Monday, January 20, 2014


January 15th would have been my mother’s 78th birthday.  Nine months ago, she passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack while riding in the back seat of a taxi cab en route to a standard doctor’s appointment.
The emotions surrounding my mother’s death are still unpredictable and sometimes surprising.  She and I had grown apart by the time of her departure, but the underlying ties that bind; these threads of my very existence sway from a non-existent tether of mother/daughter to a nagging tug of a heart string, to a jarring jolt of reality. 
As mentioned in RIP Mom, my relationship with my mother was drastically different than your typical mother and daughter union.  My  mother’s mental illness did not allow her to have a standard relationship with me or my half-siblings.  Throughout my lifetime, my mother was on the outs with any one of her three daughters at any given period in time; with me being the most recent (and at my choosing to keep her at an arms-length for MY sanity).  Ironically, I was also the closest to her out of her three children.
The harsh words delivered regularly by my mother (i.e. “You want to know why you are fat……”) are now cushioned by memories of positive occasions with my children instead (i.e. “Did you know that Blueberry Hill was Grandma’s favorite song?”).  The searing pain of the large wooden dowel cracking down my backside and across my skull, slowly being faded by happier thoughts (i.e. “Kids, I bought you some Stella D’Oro cinnamon twists!”  “Oh, just like grandma used to share with us!”).
The pain from the multiple beatings from one of my mother's bi-polar downs is etched into my brain and scarred onto my body.  The sadness of not knowing why or how a mom could hurt her own child remains confusing to me and may have more of an explanation of some of my less than stellar character traits.

My mother’s death, and her recent birthday, just reaffirmed that sometimes I just want my mommy.  Of course, my mother was not that person for me but it’s an euphemism for my desire of having that normal mother/daughter relationship.  Several women around me have strong bonds with their respective mothers, of which I am envious.  However, instead of lingering in my past, I am applying the facets, incorporating the pieces, and establishing the kind of mommy I want to be to my own children.

I am tough and I set high expectations for my children in basic family values such as displaying good manners, succeeding in school and in their activities, and being compassionate and caring human beings.  However, I am soft, cuddly (ask my youngest about my “figgy pudding” – aka squishy belly) and offer them unconditional love.  I am their friend who laughs about farts, burps, inappropriate Seth Rogan movies and wrassles with them until we are all out of breath and pleading for a reprieve.  I am their parent who can dish out a frightening “Momma face” and they know that their actions or words better cease immediately as I do not hesitate to dole out a consequence.   I will be their biggest cheerleader throughout their lives, I will help them cushion their blows, and I will be their Mommy when they may need it most.

Perhaps forgiveness is key.  In 2014, one of my goals is to face my fears head on.  Perhaps, one of the deepest fears is by letting go of the way my mother treated me that I will absolve her of her actions and words.  However, with my mother's recent passing birthday, I have realized that this is not about my mother and post-death, it is irrelevant whether or not her actions are absolved by me but rather, forgiveness of my mother will allow me to move on and create a new chapter.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

She Said What?


The day after my 40th birthday, I had a scheduled annual physical.  You know, what better time to get on the scale after a couple of weeks of Christmas, New Years and birthday celebrations and libations.  Happy Birthday!  Oy.

For the past decade, the scale has NOT been my friend.  Alright, what woman IS friends with her scale?  I hear you moaning and groaning in agreement.  Further, I hear my scale moan when I step on to it.  I am confident that I am NOT one of those women bound by the numbers on the scale.  Seriously.  I am not.  I have no desire to weigh the beautifully perfect and lithe 135 lbs that I was at my absolute most fit self in college.  I recognize that returning to a range of 145-155 would be ideal and a dream come true.  However, I will publicly announce that I get on the scale nearly every…..single…  (Yes, it bellows at me each time with a consistent reliability).

When I finished the third and final batch of chemotherapy, the medical staff informed me that the weight I had gained as a lovely side effect would indeed be more challenging to remove.  I really wish they would have told me it sticks to your bones like freaking wallpaper paste and it is nearly impossible to remove EVER.  (Yes, I have tried to steam it off in the hottest, most rocket fueled showers ever). 

