Shattered Mosaics

I’m going around picking up the pieces from the shattered year of 2015. I think it’s fair to say that if you were following my blog before 2015 it might be “safe” to unfollow it now. If you were hoping for more of the same, just go ahead and hit the unfollow button. No hard feelings.

I didn’t write much in 2015, because honestly what I was struggling with I couldn’t talk openly about. I didn’t want to come off as dirty laundry flapping in wind. I spoke more poetically than literally and honestly as I normally would have. I couldn’t speak out loud about the things I was dealing with and felt muted by my current and not so current company. Please note that this does not involve my husband or my children. I would like for my readers to not stress about the well-being of my marriage and parenting.

Rewind to 2012

I am challenged by a hormone/endocrine disorder known as polycystic ovarian syndrome. I was so heavy and unbalanced then that I could hardly walk. The syndrome makes it very challenging to lose weight. During my pregnancies I had symphysis pubis dysfunction. Again an imbalance of hormones caused this. My hips were not strong or good. I had physical therapy and the damage lasted into my postpartum after our daughter was born. The second pregnancy had taken a toll on my body. We had just moved into our current home. It was a move that I had not desired nor enjoyed, but my husband insisted upon the change. I had spent the year prior to that being literally stalked by someone and their private investigator, because they were jealous of my friendship with their ex. I had some negative relationships that were pulling me down like a heavy anchor. I lost myself this year and the year before.

The year of wonder was 2013

After walking the block of our street, I would suffer days of pain and struggling to even go down a flight of stairs or up a flight for that matter. I couldn’t breath from the overexertion but more than that my hips hurt so badly. For days they would ache if we went to the park or out shopping. I went to a chiropractor for healing. He basically told me that if I didn’t lose weight and find some form of exercise I could be looking at a hip replacement by 40. In the early days of 2013, I laced up some shoes and headed out to try my hand at the couch to 5k program. The chiropractic care was working.  I wanted so badly to be in great shape so I could take our ten year anniversary trip with strength and vigor. I used WW and lost a considerable amount of weight and my hormones became balanced. This same year I started my blog and began writing out my thoughts and feelings. This same year…. I started listening to music as a release and I found the Avett Brothers who healed my soul. My involvement in my church increased and changed. We went on our amazing trip and I was strong. I let go of a longtime close friend that had become a very mutually negative relationship. I finished the Couch25k program in July and continued to run. The stalking stopped. The pain of being heavy chested was pinching nerves and causing numbness in my neck so I finally broke down and had a surgery to help with this and I felt renewed. The pain like this is gone now and I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin.

It was arguably the most productive year of my life.

Hard Hard Worker Every Day – 2014.

I was running 5ks every other day that spring. I was strong but the weight loss had stopped. I stopped WW and tried eating gluten free and more like the caveman diet. I lost a ton of weight, but my balances were off again and I felt incomplete so I stopped eating that way. I applied for new jobs and prepared to close my business I had been running for four years.

My dear friend “Twisted” moved away and that was an adjustment too. My tribe of friends was beginning what would become its disbandment. I accepted the position at my current job and had stepped down from my leadership from church anticipating the stress of my new job. I closed my business and repaired much of my home.

The new job started off great. I loved it and still do. I love teaching, but it takes almost all my energy and time. The 5ks every other day were great and I kept working my way up in my long runs. I ran my first half marathon in October and my second in November. I felt really strong, but the weight had already began to creep back up and my body began to fail again in the hormone department.

By December, I was up over ten pounds. My breakfasts and lunches were the same as before I had began teaching again, but my dinners were more rushed for sure. I continued to try to keep my running up through Christmas, but it was hard given my schedule. I ran when I could. This caused running to become a chore and less of a release. I had some acquaintances treat me, my husband and my children pretty poorly heading into 2015 and it hurt very badly.

From November on I had the blues. We tried to get away for Christmas. We badly needed this break from the stress, drama and frustration that the holidays had become. We got the stomach flu at the beach.

Mosaic Smashed 2015

I laced up my shoes and ran away the pain that I was in emotionally the best I could. The stress of working and trying to keep up with running was taking its toll. I missed my network of friends that had disbanded. I missed talking to them and venting our hearts away. I didn’t see them enough anymore that I felt like I could vent what was going on, because then our entire relationship would have been venting. So I did not express myself with my friends or in writing. Only in running.

