Whole Hearted.

“I have come to believe that coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from.” — Lisa Bu

Over coffee last week, my running coach and I redefined my relationship with running. We chose a new lense for my view of my training plan. I want to run. I need to run. I love to run. But every time I have put on my running shoes lately, I wonder if my run will be a success. I cross my fingers and hope that it turns out to be a good run. Every time I put on my running shoes lately, I feel a little broken.

For the past two years, I have used running to repair the broken things in my life. After having Chet, I used running as a way to reclaim my identity. After I went back to a job I didn’t love, I used running as a way to fix a long work day. After my father-in-law and my aunt passed away, I used running to heal my broken heart. When marriage hits a rough spot, I use running to heal my frustration. When the boys become too much, I use running to fix my sanity. Running has always fixed my broken spots.

As my life heals itself, running has become the broken piece. It’s time to heal my relationship with running.

The only way to heal what is broken is to highlight and enhance all the aspects that I love.

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Last Thursday, my first run back after my stitches were removed, I joined two friends near and dear to my heart for an evening boardwalk run. We ran our favorite route – over the Rudee Inlet bridge straight into the crowd of tourists on the boardwalk. When our feet hit the boardwalk, it felt like the start of summer. We haven’t done this in two years! Three miles into the run, we made a happy hour pit stop for orange crushes and lots of girl talk. The run back to the car was filled with laughter and happiness.

On Sunday, I headed out for my long run. I headed to my favorite running route. I left my garmin at home. I just ran. I ran the Cape Henry Trail into our State Park to some of my favorite back trails. It’s been a while since my running shoes had real trails underneath them. I ran up and down sand downs. I ran alongside water. I skipped over tree roots. I don’t know how far I ran or how fast, but when my feet finally hit pavement again I felt like I was flying.

As I ran down the trails, trails that have held so many of my tears and so much of my laughter, I felt myself picking up all the pieces I had left scattered over the years. I ran these trails, the day the world said goodbye to my aunt. In the middle of a winter storm advisor, I found my refuge in the tree-lined path. On these trails, I spent an entire summer running with my friend Heidi as we both tried to figure out how to be new moms again. Every time I ran with a broken heart down these trails, I left some of myself behind. Every time I ran filled with hope, I left some of myself behind.

Sunday’s run was a declaration. Sunday’s run put an end to broken running. Sunday’s run reclaimed my favorite place.

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There was no stop button to hit when I got back to my car so the run continued. My heart was filled to the brim, and it followed me home.

Last week’s run and all my runs going forward need to be a reflection of my life right now. I’m bring my heart, my whole heart, back to my running. Life is constantly changing. There will be more phases of heart ache, but right now, my whole heart needs a chance to shine. My whole heart needs a chance to run.

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Defining Quiet

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” ~Zen Proverb

It happens often. I feel the spaces around me growing quiet. The noise from the outside world becomes mute. These are my favorite moments. These are the moments when I hear my heart the loudest. These are the moments when I know I’m doing exactly what I am meant to do. My world has been quiet lately.

I used to wait for the quiet moments to find me. I used to crave them and beg for their return. I would long for the calm after the storm. After moments of intense happiness or whirlwinds of sadness, the quiet has always been a welcome surrender. Instead of waiting for the quiet moments to appear, I’ve been intentionally creating the quiet lately. I’ve removed facebook from phone. I’ve left the garmin behind on my runs. I’ve removed myself from chatter that doesn’t have meaning. None of it matters, but yet I can get caught up in the noise. I can find validation in a few new likes on my facebook page. I can feel success when my garmin shows a run that was faster than yesterday. I can feel validation when I feel like I’m accepted by everyone around me. None of this matter. There is a shallowness in all of this, and lately it has become too noisy.

I always struggle when life gets too noisy. Maybe it’s my introverted heart that causes me to crave solitude. I know it’s my heart that causes me to crave meaning in all my relationships. So this is my focus right now. Quiet spaces and meaningful relationships with everything I love: my family, work, real friends old and new, running and yoga.

Inside this new quiet space, I’ve gained awareness. It has brought me so much perspective. (I think the unexpected two week break from running has helped too.)

