“Go, sell what you have…”

Getting compliments on your personal belongings takes on a whole new meaning when you’re about to get rid of everything you own. In recent months I’ve made more than one loose acquaintance — including my doctor — very uncomfortable when I eagerly asked, “Do you want it?” after they told me they liked something I was wearing.

A good friend who is also hoping to enter religious life this summer put it so well: getting rid of your belongings in preparation for religious life is like standing on a precipice looking into eternity with everything that has always distracted us suddenly behind us. There’s nothing left: just me and the Great Unknown. In fact, as he pointed out, everyone will end up at this moment at some point in their lives, we’re just getting there a little earlier.

I keep running back to that scene in the Gospel, when the rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He has kept all the commandments, but he knows there’s something more. And Jesus looks at him, loves him, and says, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mk. 10:21). The young man’s reaction — going away sad because he had many possessions — has always broken my heart. In the past few years especially I’ve found myself wanting to shake him. You’ve just been offered the world, I want to shout at him. How can you walk away?

But here I am, faced with a similar invitation, and every day there’s a little twinge. That little porcelain boat from the Dollar Store my sister gave to me for Christmas back in 1991 — it’s a silly trinket, but I’ve carried it around for years, and I admit to a tremor at the thought of letting go. The baby blanket my five-year-old self used to use as a royal robe when playing dress-up … my books and my piano … so many of things we take for granted, right down to the use of that comfortable word, “mine.”

Yes, even letting go of “my” friends is proving to be a lot harder than I ever expected (and I never fooled myself that it would be easy).

God doesn’t ask any of us for halves. That’s what I’m facing in so many concrete ways right now. When he asks us for everything, he means everything. (And by the way, he asks all of us for everything.) He pushes us past the point of comfort, even past discomfort, to that place where the tears start and we cry, “But I can’t!”

This isn’t relegated to those of us discerning religious vocations. We’re all called to this. It’s part and parcel of the Christian life, dare I say, of being human. When you feel you’ve done enough, you’re wrong. There’s no such thing as “enough” for the soul that’s marching towards heaven. The question should always be, “All right, Lord. What now?” Because we can’t give him everything in one action, once. We’re temporal creatures, constantly moving from one minute to another, so giving our all must also be a temporal thing, an act repeated at every moment until we finally reach eternity.

And when you get right down to the nitty-gritty doing of it? It’s epic.

 

A new profile — in discernment

I was blown away over the last two months by people’s generosity in helping me pay off my student loans so I can enter the convent at the end of the summer. So many people have been so incredibly good to me. Now I’m sharing the story of a young lady I recently met who is in a similar circumstance. She hopes to join the cloistered Dominicans in Linden, Virginia, but has to pay off some $30,000 in debt first. I know many people have approached me recently asking if they can help, and I’ve had to turn you away as my goals are met. Would you be willing to consider helping my sister instead? She’ll be doing me and my community and the whole Church an incalculable good by devoting her life to prayer. 

But I’ll let her do the talking. Please help her if you can, and help spread the word by sharing her link, or this post, or both!  

