Thursday, September 10, 2009

what's in you wednesday

Within the past seven days, I have walked more than 20 miles, despite my still-purple-from-the marathon-toenails, which I might need to have surgically removed. (Unless, someone has experienced this before and can tell me how long it will take for the purpleness to go away?)

In addition to walking to and from the store several times, I have been taking walks with my fellow MTM Walkers for Knockers teammate and neighbor, Debbie.

Yesterday we went for a walk just before dinner. Since our walk would coincide with what Charlie and I have dubbed "Witching Hour" at our house, I thought it might make things easier for my husband if I took a few of the children with me. And seeing as Henry and Elizabeth were causing the most trouble at that very moment in time, I loaded the two of them in to our beloved double BOB stroller and we set off.

For the next hour, all was calm. The children slept, Debbie and I got in a rigorous walk, and we traded stories along the way.

Immediately after Debbie and I said our goodbyes, I began walking back to our house. To get home, I needed to push my double stroller across one of the busiest streets in our neighborhood. Because it was early evening, the road was especially busy. There were several soccer games going on in a nearby park and people were hustling home from work.

I eased the stroller off the sidewalk and stood between two parallel parked cars, waiting for an opportunity to cross the street. Slowly, I began to step out in to the road, while leaning over the top of the stroller, so I could have a better view of the oncoming traffic. Just then, a silver car that I had seen approaching, zoomed past at approximately 40 miles per hour. The front tire of the BOB was probably five feet from the car when it went by, but the speed of it's passing shook the whole stroller.

Although the kids were unscathed, I was overcome with the most sickening feeling I have ever experienced. Or at least, the most sickening feeling I can recall.

In my mind, I could vividly see that the car clipped the front of the stroller. I could feel the handlebar get pulled from my grip as it catapulted through the air. My breath was sucked out of my body and my stomach fell to my feet. I looked up to see Debbie walking home, a solid 100 feet away, and I imagined that if the car had struck the stroller, it would have sent it flying at least that far.

I imagined the wreckage.

The aftermath.

I imagined myself screaming.

All day today, I have been haunted by the grisly "what-if" image. All day today, I have grabbed my children and hugged them. They don't understand why I am covering them in kisses and uttering thoughts about never leaving the house, again. They don't understand why I sat looking at them during breakfast, with tears in my eyes.

The truth is: we weren't hit.

But the mind can play some cruel tricks.

Like on Sunday when we went to church, and two men who were covered in tattoos and looked like they belonged in a gang, sat in our row. Now before the hate mail begins, I must say that I do my absolute best to not categorize any one based solely on their appearance. On more than one occasion, I have met people who dress the part of upstanding citizen - only to discover they are the biggest jerks around. Likewise, people who look ferocious, with body piercings and tattoos, come to find out, are the gentlest souls on earth.

But when the two men walked past me in church, and I could smell the alcohol on their breaths, and noticed that they wouldn't make eye contact, I felt a tinge of fear. Throughout the service, I kept trying to convince myself that after a long night of partying, these men had been led to church by a higher power and their spirits were receiving the nourishment they needed.

At the conclusion of the service, when it was obvious they weren't intending to take the whole congregation hostage, I felt even more convinced that God had guided them there.

Later, when Charlie and I were talking about the service, he confided in me that he was concerned the men had come to church as part of a gang initiation. Maybe they needed to shoot up a congregation of Christians? Or perhaps they were taking part in some terrorist plot?

What I hadn't realized, up until that point, was that while I sat in church - slightly concerned that the men might have ulterior motives - my husband was on the same wavelength. He had pegged them as bad and had already formulated how he would respond if they suddenly pulled out guns.

He would start yelling, "HIT THE DECK! HIT THE DECK!" and throw me to the ground on his left. Then he would launch off the chair next to him, and hit the first gunman. By then, the four strong-looking men that he had identified sitting behind us - and three additional men sitting in front of us - would hopefully be aware of what was going on and be in the process of mobilizing to take out the second guy.

Charlie looks like such a gentle man.

I'll bet no one would ever suspect he could kill a thug with his thumb.

Today, William has been under the weather. He hasn't eaten very much and is complaining that his tummy hurts. Charlie thinks that he looks ashen. I think that he probably picked up a bug somewhere and it's nothing serious. But once again, my mind plays cruel tricks.

What if it IS something serious?

Just the thought that my son's temporary loss of appetite might signal something more severe, causes my breath to be sucked out of my body and my stomach to fall to my feet. Now, I don't mean for my mind to be filled with dark imaginings. But after having lost so many good people to cancer over the past few years, the fears find a way.

I try to trust and have faith. I try to imagine good health and happiness. I try to imagine that Charlie and I will live to a ripe old age and our children will, too. But I know, all too well, that sometimes life doesn't work out the way you want it to. I know that people are hit by cars - gunmen appear in the most unlikely places - and illnesses strike without warning.

I know that the future is uncertain. I know that thinking about the worst thing that can happen and adjusting your behavior accordingly, is your best bet for staying safe. I know that advances are being made, every day, to combat many of the diseases that plague humanity.

And however small my contribution, I am so proud to be part of that effort.

Over the past week, my teammates have raised almost $4,000.00 for breast cancer research, education and treatment. And Debbie, who in addition to spearheading the idea of lemonade stands around San Diego County (which will debut next weekend), has just launched the Pink Lemonade Project.

