What neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it gets hard sometimes

What neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it gets hard sometimes

I’ve been bouncing a post around in my head about why it’s important to admit it when life is hard. So many women are afraid to speak their struggles, for fear of being perceived as grouchy or even shameful.

They feel their life is easy, relatively speaking: they have no cause for complaint, not really. Not compared to what others suffer. Or they’re afraid that if they speak up about the hard in their lives, they’ll deny the good that comes with it.

I’ve been mulling this over for a few weeks now, ever since I read this post from Grace. I wanted to tell you why we need to own that it’s hard. I thought I’d share about when my firstborn son was learning to tie his shoelaces four or five years ago. He just couldn’t get it, and a caregiver, meaning to encourage him, said, “Of course you can do it–it’s easy!

And my son burst into tears, saying, “It’s easy, and I’ll never be able to do it!”

As long as he thought tying his shoes was hard, he was fine. But once he found out it was supposed to be easy, he was devastated that he couldn’t do it. Because if it’s easy, but he’s struggling, what does that say about him?

Nothing good.

And so it goes with adulthood or motherhood or singlehood or any other stage of life you want to lay on the table.

I wanted to talk with you about denying the hard and faking the easy. I wanted to see what you’d say–I imagined you’d have a lot to say about all that mess.

But I couldn’t figure out how to end it.

And then.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

We’d made plans a month ago to get together with Will’s family in August down by the waterfront, but Will hopped on twitter yesterday morning and realized that the Ironman (all 140.6 miles of it) was in progress.

We should have known this–we had friends participating–but we hadn’t put two and two together, and realized how Ironman traffic closures were going to interfere with our plans.

We re-worked and re-routed, and ended up picnicking half a mile from our original destination, in a shady spot smack dab on the race’s route, a quarter mile from the bike-to-run transition.

A full Ironman–2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run–is really freaking hard. And because it’s hard, everybody–participants, helpers, cheerers-on, passers-by–accepts it as such, and behaves accordingly.

It’s a thing of beauty, people.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

See that guy on the bike? The people lining the sidewalk don’t know him, but they burst into applause when he came around the corner. They know he’s been on the bike for 112 miles, and before that he swam over two miles in the river, and he’s got a marathon ahead of him, and he needs all the support he can get.

Also, he’s on an incline: it gets harder before it gets easier.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

See that bump? No, you probably don’t. It’s big, but not so big a cyclist would notice–especially not after she’s near delirious from 5 hours on the bike–so there’s a guy stationed there whose sole job is to yell “watch out for the bump!” to the riders coming down the stretch. Because it would be criminal to let them wipe out so close to their racing milestone.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

The Ironman is the ultimate endurance event, so if your loved one is in it, they need your support. I wish I could show you how many families we saw decked out in matching lime green, neon orange, or hot pink tshirts (the better to attract your loved one’s attention with), sporting the words Team Thompson or Fulton Family. Toddlers, teens, and great-grandmas were lining the route with cowbells and posters and powerbars to support their family’s athlete.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

The bike-to-run transition is brutal. After 112 miles on a bike, the participants are supposed to hop off and walk. It’s awkward and awful, so–what else?–all the strangers clap and cheer while the racers fight to get their legs.

what neon lycra and chapped nipples taught me about denying it's hard sometimes | Modern Mrs Darcy

running solo down the chute, with 9 hours of physical turmoil behind you but a marathon between you and the finish line

Strangers are yelling: You can do it! Get your legs! Get your legs! You’re doing great! They don’t know her, but they know the Ironman, and they know it is hard. You just can’t watch her struggle without tossing out a little encouragement.

Those racers yesterday were participating in “the world’s toughest endurance challenge.” 140.6 miles is a big deal, and nobody, but nobody, denies it. But real life–even the ordinary, everyday kind that’s free of neon lycra and worries about chapped nipples–is no joke, either.

Watching the Ironman reminded me that it’s okay for it to be hard.

There’s no shame in the struggle: the struggle is what makes it great. The struggle is what makes it glorious.

So struggle on, friends. We’re clapping for you from the sidelines. Some of us are proudly sporting your team apparel; others of us don’t know you but will stand and applaud to encourage the stranger who needs it.

Raise a hand in response, would you? Just send a little nod our way. We care about your endurance event, and we like to know you heard us.

Tell us all about the hard and the easy in comments.

