The beauty of effort (What a grand title?! Right? Lofty aspirations)

I was part of something amazing and beautiful and moving today.  I couldn’t help but smile through it all, even the difficult parts.  It was so beautiful I cried a little bit.  My daughter liked it, even though some parts were “a little weird”.  My husband enjoyed it.  Everyone who participated was moved in some way, I think.

I am honored to be part of a semi-professional choir called Choral Arts of Chattanooga.  They are all amazing.  I feel like the weakest link, just stumbling behind, trying really hard to sing at their level.  Today we performed the Missa Gaia by Paul Winter — with additional music by Paul Halley, under the direction of our wonderful director, Keith Reas.  (Sadly, this was our last concert under his direction, as he is leaving to devote more time to his other musical talents.  He is a wonderful person and I have so enjoyed his musical direction and selection, even if they are sometimes… unusual.)

Today we performed the Earth Mass.  It included recordings of wolves, whales, harp seals, and birds.  (I know what you’re thinking, but this was really well done and not corny in the least.)  Jazz pianist and professor, Dave Walters, played with us.  We had incredible percussion and soprano sax.  As usual, David Friberg accompanied us on the organ.  I was surrounded by beautiful voices and was able to stand next to a (super fun) second soprano whose voice blended really well with mine.  Each member of the choir sang the notes we had learned individually — and together we created such beautiful and incredible music.  I am always amazed at how I feel up on stage, singing, sharing emotions and music at the same time.  It is obviously indescribable.

Things that I love and that bring joy and a sense of wonder have some things in common for me. (I noticed this today during an epiphany/performance high.)

They are individual accomplishments and group efforts at the same time.  They involve a sense of stepping outside my comfort zone (I also like to call it my tiny little safety bubble.)  They require a lot of hard work and time and effort and showing up when I don’t really feel like it.

You might have noticed that I like to sing.  I also love the feeling of successfully treating a patient with surgery or medicine.  I love seeing my daughter say or do something that makes her happy or proud.  And there are few feelings like that of crossing a finish line.

Some of these come naturally, some don’t.  But it doesn’t mean that some are harder than others.  Achieving a goal is just hard.  That’s why it means something.

Some of the music I have learned is hard.  It is really challenging.  But beautiful.

Some cases require a lot of work and second-guessing and waking up worried in the middle of the night and research and communication.  But they are rewarding and help me learn.

Being a good example for my daughter and having to tell her no or see her cry sometimes is really hard and often heartbreaking.  But it is worth it to see her grow as a little human being.

Training for an Ironman (and finally finishing one) is going to be tough.  Some days I will smile all the way through training, and some days I will cry.  Some days I will cry a lot. Those days are not pretty.  But I will show up and I will put in the effort.

Because I am finally learning from all the beautiful things I have experienced!  (And I will probably have to learn it again and again.  I’m slow like that.)  I’ve learned that in the end, it’s worth all the difficulty just to be a part of those precious moments when my heart completely overflows.

(You think a runner’s high is great?!  You should try a performance high.  Nothing.  Like.  It.)

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First blog post!

Much procrastination and anxiety finally gives way to my first blog post. I’m not expecting that many will read this, so it’s really pretty safe, right? Right? I have already learned a few things on the journey to my first blog post. Lesson one: Just go ahead and write it. Lesson two: Rewrite your post in a word processing software that autosaves, then copy and paste to blog. The original post was waaaaay better, but you’ll just have to trust me on that one, since it has disappeared into the nether regions of the computer or the cloud or the server or whatever.

My original topic was something of an introduction to me and my personal situation. Maybe it was a little too personal for an introduction. Maybe my subconscious allowed it to be deleted for my own good. For better or worse, I have a new topic. It can be a bad word, so you are forewarned. Inertia. Stupid, stupid inertia. (Unless I’m already in the habit of training, then it’s Inertia!! J Yay!!)

 

in·er·tia

noun \i-ˈnər-shə, -shē-ə\

: lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed

: a feeling of not having the energy or desire that is needed to move, change, etc.

physics : a property of matter by which something that is not moving remains still and something that is moving goes at the same speed and in the same direction until another thing or force affects it

 

I’ve always thought of the physics definition when I think of the term inertia, but that’s because I am nerdy. “An object in motion tends to stay in motion; (then the cursed part…) an object at rest tends to stay at rest.” Or “It’s really hard to start training again when you’ve been sitting on your very round ass all winter and the weather is gross and you feel gross and there’s not enough daylight and work is hard and life is stressful and you’re just…so…tired”.

