I signed up for a challenge that invites me to run 2,017 miles in the year 2017. In the past, this would have seemed impossible for me but today on January 2. 2017, I gladly accept this challenge as it becomes a method for me to reinvent myself as I often will do near the beginning of a new year. I know that I can accomplish this goal and with time will see the improvement that taking on such a long-distance goal will add to my physical conditioning. Today, my heart rate is 57 for most of the day though I have been taking more rest than running. This will change in the next 24 hours. This challenge of 2,017 miles was just what I needed to get myself back in gear.
I have been more than contemplating staying here on the west coast; with a phone call this morning and a nice job offer. I have easily slipped into this relative upscale lifestyle that I shun back home in the Midwest. For those who know me well, I am not material; having little use for material objects that many here love to flaunt. If there is anything about this place of wonder, it’s the “in your face” materialism of many around me. My house is in a very high end area of this city; my cars are high end too but my thoughts on my runs of lately have focused on why I enjoy these material things here and embrace my simple life of teaching and spirituality back home in the Midwest. This is just a bit of my dual nature.
I will return back to my theological studies; now in the middle of my second year. I am not prepared to abandon this important part of my life. I know that I will complete the four-year program and incorporate this learning into my medical practice. My goal is to move into care of those at the end of their lives; something that is an honor for me to do. I also have some teaching goals that I have yet to complete.
On New Year’s Eve, I was dining and dancing at one of the most exclusive parties in a city that thrives on exclusivity. Here I stood in a designer satin evening gown dancing to Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra tunes. The locale was magical; a balcony to watch fireworks for a princess. Certainly, I am not a princess but I kept getting compliments on how beautiful I looked dressed as a socialite. Me, the amazon, the strong woman, the distance runner and empowered woman. The dichotomy of this world enticing because I have a bit of trepidation about how things will go in the next year.
I have meetings and get-togethers with my West coast friends until I leave at the end of the week. I am grateful to see old friends and grateful to spend time with some physicians who praised my sense of adventure. I toured the lab of a colleague this morning, offering suggestions and hearing his research ideas. He kept telling me that my talents are wasted in the organization and practice in my Midwest locale; I should be here at a more research-oriented institution with people who have as many ideas as I. This is heady stuff for someone such as myself who craves a simple life.
In my current practice, I have pared down the procedures and patients to only those that I wish to see; doing only the things that stir my passion. My research is humming along but I don’t want to ramp up research but ease out of that world. Still, meeting with the Ph.D. scientists in this lab; discussing aspects of what they are working on, brought back memories of my post-doc days of figuring the directions of where we would be going with our NIH grants and work.
I am also working on my creative writings and explorations. I want to finish some of my short fiction and write a quality screenplay. I love working with my extremely creative theatre colleagues as they share their crafts with me. While I don’t know their world, I know that I am fortunate to have their wise counsel as the ideas flow out of my head. They don’t know my world of medicine/life and I readily share these things with them.
My self-reinvention is a given and a constant. Just as I have seen the extreme changes in my body as I run my long distances, I see changes in my mind and my outlook. I take a fresh look at everything in my life. My “touchstone” in medicine shares this with me albeit that he is a far more gifted writer than I am. I appreciate that he has periods of creativity that produce some of the finest images that I have enjoyed. Such richness in his words.
Finally, my spirituality grows and changes me. This is the magic of prayer/meditation that those who do not participate in these activities do not understand. As deeply as I connect with humans around me, my prayer/meditation connects me with my spirit and my soul. There is great joy in this for me as every day provides something new and renewing. For this I am eternally grateful and thankful. I have found a personal serenity that moves at the speed of light. Surprisingly, no valleys but much happiness and quietness as I come to the end of this wonderful trip.