Showing Up

I’ve run away a lot in my life. I avoid social situations where I don’t have control. I like my routines, my boxes and things a certain way. My brain has a way it wants things done. When things are not that way, I have an internal battle where I convince myself not to run away.

On the surface, I seem very social, easy-going and up for most things. On a deeper level, it takes a lot of work to get me there. I’m not saying I would rather be a shy mouse in the corner, but I don’t branch out very often. I don’t do many social situations after 6PM. I make sure I give myself enough time for 8 hours of sleep.

I don’t go to bars, I don’t drink much. I like to have dinner at home. I like to get up early and go to bed early. I like to take my time.

Then, I started to build relationships and have friends. I have a huge family unit I love being a part of. Though these people drive me crazy sometimes and push me out of my Zen zone, I would not trade them for that comfort.

The second half of 2017 looked a lot different than the first half. The first half I needed to get away from Ithaca, from friends and from what I was used to. Essentially, I ran away from that comfort, but I also ran away from the responsibility that comes with forming relationships. I had a reason not to show up. I lived further away after all. Sorry, no can do. Bridal shower? Sorry, gotta work. Christmas? Hmm, I actually can’t make that. No I wasn’t mad at anyone, but I was in my comfort zone, alone, doing what I knew. I was content living that way.

In the second half of 2017, things started to change. I met Michael, Eric, Sheila and Lisa from TrailsRoc and they made me a part of their family. I started to work with my friend and running coach Mike, which forced me to be accountable with training and what I was doing. I started to crave people who liked me for me. Even crazier, I missed my family because they became people who I could talk to, lean on and laugh with. Rather than loving them because they are blood, I loved them because I love them. They make me feel whole.

Making these relationships, running a few crazy races and job circumstances led me back to Ithaca, to living with people and running with guidance. I was overjoyed to move back, but I had changed and so did my need for control.

Having relationships means showing up. It means being where you say you’ll be. It means being honest. I no longer felt “bad” for saying “yes I’ll be there but I have a run first.” In the past, I felt like I was doing something wrong or I didn’t care enough. Granted, if it was important, I skip said run, but building a new relationship with my family meant that they also understood who I was. They understand I run and doing that before I help my mom at her store or work with my dad doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it means that my priorities make running first (early before they are awake or opening up shop) and then I am more productive, happier and we get more done.

Showing up means being present, not worrying about other things that “need” to get done. Showing up means connecting when we can, but also not expecting an answer super fast because we all have things we want to do. Showing up for me meant loosening my vegan dietary preferences. Showing up meant loosening my need for control. Showing up reminded me that I don’t need to be alone and that if I do make plans one day instead of have a day to myself, the world doesn’t end, I still get my stuff done and I usually feel even more invigorated afterwards.

Showing up means not living a life online. Showing up means just being there.

Showing up is hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s worth it.

2017 taught me how to show up. No turning back now 🙂

Van Life Currently December 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s up with my van.

I had a good trip to JFK in late November I’ve been working on it slow and steady. The inside was already converted and had the electric done, so the hardest parts were taken care of.

What I realized after JFK was that the bed in it, while very comfortable and big, was not going to be very functional for van living. The van was converted as a vacation, road trip vehicle, and it’s perfect for that. I had other plans. After looking online and at other resources for a week or two, I narrowed down what I wanted: a bed parallel to the van, with a fold up table and two storage compartments underneath. You can find the design I went with here.

Before I worked on the bed, I wanted to get solar panels installed. Luckily, this time coincided with my birthday, so my gifts from family for both my birthday and Christmas helped me pay for the panels. These will come in handy when I do not have access to electricity.

My schedule is tight, something I’ll talk about in a future post, so making time to work on it was a priority on my days off. Thankfully, it’s my dad’s slow season on the farm, and he offered to help. Selfishly, part of working on the van is a way to spend more time with my dad. Of course, I am not transitioning to van life because of this, but it is a huge benefit. There aren’t many crossovers in our lives, so this is special.

A few weeks ago I drew up a rough build plan and my dad got wood and screws from his farm supplier. I am very lucky that my dad is a farmer and therefore has the tools I needed to build. I realize not as many people have this option, so it is harder to get work done.