If you haven’t heard from me since 2014… you aren’t the only one I haven’t kept up with. I’m having a hard time with balance don’t take it personally. I wasn’t going to church for the emotional and social reasons I will continue to not speak about specifically. Church friends this has nothing to do with you or the church leadership so let that idea go if you feel that’s what happened. It’s simply not true and the only thing you can do is be kind to me when I return without making an introvert feel overwhelmed with guilt or attention. I’m sorry if I ever hurt you in a moment of worry that you were the cause of this reaction.

I ran two more half marathons in the spring. This took the stress level and stress on my body too high. Retrospectively, that’s the only conclusion that I can come to. By my birthday, in March, I had reached a full-on set of blues. I stopped writing because I could not say what my real struggles were and I still can’t- again not flapping someone else’s dirty laundry. Truth be told this was never my dirty laundry it was theirs. My dear friend that shares my name was also feeling melancholy so for spring break we set off on a trip alone just the two of us. It was a great trip and just what I thought I needed. I will be forever be grateful for her friendship and our care for one another during that time. Love you Chipmunk.

By late spring, my hormones and body were out of whack and I spent the rest of 2015 trying to heal my overrun body and worn out emotions. I finished the school year having done a great job in the classroom. Luckily, the struggles I met never effected my work ethic or love of my job.

We went on an amazing trip over the summer to Boise, Idaho. I still haven’t written about that. I returned from the trip to prepare our old house for sale. I lived there- working my tail off – for about three to five weeks before it sold. Then we had to move all of our things from storage to our current home. It became a clutter of junk. We threw our daughter a birthday party and I went back to work again. I returned to work not feeling renewed or refreshed from summer break.

2015 left me weary and unrested. Injured from running and 20 +lbs heavier. My hormones a tragic wreck and my heart indifferent. I got a license plate to commemorate my year of sadness called the November blues.

The stress of 2015 alone could have caused this new imbalance of hormones. My doctor concerned of this stress has put me on a medication called metformin to help regulate my hormones and blood sugar as PCOS causes insulin resistance. My blood work shows no concern in cholesterol, thyroid, liver output, kidneys or anything but this hormone imbalance. I am otherwise healthy. The medication has a lot of side effects and for now I’m going to give it a try and I’m doing fine so far. I’m exhausted on it, but the horror stories of the side effects are not currently present.

Before the Christmas program at church, I sat next to a friend of a friend and he asked what was wrong with me. I shared with him my personal story and he said, “Well no wonder you have been gone. You’ve been in mourning. I’ve been going through the same thing this last year. It’s a pain like no other, but you can’t control other people or their own weaknesses. You have to go on living and take care of just the four of you. You have to because you don’t want this to reciprocate.” I replied, “Yeah. I finally figured myself out and got beyond the pain of it all. Now I’m just complacent, apathetic, indifferent… I can’t really name it.”

We planned Christmas at home this year. To save ourselves the stress we spent the day entirely alone just the four of us. Our toast at dinner began with “Cheers to not throwing up this year.”

We went to watch the Avett Brothers at New Year’s Eve and just before the countdown Scott Avett said, “No matter if 2015 was a good year or a terrible year it doesn’t matter because it’s over now.” Thank God.

2016

I wanted to run a marathon this spring, but like the Avett Brothers say, “Make sure you run towards something and not away from.” Long distance running is mental… so much mental and less physical than one who is not a long distance runner could assume. I’ve overused my body and my ankle and heel are not in perfect shape for a marathon so that’s not going to be a 2016 reality. In 2015, I began running away from instead of towards something and I need to begin to run towards myself again.

I’ve spent the last two weeks of winter break healing and recognizing my emotions. I have not laced up a single time during my break to run. I have not spent the time running or working. I did spend time listening to music. I spent time with my husband. I spent time with my children. I spent time cleaning up my house and the disaster that 2015 had become. I picked up the phone to bandage a few relationships that I had injured in my 2015 blues.

This is the first time I’ve given myself the time to truly process in over a year since the fog of the blues had settled in. I’ve finally realized my mourning period is over. I had these two weeks to notice that I am still stoic. I am apathetic to the situations that had worn me down in 2015. Situations that before would have brought me to tears have brought me to shrug my shoulders or roll my eyes. My husband says it’s ennui… as though I am dissatisfied. I am I suppose. Dissatisfied with myself.

I refuse to let this be the end of my story of growth in gumption. I refuse to beat myself up for how I handled 2015. I refuse to close my chapter on being a badass.

