Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Deep Thoughts on the Run: There Are No Accidents

Although I recently wrote a post about being more mindful on the run, I'm not practicing what I'm preaching. I've been thinking about pretty much everything except for running and lately, my thoughts have been all over the place.

Deep thoughts ahead, so buckle up for the ride. It could get bumpy.

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to the concept of fate. Do you believe in predetermined destiny? Can you influence your path in life? Does anything happen by chance? Or is everything in life already laid out for you?



My diagnosis in December with rheumatoid arthritis certainly has changed what I thought was my path in life. I was cruising along as a nurse practitioner, mom, wife, runner, and aspiring yogi. My boys are almost grown and my husband and I were talking plans for the future, hoping to eventually move to a waterfront home. You know I love me some water. I was planning on chasing my final running goal, which was to BQ (my BQ time is now 4:10) and run Boston. I picked a flat marathon in the north woods (Grandma's) which was almost a guarantee that I'd crush my goal.

Woody Allen once said: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." Yep, put your goals and dreams out there and watch what happens. Control freaks need not apply. Do you think your life is under your control?

Just when you think you can relax, the proverbial rug gets pulled out from under you, a reminder that your life really isn't under your control. Do you believe that life is a series of chance events? Or do you believe that life is mapped out for us? Does anything in life happen by chance?

As I continue to process my diagnosis of RA, I ask: was it my destiny to get RA? It certainly was in my genes. My grandma had RA. So if this was my path in life, was marathon training really a way to prepare me for a much tougher race, that of living with a chronic illness?

I find it so ironic that over the last couple of years, while I've worked so hard on making myself a warrior, a mentally tougher runner, I am now facing my most challenging race. After I fell apart while running my first marathon, I made a vow never to let that happen again. If I was meant to get this disease, have I actually been training for my RA journey?

All this time, by signing up for those races, I had no idea what was ahead of me. Mind-blowing stuff.

After I ran my worst race ever, I licked my wounds (it took me a few years) and made some big changes in my life, both on and off the road. I never wanted anything more than to show that marathon who was the boss. Actually, I really wanted to show myself that I was the boss of me. That I could do hard things. That my lifelong battle with anxiety was going to come to an end.

Even though I beat that marathon-phobia with marathon #2, my mental toughness journey continued to be work in progress. There were 2 more marathons, both with their own challenges, and I prevailed.

Fast forward to today. As I push myself through some tough training runs, I've been thinking about this journey a lot. Can it be that all this mental training I've done wasn't really so I could run a few marathons? Was it instead in preparation for a much tougher journey?

It's funny how things work out.

As I've adjusted to my new normal, I've given this concept of inevitability a lot of thought. Sure, initially, I was sad, I was angry, heck, I was mad as hell! Now I've accepted this diagnosis and I've integrated it into my psyche. That's not to say that I don't go back to being angry or sad. It's on those days that I use that mental toughness to push through my emotions, through my day, and through some very tough runs. I don't quit.

I finally understand how easy it could be to fall into the trap of giving up when living with chronic illness. I wake up some mornings so stiff I feel like I need an oil can. Going down the stairs is painful. My hands and feet are swollen and tight. There are days that running is the last thing I feel like doing. Staying in bed? That sounds so appealing, but that's not who I am. I can do hard things. So I get up and I move. I dig deep and I go. Just like I do when I'm hitting the wall in a race or on a tough run.

And yet, is where I'm at where I was meant to be? Whether or not you believe in fate, I've been training for this race for a while. And sometimes I need to share my deep thoughts. Thanks for indulging me.

Tell me what you think! Do you believe in predestination, in fate, that your life is laid out for you? That everything you are doing now is part of some plan? Do you have deep thoughts on the run?

I'm linking up with Tuesdays on the Run aka Marcia, Erika, and Patti and Coaches Corner aka Debbie, Susie, Rachel, and Lora.






75 comments :

  1. I can't answer your question;I ponder these concepts daily and believe that there are no definitive answers, that the journey and our responce IS the point. Yes, I believe that your running journey was preparation for your unexpected encounter with RA. As you so profoundly note in your title: there are no accidents. Fate? I'm not so sure, but everything in our path has meaning. Sometimes we recognize it outright, other times it is revealed later.

    All your disappointments and set-backs, each time you overcame defeat and doubt, all made you stronger and able to deal with your chronic illness. Your tenacity and stubbornness made you a warrior. You will prevail. And continue to inspire.
    [Insert heart emoticon here].

