Tag Archives: decisions

(Not) Back to School

Have you ever made a decision that was so big, so all-consuming at the time you made it, that you assumed it would haunt you for a while?  That you’d second guess and dwell?  I have.

When I left teaching, I was certain that  the first few back to school seasons would be a little rough.

I love back to school time.  I especially love shopping for school supplies.  And oh, Dixon-Ticonderoga Number 2 pencils.  (Seriously, no other pencil compares.  They smell like learning.

Ahhhh. Pencil perfection. (click for source)

Have I scared all of you away yet?

Ahem.  Anyway, with all that school supply love, I adored setting up my classroom.  I loved thinking about how to best arrange the desks, looking for new ways to get organized, and thinking about the coming school year and all the wonderful little people I’d get to meet.  Going to sleep the night before the first day of school was like going to sleep on Christmas Eve.  I was so giddy I could hardly contain myself.

The Book Beach. My lawn chair-tastic reading corner one year.

I loved spending the first days of school with my students.  Organizing materials, getting to know one another, and starting the year with some of my favorite activities.  In fact, I loved all the time I spent with my students.  If I could have just had the 8:30 – 3:30 part of teaching, there’s a good chance I’d still be doing it.

And yet… I don’t feel mournful this time of year.  I feel like I should, sometimes.  I still notice and celebrate the arrival of a new school year, but now it’s because it means Goose goes back to work and I don’t have to look at his peacefully sleeping face while I’m tearing myself out of bed at 5:00 am.

And it means fall is coming soon.  Fall is my favorite.

This is my dad. He picked that apple in the fall. Apple picking is rad. So is fall.

But the angst?  Sadness?  Longing?  They are not here.  Just constant reassurance that I made the right choice.  (Have I mentioned how much I love my job and all the things I’m doing now?)

Tell me about a big decision you made.  Was it more difficult than you thought it’d be?  Easier?



Filed under Life

Not the Right Time: Blessed

This is the final post in a series about my decision not to race 70.3 this year.  

For the earlier installments:
Not the Right Time for 70.3
Not the Right Time: Gathering the Facts
Not the Right Time: Wallow & Decide

On Sunday morning, I sent an e-mail and posted here about my decision not to race Steelhead.  I was feeling sad and a little apprehensive.  How would people react?  Would they understand?

One of my very best gal pals called me on Sunday afternoon.  “Lauren, I just got your e-mail,” she said.  “I feel like we need to mourn.”  So we did.  I told her everything from the very beginning, and she let me be sad and angry and relieved and every emotion in between.  I’m still mourning, but her call, and her understanding of exactly what I needed without me having to say it, made me feel just a little bit better.

My amazing friend Regina, who helped me mourn. Please note, this is not actually a photo of us mourning. It's just a photo of us looking pretty. Photo courtesy Becky Hill Photography

I got kind, supportive e-mails, text messages, and notes.  I’m overwhelmed.  I felt like a quitter and I was met with nothing but love.

I am not a quitter.  This is the end of one journey, but it’s not the end.  It doesn’t mean that ulcerative colitis has won, and I am resolved to come back stronger than ever.  I know I will, because I am blessed with love, support, and understanding.  It seems I have surrounded myself with people who see the bigger picture and know that there are more important things than just one race.

Who helps you when you’re feeling down?  


Filed under Living with Ulcerative Colitis, Triathlon

Not the Right Time: Wallow & Decide

This is a continuation of the story of my decision not to do Steelhead 70.3.  

Read the rest of the story here:
Not the Right Time for 70.3
Not the Right Time: Gathering the Facts

Even before I was armed with all this new knowledge, I was thinking about what I was going to do about Steelhead.  Something in my gut (pun intended) told me things just weren’t right.

I won’t lie, there were lots of tears.  There was some wallowing.  There was a particularly cute night during which I sobbed hysterically and asked Goose over and over again, “But why does my body want to attack itself?  Why can’t it just let me have this?”  I worried that giving up was like letting my ulcerative colitis win.  I do not want my life to be defined by my disease.  I want to kick it in the face, beat it to the ground, and show UC that it cannot defeat me.

Super strong colitis-fighting triathlete muscles. Clearly.

There was plenty of guilt.  My amazing coach, Elizabeth, had heard me on the radio and was training me free of charge with the stipulation that I raise money for a charity involving women in sport.  I didn’t want her time and energy to go to waste.  My friends and family donated to Girls on the Run – Chicago, my charity of choice, to show their support of my big goal.  I felt like I was letting everyone down by not making it to the finish, or even starting line of my race.

But I dug deep.  I was honest with myself.  I am not an incredible athlete.  Yes, I have finished marathons and triathlons, but I am a true back of the packer still navigating my way around this sport.  I need a good day to make the cutoff times for long distance events.  I need my body to be strong, my mental game to be 100%, and ideally, some weather in the 60s.

Given the circumstances surrounding Steelhead, there was a very small chance that I wouldn’t be flared on race day.  I know my body.  I know that stress triggers flare ups, and I know that I always have a tiny flare at the same time each month.  This tiny flare, of course, would fall on race weekend.  I also know that it is entirely unrealistic to hope for cool weather in August.  In the midwest, anything can happen, but it’d be ridiculous to bank on weather in the 60s, 70s, or even low 80s.

So then I did what anyone else would do.  I kept Goose up until all hours of the night, over-analyzing every aspect of the decision.  I called Dad and listened; called Mom and talked.

Look at them. Seriously the best support system ever.

Not one of them told me what to do.  All three said they would back me 100%, no matter what I chose.  They listened, and offered their perspectives.  They gave me their honest opinions when I asked for them.

Then I decided.  I took the opinions of my loved ones into account, reached out to my doctor and my coach, gathered up all the facts and then listened to my gut.

The truth is, I probably could push and make it to the starting line at Steelhead.  If I did, I truly believe there is a 99% chance that I would be pulled from the course for not making a cutoff.  To plenty of athletes I know, that 1% chance would make it worth it.  They’d go out there and give it their best shot, and they might even succeed.

That’s just not me.  It’s too big of a risk, and one I’m not willing to make.  I don’t think my body can handle training right now.  I need leisurely swims, a little elliptical time, and some easy yoga.  I need strolls with Goose and the dog.  I need rest and recovery.  And, in due time, I’ll figure out what my new goal is.

Have you ever decided not to do a race you’d been training for?  How did you make the decision?


Filed under Living with Ulcerative Colitis, Triathlon