After eight long months of anticipation, only two weeks remain until it is time to head off to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Vermont, where I will begin learning to scull, while my beloved refines his racing skills. To the outside world, it may look like nothing more than an adventure vacation, selfishly undertaken on the weekend of my mom’s 90th birthday. For me, it is a profound step toward the completion of a dream, sixteen seasons in the making.
There was no possible way to predict the amount of change that would result from a compelling decision to take a day off work without pay, during the presidential primary four years ago. Aboard the smelly, twenty-something, testosterone filled van ride to Pennsylvania, there was one other woman. She was about my age, and we spent a character building torrential rain filled, dawn to late night Tuesday, canvassing hostile neighborhoods together.
A few weeks after our bonding experience, Alice invited me to workout with her following her morning row at the Saugatuck Rowing Club. To say that workout altered the course of my destiny seems a bit dramatic, but I assure you that is exactly what happened. Watching the boats come off the water at Saugatuck ignited a smoldering unrequited secret passion towards all things rowing. As if that wasn’t enough, it also led to an introduction to the man who has helped set my heart free from an unbearable sadness.
Four years later, my cells reside in a confidence born of, 3 million logged meters (which I only started to keep track of two years in), participation in the Crash B sprints, adult learn to row classes, an eighty pound weight loss, quarterly visits and countless phone hours with my man, the launching of my blog, enduring an unimaginable face treatment for basal cells, and the knowledge that I am doing an excellent job providing care on a daily basis to my mom.
There have been setbacks, disappointments, losses, and countless failures along the way. Fortunately, each one has led to a furthering of my will to succeed, and my belief that living fully, with love for the unlovable is the antidote to the terrible pull from the vortex of fear. Every morning I get up, and no matter what wind of feeling may continue to blow across the landscape, from the day before, I say, “OK. Now do it again!”
Physically, I continue to prepare my body to receive a new range of motions by focussing on endurance (hiking + walking + erging), stability (sound nutrition choices + adequate sleep), core strength (Pilates), balance (yoga), flexibility (stretching), and mindfulness (quiet reflection + meditation + visualization).
Mentally, I am reviewing past successes that may be needed, should I become frustrated by the task. It is likely no accident, that continuing to assist Jim Joy with the editing of his newest book, Hanlan’s Spirit (destined to become a rowing classic) is also going a long way to reassure me that this is something that takes a life time to grow.
While it is possible I will be embarrassed, it is unlikely I will perish. Having my lover, best friend, and one of the people I feel totally at home with along for the journey, is the rich frosting on my emotional security cake.
Although we will celebrate mom’s special day with a dinner on the Sunday night of our return, it is still a point of great sadness that my family has chosen to plan a huge birthday celebration on that particular weekend rather than the week before, or after. And yet, what better way to pay tribute to the life that I support on a daily basis, moment to moment, than by honoring my mother’s continuing mantra for my life -” I just want to see you happy”. While I feel badly about missing an opportunity to see extended family and friends who have not gathered for a happy occasion in so long, it is with my mother’s encouragement and reassurance that I take advantage of this opportunity. I hope they have the kind of wonderful time that will make memories to help mom’s heart feel happy, for all the days that remain.