Monday, April 21, 2014

Tick-Tock

It's race week, and it started off with an incident-free Boston Marathon.  I wasn't upset not to be there, but of course it brings up all the ghosts of last year's attempt to qualify, which ended with an ambulance ride to the finish line.  I sure don't want to do that again.

I'm still fine-tuning my strategy.  I will not be shooting for a Boston-qualifying time, despite the fact that all the pace calculators say I have it in me.  (If I'm completely honest, though, I do dream about a miracle that floats me through the 26.2 miles effortlessly in less than 4 hours.  I really didn't expect this... I'd like to thank my Coach...)  Realistically, I think I'll start off in my friend's 4:25 pace group and force myself to take the first few miles closer to my training pace.  I'm comfortable there, and I'm pretty sure I can manage at that speed, barring some awful calamity.  If I get a burst of energy, I can always change the plan and go faster.  I sure hope I don't have to go slower.  But how fast and at what time do I make the shift if there is to be one?  

My first goal is to finish in one piece.  My second is to do it as quickly as possible.  I want to push enough to feel proud of myself, but not enough to hate it.  

The precision is valuable when trying to prepare my head for the race.  It takes the stress out of making decisions on the fly.  But listening to my body, I've found, is a less stressful way to run.  And wanting something - shooting for a goal - is the passionate fire that fuels my tired body along the way.

And that is why I remain fascinated with this long-distance running thing.  It requires the teamwork of my body, mind and spirit.  When they all fight against each other, or when I ignore one for the sake of the others, it doesn't work.  The magic is in the trinity.  

I am looking forward to this one.  It's been a tough training year, and I'm ready to see what I can do.  Breaking 4:30 will make me happy.  I think.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Let it be Love




Easter Sunday.  

I started the day with an 8-mile slow run through the Spring countryside with turned fields and blossoms galore.  The local apple orchard presented its annual plethora of yellow daffodils that line the streets like a crowd waiting for an Easter parade.  Clumps of forsythia scattered throughout the farm added to the sea of bright yellow happiness.  The scents of hyacinths and magnolias perfumed the air, and redbuds and pear blossoms displayed a delicate show of fragile blooms against the greening grass and still barren woods.  

Spring has sprung.

The run felt great, and I did my best to hold my legs back from charging ahead with all the pent-up energy from my recent taper weeks.  Life is good.  I am happy.

I thought about Easter as I passed car after car of people on their way to churches and the homes of family and friends.  What do I think?  At this stage of the game, it's mostly about pastel colors and chocolate - it's a harbinger of Spring.  While I embrace the sacred songs and practices of my youth, I no longer celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of an ancient teacher.  Instead, I celebrate the lessons he taught, and by his own admission the greatest of them was about Loving.  

It's surprising and unsettling to me that we've made such a business of glorifying a man's death on a cross.  But then to tout it as some sacrifice he made for me to atone for all my sins really just leaves me shaking my head.  He died because some men killed him.  He didn't have superpowers.  He was a man - just a man.  He was the son of god as I am the daughter of god.  

I believe the body is important as we live out our lives on Earth.  How else would we carry around our souls?  But more than a simple vessel, our bodies are made of Life and Love itself.  Our cells carry the history of those before us and the future mappings of those we help create.  Everything we touch, smell, taste, see, and hear affects us and can either assist our spiritual growth or stunt it.  Our bodies give us feedback - every single day.  Sometimes, when we don't listen, they scream at us. 

How could the punishment and torture of another person's body forgive my wrongs and save my life?  No.  It was his life, not his death that changed me.  It was all the stories where he tried to teach the stupid people how stupid they were, but they just kept being stupid.  That's what changed my life.  He was really very clear, but no one was ready to hear what he had to say.  And most people today still don't hear it - they miss the point completely and sing songs about his death - celebrate his death - and wear symbols of his death around their necks like some lucky charm that will protect them from harm.  They pretend to eat his body and drink his blood.  They give up something they love for 40 days as some offering of their religious piety.  It disturbs me.  I don't think Jesus would give a shit about eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

It seems no different from the crazy rituals of ancient civilizations like the Vikings.  

Jesus taught us to Love.  He said nothing of sacrifice.  

Just Love.  Love is everything.  If anything is going to rise again, let it be Love.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

All In

Small bets aren't too uncomfortable.  It's not hard to sacrifice a chip or two when you're hoarding the rest of the pile.  But the payoff is small, too.

When you have a larger investment, you start to pay attention.  You might feel anxious or your stomach might get tight while you wait to see what happens next.  It's nerve-wracking, and if you lose, it hurts.  But you still get to walk away with whatever you have left.

