Sunrise Along the Appalachian Trail

Thanks for stopping by...

Hello There!

I'm not sure how you have happened upon my blog but I’m glad you did. I began blogging several years ago, although initially it was a private journal I kept just for myself. In time, however, I began to share my blog publicly, and now I have quite a few folks who check in with regularity. Perhaps you’ll become one of them!

So who am I? Well I have to tell you, I still haven’t quite figured that out. But I keep working on it. I just passed the half-century mark, and I'm hoping that I'll figure out just who I am someday soon. Maybe by the time I'm sixty?

I’ve had incredible life experiences at both ends of the spectrum, and I share a lot here--maybe too much sometimes. But I’m having a good time, so what the heck. And the focus of my blog for the coming months will be recording the details of the trip of a lifetime (for me anywy): a thru-hike of the 2,187-mile Appalachian Trail. Check in and if my adventures intrigue you, stick around.

I hope you enjoy! I give you my regards and wish you…

Happy Trails!

Fun in New Orleans

My best friend

Mom and Tami During our Alaskan Cruise

Flycatcher (Tessa), a good hiking buddy and real trooper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back---or Is It One Step Forward and Two Steps Back?

I confess that I am struggling today. I wish I could just move forward, and I certainly try, but it is so difficult sometimes. I have had so much loss in my life, and now a new loss.

Recent circumstances make me feel I "should" give up hope in ever meeting my granddaughter. It is so tempting to play the victim in these circumstances and tell you how wrong I feel this is and why, but that is to no avail, so I choose not to adopt such a negative role. Instead I will take deep breaths and practice Acceptance, as I learned at Brookhaven, and try to move forward without dwelling on the "if only's..." and "should's."  "Shoulds" and "If only's" only serve to torture us in the face of situations over which we have no control, bringing further anguish. I must accept the things I cannot change. Peyton has made her choice, for better or worse, and we must abide by it. She is Lyla's mother. But I must try not to give up hope entirely, even though it breaks my heart to cling to a hope I sometimes believe to be futile.

I must sow new gardens, literally and figuratively. "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow," said one of my all-time favorite actresses and one of the most beautiful women ever to walk the planet, Audrey Hepburn. For my literal garden, I went to a nursery yesterday and selected some of this year's plants: squash, straightneck and zucchini; bell peppers, California Wonder and Purple Beauty; cucumbers, Marketmore; tomatoes, Heirloom and Lemon Boy; mint: peppermint and grapefruit (sounded intriguing, supposedly makes a good herbal tea); and last and definitely least, okra. I don't like it but some in this household do, so I'll see how it goes. There are a few more plants I want to get: some big, beefy tomatoes such as Big Boy or similar, and some green beans. I feared I'd missed the ideal window of opportunity for planting a summer garden here in Central Texas (zone 8b), but when I went to the nursery yesterday I was assured that I still had time, so I'm giving it a shot. Summer gardening here can be brutal, with temperatures in the triple-digits, sometimes as high as 115. Often when it's too hot the plants won't set fruit, but I am choosing to be an optimist: I'll just plant my garden and hope for the best, for that is all I can do. (Well, I can help it along with weeding and fertilizing, but the rest is pretty much up to Mother Nature.)

As for my figurative garden, I must try to plant and maintain the seeds of hope, even when most everything seems futile. I will tend my garden as best I can with love, patience, kindness, and trust, even on the occasions when those things are not reciprocated. It is oh-so-hard sometimes, and I want to protect myself from further hurt by preemptively closing certain doors, but I know that is not the answer. I will try, against my better judgment, to remain hopeful, even though to take such an attitude leaves me extremely vulnerable to further hurt. The potential benefits far outweigh the risks, but my heart is so wounded after these past years that it is extremely tempting to build barriers against further wounds. But walls not only close off intruders, they close off friends and loved ones too, so I will try to remain as open to possibility as I can, even if I risk further hurt. I will simply take a deep breath and plunge forward, full speed ahead. I vow to remain "all in" on this journey called life.

