Breathing Room

I ran this morning until it hurt. Perhaps I was inspired by my work colleague, M. whom I met on the trail somewhere after the 1 mile mark. She was heading North to Dunedin on a 30 mile run. We spoke at length about life as it is and the need for running. How we write lesson plans, letters, solve problems, and create new ideas as our feet guide us to known and often unknown destinations. Her goal inspired me to run further after a week of not running at all.  It was completely unplanned; I surely had plenty of time-more time than usual last week to get in lots of running. Yet, I found myself letting things unfold. Yoga and chakra meditation really called my name. The weather was cool-very cool and windy- and I welcomed the chance for a hoodie and windbreaker to walk in on Spring Break.

Spending time with myself and loved ones down here was the goal. My stepdaughter and I enjoyed lunch and long walks and big talks together; we grew closer than ever. Emily was down for a family obligation and managed to drive the extra 115 miles to see where I live, accompanied by lovely Lillian, her daughter. Her mid-week visit filled my soul and ironically, made me feel more grounded here. Showing her and Lillian the sights of St. Petersburg was truly a thrill.

Mountain Women on the city streets!

On Friday, I spent the morning walking the beach at Indian Shores, listening and looking. Seashore treasures abounded:

 

Peace was at hand at hand-at least for a little while.                                                                                                                                                     

Saturday dawned and we headed for a run on St. Pete Beach, where my father lives. He thought only my husband would be out and said I was a “good  surprise” so early in the morning. I decided to walk and talk with him. Simply wonderful! Later in the day, we joined him and others at a waterfront joint, enjoying the turquoise water,  slow-moving boats and surfacing dolphins. We celebrated a traditional New England St. Patrick’s Day dinner that night at our house.

Still, the specter of insecurity persists, seeping into conversations in the midst of sunshine and laughter. I continue to resist, shining my own light, becoming the change I wish to see.

 

 

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Respite

Image result for respite in nature

Image courtesy of: QuotesGram

 

This morning the park is quiet, gray and green

Last night’s cooling rains have tamped down the heated energy of the universe

I am soothed by the lack of searing light

Today I will rejoice in the unfolding

 Allow myself to pause

breath  and meditate

create and love

move forward

keeping my eyes on the prize

And let the winds carry my cares away

 

I am honoring a request from Tasmania (whose comment I read this morning and accidentally trashed; please forgive me :).   This poem is total stream of consciousness.  Thank you for reminding me of my other creative gifts.

The Gift of Time

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Image Courtesy of: www.pinterest.com

How many of us awaken unconscious and unaware, deluged by the usual daily dread of work, caring for ourselves or loved ones or besieged by other obligations that pull at our energies before our feet have yet to hit the floor? I imagine many of you feel this way constantly, or at least from time to time-because really, who hasn’t?

We are only reminded of how fragile time is when a sudden illness or death or when Mother Nature’s fury unleashes herself on us, halting our daily routine in its tracks and-at its worst- upending our life for a long period of time.

I have often written about staying present, mostly when I am aware of being on the verge of a major life transition. During this juncture, I want to capture every moment, knowing that it will soon become just a memory. Then, when my life becomes more ordered and wrapped in routine, I quickly forget to take things in and savor what’s right in front of me, even if it’s not particularly exciting or positive-like being stuck in traffic at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.

Of course, I am not advocating that you should rejoice when you’re in gridlock; I remember being aware of how much time was wasting away during the 65 minutes it took me to get to my destination on Tuesday and how angry it was making me!

Then Hermine began to whisper in our ear Wednesday, staying well into Friday afternoon. Schools were closed; thus giving me an unplanned five-day weekend. I had much to do; the start of any school year is always overwhelming. The days fly by and there is truly never enough time in a work day to keep organized and plan ahead.  Much is left to be done after hours.

