Some birthdays are a little more momentous than others. For example, if you are born today, it’s a pretty big deal. Just seeing the light of the world for the first time and all. But certain anniversary’s of your birth date are also somewhat of an occasion. For example, your first birthday, your 10th, your 13th, your 15th, your 18th, your 21st, your 25th, your 30, 40, 50th etc., your 75th and every one after 100. That’s pretty much it. Not that many really. All the other ones are fun and all but really not that remarkable.
Today, mine was no exception. Except (pun intended) in a way it was remarkable. I received well wishes from people all over the US and abroad! How cool is that?
That, and I have a new pair of running shoes!
It used to be new shoes for me, usually meant new pumps. Then I graduated into those bulky,flat, suitable for chasing knuckleheads and keeping-germs-off-my-feetsies-shoes. Finally, when I turned 49 I bought my first pair of actual running shoes, fitted for me specifically…and I never looked back.
Running has done from me something that I never thought I needed to do. I always thought of myself as competent, self sufficient, and relatively tough. But underneath it all, I couldn’t get the voices to stop. They told me, you aren’t good enough. You’re going to be found out. And over the years it seemed that there was always a boss or two, or a coworker that seemed to want to confirm everything the voices whispered to me.
So, I tried harder and fought against being found out. I worked longer hours. I threw the most elaborate birthday parties for my kids. I volunteered. And while I loved doing all of this, I also needed to prove to everyone that I was a good mom, a good employee, a good leader.
Then I started running. I ran at first, to lose weight, because as most of my last group of coworkers will tell you, I was fluffy and frankly, I thought I would pass out at the academy and lose my job. So I ran. And in all of the hours of running, I talked to myself.
In the beginning, I would first tell myself how far I was going, then spend the rest of the run convincing myself I could do it. Eventually, after setting my goal distance, I would spend the rest of the run sorting through my thoughts and memories,attaching meaning to everything of importance, and tossing out the junk memories from my brain’s junk drawer.
I came to understand that by tossing out thoughts and memories that were critical of me, or simply took up valuable space, I was more able to explore those memories that mattered.
I learned to forgive myself for my big mistakes, and to stop being so critical of myself for the smaller mistakes made out of youth and immaturity. But it took a lot of quiet, sit in your own juices and stew time running around the neighborhood and levee for me to do this.
In fact, I didn’t even know I was doing it.
Today, my 52 birthday, a birthday that is not on the list of momentous birthdays, I more than anything, wanted to run. And I did. And today, I didn’t criticize myself, I just ran and thought about how lucky I am.
Then I went out and got my new shoes.
Thanks for being my friends and Happy Birthday to ME!