top of page

Temporary Setbacks

I’ve been in the Boston area since Sunday. Having never travelled to Massachusetts or even New England, I was beyond excited. I was able to spend time marveling over ancient cemeteries in historic downtown, hiking through Thoreau’s woods at Walden, and admiring the House of Seven Gables in Salem. I ate delicious dinners, enjoyed free continental breakfasts, and tried official New England clam chowder for the first time. I pulled myself away from school work and busyness and spent quality time with my family. Everything was perfect.

This afternoon, I will be flying out of Logan International Airport and returning home from this adventure, however before that could happen, we had a few sparing morning hours at the hotel. I had been counting our 10 plus mile walking days as work out enough the previous two days but decided that with this extra time, the availability of a free fitness center, and the unwillingness to return to the school grind, I would spend a short spit of time with the machines.

Still full from the continental breakfast and in the same shorts I’d been sleeping in for days, I walked into the empty fitness center—feeling a little guilty I wasn’t running outside on the chilly Autumn morning. I calmed these fears with the idea of, ‘it’s just a quick cardio workout and then you’re going to go write a blog before you go to the airport.’ I hopped on an elliptical, plugged my ears with Pandora radio (Jason Robert Brown edition), and was off.

Before I go any further, it should be noted that on April 20, 2014, I started to get very sick. That’s a blog I won’t write but for sake of understanding, I was unable to work out for over a year. And when I say “unable to work out” I mean it was even a struggle to walk up a flight of stairs without losing my head completely. Today is October 28th, 2015 and while I feel far from perfect health wise (not to mention how out of shape I still am), I know I have come miles from where I began.

I was clicking around the elliptical settings when I must have accidently landed on the “super-intense-hard-supreme-interval-hill-dissolve-you-to-a-sweaty-mess-in-minutes workout.”

And it was the best 35 minutes ever.

By the time I was stumbling off the equipment, I was drenched in sweat and a sense of accomplishment. I was getting there.


The other day, I wasn’t feeling very much like me. I was in one of those “I can’t do anything” funks and, having become exceptionally discouraged by numerous facets of living, was unsure of what I could do.

In the midst of the workout though, I was listening to a song (linked above) that I’ve listened to hundreds of times. I was singing along with gasped air because why not get a little lung work out in as well when you’re the only person in the gym. I was hearing the lines that I’ve heard hundreds of times before when one phrase stuck out to me as though it were bolded font against the lyrical lining of my mind.

Temporary setbacks.

I looked at the time screen charting my distance, time, resistance, incline, calories burned, heart rate, etc. and suddenly, I felt like me again.

There I was, an eager 12-year-old runner racing miles in her backyard, watching the times get faster each week, and celebrating with a bike ride when successful. There I was, an ambitious 17-year-old secretly working on a project in my bedroom, unable to share with anyone what would one day become The Smile Project. There I was, a determined 21-year-old not content to submit to a stationary life when maybe, just maybe, she could be healthy enough to run again.

Life is a series of temporary setbacks. And that’s not said to dispel hope—quite the opposite actually. Life is a series of temporary setbacks. Because everything is temporary.

Not being able to work out or even function sufficiently was absolutely unbearable. I’d never felt more helpless or dependent. This morning, I walked myself down to a weight room, had a killer workout, and went on with my day with a renewed sense of self-knowledge.

When I look back as far as I can remember in my life, there are plenty of setbacks, obstacles, things I really wish had never happened. But. They did. And now they’re over. And they are nothing more than temporary setbacks.

Will there be at least a thousand more in my lifetime? Probably. Most likely. Definitely. Yes. But there is some divine comfort is knowing that it’s only temporary…that, to be cliché, “this too shall pass.” And some day, even the most trying of circumstances will just be a hiccup on a much longer path. And some day, that reminder will come in the form of a sweaty workout in the fitness center of a Boston hotel.

Love always,


And for one more musical reference:

“Everything in life is only for now.”

--Avenue Q

bottom of page