I Wanna Be An Athlete

I can’t honestly say that I was “born to run”, certainly not in the sense of the Bruce Springsteen song, however, that song does make my play list.  An athlete, I have never been, either.  I was the last one picked for the sports teams in gym class.  The only time sports shows were on TV when I was growing up, was for holidays at my Grandma’s house.  I don’t think watching Minnesota Fats play pool counts as a sport, and I’m embarrassed to say we watched that on Saturday nights.  Yes, it was a sheltered life, I know.  I’m lucky to know the difference between a foot ball and a hockey puck.  My husband can vouch for my lack of enthusiasm about sports, probably much to his disappointment.  I’ve tried to like it, I really have.  I’ve tried sitting to watch football with him.  It’s torture to me.  I just can’t go there.

There was one sport that I kind of liked in Jr. High and High School gym class.  It was track.  I could run and back then, I was even fast.  That’s about as far as it went though.  Once I wasn’t required to take a PE class anymore, no more sports for me.

So now we skip ahead, way ahead!  It’s been many years since those track days.  About as year and a half ago, my husband and I became more health conscious and started our own exercise programs.  We had a tread mill, so that fit into the routine, but only for a mile or so for me.  Little did I know, my husband was gradually building his distance though and had gotten it in his mind that he wanted to run a race.  I was surprised when he signed up to do Pat’s Run last year.  It’s a 4.2 mile race and he had never even run anywhere but on the treadmill.  A few days before the run, he ran outside for his first time and he loved it.  When he came home from his first race, he was so excited and that’s all he could talk about.  He was hooked on running.  I knew that if there was a sport that I could enjoy with him, this would be it.  I also knew, if I didn’t jump in right away, I would never be able to catch up to his fitness level and run with him.  So without a whole lot of thought, that next week, I started running with him.

Wow, was it ever hard in the beginning!  I’m not a spring chick anymore, but not quite ready to live in a retirement community either.  I remember those first few weeks of running more as a nightmare.  All the heavy breathing I was doing wasn’t bringing any sort of pleasure.  I so wanted to keep up with my husband and was determined to do it, but I hated the process.  It was all I could do to take another step sometimes.  I’ve found that when my body is working extra hard like that, I am more likely to feel rage rather then the euphoria that runners normally feel.

Why did I not quit and give up though?  It’s something I really wanted to be able to do with my husband.  If it was going to take this much of his time and he enjoyed it so much, I needed to do this.  I liked the results from it, too.  Weight was melting off my body.  I had worked so hard to lose weight and this made it so much easier.  I was even craving healthier foods to give my muscles the fuel they needed.  I also found something in myself that caught me by surprise.  I couldn’t let him beat me!  For some reason, I had to prove to myself that I could do this.

It was a rough start at first.  Both of us ended up in physical therapy with injuries.  Most of it was from a lack of knowledge and doing more than the rest of our muscles were ready for us to do.  We were signed up for our first 5K last July and thanks to the physical therapy, I was able to run.

Our first race was so much fun!  It was the Gunbun Fun Run in Napa, CA.  Not only was it a beautiful place to do the run, but it was my first experience to run on streets that were lined with people cheering us on.  We ran across the finish line together holding hands.  It was exhilarating!  It didn’t suck to have the wine tasting at the finish line either.  I was now hooked!

We’ve done a few races since then.  The Run to Remember 9/11 in NYC was such a memorable experience.  Running on Governor’s Island just across from the bay from the World Trade Center Memorial Site and the Statue of Liberty, running with family members of 9/11 victims in memory of those who lost their lives that tragic day was an honor.  Our next race was the AZ Grape Stomp 5K in Sonoita, just 5 weeks after I had been in ICU and had a major surgery.  I should clarify, I mostly walked.  Just two weeks later I did run my first 10K.  It was slow, but I ran the whole way.  Seriously, regarding the hospital event, had I not been physically as fit as I was from running, I really think the outcome of that experience could have been very different.  Staying on this side of the grave was a huge benefit.  You can read about that in another post I wrote, “I’m Not Average”.  My husband and I did our first half marathon in January and are training for our first full marathon this coming May.  26.2 miles!