My running has been a struggle since the Richmond Marathon. I’ve dissected the pieces every way possible. What was I missing? What had I forgot? In many ways, I had a lot of success on the road, but I also had a lot of heart ache. Every run has felt like a gamble. Would today’s run feel like a success or would I come up short? With more quiet, more space to absorb my own life, I can clearly see the picture now. In the past two years, running has become my coping mechanism. I used it to heal my heart while grieving. I used it to find my identity after the fog of having a new baby. I used running to heal everything. Every single time I put on my running shoes, I asked it to heal me. I showed up feeling hurt, sad, lonely, and broken. I left all this energy in my running shoes. I would walk away from each run refreshed, but my shoes still held the puddle of my broken self. And my broken self still lives there. I am no longer broken, but the energy is still in my shoes. I still show up to every run looking for a problem. My heart and head search (or create) broken pieces. Every time I wonder if the run will be a success, I’ve mentally given myself permission to fail.

It’s time to redefine this relationship. I have to fill my running shoes with a new vibration, a new energy. I have to transform my runner heart. As observed by one of the meaningful friends in my life, can you imagine what my running can become when I’m coming to it with a light heart? Can you imagine what it can become when my shoes are filled with the magic of running again?

My relationship with running is no different from any other relationship in my life. What I bring to the relationship, what I leave behind, is exactly what the relationship becomes. It is okay to move through all these emotions. Every single one of them is normal. What isn’t normal is residing in these places. I have to learn to pass through them without getting stuck. This is what these new quiet spaces are showing me.

I’m letting the quiet guide me. I’m letting my heart pull me into these spaces. I’m intentionally seeking quiet spaces in my heart, in my head and in my life. I am creating meaning instead of seeking validation. It’s taking me down a path I didn’t imagine but one that feels like home.

Life is a constant balance. I hope by falling off the radar in some aspects of life, I create space for my heart in many other directions. I hope that by ditching false forms of validation, I recognize the real value in the quiet places. I am transforming my own energy.

It’s the quiet, the depth of life, that makes my heart come to life. This is the place I’m residing.

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Vulnerability

These are the words I’m choosing to live by….

This week I’ve been on the receiving end of a wonderful gift. Someone reached out to me. Someone who according to the dots that connect us in this world should probably not be my friend. She called me through tears as a way to reach out to someone who has been there. I was so touched by the phone call. I was so moved by the vulnerability in her voice. She wasn’t afraid to expose herself to me, a stranger. She wasn’t afraid to ask questions and absorb all that could be offered.

I have so much to learn. I could never do what she did – not yet anyways. I still haven’t mastered how to be completely exposed to the world. Remember my vulnerability issues during child-birth class? I’m still working on trusting support systems.

As Christian and I continue down this very emotional path, I’m realizing I need to be more like my new friend. I need to reach out when I need it. I need to be vulnerable so I can heal and grow. I need that vulnerability right now more than ever. It will bring me all the love I need. And I really need to be surrounded by love right now.

That same night I talked with my friend on the phone, I sat and watched this TEDtalk on vulnerability. So inspiring. So relevent. So true.

But there’s another way. [...] To let ourselves be seen; deeply seen, vulnerably seen.  To love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee.  [...]  To practice gratitude and joy, in those moments of kind of terror, when we’re wondering, ‘Can I love you this much, can I believe in this this passionately, can I be this fierce about this?’  Just to be able to stop and [...] to say, ‘I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.’  And the last, which I think is probably the most important: is to believe that we’re enough. ~ Brene Brown

These words left an imprint on my heart. A connection with a new friend left a lasting impression on my approach to the world. There are days I feel lost in tears and overwhelmed by the world. Those days I feel like I’m cracking. At the same time I feel like I’m cracking, I also feel like I’m about to spill over with excitement for where my life is headed. I feel so alive. I feel like light inside of me is starting to glow.

Maybe, just maybe, those cracks are what I need to let my light shine from the inside out.

This is why…

Thursday afternoon the emotions I’ve been holding on to so tightly the past few months started to unravel. I found myself in a parking lot on the side of the road with tears pouring down my face. I called my husband, but I couldn’t talk. Already in my running clothes, I decided to run. My favorite motto: Run until you feel better. As I went to get out of the car, another text message lit up my phone. More unraveling and more tears instantly found me. I reminded myself to breathe, I got out of the car, and I set out to run.  I made it a block before my husband called again. We shared a few more tears, and I kept going.

