As 2017 comes to an end, one thing has become crystal clear. If you want magic in your life, you have to create it. Magic doesn’t find you. You have to bring it to your life.
Living life awake doesn’t just happen. Every day you have to deliberately make the choice to wake up.
It’s risky. Sometimes it hurts. It leaves you exposed. And it’s magical.
Maybe that’s what makes New Year’ Eve and the New Year so appealing. It’s an ending and a beginning all within one second of each other. The ball drops, and you get a brand new year.
That’s the magic. That’s being awake.
Within one second of everything in life is being alive. You never know when your one breath away from your best or your worst. When the ball drops or things fall apart, you get to start again. If we never let the ball drop, we never get a new beginning.
As 2018 approaches, I have one goal. It’s to observe life without judgement. It’s to allow myself (and others) to exist as I am.
I belong awake.
We belong awake.
The only way to live is to allow ourselves to be one second and one breath away from our best or maybe our worst.
Cheers to a life of magic. Cheers to being awake.
“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
Cheers to 2018, a year to let go of judgement, to observe, and to participate relentlessly in living life awake!
In a yoga class a few weeks ago lead by Jessica Johnson, co-founder of the Bhav Brigade, my body felt unsettled. I was unsure before I even arrived in class. I convinced myself to show up, to walk inside and to unroll my mat. Unsure of my place in the class, feeling unsettled in my body, pushed beyond my physical comfort zone, I wanted to flee. And then Jess guided us. Sharing the words of Glennon Doyle, she created a welcome mat for my practice.
we’ve got it all backward down here. We want to be on the mountaintops, but we’re not called to be victorious. We’re called to be wise, strong and kind. We are admired on the mountaintops, but we are beloved in the valleys. All the magic is in the space between mountains, where we have to unbecome everything we thought we were and start from scratch. This is hard to do, because when pain comes in the form of uncertainty, our instinct is to scramble out of it, to grab blindly for the familiar. But when we rush out of the valley, we miss gathering all the wisdom, strength and kindness we need for the next climb. We have to learn how to sit by the river and be still enough to claim its gifts. ~Glennon Doyle Melton
So here I am again. I’m in the middle again, the middle of the mountain. This is where the magic happens. But this is also such a hard place to exist. It’s a daily battle to not give up or give in.
The yoga practice that night challenged me. With sweat rolling down my back, I wanted to retreat to child’s pose. It’s always available, but did I need it. I knew I didn’t need it. I just wanted easy. I stuck with hard.
I was still unsure when I left class that night. I still didn’t feel settled, but that practice has remained a constant in my daily thoughts. Jess asked us in the moments when our legs want to give up, when our hearts are straining, to observe. What we are feeling doesn’t matter, but making note of how we are feeling does. When we are challenged, how do we respond? There is no right answer. There is only our answer.
What is my answer? I scramble. I flee. I feel panic. I become unsettled.
I sat with my feelings of being unsettled that night. I used my breath to calm me. I used the flow of my body to feel alive. The more I felt graceful and powerful in my movement, the more my anxiety disappeared.
Yoga is more than a class. It’s called a practice because it’s something we do every day. It’s something we practice in every aspect of our lives.
This Saturday before sunrise I drove to the trails. As I drove passed the Chesapeake Bay, I found my mind wandering. How can I feel so alive and so unsettled at the same time? This is the best I’ve felt mentally, physically and emotionally in a very long time yet part of me is still so unsettled. My thoughts wandered some more. I was drawn back to my yoga practice. If the movement of my physical body is what settles me, I need to move more. I was headed to the perfect place to move my body. The trails are my yoga practice.
That morning the trails were flooded with light and frost. They were flooded with fog and mist. They were alive, and my body carried me to a place of feeling settled. My running feels fluid again. It moves with ease.
As I ran with the trees I was reminded of all the shared stories and dreams I’ve whispered to these trees. I’ve spent so many years and miles wandering through these woods they are part of who I am. The trees with the greatest reach also have to strongest roots. To reach high, you have to be deeply rooted.
