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Thirty Six Seconds

I’ve been running a lot lately. It’s been good for me for a lot of reasons. I had originally planned to run a full marathon again this fall, but there just wasn’t room for that in my life this year, for a whole lot reasons. After this was put on the back burner, though, I found myself a little lost. That’s when I made the decision to start trying to improve my speed, as I’m not nearly as fast as I would like to be.

So this past week I’ve started cutting my distance back a bit, in favour of concentrating more on speed. I won’t lie, it’s been tough, since I’ve come to rather enjoy my slow-and-steady paced morning runs. And let’s face it — pushing oneself physically like that has a tendency to kind of suck. However, I’ve been able to push through those “this sucks” feelings to focus on my goal. I’ll never be speedy, I’m just not physically built for fast running…but I want to be able to say that I’m “fast for me”. I have a certain time goal in mind that I would like to work my way up to hitting pretty consistently. If I can do that, I will be pleased with my progress and feel like I’m getting somewhere.

This morning I headed out for my usual morning run. I could tell in the first kilometer that I was feeling good (thanks to a deep-tissue massage earlier this week) and so I decided to push myself to see if I could hit that goal of mine. I run with a running program on my phone, which gives me an update every kilometer, so I can know how well (or not well) I’m doing.

And so…I pushed myself. I kept that goal planted firmly in my brain. Every time I thought about slowing down, I pictured that particular number in my head. I knew if I could just hit it, then I would be happy with my progress for this particular run.

As I was coming up on my “finish line”, I heard the smug female voice of my app inform me of my time. I missed my goal. By thirty-six seconds.

I’m pretty sure that I swore right out loud when I heard that. So close…and yet so far. I won’t lie…I was pretty disappointed in myself. I wanted to hit that particular goal. Badly. Anything less felt like a complete failure.

As I continued on with my run, however, I thought more about this. The time that I reached, though slower than I ideally wanted, was still pretty damned good. Especially for a “slow” runner like me. I have definitely made progress from where I was just a few short months ago, which I can see from my increasing speeds.

And then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. A voice that asked me what I would say to one of my girls if they encountered the same thing. And what would I say? I would tell them that progress is progress…and that it should be celebrated. That goals are nice to have, but they shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all to something like this. That when it comes to running, the joy is in the experience, and that I shouldn’t discount an otherwise great morning run because of a measly 36 seconds.

Sure, goals are great to have, but what happens when we don’t quite meet them? We have to celebrate the process. We have to enjoy the moments leading up to that finish line. And I’m not just talking about running here, either. In life, if we boiled everything down to either goal achieved = success or goal achieved = failure, then life would be pretty miserable indeed.

I still plan on keeping my eye on that goal. But you know what? Until I get there, I’m going to enjoy the journey. It’s what life is all about.

I refuse to allow my joy to be swept away by thirty six seconds.

The Spaces Between

When I used to think about marriage I often thought about the big moments in life in a shared life together. The happy moments — raising children, buying a home, family vacations, anniversary milestones. I also thought about the less-than-happy moments — dealing with loss or tragedy, struggling with finances, managing any number of big life disappointments. I figured that it was the big happy moments that got couples through those big less-than-happy moments.

Though CBG and I have only been married a little over a year now, I am realizing that a marriage is so much more about all those little spaces in between those big events. Those are the things that get two people through the big, bad, ugly moments of life. Tiny little moments that, for the most part, aren’t often even given a second thought. The flicker of forgiveness in your partner’s eyes after a misunderstanding. Stolen kisses in the middle of the night. Laughing until your sides ache at mutual silliness. Hearing the slow, steady pace of your partner’s breathing in the dark. Silently offering the last cookie. Giving a hug after a rotten day.

It is these small, seemingly insignificant moments that are the glue that holds a marriage together. They cement those big moments, giving them context and meaning. Sure, we may remember the big moments first, or even the most, but it is the wordless glances of understanding, the scent of your partner on the pillow in the morning, or the random reach for your hand in the park that allow those big moments to happen at all.

Without those tiny shared moments, the big moments mean nothing at all. And when you have a marriage rich with those miniscule twinkling demonstrations of love, commitment, respect, passion and friendship, you know that you don’t really need to ask for anything more.

And then some other days….

So Tuesday was kind of a rotten day.