78 comments | Comment

78 comments

  1. Gina in Louisville says:

    Also, if it’s not hard for you right now, recognize you are on the downhill part of the course. Celebrate the downhill. Your hill is coming. Don’t judge someone else struggling on a hill. Your hill will come and it will take perseverance and strength to make it to the summit.

  2. Laura says:

    “if it’s easy, but he’s struggling, what does that say about him?” This is such a huge issue, I think, esp with parenting, when some people make it seem easy. Thank you for this!

  3. Danielle says:

    So much truth! A great reminder that we need to be willing to share our hard with others so they don’t think our entire life is downhill and perhaps it will make their uphill a little easier! Thanks for the insight 🙂

  4. Sue says:

    Such a great reminder. I love the part about your son and the shoelaces too. It is so true that when people say “you can do this – its easy.” it is sooo very frustrating to me. I have tried to change what I say to “it isn’t easy, but if you work at it, you can do it.” But, it is so habit forming to give that “it’s easy” message instead.

    • Tracy S. says:

      I often teach older college students how to do very basic things on the computer. I tell them I only know how to help them because someone showed me how to do it. Then I tell them that pretty soon they will do these same intimidating tasks without giving them a thought–but in the meantime, they can ask me to show them how to do it again.

    • Belle says:

      I was swimming laps at the pool while a little boy was getting lessons in the next lane. “It’s hard,” he said at one point. My reply would have been, “It is hard, and it takes work but you’re doing it! If it were easy everyone would be doing it!”

      Remember the old joke: Tourist to New Yorker, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
      New Yorker to tourist: “Practice!”

    • Anne says:

      Sue, I hadn’t thought about how it truly is habit-forming to give the “it’s easy” message. Because seriously, we just hear it so much. It’s one of those things that can roll off the tongue as reflexively as “I’m fine, thanks.”

  5. Tim says:

    It does get hard sometimes, Anne. And it gets wonderful too, sometimes even in the midst of the hardness.

    Cheers,
    Tim

    P.S. I agree with your son. I hate it when someone tells me that something I’m struggling with is easy. If it were easy I wouldn’t be struggling!

  6. Christie says:

    So true! Not only do we need to acknowledge the hard, but we need others to validate that it is hard. I think this is why the trite advice and simplistic fixes people offer just make it worse. I am strangely reassured every time there is an assessment of my two youngest (who have special needs) that not only addresses their strengths, but their struggles too.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, great example. Yes, it’s so validating for me as a parent to hear someone else objectively define our family’s or my kid’s struggles. It gives them more credence, somehow–and that helps me give myself (and all of us) a little more grace.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Yes! I remember a very specific moment as a child, four or five years old, trying to learn my first few songs on the violin (we’re talking Twinkle Twinkle, lullaby songs here). I was having a really hard time figuring out how to play with a beautiful tone, keep a good stance, and execute all the correct notes all at once. It felt like juggling for the first time. My Mom said the dreaded, “It’s easy!” and somehow it felt even harder. Of course, my emotions got all wrapped into it, tears welled in my eyes, the strings began to blur – just not a good feeling. How the heck was I going to be able to play the “big kid” songs if I couldn’t do this?!

    Not surprisingly, I’m never been a fan of encouraging someone by saying, “it’s easy” to someone who’s struggling. I feel like this phrase is said just so someone won’t give up. Doesn’t give any validation to the struggle. Even worse, it makes us feel alone in our struggle which opens us up to an entirely new can of worms that aren’t helping our situation at all.

  8. Rachel says:

    I’m (God willing) entering the last year of my PhD work this week. This PhD has been hard. Really, stinking hard. I’m, not coincidentally, also a runner.

    Anne, thanks for the reminder today (1) that it’s okay to call hard things hard, (2) those around us cheering on during the hard challenges are really important, and (3) to carry on.

    • Tim says:

      I wasn’t much of a runner in l was school, Rachel, but when I was studying for the bar exam I was putting in miles every single day! Keep it up and soon your PhD will be in the bag as well!

        • Tim says:

          You’re bound to do better than I since you can write coherent sentences in a blog comment, Rachel. Did you see how that came out above – runner in l was school? Sheesh!

          Tim

          P.S. That phrase was supposed to read “runner when I was in law school”. And to think I make a living in a profession that relies on the written word!

    • Anne says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Love your 1, 2, and 3 on this.

      Good luck on that PhD, Rachel. (You can do it! You’re in the home stretch!)

