Perseverance. noun: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

A lot goes into training for a half or full marathon. Usually 18 weeks of training, long runs on Saturdays and lots of core strength building. For the last 7 years, my husband has done 2 marathons per year, every year. What started out with a neighbor friend suggesting a run around the development has turned into an obsession. 367 miles of just marathons, let alone the hundreds of training hours and long runs. You can train and prepare and do everything right, but race day is always a wild card. What will the weather be like? Did you “pre-hydrate” enough ahead of time? Did you practice drinking while running? Did you eat the right foods? Are you mentally prepared? To me, marathons are the epitome of perseverance. Today, Cameron completed #14. While it wasn’t his fastest time, he finished. It was warmer than he likes, the humidity was high, and yesterday he twisted his ankle. It swelled up last night to almost twice the size. I asked him if he wanted to skip the race today. That wasn’t an option for him. Perseverance. Today was the ultimate test. He finished. To him, it didn’t seem enough. His time wasn’t good enough. You know who did think it was enough? His cheering section. We had our cowbells ringing the whole time.

I have never run a full marathon. It’s not on my list. I did 4 half marathons & that was enough (maybe). I love my husband, but I don’t share his love of running. He gets jealous when he sees people out for a run…wishing he could be out with them. He gets up at the crack of dawn or long before, inspires and leads others, then goes to school and does more of the same inspiring and leading. He won’t admit it. He’s pretty humble that way. I’ve said it before, but I’m a pretty big fan of the guy.

This past week was homecoming at school. When you go to a small rural school, homecoming week is a big deal. Dress up days every day, & lots of extra games and activities. Our school also does a “chalk fest.” The students get to draw on the sidewalks. This year, a group did a portrait of him in chalk. He was humbled & embarrassed, but it was pretty cool. He had his picture taken by his portrait- he was in a “Mr. Incredible” costume. Yes, yes you are.

There are days when he feels like he doesn’t do enough. (The day following the portrait, one kid wrote that he was mean – he must have said no to them.) We all have days when we feel like we are not enough. I bet, there is someone who thinks you are though. Aside from God, who always thinks you’re enough, there are others. When you have those feelings, ask yourself if you’d say the same thing to your best friend. Would you tell them they were too slow, not nice enough, not a good enough parent? Most likely not. Don’t do it to yourself. Show some love. Look in the mirror & be like the old SNL skit, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.”

Peace be with you on your journey of enough, whether it’s 26.2 miles or not, it will be enough.

Just… It comes up again…

The word “just” had been swirling around in my mind quite a bit over the last week. I kept thinking that I must have written about it before, but wasn’t sure when.  Then this memory pops up on Facebook today from my Caring Bridge journal a year ago. So many similarities, I decided to copy it over. The differences: I’ve now completed another “Go Far Woman” 5K, done another half marathon (yes I did wear an obnoxious pink tutu for #4), and recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. This one word “just” sparked part of the idea for my blog. It’s kind of long, but take a few minutes to review with me…

Journal entry by Mavis Frueh — 9/15/2015
The word “just” is one that I’ve become more aware of in the last year. Mostly because it’s said in a sense of being “less than” or “not good enough”…. 
I “just” had stage 1 cancer

I “just” had a lumpectomy

I “just” had radiation

I “just” did a 5K

Shortly after my last post, I was interviewed for WDAY. They did a story on me because of all that I’ve overcome in the last year, and I was about to do the GoFar Women 5k that weekend. When a long-time friend asked if I could be interviewed for it, I reluctantly said OK. “I don’t feel very inspiring” I said. I did the story anyway, and was glad that I did. The ‘angle’ that they used in the story is about early detection and awareness, and that made me feel good. As I said in the story, I’m not the typical face of breast cancer. I’m 41, I have young kids and a lot of life ahead of me. So if my story gets one (or hopefully a lot) more women to get checked earlier, and they have a chance to catch this early, then awesome. We often sell ourselves short. We are our own worst critics. Many times I catch myself saying things in my head (about myself) that I’d never say to another person. I have to stop and re-direct those thoughts. It’s hard to do. I’ve done 3 half marathons. 3 times I went 13.1 miles in a race, and yet I always started with the phrase “just” a half marathon. It’s not Cameron’s fault – he never rubs it in my face that he’s going to do his 12th FULL marathon – he never makes me feel like it’s not enough. That’s all on me, all in my head. The shift needs to be on the emphasis in the words – from “I JUST did a half marathon” to “I just DID a half marathon!” This is a phrase that I will get to use again next year. As I get stronger and am able to train more, I am confident that I can do it. And I will wear obnoxious pink clothing and perhaps a pink tu-tu… because if it makes another 41 year old realize that this is a disease that doesn’t care how old you are, then I’m MORE successful than whatever my time ends up being. 

