A new way

The November sky was a winter sky – painted every shade of gray with the wind’s brushstrokes leaving interesting patterns. The huge white stones in the pasture looked like sheep resting in field,  a scene from Ballykissangel. Three dogs pulled at their leashes, happily bouncing along the pasture trail.  But I was missing so much of it because I kept glancing at my Garmin.  My pace was too slow. I was frustrated as the dogs kept stopping  to sniff…or to pee…or listen for rabbits…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe struggle to control the run was overwhelming…and was just a reflection of how I try to control every aspect of my life.  This is what drowning might feel like. Fighting the current never helps. You have to let go and just float. I’ve never been a fan of floating – always afraid of that loss of control.  But the old ways aren’t working any longer so I need to find a new way.  I’m going float more and race less.

My knee is giving me problems again so my running is suffering. Instead of getting angry with my body, I’m allowing myself to run slowly or not run at all.  I’m allowing myself to walk when I need to.  And I’m leaving my Garmin watch at home. I’m not tracking pace or mileage. I’m just moving.  I’m not posting miles on MapMyRun and I don’t know if I’ll ever enter another race.

Shifting away from all these measures, scales, watches and clocks, I have to a chance to float freely…no guides, no maps, no public input. Just me.  I eat when I’m hungry. I run when I want to run.  I smile when I feel like smiling…and cry when I feel like crying. Floating along in my simple river…

This is my river…my beautiful, mossy, messy river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Creation Story

sunflower

My theory of reality/existence is based on personal experiences..on overwhelming feelings of oneness that changed me forever. Here is my take on…well…everything:

Once upon a time there was NOTHING except Supreme Love – God – Higher Power – Divine Beloved – the Creator – whatever you want to call Him/Her/It.  Since nothing else existed, this Creator had only its own “essence” to work with…and S/he exploded (BIG BANG) into fragments that became ALL THAT IS.

So every star, every planet, every piece of stardust is a piece of God. And to take it even farther…every being is a piece of God. Each cell is a piece of God…each atom.

In the Old Testament God is called I AM!  God ultimately IS…ALL THAT IS.

At the end of Yoga class, we use the phrase Namaste:  the divine in me sees the divine in you.

So here’s another thought that really blows my mind…99.999999% of each atom is empty space. So we are mostly empty space. We are empty space moving through empty space with a tiny fraction of matter… *note – this is not exactly accurate. See more information below if you’re interested.

What keeps us from merging into one another? Only electrostatic fields.  cactus

When I sit back under my Bodhi tree and contemplate all this, I start to see that we really are all connected. There is only a vagueness that separates me from you. Remember in psychology classes when we were taught that babies cannot distinguish between themselves and their environments…well, maybe babies are right.

What if there is such a thing as reincarnation but with a twist? We are EACH and EVERY being  – we are the killer and the one being killed, we are the mother and we are the child, we are the lover, the beloved, and the hater…we are the Democrat and the Republican, the Christian, the Jew, the Muslim, the Pagan…we are the calf that is slaughtered and butchered and we are the one consuming the flesh…

Our karma means living all sides of all actions.  Our hell is created by us for us.  BUT we are also our own heavens…Each act of love  actually affects every other being. When we feed a starving kitten, we nourish All Beings.

Cut and paste from Wiki:  *The space between atoms may not have much matter (other than a few electrons) but it is still affected by fields – wiki check quantum field theory – which fill the space and impact upon anything that enters the space! So, the 99.9999999% is not really empty in the ‘nothingness’ sense of ‘empty‘! 

What if we decide to call that other stuff…that 99.999999%….LOVE ENERGY? Isn’t that a cool idea!

This changes so much for me…just by concentrating on LIGHT and LOVE, I can change the world. I no longer have to fight…I can just love.  That sure takes the pressure off.

So we are all ALL…and we can each change the world because all that “empty” space is something…it’s the love, the energy, we each manifest and move through…we swim in, inhale and exhale…we are God floating in Love creating more Love.

Namaste

 

 

cuppysun

 

 

 

 

It’s all in your head

runningdogsyard

I haven’t been running. I haven’t been blogging.  I haven’t been doing much of anything. I injured my knee somewhere along the line and  gave up.  I could have stayed positive and rode my bike or rowed or …something…but no, I sat on my butt, mind filled with negativity, believing all was lost… and gained 20 lbs.

But even though I sound like the original Negative Nelly (no offense to Nellies everywhere) I believe that something positive can be gleaned from any experience and this knee thing is no exception.  I just finished six weeks of physical therapy and that was quite the learning experience.

