Pain and Purpose

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

I don’t even know what prompted it, but I was thinking today about the injuries I’ve been trying to recover from, and the pain they cause. And it got me to thinking about my purpose.

Yes, I run for myself. It’s become a habit. A bit of a necessity for my own personal health and sanity. Which is part of my purpose. But then I think about my half marathon. And why I signed up for that in the first place. How I had decided to add fundraising to the mix. To do what I can, in my own small way, to help prevent child abuse.

And I think of the pain. The pain that those children endure, that sometimes know no other way. The pain that I witnessed in the eyes of my own child. And I think, “my pain is nothing”. Because it isn’t.

I know I have to take things easy to an extent. I don’t want any further injuries and I want to be sure I can continue to run. But I’m reminded of the pain of those children. That there’s so much I can tolerate. And I will. For them.

For more on my why, you can read about it here. And if you can find it in your heart to contribute to my purpose, visit my fundraising page here. Thank you.

A New Year

A new year means new beginnings, right? I really don’t feel the need to establish 2016 as a year to start over, but more to continue what I’ve already started.

I started off on the right foot today. Figuratively and literally. I really wanted to find a race to run today, to establish myself in 2016. So I found a New Year’s 5k in the city, run at Lincoln Park Zoo. And off I went.


The path was pretty icy, so when I say there was a lot of fancy footwork involved, I’m not kidding! I really need to work on taking more pictures. Maybe that should be a goal for the new year. Anyway, because of the rough footing, it was also a little more taxing on the knee than I would like, but I finished. Running. And running strong! And I’m still standing! I only had to walk a couple times to let the knee chill, then it was fine. So I’m happy and I’ll take it!

I’d also like to add, Nike Pro rocks! When I was back in Iowa for Christmas, we went shopping and hit up the Nike Outlet store in Des Moines. I got a couple Nike Pro Hyperwarm base layer tops. They are so warm! I layered one under my Under Armor Cold Gear half-zip, and was perfectly comfortable. I wore one under a standard issue Nike running top the other day, and that kept me plenty warm as well. Now I’m on a mission for a pair of their tights!

My daughter and I joined a gym yesterday also. Have been thinking of that for a number of reasons. I kept telling myself I could just do body workouts at home, but I know I’m not doing all I should be doing. I know I’ll utilize the gym more and get more strength training in, which I really need. We joined a full service gym, complete with indoor pool, so she’s going to help me with swimming and maybe, just maybe, I’ll participate in a mini tri this year as well. We’ll see. It’s a long term goal, so if not this year, that’ll definitely be on the calendar next year at some point.

I realize we are only on day 1, but I feel great about where I am. Physically and mentally. I’m maintaining my focus, and staying positive. Life sure is good!

Be content with what you have. Rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

2015 Year in Review

When I look back at this past year, I’m completely filled with gratitude. If I had to choose one word to summarize 2015, I would say enlightening.

So much has happened this year. So many changes, mostly on a personal level. When I entered the year, I was less than happy with myself. I had let myself get to a point of being somewhat unhappy. And complacent. Although I had so much going for me, a good job, had just bought my own place, I just wasn’t where I wanted to be. Most of that related to my health and fitness. I wanted to get back in shape, but was having a terrible time finding the motivation and will.

During and after my divorce, I had to find the strength to make some much needed changes in my life. I had grown through that period, but a part of me realizes now that I was kind of flying blind. I was going through the motions of what I knew I needed to accomplish. I glossed everything over, and plowed through, looking for what was on the other side. But I wasn’t fully processing everything along the way, and I didn’t realize that there was so much more to be done. I thought once I came through that period, everything would be ok. Magic. That’s where I got complacent. But life is funny that way. We are constantly growing and changing with the tides.

I’ve experienced so much more growth this year. I set my mind to making changes. I changed my diet. I started running again. I feel fantastic! I lost the weight (for the last time!) and I’ve been keeping it off just by being mindful of my choices. I’ve set goals for myself, and kept them.

I got in front of a camera for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many years. Like, a real camera. Not just selfie’s with a cell phone. 🙂 And from a photographer that has spent so many years hiding behind one, it was time to practice what I preach. (And I’m gonna preach… get out there and get some pictures taken! Real ones. Do it for yourself and those that love you, just the way you are!)

