Monday, December 14, 2015

12 miles of running = Fun

Really. I had so much fun running twelve miles yesterday with my dad. Well, actually, we ran 13.1 miles, but only 12 were really fun. The last 1.1 miles kinda hurt. But 12 miles of fun, was way more than I was hoping for.

When I first signed up to to run the Indy half marathon, I just wanted to go and run it with my dad. But, I did want to train right and really feel good doing it. Unfortunately, my leg had other plans for me, and I went into race day with my longest run only being 9 miles and really only running every other day, most weeks.

And so, by race eve, my goal was simply to be able to keep up with my dad. And, in the back of my head, I really wanted to run faster than two hours for the total time. And I met both of those goals. And it really was fun. As much as I love running, racing did not always equal fun for me. I loved racing and challenging myself and the competition and coming away with personal bests, and medals, and sometimes even winner's trophies. But, I was also a bundle of nerves. I would feel the pressure of my own expectations and the expectations of others. I set high goals and sometimes I would exceed them and feel an amazing emotional high from a sense of accomplishment. And other times I would walk away wondering if I had not succeeded due to physical or mental failings. But those days are long gone.

And now I run for different reasons. And this is also the reason I rarely enter races any more. I know I am no where near personal bests. And I want to be ok with that. And I entered this race, just because I could. And I think I ran with a smile on my face for the majority of the first twelve miles. And my dad had a blast. He clapped as we passed the bands. He raised his arms and waved at every camera. We just kept passing and passing and passing people as we ran. And with less than a mile to go, he let all the other runners around us know that it was time to go and "finish this thing!" I know I would not have run as fast had he not been there. Another runner thanked my dad for his encouragement in the last mile and told him that he set his best time by two minutes and he thought my dad had helped him with that.

I have to say that that last mile hurt. The medicine that I took to keep my leg from hurting was mostly effective. But, I still compensated. And my leg was tightening. But we did it. And it WAS fun.

And today, because of my lack of training, my body feels like it ran a full marathon. My toes have oozey blisters on them and my legs and back and even my arms are sore. Walking down the stairs is ridiculous. I think I am going to have to give my body a break from running for a little bit. But, the feeling I felt yesterday, was almost that same feeling I felt years ago when I was setting personal and school records when I ran. And the fact that I can have that feeling back, and still be a long way from where I once was, means, I think I am going to have to do it again.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Things I Have Done Instead of Blogging #8: Fast Edition

I have been racing.
And I have been racing Fast.

I am not going to tell you all about my race.  If you want to read about it, you can go here.
But, I am going to tell you, that I have found my peace with running.

I wrote this on my running blog in February:

"The funny thing about racing, is that for years, I didn't want to race.  A big part of this was that I had spent years racing and chasing personal records, and medals and championships and I didn't need to do that anymore.  Another part of the non-racing, was that I knew, in my head, that I would never be able to race as fast as I once did.  I did not have the time and the energy to commit to training, and plus, I am not getting any younger.  Those speed demon days were over, but I have my PRs burned into my brain, and the thought of racing and being so many minutes away from those PRs, made racing a non-appealing thought."

And the other funny thing is that it has been so long since I was "fast" that I didn't even realize until this afternoon, that my 10 mile race I ran yesterday, was a full 6 minutes faster than the last time I ran it, 5 years ago.

The thing about "Fast" is that Fast is relative.  I was once Fast.  And I am still Fast.  And so is Erin and Barb and my brother, and his wife,  and everyone else who shows up and puts their heart and soul into running.  Chocolate Girl is Fast and Bari is Fast too.  But, sometimes Fast has to take some time to recover.  And that is ok.  There is a running slogan that says encourages you to "Find Your Strong."  I like that.  But, I also think it is ok to Find Your Fast.  And your Fast might not be the same as someone else's, but it is yours and yours alone.

Once you find your Fast, you might just be motivated to get faster, or run farther, or hike the Pacific Crest Trail....uh hem....(sorry husband, I don't think I can give that one up)....or to just keep on putting one foot in front of another....You OWN your Fast.

