of course there is a marching band
I realized recently that I have done a monthly recap post for every month that I’ve had this blog. Which is quite a long time, if anyone is keeping track.
In each of them, I walk through the goals I set - some serious, some silly - at the end of the previous month. Then I discuss the current status of my swim, my bike, and my run - always in order. What follows next is usually a mishmash of discussion about my personal life and what the next month will look like. Then I round up a few goals for the next month and hit publish. Done. Yesterday I started writing my December recap post and thinking about January, and thinking about how I wanted to set it apart from all the 2012 recaps/2013 resolution blog posts, and it just made me feel exhausted. Mentally, exhausted. And I realized, I think, that it’s time to change direction. For good.
I’ve been struggling lately with my life, with the life that we are building here in Colorado. And I’m struggling because it’s good, and I feel like I don’t deserve that. When I found a new job at a great company, and then started working and loved the job and the people and the work, all I could think about is - when will this end? And then the poet found a job and then we found a house, a beautiful little house that was well under what we could afford based on how much we sold our DC house for, a house that will allow us to recover from the financial holocaust of 2012, to build and grow. I have friends and training partners and a new triathlon team here, it’s everything I wanted and I feel at peace. But a little part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I lost my job last April, when Graham got sick and my world went insane, those things were horrible. But in some ways they were almost relief. Our happy little marriage had been chugging along and I was waiting for something to go to hell, and when it did, I could relax. Because the wrong turn, the hard and vicious slap, the drop in my stomach that came when the vet walked out of the back and motioned us into an exam room, those were things I expected. That - I felt like I deserved.
I have no idea why I feel this way. I’ve tossed and turned with it in my own head, and I wish I could spin this blog post into an amazing story of discovery and renewal, but I can’t. I don’t have answers.
My whole life, I’ve been a teacher. I started teaching piano lessons to little kids when I was 14 years old. That that turned into a career of teaching high school, of private music lessons and technology-related instruction, of coaching cross country and swimming and now, over the past year or so, coaching my own athletes, pulling all the pieces together to help others move forward. Because that’s all teaching really is, is finding the way to move forward.
And I think that teaching, that coaching, is such a two-way street, I think that often there is more to be learned as a teacher than as a student. I have learned from Sonja a love for my own athletes, for every single one, for the ones who check boxes in perfection and the ones who struggle. I recognize pieces of myself in each one, I triumph when they triumph, I fall when they fall, I am fiercely protective of them. It’s the same way my heart would beat, hard, when the pile of sticky teenagers won the meet or the goddamn clarinet section finally could play measures 37-41 or the marching band - of course there was a marching band - came in second instead of first and my students looked at me, face upturned, for the answer why. And this history of mine means that I always search for a lesson, in any situation. I’m searching now, my face is upturned, I am trying to find my why.
My journey has brought me here. It has been flawed, it has been riddled with mistakes and errors and wrong turns. I have never pretended to be perfect, although I have longed for perfection. I don’t know where 2013 is going to take me, I don’t know the things that I am going to accomplish. I know that I have been hiding, these past few months. Every punch that has landed - and there have been so many - has pushed me further into my shell. After ironman, after Graham, I refused to believe that I had anything great left inside me. It had been emptied out, it had been replaced by fear, by sadness, by self-loathing. Or worse, by acceptance. It’s so easy to look back on the second half of the year and explain away the mediocre performances, the way I just sat back and let it all wash over me. I can remember, time and again on a race course, these feelings, I can pinpoint the moment I gave in. The way I lost all of my will to fight.
So, it’s not because it’s January or because it’s a new year or because we’ve moved to a new state. I’m not going to call anything a fresh start. A clean slate indicates that I’ve wiped the past away, and I think that would be the worst way to move forward. To guarantee that I’ll keep repeating my mistakes, that I will never learn. But it’s time to find my way back. There is a girl inside of me, one that bounces up and down and yells “that’s right, motherfuckers!” in the face of her biggest critics, of her demons and her fears, a girl that lets happiness explode out of her, someone who wants to embrace the joy instead of punishing herself with the mean, the petty, the anger, the rage. Who can say, “You know what, you’re right. I am NOT perfect. But what I AM, is fucking awesome.” That’s where this year needs to begin. That’s what I need to find.