Roadblocks

There you are traveling along your chosen path to reach a particular destination. The research is complete. The plan was established and followed to the best of your human ability and intentions, and then all of a sudden BAM!! You run into a concrete barrier. Thank goodness you weren’t speeding! Phew! Major calamity was averted, though now there’s some damage control to implement and an adjustment must be made because the plan you had has been compromised by an unseen barrier.

Life is funny that way is it not? And by funny I really don’t mean that it makes you want to laugh. In fact, generally the opposite is true and rather than laugh at the irony of this life, it often makes us want to scream, cry and throw a three-year old’s version of a temper tantrum. No? Of course, the above scenario when driving would most likely result in some truly catastrophic results, however, roadblocks happen elsewhere as well.

These last eight months of preparation and planning have had their fair share of roadblocks. Illnesses cropped up, weather was a factor, schedules had to be adjusted and now for the coup de gras, the killing blow, a vital piece of the plan falls apart with little hope for recovery. What to do? We all have choices that we have to make, as we have talked about before, and sometimes these choices are cut and dry. Other times, however, choices are not so crystal clear because the outcome is beyond our limited view of our life. We can choose to wring our hands, cry out in defeat and give up. We can choose to play the blame game with all the shoulda, woulda, couldas…

There’s another option though that is probably more productive than either of the two stated above. That option is to pull oneself up by your proverbial bootstraps, access every ounce of energy you have remaining and re-work the plan. That concrete barrier you just crashed into is not going to move, so now you have to find a new way to achieve your goal. Generally speaking, alternative plans are not going to meet the expectations we had in our head of what this journey would look like. The question though is do you WANT to meet your objective more than you want it to meet a given set of preconceived notions of what it should look like when you do arrive at the destination?

Let me be specific now. As you may or may not know, I’ve been training for a Figure competition in the Women’s Physique division since late November of last year. There have been multiple roadblocks and things have not always gone to plan, as is apparently very normal in this chaotic life. I’ll save the story of the journey for another sleepless night though. Things have progressed and we arrived at two weeks prior to the competition date with my specially designed competition suit due to arrive on July 2 from Germany. That day came and went but my suit did not arrive.

Now, for those of you who actually KNOW me, you may have personal knowledge of the fact that the amount of patience I have is not what I am known for. Okay, so I took a deep breath and told myself that the Fourth of July holiday had messed up the delivery and surely it would arrive by Friday, July 6. No such luck. The seamstress is contacted by myself and my trainer as well since she’s known her for at least six years. The trainer tried to calm my anxiety by informing me that in six years of doing business with the seamstress, not a single suit has been lost or not received by the date of the competition.

Here we are friends, basically two days before I leave to drive five hour to the venue and three days prior to the event and………no suit has arrived. BAM!! There’s my roadblock. What can I do at this point? Every waking, and sometimes even sleeping hours, every ounce of spare energy, every penny I could eeek out of my budget has been spent on preparing for this one day. I’m not going to blow smoke here. The thought of throwing in the towel and calling it a loss and a learned lesson did cross my mind on more than one occasion. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on who you talk to, the idea of quitting is not one I am attuned to. I’ve done it and despise the emotional fallout.

What did I do instead? I used this thing we have called social media and put out a small SOS in the form of an @instagram post. Someone MUST know someone who knows someone who can help me come up with a solution. Waiting patiently and asking for help in any way, shape or form are not high on my list of favorites, however, when push comes to shove and the choice is to quit or ask for help – I will ask for help. Thankfully, I have some absolutely FABULOUS friends who are aware of all the struggles encountered, and as luck would have it – there’s a suit!!!

Roadblocks be damned!! I’m going to battle with my own expectations because it’s not the outcome I wanted as far as the suit is concerned, however, the ability to walk the stage is more important than a specially designed suit. Right? Choices have to be made and once again there will be sacrifices made in order to make all of this happen. We can wring our hands and give up, or we can fight with every bit of who we are and what we believe in to achieve our goals in spite of the setbacks.

Until next time my friends!

Peace

~TlT

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Choosing Your Battles

Anyone with children can certainly relate to this issue. The trash is obviously happily overflowing, there are dishes in the sink waiting to be placed with loving care into the empty dishwasher, there’s fluff from the most recent dog toy laying like little pieces of an impossible jigsaw all over the floor and empty pop tart, chip, and cereal containers of various shapes and sizes wherever they were deserted by some absent minded soul. Towels invade the bathroom floor, clothes on the bedroom floors look as dejected as the ugly pet store puppy nobody wants and please don’t get me started on the tablespoon of milk remaining in the bottom of the one gallon jug of milk.

