Off

Some days, I just wake up feeling off.

Maybe it is a bad dream, a upcoming deadline, life stress, or an upcoming workout.

Today it is all 4, and I am trying to figure out how to not go into panic mode.

In the advent of this stress and anxiety, I turn to metaphors, as they make the world seem more palatable for me.  Sure, it doesn’t fix the problem, but it sure makes it more legible.

Anyway, in the advent that I am trying to adopt a puppicinno this week (yahoo!) I seek the advice of nature and how to quell a frightened dog!

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A la Caesar or the Dog Whisperer, here are his tips:

Ignore the hyper dog behavior.

Give your dog a job.

Go for a dog walk to redirect dog’s high energy.

Check your own energy.

Try out aromatherapy.

Okay, great.  Now, I apply this to my ever present anxiety situation regarding life stress, being tired, and the upcoming workout/parties/things to do!


Ignore the hyper dog behavior:  Aka, tell my bad thoughts to take a hike.

“Kaytlin, you are cockey and doomed to fail” ->take a hike

“Kaytlin, you are lazy and doomed to fail”->go away

“Kaytlin, you are tired and grumpy and hate everything and are going to freak out and curl up in a ball” ->seriously, stop. Ignoring you!


Give your dog a job: Aka focus on the controllables


What can I control? What I get done in work today, how much effort I give in my workout, my self talk, how I schedule my time, how I treat others, etc.


Go for a dog walk to redirect dog’s high energy: Aka, redirect the anxiety to the controllables


Check your own energy: aka where are these feelings coming from?

They are coming from my fear of making the same mistakes.  They are coming from my feelings of worthlessness and lack of confidence.  They are coming from my anger.  From my negativity.  From my lack of remembering the joy. And finally, from my lack of trust and faith that life can be happy and my self worth is in God.


Try out aroma therapy: aka, notice the little things.

My goal this week, this day, this minute: smell the trees. Take a breath.  Smile. Cry if I need to. But all in all, be present and know that all I can do, is control the controllables.


 

I may not be a dog, but I can have the heart of one. 

Work with diligence and joy.

Run with freedom and guts.

Live with duty and love.

Woof 😉

 

Beauty and the Race

They say injuries don’t happen to you, they happen for you.

How poetic, clever, and true.

This recent “ankle sprain” has revealed far too much for me to start denying the power of circumstance and what we do with it.

The minute I hurt myself, actually, the second, I thought to myself “well, at least I don’t have to race this weekend”.  This sent me into a whirlwind of shame and complete awe at my capacity to create monsters out of sock puppets.  What I mean is this: humans are great story tellers and seeing my love for writing makes me think that story-telling is one of my strongest attributes.

Sometimes, this has been beneficial for me.  As a kid, it was my coping strategy.  Stories and metaphors helped/still help me understand the world a bit better.  This is some ancient stuff.  You know, story telling in tribes and things.  But I digress.

Sometimes, storytelling has been way too much for me; it creates moments of panic and fear, sending my imagination to dark places.  And furthermore, these stories don’t come out of nowhere.  They are a quilt of things and experiences I remember, strung together in one cluster-fluck of a situation.  That makes them extra strong, because they are built on fragments of reality.

Stories are these magical things that either inspire or send a person into complete panic.

My narrative of racing and workouts has changed through the years, but the overarching theme of “oh nooooooo” has stayed pretty consistent.  It is, by far, one of my largest triggers of anxiety next to changed plans and Mitch crossing the street without looking.  However, this fear is born of a string of narratives, brought together to create this terrifying story in which my success/failure and my capacity to handle pain are all strung into my self worth.  The hero either lives or dies by the result.  What a fantasy.

Injuring myself has proved to be a good wake-up call; even today, I was struck by anxiety, since the run today has to be mindful of the race on Saturday.  As a result, my motivation went down the tubes, as I became more anxious of the big bad monster looming in the story of the future.  Luckily, the injury made me take a step back and sit in the problem, rather than running it out.  This is the part of the story where the character sits by the lake and gets a strong dose of reality from a wizard or a talking tomato.

Post-race, I tend to feel a great high.  Partially because it is over, but partially because I experienced something fun.  The monster reveals itself as a sock puppet, and days later I continue to be anxious because “wait, that sock puppet is a MONSTER!”.  How quickly we forget… This is the part of the story where the hero has PTSD…wait, we never really read about that…what the heck, Grim Brothers?!

