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.  

 

18

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.

 

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).

Symbolic hawk Meaning

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 😉

Why Frank Underwood is helping me with this whole running thing.

I like House of Cards.

I thought I would lead today’s blog with a 1st grade-level sentence about a not-so-1st-grade-show.  Spice it up, ya know?  Leave the people thinking “wow…so simple this girl, so simple”.

Kidding, it is my brain so we are going to turn something I learned from House of Cards into a metaphor for running, into a metaphor for life.  Because really: would it be me if I didn’t over-complicate the most basic things in life?  

Anyway, House of Cards, right.  Great show, terrible morals.  But, what I want to discuss is this quote by Frank Underwood:

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Boom: I like that.  I like that a lot.  Here is why:

It is no secret that this time of year is difficult for runners everywhere.  Unless you live in a climate with perfect weather, this is the time of year where we are going to be experiencing snow, wind, ice, and lower motivation (hello warm blankets, cookies, and Netflix…). Not to mention, this time of year can be really hard for people (myself included) because it is the holidays and the holidays are emotionally draining.  You think you are supposed to be overtly happy but boom fizzle, you aren’t.  And that is OKAY.  

Anyway, this time of year is tough for the runner.  I know for myself, I am working on rebuilding my base and staying healthy, meaning a lot of my runs leave me feeling like I am running in quicksand.  Not to mention, I have negative 20 points of motivation around this time of year.  This also causes me to doubt my mental toughness and whether or not I belong here.  But then I remember, doubt happens.  So do seasonal changes in speed/motivation/courage.  

Mitch and I depicting what it is like to run around this time of year.  Did I mention we once raced (the madre raced it as well) a 5k on a course that was completely covered in ice?  Fun days.

Let’s face it: it is hard to get out there.  Maybe you are running slower paces because it takes your body 2 million years to warm up in 2 degree weather or maybe you are avoiding falling on your booty (-licious…thanks Beyonce) while navigating snow and ice.  Or maybe there is no excuse and you are in a rough mile!  All three have, are, and will apply to me during this season.

But then I remember that Frank Underwood quote: when you have doubt, remember the truth.  Truth is, running isn’t easy.  This time of year is emotionally and physically tough.  I’ve got mental demons.  I have super low motivation at times.  I am afraid when I am out there running about 50% of the time.  I doubt myself.  Those are all truths, but they don’t have to be THE truth.

 

Every story has an angle, so find the truth you see in yourself that musters the courage it takes to survive and thrive.  

I could flood myself with knowledge of all those difficult truths listed above.  And personally, I think it is wise to say them out loud so they don’t fester in our brains.  But then, I move on to flooding my brain with the truths that matter and muster some courage. 

Here is a truth: I played volleyball for 4 years in high school but was kinda always jealous of the cross country team.  No regrets- I bumped,set, and spiked my way to some good memories and disgusting knee-pads.  

The truth is, this time of year is tough but here I am, showing up despite everything that tells me not to.  The truth is, there will be hard miles but those miles will serve me well in life, future runs, and everything in between.  The miles that feel good are the ones that can sustain us through the valleys, encouraging us to keep going when it gets tough.  The miles that are tough…well, those help us become who we want to be.

The truth is, I love running, even when I am laying on the floor whining because I don’t want to run, watching the miles click by as I struggle through a workout, or question my goals/this sport/myself.  The truth is, it will never be easier, even if the sparkly snow beckons us to forget the pain or Santa tells us to smile.  

But the truth is, easy isn’t the name of the game: endurance is.

Whether this is a tough time for running, life, school, dog walking, or knitting (I like sweaters, if you want to send me one 😉 ), remember the truths you see in yourself that muster the courage it takes to thrive.

Then flood the snot out of those trickles of doubt.

Let it rain.

