Thursday, August 25, 2016

Speed bumps

I woke up feeling inspired to get my 3 mile run in this morning. I have my second running group meetup this weekend, a Brewery Festival 5K. I haven't run regularly the past couple weeks so I'm nervous about going through with it. The jury is still out but usually in the end, my #willrunforbeer philosophy wins out & I find myself at the start line, prepared or not ;)

Today's run kept me breathless with my heart pounding just trying to keep up with this little cutie. 


The run was tough after all the inconsistency the past couple weeks. As I ran behind her I was struck by how much she seemed to love every minute of the ride. I started thinking how I used to love riding too as a kid....the lazy days of summer. No school, just friends and sun and water. The wind in my face as I rode to my best friend's house totally carefree.

About a mile in Liv was riding on the sidewalk and I was in the road running when we came to a speed bump. With a huge smile plastered on her face she yelled back to me, "Hey mom! Can I? Pleeeease??"

I gave her the green light and she instantly whisked down the incline from the sidewalk straight for the speed bump, complete with the sound effects to accompany the little jump. 

Admittedly, my first thought was...

Oh my gosh, please be careful Olivia Grace.

She navigated the bump just fine and returned to the sidewalk as happy as could be.

I, on the other hand, spent the rest of my run thinking on that speed bump.

I wondered when I lost the excitement in taking on life's speed bumps. I mean, I'll speak for myself here, but I admit as a grown woman, I don't like them. In fact, when I see the figurative speed bump in the distance, dread usually takes over. 

How many times do I turn the other way? Change my route?
How many times do I face the bump with a smile and excitement and just keep going?

All this reminded me of a post last week.


I posted this before a trip to my hometown last weekend. 

Let's just say I may or may not have been on my way to a 90's concert with one of my childhood friends to see Vanilla Ice, Tone Loc, Coolio, & Salt N Pepa.

Why might I have found myself there, you ask?

Well to fully understand I have no choice but to take you back to 1991.....

Vanilla Ice and I 1991

PS Pay no mind to the girl with the perm...

Vanilla Ice 1991

Oh yes I did ;)

Back to topic....

Driving back to my hometown I couldn't help but think about my hundreds of commutes on that very road years before. 

I remembered how often I spent the drive hurrying. Worrying about this. Worrying about that. Ironically, most of which today, are inconsequential and meaningless to my life. 

Note to self. Must. Stop. Worrying.

I literally had to catch my breath when I passed one place in particular. It was in that exact spot I remembered hitting a very big speed bump in my life. Instead of trusting myself and taking on the bump, I gave up and stopped riding. I consciously made the decision that I wasn't strong enough just then, but someday I would be. Little did I know at the time, that someday wouldn't come for many years and that it would be in that decision and many more like it, that I would say goodbye piece by piece to what was left of the carefree, unafraid, speed-bump-loving-girl, for a very long time.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

So today after my run, I hopped on my bike, wind in my face, carefree, and I went back to that speed bump and I rode over it as fast as I could. 

Dancing in the rain, 1976

"Remember her? She's still in there. Inside you. Let's go get her."

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My long runs are always a metaphor for life

My long runs are always a metaphor for my life. Always.

I was interviewed last week by a journalist from Prevention Magazine on my weight loss journey and I told her running changed my life and she asked me how. I wish I had shared some of this with her.

Last week I had wanted to hit 10 miles on my long run but it just didn't happen. It was my own fault. I did everything I knew I shouldn't. 

I was unprepared in every way possible.

Nutritionally I had eaten crappy & drank too much.

I stayed up too late the night before.

My mind was consumed with things I had absolutely no control over.

I didn't mentally plan my route out the night before.

Worst of all?

I woke up early that morning and I knew I needed to get moving right away to beat the heat. But instead of prioritizing myself, I didn't maintain my boundaries with someone and I started hours later than I should have. It was 11:30, the hottest time of day, almost 90 degrees, and major humidity. And I thought I'd do my long run.

Can you say self sabotage?

The only good part of the run was around  mile 3 or 4. I was about to pass out from the heat when I thought of some of my friends in my running group & their #freethebellybutton campaign. 

So.

