Finding A Balance

‎I sat down after a long day of work to stalk my Facebook friends and play some word games. When that didn’t satisfy my mind, it started wandering… Well careening wildly might be a better description. I’ve been on a crazy roller coaster ride of thoughts lately. I have no desire or motivation for projects or cleaning right now. When that happens my mind goes into an introspective and over analyzing spiral that is hard to escape from.

Blogging Workflow

Blogging Workflow (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)

It’s at times like this that I lose myself in books, movies, and mini marathons of tv shows on Netflix instant play. But today even those distractions did not appeal to me. So I turned to the next best thing, blogging. Because now I can express what has my mind going in vicious circles and maybe get it to shut up. So I sat down with a topic in mind, something that I have been pondering for a few months, but that recently became more clear. And when I went to write this post I found a draft of an older post that I had saved with this quote;

 

‎”There’s a difference between who we love, who we settle for, and who we’re meant for.”

I think I saw it on Facebook a while back and knew a day would come when I would be ready to blog about. It could be interpreted to be related to dating, but I think we can take it deeper than that. I think this can apply to all our close relationships in life. Family, friends, and significant others are all something that can be defined by this quote. I’m going to leave family and significant others alone for this post but may return to them at a later date. For today I want to talk about friends.
Ah friendship, that thing we all need, desire, and take for granted. It’s the taking for granted part that has had my mind buzzing for a while now. I am so guilty of this crime. The number of friends that I would like to consider close, but that I know I have not put enough effort into staying in touch. The friends I lost because I just assumed they would stick around, regardless of my actions or lack thereof. At what point do we give up? When do we decide that it’s not worth the effort. Or forget that all relationships take two people. I have some amazing friends, all over the globe. But I know that there are only a tiny handful that I could call out of the blue and talk to them like no time has passed. These are the ones I was meant for, and they for me.

The Knave of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

The Knave of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Too often we give too much of ourselves and our hearts away to friends who don’t return it. Or the friend grows weary of us and drifts away, or quietly ends the friendship. Much like a relationship where the feelings become one sided, so can friendships. Only with friends we are often too timid or afraid of conflict to tell them that we are weary or confront the friend that has stopped accepting our invitations to hang out. It is at this point that we begin to settle. Rather than cultivating and growing our friendships into lasting relationships we give up. But even worse, when the good ones fail, we begin to settle for friendships that are unfulfilling and below our normal standards.
Why can we stand up for ourselves in romantic relationships but with friendships we play fast and loose at times. Or is it just me? Maybe my relationship issues are bigger than just romance. Maybe I should analyze those friends that I can count on at 3 in the morning and see what traits they possess that makes us such a lasting match as friends. After all, everyone says you should marry your best friend…

dialogue

dialogue (Photo credit: paloetic)

Whatever the issue, I have found myself looking hard at some friendships that have felt one sided for some time. And recently have begun to make me feel worse about myself as a person. I question “what have I done, or how did I behave that they no longer want to hang out?” And no one should ask that about themselves. But for me, so much about my life has changed and improved in the last 6 months and especially the last 3, that I really have to wonder if maybe we just grew apart. I could “chase” after them, question them about it, try to make amends or modify the offending behavior. But I find myself thinking more along the lines of, “if they really valued our friendship and missed our time, shouldn’t they come to me and let me know?” I have reached out asking for time to hang out one on one, I have tried to encourage an open dialogue, I have even limited my interactions with them thinking maybe they just needed space or time off.  But short of just flat out confronting them head on, I feel I’ve exhausted all avenues.
For now I’ve decided to pull back completely. I guess I need some time for myself; to stop feeling hurt, indignant, and angry. Where do we draw the line between those we love, and those we are meant for… Or how do we recognize the difference? But most importantly, how do we learn to stop settling for those friendships that are just placeholders.

 

 

 

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Our Deepest Need

Yes, I know I’ve been horribly absent from here.  My life went for a big rollercoaster ride and I’m all the better for it, but it was a rought journey.  There were times of absolute bliss, and times of true heartache.  Friends have come and gone, and so has love.  As usual for me I turned inward for a while reaching out as needed but feeling alone in a sea of worries.  I don’t know why I let myself get like that but I do.  Thankfully this time I had my running to help me cope.  And each stride I took on the asphalt helped me work out another problem, a hidden cry fest, or an angry itch.

