I’m trying a YouTube thing…

“Run with Toots” – a new YouTube series featuring places you can park your semi and go for a run or walk!

So I’m new to the YouTube posting thing. I know, I’m super-behind the times. The reason I decided to take a stab at a YouTube series is because I wanted to share some of the places I like to run (or walk, or hike) while I’m driving over the road as a truck driver, and I thought sharing them with video would be a really nice way to actually show others where to park, how to get to the run/route and actually see a preview of what it looks like. My main rule is that anyone can park at these places and find these running spots — so they aren’t going to be at shippers/receivers, you won’t have to unhook and use personal conveyance (due to company policies, this isn’t an option for all of us), and you won’t need an Uber or public transportation to get there. You simply park your truck (at truck stops, rest areas, and sometimes things like ramps and pull-offs) and head to the trail. (Sidenote: there are several cool places you CAN run near shippers/receivers, using PC and/or Uber, so certainly don’t rule them out. But for the purpose of these videos, I’m sticking to that one main rule of using general public parking so we can all use these same spots no matter what.)

I found it very challenging to keep up with running when I started this career over six years ago (sheesh, time flies!), and I knew it would be tough. But I’ve since managed to find a few ways to stay motivated, and one in particular was simply finding good, safe, and fun places to go for runs. For my non-trucker friends, trust me when I say that this can be more challenging than you’d think. When you’re driving around in a car, you can pretty much pull off anywhere, drive anywhere, and park anywhere. And if you find yourself at a dead end, you just turn around. You can’t do all that when you’re in a truck. There are a lot of restrictions as to where we can and cannot drive and/or park. For example, there might be a really cool state park off of I-80 with some really sweet hiking trails that I drive by every week, but there is no truck access to the park or even nearby. It can be such a tease because I know I just have to pass them by with hearts in my eyes and, instead, run stupid circles around a rest area (my least favorite choice, but I’ve done it when I’ve been desperate for a running workout). But… that’s not always the case, either. Which is why I’m showing you these videos! Yay!

I’ve got a YouTube channel under my name, “Robin Grapa.” I seriously don’t know much at all about this stuff, so I’m just winging this to start and see where it takes me. I know that running and walking isn’t an activity of choice for a lot of truck drivers, so I’m not expecting this to go viral or anything nuts — I simply just wanted to help a fellow truckin’ runner out. There is actually quite a lot of us that are trying to stay active, and some of us that might stumble upon this wanting to start getting active, and I would LOVE it if this inspired someone to get out there and give these spots a shot for some exercise! (Another sidenote: check out the “truckin’ runners” facebook page if you haven’t yet. It’s another great resource!). Also, to be completely honest, I love sharing stuff like this for some selfish reasons. It feels like I’m talking y’all with me so I don’t feel alone (it can be a lonely job sometimes!), and it gives me a distraction from the actual running part, which is hard sometimes, so yup. It’s an excuse to stop running for a sec, take a little break and take video and a picture or two. Or twenty (I take a lot of photos. Just check out my Instagram!). Running is hard, breaks are good. Haha!

A random view from one of my recent runs that I still need to edit. This is in Ohio.

The series is going to be called “Run with Toots,” so you’ll see that the titles of these videos will start with a number (001, 002, etc) and then “Run with Toots,” followed by the city/park/trail name and state. For example, the first video is called 001: Run with Toots – Jasper, TN. In the video and the description I’ll mention where to park your truck and how to get to the trail and/or route that I’m featuring. And then you’ll see actual footage of what the trail looks like and sometimes a little adventure that might go with it (like seeing a wild armadillo in video 002! No kidding!).

I’ve got about 10 of these in the queue. I wanted to see if it was something I’d stick with before actually posting them publicly, and since I’ve kept at it, and have actually really been enjoying putting them together, here we are with video 001. I’m going to try to post one every couple of weeks or so until I run out, and then probably just post them as I create them. So you’ll notice in this first video from Jasper, TN that it was March when I filmed it. It doesn’t really matter, I figure, because either way you can still park at these places and explore these routes.

