#finishtherun

This morning, I ran for Ahmaud Arbery. He was murdered one year ago by three men in Georgia while he was out for a run. The motive: his skin color made him look suspicious.

I often avoid speaking out or speaking up about the racist nature of our country. As I begin to speak, insecurity holds me back. Who am I to speak up? What value does my voice contribute? I doubt, and I remain silent.

Today as I ran 2.23 miles away from my home, I was surrounded by the dark. As a female, I have learned to fear running alone in the dark. Every step, every mile, is a practice of trust. I tell my insecurities to be quiet. I tell myself to stay aware, but to not be afraid. When a man passed me this morning, I told myself he is kind and greeted him with a smile. When a car slowed down behind me, I told myself they are being considerate and sharing the road. Over and over again, I tell myself to not be afraid.

Today as I ran 2.23 miles back home, I let myself imagine Ahmaud’s fear. I let myself imagine that my skin color wasn’t white. This time when a car passed me, I let my mind wander. What if they had a gun? What if they started following me?

When it came time for me to reflect on today’s run, I tossed words around in my mind over and over again. Who am I to speak up? What value does my voice contribute?

Fear and insecurity are one and the same. Fear and insecurity are what allow the racist nature of our country to continue. Who am I to speak up? I’ve been asking myself the wrong question. Who am I to not speak up? Silence is the greatest contributor to injustice. If I don’t speak up, who should? People who are victims of racism? Those who live with the fear every day? I am exactly who should speak up.

My words are clumsy, but my beliefs are strong. We have a problem in this country. Until those of us who aren’t impacted by it recognize its influence on everything in our country, nothing will change. Ahmaud Arbery should not be dead. Anyone who looks like him should be able to run down the street and not be afraid every time a white person approaches.

Today I ran. Today I donated. Today I decided that my words have value in this space because I am ordinary. I am the majority. I am just another middle class, middle aged, white woman. When the majority finally sees what the minority has experienced, our country will become a better place.

If you don’t see it yet, look again. Keep looking. Once you see it, it can be unseen. And if you think it doesn’t exist, start by looking inward. It is in all of us.

To learn more about 2.23 Foundation and run for Maud, click here.

Ritual.

Nearly one month into a new year, I am right where I always am in the beginning. Dusting off my blog, I am once again forcing myself to sit with myself — my thoughts, my words, my writing, my heart, my head. I had the opportunity to join Glennon Doyle on a Zoom chat in early January. She kicked off the chat with a beautiful description of life.

“We’re like snow globes: We spend all our time, energy, words, and money creating a flurry, trying not to know, making sure the snow doesn’t settle so we never have to face the fiery truth inside us — solid and unmoving… We keep ourselves shaken up because there are dragons in our center.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

She calls them dragons. I call them heart whispers. I have shaken up my life in such a furry that I have hid my fiery truth. Then 2020 happened. 2020 forced the snow to settle. The world stood still.

I miss myself.

I miss feeling wildly alive inside my own heart. I miss feeling awake. As I look forwards, I wonder what my words should capture. Should I sit here and write about how about the life got wildly off track? Should I share all the times I’ve felt joy and forced myself to look away? My life is good. I love my husband, my kids, and my career. Yet, something is missing.

I know exactly how I got here. I can tell you all the places I turned left instead of right. I can tell you about the speed bumps and the express lanes.

I miss myself.

I miss wandering.

I miss wondering.

I miss opening a book and becoming emotionally connected to every word on the page.

I miss mile after mile on the trail discussing what life means.

I also know exactly how to get back to the places I miss. It starts here. It starts with letting my words travel from my heart to my head, and it continues from my head to my hands. It starts with letting go of my words. I need to get them out of my body. I started this blog with one purpose. I was finding my breath. For years I lived an existence of holding my breath. As I documented each inhale and exhale, I brought myself back to life. Today I’m holding on to my inhales. I’ve taken a deep breath, and I’m afraid to exhale. I’m afraid to let my heart whispers travel from my heart to my head to my hands to my existence.

So here I am, listening to my heart whispers, knowing that the only way to experience the joy I crave is to create the ritual for myself that allows me to exhale.

Resign |Active vs. Passive

In an effort to stay engaged in my own practice of writing — writing for me, for my thoughts, for my clarity — I wistfully thought I’d sit down at the end of every day and jot down a few thoughts about what it meant to resign that day.

January 8th | feeling fragile isn’t a flaw. Being fragile isn’t bad. You don’t have to be and you shouldn’t be strong and brave and resilient ALL THE DAMN TIME. Resign and let yourself soften. Sink into the space of comfort. Let other people take care of you.

