Monday, May 28, 2018

Happiness is.. the Bolder Boulder

Today I participated in my 20th consecutive Bolder Boulder! This is the first year I didn't run, but it was the best time I ever had!

First a little history..  My brother, Chris, an Air Force pilot and runner, died in a car accident on Memorial Day, 1997.  This was the day I learned what heart-breaking grief is all about. Chris was 35 years old and about as full of life as any one person can be. He was fun, full of energy, and always ready to play. Whatever we were doing, he was 'all in.'

In 1999, we moved to the Bolder area and I heard that the Bolder Boulder 10K race was one of the biggest Memorial Day celebrations in the nation. Even though I wasn't a runner (we're talkin' worst athlete ever..) I thought it might be an event that would help me remember Chris.

When I saw what a party that race was, I knew Chris would have LOVED it. And when the Memorial Day tributes took place after the race in Folsom Field stadium, I was reminded of how much grief others have lived through... how much sacrifice was made so that we can have all the freedoms we take for granted.

It was at that time, and because of that first race, that  I became "a runner." I've run countless races since that day, some years more than others, but the one annual race I never miss is the Bolder Boulder. I made a promise to myself that every year I'd train to run it in under an hour. It's been a great motivator, come January, for me to get in shape. For 19 years, every Memorial Monday, I've run that race, thinking of Chris, and thinking how lucky I was to be alive and healthy.

Fast forward to January, 2018. After more and more back pain, a physical therapist recommends giving up running.  And the pity party in my head begins. "Poor, poor, me. No more Bolder Boulder. And this was going to be my 20th year!" (This is oddly reminiscent of my husband wanting a divorce when I'd been planning for our 20th Anniversary party!)

As I was telling my pathetic sob story to my grown-up kids, my sweet daughter-in-law, Stella, offers, "We can walk it with you."

"Really?" I ask (knowing that my sons are pretty competitive and would undoubtedly think walking was for wimps!) "Would you wear costumes?" (Another thing that my sons are unlikely to want to do...  and that's putting it mildly.)

"Sure," she answers! (Luckily, Stella has a lot of influence with my sons.)

So, today, on the 20th Memorial Monday since I began this tradition, instead of running like I usually do, I fully experienced this amazing race with my two sons and daughter-in-law. We danced to the bands, we jumped on the trampoline, we slid on the slip'n'slide, we took advantage of every high-five, water spray, and food offers from people on the sidelines.

My sons took the opportunity to drink way too much beer that was offered all along the route, and when the military songs played, they both proudly stood and sang their respective anthems for the branches they serve (one for the Army and one for the Air Force).

As I listened to the patriotic songs and Memorial Day tributes, 21 years after Chris's death, tears welled up in my eyes like they do every year.  My tears are partly still grief, but more than anything, they're tears of pride and gratitude.

I will always be sad that I lost my brother, but he's the one that showed me how to live..  to get in the race... whether I'm running or walking or dancing or being pushed in a wheelchair.

I learned an important lesson about the Bolder Boulder today:

The front runners may be fast, but those in the back are having a much better time!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Happiness is... Sunny Days and Fridays

We've been having some very rainy weather this week, which, like Mondays, tend to bring me down. I must have heard that Carpenter's song, "Rainy Days and Mondays" hundreds of times.The Carpenters album was one of my first and favorite records.

Of course back in THOSE days (the same days that my father walked uphill in the snow both ways) we listened to records on record players and I played that record over and over again.

Is it any wonder that rainy days and Mondays always get me down? I've been brainwashed to think that!  (It might also explain why "stars suddenly appear, every time you are near," but we'll stick to the rainy days and Mondays depression for now.)

For all of my adult life, I have wondered why I get a melancholy feeling on Mondays and rainy days, and I just realized it's all because of that stupid song! And don't even get me started about the part about having to go out and run to "find someone who loves me!"  I really think this is a breakthrough that I should report to psychologists! All this time, they've been thinking brain chemistry is to blame for depression! Why haven't we been thinking about lyrics from our favorite childhood songs?

Well, of course, for the sake of the future mental health of our children, I've rewritten the lyrics of Rainy Days and Mondays:

Sunny Days and Fridays

Talkin' to myself and feeling great.
Now when the days are bright;
Everything seems just right;
Hangin' outside, lookin' at that gorgeous sky!
Sunny days and Fridays always make me high!

When it's dark I tend to get the blues;
I blame that old song;
But now that the days are long;
I'm hangin' outside, lookin' at that gorgeous sky!
Sunny days and Fridays always make me high!

Funny, but it seems I'm fine with leaving home my phone;
Nice to know my people love me
Funny, but it seems I'm fine with being here alone;
I know I will always love me.

What I feel is thankful for the day.
No need to talk it out;
We know what it's all about.
Hangin' outside, lookin' at that gorgeous sky!
Sunny days and Fridays always make me high!

Of course, the children of today are probably not listening to Carpenters music, so maybe re-writing the lyrics won't help them. What's the last song I listened to with my granddaughter? "Rotten to the Core" from Disney's Descendants.  Uh oh.

* Addendum..   I was challenged to rewrite the lyrics to stick with Rainy Days and Mondays, so here's what I came up with:

Rainy Days and Mondays

Talkin' to myself and feeling good.
Even though the weekend's through;
Another week to start brand new;

Workin' my brain, listenin' to that pouring rain!
Rainy days and Mondays are good times to abstain.

When it's warm I tend to drink too much.
Stayin' out way too late;
Eatin' and gaining weight;
Workin' my brain, listenin' to that pouring rain!
Rainy days and Mondays are good times to abstain.

Funny, but it seems I'm fine with going to my job;
Nice to know I've got an income;
Someday I'll travel south and become a wealthy snob;
Nice to know I'll be a beach bum;

What I feel is we can pick our fate.
No need to talk it out;
We know what it's all about.
Workout your brain! Or hop on a frickin' plane!
Rainy days and Mondays are times to go insane.