  9. Alyssa says:

    I have 4 kids, one adopted from foster care 2 years ago. I home school. My husband works long hours. I feel bad to say it’s hard because this is the exact life I want and chose and I am so very blessed. But today I will say: It’s hard. To take care of my self and my marriage, to juggle the schedule, to give everyone attention, make healthy meals, be there for friends and family. To meet my son’s special needs as parenting him is so different from the bio kids. Everything is worth it and I love it and it’s hard.

    • Anne says:

      “Everything is worth it and I love it and it’s hard.”

      Yep. I love how all three things are smushed together into the same sentence. Because: life.

    • Alyssa, your life sounds wonderful and hard all at once. You are doing amazing things in the lives of your children and in the lives of those around you! Keep it up!

  10. Carrie says:

    We moms of larger broods are afraid of speaking up when things get hard because we fear people will ask the obvious: “Then why did you have so many kids!?”. So we clam up. It’s a real thing.

    Side note: I thought this post was going to be about breastfeeding struggle. Chapped nipples and all. LOL!

    • Anne says:

      “We moms of larger broods are afraid of speaking up when things get hard because we fear people will ask the obvious: “Then why did you have so many kids!?”. So we clam up.”

      Honestly, I’ve never thought about it like this. At least, I never put it into words. But you’re so right, Carrie. Thanks for articulating my fuzzy thoughts for me. 🙂

      • Sue S. says:

        THANK YOU! I started weeping half way through the article because while I have “just 4”, …I have FOUR kids! Extended family has divided their efforts between half paying lip service to it being hard but seeming to do their best to make it harder and half telling me that if it’s hard I shouldn’t have had so many. What am I supposed to do, send them back? Ridiculous! We’ve recently moved to a church that I think will be a cheering section instead of joining my family.
        This really touched my heart! Thank you! I will be more deliberate about trying to surround myself with people who cheer instead of tear down.

  11. Breanne says:

    We had a similar experience this summer except it was with a marathon. And we stood and watched the very last of the runners make it across the finish line to the sound of their cheering family. And we cheered, with tears, at the sheer accomplishment of running those 26 miles.
    Being a parent is hard. I find it hard sometimes to be okay with saying it is hard because my girls are little and healthy and there’s only two of them. Not twins or sick or another one on the way. But this hill is hard sometimes and there is also bliss. Thanks for opening up this discussion. =)

  12. Jillian Kay says:

    This is interesting. Do you think it’s easier to cheer for people who take it upon themselves to do hard things like complete an ironman, than say someone who struggles to pay the bills or is going through a rough patch with her kids? Also, why are people so uncomfortable with others “hard” times? I’m thinking of relatives and co-workers who will gloss over anything I’m struggling with with a quick fix or sweeping general advice. Like one time I was telling my Aunt how hard it was for me to keep everything together with work, home, kids, life, and she said “Just become a CPA and open a business out of your house.” It seems like I get advice like that all the time. Would a simple “Hang in there” be so hard? So, yeah, I relate to your son having trouble with his shoelaces.

    • Tim says:

      Jillian, that is such a good point. I have a friend who is a master at listening well to the hard times others are going through and being encouraging. Her style is a lot more “hang in there” and a lot less “you could just work from home”; I’d like to be a lot more like her.

    • Karlyne says:

      Why are people so afraid to empathize? Are they afraid that if they do, all of the hard stuff will get dumped in THEIR laps? Or are they just plain uninterested? I really don’t know why it’s so hard for most people to respond with just a nice plain acknowledgement of life’s difficulty, but I do know that Tim’s friend who listens is someone to emulate! I’m going to go write on the blackboard 100 times, “Yes, life is hard. I hear you.”

  13. MK says:

    This was truly lovely, but I just had to share that I came here after reading about the Miley Cyrus VMA debacle last night and in light of that this post’s title threw me for a loop…

    I think we’re finally going to crawl out of survivor mode, into the regular-hard of life of babies and littles and no money and day-to-day things. After a month of being ill and fighting the bedbugs (that the Orkin man can’t find and have suddenly stopped biting us? After weeks of vacuuming, laundering, searching, laundromat going, bed dismantling…), I want to do regular-hard, not super-hard…

    I don’t think this is a coherent comment at this point, so I’ll just say thank you for saying that it’s hard…because it is.

    • Anne says:

      Hahaha! I’m glad you read anyway. No Miley commentary here. 🙂

      And I can’t even imagine dealing with bedbugs. Here’s hoping you’re back to regular hard and not super-hard very, very soon. Survival mode stinks.