I am 5 months into my year of “believing”.  It has proved difficult, but the lessons along the way have been irreplaceable.  I learned to believe that yes, running sitting on the back-burner does not make you any less of a runner.  I learned to believe that yes, I can run fast, but only if I believe in my capacity to hold it responsibly.  This time around, I am learning to believe that monsters can change, only if we love them and hold them accountable.  This monster of “racing/workouts” needs to know that it does not have my self worth.  It does not hold my capacity for a happy life.  It needs to know that it is strong, but I am stronger.  Finally, it needs to know that at the end of the day, I love it, and love is going to turn it back into the sock puppet it came here to be.

This time around, I am getting some Beauty and the Beast treatment- I am learning that the monster I see now, doesn’t have to be a monster forever.  That the song in my heart that tells me to keep trying is real, and to patiently wait for love to take over.

I have to believe that the story of my life is a blessed fairy-tale.

I have to believe that monsters exist, even in fairy tales, and I am capable of living a hero’s journey despite my tragic flaws; and through it all, I have God guiding me.

Finally, I have to learn to believe that no monster is too powerful for love, and that I get to write my own story.

What kind of narrative are you writing?

The Marathon

If I learned anything from the marathon, it is that there is no true joy in anything that can be placed in a spreadsheet.

“What do you want?”, I asked myself, the days-weeks-and hours leading up to the marathon.  I could feel my chest tighten up every time I would think about a “split” or a “pace” or a “finish time”.  It was suffocating me to the point where data dominated my usually free and dis-tractable mind.

A few days prior, I talked with my guru-love, running partner and home-on-the-go, Mitch.  When you talk to someone safe, the truth tends to spill out of your mouth like a saturated waterfall.  The truth, after all this time, was that I didn’t want to race in the way I had been racing for the past 6 months- for a time.  The truth was that this race had to mean something else.

Thank God for Maggie.

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Maggie is this wonderful creature that I am privileged to call a friend. Much like my other friends like Jackie and Alyssa, Maggie has a quiet spirit that cannot be mistaken for lacking, well, anything fierce.  She is a gamer.

As we got to the start line, I felt exceptionally calm as I stood beside her, as I let go of everything that had to do with putting my “worth” and “result” in the same category.  Since I was little, I was the kind of spirit that did whatever the F I wanted, and today wasn’t going to be the day I betrayed that little firecracker.  Some days, it means I push my body to its limits and feel liberated, engaging the physics of pain and doubt.  

Today, I was engaging something so profound, I choke up when I think of it.  

Love.

For 6 months, I was engaging the physics of things that don’t have physics at all.  Numbers, splits, mileage, results, expectations, standards- things that have no flow and really, nothing magical to them.  There was nothing for me there, and I felt my love for myself and for running dissipate.  I couldn’t go back to my old, addictive habits to gain confidence, because I made the conscious decision not to.  I couldn’t find any motivation to push my body and mind, because my worthiness was in something that my heart knew was wrong.  I was thinking of a clock ticking, counting down the years till my body will have “peaked” and I “should” be at this fitness or that fitness.

It is like eating McDonalds every day and blaming your weak stomach for feeling like you are going to be sick.  It isn’t you- it’s what you are ingesting.

As Maggie and I weaved in and out of the streets, I saw a race angle I haven’t seen in a long time.  I noticed the houses and the trees.  The bravery of the runners around me.  I could feel everything- sometimes, it was pure joy (I probably smiled for 90% of this race).  Other times, anxiety, as I let go of the numbers that tied me up for so long.  Sometimes, emotional overload, as I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time.  We sang songs, talked, she took time to help another runner who was cramping (amazing), and took in silence with a peace that only the action of running can provide.

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Yay!

Letting go and engaging the physics of a race that I let my heart dictate was the decision I desperately needed.  It was the salad after the McDonalds, if you will.

Sometimes, running is a game of engaging pain, or weather, or family (hello runners racing conference this week).  Weaved within these powerful forces, gratitude, joy, and love slip in and create a magical thread that only race-day can provide.  But at the end of the day, the race is our work of art in which we get to decide what we want to do that day.  It isn’t our self worth, or our potential, or a reflection of how hard we worked (try telling me that the guys that get last at the trials didn’t work as hard as the guys at the front- it is a battle, no matter what).

