Running Just to Be Me

As a veteran and a current military spouse, I know that the ability to remain flexible and open-minded is the key to survival in a world that constantly shifts.  Over a year and a half ago I was brought to Florida.  It was not by choice.  I was a very unhappy person.  I remember the day when my husband called me at work to tell me that it was official… we were moving to Florida.  I just hung up the phone and cried.  I could not believe that I was going to have to leave behind my family and friends and move all the way across the United States!  Needless to say, I would have been happy if they sent us to Alaska (that would have been about the same distance I suppose), but I was not having it with this Florida gig.  For one thing, I would choose cold, snowy weather over hot, humid weather any day.  Second, I am not a fan of big, ugly, nasty bugs.  Oh, I also don’t like the idea of snakes and alligators wandering through my yard!

It was a very depressing goodbye.  A tearful goodbye to one of my favorite towns.  Goodbye to the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Goodbye to a wonderful school to work at.  Goodbye to all of the parks and museums.  Goodbye to the quaint, little coffee shops that I adore.  Okay, you get the picture.  Saying goodbye sucked.

I know I did mention something about being flexible and open-minded.  I tried to think about the positive aspects of moving:  being able to buy a house, exploring new places, making new friends, actually being able to swim in the ocean without a wetsuit, wearing flip flops and tank tops year round, etc.  So, for the first few months, I focused on those things.  I even found a teaching job to keep me busy.  However, it wasn’t soon until I realized that there was a void I couldn’t fill.   To make a long story short, I was unhappy and didn’t know how to turn it around.  I couldn’t quite make the connections I needed to make.  I had my husband and my girls, but I needed something separate; I needed something that was just me.

Then, nearly a year later, I made a decision.  I told myself that I would once again become involved in Team in Training.  My goal:  to run a marathon.  Not only did I run a marathon and raise money for cancer research, but I was once again doing something I enjoyed and I was doing it for myself.  The added bonus was that I made great friends along the way.

I reflect back to this trying time because of what I did today.  Well, what do I do most days?  I run.  The different thing about today’s run was that I finally had a realization.  Today I realized that am lucky because I found my passion.  Not only did I find something that I enjoy doing, but I found a great friend who enjoys the same thing.  When my alarm went off this morning I was really hoping that I could just turn it off and forget the morning run.  Not that I didn’t want to run, but I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  However, that wasn’t an option for me since my friend was going to be at my house in 15 minutes.  When she arrived, she told me that she almost sent me a text at 2 am to tell me that she would be too tired for a run (since she was obviously still awake).  Yet, there we were, standing in my driveway, putting on our gear.  That’s when I realized that I am even more lucky that I had previously thought.  I have this friend who will push me forward and get me going in the right direction.  When I moved to Florida, I thought the world as I knew it would never be the same.  And it isn’t.  It shifted.  Yet, with flexibility and an open mind, I was able to regain my sense of belonging.

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