Monday, May 16, 2011

"It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone..."

One day a few weeks ago, while I ran on the treadmill, as I listened to deeply inspiring music and felt really happy to be running, I was struck by an idea. An idea that I thought was a prompting, but an idea that I put off expressing. I'm not sure why. But it keeps coming back to me, and I realize that if I don't express it, it'll keep knocking around in my mind until I'm thoroughly beat-up, inside-out.

I was visualizing the marathon. The end, specifically. I benefit greatly from visualizing, and I have an emotional response when I do. So here I am, running, near-tears with the joy of what I am imagining (finishing!), and it hits me: I need to share this joy.

Not just by writing about it.
Not just by telling people about it.

But by inviting you--yes, YOU--to do it, too.

I promise it is worth it.
I promise it is beneficial in countless ways.
I promise that the very process of training will change your life, and awaken you to your potential. Not just your physical potential, but your emotional and mental capacity to do incredible things. It is the perfect metaphor for life, proving that when we make smaller steps in the right direction, day after day, we are actually gradually creating something beautiful that we will see after all the hard work is done.

This morning, out of the blue, I imagined myself and Jenn finishing the marathon this year. Then I skipped ahead to 2012, and there was another person running with us. Then 2013, and there was yet another. And the idea had finally completed itself in my mind:

I want what I'm doing--and what thousands more will do in October here in Saint George--to be contagious.
Here's what I hear you say:
Oh, you're so good. I could never do that.
Maybe if I was in better shape, I could do that.
Maybe in a few years.
I secretly wish I could do that.

I'm telling you, I'm not doing anything you can't do if you want to! I started from ground zero, physically speaking, and I'm starting from ground zero again this year (blast consistency! It is my Achilles Heel!).

If you don't want to do a marathon, maybe it's something else you're afraid of. Something else you want to do, but feel you aren't able to do.
You are able. 

Maybe you feel you don't deserve it. Maybe you feel unable to reconcile yourself with the kind of person who would do that--whatever "that" may be. But the truth is, you are the kind of person who would do that. The kind of person who would conquer fear and do what frightens you the most, or what seems the most difficult.

I have your back. I'm cheering you on every step of the way. I know we forget what we're capable of. That's why I'm running again this year. To remember how it felt to do what looked impossible.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-Marianne Williamson

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Women of Recklessness and Kids of Iron

Back in January, I promised my dear friend Jenn that I would run the marathon this year if she would. At the time, I didn’t expect her to say yes—it was a rather reckless phrase that just tumbled out of my mouth with no preamble. It was strange. I didn’t even think it first, just—POP!—out it went, into the atmosphere, never to be retracted.

But as quickly as I said it, she replied even quicker, “YES-I’LL-DO-IT.” And then covered her mouth with a gasp, terrified at the words.

I checked the lottery results today, and it looks like I’ll need to follow through—we made it in!

This will be my second and Jenn’s first. I’m both comforted and terrified by the fact that I’ve done it before. Terrified because I know what to expect, and comforted because I know what to expect. :) Terrified because I will need to fly back to Utah to make good on my promise, and comforted because I will have a friend with me when I do it. Terrified to train during such a crazy-busy summer, then in low-elevation Texas, and run a marathon in high-elevation Utah. Comforted to have something to keep my mind healthy in the midst of the relocation.

On Saturday, St. George had the Ironman. It was (like last year) incredible to watch the bikers go past only about a quarter-mile from our house. The kids and I went to go watch, and just like last year, I was choked up and teary-eyed the whole time, alternately taking photos and saying things like, “Oh my goodness, oh, be still my heart” and so on. :) It is so moving to me to see firsthand the determination and persistence these people possess, and the abject exhaustion they experience. In my less-sane moments I think things like, “I want to do that one day” or “I should really learn to swim and bike better” or “what if I did that next year”…..anyway.

This year, the boys wanted to do the Ironman Kids Fun Run, which takes place the night before the actual Ironman. They were lucky to run with Jadyn and Kai, the older two kids of my Sarah. :) Reed did the 1-mile, and Jaxon did the 200m dash. I will openly admit to crying when they both finished. It was epic to me. I’m happy for them to glean joy from running, whether it’s something they’ll continue or not. I’m happy that they felt a sense of accomplishment and did something new and potentially frightening.
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Ironman182 Ironman183 Ironman228 Ironman229 Ironman230 Ironman234 Ironman244

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Texas-Sized Summer: Part 2

Along with the huge change in location this summer, I have (so happily) implemented some change in my career course.

A habitual prayer of mine is that I will know what God wants me to do with the things He has given me--time, my family, my health, my knowledge, and my talents. I firmly believe that all good things are from God. I don't want to waste or discount what has been given. Even more, I want to discover the things that make me ME. In short, I am getting to know myself better with each one of those prayers. And the better I know myself, the better I serve the people I love.

After the (amazing, life-changing, course-correcting) Breathe Intensive, I felt that with my Mothers project, my increased leaning and beginning towards birth photography, and my renewed motivation, I was exactly where I needed to be.

But I felt like I was missing something. Some piece of the whole picture. Something more.

I prayed and listened. I wrote, I pondered, and I puzzled until my puzzler was sore. What is it? I asked. What am I looking for?

