It worked again today!

I’m becoming more and more convinced that all this positive thinking stuff works!

Here is today’s experience. I went to Yoga and for the last fifteen minutes, we lay on our mats, meditating. I breathe in white light and breathe out sparkles. The sparkles float into the air and tap into all the optimistic power of the Universe.

After yoga, I hauled my sweaty self home. (I never would have imagined yoga is a sweat-inducing business.) Bronson greeted me joyfully. After loving on him for a bit I went to the computer. Checked out Gmail. My only emails are from zulily, Chase Bank, and Capital One. When did people stop emailing? Then I snooped around CNN news and finally opened Facebook.

Lo and Behold my friend Judy sent me an FB link to best-selling author Judy Blume’s new Master Class. I adore Judy Blume.  One of my favorite books is The Pain and the Great One.

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All my positive thinking manifested a class offered by one of my favorite kids’ authors! See? There are no accidents.

I plunked down $90, gathered all my coloring equipment and planned to spend the afternoon coloring while at “school.”

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It turns out the class doesn’t begin until January. So I’ve put the pencils and coloring bookmark away.

Instead, I’ll sit on my broad backside and read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire. Jimmy bought it at Costco, but he’s still picking his way through Gone with the Wind, so I pilfered it. Jim reads very slowly which gives me plenty of time to finish. Recently I asked him, “Do you read every word?”  He replied, “Of course. What do you do? Skip every other one?”  Possibly.

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It really works!

I’m becoming more and more convinced that all this positive thinking stuff works!

Here is today’s experience. I went to Yoga and for the last fifteen minutes, we lay on our mats, meditating. I breathe in white light and breathe out sparkles. The sparkles float into the air and tap into all the optimistic power of the Universe.

After yoga, I hauled my sweaty self home. (I never would have imagined yoga is a sweat-inducing business.) Bronson greeted me joyfully. After loving on him for a bit I went to the computer. Checked out Gmail. My only emails are from zulily, Chase Bank, and Capital One. When did people stop emailing? Then I snooped around CNN news and finally opened Facebook.

Lo and Behold my friend Judy sent me an FB link to best-selling author Judy Blume’s new Master Class. I adore Judy Blume.  One of my favorite books is The Pain and the Great One.

20170928_134156

All my positive thinking manifested a class offered by one of my favorite kids’ authors! See? There are no accidents.

I plunked down $90, gathered all my coloring equipment and planned to spend the afternoon coloring while at “school.”

20170928_134250

It turns out the class doesn’t begin until January. So I’ve put the pencils and coloring bookmark away.

Instead, I’ll sit on my broad backside and read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire. Jimmy bought it at Costco, but he’s still picking his way through Gone with the Wind, so I pilfered it. Jim reads very slowly which gives me plenty of time to finish. Recently I asked him, “Do you read every word?”  He replied, “Of course. What do you do? Skip every other one?”  Possibly.

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Took the plunge and joined a writer’s group.

Last night, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., I attended a writer’s meet-up. That I went out at night, drove after dark with my myopic cataract-ridden eyes is evidence of how badly I want to learn this craft.

The event took place in the home of one of the writers,  BonSue.  She opens her house twice a month.  She provides elaborate beverages and snacks.  She served cake, deviled eggs, cheese, crackers, nuts. An entire outdoor refrigerator was stocked with beverages for the guests.

When the meeting began, we were all asked to talk about what we are writing.

I was one of the last to speak.  I felt intimidated when all I had to offer was my blog.  The others were working on sequels to already published works and first novels.  They all sounded so professional, knowledgeable, smarty-pants fancy.

I decided to say, “I am a professional artist. I’ve always wanted to write.  In November I turned sixty-five and decided it was high time I learn how to.”  Then I mentioned the books I’ve been reading and the blog I’ve been writing.

There were eighteen aspiring writers, six of whom had the courage to read and be critiqued.  Reading one’s work must be a bit like dropping your pants in public.  The risk of humiliation abounds.

Each reader made a copy of the pages they intended to submit for critique.  BonSue set a timer for ten minutes, and the author began reading.  We poised pen over pages and jotted our editorial comments as they read their work.

