What’s the worst thing that could happen?

When asked, what’s the worst thing that could happen, my face fell, my insides froze. I could not possibly speak, I could not respond. My mind was full of jumbled thoughts and indecipherable emotions. I am intellectually rational enough to know that I have to leave my baggage in the suitcases along the side of the road I travel on, but at the same time, memories don’t disappear, experiences inform future decisions.

I asked the universe to inform me how to deal with today, how to live in the moment; I’ve asked it that a lot this week, because while I’m by nature impulsive, I try to rein that part of myself in and operate in a more scientific mode, to create balance in my life. But human interaction should be more spontaneous, frivolous even, as someone else put it. This morning, my daughter brought me my old journal I used while student teaching; it’s in a skull notebook she always coveted, so I tore out my pages and gave it to her. In reviewing the pages, all that remained were to-do lists and one very profound self-reflection, which I’ll reproduce here.

Late Winter 2012…..

Happy can be scary.
Why you ask?
Well, misery is a feeling with which I am much more familiar.

Scared? Oh hell yes. I am scared. Why, you ask? Because I am happy, that’s why. Because I was so accustomed to misery, unhappiness, pain. Because my life, until recent times, was no fairy tale. Or was it? A fairly nightmare, at least. But, let’s deal with here and now.
I have supportive friends and family, I am pursuing my dreams, and I am healing myself. I go to “work” happy every single day. So for the uninitiated what about being happy would make me, or anyone else, fearful? It’s so simple, I cannot believe you missed it. I’m scared that the happy will leave me. I worry that I will be unable to sustain happiness, I worry that life will become “hard” or mean again. By some people’s standards, my life is pretty hard right now. But by my standard, life is damn good and I do not want it to change. I do not want to feel unfulfilled, unhappy, miserable, sad, fearful anymore. I understand life will have hard, difficult moments like last Friday that might set me back temporarily, but instead of trudging along, I feel like I can bounce up and forward.
Forward. Yes. Pay it forward. Move forward. Do I look back to see what might be chasing me? Not so much. I just try to keep my eyes focused forward while my ears and other senses listen for danger. I am forward focused. My past is what it is. Better yet, it was what it was. I am not limited to or fully defined by whence I came. I can be today defined by who I want to be, what I want to be, how I want to be.

Profound stuff, right? So why was this entry placed in my hands today? Probably because I was looking back to see what was chasing me, and because I have been elated by the developments of my life but also fearful of letting the happiness course through me. When I run, I know the adrenaline and dopamine rush are temporary, and I accept it because I know I can run again. The struggle comes when I cannot run. This is the same, but different. I am happy, but I cannot guarantee this happiness will continue. I am not in charge. I can only enjoy every happy moment and not look too far ahead to see if the happiness will still be with me. Teaching will have happy and unhappy days, and I know that I will live to create another happy day as an educator. Other aspects of my life I may not find it easy to live in the moment, since it’s less about looking forward and more about living in the here and now. Even as I read my notes from almost a year ago, I see that theme; I can look forward and back, but I am uncomfortable, alone, in the now.

There’s always room for personal growth. My self-esteem is growing by leaps and bounds, and it feels great! My friend said as I grow stronger, to remember to stay humble and focus on helping others. I will say, for now, that’s where my focus will be–helping others and letting go of what I cannot foresee. I free myself today to be happy, to live for today in order to make tomorrow even brighter.snoopy%20life

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What is your running story?

Memorial Day MOG @work, 2008.  Just about 2 months after I started walking and had added a few intervals

Memorial Day MOG @work, 2008. Just about 2 months after I started walking and had added a few intervals

Let me start this blog by giving credit to Radiolab, WYNC.org for the podcast Shorts: In the running, about a woman named Diane Van Daren. If you’re a runner, you MUST listen to this podcast, it’s just incredible; if you’re not a runner, listen anyway, her story is amazing. http://www.radiolab.org/blogs/radiolab-blog/2011/apr/05/in-running/

So it got me thinking that I wanted to write a blog asking my few readers, what is your running story? I want to know that magic moment that made you decide to lace up your shoes and take off on more than a walk for the first time? Especially those of you who weren’t runners as children and came into running later in life, like me. Diane was always an athlete, but as I’ve indicated before, I had severe asthma and was discouraged from exercise, I struggled to breathe through anything, whether it was swimming, or talking, or gym class, you name it. I felt like a total freak with my loud lungs…..