But when you decide to go all in - when you give all that you have for the sake of one hand - it's almost a relief.  You know for certain that you will either walk away empty-handed or win big.  There is no in-between.  No comfort cushion.  It's all out there.  

I'm all in.  

And I think I've already won the prize. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Just a Dream

It's always hard to come down from a beautiful dream, especially when you really just want to live there happily ever after.  Thank goodness my reality is pretty dreamy.

Every time I dream it, I fall in love all over again - more deeply and more wonderfully than before.  It's a beautiful life that floats on clouds and has a fuzzy filter that softens all the edges and makes everything look heavenly.  Life is easy in my dream.

Every meal is a divine experience.  Eating with Love is so very satisfying and delicious, leaving me comfortably full and well-nourished.  Food is no longer my enemy in my dream.

Every breath is grateful.  I can't believe I'm such a lucky Cinderella.

Every kiss is magic.  I feel loved down to my bones.

Every adventure is memorable.  Nothing scares me.  I am safe.

And my happiness escalates to a place that most people will never know or understand.

I hope I dream the dream a million times before I die, because heaven will surely be a disappointing follow-up.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Life After Death

Yesterday's 20-mile run both invigorated me and squeezed out every ounce of energy I had.  I lived and died in those 3 1/2 hours.

The first 13 miles were golden.  My legs flew faster than they should have, but I allowed it because of the freedom and confidence it brought to my soul.  I am ready to face this race.  I was lit up inside with all the love my heart could hold, and the run was a celebration of life and love and everything good. 

I drank in the nature around me.  Yellow daffodils with heads still bowed waited gracefully for their day in the sun.  The earth looked antsy to be turned and planted and I guess it longs to bring new life into the world.  Swollen creek beds... quiet country roads... an occasional cyclist who gave a brief head nod, respectfully acknowledging our likemindedness and dedication to our sports.

The 3,048 feet of elevation thrilled me and tore up my legs after awhile, so that by mile 18 I felt that familiar tug in my groin and my pelvic floor felt like it was going to give way with my next step leaving my guts in a pile in the street.  I rationed my water and worried it wouldn't be enough.  The cloudless sky held a strong sun that beat down upon my head and reminded me how much I hate running in the sun.  

I fantasized.  I dreamed.  I plotted.  I imagined the marathon course and I visualized conquering it.  I was elated.  I was discouraged.  I was everything in this run.  

I thought about sex and love and the history of my life until now.  I thought about the last 10 years and how I went from complete misery to a blissful, loving, trusting, exceedingly happy life without a system, without a plan - with only my heart, my desire for Love, and a willingness to survive until I was capable of living. 

From death, springs life.  As it is with the barren farmlands, so goes my soul.  


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Quickie

Today was a very good day.  

I slept in, after dreaming about running this morning's 5k and forgetting it was a race.  I then raced the real race and I was pretty happy with the results.  

Some primping appointments and one-on-one time with a couple of the kids, and today felt like it was a week long. 

Now here I am, snuggled in for the night on the eve of my last 20-mile training run before the big day.  I love this shit. 

Happy, happy.  

I'm a happy princess. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dare to Live

Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don't exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever it may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.     ~ Dr. BrenĂ© Brown

I had a divine long run in the pouring rain today that opened my heart, and it's no accident that after I showered and snuggled in I tuned in to Oprah's life class with Dr. Brené Brown on the topic of vulnerability.

This woman gets it.

This is part of my story I've been trying to tell.

I spent years - decades - of my life suiting up with all kinds of armor to protect myself from being hurt.  And I was hurt a lot, though I am not unique in that regard.

My biggest gift of late is having someone in my life who is safe - someone with whom I can drop the bravado and truly be myself.  It hasn't been easy.  In the beginning, my voice would shake and I stuttered when I tried to open up with this person.  I was terrified.  And I got scared - a lot.  My head would start racing through all kinds of potential scenarios - all of which ended badly for me.  I what-iffed myself into craziness.

I can say with certainty, every time I remove a piece of my armor and become vulnerable (and it is a process - I did not drop everything in a big pile on day one) my heart opens bigger and wider and I experience more joy than I ever dreamed possible.

It has been an extraordinary experience.

The running has been a physical manifestation of this very same idea - that Love comes when I become brave.  Love comes when I face the road before me with courage and try something I've never done before or that scares me half to death.  And every time I do that which I thought I could not - and live through it, my soul comes alive.

