Finding My “Why”

This month I celebrate 10 years since reaching Lifetime status with Weight Watchers. 10 years.

Never. Going. Back. There. Again.

These 10 years have not been perfect. Most of these 10 years I maintained at or below my goal weight, but not always. Yet, each time my weight would edge up, I would get back where I needed to be….sometimes it took me a little while, but I always stopped before I went up too much because I WAS NOT going to go back to where I started. And not wanting to feel the way that girl felt, the heavier and unhealthier me, was a powerful motivator to get me back on track.

But, I am an emotional eater. And these past couple of years have been hard. Old habits crept in to give me the comfort I was seeking. But I kept telling myself I wouldn’t go back……I’ve got this…..I know what to do……

I am not at my goal weight.

Wow. That is hard to admit, despite the fact that I have known this, and those I work for have known this. And I have struggled to figure out why I am having such a difficult time losing the weight. Thankfully, I am maintaining….because I will NOT gain it all back!

I have been going to meetings as a member to help me. But for the past two years I have gone to meetings and not weighed….why would I get on the scale at the meeting when I know I am up. And I only needed to weigh “officially” once a month for my job. So…… I kept struggling. There was no real accountability or commitment…….

Then two weeks ago I spent the week talking to the members in my Weight Watchers meetings about their “why”…..that reason for walking through the door and the reason they wanted to lose weight and get healthy.

I shared the reason I walked through the door of my meeting back in 2006. And my reason to continue. I asked my members to rediscover and get in touch with their “why”….. yet, I couldn’t answer the same questions I asked my members.

Here I am, a lifetime member and a Leader for Weight Watchers and I was struggling to find my “why”.  

And I didn’t understand how I could not know my “why”…… until yesterday when I had my epiphany, and it clicked with me that I needed a ”why”….I needed to remember the reason I started, the reason I continue, but more importantly, I needed to have a new “why”….one to motivate me to get back to the healthy me I wanted to be and one to motivate me to get to the personal goal I had set long ago, and never reached.

But no matter how hard I tried, I could not answer that question.

So, I decided to start with accountability and with the mindset of a new member. And last week I went to my meeting, at a location where the members do not know me or that I work for Weight Watchers (I need the anonymity) and I stepped on the scale.

I. STEPPED. ON. THE. SCALE.

Boy was that a big smack upside my head.

I knew what it was going to say. I knew. But seeing it written in my weigh-in book, the tears started. Crap! What have I done to myself? How could I do this to myself? I was so mad at me. And disappointed in me. My leader was amazing in that moment. She “got” it. She knew what I was feeling. No lecture. No questions. No judgement. I remembered in that moment how safe those meetings feel for me. And how much I need them—for the accountability, for the support and for the judgement free zone.

Okay. Done. Now to get back to where I want to be. And that meant doing the next step….tracking my current weight in my Weight Watchers app, which I have not done in a really long time. Another smack upside my head. That day was becoming a “reality-hit-you-upside-your-head” kind of day. But I needed it!

This week was better but still hasn’t gone as planned….why? Because I was still struggling to find my “why”. Still struggling to keep tracking….hmmmm…….and then……

AHHH! Epiphany! I realized yesterday, in one of my many conversations with myself, that I wasn’t finding my “why”, because I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wasn’t being honest about where I was and what I had been doing. Stepping on the scale helped me to see the reality, but I still needed to quit hiding. Yes, hiding from the truth of it all and I needed to stop pretending that everything was great and that I was at my goal.

How can I find my “why” when I was not facing the whole picture and telling myself everything was fine? Kind of hard to get in touch with a “why” when you don’t think you need one.

THAT was my epiphany!

And then my “why” showed up. I want to get back to my goal weight and to my personal goal because I want to be around for my grandchildren that will one day come into this world….but I don’t just want to be alive—I want to run with them, get down on the floor and play, skip with them, swim with them, hike and camp with them… I want to be able to take them on trips and dance at their weddings. Yes, I am looking far into the future…..but if I continue on the path I am currently on, even if I stay right here and maintain, I won’t get to that far off future with the grandkids I hope to have one day. I need to look to the future, I need to dream about the things I want to do—hiking with my husband for our 50th wedding anniversary, traveling, and living to be 100—a healthy, vibrant and active 100-year-old. I am getting older, the arthritis is setting in, and I know that getting to the healthiest version of me will make all the things I dream of possible.

