<![CDATA[               An Ordinary Miracle               <br />                ...one photo at a time - Day by Day Blog]]>Fri, 19 Feb 2016 15:06:05 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[A Marathon To Remember]]>Mon, 22 Jun 2015 03:25:20 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/a-marathon-to-remember
I’m not sure if I can get my head around what happened today. To be truly honest, I didn’t know if I really wanted to participate in the Relay For Life. My entire community was going; my best friends, tons of kids and local faces. I wasn’t staying home because I didn’t care, it was because knowing the way Patti was, the last thing she would have ever wanted was an event designed to put her in the spotlight. So I thought, we’ll stay home, I’ll wear her special necklace and remember her in our own way. 

But for some reason, we just ended up at the fairgrounds. As they say, events like these aren’t really for those who were lost, but for those who remain, those who beat cancer and those who need to remember. The kids said they wanted to run rather than do the customary walk.  I gave them little instruction but to go have fun on their run.

At 4pm, the two started to run just after the cancer survivors would march their deserved victory lap. It wasn't like a typical race where everyone shoots out of a starting line. The survivors linked arms, some tearfully and walked forward. In the misty rain, the kids ran the perimeter around the set inner loop. 6 pm came and went and my Go Far duo continued to run as the mist became more of a steady rain. I stood in the middle of the fair grounds catching a glimpse of them here and there as they circled the event. With a steady pace, they continued together while our small community encouraged them along. 

Neither of the kids had run further than 13 miles prior to today and the discussion of a full marathon had always been in the distant future. But, as the sun dropped, it became clear to me, that they were running a marathon. They were running unbridled with their emotions flowing raw down their sweaty shoulders. They spun around me like the arms of a clock and with the time that ticked by, so did the miles.  There were no mile markers or a real defined course for that matter. While Chris and I have done our best to teach the kids the meaning of how to Go Far over the years, it is still a personal journey that one needs to breath in and exhale on his or her own. I just didnt expect that it would be today; or together. In a defining moment of their sister/brotherhood, they ran step by step together. They looped the fairgrounds over and over, and I became overcome with emotions. As the rain fell into the darkness, luminaries were lit, creating a somber reminder of light and lives lost.  I became more and more choked up thinking of my own sister in law. But as the heavy tears streamed down on my rain soaked cheeks, I felt an incredible lightness and joy in seeing Peter running with his friends along side him as he finished his very first marathon. In classic Pete style, he was grinning ear to ear, soaking in the experience.

As the crowd silently traveled around the luminaries, Kate approached the group, closing the gap of her own 26.2 mile journey. It was raining hard now, she was crying but somehow she continued to run. The many struggles she had met over her previous running season had all but vanished as she fully embraced the pain. My worry for her was real, not for her pain, but for the very real thought that she may not be able to get through the insurmountable task she had set for herself.  She turned to me and said Patti was helping her, she had to finish this for her. My reluctant runner, the one who at one time said that she that would never do a marathon, was putting one foot in front of another, defying her own odds. 

A little girl that Kate had mentored during the Go Far Go Fast race a few weeks back had been cheering Kate along all day. At Go Far, the kids learn to support each other's goals starting in first grade. In a telling moment, I realized that everything that I had worked so hard at in creating this Go Far philosophy among our youth, had worked. They were there for each other.  She reached up to Kate and handed her a yellow glow stick; a medal of sorts to memorialize the day. Under an imaginary finish line in the pouring rain, both girls hugged as her mother and I watched in tears as this incredible scene unfolded in front of us. 

Wet, hungry and shocked at what they had just done, the siblings walked together, linked arm around waist, holding each other up. It was a scene I have witnessed so many times standing alongside Chris at the end of a long marathon day. I walked behind them, speechless.  

