I’ve decided to repost my blogs from when I was walking and fundraising for the Komen 3Day/60Mile Walk for the Cure in 2008 in D.C. The picture above is me with my biological mother, Kim. It was an amazing experience. Kim and other members of our family have participated either as crew, security or walkers for the last four years. The blogs below should give you an idea of what it was like for me and it will give you a ton of my family history that you never knew you wanted to know.
Watch this space for lots of muttering and blathering about walking. I’ve begun training by walking to work, I’ve done it two days in a row now!
I’ll be writing lots about my thoughts on why I’m walking and sharing bunches about my family, my life and what has lead me to be training for a 60 mile walk 6 months from now. Thanks for reading, laughing, and supporting me!
by Clare Davitt on Tue, Apr 01, 2008 @ 12:19 PM CT
So as I walked to work this morning on day two of my “training regimen” I decided I’d start keeping this blog.
I’ve never written a blog before. I’ve filled many journal pages with angst ridden pre-teen/teen/young adult/adult rantings and ravings. I’ve written oodles of emails from overseas, boring my relatives and friends to tears with travel details. However, I’ve never publicly displayed my thoughts and life in quite such a way before.
All of that is to say; bear with me, I have no idea what I’m doing.
I want to share history and stories. My history and stories and those of the many amazing people who I’ve called family.
I have a rather convoluted and complicated family history. Most of us do I think, even when we feel average or mundane. Mine however does usually require multiple explanations and occasionally requires flash cards or laser pointers. Some who are reading this may have heard all that I’m about to write before, feel free to skip it or when you find errors please correct me. Some of you may not care about any of this, fine then, bugger off. Some of you might be shocked by what you read but that’s not very likely.
I’ll begin slowly, remember you can reread as many times as necessary-no one else will know.
I’m Clare Davitt and I’m adopted. My biological mother’s name is Kim. I was adopted by James and Mary Kate Davitt. All of this happened in northern Virginia and Washington D.C. in 1979.
James and Mary Kate were a lawyer and doctor with an 8-year-old daughter, Maura Jean. They were living in Olney, Maryland at the time. Maura had Cystic Fibrosis, a really crappy disease that doesn’t let its victims breathe or develop. Folks with CF don’t usually live past their early 30’s. Maura was an all-around really cool girl and she was and is well loved. Jim and Kate tried to have more children and it just didn’t happen. So they looked into adoption.
The various agencies weren’t very helpful and didn’t find the couple to be a good candidate for adopting. Which is rather absurd but we’ll leave that alone for now. So for a little while Jim and Kate were kinda stuck.
Across a state line in northern Virginia was Kim, pregnant with a child she wanted to give for adoption. Kim knew that she wasn’t able right then to give the baby or herself the life they deserved and that there might be others that could. So she looked into adoption.
And she talked to some of the same agencies that Jim and Kate had and she didn’t really like what she saw. Which is very interesting isn’t? But again, we’ll leave that alone for now. So for a little while Kim was kinda stuck.
I think I’ll stop there for today. It’s a lot to think about for me, I’ve been running it through my head since this morning. It’s amazing to me where my mind goes when I have an hour to just think. The weather has been bright and crisp and it’s made for nice walking. Of course I’m also discovering that training is indeed necessary for this outta-shape lady. My lungs and calves are very shocked by what they’re being asked to do. Thank goodness October is 6 months away. It does feel pretty damn good though to make it to the gym up at the college (where I work) and know that I just walked an hour to get there.
I hope this is somewhat interesting to you-if you made it this far it must be. Or you’re related to me and are worried about slander. Or is it libel? Hm. Perhaps I should look into this.
Thanks for reading, I’ll continue the fascinating saga within the next few days. See you then.
by Clare Davitt on Tue, Apr 01, 2008 @ 8:25 PM CT
It’s Sunday night as I write this, still sunny out and fairly warm. I hope you’re well wherever you read this.
This afternoon I drove up to the college and got myself a locker at the gym. I left my car up in the staff lot and walked myself back down the hill. It was pretty lovely. It was awful windy (wind is not one of my favorite forms of weather) but it was warm and the sky was quite blue and I thanked the creator of my iPod as I strolled downhill.
I’d been resisting getting a locker all last week, thinking I should be able to haul whatever I might need up the hill in the mornings with me. I was being stubborn and stupid. I can often be a combination of those two things, usually with a nice dash of silly pride.
Last Monday when I walked to work for the first time I carried everything I thought I might possibly need to get ready for work at the gym. That was unwise of me.
The next day I carried much less and used a much more comfortable bag. I still had too much unnecessary stuff. Wednesday I slept 10 minutes too long and had to drive. If I don’t leave the house at just the right time my anxiety gets out of whack and I have to drive. No one at the college wants me to not take a shower before work, not after I walk up there. No one wants that.
Thursday was much better and I drove again Friday (I have a really good excuse, I swear). I decided that perhaps I was being a bit pigheaded about the whole locker thing (for no real reason either) and so I went the wiser route today and set myself up to enjoy my walk more tomorrow morning.
One of the many things that starting my training for the walk has taught me is that I’m rather lazy. Actually it didn’t teach me that, I’ve just been harshly reminded. So anything I can do to make sticking to my training (which currently means walking to work) easier, the better.
I imagine you’re bored silly by my training rambles so I’ll get back to where I left off last time with the family history. Because that’s really what’s interesting here isn’t it?
