It’s the Monday after Spring break, and I’m enjoying the serenity here at home. I took a forced hiatus from blogging, from running, from my normal routine last week because my little guy, Elliot, was really sick. He had a virus which caused fever off and on for several days, low energy, and lots and lots of snot. This year has been rough on poor Elliot. He has been sick at least 5 times since January. We have gone through so many boxes of tissues my husband was talking about getting them through Amazon subscribe and save!
I was somehow lucky enough to stay healthy, physically at least. Emotionally, I have been struggling. Since I made my goal last August to run a half-marathon this April, I have done more than just training my body. I have also put a lot of effort into becoming a happier, more confident woman, but it can be easy at times to fall back into old thought patterns, especially when life throws me a curve ball.
Back in mid-February when I sustained an IT band injury, I knew it would be difficult for me to keep on track in my training and be able to race. While I was getting the IT band issue under control, I realized I needed to start managing my shin splints, especially now that my long runs were close to 10 miles. I tried lots of things–icing my shins, kinesio tape, massage, stretching…but the pain just kept getting worse. Deep down, I knew what my legs really needed was for me to cut down on my mileage and intensity. Which meant I would not be ready for the half marathon in April.
At first, I handled it well. I told myself it was OK, I could still train for the Churchill marathon in November, after my legs healed. First world problems, as my husband would say. But not being able to run like I usually do, to do something I really enjoy, has been hard. I miss the physical effort, the sweat, I even miss the little aches and pains. I miss being able to exert control over my body, to make it do what I want. I know that might sound silly, but my body has experienced things which have been out of my control…my miscarriage, for one. I know I’m not the only woman who has had one, and it happened almost 3 years ago, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. I guess not being able to make my shin splints go away so I can make my body do what I want, has me feeling that same helplessness that I did after the miscarriage.
I’ve been struggling with my ‘career choice’ as well. When Elliot started Kindergarten this year, I made the decision not to return to my job at the Montessori school where he had attended preschool. There are many reasons why, but the most important one was that I wanted to get back into making art. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, and I have dreamed of being a ceramic artist since I was about 20.This seemed like the perfect time to work on that dream. I am beyond grateful to my husband for allowing me the space and time to do this, and I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining–but it is really difficult to work some days. It requires an ability to self-motivate, make and stick to goals, and keep going even in the face of failure (or perceived failure). There are so many days I think about throwing in the towel and getting a ‘real’ job again. There’s something comforting and easy about clocking in and doing your time, then leaving it all behind at the end of your shift. You can’t do that when you have your own business.
Saying that I am an artist, and telling people I own my own business makes me cringe, and I know it shouldn’t. I still don’t quite believe in myself or my abilities. I miss having a boss-someone who reassures me that I’m doing a good job. It’s easy to listen to negative voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough, that I’m not making nearly enough work, that I’m wasting my time. I’ve worked hard to fight those kind of thoughts, but truthfully, they still get the best of me more often that I care to admit.
Still, I know enough now to recognize the bad thoughts, to name them for what they are–lies–and to eventually show them the door. I’m not strong enough yet to always resist them, but I will get there.
We don’t always get to control everything in our lives. I am learning that the ability to be flexible is key to remaining happy when things don’t go my way. Flexibility does not come naturally for me. I tend to only see one possible way to get a desired outcome, when in reality there are many ways to get there. Flexibility is also being able to accept that achieving a goal won’t always happen on my time. I will run again. And when I do, hopefully I’ll be smarter about it, avoid injury. If I can find a way to do that, I can be ready to run the Churchill half later this year. If I get injured again, it just means I have more to learn. I have to be OK with that.
As for my art, I know I won’t willingly throw in the towel (and hopefully I will be lucky enough to be able to continue my business for many years). Maybe it’s OK to be insecure, maybe I don’t need to be completely sure about what I’m doing, as long as I continue to do it out of love and with honesty. I can’t control whether or not people like my work, or if they buy it. All I can do is continue to offer up what I have, how I see the world. The rest is out of my hands.