Settle.

When you release you’re intention into the world, it always comes back to you. I’ve been reminded of this over and over again. Release something, and the world rewards you. It challenges you, provides opportunities for practice, and rewards you.

Before my words go wandering down this path, let me be clear. I don’t believe the world is here to serve me. Nor do I believe all I have to do is ask for something to receive it. I don’t believe anyone or anything is responsible for the outcomes in my life but me. What I do believe is that when I chose to focus on something by setting intentions, I start to notice it more. I become observant of the world around me through my intentional practices. The lens I use to view the world changes. It provides purpose to my daily interactions.

Writing my intentions for the Coastal Delaware Half was my release. The moment my words took shape on paper they solidified their presences in my heart. Now I’m finding pieces of it scattered through out my life.

Last night was a full moon.

Last night I also happened to be the only person at home for the first time since possibly Chet was born.

When a popup full moon yoga class appeared on my newsfeed I knew I would attend. With the sounds of downtown Norfolk as a backdrop, with the full moon as a spot light, and with an amazing breeze off the river, I happily unrolled my yoga mat. 

I set my intention:

Settle

“Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and the stars mirrored in your being.” ~Rumi

After a tough tempo run, after rushing home to feed the dog and myself, and after rushing back to Norfolk for this yoga class, I knew I needed to settle into my mat. My energy felt frantic. As we moved through poses, I found myself looking outward instead of inward. I needed to settle within myself.

We moved through a series of poses that were new to me. The sequencing was fresh. After completing both the right and the left side, we were instructed to move through the sequence again on our own. Gracefully the teacher told us to let our intuition guide us. Our bodies would remember. For a moment I panicked. Settle. I don’t know the sequence. I looked outward. Settle. I closed my eyes. I focused on my breath and my body found the movement. It found the movement it needed.

And there it was. The reason I showed up for the yoga class. Toss your intentions into the world and look for opportunities to practice them.

I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan. I asked for no guidance on race day. I want my body to guide me. I want the freedom of running by feel. I want to give my body what it needs on race day. In the full moon yoga class, I was given exactly that. For a moment I panicked. I wanted guidance. I looked outward instead of inward. Then I reminded myself to settle. I know I’ll need this reminder again on race day. 

When moving through life (or running a race or practicing yoga), to get to where you want to go you have to push beyond the panic. Fear paralyzes all progress. For me the only way to do that is to settle. I have to calm myself down. I have to relax. To find freedom in living and in running, I have to turn inward. I have to trust that my body knows the movement.

When all the fear and the panic settles, I’m left with nothing but the magic of my life.

Last nights yoga practice was the perfect reminder. My race in 10 days will be another chance to practice.


 

Let it be your Exclamation Point 

As the days have grown longer, running after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays has quickly become my new pattern. With daylight illuminating every new path, I have an endless amount of new ground to cover. Each week my runs have expanded. My normal 3 mile loop has grown into four or five or six miles. On my map, my reach has expanded. More sunshine has casted light on my confidence to explore.

Isn’t this how it always works? A new running route, a new adventure, or a new chapter of life can cause me to become timid. While navigating the new course, I’m cautious. Then the light creeps in. Comfort is discovered. Confidence grows. My circles expand.

This year has been all about recognizing the ripples in life. Circles are expanding. Some of them are literal circles like my running path at work. Others are as figurative as the expansion of energy rippling outward from my heart and lungs.

On Friday I sat across from my running coach. It’s two weeks until race day. Like all the other ripples in my life , our trust and understanding of each other has also expanded. He has known long before me what I need from my running. Today I’m trusting it too.

For some people, running is simply running. Race day is the day to put your game face on, turn off your emotion and compete. I wanted this. I wanted nothing more than to take my head and my heart out of the equation. I thought to compete I needed to silence the part of me that felt too much and thought too much. In order to perform at my best, I spent many years trying to simply perform. Give me a race plan. Let me execute it. I thought that was the winning strategy because for some it is. For some runners it works brilliantly. My running coach may have always know this doesn’t work for me.

Silencing the part of me that thinks too much and feels too much is like chopping of my legs. I was fighting myself instead of racing. I had lost before I even started. Feeling too much and thinking too much is my strength.

I left that meeting with a very simple race plan. Race day is my exclamation point. 

the only note taken during our meeting

Two Tuesdays ago I was supposed to run mile repeats: three of them, four if I was feeling on fire. My legs wanted nothing to do with it. They’d only run one pace, and that was easy. I finished my run a little deflated. I had some thinking to do. Did I want race day to be an attempt at a personal best or did I want to run easy? What did I need from the race?