Following the reading, we went around the room and shared our critiques.  I was a bit flat-footed since I didn’t have knowledge of the chapters preceding last night’s readings.

Here is what was submitted:

BonSue–A tightly organized, well-written mystery.  The two protagonists are twins. I like their names.  Justin Tyme and Summer Tyme.  They have a private personal language involving numerical system.  Interesting to note that one thing confusing the listeners was BonSue’s reference to a rocks glass.  Who doesn’t know what that means?  Apparently, I drink too much.

Name forgotten–A memoir about growing up in an abusive home circa 1960. Very well done and compelling.

Another man, the name also forgotten–Sci-Fi.  I have trouble getting into Sci-Fi but learned last evening that it is a timeless genre.  Like vampires.

Don?–a Gothic historical novel placed in 17th Century Wales.  He described a river with such detail it became a character. I liked his stuff. There were suggestions he shorten some of the descriptive passages.

The critiques were gentle and constructive.

BonSue is moving to Belize.  I wonder if the Meet-up will continue?  I hope I’ll crank up the courage to read in front of the group. However, I have no idea what story I have to tell that’s interesting enough to find an audience.  No matter.  It will all fall into place if I plant my ass in the chair and keep on keepin’ on.

For now, I want to journal about my favorite foods.  Bacon is second on the list.  Just after cream cheese and before brownies.

Great discounts for being sixty-five. Who knew?

Being sixty-five is good because I now get Medicare, who doesn’t like to save at the Doctors office?
Geriatric stuff will soon be advertised on my old people’s blog —Stuff like Cialis. I love that name “Cialis”.   cialis
In my brain, I spell it “See Alice.” tee hee.

Here is a list of great stuff for us oldies.

Discounted Memberships, Travel, Entertainment, and More: Numerous clubs, retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and other organizations that begin their discount programs at 65 years old. Here is a very short list of a few.
· Boston Market offers 10% off
I love Boston Market, particularly their chicken salad.   Boston market

· Taco Bell offers 5% off and/or a free beverage  taco bell

· Rite Aid offers a 25% discount on the first Wednesday of each month I don’t think we have Rite Aid here in Q-tip country. (We Floridians are called Q-tips because to the drivers behind us we look like little fluffy white blobs, our heads barely above the head rest.)

· Alaska Airlines offer 10% off

· American Airlines offers several discounts

· InterContinental Hotels Group offers various discounts

· Southwest Airlines offers many discounts

· United Airlines offers numerous discounts
(I had no idea! We always fly United. Hopefully, the discounts include terrific things like money and sparkly stuff.)

· U.S. Airways offers varied discounts

The next few are blah blah blah saving…..If they help you, yay you…As for me, shrug and fuggedaboutit.· Carmike Cinemas offers 35% off

· AT&T offers their special Senior Nation 200 Plan for $29.99 a month

· Verizon Wireless offers their Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan for $29.99 a month
· AARP Membership Discounts – Membership is only $16 a year and worth it for the discounts, you can get.

Okee Dokee all you big money advertising folk—time to find my blog and make me rich and famous. I know you will. It’s just a matter of time.

Marijuana and Me

I was an art major in the early 70s. Everyone in my circle smoked pot so I did too.  We’d get together, roll joints and get stupid high.  My joints were always loose sloppy blobs. I never developed the art of rolling a nice neat hard one.  One night I got high with fellow art major Dale.  He and I spent an entire evening at the U of D drawing studio, writing inane non-sensical notes backwards on the wall. They were hilarious when we were a mess. The next day not so much.  Dale was married with a kid. I wonder if his wife knew he was getting stoned with a fellow student?

I gave my roommate, Terry, a plexiglas bong for her birthday.  If you’ve never used a bong I’ll do my best to describe smoking from one.  You put the pot in the little bowl attached to the “stem”, put your lips on the inside of the mouthpiece, light the bowl, and place your thumb over a hole in the cylinder across from the stem. Inhale deeply so the cylinder fills with smoke, remove your thumb as you’re inhaling and the smoke zooms into your mouth, lungs, and moments later blows the top of your head into outer space.  Your brain matter spatters all the way from Earth to Pluto.

