Great New Year’s Eve Race 2021

December 31, 2021 – Today was my 11th running of this race at Stow High School. 2019 was my 10th, but last year it didn’t happen due to Covid. It was great weather today – cloudy with about 50 degrees! My choice of leggings and a long-sleeved shirt was perfect! I planned it out to where I got there just in time to walk through the building (masked) to get to the start. I took my mask off after we got started and the crowd thinned out and then put it back on to get some individual snacks afterwards. No soup this year! Normally the signature giveaway after the race is nice, hot vegetable soup, but not this year Covid, of course!

I felt pretty good and it was the first race with my new watch. I set all kinds of records for myself (ha, ha!). My official race time (my watch read a bit different) was 35:45 and I came in 249 out of 362. The exciting part was that I came in the top half of my division age group at 7 out of 17 – not too shabby. My watch said 35:06 with an 11:06/mile pace. I’m okay with that! I walked the giant hill again this year. One of these days I’ll run the whole thing!

Ready to go!

Giveaway this year was a “t-shirt” which was a pleasant surprise!

Frosty 5 Miler 2021

Dec 24, 2021

It was a beautiful morning for this race at about 45 or 50 degrees! I had the perfect clothing on – tights and a long-sleeved shirt. I had gloves and an ear warmer, but not need it after the first mile. I felt great during this race and was pretty happy with my time considering that I have not run much outside lately and have not run more than 3 miles. I ran most of it with a few walk breaks here and there. There were lots of people there, which I steered clear of, and lots of dogs! Here are some highlight stats of the race:

Time: 56.23 – 11:17/mile; 608 over all out of 757. I placed 22 out of 34 in my age group division.

Here are some highlight pics of the race:

Before the race
Done!
The crowd!
The bling!

Closure & Commencements

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Closure. I think that is what I felt today. Well, at least partly. I felt a lot of things helping out at today’s JCU graduation ceremony for the class of 2021. “All the feels”, as the cool kids say.

I volunteered to help the Career Center staff encourage graduates to scan the QR code and take the “where are you going now” survey as they gathered this morning to robe up and get ready to have their final special event at their school before going off in many directions to start the next chapter in life. I put on a dress, even make-up, including lipstick, and left my mask in my purse. As of Wednesday of this week we got the message that vaccinated folks could move about the campus mask-less if we felt comfortable. In addition I had not been on campus for over a week as I had vacation time due to family being in town. I was very ready for people! I arrived to campus and as soon as I started seeing staff that I knew started hugging them. Yes I missed them during my vacation, but more than that I missed them during this past year!! I didn’t realize how much energy it takes to stay away from people, keep them at an arms length and try to communicate through masks and socially distanced. So much energy. Today I felt like I got all that energy back and more from my interaction with people. The extrovert in me that had been squashed down for the last 12 months was set free and it felt amazing!

I got to my volunteer station with my colleague and almost immediately ran into students that I knew. So many hugs and so many selfies. It felt SO good to see their faces and give them heartfelt congratulations in person after so much Zoom. It was especially meaningful to see student leaders from my former position in student engagement. We had such an abrupt ending last March when they were all sent home plus I had no idea I would get a new job while working remote at home. We weren’t able to do the traditional end of the year dinner where we celebrate the accomplishments of the year or even say goodbye in person when I learned I was transitioning to a new role at Carroll. Our goodbyes, for the most part, were limited to the same old familiar Brady Bunch Zoom squares we had all gotten accustomed to. I did get a sweet in person visit with gifts from my two fave leaders on my first day of my new job in August which I will be forever grateful for.

I have seen students in person here and there over the spring semester, but never more than one or two at a time and usually outside.

Today was so different. Not only was pretty much everyone unmasked, but there were throngs of people everywhere! I was not fearful at all like I thought I might be. No, I found myself just so full of joy that I could not stop smiling at all of these wonderful young people who had persevered through such a tough year and made it! I felt proud, relieved, happy and just grateful to be able to share in this special moment.

Truth be told in all my 17 years at JCU I’ve only gone to graduation one other time and that was at the Wolstein Center where we were told we had to help because of the combined commencement and reunion weekends due to the 125th anniversary of the university. Usually by the time commencement rolls around I am just done with events, including senior week, and looking forward to NOT being around. I am so glad I was there today, however. I saw commencement from a fresh perspective this year and am so glad I could witness it.

In some ways I think today’s ceremony symbolized a new beginning for us all. Here’s hoping we can shed our masks and isolation for good. Here’s hoping we can be who we truly are and reach out when we need help, especially for our mental health. Here’s hoping the terms “social distance” and “unprecedented times” get retired and our masks and sanitizer get tucked away in a drawer. Okay, maybe keep the hand sanitizer around.

