"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, September 20, 2018

UK Day 8- Drunk Kids to Edinburgh

Friday morning was another early one.  It was awful saying goodbye to Inverness, as we'd fallen in love with the town in such a short period.  We took a taxi back to the train station and as we drove through the village one last time, I made a silent vow to return one day.  There was a deep sense of sadness, but only because it came from a profound connectivity to the area.  We were now taking a train back to Edinburgh by way of Perth.  The total route would take about three and a half hours but when we got to the platform, we discovered the train to already be [almost] full, even though it was  late morning.  Apparently there was a concert in Glasgow that evening and many people were traveling that way for it.  We were not able to sit together as a family during the first leg of the journey, but we DID get to sit around a lot of drunk teenagers, so that was loads of fun!

It's always a good time when at only 10:00 in the morning, the kids are already pulling out their beer and wine coolers.  I say "kids" because the legal drinking age in the UK is eighteen, and these kids were just barely of age.  I remember what it was like when I was finally old enough to do illicit things and I made an effort to let the world know I was old enough.  I'm sure that's what these kids were doing as well.  But my God, were they loud and ridiculously slashed.  The F word flew in abundance as the kids shouted to one another from opposite ends of the car and in all of it, we were thrilled that our children were all sitting split up from each other.  At one point I got up to use the restroom and had to make my way through all the drunkards.  They weren't making it easy to get through, and I got mad.  I was polite, but mad.  

On my way back through, one of the guys who originally shouted profanity in my face, was now fully intoxicated and as I passed him again, he shouted out, "Hey!  You're that hot mom!  Hey lads, it's the hot mom!"  Ha.  I doubt he would have said such things in a sober state, as he'd called me a bitch a few minutes before.  

Eventually, fellow passengers got up and moved around to let this "large" American family sit closer to each other.  At least now we were only one row away from our kids, instead of an entire car.  By this time, most of the teenagers were passed out and sleeping, so the train was a lot quieter.  I spent the ride through the Cairngorms National Park just looking out the window, watching the rain splatter against the glass, and imaging the possibility of my ancestors treking across that very land.  The woods were barren, but beautiful.  The farms and fields were placid.  When starting out on our trip, I never would have imagined that train rides would be one of my favorite parts, but I really and truly loved the trains.  

Eventually we stopped in Perth, which was the connection for everyone going on to Glasgow.  We were sad to see our new drunk teenage friends leave, but not THAT sad.  At least half the train emptied in Perth and then we were on our way to Edinburgh.  This would be our last long train ride and I was truly crestfallen to see it come to an end.  

We arrived in Edinburgh early afternoon and luckily, our hotel was only about five blocks from the train station.  Just stepping out into the city had us realizing that the capital was unlike anything else we'd patronized on our trip thus far.  It was older than time and had a different feel than the small towns and villages we'd visited in England, Wales, and definitely the smaller towns in Scotland.  Even London was extremely different than Edinburgh.  While London seemed all about the monarchy, Scotland's capital felt medieval and spoke of ancient battles and warriors.  It's a difficult thing to explain, really. I'd spent some time looking at graduate programs in my same field and fantasized about taking the family and studying abroad and while I thought Cambridge was where my heart lived, walking through the streets of Edinburgh made me see that my heart truly lived there.  There even came a point when Cody admitted that the thought of living at the University of Edinburgh for a few years was pretty damn tempting.

Right?!  This could be our life every single day!  Gothic Majesty.  Pure Gothic majesty!

We checked into our hotel which was right on Princes Street.  Because we hadn't known where we were staying or what we were doing anywhere and were literally flying by the seat of our pants, we didn't find the place until about midnight the night before.  And we lucked out with their rates because they just wanted to fill rooms and gave us the rooms at a great price.  After checking in and dropping our luggage, we set out on foot to find food because we hadn't eaten breakfast that morning and were starving.  After wandering for a while, we found this quaint pub in the basement of a larger building.  The Boozy Cow.  It was delicious, and they even had American yellow mustard!