Last we left Jim, Mary Kate, and Kim they were all a bit stymied by their various adoption options. In steps an amazing woman named Cathy, she literally changed my and everyone else’s lives. Cathy knew Jim and Kate from Holy Trinity Church (the Catholic Church they all attended) and from various boards that Jim and Cathy were members of. Cathy knew Kim because, now follow closely here, Cathy’s brother was/is married to Kim’s older sister. Cathy’s brother, Chuck, is married to my biological aunt, Cindy. You with me?
So Cathy was in a position to know both sides of the story-the family looking to adopt and the mother looking for such a family. I don’t really know all the details here but basically I was adopted through a private adoption orchestrated by my adopted father’s law firm. Jim Davitt’s partner, Jim Fitzgerald handled the adoption and a few days after I was born on December 26th, 1979, I was given from Kim’s hands to Jim Davitt’s.
That brings us to January of 1980 when I joined the Davitt Family. In January of 1981 Maura Jean died of CF. In December of 1982 Jim and Kate gained another child and I got a brother. Brian Davitt, born September 16th, 1982 in San Jose, Costa Rica was adopted just after my third birthday.
I should mention again here that I’m telling this story as I know it and various dates might be off or there might be other small errors. If you notice something that’s incorrect due to your connection with the story-please tell me! And if you see a grammar or spelling error-please tell me! However if you just think I’m funny looking-please don’t tell me.
I’ll stop here for tonight, thanks for reading, laughing, and caring. I hope you’re well. I’ll be back in a day or two with more to share, it’s hard to stop now that I’ve started.
by Clare Davitt on Sun, Apr 06, 2008 @ 8:40 PM CT
I hope this finds you well whenever you might be reading.
I’m rather sad this evening, I won’t dwell on it in this blog-I don’t want that to be what I’m writing about. However I also want to be honest and not shy away from the crappy feelings and situations that happen. Besides walking is always going to be painful at times, you can see the nice walking/life analogy right? I don’t have to spell it out do I? Good, carry on then.
I’m sad because I’m going through a breakup-something that is always painful no matter how right or wrong the relationship ending may be. Or at least I’ve found that to be true. I believe that everything turns out as it should, whatever that might mean. But it’s that “turning out” part that always seems to take the longest bit of time and feel the most uncomfortable. I’m being turned out right now and I have to say-it rather sucks. I’ll be okay though, we all will.
Walking has been very helpful in dealing with all the uncomfortable bits that come up. They (you know, them) say that the number one best thing for someone who is depressed is to exercise. Of course the last thing I want to do when I’m depressed is move in any direction except the refrigerator, the bed or the wine bottle. But when I’m driven by the fear of being outwalked by my mother in October it’s amazing the motivation I have to get out from under the covers. I’m quite grateful for the ability to put one foot in front of the other these days, a stroll in the sunshine sure does help me get out of a pity party.
I think I’d be sad a bit right now even if my romantic life hadn’t just changed dramatically. (This is my sneaky way of getting back to the history portion of my blog). I’ve been thinking a lot about my mothers these days, even more than I usually am. I say mothers because I really do have three of them.
I had Mary Kate Davitt, the mother who adopted and raised me and is hugely responsible for many of the good things that I aspire to be-like useful and helpful to people in need and always gracious and graceful. Mary Kate died on June 14, 1997 of ovarian cancer. I was 17 and had just graduated high school. It’s my thinking about my mom (I just can’t call her Kate, too weird) that makes me sad sometimes these days. Her birthday was April 22, Earth Day and that’s just a few weeks away.
I miss her always but sometimes more than others-now is one of those times. It’s hard after almost 11 years to always know the line between the woman who really was and the woman I can create in my memories. It’s easy for me to give her super powers-like if she were here I’d never feel hurt or disappointed. Intellectually I understand the absurdity of that but there are moments when my heart misses the joke. Mostly though I’d just love to ask her all the things I didn’t know I’d want to ask when I was 17.
And then I have two other mothers, mothers who are here now (or rather in Virginia and Maine) and who I get to be friends with and also lean on for support and advice.
I have Kim who gave birth to me and loved me enough to find me the family she did. She is also responsible for many of the good things I am, things that I am innately-like a fan of skydiving and good wine. She also loved me enough to welcome me back into her life in April of 2000 when Cathy(remember Cathy? She introduced us the first time) connected us over the phone and introduced us again. I was 20 and a few months away from leaving for San Diego to join AmeriCorps.
Kim (and Roger, her husband and Justin and Nick my half-brothers) have really been one of the most amazing examples of love and acceptance. It’s pretty ridiculous really how lucky I’ve been when it comes to family-I’ve got some of the most fun and open crowd around as my parents and siblings.
I do promise that my family and all members of it can be obnoxious, annoying, and fight like the dickens at times. I’m just not writing about that right now. And considering the grist that we all have for the Oprah/Donahue/Geraldo type shows the fact that we’ve yet to hit each other with chairs on national television says a lot about our strength of character don’t you think?
I have Mary Louis Kurr Davitt who is my step-mother and who has been a guide and support through so much. She has been an example of humor, kindness and acceptance in my life. Mary Louis and my Dad (Jim) married in 2002 and all of the combining families are so lucky that they did. From ML and my Dad’s marriage Brian and I gained two step-siblings, Travers and Katie. Again it’s the same story of unfair family luck-now that I’m technically the oldest of six I can say for sure that I have the best 5 people possible as siblings. See the above note about fighting though.
So that’s a mom summary or really a huge family summary-sorry about that. Of course all three of these women have a million more sides and parts to them than I could ever hope to describe. I am beyond grateful, beyond lucky to have been so blessed by such love and care. I hope that by walking, by sharing, and above all-by laughing, that I am doing what they would wish for me.
