Goodbye, Superstition

I’ve always kept my left finger unadorned.

As if that finger were sacred– to be saved for the future.

But today I decided otherwise.

Because that finger belongs to me– rather and some imagined future spouse. It struck me as not just hopelessly patriarchal, but silly, to continue waiting.

I’ve always thought of myself as someone’s future wife or future mother. I’ve always kept “The Big Picture” in mind, and that has largely governed my actions. It’s kept me  responsible and practical.

But today I define myself alone– without any other influence.

I am not a woman who considers parts of herself verboten unless claimed by a relationship. It may seem trivial, but I find it empowering.

I’m no longer passive.

I put a ring on it myself! It’s just cute costume jewelry, but I chose it.

And now when I look at my right hand ring finger, I smile.

I chose myself over superstition.

And I feel a new security in that choice.

 

Cinco de Miler: crying at the finish!!

Today I broke my seven-month hiatus with racing by running the Cinco de Miler 2016.

And finished FIVE MILES!! Along Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

It was my friend Lisa’s idea, and this morning she picked me up and we made it happen!! She invited me around January, but I was ambivalent about committing for quite awhile. First, I wasn’t sure I was up to two extra miles beyond my standard 5k. Second, the race shirts were hideous and I didn’t want to pay for one!

But she was so excited about it and we motivated each other. She was waffling herself not too long ago, and I encouraged her. We both decided to wear something of our own rather than those ugly shirts. This is our second race together!

We took a ton of silly selfies– one of the best parts of a race! I’m so glad we did this.

In the parking garage, I noticed the women parked next to us had a Joliet sticker on their vehicle. I introduced myself and we got a long great! She was with a few of her friends and it seemed a few of their daughters. Her name was Kim.

All the festivity– flowers in women’s hair, men running with Mexican wrestling masks, children wearing fake black mustaches that curl, some women with traditional cotton tops embroidered with flowers. Salsa blasting on the speakers as we lined up in our corrals!

Yesterday I mostly walked four miles, to warm up after months of nothing. I was shocked how easy it was. How natural I felt returning to this exercise.

In past races, I always felt insecure; I needed someone by me. If my friends ran ahead, I felt abandoned. Especially if they disappeared into the crowd.  As long as I could see them, I felt a little

I was so much in my own head that all I could think about were all the people passing me by– I was always glancing behind to reassure myself that I wasn’t last.  That *I* was ahead of others.

Or I was so fixated on the miles ahead— counting down, worried about my time. There was a part of me who never fully relaxed.

I was hard on myself if I had to slow down and walk. Always comparing.

Today, I broke free of all that.

I didn’t try to keep up with Lisa– I let her go and decided to do my own thing. And I felt calm, steady.

Maybe because this is my sixth race now– I knew I would find her afterward. I wasn’t worried about getting separated or lost.

I trust her more. I trust *myself* more.

I chose to run my own slow, steady pace– right down the yellow line of the streets blocked off for this event.

Proud to say I ran the first 1.5 miles at around 13 minutes!! I had set my Pandora on my phone to Selena and that driving Latino beat was perfect for the occasion.

But after that, I was conscious of the two added miles and felt I’d slow down and walk a bit. And then first my right knee and then both knees began to hurt. And I had to acknowledge it.

I  tried running sporadically after but had to accept that with the added miles I couldn’t push it or I might not finish.

But oh, running along Lake Shore Drive!!! Since I began running it’s been a fantasy of mine. I always thought I’d drive up and park somewhere and be one of those cool people you always see while in traffic, inbound to the city North on 41.

Until Lisa mentioned it last night, I had no idea this was part of the course route.

God arranged my dream to come true.

And thank Him that I wore pants, not shorts– and brought two long-sleeved shirts. Since it was a 9 a.m. race and I tend to get cold, I brought an extra hoodie in case it rained or was cold by the lake.

Talk about The Windy City!! Once we hit the third mile and were right next to the lake on our right, both those shirts felt like a joke!! But I felt badly for those wearing only tank tops or shorts, or even t-shirts. Had I been otherwise attired, I might have quit.

Between my knees, which seemed to get worse– and the serrating chill lakeside, I was beyond tempted.

But I saw racers returning, wearing medals. That energized me.

And each mile marker surprised me. I had learned to just ENJOY the race.

I was always moving except when I stopped to take a few pictures– a tree in front of the lake, the MARIACHI band performing!

I loved the man around mile 2– a tall old man with white hair waving maracas. “Everybody’s gonna finish,” he said with a smile.

And I believed him. When I felt weak, I thought of him.

Not long before mile 4, one of the women also from Joliet in the parking garage before the race appeared next to me. She tapped my shoulder and smiled. I slowed down and we commiserated about our knees. She gave me a vital tip: she takes Ipubprofen before a race. I prefer Tylenol– but I’ll remember that next time.

Maybe start taking a supplement to help my joints. Loosen them up by running regularly.

Rather than accept my joint pain and give up running– I’ll learn to take better care of myself to prevent it.

