Just Observe. Don’t Judge.

Just observe. Do not judge. These words have become the echo to all my thoughts and actions. I didn’t know it when I went to that yoga class a month ago that the practice would become the welcome mat to this next chapter in my life. I didn’t even realize on that night I was turning the page to a new chapter.

When life is challenging, how do you feel? How do you react? Our instructor asked us these questions? I answered them. During my practice, when it got hard I judged myself. I’ve done the same in life. I’ve felt weak and not strong enough. I’ve questioned my mind and my heart. I’ve forgotten to welcome it all. I’ve forgotten that there is no right or wrong. There is just being.

You can’t exist in the present if your not observing what your feeling.

You can’t exist in the present if you’re judging your reactions.

This practice doesn’t just apply to the times when life is challenging. It also applies to the times when life is good, when you feel alive, and when you feel awake. Just Observe. Don’t judge. My year of waking up started as a goal for my spring race season. It twisted and turned and become less about running and more about living.

Just Observe.

Don’t Judge.

It’s a simple practice, yet it is nearly impossible to implement. Since that yoga practice, I have craved more. I’ve felt myself being drawn back to my roots and all the thing that ground me. I feel myself being pulled towards my yoga mat, the trails, and movement. I feel myself existing in my body and through my body.

When asked what is next, I’ve answered over and over again that I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But I do know. This new chapter is less about what and more about existing.

Existence comes from observation. Existence lacks judgment. Existence happens when we embrace who we are.

This week I placed my rooted mala around my neck. It’s been a long time since I’ve reached for this set of beads. I was feeling unsteady and unsure. When I bought this set of beads, I wanted a reminder to stay rooted in my life, in my family, and in my community. I was creating a foundation. This time it feels different. This time the roots are not things, this time the roots are me.

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Life can be so complicated and noisy. Marriage gets hard. Parenting is never easy. It’s easy to fall away from who you are.

But then something happens, and your invited back to who you are. It can be something as simple as unrolling your yoga mat and a simple movement of your body. Just Observe. Don’t Judge. If you don’t, you’ll miss the invitation to exist in your entirety. You’ll miss the welcome mat to your life.

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Remaining Small

In a yoga class a few weeks ago lead by Jessica Johnson, co-founder of the Bhav Brigade, my body felt unsettled. I was unsure before I even arrived in class. I convinced myself to show up, to walk inside and to unroll my mat. Unsure of my place in the class, feeling unsettled in my body, pushed beyond my physical comfort zone, I wanted to flee. And then Jess guided us. Sharing the words of Glennon Doyle, she created a welcome mat for my practice.

we’ve got it all backward down here. We want to be on the mountaintops, but we’re not called to be victorious. We’re called to be wise, strong and kind. We are admired on the mountaintops, but we are beloved in the valleys. All the magic is in the space between mountains, where we have to unbecome everything we thought we were and start from scratch. This is hard to do, because when pain comes in the form of uncertainty, our instinct is to scramble out of it, to grab blindly for the familiar. But when we rush out of the valley, we miss gathering all the wisdom, strength and kindness we need for the next climb. We have to learn how to sit by the river and be still enough to claim its gifts. ~Glennon Doyle Melton

So here I am again. I’m in the middle again, the middle of the mountain. This is where the magic happens. But this is also such a hard place to exist. It’s a daily battle to not give up or give in.

The yoga practice that night challenged me. With sweat rolling down my back, I wanted to retreat to child’s pose. It’s always available, but did I need it. I knew I didn’t need it. I just wanted easy. I stuck with hard.

I was still unsure when I left class that night. I still didn’t feel settled, but that practice has remained a constant in my daily thoughts. Jess asked us in the moments when our legs want to give up, when our hearts are straining, to observe. What we are feeling doesn’t matter, but making note of how we are feeling does. When we are challenged, how do we respond? There is no right answer. There is only our answer.

What is my answer? I scramble. I flee. I feel panic. I become unsettled.

I sat with my feelings of being unsettled that night. I used my breath to calm me. I used the flow of my body to feel alive. The more I felt graceful and powerful in my movement, the more my anxiety disappeared.

Yoga is more than a class. It’s called a practice because it’s something we do every day. It’s something we practice in every aspect of our lives.

This Saturday before sunrise I drove to the trails. As I drove passed the Chesapeake Bay, I found my mind wandering. How can I feel so alive and so unsettled at the same time? This is the best I’ve felt mentally, physically and emotionally in a very long time yet part of me is still so unsettled. My thoughts wandered some more. I was drawn back to my yoga practice. If the movement of my physical body is what settles me, I need to move more. I was headed to the perfect place to move my body. The trails are my yoga practice.

That morning the trails were flooded with light and frost. They were flooded with fog and mist. They were alive, and my body carried me to a place of feeling settled. My running feels fluid again. It moves with ease.

As I ran with the trees I was reminded of all the shared stories and dreams I’ve whispered to these trees. I’ve spent so many years and miles wandering through these woods they are part of who I am. The trees with the greatest reach also have to strongest roots. To reach high, you have to be deeply rooted.

