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AUTHENTICALLY BOLD: REBECCA

BETTER, NOT BITTER

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#BostonMarathon #BostonStrong #TeamEyeandEar #WeRunTogether #cancer #Perseverance #resilience #determination

Forgiveness, A Year Later

With death, one often shares thoughts and memories of a decedent to hang onto their love.  Remembrances of past experiences comfort you with a soft embrace and perhaps, warm your heart or bring a ticklish smile to your face.  For me, little signs and occurrences have been sparking my more positive memories as of late. Negative weight my mind harbors has been slowing wedged out of the way like a plow, leaving behind a glistening, fresh road of positive recollections to relish instead.

My dad passed away in March 2011 and my mother died suddenly in April 2013.  Having had severe medical ailments for most of their adult lives, their deaths were not surprising but they were unexpected.  At first, my feelings were of relief for each of them.  Relief, you ask?  Yes, relief.

My father was wasting away in a nursing home, sharing a room with two other nursing home residents.  In my opinion, one of the most unfortunate ways to spend your last moments here on Earth.  The smell of the nursing home: a bizarre mixture of sanitation, fecal matter, urine, and cafeteria food is strong enough to make my hairs bristle.  The visions of countless old people sitting, biding their time until the Angel of Death swoops in to take their last breath is disheartening as you wonder what their life stories are that led them to this “waiting room”.  The relentless sounds of incessant beeps from a multitude of alarms emanates from room after room after room waiting for the over-stressed staff to come and hit the reset button for the umpteenth time.

My mother, on the contrary, was still living independently, albeit in a senior housing facility.  Despite a life filled with codependency and unhealthy relationships, the final years my mother lived were empowering to her on many different levels.  Instead of wasting away in a trapped room, my mother had a social circle in her apartment building and despite using a scooter to maneuver around, she had suddenly become the most active she may possibly have ever been.  Her apartment was a time capsule when my husband and I walked in with my half-sister (*that* is another blog in and of itself) to take care of my mother’s affairs post-death.  The radio was still playing in the living room, set to the oldies station my mother was so fond of and used to sing terribly off-key to.  The dining room light remained on, with light filtering and highlighting the notepad with her blood sugar results she posted the morning of her death.  Her nearly empty tea cup sat cold next to the pen she used to keep track of those aforementioned diabetic readings.  My mother had plans to return home.  She never did.

Despite a very dysfunctional life, the life I grew up with is *MY* life.  For all the horrible memories I retain, from the searing childhood abuse from my mother and the pressure to be that perfect child from my father; my experiences molded me into the person I became.  See Not All Mothers Are Created Alike and I Miss My Dad.

Last year I posted about Forgiveness. Would I be able to forgive my parents for the behavior and treatment they doled out from the moment they moved in with my young family in late 2003, through my cancer battle in 2007-2008 while pregnant with my third child, to the ensuing years up until their respective deaths?  What has happened in a year’s time, you ask?

Alas, I have not completely forgiven or have I been able to resolve all of my conflicting inner-most feelings about my parents.  While my anger and more so, my disappointment, has lessened with the passage of another 365 days; my ability to completely absolve the words and actions of my parents has not been entirely fruitful.  However, I choose to focus not on the negative feelings that reside within me and instead I find myself carrying out acts that implement the more positive acts of each of my parents.  Instead of letting the harboring weight hold me down, little and effortless acts appear in my weekly routines that allows me to pass along the warm memories of my parents to my young children.

My kitchen has lately embraced the smells of recipes that my mom used to make for me; dishes so warm and *huggy* that my children are now enveloped in Grandma’s love.  Recently, I was compelled to make a spinach lasagna so I drove to the grocery store for the very ingredients that will meshed together a fond memory of my childhood into a full bellies and hearts of my own family.  We talked about Grandma that night.

My boss’s mother-in-law saved a special piece of her homemade South African fruitcake post-holiday after hearing my fond recollections of my dad having a love for fruitcake; an odd trait that was passed along to me.  As I savored the small piece of the holiday delight, each morsel helped navigate my brain waves into the cistern of retrospect and suddenly, it was as if my dad was there enjoying a piece with me.  My kids laughed at me rolling my eyes into my head in enjoyment of this little treat, but they understood that the indulgence of these ingredients meant far more than my theatrics and taste buds would allow.  We talked about Grandpa that day.

My ability to forgive may remain challenged, at least for now.  As I embark on my quest to live more authentically in 2015, there is comfort in knowing that with the passage of time, more and more memory *hugs* (as I like to call them) will surface.  Each reminiscence will envelope me in the love I know my parents had for me; even when they were most challenged to show it to me.  Each recollection will allow me to expand upon my own parenting with my children; offering each of my kids a tidbit of the very threads of my being that is now being woven into their beings.  Perhaps, these offerings will equip my young family in their ability to forgive in their years ahead.

forgiveness

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Why I Run

The 2014 slogan of the Boston Marathon is “We Run Together” as the Boston Athletic Association announced earlier this year.  After the horrific tragedy, the terrorist attack at the finish line of our beloved race; a stretch of pavement where the world comes together in peace every Patriots Day in Massachusetts, we are more determined than ever to rally and demonstrate precisely what we mean by the words #BostonStrong.

