Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012: Always Do What You Are Afraid To Do

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" - George Bernard Shaw
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Several years ago, my husband and I traveled along the French autoroute that traverses Southern France along the Mediterranean. The A8 autoroute, La Provençale, offers panoramas of the sea between Nice and Menton, before crossing the border into Italy. Our trip that day began in Florence and ended in Nice. Here the road (an engineering wonder of sorts) cuts through rolling hills and white limestone cliffs that plunge into the green-blue sea. The length of the highway alternates between vertigo inducing vistas high above the sea to claustrophobicly tight tunnels weaving through the hills. Add to this, crazy Southern France driving tendencies (What? Lane lines? We don't need no stinkin' lane lines.), and you have a frenetic experience -  all at once you are cruising along, out in the sun soaked lush green hills dotted with greenhouses perched on precipitous slopes, then into a dark, winding tunnel...back out into the brightness...and..back into the darkness...The eyes cannot possibly keep up never mind the poor brain receiving whiplashing nerve impulses. By the end of the drive I was dazed and confused, sick to my stomach and shaky. Boy, did I need some wine. What an amazingly beautiful, insanely crazy trip that was. Please don't ever make me drive that stretch of road again. We did two years later - opposite direction. That one went better. For one thing I stopped worrying about lane lines and life suddenly made sense. Vroooom...Go Speed Racer, Go!

This is a metaphor for my year, 2011 - The brilliant light of anticipation, achievement, hope...the darkness of exhaustion, depression, pessimism, fear, stuckness...light...dark...light...dark...
good...bad. The juxtaposition makes me feel bipolar at times. The extremes bring out the extreme: Really good, or really bad. So the really good feels really really good, and the really bad feels like the depths of the deepest darkness. Nothing just IS anymore. Now, am I just supposed to learn how to roll with it all, and things will feel more sane, or will things actually get better. 

I generally don't set New Year's Resolutions - they feel artificial and superficial to me. New Year's Resolutions seem like something "one does" simply because that's what is expected on January 1st. But I've never been good at setting specific goals: I'll say - Oh, I want to find/create my purpose in life, or, I want to run faster, or climb harder, or be a better teacher, wife, mother, person. But, yikes, what does all that mean and how do you know you've done it when you've done it.  

So I like to set goals - not pie-in-the sky goals (doomed to fail, so why bother?), and not goals that are painfully reasonable (boring, so why care?) - but somewhere in the middle. A little outrageous, a little overreaching, a tad absurd...and frightening, a little...but maybe, doable.

This is the last day of 2011. It's been an up-and-down year for me. On the running front, it's been reasonably successful: I qualified and got into the Boston Marathon 2012, and qualified for guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon, 2012. To celebrate 40 years of running, I'm hoping to make it to the starting line and the finish line of both these races. I'm pretty nervous about it - it feels very (too?) important to me right now. Ooooo, pressure.
When I look back at one of my first Blog posts, dated Jan 14th, 2011, I set myself the goal of qualifying for these races - and I did what I set out to do. Now, to actually run them. I suppose that's my running goal for 2012, along with running 3000 miles (a nice round number), and maybe setting a marathon PR (not masters). Now for the rest of life... 

My Mother now continues her nine month long, and counting, battle with  Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She survived very aggressive chemo - though it almost killed her three times, and damaged her heart - and her surgery three weeks ago appears to have been as successful as we possibly could have hoped. This battle is a true test of endurance for her, for me and for my sister. And now we must take a deep breath and keep pushing on. This is one endurance challenge that I am oh so very weary of. But it will go on, and I must find the will to deal with it, for there is no other way.

And then there's me. I have so much that I treasure and fiercely guard: My family, my home, my way of life. And yet here I am, it's almost 2012, and I'm still wondering, as I have every year of my conscious life: What will I be, who will I be, when I grow up?  

"None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am beginning to listen to the whisper and respect it's wisdom. I hear it clearest when I'm running and feeling strong, when I'm climbing and not feeling scared, when I'm reading to my daughter in the quiet darkness of her room, when I'm driving alone belting out some Coldplay song. What I need is courage and the will to create myself. So I will try to do what I am afraid to do. That's still too vague and ambiguous, but it's the best I can do for now. 

How about you? Where do you wish to take yourself? What will you write on the next page of the book that is your life?

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Goal List Thus far, 2012: Run the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon, run 3000 miles (I'm a bit over 2500 this year), do some things that I'm (irrationally) afraid to do. 
To be continued...


  1. If I lived closer I'd bring over beer, wine, coffee, maybe all three, just to sit and talk about this.

  2. 3000 miles? Wow, that's a huge number. Best of luck to you in 2012, and stay healthy! :)

  3. @Ken - Some day :)
    @TeeJay - That's one of the 'higher reaching' goals ;) It's it's about 440ish more miles than I ran in 2011.

  4. You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your website.
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