Boston Marathon: We Will Keep On Running

Motivational-Quote-about-Tragedy

In a world where we are surrounded by tragedy, inspiration emerges; hope and perseverance are tightly woven together, and anger motivates us to come together as a nation to try to repair what is constantly being torn and shattered.

When tragedy strikes, rather than stand frozen in a state of despair, we move like soldiers; willing to suit up and move to the front of the battle line.

I sit aghast over the tragic events that occurred in Boston yesterday, but while the tragedy directly happened in Boston, it had a deafening and profound impact on our faith, hope, and strength as a nation. Through all of it, as we grasp hands and cling to one another tightly through an unsecure network of technology; the Internet, we are forced into this dismal oblivion where the feeling to escape is between bleak and murky, yet surreal, yet a cold, bone chilling necessity.

There are families; victims; marathon runners, suffering battle wounds; scars that cut deeply into our nation. I want to drive there, press rewind, feel their strength and give them some of my own; I wonder; I wonder if I could be that brave; that strong. My heart cries with each beat. I am happy to be alive. One. Two. Three. My heart. I can feel it. Beating like a drum, marching to the front of the battle line; I am ready. I feel instinctively angry. Fearful. Saddened….

An array of courage summons me. Maybe it’s the sound of the feet racing against the pavement, taking the runners through each mile. Maybe it’s the confusion on their faces, but the feet that never stopped running. Or when the runners heard the sound and began to run, not towards the finish line, but towards the tragedy, towards the unknown; when it turned into people running to find, help and/or embrace loved ones, strangers, rather than people running for a time; for accolades.

I look down and see my legs; my feet, and they evoke images of people I’ve never met, runners I’ve never met, their faces strickened with fear and panic grasping at their wounds or shaking in immense shock for the absence of what was. I want to run there. It seems too senseless to drive. I sit quietly for a moment, and wonder if I could. I mean, run, from Upstate New York, 266 miles.  I close my eyes and imagine running freely among trees, blue skies, rain, and thunder. Roads tainted with holes, cracks, and dirt. Running against the unknown; running to finish their race, their purpose. I open my eyes and I’m aware of the innocence I feel from being so far from where it actually happened, and then I wonder if they realize that their purpose has not changed; it has only shifted slightly.

I mourn for the 8 year old boy, his family, and the spectators who gathered to show support for those who participated. They are all victims, regardless of miles, or purpose, we are, without a doubt, all victims.

In another, tragic, desperate attempt to quiet us all; to make us live in fear and abandon one another, we come together and unite, and I can say, at least, that I am humbled.

All you need is love…love…love

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy….” ~The Beatles Lennon/McCartney

I have been out of work for four long years. It didn’t start out that way, however. I was supposed to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree, find an amazing career and quit my job as a student loan customer call center representative; a job that I had managed to hold down for 11 years since I started at the ripe age of twenty.

Well….I got the degree.

It actually makes me anxious and uncomfortable when someone asks what I do for a living; I stutter and close my eyes and force the words out, “stay at home mom”.  Okay, so I don’t necessarily close my eyes, but I sure wish I could and not have to answer that question. For the longest time I said I was a student, but then that got old, and I knew I had to let go of that crutch and move on.

To be honest, my children are 10 and 16, and because they attend school, I’ve never really considered myself to be a “stay at home mom” and some may agree with me. In fact, I remember just last week, I was asked, “…And what do you with your life” Yes. Just like that. And I got flustered. I got butterflies. I stumbled over the words; why do people have to be defined based on what they are doing in life? Okay, so I know that it’s usually just a piece to a conversation puzzle, but I just find it irrelevant.

“I’m a stay at home mom”. Ugh. Even when the words stumbled off my tongue, I wanted them to roll into the ice water I was holding and freeze.  But it happened. It was too late. I said it. However, I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to say next, “..And how old are your kids?” Okay, so it could be a reasonable follow up question to get me to open up and share; engage in a conversation, but her eyes weren’t very warm or inviting. No. They were judgmental, and took on a life of their own. I felt like she wanted to know how old my kids are so she could secretly determine if I met the conditions to be a stay at home mom. Sure enough, after I provided the ages to my children, she pierced her words with judgment a little harder, and said, “oh well, I guess they are hard to manage at that age…” Alrighty then. I had to laugh. I later made a mental note to just tell people that I am…oh never mind….

