Bent, But Not Broken

About a little over a year and a half ago, a week before my 40 Birthday, I made a change in my life that would affect me in ways I never imagined.

I started running when I was 17 years old.  It was easy to do, didn’t take much thought or preparation.  I quickly learned I was pretty good at it.  I could whip out 4 or 5 miles without even really thinking about it.  Running was also a nice mental break for an hour.  For a while, I got into running half marathons.  I loved the challenging myself and my body to new limits and the feeling of accomplishment when you reached the finish line.  Oddly, I loved the mental growth that was gained from pushing myself to new limits.

After 23 years, I was pounding out 5 miles a day, 7 days a week, and found myself longing to try something new.

That’s when I met my new love….CrossFit.

A friend of mine invited me to try a free class and I was hooked from the first countdown.  For those of you that don’t know what CrossFit is, it’s Olympic lifting, gymnastics, strength, conditioning, and cardio all crammed into an hour of intense craziness.  You show up every class to a programmed workout where you push yourself to your limits physically and mentally, tearing through internal barriers and rebuilding a newer, better version of yourself.   You walk away each day dripping in sweat, gasping for air, and feeling pushed to your limits.  You also leave counting down the hours until your next WOD.

Now I know you’re thinking.  It’s a gym.  You lift things and workout.  You can get that anywhere.  Yes, you can, but what you also get at a CrossFit gym that you don’t get other places is a community of support, encouragement, and friendship.  Everyone in the gym is pushing themselves to their limits while cheering each other along as well.  CrossFit really is a community.  When a workout ends and the bodies hit the floor, they then all get up and congratulate each other.  They offer sweaty hugs and chalky fists for jobs well done.  They ring bells and send up cheers when new personal records are met.  They offer kind ears and words of encouragement when needed too.

When I joined my CrossFit gym, I not only found new muscles and levels of pain and exhaustion, I found a whole new group of friends.  I mean who wouldn’t want to be friends with these crazy fools!

They are even so awesome, they sent me ‘Miss You’ photos when I was out-of-town!

Since I stared CrossFit, I’ve been growing and changing as a person.  I’ve been accomplishing things I never dreamed I would.  I’ve been feeling stronger and better, both physically and mentally, than I have in years.  I’ve been feeling not 41.  Then this last week happened.  My body betrayed me and a new level of sadness and fear set in.

Many, many, many years ago (we are talking in the 90s) I had reconstructive knee surgery and had 3 screws put in my knee.  It’s hasn’t been much of a factor since then and it certainly hasn’t limited my activities…until now.

A week and a half ago, I started feeling some sharp stabbing pain.  I figured I could just work through it.  I rested a little.  It started to feel better.  I thought it was nothing.  Seven days in, the pain returned stronger this time with swelling.  I woke up Friday unable to walk on it normally or bend it.

Silly me, I actually looked at the WOD that morning and was thinking about hobbling in and trying to do part of it.  Instead, I went to the Ortho doc who fixed me up years ago to have it looked at.  He drained the fluid off my knee, gave me a cortisone shot, and then gave me some devastating news.  Doc said that I have the beginning of arthritis in my left knee, where the screws are, and that I can no longer run.  Blow. To. The. Heart.  Full disclosure, I did go home and cry.  I’ve always considered myself a runner and to think I can NEVER do that again was devastating.  Even though I’m at CrossFit five days a week, I still love going out on my off days and pounding out some miles.  And that’s the problem.  All that pounding has done a number on my knees.  After digesting that information, I quickly started explaining my CrossFit regimen and held my breath.

Luckily, the answer was music to me ears.  As long as I stop running and watching the jumping, I can keep beating my body to exhaustion and pushing myself to my breaking point.  I can keep lifting heavy weights and climbing ropes.  I never wanted to jump off a table and hug someone so much in my whole life, but I’d just been banned from jumping, so Doc was safe.

So today I returned to the gym.  A little more cautious, a little more careful, but determined to keep on working, sweating, pushing, pulling and passing out.

I may have to hang up my running shoes, but could someone please hand me some chalk? 

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A moment in Tim

Well first and foremost I have to say…. I’m back!  To those of you who used to swing by here on a regular basis, I will apologize for disappearing on you.  It was never planned to disappear for that long.  One day I was writing and posting on the regular.  The next day life and moming and jobing and adulting got in the way.  And the words stopped coming.  I hope you’ll forgive my absence and visit again.  For those of you new to my Chaos, welcome!  I hope you like it and come back too!  Now, since the words have returned…so will I!

In the last year and a half, I have become a little bit of a CrossFit junkie. I decided after 20+ years of running that I needed to shake things up.  Seven days and over 30 miles a week just wears on you.  My treadmill was bored with me and I had run out of Netflix shows to watch.  That’s when I met my new love… CrossFit.  (My apologies to my hubby, but there is just something about throwing up heavy weights and climbing a rope that makes me swoon.  But that’s a blog for another day.)

