It was good to take some time away and it feels even better to be back.
While on my path toward more time focusing on athletes, friends, and family I had a lot of time for reflection. I dealt with a period of overwhelming anxiety. I felt led to take a big leap into a new personal athletic goal of taking on Ironman St. George in May of 2022.
As you all know, navigating the seasons of life is a part of being human. As circumstances change so do we as we grow and adapt. Sometimes things change expectantly and/or gradually and other times it can feel like the rug has been literally ripped out from under us in the form of a diagnosis, a tragedy, or a betrayal. I am not focusing on those today, but I do want to acknowledge that although the kind of change I am personally experiencing is very important to me, I am also quite thankful for my health and my physical and emotional safety.
I am experiencing a lot of change. Actually, I am not sure that experiencing it is the correct term. Most days it feels like I am in a tornado of change. So many family, friendship, and work changes. Physiological changes. The winds of change keep whipping me in one direction and the next as I strongly and intentionally try to stay grounded in each moment.
My only daughter and oldest child is moving out to go to college one week from tomorrow. College visits on the horizon with my incoming senior and junior sons. Navigating familiar feelings of joy, frustration, love, excitement, nostalgia, and anger as my “kids” transition into being adults. And also feeling some the more recently unfamiliar ones of guilt and worry.
Long time friends navigating their own changes with marriages and jobs.
The excitement and uncertainty of my new amazing job contacting with the Feisty Team.
After twenty years, the longtime pinnacle of our local triathlon community, Ironman Wisconsin, is moving from September to June, with rumors of it most likely not returning to our state after 2022.
All of this mixed in with what feels like daily hormonal changes in my body. I believe this to be the largest factor contributing to the tornado feeling of change.
Often, change is good. And even good change can be hard too.
I love the person I am today and accept my stage of life. I feel more confident, wise, and capable of creating platforms that contribute to bettering humanity. I love that I have changed from the person I was in my teens, 20s, and even 30s. But, this stage of life has been a bit more hormonally complicated than my younger years.
As some of you know, recently I have started suffering from anxiety. Some circumstantial and some due to frequent hormonal changes. Although I have never been immune to anxiety and stress, this is a new normal for me. I am working on various things to handle the physiological changes of permimenopause. And I still know that the best anxiety remedy for me is exercise.
And I believe I have heard that all endurance athletes are either running to something or from something. So what does this mean for me in this current season?
Recently a good friend asked me if I signed up for an Ironman distance race with the thought that more exercise will mean less anxiety. For many reasons I love that she asked me this— and while I had considered it, I appreciated another opportunity to think about the influence it might have had on my decision. As a longtime triathlete I know that Ironman won’t solve my anxiety. I believe that thinking that is as delusional as assuming that making a baby together can guarantee to save an unhealthy relationship. The Ironman training experience is mentally, physically, and emotionally hard.
I was able to confirm to her and myself that I don’t want to swim, bike, and run myself away from the anxiety caused by physical or emotional change. (More on my “why” later this year.)
I believe the best way to live in the tornado is to accept it. Stand tall as it whips around me. Listen to my body and honor my needs.
Live in the moment.
We are all experiencing change. Some in the circumstances we are living in and others in the change we need to create. It is helpful to plan, brainstorm, and conquer tasks. But, when you feel yourself being tossed around in the storm I urge you to bring yourself back to being grounded in the moment. Whether you do that through breathing, meditation, prayer, or other methods, I can almost promise you that you will find yourself okay— even as the tornado carries on.
And, being able to cultivate and utilize this skillset strongly benefits athletes while being tossed in the tumultuous waves of racing. As things get hard in the swim, bike, and run if you can keep bringing yourself back to being connected to the moment you will realize that you are okay. That you can handle the discomfort and work through it to reach your goal. That the tornado can swirl around you, rather than always in you.
Although change can often feel anxiety provoking or even paralyzingly hard, it is needed for growth. Allow it. Accept it. Feel it. Give yourself the grace you need to experience all of it— the storm to the rainbow.
And I promise you that I will keep trying to do the same.