Perseverence

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Ready or not

Friday, April 24th, 2009

One of the East Nasties has a bumper sticker that says “Run Happy.”

I don’t.  Run happy, that is.

Some people are built to run – I am not.  I really do not enjoy running.  Even after dedicating myself for months, pulling myself out of bed every Saturday AND Sunday morning, and watching my mileage go up and up and up, I still don’t LIKE to run – especially because I never got the runner’s booty of my dreams.

NOT. FAIR.

But after months and months of training, the Country Music Half-Marathon is upon us.  The starting line is in sight.  The gun fires (or whatever it is they’ll do – fog horn? yell really loud? I’m going to yell really loud) at 7am tomorrow.

I’ve been having stress dreams about it – that I show up and don’t have my number, or my shoes have no laces, or it’s 90 degrees outside.  That’s maybe my biggest actual fear about tomorrow – that it’s going to be really hot, which is not only a possibility, but the forecasted reality.  It is unseasonably warm in Nashville right now.  Even though I don’t enjoy it, I can TOLERATE running – unless it’s hot outside.  Then it’s truly miserable – if not impossible.

I am terrified that I’m not going to succeed – that it’s going to be too hard, too far, that all of my hard work won’t have been enough.  And at this point, it’s truly a case of mind over matter: my body is strong.  I’ve put in the training.  I know that I CAN run 13.1 consecutive miles.  But my brain isn’t so sure about it – and as soon as I let those thoughts start creeping in – I’m tired, I can’t do this, this is too hard – then it’s over.  I quit.

But then, I have to remember that before October, the furthest I had ever run was one lap around Green Lake in Seattle.  And the fact that I can run 5 miles, let alone 11.2 (which was my longest training run), is ridiculously amazing.  I’ve spent the past 4 months training with an incredible group of people of all running abilities – people who have encouraged me and pushed me – and it’s a very cool thing to be a part of something larger than myself.

And there’s no way to say this without sounding completely cheesy, so I’m just going to say it: everyone who has trained for this race is already a winner.

AAAAAAGH I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!!

I hereby fire myself as the writer of this blog.

But truly, ready or not.  Tomorrow it is.  I’ve worked too hard to give up now.  May my will be as strong as my legs.

You can’t keep a good girl down

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Did Sly stop with “Rocky IV”?

Did Nadia Suleman call it quits after 6 kids?

Did having brothers named Track and Trig prevent Bristol Palin from naming her son Tripp?

No.

And in the same way, bucking common sense and what might seem like an obvious result… did the demise of my temp-job in this current economy conclude in me being unemployed for all of eternity?

No.

After exactly six weeks of unemployment – I GOT A JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And not just any job. A good job. A great job. A job that makes me so giddy, I want to go throw confetti off the 440 overpass. With people so delightful, I want to bake them each their own personalized cupcake. At a company so awesome, I see it as the pot of gummy bears at the end of a rainbow – the rainbow that runs a mere mile and a half from my house to the offices.

This feels like the one I’ve been waiting for. I am so happy.

See you on Monday, Emma!

emma_logo3

Claiming my heritage

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Today, I’m wearing all black. My high heels are caked with mud from my front yard. I feel significantly un-cute. I’m in a bad place financially – but this is no one’s fault but mine. I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I’ve made some really terrible decisions. I’ve slacked on my running schedule this week, and over-achieved at consuming calories. I forgot to take an allergy pill this morning. My to-do list feels overwhelming, and my brain feels like a wimpy, deflated balloon.

I am in jeopardy.

I am so tired.

And when I get tired, my mind starts playing tricks on me. It starts trying to convince me that I am a total loser, and that everything is falling apart. And everything just MIGHT be falling apart – but I am not a loser. Even when I act like one. I’m not.

I’m a child of the King. So I refuse to act like an orphan.

New motto

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

When the calendar flips to January 1, it’s popular amongst bloggers to post an “end of the year” or a “looking ahead to the new year” post. This year, I didn’t do either. I don’t know – I just wasn’t feeling it.

But now, just over 2 weeks late, I am ready.

2008 was dubbed the year of “The Living Big.” But this year, the theme will be… (drumroll please)…

“Take Action to Get Action.”

Yeah, I said it. (Sorry Mom.)

Now, before you go thinking that I’m going to morph into a brazen little hussy who leaves bars with strangers after taking shots of blue liquor, just calm down. That’s not what this is about.