So speed on my friends.
Fast is beautiful.
And in this picture, Fast was also very very cold.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

Not Resolutions...Revolutions

It is the new year already and pretty much anything I post here is going to sound resolution-like.

It doesn't matter what I call them, resolutions, goals, thoughts that I think while alone in the is still an attempt at a new start for the new year.  

But, to be honest, I don't need a new start.  I don't need small little changes to work toward a better me.  I yam, who I yam (I also like sweet potatoes, by the way.  Have you ever tried the Pioneer Woman's sweet potatoes?  Even people who don't really like sweet potatoes, complemented them at our Christmas dinner.).  

But....I CAN do better.  
I can listen more and react less.  
I can do more for myself and empower those around me to do for themselves.
I can see where I want to go, and I can have the faith to follow the road map to get there.
I can read more, and say less.
I can give up on the multitasking.
I can create a better definition for "having it all."
I can be more present.
I can be a better friend.

This place...this place has been my friend.  This place is so pretty.  I love the blank page that waits for my thoughts to flow out of my fingers.  This place has created friends that I would have never had.  And now I don't want to leave.

But, the truth is that sometimes, I am not a very good friend.  Sometimes, I worry more about getting my own "stuff" taken care of, that I don't make time make sure my friends are taken care of.  Sometimes, I read what you write, but I don't comment, because I am so busy.  

Sometimes, I live so much in my head that I forget what other living there is to be done.
And, sometimes, there are things in my head, that can't be said anywhere, let alone here.

I don't need resolutions to get me where I want to go.  I need a revolution.
I am not leaving.  But, I am also not staying.  
I will still be here (I have to keep posting photos to my Cat Lady photo album, after all), and here  and here and I might still be here, but it isn't going to look the same. 
My revolution isn't a quitting, it is just an overthrow of the government.

You know where you can find me.


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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Dust on My Shoes

On my flight home, from California to Indiana, I glanced down at my shoes.  They were dusty.  Against the black of my Nike running shoes, the dust stood out.  I wondered why I hadn't noticed the dust before traveling in such dirty shoes.  And then I realized that the dust, was from the hours I had spent cleaning at my grandparents' house over the course of the previous four days.  And I decided that the dust could stay.  Sooner or later the dust will be mixed with my Midwest mud, or washed off as I run through a rainstorm.  But, for now, I had no desire to "shake the dust off my boots."

It has taken me a lot of time, to be able to put my thoughts together and write about the last five days.  And there is still too much for me to put in one blog post.  There is still too much for me to put words to at all.  It was a physically and emotionally exhausting few days.  But, I am so glad I was there.

At the memorial service, for my grandfather, I read parts of what my dad had written, about his father.  And I shared a few of my own memories.  And I also listen to my brother recount some of the many things that that he shared with my grandfather.  I couldn't make it through without tears.  But, I hope that what I said, was said well enough to honor my grandfather and my own father.

After the service, it became very apparent that although many people knew my grandpa, not very many people really knew him.  I don't know if I really knew him.  He was a quiet, private kind of guy.  And as he got older, he got quieter, and more private.  I think that many people were surprised by the perspective that my brother and I shared, the perspective that we were privileged to have, the memories that we have of a kind, patient, highly intelligent and curious man, who also had a great sense of humor.  At first, it made me sad, that so many people didn't really know that much about him.  And then, I realized that our legacy is not about how many people know us, but about how the people who really know us, remember us.


When I looked at my shoes and I saw the dust, it was the dust of cleaning an old house filled with "stuff."  Most of the stuff was obvious trash: the collections of plastic bags, the bags of junk mail, the disintegrating boxes of magazines.  But, a lot of the stuff wasn't so easy to throw away.  My grandparents' primary means of communication over the last 10 years or so was via handwritten notes.  There were notes everywhere.  At first I couldn't bring myself to throw them away.  And then, I realized that we had to, there were too many to save.  I think we read almost every one of the notes though, before putting them in the recycling box.  They were glimpses of their life, their daily to do lists, questions about dinner, requests to clean up the clutter.  I felt like I was throwing their life away, day by day, note by note.

