Frequency Illusion or Fate

I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop in crunch mode. A few weeks ago I wrapped up the first draft of a book more than 25-years in the making. As I typed the closing words of the final chapter, I felt something was missing. That perhaps my book was an illusion or misrepresentation of grief. Despite being brutally honest about my lack of credentials or knowledge base around this topic, I felt like a fraud. Somehow my story didn’t seem strong enough or capped with enough wisdom and answers to really provide a sense of purpose to the reader.

As I contemplated what to do next, I began reading Susan Cain’s latest book Bittersweet. When I hit chapter 3, Cain made the comment, whatever pain you can’t get rid of, make it your creative offering. I realized in that moment, the purpose of my book, is to share with even one person, my journey with loss. For me, it has no end, because for me to never experience loss again would mean to quit living. Despite believing that in my soul, I seriously questioned if anyone else would understand. After all, one of the most common pieces of encouragement after losing someone or something you love is this too shall pass. It will get easier, once you get through it.

The problem is that never happened for me. I kept waiting and waiting, believing that if I just tried hard enough, I’d reach the other side. But the truth is, I feel loss and I hold onto it. I don’t dwell in it or quit living. I’m not clinically depressed or emotionally unavailable. Instead, I find myself acknowledging this is the price of admission and often times elevating my blessings by recognizing that anything worth anything I will in fact lose someday.

This is where divine intervention, fate, or a more logical explanation of Frequency Illusion of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon comes into play. Because as I contemplated my shortcomings, Bittersweet provided the framework needed for me to finalize understand my inner workings.  

Cain’s explanation of how certain people hold space for love and sorrow finally answered a decade old question. I am not broken. I am what Cain describes as a true connoisseur of the place where light and dark meet.

How did I come to that conclusion? A simple 15 question quiz that had me scoring 8.1 on the Bittersweet scale. Interestingly enough, my husband landed solidly in the category of sanguine or eternal optimist. It makes sense – I’ve been called Eeyore on more than one occasion, especially by my husband. I never minded, at one point going as far as to have a blog called It’s ok to be Eeyore, because I felt the world has enough Tiggers in it. That, I’d rather be loyal to one and contemplative, then someone I’m not.

Cain spends a lot of time contemplating the complexities of living in the place where light and dark meet, including one extremely important factoid that our culture has decided to overlook – it’s not human to simplify move on.

Trust me when I say this book is packed with wisdom. I earmarked so many pages and passages. But this, well it sums up my conflict with grief. It finally provides me the research to back my experience with loss – and the reality that while I keep living after loss, it does not mean that I’ve moved on, but rather that I’m continuing to move forward. The truth is, acknowledging my loss and being willing to talk about it, does not mean I’m dwelling or depressed, but rather I’m resilient. I am resilient and strong enough to embrace both love and loss, or as Cain explains, bitter and sweet, in the same moment.

How lucky we are to live in a world so beautiful where that’s possible? We are literally programmed to experience emotional multi-tasking. Yet, somehow that message continuously gets lost. Grieve and be sad. Then move on and be happy. I’m here to tell you, there’s an alternative. If you don’t believe me, then you MUST READ HER BOOK and take her word for it. Years ago Susan’s book Quiet gave me language around being an introvert. Now, she’s providing me peace for my experiences with loss. For that, I am forever grateful.   

I have months of editing to go on this book and a proposal due in less than 3-weeks. The past few weeks have been packed with self-doubt. Yet, as I sought a sign, this book dropped in my lap. The proof I needed to know that I am not alone. Call it divine intervention or frequency illusion, it is a fine a line. Just know, that often times, the answers are there if you just ask the right question.

Small Changes, Big Results

My first blog post for Another Mother Runner came out this month. It highlighted why New Year’s resolutions don’t work in my world but how taking time out to set your intention for the year or season you are in is a valid exercise regardless of what month the calendar says.

This year, I have some tangibles on my bucket list that I’ve plotted out in pencil (due to COVID-19). But bigger than that, I plan to spend the year operating under the framework of enough.

What does this mean?

It means recognizing that I am enough. I have enough. Enough is enough with some things I’ve fought to keep. Instead, it is time to let go. It also means that I’m in a season where I’m not seeking for more or the next thing but focusing on some foundational building blocks.