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Maria Gonzalez
I am 28 years old, and was raised Roman Catholic since infancy. I thought about becoming consecrated to God in religious life about 4 years ago, immediately after I graduated college in 2010. Like most college experiences, mine was entangled in worldly distractions. This was because I was not firmly rooted in faith as a youth. I mostly went through the motions while in Catholic School. Therefore, I was easily taken by this current once I entered college at the University of New Hampshire. During this time, I did not have the support of positive influences or that of family, nor did I realize that I needed them. I never gave thought to religious life. I slowly stopped attending mass regularly shortly after starting college because I hadn’t found any Catholic fellowship or support on campus. The friendships I made were merely superficial. This left my heart empty and searching for God, though I was unaware of it. When I perceived it, I thought it homesickness. I tried to correct this through dating. The foundation of these relationships were also based superficially, and therefore destined for failure. God then intervened and moved me by his Divine mercy to the healing of these wounds which I was acting out of.
One particular day in May 2010 while in adoration, I was inspired by the awareness of the mercy of the Holy Spirit at work in my life at this time. I was filled with great gratitude in my heart for this, and I felt moved to offer God my life totally. Immediately upon returning to a life of grace, the Holy Spirit was able to inspire me with God’s will which was given to me at baptism, so I started discerning different religious communities. As my relationship with God grew, so did his grace in my soul and his will became apparent to me in the desires of my heart. I knew that I wanted to give my life totally to God and his Church in union and in imitation of Christ crucified for humanity.
So I started studying and contacting contemplative communities. Through discovering St. Dominic and his spirituality, I discovered myself truly. As of Jan. 2014, I have found my life’s dream in a Monastery of cloistered Dominican Nuns in Linden, Virginia. I am greatly honored and thrilled to have found out about my acceptance this January! The only obstacle before I can enter is having to pay off all my student loan debt. This is because as a contemplative cloistered community, the nuns do not work in the world earning income. Therefore, they cannot afford to take on any debt. A nun’s apostolate, unlike active sisters who work in the world such as social work or teaching, consists in the offering of all of their prayers, works, joys, and sorrows for the Church and the world in solidarity with Christ crucified on the cross, as a Eucharistic offering. This is for the salvation of humanity, the success of the preaching mission of the Dominican friars, and the good of the Church. They are considered the powerhouse of prayer for the Church. As St. Therese of Lisieux put so eloquently, “In the Heart of the Church my mother, I will be love.” Nuns mediate the needs of the world to God, and God to the world through their prayer.
I have been actively fundraising on my own through the generosity of my family and friends through my website: www.youcaring.com/sendmariatotheconvent. I will carefully make a record of what each person has given me and acknowledge it in a thank you letter. I have every intention of making final vows and living out my whole life in the monastery. If for whatever reason I leave at any point, I am committed to repaying everyone the full amount donated who made it possible for me to enter through their generosity.
I would be forever grateful and promise to pray for yourself, your loved ones, and your intentions both now and while in the monastery. God bless you.

 

How eavesdropping led me to a resolution

One recent morning I sat in a coffee shop doing some freelance work and half listening to two mothers who sat chatting in chairs beside me. One of the women did most of the talking, and she complained. A lot.

She complained about her schedule, about her kid’s teacher, about long emails and too-short spring breaks, about the cold, about her husband’s not taking her seriously when she said she wanted move to California.

The impish part of me wanted to interrupt and ask if anything good had ever happened to her, or at least in the last week. For crying out loud, here she was hanging out with a friend on a work morning, drinking hot coffee and wearing comfortable clothes while the red-eyed, suit-wearing masses lurched in and out around her, desperate for their morning fortification before a long day at the office.

But after a few minutes of listening I winced — yes, physically winced — as something very unpleasant occurred to me. How often have I been that person pouring out all my tales of woe, my insecurities, my frustrations and worries and fears into the ready ears of sympathetic girlfriends over similarly warm cups of coffee on pleasant days off? In fact, come to think of it, when was the last time I had a chance for a heart-to-heart that didn’t turn into an all-out Mabel Venting Session?

I can’t think of a single time.

Because, truth be told, I’m a world-class whiner. That might be too modest, actually. I wrote the book on whining. (The book itself was pretty negative and sales were weak, so I don’t talk much about it. But I digress.) I have a pretty amazing life when you look at it objectively, but somehow there’s always something to complain about. Negative feelings will crop up, and they must be given their day in public, mustn’t they?

When I’m not whining I’m backhandedly expressing my petty hurts over perceived slights and offenses. This acquaintance didn’t come to my dinner party last week, that roommate has been giving me the cold shoulder ever since I innocently remarked that she could clean her own dishes every once in a while, and my sister hasn’t called or texted me in weeks, which must mean she hates me. There’s always something to mutter about.

We strive so hard to avoid hurting one another’s feelings that we just end up being ugly. Instead of addressing issues head-on directly with the person who is causing us an issue, we “play nice” to their faces and then vent our frustrations in completely unproductive ways. Okay, I say “we.” Some people have learned the fine art of confrontation, but too often I still hide behind the mask of “niceness” because it avoids unpleasant discussions and emotions.

But when the mask comes off? It’s hideous. There was nothing attractive about that woman I overheard in the coffee shop. Indeed, I don’t even remember what she looked like because I was so distracted by the ugliness of everything she had to say. Yet she’s probably a lovely person, a good wife, mother, and friend, and I probably caught her in the middle of her purging session, when all the ugliness came out at once because she’d kept it bottled up for so long.

