As the cliche goes, running is cheaper than therapy. Or so they say. Whoever they are. But I'm inclined to believe them, if only from my own anecdotal evidence.
My brain is busy. So busy. And sometimes it seems like all I do is herd cats. Millions of cats. So many cats. All of the cats.
I manage projects, conduct research, and create designs at my full-time day job as a software designer. I juggle clients and their projects in my part-time side business as a product and UX career consultant (and I'm working on growing that).
And then there's this hobby running blog thing that sometimes earns a little cash. But admittedly, I've scaled back on because chasing affiliates and sponsorships and all of that is super exhausting for very little reward. But on the flip side, I have a million-zillion product ideas that I want to create for the blog/as extensions of the brand and I dream of the day I can re-open my handmade jewelry business.
And I'm working through web development classes right now. Because, why not?
My brain is on fire. I am, after all, an ENFP. <---Side note: that blog is awesome. When you're done here, go there.
On any given day, I have exactly 1.32 million things that must be done.
Oh, and I'm also a mom.
And that means I am the:
- Cruise director
- Maker, rememberer of, and transporter to appointments (dogs, child, me)
- Family business planner
- Rememberer of birthdays (and presents) and planner of parties (including my own)
- Vacation planner
- Meal planner and prepper
- Decider of what sports and activities my son participates in (soccer? gymnastics? swimming?)
- Anticipator of next unexpected toddler growth spurt and purchaser of toddler clothing so pants are the correct length at all times
- Hurricane prepper (ugh, ugh, ugh - stay away, Irma)
- Etc, etc, etc...
Basically the glue that holds our family schedule together. And I probably work a 98 hour workweek.
It's a lot to keep organized on top of everything else I do at my multiple professional endeavors. My lists need lists. And if it's not me actually doing it myself, I still get asked about it and have to make a decision.
And because of all of those professional endeavors, I routinely feel like a complete failure at motherhood.
No wonder I leave dishes in the sink.
All of that stuff? It's called the mental load. And while many people scoff at this concept, there's plenty of info out there about it and its affects, and that women (specifically mothers) are mostly the bearers of this load. While there are certainly some men who carry more mental load (there are always exceptions), it largely and squarely falls on women most of the time.
Let me be clear: I'm not complaining. I've chosen all of this professional work along with motherhood. And the reasons I work full-time and pursue multiple side businesses probably warrant a post of their own, but suffice it to say, I don't trust only one income or income stream. My full-time job is more than enough, but full-time jobs aren't secure (I've learned this all too well over the years), so I'm creating more security.
So anyway, while I'm working, my husband does plenty of work around the house and works a full-time job as well. More often than not, he's the one dropping off B at school and lately, putting him to bed because B wants "Daddy to do it."
He's also the one who contacts the cleaning company, the landscaper, and the accountant so both our house and our finances remain intact. So a big thank you to him and all of the things that he does, because they are many (including cleaning up those all those dishes I leave in the sink) and I couldn't do all the things I do without him doing all the things he does. We are a team.
But my mental load is still enormous and probably always will be. If I don't remember, initiate, direct, or create a plan for something (because I'm not perfect), it often doesn't happen or it happens way later than it initially should have.
And that is why I run.
When I run, I'm no one's mother, wife, employee, boss, manager, event planner, organizer, sounding board, meal prepper, clothing buyer, butt wiper, rememberer of all of things, cat herder. No one (except me) is setting unrealistic expectations for me. No one (again, except me) is expecting me to perform super human feats of strength. Nor do I have to rely on anyone else. It's just me and the pavement (or dirt or beach, depending on where the running is happening).
In short: running keeps me (halfway) sane.
When things around me devolve into waves of chaos and the cats are roaming wild, running is my anchor to inner calm. Even though I may be thinking about all the things and mentally rolling through ideas or solutions for my work or projects while I'm out for a run, it's still a break.
Since becoming a mother, running has become even more important to me and I get even crankier when I miss it consistently.
There are days and weeks (like this most recent one) when even running isn't enough, and I just can't get myself out from under the mental load to get out to the pavement as much as I should. But more often than not, I do, and I'm always glad for it.
Running gets the endorphins going and I can literally sweat out the stress. And I'm convinced that running has saved me thousands of dollars in therapy sessions, which I've promptly spent on running shoes and race fees.
So what about you? Why do you run?