    Every morning when I come to my yoga mat for my practice, I envision the poses you posted some time ago. Along with all else, you are a teacher. Your reach is long and far on so many levels. Indulge you? Your sharing is a gift.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As always Connie, I so appreciate your support and kindness. It's funny--ironic, actually--just when I run out of things to write about, life throws me a curve ball. This was a big one and has given me a lot to share. I'm grateful for everyone who is still reading and hanging in there with me!

      Delete
  2. I both do & don't believe in destiny. I think the choices we make often shape our future, but of course, some things, like a chronic illness, are not caused by our choices. Bad things happen to good people, but the real trick is to try to concentrate on what we want, not what we don't want (easier said than done). It's dog training 101: ignore the bad stuff, reward the good stuff.

    I do absolutely believe that running teaches us so much, and completely changes how we view ourselves and what we're capable of. So many parallels between what we learn via running and their applications to everday life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you 100% that most things are not within our control. It's how we deal with them that is something we can control. Could we be training for something bigger than a race? It's definitely food for thought or a late night conversation over wine!

      Delete
  3. I am totally on the fence about fate and creating ones destiny. Some days, I know for a fact that things will go my way; I set expectations, and reach them, overwhelmingly most of the time. Then there are times, where I feel as though I've reach a point because the universe had some weird twist intended for me.

    I cannot possibly control everything around me, but I can control myself, to a point. That is where the indecision lies.

    I am a H-U-G-E biomechanics freak; I LOVE everything about movement of objects and bodies in space in sports. Hockey has to be the most fascinating spot in terms of biomechanics to me; Bodies in space + blades + puck + stick + ICE?! + TINY GOAL?! It's INSANE. This is where my calculation of fate comes in: Everyone controlling what they can, until they simply cannot because of outside sources or objets. Forget about all of the bodies for a moment, and consider just one player on the ice with a puck and a stick. That player has to maneuver on ice, on thin blades, to produce movement. The player also has to handle a slippery puck with an extended appendage, while negotiating movement. Then there's the ice. One mound, knick or crack could change the outcome of the player's intention. Their reaction to an undesired outcome is completely dependent on their level of skill (not fate) and their talent (fate). Now add all of the other bodies. WHAT?! But then? The right blend of skill and talent + one FLAW (we're not even going to discuss the reasons why this might happen! FATE) = the ultimate goal. Fate has to be in there somehow, but it's pretty unclear WHERE and HOW.

    That's pretty much how I see the World in terms of fate: You can control yourself for the most part, but nothing around you. I'm sorry for nerding the hell out, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love nerding out and so you were speaking my language! Any time, my friend!

      Delete
  4. I believe life is open for interpretation. We can make the most of it...or not. We can be victims....or warriors. I know I've done much harder things in my life than finish marathons. I remind myself of that often in those late miles. I just learned last weekend that my younger sister has had RA for years. Who knew?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you that there are much harder things in life than marathons. But the marathons have really helped me with those tough things. We learn a lot from the road.

      Delete
  5. Really interesting post! I think that some things are fate and out of our control but we control how we react to them and deal with it. And it's really been amazing to me how much the skills we learn in running have a wider application to the rest of our lives, like you mentioned with the mental toughness preparing you to deal with chronic illness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just think it's all so interesting--it's as if I've been preparing for this my whole life.

      Delete
  6. I love it when people write deep, meaningful posts and I love reading yours because you're a fascinating person and I feel lucky to be able to get to know you better through your words! I used to fight my anxiety disorder, and it was exhausting. I remember growing up, I was told to "pray" it away in the name of Jesus or something and because God is greater than fear, the anxiety was supposed to just disappear. Well, it never did, and then God "disappeared" instead.

    What I'm trying to say is that I don't know what drives the little steering wheel on my life ship but I have a hunch it's never just one thing. It's not God, it's not fate, it's not anxiety, it's not Suzy Slane. The question brings me back to the good ol' serenity prayer, a prayer that doesn't demand a cure or an answer but rather promotes life *management*. An alcoholic is forever an alcoholic. I will always have an anxiety disorder. You'll always have RA. But these things won't control our lives, as long as we have serenity to accept them, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    HA! I dunno, man. Everything I wrote could be a bunch of bullshit to everyone else, and that's okay. It works for me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't do superficial very well. So deep thinking it is. I don't think it's BS at all. Works for me too!

