Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Excerpt Snippet One

I am working on a piece of fiction, which is based upon a true story.  My true story. It promises to be raw and honest.  Names changed to protect the innocent and all that jazz.  It is a story from my heart that I feel I must write.  I plan to share little snippets as time goes by.....I hope you enjoy...Michelle

An Excerpt, Snippet One

It's the same dream.  I'm wearing a long, floating, white sundress.  My long hair is being whirled about by the wind as I run down the beach terrified.  My bare feet sting as sharp shells dig into my flesh. I turn to look back at my pursuer who is getting closer. Oh my God he's going to catch me!  I can hear his breathing. His effortless gait and his footfalls are rhythmic.  This is easy for him I think miserably.  He's playing with me.  God.  My breath is ragged but I run on.  Not knowing how I am going to outrun him, my fierce determination to survive pushes me forward.  I turn again to look back and stumble over a large piece of driftwood and fall hard onto the sand.......

I wake up.

The pain exploded in my head and a wave of nausea washed over me.  I keep my eyes closed.  The room was too bright to open them and I knew my head would hurt even more.  Groaning I roll on my tummy and press my face into the pillow willing the pain to go away.  I knew it wouldn't.  I need coffee.

I stretch onto my back and slowly peel my eyes open.  Where the hell am I?  The room was completely unfamiliar as was the man sleeping next to me.  Holy shit.  I sit up, my head throbbing, and slowly climb out of the bed.  My clothes are strewn on the floor leading to the door, but my shoes and purse are nowhere to be seen.  Shit.  I pick up my panties, my black silk dress, my red scarf and slowly open the heavy door.  The apartment was enormous, the floor a dark hardwood, the furniture white and beige.  Nice digs, I think.  Who the hell is this guy?  How the hell did I get here?  I stumble down a long hallway. My plan was to find a bathroom as far away from the bedroom as possible. I did not want to wake him up.

I enter a large open great room, with floor to ceiling windows revealing the New York City skyscrapers towering over the other side of Central Park.  Ah, of course this place is Central Park West, I mutter.  I find the powder room located off the gleaming granite, stainless steel kitchen and close the door.

Greeting me in the mirror was a wild looking girl, her long blond hair resembling cornstalks after a tornado.  Fabulous.  I get dressed, splash cold water on my face cleaning off the remaining make up from the night before.  I wipe my face onto an unbelievably soft, beige towel that probably cost more than my next paycheck from the newspaper would cover.  I laugh as my father's words rang in my head "you're too pretty for all that make up".  Right, Dad.  I try to smooth my hair somewhat, so as to not scare the doorman when I do the walk of shame through the lobby and out the front door.  God my head hurt.

I exited the bathroom, tiptoeing back into the great room, on the hunt for my things.  Not necessarily in that order.  I did not have the luxury of taking time to enjoy the surroundings, or for my journalistic nature to kick in to get to the bottom on who this guy was.  It didn't matter, I just had to get out of there.  I find my things on the beige sofa, grab them and head for the door.  My Christian Louboutin pumps were lying askew next to the door.  I had gotten them for a steal at a sample sale, yet they had cost me my previous paycheck. Worth every penny.  As I turn the door knob I distantly hear the sound of another door opening.  The bedroom.  He was awake!  I hurriedly step through the door, crossing the small hallway to the elevator.  I had been in the penthouse.

Another wave of nausea hits me, my hangover settling in for the long haul.  It was going to be a long day.

Monday, May 27, 2013


Hello friends!  The weekend is drawing to a close, and the work week looms ahead. I finally have some time to sit down! (I say sit but my laptop is perched on the kitchen island, and I'm standing.)  The beauty of the laptop...I can write anywhere.  I have some free time, I'm in the kitchen so why not stand and write?  I'm too full of energy to settle down anyway. Even when there are several perfectly good, comfortable chairs in plain sight.