I have a long way to go, but that morning forced me to take a good look at myself, and to make a promise: to live honestly and speak openly with those who have to live with me, instead of bottling all my emotions and pretending nothing is wrong. I’m terrible at it, but maybe confrontation gets easier — or at least a little bit less terrifying — with practice?

If it doesn’t, don’t tell me. I may not have the stamina to keep it up. But I’m determined not to let long-held bitterness over trivial things make me ugly. That’s not what God made community for, even if the realities of Other People can drive you crazy sometimes.

Mabel

 

What’s your story?

I’m one of those obnoxious Catholic girls who loves hearing people’s vocation stories. And now that I’ve been on this journey myself, I love it even more. I’ll track down just about anything in a habit and demand to know how it got there, and in recent months I’ve been more brazen than ever. 

As I prepare to enter the postulancy this August, the focus on people’s stories has struck me in a new way. Each of us has a story, and those stories should be shared. Really, they’re begging to be, but so often we don’t bother to ask. For some reason, religious vocation strips away some of those barriers, and I’m constantly surprised, humbled, and yes – delighted by it. 

When you tell people you’re entering a convent, they don’t just ask to hear your story – though they usually want to know – they want to tell you theirs. The receptionist at my dentist’s office told me all about his experience in a Catholic elementary school where he was taught by kind nuns. An old colleague talked about visiting his grandmother in Peru, and playing in the sun in a local convent’s courtyard where she went often to visit. Another colleague talked about being let out of detention in his Catholic high school by a sympathetic sister. Friends and acquaintances have discussed their own discernment experiences, or family members or friends who entered religious life.

I know for myself, I worry about being rude or pushy if I ask people (other than religious, of course) to tell me about themselves – beyond the typical name, place of origin, job description. I struggle with the sense of encroaching on someone’s boundaries if I try to scrape the surface. And I hesitate to share my own story because I don’t want to be the over-sharer. I certainly don’t want to tell my story only to be ignored or half-heard or (worst of all) judged. But I’m coming to realize that our stories aren’t for ourselves alone; they demand to be shared, and there’s a lot of joy in sharing and encountering someone else in a deeper way through hearing about their experiences.

Some of my friends went on a road trip a couple of years ago, and one of them suggested sharing life stories during the long drive. It was a surprising and I think profound experience for them, and I’ve always been a little disappointed that I missed it, though I’ve been filled in on some of the stories since. Even now, it’s great to watch them reminisce about that experience. Clearly, it made their friendship much deeper.

Another friend once surprised me at a large gathering when he asked a complete stranger, clearly searching for a good conversation topic, “So – what’s your story?” Even more surprising was the person’s response. She brightened up and started talking. Granted, some people might find such a question invasive, but I think there’s a universal desire to be drawn out of ourselves in some way. We all want to share our stories, and to have someone else listen to them and even enter into them with us.

Of course, there are some parts of our stories that aren’t meant to be communicated. We each live a unique, individual life, and some parts are meant to be wrapped up in a secret place shared only between ourselves and our Maker. There’s a great moment in C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy, when one of the main characters, Aravis, learns that her maid was severely beaten because Aravis tricked her so she could run away from home. She knew when she left that the maid would probably be beaten, but she didn’t care. Now she’s sorry, and she asks Aslan if the girl will be all right. Aslan answers, “Child, I am telling you your story, not hers.”

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There’s a fine line between sharing stories and just plain nosiness, and that can be a hard thing to discover. But we have a duty to be ready to encounter the other, and even to invite them to the encounter, and one of the first ways to do that is through sharing who we are, where we’ve been, what we’ve done.

Like Mary in the gospel of Luke, carrying Christ to her cousin, each of us can and should say, “The Almighty has done great things for me” – and I’m aching to tell you about it, and to hear what he has done for you. 

-Mabel

Bl. John Paul II prayer

So very excited for Bl. John Paul II’s canonization this weekend. I just found the official prayer for his intercession, and I’m putting it here for safe-keeping. 

Prayer to St. John Paul II

Oh, St. John Paul, from the window of heaven, grant us your blessing! Bless the church that you loved and served and guided, courageously leading it along the paths of the world in order to bring Jesus to everyone and everyone to Jesus. Bless the young, who were your great passion. Help them dream again, help them look up high again to find the light that illuminates the paths of life here on earth.

