Running with my thoughts. Again.

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This blog was originally designed to reflect the many ideas and thoughts that came to me while running.

I started running because I had been afraid of doing so since I was a little girl. Running was something I thought I was incapable of doing, but somehow I decided to try it anyways. I started with a couch to 5k program.  I  was more than capable of running. I was doing something I thought I could not do, and I saw myself transformed in more ways than one. Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran. But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

Running became a coping mechanism for me. It was one of the few times in my day where I said nice things to myself. Eventually, it became a time to practice self-care and to generate solutions to problems I was thinking about.  From personal problems like relationship issues, ideas for school assignments, solving or helping with social justice and human rights issues, to tackling the purpose of my life, I pondered it all while I ran.

But then it all came to an abrupt halt. I had to stop running when I injured my back in Crossfit shortly after running in my first half-marathon in August of 2015. I was in physical therapy from October 2015 to June of 2016. Sometimes I could not even stand up straight or walk without immense pain and stiffness.

 

During this time period, I graduated college with a Bachelor of Science degree after nearly ten years of working towards that goal. I got accepted into my dream graduate school program, in which I now study Humane Education. I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that affects my thyroid. It seems to deplete me of energy, motivation, and I now eat a gluten free (in addition to vegan) diet because of it, which let’s be honest, sucks the joy out of eating sometimes. Without running, which had become the way I processed my emotions, thoughts, and achievements in life, none of these milestones seemed to matter to me.

At some point, I was so frustrated with the lack of running in my life, that I decided to convert this blog to be more general and not focused on my thoughts while running like it had before. I deleted all the posts I had written as a response to my runs. Because I couldn’t run. At first, I enjoyed the new writing that I was doing. It felt like it was helping me process just to write. Then I stopped that too.

I started feeling a little better this Summer with my pain and could run a very small amount. Unfortunately, I had to focus on my body so much that I was not able to focus on my mind at the same time. It was frustrating.

I was starting to realize I had no way to really channel my emotions and thoughts anymore. I felt bottled up.

And then my grandmother died on September 14, 2016.

Earlier, in the Spring when she wasn’t doing so well, I visited her and spent some time with her coloring and talking to her. I told her I loved her even though for some reason I was afraid to say it. She said it back. Then in the Summer she got even worse. It wasn’t a good situation. I was afraid to see her again because I knew that if I did, it would change how I felt about her. I wanted to have a positive memory of her as my goodbye. And then, in September, she suddenly changed again. She was a person who was afraid of a lot of things in life. But suddenly she wasn’t afraid anymore. She wasn’t trying to fight anymore. She was more at peace. We were told she was going to die soon.

Somehow I found myself there, despite my own fears of facing death, by her side, watching her life come to its end, and I did not want to leave.

I realized while I was there, how much my grandmother and I are alike. It is scary to liken myself to her because she had such a hard life. She tragically lost three of her children. She went through a divorce from her mentally unstable husband. And she dealt with this pain in unhealthy ways sometimes that negatively affected our family. Yet she died with an unmistakable sense of peace. Though she had many fears, she never gave up because of them. She persisted. I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to experience all the pain she endured. But I can imagine that I can keep going through my own fears like she did.

One of the things my mother kept saying to the hospice staff was that my grandmother had told my mom one of her biggest fears was that she would die alone. My mom was going to great lengths to ensure that wouldn’t happen. The hospice nurse seemed to doubt my grandmother was really afraid of dying alone. She told us that people will die the way they want to. She said if a person doesn’t want someone to be there when they die, they will wait until they go to the bathroom, and then die. We were only able to stay with my grandmother during the day time. She died at 2am when we were not there. She conquered the fear of being alone in death. I am so proud of her for that.

I need to be proud of myself for facing my own fears. I have done all kinds of things I’m afraid of. In fact, I am starting to think everything meaningful I have done in my life so far, I have been afraid of.

Here is a small sampling:

I kept living even when I didn’t want to.

I sang in public in a band that had formed three days prior.

I spoke publicly about my struggles in life.

I graduated college.

I drove nearly 6 hours, by myself (I hate driving), to my graduate school residency in Maine. I even swam far out into the ocean while there, even though I tell myself I am afraid of swimming in open water.

I taught myself to run. And even though it’s a pain to start over from scratch again, I’m doing it.

The past few months have been really hard on me. I haven’t been able to tell people how I really feel. I’m afraid that if I start talking about the pain I’m in I won’t be able to stop, and it will be unfair to them. I’ve been wondering about the lessons I should be learning from my grandmother’s passing a lot. I feel like I am unable to move forward, weighed down by despair. I feel like a failure for not picking up where I left off before she died. But my life seems different now.

For the past 4 weeks or so, I’ve been forcing myself to go out and do another couch to 5k program. I’m smack dab in the middle of the program, and it really sucks physically. Today I was afraid that I could not do the whole workout as described.

But all of a sudden the British voice recording that is on the app told me I was ready to cool down. I had not given up on the entire workout. I did it. And not only had I not given up on the physical aspect of the run, but I ended my workout with this blog entry in my head.

 

 

 

 

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NaPoWriMo Day 26: Exploiting Water Haiku

Exploiting Water

Water is taken

In severe drought conditions

By corporations

I wasn’t sure if this poem would remain a haiku at first. I kept adding to it but then I thought I was over explaining the issue, or it just wasn’t that poetic. I had a hard time articulating the issue. But I think it is messed up that bottled water companies are taking water from communities that need to limit their tap water usage while they make a huge profit over bottling and using what little water is left for their products. We need to be okay with drinking more tap water and stop buying bottled water. The tap water is more regulated, more regularly tested, and more protected than bottled water, believe it or not. And bottled water comes from the same source as the tap most of the time! And then put into plastic containers that leech harmful chemicals when they sit too long. Don’t believe the hype that the bottled water companies try to sell you. If your local water source has problems or doesn’t taste good, it is worth fighting to improve. If we all switch to having to buy our water, or drinking more liquids that aren’t water (like soda, juice, etc), we will pay a big price for it (health wise, financially, etc). 

NaPoWriMo Day 21: Change

As I said yesterday, I have been thinking about the transformative nature of collective change in terms of the environment and any other social justice movement. Well, today on the blog for my graduate program, the founder of the program, Zoe Weil made an excellent post about this very topic. Check it out here

I wrote a poem in response to the blog and also the Ted Talk posted in the blog (which you can see here).

Change

Unconscious behaviors

Compounded collectively

Create an unaware population

That becomes apathetic

The individual

Is unable to see

Their smaller role

In a big problem

Take responsibility for your choices

Live with integrity

Model your values

And embrace goodness

It may be difficult

To change bad habits

But it is worthy

Of our effort

Conscious behaviors

Compounded collectively

Create an aware population

That changes for the better

NaPoWriMo Day 20: Your Attitude

I’m stuck trying to write a poem about how being a mentor for someone to change their habits, actions, or ideas that effect the earth, their health, or another area of social justice can have a ripple effect. I can’t seem to come up with the right words and it keeps morphing into a different kind of poem. Here’s what I have today after pondering the subject. It’s not the message I originally set out to send.

Your Attitude

Your positive

Non judgmental

Meet-you-where you’re at

Attitude

Can be more effective

Than a negative

Guilt-driven

Overwhelming

One

The way you react

And treat another

When they are

“Not there yet”

Can make

An impact

On their ability

To make new choices

To help the planet