A few weeks ago I stood on a rock at sunset looking across Puget Sound at the Olympic Mountains with one of my oldest and dearest friends and felt overwhelmed with relief and hope, having taken a big leap of faith towards a possible future on the west coast. I had accepted a job in Seattle and was ready to really try the city on as a new home. But since the job is seasonal and doesn’t start for 2 months I got busy confirming plans for the meantime and never got around to capturing my thoughts about this blessing that had been shaping up behind the scenes for literally a decade. I was eager to testify to God’s goodness in light of my severe anxiety around jobs and interviews and finances. And I was thrilled to tell my parents because they worry much more than I do about my stability and provision. It was a busy week hosting Karen and playing tour guide then I packed up once more and headed back east to share my news and dig through boxes of winter clothes for a work wardrobe and resort wear for a family “vacation.” (When my day to day life is really a vacation of sorts the term loses its original meaning.)
As I connected with Charlotte friends over the next 5 days I started to spread the word and was further energized by their enthusiasm. I also got a swift kick in the tail in the training department by accompanying them to computrainer classes, hot yoga, group runs, and even chased my coach around on the bike one sunny day. It seemed everyone else had gotten back in the swing of things post-ironman a lot faster than I had and it made me wonder if I’m doing something wrong and how I can build a stronger training network out west to stay in better shape when an A race isn’t looming. But I’ll put that in the 2016 Goals column for now.
Before I knew it I was rushing to the airport for our tropical getaway and despite a comedy of errors I made it to Atlanta where I met up with the whole gang and a few hours later we were toes in the sand, piña coladas in hand. I was proud of myself for keeping the workout mojo going but I’m pretty sure the weekly alcohol intake negated any possible fitness gains and I’m still pretty embarrassed about my current state and grateful its baggy sweater season. After a sunny week of pampering and digging holes in the sand with my niece and nephew, I was back to Atlanta to catch up with old friends. I honestly can’t remember the last time I visited and I hardly recognize it anymore. I spent 3 days catching up with 4 dear girlfriends and couldn’t help but reflect on how we’ve all grown up so much in the 10 years since I left. There’s been love and loss and babies and new houses but I can still sit across the table from each one and laugh like it was yesterday. Women in their 30s are remarkable. They juggle careers and children and aging parents and relationships and homemaking and fitness and you wonder how they find the energy to get up and do it all again the next day with a smile on their face. Consider me impressed and feeling a little unworthy!
En route back to Charlotte I started reaching out to schedule time with friends for what I thought would be my last visit til May. There’s never enough time to see everyone which only makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am in the friend department. I really have an amazing community that loves and supports me and the more I consider not moving back there the harder it is to leave. I am so grateful to everyone who has opened their home to me, especially last minute, and been so generous and understanding of my crazy schedule. I hope one day I can repay all the kindnesses. But even as I sit here 90 minutes from landing back in Seattle, I know I’ll be returning to the Queen City before the end of tax season. I had one super special friend hour this weekend that has really rocked me and I’ve been a sniffly puffy eyed mess since I hugged her goodbye. There are many injustices in the world these days but at least in this moment I can think of none greater than suffering at the merciless hands of incurable disease. No one can escape from it anymore. It seeks out our mothers, our best friends, our heroes, our cheerleaders. It infuriates me and it frightens me. It brings out the worst in some and the best in others. It rips apart families and shatters dreams. It breaks my heart and makes me love in ways I didn’t know I could. We throw billions of dollars and countless hours of brilliant minds’ labor at it and at the end of the day we are still completely mystified and helpless.
There are just some mysteries we will not have answers for this side of eternity. I can’t anticipate the grief that lies in my too near future. The last few months I have felt keenly aware of my emotions and perhaps spent a little too much time being present with them (a downfall of excessive free time). Whether it’s fear and anxiety or confidence and pride, longing and loneliness or gratitude and joy, I have to believe that this is the essence of life. Soaking in the moments and understanding how pieces fit together when something wonderful unfolds offers at least a sliver of solid ground when the winds of confusion and despair start howling. It’s unfathomable to me how some people can be so reckless with their loved ones when others would literally give anything for just one more tomorrow with theirs.
As I said, it is getting harder and harder to leave. But for the very reason that life is fleeting and precious, I have to keep moving forward. My people wouldn’t be my people if they did anything less than hug me and pray for me and send me on my way. And because I’m their people they know I’ll be back when it’s time. I carry them with me as I go and will pray for them as I watch the sun set over my horizon, that it will rise on theirs, bringing hope and strength for the battles of the new day, and peace in the promise of life everlasting.
If you would like to get some skin in the game… join me in supporting my people at the Get Your Rear in Gear Charlotte March 5th or for those of you not near the Queen City, we’ll gladly take your money too! Follow my link to the team page by clicking here: GYRIG Blue Crew