Exposed. 

Thursday afternoon I had coffee with my friend from Roc Solid Foundation. It was the first time sitting down with him since I turned down his job offer earlier this year. I was nervous and excited, but I knew it was long over due.

After we talked and caught up, he asked me a question in the way that only he can. He asked me if I needed anything. He asked me my goals for moving forward. He asked me what if – what if my life could look like anything.

Long story short, I walked out of the coffee shop inspired and little sad. Had I lost some of my passion along the way over the past few months?

I found myself asking myself the same question I keep asking myself about my running but this time in the context of my life. Do I play it safe or do I fight for myself? (I still don’t know if I should thank him or kick him.)

getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

This morning I woke up with one thought. I miss being stirred and inspired. Now this sounds crazy coming off the best race weekend of my life that left me with an emotional hangover for days. I thought on my way to work. I thought some more. When I strip away all the layers, the thing that I miss the most is being inspired by myself.

I love giving myself to others. I love sharing. Maybe too much. I love thinking and analyzing. So how does this fit into this new life I’ve just created? I’ve created a life that provides the perfect foundation for living. But what do I want this life to look like?

I think it’s time to see what I’m made of. And there is only one place I always find my best self. Racing.

I’ve gone back and forth. Do I want to race? Do I want to race shorter distance? Do I want to stick with carefree?

Processed with Snapseed.
getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

 

The truth is I’m afraid to race because for three years I’ve come up short. It’s easy to hide in pacing and carefeee running. I have nothing to lose.

As I’m writing this I’m laughing. All last season my biggest struggle was that I couldn’t hide in pacing. Every run was on display for the entire team. Every thought. Every emotion. Every struggle. Belonged to the team. Now this season, pacing has become my hiding spot.

Do you know what this tells me? It tells me I’ve grown. It tells me I’ve found new strength. It also tells me it is time to build.

I NEED to race this fall. I need to risk it. I need to keep myself exposed. That is what inspires me. That is what drives me. That is what fulfills me.

I’m terrified I’ll fail again. So scared that I’m willing to use pacing as an excuse not to race.

But if the thing I love most in life is to give, is to help people see their potential, is to catch people when they fall, then don’t I have an obligation to them and to ME to stay exposed.

As my other great friend said to me, it’s time to Jump! I took one leap of faith earlier this year. I caught myself. I found my wings. I flew and landed exactly where I belong.

46 days until the Norfolk harbor half marathon. It’s time to leap again. It’s time to strengthen my wings.

Processed with Snapseed.
getting comfortable with being uncomfortable

 

(Blog Post originally appeared as an email to my running coach!)

Crawlin Crab Weekend – Crushing and Conquering

This won’t be a typical race recap. There truly are no words that can capture the magic of this weekend, but I’m going to try anyways.

Wednesday evening when I had about given up on running for the week (because it just felt impossible to make it work) I asked both boys to go for an evening run with me. To my surprise, both said yes. Cole put on his running shoes, and Chet got in the stroller. While my husband made dinner, we ran 2.5 stress free miles. I was shocked that Cole only need to take one walk break during the entire run.

A seed was planted.

My husband was already racing Saturday. There was a kid’s 1k offered after his 5k. Both boys enthusiastically said they wanted to run.

Saturday – Crawlin Crab 5k

The boys and I arrived at race just before the 5k kicked off. We were ready to cheer. My husband has had quite a transformation over the past six months. He’s lost nearly 40 lbs, and his fitness level has sky rocketed. Last weekend we ran a trail 5k in Richmond, and he set a PR. I had no doubt he’d do the same on Saturday (and I was nervous he would beat my summer 5k time).

It didn’t take long for the lead runner to make his way to the finish line. Soon I saw friends. Our good friend Jon ran his first race ever, and showed up sooner than I ever anticipated. Just behind him was my husband. Right on Christian’s heels was Debbie (the woman responsible for his huge transformation!). As much as I was cheering for him, I was also cheering for her to pass him. He’s already surpassed everyone’s expectations,  I need to be able to hang on to one last bragging right. It was a show down to the finish line, and Debbie walked away the winner by one second. I’m sure a rematch is coming soon!

