Earthquake in Lynchburg, Va

That time you woke up heart bursting because you get to see the Game of Life played by your first-born who left you just 6 months ago to chase his dreams, have new experiences and get a college degree.

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And you walk extra slow across the parking lot to make the getting of shampoo and toothpaste and beef jerky and sour patch kids and microwave popcorn at a smelly and run down Family Dollar take hours upon hours because you know the time is nigh to say good-bye (again)

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And even though you know he is safe and happy and on a path you cannot pave for him, your heart quakes a bit because the velcro sandals and the band aids no longer need the curl of your knuckles to apply. Why oh why does time fly?

And don’t get me started on the pirate costume and swords made of sticks.

And you realize everyday is another day closer to another good-bye. Next time, it will be her, then her:

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The best part is, if we are very, very lucky – there is also ‘hello’ right around the corner.

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In gratitude for the 11 mile run I have today and the endless hours of Ironman Training coming up,
MMY

I got called out at yoga…

It wasn’t for anything good.  As a yoga teacher, I know it is disingenuous to rate the poses or practice as good, bad, or great. However I do not mind being told my down dog is the bomb or my camel, dancer, or pigeon pose is on point.

The middle little girl in me still likes a pat on the back, a nod, some attention that she is special. But not like this.

Last week I tried out a new yoga studio. It is posh, lovely, soothing, and smells good. It attracts the hipster millennials who live in its cool urban hood. When I noticed my teacher looked like Simone Biles, the gold medaling megastar gymnast and was about Simone’s age,  I thought I’d be in for a real athletic and dynamic workout. I had already started thinking how my practice would certainly stun her stunning self (so not yogic).

 

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Not my actual teacher, but the actual Simone Biles.

As is customary in many studios there were no mirrors. By my calculations, on the inside I am about 27. On the outside I am actually 48. Apparently without the help of mirrors, I forgot what the outside said.   Because the next thing happened.

In a new studio I never know how each teacher will incorporate the use of props in the sequence. I do not need them but I find them to be great tools to deepen a pose or provide spatial reference or just give my ASSana a soft place to land if I want to. So I gathered a few to have at-the-ready near my matspace. (I made that word up – like a millennial would)

After the usual centering activity Simone brought us up to (wait for it…) table top – to start our moving practice. I think she thought it might be too much for me.

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Actual Table Top

Simone then explained while looking AT ME that if our knees hurt we could roll our mat up a few times to provide some cushioning. Or, we could use a blanket underneath to soften the blow to our knees. She didn’t say it but she implied – like those of us with more advanced body parts. She even came over to me (only me) with said soft blanket to offer her geriatric follower some relief. I giggled like the school girl I think I still am and told her I was fine.

Some might call it a sweet gesture, others might call it ageism or profiling. Most would might call me petty.

But I couldn’t help it. What I wanted to say is: Look b*tch, I have been holding tabletop and plank longer than you’ve been alive. Have you seen my tattoo?

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My actual calf

I proceeded to put so much zest into a slow hatha yoga with meditation class that I made myself sore – serves me right.

I temporarily forgot that the face that chatted Simone up before class looked like this:

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My actual face

I had just had a number of skin cancers removed and am wearing new but healing scars. I can’t blame my yoga teacher that she may have thought that mostly happens to old people. Because it does.  Compared to my waiting room compatriots for the procedure, I am millennial.

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The actual waiting room

I am old. I am young. I am whatever. Age isn’t a thing – it’s me that made it so.

Maybe the gymnast in Simone look-alike saw the efforts my body made to be strong and vital and healthy and thought I could use a rest.

Maybe she felt a tug at her heartstrings that I may have been through something recently and could use some extra softness.

Whatever it was, it was just (what for it…) nice.

For the record, I would go back. Maybe my next teacher will be her:

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Jaysea DeVoe – The Youngest Yoga Teacher in the US

She’s 13. Like her:

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My actual daughter, Jane.

19 Reasons to Drop the Mic

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Boom.

At 2:21pm tomorrow I will have been married 19 years. I never tire of a good race, birth, or relationship story and I do wholeheartedly believe every single one of us has one or a few. Here’s my story and why I simply must drop the mic.