I feel myself reaching higher and higher every single day. I can’t help but wonder if my roots are a little shaky? For the rest of December, I’m returning to my yoga mat and the trails. I’m returning to the relationships that nurture me. Instead of glancing up to the top of the mountain, I think I’ll take a few steps back to the valley. Dig in, get dirty, and allow the movement of my body to settle me.
In my roots, at the base of the mountain, I am reminded that I am small. When I am small, I am reminded that I’m part of a much bigger journey. I am much bigger than myself. I am small, but I matter. This is the space that feels like home to me. This is were I become settled.
I wish I could bundle it up. I wish I could gift the entire world the words I heard last night. I wish I could take all the words I heard last night as I sat in the auditorium at George Washington University listening to Brene Brown speak about belonging and sprinkle them on every single person. We need her work and her words. I need her work and her words.
It all made sense. As she spoke, I understood the sadness, the fear, the loneliness that has manifested itself into hatred in our world. It doesn’t matter who you voted for or what religion you practice (or don’t) when we look at this humanitarian crisis we are facing.
We’ve forgot we are human. We’ve forgot we are all connected. We’ve forgot that degrading one woman, dehumanizes them all. We’ve forgot hundreds of years of history where we dehumanized people because of the color of their skin. We have to rehumanize ourselves. We have to rehumanize each other.
For 90 minutes Brene spoke about her work, her new book, and the current climate of our country. It all made sense. We have forgotten we are all human.
The evening ended with an auditorium filled with 1500 people and not one single empty seat joining together in a moment of collective happiness. Through music we united. We sang. It was silly and awkward and joyful. Together we shared joy. Music and Brene’s brilliant work gave us this.
This morning after getting home sometime in the early morning hours, my 13 year old woke me up to tell me there had been another shooting at a concert. 50 were dead. Hundreds were hurt. They came together for collective happiness, and this happened. I asked him to turn off the tv.
I feel asleep filled with hope. I feel asleep understanding how we got here, and a small glimmer of hope of how to move closer to being human again. Waking up to another attack of terror (because that’s exactly what this is) made it all confusing once again. How did we get here?
I haven’t turned the news back on. I don’t need to. I can feel it. I can feel the sadness in my heart and in my head. It’s lingering in all the spaces that surround me. We’ve forgotten we are all connected. A mother grieving for her child is felt by every mother. It’s up to us to acknowledge it.
In those 90 minutes that Brene spoke last night, I heard clarity in so many of our issues. My brain is scrambling to piece them all together so I can logically take the next step forward. While my head scrambles to find facts and reason, my heart aches for no reason other than there is a lot of sadness around us. There is a lot of hate. There is a lot of fear.
As I walked to my car last night, I said to my friend I wish I could ask Brene one question. I wanted to ask her what do I do now. As a member in the audience who sought out her research, what do I do now? How do I move it forward?
Today I saw her answer as I opened my eyes. It’s my children. It’s the people I touch. It’s my reach. Tonight, instead of watching the nightly news, I asked Cole how he felt about the shooting. I asked him how he felt about kneeling during the national anthem. I asked him if he had friends at school who were transgendered or gay. He awkwardly answered while I patiently waited. The more he talked the more his awkwardness disappeared. I listened until he asked me what I thought too.
Thanks to last night and the amazing research of Brene Brown, I could easily articulate my answer. I believe we all want to talk long enough until our awkwardness disappears. We want to protest or fight back until we are rehumanized. We want to be seen.
I kissed my boys good night a few extra times this evening. Maybe just maybe raising them will help bring humanity back to our planet.
We have to talk about these things. We have to talk about the hard painful things in life. We have to talk about the things that feel awkward to us because it’s not our normal. We have to reconnect ourselves. We have to share our ugly truth.
We have to be human. We have to remember we are all human.
“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s a reason why the word full is part of fulfillment. In order to be fulfilled, life has to feel full. Your heart has to feel full. This weekend I came head on with the meaning of being full. If you’re not careful, if your perspective isn’t right, fulfillment can feel heavy.
My alarm went off Saturday at 4:20am, and I contemplated sleeping in. I knew if I did I’d be robbing myself of my Sunday, so I woke up. I headed towards the beach to tackle another long run in this training cycle. I was tired. I’ve had a full two weeks that included travel, working a race expo, racing, and a charity gala on top of my daily duties of self, wife and mother. As Saturday approached my full week was tipping the scale towards exhaustion instead of fulfillment.
