Erging My Way Back to Life

IMG_1062It is clearly January, and as many of you know that means the Concept2 January World Virtual Rowing Challenge is underway. This is my fourth year erging for Ariel Toy, under the watchful eye of our Team Captain Bob Reichart. It is a fiercely competitive team made up of heroic warriors, including a US Olympian, US Military personnel, and most of the Detroit Boat Club.

Last year, I barely scraped by to exceed the minimum requirement of 100,000 meters in 31 days due to exponentially expanded caregiver demands. This year brings an entirely new challenge and even though my overall meters may not be as high as in years past, it is a triumph of infinite proportions to even have re-upped for the event.

You see each of the years that I have participated mom has served as my cheerleader, coach, and witness. Walks with Molly punctuated long hours out on the porch in all kinds of conditions. So I knew this would be tough. I did my best to prepare.

For starters, I moved my rowing machine off the frozen tundra of the porch and into the den. Next, there was the issue of having not erged much since early last spring. I have been pretty sedentary over the last few months of intense grief. So last month I started doing 10 minutes per day. Which doesn’t sound like much but took tremendous courage. The first three times, there were long periods of sobbing after getting off the machine.

Facing ‘the erg’ on January first, I planned for 20 thousand and managed 12. It was humbling, to say the least. I had to keep stopping every few hundred meters for water, and to adjust my feet which were pretty sore from work. Needless to say my total meters for the day, although a decent showing, took what felt like forever to complete. The second day I tried to recapture the joy of beginners mind – I put on music and did a shorter stint. The third day I was pissed off and feeling extremely sorry for myself. And then something happened….

I began to remember how much I like the motion, and the feeling of strong competence as my legs push back and my arms follow through. I thought about how at one time my erg felt like my best friend and the anchor that helped me stay and take care of my mom.

With each successive day the image of myself once again gliding across the water with the loons and swans of Lake Cochichuate in the predawn darkness has grown stronger. As of today, at 54,193m I stand at number twenty of forty-nine team members, while Ariel Toy currently runs ninth, out of two hundred eighty-two teams. There is still a long long way to go.

All I know is there is a new confidence beginning to grow. I am still here, altered though I may be. I will survive. I have purpose and direction.

My goal for this month is simply to row each of the thirty one days, and to finish strong. It is clearly a year when moderation will be key to making it through.

Each month a new goal and another step back to living. Next month is LICSW test prep class. In the meantime I continue to make sandwiches, knit daily, dream of spring, and erg. And that ain’t bad all things considered.



"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 bakka2thesource a collaboration of musicians and artists.
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26 Responses to Erging My Way Back to Life

  1. Amy Lapetina says:

    I am so happy that you are going forward with your life, Beth. You are one hell of a strong woman and you show that every day by pushing through the tears and the pain. I can easily visualize you rowing on Lake Cochichuate when the weather is warm enough. You go, girl!

  2. Marge Gildner says:

    Keep rowing my friend! keep rowing — can hear and feel the energy

  3. marge says:

    keep rowing my friend, keep rowing! can hear and feel the energy

    • Right now, I am working on finishing the scallop edges of a beautiful multi-colored shawl made of Fleece Artist yarn from Nova Scotia. I will post a picture when completed. January is knit for yourself month, so unfortunately some of the projects I have on the go, sit and watch the progress on my shawl with envy. Hope all is well in your world.

      • Would love to see your shawl. I am a beginning knitter myself. I did not know about January being a knit for yourself month. Interesting concept. I never think to make anything for myself!

      • Me either, the gals at Iron Horse Knitting in Natick, where I knit every Friday afternoon came up with it. I love the concept. The rest of the year may belong to the yarns of others, but January spins it’s tale for those who toil. Or some such thing I just heard in my head. Happy knitting.