We also found sentimental items, old toys, books, Dodger memorabilia, my grandpa's violin that was probably made in the late 1800's, stacks of date books and calendars going back years and years with all their important dates written in, some things that might have a monetary value, but mostly items that have an emotional value.  We asked a lot of questions about what to keep and what was not worth saving.  Really, all this "stuff" still belongs to my grandmother.  But, I think she is putting much of that "stuff" behind her.  Although, she does really seem to want the old couch, with the springs popping out the bottom, for her new place.  Why does she want this couch?  Why do we hold on to much of the "stuff" in our lives?  Sometimes the answers aren't as easy as a "keep pile" a "recycling pile" and a "trash pile."


I found myself alone, on Saturday evening, trying to at least finish the monumental task of the living room before heading back to my parents' house.  It was at this point that it all became too much.  I couldn't throw anything away any more.  The tears came instead as the memories flooded.  When I walked in, the house smelled just the way I remembered, and it may have been close to twenty years since I had been back in their house.  But it wasn't just the memories, it was the idea that all this stuff and all this dust was representing my grandparents' life.  For better or for worse, the stuff was a part of who they were, and the life they made.  And now one of them is gone.  And my grandma doesn't need all the stuff.  And the stuff can't stay where it is.  But, as my dad also wrote "Letting Go is the Hard Part."

The title of this post came first.  Sometimes the post comes first.  But, this time it was the title.  And the title reminds me that 'all we are is dust in the wind.'  My grandpa will be cremated, probably sometime this week or the next.  And he, quicker than most, but just like all who pass away, will be just dust.  "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."  I can't stop life from rolling on.  But, for now, the dust on my shoes stays put.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

This Is Not Really About the Book

I read the book The Help a few weeks ago.  I resisted reading it, to be honest.  I tend to shy away from books that "everyone" is reading for the sheer fact that I see not reading these popular books as some sort of silent rebellion against being told what to read, see, think etc.  But, I needed another book.  And several bookish friends that I trust had good things to say about it, so in a couple seconds I had it downloaded to my kindle.

I enjoyed the book.  I wasn't going to see the movie.  I spent most of the book waiting for the bad part to happen and the movie commercials seem to turn it into a happy clappy comedy.  But, to be completely honest, I thought I was reading a fairly accurate portrayal of life in the South in the 1960s.  And I thought it was great that these lovely, hardworking black women were getting a voice through the telling of their stories.  And we all have our stories.  The author of the The Help has her story.  I have my story.  But, so many times our stories never intersect with other people's stories in a way that creates meaningful dialog.

And this, is where my own ignorance comes in.  And this is when I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers who opened my eyes to a different perspective.  And I am not going to debate the merits and critiques of the book.  Because really, it is not about The Book, at all.  It is about me being honest  that as much as I think of myself as a person who is accepting of people no matter the color, the religion, the culture, I think this about myself  from the safety of my day to day life, really never having to deal with the issue of race.

My question to Kelly was this: 
"what is it we need to be doing to create change? How can we be a real help and not just condescending? Because, like those who are afraid to ask the questions and look dumb (myself included), I really believe that if given the tools, there are many of us who are willing to do what it takes to break through the divide that still exists."

And maybe I believe this because it is easy for me to say.  But, I really did want to know what I could do to be a part of the solution.  Kelly's answer to me on twitter this morning was this: 
 Figured if I just kept SAYING it, folks would eventually hear me and then we could have a really good discussion about this topic. Not just the book. And? AND? Having mainstream bloggers start the discussion, too. It's not just my job or other black writers.

And so, I promised that I would.  And I am.  And I admitted that I was scared to start this conversation here because I was worried that I might say the wrong thing and show my ignorance. But, I have to admit that I probably don't know much more about racism and civil rights than what was taught to me in school.

Because my story is that I grew up in a pocket of Southern California where the biggest minority groups were Asian and Armenian.  I had friends who were first generation Americans from Greece and from Serbia.  I had a friend who was white, and when her mother remarried, her black step-father legally adopted her.  At a father-daughter banquet we voted them the father-daughter pair that looked the most alike due to her frizzy hair.  Was that racist? Or, was it, as we took it, a fun gesture that really only meant to us that it didn't matter whether you looked like your father or not; that family is what you make it.