To achieve this, I’m doubling down on the tips found in James Clear’s brilliant book Atomic Habits. I know I’ve said a lot of books have inspired me to change my life. These books often focus on the categories of how I think, plan, or improve things like relationships. This book is all about taking action. The reason I love it so much, is because the action is so insignificant, you don’t even realize it is happening.

Similar to year’s past, I have a vision of myself being stronger, more energized and frankly a bit lighter. I certainly never want to give caffeine up but I would like to not rely on it quite so heavily. Clear spends a lot of time in Atomic Habits talking about how starting small and building consistent action into your daily life will ultimately lead to bigger results. He also reminds us that if you don’t identify or believe you can be the person or thing you want to achieve, you’ll never get there.

Henry Ford once said, “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” I used to think that’s a nice poster but a bit cliché. I now stand corrected. Our beliefs really do impact the actions we take in life. It is why when we’re out of alignment with our beliefs that we get a pit in our stomach or feel “off.” It also means that if I don’t believe I’m capable of being the person that loses the weight, does the plank or beats her PR, I’ll prove myself right every time.

This year, I’m scaling back. I’m slowly rewiring my brain by asking myself, “what would the healthy version of Beth do in this situation?” Would she hop on the treadmill for 5-minutes or eat the chips. Sometimes it is the latter of the two. But most times, it is a hybrid. I don’t mind doing a 15-20 minute HIT run on the treadmill or the bike, which then leads me to want eat a bit healthier. I don’t mind recording my food if the goal is nothing more than to write down what I eat. I don’t mind training for a 5k in January because it seems manageable – at times even easy. I don’t mind tackling a single page in my book or jotting down a few words in my journal most days.

The point is, I’m slowly building in these very small but meaningful moments in my day. Things that take little effort but are wiring myself to believe that maybe I can beat my PR this year. Or, drop the pant size. Or, write the book. Or, have so much energy my afternoon consists of dance parties and playing with Jake without a single diet coke assisting me.

I don’t know what’ll happen in the coming months. Right now, though, I know I’m 21 days into the New Year and I’m more on task for where I want to get then year’s past. More importantly, I’m having fun doing it.

I share all of this because if you are struggling with achieving big goals, consider dumping them. Start small like Clear recommends. And brace yourself to be amazed. I know I am right now!

Wonder and Worry

This weekend, I have the rare opportunity to explore my writing. For the first time ever, I’m participating in a writing workshop at the North Shore Readers and Writers Non-Fest in Grand Marais. The course is lead by creative writer Kathryn Savage. Remember back in early 2020 when I traveled to Florida to participate in a personal development conference? You know the one where I was terrified to dance with 10,000 strangers? Well I upped that today by sharing my writing with ten individuals. Turns out, it is a lot less revealing to dance like nobody is watching, then reveal your soul to strangers. The joys of being a writer.

Anyways, the class has my brain in overdrive. I will be leaving this weekend with so many more questions than answers. But, I’m also leaving a new found appreciation for some new forms of writing. I’m even playing with some new approaches to my non-fiction writing. Here’s a glimpse of just one of my writing prompts today. I hope you enjoy it.

Wonder and Worry

I wonder sometimes if I’m overly ambition. Too extra. Too out there. I worry that I am not enough.

I wonder if we had caught the addiction sooner, my mother would be alive. I worry I’ll follow in her footsteps.

I wonder if my son knows how much I love him. I worry I will smother him to death.

I wonder if I’ll ever lose the extra weight. I worry about the impact diet culture has on women.

I wonder if I love my job enough. I worry I’ll never find my calling.

I wonder about the roll COVID-19 and a broken health care system played in my father’s death. I worry I didn’t advocate hard enough.

I wonder if there’s a greater being in the universe calling the shots. I worry about challenging my faith.

I wonder how I reversed a life of poverty. I worry I am not generous enough.

I wonder why Pet Smart prohibited me from buying a goldfish. I worry about all of the goldfish sacrificed as prizes of the golf ball toss game at summer festivals.

I wonder why I grow so many zucchinis when I hate zucchini. I worry my garden will never grow.

I wonder if I love myself enough. I worry that my ego gets in the way.

