Crazy Run (11-18-2013)

This weekend I took a hike through the Eno River State Park by myself. I was excited to wander through the same trails I’d visited countless times with my family years ago. Though nervous about my trail following skills (especially hiking solo), I convinced myself that the little painted trail dots along the way would be more than sufficient. I was expecting a nice hike through the woods, with a few inclines and maybe some crowds, boy was I wrong on ALL accounts. It was an awesome hike, a BIG incline, and next to no people. Perfect

On my 4 mile hike, I passed 10 people total. TEN. It was marvelous. I felt completely removed from civilization. I also had a bad case of dog envy as about 5 of those 10 people had pups in tow *sigh*. I forged ahead, loving every second of the complete and utter silence. I was quietly shuffling my feet through the fresh fallen leaves when I started to notice a slight incline. I looked up only to see this HUGE hill before me. It was so steep in fact that some 4x4s were placed in the ground along the way up in order to give hikers some footholds.Granted, this hill was merely a bump compared to real mountains, but it still surprised me with its unassuming mass.

I groaned a little to myself, then weighed whether or not I REALLY wanted to see the “old mill” at the end of the trail. Deciding that I needed a goal, and that turning around halfway through a LOOP made no sense, I forged ahead. I will admit, by the time I reached the top I was huffing and puffing a little bit. It was a good 20 minutes before I stood at the peak (the hill had an initial steep incline, which then leveled off some for a more gradual climb to the top). I took a moment to enjoy the view, and then took many more moments wandering the top of the hill.I didn’t come across anyone throughout the climb. There are therefore no witnesses to contest my story of sprinting to the top with nary a pause–oh wait, I already admitted to huffing. Ignore that bit.

I felt quite accomplished at the top of the hill, but when I got to the other side, I remembered there was a long way down. Now when kids see hills, they seem to have this natural instinct to sprint full speed all the way down. I know you’ve seen this: their arms flailing, their legs spinning so fast you think surely they will fall, and smiles as big as the hill they are running down. I call this the”crazy run.” There’s no thinking, calculating, worry or fear in their run. They release all inhibition and just crazy run. Adults are much more controlled in their approach. We have this healthy dose of the injury-potential reality that is a downhill run.

Being an “adult,” I started my calculated descent doing a side shuffle walk thing. I precariously dodged the rocks and stumps and snailed my way down the first part. Suddenly it hit me how much more time-efficient it would be if I picked up my pace. I had this flashback to ten years ago where my sister and I would race down the hills, calling back to our Dad to hurry it up. At that moment I threw adultness out the door and crazy ran the rest of the way down. I flailed my arms, launched myself over stumps and roots, and smiled the biggest smile ever as I stumbled my way to the bottom of that hill.

When I reached flat ground once again, I slowed my momentum back down and glanced over my shoulder. All of a sudden the hill that seemed SO hard and HUGE when I was climbing up it, seemed so peaceful and fun after running down it. Sometimes the big hills in life can obscure the tranquility and reward that awaits on the other side. It’s so easy to get frustrated and fed up with huffing and puffing your way to the top of the mountain, when you really have no assurance that there even IS something worthwhile on the other side. I guess that’s where faith comes in. Faith that your work is never in vain and that every hill climbed is one less ahead of you. And if all else fails, you can always go for a crazy run. I promise you’ll smile.

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Are you listening?

The polite end of story pause has all but disappeared in our world. One person barely has enough time for a breath after a sentence, before the next person picks up where they left off. And if there is a break in any conversation, it’s usually followed quickly by someone side whispering “awkward” in order to re-establish the “order” that is constant communication. But what ever happened to just listening? We live in a world of “one-ups-manship,” where one never wants to be the first to tell a story in a group, because in all likelihood SOMEONE else has a better one.

Sometimes as I’m listening to a story I suddenly find myself tuning out as I silently develop my response. Indeed, before my friend even finishes speaking, I already have my scripted response at the ready. Suddenly I realize I am guilty of the very thing I despise myself—not listening.

People need to listen more. Listening could solve so many world problems (not to mention locker room brawls). There’s this quote out there that I love:

“Oh, I’m sorry…Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?”