I feel myself reaching higher and higher every single day. I can’t help but wonder if my roots are a little shaky? For the rest of December, I’m returning to my yoga mat and the trails. I’m returning to the relationships that nurture me. Instead of glancing up to the top of the mountain, I think I’ll take a few steps back to the valley. Dig in, get dirty, and allow the movement of my body to settle me.

In my roots, at the base of the mountain, I am reminded that I am small. When I am small, I am reminded that I’m part of a much bigger journey. I am much bigger than myself. I am small, but I matter. This is the space that feels like home to me. This is were I become settled.

To read Glennon’s full article, click here.

Magic!

On Sunday I frantically hit refresh on my phone as I watched the live results of the California International Marathon. I knew my friend would cross the finish line in any minute. It’s a story only she can tell (and i highly encourage you to read it HERE), but I’ve have a seat on the sidelines over the past few years as I’ve watch her do everything possible to qualify for the Olympic Trials! Her resilience, her determination and her heart are something I truly admire. She made her wildest dreams come true. I burst into tears when I saw her finish time pop up on my screen. She did it!

As I hit refresh over and over again, I felt something refreshing inside of me too! It’s easy to dream big. It’s really hard to make those dreams come true. A fire was reignited inside me. I can do it too!

One month ago I crossed the finish line of the New York City Marathon. It will always be one of the greatest days of my life. It was friendship and community, but it was rooted in overcoming! Life put so many hurtles between me and that marathon, and somehow I conquered them all.

I love the marathon. I love the miles it takes to get to race day. I love the ebbs and flows of every training cycle. I love race day.

One month later my body is feeling better than it has ever felt. I’ve found the magic combination for me!

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My magic combination has come in the form of massage. I’ve found someone who understands how my body works (and how it doesn’t work!). I’ve got life back in my legs!

The week before I left for New York I laid on the massage table talking about dreams and life and the path I’ve taken leading up to that race. My massage therapist said to me you’re ready for what’s next! I can’t wait to see what comes after the year of waking up!

I almost cried on the table. What’s next? Running makes me feel alive. It has brought me everything I have ever wanted. Running is my dreams in motion. It’s how I connect with myself. It’s how I see my strength and discover my weaknesses. It’s how I overcome. Running is my heartbeat.

What’s next? I don’t know! I’ve let go of some of those big dreams to make room for other things in life. Life is has ebbed and flowed. But there is one thing that has never changed. My greatest fear is not living up to my potential. I fear I’ll sell myself short in life and in running. In my heart, running and life belong together.

What’s next? I don’t know, but I do know there is magic in the air. After the New York City Marathon, my entire world gained a vibrancy I didn’t know it was lacking.

What’s next? In April I’m running my first 50K trail race. I’m going to see where the miles take me.

Whatever is next is going to be magical! And I know my running shoes will get me there!

The New York City Marathon |Experiencing Magic

“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!” ~Dan Millman

I don’t know where to begin, so perhaps I just need to start. This theme of not knowing but also moving forward became a thread that ran through my entire marathon journey, so it’s no surprise I find myself feeling the same way 4 Days Post Marathon.  Don’t search. Just go!

This journey started with a simple yes! When a friend I’ve always admired asked me to join her at the New York City Marathon during her chemo treatment, I screamed yes. Would I fundraise too? Yes! Every time she asked, I said yes. It lead me here to this place of pure joy and satisfaction. 

This weekend was magical. Every moment. Every detail. Every mile. It was all magic. 

But how do you explain magic? You can’t. You have to see it and you have to believe in it. That is what this race has been for me. Seeing and believing in team, in community, in dreams, in friendship, in myself, in a cure, and in achieving. What started as a dream of a friend conquering cancer ended as a dream come true. She did it! We did it! I see and I believe! 

With Karen and Janet (world’s best race support!)

The way the details unfolded can only be described as magical. My job at J&A Racing granted our team Race Director credentials. We were given VIP race bibs, VIP transportation, and access to the VIP pre and post race accommodations. Karen’s story of survival allowed our team to be invited to walk in the parade of nations. We shared dinner with our favorite Olympians, Ashton and Brianne Eaton. We were invited to run the first 10K of the race with the Eaton’s in the first wave of Runners. 

When you defeat cancer you deserve every ounce of magic. Karen deserved every bit of happiness that was showered on her this weekend. As her supporter, I ran beside her in disbelief that this experience belonged to me too. 

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In all my weeks of training, I felt insecure. My running has slowed down. My team mates are fast. Every time I heard them say they wanted to run as a team, I secretly wished they’d run their own race. I didn’t want to hold them back. I didn’t want to be the weakest link. 

They wouldn’t let me run alone. That wasn’t what this weekend was about. We are a team. We are friends. We are unit. We got to New York together, and they would not let my insecurities get the best of me. We were running together. 

