74 Degrees of Separation

Today I dusted off my runnerchica website after what can only be described as a “long winter’s nap.”  It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written an article.  So long, in fact, that the last “press time” was one of the coldest days of the year. I believe that day’s high was ZERO.  One day last week, full of fresh inspiration and bliss, I happily noted that the temperature was SEVENTY FOUR. As in degrees.

Now, in those days between 0 and 74, I have been out there, pounding the pavement through all sorts of punishments from Mother Nature. Snow, ice, sleet, rain, negative wind chills, and just plain chills kept me company during the past five months. So last week, with the sun shining, sidewalks clear, and the temperature feeling more like June than March, running felt… strange. Don’t get me wrong, my run was glorious and toasty. However, it was almost as if my feet didn’t know what to do without ice patches or frigid puddles to dodge.  The skin on my arms and legs were confused as well, being exposed to real air and sunlight after months of coverage by Under Armour and layers.  And my hands- let’s not even go there. To be able to actually feel my fingertips on a run was a miracle.

Best of all, I had lots of company, unlike the past months where it was just me, perhaps a running partner, and “fellow running freaks” with whom I’d share frozen exchanges. Last week, every man, woman, and child was on deck, baby. In fact, if Norman Rockwell were alive, and happened to be running with me, he would have seen the makings of a masterpiece.

Neighbors were reacquainting themselves with each other.  Children on bikes with training wheels were competing with older kids for space on the sidewalk. Mothers were pushing babies perhaps not even yet conceived the last time it was this balmy. Kids on scooters, skateboards, and rollerblades crossed my path more than once. I even saw an Irish dancer practicing barefoot on her driveway.

And of course, I passed other runners. We all had the same triumphant look on our faces. We had been to hell and back (or perhaps better, Antarctica and back) and were finally experiencing the warmth we doubted would ever reappear.  Yes, perhaps a bit of an exaggeration- we knew things would eventually start to warm up. However, teaser days of warmer weather had been followed by snow and cold many a time.  We were tired of hearing, “Well, folks, more frigid temps are headed our way.” Or, “It may be warm today, but it won’t last long. A winter storm is on tap for this weekend.”

Quite frankly, the whole weather business had lambasted us so much that it felt like a sub zero Groundhog Day. Same cold story, day after day…that is, until last week. Last week gave us true hope for flowers, grass, and warmth.

When I think about the “up against a wall feeling” that this winter brought, the only thing that comes remotely close to its brutal intensity is… our economy.  This topic is as bitter and bone chilling as that cold day in January when I was holed up in my house, writing my last runnerchica. The economy is neither encouraging nor hopeful at present time; you’d have to be a blind and deaf gopher in a hole not to have heard this. The media has done a great job of reminding us of just how bad things are.  The problem with this (beside being just plain depressing) is that when we are reminded of this day after day, we start to feel like we did all winter- convinced that things are never going to change. We feel trapped and powerless, wondering when this financial mess will be better.

So, what can we do?  First, let’s revisit that 74 degree day. There was really nothing magical or out of the ordinary about it, if you look at it as simply a day reaching 74 degrees. Plus, pretty much everyone experiencing it knew that this heat wave did not signal the weather anomaly of summer beginning in March.  But what did happen was that we all changed channels for a bit. We smiled. Relaxed. We didn’t talk about how bad things were. We had hope.

Perhaps this could help, just a little, as we consider the economy. What if one day we all decided that in economy degrees… it was 74 versus 0? What if we only talked to people about how great things were?  Let’s say we made a pact to not turn on the news, read the paper, or check our financials?  Imagine an entire day without once ending a sentence with “… because of the economy.” What if we didn’t even use the “e” word?

Maybe, just maybe, if we all did this… we could start to brighten things up a bit, just with our attitudes. True, solving the economic challenges will probably require a slightly more detailed plan than this runnerchica piece. But, in the meantime, could it really hurt to continue spreading the 74 degree day message of hope?

Copyright 2009  imrunnerchica.com

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