To soaking in the beauty and strangeness of new surroundings. Running on little Edisto Island in 3 mile circles looked like this...
I have never felt hotter while running. As in temperature, not state of mind. ;). It was blazing. I could literally inhale the heat rising from the pavement. But it was weirdly exhilarating.
And it gave me such a burst of energy every day. I could keep up after my boys even after Jason had to leave us for a few days... I could take them for long bike rides and chase them on the beach and splash with them in the pool.
I credit running for the energy I have been blessed with for this special and especially exhausting season in my life. I am not the most productive or organized of mothers. But I am pretty much always energetic. No one feels happy all the time, and nobody's life is without suffering and hardship and work... but I can honestly say that even on tough days, I feel like I am given just enough grace (and energy) to choose joy. Real, tangible, grateful, humorous joy. Much like how, in the hottest of runs on the island, sweat pouring down my back and heat pounding on my face, I was able to press in and get a heart-soaring, muscle-tingling second wind.
Running is a gift from God right now. It fills my sails and my tank and my heart. That second wind - physically and emotionally - is the greatest help I could get right now.
A few nights out at the beach, after the boys had crashed from a long day of sand and saltwater, I was able to hop on my rental bike and leave the baby monitor with my sweet mother in law and her as-sweet sister.
It was special to just feel like me for a few hours. And it was special to be able to see things like this...
That color is not a filter, hand on the bible. It was unbelievable - a hurricane raging offshore from us, and the whole island was lit with this eerie, fiery glow.
I dropped my bike and ran up to the beach to catch the sight of lightning flashing over the water in the distance, as the sun set behind me.
I felt in that moment, sitting on the sand by the sea, and then riding back to the condo with the wind in my hair and the pink fading overhead - that I am loved beyond measure. I am a small person in a big world, and it is exciting and dangerous and beautiful. And there are so many adventures I get to have. Not the least of which are the two pairs of bright eyes that greet me every morning and just want to play with me all day long. This is how I feel about being a mama.
I am grateful for the zest and energy for this time in my life that I honestly think comes from running. This time in life can be a tempting one for us women to feel like martyrs or victims or has-beens. Its not that we don't love our babies - but I get how it just overwhelms you, along with the piles of crusty dishes and moldy laundry. I am grateful that God gave me a stress outlet that also fills me. And its free. ;)
getting a run in with my double Bob on my favorite trail at home, right before a storm
Running isn't for everyone. My mom had this experience with cycling [she is a badass on a bike]. But I have to believe that God is able and wanting to help every mother find something to give them the joy and energy needed for their vocation. I know myself... I know my own failings and temptations... and I know I can't give myself the credit for the fact that I am simply loving this season. Sure its a lot of work; duh I yell and cry and say bad words plenty of times. But it is every bit as full of laughter and slobbery kisses and hilarious hijinks at bedtime and the contagious delight of your child getting to discover God and the world and himself. The tipping point, for me at least, is having the energy to lift up your head from the spilled milk and stained walls and see it. Having the energy for the bathtub splash fights and kitchen dance parties and epic story telling - these things make all the difference. Having the energy to laugh instead of cry.
So, here's a surge of gratitude to running... for this joy it gives me that I get to be right where I am, with every sweaty fiber of my being.
If you find yourself stuck in the hardships of motherhood, I have been there... and I know it has nothing to do with being a good mother, or being cut out for the vocation. I truly believe, if you press in just a little harder, if you seek out your own God-intended outlet and energizer... that second wind is waiting for you.
"My yoke is easy and my burden is light; come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will refresh you." - Matthew 11:30