 

 

 

Being Atreyu Leaving the Swamp of Sadness

Two students walking in opposite directions crossed one another’s path. Like true middle school kids, they were self-absorbed and nearly ran into one another. To avoid the collision they both began to spin around on their toes in a polar opposite twist and narrowly escaped contact. It looked like a well-rehearsed choreographic scene.

Being an artist in moments of chaos.

Like a basketball on the tip of a finger, life is spinning around with centripetal force. The occasional tap to continue spinning. Sometimes nearly about to topple over, but it just keeps spinning on and on. Sometimes there isn’t anything left in our keg to keep going.

Being the person someone else reaches out to and holding their hand tight.

So much negative energy spins around and around sucking everyone down into a whirlpool. The dark fate of the environment has drained the happy-go-lucky souls into the same fateful abyss. The only way out is to help each other be positive.

Being a happy thought ’cause I can’t fly without it……

Outside of the Wolf Pack

ButtercupIn middle school we had the chance to order long sleeve t-shirts with the school logo on it. You could put your name on the back and then a word that describes you down both arms. My art teacher said, “April… I’ve been thinking about those school shirts. I think you should get one and you should put “Nonconformist” down the arm of it.” I didn’t have any idea at the time what that word meant or her purpose of this conversation. She explained, “You’re like the girl from My So Called Life…. you’re a thinker. You’re always going to get things done, but do it outside of the way that everyone else is doing it. You’re unique and proud of that uniqueness. You are a nonconformist… if you don’t realize that you will some day.”

In elementary school there was a girl named Cassi. Cassi was like a gazelle. She could sprint and I was always envious of her ability to do that.  She would go on for miles like she was just stepping on clouds. We did this fundraiser for heart disease sort of like a walkathon. The more laps you could run the more money we raised. I was always the last one picked for sports. I came in dead last because I couldn’t even play kickball without looking like an idiot. Prior to this fundraising event we had only run the one miler. My classmates all started in for the run. It was along the soccer field of the school and the PE teacher Ms.Tyree was keeping score of how many laps we went around for the fundraiser. The first few laps it was like normal. I went a little slower than my normal pace and Cassi started like a bolt of lightening. She lapped everyone continuously. The few lazy students did the first few laps and the gracefully bowed out and watched on the sidelines. There was the future baseball star, a few other fairly athletics kids, Cassi the gazelle and then me. I could hear from the sidelines the murmur of “April… she’s still in?” The few other athletic kids started to trickle out and Cassi was still doing laps around the rest of us on the field. I just kept going and eventually it was just me and Cassi. I doing my more relaxed pace and Cassi sprinting and lapping me as she went along. I hit the sidelines too after many more laps… I’m certain that Cassi and I ran for over a hour that day. I grabbed a water and plopped on the sideline to watch Cassi as she kept going. The high fives and congrats from the sideline of classmates was an amazing event for me. The girl who never got picked for anything had shocked the class.  Ms. Tyree who had been my PE teacher for several years came by to tell me how impressed she was. I said, “Yeah it was good but I will never be like Cassi. I wish I could sprint like that.” I should have been elated. I should have been proud. Instead I was just jealous. Ms. Tyree hearing my disappointment kneeled down and said, “You shouldn’t be upset. You should be proud. Maybe you’re not Cassi, but do you realize that you just beat everyone else except Cassi? Second place is an okay place to be. One of these days you will realize that Cassi will be a speed runner and you hon are a long distance runner and there is a difference.” I dismissed Ms. Tyree’s opinion and pep talk. I was too bitter to hear her words. I wanted to win, but I couldn’t see beyond my jealousy that I had already won. I may not have won the lap contest but I won a whole lot of respect that day. I stopped getting picked dead last after that moment.

During driver’s education we studied all types of terms and one was the wolf pack. My teacher was adamant that traveling in the wolf pack statistically is a safer place to be. If people know they are surrounded by cars they are more careful about how they bob and weave through the traffic. If you are in a smaller group or alone you are more likely to be in an accident. My thought about this term was “but I don’t want to be around everyone else. I’d rather have space and be on my own.” I never liked being in the wolf pack… running, driving or socially speaking.

These conversations and moments have stuck with me for years. This weekend I laced up for my last long run before my next half marathon. I headed out the door alone in the early morning light for this twelve mile run. I ran along the river greenway and enjoyed the breeze and scenic views. I was constantly passed by chipper happy sprinters and I kept with my regular pace. The Cassi’s of the world were lapping me so to speak. I was alone for twelve miles and that can get a little lonely and I was envious of the wolf pack runners. They have their support group and they are always looking out for reach other. It’s safer to not lag behind or just call it quits when you need to keep up with everyone else. I’m the nonconformist runner. The runner off to the side going in their own style and at their own pace but still getting it done. I was pretty emotional during this run. It was sheer elation that I had broken the mold. I am off the course of my own making.