Humor in the face of all sorts of dark and yucky things is the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my moms and from so many other people I admire. Crying is necessary and needed and I sure do my fair share but laughter-laughter is required, laughter is the reason any of this is doable and worth doing. All three of the women I’ve written about know (or knew, it’s a bit awkward grammatically to write about one person who is dead and two who are alive in the same sentence) what it means to feel horrible amounts of grief, loss, and hurt. They also all know (knew, sorry!) how to make a really sick joke and find laughter in the darkest of moments.
Well that got a bit heavy now didn’t it? Goodness. Thanks for bearing with me-apparently I had some sharing to do. I think I’ll stop here for tonight, I think that’s probably enough to chew over-it is for me at least. I’ll be sharing lots more about my moms in the future. Thanks for reading-it’s very nice to know you’re out there.
by Clare Davitt on Tue, Apr 08, 2008 @ 10:25 PM CT
I walked to work this morning and it was cloudy and chilly. I walked home from work this afternoon and it was snowing. It’s April 9th and just 2 days ago I was walking around in a tank top and flip flops and it was lovely. I did somehow end up walking home from work today in flip flops but that’s just an embarrassing story. I still have all my toes so all is well.
Spring snow is one of the neatest and most annoying things ever. Everything has been blooming lately, the cherry blossoms are gorgeous and fragrant and I’ve put away pretty much all my warm clothes and then… It snows. It’s inconvenient and cold and it ruins my wardrobe plans. It’s also startlingly beautiful and everything smelled amazing-it smelled like a spring rain rather than the snow it was.
I’m tired tonight, it was a rather awkward and crappy day overall and I’m hitting the sack early. But even though today very much did not fall in the category of best days ever it was still fairly decent. I might be putting to much weight on what my walks are giving me but I don’t think so; I’m finding starting my day by walking to work means that no matter what else happens that day I’ve done one good thing. I’ve accomplished something and I feel pretty spiffy about myself. Of course that accomplished feeling can hold me through only so much bureaucratic silliness and personal hurt but it is a nice foundation.
The added bonus about walking in a surprising snow storm in April is that it makes everything feel different and special. I suppose every day has things that make it different and special but magical weather takes things to a whole other level.
That’s the deep thoughts from this snowy neck of the desert. I hope you’re well wherever you may be and if you’re not well, may you be so soon.
by Clare Davitt on Wed, Apr 09, 2008 @ 10:52 PM CT
A whole lotta family
I’m thinking lots of thoughts tonight, you might need to bear with me. Of course as soon as I wrote the preceding sentence everything I’ve been mulling over all day went right out of my head. I swear I had thoughts.
I’ve been walking a lot the past couple days-not the hike to work but just lots of jaunts around town. I really love walking to a bar, restaurant, or the movie theater. I feel accomplished and strong and yet it took very little effort on my part. I’m a big fan of things that make me feel good about myself and don’t intrude on my general laziness factor.
I wanted to tell you about how Kim (that’s my bio mom remember?) and I met. It was April of 2000 and I was on spring break from the community college I was attending in Bangor, ME at the time. I was living at home with my Dad and he and Mary Louis had just started dating at that point. I was recovering from having my tonsils out and spent a lot of time laying about. Somehow in the midst of the laying about my Dad and I started talking about my adoption and I asked about finding my biological mom.
Back-story here (or back-back story): I can’t ever remember not knowing I was adopted (how’s that for some double negative action?). I don’t remember being told, it was just always a part of me. My brother was adopted and so was my Dad and his two sisters (all from different families) so it was pretty normal to me. I knew I could ask whatever I wanted, when I wanted.
And then came that evening in April. I was 20 and had recently applied for AmeriCorps NCCC but I hadn’t heard yet about being accepted. In one night my life changed an awful lot. I asked my dad about finding my bio mom assuming it would be a long process taking lots of time and that it might never be successful. I didn’t want to barge in on her life if I wasn’t welcome and I was fine with everything taking some time.
I was rather surprised then when my dad said “Call Cathy”, and then he related the story that you all know-how Cathy was connected to my adoption. I had known Cathy and her husband Paul and their boys my whole life. I grew-up going to their fabulous Easter parties and played with the beautiful doll house that my dad had built Cathy, a replica of her family’s home. I never had an inkling of the debt I owe them.
Dad explained things and told me to call Cathy and see what she said to do next, she’d be the one to contact Kim and see if she wanted to talk to me. I took the next steps without really thinking-it was all very fast and a bit surreal. I was dying of curiosity-questions I’d had my whole life were on the brink of being answered-I did not pause to think out the consequences of what was about to happen. I just called Cathy.
I’ll never forget the sound of Cathy’s voice or Paul’s when they realized why I was calling. Cathy said she was sure Kim would want to talk to me but that she’d call her and check and fill her in. Kim had known that Cathy was pretty involved in the adoption but had never known quite how connected Cathy was to my adopted family. Cathy called Kim and then not long after she called me back. Over the phone in a 3-way connection I was introduced to my biological mom. It was one of the greatest, weirdest moments of my life. We cried and talked and we sounded awfully similar.
Over the next month Kim and I talked fairly often. I learned that she’d joined the Army a bit after having me and was overseas for much of her time in the military. She met Roger, her husband, in Germany while she was jumping out of planes and he was doing something with maps. I learned they had lived in Texas for a bit, that was where my half-brother Justin was born but they had moved back to Virginia a ways back. Kim was a substitute teacher when I met her and also an American Sign Language interpreter.