I spent some of the evening finishing last week's enormous mountain of laundry, and in between loads took some time to catch up on my favorite blogs. The blogs I follow are diverse and creative.  Inspirational. The posts I perused tonight did not disappoint. Now as night approaches and my fingers play upon the keyboard, my spinning mind is beginning to relax.  I've been going a mile a minute the last week and it feels good to unwind in a little fun writing.  It's Memorial Day, a day I usually spend in the sun relaxing on a lounge chair at the lake with a good book.  This year was different.  It just didn't happen. Many contributing factors as to why, but I'll save that for another post.  Mainly, for today at least, I was at the mercy of Mother Nature and she had other plans.

There is always next weekend, right?  

Lately, I've felt as if I'm stretched a bit too thin. This is mainly by my own choice, but it has been taxing nonetheless. Work, training, kids, writing....it seems busier every week.

I have been called upon to write several posts and articles the last few weeks, which has been fantastic! It has been an extremely productive and rewarding month of May. It seems I am on a bit of a roll, which is bringing no complaints from me.  I am happiest when I'm busy and in motion.

Additionally, I'm working on a piece which I am literally pouring my heart and soul into. Writing this piece has been spiritual, in that I am writing about something near and dear to me...Me. A subject I know intimately well, yet is morphing over time. This process has been therapeutic, however as I look my skeletons in the face it has also been a little daunting, and at times draining. Yet I am compelled to continue.  I can't explain it, (at the risk of sounding cliche')  but it is what it is.  Writing this particular piece is what I feel I am called to do.  I am right where I need to be at this present time.

I'm going to share a little secret with you.  I have not always been such a good girl, as I now appear.  There are more than a few skeletons. Cliffhanger....

I am writing with the intent to share one day, yet I'm writing it mainly for me. As for the what, when, how and why? That answer will come in time.  I'm being patient and gentle with myself for the first time in many years. The timing is just right. Words are coming, that's all I know.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend. The serious nature of this Memorial Day holiday is not lost on me. I spent some silent meditation time this morning reflecting on my many blessings, and in gratitude for the sacrifices many have made for my freedom.

Freedom...specifically my freedom to speak my mind, leaves me eternally grateful.  Stay tuned...

Monday, May 20, 2013


I sit at the edge of the pool with my feet gently swirling the cool water.  The pool is quiet, with no other swimmers present. Just the way I like it. There is only the lifeguard perched in her chair, her face pensive. She is probably wondering if I'm ever going to jump into the water. I ignore her and return to my thoughts, my legs continuing the slow circles. I have a 3800 meter workout ahead and I intend to take my time. My swim time is precious. The long lengths of the pool are measurements of my gratitude, time to reflect on my day/week, time for decision making or to simply sort through my jumbled thoughts. I pull my goggles over my eyes and slip into the pool. As I glide through the water I relax.

Prior to beginning my transformation into a triathlete several years ago, I was a runner and a cyclist. I got my start in multi-sport by competing in the duathlon, which is a run-bike-run race. I was soon itching to take multi-sport to the next level, the triathlon, or swim-bike-run.  How hard could that be? I just had to re-aquaint myself with swimming. Which I thought would be a piece of cake.

I swam competitively when I was younger. My stroke of choice: the backstroke.  To me, everything about gliding through the water on my back was poetic.  Rhythmic, fluid motion sluicing through the water, eyes to the sky. When I raced, I loved the adrenaline. I thought translating that, even after all these years, to triathlon would be a natural progression.

Boy was I in for a surprise. Triathlon swimming is a world apart from straight competitive swimming. The tricky part about swimming in a triathlon is, one has to swim forward as throngs of other swimmers are volleying for the same spot in the same body of water. You do not have a lane to yourself, but you are in a pack.  There is kicking, splashing, and on many occasions you either swim over another swimmer...or they swim over you. The only time I would utilize the backstroke would be if I was in a panic and needed to catch my breath.  Fast freestyle is the name of the game in triathlon.  

