Friday, September 10, 2010


They say there are people whose sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others. That may be cynical, it may be funny, it may also be true. A stressful day, a long week, a seemingly endless quest for a new spot in life can all be put into perspective when we stop wallowing long enough to listen to another. You may be frustrated by a 10-hour workday. Talk to a friend who has been jobless for 9 months. You may be bored to tears by the repetition of your same-thing-different-day routine. Listen to the girl whose brother is on life support in the hospital. You don't want to hear one more story about someone you know being sick, losing their job, or getting divorced. Then you realize you are healthy, employed, and have people who love you.

It's usually right in the thick of those trying, painful situations that we are told "everything happens for a reason." Is the reason ever simply to serve as a reminder to others? Is it fair that one suffer in order to help another see the good in their life? Perhaps reminding others of their good fortune is not the sole purpose of these heart-wrenching days and weeks.

There is more to it. These periods are a part of life. They teach us what it is to struggle, what it is to carry on, to put one foot in front of the other. They teach us hope, recognitition that eventually, some day, things get better. As long as we do not sit idly by and let the troubles repress us into inaction, we will come through it and this too shall pass. It teaches us resilience- shows us we are strong and capable of making it through the tough times. We are better able to savor the sweet parts of life once we have chewed the bitterness of tough times.

No one looks forward to the hard times. No one wishes them upon the people they love. But if we are lucky enough to have the people in our lives and the gratitude in our hearts to recognize what wonderful things fill each unique day, we can take every day as a gift, a lesson, and a blessing given only to us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Right Now

When I can't find the words, I never have to look farther than a song. Matt Wertz got it about right for me this week...

One eye on the clock, and one on the phone.
It's 5:19... I'm feeling alone.
If I could talk to you, I'd want you to know.
I'm holding loose, but ain't letting go.

We both know that I could think myself dizzy. Right now I'm spinning around.
You said "Baby don't worry."
But I just miss you right now.
I said I miss you right now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I have noticed something. Making the decision to make a change is exciting, exhilerating, energizing. Making changes is...tedious. When we finally identify something that we want to change in our lives- our job, our relationship, our weight, our diet- we can look at it and say, "I'm going to change that!" And it's exciting. Because when we leave our current job or get out of an unhealthy relationship or lose those 10 freakin' pounds and start eating lovely organic fruits and vegetables every day, the quality of our lives will improve exponentially. And it will happen immediately.

So we've made this great empowering decision and we know what we need to change. We may even have a plan; a great diet book, what we're going to do when newly single, the manageable "28 Days to a Bikini Body" workout plan from a magazine, complete with motivating images of a tan, cut, skinny model in bootie shorts, demonstrating squats on the beach. Now with the decision made, the next step is the one that trips many of us up... where do I start?

And it is here, in the job-site browsing, calorie-counting, breaking up that we question our great declaration that it's time for a change. Maybe things are okay the way they are. Maybe I'm making too much out of things. Maybe.

Or maybe we're too comfortable in our routines and too lazy to take the steps to make a positive change. It's hard work finding a new job. Finding a job, a company that's hiring, submitting resumes, going on interviews, talking to the right people, knowing if a company is right for you... all time consuming, often frustrating. We may stay in a relationship too long because the person knows us so well, and who on earth will I bring to Wednesday night bowling league? Who will keep me company on the couch three nights in a row when I just don't have the willpower to get dressed and go out? It will take so long to get to know another person's ins and outs the way I know this one's. And really, going to the gym 6 days a week? I mean, the scenery gets old and that is A LOT of sweaty laundry to add to the mix. And it usually means extra showers too.

THAT my friends, is why we accept the things that hold us back from living our best lives. It is hard work to make changes. It is uncomfortable to sit down and tell someone you care so much about that they are not the person who is going to be your best partner. It is hard to risk hurting someone's feelings. It is hard to put yourself out there as a job candidate and not get the position you wanted. It takes discipline and motivation to change the poor eating habits you've known for so long.

I am 100% guilty of this form of laziness. But really, when you get down to it, change doesn't have to be scary. It's just hard work, and hard work can't kill you, right? Sure, it may eat up some of your free time. It may mean a little less cake and a little more salad. It may mean sending 55 resume emails out. It may mean finally coming up with a time and place to have that 'it-isn't-you, it's-that-you're-not-who/what-I-need/want-you-to-be' conversation. But what do we have to lose?

A relationship that isn't giving us what we need? A position where we can't grow and challenge our full potential? Some weight? Three hours of trash TV on Wednesday nights?

In an age of entitlement and endless possibilities, a little more straightforward hard work and a few less questions are, in my mind, a very good thing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A race and a revelation

This past weekend, I ran my first half marathon. It was a beautiful day in a beautiful place. It was a challenge for which I had trained and prepared. I was excited, I was nervous, and I did it. I didn't come in first (I came in 13 minutes before the first full marathoner finished.) There wasn't a whole lot of noise or acknowledgement as I crossed the finish line. (I was about the 900th person to do so that day. I think the crowd was kind of used to it.) But I ran. I ran 13.1 miles up some intense hills (yes, there was some hill-walking involved). I ran without injury or stomach irritation (something I was very concerned about) and I enjoyed it. The one thing that bothered me, something I hadn't even really considered, was the moments after the race when there was no one there to celebrate with.