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Terry’s father found her bong. Terry told him it was an art project I’d done in my sculpture class.  He didn’t buy it.  Her bong and weed were promptly confiscated.

I once asked my father if he would ever try pot, a question I never would have tossed to Mother.  She would have freaked and begun telling me how if a person smokes pot they are immediately transported to a sleeping bag under a viaduct. Not Daddy.  He quietly reflected on my query, then calmly replied, “No. I probably already have enough vices.”  That memory still makes me smile.  No hysterics for Daddy.

Here’s the thing, I got high but I never really liked it.  It made me paranoid.  I’d cackle extremely loudly then suddenly stop and think, “All the other laughers are laughing at not with me.  They think I’m a fool.”

My memories of being stoned are mostly of driving really slowly, eating mountains of food, giggling uncontrollably, then getting crazed that everyone was mocking me.

After college I can only remember one pot smoking incident.  It was at Terry’s house with Bab’s. The drive to Terry’s home took Bab’s and I about twenty minutes. The return trip was twice as long, us crawling along the right hand lane at possibly fifteen miles an hour.

Fast forward to 2014.  After pot became legal in Colorado Jim and visited my sister Marilyn’s home in Breckinridge.  She and my brother-in-law, Rob, remodeled a little old miner’s shack right down town within walking distance to shops and ski-lifts.  It’s gorgeous.  Marilyn is a gifted at remodeling.  They rent it on Airbnb. Check it out by googling Plum Cottage Breckenridge Colorado.

 The weekend M and R loaned us the house there was a summer street festival.  The air along Main Street was perfumed with clouds of pot drifting on the breeze.  I was transported to the early 70’s and all the illegal pot I’d smoked.  Now it was truly legal.  I turned to Jim and impulsively declared, “I have to go to the pot store.  History is being made here, and I want to be a part of it.”  A lot of my life is ruled by impulse.  Thank goodness I’m married to a man who knows how to slow down, consider, think.  I’ve rarely thunk.

Jim didn’t look too comfortable with the notion, but as always he let me be me.

The pot shop, named The Cannabis Club, was easy to find–it had a line circling the building. I got into the queue, waited my turn, and eventually entered a wee teeny store filled with large lidded apothecary glass jars. Each container was brimming with marijuana and bore a label stating the effects to be expected by smoking that particular type.

Plus there were edibles.  Little gummy bears shaped like cannabis leaves, breath sprays, cookies, chocolate bars, muffins.  I talked to a clerk and explained my past paranoia issues. He suggested a tiny “Hershey” bar about three inches long.

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I made my purchase along with a mandatory seven dollar zip lock bag to tote it in. The shop guy recommended only eating a quarter of the candy bar at first.

When we got back to Plum Cottage I unzipped the bag, ripped off the candy wrapper and broke off twenty-five percent of the bar.  Half an hour later I didn’t feel a thing, so down went another quarter.

Ultimately I gobbled up the entire candy bar.  Then the effect slammed me.  I was nearly catatonic.  The next morning I was still ruined.  I stumbled around Breckinridge in a fog, believing everyone on every street was making fun of me.

Believe me, in the unlikely event I do it again I’ll pace myself better.

A little internet research has taught me the body reacts differently to edibles. The Martha Stewart of Edibles , Laurie Wolf, has shops in Oregon.  She had a big write-up in the New Yorker. She is some sort of cannabis rock star.  When Laurie heard a similar tale from a naive edible consumer she was horrified. Her products all state exactly the amount of THC in each one.  You supposedly control the madness by doling out appropriate amounts.  Don’t these look yummy?  I wonder if they are gluten-free? I wonder if there is cannabis cream cheese?

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Today I dug The Cannabis Club receipt out of my Moleskine journal.  Couldn’t find the candy wrapper.  I bet I was too messed up to think about saving it.  I notice the date is M and R’s wedding anniversary, September 12th.  FYI you two, the zip-lock bag is locked in your owner’s closet.  It’s your anniversary gift.  Go forth and get stoned.

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Asleep at the Wheel

Today I slept until noon.  NOON?!  I was panic-stricken when I woke.  I have THINGS to do. Important things. World changing things.  Life altering amazing dazzling stuff to tackle.