Even the Tin Man couldn’t walk the Yellow Brick Road with un-oiled joints! Oil is needed.

God was showing me that we’re never alone in the race. This race called life.

I allowed her to pass me, and felt at peace.

I had told Lisa to text me when she finished– and when she did, I was happy for her! Glad she did her thing and I did mine. For one of the first times in my life, I didn’t feel envy.

What a blessing!

I felt stronger than I thought capable once I saw the FINISH around the corner!!

I started running again: it was important to finish RUNNING.

Volunteers were standing in a cluster, handing out finisher’s medals.

When I arrived I was shocked to feel emotional– tears started to well up.

I almost cried– but I didn’t allow myself. I admit at that moment I did feel self-conscious.

I suppose I associate crying with loss– grief.

When was the last time I cried with RELIEF?? I don’t remember.

I couldn’t totally let go. But I teared up again, gulped deep breaths.

And vowed to start training again. My time is 1:36: 05

Lisa and I are already planning our next race! We talked non-stop on the way home.

I know I can do it. I’m already getting better.

And one day, I will let go enough to ACTUALLY cry with joy at the finish line.

 

 

 

 

Priorities and Running

Happy Easter!

I’ve run four miles in the past 24 hours and I feel great already.

Sadly, I admit shelving running since November. My last real attempt was December 12, at 1.28 miles– which counts. I made one attempt in February but it was less than a mile.  I try to get at least two miles.

I haven’t run a race since Nov. 8– the Hot Chocolate Run 5k in Chicago. I ran it for my birthday with two friends.

It’s been too cold,  I’ve been too tired– I just haven’t been up for it.

And not just that, I committed myself to so many things that running was the first thing to go so I could make time.

And that was my rookie mistake. As much as I enjoy being reliable and involved in my community, I also need to prioritize myself and what makes me feel good.

Now that it’s getting lighter and warmer, the excuses are gone!

I see now that having a race commitment motivates me to keep training between. I remember when I couldn’t even imagine running 3.1 miles in a 5k. I’ve done five now!

My longest runs have been 4.83 miles in July and 5.01 in August. I know it’s in me!

And more than six months ago, a friend invited me to run a FIVE MILE race in May.

I just registered online! It’s called the Cinco de Miler and is in Chicago.

I’ve got a goal. I’m gonna keep running until I can do five miles regularly.

And I’m promising myself that I won’t sacrifice my running again to make time to do things for other people.

Because although those commitments are important, so is my happiness. If I don’t make time for myself, no one else will do it for me.

And even though running is a pain in the calves, the accomplishment?

That makes me smile like a fool.

 

 

A Little Confession

Just had my first Confession in probably a year, after Stations of the Cross.

Usually, my Dad and I go together. It’s something that’s bonded us.

But this year we had different schedules. I went to our local cathedral instead.

I had hoped to get my parish priest, but I saw him leave just before Stations of the Cross began. Though a little bummed, I figured there was someone else meant to hear me today.

I reflected prior, but not a lot.

This year, it was different. I wasn’t berating myself with a list of things I’ve done wrong. I had no list, period.  I didn’t feel ashamed or desperate or angry at myself.

My confession was brief. I listed a few things, but mostly I just talked about those I love, and how I want to do right by them. Where I am in my spiritual life. What I’m seeking. And what I need/want from God.

I talked about wanting to be a better daughter.

About struggling to find a balance in my life with my choir/parish and other events that pop up spontaneously on those allotted times for choir and Mass. Feeling afraid that my parish will close, but continuing to belong/participate because that’s where my heart lies.

About how daunting it feels to be so focused on waiting for a relationship with another Catholic, but that this is something I feel that I both need and *deserve* in my life. I’ve sacrificed to adhere to that. It’s so important to me that if someone is another denomination, that’s a deal-breaker. I’ve endured a lot of criticism for that over the years, but most times I shrug it off. Pretty much everyone on either side of my family is who is married is married to another Catholic–happily. I know it’s possible!

But something I’ve realized is that I can’t stop being myself to accelerate finding a compatible relationship. I don’t smoke anything or drink, I don’t do drugs, I’m a Democrat, I’m Catholic. Those are core tenets of my identity. I’ve ended relationships to preserve those aspects in myself, because it’s essential for my own happiness and mental health.

And to my surprise, Father wasn’t punitive. He was patient. His voice was soft.

There was no recipe for salvation by reciting a certain number of prayers

Instead, we was affirmative. He basically told me to just keep doing what I’m doing– examining myself, pursuing my spiritual life, being aware and sensitive to what’s appropriate in my relationships.

I was given instant absolution. I wasn’t made to feel that my confession hadn’t been sufficient, even though I had completely blanked out on my Act of Contrition.

“I absolve you of your sins,”he said.

I didn’t have as dramatic as a reaction as I had in some other years– I didn’t cry.

I didn’t need to cry.

Confession was just an expression of my faith, a part of my spiritual routine.

And I smiled.

