Fine.

I walked into my therapist’s office and made myself comfortable on her cozy white couch. For over two years now I have claimed the exact same spot on that couch — slightly off center favoring the left side (my left not hers). Just walking into the office puts me at ease. It’s a safe place. It’s a place I can bring my worst and always leave feeling my best.

This time I sat down and she asked the question I’ve become familiar hearing: where do you find yourself today?

This time I smiled and said I’m fine. I’m actually good.

After I replied that I’m fine, she quickly followed up with another question I’ve become accustom to hearing: have you been writing?

I smiled again and said no.

———

You see, when I’m fine I find myself simply existing. I don’t feel drawn to write or to process things through my words.

But being fine is also brand new to me! It is a space I don’t exist in naturally. This has been my work lately.

———-

A few weeks ago I visited my massage therapist excited and anxious to discover what work I needed to do. I couldn’t wait for her to uncover an imbalance in my body. The more she worked on me, the more she kept repeating you’re good. I was shocked. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted something to work on.

In my next appointment with my therapist I shared this. She listened and then smiled at me. You have to learn to be okay.

It’s common in people who have experienced trauma of any form. It’s a cycle of hurt and heal that so many of us get trapped in, and I can reflect back on all my adult years and see this cycle. Hurt. Heal. Hurt. Heal. I’ve always looked for my broken pieces, and I’ve dove head first into healing them. I’m always trying to fix myself.

Fixing myself implies that I’m broken.

Being broken implies that something is wrong with me.

Something wrong with me implies that I’m not okay.

And now I’m here.

And none of that feels good to me anymore.

What do you do when you realize you don’t have to fix everything?

What do you do when you realize you’re fine?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I can tell you what it feels like. It feels like hope. It feels like presence. It feels like the core of who I am is emerging. It feels like I’m capable of facing life. It feels like no matter what happens, everything is and always will be fine.

———–

At my next appointment, when my therapist asks, I can say yes! Yes I’ve been writing. Maybe writing and fine can learn to compliment each other in my life.

Where my real work begins

Two weeks ago, on the tail end of our family road trip, I chased Christian down the mountain that we had just climbed. He ran freely. He leaped from rock to rock with the confidence that the ground would support him. I tiptoed knowing any of the rocks could slip out from beneath me.

I watched in awe. Christian’s running journey is new, and I kept thinking over and over again he hasn’t been humbled by running. He hasn’t been injured. Distances are still new and milestones are being achieved. He hasn’t been deflated and heartbroken at a finish line. These thoughts played over and over in my mind as he got further and further away. I watched in awe. I watched in envy.

Follow your envy — it shows you what you want. ~ Lori Gottlieb

As Christian got further and further away, I told myself I missed the new of running. I missed hitting a new longest run or a new fastest time. I miss the days of running when it was fresh and everything seemed achievable. I miss progress being the only possibility.

While I do miss all those things, I miss them in the same way that I miss my children being babies or the first date with my husband. Missing the new is only half the story of what I felt that day on the mountain. The real story, and probably the whole story is that I was envious of the freedom. Christian leaped without caution. He sat on the edge of reckless without panic. Now minutes behind him, he was out of sight and I was still stumbling down the mountain. I retreated to my place of self preservation. It is easier to say he can be so free with his running because he hasn’t been hurt than it is to face the truth that I hide behind caution.

———

A month ago, I saw a new massage therapist. She isn’t a traditional practitioner. Her practice is focused more on the energy in the body than the muscular makeup. I’ve been putting it off for years. I’ve known since the moment I first heard of her practice that I need it for myself, yet I was reluctant to go. I was cautious.

In our final minutes together, she worked on my skull.

Tell me more about your accident? You blacked out. You went into shock. It’s still living in your body. Your body is still holding on to the panic.

A few minutes later, we said goodbye. As I walked out the door she said to me, you have a lot of bad habits you have to let go of…

————

A mile or so later, Christian came back into view. Our trail was taking us more gently down the mountain now, and I felt more comfortable moving faster than a tiptoe. We continued together for the rest of the run, and I convinced myself that the sense of freedom I witness in Christian’s running wasn’t available to me anymore because my running history was a lot longer and more complicated than his. For one, I have rods and screws in my legs. I’ve had setbacks and injuries. I’ve missed goals. I’ve fallen apart in races. I told myself his freedom would shrink the more he ran. I felt better.

Freedom involves responsibility, and there’s a part of most of us that finds responsibility frightening. ~Lori Gottlieb

————

About those bad habits…

It’s easier to see why I tell myself Christian has freedom in his running on the trails than it is to see why I cling to caution. It’s easier to make excuses about why my pace came to an abrupt stop when faced with a more challenging route than it is to sit on the edge of panic.

This is my bad habit. This is where my real work begins.