January 9th | Resign – Actively take action. Be resigned to – Passively interact with a moment. There is a distinct difference between these two-word variations. There is a time to resign. There is also a time to resign to something being true.

And then my (too soon to call it a) habit faded away.


January 22nd | Trust that you know yourself. Trust that you know things without having the knowledge to explain why. Trust that your vision is true.

In the 16 days since I’ve lived with this word, where I’ve tried to let my actions take shape around this word, I’ve observed a few things. This word doesn’t have a single definition. This word can be lived in so many ways.  It is a choice between being engaged or being passive. There is a place for both. It also takes a considerable amount of trust to resign your control over outcomes. It takes a lot of restraint to resign when the moment doesn’t serve you.

I have a post-it note on my desk. The message is simple:

What do you get by staying in it?

The statement was made in passing during a casual conversation, but it stopped me in my tracks. I wrote it down. I stuck it in a place I know I will always see it. I ask myself this question on a daily basis.

One of my kids is misbehaving. It can be exhausting to stick to the discipline. What do I get by staying in it? I get a whole heck of a lot. I gain a lot, and my children need me to stay in it no matter how exhausting it can be. They deserve to have a mom who stays in it. They are worth the fight. I resign to the fact that it will be exhausting.

A conflict arises with a friend. What do I get by staying in it? Nothing. Not one thing but hurt feelings and loneliness. Staying in it doesn’t serve me. I resign my hurt feelings and move on.

Active. Passive. Action. Letting go.

There is an ebb and flow to these definitions that I love. It feels settled and engaged. It feels intentional. It feels welcoming and exciting. It feels like living.

Last year I made the intention to enjoy the ordinary moments. I wanted to sink into life and love the day to day. This year’s intention seems to be the welcome mat to living that way.


I don’t know what it means to resign myself to the life I am living, but I do know that something inside me tells me this is exactly right for me.

IMG_2037

Resign | A Starting Place

re·sign

/rəˈzīn/
verb
1. voluntarily leave a job or other position
2. accept that something undesirable cannot be avoided.


Sitting across from my therapist — yes, another blog is starting within the four walls of my therapist’s office. I used to do my best thinking on the trails. Lately it happens on the white couch in my therapist’s office. — As I processed the pieces of my life and in a moment of pause, I heard her exhale. When we made eye contact, she said to me “with everything you share, one word keeps echoing in my mind: resign.”

I paused. A new word was just gifted to me. After the year of waking up and just observe and stay curious and ordinary moments, I’ve felt lost without a word to anchor me. Phrases I’ve used to set intentions since before Chet’s birth still carry me, but I’ve been waiting for something new.

Resign.

At first the word feels repulsive. It felt like quitting. I’ve resigned from jobs. I’ve resigned from relationships. I’ve resigned from so many things and all of them have felt heavy. They’ve been a burden. It’s caused turmoil and heartache. Hasn’t my therapist been listening when I beg for life to feel easy.

Resign.

The word has echoed in my heart since that appointment. But what does it mean to me. I don’t want to quit anything in my life.

Resign.

Right now, at the beginning of my journey to intentionally resign from things that burden me and don’t serve me, I struggle to define this word. What does it mean to resign?


re·sign

/rəˈzīn/
verb

1. an act of letting go

2. choosing not to stress about things out of my control

3. consciously deciding I can’t make choices for people, I can’t be responsible for other people’s happiness, and I can’t alter my beliefs for the sake of keeping the peace


While I struggle right now to define this word, I do know what it’s not. When choosing to intentionally resign, it is not an act of quitting. It is not giving up.

So here I go. Let’s start again, or keep going, or just dive in.

To keep myself going, to dive in deep, I’ll be back monthly to continue exploring what it means to resign.

This is motherhood these days.

As I tucked myself into bed, I pulled my blankets up to my chin. It was one of the first chilly nights of the year. First I pulled up the sheet followed by my quilt. On top of that, I pulled my down comforter in close. One. Two. Three. Three blankets felt like the magic number.

As I counted them out loud, I was instantly transported back nine years. Cole was six years old, and every night I tucked him into bed. I asked him for the magic number of blankets. Some times it was two. Sometimes it was ten. Every blanket was perfectly placed and tucked in on the sides. Once he had the magic number, he’d announce It is perfect!

Tucked beneath three blankets of my own, I could see his young face. I could hear his little voice. I was in that room with little Coley for a few minutes, and I felt every ounce of loving him as a six year old.

