The Finish line of the Palmetto 200 Relay Race, ran in memory of Russell Hinson.
Have you ever done something so outside your box that when you’re done, you realize your box was entirely too small? That “something” has changed you and shaped you in a way you’ll never be able to go back to who you were before, the oversized you fitting into the too small box? I suspect we are all a bit oversized for our boxes, we just don’t realize it. Some of us haven’t seen the bulges and cracks the box suffers from our attempt to live comfortably inside of it. Our small boxes really want us to move the hell out, find a bigger space, move on to newer and bigger boxes but our eyes are still blinded by the comfort and safety we think the smaller box provides. We don’t see the cracks…. but God does. He knows how to move us out of those contraptions — and He will come up with the craziest of ways to show you how. I really think this is quiet fun for God. I think He has one helluva good time coming up with ways to teach us we are capable of so much more, that we are meant for very large boxes filled with extraordinary experiences and people. Making the Handoff between Leg #13 and #14
Up until last week, myself and a group of my workout buddies (really — they are so much more than that label. They are my dear friends. We have formed a bond that is hard to articulate and name. We know it is special. We call ourselves The Village)… so The Village had been training for the Palmetto 200 — a relay race that starts in Columbia, SC and ends 205 miles later in Charleston within a 24 hour timeframe. Each of our 12 member team had been assigned legs — 3 a piece — and we were divided into two Vans. The spreadsheet was set. Our individual paces calculated. Our expected times for completion totaled. Each of our legs were mapped from point A to point B, with details of elevation, difficulty, and distance. Then — one of our teammates’ husband died unexpectedly. She was out…. and then, so were we. We collectively agreed running the race was no longer an option when one of our Villagers was down. But then, she asked us not to cancel. She wanted us to run it without her. She had even orchestrated the details of her husband’s funeral to ensure we could attend and still run the race. From there, one of the Villagers coined the phrase: Running for Russell. That was it!! We knew we had to put our own sorrow aside and do this for our friend, Erin and her departed husband, Russell. We rallied to revamp our plan — a fellow Villager stepped up and agreed to run in her place. Other teammates took on longer miles to make other necessary adjustments. Another Villager baked us cookies and sent along encouraging notes in the bag. We made arrangements to finish the race and return home in time to attend Russell’s funeral. It all happened so fast, but our purpose had been renewed and it had a name: Running for Russell.
Heading into the race, none of us exactly knew what to expect as none of us had ever run a relay like this. This was most definitely going to push us outside of our boxes, push us beyond the comfort of what we knew to be normal. There were going to be long, formidable runs. There were going to be lonely, dark roads to cross. There were going to be sufferable hours without sleep. There were going to be moments that would require us to dig deep to move beyond our mental fears and physical pain. We all expected this. But the 33 hours that unfolded from the time Van #1 kicked off the event until our final runner crossed the finish line was nothing short of phenomenal. Actually, there are many words I’d use to describe the whole experience: emotional, beautiful, hard, hysterical, delirious, exhilarating, painful. Throughout those 205 miles were moments of encouragement and support, moments of laughter and silly fun, moments that rallied an entire van and reminded us all that our pain, our fears, and our shortcomings meant nothing. This was not about us — this was about a man who left this world too soon, and about the family he left behind. It was an undercurrent we could all feel — we felt its power and its levity. We turned our pain into prayers and our fears into motivation. Running for Russell became our mantra and it fueled us all the way to the end.
Wikipedia (a favorite resource of Russell’s)
explains a Village as this: A village
is a clustered human settlement
. I have a new definition — a Village is a group of people who grab your heart in their hand, look you square in the eye, and without saying a single word promise to be the “do-whatever-you-need-me-to-do-when-life-is-no-longer-pretty” kind of friend.
It was said at Russell’s service that he was always challenging others to good conversation, asking excellent questions that prompted one to give good thought to their answers. A curious fella who was in constant study of life — using a unique lens through which to view the world and live far outside his comfortable box.
It was also mentioned at his funeral the power of this Village. I could feel the hearts of every single Villager in attendance swell. This word has become so sacred to us. We are so much more than a clustered human settlement or community — we are bonded by more than just geographical location; we are bonded by life in all of its beauty and pain.
