Sunday, May 6, 2012

Observations

I have been reminded several times this weekend about how, even when we are not aware of it, people are watching us. People see the things we do. They see the way we treat others. People are paying attention and noticing, even when we don't know that they are.

When you live in a small town, chances are good that lots of people know who you are.

When you live in a small town and you have 12 kids and a multiracial family, chances are even better that lots of people know who you are.

When you live in a small town, you have 12 kids and a multiracial family, and your husband is loud, outgoing, funny, and liked by everyone, chances are super good that lots of people know who you are.

And when you live in a small town, you have 12 kids and a multiracial family, your husband is loud, outgoing, funny, and liked by everyone, and you run lots (and lots) of miles on the roads of the aforementioned small town, it is pretty much a given that lots of people know who you are.

When I first started running, I was overly aware at all the people that were seeing me. (Remember, I am a girl that is perfectly happy to fly below the radar!) When I ran past people's houses or businesses, or running super early or was out in the rain, snow or other extreme weather, I worried about what people would think. I worried about adding one more "layer" to the perceived craziness factor (which is already pretty high when you have 12 kids).

And then I got to the point where I just didn't care. I don't care who sees me running or what they think. I am running for me. I pay attention to the cars to make sure that I am safe, but I don't pay attention to who is driving the cars. Every once and a while I wave at someone who moves over or slows down for me, but I am not looking at drivers. (I would be like Miss America out there waving the whole run if I waved at everyone I know!) If being committed and dedicated to my running makes me "crazy", then so be it.

When people tell me that they see me running all the time I usually don't know what to say.

Random person - "I see you out there running all the time."

Me - "Yup. That's me. Running."

What else do you say? How's my form? :)

But once and a while someone will ask a question, say something nice, or will have a real conversation with me about running which is nice.

An older guy that lives here and has a business that I run past fairly often told me that he sees me running all the time and then added that I look like I am running "for something more" than just fitness. I told him what I was training for and my goal of qualifying for the Olympic trials in 2016 and he was very encouraging and said, "I knew it. I could tell you had big goals by the way you run." I never would have guessed he was someone who even noticed me, and I really appreciated his words and observation.

Then today at church I got a very sweet comment. A woman who I know, but not super well, came over to tell me that she loved watching me with my family because "it was obvious how much I loved them by how I looked at them and how I talked to them." She said I had love in my eyes and my smile. I had no idea that she had even been watching us or paying attention to my interactions (although when your family takes up an entire large pew at church you definitely draw attention). She also said that she could tell I was a woman of "great faith". I was definitely touched and humbled.

The best comments (and the most important to me) are the ones I get from Josh and the kids. They are the ones whose opinions matter the most.

I have learned through the years that even if it seems like your kids often aren't paying attention to what you do or say, that they definitely are. In fact, they don't miss a thing.

The kids often point out and talk about how much I "love Daddy", and it is important to me that they know that and see it by my actions. We were watching a movie the other night and getting settled in the front room and Marcus told me, "you can sit by Daddy because he is your favorite". Of course I also want the kids to know how much I love them, so when my Maggie recently told someone, "My mom LOVES being a mom" it made my heart soar.  And yes, I will admit that when teachers and friends in the schools tell me that the kids brag about my running to the staff and to their friends (even if they sometimes greatly exaggerate my placing, distances, and times!!!!!) it sure does make me smile.

This morning, while I was out on my run, Josh posted this on my Facebook wall, "You are at it again, training hard for another marathon. I should be used to this, but you continue to amaze me with your dedication and determination. I can't wait to watch you finish the Utah Valley Marathon. You are my inspiration and I love you." (Yeah, he really is that great). 

Three other random comments all in the last 24 hours -

- The waitress at dinner last night went on about how nice and well behaved the kids were several times.

- An older man at church (he has to be in his late 70's or early 80's and still runs!) came to find me and tell me that he read an article about what makes a good marathoner (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and that he just knew that I had all of it. :)

- And maybe the best of all - Josh's almost 95-year old grandmother, "Gramma Peggy" came up to see us yesterday with Josh's mom and sister. Her memory is fading quickly and she gets confused easily, but she loved being around the kids, and even cried with joy when she was reminded that they are all her great-grandkids. Before she left I was talking to her for a little while one on one, and then she gave me a great big hug and told me that I was a very good mom.

So yeah - just a lot of comments lately from different people that have reminded me that people out there - those very important in my life and those I barely know, are paying attention to my words and actions.

These reminders make me want to be better and to do better.

