It Changed Me

26.2 miles. Sunshine. Music. Runners. Posters. American Flags. Helicopters. Marines. Family. Strangers. Cheers. Clapping. So much inspiration.

It. Changed. Me.

For the first time in my life, I was PRESENT for it all. Immersed in all of the experience. The energy melted into my being. Like being transported to another place, another capacity of time, I was completely in it. And it felt amazing. My legs held me strong, propelling me forward. My lungs happily exchanging air. My breath so rhythmic, it was calming. “I’m doing it,” I smiled, high-fiving my brother at mile 18.

This was beyond a runner’s high. This was a transformation.

The disabled war veterans competing, the hundreds of marines lining the fuel stations, the race course and greeting all at the finish line with a medal was humbling and inspirational. Gratitude doesn’t quite capture what I feel for all servicemen and servicewomen.

This race was a test for me. A test of my mental capacity and ability to push through. I needed to do this. I needed to get to the other side. And the relative ease in which I accomplished this feat, was exhilarating. More than a race, it was a marker for me of where I am beyond any physical measure.

Running and completing a marathon requires dedication, commitment, perseverance, flexibility, desire. Running in the Marine Corps Marathon requires all of it…but then humbles you in a way that is uplifting and motivational.

Well, I think I just might be a runner!

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Some days

Some days I just want to cry

and some days, I just do

Some days I roll all the windows down in the car and sing loudly to the music playing on the radio

and some days, I hide behind my sunglasses and retreat into my head

Some days I run with strength and energy and confidence

and some days, I feel like my legs are made of stone

Some days I feel so clear, so ready for the future

and some days, I am so scared and confused

Some days I look out the window and smile

and some days, I wipe the tears feeling overwhelmed

Some days I feel so accomplished at work

and some days, I feel like my brain is useless

Some days I hold my breath waiting for something good

and some days, I hold my breath fearing something bad

Some days I can’t help but feel happy

and some days, I am filled with anger

Some days I long for what was

and some days, I long for what will be

Some days, I am reminded of all that is positive

and some days, I am faced with only negative

It will all balance, it will all be right, it will all be okay

Someday

Marathon Training

It’s almost here. My second marathon. Honestly, never thought I’d be here. Actually, never thought I’d be at the first marathon. Which by the way, I did approach mostly with confidence..but left a bit broken and defeated, crossing the finish line much later than anticipated. However, with reflection, realized in hindsight what an incredible day it had been. So this year….it’s about “setting the record straight.”

And then came my 20 mile run last Saturday. Ugh. I was perfect, in the groove until about mile 16. The humidity was high, the temperature and dew point combined was not ideal. I had fuel, water, change of socks, support (D!). But I faded. And it brought back a bit of fear and anxiety – I don’t want to feel this again the day of the race as I reach these impending miles. I will have a chance to run the 20 miles again and have some tweaks to my nutrition that I intend on making. However, it’s my mindset, my Self that I know I need to tweak just as much if not more. And this is the real challenge. Ironically, it’s the long runs I have come to really enjoy. I have a comfortable pace, my breathing is so rhythmic, my feet supported by what feels like clouds (I LOVE my Brooks!), and I’m in my mind for a longer time. Just me. The shorter runs have become a bit more intimidating as I feel I need to push a bit harder, my breathing is more pressed, my mind a bit scattered. I suppose I feel less in control?

And maybe that’s a metaphor for my life right now. As I feel overwhelmed, pushed, compressed in a way, definitely scattered and certainly on many levels alone, I move quickly but not in a way that benefits my mind..or my body. When I take pause, literal deep breaths, read, practice yoga..when I am moving at a comfortable, yet conscious pace, I am more at peace.

What is it that makes you more at peace? Gives you peace? Fosters peace inside of you?

Gratitude

It’s been awhile, I know. While  much to say, I just couldn’t find the time to sit and write. But I have been processing…a lot. After four years of contemplating meeting with a counselor, I finally made the decision to talk with one. And she is perfect. Funny, she did ask me “So why are you here? You seem to have it all together?” My answer “Guilt. I don’t want to feel guilty anymore.”

With my meeting Ellen (that is my new counselor’s name), my runs, my now daily sun salutation practice, my now daily meditation practice, and my overall being a bit more present, I have found a new place inside of me. However small, it’s new. And one strong realization of this place, is that as much as I feel more present, and I am able to think clearer, I am still very aware of my avoidance of feeling. It’s a blocking actually. Surely, it’s a defense mechanism. It’s an unhappy place and reminiscent of my past. And I so don’t want to go back to that feeling.

Which brings me to the purpose of my post today…gratitude. In the words of my yoga teacher “Find something to be grateful for, we are all fortunate people,” I am doing just that. Every time she speaks these words, my mind immediately thinks of my two boys and my lips curve into a smile. Gratitude does not have to come from something momentous. Find it in the smallest of spaces – like a cup of hot chocolate or a vase of fresh wildflowers or a warm fuzzy blanket. So much surrounds us, so many itty-bitty miracles. The only thing preventing us from seeing them is ourselves.

