Sunday, December 2, 2012

Don't Let Your Mind Ruin It

Awhile ago I read a piece in the New York Times about two amazing runners. They're 10 and 12 and have been placing ahead of many grown-ups in trail races. Often, they are the only under-eighteen competitors. Although there is some debate about whether they should be allowed to run these races (harkening back to old theories about whether women can run), that isn't what stuck with me about this article.

Right before the race their dad says, "don't let your mind ruin things for your body." As a runner, this really spoke to me. On any given day I find myself coming up with all sorts of reasons to stop running. These reasons aren't real. Oh, maybe there's a slight twinge in my foot or my hip, or maybe I'm pushing it a bit hard that day. But the real truth of the matter is that I don't always like to run unless it feels effortless. My mind triggers thoughts of all that I should be doing instead, minor aches and pains become harbingers of severe injury, and when I allow these thoughts purchase, my running actually suffers.

I think sobriety is like this too. Our minds really do ruin things for us. Instead of feeling grateful for all of the gifts we've received, we pick apart situations until they're untenable. We don't feel worthy of ourselves and we think of how nice it used to be to check out for a few hours. We forget the bad parts of our drinking and reminisce about the good parts. We remember the cool blast of a nice glass of white wine.

On Friday at the grocery store one of the employees came over to the cheese aisle and asked if I wanted to taste some wines. It was a shock and jolted me out of my careful search for sheep's milk cheese. I couldn't have been more surprised if he'd offered me cocaine. It was only after my initial reaction that I noticed the table set up with tasting wines. Suddenly it seemed benign, but at the same time I could physically taste that first sip. And I could easily remember a time when a quick shop for an evening's dinner might have turned into an early buzz. It was such an urgent feeling that I had to grab a Dr. Pepper and swig it right in the store - so urgent was the need to get the imaginary taste of the wine out of my mouth.

Our minds our powerful. They give us permission to soar and they take it away summarily, often without apparent provocation. At the moment, I'm working to remember this when I'm running and I'm hopeful that lessons learned on the road will transfer themselves to other situations in my life.

Who knew the grocery store wine pushers could be so dangerous? Take care out there and remember to reach for a Dr. Pepper.


  1. A wine tasting in a store just seems wrong to me. And I would have been right there with you...trying to get the imaginary taste out of my mouth before I was in too deep.

    1. I agree with you completely, but am afraid of sounding like a complete prude. I do know that I would have been THRILLED in my past life to have been able to get wine while grocery shopping. On the other hand, do normal drinkers even think about tasting wine while shopping? Probably not - they're thinking about driving home and getting dinner started. So is it just the alcoholics that benefit? In that case it doesn't seem prudish to think it's completely stupid.

      I'm with you though - I wish it wasn't so prevalent.

  2. I love what the runners' dad says to them, it has become today's mantra for me.. WOW I often cannot get out of my own way. I often hear a funny phrase in the rooms " my mind is a dangerous neighborhood and not a place I should go alone". I love that because it beckons me to ask for help when I am in a bad spot.
    What I know today is that my sobriety is contingent upon the DAILY MAINTENANCE of my spiritual condition. If I am right spiritually, there should be no where I cannot go, even when alcohol is present or being served. But my disease is cunning, baffling, powerful and Patient-- so I need to stay vigilant. Yeah, drink Dr. pepper.. or pray or do something. Just dont drink.

  3. I remember being so shocked to pass a wine tasting table while I was grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. The store was already packed, I was stressed, I wanted to be anywhere but there, and I know in my drinking days I would have just parked myself at that tasting table. Instead I mumbled obscenities, I gave my husband that "get me away from here quickly" look, and then I texted a couple sober friends, "Can you believe what I just saw? WTF?!"

    My mind can turn on a dime, I can relate so much to this post. Thanks Tara, it's nice to have you back. I'm glad you found your blogging mojo again! ~ Christy

  4. Solid life advice that could apply to most anything! And mmm, Dr. Pepper.


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