I recall waking up Thursday in a state of agitation. My thoughts were scattered. Speed work had been cancelled the previous morning due to thunderstorms. But early Thursday arrived with what was to be a brief respite. I knew a good workout would begin to clear my head. Sure enough, it was exactly what I needed! Not long into the run, I looked up and saw a great blue heron, my steady animal sign that reminds me to be patient. I saw still another wading at the edge of a verdant pool in someone’s front yard. I sent out a prayer of gratefulness to the universe; this is exactly what I needed to be doing!  My restless night and worries sloughed away.

While it is important to keep the boundaries of home and work separate, I felt as if Thursday and Friday were unexpected presents-not only to relax- but to gather myself a bit, work wise. I slowly began to check off the tasks that had been stuck in my head overnight. The sense of urgency disappeared; my mind was clear and a weight was lifting.

I write this not as a reminder to be constantly productive but as mental cairn to be open to moments that point us in the right direction. The signs are always revealing themselves; we just need to pause, take a breath and look around.

(This image was taken by me a month ago. However, the post and the image were also inspired by Emily.  She was out on a local hike up north yesterday and she texted me this message: “Just saw 2 blue herons flying at Weir Hill. Cool breezes, warm sun, blue sky. It’s my church today. Peace, sister.”)

 

Speedwork Under a Full Moon

                                   Image courtesy of:

https://hrexach.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/moonbless.gif

Rising in the early morning dark has its benefits. When I set out in the humid air this morning, I was blessed to see the full Sturgeon moon. Since moving here, I don’t think I have really see one in all its glory until today.  I was lucky enough to have a regular monthly siting when I lived up North. Less artificial light and a more rural setting really spoiled me in that regard. The whole house would light up and I often would go outside for a little while just to look. In fact, the boys and I even went “owling” in the deep woods on a frigid and snow-filled January night. We had no need for flashlights to guide us. Incredible memory!

Forgive me, I digress…. Recently, I have felt much like the sturgeon itself, at least when it comes to running. I feel ancient, that’s for sure, but certainly not threatened or endangered as these unique fish once were. Still, I was in need of a comeback, much like them. I needed to take action. Yet, somehow I lacked the motivation to do it all by myself. So, imagine my delight when just 3 weeks ago, I came upon a group of people doing speedwork just one mile from my house! I was even more excited when they invited me to join them the following week. It turns out that the guy who coaches the group lives in the apartment complex next to my house and works at the running store where I buy my shoes! I have 2 weeks under my belt, and while getting up @ 4:30 to be ready for a 5:30 run is not everyone’s idea of fun, I really look forward to it. Today I was asked if I have a next race. I don’t. My goal is to get out of my running rut and feel better about myself and my body. If the work reveals a race to me, I’ll go with it. Right now, I’m just happy to be in the peace of the morning with just the moon as my guide.

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the Spark

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How do we make the most of the life we are presently given? How do we keep the wolves of work at bay when we enter the haven of home? Where do we find daily peace of mind?

For me, August is one long Sunday night. The anticipation of a new school year looms everywhere even if you’re neither a teacher nor a student. We are all gearing up for the busyness and the changes we know these next few weeks will bring. Our heads are full. We are standing on the cliff’s edge trying not to slip and fall because we are just shy of becoming overwhelmed.

In this mindset, it is easy to forget the gifts of the previous season. If you’re lucky enough, you may have spent some time away recharging your batteries and renewing relationships. You may even have gone on an adventure of a lifetime.

So why is this very quickly forgotten? Why are we allowing ourselves to get caught in the trap of not “getting enough things done” at home or at work?  Yes, yes, of course we all have to be grown-ups and be responsible for ourselves and others. Yet, what gets lost in the translation is Joy.We approach the sometimes drudgery-filled daily to-do list with dread instead. I say save your dread for those things that may require it! By this I mean things that are literally related to your health and well-being. And even then, do not let those destructive demons destroy the joy that lives in your heart.

Lately, I am hearing lots of news about loss. People I know and care about are living with heartache. It’s an awful place to be. Most of the time there are no words of comfort we can offer. We can listen. We can show up. But more importantly, we can remember what we have and appreciate it once again.