This is about taking small steps each and every day toward what I want – or at least what I THINK I want – not expecting everything to happen all at once, but participating in what Eugene Peterson so brilliantly calls “a long obedience in the same direction.” Whether it be in terms of writing, or music, or vocation, or finances, or health, I will attempt to move forward one day at a time.

What does this mean? It means that I will do something every day. That sounds very generic and unparticular, I know, but my specific goals do not need to be publicized. I know what they are – I’ve written them down. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll not only hope for change, but begin to experience change.

But yeah, also, I’m going to look good in my jeans while doing it.

Something small

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

At church on Sunday night, the pastor mentioned that in all of his interactions with people of my generation, the overwhelming majority of us feel apathetic and bored. I know that I do – at least, very often I do. We’re all wrestling with the questions, “What is my purpose?” “What am I good at?” “What is going to fulfill me?” “What am I doing with my life?”

I have no idea. It freaks me out. And I have to admit – when I was 13, I wasn’t exactly envisioning a future of being several years out of college, single, uninsured, totally broke, and working a dead-end temp job. I must make my parents so proud…

On Monday, I had lunch with some girlfriends. One is a gifted freelance writer – on her own schedule, working on a book that is going to be incredible. One works with the baseball team of a local university – the lone girl surrounded by cute boys all day long. One is legitimately famous – all over CMT – gorgeous and glamorous and currently nominated for, you know, a GRAMMY.

And after lunch, I went back to my silent, hourly-wage temp job – the one that is rapidly sucking my mind dry, like that tube at the dentist that catches all of your extra spit.

It’s hard to not play the comparison game. It’s hard to not look around and consequently feel lame. It’s hard to not give into the voices that say that my life is purposeless. It’s hard to fight the urge to allow my circumstances to define me. It’s hard to not feel apathetic and bored.

But I don’t want to be too big to do something small.

I have a choice – to focus on all of the bad things, or on all of the good things. Today, I choose to be grateful for a job that pays my bills. For a quiet room to sit and write in. For no one hanging over my shoulder. For the opportunity to be in touch every day with the people that I love. For the gift of no job-related stress. For a bottomless bowl of office candy.

And… for the abundance of good things that I have going on OUTSIDE of work.

I have no guarantee that I’ll ever have a job that is fulfilling – but maybe my job isn’t SUPPOSED to fulfill me. In the meantime, there is something to be said for patience.

Pushing and pulling

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

This morning here at work, there are four repairmen walking in and out of the lobby – in and out, in and out – carrying ladders, tool kits, wire, and generally, looking confused. I have no idea what they’re doing – but they keep climbing ladders and removing the ceiling tiles and disappearing from the waist up into the space above, yelling back down to their comrades on the ground. They were here yesterday, too.

The glass doors in the lobby swing one way. Since they have probably used these doors 80 times in the last hour, one would think that they would know which side to push on, and which side to pull. But they don’t. Every single time that they walk up to the door, they do the wrong thing: push when they should pull, or pull when they should push. And a few minutes ago, one of the men ran straight into the door.

Who could blame him? Glass doors: now you don’t see them, now you don’t.

I feel agitated. These men have invaded my domain, my private sanctuary, and are disrupting my peace and quiet (and, let’s be honest: nail painting) with their… clanking. Hammering. Shuffling. And whenever they pull when they should push, or push when they should pull, I fight the urge to roll my eyes and yell, “IT’S NOT THAT HARD.”

Why do we make the same mistakes over and over again? We know better. We’ve been there before. We’ve experienced the consequences. And yet, we still mess up. We struggle with the same thing we struggled with yesterday, and the day before, and the day before. We fail to choose the right path – we forget the fallout.

Sometimes, I start to think that my struggles are hopeless – that I will never rise above, that things will never change. I push when I should pull, and pull when I should push. I know the right answer – I know the TRUTH – but I allow myself to be distracted just enough to trip. To throw my weight in the wrong direction. To run smack into the wall.

To change our behavior and our way of thinking, it takes awareness. Vigilance. Dedication. Attention.

There are many areas of my life that I could apply this to. But this morning, I am coming back to the same issue that I have struggled with year-in and year-out: the relentless issue of “beauty.” I believe lies. I buy into the world. I trust the media, and the voices in my head. And since such a large percentage of the female population feels the same way, there is no escaping it. Will it ever change?

Yesterday, my beautiful friend Emily posed the questions:

Am I willing to be the odd-woman-out and love the shell that God has given me to inhabit while on this earth? Am I willing to talk nicely to myself, in private and in public? Am I willing to ruthlessly edit the messages that I receive through media – cancel magazine subscriptions and delete shows from my DVR, if that is what it takes? Am I willing to let others compliment me and receive those kind words as truth? Am I willing to train my thoughts to dwell on the positive and stop comparing, stop chastising, stop chasing?

