Sunday, March 23, 2014

SOL - Inspired to Run

 I love reading all the Slice of Life stories, so I decided to start a more personal blog to write and share some of my own. I love reading honest writing and this is my attempt at it.

Scioto Miles 10K finish line

This is an amazing mom and friend who has inspired me in many ways besides just running. 
My dear friend who is also an inspiring mom, and fabulous teacher.  We went on many FREEZING runs this winter!

     I have always been inspired to read, but now I am inspired to run as well.

     No one in the past would have ever described me as an athlete. I was that really awkward girl, who always got chosen last for kickball and was inevitably picked first to break through on a Red Rover line. My dad signed me up for soccer, and watched as I picked flowers during the game. Sports just have never been my thing. I'd rather be reading.

     But you see, I have started running.  By the way,  I have never felt stronger. No, I'm not just talking about physical strength. My only little word, #OLW for the year is strength. Strength of mind, body, and spirit has been my goal for 2014.

     This morning I ran a 10K with some of my oldest and dearest friends. In two weeks we will run a 15K together. Since December I have logged 173 miles. 9 miles has been my longest distance. AND,  I may just sign up for that half marathon in May.

     I have discovered and learned that I love the Olentangy Trail. I love the feeling I have when a run is over. I love setting a new mileage goal and meeting it. I look forward to conversations with my friends and fellow teachers while running. I also love the quiet of running by myself. I love to buy new running clothes on sale and read blogs about those who choose to run. These stories of woman, mothers, and teachers pounding the pavement intrigue and inspire me. Though I've only been doing it for a few months, I've decided to start calling myself a runner.

     Now for the back story.

     I absolutely needed to start running. I needed something. I was craving some quiet space to think, to reflect, to regroup and see what was so great about this life I have been blessed with. Running has given me this space. Sometimes my vision of my own life gets blurry, clouded. I have this ability to get consumed by the cluttered details and scattered trying to determine how to fit in all these parts perfectly to make up a finished whole.

 I was craving balance.
 The past few years as a teacher have been hard. I'm not talking about the kids (who can also be hard at times), or our days we spend together. Being with the kids every day, that's the really great part of my job. I'm my best version of myself when I'm with those kids; teaching, guiding, listening, and encouraging. Within my classroom, while teaching - I feel really alive.

     What's become hard is just all the other "stuff" in education. Or rather I've let it become more stressful. If you're a teacher, you might know what I mean. The "stuff", the noise, and the voices I began to hear were getting to me. The voices in my head had been getting increasingly louder the past few years. "You aren't doing enough," they were whispering to me. "You are average." "This isn't enough." I began losing the ability to ignore these voices.  I love my job, I am passionate and inspired to teach. I think it's what I am here in this world to do. But it's hard sometimes. It's really, really hard. The expectations I set up for myself as a teacher are ones that are often unreasonable and unreachable.

      Along with being a teacher, being a mom is crazy at times. Bring on the self doubt and multiply it by 10.
     The past few years as a mom have been incredibly joyful, while also incredibly challenging. Our family grew from two to four pretty quickly. Change. Big change. That obnoxious voice also started whispering to me about my skills as a mom, as a wife. My self doubt teaching voice, combined with my self doubt mom voice were leaving me feeling like I was drowning. I was struggling to stay afloat.

     Time. Must. Get. More. Time.

     This all may sound pretty whiny. I get it, but it's how I felt. I also realize in the scheme of big problems, mine weren't so big. I recognize often that I am lucky to have a great job and a wonderful supportive family. But I wasn't handling my stress well and it was affecting me big time. I wasn't balancing school work with family life well.

     In late December feeling mentally exhausted and overwhelmed, I read a book about running, specifically about mother runners. I decided that I would start running. I decided I HAD to start running.  I was going to do something just for me. I had seen my friends on Facebook in the fall complete half marathons. I remember sitting behind my computer wondering if this was something I could ever do. Their faces looked so alive, so energized, so happy!

     Well, I started running. Let me tell you, this was a COLD winter to start running outdoors. But, I haven't stopped. I run alone, after school with a group of teachers, and with another dear friend. I have committed to running at least 3 days a week.

    I started to feel stronger. I felt stress starting to melt. Those voices in my head started to change their message.

     "You can do this. You are strong. You've got this."They weren't just talking about running.
     "You are doing enough." Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. RUN

     So, I feel strong, really strong... I also feel much happier than I've been in awhile. Being a teacher and a mom still bring about stress, but I'm starting to deal with it in a different way.

     I love running, and the release it gives me to face my life with all I have to give. I have always given my best to my kids when I am with them at school. I vow to be present, to be with them. This will have to be enough some days. When I am with them I will teach, I will listen to learn, and I will put my best  energy into helping them be the very best they can be. I have to tell myself that lessons won't always be perfect. Test scores may not always be what I want them to be. Assessments and targets may not always be polished. But I will be a positive force in my classroom. I will inspire kids to love learning. I will share my passion for literacy and learning every day, and together we will learn.

     Running allows me to be a better mom. When I hit the road, I am able to take time for myself. When I come home, I am calmer. My head is clearer. I have promised myself to slow down a little bit at home. Someday I won't ever remember the time spent on the computer searching for lessons, or grading assessments. I will however, treasure the times I put all that aside to BE with my own children and husband; laughing, listening, and sharing stories together.

     Life's not perfect. But I'm grateful for the balance running is starting to help me create.

     So no matter where your stress lies, tell that annoying self doubt voice of yours to shut up. Find a way to carve a minute out for yourself to breathe. Most importantly moms and teachers - take it easy on yourself. You are enough. You are strong. These are my goals:)