"Girls Night Out"

Love shows up when we least expect it in the midst of ordinary days. Especially on a Greek Island. Oh, well, who couldn't fall in love on a Greek Island? Surrounded by sparkling blue water, dotted with lush green islands, and of course the sun that never quits shining. Only late at night when it moves over to give the full moon some airtime.
And of course, somehow Abba's there singing in the background. And those white-washed villas that just seem to be suspended in space on the cliffs edge, hanging on for dear life so they don't end up in the water below. I'm thinking there's got to be a trip to Greece somewhere in my near future. And while I'm there I think I'll just stay for a while and run a quaint little hotel "on a cliff" the way Meryle Streep did in the movie. And I don't even care if it falls in the water. I'll just keep a life vest close by and end up with a floating hotel. . Hmm?? I think I'm already mentally there. And of course, I want Abba singing in the background filling my new world with music. I can see it now. Waking up in the early morning, throwing open my wood shutters, (just like the ones I fell in love with in Italy), and inhaling the fresh smell from the ocean just below my window, while the sun performs its morning dance as it skips and sparkles across the water. OHHH. I think I hear my husband calling me. You remember?? The guy with the broken leg. Doesn't he know I'm temporarily visiting Greece at the moment??

O.K. I'm trying to stay focused here. Mean while, back at the theatre. . .

We avoided the usual seats in the middle of the theatre and headed to the back top row
because we all knew once the singing and music began we'd be rockin’ and singin’ and we were hoping to avoid being removed from the theatre in the middle of the movie. We managed to keep it to a low roar until the final song began. What's a group of rockin’ girls gonna do? I knew it was all over for us. As far as having any self control that is. It began like the wave at a football game. First my daughter was on her feet singing at the top of her lungs and dancing, and then my niece. It didn't take long for the rest of us to fall in line.

We danced our way out of the theatre with hearts bursting with Abba music and visions
of this wonderful love story tucked away in our hearts. And plans to have our own Mama Mia party with all of us dancing and singing to Abba's music.

Mamma Mia!!

4th of July in Montana

"Born on the 4th of July" I think there's a song by that name and why it's playing in my head at this early morning hour is a mystery to me. But then nothing is real clear to me at 4:00 in the morning.

What is it with this 4 a.m. business? I find myself once again putting my mouth in gear and committing to rising at 4a.m. before engaging my brain to really think this thing through. O.K. I think I just want to grumble about it, because if you remember from an earlier blog, I really love rising while the rest of the world is still asleep. I pull on my shorts and tug my tank top down over my head noticing the numbness in my body, as it knows it should still be tucked under the warm comforter sound asleep. I shiver as I make my way down to our over packed car, but I know somewhere out there the sun is going to be shining before this day ends.

We head to Mukilteo to pick up our daughter who immediately curls up in the back seat with her pillow and blanket to finish her night's sleep. Joining my hubby who is already reclined in the passenger seat off in his own la la land somewhere. And I have to remind myself that I did consciously volunteer for the first shift of driving. But that's ok because now I can have the sunrise all to myself. Also delusional thinking as it is pouring down rain outside my car window. We meet the rest of our caravan at the Starbucks in Lynnwood. Eight of us all together in 3 cars. It is easy to spot them in the parking lot because of course we are the only humans that would think of rising at this hour on this cold, rainy morning. We fall in line as we head to the freeway, I turn my heater up full blast, crack open my window to smell the rain and feel a few drops as they wash across my face. For the moment, I think I'm in heaven. . .

As my car makes its way to the top of Snoqualmie pass, I spot it. The sun, waiting there to greet me. I take this personally. I let myself think it rose just for me. I think I must have been a bird in an earlier life because I love the smells and all the elements of nature. Not just to observe them through a window. I need to feel and experience them. As the day progresses bodies find homes in each other's cars and new memories began to form as laughter fills the air. There are ice cream stops along the way, picnicking with lunch at a park on a hillside and then excitement filling the cars as we come closer to our destination, our son’s home in Whitefish, Montana, where we would be spending the next four days.

There are these special pockets of time that only take place when you sleep under the same roof together. And this beautiful bonding begins that could never happen around the dinner table at a family gathering. People rising at different hours, finding each other around the kitchen table sipping early morning coffee, gathering in lawn chairs outside the front door, early morning dog walks around the neighborhood, and sharing crowded bathrooms. Tolerance levels go up and emotions warm. Only a mother's heart can swell in this special way as she watches her family mingle and flow together.

The evening of the fourth we have plans to head down to the lake to take in the fireworks.
As we head across the park it feels like every inch of grass is covered with stretched out blankets and bodies and bodies of people and then by the lake I see an empty spot that I'm sure must have been reserved just for us. We spread out our blankets and quickly take ownership over this special spot right at the waters edge. I let my eyes wander over the surrounding area absorbing the ambiance surrounding me and they land on a sign not more than 15 feet to our left that reads, "hot donuts". Well, I guess you know that got my attention! Before I could get the words out of my mouth the rest of my party had noticed the sign too. We wore a path between our blanket and the counter during the next hour carrying our little treasure bags filled with freshly baked bite sized donuts dressed in powdered sugar. We ate more donuts than I think were legal or at the least "humanly healthy". As the sun set over the lake and fireworks decorated the sky above us I noticed so many legs were intertwined I forgot which ones were mine. Bodies reclined on each other and found familiarity in this family outing as darkness fell around us and sounds of the 4th filled the air.

