Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Sounds in the Silence

Posted by: Jenn Latino
Training for the 3-Day has been going great! The weather has been on my side, I’ve been able to arrange work and life schedules so that I am walking in the evenings when it isn’t quite so warm, and Riley and Joplin have been great 4-legged partners joining me for every walk so far (which makes for very tired pups☺). I have enjoyed a wonderful line up of podcasts that I stockpiled for the training season. It’s actually quite nice to be back in the routine of regular walks and to reconnect with my podcast friends including Ira Glass from This American Life, Sarah and Katie from Stuff you Missed in History Class, and Brian and Chuck from Stuff you Should Know. My walks are much easier when I have my earphones on enjoying the stories that these folks share over the airwaves. I don’t really think about much while I walk. I just put my sneakers on autopilot and tune in to the stories the show hosts share. Riley knows the 3-mile route so well that she drags me through each turn with great accuracy. Sometimes I realize that we are 2 miles in and can’t remember ever making the first turn off our street!

For my Tuesday walk this week I took on a challenge that was more difficult than the mileage. Dr. Jenny Bloom, a colleague and friend from USC, made a donation last week in honor of her friend, Dr. Sandy Ettema. Sandy recently received a breast cancer diagnosis and on Tuesday, was undergoing surgery-the first step in a 3-stage treatment that will be followed by chemotherapy and radiation. I was thinking about Sandy, a woman I have never met but whose story has touched my heart, all day Tuesday. I decided to dedicate my Tuesday evening walk to her and to do it sans the iPod.

I leashed up Riley and Joplin and headed out on our regular 3-mile route. I was immediately aware of the difference in walking without anything playing in my earphones. With my mind clear, I noticed things I don’t usually notice. There was a bunny in the neighbor’s yard and, luckily, the dogs didn’t see it hiding under a shrub. I bet that is the pesky pest that has been eating my tulips! The neighbor on the corner who is always on his porch when I walk by waved and said, “Beautiful day, ain’t it?” I wave at him every day. I wonder if he always speaks and I don’t hear him or if my earphones have kept him from saying hello. The house near Willow Park that has been on the market for a few months had some landscaping done. It looks nice. Maybe the curb appeal will help with the sale.

In addition to noticing more of the scenery, I also noticed that my mind was clear and free to explore a variety of thoughts. I tried to stay focused on the journey that Sandy and others are taking. I thought about Sandy who is just beginning her journey and I thought about my friend Teri Carpenter who, just last week, finished her treatments after nearly 9 months of extensive chemo and radiation. Her recent blog post was titled “Tomorrow I Cross the Finish Line!” While we are all celebrating Teri’s clean and clear diagnosis, Sandy’s family and friends are just beginning to experience the extensive medical treatments that are involved with the fight against breast cancer. Just four days separate the victorious end of Teri’s fight and the beginning of Sandy’s.

These ladies occupied my thoughts for the 60 minutes that I walked. Occasionally my mind would drift, thinking about the laundry that I needed to sort and get started when I got home or the emails that went unreturned at the office and needed a response before morning. When I found myself drifting, I forced my thoughts back toward my purpose. I recalled the open ceremonies at the 2009 3-Day event. A young woman, just a few years younger than me, held a banner that read “Survivor” and I thought about how that could be any of the New Kids. I thought about a quiet moment I shared on day 3 with Jenn Dooley as we entered a rest station. I remembered the feeling I had as we entered Victory Lap, arms linked, unable to feel the pain of blisters or sunburn-overcome with the depth of emotion that accompanied our accomplishment. There are no iPods allowed on the 3-Day walk and, because of that, I was aware with every step that the journey we were taking was an important one.

I realize that this year I am less caught up in the physical aspects of training for the 3-Day. I know that I am physically capable of completing the 60 miles. I’m confident in the training program and know that if I stick to it, I’ll be ready. It’s time to focus on the emotional benefits of this experience. After hearing the sounds of the environment and my mind this week, I have a renewed perspective that every step makes a difference! Every person who asks about my training, reads this blog, or talks with a New Kid about our team, becomes more aware of the impact breast cancer has on the lives of so many men and women. I’m going to find some new routes, break up the routine of my walks, press pause on my iPod now and then, and force myself to take notice of what is happening around me and within me. I’d like to thank Sandy and Teri for reminding me of the reasons I signed up to be a 3-Day walker!

You can follow Sandy’s journey at:

You can catch up on Teri’s journey (I recommend reading her posts in chronological order so you can understand how far she has come in her fight) at:

The end of the 3s is coming. Our Saturday walk is the first 4-mile walk. Shawn, Kim and I will be in Asheville for Valerie and Carl’s wedding so 1/3 of Team New Kids will take on the challenge together! Wish us luck!

Take some time this week to “unplug!”

Happy Stepping!

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