As I was running on Sunday, my first run since the NWM26.2, my mind started wandering. Thoughts just popped into my head and instead of puzzling over them and trying to find an answer, I just let the thoughts come and go. Sort of like when you’re meditating and when a thought comes, you acknowledge it and let it go.
I didn’t want to completely let them go, though, so I thought I would jot down some of these questions each week. And if I ever come up with an answer to any of these questions, I’ll write about it.
In no particular order:
Why do guys wear their pants underneath their buttocks? Why don’t they just walk around in their boxer shorts?
Why do guys – and girls – wear baseball caps indoors? Even worse, why do they wear baseball caps – or any hat – while they are eating?
Why do guys – and girls – not take their hats off when the national anthem is being played or sung?
Why do men – especially old, white men – have so much power over women’s reproductive rights?
Why do naps feel so wonderful? And why did we stop taking naps in kindergarten?
Why cats only want to cuddle when you’re trying to read?
Why do people insist on multi-tasking even though it’s been proven to be less productive?
Why do people think they can text and drive at the same time?
Why does a run feel so easy one day but so difficult another day?
Why are reality shows guilty pleasures? Why feel guilty about watching something you enjoy?
If you’re not scared by this peek inside my running mind, check back in coming weeks for more.
To an outsider looking in, the running community seems like a tight-knit yet welcoming, supportive, encouraging, motivational group.
And for the most part, that is true.
However, if you hang out in the community long enough – and by “hang out” I mean read running magazines, read running blogs, join a running group on Facebook, follow runners on Twitter, and so on – you’ll find that the there are members of the community who aren’t quite as supportive, who aren’t quite as encouraging, who aren’t quite as motivational as you’d think at first glance. There are members of the running community who are smug, self-righteous, and sanctimonious. They are the ones who have sharp elbows.
Right now you’re thinking, “The same is true for any group, for any community!” That’s true, I agree. Every group or community has members that don’t always show the group or community in its best light.
It could just be that I’ve been overly sensitive these past couple of months as my running hasn’t been quite where I want it to be or where it needs to be.
I was browsing around on Facebook one day and ran across Runner’s World magazine Facebook page. The page had a link to a Runner’s World blog of motivational poster #31. The poster had a picture of an obviously overweight man sitting on a couch with a remote in his hand and he was lit by what we are to assume was the television. The poster was captioned, “Can’t find 30 minutes a day to exercise? Look harder.”
The poster in itself, I had no problems with. What did strike a nerve, however, were the comments on the Facebook post and the blog comments. A majority of them just struck me as sanctimonious and self-righteous. There were posts from people who said they never watched television and couldn’t understand people who did. I understand not watching television – after my trip to Costa Rica a few years ago, I didn’t watch television for nearly six months.
But to say that you cannot understand people who do watch television? To smugly announce all the things that keep you so busy during the day that you don’t have time to watch television? To self-righteously say that the people who do watch television deserve all the health problems they end up with? To snicker at people who aren’t quite as fit and trim and healthy as you are? I have a problem with that. I have a problem with the judgmental tone that some of the comments took.
I watch television. I watch up to two hours each weeknight. Sometimes three. More on the weekends when there’s baseball, football, or tennis being broadcast. Am I staring at the television the entire time? No, I’m usually going through my mail, flipping through a magazine, working on a crossword puzzle, writing in my journal, chatting with my parents during commercial break. Would I use those two or three hours to run? Not likely because I generally run in the morning. Would those other runners sneer at me because of that? Probably.
We shouldn’t be sneering at overweight people who would rather watch television than exercise for 30 minutes. We should be trying to help them, trying to support them, trying to motivate them. We shouldn’t be thinking that we are better than they are – for all we know, they may bring more worth to the world in their daily lives than we do with all our running miles, running shorts, and running shoes. We shouldn’t be deriding people whose time management skills aren’t as good as ours. We should be finding ways to encourage them and work with them to change or improve their habits.
Runners should support people, not tear them down. Runners should encourage people to share their healthy lifestyle, not mock them. Runners should share their love for running, not make snide comments about the sedentary.
Since the time I happened across that Facebook posting and that blog post – and some other blog posts and comments in a Facebook running group that I’m part of – it’s been hard to think of runners in a positive way. It’s okay because I think those self-righteous, sanctimonious, and smug people probably wouldn’t call me a runner. They’d probably snidely call me a jogger.
That doesn’t bother me – I’ll label myself, thank you very much. In the meantime, I’m doing all I can to avoid runners with sharp elbows – in real life and in the digital world. I hope you do, too.
Do you run with baggage? What thoughts wander around in your head while you’re running? Are they good thoughts? Brilliant ideas? To do list items?
When I run on the treadmill, even if I’m watching a movie or a television show, there are a lot of thoughts wandering around in my head. For me, running time is processing time. Time to think about whatever I saw, read, observed, encountered, worked on, etc. since my last run. Or time to zone out if things were stressful.
