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I’ve Talked the Talk, and Now I’ve Walked the Walk!

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The journey of a 5K starts with the support of two amazing friends, one of whom is walking beside me in this picture!

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So, like I said, no idea if this will work or if it is just another lame-ass attempt on my part that will fall by the wayside in a few hours/days/weeks.  I hope not, but my track record is not good in this department.  I do know this:  since the idea came, and Christy asked, I have been to the gym every day.

-Quote from my post, The Dreaded Topic, published June 5, 2013

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Before I talk about Saturday, some very, very important details need to addressed:  I would not be writing this post at all, I would not be feeling the amazing accomplishment I feel, if it weren’t for two very special people.  First and foremost, a teary-eyed thank you to my mentor Christy who writes Running on Sober.  Had it not been for her inspiration, motivation, encouragement, and dedication, I would not have this accomplishment to brag about!  Thank you seems inadequate, but it’s all I’ve got.

Second, and equally important:  Kristen, who writes Bye Bye Beer.  I can now claim Kristen as an “in-person friend” as well as a blogging friend, a miracle in and of itself!  If Kristen had not jumped in right away, volunteered to participate in a 5K with me, further volunteered to slow herself down to a walk when I injured my leg, I mean it when I say:  I never, ever would have followed through with participating in this race.  It was the personal connection and accountability that truly motivated me to see this project through to the end.

With all that build-up, it seems almost anticlimactic to say:  I participated in my first 5K this past weekend!  I still can’t believe it’s over, I have been working towards it for what feels like an eternity, but really it’s only been a few months.  The nuts and bolts of the day:  the weather was perfect!  Brisk and cool, some sun but not too much, in a beautiful state park in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Kristen and I found each other with no problems at all, and it was such an amazing thing… meeting up with someone in person whom you have gotten to know so personally, but online.  Is this what a live date with Match.com feels like?!?  I also met a friend of hers (she lives much closer to the race site than I do), and that was really fun, also, and of course my kids and husband got to meet Kristen.

5K logo

All too quickly they made the announcement to line up, and that is where the nerves started!  Remember, I have never done anything like this in my life.  Again, the miracle that is Kristen, patiently talking me through the process:  what was happening in the present, what was about to happen, in a calm way that put me at ease.  A woman from the Caron foundation said some beautiful and inspiring words about recovery, which served as a reminder for me as to why I was even doing this in the first place, and put me even more at ease.

Then the yell for the start began and we… walked!  We walked, and talked, and walked and talked some more.  The trail was quite a bit hillier than the trail where I trained at home, but otherwise it felt just as good as all the 5K’s I practiced in preparation for this day.  Actually, it felt better, in that I was so focused on talking to Kristen, I was completely unaware that I was exerting myself at all!  Before we knew it, we were at the halfway point, and a volunteer was handing us water… I couldn’t believe it!

I had resigned myself to the idea that I would be the slowest walker there, but the halfway point was actually a turnaround, and the second half is the same path as the first half, and I was amazed by how many people were behind us…so we weren’t the slowest!  Yeah, my training did pay off!

As we approached the finish line, my husband jumped out to take pictures, my daughter stood at the sidelines cheering, and my son jumped onto the trail, took my hand, and finished the last steps with me.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of joy that comes with all that.  I was reminded of how far I’ve come, in the race, in my exercise goals, and, in the largest sense, in my recovery from addiction.  All those feelings within me as I crossed that finish line, it is definitely not a moment I will soon forget.  A truly spectacular day!

Today’s Miracle:

This is technically yesterday’s miracle, but… Kristen and I were milling around after the race, and the DJ makes an announcement:  “we’d like to send a shout-out to a fan favorite, Josie!”  Turns out, my daughter was befriending the DJ throughout the race, and asked him to give me some props.  How lucky am I to have such a supportive family?

Worlds Are Colliding!

I had an interesting experience last night that I thought I’d share about today.  I was asked to speak at a lecture series run by an organization called PRO-ACT (Pennsylvania Recovery Organization-Achieving Community Together), which is an advocacy and recovery support initiative.  My lecture was a compilation of the series I wrote on this blog, found in the category labelled Twelve Steps in Everyday Living, in case you are interested.

Here are the reasons why last night was unique.  First, I have never done anything quite like it before.  In AA, I have been asked to share my story multiple times, and of course that has certain anxieties associated with it, but this felt a lot different.  I guess when I am telling someone my life story, there is no room for opinion or rebuttal.  It’s not like someone is going to stand up and say, “No, I don’t agree that you lived like that!”  Whereas in presenting my writing, there is room for criticism, or dissenting opinion, or complete disinterest (I guess, now that I think about it, there could be complete disinterest in my life story, but so far I have not encountered it!).

Another difference is the audience.  In AA, I feel at home, and I believe that at the heart of it we are all the same.  In this room of about 50, I have no idea who is really present, because it is open to the public.  For all I know TMZ was there recording me so they could make fun of me on that night’s broadcast (I sincerely hope everyone knows me well enough to know that I am joking!).  Yes, I do put my writing and opinion out there for the blogging world to see, but there is certainly more anonymity in sitting at my home computer than there is standing at a podium in front of live human beings.

So, I definitely had serious butterflies going into the evening.  I arrived, and found I would be the second of the two scheduled speakers… whew!  I have some time to relax.  I sat through the first speaker, ironically enough the subject was mindfulness, that poor woman certainly had at least one audience member completely unable to stay in the present!  There was a break, and the hosts were setting up my power point presentation, and…

In walked my husband, who rushed as quickly as he could from our daughter’s basketball game to come and support me.  Such a beautiful moment, and I thanked him immediately, but also said I would be able to give more genuine gratitude once my lecture was finished.  We’re chit-chatting, in an attempt to calm my frayed nerves, and the thought occurred to me…

I am going to share my story in front of my husband!

Now, true enough, the majority of this lecture is material he has already read, but the first 5-10 minutes of it was my qualification, why I have the right to be standing in front of these people and discussing the 12 steps of recovery.  To qualify myself, I need to give the highlights, or, rather, lowlights, of my active addiction, and the consequences of it.  Ye Gads, I thought I was nervous before this thought, that was nothing compared to what I was feeling now!

And then I mentally reviewed all that I was going to cover.  Am I revealing any new truths?  Nope.  Covering ground that hadn’t yet been covered by us as a couple?  Again, no.  Am I, at the heart of it all, speaking my own personal truth, and am I willing to stand by what I am saying?  That’s a big Hell Yeah!

So I took a deep breath, and, as those marketing geniuses at Nike would say… I just did it.  And I got through it, without embarrassing myself in any way (that I am aware of).  And no one ran out of the room screaming, no one fell asleep in their chairs (that I am aware of), so I guess I will call it a success.  But for me, the biggest takeaway, I will list below…

Today’s Miracle:

That I can tell my story, I can share my real self, and my husband tells me that he has never been prouder of me… that is a real miracle.

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