The Fire of a Heart Breaking…

Reach into the fire if you dare! Can you feel the pain? Or does your arm just grow still with the fear that is driving you insane? How many times do you reach out and how many times will you be broken before you decide enough is enough and stop the incessant choking?

Reach into that red hot fire. Can you feel the flame? Or does your body grow weary at the thought of trying once again to fight through the shame? How many times do you reach out? How many times will you be broken before you say you’ve had enough and stop the slow smolder?

I Dare you to reach into that glowing fire once again! Can you feel it burning yet? Or is your mind so numb from the walls around you that once again you forget? Forget the heartache that’s a permanent scar of promises made and promises broken and the winding road that’s taken you this far. How many times do you reach out? How many times will you be broken, before you decide life is wasting away and decide to be emboldened?

 

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Prose….On Judgment

As you sit on the sidelines of my life blinded by what you perceive

And ignorant of all you do not know

You dare to pass your judgment, critical of the choices made

That have nothing to do with you.

 

When looking back on your life and decisions you have made

Can you sit there honestly, knowing all you know now

And say you never made mistakes?

 

As you sit on the sidelines of my life, blinded by the love you feel

And ignorant of all the critical errors, you dare add shame to the mix

As if it is suddenly your duty to lay waste with your verbal landmines

 

Look back at your own life, I dare you to peak

Take a look at all that was said and done, that caused such family strife

Would you like there to be fingers pointed

At a time when you felt your life was so bleak?

 

The lessons learned in this lifetime are earned by pain and joy as well

But please do not feign to sit there and judge my own personal hell

As if you know it or have seen firsthand

When all you have seen is the outer shell….

 

~TLT

Try your Best…Is a Farce (RANT)

Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a minute if you will. How many times have you been told to just, “try your best”, or any variation thereof? You are working your tail off to accomplish something, and someone decides that you need some motivation and informs you that all you need to do is give it all you have. As if putting every ounce of energy into this particular task will somehow, magically, make it work where it did not before.

You could spend days, weeks, months, or even years trying to accomplish this particular feat to no avail. All of your energy, time and focus has been in an attempt to make your life work better or run more smoothly, and yet you find yourself frustrated with the results. Did you ever play team sports in school? Let’s put it in terms of basketball. You stand on the free throw line day after day, practice after practice and no matter how you position your hands, no matter where or how far apart you place your feet and no matter how much coaching you receive – the ball will NOT enter the basket. Did you try your best? I bet you did! Yet, for whatever inane reason, the ball refused to make the sound you were struggling desperately to hear.

You tried hard, then you tried harder and you did the best you could with what you knew and with what you’d been taught but it simply was not enough. Sound familiar? There are some things in life that are just not meant to be or, on the flip side of that coin, there are some things in life that are inevitable. Telling ourselves and others that they only need to work a little harder though, is a farce. In my mind it’s right up there with participation medals. If you are not talented enough to place yourself or your team on the podium then why should you receive a medal? This is teaching our children especially that even if you did NOT try your best, you still get an award. Is that the way it is in the real world? Nope!

As I just pointed out, there are times when your best is not good enough. It happens to the majority of us, so why do we insist on putting ourselves through the misery of thinking that if we only try harder it’s going to change everything? It’s not. Get over it. Which leads me to my next point. You did the best you could with the tools that you were given is another bit that grates my nerves slightly because it’s almost like making an excuse for bad behavior in adults.

Last I checked, we all have this thing called FREE WILL. This means that we make choices and although they may not be all bad, we certainly make the choice between doing what is right or not and then, here’s the kicker – generally speaking there are consequences for our actions. Make your decisions and stick to your guns, but remember that there is nobody to blame but yourself for how it turns out. Part of being an adult means owning your own mess. Sure, we all make mistakes. Lord knows I have made PLENTY!

Mistakes are funny things though you see! If you have an accident because you turned down a wrong way street, it was a one time thing and therefore a mistake. The next time you drive by that street you will remember that you had an accident there and not repeat the behavior. Lesson learned. On the other hand, if once again you drive down the same one way street and have an accident, it’s no longer a mistake. This is an extreme example of course but you get the idea. We make errors in judgement that cause us pain usually and these are called MISTAKES. Acting out the same behavior over and over again, despite knowing that it’s going to lead to pain – this is no longer a mistake. It’s a behavior over which we have FREE WILL to either cease or continue. To say that you did the best you could with the tools you were given is an excuse.