Perhaps, the unplanned aspect of what unfolded today is what makes it so special. Maybe it’s the fact, that both kids reached this incredible milestone together, encouraging each other every step of the way. Then again, the beauty of today was in laying witness to so many in our community, standing together under the umbrella of cancer and holding each other up. In a era of shiny marathon medals and races with much fanfare, somehow this humbling experience would be their perfect introduction to the marathon and their defining moment of who they really are; we had stumbled upon the true spirit of Go Far. Somehow, they had been preparing for this day for years, but I hadn't realized it. In the end, I know Patti was so ever so present for my kids, I could virtually see her in the misty rain. While she is with me always, my kids had her fully in their hearts today. 

Thank you to The Sokol Family and our wonderful community for facilitating and nurturing this wonderful event, which would end up being the most unexpected and unforgettable moments in in my children’s lives and one I’ll truly cherish for a lifetime.
<![CDATA[Art As Her Beacon.]]>Sun, 11 Jan 2015 03:39:27 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/art-as-her-beacon
Today marked one year since I lost my sister in law Patti. I agreed with my brother Glenn, that we wouldn’t have some long painful day of remembrance constantly dwelling on the life she lived, that would be ultimately be snuffed out by the cancer she endured for three difficult years.  The plan would be to do something that felt normal, that left me feeling good. I decided to head down to New Haven with Kate and her friend Maddy, to explore the Yale Museum of Art. For those who have never been there, the museum reminds me of a miniaturized version of the much more grandiose New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The experience is no less grand however as it houses many works by the world’s most famous artist to have ever graced this earth. It’s a special museum because you can get very close to the art, so close that you can virtually breathe in the fumes of the oiled paint covering each canvas. What I love most about art museums is that in just a few paces, you can pass through different worlds and different eras that mark the most poignant memories of humankind. In one room I would see a laurel wreath adorning the marble bust of one of the world’s very first Greek Olympians, then travel through the great impressionist movement and end up perplexing my brain over the works of modern times. While I traveled through the rooms, I wore Patti’s long necklace, a gift my brother had given me recently. I wear it when I need something tangible to connect to her in my mind. The memory of her becomes clear as I realize that she, along with the many subjects in the paintings, are all part of a very large puzzle that somehow fits into human history. Being here was good for my heart, because I didn’t feel sad for her loss. The very thought of her fit in well here among this population of beautiful creations. The museum was a reminder that she had a beauty all her own, one that somehow is passed down in the lives she touched. Like these art works, she left an indelible mark to everyone who knew and loved her. Each artist told the human story so perfectly in the genre each knew so well. I found a connection to her around each corner. I saw it realistically, abstractly and even somewhere in-between, through the blurry paintings of the impressionist. Each of these artist proved that life and death isn’t so easy to put your finger on, it’s best seen as a compilation of different efforts telling the human story. Leaving the building, I breathed in the cold air, almost like cruelly being awaken from a blissful dream.  Within this building, the colors, textures, emotions and very essence of life had swept me away during the visit, much like Patti had successfully done to those she knew in her lifetime. The truth is that while her loss is profound, we can still experience her friendship in the things we see and experience. Maybe, you too can see something that reminds you of the girl we loved so much, in some of these masterpieces. So let today,  every day and every place be a beacon of her beauty. XXOO
<![CDATA[Joy!]]>Thu, 25 Dec 2014 06:06:24 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/december-24th-2014
It’s 12:40 am on Christmas morning. While my children are all snug in their bed, even as teens, visions of sugar plums, dance in their heads. As it turns out, even though we have moved, I believe Santa has found us. With a sigh of relief, I am happy he has. Dare I peek out my bed room door to see what he may have left behind?  As I had just heard the pitter patter of dancing hooves, I sprang to the big picture window to catch a glimpse of the man in red. I squint to see a bright red light rising high over the water behind our home and I hear bells jingle until they have faded away. Why, it must be been ole Saint Nick heading high into the sky to carry on his work. While the festivities will flash by us in an instant tomorrow, this is my one moment to take it all in while no creatures stir. Since Santa has left, I take my chance to breath. I nibble on the other half of the cookie Santa has left behind and live in the moment that twinkles within the light of the lit tree.  Christmas allows nostalgia to swirl through my mind. My childhood memories linger on in my grown up mind. So many Christmas’s have come and gone, it’s hard to fathom how I got to this point. I can’t help think of those that we have lost as well as a sharp reminder that all of this is so fleeting and a true blessing to experience year after year.  In the same thought, there may be no better day to enjoy time with our families and friends and inhale the joy it brings. With Miles at my feet, he nudges me unknowingly as he drifts into a deep sleep. Perhaps he also dreams of Christmas and his hopes of a new box of lacrosse balls to enjoy. What ever is your joy, I hope you find it on Christmas morning and throughout your day. Merry Christmas everyone!
