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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Running to the Music of my Life

Anne Shirley asks early in L.M. Montgomery's novel, Anne of Green Gables, "Which would you rather be if you had the choice - divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?"

My answer was always beautiful.

Having grown up in a home where a regular topic of conversation was my lack of beauty, I have always had this desire to feel pretty. I felt that all my childhood problems (my grandmother would like me, my father would want to see me, my mother would be involved in my life more) would be solved if I were beautiful.


Thankfully, I didn't seek unhealthy ways to feel better about myself, such as alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity as an adolescent and young adult. But I did binge eat and avoid many social situations.



Once I moved out of my grandparent's home, I started exercising about five days a week, and I got my eating under control mostly. I mean I love good food, and I have allowed it to comfort me through postpartum depression and my miscarriages. When I am not comforting myself with food, I follow a healthier diet and exercise plan. I am never thin, but I maintain a larger but fit body size.


But that young girl that thought physical beauty would solve all of her problems has remained a part of me. That meant that most of my thoughts surrounding diet and exercise would focus on my physical appearance. The desire for good health was there, too, but it took a backseat to my pants size and the number on the scale. This year I have been trying to focus less on my appearance and more on my overall health - physical, mental and spiritual.


For the last couple of years, my exercise of choice has been running. I have always listened to music when I run. I usually listen to current music; a lot of Alice Russell, Florence + The Machine, and Demi Lovato (don't judge). Since I ran in my basement, I did not have to wear those awful earbuds. One day I realized that while I was listening to music my thoughts tended to turn negative, and they were all about my physical appearance and the number on the scale. They were the type of thoughts that I wanted to avoid, so I switched my music to Christian music in an effort to be angelically good. Guess what? It didn't feel right. I felt like I was doing both things, spending time with the Lord and exercising, poorly. So I broke up with music completely and created a dazzlingly clever plan. I decided to run outside instead of in my basement, and I enlisted one of my favorite people to join me on my run.


my running partner

Ralph loves to talk. He can talk all day long. I knew that he would help me to focus on important things, like flowers, bugs, birds, neighbors, dogs, what we had for dinner the night before. You get the idea. I knew he would keep my thoughts from turning inward, and then ultimately turning negative.


It has been fun! Ralph rides his bike, and I run beside or behind him and we enjoy nature and each other for 20 to 30 minutes. At the end of our time together, all I am thinking about is how good I feel, and we are both happy with what we have accomplished.


I don't miss the music because Ralph's voice, the sound of my feet hitting the asphalt, and my breathing are better than recorded music. They are the music of my life.


side by side

Anne Shirley was not able to answer her question. She tells Matthew Cuthbert, "I can never decide. But it doesn't make much real difference for it isn't likely I'll ever be either. It's certain I'll never be angelically good."


It is not a question that needs an answer. Sometimes we will be beautiful, other times clever, and hopefully we will always strive for goodness, and we will have times in our life when we radiate all three qualities. I finally realize what L.M. Montgomery tried to tell me through eight wonderful books. A life well lived is one spent in the company of those we love and who love us, encouraging each other; a life filled with affection and loyalty and faith. 


13 comments:

  1. That was very beautiful done. I know what you mean about leaving the music behind . I have been running outside more than on the treadmill and it always makes me feel more grateful about the day Than when I run on the treadmill. I think you would really love to do a triathlon. Start small. Aren't we blessed that we are able to move. Praying for you. God bless.

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    1. It is a blessing to be able to move! Thank you for your kind comment! :)

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  2. I love this post..good for you for sticking with running and having a great running partner!!

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  3. So good. I always exercise with music but the other day I didn't. Instead I prayed a rosary and just listened to the sounds of nature. It was a refreshing change and something I should definitely do more often.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Melody! I think if I need to run without my partner I will try to spend the time in prayer.

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  4. I've struggled at times with focusing too much on appearance as well but have moved towards health and strength instead. Keep going towards that end! Lately I've been listening to Stephanie Gretzinger on my runs. Her Christian music is up beat enough that it's been uplifting to hear!
    P.S. stopping over from Cath Women Bloggers :)

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    1. I am not familiar with Stephanie Gretzinger. I will check out her music. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! :)

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  5. I always wanted to be clever. Everyone in my family seems to have very sharp wits and can just spitfire quips like a BB gun. I don't have that. Not an ounce. But then I realized something, all that quick quipping cleverness was really just a mean bickering back and forth that accomplished nothing. It was all just a battle of wits to prove who was better. I never felt the need to prove I was better at anything because we all have our own strengths and weaknesses so why compete? Good post today and good luck with your running. =)

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    1. Thanks Natalie! You are right; we don't need to compete with our family!

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  6. I love Anne Shirley's question, to which in my early years I would have answered clever..now I am seeking to go deeper and reach further in faith. My Thomas (9) is always talking, much like Ralph, and I have grown accustomed to turning off the music with each, "Mom, I have a question.." It is never a short conversation but always a blessing!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Elizabeth. I have a Thomas, also. He is eleven. He is my quietest child. But all three of my boys are talkers. I would not have guessed that boys could talk so much! Ha!

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  7. Beautifully written! You even inspired me to write about something I have been thinking about for awhile, I will link back to this. I need to start running again now that Henry is almost 1 and I often struggle to exercise eat well for the right reasons too. I also long to feel beautiful and can relate to the criticisms you speak of. What a beautiful life you have made for you and your family! Thanks for sharing this.

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