Identification

During this time off from all the running I tend to do, there has been a lot of time for me to THINK….about running! Hah! Funny isn’t it? Anyhow, I realized the other day after several conversations with other friends who run – WE ARE RUNNERS. Seems simple right? There is more to it than that however.

When we are running we are thinking or talking about running and other facets of our lives that pertain to running or training for this event or another; we are speaking in short sentences about what kinds of foods we eat to make us better runners (we hope); we are laughing about the most recent escapade we encountered on the trail when we ate something in the previous 24 hours that we really should NOT have; we are planning out loud or with our running friends the events we are signed up to run next or those which we would give a leg or at least a few toenails TO run…

We are not thinking about the bills that need paying, the kids that won’t stop crying or stomping on our very last nerve; the car that needs repairs, the assignment for school or work that needs completion……or perhaps we are thinking of these aspects of our running lives but if so it is taking place behind the lines of all the stuff going on inside our brains that pertains to running. Sometimes, all I can think about is the next breath, the next step, watch that nasty trail troll  – you know it’s going to try to trip you; don’t run so closely to ND’s heels; don’t run too far behind – you will never catch up. Most recently running solo the thoughts are mostly – arrrgh this sucks getting back the base I lost from NOT running due to injury.

What does this have to do with the title: identification? Great question! We ARE runners….5K’s, 10K’s, half-marathon, full marathon, 50K, 100K…and 100 milers, plus – we run. That is not only WHAT we do but is also one way we identify WHO we are. I’ve truly enjoyed this sense of belonging to a community of brethren I’ve not really experienced since I left the military over a decade ago. These people, runners, are a different lot – especially those who tend to run the trails rather than the road. What a great breed of people!! Most of them are truly in touch with their person-hood and who they ARE as people. They will give you the shirt off their backs, sometimes literally…it’s a brotherhood I identify with to a great deal!

For someone who has always and forever felt like an outsider looking in at all the other so called, “normal” people, it’s been a relief to feel as though I belong somewhere! Unfortunately, the last (almost) 6 weeks has left me bereft of their company – this family of runners! I’ve been out of the game due to an injury that truly began about 5 weeks prior to the start of the 100 mile run I completed on December 14 and was further exacerbated during that particular expedition into another realm of my psyche.

This absence from my ‘tribe’ of other runners has left me feeling backwards in more ways than I care to recount! When you start feeling like you are important, meaningful in this life and your head swells a bit because of your success…….take a 6 week break away from that ONE thing that makes you feel FREE. Take 6 weeks away from friends who are oftentimes more like distant siblings and only converse with them half a dozen times over the course of those 6 long weeks – mostly via electronic communication with very little actual ‘face’ time. Tell me how you feel then!

I can tell you it has left me with a changed perspective! It has also made me realize how much I identify myself with all those folks in my tribe…..as RUNNERS. It is not only what I do but it is part of who I am. It is not another hat I wear like: teacher, trainer, accountant, housekeeper, mother….etc., rather it is a part of who I AM. This body that has always felt too heavy, too ‘thick’, too big…..too slow….to be a runner – fits into this tribe just fine as who I AM as a runner…and as a person. A person who also happens to be a runner and a mother, wife and all those other titles life throws at us….

Be careful with how much you identify with any one thing in life for it will define who you are unless you define yourself…..WHO ARE YOU?

My, not so random, thoughts for the day! Until next time….

Peace

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Yesterdays’s Disdain

As I am down on my hands and knees once more, cleaning the grout on our well traveled floor

I wonder, as I often do, what and who it is I am to all those who walk through my door.

What will be their memories, these three little girls I adore?

Will they remember the hugs and giggles as I tickle them under their cute little chins?

Or the nights when I snuggle them tight after a rough day of struggle and they cried to sleep

As I hold them oh so tight….and wonder as I struggle for sleep if I am doing it all right.

The, boys grown now, a part of my heart aches for pain and missed moments

Knowing in my mind that what’s done is done and these regrets I ought to shake.

When they look through their parental eyes at babies so precious, do their hearts quake?

Do they remember fondly the times we played and fell fast asleep together on the couch?

