Sometimes it’s hard to keep perspective on what you have in life. You run in twenty-five directions every day, trying to remember simple things (like whether the kid is on the roof of the car in the car seat or actually strapped down). You feel excited if you can remember the easy things (permission slips, the bus pass, the lunch you packed last night, the reason you last gave for not donating to National Public Radio); and sometimes, you get a chance to think. But not often.
We’re in the home stretch of 2009, and it’s time for a bit of reflection. I’m not sure about you, but the days are flying by – frankly, according to my hairdresser, the years are, too. (As she woefully informed me last week, I’m FIFTY percent gray in the front of my head – and only 30% in the back. I feel like there should be a post-it on my head that says “but I’m ONLY 35!” But I digress.) As I screech to a halt to look back on ’09, I’m trying to figure out what’s worth celebrating – and maybe you are, too.
I don’t know about you, but if your economic and personal fortunes reflect the rest of America, this was a year when we all got back to basics. Some of us struggled. Some did amazingly well. And many are just putting one foot in front of the other, even still, just trying to keep a job, keep a smile, keep our focus on what matters – our health, our family, our friends. Maybe you worked in working out more. A lot of you started to run – and shared the joy/fun/what-the-hell-ishness of that with me…and for that, I say thanks…
So what did I have to be grateful for in 2009? A lot. This community – this great, wonderful group of runners and walkers, kept me energized and focused while I was looking for work in the past year. You rock, quite simply, in a way I could NEVER have anticipated – so thanks!
What else? Well, there were a few great moments. My fastest time at the Rock n’ Roll Arizona 1/2 marathon in January was most CERTAINLY not on the course- but on the highway, as the the speeding ticket attests…
In February, I got to help celebrate my friend Becki and Steve’s son Eddie’s first birthday. A year before, Becki was fighting off breast cancer and managing a newborn – and today, Eddie’s this crazy happy kid with two of the proudest parents I know. To top it off, Becki fed me and entertained me throughout the winter with fresh meals and fun – something I desperately needed while I was looking for work. So for that, I’m grateful 🙂
In May, I got to work with a super cool group of women who were training for their first 5k with the Weight Watchers Momentum Challenge. I had the opportunity because of my friend Jenny – but those ladies were the ones who schooled me, working in their workouts for 8 weeks to walk their first 5k. That feeling? Pretty good too.
In June, I started training for the Big One – the Chicago Triathlon. In what was truly one of the highlights of my year, there were sunrise bike rides and evening swims in Lake Michigan and training rides in the burbs. And DAMN was it the most fun I’d had in years! In July I had one of the best feeling (and worst photographed) races ever at Lifetime Fitness in Minneapolis…and followed it two weeks later with the other Most Rewarding Job In Sports, pacing the last pace group at the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon in Chicago.
And then I took a breather. I stood on the path on a Saturday morning, in the middle of a 6 mile run, and realized I couldn’t do it. My body was broke, and I needed to figure out why, and fix it. Actually, what I really remember was crying to my coach, who was completely startled, absolutely human, and helped me realize that whatever it was, it wasn’t the end of the world.
Of course, the whole time I was out of work, I don’t know that I ever got as upset as I did that day, because I always knew I would be fine (job-wise). But my body breaking – that’s something I couldn’t just fix on my own. And it was really, really hard to admit that I needed help.
Thankfully, I had a good doctor, and a good PT program, and I’m mending. I had back-to-back inspiring experiences in the Colorado Rockies, and witnessing my friend rock the North Face 50k in Madison, setting up a goal for me for next year. And I’ve also been lucky to be working a recovery program (though slow and steady, and sometimes lacking in motivation, I swear I’m going to build momentum on it…)
But what I’ve learned most this year might sound simple – and maybe, for all you parents out there, it’s what you do every day. But for me, it was an amazing thing to give when I really thought I had nothing to give. I had nothing but my time and energy to throw out to the universe from January through July, and I know, looking back, that engaging in even a small way – writing, pacing, making it to a group workout once a week – all of it made a difference. And by August, when I needed to take from the universe, just a little, the universe gave me what I needed – friends, and family, and a job that made a difference.
So as I look into the next year, that’s what I’m thinking about – how to give to the people around me, and the people I don’t even know – and how to take something back to complete a circle.
For those of you out there who give, and give, and give – I can only encourage you to open the door – just a bit – and see what the universe has to give you back. You might be surprised. And for those who take more than their fair share, and are finding life a little empty – look around. Seek those opportunities to give some of your talent and time to those around you. You might find that next year was even better than this one.
Thanks again for a wonderful year – I promise to be back in full force in 2010!!!