I got my dad the most inappropriate gift for Christmas last year. I won’t elaborate other than saying my 7 and 9-year-old boys (who are obsessed with male anatomy – including the words nuts, balls or sack) thought it was hysterical. I giggled when I ordered it. Laughed when we wrapped it. Snickered as he unwrapped it.
“Kelli!” my Dad said, half-embarrassed, half trying not to laugh as he figured out what it was. “Wait until I show this to my good friend. He already thinks you’re crazy.”
“What? Why?” I asked, still laughing.
“You know, dating a new guy every six or eight months, posting pictures about it on Facebook. He asked what’s going on with you and I told him I stay out of it,” Dad replied.
WELL JEEZE… TELL ME HOW YA REALLY FEEL!
In the moment, I let his comment go because Christmas present opening is not the time to start a debate (or a defense) about Kelli’s dating life. But it just so happens that side bar came about a week after I ended yet another post-divorce relationship.
I’ve thought about my dad’s words a lot in the weeks that followed. To be clear, he was not trying to be vindictive, critical or mean. It was literally an in-the-moment comment about how spontaneous I am. I get that spontaneity honestly, by the way.
But also, I’ve shared TWO relationships on social media… in three-and-a-half years.
Is that a lot?
Do I fall too hard, too fast?
Do I let people in too easily?
Do I put too much out there for everyone else to see?
My best friend would answer yes to all those questions about me. She’s more reserved, more cautious and much more careful with her heart.
“You definitely go zero to sixty pretty fast,” she said, referring to those past two relationships, which lasted a whopping four months and eight months, respectively.
My favorite mentor said the same.
“Slow down, Kel. You don’t need to go all in at the very beginning. You barely know him,” she said over lunch a couple years ago as I gushed about the Uber driver I’d connected with a month earlier and was dating at the time. ”You have time to figure this out.”
Both of them were right.
I’m 36. My career, my finances and my physical and mental health have never been better.
I do have time. I don’t need to rush. I could play the game – take a breath and wait a week before agreeing to a second or third or fourth date. I could not respond to a text right away. I could hold off when it comes to posting about a new relationship on social media. I could wait a year or more to see if a man truly fits into my life before making a spot for him and introducing him to my kids… but why should I have to do any of that?
A few years ago as I tried to navigate why my marriage failed and why life suddenly felt so difficult, my therapist told me I’m a deep thinker who also loves and feels very deeply. She said when I was ready, I needed to look for a relationship with the same type of person who has similar depth and self-awareness so that person could love and understand me in a way that would truly fulfill my soul.
I remember the sense of relief I had when she said those words because she made me feel so normal. In that moment, she articulated something I had spent a lot of time trying to figure out. And I’ve held on to that while navigating this (mostly shitty but sometimes amazing) world of dating as a single mom.
Just so we’re clear, even though I don’t exactly hold back when I feel a connection with someone, I still refuse to settle.
If something is missing, I’m not afraid to politely say, ‘No thank you’ to a second or third date.
If I’m not getting what I need emotionally, intellectually or otherwise, I make that clear and I end it.
If there’s drama, a toxic baby mama or signs a man has serious work to do on his own mental or emotional well-being, I run. FAST.
And here’s why: I’ve done the work on myself. I know who I am. I know what I want.
Oh, and I don’t need a fourth child.
I’ve also learned it’s OK to be deep. It’s OK to meet someone new and give them the very best version of who I am in that moment. It’s OK to go all-in, to fall hard and fast and let my heart feel all of the things. It’s OK to show my kids life can still be so freaking beautiful even though it is sometimes unpredictable and ugly.
Why would I ever want anything less?
Trust me, I know I’m a lot to handle. I also don’t apologize for that. If I’m too much for someone, that’s that’s OK too. It just means we aren’t meant to be.
