This Morning’s Rhythm

This morning I awoke about 4 am or so.  Stayed in bed until 4:45, doing my lazy woman’s I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed meditation (“thanks for my life, thanks for this breathe, thanks for these moments, thanks for another day  . . .  [ a drift into silence] . . . thanks for this silence”), giving myself another 45 minutes under the covers.

Pulled myself out of bed, remembering Rumi: “The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you, don’t go back to sleep.”  Okay, I’m up.  Barely.

Open the front door.  Smell the lilac.  Listen to the birds and bugs.  Watch the trees play in the morning light.  Put the herb garden on the patio.  Water and talk to them.

Chug a pot of yerba maté, made the night before so that I don’t have to think.

Check email.  The Universe, that is ‘Notes From The Universe,’ tells me in today’s note that “There was a time in the life of every hero, champion, master, and tycoon, when they said to themselves,’I will not wait any longer.'”   Yes, that’s it.  Just do it.  The note’s better than the yerba maté, I’m feeling awake now.  Believe.

Meditate.

Write in my journal.  Ask about having my self-imposed limitations dissolve, quickly and permanently.  “Maya Angelou inspired confidence, in my way and my time,” I write.

Make another pot of yerba maté, for when I come home.

Wash my face.  Brush my teeth.  Throw on my sweats and sneakers for today’s excursion.  New route the past two weeks.  The hills are more arduous than the ones I conquered in April, and I am loving this route more.  The first 15 minutes are a fierce, unforgiving incline.  I’ve nicknamed it “Everest.”  The views at the top are breathtaking, and my reward: a vista overlooking a valley of flourishing woodlands, and a panoramic view of The White Mountains’ outer edges.  Only 4.2 miles today, 2.1 to the main road and back.  The 5.4 loop tomorrow.  Listen to Gould on the iPod.  Listen to affirmations.  Listen to the trees and the birds and the brooks and nature.  Listen.

Back into the village.  See my little friend, who waves and says my name with a sparkling smile.

Home.  Check phone messages.  Check email.

Make a large salad: one fresh avocado processed with fresh lemon juice and salt, a package of baby arugula, a few raisins, a couple of chopped dates, a chopped gala apple.  Slowly devour in gratitude, while the stream and birds supply the meal’s background music.

Log into Facebook.  Stumble on an NPR article about 91-year-young Harriette Thompson who is a cancer survivor and just set a world record for a woman’s marathon time in her age group.  Remember this morning’s journal entry on dissolving limitations.  Synchronicity abounds.  Keep showing up.

Sit down.  Listen to the birds.  Smell the lilac.  Watch the light dance off the tree tops.  Write a brief blog post.  Think of the things on today’s list, some of which I see as challenging and unpleasant.

Not so much.  Attitude is everything.  Just ask Harriette Thompson.

Live life vividly.  V-I-V-I-D-L-Y, the word keeps making its way into my journal pages, highlighted, decoratively boxed, boldly scripted in greens, purples, pinks, reds.  Live vividly, or it’s just existing.  “Let everything else go,” I remind myself.  Harriette Thompson would no doubt smile if I told her about my problems, and I do so with her when I see them from a 91-year-old’s record-breaking finish line.  Vividly.  She seems to know about that topic.

This morning was like many mornings, but I wanted to chronicle today’s unique and beautiful rhythm, and I wanted to remind myself that “when I get over that finish line, that’s the best part.”

 

[http://youtu.be/5vlGKyxl22M]

[This entry was originally sent to subscribers with Ms. Thompson’s first name misspelled.  The above reflects the correct spelling.]

 

 

 

 

6 Million Dollar Spirit

The spirit is larger than the body.  The body is pathetic compared to what we have inside us.  —  Diana Nyad

I still have a handful of posts that I’ve pieced together, but not finished — as usual, I’m trying to do too much in a single post, instead of just hammering out something somewhat entertaining and enjoyable.

But they are good posts, and will be completed.  Although there is a tension between writing them and working on the book, which is gaining momentum, to the exclusion of most everything.  But training.  And art.  Because the writing and the training and the art are all connected, informing each other in an inexplicable and mystical and creative dialogue that constantly amazes me.  It’s not me who does a lot of this.  I just show up.  The rest comes with time and practice.  I show up.  Stuff starts happening.

I just returned home from my best 5 mile time in too long, and I thought to post a quick entry on the joys of training.

This post on training is actually part of one of the other posts I am working on, but posting this sequel entry first seems to make sense, for reasons that may be clear, should you read both entries.

I didn’t realize until a month or so ago that I had accidently landed into a paradise for training.  My front steps lead to four different routes for biking, walking, or running.  As a local friend said to me, “I didn’t realize it until you brought it up, you really are in the best spot in this area for taking off on the roads, aren’t you.”   Four routes converge on my doorstep — the only place in this area that can boast such a wonderful fluke of circumstance.

