Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Christmas Storm, and a BIG THANK YOU to many

In the 1997 James Cameron classic film Titanic, there is a scene near the end of the film where main characters, Jack and Rose, hang from the back of the sinking ship waiting for its final plunge into the icy Atlantic. In their final moments above water, Jack tells Rose to take her last deep breath before the ship is inevitably submerged under water. Going under is a definite, unavoidable and uncomfortably terrifying fact; survival is not guaranteed. The most Jack and Rose can do is hang on, try to prepare, and keep kicking for the surface. If you haven't seen the film, here is the clip.

This fall, I have thought about this scene often. I could say that we may not be racing this season because of El Nino -like ridiculously warm temperatures, but that would be a lie (although the weather-part of that is true. This has been the warmest fall I can remember in northeast Ohio. Indeed, our first race, the Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Classic in Newberry, MI may not happen in January because, for the first time since many Yoopers in Michigan can remember, there was no snow on Christmas in most of the Upper Peninsula, an area along Lake Superior that usually sees several feet of snow by Christmas). 

The truth is, life has hit incredibly hard this fall, harder than I can recall. Mushers are skilled in level-headed coping skills during adverse and challenging times. But sometimes, life sweeps even the most level-headed off of their feet. Such is the case with this storm.

In a matter of a short three month period, the dogs and I have faced some of the most challenging changes anyone can face in life: job loss, the death of a parent, devastating betrayal, being subjected to pathological lies and the death of a marriage. Most people would struggle to cope with even one of these major life changes, but being hit with three at once in such a short amount of time has left me often in panic, unable to sleep, overwhelmed by grief.

The dogs have taught me so much about dealing with adversity. In challenging times, they conserve resources, rationing where necessary and relying on the pack for support.  In a storm, the dogs often curl up in a sheltered spot, hunker down and wait. The hardest part of waiting out a storm is to remember to breathe. Like the final plunge of the Titanic, I've been holding my breath waiting to emerge to the surface.

Christmas found me holding my breath, wondering how we were going to get through this storm. Like the dogs, however, I've learned to trust in my teammates for support. This fall and winter has been extremely humbling, for even thought it's been the darkest period in my life, it's also shown me just how many people are in our corner.

As Christmas has come and 2015 draws to a close, the dogs and I would like to acknowledge a few beautiful people who have helped us in our darkest moments.

Thank you to:
Jim Conway
Dana Plambeck
Linda Mohney
Vanessa Ivy
Karen Wicks
CoeStar Custom Leads
Penny Agner
Dennis Waite
Stan Bontrager
Pawsitive Results Animal Rehabilitation Center
Michael Hawkinson
Tawny Knight
The Clum Family
Connie Starr 
Ivy McDonald

We will not be racing this season. But thankfully, we are getting by with a lot of support from our friends - and we know now who our real friends are.