Friday, May 16, 2014

What does your finish line look like?

It was a beautiful day for a run.  So I ran and I thought.  I think a lot when I run, in fact my best inspiration comes while running.   Today I thought about the last half marathon I ran.  The first 9 miles were down a steep canyon.  It made for a very fast pace along with very cramped muscles.   I worried at any point my muscles might seize up and I would be laying on the side of the road grabbing my leg in sheer agony like a few of the fellow racers I had passed.  It was not a pretty sight, it really didn't look fun and I really didn't want to join them.  Eventually, the steep canyon leveled out and flat land mixed with hills emerged.  I felt like I was running in quick sand.  I was barely moving.  The only thought playing over and over again in my mind was... Where's the end?  Around every turn I searched for any sign of a finish line.  I just wanted to be done.

 Finally, the end was in sight and I broke into a full out sprint to squelch the agony.  When I quit running, my leg seized up into a full cramp all the way down to my toes.  The very thing I had hoped to avoid I had hit head on.  I was inwardly freaking out and looking around for emergency aid.  I tried to pull my foot the opposite direction to ease the cramp out and I felt it releasing its grip.  Then I noticed tables for massages, I thought this would help my predicament.  It is here that I should mention that I wasn't running this race alone.  I had come with my sister and my son, Jesse and this was Jesse's first half marathon.  I knew my sister's pace would be around the 2 hour mark and Jesse's I thought would be a little before that.   I thought I had enough time to get a massage and still get back to see them finish.   The massage took longer than expected and I hurriedly hobbled off  in search of them.  To my disappointment, when I saw them they were already at the car.   My sister asked where I was. She was looking all through the crowds for me as she ran towards the finish line. ( And her pics on the homebound stretch verified that she was telling the truth- every pic. showed her with this searching look on her face.)  She was hoping to find me cheering for her,  but I wasn't there.  I thought I would have enough time to do both.  I didn't.

The consequences of not being able to see my son finish his first half marathon and cheer my sister over the finish line still fills me with regret.  I wish I could go back and choose differently, but since I can't...learning is my consolation prize.  I learned time is fleeting.  We may not have time to do all we want to do in life.  We have to choose.  We have to decide what is most important to us every day. If we don't prioritize, we will find ourselves in the thick of thin things.  I took a good look at myself and saw the things that I proclaimed were important to me weren't showing up on my radar every day.  God was important to me, but personal scripture study wasn't happening every day.  Some days were busy and I didn't get around to it.  If He is the most important thing in my life.... why were other things taking precedence?  Or my family, they are the greatest treasure to me on earth and yet again on some days I was so busy or tired that I didn't have time or energy left to spend quality time with them.

Whether we realize it or not, there is a finish line and there are consequences for the choices we are making here.  Some people don't believe it or don't care, but that doesn't change the reality.  The scriptures talk of judgement day for everyone and there is no way around it.  The way we spend our time and the choices we make determine destiny.

I hope to write a better ending to my life's race.  That when my sister looks for me, I am there cheering her on.  I hope when my son is accomplishing his goals that I am there to rejoice with him and I hope when my race is over and I am there before God that I can look up at Him confidently knowing I ran well the race He set before me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keep Trying... has victory written all over it.


It was Sunday- 2 days of watching General Conference (Talks from Prophet and apostles and leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) was over.  I listened.  I took notes.  I felt inspired and then what.  

Well, after having been scrunched together on couches in the same room for the majority of the two days- we needed out.  We went outside to bask in the sun.  Some just wanted to sit and let the sun warm them and not be bothered.  Others were full of energy and kept running round the house begging me to time them as they ran.  And so began my 1-mississippi, 2-mississippi counting as they ran faster and faster trying to beat the last run time.  Then began tag.  How do these things start?  At first it was easy- there were 2 other people besides myself who wouldn't get off the porch chairs so I would just lean over and tag one of them and then yell no tags back, insuring I had a little rest before I got tagged again.  Then one person moved from the chairs, now it was more complicated, if you were sitting and the person next to you tagged you, you now had to venture out to find someone else.  Ugh- I now needed to go get shoes- I grabbed the shoes closest to the door, my 10 year old daughter's, pink flip-flops.  I came out, she was the first to notice her shoes on my feet and her facial expression clearly revealed she was not pleased with my shoe selection, but her face quickly changed once I ran after her.  She then realized flip flops did slow me down and gave her a better chance of remaining tag free and she made no further comments.

Now everyone was up off the porch and scattered.  Nick, my 15 yr old- perhaps the fastest runner in the family, at home, at the time- (putting all the clarifications in)- had been tagged and I saw he was coming after me.  My first reaction was... Why are you picking on your tired, flip flop footed mom and then a prideful feeling followed...  (I'm not proud of it)  I'll make you sorry for picking me.  I ran out of the yard and through the orchards, where the bee man had recently left cubes of hives of bees everywhere for pollinating, so bees were everywhere. I thought for sure that would change his mind and he would go after someone else.  