They are as follows:

#1 Meditate

#2  Pen three pages in my composition book

#3  Write a blog post

#4  Take Bronson to the vet for flu shot

#5  Clean out the refrigerator.

I shared my angst with Jim. My gentle could-be-a-labrador-retriever laid back husband suggested maybe I’m sleeping late because I am relaxed.  Relaxed?  I never relax. Hammy, the hamster in my brain, won’t allow it.  She scurries on her wheel relentlessly all day and night.

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Is it possible Hammy was asleep at the wheel?  That’s twice now she has fallen asleep.  Yesterday I slept until eleven.  If this trend continues entire days will be lost, me nestled in the feathers until dinner time.

Okay, gotta’ triage. Which important thing to do first?  I am doing thing #1, blog post.  Thing #2 should be meditation.  I missed it yesterday due to Hammy sleeping at the wheel and a fun birthday party.  Item  #3 ought to be writing in my composition book.  #4 cannot be shunned.  Bdog needs the flu shot.  He’s going to school again.  The shot is mandated.

Oh Well….looks like I’m not gonna’ have time to clean the frig!  Yay for Hammy falling asleep at the wheel.  I don’t have to do that detested chore.

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Wait a  minute.  Who is that other hamster with Hammy?  Is it possible she has found love?  Oh No! Hamsters reproduce even more thoroughly than rabbits.  In weeks there may well be a whole litter of the little critters romping night and day on their wheels in my head.  I’d better enjoy Hammy’s sleepiness while it lasts.

 

The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Today is Saturday.  On the weekends I let other bloggers do my talking so I can sit on my wide backside and read books.  I like what this blogger had to say about Positive Thinking.  Enough outta’ me.  Time to go back to my current read “Bird by Bird.”

Positive thoughts are empowering. They make you feel good. Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done. Negative thoughts have a nasty habit of sinking their teeth into our brains and it can be challenging to fight them. Negative cycles It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. If you are unhappy […]

via The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary

In 2007, after my naughty black Lab Riley died, Jim and I made the decision to adopt another dog. This would be the first pet we chose together. I came to the marriage with Riley and Puck, the adorable but messy Cockatiel.  Jim brought Missy, the gray and white cat into the mix.

My sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Rob, had recently adopted a little black poodle named Marcel. They got him through the Colorado Prison System canine program. Dogs are placed with inmates for obedience training. Marcel was schooled in the women’s penitentiary. Marilyn and Rob didn’t hear that animal bark for nearly a year. Barking is extinguished in the prison by squirting the offender with a mixture of vinegar and water.

The program is amazing.  The animals live in crates with their inmate trainers.  Prison cells are small.  Beds of inmates training large dogs are raised high enough to accommodate crates underneath.  The animals go to class all morning long, in the afternoon they play and socialize with other dogs.

After learning about the program I immediately went to the CCI Colorado Prison Dog  website and began the process of falling in love with every dog on the list. Except for Chihuahuas. My high school friend Nora had a wee teeny evil ankle biting Chihuahua named Cha Cha. Getting past Cha Cha without being nipped was darn near impossible.

I ear-marked all the prison dogs as potential pets.   Jim fell for only one.  A small, sad-looking, slumped over brown lab mix named Bronson. We were told Bronson was rescued from an abusive situation. He was being trained in the men’s penitentiary by inmate Terrance. We coordinated with the program to meet Bronson, and secure my very first well-trained dog.

Very early one cold March morning we flew to Colorado. Marilyn, Rob, and Marcel met us at the airport and drove us to the parking lot outside the nearby women’s penitentiary.  Animals trained in the men’s penitentiary were brought there because the men’s prison is far from the airport.

We arrived to find scads of dogs and oceans of prospective owners.  Again, I fell for each and every animal.  Jim still had eyes only for Bronson.  However, another family was circling Bronson as their prospective pet.  My marvelous cunning sister sidled up to the mother and stated, “Oh my goodness!  It looks like your little boy is afraid of that dog.”  The mother, “What?  Really?  I didn’t notice….”  Marilyn, “Well you know your child better than I do.  But I’m pretty sure he is frightened by that animal.”

