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Of Victory, Defeat…and Birthdays

“Time is everything; five minutes make the difference between victory and defeat.” (Horatio Nelson)

I celebrated my birthday yesterday. It was a WONDERFUL day, for many reasons and thanks to so many people. It was a happy day, all day, for me (and my husband, who shares my same birthday.) But then, unexpectedly, there came that moment.

That one moment when I couldn’t help but acknowledge the miracle of having such a wonderful 47th birthday…as I remembered how absolutely terrible turning 42 had been.

That lovely birthday that hit about a month after my extreme life losses and divorce in 2009, amid of a LOT of change, challenge, trauma and turmoil. I felt terrible, I looked awful, and I can’t describe the misery I experienced–feeling like a total failure in my 40s! (I don’t recommend it, haha.)

But I DO recommend hanging in there. Choosing to live anyway, despite your losses, burdens and adversities. Never give up. Get out of bed every day and accomplish something, even if it’s just getting out of bed!

Because time really is everything. And those ensuing minutes (or years, in my case) really do make the difference between defeat and victory. And victory feels so good and is literally, so SWEET.

“Victory is sweetest when you’ve known defeat.” (Malcolm S. Forbes)

Taste it.



It Takes More Than That!

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

Teddy Roosevelt, a former president of the United States, was shot by a saloonkeeper while campaigning in Wisconsin in October 1912. The bullet lodged in his chest after penetrating his steel eyeglass case and the 50-page, single-folded copy of his speech he was carrying in his jacket.
Roosevelt, an experienced hunter, decided that since he wasn’t coughing blood the bullet hadn’t completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung so he didn’t go to the hospital immediately but instead, delivered his speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes, opening his speech with this line: “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
Later, due to the location of the bullet, doctors decided it would be more dangerous to remove the bullet than leave it in place; Roosevelt carried the bullet with him the rest of his life.
Now, I have nothing against obtaining medical care when injured. In fact, I believe I would have gone straight to a hospital had that happened to me, but I admire Teddy for his grit. And I can’t help but think we’d have a lot more triumphs and successes among us and throughout the world  if everyone, when faced with a challenge or an adversity  responded to life by saying, “It takes more than that!” and carried on, and eventually triumphed, despite it.

Speaking of Battles

“Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.” (George S. Patton)

Ok. So it’s time for a little too much information. About #5. And the way he “fights.” Get this:

1. He doesn’t yell. He discusses issues, calmly and patiently, in a rational manner. I appreciate that. (It’s how I’m inclined to resolve things, as well.)

2.  He is loving and affectionate, even in the face of a disagreement. For example, when we’re discussing an “issue,” he is touching my shoulder, holding my hand or has an arm around my waist. (I have to say, I love this one. I’ve never seen anyone “fight” like this, but I appreciate it!)

3. The one or two discussions we’ve had since the infamous conversation pre-marriage when he “dumped” me and that I would consider a “fight,” #5 either doesn’t remember them or he doesn’t consider them “fights.” I think three times now he has told me,” “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever been mad at you before!” (I appreciate his short term memory in this regard!)

4. He’s got the “kiss and make up” part at the end together! (SORRY! Just had to throw that in there– I’ve already shared TMI in this post, what’s a little more?) I guess you could say he has learned what Bob Marley has: “The harder the battle the sweet of jah victory.” Whatever that means.

However, if, “The ultimate test of a relationship is to disagree…but hold hands,” (Unknown) then #5 and I have passed the test. Each and every time.

The Hardest Thing

I went to my first kick boxing class recently. I left feeling pretty inept at boxing. Sort of the way I felt the last time I came even close to boxing. In the 1980s. In high school. It was SO “not me.”

I blame it on basketball–one game in particular, and it didn’t even count, it was P.E.! A friend and I played a game of 2 on 5, against a group of five, short Hispanic girls…and it wasn’t pretty…because my friend and I actually played basketball outside of P.E. and we were beating them soundly. The other girls were frustrated, but it didn’t dawn on me (like it would now) to let them win or at least score a few points. It was my experience that “you win some, you lose some,” that’s part of playing the game, and I preferred to win as much as I could.

The next thing I knew, I was on my back, just outside the key. My friend was leaning over me, worried, questioning, “Are you ok?” The other team was standing around with satisfied smirks on their faces as my friend filled me in: while I’d been airborne for a rebound, one of the short girls had gone for my pony tail, grabbed it, forcefully yanked me down from behind, flat on my back onto the court, which knocked me out when I landed!

Told you they were frustrated.

I got back up and continued to play. But every time one of the other team got near me they talked trash and threatened to beat me up outside of class. I ignored them; I thought they had to be kidding. I mean, fight? In my world, that behavior never dawned on me. No one I knew fought or even thought about beating anyone up. I thought they were kidding–until they followed me around everywhere and warned me I’d better pray they never caught me alone or better yet, alone in a bathroom.

I didn’t respond to their threats, I ignored their taunts, I pretended I didn’t see them trailing me (but I confess I was always relieved when I walked into a bathroom and saw other girls in there, just in case) and after what seems like a few weeks (but was probably more like a few days) P.E. ended and I don’t remember ever seeing those angry girls again.

That’s my near-boxing experience.

“I’ll bet the hardest thing about prize fightin’ is pickin’ up yer teeth with a boxin’ glove on.” (Kin Hubbard)

Add pickin’ up yer teeth with boxin’ gloves on to the list of hard things in, and about, life.