Further along in the PT process we started working on balance. The first day of balance work, I was frustrated. I could not stand on that darn leg. So per the therapist’s instructions, I turned so I could hold onto the table if necessary. Well, suddenly I found perfect balance. I never had to touch the table. Just knowing it was there was enough for me.

cardinal1

So we control our bodies…..

Tossing and turning, unable to sleep, .I decided there was absolutely no reason my mind couldn’t make my body sleep. My mind controlled the most sophisticated bodily functions. Why couldn’t it just put me to sleep for a few hours? And boom…I was asleep. This doesn’t ALWAYS work, mind you, but I no longer take Benadryl nightly.

Then this weekend while running, I realized that I focused my right knee and it’s lack of function during these run/walk training sessions. So I focused on my left knee and it’s ability. I moved on to noticing the birds, the flowers, Cupcake’s wagging tail. And I ended up running the whole three miles without any walking  – longest and fastest solid run since surgery. And best of all, completely pain-free!

sparky

Sparky just hanging out.

It’s all in my head…

I believed I would fall, until I believed I was safe. I believed I would feel pain, until I just shut up about it.

So I’m going to focus on happy endings and possibilities and I’ll strap Negative Nelly to the railroad tracks.

 

 

“Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world,” he said wisely one day, “but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it. Perhaps the beginning is just to say nice things are going to happen until you make them happen. I am going to try and experiment.”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

road

 

 

 

Because Ordinary is Extra-ordinary

ellenDogs recognize the exceptional in everybody because they take the time to sniff them out.  Dogs don’t worry about your social standing, where you live or work, what kind of clothes you wear. They’re more concerned with who you REALLY ARE (or if you have treats in your pockets). Because I’ve been taking the time to sniff out the people around me, I’ve been blessed to meet some extra-ordinary folks

Today I’m going to introduce you to Ellen, a friend I met through running.  I wasn’t sure how to write this so I conducted an email interview. Her words are in bold, mine in italics.

Ellen is a runner, fitness fanatic, mother, wife, ex-cop…and what else…(as if that isn’t enough).  

So where to start on this interview. Of course, looking at your Facebook page, two things really jump out – your love for your children and your love of running.
I’m sure everybody reading will want to know “How does she do it?” But I think the answer is obvious “With love”
So let’s get started with you…

You were a law enforcement officer. Is that what started you on your fitness journey? What motivated you to join the force.

I guess I secretly wanted to be a police officer ever since I was a kid.  I loved the show Dragnet and then moved on to Hawaii Five-O because they always got the bad guy.  I was pretty focused, even as a young kid on trying to make the world a better place even if it was one bad guy at a time.  Of course, as I got older, the line between “bad guy and good guy” got blurrier and more obscure.  It was then that I learned of a thing called “situational ethics” (would you steal to feed your starving child?) and police work became more about social work based on personal morals.  I liked that well enough, but laws and personal perspectives sometimes clash.

Over the past…how many years…you’ve lost quite a bit of weight and gained quite a bit of fitness…
Tell me a little bit about that.

Well, the long and short of it is that I was always a jock in high school.  I was always a bit more athletic than most girls and competed mostly with boys.  I did medical missions for years through a non profit I started.  We brought 250 kids from 16 different third worlds countries to the USA for live-saving FREE medical care.  That is a tale all its own.  But while I was doing that, and traveling, I got lost somewhere and woke up with a whole lot of weight, which in turn, depressed me, which in turn, exacerbated into more weight gain and that cycle was born.  When I realized that I had 2 kids, both age 5 who needed me I decided I needed to get my health back.  Sooooo, 86 pounds later and a whole lot more healthier, here I am.  I am trying to learn to be a runner because running is the total package for me.

You’re a foster mother to quite a few children with special needs. That takes a special person. What made and your husband decide to dedicate yourselves to these children? (I did learn Ellen is not a “foster” but read on…)

I am a Mom to 2 bio adult boys, both with children (3 grand daughters between them) of their own. As they were growing up, I did foster care for “the system” for a while, but again, got quite dismayed with the real purpose behind foster care (it is a numbers game) and how little “services” were actually provided.  The pendulum swings from “you are a bad mother, let’s take your kids away because you feed them poor food” all the way to “ let’s put your 6 month old baby in a foster home for the 18th time and give you a break—oh and stop using drugs”.  In other words..you can half kill your kids and still not lose them or you can be poor and be penalized for it.  The system is broken.