We’ve had a coach for several months now.  He’s a professional and keeps helping us to improve without getting injured, which is a big deal for runners.  We’re up to about 40 miles a week with our training.  Each week, we have a couple speed workouts, a couple easy runs and a long run each Sunday.  We’re up to 16 miles on the long run now and wow, is 16 miles a long way on foot!

I’ve had several people ask, how I do it.  I have to say, the answer is the same for everything else that I do in life, one step at a time.  When I’m at that point where I think I can’t go on, I just take one more step, and then another and another.  I keep going.  Quitting is not an option.  Besides, I wanna be an athlete.


In 2 See Me

Have you ever really thought about the word, “intimacy”?  Ok, true confession here.  Sex is first place my mind goes when I hear the word.  My own insecurity is hoping that I’m not the only one who goes that direction first, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m not.  While sex, when it is true lovemaking is the most beautiful form of intimacy, there is so much more to it and that’s where I’m going with it today.

When I started this blog, my purpose was to share life with others.  I was hoping for a two sided conversation about life and all the things it throws our way, all the good, the bad and the ugly.  I wasn’t looking for a debate or an argument.  I was looking for a safe, honest place where those involved would be encouraged or comforted or just listened too, whatever we needed it to be for that given point in our day.  In order to do that, I felt that I needed to go first.  I had to open up the discussion, to be the first to take the risk to be intimate, to let you “in 2 see me”.

Think about the times you’ve sat and had a truly invigorating conversation with a friend.  Your conversation had moved past the weather and how the family is.  It wasn’t a one sided conversation.  You had both gotten to share, equally and each had really listened to the other.  You had a tangible connection at a deeper level.  It was a true “heart to heart”!  I love those rare occurrences with a friend.  They are so satisfying, so life giving!  It’s sad that they are so rare.

The truth is, they are rare because it’s rare to have a friend that is safe to have that kind of conversation with.  It’s rare that we take the time to move past ourselves and our own junk to really listen to someone else.  It’s rare that we let go of our judgmental, critical opinions and allow a person to feel safe with us.  It’s rare that we see another’s worth when they may have idiosyncrasies that don’t resonate with us.  It’s rare because we don’t see buried treasure in others.  We say we value people, but when the rubber meets the road, when you are face to face with them, do we really?

I want more of those life giving conversations and I had hoped to find them in this blog.  I guess I didn’t realize what a lonely place blog land could be.  Was I asking too much to start a personal, intimate, online conversation with total strangers?  The answer to that is a huge YES!  After all, what you put online is out there for the world to see forever.  I can see why it’s not such a safe place.  I can see why the conversation is so one sided.  So where do I go from here?  No where!  I’m going to push past the loneliness and the insecurity that comes from making myself vulnerable.  I’m taking the risk to keep sharing.  I just have to believe that maybe someone is listening and talking back, just in a way that the whole world won’t hear.  I’m here to stay!

I’m Queen of the Hill, On Top of My Game

Finally, the anxiously awaited day has arrived!  It’s the big interview that was so hard to land.  This could be the ultimate dream job!  The position, the title, the salary, the company, the hours, they’re all perfect!  What should my approach be?

Scenario #1: Nervousness robs me of my sleep the night before.  I’ve rehearsed possible responses to questions that may be asked.  I’ve researched the company so I know what their day to day business is about.  I’ve even checked out the statistical data, their financial position, and their marketing strategy.  I’m so ready for this interview, yet my palms are damp, my deodorant may be failing and I’m even a bit shaky.  Though I meet the qualifications, I’m prepared; I still question whether I’m good enough.  Am I confident?

Scenario #2: I wake up and feel like I’m queen of the hill.  I’m on top of my game and my game face is on.  I know I can ace this.  Everyone likes me.  There is no one better qualified for this position.  My prep for the interview is all about me.  I pump my mind full of every positive affirmation I can think of.  I’m dressed to the nines and immaculately groomed.  Am I confident?