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I had my first post-divorce relationship, if you’d call it that. And through that process I’ve learned even more. I’ve never been more comfortable and ok with who I am. I have a lot to offer, and either I’ll be accepted and appreciated, or I won’t. But what someone else thinks or feels about who I am or what I have to give, is not reflective of my own feelings. I can only be me, and staying true to who I am is so important. Sometimes friendship is all there is, and that’s ok. I think the biggest lesson here, however, is the importance of honesty. I have no time or tolerance for bullshit (ie people who hide behind lies and dishonesty in any way, shape, or form). At the end of the day, I aim to love the best way I can, treat others the way I want to be treated, show respect and appreciation, forgive when forgiveness is necessary, be honest and open with everyone, including myself, and hope for the best.

I also realized that I need to be challenged. I think running fills a bit of that void. It gives me something to work towards. A sense of accomplishment, too. But I also see the need to be challenged in other areas. I’ve been feeling underutilized at work. I love my job. And I love the industry and what I do. However, I also know that I am capable of so much more. I need something more challenging, more sense of purpose. So I’m going back to school to finish out my associate’s degree and work towards a bachelor’s. I need to feel like I am doing everything in my power to be my best self. And I couldn’t be more excited about it!

So yes, this year has been filled with enlightenment. Realizations that, no matter how much I love everyone else and want them to be happy, ultimately it comes down to doing what’s right for me. Accepting that maybe I don’t have it all figured out. That maybe the best is yet to come. My tag line says it all, I’m still learning to be me. The best me that I can be. One that I’m proud of, regardless of what anyone else wants me to be.

If you have never failed at anything, then you have never reached for a big enough goal. If you only choose goals that are safe, familiar and right, you’ll never stretch far enough to know who you really can become or what you are capable of doing.

To do something different, you will need to be someone different. Decide to leave your safety zone. Move beyond fear of failure to the possibility of authentically and consistently living your truth and creating a bigger life. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you! ~Les Brown

Moving On

Today is a fabulous day! Because I say so.

 

So yesterday, I went out on my lunch for a short run as I promised myself I would. It’s about the only time I have to run, so I brought running clothes to work, and managed 2 miles. My knee bothered me some, but I was able to run through it with some walking, but overall I was very happy.

So today, the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series is having a big sale. If you’re a runner type, you probably already know that! So what did you all sign up for? I’m already signed up for the Half in San Diego, but I really want to run Chicago also since I’m right here. I’m just not sure if I should run another half just a month after San Diego, or just go for the 10k. Of course, I know me, and if I sign up for the 10k I’m going to regret it. After all, it IS only 6 miles. 😀 So I think I’m going to go for the half… a month in between should be ok for me, as I have plenty of time to build back up my long runs. As long as I take it slow through this winter.

Also yesterday, I took my big math placement test for college. I tested into Pre-Calculus, which makes me very happy. I have 4 weeks to retake the test if I want to try for a better score to get into a higher level class. Part of me wants to just start with Pre-calc to give me more base and practice. However, those classes are not going to be as easily transferable, and since I plan to transfer for a bachelor’s at another institution, I’m thinking of shooting for a better score so I can jump in with Calculus, which will transfer more easily.

Regardless of what I decide on the math front, I can’t tell you how excited I am to start back to school. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the practice lessons I’ve been doing, and forgotten how much I love math. It just goes to show, follow your heart’s desire. I wanted to major in math way back when I graduated high school and I didn’t because I wasn’t sure where it could possibly take me. Now I know there are options out there. Part of me wishes I had the faith then that I do now, and had just taken that step. Better late than never!

So I’m moving on, and focusing on how I want to continue my life’s journey. Every step along the way gets us where we need to go. And I may not have any idea how this will all look in the end, but I have complete faith that it’ll be everything I could possibly hope for, and more.

If you believe yourself worthy of the thing you fought so hard to get, then you become an instrument of God, you help the Soul of the World, and you understand why you are here. ~Paulo Coelho

Progress and Goals

So today I made it through my run. For the first time since my Hot Chocolate fiasco. And can I just say, 50+ degrees in December? Yes, please!

