Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding Success in Failure

Oh man, did my run this morning suck. I mean, it sucked.

Let me count the ways. I hurt my shoulder running last week (yes, I know you're supposed to hurt your leg or foot or ankle when running, but let's just leave that for now, shall we?). So, I'm already hurting. And when I run with the dog, I keep him on a leash on which he tugs. Which hurts my shoulder.

And it was cold, so my nose was running all over the place. When I attempted a "farmer" blow of my nose, snot smeared all down my face, which I promptly wiped on my sleeves.

And I had to switch to regular running shoes because the vibrams I LOVE don't keep my feet warm. And the running shoes hurt my knee.

And my pace was off because of my knee and the dog and the shoes.

And the gps on my phone got all jacked. It had me going 4 minute miles which would make me either a Kenyan or bionic and I'm neither of those things.

Yesterday one of my runner friends posted that her run was awful, and I fell over myself to encourage her to keep going, and to try again, and to find her success. But then I "failed."

We have a tendency to oversell our failures, don't you think? What I mean is that I had kind of a bad run. Does a bad run equal failure? It equals one bad run in a mass of days and runs.

My friend, Dr. Julie Bell, makes her living teaching people to define their successes in ways that work, to find What's Important Now. (W.I.N). I like this approach for a lot of reasons. First, it allows each person to find the things that are important to them and to pursue them. This may sound basic, but how many of us pursue things or ideas that other people foist on us? Second, it shifts our focus from what went wrong to what went right. Finally, this idea is not exclusive to runners or athletes. It applies to anyone.

Here's what was right on my run today. Let me count the ways.

I got out of bed and put on my running clothes. That right there is success.
I ran.
I figured out that I reallyreallyreallyreallyreally dislike running with the dog.
I realized I need new shoes.
I learned that I want to download some new music.
I liked running in the cold.
I kept going even though everything felt wrong.
I will run again.

The title of this post is misleading because there was no failure today. I wanted to use the word in the title, though, because the word is jarring in its harshness. It has an ugly edge to it and using it brings into relief how silly it is for me to perceive a "bad" run in such dramatic light.

What's going on with you? How are you defining your actions, your successes, your failures. What do you do when you're beating yourself up mentally?

Monday, December 6, 2010

OMG! Are You Your Mother?

Someone handed me a picture of myself. Well, of me standing with one of my delightful offspring. Are you like me? When someone shows you photos, does your laser-gaze hone in on your 2D simulacrum with excruciating perception? "Oh!" You groan. "My eyes are all wonky. And has my nose always been that crooked? What in the world am I looking at? What am I eating?"

(There exists, in my family, a modern day Ansel Adams whose life work seems to be capturing his family eating on film for posterity. If one were to find his cache of photos in 100 years, it will seem to that anthropologist that we are always eating. And...maybe we are....Anyway...)

Someone gave me a picture. And I honed in on that film version of myself. I did not, for once, gasp in horror about my weight or my weird nose. No. This time, I gasped because staring at that camera was not me mother!

Can you hear the Hitchcockian scream emanating from the earth? That's me, recognizing, not for the first time, that I am, slowly and surely, becoming my mother. Hands on hips, feet splayed, eyebrows cocked in coming disapproval or something.

I'm fairly sure every woman has this moment of maternal cloning horror. All the things that drove us crazy about our mothers have somehow seeped into our DNA, turning us from the hip, intellectual young women we once were (because we were, okay?) into the woman who nagged us to clean our rooms, who pondered our outfit choices with, um, let's call it diplomacy, who reprimanded, scolded and chided.


There's always a but.

That's not all my mother was, and I'd make a bet that yours wasn't either. Sure, we had our moments, when my teen self, rife with hormones and the glittering brilliance of youth and she, the wise and thoughtful woman, argued about curfew and boys and phone calls. But, my mom also was my biggest fan. She still is. My mom told me I could do anything I wanted. She said to try everything I get a chance to do. She let me stumble and she let me fall. Hard. She also picked me up and dusted me off. She put the armor of security on my shoulders and locked it tight. My mom has a knack for saying what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear. And? She was right about almost everything. There are days when I hate that still, but mostly it makes me laugh.

When a word my mother used to say slips out of mouth, when I find myself in a familiar posture or using a certain idiom, I no longer grimace. I give thanks.

What kind of life did you have with your mom? Do you rue the days you know you are turning into her or do you welcome them because she was more kick-ass than your teen self realized?

Friday, December 3, 2010

This I Know

You know how you go through your day and think things you wish you could share with someone and then you forget until the next time you're thinking it and you're all alone and you wish you could share it with someone? Well, that's me on my morning runs. This little list is purely for entertainment purposes only. A lighthearted Friday post, just because.

This I Know:
(Or: I know I think this)

It is always hard to get out the door
The minute I put on my headphones dumbdog is ready to go
He will always pee on the bush at the playground
The cars will never stop for me in the crosswalk
The squirrels in the park have a death wish
They are kamikaze squirrels
Every day, the dog awakes with hope that this is the day he will catch one
He will never catch one
I do not like the smell of freshly baking donuts (are they baked?)
They smell like sweetened fat
That does not mean I will not ingest said sweetened fat. Just smells bad when I'm running
I do not know what Latino Tires are, but I know where you can get some
My barefoot shoes do not abide acorns
The older man who runs and walks on my route is kind
I like to pass him
This makes me a bad person with a cruel heart
When I get to the David Bowie part of the mix, I like to sing and bob my head
I know how this makes me look
I tell myself I am amazing when I am running
I laugh when I say this
The dog does not have near my endurance
I do not have his speed.
Then again, I don't run on four legs.
I sometimes say things out loud. To myself. On a run.
I know how this makes me look.

I love my runs. I love these thoughts shaking loose in my brain. I love sharing them with you. I hope they make you smile. Do something nice for yourself today.