On Running

Last night, I scrolled through the few thousand Instagram posts on my account looking for pictures of my sweet boy Luke with his first kitty, Tico. Tico was a gift for Luke’s third birthday, and he was with us for about six years. One day, he asked to go outside like he always did but never came home. Luke has struggled with the loss of this special cat because of all of the questions and unknowns that surround his disappearance from our lives. And so in an effort to ease his mind and keep positive memories of this special buddy, I texted Luke several pictures I had on my Instagram account of the two of them together or of Tico in some of his favorite spots in our home.

Running has been a healing balm in some of the darkest times in my life.

As I was searching for pictures last night, it dawned on me how much time I used to invest in running. Like Tico was for Luke, running has been a healing balm in some of the darkest times in my life… wading through a bad marriage, navigating a separation and divorce, fighting loneliness and exhaustion that comes with being a single mama who is teaching full-time and simultaneously getting a Masters degree. Running kept me sane and energized and alive.

And over the past several years, it’s been something that is hardly in my life at all. I know that as life’s seasons change, so do our priorities and purpose, but running is one of those self-care practices that I really should be engaging. And I’m not. I could give a hundred reasons why, but at the end of the day, here’s the cold, hard truth: it just hasn’t been that important to me.

Last fall, I decided that I would start writing in an effort of self-care. I started a little advice column called Dear Birdie that I was really just writing for myself… to keep me mindful and open-hearted as the days got shorter and the darkness took over as it does during the winter season. Writing took effort and sacrificing other things, but I made it a priority because I knew that if I was going to be healthy and whole through February, I would have to practice some intense self-care.

Here I am, in early March, and I did the dang thing. I wrote. And I wrote. And I wrote. I made it a priority, and I arrived on the other side of winter far more whole and healthy emotionally than I’ve been in a long time during this time of year.

… We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly.

Brené Brown

Through this process, I learned the importance of taking care of myself so that I could care for the people with whom I’ve been entrusted. With just one intentional practice, I was able to give myself what I needed and wade through a dark season while also growing and building the life around me.

I’m proud of that, and I want to keep the momentum going by investing in another form of self-care that has been neglected in my life for far too long. With a goal of running at least twice a week for the next month, I’m hopeful that my love of running will return and with it a deeper sense of connectedness and satisfaction in how I am choosing to live day in and day out.

What are some self-care practices that you’ve let slip in the past? How did you get back on track? Post your thoughts and ideas in the comments!