This is motherhood these days.

It’s always been an act of letting go, but the letting go before meant letting him find his own way. It meant letting him make mistakes. It meant letting him succeed. It meant letting go of all the nonsense like forgotten homework and bad attitudes. Letting go used to mean loving.

Letting go still means loving, but it also means actually letting go — letting go of his youth, letting go of being a mom to that little boy, letting go of him being here with me. Letting go means he is leaving me.

This is motherhood these days.

A few weeks ago I watched him bike off to homecoming. He never glanced back, and I stood at the end of the driveway long after he was out of sight. I had one thought that night.

I’ve spent my entire adult life being his mother. I got pregnant the summer after college. I don’t know what it’s like to be an adult without him. We grew up together. He grew into a teenager. I grew into a mother. And now he’s leaving.

This is motherhood these days.

When we feel things, we prepare ourselves for what we need. This is the greatest lesson I’ve learned from motherhood. This is the greatest lesson Cole has taught me.

Feeling the absence of his youth now will help me guide him. It will help me let him go. Maybe that is why the memories are so vivid. Maybe that is why there is a magic number of blankets for the chilly nights. Maybe that’s why all I want to do with my free time is soak in every ounce of time he is willing to give me.

This is motherhood these days, and the moment I get comfortable beneath the three magic blankets it will change again.

And I’ll keep loving.

And letting go.

Maybe two is the magic number now: loving and letting go. Just like Cole used to say: it is perfect.

Coley and Me

Fine.

I walked into my therapist’s office and made myself comfortable on her cozy white couch. For over two years now I have claimed the exact same spot on that couch — slightly off center favoring the left side (my left not hers). Just walking into the office puts me at ease. It’s a safe place. It’s a place I can bring my worst and always leave feeling my best.

This time I sat down and she asked the question I’ve become familiar hearing: where do you find yourself today?

This time I smiled and said I’m fine. I’m actually good.

After I replied that I’m fine, she quickly followed up with another question I’ve become accustom to hearing: have you been writing?

I smiled again and said no.

———

You see, when I’m fine I find myself simply existing. I don’t feel drawn to write or to process things through my words.

But being fine is also brand new to me! It is a space I don’t exist in naturally. This has been my work lately.

———-

A few weeks ago I visited my massage therapist excited and anxious to discover what work I needed to do. I couldn’t wait for her to uncover an imbalance in my body. The more she worked on me, the more she kept repeating you’re good. I was shocked. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted something to work on.

In my next appointment with my therapist I shared this. She listened and then smiled at me. You have to learn to be okay.

It’s common in people who have experienced trauma of any form. It’s a cycle of hurt and heal that so many of us get trapped in, and I can reflect back on all my adult years and see this cycle. Hurt. Heal. Hurt. Heal. I’ve always looked for my broken pieces, and I’ve dove head first into healing them. I’m always trying to fix myself.

Fixing myself implies that I’m broken.

Being broken implies that something is wrong with me.

Something wrong with me implies that I’m not okay.

And now I’m here.

And none of that feels good to me anymore.

What do you do when you realize you don’t have to fix everything?

What do you do when you realize you’re fine?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like hope. It feels like presence. It feels like the core of who I am is emerging. It feels like I’m capable of facing life. It feels like no matter what happens, everything is and always will be fine.

———–

At my next appointment, when my therapist asks, I can say yes! Yes I’ve been writing. Maybe writing and fine can learn to compliment each other in my life.

Where my real work begins

Two weeks ago, on the tail end of our family road trip, I chased Christian down the mountain that we had just climbed. He ran freely. He leaped from rock to rock with the confidence that the ground would support him. I tiptoed knowing any of the rocks could slip out from beneath me.

I watched in awe. Christian’s running journey is new, and I kept thinking over and over again he hasn’t been humbled by running. He hasn’t been injured. Distances are still new and milestones are being achieved. He hasn’t been deflated and heartbroken at a finish line. These thoughts played over and over in my mind as he got further and further away. I watched in awe. I watched in envy.

Follow your envy — it shows you what you want. ~ Lori Gottlieb

As Christian got further and further away, I told myself I missed the new of running. I missed hitting a new longest run or a new fastest time. I miss the days of running when it was fresh and everything seemed achievable. I miss progress being the only possibility.

