A Run and A Confession

I ran five miles tonight after three days break.

Afterward, I drove to Confession at St. Ray’s. I made for the last hour and spent most of it in line, waiting.

And what a wait it was!

I had conversations with three random women. When was the last time a stranger talked to me in public, doing anything? It was refreshing and unexpected.

At first I felt a bit self-conscious in my skirt, even though it’s an athletic skirt. Everyone else was so buttoned up and well, Catholic. Hee! But a woman in the pews pointed to my skirt and asked, “Do you play tennis? Cute!” We got to talking about exercise. She had a big black boot on her foot. “I’ve never been a runner,” she told me. But she loves tennis. She said she’s not sure what kind of work out she can do with her foot.
“Yoga?” I suggested. She agreed. Pointing to her arms, she grabbed one and jiggled it! She likes to lift free weights. She was wearing a bright orange shirt, black pants. Cute choppy blonde haircut.

The line moved up, so I moved. I said goodbye to her and we smiled at each other.

Two women in front and behind me were having a conversation. Whispered, so I couldn’t decipher what they were saying specifically.

I was looking at the woman in front of me, scoffing internally at her bright yellow banana clip– straight out of the ’90s!– and the wierd black pipecleaner thing she had somehow wound around it.

And while I was judging her, she began talking with me. The woman in front her saw my Shamrock Shuffle hoodie and asked if I had run in it. “Yes!” I said. “My daughter ran it,” she told me. I felt so proud. This hoodie wasn’t cheap but I knew I’d live in it. It felt so good to be recognized for an athletic achievement by a stranger. I’d told myself it’s just an 8k, a mere five miles. Small potatoes in the running world. But that’s five miles I couldn’t dream of two years ago!

It was her turn.  So it was just me and the woman behind me, who had a thick braided ponytail– almost white blonde. She was holding a small finger Rosary.

“Is it Amber?” I had asked.

She wasn’t sure. “I got it in Poland,” she told me.

I told her that on the other side when I got there, there were several nuns waiting in line.  “I wonder what nuns confess?” I mused.

She said a lot to me, but I couldn’t hear most of it. But clearly, she was alive with faith. She spoke of Jesus, I caught that much.

Then it was my turn.

I told Father that it’s been about a year since my last Confession. I had missed Advent. I was kneeling on a dark wood bench– there was simple cloth curtain separating us. It seemed to be a large confession booth. He was a good listener. It was almost 9 p.m., closing time, but he wasn’t hurrying me at all.

I was surprised at how good I felt– I wasn’t wracked with guilt about anything. I told him the truth– that I haven’t been to Mass much lately.  That I had a hot dog for lunch. That I quit choir so I could get to bed earlier and focus on running. That I gave up envy for Lent, and that I struggle with it. That I gave up sleeping in for Lent too– also for running– and have failed that on multiple accounts! That I want to be more independent. I’m trying to save my money.  That my parents are my best friends and I want to do right by them. That I want to learn the Rosary but it’s overwhelming and not happening yet.

I told him other things of course– but I’m keeping that to myself!

I was genuinely shocked by his reaction.

He didn’t chastise me once. Not even for going MIA from Mass for awhile.

Instead he told me that God wants us to progress in our lives. That I’m doing that with my running. That my tenacity will pay off.

He asked me to say One Hail Mary and one Gloria.

I left feeling lighter. I’m always inspired by how forgiving and open-minded priests can be. I should have gotten his name. I’d like to confess to him again. He had a soft accent.

I left feeling grateful and cleansed, like I do after a good run.

Confession was like a five mile run for my soul. I feel more spiritually fit.

If you haven’t been to Confession in a long time, don’t be afraid. Be honest. And let it go.

 

 

 

Unrelenting Blogging, Running and Courage: Six Year Anniversary!

Word Press informed me today it’s my six year anniversary as a blogger.

Hard to believe this chronicle of my life still stands– I attempted to erase it once. Exes had commented, past friends were keeping tabs on me, fellow bloggers encouraged me. Thank you to those who have subscribed, followed, commented and encouraged this unrelenting literary journey! Some have left, but most have stayed.  It’s edifying.

I went through a period of wanting my life without documentation.

My emerging narrative had no focus, I felt it was a waste  of time. But as events unfolded, I found this humble blog to be a refuge.

I would write what I want, without censor or error by editors. Without deadlines.

This journey began as a public vow of accountability during Lent, to uphold my Catholicism and Lenten promises. To challenge me.

Six years ago, I was searching for meaning in a relationship with a man. I thought that was the dream I should chase. I thought my treasure would be in another’s heart– in the reflection of what he loved in me.

