Category Archives: Knoxville Life
As April was closing, my beloved and I started filling out our family schedule for May. We don’t always keep a written schedule per se; but when we know we have a lot to juggle, we’ll go the extra measure to write it all down in a high-traffic area. As much as I’d love to say we have a cute dry erase board chart thingy, we typically just use dry erase markers on our bathroom mirror. It gets the job done, and we have to face it several times a day. May was a month worthy of scheduling; and though we tried to keep up, there was no way for us to anticipate the deluge of life storms that came our way last month.
The Story of Shiloh
The biggest focus of May for our family was Shiloh and his reaching several milestones. I haven’t said much about Shiloh on this blog for several reasons, the most important of which is that he is deserving of his own right to life without the added pressure of having it put on display from my perspective. For everyone not intimately involved in our lives, Shiloh is Dan’s youngest sibling, and he’s been living with us for two years now. Shiloh had asked to come visit us for the summer a couple of times, and in May 2011, he asked if he could come stay with us until he graduated, which would be two years. When he asked, we were at the point in our lives when we just couldn’t justify taking in more people. We hadn’t even been married and living with just each other for a whole year by then. But having both grown up in similar situations, Shiloh’s proposal from a pure, sincere heart was an undeniable request for us; we literally couldn’t say no.
We knew taking Shiloh into our family wasn’t going to be like bringing a stray animal home. We’d already lived through being the medical guardians for my mother for two years; so we had experience being caregivers. Also, I completed all the coursework (except student teaching) for secondary education certification in college, and as part of that coursework I taught several courses in both Math and English subjects for both general education and special education students. Even without having nine months to prepare for a child like many parents, Dan and I were more prepared than most, I think.
We spent the first year using an incredibly hands-on, involved, helicopter, hover parenting method. We let him have a few weeks on his own at school, and then we promptly identified his areas of improvement and put him on a strict schedule. We developed study habits, made flash cards, and had almost monthly meetings with his teachers and guidance counselors. We logged into Parent Portal and monitored his grades every single day. He was late to class once, and by lunch that day he’d had a phone call from one of us asking why. The kid had no room to fail, and in this first year, Shiloh went from being in special education for eight years to testing out of special education and enrolling in general education and even some college preparatory courses. In this one school year, Shiloh took four 90-minute courses in school each semester in addition to an extra online course at home each semester AND a summer school course. He did all of this in ONE YEAR.
Shiloh’s senior year, we gave him a lot more room. We gave him his own plate of responsibilities and left it up to him to schedule and manage them. We still monitored his grades through Parent Portal, and we communicated with his teachers regularly, though less frequently than before. We had to help him in the beginning of each semester to set the pace, but he was mostly self-managed by mid-semester.
Instead of focusing so much on his school life his senior year, we switched over to life skills and plans for after graduation. At the beginning of the school year, we advised Shiloh that he would need to be prepared with a plan by January. We explained how college applications and financial aid worked; and we attended financial aid and scholarship meetings held at his high school as a family. He’d spoken to military recruiters as well as college admissions counselors, and he started filling out college applications. We made sure he had taken all the tests he needed, and we were ready for more formal plans by spring break. In the meantime, Dan had been working with him on learning to drive. Shiloh’s senior year was chock-full of life skills.
He graduated in May with a regular diploma (not the Special Education diploma he was scheduled/expected to receive). He also graduated as a recipient of the Tennessee Achieves Scholarship. Proud isn’t the word. Overjoyed doesn’t cut it. I’m not sure a word exists for what we feel for Shiloh and all he has done in two very short years living with us. But we feel it. We couldn’t have done it without the help of truly great people. You know who you are. You gave us clothes and bedding. You endured us at parent-teacher meetings. You encouraged us and told us we could do it when we thought we couldn’t. You made sure we were also taking care of ourselves. You made sure Daniel and I kept talking to each other about everything…all the time just to stay on the same page. You have been there for us through all of this, and we think this is something YOU should be proud of and overjoyed about, too.