Failure to Thrive

When a relationship is on the edge teetering on a rocky cliff- the silence can be a beautiful thing to embrace. Do I really want to be screaming on my sinking ship or do I want to be quietly sinking into the abyss?

Oh I’d rather go quietly into the night….

So realizing this relationship is the freaking Titanic of failures.. I remind myself of the 5 steps of grieving.

1. Denial and Isolation – Off in the quiet I go pretending it’s not really happening. Keeping my thoughts to myself. My inner workings has already cut the cord, but I am in denial. In response I isolate myself from the party… off to the quiet to silently sneak out the back door and I’m gone.

2. Anger- The first moment I realized I was being stabbed in the back… I pulled that knife out and like a dart cutting through the words of hatefulness I threw it back with all my might. Well not really cause I’m a total sissy, but I said… I didn’t care because I was still somewhat in the denial stage. Inside I was a raging bitch.

3. Bargaining – This lasted the shortest amount of time. I convinced myself that maybe if I write the letter or the email… extend the olive branch that will make it better. That didn’t make it better in fact it made it worse and I regret it. Then somewhere in my return to denial I thought I’d try again to make contact… then I said no to myself you’re bargaining again and it wont work. This is a complete wash at this point. I kept trying to tell myself that unlike the grieving of death that it could one day turn around… one day it might be better. Again I am bargaining with hope lost on me.

4. Depression – I have been trying so hard to see through this fog. It’s like the first of many things after someone dies. The first Valentines, the first birthday or the first Christmas without someone. It hurts when they don’t call or care to write, but they’re unable to make contact because they are no longer physically capable of doing so. This is just the cold war of silent treatment. Just like the Cold War I am on edge in defense of the long range missiles.

5. Acceptance – This stage is so awesome. This is where I put on my I don’t give a shit armor. I dance around in the face of the silence and celebrate for just a moment. I have arrived. I have realized I can’t fix this. I can’t fix the silence. I can’t fix and undo the undone of this life I had once shared with this person. That’s okay. I can’t fix everything.

The hard part is that I realize that I can at anytime return to phase two and work my way through this process again in a day. It takes a text, a phone call, a picture, and I return to anger… or bargaining or depression. I have at least made it… I touched acceptance and realized it can be done.

At a field day once we were playing on this bungee like cord that was at our waist line. You run with the belt and try to put flags that look like flag football strips onto velcro strips. You have to pull with all your might and tag the flags onto the strips before you get pulled away. I reached for the velcro and pulled all the way to get to the strip that was the farthest away with great tension I flew backwards with a thud on my back. I laughed- it was fun. I had reached it and it was pure joy for me to reach the end.

I have reached the end of the velcro of this grieving stage. I have tagged the end of the line. I know I can reach it. I may fall back sometimes, but I can reach out and touch the end of this and find acceptance.

Acceptance of our failure to thrive…. together.

Proclamation of Indignation

Insomnia.

Like the rhythm of the pitter patter of toddler feet.

The Run. The Day. The Loss. The Path I Chose. 

A wedge in place to drive across the log a great divide.

The canyon – the wedge – it went along an unanticipated path.

Shockingly it spread like lightening across the sky as the axe fell.

The thunder stolen. My light. My moment. My joy.

Unforgiven.

Pockets full of words brought from winter to spring. It’s time to change the seasons.

Put the tree and the clover into their designated boxes.

Soaking in a refreshing pool of water did not hide the tears.

Shedding off the burden like a fluffy winter sweater. It’s spring.

I placed the crocus behind my ear and it crumbled. I watched it in full bloom wither to flatness- depleted of its resources.

There’s too much light in here now… too much to steal. I’ve been sun kissed.

It stings a little, but maybe a little proclaiming is better than blaming seasons nonetheless.

I Went a Loggin’

If I were to go logging I would worry the whole time which way the tree would fall and how I would carry the burden. I would have it all plotted out and carefully designed in my implications of my plans, but in the end a little bit of chance, wind, and gravity take it in a direction I had not anticipated. This time last year I was completing applications for teaching jobs. I was networking my tail off, meeting, calling, and pestering. While I was stressing about the outcomes of falling trees that I could not control – I wasn’t sleeping well and my thoughts were all over the place. I wrote a blog about this place of indecision. The blog is called “My Mantra is in the Steady Pace of a Good Run”.