One of Cody's bucket-list items was to climb Arthur's Seat.  It's a mountain (by Scotland standards) that has a rise of about 1,000 feet from base to summit.  We took a cab out that way because it was a mile outside of the city and the kids were too tired to make the walk. Our cabbie was wildly interesting and told us all kinds of tidbits about the city.  On the way, we passed the Holyrood Palace and flying atop it was the English flag.  The cabbie told us that meant someone from the Royal Family was staying there, because that's why the flag was waving (and there was a wee bit of distaste in his voice as the words slipped over his tongue).  Like the smart-ass I am, I whispered to the kids, "Oh look, children!  That means the Royal Butt Wiper must be staying there too!"  Because of course, the Royals don't even wipe their own butts and they take their Butt Wiper with them on every holiday.

Like most days in that part of the world, it was COLD and RAINY and WINDY.  Not the best kind of weather to do a climb like that, but the kids were troopers.  As we climbed, it was surreal to think of William Wallace and the like traversing that same place.  It was a difficult hike in that weather, but we made it to the summit, wet and cold, and my mama bear instincts were going mad when the kids got close to the edge.  However, looking out at the city and the ocean was unbelievable and made the climb worth every step.  

On the way back down, we stopped at some Abby ruins. 

Now soaking wet, we took off on foot and walked back to the city.  We stopped at Holyrood, but didn't catch a glimpse of the Butt Wiper. Darn it!  However, we did attempt to find a bus and walked for a long time as we tried to figure out the proper route that would drop us back near Princes Street.  We never did and while we could have walked, we were exhausted and covered in rain and mud so we took another taxi.  We decided to utilize our time the best way we could, so we didn't go back to the hotel and get dry.  Instead, we took shelter inside a kilt shop and stayed in there for the longest time and probably spent way too much money on trinkets.  But I did buy a tartan wool blanket that now sits on the back of the couch in our home, and I use it all the time.  The shop was enormous and I don't know what was more enjoyable- looking around or talking to the locals.  The incredible thing about Scotland is that no one is in a hurry.  I guess because the weather is always cold and wet, people spend a great amount of time indoors simply chatting, and I loved it.

The Chudda is such a bonny wee lass. 
While Cody was being fitted for a waistcoat and blazer, I took the kids upstairs to a tea shop that was just wrapping up afternoon tea, but the proprietor was kind enough to let us stay and eat and get cozy.  The shop had the perfect overlook of the city and we likely stayed the for an hour or so and I tried a couple of new tea varieties that were excellent.  

Cody and Ethan found us upstairs in the tea room, but we finally decided to retire a little early and head back down the street to the hotel.  We hadn't been able to do laundry in days and we were almost out of clean drawers, so after getting the kids settled in their room (seriously, they turned on the TV and found a movie about the Loch Ness Monster...kind of like Jaws but all about killer Nessy and her killer baby...HILARIOUS!!) I went back to our room and started doing laundry in the bathtub.  Cody, however, ventured out on the town and found a store selling all kinds of clothes (It was a Primark; a store that we'd become very familiar with over the next week!).  He bought several packs of undies and then it was time for bed.  I was still doing school work while traveling, so I finished writing a paper and hit the hay.  

It had been an incredibly day.  Long and tiring, but incredible.  It was hard to believe that in less than twenty-four hours and in another country, we'd be reuniting with our Irish family and I tried to sleep, but it was hard to make my mind shut off that night!  I was far too excited to hug my Irish son again!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Ugly Truth About 13.1

I've been in pain every single day since I was eighteen.  I noticed it for the first time when I was in a step aerobics class and felt a burning kind of electrical pain in one of my feet.  It felt like it feels when you put a 9-volt battery to the tip of your tongue.

Twelve years later, I finally found the right doctor who discovered I had tumors covering the nerves in my feet.  In both feet.  I'd been living with tumors in my feet for twelve years and in August 2011, I had both feet cut open and ligaments severed and nerves stripped.  A few of the nerves were removed completely, but everything grew back.  Since then, I've had more operations on my feet for the exact same thing but just like that first time, the problem comes right back.  The other day one of the kids asked if I was okay and I made the comment that my feet hurt, and it surprised her because apparently, I rarely talk about the horrible neurological condition that I live with every day.

I'm a runner.  I run long races and last year I ran an Olympic triathlon only eleven weeks after foot surgery.  Five weeks after that, I ran a half marathon.  This is the story of my life.  I run, I hurt, I have surgery, I recover, and I run again.  Often times, I run with tumors inside my feet.