In any event, after questioning my oncologist about the stubborn Michelin tire that remains around my middle, despite regular works outs and low glycemic nutrition, he simply said, “You will be one of those people that this is always a challenge for.”  BOOM.  Knocked my ass to the floor with a dose of harsh reality; but I took that as a literal challenge and dropped about 25 pounds before getting stuck in yet another plateau.

As life will have it, more curveballs came my way and I have come to realize that I am an emotional eater….or rather an emotional over-eater.  Those aforementioned 25 pounds lost, yeah, well, they “snuck” back on as I dealt with the skeletons in my closet……the emotions I *think* I know how to cope with, but rather I find it easier to shove those ugly emotions way down into your deepest core (which creates the Michelin tire affect around your mid-section).  I would not recommend it.

People ask me, with some trepidation, how I can be the size that I am with all the working out and the healthy eating I do.  I have had a doctor tell me it is in my genes; I am genetically pre-disposed to being a giant because of my Welsh/Polish and Russian heritage.  I have had a doctor tell me, “Your parents are fat, therefore, you will be fat.”  Remember, my oncologist even said it was chemo and just the way it was? 

Yesterday, at my physical the new doctor I saw asked if I had any other concerns after announcing my clean bill of health.  I said yes.  After spelling out the reality of my habits, including a refreshed 2014 perspective on clean eating for my training regimen and upcoming races, I asked her if there was anything else I could/should be doing and if there is any truth to the lamest of excuses people have been offering me (“It’s hormones, women at your age have NO metabolism and hormones screw it ALL up!”).  She looked me square in the eye and said, “Can’t you just be happy that you are healthy?”  BOOM.

I was speechless.  Yes, I had nothing to counter her response with.  I was confused.  I did not know how I should process this question/statement this new doctor had just uttered to me.

Am I happy that I am healthy?  You bet your ass I am.  Sorry, but once you have had cancer, a healthy body is the most compelling desire you would ever wish for.  Am I thankful every day that my amazing body continues to function and perform well enough for me to carry out my daily activities AND to work out in multiple types of exercise?  You bet I am.  Do I wake up every morning and count my blessings that my heart is ticking, my lungs are compressing, my blood is surging…….yes, my blood is surging as I think about that statement more and more from this physician.

As fit as I am, regardless of the miles I can run or the monstrous weights I slam around, I am overweight.  As long as I am overweight, my perspective is that I have the ability to be even healthier.  Those extra 20-25 pounds that seem to come off and sneak back on, come on – we all know they are an added burden to my heart, to my lungs, to my bones……..yet, she thinks I simply need a perspective re-alignment.

With that, I am kicking this weighted (pun intended) negativity out the door – these ugly emotions will not be shoved down into the tire for added girth this time.  Once again, the challenge is accepted.  I refuse to ACCEPT the carelessly tossed statement from a medical professional that I should basically give up and be happy with my current state of health.

I will not focus on losing weight this year.  Instead, I will focus on how this powerful body needs optimal fuel to perform and that is by clean eating.  I have switched to a local farm for our meats (, so that I know my HORMONES are not being affected by hormone-laced meats tainted with antibiotics and more.  During the cold, harsh New England winter when my CSA is not available, we make the trek to Idylwilde Farms in Acton ( for fresh, vibrant and full of flavor vegetables and fruits to make it through the Artic Vortex.

I will continue to push my personal limits of strength, endurance and resolve at my local gym with the trainer that motivates me beyond any one before him and with the friends who share blood, sweat and tears by my side through grueling workouts (   I will run my long runs with my music pumping at hearing damaging levels (hey, I’m already hearing impaired) and enjoy the solidarity of the mental break these routes afford me.  I will run the Boston Marathon a good deal lighter than I am right now, because honestly, I do not wish to carry an extra 25-30 lbs through 26.2 miles.  I will walk into that doctor’s office again in a year and simply say “Boom!” because no one shall set limits for me nor do they tell me to give up or become complacent.

Have you ever been told something silly by a medical professional?  How did you react? 

Have you ever been told to give up on something in your life?  What did you do?

Friday, January 3, 2014

40 - Are You Ready?

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."

--Agatha Christie

I do like living.  Why did it take me to 40 years of age to realize this?  Okay, it did not take that long, but it certainly took desperate and trying times for me to swallow that wake-up pill in my thirties.