If I learned anything from the marathon, it is that there is no true joy in anything that can be placed in a spreadsheet.  

Running, wholeheartedly, is where we begin to thrive and fly.

Thrive

I could feel my heart get heavy by the second mile- constantly checking my clock, I felt this weight of agony that I think only “shame” can provide.  Two days prior, I ran 3 minutes from my PR in a race that I had come to love, thus completing my fourth race in 6 months where I threw in the towel.

I thought a trail run would fix my head, but all I could think about in those first 2 miles were these two ropes pulling me in completely opposite directions.

One, led me to think that I should feel shame for letting my body run, as my paces, recovery, and mannerisms needed to resemble someone who was “reformed”.  Intense, but not intense like I was before.  Fast, but nothing threatening.  Strong, but with a recognition of how weak I am.

The other string was pulling me away from thinking about my own feelings of self worth, and placing them in a performance.  A time.  Some medal.  A standard.  More intense.  More swift.  More strong.

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Life is easier when you are pulled in…^

At some point, I broke.  I let go of the ropes and went buck-wild through the forest.  I stopped upwards of 10 times to catch my breath, fighting the humidity and post-race fatigue.  But I sprinted like a mother-fer.  As I looked at my pace afterwards, its ebbs and flows as I made my way through tactical mud and heavenly gravel trail, I felt no attachment to the numbers.  It was quick, but it was more than that.

This week, I have cried at least 5 times as I think about the upcoming marathon.

I told Mitch “I don’t know if I can run this without my addictions and I have my self worth in the outcome” and I felt this liberation for finally speaking the truth and coming to terms with what I am feeling.  Tears were dripping down my face as I paced the hallway around my work lobby, frantically trying to find out what I am running for within the span of a 5 minute conversation.

These are all first-world problems, but I can feel it on my chest as it strips my breath away.  Sometimes, I go running and my throat closes up.  The doubt, feelings of worthlessness, and loneliness are there.  And then I think back to that trail run and the reason why I started to run races in the first place.

Kristin Armstrong.

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Every time I see a new “Mile Marker’s” blog post on Runner’s World, I say in my head, literally, “And now we read the Gospel of Kristin Armstrong”.  It is blasphemy, but Jesus gets it.

Kristin is a firm believer in running as a metaphor for life, something that I have lost tough with this past year.  I can feel it every time I see a split on my watch, or see a hill I have to climb.  But I’ll be damned if the marathon loses its metaphorical magic this Saturday.

Maybe this marathon is a metaphor for me working through my problems.  Maybe, a representation of me doing something for myself for the first time in my life.  The pain of life.  The value in suffering.  The importance in staying in the present moment.  The trouble with putting your self worth in finish times.  Running with the knowledge that I am never alone.  Living life for myself.  Living life knowing it isn’t all about me/I am not the only one hurting. What “real” goals look like.

In the spirit of Kristin, I am setting an intention for this thing:

My intention is to give myself the permission to thrive.

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It won’t look like a race strategy, or a goal pace, or a finish time, or a place.

It will look like me letting myself run these 26.2 miles, reviewing and hammering in my head why I do this.  That, at the end of the day, running adds to our lives, it doesn’t make our lives.  It is lessons, toughness, tenderness, and faith all wrapped into this emotionally daunting package that when I think about it, my breath is taken away.  Thriving is wholehearted, present, and means “to flourish”.  I imaging my bff Jackie P. planting some bulb and a beautiful thing blossoms up.  You can’t measure “thriving” in a spreadsheet (see this article)

This marathon is about pulling the weeds and replanting what I believe in.  The sacredness in running.  The lessons that come with it.  The strength forged with each stride.  My faith that is made more resilient.

I have 26.2 miles to bloom and thrive.

Good thing it’s spring.

 

Personal Legend

What is your personal legend, the thing that you are chasing in ALL aspects of your life?

What is there to discover for YOU on the vine branch that we all travel?

Let’s chase it together and enjoy the journey on the vine.