Shiloh is currently working at his very first job, a superb fine dining establishment most people like to call Arby’s. He’ll transition from working here while living with us to living on his own by this fall. He’ll spend maybe six months…maybe a year…just finding/maintaining a work-life balance. Then he will go back to school. His hope is to become a police officer and study criminal justice. He knows it might take him longer than others, but he’s committed to his goal.
It has taken Dan and me almost a decade of living on our own to navigate ourselves out of poverty and acquire the social mores to swim among the upwardly mobile without causing too many awkward ripples. We’ve embarrassed ourselves more times than we can count or care to remember, and we’ve had considerable time to learn our way around. Shiloh, on the other hand, was thrust from one world into another, and it threw us for a loop trying to teach him with this culture shock. We never thought we’d have to teach a teenager how to use the internet, email, or Facebook. We didn’t expect that he wouldn’t have favorite colors, bands, books, or movies. These are just a smattering of the unexpected challenges of bringing Shiloh into our lives, and we faced those, too.
In the last two years I’ve learned a few things about parenting that I want to remember when Daniel and I have children of our own. Maybe these are similar to lessons you’ve learned, too. If I’ve left out something you think is obvious, please share it! I’m ending with this list in the hopes you will add to it. Thanks for reading.
- Above and beyond all other things, read with your children. Read cultural mythologies so they know all the ways we’ve come to be who we are. Read fantasy to encourage their imagination. Read science fiction to pique their sense of possibility. Read coming of age tales so they can learn through similar shared experiences. Read plays and poetry along with biographies and history. Parents should read to their children until their children can read; then they should read with their children. Parents who read with their children expose them to greater vocabulary and generally increased cognitive development aside from sharing the beautiful spectrum of humanity with them. Note to all concerned parties: I recently went to a baby shower where instead of cards, we bought children’s books and shared our sentiments for family and baby there. Please do this for my yet to be conceived baby’s shower and for any baby shower you attend moving forward. It’s the best baby-prep idea I’ve ever heard.
- Use music to teach math. I can speak from personal experience on this topic. I’ve always loved numbers, and I used to comfort myself as a child with counting to myself. I usually counted my steps, which (I think) contributed to my currently keen sense of direction and navigation. But when I joined the band program at 11, it changed my life, and I never received lower than a B in school ever since. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had taken every math course my high school offered, and I tutored my senior year. I firmly believe my deep love of music corresponds to success and eventual affection for mathematics. Using music to teach math makes the logic and rules seem less restrictive because it is so creative. Of the varied things I am grateful to have experienced with Shiloh, sharing music with him is my absolute favorite. I’ve exposed him to Tom Petty, System of a Down, and Mumford & Sons, and I know he’s off to a good start with that mix. At the beginning of this school year, I demonstrated the Fibonacci Sequence using Tool, and explained how music is math expressed audibly. Ever since then neither of us had to help Shiloh with a single math class, and he earned a B on his own.
- Take your children out in public and expect them to act appropriately; but be flexible. This takes repetition multiple times a day every single day for months and years before it starts to sink in. My co-worker’s kids are the most polite, well-behaved children I’ve ever seen; but even they have been known to consume fries off Wal-Mart’s floor a time or two. It takes time and a lot of effort, but raising your children to be well-mannered is an early step for social confidence later in life. They won’t be confused about table manners when their potential boss wants to interview them over dinner. If moms take their sons on dates, they’ll know how to treat ladies, and the same goes with dads/daughters. Simply put, if we as parents model healthy social interactions, our children will pick it up naturally and be much better off for it.
- Let them fail. Sure, in tee-ball leagues, all participants should get a trophy. When you’re three and four, it shouldn’t matter if anyone wins. But when your children are school-aged and playing sports or participating in a skill-based activity, you need to let them fail. Let them lose a game or a spelling bee. They need to learn disappointment along with joy and how fleeting both are in life. This way, when something bad happens, they will have a bouncier foundation for rebounding from it. Teach them that their self worth is not in winning OR losing, getting the grade or failing it. Teach them they are worthy and special just because they exist—that all people are worthy, regardless of where they’re born, what they have (or don’t), who they might love, or what they are (or aren’t) able to do.