Part of my story is a black college roommate that used to call me "whitey."  Once when she called me that I almost called her "blacky" in return, because we were friends and we were joking around.  But, I stopped myself and never asked why it probably would not have been ok for me to call her that, but it was ok for her to call me "whitey."  

My story is that I live in Northwest Indiana, not too far, but far enough away from Gary that I can pretend it doesn't exist, if I chose to.  In my fairly small neighborhood, there are several black families.  We don't hang out, but we do talk.  You know, we say "good morning" or "have a nice day" on our way to the rest of our lives.  Then again, we tend to hide from most of our neighbors, no matter what the color and sometimes we talk about being hermits.  My husband works in a school with a growing population of black families.  The school that I work in has five in a student body of nine hundred.  We don't have a race relations problem at my school, because I am sure that those five students are working as hard as they can just to be like everyone else.  We have more of a problem with students harassing a student who may or may not be gay.

My story is also the fact that I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about the persecution of the human beings by other human beings during World War II.  Ever since I read the Diary of Anne Frank in for a 7th grade book report, I have learned everything I could about that period in history.  I have read as many books as I could get my hands on.  I have watched the historically important movies.  I have read how the United States interred the Japanese.  I have read about the horrors that prisoners of war endured overseas.  I learned about how in Hungary, they disguised their view of Jews as second class citizens, through the use of forced labor camps.  I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.  I have been to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.  And yet, I can not say that I know much about the history of race relations in the United States.  I saw the movie Roots.  I read my history books.  But, until I started taking a look at the book list on Mocha Momma's post, I didn't know anything more about Rosa Parks than her refusal to move to the back of the bus.

Part of my story is that these little tid-bits are just a small part of my life.  And race is not something I have to think about every day if I chose not to.  And I wonder, should I feel guilty for something that I have had no part in creating or perpetuating? But, then again, what have I done to be a positive agent for change either?  

My start, my very small start, is writing this post.  I am not an activist.  But, I am someone that cares about treating people with dignity and respect.  I am not writing this so that I can feel better about myself.  I am writing this because it needs to be talked about.  It needs to be written about.  And as Kelly said, the conversation can't only be from black writers.

My next goal is to read all the books on that book list plus a couple.  This is not to look well-read or obnoxious, but with the goal of truly understanding.  I will probably never get to the truly understanding part, but, I would like to get to the part in which I can have an educated conversation, even if it is only based on facts and not experiences. The guilt of the past might not be mine.  The guilt of the present might not be mine either.  But, I own my ignorance, and I would like to find the best way possible to fill that space.  

Kelly ended her post with "We can talk about race in a real way or we can talk about cake. I’m choosing the former."   I would like to challenge my own friends, whether they have read The Help or not, whether they have watched the movie or not, to find a way to talk about race in a real way, and not just about the book.

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Monday, July 18, 2011


I believe I was meant to live outside, by some sort of  body of water.
It is also possible, that I am part dog, because of my need for a fresh breeze on my face.  Believe you me, I love my air-conditioning as much as the next person, especially on a day like today with 87% humidity.  But, I have come to have more tolerance to warmth, if it includes a breeze.  There is just a better...smell...and fresh air.

It is also entirely possible that these parts of me have become a more intense need because of my move from Southern California to a place where living outside, near water, would mean having frostbite for half or more of the year.

But, still, I can remember my pull towards the water going all the way back to my childhood.
I can remember spending so much time in the church camp pool, floating, swimming, jumping, having underwater tea parties....that I wore the skin off the bottoms of my toes.  I remember my dad carrying me and my bloody toes, back from the pool to our cabin, a good half mile walk.
I can also remember my cousin and I making a pact that we were going to stay in the pool, at his house, from sun up to sun down.  His mom said we had to get out of the pool for lunch and not go back in for an hour.  We compromised by having our lunch and break in the raft in the middle of the pool.  I also remember being very sunburned that day and my aunt having to drive us to the drugstore to get some aloe for our poor backs.
I can remember beach trips that lasted until the sunset over the pacific.  And beach vacations in which we were back on the beach even after the sun was gone.
I remember being pummeled by the surf and riding the waves, and even once, getting caught in a rip current and being rescued by a life guard.