I want to acknowledge that in many parts of the US and the world, this is not over yet. I also want to acknowledge the enormous toll and deep impact that Covid has taken on the loss of life, employment, businesses and so many other ways known and unknown. I think it is important to always remember this!

However we must move forward in the ways that we can. I encourage each of us to stop before jumping fully back into our crazy, busy lives. Take stock and think about what lessons you need to learn from this experience. We are all different and there are no right or wrong lessons here. Hopefully this will make us more appreciative of each other and the simpler things in life. Like hugs and smiles. Congratulations JCU class of 2021! You made it!

Erin Ahern, 2021 Graduate and Student Government President 2019
Jamie Durishin 2021 Graduate and President of SUPB 2019

Happy New Year?

Sunday, March 14, 2021

I know, I know, saying Happy New Year is usually reserved for January 1 and maybe for a few weeks following, but I feel like proclaiming it today! This second weekend of March marks the one-year mark of when Covid-19 brought most of the country to a screeching halt. I recall two memorable days for me last year at that time. I am including a couple of entries from a blog post I wrote last year here to illustrate my point.

Monday, March 9, 2020 – Xavier event at the Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland. This was the last “normal” day as we knew it. In the news that afternoon were the first 3 cases of Covid-19 in Ohio. Still very new, this news was a minor backdrop at the event, but surprisingly the event went on as normal. After work I met Zach and Mike for a Xavier Admissions Event. We had a blast, shaking hands with folks with no hand sanitizer in site, ate finger food from a buffet and chatted with the Xavier admissions staff. I was super proud of Zach for having such professional conversations with folks. This was our last chance to woo staff before tuition exchange decisions were made and Zach was stoked about the people he met and the opportunity to go to Xavier. We ended the night with Mitchell’s ice cream. A good night. Little did we know that would be the end of events like that for awhile.

I find that last sentence very eerie. We had NO IDEA that “for awhile” would mean a year and more. I’m really glad that we did not know the timeframe for this madness back then. I honestly don’t think our brains could have processed the information.

The other date that sticks in my memory was the last time we spent time (inside) with my folks later that week.

Friday, March 13 – Prom Cancelled. Went to work as normal, but it was like a ghost town. Said good-bye to tearful students and got in what I knew would be my last treadmill run for awhile with my girlfriend in the Corbo workout room on campus. We brought Clorox wipes with us to the empty gym and sanitized the treadmills before and after use. Right before going to run I got a text from Zach that just said “Prom cancelled”. I went to the locker room and lost it. I had been strong all week, helping students and taking care of business, but this was my breaking point. My mind begin to spin about what else might be canceled in my son’s senior year. Just so sad. Thankfully my buddy was there to comfort me and get it together enough to get our run done! My office worked out an alternating telecommuting schedule. That night Mike and I visited my folks for what I knew would be a long time also. We chatted and ate pie in their house, but at a bit of a distance.

This day is remarkable due to the fact that it was the first of what turned out to be many, or like ALL events cancelled for the rest of my son’s senior year. It also was the last time we visited my folks in their house. I remember talking about this new term “social distancing” with them and how that was the new catchphrase. Masks were not yet recommended or mandated at that time. As a matter of fact they were discouraged then. I remember having a conversation with Zach around this time and he was asking the question, “why aren’t we wearing masks”? Very prophetic, that kid.

From that point on we got through this year with one foot in front of the other. I want to acknowledge and hold space for the many, many, many people who have died from this virus and for their family members. I am so grateful for the medical professionals and essential workers who continue to put themselves in harms way to get us through this. I also am aware that we were very lucky to continue to have gainful employment though this time when so many have been negatively impacted by this financially. I am the first to admit that while have been in this together, we were certainly all not in the same boat, for sure. All that being said this year was pretty shitty for us too. We got through it, however, and still somehow managed to: celebrate Zach’s high school graduation, send Zach off to college in the fall in person, start a new job remotely (Lisa), make special, distanced, Christmas memories with family, communicate with loved ones regularly, and navigate a couple of family medical situations – one Covid related and one not. No one learned a new language or how to knit, lost 40 pounds, or completed all of those new jigsaw puzzles. There were good days and terrible days. We laughed, we cried – all in the same hour. We Zoomed wearing yoga pants and a work appropriate shirt. We walked the dog, and then walked him again, and again. We saved money on gas and spent more money on food and paper masks. At times, the days and weeks seemed to zoom (pun intended) by. Other times, it seemed like we were still stuck in March 2020. But at the end of the day – we are still here, breathing in and out.