I'm taking on a new challenge this weekend: my first half-marathon. This is one of my bucket-list items, and I look forward to it with a twinge of trepidation: I haven't trained quite as much as I should have, but damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! I fly to Nashville on Thursday morning, where I'll have the opportunity to spend time with a dear friend for several days, and she'll be there to cheer me on during the event, the Music City Marathon, which will take place on Saturday. She was going to run with me, but is unable to due to injury, but she'll still be my cheerleader. And I'll reward myself by going to Boot Country, purportedly the largest retailer of cowboy boots in the country. Otherwise, I really don't know much about Nashville, so if anyone has any advice about where to go or what to see or do, please leave a comment. And if any of my friends happen to be in the area, contact me! I'm there for several days; maybe we can get together!

Anyway, I'm likely off the computer for the next several days, so I wish you well and I'll update you upon my return. I'm off to work on accepting the things I cannot change for now...

Adieu. Happy Trails.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Today was a fresh new day after yesterday's day of sorrow. Don't get me wrong, yesterday was really, really nice, but it also marked the tenth month following the worst day of my life. It was the reminders everywhere I turned that made it so difficult. But at the same time, those same reminders of loss are also reminders of wonderfully sweet memories of days gone by: laughing, exuberant children coloring Easter eggs and admiring one anothers' handiwork; eagerly anticipating the Easter Bunny's arrival; racing outside and scrambling over one another during our annual Easter egg hunts; and just being together and enjoying one another and realizing that such occasions are the stuff that really count in life: quality time with those I love most.

Even though all of those folks have grown, whether up or simply older, and we don't anticipate the Easter Bunny's arrival anymore, the important stuff remains: love, affection, devotion, and gratitude for these incredible people I call my own. But we DO still dye eggs, and in fact the family has devised a competition for next year: an Easter egg decorating contest. We can submit ONE store-bought chicken egg, decorated in ANY fashion we choose. Winner gets a dollar from each contestant plus bragging rights for an entire year. This should be interesting because ours is one of the wackiest families on the planet! These likely won't be "pretty" eggs in the conventional sense; rather they will be punny, robotic, ironic, unexpected, inappropriate, exceedingly clever, or any and all of the above and more. I look forward to it.

I hope you and yours enjoyed your Easter weekend as well. I hope it's been filled with all the good stuff: love, laughter, fun, affection, and maybe even a chocolate bunny or two.

Special THANK YOU to Wendy and Lauren for watching our pooches for us while we were gone!!!!!! You two are so thoughtful!



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Missing My Loved Ones

Ten months ago today, my beautiful eldest son, Ethan Patrick Vanderwilt, departed this earth. The loss of my son shattered my world completely. My heart was (and always will be) still grieving for my beautiful grandson, and Ethan's death so soon after left me utterly devastated. I am only just now beginning to piece my world into a new semblance of order. I will never be the same; my world will never be the same. I miss Ethan and Aiden each and every day. I grieve them each and every day. But at the same time, I live in gratitude that I had those two beautiful beings in my life, however briefly. They filled my heart with love and gave me gifts innumerable just by their very existence. It was a privilege to raise my beautiful son, even when times with him grew rocky. I always had faith and hope that he would eventually gain a certain level of maturity and insight, and one day return to those who love him most. But something was broken in my son and he lost hope. Something has been broken in me, too, for a very long time. But I cling to hope. I won't let go, though I understand well the pain that drives one such as my son to do what he did. And Afghanistan probably left him with demons that none of us can fathom. I can only hope and---yes, pray---that he has found the peace he sought. I send him my love every day throughout the day. I do not know if it is possible for the deceased to feel the love we send to them, but I send it nonetheless. I send my love to Aiden and to all of those I have loved and lost, whether through death or circumstance, and I always hope with all of my heart that somehow they feel it. But even if they don't, I do. And I will hold onto my love until the day I take my own last breath and, who knows?...maybe beyond.

Life is beautiful and precious and filled with love, joy, magic, and possibility if only we look for those qualities. And that is how I choose to live part 2 of my life (because of course I am going to live vibrantly until at least age 102). Ethan and Aiden taught me that. And I will live in the hope that one day soon, I will have the opportunity to bestow my love on Ethan's beautiful daughter, who will be four months old in two days. I want to share so much of her father with her. I have so much love to give to Lyla, her sister Candyce, and their mother Peyton, if only her mama opens that door. I will hold on to that hope for the rest of my days.