To that point, it’s OK if you are the type who burns a bit slower. It’s OK if you are more cautious about giving away your heart. It’s OK if you want to take your time before figuring out whether it’s safe or smart to go all-in. We are not all the same and thank goodness for that.
Oh, and speaking from experience: “cautious” and “zero to sixty” people don’t usually mesh well. We’re talking crash and burn. Big fire. Might scar your ego. But that’s OK too.
When you’re an “all-in” kind of person, you don’t dip your toe in the water before deciding to jump. You literally put your hands over your head, take a deep breath and you dive. And you don’t have time or energy to give a shit what anyone on the surface might think.
The other day at the gym, I ran into a former colleague I’ve always adored and respected. We’re both creatives – big thinkers, big personalities, you get the idea. You know how you vibe on a whole different level with people who get you? That’s how my friendship is with Josh. We worked together some 10 years ago then went separate ways, but stayed connected on social media.
So when I spotted Josh standing in the lobby, it was perfectly natural to run up and squeeze him into a giant hug – masks and all.
“Oh my gosh, hi!” I gushed. “You look so good. Why don’t you age?”
“Girl… look at YOU! Lookin’ awesome,” he replied. “Me? This spot on the top of my head is all you need to prove I’m an old man.”
What is it with men and their hair?
I swear, bald spots, receding hairlines and thinning patches are the biggest not-talked-about (but talked about) insecurity with most men 30 and up. And I don’t get it.
I have so many examples of random, off-handed comments from guys about their locks (or lack thereof) when it was not anywhere CLOSE to the topic at hand.
Here’s one I’ve replayed a time or six: A couple years back at the end of a really great date, a guy in his mid-40s thought he was being funny when he said, “I’m old and practically bald and you’re young and beautiful, so we should probably just end it here.”
What was I supposed to do with that?
Dude. You’re super attractive. Your charisma is off the charts. You have a ridiculously successful career and WE just had a fantastic night. So you make a joke about your bald spot!?
Then there was the billboard guy. I almost feel bad writing about him because I know he’ll read this and he’s also such a gentleman… but also, IT’S JUST HAIR!
Our first of three dates happened in early pandemic – maybe late March? We found an open Starbucks and took a nice long walk one Saturday afternoon. It was kind of chilly and he wore a hat. At that point, I had no opinion about his hair.
Second date – we binged Tiger King, ate take out and drank vodka (who didn’t do that in pandemic, by the way?). Super fun night. But while sitting next to him on the couch and chatting, I noticed something about his hair was weird. Couldn’t decide if it was the comb-back or the hairline itself. I mental noted and mentioned it to my best friend the next day,
“Awesome guy, but there’s something off with his hair. More to come.”
Third date – pizza, more vodka and conversation at his place. Somehow we land on the topic of post-divorce self-care and that’s when it alllll came out. His eyes lit up. Then he asked if I had ever seen the Brian Urlacher billboards along the Dan Ryan in Chicago.
“You know, the hair ones,” he added.
“I have…” I replied, suddenly realizing exactly where this conversation was about to go.
“OK, so I did that,” he said, looking super proud.
Oh shit. Don’t laugh. Gotta call BFF and tell her I was right. Now is probably not the right time to call. But oh em gee bite your tongue and Don’t. Freaking. Laugh. in this sweet man’s face.
I kind of had to tune him out for the next minute or so to steel myself. When I zoned back in, he was talking about the doctor who did his procedure.
“…and this is the same guy who actually did Brian Urlacher’s implants. And then he drew on my head with a permanent marker, and then…” this conversation went on for a good 10 minutes. I sat there, soaking it in. Not quite sure how to respond.
Again, super nice guy. Great dad. Incredibly sharp. Stellar career. Yet so concerned about his HAIR LOSS. In the end, the connection wasn’t there for me and I wasn’t about to waste his time or mine. There were no more dates after that fateful night.
Can someone please tell me why men are so fixated on what is happening on top of their heads?
