Grace as: Winter’s Skin

The air sinks its teeth into my cheeks the moment I step outside. Clouds are skating across a slick white sky, and the mud still smells faintly of snow. I don’t want to be out of doors. To be honest, I barely want to be out of bed. Some ancestral instinct in me beats to the tune of hibernating bears, and I would sleep the winter away if I weren’t wrapped in skin instead of fur, if these lungs didn’t ache to be filled to capacity.

I’m only human though, and that’s why I find myself out in the live of winter, my feet shivering in a pair of RealFlexes. I need to remember how to breathe.

In the past, I’ve pounded my feet against the trail visualizing inches of my waistline trampled underneath. Other times, I’ve trained for shock factor, imagining how those who really know me would react if I could complete a 5K. (For reference.) I’ve chased endorphins and given up when life has crowded too close. I’ve run to blow off steam and run to spite myself and run to prove something and run to change everything, and only today am I running simply to feel alive.

Winter skin

There is no agenda except for this, the ice-tipped air driving dust out of my bronchioles and startling my circulatory system awake. My face tingles in its own personal sleet storm and then, as my feet find their rhythm and my heart shakes away the last vestiges of hibernation, begins to warm. I remember what I’ve learned about myself over the months on this very trail—how my natural reaction to exercise is panic, how I have to unclench my fingers one at a time and coax my lungs into exhaling with promise of unlimited refills. I remember how to let it all go every other step and trust that there will be enough for the one after.

I run until my lungs and my heart and my winter-flamed skin understand this as grace.

“and she’s glowing with her light
she’s glowing with her light
embracing her strength with her final bite
winter is winter is winter is


{I’ve always had trouble comprehending the word “grace” as it’s used by religion or defined by Webster, but something in me knows it’s integral to who I am and who I’m becoming. In this Grace as: series, I’m attempting to track it into the wild and record my peripheral glances of it, my brushes with the divine. Come along with me? You can follow along via Twitter, RSS, or my piping hot new Facebook page… and as always, I love hearing your thoughts in the comment section!}


Grace as: Glitter in the Floorboards

Grace as: Three-Week Smiles

Grace as: Permission to Celebrate

Grace as: Role Call

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  1. I can vaguely remember that rhythm, that flow. When suddenly you feel like you are in auto-pilot, and that you could run forever. I am so far away from that right now. Walking is exhausting. You may have inspired me to begin again. Just to get back there.

    Your photos are beautiful…both of them, the path, and of course, you.


  2. Dearest, I’m teary after reading this. “my natural reaction to exercise is panic”. Why? Why is that our natural reaction? How do we make it NOT our natural reaction. This I would like to know. 🙂 To understand. 🙂 I don’t want anything in my life to make me panic, especially things that always, always do me good. If you have any notions as to “why” – please let me know. 🙂

  3. I haven’t run in several years because it hurts my knees, but you make me want to try again. Always love your writing!

    I’ve been trying to get out for an early morning walk when I can these days…

  4. Megsie – I seem to remember you getting up before the sun to run — crazy inspiring for a couch potato like me! Running is the first thing that goes when life gets too busy though, so I completely understand where you are.

    Krista – You too? It’s such a strange reaction that I didn’t realize anyone else felt that too. I panic thinking that I can’t breathe (even though all I have to do is… you know, breathe) or that there isn’t enough air for me, and it wouldn’t be hard to link that to traumatic experiences from my past. I imagine that you’ve also had your share of experiences when there wasn’t enough space or freedom or oxygen to thrive. Big hugs, dearie.

    Willow – Good for you, especially with a little one in the house! Your post earlier this month about walks in Spain was so beautiful, and my introvert self completely got it. I treasure the quiet escape too.

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