my bike is a very very very nice bike

This morning, I was feeling incredibly motivated.  So –despite the habit I’d fallen into the past few weeks– I jumped on my stationary bike before 9am.  I started my book (“The Cruel Sea” for anyone interested … not something you might first consider to be good bike-riding listening, but I’ve been enjoying it very much).  I settled in for a long ride.

But … Something was off.  I’d noticed it yesterday, but thought it was just my foot slipping on the pedal.  This morning, it was different.  Very rhythmic.  Very disruptive.  Around 30 minutes into my ride, I picked up my phone and messaged John.  I told him something was wrong — he’d need to look at the left pedal when he got home.  I was going to power through my ride.

Only, I wasn’t.

At 32 minutes, the pedal fell off.  I scrunched down, I looked at each piece — the fallen off pedal and the mechanism on the bike.  Things were wobbling.  I sent John a picture.  I told him I’d broken the bike.

He was wonderful.  He asked for more pictures.  He started googling new bikes.  Within three hours, we’d checked “Best of” lists and ordered a new stationary bike as well as a trainer to put our outdoor bikes on.  I maniacally checked the shipping info.

I have become so used to riding my bike every day, sweating out the sorrows, the woes, the frustrations, the sadness and the fears.  Working through problems.  That when the pedal fell off, I felt even more adrift than I had when I left my job.  I felt terrified.  How would I get through the seven days it would take for my new bike to arrive?  How would I survive?  More importantly, how would I sweat? 

I fretted about it all day.  While I took Lucy to the vet, went clothing shopping with John, waited for take-out burgers.  I tried to calm myself with the knowledge that help was on its way.  But it didn’t make me feel better.  Smaller bumps than this had disrupted better men.  How would I stay focused and motivated with a seven-day gap?  I didn’t trust myself.  I didn’t trust my resolve.  Thirteen months, and this could be the end.  I was despondent.

John and I got home.  We put on comfy clothes.  I spread out our food booty on a TV tray.   Burgers, and french fries and blue cheese dipping sauce with a small cup of root beer.  He said he was just going to check out the bike.  Minutes ticked by.  I paced.  I fretted more.  I  poured two glasses of wine and walked downstairs.

“Do you want the good news or the bad news?”  There was laughter under his words, but ironic laughter, disillusioned laugher.  Not funny laughter.

“It can be fixed? But not today?”  I guessed.

“Ha!”  This time he did laugh.  “No.  It’s fixed.  But we just spent a ton of money replacing it.”

“It’s fixed?” My voice was filled with both delight and the underlying fear that he was lying.

“It’s fixed.”  He stood up, his hands on the console.  He spoke with finality.

My whole world lightened.  I smiled, stupidly, childishly.   I positively beamed.  He shook his head.

“I can ride it tomorrow?”

“I wish I’d looked at it tomorrow.  Because now I have to ride it tonight!” He words were heavy but lined with amusement.  He caught my expression.  “You can ride it tomorrow.”

We climbed the stairs back to our living room and settled in for burgers and sitcoms.  We toasted our glasses, and I thanked him for fixing my bicycle.  He smiled sadly.

“I’ve counted on it for thirteen months,” I began, feeling guilty.

“I know. I’m glad it was an easy fix.”  He kissed my forehead and took my hand.  We curled into the couch.  “I just don’t know where I’m going to put the second bike.”

creature comforts

On Wednesday my husband bought me three Caramello bars.

I adore Caramello bars.  I compulsively buy them every time I go to a Wawa (or heaven-forbid another gas station market). I cannot go to CVS without detouring to the candy aisle to check for them.  If I don’t eat them, I stash them in the freezer.  Y’know.  Just in case.

I was feeling a little blue on Wednesday.  It’s the middle of March, so it’s right on time.  But it gets me every year because I am convinced that it will be better.  It never is.

Tuesday’s ‘blizzard’ was so disappointing, and my day was so … far from what I’d imagined … that Wednesday felt like a hangover.  The ‘ice snow’ was piled inconveniently around the entire neighborhood, making a walk with Lucy like climbing Everest and moving my car basically a no-go  Not that I had an incredibly exciting destination.  I didn’t.  But a chai tea latte on a snow squall day can cheer up anyone.  And it wasn’t even an option.

Bad days are always peppered in with good days — regardless of my work status.  I think everyone — if they were being honest — could agree that not every day dawns full of sunshine and roses.  It’s really about how we choose to deal with the obstacles.