In May of 2000 I drove to Virginia to meet Kim and the rest of my new (or at least renewed) family. I hadn’t ever driven so far alone before and I hadn’t been back to Maryland since before my mom (Mary Kate) had died in 1997. It was a surreal trip to say the least. I drove by our old home in Potomac before making my way to Virginia to meet Kim. I arrived on Mother’s Day weekend. It’s like a Lifetime move isn’t it?
Meeting Kim and everyone was great. It was overwhelming and scary and so much more than I’d ever imagined. It was also a bit anti-climactic and hard. Finally seeing this woman who’d been such a mystery to me was indescribable (although I’m trying). She was a real person, a normal (more or less) person. We look rather similar, we sound alike, we have lots of the same interests. We are also very different in all sorts of ways. It was the differences I saw first-all the ways she wasn’t like me or my adopted mom. I made it pretty hard at first I think. It’s been nearly eight years and I still make it hard sometimes. Kim has been awfully patient with me, my whole family has been.
I should interject here that this is more open than I’ve ever been-especially with such a wide audience-about meeting my biological family. Writing all of this is harder than I expected-I don’t want to share to much but mostly I’m afraid of not being honest enough or not understood. I hope you all understand.
In that one weekend in May I met my biological mom, my two half-brothers, my aunt (Cindy, the one that is married to Cathy’s brother), three cousins, and my biological grandmother. It was a lot. It was amazing. It was scary. It still is all those things sometimes. But mostly now it’s just normal. They are my family. It’s taken time, lots of visits, some counseling on my part (I think counseling is the best!) and more time to reach the relative normalcy of the past few years but it’s happened(ing?).
I call my families my Virginia family and my Maine family now. My Virginia family and my Maine family actually spend more time with each other these days then I do with either bunch. I think that’s pretty super and special. I’ve been so blessed to have so many really cool people in my life, many of whom I’m related too, and almost all of whom get along with each other. It helps that we all enjoy fine beverages, food, and beautiful places.
When I think about how it all could have turned out I am often amazed. My biological family could have not wanted to see me. We could have all hated each other. They could have been ugly or mean. They could have thought I was ugly or mean (unlikely of course but this is hypothetical here). We could have all ended up on Geraldo throwing chairs at each other. Thank goodness we’re all much better than that, although we’d go on Oprah if she asks. A few examples of how ridiculously luck I am: my half-brother Justin just got back from spending a week in Maine with my Dad and Mary Louis; almost every summer since I met Kim the Burns family has come to Maine to stay at Molasses Pond (the Davitt camp); at my graduation from undergrad I had my Dad, my step-mom, my brother, my biological mom, my half-brothers, my step-siblings, my aunt and uncle from my adopted mom’s side, and Cathy and Paul in attendance. I feel so loved as I type out that list. I hope that it makes some sense to you (the list, not the feeling of love-that seems obvious).
Wow, that was a lot eh? The point I’m trying to make is that it worked out, it is working out. My family is rather large and unwieldy and it keeps growing. In February my nephew Nicholas Jayden was born to my half-brother Nick and his girlfriend Lauren. The fact that I’m now an aunt blows my mind. The fact that just over eight years ago I didn’t even know Nick doesn’t blow my mind as much as it used too, he’s just my brother now.
I think I should wrap it up for the night. I hope I haven’t totally lost, confused, or dear lord no, bored you!
Thanks for reading and caring and let me know if I am boring you.
by Clare Davitt on Sun, Apr 13, 2008 @ 11:33 PM CT
Green thoughts growing
I got my first update from the official 24-week training countdown yesterday. I’m pretty excited about it since I’ve been doing what they recommend without even knowing it-that’s just walking 3 miles at least 3-4 days a week. I need to start some strength training and I’ll be working on that in the coming weeks.
I’ll be honest here-I only walked to work once this week (I was sick and it snowed again, okay?). And next week I’m going to be in Tempe, Arizona for a work conference and seeing as I’m not a fan of extreme heat I don’t see myself walking outside much while I’m there. But when I get back, oh, it’s on my friends! I’m going to walk myself into a state of amazing physical prowess. Or at least into good enough shape to walk 60 miles.
I have a long blog brewing in me but right now is not the moment for it, it’s noon on a Saturday and sitting on my couch with my laptop is not how I think I should spend it.
April 22nd, this Tuesday is Earth Day. It’s also my mother’s birthday, she would have been 64. I’ve always thought that it made perfect sense that her birthday would also be Earth Day. I’ll explain a lot (more than you might wish) about that in the next couple days.
Hope you’re well, have a grand weekend and think good thoughts about the earth, mothers, and the color green.
by Clare Davitt on Sat, Apr 19, 2008 @ 1:28 PM CT
I have lots to say tonight, however I did learn a few blogs ago that this posting has a word limit so you’re lucky-it won’t be as ridiculously long as it could be. All of you who know me know I can talk for far longer than anyone’s attention span can really handle.
I spent the last week in Tempe, Arizona at a conference for work. I won’t bore you with the details but I did get to hang out with my dearest friend, Alison for a whole five days and we had a pool nearby. It was grand. I even did work stuff and learned things too, I feel pretty accomplished.
On the walking side of things-I walked! We made our way, the 45-minute way through 90 degree heat (in April!!) to find great food. And we took vans back. But I did walk. I swear Mom! Anyway, defensiveness aside I’m back in Santa Fe now and starting Monday I’ll be walking to work as consistently as possible, and everywhere else too. Gas has gotten ridiculous out here and it’s just not worth it. I mean it’s bad for the environment and all that-I always want to be concious of that but I’m a damn lazy person too so I drive way more than I should. But I’m also a good American and if you start to take too much of my money-I get pissy. And I need to train anyway so…
So there’s that. It’s been Earth week and such and this next week is No TV week-think about that. Wonder if we’d ever agree to a no computer week.