I wonder how a dating app brought me and my husband together. I worry about how technology is changing relationships.

I wonder if I miss opportunities because I’m the world’s largest introvert. I worry that I talk too much.

I wonder where these words are coming from. I worry words are never enough.

I wonder if I worry too much. I worry that I wonder too much.

Random Moments

The scar looks much larger in life.

Facebook reminded me today that ten years ago I accidentally blended my finger while making guacamole. At the time, it was extremely traumatic. And, as someone with a low pain tolerance, I thought I was going to die. Crazy how surviving pregnancy and giving birth changes that perspective. But I digress.

I still have the scar from that immersion blender. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded how quickly life changes. Not in an overly dramatic way, but how something as simple as making guacamole, can scar you for life. Frankly, I think it is all of those small, simple things that add up to who we are as people.

This week I started training again. I’m nursing a real injury of plantar fasciitis, so I’m taking this slow. But, I’m already feeling life like has a bit more purpose. That, even in the midst of what’s sure to be yet another fall of COVID-19 chaos, that I’m in control of at least a small part of my life.

This summer I mentioned I was taking time to just think and be. A summer of productive procastination. It was an intense summer of Teremana margaritas, adventures with Jake, smut reading, cabin time, cocktails with friends and food. Soo much food. It was great for the soul and my mind. But, the past few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit aimless. A bit out of control. (Plus my pants are getting very tight). A bit like, what’s my purpose.

I opted to return to the basics. I’m ordering a Spin bike. I’m giving myself grace but training for a race again. I’m balancing out my summer reads with some personal development. Topping that list, gaining a better understanding of my PCOS. I’ve set a new writing goal and registered for a fall retreat. I’m making my bed every single day. I’m stretching for 2-minutes before I brush my teeth in the morning. Simple things that the book Atomic Habits (a must-read folks) taught me. I’m dreaming of a winter adventure with the family and maybe one by myself.

As beautiful as productive procrastination has been (and man it served me well), it is time to resume regular scheduled programming. Driving home today, I noticed the first tinge of red and gold on some leaves. A new wool sweater arrived at my house. While I’ve invested in my first pair of Birkenstocks (perhaps the makings of a future post), I am making plans to wear them with socks.

Transitions are always tough. Summer to fall signals a lot in my brain. A sense of urgency to make this year count. To not squander a single outdoor moment before the first snow flies. This year is no different, except that I’m going to try my hardest to balance a life of purpose with enough grace to also enjoy some productive procrastination. I think sometimes I approach life as an all or nothing. I’m finally realizing that maybe it doesn’t have to be this extreme.

More on this to come in the coming months. In the meantime, my latest blog post came out today on Another Mother Runner. They limited me to three of my favorite lyrics (beyond hard) to listen to while running. In case you are wondering, here’s the link: https://anothermotherrunner.com/my-top-three-song-lyrics-for-running/

Cheers to 10-years!

My first post-race photo ten years ago!

Ten years ago, I enjoyed a few too many mojitos at a dinner party and announced I was training for a half-marathon. (I was not.) Nevertheless, the next day I decided in a carb-induced hangover to make good on that announcement.

Since then, I’ve crossed dozens of finish lines, often at the back of the pack. Along the way, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks that I wish I had known starting out. I put those together in a book and also for an upcoming blog post for Another Mother Runner.

But, today I want to share another lesson that’s been on my mind. Time. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. The obvious trigger is losing my dad and also rapidly approaching the age my mother was when she died. One cannot help but question their mortality in these moments. Bigger than that, though, is the time the constantly escapes while busy waiting or planning for the next thing.

In the healthiest of times, I guess it can be called productive procrastination. It is why I have not dived into my next book headfirst. I know my heart needs a bit more time to heal. But, in most situations, at least for me, it is about fear. It is about me wondering but what if I fail, or this isn’t the right path, or I discover I hate it or someone is better than me. Sometimes I spend so much time pondering and contemplating that I forget that sometimes the easiest solution is to just move ahead.  

Ten years ago, a few too many mojitos cancelled out my fear. Before I could ponder or talk myself out of running, I proclaimed myself a runner. I’m so grateful to that because I know 100% without a doubt if I had done the pros/cons list about whether I should start running, I never would have taken that first step.

