Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Story of a Name

As a creative prairie girl, I love how big blue skies reflect the possibility of beginnings -- a new season, the potential of an idea, the birth of a newborn into the world. With the ongoing baby boom happening in my spiritual family at church, I've wandered into many conversations with my parent-friends on why they chose their child's name.

Do you know the meaning of your name? Or the story of how your name was chosen? 

Justine has a clear, obvious meaning: just, righteous, fair. Growing up, I always knew the meaning of my name given its plain, unhidden meaning. 

Until recently I felt quite disconnected from living the kind of life pronounced over me by my given name. When I think "just," I think black and white, holding to what is right and true. In contrast, I am often trying to come up with "creative" ways to evade or bend the rules; more often than I'd like to admit I am constantly trying to make up my own rules. Like trying to ride further on the skytrain than my ticket allows, or lying to get a student discount because I look younger than my age. I'm not proud of this, but I can't deny it. 

As I walk further in life with my Creator God, I am continually learning that nothing is random given his sovereign care. Just as a protagonist of an adventure growing into their calling and mission (like Frodo, anyone else excited about the Hobbit movies coming out?), I am slowly coming alive to a life that honours the name my mother gave me.

I have not thought much about why I was given this name, other than recognizing its pragmatic nature; if I was a boy, I would have been called Justin. In February at the Justice Conference, the brilliant canvas made of giant white letters spelling out JUSTICE stared at me throughout the conference, reminding me of my name. My friends also commented that they kept thinking it was my name up on stage. 

As I've been awakening to and grappling with the injustices I see around the world, I asked my mom the other day the story of my name. 

My mother is a learner, curious about life, constantly reading, taking in news, mulling over ideas, exploring creatively. At the time she was pregnant with me, she was heavily into biographies of historical influential figures, including Woodrow Wilson, and others like him. She was inspired by these leaders' ideals and persevering commitment to pursuing peace, justice, and a better world. 

And so she named me Justine. To drive the point home, she carefully picked my Chinese name to complement it further. The first character means "ideals and knowledge." The second means "far reaching, long lasting." Her vision in naming me was for me to commit lifelong to realizing ideals like justice and peace in the world. 

Though I feel far from it, I'm inspired by this vision. I'm thankful for the many conversations and people Jesus has led me to experience to slowly shake me from my slumber. 

My eyes were opened to the surprising (not what you might expect) faces of the marginalized during a city mission trip to the poor in Vancouver back in 1999 as a student. A community of people at my church challenge me to pray and engage actively and regularly with the needs of others beyond my comfort zone. A community of beautiful and strong women at SheLoves inspire me as they pave the way forward with their lives of compassion and courage to stand up for mercy and hope to those who cannot stand or raise their voice due to horrible injustices. 

I am still in the middle of the story, exploring, thinking and praying about what it looks like for me to stay awake and walk the way Jesus is leading me to live. I want to stay sensitive to his Spirit inviting me to choose to engage rather than giving into fear, comfort, or numbing myself with useless distractions. I want to grow in being okay with feeling overwhelmed with the pain and needs around me, because at least to feel means I’m alive.

It can be too much at times to think of all the injustice around the world, and even those that I perpetrate within my own heart. But lest despair swallow me, I only need to lift my eyes to see how Jesus took injustice head on. And he won. And that is how I can have hope to continue in this story. 

This post is part of a synchro blog over at the SheLoves community on being AWAKE. Go on over there and read some (or all!) of the other posts to shake your heart alive and inspire your eyes open.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Addiction + Compulsion = Love Letter?

Look how excited I am about the impending food!
I love food. I love pretty much everything about it (except for the calories, which we'll get to later.) I love eating food. Exploring it creatively with new recipes. Talking ideas with fellow foodies. Embarrassing friends by taking pictures of food in fancy restaurants. I feel cheated if a friend’s Facebook photos of a vacation doesn’t include a good gallery of food.

But when is a good pleasure too much? I love food...a little too much. Planning what I’m going to eat next. Obsessing and feeling guilty about what I’ve already eaten. Mindless binge eating to cope with stress or find comfort in sadness. I can secretly scarf down an entire box of ___ (insert whatever I’m eating, mostly junky, sometimes healthy but still in excess).

