Run… just. RUN! Breathe in, breathe out, let the rhythm of the pavement under your feet intermingle with the rhythm of your heart while adding the melodic sounds of all your worries and doubts being stripped away with every blessed step… people used to ask me why I ran so much, and THIS is why: with every step, every mile, every hill repeat or track workout, and with every race I filtered a new worry, shedded a new doubt, pushed myself to levels and limits I never dreamed possible! It made me feel bigger than every person who ever harmed me, lied to me, manipulated me or used me. It’s on the running courses that I truly poured my heart out to God, where I connected with His spirit and felt His presence the most.. I just feel as though I was created to run… my passion… my purpose… just. RUN! Now, hopefully y’all can see and get an idea of why I continued to run and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will race and fly again! I was born for this!
One thing I did not mention in my previous post was the amount of physical pain that I had been through during these times. Yes, I mentioned that I was seeing chiropractors and doing what I could to try to figure out how to alleviate the pain. The problem is, my nerve endings were constantly on fire! I was eating a lot of normal table salt and loaded my oatmeal with sugar. I also ate a lot of other sugar containing foods which became a total breeding ground for inflammation! I would take ibuprofen from time to time, but I really felt that my body just needed to be able to handle the pain on its own. I later found out that I was allergic to ibuprofen, but will get into that, Lord willing, at a later time.
More recently, I have been very quiet about the current details of my life. I will say, however, that I was blessed with yet another opportunity to act in the resurrection production at the church I attend. There I was, delivering the opening monologue as the “healed woman!” In this brief skit, I explained the years of battling with the issue of blood and how one touch of the garment of Jesus healed her, all of her issues were “settled and done!” So much of me related to that monologue! For the first time in my entire time being a performer, I truly connected with the character! Years and years of battling pain, emotionally, physically, etc. Here I am, right now, reaching for the garment of Jesus… begging and pleading for HIS healing touch!!! The thought of finally being delivered from the physical pain I deal with on a day-to-day basis is what really helped me give everything that I am into offering that performance to God and to the audience. I can only hope that this piece touched the heart of those watching as much as it touched mine. I pray that whoever was in the audience that needed a touch from Jesus got their touch that day. Meanwhile, I hope and pray that I too will receive my miracle!
Now, I left off in my last post where my sister and I were becoming friends, she had cleaned up, got into a program, and had brought a little bundle of joy into our lives! So, after a long break from blogging, I’ll continue with my journey.
Part 11 of my journey
Family, there’s no connection like it! The sense of being loved, the sense of knowing that you have people that not only have your back, but share the same blood… this is irreplaceable!
My experience with family hasn’t always been healthy. People didn’t always have my back as you all can see. I didn’t always feel loved. I often felt shoved out and secluded. Yet, with the little bundle of joy that had been brought into our lives, things appeared to change for the better! Life FINALLY seemed to be going well!
Day-to-day life was a bit rough. I was out of a job, so I definitely struggled financially. Then, a bittersweet moment came. The bitter part? I received news a few months prior to my shake down with my dad that the landlord from the first place that I lived at in El Sobrante had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease and was fading quickly. This was the man who let me stay in the mobile home when my life was falling apart! He was honestly one of the sweetest people I had ever met! The sweet part? Well, his wife had been caring for him on a daily basis. She needed someone to help take care of him once or twice a week while she went and spent time with her family. She called me about a month prior to the loss of my car and asked if I could care for him in exchange for pay. Honestly, I would’ve done it for free; however, she insisted on paying me and I was really blessed to be given the opportunity to be entrusted with his care. For a short while after the loss of my car I didn’t receive any calls from her to help out.
Just after the birth of my nephew, his health went way downhill and he was bedridden. His wife ended up calling me a bit more. It wasn’t consistent work. She didn’t need me every week, but it was provision during a very dry financial season and the perfect opportunity to try to give back to someone who had given so much to me.