All week I had dreams filled with memories that made me feel alive. I had dreams that kept connecting me to times where I felt uninhibited and free. When I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and recall life moments that take my breath away, there is always one that stands out the most. It wasn’t my wedding day or the day I birthed my boys. It’s a simple night in Austin, Texas. After sitting speechless on a staircase listening to Andrew McMahon play music on his piano, I walked out on to Sixth Street. Surrounded by friends, we raced. We ran down the streets chasing nothing but the feeling of being alive. Maybe it was Austin, maybe it was the music, maybe it was the brand new territory in my life, but that night I knew what magic felt like.Because I know better than to try to seperate my life from my running, I knew there was something hidden in my dreams.

That’s the one thing.

There’s no safety in desire.

Preserving life is as good as dying.

đŸŽ”Andrew McMahon, So Close

This ripple pattern that I’ve come to notice in my life, it expands or contracts based on me. So many times I feel myself shrinking and caving in. So many times in my life I’ve felt so close to achieving it, touching it, experiencing it, and I’ve shrunk back out of fear.

And these could be the best or the darkest days.

The lines we walk are paper thin

And we could pull this off or push away

đŸŽ”Andrew McMahon, So Close

My biggest challenge is in letting go. Once I find my edge, too many times I’ve retreated backwards. How many times have I cheated myself out of enjoying the free fall that comes once we embrace the edge? How many times have I not run down the street for no other reason than it feels good to run? Once you push beyond the panic, the magic of life is waiting. 

So close

So close to giving up

So close to going all the way

So close to taking off

So close to going no where

đŸŽ”Andrew McMahon, So Close

At the beginning of this training cycle, I drove to the oceanfront with Andrew McMahom playing in my car. His song So Close playing too loudly for 6am.

As I drove I thought to myself, running is the punctuation of my life.  It defines the content. It gives structure and shape to everything I do. 

On Friday as I told my running coach I didn’t want a race plan, that I wanted to run reckless, that I wanted to get so close and not give up out of fear.

I wanna go there.

I wanna go there.

đŸŽ”Andrew McMahon, So Close

With every thought, every feeling, I’m showing up in Delaware. There is no plan A, B or C. There is no pace to hit for each mile. There are no bullet points outlining the details of my plan. There is only an exclamation point – the one my coach drew on my notebook after I told him what I needed from this race.

His Response:

Let it be your exclamation point! 

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

 


Thank you 36. 

As a parent, I strive to be an example for my children. I want them to see me working hard. I want them to see me chasing a dream. I want them to know that if we want something, we have to work for it. So often the focus is on the end result. 

As I reflect on the last year of my life, I’m filled with gratitude. This has been the best year yet. This is the current of my life. It’s the vibration behind everything I do. I’m living my best right now. Thirty six has been so good to me, but it’s not because I’m focused on an end result. I’ve been focusing on each moment. 

Birthdays are perfect for reflection. While today I’m convinced I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, the truth is this year was hard. Having walked away from a “dream job” just before my 36th birthday, I questioned everything. I doubted myself, my strength, and my ability. The year started in pieces. Each fragment unsure where it belonged. The summer was dark. I was hot and stuck

Each day I continued on. I kept honoring myself. I made my way. Each moment and each step of the way created opportunities to write my own story. 

Today as the sunset I stood beside the river with my boys. Helping Cole work through disappointment of his own, I found myself telling him to keep working, to keep striving, and he’ll find his success. But is that the message I really want to teach my child. I stopped myself. I started over. 

This time I told him it’s okay to feel disappointed. That disappointment will turn into other feelings too. That’s okay, and it’s important to feel them all. It’s also important to keep moving forward. It’s important to keep making a path. That might be a dream to chase or a goal to hit. While those dreams and goals help us bloom, it’s the process of chasing them that fulfills us. Disappointment is just another chance to reevaluate what we really want. 

Thirty six was my year of reevaluating. It was a year of prioritizing. In all it’s ugly messy middle, it was magical. 

I’ve quit assuming what the next year will deliver. Instead I’m learning to celebrate it all. 

Thirty seven: lets do this! I’ve got a lot of life to bring you. 

The sun sets on 36!

Voice

When I started this blog, it scared me. There have been so many posts that I have sent to friends for validation before hitting publish. As my blog has grown, so has my voice. My confidence followed. This space has become safe. It has become my comfort.

