Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking Outside of Ourselves

Last Wednesday I decided to pack my two younger kids into the jogging stroller while my oldest was at our co-op preschool. I haven't really used this stroller since my third babe was born since it's a two-seater and we are over capacity. I started out my run and was immediately dying! A heavy stroller plus two chubba toddlers=pain for the momma. I've mentioned that my run starts with tons of hills...yeah, it's rough. But I got to the flatter part of the run and because of how hard the beginning was I suddenly felt so much stronger. It made me think about some of my first races. I was always training with the jogging stroller in those days. When the time came for my first race and I didn't have the stroller to push, I felt so good! My run seemed like a total breeze.

All of this got me thinking about trials. I am of the belief that when we are in the midst of trials, the very best thing we can do for ourselves is to find someone else to focus on/carry/push. But it's sometimes so hard to do, right? We get so caught up in how hard things are for us and forget to look around. BUT if we do then we will find that our own trial seems so much easier. Not that their trial is necessarily more difficult than ours, but that the act of looking outside of ourselves can somehow miraculously lighten our own load.

Here's a little personal story about that:

When I was 19 years old and in college, I was in a leadership position for my church. The college that I went to was Ricks College in Rexburg, ID. It was awesome, but that's beside the point. It was also super cold and snowy and dreary come February, which is exactly the point of this story. I was told when I was called to this position that the ladies in my care would suddenly be having a lot of problems come February; mostly because of the dreary weather, but that they would feel very sincerely distraught. I was told to just be aware of that and to help them put their problems in perspective. Well, come February I felt like the door to my shared bedroom was a revolving door of issues. Poor women, all struggling with something different. I wanted so much to help them and would think about what I could say or do to pull them out of their depression. Then I remembered the February warning and realized that what everyone (myself included) needed was to SERVE. So we planned activities around this idea and got several of the ladies involved in adopting a grandparent at the local nursing center. I immediately noticed a difference. I gave that advice individually to some of those who were really struggling - find someone to serve. I no longer had knocks or notes on my door constantly...just a trickle. I shouldn't have been surprised by the dramatic difference, but I was.

I wish that I remembered to do this more often; sometimes it takes me a while. Sometimes I spend several weeks in Poor Me Land before I pull my head out and decide to reach out. There is something miraculous about service. It gives you enough of a boost to pull you out of sadness. I really believe in the power of service!

If you feel so inclined, share a time when service has worked to help you through a tough time.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


So I have this really weird habit - I try to make my husband apologize if he is mean to me in my dreams. Do you ever have those kinds of dreams that are so real that you wake up feeling all of the emotions you were feeling in the dream? I do. And if those emotions are hurt or anger caused by the Hubs wanting to marry someone else or ignoring me when I am trying to pour my heart out, then I will call him at work and tell him how horrible he was in my dream the previous night. And then I am silent, waiting for the apology I totally feel like I deserve. And he is silent, then aghast, that I really want him to apologize for something he didn't do. It's become a big joke between us, but that doesn't mean that I don't still make those phone calls. I'm a real piece of work, I know.

Sometimes we take offense that is really imagined because we jump to conclusions or take a position without having all of the information. Have you ever done this? Heard one little comment or bit of information and become frustrated, irate, hurt, offended? Please tell me I'm not the only one.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. I have been the one to unknowingly cause offense and realized that I recently have felt hurt by something without having all of the information. I want to be better about that. I think that having enough information is the key! There are few people in the world who intend to hurt others, so if we start down the road of hurt and offense, why not take the time to see if that road really needs to be traveled? Get more information, ask some questions, and make your choice. Because it is a choice. Most of the time (all of the time?), I think, that road could be totally bypassed if we had more information. Let's travel the road of love and understanding instead.

*I would like to note that my husband is the opposite of that man who occasionally haunts my dreams - I guess that's why it is so distressing. In real life he is kind, faithful, and a good listener. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011


Pardon my absence. I wasn't feeling inspired or inspiring and I don't want to post just to post. So today I'll do a combination post/forum question.

Last summer I ran in the Rock n' Roll Seattle half marathon. It was the biggest race I had ever been a part of - 30,000+ people! When I signed up I had to give my estimated pace/finish time so that they could put me into a specific corral. I was about 5 months post-baby and hadn't trained much, but decided to write down the time I'd done in my first half, just to push myself. Well, race morning was crazy. I had to walk/jog about two miles to get to the start line and then stood in an eternal line of people for the Honey Bucket (that's NW speak for port-a-potty). I saw the sea of runners moving as I stood in that line and thought, "Oh well, I'll miss my corral. It probably doesn't matter much anyway."

Well, I finished my business, ran to the start line, and saw that my corral would be the next group through...I'd made it after all! I climbed a little gate while a man yelled at me because I wasn't supposed to do that and grouped myself with my people - the people who said that they could finish a half in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Turns out my decision to be ambitious about my time was mostly a good one; I ran much faster than I would have because the people around me were running at a good pace. So even though I was struggling a bit, I kept running because slowing down would slow others down to get around me (the course was packed).

Then we got to the last mile and I was done. That's a problem when you still have a mile left. Darn me for not training more! I was so frustrated. I just couldn't get a good, sustainable pace. And when I stopped my legs would severely cramp. Stopping was no good, running was no good. It was rough. But no matter how fast or slow, I was still surrounded by people who were inspiring me to give a little more. I also saw others who were struggling like me. I said to a few runners, "Oh my gosh, when is this thing going to be over?!" "WHERE is the freaking finish line?!" I wanted someone to commiserate with; misery loves company. It felt like that last mile was really 2 or 3, but then I heard the crowd of people at the finish line which gave me the boost I needed. I was in tears and in pain. But finish I did...7 minutes behind my projected time, mostly because of that final, excruciating mile.

We are never really alone in life. We are surrounded by millions of people who are moving in the same the ultimate finish line. I think it is so important who we surround ourselves with. I think it's important to have friends and acquaintances who inspire us to be our best. I think it's important to take our eyes off of the finish sometimes and see who might be struggling so that we can help. I think it's important to set our sights high, to put ourselves in an ambitious corral, because often we can do more than we think. However, if I had put myself in a corral with people projected to finish an hour faster than I thought I could, I would have been discouraged and depressed the entire race. So we should also know our limitations in certain areas and be comfortable with them. I think it's important to be proud of your efforts even when you fall short; it took me several weeks to be okay that I finished so much slower than I'd wanted to...I wish that I hadn't wasted that time. My best is good enough, and my best is different in different times and different situations.

Fab Forum Friday Question:

What have you learned from times in your life when you've been placed in, or chosen to be in, an ambitious "corral"?