Making time to Wander
Wandering isn’t something most of us participate in. We live and have internalized the hustle culture of productivity and all-around getting stuff done. To be sure, I am a fan of getting things done and checking tasks off my list, but there is also great satisfaction in being able to wander.
Especially when you are in a new place without all the trappings of responsibility and to-do lists ready to remind you.
We are, I can’t believe it, already into August. It came speeding in, and yet summer has not yet ended. We still have time for last-minute excursions and day trip adventures.
Give yourself the gift of some time to get away, no matter how long or short, and be able to soak in something new. Wander around a new city or a new trail. Find a new locally owned coffee shop or restaurant to stoke your joy and rejuvenation as we head toward what will likely forever be known as Back to School season. Even if nobody you know is returning to school, it still feels like the season of glue sticks, fresh pencils, and highlighters.
With that time of year on the horizon, it seems like we should pack up our pool noodles, swimmies, and sun hats and replace them with backpacks and lunch bags but not so fast, friends. We still have time!
This month we are turning our faces to the still blazing hot sun and holding hands with wanderlust.
I know sometimes it feels simpler or easier just to stay home, but you never regret an excursion dedicated to being idle and seeing what adventure crosses your path when you are simply open to it.
This summer, we are primed for more fun; who isn’t? Two weeks ago, the Ohio contingent of Lowi and G had the privilege of hosting Lowi’s youngest daughter, Reese, for the weekend. It was initially planned as a cousins’ weekend for Reese and Ava, our younger sister’s daughter. But the rest of us couldn’t help ourselves but join in on the fun.
There was candle-making, a breakfast outing, pizza night, and Sunday dinner. I even got the distinct privilege of weaseling my way into spa night, so I could put a mask on my face, lips, and even my feet. In fact, the foot mask would end up offering long-term effects in that a full week later, the skin is still peeling off. I have been a class act in my yoga classes.
We drove around in the Jeep with the top and doors off. We ate Italian ice, introduced Reese to Bhakti the Cat, and laughed our way through the weekend.
Most of all, I think all of the adults were reminded of how summer felt when we were kids. It was fewer errands and more games. There was more sleeping in (by some of us) and staying up late. We worried less about work and relaxed for a few days with zero plan for productivity.
I am pretty sure summer can be that way for all of us to an extent. Yes, of course, most of us are required to show up to work, but maybe we could use some of those saved-up vacation days or spend our lunch break outside soaking up some sun instead of staying at our desks.
We can be creative with our time, at least some of it. It can sometimes be as close as the answers to better questions:
How can this be more fun?
How can this be easier?
What one thing can I do today just for fun?
You’re never too adult to have a fun summer! If you need an instruction manual or some sort of guidance, I feel fairly certain that any teenager or early 20-something could give you some pointers.
Turns out we only need good music, perhaps a beverage, an open dance floor, and family in order to have an amazing summer evening.
A little over a week ago, we flew to Ohio for a family wedding. It was a gorgeous summer day with a slight breeze and the birds chirping. Add flowers, family, and a beautiful couple committing their lives to one another and you have magic. Sprinkle in some food and drink and you have a party!
While we waited for the bride and groom to enter the reception we socialized, took photos, and laughed a lot. Turns out our entire family has a lot of feral tendencies as we all began to inch closer to the dance floor as the music and energy rose and we impatiently waited to dance. Don’t worry, we signed the guest book, introduced ourselves to others, and sat down to eat our fabulous meal before we turned into that crazy family.
We love weddings, but it’s more than that. We love LOVE. It’s easy to get lost in…let’s just say, the crazy that continues to pervade all sanity in our world right now.
Stan Tatkin says we are wired for love and he even wrote a book titled, Wired for Love. Full disclosure, I haven’t read it in full, but clearly, I didn’t coin that phrase so I want to give credit where it’s due. It’s in these moments though, that you know this is how we are meant to live. We were instinctually loving one another, connecting and it was amazing, fun, beautiful, and hopeful, especially on a day when our country was handing out rulings and slashing women’s rights.
No rabbit holes. We can’t go there today.
Brené Brown would say that “connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued.” The dance floor at a wedding is the perfect picture of connection. There is energy, vulnerability, and love, there are all the wrong words being sung at the top of our lungs and there is absolutely no judgment or shame. There are people from all walks of life, ages, ethnicities, political affiliations, and beliefs and it doesn’t matter. Nobody cares how you swing politically, they just want you to keep swinging your hips and singing.
I read a post from Kelly Corrigan this week about their recent family wedding and she really summed it up best.
“You never heard so much love bouncing off the walls of a room. Singing, stomping, swinging, swaying, swooning.”
This is love in its purest, unedited form. She went on to say, “Marriage is a profound choice, every time that we dare to do this thing considering the ways it can go so terribly wrong. All suffering comes from love, but all goodness, too. It’s the only currency that matters.”
Love is the only currency that matters. Let that sit with you and let’s remember this as we move forward into our feral girl summer. There is surely suffering, anger, words being exchanged, heated battles being fought over what we believe and still at the end of the day, love and connection will always be the answer. Hug your people and hold them close. Life is messy and full of feral human beings who are struggling to remember how to love, be loved, and connect.
Thank you to Annie and Cam for allowing us to share in their special day and reminding us what it’s all about.
Feral Girl Remedial Course
Last time we were together we announced our participation in Feral Girl Summer. Now I realize that this doesn’t require a sign-up or an announcement. I mean it’s about throwing all the rules out the window so you surely don’t need to fill out a registration form.