I ran predawn miles with a new friend. I met my training team for more miles as the sun rose. As the miles ticked by, I felt heavy. I felt tired. I started to feel overwhelmed and burden by all that I’ve been carrying. I knew it was time to let my pack run ahead of me.
As I slowed to a walk, my running partner Jaime slowed down too. With nothing but compassion and encouragement in her eyes she said to me I’ll slow down if you need me, but I’ll let you be if you need that too. In that moment I knew I needed to turn inward, and I needed to do it alone.
I moved forward. Slower than my new normal pace, but I was moving forward.
Our team ran trails on Saturday. When I came time to head towards the exit of the park, I made the decision to turn left. I still had at least 7 more miles to conquer. The moment I turned left to head deep into the woods on the back trails, I knew I was going to be okay. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give in. I kept moving forward.
I walked most for those 5 miles in the woods. I walked, and I sorted things out in my brain.
Things can be hard, and I can be okay.
A run can be slow, and I can be okay.
It’s a new concept for me. When things have been hard, it’s defined my entire life. Hard things equal a hard life. Turning left into the woods was a defining moment for me. I realized while wandering through the woods that sometimes to get out of your head you have to be willing to go into you head. Hard things simple equals a hard thing.
I’ve been busy. I’ve been tired. I’ve also never been happier. My new busy and tired has forced me to reprioritize my time and where I place my energy. It’s made me more intentional at home as a wife and as a mother. It’s made me reflect on how I take care of myself and my body.
Never in my life have I felt more fulfilled. That fulfillment, that feeling so full, can be quickly twisted into exhaustion and being overwhelmed if you forget to approach life with gratitude.
After my five miles of walking, a little running, and a lot of thinking, I left the woods feeling renewed. I was greeted by my Training Team the moment I emerged. They sent me off to finish the last 2+ miles of my run with a smile on my face.
The moment I finished I knew it was worth it. I had my Sunday back to spend time with my boys. This particular Sunday was better than most. It included squeals of delight as Chet experienced flying through the sky for the first time. It included Cole experiencing freedom as he wandered Busch Gardens with a friend by himself for the first time.
Life is full, and my heart is so incredibly fulfilled. I may just need to go to bed a little earlier to fight off the exhaustion.
This is the number on the race clock as I crossed the finish line beaming today at the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon.
Let’s start with the truth. I’ve been struggling with confidence as my running has slowed down. Years of chasing sub 2, and missing it by one minute and missing it by a lot left a void in my journey. Somewhere along the way faster equaled better. Sub 2 was good. Everything else felt like failure (for me and my personal journey). I’ve had so many wins along the way, but a cloud clung to me as I failed to perform physically at the speed I wanted to perform.
Summer running rocked my confidence some more. With a marathon on the horizon, I’ve run more miles this summer than I’ve ever run. Runs have been slow. The 9 minute miles are a distant memory. Not running 9s anymore caused me to doubt my ability to run. Somehow running 10s, 11s, and 12s seemed less than (for me and my personal journey).
Let’s talk about the reality of this race. I was in Philly to work the expo. This meant standing for hours each day on concrete floors. This was also my first visit to Philly. This meant walking double digit miles each day to explore. My goal for this race was to run faster than 2:30. Based on my recent runs, the humid and hot forecast for race day and my lack of confidence, this felt like the appropriate goal for me.
The first 3 miles hurt. My legs and feet were fatigued. My calves were cramping. I doubted my race. I held on. I knew I’d walk through each water stop to hydrate, so I just needed to make it to each stop.
By mile 3, my legs loosened up! The course entertainment was amazing, and I reminded myself to smile. I wasn’t there to prove anything, but I was there to prove to myself I could embrace my race regardless of pace and all those false lies I have told myself for years of faster being better. I could have my best race yet without setting a personal record on the race clock. Mentally I felt better than I’ve ever felt in a race.
At Mile 5, my favorite elite runners ran by cooling down from their own blazing fast race. I love the sport of running and sharing the course with these athletes is one of the many reasons I run. What other sport allows you to compete with the pros?