Completely drenched in sweat, I decided to peel off my shirt & run in my running top. I think my body temperature immediately cooled down like 10 degrees. Running in my running top was a very big deal for me. I live in a small town & I was sure someone might see me. 

What will people think?
I'm not really fit enough to run like this.
My six pack isn't exactly a six pack...

Then I got over myself. 

The truth is no one really cared except me. And if they did, it was for the 2 seconds I passed by. I couldn't help but wonder how much energy I waste on caring what other people think. 

I think I'll stop doing that.

So around mile 5 or 6 I knew I wasn't going to hit 10. At that point I had beat myself up enough. It wasn't happening. I decided to accept it finally & set a new goal. If I could make it to 7 miles today, (that was how far I had ran the week before on my long run) then I wouldn't be gaining anything, but I also wouldn't be losing anything.

I couldn't help thinking, sometimes you tread water, and sometimes you swim. This run was all about treading water and I felt immensely better when I finally made peace with that.

This past week I've thought about all the things I did wrong prior to my long run. I totally knew better than every single one. I hadn't set myself up for success at all. 

The marathon 2 years ago taught me how to set a big goal and name my dream. More importantly, it taught me how to achieve that goal, achieve that dream.

Marathon 2014

All the real power in achieving a goal or a dream comes from the small steps we take leading up to it. It lies in the countless seemingly small decisions we make that no one really sees as we head toward it. 

True for running marathons. True for life.

I've always believed you have be able to visualize yourself in what you say you want in order to actually get there.

That's still true.

But you also have to swim. Tread water. And swim again. A little further. And a little further.

Every single day.

I jumped off the cliff into the water a long time ago after my mom died, to try make some sense of my life, grow my confidence & finally define my own happiness. 

Oregon Coast Trip June 2016
And while the jumping was a first step, I've realized the real hard part has come after the big jump. The hard part comes when you're in the water swimming, day after day, with no land in sight. You can't go back to where you were and you haven't yet hit where you want to be on the other side. 

Maybe that's what faith is all about?

Trusting that you'll make it to the other side when you can't see any land.

Swimming. Treading water. Swimming again. All the while keeping your head above water & never giving up.

I'm happy to say that while I still don't see land quite yet, I did see 10 miles on my long run today.


Swim. Tread water. Swim again.

My long runs are always a metaphor for my life. Always.








Thursday, July 14, 2016

Finding my why

I was talking to my old running partner about my upcoming marathon. It's the second one I'm attempting and I was complaining to him that I'm struggling with it this time. 

"Tough when you don't have the first time fire. And I guess after the first it has to come from a different place. Good to reflect why you want to run it. The answer will come from a different place."

And so began my obsession with trying to figure out why I want to run this stupid thing again....

Anyway.

I always say everything happens for a reason and I really do believe that to be true. But at the same time, I often beat myself up trying to figure out the reason. Sometimes I feel like a dog chasing it's tail. 

The past week the sky was falling down. And I've been trying to make sense of it all. What lesson am I supposed to be learning in all this?

Have you ever had a period of time everything, I mean everything, seems to come crashing down around you all at the same time? 

That would be my week. 

In the past I would not only have went into pity party mode, but I would have stayed there a good long time. 

Who am I kidding? A very long time.

This time I got there and I cried. I cried for 2 days. I asked why. I felt sorry for myself. I even lashed out a little bit at the people I love. 

Then I forced myself out of bed. 
And I ran.

I didnt just run though. 

I literally ran into my fear. 

Ironically I found myself back on the sidewalk I started running on like 4 years ago. 

Yes this one. It's pinned up above my desk.



I vividly remember running on that sidewalk with several images from my past right in front of me; while I carried the 60 pounds of extra weight I had accumulated before I started running.

Did you ever see this? 


That was me 5 years ago & me now. Crazy, right?
Fear and shame suck.

Back to the run. As I ran I started thinking about how far I had come since first running the route. 60 pounds is no joke. And with the shedding of it, I had shed the fear and shame too and replaced it with strength & confidence. 

I mean I had taken myself across a marathon finish line. Across the country 3X all by myself and yet here I was seemingly back once again, at the beginning in so many ways, at 44 years old. 

