How Practising Active Gratitide Can Help Your Kids

Sometimes the lengthy #momlife list can feel never-ending and overwhelming. There’s not enough time in the day for the duties of a parent and, every once in a while, resentment can sneak its unwanted little head into the mix all the to-dos.  

I’ve found that practising active gratitude always sets me back into the right frame of mind and reminds me of all my many gifts in this life. Those pesky lunches that need to be packed every day? Those are to feed my two beautiful kids. The after-school chaos between pick-up and rushing off to the soccer field? That’s so we can enjoy a beautiful spring evening outdoors with our friends in the community while the kids get active. Yet another birthday party present to buy for a classmate? A representation of healthy social interactions for my kids.

Knowing how active gratitude has helped me, it only makes sense that it’s a tool my daughter, Juliette, can apply when her feelings become too overwhelming to manage. At seven and a half, she is old enough to reason with and encourage logical discussion when emotions run high. And trust me, her emotions have a tendency to take over.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we were having our regular Saturday morning conflict over getting ready for gymnastics. Here’s how it goes: Saturday mornings we make a pancake breakfast as a family and sit around the kitchen with kids “helping,” music playing, and just the right amount of chaos. At around 9:00 am, the kids move into the living room to watch some cartoons as Jason and I start to get ready for the rest of our day. About 30 to 45 minutes later it’s time for Juliette to get ready for gymnastics. This is when things go sideways. The transition is always difficult and, no matter how many times  I remind her of how much fun she has at her weekly gymnastics class, she more often than not full of resistance.

We inevitably get into a fight. I sometimes lose my cool or, I sometimes handle it calmly (always try for the latter, however). Recently, I tried out something new to try to de-escalate Juliette’s overwhelming frustration and anger.

First, I gave her a hug and, while I was embracing her, I took a few deep inhalations and exhalations so she could feel the rise and fall of my breath. Then I looked at her and asked her to take three deep breaths with me. Already things were starting to settle down, and I could see that she really did want to be calm.

After our deep breaths, I hugged her again and started listing all the things I was grateful for in that moment.

“I am grateful for my beautiful daughter, who made me a mother.
I am grateful that I was able to give you a little brother, Miles.
I am grateful that we get to have a barbecue with our friends later today.
I’m grateful that we get to eat pancakes every Saturday morning.
I’m grateful for Victoria Beach, where we get to enjoy summer holidays…”

I went on like that for a little while and listed everything that popped into my head. When I was finished, and without prompting her, she began to list all the things that she was grateful for.

“I’m grateful for a mommy that loves me and a daddy that loves to play with me.
I’m grateful for my little brother.
I’m grateful that I get to do active things like play soccer and go to gymnastics.
I’m grateful for our cat, Murphy.”

And so on and so forth. The whole exercise took less than five minutes and once we were finished, it was like a whole new child sitting in front of me. She was calm, happy and ready to head out the door to gymnastics class.

Now, it is certainly not groundbreaking news that practising active gratitude can help us feel more connected to the world around us and less angry and resentful. As Brenė Brown, research professor at the University of Houston and published author says, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practising gratitude.”

Brown links gratitude to wholehearted living which “is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means waking up in the morning and thinking no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.

The values that Brown speaks of are exactly what I want to instil in my children. Creating healthy, gratitude-building habits for our kids now could mean a lifetime of healthier habits later, too. Active gratitude has been linked to improving overall mental and physical health by boosting self-esteem, lowering blood pressure, improving relationships, increasing energy, and improving sleep.

When I take a few moments out of my day to reflect on all the many things I have to be grateful for, somehow my fears, anxiety and material desires shrink and my sense of contentment and joy increases. It only makes sense that these simple yet effective tools that work in my life will also work for my children. And just like anything, the more we practise, the easier it becomes.

Postscript: as I sat here re-reading this and making final edits this morning, I felt calmer at the end than I did in the beginning. It would appear that even reading about gratitude helps ease the mind and relieve worrisome thoughts.

Enough Already

Nothing I can buy in a store can provide me with as much joy as seeing my street in
full spring bloom.

Do you ever just get sick of your bad habits? Like, the habits that you usually enjoy but know are bad for you?

I’m feeling that way with all my unconscious consumption habit. Clothes, mostly. I suffer from the ‘never enough stuff syndrome’ that is so rampid in our society. When I think about all the clothes I acquire in the course of a year, and how much of it I don’t actually need, it makes my stomach turn. I really do need for nothing.

