Stubborn Hope Begins In the Dark

Meditations in MotionHope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” – Anne Lamott

Time for some truth-telling.

Recently, I have been struggling mightily. It shows up in my running. Several times during a run, I felt like I could give it up completely, forever, and immediately and never look back.

Physically, I’m fine. My hubby (and running partner) and I have been running more miles each week and my comfortable pace has gotten faster than it has been in years. My legs feel excellent; my lungs are strong.

Mentally, I’m a mess.

Not every time, but I never know when it is going to strike, a feeling of panic, an irrational fear that I just can’t do it, whatever “it” is.

Twice in the last two weeks, I have dissolved in tears in the middle of a run, leaving my poor bewildered husband to wonder what is happening.

I want to tell myself, “Shape up! You have so many blessings. Get a grip!” Or, I want to say “You are a good runner. You have done this so many times in the past. You got this.

But what I think is, “You can’t keep up. You won’t be able to do this. You might as well stop.

I need some hope and I need it now.

Luckily, as Queen Anne says in her quote, hope begins in the dark.

It presently appears to be fairly dark in my running life.

Meditations in Motion

Yes, growth often begins in the dark – a seed underneath the soil, a baby in the womb. Hope in a difficult time.

When feelings of despair begin to show up like ominous clouds on the horizon in my mind, I remember the last part of the quote. And I feel the first tender green sprouts of hope beginning to push through the dark soil into the light.

I am a big believer in “fake it until you make it.

I am also unreasonably stubborn.

Putting one foot in front of the other until the magic returns is my plan. I will walk, maybe with tears running down my face, if I need to walk. I will slow down. I will run solo, if that’s what it takes. I will run without a watch.

Meditations in MotioinWorking at it” is like medicine, even though it may be a bitter pill at times.

Working at it” is what we do every time we step out the door with our running shoes laced up and our hands poised to hit “start“.

Working at it” is second nature to runners. When we work at it, we are moving forward, toward a goal. We work through injuries, through ageing, we even work through a crisis of confidence.

We know from experience that one day, we will be running downhill with the wind at our back and the sun just beginning to shimmer over the horizon. Like magic, the feeling of strength, of confidence, of moving easily with our God-given bodies will be there waiting for us.

If we don’t give up.

So I won’t give up.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

90 comments

  1. yes, I call them meltdowns. They strike out of the blue, probably a result of thinking of the future possibilities and unknowns. Fighting the enemy I can’t see. I fainted before from panic attacks so…. that way lay dragons.
    I love Anne Lamott. I have several books and her book on writing was one of my favorites. She is brave enough to show fragility.
    you know, short of going to a “home for the very very nervous” (Mel Brooks high anxiety) , we have little choice but to go onward. One foot in front of the other. Me walking, you running.
    LeeAnna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stubbornness carries us through those times when confidence is hard to find. I think the current situation has us all questioning things. We’re surrounded by things that are beyond our control. I’m sure you’ll figure this out Laurie. Besides, I’m looking forward to that report from when you run in Pittsburgh 🙂

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    • Ha! Yes, stubbornness must have served me well. I hang onto it! Yes! The Pittsburg marathon (or maybe the half) will have to wait until next May but I definitely want to do it!

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  3. It seems to me you’ve been broadsided by negative thoughts that you didn’t invite. Your running and writing have always showed great strength, and this post shows your determination coming to the surface. I pray you come through this stronger than ever.

    I hesitate to say this in a public place and will understand if you make no comment. A number of years ago, I had a friend who talked about being attacked by Satan. I was uncomfortable with it until she told of several instances. I don’t remember specifics, but she said it started with doubts in her mind that led to questioning her faith. Satan always overplays his hand, according to her. She asked God to remove her wrong thinking, and He did. Every time. I’m praying for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anne. The same thoughts have gone through my mind as your friend had. I appreciate your prayers. Once the negative thoughts come, I have trouble getting out of the downward spiral. I need to figure out how to push those thoughts out of my mind!

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  4. Instead of fake it till I make it, my mantra is go to bed, you’ll feel better tomorrow (and I almost always do). As you already know, depression is starting to knock at my door and my wife said the same thing about herself today. Really, how much bad news can we take. We’re still weeks away from *any* good news, and I think the good will blossom far slower than we need. My run tonight, which was hell because of the wind, was a lesson in mindfulness. I simply settled in to BE. It was something I was really missing, and I’m doing much better as a result. I find great solace in the knowledge that if I get tired I can walk, and eventually, I’ll feel good enough to run again. Plus, Bill could just go get the car.

