Category Archives: Deeper thoughts via running

Stars In The Night

I think that I am going to let this song, STARS IN THE NIGHT by Tenth Avenue North be the narrative for the past 6 months. It will put ‘grand/lofty/high’ words behind this chapter for the past 6. months. It is so hard to communicate the lows without the lows sounding too desperate. It was, at times, heart breaking and hopeless but I refused to give up, I reached out, I spoke out and God refused to let me give in.

No matter where you lead
We wanna follow you
The trouble is we forget who we belong to
We chase the wind and tides
We chase the reasons why
Chase the spark inside each other’s eyes
Desires are at war
We want that final shore
Sailing on until we find what we’ve been looking for

December and January were a blur. On many nights, I found myself driving around downtown sitting in my car, in the absence of sound. Looking at the stillness of the lights. The cold nights brought fewer people than most months. Gosh, like in search of stillness. In search of numbness.

We fix our eyes on what we know is true
Even in our shame grace makes a way through
We are obsession, a constellation
You are light in and out of every season
So we keep pressing on
With our redemption song
No one can undo what you’ve done

February and March: What I learned to be true was that I am not hopeless. I went to the doctor to see if I could change my antidepressant. I cannot say enough of the steadfastness of my friends. There were some days I did not know what I wanted or needed. To have the freedom to be vulnerable and the freedom to be me. . . that is what they gave me.

Hallelujah
We’re running to you
On fire from the mercy in your eyes
And through the dark
Singing we are yours
Your love will lead us through the fight
Like stars in the night

April and May: It was like I was moving out of the “fog”. I had more clarity. I felt like I had more choices (even though I had these choices all along.) I decided to stop attending my “broken and beloved” study. I went back to my doctor to alter my prescription again. I made an appointment with my therapist to catch up and get some clarity. I am for sure feeling more like myself. More enthusiasm, more energy, less sadness, less crying.

More living. . . less wilting It is strange to not feel like yourself. Stress is a powerful thing. From December to early April I was in constant “fight or flight” mode. What is a healthy response to fear/danger became stuck in the “on” position. Instead of saving our lives, it can contribute to insomnia, depression, panic attacks, and a host of other health concerns. Instead of being a life-preserver, it can wreak havoc on our health, performance, and quality of life (Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald, “Is Your Stress Response Stuck in the ‘On’ position?”).

I believe that it took my husband, my friends, my doctor, my therapist, my God and my self to REFUSE to give up or give in. To anyone reading, who is in a desperate place, a dangerous place, a dark place. . . there is absolutely hope, and it is not just one thing. It is a combination of support that can bring a powerful change. It is not easy to reach out or to be vulnerable, but I have no regrets. Life is tough sometimes. We are all wired differently. I just refuse to stop fighting!!

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Broken and Beloved: Chairs

What if God allows brokenness to bring us into closer relationship with Him? What if the pain is to reshape us to understand how beloved we truly are? You will learn how to build a compassionate and Christ-based identity out of difficult experiences or past shame using biblical study, psychological principles, and art therapy. Includes teaching and small group processing.

-Jill Baird, “Broken and Beloved

 

Several months ago, I was working on a chart in my Broken and Beloved group that began with a particular “event”. That event triggered an emotional response in me that I was not expecting. 

My “trigger” was an incident involving a close relative. In that moment, I was replaying everything that I have watched for several months. I was replaying,  watching her in the beginning of this relationship and how loved she is by my husband, how beautiful she is, how smart she is, how capable she is, how independent she is and in that moment I was afraid . . . because . . . in her anger/selfishness she was “going to lose it all”.  She was getting ready to lose and throw away EVERYTHING that I never had. . .  at her age: beauty, independence, talent, intelligence, the love of her dad, the love of someone who thinks she hung the moon and then some. . . 

Then, I took these thoughts/feelings to a “circle chart”. The chart has 3 circles: vulnerable self, critical self, ideal self. The intersection of these 3 circles is a “dotted-line” heart, the healthiest of all 3.

This was an emotional activity for me, because I explored and challenged all of the thoughts that I had in that moment with her.  As I explored those, I uncovered MORE. I uncovered deeper. (After this day, I cried all day and had the worst headache.)

