Get Loud!

As a child, my parents threw me into every sport available on the planet. Soccer, baseball, volleyball, you name it; I’ve taken a crack at it. Throwing me into sports that I wasn’t any good at helped me in my, what seemed lifelong at the time, commitment to not exercising. I told myself that I didn’t need it and that gaining weight was a natural thing. However, there’s some point in all of our lives where the number on the scale needs to stop getting larger.

For those of you who’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve been through a weight loss journey, and that even though I could barley jog 5 steps in high school, I turned to running to help me lose weight as an adult. This isn’t the story that I want to retell. This is a summary of a new “triumph” that has taken place in my life recently that I think we can all learn from.

This past weekend, I ran a half marathon that I didn’t intend to run. I’ve ran half marathons before, but I trained for those races. This year, when my cousins asked me to run this particular half marathon, I told them, “no.” There really wasn’t a chance in hell that this would end well. For the past several months, I have been so preoccupied with other life happenings that I’ve let myself backslide into some unhealthy habits and limited exercise. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m not as motivated anymore.

A few days before the half marathon, I told my cousins, “you know, even though I’m not running, I’d still like to come and cheer you on the morning of.” One of my cousins, Samantha, mentioned that along with the half marathon course there was a 10K (6 mile) course happening at the same time. I thought to myself, well, maybe I am strong enough for the 6 mile course. Sure, I haven’t ran in 6 months, but I’ve done Pilates and a few strength training exercises, I think I’ll be fine.

Even though I had plenty of lead time, race day came sooner than expected. I was scheduled to pick Samantha up at her apartment the morning of. And, of course, she was running late. After she was finally ready, I looked down at the clock when we climbed into the car and realized that we wouldn’t make the start time. “Its fine,” she said, “we’ll just start our 10K race when the half marathon starts. We’ll still run the right course.”

The gun went off for the half marathon, and there we went. “I’ll stick with you so that we both don’t miss the 10K exit,” she exclaimed. Perfect, this chick, who is one of the fastest people I’ve ever ran with, has decided to move her run time to sloth pace, instead of the preferred gazelle, just to make sure poor little me doesn’t get left behind. Wow, how helpless am I?

As we reached the two mile mark, we realized that the exits for the 10K were blocked off. There was no way we were going to be able to do the 10K course. Fuck. At the five mile mark, Samantha ditched me. We both realized at that point that we were going to have to run the half marathon whether we wanted to or not, and she was not about to sloth pace through the rest of it.

***

Mile 7, about half way finished. I could smell the gasoline as I past the local Mobile station. And, I could smell the breakfast menu from the restaurant down the street. I felt disgusted. A man on the sidelines cheered, “Way to go, you’re half way there!” and I wanted to slap him. I couldn’t possibly continue. I felt like I could barely breathe.

As cops and paramedics whizzed by me on their bikes and in their golf carts, it took every ounce of resistance I had not to yell, “Officer, help! I’m on the wrong course. Can I get a lift to the finish line? I don’t feel well.”

***

I’ve made it to mile 8…after walking a majority of mile 7. I notice a pile of vomit on the course. Whoever did that, I get you. We are one in the same.

***

I’m on mile 10 and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. And then, I realize that I have another 5K left to run before I cross home plate. There is a man running next to me. He’s probably in his late 60’s. He’s decided that he’s fed up too, so he begins to power walk. I have slowed my jog to a crawl…that is apparently as fast as this man’s power walking speed. What’s the point of life?

***

Finally! We’re in the home stretch! There’s a man in front of me who is clearly having issues with his calf. He’s jogging with a limp, and I still can’t seem to pass him with my run/walk/jog routine.

***

Here we are, the finish line. The man with the calf issue is now skipping and limping, but he finishes strong…at the same time I do.

***

I surprisingly crossed the finish line and was only 12 minutes worse than the time I had the year before. I felt so low and disgusted with myself. How could I let all these people pass me? Why did I stop to walk? I never stop to walk! But, with “tragedy” comes a bit of clarity. I realized why I kept up with running when I started a few years ago. Throughout my younger years, I hated running because I always wanted to be faster than the people around me. It wasn’t until I realized that the only person you truly need to compete with while you run is yourself. Push yourself to finish, take it at your own pace. You don’t have to be better than the others around you, you just need to be louder than the negative voices in your head telling you to stop or that you can’t do it. There are so many people out there who don’t run because they think they’ll look stupid, or that you have to be an all-star athlete to run a mile. I’m living proof that you don’t have to. You just have to take it slow, and push yourself to be better than what you were yesterday.

