Runner's Footprints

Runner's Footprints

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Thoughts in the Desert

With many of our regular routines and experiences in the world on pause, many have found it difficult to create the healthy space to exhale, be inspired, and grow-- myself included. I spent four days in the desert alone with my dogs to take some time to breath and reflect, while we were on our way to pick up a delivery order of medications for my oldest pup, Max, with arthritis. I have been having extreme difficulty processing everything because I am finding myself at times angry, deeply saddened, perplexed, heartbroken and crying often on the inside and outside.

As human beings, we innately are created to be social animals; however, what this biologically means is we behaviorally crave touch. We need deep love. We need deep interaction. One act of love for primates is grooming; which is why parents love to care for their kids. It's a concentrated, act of love. What the age of technology and internet has brought is a vast great amount of advancements, global connectivity, and transfer speed of information. What we have lost in the interim is the deep connections that the human heart thrives on. When was the last time we wrote a long letter to someone we love? When was the last time we drew an extensive drawing or created a project for someone we care about to simply display the feelings we feel inside without words? How often did we really call loved ones on a regular basis and have long, deep conversations of: what are your dreams, what are your goals, how are you really feeling? It is ok to cry with me because I am crying too. This level of depth is what our souls crave and, unfortunately, with the inundation and speed of information, we are in the age of quick texts, group chats, less than 140 characters, thumb scrolling, etc. to capture and catch up on as much as we can. We watch movies / shows / concerts / games and often catch ourselves scrolling again on our phones to "optimize" our time or capture clips of video to share it on social. Imagine this was your last day on this planet: how would you truly like to experience it stripped away from mundane creations of distraction? Imagine this was the last day of a loved one: what would you tell them or would like to do for them?

In the four days in the desert, I read, listened to podcasts, watched a church service online, journaled, face-timed my family in Spain and Ecuador, took long walks alone with my pups, watched beautiful sunrises / sunsets, and hug the shit out of my dogs crying. I needed the emotional release. Upon return, I returned again to more bad news, but this time it was within my own family. Earlier this week, my maternal aunt age 48 in Guayaquil, widow and mother of two boys, was diagnosed with COVID19 and taken abruptly to the hospital without proper good bye from my cousins. Three days later, she was pronounced dead and died alone. My two cousins are now in quarantine and we have not been able to maintain contact yet. As of April 5th, Ecuador has now become the epicenter country hit hardest with the number of cases and deaths in entire South America. Ecuador has been on government enforced strict lockdown since 3.15.20. My family and I have been aiming to get regular updates from them. My aunt was 48. I hadn't seen her in years; how much I wish I just would have gone to Ecuador last year.

It does not perhaps hit home until you know someone who passes away, or much worse, it is within your own family. I share this with you because it hurts. It hurts what is happening around the world. It hurts to see so many still complain. This is our chance as a human being / as a species to rise, together. Instead of being angry, I am going to aim to be grateful and be proactive each day. We don't know when this will end, and I will be honest: it is going to be months and maybe until the rest of the year. What we know, scientists shared in January and I shared until I talked myself blue. There is no normal; this is our new normal and our opportunity to grow as a better human being from it. Some will, some will choose not, others will hurt beyond measure.

I share some tips and notes I took for myself in the desert in hopes that it can inspire you to take this time for some deep reflection. Deep action. Deep work. Write that long letter to yourself, to a loved one, take that long solo walk, take that long phone conversation and focus your energy in the right places. It is not only about time, but energy-- how are we investing our emotional, physical, and mental energy is more important than ever. We have this beautiful planet that was crying and now we are crying with it. This is our chance.

1. It shows you care about people.
2. It shows you don't think you're the queen / king of the universe.
3. It shows that you understand the order of the world. 
4. It's going to brighten your day.
5. It's going to brighten someone else's day. 

1. Too much info: forces our brain to focus on things we already know, find funny, has superficially changed, trending topics that are aligned with our beliefs, and see flaws in others than ones in ourselves. We aggressively filter. 
2. Not enough meaning: We tend to find quick stories first. Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps. Distractions then becomes a story filled with gaps lacking meaning.
3. Need to act fast: lest we lose our chance, we jump to conclusions or not well thought out actions. 
4. Not knowing what we should remember: we try to remember the important bits. These decisions inform our mental models of the world. 