Yet, there are three perfect and able bodied young people living here who must be completely blind and deaf too. They must be blind to the glare they’ve received every single day when the crumpled bits of refuse are thrown in the trash by the hand of another. They must be deaf to the sound of a mysterious voice reminding them daily that there is not a maid or a butler available to be at their beck and call and clean up after them. Mom does start with the same letter as maid, however, that is where the similarities end, or at least that is what they’re told. I’m beginning to wonder though if this a true statement.

Equally true though, is the fact that none of the aforementioned trio have been in any serious trouble at school unlike many of their peers. Their grades, though not living up to the potential believed of them, have been above mediocre and in some cases even occasionally outstanding. Their manner of dress is not outlandish nor is the makeup worn by the eldest, despite parental protestations, garish or otherwise inappropriate for her age group. Generally speaking, this trio is mindful of their manners, treat others with compassion and respect, and they are well behaved, inside our home and even more importantly when they’re not within my earshot.

Will I continue to fuss at them about their rooms looking like natural disasters and the towels that persist in hanging out on the floor despite the empty hooks on the wall? Yes, I shall. However, the key point here is that there is a choice to be made by me as their parent as well as them as thinking children. You see, they’ve been taught well and are familiar with the concept of cause and effect. Each of them have experienced the the laws, if you will, of action and reaction.  I can make the choice to ride their backs constantly about every little detail that is not done to my expectation. A choice can be made to make them feel inadequate or wrong somehow about their particular choice in clothing and accessories, makeup and even the manner in which they style their hair.

On the other hand, the choice can be consciously made to fight the important battles that are necessary for their safety and well-being. Respect is a two way street even with our children, and if we expect silent compliance we’re not raising children but automatons who will eventually rebel like there’s no tomorrow because they’ve not lived through the consequence of poor choices previously. Our children are not miniature representations of us, rather they are portrayals of how we treat others. They are reflections of every bit of us, the good and the bad both. Personally, I’d rather make the choice to battle over the importance of an education and respecting the viewpoints of others than whether or not the overflowing trashcan is ignored.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t talk to our children about the importance of a clean home, but to ask ourselves the question: what’s more important in this moment – to be right with a spotless house? Or, is it more important to have a mutual conversation about whatever may be weighing on their over-stimulated minds and leave the dishes waiting in the sink for another 30 minutes?

Choose wisely my friends..Until next time

Peace

~TlT

 

Hold On…Just a Little Longer

It seems like it’s been a lifetime since I last talked to you and in some ways it truly has been. So much in my life has changed and then changed again, so although there are lots of words waiting in the wings, I’m not really sure where to begin with all of it. There is a huge lesson in all of it though and that is, just when you think you cannot bear to deal with even one more thing, one more thing comes along and you fight your way through it. You take one more step toward your belief in yourself being re-established. You take one more step away from the expectations of others. It’s a scary place to be sometimes. Standing far, far outside the relative safety of your comfort zone and all that it entails.

As you take those first tentative baby steps, you find yourself having to hold on through one more mind bending explosion of disbelief. Hold onto all those emotions you’re feeling for just one more minute that turns into one more hour and one more day. Eventually, the days turn into weeks and then months have gone by with no sign of a light at the end of this journey. Your comfort zone is now far removed and you’re no longer sure it ever really was your zone of comfort. Rather it was a place in life where you simply settled because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. That’s the place you were supposed to be. That’s the place where it was best for all concerned if you just planted yourself and did not budge at all.

I would’ve never thought of running as something I was meant to do, or something I was supposed to do and certainly not something that was implanted in me to do. I’d always despised it before. Somehow though, running became my peace of mind and even that was taken from me and I found myself second guessing its necessity. Until the headaches and insomnia returned in full force. Oh yes my friends! Some people turn to drugs and alcohol or prescription medication to alleviate the stress of life and aid in their sleep cycles. I had been on prescription headache relief and sleep aids for two years before I really got serious with the amount of miles I ran every week. Once my mileage became a nice steady base of 30 miles a week it was like a veil was lifted, the insomnia was there one day and all of a sudden it was just gone. I could sleep! The headaches went away with only a few stragglers who held on…

Hold on for one more month. Do whatever you need to do. Tie a knot in that rope you’re holding onto for dear life and pray that it’s strong enough to keep you safe. Pray that it’s strong enough to keep you from tumbling back down into the hole you’ve spent these months crawling out of. Granted, it was a hole that I helped dig. Every time I turned my back on what I felt was right. Every time I compromised the boundaries I’d established for myself and our family. Every time I allowed someone in my life, an important someone no less, to make me feel as though balancing between my needs and that of the family was a selfish act. Is it selfish to take care of oneself? I say not! Everything that I’ve learned in the last 28 years of parenting has taught me that in order to be the BEST parent I can be I must take care of myself first.