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    • Go to bed is a good mantra too. Actually, I think that may be playing a part in my problem. I am having trouble sleeping lately. some nights I will get only 2 or 3 hours of sleep, then the next night, I sleep for 12 hours to make up for it. I feel good today because I had a good night’s sleep last night. I have to allow myself time to walk and just BE too.

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  5. Don’t forget you have all the traits of an excellent runner – resilience, focus, strength, you can visualize the goal. You can face any challenge if you stay mentally calm, adjust your pace and follow through. You have probably done this a hundred times. When the anxiousness and despair creep in remind yourself of these qualities you possess. “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela. Hang in there.

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  6. It is a scary time right now Laurie; as much as you want to feel that things will be normal again, things are iffy – that July trip to see your grandson WILL replace the April trip that you now can concede that Bill said might not be a “go” and the October trip to Morocco WILL indeed happen, but there is a niggling feeling it will not. There is too much up in the air and much as you want that carefree run, there is too much afoot to dismiss it and run off down the path without a care in the world. Perhaps as Spring unfolds, you will feel more like yourself. This is tough stuff – more so for you as you have family, your running group, a never-ending list of 5Ks that were anticipated but won’t happen … it is disheartening. I felt sorry for myself Palm Sunday as I anguished over whether to continue walking – I knew it would be safer to stay home, but I fought with myself and was upset, feeling sorry for myself by saying that I don’t ask for much, but let me continue what I like to do.

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    • Yes, I am missing our old “normal” life. I am hoping we have canceled all the trips that we are going to. Spring is a hopeful season. I love seeing the new life – the bunnies, baby squirrels, and baby birds, as well as the new leaves on the trees. I believe next week is supposed to be warm – this week was cold and gray. I guess we all have our moments of self-doubt and self-pity. We will get through this, Linda!

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      • We now realize we took our old “normal life” for granted didn’t we? I like Fall for the colors and crispness in the air after a hot and humid Summer, but Spring is a time for rejuvenation after a long Michigan Winter … and babies abound! We’ve had a crummy and gray week with snow twice and it is raining now, hopefully not morphing into freezing rain and I can get out tomorrow for a walk. Yes, we do have self-doubts Laurie and getting older does not mean we are always blessed with wisdom and courage along with wrinkles and gray hair. A year from now we’ll look back and hopefully be in a better place.

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      • We did take “normal” for granted. I just wrote today about how I can’t decide my favorite season in the woods. spring is wonderful – you get to see the forest coming alive again, but every season has its benefits. Today was windy, gray and cold. Not a good day to be outside for very long but tomorrow is supposed to be much nicer. We are doing our long run tomorrow – 12 miles. You are right, Linda – I think getting older has a lot to do with failing confidence. I see it in other areas other than running – cooking for a crowd for example. I hope we do look back at this time from a better place next year!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have always liked Fall for colors, but the precursor to nasty Winter. We have some very cold temps coming in and rain/snow showers. I hope it doesn’t freeze the buds and blooms on the flowering trees. I have been walking, even in the strong winds – the weather is a bit bizarre. I stayed off my computer a good part of the weekend (having pre-written some posts since I had some extra time last week) and I am trying to catch up on social media and here in WP – it takes me two days to catch. Reader has been hard to keep caught up lately – more posts.

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      • Oh no! I hope you don’t get a freeze too! I can’t even imagine snow at this time of year. Ugh! We have been having a lot of strong winds too. Bill and I have been sticking to the woods or in town where it is at least a little bit sheltered. I am so ready for some warm spring sunshine. Lots of gray days here. Hope you get all caught up, Linda.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. We all sometimes get hit with periods of doubt and despair. Don’t beat yourself up over it – it is a natural stress reaction, and this is a very stressful time. Let yourself feel it, and do what you need to do to bring yourself through it. It sounds like you have a plan already. Be kind to yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The weight of our current health crisis has become apparent to me during a couple recent runs. I felt particularly nostalgic one day this week while running an extremely familiar course for the first time since everything changed. The emotions were so out of place as I’m not normally that moved during a run.

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  9. I love that quote. Sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling. All we can do in times like that is to keep going, one small step at a time. You can do it. Sending a virtual hug your way and hope that you find yourself running downhill with the wind at your back and that sun shimmering on the horizon sooner rather than later x #WotW

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  10. I know what you mean Laurie. In the last week or so I find myself resenting the separation from family since this is mostly how we have been affected. I break down in tears because I am angry at the situation. I allow myself these moments but use gratitude to bring me back around. I have to remind myself that I am not perfect, nor will I ever be in this life time, but I am working on it.