The reason I bring it up is that it’s possible, I am in need of some sort of remedial course or fun for idiots instruction. Since we so boldly shared that it’s a fun-filled, mindless summer for all, I promptly proceeded to start a 6-week strength/run workout program and went rucking with a heat index of 110 (Please don’t fret. I did this with safety and clarity about my ability and also an abort switch)
During this little excursion, it occurred to me that possibly I was doing this whole feral summer thing wrong. Again, just the idea that I was doing it wrong is probably against the un-rules of being feral. Geez, who knew I was such a freaking rule follower?
Do you have this challenge? Are you so ingrained to be productive, and earning your keep that the idea of doing nothing seems wrong? A friend told me the other day that she is done feeling bad about rest. If she happens to fall asleep during the day for an hour or two she assumes her body and mind must have needed the rest. What a concept! That seems liberating and the kind of feral activity one needs this summer.
Last Friday, John and I hit the trail with the intention that I would ruck (carry weight in a backpack) for 6 miles. At 3.25 miles I was starting to feel it in my shoulders. By mile 4, my hips were starting to complain. By 5 miles I was counting the tenths as they collected on my watch. John then said, if you want to get a couple more miles in, I will take the pack.
YES!!! Here you go! But wait, not yet. I was only at 5.71 miles and I had committed to 6. (Again with the rules!!) But when I got to 6.00 on that watch I promptly stopped in my tracks and unburdened myself from the 25-ish pound pack. My arms and shoulders immediately felt so light as if they might fly away. I was feeling so much better and then again John decided to add another mental challenge. How about we run the hills??
Please cue the internal eye roll. I was thinking, how about let’s eat? But I knew I would regret it if we quit so I ran. My legs felt like whatever Jell-O and lead mixed together makes. I was slow and clunky but determined.
Blissfully we returned to the trailhead at just over 8.5 miles. You know what? I was so glad I hadn’t quit. I was tired. I was still tired the next day but that’s the only path to getting stronger.
Do you know what I did Saturday? Nothing of substance. My body said it was tired and I listened. I read a book. I sat outside in the sun because the temperatures finally dropped to the low 70s and I let myself recover.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my feral girl summer may look different than yours. Mine may be more of a work hard, play hard variety. But it’s my summer. You can have your own version too. But for heaven’s sake have some fun!!!
Feral Girl Summer
Life has been difficult and complicated probably forever. But it seems that we’ve had an extensive string of days culminating in years that have been in a word: hard. Covid, gun violence, racial injustice, domestic violence, as well as sexual assault, abuse, and harassment have seemingly all reached a pinnacle at approximately the same time. All of these issues are emotionally charged, volatile, controversial, and have proven to be outrageously polarizing. What’s more, they are on the revolving forefront every single day.
With all of that as the backdrop, it seems only fitting that “feral girl summer” would be a theme as we roll into summer 2022. Now I realize that Lowi and I are way beyond our heyday of bikini summers and gathering at the mall so it seems that whether it’s hot girl summer or some other trend that it doesn’t apply to our age group. To that, I call bullshit.
Yep, there I said it. Do you know, why? It’s feral girl summer and if ever there is a summer that every man, woman, and child has a solid excuse for having zero Fs to give it’s this one.
I think it’s more than a little ironic that I have been saying for almost a year now that I am some varying percentage of feral after spending all that time pandemic time unsocialized, and frankly, also with a cat. I was never great at small talk or chit chat and I am even worse now. I am what you might call situationally socially awkward or in my terms, feral.
In the most official definition, feral girl summer basically means abiding by no rules, and not caring what anyone thinks. That sounds like precisely the summer of which I am desperately deserving. I need a season of late mornings and early outs on Fridays. I need school night dates and to sit by bonfires. I need outdoor movies on Saturday, mimosas on Sundays, and tacos on Tuesdays– maybe all in the same week. I need to worry less about what I weigh and more about weighing my options for fun.
It’s the season for letting the machine of work and responsibility and productivity screech to a grinding halt (or at the very least pump the brakes). It’s the season of joy and recovery and rejoining life in a way we haven’t for nearly 3 years. We have been in a purgatorial liminal space for far longer than could ever be productive.
So, you may ask, how should I approach feral girl summer? Any damn way you like.
Embrace: The Silence
If you know me at all you then also know I have a penchant for talking. I almost always have a lot to say about everything. That’s not the same as thinking my opinion matters more than everyone else’s it’s more that I like to engage with people in this way, and share ideas, books, and thoughts about life.
Recently, I had dental surgery to repair gum recession. One of the limitations that I have right now is not talking very much. I believe “speak minimally” is the exact instruction. In theory, this doesn’t seem all that complicated. I mean I often work from home and the other person around me most is my cat. In addition, I am by admission and nature an introvert. I know that statement seems like an invalidation of all I just said about talking but like everything else in life, it’s complicated.
But as the day of my procedure drew closer I started to pay attention to just how much talking is a part of my day. I am at the most basic core of my life a teacher. I teach yoga. I am a personal trainer. I talk all day long. All I do is explain, instruct, guide, and sometimes attempt to entertain.
I began to rethink some of my commitments because the only thing you want to do less than have a gum graft is to have a second one because you blew it the first time. I am one who tends to push through, put my head down and plow ahead but this recovery process doesn’t lend itself to that. What it requires is pulling back, slowing down, and being as silent as possible.
When I am alone it’s much easier although I do have a tendency to talk to my cat more than is likely healthy but we’ll save that for another conversation. Even taking a walk outside feels problematic. I tend to greet people on the street as I pass by or at the very least smile. Both of these niceties are a bit out of my reach so I have been reduced to waving and feeling incredibly weird and awkward.