A week after my massage therapy appointment, I sat across from my therapist (mental therapist, emotional therapist, life therapist?). I shared with her the insights I gained from my other appointment. We spent the entire hour exploring this space I’ve never been able to gain access to. When I said my goodbye to her, she acknowledged that I was finally doing whole body healing. I was finally doing my important work.

———

This is how I’ve lived my life. I claw my way to the top of every mountain I’ve faced, but when I get to the top I panic. I live in the panic. I retreat. I crawl back into the cozy place of self preservation, and I tiptoe my way back down the way I came. Then I do it again and again and again.

I literally do it when I climb mountains, but more importantly I do it in every emotional aspect of my life. I do it in every relationship I have. I do it in with every goal I set for myself. It is my bad habit.

———

Before I said goodbye to my therapist (the mental one!), I asked how to gain access to this space. I’ve wanted it my whole life. Her answer was simple. I need to practice, and running is the perfect place to start. I need to get to the top of the mountain, the edge of my comfort, and I need to give myself permission to be free there.

Yes, I’ve lived in this space before. I’ve done my fair share of practicing. I have experienced it on race day. I’ve felt it when I’ve take the first step off the side of a mountain to rappel down the side. I’ve had the rush when jumping out a plane and paraglided along the coast and riding an elephant through at jungle. But these are just moments. I don’t want a rush (that’s a lie – I do, but not all the time). The freedom I crave is the existence in myself and the existence with the connections in my life. I want more.

At first I wonder if running was the perfect place to practice. I thought to myself, don’t I do that all the time? But if I’m being honest, I never have. I’ve never fully given myself to the process. I’ve improved. My commitment has increased. I’be done the best I could do in the moment I’ve been in, but I’ve never been all in.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that goal is not to run more or to let go more. It’s not to run down a mountain without worry. It’s about connecting with and trusting my body. Running is my connector. It’s about connecting with my life.

It sounds simple. It sounds rewarding. It sounds like everything I envy. I just want to get to the place where I can give myself freely — to running, to myself, to life, to relationships, to motherhood, to flying down the mountain, and most importantly, to connecting. It’s easier said than done, but I know it’s exactly what I need to live the life I know I want.

I have to let go of the panic.

———

and for me, it’s always starts with writing. Because every therapist I’ve ever seen has said — Kristy, you need to write more.

Newport News One City Half Marathon | New PR. New Space to Dream.

You meet people.

They change you.

Late last summer, I met my friend and running coach, Kerry for happy hour. We were meeting to talk about my running and my goals in the disguise of sipping Moscow Mules. Her words were honest.

The only thing between you and your goals is you. Look how many miles you miss. Look how many runs you miss. How bad do you really want it?

I needed that happy hour more than I knew. I needed her words more than I knew. It wasn’t that she forced me to see that I was short changing myself. It was that she saw me! She noticed me, and she saw my potential. From that day forward my running changed.

You run miles.

They change you.

Over the fall and the winter my miles increased. My consistency improved. I fell back in love with running.

You run races.

They change you.

After months of training and years of chasing the same goal (5.5 to be exact!), today I lined up at the start line of the One City Half Marathon with the same goal in mind: give it everything I had to see a 1 at the front of my finish time. I needed to maintain at 9:09 minute mile for 13.1 miles.

My training felt picture perfect this cycle. I had some personal goals that would leave me running well under two hours. On a perfect day, I had hoped to stretch for 1:56. On a hang on for dear life day, I still though 1:59:59 was possible. I had it.

Today was nearly picture perfect. The weather was perfect. I was surprised by friends at the start line who showed up to help me achieve my goals. Christian was by my side ready to run whatever I needed that day.

The miles ticked by just as I hoped. I felt amazing. I beat miles 5-7 where I normally fall apart. It was happening.

Then mile 9 showed up. My stomach that had been fighting off nausea since last night decided to remind me today wouldn’t be a walk in the park. If I wanted sub 2, I was going to have to earn sub 2!

Mile 10 showed up, and I quickly did math in my head. I told Christian I was scared! The miles were no longer easy, and I was trying really hard to not throw up.

Miles 11 and 12 showed up, and I kept calculating time. Did I have it? There was no room to settle. I had to push on.

Finally at mile 12.5, I realized that today was really my day. It was really going to happen. I tried to take it in. I tried to feel it all. Then I saw Kerry’s face at the finish line. I heard cheers from my best friends. I saw girls who have supported me whole heartedly this entire training cycle, and tears came pouring out. I just had to cross the finish line.

I did it.

1:58:06

And then I proceeded to throw up all over the finish line.

You chase a goal.

It changes you.

Chasing a goal for over five years isn’t easy. I’ve convinced myself so many times I didn’t really want it. I didn’t need it. But it’s not really about the time on the clock. It’s about wanting something. It’s about committing to something. It’s about pushing. It’s about showing up.