When I ask guy friends about it, they shrug their shoulders and acknowledge it’s simply a sensitive subject. Many of them, by the way, admit they’ve tried or thought about trying pills, creams, shampoos, conditioners, powders, dyes, implants and other methods in an attempt to hide this big secret/not secret insecurity.
When I put my friend Josh on the spot about his unprompted bald spot comment at the gym, he laughed and explained he usually brings it up first because if he’s with a group of guys, that’s one of the first jokes on the table – who has the least amount of hair. He said his in-laws are the same – a bald crack at his expense always flows out of their mouths at family get togethers. So he just gets it out of the way first. I guess it makes sense.
I know what you’re probably thinking. And you’re right. This is absolutely a huge pot/kettle issue because women are constantly obsessing over our physical appearance when it comes to weight, eyebrows, cellulite, stomachs and other parts of our bodies most men ironically love in their natural state.
Now that you’ve read about it though, sit back and wait for it. The next time a man sees a picture of himself and you hear him say, “Ew, you honed in right on my bald spot!” or “This is my good side. It has hair,” you’ll smile. Then hopefully you’ll reassure him about the bald truth… a real woman truly doesn’t care about about a man’s lack of follicular growth. And a woman who does? Well, you don’t want her anyway.
Or just reiterate what my 72-year-old dad (whom I’ve never known WITH a full head of hair) always says: “I’ve never been in a situation where I needed it.”
I don’t know with 100% certainty what’s happening where you are, but it’s getting reaaallll ugly over here.
This place is slowly becoming a graveyard for my shellac mani/pedi… do I say screw it and peel off the rest or just let that shit keep growing?
My 8-year-old just racked his 6-year-old brother squarely in the nuts. So my 6-year-old sought revenge by biting his brother in the ass.
And last night? I tried to call and cancel our 7-day spring break vacation to warm, sunny, beautiful Florida. Except I can’t even do that because the airline phone lines are jammed AF right now.
You guys, this is the weirdest shit most of us have ever experienced in our lifetime.
We’re homeschooling but still working full-time (some of us are still reporting to the office daily). Dogs are barking and babies crying in the middle of conference calls and everyone just has to be OK with it.
We aren’t technically supposed to go anywhere for another two weeks (other than the grocery store, where people continue to wipe out toilet paper... pun intended). School is out until at least May flipping first and, according to the governor’s order, public playgrounds are also technically closed.
According to my iPhone, my screen time is up to an average of 6 hours per day.
Oh, and my most favorite one yet? Boomers blame “Millennials” for choosing to spend their college spring break getting drunk on the beach during quarantine. Bitch, I’m a Millennial with three children, a career and a mortgage. Those college kids are a good 15 years younger than me. Try again.
Then there’s the whole dating scene. Real dates aren’t even happening because there’s nowhere to go. So consider yourself lucky if you can find an open Starbucks and at least take a walk without getting arrested. Or you can do what a friend of mine recently did… meet someone on Hinge and do a virtual date. They literally FaceTimed each other while simultaneously watching the same movie. I love her. She said it was fun. But I’m not sure if there’s anything worse.
Oh wait, there is.
The gym is closed. My sanity and summer body are gone. I can feel both withering away with each passing day. Yes, I’m doing all of the planks and push-ups and lunges and squats at home. I’m running (a little). I’m trying to hold both the 10lb and 12lb weights in the same hand while praying the resistance band doesn’t slip from underneath my 4-year-old’s foot and smack me in the face. Let’s just say my workouts aren’t quite the same.
How is this even real?
I feel like we could use scenes from our lives right now to make one hell of a music video to the song “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II. Don’t act like you haven’t already watched it 27 times since it came out on Disney Plus two weeks ago.
Oh, and according to my Facebook and Instagram feeds, we are all literally eating and drinking our way through pandemic quarantine 2k20. So that’s cool.
But I also see something else happening.