The family moved on to another dog, Serena.  Serena had the legs of a corgi, snout of a shepherd, body of a dachshund.  She sprouted long white stiff whiskers all over her chin.   Jim said she looked like a science experiment gone wrong.

We happily adopted Bronson.  After an animal was chosen the new owners were directed into the penitentiary.  We were ushered past concertina-wired fences, relinquished our belongings, and were led to an enormous chamber.  Seated in folding chairs we watched the dogs perform perfect obedience skills.

Before we left Bronson was bathed.  We then took him to a local veterinarian to certify his health.  Finally, after a long day, we were back to the airport.  Bronson, in a crate formerly used by M and R’s Aussie, was housed under the plane

Late that night we arrived at O’Hare.  We stumbled around baggage claim unable to find our sad little prison puppy.  When we finally located him, far from the area we were told to look, he was trembling and frothing at the mouth.  Poor puppy.  Ever since that experience Bronson loathes being cooped up.  Anywhere. At all.  Up to and including hotel rooms.  More on that in a future post.

Bronson is the light of our lives.  He and I play football daily.  I am quarterback and commentator. Bronson is the wide receiver.  Jim is the fan.  I whisper the play into Bronson’s floppy ear and toss the ball into our kitchen.  Bronson snatches the ball, races to the dining room, around the dining table.  If he zooms past the small green living room bench it’s a TOUCHDOWN!  Another run past the leopard upholstered dining chair and he gets the two point conversion.

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Yes, that’s me in the huge mirror.  No, I haven’t combed my hair.  No, I don’t have make-up on. Yes, I’m letting myself go.  So just shut up.

 

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One spin past that leopard chair, following a run around the green bench, and the kid scores two extra points.  He really is Super Bowl awesome.

He’s an old boy now.  He goes to bed early and sleeps late.  His breakfast is a concoction of bran cereal, kibble and psyllium husk powder.  Plus a bowl of ice water.  At five thirty each evening Jim takes him around the block while I fix his dinner–a repeat of breakfast.

About five doors down the street Jim calls me to let me know Bronson is on the way.  He then sends wonder dog to sprint home.  I open the front door and wait for him to rush by me straight to his dinner bowl and ice water.

This is our last dog.  I know we would forever compare others to Bronson.  We tell him he’s only four years old in hopes he believes and lives for decades.

It’s 9:15 in the morning. Bronson woke up long enough to do his morning business.  Then he toddled back to the bedroom where he and Jim are still deep in the feathers.

They are both good at retirement.

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Breathe and Believe

Every positive thinking tome I read assures me the New Reality I want, already exists.  My New Reality is to be a published author, making enough money to donate to a cause that has recently become dear to my heart.  I am to state my New Reality as if it is here, now, in the present tense.

I just finished meditating.  My recent mantra is, “Breathe and Believe.”  Upon opening my eyes I realized how many things in my life existed long before I realized they did.  The house I now live in, built in 1980’s, has been sitting here on its little patch of coarse Floridian grass since my children were in kindergarten.  My sweet husband existed, walking around on the planet, hurtling toward my life long before I was aware of him.

My New Reality, published author earning lots of cold hard cash, is out there–floating in my future, real, concrete, as solid as the walls of this house.  I simply have to breathe it, believe it, and take the steps necessary to attract it.

My current read, Laura Dey’s The Circle, includes a workbook.  Today’s exercise was to become aware of patterns in my life that do not serve me in my New Reality.  Each day I am to pick one pattern and replace it with a thought or action I consciously choose that supports my New Reality,  Everything I do is conscious and empowering.

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A habit I need to change:  I waste too much time looking at internet grack.  Checking if Kate Middleton is pregnant doesn’t support my New Reality.  Further, I don’t need to see Stephen Colbert’s monologue every morning or make myself nuts looking at the daily political bombshells.

In writing, I pledged not to play around on the internet until after 5 p.m.  I am, of course, allowed to write blog posts.  Those support my New Reality. As I wrote these things in my Circle workbook, I found myself on the edge of a panic attack.  I was mentally taken back to the day I finally quit smoking.

