About The Running Therapist

A runner, writer, and therapist in training.

Day 3

Chi

I am thankful for my location.

One day, while in high school, I came home from a run and started a fight with my parents about our “stupid small town.” At the ripe age of 17, I was angry that I spent all of my life living in an unexciting place and I vowed to one day make it to the bright busy lights of a city.

It’s been a weird road, but I eventually got here.

There are times that I sorely miss the rolling prairies or the African mountains, but I’ve come to see that right now I am supposed to live under the glow of the city lights. When I came home I knew that I need to move to a big city, even just for a few years, because I had craved this experience for so long that I had to fulfill it.

Sure, it’s pricey and crowded at times, but I love it. I love walking down Michigan or State at night and being part of the stream of people. I like that there is so much to do that I am overwhelmed with possibilities. I like that it feels foreign one block and like home the next.

I don’t know how long I will be here, but I know that I am here now and that is what is meant to be.

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2

I am thankful for the ebbs and flows of life.

One year ago I spent my days reading, running and watching people from a shiny slab of marble outside my host family’s house. Most of the vegetables I ate where tomatoes and onions, cleaning my house meant sweeping piles of dirt and I calculated baths by the brownness of the well water.

I miss that life.

Today I made a soup, pumpkin bread and glazed pears. I drank delicious red wine in a loft apartment while eating said pears with lavender ice cream and discussing venture capitalists. I read and run, but took a steaming shower.

It’s different, but it’s a good life.

I am thankful for what I had and what I have.

niger

30 Days of Gratitude, part 2

Happy All Saints Day, loved ones.

The month before my 30th birthday, I decided to do 30 days of gratitude to remind myself of all the blessings in my life. All six of my readers seemed to enjoy my little thankful project and it was a good exercise in staying present, so I am going to do it again in the month of the greatest holiday, Thanksgiving.

This time, though, I am going to only post one thing I am thankful for each day and I am hoping to find it buried in the stress and crappy emotions. I want to understand that my life, in all situations, is truly a blessing.

So, my dear ones, let’s begin.

I am thankful for new friends. 

A week ago, I woke up in panic. The winding down of the year is often a parade of events only meant to be celebrated with others. Who would I be with? Where would I go? What if I didn’t have an answer to these questions and I could prevent the ensuing gulf of loneliness?

It was a silly thing to think when one of my dearest friends was right beside me and we had a whole day of exploring planned, but I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that she would leave and it would just be me again.

Until, I realized it wouldn’t.

I moved to Chicago knowing just two people, one a PCV from Niger and the other an acquaintance from South Dakota. I consider both now good friends and additionally I’ve worked really hard to meet new people and build a solid social life. I attended Meet Ups, went to events where I didn’t know anyone, asked friends to hook me up with people they know in Chicago and said yes to every invitation. Making friends at 30  in a new city is really not that easy; most people already have solid social circles to let someone new in takes courage and vulnerability.

But I’ve done it and I have a social calendar that keeps me fairly busy. Sure, long and deep connections take time, but I may be on the way to that. I’ve come to understand that loneliness is often a choice – I don’t have to be. I pack my calendar with things because I know it takes effort and time, but sometimes I need to stop, if only for a moment.

This morning I was frazzled. I had not been home one night this week because of social engagements and I had plans for lunch this afternoon and a party this evening, plus another dinner tomorrow with friends. All I wanted was to have a cup of coffee and read.

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I often forget to stop and see that my stress and annoyance is actually a truly amazing thing. I should be so fortunate to have friends and people who want to spend time with me. This was my whole goal in moving here and I’ve done well.

Yet, I don’t have to say yes all the time. I can still have some extra time for me and still feel like I have companions. So, for just 30 minutes, I drank my coffee and read before running off to lunch. I had a nice meal with a friend, but I also got a bit of time to take care of myself.

I am blessed.

 

Doing it right

I have this suffocating fear about doing the wrong thing.

Am I in the right city?

Am I on the right career path?

Am I wearing the right outfit?

Am I reading the right book?

I am constantly swimming in this pool of panic that lives in my head. I know, I know, there is no one right path and to live that way can be limiting, but these thoughts plague all of my decisions and I look to vain things for validation.

But sometimes I have a moment of clarity. I realize that all I have is enough and that no matter what choices I make I am more than right, I am me.

I haven seen Kieara in three years, the last time days before I left Lesotho. She came to Chicago this weekend and it was amazing. It did not feel like three years or major life events were between us, just two friends who find similar struggles and joys. We toured Chicago, ate our favorite foods, took pictures, shopped and visited high places. We talked about dating, jobs, family, old friends and trying to find our way in this world. She even helped me fix my bed, making it more adult. I was so sad to see her go, I cried a day before she was to depart.

As I left my office this evening, the darkening sky reminded me that she was go and I was to continue on with my life.

Maybe living the right life means that every few years you get a couple days with an old friend. Maybe living the right life means keeping good company who say, “I think this is good for you.” Maybe it means just making sure the good people stay in your life, no matter how long you go in between visits.

If that’s the case, maybe I am doing OK after all.

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30/30

A new decade, new blessings. If the first day is any indication, 30 will be great.

I am thankful for my health.

I am thankful for my job.

I am thankful for my roof and the food I have.

I am thankful for my wonderful friends.

I am thankful for my amazing family.

I am thankful for grace.

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