Tag Archives: anxiety

Running down a dream

Today, I ran my first half marathon. It has been a goal six years in the making. I came close in 2008, but then a stupid injury sidelined me. Illness, a couple of surgeries and pure laziness kept me from succeeding.

Last January, when I was on a trip to LA with my sister, I knew I had to make a big change in my life. My health had to become my priority.

After nine months of training (with a 2 month break because of travel and a mild case of laziness), I ran the Niagara International Half Marathon

After the run, with our hard earned medals.

After the run, with our hard earned medals.

with my husband, who has also been my awesome and patient coach. It was hard. My legs are not fully functional and probably won’t be for days. My head hurts. And I feel awesome.

I finally reached this goal because I had a plan: “do this much running on these days for this many weeks.” I had to start with a walking plan to build up my fitness. Then my running had to increase to be able to run 10 minutes and walk 1. And then my mileage had to build from 3 km all the way up to 20, and finally 21 km today. It meant running when I didn’t want to. There was a lot of swearing, I won’t lie. A bit of whining too. The couch would be calling, but Dave would be in his running gear and I knew I had to get my ass in gear.

At the beginning, I was scared that I would fail again. That it would continue to be this illusive goal. Right up until I went over the finish line, I was afraid I couldn’t do it.

Stickers helped me to celebrate my progress. Apparently, I'm 8 years old.

Stickers helped me to celebrate my progress. Apparently, I’m 8 years old.

But I did it.

And now I know I can apply the same approach to writing. I went back and re-read my notes and outline. I’m pretty happy with a lot of it, but I’ve also forgotten a lot of the direction I was heading. I’ve been intimidated by the historical research I need to do. Intimidated by the character sketches and plot points.

No more. It’s time to at start by walking, not just talking about it. So it will start with dividing the work I need to do into one month chunks, researching one key topic at a time, then developing character sketches, then moving on to those plot points.  I won’t do it if I allow the intimidation to stall me or if I try to do everything at once.

I know today won’t be my last half marathon (not quite ready to commit to a full marathon yet). I am thankful for how it has prepared me to go after the biggest goal of my life.

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Chiacchiera

I texted a friend this morning and said that I didn’t feel like posting this morning. It didn’t feel right. My reason for not wanting to post is more layered and multi-faceted than I can hope my book will be. It all comes down to chiacchiera.

Chiacchiera (very loosely, it is pronounced something like K-ya-K-yeh-ra) is one of my favourite Italian words. I love how hard it is to pronounce – to get your tongue around the mix of consonants and vowels and consonants pretending to be vowels. My sister and I were trying to pronounce it properly – in a public place no less – and we sounded ridiculous.

It basically means chatter. Someone who is a chatter box is a chiacchierona. To sit down for a good gab session is to have “una bella chiacchierata”. For me, the expression evokes an image of catching up with an old friend, giggling over coffee and feeling better about the world.

But chatter can also take over your head and distract you – it can stop you in your tracks. It’s what anxiety feeds on.

In the last few weeks, I have been applying myself to writing and researching like I’ve never before. I’ve been so pleased with the results, achieving a few goals and really feeling good about my direction. And then the chatter started. Some of it challenged my technical ability. I could fight that with more research. The other stuff was much harder. It involved some of my worst fears. It was made up of the thoughts that, if I listened to it for too long, I would curl up in the fetal position, preferably while hiding under the bed.

Luckily, I’m married to a smart guy (although hearing him try to pronounce chiacchierata is hysterical). He’s someone I can tell my biggest fear to, and although he may be thinking it, he won’t say “Well, I always suspected you were a little crazy.” Instead he pointed out that when our challenges are the loudest, we are likely on the verge of a break through.

So instead of taking up drinking, I will hold on to my pen. Instead of watching TV this week, I will read and and add to the long list questions and pieces I need to research.I won’t pack up the multiple notebooks and I will only procrastinate for a short time as I try to find my favourite pen. It starts with this act of defiance against the chatter – writing a post even when it doesn’t feel right and when it appears that all is wrong with the world.

Today, I’m heading to my mom and dad’s. In the midst of the labour my dad has intended for me and the eating, I’m looking forward to a long chiacchierata and hopefully inspiration for next week’s post.

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