Universe

I haven’t been writing for a while, mostly because my brain has been a whirling dervish of job thoughts, family thoughts, and chasing-my-dreams thoughts (I have a lot of dreams/goals…one of them is to try a rainbow bagel.  Dream big.).  My brain enjoys this fluster-cluck of thoughts as its’ “default” position; that is to say, if I am not mindful, my brain likes to spiral and spin.

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Mostly put this in here for the dog pic.  SO.CUTE.

It kinda reminds me of how I would run earlier this year- running off of fear and placing my self-worth in running.  Every run a tempo, every day a “just one more mile” progression, every moment running from things.  I like to think that our bodies will get from us what they need, one way or another.  My body got rest by injuring me; my brain gets rest from thinking by either a)conjuring a headache or b)getting exhausted/sad from all the spiraling and forcing me to sit “in the moment” or, c) by presenting a unique phenomena that requires my present and mindful focus.

Our bodies get from us what they need, one way or another; and, being a person of faith, I think the universe gets that from us too (refer to C above).

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I have two examples of this phenomena, both of them occurring on a run.

  1. Snow: the runner’s ultimate enemy.  Maybe red-winged blackbirds or a course without port-a-potties, but you catch my drift.  I was feeling pretty peeved this morning, as the snow was asking of my legs a slower pace and  sturdy/focused footing.  I was careful on each step, frustrated that I couldn’t go as “hard” as I wanted.  Then, I came to a part of the neighborhood where I had the opportunity to do some hill sprints; the road was clear and because I had been careful/warmed up properly throughout the run, the sprints went seamlessly.  Sometimes, the universe asks us to rest when we don’t want to so we have the stamina to do hard things when we don’t have to.  Doing hills/working hard/being honest/loving with all we have when we don’t have to=being able to do those things, better than we could have imagined, when we must.
  2. Fear: the resistance in our every-day battle toward transformation.  This weekend, I set out for a long run on a hillier-than-normal, more un-safe than normal, unfamiliar route.  The first few miles I felt panic set in, as fear crept in like those spiders you feel creeping up your back any time you watch some documentary about creepy critters.  And, like that “spider-phenomena”, my fear was unwarranted and a result of fear’s twin brother, dread.  I made it though the fear, making my way to a forest preserve in a near-by town.  I focused on staying present and accepting the fear, and as I made my way into the new forest, I felt this rush of child-like joy, as the forest was beautiful and dark.  It reminded me of who I am and what I love, loosening the fear-knots from my shoulder like a good massage.  Sometimes, the universe presents us with one strong emotion in order to bust open the doors of our hearts to allow the other emotions to enter as well.  Being open to/not numbing our emotions= making room for not just the bad, but the absolutely wonderful.

Being present and being mindful has untangled the knots in my mind, reminding me of the lessons that my body and the universe are constantly providing for me.

I guess that’s what they mean by wake up.

A personal letter (it is like a poem sprinkled with memes, so I will just call it a letter and call it a day)

Dear Runner,

I want you to know, first and foremost, that you are whole.  You are so whole, that when I address you as runner, I can only taste a portion of the person you really are.  It is like picking out the beans in a soup, knowing the texture as distinct from the other parts, but still a contributor to the whole symphony.

Dear runner, I want you to know that I can see you running out there, wildly, resembling the baby-faced you that would race boys to prove that you were strong.  To prove that you were impenetrable. To prove that no one could make you hurt because you, runner, are untouchable.  I can see you running in fear, sprinting over sidewalks plagued with cracks, avoiding every one of them as they threaten to break the woman that made you.  To break you, because you are a woman.  To break you, because who are you to be out here in the first place?  I see you, I see that running isn’t just an action, it is a statement, it is a protection, it is a creative outlet, it is your freedom, it is your forgiveness, it is your lesson.  I see you.