I see us forced to cancel plans (including my soon-to-be 7 year old's bowling alley birthday party) and clear our calendars to stay home and spend time together… as families. I see people near and dear to my heart buying groceries for the “at risk” category of those who really shouldn’t go to the store right now.
I see business owners fighting to keep their doors open one more day. I see neighbors connecting around bonfires and spring clean up in the yard. I see "Bear Hunts" happening in neighborhoods so kids can safely play outside while connecting with their parents. I see love and kindness and compassion in action every single day.
Life is hard and surreal right now. Many of us are scared or nervous about the unknown that lies ahead. Many others out there (myself included) are exhausted and just about at our breaking point from giving the past two weeks everything we’ve got.
At the same time though, we are also uniting and fighting for the greater good. I challenge you to think about who or what you are fighting for (aside from privacy in the bathroom and pretending you didn't just hear the 1,000th “Hey Mommy” of the day).
We are all fighting to protect our parents, family members, neighbors and friends in that “at risk” group.
We are fighting for those in our communities who are currently out of a job.
We are fighting for the wisdom to show patience and kindness toward each other. Especially the human beings we created who won't stop the steady stream of smart ass comments after everything we say.
I’m fighting for my little human beings, who probably needed a sound lesson in gratitude and the fact that even though we sometimes we don’t get what we want, it’s shockingly NOT the end of the world.
I’m fighting to keep a solid sleep/wake/eat schedule (who knew a 7-year-old boy could eat so much!?) inside our home so we can maintain a tiny sense of normalcy.
Think about the example we are setting for those little eyes and ears that watch and listen to us so intently. Think about the lives we are saving because we know we can make a difference. Think about what truly matters and why.
We will get through this. We will use and then remove our old-school polish and sprint to the closest nail place when it re-opens for shiny new shellac.
We will stop punching each other in the nuts and biting each other in the ass.
We will never look at an ice-cold Corona the same.
And someday, we will become filled with nostalgia as we tell our grand kids about that time we used lots of medicinal wine, vodka and love to survive quarantine during a pandemic that happened to have the same name as a beer.
It's only appropriate to begin with a few small doses of reality...
Reality Check #1: I consistently set off the smoke detectors in my house when I cook. I tell myself it’s because of where they are located relative to the kitchen, but let’s be real… that’s not normal. My cooking sucks.
Reality Check #2: As I picked up my four-year-old from her Dad’s house a few weeks ago, she grabbed the screen door and said, “Come on and open up, ya asshole door!” I unsuccessfully bit my lip and tried to find a stern face, but still laughed a good three minutes.
Reality Check #3: The same 4-year-old got so mad at her BFF at their first sleepover together that she refused to look at her or speak to her… for at least half an hour. The other mom texted me at 9pm, asking how she should handle the drama.
Reality Check #4: I was on the phone with the guy I’m dating just a few weeks after we’d met when my six-year-old suddenly ran up to the phone and screamed, “Our Mom is a trainwreck!” That was cool.
Reality Check #5: I thought I was killing it as I bootlegged leftover Halloween candy and six water bottles in my purse through the doors of Frozen 2 with four children in tow. Joke was on my stingy ass when I somehow lost my wallet in the theater. Thank goodness for honest people though – I got it back the next day.
Reality Check #6: I recently transported eight cases of wine from point A to point B for work. But when I opened the back hatch of my SUV, an entire case came crashing out. I cussed as wine seeped out of the broken bottles, through the cardboard and onto the sidewalk in the rain. Then a colleague drove by and whipped out his phone to take a picture and I laughed… because that’s funny!
So before you confuse me with someone who actually has all her shit together, please read all of that again. I'm not writing this from my ivory tower or my soap box or my golden throne.
There was a time not so long ago when those same incidents would have sent me into a spiral. I would have found someone to blame. I would have been mad, negative, even hateful toward some of the people closest to me because something didn’t go my way. I would have let some silly, inconsequential thing ruin my day or week because that’s just how I used to live. But the truth is, I was hurting. I didn’t like who I was, and I was incredibly ashamed by some of the choices I’d made.
