Distance/time: About 2 1/2 miles cobbled together in 45 minutes. Heart rate: OMG. Too much. Utterly painful.

This morning I had a “breakthrough”…or as some would call it a “fantastically beautiful utterly without boundaries complete with tears, sad eyes and a belief that the universe was conspiring to support my demise” meltdown. Because of socks. (It makes me feel slightly better to say that it was probably just a result of the insomnia that has plagued me over the past few weeks. Or the fact that I have too many responsibilities thus naturally stretching my coping skills to the breaking point. Or the fact that over the past few months I have been living with unresolved wackiness which is obviously tiring and debilitating.) In any event, it was 8am and I need to make several things happen in a very short span of time. And I needed socks. Two pairs. One for work to fit into my moderately dressy shoes that matched the pinstripe in my pants. And one for my trip to the gym after work. And…the plan went sadly awry. The only pair that came even close to matching was a pair of thick tennis socks. That didn’t even belong to me. I searched the laundry room. I searched the sock basket. I searched under the bed. And the couch. Nothing. (I am still slightly concerned that the sock fairy has stolen all of my brown socks.) To make a long story short, through a haze of those big hearty tears that drip off your chin, I simply sat down in the middle of my living room floor and admitted defeat. All the defeat. It was difficult to lift my arms. And, every defeat I’ve every faced rushed to the surface…dancing on my fragile grasp of happiness.

So…after a time, I remembered why I don’t spend a great deal of time sitting on hardwood floors (because they are hard and uncomfortable), that I couldn’t actually spend my entire day crying (nor call in sick to work for “lack of appropriate footwear”) over socks, and, that if I kept looking at the dust bunnies and cat hair under the couch, I would be required to do something about it (and I was in no mood for spring cleaning). And I remembered that I was a survivor of greater and harder days that this. Therefore, I changed my pants, stuffed my thick cotton socks into a slightly less dressy pair of boots (I’m sure that someone at the Cole Haan store was screaming as I stretched the leather to accommodate basically camping socks), grabbed my workout bag…and headed out buoyed by the faint belief that today would not kill me.

Hence, the love letter. To me. The very thought of love letters makes me giddy. They are filled with the promise of happiness and a joy yet unexperienced. Or the celebration of a joy already experienced. Either way, they make me giggle and dance in my kitchen. They fill me with fizzy euphoric bubbles. I keep them in boxes divided out by sender, honoring the space and time in which I received them as well as celebrating the senders in all their beauty. Let’s be clear…there aren’t a great deal of boxes (I suspect that I have far more shoes than saved love letters).

Anyway…I began dreading going to the gym at 8:45 am this morning. Toying with the idea like one pushes a painful tooth with your tongue. To go? To not go? I mentally calculated all the pros and cons. When I left work, my car drove on its own accord to the gym. I was planning on taking nap but inadvertently took a wrong turn. Suddenly there I was. In the locker room. Thus I found myself doing the requisite almost naked body check as I changed. Hating the shape of that leg. Despising the curve of my stomach. Briefly wondering if and when I would ever not have back fat. The usual fuel for self loathing. By the way, I gave up body shaming and negative self talk for Lent. The gym mirror continues to be my biggest and most familiar challenge.  I walk in and mentally inventory all the food I’ve ever eaten, every glass of wine consumed, every time I’ve chosen a nap over running. However, and I suspect that it had much to do with feeling pretty good about the amount of work I had accomplished (even with poor sock options) today, I stopped the usual mental tapes. I gave up the unrealistic and harmful plans to lose all the fat in one day. I saw a fleeting baby muscle in my bicep and felt like I had conquered a small mountain (perhaps just a large hill but who is counting). I gave myself permission to not follow the rigid punishing routine envisioned earlier while sitting safely at my desk. And…I noticed that I could run a little longer. (Every second counts after all.) And, I did that thing where you dangle and pull you legs up to you chest for 4 sets of 10…a new personal record.

My love letter: Dear Rebecca-You are one of the strongest people that I know. You have survived so much and still strive to find the happy ending in every story. You are beautiful in your own way. You are smart and funny, although often mildly sarcastic and slightly caustic. You love bubbles and joy and family. You strive to make the world a more beautiful and lovingly kind place. You have dedicated your life to ensuring that people feel safer. You move through the world with honor and grace. Your cats, dog and children really like you. Exactly as you are. You cry at coffee commercials and pretend to be tough but have a huge heart. I am so proud to know you. I deeply and utterly love you. Love, Me.