There is my “why”.

And once I found it, my week went better…. Tracking, mindset, food choices all were healthier because of my epiphany that led me to my why.

I am taking the leap and looking forward to a healthy, active and very, very long life.

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Finishing is Winning! My first 10K

It was Valentine’s Day, 2017, and I don’t think I had fully thought through the choice I had made. My foot was still bothering me, but there was hope it would get better and I needed to do some training and lose some weight to meet this new goal….but I pressed submit and signed up for the Disney World 10K for January 5, 2018 during Disney’s Marathon weekend.

I could do this. I had a plan.

I was going to walk, fast. I knew that. And it meant I needed to get back into fighting shape….I wanted to complete the 10k at a 13-minute mile pace…. I could do that…. After all, when I was younger I had completed a 5k at a 13-minute mile pace…. (but I am a little older now…ugh!)

The year went on and life got in the way.

So did fear.

I feared the pain in my foot returning and every little twinge since last February made me contemplate not being able to complete this race.

But I kept planning for the race…. Not really thinking about the complete picture and what it meant for me.

Not only was there fear about my foot and my back acting up, but there were some other deep-seeded fears beginning to bubble to the surface…and I kept pushing them aside, ignoring them.

After all, I had a plan—

–train for the 11 months leading up to the race

–follow what I know and love about Weight Watchers and drop the 20+ lbs I wanted to lose

–get to the race and get in the front of the corral to create a buffer between me and the 16-minute mile pace balloon ladies (the ones who pass you and then you get picked up because you couldn’t keep up the pace, but I wouldn’t have to worry about it because I would have a buffer and I would be going faster….)

–And finish!

And then January 2018 arrived and I decided my goal this new year would be to continue to step outside my comfort zone, to try new things and to continue to take the leap. And little did I know when I signed up for this 10k back in February that it would test all of this and more…..

I don’t like to do things on my own, especially things that I have never done. Yes, I go shopping and travel alone. I have done a lot on my own, but each time was a test for me to push myself outside that comfort zone and to see what I was capable of. The thought of doing something on my own scares me, makes me anxious, and has my mind finding excuses to NOT do those things. And though I have done things on my own, there are still some things I cannot do—go to a movie alone, go to a restaurant alone….. It is just completely outside my comfort zone……

And this race was testing me, scaring me and making me anxious. As we packed for the trip I realized I was going to be doing a 10K alone….sure there would be thousands of others out there with me, BUT I wouldn’t know them. I had never done this! I would be alone. I have walked this distance and more with friends and family….but…..never alone.

My mind was trying to find ways out of it….I was just getting over the flu. My foot might “pop” again. What about my back? It is going to be FREEZING!!

And then this morning arrived.

My husband drove me to the start at Epcot and walked me to the corral area. I was a NERVOUS WRECK!

Remember that plan I mentioned that I had when I signed up for this race….well…….

–I didn’t train. No. Not. At. All. Life just got in the way

–I didn’t lose the weight. Not. One. Ounce. Life got in the way

–I was in the LAST corral. And tried my best to get toward the front. I was somewhere in the middle of the corral….until……..

The race had started.  I waited for my corral to get the chance to go. We were last. But I could see a lot of people behind me. A LOT! And then the corral began to move to the start and they broke us into two waves. I knew I was far enough ahead in the coral that I would start with the first wave and create that buffer…..until……..I looked behind me…..there were only about 50 people there.

WHAT??? HOW did that happen?? I was now at the very back of the racers, thousands ahead of me…..and the balloon ladies were right behind me. CRAP! There goes my plan for a buffer!

And we were off. I took off. I didn’t look back. I focused on those in front of me, picking one person to pass. And then another one. And another. I was going to put space between me and those pacers and create a buffer.

