So this past Saturday, January 28th, I organized the first Cycle for Survival in Alabama at the gym I teach spin at, Metro Fitness. It was successful and I was super pleased with the turn out of support!
I’m not going to go into detail about the event, but I want to discuss the importance of Cycle for Survival to me.
Cycle for Survival gives me so much hope, excitement, strength and focus. I truly believe in what they are doing for the developments in treating rare cancers, and I also like love the feeling it provides me leading up to the event and after. It gives me goosebumps knowing that in a day, so many people around the country are also supporting and raising awareness and funds for rare cancer research. It also gives me time to reflect and think about all the lessons, joys, and triumphs I shared with George. He too loved participating in Cycle for Survival. So when I’m on the bike, I feel connected with him, and on the days of Cycle for Survival, I feel like I am working for him. I am pedaling stronger than I ever had before, because I want to make him proud.
This year in Alabama, I didn’t have my closest friends around for support, I didn’t have my family nearby, but I did have a community there. I really appreciate the generosity of the people in Montgomery and beyond. Without their support this wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. We have neared the $3,000 mark and it’s a fantastic feeling to know that this money will go towards saving someone’s life and making a difference.
Each year around this time, I make new memories with George and it helps propel me forward. Allows me to feel stronger and I know the money raised is going toward something meaningful and will offer strength to others battling cancers.
I love Cycle for Survival.
Once in awhile I wonder what was the purpose of writing this blog. I did it because George and I loved blogging together, we had two food blogs, so I felt it was a way for me to continue a connection with him. But over time, the appeal and shine loses its luster. But recently I revisited those old posts and to know how far I’ve come in this journey is incredible.
I’m trying to organize my thoughts and posts a little bit and try some fluidity with them. But very much like grief, things just happen and there’s no control over them. I look at the old posts and they flip flop between miserable, excited, self-loathing, angry, manic, numb, and just getting by.
New Years is around the corner and I haven’t had a lot of luck with New Years. I think my first New Years after George passed was one of my best ones, just because I was with my friend Lindsay just reflecting on the shit year we had (2013) and how perhaps 2014 would be better. Little Chinese food, wine and One Tree Hill. It was memorable and she’s still one of my best friends and I love her for being there to do nothing with me as the calendar year flipped.
Good friends make suffering better. Always remember that. A strong support system will hold you up, even during the worst storms.
Note: I started this post almost a month ago and never finished. Will be choppy.
For awhile I floated through the days with little care because nothing could be worse than losing George. I lost my purpose and my life for the time being had no meaning. I wanted to stop existing. I remember on Christmas Day 2013, staring out of my hotel window wanting to just throw myself out of it. Defenestration was appealing but the result was not. I didn’t want to stop living, I wanted my life to be suspended. Put on hold until I could process what was happening to me. Or some way figure out how I can rewind everything back. But there I was, staring down at a massive Christmas display in downtown LA waiting for the day to be over and the nightmare presses on. My only expectation then was to make it to the next day.
Eventually all those days I bobbed through began to add up. And soon I was 3 months out, then 7 months, a year, two years and so on. But somewhere during the journey the mindless day began holding meaning. This Friday I didn’t cry myself to sleep, so let’s see how tomorrow will go. And soon I found strength to will myself to improve. Began walking Bodie for miles at a time. Those little bits helped. Started cycling a few times a week. Those little bits helped. And soon I had self-expectations to be active for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Because those 20 minutes helped my mind process the loss. And soon all those little bits started adding up, and mentally, physically and emotionally I was steady.
The expectations of others has always fueled me as well. But like so many it’s hard to live up to them. But one thing that is not difficult to ask of me was something my mom kept harping on me about: go through George’s boxes. I would roll my eyes and say I’ll get to it. But we both knew I was a coward. It bothered me I wasn’t strong enough to do it. Even as the two year mark came and went, I couldn’t do it. Opening those boxes, seeing his pictures, finding the memories, reliving losing him, I wanted to spare myself from it all.
I went back to Connecticut in the middle of October. The three year mark is just a month away and it was time. I knew I had to go through what I’ve been avoiding. I expected it to be as painful as the day he passed. Feeling lost, hopeless, and confused. But when I opened the first box and saw lyrics to a song about me, I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to find more. I wanted to swaddle myself in his love again. I could read his thoughts and feel him. I ripped through those boxes, shuffling his pictures, pulling and turning pages of his notes. Seeing his handwriting, reading his thoughts and immersing myself in the love we shared. I expected it to be so agonizing but it was rejuvenating. Pleasant and peaceful to be connected to him.
and then I realized, where I am now is because I have high expectations for myself and who I want to be. But expectations can also prevent me from taking those necessary steps to becoming the person I am meant to be.
Today would’ve been three years married to George. A undercurrent of sadness lingered around all day. I cried on my way to work, cried in my office and then cried on my way home. I taught spin class tonight and sitting astride the bike I felt so happy for having the opportunity to feel so much love. I just feel his presence whenever I’m riding. I can’t explain it. It’s just there. A calmness takes over and I feel it in my muscle fibers and it burrows deep into my bones. He loved biking and when my legs go round and round, I know I’m doing something I was programmed to do. I’m making memories with him still when I’m on a bike, indoor or outdoor.
This was my first anniversary where I’ve spent it pretty alone. The first one I was at Times Square cycle for survival and then went to sacred heart’s alumni game. Last year I spent the second anniversary out on the town with my boyfriend. And this year, went to work. Nothing eventful. And I’m happy I did nothing. I felt like I could really sit down and reflect. Think about George and how much I miss him. Think about the day we got married, how exciting and emotional it was. Seeing all the interesting people at the Manhattan court house. This life I’ve been living without him and how different it is. Wonder what it would be like if he was still alive. I allowed my brain to wander. It was peaceful, and I’m glad for once I didn’t try to distract myself from the chaos.
life moves forward, and so have I.
