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When I look at the picture above I wonder- is that guy about to panic? Or perhaps he is about to stick out his tongue and try and make you laugh. It is unclear from the photo. The weather here in our area has been a lot more severe this winter than we have had in quite some time. It snowed. It stayed cold. It warmed up. It rained. It snowed again. It rained again. There has been ice and slush and mud. The wind (as always for us) picks up. The warmth flees every night with the sun. People were sick all over the world. Schools were closed. Then they were remote. Then they were both. Tensions about all kinds of extremely important things were not only present but amplified and stacked while everything else was and is going on. Cultural issues of race and politics have become unavoidable (and that is certainly not all bad). People have argued and sometimes it seems hard to listen or seems like no one is listening at all. A lot has been going on this winter and a lot has happened in the last few years. All of this has reminded me of something- I need to be more kind to myself.

I have been running since as early as I can remember- but I have been walking all my life too- and I forget sometimes all the different forms and phases moving over the earth has taken. Sometimes I’ve been able to easily go run more than 20 miles in the mountains and other times it has hurt to limp and hobble from the bed to the bathroom. When I think of all the stressful happenings around me I would love to go for a long run- but injuries sometimes persist and schedules and obligations get in the way and I have to remember that it is ok to just go for a walk. It is OK to run less and slower than I think I should or know I used to be able to. But saying that it is OK for me to not be invincible is different from feeling it or practicing it.

I personally do not suffer from Strava envy. I don’t look on Instagram to see what other people are wearing or what shape their bodies are in- but I still have my own internal standards and self-criticism and I can be pretty hard on myself. I fight my own memories of the past. I remember what running used to be and I struggle to accept that it is not that way currently. I need to be more patient with myself. I need to show myself some of the kindness and understanding I routinely try to give and show to other people.

I do not really feel like I have any secrets to accomplishing this. I am not sure I know how to be kinder to myself. And I am not suggesting I let myself off the hook all the time. I can use a good kick in the pants sometimes (whether in life or in running). Things do need to be done. Actions do need to occur. I may need to be the one to act myself. But I figure if I can be patient and kind with and to other human beings there must be a lesson for me to learn there about how to be more patient and kind with myself. None of us get to skip steps and cutting corners has a negative connotation for a good reason.

We are all on a journey. Whether you run, walk, or have a wheelchair I think it does not take a lot of years to realize that all those people who say, “movement is medicine” are right. I went for a walk today. I wasn’t feeling up to a run. It was nice to be hit in the face by the rain instead of all the problems in my life and the world. It felt like a welcome break. I’m really glad I did it. It’s a process. Perhaps tomorrow I will go for a short run- but either way, I won’t give up.

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