I have a frustration this evening. I’m feeling good-I’m feeling jazzed and alive. I’m feeling excited about my beliefs. You know that feeling? I got reminded tonight about what I have faith in, what gives me my fuel. I trust people. I think people are pretty cool and I’m willing to give some of them a chance. Not all by any means and I’m far more cruel and frightened than is probably necessary but overall-I trust people. I’m frustrated because of a conversation earlier this evening where that trust, my beliefs got challenged. I hate that. I know it’s good for me and all that but, I hate it.
I’m a woman, a young woman so they tell me and I walk in dark alleys at night. I go to places like Morocco and Los Angeles and to the homes of strangers. I say hello and talk to homeless people. I’ve picked up hitchhikers and invited strangers into my home, alone. Sorry Mom, sorry Dad.
I’ve never been hurt by any of these choices.
I have friends and loved ones who have been harmed by similar choices, by horrible circumstances and sick people. I’ve been very lucky. And I’m very grateful for the blessings I’ve received. And the possible horrors are so outweighed by the nearly certain gifts that I’ll continue to make similar choices.
I don’t pick up hitchhikers anymore. Unless I have an agreeable passenger. But I like helping people, I like learning from them and laughing at new jokes. And I really don’t understand why I’d particularly want to be in a world where I couldn’t have those experiences.
And I’m awfully tired of people (particularly those who love me) thinking I’m a naive idiot for feeling and acting in some of the ways I do. I’m not asking you to make my choices. Make yours, please. I may have opinions about how everyone lives their lives (I’m terribly judgmental really) but in all honesty I trust you to do your thing. I’ve got enough on my own plate. But I do feel strongly about some things, I have values and they are well-considered ones. Are yours?
I have been hurt. Very badly. Never physically and I try to understand how lucky I am for that. But emotionally and in so many ways. Please never think that I don’t know what it feels like to be in pain or to suffer. I do know that many millions have been in suffering a thousand times worse than anything I can fathom, I would never be so arrogant to claim otherwise. But I also believe that one of the great stupidities of our culture, the American culture, is that we devalue our true losses-the real pain. We whine about the petty stuff and ignore what really hurts because we don’t think that we’re worth it, that someone else has it worse. Which they do. But sometimes we can have it pretty damn bad and ignoring that never made me feel much better. I’d just feel guilty for still feeling bad. Very silly all around.
The point of the above paragraph? I’ve lost people very, very close to me and been through hard, confusing and chaotic crap. And it isn’t always easy to choose to trust people or in the end, life. But on most days I can make that choice fairly successfully. And I find its worth it on most days.
I don’t always know what I believe or how I got there. I don’t always (certainly not) act upon what I do believe. But I sure try to pay attention when I notice I’m acting with intention about an ideal or belief.
I needed to share that tonight, I hope it made sense to you all. I do know how many people love and care about me and appreciate my values (or at least some of them). I’m incredibly supported and blessed in so many ways. I don’t think I’d feel as well-defined and confident if I didn’t have some of the most amazing family and friends in my corner.
But sometimes I have to wave my silly flag and declare myself (no pun intended). Thanks for joining me. Be well.
by Clare Davitt on Sat, Apr 26, 2008 @ 11:48 PM CT
Good morning folks,
I just wanted to share how good music makes for a great walking experience. Walking without music can have it’s own special goodness of course but for a solitary walk to the college on a gorgeous spring morning I have to say a little Paul Simon sure makes for an even spiffier day.
Walking just makes me feel so happy-regardless of how tired I am or how pissed I am about getting up at 6:30am. Upbeat music sure helps the transition from warm bed to chilly floor-I do love some Blackalicious or Kanye to start off in the early am. It’s amazing how accomplished I feel simply from putting one foot in front of the other and repeating that for an hour. Changes everything. Literally of course-getting me from point A to point B but also mentally and emotionally.
I have a tendency to have big feelings and regardless if they are good, bad or some lovely combo of the two, I often think that they will never pass and I feel this way forever. I’m a pretty bright person and intellectually I’m aware that I’ll feel a thousand ways in just a day or even an hour. But sometimes, often really, it’s very hard to really understand that when my feelings are telling me I’ll be stuck in rage or jealously or excitement for the rest of my life. Walking really helps me let each of those feelings come through with a more right-sized perspective, eventually at least. I’m a big fan of feeling a peace with myself and since it’s damn hard to attain I get very excited about the solutions/cures/tools I find to help me.
And lately singing along to “Jenny” (you know-867-5309) or The Drive-By Truckers makes those feelings just fly by. Good stuff. Plus I know of nothing better for my soul than smelling lilacs in the morning. I’m in a rather happy place (mentally, physically I’m in my office) this morning and I wanted to share some of my exuberance.
Hope you’re all well and finding pieces of joy everyday.
by Clare Davitt on Wed, Apr 30, 2008 @ 11:46 AM CT
Mother’s Day Lilacs
Happy Mother’s Day!!! Thanks to all of you who have mothered me and to all who mother others. As you all know I’ve been blessed with many mothers and I’m very grateful for them (most of the time).
I had a lovely Mother’s Day spending time with good people, talking with family around the country (including various mothers), seeing some Shakespeare and even getting to walk about a bit. I just walked home from a friend’s party, it’s night and it’s warm with a breeze and on that breeze the smell of lilacs is heavy and sweet.
Lilacs were my mother’s favorite flower (Mary Kate that is). White lilacs in particular. Our house in Maine has lilac trees all around it and to this day the smell of lilacs brings me right back to my bed at the Nonesuch (not that we called it that then) smelling lilacs at night through my bedroom window. Santa Fe has an abundance of lilacs which is just amazing to me, it’s been a surprise every spring I’ve lived here even though I know they’re coming.
