Category: wonder

Without inTent

I’m floating on a river somewhere between what I’ve known and something I can’t quite envision, nor articulate.

The tent went with the sale of our house back in August; so I’m without a tent and without intent. I don’t have epic goals. I’m not chasing any PRs.  I’m not signed up for races.
There’s part of me that feels like I need to get something legit on the books ASAP. Races are filling up. My feed is a flutter with New Year goals.
But in my heart I’m more like, “epic…? ”  meh.

It’s a wonky space. I know myself when I’m setting ambitious race goals and ticking off days on a training plan, with a certain degree of intensity. This is just air.

On the personal growth side, living in this adrift / unintentional state, is making me more comfortable with ambiguity, in general, and better at spotting subtle gifts hidden in not knowing. My patience and trust have been exercised a lot more and have grown stronger. I’ve learned that I can pretty quickly alleviate most of my self-induced mental churn stress by taking myself outside and doing almost anything.  And I can now, with some consistency, practice breathing and sitting.  (total badass!)

Amidst these unimposing, very basic things, I feel change rumbling inside. I’m certain it’s germinating and it’s likely to be also quite ordinary, but lovely, too, I hope.

(Oh, and on the topic of change, it feels like time to find a new title for this site…)

Trust, the Process

My parents will vouch for me, since I was little, I’ve always hated running out.

m&m'sAs a kid, I strictly rationed Halloween candy to myself, so I could make it last until the following Halloween. I could make a small bag of m & m’s last a month. And I was often teased about the pride I felt for my stashes of whatever, while everyone else, especially my younger brother, had enthusiastically consumed their shares. My pride was often misunderstood as gloating for others’ loss, but it was never about anyone else’s shares. It was always about conserving mine.

These are the realizations that pop into my head on a long run.

This morning,  a 1 hour 40 minute run was in my training plan; the first hour in HR zone 2, the last 40 min in zone 3. This was different from the usually prescribed zone 2, negative split long run. Not drastically different, but enough that I got to learn about myself (again).

Starting out, I gave myself the first 15 minutes to work up to zone 2. And then I was on a decline, so I enjoyed a few more minutes in high zone 1 before reluctantly venturing in low zone 2. It wasn’t the effort that felt daunting, it was the pace. As I continued along in the low 2s, my pace started dropping to a pace I was afraid I couldn’t sustain for the full workout. After a little mental wrestling, I decided I trusted my coach. She wasn’t going to just put a workout on the plan that I couldn’t do. Pace didn’t matter, just time and effort. So, I’d carry. And trust.

My stomach flipped a little each time I looked at my watch and saw the pace. And then I’d think,”trust.” This happened every few minutes of the run; like Groundhog Day. And it got me thinking about what I was so afraid of: bonking. I’d never bonked before. But of course not, I conserve and save my energy, just in case. I’d hate to run out. And as I repeated my new mantra, “trust”, I had a premonition of how useful it might be to have this trust in my coach, especially if I was heading out of my conservation comfort zone.

Of course, kicking things up to zone 3 for the last 40 min only heightened my fear of running out. But I did trust my coach. And I imagined that she saw that I was capable of more than I was afraid I wasn’t capable of. (I also imagined that she had no idea that this was going to be such a mental challenge for me and that it wasn’t actually a big deal to her at all) In any case, I kicked it up to zone 3. OK, just barely…maybe 3.1, but technically in zone 3.

So, my results: 1. I didn’t run out of anything or bonk; 2. My pace was faster than I would have let myself run; 3. After the run, I spent several minutes worrying this was too fast for a long run and something bad was going to happen; 4. I returned to the mental state of trusting my coach; and 5. I feel certain that this trust will be useful and will require a lot of practice.

Rogue One, Too

Will and I saw Rogue One on opening weekend. (This has nothing to do with the plot.)

I’ve been thinking how nice it is to have a strong female hero that I can relate to. My life in no way parallels Jyn Erso’s. I certainly don’t posses her galactic talents or survival skills, but still.

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Wonder Woman and Lynda Carter. I loved her, but there were so many things about her that were just so unattainable for me. Seriously, there was no way in hell I could’ve run after any bad guys in high-heeled boots.  I would’ve been constantly picking gravel out of my amazonian knees.  And a wonder bustiere?  How was this ever useful? My boobs would have been flying out all over the place! Every scene of me in the invisible jet would’ve been tucking things back into their holders , picking gravel, and searching for a pony tail holder.

It’s just fantastic to have a female hero in pants.  Oh, and a jacket and a scarf when the temperature of a given planet’s atmosphere necessitates.  And footwear, practical footwear. I imagine she even had some great warm socks. I love this Jyn!

New England Spring

Spring in New EnglandOof! Spring forward? I don’t think so. Feels like backwards…

Last weekend was daylight savings. I don’t really love losing an hour of my weekend, but for more daylight, sure, I can manage it because I love the idea of daylight savings and spring. Moving daylight savings earlier to March, sounds awesome, right?-  who couldn’t love the idea of more daylight sooner?!

Well, it’s messing me up! Moving the hour of daylight, that used to be in the morning, to the end of the day is much more mentally problematic now that early mornings are supposed to be used for the first workout of the day.

