Thankful for Mountains. . . and It’s not about the Bike (Guest Post by Cindi McNair)

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I open one eye and blink towards the blue illuminated numbers showing 5:50 AM.  With a stretch, I roll over and slip one foot on the floor, gently sliding out of bed.  I dress in the dark, tip-toe past my husband, and quietly close the bedroom door behind me.  Next, I creep past the dog in his kennel, (who doesn’t miss a thing), giving me a quiet whimper-yawn as I sneak out the front door to my bike locked up on the front porch.  It feels like it must be nearly 80 degrees and the humidity seems 90% as I swing my leg over my bike and roll down the driveway to begin my ride.  Still sleepy, and with a yawn, I whisper “Thank you God” as I get myself ready to bike some hills, pump my legs and get my heart racing for 6-7 miles of bike trails.

They say it takes the benefits of regular exercise 6-8 weeks to appear, and the investment in your health will be invaluable.  I do feel stronger, and my husband even says I move like I’m stronger, as I’ve been doing this now for over 6 weeks now. Thank you God.  A lot of people would be looking at this as terrific progress in creating a healthy habit of morning exercise, but to be honest, I am counting the days until I can quit!  Walking and yoga are much more my style for sure.  

But I am in training, getting ready for my personal “Super Bowl” if you will, because in less than a month I will be hiking the Inca Trail up Machu Picchu in Peru with a team of 20 people, most of whom I’ve never met.  So I’m doing my best to get this bod in shape, as the better shape I’m in, the more I will enjoy the trek up 11,000 feet in the Andes Mts. to one of the most incredible places on earth.  The hike is quite a reach for me.  I’m not a hiker (haven’t hiked in 30 years since high school!) and I’m really not a biker.  (Not since college when I peddled around 40 hours a week as a Bike Cop…ok, Bike Patrol is the right language, for two summers.)

But this is like a victory lap I am excited to be working toward.  See I am a survivor, and this year I am celebrating a big victory.  And as I pondered a way to celebrate, or give back, and be thankful, I became aware of an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for Multiple Myeloma (a blood cancer) through a program called Moving Mountains for Myelmona (MM4MM), through Takeda Oncology. As I learned about the opportunity, it seemed surreal that I could hike one of the most celebrated places on earth to benefit others with cancer!  The team consists of multiple myeloma patients, caregivers, doctors, nurses and researchers who have come together to raise funds and awareness for research.  

Ten years ago this October I had a stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, with the life expectancy at the time of 5-7 years. I remember making the decision to take on this hike (and certainly jump out of my box) in January, being able to raise funds and awareness as I trained for the journey.  It wasn’t really about the hike or about the mountain or even about this beautiful place, but rather a way to celebrate these 10 amazing and remarkable years of LIVING.  Thank you God! Since then I’ve been climbing my own “mountain”, every day, one step after another, just keeping on, keeping on.  Working through remission, and relapse, and chemo drugs, pushing through the physical burdens to take another breath and appreciate the gift of every day’s “view”.  

So as I train and climb my mountain, I have so much to be thankful for, EVERY DAY.  Having cancer allows me to live my life with intention, to not let the little things in life de-rail me (most days!) from what’s important.  My gratitude builds as I train for my climb.  And I’m counting the days to getting back to walking and yoga!  Thank you God!

(What wisdom, awesome Cindi.  Thank you.  You can contribute and/or check out my friend’s story here, and find Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma on Facebook. #MovingMtns4MM)

Summer Notes: Coneflowers and Cattails

I opened the FaceTime Ap on my phone to see my sister, now a mother for the first time.  Her face was aglow, her shirt a soft cotton, plaid, her elbow curled around her little person.  A girl.  She turned the camera over to linger on little fingers.

Thank you, little Ellie, for joining us.   For being a light.  We’ve been waiting for you, loving you.  Your parents are two strong people with so much love ready.  Their farm will be a fantastic world to explore.  I don’t know how to be an aunt, but I don’t know how to do most of the things I do, so we’ll be okay.  I’m so glad you’re here.


I clicked on a video link anxious about what I might see.  I watched a man die at age 32, the age I am, and it didn’t feel numb or far away.  I looked up his name, wanting to remember it.  Philando Castille.  I don’t know what to do with this hurt.  But I see it.  Reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates with my book club has had me thinking, and this video leaves this white girl from Nebraska unsure of what to say.  My gratitude is to Diamond Reynolds, Philando’s girlfriend, for helping me see at least in part, so that I might have more courage with my words.

I stood in a line of bridesmaids and turned my neck to see his face, my best guy friend.  I saw the anxiousness, the anticipation, his shoulders just a little bit higher, held up with the love that was waiting after this day filled with expectations.  As she moved through that wooden archway, so alive in her white lace, smiling that smile that looks just as gorgeous in her workout gear, sparkling all the way to the grass, his face softened, shoulders set down in a thankfulness so deep we were all in it.

You’ve always been top notch husband material–although a little short and well-shaven for my taste–the most obvious not-yet-father-father in the world.  That time helped you realize her when you met her.  To see you so thankful makes me thankful.  Cool how that works.

This year on New Year’s eve, my husband was outside the bar with the task of lighting off fireworks when we were counting down the seconds to 2016 with knee-tapping tunes played by my favorite music choosers the world.  Instead of lamenting the fact that Ralph was outside, I stood back and saw you and your bride-to-be, living slow as the room danced around you with party blowers and silly glasses.  It sounds odd (and maybe a little creepy) to say that to watch you two kiss that night was one of my favorite moments this year, but it was and is.  As the year turned, I saw both of you shining, knowing that 2016 would hold such joy.  To be around a love like that is to be filled up.  So glad to see you two as one.  Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

We emerged from the movie, my two little ones and me.  The popcorn bucket had been too big, but we ate it all.  We headed to potty before our ride home, and the bathroom was quiet, empty after this summer matinee.  Charli asked that I notice how she could reach the sink now, how she could see her own eyes in the mirror.  
“Remember when I was three momma, and how I couldn’t see, and see how I can see now.”
I do. 
And she turned around grinning and grabbed my hands and started laughing for no real reason, and started jumping up and down.  And I forgot myself and jumped too, and we laughed so loud and so long, and for once I didn’t stop when I started to wonder what someone else might think if they came in and saw us.  I was too busy swimming in this gift of momma love–her last summer before preschool–so thankful for time together after a year that so often felt apart.

“And now we welcome the new year,
full of things that have never been.” – Rilke

Today’s Thanks:
Coneflowers and Cattails and Electric Purple Wild Flax
Huge Walnuts
Quarts of New Pickles on a Purple Dishtowel
Her first Pencil Box – Pink Princesses of Course
Cheers to 8 Years of Marriage and 33 Years of life!