The following week, I took the thoughts and feelings that I wrote on my circle chart and volunteered to process them openly. . .  There were 4 chairs: vulnerable self, ideal self, critical self, coach.

 I took 3 shards of glass/pottery from our first group meeting when I broke a piece of pottery/glass into chards with a hammer, as an activity to express a “shattering” to eventually display these pieces as “broken and beloved”. On each piece, I wrote down 3 things from my “trigger” event that stood out. THEN, I chose one of the pieces to bring to the chairs. WHOA. I chose, “you are going to lose it all.” My eyes got giant as I moved toward the chairs, not sure what to expect. 

I moved from chair to chair and looked at the chair as I talked to that particular part of myself. I took what I felt in the moment of the trigger event, she was getting ready to lose and throw away EVERYTHING that I never had. . .  at her age: beauty, independence, talent, intelligence, the love of her dad, the love of someone who thinks she hung the moon and then some. . .  and spoke those out loud to myself. At times, it was hard to speak without crying. It hurt to hear these things. These things. . . I would tell myself in private in hope that I would stimulate a change. . . were now being exposed. It made me sad to think that I felt this way about myself. The most vulnerable part of myself was scared and afraid and being silenced.

 I yelled at my critic to stop being mean, that she was hurting the vulnerable self. I told my vulnerable self that she was beautiful and she was going to be okay.  I looked at my critic and told her that she was going to be alright too. On some level, each part was hurting and scared. Each part needed to know that she was going to be okay.

And suddenly, she found herself grateful. Grateful for all the darkness and the heartbreak because it allowed her to recognize true love when she found it. And she knew without a doubt, that all the broken, shattered, forgotten pieces of her soul were worth putting back together again.

-Megyn Blanchard

2017: Lows-Highs-Lows

When you start to feel like things should have been better this year, Remember the mountains and valleys that got you here. They are not accidents. And those moments weren’t in vain. You are not the same. You have grown and you are growing. You are breathing, you are living. You are wrapped in endless, boundless, grace, and things will get better. There is more to you than yesterday.

-Morgan Harper Nichols

It is pretty difficult to sum up 2017 in a blog post. What a year! 2017 was filled with extreme highs and lows. There was no neutral ground to life this year. I know it’s changed me. I’m not sure how, yet. Good news, though, I’m still standing.

The lows. . . my parents moved. . . my birthday, merged into Christmas. . . Christmas. . . eating too much. . . eating too little. . . learning hard parts about my story. . . re-living hard parts about my story. . . forgetting self care. . . trying to make people happy. . . “managing” (ie., “controlling”) other people’s lives. . .

The highs. . . my running. . . my training. . . my friends. . . 46 years of life. . . Broken and Beloved. . . Mogollon Monster 100 . . resort living for 2 days. . . Savage Gulf. . . Stage Race. . . Leona Divide. . . Lookout Mountain 50. . .

Looking forward with faith that God will go ahead of me into 2018.

Reminded by looking back that he was ahead of every. single. day. of 2017. I’m thankful that I did not have a glimpse of 2017. As MUCH as I want to see the future. He protected me. He walked ahead of me.

Not sure I’ve wrestled with God (like Jacob), but I definitely have a limp.

Just glimpses of heaven, Lord, not tomorrow. Just glimpses of forever. I’ll be actively looking for impressions of heaven as I move into 2018.

 

Storms, rainbows, self care

I woke up Sunday morning crying. I was hurting. I was not exactly sure what I needed but I did not want to go anywhere and I did not want to be around anyone. I asked my husband if he and the kids could go to church without me. I needed to have space to cry, uninterrupted. Cry without worrying my kids. Cry without my husband worrying about me. I laid down and cried. . . sad tears, angry tears, tears of loss, tears of uncertainty. . .

<<Sob>>  that’s what it was. . . sobbing.

Fortunately, in the raging storm of sadness, the rainbow of God’s overpowering love would intermittently light up the sky. Dazzling multicolored ribbons of light waves exploding from heaven to earth never come on cloudless days. They are impossible without the same wind and moisture that causes darkness and gloom. The same raindrops falling from the sky become prisms for the rays of light to reveal their true colors. Rainbows are always around us–they are just invisible without sadness in the sky. The same nerve endings that allow you to feel the pain of searing loss also allow you to feel God’s presence and his glory to a degree that previously could not have been reached. When you don’t numb the hurt but rather grit your teeth and face it, God meets you there and allows the deep trough of your sorrow to become a reservoir full of his presence.