A toddler girl crying

A toddler girl crying (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But this week, I came to understand something that I think I was ignoring.  I have a strong faith, it is not one I talk about much or express in day to day life, other than actions themselves.  I reach out to God often, but not as much as I’m aware.  This past month and more, I have had some days of just utter despair, where I couldn’t hold back the tears or the sobbing.  It had been a long time since I had cried this hard.  And even the last time I had not given in to the sorrow as much as I probably should have.  I felt like crying after my marathon, but held it back, maybe if I had this wouldn’t have gone on so long.

But whatever the reason, I cried and cried.  I sat with my head in my hands, I curled up in my bed, I leaned into a friend’s arms for relief.  There were no cries for help, no prayers from my lips.  But somehow I was heard, it just took me a little while to realize it.  There is a point when we all feel that pain in our deepest soul.  For some it just is there, for others it won’t go away, for some it results in tears, and for me it becomes a sobbing.  I think that is when we lay ourselves bare.  That is when you can’t hide from what truly pains you and what you are really looking for.  A solace that is more than companionship, love, or comforting.

Sermons teach us about agape, a love that transcends all.  I think this is what that pain in our soul calls out for.  And for some that can be found in prayer, for others a small gesture, and sometimes it just fills in slowly.  Last week, I had an emotionally charged evening, and woke up feeling overwhelmed and confused.  I headed out for a run in the rain, with a soundtrack to suit my mood, and a certain South Pacific song in the back of my head.  I came back feeling clear headed and cleansed of so much, but it wasn’t till I drove to work that I became whole.  That was when I saw the rainbow.

It’s a little hard to spot at first

This was the second time I had seen a rainbow in the past weeks.  There was something about this one that just struck me, and I remembered the story of Noah, and how a rainbow is god’s promise to us.  A story I think that is often overlooked, and this detail one that is overshadowed by animals and an ark.  But then I thought about how this was the second time in just a month that I had seen a rainbow early in the morning after a good run, and a long night beforehand.  And I realized that this was God’s way of showing me that all is okay, and will be okay.  That my prayers that I didn’t even know I had uttered were being answered.

Funny enough, I changed my phone screen saver to a shot of that first rainbow right after I saw it.  Now I’m reminded every day of this gift, and the peace it brings me is immeasureable.  Life is moving forward and sometimes you are not always ready for the changes it will bring, but at least now I feel supported in a way that is bigger than life itself.

Understanding Grief

I’ve been mulling this topic over in my head for some time.  It’s one I’ve had on my mind a while, I just couldn’t put a finger on it.  You see to me, grief can be experienced anytime we lose something dear to us.  Now this can be through a death, a move, or the most insidious when something dear and precious is suddenly gone that we were taking for granted.

 

Before I talk about that last loss, we need to understand grief.  According to Webster’s Dictionary grief is defined as:

 

a : deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement

b : a cause of such suffering

 

We have all heard about the 5 stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  So now, where does that apply when we lose something that is a thought, an idea, a feeling.  For me, it drops you right in the same boat as anyone else, only instead of slowly moving through these stages, they rush down on you and take you for a ride.  Often people talk of losing their innocence, or feelings of security.  Sometimes  we might have someone in our life that we rely on more than we even realize.  When these things are suddenly gone, or changed in a way that we can’t handle, I believe we begin to grieve for them.

We start with denial, telling our selves that we are being crazy.  That everything is okay, and nothing is going to change.  Or the worst form of denial… that this change will pass and everything will go back to the way it was.  That is the worst way to go. Because not accepting change as a finite thing will always lead you to disappointment and more grief.  Physics classes taught us about change, and hopefully you did better at physics than I did, but my understanding is that despite something going back to its original state after a process, it has still experienced a change in some tiny way.  Attitudes change, people change, friendships change.  They all can be for the better but denying that it’s happening is going to get you smack dab at stage number 2.

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anger, a dangerous thing.  Especially if you are like me and have a temper.  Anger is where we start to boil over, and take it out on those we love.  But we have to get angry.  Skip this step and try to move ahead and you will just end up back at it.  Sadly the stages of grief do not have to go in order.  Anger cannot be controlled, but it can be experienced in a healthy way.  We can embrace it in all it’s heat and malevolence and push it into an intense workout, a thorough cleaning of our house, and many more things.  What we should not and must not do is try to avoid the anger, or push it aside because it feels wrong.  That’s when outbursts will happen.  That phrase about not bottling up anger is so true.