Christian’s Finish: 27:21 (8:48 minute mile)


As much as we compete, as much as I like winning, to say I’m proud is an understatement. Watching my husband come back to life over the past six months has been the greatest gift to our marriage. (Now he just needs to slow down or I need to get faster! or he’s becoming my pacer!)

Saturday – Kids Kilometer

The kids race started after the 5k finished. Cole toed the line in the front of the pack, and Chet and I stayed near the back. Given Cole’s running history, I knew he had a chance to be in the front of the race. It’s almost time for him to advance to 5k races, and the boy can run.

As Chet and I made our way down the course, I could see Cole in front of us. He was about ten kids back. The next time I saw him, he came around a corner in first place. The tears came falling out of my eyes instantaneously as Chet and I cheered for him to RUN! I absolutely loved that he was in the lead, but I loved it even more that I saw him thriving. It wasn’t too long ago that Cole was a little boy walking and crying his way through the shamrock final mile. It wasn’t too long ago that he shut down any time he was in the spotlight. It wasn’t too long ago that he didn’t see his own potential. Saturday was different. Saturday he thrived. Saturday he pushed himself. Cole conquered himself during Saturday’s run.

And Chet! Saturday was his first race. He loved wearing a race bib. He loved the start line. As we ran down the course, he held my hand and said Mama this is so much fun. He held my hand the whole way until he saw the finish line. When it finally came into view, he took off and ran so fast! As soon as we crossed the line, I scooped him up and covered him with hugs and kiss.


This mama couldn’t be more proud of her boys! It was the perfect family weekend!

Cole’s Finish Time: 4:20 (6:59 minute mile)

Chet’s Finish TIme: 6:25 (10:19 minute mile)

Sunday – Crawlin Crab Half Marathon

Sunday was a race like no other. A few weeks ago one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with Lymphoma. This girl is a fighter. She always has been. Now that she has cancer, her fight is on fire. As one big “F You” to cancer, she committed to still running the half marathon regardless of the fact that she’s receiving chemotherapy. She also decided it was time to debut her beautiful bald head.

A few days before the race, she texted me her bib number. It was hard to digest that a girl who was supposed to be pacing the 1:52 pace group was being forced to slow. She told me she was supposed to crush this race. In that moment we decided to redefine crush. Crushing the race was no longer about race times or placing. It became about having fun and enjoying every mile. Redefining crush became about drinking orange crushes on the course.

My husband jumped into action. We got my mother in law to babysit so Christian could provide bike support. We hit up the liquor store for the appropriate ingredients. Christian provided us an orange crush break at miles 4, 8, 10 and 12.


As we made our way down the final hill towards the finish line, our friend’s husband was holding a #teamkaren sign. Our pack of friends was lined up around the last corner. I felt her happiness. I felt her strength. I felt her accomplishment. As we made our way down the finish line chute, I told her to take it all it. It was all for her. Every cheer and every teammate, they were all for her.


Official Finish Time: 2:26 including 7 minutes of Orange Crushing!

Sunday’s finish line was the epitome of crushing a race! It wasn’t the 64ozs of orange crushes we consumed (with a little help from our friends). It was Karen. It was her determination to take ownership of her life and her diagnosis.

This entire weekend was filled with inspiration. It was filled with hope. It was a reminder to fight for yourself, your goals, and your dreams. It was a reminder that family and friends matter the most. It was a reminder that the only way to crush a race (or life) is to conquer yourself.

Crawlin Crab Weekend – you will always be my favorite!

The Promise of a Rainbow

“Love was a feeling completely bound up with color, like thousands of rainbows superimposed one on top of the other.” ~Paulo Coehlo

I’ve always believed in the promise of a rainbow.

As a high schooler, I learned that the world was filled with answers to our deepest questions if we kept our eyes open. My family was visiting home in Wisconsin. A huge part of our heart will always be there. My parents lost their first baby. Three months after she was born, they were faced with the unimaginable. She quit breathing. On the day that I learned about the magic of our world, we were leaving the cemetery. My little brother asked how we knew Jennifer was okay, and a rainbow appeared. In that moment, no one needed to answer my brother. We just knew.

Every time I see a rainbow I think of her. I think of the sister I’ve never met but have always loved. I think of the grace, strength and courage of my parents who plowed forward with life.

