Monday, April 24, 2017

Social media and running

            I have long ago stopped caring who has unfriended me on Facebook due to my excessive running-related posts. Facebook is a microcosm of humanity and as in real life, we have all kinds on there. We have the Jesus posts, the food posts, the "look at my cute baby" posts, the teen bathroom selfie posts....oh, they are all perfect just the way they are. So I figured, if someone walks out of my life because I annoyed them with my harmless running posts, maybe that's actually a good thing. 

          Now, more important to me on FB are the people whom I inspire and in turn, the people who inspire me. There are days when I may not feel up to doing a workout and that very day someone posts all their pictures of some epic hike and that alone pushes me to get out there too. 

           Today on Facebook,  at 7am, I posted about a 2-minute PR in my 5K time along with a photo of me gleaming with happiness. I doubt most of my 500+ FB friends even know what a PR means, but I don't care. The few who do will find it interesting or inspiring, some might scroll by, some might be curious enough to Google it.....but none of those outcomes are things I bother thinking about whatsoever. I simply find it essential to put it out there and not worry too much about how it's taken. It's important to, as Seth Godin says, "just show up". I also find it even more important that someone like me, a curvier runner, to show up so that others just like me in size or age can see that it is possible to keep on moving. 

So yes, this morning I did run a 2-minute PR on my 5K and I wanted to scream out my success on the treadmill, but I could not. I wanted to scream about it in the gym shower, but obviously, that would not be seen an media allowed me to share it at 7am, when even my own family was still in bed. 

Happy running everyone. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friendship and running

               Friendship has been on my mind a lot lately. 

               First, in a week, a friend I had way back in 5th grade is coming to run a long distance race locally and is spending a few days in my home with her hubby. I know, that is 33+ years ago, but we have so much in common and I cannot wait to chat it up with her. We are both runners, we both are married to runners, we both love to garden, we even both harvest our own dandelions; which we then consume, we both love dogs, and are attracted to simple things and, last, and not surprisingly, we are both very outspoken. Second, That same weekend happens to also be my longtime friend's birthday and I could not be luckier to have this woman beside me in life. She is the one person I can call, besides my hubby, any time of the day or night and she will guide me through the deepest, darkness times without a second thought. I surely wish a friend like that on everyone and can only hope I am as good a friend to her as she is to me. 
                  When I was younger I thought having more friends, than less, was a great thing to aspire to, 'the more the merrier, I'd think,' I'd do a terrific job groveling, begging and morphing myself in so many different me's just to be that all-supportive friend to as many people as possible, regardless of what they offered me, friendship-wise. Back then, even friends who'd toss me, figuratively, 'crumbs', would deserve my fullest attention. Back then, I could not afford to lose even the crappiest of friends, I was so afraid to be alone that the fear alone lit a fire under me to be a huge sucker. I'd sit up hours listening to miserable, divorcing women friends, who'd know nothing about me personally, or never even bothered to ask me about me. They'd drone on and on about their tragedy. They'd demand all sorts of help and support in their time of need and hardly knew me. I'd make their priorities my priorities, their emergencies my emergencies regardless of whether these priorities even mattered to me or whether they'd ever do the same for me. I'd remain friends with women who'd outright exclude me on girlfriend outings then, during future group gatherings, share in my presence all the details of their outings, as if I had no feelings to be hurt. I remember laboring for hours making entire meals for friends to only be rudely advised on my weight or told how my meal was not balanced. I'd stupidly pay out-of-pocket for take-out for friends going through things only be told how miserable they are that they're not elsewhere or with someone else at the time. So you see, I've had my share of crappy, inconsiderate, self-serving friends and at 43, I am done being that all-supportive friend. You see, I know I am a great friend, but I am not a social service, there is a difference. I may be a little absentminded and maybe a bit lacking in some areas(or a lot), but overall I am a solid, faithful, bulldog of a friend. I just want more because I know I deserve more. There is a very wise saying that goes something like this, "It's Much Better To Be Alone Than To Be With Someone Who Makes You Feel Lonely"
                 Not surprisingly, and opposite to my younger opinion, the secret to happiness comes from drastically whittling this list of friends down, down, down...and even more down. As I get older I have learned to become wiser in selecting friends. One simple defining factor in selecting these friends have been their actions, nothing more, nothing less. Just because someone calls themselves your friend does not make them a friend. Nope. It's a nice sentiment, but to be a friend, a true friend, you actually have to act like one too, not just part-time, not just in some areas, not just when it's convenient, but full-time, all the time. 
                  But I am sure you are asking yourself about now, "How does running and friendships come together?". Running has taught me to not fear being alone. In training for a race, I spend hours upon hours alone and I have gotten to really know me and like me. So, I no longer fear aloneness, in fact, I revel in it; and in the midst of all the business in life right now, I actually crave it. If left to my own devices, I will always be totally and utterly content, doing some creative activity or another. Freedom from any fear of being alone is liberating and empowering at the same time. But running has also taught me another great lesson in friendships, it's helped me know how to keep focus on my goal of finding my own inner peace in the face of extreme discomfort. You see, running is not a comfortable sport. On any given run, pain comes, pain goes and while you run you know this fact and despite knowing that pain comes you just continue on, fully trusting that just as easy as pain came, it will leave.          
                Therefore, I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life. Full of genuine loving friends and relationships that energize, not drain, inspire not drag you down. I feel so blessed to have so many amazing, strong, brave, and inspiring women in my life who both lift me up and fill me with love.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The one constant...