I have for years identified as a food addict. When I openly confess it, most laugh it off and chalk it up to my foodie-ness. But I don’t use the word “addiction” lightly. This isn't a laughing a matter for me. The role that food plays in my life and just how extensively it controls me is no joke. When I do experience small victories of resisting temptation, I’m amazed at just how much intentionality, prayer, and planning it takes to win one small resistance. It feels like a constant war.

I’ve warded off the consequences of my binges with another compulsive behaviour – what I’ve now come to recognize as exercise bulimia. As a teen taking in a steady diet of fashion magazines, I did read the occasional article on eating disorders. I knew I wasn’t anorexic. And I wasn’t bulimic, because I had clearly never made myself throw up to reverse a binge. Instead I would wake at 6am to exercise secretly in the basement to purge the calories. To this day I still work to be aware of my motivations before working out.

The war between the binging and purging takes its toll on my body. I trash talk my body all the time. Mostly my criticism is heavy with “you’re not good enough,” which is a broken record that plays in other areas too.

I know that one of the steps to lasting change is to replace the old with the new. And while I’m still primarily in the stage of weeding out the roots of my food habits, I know I must also begin visualizing a different way of thinking.

I started journaling some thoughts to my body awhile ago. Then SheLoves challenged us with a writing prompt to write a love letter to your body. And another blog I read today dared us to take more risks. Well this qualifies as scary for me. 

But after reading all the bold honesty in the flood of blog posts of beautiful, breath-taking, inspiring love letters, I can't not do it. These women from all ends of the spectrum (from “Body, I still hate you,” to “Body, I love and embrace you,”) give me courage and hope for the journey ahead.

So let’s start the conversation, shall we? "Dear Body of mine..."

Love Letter to (Three Parts of) My Body

Sorry for the harshness I've put you through
I started journaling some thoughts to my body awhile ago. Then SheLoves challenged us with a writing prompt to write a love letter to your body. And another blog I read today dared us to take more risks. Well this qualifies as scary for me. 

But after reading all the bold honesty in the flood of blog posts of beautiful, breath-taking, inspiring love letters, I can't not do it. These women from all seasons of life and both ends of the spectrum (from “Body, I still hate you,” to “Body, I love and embrace you,”) give me courage and hope for the journey ahead. So let’s start the conversation, shall we? 

Dear body of mine,

Where do I start? It’s such a foreign language. You know I’m not used to speaking kindly with you. Though I know I haven’t typically been gentle with you, I ask you to be gentle with me as I try to form a new habit in the way I talk to you. I’m sorry it is taking me so long to awaken to just how much I need to change how I see you. 

I knew there was something twisted with the way I thought about you when I put on jeans that felt a little too tight, two weeks before I was about to run you through a full marathon. I knew the ridiculousness of feeling depressed about feeling fat from freshly-shrunken-jeans-from-the-dryer, when instead, I should be amazed at your strength to be able to do such silly physical feats. 

While there are a lot of little things I could more easily thank you for (and I promise to get to that later, now that we’ve got this conversation in the open...), but I want to start this new dialogue by speaking to where I have criticized you the most harshly. Because I know that the years of negativity (for as long as I can remember) will take more time to melt and change.

To my lower limbs: You know I’ve struggled with you being a “pear” shaped body, where the weight never seems to come off your butt and thighs. I’m grateful for all the strength you contain. You’re not flimsy by any stretch. You’re muscular. And all the fat that I resent you holding onto? This is the extra glycogen reserves you’re capable of storing. This is what carries me through a long run and makes me a better long distance runner. 

And to my belly: Every morning I look at you in the mirror first. You get a lot of attention from me, but mostly negative. But you are the gut that takes all that good food and digests it, translating it to energy to fuel all of life’s adventures. You are the part that hurts (in a good way) when I get into a rare uncontrollable laughing fit. While I do not know if you’ll ever carry life in your womb in our time on earth, the fact that you were created with the ability to conceive and give life is pretty miraculous and amazing.

And finally, ending on the toughest-on-the-outside, yet most-tender-on-the-inside part that I’ve cursed my whole life: my skin. You are my largest organ, which is a bragging right in itself. Yet you have taken the most time and energy, because of your rough eczema since the day I was born. You know I hate the countless hours and sleepless nights I’ve spent scratching, moisturizing, soaking in long showers to exfoliate layer after layer. I've probably given you years, if not decades of my time and energy. 

