Miles Away

I sat at the kitchen table and laid both my palms flat on its surface. Fear pierced my heart.

What in the world was happening to me?

Everything tilted, though I hadn’t moved. Familiar sounds came at me as if through a long, steel tunnel. A dense fog invaded my mind. I couldn’t make sense of words or actions. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move.

Even worse, I was completely alone with our two-year-old strapped in her high chair. It would be hours before the older kids came home from school. And the dogs had no idea how to dial 9-1-1.

After several long moments, the episode passed. I was perfectly back to my kind of normal for a few days. The next episode hit on a Saturday with everyone in the house.

When I could speak again, I burst into tears. Within the hour, the emergency room doc had my head in a whirring, clicking machine, drew half my weight in blood, and connected me to so many wires and tubes I could have passed as steampunk.

While we waited for results, the doc grilled me on every aspect of my life.  I thought I had everything under control, but my body told a different story.

The results dripped in. Thyroid – normal. CT – normal. Blood sugar – normal. Vitamins and minerals and various counts – normal.

The doc sat and tapped her pen against her lips.

“I think you need to run,” she said.

Running shoe pic Inspired Prompt jan 2020

As I recall, I laughed so hard I snorted.

“I don’t have time to run!”

Hadn’t she heard a word I said about all the stuff on each of my To-Do lists?

“You don’t have time to NOT run,” she countered.

All the way home, I made my list of reasons why running was out. Too old. Too busy. Too slow. Too lazy. Too hot. Too cold. Too crowded at the Y.

No matter how much I tried to justify my Reasons Not to Run list, the three words on my Reason to Run list outweighed them all: Too Much Cortisol.

Cortisol, apparently, is a stress hormone. It’s normally released in our bodies to aid in those fight or flight situations we sometimes get ourselves into.

For me, though, I had made each day into a fight or flight situation. My stress levels were through the roof. While I hadn’t had a stroke as I had first supposed, the invisible beating my body was taking would eventually take its toll on my heart.

Running track pic Inspired Prompt Jan 2020

Way back in high school and college, I ran competitively. That was four children and almost as many decades ago. So this time, I started slowly. V-E-R-Y slowly. Eventually, I got faster. Each time I passed a milestone (get it? A MILEstone), I allowed myself a little treat.

When I could run a mile without stopping, I invested in an Iron Man watch to count the laps at the YMCA. Eighteen laps equals one mile at my YMCA track. That’s a lot of numbers for a writer to keep in her head, you know.

When I could run two miles without stopping, I invested in those fancy socks that I had my eye on. Fashionable and supportive.

When I could run three miles without stopping, I registered for a 5k run and paid the extra fee for a t-shirt to prove I had run.

It wasn’t easy, and it STILL isn’t easy, but it can be done. Here are some tips I used to help me stay on track and out of the hospital!

  • Find what works to get you moving and start. For me, I used the FREE part of the app C25K (Couch to 5K). For you, it might be weights, cycling, swimming, walking.
  • Find your first micro goal. Even marathoners have to run one step at a time. Set small goals and work toward them. Reward yourself when you get there.
  • Find the right, healthy priorities off the track. Pare down that schedule. Not everything is urgent.
  • Find something to listen to. When I first started working out, I had a tendency to listen to the liar inside my head telling me it was no use. Then, I wrote down scripture on 3×5 index cards and memorized them while I ran. Good, until my hands got so sweaty I could no longer read the words. Then, I discovered PODCASTS for WRITERS. Bingo!

Click-to-Tweet: Remember that we are all miles away from something. If we never start, we will never get any closer. #runners #workout

WRITING PROMPT: Jillian Willows woke up in a sweat. She’d had the same nightmare for the fourth night in a row. Not exactly what she needs the day she is scheduled to run in the biggest race of her life. Write a short scene of dialogue between Jillian and an undercover angel who is sent to encourage her to run the race with endurance.

Fit for the Long Run

I laugh as I consider me attempting a long run. I have a dear friend who runs marathons. I watch her in awe, knowing she has spent countless hours preparing for a race. And then, you know what? It doesn’t really matter if she doesn’t win. What matters is, she finishes.

I’ve always taken pretty good care of myself. I tried to eat right. I’d take long walks, followed by some strengthening exercises. But a few months back, I became distracted by life and too busy to take a few minutes out of my day to go for a long, leisurely walk. The few minutes it took to go through the exercise routine seemed too much for me. I was in a hurry. I had to finish the next thing on my list.

Kicked to the sidelines, exercise languished. I sat too long. I’m a bookkeeper, so my job is mostly sedentary. I write in my spare time. We all know what that means—more sitting. Right now, writing this, I’m sitting. But you know how it is—I must finish it before I get up. If I leave it, I may not get back to it!

Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!”

I’m ignoring it, pressing on. When I finish all my chores, I’ll head out there. Only thing is when I finish it’s nearly dark. The sun has gone on its way. I missed another opportunity to enjoy its warmth and the boost of vitamin D I so desperately need.

Result: After months of abusing myself in this way, I began to suffer odd pains in my body. I didn’t feel right. The pain increased so I went to the doctor. They ran all sorts of tests, only to find…nothing.

My chiropractor kept telling me, “Get up. Don’t spend such long hours sitting in front of a computer screen.” He suggested I try using a dictation program to write my stories or redesign my desk so I can sit or stand. “The stress is literally making you sick.” He was right.

For many, January presents a fresh start. A reset. Time to toss out the bad habits I’ve picked up over the last few stressful months of the former year. I’m planning some positive changes that will help me destress and find my way back to health.

When I feel better, I write better. Or at least, I can write more. So, I’m getting up right now and walking away from the computer desk for a few minutes. Across the room, I spend time working through a routine given to me by a friend who happens to be a personal trainer. They are simple exercises that take only a few minutes and can be done several times during the day. You can easily find a routine like it online, or try Pinterest!

I break my computer work into sections, using an alarm on my phone to remind me to get up and walk. Drink water. Eat a healthy snack. Do I really need to remind myself to drink water? Yes!!

These are small steps, but really, that’s all it takes. When I begin to feel better, I will have the energy to do more. Stay a little longer at the gym, park farther from the door at the shopping center. Stop at the park on the way home from work and make an extra lap around the walking loop or path. Take the dog out for a walk (if I had a dog).

“Exercise brightens your eyes,” one of my teachers used to tell his students. All I know is, my blood flows faster, producing more energy to accomplish daily tasks. My brain works better. Words come easier. During those short exercise routines, ideas pop into my mind. I take time to jot them down without interrupting the activity.

I may not win the race, but I intend to finish.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV

Writing Prompt: Janet closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Today was the day for new beginnings. All around her, well-trained athletes worked through their final routines, preparing their minds and bodies for the race. Was she really doing this?

Click-to-Tweet: Outside, the sun is shining. It beckons to me, “I’m shining for you! Take a few moments away. Come play in the sunshine!” – Fit for the Long Run via @InspiredPrompt and @batowens