Today, yet again…I win. I showed up (albeit slightly cranky with a headache and painful heart) and did it. All of it. Not because I had to but because I am ultimately dedicated to making myself as strong and happy as possible. Today is just one day…but it’s the one day we have.

 

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Tonight I learned 1) life is a growth opportunity, 2) what a “speed bag” is (and it’s definitely not what I thought it was!), 3) when someone asks if you have ever chopped wood, hands you a sledgehammer, and says “hit that tractor tire as hard as you can until I tell you to stop”, immediately claim a stress injury, 4) you actually CAN do one more rep, 5) you will not actually sweat to death, 6) I feel slightly badass when I put on boxing gloves, 7) low hurdles are still hurdles but you can jump over them even when you think you don’t have anything left to give, 8) apparently my preference for Cheetos, Mountain Dew and Twizzlers does not qualify as a”good nutritional choice”, 9) leaving it “all on the mat” can lead to a chaotic drive home, and, 10) that this will not actually kill me.

Last night, in an unexpected turn of events, I got about 4 hours of sleep. Stress dreams led to stress dreamlessness leading to the cats being disturbed enough to repeatedly bite my nose (still not sure of the connection but Tucker really got into it!) leading to some tossing of pillows and pacing in the kitchen…all before 4 am. I did that “I’m not actually sleeping” and “I’m bitter I’m not sleeping” combination thing until about 7am when I remembered that I actually had to go to work…you get the idea.

I considered canceling my training session. I was exhausted. And crabby. I actually had a million and one reasons not to go. But I did…I expected to get away with giving 74% but my trainer had other ideas. We boxed. And by boxed I mean I alternated between hitting a bag and chasing him through the gym where he would suddenly turn at which point my already sleep deprived brain had to decide whether to jab one time or repeatedly with the left or right hand or kick him…I own it that totally just wanted to kick him every time. He handed me a sledgehammer and I hit a tire. So many times. I am now basically a lumberjack. I jumped repeatedly over a hurdle that seemed twenty feet tall. Breathless. Sweaty. Tired. I secretly pondered if I could use “exercise high” as a reason to get away with murdering him. There were ropes. Heavy ropes that you have to beat against the floor. One at a time. Two at a time. Apparently, if you do it right…who am I kidding? I never got it right. I learned what a squat was. And a squat with weights is simply a way for me to fast track to death. At one point, I unexpected sat down. Not because I wanted to sit. No. My legs simply decided that enough was enough. They refused to work.  And then the lunges. OMG. The lunges. And then…I had to to 30 additional minutes of cardio. 

Life is hard. Today was hard. I didn’t have much hope and faith and all the shiny happy things. But today I remembered what it felt like to be proud of myself. I felt my body as powerful. Exhausted but changing. Growing and becoming. For the first time in a long time…I felt alive. And now…even while it hurts to breathe and every muscle in my body is screaming, I feel strong. Today didn’t kill me. And that in and of itself is the win. I have indeed lived to fight another day. 

 

Today I learned the following: 1) I do not run particularly quickly and rarely with intention. 2) I have no idea what “the burn” is but I DO, however, now understand the concept of “shredding a muscle” (I am both oddly proud to have survived said ritual and slightly sick at my stomach at the sheer thought). 3)Working out with a tiny hangover AND a trainer is vastly different than just working out with a tiny hangover and my usual sense of inertia. 4) I actually do have abdominal muscles but their lack of consistent (or actually more accurately ever) use has affected something called my core which has led to lower back pain(?) and, finally, 5) While swearing is perfectly fine, crying is frowned upon in this establishment.

While I was experiencing the unique torture that is a affectionately known as an “ab workout”, the sheer pain of the moment caused me to yell out a quite colorful string of profanities. I blame the leg lifts (not poor home training). My trainer did not bat an eye. In fact, when questioned, he said that he hears those words all the time from his clients. It is apparently some common type of exertion/pain benchmark. I then asked about crying…as big tears were running down my face. He looked extremely uncomfortable and slightly aghast with this turn of events and stated in a loud definitive voice “We don’t do that here. You can’t do that. Crying is…no. You can’t do that.”

