Thursday, July 19, 2012
This day was...a day. I am completely and totally emotionally depleted as I write this. It started last night actually. Our company is having our once per year project managers' face to face meeting. Lucky for me, it's here in Bloomington so I don't have to travel for it. But, since it's here and since I am the Executive Director's right-hand woman, the mantle of hostess falls to us. My boss got stuck in Austin, TX last week because her husband had a medical emergency and was still in the hospital down there. So, here I am (a nobody, really) left to welcome these project managers in and show them a great time.
We had a team dinner last night and it was lovely. Ate WAY too much. Drank WAY too much. It's easy to do when everything is on the company's dime. You know, I've still not learned how to balance food in this specific realm. If I am not paying for it, I will stuff myself...even if I KNOW I'm going over on calories and I'm not hungry. But it's like, "Why WOULDN'T I order wine and dessert if it's FREE?" I have GOT to get this under control before my next business trip - because, at the end of my next business trip, is a flight home to Indy and a half marathon the very next morning. I can't be messing around with food that week.
Of course, what I'm insinuating is that I also ate horribly all day today too. UGH! I feel SO gross!!!
In addition to the food issues today, I am completely beat...I mean, thinking all day really takes it out of ya. Being totally serious here. Strategizing and focusing and taking notes and trying to understand tech speak for 8 hours is just exhausting.
But it's not just that. If I could get real and just admit something...I am so new to this whole "professionalism" thing. I feel SO out of place. I thought I was doing pretty well for most of the day today. But, upon leaving the meeting, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of not being good enough. Like I'm just SO out of my league here and what am I DOING thinking I can fit into this world? I look back on the entire day and I see the things that I said and think, "Oh, Leah...why did you SAY that? It must have come off as SO unprofessional or obnoxious! What a terrible way to represent the Foundation." I keep trying to learn and I keep messing up. Will I ever get the hang of this?
On top of the feelings of professional failure, my co-worker was upset with me because I didn't help support her more during our presentation on a daily company blog. I honestly don't know what I did wrong, but I could tell she was pretty angry.
And in the back of my mind, I'm dealing with all the other emotions from this other issue that I'm going through...the death of a special relationship, which I'm thoroughly grieving at all times underneath everything else in my life that's going on.
I got in my car and wanted to break into tears. In fact, I'm so completely wiped out right now, I will literally be going to bed as soon as I finish this blog. It is 7:33pm.
But, here's the thing...normally, I check my blog comments here on SparkPeople on a pretty regular basis as they are coming in. Today, I couldn't do that...obviously. Can you imagine the shock when I saw that my blog from yesterday already had 237 comments? Or that the comments on my Tears & Texting on the Trail blog have risen to 417?! First, I felt overwhelmed. I thought, "I just can't possibly put the energy into reading all of these tonight." But then I realized...I'll just get FURTHER behind if I don't do it now!
Do you know what happened when I started reading the 20 or so pages of comments that I'd missed? Comments from YOU wonderful and beautiful people? Some of you comment every single day. I know your face! I do! Or I know your avatar...like it's a familiar friend. I know more of you than you might realize. People constantly tell me that they are shocked I recognize them when I add them as friends or comment on their wall or whatever. You guys...I'm not a celeb. I'm just a chick who runs. LOL. Of course I know you! I know you all!
And this is all I have to say about that. I hear all the time...ALL the time..."you don't know what your blog meant to me today. If you only knew how many people you touch...etc etc etc."
Well, it's time to turn that back around on you.
If you only knew what your comments do for me (not just collectively but individually).
If you only knew that I read every single one.
If you only knew that your Spark Goodies and the notes that go with them make me cry tears of joy.
If you only knew how much energy reading your words gave me tonight, when I felt like less than nothing.
If you only knew how beautiful and powerful you are...and that you can do all that I blog about and more...you CAN.
If you only knew how unworthy of your attention I sometimes feel...and how badly I wish I could respond to every single comment and message.
If you only knew how many times I read what you write and think to myself, "I wish we could meet in real life and hang out."
God, if you only knew...
Some of you read my blog every single day. Some of you see me as some sort of lifeline.
But...if you all only knew...that you are my lifeline. You are what keeps me going. I would have given up. I would have gone back to my lazy life. I would have given in to depression. But....YOU kept me alive. Quite literally.