May you bless families, bless each family! You warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable divine spark that God lit on earth. St. John Paul, with your prayer, may you protect the family and every life that blossoms from the family.

Pray for the whole world, which is still marked by tensions, wars and injustice. You tackled war by invoking dialogue and planting the seeds of love: pray for us so that we may be tireless sowers of peace.

Oh St. John Paul, from heaven’s window, where we see you next to Mary, send God’s blessing down upon us all. Amen.

 

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Some news you’ve probably already heard

It’s no secret anymore, folks, and after an unexpected round of some very — er — public publicity last week*, I guess there’s no point in holding back from my own little blog.

I have some news. Granted, I’m pretty sure most of you know it already, but just to make sure we do things properly, I’m writing it here.

It looks like I’ve only got a few months left in the gap. In August I will be moving down south to enter the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN. Okay, so really, I guess I’m leaving one gap for another (postulancy and the novitiate are definitely not “settled” yet), but this gap has a clearly delineated trajectory and such a clear, beautiful end.

Still, I used to think that when I finally wrote The Post announcing my departure from the gap, I’d feel nothing but joy. I’d be washing my hands forever of the tedium of looking forward, and I’d rush off to greet the future with wide open arms. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of joy in making this announcement, but it’s tinged with bittersweet. As one of my friends said to me this weekend, “I won’t say my joy is unmixed.” It’s been a good six years in the gap, and almost without realizing it I’ve put down roots, made lasting connections, and given out little pieces of my heart here and there that are already starting to smart something dreadful when I look ahead to the summer.

It’s going to be very hard to leave so many good things behind. Friends and family, don’t think I’m not going to miss you awfully. I’ve been hesitant to say anything on the blog because I don’t really want to think about it, and I certainly don’t want to talk about it. At the same time, I’m so grateful to know that leaving will hurt. It means I’m not running away from anything, which means I can honestly say I’m making this choice in freedom. God is very good to me.

That said, I’ve got a few months left here still, in that funny limbo between my normal, working world life and the postulancy. I’ll be working my regular job through June, then spending a month with my family before entrance. I’ll also be working my way through my “bucket list” of things to do before I go, and dragging my friends along with me on my adventures, including but not limited to a day trip to Harpers Ferry, brunch at the Kennedy Center and a trip to the Baltimore aquarium. During these next few months, I do intend to keep up with this blog, so do check back — more posts to come, I promise.

-Mabel

 

*Life lesson from a girl who works in PR: if you don’t want your story to go public, maybe don’t agree to talk to reporters, mm-kay? Sometimes I wonder how I survive from day to day, with the lack of brains I show sometimes.

Time to grow up

You know how sometimes you’re having a complete meltdown over something that seems absolutely critical to your future health, happiness, and overall well-being? There you are, staring out the living room window at the cold, dreary rain, thinking dark thoughts about the future without whatever it is and wondering how you will ever survive. You’re in the depths of despair, and you glower in black fury at your roommates when they walk innocently by and wish you “good morning.” Nothing interests you. Food loses its flavor. Life — what meaning does it hold now that That Thing is about to be taken from you?

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So I was having one of those days on Sunday. And I’m both relieved and embarrassed to admit that the answer to my woes was incredibly simple. It went something like this: Grow up.

I’m realizing with increasing regularity that I spend a whole lot of time thinking about how the events and people in my life affect me. Those that affect me most get the most attention. Those that affect me less can sit and simmer on the back burner, if I give them even that much thought. Why worry about other people’s lives, seems to be my semi-conscious mantra, when I have my own to worry about?

But when someone else’s life has a noticeable impact on mine, theI stand up and take notice.

This weekend a blip in someone else’s plans threw my own plans into a tailspin, and instead of reacting in genuine concern for that person, I had a fit because I wanted things to go my way. Granted, this other person would probably like for things to go my way, too. I’m not being completely selfish. But it wasn’t until the blip in their plans unsettled mine that I took this person’s long-standing intention to prayer with real fervor. Heretofore I’ve been comfortable with the more passive, “Please bless so-and-so in such-and-such situation.” But now my own dearest wishes were on the line, and my prayers were much more focused.