      Delete
  7. This is something that I ask myself all the time. I'm not really sure if I 100% believe in fate or creating your own destiny.

    I notice that with me, when something is out of my control, I tend to focus on what I can control, whether that be diet, or work, or exercise, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's really the best thing to do. Otherwise you are just spinning your wheels. Ah, life...

      Delete
  8. I learned long ago to not make a plan. Whenever I tried, it never went how I wanted. I'm working in a field I never knew existed when I graduated from college, and I moved to my second state after moving out of Massachusetts. I hate questions from interviews like "where do you see yourself in 5 years" because of this. I never saw myself living in Colorado before, and yet, here I am.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The last time I was asked this question, I had to be honest with the interviewer and tell them I didn't know where I'd be in 5 years. Nothing in my life has every gone according to my plan, so I just kind of roll with it.

      Delete
  9. I am not really sure if I believe in fate or think we have more power over our own destiny. Maybe our power is how we handle and respond to what fate and life hand us? Maybe if we did not have to work so hard to achieve our goals they wouldn't matter to us as much? Who knows but thanks for giving me something to think about today

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. It's not how much control we have over what happens to us, its how we control our reaction that's the key. That's what I've learned from all of this.

      Delete
  10. I do believe everything we do is a part of a greater plan, but I don't believe in predestined fate. I know we can't control everything that happens to us, but we can control where we go after it does.
    I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I think it's amazing you haven't given up and you still work for what you want and dream of the races and runs you'd still like to do.
    Sometimes when things happen to us, I've found its a great opportunity to take on new interests and hobbies. While I don't have RA, I just battled back from 4 1/2 year work injury and I know how tough the bad days can be. But looking back on it now, I had so many other opportunities doing other things that I wouldn't have if I had been on the same path as before.
    Hope you find those great opportunities, and keep with your great attitude and ambitions!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I'd really love to do is to back off on my job and write. I wish there would be an opportunity for me to do that. My husband would have a nervous breakdown if I did it tho.

      Delete
  11. wrote a really long comment, and then my "complimentary wifi" went out and I didn't know and it ate it.
    To summarize it: I don't believe in fate, I believe in the choice of how to react and the right to evolve as you learn to deal with a situation.
    And that I am proud of you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll get through this with a lot of help from my friends. Thank you, friend!

      Delete
  12. Wow, deep thoughts! As someone who likes to be in control of EVERYTHING, I have had to learn that its just not possible. I think some things happen by chance, some things are fate, and then there is also our response to the things that happen to us that drive what will come next. I also think that as runners we have prepared ourselves for handling some of the difficult things that life throws at us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's so hard to let go of control, isn't it? I'm grateful for running to help me stay the course through some of life's challenges.

      Delete
  13. You pose some interesting questions Wendy. I don't believe we show up on this planet with our lives completely pre-determined. I think there are so many paths in life and our choices help determine on which paths we end up. Then there are the curve balls that life serves up that are clearly out of our control, and in those instances it becomes all about how we choose to respond. And yes, your experiences up to that point (that curve ball) gives you a well to draw from - those experiences help to shape your attitude, your will, your ability to cope...and rise above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 100% agree. I believe there are things in life that are predestined, but it's how we deal with them that affect our future path.

      Delete
  14. Having received a diagnosis of RA two months ago, I'm wrestling with the same question, Wendy! I gave up running last year when I couldn't shake the pain in my feet (who knew?). While I've replaced it with walking and yoga, I am first and foremost a writer with a family to support. "Must carry on" is my new mantra. I'm just commenting here to let you know that your strength, determination, humility and humor inspire me and give me hope. :) Please keep blogging and sharing and asking the deep questions!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I cannot believe this. I keep hearing about so many of us receiving this diagnosis and I can't help but wonder why. Yep, we have no choice but to keep moving forward and doing what we can. Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, will do. Runs in my family, so my diagnosis wasn't too much of a surprise, but still...it bites.

      Delete
    3. It sure does! BTW, there are some really great, positive support groups on FB, if you are interested: Athletes Beating Rheumatoid Arthritis and Runners with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

      Delete
    4. I will definitely check them out. Thanks so much, Wendy!