I must preface this by saying, we did not remove the old bed. I had it removed and taken to the reuse center when I got the solar panels installed from HiWay HiFi. I also got Reflectix (window insulation) done as well. I measured the area I wanted the bed to be and fit it into the layout of the van. After that, it was cutting, remeasuring and reworking my plans as we went using my dads knowledge and also just what worked better for my van. We had to get different hinges and add a few reinforcements here and there, but largely, I’m happy with what we got.

The mattress I will be using also folds up into a chair. I have yet decided whether I will add another piece of plywood to increase the surface area of the table. It also needs some sanding, but it’s in my van and cozy.

I have not slept on it yet, as we finished it yesterday. I am also now able to put in shelves and storage now that the major piece of hardware is in.

A few questions I’ve gotten:

How will I keep warm?

Electric hook up and solar panel electricity at night, Mr. Buddy propane heater. Friends houses if we get a bad storm.

How will I cook?

Coleman stove. But mostly I will eat from work. I benefit from food service, a work perk is free food that would get tossed. I consider that benefit better than a pay increase at times.

How will I use the bathroom/shower/laundry?

I work at a 24 hour gym, giving me ample showering and laundry facilities. I have jobs that provide me with help making van life more manageable. I am also not doing this without support. My community is great and a lot of friends have offered amenities if I need them. I am lucky.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got, any questions, send them my way!

When I Decided Not To Identify As a Vegan

When I think about my four years as a vegan, on the whole, it was amazing. I met some great people, expanded my cooking abilities and tried tons of different foods I probably would not have thought of eating before.

I also felt like I was making an ethical choice that was good for the animals, the planet and my body. I still believe that is true.

Becoming a vegan oddly helped me eliminate the food rules I still had from darker times in my past. When I went vegan I decided that if it was vegan, I would eat it. It did not matter what it was, if it was vegan, it was fair game. Coming from a past where I went through a period of food extremism, this was tame. This was liberating.

Just make the ethical choice, you cannot go wrong.

But, as I’ve written about before, although this started as a choice to liberate my mind, help animals and the planet, started to actually backfire on me. Part of this was my fault, actually, all of it is if you think that the body you are given is your fault.

What I did wrong:

I did not take a B-12 supplement for the first three years as a vegan. During that time, I spent a year of it essentially eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches as I thought I didn’t have the time or the want to really to cook. Sure, I could have ordered food, but I am also frugal so I don’t do that.

Part of my history with extreme food rules, meant that I was tired of thinking about food in the nutrient sense. I say that loosely, because I am a certified holistic health coach, so I get that nutrients and food is important, but largely for myself, I don’t think about it very often. I know what is healthy, I know what tastes good, I try to eat food that is more on the tasting good side than the healthy side. I never have been a calorie counter and still never will, however if I am honest, sometimes I don’t get enough in. I try, but I don’t focus on it and not having sufficient overall calories means you probably aren’t getting all the nutrients you need.

I was intentionally blind to these things for four years.

When I started working with Inside Tracker, part of that was a big step in opening the door to look at my food specifically and making it more nutrient sound. They had options and recommendations for vegans, which I followed, got healthy, and started running well again.

Too soon, I got complacent. I started neglecting all the things my diet needed, not in a restriction sense, but in an “I don’t want to think about this and just eat whatever” again. It was fine for a while, but then the niggles, the fatigue, the digestive issues began to come up again. Time to try again, and keep on the path this time.

Green Lakes was a turning point. It wasn’t my training, it wasn’t my resolve, I simply could not walk. Now whether that was due to nutrient deficiency or the knocking I took at Escarpment, I will never know, but coming home in the car with my dad, again explaining why I don’t eat eggs to him, I had to pause.

Why don’t I eat eggs? Why am I doing this?

Part of being vegan for my was the community aspect. Four years ago I had very strained relations with my family, isolated myself from things essentially because I just didn’t trust people. Hearing the Rich Roll podcast every week gave me community. I heard his interview with Gene Bauer, researched it and transitioned to vegan. As soon as I did, I found this amazing (mostly online) community of accepting people who all aligned with my morals. Do the least harm you can, start with what you eat. Everything is ok as long as it’s vegan.

It’s very black and white thinking and it seems very safe. Oddly, I think that people, including myself, like things to be set in stone. No gray areas. Even if it’s constricting (which some people claim veganism is) it also provides a safe place, a barrier between you and those who are different. I could identify with other vegans. I finally had a community.

