Years are funny things. They happen no matter what you do (e.g. I've been blogging for five years?? When did that happen?!). Time moves by you sometimes in an instant, and other times it crawls at a crippling pace. Sometimes we can move in stride with our time and other times we feel as though we have stumbled, tumbled, fumbled and fought to just brush our fingertips against it.
This last year has been about a lot of things, but the first half was mostly about getting into my program. And the second half was mostly about staying afloat. When this first semester ended I could literally and figuratively take a step back and examine the new ground gained in the battle, in addition to the wreckage left behind. Sorry, that was a little dramatic :) In the last year I have transformed into a new version of myself. The vigor and hard work that I put into my running the last few years has been transplanted into my education. My running is but a whisper of its former self, but I feel that I am better for it. This blog is but a whisper of its former self as well :) And for that, I apologize. It weighs on me, but I know that this is a temporary lifestyle. One year left and then I will begin the transformation into the next phase…re-entering the working world, and being the person I've wanted so badly to be. It's going to fly by.
Looking back on the last year, it has been rather exciting and profoundly satisfying in an extremely appropriate way. Appropriate because it is exactly what I was hoping for and working towards. While we didn't get out and race as much as we would have liked, the races we did run went very well and we enjoyed each experience. Speedgoat 50k was hands down my most favorite of the lot because I was able to parlay hard work into a satisfying outcome, and I hope to head back there again in 2014. Antelope Island will hopefully be in the cards again, as well as BoSho trail marathon and perhaps a few other shorter races. I'll be scaling back considerably on the expectations for racing in 2014. Once clinical rotations begin, I will be at the whim of that schedule and won't be able to manage much outside of that. And that is okay with me. It's just another 12 months. I can do anything for 12 months :) Plus, the end-goal achievement far outweighs the small sacrifices along the way (i.e. racing, bits of sanity, a proper diet, sleeping in, a restrictive budget) and I look forward to that day next December. However, there is a whole lot of living to be had before then.
This post is going to take a slightly different route than initially intended. I thought it was going to be about the last year and hopes for next year. Sometimes free-form writing just does that…has a life of its own. It has to do with disappointment, success, and perceived failure.
I think that I probably am viewed in a slightly inaccurate light by those that don't know me well. I have a pretty good idea how others see me and I just want to take this opportunity to let you in on a secret: I have had many a failure and many a disappointment in my life, in addition to the successes.
I was rejected by not one but two PTA programs before landing a spot in the program of my dreams. Those were blessings in disguise. Good luck telling me that back then, though. I felt crushed and like a total schmuck. I was downright embarrassed. Am I not good enough? what did I do wrong? what could I have done differently? whywhywhy?? If I had gotten into either of those programs I would have been just fine, life would have worked out fine. But then I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today. It took another year and a half before I would finally land squarely on my feet (or my bum, as it were), sitting at our desk in the second bedroom of our new home in our new city, clicking on an e-mail typed in the most beautiful font I'd ever seen: the font of acceptance. I felt redeemed, astonishingly grateful, emotional, and completely at a loss of words. I squealed like a child, in an unearthly pitch that I didn't know I was capable of. I did it! It was a difficult process, but my hard work paid off, finally. Five years of hard work to get to that moment, opening that type-written letter. I'm seriously considering framing the official hard-copy letter I received a day later. It was such a hard battle, and so seriously rewarding.
I was told by my 9th grade honors English teacher, in front of the entire class, that I was a 'bad writer' (her words, not mine), that my only saving grace was that I could come up with "really killer titles", and that was it. I was a painfully shy kid. That could have crushed me. And it sort of did. That comment followed me all the way into college when I finally had an instructor who convinced me I had a knack for the written word. It was my middle eastern politics professor…she wanted to frame a paper I had written on Bosnia. I took that as a compliment. But that 9th grade teacher let something out of me that I didn't know was in me. I was on a mission to prove her wrong, and while she will never know she was wrong, I know she was wrong and I'm better for it. If only math instructors could have done the same thing for my lacking in the numbers world ;)
I was once a radio DJ. Did you know that? I was, for five years. Two and a half in Central Illinois, and another two and a half in Eastern North Carolina. I was navigating the choppy and unsure waters of media fairly well and had my own midday show on a hard rock station, in addition to a gazillion other job titles within the radio group of six stations.
I had never actually hyperventilated before.
