On a balmy, 60-degree Thanksgiving day this year, I ran my first 5K Race. If I had told my one-year-ago self that this would happen, I would never have believed it. Before this, I couldn’t get past three minutes of straight running without feeling like I was going to die, and yet, I now have a race bib and an ugly turkey sweatshirt to prove it. (Why’s racing gear often so unattractive?)
And you know what else? I didn’t run alone. My Guy ran it with me. Double shocker. In the seven years we’ve been together, he’s worked out maybe 25 times. Okay, I’m exaggerating. It’s 30. At most. But now you’ll find our matching sweatshirt in our closet (where they’ll mostly stay) to prove that we’ve achieved what we once thought was impossible.
When I decided to try running in early September this year, I suggested that he gave it a shot as well. Much to my surprise, he did. However, we never ran together before our race because someone had to stay home to watch the kids while the other hit the pavement, which means our little Turkey Trot held a couple of firsts for us - running together and completing a race. The jerk also beat me, in case you’re wondering, but, in all seriousness, I’m incredibly proud of him. Well, us, to be honest.
We then went home and enjoyed the rest of our Thanksgiving Day with our family and friends, minus the guilt of that extra serving of stuffing and pie. But that isn’t the end of the story.
I continue to run, practicing 10K’s on my own, feeling strong, capable, and empowered after each session. And while this motivates me to keep going, I also notice how much more open I am these days to trying new things and challenging myself. And I think it has something to do with running.
Since early Fall, I have been on a mission to give the girls’ room a makeover, and instead of purchasing decor like I used to, I started to create simple little accent pieces on my own. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but had you met me a year ago, you would understand what a feat this is for me.
My lack of time and drive, plus having the luxury of my own paycheck from a full-time job, had made me perfectly content to turn to retail to spruce up our house. With the exception of making thank you cards and party decor once or twice a year for my girls’ birthday parties, I didn’t think I was creative enough or patient enough or precise enough to make anything worthy to be displayed. Leave it to the experts, I would think.
Lately, however, I’ve started to see the appeal of toiling away to create something, even if it takes me longer than most, because the result, even if it’s imperfect, is far more satisfying than anything I can buy from the stores.
Like this butterfly mobile for example. I happened upon it on my favorite DIY craft blog while I was looking around for a guide on making our last project, the Fall banner, and I thought it would be perfect for the girls’ room, right above Thumper’s crib. We had already painted one of the walls hot pink, as per Little Miss’ request, and we needed some colorful accents to complement the wall.
What took the blogger probably two hours to make took this newbie crafter closer to four as I had to make a few modifications due to the lack of recommended tools, but I was happy with the results. It’s far from perfect, but it’s homemade, and it looks the part. I’m okay with that.
Just like these wall cubes that were inspired by a picture I saw on the Internet. This time, I only had my own vision to guide me. With no instructions, I had to wing it. For someone who loves decorative paper and appreciates paper crafts, this was a dream project for me.
It took me several shopping trips to gather the materials and a few late nights of labor to paint the plain white cubes from Target, and size and adhere the carefully chosen paper to the cubes. At the end, it felt like I had just given birth to a set of wall cubes rather than just embellishing them - that’s how proud I was of them.
The sense of accomplishment is addictive. Much like running. I’m not in it to compete with others; just crossing the finish line, knowing I had achieved what I had set out to do, was a win in my book.
I realize now just what a gift this new (hobby? sport?) is to me, and it goes far beyond the calories I burn and the muscles I build. I started at a pace and distance my preschooler could probably match, and now I’m running my own 10K’s with relative ease, repeating a mantra to get me through the hardest parts, one foot in front of the other - I can do this.
Apparently, the can-do spirit has spilled over to the other aspects of my life. Who knew that running would also influence my crafty side? It has even improved my yoga practice! I don’t think twice now about kicking up to a headstand in the middle of the room, whereas I never could before. Granted, I haven’t perfected my pose yet – my legs and torso still do not form a straight line – but I have no doubt I will get there.
This new confidence is invigorating, and, for the sake of my daughters, I hope it’s also infectious. My one-year-ago self would not recognize the me today, but it’s a good thing. Because now I don’t just think I can accomplish anything I set out to achieve; I know I can.
It’s just a matter of time.