 

I had a thought and then a whole lot of thoughts, and then I connected them in a semi-coherent blog post.  Let’s start with the first thought, one from my favorite author and from the book The Alchemist:

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In my head, the universe is like this big, twisty-turny vine plant.  As the green weaves in and out of its’ own limbs, various flowers and thorns pop up, filling in the empty spaces of the loops and crevices.

Every day, we travel these vines and discover new things about life- maybe we encounter a thorn, or maybe a flower.  But, each turn we take reveals something new we never would have thought or seen if we didn’t keep tracing the vine-branches.  We will never see the full plant, the full picture that reveals all of the answers, but we can see the next turn, the next flower, the next lesson.  

Maybe the beauty of life isn’t in knowing, but in the journey.  The decision to chase our dreams, live, and be full in every sense of the word.  And when we want something, we encounter thorns and flowers, turns and twists, which lead us on the greatest adventure of all (even though it may be filled with a lot of pain).

I thought about this, then I thought about running, and I thought about all aspects of my life, and then I had another thought.

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Recently, I have been blessed with a new job- it is for a medical technology company, and I shall be working as a compliance administrator.  Basically,  I make sure we aren’t breaking any laws.  I have been training and running, living at home, dating Mitchel Gilbert, meeting with friends (my bff cousin is coming next weekend, guys, this is exciting), and eating a lot of bagels and oranges (cold and flu season, yall).  There are a lot of things going on, sometimes bad and sometimes good, but they are all adventures because:

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And every day, I venture onto that vine and search for my personal legend.  The thing that speaks to my heart since I was a little chickadee.  Freedom.

Freedom for myself, freedom for others, freedom in faith.

I am pretty secure about my dreams, but the process, that is where I get insecure.  I don’t like to talk about something until I have already succeeded.  I don’t like to talk about how I applied to over 100 jobs and got turned down by some positions that were probably offered to high school kids.  I don’t like to talk about how while Mitch and I are super happy, we still get in tiny-tiffs here and there.  I don’t like to talk about how I am afraid of rejection every time I want to hang out with friends, even though they have expressed time and time again to me that they wanna higgity-hang.  And finally, I don’t like to talk about my training because it is less than perfect.

But, if my personal legend is to chase freedom for myself and for others, I can’t be a slave to this fear anymore.  I can either be a victim of the process or an adventurer of the ride.

This past year, I have used a training journal (that I LOVE-Believe training journal people, it is great!) but now the pages have been used up and I am moving back to using my RunningAhead.  I thought about how much time I will have for the blog with my new job and I thought about how I can still write and share my experience.

I decided that I am going to move all of my stuff/data from the month of January onto my runningahead (some have notes, some do not- I will be updating the notes from my training log periodically). And make it public.  And finally, learn to stand in who I am.  I have provided the link Here and will make it open to public viewing.  I am going to share what it is really like, my training and everything.  I am going to be honest.  I am going to fail a lot.  But also, I am going to believe that this adventure means something, and connect and share my search for freedom in life, in my job, in running, in relationships, and in faith.

And that is why I keep running: because it means something.

What is your personal legend, the thing that you are chasing in ALL aspects of your life?  

What is there to discover for YOU on the vine branch that we all travel?

Let’s chase it together and enjoy the journey on the vine.

Miracle Cat and Why we can still rock with 3 legs

I want to expand beyond what I thought I was capable of. I want to stand up, not shrink behind the allusion that pain is a bad thing, therefore giving me the right and duty to quit. I want to do distances that scare me, because bravery is cultivated in the trenches. I want to push past those limits I thought were there, because allusions are best debunked with science and a whole lot of faith in the methods.

My cat is a huge inspiration.  He is also a jerk.  But let’s talk about the former, shall we folks?

But first, some background on my miracle-kitty:

2 months ago, my cat went missing.  A coyote was spotted in our neighborhood, so we were certain he was puppy chow (not to be confused with the powdered sugar-crack that one nasty friend brings to sleepovers…you, missy, ruined any self restraint I thought I had).  Anyhoo, we thought the cat was dead, sad.  My grandmother, who was a big advocate for animal rights (as she fostered not only children, but animals as well, throughout her life) died on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas Day, someone found our cat.  As we were heading to my grandmother’s funeral, someone called, saying that they found him (place a chip in your animals, people!).  He had been hit by a car, leaving one of his hind legs hanging off of his body like tacky-dangly earrings.  But he is alive.  3 legs, 2 eyes, and one pissed-off expression.