Or unimpressed with their behavior…days that often began and ended with, “ouch”?

Do they look back now hard pressed and think – my mom she did her best?

As I am down on my hands and knees once more, cleaning the grout on our well traveled floor

I think how ironic it is that here I am cleaning the mess we have all trod into the tiled decor

It resembles life, this cleaning and scrubbing on my hands and knees, thinking of all I have seen

Gathering the crumbs and shards of our messy lives, shoved into corners and ground down

Like the inner parts of my heart and mind, meandering like a lazy river to all that’s left behind

Unbidden, the thoughts flow like a river over jagged, encrusted rocks in my brain unrefined.

Flashes of memory, come and go like the interminable film on the movie screen

You can see what is taking place, though you cannot be heard nor be seen

You know in advance the joys and the pains, though nothing can be done to cease the disdain

I’m down on my hands and knees once more, cleaning the grout on our well traveled floor

How ironic I am down here kneeling alone, scrubbing and cleansing to no true avail

When those who can make a difference make their own choices to linger….on yesterdays trail.

~TLT

Thoughts about “Crewing”…

My great friend, trail brother and fellow crazy ultra runner with his take on crewing a 100!

Texas Trail Running Adventures by John

So…   This post will, like all of my others, demonstrate what exactly goes on in my mind while running and show just how scatterbrained I really am!

ScatterbrainedBTFC
This morning I stepped out on a 20.15mi trail run.   It was “supposed’ to be 25mi but after dealing with the mud, sleet, and freezing rain on the trails I went with symbolism over miles.

This year, as I mentioned before, is going to be my year of running and reaching new milestones.   So why go in easy right?   Here is what I have planned for the year…

1.  2,015mi running
2.  2015 Running Streak (run at least 1 mile every day this year;  clearly if I am going to accomplish the first goal I will need a lot more than 1mi per day though)
3.  Cactus Rose 100 (ok… has nothing to do with 20.15mi run this morning…

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Let it go

Life has a way of throwing some pretty vicious blows our way and sometimes we escape pretty well unscathed and unmarked. As a survivor of some life altering viciousness, I have to tell you about an unexpected side effect – my brain does not allow painful experiences, conflicting emotions and even anger, to remain at the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I even forget important dates, conversations and fragments of ideas! This can be humorous at times because it means that sometimes, my daughters escape any sort of extended period of discipline for acts that deserve such. If I tell them that they are on restriction for a week for one infraction or another, I’d better write it down or tell their dad. If I do not write it down – it will be forgotten!

It is one reason why I stick to a pretty regimented schedule of my days, the reason I write down my thoughts and feelings and use a daily calendar to manage my time. If I did not do so I would inevitably forget even the most important of tasks. Sometimes, I am lucky and the act of writing down a conversation or writing a date on the calendar means it will stick in my brain but this is not always the case. It’s a great aspect of my brain because painful experiences like childbirth, verbal unpleasantness with others and even the experience of running 100 miles only a month ago…..disappear from memory. The disappearance of pieces of my life can be an asset or a distinct disadvantage.

It means that although I KNOW I had particular experiences, I know I birthed seven babies; I know when and where I was married; I know the youngest boy graduated from high school etc., etc., I have very few specific or vivid recollections in my memory of these events or hundred of others. It means that if I have a disagreement today, I may or may not remember the specifics of that disagreement a day or a week from today. My brain chooses which nuggets of my life to hold onto and which to let go. It’s almost like amnesia but it’s very selective and there are times that happen out of the blue when I will have a flashback of something that was said or done – but just as quick it’s all gone again.

This aspect of my psyche can also be a bit of an aggravation because I do not remember what was said. Once words leave my mouth and the thought behind them is no longer at the forefront – I have virtually NO recollection of what was said. Especially if they were words spoken in a heated manner, as in an argument or disagreement. Ironically, as my brain forgets some words and deeds – it has a clear recollection of others and usually they are the painful ones created by others. Some words stick inside my head like a tape stuck on repeat so over and over….and over they play inside my brain. Rattling around inside my head like so much broken glass.

