• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.

Musings on a Second Half

Despite the paucity of blogging data to support it, I am still running. Last week, my confidence in my running was pretty shot. Well, really it has been since middle July. I started working at night – which has meant many bodily woes – too tired to run, 15 lb weight gain, change in routine. I generally just felt like garbage being slow-roasted in the sun for most of my runs through August.  I still run when I first wake up, but now that is in the evening, and when evening running I just hasn’t seemed to have the umph I did when running in the morning. Negative umph. Then to top it all off, 4 weeks before raceday, I sprained my ankle. Pretty significant crash (the booboo on my knee is still pink and scarred looking).  This meant that my training schedule was shot all to hell, and that my longest long run was 4 miles short of the 13 I had hoped for.

All this added together made me pretty much feel like a loser. I had wanted to really ramp up my speed and get my time to 2:30. I wanted to lose more weight and run smoother. I wanted to feel really confident going into this race. Been there, done that, easy peasy.

That is not the way it happened at all. I am heavier. I felt like I was running so much slower and less efficiently. My get up and go, well you know.

 I even considered backing out of the race. But dang it, my pride just wouldn’t let me do that. Plus I really wanted the nice shiny medal with bright and shiny girl runner charm that I could put on my necklace with the charm I bought for the last race. Pretties almost always get me motivated. That, and I didn’t want to accept defeat.

I felt really nervous about this race. Really nervous. The kind of nervous that I used to feel on the first day school as my mom was driving me in. Those days were also wrought with lots of “what if I can’ts and self-doubt).  I kept telling myself, and anyone who would listen, that I was just going to finish. It didn’t matter if it took me 4 hours. I was going to finish. I told myself that I was probably going to take longer than the first time, but it didn’t matter. The accomplishment would be finishing. Even if I walked the last 4 miles, as long as I finished, it would be success.

Deep down I didn’t believe any of that garbage. I felt like a loser. I envisioned myself floundering in pain at mile 10 and having to be carried off the road on a stretcher. Oh, the shame! I envisioned myself limping across the finish line at a crawl after 3 1/2 hours. Lots of visions, none of them very nice.

The morning of the race, the excitement I felt at the CMM wasn’t there. I was just nervous. I grabbed my requisite cup of coffee and headed out to my front porch for some serious prayer. “Help me  finish today. Help me feel good about this. Help me really believe that it is okay if I finish at 3 1/2 hours”. Then I did something which I had done before the April 1/2. I envisioned myself running this race joyfully, and joyfully crossing that finish line.

Now I won’t say that I went to the starting line with no qualms, but I got that sense of excitement back. I felt eager with only minimal qualms. Nowhere near  the level of first day of school, but still not a day at the park either. Just the right number of qualms.

Joyful is what I was. I felt good. The race felt very different. It was all women, with the exception of a few random guys…very few. The energy was great. There were  not so many people cheering at the sidelines…and I liked that too. The day was beautiful. I settled into a pace and I took my time. I tried to keep myself moving, but I walked when I needed to (which was predominantly going up some of those monster hills that downtown Nashville is notorious for). I didn’t even wear a watch, so I couldn’t even keep a good measure of my time. I am not much for mathematics in my head, so when I passed the mile signs with the clocks, it seemed like I was making pretty good time, but I felt certain that I would slow down and that was okay. At mile 12, the clock said 2:33. 2:33!!! Only 1 more mile left. I soared. Well, my heart did anyway. I walked long enough to text my hubby and cheering partner, because I knew he wouldn’t be at the finish line yet. I had told him at least 3 hours!

What the heck happened.??? I let go of expectations. I allowed myself to be in the moment, to just enjoy the process, and once again I was amazed by the results.

I crossed the finish line at 2:48. My official time was 2:46 minutes. 19 minutes better than my last half.

 I am just going to keep getting better.

Maybe I will run a whole next year.

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double marathoning

Two major things happening in my life right now that are my “extracurricular” activities. Meaning, they have nothing to do with work or family and are just for the enrichment of my life. Funny how they both involve the word “marathon” – my “creative marathon” of which I have most recently been journaling about. And of course, the women’s half-marathon in September for which I am training. Marathon, by the way, is named such because this Greek runner messenger ran 26 miles to deliver his message of Victory at the village of “Marathon” and then fell over dead.

