Meeting Kristin Armstrong


IMG_2281“I don’t have to.  I want to.  I get to.  I get to wake up early and run….I get to make dinner for my children….The more I thought about what I get to do, the less I realized I had to do….if you stopped yourself every single time you were about to say I have to and changed it to I get to, it might change your entire experience.”  Kristin Armstrong, from the Mile Markers book.

If you’ve been following my blog, then you know that recently I got to meet my guru Kristin Armstrong (see post Katie and Kristin).  We met on March 7th, 2015.  Knowing that I won’t be able to capture what transpired and put it into words, I’ve had trepidation about this post.

Sometimes, when you have put someone on a pedestal or been so eagerly waiting for an event, what ensues ends up being a disappointment.  I almost didn’t want to meet her, because what if this person whose writing has inspired and transformed me ends up being someone else in real life; then I can’t keep looking forward to her weekly column like an unwrapped Christmas present that I know is going to be under the tree.

When my friend Katie first told me about the girlfriends retreat where Kristin would be a motivational speaker, I assumed that there would be 100 or so women hearing her give a talk.  Later, I found out that we’d be a small group, and I got excited at the possibility of having her sign my book and talking to her for just a couple of minutes.  What actually happened was that we were about a dozen women who met with her over 4 hours, and she did more than sign my book.  She ended up being that Christmas present that you don’t think you can possibly get, because Santa has to give gifts to lots of little kids, so you can’t possibly get the largest one on your list.

Without recounting all 4 hours and then sharing my thoughts for another 10 hours (which I could easily, happily do; so call me and we’ll meet over margaritas to do that), let me attempt to convey the highlights.  As an introduction, she asked us to go around and pick one word to describe ourselves.  As an example, she stated that she is a “translator.”  “I like to take something from my head and my heart and translate it so it has meaning to someone else, maybe through words.”

I had a little panic about what my word is.  Fortunately I was one of the last to go, and after hearing other people describe themselves as a “survivor” or a “connector”, I was able to say that I am a “validator.”  Both at work as a pediatrician listening to moms or as a girlfriend to my friends, I like to hear women out and make them feel validated.

From whether a mom choses to nurse or not, to whether she decides to admit her teen to a rehab center, a mother wants to be heard and authenticated that she is making the right decision for her child.  A woman, sister, wife, friend, wants to be able to speak freely and be heard; and I like to listen, connect, and reassure.  When I uttered the word “validator”, Kristin immediately wrote something down.  Was it the word “validator”, I don’t know; but seeing her write while I spoke made my already racing heart gallop.

Then I admitted to being a Kristin Armstrong “stalker”, but she didn’t seem too alarmed as she’d already been forewarned about me.

When Kristin chose to review her “I Get To” post quoted above, I felt like she was directly speaking to me.  That is a post that I read and re-read and memorized a couple of years ago; a quote that I put directly into action.

We had a little intermission, and I saw Kristin making her way over to me.  Despite me opening my big honest mouth, flailing my hands, and shrieking, “If you sit down next to me, I’m going to have a heart attack;” she sat right down next to me, grabbed on to my arms and gave me a squeeze, and looked me right in the eyes.

What ensued was a heart to heart, during which I divulged to her how exploring running and her writing simultaneously have impacted my life, including how it helped me finally start processing my aunt’s death (see post Come Undone), and how it made me shift my perspective completely about what I do in my everyday life.  My job of seeing 26+ patients a day in 15 minute increments while not falling behind and addressing all their concerns can be pretty tiring and stressful, and most days feels like running a marathon.  But I revealed to her that after reading her “I Get To” post, I changed my perspective from “I have to see a patient every 15 minutes to I get to validate a mother every 15 minutes,” and that has allowed me to keep going back to my daily marathon.

The reason that I was able to bear my soul in that heart to heart, is that she was intently looking me in the eyes the entire time; she was HEARING every word I said.  With her attention, she was validating the validator…the greatest gift that she could have given me.

And I have to say that for me, yes, running is an “I want to” and an “I get to”, but it is actually for the sake of my well-being and my family, also an “I have to.”

Thank you to the sincerely sweet Jessica Patay for organizing this retreat, and thank you again to my friend Katie, who when she saw Kristin approaching me, whispered, “you need to tell her.”

My signed Mile Markers book.

My signed Mile Markers book.

Kristin reading her gratitude statements from her personal journal to us.

Kristin reading her gratitude statements from her personal journal to us.

Freaking out! I'm 12 years old again.

Freaking out! I’m 12 years old again.

"Now let's take a picture together holding our wines so we look like we are best of friends."

“Now let’s take a picture together holding our wines so we look like we are best of friends.”

My two favorite blonds, Katie and Kristin

My two favorite blonds, Katie and Kristin

Really, we should just be BFF's.

Really, we should just be BFF’s.

