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February 28, 2009

Thank You, Michael Jordan
This week, I walked three times on the treadmill, totaling 1.3 miles in a little more than an hour. Not much, I know, but way more than the nothing to which I've grown accustomed. And, as Zacky beamed, "Mom, that's really good for an ALS person!"

I couldn't have done it without Michael Jordan.

A couple of weeks ago, I flipped over the Chicago Tribune and saw a sort-of familiar face sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Scottie Pippin. And yet, I wasn't sure. I mean, could those rounded cheeks really belong to Michael?

In that moment, every guilty thoughtevery moment of self-loathing I've experienced as I've packed on weight in the last few yearsmelted away.

Here was a once-in-a-generation, world-class athlete, a man who can afford personal trainers and personal chefs, a fierce competitor renowned for his drive and focus...and despite all of this, even he has succumbed to the softening that often accompanies middle age. How could I, a middle-class, thirty-something, suburban housewife, with ALS, expect to do better?

I hope I don't sound mean. I take no pleasure in Michael's apparent weight gain. But I do take solace in it. If he is having trouble staying fit in his retirement, how can I be hard on myself when I'm struggling to stand for the length of my showermuch less complete a full cardio workout regimen?

Feeling cheered, I put the newspaper aside, determined to cut myself some slack. Determined to stick my tongue out at my healthy self when she flaunts her fit and saucy self in the photos that line our bookshelf. Determined to put away the Queen CD, vowing not to taunt myself with "Fat-Bottomed Girls" ever again. (Okay, I'm kidding about that, although I do often hear that tune in my head when I look in the mirror.) 

But, in the days that followed, I found myself thinking of His Airness again and again. Thinking not of how his weight gain absolved me of my guilt, but of how if he set his mind to it, he could be back in shape in no time. Thinking of how, in relative terms, it would be pretty easy for him. 

And my own competitive nature kicked in. Sure, it would be pretty easy for him, and it would not be easy for me. But somehow, that makes the challenge even more attractive. I mean, how cool would it be to get fit in spite of ALS, and to do it before Michael Jordan regains his form? To not just "be like Mike." To be better than Mike.

Okay, I realize that's not realistic. I realize Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, and I am...well, me. 

But something clicked in me, something that has been missing in the years since my diagnosis. That image of Michael Jordan has kick-started my motivation and resolve. 

It has led me to strap on my ugly sandals from last year's Walk4Life, to don lightweight shorts for easier movement, to clip back my hair, to take a deep breath, and to climb onto the treadmill. 

I honestly don't know where it will lead. But what I do know is that I already feel more confident and more upbeat than I have in ages. That regardless of how I look on the outside, I must be doing some good on the inside. And that once again, I am showing my kids the resilience, the spark, the determination I want them to see in me. 

Thanks, Mike.
2:39 pm cst          Comments

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Welcome to Aimee's Blah, Blah, Blog...
With great trepidation, we introduce the latest feature on a blog.

We acknowledge the pathetically long gaps between new entries to the website, and we appreciate the gentle prodding from visitors who would like to see more frequent updates about what's keeping us busy. 

So, in an attempt to dispel the notion that Aimee lounges at home all day in her World Series Champions gear (okay, that part is true) with her feet up (never!), eating bon-bons (often) and catching up on the latest trade rumors and spring-training reportswhile Jim is out saving the world in his S-emblazoned red cape, of course—we are experimenting with a blog to provide (weekly? biweekly? monthly?) updates on our activities.

However, come Opening Day, we're not promising anything...

[Note: Aimee is the author of the blog. All first-person accounts are hers unless otherwise noted. Any pro-Cubs entries are obviously the unauthorized work of Jim and should be reported to the proper authorities immediately.]