Russell’s death ended a long suffering battle with a disease that greatly limited his mobility. In particular, he was riddled with pain in his leg and could not walk without assistance. Because of Russell’s condition, he stayed mostly at home and, as a result, a good many of us who ran the race had never met him. It was Erin who our hearts poured out for — and it was probably more appropriate to say we were Running for Erin. Yet, clearly Russell played an even bigger role in our run…. for I believe it was Russell who ran for us
. Though I never met Russell, I imagined his legs running those miles, his smile as he crossed each check point, his heart pumping red, hot blood through his healthy veins, and his family cheering him on every step. It was his spirit that kept us going, that gave our legs their power, that quelled the fears in our minds, and that grew the love of our Village, and that will continue to inspire us far past the finish line. I think Russell is still running for us…. somewhere... and he’s challenging us to the conversation; asking us to examine the cracks and bulges of our small comfortable boxes and step out into the beautiful, bright unknown.
Russell Hinson leaves behind his beautiful wife, Erin, and their 3 children: 10-year old twins Charlie and Poppy, and 5-year old Mary Hazel. A donation site has been established to help offset the overwhelming financial burden of losing the man of the house, years of medical bills, and unexpected funeral costs. Even small donations will help the Hinson family as they resettle into their new life without Russell. Thank you for your prayers & consideration. Please visit this link to donate: Two Possums and a Bug
Photo credit: Pat Dalton... via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Mired in the muck. Stuck in a rut. Lost in a field. Where in the hell am I and where do I go from here?
I know it happens — time eventually rolls around and catches up with you. But I’ve been especially frazzled, unfocused, and off track for a while now. Does this ever happen to you? Rhetorical question because I know it happens to all of us — I am not alone!!
The point is: being this way does not allow for productivity and creativity — and it certainly does not allow for the LIGHT to shine. Running from one project to the next, leaving piles of work and chores undone, and going at warp speed without any signs of progress is just madness. So today, I sit down to write — and stop the madness.
Take this blog, for example. Where did the past 3 months go that I haven’t written one single word here? And now that I think about it, I haven’t taken notes in the millions of places I normally keep them on anything of late that has inspired me. I’m supposed to be witnessing a “Joy Journey” this year — and those moments are passing me by without even registering on my Ricter scale.
Friends — don't let this happen. Our lives are so busy and confusing, they can run over us like a freight train on a dark, cold night if we don’t wake up, stand up, and vow to be more intentional and do the things that bring us happiness and joy -- make them a priority in our lives.
Less is more.
Less commitments, more down time.
Less obligations, more freedom.
Less “to-do lists”, more time to BE something.
Women especially fall prey to these pitfalls because we inherently feel the need to take care of all the demands -- provide for the family, make people happy, make the kids a priority, do the dishes, fold the laundry, be a great friend, take care of aging parents, have meaningful sex with husband, be stylish not frumpy, squeeze in a workout, be a good neighbor, volunteer in the community, do all of this in 24 hours then repeat, repeat, repeat. Look -- I get it -- I know deep in our hearts we all desire to BE MORE and add more substance to our lives but the distractions we face today are insane: kids activities, household chores, work, social media, email. The dust bunnies that hop around your feet when you are trying to stay focused on a task are just daily reminders of all the little things you’ve swept away without really eliminating them. No one really expects us to do all of these things except... well, us! We are the creators of our own chaos.... but the good news is we can also be the conductors of change. I am stopping my madness in it’s tracks. Today, I am rewriting my gameplan and taking action on the things that are most important to me. I’m shutting off social media and silencing my notification “dings”. I am removing myself from the daily distractions so I can focus on the things that do indeed bring me joy. I want to soak them up. I want to be a witness to their power. I want to be a part of the movement that brings joy, light, and happiness to the world. I cannot do this if I am stuck in the middle of the SUCK (Stressed. Undone. Confused. Krazy)
Like the dawn of a fresh, new spring day, I am flinging open the doors to productivity and creativity - and welcoming in the smell of fresh ideas. My arms are open. My mind is clear. My eyes see the LIGHT. Photo by April Adams Pertuis @ www.lightbeamers.com
As I sit here, I look out my window and see the mountains, the very detail of their peaks and valleys, the shape and shade they create as they rise up and meet the Carolina blue sky. I see white puffy clouds in the distance, simulating little crowns on top of the mountains’ heads. I hear the birds chirping their songs, the hum of the ceiling fan in its constant cadence of rhythm, and even the ticking sound as my fingers stroke my laptop's keys. When was the last time you just sat and listened? When did you last silence yourself and the noise around you long enough to truly absorb all the beauty and goodness that surrounds you daily? Why don’t we all make this a daily practice? Maybe some of you do, as I know friends who are committed to their daily meditation practices. I am not this person — but I want to me. The idea of it thrills me and intrigues me. So, now, in this moment, I meditate and soak it all in. I close my eyes and just let the words type themselves onto the screen. Flow.
I am coming back, and I am bringing Joy and Light with me.