Marathon Weekend, Week Forty-Five in the New Abnormal

The streets are brimming with runners.  It’s the first November weekend, which means daylight-savings-time along with the New York City Marathon.  Friday, while walking through Central Park, I came across a rally.  It was a celebration of all the countries represented in the marathon.  There were flags and delegates from 140 nations.  

            While I was passing, hearing countries being called out on the loudspeaker from Ecuador to Japan, I saw the proud representatives take in the cheers from others who had come half-way around the globe.  It was peaceful.  It was celebratory.  It suggested to me the very real possibility of getting along, no matter where one resides, or how different others might live their lives.  These are runners, and supporters of runners.  Each person wants to do their best.  They have trained and are ready to traverse New York City’s five boroughs.  

            I will be on the sideline, cheering my friends, and those I know, and shouting encouragement to those I will only see for a few short seconds.  Viewing the marathon is awe inspiring.  For most marathoners, running 26.2 miles is not easy.  But they’re game and they do their best.  There’s a courage in being inclined to make such a commitment.  I call it the courage of Yes.  They entered the lottery from a position of willingness.  They trained for months because of that willingness.  And now they are implementing a new courage.  The courage of grit.  

            Grit means giving one’s all, whatever it takes.  No one is compromising someone else.  Everyone is running together in harmony towards a personal goal known to each runner.  That takes determination.  That takes grit.  Witnessing the runners giving their all step by step, mile by mile, is truly inspiring.  It inspires us to be more generous.  It inspires good will.  All in all, it inspires the best in all of us.  

Self-Care Tips:

  • Choose a small task.  It can be cleaning the bathroom, doing homework, organizing the sock drawer ,or anything else.  See if you can purposely focus.  As you do the task add a little positive intention.  This is a modest sample of grit.  
  • Find something that you’d really like to do that is out of your comfort zone or is something new to you.  See if you can commit to doing it, or if you can take a first step towards doing it.  This is a small example of the courage of Yes.
  • If you’re in New York City, try to come out to see the runners, even for a very short time.  You will be inspired.  If you’re not here, watch a snippet on tv.  Or watch a sport in which the players give their all.  Take in their commitment to excellence for a dose of inspiration.  

Awards, Week Thirteen in the New Normal

Though award shows don’t hold the same cache as they did in my childhood, this weekend is the Academy Awards.  Fraught with politics and self-promotion, the awards have lost some of their shimmer.  Yet, while growing up I wrote and rewrote my acceptance speeches.  It was my fantasy of ultimate success.  If I felt insignificant or hurt, my bright future would prove to the world I was somebody.  My bullies would see I was special.  That was my secret revenge.  

I can tell you that the bullies probably don’t remember me, even though that cruelty is etched in every child who was ever bullied.  Children who’ve been bullied often have a significant fantasy life.  Mine, like a cliché, was a girl singing show tunes into my brush handle in front of the mirror.  Thank goodness for my RCA portable record player.  It got me through some rough school years.  

Now, I’m ages away from those award-winning dreams.  But I do find something meaningful in rewarding ourselves for the wins in our lives.  And even if it’s not a public speech, acknowledging those who have been supportive are important to recognize, too.  We enjoy celebrations during our milestones, like graduations and special birthdays.  Perhaps we can find a way to receive an award when we go above and beyond, instituting courage to gain a win.  It can be small.  It’s simply a nod for our personal wins.  We can get stickers, or a new kitchen utensil.  Calling a friend and sharing in our happiness multiplies the joy.  It gives us a chance to say we matter.  And we do.  

If you choose to watch Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall and Amy Schumer host this year’s Oscars, have fun. Perhaps enjoying the show can be a reward in itself.  If I can stay up I will think of my younger self.  Though now I have little interest in a red carpet, I’m simply satisfied to watch from my living room chair.  

Self-Care Tips:

  • Write a list of what you’ve accomplished, big and small, this week.  Draw a star or a symbol next to each to congratulate yourself for a job well-done.  
  • Create a thank you speech for those who have been good to you over the years.  If possible, send them the written speech so they can know they made a difference.  
  • Don’t forget to put on some music and do a happy dance.  If you want to do that in front of the mirror, go for it.  

Something for Nothing

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I am easily seduced. Obtaining a bargain, or being given the possibility to win something is an easy hook. But now, after years of winning nothing of substance, I am on email lists for any number of companies who want my business. Most of the emails get deleted without a second glance. On the one hand, I have a Pollyanna view of life, hopeful that things will turn out. On the other hand, I’m a sucker. I want something for nothing. And the something I get is an overabundance of emails luring me to go on vacations, acquire luxury products, or donate to another crowd-funding start-up.

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This is nothing new. My father has always loved a good deal. He chose his present home, a two-story town house in an over-50 community because it was priced to sell. A Pollyanna himself, he didn’t figure in stairs as a deterrent for a couple in their 80s. While growing up he always brought home dented appliances because of their low price tag, while my mother scoffed at the impaired item. No matter how much my mother begged him to buy at a regular store, he couldn’t stop himself from scouring the off-brand warehouses popular in the 60s & 70s.

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And, so, in my father’s footsteps I get excited when I see that I could win a trip to Tahiti, or win a shopping spree on a site that probably doesn’t accommodate for my curves or my age. I did stop myself from purchasing a membership to the Oprah Club. The ad promised free give-aways and deep discounts. As much as I love to get something for free, I decided that the price of the club wasn’t worth it.

Nonetheless, I have spent more time than I’d like to admit filling out surveys for a chance to be entered into a special drawing for one thing or another. I did win a free bag and a $25 gift card to Trader Joes once. But it wasn’t because I entered anything, I merely brought my own bags for shopping and was entered into their drawing. I like Trader Joe’s because they always have great prices even though it’s not a discount store. And, since I always bring my own bags for shopping, I can enter the drawing with the hope of winning another $25 gift card.

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But no more online contests. Luckily my Dad doesn’t own a computer. So my parents dodged this bullet.   And now now I’m spending my time unsubscribing from email lists. I don’t want the temptation of a big win to get in the way of living my life. My time is dear. I can use it enjoying what I already have.