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Look at that view - Diving in the clouds with tandem instructor, Rudy. Photo by AJ Gebhardt

There are these narrow points in any long journey where it takes courage to push through and keep going but the view from the other side is breathtaking and life unfolds in completely new ways that are unexpected, bold and sweet. I’ve been passing through one of those since October of 2009 when I was told I had melanoma, Stage II, Clark Level IV and this past Saturday was the postscript with an enormous celebration thanks to PROskydiving at Chicagoland Skydiving Center, Infinity Multisport, Sydney Owen, Doug Smith, Dave Smith and Mo Wills. That’s just the start.

First of all, the great doctors at Northwestern saved my life despite the early diagnosis that there was only a year left on this life. Then came the struggle, or at times battle to walk again normally. After the initial surgery that removed part of the left side of my left leg I had to learn to stride with a normal gait.

Frankly, standing in one spot for long periods of time or walking great distances became a great and often painful challenge. I was determined to push through though as far as I could but at the same time I was looking for grace to accept what might turn out to be my new limits.

Martha and Rudy skydiving

Thank goodness for Sydney Owen and Twitter. During my very first hour of figuring out how to tweet I said something about wanting to try a 5k to show my son that I’m okay now, still not really sure if I meant it and at the same time I commented on someone else’s tweet about skydiving. I said that I had done it once and after I landed I got up and wondered why I was doing anything that no longer served me.

My entire life changed after that, including finding out I had cancer five months later when a small mole was biopsied from beside my knee.

Sydney offered to have PROskydiving sponsor me in that 5K and then to come out and jump at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, IL that same day. Doug Smith is the owner and his brother, Dave, a triathlete got his trainer, Mo Wills from Infinity Multisport involved who showed me the art of chi walking. I picked the Champions 5K in Chicago on August 6th because it was a ways off on the calendar and I really wasn’t sure I could pull off one mile much less 3.2 long miles.

Thank goodness I’m wrong as often as I am. [click to continue…]


Me in my Kigo shoes just outside of my back door on my way to run.

This has been the summer of running, so far. I’ve passed a couple of milestones, which makes me feel like I have a shot at actually getting somewhere this time.

The big one is my consistency has been up there without being rigid. There was a big thunderstorm rumbling through Chicago yesterday and I didn’t try to be a human lightning rod or feel terrible the entire day because I missed a morning run.

The second one is that I can now run a little distance without feeling like I ought to walk for a minute. Frankly, this is where all of those reality shows on weight loss that I’ve watched finally pay off for me. I would quit sooner but I’ve seen what that looks like and how much farther someone can go, so I keep running just a little bit longer.

I get it. It’s one more place that my will is trying to get me to go sit down.

Running is hard work. The hardest part is getting myself out the door on a consistent basis. It’s not that there’s something else I’d rather be doing.

I’d prefer not to find out that I can’t do something on a grand scale. Then I get to keep the idea that I could if I just tried to run or to write or to save money. There’s a list of things we all keep in the back of our minds of things we want to do.

It’s that immediate response we give whenever someone says, ‘What are your dreams?’

We know immediately the top three and if we’re given a few minutes we can pull out another five and start sorting them into big dream, little dream. [click to continue…]