Miracle cat, am I right?  Thanks grandma.

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^he does not want to be hugged or photographed but here I am, doing both. 

Anyway, my cat is a huge inspiration.  Sure, he survived being struck by a vehicle, but there is something even more astonishing about him.  He has maintained his athleticism.

Today, I did a treadmill-workout where I did 1 up-4 at goal marathon pace-1 down.  In a former, more scary running life of mine, this workout would have been considered a “recovery run” for me.  But alas, this workout kicked my bootay; I wanted to quit a million times (but didn’t) and had some major heat-issues (that basement gets steamy…carpets.). I felt good about myself, toughing it out and investing in the run, but afterwards I felt a bit sad/peeved.   I feel like a shadow of my former self, the person that had her self-worth in running and as a result, ran 100% of her runs off of sheer adrenaline and fear.  Not a sustainable way to live, but boy, could I cook it.

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^a conversation I have with my legs when we are taking a nice trip on the struggle-bus

I thought about this and reminded myself that I have to be kind to my brain and my body, trusting in the process and not comparing two different versions of myself without considering the full story.   The full story is, I was unhappy, too thin (for me), too overworked, isolated, and petrified of running, back then.  Now, I am happy to run, and still investing in tough workouts, scary races, annoying recovery runs, and proper fueling.  But still, the competitive part of me wants to know I will still be able to game when the time comes.  I don’t settle, I just don’t.  Even if I nailed some nasty workout or ran a great race, I would still never be satisfied/think I am that great.  But that is another blog for another time…

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^me, when I am writing…what was I talking about again?

Anyway, I thought about this want and then I thought about this amazing thing my cat did the night before.  You see, my cat in his time away from home, got super thin because hello, he was in the wilderness.  Bear Grills style, folks.  Well, now he is always hungry and would eat the bowl if he could.  So, my mom decided to place it on a high shelf because we thought hey, 3 legged cats can’t jump 3 feet in the air anymore.

Wrong-o.

That little guy jumped up onto the ledge, with 3 legs and one victory meow.  He is definitely not in the same cat-shape he was in the past, but he still did that amazing thing.  He really wanted that bowl, guys.

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^this image has nothing to do with the post but it is funny so there we are, there we are.

Guys, I really want that bowl.  Not a time (though certain times would be nice), not a mileage (though time on my feet is important), not a pace (though I still want to know I can drop it like it’s how from time to time), but a journey.  I want to expand beyond what I thought I was capable of.  I want to stand up, not shrink behind the allusion that pain is a bad thing, therefore giving me the right and duty to quit.  I want to do distances that scare me, because bravery is cultivated in the trenches.  I want to push past those limits I thought were there, because allusions are best debunked with science and a whole lot of faith in the methods.  I nailed a workout today that was void of my self-worth, pushed me past my perceived limit, and will only make me better.

I may be a different version of myself from almost a year ago, but my cat showed me that you can still get that bowl with 3 legs.

Maybe that 4th leg is fear.  Maybe it is placing my self worth in anything but who I am.  Maybe it is getting unsustainably light.  Maybe it is resisting rest.

Whatever it is, we can drop that leg we thought we needed and still get that bowl. 

We just have to want it enough.  

 

Brave

Every year, I make an intention.  Some may call this a New Year’s resolution, but I prefer the word “intention” as it represents my “focus” rather than a “destination” or “result”.  Intentions provide me the space to let life unfold and see where my one word pops up in my life, giving me the momentum and drive to breathe deeper into that focus, rather than cower away.

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^or in Yoga speak, my Drishti. Idea a la Kristin Armstrong. Also, no, I don’t do yoga.  Probably should though…not flexible.

Speaking of cower, that reminds me of my intention from this past year.  Brave.

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^not to be confused with the Disney-Pixar movie, Brave.

This year, I wanted to focus on doing brave things, experiencing bravery, learning what bravery means, and seeing what happens when I am not brave.  In my training log, my running-specific goal for “brave” was: “I want to be brave enough to succeed or fail.”