Also, I’d like to note that in addition to being a newb to the YouTube posting thing, I’m also not an expert editor by any means! These videos are all done using my Android phone. I take the videos on my phone. I take photos and edit them on the phone. I use a cheap video editing app on my phone to blend the videos and photos together. And then I use my phone to upload them to YouTube. So the quality isn’t going to be top-notch movie-quality stuff. And I’m okay with that. But I am looking for feedback for information you think would be helpful to add, or if I talk too much, or route suggestions that you’ve found that I should check out and maybe feature, or whatever. Otherwise, for now, it’s just going to be pretty raw like this. It’s pretty simple to put these together, and time is precious (you truckers know what I mean!!), so I’m going to try to keep it simple. But feedback is appreciated. Mostly… is this helpful? Do you think I should continue putting these together and posting them? Let me know! And please share if you’d like. I know there’s lots of facebook groups out there and social media outlets that I don’t know anything about because I’m in my early 40’s and not in the loop with some of them. So feel free to help me reach truckers who like to run if you know of a way I’m not using!

With that, here’s the first video. I hope you enjoy it and look forward to the next one. And I hope this helps someone feel motivated to get out for a run or walk or discover a new spot to enjoy on one of your breaks. Thanks for reading and following along!

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Tonight I love running. It’s my medicine.

Crawling back out of the darkness – another ramble.

“Everything that’s broke, leave it to the breeze.” -Let it Go/James Bay

I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll just start right here. I’m working on coming back from a bout of depression. Each time I think I’m looking toward light and feeling better, something seems to pull me back down. It’s not events, or words, or anything particular. It’s just depression. It’s what it does. I’ll feel so great one afternoon, and I’ll think, “thank God. I’m feeling SO much better!” And I’ll wake up the next morning and tears will roll down my cheeks and all I’ll want to do is roll over and go back to sleep. I can’t seem to pinpoint why. I mean, what the hell happened while I was sleeping!? And it’s really goddamn frustrating.

I’m not sure if something triggered it or what. But I think some truth just hit me and I let it hit. I think I usually skirt around truth, look at some clouds, go for a run, take some pictures and share them, or just find any distraction to feel okay. And it’s always worked. But every once in a while, it just doesn’t. This time in particular, I was having a pretty normal day, on a solo run at work, and I was sitting in traffic due to an accident or something a few miles up the road. I was in a really good mood, and I even did some Instagram stories about it, and then, feeling brave, I even shared those stories on Facebook, deciding, “why do I only share my stories to Instagram? I should share them cross-media, right?” So I did. I, probably like everyone else in this world, have a little bit of social media anxiety. I overthink everything I post, and generally end up keeping it light. Happy. Pictures. Pretty things. Happy. I might toss in a little something “real” once in a while, but usually it’s just to vent or share a frustration that I think might seem interesting (like being stuck in traffic or waiting a really long time at a shipper). It’s usually just something to do when I’m bored or frustrated. But I actively try to NOT post those kinds of things. Oh my God. Anyway. Back to where this depression punched me in the stomach.