And the answer came after weeks of this process, quietly but with unmistakable impact. It came in the form of a funny, made-up word, doulographer, one for which I wish I had the copyright. (Let's assume I do, considering no one else has nabbed it yet. Hey, nabbers! Don't nab! It's mine!)

Doula + photographer = Doulographer

A doula. I needed to become a doula.

I took this answer and held onto it for a while. I prayed some more, and listened some more. I tried it on for size, visualizing myself attending the births of friends, and then people I don't yet know. I held a newborn or two (haha) and inspected their sweet faces, thinking about the lengths their mothers had gone to in order to bring them here. And then finally, I asked: Should I become a doula?

And it was like the YES was spoken to my soul. I knew it. I knew it and I cried with relief, feeling that at last I had found the missing part of the whole picture.

I will continue with my photography in full-force. This is not a replacement to my photography, but a supplement. And while I don't think I could do a good job at both at the same time, I am happy to do either.

I'm happy that as a photographer I will have this added credential. I recognize that to ask a mother to allow me to photograph her birth is enormous. For her to say yes is for her to trust me implicitly, to ask me to be present during one of the most sacred moments of her life. I want to have something concrete to my name when I ask for that privilege, something to accompany my photos.

I have ordered and received my application packet, and from April 18th, I have two years to complete all the steps necessary to certification. I am reading the first book on the reading list, and communicating enthusiastically with one of my doula-friends through email. I feel so decided with this. I don't really see the end-product of all of this, or where I'm ultimately going. I don't care. All I know is that this is where I am supposed to be. Here, now, doing what I'm doing, which is something immeasurably comforting.

It's like coming home, making this choice and moving in this direction. A couple of days ago on the phone, my mom told me that I have a few ancestors who were photographers, and (at least) one who was a midwife. It makes my heart soar to think that perhaps I'm just doing what is only natural to me....I always wanted to say, "It's what I's in my blood." :D

I do have a long way to go. But I can't wait.

The Texas-Sized Summer: Part 1

I apologize for the long pause. I'm not in denial anymore, but I'm still, on occasion, kicking and screaming. Bear with me!

This morning dawns rainy, cool, and gray--much like the first night we arrived in St. George, May 24th, 2008. There was the sweet smell of desert rain, which Phill had tried to describe to me numerous times. It's so appropriate that things come full-circle like this, in this, the month we first arrived. In July, we will watch movers pack all our belongings, many of the signs of our comfortable existence here, and wave as they take them to Grand Prairie, Texas, our future home. For the second half of July, we will travel around Utah, saying our see-you-laters and trying our best to cram in as much family/friend time as possible.

I am resigned to this fact. I know there's nothing to be done, as we've tried every avenue we know. It is simply what is to be. And since I can do nothing to change it, I am trying--so hard--to embrace it.

This month, we'll have Phill's mom, her husband, Phill's sister and kids, and Phill's brother visiting. We will enjoy St. George, try to stay cool in the heat, make the most of our time together, and celebrate Savanna's 4th birthday.

In June, I will teach the Scouts the basics of photography, try and be on time to my dear friend's birth, and enjoy a girl's night out in Cedar City with a sweet friend I've had since Reed was two years old. 

We will make the best of our July, doing our traditional fireworks in the street on the Fourth (the burning of the toy truck is a must), spending time with friends, and then in the later half, enjoying our time with family up north, with my heart happy that I will get to see my sweet sister give birth to her second child. 

We bought a large, laminated map of the U.S. that we will bring with us when we drive (around August 1st) from Utah to Texas. Along the way, we'll make a few stops at historic places (suggestions welcome), noting where we are on the map for the kids' sake. We'd like them to see how much ground we're covering. We'll also be putting pins in the map (once we're in a home) and showing them where all our loved ones are in relation to us. I will also welcome suggestions regarding traveling in a van with two cats, as it's been a long time since I've done so.

But even with all these preparations, these plans, even with all the wonderful encouragement from friends--and one who even lives in Denton, not far from where we'll be!--too often I find myself steeped in the bitter side of bittersweet. Sundays are particularly hard. We are surrounded by good people, people who love us and give us the best that friendship has to offer. Every hug, every smile, every bit of laughter and good conversation, is as painful as it is precious. Because I come home each Sunday and wonder how long it will take us to make these kinds of friendships in Texas. I feel the fear of such a big change; I wonder how my children will cope (they will cope well, but how?), and I wonder if I'm doing all I can to make this as seamless as possible. I cry almost as often as I whisper prayers of gratitude for the good people in our lives.

And then, because the ugly alternative I see is to become a mute and angry recluse, I choose to pick myself up and keep going. Keep doing the things that will help. Keep reading those emails from Heidi in Denton. Keep researching, planning, and preparing. Keep praying. Keep hoping. Keep remembering that our lives are in God's hands, and He won't leave us stranded in our sorrow.

Much as I am afraid, I know we have everything to look forward to. This will be different, that much is sure. But I am certain that God gives us no more than we can handle, and even more, gives us the things we need most. The things that will bring us closer to Him, and in turn, bring us the most joy.

I know that I have the strength to not only make the best of this, but to feel joy and excitement about what is to come. I want to meet this Texas-sized change with Texas-sized bravery. And I'm hopeful that what will follow is some proportionally-large happiness.