• 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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This process of painting

Is very different than anything I have worked with creatively before. I don’t want to stop. I want to paint every day…or at least every day that I can, even if it is just for a few moments. I have two more paintings right now that I am probably going to keep…one is a maybe and one is for certain. This makes three paintings so far. When I look at these paintings, as well as several of the paintings that I have painted over, I feel…..a little gleeful.  I did that. These images have such power. They are simple, but I am in love with their beauty, and it is beauty of my own creation. What could be more magnificient than that.  Even the paintings that don’t make me feel elation, I still have a sense of creation and enjoyment. I feel the colors. Color is so soothing and so life affirming. While I do have other colors of paint, I most enjoy mixing the primaries myself and coming up with colors that are all my own. They are difficult to re-create most times, but more often than not, the shadings of color are what really add to the painting. Colors remind me of a feeling, a place or a particular thing or person, or all three at the same time. This lavender reminds me of the exact shade of the irises that grew on the hill where I grew up. This rusty red is reminiscent of my mon’s old purse that she carried for years past its prime. This pink reminds me of the perfect round spheres that I would gleefully twist from from a bubblegum machine at the bank. The colors evoke playfulness, joy, wistfulness, contentment. With a squirt of this, and a dollop of that I have the potential for a whole menagerie of feelings and images. Sometimes it is a conscious process and other times it is not. Whatever the case  the memories and feelings are carried into the painting and it builds the life and soul of the image, giving it a depth that recreates those feelings upon viewing of the painting later. At least it does for me. I would hope that would happen for others as well. I think that will be an indicator of true artistry.

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.

Meaningful Gifts

This weekend I received a surprise package in the mail from a dear friend. I immediately surmised that it was something about my upcoming half-marathon and I felt so touched and loved. This friend really gets how important this race is to me. Maybe it is because she has run several halfs herself. Maybe it is because she has been with me and supported me through this weight-loss/body-image journey of mine, and she knows how monumental this is for me. Whatever the case, I felt like crying as I opened her lovingly packaged gift. Inside were “a few race-day essentials” and a card with a loving note. The outside merely read “13.1”. What a statement! The “race-day essentials” included a few packages of GU, a stick of Body Glide and a athletic Nike cap. Her message to me was of love and support, and said much more than the supportive words on the card. It reminded me that this is a BFD! I think I have been suppressing my excitement and wonder about the fact that I HAVE run FOURTEEN miles and I am going to run in a major race: A HALF-MARATHON! This achievement goes beyond the physical. It shatters so many barriers that I had built to define myself. It is enabling me to find new words to define me: words like athlete, runner, and others. It encourages me to look at other words I have used to limit myself (like “fat”, “lazy” “weak” ) and to challenge them. It also gives me the courage to branch out in other areas of my life where fear and limited self-definitions have held me back.

I think I have been supressing my wonder and excitedment a little because I don’t want to come across as bragging. And I think that people around me probably are a little tired of me talking about my running. I don’t mean it as bragging. I am in amazement at myself. Sometimes I think I need to tell others, to say it out loud so that I believe it myself. My dear friend’s package to me was more than just love and support, it was also a gift of affirmation. Girl, this is a BFD, and it is okay to be proud of myself AND excited about the race!

. Drew from Fleet Feet suggested that on race day I do nothing new. Good advice. So I am off now for a short run to try out my new cap and the body glide (most excited about that stuff – been using vasoline, which is quite gooey). Thanks dear friend.

Officially Overweight

This is a good thing. I have been obese for a very very long time. Then I was morbidly obese for longer than I care to admit. Blech. Those words “obese” and “morbidly obese” are so defeating. labeling. demeaning. hurtful. sad. stigmatizing. They say nothing about the reality of who I am as a woman. They say nothing about the challenges and pain and often bittersweet joy that I have struggled through during this “battle” against being obese. I am learning the true meaning of such phrases as “hate only generates hate” and “violence begets violence”. For in this “battle” I was waging against obesity, I had declared war against myself. 