I love you Ethan. I love you Aiden. I love you, my wonderful friends whose lives have diverged from mine. And I love you Lyla, even though we have not yet met, because you are my son's child, and you represent hope for the future.

Here are pictures of Ethan's final resting place, installed at last after nearly 10 months. When the epoxy has had a few weeks to cure, we will keep those vases filled with flowers and/or American flags. And I spend time with him every week, talking to him, lying on the grass with him, or sitting on the nearby bench and just remembering... beautiful boy...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Our Family is Growing...Again!

Yes, we have a new member of the Vanderwilt household. Her name is Casie and she came to us rather unexpectedly (we are foster failures, I guess), but we are smitten. And as soon as school lets out next month, she and Indy are going to go to Obedience class with Toby and me. 

Below is Toby with Indy less than nine months ago.
Here is Indy today. This fellow is only 9 months old!!!!!! He is not done growing yet, but he already weighs right at 100 pounds! (Wikipedia says the average male German shepherd dog is 66-88 pounds. I think we need to change his name to Hulk!)
The words of inspiration I'd like to share today are quotes about happiness, both of which come from the Dalai Lama XIV:

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” 


“The very purpose of our life is happiness, which is sustained by hope. We have no guarantee about the future, but we exist in the hope of something better. Hope means keeping going, thinking, ‘I can do this.’ It brings inner strength, self-confidence, the ability to do what you do honestly, truthfully and transparently. I appreciate your having already begun to help others.” 

I'm not sure what I believe as far as a Higher Power, but I do believe in hope, and sometimes when I think of a Higher Power, it is precisely in that capacity: Hope. That's what I believe in without a shred of doubt. And I get much of that feeling of hope from my fellow man. I am inspired by mankind. Beyond that? I don't know, and that's okay too.

Hope your Easter is filled with the love of your friends and family. May your hearts be filled.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happiness Is...Easter Eggs!

Yesterday’s post was a pretty heavy one for me to write, and I’ll bet it was a pretty heavy read, too, even though I didn’t share every gruesome detail. Earlier today, however, I took it down because I was having misgivings about sharing that much with everyone all at once. If you’ve been following me for any length of time you probably know most of it anyway, but I sure did put a lot out there in one big (potentially) TMI post. I didn’t mind that about 60+ people had seen it already, but I felt that for the time being I should revert it back to a draft while I ponder its value to others. My earnest intention is to help and inspire others, and if my story can facilitate that in any way then I’m happy to share every gruesome detail. I have since had several people tell me that they were inspired, and I even had my strongest critic offer his opinion (which was supportive), so I’ve decided to repost it. 

For today’s post I’d like to discuss lighter topics, such as happiness, hope and recovery. Oh, and Easter eggs.

First things first: Happiness. I wonder how many of you remember the ‘Happiness Is…’ posters from the 70’s? “Happiness is a Warm Hug”? “Happiness is a Soft Kitten”? “Peace, Love, Happiness”? “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”? Take a moment, right now, and create, in your mind, your own Happiness poster. Keep it simple. Don’t make it something huge, like “Happiness is World Peace.” And don’t make it something superficial, like “Happiness is a Big Bank Account.” Make it something real, something you can feel or experience now. Something small but significant. “Happiness is air in my lungs.” “Happiness is the healthy meal I just nourished my body with.” “Happiness is listening to my husband and son sitting at the table speaking Nerd to each other.” This is probably the single biggest change I have made in my life: attitude. How I look at things each and every day. In fact, before I even climb out of my bed each morning, I try to make a mental list of at least a few things I am grateful for, just simple things “Happiness is a warm dog named Tessa keeping my toes toasty.” “Happiness is the opportunity to test my body.” “Happiness is the love of my dear ones.” “Happiness is the sound of a Siamese cat mewing in the foyer in the middle of the night.” (Yes, because I can HEAR her! Would I prefer her timing to be different? Yes, but I can hear her and it makes me smile, just because she loves the sound of her own voice so much that she thinks everyone does, at any and all times.) “Happiness is a load of laundry, because it means I have clean, fresh, serviceable clothes to look forward to.” “Happiness is dirty dishes, because it means we are nourished.” Simple.  

