This morning in yoga, the instructor asked us all to set an intention, or meditate on a person to dedicate our practice to. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to do this in every class, but I haven’t done it since my first class getting back on the yoga horse in July; I was dealing with an injury that was keeping me from running, my grandmother was sick, work was uncertain, and our wedding planning seemed to be getting out of control. During that class, my intention, as I remember it, was, “Wake up/feel alive/be me again!”
With myself securely back in place, I feel much better about dealing with the stresses in my life. I want to eat healthier because I know I’ll get more out of my practice if I do. And I know that stresses will pass if I breathe and examine the root of my stress without fixating on it. And my life is still not perfect, but it’s certainly more enjoyable since I started practicing yoga more regularly.
This morning, I was able to concentrate on the person I chose to dedicate my practice to: my dad.
Look at this guy: a very active kid and teenager who spent less time in a car or on the couch than riding horses, running, and playing basketball, he found himself with a toddler and twin babies (that’s three screaming redheads, folks) by the time he was my age, 26. Bad luck seems to follow him around like the rain cloud in Winnie the Pooh, although you’d never know it by his attitude. In 2010, he lost a significant amount of weight working in an active job (a gravedigger, which he got after a sudden job loss and never complained about once) but hurt his knee so badly it required surgery and had no choice but to sit back and let it heal.
Fast forward to August 2012: I received an email from the Thoroughbred Classic 5k, a race my brother and fiancé and I ran last year on Thanksgiving day. The three of us had so much fun – it was Kevin’s (my brother) first race ever, and we ran together until the very end, where he sprinted ahead and beat me by 8 seconds.
I forwarded the email to my whole family asking who wanted to run with me. Here’s my family breakdown:
Fiancé (Ryan) – Has been running his whole life and is much too fast for his own good. Chances of a response (in my mind): extremely high.
Brother (Kevin) – Ran the 5k with me last year and seemed to like it. Does his Insanity videos regularly at home. Chance of a response: moderate.
Brother (Brian) – very laid back, ridiculously good at guitar solos and hilariously funny, but not a runner (yet). Chance of a response: low.
Mom – has run two races with me, (Women’s Half Marathon, Cherry Blossom 10-mile) a few on her own, and volunteered with me at this year’s women’s half marathon with Girls on the Run. Chance of a response: high.
Dad – not a runner. Chance of response: very low.
So imagine how surprised/shocked/impressed I was when dad was the first to respond to my email:
I think I called Ryan to tell him, in the middle of the work day for both of us.
Dad and I took a training walk last weekend when I was home. Around halfway into our mile, he asked to slow our pace, which was the first reminder for me that he’d been walking the better part of a mile with a bum knee. We finished the mile, jogged a bit, and even sprinted for a few seconds near the end.
You know those stupid photos on pintrest that are supposed to be inspirational? Like this:
They do nothing for me except send me into a culture-hating spiral of negativity.
Here’s what’s really inspirational for me: when the man who gave me life decides to take some life for his own. He told me that he was sick of sitting on the sidelines and watching everyone else enjoy their lives. And whether or not he crosses the finish line crawling, he was determined to cross it.
So, for me, getting up this week for 6 a.m. yoga classes is a blessing that I don’t take for granted. Health is a gift that I dedicated specifically to him today.
Thanks for the motivation, dad.