Chasing Joy

This year I have been chasing joy both literally and figuratively by making time for what I enjoy and love – running.  Running is purely “me time.”  Solitude.  A time I can clear my mind, think, pray, listen to music, or a podcast.    

I quickly fall into the cadence of my breath and steps.  Running makes me feel alive.  Sure, some day’s that cadence is strained.  It takes all my willpower to keep putting one foot in front of the other. 

But then there are days when it feels effortless.  Like I could run forever.  Strong.  Empowered.  Unstoppable.  In one word – joy!

Joy I am alive.  I marvel at the capabilities of my body.  This body.  That created, nurtured, birthed, and nursed 3 babies.  This body.  That has carried me countless miles. Survived cancer.  This body. That is strong, fierce, and beautiful.    

My motivation for running isn’t to lose weight or stay fit.  My motivation is joy.  A chance to let the chaos and troubles of my day slip away.  A chance to be an observer of the miraculous.  

Whenever I can I take to trails.  For me, running has always been synonymous with nature.  I avoid running on the side of the road or the sidewalk.  My goal is not just to log miles or be the fastest.  My goal is to savor every moment.  To enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face, feel the breeze, and be surrounded by nature.  

Oftentimes I even pause in the middle of my runs.  I pause to snap a photo of a flower blooming.  Observe wildlife.  Enjoy the sunset before it disappears.  Or the changing hue of the mountains as the sun sets. 

Running is my escape.  I have solved countless problems.  Vented my frustrations.  Resolved arguments. Prayed.  Found clarity.  Decided upon next steps.  Even found inspiration.

In the season of COVID-19, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, and shelter-in-place, running has become my solitude.  Never have I been so disciplined and motivated to run.  As a natural introvert, I crave time to myself. 

The terms quarantine, stay-at-home order and shelter-in place-conjure the image of solitude, unless you have children.  With a family of five, solitude has alluded me during this season.  Running has become my excuse and a means to pull away and recharge.

Sure, all of this could have been accomplished on a walk, a hike or maybe even over a cup of coffee, but that is not how I process life.  Running isn’t the answer for everyone.  But for me, running has become the sieve through which I sift life and extract joy. 

What brings you joy?  Reading? Baking?  Writing?  Creating art?  Whatever brings you joy I challenge you to set aside time today and this week to invest in yourself.  Take time today to feed your soul.  Do something that is life-giving and leaves you with a deep sense of joy.  Prioritize self-care because you deserve joy.  Every. Single. Day.