Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Heaven Sent

Antelope Island.
Depending on the time of year, it can be a buggy, nasty, smelly mess. Or it can be a stark, dynamic, beautifully unique piece of heaven.
I have missed it.
It is so serene and remote, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, less than half an hour from home.
Had I not shattered my ankle, I'd have run my first 50k out there in October. As I did shatter my ankle, the island and I have unfinished business. I love it out there. So when I signed up for this years Secret Wrangler Exchange, and I listed Salt Lake County and Davis County (including Antelope Island) under the places I was willing to go. I was mentally begging to be sent out there.
Larry must have heard my mental pleading.
The email came with a list of clues. Links to be exact.

Hint #1

Hint #2

Hint #3

Hint #4

Hint #5

Hint #6

Best hints ever. I was already thoroughly entertained, nervous, and excited. 5 miles out meant 5 miles back as well. I'd not gone more than 7 miles on my hardware, and I was itching to try.
I had worked a busy 8 hours on my feet the day before, and my legs and ankle were sore. But Aaron agreed to go out there with me, so we made it long-needed date, and headed out on the late morning.
The first mile on the ankle is always a little uncomfortable. It just so happened that we were also being scrutinized my large land mammals during that mile, so there was motivation to keep up the pace.
Hello Buffalo!

Once we got in the groove, rock hopping, taking pictures and playing around, it started to feel good. Really good. For the first time in a long time, it started to feel light and loose and playful. No ankle rolling, not a single thing in 9.8 miles that I had to stop and sit out for!

My leg muscles began to burn long before my ankle did. The island swallowed us into its little time warped world and took all the pressure off, soothing my frazzled brain and my battered soul. Dirt, sun and laughter. In the middle of the winter desert, on an island, in December, with snow-blanketed mountains in the near distance we lost ourselves to the landscape and the weather. It was just awesome.

We arrived at the old wild horse corral and with a little effort found my hidden gift, divided it into our packs and headed back the way we came.

When we came within view of the car, we realized there was a herd of bison directly in the trail in front of the gate between us and it. Thankfully, they were feeling lazy and just sort of moved along as we moved in. After a few nervous minutes, we made it to the car.
I can't say my legs were sorry to be done, and my ankle would probably agree with them, but the rest of me could have stayed out there for days!
Beautiful day with my favorite guy!
9.8 miles
1018 ft of vert.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Count them where you can

I can't stay here. Sad and lonely in a world full of joy, beauty, support and love. I've never planned on it. I've been fighting in surges to climb my way out. I promise. I have never intended on quitting. Believe me, every excuse as to why I have been down this many times and this long has scores of possible solutions and adjustments that I'll never stop trying. It doesn't have to be big and dramatic. But sometimes it is. In my life, a little drama comes attached to big passion.