There is irony here because I am not trying to kill myself, but am rather trying to better myself. It can, however, feel at times as if it is indeed my death that I am plotting. Physically and emotionally. While I am feeling very successful….hmm, successful doesn’t accurately describe it…rather to say that I am very pleased with my painting efforts. I have even decided to keep one (mile #11 – the whimsical blue flower). My running efforts however, are feeling….well unsuccessful. Words like failure and inadequate come to mind. Very discouraging.

But I digress, as first I wanted to discuss my experience with my “book”-club the other day. We decided to do this creative marathon together and forgo books for the time being. We met last Sat to discuss our journey so far. They are very very talented women and their works thus far were very inspirational. I must admit, that prior to meeting with them, I was worried and feeling a bit self-conscious about my attempts at art…especially sharing the images with others doing the same thing. What if theirs were Better? Prettier?…Better?

What I found was that it didn’t matter. I wasn’t there to compare, and they weren’t either. I didn’t feel so self-conscious once we became engaged in sharing and discussing. I didn’t feel like comparing. I did learn a lot about myself. I was very delightfully surprised by their interpretations of the “miles” – the drawings we had been sent to work from. They were interpreting! You could see their individual spirit in each painting, and they were all beautiful…even when (maybe especially when) they wound up looking very different from the example.
I think my paintings stayed closest to the examples. I remembered how, as I was painting, I would try to paint my images a little different…but…**light bulb!!!***… I realized that I was very strictly adhering to “rules” that I created for myself. Those rules said I had to do it like the example and that I must follow the instructions. I gave myself only the tiniest bitsy bit of wiggle room to be a little “different”. Perhaps because I am not trusting my process. Not trusting that I could have original ideas or unique interpretations that can still be beautiful works of art. Not trusting that I have ability, that I do have an inner artist locked inside that really wants to get out. Only I keep hemming her in with rules and straight and narrow rows that she must follow in order to express herself at all. Rules that are about other people’s art, and not about my own.

Perhaps it was “fate” that this last mile didn’t give a concrete example. The instructions were to draw a “cave painting”. So I did. I did research some images that I wanted to use. And then I made up my own. It isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t hang it on a wall. But it is all mine. And I like it.

I intended to write more about my current struggle with running (yes I am running, but it seems harder than ever, I feel slower than ever, and my hip hurts). I don’t much feel like moaning about it any more. As I wrote the above, I realize that perhaps I am having the same problems with both marathons. I am trying to hard to fit into someone else’s mold. I run the way I run. It isn’t perfect. It isn’t fast. Its messy. And sometimes it hurts. But I am doing it.

Phenomenal things (including discovery of the armpit-hollow)

A lot of awesomeness is happening in my life right now and I am truly truly thankful and joyous. There are some rough edges here and there, but they are beginning to smooth out nicely. This new job, as with all new endeavors, has resulted in a retreat from blogging as I immersed myself in acclimating to my new role and especially new hours. Well, considering that I only slept 3 hours last night (off day), the switch back to nights is likely going to take a considerable amount of time to adjust fully. But in the meantime, I am beginning to feel a little less brain benumbed and able to focus on other things (like blogging) once again.

One of the phenomenal things that I am going to start this Friday is Creatively Fit Marathon. NO, it has nothing to do with running….although I think it will gel very nicely with my actual running training for my next 1/2 marathon in September. This “marathon” is all about painting. 26 paintings or “miles”. It is supposed to be a highly transformative process and I plan to blog about my journey along the way. (gosh, saying that makes me cringe a little bit, as it seems that every time I say I plan to blog about something, it kind of goes by the wayside….time to be different and do what I intend!!!)

Another phenomenal thing I just discovered is that I have an armpit hollow. This is how your armpit hollows when you hold your arm a certain way and there are muscles and tendons on either side of the hollow. The armpit actually recesses a little bit. I hope this is making sense, as I am not sure how to describe it clearly, and it is such an important discovery. You see, I have never ever had an arm pit hollow. Well, surely I did as a small child…but not in my memory anyway. Before, I just had, well fat, filling up the space. This new hollow  is most exciting, and speaks to a level of fitness and healthy changes in my body that I have never experienced before. Armpit hollow. So simple and yet it is bringing me so much joy today. I discovered it quite by accident in the shower when I went to shave the pit today. I had just finished weedeating and my arms felt like limp noodles so I opted to shave my pits in a very lazy fashion that didn’t require raising of the noodle that was my arm and I propped it instead on the little scallopy thingy that protrudes from the inside of the shower for just such a need. When I went to shave, there it was! A hollow!! Amazing.