So I shared some stories. And then I had this pick up at a meat plant (which was depressing for a few specific reasons that I didn’t realize until right now that may have affected me a little bit, too. Quick tangent – these reasons might be 1) a guy there told me they process 1100 cows every day. Ugh. Poor fucking cows. I enjoy meat, but I do try to eat local, grass-fed beef, at the very least, so that I can feel a little better thinking those cows were at least treated well. But it’s all gross. I saw a couple of small trailers of cows coming in and the guy even explained to me about how they get paid for every pound, hooves and all, as long as the cow can walk off the trailer. And then I made the mistake of asking. Yes, I did. I asked. “They sometimes can’t walk off the trailer on their own?” His response wasn’t a surprise, “Nope. Sometimes they have to pull them off with a Bobcat.” Fuck. Why did I even ask. Anyway, that was one thing that was making my stomach turn a little bit. Then 2) we were in the heat of the Black Lives Matter situation going on all over the country, and I am one of those ignorant white girls that really didn’t understand what white privilege¬† actually was, like, forever. And when George Floyd was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis and the world went crazy (rightfully so), I started seeing so many of my social media friends posting books that we should all read about race and white privilege and the state of our completely messed up system, and I finally downloaded a couple and started listening on Audible. It didn’t take long – I mean like AT ALL – to realize what white privilege meant. I came out of my mom’s vagina white, and so I have and will continue receiving certain benefits and treatments without having to work for them, without asking and most of the time not even REALIZE I’m receiving them. Unlike a child born out of its mother’s vagina with black skin. Our lives will be very much different, no matter what path we take in life. Even if that path was exactly the same. I’d have more benefits (big and small). And it’s not fair. Maybe we weren’t alive to start this mess, but we’re alive now, and so we should do something about it, right? Other human beings aren’t being treated fairly, and that sucks. And what IS my fault, is sitting idly by doing nothing. I have a lot of work to do and it’s overwhelming. But I have to start somewhere, and that’s with a few books and a lot of thinking. So whatever, it’s small and I still have no fucking clue just how much more there is to learn about race and racism, but my eyes started to bug out a little bit, I started to really feel uncomfortable (finally, I know!) and I feel horrible. So everything is a mess in this country and this world and I’m trying to work through some of that, but I am no where near being comfortable using my voice and I know that sucks, but I’m a coward, friends. I know it. But that’s where I’m at, and with that long-ass setup, while I was at that same meat-packing plant, waiting to get my trailer loaded, I sat in a break room after using the restroom and about 3 or 4 other guys were sitting in there bullshitting, and someone mentioned something about how they lost a bunch of Mexican workers because they weren’t legal, and then they hired a bunch of black kids and they didn’t work hard, and yes. The conversation went on like this. And I got really squirmy in my chair and didn’t know what to say, how to say it, or how to just leave. So I sat there and just tried to move the subject somewhere else, because again. Cowardace. I’m not there yet. I don’t have any idea how to say things. So yeah, those two things sunk into my bones while I was at this place, and I just now realized that these might have been seeds to my depression – just a small part of it that was feeding that ball in my stomach, unbeknownst to me, that was about to eject itself and kick me into submission. Clearly, this wasn’t THE thing that triggered my depression, but I’m sure it didn’t help.

Oh God. Again. So while at that meat-packing plant, I shared some stories because these people were being SO nice that it was overwhelming. In fact, they did so much for me and were so nice and so helpful, looking back, it kind of feels like maybe they were micromanaging me and I should’ve just said “no, thanks” to some of it, but I digress. I pulled into the place, and checked in. A yard jockey told me I could drop my trailer down by the wash bay and he would wash it out for me for no cost. Their procedure is to have the driver drop the trailer and they bring it around to the door and bring it back loaded and sealed, but this was above and beyond. So yeah, sure! I dropped it, he washed it out and brought it around back — to the “good door” that will load me faster. I guess the guys that load trailers from that door load quicker than the guys that load trailers from other doors. Whatever. Two other guys sat there and talked to me while they also waited for trailers to be loaded, and they were just fun. They were maybe in their 50’s? Early 60’s? And just talkers. One guy told me he had like 15 kids (all adopted) and something like 40 grandkids. The other guy met Elvis. So it was a fun way to wait, listening to these guys so animatedly tell their stories to me, a younger girl who just pulled in with a truck to pick up a load. I’m sure it was just as entertaining for them to have someone to share their stories with. And then the yard jockey guy, after bringing my trailer around to the back to be loaded, pulled up beside my truck and handed me a cold bottle of water. And when my trailer was done, he pulled it around and turned it around so it was facing the right direction so I could easily back right onto their scale. And then he helped me slide my tandems. They did so many things they didn’t have to do that I felt really well taken care of there. I was happy. I shared it on stories, and again, thought, “I should share this on Facebook stories, too, because why not?” So I did. I was feeling brave about it, and a little icky, because again, social media anxiety, but I just posted it and moved on. I mean, other people share all kinds of things on stories, I’m just sharing some happy stuff.