I went out yesterday. Aaron was out running a new peak with friends. I "let" him go again. He always asks me before he plans adventures. As if I would draw the line and say no, and sentence him to live within my physical limitations. I appreciate his sensitivity, but I know what it's like to wither in the absence of things you are passionate about and I'd never ask that of anyone else. Lest I wallow too drearily in jealousy, I made my kids breakfast and then put on my luggiest running shoes and some layers. Then I ventured out in the drenching rain that played on the verge of snow. Simple. Park at Davis Creek, hop on the BST North and run or walk, or whatever my body will let me do 'til I feel like turning around. Old stomping grounds. So familiar I could almost do them blindfolded. My ankle hurt from the first few steps. I kept hearing Brian's voice in my head, "Know when to shut it down. Know when to pull the plug." But I needed this so badly. Nothing was so severe that I'd do damage. Run to Steed Creek. Cross the stream and up the hill. I stepped wrong and my ankle rolled. Walk it off. Nothing serious. It rolled again. It's weak. Just be more careful. My face screwed up in anger and the tears began to fall. I'm so tired of crying. "Please!" I called aloud. "Please! I need this! I need a good one. Please!!" Walk it off. My entire foot ached with every step. It's so familiar now, the pain.  The bully in my head began to pick on me. "Idiot. Drama queen. Wimp. People do this crap all the time, and you're gonna cry about it? What makes you so special that you're aloud to whine about it? Why do you even try? What is the point?" I hiked over the rise to a flat spot and picked up the pace, careful to land just right. "Stop it. Just stop it." I spoke aloud. "You would never be this mean to anyone else. You'd never stand for anyone else to be this mean to someone, let alone yourself. This is not okay, and it has to stop, now. " Bah-pah-pah. Bah-pah-pah. One elephant. Two elephant. I fell into my hard-trained 180 running tempo that Brian was so impressed with when I'd run on the Alter G. The pain faded as I settled into the groove and let my mind drift. "You are amazing, Kristyan Williams. Do you know what you are doing? You are winning. Everyday. Give yourself a little credit. You are amazing." I gave myself the pep talk that everyone else has tried to give me for months. The one I couldn't hear through the muffled cloud of depression and anxiety. Up the hills, down the hills, One elephant, Two elephant. I've never been able to run up the hills consistently, but there I was, running. My hat brim was dripping. I could taste fresh winter on my lips as the rain and snow collaborated in their drenching, driving slush. Sweat on my flushed skin beneath all the layers. The cold stung my face even as my body core radiated heat, and I was alive. My nose caught the startling scent of wild sage on the trail side, and I smiled softly in pleasant surprise. I was vaguely aware of the watch beneath my layers, ticking away the miles, until suddenly I was at Farmington Canyon.  I tagged the gate posts on either side of the road with my flushed fingers and turned South. One elephant, two elephant.  The rain was coming faster and harder, steadily drenching and re-drenching my clothing. I began to be able to pick out individual ice clumps against the mountain backdrop ahead of me as the misty snowline danced on the mountain just above. "Do it. Do it. Do it!" I called to the raindrops, daring and cheering them to turn to snow. I reached Steed Creek again. Cross the stream, up the hill. Half a mile to go. The ache in my ankle was nothing compared to the searing in my glutes, thighs and calves. It burned so good! It was strength, it was growth, it was the feeling of non-surrender. I crested the hill to see my mom-van waiting below, just as the slush finally made the transition to actual snow. As I trotted down the slope, I mentally licked a finger and made a tally mark in the victory column.
I have to count my victories where I can. In the swampy mire of this struggle, I need these little beacons. Gold stars. I'm a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a fair athlete, a fighter, a lover, a passionate soul. I cannot and will not let this snuff me out.

5.25 miles

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Try again

"She's back!" they call in solidarity, joy and true sincere encouragement. I love them. All of them. Without their encouragement I would be the lowest of the low.  The sentiment rings true, but the words echo false inside me. I'm not back. I'm not the person I was. I never will be again.
What I was has been pulled apart and broken up. All of the parts of me are lying in bits all around, and I'm slowly picking them up as raw materials to build something new. Sometimes I miss the old me. She was pretty awesome. There is no point in mourning her. She's right here, all around me. In scarred pieces. At times I can't help but mourn anyway. Building is easily as hard as it is rewarding. It's painful. And at times when I try to go back and rebuild what once was, the denial, the inability to do so is startling and frustrating.
I run, but it doesn't feel the same. I go alone so that I can set my own pace. I go places where I probably wouldn't be able to go fast anyway and let the scenery distract me. It's much better than nothing. Sometimes I love it. I miss adventures with friends, but I'm afraid to even try to keep up.
I try to practice yoga, and find that I have shoulder issues from being on crutches for months. The way I practiced before doesn't feel good. My ankle doesn't move in the same way. An old neuroma, aggravated by my ankle therapy and compression, shoots tingling jolts into my forefoot and toes. I dare not go to a class, for fear I can't keep up. Even though I have begged my own students to come anyway in the past. I can't even fathom teaching one right now. I miss my little tribes.
So what happens when you have to learn to be a new you? Find what works all over again? Figure out what is right for you NOW? Well, I'll tell you one thing. You cry a lot. You bounce between strong and weak. Happy and devastated. Fine, and very not fine.
You try old things and you try new things, and when you are shut down again and again, you throw a tantrum, mope a little bit, give up, laugh some, cry more. And then you get back up, and you try again.

Courage is when that dragging weight in your chest says, "There is no point." And you reply, "I'll try anyway."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Head above water

I started working part-time last week after over a dozen years of stay-at-home-momming and sporadic self-employment. I hadn't planned on it. It was one of those things I just accepted into my life spur of the moment. One of those "If you get a chance, take it. If it changes you're life, let it." type of things.  So I took it. I love the job. Nothing about the job itself overwhelms me. My coworkers are awesome. Our patients are amazing. The environment is fantastic. But the shift has shaken things up for our little fam, and we haven't found our balance yet. I... haven't found my balance yet. Aaron is fine. The kids are fine. I am exhausted. Stressed. Inadequate.

Maybe it's the season. Maybe my Seasonal Affective Disorder is rocking my socks. Maybe I feel inadequate and out of balance every Holiday Season. Maybe I need to make the time to run in the mountains more than once a desperate time per week. Maybe I haven't had a committed yoga practice in far, far too long. Maybe my life hasn't been on anything resembling an even keel since July.