This is where I was immediately humbled.  I had to learn how to correctly swim freestyle. Basically, this meant I had to start over. Learn the basics.  I sought the assistance of a swim coach, and for $30/lesson I did just that. She put me in basic training. Drills, drills and more drills. To say it was frustrating wouldn't do the experience justice.  Once again, I was asked to be patient.  I hung in there, did the drills, and eventually swimming freestyle became natural to me. Breath and movement. I likened it to practicing yoga.  I graduated from the pool to open water swimming, then three years ago I took on the triathlon.  I was immediately hooked. I am content when training for a race. And it all starts with the swim.

When I swim today, it is a pleasure. It relaxes me and stretches out my tired muscles.  Of course there are days, like today when the swim is only relaxing for the warm up and cool down, and sandwiched in between is hard work.  But I love it.

It is a metaphor for life.  Sometimes I just have to get back to the basics.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Reality Check

Today was a wonderful day! I am feeling renewed. Taking positive action does the trick every time. In order to face the adversity I wrote about yesterday, I saddled up and indulged in a little two wheeled therapy.

I was joined by my coach and two other triathletes for a planned 30 mile ride incorporating intervals.  When we started out I protested the added sprints claiming "I wasn't feeling it".  I was still feeling a bit down. I expected a pity party. My coach wasn't hearing it. She informed me that I'm doing the intervals like it or not. No pity party for Michelle. She reminded me that I had expressed to her just that morning that I wanted to replace my sadness with something uplifting, like a good workout.  Great...me and my big mouth.

You know what?  Turns out a good kick in the ass was just what I needed. It was a definite reality check. It works far better for me than hand holding. I was reminded that I'm stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for. A little sweat, adrenaline and pushing out of my comfort zone, and I was out of my funk.  I was back in control of me.

Not to mention a teensy bit spent.

I don't have to sit in my sadness. What I have to do is move. Literally and figuratively.  I know this, but it's so easy to forget and become complacent. That was so yesterday...this is today. I kicked complacency to the curb!  

We finished the hard work and relaxed into a steady pace (18mph) for the return trip. We engaged in laughter and conversation and I was reminded how very lucky I am. My life is filled with wonderful friends (who get me) old and new, a supportive family and so many blessings.  I get to work when I want and be free to indulge in my little cycling/triathlon obsession.  We chatted about our family, upcoming races and our plans for training. The smile returned to my face, my eyes twinkled (happiness or allergies?) and I felt like myself.  Happy.

The rest of the day was spent with my kids. I went shopping with my daughter and then we picked my son up from lacrosse practice.  It was peaceful enjoying their company on the drive home.  They were both in silly moods and we joked and laughed. Good stuff.

My daughter's surgery is scheduled for Monday, June 10.  I have pulled out of my first triathlon, which was slated for June 9 in Kansas. I need to be in Indianapolis. I am in acceptance, and this time the acceptance comes in the right way. She is my priority. It was a no brainer. We are very optimistic that all will go well.

We can easily get off our game from time to time. It's part of being human. For me, I just have to remember that when this happens I don't have to be so hard on myself. I need to alleviate stress by taking time to engage in an activity to get out of myself, such as cranking my bike to 26-30mph. The release of endorphins is a proven mood enhancer!  Then I need to relax.  Meditate. It's a balance.  I love to push my body to it's limits, yet know I must be careful with my soul.

As I lounge in bed writing, I feel that I am correctly placed on my proverbial teeter-totter today. My inside matches my outside, as it should.

I want to give  special shout out to my coach, Catherine. Her strength is to be admired and emulated, and being in her presence was just what I needed today.  Also to my good friends Lisa and Monika who are always there for me and to Marcy, who I got to know a little better today. You all brought sunshine to me today and reminded me that I'm amazing.  (If I do say so myself).

