Things I am really good at: (1) surfing Facebook for just five minutes (magically turns into 15), (2) nibbling bits off of a cookie every time I pass by the dessert plate until it is gone (did I really even taste it?), (3) going for a run without a goal (4 miles? 6? Pace? Meh.), and (4) getting lost in a book in one room while my family pursues separate endeavors throughout the house until one of us realizes that no one has spoken to each other in over an hour and, oh by the way, what's for dinner? There is a lot to love about a homemade cookie, a relaxed no-pressure run, a good book, and even social media connections. But what I have come to resent is how quickly things (and time) slip by me before I have the presence of mind to enjoy or pursue them fully. Hence, resolved: In 2017 I will run, parent, and live with intention.
I'm in a weird middle place with my running. I finally reached a point I never thought I would: I run with the confidence that comes with knowing that I can train up to any distance - 5k to marathon - and finish. Four years ago, I could not say that. Four years ago, I could not run a 5k without stopping to walk. So what's next? What can I do to take something that is pretty damn good and pump it up to great? The obvious answer is to train to run faster. Yes! But I also know there is something more. I discovered later in life that I love to run, but so far it only involves familiar suburban routes under mostly fair skies, or a big (Major) city race in the shadows of skyscrapers. What if I tweak my runs just a little, might I love it even more? Could the variety keep the passion for the sport alive? What if, every once in awhile, I trade pavement for a trail? The grit of city streets for dirt? Office buildings for pine trees? In May, I will be attending the Wilder Retreat - four days of running and writing with thirty other runner-writers. Heaven. But here's the rub - it includes up to 8 miles of (mostly) trail running per day, and while the distance does not intimidate me, trail running scares and excites me in equal measure. My full expectation is that the four day retreat will stretch me and take me far outside of my day-to-day running and writing comfort zones, and I hunger for the experience. In keeping with my resolve to intentionally challenge myself this year, I applied for the privilege to attend and consciously chose this as my first 2017 running goal.
Similar to running, I am in an in-between parenting spot. It is easy to conjure images of "parenting" when your kid is two and practicing new and creative ways to turn your house upside down. The definition of parenting changes substantially when one child is at college negotiating apartment leases and planning for graduate school and the other is a sophomore in high school navigating college prep classes and tentative first steps into the dating world. The kids no longer need to be watched and monitored 24-7, but if I have learned anything it is this: As they grow older, they need you, and you need them, even more. They need a grounded, familiar place (home) they can return to, where they are safe, and can be who they are. They need a judgment-free sounding board when they just need to vent. As a family, we need to create time just to talk - not text - about anything and everything no matter how serious, mundane, thought-provoking, or flat out ridiculous. As I write this, the four of us are snowed in, in the great room of a mountain house built by my parents, my husband reading, me writing, our daughter watching her precious last episode of the Gilmore Girls re-do, and our son toasting marshmallows over a fire. We are doing four different things, together, and not two minutes goes by before one of us sucks the others into conversation. It is, in the most real and tangible way, a reminder to just Be There. Be willing to intentionally set aside time and whatever you are doing to be present in the moment and open to discussions as they happen. This year, if am going to be intentional about how I spend my time, conversations and being together with my family must be at the top of my list.
Building a resolution around "living well" is a tougher one for me. How do you intentionally strive to "live well" each day when life, by definition, is fraught with uncertainty that randomly casts aside even the best laid plans? Notwithstanding this, every day, God-and-health-and-good-fortune-willing, I have an opportunity to make room in my life for experiences that make me happy or bring me joy and fulfillment. Writing. A walk (or run) with my husband. An excellent cup of coffee paired with a good book. A cuddle with the dog. Experimenting with a new recipe. Travel to a new city. Dinners with friends. Solving a problem. Singing, full throttle, along with a favorite song. Brief encounters with nature - watching the snow fall or the sun set. Everyone's recipe for living well is different, but it is incumbent upon each of us to find it, and set aside time to do it.
I have a finite and uncertain number of days on this Earth. I can squander the time, or I can purposely go after the experiences that mean the most to me. For 2017, I choose to focus on the latter.
Simply, to run, and parent, and live ... with intention.