Now I have accepted loss in relationships that haven’t lasted. I wrote about some dates, and the struggles to combat loneliness and failed compatibility. But I kept the details away, not wanting to jinx something still evolving, nor preserve details of suitors who did not work out.

Now I have accepted uncertainty and blog when I feel compelled.

I am still restless, but have re-directed my energy. Now the relationship I feed is that with myself– and running is the mechanism driving me forth.

Now I have races and goals for which to train! The joy I find is in surpassing my doubts.

I seek my own approval, reward myself with courage.

I’m making plans without fear.

I’m still Catholic, but now I forgive myself easier. I don’t depend on Lent to hold me accountable to my own promises.

I allow myself to be human, faults and mishaps included. I enjoy Mass but it’s not the center of my life as it once was.

I’ve chosen to build my life around developing a routine of running. I’m struggling with rising early and getting to sleep early enough to maintain that schedule. But already, it’s bringing me peace.

I’ve signed up for training classes for an upcoming race, my first 10k with lots of hills. I’ve joined the local run club in my community. I’ve attended group runs. I’ve enlisted a running buddy to start soon. I’ve purchased running gear necessary. I’m learning to layer properly in differing weather so I can persevere.

I’ve also failed twice this week on something I consider major: I missed my training class Thursday, and slept through a group run this morning.

I’m worried because my next race has a time limit for me to qualify as a finisher– I usually need 1 hour and 30 minutes to run five miles. This race requires 1 hour and fifteen. I felt intimidated— but signed up anyway. Now that fee has been paid! I want that finisher’s medal.

Today as I ran, I pushed myself. I knew I had to wean my mileage and maintain it below a 15 minute mile. And I did, except for two short bouts of walking. I noticed my knees hurting by the end, 3.16 miles. But I don’t normally feel that when I’m running regularly.

Tomorrow morning I’m meeting someone from our running group early. I’ll go faster.

I’ll be the runner I know is within me.

I think I’ve found something special with running.

And it’s in every road, every time I put on my shoes.

I Get It : Finally!

I’m really good at keeping busy.

I like helping out and doing things for others. But this year I’ve really noticed that without even realizing it, I was still putting myself last.

I’ve been “single” for years. But most of that time, I was actively dating or looking for ways to meet someone. Wishing. Praying.

I was fine doing things alone– going to dinner, the movies, staying home and enjoying it.

And I kept so busy.

I was singing in the choir at my parish. I was attending political fundraisers and meetings, phone-banking, canvassing. My Sunday mornings were for Mass.

I was always there for my friends.

But the best friend I’ll have is myself. Why am I so quick to change my plans for others?

Slowly this year, I’ve been clearing my schedule of those obligations. Even Mass. I’ll go when I feel like it, but am not allowing myself to feel guilty if I don’t.

Instead, I’m going to run as much as I’m able. That’s my priority.

I’ll meet God outside, and worship him in motion.

Like any adult, I know how to push myself. Through fear, confusion, sickness, exhaustion.

But have I ever truly set an ambitious goal and believed?

No.

All I saw were obstacles. I won’t say they were excuses– I was terrified to fail. So I would just not even attempt it. And sometimes depression crept in, manifested in over-sleeping.

But running is a natural anti-depressant. Endorphins are real!

My initial reaction is one of caution. I get that from my Dad. He’s wonderful, but he’s not the best at encouraging me when I want to try something new. And it’s understandable. He’s suffered a lot of loss. I’ve battled health problems all my life.

But I’m changing. I’m realizing that’s just the way he’s built emotionally- and it makes sense for him. And that I don’t need his approval to motivate me.

I was in this mind-frame of asking for permission.

But now I’m giving that permission to myself!

I don’t need to even tell him. I can just do it.

I can do what makes sense for me, even if he doesn’t get it.

My dreams are bigger than his: and that’s okay.

A friend at work approached me about a race yesterday. He knows I run… sporadically. This friend is a consistent runner– even in the winter! He has a training regimen.

Months ago, I had approached a different friend about running this race with me. She wasn’t game– I just gave up on it.

I’m going to sign up for it: the Solider Field 10 Mile in Chicago on May 27.

So what if I don’t finish it?

I can still do my best. And I’ve finished every race I’ve run thus far.

Instead of sleeping in on weekends, I want to go bed earlier.

I want to rise and run.

I usually like to sleep in on weekends. But if I had a date or some fun plans, I’d get up.

What if my fun plans were running?!