Things like sickness, death, disease, poverty, crime, betrayal, divorce, unemployment, emotional trauma, abuse, too much, too little, and every other unexpected challenge that comes your way. Life is full of hard stuff. In fact, life, itself, is hard. As Katherine Hepburn said, “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”

But before it does, at least TRY to pick up yer teeth. Don’t quit until you succeed in clearing the floor of your molars and cuspids, or whatever your adversity may be. I’ve found, sometimes, that what I’m going through isn’t quite as hard as picking up teeth with boxing gloves on would be (while other times, one year in particular, I admit to wondering if dying wouldn’t have been easier than the challenges I was facing. Thank goodness I never, personally, discovered the answer to that myself.)

Because when you’ve collected your teeth and pulled yourself together, when the bell has rung and you’re back in the match giving it all you’ve got, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating as a knock out. The knock out that comes at the end when you win because you endured. Victory.

The more I think about it, boxing is a lot like the unexpected life. Here’s why:

“As much as I love boxing, I hate it. And as much as I hate it, I love it.” (Budd Schulberg) At some point, we probably all have a love-hate relationship with our new and unexpected life. As much as we love it, we wouldn’t have chosen it. And as much as we may dislike certain aspects of it or the way certain things are, we wouldn’t trade it for the alternative. Life is glorious, regardless of your circumstances.

“Boxing gave me the opportunities to grow into the person that I am today.” (Alexis Arguello) Where would we be, who would we have become, what would we have learned, how would we have grown…without our unexpected life?

“Boxing is the ultimate challenge. There’s nothing that can compare to testing yourself the way you do every time you step in the ring.” (Sugar Ray Leonard) Life, especially the unexpected one, is a test every single day. So it’s vital we get through it. With a passing grade, or better yet, an A+. Our score lies in how we choose to solve the problems and answer the questions put before us.

“Boxing was not something I truly enjoyed. Like a lot of things in life, when you put the gloves on, it’s better to give than to receive.” (Sugar Ray Leonard) Don’t underestimate the importance of giving, giving back, and making the way easier for others as you travel through life. I can’t imagine where my children and I would be today if we hadn’t had a little help from our friends, if others hadn’t reached out to us and helped make our way easier. Truly, it IS better to give than to receive.

So don’t quit. Hang in there until the bell rings and you get a breather. Don’t expect to understand everything all at once, or even in this lifetime. Just trust, as I do, that someday we will be able to see the grand design of a beautiful plan put in place just for us and our necessary growth. Someday, every mystery will be solved.

“When archaeologists discover the missing arms of Venus de Milo, they will find she was wearing boxing gloves.” (John Barrymore)

The unexpected life.


Life Is Like A Marathon

“I thought about running a marathon a long time ago, but I’m just not a runner.” (Shannon Miller) I thought about it, too, long enough to laugh. Then I sat down and rested because even the thought of it depleted my strength!

There are a lot of similarities between running and life. Unfortunately, in life, you can’t decide you’re not a runner and quit. You have to keep living. And you have to put something into the effort.

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” (Oprah Winfrey)

My dad was a runner and he got me out of bed early each morning to go running as a teenager. I didn’t love it, I did it because I didn’t have a choice. And of course, it wasn’t until much later that I looked back and saw how much that experience helped me. The coaching from my dad, and his insistence that I get up each morning and face the task ahead even though I dreaded it,  is what helped me get out of bed every morning to face the misery of my unexpected life in 2009.

His insistence that I run even when I was tired or didn’t want to, helped train me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how much I wanted to quit, until I finished what I had to do. Because in running, if you quit, you miss out on the “high” that eventually comes. You don’t get the thrill of victory as you cross the finish line. But if you endure it well, hang in there, make it through adversity when life is the hardest and most challenging, it’s your opportunity to shine, with your finest performance.

“I ran my fastest marathon in the rain.” (Bill Rodgers)

So as the challenges of our unexpected lives rain down on us, may we rise to the occasion and even above it, and perform to the best of our ability. Turn in our best times. And eventually, be able to look back and see that the hard times were even possibly some of our best times.

That’s what my unexpected life is teaching me.

We Press On In Spite Of The Red Stuff

I met my cousin and her husband for breakfast yesterday.

Like all of us, in the course of their almost 24-year marriage and raising four children, they have experienced a very fair share of their own adversities. But I loved their life philosophy and had to share it: “As long as everyone is conscious, and there is no blood, we’re ok. We can get through anything!”

When faced with a challenge, they take stock of the situation, make sure everyone is conscious and the blood is taken care of, and they press on!

It’s a good perspective to have and a good way to face life and its unexpected growth opportunities.

It works, too. (Except maybe for parents of sons who play ice hockey and lacrosse! lol. Then you play on in spite of the blood!) I remember attending one of my son’s basketball games and his best friend, who also played ice hockey with him, got hit in the face. Blood was gushing everywhere. The refs stopped the game, the boy was taken out and given first aid while the court was cleaned. To everyone’s surprise (except my son, who has the passion for hockey of Joe Sakic and other professionals) the boy returned shortly, gauze hanging out of each nostril like some kind of deformed unicorn-type creature, demanding to go back in and play. The adults were dubious about letting the boy play but my son and others said, “It’s ok! He’s a hockey player!”

They let the boy back in the game and he played his heart out. So I guess sometimes we press on in spite of the red stuff too.

“Victory at all costs, victory in spite of terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.” (Winston Churchill)

And as an added bonus, sometimes we even win the game.


“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)


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