      Delete
  15. I wonder about stuff like that a lot on runs too. Decisions I have made, things that have happened to me, and how it may all be connected.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Those are some deep thoughts ;-) I am no where in the same boat as you, but the past two weeks have really blind-sided me with this phantom bursitis. I was having an awesome year of running-injury free! And, WHam Bam Snap four days before the start line (and then again four days after). Maybe that was my fate? A chance for me to regroup and stay off my feet and out of the running shoes...although, my training was more on the conservative side than anything. It's frustrating when these things happen to those of who (theoretically) are doing everything "right." UGH. Maybe we need a Facetime fix soon.....and a group hug ;-) Stay strong!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fortunately, we'll have some real life Face Time very soon!

      Delete
  17. I think being a runner can prepare and help you in so many ways for REAL LIFE. I know I pull from my strength as an athlete to get though some of the toughest times in my life and just going out for a run can help with my anxiety or sadness or whatever. I'm not sure if we're predestined for a certain path or if we can choose - maybe it's a combination of both - whatever it is, running makes life better in every single way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No matter what happens, we always come around to that same conclusion! Curious...can you say the same thing about swimming or cycling?

      Delete
  18. Hi Wendy! Lots of deep thoughts today... and ya know... I'm just not sure. I do believe God has a plan for us and sometimes we are along for the ride. I don't know if our entire script is decided from the beginning though. But then I also believe that we can make the most out of what we have and therefore in some ways still transform our lives. I've said it before but the way you are dealing with this is truly an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julie! I'm not sure about all this either. But it came to me when I was running a tough run--and it's just crazy how things have turned out for me. What if I hadn't toughened up? Would I be laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself?

      Delete
  19. Love this post. Running is so different for everyone and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you. And running is SO personal.
    I'm building up my running again after taking a couple months off for injuries and one of the hardest things to accept is how much harder it is to hit the paces I want!
    I truly believe everything happens for a reason. What that reason is doesn't always seem clear at first - but you are such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your story :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not being able to run like I'm used to has been one of my biggest mental challenges. I'm learning to accept my limitations and instead of being so competitive (with myself), I'm embracing the inherent fun and the physical benefits that running gives me.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  20. Whether it's called fate or whatever, I do believe that everything happens for a reason...and always say we may never know why--and it's not for us to question it. Go forward fatefully AND faithfully, and know there is a much greater plan. Deep stuff, for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do question it sometimes. But I know I have no control over these things--that's all part of the process of accepting it, right?

      Delete
  21. I do believe things happen for a reason and that situations and people are brought into our lives when we need them. Acceptance is difficult sometimes for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love your post. The world works in mysterious ways, doesn't it? I definitely think that some things are meant to happen the way that they do, and that everything in life is a learning experience. I've had an up-and-down running journey and I think it was destined to be that way. You are always so open and real - thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tend to work a lot of stuff out here on the blog--sometimes I think I shouldn't publish everything I write!

      Delete
  23. hi
    very interesting and deep thoughts on running i really appreciate your hard work

    ReplyDelete
  24. I won't even pretend to understand all the mysteries of life. Why would a little boy be born with hemophilia, then as a teenager get infected with HIV from tainted medication and die at age 31? My brother was 13 months older than me. 23 years later I still don't have all the answers. He taught everyone who knew him to live life to its fullest, he made everyone feel better and laugh, even when he was hurting. He never played the "poor me" card - he was a warrior wrapped in a tiny package.

    On the other hand, I do think we have SOME control over the direction our lives take. How we take care of ourselves, the decisions we make, the friends we spend time with.

    The only thing we truly can control is how we respond when life doesn't go as planned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You hit the nail on the head. I see a lot of situations in my job where I think life isn't fair. And yep, it's how we deal with those things that make or break us.

      Delete
  25. These are indeed deep thoughts. I think circumstances happen, good and bad that help develop our character. Whether or not they were designed by fate, it's how we react and respond to them that shapes what's ahead of us. And you my friend have never faltered with the RA diagnosis - you just keep moving ahead and do the best with the situation you're in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, thank you! I do have my moments of weakness, but as I continue to stay strong and adapt, it's getting easier.

      Delete
  26. I can't even imagine all the soul searching you've been doing over the last few months. But yes. I believe everything happens for a reason and therefore believe you have indeed been training for this as you became a stronger runner. Mental toughness brought you across so many finish lines and will certainly carry you through this marathon as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, that Grandma's marathon was a tough one for me. Knowing I did the right thing didn't make it any easier! Glad we've got plans for next year.. giant muskie here we come!