I felt good. The first mile done. Then the second. And I knew that when I reached the 3 mile mark I would be almost half way done and would be in World Showcase in Epcot. As I turned the corner and saw the flames in World Showcase I knew I was half way done. I could do this!

I had passed a lot of people and with a quick glance back I felt I was doing well. So, I stopped for what should have been a quick bathroom stop…….and there was a line……..and that quick bathroom stop turned into minutes……..and I was finally leaving the bathroom, just as the bicyclist stopped to tell all of us in the bathroom we were now BEHIND the pacers…….

Ugh! That bathroom stop.

There went the last bit of my plan.

I was NOT going to let it stop me from finishing. So, time to adjust. They were 1 ½ minutes ahead of me at that time. Okay. I hadn’t come this far to ONLY get this far! I was going to FINISH this race ahead of the pacers!!

And I left that bathroom and ran.

Yep. There went the plan to just walk.

No training and now I was running (slow, but faster than my walk!)

I could see the ladies ahead of me. I had to stop running and walk fast for a bit, but even walking I was gaining ground. And then I ran again, getting very close. I could hear their conversation. I walked a minute and then ran again. I ran right past them. Me! I RAN right past those pacers. Now, to create some distance between me and those balloon ladies.

I focused on one person at a time to pass.

We ran around the boardwalk and then back into Epcot.   Mile 5 done! And when I looked back, I couldn’t see the ladies. I was building that buffer and passing a lot of people. Walking fast with short moments of running.

And then mile 6.  Emotions started building.

Only .2 miles to go. The longest .2 miles ever.

I rounded the corner. There was the finish line. Yes! I was going to finish!

And I jogged across that finish line! I did it! As I crossed the finish line, I told myself just how proud I was of ME!

I am not often proud of myself, really proud. This morning I was proud. I had pushed past the fear. I had pushed past the discomfort. I had silenced the excuses and negative thoughts. And I DID IT!

I DID IT!!

My husband was there at the finish waiting for me. The look on his face when he saw me, the pride in his eyes……brought me to tears. My husband believed in me even when I didn’t and he knew I could do it, even when I doubted. That hug was the BEST hug ever!

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I did it! I realized that by pushing myself out of my comfort zone I am so much more capable than I thought, I can do so much more. I can accomplish a goal even when the plan gets derailed. And when faced with the possibility of not finishing what I started, I found that my determination will get me there. I won’t quit! I will succeed!

I took a chance. I took the leap and I finished!

 

2017 Reflections

In a few short hours it will be a new year here in Arizona.

The end of a year is a time of reflection…..what went well, what didn’t….the joys, the sadness, the challenges, the losses and the lessons learned…..all reflected on during these last few hours of the year.

I have been more than ready to let go of 2017 and move into 2018. This year was difficult and filled with many challenges. I spent more time in courts and doctors’ offices than I care to ever do again. I spent a lot of time talking to medical, psychological and addiction professionals while trying to navigate a very frustrating system. And I have learned a lot about myself, my strength, my capabilities and about my family during this past year.

So, yes, I am ready to move on and leave all of this behind, looking forward to continued progress and continued healing.

I have been writing in my journal a lot these past few days, as I reflected on the past year…..writing a lot about the pain and fears….the loss of my friend….the challenges that faced my son and my family…..and then my thoughts started moving in another direction.

You see, living through this past year, well it was always with me, there in the back of my mind as I tried to enjoy the moments and time with my family and friends….addiction and mental illnesses and all that goes with them hang over our lives like a storm….always waiting for the next round. And even when things were going well, it was hard to not notice it hovering there, in the corner waiting to strike again. And that is what I kept writing….. and still it hangs there….but……

As I sit here reflecting on the past year, my thoughts are moving in different direction. The joy is beginning to outweighing the pain. There was much to celebrate this past year. There were happy times, even in the midst of immense pain. There was joy, travel, adventures, family time, and a wonderful wedding. And there were moments….tiny and large….when the joy took over…… small times when I could leave it all behind and just enjoy……

This slideshow has some of the moments from 2017 that brought me joy…..and the highlight of the year was the wedding of my youngest son to the love of his life, the one time in 2017 when I was able to leave all my fears and worries behind and really enjoy the celebration for a few days.