*RANT OVER

Until next time friends…

~Peace

TLT

The Same and yet Different

I’ve been thinking about writing this one for awhile, but life continues to roll on and priorities being what they are, it just hasn’t happened. This evening as I sat here trying to process more new information for work related duties over dinner, the idea once again came back into the forefront of my wee brain, so here we are.

People often look bewildered when I tell them about my love of running and even more so when they find out that I LIKE to run ultra distances. To those of you who read my blog but are not familiar with the term ultra-marathon, it means any distance more than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Now, just because I run these distances does not mean that it’s easy for me. It doesn’t mean that the miles do not exact their own price on my body while cleansing my mind and spirit. To the contrary in fact!

I’ve dealt with numerous pretty minor injuries (huge blisters, neuromas, muscle imbalance) along with the normal muscle soreness and the breathlessness that comes from trying to push a particular pace when the conditions dictate that the run should be nice and easy. I’ve been told that I will never medal, never come in first place, never have the physique to run long distances efficiently. Guess what? It hasn’t stopped me! Does it nag at me when people think they know what I should or should not do or tell me that I should just quit running? Sure it does. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I digress however!

What I really wanted to talk about are the similarities between running long distances and being in ANY long term relationship. You may be asking yourself, where in the world is she going with this? There are no similarities between these two activities! Ah, but I ask you to hang in there with me and I will endeavor to tell you, dear reader, that there are a few ways in which they are alike. They both require a commitment to stick to your guns when the initial passion to do so has long passed you by. They both have these hidden peaks and valleys that are often unseen until you suddenly come upon them, or they upon you. Both of these events require the ability to plan and yet be flexible enough to know when your plan has gone down the tubes and you’ll simply have to fly by the seat of your proverbial pants.

What do you think? Do you see it yet? Some call it discipline and commitment while others say that one must be a bit of a masochist to push your body, over and over again, in order to complete a long distance event. If you have ever been in a long term relationship, and I use the phrase long term rather loosely to mean any relationship that lasts more than a year, you know there is some degree of pain involved. As human beings we tend to be quite self centered at times and with this behavior comes pain, either our own or that of another person. During the initial infatuation phase you are absolutely entranced by all the passion and bliss; perhaps you even make a commitment to stay together “no matter what”. This happens when running long distance as well – I promise you it does!

You sign up for your race of choice, train your body relentlessly to perform at optimal levels and show up the morning of the big day primed and ready. Somewhere between that starting line and the eventual finish (for me this is generally somewhere after the halfway  point) the creeping vines of ugliness and doubt find their way into your now tired body and mind. The infatuation and passion is ebbing, leaving you wondering what in the world you were thinking when you signed up for this fiasco! Now comes the test to see how committed you truly are to finish what you started. Will you struggle through being tired, hungry and perhaps even a bit grumpy in order to reach your goal? Will you be cross and ugly to the people who have been standing by to give you a hand and tell you that you really DO have the strength or will you grit your teeth, smile through the pain and keep on moving through it?

You move through each mile after mile (or milestone after milestone depending on your perspective) and then the path suddenly rises above you like a goliath. In your head you think that although you are able to move easily enough up this hill the first time, you sure hope that your body remains strong enough to climb it again…and again. How many of you have wondered how many times you can possibly have the exact same disagreement (usually of the heated variety) over the exact same issue with your significant other? Is this not like climbing a hill? What about the downhill portion of climbing? The argument is over and peace once more reigns supreme in your life….ahhhh. It’s like cruising downhill! Are you with me? Have you ran down a hill lately my friends? Let me tell you that it’s a freeing experience to feel your legs moving like pistons beneath your hips as the earth drops down and down. I’d say that with the wind in my face and a nice, even descent, it’s probably the closest I’ll come to flying!