It's been several months since I've exercised consistently. But over the past week, I feel like I'm finding my rhythm again. And although I know that I won't always feel like I'm on top of my game, I feel empowered this week in both body and spirit.

What about you?


And also, which stroller do you think would generate more interest for a giveaway?

This one?

Or this one?


  1. First of all, I think we've all had thoughts like you...
    and, Second, I can't believe that I'll be needing that Duallie BOB Stroller soon! Would I be eligible even though we are friends? If I won the stroller, I would donate the cash you would spend back into the cause, because even though I look like a gang member, I'm a good person. LOL.

  2. Purple toe - 3 months at least.

    The stroller thing is a huge issue - is it a design fault that you push the most precious thing you have in front of you. Isn't it instinct to go first when you are leading the way.

  3. Ah, the fear of the "what if's." Those too grip me and play tricks on my mind. Luckily my husband does not have as many "what if" moments as I do, so he keeps me grounded. Although, when we both have a "what if" moment, reality and imaginations really set in. So glad you 3 are okay from your encounter crossing the street.
    p.s. - I think that double BOB would generate more interest. It certainly got my attention. :)

  4. I vote for the double stroller.

  5. Jen: Good luck with the lemonade project! While I am in no shape to walk 60 miles (maybe in a year or two - I'm working on it), I am participating at the Breast Cancer 3-Day in our area. I'll be volunteering time at the Gear Store. I did this bc I want to play a small part in such an awesome event and bc I was inspired by you to get off my ass and do something!

    Oh, and I like the first (single) stroller the best.

    Keep on keeping on,

  6. The double but that is mostly because I need a double.

  7. Can I tell you how oddly comforting it is to know that I'm not the only one who envisions the worst-case scenario, and then calculates an evasive-action plan to deal with that worst-case scenario in the event it should happen to come true?

    I blame it partly on my background as a military police K-9 handler; it's a common "cop" thing to do.

    I blame more of it on my anxious mother and my own inherent anxiety.

    Unlike you, however, my spouse very much does NOT share this quality with me. Quite the opposite. So consider yourself lucky.

    FWIW, the same people who think I'm a bit over-anxious are the ones who admit that I always react the fastest and most decisively in an emergency.

  8. Unfortunately, I can identify with your dark images. My mind goes scary places, too. When my twins were newborns, I had such a fear of falling down the stairs while carrying them - the images would flash in my head. The mind does play evil tricks. Know that you are not alone!

    As for my goals - I am proud to say that I'm doing the Nation's Triathlon THIS Sunday!!! Following you and your marathon training/running helped motivate me to do another triathlon. I'm not as well prepared as I would like, but I'm going to do it, and I'm going to FINISH. It will be my first race in 6 years, and first since my twins were born 16 months ago. I'm so excited!

    As for the stroller, as a twin mom, I'm partial to the duallie, but I know I'm biased (because I have one and LOVE IT!).


  9. Now I going to call my Mom and tell her how much I love her! Amazing post.

    As for the giveaway -- I'd be more interested in the single...but given your group, I'd totally understand if you go with the dualie.

    Good luck!!

  10. double stroller

  11. If you get a chance, read "The Work" by Byron Katie. It talks about changing your thoughts and I find it very helpful when my mind runs amok. I am surprised that you did not chase the speeding car or throw a tomato at it.

  12. My mind plays those same kinds of tricks on me... especially when the hubs works nightshifts. I have an escape route planned if anyone should ever break into my house while he's at work.... the sadder part??/ I've actually practiced it. Just to be sure.

  13. At least 3 months for the toe, if not 6-8. I think mine grew back after 5 months. Check with your doctor if you're really worried.

    I vote for the double stroller. You have my attention!

  14. I'm glad I'm not the only one who's mind does that!!

  15. I have twins so of course I vote for the double. Good for twins and stair step children so it had wide appeal.

    As for the dark thoughts...I will never forget the moment it really hit me that I was about to be outnumbered by my children. I was crossing a dark street early in the morning with my then 3 year old while still pregnant with the twins. As we were about to step into the street I pulled my 3 year old back a step thinking I needed to make HIM look both ways. That second of hesitation probably saved all our lives as a car with no headlights on sped down our residential street at a good 40mph. To this day I still have panic attacks over the problem of not having enough hands of mine to hold theirs. I can only imagine what you go through with 5 children.

  16. FIVE children?

    Ummm. Angie?

    Do you know something I don't know??

  17. Have you ever watched that movie Final Destination? You could have written that movie.

    I am over here getting disgustingly fat. I bake. I eat. I bake. I eat. I was jonesing so hard for O-Henry bars the other night, I melted peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave, mixed them up and hid in the bathroom and ate them so the kids wouldn't see me.

    I have a problem.

  18. OOH, definitely the duallie! It is SO hard to find a good double jogging or all-terrain stroller without spending an arm & a leg!

  19. You mean you don't count your husband as one of the children? ;) That was just a typo, sorry!

  20. I wish they had a lemonade stand near me.........we would be your best customers. :)

    You have motivated me to finally get off my behind and DO SOMETHING --- I started exercising yesterday. (after how many months of procratinating?)

    Did 2.5 miles in 36 minutes along with some abs/stretching; kicked my butt but felt invigorating! So sore today, but got out there again -- 35 minutes today on the same route. I can do this; I can do this!!!!!