Three Goals

I went to the creative writing course at the VA today.  It’s not exactly a journaling. We have a topic we write about.  Some are more therapeutic topics than others.  Today’s topic was “three goals.”


I have no goals; none at all

Look inside to find the call.

When there is no focused life

Heart and soul are filled with strife

Finding hope in darkness lost 

Breaking free from chains’ high cost;

Maybe I will a path find

From fear’s chasm to faith sublime.

To grow my goal is to try

To revive what inside died

To hold to the future fast

To leave behind what has passed.


Goals come in all forms.  Mine are getting prepared to identity and strive after goals.  It’s funny: my goal is to have a goal.  

Hope or fear?

River in Missoula

Hope or fear? I have not run a marathon since my injury. Several of my past posts focused on the importance of running in my life and the particular challenge I find in running 26.2. My injury has caused fatigue, pain, and several physical reasons why I have not pursued this distance. Now, I wonder if there is also a psychological “block.”

Training for running a marathon takes determination, time, and commitment. In the later stages, long runs number 18-22 miles. Weekly mileage depends on the program but is generally over 50 miles, up to 70. I suppose if I am training to finish, I can ultimately run the race on fewer training miles. However, the marathon is a run that preparation is vital. Cutting training miles makes for a painful “wall” and last 5-10 miles. It also increases injury risk.
My fear is that I am not capable of the training or the race distance yet or ever. It’s not just having to “walk in” during a training run. It’s triggering a migraine 5 miles out and having to finish a workout in agony. I did that several times last year. This is not a good experience and not worth repeating. I also fear starting a marathon and having to “DNF” (Did Not Finish). Failure?

On the other hand, there’s hope. I have gained in stamina and strength through my workouts since the injury. I now can run 5 miles fairly easily, on days I do not work. I haven’t really challenged myself on longer distances since building back up, post-pneumonia. There is a difference between a half marathon and the full monty. A part of me wonders, if I managed to walk/run a half last year, why not a full this year? I can accept that walking may be a part of the plan.

Ultimately, for me, the marathon is symbolic of my TBI journey. The race is long, hard, and, at times, brutal. Sometimes, I just want to quit. I ask myself “why?” There are moments of hope in the race with the accomplishment of miles finished and aid stations encountered. At times, there are moments of peace and mindfulness, a feeling of rightness and joy. The major difference is that, unlike my TBI, a marathon ends. I experience the joy of crossing the finish line and the sense of accomplishment of getting the finisher’s medal. Then, the soreness and fatigue set into my muscles, teeth, and even hair. Two days later, the question… “When’s the next one?” No, I don’t want another TBI. Another difference.

Hope or fear? Can I chase hope and out run my fear this year? Or is the voice in my head telling me to wait the right one? Am I far enough along in recovery to manage to run that far?

Running… TBI… Life…


New Year- New Goals!/Deva.Arts


Deva.Arts is an extremely talented artist. You can see more of her drawings on her Facebook site:!/Deva.Arts

Today is New Year’s Day. This is the obligatory New Year post- resolutions. Change is difficult. However, I had the Universe decide to place change firmly in the middle of my life with no option to avoid or negotiate the terms. The change is called Traumatic Brain Injury. My accident was just over a year ago. In that year, I learned that change is inevitable. It is how I react to change that matters.

This morning started with Scout and I waking early and heading out to our favorite running spot, Bennington Lake. Following a peaceful run, my friend picked me up to go into TriCities. It is somehow appropriate that I got my survivor tattoo on New Year’s Day. The tattoo reflects hope and recovery. Each element of the tattoo represents part of my journey. The yellow rose represents hope and beauty with the thorns of pain and challenge. Green is the color of brain injury awareness. The celtic triquerta is symbolic of mind, body, spirit and Maiden, Mother, Crone. Finally, the butterfly is rebirth. In a sense, the “old” me died when I had the accident. I am a different person after the TBI. This is both a sad thing and a hopeful thing.