There’s that saying, “Hurt people hurt other people.” And it’s so freaking true.
Holidays were the worst. I took out anger and anxiety on people I loved. I took what should have been beautiful days filled with family and memories and I ruined them. Every. Single. Time.
After a while though, I realized that messed up person was neither who I truly am nor who I wanted to be. So I faced that unhappy person head-on. I went to therapy. I put in the work and dealt with the mess that came as side-effects of working through my shit. I sat with the pain and the guilt and the past that once bogged down that miserable girl and simultaneously made her want to take others down with her.
There were also some pretty important steps that I now realize helped me heal, which included holding myself accountable. And even though I didn't have some grand plan or end game in mind, sharing the how is important... because I now realize none of it happened by accident.
I set and accomplished a huge goal.
It’s funny how opportunity often appears at our lowest point. I was a complete mess on my living room couch the night my friend Cindy sent me the text, asking if I would complete a Half Ironman with her. Come to think of it, my emotional state was probably why I said yes without thinking it through. But crossing that finish line nine months later is one of the most prideful moments I’ve had in a very long time.
I looked inward.
My company recently incorporated employee engagement surveys at our corporate office. Some of the feedback suggested I needed to improve my management and leadership skills. Big time. First I cried. Then I got mad. Then I was defensive. But after self-reflection and coaching from people I trust and respect, I owned all of it. I realized much of the feedback was true, and some was simply perception that needed to be addressed. Either way, I had a lot of work to do… on me.
I walked away from a toxic relationship.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in other people that we can’t see how much they’re damaging our soul. But somewhere in the middle of therapy and hundreds of hours of triathlon training and self-reflection, I realized I deserve better. So I blocked someone in my phone. I unfriended and unfollowed them on social media. I stopped talking about them. I took away their power over me and gained so much self-respect.
I focused on my kids.
Last April, I took my kids on a spring break beach vacation. Just the four of us. I booked it, planned it and paid for it myself. I thought we were heading to a tropical location with 80-degree temperatures and sunshine for days. But high temperatures that week were mostly in the 40s and low 50s with lots of rain. I knew the kids would reflect my energy. So I made new plans and changed my expectations. And you know what? My littles had no idea our vacation was supposed to be anything different than what it was. We had the BEST time. That trip became a huge turning point for me when it came to learning how to connect with my kids emotionally.
I put myself first.
I knew if I stood a chance of crossing that Half Ironman finish line, I had to take better care of me. I focused on self-care – including eating better and sleeping more. I also built (or, in some cases rebuilt) positive relationships. I stopped settling and decided to spend my time doing what makes me happy. If a situation doesn’t have a feasible positive end-result or if my gut feels weird, I walk away. I’ve never felt more free
It’s worth noting none of this has been a straight line. It was messy and jagged with high points and super low ones. It also took time – more than 18 months – and a lot of really hard (and heart) work on my end. For real.
At one low point in the past year, I wanted to quit my job.
At another, I cried myself to sleep several nights in a row.
At yet another, I screamed at my mom and accused her of not being there when I needed her most.
And at another, I had a hard conversation with someone I'd hurt. Even though it brought that person intense pain, I was finally able to forgive myself and let go of massive guilt I’d held on to for years. I allowed myself move forward.
Therapy helped me work through all of those "things" from my past. It taught me how to sit with the hard stuff and how to do the heart work - to heal my heart from issues I'd avoided and not dealt with previously.
The heart work included lots of solo time. Instead of going out on empty dates or giving my energy to superficial relationships on weekends I didn't have my kids, I chose to stay home. It wasn't fun, but was what I needed at the time.
I write all of this because I know someone out there needs to read it. If someone you love is going through a hard time, please love them harder. They need you (even if they say they don't).