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Dear runner, I want you to know that your size, pace, finishing time, medal, elite club, mileage, cadence, diet, or anything that can be pinned to a numerical value is just that.  A numerical value.  I want you to know that you may finish a race and be judged by people who can’t carry the own weight of their inadequacy, so they toss it on you like a dirty towel, shaming you at your most vulnerable, but I know you will not be broken.  I know, because I know that taste of blood in your mouth, the voice that wants you to quit, the voice that thinks it has to prove something, the voice that is terrified of being seen as vulnerable, the voice shaming you for taking up too much space, the feeling of your heart pounding through the bony caverns that are exposed on the outside of your skin- I know what you just went through, and no number can tell you what it all means.

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Dear runner, I want you to know you can take up as much space as you freaking want and your race weight is the weight at which your body stands on a start line, unafraid of the vulnerability it is about to wear.  Your race pace, is the pace at which your lungs scream for mercy and your heart listens, understands, and takes over to finish the job.  Your race pace is the pace where “I can’t” isn’t met with “You better” or “You will, or else” or “You must, or you will become”… your race pace is the pace where “I can’t” turns to “I can”, because you can.  Because you are.  Because it means something.

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Dear runner, I want you to know that even if you become injured, fall on your butt, poison running for a while, forget, push aside, or change running, that you are a runner.  That I, officially, give you permission to be as messy and human and raw as you want with this sport. Because, dear runner, the key to defying expectations is to give yourself permission to get ugly.  Hurt.  Make that face.  Mess up.  Get up.  I said, get up.  This won’t be the first time you get knocked down, and it won’t be the last.  Get up.  Because it means something.

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Dear runner, I want you to know that I want to beat you.  I want to beat you, because I respect you. I want to compete with you, because I love you enough to leave your worth where it belongs: in your heart.  I want to beat you, because I love to compete and I am unashamed of that, because competition is just curiosity of the limits.  Not of what I, you, him, her, me she, or anyone else is worth bartering for, but it is curiosity of the extent of our reach.

Dear runner, I want you to know that your heart and soul and passion and gosh darn fire is the thing that is your reckoning.  It is your wisdom.  It is your strength, weaving in and out of the streets, unaware of the cracks on which it stands because no curse can break the back of the woman that made you.  No pain can expose you to the point where you are the next hunter’s dinner.  It is your humility, ingesting the cool air as it fills your lungs with ache and humanity, as your heart takes those feelings in and soothes them without shame or fear, transforming them into liberation and heaven.

 

Dear runner, see you out there.

 

Why race…

And maybe I race because it reminds me that I am never alone.

… but first, let’s talk about pain.

There is a time for everything, including pain. Inappropriate pain is that relative no one likes at parties, such as getting punched in the face,being bullied, or hurting ourselves in a negative way. That pain you can dutifully kick out. See ya later, sucker. I am uninviting you.

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Race pain is that old friend that says the tough stuff we need to hear in order to grow. You know, the one that says “No, bangs are bad for you” or “He is using you” or “you’re lying…I can see it on your face”.

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Kaytlin in High School needed a friend to tell her she looked a darn fool in this outfit. A darn fool…

Race pain is that presence in our journey that reminds us of humility in the moment and grace after we’ve finished.

Race pain is one of my favorites because it reminds me I am in the right place; dealing with me fears while doing the thing that brings me joy. Sweet and salty. Sugar and spice. Pain and pleasure.

There is a time for everything and when the time comes, I know I am enough to accept things as they enter. Pain, joy, fear, confidence, depression, jubilation-they are all feelings that take their place on our yolk.

And when I feel like my yolk is too heavy, I remember those carrying all of the same things I am. And when my yolk is too heavy, I remember it actually isn’t too heavy at all, because I am not carrying it alone.

And so it goes with life. Sometimes I feel like I am not enough to handle all the things life has in store for me. The known. The unknown. The pain of my past. The uncertainty of the future. And the occasional discomfort in living in the now. But then I remember that life is sweet and salty and when I can, I get to choose the source of my discomfort. And when we practice this healthily, continuously, and with intention, we discover something: we are enough to handle it all. We practiced discomfort when it didn’t count, so when the time comes when we have to deal with discomfort we can’t control, we greet those things like an old friend. And when our yolk is too heavy, we remember we aren’t alone.

