Friday, February 24, 2012

How Do I Know

When I'm on the elliptical at the gym, my mind tends to wander. Maybe you know the feeling. Anyway, I started thinking about the 5K race that I just asked a friend to register me for. (Please ignore the terrible grammar in that sentence). Three years ago I said that I wanted to finish treatment, get in good shape, and run a 5 K. Two out of the 3 have been completed, now it's time for the last item.

Still, as I was running, hamster-like, on the elliptical, I started to get a little nervous. I'm not a runner, and anyone who took high school gym class with me can testify to this. I was the person walking around the track after the first half mile because I didn't like to sweat. Most of my exercise now is on gym machines or zumba classes. Could I really run over 3 miles? In public?

Then my wandering mind flashed back over a year ago. Nate had started running, dropped 40 pounds, and gotten in much better shape. "Come on," he said, one Sunday afternoon. "Let's go to the park, and you can run a litle with me." Well, any time with my spouse and without the children along is a good thing, so I laced up my sneakers, and went along. I figured I'd run for a few minutes with him on the trail, and then hike the rest of the way, occasionally calling out encouragement. This is not exactly what happened.

We started up the trail, which included a hill right at the beginning. I was already sweating. Nate, an excellent and natural runner, was breathing easily. "This hill will be over soon. Come on, you can do it!" The hill was over soon, and we ran along the path for a few minutes. But what was ahead of us? Another hill! Larger! "I don't think I can do this one" I managed to gasp. "Just try. I'm right here beside you. " So, I gritted my teeth, and took the hill. Almost stopped running, but pride and curiosity (and Nate) kept me going.

And that's how it went for the rest of the run. I tripped over a root, fell flat, and kept going. We went up and down more hills, past the pond, past hikers who looked calm, cool, and relaxed. Every time I started to walk, Nate encouraged me. "You're doing great. Keep running. No walking here!" Muttering under my breath, when I could catch my breath, I kept going. I lost track of time, and distance. Surely we'd run several miles by now.

Finally, I could see the car up ahead. " I didn't think I'd make it" was all I could say. Nate grinned. "I knew you could. Do you know how far you ran today? 4 miles! Way to go!"
Four miles. I'd never run four miles in my life.

Basking in the endorphins, I smiled back. Wow. Me, the ultimate non-athlete, just ran four miles. I would never have tried this without him. My husband pushes me further than I think I can go, and while I may mutter under my breath sometimes, I'm grateful for the encouragement, and the sense of accomplishment.

Can I run a 5 K ? I'm still nervous but I know I can. Thanks to Nate, I know I can run three miles, because with him by my side, I once ran four.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mrs. Popularity

I have yet to meet anyone who says "You know, I really enjoyed high school. I felt comfortable in my skin, got good grades, and was a fairly popular person with a lot of friends." (If this describes you, please let me know. I want proof that such a person exists).

In my case, the grades were reasonably good, and I made some excellent friends, but I certainly never ran with the "popular" crowd. No one hung on my every word, or considered a party incomplete without me. Not that I'm resentful or scarred by this or anything. Certainly not.

However, it has belatedly occurred to me that I'm very popular with certain people: specifically, 3 small people under the age of 10. They constantly ask me to play games, go outside with them, and take them places. They seek me out while I'm brushing my hair, or my teeth, or attempting to finish getting dressed. They may not hang on my every word (or do everything I ask them to), but they bask in my approval, and even routinely tell me that I'm pretty. The irony is that now, in one sense more "popular" than I've ever been in my life, I often respond to my fawning followers with "For Pete's sake, can I get a moment's peace?" or "I'll play a game later," or "All right everyone, outside. Scoot! I had 3 of you so you could play games with each other, not me."

I'm not apologizing for this. Children need to learn to play independently. Still, I've resolved to try and be a little more thankful for the fact that my children, at this stage of life anyway, want to spend lots of time with me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go play "Go Fish."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perfect versus Good

It's taken me nearly 4 months to start this blog because I wanted it to be perfect.  Oh sure, I've had brilliant conversations with myself while ferrying our children around in the minivan, but would said brilliance hold up in the cold light of a blog?  And why add one more blog to the thousands that are out there?  Face it, there are plenty of reading, thinking, house decorating, crafty, witty moms out there, who write excellent blogs.  Do I need to add my two cents?

And yet ... for over 20 years I have thought of myself as a writer.  This is probably because several teachers told me that I had some talent for writing.  I certainly have no writing to show for it, and sadly, this is because of fear. Fear that it will not be perfect. . Fear that the image I have of myself is in fact wrong.  A comment one teacher made still echoes in my mind 20 years later.  "You have such talent, and you're so afraid to use it."  I don't know if she's right about the talent but I'm not starting another decade without making an attempt to find out.

I'm guessing I'm not the only person who finds that the perfect is so often the enemy of the good.  Last Sunday the sermon was about the parable of the talents.  The man who received one talent buried it in the earth, where it would be safe.  He was afraid to risk it, and lose what talent he had.  Meanwhile, those who received five and two talents invested them, and earned more.  When the master came back, he rebuked the man who had buried the talent, and instructed him to give his talent to the man who had five.  Because of his fear, he lost everything.

It's a hard story to read.  It doesn't seem fair.  After all, he didn't lose his talent in a bad investment.  He simply kept it safe.  What was so wrong with that?  The truth is, that when we try to hold onto the gifts or talents we have, for fear that we'll mess up or that we'll make a mistake, we lose the opportunity to use them to bless others, however imperfectly.  Sometimes we don't get it right.   It's okay.  The important thing is to try, to make the attempt, to live in hope, not in fear.

So that's what I'm attempting to do.  Even as I write this post I'm criticizing it - "How does it sound? Too self-absorbed?  Did anyone actually read to the end?"  Enough!  This is my life, and I'm going to write about the journey as I see it.  For a firstborn perfectionist, that's a start.