In the midst of all of this I had a new baby. For anyone who has had a baby, you know that in this process you are kind of giving up your body for a time. Sacrificing it to grow the baby, birth the baby, feed the baby, stay up with the baby . . . there is just a period surrounding having a baby, at least for me, during which I hardly feel that my body is mine at all.
Shortly after announcing our move, our Bishop released me from my calling as YW President. I was extremely grateful. With so much else to think about because of the move in addition to having the new baby, I would not have been able to be the leader the YW needed at that time. But this had been such a huge part of my life the past 3 years, that with the release I felt another piece of me was taken away.
One thing that has always kept me grounded during the whirlwinds of life is running. I can control it - wake up to my alarm, put on my shoes, and go. The time to either run alone, or with a close friend, for miles on end, has brought me sanity over the years. I can talk through challenges, or laugh about the craziness of motherhood, or listen to General Conference talks, or just think. But at the end of 5 or 10 or more miles I feel strong and proud and ready to take on life. Running, particularly the last many years, has been my happy place. My sanctuary.
Unfortunately I sustained a minor knee injury during my pregnancy when I pushed myself too hard the last mile of a half marathon. Pregnant and postpartum there was not much the doctors could do since ligaments looser during these periods. I tried to get back to running a bit, but usually ended up discouraged because of pain. Instead of running feeling like a sanctuary, it brought me frustration and hopelessness. It was impossible to believe I was the same person who had nearly qualified for the Boston Marathon only a year earlier. I did some other activities like Crossfit and walking to try to stay active, but none filled the void of running.
On a slow walk with my running buddy, I lamented that I felt like I didn't have any of myself left - I wasn't volunteering in the kids schools because of the pending move, I didn't have a calling, my body was a mess from having a baby, and I couldn't even run.
Of course Matt jumped right into running when we got to London. He quickly found weekly park runs, city trails, and even a running buddy to go exploring with on Saturdays. I was hesitant and afraid. And tired from adjusting to everything else. So I just didn't go. I didn't do anything for an entire month. Nothing.
Finally a couple Saturdays ago I found my running shoes calling. Matt hadn't pushed me to start. Nobody had asked about it. I just knew it was time. Matt watched the kids in the morning and I went. I alternated running and walking and tried to listen to my body and see what it could do. The weather was sort of nasty. And I was hard on myself because of how insanely slow I was. I was glad I had gone, but still felt a bit defeated.
But the next Saturday I wanted to go again. And I knew if I didn't try again and again I'd never get where I wanted to be. This time I didn't go with any expectations of speed or distance - just to enjoy the morning and the time alone. 1 minute walk, 1 minute jog. 1 minute walk, 2 minute jog. I explored the woods near our house. I enjoyed park trails I hadn't been on. I soaked up the views of our new city. I listened to some relaxing tunes. I thought about all we'd accomplished these past weeks of living here. 1 minute walk, 1 minute jog. 1 minute walk, 2 minute jog. This time I focused on what was going right, instead of what I was lacking. I noticed the flowers. I noticed my breath. I noticed my knee, though still in slight pain, felt stronger from all the walking I'd been doing. I noticed the cafes just opening up. I noticed my heart rate, a bit faster than it had been in a while. And I noticed the people. The thin middle aged woman plowing strongly up a hill. The man and his preteen son running after him. The older, heavier man who was just focused on one step after the other. The woman with her muddy dogs.
|View from Alexandra Park|
These are my people, I found myself thinking. This is me. The early Saturday morning runners. The get up and get the job done people. Most of them were not particularly fast or super intense. But they were up enjoying the morning, moving their bodies, finding themselves, getting outside on the trails, breathing hard and sweating, soaking up the views. And somehow as I found my people on this Saturday morning, I found a bit of myself again. Tomorrow is not Saturday, but I think I will lace up my shoes again.