In running (and life), both success and failure takes an immense amount of bravery.  How many of us have intentionally failed (whether it be because of shortcomings or human error) and kept pushing toward our goals, despite our imperfections?  How many of us have had the chance of a lifetime and let it slip though our fingers because we are too afraid to experience the raw emotion of “joy”.  In my case, fear penetrates nearly every nook and cranny of who I am, telling me to turn around when times are tough or even when times are great.  This past year, I wanted to see what happened when I didn’t turn around.  I am so glad my intention was brave:

2016

I was brave enough to succeed at a sport I love, than watch myself crash and burn, then watch myself pick up the pieces and try again in a new way.  My way.

I was brave enough to succeed or fail.

I was brave enough to work my butt off in classes and graduate college, then watch myself epically fail at my job, then watch myself pick up the pieces and try to cultivate new talents.

I was brave enough to be both worthy and inadequate.

I was brave enough to invest in those I love, then cower away from the tough things in relationships, then get back in that arena and keep loving.

I was brave enough to decide that being human is far better than being a shell.

I still need to work on my bravery, as I will never be perfect; but, I am proud of where I have been, who I have met, and what I have seen.  I never would have imagined that an intention to be “brave” would build me up and humble me in a way that has made me happier, healthier, and more aware.  But, there is ALWAYS work to be done.

This year, I have decided I want my intention to be BELIEVE.  Believe is such a big word (especially if you have my grammar skills…); to believe is to strive, to invest, to stand up, to listen, to live with the whole heart, to try, to have faith, to be ourselves.

Image result for believe meme^Thanks, Ryan 🙂 🙂 🙂

This year I want to believe in myself:  I want to believe that I am capable and worthy of doing amazing things.  I want to believe that I can stand in the wake of failure, wounded, and still have the strength and wisdom to find solutions and happiness.  I want to believe in myself while striving to be a better, wiser, stronger version of who I am in the now, with faith in the process rather than the outcome.

This year I want to believe in others: I want to believe that the people who love me, love ME, not my mistakes, my successes, my obedience, my shame, etc.  I want to believe in people and stop striving to become what I think they want to see, accepting that who I am is enough.  I want to believe in the power of difference and change, and that the mistakes of myself and the people around me will never condemn us to a salvation-less life, just a more complex one.  

Finally, this year I want to believe in God: I want to trust that I don’t need to constantly prove myself to Him in order to be worthy of a happy life.  I want to believe He isn’t petty, and that is just my projection of Him based on my fear of people.  I want to believe that I will never have the answers, and that is okay because He has got it in the bag, even if the bag includes a world of hurt.  I want to believe that faith is just love, projected to everything we touch, with the knowledge that the impact of our blow is the reason we are alive.

This year I intend to believe.

Where is your focus?

 

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Greeting expectation with a smile doesn’t guarantee success, as I know there are failures in my future; but, it does guarantee that we breathe easy into transformation and growth.

The thing that excites me about the marathon is not the race itself, but the training that comes with it.  Give me a long run, give me dead legs, and give me liberation from what I thought I was capable of (all of these demands are prefaced with a “please” by the way…manners…).

Liberation from expectation is either beat with the stick of apathy or the hammer of joy.  That is to say, you either resent expectation or smile your way through the unknown.

I prefer to smile.

Who really knows, when it comes to a long run, what their body is capable of?  Who really knows what we will see, how we will see it, and what we will feel at every turn and corner? I have always been equally nervous and excited for a long run, whether it was a workout or a time-on-my-feet kinda thing; perhaps it resembles the nerves someone has before a wedding or a big party, but less intense.  Unless you are me, who gets anxiety attacks at the drop of a pin, then keep up that intensity!  Feel the burn!  I’ll stop now.

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^a depiction of my social skills

Anyway, I was nervous before the-longest-run-of-my-life on Monday, fearing a two part RKO to the head: first, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it and second, I was afraid I couldn’t do it.  I could do it, but that wasn’t why I absolutely loved the run.  Maybe it is the metaphors that twist within each lesson I learned, creating a grapevine of wonder and intrigue.  Maybe it is the feeling or the adventure or the time away.  But darn-it, I really liked that.  Even when my body was in massive amounts of pain and fatigue, I could feel history and lessons burst through my veins like a massive rush of blood or coffee (as I take it from an IV these days).