In my world, workouts get down before the sun comes up. I love my family, but the only time I can get anything done without interruptions is to crank it out while they are dead to the world, so I am a solid up at 4:30 am at the box for 5 am class type of girl.

If you know anything about CrossFit, we are in the depths of The Open right now, a series of five grueling workouts that test you both physically and mentally.  A few days after the latest WOD, I woke up at 2:45 with tremendous, shooting back pain.  No combination of pillows or body contortions would make it stop so I could return to dreamland.  After 30 minutes of trying, I gave up and got on my workout clothes.  (You know, that activewear many just wear to actively get coffee and have their nails done.  I make mine earn its name.)  I had planned to pick up some groceries after class, but decided, since I was already up, I may as well hit the store first.

You know what Wal-Mart is like at 3:30 am…glorious.  Sure, there are employees in the aisles stocking shelves and palettes to dodge, but you now what wasn’t there…other shoppers.  It was phenomenal! I was able to navigate the whole store, get all the household items and a week’s worth of grocery for four (I have a 14-year-old boy, so it was more like groceries for 6), and hit the checkout in under 30 minutes.

And that’s where I met him.

You know what happens when there are no shoppers at Wal-Mart?  There are no checkouts open, so me and my overflowing grocery cart saddled up to the self-check out station and got to work.  Before I had even scanned the first item, the security guard walked over to me with a second shopping cart.

“Hi!  Good Morning!  Here, this will make it easier to you.  You can just put the full ones in it.”  

After wheeling me over the cart, he leaned up against the wall next to me and started talking.  At first it was the usual, the gorgeous weather we just had, hopes it would stick around permanently, fear we would get still one more snow storm before spring really arrived.  Polite small talk.  Nice.  Friendly.  Then he started talking about a meal he had recently with his mom and brother.  He lives with his mom.  His washer recently broke.  He didn’t have the money to buy a new one, so his mom found a place that sells used appliances and helped him purchase one.  He said it had actually broken weeks before he told his mom, but he didn’t want to upset her with the news, so he’d been washing his clothes in the sink for a while now.  

He has an uncle who has a vacation house and a boat.  Boat upkeep is expensive!  He wished he had enough money to be able to have a boat.  But his uncle is a very nice man.  Invites them over and helps him out.  The kind of guy who would keep giving you the shirt off his back time after time, no questions asked. 

They struggle, but they get by.  Tim’s dad was supposed to leave him and his brother some land and inheritance in his will, but he changed it right before he died and left everything to his step mom.  He looked hurt.  His dad wasn’t a nice guy.  We was a jerk (not the words he used, but I cleaned it up for you.) Oh well, that’s how things go I guess.

He shared about a visit with his dad from a while back.  His dad was starting to say something derogatory towards a person of color that was nearby.  He stopped his dad, told him you can’t say that.  That’s not ok.  His dad attempted to belittle him for not ‘manning up.’  I’m not that type of person.  I don’t feel that way about others.  People are people.  We’re all here together.  

I finished up the last of my items and headed out.  I thanked him for the talk and wished him a good day.

“What’s your name?” 

“Kerry”

“Hey Kerry.  I’m Tim.  Have a great day!” 

Tim stopped time.  Tim slowed me down.  Tim was kind.  Tim was honest.  Tim was open.  We could all learn a lot from Tim.  I know I did.

Gobble, gobble

People are constantly complaining about how Christmas is crowding other holidays out.

“Turkey before tinsel!”

“It’s too soon!”

“One holiday at a time.”

I believe I have stumbled upon the reason for this increasing encroachment of sleigh bells into your cranberry time……

Lack of ascetically pleasing Thanksgiving decoration in the marketplace.

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I rest my case.

Tuesdays will never be the same

Tuesday.  One day removed from dreaded Monday.  Not quite close enough to the weekend to really start celebrating.

Most Tuesdays are spent racing home from work, barreling through homework, and driving the taxi like a mad woman, all with the goal for getting into my jammies and onto the couch.

This week….Tuesday was….. a little different.

When the time rolled around to plan this month’s Girl’s Night Out, our friend Tina was lucky enough to stubble upon a flier for a traveling artist performance group that would be in a city close to ours.  Even though we had planned to catch a boring old movie later in the month, we decided it was a much better idea to support the arts and the art community as a whole.  After all, arts are important!

This month’s GNO is proudly brought to you by…

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Chip

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Dale

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(I don’t know if those were their real names.  But, let’s be honest, I don’t really care what their names are.)

For our purposes, we will call them all eye candy.

Greased-up, buffed-up, beefcake eye candy that, for a measly $10, would gladly allowed anyone in the screaming audience to saunter up on stage and enjoy a not so private moment on the public stage.  (And before you ask, No…Hell no!)