I’ll spare you all the details, but basically we got a piece of news that threw me into a bit of a tailspin. This news left me feeling defeated, like the air had been let out of me. I’m sure you know the feeling. Kind of like a punch in the gut that leaves you feeling absolutely exhausted.

I do my best to be a positive person. But I’ll be honest — it’s something I have to work at. I’m just not one of those people that positivity comes to naturally. I’ve made a lot of progress in this area in the last several years of my life, but every once in a while something comes along that drags me down again.

And Tuesday happened to be one of those days. I allowed one single thing to drag me down to the point where I just felt like giving up. It felt like everything I’ve been working for in the last few years had just been for nothing. A little voice in the back of my head told me that there really wasn’t any point to any of it, that I needed to give up on unrealistically wanting more and just resign myself to a ‘less-than’ existence.

Oh, it was ugly, alright.

I won’t tell you that CBG talked me down off the negativity ledge, because he didn’t. When I get in that particular head space there’s not really any talking me out of it. In fact, I become like a drowning person who frantically grabs onto the person closest to me and drags THEM down with me, too.

No, instead of trying to buoy me up with positivity, he simply got out of my way. He let me know that I was allowed to feel what I was feeling, but that I needed to go feel it someplace else, and not pull him down with me.

It was exactly what I needed.

A nice run the next morning gave me the opportunity to sort through everything in my head. It gave me the chance to work through what I was feeling, and more importantly, why I was feeling it. I realized that I’d been resting a great deal of my immediate happiness on a very thin wire. And then that particular wire snapped, leaving me feeling utterly defeated.

Once I was able to step outside of myself and work through it, I realized how silly I had been the day before. Sure, we suffered a bit of a setback, but it absolutely wasn’t the end of the world. And sure, I could be unhappy about this setback, but a) that unhappiness wasn’t going to make anything better, and b) I have plenty more things to base my happiness on.

I returned from my run feeling light, determined, and energized. I had a whole new outlook and found myself determined to tackle this obstacle head on…to do what needed to be done so we could just keep on keeping on. The best part of all is that I don’t have to do any of this alone. I have my very own partner in crime, who knows when to step back so I can have the time and space to re-adjust my crappy attitude and get back to living.

Look out world, here we come.

Some Days….

Some days you just wake up not feeling it. Today is one of those days for me.

I’ve been working very hard lately to remain positive in the face of negativity from outside sources, to put on a smile, count my blessings and push through. Not sure how possible that’s going to be today. It might be one of those days when “getting through” is going to have to be enough.

Some days it’s a whole lot more tiring than others. These are the days when I double up on the coffee, cross my fingers, and hope for the best.

Some days I need to lean on others a little more than usual. Those are the days when I have the toughest time doing it.

Some days, happiness is a little more elusive than others. Today is one of them.

This Amazing Life

I’ve said before that the most terrifying thing about life is also the most wonderful: the unpredictability of it all.

Five years ago CBG and I had just had our very first date. I knew from the start that he was an amazing guy…the kind of guy I’d always dreamed of meeting for so many reasons. And although I knew immediately that meeting him was going to change my life in some way, I had absolutely no idea how — or how much.

Five years ago my life veered off in a direction that led me down the path to where I am today. When I started down that particular path, I had no idea that this is where I would end up. I couldn’t have predicted this life that I’m now living; a life that is happier than any scenario I likely could have dreamed up for myself.

I know that life isn’t perfect. No one’s is. We all have our own struggles and challenges and obstacles. Happiness isn’t about creating (or finding) a life that is free of these things. It’s about making a daily choice to see past them to the good stuff that is underneath. It’s about choosing to use these challenges and struggles we’re all given to grow and learn and do better next time. It’s about knowing  — feeling it in your bones — that even with all the garbage that’s there, life is still pretty damn good.

It’s also about feeling immense gratitude for all the gifts that you have been given. The gifts that maybe don’t seem like gifts right now. Because honestly, we don’t know what life has in store for us. Maybe that huge obstacle that is right in front of you is going to veer you off into a much better direction — a direction that you otherwise would never have chosen for yourself. Instead of hating that obstacle, try instead to simply appreciate it for what it is, and have a little faith that ultimately, everything will work out okay.

Life is amazing, friends. Stop for a minute…wherever you are, whatever is going on with you right now, and just enjoy it.


Kicking Negativity’s Ass

I try really hard to be a positive person. Admittedly, I’m not successful at this 100% of the time. I do fall into blue funks now and then, or struggle with only seeing the shitty things in life sometimes.