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So why do I race?

Maybe I race because it teaches me, refines me, and strengthens me in a way that a training run never can.

Maybe I race because it prepares me for life’s tough things.

Maybe I race because it forces me to recognize that I am enough, no matter what outcome may be (I mean, try going into a race feeling unworthy and inadequate and see how well you do..trust me, I have.  It hurt.)

Maybe I race because I know that the scary things are usually really important.

Maybe I race because I am curious and this is a healthy outlet for my curiosity.

Maybe I race because it is the ultimate offering of my present body, mind, and soul to God.

And maybe I race because it reminds me that I am never alone.

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Speaking of never alone!!! My PIC had an awesome response for why he races that I wanted to share:

One time I was called a…

Wink

Let’s set the scene, shall we?

So, my grandpa turned on the heat in the house today.  My running motivation was right above “no way” and just below “apathetic” (is it just me, or the days we have shorter runs planned are the days we have the hardest time getting out the door?).  At the 2.5 mark of my run, I let the heat get into my head and I wanted to quit out of panic/overheating/boredom.

I love running on treadmills because they force us into a place of mental toughness that a sunny, beautiful day outside can’t replicate.

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I thought about quitting and tried to coax myself back in, digging in the well of past sources of motivation.  Fear.  Shame.  Self-loathing-induced running.  A chip on my shoulder.  Something to prove.  Anger.  Upon deciding that these sources are nothing but dirty dishwater, I sought cooler and more sanitary waters.  This journey has been difficult for me.

When you are used to doing things one way, un-training yourself from these patterns is a two part process: defining what are lies and rediscovering what is the truth.  Finding my truth requires some confidence that I am currently still forging.  Since I don’t run out of shame or fear or anything listed above anymore, I have been having trouble committing and believing that I am worth “the try”.

And then I had a thought: I might not have the exact answer or confidence to define why I need to keep going.  Why I am worth it.  What it all means.  But I won’t find that answer if I refuse to believe and commit to myself when it doesn’t count on a scoreboard.  If I can’t find it inside when there is nothing on the line, there is no way I will when it matters.  And maybe, just maybe, I don’t need to justify anything right now.  Maybe I keep going because that is how you forgive yourself.  Figure out who you are.  Maybe I keep going because I can.  Because somewhere inside of this soul of mine, is a fire that can’t be defined or justified.  It burns because it can.

I finished the run, with a 1.5 mile hill in there.  Because I could.  And I freaking love hills.

As I turned on my favorite trashy t.v (this time it was “The Talk”) the ladies were discussing a recent essay written by Nicole Richie.  This is the part that they quoted and the part that hit me so hard in the chest, I felt the dull ache spread from my heart into my shoulders.  Here it is:

“I’ve been given many titles: Wild child. Reality star. White-washed black girl. Skinny. Rich. (I guess the last two aren’t so bad).

Now, at 35, the only titles I am taking on are the ones I give myself.”

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She is pretty funny. I like her reality show.  That is all.

The ladies on “The Talk” talked about labels we have been given when we were children and which ones we believe now.  I got hit in the chest now, the ache turning into a racing heartbeat.  I had to write.  And here I am.  Writing.  Or something like that…

I thought about labels and how for most of my life, I have believed and lived by those labels like the obedient girl I am.  Sometimes, I am too obedient.  Sometimes, way way way too obedient.

I have been called fat, so I kept eating junk to prove them right.

I have been called lazy, so I thought “why try”.

A slob, so I let everything fall apart.

Weak and crazy, so I continued to starve my body and brain.

Slow, so I slowed down.

Manipulative, so I put up more walls.

Of bad character, so I became terrified of standing for anything.

Not a runner, so I stopped.