I know that not everyone has the luxury of staying at home, raising their children and taking care of the house, but when I am home, seeing the love my my kids have for me is validation enough. Also, I am thankful that I have been given the chance to be able to stay home with my kids for the past few years, simply because it has provided me with an insight to my children’s lives like I’ve never had before.

Currently, I’m slowly emerging into a new journey, a new path; trying to spread my wings and help people lose weight, get in shape and eat healthy.  I can’t help but sense the absence that my kids, especially my ten year old son, feel when I cannot just watch television on the couch, or listen to every single one of his funny stories, or latest creation; ALL OF THE TIME.  I also miss the quiet, long conversations my daughter and I used to have out of the blue, (you know when we’re not yelling at each other). It saddens me at times, but I always go to bed and remind myself that I need to grab it back somehow, make time for them, and never let go of quality moments, no matter how old they get, or how busy life gets.  I know I’m not far away, but all of the undivided attention that I was once able to provide to my children is slowly shifting.  However, with all that is going on, I am also beginning to appreciate my role as a ‘stay at home mom’ a lot more, and am also starting to realize that, that role, whether the kids are in school or not, should not be devalued at any cost.

When my son and I finally got a chance to sit down and watch Celebrity Apprentice (he loves that show), he proudly says,

“Mommy, you inspire me”

It’s moments like that. Words like that. They fill my heart with solace; taking any doubt, harsh words, or judgments that anyone may have cast upon me, away.

My response? “Well, you inspire me too!” and he says, “No, really mom, you inspire me,” and proceeded with some of the reasons why, making me realize how much he has been paying attention to me; how much time we have been spending together, and how much of an impact I’ve had on his life by being at home these past four years.

I did leave him speechless and confused a bit when I responded, “Well, you inspire me to inspire you.”  He didn’t know how to handle that one!

While my daughter may not be so vocal, I know she is supportive and understands, simply because of her actions. Not all the time, but she’s a teenager! And believe me; she sure does act every bit the part!

My family is like an old house; filled with memories, open to new ones, shakes and rattles here and there, but can usually weather just about anything. I always try to remind myself that that clouds are always temporary, a broken window can always be fixed, and a door can always be opened or closed. Once the foundation is solid, nothing can tear it down.

With them, I am provided with experiences, moments, the courage to persevere, the desire to live with passion, and most of all unconditional love.

Hiking at Piseco Lake, NY

Outdoor winter activity is not something I enjoy. Often I wonder how I ended up in the wrong state. I was born here, but I’ve lived in states where the winter months weren’t as severe. Sometimes, I feel like I was born in the wrong state. Is there a term for that? Like Trans-state? I don’t know. Could be a word, I guess.  Anyway, when my sister announced that she was going to go hiking and asked if I could go, I reluctantly agreed. Mainly due to the fact that,

a) It was last minute &

b) she had told me there would be snow

Ugh. The older I get, the more I need routine, schedules, and to plan ahead. And why would I want to travel to a place that has snow? I’m trying to welcome the spring-like weather that is slowly making its way in, and now I’m going to go play in the snow?!!? Fiiiiiinnnnnee. I will go.  It will be an experience, I thought. I’ll try something different! Besides, my kids seemed to be excited to go, and I could get some cardio in, so off we went!

Here we go...

Here we go…

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We stopped to climb a up some huge boulder to take a picture,

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My sister, Kim

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Our Fearless Leader hehe

Once you get going, and allow yourself to take it all in and relax, the scenery is quite beautiful! Snow was covering the ground; fighting with the mud and water that was trying to wash it away. Branches and rocks hid behind ice and more snow. A trickle of water quietly streamed over the sharp edges of the plated rocks. The branches stood naked; unmoved by the chill in the air.

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Winter can seem gloomy, the sun sets much earlier thus turning the clear sky blank with only a dark shadow stretching out above, but there winter stood, on the mountain, during our hike, breathing against the earth, unnerved, pure and peaceful. The sun brushed our skin lightly as we steadily hiked upward, pushing ourselves farther and farther to the top, anticipating our reward. Emerging at the top, the sun snuck away, allowing us to capture the beauty that engulfed us; a sheet of pure white touching the horizon gently and peacefully.

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And we all made it!

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YAY!!!

My niece, Madeline, didn’t put socks on, so she had to use my sister’s gloves as socks…

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Don’t let that serious look fool you! She’s just being funny!