I’m getting better, but I’m not necessarily good.

Some of the things I’m non-negotiable about in order to get myself motivated ~

I always get up when John takes Lucy out for her morning walk.  No matter what, I make us smoothies.  I’m pretty Nazi-ish about green smoothies.  Sometimes all John wants on the weekend is a big breakfast, and instead I present him with a bright green smoothie, and multi-vitamins.  He’s a champ though, and drinks them every day.

I also made a commitment last March to ride my bike.  And now, I ride pretty much every day.  Even when I procrastinate until 4pm, I manage to slink down, climb on and ride.  And inevitably, I feel better.  All that talk about endorphins and exercise?  Yeah, it’s pretty true.  Exercise works like a charm every time to boost my spirits.

I’m also a little obsessive about my water intake.  I try really hard to drink about 90 ounces of water a day.  First, it’s not easy.  Second, you have to pee a.lot.  But again, it always ends up being worth it.  I feel better, I don’t stuff junk food in my face all day, and my skin looks amazing (haha!).

I think one of the most important things is recognizing when the blues are coming.  Sometimes I’m in them before I realize.  But because I am such a creature of habit, I’ve usually already had my green smoothie, drunk a ton of water, and either ridden the bike or had it planned.  Doing these things are a small help in keeping my life on an even keel.  Because it’s not just about the sadness, it’s also about the M.S.  The way it wreaks havoc with your life.  The way you are up one minute and down the next.

I’m really really hoping that the weather figures itself out and we progress slowly toward April and warmer temperatures.  I love the winter and the snow.  But Mother Nature sure has been ornery about it this year.  I’m ready to feel steady again.




snow daze

Twice this winter we have had dire forecasts that amounted to nothing.

Wildly disappointing.

I was looking forward to snow — mounds of snow, the air thick with snow — so much fluffy whiteness and quiet that it drowned out life for a moment.  I was massively let down.

I’ve been in an interesting mindset for the past few weeks.  Not quite sure where I’m going, not quite sure where I’ve come from.  When you spend a significant amount of time in any situation, you lose perspective.  You forget all the compromises you made along the way to get through the day.  Coming to terms with that can be both difficult and humbling. It can make you see yourself in a different light.

I spent many years of my life in abusive relationships.  I kept my head down.  I believed if I loved enough, if I gave enough, then any obstacle could be overcome.  I was wrong.

My husband is a great man.  A kind man, a thoughtful man, a caring man.  I walked through the fires of hell to get to him.  I don’t know what changed in the universe, what realigned karmically that allowed us to meet and make things work.  The timing was terrible.  I mean, it couldn’t have been worse.  We were painfully poor, I was unemployed.  Between us we had debt that could drown better men.  And somehow, we kept our heads down, we held onto each other and we — against all odds — became an unbreakable team.

We both did things along the way that broke us a little.  Things to pay the bills, things to get by.  We compromised our morals, we smiled in the face of ignorance and pettiness.  We held onto each other in the darkest moments, and then we held onto Lucy.  And we believed, unwaveringly, that we would get through to the other side.

A few years ago, after our backyard wedding and living in an 800 square foot apartment for six years, we somehow found ourselves on the other side.  We paid off debt.  We bought a house.  We bought silly cars.  We traveled to Italy, and then Iceland and then to Jackson Hole …. just because we could.

And after all of that, after all the struggle and the smiles and the massive compromises, I broke on the inside.  I lost my drive.  My direction.  I wondered what I was doing with my life.  Why I kept doing it.  I justified it all.  I came up with reasons.  They were good, too.  And they weren’t wrong.  I’d done what I’d done to get to where I stood.

But once I was there, once I had the things I’d worked so tirelessly for, I couldn’t imagine continuing.  I couldn’t imagine keeping up the smiles when I was so desperately, deeply unhappy.

So one would have thought that leaving that situation, walking away from all the burdens that had weighed on my shoulders for years — would make me feel infinitely better.  Strangely and sadly and with much disappointment and bewilderment, it did not.

I find myself, at thirty-seven, wondering who I am, what I stand for.  I don’t have children to help define me, to give me purpose.  And I don’t have the career that I held onto with a vice-like grip, to help me justify the choices I’ve made across the years.

It’s these moments, this struggle for self-discovery that separates the weak from the strong.  How do we rebuild ourselves following ‘the end’?