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And that is what I want to reflect on now, in these last few hours of 2017….the joy, the happiness and bright lights found in otherwise dark days. And as I move into 2018, I am looking forward to more light, more joy, more moments of happiness and lots of healing.  And I will remember, that even in the midst of the storm, there is always a rainbow…a light at the end of the day.  There is always something to smile about and to enjoy if I just take the time to notice.

I don’t make resolutions anymore, because, well….I am NOT good at keeping them. So, instead, the past few years I have focused on mantras and mindsets…..challenges, really, that help me to continue to grow and learn and help me to continue moving toward a better version of myself.

To that end, 2018 will be the year I continue to step outside my comfort zone, to try new things and to say yes more! My focus will be to “live in the moment, present and mindful” and to “let go and let God”.

I will continue to look for those moments that not only bring a smile to my face but make my heart sing….even off-key!

And I will continue to take the leap and just breathe!

Shouldering the Load

How much weight can one person’s shoulders carry?

The past couple of years, and specifically the past 21 months have shown me just how strong my shoulders are…..and how much stronger they are when the load is shared with another and when I trust in God.

March 2016……my husband’s birthday weekend, one of the worst weekends we had had in a really long time….years actually. That weekend, we couldn’t reach our son. He didn’t come home. He didn’t answer his phone. And after a couple of days, we decided to try tracking his phone through our carrier…..and that is when we discovered his phone was more than an hour from us, so I called again. This time it was answered by a stranger…..my son’s phone had been found on a garbage can in the parking lot of a casino and the person took it with them. We spent the next few days talking with the police, and driving….hours of driving trying to find our son….up and down every lane in the parking lot of the casino where his phone had been found, looking for his car……hours driving city streets in areas we knew him to have been……hours texting and calling his friends and no one had seen or heard from him……and many sleepless hours. And then we feared the very worst, we would never see our son again……..and then he called. Relief. And anger when he told us his crazy story.

That weekend began 21 months that showed me just how strong I can be. The beginning of months of disappearances and worry. Months of having him home then asking him to leave. Months where weeks at a time we had no idea where he was, or if he was alive or dead. Months of fearing the knock on the door and the ring of our cell phones. Months of dealing with the darkness of addiction. Months of dealing with the justice system…arrests, court appearances, probation visits…….

And today, finally, relief……

My son has been under the threat of prison time since last April, when the system decided to file more charges from earlier arrests. And those charges started months of stress for him and for us…. Probation violation and the nightmare that followed in Yavapai county, then the threat of prison. In September, my son decided not to accept the plea deal to go to prison….. and he opted for trial.

More stress. Worry. Fear.

The last nine months had my son finally at a point that was positive in his life. He had completed intensive outpatient drug treatment. He was present and working on staying clean. He had monthly random drug tests that kept coming back clean.

But the threat of prison weighed heavily on him. And that stress sunk him deep into the dark hole of depression and severe anxiety. I was scared. We were beginning to lose him again, but this time to depression not drugs.

My shoulders were sagging under the weight of all that had happened and the weight of the fear and worry while watching helplessly as my son sunk deeper and deeper into that black hole.

And then things started to look up, positive things were happening……an emergency visit to a real psychiatrist had my son hopeful, finally being put back on medication he had been without for a couple of months. Hope. Relief.

And then a letter in the mail a few days ago, one that may have upset another, but for us…..relief. My son had gone through an evaluation for mental health services and was accepted, his mental health illness severe enough to warrant real help…..finally! Someone listened. Someone saw what we were seeing. Someone heard my son and knew he needed help. Hope. Relief. Weight lifting for all of us.

But we were still facing today, a court appearance for sentencing. The choice to go to trial gave my son another chance for treatment and not prison. They offered him a much better plea deal, one that would not send him to prison and one that dropped the charges from 2016. He accepted the new plea deal last month.