Flying…..until you stub your toe on something and you go flying for real to complete the best ever belly flop on dry land! Hah! Were you expecting that? Did you plan to fall flat on your face, bloodying your knees like an eight year old on roller skates? The answer is probably NO but it happens all the time. As is the case in relationships. You’re running along, minding your own business and following your plan for life when all of a sudden something happens out of the blue and BAMMM there goes your perfect plans! Ugh! How many times has that happened? Okay, so now your well structured plan is garbage to be thrown away with the mornings’ coffee grounds. What will you do now? There comes a time when you have to make the choice to keep going the way you are, with bruised and bloodied knees or a broken heart along the same trajectory, or you have to change things up a bit. Flexibility is a valuable trait and not only for gymnasts and dancers apparently. Agreed?

The bottom line is that even big, ugly blisters drain and eventually heal. Bloodied knees and bruised egos also heal – eventually. Does one have to be a bit of a masochistic to run long distance and repeatedly push the envelope to see how far the human body CAN be pushed to the edge without teetering over? I say, that running 30, 50 or 100 miles in a go is not much different than being in a long term relationship. What do you think?

 

Until next time friends

~Peace and blessings

 

Time and Choices

Apparently, I have a lot to say today since the words appear to be flooding out of my mind and onto the screen so here’s a rarity for me…TWO posts in a day that are not just about running! 🙂

Time and choices

Such simple, ineloquent words and yet they hold so much meaning. I remember when time seemed to stand still. When every minute felt like an entire day had taken place. Now it seems that every day is slipping through my fingers at warp speed and I cannot slow it down. It is scary to think that I am now ‘middle aged’ in lived years despite the fact that I feel as though there is still so MUCH I still need to learn!

My grown children now have children and I yearn for their presence in my life. I also yearn for a certain type of silence. Not the silence of angry words recently spoken. Not the silence of an empty house or sleeping children, rather a silence of the mind. A space in my life where the busy-ness fades and I think of nothing really and yet thoughts race through my mind with haste.

I remember with a pained heart the mistakes of our youth, though take them back I would not because they are what lead me to you. There are so many choices to be made and things left to be done and it reminds me everyday that although we are separate peoples, we are all affected by each and every one. It somehow makes me think of Robert Frost, a Road Less Traveled:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There are choices to be made and the consequences we shall not know until such time as we wander back on that road of so long ago….and even then, as our memories fade we know not which choice we ‘should have’ made…

 

A Story of Regret

She rolled over to see the sun streaming in through the bedroom window as though through a crystal chandelier, creating dancing jewels of brilliance on the wall. She wondered to herself why the house was so silent and where her husband was off to already this beautiful spring morning. It would be nice to simply linger in the bed as though it were made of the softest clouds, but there were things that needed to be done. If only….she could remember what those things were.

They were right on the edge of her mind, but stubbornly refused to come back to the forefront. No loss, she thought to herself. If it were important I’d remember what it was. There were no clocks ticking and her music had shut off hours ago thanks to the automated system that shut it down if there was no interaction within 90 minutes. Silence. There was a time when the moments of blessed silence were few and far between. Now though, silence pressed on her like a freight train, again reminding her that there was something she was forgetting.

She drifted off into her mind while looking at the sun jewels shining brightly on the wall. The kids were on her mind a lot lately. Eight children out there somewhere in this dark world where nothing was truly predictable and she was here, lying on her bed trying to remember what it was she ought to be doing. She reached over to see if the bed where her husband would rest his head was still warm, but all she felt was the cold sheet along her fingers and another feeling drifted into her mind. The feeling of regret raised its ugly, scarred head like the demon it was. Telling her that she’d missed out.

What had she missed she mused? Hadn’t she done everything she was supposed to do? Hadn’t she raised her children to be compassionate members of society? Hadn’t she tried to live up to the expectations of those who mattered and worked at being a decent mother and grandmother? She had not been perfect as a mother or a wife but hell, she had tried to do the right thing her entire life, for what it was worth. So what was left now for her to do?

People told her that once you became a parent your life was no longer your own and what you wanted from life no longer really mattered. She and her husband fought for years about her selfish nature and desire to be more than simply a housewife until she finally acquiesced and stopped planning, stopped partaking in events that took her away from her family a few weekends every year and most importantly she stopped dreaming of what was to come. She’d worked at living right here in the present without making any plans at all for what was to happen in the future.

