Sunday, August 31, 2014

Running Downhill

Uphill takes forever and no matter which direction I run, there always seems to be more up hills than down. Why? I guess because we take longer to run uphill. Downhill I speed up and it is over quickly. Same with life, the harder hills seem to take forever, but once you crest you can cruise down. It all comes down to this: is it worth the climb? If you ski, you might say yes. When I am running full speed down a hill, the wind in my hair and a smile on my face, I say hell yes. There are always going to be climbs, times throughout the journey where it is just so hard, when you are breathless and ready to collapse. For me, my mind wants to give up right before the crest, but I know if I just hang on, the view will present itself. I reach the top, legs sore, lungs burning, and slow for the descent, the delicious, glorious descent. The descent is why we run, that feeling of being alive, the absolute joy of losing control. It is over soon, and life returns back to normal, maybe a few gentle bumps, some flat open spaces, and a few twists and turns. What I need to remember, while in the midst of a life climb, is that the crest will appear, and the freedom of the downhill only comes after I climb. I worked hard to earn my college degrees, and the feeling of freedom, of joy and accomplishment after receiving that diploma...that is why I brave the hills. Today, jobless, I slowly make my way up another hill. I send out resumes, I search online databases, and I ask for help. I climb. I don't know when the crest will come, but for this one moment, right here and now, I believe I will make it up that hill, maybe with sore legs, but the downhill will be so much fun.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I was called skinny the other day. As someone who has always struggled with weight I wasn't sure whether to be happy or frustrated by a so-called compliment. I finally settled on frustrated. I have lost 20 pounds, but have worked my butt off by running and weight lifting. I have gained muscle mass. I would have rather been called fit, or strong. Weight has always been an issue for me, and I have been sensitive about my lack of, or abundance, for as long as I can remember.

When I was younger I participated in a gymnastics program. I worked on cartwheels, rolls, back bends and front walkovers. I wasn't built like a gymnast, but I had fun. Today in yoga class I remembered how flexible I was and how things have changed. Why did I ever stop, I muse. I know the reason, and today it seems pathetic, but it wasn't to my twelve-year-old self. Someone wondered how I could do gymnastics with my larger thighs. That was all it
took, I quit the next season and I spent the next years battling with body image, overeating and lack of exercise. Today I am 41; I run at least 5 miles a day, and with the recent addition of yoga, have begun to get my former flexibility back. It was just a few words, how could they be so powerful?

Words hurt and affect us in unimaginative ways. But in order for the words to hurt, we must allow them to. And if I am upset or elated by another's comment about my weight, it means that I am allowing another's opinion to become part of me; I become fat or skinny or scrawny or buxom. These are merely labels. When did our culture become so obsessed with the way a body appears? And why is it ok to comment about someone's body? When did the body become a commodity for consumption, the property of the public? Young women are forced to cover up in school, because it "distracts" the boys; mothers who breastfeed in public are shunned or shamed; advertisements with scantily clad women are plastered on park benches. We act as if, as a culture, we have a right to judge the bodies of others, whether the supermodel or the pregnant woman in the check out lane.

Did that person have a right to tell my 6th grade self that her thighs were too large to participate in gymnastics? Is it ok for people to comment on the weight I have lost or gained (I have had it both ways.) After all, both extremes take a lot of hard work. I don't know the answer, just for today I choose to wake up early and run, not because it will make me "skinny," but because I feel alive when I run, I am closer to God, and yes, it affords me the right to eat extra popcorn.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

When Life Hands You Lemons...

Make lemonade, they say. I think that I am about to disagree. In order to make lemonade one must add sugar, lots of sugar. Sugar rots your teeth. Instead, why not make a new drink altogether? After all, lemonade is over rated. As some may know I have been actively looking for a full time teaching position. One such position had opened in a community of which I was a part, my dream job with supportive people and kids I adore. I have worked part time in this community for three years now, and found out last week that someone with more experience and expertise was hired. Lemons...I could add a bunch of sugar. But does this rejection mean that I have been forcing myself into a world in which I do not fit? Sure, I could continue looking for that elusive position, even widen my search to schools within a two hour commuting time, but if I need to add sugar, why not just have a different drink altogether? If I cannot fit into a community of which I was an active participant, then maybe I am looking in the wrong places. I love to teach. I love working with young adults. I love literature and writing. But does that mean that I would love teaching literature and writing to young adults? There has to be something that I am missing.

It was 1am when I wrote this. I had found out the day before that I did not get my dream job. I had been crying and could not sleep. I had forgotten the greater purpose, forgotten that God never leads me astray. I had been trying to fit myself into that square hole again. Maybe because of fear, fear that I will continue to struggle financially, fear that  I'll never have enough. And they are valid fears, I have defaulted on student loans and I cannot seem to keep up with my bills on the income I have been earning.  I think that fear has blinded me to a world of possibilities other than that road which seems to be the right choice because others have taken it. If I were not afraid, what would I do? Would I be a writer who teaches or a teacher who writes? A year from now I will return to this post, and say, "ah, that is what the Universe was thinking." Today, not so much. But for that few moments when I sat down at the keyboard and typed, I was no longer the square peg. I think I am going to make a smoothie instead, much healthier.

What next?