Chasing dreams forward

“I knew I was going to fall short of greatness. So I had to rewrite the story of what greatness was. I had to figure out how to measure success differently. And I also had to figure out what purpose dreams served, if they served them at all. Maybe part of what, you know, was getting in my way was those very dreams. Don’t Let your dreams ruin your life. … The truth that rose up at my humblest, lowest moment was basically that I had to write a book. And that was it. … I had to surrender to the idea of my own mediocrity.”~Cheryl Strayed 

I listened to Cheryl Strayed give a talk on how her dreams could have ruined her life. Her words etched themselves into my heart. 

This isn’t the first time it has happened. Three years ago I read a collection of letters from her advice column, and her words have never left me. Lately I’ve been thinking about them a lot. 

All those what-ifs, all those unfulfilled dreams, all those aspirations from my youth, where do they go when they are left hanging in space. 

“I suppose this is what I meant when I wrote what I did, sweet pea, about how it is we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren’t and people we didn’t know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there…grateful for the smallest things.” ~Cheryl Strayed

The last five months have been some of the most restorative months of my life. After years of chasing a dream I held so close to my heart and choosing to let it go, I’ve come face to face with those what-ifs, those dreams and those aspirations. 

I’ve run a marathon through my hometown. I sat in a room full of people who are single handledly making a global impact on healthcare at a conference down the street from the hospital I was born. I flew to Peru. I watch hundreds of lives change on an operating table. I visited sacred temples. I trusted strangers to guide me down unmarked trails. I lived the dream I wished I had always chased when I was twenty one. 

And then I trusted myself. I trusted my heart. I trusted my thirty six years of living. My miracles will never be found by chasing a dream backwards. I let it all go. 

“I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.” ~Cheryl Strayed

Life has a way of ebbing and flowing. Everything we need finds us when the cycle is right. It also leaves when it no longer serves our purpose. 

Today I’m standing on my shore line confident that it belongs to me and confident that it is mine to live. The tide is bringing me everything I need right now. 

I’m not chasing the dreams that are behind me. 

I’m chasing the dreams that are in front of me. 

I’m letting the dreams come to me. 

I’m surrendering to this amazing life I live. 

I’m here on my shoreline grateful for it all. 

(Watch Cheryl Strayed’s talk HERE)

So much more than No means No

There is an article floating around social media about a young woman who was raped. I read her words, and I cried. I read the details of her trial, and I cried. Then I started seeing more and more articles in my newsfeed. They focus on the rapist. He is portrayed as an Ivy League athlete instead of a rapist, but I don’t want to talk about him. He doesn’t deserve a voice. The day he choose to rape an unconscious woman, the day he took away her voice, is the day he lost his.

One day soon I will need to sit beside Cole and discuss with him consent. He sat in family life this year. He learned about sex, bullying and abuse. Every day he came home, and I asked him to share with me what he learned. With flushed cheeks he repeated the words of his teachers. While we both giggled a lot while he shared details, there was a reason I asked him these questions. I want to make sure we communicate. I want to make sure he knows he can talk to me even if we giggle our way through the conversation. I wanted to know what he was learning.

I wonder if they discuss rape? He never mentioned it. Do they teach them the basics? Do they teach our boys and our girls that no means no?

But the young lady that was raped couldn’t say no. She was unconscious. She wasn’t able to give consent. Rape is so much more than no means no. Consent isn’t given by the absence of no. Consent is given by participation.

I need to wrap my heart and my head around the words I’ll use to teach my boys about rape. As a society I think we teach the wrong script. We tell our girls how to avoid rape (really! Like any girl does anything to welcome it!). We teach our boys to stop if she says no. But what if she can’t say no? What if she’s unconscious? What if she whispers no instead of screams? What if she is so afraid that words can’t leave her lips? What if her eyes scream fear, but her body is paraylzed?