That’s my current battle. Mentally, I’m in a much better place than a few months ago when “The Incident” occurred and everything changed. (Did you like that teaser for a future post? Clever, I know.) I’m back to the (mostly) positive person I used to be. But I’m tired. And I know the effort that has to go into training for an Ironman triathlon because I’ve done it. Twice. But I haven’t completed either race – for a variety of reasons (also to be mulled over later). The training though? I did that. And now, just thinking about it makes me tired. I’m also really impressed with the woman who did all that. How did she do it?! It’s difficult to remind myself that that woman was me. She still is me. And I am even tougher now than I was then. So what’s the hold up, woman?! Inertia.

It’s those first few runs and rides and swims that are so hard. My husband is awesome and sympathetic but when I whine about not wanting to go run after work in the rain, he doesn’t listen. “Just go for 20 minutes. Just get back in the habit”. He’s right, of course, but he just doesn’t understand… Wait. Yes, he does. A four-time Ironman with a difficult schedule like mine, plus a crazy wife. So yeah, I guess his advice is worth taking.

I’m still struggling with making myself get out there at least 5 days a week, but with the Ironman coming up in 5 months (what did I do?!?) I’ve got some pressure on me.

This week. I’m totally going to get dedicated this week. No, really this time. Just as soon as I finish, um, the laundry. Um, and the dishes. Oh, and I need to make a grocery list. And you know. All that stuff that will be here when I get back from my run or ride or swim. J

You may be picturing someone glamorous and rich who has nannies and housekeepers and (sigh) a chef, because let’s face it, I just exude glamour. To keep things honest, I should give a bit of introduction here, I suppose. I am 35 years old, married to an incredible man who can do anything through sheer willpower. I am a small animal veterinarian in a suburb of a moderately sized city that is pretty awesome. I work with some great people and some trying people. I have one daughter who is 4 and is the most awesome person I have ever met. I have a house that is always messy and there is frequently a borderline acceptable level of dog and cat hair on the couch. I have battled depression for a long, long time. I wasn’t even aware that was a problem in high school, but I’m pretty sure it was. I went through a divorce, 2 job changes, moving to a new city, meeting my super husband, having my fantastic daughter, some successful marathon finishes, two failed Ironman attempts, the death of my father, “The Incident” and – the most difficult of all – just dealing with day to day life. Some periods of time I have been pretty ok. Some times have been really, really tough. I feel sad and down and lifeless at times, then I feel guilty for feeling sad and down and lifeless, because my life is really pretty great. Plus, I have enough food to eat, I don’t have to raise my daughter in a war zone, and we’re all healthy. I have tried some medications that helped but made me feel monotone, some medications that had REALLY terrible side effects (like making me crazy or keeping me from sleeping, which also makes you crazy), and finally a medication that makes me feel like my old, positive self! I’ve found that exercise helps with my depression more than anything else. That’s how I found myself in spandex.

I thought I would never, never wear something as ridiculous as spandex cycling gear or those weird suits people wear for triathlons. I now have a few sets. (It really does have a purpose! No, seriously.)

I saw my husband start running. I remember the day he ran around the entire 2 mile track in our local park and it was a huge accomplishment. Then I watched him work every day to get stronger. I remember the day he finished his first marathon. I remember when he took his old mountain bike and some running shorts to his first triathlon. It was the most supportive atmosphere I had seen in a long time. All shapes and sizes and speeds, all cheering for each other. (I specifically remember an especially heavyset woman who finished a full half hour after anyone else and the fact that so many people – including some of those who finished first in their age groups– standing at the finish line to cheer her through the arch emblazoned with “FINISH”) I remember the long, arduous training sessions for his first Ironman. I remember his first Ironman finish and how electric the atmosphere was at the finish line and all along the course. (I also remember driving him to the ER because the medical tent at the finish line was so full of people punished by the unseasonable heat and humidity that year).

The next week, I decided to train for a marathon. The effort that went into the training for my first marathon did wonders for my emotional state. There were runs where I felt like a superstar and runs where I cried for miles at a time. But I finished all of those training runs, and that was eye opening. I felt better about myself. I felt better about things in general. There were good days and bad days, but I could deal with them all a little better. I am still someone dealing with depression, and I still have bad days and sometimes even bad weeks. But I’m much more comfortable in my spandex than I used to be.