I was also raised camping and backpacking and llama packing my way around California, Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, and other various Western national parks and and mountains.

It seems that being outside is a part of my soul.

And here, in Indiana, as a responsible adult with a family and a mortgage and a job, my summers are fleeting.
And I find that being in the house (or come august 3rd, my office) on a day in which the sun is shining, makes me feel claustrophobic.   And so I get out.  I go to the beach.  I go to my best friend's pool which I truly believe she had installed just for me.  Or sometimes, I just sit on my deck and read and dream of having my feet in the ocean.  And sometimes, it seems like I am the only one that wants to get out.  But, more often than not, I can convince my boys to go with me.  And if all else fails, I walk around my yard and check on my plants.  It is not so much that I have become a master gardener (although my mom did laugh the first time she heard I was growing something), but, checking the tomatoes and the strawberries, and the squash, and the peppers, is an excuse to go outside when I don't seem to have any other reason.

Today, it was hot.  But, more than hot, it was humid.  The kind of humid that all you have to do is open the front door and you start sweating.  And I spent the morning being the responsible adult that I am, vacuuming, mopping, planting, mulching, laundrying.  Then, more for me than anyone else, I asked my boys if they wanted to go swimming.  And I was outside.  And I was the right mixture of warm and cool as I floated in the pool, my feet dangling in the water.  And I soaked up as much as I could.  Maybe I can get enough that I wont go through withdrawls when I have to go back to work?

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Telling Stories

I am still waiting for my 300 photos I have taken of our vacation thus far, to be uploaded so that I can sort them and send some to facebook and play with them and make them tell a story.

In the meanwhile, I am going to share just one photo, and it isn't mine.  And it wasn't taken with a fancy camera or by a professional photographer.

But, the picture does tell a story.  It tells a story about the almost twelve year old who hiked four miles to this lake at 8200 feet of elevation in the Sierra's, snapped this photo with his ipod touch, hiked the four miles back to camp and said "I could do this forever."  It also tells a story about my middle child who has decided that he wants to be a Yosemite ranger when he grows up. It tells a story of Dash hearing tales from his great uncle and great grandfather, who also camped with us, about their adventures living near these mountains and traversing these mountains and fishing in these mountains.  It tells a story about passing the love of these mountains through the generations.  It tells a story about why I keep coming back, even though I live so far away.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Happiness and Joy

I felt happy today.

Actually, I tend toward the happy side of life most of the time.  I am one of those people who is optimistic, most of the time.  I am not Pollyanna, though.  I don't walk around talking about how wonderful things are all the time.  And sometimes I am feeling my way through anxiety and self doubt and worry, and crabbiness, especially the crabbiness, just ask my husband, he'll tell you.  But, the sunny side....yeah, I usually live there.

But, real and true do you know when you have it and when you are feeling it?  Because most of life is made up of tasks and chores that have nothing to do with happiness.  Most of life is more of a contentment than a happiness.  And contentment is good.  But happiness feels better.

And oddly, I noticed this while driving back from the grocery store.  And I took notice because, although it wasn't a bad day, it wasn't anything special in terms of days either.  But, there it was again, that feeling that life is good and I am living it.

There were reasons to not be happy.  The weather was gray and cool.  I have a sick middle child who couldn't go to the batting cages like he wanted to.  I couldn't go to the yoga class I was invited to this morning because I had other things to do.  It was too cold for the beach.  The sun was hiding.  We couldn't try out the new slip and slide.

But, then there was the other stuff.  There was watching Jack Jack have a great time playing t-ball.  There was getting stuff done.  There was a feeling that I was doing things the right way.  There was the promise of the husband BBQing.  There was some of my favorite beer in my grocery bags.  There is the fact that I have only three more work days.  There was a time for a run this morning.  There was snuggling with my boys.  There was a Mary Poppins video (yes a real live VHS old school) and Jack Jack being amazed that I knew all the words to all the songs in the entire movie.