I twisted in neighborhoods by my old high-school, remembering that growth requires firm roots in who I am and a recognition that I will never be stunted by my first budding.    I ran through the downtown area of my old-hometown, running by the tattoo shop and that giant hill, remembering that I may be a bad-a, but I also have one of the most cliche tattoos in history (aka, you are an easy mixture of sugar and spice, sweetie.  Cool your jets and laugh sometimes.).

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^I love this tattoo, but come on girl.  It’s a shape.

 I ran through my old neighborhoods where I would practice basketball for hours and run laps because I could, remembering that who we are, in our purest form as kiddos, tends to reveal the soul inside.  And this little soul was/is relentless.  I ran through the woods, sloshing through the slick snow and having to slow down my pace by a minute or more, remembering that in this moment, and forever, I will always be at the mercy of nature.  I happily bow down.  

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I ran across the bridge near my old place of employment, remembering my past failures and the love I had for those kiddos, remembering that failing doesn’t make us failures and anything done in love is forever sacred.  Finally, I ran to the street containing my new home, with my dog who was waiting for me to take her out on my last mile of the run, recognizing that I just lived 1000 lives within the span of 2+ hours, a blessing that requires a heart of humility toward the process and thanks to my body.

I am excited to race, sure.  However, I am more excited for the process, its lessons, and its toll.  Greeting expectation with a smile doesn’t guarantee success, as I know there are failures in my future; but, it does guarantee that we breathe easy into transformation and growth.

Smile, look around, and greet expectation without any of your own.

After all, the road is too long to carry your crystal ball.

 

Legacy

Maybe it is because gifts are better given in person.

Recently, I lost someone- scratch that, my family lost someone.  If I were to describe this someone, it would take a bit of storytelling and a lot of hand gestures to describe the essence of this someone.  I like that about her- my grandma, Sue.  Multifarious is one word for her, another is loving, dedicated, sassy, cat-loving, picks-at-food-but-never-eats-a-full-plate-er, dang good card player, friend, play-goer, and loved.

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Processing things in this brain of mine takes about 1.2 million metaphors and a whole lot of prayer.  I decided that I would process by first, defining what tradition is, what loss is, and what legacy is.  I had a feeling that one of them was important, and the rest were a bunch of shiz.

Here are the following Greek definitions (because really, why would I turn to any other group but the Greeks):

Tradition: 3862 parádosis (from 3844 /pará, “from close-beside” and 1325/dídōmi, “give over”) – properly, give (hand over) from close-beside, referring to tradition as passed on from one generation to the next

Loss: apṓleia (from 622 /apóllymi, “cut off“) – destruction, causing someone (something) to be completely severed – cut off (entirely) from what could or should have been. (Note the force of the prefix, apo.) See 622 (apollymi).

Legacy: klēronómos (a masculine noun derived from 2819 /klḗros, “lot” and nemō, “to distribute, allot”) – an heir; someone who inherits.

Well, I looked at these definitions, expecting one of them to give me a clear cut answer and so it goes, I was completely wrong.  Go figure, maybe this is why my March Madness bracket is horrible every year.

Anyway, tradition means to give over and legacy means to allot.  Loss means to be cut off from what could or should have been.  I think anyone that has gone through loss knows what this feels like. I think they call it the “anger” part of grief; you know, the pissed off part of you that wonders why it had to happen and why any of this has to happen?  I assumed that the sentiment following loss would involve duty, taking up arms to carry on tradition and legacy of an individual.

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One of the laws of mass states that energy is never lost, only transformed.  I thought that would involve the transformation of one person’s legacy to all of us.  But right now, our grandmother/mother/wife isn’t here right now.  I can’t feel her energy, I don’t know what to do, and I am really confused.  So I turn to faith and running, because I get answers there.

And I came to this conclusion:

But first, picture this: you have been to those races, right?  The ones where people are running for a cause, for a person, for something or someone.  Dedicating their efforts to the individual/cause in their hearts.  I see this and feel a deep connection with those individuals- life experience is the best way to learn empathy, so the more we experience, the more we connect.  I don’t know any of the people that are racing for a cause, and I certainly don’t know their loved ones.  But I do know love and I do know what it is to be loved.

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Maybe, when people die or things change, legacy/tradition breathes emotion rather than things.  Maybe it is hard to describe the legacy of my grandma because nothing really can describe that feeling- all I can do is say “you know. love.” and wait for connection to brew.  I love remembering the things about her, but it is the sentiment which I carry around with me.

