The Courage to Start Over Again

I find myself “back at square one” when it comes to my fitness goals. After a year of limited ability to exercise, followed by surgery, followed by recovery, I find myself with the ok to exercise from my doctor and no motivation to do so. I did go out one day and I ran three miles. I felt as if it were a half-marathon and that I was under-prepared. I was sore for four days afterward. Apparently I’m not ready for that and need to start slower.

Dejected and unmotivated, I decided to re-read my blog to see how I was able to get started the last time. Not only did I find my initial posts motivational, I found that I have left a record that, if not beneficial to anyone else, is a goldmine for me.  I struggled just as much back then just to get started walking on my treadmill. The difference is that I know just how far I got from that humble start. I need to do it again, and I need to find the courage to do it. I think I just did.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that I already did this and shouldn’t have to do it again (the “poor me” trap), or the trap of thinking that I am just not the fitness “type”, or the trap that it just doesn’t matter. I do have to do it all again, but hopefully this time I will learn from past lessons and not get discouraged or take too many false steps.

I am the fitness type, because I’ve been fit and I loved it. I learned this late in life, not having been much of an athlete as a child. I learned that strength training makes me more stable…more graceful (I was never a graceful child). Running, eventually, makes me feel healthy and energized…at least the shorter runs do. The longer runs make me feel powerful in a whole different way…conquering my fears and proving to myself that I can do it.

It does matter. Being fit and healthy is a gift that only I can give myself and one that will extend my life and enhance my quality of life as I get older. It matters because it makes me better at all I do, provides me with endurance, energy, and perspective. It gives me confidence. I was getting used to the words, “I am a long-distance runner”, now I’ve removed all my “13.1” magnets from my car because they made me feel like a fraud. I earned them with blood (not much), sweat (a whole lot), and a few tears.

It won’t be easy, but what worthwhile goal ever is? I have new commitments that will make it harder for me to find time for fitness, but I’m used to scheduling challenges. I have my own, personal record of how to get to my goals, and I will…

Find the Joy in the Journey!

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Every Day I Write Is A Good Day

I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal stress lately and reading, writing, and running have taken a back seat to simple survival. I’ve noticed that I lose equilibrium when I skip any of these things, so I will examine each individually, starting with writing.

I’ve found it difficult lately to keep up with my every-other-day blog-posting schedule. I have, for the first time in the three years that I’ve been blogging, missed a few. I’ve become creative with writing posts after-the-fact then pre-dating them (guilty for this post). I find myself doing lots of writing in an evening to catch up with a lot of days of not writing.

This blog has become a lot of things to me over the years (yes, years!) and some of them were not things I anticipated. For one thing, I now see it as a legacy for my children, and maybe even my grandchildren. Not that my children usually read it, but it is here for them. I never anticipated it as a way to connect with my parents, but it has done that for me too. My dad is my biggest fan and my mom enjoys the pieces I write about my childhood…seeing how differently I see things in memory than how she remembers them.

Writing can be cathartic…although the things I most need catharsis on are not things I post publicly. So, this blog is opening up more of me than I imagined to public scrutiny, but still the really painful things are held back. More importantly, this blog has been self revelatory. I often say I have a poor memory, especially of my childhood, but I’ve been able to remember things long forgotten (and still forgotten by everyone else involved…hmmm…).

It has inspired me to try new things and re-try old things. I read more than I have since my twenties and I certainly write more than I ever have. Even my running is linked to the blog. It has given me much fodder for posts and made me feel accountable to finish what I set out to do. I’ve not been as successful with other goals, but running is one which I will keep coming back to.

Although I’ve gotten behind on the blog, I still have ambitions to finish my novel and the two follow-on books that are incubating in my brain. I’ve thought about going to a writers’ conference and I’ve got one in mind. I just need to work out the logistics and apply. I have learned about myself that I can make myself accountable by putting my money where my mouth is, usually in the form of a race entry fee, and having a concrete, step-by-step plan (usually created by someone else).

I recently wrote about happiness, and one thing that makes people happy is planning a vacation. I can plan a trip to a writers’ conference and accomplish two things at once…moving closer to a lifetime goal, and getting happy in the process.

Embrace what makes you happy and helps you keep your equilibrium so that you can…

Find the Joy in the Journey!

Related Posts:

Every Day I Run Is A Good Day

Every Day I Read Is A Good Day

Reflections On One Year Of Blogging

One year ago today, I sat in a hotel room with my laptop and read and re-read my very first blog post and with great trepidation I hit the “publish” button on Wake Up Call. Today, when I hit the “publish” button on this post, I will have written 184 posts. I posted every other day for an entire year even though my original intent was to publish only 2 times a week. When I look back on it I am amazed at all I’ve done.

I set out to re-shape my life before I hit the big Five-Oh. My intent wasn’t to re-create myself, but to figure out who I am and to make it all come together in a cohesive way. Raising kids has been a fairly all-consuming thing and I had found that I didn’t really know who I was or what I was all about anymore.

I set out to do fifty things by the time I’m fifty. That is still the rough framework for what I’m doing, but it is not the goal. I still have a year and a half to go and thank goodness! The first year has been one of learning, making mistakes, and finding successes.