About a year ago, I held up the white flag of truce and since then have embraced the dove of peace. I am learning what it means to love myself. To love the parts of myself that I thought were unloveable. The jiggley places, the dimply places, the places of lumps and bumps and sags and drags. I am transforming. I am no longer battling myself. The war against my obesity is over and peace has taken its place. I still don’t always like what I see in the mirror – and I am much kinder to myself when I have clothes on…but this transition to peace hasn’t happened overnight. When you have hated for so long, it takes time to return fully to love. I am transforming and the fruits of my labors are very sweet.

One of these fruits is that I can no longer be called obese! Yippee!! The unfortunate events of the past week have officially dropped me into the overweight category (according to my BMI and height which of course doesn’t take into account these rocking hard muscles that I have developed). I am merely overweight. Once again, this word, this term doesn’t define who I am. I am a simple conundrum of complexities and contradictions. I have a history – a past full of joy and pain. That past doesn’t define me but it helped shape me and I love and embrace all of it for that. But I no longer hold on to that past or use it to define me.  I am defined by my present; who and how I am right now. And I love my present shape. Watch out “normal”  here I come! 

ahem. In that last statement I was referring to a “normal BMI”. I fully resist “normalcy” in every other way shape and form except of course for how I define normal for me.

Catching UP: the running and weight loss journey

There really is no way to do that. Not fully. So much has been going on. I decided a few days after my last post that I wanted to write a book. I even came up with a title. Since then, I have been unable to write a single word. Writer’s block I suppose. Whatever, I am scared to death about the venture, but I keep formulating paragraphs in my head. Here’s to the hopes that I will at some point, get those paragraphs to paper.

For now, catching up on my life. I just emerged out of hell. Seriously, hell. This hell occurred over a period of 60 hours and involved 4 airplanes, much money I didn’t need to part with, 3 trips to the ED and a reduction in weight of 10lbs in three days. Oh, and two of those ED visits were in a rinky dink (well not really it was actually very nice for a community hospital) jip-joint hospital in NM.Damn them to hell. Oh wait, that was hell. So this sick puppy had to fly back to TN and cut short my visit to my mom and grandparents (well, since I was sick, the visit never started, so I technically just called the whole thing off).  And one more visit to the  ED (damn DFW and their delays which made me get home too late to go to my regular doctor) upon return to TN. Anyhoo, I am fine and better and all is well. I am pleased about the new number on the scale of course, but I will be damned if I ever want to go through something like that again to have those results again.  Notice I am purposefully being vague about details. It is enough to know that it was hell, and that I still feel as weak as a kitten.

 I am worried about what this convalescence will do to my running. Today I started to feel like I might just be an eentsy bit better (no extreme dizziness upon standing), so I decided to go for a run. Now, you must understand that when I am sick I always doubt the reality of my symptoms. I don’t think I have a proclivity for somatization, but like a good psych nurse I do worry about the possibility, because the doubt is always there. “Do I really feel this bad or am I just imagining?”, “Wouldn’t I feel better if I just got moving?”, “Am I just pretending so I can stay in bed?” “Am I just being lazy?”….these are some of the questions I ask myself, and plus I am worried about “getting behind” on my training schedule. So I ignored the fact that my legs felt like quivering jelly and out the door I stepped. I did run one mile and walk 2/3 of another mile before I decided that I truly don’t feel very well and back to semi-convalescense I head.

So anyhoo, even though I am worried at the moment about the possibility of lost muscle mass and lost training time, I overall think I am doing pretty good in my running. The going has been bumpy and I have had to overcome a lot of self-doubting, but I am everyday learning that I am indeed, officially a runner. Sunday before last, I ran 10 miles outside. I had been running on the treadmill, so this is quite an accomplishment. Also, last Sat (before full onset of above hell scenario) I ran a 5k with a friend. This was my 3rd race, and it felt amazing. I ran the entire way AND I was no where near the last of the runners. Okay, so I was also no where near the beginning runners either, but I am very content to be happily in the middle. My time was 37 minutes (by the race clock which is including the initial walking time as everyone gets moving). Oh, and this made 18 miles total for the week. The 1/2 marathon is just a little over 1 month away. i am going to be ready.

I am changing and I am learning more and more about who I am. Sometimes the changes are happening so fast that when I walk by a mirror I have to do a double take. “Who was that?….Oh yeah, its me…I like that girl.”