Our ELEVEN adopted children are not foster children.  They know the joy of permanency.  I need to emphasize that because of our 11 children, SIX of them were adopted by other families who were unable to parent them.  They ALL came from third world nations where they knew poverty, abuse neglect and lived a constant state of never knowing what was next.  Permanency is a HUGE need for them. They are not foster children; they are all children who have a family and belong.

When people adopt children, there are challenges that not many talk about.  International kids can be a challenge not only for the obvious reasons (they don’t speak the language, they are accustomed to the food, smells, even skin color of their new family.  But they also can be a challenge because they had no say in the deal.  There they were…in an orphanage which is the only home they ever knew and suddenly they are a million mile away, in a new culture with strangers who expect the child to immediately love them.  These kids can be full of rage, sorrow and confusion.  It really can throw a family for a loop.  And usually, the mother is the target of that rage.  Running helps nullify some of that agony from watching your child grieve. 

I have 11 special needs kids.  I love, adore and am smitten with them.  They taught me more than any books, lectures or even ideas I have ever encountered.  But not everyone feels that way about my kids.  For school systems, they are a financial burden and we have struggled and fought with schools for services.  Advocacy is not always a popular position.  Educational advocacy can pit school against parent and I have to tell you, of all the tough things I have done in life, this is one of the toughest.  I know my kids need me to fight for what they rightfully deserve, but there is a certain vindictiveness that happens when you force big entities to do their job.  We have fallen victim to that vicious retaliation more than once.  Running helps me clear my head and turn my anger around.

So, if I were to tell you that I run to keep the weight off, that would be true.  But more so, I run to keep my head and heart balanced. The reason I hated running so much was that I KNEW I was fit, but I could not find that balance.  I could not defeat that inner voice of anger and contempt.  The real challenge of running for me, was learning how to be ok with not being my best or with feeling tired and waiting to quit and being ok knowing that some days are just like that. When I could give myself permission to just run and let my run be just that..a time to just “be”, I started liking running and now, it is the best medicine.  It took great friends and real support for me to get there and I am still shaky with it all. Always a work in progress but it teaches me the value of friendship, too!

My first race was a 10K.  I am proud of that but truthfully, I should have done a 5K.  I did a 10K because I wanted to prove that I could do more.  In a way, that is good.  But in a way, that was the EXACT barricade that I was facing with my running.  Needing to be the best without fail.  The 10K taught me that I could prevail, but it also taught me a bit about arrogance.  That is the dichotomy of running…it teaches you about your strengths, but it also flashes your weaknesses and lights them in bold marquee lights. Mostly, it teaches me about balance.  We all need balance.

Another thing I love about running is the “brotherhood”.  When I read yet one more story about how someone, without care and concern, stopped their own personal marathon to help a stranger meet their goal it lights my heart on fire with hope.  When I read stories about kids who can’t even walk, hoisting themselves over a finish line named courage and determination, what does THAT tell you about the human spirit?  When I read about a woman with stage 4 brain cancer, not only running her final marathon, but running it to make others aware of a cause, what does that sayleaf about self-sacrifice?  I have found the camaraderie of runners is unique, inspiring and universal. I love belonging to such a cohesive  community of hope  in times of worldly division and degradation.

Everybody!

Yesterday I was srobino blessed to be able to attend the Texas Conference for Women with a dear friend.  The caliber of speakers was impressive. The final keynotes were Patricia Arquette and Robin Roberts.  I even got to shake hands with Robin and have my photo taken. (I want to point out that, YES, she’s taller in the photo BUT I’m wearing flats and she was wearing heels- and some amazing heels they were!).

Robin shared the title of book “Everybody’s Got Something” was a “momma-ism.” When Robin would complain about some misfortune, pain or seeming affliction, her mother would tell her “Everybody’s got something.”  Her mother was a jewel box of pearls of wisdom.

How true!!!!!!! EVERYBODY HAS SOMETHING…and EVERYBODY has OVERCOME SOMETHING….and EVERYBODY is SOMETHING.

Meeting new women, I see that each woman has an amazing story to tell.  I started thinking of the women in my life and how each one has lived a life worthy of a novel. These stories deserve to be celebrated and shared. Most importantly, we can learn from each other and find inspiration.

SO……I’ve already talked to one friend and plan on talking to more. I want to do a something different with this blog…I want to share these stories of inspiration and achievement.

Don’t despair! It’s in keeping with my theme  – when I grow up, I want to be a dog.  Dogs meet new people and sniff then all over. They want to know every secret odor. Dogs dance with joy each time they see someone they love.  They understand how to celebrate each individual.

So I plan on sniffing my friends and sharing their unique scents.  I plan on celebrating each one with a Snoopy Dance of Joy and a blog post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And I still don’t get it . . .