Of course, the environment and animal welfare is and continues to be important to me. It always will, but there is a gray area in there that I must acknowledge.

The Gray Area

My gray area started when I worked on my family relationships. I started to have a real-life community of people who love and accept me. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s something I am not willing to give up. They have not pressured me at all to not be vegan. They just ask questions.

I started to feel like crap, and was tired of it. I started to question the choice I made to cut out some foods that can really be beneficial to health (for some people). Eggs can be a fine food when the quality is high and you respect where they came from.

Spending more time with other people allowed for so many opportunities to connect, often over food. It was very liberating, when I made the choice to stop reading labels and allow some eggs and dairy into my diet, to just eat. My friends and family no longer have to ask if something is ok. I don’t have to ask the barista or whomever if something is vegan, which they often don’t know, and then I’m just like, “ok, coffee please.”

Call it lazy, call it whatever you want, but the relationships I have now, and how I want to represent myself and be with people is worth some dairy in things and no label reading.

If you think that is lazy, here is another ringer: if it’s free, I’ll eat it. I hate seeing so much food waste. So even if the sandwich has meat in it, I’ll pick out the meat (usually, sometimes I don’t because that’s another gray area) and thank the universe for this gift. I’ve tried so many delicious things from my work that I would never have gotten to try if I drew the hard vegan line. I commend people who do, but part of my journey has meant I need to be more flexible.

Flexible

When I decided to not be vegan anymore, it was kind of traumatic. I felt as if I was losing my identity. These feelings signified to me that this was the right decision. I have not broken any laws (but to be honest, animal agriculture should be against the law) with the free-range eggs I’ve eaten a few times or the dairy that is in desserts that would be thrown away. I simply am being more flexible. I am living in the gray area. I did not do this because I missed cheese (still don’t really like it as much as everyone else) or meat (just no). I have made the decision to be more flexible in my life. I have decided that there is no label that can define me perfectly, because I am myself, one of a kind.

If that makes people disappointed, uncomfortable or angry, that is part of being the the gray area and being flexible. I refuse to please people while I know I am hurting myself.

I did not give up being vegan to please my family or friends, I gave it up because it was not serving me anymore.

My Podcast Interview is LIVE!

A few months ago, I spent a weekend running at Bristol ski mountain with a few Rochester friends. That hill workout was my first workout back from a mostly unstructured off season.

I wrote about that here.

After the workout, my coach and I ate breakfast with Chris O’Brian, local running and podcast legend in Rochester. We then spent an hour or so podcasting for his show Running Inside Out. I had a lot of fun recounting a few races, talking about rest days and remembering why I love to run.


Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

I do not Escape the Voices in my Head

I’ve read on many other runner’s, especially ultrarunner’s blogs, that running is an escape for them. It quiets their anxious mind, it silences the thoughts, problems fade away.

I used to think this was my story as well. After I started running a few years ago till now, my life has gotten so much better. I respect myself and my family, I am strong physically and emotionally and I do not tear myself down as much. I believed running was eliminating the bad feelings, the mistrust, the self-hatred.


I believed running stopped the running thoughts. Running quieted the voice inside my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Running allowed me to get away from those things.

My real story is different. Running has not stopped the voices. Running has not helped me hide from them.


Running allows me to face the voices, acknowledge them, and then allow them to pass. Running helps me “sit” with or hold space for those voices. It challenges me to be uncomfortable in my body and my mind. It holds me accountable to what I know to be true.

Running keeps the voices there until I’ve faced them enough times and convinced myself of their lies. Then it allows them to fade away, occasionally reappearing in moments of vulnerability or exhaustion, only to be fought again. Largely however, they are dealt with, proven false and invisible to me.

What I’ve realized is that the voices never go away, but my response to them has changed. I do not run away from the voices because some of them are true.

I was dishonest last week.

I didn’t run this correctly and I knew it.

I didn’t complete some job to the fullest potential, it was simply “good enough”.

These thoughts are true. The voices are right. Yet, they do not define my person. They prove that I am human, that sometimes my choices are not the best, but I am still doing my best in the grand scheme of life.

When you think about it, I could never “run away” from these voices, because they are me. Running has helped me accept these voices, realize I might have made a bad decision, but that I can move on from it.


The voices do not tell me who I am. Running allows me to see hear those voices, see my flaws and move on.

It is never an escape, it is a path toward freedom, voices included.