  4. Pamela Garrison says:

    Hi Beth, You’ll give many people hope through your entry today…..that life can go on despite the grief and pain you’ve gone through. I’m so glad you’ve gone back to your rowing, and you’re already doing so well at it. I’m proud of you. i can imagine how hard it must have been to take that first step, which was deciding to do it, and then going ahead and following through.
    I’ve been meaning to call you. I had a terrible month, I’m sure Amy told you about Andrew, I’m still worried but he’s doing much better. No one escapes without trials and hard times, do they?
    Amy told me how cute you look with your new haircut, by the way, A “new” you, not that there was anything wrong with the “old” one, but a new beginning.. I know it’s probably one step forward, two steps back, but eventually it will get easier.
    My mother said she was going to call you a few times but didn’t see your car at the house,, you must be working a lot. I hope that’s going well.
    I miss you.. Your blog today made me feel so good! Love, Pam.

    • Thanks Pam. You know, it is funny, at times on the surface of me, I have seriously felt like giving up, and that things would never get better. Underneath though I have always believed that even though there is no way to get over this loss there is a way through it to a rich full life. Thanks for being one of the people who has supported me and encouraged me to keep going. It is tough and it gets better.

      I am hoping Andrew is making a full recovery and that things for you too will be well. I cut my hair off because in all ways I am trying to lighten up. All that hair grew in sadness so I have offered it back to the creator.

      It does feel like so many new beginnings. As for the car, it is in the garage, and I am home most of the time, so please encourage your mom to call. Work is good. Making sandwiches is only hard on my feet.

      I miss you too and am so glad that reading my blog made you feel good. much love to you.

  5. Sylvie says:

    you are on your way! nice to see the rower again 🙂 i believe in you

  6. Samantha Amey says:

    You are such an inspiration, Beth! I’ll hold a vision of you, strong, smiling & erging, in my mind’s eye. And maybe some beautifully sunny summer’s day, we can glide across the water together. B
    Be well. Love & warmth, Sam

    • Thanks Sam. I will hold that vision too, although I wouldn’t exactly say smiling yet usually more of a grrrrr through gritted teeth these days, no seriously I am smiling more and my face looks more like me for the activity. Would love to glide across the water with you any time. Love and warmth to you as well. Hang in there it does get better.

  7. Clanmother says:

    I am so proud of you!!! Go for it!!! I am getting out my walking sticks tomorrow. You have inspired me!!

    • WOOOHOOO!!!!! Thanks Rebecca. I am pretty proud too. I am feeling a little more like my brave self these days. Glad you are inspired. I am picturing you walking out on the path along the seawall that goes by all the beautiful houses. Hope you will share your walk with us. much love.

  8. lance gauthier says:

    You are at the top of my list of people I would want in the lifeboat. Not only can you row all day, you will keep everyone’s spirits up until landfall.

  9. It’s great to see you back, Beth! One day at a time, one row at a time, one meter at a time when necessary. Never forget that the erg is ready to meet you exactly where you are and take you as far as you want to go. Keep us posted on how you’re doing, and if you need workouts you can find lots of choices here:

    You can do this! ROW ON!!!! 🙂

    • Thanks Sarah. It has been a tough road back, but I am starting to remember. What a wonderful way to think of it you have gifted me with. Each day is getting incrementally easier to approach my friend, as my confidence and erg-heart begins to heal. I appreciate your encouragement, it means a great deal to me. I will check out the link. Are you involved in the virtual challenge?

  10. ijwoods says:

    Good going Beth, that’s pretty cool. After losing Kris I read The Year of Magical Thinking and understood that the body goes through changes with grief and so made a concerted effort to get to the gym almost every day. It really helped in many ways. I saw one study that a husband losing a wife has a good chance of having a heart attack within the first week of loss, so physically it seemed like a good way to keep my immune system strong. The second day at the gym my car wouldn’t start and had to call for help. The tow truck driver was a big burly Vietnam War Vet who had lost his wife to cancer five years earlier. We hugged and cried in the parking lot, it must have looked really strange, but it made a big impression on me how overwhelming and long lasting grief can be. Take good care of yourself.

  11. lapetinaa says:

    I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award!!! You inspired me to start writing and I am amazed every time I read one of your blogs. Please continue writing, Beth. You have many things to say and you impart such wisdom. I love you!!! xxxxxx

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