It's great to be back!
Peace, out

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When is Acceptance too Much

When is acceptance too much?  I'm finding myself in a position of complacency in certain areas of my life, and I don't like that.  To be complacent translates to stagnancy.  This is preventing me from putting forth my true self. In realization of this, I find myself at a crossroads.  Do I continue on or do I pull myself back to a place of balance?  I think we know the answer to that question...

Let me elaborate.  There is a person in my life who is very important to me. This person appears in my life from time to time, stays for a bit then inevitably pushes me away.  It's almost as if it's a game to them.  I'm quite certain it isn't, but sometimes it seems as such. It really hurts. I fall for it every time and it frustrates the hell out of me. I am an intelligent person. I can see the writing on the wall very clearly, yet I pretend it's not there.  I keep hoping things will change and the relationship will be different.

However, when does hope cross the line to foolishness?  It seems I have become a doormat. I am always there, always eager to embrace.  I find myself repeating the same thing over and over expecting different results; insanity.  Being in acceptance of something beyond my control is the way I've chosen to live my life today, but in this instance am I approaching acceptance in the manner I should?  Or am I using it as a tool to cling to an old idea or belief that something will change?

Well, as soon as I put that down on paper t's as if a light bulb flickered on in my mind.  I deserve more.  I deserve to have respectful, genuine relationships with family and friends.

There comes a time in life where I have to take off my emotional blinders and get tough.  Acceptance becomes too much when I begin to accept treatment that is actually detrimental to me.

The inevitable disappointment that comes with this relationship breeds bitterness in me. Oh, it hurts. I have cast myself as the victim once more. I protest being placed in that role, yet I'm allowing it to happen. The expression "we teach people how to treat us" rings true. I have been weak and have taken the "wait and see" approach, rather than having strength in my own convictions, which further frustrates me. I have not been recognizing this, even though friends and family have repeatedly pointed it out. That changes today. Writing this post is helping me to sort things out. Things that I haven't necessarily wanted to face. I'm putting facts around the situation and am facing it now.

I'm not letting go of hope, as hope is ingrained in my soul.  I'm an eternal optimist, as you probably know. Hope is even tattooed on my wrist.

It is wonderful to have hope, have faith that a positive outcome will be forthcoming.  But hope must be tempered with intellect and positive action.

Acceptance over what I cannot control is important, but it has to be balanced.  Faith without works is dead (James 2:17).  Without action, hope departs.

Life is a delicate balance.  What brings authenticity to my life today is the ability to catch myself, pinpoint the issue and take action to put myself back on track.  I don't have to stay bitter or in resentment today. That's powerful.  With this balance, I can once again break out of the victim role and recapture the strength that is my very core today.

Journal entry: 101

Thank you for listening.  Peace, out

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Night Bliss

I'm soaking in a tub full of bubbles. I sink into the bath luxuriously, the piping hot water relaxing my sore muscles, while the titillating scents of honey and peonies tickle my nostrils.  Gentle music plays from the bedroom and I close my eyes in reflection, happy to indulge in my solitude.  My dog wanders into the room, momentarily interrupting my thoughts with his nails tapping the hardwood.  He plops down next to the tub and stares at me, attempting to unnerve me with his soft, brown eyes. He is most likely willing me to rise and give him his dinner. I laugh out loud and whisper "not right now Frank".  As if in understanding he saunters into the bedroom and jumps onto my bed, assuming his usual position.

It has been a chaotic week, filled with peaks and valleys. A busy time, a joyous time, a stressful time.  At the moment it all seems to disappear into the steam of the room.  I feel peaceful.  Spiritual.

I noticed a change in myself this week. A sense of calm amidst swirling emotions of life. Things that had been muddled became clear.  Stress that would have driven me mad with worry seemed to actually calm me. Strange, but clarity was mine. Some might say it was a spiritual awakening. I would have to say, I agree.