ImagePerseverance.  Resilience.  Determination.  Strength.  All words of profound impact that any runner knows deep within his or her heart; and what she defines with each foot that drops in front of the other on every single run. On April 21st, 2014, #weruntogether as athletes, volunteers, fans and spectators to demonstrate the meaning of these powerful words; you, me, the Elite, the newbies and everyone else in between.

There’s the question:  Why do I run?

Why do I run?  The simple answer is because I can.   However, running is something that brings me right back to my twelve year old self, when it all started.  As a seventh-grader, I decided to try track at my little Oklahoma school because everyone just did it.  I discovered I liked running during my soccer team days when I could outrun the boys easily.  My coach put me in the mile run as I had no clue what event I wanted to do at that young age.  Placing 3rd  with a 6:21 finishing time in that mile, in my first track meet solidified that my running days were just beginning for me.

Why do I run?  I will never forget my arrogant self at the age of sixteen lining up for the Annual Christopher’s Pub 10k road race in my now hometown of Leominster, Massachusetts and noticing a man next to me who was going to push his son in a modified wheelchair type stroller next to me.  I was impressed that this man was going to push that extra weight for 6.2 miles, but I figured I would run faster than him without more than a second thought.  Little did I know that man was Dick Hoyt and he pretty much blew my socks off, despite a fast sub-40 minute finishing time for me.  Every road race that I encountered Mr. Hoyt’s presence at thereafter earned him the great deal of respect he deserved and I relished in the joy his son, Rick, displayed by running with his beloved dad as a pure testament to determination.

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Why do I run?  I will never forget being part of an All-American Cross-Country team that ran in Germany.  Imagine being fifteen years old and warming up in the Olympic Stadium in Munich for a 10k race around Olympic Park.  Knowing the history of the 1972 Olympics and what awful events transpired on the property before I was born; and yet, being able to represent my country alongside of countless other countries in my race was resilience.  Eating a fresh, homemade bratwurst after hearing chants of “USA, USA!” while I finished my race is a priceless memory forever tucked in my book.

Why do I run?  I will never forget my high school and college teammates asking me if I would get electrocuted as I quickly whipped my hearing aid out in countless rainy practices and long runs in the elements (I quickly asked them where I was plugged in, what source of electricity would shock me from my battery operated hearing aid).  Losing my hearing at age four and being told I would not play sports afforded me the resilience necessary for adaptation in what could be a cruel world.  As bullying ensued about my hearing loss, I simply showed them I could run faster and harder.  You tell me I cannot and I will show you I can.

Why do I run?  I will never forget the day I was told I had breast cancer while fourteen weeks pregnant with my third child.  Somehow I got very much caught up in making a living and I was forgetting to live my life.  My cancer diagnosis and my unexpected third child forced me down a path that I had not planned for and new limitations were being doled out; whether by my medical team or the very treatments and surgeries that saved my life.  I lost control of my health.  I run to regain control of my health.  I push myself through physical limits afforded by long runs, hilly runs, cold or hot runs, and wet runs to show myself that limits are meant to be pushed and broken through.  I endure through my Crossfit workouts because it allows me to continue to push those limits and it makes me a better runner.  I run for each of my beloved friends who have succumbed to their cancer.  When I start to break down and feel like I cannot do it, I simply remind myself that Cara cannot or Jackie cannot, so I better get my act together because I CAN!

ImageWhy do I run?  I will never forget April 15, 2013.  I will never forget the pain in my heart once I read the breaking news that our race in Boston was bombed.  I will never forget the confusion, the disbelief and the suffocating fear I experienced as I came to realize the act was of terrorism and how many people were killed, injured and impacted that very day.  I immediately started following the stories of Roseann Sdoia, Celeste and Sydney Corcoran, Jeff Bauman, JP and Paul Norden, and the Martin Family.  Watching as these survivors employed every ounce of perseverance, resilience, determination and strength in the ten months that have followed since last year’s Boston Marathon.

Why do I run?  Because I can.  I may shuffle through many of the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston.  I may endure blisters, cramps and more discomfort.  I will not break any speed barriers.  However, I will cross that finish line and I know I will have run with my heart (despite what my legs may try to say).

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Perseverance.  Resilience.  Determination.  Strength.

I am fortunate enough to have earned a number for this prestigious race by being a part of Team Eye & Ear from the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary.  Mass Eye & Ear not only treated many of the injured from last year’s race, they are on the breaking edge of treatments for those with hearing and sight impairments from many different causes, including head and neck cancers.  I was incredibly intimidated by the daunting fundraising goal Mass Eye & Ear set for me, but I knew that with some of the traits I inherited from my own ordeals of adversity, I would seek out to blast past this fundraising “limit”.  Thanks to so many of YOU who wish to take this epic marathon journey with me, I am at mile 23.4 of my epic fundraising goal.  Yes!  I not only met the original goal set by my Team, I have surpassed it and I remain a mere 2.8 miles from my monetary finish line.  Because of your belief in me, because of your determination in helping me cross that beautiful finish line on Boylston Street, we will be changing the lives of so many that come through the doors at Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary.  Because we can.  http://www.crowdrise.com/teameyeandear/fundraiser/rebeccasoulliere

Why do I run.  Because I can.  Won’t you join me?  Because YOU CAN.

#weruntogether (Yes!  That’s Dick Hoyt and his son, Rick, still running together nearly twenty-four years after I first encountered him on the streets of Leominster!)  http://youtu.be/VWIafnuZ9JY

Here are some beloved “Why Do I Run, Because I Can” memories:

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