Looking up to get over feeling down (LOOK UP, RUNNERS!)

Painting by Stephanie Weiss

Painting by Stephanie Weiss

When I started running, it was for one reason (the same reason I started any exercise routine, including yoga):


I hated running. 

I learned to love it. Gradually. I wrote about how that happened here.

My relationship with running continues to evolve. And it evolved again, without me realizing it.

I noticed a trend as I was looking through my iPhone photos the other day. So many sky pics — most of them taken while running. Did an Instagram hipster steal my phone?

Then on my run that evening, I kept catching myself looking up — gazing toward the sky. 

Is this a new habit? 

If it is, I dig it.

The sky is powerful. Our galaxy is enchantingly immense and it makes me feel insignificant — in a good way. Like the problems or stresses I'm carrying on my shoulders don't matter. Like there's something bigger than them, bigger than me, bigger than the trail I'm running on and bigger than my Kansas suburb. (Even bigger than a Texas suburb.) When I'm running and sky-gazing, this feeling of smallness is freeing. 

When I hated running, I felt large. My feet were two masses of lead that I struggled to hoist and I stared straight down at them with frustration. One foot in front of the other, I pushed myself to finish, hating every second. My problems didn't seem small, they seemed impossibly large. Poor, poor me. 

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
— Anais Nin

For a long time, I stopped running completely. It wasn't bringing me joy and it went against my "Follow the happy" motto. Until I gave it another shot, with a better attitude. Not a "MUST LOSE WEIGHT" attitude but rather a "Hey, this could be fun for me" attitude.

Somewhere during this running reunion I began looking up ... feeling light and free ... loving every moment. Now when I'm running, I have no sense of time — the world seems to stop at certain moments when I'm bathing in Momma Nature.

After realizing I have this new running habit, I've started looking at the sky more often in general. Not just while running, but any time I'm outside. 

I believe I have my friend Stephanie to thank for this wonderful new habit. I love her paintings, and they've made me especially intoxicated by the sky. (She has a Shop link on her Facebook page if you want one of these awesome pieces in your home.)

I'm sharing this because so many runners I encounter on the trails are doing what I used to — they're looking down. They don't smile when we pass each other. They might look at their watch ... but definitely not the sky. I imagine they too are hoisting up lead feet and counting down the miles to the finish line.

They're totally missing out; The sky is more beautiful than pavement and watches.

So here's my challenge for you:

Look up. While you're running or just on your way to your car in the parking lot. Take a moment to enjoy this incredible universe we live in. Soak in its vastness and let your problems feel small until they wither and drift away with the clouds. Sometimes the therapy we need isn't right under our nose, it's right above our head.