I’m so glad I did. In the past 10-years, I’ve had a few lofty (for me) extrinsic goals that focused on time or speed. That isn’t why I run, though. I run because I choose to. Because it is the identity I want for myself. And the best way to achieve that, is to do it.

There’s a fascinating best-selling book out there right now called Atomic Habits. Game changer for me. It gives me language for a lot of the things I struggle with when it comes to creating simple daily habits that’ll help get me to the goalpost. I highly recommend it.

In it, James Clear reinforces something so vital to success – that in order to get anywhere, you have to act. Seems simple. Unless you are the plus-size runner who is trying to resume training. This weekend I did that. I tackled my first non-express spin class (45-minutes of pure sweat-induced bliss) and re-opened Hal’s app. I plugged in a fall race with my only goal being it is time to start again.

If you’re still reading this and are stuck, read Atomic Habits. If you’re stuck about how to start running, just lace up your shoes and go. If you want even something simpler, buy my book. Heck, drop me a line and I’ll even mail you an autographed copy. The bottom line is just start.

Ten years ago, I threw a few words out at a party that nobody but me remembers. But, it was the start of a journey I’m so proud of and I cannot wait to see what the next 10-years have in store for me.

Wanderer or Productive Procastinator? You decide.

I’m officially a wanderer. Ever since dad died, I’ve been pondering what’s next. Sure, I completed a few in-person races and have been trying to slowly re-enter the world post pandemic but in terms of the next big thing, I’m sort of staring at a blank page. This is new and frankly a bit unnerving for me.

As a Generation X gal, I like to deal in facts. As a planner, I like to know what’s next. So to solve this new conundrum in my life, I did what I know best.  I turned to some trusty personal help books. I spent time charting out my why and revisiting my annual goals. I took advantage of free coursework and doubled down on amazing podcasts offered by some amazing personal growth gurus but none of it stuck. Except for this. The 5 Second Rule. Now, I don’t want to be too Pollyana about this and say that I agree with Mel Robbins when she says on the first page and first line of her book 5 Second Rule “it takes just 5 seconds to change your life.”

But, what I will say, is when you’re pondering what’s next and are spinning out a bit, there’s absolutely nothing better than just doing something. Frankly anything. So, about a month ago, I plotted out a few bucket list items and I pulled up my calendar and with no rhyme or reason, filled it in. Things I just wanted to do. Not because they’d drive professional or personal growth, or make me look like Mother Theresa or shed 100 pounds. But because it sounded fun. (This may seem normal to most folks, but I’m not known for my ability to schedule stuff just for fun, so go with this).

Productive procastination at its finest! So blessed.

In the past few months, I have started rock polishing, enjoyed an incredible girl’s weekend in Marquette, planted my first hydrangea, made a gorgeous petunia planter (while sipping some adult beverages), planted a vegetable garden of only things I actually enjoy eating, started a weekly spin class and am strength training, scheduled a North Shore overnighter, resumed journaling, devoured some fabulous smut books and am co-coaching baseball. I’ve mastered the perfect margarita recipe and trained my chickens to come on command (with snacks). I’m working on a summer bucket list with Jake and set time aside to freshen up my wardrobe next week with a trip to an outlet mall. Oh and coffee dates… lots of quick check-ins with co-workers, girlfriends and even a bit of networking over delicious lattes. I’ve sold nearly 5,000 copies of my book and am jotting down ideas for my next book. I’m still in what Mel Robbins calls productive procastination… which as a writer is different than just putting a project off due to stress but instead allowing myself space to be creative. Not sure if that’s a real thing but I’m going with it for now.

I mention all of this because at times I get to the end of the week a bit exhausted but feeling like I have done nothing. If I allow myself to get caught up in that mentality that in order to be better than the day before, I need to somehow level up my game, than I am failing on all accounts. A year ago, I would have beat myself up over that—called myself directionless and without a specific purpose. Heck, that’s why I dropped a small fortune to listen to someone pep me up and believe that if I don’t have a series of life goals that I’m actively working on, then I’m blowing my life away.

