It’s been awhile, slowly making my way back. I’m not even sure where to start but it feels like a good time to make some space for writing again.
Let me get you up to speed, and maybe in the process it will help me feel a little more organized. One can hope.
The last year has been a bit of a whirlwind. Heart Strides continues to grow, thanks to all of you, your support is appreciated beyond words. I also left my part-time position with Another Mother Runner last Spring, grateful for all of the amazing memories I shared with them and continue to make. Then in Fall I decided to take a leap of faith and return to school. Of course one thing I didn’t think about at the time is that I’m old enough to be the mom of most of my classmates. When you make a reference in class and realize that most of your classmates weren’t even born yet, well, that takes a little getting used to.
28 years ago. Yep. I did the math three times.
And right now in this moment I’m in the thick of it, which has me scrambling for some clarity. I’m in this grad program for Mental Health Counseling at Naropa. I’m only in my second semester and it has already proven to be a wild ride, personally, spiritually, socially… you name it.
As most of you know, I’d like to merge both paths. Bringing Heart Strides and my experience in school together, finding new ways to offer support. I’m also using this time to do some challenging personal work, to continue to learning, to grow during a time in my life when most have already figured out who they are, and of course find strength in myself. Which brings me to my next thought.
Over the last year I have had the pleasure, and honor, of meeting some pretty amazing women, both in life and virtually. I continue to be amazed by their grit and grace as they forge their own paths, finding ways to live life to the fullest and help others along the way.
For as much strength as I’ve witnessed I’ve also seen fear, in myself and others. Feelings of not ‘enough’. Sometimes not being enough and sometimes feeling there’s not enough for everyone. We back down, move aside and make ourselves small. To which I grapple with this morning because I’ve always believed that there is enough to go around, that we are all deserving and to claim your space, all of it – don’t be quick to give it to someone else, they won’t know what to do with it, its not theirs to begin with.
Maybe I’m being naive, or gullible in some regard. But in my heart of hearts I do believe that we can all get where we want to go… together. I’ve seen it happen, no doubt you have too. We lift each other up, we’re generous, brave, and bold. But, we’re not always true. Maybe I need this reminder more than I need to remind others, no doubt I’m in the muddy waters right now, wrestling with something that I can’t quite put my finger on. I chalk it up to growing pains.
I guess I’m here to gently remind myself, and you if it feels right, to be true to our hearts. Live beyond our dreams, the right people will always show up to cheer you on and lend a hand. Trust your gut and bring chocolate and Kleenex on those days that feel more than challenging.
I can’t even say what stirred all of this up in me. It could be all of the personal sharing I did in class last week when we talked about disability in counseling. Maybe it was when I had this moment of hesitation, when I wanted to share a personal perspective in class. This is where it gets challenging for me sometimes. Being on both sides of the fence – a mom of a child with a disability and a woman that wants to help others through life transitions – it can kick up the dust a bit. It is an awesome place to be, so much opportunity for exploring and discussing but sometimes my heart gets snagged on a memory, or someone else’s judgement and I need to hit reset.
So back to class, there I sat, raising my hand and putting it down multiple times all while questioning why I wanted to share in the first place. Was it personal gain or was there a nugget in there that needed to be shared? Finally I said “screw it” and put my hand up with such a strength I thought I was going to touch the ceiling. In that moment I realized it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t share a piece of my story. I spoke transparently about my personal experience and even though it was appreciated by my classmates I still wondered if I should have shared so openly. Vulnerability can be empowering but still…I was feeling kind of naked.
I grappled with it a bit. We all have stories, we all deserve the space to share, honoring our experiences. Why did I hesitate to share? It was partly because the professor glanced over me so I took it as a sign to put my hand down, maybe it wasn’t the right time to share. But the urge to share wouldn’t fade, I repeated and edited what I would say over an over in my head, wanting to keep it short as to not take up too much time.
Then, the urge was beyond me, my hand shot up with such strength, when a classmate who watched me struggle, said “Denise has something to say“. In was in that moment I realized that sometimes I have to be persistent, allow someone to help me find my voice, take the risk and raise my hand.
So I shared and life went on. After we left the room a classmate pulled me aside, and before they could talk I started to doubt myself, apologizing for taking up too much space in class. They stopped me mid-sentence and said “No, do not apologize.” Their eyes welled up, “I can’t even explain it, maybe someday we’ll talk about it in depth but I just wanted to thank you because what you said went right to my heart. This morning I woke up and asked the universe for a sign for something that I was struggling with and I was feeling hopeless. Then you started talking and it was like you were in my head, I still can’t believe it.”
I gave them a hug promising a coffee date soon so they could share more if they’d like. I also thanked her, explaining that I hesitated because in some ways what I was going to share didn’t quite make sense to me but it had a force of its own and wasn’t going away until I did.
Raise your hand. Put yourself out there. It hasn’t been an easy lesson for me, one I’m still learning, but I appreciate these moments more than not lately. When I’m not held back by fear – I love, like really love, the messy bits. The times when I lean into my heart, trust my gut and take a risk. That’s where life is. Of course sometimes I want to go around it because dang, it can be hard, but when I get brave and move through it, wow. Just wow.
Before I ramble on too much I’m going to stop here, because in a round about way I think this is where it all ties together. Raise your hand, help someone else raise their hand, give thanks, cheer each other on, we are all in this together, connected by threads of life. When those threads come together we become stronger. There is enough. You are enough.
Thank you for being here, I look forward to connecting again soon. Until then, if you haven’t already, dust off your dreams, raise your hand, reach out, be generous – there are so many good things out there waiting for you. For all of us.
I’ll be here, heering you on from my sun-room, coffee in hand, still in my pjs, pondering pancakes and very excited to hear what you are up to, where will 2018 take you? Where do you want to go? How can we help each other get where we want to go? Whether you are taking your first step or smack dab in the middle of your dreams, I’m with you every step of the way, and you can count on me to mess up, to get tangled in fear and doubt and then… find a way out, to higher ground, reaching for a hand to pull me up and offering hand to help another.
Saying yes to life at every age.