YOU saved ME. And you just keep doing it every single day. And I love you for it.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
So you've heard about revenge sex, right? How about rage running? Yeah, I didn't think so...because I believe a friend of mine just invented the term this morning. Haha.
So, it's no secret I've been going through the wringer with some stuff in my personal life right now. This morning, it occurred to me that I truly feel I've suffered a loss - a part of myself feels like it's been taken away. This is not the good kind of loss (loss of pounds). As with any loss, there is a grieving process.
I'm sure we've all heard this...that there are Seven Stages of Grief:
1. Shock & Denial - yep, done that (all last week)
2. Pain & Guilt - did you SEE my blog, "Tears & Texting on the Trail"????
3. Anger & Bargaining - apparently, I'm there right now
4. Depression, Reflection, Loneliness - oh goodie! I can't wait for that!!!
5. The Upward Turn - phew
6. Reconstruction & Working Through (aka Acceptance)
Well, that's lovely. And I'm sure my sarcastic tone is coming from my place of anger.
Anyway...this morning, I had NO desire to run. Just wanted to mope, you know? But, and I'm gonna be totally honest, I've got this competition thing going with SANDIEGOJOHN and I wanted to catch up with him in mileage MORE than I wanted to sit around and pout. Haha.
Walked out the door and, I kid you not, it felt like 90% humidity. UGH! Oh well...a quick two miles, eh?
You know...anger is a new fuel for running for me. I draw on a lot of emotions to fuel my runs. In the past, I've used:
But this was a first for me. Can I just tell you I was FLYING. Knowing my distance was relatively short helped a bit...but I was clocking a 12:49 pace (which is much faster than my previous 13:20 pace).
The only thing I have to say about a rage run is this...don't forget to stay loose. I had to remind myself a couple times to relax my shoulders and fists. Yes, form is still important, no matter what is going on in your head. Keep it in the back of your mind. Or the front...whatever you want.
When I got home, that humidity had seriously whipped me. SO. MUCH. SWEAT. Literally had to strip to my underclothes the second I walked in the door. Here's a photo, so you can be grossed out completely. (And, by the way, if this makes the SparkMail and is featured blog and this disgusting photo is plastered for all to see, I will die of embarrassment. Just sayin'.)
There you have it, friends. No matter what you've got boiling inside...get out there and run. You'll feel better. I promise.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Well, so far it seems that my ankle simply wanted to MOVE more! Pssshhh.
Woke up this morning at 5am because I wanted to get some great quiet time in and have a cup of coffee before my run. It's been 4 days since I've run and I was both excited and scared. I figured, I'd either wimp out in the first mile with ankle pain or it would be like the return of a dear old friend. I'm sure my nervousness was compounded by the fact that I was about to run a pretty long distance (5 miles) with a running partner (and no music!) I've only run with a partner ONE other time and that was a quick 3.1.
If you've been with me since my first days, you might remember my running buddy, Sarah. I met her on the trail...we used to pass each other a couple times every day and her smile was so bright and she seemed so friendly that I finally got up the nerve to pass her a note saying hello. (I made sure to tell her that I was not hitting on her. Haha.)
After that, we met for coffee to geek out about running and that hour flew by way too fast. We've been Facebook stalking each other a bit and it turns out we are both running the Fort4Fitness in September (my first 10k, her first half marathon) and we're also both running the Indianapolis Half Marathon in October. Small, small running world.
Here she is...isn't she prettttty?
I totally stole this photo off of her Facebook. So, if my blogs stop coming, you will know it's because she sued me for copyright and I am rotting away in jail. But, between you and me, I doubt that will happen...it wouldn't help her training any, let's put it that way.
So...guess what? This morning we went 5.31 miles in 1 hr 13 mins!!! (Put this up against my usual 3.1 mile time of 43 minutes. Are you understanding what a BIG DEAL this is to me???!)
We talked the entire time and, the more we chat, the more I see that we are really in the same boat. She just started running last Fall and has lost about the same amount of weight that I have lost. It was so refreshing to be able to just talk to someone who completely "gets" what I'm doing and knows how everything feels and understands my lingo and my obsession.