On top of it, I have severe asthma. It's great fun.

I've spent the last twenty-four hours in and out of tears.  A LOT of tears.  I ran what is probably my last long race yesterday and the realization that it is my last hurts almost as much as my feet hurt every day.  And while I've been feeling sorry for myself and wanting to write it all out, it's a good thing that I didn't spew out the venom via my keyboard yesterday when I was engulfed in the deepest pit of hell.  I've been in a very dark and lonely place and yesterday was really bad, but today I'm able to step back a bit and view things through a more objective lens, so here goes.

A month ago, the doctor put me on a different controller medication for my asthma and after a week, I was instructed to go for a HARD run to test the effectiveness of the med.  The fun thing about these meds is that it's really a game of trial and error to see what works with my body.  So two weeks ago, I pushed myself to the absolute max (probably too hard) and ended up with a massive attack right there at the gym.  I've rarely experienced them so badly, but luckily it was in a controlled environment and I had my rescue inhaler close by.  

Alright, I guess I can't run that hard and that fast.  No biggie, I'll cut back a little.

And so after a lot of trial and error, I found my threshold and while it was much slower than I wanted and left me feeling kind of depressed, I spent a couple of days chewing on it and came to terms that I couldn't run as fast as I'd been pushing myself to run.  My lungs simply could not tolerate anything past that threshold, so that was it.  Okay.  Fine.

So race day came.  I was ready.  I'd broken in my new Brookes trainers.  My bags were packed.  My muscles were loaded to the brim with glycogen that was just waiting to get used.  I was prepared and I was excited to put another 13.1 miles in the books and hang another medal on my wall.  The same race the previous year had been great, and I was going to beat my PR by at least five minutes.

Audrey came by to pick me up at 4:45 that morning.  The last bus up the mountain was leaving at 5:30, and we had it neatly planned out.  This was not our first rodeo and we knew what we were doing.  The drive to the race base was twenty-five minutes from the house and right before our arrival, I realized that the pack with my rescue inhaler and my epi pen was still sitting on the kitchen counter.  I started panicking and the thing is, my lungs can't tolerate even the slightest bit of excitement anymore, so I have to be very careful.  Audrey calmed me down and said that if I called Cody, maybe he could run me my supplies before the last bus left.  Luckily, he woke up and answered his phone but the clock was ticking and every second mattered.

I told Audrey and Brittany to go ahead to the buses without me and that if Cody got there in time and I got my meds in time, that I would meet them there.  Well, Cody pulled in right at 5:32.  All the roads were closed around the race base, but I met him in the dark at an intersection that was four blocks away from the buses.  It was the best he could do, so I grabbed my supplies and started sprinting to the buses.

That was a huge mistake.  I sprinted hard and I sprinted fast.  The last buses were pulling away and I was still a hundred feet away, so I ran harder.  And harder. My lungs were already constricting, but I didn't stop.  One of the volunteers in a reflective vest saw me and shouted "Are you needing the bus?"

I couldn't shout back because I had no air, but he stopped the bus and the driver opened the door and I hopped into the one and only remaining seat.

(Had I been in my right mind and not gasping for air, I would have shouted back that I'd just robbed the 7-11 and could use a ride.)

But I.  Had.  No.  Air.

I riffled through and found my rescue inhaler and couldn't even get it inside my lungs because to do so, I had to inhale and they were spasming so wildly that I couldn't open them long enough.  But finally I did, and I took three huge puffs.  Half a minute but what felt like an eternity later, I was breathing again.  But as always happens with that terrible medication, I was full of jitters and nausea.  But...at least I could breathe.  I tried to swallow pieces of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and banana (my traditional hour-before-the-race-starts meal) on the long ride, but I was so nauseous that I could barely get any of it inside of me.  I was dizzy, sick, and poorly oxygenated.  This was a terrible start and on top of it, I had no idea where the rest of my party was.

Ten miles up the mountain, the bus dropped our load off at the regular spot.  It was a sea of port-a-potties and mylar blankets wrapped around runners to keep warm.  I looked for Audrey and Brittany for about ten minutes, but then gave up and spent the next half hour sitting on the ground with my head between my knees as I tried to regain homeostasis. 

Sitting on the ground, trying to oxygenate my blood.
The race began. My headphones were in.  I was okay.