And now I get it! The true FREEDOM of being single: constructing my life 100% around ME.

Without obligation or guilt. I will never have that kind of freedom again later in life.

Just what I want to do. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.

I deserve this!

Even with casual dating, you have to block out time for this person. You talk to them after work, they may text you to check in during the day. You plan dates– you invest hours and days and weekends getting to know each other.

In taking this time for myself without dating on the table, I’m putting ME first. I’m saying that the biggest priority is what *I* want to accomplish.

I won’t let myself feel guilty about saying “no” to social invitations. Or going home early.

I can still make sleep the priority– by regulating a bedtime and schedule.

I’ll build socializing into running. I’ve got three months to train.

I have no idea how, but that’s the adventure.

And I’ve got running friends to support me.

About People

That’s what prayer is, for me.

My favorite way to pray is connected with others in a group. Of course I pray alone. But the power is undeniable when you’re surrounded by others and you’re all in it together.

Today I’ve been blessed to stand connected hand-to-hand with others in prayer, twice. First at Mass. And just now with a small group of friends. I was stressed, and I mentioned this– not expecting anything. One friend went out of their way to assemble a few people together to pray with me over the situation that was worrying me.

And just that small act of faith alone reassured me.

If these people were willing to take time out of their day to pray over me, and one by one say a quick intention on my behalf, I have nothing to fear.

My Dad’s First Selfie and Acceptance

At age 72 today, my father said, “Let’s take a selfie!”

I couldn’t help laughing.

“Aww Dad, you said ‘selfie!’ I’m so proud.”

Today we celebrated by going to Mass at his parish, then to brunch, and finally a father/daughter movie date– our tradition.

I then suggested we go into the back yard and take some pictures. We always take them in the house, with the worst lighting. They all look the same– in the kitchen or living room. It was nice to get outside with all the grass and the plants he and Diane meticulously plant and tend to each spring.

We took one of he and I, and then Diane and I.

Then the three of us.

Then it was Bohrer Family Selfie Time.

My Dad proclaimed, “I’ve got long arms!” The better to aim with, I suppose.

But he lacks the know-how otherwise. First, he’s a tall man. Six feet, broad shoulders. Huge hands. A jock for most of his young life. An Army veteran– officer.

Instead of wrapping his left arm around my step-mom and I, he held both hands outstretched in front– leaving Diane behind my Dad so you can only see the top of her hair and eyes. I’m in the bottom left corner, jutting just barely in frame.

We’re all making ridiculous faces, having no idea what we look like.

I think these two might be the best pictures we’ve ever taken! Stupid, random. All of us were tickled by the results.

Selfies have been a thing for so long now that most people find them annoying. But today, I reconnected with the wonderful silliness that made this behavior such a standard.

The delightful awkwardness of assembling into frame somehow– the comedy of viewing the results. Trying again, to see if you can get a better one with everyone in-frame and without some goofy expression.

It’s just about having fun. We’re not a family that insists the pictures be perfect.

We were all in a great mood today. I feel so abundantly lucky.

Earlier my Dad and I went to see “Jurassic World,” at the mall.  I couldn’t have had a better date!

And somehow, we matched! He was wearing a bright plaid shirt with many bright colors– blue, white, red, yellow. My dress was blue and white with large horizontal stripes– I felt very Eighties in it!

My father is the strong silent type. Like Silent Bob. But also with a gentle, dry sense of humor. His words are concise and meaningful. And I’m so lucky to be his daughter.

I found a wonderful peace this afternoon with him. An acceptance.

I am happy.

Also, my father is the reason I am single and happy. He’s always on my side.

Because my father is the man who has always and WILL always stand by me. My father’s love is unfaltering, always steady. When he makes a promise, he keeps it. When I call, he answers– if only to tell me he can’t talk right then. On the rare occasions he doesn’t, he will usually text or call me back within a short times pan. He is always eager to spend time with me, even if it’s just to help me fix something. My father shows his love most through acts of service. He helps me any way he can, when I accept it. Sometimes I don’t. But what I’ve learned is that sometimes being a good daughter means having the humility to accept the help my father willingly offers. Not always. But today for example. I mentioned this week that I don’t have a can opener (I know, ridiculous!) and borrowed one from them. My practical father noted the information and today presented me with that item.

Sure, I could refuse it and buy my own can-opener. But it made him happy to give me one.

And I’m happy he cares and pays attention to little details like that.

So today was a wonderful day with my favorite person.

A Serious Runner?

“You look like such a serious runner!”

That’s what Eleise said last time we ran, on Wednesday. It was a quick one.