But when my husband, John, is at home it’s like trying to keep the lid on a soda bottle that’s been shaken up and half-opened. I have a million things to say, 80% of it is nonsense, and yet I feverishly type notes on my phone, text him, or scribble on scraps of paper about all the thoughts, activities, and complaints I have accumulated throughout the day. After about an hour of this, I start to feel exhausted and stop hoping it will feel better tomorrow.
I am only a handful of days into this recovery and it appears this is more of a marathon than a sprint so I am going to need to embrace the quiet. I am going to have to make peace with not sharing every random thought that skitters across my mind even though it desperately wants to escape through my mouth.
I suppose this is an exercise in self-control or maybe in surrender; possibly it’s both. The other elephant in the room, or maybe it’s on my chest, is that there is no guarantee this will work. I can follow the rules as closely as possible and there’s a chance the graft will be a failure. I have tortured myself with this periodically but the truth is I need to make peace with the uncertainty, manage the parts that are in my control, and let it go. No matter how tightly I hold on I cannot make this a success and I cannot talk sooner than I would like.
I have to let go of the rope. I have to be willing to say no to some things and potentially displease others in order to set a good foundation for healing. It’s been difficult for me already. But when you lay it out plainly it comes down to this, if I say yes to this person/situation in order to please but potentially put my successful outcome at risk what does that say about how I value myself?
I have, embarrassingly, come up against this choice point more than once already. My first and most powerful instinct is to say yes to someone else even when it means saying no to me. I hate to disappoint. I loathe to inconvenience someone else. I don’t like having to go back on my word because the situation has changed. I imagine how others will feel about me or judge me and that’s a powerful motivator to put myself lower on the ladder.
As I sit here knowing I need to say no to some things and what feels worse yet, back out of some things I previously committed to I am reminded of something I read in Glennon Doyle’s book, Untamed. I mean, of course, I had to look it up cause I didn’t actually remember it well, and not as unequivocally as she wrote it.
“Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.”
And there it is, friends.
I am embracing silence, uncertainty, letting go, and surrendering (with a sprinkling of kicking and screaming). Who knew I was grafting so much more into my life than new gums?
Outrun 24: Just Plain Difficult
All the best writing advice says you need to write whether you are inspired or not. You are encouraged to write when you have nothing to say and your creativity seems lost. Keep writing is the advice because when inspiration does float in on a breeze you are ready. I know this to be true and yet all week I have been waiting. I have not been writing because I believed I didn’t have anything to say and the muse had not yet made herself known.
What have I been waiting for exactly?
I was hopeful that what can only be described as a disjointed and chaotic experience would somehow collect itself and offer me a succinct nugget of wisdom that I could easily offer you about the race. I procrastinated as I held onto the futile expectation that the sweet tale of a satisfying summary would rise to the surface of my mind fully formed. I even told Lowi I was waiting but the only thing that I had come up with so far was “It was hard… I mean really hard.”
As the days ticked by I realized I was going to have to start writing and see if a cohesive idea didn’t fall out of my head and into my typing fingers. At the very least I surmised that maybe the message that’s supposed to move me, what I am supposed to share with all of you is just that: It was a truly difficult endeavor.
Sometimes people get the idea that if you like to run that an event such as this is somehow easy. That for whatever reason the fatigue doesn’t ever land in your body, that doubts and fear never visit your mind. But that isn’t true, not even a little.
I could dress it up or try to make it sound more elegant but the reality is that challenges like this are often full of struggle and maybe the muse is a little bit stubborn in leaving me with only this trite little phrase to get me going. However, let me start with the fun parts.
Lowi and I were together again at the Outrun 24. It felt good to return to a place and race that holds such positive memories for me. I have been back to this event more recently than Lowi but having her along for the ride made it feel different.
On our drive to Cleveland the day before the race we were able to catch up, talk about our race strategy, freak ourselves out, and then talk ourselves back into belief. We did this over and over again. We ate pizza, drank plenty of water, and put ourselves to bed early in the hopes of some glimpses of sleep.
Mercifully, 8 a.m. Saturday morning rolled around and the race began. For me, the anticipation is always worse than finally being in it. Whatever happens, no matter how difficult there is relief is simply being able to tackle it instead of having to endlessly think about it.
I won’t bore you with a mile-by-mile recap. I honestly couldn’t provide one anyway. I typically have a fairly fuzzy recall of experiences like this after you combine the fatigue, the lack of sleep, calorie deficit, and possibly the protective mechanism of mentally leaving your body, I lose some of the details.
What I can tell you is a race like this is about precision. If you have a big goal you can’t waste many moments. You need to be accountable for your time. You can lose precious minutes here and there so quickly and then in the end it bites you.
I know this to be true and honestly, I can’t say that I would change much about this race except my shoes. I didn’t manage every moment as efficiently as I could have but I also got the chance to log a few miles with Lowi and that was tremendous fun. It may sound weird but just knowing she was hammering away at the same course, probably thinking the same thoughts (you know, DNA is strong) gave me some solidarity.
But as I was telling you earlier in the simplest of ways: It was really hard. And it was. I had some tough miles and even tougher hours. I had an extended mental struggle from 2 a.m. until sunrise that left me not knowing where to tether my mind because dawn was too far to provide relief. Not to mention, everything hurts in a way that seems impossible. My feet hurt, I had a blister that didn’t warrant trail-side surgery but made its subtle presence known regularly. The constant bodily demand for calories persists long past any desire to eat and that begins to wear. Blend that up with the disappointment that my pace continued to slow despite my best efforts and you are left with a gunky mix.