I hate schedules. Hate them. Everyone is stressed.  And all the stressy people are misunderstanding my loathing of schedules for loathing of them whenever they want to get together. In a season that is scheduled to the minute with everyone wanting to be together, and everyone needing to get their everythings done, I just might explode and splatter bits of me all over the Christmas Decor (I'd probably feel guilty about that too).

So I wake up overwhelmed and feeling guilty- for not enjoying the season, for my messy house, for not having gifts ready for pretty much anyone, for the beef stew that I put in the crockpot at 10 am only to come home from work at 8 to find my family starving because the crockpot had malfunctioned. Then I cry. Then I get to work and do what I can. Then I cry because it's never enough. Vent to Aaron. Fly apart a little bit. Pull it back together. Breathe. Decide what thing is going to get written off the list and forgotten. Then get to work again. Then I fall into bed exhausted and stressed about the next day.  I might grump when I have to pick up the slack. But I'm always going to be there to pick it up.

Some days the gratitude gets trampled by a heard of stress buffalo. It's still there, just flat, hard to make out, and covered in manure.

This crappy, inadequate, overwhelmed, passionate, gloriously imperfect, honest, loving me. This is the only me this world has got. So they are just going to have to deal with my best. It's going to have to be enough.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Do you know anyone?"

Last Monday I went to physical therapy. At the end of an hour and a half workout, Brian was working on my ankle when he beckoned Deann over to ask if they had any prospects for a new therapy aide. It's kind of a blur, but eventually he turned to me and said, "Do YOU know anyone who would want to be an aide?" That's when the bottom dropped out and everything slowed down. The wheels in my head began to grind as I mentally raised my hand. I wanted to work here. I'd known it from my very first appointment. As details of the job unfolded, I went from daydreaming about it to actually considering applying. Twice a week, afternoon to evening. I could actually make this happen! I talked to Aaron about it that night. He was nothing but encouraging. I was more than a little terrified. Was I really going to do this? Homeschool my kids and work part time on top of everything else? I emailed Brian the next day. He asked me to officially apply.
I planned on dropping in to pick up an application on the way home from the kids karate class on Wednesday. I had a car full of smallish ninjas and my baby nephew sleeping in his carseat. I'd just leave the twelve year old in charge and let the baby sleep while I ran in really quick. The front office was a blur of controlled chaos. It was obviously a really busy time. Brian waved from the back. Danny and Brad buzzed through, a little confused as to why I was there and not on the schedule. "She's applying to join the team," De explained as she handed me an application. "No way!" "Nice" There were fist pumps and high fives. My surety that I wanted to work there became more solid. We spend a lot of life searching for tribes- for a sense of belonging, and then sometimes a tribe finds you. You just get dropped into the middle of them and they decide to keep you. I didn't dare assume that I deserved to be there. I did however, dare to hope that I might.
"Fill this out and get it back fast!" De instructed as she handed me the paperwork.
"Should I fill it out now?"
"If you have time, that would be best."
"I have a car full of kids..."
"Take a clipboard and do it out there."
I was not prepared. The giant baby had woken up and Talon had decided to take him out of the carseat to roam the death mobile filled with baby hazards. I'd only gotten a few lines down the page when my heart sank into my stomach. "Previous work experience." "References." My mind went blank, and all of the MLM, self employment, mommy work I'd done in the past dozen years seemed like silly pretend when I tried to put it in ink. The sparse work experience from before motherhood felt like eons ago. I filled out the little boxes and lines with my head whirring, ran it back inside, strapped the now-angry giant baby into his carseat, seat-belted the circus, and drove away with a million regrets flying through my mind. I had not represented myself well. Here this job was practically set in my lap on a silver platter, and I was going to blow it! The moment we got home I put the babe in the highchair with snacks and the older kids watching over him, and raced upstairs to type up a resume to email to Brian. I didn't know how to write a resume for 13 years of the hardest work in the world punctuated by random bouts of entrepreneurship. I did my best. It was a far cry better than my application attempt. I emailed it in with an apology and went back to being the rockin'est mommy and auntie in the land while I waited.
 I needn't wait long. Deann called that same afternoon to set up an "interview" with Brian for Thursday. "Interview" is in quotations because the chat about how awesome it was gonna be to work together, and how "this was so meant to be" was unlike any interview I've ever had. A hug and a high five. That's how we ended it.
Last Monday I went to physical therapy. This Monday I started the raddest job that I never expected to have.
Why is it the raddest job? Because it's not about the money. It's not even about the skill set. It's not about cleaning therapy spaces, hooking up e-stim or traction, learning ultrasound, filling ice packs, overseeing exercises, filling out charts, and doing laundry.  It's about the people. I get to rub shoulders with the most caring and kind humans, as we work together to help broken, humbled, determined people find out how amazing they are. We help them get up and live again. I get to help do for others what was done for me. There is something so powerful in that.
I am so grateful. So blessed