I was doing fine for the first five miles.  My breathing was regular (enough) and I wasn't hurting too much.  People who don't run downhill assume it's easy, and that's a crazy myth.  Downhill running is terrible and painful because you're body contorts in a very unnatural way and doing that for ten miles is just plain torture.  And for someone with foot problems, it's even worse because the ball of the foot takes an even GREATER pounding than normal.  It was at mile eight that I finally had to stop and let a medic work on my foot.  I came upon an aide station and I had no choice but to stop, knowing it was going to hurt my time.  But my right foot was on fire and because of the way I was having to adjust my stride to accommodate the pain, it was now hurting the entire right side of my body from my shoulder to my ankle.  I was in bad shape, but not bad enough shape.  So I got my foot iced and slathered in Bengay and taped and I was back on the road twelve minutes later.

This is why I put myself through it.  The view is unbelievable. 

The downhill portion ended just before mile ten, with the remaining three-ish miles going partially uphill and then flat.  It was at mile nine that I felt it in my lungs.  All at once, they started closing up.  I stopped and took one puff on my inhaler, but I knew that wasn't cutting it.  The spasming got worse and worse, but I kept willing it away.  I ran through the pain.  I started doing all of my mental tricks to keep going.  But at the bottom of the mountain, the world started spinning and going fuzzy and I knew I was becoming severely oxygen deprived.  

I stumbled my way over to the side and tried to adjust my pack to my front so I could find my epinephrine.  And like always happens when I can't breathe, I started panicking.  And then there was a hand on my shoulder and a voice asking if I was okay, and I looked up through blurry vision to see a police officer.  Next to him was a volunteer in a reflective vest, and somehow I managed to get the words out that I needed my epi pen.  The volunteer turned out to be a retired paramedic and he asked if I was having an allergic reaction and I mouthed the word "ASTHMA" and he took the pen and immediately shot me hard and fast right in the middle of my right quadricep.

And like always happens, it burned.  Like hell. Only this time it was going into severely inflamed muscle tissue that had just run ten miles downhill, which is already worse on the muscle than running flat.  Holy Jesus.  It burned.

He took my inhaler and put it in my mouth an after three large puffs, I was breathing again.  The fun thing about epinephrine is that when it works, it works ALL at once.  Suddenly, everything opened up and air was flowing into my lungs.  I sat there and the cop was on his radio asking for an ambulance and I jumped up (too fast) and shouted NOOO!!!  We argued for a minute.  He said I needed oxygen, and the paramedic was counting my pulse and saying it was way too high.  But my capillary refill was good, and the cop said by law he could not FORCE me to get treatment.  We argued some more.  By this time one of the race sweepers was over talking to us, and they all tried to convince me that the race for me was over.  

It had been twenty minutes already. Twenty minutes?! I said thanks but no thanks, and took off.  The paramedic was on my tail and convinced me to make a compromise.  He asked if he could walk with me for a mile, and I agreed.  As we walked, he noticed my stride was really off and he asked me about it.  I told him about my tumors and that the one in my right foot was horrible and that each step was agony.  Again, he tried to get me to stop for the day, but I thanked him for his help and took off running again.  It was a very slow run, but it was a run none-the-less.  The whole time we were walking, racers were flying by and it was making me mental.  There's nothing worse in a race than getting passed repeatedly (well, dying is probably worse) and I was going out of my mind.

I had two miles to go.  It was mile eleven, and like with all races, this was the hardest part.  Especially after having two asthma attacks in three hours and having a foot that felt like a metal blade was being shoved into it with each step.  I came upon another aide station and knew that if I didn't stop again, I wasn't going to make it to the end.  So I stopped, I worked on my foot (and my other foot this time) all by myself, and was back on the road.

But this time, the ice and ointment didn't help.  Or maybe it was the burning in my right quad that was making me fall apart, but I was done.  I couldn't finish.  It was too hard, and I stopped right in the middle and started shaking.  And then I thought of Garrett, like I'd done all morning, and asked him for help.  My eyes filled with tears and I said, "Baby, I don't think I can do this. I need your help.  I need you with me."  

And so I started running again.  But not even ten seconds later, a song came on my iPod.  It had been on shuffle all morning and so far every song had been a good one.  But right then and there, Kenny Chesney's "Who You'd Be Today" was blasting in my ears, and the tears started falling in droves.  Now even on a normal day with normal lungs and no pain, it's hard to run and cry at the same time.  But in that moment?  Sweet God.  