I entered the race with a friend- she was behind me in the pack. Another good friend came with us, to act as taxi-driver/emergency ambulance pick up. We were in the same city, within a 1 1/2 mile radius of one another. But there was no one there waiting to give me a hug. There was no familiar face smiling at me, no one who knew me to pat me on the back and say "Good job."

I didn't know I would need that recognition, that validation so badly. I didn't even realize until I spoke to my mother on the phone about 20 minutes after finishing. As soon as I heard her voice, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I had just achieved a major accomplishment- something on my life list of things to do, and I wanted someone who loved me to share it with me. It wasn't a vanity thing, I suddenly realized how important it is to me to share the important moments with people you love. It's an amazing thing to have someone who knows you and what you've gone through stand beside you as you accept the award, make the move, cross the finish line. Can you imagine giving birth alone? Nine months of excitement, planning, talking. All the worrying, speculating, anticipation, and then there is no one there to experience the power of bringing another life into the world?

I can't say the moment lost its meaning or its power. I was there. I did it. I felt the sense of accomplishment. I also felt like something was missing...something like a hug. There is something to be said for having someone by your side for the big moments. Someone to hold your hand, see your tears, mirror your smile. And really, it isn't even just the big stuff. Yes, the weddings, the funerals, Christmases, birthdays... sometimes the little stuff really is the big stuff. Sitting outside at dusk on the first warm night of spring. Taking a new car for its first road trip. An impromptu weekend with friends you haven't seen in a while. A crazy rainstorm that lasts for days. Running a local road race. We all have little moments. That's the stuff that life is made of. Everyone's moments are different, so while they may not be significant enough to write down on the calendar, they are important enough to remember who you shared them with.

When we look at our friends, our family, the people we love, I think that's what counts. Knowing there are people who love you, who you love, who care, and will share in those moments with you. They will bear witness to the moments- big and small- that make up your life. Hopefully they will appreciate the importance of those moments at the time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I get to live my life

I got a much-needed perspective check from an article in my running magazine the other day. The author talked about a shift in her mindset from all the things she "has" to do to all the things she "gets" to do. Instead of "having" to wake up, run, shower, go to work, pay bills, and make dinner, I "get" to do all of these things. I got to wake up today- to a thunderstorm, no less. I love laying in bed listening to the rain. It is by far one of the coziest, most soothing activities in life. I got to go for a run this morning. The sweet thunderstorm that greeted me at 5:45 am was nothing but puddles by 7 am when I stepped out my front door. The blessed pollen was rinsed from the cars, the greenest leaves were dripping, clouds were drawn aside to reveal a beautiful pink and blue morning sky. The humidity hinted at the heat of the day yet to come (97 in April?!)
I got to shower and eat breakfast (As someone who has lost hot water in the past month, I can appreciate this.) I got to go to work, strategize ways to improve our business, teach classes to some wonderful babies and preschoolers. I got to talk to the parents who make our business work.
I got to get some of the sun I've been so happy to see while I waited on the front steps for maintenance to let me in when I managed to forget my house key inside the apartment.

There are people who are laid up in a hospital, unemployed, sick, depressed, imprisoned, impoverished, dead- who are unable to do any of these things. They don't get to go to work and earn a paycheck each week. They aren't able to pay the bills that house and feed them. Their bodies are damaged and they aren't able to take a single step unassisted, much less run 3 miles.

I am so grateful for this attitude adjustment because it emphasizes one of the things I most want for my life: gratitude. Recognition of the many blessings I enjoy. Letting what I have be enough. Acknowledging my strengths and limitations and learning to be satisfied. To finish each day and be done with it, knowing that I gave everything I could and left it in a positive light.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunshine Love

I swear I'm not a hippie...

Warm weather, sunshine. Flowering trees, blooming flowers. Leaving the house with no coat, wearing shoes without socks. Longer days. Evening walks. The promise of summer. Someone to enjoy a sunset with. Bright blue sky, fluffy white clouds, and little yellow flowers scattered around the apartment.

Spring reminds me how quickly time moves- Christmas really was a long time ago. It has been almost a full year since last Summer. Things that were once far off are happening in a matter of weeks. People have moved in and out of my life, I have accomplished goals I set out to achieve and moved absolutely no closer to others. I can't say it really bothers me, because Spring brings such a glorious amount of hope and excitement with it, it's hard to feel anything but happy.

Yogis are sun worshippers- they salute the sun during their practice, thanking it for all the goodness and light it brings to the earth. It isn't a hard concept to understand. Whether watching the sun rise and shoot its first rays out on the world in the early morning, or lifting my face towards its sweet light in the early afternoon, I am intensely grateful to live in a place where the sun is shining on new, green life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gray Skies and Gratitude

There are days- like today- when I literally have to take a time out to list the things I'm grateful for in order to stop the complaining dialogue in my head.