I love you George. And I always will.
im beginning to lean toward changing this blog or just starting a new one focused at health and wellness. Though going through grief opened up this new love of helping others, taking care of myself, and trying different avenues of fitness. I don’t think I’m an expert by any means. I think I have more to contribute to an arena like that than continuing the course of this blog.
ive been asked several times if I want to do a figure transformation and possible do a fitness competition. I’ve said no, but I also like stretching my body and pushing it to places and levels it’s never gone before. As I’ve continued with circuits, and boot camp style workouts I’m beginning to think I can achieve that physique that is so elusive. I dropped 50lbs after George passed away, maybe I’ll look to drop my body composition to less than 12% fat. Still humming and hawing but beginning to lean tilt toward possibly trying.
On Friday I got dolled up and headed out. I grabbed a purse that I don’t use tremendously often but I did year ago when I first got it. My sister gifted me a George Gina and Lucy purse in 2009 and I remember being so excited for it. I would carry that thing everywhere. George would comment about how it’s in my favorite color purple.
Before I headed out, I checked all the pockets to see if there’s any old receipts or trash. There were some old coffee and metro receipts, and I think one movie ticket. But then I dug deeper into the front pocket and pulled out a buckeye. Hard little round nugget with a darkened slit that looks like an eye. I remember walking past Rockefellars grave in the Cleveland cemetery and George picking up the buckeye. He handed it to me, grinning, and reminding me how the nut looks like a bucks eye. I dropped it in my purse to remember our trip to his hometown of Bay Village, just outside Cleveland.
Today I found a towel I used when we lived together in Jersey City. I pushed my face into it and it smelled like George. His scent stung in my nostrils and my heart swelled. But then it cracked like a glass in boiling water. It was too much.
I’m my harshest critic. I over analyze how I react, how I look, my behavior, everything. I’m unforgiving to myself when I know I’ve made a mistake, and this summer I feel like I’ve made several. But my counselor tells me I can’t be so hard on myself. I need to learn to be gentle. Understand that mistakes are all a part of living and growing. I like to think I have high expectations, but then the question came of are they high or unrealistic?
It’s hot here in Alabama. Almost unbearable. I take a shower and go outside and begin sweating almost immediately. It’s that time of year when Im trapped inside and I feel like a slug. Last year when I moved to Bama at this time I could barely run a mile in this humidity. The heat was oppressive and I felt terrible about my fitness level and then I started thinking all my hard work was unraveling. Turned out it is really hard to run in humidity. But those feelings are creeping back even though I know it’s just humidity getting to me. But I’ve started adopting other indoor forms of fitness and I’m feeling pretty good. Fitness certainly helps balance my emotions, and gives me a feeling of worth. It’s my thing and I’m good at it and I love the results. So lately I’ve been doing the stair stepper, lifting 2-3 times a week and I recently started doing the kettlebell AMPD classes I was certified for back in April.
Im not comfortable with the Kettlebell AMPD structure, but im having a lot of fun learning and getting better at it. It’s a format very different from teaching indoor cycling, but I feel like it’s making me more aware, focused and a better instructor. Being uncomfortable is forcing me to change and become innovative. And I like it. I love how I feel when I figure out a good routine. I’m proud when I complete a good run through. Im also learning more about sculpting and how to target big muscle groups. It’s really fun for me to be learning. And I feel it’s permeating to other parts of my livelihood. Work has been more enjoyable, and I feel like I’ve found a groove. I’m happier as of lately and not feeling so bogged down like I was in the beginning of summer. I’m piecing myself back together and I’m thankful for the support I’ve had. I think the changes in my routine in the gym has contributed to my mood as well. The grief tore me down for a bit, but I kept pressing on and found clearer skies. I just need to be gentle to myself and remind myself how far I’ve come. I also can’t wait for October weather to get here.
Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.
“The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.”
College summer recruiting is a necessary evil of my job. I shouldn’t call it an evil, but a necessary means to success. Watch, evaluate, contact potential student athletes and draw them to be interested in your school and grasp the vision you’re trying to establish and create with the program. I’ve spent thousands of hours doing this with sometimes great results and other years flipping over every rock possible. The summers I spent going to tournaments, camps, writing emails until 2 in the morning, the moment George passed away it filled me with so much regret. Hours spent chasing players and not spending with him. Unfocused while we’re together because I’m texting and writing recruits. It filled me with regret for so long, but this summer recruiting has been reinvented. It’s been fun for me!
Almost every weekend I’m traveling to attend showcases and I’m really enjoying the process. It’s been a great distraction for me and I’ve been enjoying meeting new people and interacting with the players. I’m helping growing the sport in Alabama and it’s very fulfilling. I’m happy. I feel like myself again. Rain or shine, it’s good to be looking forward to what I do best. And im so excited for what’s around the corner with my program and my career.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I got back from New Orleans this evening and this Memorial Day weekend has been nothing short of fantastic. I feel relieved, relaxed and most importantly happy. I had a great time with my friends. And of course when I reconnect I tend to think about those people who have come into my life. All the laughs, experiences shared and how people grow together and separately.
I also think about all the men and women where this holiday weekend is very somber and painful. This post doesn’t really have a lot of point to it, I kind of have been contemplating the reoccurrences of emotional hurt. I went to the WW2 museum in New Orleans and they have telegrams posted to family and spouses saying their sons are missing and cannot be located. It made me feel for those who ventured off to defend their country never to return again. I also ached for the loved ones who received those telegrams. To love someone so much where you feel invisible can also break you down to nothingness. Makes you appreciate the people who impact your life momentarily or those who are in it for the long haul.