Saturday, January 26, 2013

Holding On and Letting Go

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and hanging on.” Henry Ellis

How true is that? The challenge then becomes specifically who and what do I hold onto? Who and what do I let go of? Life would be much simpler if we knew exactly what is meant to stay and what is meant to go. It’s true for almost everything; feelings, loved ones, jobs, endings, hopes, and dreams. 

What is the best way to make these decisions? If only I could just get a glimpse of the secret ending in this story called, “My Life”. What is it supposed to look like when all is said and done? What was I born to do? What should my circle look like? In some ways it seems that if I knew then maybe the letting go and the holding on would be clearer. Unfortunately the older I get the more I realize that the  journey most likely determines the end. The choices I make while at times feeling almost blindfolded as I move through life determine my end. And that scares me. Do I trust my gut, my intuition? Do I trust feelings that I feel intensely with every part of my being? Or do I dig deep for logic and reason and do what makes sense? What do I even want my end to look like? 

Ellis’ quote describes the art of living as a fine mingling of holding on and letting go. Art is beautiful and it is a process. I suppose the key lies in trusting the process and just living life the best you can. And when all else fails it helps to remember that if we love something and let it go and it comes back, it is ours to hold onto. If it doesn’t, it never was.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Long Run

Today’s run took me a long way from home. It was my furthest outdoor distance at 6 miles and a very long way for this girl who still considers herself some kind of running imposter. I’ve been running now for a little over a year and I still feel like I’m an imposter when it comes to running. I have a really hard time seeing myself as a “real runner.”

Today I ran a new route, mainly because I had a lot on my mind & it was Sunday and my long run. I needed to try to focus on some new thoughts and change my state of mind.

My run took me down Main St passed storefronts, lakeside for a long stretch, past beautiful condos, delicious smelling restaurants, a trailer park, down a highway, and back again. I decided part way through this run was almost like a mirror to my inner life lately. Parts were easy & I was excited getting to the view of the lake. But soon past I started to tire and all I could think of was the delicious aromas coming from the Italian restaurant I had just passed. I wanted to stop and envelope myself in the comfort of a yummy pasta dinner. The smell triggered a memory of my mom and her homemade sauce and suddenly I missed her profoundly. The reality of the distance ahead started to set in.  But I kept going.

I was distracted and questioning my goal distance by the 3 mile mark. I passed a run-down trailer park and in my mind I felt as emotionally run down these days as the trailers I saw there. But I kept going.

I ran through the next half mile where the sidewalk had ended and I was afraid the shoulder wasn’t wide enough. I’m a rule follower, a “stay on the sidewalk kind of girl” I rarely venture into the unknown or the dangerous, until lately. But I pushed past the fear and I kept running.

I suddenly saw the turn-around point in the distance. I was almost halfway done. I felt proud of myself & energized but soon after I started to get a side stitch so I had to slow down. I don’t like slowing down. But if I didn’t slow my pace and adjust for the pain I knew I would end up having to walk. I hate walking more than slowing down so I slowed my pace and kept running. 

Slowly, I kept pushing forward looking only at the few feet of sidewalk now ahead of me. I couldn’t help thinking of the MLK quote, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other even when you aren’t really sure where life is leading you and just keep pushing forward at your own pace.

The best part of today’s run was when I hit mile 4.5. I finally felt like my brain and my body were in sync. My breathing was effortless and I hit that point where you feel invincible and like you could just go forever. It’s almost a kind of high. I haven’t hit it in a really, really long time. But once I hit it, there is not much that is more satisfying. Suddenly my mind is clear and I feel like life is smooth and effortless. It doesn’t matter if I go or stay. Love and life are complicated but in this moment none of that really matters. It will all just work and all I need to do right now is put one foot in front of the other and eventually I’ll arrive at my destination.

Friday, January 4, 2013


I wonder how people decide what to write about on their blog? I wonder what constitutes value for others and what is considered the dreaded, “TMI?” I really hope you find some tiny bit of value in the details of my life that I share. I have always had to learn things the hard way and if the holes I have fallen in (and continue to crawl out of!) give other people a heads up then I guess putting myself out there is worth it!

So I’ve decided running changes you from the inside out. Since I started running I’ve made huge strides just as much mentally and emotionally as I have physically. It’s been amazing and continues to be a learning process.
I remember my very first run a year ago. I was out of breath, frustrated and convinced I’d never make it. I remember vividly feeling fearful and weak. Somewhere during the past year, after multiple stops & starts, I’ve learned to overcome most of those fears. I’ve encountered fears of success & failure, fears of being vulnerable & being attractive again, fears of being weak & I suppose being strong too, and fears of facing my past and embracing my future.

My biggest fear stemmed from old body image stuff. It was rooted in my late teenage years. Looking good equated to being bad in my unconscious mind. My conscious mind knew well this was false but getting it in my heart and being was much more difficult. It has taken me years to admit that out loud.  If I looked good and something bad happened to me, it meant it was my fault. I had done something wrong or somehow attracted my nightmare. That translated into the message, “It’s not safe to look good and be healthy.”  Shame sucks.

Running strengthens your body to face those fears and lots of others. You start to reach goals in distance and eventually you transfer that ability into other areas of life without even realizing it. You get braver. If I can meet a goal of running 5 miles maybe, just maybe, I can apply for that job. The dream you secretly always wanted doesn’t seem so unattainable. You slowly hold your head a little higher and you stand a little straighter. You start to appreciate your strength and rely on yourself rather than others. You ask for advice less. You stop the wishy- washy attitude. You verbalize your preferences. You realize you have preferences! You speak louder. People notice you suddenly as if you just appeared out of nowhere. You start looking people in the eye and you aren’t the first to look away anymore. And before long you look in the mirror and you start to like yourself for not only the image you see reflecting back but more importantly for the image you feel deep in your soul. In fact, you start to feel your soul. You start to realize what makes you happy and you just do it without apology or explanation. You uncover and pursue dreams that have been on the back burner for years buried in excuses and failed attempts. You start to give and receive love from a place you never even knew existed. You try to control less and you let go more. And life just starts moving to your new rhythm and your new pace. And perhaps most importantly, you finally start to trust your unique rhythm and pace and you finally accept that what’s meant to be will just be.
Running changes you from the inside out. Happy Friday!