Last night after work I drove towards the oceanfront like I do every Thursday. I was headed to meet my training team for a fun spin on our Thursday night run. Instead of conquering tempo miles, we split in to teams to race. The inaugural 4×400 was launched. Before heat 1 kicked off the event, a rainbow appeared from behind the cloudy skies. I smiled.

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#trainjanda

Promise.

Grace. Strength. Courage.

My team, team #17 (#teamjeck), was in the final heat. I was the final leg. As my teammate made her way towards me for the symbolic passing of the baton, my stomach was filled with nerves. I had 400 meters to fly.

My legs moved faster than they have ever moved since high school, and I think I had a permanent smile on my face as I approached the finish line. I had the honor of being the last runner for all 19 teams to cross the finish line, and all 19 teams greeted me (me! seriously it was a pinch me moment!) with a celebration tunnel.

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The Magic of Team

This is why I run. In the moments when I get frustrated with myself for not performing at the level I know I can preform at, when I beat myself up for missing a run, or when I think it’s just not possible to balance it all, this is what keeps me coming back. The team mates. The cheers. The celebration of being our very best – not tomorrow – but right now. It’s meeting myself exactly where I am at and knowing that it is okay.

Every single teammate tackled that 400 with grace, strength and courage. The finish line was the promise that we are exactly where we are meant to be.

It’s race weekend, and for the first time (possibly ever) I’m taking a very different approach to this race. I’m not aiming for a goal time. I’m not aiming for effort. My goal for this race is friendship. When one of your dearest friends is diagnosed with cancer and is fighting her way through treatment with nothing but grace, strength, and courage, you make life a celebration. My only goal is to keep up with her for 13.1 miles.

“Shine your soul with the same
egoless humility as the rainbow
and no matter where you go
in this world or the next,
love will find you, attend you, and bless you.” ~Aberjhani

I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. To get to do what I love every single day and to get to do it with people who genuinely care about the person standing next to them, love has most certainly found me. It attends to me. It has blessed me.

Every time I see a rainbow, I will smile. I will think of my sister, but I will also think of my family: my parents, my boys, and this wonderful community that has given me a home: a promise that is fulfilled through grace, strength and courage. 

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Strength. Grace. and Courage.

Slow Down

“Life itself is the best (and the only) timekeeper.” ~Rasheed Ogunlaru

The fall equinox is not only a welcome sign that cooler temperatures are ahead of us along the coast of Virginia, but it also marks an astronomical turning point of the seasons. Fall is here. Scientifically speaking, on the equinox, the orbital plane of the equator is geometrically aligned with the center of the sun. Neither the north or south hemisphere is tilted away from or towards the sun. On the equinox our world is perfectly balanced. 

As we move forward, we will experience more darkness than daylight. Our days will get cooler. While our days are rapidly losing light, my body is begging for a slow down. I’ve resisted it, I’ve ignored it, but it keeps finding me. My heart is whispering slow down.

Fall Equinox Sunset
By nature I am someone who tends to trip over my own feet. I have an idea or a thought, and I plow forwarded before I can complete my own sentence. I’m half way out the door before plans are ever finalized. I have a goal, and I’ve created a plan of attack before I can digest what it means. I figure things out as I go.

When I started my new job at Eastern Virginia Medical School, everyone asked how it was going. The only response I could give was Good. It’s really making me slow down. And that is exactly what this job has done. It has slowed down my brain. It’s made me more intentional. It has made me find satisfaction in small details. It has provided a perfect balance for my natural tendencies to move fast. It has provided me a natural equinox

As my brain has started to slow down, it has also started to unwind. I’ve felt myself become more relax, less stressed, and less overwhelmed.

While my heart has been whispering slow down, my desire to run faster has been fueling me. I’ve kept running a priority as work and school began. I’ve run sub 7 pace on speed workouts, tempo runs are getting faster, but I haven’t been satisfied. I’ve wanted more. My long runs have suffered, and they haven’t been as fulfilling. I’ve analyzed it from every perspective. Is it summer? Is it ego? Is it the running plateau I’ve been on for months (maybe years)? Is it not running PRs? Why don’t my speeds workouts translate to race day or distance?

