I’ve been using social media as an escape lately, and I want to find some better and more creative outlets for my stress and sorrow. I also need to work out some things with God and I’ll let you know how that goes. Oh, and I’ve quit eating meat. And I don’t miss it. I’ll share some more beautiful plant based recipes in a future post. Until then, y’all.

The Food Post: Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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(Nothing to do with food but I took this on Thursday during my 9-mile run. It’s almost spring, y’all!)

I’ve decided not to eat meat during Lent. Not for any spiritual reason or penance, but I figured Lent was as good a time as any to try it. (When I went gluten free I started in Lent. It’s been about 7 years and I haven’t looked back.) I don’t expect I’ll go entirely plant based any time soon, but the more I read and listen to podcasts on the subject of nutrition the more I’m starting to believe that meat, dairy, and eggs are even less healthy than most of us realized. I’m not going to get into the specifics today but check out these:

The Rich Roll Podcast

Jami Dulaney MD

How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger

The Plant Proof Podcast

And I highly recommend you watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix.

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(This one is aptly named Patriot Cache. Found Wednesday March 13. Wait, isn’t this post supposed to be about food?)

So anyway, one of the resolutions I made on my “19 for 2019 list” I mentioned in my last post was to try at least one new recipe a month. This has been a little bit of a challenge since going (temporarily?) meatless, because I get a lot of satisfaction from taking a raw piece of meat and turning it into something amazing. Especially bacon. And I will say that a week into this vegetarian experiment I gave myself permission to occasionally eat fish, because at the mediocre chain restaurant my son and I visited last weekend there were virtually no options that were both vegetarian and gluten free. So I ordered salmon, ate a little of it, and spread the rest of it throughout the week. And last night I made shrimp and grits (it is worth noting that it would have been much better if I had made it with bacon like most people do). And most days I’m still eating some dairy and eggs.

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(Did you know we had a slave auction block in the middle of downtown Fredericksburg? I passed it on my 14-miler Saturday and noticed someone had left flowers.)

So, what is this, the second Sunday of Lent? I think that’s right. Since Ray’s passing I haven’t given Lent much thought. I was only vaguely aware of Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday this year. When a co-worker stuck her head in my door to say hello I noticed the ashes on her forehead and said, “Oh yeah right, it’s Ash Wednesday, isn’t it?” I didn’t fast like good Catholics are supposed to on Ash Wednesday, and I don’t plan on fasting on Good Friday either. Last time I checked my husband was still dead. That’s penance enough, thank you very much. Maybe next year I’ll be in a more penitential frame of mind.

So on the first Friday in Lent I prepared quinoa, never having tried cooking it before. It turned out to be super easy and delicious. Just cook some quinoa in water–pretty much the same way you’d cook rice, throw in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, and some spices. We topped it with a little bit of cheese and sour cream. I made a comment that I wished I had gotten some tortilla chips to go with it, and Nick found some taco shells to stuff. Instant quinoa tacos. Click here for the recipe.

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I even cooked in the middle of the week, can you believe it?? Matt was home from college for spring break, so after finding a geocache not far from where I work (see the photos above), I went home and prepared a recipe from the most recent issue of Fine Cooking: Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta (made with gluten free pasta, of course). Here’s the recipe!

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Not exactly healthy, what with all the heavy cream, butter, and cheese. Matt liked it, Nick not so much. I reheated some for lunch on Saturday and added extra spinach, which made it better, I thought.

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(Am I always this giddy to find a geocache?)

Last weekend I visited Stratford Hall in Westmoreland County with a friend from high school. He’d never been geocaching before, and since there are a bunch of them there we decided to check some of them out and to tour the house. Turns out they have a gristmill, which was not in operation that day, but they did have flour, cornmeal, and grits that had been ground in the mill. Last night I made shrimp and grits, and since most recipes call for bacon, I had to do a little digging to find one that didn’t. I found this one, and it got a thumbs-up from Matt (although he too agreed that it would have been much better with bacon).

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Tonight I made another recipe from the April/May Fine Cooking, Scrambled Egg Tacos with Potato, Poblano, and Avocado. We skipped the avocado because for some strange reason avocados make me sick to my stomach. I love them, but I can’t eat them. This was a winner for both Nick and me.

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(I’ve figured out the secret to keep corn tortillas from crumbling when I try and wrap stuff in them: heat them on the stove in an iron skillet. Boom.)