I’ve used you as an excuse to not go out because I feel you’re making me too ugly on a rougher day. I have resented you for being such a visible part of my physical appearance that people can’t help but notice right away. I've given death-stares to innocently curious children on the skytrain who sneak peeks at my skin. I despised being the child that the adults would talk about. Even though I knew it was concern that they spoke about the condition of my skin at every social gathering, I hated feeling singled out. I just wanted to be a kid with normal skin and fit in.

Yet you amaze me, that you regenerate so quickly. I can go to bed one night with an open crack in my finger joint, yet I can awake with the crack healed and sealed over miraculously after a good night of rest. And you have been making a slow but certain journey of healing. Though you will probably always be on the dry side, many of the major patches of eczema of childhood you have healed, even without my intentional attention or effort. You keep me accountable for what I eat by reacting after I feed you junky or allergic foods. You don’t let me get away with it. And you respond to my better choices with further progress in healing when I aim to take better care of you, inside and out.

And most of all, you are the part of this physical body I’ve been given for my time on earth, that acts as a “thorn in my flesh” for my good. This physical weakness makes me all the more dependent on God’s grace to be sufficient. I am thankful for the countless times I have heard and felt God draw near in my struggle. You've made me stronger in God's view of me; for better or worse, because of you, I've developed an "I don't care what others think of how it looks, I'm going to go ahead and live my life anyway" attitude.

How was that? I feel like that’s a good enough of a start. In many ways, there are multiple layers to shed in this conversation about how I see you, about how I want to see you more compassionately. It’s going to take a lot more dialogue, growth, and grace to get me to the place where I truly can say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” But hear me loud and clear, I want to go there with you. Hold that thought... until the next time we talk very soon.

Thanks for listening. I'll do my best to listen better to you too.

Miss J. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Creative Fingerprints

Preparing for my first paid calligraphy job of the year. Wish I could have this clean desk in a separate room as a dedicated studio. The dreaming continues!
Some people believe in fate. Others in coincidences. I believe in God-incidences.

I've written before about how I died and came back to life, and how when I came back, I questioned everything of who I was before the burnout. I've also shared how God gave creativity back to me delightfully and unexpectedly through a series of specifically timed opportunities.

I recognize the same divine fingerprints again, the pattern of multiple unsolicited creative jobs coming in a short period.

Shortly after I began the Writer's Challenge, I am quiet enough to recognize the inner voice of my scary dream calling out. Then I declare it out loud, almost accidentally: I am a calligrapher

Five days later, an old friend commissions me for a calligraphy piece. Two days after that, I receive an email from a total stranger. "Can you do calligraphy for me?" Umm, yeah! But how did you get my email contact? And did someone tell you about my declaration? It turns out he was sent by an old classmate who advertised her graphic design services on Craigslist. Calligraphy was beyond her scope.

I battle my usual fear. What if I can't translate their vision into reality? What if my style isn't what they're looking for? (This is a heightened concern especially when it's a friend who comes straight to me without shopping around to see if other styles suit their vision better.) I fear the day when I fail to deliver a client's vision.

Of course it is an irrational fear. Both have generously showered me with their positive feedback. Oh, the flood of relief that comes when they like a sketched concept in the first pass! I'm excited to buy new supplies as my old paints dried up with the last creative drought.

So I saw another fingerprint today, while taking a break after starting this blog last night. Today I receive an automated email from Behance, an online community of creative professionals. Apparently last year I began setting up an account for an online portfolio in my last creative spurt, but I didn't finish. Thus the email prompt to resume the account and showcase my work online.

Browsing others' portfolios triggers a whole host of other insecurities. It's one thing for my friends and family to say I'm talented, but it's another fear to share my work with a professional community who can recognize the difference between beginner's skill and a well-formed craft. Their work, and this Writer's Challenge, has given me a sober view of my need to practice and hone my ability. But they have also inspired me to do just that and cultivate what I've been given. 

While I do that, I'll keep my eyes and heart tuned for the next fingerprint. Because divine fingerprints, and the One whose hands they belong to, give me courage to face my fears.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I am a Calligrapher

Apparently Picasso said, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." Or as  the wise King Solomon said, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

One of the reasons I prefer calligraphy over drawing is that drawing is not my forte. When my handwriting is on what I call "good behaviour," accentuated by a smooth pen with the perfect point, a sheet of thick paper, on a just-right surface, I can write something and it can look artistic or beautiful without me doing much else to it.