How sad but true is that statement? I can’t tell you how many times I am in the middle of my sentence, only to be abruptly cut off by someone else inserting their opinion. Why do they do it? I have several theories.

Sometimes the interruption comes from a place of support and allegiance. You’ll state your opinion and before you finish someone jumps in to say “I agree entirely.” While their affirmation is appreciated, it would be JUST as appreciated, if not more so, if it came at the completion of the original statement. Their support is coming from a good place, but somehow the original speaker still feels slighted.

Sometimes the sentence-cutter has a conflicting opinion and simply wants to make sure their thoughts are heard equally. All this type of interruption does, however, is create conflict. The first speaker feels undercut (rightfully so), and will likely retaliate but dishing an interruption right back. So begins the exchange of short quips back and forth until the original discussion topic is complete forgotten and a brawl breaks lose. Ok, maybe a brawl is not ALWAYS involved, but the original intent behind the conversation is lost entirely.

The truth of the matter is that until someone finishes their thought, you really DON’T know exactly what they are going to say. They could make an entire statement only to finish with “or at least that’s what so and so thinks, but I completely disagree.” All of a sudden your rebuttal looks REALLY ill planned huh?

As I said before, I am a guilty party as well. Usually I intend for my interruptions to be taken as a sign of support, but in reality, a head nod could probably more politely deliver that same message. I want someone to absorb what I’m saying and sharing. I want them to understand my thoughts and reasoning. I want them to listen. If I expect that from my friends and family, it’s about time I really focus on my listening as well.

Grown down days

I have never been a checklist kind of person. Whatever I need to do next is always just in my head bouncing around with whatever else has my attention at the moment. While this is a great way to “go green” by not wasting dozens of sticky notes, it is also a great way to “go crazy,” as I’m constantly in this state of verbally reminding myself of my task list. At any given moment, my 10 track mind is bouncing around memories, current events and future tasks all at the same time. This organize chaos in my head has lead to some pretty interesting quirks in my life.

I have become known for location memory. I just made up this term, but it really should be medically diagnosable. Let me explain–I remember things based on where I am located at the moment. If I leave my room in search of my glasses, by the time I get to the kitchen, I’ve forgotten why I left my bedroom. I then have to return to the bedroom in order to remember my journey’s purpose. Typically the cycle does not repeat more than once, but it’s been known to happen. I’ve heard future moms dub this type of memory loss “pregnancy brain,” but seeing as that is not my current condition, I’ve decided to additionally dub it location memory (and also accept that I will need lanyards for all important belongings whenever I am pregnant- if it’s attached to me, I won’t lose it).

The point of all this is that sometimes my brain gets completely overloaded. Imagine if you will your planner. You mark down dates of events. Then you need a grocery list so you throw that on there. And don’t forget so and so’s birthday is this week. And your friend calls to switch the time of dinner tomorrow. And before you know it your planner is a hot mess with three different colors scratching out and replacing various events. Now picture not having that planner. That’s my brain on  a daily basis. Goals are great and nice and fun, and everyone should have them, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all the big stuff. Sometimes instead of going going and doing doing, it’s better to stop and not do.

This past week has been a wonderful week of don’ts. Don’t worry. Don’t stress. Don’t run errands. I made it a week of don’ts, and believe me, I DIDN’T. Sure, this means I took a step back from being a productive member of society (I still did go to work though, obviously), but it also meant that my stress level went from off the chart to manageable.

I had dinners out, drank wine, saw friends, and watched movies. There was no studying, and no bring home the work nights. I realize this can’t be a regular life “thing” that I do. I can’t constantly detach myself from grown-up life. As fun as it would be to have an “grown-down weeks” where I forgo all responsibility once  a month, it’s not too realistic. It did, however, help me realize that it feels really good to let go of goals for brief periods of time and just be. It felt nice to let my legs relax, let my mind stop racing, and let my belly be filled with whatever caught my eye (and let me tell you, my eye for food is ALWAYS wandering in search of the next delicious morsel to consume).

This week I will go back to the intense workouts and homemade dinners, and before I know it my mind will be racing again, but trust me, I will now happily add grown-down DAYS into my schedule. Maybe I’ll even drink some yoo-hoo with a bendy straw.