There is a biological explanation for this odd aspect of my brain. When the human psyche is placed under a stress load, over and over again in a fright, flight, or fight situation the brain pushes out several very specific chemicals. Now, if you have ONE traumatic experience these chemicals are essentially (usually) washed away down the drain and all is well. However, if this type of situation occurs repeatedly, the brain is continuously under the stress of the situation and added to that is this cascade of neuro-chemicals. The parts of the brain that regulate memories are eventually poisoned in a way from the chemicals that were produced to protect the psyche from further harm. Ironic isn’t it? The very mechanism used to protect it, with repeated dumping into the body, actually causes damage.

The good news for me is that it means I am an expert at letting go of garbage that occurs in my life. Stuff happens, I get angry, upset, hurt….etc and within a week or two have very little recollection of what was said or done. That’s not to say that I don’t KNOW on some level that some mess went down – only that it no longer sits at the forefront of my brain. Some people cannot let go. They allow their emotions to sit and stew, they continually stuff their emotions down and down until it all bubbles over like a volcano in a violent explosion, causing casualties all over the place. Yet, even then, even when they explode causing chaos and the situation is discussed ad nauseam this is not enough for them to say – the situation has been resolved.

This type of person hangs onto that anger or pain etc and allows it to stew and marinate even further, then adds any further perceived injury or insult to what has already occurred….in a perpetual cycle of hurt. I say – LET IT GO. This is an unhealthy cycle that needs severing like a diseased limb. When people hurt you, they apologize and attempt to resolve the issue with conversation and changing the behaviors that caused the issue to begin with – LET IT GO. The person you cause more injury to by holding onto noisiness in your own mind is Y-O-U.

If I held onto every perceived or real injury thrown my way by others, or even caused by my own human stupidity, I would be a mess. Forgiveness of the mistakes of others truly is NOT about making them feel better, rather it is a healthy response that is necessary to keep peace within your own heart and mind. Holding onto anger, disappointment and resentment causes health issues as well as more relationship issues than you already have. Forgive mistakes and move on. We all change and grow and forgiveness is part of this process.

While you are busy holding onto the hurt and using it as ammunition for future situations – imagine if the shoe was on the other foot and all of your mistakes and bad behaviors were thrown back at you…..I say LET IT GO

Until next time my friends….

Peace

Insomnia and Compartmentalization…..

As I laid myself down to sleep about two hours ago, I had a thought that I had forgotten to write today as I had made a commitment to do. Alas, I thought! I will just have to write twice tomorrow. HAH! Instead, here I sit unable to sleep in a silent house and I BLOG…

My chattering monkey mind would not quiet and one of the thoughts that kept rolling through was that it was 3 weeks ago today that I crossed the finish line at Brazos Bend 100 with some of the most amazing people there running alongside me and even more waiting at the finish line. What I realized is that there are hours of time that I do not recall at all during those 29 hours and 58 minutes.

My friend Doug had told me that it would all disappear and leave nothing much left but the finish and I had thought that there was no way my mind could possibly FORGET such an epic tale. I spent the better part of something like 6 hours and 45 minutes, give or a take a few, with my friend Mike….SIX HOURS only 3 weeks ago and yet I recall very little about those moments. The brain is an amazing thing is it not?

I spent even MORE time with my great friend John and the only thing I have left in my mind are the sneaky little snapshots he took of me looking grumpy! That particular moment probably would have escaped my recollection as well….except for the photograph he took and posted with me looking decidedly unhappy. I do remember scolding him because he said he sent the picture to his wife….I told him that at least he could’ve warned me so I could wave or something! Funny!

My feet are pretty well healed and I am a toenail shy at the moment but for the most part – the body is close to 100% back to ‘normal’. Not quite there but certainly closer than it was 3 weeks ago when I had to use a granny walker to even move!! That will NOT happen again until I am somewhere around the age of 95!! The granny walker that is….

The brain, as I have learned through my studies, and now with more personal experience, is a wonderful computer / organ with the ability to wipe away all the pain you KNOW for certain you felt because pain is not something you simply forget. And yet, I really do not remember the pain per se, rather there is just the knowledge there that I WAS in pain. How does it do this? I would love to complete research on this topic!