What was the point in dreaming about the possibility of more, if all it brought was heartache so profound it felt as though her heart would fracture from the pain? Why bother trying to balance a life full of adventure and miniature personal escapades with that of marriage and motherhood, if the only product was a peaceful mind within a chaotic life? She had always thrived on what she fondly called organized chaos. She had always performed at her best when, as her husband used to (not so fondly say) run around with her hair on fire from one event to the next. The goal was to feel ALIVE!! Why feel so alive if doing so meant the adrenaline rush was short-lived and often devolved into tears and fiery anger because these things she yearned for were not what she was supposed to do.

As she lay there on her bed of clouds, fighting the demon of regret and staring blankly at the sunshine jewels on the wall ,it came to her. There was nothing for her to do now! The kids were all grown and gone out of the house and the silence was due to the fact that there were no other heartbeats occupying the same space as her. She was alone here in her thoughts, alone in her regret and shame for not making more out of her life. Now, as she looked back through the last 40 years she wondered, what was the point?

The kids no longer called to tell her their stories. There were no grand-babies crawling around because she was unable to keep a long-distance relationship with them over the years since that too was frowned upon by the powers that be. Somebody she used to know once told her that she would grow old and lonely because she was too selfish to understand what it means to sacrifice her own needs for the sake of others. Hah! The joke was on them now wasn’t it? She gave it all up for the sake of everyone else, and yet here she is as she watches the sun play through the window – old and alone, living with the demon of regret….

 

 

 

What you See…Is what You Get

It’s been 24 days since the 100 mile run I showed up for ended prematurely at 40 miles due to an injury, and although I have my head wrapped around the necessity of dropping it’s been a rough few weeks. You all hear the words and see the catchy hashtag of “the struggle is real”. We pay lip service to the issue of depression and the resulting suicide rate amongst our service members. We make jokes and pass judgment.

I’m here to tell you as someone who has battled that demon most of their adult life and has loved ones who are doing the same, depression on any scale is no laughing matter. What does depression have to do with running you may ask. It has a LOT to do with it in my case and that of many others I know and am proud to call my tribe. You see, running is not simply a physical act of quickly moving one foot then the other in a forward motion. Although we are, obviously, performing physical exercise that’s not the whole story.

There’s more to the story of running, for most of us, than simply the physical act. It calms us with the release of various neuro-chemicals. It stimulates other hormones and body chemicals to help us better cope with stress. We feel better about life in general when we are able to run. The inability to run has the same effect on a runner as does not being able to drink coffee on a habitual coffee drinker. Neither of which are pleasant.

As most of my friends will attest, I’m not an overly bubbly person to begin with. I’m not one of those women who walks around with an ever present smile on their face. I am one of those people who, if I know you, tends to say whatever I think needs to be said (within reason), and this often means that I say the things nobody else will for fear of hurting feelings. It’s not my goal, of course, to hurt anyones feelings and I do think about what I say before I say it, but I’m not one for mincing words. All of that to say that I am pretty much an open book. What you see is definitely what you get.

Since I am an open book, not being able to run without pain means that in 24 days I’ve ran TWICE….and neither time without pain. Was it successful? Who knows!! The question is, did I feel better afterwards…..? Absofreakinlutely!! Unfortunately for me, and those who are forced to live with me, running is the only form of physical exercise I’ve found that releases all the tension, eases the inner monster and helps my ‘politically correct’ filter remain in place for one more day. It also eases the feelings of depression that seem to pop in for an uninvited visit for no good reason. The struggle to maintain mental equilibrium is very real friends.

My life is perfect: I have a long-term relationship with my husband, a home, healthy children, beautiful grandchildren, wonderful pets aka fur-babies, honest and challenging employment and my own health to name but the top of the list of all I am thankful for. This does not mean that depression has no reason to reside here, since it does not seem to NEED a reason. That’s the real point dear ones. It just IS…What you see…IS what you get.

Until next time friends…

Peace

~TLT