13 + 1 Finding Focus One Month at a Time

At the end of December, I decided my word for 2019, would be REAL. I absolutely love the word, and truly feel like the word found me. When it came to me, none of the other words could compare.  It was perfect. Now, almost a month later, nearing the end of January, the word continues to be perfect. I have consistently come back to the word, and it helps me to frame a number of the things I want for my year.  

But, for some reason, this month, I have felt like there was something missing.  As author of Run Like  A Pirate, and Kids Deserve It, Adam Welcome says, it is okay to require MORE of yourself.  And so, just like that on a snowy Monday, I decided that I was going to have 13 different words and a number for this year!  I would most certainly keep the word REAL, but add a word for each month. And, because it feels right for some reason (I cannot quite explain it yet), I want to choose the number six  to capture this year. The crazy thing is that when I add 13 and 1 together: I get my favorite number 14! So maybe I am right on track to having the year I am dreaming of.

I realized that I still wanted to keep the  word REAL to capture my whole year, but within that I could combine the idea of being real about my monthly focus word.  Recently, I also took my sister Jackie’s idea of incorporating examples of things that are “Real” throughout the year. A few days ago, I had my son pick out a new plant for the house.  I am excited that we have an aloe vera plant to learn about and watch grow.

close up photo of succulent plant
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Watching something literally grow feels real. Next month, I am looking forward to putting up a bird feeder so that I can see birds on a regular basis.  I am excited to add in tangible elements of the “Real” world on a regular basis.

But, the word “Real” feels so big.  Part of me wanted to find a way to break this word into bite size pieces so that I could stay consistent with this word over the course of the year.  I like idea of looking at each month with a different focus that aligns with being real. I realized that “Clarity” would be my word for the month of January.  I have gotten “Real” about a number of my goals, and taken feedback from a number of sources to help me uncover what I really am trying to do this year. I have been journaling frantically, reading uncontrollably, and plastering my mind with resources to inspire me on a regular basis.   I am trying to outline my goals as a writer, parent, teacher, leader, and athlete. I am currently reading, Dare to Lead, by Brene’ Brown. img_3191All of Brene’s books relate to vulnerability in some way.  The more I think about it, being real is being vulnerable. Being vulnerable is sharing things that are scary.  

A few weeks ago, I listened to the The Rising Tide Radio Podcast by Jennifer Hogan and Allyson Apsey. img_3195One of the questions posed was, “If you could accomplish anything this year, and not fail, what would it be?”  The experience of hearing myself answer that question within seconds shocked me. I heard myself say out loud, “I would qualify for the Boston Marathon”.  While I have run 26 marathons and 1 ultra marathon, this goal is one that is in it’s 16th year of being worked on. But, wow, if I could guarantee one thing, that would be it.  It feels widely impossible, something that only a crazy person would chase. But, for some reason, it is that dream I cannot give up on. I am not sure if this is what I will take on this year or not, but part of me thinks, why not?  Why not do the impossible, what if you really could do something with enough hard work and faith that it was possible?

I get really excited when I dream really big, and don’t stop to worry about the details right away.  I started thinking what if I worked backwards from this big audacious goal, and picked apart what I needed to do each month.  Maybe I would fail, but would it not be the coolest thing in the world to go all in and try it? I don’t know if this goal is realistic or not, and that makes me hesitant, but also makes me so excited.  My oldest son often says to me when I pose ideas for big dreams, “Why can’t you make it happen?” I recently had a brief and fantastic conversation with Sarah Johnson author of Balance Like a Pirate on Voxer who gave me advice and feedback on my morning routine.

silver macbook pro
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The more I was open to her thoughts and really stopped to think about where I could make changes that would align with my goals, the more I realized that I was spending too much time in the morning, and what I needed to focus on more.  Sarah had a great idea about incorporating meditation and reading within my run to maximize my options with time. Her feedback was inspiring, and I felt understood. Her words pushed me to be real about a number of ways that I might be sabotaging myself.   Her insight also taught me a lot about how I like to receive feedback, and how importantly it is to come alongside someone who is trying to find his or her way.

I need to make sure that the lifestyle all things considered from the food I eat to the sleep I make time for, needs to support my running goal.  The exciting thing is that I achieved my first step this past weekend when I accomplished my goal of beating my time in last year’s nine mile race.  One of my favorite parts in a race is when the course is in an “Out and back.” You get to lock eyes with other runners going the opposite way, and that quick glance says it all.  It says, “You earned my respect”. To attempt crazy ambitious goals, you have to respect yourself and believe in your ability even  when it seems ridiculous.

One of the coolest things is when other people believe in you before you believe in yourself.  25 years ago , I can still remember that feeling when I made the Junior Varsity Softball team after several people were cut. And two days ago, as I posted, “Game On. 9 Mile Race”, my boss commented, “Good Luck, Go get after it”, I realized that I do have people who will encourage my dream; and I even though I need to be real about the difficulty of a big goal, this year, I will choose to believe that I can do the impossible.  

I don’t know if this will be the year that I accomplish my wildly impossible goal of earning a spot at Boston, but if I fail, I have a feeling I will be pretty proud of my journey.  And, be the best version of myself as as a runner.