I may see a Tarantula and I have to get shots.

In the past I’ve talked about being in my prime; that at 55, I am in my own personal Prime Time. Prime Time is for all of us between the age of 50 and 70 (and beyond! who knows?). We’ve got so many strange and wonderful experiences behind us and we have EARNED our wisdom. (see my post from January) So, with all those happy and motivational thoughts, the next thing I came upon is CHANGE. Ohhh; with all this knowledge and ability to choose wisely, now I realize that many decisions will require a change in myself. You see, I am accutely aware of what and how I did things before…how I handled relationships, obligations, commitments, goals, obstacles and on and on. About 35 years, a entire lifetime, of gettin’ it all together. Now, in my prime I know that to move forward I may…most likely…certainly will, have to change: me. I have been embarking on new work/career/income/creative projects for about two years now; navigating the prime of my life. Today I can tell you that when you make changes, big changes, changes to your environment, body, home, relationships, hair, shoes (whatever!) you will be immediately presented with the big, fat fears that have kept you from even considering these wonderful adventures in the first place! In 2006 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to East Africa. It would be in the category of “humanitarian” trip, visiting projects for clean water, schools, and micro-business being developed in Kenya and Tanzania. And it would include 3-4 days of awesome safari. I jumped at the chance! I was elevated, like feet barely touching the ground at the prospect of me going to Africa! Yes! Yes! Yes!…what? inoculations? how many? five?! shots? needles? oh. And my phantom phobia of big, hairy spiders!! jungle! banana trees! wide-open landscapes! they are everywhere! I just know it! Continue reading


Are You Ready for Prime Time?

I’m 55 years old and I’ve been noticing that most of my peers, friends and associates are now between the ages of 50 and 70 years old. I’m declaring that we are in our prime! What if 50 to 70 years old is the “Prime Time” of our life?

Just knowing more about ourselves: been all over there and done all that! Maybe retirement and the freedom to realize dreams of travel. Or choosing to work on projects and occupations that we actually want to do. Folks with grand kids to enjoy…gleefully handing them back to the parents to do the real job of child rearing.

Because I feel that this is my Prime Time, I am more aware of the importance of my health, especially prevention and sustainability. I realize that I don’t actually have a “choice”, whether to take care of myself or not. You see, at this age my body is only going to keep going with how I’ve managed it so far. I know that from now on, things will get “worse”…in terms of slower, saggy-er, etc. But that doesn’t stop me from getting more information about how to sustain what I’ve got and committing to what will sustain my energy, flexibility and healthy cell structure. I’ve been learning about “cell structure”, and really getting the picture of how my body is connected by all these buoyant little cells, communicating and interacting, making up this big mass of fun called Me.

Maybe the Saturday Night Live crew was “not quite ready for Prime Time” on television; but I’m so grateful to be a Prime Time Player in 2009!

All in a day’s journey…

A “walkathon”. Remember that word? I guess a marathon is 26 miles, and then folks would do fund raisers by walking the 26 miles, so that everyone could participate. Well, this noble idea grew and the Susan G. Komen, 3Day Walk for Breast Cancer became a walkathon XXL. Sixty miles, over three days. I just completed this 3Day Walk last weekend. We started out on Friday, September 5th. No, make that Thursday night, September 4th. Because we decided to stay overnight in South San Francisco to get to the Cow Palace at 6:00am. So really, the event starts the night before, when you’re apprehensive, excited, buzzed and tired all at the same time. It takes a lot of logistics to get families and jobs wrapped up and put aside so that you can get off on your adventure. I slept just fine that Thursday night and got up with my roommate at 4:30am. Can’t eat breakfast that early, so granola bars were toted along. A long weekend of many granola bars lay ahead.

Our 3Day route was fantastic! I love San Francisco and lived there for many years, but never have I walked all over the city. All over the entire city and more. On Day 1 we started at the Cow Palace, walked through South San Francisco over to Westlake, down to the beach and along the Great Highway, up into Golden Gate Park, taking Arguello to Jackson Street and up into Laurel Heights, up, up into Pacific Heights and down, down to Lombard Street, crossing to the Marina District and out to the Marina Green stretching way out along the new (to me) trail into Crissy Field…our campsite for two nights. 20.4 miles and it was 88 degrees in San Francisco on Friday.