What is it about being a mother that makes it okay for someone to come along and tell you that what you are doing is not enough? You are not enough. You are selfish. You cannot take time away from the “family” to replenish your soul because it’s not right. You cannot spend time with others who are of a like mind because they’re not your family and the entirety of your focus must be on just your family to the exclusion of all else. Oh, and just for good measure, while you’re being repeatedly told that these are all selfish acts, you have to put on this act of perfection for others. Nobody would believe you if you told them that you live with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Once the doors close and any temporary residents depart, the mask comes off, the joker goes away and the coldness arises from the depths. Sounds dramatic I know, but that makes it no less true. Hold on.

Just hold on. That’s what running ultras has taught me. Every mountain eventually tops out and then you are coasting back down again. When your legs tell you that they cannot possibly take another step that they’re too tired, you have to fight that feeling and keep moving. I had to keep moving forward and break out of the set expectations that were before me. Breaking out of those expectations meant breaking vows I’d made to God and that was a big deal to me. When one makes a vow to God you don’t simply break it without a lot of deep reflection and conversations with your God. How could I cleave our family in two and cause a huge disruption in our lives? Many nights of fitful sleep over the course of several years. I asked for guidance and none appeared. I prayed for strength and I received more trials.

On one particular day there was a moment when it all reached a very anti-climactic breaking point and I knew it was over. I prayed for a method to help me begin the process and within days I had my answer. The method was provided. I knew in that moment and every moment since that this action of breaking my vows was acceptable in the eyes of my God. You can call it coincidental or whatever you want to call it. I held on some more. This was just the beginning and it was not going to be without pain. How ironic is it that when you ‘fall in love’ there’s no pain with the butterflies in your belly, but when you find yourself disliking the person you were supposed to love through ‘thick and thin’ there is so much pain you’re not quite sure where it all comes from.

Pain. I learned all about this facet of life from a very early age and every step along my journey has only taught me more information about it. How deeply you can feel pain before it knocks out your other senses. How much pain you can tolerate before you just become numb to it all. Running taught me that pain is really an issue of mind over matter. Put it out of your mind then it no longer matters. Think about something else other than the pain and before you know it – you no longer feel the pain you once felt. This journey through the divorce process was very similar. There were days when I was in so much pain I did not know how I could possibly continue to move forward. I second guessed every single decision made.

Yes. I second guessed the decision. For those of you who know me personally this may come as a shock. Maybe, just maybe, I was overreacting. Maybe the problem was me and my way of thinking. There’s truth there you see. I was growing, branching out into other endeavors of life and felt as though I was not able to breathe or move without asking first for permission. Maybe comfortable was better than this struggle. If I just apologized and agreed with all that he’d wanted me to be, maybe we could save our marriage…..again. There was another side of me though that would not accept this. If our marriage was meant to be saved it would take two people wanting to do so not just one and I’d seen not a single sign from him that he was desirous of saving it.

Again there’s the correlation between running and life. Second guessing yourself and failing to follow through with your plan which then results in failing to accomplish the mission you set out for. I set the course, maintained the course and followed my heart as well as my mind along the way without deviation. It hurt. There were days when the pain was immeasurable. I missed……..wait. WHAT? What did I miss? The relative ease and comfort of knowing exactly what to expect from that particular rollercoaster is what I missed. Going around and around in circles, upside down and feeling as though my insides were being torn out by way of my heart is what I missed? Oh, there were good times too, but often they were simply bandaids to cover the wounds that had sunk in deep like a fish hook.

It’s over now. Finally. I can breathe and now learn what there is to discover about this person I’ve become and am becoming. There will still be pain and there are many more lessons left to learn, but I’m looking forward to the road ahead with our daughters. I’m looking forward to demonstrating for them that when you truly love someone there are sacrifices that need to be made, but they should never be of self belief. Hold on and be strong. Hold your course and love yourself enough to know that there is more to this life than what exists inside this little bubble of a comfort zone. Step outside of it and see the entirety of the world you’ve been looking at through your single, little window.