I think one of the most encouraging moments while taking care of him was when he actually let me feed him! Prior to my caring for him, he would not allow anybody other than his wife help him eat. Then, as I was upstairs reading a book, I heard him mumble something about wanting cookies! I quickly went to the cabinet, got his chocolate chip cookies, a cup of milk, and headed down the stairs to the basement where he lay. Here he was… this man that I used to see cleaning up the yard every day, driving around the streets of town, joking with me when I’d run by, a man who chose to enjoy traveling with his wife rather than spending a fortune on sparkling up a home that would only fade away, a man so cheery… now, barely able to move or even talk! My heart just broke for him! I sat next to him, dipped the cookie in some milk so it would be soft enough for him to eat, and he allowed me to feed him! If any of you know what Lou Gehrig’s is like, you’ll understand that when someone is in the final stages of this disease, the simple task of eating can cause them to choke and die. His trusting me to feed him was probably one of the most encouraging moments I’ve ever had in my life! He slowly finished his cookies and I helped him sit up and drink the rest of his milk through a straw. This became something I definitely looked forward to during my times of caring for him!
In my personal life, I continued to run, but I wasn’t really able to race. I did maybe one race during that whole time, but emotionally I was just not with it. The eating disorder had really grabbed a hold of me. I was running to burn calories instead of running to train. This became very obvious at my birthday party at yummygurt in Pinole. I was absolutely exhausted, and way too thin! Looking back, I know now that my God-family could see it, but I was so blind!
I was trying so hard to build the nutrition business with my friend, just trying to survive, going with my mom to work in Berkeley just so I could run on the streets out there and then help her clean buildings, my baby sister was even helping US with food despite having to provide for herself and the baby… I was stressed out, wrung out, and felt guilty, miserable and worthless! Meanwhile, my sister kept going through her program and entered into transitional home! A bit of hope in the midst of chaos! Seeing her press on through her trials encouraged me to start applying for work… for real, stable work. Finally, I received a call from a local grocery store saying they wanted to interview me! I quickly went in and was hired that day for clerk position in the deli/bakery! This was yet another bittersweet moment for me. Having the new job meant that I quite possibly would not have the time to take care of my dear friend.
The day of my orientation, I was caring for him. My mom came to get me, and as I headed out the door, something told me this was the last time I would ever see him again. I looked back at him and said, “goodbye Wally.” It was almost as though I was terrified to even go near him. I’ve carried the guilt of this moment even till today. That evening, just after my orientation, I received a call from his wife that he had passed. I totally fell apart!
Starting work at the grocery store definitely had its challenges! To be honest, I originally applied there because I had a crush on someone that worked there. Upon getting hired, I found out that he had a girlfriend. The way he acted around me did not make it look that way that’s for sure! Though we never went past friendly “hi how are you” conversations, he definitely acted like he was interested. So, I did my best to be as civil as possible. If we were in a room like the break room alone together, I tried to stay as far away from him as possible or leave that room. I kept my conversations with him very quick and simple. With the schedule at my new job, I barely had time for the nutrition business. Honestly, none of the products really, truly suited me. I found myself trying to fit into a mold that just wasn’t for me.
Long hours at the deli with extremely chaotic shifts, the battles of trying to rise above financially, the mental strain of being at work for nine hours and trying to get to and from home, all this became exhausting, all while working around the awkwardness with the guy that worked there… ughh! What a mess!
When I worked in the deli in the evenings, I would go for a run in my area in the mornings. Then, they decided they liked me to work in the bakery and open in the mornings. As one of the few people who was actually able to complete all the opening work by the time the store opened and still have it look neat… they kept me primarily in that position and often had me do switchbacks where I would close, then open. This meant early mornings around 3-4 AM busting my butt to bake bread, donuts, packaged food, etc. I would often be off around noon or 1.
(One of the beautiful cakes that the decorators made 💜💜💜)
The town I live in is far away from any real grocery stores including the one I worked for. Using the bus system would have taken me several hours to get home. So, I would go for a run in the area and do personal Bible studies and church membership homework while I waited for my mom to head back from Berkeley and pick me up on her way home. I found myself often and pain because I had no way to see Dr. Runco in Concord. I then started to see the first chiropractor I’d gone to in El Sobrante who was helpful, but just didn’t seem to be able to get to the root of it. Restrictive eating began to worsen. While I did eat a lot, I was not eating enough calories or the right nutrients for all of the work that I was doing.
