And although she was not known to me-a story owned by others, I found myself staring aimlessly at the floor. A floor strewn with dirty clothes and a families clutter, yet a floor so desperately insignificant.
The chill in the air iced my bare feet and darkened the room. It was quiet. With absolute deliberateness I grabbed a bean bag and a cup of hot tea and headed outside. I wanted to see the world in a different light. I wanted to shake my ponder-Why are some spared when others are drowning in tragedy?
There will never be an answer to that.
I threw the beanbag down on the tiles and collapsed into it. The warmth of the sun ran right through me. It was a comfort not felt for some time, as we are usually escaping the heat in the tropics. The sky was the bluest of blue. The birds were carrying on, and everything was perfect. So spectacularly perfect-and yet not so-you know?
The impossibility of righting the wrongs in this world can be overwhelming yet acceptance and gratitude help us navigate our way through.
Late this afternoon, I went for a run as part of my training for the 70.3 in June. You know, I probably wouldn’t have done it, if I didn’t have to. It was humid, and hot, and I was tired for the simple reason that I am always tired. I am becoming quite bored with this excuse, but a valid one it is.
As I was pounding the pavement, I found myself watching the people on the esplanade. Little kids kicking balls with their folks, people walking their dogs, and others simply lying on the grass taking in the serenity. A little mirror in my head brought attention to the fact that for a second or two, I was wishing I was one of them. One of those people who appeared to be completely happy to sit still, and smile as the world happened around them.
I could feel the sweat dripping from my arms and legs and running down my face. My breathing was controlled, and my pace was steady, but my mind was wandering. It was jumping into the lagoon pool with all the tourists, it was walking along the sand with my puppy-who was sitting at home so desperate to go with me- it was reading a book on the grass under a sleepy palm tree and it was parked with my mouth permanently perched over the bubbler, hydrating me with the best tasting water in the world. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be far away from the heat and the thirst and the sore feet and the tweaking knee and the Garmin.
Oh the Garmin.
Having a Garmin watch is like having a spy attached to your wrist. Those little numbers on its screen have a habit of telling you when you are too slow. I can hear them shouting at me like a school teacher.
“You are not trying hard enough today. You may as well go and lie on the grass and watch the pelicans in the mudflats”
But my feet keep moving…like they always have. I often wonder why I don’t just give up and turn the dial down a few notches.
Perhaps it’s because last weekend I ran 9km in 41 minutes, and I smiled when my Garmin delivered the good news. Perhaps its because when I swim, I no longer have back ache like I used to. Perhaps it is because after a training session I can stack the Cadbury drinking chocolate into a cup and fill it with cold milk and devour its contents without worrying about the consequences…
Or perhaps it’s actually because I like it.
Despite the moans and groans, I must actually like it. I like conquering the discomfort in order to be a little better than I was yesterday, even if I’ll never be as good as some. Even if I can’t compete with those around me. Even if sometimes I want to throw in the towel because no matter what I do, I am slower than those I admire.
The thought of giving up on finding the ‘best of me’, makes me feel as if I am on a downhill slope, as if the best of me has been and gone. So I must pound the pavement. Because the truth is, I never want to let go of growth.
The best of who I am lies in tomorrow’s challenges, because that is how it is for me. And as long as my heart desires new experiences, there will forever be a reason to put one foot in front of the other.
Both of these options come with benefits, and BOTH are considered regularly. If I was to withdraw from the Ironman event in June, it would by no means be a train smash. I mean so what? Nobody would care, it’d give me more rest, it’d enable me to have more time and I probably wouldn’t feel so smashed. Sounds like a viable, realistic plan to me.
On the flip side, persevering with training-although challenging, is catapulting me into new territory- and I like that. In fact, I don’t just like that, I need that. I’m 44 this year, and I’m fitter than I have ever been, and that is like blue skies and sunshine to me. It’s like medicine to my otherwise doubting self. Like sweets with strawberries and cream and sugar and all of those horrid things to my sometimes troubled mind which obsesses with aging and disease and loss.
To give up would be to continue with the routine. Not so bad I guess, but predictable. Getting up close and personal with the me I have known for 40 years is getting a little stale. I want to know the me that hasn’t been tested to this level. I want to see what else is inside of me. I want to grow and learn and endure and build resilience and make memories and tell a story untold and undiscovered. I want to go somewhere I have not been before. I want to veer off the track and get lost in the bush and navigate my way out.
I want to overcome the urge to fall back into my yesterday, and repaint the same old picture on the same old canvas. I want to fill the empty spaces in my future with fresh colours and new appreciations for what I am capable of as a 44 year old woman, who is no longer able to lean on the crutch of youth to get through life.
So getting real, is the plan for the next few months. Giving up, will have to wait.
Last week was my first full training week. 7 sessions. Three swim, two cycle and two run. This will have to do. There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to improve upon this, and THAT my friends, is that. With a pretty demanding working week, two teenage boys, a household that grows dishes and washing like the grass grows in far north queensland, and a few hobbies I throw myself into, I am ecstatic that I am able to achieve this at all…but it is hard.
I have found that finding the time isn’t the issue.
I have a workable training schedule that doesn’t interfere too much with my daily routine (except on weekends when the long cycles cut into the clock)-
– the issue is the flipping f word-fatigue.
As it is, I am practically falling asleep writing this, and I hate to admit it, but my manager had to wake me up at work last week when to my complete surprise and embarrassment, I was asleep bolt upright in front of the computer mid-morning. She touched me on the shoulder and I jumped, adding a Slur of words and a confused disposition. After this, the thought of giving up smashed its way into my mind like a bull in a china shop. Surely, I can’t continue this way.