I think maybe what I am starting to glean is that the difficulty is the draw to an event like this. I find value in learning how to conquer or at the very least endure these variables. In these 24 hours, there were countless times I might have said I wasn’t having fun and that would be true but that didn’t mean I wanted to quit. Sometimes you want the end to arrive. You want to be able to sit down, feel better, or sleep but I never wanted to quit.
Maybe what I have learned is that even when it’s hard, I mean really hard, I don’t want to quit. I want to get better.
Overall, the day was a success. I managed to accumulate 75 miles during the 24 hours. I didn’t sleep and didn’t stop until I was left too few minutes to complete another mile. I was pleased to discover when the race came to an end that I had placed 15th overall and 5th among women. That is possibly the best finish I have ever had.
It was still a tough day and I still want to get better.
Continue on for Lowi’s account or Return to Blog
Do you want me to start with the good news or the bad news from the Outrun24? Let’s start with the funny.
While you are doing a one-mile loop over and over, you get to see the same people and overhear a lot of conversations. Some are just a blur as they pass you like this little comment that is no longer a relatable statement for me: “I am trying to slow down, but I keep running sub 10-minute miles!”
Then there was one at about mile 28 that I couldn’t even comprehend. These two women were speaking, but I couldn’t understand the words coming out of their mouths.I thought maybe I was having a stroke but then I realized I would be the one slurring my words not the people around me. I wasn’t sure if I was delusional and could no longer understand English, but then they safely passed me, and yep they were speaking English. They were just very academic and they were discussing eastern medicine and shamanism. It was just too much for my brain to take in at that point.
But then there was some guy who said, and I quote, “I don’t know how the hell I ended up back out here except to say I drank too much one night and it sounded like a great idea. I haven’t trained well, I’m not sure how many miles I can do but here I am.”
This guy was speaking my language. Apparently, I’m not the only one who signs up for ultra races after a couple glasses of wine!
Okay, that’s it. If you are looking for comedy relief, you can stop reading right now because that is the extent of my humor about these 24 hours.
Eight years ago when we first did the Outrun24, we individually ran 50 miles. It was epic in every way. The emotions were high and the knowledge that our bodies could go so much further than we ever imagined was transformative for me. It still is one of the best and hardest days of my life. These last 8 years have brought challenges that I couldn’t have imagined back then. I’ve thought about that race a lot over the years and it’s helped me to keep moving. So, when G mentioned, ever so subtly, back in October that the Outrun24 signup was coming up, I felt like I was ready to give it another go.
Fast forward to last weekend. Same race, same course, and same perfect weather. The stars were aligned and all I had to do was run. From the start, I couldn’t keep up with G and everything just felt slow and hard. I spent a few miles just working out the kinks and hearing a version of Taylor Swift’s song, 22, in my head. It went something like this:
It feels like one of those nights
We ditch the whole scene
It feels like one of those nights we won’t be sleeping…
I don’t know about you
But I’m feeling 52.
I was feeling every single one of my 52 years and if I’m honest, I wanted to stop at mile 13. I didn’t know if I could reach my first-tier goal of completing a 50k. I had done 20 miles two weeks prior and it felt good. This did not feel the same at all. Frustration set in early and I knew I had to regroup.
At mile 16, I changed socks, slathered myself in Arnica, took some Advil, and stretched. I got back on the trail and focused on getting to 31 miles. Once I hit 31 miles I stopped and evaluated where I was. While I felt relieved to hit that marker, it didn’t feel amazing to quit, but it also didn’t feel good to keep going. Then G came around and gave me the news that I had to complete 32 miles to officially get a 50k in the books. So, I went back out feeling slightly refreshed for the first half mile and then the hill. I haven’t even mentioned the hill. I live in Colorado. I’ve hiked way bigger “hills” than this, but every single mile it starts to wear on you and the downhill just beats you up. My back and the downhill were not friends and my back started to spasm. I decided I was done. I officially quit before 12 hours was even up. I know John was counting on me to help G through the night, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted to, but my body was not having it. I did do one more lap with her around 11:00pm. I’m not sure that I was any help as I was pretty slow at that point.
For me, the race was not epic. It hurt. It hurt in all the ways you can imagine. My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, my back hurt, my elbows even hurt. It was a mental struggle. I felt like I let myself down by not training harder, I let my sister down by not being able to run with her or even do the whole 24 hours, it was a struggle mentally to stay in the game as long as I did.
I crawled into the tent so that I could lay down and rest at least a little. Someone had to drive us all home the next day. I didn’t feel accomplished or proud as I wrapped myself in a sleeping bag. I had completed 33 miles, but I felt like I failed. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this feeling. Will I try again? Will I focus my attention elsewhere? Time will tell, but right now I have no desire to test the waters again anytime soon.
Shoutout to Mike, an old high school friend who was also at the Outrun this year and completed a 100k! That’s 62 miles and he looked amazing! April 30th was his day and he took it all the way!
To John, who is and always will be the best crew chief a girl could ask for. Thanks for feeding us, keeping us hydrated, and keeping our spirits up.
And finally to G, who always inspires me to be better. April 30th wasn’t my day, but you were a rockstar! You stayed the course for 24 straight hours and completed 75 freaking miles. So proud of you and your determination and I know it’s only a matter of time before you hit 100 miles. Go G!