I may not have been born with stunning supermodel looks, but I was given great penmanship. Some of my artist friends think in images a lot, but for me, I love the forms of the letters themselves. I like to play with how letters fit together in a word, or in a phrase in a given space.

There's a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that I love about the pen nib gliding across a physical page. During a defining time of transition and decision making a few years ago, I switched my journaling from paper to electronic, because I type faster than I can write. The thoughts were flowing too fast for me to journal old school with pen and paper. But after the transition passed, I went back to my beloved pen and paper.

When I'm working on a piece for someone who wants some elements of drawing included with the words, I usually have a freakout internally. I fight the usual barrage of doubts, "What if I can't draw the style they're looking for? What if I can't draw the item in a way that is intelligible and recognizable?"

But then, I am saved by the act of stealing. I google to find what other illustrators have done. And then I copy it in the most simple style that I can. For example, I'm working on a piece that is to include a golden retriever. How in the world do I draw it so that it looks like a dog and not some abstract art or worse, a butchered animal? Fortunately, as a calligrapher, the words are the main focus, not the images. (To be clear, the act of thievery today in the image above is a stolen quote, not a stolen image.)

Oh my! Did you catch that? I almost missed it myself... That's the first time I've ever called myself that! It totally just slipped out on its own. Looks like we're back to a Day 1 declarationI am a calligrapher. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 5: Prepare

Two steps ago on the Great Writer's Challenge, I decided to start and resurrect an old creative dream of mine. This dream doesn't exactly have to do with pure writing, but it does have to do with words. I am not revealing the full dream yet, but it does include calligraphy. So wherever possible for the rest of this challenge, I am going to use the accountability provided by the challenge to try to keep breathing that dream to life. This means there will be less pure writing posts, and more calligraphy.

I'm being quite literal with these challenges, for this step of "preparing" includes shipping something out, and getting feedback. So here is an old piece I did that has a possible connection to my future dream.

I'm going to leave it super open ended. What do you think? Where could you see something like this being used, shown, or printed?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Day 3: Just Do It!

So Day 3 on the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge is: INITIATE. In other words, just do it. Start already! And every day is a new chance to start, again. 

I'm a terrible starter. Even waking up to get the day started is a momentous task. I can procrastinate for several hours on a task that takes only one hour to finish. Getting into a groove is really hard for me. My running personality mirrors this struggle. The first few miles are just sluggish where all I want to do is quit. This happens every time I run, guaranteed. And pretty much everywhere else in life, I naturally resist starting.

But enough procrastinating by whining about how much I hate starting. So the challenge assignment is to:
  1. Choose yourself. Write down "I am a_____" somewhere secret.
  2. Start something you're scared of.
I really had to think about this, because there are no natural instincts or dreams within me to choose anything related specifically to writing to fill in that blank. As for starting something I'm scared of, I have the same struggle with no natural fears related to writing. I have never dreamed about publishing a book or becoming an author...

... but I have dreamed another creative dream for a long time. The dream died with my burnout, but then it emerged again, quite unexpectedly. The fire burned for about half a year, but now, the embers have been burning low for the past year.

That scary dream is the one I think I'm going to try starting again. I filled in the blank and wrote it in big, bold, all caps letters. And I'm going to keep it a secret. And I'm going to pull out my old musings on the dream. Let's get the party started again!

What's your scary hope? What's a dream that needs to be resurrected?
What's one small step that you can take to get started?

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Day 2: Wait and Believe

Since I've been given life again after burnout, life has been... full. I'm thankful for renewed energy to engage meaningfully in relationships and work. With all that's been swirling on, both growth inside my heart, and outside around me, it seems perhaps a bit odd to be feel like I'm in waiting. At work we're waiting for some doors of partnership to open. Personally, I'm waiting for clarity in my creative dreams and relational hopes. And yet again, I'm waiting for the right roommate to come along in the right time.

Working with my team at Prayer Current, we've been talking and praying through the idea of "waiting in prayer." One of the key places this idea comes from is Jesus' last interactions with the disciples after his resurrection. After giving the disciples a clear mission, you'd think they were good to go out and accomplish the mission! Yes Jesus told them to wait, and stay in the city until they received power from on high. They had the mission, but they needed to be equipped with the power to do it.