If we can make it to Bargaining we are doing well, but this can be the hardest part.  How do you bargain with yourself and the universe at large when what you have lost isn’t tangible?  This is where standing up for yourself and your beliefs becomes critical.  If something you have lost is important enough to have you experiencing grief, then you have to let yourself bargain with the universe, friends, or even yourself.  Tell yourself that you can deal with the loss by reaching out to new friends and old friends.  That time alone is all you need, and the wounds will heal.  Or the worst way to bargain, convince yourself that if you change it will bring your loss back. It’s this bargaining that brings us to depression.

Grief

Grief (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems so wrong that after all of this you become depressed.  And this depression can hit you when you least expect it.  It will swallow you up and whisper dark things in your ear.  Will make you feel worse than any other stage has.  What you have to remember is that you need to reach out to people more than ever at this time.  Not everyone will be receptive or available but keep reaching.  Someone out there is ready to listen, to embrace you in friendship and comforting words.  But don’t hide the depression or tuck it away.  That will only feed it and make it worse.  Just like the Anger you need to experience it.  Some describe it as an exquisite pain and it can be a one of a kind experience that will change you forever.

Now for the hard part, Acceptance.  This does not always come easy.  For some, it happens all of a sudden.  They are out and see something or experience something that suddenly helps them come to terms with the loss.  For others, it’s a slower process with tiny steps towards the larger goal.  Maybe they find themselves smiling or laughing one day.  Or they get to the end of the day and realize they didn’t spend it thinking about the loss.  What must happen is that you acknowledge that you have lost something, however small or slight it is.

I have obviously experienced a loss lately, but it wasn’t a person it was something more.  I lost my understanding of friendships.  Too often I labeled friendships, and attached value based on those labels.  What I have learned in the last few weeks besides the fact that I still have a wicked temper… I have learned that friendships ebb and flow like tides.  Sometimes you’re closer to one friend than another.  You might be inseparable from one person and then get torn away by a change in your lives.   This doesn’t have to mean the friendship is over it’s just taking a new path.

Sadly, I did not take my own advice up top.  I was all over the map with my 5 stages of grief.  Thankfully I have found a peace that helped me come to terms with what was going on.  I may still float back into some of these stages as time goes on, but I feel that each trip will be a little shorter and a little less intense.  Time heals all wounds… but sometimes we need a little Neosporin in the form of friendships new and old.

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Broken hearts, Bad days, and Sore muscles

Well this week has taken me on a rollercoaster ride.  After an amazing weekend at home with my parents, I returned refreshed and eager to take on the mess at home and at work.  Little did I know what the week had in store for me.

Work kicked off with a couple emails that just made me sick.  Not gonna get into details, but let’s just say there was nothing constructive about the criticism I received.  And now I’m walking on eggshells every day.  Threatening someone’s job is not a motivator, unless you want a fearful office.  But all that went out the window shortly after getting home.

Defective parts - Broken hearts - NARA - 535072

Defective parts - Broken hearts - NARA - 535072 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read my last blog, you know that my love life is a constant mess, and that soap opera drama seems to follow me.  Despite my best efforts to be laid back and relaxed, emotional people and crazy drama just happens.  Recently I had my heart broken, and it’s no one’s fault or someone being mean or hurtful.  Simply put, I had stronger feelings than they did and thankfully they didn’t string me along.  But the pain of that hasn’t healed, regardless of my best efforts to pretend it has.

This week, I tried a little too hard to ignore it, and it ended up biting me in the ass.  It’s hard to be happy sometimes.  Oh sure you smile, and your life could be much worse, and you tell yourself this.  But sometimes you just want to have a pity party and feel sorry for yourself.  And by Friday I was in full pity party mode.  What made the week and that so awful was that the one person I wanted to talk to about everything I was feeling, was the one friend I couldn’t talk to.

Flower and leaves of Lantana camara Français :...

