A lot has happened since I crossed the finish line of a very fun, painful and humbling New York City Marathon. Mainly, I took a break. I turned off and made a conscious decision not to eat, sleep and breath social media and content creation. Winter is my least favorite time of year because it's recovery season. Recovery from the hard year of training and recovery from all the creating and soul sharing I did in 2016.
But I hate slowing down. I hate having tons of free time or getting enough sleep. (I hate admitting that because I get a sick satisfaction from complaining about putting in a 20 hour day or being spread too thin.) I'm a workaholic. I love being really, really, really busy and I crave chaos. I'm terrified of the take offs and landings, but I'm motivated by the uncertainty of the free fall and everything that happens in between. That's why winter is so hard for me.
Rest has become an incredibly important factor in my life because I've realized that I'm not very good at it. And despite the fact that I feel like my creative reservoir dries up whenever I force myself to step back or turn off, it's the only way I can fall back in love with chasing impossible challenges. And though it feels as if I'm being drained of creative juices, what I'm really doing is building stores that will soon be replenished once I'm ready to hit the ground running again. (Pun intended.) Even though recovery and stepping back is boring, it's imperative if I want to keep going.
Next week, I'm approaching my second take off of a Boston Marathon qualifying attempt but this time, the take off doesn't feel as scary as it did in April. When I announced I was going for a BQ attempt at the beginning of this year, I was petrified. I really didn't think I was going to be able to do it. And I didn't. Well, not exactly. I may have failed to BQ but I learned a hell of a lot about myself along the way and for that, I'm grateful.
This time, I'm afraid of the self doubts I'm going to have to start wrestling once I take off and the discomfort that comes with pushing my limits, but I know I can do it. I trust that I won't quit when it gets really hard. This attempt is about completing a goal, not starting from scratch.
But that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy. I'm nervous about running down my goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon without the help of the chaos, fear, and brand new BQ or Bust smell. Last week, I dreaded started training again. The hardest part is always getting started. But then, I found the inspiration behind my second BQ attempt during a trip to Oiselle.
Oiselle is a women's clothing brand that doesn't just bring women together, but empowers them to be raw, vulnerable, honest, and supportive of one another. Being a member of the Oiselle community isn't about looking cool or being the best, it's about feeling incredible and knowing that you're not alone in your pursuit of your personal best.
Being a woman is really f*cking hard. And something clicked while I was reading Shonda Rhimes's New York Times bestselling bible "Year of Yes" on my flight back from the Nest (Oiselle HQ in Seattle). Yes, the book is as smart, honest, and as much fun to read as you'd expect but there's a chapter in the book that made me want to scream. Scream in frustration that we, as women, have to deal with this and scream with relief to see that we really are all in this together. (And honestly, sometimes letting out a war cry scream just really feels good. Try it. You'll feel better.)
There's a chapter where Shonda talks about "doing it all"; how she juggles being a mother of three and running the empire that is Shondaland. She talks about Jenny McCarthy. Not that Jenny McCarthy, a different Jenny. Her nanny. She has help. And she talks about how women shame and allow themselves to be shamed.
And sure, I don't have kids and I'm single but I get what Shonda is saying. It's easy to point fingers, judge, and compare ourselves to what we think we see. What it boils down to is this; ladies, we're on the same team. Stay at home Mom or full time working Mom, there is no right or wrong. We need to support one another even if we don't make the same choices.
I do this all the time, I compare myself to someone else and feel discouraged by their success instead of inspired by it. I fail to remember that they too probably made sacrifices and worked their ass off as they clawed their way to the top.
I wrote about this a few weeks ago, how comparing yourself to others isn't a death sentence if you do it in a constructive way. When I feel intimidated by someone else's success, I ask myself what they're doing that's working. Do they take risks that I'm not taking? When I see someone using resources that I don't have, it's easy to say, "Well lucky them, we can't all have (insert resource here)" but that's petty and demeaning. And the only person who loses that game is me.
I hate when I go to that place because I want to be a cheerleader for all women. But the first step is drawing a big fat f*cking circle around jealousy when it rears it's ugly head. Not pretending that I'm above it. You can't resolve an issue if you refuse to acknoledge it's existence.
I don't think it's bad to compare yourself to other women just so long as you support them and say, "They work really hard, I want to work just as hard" or "I am inspired by their honesty, vulnerability, and courage. I want to be more authentic as well". We're stronger together. We really are. There's a sisterhood that comes with being female and it's only when we unite and get honest that we're truly unstoppable.
Which brings me back to Oiselle and my time with them. We went to dinner the first night I was there and we ended up talking about our fears. It was incredible to hear what everyone was afraid of. It's easy to feel like your fears are silly compared to someone else's, and that's bull sh*t. For me, my biggest fear is death. Getting a phone call that my mom, dad or family member has died. Or dying and leaving behind my family to have to figure out how to survive without me.
I'm afraid that I don't have enough time to help people find hope or laughter if they're trying to survive a loss or hardship. Every single thing I do is motivated by my own mortality. My life has a series of struggles to overcome really adverse challenges and after my brother passed away, I struggled with surviving without him. I don't think I'm ready to divulge just how difficult life got for me, but standing here to day, I don't take a single moment of my life for granted.
But my fear isn't greater or less than someone else's fear, it's just my fear.
I never would have survived without my people. My squad. My family and my mentors who helped me get out of bed and find purpose. Who helped me live long enough to find my voice. I never would have made it without them.
Which brings me back to the sisterhood. There's something truly remarkable about finding a group of people who challenges you, your views, and who supports you every single step of the way and wants to see you put your strongest foot forward. And then returning the favor.
That's the power of the sisterhood.
Looking towards 2017, I want one thing- to see more people take ownership of their health.
I remember feeling hopeless before I adopted a healthy lifestyle. When I was well over 200 pounds, I never thought I'd be able to lose weight. After I lost the weight, I never thought I'd enjoy being physically active or eating healthy.
But today I do. Or rather, I know that it's possible.
I've run 7 marathons now and running is still really f*cking hard.
I just took an entire month off from running. I'm struggling to run 3 miles. I am getting started all over again and I feel like I'm drowning in doubt, discomfort, and frustration. But the beauty of where I am today is that I know that training will be enjoyable in a few weeks. I know that the hard work pays off. It's feels impossible when you've never been to that place. I get that. But you can't give up. You have to know that getting started is the hardest part.
Next year, I am going to be a bigger voice in helping people take their first steps in adopting a healthy lifestyle and being the strongest, healthiest, and happiest that they can be. I want to help more women join the sisterhood and I want everyone to know that even if you've never been an athletic or active person, the running community is inclusive. There's room for you to join us whenever you're ready.
F*ck new year new you. I don't want a new you. I want you as you are.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.