Savor. Simplify. Shine.
One woman's thoughts on deepening Spirituality in our increasingly frantic world
I once was a distance runner. Not competitively, I never ran track in school or competed with a team. I discovered a love for races after I moved to Chicago. I ran one marathon, two half-marathons, and two 10 miles races. Only one of those was after Owen was born; a 15K in November of 2013 when he was five years old. It went really well. The weather was great and I ran faster than I thought I would. I was it better shape than I had been in a while. Most importantly, I had a great time and it made me feel proud.
When it was over, though, I didn't run again.
I'm not sure how that happened. The weather changed. The following Spring, when I might have got back outside to run, we lost John's Dad unexpectedly. We had more death and hardship that year - blow after blow. I was holding my little family together and growing my business and fitness fell to the bottom of my list. My feet hurt when I attempted to run again and I embraced lower-impact indoor exercise. I have had up and down consistency in exercise since that time. I have done yoga, workout programs on DVD and You-Tube with intervals, weight training, cardio... nothing has been the same as running. Running forces me to get my heart-rate up and after some time, it is quite meditative. When I trained for the marathon, I used to say "I like running until I'm stupid". As someone whose thoughts are often racing, it clears my mind.
I hadn't thought about running in a while when my husband gently brought it up to me over the winter. I was doing our Clean Eating program and working out 5 days a week and still not feeling really "fit". He said, "Sara, I think you looked great and seemed really happy when you were running. Get good shoes and start again in the Spring". When I sat down to make my goals for the year, Owen had been asking me about races. He is very competitive and wanted to give running a try. John's words came back to me, and I told him I would do a 5K with him this year.
This morning, I decided it was time to begin. If Owen and I are going to do a race this year, we need to start. I told him to get dressed and put a sweat band over those glorious locks. I laced up my shoes, tightened my ponytail, and we headed to the park. We brought the dog and did one mile today. One little mile was our beginning. Owen was surprised at how far that really was - I knew he would be! It felt so good. My heart rate got up. I was breathing hard. The sun was shining. The wind was blowing. I was running for likely the first time in years. I felt strength in my body from all the work I have done. I felt time passing with my almost ten-year-old running next to me. I felt secure in returning to something that makes me myself. It was like a big metaphor lapping the track hearing my feet hit the pavement. It was the first run in a long time, but it wasn't my first run.
What old thing can you make new today?
I spent five hours in the car today driving to and from a funeral for someone who died far too young. I spent time driving on Friday to visit a friend who is serving a prison sentence that is far too long. I learned of two deaths by gun violence this weekend that left far too many grieving. It can feel like too much; far too young, far too long, far too many, far far far.....
This season is marked with anniversaries of loved ones passing. My Facebook feed fills with tributes and photos from the end of March through the middle of May and there are times it all feels so sad. Maybe, it's also perfect. I am reminded of death just as everything is coming back to life. New life puts death in focus. This particular Spring is bringing with it the reminder that all will end. I felt so thankful all weekend - so thankful for my freedom, my health, my family, my marriage, my child. I was sad but I felt a small smile grow in me with each mile of each visit. Love the Prisoner. Serve the widow. Gratitude like that is easy fresh off the news of those who have lost the very same things. Daily gratitude is not as easy, when the chores feel endless and the sun continues to hide behind the clouds. Put down your to-do list. Make the drive anyway. Make the Phone Call anyway. Send the Card anyway. Show up for those who are in crisis whether or not they have hurt you. Forgive someone today. Receive forgiveness today. It is never too late to begin again.
I chose the word FOCUS to guide me this year. Specifically, I am focusing on health and wealth - making smart and sustainable choices for my body and our bank accounts.
Over the first three weeks of January, I worked through a sort of personal development/bible study/workbook/book. One of the exercises was about clearing out distractions and clutter. I feel pretty good about organzing my schedule around my priorities. I also regularly pare down our material possessions and don't feel like I'm drowing in clutter. I wanted to be open and not defensive around the assignment. I was curious where I could change and grow. What I found when I got honest about where I spent my time on a daily basis: I LOVE my phone. Specifically, I LOVE Facebook and Instagram - refreshing and scrolling and looking at pretty pictures and reading interesting articles and feeling connected and informed. I had to admit it was time to back away from the mobile device and social media.
Scrolling on my phone is a daily habit. I don't need a media detox. I don't want one day a week without social media. I enjoy those mediums and I use them for work. I do need a time in my day that is focused and uninterrupted. I do need to start a task and finish it without updating the world in the middle or stopping to post an event reminder in my team's Facebook group.
I thought through all I've learned in goal-setting, time management and personal growth over the past ten years of entrepreneurship. The rhythm with which I begin and end my days matters. My morning sets the tone for my day. The way in which I fall asleep directly impacts how I start my morning. I decide to choose a 12 hour fast.
I will not log onto Facebook or Instagram (or twitter or goodreads for that matter) from 8PM - 8AM. Maybe that sounds silly to you - you never check your phone. But after only five days of this practice, I have been given a reality check! I am a distracted person by the end of the night, I can scroll and read and click and scroll and read and click and scroll for 90 minutes! I might have just as easily spent a few minutes washing my face and read 30 pages in bed and then gotten to sleep on time my mind free from the latest political escapade, sexual scandal or sad update from a friend. I might have actually answered and sent the emails I had opened up my laptop to send. I already have very productive mornings, but they are taking less time now and are simultaneously more relaxed since intentionally leaving the social feeds for after 8AM - post reading and prayer, post work out, post breakfast, post to-do list writing... after all of that.
It looks like FOCUS is going to be a layered theme for me this year - focusing on health and wealth? YES. Focus for a concentrated amount of time on how I want to feel? YES Lose some distractions? YES.
Share in the comments if you think a 12 hr media break a day might help you - or if there's something else you want to take a break from to get to what is really important
In the first year of a new century, in a big Shakespeare Festival in a tiny Texas town, I met John. I was an actress. He was a carpenter. Living up to my own expectations, I spent the late nights after the shows eating Whataburger, drinking beer, discussing movies and music and poetry - then running it all off in the morning at the junior college’s gym. By six PM, I was back in the dressing room and we got to do it all over again. I was twenty years old and half-way through my college experience. John took me to parties on the lake. He wasn’t in school. He knew how to build things. He was strong. He was twenty-two and living on his own with a dog.
I hoped my whole life would be like a Summer romance working in a theater festival.
When John and I got married and moved in together, he was the recipient of a minute-by-minute re-telling of my day. He often joked he had to throw a blanket over my head to get me to sleep. I spent long stretches of time on the phone with friends and family. Without realizing it, I would wander over to our full-length mirror watching myself talk. I would twirl my hair or pose while gazing at myself on the phone. John soon decided I was a little bird - Give her a Mirror and she won’t be lonely. Throw a towel over her cage and she’ll go to sleep.
I have spent the last few years peeling away layers of busy and ambition. I am now settled into a rhythm I absolutely love. Time in nature is a non-negotiable. I spend at least an hour reading and writing every day. My family can't wait for homemade pizza on Friday nights. I run a business from home that allows all this freedom in my schedule. I work with women who also value the earth and big dreams. I worship with people who love me as I am and encourage me to grow. I stopped chasing 'having it all' only to realize I already did. I'd love to share my stories with you.
Sara Russell (Sarakeet) lives in Chicago with her husband and son. She heard God in the trees and now counts down to planting her garden and camping under the stars every year. She loves time with 'her people' and strives each day to feel radiant, creative, adventurous and free!