I hope that I can show by the the things I say and the things that I do
- that I am a happy, grateful, and loving person
- that I have a strong testimony, faith and love of my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
- that I am madly, passionately, forever and ever in love with Josh
- that I think being a mom is the greatest honor, joy, responsibility, and blessing (x12!)
- that I am very dedicated to the important people in my life
- that I truly care about others and want to make a difference in this world
- that I really love to run and am working hard to be good at it

Quotes! :)

"A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed." - Henrik Ibsen


"Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds." - George Eliot


"A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. " - Saint Basil


"We are what we repeatedly do." - Aristotle


"Words may show a man's wit but actions his meaning."- Benjamin Franklin

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." - Dalai Lama

20 comments:

On the Right Track said...

Ditto...You've left nothing unsaid here! Actions speak louder than words!

Michelle said...

Favorite post ever.....
Congratulations Erin. You are humble, inspirational and amazing. Thanks for sharing a piece of you with us!

Christy MyDirtRoadAnthem said...

Love this post, this is a happy post and you are amazing.

Annet and Kirk said...

I totally, totally agree with this post and it is beautifully written.

The one thing I would add though, is the power of the words spoken by the person who took the time and effort to make that comment and not feel silly about doing so or whatever. I think too often some people are afraid to say nice things or only when they have a reason too. The people you mentioned, like the business owner, didn't need to - but it obviously made you feel so great.

So we should all try harder to comment on and compliment other people's efforts! I know I def could do better in this area!

Gracie (Complicated Day) said...

Such a touching and true post. I know God sends people into our lives at just the right moment to remind us of His faithfulness. Just today I was talking to my sister in law, an aspiring author, who has been discouraged lately by rejection letters from editors. A woman at her church today reached out to tell her how she knew she'd be successful with patience and perseverance. It was just a timely encouragement for her.

It's lovely that your husband and kids support your running. That's not always the case! Some spouses are threatened or feel like time running is time away from family. You're blessed with a great guy...and I'm thankful for mine too. I tell him he shouldn't come to my races but he wakes up at the crack of dawn and is ready with the camera at the finish line! So cute.

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Beautiful...you live authentically in every aspect and that is something we all should strive to do. I know you know it, but you are very, very blessed and you are making the absolute most out of this life and are in turn blessing others with your example. Love you!

Stephanie Anne said...

Aww such a great post. It's nice when others recognize & applaud you for your efforts!!

L.A. Runner said...

It's stuff like that that makes you realize the world is not full of all bad/angry people. In fact, there are so many great and loving people out there. It's kind of like that with teaching. When you are down in the trenches, the kids driving you nuts, working your bones to death, and feeling unappreciated, you get a card or email from a child or parents telling you what you mean to them. Makes life worth living, huh?

Keep up the good work, Erin! Once again, proud to call you a Brooks Sister. I hope our paths can cross one day so that I can meet you. A hug will be in order.

robinbb said...

Smiles. :)

Yolanda said...

Precious beyond words

Adrienne said...

Even though 'not warranted', it's great to get a little boost of confidence when not expected. I know sometimes that's all it takes to turn a day or week around.

You're making such an impression by just being you!

And yes, we need to arrange a race sometime in the future to meet up:)

christa said...

Great post. I love that commment from your kiddo that "Dad is your favorite" :)

Julia said...

your posts are always amazing but lately i feel like every single one just speaks to me in the perfect way. thanks for sharing:) now i have some thinking and reflecting to do:)

mountainkait.com said...

As a teacher, people notice me around town (like in the grocery store in your sweat pant-awesome). I get that a lot about "I saw you running" or "I saw you decked out in your bike gear cruising." I have the same reply and thoughts as you-yup that was me. I had to laugh because it's true what you said-what am I suppose to say?

fancy nancy said...

Exactly what I needed to hear!!! Don't comments like that make your heart sing! Like you are doing what you need to to let God's light shine!

Mark Matthews said...

What an interesting post. Yes, as a father of a multi-racial family, I forget that folks are looking at me until I am out in public, since I don't even think twice about it at home. And as a runner, I get strange looks when I take a run break at a gas stations to buy water, sweaty and slimy, and the dude next to me gives me strange looks as he buys his cigarettes. And then there's the strange looks I get when I wear my calf sleeves with shorts out and about. I think it's the equivalent of black socks with shorts and sandals.

I think one of the best things we can give our children is to explore our own lives and potential as fully as possible, and you got that example shining bright.

Kortni said...

Your family is obviously blessed to have you as a mom and wife!

misszippy said...

And not that you need the reminder, but...all that adoration comes from somewhere--you're doing a lot right! Well done.

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Corey said...

All of these comments make me smile. It must be so nice to have people say those amazing things to you. This also reminds me how powerful the simplest comments can be...so it makes me want to tell people the nice thoughts that I have instead of keeping them to myself! Fantastic post!