So in no particular order, here are 10 tiny, itty-bitty parts of life that hold space in my tote bag of gratitude…..

My adirondack chairs that welcome pause…my handmade tea cup molded with my manager’s hands and so thoughtfully given to me…my Runner’s Magazine for all it’s inspirational stories and words of motivation…my camera to capture so many amazing moments that I can reflect upon…my new sneakers because they make me feel like I am running on clouds…my barn door because other than being exactly what I had wanted design wise, it was built just for me…my thieves oil for starting my mornings with a calming smell…mason jars for their versatility and simple beauty…the candle in the window I plug in every night as a small gesture for our soldiers…my hair elastic for just simply pulling my hair back.

What are you grateful for?

Epiphany

Just got back from a run. No longer running with headphones listening to music, I listen to the sound of my breath, my sneakers hitting the ground, and the vibrations of my thoughts. Suddenly during this run, it hit me. My ex-husband is a version of my mother. Their personalities are plagued with anger and manipulation. I suppose there was no irony in the fact that during the time of my separation I was also creating distance with my mom.  The need to free myself of this world I had lived in my whole life was great. It all makes sense. It makes sense that I do not want my sons’ worlds to be contaminated with these harsh emotions. Although it is a reality, a space needed to be created to allow for a healthier life. For all. I had been continuing a life when I got married that I had lived as a child. And as a result, providing that life to my children. No longer. They deserve better. And I think I do too.

It’s all coming together. Piece by piece.

Looking Back

It’s been a few weeks. My mind has gone astray. Yet so much to write, so much to say. What’s become apparent to me is how much perspective I gain when looking back. In the moment I’m stifled, but later I am free. And in this time of feeling free, I am able to relish in the memory. To learn what I need to learn. To strengthen my soul, my being. To realize my mistakes and clear my judgment.

I crossed the finish line of the Marine Core Marathon. 26.2 miles. (Actually, according to my brother’s Garmin, it was more like 26.7 miles!). Confident going into the race, albeit nervous, I started out well. Temperatures reaching 80 degrees, humidity making all runners that much more sticky and wet, I ran well. Until mile 18 or 19. Starting to fade, my strength, my knees and back aching, I started to walk. With small jogging intervals in-between and self-talk that included more of “I can’t believe this. I don’t think I can do it” than it should have, I none-the-less placed one foot in front of the other. Scenarios of having to tell family and friends I did not finish, replayed in my mind. My stomach felt sick. Knowing I needed nutrition, I tried to replenish but my body refused. The noise of people cheering along the populated streets, the music, all of it felt like sensory overload. I worried about the fine line I was walking between determination and requiring a medic. Fully aware anxiety can blur that line. My face spoke of defeat. Reaching the top of the last hill, short but steep, I started to jog. Crossing the finish line greeted by many Marines all smiles shaking the hands of those that managed to get to the “other” side, I continued with a feeling of sadness. I slowly and not proudly walked towards a Marine who placed the medal over my head. Smiling so slightly, he offered more of a laugh back at me. He, I am sure, has ran a true race of endurance. Protecting our country. And he most probably has witnessed more than I could ever imagine. Yet, he and all of his fellow Marines cheered us on this day, supporting us, encouraging us, pushing us. And looking back, I still understand how I felt. I know I didn’t reach my goal. I know why I felt defeated. But I now know, it was an amazing day full of lessons and gifts and love.

Over the past four years, I can look back and see more clearly what was happening. In the moment, it was blurry. Looking back, it is clear. There are always moments of hope, goodness, happiness. Sometimes it takes looking back in order to be able to appreciate and relish in them.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Relish

What Are you Running From?

A marathon. 26.2 miles of running. Endurance, perseverance, mental toughness. In less than four weeks, I will complete (I hope!) my first marathon at the MCM in D.C. Please someone tell me what I was thinking when I agreed to do this? Wasn’t a year of divorce and being diagnosed with SIBO enough? Aah, but that is not my style. Never has been. I tend to push myself to limits. Why? I don’t want fear to prevent me from moving forward. Pushing myself through thick mud allows me to see and experience the other side.

Yes, my yoga teacher has stopped me several times now asking “So did you figure out what you are running from yet?” But I’d like to think I am running towards something. “Ha,” she said, “keep telling yourself that….” While running the other day, the question popped into my head. From the divorce. That is what I am running from. The divorce. But….I think that is too much the obvious. Although I think it’s a piece of the pie, it’s not the whole pie. Anger, sadness to the point of tears, and even elatedness surface during running. So what am I running from? Maybe it’s all those feelings and where they stem from? Maybe it’s from my old self? Maybe it is simply from the divorce? Memories? Hurt? Disappointment? Maybe it is from fear? Could it be that this time it is fear that is holding me back, holding me in? Interesting right? I push myself throughout my life to basically give the middle finger to fear, yet, right now I may be running away from it?

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– A.A. Milne