Levi Lusko, “Swipe Right: The Life-And-Death Power of Sex And Romance”

God will stop at nothing to heal my broken soul. That means it might hurt. I kept a notebook by my bed, open to the page where I wrote, I know that you are here. I know that you are with me.

To stop yourself from grieving because it’s against the rules or because you think it shouldn’t hurt so much leaves you emotionally stunted and numb.

-Liz Seda, “We Have A Right To Grieve Losses Big and Small”, tinybuddha.com

Own the grief to the fullest. Do not let the messages or discomfort of people around you keep you from this. They may want you to pull it together and get yourself under control so they will feel comfortable.

-Robert Burney. “Heal Your Inner Child.com”

I am learning about self compassion, self care, meeting the needs of myself when I am in an emotional, sad place. In a place where I am stuck emotionally. Being kind to myself. There are many different ways to show self care. Here are mine.

protect my boundaries. . . defend them in the trenches if I need to

have a safe place to land (spouse)

have a friend who is your safe place to express, share emotions

Ask for what you need, no matter how silly or unimportant it might sound to others.

Time alone to cry. It is difficult to be sad around my kids.

seek advice of a professional

involve others in the care of you (me) & ask

Finally. . . 

Grief is a strange and new thing to me. I am better. I am getting better. Thank you to the women in my life who have listened, who have cried. . . without judgement, sharing my journey to an unknown destination (still on course). You, ladies, have been completely willing to end up where I need to go. You have given me your heart. You have not controlled me. You have offered unconditional support.

 

 

Racing My Demons

Some battle their demons everyday. Some battle them once in a while.

On the days that you are being lied to by your demons and pushed around. . . Push back. Be brave. Take up the fight. You are worth it.

What is holding you back?

I woke up this morning, per usual. I’m first up. I wake the girls up and make sure they get downstairs. I prepare breakfast for them. We pray. They eat and get dressed. Jack wakes up on his own. He gets his breakfast and sits with me, while I eat mine. The girls and I leave for school by 6:50a. Jack and I walk to the bus stop, when I get back from dropping off the girls. This is everyday, rain or shine, light or dark. I do not have to think about it and I never do.

I’ve been keeping myself pretty busy lately and I think it is on purpose. Not a day goes by when someone does not ask me, “how are you?” My answer is almost always, “fine, great, or good”. It’s an automatic response, like one of those “out of office replies”.

Do you go through periods of time where you don’t know how you are or what you feel? Maybe, because you’re pushing it away with tasks, busy-ness, fear?

After the kids left, I headed upstairs to get dressed to run. I went through three running outfits. (This is not like me.) Because I was feeling fat, ‘I had nothing to wear’. Finally, I decided fat or not, outfit number three was it. I kissed Byron goodbye.  Got in the car. I quickly reminded myself again that fat is not a feeling. Then, I listen to these lyrics.

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking
This is the unmaking

I’ll gather the same stones where                                                   
Everything came crashing down
I’ll build You an altar there
On the same ground

‘Cause what stood before
Was never Yours (Nichole Nordeman, “The Unmaking”)

Lord. . . help me to find beauty in the breaking.

Help me to find the one who calls me beloved in my broken place. . . . In Jesus’ name.

My demons? Today?

“You are not enough”

“You cannot feel loved”

“You are fat”

Demons are excellent shape shifters and can morph from one torturous form to another in the blink of an eye. . . You courageously soldiered on. It was not easy or fun, but you persevered, even when you thought the pain would never stop. Slowly but surely, it abated. At first, you may not have even noticed the subtle lessening of your anger, anxiety, or grief, but as the weeks and months wore on you started to feel more alive and open. That resiliency supports you through every challenge, allowing you to stretch beyond what you thought your limits were, and finding more capacity to bear what you thought was unbearable.

-Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, HSM, “How to Face Your Demons

  I decided to race them. To run hard. To be out of breath. To run steep. To see if I could hang on for the win. 10 miles.

