January 2016

Running Is My Church

Running is my church.

I’m not a religious person, but, if I had to describe myself, I would say that I am a spiritual person. I believe that there is something out there that is nudging us in the right direction. I’m not sure what it is, but my gut tells me that it’s there. I don’t need to go to a church every Sunday to know that it’s there. I don’t need to pray to it to thank it for the life that I’m living. That’s not what I need, and it understands.

Becoming an adult is hard. If you’re lucky, you made it through your childhood in one piece and with a sense of what your future holds. Then you’re on your own as an adult. You have to take care of yourself and nothing is what you expected it to be. Even if life seems fine, without warning, you can feel completely lost and overwhelmed.

Before I started running, I was in a lonely, uncertain place. My life seemed OK on the surface, but I was not happy. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I knew that I needed to figure out what was happening to make me feel that way and where I was heading. I was asking myself what I was doing with my life and why was I doing it. I felt lost.

It took me awhile to find running, but, when I found it, I found my answers and myself. Running didn’t (and doesn’t) come easily to me. When I started, I hadn’t run since high school. I had to start from scratch. I had to focus on every movement, every breath. It hurt. It sucked. And I loved it.

They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

— Tom Bodett

Running helps me to understand who I am and why I am here. Running helps me to connect with the world in an unplugged way, and, for that, I am grateful. With each step, I build confidence: I am doing this. With each new distance achieved, I reinforce that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to do. With each run, I get faster and stronger and better. I am doing this.

Running allows me to let go of whatever is bothering me. It allows me to focus on where I fit in the Universe. When I run, I am in the moment and everything seems clear. When I start to feel lost again, I remind myself that I need to reconnect, I need to run.

Most days, I struggle with admitting that I am a real runner. I feel like I don’t run frequently or fast enough to be considered a runner, but, of course, if you run, you are a runner. No other qualifications are needed.

Running will forgive me for turning away from it, and it will welcome me back when I’m ready to hit the road again. It will remind me why I am here. It will remind me of the person that I am and the one that I am becoming. It will remind me that life is good and great things are on the horizon waiting for me. I just need to be patient and take it one step at a time.

It is time to go back to church.

Unpause

Sunset on 99

In December 2010, I participated in the first and only Reverb. Through daily writing prompts, Reverb encouraged reflection on the past year. One of my favorite prompts from that activity was, and still is, “one word.” For this particular prompt, you choose one word or a simple phrase to help shape and guide your actions in the new year. I have chosen a word for each year ever since. I cannot, however, tell you what my words were for each year or if they helped in any way.

Clearly, choosing my “one word” for the year has worked very well for me. Ahem.

2011 was the Year that Started out Kind of Awesome then Started to Suck. 2012 was the Year of Suck. 2013 was the Year of All the Awesome Things. 2014 was the Year I Hit Pause. 2015 was the Year Everything Remained Paused then Quickly Fast-Forwarded at Warp Speed to the Present.

For 2016, I wanted to choose a word that encompasses my overall goal: to stop living on hold, to get back to business in the health department, to resume living normally, etc. At first, I tried to choose a word that was clever. No luck. Then I tried to choose an action word. They all sounded false or forced. Then I realized that I had already chosen my word for this year way back at the beginning of last year when I was extremely frustrated in my job search. My life was paused while I waited for anyone, anywhere to hire me so that I could get back to my normal life.

2014 and 2015 were paused, so it should be no surprise that I am choosing to unpause in 2016.

Yes, I know that, technically, unpause is not a real word. I also, technically, don’t care. It’s my word.

Everything has been on hold since the day I found out the company I was working for was closing in eight short days. At first, I continued to live normally because I really didn’t think it would take 16 months to get a full-time, permanent position. Oh how naïve I was. I am well educated. I have a lot of professional experience. I have great references. I also happen to be overqualified for the majority of the jobs available in my area. And I was afraid – afraid of making the wrong decision and hating my job, afraid of ending up at another company that would close only a year after I was hired.

As time wore on and I remained in (un)employment limbo, I began to subtract. I stopped planning to do anything that required knowing what I’d be doing in the next month, six months, or year. I tried to spend as little money as possible, knowing that savings accounts are not infinite and feeling guilt with every dollar spent. I stopped taking care of myself beyond the bare minimum because it, too, made me feel guilty, like I was wasting time and money that could be better spent.

Fast-forward.

At the end of June, I finally accepted a job that didn’t make me feel like I was making a huge mistake. Now it is five and a half months later, and I am still living as if my life is paused.

And that stops now.

Do you choose a word to help shape your goals for the year?