blue monday

I had never heard of the phenomenon of Blue Monday until today. I guess I’m a little oblivious to the date, day of the week, and bank holidays since I’m not currently participating in the working world. Pulling up to the gym at 9:30am it was crystal clear that today was not a regular Monday. Everyone with the day off was spending the morning working out – kudos to them! I was irritated that I was late for the 9:30 B5 class I wanted to try but resolved to attend the 10am Hot Yoga Sculpt instead. Who doesn’t love a good sweaty yoga sesh? Well, yoga it was not. I can only begin to describe the torture chamber that was the tiny HOT “yoga” studio they crammed 20 sweaty bodies into for what was essentially a cardio sculpt class. Overachievers-R-Us left me lightheaded and 10lbs lighter. Then I went to swim. Duh. Because bouncing around in a room with wall to wall mirrors for an hour didn’t do enough for my self-esteem, I should definitely follow it up with an hour in the pool slowly pacing back and forth wondering why I do this whole triathlon thing in the first place.

I really do wonder why I do sports versus fitness. All those moms in the torture chamber class look way better than I do – are definitely bouncier than I am – prob have more energy than I do – and feel a lot more confident. This is a legitimate posturing. I mean, yay me, I can finish an Ironman in 12 hours on 3 months of serious training, but I am still in double digit clothing sizes and am appalled at 99% of pictures and videos of myself. I guess I’m just not motivated by what I see in the mirror. I mean, to a degree I am, like I want to see a strong, healthy body. But I have some genetic limitations that [minus surgery] aren’t going to change at this point in my life. Moreover, this gets at a deeper issue. Why do I do triathlon? Running was more obvious. I love running. I saw progress in running. Triathlon feels like a consolation prize. How can I ever be good at something that I don’t even appreciate that much? What is my hang up? Hmm, food for thought.

Back to Blue Monday. Maybe I got out most of my moodiness over the weekend so today wasn’t particularly glum. We are in a weird holding pattern that doesn’t make me happy. The weather hasn’t helped. I was so looking forward to sunny Florida after the holidays but we’ve ended up in northwest Arkansas instead. And it may not even be working out. So I’m confused and frustrated and exploring alternatives and trying not to get bogged down in the what-ifs or second guess doors I closed for this house-sitting gig that may or may not pan out.

But…

Today the sun came out. Today I finished that horrendous class I accidentally took at the gym. Today we checked out a local brewery for lunch. Today I vacuumed under the bed and every cushion and in all the storage spaces in the trailer. Today I had a good hair day.

Hey, sometimes it’s the little things right?

One foot in front of the other.

(Sweet new collapsable travel chairs make me happy)

windmills as far as the eye can see

There is not much to see driving east on I-40 across New Mexico. But as soon as you hit north Texas it is just miles and miles of wind farms. I find it quite beautiful and peaceful too. It does seem to go on forever at times though, so we broke it up with a fun little run in the country. But where to stop? Can I get a sign perhaps? Oh hey, how about at that gigantic cross on the side of the highway? Okay!

We can safely say we understand the wind farm situation. At least we chose to run into the wind on the way out and just coast back in with it at our backs. Except Tom had to spend about 10 minutes wrangling the sweetest dog that escaped her pen and was jogging down the country road with us. Finally he just knocked on the door and asked the owner to keep her inside while we left. Good grief. I’m sure we looked like lunatics to all the farm vehicles zipping by but it was a much needed workout and the scenery was kind of stunning. I felt like I was on that road in Forrest Gump where they deliver the angel wing packages. Cotton bolls swirled around me and I even got hit by a tumbleweed that escaped some barbed wire fencing. Big sky, I heart you.

The random overnight in Oklahoma City was unremarkable. Tom found an RV Park just off the highway and the highlight was a nice chat with an employee who refilled our propane tanks. As we pulled out for the last long day of driving to Memphis, Judy called. Early that morning Granpa had gone home to be with Jesus. He was at peace in his new perfect heavenly body, basking in the vision of a lifetime, where there is no pain or suffering. We will miss him terribly and I can only hope to honor him by spending the rest of my days running to the cross of Christ. Some days it might look a lot like a windmill.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

There is certainly some irony in the fact that the person who gave me the Daring Greatly book in January 2014 was my then-fiance, who I would say goodbye to 3 days later, never to hear from again. So naturally I let the book reside on the bottom shelf of my coffee table for quite some time, mostly out of spite. I don’t know exactly how long it took before I picked it up but it was close to a year.

In that year I canceled a wedding, I ran my debut post-ankle surgery marathon, I sat with my mother at chemo, I helped my sister with her newborn baby, I dove head first into the triathlon world, I dated wildly inappropriate men, and I took a long hard look at my life. So naturally before the clock struck midnight to roll the calendar over to 2015, I booked that flight to Europe for a 2 month adventure that became the impetus for the whole rebirth of Emily.