Let’s just get right in front of the mistakes…I have not lost any weight on my journey even though I would consciously give up all other gains to have achieved my weight loss goal. To me, this is a major issue…my current and future health is at stake here and this is a place where I can personally affect my future health. Ok. Job not done…needs more work.

Another major area of my life where I want to grow is in my writing…I’m doing well here. In writing this blog and attempting a series of novels, I’m walking the talk. My writing is not consistently good, but I know that the practice is important. In the past I’ve taken writers’ courses and tried to fly under the radar as I’ve soaked up the information and taken furtive notes…but inevitably I’d be asked, “what have you written” and the answer was always nothing. The advice I got was always the same, write and write often. Well, I’m finally doing just that.

Something that has been a bit surprising is all the memories I’ve managed to unearth. I think of my childhood as a hazy place, but I’ve found myself remembering things that I’d long forgotten. I’ve also found that I remember things differently than some of my family members and often I’ve had to readjust my personal memory timeline accordingly. Listening to music and reading books from my younger days have brought back memories. So have reading other people’s blogs and being inspired to write a post of my own based on the suddenly unearthed new memories.

I have reaffirmed my belief that I have too much stuff…if I lived in a much smaller place, I’d definitely be considered a hoarder! As it is, I don’t buy stuff just to buy it, but I also don’t get rid of things easily. This past year I’ve thrown away and given away tons of stuff and yet it only shows in two places, my linen closet and my mud room. Everywhere else seems to just re-fill with more junk. I have a huge attic and an equally huge basement full of old stuff…and I’ve hardly touched any of that. I definitely have my work cut out for me if I intend to completely de-clutter in the next year and a half!

So, as I turn 48 and a half, I am ready to reflect and re-align…I’m reading more, writing more, listening to more music. I also find it hard sometimes to “get” to my fifty-by-fifty because my current life is all-consuming. I work full-time, I’m raising three kids, and I’m still struggling to figure out the “commuter” marriage after four years (out of 26 years of marriage). This is my life, this is my journey.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and be sure to pick your head up and make adjustments along the way.

And I Called Myself A Writer

When I started this blog, I thought I would publish twice a week and I was worried that I wouldn’t have the ideas or the time to keep it up. As I sit here writing my 50th (really!) post, I am amazed that the ideas keep flowing and I truly enjoy the writing. Of all my 50 by 50 things, this is the best. My essays may not be the best written pieces, but that’s okay. I’m finally practicing my craft!

I’ve been to a number of writer’s conferences and classes over the years, and my lack of actual work to share or even reference was more than a little bit embarrassing. I would go to my selected lectures and take notes as real writers freely divulged their secrets. I still remember some of the advice, particularly on plotting, that will help me when I finally write my “great American novel”! But during breaks and at lunch, I’d sit with strangers and the inevitable break-the-ice question was, “what do you write?” I was mortified to have no answer, just a lame response about how I always wanted to be a writer.

At least now, I can point to 50 essays (well, most of them are essays) of approximately 750 words apiece. That’s halfway to a novel right there! Now, I will tell you that I spend my time on these essays…most of them are crafted to the best of my ability, but writing a novel involves a lot more than that and I recognize that fact. Essays don’t really have a plot…they don’t really have much character development either. So, I know my novel writing will take lots of work and lots of self-editing…then a lot of painful rejections!

I did start a novel last November during National Novel Writing Month, more affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. I plan to pick that back up again this November and see if I can’t get it done. I have read about other people who have written a novel during NaNoWriMo and checked it off of their bucket list while at the same time describing it as garbage. Well, I’m sure mine will be garbage too, but I won’t be checking anything off of my list when I get there. No, I don’t look at that as the actual piece of art but rather as the stage of gathering the clay for the potter’s wheel. It’s what I’ll do with it afterward that will either make it a work of art or relegate it to the recycling bin.

Meanwhile, I enjoy writing this blog. I’ve learned a few things along the way too. Some of my most “popular” posts were written quickly, but with lots of emotion such as Letting Go—As My First Child Goes Off To College. Some appeal to a broader circle than the 10 or 15 friends who read my blog. These include my Things I Learned From My Dogs—Part I: Lucy, Part II—Bailey, and Part III—Asta. These have actually brought one or two new readers to me, although it seems that they only read one or two of these essays and deserted me. But oddly, the greatest draw to my blogs from the general public is to a picture I posted in my essay It’s Not About The Stuff of a Panasonic Dynamite 8-Track Tape Player that may still be lurking in my attic! Such is the meaninglessness of the WordPress statistics; but I still check them with slavish devotion just in case I find that my work has been “discovered”!

I’ve done some research on blog-writing and find I agree with some of the advice and reject some too. Do not write for the sake of writing…Check. Stick to a theme…Check. Write on a specific, narrow topic…Oops! That would be a “No”.  Oh wait, caveat, unless it’s a lifestyle blog…Phew! Check. On the other hand, I plan to end the blog when I turn 50 and start a new one. I may start a professional blog in the meantime, but that’s pretty fuzzy right now. The important thing for me is that I have crossed my own Rubicon and there’s no going back…whether I have readers or not, to myself I am finally a writer!

Find the Joy in the Journey and write your own destiny!