I met my husband 20 years ago tomorrow at a party my cousin threw to mark her move to a new neighborhood that would soon become mine. She thought I may like her new neighbor but probably didn’t bank on having her cuz, bestie, partner-in-crime literally living a hundred yards from her kitchen table one year later.

Boom.

We met. We chatted. Three weeks later, he asked me out on a date. 9 weeks later my mother died suddenly.

Boom. Biggest ever.

Two weeks later at her gravesite he asked me to marry him. Seven months later, a year to the day we met, I said ‘I do’ forever. Six days later, I got pregnant.

Boom. Oops.

We had him:

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19 months later, we  had her:

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Then we had her:

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Boom. Boom. Boom.

16 months later, my first love – my Dad – died of a heart attack in his car.

Boom. Seismic.

A number of years passed. Big stuff. Little stuff. All kinds of stuff happened on this amazing journey we call life. Two and  half years ago, we were changed forever.

We lost her:

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My sixteen year old niece. Her story is here.

Boom. Broken.

From the beginning we have been going through big booms.

Meeting and marrying my husband is a case study in serendipity. When my mother died I had a brand new, called-when-he-said-he-would boyfriend who made me a laugh at the ready to help heal my broken heart. His million good qualities are only matched by my immense hope that he knows how well loved he is. By many – especially me.

He is tenacious, kind, loyal, compassionate, an amazing listener, an athlete extraordinaire, shy by nature, award-winning salesman who puts his family above himself with every breath he takes.

(That’s 15 booms mic drops if you are counting.)

He a wants only the best for me, supports my crazy, is a good cook, a gardener, with a sense of humor that still makes me belly laugh 19 years later.

One day I’ll get him to take my Yoga class

BOOM!

(The seven half marathons we’ve run together just isn’t enough).

We should all have a Mike  mic story like this.

Oh so very lucky, me!

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Why You Should Always Take the Train

On Sunday, my husband and I took my oldest to college. It hit me like a freight train.

I knew it was coming but didn’t anticipate the impact.

Sure I:

  1. Deal with the ache of missing him daily around the house. (knew it)
  2. Wish I could have stayed longer when we dropped him off. (normal, kinda)
  3. Face the fact that much of my job with him is done. (endings, not doing well with this one)

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I like beginnings much better. Until I went to Germany with the SpeakUp Race Team, I had never been on a train. Because of the beer and comfy seats, I love this mode of travel.

Just yesterday I said good bye to Nick as he boarded the big yellow bus for the first time.

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What feels like 2 seconds later, I did this:

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Organized his dorm room and stood next to him for a big moment – The last hug before I was no longer his daily confidant, baseball sherpa, homework advisor, cook (sometimes) and nag (kinda, sometimes).

He is ready to fly and for that I couldn’t be more grateful for all his new beginnings. (And for the record, mine too)

He is prepared!

As we were loading the car I noticed one of his Thomas the Trains sitting in the box marked “desk”. I pointed it out to him as tears welled for a moment long gone:

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He said:

Mom, you gotta bring Thomas. It’s good luck.

His childhood brings him strength and hope and luck for the hard work of new beginnings. That’s just what I needed to let him go and grow.

And to begin again in a life of change and adventure. How blessed am I for the chance.

I am so lucky.

Has to be the train.

 

Challenge Roth Race Report

That Time I Learned What I Already Know

Warning: Long post, but 140.6 miles is a long way to go. Thanks for taking the time to read.

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Plane Ride – Clair and Tracy

A long time coming with purpose that cannot be over played, Challenge Roth 2016 in Germany was an epic adventure. My first full-distance triathlon, my first trip to Europe, my first time turning 48. My first days after crossing the finish line are fresh with hope and intention and inspiration. I have almighty God, a mighty fight by my niece,  and the magic blessing of love from my family and friends, teammates and strangers to thank for this life I now have after the race. This is one of those defining events that marks life before July 17, 2016 and after. I hope this happy hangover never goes away.

The Swim

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SpeakUp Race Team Ladies – Practice Swim

After a severe OWPA (Open Water Panic Attack) during the practice swim, I was filled with dread the nasty monster would again take up head space during the actual swim 2 days away. Because our teammate who triples as a nationally known coach, race director and endurance sports entrepreneur, got back in the water to talk us back from the OWPA ledge I started to believe I could keep my head clear of the water demons. So I did what most might. I had a beer for lunch.