I'm letting fear in again? 

Seriously?

Huffing and puffing once again.

Fearful once again because of things completely out of my control.

Control. 

The one thing all the events of the week had in common was the fact that I couldn't control any of them. Not a single one. And that's what scared me. 

Run into the fear.

Run into the fu*king fear.

It's literally taking one step at a time that eventually gets you where you need to be.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

So it's one step at a time. One day at a time. Someone once told me.... 
If you can run 1 mile you can run 2 miles...
If you can run 2 miles you can run 3 miles...
If you can run 3 miles.... You get the idea.

Crazy runner mentality, right? But that philosophy & mentality got me across a marathon finish line once before. 

And I really believe that philosophy will get me across the next. And maybe even this God awful week.

Yip. I think I just found my why.








Thursday, July 7, 2016

Choosing the moment

Last week I was reflecting on how I found myself sitting with the little old fortune teller lady dressed in purple at a street festival on the West Coast. She had said this....

"You. You, young lady have a very big choice to make. It's weighing on you. You need to stop being afraid of it. You know what you have to do. Don't waste another minute, another hour, another month. Another year. Stop wasting your life. Stop mourning the past & the dead. Be happy. Get out of your mind and go with your heart."

It got me thinking about choices and decisions.

In the spirit of full disclosure I'll start by telling you up front, I suck at decision making. It is so totally not my strong suit. Not even close, actually.

Pretty much I agonize over every possible outcome, consequence, and worst case scenario that could potentially come to fruition when, oops I mean if, I make the wrong decision. No pressure, right? This quite effectively sucks every ounce of joy out of both the decision making process and whatever I am trying to decide about.

So you can probably see why I hate them? 

Interestingly I'm an entrepreneur and just the very nature of my role requires me to make all kinds of decisions every single day, about every single detail of my career. 

Hmm. I wonder why I did that?

Anyway. Back to topic. So it was my last night on the West Coast, my favorite place in the whole world, and I had a very heavy heart. I decided to head out for a run. The hotel pointed me in the direction of a really cool running path and I headed that way.

True to me being me, I turned the wrong way on the river path. I didn't get far when I quickly realized the path seemed to vanish in about 1000 feet.

Hmm. This is weird.

I kept on running, a little bewildered, until suddenly I looked up to this.



In case you're wondering, that's Mount Hood. It was a spectacular view. The sun was setting in the West, the opposite direction I was running in, and it cast the most beautiful pink hue on the white glistening snow. My iPhone just didn't do it justice.

It was breathtaking.

But.

The trail goes the other way. 

And the other way? Well that was equally as beautiful. The sun was setting, the sky was gorgeous. 



UGHHH.

I couldn't do both. And I couldn't just stand there. It would get dark soon and I needed to get my run in. First, for my sanity and second because I'm on a running team and I had totally been slacking on my miles after I sprained my ankle twice. 

I finally decided I'd go the opposite way and run toward the sunset, but keep looking back at Mount Hood as long as possible. I am a master negotiator, I tell you. People pleaser, extraordinaire.

It's exhausting.



Perfect. For like maybe 5 minutes.

Ok so this is a very bad idea.

I tripped and I almost got run over by several bikers multiple times. It was awkward continually looking back. After awhile I realized I wasn't enjoying the run at all. 

All this brought up lots of scenarios from my past and even a few from my present that seemed to have perfectly manifested themselves right in front of me, in these two beautiful opposing views.

I kept running.

And guess what? Eventually I just stopped looking back. At first I was sad that I couldn't see the beauty of Mount Hood anymore. Who knows when I'll get to come back and experience it again?

But Mount Hood was still there behind me. It didn't get up and move.  It was hard to believe that just 30 minutes prior it had unexpectedly just popped in my view in the first place even as I was traveling the wrong way entirely. No struggle. No searching. We just kind of found each other.

But I had to go back home tomorrow. Tonight was my last night. And running into the sunset reminded me of that. I realized when I let go of Mount Hood it was so much easier to stay present in my run and the beauty of what was in front of me.