Sunny days seem to hurt the most.  I wear the pain like a heavy coat.  I see you everywhere I go.  I see your smile I see your face.  I hear you laughing in the rain. I still can't believe you're gone. It ain't fair you died too young. Like a story that had just begun. But death tore the pages all away. God knows that I miss you.  All the hell that I've been through. Just knowing no one could take your place. Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today. Would you see the world?  Would you chase your dreams?  Settle down with a family? I wonder what would you name your babies?  Some days the sky's so blue.  I feel like I can talk to you.  And I know it might sound crazy.  

The first time I ran this particular race was exactly two months after Garrett died.  I don't know how I did it, but each time I've done it since, it fills me with the same guttural sense of grief and despair that I felt on that day.  And as I ran down Fort Union Boulevard, nothing in the world could have assuaged the hurt inside of me.  And in a strange way, I was grateful for it because it served as a distractor from the pain in my feet and thigh and lungs.  But the distraction was short-lived when the next few songs came on, which perfectly followed suit to the one that made me break down.  

As I limped along and the tears fell, I looked around at my fellow racers and was overcome with anger and bitterness.  I wondered who in my company had been dealt such a hand.  I know we each have our trials, but I looked at them and thought how easy their lives must be.  I couldn't fathom that anyone else on that course was suffering like I was.  And my physical pain was the easiest part.  My heart is broken, and that kind of pain is the worst of all pains.  I felt utterly alone and beside myself with sadness.

The finish line was two blocks away and I had the good mind to stop and just walk away.  To leave it all. But I looked it head-on and audibly whispered to Garrett, "Come on, kid.  Let's finish this thing."

I came upon the crowd of spectators and looked for Cody and the kids.  I saw no one that I knew.  No one.  The solitude that surrounded me was thick, in spite of the thousands of faces.  I stepped over the finish line and they said my name over the speaker and I grabbed my medal and a cold rag and draped them both around my neck and stumbled to a stopping place.  And then I heard my name being called above the crowd and looked around and spotted my husband.  And with that, I could not control my emotions.  I reached over the barricade and grabbed him and cried in great big heaves.  I cried so hard I thought my lungs would burst.  He just held me and after a minute, I reached down and grabbed Lauren and Devin and held them.  Ethan and Hailey were at a theatre rehearsal, but I'd never been so grateful to see at least part of my family.  

Once I stopped running and when I went to walk again, my right leg hardly worked at all.  I looked at the injection site and it was bright red and rock hard through the whole muscle.  A high dose of adrenaline like that on rested tissue already disturbs it enough, but on very inflamed and torn tissue like my leg, it did a real number.  We walked twenty minutes to the car and when we got inside, I just cried.  I told Cody the whole story and then I got quiet and silently berated myself like I'm so good at doing.  I'd never say that about anyone else that I loved.  I'd never tell them they were useless.  Stupid.  Broken.  Worthless.  Ugly.  A failure.  A big failure.  A big fat failure.  And yet, I said those things to myself.

I got home and couldn't make it up the stairs without help.  That right leg...it was bad.  Cody helped me into our room and then I took a quick shower and cried some more and then climbed into bed and cried some more.  My tears were for different reasons, and none of them were for physical pain.  Even though my feet felt broken and my knees hurt and I couldn't move my right leg without injuring it worse, my tears were for the invisible pain on the inside.  I laid there and again thought of the other racers who ended the day with smiles and cheers.  I imagined their happy lives.  I imagined their happy childhoods.  I imagined their happy families.  I imagined them having all of their children and not suffering ever minute of every day with the guilt of causing the death of one of their children.  I imagined them keeping all of their children alive. I imagined them never seeing the inside of an OR, and me having patronized sixteen of them (seventeen if I count the one wherein my son died).  I imagined their bodies that just...work.  And how mine never catches a break.  I thought of my sadness and I cried and I cried until I was dry.

Cody sat on the bed and tried to tell me I was wrong.  He tried to tell me he was proud, and that I earned that medal more than any person who had an easy run.  Who has an easy LIFE.  But none of it mattered.  Yesterday, I could only think of my failures and my shortcomings.  Yesterday I could only focus on the fact that I had to retire my running shoes and that it was one more thing I could no longer do.  