- Make them move. Kids have a lot of energy; let them burn it off with physical activity. If your kid is sedentary, check the diet for too many processed/sugary foods and not enough fruits, vegetables, and water. Hiking, swimming, bicycling, board sports, rock climbing, disc golf, regular golf, soccer, American football, tennis, horseback riding, archery, (get the picture yet?). There are too many things “to do” to ever be bored. Ever. Sure some of them cost money, but most of them don’t. Making children accustomed to an active lifestyle will prolong their lives AND increase their quality of life.
In my last post, I briefly alluded to freaking out in the week preceding my first half marathon. As I mentioned, I wasn’t super excited because I was nervous about the mileage increase; but my freak out was mostly in reaction to knowing my beloved had organized an “entourage” to follow me along my race route and to celebrate after the race. I had just returned to Facebook after my Lenten hiatus to see that more people had committed to being there than I ever imagined. All I could think was that these people, some old friends and some new friends, were going to stand in the heat (and possible rain) for several hours just to watch me pass by them for a moment.
You see, I’m about the least patient person that I know, and I felt bad asking anyone other than my own husband to endure waiting around for me in the back of the pack. If I were a better runner, maybe I wouldn’t feel so bad; but I knew better than anyone else how long it would take. Because I hadn’t actually run the complete route before the race, I couldn’t exactly gauge when I’d be at certain checkpoints. I estimated based on my long-run performance, but running 13 miles is an unpredictable beast when the farthest you’ve ever run is 9 miles. So how could I really ask people to get up early on a Sunday and stand around for hours? Truthfully, I would never do that because I’m so impatient; I could never see myself doing something like that. (Maybe that makes me a bad friend? Maybe I need to learn how to be a good friend?) The only person I actually expected to be there was my husband, and that was only because the race was on a day he was off from work.
A Little Help from My Friends
Of course anyone’s first half marathon is a big deal, and most people would expect it to be a cause for celebration. I am not most people. I rarely ever ask for help. I never think anyone else I know would remotely care that I’m running in any race. I figure they’ve got better things to do, things that are more important to them. I figure the only people who really care about my running are other runners.
All of those assumptions might be true. But what I didn’t consider was that, though the people who showed up might not give a rat’s ass about running, they care about me. They wanted to support me because that’s what friends do. When I couldn’t get excited about it for myself, they got excited about it for me. Slowly and with my husband’s insistence, I came around to the concept that I have people in my life. I have people who are willing to get up early on a Sunday, people who are willing to stand around for hours, even in the heat and possible rain.
In a moment of bravery, I sent an email to my church. I let them know I didn’t want to speak up about it considering it was Palm Sunday and that Easter was coming, but that I could really use some encouragement for this event. And in response, as I was leaving church the week prior to the race, I was overwhelmed with love and encouragement from these people. My people.
That same week, my husband met with his friends from work to make signs. People I’ve only met a few times, people I hardly even know were staying up late making signs for my race. Of course I couldn’t be there; I was training. And still they did it. Some of them showed up too, even though they had sick babies at home, even though they never get up early on Sundays.
So this post is a very honorable mention and thank you for the people who thought of me, wrote to me, spoke words of encouragement to me, made signs, showed up, sent texts, and celebrated with me. This post is for every spectator who waits for the runners at the back of the pack. This post is for the people in my life. Thank you so much.
Getting up early on a Saturday morning might not be at the top of your To-Do list. Neither is running eight miles. But I have a long run this Saturday (as I do on all Saturdays), and the Knoxville Endurance group will be meeting in the very beautiful Townsend, TN for a Pre-Boston Marathon training run. (Important Side Note: Running in the BM is not a requirement of participating in this event; duh, I’m going to be there!)
Because I’m always bringing up the rear solo, and because I’m not scheduled for nearly as many miles as the rest of the crew, chances are very likely that I’ll be running through the picturesque Smoky Mountains alone. While I’m used to running alone, and though I think it could be a fun way to practice meditative running, my husband and male coworker expressed serious concern about my participating in this mostly alone. To ease their worries, I posted my running route on my Daily Mile profile, but that has done little to assuage their concerns. My coworker is willing to make me a monkey fist with some spare paracord he has because he says that’s better (for me) than pepper spray or a gun/knife option; and my husband wants me to make a sincere attempt at recruiting a buddy to run with me.
