Anne Abbott works part-time for Team AMR, is a mother runner of three school-age daughters, and lives near Bend, Oregon. You can read her previous posts (including her amazing 5K transformation) here.
This is my third blogpost for Another Mother Runner. I have previously shared bits and pieces of my Life on the Run – first, the “highs” of celebrating a 5 year runniversary; then, the “lows” of a plaguing illness. What you have not heard yet is the story of “in-between.” This post is where I share the long, lonely miles of my exodus.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself heading out on a Sunday afternoon run – not because it was part of my training schedule, but because there was no better way to mark a very important milestone in my life. I downloaded the map of a new trail I was going to explore, packed my hydration pack with two necessities: water and my journal, and I set out to make my last long run at the impossible mountain – and to write one of the final entries in the journal of my final Year on the Run. I've spent two of them working through the emotions of major life change.
These are the entries I penned with ink and blood, on pages that are blotched with the sweat and tears, to mark a journey of a thousand trails.
Two years ago, in August of 2014, I ran two back-to-back relays across the state of Oregon – mile by mile, up steep hills and down shaded valleys, in the company of other beautiful ladies and alone with just the pounding of my own heart, I cried wells of salty tears and then found quiet in my soul. Because just as I had run from mountain top to the end of the sea's shore, I had hit the end of my marriage.
And then came September... when I stood at the horizon of my own life, my arms thrown wide open, my dreams just as faint as the breeze, my voice still an echo in the expanse, STRONG now, and BRAVE... when I said "Yes."
In October, I dove into an ocean of change. I knew that the voices in the wind were calling for me to go, that my heart was tugging me forward, and that the tide had come in to carry me out to sea. I embarked on a weekend trip that would close the door on a life I had silently survived and simultaneously shatter the walls of my glass house - opening my eyes to the expanse of passionate possibilities.
In November, I decided to stand up amidst the rubble and step out, walking bravely into the sun. There were days when all I could offer was a quiet resolve to continue standing. Some days I took long strides, others I simply crawled. Too often, one day's step forward was the next day's three steps backward
In December, with only $250 in the bank, I moved myself and my three Little Lovelies into a new life of our own... Since then, I have climbed steep mountain trails and tumbled into deep dark valleys; I have forced my way out of fog-shrouded forests and determinedly followed my heart's flame through the darkest of nights. I have been torn to shreds and have been worn thin; my strength has grown weary and my courage has threatened to fail me. But as my run journey has taught me, I have continued to put one foot in front of the other, knowing that forward is the only way through...
In January 2015, I began to hang on to visions of blue skies, sunshine, and boundless happiness - for dear life. I knew that first I'd be tested and I'd have to stand - steady, straight, and strong. I knew I'd have to show up, facing my biggest fears, and use my voice to fight for my life, my worth, my freedom. I knew there'd be a chance I'd fail, that even my best might not be enough. But I showed up; I stood steady, straight, and strong.
As life would have it, even though the tide would bring in a victory - just enough to boost the spirits, immediately following there would come the low tide of reality... and I would begin trudging thru the messy, muddy sand again.
Fast-forward to May of 2016... I thought for I’d be flying down the last .1 mile and soaring over the FINISH line. And, in my naïveté, and because I really *do* deserve it, I guess I expected to find a glittering yellow brick road welcoming me to the START of my new life. Instead, there was another important lesson for me to learn and another test of my faith to pass... Because in running down this last .1 mile, I had to conquer the rocky trail, cross over the sinking sands, and hit dry pavement with a spring in my step because sweet winds of change propelled me forward – to follow my arrow, keep my heart open, and let LOVE win. Because around this last bend my FINISH line is up ahead... *and more importantly now,* my freedom IS the rainbow trail I'm already blazing, one sweaty smile and one grateful mile at a time.
Just this month, in August 2016, I found myself at the top of another steep climb. I had run, alone, for a very long while. I thought I’d come to the end of the dusty road and would see my little red car not far up ahead. Instead, I found myself staring down at another long, windy trail. But!... There in sight was the great expanse – an ocean of freedom. The only way to it was through it. So I tightened my laces, headed back down into the valley, and ran the five lonely miles left.
Over the course of the two past years, I have come to know that "Yes"... It was worth it.
It was worth every dark sky because the sun still rises up to meet me and there is hope every morning. It was worth facing the mirror of all my fears because there are now hallways full of open window. It was worth every sizable loss because the walls of my little cottage now shake with laughter. It was worth every tear cried over the vacancy of so many friendships because the seats at my life's table are now filled with the truest of them all. It has, since, been a year of absolute lows and astounding highs.
As I sit here and contemplate the last two year's journey... I will honestly admit that I am exhausted; my shoes are well worn from running a rocky uphill trail and my fingers are calloused from hanging on to the all-too-often splintered threads of hope; I am speechless when looking glaringly at the terrible twists and turns of this process; I am humbled by the progress I have made and proud of myself for maintaining even glimpses of grace in the midst; I am inspired by my own strength and I am hopeful, too.
And yet, if we are being honest with each other… I also feel broken. Like maybe it’s time to just let go of keeping it all together. Like maybe it’s time to just let myself “be”...
to the rest of the journey;
to the changes beckoning me on;
to the life I see at the horizon;
to more hope;
to more joy;
to more love.
After all, tomorrow is another day and there will always be another trail to run. I hope that the next two years will find me running up new mountains – this time, though, in good company!