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The race cannon went off. A few minutes later we were running across the Verrazano Bridge. It was magical. Our group of 20 Team In Training member were running with the Eaton’s. We ran together for the first 10K at a pace that was faster than I have run all season. I didn’t care. I felt alive. My pace dropped into the 9s. I felt alive. Karen, Steve and I kept glancing at each other. Our faces all said the same thing. This is really happening!

Go Team! Go Kristy! Go Karen! Go Steve! 

We were flooded with cheers! 

With the Eaton’s

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My race plan was simple. Run the first 10K with the Eaton’s. Cool down for 20 Miles. Have fun. Share the miles. 

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The first 10K flew by. We said goodbye to the Eaton’s. We didn’t slow down. The energy on the course was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It propelled me forward. 

We hit the half way mark. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

Our friends were at mile 17. I couldn’t stop smiling. 

There are very few times in my life that I’ve felt so alive. 

At Mile 17

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Those fast early miles and my lack of training caught up to me around mile 18. I didn’t care. I didn’t want the race to ever end. 

Running through The Bronx was the toughest spot for me. I was in a lot of pain, but for the first time ever I didn’t doubt myself. I knew it would be tough. I knew I would hurt. But I also knew I could do it. 

There is no joy without pain. 

For the last few miles I experienced both at a magnitude that can only be described as magical. 

Approaching the Finish Line

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This journey was for Karen. Every mile, every dollar raised, but I was rewarded with a priceless gift. I was given magic. 

I got to witness the magic of conquering cancer. 

I got to witness the magic of team. 

I was given the magic of friendship. 

I gained the magic of belief. I saw my strengths. I saw my teams strengths. I saw our strengths magnify as we worked together. 

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This journey isn’t over. In my heart we haven’t crossed the finish line yet. We are just beginning. There is so much more  magic waiting for us to see it. I don’t know where to begin. All I know is I’m getting started. 

We Did It!

An Evening with Brene Brown

I wish I could bundle it up. I wish I could gift the entire world the words I heard last night.  I wish I could take all the words I heard last night as I sat in the auditorium at George Washington University listening to Brene Brown speak about belonging and sprinkle them on every single person. We need her work and her words. I need her work and her words. 

It all made sense. As she spoke, I understood the sadness, the fear, the loneliness that has manifested itself into hatred in our world. It doesn’t matter who you voted for or what religion you practice (or don’t) when we look at this humanitarian crisis we are facing. 

We’ve forgot we are human. We’ve forgot we are all connected. We’ve forgot that degrading one woman, dehumanizes them all. We’ve forgot hundreds of years of history where we dehumanized people because of the color of their skin. We have to rehumanize ourselves. We have to rehumanize each other. 

For 90 minutes Brene spoke about her work, her new book, and the current climate of our country. It all made sense. We have forgotten we are all human. 

The evening ended with an auditorium filled with 1500 people and not one single empty seat joining together in a moment of collective happiness. Through music we united. We sang. It was silly and awkward and joyful. Together we shared joy. Music and Brene’s brilliant work gave us this. 

This morning after getting home sometime in the early morning hours, my 13 year old woke me up to tell me there had been another shooting at a concert.  50 were dead. Hundreds were hurt. They came together for collective happiness, and this happened. I asked him to turn off the tv.

I feel asleep filled with hope. I feel asleep understanding how we got here, and a small glimmer of hope of how to move closer to being human again.  Waking up to another attack of terror (because that’s exactly what this is) made it all confusing once again. How did we get here? 

I haven’t turned the news back on. I don’t need to. I can feel it. I can feel the sadness in my heart and in my head. It’s lingering in all the spaces that surround me. We’ve forgotten we are all connected. A mother grieving for her child is felt by every mother. It’s up to us to acknowledge it. 

In those 90 minutes that Brene spoke last night, I heard clarity in so many of our issues. My brain is scrambling to piece them all together so I can logically take the next step forward. While my head scrambles to find facts and reason, my heart aches for no reason other than there is a lot of sadness around us. There is a lot of hate. There is a lot of fear. 

As I walked to my car last night, I said to my friend I wish I could ask Brene one question. I wanted to ask her what do I do now. As a member in the audience who sought out her research, what do I do now? How do I move it forward? 

Today I saw her answer as I opened my eyes. It’s my children. It’s the people I touch. It’s my reach. Tonight, instead of watching the nightly news, I asked Cole how he felt about the shooting. I asked him how he felt about kneeling during the national anthem. I asked him if he had friends at school who were transgendered or gay. He awkwardly answered while I patiently waited. The more he talked the more his awkwardness disappeared.  I listened until he asked me what I thought too. 

Thanks to last night and the amazing research of Brene Brown, I could easily articulate my answer. I believe we all want to talk long enough until our awkwardness disappears. We want to protest or fight back until we are rehumanized. We want to be seen. 

I kissed my boys good night a few extra times this evening. Maybe just maybe raising them will help bring humanity back to our planet. 

We have to talk about these things. We have to talk about the hard painful things in life. We have to talk about the things that feel awkward to us because it’s not our normal. We have to reconnect ourselves. We have to share our ugly truth. 

We have to be human. We have to remember we are all human.