And these are such...plain old, normal, every day things.  And yet, today they made me happy.  And isn't that what true happiness is? Finding the joy in the every day things?

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Be the Ball

"Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball" - Good advice from a classic movie.  If you want to hit that ball, visualize yourself as that ball.  Where do you want to the ball to go?  How far would you like it to fly?  Which direction should it head when the course turns up ahead?  You can't just swing wildly and hope for magic to happen.  You have to have a plan for the ball. You have to get into the core of the ball, the "mind" of the ball, and become one with the ball.

Sometimes we call that focus.  Sometimes it feels more like pretending.  Sometimes we are just "acting as if" we are the ball in hopes that we will learn to really feel like we are the ball and maybe we can figure out how to get that ball through the rough?

Sometimes the hardest part in being the ball is remembering where the heck we are trying to get that darn ball.  Other times, it is remembering that there even is a ball.  Sometimes we are certainly not at all "on the ball."  Our focuses wavers.  

Being one with the ball is not a state of constancy.  It is a narrowing of our focus, our focus that is easily distracted and widened and scattered.  

Being the ball.  Being the change we want to see.  Being the selves that we want to be.  It is a reminder.  A mantra.  A way to remind ourselves how to fly.

Be the Ball.  "Just be the ball, be the ball, be the ball"

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Story Telling

An old friend stopped by for dinner the other night.  She was one of my best friends in high school and we keep in loose contact here and there.  Her daughter is super smart and has been accepted to several really big deal colleges in our area and is waiting to hear from a few more and they were taking a trip to visit the campuses and would be driving right through our town between one tour and another.


Her daughter and my daughter are just over a year apart in age, but two years apart in school due to different states and different cut-off dates for kindergarten enrollment.

So we set up a dinner date for the four of us.


A lot of years have passed since she and my other high school BFF practically lived at my house.  And a lot of life has been lived since we last spent considerable time together in her college apartment.  But, it was so easy to talk to my old friend and her daughter.  We talked about the college selection process that they have been going through and we are just beginning.  We talked about what they have liked so far on their tour and what else they have to see.  We talked about the future for both of our girls.


And then, we talked about the past. 


"Remember when?...." was a common theme.


I think both of our daughters found it interesting and amusing and it probably gave them a different perspective on these people that they really only know as mom.  Our daughters, who are living high school right now, heard about high school almost twenty years ago.  And it is amazing how different high school is twenty years later.


"Remember when we ditched school and called ourselves off and went to the library on our ditch day?  Remember that neither the school administrators nor our parents could really figure out what to do with two honors students who ditched school and went to the library all day?  Remember that my parents had a hard time believing that we really went to the library?"


And, as we talked about religion and my friend and her daughter took the time to pray for their meal: "Remember when you called yourself agnostic? And we would have conversations about religion late into the night and that one night you said excitedly 'what if there IS something out there!' and I screamed, because I thought you meant outside my window and then you screamed because I screamed and it all dissolved into a fit of late night laughter as you explained that you meant God, not intruders?"


"Remember when our track team was really bad, but the two of us managed to score every point for our team, one of us in the sprints and jumps and the other in distance and we ran the relays together?"


"Remember when you snuck into my house in the middle of the night and went to sleep on my couch in my room, and I found you there in the morning and that really wasn't all that strange?  Because you guys were ALWAYS at my house?" 


And there was a lot of explaining about how we got from there to here.  And it was an interesting look back and sideways and even forwards and we look at the young ladies sitting next to us, their futures ready to be made, as well as the changes in our own lives and our kids move on to the next big thing. 


Mistakes were made.  Neither one of us took the "easy" road to here.  And we hope that our children don't make the mistakes that we made.  But, here we are, with two pretty darn good kids next to us.  And they will make their own mistakes, but as evidenced by their mothers, we are not defined by our mistakes; we are defined by how we pick ourselves up and move forward.   And I hope that our girls heard through our stories of "remember when" that with your family and friends by your side, moving forward is always possible.

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