Candace's Favorite Things

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How Did This All start?

I was a young woman when I married. The reasons “why” I made the conscious choice to marry at such a young age are very complicated and complex. More importantly, I only considered this at such a young age, because of a particular man. I knew that this man, who had pursued me so intensely, was the type of man every woman would be a fool NOT to marry, if marrying is even a part of ones paradigm. Yet I often wonder myself how an 18 year old girl can leave home, move in with a 28 year old man, get married at 20 and sustain the fruit of that decision for 27 pretty amazing marital years. Actually, we’ve been together a total of 29 years, without even a blip on the infidelity radar screen. Then consider that 7 months into this statistically doomed union, (and one month into my first pregnancy I might add), we were hit with the beginnings of what would soon best be described as a medical journey into hell. To keep things interesting, add even more disease as well as a couple of near death experiences to go along with it; what we have here folks is a real life, bonafide miracle. I didn’t even mention our unexpected travels. When our first child was 6 weeks old, my husband’s company reorganized him out of a job. Thus began our experience of moving to a new state when each of my babies was three months old. This, of course, cemented the reality that there would be no support system for us. We didn’t even know a single soul to help us with two babies 15 months apart and their mother (me) with an illness that had stumped the medical community. It’s been an adventure. A day doesn’t go by that we don’t realize we have done more than defied the odds. Want our opinion? It’s a God Thing! But let’s take a step back and look at how we got here.
Honestly, not much in my life has been a result of an immature type of helter-skelter running around, where one’s experiences are the end result of that type of behavior. I had a few to be sure; I learned quickly that if you want a quality life, make quality choices and follow through. I was brought into this world in Yuba City, California. I was three weeks overdue and arrived just in time to CRASH CHRISTMAS DINNER! Yep, I’m a Christmas baby. That’s how I got my name. Apparently, I was the first baby to be born in that hospital on Christmas day. The story continues that because of this “FIRST”, the nurses called me their “little piece of Christmas Candy”. My parents liked the surname from which the nick name was derived and Candace Chatham had arrived. I came into the world with a big entrance…what a surprise! TADA. I was a ham from birth. We moved around quite a bit. Most of my growing up, from the ages of 5 till 21, took place in Ithaca, New York. It’s a gorgeous Finger Lakes town in upstate NY, best known for the two prestigious colleges that sit high upon the hills overlooking Cayuga Lake. One of the schools is Cornell University, a corner stone school in the Ivy League world. The other school is Ithaca College, a private college known for its dedication to the arts. With all the national parks, lakes and water falls, it was a beautiful place to grow up. I never felt any kind of urge to be a wild child or to sow my proverbial WILD OATS. I never felt I possessed any “oats” that weren’t already sown from the hard work I’d put in every day, towards the goals I had carved out for myself. Yes, goals were a part of my life even at a very young age. As a result of my GO BIG or GO HOME kind of mentality, I had big dreams. I also (thank God) had a built-in sense of right and wrong. Attached to that, was this weird and unrelenting sense of urgency. It can best be described as an eerie overwhelming feeling that “we’re not guaranteed another tomorrow, so get it done today”. Maybe that was due, in part, to the type of sport I pursued. Horse show jumping was my drug of choice. While other teens were messing with illegal substances, I was getting high off of adrenaline….as it is to this day. I left school each day and went directly to the barns where I worked and trained anywhere from 3 to 5 hours daily to maintain my status in the “A rated” show arena. In addition, from this point on (12 years of age), I had to start watching my weight. In one of the earlier chapters I shared with you that I have a propensity to be large. I over heard my riding instructor tell my mom “she’s going to be good, but to be great, she’ll have to lose some weight”. I over heard them, and it was DONE! If that’s what it takes to be great at my craft, so be it and I’ve been watching it ever since.
Let me step out of the barn for just a minute. Do you see a career building here?? Like DUHHH!!!! If I knew how to push myself and deny myself in order to win, maybe I could teach someone else? Our job is to find the gifts that we've been given and then use those gifts for the purpose of helping others as well as ourselves. Back to the barn...
The higher the fences and the faster we flew, the better. No wonder my Mother never came out of the ladies room during show jump offs! A little secret she let me in on only a few years ago. I though she was watching…who knew! I played serious classical violin starting at the age of 5 when, apparently, I begged my parents to ask Santa Claus to bring me one for Christmas. I still have no idea to this day why I wanted one, but they got it; I never put it down. Lessons with the best teacher started right away. My parents even had a picture of me playing with Dr. Suzuki himself, when I was still knee high to a grasshopper. I also picked up the piano and oboe and was invited to play with the Corning Symphony, second chair, second violin, when I was 14 years of age. As you can see, I felt there were things to be had, and I wanted a piece. A big abundant experience here was what I wanted to live and still do! Still, there was this inner urging, “Time is short, hurry Candace…hurry”. I found that if I had a passion and worked it hard, the results were very empowering. I had little time for kid’s games and the silly, cruel and often devastating teasing that has unfortunately, always been a part of the bullying that children from 8 to 18 throw at each other in an attempt to raise their own self-worth. I had self-worth. I was working hard to create it. I also had my parents’ support; they were behind me in everything I wanted to try. I can still hear my Dad’s voice, “You can do it Pee Wee...go get it”! He was the dare devil whose spirit I inherited. I can hear my Mom quietly convincing my Dad in the kitchen, “Doyle, that’s how much we have to spend to get her a horse good enough to win. We can swing it”! I had things I was dedicated to. I didn’t want to be the best; I just wanted to be the very best that I could be…no matter the medium. It felt good to soar. I soon learned that if I was riding high on my hard earned experiences, I could fly above my circumstances no matter what was in my way. Unbeknownst to me, this lesson would soon become my life’s blood. I’d been and would be tested beyond what I often thought I could bare. I’m still on that same road today! Parents, take this to the bank...teach your children to follow their passions and let them rip it up. It just might save them one day!! SO fast forward ahead – here I am, a self-assured 18 year old…soon to be college freshman, taking a bite out of life and in walks a PARTICULAR MAN.
Little did I know that from the very moment our eyes met, my well ordered, strong willed, tightly wrapped world was about to change....
Hold on ya’ll, we’re about to take a hard turn.
Power on,


  1. Candace you can NOT leave me hanging like that. This is where it gets exciting. You leave me with too many questions? Why were you tested? What for? Tell me about this first sight love!!

  2. Hang Tight Bejazzled...
    It's coming.
    glad I've got your interest!
    It will be worth the wait, and it won't be long..PROMISE!
    Power On girl..

  3. Candace thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us. Such an interesting journey. From one overachiever to another, I admire your self-discipline.