Finding the center

Song: “Catch My Breath,” by Kelly Clarkson (especially the version my kids sing
I remember the day when I changed, the day when life stopped being fun. It was the day I lost what is referred to in the film “Rise of the Guardians” as your center.
I was in third grade and was the tallest girl in school. I wore the same shoe size as my mom, if that’s any indication of my height. After being teased by a neighbor kid at the bus stop and the playground, I decided I had enough and I flipped him the ring fingers. Of course that’s not what everyone else saw and told the teacher. It began a long series of missteps in which being myself — clumsy, athletic, boastful, opinionated, forgetful, etc. — didn’t fit in with the world expected of me. In short, I spent two to three years of school getting in trouble. It wasn’t serious stuff, but it was enough for me to change who I was.
I have this Countdown to 37 challenge for myself. I haven’t done very well at it. You know when you try something on in the store and it fits perfectly but you know it’s not for you. I’ve been feeling that a lot about things in general. I lost my way.
Since my kids and I saw the “Rise of the Guardians” film, we’ve been reading the books the film is based on by William Joyce. The stories are rich with detail and adventure. I love how the chapter books have incorporated Joyce’s drawings. He’s an excellent artist.
These books had me thinking of my center, why am I where I’m at, what is it that I’m good at. I was more concerned of how to make that information useful so I can get back into my challenge.
To pinpoint the problem, I had to run away. Literally. Our family is now *knock on wood* healthy enough for me to run again on an almost daily basis.
My first few runs were with our beagle. He missed going outside during the super-cold months. I felt free again and I know he enjoyed stretching out his legs.
My long run was whatever I could get done in two hours. It ended up being 10 miles. It was during this run that I had an epiphany, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Between mile seven and eight my mind started to wander. It was great to be back out, but I had this sinking feeling in my chest. Like something wasn’t right. And then memories popped into my head like some train passing by, as a quick sequence of one “failure” after another: Failing to keep certain family members from harm, failure to use my gifts wisely, failures as an employee, mother, wife …
It all hit like a ton of bricks. I stopped. My eyes started to water up as the wind whipped my hat-less head. Snow was coming down as if someone had just thrown a handful of confetti in the air — enough for you to see the snow but not enough to make you stop. I should have been freezing in my running tights and two layers of shirts. But all I could think about was not crying and that I was such a failure. I panicked. All I knew was that I needed to get home.
So that’s what I did. I ran home, feeling emotionally and physically drained but more at ease than I had in a while.
I finally figured out what happened as I was driving home to work a few days later. I found my center. Those instances weren’t exactly failures, nor were they successes. They were examples of when I didn’t trust myself. I let others down by not believing in my capabilities and stopping short of completing the task. It’s like running a marathon you’ve trained for and pulling out with two miles left. It’s the mentality, “I’m not going to win, so why run anyway?”
Because you can. It’s spring, a time of hope and new life. It’s move forward.

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