A little over four miles into my run, I reached the end of the boardwalk. I wanted to keep running north. Turning around seemed like the hard choice. Returning back to my car to face the news that waited for me seemed impossible. I paused. I sat in the sand. I reminded myself to breathe again. Inhale. Exhale. Then I did something I haven’t done in years. I ran in the sand back towards my car. I ran right along the shore line. Why don’t I do this all the time? The ocean was a magnet. I wanted to crawl inside the waves for comfort. Had it been summer, I think I would have dove in. The rhythm of the waves washed away my sadness. The ocean wrapped its arms around me. It gave me the push I needed to go home. It guided me back to where I belong. It stopped me from running away.

Salt water. Sweat. and Tears.

Salt water. Sweat. and Tears.

The run didn’t cure my sadness. It certainly didn’t dry up my tears, but it allowed me refocus my energy. As I ran beside the ocean, I kept thinking to myself This is why…

This is why life is important. This is why it matters that we all share the light inside of us. This is why it matters that we do everything possible to make sure our light shines. This is why it’s important to choose happiness, to choose love, and to give love. Always. We don’t know when it will all end. As cliché as it may sound, we have to embrace each day. This is why it matters. This is why I run. This is why I’m choosing to ignore negativity, to quit being afraid of truly blossoming into myself, and to glow. This is why I’m making sure I choose love over silly arguments with my husband. This is why I am choosing laughter over nagging with my children. This is why I will always carve out time in the day for myself. It give me time to fill myself up, so I can give love every day.

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“And like those waters among the wooden piers, a flood of thoughts came o’er me that filled my eyes with tears” ~ Longfellow

I’ve decided that 2013 is my year to shine. When you set intentions for your life, they find you.  Opportunities to put your intentions into practice will show up on your door step. Every choice I am making this year will be about shining. They will be about sharing love. They will be about embracing life. They will be about sharing the good in me with the world.

I can’t cure cancer. I can’t give my aunt more time with her boys. I can’t help my father-in-law fight the cancer that continues to spread through his body. But every morning I can wake up. I can choose to honor myself. I can choose to share love. I can do my best to be something positive for my family.

This is why it is important to let our light shine.

Resolve to Shine

Welcome 2013. A new year. A fresh start. A new beginning. For so many New Year’s Day symbolizes a new beginning. Since I feel like I’ve already begun, I prefer to view today as a day to polish. I don’t want to go back and start over, but I can always use a little fine tuning.

Every year tends to embrace a theme in my life. 2012 was about learning to let go. 2013…I have a feeling this year is going to teach me to shine. It’s a year to embrace who I am. It’s a year to find confidence to glow in every situation.

The light in me honors the light in you.

This common Buddhist greeting really wraps its arms around how I want to live my life. I try to see the good in everyone. I try to find good in every situation. I trust that people’s intentions are true and honest. Even when different, I respect others beliefs, hopes, dreams, and truths because I believe all people act according to what they believe is best. The light in me honors their light.

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Another Day. Another Trail Run.

I’ve been missing a piece of the puzzle though. In my attempt to always honor the light in others, I tend to let my light go dim when I’m surrounded by people who have different beliefs then my own. I tend to shy away from conversations that I think will put me in a position to be judged for my opinions by others. I have no problem sharing myself with my husband, with friends who are like-minded, on my blog, but in real life and unfamiliar environments I get quiet. Why? I’m not sure. But starting today I’m going to make an attempt to let my light shine always.

All of my intentions are good. Everything I do, everything I believe in, everything I try to teach my children stems from love – a love for myself, a love for my family, a love for my community, and a love for my planet. These things should always shine.

The past few weeks I’ve really become aware of this behavior in myself. I’ve found myself in a room full of people and not voicing my thoughts because they were different from the majority. I’ve grown socially awkward because I’m afraid to share. I’m afraid that voicing my thoughts will cause another person to shy away from their own.

But I’ve also found myself in situations where I’ve shared and blossomed. Running with my friend last weekend – someone I haven’t seen in over a decade – had me wondering if we would connect over those 13 miles or would we be ready for conversation to end at mile 5. Instead of shying away (which is my natural tendency) I opened up and shared. The give and take in the conversation was so refreshing. The result was 13 fabulous miles that instantly erased years of missed time. I left that run feeling a little more alive.  While emailing with a very dear friend, she openly shared herself and her opinions about getting married, having children, and growing as a family. Her confidence was so refreshing. Her light shined through.

I’m ready to let my light shine always. Different or the same, if we all honor ourselves and our values while respecting the values of others our world can be a pretty amazing place.

Sun Shining as the Moon Rises

Sun Shining as the Moon Rises

And yes…..the song, This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna let it Shine is playing in my head as I write this post.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.

Cheers to 2013.