Endurance: It’s in all of us
Lowi and I over the years have never found it all that important to delineate who wrote what or whose thoughts we were sharing, whether hers or mine. But early on we realized those of you reading our blog sure did. You had a distinct preference for knowing at the outset whose words you were about to read (and on occasion, hear).
But this month, for once, I think it’s important to share it was Lowi’s idea that the theme for April be – endurance.
I have a reputation, at least in this small circle, for being the instigator of all things long-distance, grueling, or otherwise. As you can imagine, when I got a text from Lowi suggesting endurance be our theme, I was all for it but also thought everyone was going to think this came from me.
With that, here we are. We have arrived in April 2022 and we all continue to endure this twilight zone experience that is being alive in these times. Regardless of where you land on the ideological spectrum, I think it’s a fair statement that we all consider the last two years a form of enduring.
It’s not all bad, though. This is where my experience in endurance events helps give a different or additional perspective. Endurance is never wasted and it always comes with a reward of some kind. The races that I have failed to finish have probably given me the most insight into myself. They have shown me where I am fearful, mentally weak, insecure or where I made mistakes throughout the day. Let’s be honest, bearing witness to these less than stellar traits in ourselves is not easy and I have certainly avoided this in the past. But when you can muster the courage to do so you start to realize “our failings” are simply an area that needs work. I still remember telling my husband after I had failed to finish the second 50k I ever attempted that I didn’t know how to suffer. I finally was able to look at the reality of the situation. Instead of making excuses or blaming the weather or shoes or something else I had to look at myself. I didn’t know how to suffer and if you want to complete anything that takes endurance you must learn how to suffer and suffer well.
This sounds dramatic but the truth is we have all suffered well in some areas of our lives. Every parent who has sat through a concert or school presentation of any kind and lived to tell about it has suffered well. Those parents have also endured. Are you better for it in some way? Probably.
Others of us have suffered while waiting for final grades, writing a thesis, or hanging in there while completing a home-improvement task.
At the end of the month, Lowi and I are going to return to The Outrun 24. We haven’t been to this race together in 8 years. Like most of you, much has happened in nearly a decade. There is water under the bridge, as they say. And yet, I would venture that we are better, stronger even than we were then. In that amount of time, you live a fair amount of life and you learn more than a few lessons. Since our first adventure at the Outrun, we have survived our own personal struggles and a pandemic!! I feel confident, that if you look back on your life in the last 8 years you can think of more than a few blips on the radar that engendered growth and grit in you, too.
Endurance often gets a bad rap. We tend to hear it in a negative context and there is struggle woven into the fiber of anything that requires endurance but there is much more. When being asked (or demanded) to endure we find out who we are; we find out what holes need to be filled and what skills need to be honed. It’s how we grow.
As we share with all of you our battles along the way to and during this upcoming race, notice that the event is simply the details. Don’t be quick to count yourself out and say you can’t relate. You may be doing your own version, whether that’s going back to school, clutter clearing your house, sending your youngest off to college, or re-entering the office after two years. We have all endured. We are all enduring. We are all (breathe deeply) growing.
Two weeks ago, G spoke about showing up in her own life by bringing forth whatever gift or skill was inside. She addressed the fact that there are so many things constantly vying for our attention, including the fact the everyday we wake up wondering if this is the day that the “sky will fall.” She reminded us that short of a few things we can do to tangibly help, we need to keep living.
Maybe the sky will fall and you know what? She’s right. None of these things are a good reason to sit back and wait. It’s time to show up and make the most of your life.
I’m not sure if you are familiar with Jesse Itzler. He is an entrepreneur, author, owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and married to the Spanx founder, Sarah Blakey. I follow Itzler on Instagram and he is ALWAYS showing up for life in a big way. Last week, he did the Arizona Ultraman Race. He did a 6.2 mile swim, 261 mile bike ride and 52.4 mile run over 3 days. You can go to his IG page to see how it all unfolded, but I watched his story all 3 days mesmerized by his ability to keep going. He had to show up every minute of those 3 days in order to finish and make no mistake, it was hard. You could see and feel the struggle. On one of his posts he quoted someone who yelled at him as saying, “that’s really bad for your body” while he was running. I loved his response: “it might not be the best thing for your body, but it’s UNBELIEVABLE FOR YOUR SOUL.”
YES! This is what we have to keep in the back of our minds when we don’t want to do the thing, don’t want to work out or commit. We have to think about the result, the finish line; how it makes you feel to really show up and do what you set out to do. Honestly, that is what keeps me moving most days; how I will feel when I finish the run or the strength training or even the small task I have been putting off simply because I wouldn’t make time for it.
Itzler doesn’t just show up for how it makes him feel though. In fact, he has created an entire business around showing people how to invest in their own lives through experiences. He is the founder of Build Your Life Resume and the whole premise is to help people prioritize what they want to do in their year before life starts dictating what they are going to do. He breaks down your year like this:
“We have 8,760 hours in a year. Working, sleeping, eating and being on your phone/social uses about 5,600 of those hours for most Americans. That’s 75% of your time GONE and all you have done is work, sleep, eat and be on your device. You think you have time to spare? Think again.”
The point isn’t that we need to train for an ultra, travel the world or never watch Netflix again. The point is that we only have this one life to live and we need to get out there and make some memories. We need to show up and see our friends, sign up for the class, send the letter, call the person, do sidewalk chalk, write the book, change jobs, build the house, register for the 5k, camp under the stars or whatever it is that is going to breathe life into your soul.
