Success, with Style

Posts tagged “inspiration

Trying to be a runner again is not like “riding a bike”

Posted on October 22, 2015

I went running this morning and it was brutal.

I set a modest goal: run from my home to the park 6 blocks north, run intervals around the track twice, and then run back home.

One and a half block into my run, I felt bones and muscles in my bodies that I should not feel. Like, the bones in the bottom of my left foot and my ankles. I like my life better when I know that I have functioning limbs and muscles, but without knowing they are there, doing their job.

I ran the Chicago Half Marathon three years ago and started training for the Bank of America marathon the following year. Six miles into my ten mile run, my left knee tapped me on my shoulder and yelled, “BITCH, YOU GUESSED IT!”

(If you don’t know where that gem comes from, check out Kid Fury and Crissle of The Read podcast.)

I hobbled, tried to run slowly, tried stretching, limped, prayed, tried to run again. Finally, I had to accept my reality: I was badly injured in a way that I had never felt before. I limped the four miles back home, cried a little, and tried to figure out what to do next.

After a trip to my doctor, who sent me to a podiatrist, who sent me to a physical therapist, a diagnosis of illiotibial band (IT band) syndrome, and months of not being able to run more than 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling pain, I was finally able to run outside again, but only for 30 minutes.

I realized after experiencing that injury that not only did it halt my training, but it also debilitated my confidence. Running five miles used to be nothing for me, but during that injury, it hurt to walk up and down stairs.

I gained weight and insecurity. Running was one of the best things to happen to me. It was meditative. I realized about two years ago that instead of being meditative, running became a source of anxiety. I was literally afraid to run. Not because I thought I would be injured again, but because I was afraid of failing. I was afraid that I would set a running goal and I would not meet it. I’ve intermittently met that fear head on for the last two years, and not always successfully.

So when I left my home this time with my modest running goal, it was not only a decision to get in some much needed cardio, to release some stress, and to find my love of running again, but it was also a decision to confront a fear of failure.

I made it to the park and hit the track. My intent was to sprint the straight and jog the curve two times.

My ankles and left foot showed up that morning like,”Oh, hey, girl. Just stopping by to make your run is a living hell.”

I sprinted the straight the first time and heard myself wheezing. The wheezing was a mixture of unattractive mouth-breathing and a little bit of asthma.

I got my breathing under control and jogged the curved. Then I mentally prepared to sprint the curve again, and hit my sprint. I was much slower than I used to be. I jogged the curve. Barely breathing, I remembered how I first started running four years ago on the treadmill at the gym. When I enrolled at the gym, the trainer explained to me that the best way to increase my endurance was interval training. He told me to jog for 2 minutes and run for 1 minute and to repeat this process 10 times. Running intervals that first time was hard as hell but within a year, I ran a half marathon and was having a pretty good time doing it.

Running was hard when I first started. I kept at it, struggled, learned, and improved.

I’ll have to do the same thing this time around.

What To Do When You’ve Done All You Can

Posted on March 2, 2015

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things that I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I usually stagger, and sometimes fall, on the first part: opening myself up to accepting the things that I cannot change. When you’ve grown accustomed to leading, creating opportunities, changing unsavory situations, and encouraging others, sometimes you want to buck against those circumstances that you actually cannot change. You want to find the loophole, the break in the chain of command, the weak link. You want to force a square peg into a round hole. It is then that you, and I, experience the most discontent. It is when I know that I have done all that I can, yet I continue to find a way to alter the outcome, to sway it in my favor. This is the moment that is the hardest: knowing there is nothing more you can do, yet wanting to do more.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Serenity is not enough. Serenity is the first leg of the race. Faith is the finish. You get through those anxiety-ridden moments when you don’t know the outcome by having faith in yourself and your God that, no matter what, you will be okay. You will continue to move forward. You will rise, and in the end, you will conquer.

You ever notice that you feel least in control when it seems the outcome is in the hands of another person, when you are not in control? For instance, you’ve submitted your resume, you’ve interviewed exceedingly well, and sent you handwritten thank-you notes. It seems you did all you can do. Yet, you still find yourself biting your nails and pacing, trying to figure out what more you can do to land your dream job. That is where serenity and faith must show up. When you’ve done all you can do and you simply have to wait.

I’m not good at waiting. I’m better at serenity and really good at faith, but waiting…eh, not so much.