Almost too safe. Almost too comfortable.

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I’ve hidden behind my written words, and when it comes time to speak, I feel the same fear I used to feel before I hit publish.

Expressing myself outloud is hard. My friend Amy stated it best. The words get stuck somewhere between my heart and my mouth. When I write, my heart comes out of my fingers but when I speak, it gets stuck.

Last Tuesday I had no other choice but to speak.

Every season our training team gets together to celebrate the spirit of running and life. Running Reflections instantly became a highlight for me last season as I listened to four powerful teammates share their stories of overcoming life. That night I was gifted with a mindset for race day and life.

This season I was asked to speak.

Although I enthusiastically said yes to speaking inside I held tightly to nerves and doubts. What story should I tell? What story is worthy of sharing? Because my heart now speaks through my fingers, I sat down to write. As I explored my doubts, I found the beauty in my story.

“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.” ~ BrenĂ© Brown

My greatest fear on Tuesday night was that when my words left my body through my mouth instead of my fingertips, I’d feel weak. I’d loose control. I was afraid that if I let my story become unstuck from my heart, I’d be forced to face things all over again. Was I really living the silver lining of my story?

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As I stood in front of over 100 teammates to share my story, my voice trembled. My nerves came spilling out, and it was okay. Staring back at me was a room full of people who were cheering me on. Through a few trembling sentences, I let the nerves leave my body. Once those nerves left, something magical happened. I relaxed. I felt confident. Over the course of fifteen minutes, I felt myself transforming. I felt light.

It wasn’t a huge transformation. It wasn’t anything I can pinpoint or define. It was just a simple subtle shift of thought. It was a weight off my tired body. It was the next step in my journey.

By the time I finished speaking, I fell in love with my story.

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” ~ BrenĂ© Brown

I watched the Facebook Live video of my talk the next day. (It was shared privately with our group, so no I can’t share it). Once again I expected to feel something: regret for parts I left out, embarrassment over my numerous hand gestures, etc.

By the time I finished listening, I fell in love with myself. The tiniest of tiny of shift that took place between the start and the finish of my talk made me feel proud.

I did it.

I quit chasing something that night. Instead of wanting to be, that night after the nerves left my body, I just was.

In that moment, in a room filled with so many loving faces, I knew without a doubt that this was, this is, my life to live. The good, the bad, the ugly, the amazing, the loving, and the simple day to day, I am grateful for every breath of it.

The Year of Waking Up

Every season of life I gravitate towards a new word. I’ve lived them all. Let it go. Rooted. Breathing room. Thrive.  I am strong. And so many more. More often than not my seasons of life are attached to a training cycle. 

Running imitates life. 

Life imitates running. 

As I welcomed the new year, I also welcome a new training cycle. The goals are the same, but I knew I needed a mental change. Chasing sub 2 hours in the half marathon has grown stale. Three years of the same goal supported by a ton of mental growth and maturity (but no PRs) makes the goal less exciting. I’m not chasing numbers anymore. I’m chasing feelings. 

I know when I’ve run a strong race. I don’t need a time clock to validate my effort, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not frustrated with not pushing my potential. 

Now is the time to layer back in consistent training. Now is the time to layer back in the drive and motivation to make my training plan work. I’m notorious for hitting snooze instead of waking up long before sunrise. When I get home from work, life happens. Homework. Dinner. Family. 

I’ve come to recognize the gaps in my training, and while discussing it with my coach this week I mentioned that I needed to find the spark that would get me out of bed in the morning. I needed my word. 

No sooner then I set out to find it, it found me too. In fact I’d argue that I already had it. 

“Awakening is not a thing. It is not a goal, not a concept. It is not something to be attained. It is a metamorphosis. If the caterpillar thinks about the butterfly it is to become, saying ‘And then I shall have wings and antennae,’ there will never be a butterfly. The caterpillar must accept its own disappearance in its transformation. When the marvelous butterfly takes wing, nothing of the caterpillar remains.” ~Alejandro Jodorowsky

All I need to do is wake up and just be. 

As a dream chaser this concept can be hard. Just be. Just wake up and run. Don’t focus on a goal. Just run the day I’m given. It is all I need to do to succeed. 

As a working mom sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is to be 100% committed to a training plan. There are philosophies and approaches that work for everyone in every stage of life. It’s never one size fits all. There is also a difference between making excuse and prioritizing life appropriately. It’s all a delicate balance. 