While I do miss all those things, I miss them in the same way that I miss my children being babies or the first date with my husband. Missing the new is only half the story of what I felt that day on the mountain. The real story, and probably the whole story is that I was envious of the freedom. Christian leaped without caution. He sat on the edge of reckless without panic. Now minutes behind him, he was out of sight and I was still stumbling down the mountain. I retreated to my place of self preservation. It is easier to say he can be so free with his running because he hasn’t been hurt than it is to face the truth that I hide behind caution.

———

A month ago, I saw a new massage therapist. She isn’t a traditional practitioner. Her practice is focused more on the energy in the body than the muscular makeup. I’ve been putting it off for years. I’ve known since the moment I first heard of her practice that I need it for myself, yet I was reluctant to go. I was cautious.

In our final minutes together, she worked on my skull.

Tell me more about your accident? You blacked out. You went into shock. It’s still living in your body. Your body is still holding on to the panic.

A few minutes later, we said goodbye. As I walked out the door she said to me, you have a lot of bad habits you have to let go of…

————

A mile or so later, Christian came back into view. Our trail was taking us more gently down the mountain now, and I felt more comfortable moving faster than a tiptoe. We continued together for the rest of the run, and I convinced myself that the sense of freedom I witness in Christian’s running wasn’t available to me anymore because my running history was a lot longer and more complicated than his. For one, I have rods and screws in my legs. I’ve had setbacks and injuries. I’ve missed goals. I’ve fallen apart in races. I told myself his freedom would shrink the more he ran. I felt better.

Freedom involves responsibility, and there’s a part of most of us that finds responsibility frightening. ~Lori Gottlieb

————

About those bad habits…

It’s easier to see why I tell myself Christian has freedom in his running on the trails than it is to see why I cling to caution. It’s easier to make excuses about why my pace came to an abrupt stop when faced with a more challenging route than it is to sit on the edge of panic.

This is my bad habit. This is where my real work begins.

A week after my massage therapy appointment, I sat across from my therapist (mental therapist, emotional therapist, life therapist?). I shared with her the insights I gained from my other appointment. We spent the entire hour exploring this space I’ve never been able to gain access to. When I said my goodbye to her, she acknowledged that I was finally doing whole body healing. I was finally doing my important work.

———

This is how I’ve lived my life. I claw my way to the top of every mountain I’ve faced, but when I get to the top I panic. I live in the panic. I retreat. I crawl back into the cozy place of self preservation, and I tiptoe my way back down the way I came. Then I do it again and again and again.

I literally do it when I climb mountains, but more importantly I do it in every emotional aspect of my life. I do it in every relationship I have. I do it in with every goal I set for myself. It is my bad habit.

———

Before I said goodbye to my therapist (the mental one!), I asked how to gain access to this space. I’ve wanted it my whole life. Her answer was simple. I need to practice, and running is the perfect place to start. I need to get to the top of the mountain, the edge of my comfort, and I need to give myself permission to be free there.

Yes, I’ve lived in this space before. I’ve done my fair share of practicing. I have experienced it on race day. I’ve felt it when I’ve take the first step off the side of a mountain to rappel down the side. I’ve had the rush when jumping out a plane and paraglided along the coast and riding an elephant through at jungle. But these are just moments. I don’t want a rush (that’s a lie – I do, but not all the time). The freedom I crave is the existence in myself and the existence with the connections in my life. I want more.

At first I wonder if running was the perfect place to practice. I thought to myself, don’t I do that all the time? But if I’m being honest, I never have. I’ve never fully given myself to the process. I’ve improved. My commitment has increased. I’be done the best I could do in the moment I’ve been in, but I’ve never been all in.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that goal is not to run more or to let go more. It’s not to run down a mountain without worry. It’s about connecting with and trusting my body. Running is my connector. It’s about connecting with my life.

It sounds simple. It sounds rewarding. It sounds like everything I envy. I just want to get to the place where I can give myself freely — to running, to myself, to life, to relationships, to motherhood, to flying down the mountain, and most importantly, to connecting. It’s easier said than done, but I know it’s exactly what I need to live the life I know I want.

I have to let go of the panic.

———

and for me, it’s always starts with writing. Because every therapist I’ve ever seen has said — Kristy, you need to write more.

Newport News One City Half Marathon | New PR. New Space to Dream.

You meet people.

They change you.

Late last summer, I met my friend and running coach, Kerry for happy hour. We were meeting to talk about my running and my goals in the disguise of sipping Moscow Mules. Her words were honest.

The only thing between you and your goals is you. Look how many miles you miss. Look how many runs you miss. How bad do you really want it?

