Happy Birthday 23

Dad Merchant MarineMy father would have been 93 today — had he lived. He was born after the first world war, but before the second. He started out life with 23 and ended it the same way.

He was named after George Washington because they were both born on February 23. My father however, despite all the teasing of being born in the 1700’s was actually born in 1923.

2/23/23 — see the pattern?

At the end of his life, I moved him into an Independent Care facility. The room they put him in was 223. You can’t help but chuckle over that.

My father was not an easy man to love, for a lot of reasons. He was a quiet man with bouts of anger. I think mostly, in hindsight, it was easier to be angry than ask for help, to show vulnerability.

He could charm the ladies and tell a tall tale without a hint of a smile or a glimmer in his eye. His laugh was deep and contagious.

He liked to be alone, but not out of touch. Fox News ran 24/7 in his place, up to and including his death.

He liked football, he loved the ocean, and remained loyal to the Navy.

He was my dad and today is his birthday. Happy birthday day. I miss you.

MS 150 – Houston to Austin: 3 Reasons to Ride

I have never ridden in a MS 150 Ride. Like ever. It always sounded like too much for me and truth be told, like a support system I did not have. However, there are 3 really good reasons I chose to ride the BP MS 150 Houston to Austin ride this year.  MSRIDE_LOGO

The main 2 reasons I had for not riding before are that I’m a shy person and trying to find a team, a good supportive team, was always overwhelming for me. Not to mention the funding aspect. I’m not very good at asking people for money — I have no problem donating money, but asking people for money makes me feel awkward.

However, late last year when I was talking to a biking buddy of mine I decided to throw caution to the wind and push outside my comfort zone, physically and mentally. So on April 15-16, 2016 I will officially be riding in my first MS Ride.

There are a lot of reasons people ride. Some are very personal and their stories hard to hear; for me, the following 3 are what made me decided to give this a go.

  1. For those who Suffer: I now personally know a handful of people who have this illness. There are a lot of unhealthy catastrophes out there, but this is the only one that I know to hit home so closely. A few years ago after suffering with a variety of symptoms I reached my limit and saw a doctor. While I do not, at this time, have MS I do have quite a few symptoms that fall into the autoimmune category, of which MS is one. My doctors and I have discovered that I have a couple autoimmune diseases already and the indications of a few more as I get older. MS is on the list of possibilities. So while I ride for my friends with this debilitating disease, I am also riding to help find a cure for a disease which may impact me directly later in life. Which also leads me to my number two reason for riding.
  1. To Get Healthy: There is not better way to deal with health issues that to be healthy mentally and physically.

             Mentally: I started with meditation. I take time every day (well almost every day) to sit still, forget the pressures and stresses of my life. Mediation is truly me time and while I can only sit still for 30 minutes, it is 30 minutes of pure relaxation and focus. Yoga also is a great way to combine both the mental and the physical (if you think yoga is easy, think again).

            Physically: This ride is a great reason to keep up my training through the winter months, something I’ve always struggled with. It isn’t something you can just hop on your bike and go with no prep work. That would be disastrous. I have spent the last couple of months not only biking longer and longer miles with each ride, but training my body how to endure what will be hours on the bike. I have to watch what I eat as well, not only because my thyroid is pretty non-existent, but also so I can trim down and excel on my ride. I have ridden 75 miles a few times in my biking life, but never twice in two days. In getting healthy both physically and mentally I will be optimizing my complete self to tackle any more autoimmune diseases that are likely to come my way in the future.

  1. Support of the MS Community: It is a way to personally give something of myself versus just giving money. I know I will be funding raising for this worthy event, but there is something to be said to combine what I love to do with giving back to a community, to help not only those I know, but help thousands that I don’t know.

There are lots of worthy causes out there, but I hope that you decided to support me and my team in efforts to raise money and awareness for this particular disease. Thank you for taking your time for reading this post and if you are so inclined, please donate or ride with us.

Donate and support my ride

If you want to donate, please click here: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/cjspurr

Join our MS Team: ALPS

If  you want to join our team and ride with us, please click here: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/…/Bike/TXHBikeEvents…

10  Facts about MS

  1. Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system.
  2. More than 2.3 million people are affected by MS worldwide.
  3. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
  4. Women are much more likely to develop MS than men.
  5. There is no evidence MS is directly inherited.
  6. It is challenging to diagnose MS.
  7. No two people have exactly the same symptoms.
  8. MS symptoms can be invisible.
  9. The majority of people with MS do not become severely disabled.
  10. MS has no cure.

 If you want to know more about MS or find resources, please click here: http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS

For all of you who have donated to me or anyone else riding in the MS ride, thank you.

Creating a Writer

It wasn’t until I stood up at my mom’s service to speak, something I was not planning on doing, by the way, that I realized something.

It took ten years for my mother to pass as she had predicted, she followed in her mother’s footsteps – exactly. Ten years of misunderstandings, of bitterness, of laughs, of love, of drinking.

It was after the slow death occurred that family from around the country came. It was the confrontation of the past that allowed memories to form and connect that the realization came, that the writer found a home.

You see, through no fault of the humanity called family it occurred to me that my mother gave me the greatest gift of all time.

As I listened to the eulogy given my brother, followed by a speech from my stepfather and then a reading of my mom’s poetry by my sister, that I felt I should speak. After all I was the oldest child. I should say something right?

It was not what I wanted to do, it was not something I had prepared to do.

While public speaking does not bother me, it is something I have to prepare or outline, at least in my head. I can write gangbusters and spin tales like nobody’s business, but speaking eloquently on the spur of the moment is not my forte.

As I stood there and all words fled my mind, leaving my tongue and throat dry, I wondered what made me stand, why did I walk to the front of the room to look at all these people.

I frowned briefly before explaining that my mom and I never talked much, especially while growing up. I left out the part of her changing from a happy and fairly social person to one that harbored resentment and anger at the slightest misstep due to her celebrating daily in champagne. I told how I had issues talking to people, for asking for help. I struggled with finding the correct words at the right time.

I started writing things down and left them on the corner of my bureau before leaving for school. It wasn’t like I was asking for an answer or trying to take the chicken way out, so I was surprised when I returned home to find that someone had left an answer.

It may not have been proper way, but I was spurred on by a response. It became a daily habit after that. I would write something, leave it in the morning and by late afternoon a reply would follow my words.

They weren’t always complaints or great thoughts of wisdom, but they were words of encouragement and advice. It gave me the time I needed to formulate my thoughts and express myself eloquently when I lacked the quickness of mind to find the right words in the heat of the moment.

The letters went on for months and it taught me to write…it taught me to be creative.

One of my few regrets is not having the maturity of knowing I should have kept those written conversations. Those precious mementos of childhood, of a mother-daughter connection.

In the end my mom gave me the greatest gift: she created a writer.