It’s raining now. That might bring some people down, but we need it so desperately so I say, bring it on! Happiness is the much-needed rain hydrating our plants and animals! 

Happiness is everywhere; you just have to be open to it. It’s EASY to find things to get you down, but try to make a game of turning it around! Take traffic, for instance. No one likes traffic, of that we are all in agreement. So what to do? Sit in your car and fume about the damned traffic and how you’re going to be late getting home yet again and you spend XX-minutes (or even hours) a day in traffic and it makes your blood pressure rise because you are so frustrated and that as$%^&* just cut you off and…and….and… 

Or how about your bills? Yes, every month when you get that checkbook out you can begin your tirade about the cost of natural gas and electricity and how the utility companies are ripping you off every month and how we need to get off of our dependence on oil from the middle east and…and…and. 

Does it help? No. Does it change the situation? No. Traffic still sucks and bills still have to be paid. But you CAN change your attitude about it. “I am so grateful to have a job to go to every day so I can feed and clothe my family, and challenge my mind and/or body.” "I am so grateful that I live in a warm and comfortable home and that my basic needs are met.” Yeah, sure. You know all this. But do you do it? Do you REALLY do it? It makes a difference. It really does. Have an attitude of gratitude as much as you possibly can and it helps with all aspects of your life. (I don’t get mad at the doctor when I have to wait anymore. I anticipate it as reality, accept it, and tell myself, “Now I get to read this magazine article I might otherwise have missed.”) 

Yeah, it all sounds so Mary Sunshine, but it’s real. Trust me, I know. I’ve rebuilt my life around it. It’s part of the reason I have hope: my glass is half full, not half empty. I believe in the possibility of tomorrow, and the pain of yesterday is behind me. No I don’t want to become a walking cliché but some of those trite sayings are overused for a reason: they’re dead on. 

I’m going to recommend a book that I found extremely valuable while I was in therapy: Train Your Brain to Get Happy: The Simple Program That Primes Your Grey Cells for Joy, Optimism, and Serenity, by Teresa Aubele, PhD; Stan Wenck; and Susan Reynolds. (Amazon happens to be offering the Kindle version for FREE right now; I don’t think you need a Kindle, just the free Kindle app.) And believe me when I tell you that I am NOT one to buy into any new-age psychobabble B.S. I am a skeptic by nature and I believe in science, and this book has a lot of scientific research into proven techniques (such as the one I outlined previously) that can actually change the way you think IF put it into practice with diligence! You have to take an active role. It’s just like exercise: you can buy the treadmill but unless you step on, nothing’s gonna change!

 I’ve learned a great deal more than that these past several months and I’ll share it with you piecemeal. But today is just a taste of how a change in attitude can help. Such a simple concept but amazingly powerful! And not so simple to put into practice, but hey---that's the key word: PRACTICE!
Which brings me to yesterday’s post. The point I wanted to make is that I have had a rather difficult life, and I was once ready to simply throw it away. I have had a change of attitude, however, and that has made all the difference. It didn’t just happen, though: I had to work on it, and work on it with diligence! And I continue to work on it each and every day, each and every moment! I don’t know if sharing my past makes my transformation more powerful or not; I'm hoping it does, so I'm sharing.  

Okay, so I’ve touched on happiness, hope, and some of my recovery. Now about those Easter-eggs:
This is easy. Perfect hard-cooked eggs every single time. Bring your eggs to room temperature (about an hour on the counter should do it), then steam them for 20 minutes. Plunge in a cold-water bath. Done. Perfect every time! I NEVER boil my eggs anymore. Just bring a pot of water to a rolling boil then put a colander or something above the water to get the eggs up and out of direct contact with the water. Steam them above the rolling boil for twenty minutes then plunge them in ice-water. The shells will never, ever stick and you don't need any fancy gadgetry. Couldn't be easier or better! And tomorrow I am modifying a carrot cake to see if I can make a healthier version while still keeping it tasty. If I succeed I'll post the recipe (unless someone already has one). I'm planning to use zucchini AND carrots (shhhhhh....don't tell my family), reduce the sugar, and replace part of the oil with applesauce. If it's anything like Ethan and Rhiannon's first birthday cake (sugar-free applesauce spice cake), no one will eat it, no one will be able to lift it because it's like a cinder-block, and my time and effort will be wasted. Here's hoping for better luck this time around. Splenda, come to Mama baby...