I was twenty-two years old.  I had been smoking since I was sixteen.  I smoked like I was being paid to do it.  Chain smoking, over three packs a day.  If I ran out of cigarettes I plundered the full ashtrays, finding butts that could be coaxed back to life for a moment or two.

I smoked while I put on my make-up.  I smoked while driving.  I smoked during meals.  I simply could not imagine how to function in the world without a burning stick of tobacco between my lips.

That’s the feeling I have at the prospect of limiting my internet addiction.  But this dependency doesn’t support my New Reality.   I vow to replace the internet habit with a new ritual.  Each time I’m tempted to click on Facebook, I will imagine a fresh idea for my blog.  Or say a gratitude prayer.  Or focus on the editor who is actually alive somewhere in this real world today. She is a living breathing reality.  Sitting at a desk, doing whatever editors do all day.  She is my friend.  (yes, I’m to state these things as if they are here and now.)

(Eeeek!  I just considered checking out youtube.  No Alice.  That is no longer your ritual. You can do this, Alice.  Just breathe and believe.)

The Circle

 

Walking a Marathon. A painful, enlightening experience. If you can endure a marathon, you can endure anything.

In the early 90’s three friends and I signed up to walk the Chicago Marathon. The only walkers permitted were required to fundraise for juvenile leukemia research.  I have referenced bits of this experience in my blog post of April, 04. Click here if interested.

Preparing for the marathon meant grueling months of walking mile after painful mile.  Three of us, Gray, Mo and I, would rise before the sun to begin trudging through our neighborhood.  The fourth walker, Carol, usually trained alone.  I asked her how she kept boredom at bay.   She said she recited the prayers repeated when praying the rosary.  I’m not Catholic, so I just looked up what is repeated doing rosary beads.  It seems there are enough entreaties to fill several marathon walks.

When we were training for the Marathon, I was suffering from anemia caused by undiagnosed celiac sprue.  Chronically exhausted, I wasn’t fit to walk a marathon.  Gray, one of the most forthright women I’ve ever known, stated firmly, “Alice if you aren’t able to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down and assist you.”

The night prior to the Marathon we stayed in the city.  We rose before dawn to begin walking. We marched the first few miles in the dark. Finally, the sun rose over Lake Michigan, gloriously painting the sky crimson, pink and orange.

Shortly thereafter a herd of gazelle-like runners thundered past us.  They had long, lean, muscled legs, minuscule butts, and rippling abs.  I turned to Gray and asked, “If we run, instead of walking, will we look like them?”  She laughed and replied, “Those are the elite runners.  Those athletes run in marathons all over the world.”

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Next passed a group of good runners.  They weren’t as sleek as gazelles, but they were strong, toned, comfortable with their pace.

We were overtaken by many levels of racers that day.  The good were followed by the mediocre.  Eventually, we were confronted with hopefuls vomiting into the gutters.  Taking on a marathon isn’t for sissies.

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The most inspiring runners weren’t runners at all.  They were the wheelchair division.  Men and women with withered legs, propelling themselves ever forward by the strength of their good arms.

We saw them on slight inclines.  The temptation was to help.  But helping would be to diminish them.  They needed to succeed on their own terms, with their own hearts, pushing through the misery, accomplishing it alone.

I so clearly remember one particular wheelchair “runner.”  He had two useless legs, one dwindled arm.  Yet he soldiered on.  He was the picture of courage, determined to push himself over the finish line.

I too needed to cross that finish line without assistance.  Nearing the last mile I remembered Gray’s words,  “Alice if you are unable to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down for you.” And suddenly I grew astonishing resolve.  I gathered my soul together and willed myself to cross the finish line inches before Gray.

I, like all Marathon finishers crossing the finish line, was wrapped in a sheet of mylar.  A medal was hung around my neck.

In agony, I hobbled to the curb.  There, on the same Chicago corner, draped with mylar, was the man with no legs and only one arm.   He had reached the finish line before I did.  I can picture his slumped shoulders, heaving with sobs.  He accomplished the impossible. With merely one withered arm and a heart full of belief, he crossed the Chicago Marathon finish line.

That withered man didn’t, on the surface, have the skill set to prevail. Yet he did. He did because he believed he could.  Anything can be accomplished if we have faith.

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