We saw FIVE deer....from a distance of, I don't know...10 feet??? I had no ankle pain at all. It was the best run I've ever had...and that's not an exaggeration. Also, it's the fastest I've ever continuously run. And I felt amazing afterwards and still do. It was EXACTLY what I needed after my super stressful day yesterday! I took a cool shower afterwards, which was DIVINE.
If you're a beginning runner and you worry about running with a partner, I'm telling you...try it. The miles seem to fly by. Before this, I had read over and over that I should try it and I was still skeptical...but it really is fun. So...go for it!
Sunday, July 15, 2012
This morning...simply put...my heart was heavy. I can't give you details, but I can tell you most assuredly that I carried a broken heart into church with me and I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. The issues weighing me down are complicated and confusing and, even though the situation is a consequence of my own actions and choices, it doesn't make the pain less violent.
To add injury to insult, I had some pretty bad ankle pain yesterday and missed my long run. The first long run I've missed...ever. Added to the emotional distress I was under, my self-confidence was at about zero. I literally had an all-out temper tantrum this morning...and it wasn't pretty. If there were EVER a time that I NEEDED to take a run, it was this morning.
My husband, seeing that I was a hot mess, said, "Leah, you need to go run." But...my ankle! His response: "You live with an EMT. Put on your ankle brace, go out and bring your cell phone and call me to pick you up if your ankle is hurting."
Well, I couldn't, in good conscience, run on my ankle after the way it was feeling yesterday so I compromised and decided to do the same length of my long run, but walk it easily instead. And that's what I did.
If you've been doing this healthy lifestyle thing for awhile, you might know what I mean when I say that exercise isn't just good for your body and a way to keep your weight in check. It is also extremely cleansing for the soul.
Today, I ditched the iPod and went out solo with a water bottle, my cell phone and my mess of thoughts. I have to be honest...I'd forgotten how nice it is to just walk sometimes. One of the best parts of walking is that I can text while I do it. It sounds silly...but when I'm out on the trail, I get some pretty deep thoughts. I've said before that I write all my blogs in my head while I'm on a run and that is true (you think I didn't weave this entry together in my head over the past two hours?) I text my key thoughts to my "inner circle" to get their reactions and to make sure I've got a record for later. It helps me process. You know...a lot of texts make it into my blogs. Now you know my secret.
The first mile, I cried. I sobbed. I just let it all out. No one was around. No one saw. I could just release.
Then...the tears stopped. And I just walked for awhile.
Mile 2: I was ready to have a little talk with God about everything. Out there on that trail, I laid it all out for Him. This is how I feel about such and such, God. This is where I feel betrayed...here is where I made a bad choice and did my own thing anyway...and, by the way, I'm SO sorry about that, God! I know this particular action didn't make You happy, but it made me happy and that was more important than You and, geez, I brought this on myself. I just want to feel this...I just want to be this certain way...I want my life to be like this. Can you understand that, God? And on and on it went....complete and total baring of my soul. Raw and real.
TEXT #1: "You know what's beautiful about Jesus? He doesn't hold our shi*t in front of us and rub our nose in it. He just forgives it and lets go and says, 'Move along now. My love for you never changed. Let's keep going." I can't understand that kind of mercy, but it soothes a broken heart more than you can imagine.
Mile 3: After the deluge of MY thoughts and feelings...silence. Just listening. And looking around...and really seeing where I was.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Is that...is that...THE SHIRE?" haha. Yeah...it sure is.
But, seriously, as my body moved and I began to sweat and breathe deeper, I actually looked up and saw the sky and somewhere along the way, it hit me that my little problems are so small in the greater scheme of things. There is SO much more to my life than these issues I'm dealing with. And I realized, "My gosh, it's a BEAUTIFUL day today!"
TEXT #2: I'm stronger than all this emotional mess...I lean on a Power that's bigger than my own feeble heart. The darkest moments in my life come when I say, "no thanks" to that Power.
The remaining 2.5 miles were spent just thinking about all the good things that I have. And, would you believe I came home feeling healed and whole? The situation hasn't changed, friends. My outlook on my life has. And it all came about because I made a choice to go out and move my body.
Exercise isn't a "magic pill" but there certainly is some magic in it.
I suppose it's only fitting to end this one with one of the greatest quotes from The Lord of the Rings. I swear, this could have been my friend and I texting this morning. Replace Frodo with "Leah" and Sam with "Inner Circle Friend".
FRODO: I can't do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn't. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding onto, Sam?