By Mile 9, I was feeling the fatigue, the hills, and the humidity. But that’s race day. Mile 9 shouldn’t feel good. Mile 9 is the place to start working. After my third stop at medical for Vaseline for my chafed thighs, I spotted a girl I had seen at every medical tent dealing with the same issues. We said hi and decided to run together. I found energy in my run again.
By mile 12, I felt like a brand new runner. All the fatigue had left my body. All the doubt had left my mind. A mile later I crossed the finish line feeling more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time.
The cloud of doubt that was lingering over my ability to preform at the New York City Marathon disappeared today. I’m working on getting physically ready, but today I proved I’m mentally ready.
Faster doesn’t equal better. Not for me. Pouring my heart into something I love, dedicating my time and my effort to achieve something great, and overcoming mental doubts and insecurities, that’s my version of best. That’s why I run. I run to know that I can handle whatever gets thrown my way and I’ll always cross the finish line feeling proud.
What if there are no rain clouds? What if there is only sunshine?
A very good friend said this to me as we discussed sharing our joy! I have no problem exposing my weakness, sharing my heartache, and exploring my failures. Sharing my success is hard. Existing in a place of joy doesn’t always seem to fit. It’s what I’m trying to grow into right now. I am forcing myself to be comfortable with joy!
Last week my boys and I boarded a plane heading to Maine. It’s been my dream to show my boys the world. When I was pregnant I would daydream about exploring with my children. I wanted to wander into nature and get lost with them. It always felt like a dream. After having Cole, I quickly became a single mom. When we moved back to Virginia, my dream was to create a life for the two of us. I craved roots and my dreams of wandering shifted to creating stability.
As I boarded that plane last week I couldn’t help but feel proud. It was a dream come true. I was taking my boys to see part of world that remains untouched beauty. We’d hike and explore. We’d climb mountains. We’d splurge on ice cream every night and lobster dinners. I’d say yes more than no. As I boarded that plane, I was exactly the mother I have always wanted to be.
Maine was magical. Every morning I woke up feeling alive. In my unwashed hair and no makeup face, in my recycled outfit from the day before, I felt at peace in my own skin. I felt my most beautiful. I’ve found this feeling in so many places around the world. I’ve found it in movement. I’ve found it in friendships.
As I climbed mountains with my boys and discovered tidal pools filled with ocean treasurers, I realized my dream isn’t to show the boys the world. My dream is for my boys to discover a place of existence where they feel like their authentic self. For one week they got to see me at my best. I got to show them how I embrace life.
They sat beside me in an old theater as we listened to an acoustic concert by Brett Dennen. Tears freely fell down my cheeks as his words healed my recent heartbreak. My boys stood beside me on the top of a mountain as we took in the beauty of the world from up above. We watched humpback whales breach. We explored islands that can only be reached at high tide. We skipped rocks on a secluded beach.
Every night we sat down at dinner, and we all took a turn saying our favorite moment of the vacation so far. I can’t pick a favorite. The entire week is woven together to create this magical masterpiece that I’ll never forget.
As I write this I feel compelled to tell you about our struggles during the week. I want to tell you how Chet wouldn’t eat. And how Cole and Chet battled over silly things. I want to tell you how Christian and I didn’t agree on our approach to both situations. That’s my habit. I highlight my weakness. In this new space of growth I’m deliberately (and some what uncomfortably) focusing on the sunshine.
I feel myself shifting to this new space. I feel myself expanding. I’m in a place in my life that feels like my own. I’m my best self right now, and I’m surrounded by people who are helping cultivate it.
What if their is only sunshine? What if I really am stronger than I think? What if I finally give myself permission to be my best self? What if I learn to grow from my happiness in addition to my heartache?
I’ve arrived at a place where I get to live my dreams, and I get to dream new ones I never thought would be within my reach. It’s amazing what happens when you give yourself permission to celebrate your own joy.
What if there is only sunshine? It’s time to find out.
It’s every where: t-shirts, mugs, pretty graphics on social media, and even my blog. Staring back at us daily are messages of courage, strength, dreaming big, living bold, choosing joy, etc. We must live big. We must embrace the present. We must chase big dreams and push harder than we expected. We must over come.