  14. Jenny says:

    Thank you for writing this! I was crying before I finished it. I am currently pregnant with my third child, with a 1 year old and a 3 year old at home. I have been so frustrated because I am SO TIRED and still so sick. I have really been struggling with bitterness because I feel like the friends and family that should be helping me through a difficult time are instead making my life even harder by asking me to watch their kids or do extra stuff that I do not have the energy to do!

    I feel so guilty because I feel like I should be so joyful and I should have this pregnancy thing down by now. It is my third time after all! I want to be helpful and service-minded, but oh my goodness, just getting through each day is a struggle. Thank you for reminding me that it is okay to be having a hard time!

    • Anne says:

      “I feel so guilty because I feel like I should be so joyful and I should have this pregnancy thing down by now.”

      Exactly. I do that, too. I think we need to remind each other that it’s okay to be having a hard time! Because it’s much easier for me to remind my friend of that than it is for me to recognize that for myself, and remember it’s true for me, too. I don’t think I’m the only one who struggles with that. 🙂

    • Sue S. says:

      HANG -IN there Jenny! You can do it! Numbers three and four were hard for me too but it gets better and they are SOOO worth it! Praying for you to be surrounded with support!

  15. Bethany V. says:

    This post is so timely for me. I’ve really been struggling lately with a life that looks like what I thought I wanted. But I’m worn out, exhausted and, if I’m totally honest, a little depressed. I’m also training for my first 5K. I’ve never been a runner. I’m not sure I really am one. Most of my friends are training for 10K or half marathon races, so I feel very alone in my attempt. My dad is about to run his 3 marathon in two years, at age 57. My family kind of sees me running as a joke, though they wouldn’t admit that. When it’s just me out there alone in the morning before my kids get up, I’d rather be almost anywhere else. It is hard. This post has helped me realize that whether it’s all day spent with my kids, my desire to homeschool, my plans to grow my family or my attempt to run my first 5K, it’s OK to say that it is hard. Thanks.

    • jennifer says:

      DON’T GIVE UP!!!! I just started running not so long ago either and i was TERRIFIED to run my first mile! It took me a LONG time to work up to three miles and it’s NOT easy. Sometimes when I run I have to chant to myself “Strong body….strong mind.” And I didn’t have to balance kids on top of it so I am VERY impressed by you!

      It also helps to tell yourself “I am a runner.” Because you ARE! No matter the distance anyone else is running, you are running and you are a runner.

      Good luck!

      • Anne says:

        Bethany: yes, exactly. It’s okay for it to be hard. It’s okay to say that it is hard. It’s not okay to think somebody’s athletic pursuits are a joke. I’m sorry.

        (Jennifer, thanks for reminding me that running is hard at first! I’ve just started again after several YEARS off, and … it’s hard.)

  16. This is very encouraging, Anne, and I so appreciate your thoughts on this topic. I often feel guilty when something I’m going through in life seems hard to me that I don’t think should. I appreciate the freedom you’ve offered to acknowledge the ups and downs of daily life.

  17. Anna says:

    Yes! My friend’s dad just completed the Lake Placid Ironman so this analogy struck home. We’re a year out now from our adoption and I can’t tell you the number of times people said things like, “You’re so lucky you missed parenting the baby stage” (read: it’s easy to parent a 2 year old) or “You must be so happy now” (read: it’s easy and happy to parent a traumatized toddler). I just wanted people to acknowledge that what we were doing was hard – really hard – and cut us the slack we deserved. You don’t get annoyed at an ironman participant for being wobbly on their feet at transition just because it’s “easy” to walk. You take into account the entire experience and encourage them regardless. You also don’t stop encouraging the stragglers just because the professionals made it through a whole lot faster and more gracefully.

    • Anne says:

      Oh, gosh, yes. Love what you say about the wobbly and the encouragement and even the speedy, graceful pros. Yes to all of it.

  18. What an inspiring blog post! I am waving to my blog friends right now! I am richly blessed with a core of both online and offline friends who have recently supported me through a difficult time. I am endeared to you all! 🙂

  19. Jeannie says:

    This is a wonderful post and I’m so glad you shared it. It will help me both to be more honest about my own life and more empathetic to others. Our family just spent 3 weeks’ vacation at my parents’ home in another province, and saw many extended family members. One evening after another big dinner, my brother & I did dishes and he asked me all about my son’s various special needs challenges. It felt good to say it’s hard sometimes (a lot). So I really get what you’re saying and I think the volume of responses shows you’ve struck a chord AGAIN.