For all the time I’ve spent thinking about and analyzing my long runs, my heart keeps whispering slow down. Maybe this isn’t my season to race. Maybe this isn’t my season for distance. I don’t know the answer to why I’m not satisfied, but I do know I won’t find the answer until I listen.

I don’t run to set personal bests. I don’t run to be fast. I don’t run to win. I run to be my personal best and that has nothing to do with pace or speed. I run to win at life and that has nothing to do with distance.

Yesterday, on the day our world was geometrically aligned with sun, I headed to a group tempo run, and I took a detour. I headed to the gym first because in that moment that is where I wanted to be. I rowed and threw slam balls and did pull ups instead of starting a tempo run with my team. When I finished my work out, I chased the team down the boardwalk. I ran some easy solo miles while the sunset. I stopped half way to stand along the shoreline. After days of rain and flooding, the sun peaked out before it set as a reminder that nothing ever remains the same.

Hitting Pause
There is a season for everything in life. Right now my season is about slowing down, unwinding, and enjoying the small details. I’m not sure how that translates to running, but I do know the only way to find out is to listen to the whispers of my heart that have never steered me wrong. I’m slowing down and that isn’t defined by pace or distance in the exact same way that personal satisfaction and personal bests are not defined by pace or distance. Life itself is the best timekeeper, and my bests are defined by living. Right now my living exists in the quiet, simple details that can only be enjoyed by slowing down.

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ~Sylvia Plath

 

The Magic of 9

This morning as I got dressed for work, I placed something new around my neck for the first time in years. Today I am wearing a new mala. I knew when the timing was right, I’d hit the purchase button on the Tiny Devotions website.


My current mala is meant for rooting. Every day when I wear that necklace around my neck, I set my intention. I set the intention that I will root myself so deeply in my life that nothing can knock me off my feet. I’ll root myself in my family, my friends, and my community. As a girl whose heart loves to wander, my roots have become my stability. They’ve kept me nourished. They’ve been my breath.

This year has been a year of transformation for me. It all started with my leap of faith. It continue through my hot, heavy and stuck summer. It’s delivered me here to this place of peace and possibility.

From my roots, I’m learning to rise and release. A mala for both was delivered to my doorstep last night.

Rise – Imagine your potential is a seed, you would plant that seed in well nourished soil, you would water it daily, you would make sure it faces the sun, you would keep it away from the elements, you would give that seed every possible opportunity to grow strong roots.

From root to rise, feel strong, remember you are capable and let your potential shine.

My leap of faith showed me just how capable I am of rising.

Release – Breathe. Soften. Open. Release your worries. Stimulate your inner desire for knowledge, create space for what inspires you, let go of fear + connect with your higher self to gain a clear vision of your true path. Look to the moon’s phases as your guide, trust in your spirit to let go of what no longer serves you.

My downward spiral this summer has showed me how much I have to learn about releasing.

Today I placed the rise mala around my neck, and I set a brand new intention. Today I’d stand taller. I’d have confidence in my roots. I’d remain aware of my strength. In celebration of my new mala, I sent a photo to the friends who have showed me my strength through the entire year.

And then the magic unfolded. Again I am reminded of the magic of connection – connections that were made possible because of the roots I’ve created.

Today is September 9, 2016.  9/9/2016. 9-9-9.

My mala is 108 beads. 9.

Tomorrow I am the 9 minute mile pacer for a 9 mile run. 9. 9.

From a numerology perspective, the number 9 is the most humanitarian number. It has its place in both history and religion. It’s a number of patience and mediation. It represents the inspiration and perfection of ideas. It’s a symbol of the creation and the life as a rhythm and development. The number nine is found hidden in so much of life: nine lives, nine months of gestation.

The 9 is like the 6 upside down, a symbol of her offering sympathy and compassion to everyone; a reservoir of giving with a generous downward spout.

Where have I been all summer? Stuck in my own downward spiral doing all the work I need to do to walk into this new chapter of my life.

The number 9 is a symbol of birth and new life. Today on 9.9.2016(9), I have 108(9) new beads around my neck. Tonight I plan on drinking a Magic Hat #9 with my husband. Tomorrow I will run 9 miles with my 9 minute group and the best community I’ve ever know.