Some ladies were just dying to let loose.

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Some were shocked and embarrassed.

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But there’s always those few in the crowd who you would least expect who turn out to be the craziest ones around.

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No seriously.  This lady took off her shirt IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BAR!  (You can stop playing all sweet and innocent.  The jig is up!)

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Grandmas are officially ruined for me, but then again, so are Tuesdays.

At least I know I’m loved

My kids go to Catholic School.  Every year they have a volunteer mass where they honor all the parents, neighbors, parishioner, and others who have volunteered during the school year.  Since I’m always at work during their weekly masses, I usually try to make it the volunteer mass each year.  A few weeks ago, I put in my sheet for the time off to attend today’s event.

As it just so happens, today is also my mom’s birthday.  Today she’s (29×2) + 3.  (My mom insists on staying 29, so the rest of us comply with her wishes….sort of.)

As we were all running around this morning getting ready, Paige called my mom to wish her a happy birthday, then we jetted off to school.  Just as mass was starting, my phone began vibrating.  I looked at it and noticed it was work.  Someone must have seen my office was empty, but didn’t talk to the main office to see that I was coming in late.  Oh well, I’ll return the call after mass.

Then a few minutes later, it goes off again.

Then another call.  This time from a different co-worker.

I know I turned in my paperwork, I hope there’s not an emergency at work.

Then IP‘s phone starts ringing.

A few more minutes later, I get a call from my mom.

Then another on my phone from work.

Then one from my mom’s cell phone.

Oh crap, there’s an emergency all right, but it’s not at work, its me.

Our father, hallelujah, stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight!   Please say Mass has ended, so I can go in peace to love and serve the Lord and calm the nerves of my loved ones.

When I step outside to start returning calls, luckily, I’m greeted with endless laughter as I find out the extent to which the Finding Kerry saga reached.

When I didn’t arrive at work, they were worried.  I’m always on time, heck usually early, but no panic yet.  When I wasn’t there after 30 minutes, the calls started.  After not reaching me on my cell or at home, then not reaching IP, they called my mom.

“We don’t want to alarm you, but Kerry didn’t arrive at work today.  She didn’t call.  It’s not like her.”

“Well, I talked to Paige this morning and heard Kerry in the background.  Let me make a few calls.”

Mom decided her best first move was to call the kid’s school.  If they had been dropped off, she could start her search between there and my work.  If they weren’t at school, then she would make a B-line to my house.  Quick to action and ready to roll.  I think mom may have missed her calling by not becoming a detective.

She called the school.  “Um, this is going to sound like a weird question, but, I’m Paige and Trystan‘s grandma.  We can’t find their mom.  Were the kids dropped off at school?”

“Yep, they’re here.  Let me get the Principal for you.”

The Principal, in her infinite wisdom, scanned the pews at Mass before coming to the phone.

“Hi.  She’ in church.”

Praise the Lord!  I had been found.

Aw shucks….I might have looked good on a milk carton.

Meanwhile, back at the bat cave, um, I mean my work, they were feverishly digging through the paperwork, hoping to find proof that I wasn’t supposed to be there.  Eureka!  I’ve found it!  Kerry, 4/25, out 8-10 am at kid’s Mass.  Then my director asked the key question….”Did I sign the sheet?”  “Yes, yes you did.”

When mom called my work back to give them the good news, they relayed to her the mix-up with the paperwork and apologized for the near heart-attack they offered her as a birthday present.

I arrived at work to cheers, applause, and hugs.  The prodigal co-worker that was once lost, had been found.

Some times you walk through life not knowing if others around you really care, if you’re actually seen, if you’d really be missed.  Today I learned how kind, loving, and caring my friends at work truly are.  I’m proud to say that you have given me my Sally Field moment…

You like me, you really like me!

And I love you all!

 

 

 

 

There is no second place

Kicking back on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, eating take-out Chinese, watching the latest Red Box release.  This is a typical Saturday evening in many a household.  Well not in the Soby household!

Our evening was spent at the St Joan of Arc 2nd Annual Dodgeball Tournament.  What, you’re kid’s school doesn’t hold an annual tournament where all the kids sit ideally by in the stands while their parents team up, trash talk, whip balls at each other?  Maybe you need a new school.

Last year, our team had a dismal showing.  Despite the mental prepping and enough bulletin board material released from my husband’s mouth to fill an NFL locker room, we lost both our matches and were quickly out of the tourney.  We came back bitter and hungry this year.

Now, the first step to a successful dodgeball showing, is the costume, um uniform.  A quick trip to Target, and we were ready to make our grand appearance. What do you think?

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I think the game faces really top it of!

Don’t let all the outfits and scowls fool you, I’m really not that strong of a player.  But the game is called dodgeball, so that is what I do.  With a three-minute match where the team with the most players at the buzzer wins the point, running around the court, dodging the balls to keep your team up in numbers is an effective strategy, one that Kara and I have mastered!

