Because I run. . .

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(Language warning.)

Because I run. . .

As I was slogging through my morning run today in this ridiculously toasty weather, I found myself lamenting about my current condition. I was hot, thirsty, my legs were feeling rather log-like, and I was kind of whiny. I was only a little over a mile in when I began thinking. . .

“Running is so hard.”

“This is so damn hard.”

“My legs felt worse today than a week ago when I was out for hours on an extremely tough trail.”

“NO WONDER people always talk about how they want to run, or used to run, or have tried to run–but it’s just TOO HARD, so they don’t.“

Dang, I get it. I get what they are saying. Running is hard. So hard sometimes. Running is one of the hardest things that I have done in my life, especially when I was taking those first steps years ago or on the days like today, when, for a million reasons or none, the run is damn hard.

Knowing I just had a couple of miles to go, I vowed to suck it up and get over myself. I remembered that I would be done soon, and I’d be relaxing on my porch. “Yeah, running is hard,” I thought, “but that hardness is temporary.”

T-E-M-P-O-R-A-R-Y.

As I kept running and working to get a better perspective about my current temporary condition, the words of a dear friend popped into my head. She once said, “Running is easy, it’s life that is hard.” (This is coming from a woman eats 20-mile training runs for breakfast, mind you.) For the rest of my run, I thought about those words. My mindset shifted immediately. She was so right. Running is easy. Life is hard. So fucking hard sometimes.

Job loss, cancer, mental illness, chronic pain, chronic illness, poverty, hunger, racism, sexism, sexual violence, divorce, homelessness, domestic violence, trauma, miscarriage, child abuse, emotional abuse, aging, addiction, separation, depression, anxiety, recovery, loss, death, grief, and all of the other hard things that life brings. That shit is hard. SO. FUCKING. HARD.

Running. . . yeah, that’s the easy stuff.

Running is what has created space in me to be able to face the hard things. I know in my heart that if I hadn’t become a runner when I did, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I’m pretty sure I’d be curled up in a corner, a sobbing, gooey mess most days. But, I’m not–because, I run.

I can be brave. I can face life’s challenges, even when I don’t want to–because I run.

I can grow from my struggles and be a better human. I can heal from the hard shit–because I run.

Because I run. . .

Who are you? What can you do. . . because you run?

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Illness and surrender

January 14, 2018

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Day bazillion of a wicked painful sinus infection that has left me very puffy and exhausted. I haven’t ran in a week and I’m kind of going crazy but trying really hard to be patient with the healing process.

Yesterday I surrendered to the Minute Clinic and finally got a healthy dose of antibiotics. It had been a ridiculously long time coming. If I’m being honest, I have been feeling rundown for the last several months, it just happened to be that December 12, 2017, was the day my body said, “I give up. I’m taking you hostage until you get your shit together.” Unfortunately, it has taken me until now to get it together. Well, mostly get it together.

It all started with a gastrointestinal bug that took eight days (as opposed to my usual two days) to “recover” from. After the bug, I had a window of a few days where things were looking up. Then, the frigidness set in on the holiday weekend. My nose got stuffy, my throat got raw, and my overall rundownedness flared again. I chalked it up to the weather, crappy holiday eating, and a long pre-Christmas week at school. But alas, I was wrong. A sinus cold soon set in and I spent the last days of 2017 sucking on cough drops like they were candy, with a box of kleenex attached to my hip to catch all the drips. By the new year, I thought I was over the hump. I was so crazy wrong, AGAIN.

Nine days ago, the sinus cold morphed into a full-blown, wickedly painful infection. I thought it would subside in a couple of days so I loaded up on OTC painkillers and toughed out the days. Instead, it got worse. Way worse. Until I just needed it to not be worse anymore. So, I surrendered. And I went to the clinic, something I rarely do. (Besides, my very wise friend gently suggested that it was probably time for antibiotics. And she is a nurse so I figured I better listen.)