Flower and leaves of Lantana camara Français : Fleurs et feuilles de Thé de gambie (Lantana camara) Português: Flores e folhas de Lantana camara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So now that I’ve said everything and nothing about the week, I guess I should update you on my running.  Today, I’m nursing a sore IT Band, and the oh so fun headache that I just seem to get after every long distance run.  I had a gluten attack Saturday morning, so I had to cut my run early, and run the rest of the difference today.  Then today I got shat on by some small animal in a tree… reluctant to say it was a bird, because of what it looked like.  And apparently Lantana can cause contact dermatitis.  I used a leaf to clean off.  So my throat closed up and I broke out in hives on my arm.

All in all an awesome day, that is getting better.  No really, I am starting to feel better and I’m sitting at the wine shop with a great breeze and some good friends.  Sucking down crazy amounts of Powerade and water, before I let my self drink.  Which I really just need to avoid, but hey when in Rome

I’m feeling optimistic about the week ahead, but know that I need to focus on some things at home.  The laundry has gotten crazy and the kitchen needs a good top to bottom scrub.  But I feel better about my schedule this week.  And if all else fails, I can focus on my trip to DC this weekend to run my first 5K!

Hearts will heel, tomorrow is another day, and epsom salts are cheap.

Off The Deep End

Have you heard that I have gone off the deep end again? I’m training to run a marathon!

Every 5 minutes someone new is diagnosed with a blood cancer.  This is why I have committed to run the San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon on June 3rd.  I am busy training with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.  My goal is to raise $5000 to help stop leukemia, lymphoma Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives.

My grandmother Virginia Barbee taught me many things in life but most importantly she taught me to give to others and to strive for excellence.  My grandfather Jack Bishop showed me that a charitable life is a full life, and that any goal I want I can achieve.  It is for them and for some other very important people who are still fighting that I am preparing to run 26.2 miles.

Everyone who has lost this battle and everyone who continues to fight this battle has a story and a family who loves them.  Their courage and faith drive me to continue my fight for a cure in hopes that no one else will have to lose a loved one.  A financial contribution in   support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society would be greatly appreciated.  All donations are tax-deductible. You can visit my personal webpage to donate and to keep track of my training and fundraising:

http://pages.teamintraining.org/nc/rnr12/suebaby

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.  ~Dr. Seuss

The poetry of running

Fun runners taking part in the 2006 Bristol Ha...

Image via Wikipedia

Well back in January, I started training for a marathon.  No I’m not one of those crazy runners who are just addicted and wear the skinny leggings… but I’m on my way.  I have tried several times over the past 2 years to train and run a distance run.  First a 5K, then a half marathon, then I spent a year with injuries.  Now I’m going whole hog and training for a full.  But I’m not alone in this.  I’ve signed up with Team In Training to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  I watched my mother train for 2 marathons that she completed so I know it can be done.

The question now is will I be able to survive all of this.  Yesterday for a good part of my run, I thought I might have to give it up.  Muscles were hurting in places I didn’t know could hurt.  My body felt like absolute lead.  But then I got in the last 2 miles, back in a neighborhood, all by myself.  Now this is not because I’m an awesome runner.  Far from it, in fact.  I’m running in intervals of 3 and 3.  So I run for 3 minutes and walk for 3 minutes.  I keep an okay pace, but not great and Saturday it was way off.  I’m also usually the only one in my group training for the Full so in the next few weeks I’ll be running about 2 miles further than they will.
English: Mailboxes in Italy Italiano: Cassette...

Image via Wikipedia

So here I was with only 2 people behind me and 2 miles to go, hating my body.  And then something happened… Yeah not a runners high so much as an odd epiphany.  I realized why I was so miserable.  I had stopped listening to my music it was now just noise in my ear.  I was looking at trees and mailboxes as goalposts to stop running at.  My muscles were aching but I hadn’t noticed how even my breathing had become or that my legs just kept pulling me along.  I was missing the point of running and more importantly the point of doing this with Team in Training.

So I changed my playlist, and found a salsa mix to give me a real rhythm to run to.  I focused on the beat of my feet hitting the pavement.  I looked at the yards and the houses and the gardens.  Most importantly, I thought about my grandfather and my grandmother who I am running for.  And then I thought about our mission moment and the family waiting at Duke to hear about their child.  And suddenly I didn’t hurt anymore, and I ran longer, and I breathed better.
See I think Team in Training is about more than getting in shape to run a marathon.  It’s about giving purpose to your endeavor.  There are lots of running groups out there, but here is one that inspires your soul.
To donate to the cause please visit my fundraising website at http://pages.teamintraining.org/nc/rnr12/suebaby