As a result, I’ve been taking a much deeper look at all my intentions and realizing how selfish I am…yes, even in prayer. It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you,” and it’s even pretty easy to tack names on to my daily rosary or Mass. But to really carry the people I care about to Our Lord and present all their needs to him and beg him to look on them in love and satisfy their deepest needs–needs that have nothing to do with me? I won’t say that’s hard, but it’s hard to remember. It’s hard to pull my selfish head out of my own goings-on long enough to focus on The Other.

It’s just so dratted easy to be selfish. And quite frankly, it’s childish. The child can center the whole universe on her own measly wants and needs, but the adult is supposed to know better. Not just outwardly — it’s one thing to volunteer at the homeless shelter, give your seat to old ladies on the metro, or let the person with two items get ahead of you in line at the grocery store. Those are good things, but they’re also external and therefore easier to see. What goes on inside is just as important.

Real Christian charity isn’t just an outside thing. It should be all-pervasive, all inclusive, and deeply selfless. I should have genuine concern for the people in my life in everything, not just the areas that impact me directly. So I was grateful, albeit a bit embarrassed, when a wise person listened to my tearful tale and chuckled and said, “You’ll be fine. But you should be worried about that other person.”

Ah, perspective. It’s still not all about me. Maybe some day I’ll learn that lesson for keeps.

- Mabel

Profile in the Gap: Marie Kelly

Profiles in the Gap

Marie Kelly

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Marie Kelly is an accountant who lives and works in Northern Virginia.

Did you expect this time of singleness?

For me, “expect” is the wrong word. Since I have never been technically part of a couple, I have been in a season of singleness for a long time that I did think would end earlier. I am glad it isn’t over quite yet, if I am honest.

When I was 7, my teacher asked her class to draw a picture of what they would like to be when they grew up. My understanding of that question was framed in a vocational reference by my parents. I only knew 3 options: marriage, single life or religious life. I thought through the 3 options for the first time ever, reasoning that marriage didn’t look fun. I knew nothing about singleness so that left only one option: I drew a picture of a nun in her Dominican habit. When the rest of my class showed off their pictures of firemen and ballerinas I realized I felt gypped! I didn’t know those were options since I understood the question differently.

In high school, my angst centered around desire for freedom and independence. I longed to make my own decisions, go where I wanted and explore the world on my own. My time as a single has afforded me those opportunities. I have grown deeply as a person these years and now have accumulated both knowledge and wisdom to share. As a teen, I hoped to avoid being “trapped” by marriage too soon. Often, this struggle seems unique to my experience.

Do you seek or find fulfillment in your career?

Yes to both! I selected accounting early on for its unique match of my interests and abilities before I ever knew what accounting entailed. Although I struggled at jobs where I found little purpose in my work, I find great meaning in working for the Church as an accountant. I love being a Catholic accountant. It’s such a unique skill set I can offer in a ministry setting. Often I feel I am helping serve Christ’s physical needs through proper stewardship of donated resources. I feel my job is on the pulse of the Church, as I see the lifeblood of ministry flow through my desk. I love it.

How does faith play a role in your actions and your outlook as a single young adult?

Faith is crucial to me. Without Christ sustaining me day in and day out, my walk would be unbearable. It is so easy to compare, become bitter, just not have a light to offer the world without Jesus. I am very at peace with where God has me today. I passed the 30 milestone and life continued. I see God’s Providential care for me each day. I know He loves me. When He needs me to serve Him in a vocation of love, He will give me the graces for that time of my life. Until then, today is enough.

Chivalry and the single girl

This blog post from James Michael Shama, founder of the New Chivalry Movement (an endeavor I applaud whole-heartedly) has been making the rounds on my Facebook feed over the past few weeks. It’s  great to see advice from one young man to another on being a gentleman. As a woman who spent most workday evenings standing on the DC metro during my four years commuting, while plenty of young, healthy men sat and stared at their phones, I’ve certainly experience firsthand that a good discussion on chivalry is long overdue, especially for my generation.

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I appreciate Mr. Shama’s work and I realize he’s speaking largely about relationships and how men ought to treat women within them. Still, as a single woman, I’d also like to remind the gentlemen of this world that chivalry is not limited to the woman you’re romantically interested in. Sure, hold the door for the girl you like and pull out your date’s chair at the table, but chivalry isn’t about scoring points with your girlfriend. It’s about honoring and respecting those more vulnerable than you, which means quite simply there’s not always something in it for you.