Daring greatly looks different at various points in my evolution. That New Year’s Eve it was finding the courage to buck tradition and expectations, quit my job, shirk homeownership, stop seeing a perfectly nice guy. Because I wanted something more. Specifics unknown, but an independent journey. 9 months later, after proving to myself and anyone else paying a lick of attention that I could execute a beautiful Ironman debut, daring greatly was in the what comes next. The constant moving had provided a layer of emotional insulation so I peeled it off and tried to plant some roots. Another 9 months after that, some might say I succeeded, others might say I never stood a chance. Then daring greatly took yet another form. Daring to trust someone, take big chances, stop pretending maybe one day I’ll like my job…

It all happened so quickly that I didn’t do much contemplation on the front end. I wasn’t feeling that thing that I needed to feel to keep going down the path I was on so I was excited to get on a new one. There were certainly lots of scared and nervous feelings, whispered midnight confessions, and endless explanations to shell-shocked friends. I didn’t know what it was going to be like until we were in it. But once you’re in it, it’s hard to be objective about how it’s going or how it could be made better. At least for me. I have a propensity to spend a lot of energy either soaking up the moment or planning for the next, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in a situation such as this (and by this I mean sharing <200 sq ft with another human being bouncing from campground to campground every few days), there is a lot to be said for being intentional. Intentional with each other and with myself. Somehow it seems I forgot that I’m not in this alone. I’m so used to being alone that I’ve formed some rather selfish tendencies and I was acting like this was MY adventure when in fact it is very much OUR adventure.

Time to build intention into my daily routine. Daily gratitudes. Daily reading. Daily writing.

Time to learn how to be a partner. Vulnerability. Accountability. Authenticity.

Then maybe I have a shot at the clarity.

Does 3 make a streak?

Finished my first book of the new year, thanks to my sweet condo-loaning friend Allyson for gifting me this one: Present Over Perfect. For the first half of the book I felt like maybe it wasn’t the one for me seeing as how she kept talking about she worked worked worked and was neglecting her family in pursuit of fame and fortune. Yeah, doesn’t sound like me does it. But something kept me going (I actually have quite a bad habit of not finishing books). The lack of love and fulfillment she felt in spite of her success sounded a lot like the lack of love and fulfillment I feel in my search for a passionate vocation. The bottom line is identity. Knowing it, owning it, nurturing it, cultivating it, living it. Whether one is squeezing every second out of the day flying to speaking engagements and book signings or wasting the days away binging Netflix and surfing Instagram, our souls are still unsatisfied and the ache sounded familiar. The peeling off of layers of protection is the same process, just unique to my experience, my particular defenses. I may not have a marriage to save or kids to raise, but I have relationships to repair and dreams to birth.

So how? Back to the basics.

I am loved.

So deeply unconditionally eternally redemptively gracefully loved.

Exactly as I am.

Rescued.

Saved.

Chosen.

Made.

There is a plan. Go where there is peace. Not necessarily safety or comfort or easiness, but peace. No more of the anxiety and loneliness and frustration. The next place may still be scary and new and uncertain. But it feels different from the forced tense do-what-is-expected obvious place. It didn’t work before, it’s not gonna work now.

I choose adventure.

I choose me.

Cause if I’m not truly me, how can I be any use to anyone else?

don’t think, just write

A New Year is a cliche time for reflection and goal setting. I’ve found myself with an overwhelming amount of things to reflect on and absolutely no concrete plans for the future. It’s basically paralyzing me. And I vacillate between making lots of detailed plans and making none whatsoever. In this instance freedom feels like shackles. Too many options is dizzying. My eyes literally hurt from scanning websites for job opportunities, house sitting gigs, and rental units. We’ve been in a holding pattern for about 6 weeks. My family kicked off the holiday season with a funeral which set a strange tone for me. It’s hard to explain but celebrating my grandfather’s life leaves me wondering what the hell I’m doing with my own. I mean, I wonder that a lot, I always have. I’ve felt an uneasy unsettled unsuccessful blah thing for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone in so many different directions, started down a variety of paths, but I never seem to get very far down them before I take another oddball turn. I get the impression some people think it’s irresponsible, others find it adventuresome, still others probably assume I’m lost, or a lost cause. I read books about women who take chances and chase their dreams and make bold statements and love deeply and find success in often unconventional ways. And I feel kind of desperate to be like them, since I’ve so clearly not followed any traditional or expected path. But the thing that keeps tripping me up is I don’t have this deep seated desire to do or be anything. I don’t have a hidden talent. People don’t reach out and tell me – hey, that thing you do for fun from time to time – you’d be really good at that like as a business. I’m well-educated, I’m intelligent, I like to read, I like to write, I love puzzles, I love nature, I am reasonably athletic, I have an eye for beauty and color and shapes, I am agreeable and relatively comfortable with people. But there are no blatant talents, no outstanding achievements, a lot of anxiety and insecurity, no drive to be successful, no entrepreneurial spirit, no desire for attention. I just want to find a rhythm. Some way to contribute to society. To be productive and useful in a way that is somewhat unique to me. I just feel so plain and boring. That might sound strange coming from a girl who quit her job not once but twice in the last two years to go out into the world and explore and try to find herself and this THING that she’s supposed to do or be. And how phenomenally depressing to even utter the words that after almost two years of adventuring and putting myself out there, that maybe I’m just not that interesting and don’t have some incredible thing to offer. Please dear God don’t let that be the answer. Come ON already! What do I need to do to find some direction? You’d think after all the hours I’ve spent running, hiking, and biking in nature, in addition to the hours and hours of driving back and forth across America, that maybe I’d get some little signs or feelings or nudging. But as I resign myself to work another tax season I feel a piece of me dying. Cubicle life is suffocating for me. It doesn’t lead anywhere. If I was meant to succeed in an office environment surely one of the many many jobs I’ve had would have gone somewhere rather than left me physically ill and emotionally drained. I put on weight just thinking about it. Looking back on the photos in my closet from middle school, high school, college, and my 20s it is obvious that I’ve been coping with these issues for a long long time by sneaking junk food. I can’t even think about how different my life might have been if I’d spent some of my teenage years figuring out who I really was and where I belonged in the world. I weep at the thought of the life I could have been living these past 20 years. But since I can’t do anything to change the past I’m left with the big what now? How do I really start my life NOW?