I'm increasingly struck by just how opposite Jesus' kingdom values are with how our natural human wisdom works. We live in a world that tells you to charge ahead and create your own destiny. But my story as a follower of Jesus includes a character much greater and more powerful than me who takes a central focus in the story of my life. God created me, knitted me together in my mother's womb, and gives me breath each day. He is the author of my life.

So if God is the one writing my story, I want to check in with him, talk with him, listen and wait, to see what the next steps are, to see the direction to come, to get all that I need to move forward. Even more, I need to get to know the Author more, so that I can recognize him and his voice, and trust that he can write a way better story than I ever could!

Waiting is not just sitting around, doing nothing, twiddling my thumbs, expecting everything to fall from the sky into my lap with no effort on my part. I'm talking about the kind of waiting where there is action happening... below the surface, often undetected to the natural eye. This kind of waiting is a time of formation, involving almost always a subtle (or sometimes drastic) growth in my heart, and sometimes a stirring of external circumstances and timing before a door opens to walk through. It takes discernment and a supernatural eye to recognize the action that happens in waiting, internally and externally.

Right now it feels a bit like I'm pregnant. I'm leaning toward, expecting, anticipating something within me that feels like it's growing and forming. Never mind that I'm not sure exactly what I'm giving birth to exactly, though I have some early conceptions. I guess it's still too early to tell if it's a boy or a girl.

Yesterday was Day 2 in the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge. The second habit of great writers Jeff Goin introduced was, "Believe." He writes, "We choose to see the invisible inside ourselves and bring it to light." When I wait in prayer, it's a foundational step in believing -- choosing to believe God's power, choosing to receive and believe the "divine invisible" that's been placed inside me, and letting Jesus call out the light. 

I love Jeff's counterintuitive practicality here, "How do we turn something like belief into action? We don't. Not yet, anyway. Instead, we marinate... We become what we fixate on. So today, believe it. Tomorrow, do it." The way he describes it, believing sounds a lot like "waiting" to me. Wait/Believe. Respond/Act. Believe. Act. This is the rhythm of walking in belief and faith, as a Writer, and as a follower of Jesus.

Where are you needing to wait, believe, marinate?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Day 1: I Declare I'm A...

There's something of a pattern of reluctance towards putting any "labels" on myself.... I don't call myself a runner (even though I've run ridiculous distances). And I certainly don't call myself a writer (even though I have this on-again-off-again blog). Somehow I am more comfortable with calling myself a "person who runs" or a "person who writes." 

This slight technical difference in words makes me feel less defined by the action, or less committed to the image of the label. Somehow I've managed to concoct some specific view of what I think a good writer should be. I don't write like ___, whose authentic and transparent voice I admire. I'm not sarcastic and smart in my writing like ____. I won't get you rolling on the floor laughing like ____. I'm not even a grammar geek or grammar nazi. My vocabulary feels too simple. I'm not a strong reader, so how could I be a good writer? I mean, who goes and gets a Bachelors in Communication, deliberately avoiding taking a single English class? 

To declare I am a writer feels like too much accountability to let anyone outside my own head hear it. In the world of my head, I am safe and content to simply dream up ideas, but never really act on them. I remember talking with some close friends about some ideas I was excited to explore. Several months later, I ran into one of them shopping at a craft show. As we caught up, she asked, "So, how's it going with getting _____ going?" Oops, did I share that idea out loud? Can I take it back?

Recently I was doing an online quiz where you had to choose the best word out of each set of four words that best describes you. There was a defining parameter - to choose your answer based on what you were like as a child. It actually tripped me up a little because in a lot of ways I have changed. But I think what they were getting at was the idea that we are often our most natural selves in childhood, with the least inhibitions and piles of fears or hurt that inevitably accumulate as we grow into adults navigating our way through life in the world. 

It got me thinking about the intense, unfiltered, fearless little girl I used to be. This writing challenge reminded me that I used to create illustrated story books  when I was about 8. I wrote a simple story line, and I even drew some pictures (though I still claim I can't draw to save my life now). 

What happened to her? I think it's time to respond to the divine whisper I heard in my heart not long ago to write more. I think it's time to call her out again.

Hey, World! I declare I am a writer.  
This post is my effort in taking up Jeff Goin's Day 1 of Great Habits of Writers Challenge

Friday, May 11, 2012

I'm still here... and still running

I'm done apologizing for my blogging infrequency. Life on the other side of burnout has brought me to a growing acceptance of who I am and how I roll. I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal, including my blogging frequency. Just call me a binge-blogger, posting a bunch at a time, and then nothing. I will blog whenever I'm inspired to blog, and stop apologizing every time I come back (so Canadian I know, eh?).

