Turn and face the strain

Around this time last year, Dan and I were preparing for our trip to Colorado. I have had the good fortune in my life to visit some pretty spectacular places. One summer in college, we traveled around in Europe. A few years back, we visited my brother in Cartegena, Colombia. I’ve been to Honolulu; hiked Diamond Head and relaxed on Waikiki. We’ve done Sonoma wine country twice. We drove down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a trip that I recommend everyone take at some point their lives. It’s amazingly beautiful. I have explored many places and relaxed many places, but none was as instantly restorative and peaceful as hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I do not possess a quiet mind. My head is constantly churning with anxieties both trivial and significant. Did I remember to feed the dog this morning, or is my memory of feeding him actually of yesterday’s feeding and he is sitting at home now, hungry and wondering why I don’t love him enough to meet his most basic needs? Is the bathroom fan still running? There’s no real problem if it is, but surely it’s a waste of energy and what if something happens and it shorts out and sparks and something in the bathroom catches fire. Unlikely, but it’s always the unlikely things that sneak up and surprise us when we’re not looking. What should I really be doing with my life? Am I working hard enough? Too hard? Should I be doing more for others or focusing more energy on myself? What if I live my entire life without feeling truly satisfied with the contribution I’ve made? Does searching for satisfaction pretty much guarantee you’ll never find it?

These are the thoughts that run through my mind in a constant loop day in and and day out, and I am completely powerless to stop them. My mind is never quiet, not even for a second. Except for one time, when Dan and I paused briefly on our journey to Chasm Lake and, not having to climb over boulders or watch my footing on the trail beneath me, I could really take in the mountains surrounding me. There’s something about being both cold because the wind is whipping around you, and sweltering because the sun is beating down on your skin, while the world stretches out far below you and still far above you in every direction–your mind, or my mind at least, was stunned into silence. I felt clear and open, and for one of the very few times in my life, I was at peace. It didn’t matter where my life was headed or where it had been. What I had done, what I was doing, what I would do in the future, or try to do but ultimately fail. None of it mattered in that moment. I felt good to just be myself, in that place, at that time, taking in the world around me. It felt good to just be me, without any questioning, or any concern about being someone better, smarter, more accomplished than I am. It’s a feeling that I’ve been chasing ever since. A feeling I’ve been trying and failing to recreate for almost a year now. I thought I would find it by stripping away all the clutter of my life–the messy relationships, the aimless hobbies, all of the excess noise and chatter that fills the in the gaps of my life, but provides no clear direction.

I am currently training for my first marathon. It is hard, much harder than training for the half marathons and other races that I have done before. I can feel myself growing stronger and stronger with each run in a way that I’ve never felt before, and that excites and motivates me. But there are days when the desire to not run is stronger than any emotion I’ve ever experienced. I sit on the edge of my couch, fully dressed in running gear, shoes on, ready to go, bargaining with myself. It’s like a hostage negotiation in which I am playing every role. So far I have been lucky in that once I am out and running, the struggle disappears. I haven’t hit any walls yet, but I know they’re coming. I’ve asked Dan–who has run his fair share of marathons in the past–what I can do to avoid hitting a wall and his answer is almost refreshingly simple: nothing. I’ve asked him what I should do when I inevitably hit a wall, and again his reply is concise: just keep going, as best as you can.

This year has been a tough one for me. Socially, mentally, emotionally, personally, I have hit a wall again and again without recognizing that that’s what I have been experiencing. And each time I have tried to find a way of avoiding it, of going around it to continue searching for that clear and open feeling I experienced for a fleeting moment high up in the mountains nearly a year ago. I have been turning away from the wall, when all this time I should have been pushing through it and moving forward as best as I can.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I am just going to keep moving forward, and doing all of the little things that may bring clutter, but also bring joy to my life. I am starting a whole new line of jewelry that I hope to launch on my store in the next few weeks. I am going to return to blogging regularly, though I have decided to expand this from just a recipe blog. I’ll have more posts about the projects I am working on, the things I am doing, both everyday and out of the ordinary, and the way I am feeling about my life and work and everything in between. I’ll continue posting recipes as well, because I really have been eating some good food, but I’m planning to turn this into a space for more than that.

It’s about 12:15 on Tuesday afternoon. I am off from work today. I have spent the morning working on jewelry. It’s about time I head out for today’s run. I’ll be picking up this week’s CSA share later this afternoon and planning some recipes for the week. Posts on those things and more will follow in the days and weeks to come. It’s time for me to get moving. Thank you as always, for following alongside me.





One thought on “Turn and face the strain

  1. I loved reading this post! Wow, that trip was already a year ago?! Crazy. I’m constantly in awe of the things you take on, the passion with which you pursue them and the way you write…so please do keep moving forward. I can’t wait to follow in your footsteps! 🙂 Hopefully one day I’ll train for a marathon too…not sure my knees will agree, but it’s worth a shot.

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