And then I screwed up a scheduling situation from work and with Adam. Here’s where I’m not going to go into too much detail because I don’t want to get into the weeds about where I’m sitting with work and with Adam. But anyway, I misunderstood a load assignment, thinking I was going to get home from my solo run and have a day off, then Adam would get back in the truck with me for our team run after he’s had his time off (really quick, we’re on a unique schedule where I run solo for a week, and then we run team together for two weeks, and repeat. It’s been really nice. Adam gets a break to work on himself and his life balance stuff and I get a week on the road by myself, which I found I enjoy – but I also enjoy teaming, so I get the best of both worlds). So anyway, when I was told the load in California was “for Monday,” it meant it delivered on Monday. I, for some reason, thought it meant leaving Monday. And normally, no big deal. We had plenty of time to make the run and get it there, but where I fell apart, was when I realized that it cut into Adam’s time off a day or two. I just felt like I dropped the ball and it affected his schedule and balance and whatever. And when I realized I had to call work and try to explain my blunder, I didn’t want to. I wanted Adam to just deal with it so I wouldn’t have to call work an explain how stupid I am. And then I realized I was choosing trying to keep work comfy over my husband. I began to spiral. But again, this wasn’t like a big event that threw me into a depression, I think it was just all a bunch of little things. This was just the top of the slide where I’d been sitting for a long time, and finally it just shoved me off.

They always say to find someone to talk to. Now listen, I am NOT suicidal. I want to make that clear, because I know talk of depression is touchy, and can be triggering and so on. But really. I’m okay that way. I’m just depressed. But back to “find someone to talk to.” I think when you’re not depressed, this sounds so easy. I’ve always turned completely reclusive when I sink into a depression. I don’t want to talk to anyone. ANYONE. Not my husband, not my family, not my friends… anyone. I want to figure it out on my own, go for a run, take some pretty pictures and post them on Instagram and move on. But sometimes that doesn’t work. And then I see the mountains in Utah and I cry. But this time I’m not crying because they’re so beautiful. It’s a different feeling behind the tears. It’s sad. It’s not because I can’t stop and play in them, either (yes, I admit to crying at the sight of mountains many a time for one of those two reasons). I don’t know how to explain it. It’s almost like I see those mountains, I know they’re beautiful, and I know I love to daydream about playing in them, but that joy doesn’t surface. I feel nothing. I know I normally have all these feelings with those scenes. And right then? Nothing. And so I cry. Depression sucks. This happened often after that. Sunrises. Running. A breeze. A happy post from a friend on Facebook. Everything leveled out to a low hum. A really low hum. And I just didn’t care.

Part of my reclusive behavior turned to social media. There is all kinds of yucky stuff out there that was making me sad and mad (politics, fucking Covid and people fighting over GODDAMN wearing masks, racism, etc., etc., etc.) But there was also all kinds of really good stuff, which the majority of my friends DO post about. Fun trips, pretty pictures, tiny adventures, accomplishments – you know the stuff! And again I just felt empty about it all. I cried. I mean, I bawled my eyes out as I removed Facebook and Instagram from my phone. I needed a break. When Adam asked if I needed something I said no. When friends reached out and asked if I was okay I said yup and redirected the conversations. I turned everyone away and sunk into my darkness alone. And oh fucking lord is it lonely. And it does not help. Yes. I should’ve talked to someone. But it’s really hard to talk to someone. Because what I need to talk about is things I do not like about my life, and these are all my fault, and I don’t have any control over any of them, even though I should, and I just can’t seem to get my shit together, even though I’ve always plastered shit all over my social media that makes it appear like I have this glorious, perfect life with all this adventure and I see all these cool things and everything is wonderful and I totally have all of my shit together.

I’m a fraud.