I’m waiting to hear back from a few more graduate programs and a couple of fellowships. Depending on how much coffee I’ve had, I find myself stressed and anxious while awaiting the outcomes of my applications. That is, until I realize that I have too many other things to do instead of wait and worry. Those outcomes are no longer in my control. What I can control, however, is my work, my blog, and how I operate in my relationships. I can control the effort I put in at the gym and the food I put into my body. Once I reaffirm that I control certain events and outcomes, the waiting becomes less difficult. I have to remind myself that I am, in fact, equipped with the wisdom to know the difference between the things that I can and cannot change.

Most important, however, is that I also possess the courage to change the things that are within my control, and so do you.

Balancing Vision with Action

Posted on February 23, 2015

I live visually. I see my life, feel the sensations, smell the fragrances, and experience the feelings, before they even happen. I see my goals. This practice has served me well. Since I am always daydreaming about my life, my goals are always at the forefront of my mind. At the same time, however, because I am so visual, I have also had to deal with allowing my dreams to distract from the day-to-day and minute-by-minute actions of my life.

A delicate balance must be achieved: envisioning and acting. One cannot live without the other. If you envision without acting, then you will inevitably stall. Your vision will not come true. Similarly, if you act without planning, then you won’t ever know what it is that you are working toward, and you will not know when you have reached your goals.

Since I was accepted into one of my higher choices of Ph.D programs, I have been consumed with envisioning my life as a grad student. I’ve been doing so much visual planning: transit choices, where my partner and I will live, how I will earn money, what it will be like to work primarily from home (or more realistically, from libraries and coffee shops), how I will continue to network with the legal community, how I will continue to blog; how I will continue to grow.

I have to remember to live in the now. Because I am such a planner, and because I am great at assessing risk and determining alternative courses of action, I must allow myself to be comfortable in the moment, something that I have always struggled with. As is evident with this post, The TJ Way is not simply a “how-to.” It is also a journey, one that I humbly share with you. In that spirit, here are some tips that I have relied on in working to strike the right balance between vision and action:


It’s no coincidence that writers utilize outlining as a preliminary step in writing before getting into the meat of their work. Outlining organizes your thoughts. It provides a roadmap and helps guide research, development, and execution of your written work. I outline blog posts, legal briefs and memoranda and research papers. I also outline my life. Every year, month, week, and day, I prepare a list of goals and action steps for my life. Before I set out to publish this blog, I prepared a three-year strategic plan. In each instance, I began with a vision of what I wanted, and then I set about planning to execute that vision. Your outlines should be S.M.A.R.T.:







Sharing your vision is a great way of holding yourself accountable to your goals. Nothing says “get it done” like having an accountability partner or group checking in with you, inquiring into your progress and any obstacles you are facing, and helping you work through roadblocks.

Every person is not accountability partner material or worthy of sharing your deepest professional or personal desires. Rather than affirming your vision and encouraging your growth, some people try to deter you by questioning or belittling your choices. Beware of those shine-stealers.

Embrace, however, the people who would rather wear sunglasses around you instead of asking you to dim your light. Share your vision with those people.

(3) ACT.

Of course running a marathon when the last time you’ve run anywhere was to catch the ice-cream truck when you were 12-years old sounds like a frustratingly daunting task.

Rather than getting stuck on the size of the finished product, focus on a single step within the process. 

When you wake up in the morning, set out to do one thing that will bring you closer to realizing your vision. Before going to bed, make sure you have done that one thing. Think about the process of running a marathon, which starts with training. If you’ve never really run before, go online and find a “Couch to 5k” program and decide to complete the first running session today or tomorrow.

One goal that I plan to accomplish by January 2016 is to write a 12-15,000 word law review article. Sounds like a daunting task, right? That’s because it is. Rather than allowing myself to get caught up in the size of the project, I devised a plan and am taking a single step towards that plan every day. Although I don’t always have the time to really dig into reading every case or article related to my article topic, I have been able to start a research file that I dump my thoughts and resources into until I have time to thoroughly review them.I have also with the librarian at my job and alerted her to my goal of writing a law review article that will be published in a law journal by January. She helped me define the scope of my project and directed me to resources. Every day, I do at least one small thing to accomplish my goal.

Taking these steps means that I am not allowing myself to become engrossed in the glamour of my vision and am instead working incrementally to bring my vision to reality. I encourage you to also elevate your vision to the level of accomplishment by taking these steps.

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