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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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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

 

 

Rain, Sleet and Joy

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“How can you tell somebody has run a marathon? Don’t worry, they’ll TELL YOU!”  

On March 1st, I did it.  I finished my second marathon and beat my previous time by more than 30 minutes.  A few days before the race the National Weather Service predicted a start temperature of 40 and a daily high of 55. Sounded like perfect running weather. As the race neared, the predictions grew gloomier. At 6:30 a.m. the morning of the race, the current conditions were freezing rain, 30 degrees and a wind chill of 23. Now for some people this isn’t a big deal, but I’m a true Texan. I love sunshine and prefer sweat to chill bumps any day of the year. As sleet pelted the windshield, I honestly considered leaving – – – nobody would blame me, right? But I knew I’d regret it the rest of my life, so I stepped out, shivering and muttering obscenities under my breath.

I shuffled off into the sleet, determined to make my goal time and prove to myself I could do better than I did in October.

PACING

One of the problems I had with my first marathon was pacing. I was so concerned with the finish line, that I didn’t run a steady, slow pace.  During a recent yoga class, my instructor explained that one of the problems beginners have with yoga is trying to hurry into the final pose.  Instead of concentrating on creating a strong base for a headstand, they start kicking their feet into the air,wanting to get UP…NOW.  It doesn’t work out well.  So I focused on my base…I concentrated on my steady pace.

COURAGE

Around mile 6 I saw a sign on the back of a man’s shirt so I ran a little faster to catch up and read it.  The sign read “Running off the chemo one mile at a time:  26.2” I ask him about the chemo. Last year he ran the Army Marathon. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed and had been receiving chemo all year. And there he was  – out in the icy rain – running.  His courage took away every excuse I had for not finishing. In Harker Heights the sidewalks were crowded with Harker Heights firefighters cheering him on. I remarked that he had quite the fan club and he told me he was a firefighter.  What a motivation!!!

SELF-CARE

I trotted along, still at my pace (give or take).  I rewarded myself at certain points by eating gels and drinking sports drinks. I had failed to take adequate nutrition at the first marathon. The lesson here is that self-care is vital! We can try to be brave and tough and unselfish but the bottom line is unless we feed our bodies and souls, we’ll end up pretty useless to everybody around us (and we’ll post a terrible performance).

MINDFULNESS

I also focused on running one mile at a time. I didn’t think about how far I had to go or how far I’d gone. I tried to concentrate on that single mile under my feet. Step…step…step…focus on the step. Live in the moment. I reminded myself I can’t go back and run the last mile any differently and I can’t be at the finish until I’m at the finish. I tried to be mindful, living the race foot by foot, mile by mile.

ATTITUDE

Smiling…I smiled as much as possible. I thanked volunteers along the way. I made a game out of trying not to miss a single volunteer. Of course, when there were 15 folks at a water stop, I had to yell out a general THANK YOU.  But I wanted my heart filled with gratitude and joy on this run.  As I remarked to some of the law enforcement officers, I chose to be out there running in the ice. I’d actually even paid money to participate.  But these men and women were there out of duty. I felt gratitude and compassion.

I was affected by the positive attitude of those around me too. Somewhere between mile 18 and 20, I ran with a wonderful woman from Killeen. She was so full of energy that I felt revived talking to her. We laughed and shared for several miles.  I thought about how such exuberant energy is contagious…what a gift to the universe!

PURPOSE and REAL HEROES

Then I hit my wall…it started on the dam when the cold wind picked up and slapped me in the face. By mile 22 I was doing a lot of walking. Then I remembered why I was running . . .

When I signed up for the marathon, I was given the option of setting up a fundraiser page for one of several designated charities. After reading and studying, I chose Team Red White and Blue.  Team RWB works with veterans to reintegrate them into the civilian world. From the website:  “Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”

Every day 22 veterans commit suicide…that’s one human life lost every 65 minutes.  Involvement in sports and physical activities has been shown to alleviate the despair in which these veterans find themselves hopelessly lost.

(A good article to read:  http://teamrwb.org/in-the-media/two-teams-unite-to-better-veteran-community)

As I ran, I started thinking about how so many of our veterans are living in darkness – in sadness, grief and despair so thick I can’t even imagine.  I was just running 26.2 miles. I was smiling and happy.  I felt some pain but it would be over in a few hours.  These men and women can’t see an end to their pain so they opt for the most radical of solutions.

I could endure for them…I only raised $1,420 on my fundraising page, but just maybe that would change the life of even one veteran somewhere. Just maybe he or she would wear the Eagle (the Team RWB logo) and find hope.

Thinking of these heroes, I finished my race….I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry so I did both.

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I was laughing and crying simultaneously.

And just as the Army Marathon promises, I did run with heroes…and I ran for heroes.  May God bless them ALL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Eyed Monster versus Beauty Queen (winner takes Tokyo)

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIt is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered. ~Aeschylus

Forty-eight years and I’m finally getting over it…the green eyed monster that has kept from appreciating so many wonderful people.

I’ve always had amazing friends – talented, intelligent, kind, beautiful friends. But while I love them, sometimes I would feel such ugliness. I have been such a jealous, envious person. Here’s a confession: I even screwed two friends over because of my nasty feelings. That’s hard to admit but it’s true.

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My jealousy is part of my brokeness.

In high school I used to call the popular girls “plastic people.”  I made fun of the whole concept of cheerleading and beauty contests.  I knew I could never be one of them.  As a matter of fact, someone told me back in those days that it was a good thing I was smart because I’d never get anywhere on my looks. So I tried to be as anti-pretty as possible, attempting to convince myself I was morally superior rejecting superficiality. Deep inside I still felt so inferior.

But things are changing in my life . . . things are changing in my soul.

