I ran long distance for the last time on a Mother’s Day.
It was a gloriously sunny day for Seattle. My husband, 3 kids, and parents were all waiting patiently for the last of the half-marathon runners to cross the finish line. My parents were in town for my grad school graduation the day before. Our plans for the rest of the day included boats on Green Lake and lunch at an Afghan restaurant. I was in charge and checking off the last of my boxes.
Run the entirety of this course without stopping was my goal. Not a specific time. I had no idea how slow I would be. I had never timed myself really. I had just started running 6 months prior and kept going, unaware of how much I needed the routine, though acutely aware of how much I hated the method. A classmate had challenged me to sign up for the race just as we were concluding the last of our thesis presentations. It was a way to prolong our goodbye. One week later, when she broke her leg in numerous places, I had already paid and committed.
So, I received running shoes for Christmas and downloaded a training schedule. Over the next few months, I would increase my stamina from one lap around the high school track to 13.1 miles, one day, one box at a time. The schedule told me exactly what to do and became my liturgy. In the post-grad school days while I waited for my husband to also graduate and for us to relocate, I had no idea how much I needed the rhythm.
3 miles. Check.
5 miles. Check.
6 miles. Check.
I hated every run, but I loved checking off boxes.
The boxes grounded me after a lengthy season of being in my head, creating and theorizing. They grounded me after a long push and helped me get through an otherwise wide open expanse of transition. It was a sacred order, a grounding ritual.
I stopped running the day I crossed the finish line, collapsing in tears into my family’s arms. The adrenaline plummeted fast, not just from the past few hours of running, but from the past 6 months of checking boxes. And though I didn’t realize it then, from the past few years of studying. My body had literally and figuratively transitioned me. I was ready to move on. And I was done with running.
Recently, I have discovered a new sacred order. I have found a new schedule full of boxes.
I didn’t realize it at first. I just felt compelled to say yes and move forward. Without much debate, I subscribed to and ordered various things and so again, by the time I felt doubt and fear, I had already paid, committed.
The Fierce & Lovely Podcast launched and I was quickly consumed with a litany of boxes.
Schedule the guest. Check.
Create the call link. Check.
Prepare and interview. Check.
And in the required order of a DIY podcast, I found a familiar liturgy my body needed again.
I was closing a season of pushing. A season of being in my head, creating and theorizing. Building an intangible movement with so many invisible outcomes. As I closed my nonprofit of 8 years, I had no idea how much grounding my body needed for the transition.
I’ve long been resistant to routine. I do not know how to show up to one space and stay there, focused, for 8 hours. Rise, shower, coffee, eggs is as far as I get before variety takes over my day. And yet, I wonder how much disservice I’ve done to myself? How much more centered and content would I be with a little more liturgy to my Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays…
Perhaps this time, after my body makes the transition and my mind is ready to operate in intangibles again, I will keep some of these rituals.
Maybe I’ll settle into a routine that contains and grounds me in the ordinary and present.
Or, perhaps the sacred order is but a gift for the season in which I need it most. Perhaps you’ll only find me in the same place twice when I’m in the in-between of life.
Beth Bruno is passionate about issues of injustice and a global sisterhood. Often, this looks like curating the stories and work of incredible women and calling her two teen daughters at least once a day to “come watch this.” Married for 23 years, she and her husband share a love for dark chocolate, dark coffee, and bold wine, among other passions. Their son is headed to college so Beth is not thinking about it by nursing an obsession with Turkish hot air balloons and European villages on her Instagram feed.