Posted in Life Lessons

The One-Year Promise: Challenge Issued.

It’s now been almost a week so I’m finally ready to comment on the end of “How I Met Your Mother” (or HIMYM for short). If you haven’t yet seen the finale, please stop reading now or you will learn things you don’t want to know. As the guests who watched the finale with me can attest, I was distraught. First, the wedding we waited for all season ended in divorce less than 3 years later. Second, my “this can’t possibly happen” fear that the mother would in fact be dead by 2030 turned out to be 100% accurate. And last but not least, Ted and Robin, despite 9 seasons of trying to convince myself that they aren’t right for one another, in fact really are and they end up together in the end. Talk about a whirlwind. Now the real reason  the show left me a little lost was that for 5 seasons now (no I wasn’t a loyal follower from day 1) I always thought that the overarching message of the show was that even when the universe seems to be sending every possible sign that someone or something is right for you, that if you’re patient and wait, there is something so much better waiting for you. In the end it turns out the message is…well, the universe always wins. And while for a day or two, I found that message troublesome, I have now come to see it as comforting. There’s a plan, and despite our blunders, mistakes, missteps, or efforts to thwart that plan, it’s inevitable. So now I’m back onboard my HIMYM fan train. And I found out this weekend that the first 8 seasons are available on Amazon Prime. Good bye, productivity and sleep 🙂

My farewell to HIMYM spread…

Now onto my next thought. Among other things, HIMYM provided some valuable (and other not-so-valuable) life lessons. Though they are created by and applicable to fictional characters, these lessons can be very real. Next thought: there will come a day when I will have a conversation with my own future children about the development of my food issues. I pray fairly often that these yet-to-be children will have immune systems with slightly better discernment skills than my own…so my hope is that one day they’ll be chomping on an Oreo or devouring a slice of pizza as I explain my memories of such delicious foods. I’ll call my story “How I Embraced my Food Issues” (HIEMFI for short). I’ll have my own life lessons to share which like the ones from HIMYM can apply across a variety of situations and circumstances. For example:
Life Lesson #1: 
(HIMYM) The Olive Theory: According to Lily and Marshall, if one person in a relationship likes olives and the other person doesn’t, then they have a perfect balance and are meant to be together.
(HIEMFI) The Cheese Theory: According to Katie, if one person in a relationship has a casein allergy and thus cannot eat dairy, and the other person loves cheese enough to consume the items off both plates at social gatherings, the relationship is bound for success. If not, the ensuing social awkwardness will likely take its toll.

Life Lesson #2:  
(HIMYM) The Front Porch Test- According to Lily, the most important people in your life are the ones you can picture sitting on a porch with in 50 years; hence all potential significant others in a group are subject to this test.
 (HIEMFI) The Kitchen Table Test- According to Katie, the most important people in a food-allergy life are the ones who aren’t afraid to gather around the table and share a meal with you. In doing so, they take care not to contaminate hummus with pretzels or crackers and ensure that they don’t cross the threshold of the allergy-safe section of the table with any contaminated items, including utensils…and they do all this without making you feel like a high-maintenance freak of nature. Katie may cry tears of profound joy at finding anyone who passes this test.

