Thirty years living with type 1 diabetes.
It was a Tuesday. The morning filled up with requests and reach outs. My 'hour' to get in my run shortened quickly to 45 minutes at best. I had allowed enough reasons over the past few days, perhaps weeks, to justify not getting out, and today was not going to be one of those days. I committed, even if only a few miles. I desired to feel my body move, feel the sun on my face, and sweat (a fave next to sleeping under the stars). Sunny and 70 in Santa Barbara, even in December.
I parked at the beach a few miles from my house. Typically I run here, but today time constraints seemed to theme my day. I glanced at my glucose levels, understood trends - 150 mg/dL forward arrow, all right where I want for the next 45 minutes. AirPods are linked and working. I look at my watch...scroll, "outdoor run" 3, 2, 1. I was on the clock. While I navigate Spotify and hit the last played icon (Christmas), I jogged toward the beach.
Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas was NOT what the sun, sand, and sweat called for that morning. I craved something that matched the energy I felt from being outside. I searched and selected. Next, I hear:
Walk this way
You and me babe
It was a well-titled 80s tune for a person living with diabetes to start a run. Pour Some Sugar On Me for those who didn't match the lyrics. I arrived on the beach only to realize the tide was relatively high; little sand was visible. I hesitated for a second while realizing the usual handful of miles of my beach run were now mostly underwater, waves going in and out.
"Adventurous!" I thought. I turned up the music and continued my run.
I took off pretty fast for my not-so-trained current fitness. Each wave that doused my feet and calves pushed the smile further across my face. The speed intervals were timed with the outgoing water. It was playful, my stride, my leaps over kelp, chasing the water when I could. A few miles in, it became apparent the water depth was covering hazards. The ankle-twisting risk on the unexposed rocks gave me pause. A large flat rock about 6 inches tall provided a great place to stand while contemplating continuing or turning back. I stepped onto the rock, the song changed, and I heard, "Gunter gleiben glauchen globen". Next, the cowbell followed by Joe Elliot's, "Allllright.... I got something to say."
I instantly thought of COVID, how I miss spending time with my friends, gathering in groups, and finding all sorts of reasons to celebrate. It was as though an entire year (maybe two) of the energy I hold for dancing and freedom and who I was at the core began to let go.
"Gonna start a fire," he sings. "C'mon, rise up, gather round."
"Gather, did he just say gather?" I thought—the 4-letter word of 2020.
I liked this song and it's timing in my life more each second.
This year has been so severe and isolating. Just as hard rock ignites the teenager with energy and going against what their parents feel is right for them, as they figure out who they are, the year of COVID has gifted us the same. For the next 4 minutes and 13 seconds, I stood on that rock, owned it, sang, and danced my ass off to Def Leppard's Rock Of Ages.
The music, the sun, the sand, and the surf hit me again and again. A few waves came thigh-high, salt and sand were deposited everywhere on my body. I listened to the lyrics and saturated my soul in the moment. I felt terrific. Who I am, where I am, how I care for those I love, what I am doing with my life, and why I love to live were clear. There was nothing to understand, nothing to know, nothing to get done, nothing to feel other than incredible. The easiest way to describe it: I felt unfuckwithable.
Unfuckwithable: When you are genuinely at peace and in touch with yourself, nothing anyone says or does bothers you, and no negativity or drama can touch you. (Thank you Urban Dictionary)
There is no other word that so concisely describes what living three decades with diabetes has gifted me. It has been a process each of those thirty years, and I've had a tremendous time.
One of my dearest friends said to me in 2019, "Better to pray for peace than understanding because it may never make sense."
She wasn't referencing living with diabetes, but she could have been.
She wasn't predicting the impact of COVID19, but she could have.
As we approach closing out 2020, many people had the curtains of certainty pulled in our relationships, careers, health, and parenting. Perhaps we were relying on constructs of behavior to label our identity. When those behaviors changed, who we are was brought to the surface.
Perhaps COVID made each of us a bit more unfuckwithable.
It was effortless to be unfuckwithable standing on that rock yesterday. Finding alignment when I can and choosing to feel it as deeply as possible gives me grace. At the moment life lobs another circumstance that challenges my capacity and ability to manage; I trust in myself and feel the discomfort, knowing it only creates clarity once it passes, as it always does.
As a health coach, I work with my clients to become aware, appreciate, and align with their unfuckwithability. A minute into this song, Joe Elliot asks, "What do you want?" The clarity and conviction he expresses are infectious. I desire for my clients to gain this clarity with what they want in my work with them. May 2021 bring some of the same in your life.
Here is a link to the song, now go dance it OUT.
It was a lovely run.