This memory is very clear. Even all these years later I remember this moment.
I smell bleach and soap. My grandmother is on her hands and knees scrubbing a stranger's floor. I am sitting cross-legged on the carpet in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. I watch her as she works her way from the stove towards the doorway. She moves her arm methodically in soapy circles. My grandmother is a housekeeper for several families. My mother is still in school but I'm still too young to go to school, so she takes me with her when she works.
I remember wondering why she was cleaning for someone else. Especially this very messy family (and as I realized later, very rich family.) I asked my grandmother "Why are you cleaning for someone else?"
"Because they need someone to look after them as I look after you," she said.
"But your knees are red and wrinkly."
"That's all right. There is no shame in hard work," my grandmother replied.
"I would hate this job," I told her.
"Well, I am lucky to have this job and so I dedicate every hour I work to The Virgin. She likes when people work hard." She smiled at me as she scrubbed.
For what it's worth, if The Virgin Mary ever had a best friend on this earth, it would be my grandmother. She dedicated her hard work, her joys, her best meals to The Virgin.
I thought about this conversation recently. I am in the middle of an adventure to get healthy and lose weight. So far? So far, I have lost 80 pounds since last fall. I am doing it by eating "clean" and walking/running.
I am not a fitness person. I never had PE in grammar school or high school. It wasn't offered. I don't know how to play any sports. I am about as klutzy as it gets. I once tripped over a cement panel when I was walking and broke my left arm right in half. But I saw the correlation between walking and losing weight and I knew that I didn't have a choice. Every step brought me closer to my goal.
So I started to walk. I walked down to the end of my street. Then I walked to the end of the cross street. Then I went a 1/2 mile, a mile, 2 miles, 3 miles and now 4 miles. I walk/run in the sun and the rain and the mist and the fog. I go out when I don't want to, when I have cramps or a headache or I'm feeling grouchy.
And on those days when I don't want to work out, I bitch to myself the entire way about how hard it is, how wet it is, how it's going to take me forever to lose weight.
Then it hit me.
My grandmother didn't love scrubbing floors or toilets or cleaning up after other people but she dedicated every job she went on to The Virgin Mary who was so important to her. It got her through the tough days.
This mile is for you.
Yesterday, I was in a bad mood for no important reason. I was just irritated by everything. It was gray and damp and I knew I had to go out for my workout. I procrastinated. I sent out emails. I made calls. I stared at my running shoes. I perused Facebook and I looked at the names of my friends and I thought "I am going to dedicate each mile I do to someone specific" and so I randomly chose 4 people, well randomly chose 3 plus my friend Andrea, whose best friend/dog, Sydney had just died. To her I would dedicate the mile with the hardest hills. I would send her all the love and positive energy that I could. I wanted her to feel loved and cared for.
I tied up my laces and headed out the door. As I started my running app I thought of the first person on my list. I wished her well and out loud I said "Mom, this mile is yours." Yes, I still listened to my Run, Taylor, Run playlist but as each mile turned into another I said a little prayer for each friend -- Ginger, then Andrea then Alison. Each step I took was offered to them.
Maybe this is selfish of me because it actually made my workout easier. Instead of bitching to myself "Ugh, this is soooo boring/hard!" I now think "(friend), you are having an AMAZING day! Feel this positive energy coming at you." It's almost as if they are walking alongside me. It's incredible.
__________________________________________________In February I crossed my very first finish line at Disney's Princess 1/2 Marathon weekend. I dedicated this 5k to my husband, L, for his unwavering belief that I could do it.
Maybe you're someone I went to high school with.
Maybe you are family.
Maybe you are a colleague I worked with in L.A.
Maybe you are a friend I haven't seen in years.
Maybe you are a neighbor.
Maybe I know you are going through something major and I am going to do everything I can to send love your way.
By dedicating miles and workouts to others, it keeps me honest. It keeps me going. It keeps me from spending too much time thinking about myself. I believe that every single mile that I walk, run, limp is sending out good karma into the universe. I imagine that my grandmother would be pleased as punch about this.
Do you want a mile dedicated to you? Email me at taylor at the happy girl dot me and I would be happy to run for you.