Our youngest daughter has decided she is going to study abroad this fall. This is way outside her comfort zone, but she feels like it’s something she needs and wants to experience. We are supporting her desire to do this and building her up when she has doubts. She is going to spend her 75% immersing herself in a different culture and experiencing life through a different lens. She doesn’t have to train for this adventure, she just has to commit and do it.
Some responses to this decision have been less than enthusiastic. Yes, things in our world could go awry and this semester abroad could be postponed or canceled. It’s totally possible, but what if things are fine by September? Is the possibility of something going wrong enough reason to put this experience aside and not plan for it? We don’t think so. There are contingencies in place, but otherwise we are full steam ahead.
Something could always go wrong. If we live our lives in fear of what might happen, we will never do anything. Let’s plan for our next experience, let’s assume all will go well, let’s enjoy the planning process and let’s show up for our lives. Your soul will thank you.
Keep Showing Up!
Keep showing up. This phrase has entered the zeitgeist in the same way that the idea of being authentic has. We hear it all the time. These words buzz around in our heads, in our social media feed, zip out of the mouths of nearly every influencer, motivational speaker, therapist, and guru there is.
At the risk of sounding obtuse, how does one make manifest showing up?
I don’t think we mean showing up on time for appointments, or work, or dinner; while those punctuality skills are appreciated.
This next part, spoiler alert, will not be where I provide you with the universal answer. I will, however, provide you with my answer, or more accurately, thoughts on the matter. There are various forms of showing up but I am going to narrow it down a bit.
Showing up for ourselves. Ugh. This one is wildly out of my wheelhouse at times. I have moments where I am on top of it. I say no, when I mean no because I am too spent. I have other moments where the feeling of conflict of saying no, enforcing even the smallest of boundaries or basic expectation feels like too much and so I go along. I don’t push back. I don’t say no. I don’t say anything at all while I am seething inside. And to be honest, I am not even nearly as upset with that other person. How could they know? I am mad at myself because I didn’t speak up. I took the easy way out but it’s never the easy way out. It’s the practiced way out. I know far more expertly how to put myself last than I do how to put myself in the top 5 on my list.
But the one which I think I struggle with the most; the one that I have the most intense tug-of-war going is showing up to my own life. You can, of course, interpret this any way you like. But I perceive this one as knowing what truly is creating the life I want and what is inconsequential. For example, passing on taking a long weekend or a vacation with friends or even alone because it’s too much work to catch up when I return! Oof, I have said this one out loud to myself and other people. As if my job is the entire reason for being on this planet. I don’t know what the entire reason for being is but I feel exceedingly confident that it’s not to work. Why does our commitment to work or obligations in life appear far more valid than living an actual life?
Showing up to my life means finally doing or trying all the things that I put off while I am working, or cleaning the house, or watching Netflix, or wasting time on social media or complaining about working, cleaning the house, that there is nothing to watch on Netflix or that everyone on social media is wasting their time.
I’m not proud of that list but I won’t deny it. I have done all of it, repeatedly. You?
I recently read a book called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield and while primarily it’s about writing and being creative it can be applied to anything and everything that you are putting off. In essence, it means committing to what you were called to this life to do. I don’t know what your gifts are but my guess is in your truest of moments with yourself, you know. Just like in my sincerest moments, I have inklings if not full knowings of what I am here to do. And this does not mean doing it well. It simply means you are called to it for whatever reason.
The smallest and seemingly most trivial of those inklings or knowings is sidewalk chalk. I wouldn’t say I am highly skilled at it. I wouldn’t say that it’s a gift in its purest sense. What I do know is I feel called to keep leaving messages on my driveway, weather permitting, of course.
To stifle that would be the opposite of showing up. Or as Pressfield says, “What do I feel growing inside me? Let me bring that forth, if I can, for its own sake and not for what it can do for me or how it can advance my standing.” If that doesn’t give you a big enough nudge, then consider this “Success or failure are not your concern. It is better to fail at your own dharma (calling) than to succeed at the dharma of another. Your task is only to bring as much life force as you can muster to the execution of your dharma.” That, according to Stephen Cope in “The Great Work of Your Life.”
I know this all seems like such selfish considerations when all you need to do is look around and it appears that this time the sky will fall, that the world is on fire again, or that a global war may once more break out. I feel that too at least 100 times a day. Aside from donating money to aid organizations, there is little my day-to-day behavior can do to affect change on most of these things so why not bring forth what I do have? Why not?
We have all been given respite from our personal and collective worries by reading works of fiction, staring at a gorgeous sunset, appreciating spectacular art, or blowing bubbles in freezing temperatures just to see the hexagonal designs appear as it freezes. We delight in the beauty. We take refuge in it as well.
What better time to show up with whatever gift you have been given in this life? Whatever it is we all could use it.
Where’s the Magic?
Not unlike the old commercial from the 80s that boasted the slogan, “where’s the beef?” I am past the midpoint of February and I am wondering, “where’s the magic?” I know G set the bar very low and only asked us to find small glimmers of joy, but dang it’s been a hard month.
There has been a lot of loss around us and it feels easier to keep our heads down and brace for the next hit. When I sat down to write about magic I honestly wasn’t sure I had it in me. Then I went back and read G’s blog and realized that looking up was the whole point. If you keep your head down waiting for that other shoe to drop, you miss the magic.
So, let’s keep our heads up and find some magic.
You might still be wondering about the idea of magic and thinking you don’t really dig the word. I get it. It feels a little woohoo and conjures up a desire for some peanut butter and jelly. Please tell me you laughed and I don’t have to explain that joke.