My roots are nourished. It’s time to rise and release.

 

Chasing the 5k: Virginia Beach Rock n Roll 5k

“When there is nothing left to lose, we find the true self—the self that is whole, the self that is enough, the self that no longer looks to others for definition, or completion, or anything but companionship on the journey.” ~Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

My 5k personal best was set in November of 2013. I ran a 24:50 in the middle of marathon training. I fought hard for every second on the race clock. This summer I wanted a new PR. I wanted to prove I had become stronger than I was three years ago. 

My quest started in May. All summer I chased the clock. 

Official Results:

ODU Big Blue – 26:44

CXB Lowrent – 25:56

Corporate 5k – 26:52

Summer Series (pushing Chet) – 33:22

Allen Stone – 27:01

Rock n Roll 5k – 26:24


Along the way, I realized how subjective the race clock can be. Some courses are short (CXB Lowrent). Some courses are long (Corporate 5k). Some races are hot and humid. Others are windy. Some days my legs feel great. Other days they feel like cement. 

Chasing the race clock is a gamble. It’s a roll of the dice. What will be delivered on race day? 

I can tell you the details of every race above. I can tell you what races felt amazing and which races felt heavy. I can tell you what races I loved and which ones I survived, and none of that has anything to do with the race clock. 

Two years ago I sat across from the coach of my training team at a coffee shop. I was debating if I should join the team again. I was a little burnt out. I was a little guarded. I was a little deflated by running. I was cautious. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be surrounded by a team. In that conversation I referenced an article I had read that resonate with me. In that article Elite Runner Lauren Kleppin commented on her performance at the New York City Marathon. 

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

I was stuck in survival mode, and I wanted to thrive on the race course and in life. He promised to change that. 

Two years later that coach and my training team flooded both the course and the sidelines of today’s race. At mile two I was greeted by a sea of cheers. I was reminded of how much I love this journey. 


I thrived on the race course today. I found my sweet spot. I pushed hard.  I silenced the doubts in my head. I ran harder when I wanted to quit. And I smiled the entire way. 

The journey hasn’t been easy. I’ve made progress and I’ve had setbacks. I’ve doubt myself and I’ve had runs that feel like anything is possible. It’s a constant tug of war between surviving and thriving. My 5k PR is still three years old, but I know that I’m stronger today than I was then. 

Today thriving is winning. 


I started the summer chasing the race clock, and I’m ending the summer feeling alive. There isn’t a time on a clock that can measure that feeling.

Today’s race:

Mile 1 – 8:09

Mile 2 – 8:20

Mile 3 – 8:41

Final push – 8:22

Age group – 5/199

Female – 23/961

Overall – 112/1520

While I’m incredibly proud of these numbers, I’m most proud of the road I’m on. I’m proud of my progress, and I’m excited about my potential. I’m proud of the team I call family. 

I’m proud I didn’t give up. 

Today thriving is winning. Thriving is winning because I quit trying to prove that I’m faster or stronger. Thriving is winning because friendship and team mean more than PRs. 

I can’t think of a better way to end summer!

Living the Layers: Opening

In the moments when I felt myself sliding downward this summer, I continuously asked myself over and over again: What do you need? 

What do you need to get out of bed?

What do you need to engage with your family?

What do YOU need? 

Some days the answer was simple. I needed to live my layers. I needed to run. I needed the gym. I needed to move or make a healthy dinner.

Other days the simple answer was complicated. I need to feel alive.

In my downward spiral of hot, heavy and stuck, I felt every ounce of the self imposed armor I have built around my self. I was trapped within myself.

When do you feel free? 

One moment always comes rushing back. It’s not my wedding day or the day I gave birth to my children. It isn’t traveling through the Sacred Valley in Peru or floating down the river in Thailand. It is one very small moment. The moment that always floods my memory is more a feeling than a memory.

In the middle of the night in the middle of the streets of Austin, Texas in the middle of a music festival surrounded by my Nashville family, I ran. For whatever reason, we all collectively decided to race to the stop sign. It was a full out sprint to see who would win. When we had all completely the task at hand, I remember laughter filling my body. I felt free.