    • Anne says:

      “It felt good to say it’s hard sometimes (a lot).”

      Oh, that’s such a good point, Jeannie. (I love the image of you and your brother talking about the Hard over dirty dishes.)

  20. Sheri Dacon says:

    Thank you, thank you! I have a don with Asperger’s Syndrome and it is HARD. Yet I try to act like its easy because I don’t want people to think I have a chip on my shoulder, or that I don’t love my son, or heaven forbid that I’m weak. Thank you for giving me permission to say it out loud. That it’s just plain hard.

    • Anne says:

      “I try to act like its easy because I don’t want people to think I have a chip on my shoulder, or that I don’t love my son, or heaven forbid that I’m weak.”

      It’s been so illuminating to read here about all the different reasons people are reluctant to admit it’s hard. Thanks so much for sharing, Sheri.

  21. Catherine says:

    So timely! Yesterday we spent the day cheering for Iron Man Whistler. It was happenstance for us as we’ll but watching and cheering for all the athletes was so inspiring. It definitely puts things into perspective about being ok with things getting hard.

  22. gretchen says:

    I love this post! I am a mom of 10 kids and I feel as though I can never say when it is hard or I am struggling because of fear of judgement..after all, I chose to have 10 kids… Some days I really struggle to get my legs! Great post!

  23. Ana says:

    Great topic. I LOVE the story about your child and shoelaces…because that is EXACTLY how I felt coming into motherhood (or maybe I mean “adulthood”). This is supposed to be “natural” and “easy”…what is WRONG with me that I’m struggling so much? And that struggle continued well beyond the newborn phase when it was really really “supposed to get easy”. I finally (like just recently) came to the realization that life is not “supposed to get easy”—-that its supposed to be busy, and chaotic, and full of ups and downs and exhaustion—there is nothing wrong with me except maybe some unrealistic expectations. That recognition made all the difference…I went from beating myself up for not “enjoying every minute”, to being proud of myself for surviving each day. Because ITS REALLY HARD. Thank you for acknowledging it!

    • Anne says:

      Life is not “supposed to get easy.” Well put, Ana. It’s amazing to me how much just recognizing that makes such a huge difference in my own head.

  24. What a great post.

    First, I NEVER let my students say “this is easy” because of the way it made others feel (especially when I taught remedial math and reading.)

    Second, I just spent the morning with another mom who is really struggling right now. I know, I’ve been through it. And I guess, like the first commenter said, I’m on the downhill coast right now, but she’s going up a big hill. And I wish I could make it easier for her!

  25. I feel like marriage is a big one for this. It is hard. Not bad hard, good hard. But, if you were to say this aloud people assume that your marriage is in trouble. The best thing anyone ever said to me was this, “If women were honest with each other and you said that you’ve been married three months they would say, ‘I’m sorry. It gets better.’ Instead of, “Oh thats so great. Don’t you love it?'”

  26. Nadine says:

    This post nearly made me cry Anne. Life absolutely is hard right now. And I think I’ve gotten so good at living out a cheerful spirit that I don’t know how to respond to the hard. But it’s hard. Friday I found out that my roommate is moving and Saturday I lost my job. I know that God can do good work and I am trusting that he will but the right now is hard. The waiting and praying and trusting and acting on what I perceive as Christ? That’s hard.

  27. Kelly says:

    Anne, I love this post. I’m reminded of Gretchen Rubin referring to her own daughter’s struggle to tie or put on her shoes. Acknowledging that it’s hard seems to help them through the process. As a mom of three, I hear, “I don’t know how you do it. I only have one,” from my sister-in-law. I always tell her, “Motherhood is hard. Whether you have one child or 20, it’s still hard.”

  28. Chris Floyd says:

    Thank you. Life has been really hard for the past year and this post gave me a way to thank one of my biggest supporters.

  29. I’m reading this with tears in my eyes. What a beautiful post, Anne! I keep thinking I just really suck at motherhood. I’m like a cat caught in a fish bowl, just always awkward and totally out of place, even in my own home, with my own family. I get so frustrated that nothing about motherhood, nothing at all about it comes “naturally” to me…so maybe I’m not alone? Maybe mopping the floor seems like the impossible task to others? Maybe others retreat to the internet just hoping for some sort of sane interaction because all the other adults they know are “at work” and well, you have life “made in the shade” being home with little ones…maybe
    I love this challenge. But I am down more than I am up.