If you’re at the bottom and you feel alone, sad, scared or just plain pissed off, I get it. Those feelings seem to suck a lot more this time of year, but I promise it gets better. You will feel better and do better and be better and love better. It is possible to become a better version of yourself.
But you have to keep moving forward. You have to be willing to put in the heart work. And you have to know you're worth it.
I’ll never forget that moment: a perfect June morning on the beach at Jean Klock Park in Benton Harbor, Michigan. As I stood in a literal sandy sea of some 2,000 people also zipped into full body wetsuits, I breathed it in.
I chatted briefly with a few other athletes, synced my GPS watch with the satellites and anxiously waited my turn to enter a calm, 70-degree Lake Michigan. I also happened to glance up at a handful of dedicated spectators on top of a small nearby sand dune. It was 6:30 in the morning.
Wow, I remember thinking to myself. There are some lucky racers here today, for sure. Their people showed up. They woke up early and clim…
Suddenly, I did a double-take at two people on top of the dune.
I saw my Dad first. How could I miss a 6’4, bald and incredibly pale man wearing a blue polo and shorts? His hands were cupped around his eyes as he scanned the crowd of black wetsuits and pink and green swim caps, trying to find me.
Mom was right next to him, looking determined to keep her balance on the uneven sand while also methodically searching the beach.
I waved my arms a good two minutes, eventually catching their attention. Dad immediately went into photographer mode (one of many traits I inherited, along with the pale white skin gene), snapping several pictures of the crowd and me.
As I inched closer to the rolling start, where race officials allowed four people in the water at a time, every five seconds, Dad made his way across and then down the dune so he could get video of me swimming.
I couldn’t stop smiling. Partly due to confidence in all the work I’d put in leading up to that moment (and partly due to an unbelievably calm lake), but largely because I hadn’t expected to see my parents until much later that afternoon, at the finish line. But there they were. They showed up.
My 70-year-old mom and dad woke up super early that morning, drove an hour to a place they’d never been, parked a mile away, hopped a shuttle and climbed a sand dune. For me.
Approximately 37 minutes later, on my way from the lake to my bike, I saw them again and gave Mom a smile and high-five.
And again, 3 hours after that, as I completed the 56-mile bike to South Haven and back. I cried happy tears the whole ride into the transition area because they were there.
Here’s the deal. Growing up and moving away from home and family to earn a degree and then chase a career was fun and exciting. But it was also incredibly isolating. Raising babies five hours from family is hard. We maybe see each other five or six times a year and the past few were tough as I battled my own demons and worked through deeply painful personal issues.
During that time, I turned against some of the people who wanted to be there for me most – especially my parents.
Things got so bad about a year ago that I told Mom and Dad they shouldn’t even come to South Bend for my 34th birthday because I didn’t want to see them. So they didn’t. They dropped my gifts in the mail and stayed home. I know… it sounds like such a bullshit Millennial thing to do. And in hindsight, it probably was.
But that’s also around the time a friend I knew through my barre studio sent a random text on a weeknight, asking if I would do a Half Ironman with her. I said yes without thinking (because that’s what I do). And somehow, training for that race broke me wide open.
I pushed my body and mind further than I ever thought they could go. I literally cried in the middle of hard bikes and runs. I worked out 12-15 hours a week, which sometimes meant two workouts in one day. It was hard. But I used much of that solo time to reflect on the relationships I’d damaged and to forgive myself for it.
I also started communicating more with my parents. I sent screen shots of 5-hour Saturday morning training sessions, or updated them after a 5am weekday swim. I Face-Timed them immediately after crossing the finish line at my very first triathlon in May (a much shorter distance than the Half Ironman) to tell them I won my age group and was the fourth overall female finisher.
Eventually, I asked if they would come to “the big race” in June.
And then they showed up.
Just like they always had when I played sports or sang at competition or performed in the high school musical, they stood on top of that sand dune. For me.
