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The Big Picture

My daughter and I have been training for a 10K together.  For true runners, that’s probably not a big deal.  But, I’m not a true runner. Up until about a year ago, I only ran if there was danger involved. But, my daughter wanted to do this. And, we had a good cause to support. So, we signed on and began training. It’s been a nice challenge…with challenge being the key word.  And, it got me thinking about all the stories I have in my head…there are a lot of them, and I’m betting I’m not the only one out there carrying stories around.

Just look at what I said earlier…I’m not a true runner.  We’re all actually able to run soon after walking. Some of us just do it more than others.  So, really, we’re all true runners. We just need to put it to use. I was thinking about that the other day as I came up on 2.5 miles of running. I have a herniated disc that has kept me from doing more than light weights, yoga and brisk walking for years. But why? When I pushed myself just a bit…first to step up my fitness program as I get older, then to meet this challenge my daughter set for us, I’ve been able to do it.

Yet, I’m still telling myself I won’t be able to run 6 whole miles in just 2 weeks.  I need to stop that…seriously.  Just one month ago, I didn’t think I could run more than 3 miles, which I did just last week after a little hard work and a little practice. Ok…a lot of practice and a lot of touchy, feel-y “self-talk.”  At least the self-talk has evolved.  A year ago, while running short 3 minute intervals, my self-talk consisted solely of “You’re not going to die. You can do this. You’re not going to die. You can do this,” said over and over in my head to drown out the huffing and puffing of my gasping breaths. Today, as I run, I’m more likely to think about the reasons why I’m running. And, only toward the end do I have to lightly remind myself, “You can do this.”  I haven’t thought of dying during running in months…throwing up, maybe, but not dying!

As I ran yesterday, I kept focusing on the reasons.  Like I said, it started as a move to be more healthy. Then, it became something I could do with my daughter. She’s nearly 13. It’s getting harder and harder to find things we can do together that don’t horrify and embarrass her. This seems to be a safe one. So, I start focusing on that…this is good for us. We’re setting good examples for each other. From there, it grows…I’m so proud of her. She’s such a hard worker and she wanted to do this. She drove the idea. Even better, she insisted we do it to raise funds for the Myotonic Dystrophy association, in honor of our baby cousin born with this terrible illness. That makes my mind wander to Baby Kate and her fight. “That’s really why I’m doing this,” I think. “For her!” I mean she doesn’t get to slow down or stop her fight when things get hard. She, at younger than 2, pushes through. And, even though she wasn’t supposed to ever walk, she pushed through enough to walk with a walker and…this week even…take steps independently. It’s incredible.

Still, my mind doesn’t settle there. I run along and realize it’s the sum of the whole. It’s all those things. It’s the big picture. It’s about pushing yourself, doing more…for many reasons…and living life. I told a friend the other day that I never say never. We were talking about the very important topic of Botox. Well…really, we were talking about getting older…a common theme with me that you may have noticed. (Don’t worry if you are getting annoyed with hearing it from me…you are not alone..I’m getting tired of the topic as well…it’s actually the only thing really getting old around here!)  Anyway, while talking with my friend. I got laughing about sitting across from a woman in a meeting the other day. She clearly Botoxes and had either just recently done it or had a Botox treatment gone bad because she was a living, breathing stereotype of every Botox joke you’ve ever heard. She was sitting there, listening to the speaker kind of drone on…no need for any facial expression, yet her face gave the appearance of someone who was startled, surprised. Her eyebrows were permanently arched up, her eyes wide. It was incredible to look at.

I sat there, not listening to the speaker drone on, but, instead, coming up with my story about her. She must think she looks great, but can’t she see what happened there? Does she realize that her need for perfection just made her look odd and a little sad? When I was recounting this to my friend on the phone, she said, “I’ve done it. I got so over being old and getting more wrinkles that I did it…Botox.  But, I panicked afterward. My one eyebrow kept rising and I couldn’t stop it. It scared me to death. My husband didn’t even notice, but I did.”  We laughed hysterically. I went on and on about how I’d seen it done well so many times, but maybe that’s what happened to this woman I was with earlier in the week. And I realized that I hadn’t really considered the big picture. I made up my story about how she was so into herself that she went overboard on the Botox. Yet, she, like me, was probably just trying to find a way to make herself feel good. She, like my friend, may have just given it a try for the hell of it and had it go a little wrong. And, most likely, she was sitting there not truly listening to the speaker drone on but wondering if anyone noticed that her eyebrows had gone insanely out of whack.

Let’s face it, that’s why I said “never say never”…because, even after that experience, I may Botox some day. I’d certainly consider non-poisonous wrinkle fillers if I had the disposable income to take it on. And, then, will people have stories about me?  I’m sure they will. And, I’m betting, like me, they wouldn’t consider the big picture…they’d be short-sighted and judgemental…just like I’m prone to be.

So, all that ran through my head as my feet pounded along on yesterday’s run trying not to notice the searing pain of a cramp in my shoulder, the lunch from 3 hours before that felt like a brick in my stomach or the gasping breaths I was taking. And then, of course, in the midst of the pain, my mind jumped to work. What big picture thoughts am I missing there?  It hit me that I like what I do but I often spend time focused on the day-to-day stories, the frustrations of daily work life, the people/personality issues, the challenges. I began wondering what makes some people at work push through more than others on those fronts, and I realized it’s that they focus on the big picture. They don’t let the small challenges or the minutes or hours get them down, they think about the ultimate goal, the real long-term benefits. For me, that’s showing my kids an example of a woman who can hold a big job and still be a caring, loving Mom who participates in their schools, their activities, their lives.  It’s showing them that work is necessary to have the things we need and a little bit extra. And, it gets me thinking about how inspiring they are each and every day as they face into life’s challenges…and they have them at nearly 8 and 13…it’s all relative…our grown up challenges exist in their world as well…just on a different level.

Before I know it, I’m right back to where I started…why I’m running.  To face into a challenge. To help my kids learn to do the same. Because they want me to. Because Baby Kate will get something out of it. And, because all these things put together make it good. The big picture is a pretty one. And, just as I think that, my iPod app calls into my earphones that I’ve reached the end of my run. It’s amazing what will get you through, huh? I’m looking forward to where today’s run takes me!

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  1. Bonnie Brownell
    March 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Once again, you have written with wisdom and beauty. How did I get so lucky to have such a terrific daughter?

  2. March 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    You’re definitely onto a bigger trend here. A friend of mine just admitted to starting her small business marketing workshops to show her daughter what is possible while being a great mom. Personally, I’m hoping our daughter’s value our great role modeling when they are working women. I say that with great depth of feeling even if my face just looks surprised.

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