I have enough already.

There’s not much good that comes from having too much stuff… It’s harmful for the environment. Inevitably all this excess stuff will wind up in a landfill where it will just sit, taking up space, for longer than my lifetime. Although I donate most of my unwanted goods, I really have no idea where all those items wind up once they’ve left my hands. Do they end up in new homes where they are treasured by their new owners? Or maybe sit unsold in a thrift store before eventually getting discarded? Perhaps they wind up in another home with an abundance of stuff before eventually being sent off to the dump. Who knows where it all goes? The point is, I don’t and that’s what makes it so irresponsible.

This kind of consumption also sets a bad example for my kids. They’re now young people who are beginning to suffer from “too much stuff,” too. It seems we can’t go anywhere without them asking me to buy them something they don’t need. When I say no, it turns into a conflict and there is usually a lot of whining, maybe some tears shed. But who can blame them? It’s how they’ve been conditioned. Do all kids want more stuff or just the ones who already have a lot? I’m guessing the latter.

But really, the worst of the whole predicament, is just that it feels bad. The rush of ‘newness’ is shortlived and inevitably followed by the bitter aftertaste of regret (unless it’s a truly treasured or useful item).

With all of this in mind, I am making a commitment this month to stop the leak and start navigating a path toward more conscious consumption. Right now, today, I have EVERYTHING I NEED.

It won’t be easy, and I know the urge will strike to acquire more crap (it always does with me). But instead of succombing to the temptation, I will ask myself these three questions:

  1. Do I already own it? If this is a duplicate of an already treasured item that I own, and I am just looking to double up, then it’s a hard no.
  2. Do I need it? Is this an item that I truly need in my life to serve a purpose or just something that I am looking to fill a desire with. And here’s the thing, the only thing I actually will NEED to buy this month is groceries – everything else is fluff.
  3. Can I afford it? Plain and simple.

With these questions asked and answered, the only items I should be purchasing are necessities and food. Everything else is a superfluous luxury. I am hoping that this will provide me with a sense of cleansing and maybe even a little spiritual growth. I mean, if I’m not filling up that insatiable void with stuff, I might just fill it the nectar of the universe and all its divine offerings.

Just like as it was in my drinking days, there never seems to be enough of what I don’t need. The differentiator is that my alcoholism would have probably killed me had I not sought help. I don’t anticipate this particular consumption problem killing me but it can definitely cause me pain. Because if I am using consumption, any kind of consumption, to make me feel happier or more content the odds of it working just aren’t in my favour.

If I am being honest right now, I’d have to say this is bringing up some fear in me. I’m reminded of a saying I’ve heard over the years about, “I am either afraid of losing something I have or of not getting something I want.” I’m paraphrasing but basically it all comes down to wants. Fear crops up when I think I might lose something, maybe it’s something I have, or maybe it’s something I want, but it’s rooted in desire. And so much of what I desire is rooted in materialism. So, if I can reframe that and realize I have everything I need and fill that fear with faith and gratitude, chances are all those consumable desires will shrink and leave me feeling abundant.

I’m feeling as though this mindless materialism is no longer serving me. Like, it’s as if for a long time it kind of did make me feel better and now it just doesn’t. I’m ready to feel lighter and more awakened. My worth is not based on what I am wearing or items I own.

A month of mindfulness and gratitude lies ahead of me. I am so ready to tackle this goal and feel lighter and more centred at the end.

Am I officially middle-aged?

Me, a woman in her 40s and feeling pretty okay about it 🙂

Just writing out that title feels weird. Middle-aged? Me? At 40 years old, I think I can safely say I have arrived in the middle.

A couple of days ago, I was driving around running errands and listening to Q on CBC Radio. Tom Powers was interviewing Rob Thomas from Matchbox 20, and they were chatting about that song Smooth that he did with Carlos Santana in the late 90s. Remember that one? If you don’t, you clearly lived under a rock because it was everywhere. Listening to it, I was immediately transported back to being 20 years old and dancing with my then boyfriend at bars and parties surrounded by friends and having loads of fun. (Back in those days, the partying still WAS fun until I took a real nose-dive later on and eventually got sober at 27.)

The song has really stuck with me over the last couple of days, mostly because it’s so damn catchy but also because it represents a moment in time that will never relive itself. I will never be in my twenties again. I mean, this isn’t news but it also kind of IS news…

It sort feels like we just go along in life and do our best, right? Choosing left or right turns, buying a home, making career changes, having babies (or not having babies), and all the rest of it. And then BOOM, you realize it’s been 20 years since you were 20! When it really only feels like it’s been about five.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t want to relive my twenties. They were hard and I struggled a lot. As mentioned, I wound up making transformative changes that would redirect my life and steer me in a better direction. But in the earlier part of that decade, before it got tough, there was such a sense of carefree living and fun to be had. Old enough to live on my own, travel and be adult-ish but young enough to also still be kind of a kid. This was especially true for me because I reeeally took my time before eventually deciding to grow up.

I actually met my husband at right around age 20. Obviously, I didn’t know that we would wind up together (we didn’t start dating until five or six years later) but sitting here today with the perspective of having lived through it, it’s so interesting to me that that 20-year old Alison had NO IDEA that she met her future husband on that night. Funny how life works. Twenty-year old me had no clue that 40-year old me would marry that guy and even have a couple of kids together.

My mom, who is in her 70s, tells me that her 40s is how she pictures herself in her mind’s eye. She tells me that this version of me is the one that will stick with me the longest. The honest-to-goodness, grown-up, 40-something me is who I will think of when I am older and close my eyes to sleep at night. The middle-aged me.

I’ve told the following story to so many friends on so many occasions, but I am going to tell it here, too. A few years ago, while on maternity leave with Miles, I was on my way to the hair salon and stopped in at Starbucks along the way. As I entered the coffee shop, I caught my reflection in the window and was taken slightly aback by what I saw. “There’s a woman firmly situated in her mid- to late-30s,” I thought to myself. At age 37, that was accurate, but I had never seen myself that way before. For so many years, I looked a bit younger than I actually was. I think I handily pull off 27 until I was at least about 34 (okay, maybe 32). Catching my reflection that day was the first time I realized that was no longer the case. I definitely did NOT look 27 anymore. And it felt…strange.

Today, the creases and wrinkles in my face continue to take me by surprise. It seems that at age 40, I’m really starting to look and sometimes feel older than I ever have before (which I am, duh). I notice, sometimes with a touch of resentment, that the deep laughlines around my mouth show my age long before I have a chance to utter it. I privately curse all my years of smoking and sun-bathing as though my twenty-year old skin would remain that way, unchanged, forever. Yes, the creases tell a story of a life well-lived but damnit, they sure do take some getting used to.

Here’s the upshot though, and it’s a good one. I also feel so much more in tune with myself than I ever have before. I really know who I am today and have confidence in my abilities. It’s a confidence that has taken decades to solidify. I’ve got the benefit of time on my side and a track record to look back on to see where my past experiences can help guide my future choices. My heart and my gut lead me today, and with the benefit of having history to look back on, I know that when I trust them they always steer me down the right path.

It’s true, my days of dancing in bars as a 20 year old are done. But isn’t that actually a huge relief? I’d way rather curl up in bed next to my husband at 9:30 pm with a cup of tea and a good book. I know that today because I know who I am, and I know that simple pleasures are what make me feel content. That 20 year old me? She was fun, but she really didn’t know herself very well at all. It makes me wonder what 80 year old me will look back on and think of 40 year old me. And just as I couldn’t have imagined being 40, today I can’t imagine being 80!

How do you feel about getting older? Does it sneak up on you, too? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂

Spring has sprung

I am feeling RENEWED this week! Spring has finally arrived in Winnipeg and along with it a new sense of optimism has opened up in my mind and heart. I recently wrote about feeling a bit like I’ve been floating in limbo. Uneasiness has lingered around me like a fog for the last few months, sometimes light and other times dense, but always more or less present.

I think change presents those foggy feelings. It’s just like when you start a new job and have to learn things all over again. You might be excited for the new job but the transition part always more or less sucks. It takes time to settle into it and find your mojo. I was expecting that I was going to make this huge life change (leaving 9 to 5 to work p/t for our family biz) and have immediate mojo. Insta-mojo, if you will. I was wrong.

The good news is that this week everything shifting and the fog feels lifted. I can see sun beams shining through again and, let me tell you, it’s a relief.

This shift is no accident. Although it coincides with spring’s rather late arrival in Winnipeg, it’s also being escorted in with a new attitude I’ve been fostering. I know from years in a recovery program that when I open myself up to the universe, willingness and openness collide with opportunity and it’s no coincidence.

I’ve learned that it’s important to remember that nothing is permanent. Whether floating on a high of good feelings or struggling with discomfort and restlessness, you can always count on things changing whether you actually want them to or not. And I was getting pretty uncomfortable in recent weeks with that heavy, dense fog that followed me around with only intermittent relief. I started to worry that my discomfort wasn’t going to change.

Turns out, what was actually needed for the sunlight to burst through the fog was an inside job. You know that old saying, nothing changes if nothing changes. It was up to me to open myself up to create some space for opportunity and light to find me.

So, today I have a renewed sense of optimism and hope for a bright, meaningful future where passion collides with opportunity and output.

Happy long weekend!

Habits: the bad, the good and the better

Do you have any bad habits? I do. Several, actually. None that are necessarily harmful or that I worry too much about. I feel I also have good habits and so it all balances outs. I work out and run regularly, and I eat fairly well. So, I’m all good, right?

Almost… but there is one nasty habit that I have to break. Part of me doesn’t really WANT to break it, but I know I NEED to break it.

I spend too much time on my phone.

There, I admitted it. I’m sure it’s probably an addiction (but I prefer to call it a ‘bad habit’). My guess is that I’m not alone with this phone habit, am I? We live in a society of fifteen second videos and perfectly curated Instagram feeds constantly bombarding us with ideas of how we can be better, thinner and more stylish versions of ourselves. And, unfortunately, it’s got me hooked. Part of me figures since we are all basically hooked on our phones, then why should I have to bother changing anything.

The answer is, I think it’s bad for my mental health and stunts potential opportunity for growth. And I don’t want to be stunted.

Moreover, I find myself CONSTANTLY negotiating and putting limits on my kids’ screen-time (I’ve also been known to nag Jason about picking up his phone while we are talking or eating dinner together). In reality, I’m probably the worst for this in my family and (shame on me) if anyone dares to police my phone habit, they’re likely to get a quick snipe back at them! So, I’ve decided it’s time I police myself a little and start building better screen-time habits.

In order to put limits on my bad habit, I know I need to replace it with good habits. With that in mind, I’ve come up with three tactics to put into place to switch the bad to good.

1. Put the phone in a drawer and put on some good tunes.

One of the times of day I am particularly bad for mindless scrolling is after the school/dinner-making hour. Juliette and Miles will usually be playing or watching a show and eating a snack around this time. I tend to enjoy some time chilling out and scrolling my phone before I start to pull supper together in the kitchen. Isn’t that awful?? I could be spending quality time with my kids but instead I’m wasting time on Instagram. I feel a little gross just admitting it!

This time of day organically starts to change as the weather warms up, and we naturally start spending more time playing outside with our neighbours. But until that happens (spring weather can feel free to show up anytime…), we tend to stay indoors more between the hours of 4 and 6 pm. So, rather than stick my nose (and theirs) in a screen, I’m going to put on some music, pull out some puzzles or colouring, and enjoy some time with the kids. Maybe we’ll have a little dance party or handstand contest! I can leave the tunes playing while cooking dinner and maybe even get the kids to help in the kitchen. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that children learn from what they see, not what they’re told. If I want them to have less screen time, I need to set that example. It starts with me!

2. Morning meditation

I doubt that spiritual gurus and wellness coaches have been spreading the word about the benefits of meditation and setting intentions for the day because it’s a BAD idea!

I’ve dabbled with meditation on and off over the years but rarely stayed committed for any length of time. My excuse is always that “mornings are crazy with the kids,” yadda, yadda… But honestly, I spend twenty to thirty minutes upstairs blowdrying my hair, putting on makeup, and looking at my phone every morning. During that half hour, the kids rarely come upstairs. With that in mind, I know I can definitely dedicate five minutes daily to a morning meditation. Five minutes may not seem like much time but it feels like a manageable starting place for a beginner.

In the past, when I’ve played around with meditating, I used the Headspace app on my phone and found it super helpful. My plan is to start using that app again to get me into the habit and to acquire some helpful meditation tools. The narrator, whose voice is so calming and gentle, presents guided meditations of any length you choose. You can also set up the app to send you notifications throughout the day with mindful messages and little bits of wisdom.

3. Read a book

Finally, I am going to start reading BOOKS again, dammit! I used to read every night before bed and now I lay under my covers, comfy and cozy, and I scroll. For far too long, I scroll and peruse images of people I know, and many don’t, doing random things that have nothing to do with me. I waste SO MUCH TIME scrolling! I don’t want to be that person! I want to be the Ali that reads again!

It’s not for lack of reading material that I wind up scrolling. Frankly, I’m just being lazy. I have a stack of books just waiting for me to pick them up. Good books, too! Becoming by Michelle Obama is first up on my list. I started reading it a couple of months ago and set it down after two chapters with the intention of picking it up again the next night… and then, I just didn’t.

On the plus side (and in my defense), I have been reading an excellent novel with Juliette for the last month. Every night we read a few chapters of Wonder. Have you read it? I cry almost every night while reading it to Juliette. Technically it’s children’s literature, but I think it’s a beautiful book for readers of all ages. Highly recommend! They made it into a film with Julia Roberts that we are going to watch when we finish the book. I’ll be sure to have a fresh box of tissue nearby…

My reading goal at one book per month. Maybe I’ll even start a book club here on the blog! Would you join? Leave a comment below and if there’s interest that could be something fun to roll out in the coming months.

There you have it! I am consciously committing to spending less time on my phone and MORE time doing things that are actually good for me. Here’s where the accountability comes in: I am going to report back to you on the blog how I’m doing with my commitment. I promise I’ll be honest! I plan to write quick weekly updates on my progress and, thanks to that awful little iPhone feature that reports your screen-time, I’ll have actual measurables to tell me if I’m succeeding or not.

Wish me luck!

In between

I have found myself in a bit of a funny place lately. I feel confident in my core I am on the path I’m meant to take but the future feels a bit unclear. It’s as if I’m in between where I was and where I’m going.

Being in between can feel exciting because the possibilities are seemingly endless. It can also feel hopeless for those exact same reasons. Even though I have clear deliverables on my plate right now which are to help out at Keener Jerseys (the family biz) and have more time with the kids at home (something I’ve been longing to have for years), I also know that there is more out there for me. My motivation for shifting out of a regular 9 to 5 office gig and into working flexible hours for the company was a desire to explore what a non-traditional work life could mean for me. Can I carve out a path that is my own?

Last week, I heard someone speak on making career choices (and life choices) motivated by what their greatest contribution could be to the cause at hand. Not by what they could gain or achieve, whether in monetary or status terms, but what they could meaningfully contribute. It seems so simple and yet so rare that this is a person’s greatest motivation when decision-making.

Here’s something I haven’t mentioned on the blog yet, I am a member of a 12-step group and have close to 13 years of sobriety. I am grateful everyday for all of it. I bring it up only because it’s relevant to this topic. SO MUCH of what I have learned over these last 12+ years pertains to this exact topic: what can I contribute rather than what can I gain. How can I be of service?

You see, this thought process is not second nature to me. I have to work at it. My nature is to jump to the “what’s in it for me?” Instead of “how can I help?” Embarassing but true.

Reflecting on this over these last few days has reframed my thoughts and feelings on carving out my path. I have been focusing so much on what I can GET that will bring me happiness and fulfillment rather than what can I GIVE. Not intentionally, this is just the way my brain was unpacking potential opportunities.

When I focus on what my contribution can be rather than what I will receive because of it, it almost feels like a release from pressure. Like today, right now, my greatest contributions are helping the business in whatever capacity I can, whether that be writing, editing, social media or administration duties. When I make a contribution that has a positive impact at Keener Jerseys, I feel good. Really good, actually. And truth be told, there are ‘other duties as assigned’ that have popped up over the last few months that I’m not crazy about doing. Someone has to do them though, so why not me? I’m filling a void and making a meaningful contribution that’s resulting in getting shit done. That right there is a reason to be grateful.

Aside from Keener Jerseys, my MOST important contribution is holding down the fort at home and being present for our kids. Let’s be real, Jason works long, hard hours and is often up and out the door before anyone is awake and there are many late nights, too. It’s tough and frustrating sometimes but it’s the season of life we’re in. My newfound flexibility allows me to drop the kids at school and pick them up at 3:30. It allows me to volunteer on field trips and be home for sick days. It’s kind of invisible work that has no monetary gains and just goes as unnoticed for most of the world but it has significant value for our family.