P.S. Happiness is the squirrel who taunted my dog and flirted with my camera during this morning's walk:


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taking a Risk...

I haven't written in a while because I wanted to wait until I truly had something to say. I did make a couple of "fluff" posts just to let you know what I've been up to, but now I'm ready to let you in again, as I have often done.
I know I reveal a lot of myself on my blog; some tell me I reveal too much. But that's okay; it's part of my nature, and I honestly do it so that I might inspire others or even help them directly. I have made enormous changes in my life and I see what it has done for me, and I want that for you, too. I want you to know that no matter who you are, no matter what trials you have been through, there is hope. But you can't wait for transformation to simply happen; you must MAKE it happen. You must seek it, initiate it, work for it, immerse yourself in your desire for it in order to make it happen. Transformation is an ACTIVE, not a passive, pursuit.

I took a risk and showed myself with all of my external warts on Facebook today. More importantly, it should be noted that I had (and have) internal warts to match. By posting this extremely unflattering picture, I took a chance in the hope that my own transformation might inspire those I have friended on Facebook. Then I decided that maybe it would inspire whoever it is that reads my blog, too. It's scary to show myself at my worst, but if it offers anyone out there hope that they might see a similar transformation, then I am all for it. You see, it was only through internal transformation that the external transformation happened. The external transformation was a happy side effect, but it is the internal transformation that is most important.

I once took life for granted. I didn't cherish it at all. In fact, life held no value for me. I was depressed, and had been for as long as I can remember. I tried to mask it with extremely destructive behaviors. I didn't care what happened to me, because my life consisted of just getting by. It was merely an endurance test. I didn't know what joy was. Life measured up to my every expectation, because I expected it to suck, to be painful, to be a trial, to be "not worth living." I set my expectations low so of course, my expectations were fulfilled. I expected my glass to be half empty, so of course that's exactly what it was. I made my life dismal because that was the attitude I fostered.

Some of my attitude came as a natural consequence of where I've been. I learned early on that life was nothing more than a series of trials to be endured. My father abused me, my mother, and my siblings for our entire childhoods. And when I say "abused," you can be sure that were his abuses to occur today he would be imprisoned for what he did to us. Sadly, back then, law enforcement tended to turn a blind eye. And I must assume that my relatives didn't know just how bad things were, or if they did they simply didn't know what to do, because they were not there to help. My mother wasn't able to help us either, for reasons I choose not to go into. But it jaded me, and made me feel that I was helpless. Utterly impotent. I couldn't trust those that were supposed to love me and be my protectors. I had no one to count on but myself, and I learned  to use numbing techniques such as drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, reckless behavior, and holding people at arm's length to keep me from being hurt further. And recently, in therapy, I learned that I also dissociate (I call it my "going away," where I leave my body in order to avoid the hurt I am experiencing. I never knew I did it until it was observed on three occasions during therapy at Brookhaven, earning me a diagnosis of PTSD. I would simply "go away" without knowledge of doing so. Now I recognize that there have been many times I regained consciousness without knowing where I'd been the previous moments or even hours. Dissociation is the result of extreme trauma. I hope that I now have the tools I need to handle emotionally difficult situations more effectively, but this was a tool my childish brain latched onto and found effective when I needed it.)

I fought my way through my life to the best of my abilities. I found love with my husband, Pat, and together we created a beautiful family. But I realize now that I didn't even trust him fully with my heart, because I trusted no one. I held him at arm's length too, because I knew for certain that one day he would hurt me too, so I took preemptive strikes. And yes, he did hurt me, but it was in part my own fault, because of my attitude. Today I have so much regret for those years. I wish I could turn back the clock, but Pat stayed by my side through it all, and today we are doing everything in our power to strengthen our relationship, both for ourselves and for our children. We have experienced too much pain in this family to throw in the towel, and we both have made the choice to let the tragedies of the recent past bring us together rather than tear us apart. We both want transformation.

