This past weekend I got to be a part of an amazing team and run Ragnar Northwest Passage. It felt SO good to be a part of a team again! The course also allowed us to travel through various parts of Western Washington that are breathtakingly beautiful! I was capturing as many pics as I could along with taking in moments of simply absorbing the atmosphere, the sounds of nature, and the gorgeous views I was getting to see. While on Whidbey Island near Penn Cove, our van had stopped to cheer on runners. It was perfectly picturesque. I snapped a few scenic pics and team selfies. Then I asked one of my teammates to capture a pic of me with the water behind me. It’s a beautiful scene. I was grateful she obliged and took my pic. I was grateful I asked her to do so. I capture pics to help me remember the moments. Especially recently. SO much has happened in the last three (3) months, let alone the last three days, that pictures are truly helping me to keep track of what has happened, where, and with whom.

Upon looking at my pics later that day, I came across the one of just me with the water behind. My heart sunk a bit. What I saw in that pic was my arms. My arms that don’t look the way I want them to. My arms that have so much lose skin and don’t reflect the work I’ve put in. Yet, as I began to spiral downward with the negative self-talk, my eyes welled up with tears. I realized in THAT moment, I have SO MUCH MORE work to do. I’m not only referencing the physical work, there is that. But what I am truly referring to right now is the INNER work. I want to look at pictures of myself and see the amazing person I am and express words of love and gratitude. I don’t want to be mortified by the look of my arms. I want to see my incredible smile, my radiant soul, a body that has endured significant physical challenges and is capable of pushing through the struggles. The truth is, I used to weigh 320 pounds. The truth is, after weighing twice as much as I do now, it takes the body time to adjust. The truth is, I do think I look pretty cute and fun in my colorful Fellow Flowers tank (“in it for the long run” are the words on the back) and my Jette Skirt Capris with the tantrum print from Skirt Sports. I’m wearing two flowers in my hair, “Believe” (turquoise) and “Fiercely United” (orange). I’ve got my Momentum bracelet on my right wrist that says “You’ve Got This” to remind me of my inner strength when I begin to doubt it. On my left wrist along with my Garmin Vivofit, I’m wearing my “Be Like Hayley” bracelet, reminding me of how incredibly precious each day of our lives truly are. Each aspect of my outfit is full of intention and meaning. I’m flexing my arms in this picture because it was just after I finished my third and final leg. I felt strong for how I finished. Despite going 6-8 weeks with no running and no use of my core muscles post emergency surgery to untwist my bowels, I still ran. I was upright and I felt strong. I KNOW I have more work to do.

Today? Today that EXCITES me! It does not make my heart sink. It makes me feel excited that I AM able to recognize the work I’ve done and to see what more I can and will do! I am in the midst of training for the Chicago Marathon. This is my first marathon that I will run! This journey of becoming a marathoner is pretty frickin’ AWESOME! It is FULL of moments that bring smiles and tears. Full of experiences that fill my heart and bring me joy. As I continue to look at my arms, I KNOW that these are the arms that will be outstretched above my head as I jump for joy across that marathon finish line. These arms allow me to hug loved ones to help them feel how much I love them. These arms allow me hold my son’s hands. These arms remind me to say, “this is me”. I am flawed, imperfect, and am learning to love every aspect of who I am.

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