2009, December. Chicago experienced its earliest bout with sub-zero temperatures last week. The bitter sting of the frigid wind slapped every one of us making our daily trek walking up Randolph to our various office buildings on Thursday morning. We are of Midwestern stock. This is nothing new to us who call this city home. Sure, the first taste of it during the season is never pleasant; but, over time, you learn the proper way to bundle up, head out and carry on. So, we continued on walking up Randolph, with a shred of sunshine peeking out, and we moved forward – holding on tightly and breathing in life’s sweet breath.
“Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn. Every day I have to find the courage to walk out into the street with arms out, got a love you can’t defeat; neither down nor out. There’s nothing you have that I need, I can breathe, breathe now.
The roar that lies on the other side of silence.
Alexandra is now an 8th grader and counting down the days until graduation when she will get her cell phone (as well as how many more months until she gets her braces off). Practice just began this week for the upcoming basketball season at St. Andrew. The Bruins had a successful volleyball season this fall, taking first place in the conference tournament. Alex was also named an all-star. For this year’s Chicago Area Lutheran Association’s forensics competition, she placed 1st in Declamation for her rendition of a speech by Indian Chief Seattle.
This past year I set out to reach some big goals in celebration of turning 40 in September. My friend, Jennifer, and I had talked during one of our runs last fall that this would be the year that we would run a half marathon. So, right after the Shamrock Shuffle in March, we started training for the 13.1 Chicago half marathon, which took place in early June. Jennifer had registered for the Chicago Marathon months beforehand and kept asking me to run it; while a few months earlier, my church announced that they were putting together a running team to raise money for frontline HIV/AIDS caregivers in Africa through World Vision. I felt my heart being tugged at. If I was ever going to run a marathon, it was going to be here in my hometown and it would be for a goal. So, after we ran the half, we started the 18-week marathon training program which required a lot of juggling of schedules, support of my family and sacrifice of sleep. I was grateful to have a few other friends running the marathon this year and we were able to provide encouragement to one another through our Facebook wall posts and chats at church. When that morning of October 12th finally rolled around, it almost seemed dream-like. All those months of training were done and it was time to just go out there and run the course. It was a cold, windy, and sunny Sunday in Chicago that day. The crowds that lined the streets were unbelievable. Just seeing all of the people cheering as we made our way through the different neighborhoods and hearing your named called out as you ran by was such a motivating feeling. The last six miles were tough because of calf cramps and the final three were the hardest. I could not have made it without the help of Jennifer who stayed alongside me the entire course. Darrin and the girls met us and different places along the course to cheer us on. It meant so much to see my parents out at Mile 21 and then to have my entire family, my best friend Janice, and the Zabors at the finish line. I ran as strong as I could and through the generous financial support of family, friends, co-workers and strangers, we were able to raise $ 985.00 toward helping to make a different in Africa through World Vision.
Paris in September ... this is where I celebrated my actual 40th birthday. My best friend, Janice, and I decided that we wanted to mark our milestone birthdays with a unique trip. She choose Ireland in ‘07 and I picked France this year. What can I say about the City of Light? It was more amazing than I had imagined. The culture, cuisine, the sights, the sounds ... it is easy to see why so many writers have gone to Paris for inspiration. We stayed in a hotel in the Latin Quarter and from there we set out each day on an adventure. We visited the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay (where my love of impressionism was further deepened); took the train down to Versailles to tour the palace and stroll the vast gardens of the former monarchy; took a cooking class with Chef Pino at Cook'n with Class (which was the highlight of our trip); rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower; walked around Montmartre; toured Notre Dame and Sacre-Coeur; continued our Summer concert tour with another Coldplay concert in Parc des Princes soccer stadium and rode the Metro everywhere! I especially enjoyed my two runs along the River Seine while I was there. It was very surreal and awe-inspiring to be able to take in all of the history and beauty as I wandered the city during my runs there. I will post the rest of the pictures with links to my flickr albums in the days and weeks to come, so check back.
“Breathe” by U2 (Hewson/Clayton/Evans/Mullen)