[Hey —  I’m awesome, not perfect.]

I find myself particularly struggling when I am around other negative people. I am sensitive to the moods of other people….so when someone that I’m close to is having a bad day, it often brings me down. The good news is that this works the other way, too — when I’m around happy and positive people, it makes me feel happy and positive too.

It can be tough to pull myself up out of a negative space when there’s negativity around me. It just is. I’ve realized lately that I’ve allowed myself to be pulled down by individuals and events around me. Not that I’ve been down in the dumps or anything, just that I’ve been a lot more negative and cynical than I normally am –or that I want to be. Now, I understand that life isn’t always rosy. Shitty things happen  in life from time to time. Nothing is perfect in life. Shitty events and people wear us down. It’s part of life.

But once we allow ourselves to get dragged down, then suddenly we’re seeing everything through murky, shit-coloured glasses. All the less-than-perfect parts of life are glaringly obvious all.the.time. The good stuff pales in comparison. It’s hard to feel happy and excited by life when everything is viewed through a cynic’s critical, suspicious eye.

That outlook might be okay for some people, but it’s not okay for me. I would rather go through life with wild, blind optimism than with shit-coloured glasses. The optimist is less suspicious of others and is more willing to show some compassion and cut people a little slack. The optimist sees that while A,B and C aren’t great right now, X,Y and Z absolutely are. The optimist rolls with the punches, sees the rainbow that comes at the end of the rainstorm. The optimist smiles, knowing that it will pay off, one way or the other.

Now, I don’t know if I believe that better things necessarily happy to people with a positive attitude. Maybe this is true, maybe this isn’t. What I do know is that in general, people like positive people. They are attracted to them. They want to spend time with them, and do nice things FOR them. I know that positive people are better able to let the garbage of life slide off their backs because when you’re feeling happy and upbeat, the crappy stuff just doesn’t seem nearly as crappy. Much like a negative attitude, positivity is contagious. So in my books, positivity works. Life absolutely gets better when you work to maintain a positive attitude.

I’ve been wearing those shit-coloured glasses for a while now, and it’s time to take them off and give myself another much needed attitude adjustment. Because the truth is, life is pretty damn good, even with the hardships and imperfections. And even better, there are some good things on the horizon for CBG and I as we head into another year together. And I don’t want to miss one single thing because I can’t see what’s right in front of me.

I’m planning on making a few changes to help push away the negativity in my life and allow the positivity to grow and multiply. I know the person that I am, underneath it all, and the person that I want to be. And you know what? Positivity is going to win this round.


Solo Sunday

This past weekend I got one of those rare opportunities to have a day to myself. CBG was off spending the weekend with Ankle Biter, and in the morning the girls went off with their dad to spend Father’s Day with him. So I was all on my own.

Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to having a day to myself for a few weeks now. I’m the kind of person who needs a certain amount of time to myself. Growing up, because of the big age gap in my family, I was basically like an only child. I grew up in a rural area and didn’t see my friends much outside of school. As I grew older I always valued having time just for me. It was something that I missed terribly when my girls were little and I was a stay at home mom.

For those four years that CBG and I were doing the long distance thing, the one benefit was that I got plenty of alone time. I had two nights every week when the girls were off with their dad that were all mine. Sure, sometimes I spent those nights moping around and feeling more than a bit sorry for myself, but for the most part I enjoyed having time to recharge my batteries.

Now with CBG living here, time like this to myself if hard to come by. To be clear: this is not a complaint in any way. As I’ve recently written about, I love having him here – so very much. But even with that, I still need a certain amount of “me time”, and lately, that’s been a little bit lacking.

So Sunday was a welcome day for me. After the girls went off with their dad I headed out for a nice long run. I had a quiet shower in peace, I ate lunch in front of the TV, glued to one of my guilty pleasures lately “Say Yes to the Dress”, before heading out into the sunshine for a nice walk around the neighbourhood.  I picked up some food for dinner before coming home and spending the rest of the time cooking and cleaning up a storm. By the time CBG rolled in the door at around 8:00 pm I was relaxed, smiling, and very much glad to get a huge hug.

Thanks to a little Sunday solo time, I started the week with a smile, feeling relaxed and refreshed, my stress levels lower than they’ve been in a while. It was a good reminder for me of how important time to myself really is, just to feel happy and balanced.

Note to self: Take more alone time. You’re a better person for it.


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