I’ll admit at the start of this that I think my strengths lie in race recaps and recipe posts.
Part of my job as a health professional is getting people to think about “the big picture”, and looking at how small incremental steps, and actions work together to make a whole. This post is to practice what I preach.
While I don’t believe in living in the past, I am however, a firm believer in using our past & past experiences as teachable moments to draw from and reflect on to gauge progress (or not). I also think in this age of social media it is so easy to see what is most perfect or best in other peoples’ lives and compare ourselves to other people, which does not always yield the healthiest feelings or outcomes.
So in doing this decade recap I really wanted to be comprehensive in covering the peaks, and the pits.
In 2010 I got out of a really terrible relationship, which allowed me to meet the most incredible guy (Pat), I matched into the Dietetic Internship of my dreams, in doing so I left my forever home of Lansing/Mid-Michigan to move to Chicago- which was so exciting and SO scary all at the same time. I went through a lot of changes in this year and looking back, I see I didn’t really know how to take care of myself, I was very focused and goal oriented, but I didn’t exercise or eat right, or really even know how to manage my stress.
2011 evolved from 2010, I finished my internship, & masters program, and in doing so learned that stress management was important, and through this I found running. In 2011 I ran my first 5k, and it was the start of something that has lead to 1000’s of miles since.
2012 I became a Registered Dietitian(see picture below left)! In studying for this exam I kept really weird hours, so running became the easiest way to manage my stress, I found I was running more, and I was enjoying it, and setting larger goals. I ran my first 10k, and finished DEAD-FUCKING LAST. Yes you read that correctly, It sucked, I sucked I hated it and the world. My mom was there to support me, and didn’t understand why I was so upset when she took me out for pancakes afterwards. At the time I couldn’t see what she did, I accomplished a goal. In her eyes I did what I set out to do. In mine I saw how awful it was. Now looking back it shows how much harder I’ve worked and grown into running.
This year I also got my first job as a Diabetes Educator, and moved from the suburbs of Chicago to the city. It was a lot of transitions, and it also marked the first time I was financially on my own (no support financially from the parents). There was a lot of learning about rent, budgets, how to follow a budget, and about health insurance. In my first job I now had “work friends”, and was fortunate enough to really enjoy going to work. I was also invited to present my Masters Thesis at FNCE (Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo) in the fall, which meant a trip to Philly with my mom. I also ran my first half marathon!
2013 I finally got over my fears, and joined a run club. For someone who is a notorious homebody, I forged ahead in making a life for myself in Chicago, I had work friends, run friends, & Pat, I think at this point Chicago was finally my home, and it helped even more when I convinced my bestie Casey to move in with me. I also started running way more, and longer distances, I ran my first 10 mile and several half marathons this year.
2014 Pat graduated Law School! Y’all, if you ever want to test a relationship – date a law student during L1, and then stay together during Bar Prep. Looking at the big picture – we did ok, I had friends and running, and was able to be there for him while giving him space. This professionally was one of the hardest years of work, my solid work family slowly broke apart due to a change in hospital management, I took on a new role, and realized a lot: 1) I’m not cut out to manage other people, 2) money and job does not a career make 3) I knew I was cut out for clinical/education work, this led to me sitting for my CDE exam, passing, and starting a new role (my dream job) at the University of Chicago as a Diabetes Educator. As I was starting this job Pat also accepted his dream job, back in Lansing (not Chicago). I also ran my first marathon.
Pause- in the matter of 4 years I went from never making time to exercise or thinking about health (despite my profession) to making it a priority and running a marathon. It didn’t happen overnight nor do most changes.
2015 was another year of transition Pat moved, I loved my apartment job, and friends, & lifestyle. I didn’t want to move, but Pat and I had been together for 5 years at this point, marriage was on the table, so we made an agreement on whoever got a job in the opposite city first would move. It wasn’t as neat and tidy as that either- during this year I my dad had prostate cancer, I realized for the first time how burdensome it was to not be closer to my family. It made me realize a lot about what I wanted, and do some soul searching. By the end of this year I packed up my life (again), my cat, and trekked back to Michigan. Re-rooting this time was a bit easier – I was familiar with Lansing, and I knew I had options with regard to looking for run clubs.
I am a pretty decisive person (in fact I despise indecision), the decisions leading up to this move caused a lot of stress. It all ended up working out beautifully, but at the time, it felt like a shit sandwich.
Moving back ultimately led to great things, but hindsight is 20/20, I couldn’t see those things at the time. It also led to my current role, and dream job at Insulet.
2016 It was a year of running. I had a new running family, and new running goals. I loved it! It was the first year I ran 2 marathons in 1 year, and traveled with run club friends. Pat and I got engaged. While all of that was great, behind the scenes Pat had a fairly major surgery, he went through a perforated small bowel, and corrective surgery & then recovery. It gave us firsthand experience about the “in sickness and health” stuff.
2017 Was a fun year, we bought a house, adopted Luna, got married. We had health, friends, family, it was an incredible year.
2018 Started off really tough, in fact looking at the year as a whole I look back and think it was a pit year that did have some great peaks. 2017 was a peak, 2018 was a pit. It started off with our run club family saying goodbye to one of our own. Personally it was the first time I realized running is not always enough to manage stress. In 2018 I learned what anxiety really really meant, and that it is ok to find, and ask for help. I learned this applied personally and professionally. As result of everything that transpired I wanted to say “yes” to more experiences. I ran my first marathon in the UP, that we camped for before and after. This year of “yes” closed out with me saying yes to doing a 50k with some of my best friends and signing up.
2019 I wanted to take the year of “yes” into 2019 too. I had already said yes to a (trail) 50k, I said yes to a trail marathon. I learned to love running in a different way – that I didn’t always have to go fast, but could appreciate the experience of being with friends. I also learned that I needed other activities besides running, and that is OK! I entered a new phase of adulthood when I had to make the call to send my first child Chewy, over the rainbow bridge.
So quick recap: at the start of this decade I was a stressed out college student, with no ability or desire to run or participate in any sort of self care. I also don’t think I started this decade as the best version of myself. I’m not perfect now, but as I look back, I see growth over time, and that is valuable. I’ve said hellos and good-byes some harder than others, made several big life transitions. I feel very grateful for all of the experiences the good and the sad.
I can only hope in 2029 I look back and see growth like I do now, as a mom, dog mom, wife, daughter, friend, and professional.