There is something so startling about these pastel purple, magenta, and white flowers popping up everywhere on large, well-established trees, filling the air with their almost too sweet scent. They give me such comfort.
My first tattoo was a white lilac on my right shoulder. I got it in honor of my mom. I think she’d probably have laughed at me but it made me feel good and it’s a lovely tattoo. Every one since has been rather self-indulgent but I can at least pretend that that first one had a higher meaning.
Today a good friend, one who has also lost her mother, came over to celebrate Mother’s Day with me. She brought me white lilacs from her garden. She told me how the day before she’d watched a big butterfly land and take off repeatedly from her white lilac bush and she said she knew it was my mother. So she said she had to bring me some of the flowers. I was so touched. I love the image of my mom as a butterfly stopping in on my new friend. I’m grateful she remembered my stories about my mom and white lilacs. I feel so lucky to be so loved.
I walked home tonight twirling a lilac (a dark, dark purple one) in my hand and sniffing it constantly. I loved walking in the dark, in the quiet with all these amazing smells around me. An added enjoyment was that I was carrying leftovers of delicious food and great collection of stories by Roald Dahl and I’d just finished off a glass of tasty whiskey before setting out. I really don’t know what more I could ask for, I’m ridiculously lucky.
Thanks for reading-I hope you’re well and feeling blessed.
by Clare Davitt on Mon, May 12, 2008 @ 12:01 AM CT
Musings on Time
Apologies on not writing in a while-I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats wondering when next you’ll read my words of wit and wisdom. Or in this case the embarrassed confession that I haven’t walked (to work) in 2 weeks. Stop gasping. Please don’t shake your finger at me. My own self-shaming goes so far beyond what you could attempt to lay on me. I was raised Roman Catholic after all.
I have been walking (can you hear the defensiveness?) around town a lot and not driving much, except apparently to work. I won’t go into all the lazy reasons or defend my actions (or lack of them). I’ll just promise-before you all (hm, if no one is reading this then I’m off the hook eh?), that starting next Tuesday, June 3 I’ll be back on my walking to work routine. I can’t start till then because of a play I’m in and my need to be places on time.
This lapse in walking has made me think a lot about what I’ve been missing. It’s not that I don’t like walking to work-I rather love it actually but love does not negate laziness, in this case at least. I’m happier when I walk to work, I feel better about myself and the world, and I feel more a part of things. I recently acquired a busier life and my need to be in a variety of places that are far apart geographically but that offer me little time to cross that distance has made me very reliant on my car. Oh dear, was I getting defensive again?
I just meant to talk about time and how full it gets-full of good things but those are the very things that make life a bit too crowded to allow for my leisurely (or even fast paced) strolls. I imagine that moderation would be the answer to my balancing act. Moderation in number of activities, moderation in the amount of sleep I get, moderation in my level of laziness, and moderation in self-punishment. I’ll get to working on that tasty blend and we’ll see what happens next.
Till then-I hope you’re well and happy and enjoying a good moderate brew. Please wish me luck in the play this weekend and blessings on my walks. I wish the same for you (even if you’re not in a play).
by Clare Davitt on Thu, May 29, 2008 @ 9:21 PM CT
So again, it’s been awhile eh? Life sure moves don’t it?
It’s been a lovely summer so far here in Santa Fe. I haven’t been walking to work as much as planned (it gets hot early and I’m rather whiny about it) but I have been taking many hikes in the mountains around Santa Fe which has been simply grand. I’m also walking all around town and recently spend a lovely day throwing down miles in Denver.
Walking in the woods is of course very different than pounding the pavement in town. I very much prefer the shady trails in the ski basin to the sidewalks in the sun. Of course there is the sad irony of having to drive to somewhere to walk but I try to let that go.
One of my favorite parts about walking in the woods is when I pass other hikers or runners. There is such a cool feeling of community that comes from seeing someone else who has chosen to be in a place that I find beautiful. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not alone in what I enjoy. Just a simple wave and ‘hello’ and we carry on, it’s pretty great really.
Hiking as an adult makes me think of my first times in the woods as a kid. My mom (Mary Kate), Dad, Brian and I spent many Augusts in Maine climbing up and down various mountains and hills. I remember my serious fascination with fire towers and thought that it would be the coolest job to spend a summer in one guarding a mountaintop. We went bushwhacking, machetes and all and the exhilaration of slashing my way through the woods was pretty awesome.
Many of my favorite memories in life come from being in the woods be they the Cascades or mountains in West Virginia. The woods remind me of good times and I always feel more me when I’m in them. They especially bring back thoughts of my Mom because she loved them too whether she was hiking, cross-country skiing or horse-back riding through them.
June 14th was the 11th anniversary of my Mom’s death. I still miss her very much although the pain and grief have shifted over time and are usually less sharp than they once were. There are still moments though when it hurts as intensely as it did years ago and I imagine that will always be the case. Some days she feels very far away and others as close as my skin. My walks, wherever they take me, always take me closer to memories of her.
Thanks for reading, hope you’re all well and that life is great.
by Clare Davitt on Wed, Jun 25, 2008 @ 1:03 PM CT
I hope you’ve all had a grand and glorious summer. I’ve had a pretty good one myself, fun trips to Colorado and Maine have broken-up the quiet days here at the college. I’ve gotten to walk roads in the back woods of Maine and on the city streets of Denver.