This year my goal is to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction which means I need to find the right space for my running. If I’m going to push my potential, it’s time to quit hitting snooze on my alarm and on my running. It’s time to wake up. 

#trainjanda. My support system.

Why does this even matter? 

Because running imitates life. 

Life imitates running. 

Waking up is so much more than doing mile repeats in the dark. Waking up is an enhanced form of living. It’s mothering with an awake heart. It’s loving with an awake heart. It’s living with my eyes open. 

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.” ~John O’Donohue

Welcome to my year of waking up. 

Sea Isle, NJ with my girls

Where do you throw your Rock?

Life is back in full swing. The boys are in school. Work is back on a Monday – Friday routine. It’s a new year with the same schedule, same responsibilities, and same life. Except it feels different. It is never the change of the calander that causes me to reflect. It is the ebb and flow of the seasons. It’s the cycle of the moon. Life always seems to follow their rhythm regardless of what the calander says and my routine dictates.

We are making our way towards light. Between now and June, we will see more sun. Although we are currently in the midst of hibernation, we are preparing for the hot days of summer.

I’m not like most. Summer leaves me depressed. Winter is when I come alive. Even if January 1, 2017 feels the exact same as December 31, 2016, it is an opportunity to take a inventory of life. Where am I? Where do I want to be?

This year I’ve held on to more anxiety than I’d like. My nervous system never seems to take a break. I’m alive and frantic or I’m sitting in a sad solitude. This isn’t my norm. Winter is my season. In winter I thrive. I feel alive and calm.

As I start writing 2017 on all my work correspondences, I’m taking inventory. What layers of my life have caused this pulse of anxiety.

Instead of running errands on my lunch break today, I’ve decided to pause. It’s a gorgeous winter day. The air is brisk. The sky is full of fog. Rain (and maybe snow) is in the forecast. I’ve bundled myself up on my lunch break. I need air. Fresh air. Cold air. The air that settles my nerves and blankets me with peace.


With chilled hands, I’ve doodled. I’m making a visual mental inventory. What is at the center of my world? What is my priority?

Add a layer. Create a ripple.

What comes next? Outside of the very heart of who I am, what is next?

Add a layer. Create a ripple.

And next? Another ripple. And next? Another ripple. Until my life feels both alive and relaxed. That center of my world, that’s where I need to throw my rock. It’s what needs my attention. It’s why my heart whispers Let me Mother. Let that be my ripple. 

When you throw your rock, your energy, at the right place, your life will become filled with all the right ripples. Throw your rock in the wrong direction, and the things you love get washed out and pushes away.


I needed this exercise today. I needed this moment with my notebook and my words in the weather that is made for me to continue to ebb and flow with life.

It’s a new year. I need to make sure I’m throwing my rock in the right direction.

2016. Thank you.

As 2016 comes to an end, I feel my body exhaling. I believe in ending each year with gratitude. It’s important to say thank you to all you’ve been through before moving forward. It isn’t until we appreciate what we have that we can be open to something new.

2016. Thank you.

I started the year with a simple intention. Trust and Transform.

2016 delivered everything I needed to truly trust and transform my life. The more I trusted, the more I transformed. As I made changes to my life – leaving a job, setting new priorities, finding my strength, accepting a new job – the pulse to my every day life became clear. Over and over again I heard a simple whisper.

Let me Mother.

Thank you 2016 for spinning me around until I was dizzy. Thank you for allowing me to refocus and gain true perspective of what matters most to me in life. Thank you for forcing me to wade through a very hot summer feeling stuck in all aspects of life. Thank you for gifting me an amazing community to spin with, wade through life with, and find clarity with. Thank you for opening new doors and bringing new opportunities. Now it’s time to grab hold of this new vision.

Fossil Beach

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people: that each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke

As 2017 approaches, my intention it to make my heart whispers my pulse. I want it to be the vibration of my home. I want the underlying current of everything I do to peaceful and at ease.

Let me Mother.

I don’t know exactly what these words mean or what they will become. I just know this phrase has guided me and continues to guide me through everything in life. This year I want my household and my family to live and breath for each other. I want the space to tell our story. I want my boys to be immersed in what I love and what they love too. This year, I want to walk beside my boys in the woods with muddy feet and smiling faces. I want the walls of my home to vibrate with their music. I want to exist in the root of everything I love. 

The noise is gone. The distractions have been removed. 2017 I have no idea what you hold, but I’m ready.