My running story began in 2008. I’m exactly 5’6.5″, and I was walking with my coworkers, J, J, L and N. One J is about 5’9″ but the other three are just 5″ tall. And they were lapping me, meaning they would get so far ahead they would have to turn around and circle back to rejoin me. I was obese, my son was just months old, and I’d struggled with obesity since I was in my early 20’s. At this point, I’m 35 years old, and I’m fiercely determined to change the course of my life and be a success with weight loss so that I don’t DIE from sleep apnea and asthma. So, we’re walking in our work clothes at this point, we started in March, but I’m getting sick and tired of being lapped. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED that my coworkers were supporting me instead of leaving me, but I’m mad at myself for being a slow whale (sorry but that’s what I felt in my head at the time).

So we start to change clothes before our walks because we’re getting really sweaty as the weather warms up, and I start to jog to catch up with them before they can loop me, and I’m completely out of breath as I do it, but there is this RUSH in my brain, this intoxicating feeling of joy, empowerment, control, determination……it is intoxicating. I want more, more, and more. So I intentionally walk run, walk run and love my little “sprints” to catch up with my teensy coworkers. I was incredibly consistent in my walk/runs, I made no excuses, and meanwhile I made drastic changes in my way of eating as well. I did my first 5k October 2008 (Ghost N Goblins), and I ran part of it with another friend, H. My first time headed toward the finish line clock was another pivotal moment; I was totally focused on finishing in under X minutes…..and I did. The feeling that rushed through me was even more intense, almost orgasmic. I was hooked, 100% on running, even though I was still 205 lbs and slow….but in this process, I had lost 70 lbs.

I became a runner in 2008. The girl who never played a sport, the uncoordinated girl no one wanted for her team, the taunted mocked girl took control of her destiny in a pair of walking shoes. I traded the walking shoes for running shoes and I’ve never stopped. I lost more weight and I gained some back, and I think I’m pretty stable now, which has me heavier and therefore slower than I was in prior years, but it’s 2013 and I am logging more miles than ever. I’ve completed 5 half marathons and many, many other races. Maybe my story wouldn’t play as well on a podcast, but the fact is, it is just as much of a miracle, because I think running not only saved my life, but became an inextricable part of my identity.

Please share with me your running/athlete/life changing story, I want to hear them all!

Old poetry…..cleaning out my files as I veer down a new path

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Before you

Before the water was always murky
Scary, dark, unknown
Before I couldn’t see the light
Only darkness, fog, confusion
Before the path was overgrown
Weeds, trees, impenetrable
Before the sun always obscured by thunderclouds
Looming, black, menacing

Since I met you
The water is clear
The light is visible
The path though rocky is traversable
The sun shines through the rain

All the before was just practice, preparation, conditioning
Painful, ugly, scarring even…….
Developed in me the deepest appreciation for human kindness
So that when you appeared before me
Part of me knew…….
I had finally found the one.

Kerensa Hughes 8-3-11

    OK So now this made me cringe a little, laugh a little, want to puke a little. But there is truth in it, temporarily, that person brought light to my life. Now I know that it wasn’t that he illuminated my life so much as I shone more brightly for a time with him.

    NOW I know how to light my own days and nights!

Beautiful Soul

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Curled up inside
Emotionally fetal
Self-protective
Nauseous
Frightened
of…..?

Feeling
Attachment formed
But not returned
Adrift.

Anchor myself
Strong
Steady
Loyal
Faithful
I am.

Ecstacy
Evades me
Sadness
Overwhelms
Fear
Overrides all.

Get a grip
Take control
Own it….
Feel it…
RELEASE
RELINQUISH
Embrace
Fear.

Strong
Intense
Passionate
Loving
Generous
Caring
Impulsive
Disorganized
Intelligent
Thoughtful…
Aspects
of
my
Beautiful Soul.

Imagine
Wings unfurled
Free
of
Nausea
Pain
Anxiety
Sadness
Happily
Fly
to
Next
Destination.