When I sit down next to Cole, I have my own story to tell him. I will tell him about me. I will tell him about being eighteen years old. I will tell him about my fear, my paralysis, and my rape. Rape doesn’t come in one size fits all. It doesn’t always happen in a dark alley after midnight by someone you have never met. Sometimes it happens after school by a friend who ignores your whispered nos and your pleas to leave.

When Cole is old enough and mature enough to consider having sex, I want him to know that it is meant to come from a loving place. It’s meant to be a celebration between two people. If for a moment he questions if his partner is willing, it’s his responsibility to stop.

I have so much admiration for the woman in the article. I applauded her strength, her courage and her vulnerability. She has taken her voice back. I hope I can find the same qualities as I sit beside my boys to discuss an incredibly important topic. I have to find my voice so I can guide them properly. We all do. We all owe it to our children, our sons and our daughters, to teach them more than no means no.

What if the rapist in the article’s parents sat beside him and told him to always make sure his partner was an active participant in sex. What if my rapist’s parents told him that even whispered nos mean no. Fear affects everyone differently. We don’t all fight back kicking and screaming. Rape doesn’t always look like it does in the movies.

Talk to your sons. Talk to your daughters. Let’s change the script of rape our society has written. Let’s save our next generation.

Every 107 seconds a rape occurs in America. 1 out of 6 American women will be raped. Take a moment to digest that number. That’s 17.7 million American woman.

It’s time we all take our voice back.

Lets guide our children to a different story

(Read more statistics and information on RAINN)
To read the rape survivors amazing words, Click Here

Breathing Room, December Edition

December has felt very much like the past few months: a lot of gratitude, time spent on the things I love, and still very little sleep (oh Chet!). As the year comes to end, I feel confident that it’s time to let go my 2014 mantra to find breathing room in my life and time to embrace my new mantra for 2015. It’s time to for me to thrive. It’s time to push out of my comfort zone to new areas of growth. I’m ready for new goals and new experiences. 2015 already has amazing things planned. For the first time in possibly my entire life, I am overwhelmed by the sense that every detail of my life has been significant to getting me to this place. The memories I’ve wished to erase are now memories I’m grateful for in my life. The good ones, the bad one, the ugly ones, the embarrassing ones, the silly ones, the magical ones…

I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

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Breathing Room, November Edition

During the month of November, I had the opportunity to sit around the table with nine Operation Smile foundations from around the world. Countries from Cambodia to South Africa to Brazil were present in the week long meetings. In the list of the millions reasons why I love my job connecting with people from other walks of life is high on the list. Every day the world feels smaller and smaller. At a dinner one of the evenings I sat across the table from a colleague (now friend) from South Africa. She took my mala in her hands and told me it need to be cleansed. It was cold. The conversation flowed and we talked about my boys. She asked questions. I shared stories. As we talked more and more, she told me my boys are here for a reason. My heart sung as I heard these words. I’ve always believed that our children bring with them a lesson for us to learn. Cole taught me to love. Chet is teaching me to let go. My new friend has a different perspective. Cole is my healer. Chet has something even greater to teach me. He is my root.

This conversation has echoed in my heart in the days since we have met. I believe with my whole heart that Cole is a healer, but how in the world is Chet my root? He is the chaos in my world. He brings out the ugly in me. At the end of the day when I am exhausted and he refuses to sleep, he knocks me out of comfort zone. If anything he has uprooted all normalcy in our household.

This past Saturday I ran my favorite trails. As the miles went by I felt myself shed all thought. It was just me, the sound of the leaves under my shoes, and my breath. I felt free. My heart was floating in my body. As I ran, I stretched my arms out wide. I wanted to fly. I ran down the path and pretended to be plane. I high-fived the Spanish moss. I felt like a child again. I felt free. As I lifted my head to the sky, it started to rain. In that moment, the world and I were one. I understood. Life is about keeping your heart open and spreading your arms out wide to accept all that life has to offer. It’s also about opening up and letting go. My heart continued to soar as I ran down the trail. Why can’t I carry this feeling around with me always? Why can’t my heart always be this open?

