Well, I’ve arrived. I’ve unofficially reached the middle of my life...or at least that’s what 36 feels like. If I were running a race, I’d have just passed the sign marking the halfway point. And, just like in a race, it feels good to reach this point – with hard earned miles behind me and an open road ahead of me.
Running is a solo sport that offers time for brutal self-reflection. It involves a constant battle between your mind, your heart, and your body to not give up…to keep pushing forward. It is a microcosm of life and I think that’s why I like it so much. And throughout the miles I’ve learned a lot about myself. When trudging up hills I learned what my body and mind were capable of accomplishing. The hills taught me persistence and strength, grit and determination. And on the downhill sprints, when the terrain was easier to navigate and the wind was at my back, I learned to enjoy the race and savor the sweet moments. The sprints taught me humility and confidence, attitude and ambition.
As I make my way around that halfway marker and reach for the Dixie cup of water, I pause for reflection about the person I am and the person I still want to be. I make no apologies for the medals and personal records won along the way, and I make no excuses for the scars earned from tripping over potholes. I know both what I expect from life and what I cannot accept. Excuses don’t live here…and this is what I won’t apologize for:
1. Knowing What I Want
I want good food and good wine, good friends and good times. These are now considered non-negotiables in my life. During this second half, I fully intend to find time for the sweeter things of life. I’ll continue a good conversation even if it’s 2am and I have to get up for work in the morning. I’ll say yes to the weekend adventure and yes to the wild unknown. I’ll indulge in dessert and order the expensive champagne. I’ll buy the damn shoes.
I want handholding down the pier and dancing in the kitchen. I want to watch my kids grow up from the stands and time to run the race myself. I want fancy dinners on Friday and fishing trips on Sunday. I want real…and I won’t settle for anything less.
2. Knowing What I Cannot Accept
Atticus said it best – “The hardest step she ever took was to blindly trust in who she was.” It takes confidence to step out into the light and courage to stand on the stage. Because the performance of your life can have as many critics as it has standing ovations, and you have to be willing to take the good with the bad and learn from both.
I cannot accept split loyalties. I cannot accept fake friendships or false fans. I cannot allow my own shortfalls to impact how I treat others. I cannot allow my past mistakes to determine my future success. I cannot accept limititations on my ambitions. I cannot accept restrictions on my time or commentary about how I choose to spend it. I cannot accept anything less than butterflies.
3. Knowing My Value
At the risk of sounding overly confident, I know my value and worth. This isn’t to say that I’m more valuable than anyone else…it’s quite the opposite. During those peaks and valleys of the last 36 years, I’ve had quite a few running partners along the way. Some held me up, some helped me up, and some made me chase them to keep up. They were all valuable in my journey and I like to think that they taught me about myself.
In this second half of the race, I hope to offer myself as a holder, a helper, and a pace setter to others who want to join my journey. I know I can be all three and I know that all three have value. So, I will not apologize for knowing when to run with someone or knowing when to run ahead, and recognizing the difference when it comes along.
I am excited about the vistas that I haven’t even imagined yet and the scenery I will enjoy along the way of this second half of the race. To be sure, there will be many cold and rainy days when I just won’t feel like lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement. I’ll do it anyway. Because I’ve learned that the sunny days seem a little sunnier with the experience of a thunderstorm, and any day you can feel the freedom of the road is a good day.
So, I make no apologies for these dirty running shoes. They’ve carried me through cramped muscles and finish lines, and they are as familiar with the runner’s high as they are with the first step of the first mile. But as long as I keep putting left in front of right, and right in front of wrong...the rest will take care of itself.
~Stacey (Hustlin' In Heels podcast co-host)
*Want to hear Kaylee and Stacey chat about how they hustle through stress and burnout? Click HERE for this week's Hustlin' In Heels podcast episode.
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