Today, I impatiently wait for the antibiotics to begin working their magic. I’m staying in bed all day and doing a whole lot of soul-searching. The pain is annoyingly present but I’ve cut back on the OTC drugs, so I’m pretty sure I’m getting better, even though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. The doctor said in 2-3 days I should be 50% better.  I can’t freaking wait, although right now, I’m having a hard time believing what she said will come true.

Through it all, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons of the last month. While I am extremely grateful to be a healthy person most of the time and while I know that my current state is temporary, I can no longer dismiss being ill for a month as no big deal. I do that a lot, try to pass things off as not important because what I have going on isn’t a big deal in the big picture of life, and it isn’t. Until it is. And I need to stop doing that. One month of being ill is something that shouldn’t be dismissed. I know that now. At least I’m working on believing it.

Physical pain shuts me down mentally so I’ve been in my own little bubble for the last week, saving every ounce of mental and physical energy for the most urgent of things. I’m kind of exhausted from being exhausted BUT from this moment on, right now, I’m vowing to listen to my body when it begins to whisper to me, instead of waiting until it is desperately screaming at me to pay attention. Self-care should always, always, always be our first priority and I know that. But so often, it isn’t. And we have a billion excuses as to why taking care of ourselves shouldn’t be a priority. And the majority of the time all the reasons are bullshit. 

So, while I’m healing, I’ll be refocusing and I will be working on making my health-mind, body, and spirit–a priority. ONCE AND FOR ALL. No more half-hearted attempts or making up excuses. For starters, I’m going to try very hard to manage unhealthy stress (which involves not taking on things that are not mine to take on), to clean up my eating, and to make rest a priority.  I am not exactly sure how I am going to wholeheartedly accomplish this yet, but I’m going to be working on it. Very fucking relentlessly. (Incidentally, this will likely entail a mental unraveling of sorts so stay tuned for more on this matter. Insert evil laugh here. Muhahahaha.)

How about you? Has every viral illness of this weird winter knocked you down? If so, why do you think that is? What are your best wellness tips? What are your best excuses?What do you do for self-care? (Sorry, bubble baths, wine, retail therapy and all of the other fluffy things don’t count.) What changes do you need to make in your life to move forward in a way that is more healthy for your mind, body, and spirit? What whispers should you be listening to? What is stopping you?

Four simple truths about gratitude

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I’m resisting the urge to write volumes on the subject.

Because I could.

It’s that powerful.

It’s that game-changing.

It’s that essential. . .

To all that’s good in life.

But, I promise to keep it short and sweet.

Because the truths speak for themselves. . .

Four simple truths about gratitude

  1. Gratitude is a choice. Living life with a grateful heart doesn’t always just happen–especially when life sucks. You may have to choose it-over and over and over again–even if it hurts, even if it doesn’t make sense. Because eventually, it will make sense. It will become part of your DNA. You’ll wonder how you could breathe without it.
  2. Gratitude is self-pity’s kryptonite. Try feeling sorry for yourself and being truly grateful at the same time. It simply cannot be done. I know this because I’ve tried. More than once. And I’ve failed. Every. Single. Time.
  3. A joyous life is absolutely impossible without gratitude. So is a peaceful one, or a content one, or a loving one, or a courageous one, or an abundant one. . . And you get the picture.
  4. Practicing gratitude will save your life. I know this because it’s saved mine.

So what is stopping you,

Despite where your life may be at this moment,

From living your best life?

The one that includes you with a grateful heart. . . and a joyous soul.

As somebody once said, “There is always, always, always something to be grateful for.”

And it’s true.

One thousand million percent true.

There IS always a reason to be grateful.

Besides, like I said. . .

Gratitude will save your life.

Now go ahead. . .

You go be grateful!

What are you waiting for?

Staying present when life gets crazy

Hello Blog, it has been a while. . .

Not the first time I’ve written those words on these pages for the world to see and probably won’t be the last. Luckily I don’t blog for a living. Whew!

