What do you see when you’re not looking?

I am a creature of habit in many things I do. I eat two waffles with almond butter and blackberries every day. I get a “venti with room” at Starbucks four days a week. I brush my teeth when I get to work, after lunch, and about 3 more times each day. When I go on vacation, I like to go to the exact same places.   Similarly, when I run, my routines and routes are very predictable. I am, perhaps, the most interesting person one could meet…not. For example, my “Starbucks Route” takes me past… Starbucks, if you can believe that.  My “Sears Route” takes me to the Sears store and back. I’m guessing it would be difficult to find a more predictable human than me.

While being predictable in my runs has some benefits (I know where the biting dog lives, where the public bathrooms are, and exactly how long each run takes on a good day), it occurred to me recently that I might be missing things along the way, with everything being so familiar to me. I realized that sometimes when you see the same things each day, the good parts start to blur, and important details are lost along the way.  How did I come to this conclusion? From my 13 year old blind student, Leonardo.

To explain further, let me give you a bit of back-story on this extraordinary person. Leonardo came to my class about 6 months ago, knowing no English, with 100% vision loss due to a brain tumor. Yet, Leonardo shows that truly noticing his world around him has little to do with vision.

I pick up Leonardo in the office each day and take him to my classroom. I walk next to him while he uses the lockers and wall as a guide. We had done this for about 4 months when Leonardo asked me a question, “How come your hallway doesn’t have a fire extinguisher above the lockers like the hallway upstairs?”  Now, I’ve taught in my building for over 7 years. Not once have I noticed the placement (or really even existence) of our fire extinguishers. This experience made me wonder… what else am I missing as I follow the pattern of my life in all activities?

Later that day, I went on my daily run, yet this time I took a look around. I examined the houses I pass every day and looked for different features I may have missed. I took a chance to admire the blue sky, the trees, and all of the scenery that I had barely given a second glance before. I found that my Starbucks route was actually pretty scenic. I considered that my Sears route would be a great place to people watch. Finally, I felt my eyes open wider to the world around me, as if I didn’t want to miss any clues or revelations along the way.

Most importantly, Leonardo’s words and that run made me consider the other things and people in my life that might be blending into the hustle and bustle of daily life and the pull of familiarity. There are so many great things to see and people to appreciate that are right in front of me, yet I wondered just how often I truly “saw” them.

Moving forward, I plan to use Leonardo’s insights as my guide and break out of the familiarity of my routine a bit more.  I’ll still probably visit the same places, eat the same things, and do the same activities as I did before, but from now on I plan to pay more attention as I do.

After all, if I had missed the location as something as important as a fire extinguisher for all of these years, what else might I be missing?  I plan to find out.

Next time you run your route, whether it’s new or the one you’ve run for years and years, open your eyes, friends.  There’s a whole world waiting for you to discover.

By Abbey Algiers

imrunnerchica.com

Copyright 2013

Focus on your Assets


Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

– Zig Ziglar

At a recent staff meeting, my principal began by asking the teachers how the school year was going.  As can be expected, there were mixed reviews, and a cyclone of complaints steadily gained momentum.  From staff shortages to computer problems to general middle school issues, the natives were definitely getting restless.  My principal acknowledged these “deficits” but had one request for us… he asked us to focus on our assets instead of the things we were lacking.  He told us he was aware that there were tons of additional items we needed, but unfortunately, we couldn’t have them all. So, could we ban together and accentuate the positive, doing the best with the resources we had?

Now, I’ll have to admit that I’m a little brain-dead during after school meetings, and sometimes messages don’t hit home. In fact, many times I zone out completely. However, that day, I stopped and listened to his honest and sincere logic.

Focus on your assets.  That made a lot of sense, and actually reminded me of my most recent marathon, where I had some stretches where my assets were not at the forefront of my mind.  For some reason, I was feeling tired, sore, and wiped out at mile three. This is way too early to feel bad, so I started to freak out.

My inner dialog went something like this- My hip hurts. Why the hell does my left hip hurt? And why am I hungry? I shouldn’t be hungry now. Come to think of it, I’m kind of thirsty too… what is going on?

Then I ran a mile or two more, and just when my hip pain disappeared, my left knee began hurting.  Next it was my right ankle, then my left knee again.  I was convinced I would fall apart, right there on the course, before I even got to mile ten.  I knew I had to do something drastic in the “mind over matter” department.

 At first, I tried to tell myself that I felt great.  You are looking good. Your body feels great. You don’t have to use the bathroom. You’re not going to die.

Yet, all of these fine proclamations did little more than completely tick myself off.  It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when everything in the world is making you miserable including yourself.  So, I asked myself, “What would Oprah do now if she were in my Brooks Adrenalines?”  Surely she’d have a fabulous body-mind-spirit cure to get through.  I remembered her talking once about gratitude and  how it could help us through rough times.  Something about how it’s better to focus on what’s good instead of bad.  I wasn’t quite sure exactly what she said, so I decided to just focus on what I was grateful for.  It took me a minute to get the hang of it.

I’m grateful that even though I feel like total crap, I am able to run this marathon. (AM I able to run it?)

WHY am I running this marathon? Why does anyone run marathons?