<![CDATA[Boy Meets Bike]]>Sun, 14 Dec 2014 01:26:00 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/boy-meets-bike
While cycling has a huge global appeal to its many fans, I like the fact that on a local scale it’s small enough to feel like a family gathering. Last year, back in February, Pete donned his warmest clothes and headed out for a ride. He loves the independence that it affords him as well as the impression of uniqueness that comes with being one of the few kids in his school that does the sport. During his chilly ride, a large peloton of cyclist passed him by on their Sunday training ride. Now further ahead, he saw one of the group members peel off and come back towards him. They struck up a conversation leading to an invitation by man who turned out to be a coach of a youth cycling team. Peter came home excited about the invitation. Unbeknownst to Peter, I had met the same coach years ago when Peter was in second grade. As I was starting up the Go Far program,  Aidan Charles’s fledgling CCAP program was in its infancy. I distinctly remember telling him to keep his eyes peeled for Peter sometime around the time he could reach his pedals. Well as fate had it, their February meeting would finally bring Peter into the world of cycle racing. While he has always been a home grown product of our triathlon community, this new opportunity would begin to teach him even more about the gears that turn his his wheels. Once again, my hope would be to put him in a situation where great mentors would open his eyes to the sport. Quickly he found that with the coaches within CCAP program. He would meet kids his own age, bend a set or two of handlebars and solidify his love for the sport. The cycling community feels much like the rowing community I grew up in. It's quirky, intense, intelligent and driven. Now from this mother’s eyes, who spent her entire youth getting doused by the cold backsplash of salt water during many a January rows, I understand cycling’s appeal to a kid looking for adventure. On this chilly December morning, I watched him navigate this newfound learning curve through an orchard deep in central Connecticut. He would bring home mud as a souvenir as well as some very cold toes. On the way home, he would talk about how excited he was to take his new skills back to his triathlon community and feel the warmth of his favorite season on his now freezing toes. June can’t come fast enough. But first, he will venture out on many a Sunday ride with the group who had picked him up just by chance. 
<![CDATA[Woof, I think I have a problem!]]>Sun, 05 Oct 2014 23:31:40 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/woof-i-think-i-have-a-problem
Woof, this is Miles Schulten. While my mom is out taking pictures of another kid, I have been busy working on hacking into her blog. It’s a beautiful day, so I guess I can’t blame her for being away from her computer. She must be busy these days, because I notice that she hasn’t posted on her blog in a while. For weeks now, she has been building walls at the Durham Fair, watching my human siblings run aimlessly around cross country courses, and taking pictures of adolescents who have chosen to have her take their picture rather than using a perfectly decent selfie off their iPhones. I am writing to you to talk about a big problem that I have. I really need help and after reading a column in the New York Post called, “Dear Abby”, I thought, maybe some of my mom’s blog readers could help me like this “Abby" person who seems so adept at solving human's problems. Let me preface this by saying I don’t really know who I am. I’m a mutt. My past is a bit murky. I was told by my human mom that my dad was a big mastiff and my birth mom was a lab mix of some type. So we were unaware of my habitual tendencies until like most adolescents teens, troubles begin to bubble up. You see, it’s an age old problem I seem to have. While you humans may drool for a cigarette or a beer, or in my dad’s case, an endorphin fueled run or a bike ride, my obsession just may be exponentially more sinister. My need for this perfectly sphere shaped object is keeping me from having a decent night of sleep or getting anything done during the day. It’s become so bad that I have given up on chasing the UPS man out of the driveway thinking he may have a package of new spheres for me. The only thing that helps my mind briefly escape from this curse is an occasional dream of a curvaceous chocolate lab named CoCo. I call her Hot Coco…but I digress. The color, material or elasticity matters little. However, I do love the foamy mess that leaves a stain on the rug when I get an occasional sphere with yellow fuzz called Wilson. I believe that my human parents could have possibly contributed to my need for counseling when they bought a strange shaped stick called a “Chuck_it”, that helped the beautiful sphere go even further. In an effort to self medicate, I chewed up this throwing stick trying unsuccessfully to curb my habit, but ignorantly, my humans perpetuated the problem by purchasing me a new one that makes the sphere go even father. SOMEBODY HELP ME! Just the other day, while walking with my mom, I found a ball that I had dropped in the pond a few weeks back. It was better than Christmas, maybe even better than a date with hot Coco. So this is a plea to anyone who can read. I went so far as to write this message on the driveway so my humans would notice.  Rather than get the message that I have a problem, my mom went running in to get her camera to snap a photo because she thought it was so cute. Maybe someday I’ll write about her photography “problem” and we can get some counseling together.   Well I’m not sure if I have uploaded this photo correctly, after all, I have no opposable digits. But with the corner of my pad, maybe it worked. Please send more balls.  "%$#&!”  What I meant to say was please help me find a more healthy, life long passion. 

