Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015: In Joy and Sorrow

In the nearly five years(!) since I've been writing this blog, I've found it fun to reflect on the passing year before setting goals (i.e. making non-resolutions) for the upcoming year. I set a lot of goals at the end of last year, and this has been a pretty epic running year for me. It has also been the most challenging year of my life (in both good and bad ways).

On January 1, 2015 I had a two-week old baby. My eyes felt like they were filled with sand. Sleep deprivation is legit. I gained a new appreciation for all the parents I knew who appeared to be functioning like normal humans. I learned that new parents are, in fact, wizards. I discovered an all-consuming love that I'd never known. My son is a joy every single day. It's the hardest and most rewarding job I've ever done, and I love every second of it.  

With my little dude when he was about four months old. This love is the best.

I returned to work the first week in February to a new job. I am with the same organization, but I transitioned from lobbying to running our foundation. When I look back at my travel schedule this year, I honestly don't know how I did it. I was on the road 3-4 days a week to Michigan cities like Traverse City, Boyne City, Port Huron, Midland, Benton Harbor, Monroe, Freemont and Mackinac Island to name a few. I attended a great training in June in New York City at the nationally renowned Foundation Center. My new position has a lot of flexibility, and for that I am infinitely grateful. However being a Type A crazy person means I still try to cram in something into all the hours of the day plus more. But I love this job and the work we're doing for communities. I can't imagine doing anything else. 

Preaching the placemaking gospel to a legislative committee.

We had lot of personal trips too. We went to West Virginia seven times (including spending the bulk of October there). We spent a week with my family near Nashville,Tennessee, and I am so grateful for that last vacation with my dad. We attended several weddings including one in Manistee in northern Michigan. My son visited Lake Michigan for the first time on a beautiful summer day. My husband, two of our best friends and I went to New York City where I ran the marathon. My son and I went to Austin, Texas to visit my best friend/his godmother and also went to San Antonio to cheer her on during her first half marathon. Finally we spent the week of Christmas with my family in the Outer Banks. At the age of one, my son has visited twelve states. Not too shabby.

Ryman Auditorium with the fam

I've run faster than ever. I ran five 5ks, one 5k/10k combo, five half marathons, one ten mile/5k combo and a marathon. I ran a personal best at every distance including slicing five minutes off my half marathon time and a half hour off my marathon PR.  I trained less than ever, somehow miraculously remained uninjured, and I got faster. There is no scientific logic that supports what happened to my running speed this year, and I chalk it up to stress relief and pure tenacity. I'm psyched to focus on the 5k in 2016, a goal I set for this year on which I did not make time to focus.

All smiles after a serious PR in the NYC Marathon
This year wasn't all about my being a speed demon in love with a baby boy. My health took a beating as a result of stress and pushing myself too hard. I was having dizzy spells in the spring/summer, and we discovered my stored iron levels were dangerously low. Thanks to some iron infusions I've felt much better this fall. My Crohn's had a few rough spots as well, but again pure stubbornness pulled me through.

In October I lost my dad, and I've spent a lot of time talking about it. Nearly three months later my heart is still aching. If you buy into Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) I'm currently hovering somewhere between denial and anger but leaning toward the anger stage. I'm pissed that my dad isn't here. I'm pissed that I think about him so much more now that he's gone. When he was here he was just here, and I took it for granted. You expect losing a parent to be awful, but you have no idea how awful it's going to be. Then there's the bonus awful: nobody prepares you for the worry and hurt for the parent who's still with us. I worry about my mom constantly. She's a grown-up who has spent 63 years on this planet, but I find myself fretting about her all the time. This year contained both the most joyful and most painful moments of my life, and it's given me extraordinary perspective.  

I just found this photo of my dad and my son in Tennessee last summer. Heart wrenching.
I rarely say no to any of the adventures life throws my way, and the result is my constantly moving. Given the perspective of this year I don't expect that to change much. I intend to celebrate every day. I intend to drink the good champagne on a Tuesday. I'm going to hug people I love and laugh a lot. My goal is to tell people the positive things about my life first instead of the negative. I've got a great life, and there's a lot for which to be thankful. 

Let's do this 2016. Let's make this year rock. Let's remember that life is short. Let's love too much, and celebrate everything. My favorite country singer, fellow West Virginian Brad Paisley, said: "Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one." Cheers to you all my friends!

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