Life goes on….

Peace

~TLT

 

Pawns in King Solomon’s Court

I have much on my mind this day, and the words seem stuck in my head as though they’re struggling to make it out of their tangled maze – though the results they dread. Children are a gift from God above. They’re given to us for whatever reasons He has seen fit. As we go through the motions of our lives, the little ones are often caught in the crossfire of mixed emotions and childish games. These little people have their very own thoughts and feelings though and are not meant to be used as pawns to cause pain to those we see fit to harm.

King Solomon of the Bible told the story about the selfishness of human beings who look out for their own best interest, rather than for the best interest of the child. We’re to guard them with our lives, hold them up to the highest esteem and keep them safe while they follow their own dreams. As parents we ought not to put them in a situation where they must make a choice to love one more than the other. There is naught that breaks my heart more than to watch the actions of a child who is so confused by the situation they believe in order to love their father, they cannot love their mother.

It would be the same feeling if the situation was reversed and a misguided child was under the assumption that in order to love his mother, he had to abandon his father. As parents it is our responsibility to love our children unconditionally and with a consistent nature so that they feel secure enough they know they don’t have to choose. I imagine myself in the shoes of the kings court….ready to sacrifice the child to the afterlife..in order to prevent them from being used as a tool to cause pain. I’d rather give up my own life and sacrifice my state of happiness than to make my children choose that which they should have no business choosing. They’re only children with very little thought of the future and have only a small idea of what they’ll be losing.

Children are not meant to make major life choices. Hence the reason why we’re not legally able to vote until we’re 18. They’re not capable of choosing what is the best for them and the remainder of their lives when they’re under the age of majority. This is the reason why children under the age of 15 or 16 are not able to drive at all and even once they do reach a given age, they must be supervised by an adult. We have to hold them up and make the right choices FOR them until they’re able to do so for themselves. It is so sad to me that grown people use children to seek an advantage over another. I didn’t choose to bring babies into this world to mother just so I could use them as pawns in a twisted game of chess. We’re adults supposedly….who should do what is best.

Until next time friends

~Peace

TLT

Anniversaries

An anniversary is so much more than simply a date on the calendar and when I hear people say that they married their best friend I wonder.

I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very worst and loves you even though it hurts. I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very best and loves you beyond life long tests.

I used to be envious of those couples who seem so in love whenever I saw them out and about but then I remembered what goes on behind closed doors is shrouded in clouds.I wonder how someone can love me for who I really am, if even I don’t know who that person is. I wonder how someone can love me through the good and the bad, when sometimes it seems that bad is all there is to be had.

It seems to me that saying one is married to their best friend may be undercutting the height to which love transcends. Marriage must transcend it all through the thick and the thin; through the times of financial struggle and times of ease; through the times of illness and of health. Yet those are only words we speak because when the line is drawn in the proverbial sand, you have to make a choice as to which side of life you will stand.

There are no easy answers and no instructions to follow, whether you are flying high as an eagle or drowning in a pool of sorrow. How will you manage to hold true to your words when they’re left tasting bitter on your lips? Why would you want to leave the person who steadies your emotions with just a hand on your hip?

A decade plus of marriage surely must show you how much you truly do not know this person you have married for better or for worse. Almost two decades of communication between the two surely must indicate that there is so much left to learn. There are choices to be made daily. That’s right I said, there are choices that have to be made – daily. As a wise woman recently said, life is all about choices and when we fail to make a choice that is a choice in itself.

Being married to another person is a study in patience, understanding and stamina to name but a few. When I am out among the trees, I am reminded of the likeness between my love of running and that of marriage.

There are hills to climb and as my friend Doug once told me, you are fighting yourself climbing those hills. Just go with the flow, he said, in his infinite wisdom. Take smaller steps and don’t work so hard. Being married is that way when every step feels like quicksand trying to pull you under to flounder in your misery. Quicken your steps, lighten the load and before you know it you feel as though you are once again floating along effortlessly.

I ask God to help me bite my tongue and guide my words daily. You see, some degree of faith in a power greater than me is necessary to trudge my way through when times are tough and the going is slow. There are things in this world I believe that only He knows. We make the plans but he sets the path and once again this is similar to running a race. We make plans to complete this race or that. We follow our plans and aim for a successful conclusion but sometimes there are lessons to be learned in the falling down and failing.

Anniversary is but a simple word that really means so much more….

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