Turns out, I was wrong. Sometimes, you just need space to explore. To wander. To give yourself time to figure out what makes you tick. You don’t do that by sitting down and envisioning your perfect life and then manifesting it by getting up at 5 am and moving your body. You do it by living. By trying new things and allowing yourself to recognize that you may discover something about yourself you don’t know. The truth is, the more I try, the less I know about who I want to be when I grow up but I’m having some serious fun giving myself the space to ask the question. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes that even means jumping out of bed at 4:40 am to hit up a local spin class. But, I did it because I wanted to, not because I thought it’d change my life.

A friend recently posted a shot of our high school graduation 25-years ago. I vividly remember that day. My mom had died two months prior and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I felt an obligation to become “something” to keep her legacy alive and to not become some silly statistic of what it means to be a first generation college student of an alcoholic. In hindsight, I know my mom will always be proud of what I’ve done with my life but if she were around, she would have reminded me that life isn’t worth living if you are doing it for someone else.

So today, I share all of this, only to tell you that the past year has been rough. It is has been trying and serious and depressing and polarizing and game changing for many folks. Few if any of the folks I know would say that 2020-2021 was fun. I’m with you. But, I’m also hear to say that if there was ever a time to give yourself some grace and let go and just be – it is now.

The 5 Second Rule talks a lot about manifesting the life you want by being brave and taking small action steps. But, if you are like me, and find that sometimes making time to just have fun is almost more daunting than tackling an MBA, then I challenge you to 5-4-3-2-1 yourself into doing nothing. To catapult yourself into a walk with no purpose other than to check out nature. Or, wander the aisles of a store and buy something totally frivolous that makes you feel pretty. Or, buy that extra espresso shot, even if it means you’ll end up binge watching an extra couple hours on Netflix and being tired the next morning. Heck, show up at a spin class and feel like a Rhino riding a bike for the first time, only to leave knowing you’ve surpassed Lyndsey Vonn’s #chin drip because you are so out of shape but find yourself wanting to go back for more. As I look ahead to the second half of 2021, I’m proud to say my one and only mantra this year is to be a wanderer. It doesn’t mean I won’t wander into some crazy, game changing experiences but the why behind it will be a bit different.

PS This post was obviously inspired by Mel Robbins The 5 Second Rule book and Ted Talk. And also, Glennon Doyle’s podcast called We can do hard things. Check out both next time you are looking for ways to productively procrastinate through life.

Tough Transitions

Something tells me that maybe somewhere someone needs to hear this. At least I know I do and I figure I cannot be alone. As a writer, I understand that words matter. I had initially wanted to call this post, setbacks suck. Instead, I’m trying this. Tough Transitions. So much of my life these past few months have been about transitions. This past week, it came to a head in something that is most definitely a first world problem, but was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

My race was cancelled. The one I started pre-training for in January after my dad died and was just hitting my stride on in my real training. The one that I’ve been religiously training for because I needed a win. Not in the literal sense – let’s be real. But, in the sense that I needed to feel in control of something.

Sure, I knew it was a long shot when I signed up. COVID-19 is still real and I respect the very tough decisions race organizers are facing right now. But dam, I needed that weekend to push myself. Yes. I know I can run any number of virtual races. Yes. I know my husband would set-up a mock half-marathon course and cheer me on. But that’s not the point. I had a plan and my plan was turned upside down… again.

I was really mad. So mad I almost deleted Hal’s training plan right off my phone. I definitely was NOT going to hop on the treadmill for my 3.5 mile run without a reason. I definitely wanted to have a pity party. And man did the waterfall of tears start flowing.

To be honest, I’m a bit sad. I’m really, really tired of losing things. And, no matter how hard I try, this idea of finding meaning in the hard stuff is kicking me in the ass. Yep. I’m going there. I think it is time to say that sometimes things just flat-out suck. The silver lining just isn’t there. That if handed rotten lemons, one could make nasty lemon-aid or they could just say, throw the lemons out.

That’s where I’m at today. There is no silver lining to losing my dad. Yes. He is done suffering. And, I am so glad that he is no longer in pain. I am glad that my dad got to make the decision but that doesn’t ease so many of the what-ifs. And, it definitely doesn’t change my reality. I’ve lost my rock and sounding board. In many ways, a huge part of my purpose.

