• Atara Weisberger

Finding Joy in the Journey



This may seem like a blog post about running.  But it isn’t.  It’s about fighting.  Fighting for perspective.  Fighting for faith.  Fighting to stay centered and joyful.  Fighting to believe that in the final analysis, everything will make sense.  And will be ok.  Maybe better than ok.  If you have the patience to read all the way through, maybe my thoughts will help you find a little more fight for whatever is important to you.

Like so many Sunday mornings, this morning I laced up my running shoes for a long run.   But I was running with a heavy heart, a worried mind, and some nagging injuries to boot.  I didn’t know if my ankle and knee would let me do 2 miles or 12 miles.  I didn’t know if my phone would ring and deliver good or bad news.  I did know that I wasn’t supposed to be running in Saddle Brook, NJ this morning.  I was supposed to be running one of the most beautiful and coveted marathons in the world this morning…..the Big Sur Marathon in California.  But like so many other times in my life, I planned but G-d had his own ideas for me.

It’s been a bad year for racing for me.  After over 30 years of running, I qualified for and was accepted to run the Boston Marathon this year. A dream come true.  So I sent in my payment and accepted my spot.  One small problem.  The marathon was on the last days of Passover which, for observant Jews, means no running.  I was also scheduled to run the NYC marathon again this November.  I haven’t run it since 2010.  But a family event that couldn’t be missed or rescheduled on that exact date meant saying goodbye to that registration as well.  Terribly disappointed by both missed opportunities, my good friend, Lesley Schofield, suggested we submit our names to the lottery for Big Sur.  She got in by lottery.  I had to fundraise $1200 to get in.  But I did it.  And I was looking forward to a gorgeous destination marathon.  It almost made up for missing Boston and NYC.

The marathon was today, April 30th.  But I’m not there.  A month ago, my amazingly special 15 year old son was diagnosed with Myoclonic Epilepsy.  A serious game changer.  For the whole family.   A week ago, despite medication, my son had another grand mal seizure right in front of me.  It was indescribable.  The terror and the pain of seeing him go through that almost broke me in a way nothing else has.  He wasn’t stable yet and there was no way I was going to the other end of the country even for a minute.  Bye bye Big Sur.

So I missed a few races, you say.  Who cares?  As people close to me know, my life has not been simple.  I’ve been knocked down - sometimes hard - but I’ve fought not just to keep afloat but to thrive and to help my children thrive.  I’ve fought to stay focused, positive and productive.  I’ve fought to keep my equilibrium and my natural joy for life in tact.  I’ve fought to protect and nurture my kids even when my reserves were dangerously low.  And through the challenges I’ve fought to build a business and help others.  And believe it or not, running has helped me do all of that.

Running is my alone time.  My space. My freedom.  Its when I fly.  Just me and my playlists.  And racing is an even greater high.  With all the ups and downs - from a tough divorce to blended families to losing my business partner a year into the mission and everything in between - running has helped calm and strengthen me to be able to push through.  Let stuff go.  And move forward.  But this last challenge has brought me to my knees.

Epilepsy.  My child.  I can’t control it.  I can’t predict it.  I can’t fix it.  I can’t just work harder or be more organized to keep my son safe.  I want to be by his side every second to protect him.  To help him.  But I can’t.  I can only pray.  And pray hard.  Something I haven’t done much of lately.  Maybe that’s what G-d wants.  Me to talk to Him.  To acknowledge that while my son’s illness is clearly in His hands, that really all the things that came before and will come after are in his hands also.  The ones I thought I could fix.   I guess G-d has my number and figured out how to get my attention for real.

So my run today wasn’t pretty.  I wished my son a good morning in school as he got on the bus, KT taped half my lower body, strapped on my knee support, and prayed.  Prayed that no calls from the school came.  Prayed that my body would hold up for the miles I wanted - needed for myself - to do.  It was an ego-busting 13 miles.  I followed coach Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method to get through the miles without exacerbating my injuries.  Humbling for me. But I got through it.  And it gave me strength.  And helped me to center myself.

And thank G-d, my son returned home safe and sound.  I don’t know what tomorrow or even the next minute will bring.  But I know that I will keep fighting.  And I know I’ll keep running.  It may be slow.  It may not be pretty.  But its mine.

 Life is hard.  But hold on to what gives you strength.  Do what brings you a little peace. A little joy.  Even if its not pretty.  Even if it doesn’t look exactly how it once did.  Its yours.  And for everything else, there is always prayer.   Peace, strength and love to all.

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