What if I told you that what we are really talking about this month is changing your perspective for just a few minutes each day? What if I told you we are just flipping the script on gratitude and calling it magic? Is it starting to make more sense? Would you be able to write down three things you were grateful for rather than three magical things that happened to you? Does that make it easier?
By all means, call it what you like, but think of magic as sprinkling a little fairy dust on your gratitude. The word gratitude has been overused perhaps. We all know that we need to be grateful and we have read the studies and felt the power of writing down three things every day, but we have short attention spans and we need more.
It’s like having a workout routine that you do five days a week and then you get bored and unmotivated. Pretty soon you stop working out because it no longer excites you and you’ve gained 10 pounds. You need a different routine to get excited and re-energized. This is what magic is; a new idea to re-energize all of us.
My month hasn’t changed. There has still been a lot of loss and bad news, but I am choosing to think about it differently. I am choosing to blow a little fairy dust up into the air and watch it settle down on life. Now when I look out over the month I see pain and loss, but I also see family coming together, forgiveness, kindness, love, a baby being born at just the right moment, a daughter stepping out of her comfort zone, new adventures, time with friends, connection and so much more. Now just imagine if I had kept my head down? I would have missed all the magic.
Keep your heads up, friends.
We have entered the month where we historically tend to get fixated on love; romantic love, self-love, or just let’s love everyone. These are valuable elements in life but what we think we most need in February 2022 in the millionth day of this pandemic experience is magic.
Our hearts, our psyches, our mental health is most in need of glimmers of goodness, sparkles of joy; in essence – magic! The last two years have drubbed us enough into being realistic. We aren’t talking whisking off to some far-flung locale. We are keeping our expectations for magic around the neighborhood of a limbo stick. You know, low.
If there was ever a time in your life where you needed a dash of awe, a sprinkle of wow, a skosh of fairy dust, it’s now. The same goes for us!
We touched on this a bit late last year when we introduced you to (or possibly reminded you of) microjoys courtesy of Cyndie Speigel. Microjoys are exactly what it sounds like: tiny, itty bitty pockets of delight.
We can find magic in an early morning mug of tea; a late afternoon walk in the snow when the sun’s glow makes everything look beautiful; or in the snuggle of a puppy or kitten. The secret ingredient or the switch we have to flip is belief.
We have to decide to believe there is magic to be felt and experienced every day. It may not always be Disney magnitude but it could be Smurf-sized. I, for one, could use even some extra Smurfy magic. If you need to buy some Lucky Charms to get you on the right track, go for it. I hear they are magically delicious.
Friends, life is hard in a million little ways and its fair share of big, gargantuan ways. We can all check the boxes on the shared difficulties and then we each have our personal or familial struggles. It weighs on us. It changes how we see ourselves. It distorts how we see life as a whole.
We are not here to minimize the hardships or throw pink paint on them. We are simply activating the magical power of the word: AND.
Life is hard AND each day we can do one thing that sparks magic for us. Maybe it’s throwing a bath bomb in the tub and turning your AirPods to noise cancel for 20 minutes. If that’s not your scene, maybe it’s taking an early morning hike to watch the sun come up to remind you there are still parts of life we can depend on.
Commit to finding or making magic for 2-3 minutes a day. When you wake in the morning let one of your first sentences or thoughts be: Magic, please! Then go forth to create it or seek it out. Even better, recruit others to join you on your magic search.
This month we are doing our best to spend our days and this blog skewing you and us toward the side of magic. Are you in?
Call to Change: This Isn’t Working
Countless, endless and quickly moving thoughts stirred in my mind as 2021 slowly began to make its way to a rightful close. One of the most common iterations was, this isn’t working. What we are doing isn’t working. What we aren’t doing is also not working.
This is a general, specific, global and local statement that’s truth has seeped into my bones: this isn’t working.
There is hardly an area in my life that I could not apply this statement to and it find some traction. This is not to say my life is terrible or awful, it’s to say that just because I can get away with it doesn’t mean the mismatch should be ignored.
I think that’s how Lowi and I landed on the construct of recalibration. We have discussed consistently and regularly the unease, the desire for normalcy, the desire to be able to return to life as we once knew it. I think what has finally and fully dawned on most of us is that life before March 2020 will never be recaptured. As Taylor Swift so insightfully sings, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” By which I mean to relay, we will never be the people we were before. We will never return to the life we once knew. Our innocence about some truths can never be reinhabited. This is how human life works. Bells cannot unring and toothpaste cannot be tidily returned to its tube. This is not to say our next incarnation of life is bound to be horrific and miserable. It’s to say let’s stop looking back with nostalgia for something that has ended and instead begin to look upon the horizon with clear eyes and an open heart. This is a chance to begin again.
As with most things, I like to be sure we are having the same conversation. Let’s start with what recalibrate means and since there is the prefix “re” let’s get to the root of calibrate.
Many of you may take this moment to breathe deeply, sigh and say a special prayer for my husband John as he lives with me and these sort of wordy analytics on the daily.
Here we go, friends.
“Calibrate is to check or adjust by comparison with a standard while recalibrate is to calibrate for a second or subsequent time.”
What caught my attention is that we adjust “based on comparison with a standard.” Now I suppose if you are following a recipe or increasing the air pressure in a tire having a standard that is agreed upon matters but for the purposes of this discourse let’s free ourselves.