As I sit here, safely in my bed after a long bubble bath and with a medicinal glass of wine, I can feel the beginnings of that particular hell that occurs (as I have only recently learned) when you have traveled beyond exhausting a particular muscle series. When it hurts to move said muscles even to the most minute degree. I  am currently unable to roll over in the traditional fashion due to agony radiating from my newly discovered core.I suspect that by tomorrow I will be in traction. And all I want to do is cry.

And I am thinking about the concept of crying. We cry because we hurt. We cry because of frustration. We cry because we are sad. Sometimes I cry at Christmas coffee commercials. You know the ones where the prodigal child returns from some distant place? I don’t cry easily or well. I often feel embarrassed when I have the urge to vent my emotions in that particular way. Crying has always felt like a failure of communication or personal expression for me, although oddly I feel that it is perfectly fine for others and is something that I deeply support and in fact encourage others to do all the time? Anyway…this process is pushing me to my limits. As I shed the layers, I am reminded that we hold past trauma, grief, happiness, really all the things, in our bodies until we let them go. And I wonder what sort of healing journey I have unexpectedly begun. Where will I be when I reach the clearly defined goals that I have set for this process? But perhaps more importantly…who will I be? Will I feel better about expressing painful feelings? Will I be more emotionally available and present? Will I dream of a beautiful loving world again?

I know that the next steps will unfold as they should. I will dutifully and repeatedly pay someone to push me beyond any reasonable limits. I will remember to hydrate and wipe down machines after I am done using them. I will challenge myself to find that nirvana of balance between self care and self actualization.

I will perhaps cry a little.

Distance: about 3 miles (on an elliptical in a very warm gym) Time: Forever. Heart rate: Amazingly high…in the 170 range But: I also lifted weights and boxed!! (OMG! Yes, that happened!)

So…as many of you know…a few years ago, I decided to be a runner. For a variety of both shallow and moderately useful reasons, I flirted with the possibility of becoming an athlete. With real running shoes and gadgets. And a sparkly water bottle. And gels (which are gross, btw) to sustain me through the marathon times. I had this daydream of me stretching gracefully against a tree while an ex from my very distant past happened to jog by (who obviously immediately felt so overwhelmed by my beauty, fitness and athleticism that our dating future was all but once again assured). I suspect that many of us start rigorous activity for often less than ideal reasons. The difference was that I kept with it. At least through the warm months and somewhat into the chilly ones. I have run on snow. In summer air so thick that it needs to be cut with a small knife. In the rain. You get the idea.

And this year, I twisted my ankles. Both of them. In two separate heinous incidents. It hurt to walk. And summer running was out of the question. I couldn’t even wear my beloved high heels…or shoes in general that had any heel of any kind. My life rather abruptly slammed to a halt-complete with unattractively sturdy flats, “no nonsense” loafers and flip flops. The brace barely had time to cool down before I was transferring it to the other foot. Meanwhile, my life exploded in a meteor of stress, grief and chaos thus ultimately leading to me forego the entire concept of exercise. In any form. I instead chose to indulge in fried food. And cat cuddling time on my couch. And a bit more fried food. And a few cocktails for good measure. And creamy delicious sauces with heavy cream and butter. Let’s just name it…I often took the bacon option.

Needless to say…I have since become not my fittest self. I have been relegated to the stretchy and/or layering options in my closet. I totally support that size is just a number. However, for me, I got to a size that was uncomfortable. It often took some fiddling to make my pants fit…even in a larger size. I lost my energy, my ability to breathe freely and my joie de vivre. I began to not leave my house. I felt trapped in a body that was no longer my own. I tried to diet the excess away to no avail. I began to forget what it felt like to love myself. I shunned picture taking and activities that might require shorts.

And, then I felt it. Those twinges of self hatred. I began to hear those familiar messages once again. I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was defective. I was lazy. I wasn’t goal oriented. I was, in fact, just another woman who would never be beautiful. Thus…the cycle began. Self loathing leads to destruction which leads to self loathing which leads to destruction. I was trapped in a hell both of my own making and of an amalgamation of every message that I had ever heard…about who I was supposed to be (thin and successful), what I was supposed to look like (thin and attractive), how much I was supposed to work out to achieve said goals (every waking minute of every day and perhaps even in my sleep if I could swing it), how much I was supposed to weigh (nothing), how I was supposed to present myself (thin and smiling)…and the list goes on.