One early spring day, when I was told that I was losing my time slot to an unsavory duo threatening to leave if they didn't get what they wanted, and that I would be pushed to nights, I accepted the news as diplomatically as I could muster. I'm talking the whole nine yards: smiling, good posture, head-nodding, lots of "I understand"s and "thank you"s, blah blah blah. I'm talking Oscar-worthy performance. I then walked calmly outside and around to the back of the building which butted up against a grove of tall evergreens and a busy road. I steadied myself with both hands against the concrete wall, and then I unraveled. I was hyperventilating. I didn't know that that was what was happening at first; it was slightly terrifying. I crouched down, hands on knees, and I sobbed between gasps of air. Holy s***, what just happened? I felt like a complete failure, and a complete idiot. Thankfully, I was alone out there and was able to feel the full force of the emotions rolling in like waves rather than trying to muffle them. Maybe 10 minutes passed and then I gathered myself, went back inside and finished recording the commercials I was voicing for production. Two weeks later I received a phone call in the on-air booth that completely changed the course of my life, and I suddenly knew the reason for things. Everything happens for a reason, it just takes some time for the reasons to shake out and present themselves to you. But always trust that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out.
Four weeks later, I was packing up a moving truck with my mom, preparing to make the 21-hour drive to Chicago to begin my new job at a radio station I had interned at during college. While creating a new position in the station, the General Manager remembered me and my work during my intern days and somehow managed to find me way out in NC. I was offered the job and the rest is history.
Obviously, I am not in radio anymore, and that's a whole 'nother story of disappointment followed by another phoenix-rising-out-of-ashes type thing. Like I said, things always manage to work out. Life is definitely like a choose-your-own-adventure book. When you get to the bottom of a page, or end of a section, you are directed to choose between two options, each sending you off in different, unexpected directions. If you were to trace the course of my life, for example, it would in no way represent a straight line. It would look more like a tree, with a definitive beginning (the trunk) topped by layer upon layer of branches branching into new branches into new branches into new branches, going in all directions.
There are plenty of examples I could continue on with here, but I think you get the point. I think I put off the vibe of being charmed or 'lucky', when in reality we are all one in the same. I've worked my butt off to get to where I'm at; few things have ever just landed in my lap. I've put in the time and the sweat and some things have paid off. Sometimes things didn't pay off as I had hoped, but ultimately even those 'failures' have helped to pave the way. I am who I am because of where I have been. I regret not a single experience I have had because every experience I have had has gotten me to where I am now.
"Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." ~Marilyn Monroe
The PTA program I am in is the hardest thing I have ever done. A lot of the last four months is a blur as a result of the tunnel vision I had to have in order to do well. I've honestly never worked so hard in my life. I'm guessing I made it look easy judging by comments from peers, but trust me, it has been anything but. Not everyone fared so well and as a result we will be short a few of my classmates next semester. I do not know if they read this, but I want them to know that while it feels like crap and really, really sucks, everything happens for a reason. Just give it a little time and the reason will become apparent. Then pick yourself up and do the thing you know that needs to be done, whatever that may be.
"Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith." ~Steve Jobs
Disappointment comes in all forms and creeps in at generally unexpected times. The key is to not lose faith that things will work out. Allow yourself to feel the weight of it, but then refocus and decide what needs to happen next. It's the sucky times that allow us to fully appreciate the unbelievably awesome times. Generally, we get out of life exactly what we put in. Do good, do right, pick your path and eventually it will come to fruition.
Not everything works out exactly as you hoped it would, but that is the genius of it all.
We can't know exactly what to expect every time. What fun is that? So be open to the possibilities and be ready to run with it. We can't possibly plan for everything, nor can we expect that everything will fall into place just as we had imagined it. Not every trail is marked perfectly, in fact many are not marked at all. It is in these times that you must trust your gut and take the path that feels most right. Even if it means going off trail a bit, you will eventually find your way.
"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs
So I think that that is enough reflection for a Christmas Eve day. We had a really good run this morning and I'm hungry. I made some wicked delish peppermint bark and I think I need to go make some of it disappear! :)
Wonderful bit of writing, this, and a lot of, yes, wisdom here. Please don't hesitate even a moment to post such things (don't forget the race reports, of course :-)).
Not sure I agree with every single thing here; I've seen too much randomness in my own life and in other's to think that everything happens for a reason - some things just happen.
But you can't live your life fearing that randomness (which is, of course, occasionally for the good). So, if living as if you believe everything happens for a reason works for someone, by all means they should do so.
For me, however, the knowledge that randomness is out there actually helps me to appreciate those things I have been able to construct in my life, which is more reassuring in a way.
At any rate, I've picked up on one thing, but there is such good stuff in the other things you've written that I'll take with me. Thanks for writing (and great joy over the holidays to you and Geoff, and have a great 2014 - CHI's loss was SLC's gain, but the running community isn't quite the same without the green in the sea of red).
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