It’s so nice to have people who care about me this way, and this would typically be a request I dish out to my Facebook crowd, but I’m not actually checking Facebook, and I know this request will auto-post there as well as on my LinkedIn page. So…(crickets chirping)…does anyone want to meet me in Townsend, TN at 8:45 AM this Saturday to run 8 miles? I promise it will be beautiful, and if you need me to provide transportation, I’ll do it. If you’re interested, please either leave a comment here, or send me an email.
Thanks so much!
Just over a week ago, Jim over at The Running Father Blog posted a callout for transpersonal testimonies, and I took the bait. What follows is my personal testimony…of faith and doubt, of a childhood steeped in fear and abuse, of an adult living with the fallout, of many deaths, and of surviving.
Stages of Development
According to Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Human Development, the first thing we learn is either to trust or to mistrust. The easiest example is a parent responding to an infant’s cries. Whether the baby is hungry, tired, or needing a diaper change, the baby has a need, and it is communicating that need with shrill wails. If the parent responds to the baby’s cry with feeding, holding, or changing, then the baby learns to trust that the parent will provide and care for its needs. However, if the parent lets the baby wail and does not feed, hold, or change it, then the baby learns that it cannot trust the parent.
Because the parent is literally the whole world for a baby, this lesson of mistrust then influences the baby’s worldview (and according to Erikson, the potential for successfully mastering the subsequent stages of development as they come up). The subsequent stages of development are: autonomy vs. shame (in the toilet training timeframe), initiative vs. guilt (preschool aged), industry vs. inferiority (primary school aged), identity vs. role confusion (adolescence), intimacy vs. isolation (in young adulthood), generativity vs. stagnation (in middle age), and finally ego integrity vs. despair (in elder years).
It’s fairly safe to say that I was on the losing end of these stages until at least elementary school or adolescence. I essentially survived my childhood as best as I could, and my saving grace in my early life was being in school. Once I learned to count, I counted everything…all the time. Then once I learned to read (in Head Start), and was able to bring books home (in elementary school), I read…all the time. Counting and reading transported me from an unstable, scary home situation into a world of order, patterns, and escapism. Of course my parents, siblings, and school kids thought I was freakish for being a space cadet, tuning everything (and everyone) out most of the time and that I was a lazy loner for choosing to read alone over hanging out with the neighborhood kids.
By the time I was 11, I had a bike, interests of my own, and I had learned to avoid home at all costs, and that’s how I survived. Considering the trauma in my formative years, it’s no wonder I have a hard time trusting people even now, or the gravity of things I walk around with daily. I know I’m lucky to have survived my childhood, and I’m luckier still that I’m not locked away in an institution, either mental or prison. That’s not an exaggeration. I’m literally a statistical anomaly considering my socioeconomic, dysfunctional background.
Of course I’ve been to a variety of therapists, and you know what they say? All of them? “Well, you’re quite well adjusted!” No fucking shit, Sherlock. That I haven’t succumbed to homicidal rages, been successful with suicide, or fallen into the abyss of criminality either means I’m a moderately high functioning sociopath…or I’m okay in spite of everything I’ve experienced.
Snake Oil Salvation
When you take a young girl with my history and add an element of charismatic, evangelical Christianity to the mix, what you end with is a girl who’s suffered unspeakable things thinking she was born damned into the world and deserving of her tragic lot in life. And that’s a goddamned shame.
Drawn to Christianity’s promise of eternal love, I ran to, begged, and pleaded with God to save me…or to let me die. I remember being nine years old and literally praying to God to let me die so I didn’t have to live anymore. (WHAT THE FUCK, INDEED?) But with the resilience that ONLY comes from youth, I embraced the concept of eternal salvation; and I became a proselytizing, evangelical Christian teenager. I channeled all my anger and fear into rigid religious fervor. But I still had questions, so I read the Bible, and I took Biblical courses at church.