This is a thought that keeps popping up throughout all of this crap. Behind all the flowers and trails and runs and adventures, just like so many, I’m unraveled. I’m a mess. I’ve always managed to distract myself from it with all these things, but sometimes it just doesn’t hold any more. I’ve visualized it in a few ways – and it’s silly, but one of them was me floating in a pond or a lake or even a bathtub. All my problems and shit I hate about myself and the things that make me feel so unhappy that I’m afraid to talk about or bring up are rubber duckies. And I’m floating there, holding them all underwater. And I’ve got a smile on my face, and I’m doing a really good job holding them all down underneath the surface of the water. Every once in a while one will pop up and out of the water, and I’ll panic for a second, and then I’ll quickly push it back underwater and the smile will return to my face. And then I just get tired and all the fucking rubber duckies just start popping out of the water and floating around me and I lay there, lifeless and defeated.

My social media has always been a highlight reel. I think of it almost like a journal. A happy journal. One where I share the good things. The pretty things. And I actually found through this depression that I really enjoy doing that, and that’s the actual reason I do it. It’s actually one of the things I was missing. One of the things I was still feeling feelings for. While going on runs, walks, adventures, work, whatever – I find things to take pictures of for any reason – ugly, pretty, interesting, weird, funny – and then I play with them in some sort of editing app and post them. My friends out there seem to enjoy it, too, and that makes it even more fun to share them. I feel like maybe this thing I enjoy doing is bringing a tiny bit of joy to someone else – even if it’s just a quick, “Ooh, pretty flower,” as they’re scrolling through their feed. I just want to make someone happy. Including me. And sharing all those photos does that. So that is one thing I’ve decided I’m going to keep doing. As soon as I feel like taking more photos (depression is so evil…). I’ve taken a few, and I’ve edited them, but I have not posted them, and as soon as I feel ready to get back into social media, I’ll post them. But I’m not quite ready yet. I’ve tried to get on a few times to test the waters and my stomach knots. And part of that is I don’t want any attention from my blackout. I didn’t stop visiting because I wanted people to say something. I just couldn’t. I just needed a break. And now it’s really freaking awkward trying to dip my toes back in. Do I just go back to normal? Will I be able to even let myself do that? Do I want to? I don’t know where I am with that.

Also, here. This blog. For so long, I’ve been wanting to get back into writing, but life got busy when Adam started driving again. That’s a whole blog post in itself. We eventually wanted to get back into the truck together again at some point way down the road, but that got fast-tracked when Covid hit because Adam had a plan to start looking for something with more hours and people were getting laid off everywhere. Everything was shutting down, businesses and schools were closing. Where the hell was he going to find a new job in that environment? So he jumped in the truck with me again on a limited basis, which is still full-time because trucking is crazy like that. Anyway. The truth is I fell away from writing even well before that. I never wrote up my 100-mile race report which hurts to think about. I mean, I wrote up every other race report leading up to that sucker. I trained my ass off. I built up to it for TWO years. And then I did it. And it was amazing. I mean, really amazing. And I never wrote up my race report. And now it’s so far back, I know I’ve forgotten the details I want to write about. I’m sad about this. SO, so sad. I know myself and my memory… I need to do these things right away. Sigh. I think I’ll still try to eventually write up an abbreviated version with what I can still remember, and hopefully I’ll have something before it hits the one-year anniversary of the run (which was in October last year). And maybe I can continue to write here about whatever. Because I enjoy it. I need to remember these things I enjoy and cling to them.

And… I still need to work on all the shit in the background and not ignore it and not keep it tucked away, and I’m trying. I’ve got Adam things to work on, I’ve got work things to work on, I’ve got dreams things to work on, I’ve got goal things to work on. I don’t have any idea where I want to go with any of it, or what I want out of any of it, but I need to work on it. I think I’m pretty unhappy right now, and I need to come up with some sort of plan that makes sense and doesn’t hurt too much. I’m thinking about online therapy – I’m also embarrassed that I haven’t even done therapy for any of this yet. I’m still procrastinating on that. The cost! EAP is free, but when can I schedule that!? Online therapy is where it’s gonna be at, but I just gotta dig into my pockets and pay for it. Again, ugh. So uncomfortable. I think I’m afraid I’m going to find out real things that I know are true that I haven’t let myself think or say and I don’t want to go there. Or maybe they’ll come up and the therapist will help me with solutions. And it’ll all be okay in the end.