  30. I completely agree!!! I have written similar posts myself, and for the same reason. When we say it’s easy, we are doing a major disservice to people. We need to say “It’s so hard. But once you press through, it’s so rewarding.” Because it is. But if it’s supposed to be easy, and it’s hard, then people think they must not have what it takes to do it.

  31. Kelly says:

    My absolute favorite MMD 2013 post. Thank you, Anne! I look forward to seeing your thoughts every time I open Feedly 🙂

  32. Beth Anne says:

    So glad you shared this post again today, Anne. I didn’t see it the fist time around, and I have so many thoughts on this one!

    1.) My son has a disability and is learning to walk. (At this point, he can stand with support and take one labored, stumbling step at a time.) He watches everyone around him do it, and it’s easy for them. It’s really, really, hard for him – like Ironman hard. We always, always acknowledge that it takes a ton of hard work, but that he gets better every time, and we’re so proud of him. And also, that even when things are hard, we don’t give up. We can take a break, but we don’t give up. I recently completed my first half marathon and it was a great way to be that example to my son. Many times on the trail with him in the jogging stroller, he would notice that I slowed down and ask, “Are you tired, Mom?” I’d respond with, “Yep, I’m really tired, but I’m not going to give up.” Acknowledging the difficulty of someone’s struggle – SO important. He feels so much more accomplished knowing he is conquering a HARD thing.

    2.) I recently made it through my first deployment as a military spouse. This is one case where I think all of us try to brush over it and say, “Well, we’re lucky because we can skype or email, and just think of what it was like during WWII. They didn’t know if they were coming back. They were gone for years. They only had letters.” We all as a military community like to pretend that it’s easy and we’re super tough and we’re doing just fine. I think we do ourselves a huge disservice in this. Deployment is really, really hard and multiply really hard by really lonely and it’s really hard squared. I’ve watched people rally around others going through surgery or life changes or other struggles, but it never felt like anyone rallied around me during deployment. I think I should have been more honest and just confessed that it was hard. Can we all as a culture acknowledge that deployment is really hard and do our best to support those spouses going through it? I will never judge someone struggling with deployment or really any of life’s struggles again. Life is full of hard things. Let’s acknowledge that they’re hard.

    Thanks for this, Anne!

    • Anne says:

      Such great examples. Thanks for sharing these, Beth Anne. And congrats on surviving that first deployment—that sounds seriously hard to me.

  33. Emily says:

    This was re-linked recently, and just what I needed to hear. Thank you. I am changing careers — 1 year ago me blithely thinking it was no big deal — now me feeling slightly crushed by how hard it is. “The struggle is what makes it glorious” is going up on my wall-of-quotes.

  34. Laura says:

    I’m not one to cry easily. If a movie or show makes everyone else cry, I’ll be the one with dry eyes. But if I happen across a Sunday afternoon Ironman special (usually narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio), I will find myself tearing up time and time again. The stories behind why the runners run can be so inspirational and go on to demonstrate that they are doing hard things on and off that course. Often it’s the hard off the course that leads them to strive to the hard that’s on the course. It truly is an inspiration and I, too, drew parallels to life.

    My brother is a runner and he once ran a marathon that I was able to drive to and cheer him on at. I met up with my sister-in-law who was super pregnant, she had two kids in tow with posters and I navigated. We were able to hit nine points of the course to cheer my brother on at including all the runners near him. It’s great when the runners wear their name so you can make the cheering personal. I learned from watching my brother that I will never run a marathon. Ever. My life is hard enough with some health issues and I’m choosing not to make it harder. But, I’m an excellent encourager! I will cheer myself and others along the way, regardless of the courses we are on and the challenges we face.

    Fun side note: my brother was a hobbling mess after the race and we went back to their hotel so he could take a bath. About 2 minutes in, my nephew decided he needed to go to the bathroom. And so my sis-in-law knocked on the door, told my brother about my nephew needing to go and the nephew went in. My SIL stayed near the door to help my nephew if he needed and apparently she could smell it from outside the door so she then decided to open the door out of mercy for my brother being trapped in there. So there I am, drawing with my niece in a hotel room, listening to my brother bathe and my nephew drop a deuce. And I can remember thinking what an interesting ride life is.

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