Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

My brother, Ben died of AIDS at the age of 33 in January 1993. I always think of him as a new year begins. He lived a lot in his 33 years. He traveled the world, experienced different cultures, biked, hiked, gardened, dabbled in photography and painting, enjoyed fine music, food, and drink, wrote beautiful essays and poetry, and made a huge impact on many people with his work with the Save the Children Foundation. He died knowing that he had really lived life and not just gone through the motions. He has been my biggest influence. Because of Ben, I hike in the mountains, ski on the trails, swim in the rivers and lakes, bike on the roads, and run through the woods. He gives me courage to live life as an adventure. He taught me that it is OK to make changes when things aren't working. He showed me that life is what you make it.

In 2008, I voluntarily gave up a well paying supervisory job and became a visiting nurse at the home care agency I work for and I gave up my second job at Maine Medical Center where I had worked for most of my adult life. I just made the decision to live with less money in exchange for a less stressful and demanding work life. I can look back on my last six months of rewarding and relatively stress free work and extra free time to pursue the things that matter and say without a doubt, it was the right decision.

I took an active role in getting over the foot and ankle injuries that had been plaguing me for more than two years and became determined to get healthy and fit. It just didn't feel right accepting that I couldn't run comfortably anymore, even though that is what several doctors had told me. I started trying every treatment I could find and working at getting better. I am running without pain now and feeling very fortunate to be able to do so.

I entered races. On very limited training I completed Massanutten, Nipmuck marathon, Pisgah 50K, Vermont 50m, and Bimbler's Bluff 50K . That was enough to wet my appetite and make me start asking if it might be possible to make some sort of a "come back" attempt. I am now training instead of just jogging, the difference being that I am now moving with purpose instead of just wandering. It feels pretty damned good!

I hiked many miles in the White Mountains alone and with friends, I skied on trails that were new and challenging to me, I biked up hills that made my quads ache and cramp, and I ran over trails both familiar and new. I tried new foods, I took up knitting, I finished a quilt I had been working on, I had a productive and fruitful vegetable garden, I committed myself to living greener, and I got a lot of projects done around the house.

Thanks, Ben.

I'll drink a Becks in Ben's honor tonight and silently make my annual New Year promise to make this next year really count.

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