Monday, January 5, 2015

Out with the difficult, in with the better

Hello 2015. How nice of you to join us.

Goodbye 2014. Can't say I'll miss you much.

This past year has been difficult. Very, very difficult. I've waded through day by day, week by week, month by month, hoping for a light. I was happy to see a new year, not because I think a new year will magically take away the difficulties of the past year, but just because I do see it as a time of new possibilities and new attitudes.

I've written about my struggles a few times in previous blog posts:

Priorites - July 2014

This is my heart - August 2014

Random Updates from the Loony Bin - October 2014

Finally - November 2014

Many changes in our lives, many unexpected things that we weren't emotionally prepared for, many times we've had to accept that things just aren't what we anticipated they would be. But now it's a new year and we are determined to find contentment and peace in our life.

What are the biggest things that I can take out of 2014?

1. It might not be the life you planned, but you can love the life you're living.

I didn't sign up for two high needs children. I didn't sign up for ADHD, anxiety, therapy, and medication. I signed up to be the awesome mom I thought I'd be, to two smart and funny and amazing kids.

But you know what? That's still who I am. I'm an awesome mom to two smart and funny and amazing kids....who happen to struggle with disorders and need therapy and medication. I love my kids more than I can put into words. I don't always like them or the struggle we're in, but they're my kids and I just need to do my best.

2. Just say NO.

I'm emotionally and physically exhausted a lot of the time. I need a crap load of down time to recharge. I'm introverted to an extreme sometimes. I'm happiest in a peaceful quiet place. That often translates to me having to say "no" to a lot of invitations and experiences. I have anxiety and busy social scenes and packed calendars stress me out, so I will often choose a quiet time at home or with a close friend or two over things that are more chaotic. Even being in a loud, packed church for over an hour can lead to anxiety. It's a pretty sucky thing to deal with, but I'm learning to accept that it's who I am right now and to roll with it and do my best to lessen the environments that will exacerbate it.

3. Express appreciation and gratitude

In order to keep things in perspective, I need to find positives every day. It might be something as simple as liking how my hair looks (by the way, for the first time in FOREVER, I have a new haircut!) or enjoying a good glass of wine, or bigger things like appreciating the fact that although I might have mental struggles, I'm physically healthy. Or that I'm in a position of not needing to work outside my home. It can be the worst day ever, but there's always a positive. Did the sunset look especially beautiful? Did it rain?

4. Understanding that being a runner does not mean I am running away from my problems.

Don't've thought that about either me or someone else who loves endurance sports (guilty here). Are you sure that's really the case? I've actually wondered that about myself sometimes. Am I putting myself through two and three hour runs and countless marathons because I'm trying to escape? Well, maybe a little. But thinking like that is doing a disservice to the true, positive impact of having a hobby like this.

There are so many things in my life I have no control over. Things that are so difficult for me to handle day after day. But running and endurance sports are completely in my control. It's MINE and mine only. When I'm out there along the trail doing something good for my mind and body, nobody can mess that up. With every footfall I'm releasing stress and anxiety and replacing that negativity with a sense of calm and peace. Every time I train for a particular race, I have a purpose and a goal I'm striving for. I feel accomplished whether things go well or not so well.

My husband is an athlete but he's also a musician. When he's playing and performing he's able to let go of stress much like I can while I train. It's his outlet and he's in complete control of that. I know that without either of these hobbies, we'd be far less able to handle the daily stress of life. It's so important to have one thing in your life that you are in control of, that makes you genuinely happy.

What are the things I'd like to see happen in 2015?

1. For my heart to be content and my mind to be calm. Anything else will fall into place.

This is actually what I wrote on Facebook just after midnight on New Year's Day. I truly believe that if I continue to try to find contentment and calm that all the bigger problems won't seem quite so big, that over time I'll see a positive change in my life, even if my actual circumstances don't change.

2. My son to be in a better school environment.

I'm looking to change schools for my son and am sure I have found the right one. Unfortunately it's full for his grade level, so actually enrolling him into that school is proving to be a big tricky. I have a Plan B and might be pursuing that avenue instead. But the bottom line is that by the time 8th grade has begun he hopefully will be in a new school environment. I think it will do wonders for his attitude and focus, not to mention his happiness.

3. Change my endurance adventures.

Over the years I've done many of the same races, and while this year will still see a repeat of some events...Houston Marathon, Austin Half Marathon, Texas Independence Relay, and San Luis Obispo Marathon...I do plan to venture into different things. More triathlons, different half marathons, and definitely something outside my comfort zone. I have a new bike that I'm eager to compete with, and I might even try my hand at getting down to "race weight" (eek!). By the end of the year I want to be registered for an Ironman 70.3.

4. Read 25 books.

I love to read. Engrossing myself in a new novel is a favorite pasttime and I'd love to maintain a consistency in my reading. I have several books in my Kindle already and with the kids heading back to school tomorrow I anticipate some free time.

What did 2014 teach you and where will 2015 take you?

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