Thursday, January 27, 2011

Raising the Bar

My friend Kristin has written about the bleak blah that is the month of January. While many people have never had a glimpse of the beast that is depression, many of us know its long and strong tentacles can gasp at any moment, sucking us down into a pit of miry clay, if I may be so bold.

I seem to live according the rhythm of the students' calendar. With three school-aged kids and one teacher man living with me, my life is set by the school. In the 16 years that he's been a teacher, and in the years prior to that when I was a real live student, I've experienced the roller coaster that is the school year. And I will tell you that January can bite it. (Along with August, December and May.)

Usually in January, I'd be wrapped up in layers and layers of soft, elastic-waisted clothes going face down in yet another pint of Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream. But you know, I've been running. And I have these goals! And it's so pretty outside right now. And I as much as I adore Americone Dream, I just can't eat another pint. Well... maybe just a bite.

My running routine was a precise and secure process in my day, leaving the house for a run right after the troops left for school. I was faithful to my routine all the way up to the day Christmas break started. It's been downhill since, rather deliciously I might add. I took time off for a trip to Pennsylvania. Then it was icy and cold. So I lost about 4 weeks of regular running. But this week my cabin fever reached critical mass. I had to find, gasp, a new routine! Golly I hate change. It's so...changey.

It occurred to me that I did not have to run in the mornings, when it was so blasted cold. Duh. What took me so long? I don't know. And I won't bore you with the logistical craziness running in the middle of the day causes. I will just say that it's not the most convenient. Silver lining: I still get outside to do the thing I love. And this is good.


Well, a few things. One, the minor inconvenience is worth it to get something I want. A simple shift in perspective opened up a way for me to carve out the time I wanted. I know it's temporary and I can deal with that.

I also realized that I didn't have to be a martyr about running. I had run in 28 degrees and that was not fun, yet I had this misplaced idea that cowing to weather was copping out. But then, I posted to Facebook this morning "I deserve higher standards," about running when it's below freezing. Heck yeah, I do. I found a way to keep running without torturing my digits in sub-freezing breezes.

And then I realized something I'd thought before. I am often disappointed in what an easy teacher running is and how thick I am that I need pictures to grasp the bigger truth. I long for running to be this largely contemplative exercise from which I emerge an enlightened, empowered voice of untaught wisdom. Truth is, running is a pretty simple stand in for much of life.

What I mean is, we do deserve higher standards and I'm not just talking about the thermometer. And I'm not talking about keeping our houses and children perfect. I'm talking about what we allow ourselves the time to participate in. I wanted, I needed to get moving outside; there were a few obstacles and I kicked them in the teeth to get them out of my way.

I'm worth a run outside. I'm worth one hour to think and move, to pace, pray and vanish.

What are you worth? How will you raise the bar?


  1. Yes! I am worth an hour!! Mom and I went for a walk on Monday--it was the first time I'd gone for a walk in ages, a good reminder.


  2. Ah Jen, where to begin? Maybe here: You are a wonderfully supportive friend and a wise, inspiring woman.

    "I'm worth one hour to think and move, to pace, pray and vanish."

    Yes, you are.