I loved hearing that!

And now it seems I’m dealing with my first injury. Which both makes me feel like a hardcore athlete and also anxious.

I JUST started! Coming up on a month. Just when I’m starting to get good.

It was Friday night that I strolled into Barnes & Noble and my left leg twisted. I felt a little pop and then my left knee buckled backward. Intense pain. I felt very unsteady and the only way to alleviate it was to stand in place on my right leg, gripping a display table. I pulled my left leg up behind me, holding it in place. I tried to walk and was unsteady. I got a few steps, then it happened again.

“I am way too young for this,” I thought.

Dejection. Then annoyance– what had I done wrong? I’ve been so careful not to push too hard as I’m starting out.  I’ve tried to be consistent with my distances but also not aggressive about beating my times and extending my runs just because I feel optimistic.

I’ve been trying to run smarter, not harder. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe it’ll clear it up on its own.

I was there to meet someone, so I didn’t go home. The pain lessened.

But I asked a few friends and was told to get it checked ASAP.

Because of work I couldn’t go yesterday– and calling off was not an option. Today isn’t either. Monday it is.

As per instructions given I used rest, ice, compression and elevation. It seems to be working.

I’ve always been quite resilient and healed quickly. I always always go to the doctor, just to be safe.

I’m still young.

So I’m going in first thing Monday morning.

I feel optimistic. I felt no pain today with the wrap. But when I unwound it tonight, the tenderness at the back of my knee was definitely there. But it’s not a throbbing pain. It seems fine now, hours later.

Already, I miss running. It’s become something I look forward to, part of my routine.

I hope it’s minor and won’t take more than a week or two– worst case scenario– to heal. That’s what I’ve been told to expect.

Also sadly, yesterday, just hours before it happened– a new friend invited me to join her, her husband and a mutual friend in a 5k in a few weeks. It would be my first!

I want to go. If I can at least walk it. Too soon?

I have no idea. I can only pray.

I want to recover and grow as a runner.

Maybe God’s telling me to slow down?

Please send a prayer for healing my way! Any advice, fellow running bloggers and readers?

Comment away!!

Where’s Mr. Miyagi? I wish he could do that hand-rubbing thing on *my* knee right about now!

Like Danielsan, I want back in the action.

A Soul on Fire! Singing, Sushi and Running

This was a great week for me– I gotta tell you!

Yesterday morning on the way to work I was listening to Christian radio and heard the perfect song– “Soul on Fire,” by Third Day. Even better, the lyrics talk about RUNNING!

I felt like God was telling me, “Keep it up, kiddo!” That’s the song I’ll be thinking of as I run.

It was a bit chilly tonight but I put on a stocking cap and a hoodie and I was good to go.

I took two days off running this week, Thursday and Saturday, to give my feet a break. Eleise and I kept to our schedule of three runs, and tonight I did .96 by myself without stopping! I checked my phone at the end of the block and then kept going till I hit 1 mile! And then I walked a bit, and ran to finish my goal of 1.75 miles– I made it 1.81 by the time I got home.

I’m getting mindful of what I’m eating, as well. I had a good lunch with my Dad today after Mass, and later tonight I passed on cheesecake and coffee.

Wednesday night was our choir’s last rehearsal of the summer! I had such a good time and will miss them for the next few months! Our choir director, David, ran threw several songs so that I could get up to speed and they could review. Rehearsals are laid-back and equal parts fun and music education.

The best part of our rehearsals is always at the end, when we stand in a circle, hold hands, and pray for whomever we feel called to with our intentions, be it out loud or just in our hearts. I specifically asked if we could get all of us together after Mass today and take a few quick pictures of us looking all spiffy in our choir robes! This is also the last week we’re wearing them– they’ll be taken to get cleaned and we’ll resume them when it cools off. Although I’ll miss the pride of wearing one, I do admit it’ll be a nice reprieve in the coming heat!

The whole choir (those I’ve met, some are currently not singing right now) wasn’t quite there today, but we got most of the group who have regularly been at rehearsals since I joined. I asked a tall gentleman to take pictures of us and he did! He was kind enough to take several, and I found two I really liked. We are diverse, happy, and coming together to share our joy in the Lord! I was so proud to post it today on Facebook.

And as for the sushi, I declared last night Date Night for myself and my book and went out for sushi! Why not? I got a lot done this week! I wanted to celebrate. I put on a cute outfit, a bit of perfume, and brought a book with me. Between the meal and the words, I had a great time.

Today is just one of those days that I feel grateful, motivated, and healthy.

I’m ready for June!!