The week-end filled with go-cart racing, riding water bumper boats, miniature golf, midnight bowling, barbeques, all night game playing, came to a close all too soon. Early Sunday morning, tired, silent bodies crawled into cars ready for a silent, sleep-filled ride home. There was no car hopping this time, fewer stops, and did I mention?, my hubby was now reclined in the back seat nursing a leg that was broken in two places. That's a whole other story and I know there's not room for it on this page. As we backed our cars out of the driveway they were not only bulging with luggage, but with memories that will be with us for a lifetime and renewed connections with each other that would not have happened in any other place.

As I tucked myself into my own bed that night and pulled my warm, cozy comforter up around my neck I went off to sleep with memories dancing in my head and anticipation of our ski trip already planned for January back in Whitefish. Did I mention my hubby broke is leg?? O.K. I think I did. . .


In March a friend emailed me asking if I'd like to do a half marathon with her the end of June. I'm always up for an adventure or new challenge, so without thinking this thing through I said "yes". Later that afternoon I went on line, paid my registration fee and signed up. As I hit the send button a feeling of exhilaration flowed through me and remained my constant companion in the following months until the morning of the marathon. The morning of June 29 arrives with the
harsh sound of the alarm going off at 4am. As I cracked my eyes open the feelings of exhilaration quickly were accompanied by thoughts of "what in the world was I thinking?" Our spring and early summer had been filled with unusually cool and damp days. The kind of walking weather I like to participate in. But the week prior to the half marathon the temperature hovered in the 70's with forecasts of the 90's for the week-end. That sent a tremor of fear through my body as I'm not a hot weather walker. I entertained thoughts of how to not participate in the walk. But then reminded myself, I'm not a quitter. I glance over at the clock and it's 4:15. The air already feels warm and sticky. My husband was joining my friend and I and I could hear him stepping into the shower. I sat up on the edge of the bed and as my feet hit the floor, I thought, "you can do this". I have found that often the best times begin with feelings of trepidation.
I headed to the kitchen to prepare a protein drink for each of us to drink on the way, and mixed up
whole wheat pancakes to fill us with fuel (carbs) for the trek.

We climbed into our car and as I was clicking my seatbelt my husband glanced over at me with a smile on his face and said "this is going to be a great day". We headed down the steep hill from our home that took us around the lake. As I caught site of the lake a layer of fog hung lazily over the water like a patchwork quilt. Overhead patches of clouds dotted the already blue sky. I had secret hopes that maybe the weatherman had miscalculated and there was a little rain in store for the day. A girl can always hope, right? I immediately got pulled into the silence of this early morning hour and I had forgotten how private and fresh these early morning hours feel. I have always loved rising early before the rest of the world wakes up. For those brief moments the world belongs only to you. My husband breaks into my thoughts to tell me to look up at the tree tops, the sun has just broken through the clouds. He sounded so pleased with his announcement. OK, once more I tell myself, "you can do this".

Not far into the drive we are both chattering, happy to be up in this early morning hour, excited for the challenge that lay ahead. For most of the drive we have the road to ourselves as we speed towards Bellevue where we will board a bus that will carry us to the University of WA where the walk begins. We meet our friend at the Bellevue park where already lines of participants are waiting for the arriving buses. I feel myself gaining energy from all the people around me, and yes, I am excited to cross the starting line.

The marathon runners take off first, followed by the easy runners and then us walkers fall in behind them. The air is still cool and my excitement returns as I fall into step with those around me. We head across the 520 bridge which provides us with startling mountain views, sail boats
already lazily carrying their passengers across the flat, shimmering water. I tease my friend, do you suppose we could just pay a boater to carry us to the finish line"? After all, with all these people, who would know?

The next 4 hours and 15 minutes are filled with sprinkles of hills to climb, water sheds to share cups of cold water and glucose water to keep us refreshed, spectators cheering us on, and friendly neighbors with hoses to cool our warm bodies. At mile 7 we were offered energy gel. Just the thought made me quiver. As I watched my husband squeeze his into his mouth the look on his face quickly told me to retire mine to my pocket. After all, I only had 6 more miles to go.

At the end of the day I was happy I chose to go. And somewhere in the midst of the walking I failed to feel the heat of the sun, and the 13 miles melted away with ease as I chatted with strangers, losing myself in the beauty of nature that surrounded me, and pushing myself to do something I had never done before. Yesterday my friend emailed me to say, "let's do this again next year!" And before I could stop myself I hit the reply button and typed in the word "YES!".