York River State Park

Surf n Santa 5 Miler. Do you Believe?

“From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: that we are here for the sake of each other – above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” ~Albert Einstein

On Saturday evening I stepped out of the Virginia Beach Convention Center to a sea of Santas. Our running community had shown up to attempt to set a world record. Could we join together to set a new Guinness Book World Record for the most Santa’s to finish a race?

Lost in the crowd, I was one of 5,025 Santas that ran the five mile route along our coastline. The previous record was set with 4,961 santas. While I was lost in the crowd, I mattered. Every single one of us mattered. Together we set a new record.

đŸ“·: Chelsea Nuzum

 

While it may seem to be a silly task, showing up and running a race dressed up wearing a Santa Suit for the sake of a world record, the truth is it was so much more.

The truth is showing up matters.

The truth is we are stronger together.

The truth is life is better when living light hearted.

The truth is believing in the magic of Santa is what allows us to set a record: world records, personal records, and life records.

đŸ“·: J&A Racing

 

Every single person who showed up to the race on Saturday believed we had a chance at setting the record. By mile two when I was dripping with sweat and desperate to remove the hot polyester suit, I left it on. I kept running. I pushed through the last hot and hard miles because I trusted that every other person on the course was also committed to running in their suit. I could have slowed down. I could have stopped to embrace the lights on the boardwalk, the gingerbread stop, or the candy cane giveaway, but I kept going. As much as I wanted to set this record for J&A Racing, I also wanted to do it for me.

This year I have worked hard to believe in my voice and my ability. I’ve worked even harder to share them with my community. I’ve worked hard to recognize that even if lost in the crowd, my voice matters. Slowing down wasn’t an option (for me). Not today.

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#trainjanda

 

“Life isn’t worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.” ~Albert Einstein

While I was only one of the 5,025 Santas on the course, the record wouldn’t have been set without me. While my voice is just one in a world of billions, my world wouldn’t exist without it.

In the true spirit of the season, the more I love the better our world becomes. The more we show up, put on our Santa suits, push through hard, finish what we start, and chase down new records, together we will change the pulse of the world.

There are so many world records begging for us to beat them. Grab you Santa suit. We’ve got work to do. It all starts with one person believing, and it becomes possible when 5,025 commit and believe too.

As we enjoy the holiday season, ask yourself what you believe in.

Race stats:

Official finish time – 45:25, 642/5221, 39/461 age group

Splits – 8:52, 9:04, 9:07, 9:17, 8:47

Gratitude creates Magic 

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~Ronald Dahl

Five years ago I sat in my prenatal class with my (still) favorite yoga instructor Katie. Every year as the season shifts from Thanksgiving to Christmas, I hear her words. Thanksgiving is a season of gratitude. From gratitude we shift to the magic of the Christmas season.

Gratitude  creates magic.

When the world starts spinning fast, like it seems to do every year when the calendar approaches the end of the year, it is gratitude that roots us. It is gratitude that brings magic to our world.

Today my world started spinning. It was a domino effect. The morning started off on a high. Great news from friends. A exciting conversation with my running coach. I hit reply to his last email and said “this season is going to be magical.” Then the dominos started to fall. Heartbreaking news. Domino falls. Facebook status. Domino falls. More updates. Domino falls. I felt myself getting emotional and overwhelmed. I took a break.

Fresh air is always my cure. I took my lunch break outside, and in route to get a coffee I saw a man running down the street. He attacked another man. Punches were thrown. They continued to fight while I called 9-1-1. Another domino fell.

The dominos kept falling. One after the other today, I couldn’t stop the process. How had a morning that started off magical unraveled so quickly. 

The dominos fell for the rest of the day. A temper tantrum in the middle of the store, a car accident beside us, the dominos fell. 

As I safely pulled into my driveway twelve hours after I left this morning, I let out another audible exhale. Today was a lot. How do I get the magic back in my day? 

My boys bounced towards the front door past the dozen illuminated snowman faces, the blow up Christmas tree and penguins. My dog greeted us with kisses. My husband is on his way home from Arizona. 

For a moment I paused. This time I inhaled. I inhaled the life that is mine. I was flooded with gratitude. 

While my heart aches for people I’ve never met and a few I love dearly, today I’m reminded how magical the world can be, how magical the world is. I’m reminded that the best intentions are rooted in gratitude. When the dominos start to fall, the only way to stop them is by giving thanks. 

My boys