Your loyal companion,

This is my favorite picture of my ball and I in the moonlight.

<![CDATA[Raising a family...]]>Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:05:31 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/raising-a-family Picture
In early May evening, my husband went into the back yard to turn over the garden. He worked on it for a couple of hours and as he unceremoniously turned over his last shovelful of soil, out came 6 baby bunnies. No one knew what to do. Peter, who had been helping in the garden, took the six babies who all had their eyes closed and swaddled them into his shirt. As I made dinner, I saw my son slowly approach the kitchen to show me his find. With my heart melting, I knew his had become a puddle. Hearing that bunnies should be put back we waited with little avail for momma to come back to her brood. In the mean time the internet search began. What do they eat? How warm do they need to be? How does one keep baby bunnies alive? Every web page suggested they be brought right away to a wildlife rehabber. When I looked online about them, the WWW said that no matter who cares for bunnies, there is generally a 5 percent success rate. Even in the wild, it is said that 90 percent don’t make it to adulthood. So I was in a conundrum knowing that my odds of keeping these babies alive were slim at best. Despite the odds, we took the leap.

Peter brought down the large fish tank that sat in the attic waiting for its next orphans. We have had a variety of critters take residence in this tank over the years. While he did this, I was off to the local pet shop purchasing $50 dollars of infant bunny necessities that were all somewhat of a mystery since people don’t usually raise the babies. We bought a tiny bottle which on the first night they promptly rejected. It was almost impossible to tell if they had drank anything.  But they rooted for milk and we eventually figured that if we put it on their little coats, they would lick the nutrition off their siblings. The next day after much coaxing, they started to take small sips. Each had a different personality. One was hyper and skittish while another we soon named Jabba because of his affinity for food, as another just hopped over to Peter's lap whenever he could. We would go to sleep each night hoping they would all live into the next dawn and felt success with each living sunrise. We learned they needed bacteria in their gut, so we mixed it into their food. Soon, we would begin foraging for greens from the yard as they began to wean. They associated Peter as their mother as soon as they opened their eyes. It was he who would feed them three times a day and handling them gently, but firmly enough to help them get the food down. Soon they would be leaping towards the bottle as soon as they saw it coming.