I trailed behind as our team made it in to camp. Now we had to find our gear bags (35lbs.), drag them to our tent site, pull out a pink pup tent and spread it out, hook up the poles. My tentmate and I just kept moving, plodding, feet burning, legs aching, but nothing mattered more than getting that tent up. And then the air mattress. “Whrrrr” as the battery pump puffed up our mattress; our eyes and fingers working in tandem, focusing on that pump like it was our last hope for survival. Oh what a beautiful sight! The mattress! Toss in the sleeping bags and phoof! Laying down!

A lot of the weekend is a blur to me. The grass at Crissy Field is long and lush and lumpy…a gopher cityscape! We plodded over the grass. Fifty some-odd yards to porta-potties and funny, little stainless steel shower trailers, and cafeteria style food lines for dinner and breakfast. I remember the amazing foot massage machines in one tent along the amenities “boulevard”; a life saver! Medical tents and kind and generous volunteers everywhere. It was roughing it with lots of hugs. On one morning, at about 4:30am I plodded through the cold, wet grass to the potty. As I made my way back to the tent I looked around me and saw others moving slowly through the fog and fuzzy semi-darkness. Hunched with arms hanging, methodically stepping, plodding over dirt clods with bruised and wounded feet. All I could see was a scene from “Night of the Living Dead”! I’m sorry! But that’s what we looked like…zombies!

Day 2: As we walked over the majestic Golden Gate Bridge at about 8:00am and marveled at how sunny and balmy the weather was, I knew we were in trouble. The GGB should have been shrouded in fog, with an icy wind. This meant heat and the temperature in San Francisco on Day 2 sizzled it’s way to 93 degrees. In Mill Valley, our halfway point, it reached 101. I didn’t make it all the way that day. I only got as far a the end of Sausalito; my feet burning and a particularly angry blister on my right foot. I got it cleaned and bandaged at the lunch stop. My tentmate got as far as our Mill Valley lunch stop, over 12 miles. But her feet were burning and blistered too. We made the woeful decision to be bussed back to the camp, to rest and hopefully heal enough to get all the way through Day 3. We had to! We had to do all of Day 3 and we would bandage our feet, stoke up on Advil and walk until we were bloody!

Now, my teammates will tell you that I am a complainer. Yes, I know it was said. But I don’t see it as all that negative. My complaining is simply thinking out loud, letting off steam, and telling it like it is! Ooh, ow, why so many hills?, this is just mean, my feet are on fire! And “Uff da” became my mantra. (Uff da is an exclamation of Norwegian origin that is relatively common in the Upper Midwestern states of the United States, meaning roughly “drats,” “oops!” or “ouch!” especially if the “ouch!” is an empathetic one. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Uff-da) Up and down every curb…”Uff da!”

This beautiful walk, exciting stories and new women (and men) to meet and talk with. Wild and crazy “cheering sections” that greeted us over and over along the route with costumes, music, candy and wet wipes. “Pit stops” with water, food and porta-potties. Water, food and porta-potties. Water, food and porta-potties. That was our life for three days.

Day 3: Fog. Glorious fog! Cool, damp, fluffy, beautiful fog! No sun! We started out for our last 14 miles in loving fog and gray skies. We were all sore and beat; but the cool morning and anticipation of our achievement gave us strength. We walked together all the way. We made our first 6 miles and 2nd pit stop in about 1.5 hours. We were stoked! Piece o’cake! A little sun came through and we enjoyed our walk through magnificent San Francisco. The intricate architecture of Pacific Heights. The crowded downtown streets and glamorous stores of Union Square. Sax Fifth Avenue had all of its windows done in designer stilettos! Eek! It looked like a torture chamber to me! I hope I recover from the shock; I do love those shoes.