I felt like God was telling me, “You’re doing okay, kiddo.”

Not a Praying Man

That’s what he said, the man I called. Ahhh, Super Tuesday.

“I pray every day– and I’m *not a praying man- that Bernie wins.”

Tonight’s shift was monotonous. Leaving messages– I maybe talked to three people.

But one of my first calls was this man– and it reminded me of why I’m doing this.

He was so excited to participate in a live call for the campaign! I had called to ask about signing up for a volunteer shift this weekend. He’s busy but I asked if I could leave some info for his wife about a Women for Bernie phone bank locally tomorrow and he was eager to take a message. He said she probably would want to go!

Each phone bank shift is so different. Last night I called an older gentleman and asked if we could count on his vote for Senator Sanders on March 15 in the Illinois Primary.

“Absolutely not!!” I asked if he was leaning towards Clinton?

“I feel sorry for you,” he told me.

“Okay sir, you’re not a Democrat. Just glad you’re voting!”

I had to laugh. Those strong personalities make for great stories.

But I’ll keep on calling, like a good soldier. Bernie is working at full steam, and so will I.

My Bernie Journey

I just phone-banked for the second time this week in our new Joliet field office! I am SO stoked that there’s finally something happening in my hometown. The closest other events are between 20-45 miles and it’s just too dang cold for that.

Man, I love it.

Tonight I got a few answers and left a lot of messages. I was calling confirmed Bernie supporters trying to get them to come in and volunteer.

And I got a decent amount to sign up! Most people were excited I was calling. I answered some questions. I even got a few people to commit to specific shifts within the next couple weeks. I got e-mails, from people who wanted more info but were busy at that moment or unsure of when exactly they can work for us.

Tonight I called a woman who was getting married this weekend– and then will be honeymooning in Colorado–skiing!!– until March 15, the day of Illinois primary elections. We kept interrupting each other, so excited to talk about Bernie! I asked if she was marrying a Democrat and she admitted he was a Republican– that she was “working on” him. I laughed and said I’ve dated a few Republicans myself– it certainly makes for interesting conversation!

She joked that she was trying to convert him and if he doesn’t, “it may be a short marriage.” But clearly she’s smitten, I’m not worried about the state of their union.

I teased that in lieu of volunteering in a field office, she’ll be “working every day” with her her future-husband, and she got a GOOD laugh out of that!

I talked to people of all ages.

When I asked if they were voting Bernie in the primary, I often got an enthusiastic response and maybe a good-natured, “Feelin’ the Bern!”

And really, phone-banking brought out the best in me. I remembered that actually, I’m pretty outgoing and comfortable with myself. I connected with everyone who answered except for one who hung up on me right away. My sales background came in handy!

I have a passion for Bernie Sanders’ campaign and sharing that with people is exciting.

Towards the end, I made it a game. How many people can I call in the last nine minutes??

I filled out a sheet about shifts I will commit to working. The field office organizer said I did a good job signing up volunteers and gave me a bunch of extra shift sign-up sheets to pass out to friends. I’m going to make copies of those and just hand them out to people I see around town. Why not?!

How to be Happy

Tonight a last-minute movie invitation made my day!

After attending Stations of the Cross at my church for the second week, I was driving around aimlessly in my hometown. I didn’t feel like going home.

And at 6:55 p.m. my friend called and asked me to go see “How to be Single.” We usually make plans way in advance and it’s rare that she calls spontaneously– and I had been in the mood for a movie. My back-up plan was actually to just go to Family Video. Of course I enthusiastically accepted!

“When’s it start?” I asked.

“7:15,” she answered.

I had to laugh! Despite thinking I had no direction, I was headed directly toward the mall where it was playing.

I felt like God was ribbing me just a little.

I felt a profound sense of peace. He was steering.

And we met up inside the theatre and the only seats available were the handicapped seats in the middle– but no one was using them. So there were sat. I had gotten a hot green tea in the lobby, because I had run for the first time in about 2.5 months! I didn’t check , but I’m guessing it was about 45 or 50 degrees when I went running in only a thin hoodie, without a hat or gloves. I had gotten a little cough in that short time.

I made it .64 of a mile– uphill, in fierce wind! But I’m glad I did. Cold air was refreshing. My throat feels better, I’m not coughing.

My friend got popcorn and we passed it back and forth– with delicious butter!

I loved the movie so much that I honestly cried toward the end. Although there are certainly too many ensemble movies set in NYC about motley singles, this one was excellent.

After the movie we sat outside talking in her car for about an hour, catching up.

We’re both 35 and single. We’re both doing our thing and supportive of each other.

We talked about an upcoming 8k we planned months ago to run Cinco de Mayo weekend.

That’s five miles! Neither of us have done that before, but we’re gonna. Even though the shirts for the race are hideous!

It’s good to have a plan.

It was the perfect movie with a gal pal who I adore.

That’s my Friday night and now I’m going to bed early to sleep in tomorrow morning!

My life is pretty stellar.