When God never rescued me despite all my trying and learning and in the depths of my despair, I chose to let myself die and attempted suicide at sixteen. Though I survived, I think part of me did die then. I’ve felt very much in-between ever since, partly alive and partly dead. I was both corporeal and ethereal at the same time. Some might say I was fragile (they have). I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t say there’s a single fragile thing about me, then or now. I’m as hard and cold as a corpse, and it takes an unbelievable level of effort to force myself to be warm with people.
I had even more questions about faith, and I was desperate for a loving community, so I chose a Christian college when I was lucky enough to have the opportunity. College. Well, it really was the best of times and worst of times. I went through an early marriage, miscarriage, and divorce all before graduating in four years…with two majors… three part time jobs…and a chip on my shoulder the size of Alaska. I was villainized by some for mustering the courage to hold my head up and for bouncing back after the divorce. I was publicly humiliated for wearing a Kerry/Edwards t-shirt while cleaning in the cafeteria on voting day. You read things like Jane Eyre and Great Expectations, or anything by Flannery O’Connor, and you think despicable people like that can’t possibly exist in real life. I’m telling you, I’ve met more than one Bible salesman willing to steal a wooden leg!
As rough as it was, college was also a period of awakening and of finding the deep love of a Christian community, when I wasn’t angry at it, of course. My friends and I would walk barefoot by Buffalo Creek quoting Adam Bede, writing songs, and living out our social justice in the form of hospitality for one another. I never locked my doors. I always left my keys in my car for any of my friends to use as they needed. I never knew if people would be in my apartment…or not. I never claimed ownership over much, but I also never went without anything I needed. I ate well. All my bills were paid…in spite of the money I had or didn’t. It was faith inspired socialism, and it was so beautiful. We lived out the miracle of the loaves and fishes in my last couple of years at college, and it sustained me on more than just material levels.
With my college experiences, my questions about faith only grew, and I became more vocal about my universalist leanings. And then I went to seminary. I realize now that probably wasn’t the best route for me; but I was fresh out of college and not ready to leave my community…so I went to the seminary on the holy hill across the street. I only stayed a year.
In seminary, I gained a love of textual criticism, early Christian tradition, liturgy and ritual, Biblical languages, and early American Christian History, but my doubts than any of it was real, meaningful, or nourishing had also become overwhelming. So I took some time away from church when I left seminary.
In the four years after leaving seminary, I tried going back to church several times, but I just couldn’t. I tried the Methodists because I love John Wesley. I tried the Episcopalians because they drink and have great senses of humor…about faith…and life. The most pleasantly sarcastic people I know are Episcopalian. I strongly considered joining an Episcopal church here in Knoxville, but my husband and I were the youngest people in the congregation by at least a few decades, so the search was still on for a spiritual community.
Dark Night of the Soul
In those same four years after seminary, I struggled in the typical post-collegiate ways. I was overworked, grossly abused by my employer, underpaid, and had no benefits at all. And then I quit that job and struggled with unemployment. But wait…there’s more! To deal with…gosh everything in my life, I started taking an anti-depressant while working for said abusive employer. I was on it a whole month before I quit that job. With all my medical experience, I figured it was okay to just stop taking it. It had only been a month, right? Biggest mistake of my whole life. Ever.
I don’t remember much about the month of November, 2007. I am deeply ashamed of everything I put my husband (then boyfriend) through at that time, but I also know I wasn’t really in control of what was happening. I’m going to blame it all on very bad judgment and quitting my new medication so suddenly (because taking someone with so many demons and fucking with their brain chemistry that way is a disaster just waiting to happen). And it was a disaster.
Some people have a period of depression after confronting (and being consumed with) religious doubt and life struggles. It’s normal, really. But ever the over-achiever, I actually had a certifiable mental breakdown. My beloved took me to the doctor, told him I was broken and lost and not the woman he fell in love with, and he asked for the help that I couldn’t ask for. It took me over a year of taking the right dosage of the right medication to level my brain back out, and the process of figuring out that perfect cocktail was a nightmare all on its own (for me and especially for Daniel).