It’s time to start getting louder than the voices in your head, because you’re worth it.

Granny Smith – over and out

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There’s More to Life Than This

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Hold on, kids because we’re about to get spiritual! Now, if you’re like me, your parents or guardians told you growing up that you should NEVER talk about religion or politics with acquaintances!! It’s just out of the question. And for me, it still is…but not today!

I recently started reading “There’s More to Life Than This” by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and I’ve got to say, she’s completely pulled me in and I’m fascinated. First of all, I love her show and believe that the gift she has (talking to those that have ‘crossed over’) is real, so I don’t feel the need to question the stories or descriptions that she’s written in her book.

The truth is, I’ve never been a religious person. My mother grew up in a very Catholic home and my father’s mother and family had a high respect for God, but I’ve never read a single sentence in the Bible, and I can’t really tell you much beyond who God, Jesus, and Mary are, but I’ve been compelled recently to discover that “religious side” of me that I’ve never dived into.

Basically, there are a few things we need to understand regarding when we die and I’ve listed them below. According to Theresa:

  1. When we die, our soul leaves our body and is greeted by our loved ones that have crossed over. We are almost immediately at peace.
  2. When we get to Heaven, we meet with our spiritual “guide” that has been with us throughout our entire life. Everyone has one. Here, we’re basically given a performance review. We watch what we’ve done in the physical world, but most importantly, we see how it affected the lives of the individuals who were on the receiving end of our actions. With your guide you talk about the life lessons you learned while on Earth, how you did, and what your soul needs to do in order to grow and evolve.
  3. There are many different “levels” in Heaven and God is on the highest level. Your guides and God place you at a specific level based on how you acted in the physical world. You can either select to work on achieving higher levels and learning “life” lessons in Heaven, or, you can select to reincarnate and go back to Earth and continue to grow and learn those valuable life lessons. Sometimes, individuals even select to become guides or teachers on the other side once they have truly evolved and learned all of life’s lessons.
  4. If you select to go back to Earth, you more than likely won’t be reincarnated into the race, ethnicity, or even gender that you are now. Your body will be different. You may even have a physical disability. But, while you’re on the Other Side getting ready to start your new life, you can select (with the help of your spirit guide) who you become in order to help you learn those life lessons you missed in your previous life. For example, if in your previous life you made fun of individuals with disabilities, you may select to come back in your next life as someone in a wheel chair to help your soul grow and evolve.
  5. God and spirits don’t look a certain way. God is a massive white light with gold trim.

It all sounds completely ridiculous, but because I believe in Theresa, I almost feel that what she writes is very real. And if it’s false, I mean, she must have a lot of time on her hands to make up these elaborate stories! And, the book doesn’t stop there! She’s written so much about God and our loved one’s that I’m only half way done with the book and I’ve already learned this much.

However, one thing that I do want to address is in regards to my last post, soul mates. I originally didn’t believe in them, and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept. But, Theresa says that our loved ones continually live with us in our next lives. So, say you have a husband right now. Your husband will probably be your cousin in your next life. You might have such a deep connection with the cousin he’s become in your next life and not understand it, but that’s because your bond was so crazy great in this one! Theresa used an example that in her previous life, her now daughter was her brother that she saved from a burning building!

Now, you might be thinking, Granny Smith, you’re posts have been pretty great up until this point..why did you have to go and ruin the fun? I know, I know. This isn’t something that everyone likes to talk about and these ideas haven’t existed much before Theresa. But, I find it fascinating and I thought maybe you might too. After all, maybe her words give us something to believe in if we don’t believe already…

Granny Smith – over and out

Special Treatment for Those with Special Needs?

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Now, before you think this post is going to be some hateful rant, calm yourself and read on. My brother was diagnosed in 1995 at the age of 3 with Autism, and I’ve been an advocate for the rights of special needs children ever since. However, about a week ago I found myself re-evaluating how I react to those with special needs.