Lots of other phenomenal things to write about (like my awesome new job and the fact that I finally ran a 10 minute mile [10:05 actually])….but I think I shall stop here, heed the growling of my stomach and go eat some phenomenal Indian food with my phenomenal husband. Life is good.

aspiring to write like VW

I typically start off the morning journaling my “morning pages” as dubbed by Julia Cameron of “The Artist’s Way”. Yesterday morning instead of immediately journaling, I started off by reading up the rest of “A Room of One’s Own“, as my bookclub met yesterday afternoon to discuss it in all its splendour. Reading first thing in the morning really set me in a bit of a tizzy and threw off my desire to write because I want so badly to be able to write in some semblance of VW’s style. That feeling continues into today and will probably continue to haunt me for some time. VW has me spellbound. Her words are like liquid music that she has somehow made concrete, yet upon reading the words are transformed and rise up and fly about my head like so many magnificient butterflies. One woman yesterday had difficulty with VW’s long long sentences. I hadn’t noticed the length (and truly they tend towards ridiculous length), because I love the flow and brilliant imagery of her prose-like sentences. Perhaps it is because I too tend toward longer sentences that I can so appreciate hers – although they do tend to go on without a period in site a little bit longer than my own rambling run-ons. Her sentences are so very delightful, profound, sarcastic, witty, and full of life.

 I wonder what VW would think if she could see how women experience life today and how very different that experience is from her own time.Would she be proud? Dismayed? Disgusted? Delighted?  Much of what she predicts in “A Room…” is true today. The majority of women are able to have a room of their own and support themselves with a sufficient income. So many women are writing about every subject – we are no longer limited to fiction and portraying ourselves within the context of the masculine. I wonder what she would think of women like Hiliary Clinton or Sarah Palin, who have perhaps, as she puts it ‘too much of the man’ in them. I wonder what she would think of women like myself – who yearn to write but are reticent to move beyond this easy format – who perhaps have ‘too much of the woman’ and are unable to write from the perspective of androgny that she believed enables the mind to be “resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.” That is not me I fea,r for I love to write wholly as a woman, fully as a woman. But then VW also does go on to implore the reader (whom she assumes is a woman) to write fully as oneself; to write exactly as we think – that IS what I do and maybe to the detriment of my writing style. My writing certainly does not contain the eloquence or purity of thought that I think Woolf would have women writers strive for. However, I do believe that I am able to capture reality – my reality – to make real my experience and I hope express that in a believable way to those who read my little blog posts (which on a good day is more than two persons).

I am striving toward more eloquence, more continuity, etc. Perhaps the rambling practice of this blog will someday fertilize the seed of greater writings that will go out into the world, that I would be proud to hold up to the light of VW’s eyes if she were alive and so inclined. It is inspiring to know the struggles of female writers of the past and how those struggles have brought the world to a place where I can blog freely, write freely, without fear of any repercussions based solely on the fact that I am a woman and I dare to write what I think. Perhaps enough has changed in the eighty years since “A Room of One’s Own” was published that the female writer no longer needs to write from an androgyneous mind. Perhaps the collective consciousness of women now has developed enough independence and autonomy that women can write freely from the female perspective without being weighed down by the yoke of the stifling patriarchy. “We think through our mothers if we are women”, writes Woolf, bemoaning the fact that her mothers and foremothers were not writers, were not allowed the freedom, the space, the time to write freely and there was a scarcity of example for herself and her contemporaries. Today, women think back through amazing mothers of creativity like Woolf and many other brilliant women. We have that foundation that she longed for.

I do know that I love to write – to find just the right word for the thoughts tumbling around in my head (a search that is often fruitless and just the “right” word escapes me and I settle for an “okay” word instead…but I digress).. I long to write more often and more productively (meaning in a manner that I find beautiful and proficient and that other people would want to read) but I do feel held back. Unlike Woolf, I do not believe it is the fetters of gender repression that hold me back, but rather the shackles are of my own mind. Fear that tells me that any attempt to write more than a simple blog post on my very own small and unknown blog would be absurd and never ever stand a chance to be published or read by more than a random few (much less actually enjoyed). I perhaps can blame this fear somewhat on the patriarchy of my own family and maybe a smidge on the patriarchy still dominant in society. Truly there are so many amazing female writers, both notorious and relatively unknown, who stand before me as role models, who light the path for me and give me the hope of their experience. No, blame serves no purpose and I would rather blame no one, for blame is just another lock that keeps me victim of my own fears and shortcomings. My key to liberation lies in learning to believe in myself; learning to take chances and put myself out there; and learning that things (even my writings) do not have to be perfect.