So yep. I’m mad and sad and not ready to find any silver lining. I don’t want to know his legacy lives on in his kids. I want him here. I want him here to say to me right now, who cares if your race was cancelled. Find another. I want him here to provide me perspective and tell me that running will probably kill me someday because it is hard on my knees. I want to fight over the price of a rib-eye and the weather differences between Iron River and Cloquet. I don’t want to drive by the Scanlon exit but rather to it.

So yes, the cancelling of the May 1 race triggered a lot. It reminded me that I need to give myself some flipping grace. That I’m not ok and right now, that has to be ok. That every day I get up and try hard and do the minimum is a win right now. I’m still showering (most days). I’m still loving on my kid and dancing in the shower and finding joy in the most superficial of things (amazon deliveries are almost daily). I’ve settled on a new vitamin stack and I’m letting Hal tell me what to do 4-times per week. And, I’m trying to come to terms with my new reality of being an orphan. I don’t say that for pity. I say that because words matter. And while I am so blessed to have so many incredible people in my life, I am an orphan at 42. It sucks.

On a different day, I might try to say that family isn’t just who you were born to but who you befriend along the way. That I am so blessed to have incredible in-laws and friends and a soul mate and a son. But guess what? I had all of that and dad up until December. So nope, no silver lining yet. No greater sense of purpose or understanding or acceptance. It doesn’t diminish the moments I cherish and the time we had together. It just means I still wish he was here back when he was healthy. Back when we’d play catch in the backyard and chat about nothing for hours on end.

Will it get better? I don’t know. Lots of people say it will evolve and change and become the new normal. An extended transition I suppose. But, the road seems really long right now. So, I’m trying to find control in the little things. The Door County Half was one of those. But, that to turned out to be another transition.

If you’re wondering, when my pity party ended, I ran the 3.5 miles. I found a back-up run that’s 10-miles on the same day. My friend was gracious enough to follow my change of plans. I got back on the saddle and said tomorrow is another day. A chance that maybe someday the moments of joy will outweigh the sadness.

Transitions are tough. They are one of the hardest things to get right when writing. They are painful and cruel in real life. A necessary evil to grow and evolve and to do better. I’m hopeful that some of the roughest, choppiest transitions in life pave the way to something I never could imagine. I’m cautiously hopeful that’s what my future holds. That if I continue to show up and speak my truth, my experiences can someday help someone else through a tough transition.

So if that’s you, I hear you and I feel your pain. I won’t say I try to understand it or that things will eventually get better. Inevitably, just like pain found you, I want to believe joy will find its way to you again as well. At least that’s what I’m banking on.

To tough transitions and finding ways through them without losing sight of all that’s good. Sixty days and counting until race day. Let’s go.

PS For those struggling with grief. A game changing books that have helped me…

It’s ok that you’re not ok by Megan Devine

Training, podcasts, and pasta!

Sporting my newest training ball cap. Being a mom is the hardest and most rewarding journey of them all!

Valentine’s Day. What a loaded holiday of unmet expectations. I’m gearing up to channel my inner Finlander by eating my weight in carbs with this TikTok phenomenon known as uunifetapasta. I’ll enjoy this savory meal with my favorite men and a chilled shot of Teramana, Cointreau, lime and Sprite Zero. It isn’t quite a margarita but might be one of the best drinks of ALL time.

But, before I do that, I wanted to talk a little bit about love. Yep. I’m going there. This week marked my first Amazon review by someone I didn’t know. On my first-time author journey, this was a big deal because I honestly didn’t know if anyone who didn’t feel obligated to the read book would. And, it turns out some folks have.

It also tuns out, at least one person, loved it. From Hildee Weiss, “I loved hearing her story of how she got into running and I enjoyed reading her tips and suggestions ranging from what to eat before a big race to what to look for in a shoe. She writes with honesty and humor and with heart.” A five-star review. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it felt pretty amazing.