On my run today, I thought about how I used to run fast, faster, and fastest, pushing my body past its warning signals every day, just to prove those voices wrong.  I would stop trying because eventually, I got so worn down from running from the labels, that I decided to lie down and let myself be caught by them.  But maybe there is nothing to run from.  Maybe, just maybe, the minute I stop running from things, justifying who I am in relation to who I am told that I am, and finally forgive myself for my mistakes, I can move forward to define who I really am.  I can either be the victim or be the student.  Learn.  Grow.  Love.

I love, run, serve, pray, believe, nurture, grow, show up, push, protect, because I can.

I will.

I am.

Label that. 😉

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Wink.

Give and Receive

when you experience people transforming, part of you gets transformed in the wake of their wave (but only if you let it).

Per usual, it took a symphony of influences to refocus and refine me; aka, this girl needs a liberal arts education in life.  Let’s talk, shall we?

If life is a school, then yesterday I would say I went on a “field trip”.  Yesterday, the man, his dad and his uncle ran the Naperville Marathon.  I had the privelage to watch them (along with hundereds of other people) put their hearts on the line and push beyond their thresholds.  I got to experience miles 12-26 with bae, as I rode my bike next to him; aerobically and mechanically, he was solid through and through.  It was when his legs gave out that his heart took over and when you have a great heart like him, this transition of power tends to pay off.  He finished in 2:36:57, without bonking, and with a good attitude.  That is what I like to call “champion” attitude.  His mom, in the middle of being sick, hopped on a bike and rode next to him, amazing me with her strength and support.  His dad and his uncle both went beyond their comfort zones and finished in a way that both dazzled and humbled me; when you experience people transforming, part of you gets transformed in the wake of their wave (but only if you let it).

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Amazing family!

In addition to this “field trip”, I fell upon some “assigned reading” and I suppose the same concept that apply to scholastic assigned reading applies here: you only learn from the reading if you actually injest it.  Dissect it.  Apply it.  Learn from it.  My assigned reading wasn’t hard, as it came from my homegirl (we are friends in my head…yep, not weird) Kristin Armstrong.  Here is the part that spoke to me:

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From the field trip, I felt this reading play out in my own heart and mind.  Some of the things I was struggling with seemed to be answered/taken care of in the process of me “going beyond” or experiencing others do the same.  Field trips are a learning activity that engages the learner and places them “in the middle” of the lesson.  If you want to grow, surround yourself by people who are growing.

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Surround yourself with non-positive people and watch yourself get frustrated, like this poor little cartoon.  (Maybe this little orange wasn’t non-positive, but you get my point!)

Lately, I have been feeling down about my “strength”, “feeling support”, and “confidence” categories.  I wanted to be out on that race course, so bad it hurt in my chest.  Being there and watching the people I love do their thing- I absolutely love that.  I felt confidence, love, and bravery grow in me like a little seed, yet I couldn’t help but feel guilty for being so “selfish” for wanting to be out there.  I don’t deserve nice things!  That is for other people!  I don’t get to race, I will just abuse it!  Feeling good about my talents, well that is just plain cockey!  I suck anyway!  I am irresponsible, shouldn’t be running, and am destined to fail anyway! Horrah, I am drowning my little seed in my little pool of “shame”! Yay!

It took a 60 second conversation with my dad+mom (two of my biggest supporters!), speaking words I didn’t know I had in me, and applying my field trip and assigned reading (and my faith) to kinda figure it out:

Me: “I loved watching and am so proud of them, but it hurt to not be out there”.

Mom: “You will be soon and you are doing all the right things now to get there”.

Me: “I know, but it’s an itch.  I am a competitor, you can’t take that away from me”.

Dad: “And that’s who you are.  You’re like a bloodhound-instinctual.  You are just waiting for your next hunt.”

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Maybe I am a bloodhound..this looks very similar to how I run…

After some thinking and remembering my lessons, the people I love, God, and this Lauren Fleshman quote:

“The dream is in there, somewhere. Giving myself over to this dream for the next year won’t guarantee success, but it is the only way success is possible. I’ve got people in my corner, my dad’s fire in my blood, moments of brilliance to build upon, and an inability to be extinguished by a broken heart. I can fight well with that.”