Today, I focused on school and on one of the few things I can control...for now.  My intellect.  My ability to learn.  My ability to write.  My ability to do statistics. My ability to research.  My ability to make good grades.  Maybe I'll run again.  Maybe I won't.  Maybe I'll never be able to do that Pike's Peak climb that I so badly desire.  Maybe my physical capabilities have been hindered, but it's not the end of the world.  

For now, I'm taking a little bit of time to feel sorry for myself.  

But not too long.

Because after all, I'm living for Garrett. And I'm living for four other people who call me Mom.

PS, did I mention I have chronic kidney stones?  Life's nothing if not a bowl full of cherries!!!

Monday, August 27, 2018

About Small Talk

It's difficult for me now.  I was never great at chit chat, but now it's pure agony.  When at a gathering, I'm approached by someone I haven't seen in a while and the dreaded question is asked.  Something along the line of "How are you?"  There's a hundred ways in which to ask this question and regardless of the way it's posed, it does the same thing to me.  I feel it first in my hands, as they instantly go clammy.  Then it runs up through my arms and lands right in the middle of my chest.

Does she really want to know?  And if so, how much?  Surely she doesn't want the gory details.  She's simply being polite because we're standing at the cooler of drinks and I'm reaching for one and so is she, and silence is terrible.  How am I?  I don't know how to answer that question.  The words want to burst out of me and keeping them contained is almost as painful and awkward as letting them out.  They want to explode, but she doesn't need that kind of verbal vomit all over her crisp and happy life.  And so, I answer with a lie.

"Things are great.  Just doing the usual."

God, it's such a lie.  Things are not great.  Things are messy.  Things are complicated.  Things are painful.  Nothing is clear.  Nothing is easy.  The path before me has never been so crooked.

Tonight we went to an annual football kick-off BBQ that we look forward to each year.  It's a time to see people we rarely get to see, and with it, comes a situation that always leaves me anxious because the days are always hard, and nothing has gotten better in the last year.  No one wants to hear that, as that's not why they came to the BBQ.  They came to enjoy an evening with friends and food and football.  But what few understand is that wherever we go, a crap load of heartache and discomfort follows.  

It cleared out and we remained while the kids finished up jumping in the bounce house.  It was a breath of fresh air to talk to a good friend that I hardly ever see, and it's sad because we are practically neighbors.  But life is busy, and it's hard to make time for commiseration with another broken person.  Her husband dropped dead of a heart condition six years ago when she was a young mom with a little toddler.  The road has been tumultuous for her, to say the least.  I love her to pieces and tonight after the crowd had gone, we stayed and talked about all the things that are difficult to keep inside.  You know, the real answer to that dreaded question that's too painful and inconvenient for many people.  But I felt like I could really tell her because she "got" it.

How am I?  Well, pull up a chair.  I'm glad you asked.

We finally said goodbye and vowed to get together before next year but as I was driving home, I had the thought that maybe I should start answering people at coolers with a bit more candor.  They ask the question at the cooler, and I lie.  I lie because it's easy, but perhaps I'm not giving them enough credit where credit is due.  Perhaps they really want to know how I'm doing.  Perhaps they remember that this horrible thing happened and it ripped us to pieces and no one simply gets over something like that and that the rippling effect is endless, as it's touched every fraction of our lives.  Maybe as we're standing there at the cooler, she wants to ask the obvious thing because she sees it on my face, but she doesn't want to upset me.  So she simply asks, "How are you?"

And I lie.  And I'm doing her a disservice by robbing her of the chance to be vulnerable with someone.  I believe that we are in this life together to learn from and help each other and when I lie, I'm doing nothing for either of us.  I know better than anyone that when we bleed in front of each other and allow them to nurse our wounds, that only then are we truly free to have this human experience in the manner that it was intended.  I need to bleed more.  I need to let others nurse more.  I say I'm an open book, but that's not true.  I need to be better at authentically bleeding because in doing that, we'll both learn something.

Ethan and I had these smiles glued on tonight, but it was a farce.  It's been a rough go for us lately, and it's okay for people to know that.  It's okay to not be perfect.  It's okay to show people just how imperfect we are.