And today we were back in that courtroom in front of the judge. It was a long morning. Stress. Worry. Fear. And then my son was standing in front of the judge. And when she told him she was sentencing him to 3 years probation…..the weight I had been carrying suddenly lifted. I didn’t hear the rest of what the judge said.

Everything these past 21 months, every moment of fear, worry, anger…..every moment that sought to destroy me, to destroy my family……. It suddenly bubbled to the top…… I wasn’t sure I could walk out of there in that moment.

Relief overcame me…..

This chapter is over. And in that moment, as the weight on my shoulders lifted, I realized just how much I had carried….. and wondered how I had done it…… How did I manage to still get through a day at work? How did I wake up each morning and get through my day? How did I manage to take those trips that needed to be taken? How did I stay afloat when the weight was trying to drown me?

I have heard many times that “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” True. I am stronger, much stronger than I ever thought I was. And I can do so much more than I ever imagined. I have traveled a road I never imagined I would find myself on…… and now I get ready to help my son navigate this new road, one that is leading him toward hope….. hope for a life without drugs….. hope for a life with some meaning…… hope for a life where he does not live in fear and where he can find peace.

And I know that I did not carry this load alone.

How much can one person’s shoulders carry? It depends. I have discovered that my shoulders can carry a lot of weight, but not alone. I have only gotten through these past 21 months because of my family, who helped me and gave me strength when I thought I would fall….. some dear friends who checked in on me and gave me a listening ear, a hug when I needed it and a shoulder to cry on……. and my faith, with God by my side I can do anything, and He made sure that the people I needed were there when I needed them….. and I carried this load because my best friend, my partner, the love of my life and the father of my sons was right there next to me, helping me to carry the load and at times carrying all of us when I was too tired to keep going and then resting while I was strong.

We now have hope. We are ready to continue this next chapter, to help our son get healthy and find his way in the world.

It won’t be easy for him. But it sure will be easier without the fear of prison weighing on him every day.

These past 21 months I trusted….. and I just kept breathing…….

And for those of you reading this, who find yourself going through the storm, don’t give up…… hold on…….reach out to others….. and know that you ARE NOT alone. So many are going through this and you do not have to shoulder the load alone.

For those of you who know someone going through the storm, don’t pull away….. instead reach out to them, give them a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, let them know they are not alone. The storm of addiction is lonely and isolating and the weight of it all can crush a soul, but with support, with care and understanding, the weight can be carried, the storm can be gotten through and lives can be changed.

My hope is that by sharing my families story we have opened the minds and hearts of others so that we can support each other without judgement and stop the isolation and loneliness that comes with addiction.

My Sweet Friend

I have really been struggling to find my words this past week…..

I lost an old friend.

On Nov 12th my friend went missing. All of her friends rallied together, shared information and tried to locate her in the only way we could from distances far away.

You see, my friend had moved from Washington to Illinois over a year ago with her boyfriend of over a decade. And she was lonely. She didn’t have friends or family in Illinois…..

And things did not go well.

My friend has struggled since I have known her with bouts of depression…..and being isolated, away from all who loved her…..in physical pain, daily……and in a relationship that was….well, let’s just say that the relationship fueled her depression….all of this led to the moment that broke so many hearts…..

The thing is, I did not realize just how bad things were for her…or how depressed she had become because I was lost these past two years in my own storm, dealing with my family situation and my son’s addiction and mental health issues……so I didn’t know…….

This was a dear friend of mine from high school.

We spent a lot of time together…..she spent the night at my house many times and we always had a great time. When she was at my house we were up late, long nights talking, laughing and enjoying our friendship. We stayed up late baking cookies and then in the middle of the night our craving for cheeze pleezers and strawberry Shasta would strike, and off we would go, walking to 7-11 to get some…..mostly at midnight and once at 2am. As long as the two of us were together we were safe!