It was when I asked myself that question that I understood the words of my friend from South Africa. Chet is my root. In his chaos, in his determination to own his own world, he is teaching me to stay true to my core even when the world spins around me. The lesson isn’t to teach him to sleep or to contain his temper tantrum. The lesson is to trust. The lesson is to know that it is safe to stay open and free in the midst of chaos. I don’t know how to do this yet, but I now know it is my lesson to learn.

It has nothing to do with late bedtimes or two year old tantrums. That is life. That is a normal transition of a child. Learning to remain open has everything to do with me being uncomfortable when I don’t have a solution. It has everything to do with me holding on to tightly to something I can’t control. Hasn’t he been teaching me this since before he was born? Chet’s exploration of life isn’t a problem. How I react to these moments is where I have room to grow.

“This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.”   ~Rainer Maria Rilke

November

Thriving

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” ~Maya Angelou

These days I find myself pinching my own arm. I start every day feeling grateful – grateful for the work I get to do every day, grateful for the smiling eyes that wake me up every morning, grateful for exactly where I’m at in life. My heart is full.

As temperatures drop and the leaves fall off the trees, I’ve been drawn to the trails more and more. Running through the leaves, up and over sand dunes, and around the trees, my love of running has come back with a rush. I’m not worried about pace or mileage. I’m running until my legs burn and then I’m a running a little more. I’ve had a hard time finding words to define this new space, and then I read an article in Women’s Running Magazine where Lauren Kleppin reflected on her experience at the New York City Marathon.

I was hoping to be an inspiration! I definitely survived, but I wanted to thrive.” ~Lauren Kleppin

That’s when it hit me. I’ve been in survival mode for so long. I survived five years at a job I didn’t enjoy. I survived my running slump this summer. Now I’m thriving. As I look forward to life and running, this is the space I want to exist in. I want to thrive. I am thriving. If I back myself into a corner where I’m just surviving again, I know exactly what I need to do. I need to step back. I need to find breathing room. I need to change paths.

I’m so thankful for this year, a year I decided to focus on finding breathing room in my life. I could never imagine the opportunities that currently exist in my life. I never knew my heart could feel so full.

The new year isn’t here yet, but this fall feels like a new start for me. It’s time to embrace the breathing room I’ve created. It’s time to thrive. Welcome to my new year!

Happy Heart
Happy Heart

Breathing Room, October Edition

“Child, you have to learn to see things in the right proportions. Learn to see great things great and small things small.” ~Corrie ten Boom

I think fall and winter are my two favorite seasons. I seem to wilt in the summer heat. Just like every other year, October brings me back to life. My head and heart have felt so engaged lately. I can feel the current of excitement building back up inside my body.

The month kicked off with a much need reset. I got to spend five days with a fabulous coworker in New Orleans sharing our passion for what we do at the Annual Meeting for Anesthesiologists. The trip also included a few wonderful laughs along Bourbon And Frenchman Street. The rest of the month was sprinkled with pumpkin festivities – cutting pumpkins from the vine, hanging up spooky ghost lights, carving a jack o lantern, and trick or treating.

While my life feels like it’s building momentum towards something really great, I’m ending the month with a heartbreaking reminder that none of it really matters if my boys aren’t smiling next to me. I’ve been really great at nurturing my two little guys, my career and my own heart. I need to make sure I’m nurturing the man who loves me most because life is always too short. I want to love him as best I can every single day.

In all my months going forward, I want to make sure my days are filled with the great things. The small things can be noisy and loud. They can demand attention. They are great distractors. But the great things, those are the things that are worth my attention. There is nothing greater than the love I receive daily and the love I can give back.