Cut to today! As of this morning both Mike and I are fully vaccinated and it feels like we have turned a corner in so many ways. It is hard to believe that a year ago while we were madly buying toilet paper, frantically searching for hand sanitizer and wiping down our groceries with Clorox wipes no one grasped the frightening reality of the length of time this pandemic would last, the deadly impact it would have on our country and the world, and just how changed we all would be from this shared trauma. But today we have hope! We have hope not just for our family and our little corner of life, but for the whole country and world as we continue to roll out this massive, albeit imperfect, rollout of the vaccine program. We don’t know exactly what “normal” will look like in the future, but we know it will be better. What will I do in 2 weeks when I’m fully protected by the vaccine? I’m glad you asked! Am I planning a trip to Hawaii or the Bahamas? Nah. I just want to sit on the couch and have dessert and coffee with my mom and dad at their house. After the most gigantic hug, of course, without a mask. We might even blow New Year’s Eve horns!

Life On Pause

Thurs, March 11, 2021

So I mentioned this idea of my life on pause during Bible Study last night. I’m not sure anyone really understood what I meant. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure I knew what I meant! Its like over this year things have still happened – I’ve eaten, slept, laughed, cried, exercise, worked and done all the things – well, not all the things, but I’ve done these things primarily in/from my house. Now, let the record show that I love my house and I’m so grateful for it and the creature comforts I have, including a place to work. But my time with 3-dimensional people has primarily been with my husband – which, again, is great, but where is everyone else?! Seriously. Where are they? I think the reason I enjoy Tik Tok so much (besides it being hilarious) is because it shows other people doing things, even if sometimes they are just stupid things! It reminds me that other people (lots of them) still exist in the world and I can witness it in a way. As I’m writing this this feels really pathetic, but do you follow me? And in terms of life being on pause – to be fair this is true for lots of activities that we used to do or feel safe doing – concerts, worship, theater, movies, meals with friends, work and/or work gatherings, etc. These things were all dramatically put on pause a year ago! Now, if and when we take up these things again it is with a side of anxiety, fear and yes, of course, masks and distancing. We’ve lost so much over this past year and I’m not sure if/how we will get it back again; the confidence and casual nature by which we can socialize and gather in the world. Yes, my game (life) is most definitely on pause. And before I hit the play button again I’m thinking I may need to hit the reset button or maybe even reboot the system all together! But, we will get in the game again – maybe a little road weary (read: Zoom weary), but hopefully we will have grown in ways that will help us be better humans to one another going forward. We must not waste this opportunity to reflect on the pause so we can appreciate our “free play” time all the more.

Quarantine Diaries – Day 1

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Well, it has happened. One of the Ramsey fam has tested positive for Covid-19. Zachary’s test came back positive yesterday morning. We have been so careful and have done everything right, but still this virus has invaded our home nonetheless. Thankfully so far Zach has minor symptoms to date – low-grade fever, congestion, headache, just feeling icky and now loss of taste and smell. Zach’s instructions from the doctor are to isolate/quarantine for 10 days as that is his contagious period. Mike and I as close contacts are to quarantine for 14 days starting yesterday. So far Mike and I are feeling good. Fortunately, we have food in the fridge and freezer and feel adequately prepared to hunker down and get through this.

I’m feeling hopeful (and praying) that we will all get through this with mild health consequences. The timing for this is good, as good as it can be, I guess. Zach just finished his finals. Mike just finished his current project and is does not have another one starting until after the new year. I can continue to work from home next week and have a week of vacation coming up the week of Dec 14. We have everything we need here. Truth be told I really wouldn’t be going anywhere even if we weren’t in quarantine. For me the tricky thing is the can’t go anywhere thing that gets to me. It is a whole other thing when it is my decision. Of course the backdrop of fear is always present. All the “what ifs” and unknowns keep plaguing at me, especially at 2am. But through all of this I remain hopeful and know that we will take things as they come and we WILL get through this – relying on God and each other.

This situation puts a poignant spin on advent. The season of watching and waiting is definitely upon us in a new way this year. I created an Advent calendar gift for family with readings through Dec 24 and I also made one for myself. This was a fortuitous decision as I think I will be benefiting from these readings this year!

In true Lisa fashion I decided to blog about this experience, including the good, bad and ugly. I think if nothing else this will be interesting to look back on in the future. Thanks for reading friends. I hope you and yours are happy and healthy!