We spent a lot of time at her house in the summer of 1982….helping her dad to haul hay. My friend lived on a small dairy farm and the summer/fall meant hauling hay….loading the truck and unloading in the barn. We had fun doing it, even though it was exhausting work. We sang country songs and then rode on top of the hay in the big hay truck after hours hard work……those days were amazing and our friendship became stronger.

We went to camp together in the summer…..spent a lot of time in Rainbow girls…..went on double dates…..and so much more. Life with my friend was fun and crazy…..she made me laugh, made me cry, shared my joys and pains, and sometimes drove me nuts.

In the fall of 1982 my dad made it unsafe for me to live at home any longer and my friend and her mother offered me a home to live in so I could finish high school…..I shared my friends room with her and we became inseparable. She was with me, skipping school, when I met my future husband. We laughed, cried, shared secrets and our dreams. She was a sister to me.

I saw it back then, though I didn’t really talk about it with anyone…..her depression. There were times when she would be depressed and we would spend hours talking….or rather her talking and me listening and I would do everything I could to help her.

Through the years we stayed close. We both got married and then we each had children. She stayed in the same town and I moved away with my husband, going wherever the Air Force sent us. We would go long periods of time without seeing each other, but then I would go home to visit and she and I would get together and it was as if no time had gone by….we always picked up where we left off. We wrote a lot of long letters in those days before email and internet and paid for high long distance phone calls. But they were worth it. Friends staying connected.

And then her life changed dramatically over a decade ago and our phone conversations were less often, but we still wrote letters and then she climbed onboard with facebook and we would message each other to stay in touch.

It has been 10 years since I last saw my friend in person….we met for breakfast on one of my trips home……just the two of us. And we talked for hours. I could see that she was struggling, but she was surrounded by friends and family so I knew she wasn’t alone.

And then the past two years things took a turn for me and I stepped back from my friends, my family needed me and emotionally I couldn’t handle anything else.  We still messaged, but we didn’t talk……

Then over a year ago she moved away from her family and her friends, to another state with only her boyfriend for support…..and as the year passed she became more isolated, her depression growing…fueled by loneliness and…..so much more.

And now she is gone.

Gone.

I will never again have a chance to talk with her, to hear her laugh…….I didn’t know. I wish I had.  I wish I had called her.  I wish I had taken the time to listen.  I wish I had known.

And now she is gone. I am still in shock. I am hurting. I feel guilty.

Eight days after my friend went missing she was found. She had taken her own life.

Her sister called me to tell me…..

I am left with so many questions….WHY?  Why, my dear friend?

I know she was alone, having left her support network back in Washington when she moved. And now I know now just how bad things had gotten for her in that new state…….with no one to help her, to seek help for her, to love her and support her……

Why? Depression strikes so many and yet we still struggle to understand and talk about it. When are we going to change that? When is mental health going to be as important as physical health? When will the medical industry treat mental illnesses the way they treat physical illnesses…..

The image in my mind of my friend, alone…….it will never leave me. And I am left with the questions of why, and also the “what if”….what if I had called…..what if I had known…..what if…… and the “if only”.  I will never know the answers.

…..and I am left with guilt and heartbreak.

My dear, sweet friend is gone. And I realize that no matter what is going on in my life I need to make sure I keep in contact with my friends and family, that I let them know just how much they mean to me, that I never again miss the signs and never again lose someone I love to suicide.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and expressing thoughts of suicide, please reach out, call the National Suicide Awareness Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Today, hug your loved ones a little tighter….tell them how you feel……don’t waste another minute or day. Life is all too short and we never know when it is our last moment on earth or that of our loved ones.

I wish I had one more day with you, my sweet friend….you drove me nuts at times, you made me laugh, you listened when I needed a friend, and I wish I could tell you, just one more time, how much I love you!

I miss you my sweet friend! I hope you have found peace……

A Grateful Heart

Today is Thanksgiving, a day to spend with family and friends….a day for eating…..and a day to be thankful.

This week I received some news that has my heart hurting and so today, I am especially grateful for my family and my friends.

I am reflecting today on the things that mean the most to me, the things that have shaped who I am and the people who have entered my life, for a short time or forever.