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Breathing Room, September Edition

“Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating an emotional clearing to allow ourselves to feel, think, dream, and question.” ~Brene Brown

These monthly reflections are slowly becoming a favorite. I’ve had moments this month were I’ve come unraveled. I’ve had a few moments when the world was just too much. Work is picking up momentum. Chet is in a difficult phase. School is back in session. Christian is still commuting for work. Something has been off with my body. It’s easy to let those few moments of unraveling define my own perception. I can get lost in my own head. And then I take a moment to look through the photos I captured when I was taking a moment to breathe. There aren’t a few of these moments. There are a lot. They far outweigh the unraveling. It’s just that the unraveling is noisy and demands attention. As the collage comes together and I see all the quiet moments, I realize that I’m actually living my life just right. It’s actually balancing itself out.

The first and most import step for me in September was figuring out my own body. It’s been fighting itself for months. During the beginning of the month, I had my yearly physical. Blood tests were done, and the results showed that I was/am severely deficient in Vitamin D. A supplement has been added to my weekly routine, and I’m amazed how much better my body already feels. Progress.

The rest of the month was about embracing exactly where we are at as family right now. I want to make the most of Cole’s last year in elementary school. As hard as the terrible twos can be, I don’t want to wish away the toddler years (oh but the tantrums can go away!). And there is hope in the near future that Christian won’t be commuting for work anymore.

Another month has ended, and I feel like I deserve a high-five. We gracefully survived the transition back to school. October is here which means cool temperatures, pumpkins, and lots more to fill my weekends.

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Chasing the Sunset

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

As I pulled into my driveway after a busy day at work and a last-minute visit to the doctor (that trumped my plans to go to my first boot camp class), I could see the sun beginning to flirt with the tree line. The thought of seeing the sunset over the river is all it takes these days to get me out the door in my running shoes. Cole, home with a clean bill of health, had an art project to tackle. Christian was grilling. Chet and I decided to chase the sunset. I ran as fast as I could to catch the setting sun. The river is less than a mile from our front door, but leaving for a run with a two-year old never happens quickly. Running while pushing a two-year old never happens quickly. We made it to the river just as the gorgeous reds were leaving the sky.

My running buddy
My running buddy

We missed the sunset, but the river was still waiting. I always let Chet run with me for the few blocks along the river. We bird watch. We check out the crane that is building the new boat ramp. After some begging and pleading (and protesting), he returns to his stroller (or tractor or lawn mower or dinosaur – whatever his imagination determines each night) to take the long way home.

This is why I run. My reasons for why I run change with the seasons of my life. During this season, I run for the sunset and the sunrise. I run to see the world wake up and fall asleep. It refreshes my soul. It hits the reset button.

Running has become less about pace and personal bests and more about connecting with my body. It’s become my way to keep my body, my mind, and my spirit free. It has become a time to explore the wild imagination of a two-year old and to listen to the rambles of a ten-year old. It’s become my way to catch up on conversation with my husband. There are nights the whole family joins me on their bikes. My running can be selfish at times. I run for myself, but my evening hours at home are limited. My time with my boys is limited. So I selfishly bring them with on my runs. I don’t think they mind.

Everything in life has a season. Right now is my season to bask in the glow of sunshine. I want to take in as many sunrises and sunsets as I can. I want to celebrate the promise of new beginnings, and I want to celebrate what has been offered as each day ends. I’m excited about running again for no other reason than I love to run. It’s something I hope I never take for granted.

Fall race season is just around the corner. I won’t be trying to run my fastest times or to push myself to new levels. This season I want to carry sunshine with me on to the race course. I just want to run. I just want to shine.

Chasing the sunset
Chasing the sunset

Breathing Room, August Edition

“Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating an emotional clearing to allow ourselves to feel, think, dream and question.” ~Brene Brown

August is ending on a high note, on a simple note. As I’ve stripped away layers of clutter, I’m sitting in the messy, real, simple core of life. Love. Yes, it is still messy. Yes, it is still hard. The difference between this mess and the clutter of life is that this matters. Love matters. It’s not filler. It’s not a bandaid. It’s not numbing. This is life, and I feel like I’m learning how to live my own version.

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