It’s really extraordinary, yet another confluence that’s taken place in my life.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect portal to place myself for training, with the hills, the pines, the rivers, the lakes, the fresh air.  And there’s no fighting with cyclists or cars for the right of way — a bane of existence during my life in Cambridge.  The few drivers that pass me here are excessively courteous, slowing way down for the strange, foot bound humanoid that is less common in these parts than deer.

The joys of training.  One mile becomes two.  Two miles become three.  Three miles become five.  Every day, a little more.  Soon the challenging five miles is not only effortless, but invigorating.  Not just invigorating, but thrilling and nurturing.

Today, I not only did my best time, but I came home energized.  Some of the hills around here are steep and unforgiving, and today for the first time, every incline was skillfully managed by slowing down, breathing deeply, and letting the endorphins kick in.  No stops.  No feeling like I was going to puke.  No making the hill and then stopping for the breath, while telling myself I had just made the hill while stopped at the top and checking the monitor as an excuse to catch my breath.  Just concentrated effort.  And breathing.

Before today, some of these inclines have inspired not much more than an “oh shit, here we go” with an immediate heart rate spike, well past the safety zone.

Today, there was simply the joy of pushing through, maxing out my heart rate while pushing through and filling my lungs with fresh air.

That’s another joy.  The air here.  Having my lungs fill with this clean, pristine air.

I considered everything I have pushed through in the past few years, some of which I mentioned before, some of which comprises the entry that will follow this one, and I’ve often had the feeling like all the strength had been sapped from me.  But today’s easy 5 miles — soon to be 10 — reminded me how incredibly strong I am, how resilient and fortunate I am to be given everything I have been given.  Here’s a truth: just when we think we can’t make it, if we push through just a little more, practice patience with ourselves and with life, there we stand, edging closer to the person that we want to be.

This invigorating 5 miles, by the way, happened after a mild back injury last week, which I quickly recovered from thanks the miracles of the modern heating pad.

Injury is usually temporary.  Giving up is always fatal.

Today, by just showing up, there was inscrutable joy — the sound of the birds, the trees, my heart beating, the sound of my feet on the open roads, my lungs filling and feeling like they never have.  Thanks to the mountain air, deep breathing takes on a whole new meaning.  I was completely present and in the moment, and it was beautiful.  Everything sang in unison, and I was part of the choir — contralto, no doubt.

So I eased on home strong — cutting a full 15 minutes off of the times I previously clocked on this one route.

My heart rate’s been dropping fast during a cool down, indicating that I am building great cardio strength again.

Better.  Stronger.  Faster.

Never give up.  Humans are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe.

“Better.  Stronger.  Faster.”  Although I’d qualify that its the human spirit is the actual bionic powerhouse, for we simply follow our spirit’s lead:

 

Pictures of the Backyard

I’m currently painstakingly piecing together 3 essays for posting, have ideas for about a dozen more in the works, am jotting down story ideas, art journaling, making mandalas, getting the book proposal together, eeking out a marginal income, and I’ve started training, again.  Finally.  It took me almost a year to see that I was living in near perfect circumstances for training, but that’s another essay.

I took a few photos yesterday morning, because it’s really easy to quiet any arguments with one’s doubting, lazy self when the skies are perfectly blue, the hills sing, and the trees dance in quiet unison, and I thought to share that beauty, here.  No one around, rarely even a car.  Quite extraordinary.  Also, I wanted to provide proof that I really do live “in the middle of nowhere,” most of these views less than a half-a-mile from my doorstep.

I set out yesterday morning about seven-thirty or so in the morning.  The temperature was about 2 degrees, but it felt colder.  My eyes watered, the tears freezing by the time they hit my lower cheeks, the mucous in my nose started running like a river down my throat, and when I tried to spit it out, it congealed in the cold, hit my sweater and hair, and froze.  By the time I got home, the cotton handkerchief in my pocket subsequently used for spitting was a mangled, frozen, rock hard trophy of besting myself.

I felt like I had what it takes to be a hard core runner.  Moments like that, in solitude with frozen snotty spit on an old sweater, steamy breath, tight thighs that are resisting any stride, hills that challenge then release then challenge again, the early morning sun, and an open road, make believing easy and natural.

This is my backyard, a gift I’ve been given for I don’t know how long.  I hope you enjoy the views.

The river that's about 250 feet from my doorstep.  Photo taken from the bridge.
The river that’s about 250 feet from my doorstep.

 

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I’ve learned firsthand about the magic of talking trees.

 

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Snow and stillness.

 

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Music in silence.

 

Now here.
Now here.

 

“They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,
and yet they would not in despair retreat,
but oft to victory have tuned the lyre
and kindled hearts with legendary fire,
illuminating Now and dark Hath-been
with light of suns as yet by no man seen.”
— J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf