The Ball Pit…

I wake to hear rain drops puttering outside…
boooo…rain rain go away…why do you hate me world??
I hear her floppy years shake..
she’s ready…
I guess I’m ready too.
Although I could get used to this sleeping in …

But when I walk outside it is a GLORIOUS morning as the fog and mist lift….it wasn’t rain but the melting snow that was puttering …Maybe it WILL be a sunny day after all.
I can’t WAIT to romp around in the trails o’ Umstead.
As I embark on my journey I completely forget about the morning commuters…i guess its not EVERYBODY’s birthday today.

I get to the park and the parking lot is STILL a sheet of ice…hadn’t considered this. Wonder how the trails will be?
I very carefully and meticulously “heel-toe” my way towards the trails.
I see two runners running right towards me as I begin my jaunt..why are they running right at me..?
“They’re trashed” she says…”The trails are a mess…ice, slush..mud”
Her runner buddy nods in concurrence….
“Even the bridal trails?” I ask
“Yea” replies runner buddy. “That’s where we were headed but we turned around…”
“Ok” I reply..” I’ll check it out…thanks!”

I press on ‘cuz that’s what I do…

I’m stubborn, i’m pig-headed, I rarely head warnings or listen to rules or advice.  I’m finally proud to admit that I’m an adventure junkie who CRAVES daily adrenaline “hits” …and this junkie is CRAVING adventure particularly on this 39th year o’ life.
The trails are…indeed…TRASHED.

Much more ice than I had anticipated.YAK TRAKs…in the car…would have been helpful, but don’t feel like turning around now.

There are some “bare” spots along the sides and the occasional “dry patch” but I press on the down the hill and promise myself I will NOT SLIP.  If its possible for a long down hill to actually feel like an uphill, well ..it did!

I run…I tip toe..I slosh…I crush leaves and greenery under the frozen snow as I weave down the trail through the side trenches and back up on the trail through the “safe” patches.

I approach bridges which actually have the perfect layer of powder to allow me to safely traverse their crossing.

I run down cedar creek…the nastiest hill in the park…just because….why the heck not? Its already nasty out here…might as well make the most of the nastiness!

After about three years of descending this atrocity, I  FINALLY get to the bottom, where I know a beautiful creek awaits me.  I arrive …alone..the air is still…the sun glistens off both the water and the snow patched earth that surrounds it.  The water trickles..all is still ..for a moment.

I turn to begin my ascent back UP the atrocity. I seek out patches of gravel and rock to secure my footing.  It is so steep at one point I feel as though i’m running for the very first time in my life..
.
I push myself up the atrocity of a hill that I’ve pushed up countless times in the past while training for the countless adventures I’ve signed myself up for throughout my life.

I mostly train for “life” now …but I still run and train with that urgency …like i’m being chased or maybe I’m chasing something?
What can I still be chasing, haven’t i accomplished enough?

Countless adventure races, marathons, trail runs, marriage, love, incredible friends, amazing family, beautiful NC life, various academic degrees, PA school, a job in rural medicine where i’m reminded how simple life really can be…if I would let it.

I continue to slosh around the trails and watch as the sun peaks through the trails and mist lifts off the water.
I am a DAMN LUCKY GAL to feast my eyes on such visions that mother nature awards us.
And I would be DAMN LUCKY to see even more…if I would FUEL myself more adequately.

I continue to struggle to “fuel” myself every.damn.day. But the “fuel” various on a daily basis…sometimes its adequate caloric intake..sometimes it adequate nature-esque intake…sometimes its adequate artistic output….sometimes its adequate human connection…sometimes its adequate patient care…sometime its adequate care of the loves of my life.

Sometimes i wish I could be content with being INADEQUATE….

But yet…I still run…because it always feels so damn good no matter how horrible it starts out.

And I continue to operate under the notion of “perpetual discontent”. I find an ironic satisfaction in this as I continue to“feed the beast” of constant motion and achievement and realize I may never be completely satisfied with my achievements.

Remember that “ball pit” that we all used to romp around in as kids? Well…that’s where the artist in me is currently “romping”. She is trying to stay afloat, but finds herself being buried under”balls” (tee hee) of chief complaints, history of present illness, medication refills, chronic illness, smoking cessation counseling, depression and anxiety counseling, dizziness and lightheartedness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, coding, billing, and at the end of the day, just trying to make someone laugh or remind someone that they are loved. 

And while the artist struggles to stay afloat, sometimes she goes under……
BUT….every now and again…SHE POPS UP OUTTA NOWHERE and creates something “adequate”. 

I survived today’s romp in the sloshy, icey, muddy trails, despite the warning to turn back.

I’m glad I ignore those warnings.  I can never turn back, I thrive in the face of adversity…that’s when the artist can create the most. 

And while I reflect on these 39 years, I recall a piece I wrote  4 years ago…my personal statement for PA school…the piece that got me into the “ball pit” in the first place. I attach it here if you have a few more min to waste…. 🙂 

And thank you for wasting your precious minutes to read my words…I hope I have inspired or encouraged the way you have most certainly inspired and encouraged me…and have given me a reason to “Pop up” from the ball pit we call LIFE…

AUGUST 2013
I once read a story in Runner’s World magazine about a runner who had completed the grueling Leadville 100 mile run in Colorado, suffering barely a scratch.  A few weeks later while running through his neighborhood, he tripped on a decorative rock, and broke 3 ribs.  Life’s wounds are inevitable, and we are all recovering from something, whether it is from wounds of the day, week or many years ago. 
Two years ago I ran to the top of Mt. Mitchell for the annual 40 mile winter challenge.  I thought that when I reached the summit, I could hurl all of my wounds from the mountaintop.  But when I reached the top, there was nothing I wanted to throw.  Through the many months of arduous training leading up to this point, I had finally realized how valuable these wounds were.  I discovered that wounds are not an anchor, but the catalyst that will help me prevail in the face of adversity.  I realized that scars are a precious reminder of our extraordinary ability to recover. My recovery occurs along the many miles of trails I run or ride, because the more my legs spin, the less my mind does.  I recover every time I step onto my yoga mat, and am reminded of the restorative powers of stillness and breath. 
I am also fortunate to have found someone to join hands with as we navigate the joys and heartache of life.  Our marriage is by no means perfect. We are outnumbered by dogs in the house and weeds in the yard.  We are-over budget, over-tired, and at times, under-appreciative of one another.  We are terribly flawed individuals who make a magnificently flawed pair.  But when one of us trips along the trail, the other is there to lift them off the ground.
In my 34 years of existence, I have come to appreciate the exquisite combination of thrills and tragedies that life has to offer.  Without fully appreciating each in their own right, you cannot fully live.  I believe my experiences will be instrumental as I help others to recover from their wounds.  I may not know what it is to live with chronic illness or suffer from a debilitating disease.  But I know what it is to spend almost a lifetime recovering.  I know what it feels like to be faced with an insurmountable task. I know what it is to be entirely broken down, yet somehow muster an ounce of courage to push through the pain, freezing temperatures or high speed winds, to summit a peak.  And I know how important it is to be patient as you allow yourself to recover one mile, one day, one step at a time.
“Life is what happens as you live with the wounds.  Life is not a matter of getting the wounds out of the way so that you can finally live.  Wounds are never permanently erased.  We are fragile beings, and some days we break all over again.”  Geneen Roth


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