I am no longer interested in meeting collectively agreed-upon standards for my life. Already the calibration or calibrating again has begun. The American standard of “live to work and make money and sleep when you’re dead” rubric has taken its last bit of joy from my life. I resolve (the only resolution I am making this year) to surrender the idea that my worth is measured against guidelines that to date I have never seen make anyone happy. I have seen these rules make people miserable, ever-striving, and incapable of contentment but never at ease or at peace.
Do I value hard work? Yes, I do. Do I value work as a substitute for self-worth? No, I do not. Or more accurately, I should say I no longer do.
Here we are friends at the precipice of the rest of our lives. If we stay awake in our lives, we’ll realize we are always at the precipice. It doesn’t show up dramatically every day but the little, imperceptible, seemingly inconsequential choices we make all day, every day are constructing this life. We are always on the edge of something. We simply don’t know what.
You may fear I have lost my way in this meandering but have faith, my friend, we are going somewhere. In the last two years we have been pushed, nudge, squeezed, and/or jostled in a hundred different ways that again and again request our attention. Another way to look at it is to ask, is this working? Am I effectively responding? Does it make me feel good about myself? Is this the style in which I intend to live? And by style, I mean the presence, the awareness, the purpose I wish to bring to this human experience?
I get it, the mundane and minutiae of the day-to-day can be so over- and underwhelming that it doesn’t feel there is time to take this sort of inventory, and even if you have the time do you have the mental or emotional capacity?
If you have been dropping pins while reading this missive in hopes of Hansel and Gretel-ing your way out if need be, we’ve arrived.
I submit for your consideration that if you routinely do not have the bandwidth to ever consider your life in any fashion that, in fact, may be the cue that you need to. If your life is ever running at a pace that you cannot manage, I offer you to ponder who is at the steering wheel? I pose these questions without judgment. I have to ask myself these same questions, too.
This is how I know that calibration and recalibration are in order. In some aspects of my life, a first-ever calibration is in order, and in others, a recalibration based on my values. In case you don’t already sense it, this will bring disruption to your regularly scheduled programming. It will be uncomfortable but if you have continued to read this far in then you may recall, you already were and are. You too felt the pang, the twinge, the flinch of, this isn’t working.
My intention is to ease into this new year and stay curious. Asking myself as often as I can remember, why do I do (fill in the blank) this way? Is there a way that feels better to me? Does any of this bring me joy ever? This day is a snapshot of my life, is it one I’d like to frame?
Recalibrating a life is messy work but choosing to NOT recalibrate when it’s needed, I imagine, is equally mucky but with far less promise for relief. Hanging in there just because you can isn’t always the wisest decision. We value the ability to persevere in this culture and it has its merits. There is also tremendous worth in knowing when to cut the line and move on.
As we continue to see played out in both our personal lives and our collective lives, this isn’t working. Whatever you perceive “this” to be is irrelevant. It’s not working.
We must be willing to let go of what has ceased to serve us, maintain what genuinely is, and have the discernment and the courage to suss that out every single day.
Recalibrating a new year
As we enter a new year we, like many of you, are thinking about making changes. You have probably heard the slogan, “New Year, New You” or “Best Year Yet” or one I just heard, “Let us do better than the past…. Let us make the coming year the best year.” All of these are great one-liners, but that is all they are. This year, we need to move past slogans and actually do something. We aren’t talking about transformation which is typically sweeping, dramatic changes that fizzle out by February, we are talking about small, tiny movements toward a better everything. We are talking about Recalibration; changing the way you do or think about something. We are talking about making a course correction, modifying how we do things, and altering our daily activities until we make a difference in how we are living.
I always begin each year optimistic, motivated, and energized, but real-life change always seems to elude me. Sure, I have accomplished goals like losing weight, running races, and writing a book, but I always seem to land back in familiar territory each December.
I have given the idea of recalibrating a lot of thought as I find myself in an interesting position this new year. My employment as a full-time mom has been phased out. I like to say I have retired and I’m currently doing consulting work, which feels accurate given the daily phone calls from my offspring. Now, if I could just find a way to get paid for it. I have let my coaching business take a back burner for the last couple of years as people weren’t needing a lot of life coaching while they were sitting on their sofas watching Netflix.
So, here I am almost at the two-year mark of this alternate universe we have been living in, I have no kids at home, a non-existent business, no weddings or big events to plan, I’m less than happy with my health choices lately, and unsure of my next step. I know that I need to think about things differently and make some changes.
Maybe you can relate or maybe you have just one area in your life that could use a little tweaking; recalibrating. So, what does that even mean? Let me give you a real-life example.
Two of my girls have Type 1 Diabetes and once upon a time they had to “calibrate” their continuous glucose monitors so that over time it would give them more accurate blood sugar readings. Every few hours they would have to repeat the process of taking their blood sugar and entering it manually and little by little, recalibrate their numbers. It wasn’t easy. The technology was new and it was frustrating. More than once they wanted to give up and just go back to the old way of doing things, but if they kept with it eventually they would get their monitor to work at an optimal level. Isn’t that what we all want? To be functioning at an optimal level in all areas of our lives? Sound familiar?
For so many of us, going back to our old habits and way of doing things feels easier, but is it really? Is it easy to be in the same place this year as you were last January? Is it easier to weigh more because you want to continue eating things that aren’t healthy for you? Is it easier to feel unfulfilled because you were too scared to try something new? Is it easier to live a life that requires nothing from you in order to take zero chances that you might fail? Is it easier to not know who you are because trying to find yourself would take so many tiny recalibrations that you fear you would never get there?
We have to ask ourselves all the tough questions as we begin 2022. Do you want anything in your life to be different next January? If the answer is yes, now is the time to start charting a new course.