I saw this post on Instagram today (Text with the photo by @yoga_girl: My mothers hand. My grandmothers hands. The foundation of us all. The reason that I am. Mormor. Mom of moms. Today is her birthday and today she took her last breath. I am so sad. So sad. The last thing I told her was I love you. Don’t worry. Everything is ok. We are all so happy and so safe. The last thing she told me was I love you. We are going to Aruba. Where is your mother. I love Dennis. I am wearing an orange dress to your wedding but I can’t find it. Promise you will come back. And I did. I came back. But all the times I saw her after that she didn’t speak. I sat there listening to the space between her breaths. Now there is just space. Jag älskar dig Morris.)
It made me cry. I don’t know yoga girl (Rachel Brathen). I started following her on Instagram because I loved her photos; I think she is vibrant and beautiful. I admire her for her spirit – I see a girl who is not afraid to live, knows what she wants and goes after it. But mostly I saw a girl who knows how to love. I felt her pain through her post. It made me cry. It made me think.
I used to be that girl. Full of love and life. Fearless. But somehow after 7 years of marriage and 2 kids, I lost that girl… I lost me.
I had always been fearless. Even as a little girl, I was the leader of my group of friends – much to the dismay of my friends’ parents. Growing up in Taiwan, I went to an elementary school in the mountains. We didn’t have school buses. To get to school, we had to either walk up a long, paved road or (literally) climb the side of the mountain. I rarely took the paved road. Everyday I made my friends take a different way to and from school… even got lost a few times. But I always managed to find the way home.
There’s not a time that I can remember where I took the easy way. I liked adventures. Moving to a new country and not speaking a word of English. No problem. After graduating college, I wanted to move to Washington, DC. I did it. Got a job, packed up my car, and moved into an apartment by myself. I wanted to audition for American Idol. I drove up and slept in the streets of New York City. I sang my heart out (even made it to the second round – story for another time). I wanted to buy a condo by myself, for my birthday. I did it. I worked hard, saved money for a year and signed the contract on my 24th birthday. I did these things even when I was told constantly, “you can’t do it.”
Not anymore. Now I live in fear and constant self-doubt.
I don’t know when exactly it happened. Maybe after hearing “you can’t do it” so many times from people who are supposed to believe in me… it sticks with you. Or maybe I forgot how to be brave. Now I just follow other women on Instagram and live vicariously. There are no risks when you live vicariously… except the biggest risk of all – not taking any risks.
My grandmother is getting older. My grandma raised me since I was a baby. She is still living in Taiwan, by herself, in the apartment that I grew up in. We talk on the phone occasionally, mostly small talk about the weather and what’s on TV. When we have the chance to video chat, she doesn’t say much, just stares lovingly at me through the screen of my computer.
I haven’t visited her in almost 10 years. Every year, I so want to see her. I think about going back to Taiwan to see her. And every year I talk myself out of it because i’m afraid. Traveling with a baby, for THAT far, it’s just too much… I don’t know if I can do it. It’s such a long flight. And now, five years later, with two kids…traveling with a preschooler and a baby… the broken record of fear plays over and over in my head. I have dug myself a little hole where I am comfortable and buried my head in it. I’m a coward.
This post by @yoga_girl made me cry. It made me think. The spirited, fearless girl that I admire from Instagram lost her grandmother. Yet I am too afraid to travel the distance to see mine. Is there irony in that? I don’t know.
People always ask me “why do you run?” My go-to answer: I run for my health and quality alone time. Truth is, I love running because it is the only time that I catch glimpses of my old fearless self. If that voice in my head says to me “you can’t run another mile,” I prove it wrong by running another mile, faster.
If life is a marathon, I have hit the mental wall at mile 20. It is time for me to refuel and push through. Today, I run to the fearless me. Today, I started planning my trip to Taiwan. I am going to say “I love you” to my grandmother in person, because I can.