I’m grateful it’s sunny out and not raining. It could be raining now, and I’d feel miserable in the rain. At least I’m miserable in the sunshine.

… refocus…

I’m grateful I have such a nice husband who woke up early to drive my friend and me to the start of this race.

I’m grateful my husband, parents, and sisters will be looking for me at mile 20. (Will I get there?)

I’m grateful to have such a nice running partner.

I’m grateful to have a cute new running outfit.

 It turned out that Oprah was right.  By paying attention to the good things in my life, it took the attention off my aches and pains, and I started to feel much better.  Slowly, but surely, I became more hopeful and started to actually enjoy the run.

Now, the run wasn’t a walk in the park after my exercise in being grateful. Yes, I hit some walls along the way and didn’t always feel so swell.  But, I found that focusing on the negative elements of my run only brought in more negative energy.  Similarly, when I focused on the positive, everything around me felt better.

The truth of the matter is, whether we’re running marathons or going through our daily lives, it’s just so much easier to complain about the things that we’re lacking, rather than the things that we have.  The job that’s not quite what we want, the house that isn’t perfect, the things we want to buy but can’t afford… the list could go on and on.

But I think that my principal and Oprah have it going on when they talk about focusing on the positive whenever possible, and using what we have to propel us forward.  After all, what we have… is what we have, so we might as well make the very best of it, even if what we have is a body that aches at mile 3.  Because to this Runnerchica, a bad day at mile 3 beats a good day on the couch any way you shake it.

Focus on your Assets


Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.

– Zig Ziglar

At a recent staff meeting, my principal began by asking the teachers how the school year was going.  As can be expected, there were mixed reviews, and a cyclone of complaints steadily gained momentum.  From staff shortages to computer problems to general middle school issues, the natives were definitely getting restless.  My principal acknowledged these “deficits” but had one request for us… he asked us to focus on our assets instead of the things we were lacking.  He told us he was aware that there were tons of additional items we needed, but unfortunately, we couldn’t have them all. So, could we band together and accentuate the positive, doing the best with the resources we had?

Now, I’ll have to admit that I’m a little brain dead during after school meetings, and sometimes messages don’t hit home. In fact, many times I zone out completely. However, that day, I stopped and listened to his honest and sincere logic.

Focus on your assets.  That made a lot of sense, and actually reminded me of my most recent marathon, where I had some stretches where my assets were not at the forefront of my mind.  For some reason, I was feeling tired, sore, and wiped out at mile three. This is way too early to feel bad, so I started to freak out.

My inner dialog went something like this- My hip hurts. Why the hell does my left hip hurt? And why am I hungry? I shouldn’t be hungry now. Come to think of it, I’m kind of thirsty too… what is going on?

Then I ran a mile or two more, and just when my hip pain disappeared, my left knee began hurting.  Next it was my right ankle, then my left knee again.  I was convinced I would fall apart, right there on the course, before I even got to mile ten.  I knew I had to do something drastic in the “mind over matter” department.

 At first, I tried to tell myself that I felt great.  You are looking good. Your body feels great. You don’t have to use the bathroom. You’re not going to die.

Yet, all of these fine proclamations did little more than completely tick myself off.  It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when everything in the world is making you miserable including yourself.  So, I asked myself, “What would Oprah do now if she were in my Brooks Adrenalines?”  Surely she’d have a fabulous body-mind-spirit cure to get through.  I remembered her talking once about gratitude and  how it could help us through rough times.  Something about how it’s better to focus on what’s good instead of bad.  I wasn’t quite sure exactly what she said, so I decided to just focus on what I was grateful for.  It took me a minute to get the hang of it.

I’m grateful that even though I feel like total crap, I am able to run this marathon. (AM I able to run it?)

WHY am I running this marathon? Why does anyone run marathons?

I’m grateful it’s sunny out and not raining. It could be raining now, and I’d feel miserable in the rain. At least I’m miserable in the sunshine.

… refocus…

I’m grateful I have such a nice husband who woke up early to drive my friend and me to the start of this race.

I’m grateful my husband, parents, and sisters will be looking for me at mile 20. (Will I get there?)

I’m grateful to have such a nice running partner.

I’m grateful to have a cute new running outfit.

 It turned out that Oprah was right.  By paying attention to the good things in my life, it took the attention off my aches and pains, and I started to feel much better.  Slowly, but surely, I became more hopeful and started to actually enjoy the run.

Now, the run wasn’t a walk in the park after my exercise in being grateful. Yes, I hit some walls along the way and didn’t always feel so swell.  But, I found that focusing on the negative elements of my run only brought in more negative energy.  Similarly, when I focused on the positive, everything around me felt better.

The truth of the matter is, whether we’re running marathons or going through our daily lives, it’s just so much easier to complain about the things that we’re lacking, rather than the things that we have.  The job that’s not quite what we want, the house that isn’t perfect, the things we want to buy but can’t afford… the list could go on and on.

But I think that my principal and Oprah have it going on when they talk about focusing on the positive whenever possible, and using what we have to propel us forward.  After all, what we have… is what we have, so we might as well make the very best of it, even if what we have is a body that aches at mile 3.  Because to this Runnerchica, a bad day at mile 3 beats a good day on the couch any way you shake it.