Lately, I just keep running. My brain is so full. I am a bottle of champagne just waiting to be corked and running allows me to pop the cork, no one else. I need an appointment with my own thoughts, but they were so busy they couldn’t fit me in. So it got clogged. I made mistakes, first little ones then much larger ones. Or was it a lot of little ones that made me look like one big failure? Either way, I didn’t have time to organize my (many) thoughts. And the cork blew on me. With running, I am alone in my head, letting it all go. All those analysis, those worries, the funny musings and the downright cliché; it all piled on top of each other, like the laundry I don’t have time to sort. This isn’t something that happened last year or recently; this is a lifetime of bubbling anxiety. I need to get healthy. I promised myself.
I am going for a run. I set the process in motion. Find socks. They don’t have to match. (They never do). Shoes, ear buds, phone, watch, running pants, sweatshirt, all these things that make the run possible. I slip on my “Paradise Valley MT” sweatshirt pulling the cuffs around my wrists and thinking about the day I bought it, another souvenir from the road trip. I was cold for the first time as the river sparkled, a reflection of the sun tucking itself into the mountains and pulling a blanket of stars up to its chin telling the good night story of the Montana skyline. I secure my phone into the front pocket and turn on the running tracker and tie my shoes to see Jackson barrel toward me. Go running Mommy? he asks, wiggling between my shoelaces and my chest. Yes, go running. I tell him. He wants to join. I distract him with toys. This is alone time, 5K of glorious alone time.
As my feet and breathing sync with the rifts of guitar and drums, I pick up my pace. The cemetery is a maze and I wind through the many paths as my pace and my thoughts align with the music I turned up way too loud. I needed an activity. I was a bloated version of my former self, who tried not to reflect on numbers on a scale or labels in a pair of pants for validation. Confidence. I keep reminding myself lately, a daily affirmation of positivity. I have been running for three months now. It stared with one the couch to 5K Ap, and then became a habit. My life is much more physical now. Chasing toddlers, serving drinks, writing until all hours of the night, I am restarting a lifestyle I forgot about. When I stand up, my body aches in anticipation of actually aching. I feel so old reliving my youth. I laugh. I run and laugh, or run and cry or just feel thoughts bouncing around thankful to running for giving me so much and costing so little. I catch my reflection in mirrors around the house and do a little confidence shimmy. I deserve that. I have set so many goals for myself lately, writing, sales, learning, sharing: published author. These expectations wake up with me every morning and go to bed with me each night. I keep running, wondering if it is in the right direction. But I feel pretty damn good and the rest will be up to fate and I just keep running, hoping it is not a million miles in the wrong direction. Today I run 5k and tomorrow I will try to do the same. One day my jeans started to fit again.
I finish my run. Begin cool down. My phone instructs. My head is buzzing with clarity. I walk back to home, back to my toddlers and my busy life. I walk slightly taller, slimmer. It is a beautiful winter day, the sun both warm and cool at the same time and the music in my ears matches soft breeze. For a second everything is calm. The cold weather, the anxiety, this life, it just stops for a moment and only the sweet song in my ear matters. I look over, the sunlight reflecting on a cellophane wrapper. It is something so ordinary but its placement, perfectly in the middle of the road, is downright peculiar. A partial loaf of bread sits among the gravel and road bumps. I smile and my clear head tries to come up with another explanation rather than it was stale for —whack! A tree branch, a sad branch fated to only be trimmed by the electric company, stings me right on the face. I am left with a bruise and a metaphor. No matter how clear I am, there is no control over what can smack me right in the face. So I continue to enjoy it, the newly found confidence, the clarity I get from running and the cute running clothes I can finally feel validated buying. It really doesn’t matter what direction I am running toward, as long as I keep trying.