THIS is what it looks like. This is awareness. Vigilance. Dedication. Attention. And I want to be willing.

Push and pull, push and pull. Maybe one day I’ll get it right.

Because I need this reminder today

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Sometimes, life feels really hard. Whether it’s tedious or tumultuous, uneventful or unrelenting, it’s difficult to keep focused on what I know to be true. I become distracted by my circumstances, and let whatever way I currently feel dictate my beliefs.

I give up.
I give in.
I lose hope.
I lay down.
I stop trying.

I once heard someone say that if the devil can’t have our salvation, he’ll settle for our lives. Ain’t that the truth.

But so often, I believe the flip-side to be true, as well: that if God can’t have our lives, he’ll simply settle for our salvation. This is a lie. God does not “settle” when it comes to his children – he doesn’t give up on us, he doesn’t lose hope, and he never, ever stops pursuing us.

Choosing

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

We are all responsible for our own happiness.

Not to say that life isn’t going to throw us some catastrophic curve balls, or major disappointments, or unjust circumstances. These letdowns are inevitable, and if you haven’t been hit yet, then you will be someday. Pain and discouragement are a part of life, and there is no way to evade or avoid or ignore them.

I look at my life, and there are a lot of things that I would like to change. A lot. I could list them, but it wouldn’t change the fact that they are.

But we always have a choice – a choice of how to respond to what life offers.

So I choose fortitude. I choose hope. I choose courage. I choose gratitude. I choose contentment. And yes, today, in the face of the tedious monotone of a desk job that I am over-qualified for, of the nebulous unknown of my future, of a limited bank account, of the temptation of discouragement and forsaking, of my many inner-demons and growing edges and ugly ducklings that have never blossomed into beautiful swans, I choose happiness.

Because if I don’t, then who is going to do it for me?

"Holy contour"

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Some days, it’s easy to wake up and be excited about life. There are things happening. There’s stuff going on. There is a resolve, and a hope, and an expectation. There is the possibility that this might be the day that changes the rest of your life.

But a lot of days feel like today. Just another Wednesday. Just another daily grind. Just another wake up, go to work, eat lunch, back to work, go home, feed the dogs, go on a walk, take a shower, go to sleep. I would venture to say that most of the time, we experience days like this.

The “big moments” are few and far between.

Yesterday I mentioned that “adventure isn’t always exciting” – and I am currently experiencing that first-hand. We live in a world so conditioned for the thrill, the adrenaline, the fireworks, and it makes it hard to be satisfied during the quiet stretches. I want something amazing to happen – something that will act as an injection of joy and achievement and fulfillment.

But you can’t win a gold medal every day. You can’t land your dream job every day. You can’t fall in love every day.

Ultimately, I think that the “big moments” feel good because of the little moments. The gold medal feels good because of the thousands of hours invested in the hard work of training. The dream job feels good because of the misery felt in the former cubicle. The new love feels good because of the prior loneliness and longing. The “big moment” is the result of the often monotonous momentum leading up to it.

But all of our moments, big and small, exciting and tedious, are a part of the same thing: the only life we’ve been given. And as Jack Kerouac wrote, “Believe in the holy contour of life.”

I believe that there is shape and significance to our lives, even in the silence.

The long road

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I don’t understand why there has to be so much pain, so much fear, so much weight. But there is. Just look around: our world is cracked and bleeding and broken. I turned on the news last night, but had to turn it off again – my brain simply could not handle more problems. I know that war and politics and gas prices are a really big deal, but currently, in my own tiny mind, they do not hold a candle to the realities that hit closer to home.

Several friends of mine are being faced with some insurmountable challenges, and I am doing my best to walk with them in whatever way I can, however small. The pain feels impossible. The road is rough and seemingly endless. I want to change everything for them, to write some nice words to wash away the anxiety, to point toward the safe way out. But I can’t. All that I can do is to abide, to stubbornly remain, to listen, and to pray. I have no words of resolution, and no ideas for healing. I cannot promise that everything is going to turn out alright. But I cannot leave.

One of these situations has reached a very dire point, and is worth mentioning today. Please pray for my friends Jeff and Carin, and their 3-year old son Ben. The results of today’s scans will determine future treatment options. It has been almost a year since Ben was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, and the Townes have walked through nothing less than hell on earth. I implore you all to please keep vigil with them today, and to pray for courage, trust, and complete healing for their sweet little spunky fighter.