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6/20/19: Take the Selfie.

*Coach MK speaks*

Listen, you can't put your business out on Facebook then tell everyone to mind their own business. Take a minute to appreciate, REALLY APPRECIATE the folks who are on Season 3 episode 5 of your bullshit. THAT IS LOVE.

*cue intro music*

Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.

*music ends*

Today’s mantra is: Take the Selfie.

Last weekend was the Leadville Heavy Half and Full Marathons in Leadville, CO. An out of town client stopped by my house on Thursday morning to discuss race strategy. I gave my usual spiel about how trail races are GORGEOUS and almost always go through areas you can only see on foot and can only see during the race itself so don't get so wrapped up in strategy and watching your feet trying to maximize speed and minimize tripping that you miss those beautiful views. She had never heard this before because she is elite and selfies don't really have a home in our usual pre-race talks.

My view is counter to common wisdom, and I am as unapologetic about that view as I am my unabashed admiration of and support for the Kardashians. I say- take the selfie. It's possible to do so without stopping the flow of traffic, without being an asshole and ruining the experience for others or God help me, DYING because omg yes that happens. I gave her 5 pointers, started a blog post on that topic, and ran to my yearly physical.

By the time you listen to this podcast, I will be back in the hospital with my husband, anxiously hoping that I only need surgery to remove the thing, the very rare thing, that both an ultrasound and MRI have now confirmed is growing aggressively on my right ovary. It's suspicious, that's an actual category of thing, and we aren't sure and won't be sure until this thing comes out, and I am told this has to come out NOW. Best case, I'm having surgery and spend 6 weeks in bed. Luckily, I have a lot of practice by this point and know EXACTLY what to do with 6 weeks in bed. I'm not allowing myself to think about the worst case. 

At this juncture, I can't help but think about legacy, how memories of us live on after our bodies give out, because you see we're not supposed to care about that, either. How vapid. How selfish. How very Kardashian of me. 

Dressing up in Mommy's Clothes

But is it really? I have 4 small children. They will want to know who their mom is. You know how I talk about the world before Garmin and runners are like OMG WHAAAAT THAT MAKES NO SENSE???? If there's no GPS data did it even happen?? Remember the world before FACEBOOK. Think about how AWKWARD IT IS when you meet someone and they tell you they don't use social media, when you interview someone for a job and they tell you they aren't on Linkedin

I"m 41 in August. Most of my life happened before cameras on phones were standard. there aren't many records of my life prior to 2006, the year I joined Facebook. Photos were a big deal back then- no one carried them in their purses, we needed a reason to show up anywhere with a camera, and you had to ask strangers to take photos of you against whatever backdrop you were visiting AND you wouldn't know for weeks if the photos were any good. Now, I take photos constantly and share them instantly. Sometimes well over 100 per day. the only time I'm in them are the family photos I force everyone to do twice per year, and selfies. 

I think back to all of the moments in my brain that I cannot capture and share with my kids to let them know who I was. I have only a handful of photos from my life prior to 2007, and none of them really capture ME, they capture a moment special enough to bring a camera to- the fertility festival in Tokyo in 2000 where, on the train I would meet the girl who would be my best friend for the next decade; my 25th birthday, doing what I did every day- drink too much with colleagues and clients; a party the cool kids threw AND INVITED ME TO (this was a big deal), right before I moved back to Hong Kong....and the handful of photos that exist after that are of me with someone i loved very deeply and very briefly (sorry, those are private). Then I joined Facebook and the rest is very public history.

People like to say that social media is a lie, that people go there to pretend their lives are perfect. My view is less cynical and is formed by 20 years of therapy- I know that my reaction to my social media feed says more about me than it does about the people posting photos. At best, social media is an amplifier of both good emotions and bad. The photos that exist of me prior to Facebook are far less complete- the story you'd likely concoct about my relationship with the people smiling at the camera would be nothing more than the story you wanted to hear. It would definitely not be the story I'd want to tell my kids. There are no photos of me with dyed red hair and thin, too-tweezed eyebrows working 40+ hours per week as an undergrad at Georgetown. There are no photos of me running. No photos of the people I ran with. No photos that would tell you anything about me, about my life, about the choices I faced, about the options I felt were available to me.

Maybe these thoughts are too deep. Maybe you don't want to hear about all the photos I took this weekend, all the selfies, all the smiles- in case this was the last normal weekend we would ever enjoy. Maybe you're here for your usual dose of optimism and courage, so let's pivot to THAT since one legacy I will be able to leave for my kids is this podcast, a daily dose of genuine concern, empathy and compassion that crafts courage from uncertainty for those who seek it.

So, the Mantra: in those moments special enough to train for, those moments special enough to show up for, those boring moments that add up to be your day, to be the things you do, to be the things you love doing- hear my voice in the back of your head saying TAKE THE SELFIE. Hell, you don't even need a reason, ask yourself, "do I have a photo of ME doing this?" Someone will want to see it. Because you MATTER. It is the opposite of selfish and vain to share yourself with the people who care about you. These days, it's odd NOT to have a camera, so why in the world wouldn't you use it on yourself? 

As I sit here in limbo, cancelling appointments and putting memberships on hold because I'm definitely having surgery and the earliest I will be back to my routine is September 1, I can't stop thinking about all the things I wish I had photos of, of not just the places I've been but photos of ME in the places I've been. I guess you could say, the only regrets I have are the times I didn't say FUCK OFF....and the selfies I didn't take. 

*cue outro music*

You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!

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