by Tori Christie

There are days when I need to give myself a little pep talk, a nudge to recalibrate, to ward off cynicism, skepticism, and pessimism, and today is one of those days. My list of tasks is now more than two pages in length. While the rate of expansion has accelerated, the rate at which the tasks are getting accomplished is, using a popular running phrase, is about as slow as a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter. As a result, I am feeling a little overwhelmed. I give myself a little latitude, or what has become a widely and appropriately used phrase recently – giving myself (and others) some grace – seeing as I am not immune to the fatigue and stress-induced by a pandemic and the transition back to normal, whatever that is. And my non-paying part-time job (a.k.a. my training schedule) also creates a bit of stress for me.

It’s difficult, at times, not to attempt to ameliorate these dreadful feelings by telling myself that my situation, my life, could be way more stressful than it is. I know things could be worse. But, and this is the voice I usually hear, things could be better, too. And the thing is, I am responsible for making most of them better. Or, at the very least, making my response to them better.

I lead a small group of female runners in town. I send a weekly email to share what is on my mind and to coordinate weekend running plans. The group of women is undoubtedly a vital part of my running world. The twenty women are also vital to my life. I gain much-needed perspective when I think of the many challenges, so many of them face daily, with work and school and children and spouses and parents and pets – so many real, and often self-imposed, and frequently competing, obligations and responsibilities – and, yet, so many of them remain positive and productive. They prioritize effectively. They respond appropriately. They juggle so much, and they do it with a can-do attitude. They all drop the ball here and there; we all do. That is certainly acceptable. What’s important is that they demonstrate incredible fortitude by keeping so many other balls in the air…while riding a unicycle…on a tightrope. See, that perspective is important. And impressive. When I stop and think about it, my running buddies, the women in my running group, often help get me through these periods of stress and negativity. They don’t necessarily do it by communicating directly with me. Instead, it is the example they set. They are incredible, strong, courageous women. I am grateful for each of them and the example they provide, the inspiration really, through struggling and overcoming, through persevering and succeeding, through pushing and thriving. What a great source of inspiration and motivation they are. I am so grateful to have them in my life, to have them beside me for so many figurative and literal miles.

On a side note, as I was finishing up the preceding paragraph, my doorbell rang. The FedEx guy left me a package, and as I picked it up, I noticed the message on the side: “Do one thing each day that scares you.” (Those folks at Lululemon utilize every opportunity to share motivational dictums, don’t they?) My initial thought was, can’t I have one day where something doesn’t scare me? Then, true to form, I reflected on the phrase a bit more. I know the thought behind it is to do something that challenges yourself to achieve personal growth, but I found the need to Google the phrase as a means of deepening my understanding and broadening my knowledge. I learned it is a quote mistakenly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. While she didn’t say those words exactly, she did proffer some fantastic advice like that, although she did so in a manner that some would argue is much more eloquent. She said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You can say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line, it will take away your confidence. It would be best if you made yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Thanks, Eleanor. I am quite confident that Eleanor would be a steadfast member of my running group if she were alive today.

When I get like this, I say I need to run. It is how I cope. But I also say I need to run when I feel joyful, as that is how I celebrate. I pretty much need to run all the time. Luckily, I am afforded that opportunity. See, there it is – positivity and redemption. Yeah! I don’t know about any of you, but I also cope by becoming hyper-organized. I create lists, lots and lots of lists, and I plan. I create schedules. So, it is only appropriate that I am working rather fastidiously on running plans, among many other plans, for the next several days. So, now I need to coordinate with my running group. I need to ascertain their running plans. I will make inquiries, and I will anxiously await their responses. After all, I have a schedule to create. And items to check off my list.

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