Two days from now, I will be forty years old.  F..O..R..T..Y.  When I was a child, forty seemed so OLD.  My dad was forty when he had me and my mom thirty-seven (but turned thirty-eight some ten days later).  Forty should not have seemed ancient to me when my parents were just starting their lives with me in their fourth decade of living.
Much like the recent cliché, I do believe that forty is the new thirty.  Many of my friends are just now kicking off “living” their lives in their forties.  As our children enter their double digits, the constant restraints of littles at home gets a wee bit easier (and our time constraints are more bound by the endless taxiing of these big kids to their activities).  Our marriages are more grounded and the ability to focus on activities for ourselves is balanced between spouses with said older children.  Not to mention my husband has realized active wear is my preferred look and he seems to find it sexier than stilettos.  Seriously, have you seen my confidence as I strut in my favorite Athleta pants?  Much more exuberant than watching me try to tip-toe through sky high heels, with arms out plane-style for balance coupled with the idiotic, psychotic giggling as I try to walk with some sense of balance -  much as I imagined our evolutionary ancestors did on two legs for the first time.

The aforementioned confidence is something that comes hand in hand with turning forty.  I am less afraid to try new things at forty than I would ever have been at twenty.  At forty, I know it is not what have I got to lose, but it’s I’ve got everything to lose!  My life is nearly half over and I am AFRAID of the clock winding down, ticking out before I have had the chance to accomplish as much as I can. 
Sure, staring that cancer monster in the face is more than an enlightening moment – not unlike the scene from “Scrooge” and being paid a visit by the Grim Reaper as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.  Yes, it is true that it took me getting a bitch slap in the face by cancer to realize that I was merely existing and not living.  I took my amazing body for granted for thirty-something years.  No more.  I will be living proof that this body will be the best it has ever been by the end of 2014!
My thirties really did suck.  There is no better word that describes the rawness of the decade other than it was rotten beyond the core.  Being the in the sandwich generation and caring for elderly and sick parents is an unfortunate reality for many of us.  Add a cancer diagnosis and nearly a full year of treatment and you have a less than textbook chapter for your memory banks.  The positive out of my thirties is I had an unexpected pregnancy, a child that saved my life so I may sit here and embark about what a trip my forties will be.
Children, please sit and watch as your Momma takes on the world.  Limited only by money and adult responsibilities (aka work), no experience should be left undone in this decade.  (Ahhh, well, I have not quite yet decided if something like sky-diving is on my bucket list….and that tattoo………). 

(Yes, that's what I am considering......thoughts?)
Friends, please join me for the ride through the Fanabulous Forties, literally and figuratively.  What are YOU waiting for?  Is there an experience you have considered but have yet to undertake?  Let’s do it.  You name it, let’s get ‘er done.
Here are some of my adventures I am committed to thus far in 2014:
·         Cupid’s Undie Run
·         Disney Princess Half-Marathon
·         Boston Marathon
·         Reach The Beach Relay
·         Warrior Dash
·         Huff & Cuff 5k
·         Multiple PRs at Crossfit978
Putting the exercise related goals aside, I do hope to do a better job of balancing my life.  I will ALWAYS be a breast cancer advocate as long as this disease is a threat to my community.  We CAN do better and we have been making an impact on the lives of so many.  In 2013, we collectively made a difference and continued to pave the way for change in the world of pink.  My passion for spreading the lesson learned (I totally ignored my symptoms of my disease) will be louder than ever.  However, I must balance my advocacy with work commitments and my young family.
My goal is to enhance my friendships and do a better job of spending quality time with close friends.  Because of a busy life, I often tend to wait for others to ask me to get together and instead, I hope to do more of that myself.  Pro-active instead of reactive in 2014 and finding friends who not only love me unconditionally but those who fuel my inner Goofy Goober (or give me a run for my money).
Watching my best friend from childhood battle cancer herself has reinforced my desire to kick off this next decade with a fierce ambition.  Therefore, I will share my forties with you:  my adventures, my triumphs, my slips and my falls.  In this new year of 2014, I will be launching a new blog:  “Authentically Bold: Rebecca” for you to journey along with me, if you choose (and I *really* hope you will or I will bat my eyelashes at you relentlessly until your power is weak).
Are you ready?  I am open - so let's run, let's climb, let's paint, let's dance, let's laugh, let's cry (okay, not really, I hate crying), let's conquer the time we have and let's make our lives spectacular.
Let’s be alive together.   You in?