Then…I sprained one of my already injured ankles again. In an unfortunate incident involving sturdy hiking boots and rocks in the street. My ankle swelled to cankle proportions. I dutifully wore my brace. I rested, iced, compressed AND elevated. To no avail. I then realized that I had to do something. If only to make my ankles stronger. And trail running, my now unexpectedly constant ‘go to’ exercise, was officially out of the question. For perhaps even quite a while.

So…I joined a gym. A real one. (There was an unexpected groupon-I took it as a sign!) With a wall of free weights. And boxers (the actual ones who hit other people in the ring). And weightlifters (who can bench press small cars). And sturdy equipment. I had wanted to join a flashy place. With the beautiful people who make it all seem so effortless…until I realized that I had lost any semblance of the positive self esteem about my body that I once had thus reinforcing that “I can’t go to the gym until I’ve lost some weight” dynamic. And that I didn’t actually have a clue about what I needed to do to regain myself. And…I was scared. Plain old fashioned scared. It felt like I was completely starting over.

And those voices were right there. Mocking my every step. “You will look like a fool and you are probably dumb too”. “You don’t know what you are doing.” “This is a bad idea. Do you actually think you can do this?” From the that one girlfriend who once poked my back fat to that person who thought it was so funny to touch my stomach and make Pillsbury Dough Boy sounds. The ones who used my extra stomach rolls and waning sense of self love for their entertainment. The ones who made me believe that I wasn’t ok and that the negative feedback is somehow more relevant, useful and powerful than the positive feedback from those who actually love me exactly as I am. The ones who will never know that telling me to “find something that makes you look a little thinner” and “maybe swimsuits aren’t your thing” and asking me “are you sure you want to wear stripes?” completely forged my warped sense of body value.

You are the team that accompanied me to the gym. You are the team that made me scared to talk to anyone. You are that team what wanted me to fail. Well…I’m not here for your entertainment. You don’t own me. You don’t define me anymore. I was terrified. But…the gym owner was incredibly nice and listened when I told him how scared I was, how much weight I wanted to lose, that I didn’t have a clue how to actualize my dreams. He gave me a fist bump and said that everything I wanted was completely doable. Inside, I felt hope begin to smile.

I met my trainer (OMG! I have a trainer) and I talked about wanting to learn how to box (ala visions of Million Dollar Baby without the paralysis and eventual death). He is the size of a smallish mountain of muscle, an ex-Marine, an ex-cage fighter (I strongly suspect that if I knew what that was, I would be promptly and utterly horrified), and revealed, after learning about my job, his deep concern about violence against women. He believes (completely without structured social analysis and deep political discussion) that all women should feel powerful in their bodies, that they should have the opportunity to build emotional as well as physical strength…that girls like me have the right to be whoever we want to be.

Therefore…I am learning to box. I am learning that my existence is no longer entertainment for those hideous voices from my past that once consumed me and my sense of self. I am learning to protect my face as I punch and jab. I am learning that I apparently have a ridiculously strong back. I am once again remembering that I am powerful. That I will not be broken. That I can evolve and grow. That muscles are beautiful. I am learning that I can still dream…and become. I am learning that as much as I talk esoterically about starting over, I actually get to try it again for myself. I am learning that I like to hit things (in a completely non-violent and consensual way of course). I am learning that while “drenched in sweat” is probably not my best look, it is something I enjoy. I am finding my strength. I am beginning to see possibilities.

Heart rate: pretty freaking pounding; time: about 11 minute miles; distance: 3 miles and change

This is the first run since I was a bit younger and prior to my apparent plethora of poor unhealthy life choices. As best I can recall, it was perhaps a year ago? Apparently, during the interim, my body has fallen to pieces. Creaking joints and extra jiggles…I am reminded that I have indeed neglected certain aspects of my lived experiences…perhaps one might argue everything below the neck, especially as it relates to exercise?