Both of those ‘jobs’ are important, however I also know that this is not where it ends for me. I trust that more will be revealed and that I am on a path of discovery. It’s kind of like, I know there’s something coming up around the bend, I just don’t quite know WHAT yet. (Either that, or I’m just having a midlife crisis. As I said, more will be revealed.. ;)

I spent the better part of my 20s partying and having fun (until it stopped being fun) and then quit that lifestyle at age 27. I spent the next few years focusing on recovery and getting healthy. At age 30, I went back to school and spent the rest of the decade checking all the boxes I wanted to check. Education, husband, kids, career. And I managed to get all the boxes checked – which is awesome, and I’m so grateful for all my blessings… (do you feel a ‘but’ coming?)

Here’s the thing, because I wasted so much time in my 20s, then felt the urgency to get shit done in my 30s, I never really paused to consider what my passion might be. I felt the need to catch up to my peers and become a ‘grown-up,’ so I didn’t really ever stop to consider where my heart would lead me if I let it. I just had to hurry up and getter done. Once all boxes were checked, I was left with a feeling of ‘what now?

That brings us to today…

As I continue to navigate my path and uncover opportunities, I will keep my focus on what I can CONTRIBUTE rather than what I will receive. Being involved in something that fires me up is still of utmost importance but my motivation is just as (if not more) important.

How did you discover your life’s passion and work? Did you know from a young age where you wanted to land or are you a late bloomer, like me? I’d love to hear.

You are stronger than you think you are

Over the course of the last few years, I have taken up running (if you know me at all or follow me on social media, this is not news). For many years prior to becoming a runner, I found a fitness routine through walking and practicing yoga (although I was never a totally committed yogi, I did have spurts of commitment along the way). Generally, I enjoyed lacing up my runners and going for a brisk walk down Wellington Crescent. I also consistently used walking as my mode of transportation to/from work, school, etc.

I always WANTED to be a runner but running was just so frigging hard. I never really knew how to start and whenever I did start, I wound up hating it. So I stuck to walking (which is fantastic exercise in its own right!). Then in 2013, when Juliette was nearing the age of two, a few of my girlfriends took up running and were killing it at some local races. They all had young kids at home, just as I did (do) and here they were making time for themselves and their health by lacing up and hitting the pavement. I felt so inspired! And I wanted to get in on the action, too. So that fall, along with some of those gal pals, I signed up for a 10K at the WFPS Run.

All us girls cheered each other on during training and kept each other motivated along the way with upbeat text messages and kudos. It was so fun! When I finished that 10k run, I felt so proud of myself. I also felt motivated to keep moving. The following year, I ran the WFPS 10k again while I was about ten weeks pregnant. That following May, I had Miles and running took a backseat.

Okay, fast forward to 2016. After some on and off spurts of running, Jason and I relayed the Winnipeg Police Half Marathon in May and then, after some strong encouragement from a dear friend, I registered for my first half at the Manitoba Marathon.

Real talk: I was undertrained. It was a hot/muggy day. I felt awful. It took me two hours and thirty one minutes to run it… but I finished! And as soon as it was over I knew I wanted to do it again. That’s what a race finish line will do to you!

Since then, I have run three more half marathons each with increasingly faster finishing times. Last year I finished the season with a 2:04:43 at the WFPS Half Marathon just three weeks after running Seawheeze, the lululemon half, in Vancouver. I would say that 2018 is the year I felt I became a bonafide runner. It’s the year I actually started enjoying running and began to feel strong out there while pounding pavement.

My mantra became, “you’re stronger than you think you are.” I would repeat that line in my head over and over during long-run training days, speed workouts, and especially on race day.

Through my relationship with running, I’ve learned I really AM stronger than I think I am, both mentally and physically. I was never and “athletic” kid growing up and therefore never felt comfortable in the realm of sport. It intimidated me, and I felt out of place. Truthfully, I’ve always felt a little out of place in a lot of places…

What running has given me is a new sense of confidence that previously wasn’t there. The fact that I can lace up my shoes and run ten miles on a Sunday, as I did this weekend, is so gratifying to me. My body can push through fatigue and discomfort and become stronger for it. My mind helps to keep pushing me along which helps me build my mental strength and resilience.

I am stronger than I think I am.

The voice that tells me it’s too hard or too fast or that I can’t do it is slowly but surely being silenced by the voice that tells me, “You are stronger than you think you are. You are strong.”

And I believe her.