Tag Archives: Martha Beck

Multigenerational Marathon Memories {guest post}

written by Kayce S. Hughlett

“The reason many of us feel we’ve “lost” our destinies is that we spend a lot of time putting on blinders.”   -Martha Beck

There is something magical and curious about ancestry and how it manifests itself throughout generations.  No matter how we think we can’t be like our parents, there often comes a time when we look in the mirror or hear something coming out of our mouths that rings of time gone by.

When I look at pictures and dig into childhood memories I notice that my sedentary grandmothers’ ways of being are a far cry from this woman who in middle age attempts ½ marathons and climbs rock walls.  As I recall my own mother flipping through a newspaper and floating through her days, it’s hard to see someone like me who reaches for her desire and loves life to the fullest.  Still, I know I have been shaped by those women who share my DNA and I wonder what I will pass along to my own children.

While I wasn’t prescient enough to ask the deep questions of my matriarchs while they were still living, I wonder what the “blinders” were that kept them from extolling the joy of life.  Poverty? Patriarchy? Peer pressure?  It’s hard for all of us to break away from societal guidelines and established patterns of being.  Hours shift into days that move to weeks, months and years until it’s labeled “too late.”  Somewhere along the way I have developed the belief that as long as we can breathe or form a thought in our head, there’s room for change, growth and abundant life.

I have a pet peeve about hearing people complain it’s too late – to change – to follow their dreams – to lose weight, etc.  Like I said, as long as you have breath and conscious thought, you can change.  Physical things may be harder to overcome (although not always impossible), but mentally we can still have control.  Our thoughts regulate our feelings that prompt our actions and ultimately either prove or disprove our original thoughts.  For example, if you tell yourself you could never complete a ½ marathon, you will most likely prove yourself true.  If, however, you change your mind slightly and begin to put one foot in front of the other, you may actually discover yourself completing that distance.

My own mother had early onset Alzheimer’s.  The signs began to show when I was a young bride and new mother.  She was 65.  She pretended like nothing was happening.  Not in a positive outlook way, but more like an ostrich with her head in the sand.  She slowly disintegrated and disappeared before our very eyes.  This tragedy cannot help but impact my siblings and me.  Each day we have a choice how we will choose to live and how we will share that with others.  We don’t know whether we will get Alzheimer’s or for that matter whether we’ll live to see another birthday, but my sister (who is 14 years older than I, and by default the matriarch of our family) has chosen to live her life to the fullest NOW.  No sedentary lifestyle for us.  No thank you!

She and I have become each other’s greatest cheerleaders.  We’ve coached each other through thick and thin (literally & figuratively).  At the age of 67, she emphatically decided she was sick of the myth that older women must succumb to the ravages of time.  Instead of consulting a plastic surgeon or quick fixes, she hired a life coach and began a remarkable process of transformation.  Her new mantra became “I’m building a better body.”  (In truth, she is building the “best” HER possible!)

As she began to build this authentic lifestyle, it became contagious.  The whole family started getting healthier.  When my sis completed her first 5K run (at 67), her daughter began training for triathlons.  I simultaneously discovered a passion for hot yoga and launched a new career.  The family gauntlet had been thrown down and a new standard of delightful, healthy and connected living manifested in our lives.

Last fall after Dianna (my sister) completed her 5K and was considering her next goal, I tossed out the idea of participating in the Seattle Rock n Roll ½ marathon. 

Months away it sounded like a great idea and so the two of us signed up.  Cheered on by my niece (47), I invited her to come from New York to join us.  The dominoes began to fall as she completed her registration and then added her two daughters (16 & 14) to the roster.  Only one female member of our two families remained, so with a little urging my 18-year-old daughter agreed to join us.

Well, lives get busy and race day arrived faster than we imagined.  Our training schedules were spotty and although we presented as a physically fit group, my niece proclaimed the night before the event, “This may be the dumbest thing we’ve ever done.”  Or… perhaps it was the best.


Kayce S. Hughlett is known as a soulful and spirited woman. In her roles as life coach, writer, and group speaker/facilitator, she invites us to playfully and fearlessly cross the thresholds toward authentic living.  Kayce’s work focuses on helping high-functioning, under-living people uncover & maintain personal delight & joy in life.  Her personal reflections can be found at Diamonds in the Sky with Lucy.  Learn more about her work at Diamonds in the Soul.



Yes, my mother-in-law lives with us. No, I’m not kidding!

“If you want to find your passion, know your life’s purpose, meet your soul mate, or feel intensely alive, don’t look toward the fun things that fit logically into the flow of an easy life. Ask yourself, “What am I running away from?” Whatever that thing is, turn around. Walk toward it. Face it and conquer it, or die trying. “—Martha Beck

This quote from Martha Beck takes me back to 2006-2007 when my husband and I were discussing the reasons why it would be beneficial for his mother to move in with us. Sure it sounded great…our then 8-year-old and our new baby would be able to spend more time with their paternal grandmother – who would no longer live in Minnesota. We wouldn’t have to worry about before and after school care for our daughter, and I wouldn’t need to stress about some stranger(s) caring for my newborn and IF they would (or would not) feed him breast milk. AND I didn’t have to stop working full-time.

I was thinking I may be able to have two kids, a traveling husband, a career, and some work/life balance. BONUS!  (Oh did I mention I was two months into my new job when I found out I was pregnant? Yeah, that’s a different post at a different time!)

This was a great and simple decision, yes? NO!

I kept thinking, “Is this the right thing to do? Am I STUPID? Will it work? OMG, my mother-in-law will see me, ALL THE TIME, in my natural state. Ugh..my feet are swollen and I feel FAT!”

At the time, this potential living arrangement didn’t seem logical, but it seemed super practical. I’d never lived with my mother-in-law. My husband is great and she raised him, sooooo…this couldn’t be all bad, right? I decided in March 2007, when my mother-in-law was in town visiting before the baby was born (May 2007), that I would just try this multigenerational living arrangement and not over-analyze.

For us, embracing the full nest, instead of suffering through the full nest syndrome, made complete sense.

I didn’t run away. I walked toward it and faced it. Our multigenerational living arrangement will be three years old in July 2010. Everyone is still alive and thriving!  Hallelujah!!

Could your in-laws live with you? Why or why not? Tell us the truth!