Aiden and Ethan were the impetus for me to transform. Losing those boys laid me lower than ever, and I was suicidal. To be honest, I have been suicidal on a number of occasions, and I have actively tried to end my life on three occasions. Am I still here by coincidence? Sheer luck? Or might there be something more? I don't know, but I AM here and from now on I intend to make the most of it.

Yes, I've had a rough go. Child abuse. Molestation. And worst of all, the loss of two of the most amazing people ever to come into my life. I could lay me down forever, but instead I choose to move forward, better than ever, to honor their memory. I choose to live with my glass half full now. I choose to take care of my body, which I have abused more than anyone else ever did. I choose to live clean, and live fully. I might still live recklessly by others' standards (I intend to become a certified skydiver this summer; learn whitewater paddling either this summer or next; continue solo backpacking; explore as much of the world as I can, alone if necessary; drive a demolition derby car if I can ever make that happen; etc., etc.,), but in my mind I am living fully, not recklessly.

Most importantly, I want to make a difference during my stint here on this big beautiful blue marble. I know that when Aiden died, I did what I could to raise awareness of the principals of Safe Sleep (and I continue to do so); but now I have a  new goal: to raise awareness about PTSD and suicide. I feel uniquely suited to do so because I have attempted suicide and I suffer from PTSD, and I lost a beloved one to suicide because he lost his battle with PTSD. I am looking into Toastmasters to help me deliver the speech of my life, which I hope to deliver to military members worldwide if I can make it happen; to groups in which people are looking for hope in the face of despair; and face-to-face, one-on-one, to anyone who might benefit from my life experiences in any way.

Finally, I'm here to make public a lofty goal that I have been thinking of for quite a while: I want to write my autobiography with the purpose of inspiring hope in others. (Truth? I've already begun.) By sharing my story, I want to show you that if I can move forward with the hand I was dealt, I believe you can too, whoever you are and however you've been hurt. I want that for you, I want that for me.

I have discovered beauty in the aftermath of tragedy. I have discovered hope where once I saw none. I have discovered the basic goodness of mankind where once there was complete mistrust. And my transformation is just beginning. I have hope for so much more. I know I can do more than just get by, with a little help from my friends and loved ones, and maybe, just maybe, Someone I haven't met yet but am searching for. The door is opening---slowly, but it is.

And in case you can't see the pictures from my Facebook post very well, here they are: The face of hopelessness (see the dead eyes?) followed by the faces of Hope and Joy, and finally, two of the MANY friends, loved ones, and professionals who've made my transformation possible.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Capital 10K This Weekend. WHO'S IN?????

Hello, Friends! 

The Capital 10K is just around the corner (here’s a link: so it’s time to make a definite plan.  

I will be hosting a carb-loading / tutu making party on Saturday, April 5th. If you’d like to join us in running or walking the Capital 10K (it’s not too late to register), be sure and pick up your packet at the race site on Saturday (no package pick-up on day of race), then head my way around 5:00. This will give us plenty of time to make tutus (my gift to you: I will provide all materials and instruction) followed by dinner. If you don’t want to make tutus (you curmudgeon) just come for the dinner and social part at 6:00-ish. I will have various starches such as pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa, and a selection of sauces (vegetarian marinara, beef / venison spaghetti sauce, and a creamy chicken sauce). I ask that you provide some sort of salad or dessert. BYOB if you want to have spirits. You may bring your cheerleader if you wish.

Please note that gals and fellas alike are encouraged to make tutus! There’s a trend sweeping the nation: running in tutus! Let’s show our playful, ‘Keep Austin Weird’ spirit! Be brave, be silly, be playful, darlings! In addition to your tutus (which I will provide), you should try to bring a pair of funky socks to complete the look. Crazy hats, hair accessories, wild sunglasses, etc., will enhance your ensemble even more! 

Some of my long-distance guests will be spending the night before the race, so if you’d like to do so too let me know. I have ample room. 