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I was just a smidge late. I pulled into the hospital parking lot when I should have been checking in at the desk and scoured section after section for a spot. Finally I pulled into a space splashed with the words, "Park further, walk more, be healthier!" or something like that. It was possibly a quarter mile away from the doors I needed to go through. As I locked my doors, dropped my keys in my purse and turned, book in hand to face the maze ahead, it dawned on me. I was grateful. So grateful to not have to crutch there, or be dropped off at a waiting wheelchair. The morning sun backlit the stunning mountains as a smile spread across my face and I broke into a slightly lopsided trot. Why? Because I could. There were many curious glances and quite a few jealous glares at the almost-middle-aged woman running through the parking lot in moccasins, with a slightly mad grin on her face. I just grinned harder, and the elderly couple at the doors laughed, bidding me good morning.
Small talk with the strangers in the elevator, a greeting to the secretary at the desk who didn't recognize me anymore, and then I settled into a chair with my novel to wait. Midway through chapter one a couple struggled slowly through the waiting room. They were young. Her face, etched with pain, didn't match her feeble body or the walker that supported it. He was solicitous and so careful at her side. She lowered herself slowly, painfully into the seat next to me and I smiled as I caught her eye for a brief moment. She wasn't in the mood to chat. That much was apparent. Her despair, her suffering, her struggle were palpable in the air around us. I said nothing, just closed my eyes and willed whatever feelings of peace and comfort I had in her direction. It's going to be okay.
My eyes crept to my own scars, healed and faded enough to belie the severity of the trauma which caused them not so long ago.
An even younger man, barely still a teenager crutched toward us and took a seat a few chairs down. His body language said he was sick of this and so ready to be done with those crutches. Oh, how I knew that feeling! I wanted to stand up and preach aloud how awesome this room full of fighters was! "You've got this!" I'd say. "Don't give up! You are amazing!" Instead a wan half smile drifted across my lips and I went back to reading.
Two chapters and some Facebook browsing later they called my name. I walked easily through the doors I had slowly crutched through months before, had my x-rays taken and settled into an exam room. As I waited I had time to reflect on how far I had come. That little smile kept playing at my lips until I gave in and just let it live there. Doc Chardack made his appearance and his usual pseudo-amazed joke about examining the wrong foot. Then he looked at the right one, and the 'pseudo' dropped right off. A smile split his face.
"How does it feel?"
"Pretty good, actually!"
"It looks fantastic. The mobility is really great! Any nerve problems?"
"Just a little nerve weirdness here and there."
"That's to be expected when we cut right along the main nerve branch."
He sarcastically asked if I could run on it.
"What, really?"
"I did a 5k on Thanksgiving."
His jaw dropped. "Are you serious?"
"Physical Therapy has been amazing."
He pulled up my x-rays. Even my bones looked stronger! All joint integrity is maintained. No spaces or dead spots or broken screws. The glaring network of internal hardware, and the few jagged edges where shards of bone went missing made it look like a patchwork craft project. It's not pretty, and it never will be, but it works, and it's mine. It'll do.
"If you can run a 5k, and the pieces haven't so much as wiggled, I feel confident declaring you healed. You're a miracle."
It seemed a weird thing to declare. Healed seems like it would mean that I'm back to what I was before all of this. But I've come to realize that isn't what it means at all. I will never be her again. I have fought too hard to be better, stronger, more compassionate, more adaptable, more trusting, and above all, more grateful.
I will probably have swelling for years to come, and weather prediction powers, and nerve twinges, early arthritis, and pain in the cold, but it seems a small price to pay to live fully.
The Doc stuck out his hand and I took it in both of mine. "Thank you. Thank you for putting me back together. I am so, so grateful."
He smiled and asked if I would go rub elbows with all of his patients and let my good juju wear off on them.
"Seriously, it's all about the attitude. Now get outta here!"
Just for one last giggle, I told him about the 25k I signed up for last night. I chuckled and walked away as his jaw dropped yet again and he laughed aloud.
No return appointment. I thanked the nurses and secretaries as I strolled out, cheeks aching from smiling so much. Then I used the drive home to daydream about sunshine, dirt, and mountain tops.