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  11. It takes courage to really share how you are feeling at this time, Laurie. If your running is strong, perhaps it’s the underlying current of all that is transpiring in the world right now that is infiltrating your mind, causing you to feel an inner struggle. Praying this will pass for you, and hope will spring from the darkness. Blessings!

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  12. From someone who doesn’t run – my knees would not like it- I admire anyone who can go out and do that. I think at the moment everyone has at least one day a week where they want to give up, one step at a time applies to us all 🙂 You’ll find your mojo I’m sure.

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  13. You put into words what I am feeling right now. I don’t feel it when I’m running but as soon as I stop, it’s back. It’s there when I wake up. I have to keep telling myself this too will pass. We are both old enough to know that it will. Don’t give up. I’m not. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a lot of us feel the same way. It’s good to know I am not alone. You are right – we are old enough to know better days will come again. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  14. I’m sorry that you’ve been struggling. A lot of people are struggling right now. It’s important to let yourself feel those feelings, let those tears fall — but keep on doing the things that bring you joy! Feel it and try to move on Hugs, Laurie, as much as it seems like this will never pass, it will. It always does.

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    • I think you are right, Judy – a lot of us feel the same way. There are some good days and some bad ones. Thanks for the virtual hugs! I am starting your 21-day yoga tomorrow. That gives me something to look forward to! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Social distancing gets to people! So far it’s cost you several trips and races and time with grandchildren. No wonder you’re getting depressed. My suggestion is go a bit crazy. Invite a friend over for coffee—or a couple over for dinner—-or Chris and the boys over for a couple of days. I was going to say for a weekend, but that’s pretty meaningless these days. On nice days, work outside and call out to the neighbors. And if you don’t feel better, call your doctor. Let us know how it’s going

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  16. There’s always an answer where there’s hope. I remember coming across this beautiful quote that went something like – when everything in life is dark, you may feel you have been buried but you may have been planted. And I remembered that from the picture of the sapling and what you wrote. Hang in there!

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  17. I think we need to race. Without a race I don’t feel validated with my running. I always feel slow. I wonder how I ever won an award. Will it come back again when I start race? Or is it gone. Crates I’m getting older and the lay-off has been too long.

    Time will. I have doubts. I am a better racer than a runner. And a virtual race doesn’t work for me.

    Enough whining. I am healthy. Nothing else is really important.

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  18. I know you won’t give up, Laurie. “Working at it” is how I’m powering through a lot of things these days that have stopped coming naturally. The world is a heavy place right now, so moving through it is harder. Even though we still have so many blessings to count, it’s still a crazy time.

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  19. Is it possible that your physical exertion is unleashing emotions that you would otherwise be expending energy to repress? This is such a weird time for all of us, and there are so many unsuspected kinds of grief assailing us. If so, as bad as they feel, your emotional onslaughts while running might actually be a good thing. Sending you virtual hugs.

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    • I never thought about that, Jan. That is entirely possible. Yes, feeling the sad feelings may be a good thing. Thanks for the virtual hugs. I need them! 🙂

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  20. Just remember you have all of the traits of a great runner – focus, goal setting, resilience, endurance, you know how to stay mentally calm, you know how to adjust your pace even when the finish line seems to take forever to reach. Hang in there – you’ve got this!

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  21. I’m sorry to hear you are dealing with mental struggles. Have you thought about changing things up in your routine/hobbies? I’m wondering if trying to make things “normal” when things are far from normal right now could be aiding in the stress? I recently started doing the DailyBurn Live to Fail program with Jason. It’s strength building focused and normally I wouldn’t do its workouts because most average 40 mins and usually my interest in lifting can’t be kept for that long. Doing them with him (since he’s working from home and has an hour lunch) though has helped and as I’m gaining some upper body strength (I see baby biceps forming!) I’m growing more interested in the workouts and they don’t seem as long to me. I’m still running about 2x a week with my dad but I’m finding focusing on a different type of workout is helping me to not thinking about summer training, races, etc. until we know when those things will be normal again.

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    • The Daily Burn program sounds good, Tracy. I am missing taking Body Pump classes. I could do them online – our gym offers the online classes for free while they are closed and I could use Bill’s weights. I just haven’t gotten up the motivation to do it yet. I am missing seeing my biceps! 🙂 It’s been a month since I did any kind of strength workout. We have been running 6x week. Thanks for your good thoughts.

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      • Wow 6x a week!? I haven’t done that since I was in high school track and we had optional Saturday practices. I think the more seasonable temps plus the windiness lately has made me focus more on lifting too… if it was 65 or higher and sunny everyday I would likely be running more! Since I can’t train for anything besides virtual races though I figure I’ll train when the weather suits my liking more.

