Contrast.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” ~Brené Brown

For weeks now my thoughts keep coming back to one thought. Joy and sadness belong together. These versions of extremes are actually the same. They can’t exist without each other. It’s been on repeat in my thoughts and my observations.

So I’ve observed. I’ve looked for these opposing forces in every corner of my world. Where is there sadness? Look beyond it. Joy is hiding. Where is there joy? Look further. Sadness exists too. These two existences are dancing around me.

It’s a simple thought, a thought I would have always said was true, but the practice of existing in both space can feel like chaos inside my head. Findings breath between the highs and lows will always be my calm.

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On Thursday I sat across from my therapist.

You need to get curious about your discomfort. Just observe. Pay attention to everything. How do you feel? How are you breathing? What emotions are you experiencing?

Her words echoed the intention I set for myself this year.

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On Tuesday I tackled my first speed workout in ages. 6×400 before 6am with one intention to fuel me – don’t give up on my intervals.

After my 4th interval, I let out an audible fuck. In my moment of recovery, I wondered why I do this. Running has been so enjoyable lately. It’s been comfortable and easy. Am I crazy to give that up?

Before my thoughts could even finish, I knew my answer. I’ve never been one for comfortable and easy. Being stagnant doesn’t work for me. I don’t thrive off day to day. I need to be lost in something. Running is always the strength I need for living, so its time to find more strength.

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Right now I need to be lost in my discomfort. It’s the only way to see my light. It’s going to messy. It’s going to ugly. It’s going to get real.

Existing beside my own discomfort is also my greatest joy. They belong together.

“Some of your most powerful intentions are born in your moments of greatest contrast.” ~Michael Thomas Sunnarborg

It is time to be powerful. In my sadness and in my joy! Life comes from within. Strength exists within.

Yamacraw 20K | You have to be brave somewhere

Heading into this weekend, I was stepping into and out of my comfort zone all at once. Trees and the mountains have always been my true love. Running is a close second. Heading towards the mountains for a trail race felt as natural as raising my children.

As we made our way west, it dawned on me I had no idea what I was driving towards. I had done little research. I didn’t scrutinize the details of race day. Dropping from the 50K to the 20K after a small tear in my quad sidelined me a few weeks ago, I had a false sense of confidence heading into race weekend.

I was “only” run 12ish miles. I could handle whatever came my way.

My false sense of confidence worked in my favor this weekend. I followed the race instructions, boarded a bus, got dropped off at a trailhead with a cone and a timing may start line, and I ran when the race director shot off his gun. I had zero race day nerves until I hit the trails.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Christian and I started together. We would decide as we went if we should stay together or run separately. Out of respect for other trail runners (because I assumed everyone else at the race was experienced and more trained than me), we started at the back of the pack. One by one we ran single track trail into the woods. We descended stairs. We crossed streams. We slushed through mud puddles. We played.

I started this race timid. Slipping and sliding through mud, I wondered how long it would be before I took a tumble. Slipping on rocks at river crossings, I wondered how long it would be before I fell into the river.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

I read these words on my way out of town, and they echoed in my head for the first few miles of the race. When nerves and doubts bubbled, I repeated them. Pick brave. You have to brave somewhere.

A few miles into the race I found my footing. I became comfortable. I quit second guessing my ability to run hills. I didn’t over analyze where I should take my next step. I just ran what was in front of me. This crazy trail run become an extension of me. By mile 6 when we approached a river crossing too deep to cross by foot, I felt alive. We crossed the river by raft and ran on.

From here everything went up: the elevation, my attitude, and my confidence. Christian and I were still stride for stride quietly taking turns leading and following. He pushed me passed my timid ways in the beginning, and now it was my turn to push him to finish stronger than he started.

During one of the final descents down the mountain, another runner yelled out to me: fake your confidence. I glanced back, laughed and replied: “it’s like you’ve known me my whole life.”

That gentle nudge to own my run allowed me to open up my stride, to embrace the downhill and to trust that I could run this trail. When the finish line bridge became visible, I felt a strange mixture of pride and sadness. Proud because I finally embraced myself on a run. Sad because I wasn’t anywhere close to being ready for it to be over.

Christian and I crossed the finish line together, and I know we are both eager to get back out there. The trails have so much to teach us, and this weekend we just scratched the surface.

As we make our way back east towards the beach, my heart aches a little. There is something about the mountains that can’t be replaced. I need them in my life. My heart exists within them.

For now, I’m going to carry their lessons with me. This year my goal is to observe, and yesterday I saw a new spark in me. I saw a girl who chose brave and who gave herself space to work through timid in a way that works for her.

“You have to be brave somewhere.” ~Brené Brown

Finding myself in comfort and discomfort is invigorating. I’m coming home awake.

