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

 

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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

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?

 

Reflection…..

As I look back I realize that so much has happened in the last 6 – 8 months – although at the time it seemed that there was not much at all going on. Funny how that happens! This weekend was the culmination of about 6 MONTHS of planning for me and probably much more than that for the organizers of Ragnar Relay Texas Hill Country. It seems like just last week I was promoting Ragnar at The Army Marathon expo and working out the details of a Runners Clinic with Joey Bishop of Endurance Outfitters!

Besides the athletic side of my life there is so much more that takes place, outside of public view. My life as a mother and wife; adjunct instructor of adult education….friend to a small circle of folks as well as the inner world of my own psyche. This inner world is the one I was reflecting on as I walked my 75 lb lab for three miles in an attempt to calm my mind and ease my spirit – as well as tire out the dog. I was thinking about all the times we all say ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ – usually with regret or longing.

This weekend I let go of those phrases and just went with the flow! No expectations other than to finish each loop of the relay successfully – meaning w/o sustaining any injuries! I have found that our expectations of ourselves and others are often the very source of our dissatisfaction with one thing or another. Think about it like this: You enter a contest with the expectation that you will do so well as to place in the top three of all the contestants, you work as hard as you can to live up to each and every expectation you had as well as all those expectations you believe others have place on your shoulders. At the end of the contest, after done your best and believing with all your heart that you deserve first place – not only do you NOT place in the top three, but you don’t even place in the top 10. What happens to your sense of self? What are your immediate thoughts about all your planning and preparation? Immediately following a perceived failure, our sense of self is dashed and we wonder what’s so wrong with us and what we could have done differently.

What if…..we had worked harder? What if….we had pushed a little further? If only…we had not developed blisters. If only….we had more sleep….You get the idea. So, with this lesson on expectations in my mind, I decided to enter this 36 hours of Ragnar Relay without ANY expectations! No expectations of my friends and teammates other than to be present – but after 6 months of changes – I was READY for someone to bail at the last minute. I had no expectation that I would finish the 7 1/2 mile loop of the relay in under an hour or even two hours…no expectation other than to FINISH. I allowed the time to simply flow…I followed the lead of others around me and the situation and just let it unfold.

You know what happened? I enjoyed myself!! I wasn’t stressed out and irritated! In this moment of reflection I find that I am SATISFIED with the outcome….This is AMAZING!

My friend John S. posted a note to our team page this morning and it surprised me a little. This is what he said, “Just wanted to say thank you to Lynn. You have been a remarkable friend, mentor, training partner, and pain in the butt!! I could not have asked to be on a better team and honored that you invited us all to share in this experience with you!” Why was I surprised? I guess because I didn’t see myself as anything other than a pain in the butt….and maybe a training partner to a few of my teammates! 😉 My EXPECTATIONS of myself and my role in the lives of others was minimized.

To all of the members of my Ragnar Team – THANK YOU! Norma, Jason, Jack, Jenell, James, Marlene and last but certainly not the least…John S. Every single one of you gave your best, tried your hardest and left it out there somewhere in the middle of Comfort, Texas! I am so thankful to have great training partners, friends and friendly competitors among you. I also want to say thank you to our volunteer Sarah and a Lady by the name of Liz (Johns wife) who is always gracious, volunteers to help others, provides food for the hungry athlete, and blankets for the cold! Thank you Liz!

This was a weekend of wonderful memories! Now……on to the NEXT adventure! Who’s ready?!! 😀

Until next time….PEACE

Reflection of 2013

Where to begin? That’s always the question is it not. 2013 saw a lot of growth for me as a runner mostly and some changes as an overall athlete. My focus really changed  from Trithlons to just running and biking events due to a feeling of complete failure as a swimmer. Coming in almost dead freakin last during every swim undertaken and then having to bust my tail on the bike to catch up to my wave……only to expend too much energy in the first 2 events and absolutely dying during the run. This had to change and it did – because I gave up swimming altogether. Sadly.

I completed my second ever marathon, The Army Marathon in April of this year and despite really not training like I had planned and having to visit the porta john somewhere around mile 19, I STILL managed to shave off around 10 minutes from my previous marathon time in San Antonio a few months prior. I also became well acquainted with the phenomenon of the runners black toenail!! Hah! Something about that distance just rubs my poor toes the wrong way apparently, but only on my right foot – which is the larger of the 2.

I started spending a lot of time running with these people, who I call, “the boys”. Although they are all grown men by any estimation – to me they are simply the boys. Their ages are irrelevant really. It is their hearts, quirky sense of humor and the knowledge that if I needed something they would be there that kept me running with them through the year. We spent many a mornings out on the trails here locally. Sometimes we would have a good day and we’d all be “on”, running until our time was up or we had met our distance for the day without anyone falling out. Other days, one of us would beg off from the rest of the crew with something as simple as a headache or more sinister and annoying as a stomach bug that decided to wait until we hit the trail to decide that it must make a quick exit……NOW.

The relationships I have made or strengthened this year with my running buddies, men and women alike are truly priceless! J.T…my ever present running buddy for every race or event I thought I may want to do. Who frustrated me with her ability to smoke the trails – despite swearing off road running because she hated it so much. The keeper of the trail tissue 🙂 and my road guard when the belly bug would strike and I’d have to pay a visit to the treeline.

P.C.W…my on again, off again training partner of all things NOT related to running. Although she did manage to sneak in a few runs with me and was my running partner for the Army Marathon she was mostly my swim and triathlon partner. Someone who does not know the word QUIT. Always a smile on her pretty face! Whether it was hill training in 96 degree heat in July or visiting with her and her new grand baby – she never has a negative word to say.  J.S and A.B……men I spent a great deal of time with on the trails. Picking their brains about all things related to the trails and giving them as much crap as possible – and was returned, always returned. The greatness of these people is that we all look out for each other!

At this, the close of 2013, I find myself coming almost full circle in that I am once again contemplating swimming. Not just any swim but the completion of a goal to finish a Half Ironman distance triathlon!! CRAZY talk eh?!! I know, I know. But you know, I don’t really have quit in me either. I WILL prepare for and complete my first one in Austin, October of 2014!!  Between now and then……….well that’s a post for another day. In the meantime, here are some pictures as evidence of the absolute FUN I had over the year and the people I experienced it with. Thanks for the memories boys! And the girls too of course!! Ha ha