Staying in the Race

I was looking through some old posts and thinking about where I am in the year. We are more than halfway through 2018. I’m starting to see posts about how many Mondays there are until Christmas. And, of course, the dreaded back to school shopping is looming. My kids go back in 2.5 weeks.

And yet, where am I? I signed on with Nanowrimo and wrote a novel in 30 days last November. I finished it on November 28. My mom died December 8. I put the book in a drawer with my husband’s notes. I pushed the laptop closed. And that was that.


But it’s time to stand back up. Get off the curb. Stop spectating. All of this reminded me of a post from 2.5 years ago that I’m copying below, in case it is of some use to anyone else.

I took me years to truly grasp how much I love a new year. It’s because I live in constant fear of my own mistakes and in constant regret when I make them. I am bad at letting things go. And the beautiful thing about a new year is that you get a free pass to crumple up that previous one with any exponential number of regrets and drop it in the nearest trash receptacle. And then you get to take out that fresh, white piece of paper and pretend that maybe this year…this will be different. I will be different. I will do that thing. I will make the change. I’m sorry this turned into Man in the Mirror. That was subconscious, I assure you.

Every New Year’s, I see the memes all over Facebook¬† that “Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” There is something to this. I usually buy in 100%. Especially on January 1. Because on January 1, I haven’t done a single thing poorly. Not one thing! I am 100% successful in a new year.

Currently, on July 25, that’s not my story. It’s been quite a year. I’m not unproud of it. I’m not ashamed or rueful or even indifferent. But I’ve become more a non-participant than I’d like to be. I am reminded of January 1, 2016 when, wanting to celebrate my 90 minutes of mistake-free New Year’s Triumph (it was 9:30 a.m.), I took my new fitness tracker and went out on a walk.¬† Shortly into this walk, I encountered a runner wearing a race bib. This person wasn’t exactly running. Nor were the stragglers behind him. It became clear to me within moments of my first racer sighting that this was the end of the race. The very end. These guys had been at it for awhile. They had been BEAT UP by this race. And as I climbed the only hill in my flat central FL tinytown, I saw the last place runner coming toward me. I know she was last place because she was being followed by a police car with his lights on. So either she was being arrested for running too slow, or he was the cop signaling the end of the race.

This woman was struggling. She was barely in it. I visually took her in, as much as I could, in the few moments we intersected. I somewhat unintentionally locked eyes with her briefly as she continued her woggle (jog + walk + wobble–I am familiar with the sport) down that hill, and she managed a weak, sheepish, almost apologetic smile at me. It was a smile that said she was embarrassed. She was sorry she wasn’t faster, thinner, nimbler, edgier. She seemed sorry it was her in front of that cop car. She seemed sorry I saw her. Sorry we made eye contact. She’d been caught in last place. But I wasn’t sorry at all. Because right then it hit me: A last place finish is still a finish. She was slow, sure. She was struggling, clearly. But she was IN THAT RACE. She had a bib on. She wore the sweat like a trophy. She had the cop car behind her. She was going to finish that race. And she did.

Me? I didn’t even know about the race until I turned off my street to take my January 1 Victory Walk. I wasn’t in the race at all. Last place was ahead of me. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s still half a year on my calendar and there’s still plenty of racing yet to do. So with school just around a dirty little corner and 21 Mondays until Christmas, I think I better grab a race bib and slip in just ahead of the cop car.

Peace, friends.