My hiatus from the blogosphere started unintentionally, of course. Then one day, I realized that it had been a while since I had written. By then I had so many things on my mind to write that I didn’t know where to begin.

So, I didn’t.

Then, the pile in my mind of things to write got bigger and bigger.

And I became a little lot overwhelmed.

So, I stopped. . .

And I wondered why I was struggling to create space in my life for something that I love to do?

Then, I realized. . .

Sometimes life comes at us so fast that we barely have time to breathe. It’s in those crazy times that we need to just hang on and stay present so we don’t miss a thing.

So, I did. . .

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And a funny thing happened when I simply stayed present–in the midst of this crazy, amazing, beautiful, chaotic time–space had been created for awakening, change, and growth in my life. The uncomfortableness I wrote about a couple of months ago? Yeah, well, it settled in, created some angst, then finally allowed me to follow my heart and to make some tough changes. Even though some things have been messy, I have had faith all along that I am heading in the right direction. After all, God has yet to lead me astray.

Staying present throughout the insanity of the last few months has also allowed me to fully embrace the life I have before me and the person I have become. Life is SO completely different than I could have ever imagined it could be. As much as I have tried to compartmentalize my life, especially when it comes to writing about it, I can’t. Life for me isn’t about family, or friends, or faith, or grief, or joy, or loss, or running, or serving, or weight loss, or healing, or even about orphans in Uganda. My life is about ALL of those beautiful things wrapped into one. Even though there are parts of my life I would have never chosen, I couldn’t be more grateful for the beauty that has risen from the ashes. I have come to fully understand that life is truly what we choose to make it. We can’t change what happened a second ago, let alone yesterday, and we surely cannot, with any sort of certainty, know what the future has in store for us. We only have now. So, take a deep breath, stay present, and hang on for the glorious ride. You won’t want to miss one crazy, amazing, beautiful, messy, awesome moment of this incredible life.

 

 

Uganda 2014: The end is just the beginning

“Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort,
and letting it be there until some light returns.” ~Anne Lamott
 
Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda.

When I originally started writing this I was sitting on the balcony of my lodge room, overlooking the Nile River in Uganda. My view was beautiful, the warm air comforting, and the sounds coming from the African forest were soothing to my soul. I was preparing to spend my last day in this incredible place and although my heart was heavy at the thought of leaving, I was also very much at peace. This trip had been so full of unexpected blessings and was far more than any trip I could have ever imagined. For 10 days, I had been surrounded by amazing courage, whole-hearted joy, peace, healing, beauty, and LOVE. My heart had been opened and my soul expanded. I had been reminded that even though no one on this planet is immune from heartache, HIS love never fails us. It will always carry us through the worst of times if we choose to let it.

At the dedication of the Michelle and Julia Hoffman Memorial Children's Home.
At the dedication of the Michelle and Julia Hoffman Memorial Children’s Home.

Fast forward a day. . .

As I decided to continue writing, my surroundings were far less than the bliss I had enjoyed at the start.  I was just one hour away from United States soil and s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g to make gracious choices. I had been on a jam-packed flight from Amsterdam for the past eight hours with some loud, annoying, and rather rude people who thankfully decided to ease up on their alcohol consumption. (As my friend Jaynee would say, “They were seriously harshing my mellow.”) I had not been out of my seat for several hours, showered for nearly two days, and I was d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e-l-y in need of a run. I am pretty sure my a@@ had grown two sizes and my ankles had swollen to the size of elephant legs from the multitudes of hours I had spent not moving. I had only had about 10 minutes of crappy time on the internet in the previous four days. I was crawling in my skin at that point and all I wanted to do was talk to my kids and see the hub. That peace, love, and joy I had experienced less than 24 hours ago had completely left the building.

The tulips were in full bloom in Amsterdam. A bright spot on the otherwise LONG flight home.
The tulips were in full bloom in Amsterdam. A bright spot on the otherwise LONG flight home.