Now is an apt time for me to dive back in where I left off. Yep, I'm still here.... and I'm still running. This is a shock most of all to me. My all-or-nothing ways lead me to chew through a new pursuit intensely, and then move on to something else, sometimes never to return again. Yet somehow, even on the other side of winter, I'm still running. While my sister, whom I hold responsible (i.e. delegating the blame) for all this running ridiculousness, is a hard core runner and will do races in the dark, at night, in the heaviest of pouring rain, I am a fairweather runner. If it's anything more than lightly sprinkling, running for cover is the type of running you'll see me do.

After the first marathon I did in October, I swore I would never subject myself to that kind of pain again. Ever. Though I had trained hard and was in good shape, I made a critical yet classic newbie mistake of starting off too fast, and fell apart two thirds of the way through the race. Way too early I hit the "Wall" dreaded by all runners (when your body has used up every ounce of energy and you feel like you can't go on.) While I did manage to finish that race with a lot of walking (I would have crawled if I could have), the last third was so brutal and full of pain I'd rather not re-live.

Eventually memory of the pain wore off enough that I egged my sister on to sign up for her first full marathon, offering to do it with her if she took my dare. And she took the challenge! (Serves me right!)

The lessons and goals matured from my first to second race. The first time, I wanted to finish, and aim for a specific time (which I surrendered to the wind when I fell apart). This time, my goal was quality over quantity. My major aim was to run a better race, especially in how I ran the race. I didn't even care if my time was slower, I just didn't want to feel like I was going to die half way through like last time. And I wanted to finish strong, rather than slowing to a crawl near the finish line. Applying my painfully acquired lessons from the first race, I managed to run the whole race with only five brief walking breaks, with the bonus icing on the cake that I shaved five minutes off my previous time (which was unexpected!). The cherry on top was having energy (barely) to help my sister run the last leg of her race.

The end result was still the same (a finished race) but I felt so much better and enjoyed it more the second time (or at least all the photos with my cheesy grins would lead you to believe I was actually having fun out there, rather than enduring the foot abuse). I hope I can keep applying a few key lessons to finish the "race of life" strong:

  • Purpose and preparation is key. To know your goal and approach, and to have a direction is invaluable in life. You may not rock the plan every time or you may have some "off" days, but sticking to your direction overall prepares you and builds momentum for the finish (if you pace yourself... see below). Truth be told, I probably only stuck to the plan two thirds of the time, and there were other variables that meant my condition was weaker going into this race, but I knew where I was headed.
  • Pacing and refuelling is everything. For running, this includes pacing your training with enough recovery time so you don't injure yourself (the plan I use is actually called "Run Less, Run Faster" which is contrary to some of the approaches out there that go for mass volume of miles), and tapering (reducing your miles) to reserve energy for race day. And of course, managing your pace and energy, including breaks, water, and fuel, during the actual race, so you have enough in your tank to actually finish the race.

    This is probably the greatest life lesson running long distances has taught me. I used to try to push at an intense pace constantly and feel frustrated I wasn't always effective. Then I hit the Wall of living unsustainably. I burnt out. My body, mind, and heart shut down and wouldn't let me live as I had before. After a lot of recalibration and soul surgery with Jesus shining light on my inner drives and needs gone awry, I emerged out of the darkness into a new way of living and approaching the race of life. I now live more according to "seasons," knowing that if I am approaching a busy or difficult uphill stretch, I give myself permission to slow down before (to conserve energy) and after (to restore energy).
  • Traveling light is wise. In running you may not notice in shorter distances if you're carrying a pack full of stuff, even useful things. But the further you go, the more you feel the burden of every extra ounce of weight that you carry. You actually want to throw it off. In life, I see the wisdom of travelling with less and less as we go further, rather than going for more and more. Less emotional baggage. Less unhealthy expectations. Less material stuff. All this just weighs you down, keeps you from running and enjoying the race, and maybe even hinders you from finishing the race.
And so, we'll see where this running journey leads... I suspect I'll keep on keeping on, just because I am a learning junkie and love all the metaphors to be had (and a glutton for pain, apparently!).