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And what goes up, must come down, RIGHT? Ugh….going down took sledding to a whole new level.  We were slipping and sliding, trudging through the sticky mud, trying not to break our neck on the glassy ice, and trying to avoid accidental falls into large holes of water. Yea, I was quickly reminded of how quickly things change from all different levels and views.

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Down we go!

Overall, it was a good day, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the gym for some weight lifting! That’s just where my heart is right now!

Strike a pose at Red Rock Canyon

Once I plugged in the words, photo shoot, photographer, Las Vegas, in Google, it was the beginning of the something that I knew I wanted to do so badly.  Besides, for the longest time, I had wanted to meet Fitness Model/Writer, Jamie Eason as well as a few other influential people that have guided me on this journey of getting in shape and providing me the opportunity to grasp onto a newly found confidence. My husband and I have been saying for years, that instead of going to Las Vegas in July/August like we normally do,  we should attend the Olympia Fitness Expo that is usually in late September. However, things happen that take precedence over going to Las Vegas to a fitness expo, and we just kept putting it off. Not only did I enjoy going to Vegas in July/August, the kids had off from school, and well, it just worked better that way. But this was 2012!  It was the year to get shit done, so we made the decision to just go for it. Besides, I had just competed in my first ever figure competition, and I thought why not? Why not now? It was on my “anxiety” bucket list, so I felt that I had to definitely check that off my list.

I do not really know what made me start looking for photographers in Las Vegas, but I did, and came across Natalie Minh, a well-known photographer, who was from California, but was going to be in Vegas for the Olympia and had set up a location for photo shoots. I don’t remember sending her the email; I think my body and mind went numb in a “what are you thinking” kind of way, and even when I received the response to let me know that there was one day open for a shoot left and that I could take it, I was ready to bite not just my nails, but my fingers off too! But I was also super psyched! I submitted my photos as requested, and followed my competition diet with a few tweaks here and there; I didn’t want to get as low in body fat as I did for the figure competition I did 2 ½ months earlier.  I had 2 months to prep for it, and during that time, I tracked my calories, weighed and measured my food using measuring cups and a food scale, and worked hard in the gym. For some reason, prepping for the photo shoot was much less stressful than prepping for a competition.  Maybe, it was because I was just so excited about finally being able to attend the Olympia fitness expo, and being in Vegas always makes me happy! I guess stepping in front of a photographer whom I have never met before, wasn’t quite resonating with me at that time! Also, I was so excited about the trip and being in a place where everyone carries food around in little plastic baggies and Tupperware containers, that I kind of let the nerves fall by the wayside.

September 26, 2012….Vegas time!!!! We had arranged for my mother in law to come up from NYC to stay with the kids so that we wouldn’t have to take them out of school. It literally took my husband and me 2 whole days to prep all of my food and supplements; he did the cooking and I did the packing. I didn’t want to have to add another carry on bag to our load because I knew that if I did, the airline would charge me more moolah, so I did away with the Tupperware, and found another way to pack my food! I came across Eco-Zip bags while at the grocery store one day, and turns out that they were actually quite convenient and practical! I was able to separate my meals, attach labels to indicate which meal they were for and what day, and they didn’t take a lot of space!

Eco-Zip bags

Eco-Zip bags

24 meals packed and placed into my small blue cooler, which I was able to carry onto the plane with no problems.

My awesome cooler!

My awesome cooler!

Once I arrived at the hotel, I placed all of my food into the refrigerator I had requested weeks earlier.  Carrying my food around in a bag was a lot easier than carrying around a few Tupperware coolers or even the entire cooler. I could just take how many meals I would need and on the go I went!

We have arrived!

We have arrived!

The first two days were the Expo, I stood in line for 3 hours to meet Jamie Eason and I was so happy! She really is the most genuine, sincere person I have ever met! She took the time to chat with me and take a photo

Jamie Eason

Jamie Eason

We also got to meet some other fitness models, high-level pro competitors that have been featured on many of my countless fitness magazines.