And maybe, just maybe, her legacy/traditions passed down to myself and my family has nothing to do with gifts, genetics, or memories.  Maybe her legacy is a lasting feeling, a connection to everyone around us, teaching us the ache of loss and love, brewing empathy in our blood.

Maybe that is what Christmas is really about.  Traditions and legacy, Gingerbread and Santa, Snowmen and Rudolph, these are all things some or all of us celebrate.  But, really, none of that matters.  It is our connection with one another that makes the holidays important- it is life-experience, ache, joy, laughter, crying, throwing shiz, passing gifts, the list goes on.

I like to think maybe that is why Jesus was born as a person, rather than some crazy-transformer-pokemon-God.

Maybe it is because gifts are better given in person.

My grandma gave us a lot of gifts, but her legacy of love is the one that I carry and continue to use to connect.

Like I tell my girls’basketball team: remember what you like about yourself, and take care of each other.  

 

Head-space

Maybe our loves always come back to us.

We can’t stump their flight out of fear that they won’t return. Let em fly 😉

I am kinda a fan of Harry Potter.

I have a friend, Ryan, who knows all of the Lord of the Rings folklore and every single detail of every single tree; my knowledge of Harry Potter, does not touch the level of his expertise of LOTR.   But I do love it.

One of the best quotes and one of the most-quoted-quotes (grammar, huh?) in the HP series comes Albus Dumbledoor, the headmaster of the wizarding school of Hogwarts:

I found this quote to back up a thought I have been having lately.  It is about running and life and the amount of space things take up in my head.  But in my world, my head isn’t just my head; maybe it is the 7 year old in me, but I kinda have this imagery painting the walls of my brain.

In my world, my safe-zone/my head is a forest.  It is deep and dark, carved with a river as big as the Mississippi, sprinkled with wildflower fields and a lot of animals.  The things I love are birds, each “thing” assigned a bird based on their personality.  Running is a hawk, because in Native American symbology they represent vision and energy, both of which I feel are refined/rejuvenated in the middle of a run.  Writing is an eagle, because it represents a broader perspective,bravery, and a plea to God/the universe.  Mitch, a yellow finch (positivity and joy).  Family, a dove (love and protection).

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And, much like that wolf story (you know, the one where you feed either the good or evil spirit and the other dies? HERE is a link in case you don’t know it!), I feed the birds in my brain.  As I have spent this past year learning and growing (something I have figured out, happens every year…life is a lot of “figuring out” stuff and then “unfiguring” it out later sheesh!) I have come to realize that sometimes, I feed one bird more than the others.

But as it goes in life, that is how you starve the ecosystem.  Favoritism only applies to choosing candy and picking your favorite child.  I think sometimes, I get so afraid of life or of running “leaving me”, that I overfeed that cute little hawk.  Sure, it is a large bird and requires more attention than say, my love of documentaries (aka that random peacock in the forest), but I do need to remember to give it its’ due space.

And so it goes in life.  Sometimes, we can hide behind something or smother something.  Both strategies are the result of fear and both strategies end with us living “doing” something, not “being” someone.  For me, it results in that thing being the center of our life.  Maybe it is our relationship (been there).  Maybe it is our job (been there).  Maybe it is running (been there).  Whatever it is, it is good to look around once in a while and determine if we are giving all of our “birds” the attention they deserve.  

Lately, I have stopped researching running.  Honestly, I have stopped thinking about it, unless it is time to run or Mitch and I are sharing stories.  It has caused me to come out of hiding and stand in my whole self, even the parts of me that aren’t so safe.  For instance, I really stink at cooking; but, I have tried it more and I gotta say, I still stink.  But I am whole.  

I have an activity for us all this holiday season- figure out what birds you are overfeeding and then figure out why you are doing that.  For me, it is because I am afraid.  For others, it could be out of anger, jealousy, insecurity, or also fear.  But figure it out, then re-allocate where your energy is going.  After doing this exercise (and continuing to do it because I stink at allocating energy wisely), I have found out that while my loves are birds, they never seem to fly away from me.

Maybe our loves always come back to us.

We can’t stump their flight out of fear that they won’t return. Let em fly 😉