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      • I think we are running more often out of boredom! 🙂 We usually hit the trails on windy days, since it’s pretty sheltered in the woods.

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  22. It’s amazing to me that we all don’t burst into tears more often than we do. The frustration level of everything is off the charts. You’ll find a way to balance your tears with your sense of purpose. It might just take more time than you think it will. Yet, it’ll all be good in the end.

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  23. Thank you for sharing your struggle, brave and vulnerable. I do not run, but have experienced much of the negative self talk and feeling of inadequacy as I have tried to learn new skills and apply them to my work, thanks to COVID-19. Grateful for the friends who encouraged me. Lots of wonderful encouragement and validation from friends here too. One of my favorite singers is a woman named Jacque Darragh from Texas I think. One of her songs is called, “Only Those Who Walk in Darkness See the Stars.” Blessings Laurie, Michele

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    • Thank you for your thoughts. It helps to know that I am not the only one feeling these negative feelings. I am grateful for the encouragement I have received right here from comments like yours. My husband is a source of encouragement too. I love the t=title of the song, Michele. I am going to try to find it on YouTube.

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  24. I love the idea that hope starts in the dark. Like a seed. Probably miss it in the blinding light. I know I have moments of missing the ease of my life before. It worked, so I didn’t think about it. How do I do it with all these new rules. Now it consumes my thoughts more and is a struggle. Bit like when someone questions you about something that you do without thinking, because you do it so often. Like touch typing or driving a car. Brain gets overloaded. Sigh. Just got to keep on going. #wotw

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, such good analogies – it is like thinking about driving a car. You just are used to doing it instinctively, not thinking about it. Keeping on is what I plan to do!

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  25. I think we are all affected in some way at the moment. I don’t run ( I can’t even walk!) but I love my crochet, but I’ve not been able to feel motivated to even do that lately. Things can and will get better and keeping the hope going is a great start. x

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  26. I love that you refer to A. L. as Queen Anne 🙂
    I hear you, on many levels—AND I want to ask if you have let yourself feel the feelings tied up in the tears? I don’t mean taking a week off the trails or anything. But I experienced a deep grief last July and wasn’t able to move THROUGH it until I literally grieved. My husband listened—and then helped me see what I had to do. I didn’t like it, but once I got underway it was a turning point. Thinking of you and thanking you for being real.

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    • Ha! Anne Lamott is one of the authors I read when I need hope. You ask a good question. I am going to have to think about it. I had 6 days of running this week with no tears, then today, Bam! Another meltdown.

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  27. I was just writing a post about this this afternoon. After a perfectly good Easter day, I got inexplicably weepy that night. I’ve read a lot of people talking about having a hard time focusing or concentrating. I think part of our minds is on everything connected with this pandemic even when we’re not consciously thinking about it. I love this–keep putting one foot in front of the other. And hope begins in the dark–so true.

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  28. I’m sorry that you have been struggling so much with running…these are such strange times and we all have different ways to reacting. But I love the quote you shared. I always cringe at the thought of faking it til I make it, but it always works! I’m glad you have your husband to be your running buddy/support system. Here’s to brighter days ahead!

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  29. Sweet friend, I think acknowledging your feelings is the beginning of feeling better. Maybe not just acknowledging them, but allowing them and giving yourself a little grace for feeling sad, or struggling. This is certainly not a normal time for any of us. But you continue to show up everyday and that’s half the battle. I am gloating over here today because I have on jeans! Rather than yoga pants. Ha!! It’s the little things right now that keep us sane and hanging in, showing up. So love yourself for starting the run, and if you have to cut it short or take a few moments to catch your proverbial breath, or dry your tears, know that is okay. Big hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for these kind words. I do need to give myself a little grace. Why is it easier to give to others than myself? You are wearing jeans! That is dressed up for me! I wore jeans earlier to go for a welk, but now I am sitting with my feet propped up, wearing fleece warm-ups.

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  30. I missed this post but your last one linked it. Love is awesome! True love is about giving.

    Some quotes that have really helped me are

    Go as long as you can, then take another step.

    Hope is the little voice that whispers maybe when the world says give up.

    Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the full staircase.

    When you reach the end of the rope, tie a knot and swing…

    What if I fall. Oh, my darling, what if you fly (image standing by a cliff, talking to god).

    Mindfulness has really helped me too, I did an MBSR course (there are free online ones) that is mindfulness for stress/anxiety, it taught me the concept of noticing thoughts, and letting my thoughts be. I laughed once when I noticed a thought spiral. It was just before the time of month and continue the spiral from a to z with a being the time and z being suicide. When I realised it was actually funny.

    Sending hugs and prayers….

    You will get through this.

    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

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