Avon Walk

Once a Princess…..

Earlier this year I posted that I was finished hating myself and the way I looked.  Many people thought that post Je Suis Finis was a suicide note, but I assure you I never wanted to die, but I did want to off the self loathing sad part of me. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to accomplish this Herculean task at the time, but I meant it.  I had tried to start “eating better” and “exercising more” many times to no avail.  It was too hard.  It took too long.  What was the point?  I decided to try a different approach and last March I signed up to participate in The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I found the training schedule on line and I started doing it.  I had to do it because I didn’t want to collapse somewhere on the streets of Santa Barbara and be carried off to the medical tent to get an I.V.  Wait, that did happen anyway, except I walked all the way to the finish line and into the medical tent myself. Take that! Anyway, I started slowly, a few miles at a time.  After a few months I added Bikrim Yoga to my training, which is hot yoga which sucks and I love it.  I was working out harder than I had in years and I started feeling better and better.  And, I started losing weight.  Here’s the thing though…I wasn’t doing any of this to lose weight. (Although I’m not stupid I knew that would happen.) Instead, I did this to challenge myself and to raise money for a really good cause. I was not working out because I was hideous and need to fix myself. How could anyone do that for very long? I was taking care of myself by training and eating well to accomplish a goal that wasn’t only about me.  I have only lost about 12 pounds, but I feel so good I don’t care. I am not going to look like I did when I was 20, 30, or even 40, but I look great for me at 50, 51…..whatever.

Gaby, Addie and Sofie

Speaking of Princesses. Last night was Halloween and Addie was a Princess and Sofie was Ke$ha. I’m so proud. I have been a Princess for Halloween every year except twice.  In 1966 I was Davy Jones from the Monkees (RIP) and in 8th Grade some friends an I all decided we would be Circus Performers. At school on Halloween as I was stood among the clowns, acrobats, and lion tamers, they all glared at me and asked what my gown, fur coat and tiara could possibly have to do with the circus.  I told them I was the owner.  This year I wore a crown like I always do on Halloween and I made Don take my picture like I always do on Halloween. When I looked at the picture I was surprised when I didn’t see a young beautiful circus owner, Miss Brea, or Cinderella.  Instead I saw who I am now,  a crazy lady in a crown, but I liked it. I like how I look right now really for the first time in my life and please God I hope it lasts.

Crazy Lady Wearing Crown and Obama Pin

So now that I have been feeling good about myself for about ten minutes I feel completely qualified to tell you how you too can be as fabulous as I.

1.Thinking you are ugly all the time is still thinking about yourself all the time and is still self absorbed so start thinking about how you can help others.

2.  Have a goal to be strong and feel better.  (Not to lose weight).  Take baby steps, be kind to yourself and don’t quit when it gets hard.

3. Make sure the goal is not too easy or too difficult but make sure it is convenient.  For me the La Canada trails and Bikrim are right outside my door.  Well, not right outside my door because that would be weird, but you get the point.

4. Buy yourself a crown and wear it. Trust me this really helps

Lastly, remember medical science is going to keep us alive probably until we are one hundred and we will want to have the strength to get out of bed and walk at least as far as the kitchen. Now that is a good goal.