Advil is a wonderful drug. I took my doses every couple of hours and my nasty blister rested in peace. As we marched through the Financial District and up into North Beach we were closing in on our final destination. At 12 miles we all hurt. A lot. But we did it. We marched/hobbled together into Fort Mason, our holding area before the closing ceremonies at the Marina Green. We whipped on our victory t-shirts and sat on the asphalt to cheer the stream of walkers as they arrived. We cried at the site of their limping and pain, disabilities, sweat, red faces, huge smiles, whacky costumes, team spirit, war-whoops and laughter. We hugged. Each other, group hugs. And finally, we located our husbands and families and at the end of the ceremonies we scattered; anxious to start our final journey to home, bathtubs and beds.

My cast of characters? My team? The Tickled Pinks! Lani, Lorri and Tami – mother, daughter and granddaughter. Three generations of a family that knows the terror of breast cancer. Lani is our 10 year survivor and a beautiful 60-something! She has never camped in a tent, or walked miles and miles, just cuz. I think Lani logged about 12 to 15 miles each day; taking care of herself and using the “sweep vans” as needed.

Lorri and Tami, mother and daughter, a vision of determination and fortitude. They walked the entire 3 days. I am truly inspired by them.

Rachel, our road-side warrior. We met her during our training walks and she was alone, ready to do this crazy thing all on her own. We scooped her up into our team and she walked the entir
e 3 days. Her husband, two kids and mother showed up all along the route to support her, and us. A beautiful family, a continuous beam of love throughout our journey. And Sally and Christine. Often they walked slower than us. Not always with us, but…always with us. Smiling faces, hugs and support. We all gave and gave and gave.

My tentmate? Linda! Apparently we were separated at birth. Such an odd story. She is Lorri’s aunt and Linda and I have been connected all our lives through our extended families; beginning in Vallejo, CA. I babysat her niece and she babysat mine. We both graduated from high school in 1971; but across town from each other at “rival” high schools. All my life I’ve heard, “you know Linda, right?” No, I had never even set eyes on her. And she has the same story. For some reason our paths would not cross until we were 55 years old. For me it was like a scene from “The Parent Trap”, seeing my twin for the first time at camp! We had an instantly great time. We laughed and laughed and made wonderful jokes about how miserable we were. I whole-heartedly thank God for Linda!

I’ve got two things, two gifts of life, that came from my 3Day experience:
1. The magic of an all out physical challenge and exertion for a cause exclusive of oneself is a stress and anxiety purge. Whatever projects and problems were festering and nagging at me just the week before are now simply my stuff to do. I am calm, restored and harmonized. It has to be a challenge that is for and about someone or something other than yourself. The fortitude it takes to keep going and push through real and imagined pain to finish just because you said so. A commitment, a promise and an achievement that will make a difference to someone, some world.

2. I am now awake and present to the importance of fighting cancer. Over the 3 days I was immersed in the loss and longing for family members and friends that lost their battle with breast cancer. Any cancer; it’s all an unnecessary evil. Cancer is mutated cells. In a sense there will not be any cure for cancer, it’s not a bacteria or virus we can inoculate. But there is research and science that is developing cellular health through glyconutrients and more. I’m a novice at this, but I want to know more and I want to support it. http://www.glyconutrientsreference.com/whatareglyconutrients/scientificvalidation.html

Will I do this 3Day walk again? I don’t think so. Uff da. BUT, I will be a cheering station! I will jump up and down and dance along the route and bring joy, laughter, love and Kleenex to the walkers. What a great bunch they were, the Cheering Stations!

It’s Wednesday and I’m still in flip flops. You couldn’t pay me to put on a pair of shoes yet. The blister was really ugly, but healing. I had a massage on Monday, more healing. I’m walking normal again, not hobbling. I so had my doubts a few weeks ago. I thought I had made a mistake with all this stress of fund raising and training walks. But last February a message came through my mind that said I needed a physical and spiritual challenge. I chose the 3Day and I got everything I asked for! (wink)

www.the3day.org, www.komen.org, www.nptrust.org