I believe all of this. I do. I embrace it. I try to live it. But sometimes life demands you stop. It slams on the brakes. If you don’t stop, you’ll crash. Thursday was one of those days for me. As I got out of the shower, I saw the look on Christian’s face. I hoped he wasn’t grumpy because we had a vacation waiting for us on the other side of the work day. When he opened his mouth and no words came out, I knew it was so much more. Then words came out, and I couldn’t comprehend them. Justin died. I made him repeat it over and over again. There was no way. Those two words never belonged together. We just talked. They just went surfing and had beers.
Justin wasn’t just a friend. He was our glue. He was the one person who could always steer Christian. He was honest. He was authentic. He saw the path people needed to take for themselves. He was light. He was an illuminator.
When Christian and I started to plan our wedding our biggest challenge was how we’d actually get married. Church isn’t our place. Getting married in a courtroom didn’t feel authentic to our marriage. We wanted intimacy. We wanted someone who knew us, saw us, and celebrated with us. Justin was that person. He married Christian and I on the beach 7 years ago. It was everything we wanted.
With tears I made it through the work day Thursday. Christian and I hazily packed up our truck and our kids, and we headed south. We were headed in the direction Justin had just headed days before.
This weekend was bitter sweet. For every squeal of delight as my boys caught wave after wave, a quiet sadness followed. All of a sudden being strong and courageous has no appeal. Chasing big dreams doesn’t matter. Existing in the small moments does. I’m embarrassed for ever claiming something bigger mattered more.
Saturday morning I headed out for my first long run of this training cycle. I had 8 miles to conquer. I made it a block. The feels-like temperature of 90 degrees at 6:00am took my breath away. I made it another block. Sadness clung to me. I ran one more block, and I gave in.
I’m sad. And it’s okay. I don’t have to be strong or brave. I don’t have to be anything other than sad. I walked for two miles. I reached out to a trusted friend. I sat on a bench overlooking the sound, and I let the wind blow away my tears.
I walked back to the beach house. I still let myself be sad.
Initially I felt defeated. All my teammates overcame the heat. They overcame their obstacles. They fought back, and they won. I lost. I gave in.
Today we took a detour on our way home. Every summer I say I want to climb to the top of a lighthouse. I never go. Today that changed.
Today more sadness clung to me. I learned of another loss with a nearly identical story to Justin’s: a medical emergency that ended in loss. Another illuminator in my life is gone. A person I secretly had a crush on is gone. The person who made me feel pretty during my divorce is gone.
I don’t think my boys realized how much I needed to see that lighthouse today, but I’m so grateful they all wanted to go. I needed to stand on the ground of a home that illuminates. I wanted to climb to the top to see a path before me. I wanted to share it with my boys.
Today as the weekend comes to end, I don’t care about 8 miles turned into a 2 mile walk. I don’t care about dreaming big or living large. Living small feels really important right now. Living exactly where I’m at feels really important right now.
I’m fortunate to have an office across the hall from my running coach. I’m also down the hall from my other running coach. I’m surround by mentorship and inspiration. I’m surrounded by people who shine their light on me. A day doesn’t pass that I’m not given a tidbit or a reminder of how to thrive. This work environment is nurturing me to be my best.
Before my first run of this training cycle I was reminded that my gift in life isn’t running. It’s not my writing. It’s my ability to connect. This training cycle is another opportunity to tell a story someone may need to hear.
Today all I want is to abandon being strong. I don’t want to show anyone that they can tough it out through hard times. I am not an example of overcoming. I am sad, I feel a hole in my being, and I walked 2 miles instead of running 8.
Today I’m existing. Today my existence includes sadness. This weekend getting out of bed and stepping outside took all my strength. I couldn’t run. I walked slowly. I allowed myself to be sad. I allowed fresh air to nurture me. That is all I had to give.
The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect. I’m not pacing this season. My friends are getting speedy. I’m slowing down. Now is the time to turn inward. It’s time for selfcare. It’s time for me to give to myself.