There are some who subscribe to the whole idea that we are simply not meant to know the ins and outs of everything and sometimes it is better to not ask WHY. For me, however, I thrive on the unknown, on the questions that remain unanswered,  and sometimes it gets me into trouble with those who really wish I would just hush. Unfortunately for them, and tonight for me as well since the monkeys in there will not cease with their endless chattering, I don’t do well with being told what to do.

Yeah, yeah….I know! We all must at times take orders or what have you. Allow someone the privilege of thinking that they control the situation and in turn, controlled what it was you thought or did. It is not something I am very good at however! I am good at asking questions and if there are no answers readily available – I will find them!

The other thing on my mind is that although I AM almost healed, I am not quite there and that’s what scares me. I have things planned, races to attend and PR’s to attain……but if my body does not heal soon – like in the next 2 weeks TOPS….my attendance at the next event will be seriously in doubt. You see, one of the things that motivates me is EVENTS…

Racing events generally my goals, but it can be any type of event where I have to plan something, then follow through with the execution of the plan and bring it to fruition. It helps me stay focused and remain accountable to myself for my fitness goals. Right now I feel like the next 12 weeks of my training are truly in limbo and that is a dance I don’t like much….the limbo. I do have some other irons in the fire, so to speak, but none of which have anything to do with my fitness.

That may not seem like a big deal to some but to me, my personal level of fitness is a pretty big deal. If I had RAN today….I’d be sleeping right now. If I had ran today….I would not be sitting here with my tummy growling because it became accustomed to me eating basically as often as I wanted to…..while I was training. I can’t eat like that normally. I would be able to pass for the sibling of Shamu if I did!!

I only partly jest! 90% of the women in my family are heavyset women. With my stature, any amount of weight that is not muscle or some semblance thereof does not look attractive in the least. Love handles? Where did that phrase originate? There’s nothing lovely about having fat poking over the top of my jeans…..ugh! Okay, that’s a topic for a different blog or maybe not at all.

Apparently I am TIRED because I have digressed considerably from my original ideas so I suppose, dear reader, you can consider this the free-write of an insomniac who has a tendency to go off on these little tangents….Who am I kidding though really – I go off on tangents even when I am NOT tired!! I hope some of you who actually know me found some humor in that!! I sure did! I almost had a chuckle at my own expense…but I didn’t want to laugh too loudly and wake the girls who are all snuggled in their beds thinking about the first day back at school tomorrow after the very LONG Christmas break they had.

Okay…there it is…some of what was keeping me awake at least and now it is 4 minutes until Monday, January 5th and I have successfully written today! I shall post before the clock strikes midnight for sure! This reminds me of New Years Eve counting down the last few minutes with the youngest 2 of my brood!! Hah! Okay……..posting now

Until next time friends……

Peace

To be THANKFUL…..thoughts on what that means

I read a book about 10 days ago. This is not a big deal ordinarily, since I tend to devour books like the air I breathe. It’s not unheard of for me to finish two novels in one day – depending of course, on the type of day it may be. Anyhow, I digress…This book I read by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts really answered some questions in my mind that I didn’t even know were pinging around inside my head.

She begins the book with a poetic description of her birth in all of its glory and in the next chapter telling the reader about the death of her sister when they were just small children. Her poetic manner of writing sits very well with me and I found myself eating up the pages, despite the fact that she discusses a subject that is often difficult to get through when one is reading,  unless perhaps you are a devout Christian. I am talking about religion. This is not your ordinary Christian missive however, but something else altogether. She discusses the fine art of being THANKFUL.

I am not just referring to the quick nod of thanks we give for the roof over our heads and the food in our stomach but also for all those things that bring us pain; the hard lessons of life that can either break us down to depths never before experienced, or lift us up into the highest of highs. The author talks about looking into her mirror and being brutally honest with her self evaluation. Seeing all those things in herself, both outwardly as well as the inner workings of her self that she finds lacking. All the ways she has somehow failed to be the person she thought, at some point, she thought she ought to be. This resonates deep within my own spirit as I have struggled in the last several years to feel successful. I have accomplished all these feats and yet, sometimes it feels like there is something I am not doing, a task I have yet to complete….a hole that is supposed to be filled somehow that remains empty.