As we reached the three week mark we knew it was time to start acclimating them again to the outside or we would have forever pets. We worried about them becoming humanized but knew in our heart, if they hadn’t, they would have starved to death. Peter was fully attached and I knew it was going to be hard for him to say goodbye. The night before the Go Far race was the first night they were to be caged overnight outdoors to be readied for release when a storm came in. The thunder and lightening had proved too much and we lost two before we could get them indoors.  Peter, who had given his entire heart to these little creatures, had his own broken. The tears flowed heavily and freely as Kate, Peter and I said goodbye to our two little babies. For my boy, the loss was akin to mother who has lost one of her own, feeling like somehow he wish he could have protected them more. 

Fearing more sadness, he knew it was time to release. We had done all we could, fed them, acclimated them, loved them. With our moving day only days away, we traveled to our new home and met with Alice, the owner. We found a good place to release our four bunnies. Peter thought it would be unlikely, but we had hoped that maybe we would see them again someday. Peter made a little nest of their bedding and hay in a hole he had dug under a plant in the front garden. With that he said his goodbye. We watched them hop in and out of the garden experiencing the new smells and taste that surrounded them. They would stay close to Peter like they were awaiting his approval to let go. 

As the last one hopped away, we knew we had learned a tremendous lesson about love. We had fallen in love, experienced joy, tremendous sadness and eventually a type of satisfaction that comes in knowing you have done something with all of your heart. Thinking that they would become a memory, what has come of these little critters is somewhat remarkable. Now as we eat our morning cereal, we look out the window and see them eating their breakfast of clover and grass. 

This experience has been priceless, one we would likely do again. While we were told that only experienced rehabbers could find success. Our interpretation proved that we had provided enough to give them a chance. Love is the best nurturer and in the end, brought out our best nature.

1 week later...


<![CDATA[50 Miller...Through Its Years.]]>Mon, 09 Jun 2014 01:18:51 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/50-millerthrough-its-years
I am working on the marketing material for the house and thought I would share these photos with you all. What has always drawn me to a home is  the fact that we are just its keepers telling a small part of an evolving story. These photos paint a picture from just the last 100 years. My imagination can vision the home before photographs were possible. But I can guess that the sounds of bucolic life and melodic songbirds have changed little over its many years. Over the years, civil war buttons, ceramic doll pieces and revolutionary pieces have been unearthed always making me wonder about their full story. George Washington was only a boy when the home was built in 1741 by David Miller. I love these photos for many reasons, but perhaps what I like most is that despite the passage of time, much has remained the same. The contours and textures of the home have become forever etched in my mind like so many who have dwelled here before me. We have shared the slight slope of the eastern wall and we have sat in the same space on the home's hearths during winter storms. We are forever connected though the bond of the home's woven history. I'll miss this home, but feel comfort knowing another family will have it's own story to tell here and become part of its living history.
<![CDATA[5th Annual Go Far, Go Fast, Go Galactic!]]>Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:50:12 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/5th-annual-go-far-go-fast-go-galactic
When I was a kid, I rowed side by side every day with friend of mine who was more than 40 years my senior. Jack was there through it all; during frigid winter workouts as snow accumulated on our boats, to the scorcher days of summer where the sun blinded you, glaring over the still water.  When I first started training, he would always be handily in the lead. By the time I was 16, my boat moved forward past the bow of his racing shell. To my surprise, he smiled as I surpassed his speed. He was my mentor. He knew my potential and helped me realize it. His kindness has always stayed with me. Go Far grew out of the desire to help kids reveal their inner strength through the support of a true community of fellow minded folks. Achieving the Go Far way has never been rocket science, its notion exist in a community that persistantly nurtures its own people.

This weekend, on the 5th installment of Go Far Go Fast, I took a few seconds here and there to soak in the wonders that were going on around me.  I would take mental pictures of little moments I witnessed. It was heart-warming was to watch our first generation of Go Far kids mentor the younger upcoming one. For me, the event was like a connect- the-dot image, drawing our small community together.  As big hands interconnected with small ones, they ticked off one mile after another united in purpose. I saw coaches and teachers cheering from the side lines, parents reaching out their arms in congratulatory embraces with their children.  I saw town leaders supporting their fellow citizens. Business owners and community groups gave, so the youngest of our community could fully receive the support they need for success. Somehow, everyone was giving and receiving all in the same moment. 

