Be Happy Anyway

Be Happy Anyway
From Brave Girls Club

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Not Last

That's right. I ran/walked  a 5K race today, and I was not last. In fact, I was seventh.

When I signed up for the race, I knew it would be cold, but I didn't expect the icy day that ended up happening. Neither did the race coordinators. As the race date approached, I was watching the weather. It was going to be the coldest day of the month. In preparation, I bought cold weather running gear and kept watching the weather. 

People asked on the race's Facebook page about possible cancellations/postponements, but organizers insisted that the only reason they would cancel would be because of lightning. So I prepared myself for the worst and was definitely going to be bundled. (Two dri-fit shirts, an undershirt, dri-fit sports bra, two pair of leggings, two pair of socks, neoprene gloves, ear get the picture.)

Late Friday night, after I had pulled all the tags off of the gear, I found out the race that WOULD NOT be EVER postponed, was postponed. The organizers were worried about people driving on bad road conditions. Instead, they moved the race to Sunday afternoon.
When I left for the race, I realized that it was actually perfect running weather. Not a lick of heat and no wind either. I wore both shirts knowing that I would have to take off the top layer.

At the rest, I was greeted by several church and work friends. It was a comfort knowing I wasn't running alone. Half way through the race, sure enough, the top shirt had to come off, but I din't want to stop so I did it as I ran. I had to take off an arm band that held my phone, pull the shirt off which had my bib number and tie it around my waist with the number showing on my backside. I had to reattach my armband. So I think if I hadn't had to strip, I would have been a skosh faster. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I will continue running throughout January. The next race is the end of February. I am looking FORWARD to it.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Now that 2015 is here, I find myself reflecting on 2014 and trying to choose a word to direct my life. A lot as happened this year and I want to move on. Since July my main goal was to accept the hand I was dealt. This year I would like to move FORWARD. I know that's what my love would have wanted for me.

So as this year ends I will share with you how I worked through the pain and heartache of Bobby's loss. I kept a daily art journal where I wrote to him and shared with him the things I would have told him on the ride to work and in our evening talks. Here are a few of the last pages I made to help me through.

In the future I hope to use this blog to help me continue in a FORWARD direction. I would like to do that through storytelling, especially stories about my children and the crazy and wonderful things they do everyday. I remember how much joy that brought me during previous trials and I believe that writing will help me again. I also look FORWARD to creating more. I am not sure what form these creations will take, but there will be art journaling and crafts and furniture and many more things. Finally, I will press FORWARD in improving my physical health while running and cooking more for my children. I have Pinterest boards full of things I have been wanting to try. 2015 will be the year I cook more.

So in true Annemarie fashion, this blog will go back to the cornucopia of goodies that span all interests. I may even bring back the music.

Happy New Year. What will you be focusing on this year?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Let's Try This Again

I am not sure how many posts I have started that try to give an example of the craziness known as the thoughts that run through my mind. Let's try again, today.

This morning, I got up early like I usually do to meet my friends for my Saturday morning run. It was still dark out and no one in their right mind is up at this time on Saturdays. I have a new neighbor, and I noticed that the lights are on in their kitchen. However, I don't think anyone has moved in officially. I have seen the owner and her parents working on the yard and such, but no boxes have moved in yet. So I started thinking about all the things that probably needed to be done on her house, and that got me thinking about the things that need to be done on my house.

This led me to think about the honey-do list Bobby had before he passed away. Suddenly I was picturing the hole in the fence and felt sad that he will not be here to fix it. As I was winding my way to meet my friends, I found myself crying. What is wrong with me? How did seeing my neighbor's kitchen lights lead me all the way to mourning the loss of my future life with Bobby?

This happens all the time. I see the homeless man lying under the bridge (whom I have never given too much thought to except to be impressed with the wagon he pulls with his bicycle) and suddenly I am thinking: "Is he okay?" "What if he died?" "Who would know?" "Does he have family?" "OMG - How long was Bobby sitting in that park after he died?" "What if I hadn't called his brother to look for him?" "Would he still have died if I had made him come home that weekend instead of insisting that he stay at home with his kids?" I'm now driving down the highway crying about a homeless man I don't know.

Am I crazy? Do other people's brains work like mine? How do I stop this out of control spiral?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Left Hand to My Right

I took one of those online quizzes on Facebook about which part of the brain I use the most. According to the test I use both halves equally. I posted the results and one of your former bosses and friends, J.S., responded with the comment about being left-handed and being his right mind. This made me laugh because you being left-handed used to make the same joke.

The conversation continued and led to JS sharing an article about engineering and art:
Popular belief is that the left hemisphere of the brain is for rational, analytical and logical thinking and the right hemisphere of the brain processes visual and audio logical stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception and artistic ability.
Oddly enough, you were the logical, rational one, but you could put things together like nobody's business. You never considered yourself artistic until I shared with you the art of Zentangle. You thought I was the creative, artistic one.