I consider myself a very spiritual being.  The hellish torment of my past has led me to this point. I frankly do not think I would be alive today if left to my own devices. I was a skeptic, however spirituality found me at my lowest point.  Everything changed.

We are in the midst of a health scare with my daughter. She has had recurring pain in her knee for a couple of years.  In 2010, an orthopedic physician ran some tests and a small fragment was found in her knee. Minuscule, possibly a calcification.  Physical therapy was prescribed. In recent months the pain has returned and it has significantly worsened. On Monday we returned to the doctor, where test results revealed that the small lump in her leg had grown into a much larger "tumor". The doctor recommended I take her to a tumor specialist, and made a referral. My mind immediately went to the "what if's".  I was very concerned.  Then, as we walked out of the doctor's office, something unusual happened. I suddenly had a sense that everything would be alright.  My daughter was panicked, but I calmly guided her and reassured her that we would handle this. I held her hand and told her I was going to do whatever I could to be there for her, help her and love her.  And I felt a sense of peace. Through my reaction, my daughter was soothed.  A couple of days later we saw the specialist, who relayed to us that in his vast experience with similar tumors he was very convinced it was benign.  She will undergo surgery and the mass will be biopsied.  The doctor was confident and full of composure and my daughter was put at ease.

Since childhood I've been a worrier. Today I am not worried. Negative emotions do not have a place in my life right now. I glance across the room and peer at my reflection in the large wall mirror. The candlelight illuminates a face that is soft and not fraught with worry. I smile at my reflection, and like what I see. This is a spiritual experience. A new beginning.

The water cools, the bubbles have disappeared.  I emerge from the bath tub feeling rejuvenated.  Ready for the weekend.  Quality time. I plan to make the most out of every second.  No mountains, no races...just time with family.

Happy Mothers' Day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Raining It's Pouring...

I registered for the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge on December 12, 2012. My training since then has been mainly geared toward climbing hills to prepare myself for cycling in the mountains. I trained diligently for 5 months, largely indoors in the winter then bundled up for outdoor rides during the cold spring months. As time progressed, my excitement was building. The week prior to our departure was a whirlwind as my thoughts became consumed with the upcoming event.

Cycling is an extremely dangerous sport. In the saddle of the bike you are vulnerable and susceptible to peril by wind, rain, dogs, cars, mistakes by other cyclists, distraction, stupidity of oneself, etc.  The list is endless. Cycling puts me in dangerous situations every time I ride.  I frequently ride solo for long periods to train for triathlons. I also ride in packs with other cyclists at dizzying speeds with our wheels inches from each other in a pace line.  I will climb, then hurtle myself down the other side at speeds of 35-40mph. All are dangerous situations in their own right.

I approach cycling with a healthy dose of fear (a.k.a. knowledge of the reality of what could happen.)  I remain diligent at all times.  I refrain from using my phone, do not listen to music, take pictures or fiddle with my gadgets.

The weekend finally arrived, we packed the cars and headed down to Chattenooga, TN as planned Friday morning. We knew the weather forecast was not favorable, but were remaining firm in our belief the rain would pass and we would ride as planned. We hit the expo, picked up our race packets, took fun pictures and had dinner together. The night was filled with nervous tension, laughs and fun. When we woke the next morning, I had all of my gear for the day carefully laid out, my bike was clean and prepped, tires pumped and was in the mindset to ride when we headed down to meet for breakfast at 6am.  Until I looked out of the window, then checked the weather radar.  It was a deluge. Literally. It rained, it was cold and it was dark. The weather forecast had been dismal, and it played out as anticipated.The conditions were horrible. Climbing mountains on a road bike is dangerous under normal conditions, especially the long, very steep downhills. Today's forecast was for highs in the mid 50's, steady heavy rain and very poor visibility. The storm seemed to be locked directly across the three state area and up into Kentucky.