It felt great. And I realized something yet again. As long as I take my time, and let my body go slow, I can do it. I tend to push my body too much too fast at the beginning because I feel no pain, but then it starts to hurt to the point of not being able to run at all. 

As long as I stick to the intervals, regardless of how fantastic I feel at the beginning, I can make it all the way through. Yes, my knee was hurting a little bit during the running intervals in the last half, but it’s minor enough to be able to run through it. Again I must be patient. But I will be back to myself soon enough. 

Which brings me to my goals. I think I’m to the point where taking more time off is going to do more harm than good. And mentally, I just need it. To be back out there. To get that joy back. 

I need to start getting back to my groove of running more regularly. I’m not sure twice a week is enough, so I’m aiming to run 3 times per week. I should be able to fit that in, even with my crazy work schedule. It will probably mean a couple lunch runs during the week, but it’s possible. And I’m ready!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

Finding Joy

As I mentioned before, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed lately. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. And this year, I feel like the biggest grinch. 

I didn’t even want to drag out Christmas decorations this year. Finding time to decorate just seemed like too much. Because then I just need to find the time to put it all away in a month. I just wasn’t feeling it. 

But my daughter insisted. And I’m so glad she did. I didn’t put up all the lights in the house. And I didn’t decorate outside as I usually do. But just having my mantle decorated (even tho I don’t have everything out yet, can’t remember where the rest of it is!) and the tree up, has lifted my spirits. 

It’s those little things I’m trying to focus on this year. Not getting caught up in shopping. And I know I won’t have time to bake. But at least I know I can always find something that brings me joy. 

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. ~Henry Ward Beecher

 

(Still debating whether to drag out the Christmas photo!) 

Giving Thanks

A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. ~Saint Basil

As I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately (ok, a lot overwhelmed!), and just generally out of sorts, I decided I really need to take a moment to assess my situation. Starting with the blessings in my life. It’s so cliche, I know, but with Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided I’d start with all the things I’m so very thankful for.

  • Of course, there’s the usual family and friends that I know I can always count on.
  • My dogs, that although they can require a lot of attention, I know they will love me always.
  • Two good legs that allow me to be physically active and run, even if I do have to rest now and again.
  • A healthy body that keeps me going.
  • A roof over my head that I can call my own.
  • A job that pays the bills (ok, two jobs).
  • Opportunities to see the world, that I may not otherwise have.
  • The knowledge to allow me to obtain a degree and be anything I set my mind to.

The list could go on endlessly. But the key basics are there. I know the next month will be a crazy one. My work schedule is a lot to handle. And with everything else, I know it will be tough. I’m so frustrated with the commercialization and want to really focus on what’s most important. Time with family and friends. And appreciating every moment. Living life and loving it!

Livin the Dream

Way back a couple months ago when I started physical therapy, my physical therapist and I were talking about general stuff. You know, like what do you do for a living, family, etc. Typical small talk.

I wish I could remember exactly how he worded it. But he said he had a friend or someone that when asked about life, would respond with “Living the dream… just someone else’s dream” or something to that effect. In other words, dripping sarcasm. Not really living the dream at all, at least not the way they envisioned it.

So it was kind of a joke. Every day when I would go to physical therapy, he’d ask how it was going, and my response “You know, just living the dream.” But I’m not really living the dream at all. At least not what I had envisioned for myself.

But that’s changing.

Going back to high school, I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I always loved math, but couldn’t see myself majoring in math in college. I just couldn’t see myself as a teacher, and didn’t know what else I would do with a math degree. So I went for accounting. And I hated it!

Last night, I had a meeting with my Money Man (what I affectionately call my financial adviser). I was talking to him about going back to school and he asked what my plans were. When I told him math, he said there’s so much more you can do with math than being a teacher! I wish I had someone to tell me that 25 years ago!

I find it so ironic that after all these years, I’m going back to school for the degree that I always wanted. I met with a college counselor on Saturday, and have been getting everything lined up to start in January. Stressful, for sure, but I know it’ll provide the challenge I need right now.

I really have no complaints about my life. I’m very thankful for what I have. And I appreciate all that I have been given. But that doesn’t mean I just want to maintain status quo. I’m still young, and I’ve got plenty of time to improve, to challenge myself. I love my job. I love the travel industry. But I also decided 4 years ago when going through my divorce that I never wanted to depend on anyone else ever again. I can take care of myself. And I want to be able to do a better job of it. And push myself.

