Before I start, I want to give a quick update on Katherine. Thank you so much for all the prayers, she is doing really well. She was awake about a day after I posted and was communicating through writing while she was still intubated. Last I heard, the breathing tube was removed and she was resting up in preparation for surgery scheduled for today to repair her facial fractures. She still has an intensive recovery ahead of her, but the worst is behind us. She proved that she is the Superwoman we all believed her to be!
Something cool that happened from my last post was that my friend Leslie reached out because she had just met Katherine a couple weeks ago. Katherine had posted looking for a photographer in Chicago and I gave her Leslie’s name. Leslie had the pleasure of meeting Katherine’s entire family on the River front for photos. Leslie thanked me for bringing my world’s together. I always say I love small world stories, but my world is small because I make it that way. I love bringing people together. It’s who I am.
Now I’ll tell you a story…
Today I went out for a nice, little 16 mile run. Ok, so most people wouldn’t put little in the same sentence as running 16 miles. Fair enough. I did the same thing I’ve done the past couple Thursdays, which has become my one “free day” during the week. I don’t have to go to school on Thursdays and if I work it isn’t until later in the day. So I’ve been dropping the kids at school and taking advantage of my solitude out in the woods.
This morning a couple ladies asked me if I was a “real ultra runner”.
“Are you an ultra runner? Because you look like an ultra runner.”
“I’ve done AN ultra”, I informed them. “And I’m getting ready to run Berryman next weekend.”
“Oh, doesn’t that have one that’s like 50 miles?”
“Yes, but I’m just doing the marathon.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I heard how ridiculous it sounded. “Just a marathon”.
At what point did we become a society that belittles our accomplishments? I realize that the running community is known for this, but it happens a great deal in our everyday lives too.
I’m “just” a stay at home mom. I’m “just” an associate. I’m “just” a (fill in the blank).
I was thinking about this while I ran today. And let’s face it, even though I “just” ran 16 miles, I was out there for the better part of the morning. So I thought about several of the events of the past week. Such as…
Last Thursday morning when I arrived at the Al Foster trail head, I pulled into the parking lot “just” ahead of my friend Heather. (See what I did there? Ok, sorry, I’ll stop. For now.) Heather was meeting a girlfriend to go for a run. They invited me to join them, but I didn’t want my pace to slow them down. And I was in need of zoning out, so I sent them on ahead. But we chatted in the parking lot for a bit. Heather gave me some of the details about Katherine’s accident that I hadn’t gotten. We were all still pretty shaken by the whole thing.
Before Heather and her friend left, Heather said something that stuck with me this week. She said there was a song that she always associates with me when she hears it on the radio. I couldn’t place the song she meant, but I appreciated the sentiment. It was something about a fight song. I planned to look it up later.
That was Thursday, the weekend was a whirlwind! Friday I dropped the kids at our friends house to ride to school, headed off to school myself, straight to work from there and finally arrived home in time to put Silas to bed Friday night, so I could study for a bit.
Saturday was off to the races early. I dropped Ally at her dad’s for coverage of her day’s activities (Cue:severe mommy guilt for missing her Gymnastics Showcase). Then we had Ethan’s baseball pictures at 9am and game at 10am. The game went into extra innings, because I wasn’t stressed enough about the schedule, and we came screeching into the garage just minutes before Ethan’s friends arrived for his birthday party. Fortunately my beau and his little dude were already there, just in case. Brian and I filled canteens for all the boys, loaded everyone into the cars and headed off to Shaw Nature Reserve for an afternoon of hiking and exploring. After everyone was thoroughly exhausted, we headed home for parents to pick up their boys. I ordered pizza while our boys played Wii. Then B and I collapsed on the couch for a bit. I may even have dozed briefly. After B and G left, and my boys were settled for the night, and Ally was retrieved from her cousin’s house, I sat down for another study session until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Sunday morning we were all pretty quiet. B and G were back in time to go church with all of us. We caravan-ed over to the Crossing and I passed my kiddos off to their dad after service. Then I raced home to change clothes and grab food before going to work for the day. After work, I got in a short run and a shower and I was studying (while cooking salmon and drinking a glass of wine) when B showed up for dinner. Neither one of us had enough energy to do anything more than sit on the couch.
Monday morning I was up with the sun for one last study session before heading off to school to take another exam. I tanked this one. And by tanked I mean it brought my average down to a 94%. I’ll survive to see another day. But my competitive nature is flaring. During the 3 hours of lecture that followed, I found my mind wandering more than usual. And at 1:00 when I finally sat down on my counselor’s mini-couch (I won’t say love seat, that’s a stupid name for a piece of furniture, especially in a therapist’s office), I promptly burst into tears.
“I’m so tired!” I sobbed.
CRASH! That was the the sound of my martyrdom crashing head first into a solid, cinder block wall.
We talked about a lot in our hour, but that’s covered under patient confidentiality so I can’t tell you the details. I can, however, tell you that a big part of it had to do with me taking care of…me.
Yes, it’s true. I have this problem with being a martyr. I try to be all things to all people. I make sure everyone is cared for. And while I stepped out on my own a few years ago as a single woman, in an effort to take care of me, my needs, my heart, I still find myself crawl back into the role of martyr on occasion. It’s a sneaky, subtle process. And then eventually I hit a breaking point which brings me to the realization that I’m back.
Last night I was out to pick up a couple things, gifts for Ally’s teachers and supplies for Silas’ talent show skit. He’s going to be Silas the Mad Scientist and do “experiments” with Pepsi and Mentos. I hope someone will take a video since I will be at my own last day of class that day. I walked into Bread Co to get some gift cards for the teachers and I saw, none other than, Amy Marxkors. I find it hilarious that this girl and I can try and try and try to make plans, but they always fall through. And then randomly we will run into each other multiple times in a week. I saw her twice last week at the end of my 13 mile run on Al Foster.
I gave her a quick run down of what’s going on with me and found out about some cool new projects she is working on. And then, like a flash, she was gone. Off to deliver a strawberry smoothie to the little girl she was tutoring. But the thing that is so cool about my random Marxkors sightings, is that they may be brief, but they are always profound. I texted her later to say how glad I was to see her and that I knew it was supernatural. Her text back was on point…”Oh, I’m so glad! It is crazy how we run into each other at just the right time. Be strong and deny the “martyr” thing. That’s just a lie the devil uses to steal our lives. God talks about quiet and stillness. You need that. Don’t sacrifice that.”
So, today as I enjoyed my quiet and stillness…maybe not so much physical stillness as just letting my brain be still, I heard Him softly telling me, “It’s ok. You do an amazing job of taking care of everyone, but it’s ok to take care of yourself. You are my child, too. Let go of the martyr thing…”
While a part of me wants to jump up and down and scream, “WooHoo!”, there is an equal part of me that isn’t really sure what letting go looks like. Change is scary. It’s “just” hard. But’s it’s also a necessary part of growth.
I have proven I’m a fighter. I have proven I can do any darn thing I set my mind to. I have proven I can be a full time mom, go to school, work and keep everything running like a well oiled machine. But who am I trying to prove any of this to? Now it’s time for me to prove that the fighter in me can fight the urge to be the martyr. Because I am so much more than “just” a martyr. I can let go. I can make waves no matter what I’m doing. Or not doing. Starting now I reclaim my life. I reclaim me.
And Heather’s song is still just as appropriate. Take a listen…