More than once I’ve been left in the proverbial cold while men went out of their way to impress my girlfriends with their chivalry. I’m well aware when a man is pursuing my friend, and I know just about every man in my acquaintance currently is only interested in me on the platonic level. I play the best friend role a lot, believe me, and I know how to be a third wheel.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes. As just one example among a few, several years ago a guy opened a door for my friend, then walked in after her himself and closed it on me–even though we were all walking together. I remember standing there staring at the closed door for a full minute, blinking in bewilderment. Apparently not being a romantic interest meant I wasn’t worth respecting at all. There’s not gentle way to put this: that hurt. It still hurts, in fact, even though it seems like such a small deal, and it happened so long ago.

We single women develop a thick skin to rebuffs like that. Over time we come to expect them. We twist the painful experiences into cynical jokes and snide “funny” stories so they don’t sting quite as much, but the pain of being unnoticed and unlooked-for is very real. Men, do you want to be truly chivalrous? Take the time to perform a random act of gentlemanliness for a woman you’re not romantically interested in. It shouldn’t be a romantic act (you don’t want to send the wrong signal), but just affirming her womanhood means the world — even if she’s used to being cynical and not quite sure how to take it.

AdamAndEve_Garden_Lucas_Cranach_0I often return to that scene in the Garden of Eden, when Adam awoke and saw the woman for the first time. His response was one of wonder and delight; he affirmed the woman as a woman, and that affirmation was her delight. Each of us women is that first woman, and each of us longs to be seen and affirmed, even the most cynical and thick-skinned of us. All it takes is a small act of chivalry, like holding a door or vacating a metro seat, to say, “I affirm you as a woman. Not a potential girlfriend or someone I really want to impress, but as a woman in your own right, even if I never see you again.”

In its ideal form, that’s what chivalry should be all about: affirming the value and worth of the other person, no strings attached.

–Mabel

I’m in training

Is it just DC where every activity has to be carried to an absurd level of competition? I have recently begun training (I use the word “training” with just a hint of irony, since I have no idea what I’m doing…) for a 10k race in May, and the subculture of running I’ve stumbled upon amazes and frightens me. I was always dimly aware of this culture, but I had no idea how pervasive it really is. It seems everyone is a runner, or has been a runner, or plans to be a runner in another six months.

Of course, I’m in full support of a healthy habit, don’t get me wrong. But I’m also a wee bit embarrassed. Well-meaning friends have offered to train with me, and even more well-meaning housemates are offering me tips and advice on getting into the most optimal shape. People talk about their “slow” 10k finishes of 50 minutes, and I cringe. I’m a stubborn 10-minute miler and I don’t see that changing any time between now and May 17. I’ll be lucky if I can run a full 6.2 miles without dying, so speed is not at the top of my list of priorities.

I had to use this meme.

I had to use this meme.

 

But it gets worse. I don’t even know how to look like a runner. I’m realizing there’s a whole fashion code to working out, and somehow I completely missed the trend on that one. I see them all the time here in metro DC, the svelte, spandex-clad paragons of modern virtue racing down the sidewalk in their neon-colored shoes, earbud cords flashing white against their North Face and Lululemon jackets. I’m pretty sure they don’t even sweat.

Is there nowhere in life that "poorly dressed" is an acceptable standard?

Is there nowhere in life that “poorly dressed” is an acceptable standard?

Me? I’m huffing along in year-old cross trainers, sweatpants, and oversized T-shirts from countless volunteer functions over the years, with my hair flying in just about every direction and inevitably getting in my mouth. And my nose always runs. Always. Does anyone else have a runny nose running problem, or is that just me?

In all seriousness, this endeavor is proving to be an excellent opportunity to exercise not just discipline, but humility. No, I’m not the best runner out there — far, far from it. No, I don’t really even look like much of a runner. Honestly, I’m sure most people don’t notice; and those few over-achiever females who do bother to pay attention to what I wear can pat themselves on the back for looking better in their designer workout gear. No, I’ll never be fast, and yes, I’ll probably be finishing this race last, but by golly I’ll be in better shape than I was at the beginning of the year. And when it’s all over, I can say I ran a 10k.

So…I’m calling this a win. And if you’re working towards a 40-minute 10k anytime between now and June, know that I hate you and I don’t want to talk about it.

-Mabel