As single working mothers go, I am not exactly one of those light-the-world-on-fire, never-fazed superwomen.
I feel like an overwhelmed, not-so-coordinated juggler a fair amount of the time. But the joy of my daughter and my side pursuits (writing for myself and not my clients) usually balance out the daily frenzy.
But in the past few weeks, I’ve been overstretched, overstressed and confidence-shaken by many disparate Big Life things banging into each other all at once. Tapped out.
This weekend, I had my first down time and solo time in a few weeks, and no matter how many angles I played in giving myself pep talks, I couldn’t shake that ‘glass half empty’ state where every small disappointment or glitch in the day starts to feel like a personal dig from no less than the universe.
Even on my most overwhelmed days, I’m usually pretty good at finding an upbeat spot to land on. I learned resilience from watching my unfailingly positive and patient mom deal gracefully with one hard time after another while I was growing up, and it always rattles me when my resilience doesn’t rescue me from myself.
The clouds and cold rolled away midday today, and though my gray mood hadn’t lifted, I was determined to take advantage of the warmth and sun and go to my favorite running spot in the woods. My sad-sack conversation with myself went something like this:
“You know you don’t really feel like going. What you really need to do is stay home and work. … BUT if you don’t go and exercise your underused, over-sugared, cholesterol-collecting 49-year-old body, then you’ll really hate yourself.”
So I drove the 20 minutes to the state park, listening to Tina Fey reading ‘BossyPants;’ even Tina’s hilarious, self-deprecating stories of youthful screw-ups and disappointments hadn’t entertained me out of my funk.
After sitting in the car and stalling for a few minutes, I reluctantly turned Tina off and headed up my trail, more dogged than inspired.
I haven’t run very much in recent months, and have been easing back in, doing run-walk intervals and going no more than 2.5 miles. Today, the idea of distance appealed to me and I decided I would take my time and run out to a tiny cemetery plot a couple of miles farther than I’d been going lately.
So I ran hard, then walked, and did that over and over again, soaking up, as I always do, the woods and the play of the sunlight and blue sky in the narrow spaces between the trees.
I made it to the cemetery and turned around to head back. On the final stretch, which can sometimes seem to have tripled in distance, I never once thought, ‘I’m done … where’s the END?’
You have had to slog through a lot of backstory, and I appreciate that, so I’ll keep the punch line quick:
When I landed back at my “Blue Streak,” the name my daughter and I gave our car one summer, I felt like a different person.
150 percent lighter.
The glass was half full again…. just like that.
My running intervals are not very speedy, so I doubt what I was feeling was a true, chemical-blow out runner’s high.
But whatever it was that my run delivered today was powerful tonic — and unlike anything I’ve experienced before. All these hours later, the lightness is still with me; I have a newfound respect for what putting the heart and body through its paces can do to recalibrate the brain.
And so I’m here tonight to put my thanks on ‘paper’ — thanks to the woods and the sunlight … the legs and lungs … for restoring me to more than half-full.