The other day in yoga we were asked to sit and stare into the eyes of our yoga partner. I was sooo uncomfortable. My hands were sweating and I had the constant urge to laugh and say something funny. Proving the universe has a point to make, my partner was a beauty queen and former cheerleader.  But as I looked into her eyes, I saw that deep inside she wasn’t that much different from me…I knew she felt uncomfortable too. She laughs and cries and worries about being laughed at…and all those feelings I have.

She looked into me and saw my pain – the scary stuff I try hard to hide.  I was living my nightmare…being vulnerable and transparent in front of one of those people who always intimidated me. Why does that frighten me so much? Am I so afraid of my reflection? Has this always been about my own insecurity? In a word “YES!” But during the yoga exercise, I was insecure but not envious or jealous. I felt only warmth toward my partner.

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Reflections can be scary

 Embrace the glorious mess that you are! – Elizabeth Gilbert

Now I could write more about the solution, but I think it’s so very evident.  I won’t go through a lot of narration because there are so many layers. To the point:

I’m learning to be accepting of and compassionate toward others because

FINALLY I’m starting to accept and love myself.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete” ~ Buddha

As with all my life lessons….to be continued…

Wabi-Sabi

Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.    ~Marilyn  Monroe

Last week in yoga, preparing for the one pose I can do perfectly, Savasana (Corpse Pose), I leaned back on my mat and looked up.  I was intrigued. The ceiling in the old building is beautiful – antique tin tiles, paint peeling – imperfectly beautiful.  It reminded me of a phrase I’d heard a few times:  Wabi-Sabi (not wasabi which is also something I do well…or at least eat well). I realize I could get into the entire concept a lot more deeply but I’m just going to dance on the surface of Wabi-Sabi in this blog.

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       Wabi-sabi

 Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature. Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. (FROM FREEBASE.COM)

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

A smile is ALWAYS beautiful.

I love getting out with my fancy camera and taking photos of critters and nature. People often ask me to take their photo but I nearly always decline. Most folks, me included,  will inevitably be unhappy with photos of themselves. We pick out each flaw and focus on it. Animals don’t care.

cownose

OH NO! You can see my pores.

Is it my vanity that has convinced me I look like a super-model but the camera can’t quite pick it up?  Why can’t I love my deep smile lines and uneven eyes? Asymmetry is one of the characteristics listed in the Wabi-Sabi definition.  Looking around in nature, there is nothing but “imperfection.” Flowers missing petals, trees with broken limbs, irregular shaped clouds…but it’s all still perfect. We are so captivated by the beauty of a sunrise that we don’t notice the landscape isn’t following the 3/4 rule.

One of the things I love about our yoga class is that it’s ok to need  a block or a strap and bend my knees during forward bends.  Oddly enough, being unable to do things “textbook” perfectly  isn’t even deemed as imperfection or as a weakness. We’re told to honor ourselves – accept ourselves and our own limitations. According to our teacher, nearly all yoga teachers have poses that are difficult for them.

And with this new appreciation of Wabi-Sabi comes forgiveness.  When I accept my own “imperfection”, I’m more likely to accept the imperfection of others. My screw-ups are beautiful because they are a part of my charm. And maybe your screw-ups are part of yours.

But this morning on Facebook a friend posted something that really struck me….and I’ll end with this thought:  Maybe everything IS perfect. 

Stay OUT of my Peaceful Place

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

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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.

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

Peaceful Places

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Simplicity . . .

 

Peaceful places are right here – right now.

Low Battery and Credit Earned

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Moses enjoying the sunshine

Sunday the weather was yucky. At 5 a.m. sleet fell hard enough to make the ground white. I needed to do a long run but I decided I would wait for the weather to clear.

My decision was the right one. In the next 30 minutes there were two vehicular accidents within a few miles of my house.

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Charlie is ALWAYS cozy.

On one hand I was looking for any excuse to skip my run. I woke up with an upset angry tummy.  But I knew I needed to push through because I have to log a certain number miles to fit the training plan. If you wanna win, you gotta push it, right! Right?

Finally the sleet stopped and so did my stomach. I grabbed my earphones and dang if the batteries weren’t dead. Oh well.  I don’t really have to have music so I started down the road.

At 1.49 miles my GPS watch battery died. *sigh*  I would run a little farther down the road to try to get 5 miles in.  Before I got home, the sleet started again – just slightly but nonetheless, it was there. Maybe there was a reason for me to go home early

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No wonder I can’t rest…there’s no room on the couch.

Two days later during a run my phone battery died.  This is beginning to be more than coincidence. I think somebody is trying to tell me something.

I’ve been waking up sore and tired.  My legs are sore all the time. I can’t stop though. I can’t rest. I have something to prove, you see. (See 2015 resolutions – no longer necessary to prove myself to the world) Taking a rest day was out of the question.

In October I ran my first marathon and my time was HORRIBLE! I had purchased a 26.2 magnet for my car BUT I couldn’t in good conscience put it on my car. Only when I’ve achieve a better time can I wear that little badge of honor.

WHAT THE . . . ????

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Ingrid was beautiful.

That’s insane! I ran the 26.2.   Only 0.5% of the US population have finished a marathon. Why can’t I just acknowledge I succeeded? Why can’t I just give myself permission to lean back for a little while and be proud of my accomplishments?

Time to rest and recharge and consider 2014 a success. In 2014 I ran my first half, my first 30K and my first marathon. If someone else had accomplished all that, I’d high five them. But since it’s me, it’s not good enough.

So what are the lessons from this disjointed essay?

  • Just like the headphones, the watch and the phone, sometimes you have to lay on the couch and plug into THE SOURCE.
  • And it’s okay to be satisfied with who you are and what you’ve done.

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    Cozy Bella