This is such a lovely time of year. The pressure is off, at least for a moment, as swimsuit season is past, giving the perfect gift is still a ways off, and we can hide our hair under a warm hat if we’re having that kind of day. Fall is full of comfort foods, warm days, cool nights and space to just breathe. I live to take in all that fall offers, especially the calm.
A few years ago, I was inspired by my marathon-running friends to hit the trails, put in the miles and join them in going the distance. I tell you what, I LOVED this idea! It was fall, life was easy, I was in great shape and they seemed to be having so much fun telling me about their goals set and achieved. I could, no, I WOULD, run a marathon in the spring, by dog.
And so, I ran. And I ate carefully, and I told everyone I saw that I was running a marathon. Have you heard the joke: “How do you know if your friends are doing CrossFit? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” That is what I was like with this goal. All in. Spewing exuberance. Everyone knew — I mean everyone.
Then I decided I should be smart. Not just run, but, have an actual training program. Some people — the type who follow instructions — would have hired a trainer, but not me. Nope, I bought a book. A trainer would have showed me the ropes. The book started slowly, so I ran and read, read and ran. I think this is a good time to tell you that I have known for years that I am a better walker than a runner. I can walk for days without the slightest amount of boredom. I can walk uphill, downhill, around the block. I can stroll, perambulate, power walk, walk with a buddy, or alone, but running, well, that is different.
Reading, I came to chapter six or 36 or (someplace in the middle of the book) on a Friday night. Prepare for your first long run. Yay! Hydration, fuel, tunes, socks, shoes and a long, long route. The next day, I headed out bright and early, before the Rim Runners, those dedicated multi-milers, made tracks in the snowy park. It was just me, sunrise and time, so much time. I think it was supposed to be three hours.
“What I have found is that not only am I happier when I say yes to the right things, no to the wrong things, so are those around me. Careful yes and no answers save us all a lot of trouble.”
Three hours! Do you know what I can do with three hours? How many words I can write, people I can hug, or dishes I could do? That was all I could think about for the first hour — the other parts of my life. Three hours? And this was the first long run! After an hour, I tapped out. I don’t like to quit. I seldom fail, but holy buckets, I did not have the motivation, the inspiration, or the mental capacity to do three hours.
Now, each time I watch a marathon that travels past our house (it is a particular sort of irony to live on Parkhill, where all the races seem to pass), I think about that goal — why I set it and why I dumped it like a bad casserole.
It simply was not right for me. And that is the beauty of life, of health, of getting better every single day. Knowing that what is right for some is not always right for you. Knowing that if you are a walker, it is okay to walk, and if you are a runner it is okay to run. If you sing, sing, if you bake gluten-free cookies, bake gluten-free cookies.
That is what I love about being a middle-aged (fine… older) woman. I get to say “no” without explanation and I get to say “yes!” when the mood strikes. So do you. What I have found is that not only am I happier when I say yes to the right things, no to the wrong things, so are those around me. Careful yes and no answers save us all a lot of trouble.
During the past couple of years, my household has undergone some dramatic changes. Wheat is gone. So are nightshade foods, and dairy. My business has changed focus. My husband’s ribs were shattered in a fall and are now titanium. We sit more often to reminisce the good ol’ days even though we are sure we are still living them. Still, I feel more alive than even ever — more dynamic, with more to give.
You can too.
Go out into the world and say “yes” to yourself for a whole day. Buy the dress, eat the foods, watch the movie. Whatever interests you, say “Yes!” You won’t believe how good you will feel. The first time I had a day of yes, I felt my spirit return to its youthful vigor.
“Changing the things you can, accepting the things you can’t change, and living like you mean it gives you the freedom to be more you.”
Next, quit three things that are not the right things. You know what they are. Hire a housekeeper, stop cooking Sunday brunch, leave the job, dump the bad friend. Whatever you don’t like, take charge and say, “No.” Changing the things you can, accepting the things you can’t change, and living like you mean it gives you the freedom to be more you.
Figure out what makes you tick and rock it like never before. When you say yes to you, no to distraction and dastardly duties, life takes a turn for the better, not just for you, but for every person you are thankful to have in your life.
My friends, we only get to live this life once. That is what I was reminded when I gave up the marathon goal. Now I walk instead of run, eat the foods that matter and stand up for what’s important to me.
I hope you have time, during these calm and wonderful fall moments, to just be you. The very best, happiest, glorious, sweater wearing, leaf raking you that you can be because you are amazing, whether you run a marathon, or not.