           I have never had a doctor tell me I suffer from depression but I know I have a recurring case of sadness in me that comes in strong waves a few times a year. Perhaps others around me reach this type of indescribably low levels of contentment too and maybe just don't show it. Perhaps, even all of us go through this but keep it to ourselves and deal with it privately. Whatever it may be, I do know that when these waves of sadness present themselves in me they overshadow everything, absolutely everything. Like a thick, dark fog, all positive accomplishments in my life, my loving husband, my two amazing kids, my exciting career, they all seem wiped clean and the feeling of being trapped settles in every crevice, every thought, every act. 
         Thankfully, running has been the ONE constant, the one source of balance in my life and as long as my legs are working I know I will be fine. I wish I could explain how or why running helps with depression, but all I know is that it helps. I am going through one of these such moments right now and despite the lack of positive feelings the one task I know, without question, I MUST do is hit the gym, hard. Today, because we had to travel back home to Virginia from NY I could only squeeze in a fast 5K before packing the car. Now, I would have preferred to do five miles, but 3 did the job. I feel so incredibly blessed to have a key, a key to help me get out of my own head, a key to free me from this relentless shadow which seems to always be lurking, threatening to show itself unexpectedly. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

what these old sneakers have taught me


         Every time I tell anyone how old my running sneakers are the first thing they tell me is how dangerous it is to not buy new sneakers every 6 months or change them every 300-400 miles, or how my knees will come apart under me....blah, blah, blah. But I've had these now for years...yes, you read correctly....years. I've run 2, maybe three marathons in them (plus the training) and they are the most comfortable sneakers ever. So until my body tells me different, or the soles fall apart, I am running in these some more, period. 

               Reflecting on my sneakers and my experience with people in relation to them has made me realize an important lesson. The lesson is that people cannot make you feel embarrassed about anything, unless you allow it. You see, I am not a single bit embarrassed about wearing old, torn sneakers, they are comfortable, my feet don't hurt in them and they dry almost immediately when they become wet. Yet, most people that notice them will often immediately feel embarrassed....for me. Because my feelings towards my shoes and feet are so wrapped up in my primary focus, comfort and painlessness, I hardly ever entertain these comments. I realized only after several such incidents that I could utilize this newfound wisdom in other parts of my life. 

                 I think what I am getting at here is a growing ability to disconnect and question what society says is okay, acceptable, and normal and instead asking myself what's feels okay, acceptable and normal and going with that primarily........The more we disconnect from these societal weights, if you may, the lighter we feel. A good example of this for women is society's definition of a what it means to be a lady or society's definition of what female sexuality is all about, or what a marriage should look like or even what it means to be an older woman. As I grow into an older, wiser version of myself I begin to question all these very traditional ideas and labels made for women (and men) and I find them too heavy to carry into my new me. For example, I've learned that the word "lady", for example, carries too many hidden strings and directives, so I do not ever aim to be one. I've learned that female sexuality does not need anyone else there to unleash its power, it stands on its own too. Marriage too has been heavily defined by society causing all sort of conflicts and suffering between what reality is and what one has learned marriage should be. Last, I have learned that I am just getting started on this journey....Others' understanding of where we are and what we do with the short time we have here must never be guiding posts or maps for our own future.