Long story short, my brother has been participating in the Special Olympics for the past couple of years, and every year I try to attend his regional competition, which is located at one of our local high schools. This year, as my family and I sat down in the school’s cafeteria to relax before heading to the gym, a young, special needs athlete named Cole from one of the other teams walked up to our table, introduced himself, and started carrying on a conversation with me and my parents. Cole was hilarious, but at the same time he was very nosy and kept apologizing for asking questions. After awhile, he began to solely ask me personal questions, and it seemed he wanted to be friends (or something more) and know every detail of my life. I can’t lie, even though I spend a lot of my time around individuals with special needs, I was uncomfortable around Cole. Hell, I’m uncomfortable around all strangers! Finally, Cole’s dad realized that his son was talking our ears off and came over to our table to introduce himself and redirected his son to the gym.

The weird and sad part of all this was I felt a sense of relief and a burden lifted off my shoulders when he walked away. Phew, don’t have to deal with him again, I thought. But, I was actually wrong…Turns out, as luck would have it, Cole’s group ended up sitting next to my brothers, so I had to pass him on my way into the gym. Once Cole saw me, he immediately stood up and rushed to my side.

“How are you doing, ma’am?” he said as wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“Great!” I said, mustering up every ounce of pep I had.
“Would you mind if I sat with you for awhile?” he proceeded.
“Um, I think we’re supposed to sit with our teams,” I replied.
“Well, I don’t have to sit with mine, that’s the point I’m trying to make,” he shot back.

Thankfully, before the moment got any more awkward, one of Cole’s coaches called him over to sit with his team. And, of course, the fun didn’t stop there. After the opening ceremonies, I noticed Cole coming over to my brother’s team. To avoid another uncomfortable encounter, I used my brother’s larger build as a barricade and hid behind him until Cole was finished talking to my brother’s teammates. Seriously, this kid would not let up. He seemed to be doing everything to try and get my attention.

And, of course, once I thought I was free of him, it turned out he was competing against my brother under the same division…that meant I was going to have to run into him again at the awards ceremony after the competition.

Flash forward to the awards ceremony and my brother took first place (of course he did, we’re related). So, after all of the pictures are taken and everyone disappears, Cole came running up to my family, and that’s when I decided to make a break for it. I grabbed my things and briskly walked down the hall to hide in the women’s restroom. Cole saw that I was busting my ass to getaway and yelled after me, “DON’T YOU WALK AWAY FROM ME YOUNG LADY!” And then..he proceeded to ask my dad what my name was. Of course, my father thought this whole thing was hilarious and told Cole…who ended up screaming my name down the hallway until I disappeared.

Just at the point where I thought I had gotten rid of him, I realized that the exit door was at the other end of the building, which meant I would have to walk past the cafeteria where I last saw Cole. After a few minutes, I stuck my head out of the bathroom only to find him talking to someone right outside of the cafeteria. Well, eventually Cole’s new found friend decided to head back towards the gym and get some popcorn, which prompted Cole to follow him. I realized then and there that it was now or never. I swiped up my stuff and RAN towards the exit. FREEDOM! I thought as I reached the parking lot. And as my family and I drove away, all I could think was, I’m safe now

As I reflect back on the day that I had with Cole at regionals, of course I feel awful, but I’ve realized that even if he didn’t have special needs, I would have treated him the same way. With this situation, I’m reminded of the VERY FEW TIMES I’ve ever been “hit on” at bars while I was in college by guys that I had absolutely no interest in getting to know. And, what did I do in those situations? I politely blew them off, just like I did with Cole. I had no interest in hanging out with Cole that day. I was there to watch my brother kick ass and take names. And, I have a boyfriend. I’m not looking for any more male companions. And, did Cole suffer? Of course not! Being the friendly guy that he is, when I wasn’t around him he ended up talking to so many more people who were willing to engage in a bit of a conversation with him.

Personally, I think there’s this argument out there that we have to treat individuals with special needs as a “special case,” or be nicer to them than we would someone who doesn’t have special needs because they “unfortunately can’t be normal functioning adults in today’s society.” And most days, I think that’s a bunch of crap. With all of the special needs individuals that I’ve gotten to know through my years of volunteering and meeting my brother’s friends, people with special needs don’t want to be treated as “special cases,” they want to be seen and treated as though they don’t have a disability. They want to be treated how we want to be treated…like a human being. So, if you’re not interested in forming a connection with them, don’t! They rather have a genuine connection than put up with something that is forced….and wow, what does that sound like? Hmmmm, how about something that everyone wants, no matter age, race, gender, etc. So, at the end of the day I’m not advocating for everyone to go out there and treat individuals with special needs like shit. Of course not! Treat them as they are, human beings, and form a genuine connection that the both of you will benefit from.

Granny Smith – over and out