DYING

Five miles in 102 degrees

Yep, I still haven’t learned. Remember all those blogs about learning to relax and not obsessing on goals. Remember how I was going to learn to love my own imperfection. Well, we’re still working on all that stuff.

I think I’m going to hold off on the whole 50K adventure this year. The training schedule has taken all the joy out of running.

This spring I ran a 10K trail run with a couple of friends. We just ran for the fun of it. We played in the water, stopped for snacks at the aid station and laughed so hard people thought we were delirious.  We were in no particular hurry and yet all three of us medaled in our age groups. Crazy, huh?

But goes to show that mellow is the way to flow.UPANDAWAY

I forget that…the part about flowing gently. I push myself too hard. I expect too much out of myself. And I end up exhausted and pissed off.

BUT I’m learning something…well, I’m learning a bunch of somethings…but primarily: life is already enough of a challenge without adding more obstacles.

As a matter of fact, there’s not a damn thing wrong with having no goals…and just FLOWING.

meandcupcake

Virtual 5K with Cupcake…that’s the way to run. No RACE.

I like trotting along the trails, preferably with a dog. That’s what makes me happy and makes me feel complete. So no races for a while.   As a matter of fact, this week I’ve only logged 14 miles. But they were fun, easy miles. And I feel renewed and relaxed.

AND I feel optimistic. There’s something really good not just right around the corner but in this moment.  But that’s another blog.

In other news, since my last blog I was asked to be a foster mommy for a puppy on death row. I learned the hard way that I’m a horrible foster. After two days I put in for adoption. So meet the latest family member: Winnie.

winniecatchingfrisbee WINNIE1

Slow is the only way to go

downthetunnelWisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast.  ~ William Shakespeare

 I was  born three weeks late and I’ve been in a hurry ever since.   I eat fast, talk fast, take short fast showers….and when I started running, I thought I had to run fast.

But running fast wasn’t just about my innate impatience. It also had a lot to do with a competitive spirit. (We’ve talked about that before)

Then I ran my second marathon at a nice, easy pace (because it was the only way I could) and I realized that slow was the way to go. Running is so much more enjoyable when you’re not breaking your neck and checking your watch.

I’ve been running with Cupcake Annie a lot more lately.  We’re not setting any PR’s.  But we get out to see the beauty of the morning. I carry my phone and snap photos along they way. We stop and sniff and investigate the world. Runs are adventures.

There is no real reason to hurry.

runningwithdogs

I will never go to the Olympics. I’ll never win a marathon. I’ll never break a 7 minute mile.  But if I run slow and do my thing, I’ll keep running for many more years…running long trails and taking photos.

 

 

“Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.” ~ Jimmy Buffett

dogsinflowers

I just wanna sit on the porch!

I’ve shared so much supposed “wisdom” on this blog.   I claimed to follow the Universe’s lead and listen to my Soul.  But here I am again: Overwhelmed and overwrought without enough time to make a phone call or post a blog.  How does this keep happening?

Today as I write this, I feel so out of balance. Sadness seems to have consumed me and I’m fighting it. Two years ago yesterday my nephew died. And next week it will be two years since my brother died. I’m thinking about death a lot. I’m afraid of losing  people I really love. I believe there is more after this life but I don’t “KNOW.”  I want to KNOW for SURE without any doubts. But I guess none of us have that.  Some folks claim to believe/know but that’s generally BS. Most of us (ALL?) faced with death will still be afraid.

Life is short. Too damn short. I want to squeeze so much into it…and squeeze so much out of it. I’m wringing the hell out life!  But it’s too much. . . . I’m trying too hard. Days are cluttered and I can’t really focus on the things that matter.

What really matters?   What are those shiny moments? What makes me happy?

When I think of HAPPY…

I think of my dogs… and cats…family…friends…running…laughing…food…

screechmeandlisa

 

 

 

runningwithdogsthree
family2friends

 

food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life is too short to be anything but happy. Love deeply, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything with no regrets and forget the past with exception of what you have learned and remember everything happens for a reason. (anonymous)

 

And do what YOU want to do…not what you think you SHOULD do or what you think others expect you to do. Say NO to those things that steal your energy. Say YES to the things that make your heart happy.

For now, I just want to sit on my porch and watch hummingbirds.anotherone

 

 

Stay OUT of my Peaceful Place

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

My mother-in-law had created a sanctuary in her backyard for birds, deer and all manner of creatures…except snakes. Snakes met some ugly fates.