About Paria

Runner, mother, pediatrician, blogger

25 comments on “Meeting Kristin Armstrong

  1. it is hard to describe how much fun we had planning, anticipating and then participating in this fun weekend away!! The pic of your jazz hands is THE BEST!!!

    • yes….I got overwhelmed trying to write down EVERYTHING and then just decided to focus on a couple of things! So glad you were there with me. There is a saying I keep seeing that says “A good friend knows all your stories….A best friend helped you write them.” And in some of the biggest defining weekends of my life (Malibu, San Fran, Austin), you have been there. xo

  2. Ahh! This is seriously so amazing and I’m so glad to hear she is just as wonderful in person (or even more wonderful) than she is in her writing. This sounds like the most perfect weekend. I’m sure you a fantastic validator and so many women out there are grateful for you on a daily basis.

      • I’ve had a little glitch in responding to comments and people not getting them, but I think I fixed it. So I just wanted to let you know I really appreciate every comment you give and having a fellow runner and Kristin appreciator enjoy my posts means a lot to me…and that thanks to you I did listen to Gretchen Rubin’s happier podcast on my run this morning and loved it.

    • Thank you Kate for your words. It means a lot to me to have a fellow runner and Kristin appreciator who doesn’t know me personally enjoy my posts…and your 5 year plan post has gotten me thinking and …I just downloaded Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcasts to listen to on some of my runs!

  3. Love this post from beginning to end!!! Reading your posts each week is like an unwrapped Christmas present for me!! Best part of my day and week!!! I’m always so excited when it pops in my inbox; sometimes I save it for the next day like saving a special piece of candy or treat. Feels like time spent together and with lots of your deep wisdom, love, and food for thought. I am so excited for you and your beautiful retreat with Katie to meet Kristin Armstrong with other women runners. Love your description of your marathon days at work where you give 150% as an important validator so many women who are mothers. Love the photos at the end….simply beautiful!!

    • Your comment just brought tears to my eyes. You are the ultimate validator!! Not just for me, but for everyone who knows you. Xo.

      • Awwwww reading your post on the train yesterday brought tears to my eyes 🙂 and now again 🙂

        This morning I felt so happy walking to work thinking of the healthy and liberating changes you have made in your life (while juggling so much) and also thinking of your selfless and enormous love in sharing your transformative journey with the world (even with complete strangers) in order to encourage others to embrace the same healthy changes! Thank you!!!

  4. I get to run a half because I have my health. I get to learn all of these internal medicine topics for the boards to help my patients. I get to wait 9.5 years for nightly happy hours. I get to have a stone cold fox and ass kicker for a friend. I like this P!

    • Your copy of Mile Markers has been ordered for you courtesy of me….thanks for commenting on my blog…and I’m so happy about all the things we get to do together:)

  5. I haven’t paid attention to when you publish a blog, but I look forward to it, and I get a little excited as I click on the link to read what else you have to say, what will you share, what can I take away from this, how do I share this with others, etc. I read this a couple of days ago, and have already started the “I get to”, and yes, the perspective shifts. I like it!

    I will admit that it’s been a couple of days, and I still have no word for me. What does that say about me? How much more time will I need?

    It’s probably for the best that I don’t live near you. I could easily become a Paria Hassouri “stalker”, but then again, that’s probably one of many reasons I had to be your friend so long ago, and then had to reconnect with you recently. Maybe it’s good that I just “stalk” you virtually. 🙂

    P.S. Too much to comment on this one to do it in FB.

    • I love that the post has gotten you thinking for a couple of days…and that you are putting I get to in practice. And I’m excited to have a “stalker.”

  6. The one word to describe me — this one really got my wheels going…. how can I be summed up in one word?? I am many things! 🙂

    I finally have it! I’ve had it for a few days, but I haven’t had the time to write. My word is “supporter”. Professionally as an IT Project Manager and as a Pilates instructor, and Personally, as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a “dog mom”, and most recently as a Yoga Teacher Trainee, I support a lot of people and furry creatures in my life. Most people tend to see me in a position to lead, to manage, to guide, to instruct. Now for the not-so-kind words – Bossy, Taskmaster… you get the point.

    However, I see myself in a supportive role always. I’m there so you can do what you need to do. And you’re there to support me so I can do what I need to do. It’s a balance act. Similar to what you wrote, the greatest gift someone can give me is support … for the “supporter”.

    • I love that this post got you thinking for over a week…and the greatest gift of supporting the supporter….maybe a part of all of us is what we seek from other people…so interesting !!!

      • What if the greatest gift anyone can give to someone is what that person gives to everyone else? Validating the validator, supporting the supporter… To receive what you give out into the world.

  7. AHHHH!!!! I’m so glad you sent this to me! I loved reading it and was so happy for you. What an amazing opportunity and this makes me love Kristen even more. Just amazing!!…it also makes me want to move to L.A. so you can be my boy’s pediatrician…

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