Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: The Force

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays is a time to remind ourselves that life isn’t really that bad. Right? I mean, you’re here, so that’s good. No matter what else is happening, my Obi-wan is always saying, “Hey, it beats the alternative” and so was born BTAT.

What better theme for BTAT, then, than The Force. If you don’t know what The Force is, please turn around and walk to your nearest computer and immediately watch the original three Star Wars movies. I’m talking the ones with Mark Hammill and Harrison Ford, not that other garbage. They are seriously awesome movies which you should watch in succession on a gloomy day or when you are sick. They rock.

Anywho, The Force can be used for good or for evil and is the most powerful weapon/tool in the whole Galaxy. The light saber doesn’t even come close to the power of The Force. The Force can move objects, choke people to death, make the impossible possible and otherwise overcome the powers of the Dark Side. And, as Obi-wan and Yoda are always telling Luke, The Force is strong with you.” Yoda has all kinds of words of wisdom regarding The Force.

The most powerful moment for me is after Yoda raises Luke’s jet out of the swamp using The Force:

Luke: “I don’t believe it.”

Yoda: “And that is why you fail.”

In my world, my Obi-wans (Mr. & Mrs.) are always telling me and my siblings that The Force is strong in our family.” And, yes, it is something we say to each other during times of trouble and when we need encouragement. We are corny, I know. But there’s truth to it. Because within our family structure, there is a Force, an energy and a determination to succeed and press on in seemingly impossible situations. So, yes, The Force is strong in our family. And we all have it.

And we all believe in it. And believe in it we must (little Yoda-speak for you there). When life seems impossible and there is only darkness, we have to believe that someday there will again be light. Faith, The Force, whatever you want to call it, it must be within us in order for our strength to overcome the Dark Side, to keep going.

Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” That is what The Force allows us to do, to keep going. You may think it cheesy for us to take something from a movie and actually incorporate it into our everyday lives but I gotta tell you, there’s truth to it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in eyes of my family members when they were sick with cancer. I’ve seen it in the eyes of my sister running a marathon, of my brother on the football field. I’ve seen it in times of trouble or sadness when there is suddenly one focus, one team and there is nothing we can’t do together. I’ve seen it in the fierce protectiveness we all have over each other when on of us is hurting or in need. It’s very strong and certainly a Force to be reckoned with.

The Force is strong in my family. And for that, I am grateful. And that’s what makes is Better Than the Alternative on this Tuesday. No matter where we go, no matter what we do, The Force is with us and within us and it will keep us going through our darkest times.

I hope you have The Force in some way or another. I hope you know the depths of your strength and can harness it when troubled times abound. It’s in you, you know. You just have to believe it, like Yoda says.

May The Force be with you, friends.

Now go out and run!

Better Than The Alternative Tuesdays: Bad Stuff

Welcome back! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful end-of-summer Labor Day weekend and are getting pumped up for the Fall race season, wherever you are. I, for one, am relieved that I made it through yet another New York City August without passing out from the intolerable heat and humidity. But that’s not our theme for today. Today’s Better Than The Alternative theme is Bad Stuff. You read that right. Bad Stuff is the reason why it’s better to be here than there.

Bad Stuff, like people getting sick, having the worst race of your life, losing a friend, failing a class, having to DNR a race, missing the train, getting sick yourself, anything bad that happens to babies or children, or simply having tremendously bad luck under difficult circumstances, happens. It just does. And it sucks.

Having experienced enough of this Bad Stuff in my life, I know that it has given me a gift in return. The gift to appreciate the moment and what I have. It’s a special gift that I know not everyone possesses.

I have a very large, very loud, very close family whom I love and who love me deeply. Whenever something happens, we pull closer together to support one another without missing a beat. Not everyone has that. When we lose someone, there are tears that always end with a party. When there’s Bad Stuff happening, none of us is ever alone. Maybe it’s just lucky we have a big family. Or maybe it’s that we are blessed to be as close as we are. Either way, with every trying time, we become more tightly knit together.

Bad Stuff in the form of bad races are the worst for me, at least physically. I had the worst race of my life in Jersey this year. I thought I wouldn’t finish. I was dizzy, sick, getting sick and so far away from the finish line and my husband that I couldn’t imagine I’d be able to get through the last 12 miles. But after that horrible race (and my victorious finish!), I have a newfound appreciation for when I feel awesome during a race. Or, at least, when I don’t have to stop 8 times at the POJ’s and get the dizzies. Even the ridiculous humidity at the Battle of Brooklyn didn’t stop me from celebrating my getting through the entire run without feeling yucky once! Yay!

Bad Stuff happens all the time. To good people, to everyone. No matter how horrible it is to go through the Bad Stuff, it has always taught me to respect the time that I have and to love the people I have in my life. So we endure it. We live through it. We fight through it. And we come out the other side different. Stronger. A little wiser. And we go on with that learned knowledge and newfound love for the good and we share it with the world.

If you are going through Bad Stuff, whatever it may be, please know that you are not alone and you are stronger than you think. You will come out the other side, we will all come out the other side, and we will be all the better for having gone through it. At least, that’s what I’ve experienced. So, I’m grateful for the Bad Stuff because, as cliché as it sounds, I have learned more from having gone through it than anything else in my life. And that’s why it’s better to be here rather than there; the good stuff is that much sweeter. And the good stuff (ahem, like baby nieces!!!) is GREAT.

So, friends, keep fighting the good fight. Now go out and run!

“If you’re going through hell, keep walking.” -Winston Churchill