• 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.

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.”

Sister

She is in my thoughts almost constantly these days. These thoughts if not at the forefront, then just at the fringe – ready to pop out at any moment. I can’t quite seem to shake them. I wonder if she would like to know that I think of her so often. She is in my dreams nightly and is often the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing at night. She came to mind not as frequently before her death… but often enough. However, those thoughts were bitter, acrid. These are sad. How I longed to release that bitterness, that anger that I felt for her for the past many years. I didn’t know how to let go – to forgive. Believe me I tried. And tried. It feels so very sad that the release I sought only happened one month before her death. Nothing to do about that now. And my dreams tell me that even if I had been able to do anything different – things wouldn’t…couldn’t have been different. So I am left to struggle with these memories and regrets. Grief. Not my fondest experience. The hardest part is that from all outward appearances, my life has resumed its normal cadence. School, work, play. But there is a discord that only I can hear. The unbidden thought. The tears that seem to spring from nowhere at the drop of a hat. And of course, the dreams. Often these dreams are chaotic….how her life was. Sometimes they are of childhood. Mostly sad. Damned grief. I know the only way out is through, but many times I feel like the Ostrich has the right idea. Unfortunately this damned recovery won’t let me revert to Ostrich-mode. At least not for long.

Now the other sister frequently comes to mind too. This death is of another kind: the death of a relationship. In many ways I feel some grief about that too. In other ways it is a relief not to keep trying and working so hard on something that wasn’t working and that was almost always one-sided. Grief all the same.

I have been thinking about these sister relationships and how they shaped my views and attitudes toward women…and how very much work it has been to change those views and attitudes. Of course my mother-relationship helped shape that perception as well. I don’t think my mother liked women very much. Why have these formative female relationships been so hard? It is a wonder I don’t hate women myself. But I don’t. I think women and all things female are wonderful, divine…but our society divides us and steers us away from ourselves. I digress, something I am oh, so fond of doing. Sisters….Ah yes. Difficult, ridiculously difficult sister relationships. Part of my early  healing of my female wound was to find a “sister-of-choice”. This, I thought, was the way to go. I would finally have a sister to love me the way I wanted a sister to love me…who would be there for me and support me and yadayadayada. Turns out I chose a sister relationship that was not that much different than my sisters-not-by-choice.I still love that woman very much…but the relationship was so hard, and we too do not have a relationship today.

I guess I will lead my life without sisters. I feel a lot of sadness about that. But I also feel a tremendous amount of joy for the women in my life. For learning to love women – myself and the other glorious women in my life that support me and love me and genuine…real. Not sisters.

more thoughts on Woolf

It is with much reluctance that I am returning A Room of One’s Own to the library. Rather, my husband is prying the book from my fingers in order to avoid incuring more late fees. Dang it.

I just have to quote one more line (or several rather). Her “peroration” that concludes the book.

“What is meant by reality? It would seem to be something very erratic, very undependable – now to be found in a dusty road, now in a scrap of newspaper in the street, now in a daffodil in the sun. It lights up a group in a room and stamps some casual saying. It overwhelms one walking home beneath the stars and makes the silent world more real than the world of speech – and then there it is again in an omnibus in the uproar of Picadilly. Sometimes, too, it seems to dwell in shapes too far away for us to discern what their nature is. But whatever it touches, it fixes and makes permanent. That is what remains over when the skin of the day has been cast into the hedge; that is what is left of past time and of our loves and hates.”

The she speaks of how it is the writer’s “…business to find it and collect it and communicate it to the rest of us.”

She certainly does a fantastic job of relating her reality…making her world so very real. This writing gives a glimpse into the world of a female writer of the 1920’s….and takes you back into the ‘reality’ of a similar kind in centuries preceding. At the same time the words she shares are relevant today. Knowing where we have been, where we have come from and what we have come through as women not only gives encouragement and hope, but also pride…yes, I am proud to be a woman….a woman that writes. Even if just these little trivial blog attempts.

I can say quite honestly that this book is one of,  if not THE best book I have ever read. Awww, quit all the noncommittal nonsense. It is the most wonderfully splendid, thought-provokingly marvelous work I have ever read. So there.