There are very few moments in my life when I haven’t been aware of myself. There are very few moments where I’ve trusted, where I’ve let go, where I released my control and my fears. I’ve been collecting these moments my whole life: the trail run with the gentle breeze when I opened my arms up to connect with the trees, submerging my body in the cold waters of a waterfall in Utah after fear kept me paralyzed on the side of the cliff, swing competitions with Cole in the neighborhood park. I remember every single one of the moments, but I remember the feeling the most.

I share so much of myself freely with those around me and yet I guard myself from myself. I hold myself back. Within me is a hand that is always resisting.

This summer I gave in.

“But the soul wants you to go beneath. It leads downward. It says, ‘Don’t ignore the signs. Follow your longing down. Go beneath the surface of your troubled mind, your bad moods, your repetitive mistakes. Go beneath the surface questions to even deeper questions.’ The soul asks questions like these: ‘What is that weight that holds you back? What inside of you is saying no! Are you willing to look at yourself? To take responsibility for your own life? Are you willing to let something die, in order for something new to arise? What must die! What wants to live?’ The soul tells you to root around in the dark stuff for the deeper questions, and to let those questions lead you from darkness to the light.” ~ Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open

This morning I woke up to grey skies, the promise of a restorative run on Saturday through tropical storm rain and winds, and one lingering question.

Why don’t I allow myself to be enough?

I know the answer is deeply rooted in my past, in my personality, and in fear I carry with me. I know why. This summer I allowed myself to stay in that space to feel all that I had been avoiding.

#trainjanda

 

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.” ~Rumi

Perhaps for the very first time I am not trying to fill the void left behind by the absence of the hot, heavy and stuck summer. I’m leaving myself open. As a breath I’ve been holding on to for my entire life takes form and gains strength within my own body, I’m consciously avoiding old habits and behaviors. This time I don’t want to hold myself back. I want to stand in my own skin and know that today I am enough. I’m done collecting moments of being alive. I am ready to live alive.

Those moments of feeling alive, they all have something in common. Movement and Nature. They are my secret ingredients for living my life.

I’m figuring this out the only way I know how – by racing to the stop sign.

Thank you Josh for the weekly motivation

New Breath

“What lesson did my soul want to learn? I liked this question. It was new. Right then and there I felt it pointing me in a different direction. I felt it leading me up toward the light.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

A few weeks ago, in the middle of my hot, heavy and stuck season, I was supposed to go for a long run. I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee and the farmers market. When my alarm went off, I felt stuck in bed. I cancelled my plans. Later that day, I was supposed to go to a family pool party. I sent the boys ahead without me. I simply couldn’t process any more that day.

Not everyone can understand what it feels like to feel every emotion so intensely. Not everyone feels every nerve ending in their body when life becomes too much. Everyone doesn’t feel hot, heavy and stuck, but some people do. Scattered through my life and around the world are people who have also felt like I have felt all summer.

At first I thought it was just me. Something must be wrong with me. My entire life I’ve struggle to avoid feeling this. Then I’ve struggled to identify this. If I could label it, I could overcome it. Am I depressed? Do I have anxiety? Am I crazy? I’ve googled “seasonal depression in summer” a million times.

My entire life I’ve bottled it up, and I held on to it. I let myself venture through this space alone.

During this season of hot, heavy and stuck, my body finally resisted. I was done fighting it. Maybe I needed to finally feel it. Maybe I needed to spend a day in bed when feeling became too much. Maybe I need to finally be okay with feeling it. Because words are how I process life, I need to share it.

That day I cancelled plans with my friend, I also told her the truth. I wasn’t cancelling because my alarm didn’t go off or because Chet wasn’t behaving. I was cancelling because I’ve hit a rough patch. I was cancelling because lately I’ve been so stuck in my own head that I’m physically stuck in bed. This was the moment the world started to feel less heavy. Her response back to me took weight off my paralyzed body. She said the magical words we all need to hear. She said Oh I so understand. I’ve been there too. And then she talked to me. She showed me that no matter how we or the world defines this feeling, scattered throughout my world and the entire world, others have also felt hot, heavy, and stuck.

In that same conversation, my friend recommended a book: Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser.