It’s Not A Race

Coffee and Warm Up
I did it!  I finished (barely) but I finished.  We began At Chase Palm Park on the beach in Santa Barbara and I had some coffee while I watched the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean.  I was speaking to Peggy on the phone, getting a last minute pep talk, when a trainer come onto the stage to lead a warm-up.  Naturally, I thought her warm-up was all wrong, and I quit doing it completely when she started yelling at the crowd to “get going, come on, pick it up!” I am not a person who is motivated by someone shouting at me to “squat like I mean it.”  Instead, I did my own warm-up that I developed over the years that does not even require you to put down your coffee.  When it was time to start I realized I was at the far end of where the walkers were going, and I was stuck in the back of the huge pink mob.  I really didn’t like seeing all that pink ahead of me, so I starting weaving and dodging to pass people and break out of the crowd.  Fortunately, I only knocked over a couple of them.
After about the fifth mile I realized there were no walkers behind me, and I began to worry I had wandered off (it could happen), so I caught up to someone and asked her where the other walkers were.  She told me that we were quite ahead of the pack……  Really? It was like a bell went off in my head and all plans of walking at the pace I had trained for were gone.  Now, as some of you know, I can on occasion be a little competitive, and even though this was “not a race,” there was no way now I was not going to finish “quite ahead of the pack.”  Pace be damned! There were rest stops every mile and a half or so but I kept passing them because there was another one in a mile and half and I didn’t want to waste time filling my water bottles or going to the bathroom.  I passed one stop at around 11 miles and a man yelled after me, “If you don’t have to urinate you are not drinking enough water!”  “Urinating is for losers!” I replied and kept right on going.  I did allow thirty minutes for lunch and did some stretching before taking off again, and even though this was “not a race,” I loved that I was leaving the lunch stop just as the first large groups of pink were arriving.  I continued along throughout the day feeling pretty good until about the last six miles.  I was starting to really stiffen up, but because this was “not a race“ I kept really pushing myself.  I finished three hours before the pace you needed to walk in order to finish on time.  It was great!  The port-a-potties were still clean, I didn’t have to wait in line for the shower, and I was able to get in a very short line for a massage.  I was sitting there feeling pretty smug when the “troubles” began.  I broke out into a cold sweat and felt like I was going to faint or throw up or both.  I staggered rather dramatically over to the medical tent, walked right past check-in and into a nurse who immediately laid me down on a cot.  She called over the doctor to look at me and he said, “My God, she is so young and beautiful!  Miss, can you tell me your name?”  “DeAnne, kind sir,” I choked out weakly and for some reason in a southern accent.  “DeAnne, you are very pale and clammy,“ he said, while clutching my hand. “I’m always pale.” I said.  “No one is that pale!  Nurse, get her an I.V. stat!  Stay with us, DeAnne, you’re too beautiful to die!  Not on my watch!”  Apparently I was rather dehydrated and required some fluids. After a few minutes I felt much better and I asked if I could have some pretzels and a Diet Coke so they told me I could go.  I ate dinner, did yoga, went to the show in the dining tent, promptly left said show and went to bed.
I cling to life in the Medical Tent
I awoke pretty refreshed, and, thanks to the yoga, not very sore.  I did have a few blisters, but we dancers laugh at blisters.  That reminds me of a story: The year was 1955 and I was dancing in the Corps de Ballet of the Nutcracker.   Opening night, the woman dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy inexplicably, tragically, and accidentally, through no fault of my own (that they could prove) fell down the stairs.  Since I was already in her costume, the choreographer said, “DeAnne, you’re on!”  “But Mr. Balanchine,” I replied, “I have a blister!” His large Russian accented voice could be heard throughout the theater: “Dammit , DeAnne!  I am depending on you!  The company is depending on you!  The world is depending on you!  Now, go out there and dance through it!”   “’Kay,” I said, as I skipped toward the stage, and the rest, as they say, is theater history.  I danced like I had never danced before, and didn’t even realize half of my foot was completely torn off.  As I said, we laugh at blisters.
No, the problem on Sunday was not the blisters but that I had forgotten the day before that this was “not a race” and that I was fifty-one and had way over-done it.  As we started out Sunday, I kept trying to speed up and pass people but my legs were rebelling and it was as if I were walking backwards.  Whereas on Saturday I was passing everyone, on Sunday everyone was passing me.  I mean everyone.  Old people were passing me.  People with walkers were passing me. Crawling babies were passing me.  Even snails lined up along the sidewalk were pointing at me with their stupid little antennae and mocking my slowness.  In my defense, I have to say the I.V. pole was really slowing me down.  The wheels kept getting stuck in the sidewalk cracks.  
Saturday, I carried the names of the beautiful survivors I know on my back, Peggy, Jo Ann, Aunt Shawna, Chris Christenberry, Lee, Linda N, Linda J, Jodie, Joanie, Cath, Nancy, Patrice’s Mom, Jaime’s Mom, and Christina.  Sunday they carried me.  It was really tough, but thinking about their strength got me through.  In fact, at one point, I was feeling pretty good and thought that I might speed up but I didn’t.  Instead, I raised my head up, looked around, and realized how privileged I am to be healthy and able to walk, and how much preparing for and doing this walk has enriched my life.  And with those thoughts in my head, I decide to slow down even more and enjoy the journey.  After all, “it’s not a race.”
And Scene!