Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2016

I just couldn't do it. It wasn't for lack of trying -- I had changed the speed, the incline. I had taken a pause to sip some much-needed Nuun and then another to wipe my face.

But after 1.68 miles, I hit the red stop button on the treadmill at the Cincinnati YMCA, grabbed a spray bottle and threw in the towel. Literally.

As I walked out of the aerobics room and toward the bathroom, my stomach angry from the previous evening's party food, the wellness attendant politely wished me a happy new year and waved good bye.

Good bye. Good bye, 2016.

The run -- if you can even call it that -- on Dec. 31 was not how I wanted to end the year. While the general consensus is that 2016 was no better than a case of the trots, when it came to running, 2016 was a very good year for me.

I ran 1,375 miles - an all-time high.

I set a PR at every distance I raced. I dropped my 5K time from 25:17 to 25:15 and then 24:47. I dug deep at the Carmel Half Marathon and bested my half marathon time from 2010 (1:54:12) with a 1:53:20. And then, not only did I make my return to marathons -- I ran two and PR'd both times.

 photo race_2224_photo_44703571_zpsgayhldkl.jpg

I tackled trails and ran Ragnar Cascades with Team Nuun.

I ran some of the most challenging courses (Running Between the Vines) and iconic races (Indianapolis Mini Marathon). I raced at my best and worst (also they Indy Mini).

 photo BC7EADD2-4AFD-4D99-98BF-76BC7CD17D83_zpsp2ra59vm.jpg

I made new running friends, cemented old running relationships.

And, most importantly, I found a confidence in my running that I had been missing for longer than I care to admit.

So, yes, it was a very good year.

But as I hung my head in the hallway, trying to decide my next course of action, I couldn't help but feel my angry stomach drop. The year deserved a better run and the strong, almost fearless girl I discovered in 2016 did, too.

Things don't always have the perfect ending, though. It's one of life's great lessons. One that we have to learn over and over ... and over again.

As we also have to learn over and over and over ... and over again, it's all in how we respond. So I faced that oh-so polite wellness attendant and walked back in. I raced past the treadmills and pondered the spin bikes before finding myself in a sequestered stretching area with Body Bars, Bosus and bands. For 20 minutes, I did a HIIT-style resistance workout that annihilated my glutes and set my triceps on fire.

And I was able to prove to myself that even when things aren't looking the way I pictured, I have strength and resilience -- and maybe that was what 2016 was really about.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Change

I walked into my first newsroom at the age of 18. Eager and excited, I was certain that I was meant to be a journalist.

My heart pitter-pattered as I listened to reporters make phone calls, and the sound of a fax machine made it skip a beat. And the song of a police scanner gave me goosebumps and caused a rush of adrenaline.

I spent that summer, my first after high school, typing honor roll, dean's lists and marriage licenses. It was far from a glamorous life at the group of weekly community newspaper but it was something and I was sure that that something would lead to something else.

And it did. From that June on, I never spent more than a summer outside a newsroom. I wrote stories and edited copy. I covered government meetings, court hearings. I wrote feature stories and news pieces. I became one of the youngest editors-in-chief at the daily student newspaper at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and kept the position for nearly a year. My fist job out of college began the day after I graduated and I followed the work to Fort Wayne.

When I joined the morning daily in 2004, I was excited to be at an operation with a respectable circulation and have the opportunity to grow. There was good journalism happening, veteran editors and reporters and an atmosphere of curiosity, excitement and security. And grow I did. I quickly moved into middle management and thrived on the challenge of the work.

But somewhere down the line, things changed. Maybe it was me. Maybe it was the business. Maybe it was both.

My passion to discover and share the news dulled and the work became just that – work. The eager, excited girl who got her start at the Western Hills Press had been replaced by someone weighed down by office politics and growing responsibilities that were a direct result of the decline of print media.

It wasn't until my office experienced its first round of layoffs at the beginning of the year, though, that I really accepted that I was no longer where I was meant to be. I was no longer where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do.

Of course, that knowledge didn't make anything simple. Working wasn't just a choice; it was something I had to do – personally and financially.

At first, I thought I would just find a traditional job, 40 hours a week Monday through Friday, that would make use of my skill set. Writing, editing, social media. I figured I could jump into public relations, marketing, content management. However, it was much harder than I imagined and I found myself continually frustrated that I was not finding the right fit. I doubted myself, my abilities – all the things that had seemed so certain many years ago.

The thing is, though: The obvious plan might not always be the right one. And the right plan might not be the perfect one.

One day, when things seemed particularly frustrating, I sent an email. I had spent months thinking about sending that note to our pastor, putting in my application for youth director, but it always seemed far-fetched. I was a journalist. I was a working woman. I was a mom who could not stay at home. I was not the model of Christianity. I was not a leader of children. I was not a mom who could work part-time and stay at home.

And yet, I am.

Because the email I sent that day was the missing piece in the puzzle I had been trying to solve. When I snapped it in, everything else came together. My family, my passions, my life outside a newsroom.

So, on Nov. 4, I worked my last day as a full-time journalist. It was ... is .. bittersweet.

I know, though, that I am doing the right thing. And what is it I'm doing? I'm the youth director at church, leading the junior and senior students. I am a freelance writer, contributing a weekly column to the newspaper as well as other features. I am a wellness coach/personal trainer/LiveStrong coordinator/fitness instructor at the YMCA.

I am someone who followed her heart, rebuilding that fire she had at 18. Only this time, it's not to tell someone else's story. It's to write my own.