New Goals and a New Hope

If you’ve been following along, you know that this blog has taken a little bit of a turn. Sure, it’s still about fitness, good food and healthy living, but, there haven’t been a lot of personal running stories, race recaps and reviews. There’s a reason for this!

This chapter in my life has been about slowing down. At first I saw this as a huge downfall and had a huge pity party. Those of you closest to me are well aware of this (thank you for loving me through it!).

Most of you know about my last few race experiences. Ending in scary experiences and hospital visits, there were some underlying issues that I’d been ignoring and trying to “push” through for a long time. After all, I had just gotten myself back into shape and was setting new PR’s…I decided that running was a part of who I was…part of what made me into me. That’s a dangerous spot for a sport, or anything external, to fill.

Having to give it all up started with pulling from the Wineglass Marathon that’s coming up in October. I was so excited to conquer a new goal and to go for it, that I stopped listening to my body and thought I could push through. Bottom line? I couldn’t. Since then, it’s been about stepping back.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a knee injury and a heart condition. While one is more easily repaired than the other, the more serious of the two has been with me for a long time. Anyone with issues knows that they can be downers. It’s hard to admit that maybe something just isn’t possible, especially when you want it so bad, because of something that’s completely out of your control. Because of this, I kept pushing. I ran myself down so far that I put myself in danger…it’s taken time, but, I’ve learned that there are way too many positives in this life, too many amazing promises out there just waiting for us to find them, to define ourselves by one activity alone. It’s not a good place to be.

So, I’ve stepped back. I’ve reevaluated, I’ve listened to doctor’s orders and I’ve learned to find passion elsewhere. I can’t wait to run again; I got the news yesterday that I might be able to do it and reach for other dreams and goals too, in the near future! While there is great hope in these promises, I’m okay regardless. I’ve found joy elsewhere. John will be running his first full marathon and hoping to Boston qualify in October, in the marathon I was supposed to be running. Had I been running, he’d be doing it by my side; this gives him a chance to fulfill one of his dreams. This might sound like cheating…it’s still running, right? Yes, it is, but before my competitive spirit would have stopped me from being able to fully support him; I’m grateful that this has changed.

Learning to Laugh

(Learning to laugh!)

I’ve gotten back to evaluating what’s best for my family, putting my efforts into my kids and loving watching them grow. These years are far too precious to let slip by. I’ve found a love of cheering others on and helping  them achieve their fitness goals; before I was too inwardly focused to play this role. I’ve opened up more books, I’ve enjoyed a little more relaxation, I’ve reopened the keyboard and dove head first into music again, I’ve found that walking can be an excellent release and I’ve learned that true happiness can be found by connecting on a deeper level with those around me. This life is too great not to share it with others!

Will I run again? Maybe not competitively, BUT I hope that there are a few races in my future, races that I can take slow and enjoy once I get the clear, I’d really like to do the St. Jude Half for Team Toby Mac in April, raise money for a good cause and just enjoy…but who knows! Sometimes it’s hard to write and hard to share during a storm. However, I think that there are others who need could learn from what I have; who maybe need the courage to slow down, to set new goals and to find a new hope. We’re not defined by one thing we do. Life’s too complex and wonderful for that. There’s way too much joy in this journey 🙂

Piano

(Letting music back in!)

 

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What Inspires You?

This year feels like it has packed enough into it to fill many, many years. From a lot of travel, job changes and family changes to many super “highs” followed by super “lows,” I am beginning to understand what people mean when they say that life sometimes feels like a roller coaster. You know what I mean – we’ve all been there, right?

Well, this week, I had the chance to step back and to just take it all in. Each year, my family heads down to Ocean City, NJ. To a lot of people it’s a fun, family-friendly beach town that offers a break. To me, it’s always been something more. I even wrote about it in an essay contest in high school (read here).

While growing up, I spent many, many summers there. My Nana owned a condo and to this day, it’s where I feel closest to her. To me, this break is about family, about memories, about tradition and about a break from everything else that’s out there. This week was not different from others – we spent lots of time in the ocean and on the beach, a few aunts and even my great aunt came down throughout the week to share some laughs and great conversations, we enjoyed the best food the Jersey shore has to offer and we savored the time we all have together before our move takes us out of state, away from the stark familiarity that exists in that beach paradise that lives in my heart all year round.

But, while we spent lots of times making memories, I took the time to back pedal and to enjoy just “being.” See, when I was younger, I’d wake up before everyone else, grab a board, a camera and a notebook and head up to the boards. From there, I’d go sit in the sand and wait for sunrise. I’m telling you, the most spectacular moments of beauty that I’ve ever experienced have taken place on that beach, on that cold familiar sand. You’ll see more of what I mean in the essay I linked to above, but that’s not what this is about.

This time, instead of using that beauty to inspire something else, I just let it take hold. I spent mornings watching the sky switch from nighttime gray to light pink to the most amazing combinations of pinks and purples that nature has to offer. I watched it reflect off the ocean and watched the tide clear away the foam of the night before. Instead of trying to get something more, to write something amazing or to try to capture it on film, I just soaked it in.

I thought about this life, about why we’re here and about what really matters. I reveled in the beauty that cannot be something that happens because of chance and I counted all of my blessings, or as many as I could before losing the idea of counting completely. I realized that I am blessed. We all are. We are all able to witness amazing miracles on a daily basis if we just take the time to let them take hold.

We’re all a part of something more, of something bigger than ourselves. To me, this is inspiring. It pushes me to let down my walls and to be there for others. It empowers me to stop focusing on things that could be considered setbacks, and to look for possibilities. It makes me want to explore and to experience everything without holding back. It pushes me to be everything that I’m supposed to be.

All this from a sunrise…a few minutes in time that can never be relived or modified, something completely beyond my control. What has inspired you lately? What will you do with that inspiration?

Sunrise