Vulnerability.  It's a good thing.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Magic

The waves wash over me and pull me down under until I can barely breathe.  I'm drowning in happiness and I've never felt so alive.  Is it ever too much?  Can you choke to death from joy that squeezes every last drop of sadness from you, leaving nothing but exhilaration and a pounding heart? 

Perhaps it is like running long...  All the hurt and pain and cynicism disappears with every exhale and with every gulp of fresh air my life is restored.  And in the end, I'm exhausted, but I live.  And so I go back again and again - for the long run - because it's never boring and I am addicted to the happiness it brings to me.  

All the things I thought I needed to be happy were just someone else's movie scripts.  The truth is that it defies all explanation and reason.  Happy is as happy does.  Simple kindness.  Smiling eyes.  Vulnerability.  Open hearts.  And lots of magic pixie dust.     



You Can Do Magic
America

I never believed in things that I couldn't see
I said if I can't feel it then how can it be
No, no magic could happen to me
And then I saw you

I couldn't believe it, you took my heart
I couldn't retrieve it, said to myself
What's it all about
Now I know there can be no doubt

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo ...

And when the rain is beatin' upon the window pane
And when the night it gets so cold, when I can't sleep
Again you come to me
I hold you tight, the rain disappears
Who would believe it
With a word you dry my tears

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo ...

And If I wanted to
I could never be free
I never believed it was true
But now it's so clear to me

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You're the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo ...

You're the one who can put out the fire
You're the one who can put out the fire
You're the one who can put out the fire ...

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Gladiator

I long to be ravaged by a gladiator with starving eyes and a fire that burns hot beneath his armor.  

I want the very best gladiator - the leader - the one most admired.  I want the most brilliant mind and the warrior who knows that his deftest sword-swinging skills are fueled by the passion in his heart and not by his bulging muscles alone.

I want the man who makes me feel completely safe - the one who would move the earth to rescue me from harm.  I can let go of being careful and fall freely... down, down... into his arms where I kiss him madly until we both come up gasping for a breath.  

And his eyes speak to me without a sound, and this legendary hero sends my heart beating into a rapturous melody unknown to souls this side of heaven.  

His strength engulfs me and both of us fall under the magic that entangles hearts and causes two bodies to devour each other, pressing flesh against flesh until there are no spaces between them.  

I want this gladiator wildly.  My chest aches from the longing to touch his skin and for him to put his hands on mine.  I want to be held and kissed and touched everywhere that can be reached.  

I want to be drunk with happiness and with wine and with a full heart.  

I want this gladiator to exhaust me, and I him.  I want to love him until neither of us can move and then do it again.  And again.  And again.

And again.

And I want to lie still with him and feel everything there is to feel.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Run On... Be Still

Anyone who runs long distances can tell you that we get an awful lot of concerned questions and probably a lot of sarcastic sympathy for our crazy, fucked up obsession.  And still, we run.

What do I have to prove?  It's not about proving anything.  It's about being my best me - only for me.  It's about trying my hardest.  It's about not being careful.  It's about facing a challenge square in the face and doing it.  I don't have to be measured by anyone's standards but my own, and even those can change with my mood.  I don't have to win the race, I just have to win my race.  (But placing in my age group totally rocks.)

What if I get hurt?  So far, so good.  I think I'm more likely to end up in a hospital from sitting on my ass too much than from running too far.  And if I did, by chance, end this life because of a run, you could not blame the run for my death, but credit it for my living.  

Don't I get bored?  I have never - ever - been bored on a run.  Running makes me feel.  Running breathes life into my soul and reminds me I'm not dead yet.  I've felt like I was dying; I've felt like I was flying.  But never bored.  Nope.

I must be addicted to exercise - that's not good.  Okay, maybe I am.  Aren't there worse addictions to have?  I am addicted, not to the running itself, but to the joy of the run.  I am addicted to the connection I feel to the earth and to the energy that it returns to me.  I am addicted to the opening of my heart and to the letting go of everything I hold too tightly.  I am addicted to the inevitable pain that yanks my wandering mind immediately back to the present moment and connects my head to my body.  In those moments - those brief clips of time - I experience the mysterious holy trinity connecting my parts with the language of Love that cannot be explained but must be lived to know and understand it.

Like Mr. Gump, I suppose I'll know when I'm done running, and not before.  Until then, I'll just keep going.

I'm neither running away from my past nor running towards an unknown future.  I'm running to quiet the din inside of me so I can listen to the world around me.  And I'm running to silence the world so I can find my own voice.  

I'm running... to be still.