This is the “busy season” of life, as one of my dear friends recently commented. And it’s true – we rush off to work and school, and balance everything from volunteering in the classroom to soccer practice drop off. Cooking dinner, helping with homework, checking in on out-of town parents, trying to make sure the kids have clean underwear. It sometimes feels like a never-ending cycle of one.thing.after.another.
How do we remain present in the eye of the storm? How do we find those moments of glory, both recognizing them as they happen and celebrating them? How do we catch our breath and give ourselves the space to see the world around us clearly? How do we sort through the whirlwind of thoughts, questions, worries, and dilemmas in our head? Justin tells me often that I should meditate (he has taken up the practice and loves it), but I can never seem to “find the time.” But truly, I know that I have my own practice.
I had been a casual runner in college, and continued to enjoy the sport in my early adult life. It was a life-giving practice, one that gave me confidence and power, but something about my having four kids in five years precluded running for several years. This was the beginning of my “busy season.” Many days, I barely had time to shower and had no backup childcare, so the ability to take off for even a quick jog felt like an impossibility.
Fast forward to four years ago. Our family was vacationing in Southern California for the Summer, and I began to go for a jog here and there on the beach boardwalk. When Justin was around to stay with the kids for a quick 30 minutes, I was out the door in a flash – sun shining, water sparkling, reveling in my happy place. I could feel the energy infusing my body as I ran. I always, always returned calmer, more centered, more awake than when I left. Many days, I ran away from the chaos, and inevitably, turned around halfway through and voluntarily ran back to it, heart open.
Every year, I told Justin of my hopes to continue running once we returned home to Northern California in the Fall, always keeping those moments of glory top of mind. Each year though, “fitting it in” somehow still seemed an insurmountable task. I made so many excuses for why, even though working out in some fashion was still possible, running would be too difficult.
Then came last summer. During our stint in Southern California, I once again returned to the practice of jogging on the boardwalk. And once again, it was just as soul-filling and life-giving as it had ever been. The kids would come along sometimes, riding beside me on their beach cruisers. But mostly I went alone, taking the opportunity for 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to sort out my thoughts. When we departed for home at the end of the Summer, I once again told Justin of my hopes for keeping this practice alive when the school year resumed again. A few days after arriving home, I went for a run, and I haven’t turned back.
I run to breathe life into my body. I run to nourish my soul. I run to gain energy for the never-ending list of things to do, and for the perspective to enjoy these sometimes-mundane tasks. I run to tend to my worries, to celebrate my joys, and sometimes just to escape the chaos for a bit. Laying in bed at night, when my mind sometimes turns to worry, I am able to compartmentalize, telling myself that I can sort it all out on my next run. And I always do.
I’m grateful for this “busy season” of life, and thankful for the perspective and clarity I can always count on in my thirty minutes of separation with the wind in my face, and the pavement beneath my feet.