One of the things that running has taught me is that much of the discomfort we feel in life can be transcended. Long distance running is a mental exercise. You must be able to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. Every time you push yourself farther or run a bit faster, you are training not only your body but also your mind. ‘Pain’ is being stabbed into you, ‘discomfort’ is what you feel in those first few miles of a run. You want to stop so badly. You are bored, stressed, compromised, all around, uncomfortable. But aren’t going to keel over! Just keep going! At the end, you look back and are thankful you pushed yourself. Keeping your eye on the prize and focusing on how you feel after those runs eventually make long runs themselves feel like a breeze, almost meditative. You will learn that you are stronger than you ever imagined. I have the ‘perfect’ personality for endurance running because when I set my sights on something I do not deter, no matter what. Good and bad, right? F.
I give myself little rest, set extremely high expectations, and the bar keeps on going up. I push my limits and take everything to the extreme. If you aren’t aware of your limits, then how can you progress?? I have been this way in every ‘project’ I have been engaged in in life. Singing, planning parties/entertaining, dieting, exercising, career building, and now, running. I find myself constantly dissatisfied with my current state. I always feel as though I should sing better, run faster/farther, eat better, make more money, have the perfect/idealistic job, do more for others, look better and more put together, and so on. I am a perfectionist at heart and wherever I am at any given moment in life, it never feels like enough. I am perpetually curious, thinking that the grass can be and always is greener. Come on. We all know that’s not true! I am always looking above and beyond and have difficulty living in the now, accepting and loving what I have mow, this very moment, despite understanding that I know I have so much more than what many others in this world could even dream of. I was told once in college by on of my music teachers that I should look up ‘divine dissatisfaction’. I did and it is what I experience every day. A wonderful and yet potentially self-destructive drive.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it.
It is not your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.
No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.“
I have yet to harness this drive for my own good. Now that I am 30, I still find myself still searching. I don’t really consider myself an ‘artist’ anymore. At one point in my life, I was a singer. I had a true, solid identity that consumed my entire being. And this powerful drive within me, whittled me away to nothing. I self destructed while seeking perfection. In my search, my need to control myself and everything around me, manifested itself in an ugly eating disorder. I don’t talk about it on this blog, and I doubt I will ever get into depth. If you don’t know me, my purpose of bringing this up is that my need for control, my emotional unrest, and a handful of other things that caused me self destruct, took away what I considered to be my ‘identity’.
But was that all that I really was? A singer and only a singer? Why did I hold on so tightly to just one component of my being? I was passionate and lively and embraced wholeheartedly what made me ‘special’, and different from others. I was never able to run a mile, smile without crooked teeth, or wear a bikini… but I could sing. On stage I found myself. I shed all those unwanted things about myself I loathed. I got contacts, braces, changed my diet… but it was never enough. And finally when I couldn’t sing any longer, I felt lost.
Today, though recovered from living the nightmare that is an eating disorder, I still seek a part of me that was lost. I have found much of myself to a great degree in cooking, and running, (and working in the wine business) but I’ve still never felt more alive than when I did on stage. I seek an ideal life that may not even exist. I long for so much that I do not have and I struggle with embracing what I do have. I punish myself with little rest, a very non-spontaneous nature, defensive attitude, and with taking refuge in solitude rather than with friends. What good does eating salads alone do me versus sharing a meal with friends? Why not audition for a show, take a day off from running, or not count calories for a day? The fact is that once you establish certain behaviors, they become a perpetual, psychological habit. You rely on these routines like your life depends on it. You become so single minded that anything that deters you from your plan, from your schedule, is like a poisonous dagger. I have found myself in this trap again. I can barely trust myself to take care of ME. Strange, right? Though I’m not engaging in those terrible eating disordered behaviors, I have found other ways to ‘take control’.
I feel like a robot almost, going through the motions of my habitual, essentially obsessive compulsive routines when I so badly want to relax and just live ‘in the now’, and accept and embrace my current state. I fear having lack of control over my life and I fear that my dreams will never be realized because of all this, because I have such difficulty letting go of my need for control. These small habits that I do have control over strangely make me feel put together. My daily routine of running a certain milage at a certain pace, raising the speed bar slightly each week, getting ready for work at the gym, eating very particular breakfasts, and lunches at a specific times, taking walk breaks, shopping for wine and food after work, blah blah blah… All these routines and ideals consume my life, take up precious time that could have been spent working on all the things I dream of and I hate it. I just cannot stand it any longer. This is not me. It is a shadow of myself. I have been in this circle before and it takes a big change to break free. I am open and welcome this change but I must manifest this myself. My ‘problems’ are nothing compared to what my Mother lives with, compared to so much more of the shit I know exists in the world. These ridiculous pit stops are nothing I haven’t experienced before, and I will not let myself self sabotage my dreams again.
I suppose this rant really is just a way to make myself more accountable. What do you take for granted? What overwhelms you? What drives you to push forward through discomfort and when should you know to withdraw?? Running has taught me that I am strong and determined, but it has also taught me that my body is not separate from my mind. While I am determined to push my body to its limits, to feel and look a certain way, I fundamentally do it so that I can live longer, so that I can be successful, and happy. This means proper fuel, proper rest, a proper attitude, open-mindedness, and a willingness to accept what the universe has to offer me.
Here is to making every effort to live in the NOW.
Cinco de Mayo taco and margarita parTAY. Jade, Nick, and Andrew <3
Current, over the top, obsession. MaraNatha Sunflower Seed Butter with sea salt.
It has no added sugars, and it tastes sinful. It is buttery, rich, and has an ever so subtle crunch. It is very high in vitamin E and magnesium. Awesome on rice cakes, mixed in with yogurt, and I imagine it to be crazy good on sweet potatoes. My next adventure. It has made an appearance in pretty much every breakfast over the last two weeks.
What in the what is making my breakfast green? Green Vibrance. Another obsession that I swear by with all my heart. I have been ussing it for probably a decade now.
This last breakfast bowl was topped off with this really interesting and delicious Japanese chickpea, raisin and sweet potato cake. I picked it up at Whole Foods in Dedham while visiting my Sister.
My lunches are generally pathetic haha. As I have mentioned before, lunch is my favorite meal to go out for! It kinda makes it feel like I’m on vacation :D Otherwise, I try to keep it simple. Sometimes it’s just a bar and a kombucha, and I’m good to go.
P.S: We are not engaged. haha
Next up!? Over 60 days of running each and every day. No injuries, no pain, and I am running faster than ever. I’m going to report my progress and what has helped me to get better!
P.S.S: You might need to be slightly crazy to attempt this. ;)