So…today, I lost my car keys for a crucial 15 minutes. It was one of those working Sundays with multiple events scheduled within minutes of each other. The temporary loss of car keys resulted in an unexpected spike in stress, the frantic searching of my apartment (including the very hilarious tossing of clothing, braving the “under the couch” situation, minor swearing), multiple deeply heartfelt pleas hurled to the universe for the production of the keys post haste, and, a slight crying jag about how currently ill-prepared I am to take deal with additional life stress. Fortunately, unlike the last time I lost my keys for an entire day and found them at dinner time in the oven, I eventually found them under the bed. How they got there is still one of life’s unanswered mysteries. I had literally been home for less than 8 minutes. And I had no recollection of entering the bedroom, much less with keys in hand. However, I simply take it as a sign from a caring universe that perhaps I needed a break. So, I thought to myself…whatever will I do with a beautiful Sunday afternoon? And the obvious response was that I would immediately torture myself with the one thing that I struggle with…running. 

The sun gently blinking through the trees on a proper running path by the river, the sounds of birds singing their spring lullabies, a chipmunk, a soft wind urging me forward (until of course the Lake Street bridge when it became gale force and threatened to sweep me over the railing and into the Mississippi River.) I was aware of none of this. My ragged heaving breath, the slight taste of vomit in my mouth, the unwelcome sensation of sweat in areas that should not sweat, the audible screaming of my muscles threatening to go on strike (and note to self-screaming thighs are not sexy)…I think I may have even developed a noticeable odor associated with overexertion. 

I dreamed of teleportation. Or paramedics. Or even the kindness of strangers to drive me back to my starting spot. Hitchhiking seemed like a viable option. However, I realized that the only way that I would get home was to place one foot in front of the other. One step at a time.

And I remembered why I ran. To get it all out. To remind myself how to dream. To be in the moment. To love my life no matter how difficult it has recently been. To challenge myself to be better than I am currently feeling. In between sending death glares to the runners in all their sporty finery (i.e. matched sports bra and short combinations with belts housing water and energy gels and timers)  and perfectly toned calves and dodging the bicyclists zipping along in team gear at 25 miles per hour, I took it one step at a time. One step. To the next. Hugging the side of the path, I tried to relive that one moment of runner’s high that I had experienced for approximately 30 seconds three years ago. It didn’t happen. After cataloguing all of my recent failures and stresses, I realized that I still had two miles to go. And I felt secretly glad that obviously my recent Lent commitment to give up negative self-talk worked after all.

So, my mind turned to shoes. And friends. And water pollution. And the economy. And love. And who I would thank if I won an Academy Award. And pizza. And back to all of the recent events that will forever shape how I live my world. Who am I? What do I want? Where do I see myself in five years (and the obvious answer is not running a marathon and finishing with 6 minute miles)? What moves me? What saves me? What comforts me? What do I need to move forward as a happy healthy society member? My father passed away last week. And my heart hurts in unfathomable ways. As a result, I have found myself asking questions generally reserved for 22 year olds struggling to discover how they will impact the world or how they will simply find purpose. 

I find myself keeping the world at arm’s length. Away. However, my mind has been spinning with questions, old hurts, new stresses, sadness, and an undeniable and unexpected drive to feel again. I realized that I have been out of my body for far too long. I have willingly neglected to build my own castle while helping to build the dreams of others. I have forgotten what it means to breathe. To be. For myself.

So, when the blaring sirens of a stray ambulance and then of a MFD fire chief caught my attention by turning off River Road and into a remote area on the river’s edge, I veered and took the pass less traveled. I could tell they too were searching for something. Literally on the river. I felt the spongy earth and ran under the trees on a narrow path designed to test the skills of even the most hearty trail runner. I happened upon a Park Police officer who explained that a kayaker had disappeared on the river. They were conducting a shore search but didn’t have much hope.

I said a quick prayer and started crying. Big copious tears that trailed down my cheeks and dripped into my sports bra. Suddenly, the realities had set in. The realization that life is indeed precious and short. That instead of this merely being another sentiment on a hallmark card designed to provide a modicum of encouragement during challenging times, I was faced with the inescapable reality that unless I lived today as today was truly designed to be enjoyed and understood, I would be once again waiting for some undetermined point from which to start my life. One step in in front of the other. The tears quickly dried as I begin to feel.