After the race, I propose that my racers join me and mine and Jack Allen Restaurant in Oak Hill, I’ve made reservations for twelve at 1:00 and if I need to adjust that I will. They have a FABULOUS brunch buffet and you deserve a fabulous brunch buffet after all of your hard work! And yes, come in your race clothes! You want to show off that Cap 10K t-shirt and tutu! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10K Health & Fitness Expo

Palmer Events Center, Hall 2

12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (you don’t need to attend this but they have some great vendors)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10K Health & Fitness Expo

Palmer Events Center, Hall 2

9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (It won’t take you long to get your stuff---the earlier the better so you can be sure to have plenty of time to make it to my house. I’m going first thing in the morning and I can bring anyone who wants to join me. The same vendors should be there as from Friday, I believe.) 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Statesman Capitol 10,000 Race

7:30 a.m. Wheelchair Athlete Start

8:00 a.m. Race Start

8:45 a.m. Start Line Closes

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (noon) Finish Line Festival

9:30 a.m. Awards Presentation

11:00 a.m. Race Course Closes

12:00 p.m. Finish Line Festival concludes

From the official Capital 10K website:

“Statesman Capitol 10K names SafePlace 2014 beneficiary


November 6, 2013

The Statesman Capitol 10,000 has selected SafePlace as the beneficiary of its 2014 race. SafePlace is an agency ending domestic violence through safety, healing, prevention and social change in Austin and Travis County. Funds raised will support SafePlace’s innovative Children’s Services program, designed to address the specific needs of youth who have witnessed or experienced violence.
“The Statesman is proud to support SafePlace and their work to raise awareness about domestic abuse and the services they provide to survivors,” said John Conley, Statesman Capitol 10,000 race director.
The Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10K race in Texas and one of the top 10 in the nation. The Statesman Capitol 10,000 began in 1978 with 3,400 participants. In 2013, the race had 18,382 registered participants. In its 37th year, the Cap10K will take place on April 6, 2014 in downtown Austin. Registration for the 2014 Statesman Cap 10K begins October 8, 2013 online at
H-E-B will return for a fifth year as presenting sponsor for the 2014 race.”

I would SO love it if you would join me! You don't need to be a runner. If you are in reasonably good health, you can walk 6 miles. Come for the exercise, come for the fun, come for the energy of the crowds, come for the music, come because it's AUSTIN and it's weird and this is one of the top 10 10K's in the country! Be weird, be fit, be happy!

Please contact me at for details, to RSVP, to wish me luck, whatever!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

We love you Aiden...forever

Four years ago today one of the world's most precious little boys left us. Though he is no longer with us physically, he left a lot of wonderful memories behind, and we will always love and cherish them. He was truly a gift.

Thank you for being with us for a while, little one. You were one of the very best things that ever happened to us, and we love you.

Rhiannon and Tony, my heart is with you as always, but today in particular.

Sleep sweet, little Aiden. Nana loves you.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Checkin' In...

I've been a busy girl lately, and haven't taken the time to post an update. I'm busy, yes, but not adventuring or anything like that, so I feel like my activities would bore most of you. I'll just give you a brief synopsis so as not to bore you. 

I'm taking a wheel-throwing class at Clayways as well as a hand-building class. I made this for Ethan a couple of weeks ago. It's finally fully dry and ready to fire. I'm going to make another one, better this time.

After it's fired I will glaze it using earth-tones, then use the top row of holes to lace it to a tree near his burial site, and the bottom row of holes to attach wind-chimes, colorful glass, whatever feels right.

It's nothing special, but it's a gift of love from me to my son. I'll post another picture when it's finished. 
Ethan's gravestone is finally completed but not yet installed. This long, drawn-out process is very painful. Pat and I went to ensure the marker was to our satisfaction and it hurt so badly that I spent the rest of the day in my bed. But I made myself get moving again the next day. One day of emotional paralysis is okay, but no more..

We had a great Valentine's Day. Pat and I set up a scavenger hunt for the kids around Austin. We sent them pictures on their cell phones to places around Austin that they had to go to in order to reach their ultimate treasure. Here are a couple of examples. Any guesses from my Austin friends?