I am thankful for each person who taught me something, understood my hearts joy and pain, challenged me to step outside by comfort zone, made me laugh, made me cry, and everything else in between.

I am thankful for the good times and the difficult times in my life…those times have made me who I am today.

I am thankful that I had a few years with my mom, the one who adopted me and taught me so much about life, but mostly to love unconditionally.

I am thankful that I have now found my birth family and have the answers I searched for, whether I liked the answers or not.

I am thankful for my friends, old and new, spread across the country….for the talks, the shopping, the laughs, the walks, and all the things we shared in the past and share now.

I am thankful for our expanded family through the marriage of our son and thankful for our daughter-in-love.

I am thankful that this shy guy asked this girl out on a date in high school and that through all the ups and downs, he has stood by my side, sometimes carried me, and been my biggest supporter.  I am one lucky girl!

And I am thankful for my boys, the greatest gifts I have ever received!  My love for them is unconditional and they give me purpose.

And today, more than any other in the past, I am so very grateful for the internet and the ability to communicate quickly with many and thankful that through messaging, phone calls, and texting, old friends could come together, despite the miles between us and comfort and support each other through a difficult time.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Today, hug your loved ones a little tighter and tell them what they mean to you…….I am hugging my family tight today, near and far.

 

“Love in the First Degree”

We were in high school.

We began dating in January of his junior year……my first senior year……

Those were the days when we all had pee chee’s for school, and I decorated my pee chee with doodles and some of my favorite sayings and songs.

One day, not long after our first date, I got in my boyfriend’s car (a really cool 1969 Camaro…..ohhh I did love that car, but that is for another story, another day), and as we drove away from our school he popped a cassette into the cassette player and then I heard it…..one of my favorite songs, EVER! This rocker boyfriend of mine, who loved to blast AC/DC, Scorpions, Foreigner and so much more, was playing MY favorite song by one of MY favorite groups……”Love In the First Degree” by Alabama!

He loved Alabama too! And in that moment this country girl, who sometimes listened to rock, was hooked, I was falling for this guy…….he later told me he had seen “Love in the First Degree” written on my pee chee and knew he had to play his new cassette for me! My rocker had a little country in him!

I married this guy after we graduated from high school and we are still married today.

And Alabama is still one of our favorite bands of all time!

We have made it to a few different concerts over the years, mostly country and a couple rock…..and boy did we enjoy them. But one concert evaded us….Alabama, the one group we have ALWAYS wanted to see perform live. But it never seemed possible. We would move away from somewhere and then Alabama would come do a concert…….we always seemed to be missing the group perform.

We were living in Missouri in 2001 when Alabama announced they would be performing at the state fair, which was very near to where we lived. Finally! We bought tickets……we were going to see them. And then my husband’s mother became very sick and my husband flew out to Massachusetts to be with her. It was a difficult time for my family and very hard on my husband. And taking care of family was far more important than a concert, so we gave our Alabama tickets to a friend…….we knew would get to see them one day. My mother-in-law passed away and the concert was long forgotten, family was the focus.

And then the day came when Alabama announced they would no longer be touring…..ugh! Now we would never get to see them….and then…..well, they started to do a show here and a show there…..and then more shows. This past year I kept watching Alabama’s schedule and they would come close to us, but not close enough.

Until……last month when I was checking events near us…..and there, on the events page….Alabama in concert at the Talking Stick Resort, just down the road from us! We HAD to go! We bought tickets immediately!

Last night my husband and I finally attended an Alabama Concert, 34 years after he played MY song in his car and it did not disappoint! They played all of our favorites!

We danced. We sang. We cheered.

And when they began “Love in the First Degree”, the song that my husband played for me in his car all those many years ago, I was transported back to a long ago day when two young kids cruised down the road, windows open, music blaring, holding hands and both of us singing loudly! And now here we were, at the concert and we held hands, moved to the music and sang along.

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We finally crossed another item off of our bucket list.

Alabama was everything we hoped and more!

This concert was definitely worth the wait!

And I fell for my husband all over again as we sang and danced to our favorite songs!