I needed that happy hour more than I knew. I needed her words more than I knew. It wasn’t that she forced me to see that I was short changing myself. It was that she saw me! She noticed me, and she saw my potential. From that day forward my running changed.

You run miles.

They change you.

Over the fall and the winter my miles increased. My consistency improved. I fell back in love with running.

You run races.

They change you.

After months of training and years of chasing the same goal (5.5 to be exact!), today I lined up at the start line of the One City Half Marathon with the same goal in mind: give it everything I had to see a 1 at the front of my finish time. I needed to maintain at 9:09 minute mile for 13.1 miles.

My training felt picture perfect this cycle. I had some personal goals that would leave me running well under two hours. On a perfect day, I had hoped to stretch for 1:56. On a hang on for dear life day, I still though 1:59:59 was possible. I had it.

Today was nearly picture perfect. The weather was perfect. I was surprised by friends at the start line who showed up to help me achieve my goals. Christian was by my side ready to run whatever I needed that day.

The miles ticked by just as I hoped. I felt amazing. I beat miles 5-7 where I normally fall apart. It was happening.

Then mile 9 showed up. My stomach that had been fighting off nausea since last night decided to remind me today wouldn’t be a walk in the park. If I wanted sub 2, I was going to have to earn sub 2!

Mile 10 showed up, and I quickly did math in my head. I told Christian I was scared! The miles were no longer easy, and I was trying really hard to not throw up.

Miles 11 and 12 showed up, and I kept calculating time. Did I have it? There was no room to settle. I had to push on.

Finally at mile 12.5, I realized that today was really my day. It was really going to happen. I tried to take it in. I tried to feel it all. Then I saw Kerry’s face at the finish line. I heard cheers from my best friends. I saw girls who have supported me whole heartedly this entire training cycle, and tears came pouring out. I just had to cross the finish line.

I did it.

1:58:06

And then I proceeded to throw up all over the finish line.

You chase a goal.

It changes you.

Chasing a goal for over five years isn’t easy. I’ve convinced myself so many times I didn’t really want it. I didn’t need it. But it’s not really about the time on the clock. It’s about wanting something. It’s about committing to something. It’s about pushing. It’s about showing up.

If I hadn’t meet Kerry and the group of women she coaches a year ago, I would have walked away from this goal. If I didn’t see their joy and their passion, I wouldn’t have realized how much I wanted it for myself. If Kerry hadn’t been honest and invest in my training, I would have continued to take short cuts that always resulted in missing my goal. If I wouldn’t have failed for over five years, I wouldn’t have had today. And today was everything!

Today I believed in myself. I was surrounded by people who love me. And I did it.

1:58:06

And a brand new space to dream!!

You meet people. They change you. You run miles. They change you. You run races. They change you. You chase dreams. It changes you.

You believe in yourself. You change you!

On Repeat.

Pay attention to the words that are on repeat in your head. This has been part of my observation practice this year. The things that are on repeat matter. They guide us. They influence us. They become us.

Saturday morning I set out to run. Even with the best intentions I keep finding reason to miss a run here or there. Saturday morning was one of those mornings. Excuse after excuse piled up. I had juggle and rearranged my running schedule all week by Saturday I felt behind. I had one hour and 15 mins planned for the day, and not enough time to accomplish the task. I did have enough time to run my 30 minute speed work that I missed on Thursday.

A mile in a new set of words was on repeat in my head.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses.

These words that found me in running have followed me into all the daily pieces of my life.

In my attempt to find my calm in the midst of the summer panic I always feel, I’m returning to my words. No matter how clumsy or rusty my own personal writing feels, it’s the practice that lets me feel free. Using my words to define my life is what allows me to stay awake.

Writing is my vibration in life. And running is the place the settles my mind so I can hear the words that are on repeat. The more I run, the more I gravitate towards writing. The more I write the more awake I feel.

Tonight on my run, I struggled. My breath never settled. Nothing felt easy about my easy run. I had a million excuses for why it felt all wrong, but instead I found the opportunity to silence my head.

I ran my normal route by the river. I allowed myself to stop for a moment to take in the views. This time I stopped a little further back on the island near an abandoned boathouse. There isn’t much to be said for the abandoned shelter but I love it more than it’s million dollar neighbors. I tend to gravitate to the broken, weathered souls that are living a full life. This boathouse is no exception. There’s a story to be told about that boathouse if you can see beyond its broken structure. It’s the difference between being broken and breaking open.

Thirty minutes later my run was done. All my hard was left behind in my neighborhood streets.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses. I can’t wait to follow these words for a while.