This started me thinking about how you and I complemented each other:

  • When we walked together, I would stand to your right leaving our dominant hands free to write, use the phone, whatever.
  • We were both musical. After all, that's how we met in high school. But you admitted that you were jealous of musicians who learned to feel music rather than just play notes on the page. I on the other hand, from a young age, was deeply moved by music. I was even found crying at age three in Macy's department store. My mother asked me why, and I said the music was so sad.
  • You loved Classic Rock and some Heavy Metal while I kept my tastes centered around 80s Pop music. In high school, you could be found rocking out in the garage to Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Boston, Kansas, and the like. Meanwhile, I loved groups like Duran Duran, Toto, Men at Work, Genesis, Chicago. Our road trips found us listening to both and I learned to appreciate your music. Now, I often to turn to the classic rock station on the satellite radio. It often makes me cry.
  • You appreciated that I had an eye for design. Whenever you moved to a new place, you asked me to help you arrange the furniture, pick out wall decorations, and accessories. I was amazed by how spatially inclined you were. There wasn't anything you couldn't put together. You drove a little Mazda 3. Many a time we stood in the Ikea parking lot trying to figure out just how we were going to get home a full-size bed frame, mattress, 4 x 4 Expedit, desk and kitchen paraphernalia. We always got it home.
  • While math was your forté, I found writing to be my calling. But you sure did love books and poetry. I was scrolling through old emails looking for something of you to hang onto and found you had sent me many poems that you had found that spoke to both of our hearts.
  • Speaking of books. You loved audiobooks. I thought this was weird until our first road trip together. We listened to a book about vampires (so not my genre) called The Passage. Then the sequel The Twelve. Then you got me started listening to Atlas Shrugged. Who would have known that you could get me to listen to a socio-political commentary in novel form. (I should probably listen to it again.) Your brother got me listening to more Sci-Fi. This makes me feel closer to you, too.
All this thinking about how you complemented me led me to create a page in the leather journal you bought for me for my birthday last year.

When this page was finished, my inclination was to send you a text about it. You would have given me lots of compliments and told me how you wished you could actually hold that hand. Today, however, it is I who wishes your hand was here to hold. IMYAITOY

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Packing Lunches

You and I were a predictable couple. We woke at the same time every morning, texted good morning conversations until we could no longer procrastinate getting up, followed the same morning routines, griped about morning traffic idiots, texted each other throughout the day, came home every evening and packed our lunches for the next day.

I had a pink lunch cooler and you had a red one. Mine is much worse for wear, but yours stood the test of time.

When you drove home for visits, you would pack two coolers - the lunchbox and a mini Igloo. We learned how to save money while traveling by packing snacks, sandwiches and drinks. You loved my strange whole wheat sandwiches, apple slices, bananas and bean burritos. You fueled your nine-hour drives with bottled water and Dr. Pepper. You loved your Dr. Pepper. Even though you had given them up for Lent on more than one occasion and got on a water kick, you always came back to it.

Today, something made me look up at the top of the fridge where I saw your lunchbox. Immediately, a flood of memories came over me. I had a sudden realization, one that had not occurred to me before this moment: I will never get to make my strange whole wheat sandwiches for you again. I won't get to give you a hard time about Dr. Pepper. We won't wander through the grocery store together searching for the perfect balance of  healthy snacks vs. things you loved to eat like gummy bears and Butterfingers.

Will I be able to use your lunchbox as a replacement for my dilapidated one without having a meltdown? I'm not sure. How many little things am I going to find around the house that will bring me to tears, things I thought I had put out of sight? I find a greeting card, a piece of candy, a shower poof, deodorant, shampoo, mowing sneakers, some little piece of something that you left behind thinking you would be back for it again. The list is endless.

I'm not sure what the formula is for making pain go away. Instead, I think I will make a whole wheat sandwich.

Friday, July 11, 2014


We always used to note when we saw 11:11 on the clock or 1111 in an address. It was our thing. It was something that Peggy had shared with me and I had shared with you. It was our way of letting each other know we were thinking of each other.

When you passed away, I noticed 1111 all the time. It was special but painful. However, little by little, I catch that time less and less. I might see 11:12 or 10:11, but never 11:11. It bothered me for a while, but then I began noticing something else. 12:12 or 1212.

This morning when I got up, these lyrics from an Anna Nalick song (Breathe) came to mind.
"Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So sing it if you understand,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe"
I then got up and went for a run.

When I run, my mind wanders all over the place. I hear song lyrics; I have "woulda, coulda, shoulda" conversations with myself; I complain about the branches on the sidewalk; I wonder why people don't bring in their stinky trashcans…it goes on and on.

On the last stretch of my run, I noticed the address 1212. It gave me a new perspective. 1111 was our thing, our time, our place. We will always have that time, but I am eventually going to have to move on - move forward in time, move forward to another place, a place where I can remember you fondly and without pain. I am naming that time and place 1212. I look forward to that time and place.

In the mean time, IMYAITOY (I miss you and I'm thinking of you.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Cardinal

Every morning on my walks, I see a cardinal. This morning he followed me for quite some time. Although I have my phone with me, I am never fast enough to capture a picture of him. However, it gives me a smile nonetheless. I looked up cardinals today and found this description:

The cardinal tells you that you can handle challenges, and to believe in yourself. It is important to be proud of yourself for your abilities or for the things you have achieved.

This is significant because, you used to tell me how proud you were of me and my accomplishments as a teacher and more importantly as a mother. You always made a point to remind me of everything that I have overcome these past 2 years. That is something I will miss about you.

Things you were proud of for me:

Having the gumption to get myself out of a difficult situation.
Driving a 20 foot moving van while towing the Le Sabre on a flatbed.
Being able to ask for help.
Taking a job that I didn't want so I could take care of my kids.
Getting the job I wanted.
Staying at that job even when it was challenging.
Learning to mow my own lawn.
My creativity.
Deciding that my health was important and wanting to do something about it.
Losing weight - even though you loved me how I was, you celebrated each little victory.
Each time I improved my running/walking time or went a little farther.
Each 5K I entered and completed.

There are so many more times I heard you say how proud you were of me, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind.

I love you. I miss you and I can't wait until the thought of you brings me more smiles than tears.
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