If I hadn’t meet Kerry and the group of women she coaches a year ago, I would have walked away from this goal. If I didn’t see their joy and their passion, I wouldn’t have realized how much I wanted it for myself. If Kerry hadn’t been honest and invest in my training, I would have continued to take short cuts that always resulted in missing my goal. If I wouldn’t have failed for over five years, I wouldn’t have had today. And today was everything!

Today I believed in myself. I was surrounded by people who love me. And I did it.

1:58:06

And a brand new space to dream!!

You meet people. They change you. You run miles. They change you. You run races. They change you. You chase dreams. It changes you.

You believe in yourself. You change you!

On Repeat.

Pay attention to the words that are on repeat in your head. This has been part of my observation practice this year. The things that are on repeat matter. They guide us. They influence us. They become us.

Saturday morning I set out to run. Even with the best intentions I keep finding reason to miss a run here or there. Saturday morning was one of those mornings. Excuse after excuse piled up. I had juggle and rearranged my running schedule all week by Saturday I felt behind. I had one hour and 15 mins planned for the day, and not enough time to accomplish the task. I did have enough time to run my 30 minute speed work that I missed on Thursday.

A mile in a new set of words was on repeat in my head.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses.

These words that found me in running have followed me into all the daily pieces of my life.

In my attempt to find my calm in the midst of the summer panic I always feel, I’m returning to my words. No matter how clumsy or rusty my own personal writing feels, it’s the practice that lets me feel free. Using my words to define my life is what allows me to stay awake.

Writing is my vibration in life. And running is the place the settles my mind so I can hear the words that are on repeat. The more I run, the more I gravitate towards writing. The more I write the more awake I feel.

Tonight on my run, I struggled. My breath never settled. Nothing felt easy about my easy run. I had a million excuses for why it felt all wrong, but instead I found the opportunity to silence my head.

I ran my normal route by the river. I allowed myself to stop for a moment to take in the views. This time I stopped a little further back on the island near an abandoned boathouse. There isn’t much to be said for the abandoned shelter but I love it more than it’s million dollar neighbors. I tend to gravitate to the broken, weathered souls that are living a full life. This boathouse is no exception. There’s a story to be told about that boathouse if you can see beyond its broken structure. It’s the difference between being broken and breaking open.

Thirty minutes later my run was done. All my hard was left behind in my neighborhood streets.

Look for opportunity instead of excuses. I can’t wait to follow these words for a while.

How do you stay awake?

Last week I called my therapist in the midst of a low point. Panic had creeped in, and my next appointment felt too far away. Maybe she had an cancellation. Maybe she had an appointment for someone who really needed to sit on the couch in her office. She must have heard the panic in my voice, because she called me back immediately. There was no secret appointment to claim. No one had cancelled. But she told me if she could write me a prescription for anything, it would be to take some time for myself. It would be to find my quiet. She reassured me that I have all the tools I need to calm myself, but I need to use them. I don’t need her to do that. I don’t need to sit in her office to feel safe. I can calm myself. I can heal myself.

I took a few inhales and exhales. I took a few more. I carried on.

Tonight I found a moment of quiet, and I sat down to watch Elizabeth Lesser on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday.

How do you stay awake? Oprah asked Elizabeth this question, and I felt myself exhale. I rid my body of my panic as I waited to inhale her response. How do you stay awake?

Elizabeth’s answer didn’t come quickly.

I stay awake by paying attention to the amazing feedback loop that is always there. There is an amazing system in the world. It’s called karma, but its happening at every moment. Who you are, what you just did, what you said, its reactions are happening all around us to other people. Stay aware of your effect on other people, of your effect on the earth. Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes. That’s how I stay awake. I stay aware of my effect on the world.

********

Summer has never been my season. It is rare for me to pass through this season without wanting to stay asleep. This summer I’ve craved more sun than I’ve ever craved, but I’ve also craved more sleep. I’ve needed to feel settled. I’ve needed quiet.

Last week, at the same time of my panic, a full moon lit up the night sky. This moon cycle encourages us to reflect on the energetic space we carried with us at the beginning of the year. What ever we needed to learn from that space is clearing and shifting to make room for something new – something that will require us to be ground, stable, and hard working.

I welcomed 2018 with a full energy. I was awake. I felt engage, alive, aware, and in tune.

*********

The moment I read the first page of Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Broken Open, I knew I was receiving a gift. As I listened to her speak with Oprah, I was reminded of what she taught me. We can be broken, or we can be broken open.

Over and over, we are broken on the shore of life. Our stubborn egos are knocked around, and our frightened hearts are broken open—not once, and not in predictable patterns, but in surprising ways and for as long as we live.

In my moments of panic, I feel broken. When panic creeps in and I loose my breath, I feel like I’m breaking apart. But breaking doesn’t equal broken. This will always be my lesson to learn. Breaking is an opportunity to open. It’s a place for breath. It’s a place for growth. When things break, they create a vibration. That vibration effects the world. That is how I stay awake.

You can watch Elizabeth Lesser on SuperSoul Sunday HERE.