Unexpected Grief and Love

Yesterday I was overcome with a grieving of an old circumstance. Oh, it hurt, and its not a comfortable feeling. I have come to a place where I understand the necessity and the relief that comes with allowing grief to release, but I am not comfortable with the release itself. Maybe that will be the next step in my journey. In an al-anon meeting, after much attempting to stifle the tears, I let it pour out, as well as the anger that arises because of my discomfort with the pain.  The support I received, the love, the understanding, was amazing. Women holding the space for me so I could be free to feel, to release and to then grow. There is absolutely nothing in my experience that rivals this feeling of acceptance understanding that occurs in that place. No one tried to  “fix” me, or hush me up or downplay my feelings. They just let it be and said “I heard you”. Wow. One woman shared that while we are taught so many things, like how to drive, how to get married, etc, there is no place where we are taught how to grieve. And yet it happens in that place with those women. So this note is not only in recognition of my grief (which is another tool for its release) but is also to pay homage to the wisdom and support of amazing women. And to rejoice in the grief that frees me to the experience of the present and the love I have here.

Global Culture of Women – Nashville’s First Story Spiral

First of many to come I hope.

 (image from the GCW’s website)

First a little background on the Global Culture of Women. Essentially, my understanding is that it is a not-for-profit organization based in Colorado that collects womens stories across the globe and the story spiral is the process of disseminating those stories to other women. The purpose is the recognition of women’s voices and women’s wisdom and the connection of women. To break the barriers of age, race, religion, culture and the other barriers that hold women back and separate from each other.

Now, that is my brief explanation – for more information look to the side bar, and there is a GCW link that will provide more information.

Last Sunday (has it truly been a week?), I hosted a Story Spiral in my home. I wanted to start small, as this would be an experimental group where I get my feet wet and learn the process – and to determine whether or not this was something I want to do again. There were six of us total – ranging in ages from 29-55. The other women didn’t really know what to expect. I had given a brief synopsis of the GCW via a flyer and had encouraged them to come with an open mind. That they did.

We sat in a circle in my living room floor. In the center of the circle I, on encouragement from the GCW’s handbook, had placed a drum and two other type of drum instruments that I cannot recall the name of at the moment. I explained who the GCW are and what the night was to hold. Everyone sat in a state of eager anticipation (as it seemed to me) and as I opened the room with a prayer and a chant to bring our voices into the space, a calm presence seemed to descend. We pulled stories out of the bowl I had placed them in and randomly went around the room sharing. I felt so connected to each of these women and to women across the country and across the globe. I no longer felt separate as just Jennifer, but rather as a small yet important part of a larger collective that is Women. We must have read 40 or 50 stories, but time seemed slow and relaxed, as if we had all the time in the world to just be there and honor the wisdom of women.  What surprised me was the need to have sound – not words, but sound to honor the stories after they were read. The drums, (which I honestly thought no one would use) were often taken up in the spaces after the words to honor, to agree, to affirm.

Next, we passed around the GCW’s wisdom card and after each selecting two, we shared parts of our own stories based on the cards we chose. Once again I was amazed and the feeling of connection strengthened. Mind you, while I knew all the women in the room, they did not all know each other, but there was a feeling of trust and rightness in the room that allowed for the sharing of intimate personal details of our lives seemingly without reservation.

Lastly we spent some time sharing our perceptions and feelings of the experience, closed the circle in thanks and shared in a small repast. We all remarked on the calm and centered feeling in the room, and I for one, carried that feeling with me for several days afterwards.  It was also remarked (my interpreting here) how we as women too often shield ourselves from each other in fear and judgment and with petty grievances and how the process of the story broke down those barriers. We do have stories to tell, everyone of us. Not because we are famous, or highly educated or well travelled, but just because we are women. Each of our stories have common threads that we can use to build bridges of peace towards each other instead of shields of war and strife against each other.

The Story Spiral was an educational and enlightening process of the telling and sharing of those stories. Not stories of woundedness from a victim place, but truly stories of our Heroine Journey. And that perhaps, was one of the most amazing pieces of all.

I will do this again. It was as one woman shared “I just couldn’t get enough of the stories!”

Celebration of Women

Once again the fullness of life has kept me away from posting. So much has been happening in my life – all of it good and I feel so blessed. Saturday was my commencement ceremony at TPAC – and it was really wonderful. I am so glad I chose to participate. The reality of my degree completion at last feels concrete.
Sunday I hosted Nashville’s first Global Culture of Women’s Story Spiral. It was amazing, and I hope to post more about that soon. But for now, this video in another space and time speaks volumes for the feelings that night evoked.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Celebration of Women“, posted with vodpod