I am grateful to live in a place where I am able to run indoors when the weather is not conducive to outdoor running for weeks on end. Dull as a treadmill or indoor track may be, it is far better than a place where every building has been reduced to rubble and you can no longer tell which street corner was once yours.

I am grateful to have people in my life that I can go to when I need a hug at the end of a long day. There are days when the person I want to hug may be states away, and no amount of kissing through the phone can compare to the sweetness of fresh dog breath kisses in your face, but I'm pretty lucky to have a few people within a few blocks that I can always go to for some comforting contact.

I grateful to have a job. Period.

I am incredibly grateful to have a body that functions as well as it does, with my senses intact. Try as I may, I cannot imagine my life without the soundtracks I am constantly making up or manipulating through radio stations. Music is so powerful- is has pumped me up, calmed me down, inspired me, kept me focused, and made me smile so many times, I think it would take an incredibly medicine cabinet of prescriptions to handle all the things my itunes does for me. If I weren't able to see the familiar faces and the sweet smiles I do each day, I wonder if my life would be less rich. Not to be able to see those smudgy colors at first light or the sparkly light through the leaves in late afternoon or the amazing patterns in the clouds as the sun goes down saddens me, and I am so grateful I am able to see them now. (In theory, if there were leaves on the trees. Or sun. Anywhere.)

I have an amazing family. Fantastic friends. A steady paycheck. A really great dog...several states away. And a really comfy bed. What's a little bad weather?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Running it out

There is something soothing in the challenge. There comes a point where it's all in sync: breathing in and out, pumping arms, the rhythm of feet hitting the ground.

I've never actually been through a 12-step program, but I feel like there are certain stages I experience on every long run. There's always a stretch of time (usually in the beginning, hopefully more than once) when I feel good. I feel strong, like this run will be no big deal. I'm loving the music in my ears, the strength I feel in my body, the pace I'm keeping. I am optimisitic and conditioned. I am a runner. Somewhere around this time, I usually find my grateful moment. Grateful to be in a position to appreciate the great outdoors, the joys of exercise, and the glory of calorie-burn. There is the tired point. My limbs feel heavy. I feel impossibly slow. I can't get the breath deep enough into my lungs to feel relief. There is a lost in my thoughts to the point I've forgotten what I'm doing stretch. I enjoy this part of the run because I'm usually surprised when I realize how far I've run without noticing (unless I'm doing laps, in which case I've completely lost count.) This is the time when I stop focusing on my body and go inside my head. A sort of exploration of the subconcious happens and I work through problems, wonder about things, and often get some anger out. Things I won't ever confront head on in life, I'm able to throw down on the ground and run over to some degree of satisfaction. There are surges of energy- sometimes tied to the next song on the playlist, sometimes directly related to who may be watching, sometimes a simple bargain struck: sprint to that corner and you can have a drink. There is the relief, usually at the end when I slow down and feel the heat in my face. Then, a few minutes later there is the pride. I did it. Let's do it again.

I may never run fast, I may never run pretty. I certainly hope that I always run, even if only for the brief therapy session it affords me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Better People

"It has always seemed to him that after living another twenty-four hours, you ought to be a better person than you were when the day began."

This quote hit me between the eyes when I came across it in a book I was reading. I wrote it down. I underlined it and earmarked the page to be sure the next reader didn't miss such a wonderful sentiment. I don't know how many people start their day with the thought that when they crawl back into bed at night, they should be better. How well we all would sleep if we could turn the lights out knowing we had improved the quality of our selves by some increment each day.
What if we ended each day a better person than we started it?

In order to determine the steps to becoming a better person, one must inevitably examine their own "opportunities for growth", as our workplace evaluations like to refer to them ("flaws" is another term often used.)

I realize I spend a good deal of time musing, analyzing, planning, and far less time actually doing. I think if I were to jump in and start working on things, I might learn a bit in the process and be closer to achieving my goals than my current system of considering all possible options and finally going with one when I just can't think any longer.

I want to be more considerate. Every year, without fail, I resolve to stop cutting people off mid-sentence. It is so rude. I might as well say- "My thought is more important/interesting/relevant than yours." (I would defend myself by explaining my ditsy-self's tendency to forget thoughts not immediately verbalized, but there really is no good excuse for poor manners. My mother raised me better.) I think I will let the Golden Rule be my guide on this one, and simply make a more concentrated effort to do unto others as I would have done to me.

I want to be productive. I want to get out of the habit of making things routine. I make a pointed effort to streamline my days and make my weeks more predictable (read: comfortable), I create little routines for each day, each segment of my life. Working out, packing lunches, staff meetings, groceries. With so many routines, there aren't a lot of fresh experiences to be had. Each day comes with it's own set of experiences and challenges, but in general, I feel I almost fight adopting new things in my job. I want to be the kind of person who embraces change and is open to new things. By learning and trying new things constantly, I can only become a more-educated, well-balanced, open person. Right?

At the end of the day, I feel like my best self when I have done what someone needed me to do and I am spending time with the people I care most about. I can only see people as much as time and geography will allow, I can give my best effort at anything I try. If I can do that in all of my waking hours, I may be able to become a better version of myself.