Happy 2017 everyone! I’m back after a couple of weeks away from blogging to spend time with my family in Nebraska and enjoy a few days of much-needed hibernation and relaxation. I hope you all had a warm and merry holiday season, and thanks for sticking with me all this time.
When it comes to the holidays, I’m the kind of person who likes to look ahead as much as I look behind me. At the holiday seasons, I always think about where I was in life at Christmas last year, 2 years ago, 5, or 10 years ago. I like to wonder where I will be, who I will be, who I will be with next year, 2 years later, 5, or 10 years down the line.
At the end of 2015, I felt like the roller coaster of life events I’d been on since 2013 was finally over and things had sort of come full circle. It wasn’t perfect, but I loved the imperfection of it because I felt secure in it. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I had faith that things would be okay and work out because I had already gone through some dark, empty days that felt hard for no reason at all. I was ready for a hard but meaningful and fulfilling journey that I wouldn’t trade for the world because I made the choice to stick with it no matter what, and I loved that choice.
A year later, Christmas 2016, none of the things I ended 2015 with and felt safe about exist anymore and I find myself staring down a dark, gray road surrounded by void.
The things I prayed for, worked hard for… I don’t have them anymore. Two strategies for getting what I want out of life– praying and hard work– failed me in 2016. I’m not saying prayer and hard work are failing strategies. But I am saying that they failed me last year.
So, what do I do now?
I don’t know. I can only live one day at a time. I don’t know how to pray for or work for things when at one point not that long ago I had everything I wanted. People don’t realize that it’s possible to mourn something you never had; it’s possible to grieve dreams that didn’t come true but still feel real to you. But life is just as much about how you make your choices as they are about how other people make their choices. And that’s the best answer I can give to the whole “life isn’t fair” thing.
2016 has been, as my 57-year-old father put it, “one of those most tumultuous years I’ve ever experienced.” No one else has seemed to have a good year either, but it doesn’t feel comforting to me knowing that it wasn’t just me who struggled. It seems we all need hope right now. And a fresh start. I know I do.
Yes, I have New Year’s resolutions, but honestly, more than anything, I just want to finally be the person I am supposed to be. I want to see how things work out, I want to read to the end of the book and go back to this chapter of life already armed with the appreciation for how it’s all going to be fine. But I can’t do that, so I have to be right here, right now. So, as sad as it sounds to say I can only live one day at a time, somewhere deep down, I feel like there is promise. Because anything can happen now. And maybe what is to come will be better than what I lost in 2016.
So, here is what I will be focusing on every day for the next 365 days:
1) Eating to run and not running to eat. I’ve definitely always been one of those runners who runs a ton of miles so I can eat a pint of mint ice cream or a whole pizza from DC Pizza. But the truth is, I can no longer deny how gross I feel and that I am slipping back into the mindset I had in 2004 when I first realized that the way I look now is the way I was “meant” to look. I’m not thrilled with what I see in the mirror, and I know I can do better for myself. So, I am going to give things a try for real this time and see where it gets me. I don’t have a weight loss goal in mind, or a size. I just know where I want to go and I’m heading in that direction one day at a time.
2) Visit Cuba. You read it here first. This year, I likely won’t be running a whole lot of races (unless I am pacing them) because I want to use my funds to travel abroad instead. And the first place on my list: Havana, Cuba. Because I never thought I would ever get to go, and people who have gone already come back and tell me that it’s like traveling back in time. So, instead of running the New York City Half-Marathon (as I have done for the past 2 years now) or a big race-vacation, I am using that money to travel to Cuba. I don’t know when, but it will be this year.
3) Finally learn how to budget. This seems like a resolution that is way beyond its time, but I’m starting to realize how much money I spend on meaningless crap and how impulsive I can be. I like to shop when I am bored, and little purchases add up to big dollars that could be used toward helping me plan my trip to Cuba or paying off pesky credit card bills. So, I am tracking all of my purchases in a yearly planner so I can find out where my money goes and how to create a budget, anticipate big purchases like a new pair of running shoes, and schedule the things I need so I can work down some bills and save for the big stuff.
4) Read one book per quarter. I’d really like to get back into reading for fun. It’s been 10 years since I graduated with my English degree and 6 years since I graduated with my Master’s, so that’s a long enough break to get over the burnout of scholastic reading. This also includes a little professional development and re-reading some of my old textbooks to refresh my mind.
5) Run 2,017 miles in 2017. Every year, I miss out on these kind of mileage goals, so I have no idea how many miles I have run in my lifetime. Also, I feel like I take far too many rest days, which I will need to do as I get older so I can recover quicker, but I’m not at that point yet. 2,017 miles in 365 days adds up to 168 miles per month, 38 miles per week, and 5.52 miles per day. No, I’m not going to run 5.52 miles per day and there will be some weeks when I just can’t get to 38. But I feel like this is an achievable goal, and I am ready to get there.
6) Place in my age division at a local 5K or 10K. I turn 35 in March (holy crap). Last year, at the Boo! Run For Life 10K, I realized that if I was already 35, I would have placed fourth in my age division, and the margin between myself and the first place runner was not a lot. Sure, I’d have to likely find a race with a smaller field, but I have never won an athletic achievement and I really do think, with a lot of hard work and maybe some coaching, I can make it happen. There are definitely perks to aging when you’re a runner!
7) Be more environmentally conscious. When it comes to the ocean, I’m a huge environmentalist. The ocean has been my happy place, my refuge, and the site of 4 races I ran in 2016. Long ago, when I was still picking a college major, I almost went with Oceanography and I admittedly have several textbooks in my Amazon cart on ocean tides because I am fascinated by them. I often wonder if I am in the wrong policy arena, professionally-speaking, and now the environment will be facing an incredibly difficult uphill climb over the next 4 years. So, I decided to start walking the walk. Instead of buying my usual brand of laundry detergent, I selected one that was more environmentally-friendly. Also, as soon as I am finished with my box of makeup-removing cloths, I am buying facial washcloths and using coconut oil as a makeup remover instead. And I am currently looking for volunteer opportunities with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other organizations to help keep the rivers and seashores clean of plastic and trash. And maybe looking for ways to get into environmental policy at work.
My final three resolutions are things I will keep to myself, but they are definitely the kind of goals that require daily hard work and staying focused on the day you are given. Maybe keeping my head down and working on the things I can control within a 24-hour window is the best way to get where I want to go in 2, 5, or 10 years. I’m hopeful that someday, maybe sooner than I think, the tides will change in my favor.
What are you looking forward to most in 2017?