So right now? Now it’s time for me to start livin’ the dream. Livin’ the REAL dream!

Pain, Grief and Acceptance

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do. ~Brené Brown

Last month, I wrote a post on my birthday about learning to finally love myself. You can read that here. But I’m not perfect.

I love myself for all that I am. I really do. And I accept myself. But it’s a constant battle. Every day is something. Almost daily, I look in the mirror and see the body of the person I was 100 pounds ago. I know that’s not me any more, but that’s still what I see.

Almost daily, I find myself constantly wanting to ask “Why?”. I know I’m a wonderful person, inside and out. And it’s what’s on the inside that matters more than anything. But I still wonder.

It’s a daily thought process of mine, reminding myself that I’m perfect just the way I am. Even though I’m not perfect, far from it. But I constantly see all my mistakes, all my imperfections, and I wonder if that’s what everyone else sees too?

Fall is a very hard time for me. My absolute favorite season, but it bears so many negative reminders. My birthday. Every year for the past 5 years I’m reminded that I don’t have someone to take me to dinner and celebrate. My divorce was finalized in October 3 years ago, another reminder of my failures. And this year a friend posted that they are celebrating 20 years, they were married in 1995, as was I. I don’t think I ever allowed myself to grieve that, given all the other circumstances distracting me. October also marks the anniversary of my ex’s trial, another painful reminder. And through it all, I’m reminded of how strong I’ve had to stay. Carrying so much on my shoulders.

I know I’m strong. I know I’m independent. I know I’m beautiful. But I constantly have to remind myself of these things. And of what I’m capable of. Physically and mentally.

I just applied to go back to college to work towards a bachelor’s degree. Something I’ve always thought of, and never done. I often wonder if part of my desire stems from wanting to be better. Feeling like I’m not good enough. As if some degree will make me a better person. (It won’t, I know that. I’m going back because it’s something I’ve always wanted. Again, proof for myself that I’m capable.)

Like running. I run because I can. I prove to myself regularly that I’m capable. That my body can accomplish far more than I give it credit for.

All these things weigh on me daily. And I just keep pushing through. And trying to remain positive and smile.

And then today happened. Earlier this month, I actually paid a photographer to take photos of myself and my kids. It was more for me, truth be told, but I really wanted pictures with my kids also. It’s been almost 10 years since I had photos of me with them (and of course my ex was in those too). It was money I didn’t really have to spend, but I did it for me.

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And today I got the previews. It was all I could do to keep from tearing up at work. Looking at those photos and seeing me for the beautiful person I am. And accepting what I see. Seeing me still smiling after all I’ve been through. And happy.

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And I’m once again reminded of why I love photography so much in the first place. I always wanted to give others that feeling of being proud of who they are. And showing that love and beauty through the lens. And this is also why I advocate for everyone to get in front of the camera! It’s so important, to do it for your family, but most importantly, for yourself. Especially as women and moms. We get so caught up in everyone else, that we forget about ourselves.

So thank you so much, Scarlett. For making me feel beautiful. And worthy. And reminding me exactly what I’m made of. And that yes, I AM enough. I will treasure these photos always.

Thoughts on Going Naked

I’m talking about running here people!

So last night, I did my first ever run without music. I know truly going naked is no GPS, no music, just you and the great outdoors. However, I did keep my phone on me for a number of reasons. First, I was venturing out right around sunset, which meant darkness was not far behind. Second, I don’t think I could ever not run with my phone, just in case of emergency. Third, even though I wasn’t worried about knowing my pace on the go, I still wanted to know what I did when I finished. I’m a numbers person like that.

But this run, was all about me and my legs. No distractions from the music. It was cold, rainy, and windy, and just listening to the wind whipping around me was kind of cathartic. I was totally focused on me and the run. In a way, it was nice and refreshing to be able to get lost in the run and enjoy it, freezing cold and all. And it does give my mind more space to wander, and process things that are on my mind, without the music getting in the way.

At the end of the day tho, I still think I prefer to have my headphones and my tunes. The music tends to push me more, and gives me more motivation. But there is definitely a time and a place when running without that added noise is both beneficial and beautiful.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. ~Bill Bowerman