Running Solo: a gift & a lifestyle

No time to read? Then listen! Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. 

I’ve been thinking that the time we have to be single is really the time we have to get good at being alone. But how good at being alone do we really want to be? Isn’t there a danger that you’ll get so good at being single, so set in your ways, that you’ll miss out on the chance to be with somebody great?

The thing about being single is, you should cherish it. Because in a week, or a lifetime, of being alone, you may only get one moment. One moment, when you’re not tied up in a relationship with anyone. A parent, a pet, a sibling, a friend. One moment, when you stand on your own. Really, truly single. And then… it’s gone. ”

-How to Be Single (2016)

When the movie How to Be Single came out, I took myself out on a date. It was Valentine’s Day.

“One for How to Be Single, please,” I said at the movie ticket counter.

By the time the narrator was speaking the words I quoted above, I was in tears. As a “chronically single” female at that point in my life, I was feeling every word. It was so true!

I also felt the words of Paul:

 “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do…

“Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgement as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.”

-I Corinthians 7:8, 25-28

Without getting too theologically deep but also to avoid taking Scripture out of context, Paul was basically addressing certain lifestyles that were being practiced among some of the Corinthian church members and SEX. Sex was everywhere, just as it is now. Sex has always been there, from the very beginning of time!

Movies like How to Be Single and shows like Sex and the City (I’ve seen every episode of every season, btw) just prove that sex is everywhere and, in many cases, sex is everything. This doesn’t make it easy to be single, and it makes it even more difficult to be celibate.

Because unlike some of the characters of the movie, I was chronically single and celibate. No past boyfriend or relationship. Had I experienced pain and heartbreak? Oh, yes – one does not need to be in a romantic relationship for that. (Can I hear an “Amen!” from anyone else who was experienced unrequited love or affection?)

A celibate life from the ties of a romantic relationship: that’s what Paul is saying would be better for everyone living for God, but he knows that it’s also not possible for everyone. And it’s definitely not a requirement for following God, either!

So many people get married. And many others don’t. And there’s a myriad of reasons for both cases.

But the both the movie and even the words of Paul imply that being single is a gift. “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (I Corinthians 7:7).

I was single until Sunday, April 17, 2016 (the same year that movie came out!) when I went on my FIRST DATE EVER with my husband, then a single dad. It changed everything, my future, my life plans, even my goals. It’s true what Paul says about the troubles you will face if you marry; anyone who is married can testify to this!

Before that moment, I believe I did get good at being alone. Being good at being alone doesn’t mean the loneliness and longing goes away, either. You just get good at it. At filling your Friday nights with friends and community and your free time with new adventures and meaningful experiences. You get good at dealing with nasty pests, like mice and cockroaches, and watching a movie all by yourself because you want to – not because there’s nobody else to watch it with you.

I took full advantage of not being tied down. I left the country after graduating from college. I traveled and explored cities and did things other people would tell me later were dangerous to do alone. But I did them anyway, because I could, because I was free. I was overseas for three years before I came for my first visit!

I made so many friends. Had so many adventures. Experienced so many life changes. I learned how to depend on other people and still maintain my independence. And I learned the hard way that even good friends are not everything. I still needed God, and forgetting about that always threw off my single equilibrium. 

Staying celibate was not easy. I faced several situations where I could have changed that easily, but I didn’t. Because it’s not just marriage that brings trouble. Sex brings trouble as well; and I’m not talking about forgetting to use contraception. 

The single life is a lot like training for a marathon and then maintaining the fitness level it takes to complete such a race.

One mile can feel extremely difficult at first, but every week your mileage increases; and soon 10 miles feels like a walk in the park and 5 miles becomes your morning jog. The whole time, you’re building up your stamina, speeding up your metabolism, and strengthening your body. Even when it hurts and your muscles are sore, you’re still getting stronger and faster just by sticking to it.

And then, on race day, you know you’re ready. You might be nervous, but you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that YOU CAN DO THIS.

Once you start running, the craziness really begins. Muscle cramps, heat exhaustion, emotional sabotage, hills, the last 6 miles – all of these begin to threaten all you have worked for. But you keep running, because you can; you know you can. You even start yelling at other people to keep going. You become a cheerleader for others on the same course, because no one is running this race alone.

Then, THE FINISH LINE. You feel so awesome and so strong, and the most insane thing pops into your head: you want to do it again! You have no regrets about all the hard work and the early mornings and disciplined eating because of what you’ve become: an independent, caring, and strong person. 

I have no regrets about choosing a single and celibate life. It made me the person I was when I met my running partner, and God decided that it was no longer good for me to run solo. Being single was amazing, and to be perfectly honest, I still miss it some days when I admire the lives of my single friends from afar.

For those of you found a running partner, grab their hand and never let go. Don’t look back unless it is to be grateful for where you are now. Hold on to them even when you feel like you could run faster on your own. Hold on to them ESPECIALLY when you begin to regret having a running partner in the first place. They need you now, and you them; you two will finish this race together.

