the difference it makes

Baby Gus will be 15 months old tomorrow.

It’s hard to believe.  On the one hand, time has flown so quickly and it feels like it was just yesterday that he was in my belly.

On the other hand, I cannot imagine what life was like without him in it.  He is a permanent piece of my world, as essential to me as the air I breathe.  He made the world a brighter, more colorful place from the moment he was born.  I didn’t even know that was possible, but when two became three it just about blew me away, how blessed I was.
When I was pregnant with Gus, I thought a lot about what life would look like once he arrived.  How we would balance everyone’s needs and stay on top of things on a daily basis.  How I would keep everyone feeling happy and loved and as though they mattered — including myself.

By that point in my life I had realized something very important – running is a form of self expression for me.  It is my way of opening up to me – embracing who I am and telling myself that I matter.  Nobody judges me there, this is something for just me and I can make it about what I want to make it about.  It is time I carve out for myself, to give myself whatever it is that I need in that moment.  Sometimes what I need on a run is to completely let go of my stresses, and not think about a thing at all.  Sometimes what I need is time alone, meditating and opening my heart up to possibilities.  Other times I run to accept how things are, to find peace and gratitude in the midst of chaos.  Sometimes I just need to be with a friend, running side by side talking or not talking, encouraging one another to just BE who we are and to be the best of who we are.  Sometimes what I need on a run is to prove to myself that I’m worthy, and that I’m stronger than I think.  That I’m not alone, not ever.  That I can overcome my fears and my worries and my self doubt by pushing past them.  Sometimes (and, in fact, most of the time) I have no idea what I need, and my run will show me that I need nothing at all other than what I already have.  Running is time for me, and it is so important that I make it a priority.  It’s important because it keeps me balanced and it keeps me connected to the essence of who I really am.  It fills me up and makes me live life more fully and more presently.  So I can be there for the ones I love.

When Gus was born, I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would make the time for my running.  It wouldn’t be easy, but I had to figure it out because the alternative was painful to think about. I knew it would be hard, and that at times it might even feel impossible.  I worried that if I didn’t make my running a priority, I would lose myself and fall into a depression.

I felt that way because I’d been there before, several times, and the only way so far in this life that I’ve been able to climb out of those dark places has been to RUN out of them.

So really the only choice I felt I had was to find a way.  It hasn’t been easy, but there is no question it’s been worth it.

Balancing running with motherhood and other responsibilities like work and volunteering and errands and chores — is no easy task.  But it works.  One day at a time, it works.  I find a way.

Most days I have no idea how we fit in all that we do in this house, but we do.  A sunrise 10 mile run and I’m walking in the door at 7:00AM.  Right away I make breakfasts for my little people and pack their lunches.  Get them dressed and we’re off to school to drop off the first grader with the toothless grin.

Then the boys and I head to the gym – play time for them (they LOVE it there, thank goodness) and strength training for me.

After that, we head home so Baby Gus can take a nap for a bit before it’s time to take Will to school.  Hopefully I’ll get to shower, but oftentimes … I don’t (not until much much later in the day – priorities are what they are).  We wake up Gus from his nap usually around 11:15 and then hop in the car to take Will to school.  Gus and I fill our afternoon with different things every day – lunch, errands, playground time, visits with friends (today we fed the ducks!), chores around the house.  Before I know it, it’s time for nap #2 which he has to take in the car many days because we have to pick up the big kids from school.
The time flies by each day and it’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of our busy life.  The hours between 7AM and 8PM are crazy most days, especially during the week.  By the end of the day I am left feeling spent, but grateful.  Wondering how we fit in all that we did.

Before I made myself a priority in my own life through running, I would feel so frazzled at the end of each day.  I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but something was missing.  There was a heaviness in my heart.  I felt stagnant and stuck.  Sad.  And it baffled me because my life was so full of blessings.  What reason did I have to feel sad?!?  But I did.  And I needed to do something about it.  Enough was simply enough.

So I started running again.  And the fog was lifted.  And I have never looked back.

My sister Jodi says this — MOVEMENT HEALS — and I believe she is SO right.  A little movement every day not only makes your body stronger and healthier, but it makes you mentally and emotionally stronger as well.  When we make the time to move our bodies I really believe something magical happens from the inside out.  Things are stirred up and almost anything becomes possible.  Barriers can be broken, walls can come down.  We are able to release tensions.  To let go of emotional baggage we’ve been hanging onto.  To forgive.  To dream.  To change.  That is what it has been for me anyway.  Running has healed my broken heart.  It has inspired me to dream, to not put a limit on what I think I am capable of.  To value who I am.  To appreciate the life I have been given and to live it as best I can.

Running has made a big difference in my life.  It is not the source of my happiness at all, by any means.  But it clears away the cobwebs and opens my heart and my eyes to all that truly does make me happy.

9 thoughts on “the difference it makes

  1. I'm lucky that my kids love going to the gym, too. They've been going since they were 18 months old, and it's like a second preschool to them. I always tell all moms that it's so worth it to get your kids used to a nice gym childcare.

    Thanks again for your great information for my post on backs yesterday. I'm looking forward to getting the Pilates go-ahead from my PT (whenever that happy day comes).

  2. I can completely relate. I am up until midnight most nights and quite frequently ask myself, “how am I going to do this again tomorrow”. But we do, even if it means shaving my legs on the dashboard of the car.. and let's not discuss my eyebrows that have now become a furry worm across my forehead. I find the things that get left behind are personal hygiene items. Well, OK and sometimes, laundry and groceries.
    Since I am writing a novel to you….guess what? I volunteered today in the classroom!!! I am so proud of myself.. I feel like so of my friends who say “I went for run today”. It was not as scary and horrible as I thought. I imagined it would be a bunch of screaming 6 yo's but they were not too bad, now I'm going back next week. I liked it! Yes, I am the Mom who infrequently volunteers and avoids the PTA crowd at all costs. I am trying.

  3. I relate to this 100%. I had a fog too…it was depression and it was also 75 lbs I did not need. they are gone now. like you running is not my happiness but it is my way of not getting lost again.

  4. Movement does, indeed, heal. And I LOVE those toothless, first-grader grins 🙂 We have one here right now, too 🙂 Thanks for sharing this lovely post.

  5. I've just discovered your blog. It's great! I have to ask: how did you become so much faster in just a year? Would you credit it to speed work? Or having a coach in the beginning?

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