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Nerve-calming nutrition

I digress.

My mantra that was engine for the swim was: All Good. No Doubt. Go. Go. Go. Compliments of my sister, Mary-Suzanne. It was the exorcism to the OWPA monster who rattled my front door during the race but never got in. Because I have poor sighting skills am an over-achiever I swam 2.8 miles instead of the required 2.4. Oh well. I was still (super) happy with my time.

The Bike

The course was magical – through towns so picturesque and quaint, God owes me nothing for the dreams of Europe He planted in my head when I was a little girl. I had technical issues (lost chain at the bottom of a major hill which I cranked up with no momentum from a previous downhill, mistakes with water bottles, cages that didn’t hold and general nutrition probs. I have A LOT to learn here) that stole time but not enough to keep me from the cut-off.

The legendary Solar berg hill is as astonishing as Roth veterans testify. They say the energy from the crowd pulls you up that hill in Froome and Frodo fashion. I say I knew my quads had a ton to do with it but the push from the crowd who loves their country and their race kept the legs churning.

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It wasn’t pretty but I got it done.

After 112 miles, and more hours than I expected, I happily turned my bike over to the volunteer to start the final leg of the race of my life so far.

The Run

During a pre race pep talk, my dear friend Beth Risdon shared that the key is to learn to ride the wave of the day. Don’t get to comfortable in the highs and know the lows will pass. You need to stay mentally strong and believing that things won’t necessarily get worse when you are struggling.

Because of a nagging foot injury I had a run/walk race strategy from the start. I felt pretty good and settled in to that for the first 4/5 miles. Slowly but surely I began to break down. My painful foot and GI issues plagued my run. As I passed the half marathon mark I knew I wouldn’t get pulled from the course but I also knew unless I picked up speed I may not make the Roth-specific 15 hr time requirement. Ironman time limit is 17 hours.

The Darkness and The Light

While on the last out and back at about mile 17/18 the sun began to set. As I entered a stretch of trail I took the head lamp and started to mentally and spiritually break down. I knew all of my team mates were finished or almost and realized there were absolutely no other runners near me. It occurred to me that the ones behind me were pulled perhaps at the half way mark and I started to believe they were the lucky ones. (I am not minimizing the terrible feeling of being pulled off a course that has your heart and soul all over it but whereas I was well into the run… 18/19 miles at this moment I still had a shit-ton to go)

I was alone in a foreign country with a very painful foot and stomach issues. Course support was just about nil. No water. No food. No cell phone. No light. No one.

I exited the woods about mile 20 still very much alone.

Keep moving forward. Keep moving forward.

I reached a stretch of soft pavement by a lovely during-the-day canal and saw blessed volunteers breaking down what would be the last opportunity for water or calories. I desperately needed both and knew my body would gobble them up faster than the finish line loomed.

Don’t stay in the lows. Don’t stay in the lows.

Grace is worried about me. What if my legs buckle and I can’t move? There is no food. There are no people. I have no cell phone. I still have 4/5 miles left. I am alone in a foreign country. No light. No food. No people. Depleted…. almost.

I toyed with shame an embarrassment. No one wants to be the sweeper or the last teammate. With the SpeakUp Race Team, I am in company with Kona kings, Could-be-pro’s, and born-to-swim-bike-run athletes with heart, moxie and staying power who eat pain to help others. I may not have speed but I refuse to be the weak link. I did not want to be pitied. Pride poked through my madness but quickly left when I needed to stay in the moment to make it. Pride took up precious space in my constitution until it left with this prayer. (remember I am still very much in the race. At this point it’s my race I am going for Ironman time.)

God, I know I am in your Grace. But I am afraid. Help me.

My Frenchman

Within moments a gentlemen came behind me and asked in broken English if he could Finish This with me.

God, really? That was fast.

In true Cameron Gallagher fashion, I said to him: “Let’s Finish This.”

Jean-Marie is from France, a 3-time Challenge Roth Finisher with a number of impressive races under his belt. I am in very, very good company in every way. We have each given over to mostly walking with a few stretches of jogging. It is mile 22.

Two strangers, one an angel to another. We knew we’d Finish This and likely in Ironman time. Along the way he learned about our amazing SpeakUp Race Team, our purpose and our maker. I learned his family has been dealing with mental illness for quite some time.