So there it is. I just threw up a few of the things that have been going on in my life. If you’re a friend or family member that has reached out to me, and I’ve shushed you away or redirected you, I’m truly sorry. But thank you for trying. And I’m also sorry about my issues with social media – especially just disappearing for a while. I hoped nobody would notice, or if they did, not say anything and let me crawl into my hole and ignore everything around me for a while. I’ll get back there, it’s just going to take small steps, I think. Or maybe I will be feeling better one afternoon and just puke a bunch of stuff onto my happy journal/highlight reel and act like nothing ever happened. Because that’s the way I’d like for it to be. I hope I come across as genuine, because I really try to be. Just because I’m not sharing details of all the crappy stuff that happens in my life behind all the happy posts doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It just means that’s what I choose to limit in certain places. But I also need to reach out and talk. I just still don’t know how to do that. I still don’t know exactly what I need to work on (yes I do, everything), and I still don’t know exactly how to start. And I need therapy to learn how to communicate. With everyone. Especially myself.

I suppose I’m going to go now. I’m going to go to bed and get some sleep, glorious sleep, and get up and work. My goal for tomorrow is to call my parents because I’ve even stopped reaching out to them (which sucks so much on my part), and when they called me on my birthday I told them everything was fine even though I was having a pretty blah day and it actually kind of got worse as the day progressed, and then kind of ended nice, so just a roller-coaster day. And I know I’ve got like 100+ “happy birthday” posts on social media that I never saw. Maybe soon I’ll scroll through them. Or maybe I’ll just move on. I should probably just move on.

I will end on a happy note, because that’s what I do, and I can still do that. I WILL still do that. I really do like birthdays. I like them because they are an excuse to be selfish. For my birthday last year, I turned 40, and so I took a day for myself and ran a 40k, jumped into a lake to cool off and wash the dirt, sweat and grime off, and then ate a greasy burger and an ice cream cone, and then I devoured a chocolate cake like a 2-year old. It was one of my favorite birthdays so far. This year, I decided to sign up and run a virtual 50k (which was another mid-depression epiphany – I still enjoy this tough crap even when it’s not on social media), go for the swim and then eat the greasy burger and ice cream cone, but I skipped the cake. I’ll save that one for milestones, maybe. Anyway, Adam helped me with my 50k and it was one of the best days. And since then, I’ve had some really good days, some good moments, and a few times thought I was in the clear. I saw light. But then I’d wake up and feel sad. So it’s not over. I think when I feel sad is when I know deep down that I still have to work on the things that are bothering me instead of ignoring them. Instead of trying to keep the rubber duckies underwater, I need to let them float and try to make them good again or something. I don’t know, it’s a weird analogy and doesn’t completely work, but whatever. And posting this is a really big rubber ducky. And I’m very uncomfortable with it. And maybe I’m going to regret it, but I need to post it because I guess this is where I’m going to try to get myself back into some of my normal routines that make me happy. Writing and posting pictures. And sorry if this feels like a bomb. It kind of is, but I don’t know what the hell I’m doing in this life. I mean, do any of us? I’m just a regular girl out here doing regular stuff, and trying to keep moving forward. 100 years from now, what will be known of me? Nothin. So I gotta find a way to live it up now and be happy, because what else have we all got? And it’s all going to be okay. So thanks for reading. Thanks for letting me work some things out. Maybe I shouldn’t post this at all… but then what? I gotta start somewhere.

Just keep heading towards that horizon. Onward.

I truly enjoy seeing personalities in flowers. Oftentimes I can relate. We’re all just nature, doing nature things. Can it be so simple?

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Tonight I love the cuts on my feet from where my sandals chewed into my feet during what was probably the sweatiest 50k I’ve ever experienced. I love them because they remind me that I did something really hard, and that makes me feel alive and reminds me that I am strong. I got this.