Finding Meaning…and Really Good Shoes

I would say that for the vast majority of my late 20s, I was infatuated with the Title 9 catalog. Not so much the clothes, but the lives it held–and okay fine, also the clothes. In case you haven’t seen the Title 9 catalog, this is what it looks like inside:

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 9.37.58 PM

Oh, Caitlin, you had me at “geyser.”

Picture 2My excitement over the Title-9-catalog lives had less to do with a strong desire to feed a longhorn or run trails across the desert. I did the desert trail-running thing in 2009, and believe me, it’s not as sassy as it looks in the catalog. It’s dirty, hot, and ripe with flies.

Dirty, hot, ... and awesome.

Dirty, hot, … and awesome.

My obsession with Title-9 lives was about their quality. They looked like 5-star lives, lives with both range and meaning. Range and meaning and really cool shoes. I felt like I was hanging out at Starbucks while these moms were changing the world in their awesome shoes.

It took me almost 10 years to change my life, but when I did it, I went for the jugular.


Run a marathon: check. Do it 10 more times: check.


Travel far and away and alone: check

My Ankle and My Spine

Get a tattoo: check


Write a book: check.

Screen shot 2011-03-13 at 8.56.21 PM

Live self-sufficiently: check.

Teach my son how to rock out: check.

Through it all I had the nagging feeling that I focused my energy on creating a gratifying life, but maybe not so much a satisfying life.  Range and meaning can come in many forms, and I found some of them, but I struggled with wanting to do work that is meaningful to those other than myself. Endurance sport has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, but my quest for a Boston-qualifying 3:39 doesn’t exactly do much for the common good.

Writing my book was a first step in pursuing work that would hopefully make a difference for other people, and I gave my first interview on that exact subject a few weeks ago if you want to read more about that. I am so gratified that it’s been well-received so far. It has only made me want to do more helpful work.

This year I found myself in a full-time job that enabled the self-sufficiency I wanted but left my days void of meaning. Oh, I could tell you stories about those days… but I can’t… yet. I wanted range and meaning. I worked my ass off to find the right position, one that would let me serve others in a meaningful way, a way that would improve the health and quality of life of disenfranchised people, or those just needing advocacy and help.

I applied to an MSW program and will start working towards that degree at BU this fall.

And I got the job. I  got the job! In a few weeks, I’ll be the Director of Research and Evaluation for Fishing Partnership Support Services, an amazing organization that facilitates access to health services for Mass commercial fishermen and their families. I am so excited and happy to be doing this work, and I haven’t even scored free oysters or started my trawler-to-5k program.

I feel like I wrote my Title 9 bio this year, the one with range and meaning. And naturally, I celebrated by buying really cool shoes. The only thing that’s left is my next tattoo.

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 10.15.36 PM

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2 responses

  1. I love that you wrote a book about running and pregnancy! There are so few resources out there and so little encouragement. I made it up as I went along both times.

    And Title 9…oh Title 9….

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