Skip to main content

For 2016: Have More Faith

This past year was one of the most challenging years of my life. It started out with a loose foundation: fresh out of a long-term relationship, living in a new space, still new at my job. I had some early successes with running, but that changed abruptly when I developed pain in my left foot that would keep me from running for the rest of the year. Running was therapy for me. It provided me with a physical outlet, a meditative space, a constant cycle of challenge and reward. It gave me confidence and kept me healthy—except when it didn't. So without a lot of stability to begin with, my world as I knew it was shaken, and I had little to fall on. And rather than reach out to loved ones, I wanted to fall apart. I was lucky to have some close friends and family members help pick me up. I was able to end the year on a good note, spending lots of time with family, dedicating myself more to swimming, and appreciating whatever abilities I had in a given day, even when it wasn't running. I tried to feel more gratitude for life in all of its dimensions.

And that brings us to the new year. Here is my obligatory and unapologetic list of goals for 2016, with a look back at the past year.

2015's Goals in Review
  1. Get back into top running shape.
    I did PR my half-marathon time, but running thereafter was cut short, so, partly met.
  2. Ride my new bike.
    I did this and more. Actually, I traded that bike in for another, and then that one in for another in an effort to get the most performance out of cycling, once I realized I'd be taking a hiatus from running.
  3. Visit a new place.
    Technically, yes. I went to a professional conference in Pittsburgh. But I didn't have much of an opportunity to explore the city, so I'm only halfway counting it.
  4. Spend more time with girlfriends.
    Yep. This came rather automatically, having spent the year single.
  5. Do what scares me.
    I did do one big thing I'd previously been afraid of—I took up swimming. I started in May with very little idea of what I was doing, and now I average about 3.5 miles per week of lap swimming. The best part? I love it.
  6. Read more books.
    I did finish some books this year, but not nearly as many as I'd hoped I would. More work to do on this one.
  7. Give myself more credit.
    Why is this one so hard? I think on the whole I met this goal. That's not to say there wasn't room for improvement, but in an effort to give myself more credit, I'm giving this one a "goal met."
  8. Budget better.
  9. Be successful at work.
    I did have several big, measurable successes, and I also grew more confident in my new position. 
  10. Listen to more music.
    Sort of. I listened to more of what I already knew, but I didn't try to discover anything new, which I think was part of the intention behind this goal.

2016 Goals

  1. Have more faith in things.
    A couple of recent conversations with friends have helped me realize that I could use work in this area. (1) In talking to a running friend about my ongoing foot troubles, he suggested that I have faith that my foot will get better. He was right to intuit that I'd pretty much given up. I had put all of my faith in doctors—many of them—and hardly in myself or my body, and I ended up continually disappointed. (2) Another friend recently pointed out my "pragmatic" approach to a situation that might have benefitted from more of an optimistic, even romantic (in the sense of being imaginative, hopeful) view.  It made me wonder what else about my life might be different if I were able to take on a more auspicious outlook. So, duly noted, friends. 
  2. Meet swimming goals.
    I've actually already set a couple of goals for swimming—one that will keep me swimming throughout the year, and another that is more performance based. I joined a 111 Miles Swim Challenge, which is a year-long challenge that started through November 2016. At my December check-in I was just over 30 miles. I feel pretty confident I'll be able to successfully complete this one. I also wanted to make a pace goal for myself, and because I was fairly close to swimming 50 (50-yard) laps in 50 minutes, I set a personal goal to exceed that pace. Recently I came close with 50 minutes and 11 seconds, so I have a feeling I'll meet that goal soon and likely make a new one.
  3. Write more.
    Journal, blog, write good or crappy poetry, try a personal essay, write a sentence, a few words--all of it counts. Just do it. Daily.
  4. Visit a new place.
    This one stays on the list. Perpetually. My travels used to revolve around an event, like a marathon. It's been a long time since I've just gone somewhere to explore the place. And there are so many places I want to explore—within and outside of the U.S. I just need to plan to do it, without any other reason.
  5. Follow through with grad school.
    For a second time, I've been admitted to a graduate program, the first of which I didn't follow through with. But this time I feel more ready and excited about it. However, because I'll be a part-time student of an online program, it might feel easy to disengage, or take it lightly. But I want to do it well and try to gain as much as skill and knowledge as possible from the experience.
  6. Nurture close relationships.
    I have a tendency to act as though good friend and family relationships will maintain themselves. But I've learned otherwise this year. I was negligent in taking care of some relationships that were actually very important to me, and I saw the negative affect of my actions, or inactions.
  7. Allow new relationships.
  8. See my potential.
    Why is this one so hard? I think on the whole I met this goal. That's not to say there wasn't room for improvement, but in an effort to give myself more credit, I'm giving this one a "goal met."
  9. Spend more time making food.
    Research shows that using our hands to create things helps relieve anxiety and depression. Hence the recent popularity of adult coloring books. I've also found that making food makes me feel good, gives me feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. Further, as someone who has struggled with food issues before, being able to not only control but also appreciate everything that goes into what I make eases my mind.
  10. Run.
    In keeping with the spirit of goal number 1, I would be remiss to not include this one. Of course I want desperately to be able to run again, but I've wanted to be realistic about when or whether that will happen. That realistic view, though, has perhaps crossed a little far into pessimism and has kept me from having hope. So without setting any parameters around this goal or measures of success, I say simply that I aim to run in 2016. 