Being a “servant” isn’t just about washing people’s feet or helping the poor (but it totally DOES include that!).  Being a servant means giving yourself over- being vulnerable- being present- all the heart.  To our dreams, to others, and to our faith.  For example:

Give your attention to others’ dreams and watch yourself rekindle your passions.

Give love and receive it tenfold (usually in a way we never expect).

Give your ego away and watch other’s show you what TRUE confidence is.

Give your time and watch it be filled, not just passed.

Finally, give yourself a shot and watch yourself go places you never knew existed.

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Our First Time

Where we have been are great tales.

But where we are…that’s where the heart is.

Today the man and I tried a little experiment: we pretended we were out on our first date.

We asked questions we already knew the answer to (aka what do you like to do for fun, why do you do what you do, etc).  He didn’t hug me when he walked in the door.  We talked as if we were strangers meeting each other for the first time.  Fun right?

Wrong.  It hurt my chest.  It hurt him too.  Lemme explain.  And then I will explain how it relates to running.  Okayyyyy go!

When we tried this exercise (an attempt to spice up the monotony of our dating sequence), it brought us both back to the place we were two years ago- not together-without the trials, memories, or miles together.  That “spark” we were going for, was no match for the flame that has been going on for us this long.  It may not be as shiny and new, but it is ours.  It has memories.  And it keeps getting better, day by day.

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Back when we were “just friends”. Ew.

Yesterday, I was able to do 14 miles, semi-pain free.  Today it was 6.5, almost completely pain free.  Yesterday was fun.  Today was not.  I was grumpy, tired, and not in the mood.  Despite being elated for feeling no pain, I still felt my heavy eyelids droop and shade my vision.  My head hurt.  I had fun at times, but overall I was happy to be done.  I tried the same concept today in my run that Mitch and I tried later on in the day and surprise surprise, it didn’t help.  I tried to remember 2 years ago when I couldn’t run a mile without keeling over.  Or 2 days ago when the pain was so unbearable, I had to shuffle my steps.   Or a few months ago, when I was running faster than I could have imagined.

“Look at how far you have come from then?!  You should be so pumped!!!”.

“Look at what you ‘used’ to be. Dang…”

I wasn’t comforted by looking back; I was just more terrified of going back to that place or sad for not being where I was.

That’s the thing about looking back: rarely does it end in a class “A” finish.  My dad always warned me about looking back in races- maybe the same thing applies to my running life.  My love life.  My work life. Everything.

It reminds me of this Bible verse:

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The tricky thing about looking at “how far we have come” is this positive thing can become oh so negative, oh so quickly.  It can turn to fear of returning to where we were.  Shame.  Pride.  Longing to go back to the “good ole days”.

The thing that helped me in my run today wasn’t thinking about how far I have come.  What I “used” to be (fast or slow).  What I do or don’t want to go back to.  It was… orange and black flamingos.

Lemme explain, before someone calls the police or my mother.  I was running, being all moody and such, when I looked down and saw two plastic flamingos, pained orange and black.  It made me laugh.  It reset my focus to the present.  It made me stay “here”.

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My internal monologue on today’s run.

I like my worn in relationship (that has miles and miles to go).  I like that we know each others’ quirks.  I know his Panera order.  He knows my face when I am mad, but don’t want to talk about it.  I like that I can remember every one of his dimples, even when he isn’t around.

I like my worn in relationship with running.  I like that it is fresh enough to be a learning process every day, but engrained in my heart to a point of deep knowing and trust.  I prefer to look forward, rather than be happy or sad about the past, because that is where the next road is.  The dust under my worn in shoes.  The smell of tar.  The cool air.  Freedom.

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Guess which one is me…that’s right…the one in basketball shorts.  5th grade me knew how to mile, I tell you what.  Ballin.

 

Where we have been are great tales.

But where we are…that’s where the heart is.

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