It was fun, and I think the kids had a good time. The boys got sort of burned out toward the end, but for the most part it was great for all of us. We were always one step ahead of them, waiting with goofy little surprises (chocolate-covered bacon, anyone?) for them at each place.  

I'm playing tennis again, feeling pretty good after my recent surgery. Trying to do a bit of jogging too. I want to do a half-marathon in Nashville in April. (Jessica, are you training?????) Even if I walk most of it I don't care. I just want to do it.  

I had a 4-minute adventure recently. I did this 26 years ago too, and I'd forgotten just how much fun it is:

I'm hooked. I've decided to become certified. Pat's not thrilled with this decision, but he understands my heart and he's supporting me. 

I'm going to head back to tae kwon do and work toward my second-degree black belt. I've forgotten so much that I need to work with some of my TKD friends to refresh my memory. I will not walk in to the do jang and disgrace the black belt by not being able to perform the forms. I've been away for four years. Shortly after I got my black belt, Aiden died and my world began to crumble. I never went back. But I'm ready to now. A dear friend, with whom I tested for my black belt, contacted me and we had coffee today. He challenged me to come back, and he didn't know that I've been thinking of doing so for a couple of months anyway, so I sort of took it as a sign that maybe the time is right. Thank you, Tom! My black-belt buddy!!! 

We had the joy of celebrating Jeremy's 21st birthday this past weekend. His birthday is actually next weekend, but Pat and I will be heading out of town in a couple of days so we celebrated early. My kids have informed me that they will never be too old for Happy Birthday pancakes, so that's how we began our day:


I love this boy so much! You know what he asked for for his birthday? A battery and some ponytail bands. That's it. He is so NOT a materialistic young man. He's wonderful and I adore him. But though he's 21 I still want to call him my boy!!!!!
I went to get my hair trimmed today, but there was a bit of a wait so I picked up a hairstyles magazine. As I sat there leafing through the hairstyles I decided that I needed something new. I've been a redhead for several months now; it was time for a change. There were a couple of options I really liked:

I felt that the above would really make a statement; plus it would go GREAT with my gun and motorcycle. A few pages later I found this one:

Not nearly the statement hairstyle as the previous one, though. Decisions, decisions...

Pat and I are headed to New York in a couple of days. We're going to watch a singles' tennis match between the top two players in the world: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic; and a doubles match between the Brian Brothers and the McEnroe brothers. Should be some amazing tennis to watch!!!! We are both looking forward to it but Pat made me promise: NO SOCIAL MEDIA DURING THIS TRIP! This trip is to be just for us, but I'll let you know how it went when we get home. In fact, I'm signing off until early April.

I've seen two pictures of my absolutely gorgeous granddaughter and I am very, very grateful. I am unable to share them with you at this time, however, but I wish I could show you just how heartbreakingly beautiful she is. Just like her daddy and her mama. With that DNA combo Lyla truly won the genetic lottery. How I hope with all of my heart that I may one day be a part of her life. hair.  What do you think? (Hopefully you realize that I would NEVER do something like the other to my hair...but this one's fun. I like it.)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Happy "Birthday," Lyla!

My granddaughter, Lyla Grace, is two months old today. I hope to someday be able to see her, hold her, fawn over her, spoil her (as well as her big sister). Unfortunately, I am not able to do so at this time, but I try to hold on to hope that one day her Mama will change her mind. In the meantime, I have to practice one of the most important skills I learned at Brookhaven: radical acceptance. Oftentimes in our lives, we cannot change what is, so we have to find a way to accept it and make peace with it. I must make peace with the loss of my son, my grandson, and my granddaughter too. There is nothing I can do about it so I must try not to torture myself about the "if only's." But an occasional picture would sure be nice. I don't get even that. But I'm trying to accept it, though it breaks my heart.

At any rate, happy two months "birthday," little one. I really hope to meet you some day. I have presents for you, but it's time for me to find another little girl to give them to. But I really thought that you'd look precious in these. They have a certain sassiness that I'm sure you have too, because some of my blood flows in those little veins! I've had them for about six months. They're sized for newborns.

I hope a day comes when I get to spoil you, as every grandma should with her grandchildren.