"....Stop mourning the past & the dead. Be happy"

I still think my tendency will be to agonize a little over the choices and decisions in front of me. But I hope in light of them, I also remember Mount Hood and the peace that came with going all in and just making a decision. The world in fact, did not come to an end.

I think what will stay with me most of all, is how much more enjoyable and peaceful the run was when I finally stopped looking back and I focused on where I was going.



"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." Ralph Waldo Emerson







Thursday, June 30, 2016

When the student is ready...

How does a girl find herself on the opposite coast sitting in the middle of a street festival crying her eyes out as she listens to a very strange old woman?

Well, let me tell you....














First she hops on a plane and flies across the country.


The story goes like this.

I recently found myself wandering a street festival on the West Coast, third in line to talk to a gray haired old woman dressed in purple named Maria. I watched her intently as a line began to form. I decided the weathered paper sign covered in the plastic sleeve of a trapper keeper hanging on her tent gave her a certain credibility.

No pretense. Clearly she's been doing this awhile, I told myself.

"Maria has been a reader for over 20 years. She can accurately tell you your future or past lives. Her readings are gentle & done with empathy as she holds your hands and guides you...."

Yip I'm in.

As soon as I sat down she held my hands, looked up in my eyes and among several other things I'm not going to share, she said this..... "You. You, young lady have a very big choice to make. It's weighing on you. You need to stop being afraid of it. You know what you have to do. Don't waste another minute, another hour, another month. Another year. Stop wasting your life. Stop mourning the past & the dead. Be happy. Get out of your mind and go with your heart."

Say whaa? 

Walking around aimlessly afterward I rationalized the whole thing.

Those things could apply to anyone. It was all a lucky guess.

I brought her messages back to NY with me and filed them safely away and slipped back into business as usual. There were business orders to fill, pitches to write, little girls needing attention, a house to clean, mail to open.... And the list goes on.

But I'm sure you know what it's like when something just hits you and keeps nagging at you....

"Get out of your mind and go with your heart."

I found myself thinking on this during my runs. I usually live in my mind. Running is one of the only things that can force me out of my mind and into my heart. It connects me to something so much bigger than myself. I so often find myself wondering how it is I've gotten to 44 years old before ever naming & pursuing my passions. I'm so easily distracted. 

I see things in pictures. Weird, right? Looking back I started to envision it like this..

I'm pretty sure I've always desired a full happy life. I've always wanted more. To go further. To see what's just around the bend. I have an insatiable curiosity about all things I don't know. The problem? I wasn't always able to define what brought me happiness. I see my life as a big basket. I've always searched and reached for those things that fill me up to plop in the basket like tokens. One by one, through trial and error, I'd begin the process only to get distracted by a multitude of interruptions....my mother's cancer, my father's stroke, their eventual deaths, grief, sibling drama, a cancer scare, relationship drama. I could go on and on.

When any of these things happened I always took the focus off myself & my goals. I would become enmeshed in the person or situation presenting itself or needing me.

Over involved. 
Boundary-less. 
Without focus.

Eventually when I looked at my basket, it was empty.

I'd start to fill it again only to repeat the cycle.

No bueno. 

What is it they say? 

"If you always do what you always did, you always get, what you always got."

I'm learning it's the steady constant act of putting in your basket piece by piece day after day that eventually fills it. Ironically, this all comes to me simultaneously with a new challenging situation presenting itself, perhaps the most challenging yet; just when I've gotten on course, just when I've grabbed the reins and started betting on myself.

All this reminded me of something a close friend once shared with me.

"Lift up the self by the self and for the self, for the self is the self's only friend and the self is the self's only foe." I have some very wise friends ;)

You can't give what you don't have. Maybe it's not selfish to do only what you can do without interrupting your own basket filling? Maybe kindness doesn't have to hurt? Maybe kindness starts with being kind to yourself? After all, life is short.

And then I suddenly remembered the wise old woman at the street festival.... "Don't waste another minute, another hour, another month. Another year. Stop wasting your life. Stop mourning the past & the dead. Be happy."

It matters less and less to me if this lady could really see my future or was merely using her keen sense of people to make a buck.

"When the student is ready the teacher appears." 

I'm so grateful for the strange little old lady dressed in purple that showed up at just the right time to become one of my most memorable teachers.