Lee, Kathy and I hope 2016 is a year of growth and happiness for you. Sending you hugs.

People Liked to Read...

Surgery Chronicles: Start Here

I alluded in my last post to upcoming foot surgeries I'd soon be posting about. I'm now 19 days away from the first one, and my thoughts pretty constantly revolve around how my life will change after that when I wake up from my "twilight" sleep after the first operation. In my best frame of mind, the scenario is like this: I'll spend a few weeks out of commission, getting some forced rest, spend a few weeks in a boot, limited exercise, and my right foot will be recovered. Then I repeat on the left foot and by fall I'm back on my feet again. That's the Twitter version. But the version that most often plays out in my head is more like a volume of books, with the details of every day painstakingly planned, agonized over, and wondered about. How will I make food? Bathe? Focus on work? Get the mail, take out the trash, do laundry? Will I be in a lot of pain? Will I go crazy during my long days isolated at home? Will people forget about me? Will I get the resul…

Surgery Chronicles: Two Weeks Down

At the end of week two, I'm home on my own and feeling pretty good. But it definitely feels like time has moved slowly. Hopefully the coming weeks will go by a little faster, now that I'm set up for a routine and able to do more for myself.
First Follow-up I had my first follow-up appointment last week, which I'd been looking forward to pretty much since the day after surgery. Possibly because I was anticipating it so much, it felt like it would never come. But it did, and it went very well. I got my bulky dressing and "upper foot" cast off, and I finally saw my new foot! Of course, it wasn't beautiful; it was still tinted orange from the betadine used in surgery prep, it was swollen and a little bruised, and my incision was still healing and had strips of medical tape running along it (I'll save a barefoot photo for a later post). But my bunion was gone and my toe was aligned! That was the goal, and it was achieved.

The doctor said it only looked like I …

Surgery Chronicles: I Exhale

I've really been holding my breath with this recovery, more so than the last one for some reason. After getting past the three-week point (which was two weeks ago, when I started to write this), I felt a little more at ease. Since then I've been changing my own dressing daily and slowly weaning off of crutches so I can now walk around in the boot—hands-free! I'm still a slave to icing and elevating as much as possible throughout the day. But the very best part? There's no other foot left to do. After this, I'm done, done, done. I can start to return to a life not defined by sitting and waiting and feeling confined and limited and trying my hardest to heal but having little actual control over any of it.

I wrote in my last post about the difficult emotions I'd been having throughout this second surgery recovery. I think I underestimated the psychological toll I would take doing one foot right after the other. And while there was a feeling of elation after gettin…