I describe running as a meditation and time of prayer- I am not talking about the short runs. I’m talking about these long runs that push beyond the point of comfort. A good run to me is when I can find a pace and a mantra that flow together. The blog previously mentioned includes my thoughts from a ten mile run. Below is the mantra –

Do not behave out of desperation. Do not behave out of character. Instead behave out of necessity. Behave with the strength and the courage that others may not possess and even when they do not understand the lengths you will go to … do NOT falter. Behave as you feel called to do and with that I arose like a shot out of the cannon I shaved nearly two minutes off of my pace in the next two miles. 

One of the things that has been blocking my mind for running is the fact that I knew I had not trained enough for a half marathon that was last weekend. I was disappointed with myself and just the luck of the situation – I had oral surgery, then got laryngitis and then bronchitis. I simply wasn’t ready with my training. It was like an entire beaver dam of logs set up around that artery clogging my mind. I was nearly ready to behave out of desperation and character. Instead I refocused myself to only do what was in that moment necessary to do  – which was to celebrate my husband’s success in completing the half-marathon on his own. He deserved for me to not be in a funk about myself and my bitter disappointment.

There is this special award in our town called a “triple crown”. If you run three half-marathons then you get a third award for being so awesome. I missed the first leg of the eligibility to earn the crown. Although it may seem silly, it was my goal of the year. I had let go of the possibility of tackling a marathon and had decided to settle on the three half-marathons. Much to my disappointment, I had to behave with strength and courage and admit to myself that the lengths I would have to go to would be unreachable. I awoke this morning realizing I had moved enough of my mental clogging away to just simply make a new goal. I feel as though I should act in a way that I’ve been called to do and capture it.

I just have to take one log at a time to get back to me. I needed to unclog some of those arteries that led to the path of me. In the last week I started with blogging because I hadn’t done that in far too long – I ran again – talked with my pastor for a long time – focused on my meals for the week – made sure I had some down time – and made some upcoming travel plans. I had in a sense shot out of a cannon again.

I Was at the Bend When I Fell Through

Last year on the greenway, I was running descending down a steep hill the kind where you start to feel the rush of the world pushing you faster than you would normally go on your own. Upon coming around a bend, I found a large log across the path with my legs coming to a sudden halt shocking my knees. I stood there for a minute wondering if I should just turn and take another route to the greenway. I pondered of what to do and then chuckled at my silliness. I quite easily just climbed over the tree. My legs remembering what to do just began the pace again and I ran on for about ten miles… exactly I don’t recall. I decided upon my return I would go another way home as an out and back run and not to try to climb over the tree again with such tired legs. I avoided that path for weeks. It was easier to take the detour without the journey over the tree.

I have been on a journey on finding the parts that make me whole and it has been amazing. These things include but are not limited to the following: running, chiropractic care, writing, prayer, music, clearing the clutter of home, time with my husband, time with my friends, recognizing those things that eliminated my internal flame, changing my diet, treating myself as an introvert, traveling and so on.

My artery of paths to me have been blocked by trees. I have been too tired to climb over them and instead just chose different paths all together. The problem is that all those paths have not led to me instead they have led to something else… someone else.

I knew that returning to the classroom would be a challenge. I knew that I would have trouble finding the balance. I knew that it would change me. I knew the time I was spending running on the pathway to me would be slowed down. There would be limitations and some paths I wouldn’t make enough time for because I simply can’t make time for it all. I wasn’t anticipating this storm- a massive clog of arteries that caused such intense pressure on the paths. It is like pushed edges of a jigsaw puzzle have caused it all to fall apart. I having survived the storm was alike that frustrating overwhelming feeling after completing a puzzle only to have it all ruined. What does it take to put it all back together again? Do I just shove it all back in the box or begin again to put it all back together?

If I were a broken puzzle, which pieces would I… should I pick up first? If I were to take the path to me again which arterial path is the deepest clog… which path is of greatest concern or which one is best to go over the log first. Should I just start with clearing the smallest easiest clogs or logs first? Which path is closest to the heart of me?

I so desire a run down the main artery of me- a long two to three hour run honestly and less poetically. A quiet meditative moment of prayer that lasts long enough to be assembling and organizing me. To do some assessing of the damages of this storm. I wish that instead of halting and jolting my knees that I had instead pondered and chuckled at myself and just simply found a way to find the strength, the time and the gumption to climb over all of these logs that clogged the arterial pathways of my inner workings.