My writing is far from perfect. But, the one thing I pride myself on is being honest. I write my truth, for better or worse. I mean how many other gals share their stories about shit-stained pants for the world to see? And, it turns out that vulnerability occasionally resonates with like-minded women trying to find their way in the world. Enough so, that I’m excited to announce that starting tomorrow I’ll be occasionally sharing my running adventures on Another Mother Runner. Dimity and Sarah have been absolutely fabulous to chat with and they are kind enough to allow me to share some stories on the amazing platform they’ve built over the past decade. I am pretty excited. If you are interested in checking it out, sign up for their podcast here. This past week, I also had the opportunity to share more about my running journey on WTIP out of Grand Marais. I was once again extremely nervous, but Annie was an amazing host and it was an absolute honor to share my adventures with folks in Grand Marais. I also dropped off copies of my book at Zenith Bookstore in Duluth, making it now available in 5 places!

Most weeks, this would be beyond exciting. But the thing I’m most excited about this particular week is I just finished Week 1 of my 12-week half-marathon training plan. It was sub-zero so my time was spent on the dreaded treadmill. I had four training runs for a total of 12 miles. And guess what? I did all 12-miles. This week I loved myself enough not to quit running. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy. I used all of the hacks. Tim Riggins. Ordering new shoes. Drinking Nuun and using the massage gun. Scheduling the work-outs in my calendar. Doing the Mel Robbins countdown and channeling my inner sisu. Yes. I know that sounds a bit dramatic. But, I’m being honest. Running isn’t easy for me. Especially after a year plus hiatus.

And you know what? It felt good to keep my promise to myself. It felt good to move my body. It felt good to focus on putting one foot in front of another after a challenging month of navigating grief and a harsh Wisconsin Winter. Thank god for therapy, friends and family. I don’t know what the next 75-days hold. I do know that right now I’m savoring this week’s wins and lacing up for another week of showing up not just for those around me, but for myself as well.      

The promises we keep

Ten hours after my father died, I found myself in a pet store trying to comprehend the clerk as she explained she could not legally sell my son and I goldfish due to not having the appropriate tank prepped for the occasion. It was Christmas Eve afternoon and I had promised my son we’d surprise dad with a fish for Christmas. I was still under the impression that a 25-cent goldfish did not take an act of congress to secure. In the haste of navigating nursing homes, a global pandemic, a hospital transfer and hospice, I had neglected researching the complexities behind purchasing a simple fish. Standing under the fluorescent lights of the big box pet store, I fought back tears (and some serious anger) as my mind raced to come up with a back-up plan.  

Meantime, my son, ever so resilient, immediately suggested we peruse the pet store aisles for a pet we could take home that afternoon. He guided me blindly up and down the aisles and before we knew it, I was seconds away from making a 2-year commitment and walking out with a hamster. I was all in until my son confirmed that hamster poop was beneath him and that it’d be my responsibility. In that moment, I regained control, fought the holiday crowds and secured four tropical fish, tank, food, and accessories with a few white lies and a lot of grit. We even made it home and had the tank set-up prior to our 3 pm family zoom call.  

 It wasn’t until a few days later that my world came toppling down. Grief is like that. It comes out of nowhere and leaves you trying to find meaning in even the simplest of things. But, this isn’t a post about grief. It is a post about promises.

Why the fish? Because when I make a promise, I keep a promise. I knew with every ounce of my being that I would not leave the Twin Ports Christmas Eve without a fish. But, the problem with promises is that commitment ends as soon as it is with myself. Have you ever wondered why it is so hard to break a promise to your employer, friend, family, volunteer committee or even random acquaintance on Facebook but promises to yourself are the first to go? If you’ve figured that out, let me know. Because I am guilty as charged.

Last week, I had the honor of being a guest on Another Mother Runner podcast. We talked about all sorts of things surrounding my new book, including the simple question – do you really hate running?

The simple answer is yes. But, anyone who knows me, knows that nothing is simple. Nothing is black and white in my world. I hate running but I love the act of running. And, I love that even during a global pandemic, runners get to write their own narrative. You get what you put in. And come race day, your time reflects your effort. In a world where everything it out of one’s control, I can still control putting one foot in front of the other. I had forgotten that for a while… but as I’ve pushed out my book… I’m remembering. And the truth is, I need that right now. Losing dad leaves a big hole in my heart… my calendar… and my future. I always knew my dad was sick but given the man had exceeded nine lives, a part of me believed he would live forever. Even while in hospice, I genuinely went to bed believing that there was a chance I’d go visit him the following morning and he’d be skimming the grocery ads ready to argue about the price of a rib-eye.

