1200 Days to a 17 Year Delayed Epiphany
Share your story. Tell it. Simple statements reverberated in quick succession just after I completed my 1200th day of consecutive running. After a streak of such magnitude, most would consider there might be nothing left to discover about self, inner thoughts, reflections, speculating that there must only the hamster wheel, routine thinking remaining. However, my run today was far from mundane and every bit meant to land on this milestone of a day. I didn't even need to Google "Significance of 1200", however, I am also not surprised that after I did, there were sites referencing messages about balance, adaptability, and allusion to the message that it is time to open to new ideas and purpose.
Framing up the message a bit, my morning routine switched up, and although I am known for seeking joy, today I began a devotional prior to running. It's message was all about seeking joy. Today, I was given a rare glimpse into my past, which let me open myself to embracing a more accurate rendition of my life from the past 17 years. It's been building. I have written about the influences in my life that led me to my calling as an educator. However, until today, I hadn't realized how closed off I had been about the way I had begun to change through that period. In essence, after the tragedy of a major loss of a loved one to suicide, I began to stem the valve of emotional and spiritual maturity. Don't get me wrong, the power that event had on me and the subsequent years of service have not been without passion or lessons learned. It's just that they were all done without a consistent and powerful passion and purpose only found in being my true self. The muting did not happen over night. It was gradual and happened in such tiny increments, that I didn't even realize it had happened until a recent period of restoration I have referenced lately and especially until today. The messages I opened myself to receive today are special and certainly not explainable in a short blog post. However, they are meant to be shared, so here are the joys I sought as hidden treasure. Maybe one or two will resonate for you.
Own Your Part Instead of Placing Blame:
How easy is it for us as human beings to point a finger in the any direction that leads away from ourselves when something goes wrong? We learn from an early age to look around when we fall to note people's reaction, and anyone whose ever had a sibling has uttered, "it wasn't me." In reality, we always own a tiny sliver at least of whatever conflict or issue we face. In leadership and life, it is so easy to see where others own their part, but how often do we turn the mirror on ourselves? Recently, I have received feedback from my supervisor for the first time as an administrator. Not a letter of recommendation or a narrative about what I am doing well. Real feedback from an observed faculty meeting. It is so empowering to listen and reflect from an outside perspective. Somehow, all it takes is the question to prompt. I am interested in owning my pieces and adjusting to better leadership.
All else will fall away. It's you and I.
What are we clinging to in life that might have the potential to crush us if we lost it? As a leader and professional, do I find myself tethered to anything that I might lose? If so, can I function without it? After all, we are all human, prone to faults and mortality. If I rely on anything in life that could be gone tomorrow, how can I seek joy if it no longer exists? My heart is reflecting upon balance all the time. However, we are a combination of the many titles we wear, and it is challenge to consider losing any one of them. It is important to sit in that for a bit and consider our ability to adjust if we lose any of those titles. Wife. Mother. Principal. They are titles. Some more dear than others. For me, the answer lies in my spirituality and that connection is what I am choosing to feed in this season.
Remove habits that bind.
My healthy habit of running is not something I intend to give up. While people have often asked how I keep it up and even speculate that it is an obsession, it is the opposite. Running keeps me centered. Staves off stress. Releases endorphins. Feeds my body and spirit. It is a healthy daily habit. One that is not so healthy is the wine habit that I picked up within the past few years. It started with a glass a few nights a week. If I am being honest, the glass was large, so the serving size was skewed. Over months, I have reflected about this habit and had real self talks and even accountability conversations with trusted peers and family about whether or not this wine habit was something I could release. In August, I went on a trip with my sister and niece and experienced a release of desire to continue the habit. It has been two months, and I have not had wine. However, it was replaced with a chocolate martini every now and then. Which then gave way to a cosmopolitan every now and then. I grew up with a period of witnessing the underbelly of addiction. I watch families torn apart from it. I believe the addiction coupled with mental health challenges contributed to my two losses due to suicide completions. This morning, I dumped any alcohol bottle in my home. I will keep this running habit as long as my body will allow. The others will be harder to kick, but putting it out there is easier to hold myself accountable. Addictions don't need to be vices so easily identified. Habits such as social media obsession, phone time, and gaming are just as deadly in binding us. It's healthy to be aware and test for reliance. I do not want anything to bind me that I don't choose.
Don't Reach Out. Don't Open the Door.
Sometimes its ok to allow people out of our lives. Sometimes their departure can be painful, and other times a blessing. However, it is important to allow them and the lessons to stay in the past. This morning, I had a gut reaction to reach out to a person from 17 years ago after my loss. However, the message that came through clearly was not to reach out and open that door. We all experience a nostalgia for what might have been, or levels of guilt for how resolutions could come about better. However, going back into past situations is not always the answer. Reflect on it. Sit in it. Learn from the review of the reel. We don't need to seek out old friends or hurts on Facebook and invite more distraction. Let the past lie there while we gain from distance and perspective.
Plug into People
This was my main direction today, and I did it with gusto. There was not one free five minute period to myself today, and I am grateful. Some of my favorite principal friends live by this mantra of being with people and removing office time. My experience today just being present with my people from all stakeholder groups was filling, needed, and paid dividends that I may never see. However, the time spent was meant to be, and there were constant moments in this tornado of a day that stand out as I type that would not have been experienced if I had not opened myself to plug in only to people.
See the parallels. See them.
One of my staff members coins this statement when working with students who are in need of alternative options. "Can you recognize the pile as the poo that it is so that you do not step in it again?" This tongue-in-cheek phrasing always lifts the mood and frankly makes me laugh. What a truth! We can easily fall prey to patterns or people that are parallel story lines in the chapters of our lives. Today, I was reminded in bold fashion to recognize patterns and be open to knowing ways to avoid stepping in the same messes over and over again.
My typical mode of updating on my runstreak has been to swag a beautiful photo from my morning run and slab on some type of inspirational message. That would have been easier. However, I knew that I needed to get another blog post going. It's been over a month, and my commitments are not being honored in that realm. A simple 1200 with hashtag would not have sufficed to inspire the level of spiritual connectedness I experienced on my dark, powerful run. If you have stuck with me this long in this blog, know that there is a message waiting for you if you are willing to persist, seek the joy as treasure, and open your heart and mind to the messages waiting for you. Even if it takes 1200 days, or 17 years for the epiphany to hit. Believe me. It's worth it.