While I built trophies late in the evenings wearily in the back room of the community center, I reminded myself that this vision had merit that was worth the effort.  A face tells the story and the faces of Go Far tell volumes. Each mentor or a child who wore the finisher medal or carried home a trophy felt important. 

 I could thank everyone here as I have in the past. However, I’ll keep it simple because I know the faces of the kids racing and mentoring left an indelible image of gratitude for everyone involved.  My sincere appreciation for this awesome little race committee grows with each passing year as well as to the community that believes we can Go Far every day. 

Well see you again soon. While were all busy going to work, parenting or going to school, please reach out to your community in some way. Become involved and you be amazed at how you too can Go Far. 

Thanks everyone!
See all the pics on Facebook!
Go Far Album 1
Go Far Album 2
<![CDATA[Ready for countdown.]]>Wed, 28 May 2014 12:30:12 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/ready-for-countdown
Another trophy project for Go Far Go Fast is in the books. This year’s space theme had me using cans of spray insulation, glow in the dark paint and lots of little alien and astronaut figures. My husband always asks me why I don’t just call Mr. Trophy as I come home bleary eyed with glue gun booboos from building these? I’ve come to realize over the years that these little creations have helped define our event and make it a unique experience for everyone involved. My goal is to raise the standard well over what our Walmart World would like to have us think of as acceptable. We can be so much more than we realize. A handful of us who put this race on do it because we have such great hopes for the kids of our community. So here is my little contribution, a vote of confidence that I believe in them. May these little shuttles be a reminder that we will cheer them on as they blast off on race day and in life.  In the end of this build, I must thank Safari Ltd and Toy Wonders for their generous contributions in providing the figures and shuttles. Go Far Friend, Noah Ventola donated his wood working ability and materials, thank you! Their generosity is helping to build a community. Once again, Russ and Cory Hassman have come to my rescue in sharing  their graphic genius and giving the trophy it’s truly finished appearance.  Go Far wouldn’t happen each year without their behind the scene attention to detail. Thank You! Also a huge thanks to Marybeth Gossart, who was covered in glitter once again as she so lovingly built the bean trophies for those Go Far kids in our community who define the strength of little Brenna Zettergren.

So let’s get this race on! When you child say’s I can’t or I won’t, show them the better way to I can and I will. Wellness starts at home and Go Far defines it.   See you on May 31st at the Durham Fairgrounds!
<![CDATA[At the threshold of a new day. ]]>Thu, 22 May 2014 12:59:29 GMThttp://anordinarymiracle.weebly.com/day-by-day-blog/at-the-threshold-of-a-new-day
As Kate rushed around desperately looking for her headphones, Peter stood with his back pack on, making funny faces at his affable companion, Miles . The morning routine is full of quest and surprises. One day the search may be for the team running jersey; headphones are always tops on the MIA list, and shoes often top the list of “where in the world”. The delectable lunches that another mother has prepared leaves me feeling guilty each day as my children head out the door. My husband has been gone for hours probably already contemplating lunch.  They stand on the porch, looking so much older and ready for this world than I am willing to accept. These days, my daughter looks  for affirmation on style which I rarely know much about. Despite my lack of fashion sense, my heart tells me she looks perfect. Peter still asks for a hug and I am so grateful for his affections. The kids stand by discussing who’s day ahead will be more arduous. They half-hear me over their discussion as I give my daily pep talk. I do think that the dog listens to me and will take my instructions to heart. We hear the rumble from the bus hulking its way up the hill. Standing by, the pets know what’s to come and they assume their bon voyage positions. From this little kitchen, we watch them leave as I have hundreds of times before. There is nothing better in life better than the rituals that are your own because they are tailor made for you.