Have you ever gone through a period of time when everything seems to change? Like, everything?
I’ve always fancied myself a gal adept at navigating life transitions. Lately, however, I’ve felt a seismic shift happening in the form of everyday, mundane challenges—the ones that aren’t by any means tragic, but you simply don’t see them coming. When you start to experience enough of them in rapid fire, over a few consecutive months, they begin to feel like a conspiracy.
It all started last summer. I was running, like I do, and my right ankle met a mean rock. A painful two-mile hobble back to my car and one trip to urgent care later, I was on crutches and in a boot. My driving leg incapacitated and physical activity at a sudden standstill, I was forced to do a few things that I had never learned to do before, like sit still, stay home, and ask for help.
It was miserable and demoralizing, but on the bright side, it confirmed my suspicion that I have really good friends who will do my grocery shopping and dog walking for me—and make sure the kitchen is fully stocked with necessities like coffee and wine. I may have been cranky, but I felt loved.
That ordeal was the launching pad for so many others. After months of physical therapy and rehab, I graduated from stationary bike riding to walking to one-minute jogs over the span of four months. By the time I had built up to a solid five consecutive minutes of running, it was just enough to sense the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Except, for the first time in seven years, I didn’t have a running coach sending me schedules, cheering me on, or pushing me forward. I felt lost and lonely. And slow and fat. Self esteem? Not at an all-time high.
Around that time, I got the phone call every journalist fears, yet on some level knows will eventually come—it’s the one when they tell you the company is shutting down the publication. Immediately. I was the senior editor at Running Times magazine (rest in peace), which afforded me the sweet lifestyle of residing in Flagstaff, owning a home, and blurring the line between work and play. I loved the audience, I loved the material—I loved the job. Too good to be true? Why yes, as it turns out, it was.
The news came in time for my trip home to Pennsylvania for the holidays. I was driving there, for reasons I can’t explain to those who harbor rational thought. And in another act of the irrational nature, I took in a stray puppy three days before I was leaving. I packed her up with the seven-year-old dog now stricken with anxiety and panic, and we headed 2,500-ish miles east. I arrived at my mother’s house four days later with a canine rodeo in tow, unemployed, and emotionally exhausted. Merry Christmas!
The following weeks were a frenzy of puppy housebreaking, contract negotiation, and absorbing the news that my mom needed help clearing out 40 or so years worth of accumulated stuff in my childhood home—so she could sell it. More wine, please.
I slept right through New Year’s Eve. Hello, 2016. Please be kind.
By the time I was heading back to Flagstaff with my grandmother’s china and my elementary school diary carefully packed in a few boxes wedged between the dogs, I had a new gig as a contributing editor at Runner’s World. I also had a brand-new passport, which is an entirely different tale for another day. And I found a new coach who graciously and patiently is guiding me toward the fitness Promised Land.
With those several key pieces finally settling into place, it is time to get down to business. As such, welcome to E. Strout Creations, where I hope to expand my base of work and use this blogging space as an outlet—a place to practice my craft and experiment with words. Gathering page views and clicks is not my objective here, which makes it a wildly exciting place for this writer to play.
With uncertainty also comes a sense of freedom to choose new directions, rearrange boundaries, and see where you end up. It might be in urgent care. Or maybe it’s somewhere better. Let’s find out. Thanks for joining me.