“I don’t like your hair like that. It makes you look old.”         “Why would a grown woman dye her hair pink!?!”              “You really need to start going back to church. ”          “You really need to . . . (fill in the blank, the options seemed endless)”

The comments seemed to keep coming.  After a long day of criticism and unwanted advice, I ran by the grocery store for comfort food. The cashier was so rude I couldn’t decide if I should slap her face or cry.

I finally made it home and noticed my husband had made lunch and not cleaned up after himself. There were crumbs and smears of mayonnaise on the counter. The dishes were piled in the sink.  I went into the living to complain and found him soundly sleeping in his recliner, oblivious to the world and my complaints.

sky

Why stand in the storm when you go inside?

I needed to escape so I threw on my running clothes and headed down the road, but I couldn’t shake the ugliness inside of me. I was angry and hurt. The world wasn’t fair. My chest felt like it was holding back a flood of tears. My legs just hurt.  I thought my head would explode. I knew my blood pressure was getting higher and higher because my ears started ringing.

So what the hell is wrong with me???

I slowed down and focused on breathing.

#1 – Just because somebody has an opinion doesn’t mean it’s right! WOW! Sometimes I believe everybody has the right answers except me. For years I’ve listened my family members and people in positions of authority as though they held the secrets to the universe. Hey…maybe I hold the secret! At least I need to give myself a little more air time. I realize I can be wrong, but sometimes I can be right.

p9234475

You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

#2 – Why should somebody’s opinion affect me? Another person’s opinions and thoughts don’t have to mean anything to me unless I want them to.  Maybe I do look ridiculous with pink hair but I like it and at the end of the day, isn’t that really all that matters?

 

sleepycuppy

Even after getting into trouble, Cupcake isn’t the least bit bothered. She just takes a nap!

#3 – How important is it?  How important is it that hubby sleeps in his recliner? I get some tv time that way.  The dogs are acting crazy but do I have to get involved if nobody and nothing is being damaged? How often do I find myself stressed out by things that I could so easily ignore? Maybe I don’t “approve” of what somebody else is doing, but it doesn’t have to affect me…in the same way another person’s lack of approval doesn’t have to “harsh my mellow.”

and finally:   

#5 – MY LIFE! MY TIME! MY HAIR! What do “I” want? When I’m on my deathbed (hopefully a long time from now), what will I regret? What will make me smile?  If I quiet down just a bit, I can hear my soul whisper her desires and needs. I just have to listen. I choose to be happy today. I choose to be calm. I choose to stay in my peaceful place and you can only come in if I let you.

milk_weed_seed_pod

Peaceful scenes are all around me – so often in the details.

Peaceful Places

2014-09-28 12.45.56-1

Llano River, Mason County

I’m looking for my peaceful places…both inside and out.

On the home front I’m clearing clutter. I started purging closets, bookshelves, and cupboards.  I hauled off two carloads of clothing, books, and kitchen “stuff”. I didn’t need three coffee pots, two blenders, an array of clothing two sizes too big, and magazines from the last decade. Incredibly I’ve only made a small dent. Why do I hang onto “things”? I’m sure there are reasons – some rewards I hope to gain.

2014-09-15 20.25.09

Of course not everybody can achieve the peace these two can.

I know sometimes I buy things hoping for some magical result. I look for the outfit that will make me beautiful, the self-help book that will dramatically repair my life, the trinket that will inspire, the kitchen gadget that turns me into Julia Child. Unfortunately, “stuff” seems to have the opposite effect. It only tends to constrict me and prevent me from growing.

creekbehindhouse

Dry Hole Creek in front of the house.

Funny how that goes for the “inside” too. The more stuff I have crammed inside my little head, the harder it is to grow or find any sliver of bliss

So I’m integrating meditation into my evenings and I’m considering a short meditation in the mornings as well. I know most of my suffering is self-imposed and beyond that,  any pain is usually imagined.  I can dream up horrific scenarios that agonize me. I can focus on physical and emotional pain, reliving it over and over. I can remind myself of resentments that had almost cleared up. (* interesting little tidbit:  I heard in a meeting once that resent comes from re-sentir or re-feel)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So many leaves – I couldn’t focus on just one. Instead of being beautiful, they look a little “junky”

Meditation cures that craziness. I can focus on the only moment that is actually real – the current moment. In that space, I can’t get too carried away with torrents of thoughts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Focusing on one leaf at a time changes the whole picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I do decide to veer from the present, I can make a point to be positive though.  The past is gone and unless it’s happy memories, I don’t need to re-feel any of that stuff. The future is just a prediction, so why not predict happy endings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Simplicity . . .

 

Peaceful places are right here – right now.