In the past year, a strangely large number of people I know have been impacted by breast cancer. A neighbor/friend, co-worker of Cameron’s and neighbor/friend/co-worker’s sister, another friend’s sister, and myself. When you think of the stats, 1 in 8 women get breast cancer- that’s kind of mind-blowing. Do you know more than 8 women? I do. So I guess as I age, the odds of it happening will likely increase. It just seemed odd to hit all at once, within a short span of time, and all of us are younger than you’d expect. Is a mammogram uncomfortable? Yes. But guess what? – It’s less uncomfortable than cancer. It’s less uncomfortable than a mammogram after cancer. It takes maybe 15 minutes max. Take the time for yourself to have this done. October is breast cancer awareness month, so it will be in the news and will be talked about more than it normally is. Use that as your reminder, at least to make the appointment. Do it for yourself, for your kids, your family – whatever the reason, just do it.
Last month, we celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary. 20 years! It happened to be the first day of school and Dallas had Cross Country practice, but it was still nice. I remember the day. I remember how it was the fastest day of my life. All of that planning and it was over in a snap. If you asked us then where we’d be in 20 years, none of this would have been on our list. But it shaped us into who we are today. So when I’m asked “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I don’t have an answer. Why? Because I never imagined 10 years ago that I’d be a cancer survivor today. I will go with the flow more. I will plan less. I will love more. I will worry less. Lots will change in the next 10/20 years. Who knows, maybe I’ll have written a book by then. 10 years from now I could be a mother-in-law. We never know what life will throw our way. But whatever it is, it shapes who we are. Peace be with you today.

How do you explain the bad?

Labor Day weekend marks the “unofficial end of summer.” It also is the weekend of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, MN. I remember going a few times as a kid, since my grandpa had his steam engine there. Ever since our boys were little, we have taken them back to Rollag on Labor Day weekend. This year was no different. After a long run for Cameron and cross country meet for Dallas in Moorhead, we headed out for some old tractors, steam engines, train rides and plowing demonstrations. It was a record crowd on Saturday – probably because it was too windy to be on the lake. The boys had fun & got some walking in too (5 miles/day to burn off the caramel rolls and double ice cream cones!) We went back Sunday to see a little more of the threshing, steam shovels and saw mills. After a windy day of walking around, Cam and Dallas did some fishing off the kayaks (ours and our niece’s.) They pulled them up into the grass and we had a nice campfire. In the morning, they were gone. Someone had taken them in the night. I didn’t know what to say to the kids when they asked, “Mom, who would do something like that?” It was almost like they suddenly realized that not everyone is “good.”

Then the news story of Jacob Wetterling broke… His body had been found after 27 years of being missing. I was just 16 when he was abducted and it changed the way people viewed the safety of “letting kids be kids.” I still thought of Jacob when I had my own kids. How quickly something can happen and your life can change. Patty Wetterling only remembers her son as 11 or younger. Her memories of seeing him stop at just 11 years old… 11. She didn’t get to teach him how to drive, take pictures at his prom or see him grow up. For 27 years, she hoped that he was still alive. How do you explain  all of this to your kids? How do you explain the bad?

My kids have always had a roof over their heads, a bed to sleep in and food to eat. They never worried about being abused or seeing their parents fight. They have been kind of sheltered, I guess. Part of me wants to protect them from all that is bad, but I know I can’t do that forever. I take tomorrow for granted too much. Do you too? I assume there will always be more time… But then my son gets taller than me and talks about driving. I know my time with them is slipping away. Then I remember how blessed I am… I still have my kids with me. My memories of them aren’t frozen in time. It almost makes me want to wake them up and give them a big hug (but it’s 11:30 pm.)

So, although it stinks to have the kayaks stolen, they are just “things.” Things that can be replaced. I still have my two most treasured little guys and I hope I get to see them become men. I still don’t know how to explain the bad to them, but perhaps I can show them how to be good, and maybe that will be enough. Peace be with you on your journey of enough. My thoughts and prayers are with the Wetterling family as they try to process the news of their beloved son. Our hearts ache for you.