When I run outside, my mind usually isn’t on my surroundings because it’s processing, just like it does on my treadmill runs. Do I notice my surroundings? Sure, especially if I’m running in a new place. Do I notice the cars whizzing by? Of course, safety when running outdoors is important to me. Do I notice other runners, walkers, and bikers? Absolutely, we are sharing the same space, after all.
Do I acknowledge those runners, walkers, and bikers? If you read my post, To Cheer or Not to Cheer – There is No Question, you know what I like to acknowledge others. So when I’m running outside, I’ll usually greet other runners, walkers, and bikers with a hearty, “Good morning!” or a cheery, “Hello!” Sometimes I smile and nod. I don’t wave. I’m not a fan of waving. How do I decide whether to speak or just smile and nod? If they have their headphones on, I’ll smile and nod. If they are with a companion and they’re in the middle of a conversation, I won’t acknowledge unless one of them makes eye contact. If they are on the phone, I may smile and nod or I may speak. If I’m feeling grumpy, I may just nod.
I have a lot of guidelines to acknowledging others on the road, right? I don’t have hard and fast rules about acknowledging other. I like to do it. Do I always do it? No. Do others always return my gesture? Of course not. Do I care if they don’t? Absolutely not.
A Facebook running group recently discussed the topic of runners not returning acknowledgments. The majority of people who commented said that they were offended or annoyed or irked or bothered when people didn’t return their greetings. It’s rude, some said.
I disagree with them. I’m sure I’ve been on the other side of not reciprocating an acknowledgment because I’ve been lost in my thoughts. If I ignored an acknowledgment, it wasn’t intentional. It certainly wasn’t personal. It doesn’t mean that I hate the person. It doesn’t mean anything at all.
If my acknowledgment is not returned, I know that it’s not about me. I may think to myself, “Well, I tried.” Or, “They must be having a bad day.” If my mom is on my mind, I might tell myself, “Their mom must have told them not to talk to strangers.” If I’m huffing and puffing pretty hard, I sometimes think, “They must not have understood what I was saying.” I let the thought come and then just as quickly, I let it go.
I have too much other stuff going on in my head to stuff any more baggage in there that doesn’t need to be there. I have enough emotional baggage of my own that I don’t need to be worried about whether a complete stranger snubbed me. I’m a slow enough runner that I don’t need to be weighed down by additional baggage like that.
If you see me running outside and you speak to me or smile/wave/nod and I don’t respond, don’t take it personally. I don’t hate you. I’m not ignoring you. I’m not secretly plotting your demise. It’s possible that I didn’t hear you, especially if I’m listening to music. It’s possible that I didn’t see you because of the glare from the sun or because I blinked. It’s possible that I’m struggling to find a rhythm and just missed your friendly gesture. It’s most likely that I’m lost in thought and just wasn’t paying attention. I can guarantee you 100% that it’s not about you.
So don’t hold it against me. Because it’s highly probable that the next time you see me, you’ll get a cheery greeting and a big, goofy smile. And I hope you’ll return my friendly gesture. But if you don’t, I won’t hold it against you. And I won’t give it a second thought.
When I was growing up my mom frequently told me, “Charity begins at home.” She usually told me this when I would refuse to share a book or a toy with my brother but then turn around and share that very item with a friend or classmate. It was my mom’s way of reminding me that I needed to take care of my family first before I tried to take care of others.
It’s a lesson that has taken some time to sink in, honestly. For years I donated money to a nonprofit organization that provided food for needy people in the Caribbean. I didn’t really think twice about it – food is important to me and after all, needy people are needy people and it doesn’t matter where there are, does it? Or does it?
A few years ago I sat through a United Way presentation. And one of the statistics cited in the presentation really struck a chord in me. The statistic? One in four people in our county used one or more of the services provided by United Way agencies in our county. Imagine that. If you go out to lunch with three coworkers, chances are that one of the four of you are receiving services from a United Way agency.
Of course, not all services provided by a United Way agency are for those in need. If you belong to the YMCA and go there to use the gym or to play pick-up basketball games, you’re using a service provided by a United Way agency.
Even with that explanation, the statistic of one in four really hit a nerve. I attended a United Way presentation again in fall 2011 and discovered that the statistic had changed to one in three, likely due to the economic situation in our country. One in three.
While Americans in our own country, our own states, our own communities are suffering from homelessness, hunger, and health issues, we seem to be intent on sending our own contributions anywhere but here in America. We seem especially focused on Africa.
I don’t understand this. While I’m glad that the spirit of giving and volunteerism is alive and well in America, even in these tough economic times, why are we sending our donations of money, items, and our time overseas? If charity begins at home, then why aren’t we taking care of our fellow Americans first?
I’m not anti-New-Year’s-resolutions. I just don’t do them. For as long as I can remember, I’ve set goals for each calendar year and tracked my progress along the way. Things are no different this year.