After having run up several rows, I looked back to see where he was.  He was still there.  Seriously?  I ran on.  I did an elaborate scheme of criss cross through the orchard, making it hard to detect which direction I was heading.  I looked back, now out of the orchard and on to the other side of an open field.  I could still see him coming for me!  Really, this is ridiculous! 

 But I am not to be deterred... I  mean I exercise all the time, I have run several races, surely he will see there are easier targets than me and give up at some point.  I run on.. so does he.  I run crossing the water ditch canal and look back.. now out of breath... he is still coming.  I yell at him "Stop chasing me!!!"  He does not.  I realize I must run again.  This time around an empty plowed up field.  I see my mistake as I look back, the trail I have taken goes around and he is running straight across instead of taking the trail and has broken any distance I had created.  I now just run- no longer looking back. I now curse my quickly chosen shoe selection!  

Within another minute or two I am caught.  My only victory is that he is out of breath and sweating profusely.  He puts his sweaty arm around me proclaiming, "Sweet Victory!"  He is smiling ear to ear.  I can feel his happiness radiating beyond his being.  It is a tough half mile to endure home, especially with him basking in glory and me resigned to digesting a full helping of humble pie.

It is only after I get home that I decide to watch the only session of conference I had missed- Priesthood session and it is here that I discover the reason for Nick's victory.  Several talks were given encouraging one to never give up.  No matter how difficult a problem or trial- to be steadfast and keep trying and you will gain the victory.  It seems Nick had not only listened to the messages, but had taken them to heart.  I sat there no longer disgruntled over my loss, but smiling that my son had experimented upon the message, tried to live it and found for himself that it was true. His example led me back to my own conference notes I had taken and seeking the Spirit to find which ones I needed to work on. I found a few and hope that I will be just as committed as he was and no matter how hard the journey of change becomes that I will, like him, just keep trying until I have tasted sweet victory.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Something is beginning to grow...

I like to watch the news while I work out in the mornings.  Working out pumps me up.  I feel exuberant afterwards.  But this last week, I hurt my knee and I haven't seen the sun for days and with the latest news stories, I found myself in the dumps.  I watched story after story unfold, marijuana being sold in stores in Colorado and long lines formed out the doors, people waiting in the winter cold to purchase it legally.  I looked at the faces of the people buying it, they were regular folks, young and old and everything in between.  I couldn't believe it.  Then the next segment, a pop star in court twice this week for different incidents.  One of them involved with drag racing and being high on marijuana and prescription drugs and alcohol. Oh yes, drugs are such a good idea, let's legalize more... they make our world so much better!  Rounding off the morning segment is a couple who killed his ex-girlfriend, leaving two small children without a mom.  What a great world we live in!

I sunk in deeper to the gloom, feeling helpless to change it.  The world is spiraling out of control because of people's choices.  Really it all comes down to that.  And if I could get every person to understand one thing  it would be this... Yes you are free to make any choice you want, but your choices will affect more than just you. We are all connected.

 I share exhibit A.  When I was in this frustrated with the world mode, I was transferring how I felt to those around me unknowingly until my daughter voiced how she was feeling, "I just feel agitated and I don't know why."  And then I did a self check... oh yeah, that's me.  My frustration spread like a virus, infecting everyone I came in contact with. 

Then I watched a link on facebook, where these two guys decided to perform random acts of kindness and videoed what happened.  It was awesome.  They paid for the lunch of the car behind them and the guy hears his meal is paid for by the car in front of him and a smile spreads across his face and he flips a thumbs up to those guys.  Then the same two guys leave $500 for a cleaning lady at a hotel.  This girl was having a hard time and when she pulls back the covers and sees the $500 in $20 bill increments, her hand goes to her mouth in incredulity, tears come to her eyes.  She can't believe it.  I feel tears start to come to my eyes and I feel goodness return.  I feel it again later that night when my small son comes to my room with a leg ache.  I rub his leg to try to make it better as he whimpers.  I then go to get medicine.  I watch as he still moans in pain and then I see him on his own, crawl out from under the covers and kneel to say a prayer.  Goodness envelopes my heart.

Though the world may be gray and gloomy, though not everyone has figured out yet that their choices matter and affect others, goodness is still here and if we want to find it... we will have to hang around really good people all the time or become it ourselves.  I realized if I wanted to change the world... I needed to start with changing me.  If I wanted to see goodness, I needed to create it. 

Yesterday it began as I took the time to sit and read with my child, then later smiled at a stranger in the store, then wished someone well that was sick and sent up prayers for them and others in need.  Today is another day to look around and plant some good seeds and I can't help but notice the dark clouds that loomed around for days and held me prisoner have given way to the sun.  It is shining bright and I can't help but think that something good is growing.