Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve made some crazy decisions in my life. I’m not afraid to put it out there and say that I’ve taken some leaps that probably caused for some serious local town gossip and questioning as to whether or not I knew what I was doing. The honest truth is that I never really knew what I was doing. I’ve made the majority of my decisions, or chosen my path based on an unexplainable “pull” of energy. I’ve never been one to sit and really calculate or analyze the risks of making a certain decision. I’ve always known, however that all decisions have consequences, both good and/or bad. My leaps usually come from the heart and not the head. I chalk it up to being born with a very active right side of the brain and a rather quiet left side. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve put myself in places and situations that have caused long periods of emotional angst. At one point, I totally lost touch with myself, my core and those things that made me Martha! The flip side of that period is that I was forced to get to know myself on a much deeper level than before I entered that space. I came out of it with a greater understanding of what was important in my life and have since based many of my choices on the number one importance; CONNECTION.
My intuition has always spoken loud enough to tell me when I was not feeling connected. I finally started listening. I listened as it spoke to me about connections concerning my friendships, partnerships, career path, how I chose to spend my time and who I spent it with. If I’m not feeling deeply connected to what I am doing or who I am spending time with, I chuck it out the window or make a change in my life to allow for connection. My life would feel empty without it.
I love my job of being a coach, however there’s more to what I do than just providing a training plan. If someone is looking for “just a plan” with all the whistles and bells of wattage and heart rate zones, they can go somewhere else. That’s not what coaching is to me. Sure, I provide all of that, but what really matters is the CONNECTION between myself and the people that I coach. We develop a relationship and grow together. We go through the rough spots and the high spots together. We talk things out, often diving into life outside of training and racing, which certainly affects how I create a plan that allows for balance. We work together in building the courage to take leaps outside of the comfort zones. Relationships take work and energy. Many coaches don’t care to get that messy. Creating a black and white plan is easier and perhaps more lucrative. To each his or her own is what I say to that.
I moved from my hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts to Ocean City, NJ a couple of years ago. It’s not the first time. I lived in New Jersey before (for about 4.5 years) and then moved back to Northampton. I needed to get back to my grounding place, my community, my family and all of the smells and sights of New England that I missed so much. I moved to Ocean City because my partner is from here and missed it very, very much (she moved to MA for me). We took the leap. My heart said to go for it. We have lovely home here, I can see the bay from my house, walk on the beach or jog on the boardwalk looking out at the ocean every single day. I’m gradually becoming connected to this community although most folks know that I miss Northampton, the Hilltown communities and the Valley like mad. It’s certainly not a secret. I miss the local coffee shops with the fresh baked goods. I miss driving by the community gardens. I miss cycling on the country roads and long ascents that take me along rushing rivers or falls. I miss the eclectic community. The good news is that I can visit often and get my fix.
With all this being said, I know that as long as I am feeling deeply connected to my partner I can live just about anywhere. The leap of moving to Ocean City has forced us to remember to connect with each other. I’ve become a better partner because of the move. I know when the line is slipping and am very sensitive to the signs. We all get busy, distracted and into our own separate routines. It takes some vulnerability to reach out and say “Hey, we need some time. We need to reel in and catch on to what’s most important in our lives.” Sometimes you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and put your hands in the dirt. It’s called feeling and connecting kids!
Speaking of putting your hands in the dirt – I planted my first garden bed a couple of months ago. I’ve always been slightly overwhelmed by the process but decided to take the leap. I did it all in one day! Now, I get up every morning, pour myself a cup of coffee and stroll out to my tiny garden bed to see how much it’s grown overnight. Today I had my first taste of the arugula that I planted. My taste buds danced with delight! Sounds like a line out of a food critique article, but it’s the truth. I once read that if you eat the food you’ve grown, you’ll feel more of a connection to that food. This is also the truth.
Listen, if you don’t take leaps, you aren’t living fully. They don’t have to be huge, life changing leaps. Planting a garden was not something I consider a massive leap, but the act of creating, planting and sustaining a garden was cause for a bit intimidation on my part. I leaped baby! Greater leaps can force us to face our fears and take us through or to difficult spaces in our lives. We are left alone to figure things out and really work hard to see the process through to the other side or to the next path (which can be totally awesome). The more you leap, the less scary change becomes in your life. Let’s face it, nothing ever stays the same. You should all know this by now. You have to learn to confront fears and move on. You must be open to being vulnerable to a multitude of feelings and sitting with them for a period of time. Taking leaps also mean PAYING ATTENTION to the greatest gift that they can provide – THE LESSON. I know people who avoid making difficult choices or taking leaps because they choose to stay in a “safe” but unhappy place. I don’t blame them. I get it and some situations are very complicated. However we really do all move on and get on with life. Sometimes changing your situation forces others around you to discover their true path of happiness. You create your own happiness or unhappiness, not others. You are the driver. If you know or feel like you are driving down the wrong road, if you feel a "pull," consider take a turn.