After much deliberation, a large number of cyclists including myself, opted out of the race.  It was the most difficult decision I've had to make in a long time. As an experienced cyclist, I know the risks and I was not willing to succumb to the dangers of riding in such conditions. It seems many who attempted did not get far onto the course before turning back and very few finished the 100 miles. There were 2 fatalities, sadly. Numerous crashes. Cases of hypothermia. I am happy to report that everyone in my group was unscathed.

I was disappointed.  It was devastating that something I had looked forward to for so long was taken by Mother Nature. Things did not go as planned. I tend to still have my issues with wanting to control, so it was a major let down.

However, through it all I rallied and remained positive. Since we returned to Indiana earlier than anticipated, we had the rest of the weekend free. Some of us decided to do a hundred mile ride in Indianapolis on Sunday, to get in the mileage.  It was rainy and windy, but there were no mountains!  We completed the ride safely, and it was a nice consolation to what might have otherwise been a weekend gone bust.

I am grateful for the experience. I grew from this, and will apply this growth to life. Disappointment will come but it's how I handle it that matters. Instead of muscling through and plunging into a ride I knew was dangerous, I followed my gut and opted for safety.  It was the right thing to do. Think before I leap, then handle the repercussions with grace. Keep on moving forward.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Three Mountains

Well, my bike and gear are loaded, my bags are packed and at 7am tomorrow morning I'm off on my next adventure...the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge, in Chattenooga, TN. By now I am sure you have gathered I am a little, shall we say, daring. I see the word challenge and it's too good to pass up.

I love a fast pace line!  Adrenaline anyone?

It seems as if it was just a short time ago, as I was musing about the 2013 race season plans, I may have mentioned this event. And here we are!  It is hard to believe today is May 2 and the season is underway.

I'm ready. I've trained for climbing and I am (for the most part) confident going into this weekend. My goal is to relax and enjoy the day. The only kink in the plan is there is a 70% chance of rain on Saturday. Alas, as always I am putting a positive light upon the forecast and am hopeful for sunshine. (Smile, with fingers crossed.)

I am traveling in good company. I have the great fortune to have made some pretty wonderful friends who share the love for the sport of cycling and triathlon. The group I am traveling with has participated in this event many times in the past, but for me it will be a first. I'm psyched!  In one day we will cycle 100 miles, cover 3 states and 3 mountains with rolling hills in between. The start is in Tennessee, then traveling through a portion of Alabama, part of Georgia then back to Tennessee. The rain will add to the challenge.


I will update you, and hopefully have photos to share after the weekend!  I hope you have a splendid weekend as well, and happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


The irony behind this post is I have a self-diagnosed case of bloggers' block. Symptoms: anxiety, frustration, headache, and the dreaded blank page.  The pristine page mocks me, daring me to string sentences together to form a post worth reading. It's been going on for a couple of days now.

Periodically I find myself stuck in my own head.  Going in circles. I put undue pressure on myself.

I tend to over analyze...

I mentioned my plight to a few blogging friends, and the general consensus was...relax.  Do something other than think about writing.  One blogger suggested I go outside...change my surroundings (I was happy to comply, as the sky was clear, the sun was shining and it was warm.  In short, a perfect day).  Another suggested reading a good book or cooking something special.  Others simply commiserated.  Which amazed me. Low and behold, others go through the same thing! This helped because I was beginning to gravitate toward feeling that I'm the only one who's experienced the phenomenon of the blank page. I discovered I'm not that important.  Shocking (said tongue in cheek). This grounded me. It is the true beauty of a network of colleagues who share my passion for writing. We are all on common ground.

I did something different. I went for a run, got a massage and recharged my creative mind.

In order to burst out of my mental block, I'm just going to write.

Well, perhaps ramble if you will.  The page isn't blank....so it's a start.  Short but sweet.  I feel liberated.

Lesson learned today?  If I'm stuck in a rut, feeling alone....reach out and ask for help.  That is not a sign of weakness.  It is, my friends,  strength.

Peace out.