For 2012, I identified 7 categories that are important to me and established 3 to 7 goals for each category. I know that I’ll be stretched as I try to attain my goals for the year. That’s usually what I have in mind when I go through my goal-setting exercise – things that take me out of my comfort zone, things that will make me a better person, things that will stimulate me.
As I was refining my goals, I learned about a new concept through a women’s leadership group on Facebook. The idea is that you pick one word and you use that word to guide you during the year. In her 2007 post, Christine Kane called it a Resolution Revolution. The WLI group’s #oneword2012 was gathered and turned into a Wordle.
My #oneword2012? Risk.
It’s a word that I’ve had in mind for many years because I’ve felt that as I’ve become older, I’ve become more cautious and content. It’s a word that I think of – along with “fearless” – whenever I watch young children learn new sports. Or 20-somethings who hop from job to job because they’re looking for something that their current job doesn’t give them. Or 40-somethings who leave a stable, satisfying job to pursue a lifelong passion. Somewhere between childhood and middle age we lose our appetite for risk. The risks we take become more cautious, more calculated, less…well, less risky.
So I chose “risk” for my #oneword2012 to remind me that the safe choice is not always the satisfying choice, that the pragmatic option is not always the passion-fulfilling option, that the expected decision is not necessarily the exceptional decision. As John A. Shedd wrote in 1928, “A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” I hope that my #oneword2012 is a constant reminder throughout the year to push and stretch myself and to move out of my comfort zone.
Do you use Twitter? Do you actively tweet? Or do you lurk? When you tweet, what do you tweet?
Do you tweet only to promote yourself, your business, or your blog? Do you tweet every little detail of your day? Do you tweet every random thought that comes to your mind? Do you tweet your workouts via DailyMile or Nike+ or some other fitness website or app? Do you auto-tweet when you’ve liked something, pinned something, poked someone, dug something, or klouted something?
I’m a pretty eclectic tweeter, I think. My tweets include complaints about companies and people, quotes, jokes, business articles, fitness articles, some (not all!) foursquare check-ins, and random thoughts. I’ve not made a concerted effort to have a cohesive Twitter voice just like I don’t obsess about how many followers I have or how many tweets I’ve made.
These past few weeks, it felt like a lot of my tweets were angry tweets. I didn’t like that feeling because I love this time of year and it felt like my tweets weren’t honoring my true feelings for this season. It felt like I was always complaining about a work project or something else that was upsetting or annoying me.
I have gone back through my December tweets thus far and discovered that I wasn’t as whiny or complaining as I thought I was. Thank goodness.
Have you ever thought about what your tweets say about you? About how your tweets sound to your followers? About how your tweets sound to someone who sees your tweet via one of your followers or if it’s retweeted?
Twitter has made it easy – and relatively anonymous – to complain about a company, product, or person. It’s so easy to type out 140 characters and hit “send” or “tweet” that often we put our thoughts out there without thinking it through completely. Without stopping to think about the consequences of that tweet – for yourself or the person or company you’ve tweeted about. Without pausing for a moment to consider your own mental and emotional state.
Of course, all this applies to Facebook status updates, too.
So the next time you’re about to tweet or update your Facebook status, pause for a moment before hitting “send” or tweet,” read your tweet or status update, and think about what it says about you. I certainly will try to be more conscious of my tweets in the future.
I watched Up for the first time recently. I enjoyed it so much that I watched it a second time before returning the DVD to Netflix. It’s about a boy who dreamed of grand adventure and met the love of his life who also dreamed of adventure and exploration. They got married and grew old together without ever going on their big exploration trip. A series of incidents after his wife’s death fills Carl with determination to fulfill their youthful dream and off he goes to South America to explore.
There are a lot of life lessons embedded in the movie – persistence, the power of dreams, good guys win in the end, unconditional love, heroes with feet of clay – any of which would be a good topic for reflection. The life lesson from Up that struck me the most is that life is a grand adventure. But all too often, we get caught up in planning for our adventure that we forget to actually go on our adventure.
Think about it. Were you one of those people who created a bucket list when the movie of the same name came out? If so, where is your bucket list now? How many items on that list have you checked off? How many more items have you come up with that you didn’t add to the list? How many items on that list are left? And why haven’t you done them yet?
Likely you’re waiting until you retire. Or until the kids graduate from high school. Or college. Or medical school. Or until you finish your degree. Or your graduate degree. Or until you’ve paid off your mortgage. Or until you get your dream job with months of vacation and a huge salary. Or until you meet Mr. or Ms. Right. You plan and plan for your grand adventure so that when the conditions are perfect and the time is right, your grand adventure will go off without a hitch.
Conditions will never be perfect. The time will never be right. Adventures aren’t adventures unless they have snags, hitches, hiccups, and the unexpected.
So stop planning already. Life is the grand adventure. Don’t let life pass you by while you’re planning for it.