Hope and Recovery

Hope and Recovery

I have a few goals for the new year.
1. Continue to work on letting go of perfectionism. Trying to be perfect is holding back my development as a person and my spiritual development.
2. Run a half marathon.
3. Continue to work with mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness helps me stay in the moment and be more accepting of life.
4. Develop a deeper spiritual connection with the Goddess- work on my spirituality.
5. Play more with my ferrets. Everyone needs ferret fun. Bobby loves to play. I need to spend more time engaging with him. Last night, I saw him dangling from the side of Scout’s mouth. My heart leapt into my mouth. I snapped, “Scout!” He looked up at me with a hangdog expression, “get it off.” Bobby had attached himself to the side of Scout’s mouth and was dangling as Scout walked through the room. Scout was being so careful of the smaller animal that he was not trying to shake him off. I enjoy having the ferrets around. Their energy and antics make life much more enjoyable. I know I pay plenty of attention to them. But, I want to spend more time playing with them.



Motivation: 1a. The act or process of motivating. 
1b. The condition of being motivated. 
 2. a motivating force, stimulus, or influence.
Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary

I am known in my Army Reserve unit as a “PT Stud.”  This term is complimentary.  It is bestowed on Soliders who earn the respect of others through their physical stamina and abilities.  Following Physical Readiness Tests, Soldiers often ask how they can improve their scores on the three events (running, pushups, situps). 

“L.T.,  I wish I could run like you,” the Soldier comments. 

“You can’t run like me.  Like I can’t run like Deena Kastor.  We’re all individuals.  What do you really want to do?”

The Soldier looks at me like I’m crazy for a few moments, then thoughtfully replies, “I want to run faster.”

“Why?”  “To improve my PT score.”  “Why?” “To get promoted.”  “Is that all?” 

So, the conversation begins.  It may seem odd that my first response was a “put down.”   My purpose was to help the Soldier identify his goals.  He really didn’t want to run like me.  He wanted to run to the best of his abilities and get promoted.  As the conversation continued, he identified several other goals related to health, fitness, and his military career.   We refined two of the goals to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-targeted). 

Goals and motivation are closely related.   Without motivation, no goal will be achieved.  Without goals, motivation has no direction or purpose.

The following month, we met again to review his progress.   “How did the running plan work?” I asked.  “Not so good, L.T.  I just couldn’t get motivated to get up early to run.”   “Really?  No motivation?  Why not?”    The Soldier talked about work and school schedules, being tired, and life generally interfering with his goals.   “Sounds like excuses,” I comment.   At first, the Soldier was defensive, trying to explain why he couldn’t run.  “Hold on for a second.  I understand that getting up early is hard.  But, again… what’s your motivation?  How motivated are you?”  He stated, “I want to improve my run, pass the PT test, and get promoted.”  “Those are your goals.  What’s your motivation?” 

The Soldier was confusing goals with motivation.  Why is this a problem?  He knows what he wants: his struggle is breaking the inertia to work towards his goals.  Change takes effort.  Overcoming inertia and making change takes motivation.

Motivation comes from two sources: intrinsic and extrinsic.   Extrinsic motivation comes from outside the person.  When I was a child, I hated math.  Left to my own motivation, very little math homework was completed.  The extrinsic motivations were twofold: my parents and grades.  Completing my math homework was less painful than facing the consequences set by my parents for not completing it and getting a bad grade.  This is an important point.  Extrinsic motivation is only as effective as the person’s desire to avoid punishment or obtain the reward.  If it’s not important, if there’s no personal value, it won’t be as effective.  Intrinsic motivation comes from within the individual.  There are personal values, interests, and reasons why the goal is set.  When I run a marathon, the motivation to train comes from within myself.  I enjoy the activity and meeting the challenge.  I like the fitness I obtain through the training process.  I like how my body looks and feels.   I often experience a spiritual connection or resolve a problem while running.  Running is relaxing.  All these are motivators for me to run.  Intrinsic motivation is your personal desire; your personal reasons.  

Motivation is a verb and a noun.  Motivation leads to action.  Motivation is energy.  Motivation is being. 

Over time, the Soldier discovered what motivated him.  He started working on his goals and started to see progress.  And success became further motivation.

Motivation can be difficult to obtain.  It waxes and wanes with life events.   Frequently reflecting on goals and motivation can help keep you going.