It is not as if I have not lived life because I promise you dear reader, I have lived life from giving of my time to charities, completing service in the military, 25 years of mothering 7 children, athletic endeavors of miles upon miles of roads and paths traveled, thousands of books read, travel to foreign countries, mention in various honor societies…….blah, blah…blah. Yet, it all feels like it is devoid of something important. Like there is something or someone I am missing or have missed. All this has been done……and yet I am EMPTY?

The author calls it the legacy of the Garden. She is referring to the Garden of Eden where the very first sin took place and gave us all this craving for more, despite how full our lives may be we desire MORE. Ann Voskamp tells us that our fall from grace occurred because we are not satisfied with the fruit that God provides and instead we hunger for something more….This more is what drives us and has driven our planet to the brink. Look at our population as a whole and listen to anyone over the age of 35 talk about the ‘younger generation’ and how ungrateful they are. It’s like a disease that has gone systemic.

The biting of the apple in the Garden of Eden (whether literally or not) changed the way we see. The devil said to Adam and Eve, ‘In the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened…’ (Genesis 3:5 NASB). Our eyes were already opened though and we could see the perfect love of God and a world overflowing with goodness. We were fooled into thinking that there was something MORE and we were missing out on opportunities or other visions we had not yet beheld. They bit the fruit off the tree of life and in that instant they saw everything, except God. We see a world of loss, scarcity and extreme injustice and prejudice.

We become hungry so we eat and feel full…….yet empty. We are still looking at the fruit of the material world expecting it to fill our emptiness rather than looking to God to provide for us as he always has….There is one of the keys for me….God has always provided for me. There is no way I would have made it through everything I have ever lived through if He had not been there. I have often asked and found myself trying to research in order to understand, “Why”. Why did I make it? What kept me going when so many others quit trying? How did I get to this point in life when so many I know got lost in the pain? God was there and is still there through all of it.

My friends know me pretty well and I am not someone who throws around words like Christian and I don’t speak about the Bible or its content all that much, though I do BELIEVE that there is a God and that we all have a purpose for being on this earth. There is a reason why we meet the people we do at the time they enter into our lives. There’s a reason we enter into the life lessons we do – sometimes over and over again. We have to get it right. We have to learn the lesson before we can move onto the next one. Like we have to learn how to crawl before we walk, we have to learn these other lessons in order to be ready for better opportunities or for people to walk into (or out of) our lives.

I was listening to a random segment from Bishop T.D Jakes on YouTube last night with all of this on my mind and what he was preaching about was God waiting on us, where we are at right this minute….so he can propel us forward with His nourishment. He does not just stand by while we suffer with our ‘soul holes’ but tells us that if we believe, have faith in HIM and are THANKFUL for all He has given – He has so much more to give us. We only have to be thankful rather than acting like spoiled children with our hands out saying, “more, more, MORE!”

To be thankful for all we have does not sound like a difficult thing…until our boat is rocked by stormy waters. That, my friends, is when we find out where we truly stand in our faith, with friends and within our own stormy, monkey minds….

I have only skimmed the surface of where my heart is leading these words so I will let this sit and give it to you raw and uncut as always. There is more to follow….If you dare.

Until next time….

Peace

Gilded Cage – Prose

A gilded cage so well supported

One must wonder what the matter is

With all that is purported

When she was younger, she begged for a better life

Than the one she had before

Now that she’s living the way she always desired

Her motivation for it has waned, she has lost her fire

What could possibly be wrong

With a man so young and strong

Directing your movements

Ensuring you stay where you belong

She begged for a better life

Than the one she had before

Now she’s living it, she wonders what for

She realizes her young desires were so wrong

He claims to have given her the world

She’s not so sure that this world is enough

When love is so painfully obscure

For all intents and purpose

She’s no better off than she was

When how the bills would be paid she was unsure

A cage was built so perfectly sublime

Now all you can do is stare about you

Eyes tear blind

Wondering where the time went and with it your fire

What kind of woman can you teach them to be

When out of your own way

You are too scared to creep