It Is What it Is

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend at a cocktail party about the economy, jobs, and other uplifting topics. In the course of our discussion, my friend mentioned another friend who had had a great job, but got laid off.  After a long search, the friend ended up taking a job she normally wouldn’t have. The job required a long commute, and lots of long days in the company’s rural headquarters. No surprise, my  friend was described as “less than enthused” about the logistics surrounding the job, but thrilled nonetheless to be employed again. As my friend reached for another cocktail she said, “Basically, she doesn’t love her job, but, you know… it is what it is.”

It is what it is.  I thought about that the next day, as I stumbled out of bed at 5:00 on a Friday in order to avoid the heat wave we were having.  As much as I did not want to be out so early (especially on the heals of a cocktail party), I wanted to get a run in that day. 5:00 a.m. was my only option;  I could either accept it for what it was (the only time of day I could breathe outside) or I could complain to myself about it in my head for the next 6 miles. As the sunrise shone over the water, I decided maybe 5:00 a.m. indeed wasn’t so bad. Early yes, but with beautiful benefits.

The next balmy day again had me out early, this time on a 16 miler mapped out by my running partner.  Even at 6:00 a.m., it was hot. And muggy.  At mile 12, we both were cashed, but unfortunately far from home.  We had already complained about the heat index for three plus miles, so this was old news. I had already told my friend (several times) that sweat had gone inside my ear, resulting in temporary deafness. Both of us were drenched, tired, and crabby. However, we both seemed to have made a silent pact not to say anything further about our dire straights… it’s as if we had given in to our situation and taken it for what it was. Hell on earth.

A few hours later, showered and in the comfort of air conditioning, I was watching a movie that showed a little girl taking a piano lessons.  Memories came back to me, as I recalled the hours and hours I spent in Mrs. Siebert’s living room.  I remember how I begged my parents to please, please let me quit. Couldn’t they see I had absolutely no talent? Yet, for at least two years, in perhaps a character building attempt on their part, they told me I had to keep playing.  In this case, I have to think that It is what it is didn’t need to endure for that long. A year’s worth of torture would have been enough time to build my character nicely and give me adverse reactions to maroon pencils (my teacher used the same one each week) and the sound of  “Three Blind Mice.”

So it seems there are certain instances where accepting things in their current condition make sense – less than ideal jobs in a bad economy, rough spots during runs that you physically chose to partake in, and conditions that we really have no control over.  However, it also appears that we tend to say It is what it is an awful lot in our everyday lives – out loud, or perhaps subconsciously. The problem with this comes when we continue to do things that go against our nature because it’s easier  to keep up the status quo than rock the boat.

Maybe the solution to this dilemma comes with two simple words added to the phrase… It is what it is, for now.  Nothing’s forever, after all.  So, while we toil away at those jobs we hate during the day, we need to remember that even in a bad economy, there are indeed other options out there, and it’s okay to pursue them during our off hours.  The same goes for other things we accept as “it”- from bad relationships to bad cars. We don’t have to hang on forever just because of current conditions.  With hard work and motivation, we can turn It is what it is into It is what I want it to be.

So, keep forging forward on your journeys, friends, and if the going gets rough remember that bad runs, just like bad piano lessons, do eventually come to an end.  We can thank our lucky stars for that.

by abbey algiers


copyright 2011

Cleaning House

I, Runnerchica, have a serious confession for my readers. It is one that reality show producers everywhere may want to pay close attention to.  I am a hoarder.

Specifically, I hoard:

1. Running Shoes.

2. Emails.

Let’s begin with the running shoes.  At press time, I scoured my house and gathered all of the Brooks Adrenaline, size 8B’s that I had laying around.  I found twelve for my photo shoot, only to discover one more pair in my trunk and two in our boot box.  That makes fifteen, with only two pair being those that I currently wear.  For my parents and others who may be wondering, “Why does a girl need so many running shoes?” I’ll explain.  Training for marathons twice a year is tough on shoes.  If I don’t replace them every 3-4 months, my body starts to break down.  I had a stress fracture in my right shin from teaching aerobics in college, and I’m not kidding, that old injury starts to flair up when I need new shoes.  It’s like a little built-in alarm; right shin pain strikes, and I’m off to the shoe store.

Baker’s Dozen of Brooks Adrenaline

Buying this many shoes is not that uncommon for runners. The problem with me, however, is that I keep them. All of them.  Which is really silly, as there are only so many shoes you need to mow the lawn.  I should just send them to Goodwill or a throw them in the donation barrel at my running store, where they can be recycled into something useful.  All of those shoes are doing no good to anyone; they are just collecting dust at various points in my house.

On to my second problem.  Emails.  Don’t ask me how, but have I managed to accumulate 16,454 emails in my gmail account, and 7,546 in my mobile me account.  The other day, a rainy Tuesday with little to offer other than Lifetime movies and errands, I decided to tackle the enormous task of DELETION.  It literally took me all day to whittle down my email accounts to less than 1000 and 250 respectively.  I realize this is still ALOT of emails, and for those reading, note that no, I don’t have thousands of people emailing me. It’s  just that I have kept many emails since 2007 or earlier.  One would logically then think that all of these emails would be simple to delete- they are over four years old, for crying out loud.  But no, it turned out that reading the “oldies” was like catching up on my life story.  This is why it took me all day to delete- I’d get caught up in the past and really not want to wipe out parts of “my story.”  This is also why I now have 8 additional folders on my email accounts with those treasured messages saved.

Nonetheless, some 18,000 (give or take; I write, I don’t do math) emails and 13 pair of shoes lighter, I definitely feel cleansed on the computer and shoe fronts.  This exercise made me realize how good it feels to do a little clearing of physical things. It also made me think about how important it is to also regularly clear all of the mental garbage that can weigh us down. I think I can safely say I have company when it comes to having a secret stash of  worries, fears, and other recurring thoughts that wake me up 2 in the morning.  This is called being human.

The problem is, a lot of that garbage can’t be dropped off at Goodwill or deleted in an afternoon.  It tends to linger in the deep caverns of our psyches.  Here it remains until we either completely lose it (enter crying jags, road rage, premature wrinkles, and grey hair), or we let it build up, and this garbage manifests in the form of illness or other serious issues.

Bottom line, we all need places to dump our garbage, and we need to do it often. This, ironically brings me back to the 15 pair of running shoes.  I accumulated that many shoes because running is the best way I know how to get rid (at least for 3-26 miles) of the garbage I am holding onto.  Whether it’s a solo run where I am alone with my thoughts, or a run with a running partner or partners, a run is the perfect place to sort things out.  Ask my ‘rain, shine, sleet or record heat’ every Saturday running partner; I know she’ll agree whole heartedly- running is much better than therapy.  And it’s free… except for the shoes.

So, when you find that your inbox is reaching maximum capacity, and your shelves have no more room for anything… be sure to do what it takes to empty your trash.   After all, all of that extra baggage tends to really slow down your runs. And that’s no fun at all now, is it?

copyright 2011

by abbey algiers