Johanna, Kara, and Me

Johanna, Kara, and Me

Time to get this party started!

Brian, Kara, Paulie, Eric, Johanna, and the infamous Peter

Brian, Kara, Paulie, Eric, Johanna, and the infamous Peter

We started out strong, winning our first match in the best of 5, double elimination contest, thanks in part to a round ending dodgeball catch by Johanna to win a crucial point.  That chic has mad skills, she’s my idol!  Match two pitted us against the defending champions from last year.  We lost a heart breaking round 2-3 and were relegated to the loser’s bracket.  Next up was a match against a scrappy crew who, despite their quick hands and good aim, were growing winded and two of their heavy hitters were hobbled.  Johanna to the rescue again.  At the beginning of round three, she announced, “I’ve got sweatpants!” and quickly took out their leader.  Winning that match placed up back against the defending champs in the Championship match.  Since they hadn’t lost yet (those #*&$@^ #*&$^#@!), we had to beat them twice if we wanted them dethroned.  Game on!

Back off ladies....He's all mine!

Back off ladies….He’s all mine!

Totally Sweet!…. And totally deadly with a dodgeball.  He won a one-on-one sudden death match point against our greatest foe in round one of the finals.  Then a little girl in the stands pointed to him and shouted, “Hey, I have that same shirt!”  I hope her parents have enough money to pay for her therapy…..and go home and burn her shirt.

A 3-1 win for us gave them their first loss, and set the stage for the final match.  We took a quick 2-0 lead heading into game three.  Game three began and, before I could blink, my worst fear came true, my whole team was out, sans me, and I was staring at 5 opponents on the opposite side, all holding balls, all pissed they were on the brink of defeat.  Despite my best efforts, and taking out their heavy hitter with one of my pathetic throws, (Sorry, Kevin, but taking you out made my evening complete!) we lost that point.  Point 4 went to them as well, setting up a 2-2 final match for all the marbles.

Twelve adults, 6 balls and 3 minutes to glory.  It was a grueling back and forth.  Great shots, heartbreaking hits, hard falls, and unbelievable catches.  As the final buzzer sounded, three, winded, sweaty, and bruised teammates of mine stood staring at their lowly two.  VICTORY WAS OURS!

Johanna, Brian, Paulie, Kara, Peter, Me, Eric, and Ann

Johanna, Brian, Paulie, Kara, Peter, Me, Eric, and Ann

From first out last year to holding the crown this year!!!  We did it!!!!  We won!!!!

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Now where’s the Tylenol?

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Live while we’re young

As I’ve mentioned before, every month I go on a Girls Night Out with an incredible group of girls.  We all met over 20 years ago (that just made me feel old) back in our high school days.  Depending on the season or whatever mood strikes us, we try different and fun things on our evenings on the town.  Last night, Tina did the picking and we attempted to relive our youth by going ice skating.

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I like ice skating, of course, I would though.  I used to LOVE roller skating back in the day.  I would show up at Skateland, a local middle school hang out, before the doors opened, skates in hand, anxious to try to be the first one on the rink.  In those days, I used to try to stay on the rink all night, no breaks, never missing a song.  The real challenge came when it was time for the couples skate.  I was not much of a dater back then, so I never to go-to guy to guarantee myself a partner.  In the sixth grade, I accepted an ill-fated roll around the rink from Doug Hagemen and ended up with a broken wrist.  It wasn’t his fault someone fell behind me while I was backwards skating, but I never missed a chance to rub it in all through high school.  Anywho, ice skaing, to me, is just roller skating with your coat on, so I was all for it.

When we arrived at the rink, I felt like I was both reliving my youth….and ancient at the same time.  One this crisp January night, the rink was packed with 12 to 15 year olds, each trying to look cooler than the next.  The only other adults at the rink consisted of  a few random parents who, by the looks on their faces, had drawn the short straw and been forced stayed to supervise their children.  Most of the kids stood huddled in the center of the rink, attempting to make a dance floor on the ice, while staying upright on their skates.  The man who looked like he was having the least fun of the evening, was the police officer assigned to rink duty that night.  I don’t know if they covered “shooing a skate-less teenager off the ice rink” in the academy, but he was really good at it and called in repeatedly to perform this task.

Now me, I am not one of these “sit on the sidelines of life” type of people.  I’m only here once, so I’m going to go out and have a good time of it.  I don’t care if I embarrass myself or anyone else in the process.  I don’t know these people, and if I did, so what?  Plus, I work with owly, grumpy teenagers, I’m not scared off by their scowls.

So I did what I all those other parents should have, I jumped on that ice and OWNED it.  I skated.  I danced to the music.  I sang and made a fool of myself.

Gangnam Style anyone?

Who doesn’t want to live like we’re young?

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