SAM: That there's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo... and it's worth fighting for.
Friday, July 13, 2012
I remember the night we met like it was yesterday. I was young, just 18 years old...a freshman at Purdue University and I hadn't really connected with a group of friends yet. I'd tagged along with some girls from the floor of my dorm to a party at a friend's apartment. She was breathtakingly beautiful. She was a junior and a member of the Purdue Women's Water Polo team.
She had a ton of friends at this party, but she sat and talked to me. I was so insecure. How could a girl like THIS actually care about some dorky freshman like ME? But, she asked me questions and really listened to my answers. It was clear that she wanted to know me. Not just because she was a leader of the club, but because she had a loving heart.
Over the next 2 years, Allison took me under her wing and mentored me, led a Bible study, prayed with me, allowed me to be completely honest with her and challenged me to become a better version of myself and to dive deeper into my faith. I looked up to her in a way I can't describe to you. There was a joy and a peace in her spirit that I've never found in another person since.
I remember the horrible phone call in 2001. I had graduated from Purdue by then and was making a decent living in Chicago, when my best friend called with the news that there had been an accident. Allison had been on the beach, having fun with a group of students and dived into a wave headfirst. The ensuing days were a nightmare for all of us that loved her...there was the initial worry that she wouldn't make it, then the frightening news that she was paralyzed from the neck down, prayers for complete healing and a firm answer of "no" from God on those prayers.
Floundering faith...tears of sadness...dreams washed away with that one ferocious wave.
But all of us should have known that Allison wasn't one to stay down. She had her dark time and moved past it. She came back...with style. From that point, our lives took diverging paths.
Allison fought through rehab and learned how to live in her new state.
I lived it up in Chicago, completely self-centered and pretty much gave myself whatever my heart desired.
Allison joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and continued to impact students' lives in a positive way.
I got married and had three little ones. All the while, I ate my feelings and abused my body with excessive food.
Allison found an amazing man and they got married.
My health declined to the point that I could not care for my family the way they deserved to be cared for.
Allison became active in wheelchair sports.
I became depressed and gave up on myself.
Through every adversity, Allison has been an inspiration. I'm sure there are many that find her inspirational because of her accident (and rightly so), but I must tell you...she was always this way. There was never a time when she was NOT an inspiration to me. And she continues to be one.
Why do I tell you this story about this beautiful and amazing woman??? Because, when I had my accident, Allison and I were finally on parallel paths...for a few months at least. My family had to purchase a new bed so I could sleep in the living room because I couldn't go upstairs with 5 broken bones. I was wheelchair-bound for at least a month and it's difficult to maneuver a wheelchair with a broken leg AND broken arm on the same side of your body. The most mundane, everyday things were impossible for me. The day I couldn't put my hair in a ponytail or, frankly, wipe my own behind in the bathroom, was a real eye opener for me. For me to compare my accident to what Allison has been through would be blasphemy. But...in some small and tiny way, I was able to get a taste of a COUPLE of the difficulties that she deals with on a daily basis.
This is why, when I run...it is not just an exercise routine for me. It is a life-giving activity. I saw this photo awhile back and thought of what I have come through...and, yes, thought of Allison:
In light of this deep gratitude I feel for running, I would like to dedicate my first half marathon to Allison - one of the brightest lights that's ever graced my life. When I take to that course in October, it will be her spirit that pulls me through those 13.1 miles. And I can't wait to see those beautiful eyes smiling at me when I cross that finish line.
Allison's take on life - in her own words (taken from her FB page):
"Had a diving accident in '01 that left me paralyzed and on a journey I would never take back. It's hard, don't get me wrong. I miss the simplicity of life...things I used to take for granted...like typing with all fingers!...and am sad from time to time when I can't do something I really miss doing. Yet, in the midst of all that, I have sooooo much to be thankful for. I pray that I would live for what I can DO, not for what I can't and think on what I have, not what I lack. I pray that God would use me far more than I could imagine...that I'd live a thankful life and maybe help others who hurt along the way. There is hope. Through Jesus Christ we have access to the Father and in the Father, we have life...true life. Life that will one day give me a new body. Life where they'll be no more pain, no more struggles, no more sin. Life that we can experience even NOW. I pray you know this life and if not, please ask me about it, cuz it was meant for you too!"
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