Then, devastating news hit! My step grandmother on my mom’s side had been reported missing! Apparently, she had gone to go visit an area in the mountains that was very special to her and my grandpa (who had passed) and never returned. My aunt sent me an article that had been written about it through a DM on my Facebook page. We prayed, waiting, and hoped for several days only to receive the report that she had apparently gotten lost then distracted while driving and ended up trapped in the middle of nowhere in her car. Every day that she was out there she wrote letters about everything that had been going through her mind. The woman who taught me to color in the lines, let me call her “grandma fluffy,” who let me play with her art supplies and create whatever I wanted, who bowled like a maniac and Who always had some quirky new creation to show me when I visited was gone! Grief shook me like an earthquake! links to the news articles that explain her disappearance and final days are below:
I was exhausted! The combination of long, draining hours at work, physical pain, the loss of two people that were dear to me, malnutrition, constant stress of finances all beganto take their toll on me! PTSD hit in ways I would not wish on anybody! During early morning shifts, I would begin to hallucinate and see shadows in the darkened corners of the store. I would shake and twitch at random times, black out, forget random scheduled events, and would have night tremors so bad that I would wake up and feel paralyzed!
Finally, I was in so much physical pain that I went back to Dr. Runco to see if he could help! Slowly, I started feeling a bit better. Still, everything became too much for me! I cried out to God, and He answered in a very odd way. While driving to work one morning, my mom’s car failed on us. It barely made it to the grocery store parking lot! My manager was kind enough to let her stay inside where she made some calls and tried to figure out what to do. I had to open the bakery which is a very high pressure/high stress job while seeing my mom crushed and feeling hopeless. Her job relied on a good working vehicle and the ability to get to her accounts to clean them.
After spending most of the morning there, one of the managers was kind enough to take her home. There we were, in yet another position of not knowing what to do! My poor mom! As if it wasn’t enough that she stressed constantly about finances and life… this had to happen to her too! We were both just trying to get our heads above water! I felt like little tortured kitty drowning in a pond only to be beaten down every time I started to rise and get back up!
I continued trying to work. Fellow church members helped me get to and from work and chiropractic appointments, but all the stress became way too much! My body had had enough!!! I was in horrible pain again, and my chiropractor wrote a form of temporary disability releasing me from my job. With the injury that I was dealing with, all the bending and twisting had become too much. It was one thing for me to walk and run and do balance work which are normal, human functions; however, repeated bending, stooping, twisting, and all at an extremely high-pressure pace… yeahhh not the wisest position for someone to be in if you’re trying to recover from an injury! I took a few days back while trying to continue to gently walk, then was able jog and slowly regain my strength.
I remember laying in bed one night completely exhausted and friend of mine that I had met while working in the deli called me. This woman was honestly one of the greatest blessings in my storm! She encouraged and reminded me that she and I both knew that the deli/ bakery job was temporary. She reminded me of all the ideas that I had as far as ministry goes. Then, something came to mind. While I was working in the deli/bakery, I was constantly encouraging people to live out their dreams to do everything they’ve always wanted to do. There I was, letting life consume me, battling an eating disorder, and watching people that I knew from running and racing come in on Sundays after race events, my spirit longing so desperately to fly!… I would watch the choir sing and perform, the worship team at church singing their hearts out to God, but I had to step back because I was always working and striving to live. I understand that as people we need to work and live. I truly believe that hard work is an essential part of being human. The problem was not the job but the fact that I was shackled. I was chained to self hatred, oppression, guilt, unforgiveness and all these things had to be stripped away. The loss that job was just the beginning of a series of transformations for me, transformations that were more painful than anything I could ever explain, yet at the same time… very necessary and beneficial to my well-being! Just as the Word says:
(Image property of Christian.org)
With that, I’ll leave you all for now. As I’ve said many times before, I pray that the sharing of my journey encourages those of you who are reading to find God, to find His peace in the middle of your storm, and no matter what trial you’re facing, ask him to give you the strength to rise on Eagles wings above that storm! Grab a hold of His garment today and receive your miracle!