I realized while trying to pick my way through and navigate a gigantic unexpected culvert situation, that today I ran for love. Of self. To honor the love I feel in my life every day. To honor the blessings that I experience without ever having to ask. I ran to feel strong again. I ran to feel me again. To honor the truth that life is neither a thing that we can take for granted nor an automatic privilege that we get to use as we wait for another day. I remembered that I had dreams. And that it was up to me to put foundations under those dreams. And that I am indeed strong enough to make that happen.

And, while I still hate all things running related, perhaps today was simply a reminder that we will all get through it…one step at a time. One dream at a time. And…if we don’t take that first step, where will we be?

Distance: about 3 miles…give or take? Time: thirty minutes…give or take? heart rate: sluglike

As I was running today, I was thinking about the challenges of change. I’m not particularly adept at it. In fact, I have folded my towels the same way for almost 20 years. I’m oddly neurotic about mindless things that bear little if any real impact on my life. I use the same kind of toothbrush that I used in college because…well, I’m not sure. I have a penchant for spreadable pastes and pates but none with dates or rinds in them. I’m mildly disappointed by most cookies and thoroughly disappointed with Oreos every single time. I prefer pie to the exclusion of most other desserts. I will drink cheap beer but require expensive tequilla. I love to cook but hate to eat what I make. I’m out of the habit of being romantic even though I adore romance. I’ve always wanted to shave my head and pierce my face but have never done so. I abhor most vegetables even though I know how good they are for me. Which brings me to the question of why I do the things that I do. What has shaped me? What have I given up? Who is telling my story?

“You are a really great person but…” and somehow after the “but” always comes a series of marginally negative things said in that benign tone meant to imply a folksy sense that everything would be great if  I weren’t actually me, we’re all in this together…and “you kind of suck but you’re a really good person…just not the person for me”. Characteristics that one can usually do little if anything about…somehow too often a character judgment based on missed expectations, lost desires and the realization that whatever construction that had been created was indeed flawed. In my life I have at times stayed too long, left too early, lost hope and faded away, dreamed and failed, learned and tried.

What kind of chances do we need to take in order to fully live? Yesterday, running in scorching heat, I found myself wondering what it would take for me to be “that girl”. You know the one… She is beautiful and fun, witty and bright. Flawless in the morning. Slim and sporty, always up for an adventure. The one who loves and is loved. It was hot and my fat was extra jiggly, swollen from the effort and possibly dehydration with my body hoarding its last precious drops of water. (I don’t think that I am a good candidate for Survivor!) Today was only marginally better. Cooler yes, less jiggly no. And I began the usual cataloging of faults: I’m too heavy, my hair is too short, my butt is too jiggly, I’m not pretty, I have a weak chin, I get too crabby, I forget anniversaries and birthdays, I have good intentions but bad outcomes…you know the list that we all have that can go on and on. I tried to stop but the pain was too delicious.  “See?”, I said to myself, “You can’t even run a mile all at one time. You are a loser.” I would love to say that I ignored the messages. That I ran forth with pride and vigor. But the reality is that once again I listened. I felt myself slipping away. I didn’t need you to tell me anything negative. I already have that perfect script. You just confirmed it for me. And then, I forced myself to pause. To stop the auto-rewind button. And in a sweaty little heap, I startled passersby by just sitting for a second…on the path. I realized that once again, I was letting someone else tell my story. The old me. The new you. The ubiquitous they. Anyone and everyone…except me. And it’s not my truth. It turns out that it hasn’t been my truth for a long time.

How can  I bring the whole of me when someone else is defining my value? Picking and choosing like the endless search spotless vegetables at the farmer’s market the things that they believe make me me. I asked someone recently about my good qualities…not in an effort to scrounge for compliments but because I was truly curious. I was startled by what she came up with. The things that I value most about myself were either deep into the list or simply weren’t there…and certainly not at the top. Did this make her wrong? No. It was simply disconcerting that someone so close to me didn’t see what I had put so much effort into being…and made me stop to think once again about the stories we tell ourselves, the person we show to the world and how sometimes disparate those two truths can be.