Life Lesson #3: 
(HIMYM) The Lemon Law– According to Barney, “from the moment a date begins, you have 5 minutes to decide whether you’re going to commit to an entire evening and if you don’t, it’s no hard feelings, just good night, thanks for playing”
(HIEMFI) The Scope Scoot– According to Katie, the first time you tell someone about the Scope issue related to your foodallergies, they have a free pass to scoot. There is absolutely no judgment…because let’s be honest, it’s a lot to ask of a person. And if you find someone who doesn’t scoot, well marry them because they’re too wonderful to let get away!! (Just kidding…kind of)
There are so many other life lessons from both HIMYM and from my own story but for today I’d like to focus on one. The One Year promise. To set the scene, I recommend watching this clip from Season 9
You should never underestimate the power of one year. This resonated in a special way for me this past week and weekend. One year ago last Monday was Easter Sunday. 1 year ago I made it through ¾ of Easter Sunday mass with my family before the tightness in my chest proved too much. As hives broke out on my arms, I was forced to head back to Baltimore and spend a few hours in Urgent Care. I ate Easter dinner from Boston Market with the Saint in Shorts and aT-Shirt before promptly curling up in a ball on the couch because the mashed potatoes I ate had butter, which I didn’t know at the time was making everything worse. I ended up in the ER two days later after eating some cheese that sent my hives and my breathing into full-fledged crisis mode. And yet that following Saturday, I was determined to complete a 5K I had signed up for weeks earlier.
1 year ago: I may have forced a smile but you’ll notice I’m not even standing up straight.
My stomach wouldn’t let me 😦
I arrived that morning at the race with that same saint as my faithful sidekick. We parked as close as possible to the starting line and I left the car clutching my water bottle in one hand and an inhaler in the other. We reviewed how many pumps of the inhaler I had been instructed to try before having to switch to the more potent medication in my cinch bag. We discussed how long to wait before adding a second dose of that and then when would be the time to seek more medical treatment elsewhere. Even the walk to the starting line seemed like a mile. My body was still weak, my stomach was not my friend, and my lungs were angry at me for unknowingly poisoning myself on a regular basis. We ran and walked our way through that race, walking up the steep Patterson Park hills that proved too much for my angry lungs. My hand never stopped clutching my inhaler and the few moments when my loyal companion disappeared to use the bathroom were nervewracking enough to make me realize just how dependent I’d become on others for my own sense of safety and comfort. The goal that day was not time or even running the whole course; rather it was crossing the finish line without having to surrender to the myriad health issues which threatened my success in doing just that. I’m proud to say that I did make it across that finish line. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t pretty but I did it. And then I went home and slept for the next 4 hours…and didn’t leave the couch for the rest of the weekend. And I remember promising myself “Next year you’ll be back. And next year you’ll run across the finish”.
Well, fast forward a year later. This past weekend the same run was taking place in the same park. However, I had already committed to another race before I knew the dates conflicted. Of course, as luck would have it, this race covered much of the same course…just an hour earlier. This year as I got ready to leave my apartment, I saw that same inhaler sitting in my box of now-obsolete medications. I’m not sure if I still have them because I keep forgetting to find one of those “safely dispose of medication” days or because that shoebox reminds me on a regular basis just how far I’ve come and how truly lucky I am to be back where I am now. I shut the closet door on that inhaler and walked out the door into the Saturday morning sunshine.
I arrived at the race this year on my own. I carried no cinch bag and aside from the car key tied to my shoe, I had no other possessions on my person. I laughed with other runners at the starting corral and when the race began, I ran. I ran up hills and down; I approached that same hill I was forced to walk up a year ago and I ran to the top. It still wasn’t easy or pretty…but this time it was the “normal” challenge of burning leg muscles and a cramp in my side. I finished the race without walking…and finished in the top 20 for my age group. I enjoyed the post-race festivities and headed home for a quick shower before meeting the Saint in a Bow Tie for iced coffee and wedding planning discussions (his wedding of course, not mine). I went to lunch with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long and I rounded the day out with a fun-filled evening at my school’s Bull and Oyster Roast. Yes, I took a quick nap in between those events…but nothing like the incapacitating exhaustion of last year’s race. Then today I took a day-trip to Scranton, PA to see my sister complete her own goal of running a half-marathon. As I crossed back over the border into Maryland tonight, all I could think about was the difference 1 year can make. I made a promise to myself a year ago and this weekend I kept that promise, and then some.
1 weekend, 2 races, 2 medals 🙂
So my advice to you today: make yourself a promise. Pick one thing in your life that you want to keep, fix, change, or eliminate by this time next year. Whatever it is, commit to it. Promise yourself that come April 6, 2015 you will have kept this promise. Believe in it, work at it, and make it come true. It’s another one of those life lessons you can apply to the food allergy world and beyond. You can share your promise with someone or you can keep it close to your heart. Regardless of what you choose, just remember a year from now, it can be your reality.
Courtesy of Dana Guidera
Now, go out there and get started. I’ll be checking in with you in 365 days. Challenge issued 🙂

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