Have you found yourself in each of these scenarios before?  I think we’ve all felt these things at some point.  In these two scenarios, we can identify confidence, pride, arrogance and insecurity.  The negative aspects of these characteristics have become huge “pet peeves” of mine.  While I like to think I am tolerant of other people’s flaws, non-judgmental, accepting and a really kind person, I find myself feeling rather intolerant and judgmental when I scrape up against a prideful, arrogant person.  Prideful arrogance is a characteristic that ruffles my feathers to the point that it’s worth the risk of exposing more lack in myself, to talk about it here.  It ruffles my feathers because it hurts people.  And I know it hurts people, because it’s hurt me.

So, just what are we talking about here?  I looked to the dictionary for the interpretation.

Confidence: 1. the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; 2. firm trust: “we had every confidence in the staff”.  3. The state of feeling certain about the truth of something.  Synonyms: trust, faith, reliance, belief, credit, credence

Pride: 1. a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.  2. The state or feeling of being proud.  3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.  4. Pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself.  5.  Something that causes a person or persons to be proud

Insecurity:  a feeling of apprehensiveness and uncertainty, lack of assurance or stability

Arrogance:  an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions

I’m not proposing that everything about these subjects is negative, as you can see in their definitions.  What I want to propose is that we be willing to take a look at ourselves and identify that which is in us that is negative and hurtful to others.  The truth is others see it before we do.

What’s the difference here?  There are attitudes that we adopt.  Some, we purposefully choose to put on and others we unknowingly adopt.  Maybe we picked up on a trait in someone else and there was a certain appeal about it or maybe we adopted an attitude because of unspoken, but strongly expressed societal pressures to conform to an image.  There are also attitudes that are just us.  They are a part of our character and nature and they come from within.  These attitudes are formed by beliefs or perceptions that we believe to be true.  Whether they are true or not is irrelevant here.  What is relevant is how we come across to others.

Our culture and the corporate world would encourage us to speak in positives, to appear to be a strong, vibrant and happy person.  To do anything less would expose our weakness and make us somehow unfit, a lesser person.  But, is this thinking causing a generation of phony, arrogant people to be the ones who are running and managing our lives eight to ten hours a day, five days a week?  It actually scares me to ask that question, because I’m inclined to believe that the answer is yes.  I’m not excited to live and work in that kind of world.

I don’t know of anyone who is naturally confident and secure.  Confidence has to be built into a person.  Some people will try to make themselves fit the bill on their own.  They try to “put on” confidence and security by changing their actions to what’s accepted and expected of them.  It’s not real.  True confidence is perverted resulting in arrogance.

Arrogance is “all about me” thinking.  It will trample the weak and tear apart good people, piece by piece.  There will be no remorse, because there was never any concern or regard for any other person.  As an arrogant attitude brings success and satisfaction to a person, it’s fed and grows and before you know it, a monster has been created.  The monster knows little about good leadership and how to properly manage people.  The monster becomes a dictator and those he or she encounters on the journey, will have to become monster like, as well, or they risk becoming, yet another among those crushed along the monsters path.

Confidence is something that is internal.  It’s like true beauty that comes from within rather than put on with make up.  It’s built in to us by loving, encouraging and nurturing people that take the time to validate us, our true qualities and gifts.  It’s built into us through knowledge that we gain in education, in job training or mentoring.  It’s built into us by truly “earned” successes and even failures.  Life happens and if we allow, we can be built up by it.  For a wounded soul, it can take what seems to be an endless stream of affirmation and validation before that person can start to believe in their value and walk in the ability that is in them.  It takes someone confident who cares enough to take the time to invest in other people to draw out what was there all along.  An arrogant person will miss this opportunity.

As you can see, the recipe for confidence isn’t one that is quick and easy.  It can’t happen overnight and it can’t happen to the one who is isolated, a king in a kingdom of one.  As you’ve heard it said, it takes a community to raise a child, so it takes a community to build true and beautiful confidence in a person.

So, back to the job interview; which person are we coming across as, the confident or the arrogant one? Even if the job is not for you or the applicant is not a fit for your position, regardless of the side of the table you’re sitting on, an opportunity sits before you to make a difference!  An arrogant person will miss out.  A confident person will see it.