So here I am. One month later. If you’re wondering, the fish are thriving. I am not. I’m struggling quite a bit on a lot of fronts right now and I want to be honest about that. I don’t know how I’ll come to terms working in health care when I struggle with how mediocre and cruel the system is to people and their families. I don’t know if I’ll write another book or ever lose the weight or grow professionally. Many of the dreams I set out on to achieve in 2020 – pre-pandemic and pre-grief seem tone deaf to the life I’m living right now. The RISE conference a year ago seems like a lifetime ago. I find myself now with a blank page on what comes next.

For those wondering, yes, I’m back in therapy. I’m also starting to ask myself what’s next. Slowly, I find myself setting new goals that are a bit simpler, yet true to what really matters to me. I’m going to grow a garden of only vegetables and flowers I love. No more zucchini or marigolds and minimal beans. Good bye broccoli. I’m going to learn about rock polishing and shine some Lake Superior treasures. And, I’m going to run a race again.

Yep. This was a very long-winded post to say I’m running again with a real goal in mind. I hope to find myself lining up at the Door Count Half Marathon on May 1 and crossing that finish line in under 3-hours. It is a goal that is now ten-years in the making. It is time. I suppose one could say losing dad was the spark… but that wouldn’t be honest. The truth is, I want this for me.

I want to take the next 13-weeks and train hard. I want to make a promise to myself that I’ve earned the right to be selfish for a few months. To say I need this win after a year of losses. I need to feel like I’m in control of something right now – even if it is just for a few hours on a cold and windy May day. If the race is cancelled, so be it. I’ll find another and then another. And when I cross that finish line, I’ll be reminded that the most important person to keep your promises to is yourself.    

Local Author Shares Love-Hate Relationship with Running in her Debut Book

Iron River resident Beth Probst is a non-athlete. Or so she believes. In 2011, after a few too-many mojitos at a dinner party with friends (remember those?), she decides to give running a try. Logically, she signs up for a half marathon, even though she’s never run a race in her life. And so begins the nearly decade long love-hate relationship with running.

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is a candid and at times humorous look at Beth’s running highs and lows, successes and failures, and some tactical tips on how to be a real runner when you feel anything-but. An added bonus, she taps into the wisdom of some of her favorite female running buddies to offer some additional perspectives and advice to help move one from the sidelines to the starting lines.

Of the book, this first-time author says she decided to put herself out there when she realized a gap in the marketplace for the woman who is filled with a lot of insecurities and doubt about running and has only one goal – to cross the finish line upright.

“There is an incredible pressure towards perfect in society,” says Probst. “Running is no exception. When I first laced up, I found countless books that focused on how to run faster, train harder, eat smarter and finish faster. But, for me, the plus-size gal in my 40s, my goal was to just finish while keeping my toenails in-tact. I’ve since crossed the finish line over a dozen times and I still don’t get the alleged runner’s high folks talk about. I figured I wasn’t alone so I thought I’d share my story in hopes in inspires one person questioning if they should run, to just lace up and try.”

Beth never hides the fact that she’s only finished in the back of the pack and had some horrifying running mishaps. But she still keeps showing up. “The great thing about running is you get exactly what you put into it,” she says. “I’ve cut corners on training and ate the frozen pizza the night before a long run—and those mistakes came with consequences. But that’s the thing about life. It is full of choices but they are our choices to make. This book is as much about taking charge of your own narrative as it is about lacing up and hitting the pavement.”

As for who should read this book? The dedication says it all—this book is dedicated to any woman who has felt unworthy… but showed up anyway. “If someone reads this book, I hope they leave with a few resources and tips on how to channel their inner strength – or Sisu – and realize that they have earned a spot at the starting line as much as the person next to them. That’s the heart and soul of this story. And better yet, I hope they even laugh a little.”

It could be worse: a girlfriend’s guide for runners who detest running is available locally at Solstice Outdoors in Ashland, Honest Dog Books in Bayfield, Drury Lane in Grand Marais, and Redberry Books in Bayfield. Or, to purchase online visit: https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=It-Could-Be-Worse