Finding a Focus

Full disclosure time: it’s been a tough few weeks around here. And I’m sure the weather has had something to do with it.

winterI no longer remember what this street looks like without snow

Every year around this time, I go through a period of extreme restlessness mixed with some serious questioning about our decision to live in Vermont. The last two winters have been particularly rough, with what seems like unending stretches of subzero and single digit temperatures. Not to mention the near daily snowfall. It’s all I can do to keep myself from packing up and running away in search of a warmer climate.

On top of that, I’ve had some pretty serious moments of questioning other life decisions – you know, those small simple questions about what I’m doing with my life and if it’s all worth it. Work has been discouraging…in ways complicated by politics and power (or lack thereof). Some things that I have felt passionately about have been shut down, I haven’t gotten the support I feel like I need for basic functions of my job, and some days it seems as though I’m sitting in a silo screaming at the walls.

Meanwhile, I am frustrated with Amelia’s daycare and some of the decisions being made for her. Nothing that endangers her safety or physical well-being (if that were the case I would pull her out in a heartbeat), but are more (I feel) impeding her development. I realize that’s annoyingly vague, but the reality is that it’s probably a boring tale for most all of you. The bottom line is that at this particular moment, it is hard to feel certain that she is in the best environment. And I feel as though this battle that I’m fighting to ensure that someone is looking out for her best interests is getting nowhere.

The one simple fact that (for the most part) she seemed to like being at “school” and was learning and thriving there was what made it easier for me to spend my days at work. I don’t really love being away from her all day every day. As a mom, it can really tug at your heart thinking about how many hours your child spends in the care of someone else vs. at home. But knowing that child is in good hands can make it all a little easier.

So now, questioning that while feeling beaten down at the job and by this frigid winter and the darkness and the endless early morning runs on a moving belt going nowhere has all added up to create this perfect storm of anxiety and discontent.

Now before you go all “first world problems” on me, let me come right out and say I KNOW. Logically, I realize that this is all just a short phase and it will pass. Winter always ends, job environments and politics go through cycles, and Amelia’s situation will improve one way or the other. I just need to be patient. And as Evan likes to remind me, this “battle” will feel small and insignificant compared to the other things we will have to face in Amelia’s life.

But sometimes when you’re in the thick of all the crap, it can be hard to see the logic in it all. To focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. To see the forest through the trees. How many other metaphors can I throw in there?

Last night, after a particularly trying day, I came home and announced to Evan that I was done. That I was quitting my job and quitting running and quitting Vermont. I was tired and just could not see how any of this is worth it.

Bless his heart, Evan was on board. If that was what I needed, then we would do it. We could leave Vermont, start over somewhere else, and make things work.

Since I was exhausted and not in the mood to pack up the house and run away right that very second, I decided to sleep on it. And while a good run probably would have cleared my head this morning, I opted for more (restless) sleep instead.

And then today, with the return of some rational thinking, I did something slightly more productive. I finally signed up for a race.

The same no frills race where I made my postpartum comeback. It’s low key, relatively flat and there’s Switchback at the finish line. Three things that make an early spring race a winner in my book.

I’m feeling really good about it. Last week I finally bit the bullet and upped my weekend mileage, running 9 miles for the first time since last fall. On the treadmill no less. And you know what? It was kind of fun and left me craving more distance. In total I will have nine weeks to train. Nine weeks to focus on building up the distance and continuing to work on speed – something that I’ve actually been pretty consistent about for the last month and a half. I have a solid plan going forward. And more importantly, I feel really positive about my ability to run a strong race.

I may not be able to make immediate broad, sweeping changes to my work situation or Amelia’s daycare situation, but I can chip away at little things every day. I can take all that extra control-freak level anxiety and focus it on something productive. And I can make all those soul-sucking treadmill runs on dark mornings worth it.

Anyway – I suppose this post has no real point other than to blog about what’s on my mind. Something I’m trying to get back in the habit of doing. Just trying to keep it real over here. Thank you for listening to me whine and vent.

Next time – more talk of training, now that I actually have things (yes, plans for other races are finally coming together) to train for.


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