Tribute Poem by Titus Kaphar

I’ve been reflecting on how to express my feelings over the last couple of weeks about the horrible murder of George Floyd and I just had no words to say. Then, this morning I came upon this beautiful painting called Analogous Colors and poem by Titus Kaphar in Time magazine and I wanted to share it with others. As an ally I remind myself that I need to amplify the voices of people of color now more than ever. Please read and share as you feel moved.

I
cannot
sell
you
this
painting.

In her expression, I see Black mothers
who are unseen, and rendered helpless in
this fury against their babies.

As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against Black people,

I paint a Black mother…
eyes closed, furrowed brow,
holding the contour of her loss.

In this what it means for us?
Are black and loss analogous colors in America?
If Malcom could not fix it,
if Martin could not fix it,
if Michael,
Sandra,
Trayvon,
Tamir,
Breonna and
Now George Floyd…
can be murdered
and nothing changes…
wouldn’t it be foolish to remain hopeful?
Must I accept that this what it means to
be Black in America?

Do
not
ask
me
to be
hopeful.

I have given up trying to describe the
feeling of knowing that I cannot be safe
in the country of my birth…

How can i explain to my children that the
very system set up to protect others could
be a threat to our existence?

How do I shield them from the
psychological impact of knowing that for
the rest of our lives we will likely be seen
as a threat, and for that
We may die?
A MacArthur won’t protect you.
A Yale degree won’t protect you.
You well-spoken plea will not
change hundreds of years of
institutionalized hate.
You will never be as eloquent as Baldwin,
you will never be as kind as King…
So, isn’t it only reasonable to believe that
there will be no change soon?

And so those without hope…
Burn

This Black mother understand the fire.
Black mothers understand despair.
I can change NOTHING in this world,
but in paint,
I can realize her…
This brings me solace…
not hope, but solace.
She walks me through the flames of rage.
My Black mother rescues me yet again.
I want to be sure that she is seen.
I want to be certain that her story is told.
And so, this time
America must hear her voice. This time
America must believe her.

One
Black
mother’s
loss
WILL
be
memorialized.

This time
I will not let her go.

I
cannot
sell
you
this
painting.

Dear Running

In honor of Global Running Day which was Wed, June 3, Coach Jenny suggested that we write a letter to “running” to talk about what it means to us so here goes…

Friday, June 5, 2020

Dear Running,

We certainly have had a complicated past. I know we met informally when I was a little girl, but I don’t remember much about you back then. I first formally met you I was in middle school or high school in gym class during the 9 minute run. I detested you with all of my being back then and would do anything not to deal with you. Often I would “forget” my gym clothes at home so I didn’t have to participate in class. Now that I think back, it really wasn’t you that I detested so much as it was what inevitably came with you. SWEAT! You see as a girl growing up I think I inherited my Dad’s genes in terms of sweat. I didn’t sparkle, glisten or even perspire like all the other girls seemed to do. No, I hard core SWEAT with all of my being anytime I did any physical activity, including running. Sweating made me very uncomfortable probably mostly because it wasn’t the “lady-like” thing to do. I was embarrassed at my sweaty self and didn’t want to be back in classes around the boys feeling and looking like that. Since I had no control over this, I just preferred to hang back and not do sports at all. Enter choir geek, which by the way was pretty great in its own right.

Fast forward to my fortieth birthday and I was ready to re-make your acquaintance again in order to help in my weight loss journey. At first I just walked, but after 1/4 of a mile I decided to run…and there I was…running in my clunky and chunky New Balance cross-trainers, feeling free and not giving a flying f**k about sweating! I came to realize that sweating is actually good for you…it cools your body down. I decided not to run away from my sweat, but embrace it – own it! Sweating is bad a**!

From here on out we became good pals. You gave me what I needed so desperately back then – a jump start at getting about 41 pounds off my body. I told everyone about you, my new best friend, and all the benefits you provided me. It has been about 11 years since we became best friends and we have been through a lot together during that time. You have been there for me when I was steaming mad and helped me run really fast! You have been there for me when I was brokenhearted and had to cry through my run. You have been there for me when I was full of joy running with my best gal pals cracking up and solving the worlds’ problems. You have been there when I celebrated finishing my first race. You have been there for me when I ran hard races, easy races and races that just sucked. You have been there for me when I was stressed and had to run the crazy off. No matter my feeling or mood, you have supported me through it and always made me feel better afterwards, no matter what. You are my escape, my fun, my fitness plan, and my faithful companion. Thanks for always being there even when I doubted myself and didn’t feel like I could call myself a runner. I hope I can count on you for as long as I can in this life. And I promise from now on, I’ll never forget my sneakers.