When I felt better and stronger, I told my doctor I wanted to go off the meds; and I’ve been successfully off of them since early 2009. But I’m not the same. I don’t know that I’ll ever be the same. Maybe part of me died then, too. In all the things I’d been through, I had never experienced debilitating anxiety like I have since living on the flip side of that coin. The constant tentativeness and fear that seems to follow me around since then are like stormy clouds always on the horizon, or a flock of dark pixies overjoyed at my torment.
In the summer of 2010, I started going back to church. I was so skittish. And they let me be. They let me stay on the edges as long as I needed. Even now, they don’t judge me for the times I’m the Roadrunner out the door after service. Or, if they do, they love me the same anyway, and that’s all that really matters. They preach love, and they practice social justice. They care for the people in the margins. They give space and time and validation to people who are experiencing moments of brokenness, and they offer healing to all who would take it. They are made up of people who’ve been rejected and hurt by their loved ones as well as by the Church. They’re religious scholars with rich theology. They embrace and use liturgy regularly, and I’m sure services are planned; but no one gets bent out of shape when something goes awry. I dare say no music leader is as quick with the witty, musical improvisation as ours! And the children’s/youth’s presence in the congregation and service sets the most beautiful example for us as adults.
Along with my return to a spiritual community, I began practicing yoga in October 2010. It really did start as a practical alternative to physical therapy. But it became the first way I ever learned to be comfortable in my own body and mind. I learned to breathe. I learned to be still without relying on obsessive counting, or escaping through literature. I became physically stronger, and then I became inspired…to see what I could do…to learn what challenges I could overcome.
Last year for Lent, I started practicing yoga every day, and so many unexpected obstacles arose. Uncontrollable crying. Anger. Shaking. A return of nightmares, sometimes night terrors. I think my body was finally experiencing a delayed reaction of sorts to all the pain that had been inflicted upon it. And then last summer a friend committed suicide. In my emotional rawness and because of my own near-miss as well as our communication just a couple days before it happened, it hit me and left me down for the count. I gave myself time to grieve, and then I started moving on before I drowned in it. I went back to church, kept up with my yoga practice, added running, and started practicing Buddhist metta meditation.
I’d say I’m still in the process of reclaiming my life. I still cry sometimes when I do certain yoga poses. When I run, listening to loud, screaming types of music, I feel like my whole body is exercising/exorcising out all of my demons. I’m mostly sleepless, unless it’s out of sheer physical exhaustion. And sometimes it’s hard to shake the negative thoughts from my mind. But I’m still active in my spiritual community. I continue in my yoga & meditation practices, and I’m getting better at running every single day. I journal my reactions to life and culture here on this blog. In reading it, I sincerely hope this stage of my life is as inspiring as it is for me to be living it. Because as hard as all of this is, it’s all worth it.
So what am I? What do I believe? What is good or evil? What is my salvation?
Because our culture likes labels, I guess I’m a Post-Traumatic, Post-Evangelical, Post-Fundamentalist, Post-Academic, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Christian, Yogi. I wouldn’t say I’m a mystic because of my cynicism; but I’m probably more authentically mystic than all the people rushing to India to kiss the feet of their gurus and get new names. The very definition of mysticism, as Wikipedia goes, is “the pursuit of, communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct, or insight.” Yup, I’d say I’m probably a mystic; but I don’t dig the talk of chakras or of chanting, or of faith healing. So I’m a cynical mystic as well as a statistical anomaly. Somehow that all seems fitting.
Similarly, the term “charismatic” takes me back to the scary days of life in a Pentecostal church with speaking in tongues, demon possession, and spiritual warfare. I would absolutely say I am not charismatic at all. But the literal and original meaning of charisma is “grace,” and were it not for receiving the grace of all the people who’ll have me, I’d be completely alone in this world.
What is good and evil? Well, I’m an expert at evil, so I’ll start there. Evil is anything that tells us “I am me, and you are you.” If “I am me,” then that means I exist outside of “you.” It means that we are different. It means I can pass righteous judgment on you and you on me. It means I create a sense of self and a sense of other. As long as I have a sense of self and a sense of other, I can debase whatever is “other.” This is the foundation of poverty and war, which are also evil. It is the foundation of thinking one person can own another person and therefore treat “their” people however they please, which is usually to say abuse. And its result…well its result is utter separation, which is hell. Good, on the other hand, is the coming together of You and Me. It is the abandonment of the sense of self and the sense of other. It is the connection of all living things. It is love and charity, grace and peace. It is salvation.