And they weren’t the only ones.
My loyal friend Nicole popped up around mile 50 of the bike ride and at least 4 times (that I remember) along the run, shouting words of love and encouragement. She’d packed up her two little girls, rescheduled her own 10-mile marathon training run for later in the day, drove an hour and found spots to surprise me along the course. But I shouldn’t have been surprised at all. That’s Nicole. She invited me to Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family when she knew I would otherwise be alone. She checked on me often throughout my training journey and reminded me how strong I am. Of course she showed up on race day.
My best friend Jodie also woke up before sunrise and drove over from Chicago. I first saw her face as I started the 13.1 mile run. Then about an hour later, around the halfway point of the run. She smiled. She asked how I was feeling and told me I’m a badass (even though I tried to shoo her away because I was scared I would be disqualified if she ran next to me). Then again, that’s Jo. She’s there when I need to cry or scream or tell her about something really awesome that happened. We talk several times a week and she’s my voice of reason. She always shows up.
Then there was the last leg of the race. The very end of the run. I’d been walking for a bit. I was tired, extremely dehydrated and hot. I knew I needed to start running again so I could finish strong. But I just couldn’t get myself there mentally.
“Hey!” a woman in shorts, a tank and ball cap yelled.
I didn’t recognize her so I didn’t respond. Instead, I turned around. Surely she was talking to someone behind me.
“Hey! Kelli!” she said. “Kelli! You have a quarter mile left. Let’s go!”
She jogged toward me.
Oh my gosh, Olivia!
Olivia. The friend who had run alongside me three years ago in my first race, ever. During that one – a 10k – she refused to leave, even though I’d begged her to run ahead. We crossed the finish line together.
Olivia is a serial marathon runner and gives me so much training advice. So when she showed up at the tail end of my 70.3 miles, I greeted her properly, saying, “You can’t run next to me. I’ll get disqualified!” (I didn’t know Olivia had checked with the race marshal near that post and cleared it with him ahead of time.)
“Fine,” she replied. “I’ll just run on the sidewalk.”
So she did, yelling, “Everybody! This is Kelli! Cheer for her! She’s worked so hard to get here. Cheer for my friend Kelli!”
Olivia ran with me until I got to my kids, Jodie and, of course, my parents at the finish line. My kids… who spent lots of hours in the gym daycare and with babysitters while I squeezed in training miles. My parents… who spent seven hours on a hot beach cheering for me, tracking me on their phones and waiting for me to finish.
Then I got to my phone (they aren’t allowed on the course) and saw DOZENS of texts and well wishes from others who had also been tracking my progress. I had no idea so many people cared that much.
And that’s what prompted a deep post-race reflection.
I haven’t been great at showing up for other people the past couple years. At times, it was all I could to do be a mom and simply show up to work every day. But after the race, I started thinking about everyone who has shown up for and supported me, despite my efforts to keep many of them at arms’ length.
The people who continued to check in with calls, texts and Facebook messages... even when I didn’t respond.
The people who listened when I needed to vent or cry.
The people who lifted me up when I couldn’t find grace or forgiveness for myself.
The people who came over for my birthday, because they knew I really didn’t want to be alone.
The people who stepped up when I asked for help.
The people who were patient enough to know I needed time and space to get back to myself.
I think my friend Fay Flournoy said it best in a recent Facebook post:
There’s a big difference between our hearts breaking FOR someone and WITH someone.
One is done from a safe distance and the other requires us to get in the middle of the mess.
One is talk and the other is showing up.
In our social media and cell phone driven world, be the someone that shows up (like for real, in person).
At first, I thought the training and triathlons themselves are what caused a massive turning point in my life that led me to the most confident and peaceful existence I’ve ever experienced. But the further I get from that Half Ironman, the more I’ve realized it wasn’t the swim or the bike or the run or even the finish line that helped me heal most.
It was literally the people who showed up.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, tiny humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...