I have a spot in Paris for my family to visit and a free tour guide.

He taught me to be proud of myself. I taught him about the changing face of depression and mental illness drawn by Cameron. We held each other up – he more than I, I feel sure. But together, nonetheless, we fought the good fight. We finished the race. And with a little help from a friend, we kept the faith.

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Jean-Marie and me at the finish. Poor lighting. But it was perfect.

My Heroes

My team. My husband. My BFF in Boulder. My friends. My children. My siblings. My parents. My collective extended team family. My Coaches. My niece, my Cameron. All.

You are my all in all.

My medal.

They don’t give out Ironman medals at Challenge Roth. Our Moose gave me his. Our Jeff gave me his commemorative finisher’s beer stein. This belongs to Us. All of Us.

 

Challenge Roth taught me what God’s been trying to show us all for all time.

We have Enough. We are Enough.

At 48, I believe.

Cheers.

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On to the next.

3 Reasons to Quit Something You Love

Soon, I am going to quit teaching Yoga. Given the name if my blog, it may seem a bit insane and it does feel super weird.

After all, teaching Yoga:

  • Makes me happy.
  • Is legal.
  • A part of the very core of me.

Albert Einstein is much smarter than me and he said insanity is:

doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results

I  need change. As I stare at the exit sign of my 40’s I know there is so much to do – new paths to take and time won’t wait.

If you are like me and want to squeeze tons of life out of every single moment, go on travel adventures, make a difference every single day, you may need to free up some space in your mind and calendar for new gigs.  You cannot take on new endeavors make any more $$ and set your sails with the wind at your back if you are too busy moving food around your plate. Even if you love everything you do, too much is just that too-the-hell-much. Nothing changes and you end up insane.  I want to be insanely happy and the process isn’t for the faint of heart.

So I say good-bye for now to something I love (you should think about it too) Here’s why:

  1. To get better at it and to practice more. I rarely make time to practice yoga.  A good teacher has a consistent self practice. What I currently get is a few random poses around the house.

And the occasional Bikram Yoga treat.

2.  To focus on new challenges. A new relatively new triathlete, I am racing my first (2) Ironman distance races this year and Lord, the training is kicking my butt.

I want to be a student too. I am considering additional certifications in the yoga, health and wellness arena. Maybe I’ll just go away to college with him. No, please don’t go. 

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My first is leaving the nest and I am insane over it.

3. To give good attention to current endeavors that give back, can be financially rewarding (I have 2 more to send to college) and also bring me much joy.

They include:

Working with my sister at the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation and SpeakUp5k.

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Writing this blog and for this magazine.

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Grow my direct sales Rodan + Fields (premium skincare brand) business. I love working with wonderful talented people who are helping others love the skin they’re. This will end up being what supports my dream journey…

To living.

To really living.

Yoga Teaching, we’ll get back together when that thing called Time, says it’s okay.

For now it’s okay to say good-bye. I will always love you.

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Him too:

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Dang, it’s hard to say good-bye.

 

 

4 Bits O’ Honey

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When my mindfulness skills are sharp I can find sweet things in the little things but at times that is a tall order.

When I was in my early 20’s I had high expectations about the grande adventures life had in store for me. Single and searching in the early 90’s, I wondered if I’d ever find a mate, have a  cool job, or experience the titillating life I had conjured in my mind. My Mom would tell me to settle down, and suggest there is profound greatness in the present moment,  in the real things right in front of me rather than the yearning for a life not yet lived. If I missed today’s sweet things, I would never appreciate tomorrow’s the view from the mountain top.

So today I present 4 bits of real honey that might make me notice the view of the valley if I let it.

  1. This note.IMG_1265

Here is its author, my first born who leaves for college the fall.

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2. A photo of my Mom and me in 1989 I found buried in a post on Facebook. She died in 1997 and I did not know this photo existed. I  miss her every single day. I do not miss my hair in this picture.

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3. Sportsmanship that makes me want to cry and super proud to be a product of Richmond, Virginia Catholic schools like Michael Gbinije. For the record, I am a huge UVA fan.

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4. A spontaneous wall-sit contest.

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When one is training for one’s first Ironman, one finds opportunity to work-out most anytime.

No one ever argued the sweet feeling of the finish line.

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Huge Bit O’ Honey.