Crisis of confidence

alice-chesire

Melody Beattie says to feel the feeling and release it in order to cope with uncomfortable or painful emotions when you are a recovering codependent. Anytime I feel the rising panic, fear, doubt, pain, loss, grief, I try to follow this rule. I believe, today, I am suffering from a crisis of confidence. I am at the launching point for my new career and I have made great personal strides in my emotional health. I am poised for success and my hard work is paying off in 2013. So what is driving my crisis? Fear of the unknown is the unifying principle; unknown in career, in professional peers, impact on training which somewhat defines my existence in all of my roles in life–motherhood, finance professional, licensed teacher, runner, swimmer, friend, cousin, niece…..how will this leap change me? What will the impact on my identity be? I am not just changing jobs, I am altering the course of my life, and I think some fear is normal, it certainly isn’t paralyzing me, but I am uncomfortable nonetheless.

I am at times painfully self-aware, and other times when running on impulse, I lose that filter. Today I am in slow motion, very aware of every nuance, every light change, every moment. I am grieving the impending loss; disconnecting from the family of coworkers that has supported and walked life with me for over six years. If I were to analyze my job changes over the years, I would say it is the pattern of a child who did not come from a stable home environment; I changed companies and even careers to avoid permanent attachments. If I look at it from an intellectual perspective, I was simply bored and seeking new challenges and new life experiences. There is likely truth in both analyses. I know that as a teacher of students with exceptional learning needs, the opportunities for new experiences and growth are virtually endless; I can work in different schools, different assignments, different populations, different subjects. The field is always evolving the rules are always changing and I enjoy that; it does not intimidate or frighten me. I intend to pursue more licenses and additional degrees; I am nowhere near “finished” and ready to settle. I was ecstatic but today I think my old demons of doubt are haunting me, perhaps because I’ve been trained to doubt myself, or perhaps because I am experiencing sensory overload.

Good news is, I am not resorting to any unhealthy addictions to deal with these emotions. I am facing them head on. I am hugging my coworkers and telling them how I feel here and now, not wasting precious time keeping all of these sharable feelings to myself. I think, and hope, these emotions are a normal part of this transition as I continue down the life path that was indicated for me. I fought for this, I put every bit of myself into the process of becoming an educator, and it is my time to put theory to practice, to have my own students, to truly make a difference. I know where I am headed, in a general sense, I know where I will be teaching, and I know what the expectations are, and I know I am on the right path. The crisis of confidence is passing as quickly as it came, because I have no time for doubt; I must continue down this path, wherever it may go.

Bliss? Happiness?

Shelby, in Steel Magnolias, said “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

I’ve used this quote often to justify risking rejection, risking pain, risking death, risking LIFE.

But the truth is, sometimes, the fear of the loss, particularly the potential loss of a person who brings joy into my life, paralyzes me in tears. Taking a chance to live in the moment, to build a friendship with someone who isn’t in the same place, who doesn’t want all of the same things, who isn’t poised to find a single person to share his time with, fills me with foreboding and sadness. Why is that? Why do I spout this quote but find myself unable to just enjoy the time I have, the season of knowing someone, feel the good feelings that I feel when I’m with him; why do I require an end game? I’m happy alone so why does feeling fill me with fear and sadness? There is no security in life, emotionally or physically. There are no guarantees.

I have a lot of exploring to do emotionally to decipher myself, why our differing objectives fill me with pain. But for now, I’ll stay the course. I’ll try to let the bliss happen and live in the moment; but I recognize that this sadness I feel here and now could bleed into the bliss and destroy it; I do not know how to dispel the sadness so that I can experience the joy, that ability eludes me.

Happiness and bliss are beyond my locus of control; I realize that it is not just my state of mind, but the alignment of people, places and things to design moments which fit with what my mind seeks for pleasure, to alleviate some of my daily anxiety. My heart races as I type this; my fear of losing someone compatible is palpable; do I fear it because it has happened so often in the last year? I used to fear being alone, but I’ve learned to love and enjoy that so much; sharing Thai, the best dessert ever, rock wall climbing and coffee with one person reminded me of how much more there is to be enjoyed with someone else; and now I hate to think I would lose it and be forced to look for it again.

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I wrote this on 1/21/13. And that person wasn’t ready and is gone now. But I think I am proud of myself for staying the course and letting it happen, it was an important exercise in letting go of what isn’t mine to control.