Another hurdle jumped!

Today is a very special day for me, not because it’s my birthday, (which it actually is), but because after several failed attempts, I have finally made it to week 7 of the Couch to 5k training program I’ve been using. I’ve still got two more weeks in the program, but this is the farthest I’ve ever managed to make it. So, to celebrate my birthday, I decided to do something that I once believed impossible: I went for a solid 25 minute jog.

I know that to those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile this doesn’t sound like anything new, but it is. I’ve been doing interval training on and off for about the last year, but until this point, my longest, no break jogging streak was about 20 minutes. An additional 5 minutes doesn’t sound like anything impressive, but believe me, it can feel like an eternity.

I admit, I am slow jogger. My pace seems so slow that I hate calling myself a “runner”, because it feels like a lie. At this point, I consider a good “run” if manage a 13 minute mile. Speed, to me, is not important. Yes, I could probably run an 11 minute mile, but that’s as far as I would get. If I slow down and pace myself, I can go so much farther. I would rather slow down and power walk 5 miles than kill myself running 1. Maybe this isn’t the best tactic for a zombie apocalypse, but I’m not worrying about that right now. Eventually, I’ll start pushing for more speed, but for now, endurance is my focus.

Why endurance? Because I need it to be able to push through the bad days. When I’m running at my slow pace, I’m not just training my body, I’m training my mind as well. It takes a lot of effort for me to hold back and conserve my energy for a long run. It only took me about 30 years, but I am finally learning self control and patience, which I am able to use in other aspects of my life.

If it really is all about the journey, I’d rather take the slower route. Here’s to another year of fighting!

Here’s to the hidden paths

One of the ways I combat the pain from fibro is through art. I don’t react well to pain medications, so I do what I can to get through the bad days, which sometimes includes losing myself in my art. I’ve never really considered myself as an “artist”, I think I’m more of a “creative gypsy” (yes, I made that term up), since I tend to wander from medium to medium. Pastels, water colors, crochet, cross stitch… I’ve tried my hand at a wide variety of hobbies in my quest for creative expression.

Lately, I’ve been painting, which is something I haven’t done in nearly two years. This isn’t unusual for me; I’ve been known to go a year or even several before picking a hobby up again. This time, though, it’s different; I didn’t pick my brush up in order to escape the pain. I picked it up because a two year old boy asked me to.

I guess I need to fill in some back story here. In order to keep myself from becoming a grumpy old troll again, I babysit, when I can. I’ve been watching this little fella for about a year now; I’ve seen him grow from a toddling baby into a rough and tumble little boy, and I have loved every minute of it. He’s at that funny age where children latch on to something and obsess over it. They want to watch the same movie, hear the same song or read the same book over and over and over again, until you think your head will explode if you have to endure it one more time…

Well, D’s obsession happens to be construction equipment. This kid can, at two years old, name more heavy machinery than anyone I’ve ever known. As a matter of fact, he often talks about machines that I’ve never even heard of.

We often color or draw together when I watch him and he always asks me to draw things for him, a doggy, a kitty… Usually it’s just simple stuff, which is great, because I really can’t draw, (there’s a reason all of my art up to this point has been abstract). So, anyway, not long ago, D suddenly asks me to draw an excavator. My mind went totally blank. Eventually, I managed to draw a box with wheels and an arm with a scoop on the end of it, D approved and the mission was accomplished.

Not long after, D’s mom told me that because D loved that (hideous) little drawing so much, she wanted to put it on canvas or something to hang in his room. It was at this point that I decided I needed to at least try to come up with something better; I really didn’t want my name attached to that awful doodle. So, I set out to draw the best darn construction equipment that I possibly could.

That, ladies and gentleman, is how my very first commissioned art work ended up consisting of a bulldozer, an excavator and a dump truck. It’s certainly not the kind of work I dreamed I would sell, but if I’m honest, I never expected anyone to ever want to pay me for my scribbles.

As it turns out, I can draw! Who knew? I’ll never be asked to do sketches for an anatomy text book or anything, but I bet I could illustrate a children’s book. How cool would that be?

I realize that on the surface, this post has basically nothing to do with fibromyalgia or dealing with a chronic illness. I shared it because I wanted to share what I’ve learned. I know I’m always talking about fighting on and not giving up, but this experience showed me that I had, in fact, given up on some things: my dreams. I’ve been so focused on getting healthy and beating this disease that I couldn’t see anything around those goals. If anyone ever asked me what I would after I achieve these goal, I wouldn’t know what to say. I’m not saying that those aren’t good goals, they’re still at the tippy top of my priority list, but I’ve come to see that I can be more.

A two year old child took me by the hand and showed me a path for my life that I hadn’t even seen. He has made me realize that there is always more to learn and that just because our original dreams are no longer possible, we should never stop searching for more.