And what of salvation? Well my salvation is Jane Eyre, and all of Dickens’ orphan tales. It’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Jane Austen. My salvation is The Smashing Pumpkins, Sarah McLachlan, and Mumford & Sons. It’s absolutely yoga, running, and meditating. It’s Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. It’s the Mandelbrot set and MC Escher’s Relativity. It’s the Buddha and Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Today and specifically in my life, my salvation is Son’Cia Humphries, Meghan Sizemore, John Henderson, Mr. Owens, Ms. Rhoton & Mr. Wilson, Dr. Ruth Lavender, Dr. Jill LeRoy Frazier, Marvin Glover, Brittany Love, Evelyn Tachau Brown, Judson Nichols, John Gill, Leslie Etheridge, Victoria Medaglia, Ceil Sheahan, Sam Rosolina, Marcia Free & Fred Martinson, and Jim & Sandy Foster. It’s my beloved Daniel and his truly long-suffering love. It’s all the things and people that help me know I’m not alone…that I’m connected. My salvation keeps an eye on me in the moments I’m not able to look out for myself. It challenges me and makes me stronger. It holds me accountable to my vow to love myself.
This post covers my transpersonal journey to this point, which is almost 30 years old. It may seem too short a time to have lived through so much. But I’ve died a few times in the process, and I see it more as if I’ve just lived a few different times even if it’s only in this one lifetime. I’ve certainly had a plentiful serving of tragedy, but I’m living in the midst of the happiest time of my life, which is more than making up for all the doom and gloom.
I’m plucking along in the 5th week of my half marathon training plan and almost half-way to my goal for a Mother’s Day race. Though my training keeps getting progressively more challenging (UGH), I’m still sticking with it, and my performance and dedication are keeping me quite encouraged. I don’t necessarily notice much change in my performance on shorter runs; but I certainly notice that I’m getting much more fit when I’m running as frequently as I am, and I definitely notice better performance on longer runs. Because of my training, so far I’ve knocked 15 minutes off my long run times in comparison with what I was doing training on my own, and I’ve maintained a steady weekly mileage increase without any injuries. As if that weren’t enough encouragement, I got a little note from Knoxville Endurance today, and it included help with an upcoming race registration!
Competing in races is actually part of the training plan, partially because it’s good to participate in events to keep you focused, but also because practicing a race routine is an important part of training. When I first met Bobby of KE, I really wanted to do the Covenant Health Half Marathon on April 7th as my goal event, but we both knew I was very quickly approaching the training deadline for that event. So, he asked me to think about other events that would give me 12-14 weeks to train. That’s when I found the Mountain Mommas ½ Marathon on Mother’s Day, and I chose that as my goal event. This whole time, though, I’ve still been toying with the idea of doing the Covenant Health Half Marathon even if it’s only as a training run; but that’s quite an expense just for training, which explains my waffling. Now, because the fine folks at Knoxville Endurance are so kind and encouraging, I’m registered for the Covenant Health Half Marathon!
I’m very grateful to KE for working with me…even though I’m not a professional runner or endurance athlete like the rest of them are. I’m really a very ordinary person (mediocre most of the time and even sub-par sometimes!), but I’m pushing myself to do something I think is extraordinary. Knoxville Endurance is helping me do exactly that with training tailored specifically to where I am; and now they’re helping me participate in events just so I can be better prepared to meet my goals.
If you live around Knoxville and want to come out and support me (and the rest of the runners), I’d absolutely love it if you were there cheering me on! In the meantime, I’m also running next Saturday at the Chasing Snakes 10K in Johnson City. This will be my first 10K as well as my longest race to date. This event benefits the Johnson City Interfaith Hospitality Network, which is a network of churches and other groups that provide support and temporary housing for homeless families. I look forward to seeing some of my Johnson City friends next Saturday, and I hope I run into some of you out there while I’m racing!