1. What have I learned? 
2. What mistakes have I made? 
3. What do I need to avoid?
4. What do I want to focus on?
5. What am I grateful for? 

1. use best practices
2. measure and evaluate your progress weekly
3. get feedback
4. don't quit with failure
5. chuck your work uninterrupted

1. diversify your source of fulfillment
2. change your environment
3. journal everything
4. organized your closets / storage and donate
5. wave, smile, say thank you to everyone on the streets

1. Balance is between ready aim fire to "ready fire aim".
2. Automate as many things as possible.
3. Journey is greater than genesis.
4. You'll be happier if you love the journey more than the destination. Love the climb.
5. Your relationships will all change dramatically.  Adaptation and evolution is life.
6. The past is best used as a wellspring of gratitude. 
7. Procrastination is ok if it works.
8. Procrastination is a silent killer of your deepest dreams. 
9. You can be spontaneous even when you have plans. 
10. Money can buy a lot of things, but the most important thing it can buy is freedom: escaping the mental and physical rat race. 
11. The people that are holding you back mean well. 
12. Getting older isn't a bad thing. 
13. Happiness should be a central focus in marriage: the other person's happiness. 
14. Finding yourself is great, losing yourself is better. 
15. It's ok to fail at stuff. 
16. Be afraid of regret not failure. Take the calculated risk. 
17. How you manage your energy is more important than time.
18. Your health is your wealth.
19. EVERYONE knows something you don't. Have the humility to listen and you'll keep growing. 
20. Experimentation is the best way to get advice. 
21. Focus on the smallest changes that make the biggest difference -- PARETO principle 80/20 rule: 80%  of the results come from 20% of the causes.
22. Keep a journal. 
23. You are WINNING if you can be grateful, excited and focus on your journey, even in the tough times. Find mentors and coaches during this time for guidance.
24. Find meaning in your obstacles.
25. If you don't like the story you are telling yourself, tell yourself a different story.
26. Your weaknesses are your strengths. 
27. Separate how you spend your time from how you make money.
28. Have an attitude of gratitude. 
29. Only thing that goes up with age is maturity. Focus on your character and wisdom. 
30. Lessons aren't learned from lists. Get out there, experiment, and put things into practice. 

"Tough times create strong men. Strong men create great times. Great times create weak men." Lets rise as individuals and rise as a species. Thank you for reading and my deepest hope is as many of us remain healthy, safe, and love one another. 

Stay consistent. 
Stay growing.
Stay inspired. 


  1. Absolutely loved reading this sis! Thank you for the reminder and for sharing your heart with the world. I will apply your advice. I love you!

  2. Sending you so much love and strength during these times. Thank you for sharing this with us! ❤️

  3. I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss. Thank you for sharing this and allowing others to realize this pandemic can hit us personally and to love and care for those close to us.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Nadia. I've been thinking about you so much. I listen to NPR and when I hear about Ecuador, I think about you. I pray for you and your family. Thank you for this. I will write my letter. I will start my journal. You have been a blessing and I hope you can feel the warm hug I'm sending your way. Karla Alcaraz Gonzalez

  5. Dear Nadia. You are such a leader, even in pain, you lead and inspire. My heart goes out to you and your family, they are in my prayers. I have family in Colombia and Chile, and I worry about their health and access to proper care too. We need to try to stay connected as best as we can. My friend lost his mother in law today to the virus. I take care of my 90 yr old dad, so I worry constantly. The days that I can find an hour to get away mentally are the good days. Thank you for opening up with your feelings and your advice, I will try some of them. In the meantime, know that we are all in this together, you, me and everyone else, we are together in this. Take care of yourself, you are loved and VERY appreciated! Jim San-Martin

  6. hi Nadia,
    thank you for this beautifully written heartfelt prose. You write very well. My sincere condolences to you and your family, so sorry to hear about your aunt. Thank you- so glad we know each other- at least virtually for about 7+ years now! One day we need to meet! Be well.