What kind of risky games do we play to figure out what we want or need? To what lengths are we willing to go to prove that we are right? And for how long can we ignore the cost? It’s all too raw still, the telephone calls and decisions made in haste based on hurt and reaction. Unwilling to see the other side, clutching to my “truth” with all the strength in my little hands because to be wrong on this field was unimaginable. Mired in frustration that you couldn’t see me beyond you. And in the end, I am once again running on the path by myself. Was my need to be right worth it? Was I even right? All I can say is that I made the best choices in the moment that I could. Beautifully imperfect, illogical and yet hopeful.

I’m just beginning to learn to adjust to changes. My learning curve is steep, my determination at times waning. Earlier this year, I promised myself that I would lean into fear, embrace the possibilities, simply become what I was meant to be, which all sounded entirely reasonable as I was talking to myself from the safety of my apartment tipsy on champagne watching the ball drop in a different state. In reality, I actually have risked this year. In ways that I never thought I could. I found faith in the world around me, challenged myself to let people into my life in ways that I thought were never possible again. I dreamed. I planned. I leaped.

And I realized that, once again, I am braver than I let myself believe I am. And, I also realized that I don’t have the answers. I may never have the answers. But I do have a path. Sometimes it’s so twisted and curvy that I get sick to my stomach but it is a path nonetheless. And it’s my path.  I do have a dream. I do have love or at least the capacity for love. Trying may not bring the outcome that I wanted but it did bring me strength and a reminder that the world is in fact a beautiful place filled with love and light. I needed to give up pre-determined outcomes anyway.

And I have running. What I need now is simply a kiss to build a dream on…and maybe a screwdriver and some faith to construct the dream. And a theme song. And a cape. And the willingness to try again.

Time: As long as I could stand it…about 45 minutes; Distance: a fairly long way…about four miles?

So…it’s been a big week. I don’t even know where to start. I suspect that it wasn’t my best showing. Friends with misconceptions firmly committed to believing the worst. Random acts of violence that tear at the soul. Tears. Laughter. Friends. Changing. Love. Challenges to faith systems. Shaking the core foundations of who I think I am.

Today I ran. For the first time in a long time. I didn’t run to prove my worth. I ran to save my soul. I didn’t run for times and checking off the split laps on my super awesome triathlon watch that I suspect left to its own devices would perhaps give birth for me. I didn’t run for a personal best…or even a personal good. I ran to claim. To be. To find a way to feel safe again. To feel again what once I took for granted as a personal normal.

I found myself hugging the edge of the path too close to the tree branches. Looking around searching for danger. Measuring the distance between me and the other humans on the path. Slowing up if I got too close. Wondering if they were going to do something heinous. Judging my safety based on their good intentions. Eyes on the ground so I wouldn’t have to make eye contact. Scared of the trees and the open spaces. Hiding on the back trail nervously glancing over my shoulder. Waiting to hear footsteps…I gave myself permission to not feel weird about running backwards when I needed to so that I could see path I’d already run. To remind myself how far I’d come.  To make sure that strangers weren’t lurking. To satisfy this new need for 360 degree vision.

I missed the feel of the path under my feet. I missed the smell of sweat and effort. I missed the joy of trying. I missed the feeling of every muscle working in unison. I struggled to remain present…plunging into a world that I am very familiar with and am perhaps meeting for the first time. The running path. My joy. My anethema. The place I have gone when I felt broken. The site of some of my greatest moments in the depths of my darker days.

I am scared of people. I am scared to be alone. A random act of violence has shaken me. Me? The warrior? The one who never hugs or cries? The one who survives every time? I’m trying to stay with the reality of the healing process. I’m trying not to use the old skills…I am trying to be.

I have amazing sparkling people in my life who have loved me and supported me and held me deep into the night as I shake and cry. I have found that rare form of gratitude that often gets lost in the daily being. I am so blessed. And am trying to find my way back…to days without random tears and shaking hands. To days where the very thought of you does not bring me to my knees. To being able to go to the grocery store again.

You won’t win. Your random act of violence has required me to reinvest in faith, in commitment, in my innate joy. You have made me no longer take for granted the things that I thought were behind me. But you will not win. I will not let you destroy me. I will create safer spaces. I will let myself feel the fear and grow from it. I will once again be able to run without searching for danger. I am not alone. I have an amazing group of people that I love deeply and who love me just as much in my life. I am deeply grateful that we are on the trip together.

And you will not defeat any of us.