I’m craving small and real. I want meaning. I want to feel whatever the sunrise gives me. Last training cycle I want an exclamation point. This training cycle I want the empty space between paragraphs. I want the pause between moments.
Somehow I’m hitting pause and running a marathon. They don’t naturally go together. I’ll figure it out as I go.
Tomorrow morning is Day 1 of marathon training. I’m staring at the start line of a new chapter that I know will transform me. Marathon training has a way of stirring my soul. Every marathon has a story. I can’t wait to run my way through this one.
New York City Marathon Prologue: The Day before Training Begins.
I’ve lost confidence in my physical ability. My body feels weak. My running feels clunky. Staring at my training plan scares me.
How I got here doesn’t matter. How I move forward does. My challenge at the start of this training cycle is to meet myself where I’m at while allowing myself to grow. My challenge is to not look back and compare this training cycle to the other 3 marathons I have run. This marathon is new. The good and the bad of previous trainings have nothing to do with right now.
I know the only way to start this training cycle is to write. Words are how I face my emotions, yet my writing right now feels as awkward and as clunky as my running. While I know exactly how it feels to train for and run a marathon, I have no idea how this training cycle will go. While I know how to write, my words aren’t coming naturally right now.
And that’s okay! Starting this cycle feeling insecure about my physical ability is making me want to control every outcome. Isn’t this how it always work? When uncertainty appears, my need to control kicks in to overdrive.
Tomorrow is Training Day 1. I will tackle Day 1. I’ll put a check next to tomorrow’s workout. Then I’ll tackle Day 2. The only thing I can control is the moment I’m in.
Because of work obligations, I won’t be pacing for the J&A Racing Training Team this fall. While I’ve run for myself for years prior to pacing, the last two years I’ve been pacing others towards their goals. Running for myself feels forgeign again.
I’ve always relied on my running to fulfill all other aspects of my life. Running has made me a better wife and mom. It has pushed me to explore. It has given me friendships. It has given me success. For the first time ever, I’ll be relying on my confidence in other aspects of my life to fulfill my running. My confidence in every aspect of life has grown because of running. My career is blossoming because of running.
Running will be simply running. It will be just me and my running shoes tackling miles every week. I’ll be running simply for the joy of running. I’ll be running for me. This is new, awkward, clunky, and slightly terrifying. But tomorrow it begins. Tomorrow I start training.
It’s just running. I’ll find my stride. I’ll get there, but for now, it’s simply time to start.
“& often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little fatigue.” ~Brene Brown
It’s been a month sense I’ve felt the pull to write words of my own for myself. My brain has been full. My heart has been full. My mind has wander down endless roads of possibilities. My head has been creating structure and order as I’ve attempted to wrap my thoughts around this brand new job of mind.
It’s invigorating. It’s inspiring. It’s fun and challenging. It feeds my creative heart and my logical mind. It feels like home.
Like all new things, it’s consumed me. My sleep has been restless. My alarm clock is a new idea that pulls me from my sleep at 2am. Like all new things, I’m settling in. One moment I feel like I have everything under control. The next moment I realize I’ve forgotten to do at least a dozen things.
Yesterday on the day that our country celebrates it’s freedom, I crashed hard. The day started early with a sunrise run followed by yoga. Both fueled my spirit and brought me back to myself. The moment I got home and settled, my exhaustion came spilling out. I slept the day away. This morning I woke up ready. Tired but ready. Tired but free.
Something happens when life falls into place. It doesn’t happen all at once. Very rarely does every piece lay perfectly at the same time. But sometimes it does.
For a brief moment my life feels like an sunrise. The early wake up is exhausting, but it is always worth it to see the world come to life. Watching the dark sky turn to fire before the sun takes it’s position in the sky always leave me in awe. It’s a new beginning every single day.
This is where I’m at right now. The dark is turning to fire. I’m waking up. While words have been hard to find and my energy hasn’t been flowing towards this place of mine, I know my words are always here to guide. They are my true home. Sometimes words need quiet as much as I do. Sometimes they need fire. No matter their form or their volume, I know I’m exactly where I belong. I always have been. I always will be. The brilliance of each sunrise last for only moments. It happens every day, but the fire quickly fades to day.