And now, three weeks later. . .

I’ve been back to this page several times since my return from Uganda, never quite finding the words I thought I needed to create some sort of crazy-amazing post that would inspire everyone reading  to drop what they were doing and hop the first plane to Uganda to work with orphans. (When I realized that probably wasn’t going to happen, I decided just to finish,  and to be okay with however the words tumbled out.) It already seems like a lifetime ago since we left and although there isn’t hardly an hour that goes by that I don’t think of the orphanage or the trip, I haven’t chosen to slow down enough to let my mind “go there” yet. Ya’ll know what I mean? And while I have yet to begin to comprehend and process everything that I have seen and experienced, that’s not the whole story. The root of the problem– really– is this. . . I know that the longer I put off reflecting and writing about my journey, the longer I have to continue in my COMFORTABLE, tidy little world. 

Which brings me back to one month and three days ago. . .

As I was attempting to relax in my nightly bubble bath a few days before I left, I suddenly had the INTENSE feeling that when I returned from Uganda this time around, my life was about to get really UNCOMFORTABLE. Not  in the physical way (like I was on the plane), but uncomfortable in the emotional and spiritual way, (which, for me, can be somewhat angst producing.)  I had no clue what was going to be such a game-changer, I just knew it had something to do with knowing better and doing better.

“When you know better you do better.”

 ~Maya Angelou

I knew I wouldn’t be able to unlearn what I was about to learn from this trip therefore I knew upon my return, I would have no choice but to DO better.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without

clothes and daily food. 

If one of you says to them,

“Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,”

but does nothing

about their physical needs,

what good is it?

In the same way, faith by itself,

if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

~James 2:15-17, NIV

But, that is the hard part–the doing, the action– mainly because that is where the messiness comes in. It’s in that mess where the uncomfortableness begins and it’s in those uncomfortable messes where we have to make our toughest choices. Do we simply say “go in peace?” Or do we put our faith in action?  Like I said, the action is the hard (uncomfortable) part, especially, when it is SO easy (comfortable) to just say “go in peace.”

But, when you know better, you do better, right?  

At this moment, I have NO idea where my life is headed.  I only know that I have learned the hard way that no matter how much I try to control it–no matter how much I try to stay comfortable–I can’t. And I am now grateful for that. I have faith enough to know that I will trust in the journey–despite the heartaches and uncertainties-because I know that God is faithful. ALWAYS. All the time. Even when we can’t see it through the mess. Even when we are uncomfortable. His love never fails us. The evidence of that rests in a beautiful little orphanage in Uganda. . .

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The 2014 Oman/Minnesota Team with the children of the Michelle and Julia Hoffman Memorial Children’s Home.

Jesus Stops

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I read this little passage tonight.

It’s about doing something. It’s about making choices. It’s about radical faith.

And, it’s beautiful.

Healing begins when we do something. Healing begins when we reach out. Healing starts when we take a step.

God’s help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it. Nothing results from apathy. . .

God honors radical, risk-taking faith.

When arks are built, lives are saved. When soldiers march, Jerichos tumble. When staffs are raised, seas still open. When a lunch is shared, thousands are fed. And when a garment is touched–whether by the hand of an anemic woman in Galilee or by the prayers of a beggar in Bangladesh–Jesus stops. He stops and responds. ~Max Lucado

So much meaning, in so few words. . .

Healing begins when we reach out, when we take that first step, when we leap with a radical, breath-taking, beautiful faith.

Help is always available–we just need to learn to ask for it.

Because when we do. . .

Jesus stops.

He stops. He hears our prayers. He’s got our backs. His outstretched arms are there to catch us when we find the courage to finally take that leap.

So what’s stopping you. . .

From doing something? From choosing to heal? From living a life full of radical and reckless faith?

Jesus stops. . .

So we can keep moving forward. 

Choose healing. Choose faith. Choose to leap. Just, choose something.

What’s stopping you?