The October event looms ever closer and I need to get back to walking to work (it got too hot for awhile and I’m wimpy). Kim has been walking her little buns off all over Virginia and I’m so proud of her. Her friend Barbara has joined our small team and I’m getting more and more excited about the actual event.
Being back in Maine for a week was pretty great even if the weather wasn’t. I spent time at my family’s camp and read and swam in solitude (except for the loons) for a few days. Kim had been in Maine a few weeks before me and it was lovely to know she’d gotten to enjoy the same beauty that I was. Camp was also a favorite of my mother, Mary Kate and being there always makes me very grateful for her life and for the appreciation of beauty that she gave me. Walking around Bangor it’s a very odd feeling when I realize that the 13 and 14 year-old kids walking by might very well be kids that my mom saved. Talk about something to live up to! I hope by doing this walk I’m making a small contribution to saving lives.
Thank you for reading this and for supporting me. I hope you’re having a superb day wherever you may be.
by Clare Davitt on Mon, Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:03 PM CT
Wandering Walking Boobs
So Kim, Barbara and I are now the “Wandering, Walking Boobs”. It’s our team name. Giggle away.
You can click on the link on this page to visit our team page and if you wanted to donate to our team we’re very happy to accept more support.
The three of us will be walking together in mere weeks for 60 miles. I’m super excited to spend this time with these awesome women and to learn all the dirt that Barbara has on Kim.
Thanks again for your support and for reading.
by Clare Davitt on Thu, Sep 04, 2008 @ 11:57 AM CT
Well hello there,
It’s been awhile (what’s new right?) and time seems to have passed and now it’s mere days from when I walk with 4,000 other people for 60 miles.
I needed to pause and take that in for a second. Right now I sit in the late afternoon sun in my living room. Sit. This time next week I’ll have just finished the walk, I imagine sitting will be nearly all that is on my mind. I’m so looking forward to it, all of it.
I’m excited to have my only job for three days be to walk. Walk and talk and walk. That’s it. I talk all the time (yes, yes, you know) and I’m a big fan of walking so the combination of the two is pretty thrilling. To be walking with a large group of other people who are united for a common cause is something I’ve never really done.
I’ve run a couple fundraising runs and that was pretty cool but I’m not very good at running. Even when I’ve been training it’s never really my favorite thing. And I really can’t run and talk. But walking and talking is something I can handle and getting to do it while surrounded by people who care about helping others and sharing stories sounds like such a gift.
I’m so grateful to be allowed this time away from my day-to-day life. Thank you so very much for supporting me in this. Everyone has been very generous with their money and their good thoughts.
I’m incredibly grateful to Kim for choosing to do this walk and for letting me come along. She was the one who signed up first, on her birthday (I don’t know if she’d kill me for telling which one so I’ll just play it safe), and when we talked that day she told me she’d signed up and she sounded so happy about it. It was awesome. And then I asked if I could walk it with her (not knowing about all this crazy fundraising) and she said yes. And I’m so glad she did. I never would have imagined that I could be so lucky as to meet my birth mom and have her be wonderful and so loving (if a bit nutty sometimes) that I’d be willing to walk 60 miles with her. And that she’d be willing to put up with me for that long! The universe is a strange and wondrous place isn’t it?
I’ll be sure to update you all after the walk and I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts as we take our boobs and wander throughout the D.C. area. Thank you so much for caring and reading and being grand.
by Clare Davitt on Sun, Sep 28, 2008 @ 6:44 PM CT
and the journey continues…
I honestly don’t know where to begin. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more emotionally or physically draining weekend that was also so energizing and amazing. I’m sitting with my still throbbing feet up at Kim’s house in VA trying to pull together everything that happened over the 3Day into a coherent story. I don’t know if that will be possible-am I ever that coherent anyway?
I’m happy to talk about everything from the weekend, if you’ve got questions please just ask because I’m probably going to forget a lot in this blog.
Everything began Friday morning at 4:30 when we got up and headed out to the Opening Ceremony and the beginning of the walk at Potomac Mills Mall in Virginia. 3,000 women and men were walking in this 3Day with 300 paid and mostly volunteer crew supporting us every step (literally!). The Opening Ceremonies were full of music, clapping, and touching stories and speeches-a hint at what would be coming for the days and miles ahead. It was pretty damn chilly but standing amongst all the pink covered people and reading the great team names (Milk Money, Simply the Breast, and my favorite-Save Second Base) made the time pass pretty quickly.
We (team Wandering, Walking Boobs hereafter known as WWB) got to start walking at about 8 am. That first day we walked over 20 miles between 8 and 5pm. At the beginning of each day we were given mileage cards that told us how far it was between each pit stop and grab & go and of course how far it was to camp that night. The mileage cards were a source of many arguments and discussions as many folks believed that the miles on the card were a bit less than what we were actually walking. I’m basing what I walked off of those cards however so if I’ve really walked more then that’s pretty cool too. Of course I say that while sitting down.
It’s amazing that the details which were so important for those 3 days don’t really seem very interesting to tell you all about right now. When all you’re doing is walking, talking, eating, sleeping, and moaning about your feet certain things become much more important than they normally would. A few examples of my major concerns: where is the next porta potty? does it have toilet paper? how many Uncrustables (delicious, packaged pb&j sandwiches) can I really eat? how can I get more stickers/pins? if I take my shoes off at lunch will I ever put them on again? is it the grab & go that doesn’t have food and medical or is it the pit stop? when is the next cheering station? and always in the back of my head-would anyone really care if I slipped into a bar and had beer?