My friend Sean challenged me with the question, what are the top ten things you want to do in the next ten years? I had to think really hard about that one. It took me a while to come up with ten things, one of which was to get back into cooking again–something I used to really enjoy but don’t to much anymore because a) I don’t have as much time and b) I often don’t feel emotionally up to planning meals and cooking them. He then asked, which one of those things will you do this year? Yikes. Well, the cooking thing is the most feasible one, and I’ve been trying these last couple of weeks. Try a new recipe a month? Check, at least for March. I tried four, pretty much making up for January and February too, which were bombs. I want to cook one night this week, and at least one night next weekend, so if you have any good vegetarian ideas to share, throw them my way!

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(One last non-food photo. Sean and me on a chilly Saturday, at Robert E. Lee’s birthplace.)

Now to sleep… zzzz… See ya in April, if not before!

And Now? (Or, Resolution #1: Blog Once A Month. Happy New Year.)

(I’ve had many moments of joy since my last post. Here we are after a day of skiing at Wintergreen. )

When Ray was sick, I got into Gretchen Rubin. Reading her book The Happiness Project and listening to her podcast Happier helped me keep a positive mindset throughout the ordeal. After he died, I stopped listening. “Happiness” seemed like such a foreign concept. What does it even mean? Contentment with life, and/or circumstances? I had that once upon a time. Not so much now. Choosing joy despite hardship? That does not come easy. Recently I started listening to her podcast again from time to time. I’m to the point where I don’t (usually) get a knot in my stomach when I hear people talk about their relationships with their spouses, which is often the focus of Gretchen’s show. Neither Gretchen nor her sister Elizabeth, who is her co-host, as far as I know, has ever lost a spouse. Hopefully it will be many, many years before either one of them has to go through that. Even now when I’m listening I find myself shaking my head and muttering, “You have no idea.” But I enjoy their sisterly banter and I take note of some of the ideas they discuss that might bring me just a little bit of joy, or at least some feeling of normalcy.

(Christmas 2018 in Blacksburg)

For the past couple of years, they’ve been making lists of things they would like to accomplish in the coming year, and encourage their listeners to do the same. Kind of like New Years resolutions. This year they called the list “19 for 2019.” They inspired me to make my own list. Some of my 2019 to-dos are running and geocaching related, some are tasks that I don’t look forward to but are necessary (like home maintenance projects that desperately need to be done, or taking steps to lower my monthly spending), and some are just things that I enjoy that I don’t feel I have time to do anymore, especially since I’m having to take over everything Ray used to be in charge of.

(We all went to the Virginia Tech vs. Miami game in November. )

Take blogging, for instance. Every time I start a new blog, which I’ve done a few times over the last 10 years or so, it’s kind of an offshoot of a previous one. I started this one last summer, nearly a year after my life drastically changed. Somehow focusing primarily on running and geocaching, which was the theme of Ramblings of a Runner Cacher, didn’t seem like a complete enough picture of myself. (I still do both of those things, and hope to blog about them here sometimes.) I posted exactly four entries and then stopped. On my “19 for 2019” list is the resolution to post something at least once a month. I posted nothing in January. Today we’re having a snow day, and even though this was not on my to-do list for today, here I am again.

(Hiking Old Rag with some running friends in August)

 

(With my sister-in-law Pamela in Cape May in July)

So what’s been going on since last July? Well, lots of things. Towards the end of that month we spent a week in Cape May, New Jersey with Ray’s family and my parents. We celebrated his birthday by going out and having a big crab dinner together. I kept the anniversary of his death and our wedding anniversary low-key; in fact I don’t really remember what I did on those days. I think I did my best to try and keep them as normal as possible. I’ve run a few races, including the Marine Corps Marathon. It took me over six hours to finish. (I know some people are into race recaps; perhaps I’ll do that for my next post. In March. We’ll see.) A new school year began, and is already half over. Right now the biggest news is that Chris joined the Air Force, and officially begins basic training TODAY. He called me last night when he arrived safely in San Antonio, and I had all kinds of questions I wanted to ask him about the flight, and where he put such-and-such a thing that I was looking for. He said he couldn’t talk, he just wanted to let me know he got there, and goodbye.  Then today he called again to give me his mailing address for the next two months. That was a slightly longer conversation but still very brief.  They’re confiscating all phones until graduation, which will be sometime in the later part of April, we think. I’ll get a letter in the mail soon about that.

(I took this photo of Chris and Nick on Monday, before Chris had to leave on Tuesday)

Parts of me sometimes look at the upcoming year with…not dread, exactly. Maybe indifference? My soulmate is gone, and what’s there to look forward to if he’s not here to share it with me? But that mindset will only make me miserable. I want to squeeze as much joy as I can out of the life I have now with the people that are still here. That includes myself. So I hope to resurrect this little site, and once a month (at least) share a little bit of my struggles and joys as I try and navigate through life as a widow.