      Delete
  27. I don't believe in predestination, but I do believe that things can work out in unexpected ways. This post made me think about the memes about training for "life" -- you thought you were training for marathons but all that training prepared you for this stage of your life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't even think about those but yes! you are so right.

      Delete
  28. Great post! I have had to do plenty of my own soul searching and lots of thinking on and off the road. Life is full of lessons , we have to be open to learn from them. You are a warrior in every way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of you when I was writing this. You've had your share of soul searching this year too!

      Delete
  29. I believe it's a bit of both. Our life's choices and how we react are in part due to our genetic makeup, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Truth! I come from a long line of anxious, worried people and I am no different. I wish I was.

      Delete
  30. I think about fate all the time. what if I had never taken the chance to go to the Netherlands? would I still be in the US? would I have had kids (I often regret not having children)? would I have had a different career (I often regret not really focusing on career)? What if I hadn't gone to the party the night I met my husband? I think about why I left Starbucks and was it the right decision and was it my fate to end up in the town I live in to go through some pretty rocky stuff work-wise to finally take a chance and learn a new trade? the thing is fate can change in a heartbeat. you could be well on your way to a BQ and be dx'd with RA. You could be a young woman with a full road ahead of you, just gotten married and thinking about having kids only to be in a terrible accident and left paralyzed from the waist down (my friend Patricia, also previously a runner). You can be a young woman who's passion is travel, just married and starting out in life as a working and responsible adult and be dx'd with terminal cancer (my friend Amanda). We deal with what we have been dealt and we have good days and bad days but we can still be warriors! sometimes we have to tweak our plans, and fate can always change - there may be real medical predispositions but what you do with your life is really what's important.

    your diagnosis is still fresh (in my opinion), it's hard to really work out all of the thoughts and feelings. just don't give up and don't give in. tweak if you have to and allow yourself to be pissed off about it or sad or whatever, but make it the best life possible. you owe that really to yourself and no one else, but making the best life possible can also inspire those around you and manifest itself into pure positivity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This was just the response I needed to hear. i'm just not good at rolling with the punches. It takes me a while to adjust. And adjust I will!

      Delete
  31. I believe things happen to make us better people/learn from something. If we don't apply meaning to things, what are we doing? Great job moving forward in the face of struggles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand now how hard moving forward can be! But I am so glad that I had all that experience of pushing through tough situations.

      Delete
  32. Great post Wendy. I believe that everything happens for a reason, both good and bad and how we deal with what happens is what determines our fate. BEing diagnosed with a chronic illness has to be extremely difficult, but how we deal with that is how we move forward for better or worse. You are so strong and really not allowing this to control you, that is your fate. Yes, you may have to make adjustments, but I believe you will still achieve what you want. You are a warrior.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so! I won't lie, it's still a work in progress. I get frustrated with my limitations, but I continually remind myself of what I can do.

      Delete
  33. Its really hard to face the reality when life doesn't go as we had hoped or planned. But the way that we go about tackling the challenges that we're handed says a lot about who we are as people. You have refused to let your RA diagnosis take over your life, even though you've had to make a lot of adjustments. Hopefully things will get easier for you sooner than later, and I'm sure that before you know it you'll be going after that BQ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's still a dream--we'll see how things play out.

      Delete
  34. If you were predestined for this journey, it is because, as a true warrior, you can lead other women through their own journey.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I can inspire one other person to push through adversity, that would make me very happy!

      Delete
  35. No, I think we make our own meaning. You were already picking your battle with mental toughness and anxiety. Now this is a new playing field for those battles. The Dalai Lama would say that your enemy is your friend, because you improve yourself by your struggles against your enemies. It's not a service your friend can provide for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so true. What's that saying? Hold your friends close, your enemies closer.

      Delete
  36. I'm really not sure I can answer that question either, but I'd like to think that you can influence your path in life! (At the very least, that's how I try to live mine.) I used to be (well, technically still am) super type A in the sense that I really like having a plan/schedule/routine since that's how I get the most done, but over the years, I've definitely had to learn to "roll with the punches" more, so to speak. I think you're inspiring a lotttt of people on your journey, so whether or not it was predetermined, I feel like you're doing a lot of good with it. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure how I feel about this either but I'm going to do the best I can to influence a good outcome!

      Delete