Big Feelings

Tues, April 21

Like a lot of you, I tuned into the “One World: Together at Home” benefit concert on Saturday night. I enjoyed the music, the appearances and the tributes to the heroes on the front lines. It was really cool knowing that I was having a shared experience with so many around the country and the world.

I was moved in particular by a snippet in the program geared towards children and I’ve been thinking about it since Saturday. Abby, a pink, pig-tailed, 4-year-old Muppet from Sesame Street gave some advice directly to children about dealing with their big feelings. While adorable, yes, I found Abby’s advice to be very profound and wise for adults too. She normalized having big feelings and said that when we have big, little, or feelings in between we can give ourselves a big, self hug, take a deep breath, and feel comforted.

During these times I’ve been thinking a lot about folks who live by themselves and are self quarantined with either just themselves or with their animals for company. I thought about Abby’s advice for these folks, especially, in terms of self comforting or self soothing. My prayer for this population is that they find solace and comfort in their own company (and if applicable their fur babies) while reaching out to family and friends for virtual comfort. Sending strength and fortitude and some relief to all who are alone or lonely.

Yesterday the governor of Ohio made the announcement that K-12 schools will be finishing up the year online rather than going back to school. This hit me hard. While I knew this was coming and I totally support the decision I had big feelings about this. In reality it only means that the 15 days in May that my son might have had in school are not going to happen now. They have had a month of online learning already. So why was I so upset? I think it just re-triggered my initial big feelings when the schools first went online. Remembering again all of the loss. Yes, I acknowledge that while we are all in this together, we are also in different boats in the same storm. But all loss is tough on those going through it. My feelings of loss are so strong both for my son’s experience, but also for me! Yes, I am one of those parents who goes to every concert, game, celebration, and event. I not only want to be supportive of my son’s interests, but I actually enjoy it myself! I love my son’s girlfriend and group of friends and my heart aches for their loss and mine. From the big things like prom and graduation to the small things like senior skip day, and loitering at Wal-mart at 10pm, the kids in the class of 2020 are missing things. It probably also stings a bit more because my son is a very social creature. He has gone from literally never being home to literally never leaving the house.

I call to mind the stages of grief (Kubler-Ross) I learned about in college: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Yep, I recognize all of these over the last month and I’m sure you do too. The funny quirky thing about loss is that it is not linear. For example, just when I’ve rounded the corner to some semblance of acceptance…BOOM…something happens that brings me right back to utter sadness. So with that being said, what can we do to comfort ourselves when we have these big feelings? I’ve been reflecting on this and here are some of the things that are helpful for me in terms of feelings. Some of this I’ve learned over my 50 years and some I’ve been reminded about during these recent days.

  1. It is okay to have big feelings. Okay, this is probably an obvious one, right? Yes, but I think a lot of us can fall prey to either covering up our feelings (especially ones that don’t really feel good) with false positivity or self medicating with food, sugar, alcohol or something else. I’ve realized that the best way to actually deal with these feelings is to give yourself permission to actually feel them!
  2. Set a time limit. At first this might sound odd, but sometimes it is helpful to give ourselves a time limit to feel negative emotions. This is good for two reasons: (1) We acknowledge the feeling and realize we need to feel it and (2) we have an out for ourselves to not wallow in our feelings and get stuck there for too long. For example, I’ve actually given myself 10 minutes to be upset about something in the past and then it is time to move on.
  3. Learn how to comfort yourself. Just like Abby in the video sometimes we need to know how to comfort ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean to not rely on others for comfort, but I think it means to know what you need to do to comfort yourself. What strategies do you have that work for you? Do you like a nice, hot bath? A chat with a friend? Getting lost in a puzzle or a good book? Going on a brisk walk? Yesterday, when I was feeling sad I went for a run and felt a bit better. It wasn’t a magical cure for the situation, but I had a change of scenery and was able to get out of my head for awhile.
  4. Ask for what you need. We are in uncharted territory right now. Folks now working from home are in a different environment than what they knew before. Being in close proximity to only a few people for days on end has been challenging for me in that in my real life work environment I had other support systems that I could count on. That combined with the stay at home order has made me realize that I need to ask for what I need in terms of family support. News flash: my family cannot read my mind! This is a good growth area for me even without a pandemic, but some lessons take longer to learn for some, I guess!
  5. Get perspective. Different boats – same storm. Yes, it is okay to acknowledge your loss. End stop. No matter what stage you find yourself in on any particular day – give yourself the grace to feel it without rushing to judge yourself. But it does help, when you are ready, to re-frame your situation and find gratitude where you can. This does make all the difference.

And if all else fails, remember, like Abby said you can always give yourself a big self hug. That feels really good too.