Ego Maelstrom

Ego sweeps in like a storm. So sudden, swift and all-encompassing in its sensory blindness that I am engulfed in forgetfulness, so little is my awareness of the tools I can use to extricate myself. Luckily these days, as overwhelming as these storms are, my blindness is typically short-lived. Eckert Tolle (my own words) speaks of the means to free oneself from the self-hating, self-defeating guile of ego is to engage active Presence. In the midst of the maelstrom’s peak the raging winds of self-flagellation drown out the centered voice of presence.

I just finished reading a novel about Sappho and she (in the fiction) speaks of longing and desire “I want, I want, I want” but not knowing what the wanting is, just wanting to feel fulfilled and feeling instead a vast emptiness. I related well to those passages yesterday.

Thank goddess for a new day and a gradual clearing of the mists that veiled my senses. It is the simple things that brings me back to presence. My morning coffee, the playfulness of my kitties, the feel of the damp earth under my bare feet. Suddenly I can breathe deeper.  I feel hopeful and wonderment again. There is still a lingering sense of sadness, of longing. I long for….what I do not know exactly, or maybe I just can’t quite put it into words. I long to better understand myself, to feel love and acceptance of myself, to find the inner peace that leads to outer peace. I am much closer to that place today. Closer because I am no longer trying to seek that place from a place of desparate wanting that truly does nothing more than lead me further away from peace, further down into the depths of despair and further deficit and feelings of wanting, of lacking, of never being enough. But today I am closer to the stillness and presence where I know that I am enough and that all is well always.

Sometimes I feel like…

really grumbling and complaining about a lot of different things that I have no immediate control over, or about choices I have made. Examples right now are the economy, my personal finances, whether I am going to be able to pay my my bills this month, whether or not I can afford to get my hair cut and then feeling guilty because I did it anyway, the amount of hours I am working right now and being asked to do more, feeling like I am always behind at work, lousy (I mean really lousy) pay, sharing an office, not getting enough sleep, waking up too damn early… I really could go on. My eyebrows furrow and the deep dark crease that crosses my brow penetrates into my mindset and I feel a dark and gloomy heaviness settle in upon my soul. And then I want to say a lot of curse words.

It is really easy for me to go there. And sometimes I stay there for a while. Believe me, I am not a very nice person to be around when I am there. I certainly don’t like being there, but sometimes it feels to difficult to leave that place…although I must admit, it is not difficult at all, sometimes I just don’t want to leave, I want to stay in ‘poor me’. It feels like I have been going to this place a heck of a lot lately.

But the truth of the matter is, I have so many other wonderful things in my life right now that all that stuff doesn’t matter. My brow unfurrows, erasing the crease and light and contentment fill my being. Yeah, those are all real problems that I may need to deal with at some point to see what I can do about them, or if I want to do anything about them (like find another job). Today  I am choosing to settle back into trust. Trust that I will be taken care of, and that I am going to be okay. Because truly, under a lot of that grumbling is fear, especially about finances and that fear leads to anger as I try to protect myself and this viscious cycle of negativity and gloom begins. *sigh* It certainly doesn’t help me. It just makes me feel bad about myself and my world.

The way for me to release that negativity is through prayer and meditation. How simple! and yet how often I forget or avoid. Last night, I made the mistake of checking work email right before I went to bed. And I got frustrated and mad, rebelling against something I don’t want to do, my thoughts spinning in darkness as the furrow in my brow deepened, and I just knew it was going to be another night of tossing and turning. Then I started to pray. And you know what?!, I had the best night of sleep!

Okay, so I feel like I must say that when others talk about ‘praying’ and when I read my own words ‘I prayed and then everything was hunky dorey’, I feel like gagging myself with a spoon. Those are feelings from my past, that look down upon praying as religious and they are not quite reconciled with the spiritual reality of my present.

Enough rambling! There is work to do and I set out to achieve it this morning with a light heart and a mind that is at ease.