Oh. They were fast and relentless. If I slowed down or walked for a second, I would hear them taunt me.  I ran longer. I pushed harder.  I climbed steeper.  They fell further back. Their lies became muffled. I dropped them, and they never caught me. I won the workout. I beat the doubt. I beat the lies. I beat the fear. I beat the demons.

I started to imagine what my demons looked like. I imagined them running after me. How tall? What shape? Their faces? I KNOW my readers can all relate to THIS. . . they were Me: taunting, lying, chasing. . . ME. . . I am my harshest critic. I am my meanest demon. Today. . . I won. I received this song from a friend. I love it.

When it feels like surgery
And it burns like third degree
And you wonder what is it worth?
When your insides breaking in
And you feel that ache again
And you wonder
What’s giving birth?

If you could let the pain of the past go
Of your soul
None of this is in your control

If you could only let your guard down
You could learn to trust me somehow
I swear, that I won’t let you go

lyrics by Switchfoot, “I Won’t Let You Go”

There is hope on our journey, friends. There are people and places that soothe, heal, calm, and hold us. I have a life full of people and places that I go to when these struggles  rear their ugly, lying heads. And, NO DOUBT, I have a Savior in Heaven who says to me, “I swear, that I won’t let you go.”

 

 

 

 

Footfalls

The challenge of Wednesday’s run was each footfall. My path was steep, muddy, and dirty. Each footfall was different. Each footfall was a challenge. I had to change my running mechanics, if I wanted to remain upright. I had to slow down in places to pull my foot out of the mud. I had to hop in places from rock to rock. I had to walk in places so that I would not slip.

Isn’t this like life?. . . our paths can be steep, muddy, dirty. . .  We chose marriage, but we don’t chose cancer. We choose to have children, but we would never chose to bury them. We chose to love our family, but we do not chose to watch one of the members die. We choose the heights of love, but do not wish to navigate the heartache that comes with loving a person.. . . we have to slowdown, change, hop, walk,  when we’d rather run. . .

Most often in training (running), I choose the steep places, the dirty places, the out of breath places because they tend to be quiet places, listening places. . . hard. . . places. I always finish. I may be extra dirty. I may be extra tired. I finish carrying mud or scars. The dirt, mud, exhaustion and scars will go away. Scars, more slowly than the other three. Sometimes the scars remain indefinitely. 

The steep places do not get easier. I get more adapted. They do not become less dirty. I bring something to wipe away the dirt. The mud depends on the day. The scars?  I still get cut and bruised. I become better at taking care of my wounds.

My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.

-Steve Goodier

Back at 2016/Forward to 2017

January was a tough month for me. I ran. I ran long. I ran hills. I ran high mileage weeks,  but it was more struggle than success. I think part of my lack of motivation and my lukewarm attitude was NOT looking back and NOT having a named goal to look forward to.

Looking back, 2016 was one of my most exciting running years to date. Here are the highlights.

  1. Running alongside one of my closest friends,  as she crossed the finish of her first (and not last) 50 miler in Tillamook, OR.
  2. Running my first and NO WAY near last 100 miler (surrounded by not one but four of my closest friends). Proud to be one of the 82 finishers. Proud to be one of 22 female finishers!
  3. Running Lookout 50 on my 45th birthday. This year it was a crazy weather day: rain, fog, and drizzle. I placed first in my age group. Happy Birthday to me. 🙂

The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order the continuous thread of revelation.

-Eudora Welty

Looking ahead to 2017

  1. (April) Leona Divide 50 in Green Valley, CA. The race start is 1 1/2 hours from LA, 30 minutes from Palmdale (where I was born). 46 MILES on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT). Should be SWEET.
  2. (September) Mogollon Monster 100 in Pine, AZ. As of February 2017, only 5 women are signed up. Should be an adventure. Cannot wait.
  3. (December) Lookout 50? or Stillhouse 100K?
  4. (TBD) My coaching website!! This is a lot of work. I am excited.

It is important to look back.

Look back because you aren’t the same person you were one or three or five years ago and that alone is worth realizing. Look back because there might have been feelings that you once overlooked that now make perfect sense. Look back because maybe, just maybe, there is something worth revisiting. And look back because you deserve to be incredibly proud of how far you’ve come.

-Morgan Scoyne “How Looking Back Will Help You To Move Forward”

I’m ready to look forward.

My goals for 2017 are  part destiny, part legacy, and part discovery.