I never did stop for that beer (although many other walkers who got done early on Sunday did) and there were many porta potties without toilet paper and I found that there is no limit to the number of Uncrustables I could eat. We got up very, very early each day and were asleep by 9pm if not sooner each night. We slept in a pink tent that was part of a sea of pink tents on a huge soccer field in a park in Occongua (I think I spelled that wrong) Virginia for both nights. There was lots of food, water, and Gatorade at all times along with pieces of flair for doing things like going to the med tent, riding the SAG bus when you were tired, competing in the rock star competition, and more.
I talked to dozens of people about their reasons for being there. I walked with Barbara all the first day and we became friends through sharing stories about Kim (nothing too bad really!) and eavesdropping on the other walkers. Team WWB didn’t actually walk together very much because we had different paces, especially as we developed our various injuries and issues. Blisters of course were the major evil of the weekend, the med tents were besieged with folks in need of moleskin and 2nd skin and lancing. I didn’t actually get any blisters for which I’m very grateful. Instead I developed (as did many other folks) tendonitis in both feet. I don’t recommend it.
I walked all 20 miles (or more) of the first day but the second day I could only do 8 of the 18 because my feet were cramping so badly. My pride was pretty pissed but I got on the SAG bus and went back to camp early that afternoon to rest and care for my complaining feet. I was able (against the wishes of my feet) to walk all day on Sunday from Arlington across the Key Bridge into Georgetown and then D.C. My feet will recover and next time I’ll be sure to bring a second pair of shoes to rotate between. My Chaco’s were super but it is apparently very helpful to go back and forth between two pairs of shoes. You walk and you learn eh?
I have so many stories that I heard from other walkers about why they were there that I don’t know where to start. There was the man who was a survivor of breast cancer, the man who was supposed to walk with his wife but she died and he walked in her memory, the woman who was a three year survivor walking her first walk, the woman who was a 10 year survivor walking her 16th walk, the daughter walking for her mother, the sister walking with her sister, the husband walking with his pregnant wife, and so many more that are similar and yet every single story is different.
On Saturday night Nancy G. Brinkley, Susan G. Komen’s sister and the founder of the Susan G. Komen foundation spoke after dinner. She doesn’t come to all the 3day events so it was really cool to have her there. She is also a survivor of breast cancer, which she developed just a few years after her sister died almost 30 years ago. In those 30 years we’ve gone from the days when people wouldn’t even say the words breast cancer or look Nancy’s sister in the eye to raising hundreds of millions of dollars and having national walks with thousands of participants. That is amazing to me, amazing and inspiring. Change can really happen and solutions can be found when people believe enough and invest themselves fully in their cause. I feel so lucky to have witnessed the reality of such commitment and I’m grateful to be the beneficiary of it as well.
When I started walking on Sunday morning I didn’t know if I could walk all day. I was ready to take a bus in if I had too but I was going to try my darndest not to. I had my feet taped and wrapped and headed out by myself (I had sent Kim and Barbara ahead). I had gone about 2 miles when I hit our first real hill of the day; short but very steep. There were crew at the bottom willing to drive us up if we needed it but I figured if I couldn’t do this I should just bus to the end now. All along the sidewalk on the way up were chalk writings like “smile, it still isn’t raining” and “don’t forget to flush tonight”. They made me smile and keep going and then I got to the one I thought about all day “it’s not as bad as chemo”. Just after I read that one of the Walker Stalkers (awesome volunteers who would show up at random moments to cheer us on and dance about) ran down from the top of the hill to walk back up with me. I actually jogged up towards her-I have no idea how really-and we finished the hill together.
At about 4:30pm on Sunday I got to the end of the walk with thousands of other walkers. We walked in between big pink markers to the screams and cheers of the walkers and crew who’d arrived before us. It was overwhelming. High fives all the way down the path from hundreds of hands. We received pink roses (of course) and our special t-shirts at the end but what really mattered was seeing all those smiling, crying, cheering faces and knowing we’d all done it. I’m actually getting teary again right now remembering how good it felt. How big it felt. After we were all at the “holding area” we met up with our teams and linked arms, 10 across, to walk into the closing ceremonies. Talk about overwhelming! Friends, family, and strangers lined the street as we walked in and thousands more were in the stands and surrounding the closing circle. It was so good to see the faces of our family and to see our fellow walkers with the children and loved ones we’d heard so much about. See next blog for the rest of th
by Clare Davitt on Tue, Oct 07, 2008 @ 9:30 AM CT
and the rest…
There were more speeches, more music, all that good stuff but all that really mattered to me was the people. When the group of survivors walked in I started crying all over again. How incredible to not only survive breast cancer but then walk 60 miles (most of them more than once) to help find a cure for others who would suffer, it is about as inspiring as it gets. I was so lucky to be standing there with Kim and Barbara right then knowing that I’d go home that night with more family than I thought I’d ever have. I had prayed to my mom, Mary Kate, all that day to help me finish the walk and I know she helped me with each step. I’m just so ridiculously grateful for all of this-thank you all so much-every single one of you whether you donated or not it doesn’t matter-thank you.
I think that is more than enough for one blog don’t you? Like I said I know I left a lot out and I’m happy to tell you more, just ask. I’m pretty certain I’ll be doing this again next year-perhaps in Boston this time so keep your eyes open for emails! This page will stay up till November 1st I believe so if you’d like to make more donations please do. Also if anything I’ve said sounded at all interesting please remember you too can do this walk or volunteer to be crew on one. There are also 1 and 2 day walks around the country all the time, I highly recommend this experience to everyone.
Thank you again for reading and for listening and for supporting. Thank you a thousand times over. Take good care, get a mammogram regularly and be happy.
by Clare Davitt on Tue, Oct 07, 2008 @ 9:33 AM CT