running without excuses

Since the beginning of this week, it's been a challenge to find the time to run. The husband is away on a work trip, so it's just me and the kids. I was able to do my usual early morning run last Monday, but last Tuesday, I tried running around 11:30 am, right around the hottest time of the day, since it was my only chunk of free time. Needless to say, it was such a pain and running even just 3 km felt so impossible. 

 “too hot to run, too blah to paint. 09.25.2018”

“too hot to run, too blah to paint. 09.25.2018”

Yesterday, I didn't even try anymore, which turned out alright since I was able to paint a bit:

 Yes, the #100SignsofLifeinDanjugan project is still well and alive, and may just be the longest-running #100DayProject ever.

Yes, the #100SignsofLifeinDanjugan project is still well and alive, and may just be the longest-running #100DayProject ever.

Today is a different story. My mother-in-law is back from Manila and this morning, around 5:30, I received the most magical text message: "You can leave the kids with me today," is me paraphrasing it to its very essence. I texted her back, "That would be wonderful, fantastic, awesome." Shining, shimmering, splendid! Haha, come on, guys, I love my kids but every mom needs a break, for sanity, self-care, to remind herself that she is a human being. So. It is currently 9:48 in the morning and I've put in 8 km (8 km!!!), showered, and now am writing a blogpost. Amazing how much one can do with focused, free time.

 "It was still hot to run, but if I stopped, then that's just me making excuses. 09.27.2018”

"It was still hot to run, but if I stopped, then that's just me making excuses. 09.27.2018”

Yup, there were several points during my run this morning when I just really wanted to stop or at least walk. But I found myself thinking of all the people I've been listening to -- chasing their dreams through unbelievable challenges -- and of course, Haruki Murakami (in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) and how he ran his very first marathon under the scorching sun in Greece where the marathon was "invented." I was just running 8 kilometers, surely, I could go on. And go on, I did. And I'm so thankful and glad that I did. I've only been running again for three months but there are so many revelations and learnings already. Mostly to remember them myself, but also to share with anyone who might find these helpful, here are a few lessons running has taught me so far:

1. If you want to do something, just do it. Find the time, arrange your schedule around that thing, and keep yourself committed to doing it again and again and again. Even if it gets harder (and it will!), even if there are roadblocks (and there will be!), and even if other people don't get it (and some people definitely won't!). 

2. Do that thing primarily for yourself. This may sound selfish, but you have to be able to enjoy the journey towards your goal or your dream. I've had a hard time coming to terms with this (and still do sometimes), but I think it is true: "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman. The main reason I've taken such a roundabout way to being an artist and a writer is because I felt like I wouldn't be able to help other people just by doing art. I'm very thankful for my experiences in the nonprofit sector and would be happy to do such work again, but I now know the importance of not denying that urge to paint or to write just because I can't exactly describe them as altruistic. I now know how much more alive I feel, now that I'm painting and writing, and how that feeling translates to everything else that I do. I feel more grounded, more self-aware, and in turn, I think I am able to be in the world in a more empathic and authentic way. 

3. When things get hard and it's so much easier to focus on all the bad things going wrong, it's crucial to refocus on what's still working, what's good, and what can be better. At about 5.5 km this morning, I was ready to throw in the towel. I've done more than 5 km, it's so hot, I'm so thirsty… When this was going through my head, I was more than ready to stop. It was a cycle of excuses that was just so easy to ride. But once I refocused and concentrated on reaching just 6 km first, then 7 km, then 7.5 km, and paying attention to how my knees were NOT hurting, my legs were fine, then I was able to go on until I reached my goal of 8 km. And I think that refocusing of energies and thoughts can help a lot for other things in life. It's not just a matter of trudging on and dragging one's feet to reach the goal, it's reminding one's self of all the good things going for you (or maybe just one good thing), how you're still alive and are able to put in the work, and visualizing reaching that goal. In the end, you might actually enjoy the rough parts, too. 

4. Ask for help when you need it, take it when it's offered, and be sure to make the people helping you how thankful you are. And then make the most of the extra time, or extra energy, or whatever it is that the help has afforded you, so you can come alive and be a happy person and be capable of paying that help forward.

5. Wear sunscreen -- which, for full disclosure, I didn't do this time, but will do next time. And the rest of Mary Schmich’s advice, made popular by Baz Luhrmann. As Schmich writes, “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

That's it for now. Looking forward to all the kilometers and learnings ahead.