For those of you who are still running solo, keep running. If you feel like doing something new, just do it. If you feel like Netflix on a Friday night all by yourself, just do it. If you feel like going to 5 different events in one night, do it! Get good at taking care of yourself, for that’s a more challenging task than people give it credit.

You don’t know when your time of running solo will be over, nor do you have any control over that. (When I met my husband, I ate the words I had said to a friend only weeks earlier: “I won’t meet anyone.”)

So.

JUST. KEEP. RUNNING

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the trap of self-pity, the pressure of catching up, & the danger of making excuses

No time to read? Then listen! Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. 

Yes, that title is a…. what is that word they use these days…. doozy? Wow, I just looked that word up in the dictionary, and I actually spelled it right! I believe this is the first time I’ve seen that word in print! Anyway….

So, yes, my title is a doozy. But I was SLAMMED with a doozy of a personal epiphany yesterday, so “doozy” is officially the word of the hour (for this blog post anyway).

I. the trap of self-pity

I spent the better part of 3 years of my life trapped in depression; so, without trying to compete with anyone, I can say that I understand self-pity and the downward spiral of self-sabotage that it can start. Self-pity generates an emotional blind spot, allowing you to only notice your own pain, anger, suffering, difficulty, bad day – it doesn’t matter how minute or significant the issue. This blind spot in turn disables our own ability to reach out to others. All that to say, self-pity is BAD. 

My self-pity these days has been triggered by things I never thought would be triggers for me: people who own houses, people with kids close in age, people who have space in their homes, people who are gallivanting around the globe and climbing mountains. A pattern has emerged. My self-pity is all about other people.

It’s ironic and sad, because I’m not even focusing on myself at all, only coveting after the lives of other people; and as a result, I’m going nowhere. 

II. the pressure of catching up

In my first “Happy Thursday Live” face book broadcast, I briefly mentioned how much pressure there is in catching up. Let me expound here: catching up on dishes, laundry, reading plans, time lost doing other random things. I’ve even tried catching up in my journal before, and it takes forever! 

Somehow, I feel like my life is incomplete if I don’t catch up, and this gets me ALL MESSED UP! And here’s another thing: I’m actually pretty bad at catching because I procrastinate too much! I keep telling myself I’m gonna do it, but I make the killer mistake of waiting until I have a chunk of – I don’t know – a million hours to work on stuff. And of course that never happens. And so I never catch up.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

III. the danger of making excuses

I just went live on facebook Thursday and went public with some struggles I’ve been having. As I was thinking about things today, it hit me that all those “struggles” were just excuses! It’s almost embarrassing now, but let me just list out these “struggles” I was sharing:

  • phone games (specifically Clash Royale)
  • feeling tired
  • not knowing where to start

Well, earlier tonight, after I put my baby to bed, I literally spent half an hour playing Clash. I decided I was sick of it. What was I doing? Of all the things I could be doing – sleep being one of them – what was I doing!!!??? So I deleted it off my phone.

There are so many ways to healthily combat feeling tired all the time – and sitting on the couch watching Netflix is NOT one of them! Unfortunately, watching Netflix just doesn’t get the dishes or the laundry done.

Let’s be honest: I know exactly where to start. I just don’t… want to… feel like it… whatever! I just don’t do it!

Excuses are dangerous because they pretty much harm all of your life goals and cause you to do nothing. 

So, now what? I’ve pretty much gone public with these things that have been haunting me ever since my life drastically changed the first time when I got married and went from single to stepmom and then drastically changed again when I went from stepmom to birth mom.

So now, I stop making excuses, having pity parties, and trying to catch up. Now, I just need to go for it. 

Because last time I just went for it…

I got a scholarship to go to a college in another state. I lived in Taiwan and became fluent in Chinese. I joined a champion dragon boat team. I ran two marathons. I married my husband and became a mom. 

There’s no more argument here. I just need to go for it. 

A moment of expression

Upon getting back home one afternoon, I found myself in dire need of a moment of thankfulness as well as some creative expression, so I spent an hour making this. The words you will hear are by Walt Whitman which I copied down in my journal a few years ago. I called these words “words of brilliance and inspiration to read and re-read again.” While I was re-reading these words, I found myself overwhelmed with the need to give thanks. So I illustrated them with moments from my life, moments that reminded of all the good and beautiful things I have experienced already. These moments also capture some of (definitely not all) the people who have lit my path along the way.

In this creative moment of thankfulness and reflection, I want to remind myself and share with all of you that it’s not over. That every time we look back, we only see a fraction of what is to come. Let that be your hope, and never stop being thankful for all the good things in your life. 

 

Evil Allures But Good Endures

I love doing readings, and I was extremely struck by something I read yesterday morning. So I decided the best way to share that experience was to read that story to all of you!

This is my first ever audio blog. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

Listen to it by clicking on the link below.

http://victoriascotia.podspot.de/files/Evil%20Allures%20But%20Good%20Endures.mp3

This online “podcast” has been made possible by http://www.podhost.de/.

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