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Nicole Wilkins

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My husband with MMA fighter, Forrest Griffin

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Adela Garcia

Adela Garcia

Amanda Latona

Amanda Latona

We also collected free supplements and samples “trick or treat” style. It was awesome! I also got a chance to attend a seminar, which was basically a Q&A with another awesome knowledgeable person in the fitness industry, Jim Stoppani.  As you can see, apparently I have a clothing mishap everywhere I go, my boobs must have a mind of there own. It’s just that the first day I went to the expo, I kind of felt overdressed. A Lot of the people there were walking around in sports bras, tight booty shorts, muscles showing, so the next day, I wanted to fit in just a tad. First of all, I was so anxious to get back to the expo, that I left wearing sandals not sneakers like I originally had planned. I felt like an idiot among all those fitness pros! Plus, I’m not even going to go there with how my crotch looks with the waist of my pants rolled down! hehe whaddya gonna do now?

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My husband striking a pose with all our goodies and my little lunch tote! He’s such a good husband!

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I still shamelessly struck a pose in front of the Muscle&Fitness Hers sign!

It’s actually quite funny that I was so worried about what I should wear! If you ever get a chance to go, you will find the most down to earth, dedicated, nonjudgmental people I’ve had the pleasure of being around!

Unfortunately, we had to cut the second day of the Expo short because I had to hurry back for my spray tanning appointment. Yep, another one of those! (If you haven’t yet, to find out how my previous spray tanning experience went, read the my previous blog post about my journey to my first figure competition) This time, however, I didn’t have to stand naked to dry off for any length of time, only when the tan was applied! Not to mention, I didn’t have to get as dark for the photo shoot as I did for the competition.  After that was over, we had to head over to Walgreens on the strip because my husband developed a severe sinus infection and my right ear was beginning to hurt really badly.

Beast Mode and pink piggy neck rest

Beast Mode and pink piggy neck rest

In hindsight, I think it was from all the gum chewing I was doing to curb cravings! hehe.. “Hi, my name is Megan, and I’m a hypochondriac!”  Unfortunately, no one was there to help and we were advised to come back the next day.  We were both exhausted and ready for bed at that point, so we headed back to the hotel to call it an early night.  Besides, I was meeting the photographer at 9 am, and  I needed to make sure that I gave myself enough time to get to the eat and get to the location on time. I had already tried on a couple of things to wear for the photo shoot so I was ready to go!

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One of the choices that I was taking to the photo shoot! (And wore)

Awwww shit! We were late. It turns out that not all cab drivers in Las Vegas know where to go. Thankfully, we were only late by a couple minutes, but I still felt horrible. But my nerves and regrets of being late were soon squashed when I met Natalie Minh, she was just so nice and made me feel extremely comfortable. And even though I did drink a bottle of red wine to calm my nerves and loosen up, it really did help that I chose an amazing photographer who put me at ease and was really professional.

Four hours, white backdrop, beautiful scenery I’ve never had the chance to see before, hot desert, and hearing someone who was just there to climb Red Rock Canyon, that I must be a fitness model was an amazing feeling and compliment to say the least. I was on an incredible high, well that plus a slight buzz from the bottle of red wine and rockstar energy drink I had a few sips from! And somewhere in the mixture of wine, Rockstar, desert heat, beautiful Red Rock Canyon, and Natalie Minh, I’m pretty sure there was a girl who had a ton of insecurities and little confidence, but that day pure happiness was driving me, and it was one of the greatest days of my life!

Down time! Just for a few minutes though! too much to see and do!

Down time! Just for a few minutes though! too much to see and do!

The rest of the day and time spent in Vegas was just walking around, and enjoying the rest of my time there. I never went to the gym because just walking around the hotels and Vegas strip is enough to wear you out and get a good calorie burn; there are literally stairs everywhere! However, I didn’t do a lot of walking prior to the photo shoot because overuse of your legs could cause water retention, and I certainly didn’t want that to happen. It’s actually quite challenging trying to avoid the unavoidable; walking. Not to mention, I had only a limited amount of water that I could intake; so just being out in the hot blazing sun for any length of time was also a risk. I was however, happy that my husband was finally able to get a prescription for the sinus infection he had. Sinus infection+ cigarette smoke+ desert heat= Not the best time! He did make the most out of it though! I also found out that my ear was just fine. Of course it was…

Sadly, as with any vacation, the day to leave came….

Sadly, it was time to leave

Sadly, it was time to leave

walking up stairs, down stairs, one side of the hotel to another, at the airport,  it was quite the workout! You can seriously find a place to get some exercise in wherever you go! Besides, it doesn’t hurt just to add a tiny challenge along the way. You’ll feel better for it. Trust me.

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stairs in our hotel!

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stairs at the airport! Bye Vegas! I’ll be back someday!