Safety in Freedom

As I ran towards the park on the Cape Henry Trail, my goal was simple. With every stride I took, I wanted to feel my foot hit the ground. I wanted to feel the connection between me and the earth. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push forward. I was there to feel my run. Every other thought was left behind me.

I have found myself sitting across from my therapist on a frequent basis these days. In this space I bring my thoughts with me. My goal is simple. I want to feel myself existing in my world. I want to feel my connection between me and my world. As I sit quietly in her peaceful room, the goal is the same as it is when I put on my running shoes. Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward. In this space my thoughts comfort me. My body is left behind.

The year of waking up delivered me to a place of observation. With my eyes wide open, I am seeing everything. I’m seeing my light, my wounds, my joy, my hurt, my strengths, and my weaknesses. I’m seeing myself.

I’ve discovered a pattern in my life. I crave safety, yet safety is the one thing that feels suffocating. My need to feel safe and protected has driven me to tuck myself away. It’s a basic human need. We all need to feel safe.

The more I’ve observed, the quieter I’ve become. My own words have failed me lately. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a full story to tell that I’m looking to find comfort in the words of others. My moments are filled with devouring books of women who like me are trying to fly free. I feel clumsy in my own being knowing that I’m outgrown the cage I’ve created for myself.

I crave freedom.

“The psyched and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes

So many people have asked me what comes after the year of waking up? Maybe I finally know the answer. Maybe the next chapter is knowing I’m safe when I fly free. I don’t have to remain small or rooted to be safe. There is safety is soaring. There is safety in taking flight.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is how I make sure I’m safe. It’s through reaching and connecting that I’m able to absorb all I am. It’s how I push forward. It’s how I fly.

Reach. Connect. Absorb. Push Forward.

This is what comes next.

Be Your Answer.

We belong awake!

For an entire year, I set out on a quest with one intention. I wanted to wake up. I wanted to live life with an exclamation point instead of a question mark.

But what exactly does that mean? What does it mean to wake up? I don’t have an answer to that question for you, but I found it for me. I found it by not asking. I found it by existing. I gave up questioning and doubting. I charged forward. I pretended to know what I was doing until i believed my own actions.

2017 ended. 2018 began. I feel myself existing and living.

We belong awake.

New Year’s Eve

I’m at the start line of a new adventure. In April I’ll attempted to run a 50K through Kentucky. I have so many questions. How do I train? What’s it like on the trails in Kentucky? Can I do this? I’ve asked them to myself and out loud. As I received answers, I realized something.

I am my own answer.

I’m not asking questions to learn or to grow. I’m asking questions to validate that I can do this. I’m asking to reassure myself that I already know the answer.

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the questions when you are the answer.” ~Joseph Campbell

I think this is how I become stagnant in my own life. When life becomes comfortable, when I feel confident in my answer, I settle in. The more I settle, the less vibrant life becomes.

We belong awake!

And this means we have to be our own answer. We have to live our own answer. An answer can’t exist without a question. We have to ask questions? Maybe out loud, but definitely to ourselves. We have to do things that makes us wonder what is possible. We need question marks just as much as we need exclamation points.

There is a fine line between questioning and asking questions. One includes doubts. One includes curiosity. One includes questioning yourself and the other includes believing you are the answer.

In my quest to wake up, to find the exclamation, I found my answer.

Ask questions but do not question. What do you need to live life awake? Be your answer. And Repeat. Over and over and over again.

On the AT. 

We Belong Awake

“That’s the one thing

There’s no safety in desire

Preserving life is as good as dying”

🎵Andrew MacMahon

As 2017 comes to an end, one thing has become crystal clear. If you want magic in your life, you have to create it. Magic doesn’t find you. You have to bring it to your life.

Living life awake doesn’t just happen. Every day you have to deliberately make the choice to wake up.

It’s risky. Sometimes it hurts. It leaves you exposed. And it’s magical.

Maybe that’s what makes New Year’ Eve and the New Year so appealing. It’s an ending and a beginning all within one second of each other. The ball drops, and you get a brand new year.

That’s the magic. That’s being awake.

Within one second of everything in life is being alive. You never know when your one breath away from your best or your worst. When the ball drops or things fall apart, you get to start again. If we never let the ball drop, we never get a new beginning.

As 2018 approaches, I have one goal. It’s to observe life without judgement. It’s to allow myself (and others) to exist as I am.

I belong awake.

We belong awake.

The only way to live is to allow ourselves to be one second and one breath away from our best or maybe our worst.

Cheers to a life of magic. Cheers to being awake.

“You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Cheers to 2018, a year to let go of judgement, to observe, and to participate relentlessly in living life awake!