Every day this week, I’ve spent my lunch break sitting outside by the river reading this book. I’ve kept my highlighter close as the words on the page having me nodding along in agreement.

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“It’s time for you to answer the call of your soul…It’s calling, but you’re too scared to listen. You think you know what’s important, but you don’t. You think it’s important to keep things safe; but that’s neither here or there. What’s important in this life is to learn the soul lessons.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

This week I’ve felt a new breath forming inside of me. I’ve physically felt it pushing against my chest as it takes form and grows into what it needs to become. Feeling once again calm, light and free, I took a step backwards. I started looking for a reason for this new feeling. I tried to define it. Was it the cooler temperatures? Was it the book? Maybe it was empathy from a friend. And then I stopped.

If I’ve learned something in this season, I’ve learned that life isn’t meant to be defined or understood. It’s meant to be lived. It’s meant to be felt. This is the lesson my soul is trying to learn.

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“Rumi tells us that that moment when we accept what troubles we’ve been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative play save the one that actually works. If you’re interested in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer to another a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment – your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrows. Face your embarrassment at being human, and you’ll uncover a deep well of passion and compassion. It’s a great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet to put down his burden of hiding, and then you can both walk through the open door.” ~Elizabeth Lesser

This summer I’ve felt hot, heavy and stuck. I feel this way nearly every summer, but this summer I gave myself permission to feel it. This summer I shared it.

Summer is my season of hibernation. It is my season to sink and restore. It’s my season to allow myself the space to feel so growth can happen. I can’t tell you what is on the other side. I’m not there yet. Right now I’m in a moment of new breath forming. Right now I’m going to enjoy this moment of possibility.

 

Living the Layers: Stuck

I made a promise to myself. In this new chapter, I’d learn to Live the Layers. I’d remember what makes me feel alive. I’d embrace the change. I wouldn’t allow myself to shrink or hide. I wouldn’t strip myself of all the layers I love when life felt overwhelming or like it was too much.

I’ve held on to this philosophy. This is a huge win for me because if you ask my husband, he will quickly tell you I’m the first to “sink the ship”. When life gets tough, I have a habit of adding water to my sinking ship. If it’s going to sink, I might as well help it.

From day one at my new job, I fell into my new routine. I held on to my running. I held on to nutrition. I held on to family time. When asked How’s it going?, I struggled to respond. It has just felt easy. It’s felt right. My new job and my new team fit perfectly in my life.

But I’ve been stuck.

It’s not the new job or my running. It’s not what I eat or how I spend my free time. It’s me. I’m stuck.

I’ve got the details figured out, but I’m stuck in my own head and in my own emotions. It is me that has become too much. It’s my thoughts and my feelings that I want to desperately turn off. How many times this summer have I wanted to scream why do I feel everything so intensely? How many times this summer have I finished (or given up) a run wishing I’d find my mental game again. How many times this summer have I laid in bed feeling my ship sinking desperately trying to not add water to my downward spiral? I’ve lost count.

Last night was the kickoff of for Thursday night tempo runs for the fall training season. It was hot. I felt heavy. My head and heart were consumed by feelings. My run didn’t go as planned. My head didn’t win the mental battle.

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This is summer. Every single summer, this rings true for running and for my life. When it’s hot, I become heavy.

This is where I’m at – hot, heavy and stuck – desperately waiting for the season to change.

While I wait, I keep revisiting that promise I made to myself. I will keep living my layers. I will keep showing up. I will keep running. I will keep nourishing my body. I will not shrink. I will not hide. I can’t because the moment that I do, I’ve given up on myself, on my dreams, and on my potential.

I keep repeating my mantra: I am calm. I am cool. I am peaceful.

It is not easy. There I days it would be so easy to sink my own ship. There are days I want to quit fighting myself. There are days I want to just give in because not caring, not dreaming, and not striving seems so much easier than digging deep for my own internal strength.

But that isn’t who I am. For better or for worse, this is who I am. This is how I’m wired. I am a dreamer. I feel things sometimes too intensely. Right now I feel hot, heavy and stuck, but I know if I keeping striving the feeling that is waiting for me is flight. 

Some how I forgot how to use my wings this summer. I’ve been consumed by feeling hot, heavy and stuck. 

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Working on getting there