We are given a chance every day to embrace our time here on Mother Earth. We cannot take it for granted. Some of it will be a struggle. Some of it will be nothing more than the daily grind. But whatever it may be, we must always allow for even the tiniest pinprick of light to shine upon us.

I write this as a reminder to myself; I am simply human, a person like others who at one point was very broken and is now more whole. At the same time, I  know I still have work to do; there are relationships out there that are fractured. The roads to reconciliation have yet to reveal themselves. I remain-as always-hopeful that the fog will clear and the healing can begin.

Today and every day, go out and do at least  one thing that fills your spirit and lifts you up. It may change your life.

Image courtesy of: www.pinterest.com

Dew Point 76

 

Photo Courtesy of: dailyburn.com

Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet

.Doris Brown Heritage

Early Saturday morning, my husband returned from a short run and said “Take it slow and walk before you have to.”  I packed my gummies in my back shorts pocket, took the icy water bottle from the freezer and made may way out for an 11 mile run. The air was thick and the trail was still.   The usual weekend warriors were out-none exhibiting their usual speed of feet nor swiftness of wheels. It was not hard to hold back. I let my mind wander as I dodged other walkers or runners. We  whispered “Good morning” to one another or simply smiled, nodding ‘hello’. This was work. At the 4 and 1/2 mile mark, I stopped, following my husband’s advice. My legs were just this side of tired. Heat has a way of making all parts of your body feel heavier. Even your breathing. Each intake feels as if I’m rowing, pulling through water. I resumed running, passing by a homeless man soundly sleeping on a park bench.  Rounding the bend, through the underpass, I noticed the newest street art- gorgeous murals covering the extra wide posts in brilliant reds and yellows. I was nearing the turn around point. A small part of me wanted to push myself further but I knew the long slog back would be a challenge to say the least.

I don’t recall how many more times I stopped to walk. I remember developing a strategy, however. Run up all overpasses and run all away across the long bayou. I made the overpasses but stopped short on the bayou, in need of gummies and the last of my water. The campground on the east side of the trail allowed me to replenish my water bottle before heading further north.  I made myself move-not propel-just lift my legs through Blossom Lake Park and towards another overpass.

The shade provided zero relief.  The breeze was non-existent. At this point, all I could do was talk myself into running from one point to another. The split in the trail. The telephone pole. The couple walking side by side.

I noticed my shoes were soaked and my shorts and shirt clung to me like a wet bathing suit. Everything was dripping from my body. Beads of sweat were flying into the air. I was out of water again. The last leg of this soggy session was upon me, though.  A walk through the park behind my house and then a short jaunt down my street brought me to my doorstep.

My body has had a tough time adjusting to this climate. So training for our upcoming half-marathon in July has been awful. Actually, I told my husband on Thursday night (after completely our weekly bridge repeats and, again needing to walk), that this will go down as the suckiest preparation of my running life.

Lucky for me, my husband is quite positive and consistently encouraging despite my complaining and near apathy about this whole process. He reminds me that I’m still out there doing it. And my father says all this heat will only help when we get up to the mountains of Vermont. I hope so!

It’s easy to make excuses NOT to do something or even to set goals. But I know the reward is coming. The journey continues.

 

 

 

Once and Now

Credit: acelebrationofwomen.org

Once cowering, a wallflower at a junior high dance

Now prancing, a thoroughbred fresh from a sweet victory lap

Once previewed and reviewed through the warped lens of  snide criticism

Now judged in the reflection of the mirror born of her own making

Once held back by the selfish needs of another

Now setting her own pace, advancing audaciously to meet her own desires

Out of the shadows

Into the light…

 

Day 18. Started the first two line this morning and got a bit stuck. Then I read Mark’s post over at Maleko’s Art.  His piece was all I needed to help me finish.

This is once again dedicated to all of you experiencing any form of abuse or working your way out of the situation. Man, woman, child. It doesn’t matter. You deserve your own life.