But getting realinvolves pushing personal boundaries in order to realise ones limitations. What I learned that day, was that I needed to re-evaluate my training schedule, my sleep, my diet and my weekly routine in order to make my training requirements sustainable. Perhaps I needed a rest. Perhaps my body, clearly not used to this intensity of training, was simply in an adjustment phase. Perhaps I didn’t need to change anything at all, and it would come right with patience.
So far this week, training hasn’t really gone to plan. Through necessity, I’ve pulled back on the intensity in order to curb the fatigue. My swim this morning was more of a float and a leisurely stroll up the verticle black line than a decent training session. But I turned up, and I did the distance. I missed a run session this afternoon in favour of sleep, and this weekends cycling is in doubt as the family head south for a weekend swim meet in support of our eldest sons quest to prepare for Age Nationals in April.
My excuse, is that it’s so wet outside I wouldn’t be cycling anyway!
Am I giving up?
Nope, I’m pacing myself-or at least that’s the story in my head.
One thing is for sure, the journey so far has been unpredictable, inconsistent and rocky. I have questioned my motives and my ability many, many times. But it’s new, and it’s interesting, and difficult and frustrating and exhausting and exhilarating…and it’s my choice. It’s my choice to live outside the line for a few months, to learn about discipline and dedication and hard work.
I do not know how this story will end, but I’m living it with my eyes wide open baby, and that’s what it’s all about.
For as long as I can remember, you’ve been my best friend.
You’re the only one that I always like.
When I’m angry or sad, you appear from nowhere, plonking yourself next to me with a sigh. You talk to me, telling me where your secret hiding places are, and where you buried your bone last week. You tell me all about the awesome stinky frog you found on your walk with Dad, and you tell me all about the great new friend you’ve made-“Archie”, but how he’s sometimes a bit annoying because he keeps steeling your ball.
You make me feel better. You understand me, and what it is I need.
We’re buddies, you and me.
You let me wet your head with my tears, and you help me hide the crumbs when I pinch another biscuit, but don’t tell mum, because she doesn’t know-It’s our secret.
You know all my secrets, and you never tell.
You don’t mind if I leave my yoghurt container on the floor every single morning. I get in trouble by the way, but it’s ok I’ll do it for you because I know how much you like to lick it clean. I know, because I can read your mind.
I know that you are sad when you are left by yourself in an empty house. I know you love to sleep in mum and dad’s bed when you are cold, I know that you secretly hate dog food and would prefer lasagne every night, but you’re grateful you get something, so you don’t complain-but I can tell.
I know that at the end of the day, when all the humans in the world bug me, you are the only one that knows.
When night fills the sky though, it’s arms stretch out like a tree doing Pilates in the grandest of fashions and they reach into the blue for as far and as long as they can possibly go.
Passers by turn their heads and stare, as if waiting for the show to begin. Their eyes widen and remain fixed on this Graceful living, breathing botanical beauty that is art.
This tree is as much a part of this scene as a cold hand seeking the warmth of a perfect fitting glove.
Harmonious, peaceful, proud and content in its skin-it’s a perfect fit.
Yet in the daylight, it goes unnoticed. It blends, preferring to remain anonymous.
I asked a man the other day what he thought of ‘the tree’.
And he said this:
“Which tree? Oh, yes. You mean the one with a body full of the largest green leaves I’ve ever seen. The one with all it’s branches, hidden behind it’s leafy coat. I know the one. I love the way the sunlight brings it alive. It’s rays reflecting off its leafy surfaces like a heavenly glow. I’ve never much noticed it a night though. At night, it is simply a tree to me”
Why have I not been writing? Good question. I have been wondering that myself for some time, and I’ve come up with nothing solid. No simple lightbulb moment that’s hit me in the head and said “oh that’s why”.
Writing is like breathing to me. Essentially, mandatory stuff to keep me alive and well. However, for some reason, the urge I once had to express myself was replaced with a preference for silence. A silence within me that smothered the words and the stories and the desire to share.
Was I sick of the sound of my own voice and inflicting my repetitive personal thoughts onto all of you?
Was I concerned about judgement, disapproval, or the misinterpretation of my message?
Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above with a bit of fear and a bit of “what is really the point?” thrown in.
Those who know me have born the brunt of my writing inactivity with a bombardment of new hobbies, adopted by my restless self to fill the creative gap. However like a dog begging to be taken for a walk, the words in my head would tug at my fingertips in desperation.
The fear of exposing my personal thoughts to the world was repeatedly superimposed on me by more than one source.
“Don’t air your dirty laundry in public”
“What is wrong with you?”
However that fact that I listened, is what stopped me writing in the first place. Ironic? Terribly. However as soon as I began hesitating before putting pen to paper, and as soon as I ceased being myself as a result of others opinions, judgements or expectations, I realised I needed to re-examine my sense of self and my reason for writing in the first place.
It is all over, when you change yourself to suit others-bottom line. FORGET IT! It just doesn’t work and pretending, is incompatible with happiness.
All that is uniquely YOU is lost. All that is SPECIAL is buried deep underneath sensitivities and self doubt and all of that ridiculous rot that has absolutely no place in the real, honest, raw world. The world that adores us for who we truly are. A world that pains for less plastic and more of the real deal.
What is writing anyway? It is simply connection.
Sometimes words connect, and sometimes they don’t…
What I have learned, is that when they do, it’s not only magical, it’s important. Connection is what keeps us alive. It’s what helps us feel understood, and validated and loved and valued. Cliché cliché cliché , bla bla bla…but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I ever, ever, forget that again.
For any part of you that you willingly share, be it only a part, will resonate with those that it is designed to reach, and that is all that matters…
So why did I stop writing?
…because I lost sight of what was important to me.
Are you unsettled?
Re-align your vision, listen to your own voice and allow yourself to re-discover who you are, what you need, who you want to be with, and what is truly important;