I’m a pretty annoying morning person by nature, but I can barely muster 5am wake up for the pool. All winter long I’ve diligently tiptoed through the dark house and just recently felt so hopeful as the morning skies began to show hints of light streaks. Now it’s just SO dark again. The glimpses of the light at the end of the winter tunnel have made this darkness thicker and harder to sludge through.

Then there’s the other end of the day… Sure more daylight is awesome, but it’s so sneaky. More light = more play and family dinners are started terribly late, often the kids barely finish before their bedtime. Falling asleep is nearly impossible. I’ve seen weeknight times of 9:30, even replied to a text message at 10:00! It’s like I’m turning into a night owl or something. (which makes the morning’s darkness even darker and sludgier.)

Snow on lilac budsOf course there was the glorious weather that coincided with the time change…not! After many days in the high 50s and outdoor rides on the road, the first week of daylight savings was back to the 40s with freezing cold nights and mornings (again, making morning even darker). These temperatures weren’t even daunting a few weeks ago, but with all the warm weather, it feels like the wrong direction. I don’t want to go back to winter!

And now the First Day of Spring, we have snow. Snow. Shovelable, plowable snow. But we’ve run the gas out of our snowblowers and stored them away! We’ve moved the snow shovels behind the rakes! The bags of mulch are piled up at the stores! My kids aren’t even hoping for a snow day! We’re done with winter – we’ve sprung forward!  No??

Sigh. New England Spring.

Snowy daffodilsI’m sure the daffodils survive their snowy blankets – I’m sure we all will, but  not without a little whining and maybe a temper tantrum or two.


The Original Badass Betty

At 5:30 in the morning, small talk doesn’t flow easily. It can take years to get to know your poolmates, one incoherent sentence at a time. But over time friendships are made, your tribe expands, and you sometimes find inspiration in people who were once strangers.

The Original Badass BettyBetty Weaver is one of these inspirational forces (not just because of her name). Betty’s a feisty 89 years old. She’s been a pool regular long before I joined. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30am, she’s at the pool with her duffle bag ready to swim, almost without exception.

As with most of my heroes her accomplishments are many, but her attitude is what I find most remarkable.

She makes all of her own swimsuits. (I didn’t even know this was possible) Most days she climbs in and out of the pool on her own and on days when her back is bad, she uses the chair. She doesn’t love this, but it’s better than not swimming. Once she’s in, she swims laps in the first lane for 45 minutes.

Once in a while, not very often, she has falls. When she gets up – on her own or with help – she’s usually laughing and calling herself silly. She claims that she’s getting better at falling, because mostly she falls forward, which is much better than backward and bumping her head.

When she was 74, she started collecting swimming medals at the Senior Olympics. (She notes that she would’ve started a year earlier, but her daughter had scheduled her for a white water rafting trip) She’ll joyfully tell you that her secret to winning is outliving her competition. And if you stay on the topic long enough, you might learn that last summer, she gave her medal away to another senior athlete who hadn’t won a medal before.

She’s always been an independent spirit.  When she was 2 her favorite thing to say was “I do it, myself.” She had her own role model for aging happily; a friend who lived to 103. Despite losing most of her sight,  wearing uncomfortable braces because of her horribly arthritic legs, and developing mouth cancer in her late 90s which forced her to eat baby food until she died, she was always happy and had a great attitude about life. “She took things as they came and made the best of what she had. She smiled all the time and was so nice.”

When I see Betty in the morning, I always hope I can be just like her. I told her so once and she sloughed off the compliment and broke her strategy down to the most simple process…

“When I wake up in the morning and I check to see what still moves. Whatever’s still moving, I move it as much as possible that day.”

Simple. And then she smiles and laughs.

Betty’s one of the biggest benefits of early morning swimming. Her smile is as inspirational as her discipline. She provides the most colorful commentary about my Betty Designs swimsuits; seeing her name everywhere and having her own team delights her. She’s  especially silly when it says “badass” on the butt.

Me and Betty WeaverMy Betty Teammates and I decided that Betty really is an original and should have some Betty gear, so we recently gave her a visor. She loved it! But the next time I saw her, she was concerned. She’d gone home and looked up what “badass” meant and it sounded awful to her – “someone who’s difficult to deal with and mean-tempered”. That didn’t sound good to her. I explained it was more of the “distinctively tough or powerful” part of the definition that we’re talking about. That she was OK with and was happy to be a badass again. 

Betty turns 90 in November. She warned that we better not do anything for her birthday. (She’s fighty, sometimes.) I think it would be impossible not to celebrate. Not just making it to 90, but for being a beautiful badass at 90 – and for the  wonderful possibility that we could be, too!

Still learning from Gram…

Running aloneEveryone has their own way of working through big life events. Me?  I run.
Not away…I just run until things make sense to me.

The other day, I woke up and realized I needed a run – a long run. I knew it would help me process Gram’s passing and sort out all of my thoughts. 20 minutes into the run, my worries about the confusing details of her funeral and estate subsided and I got back to just thinking about her. It was a relief to let go of the logistics for a while.

While I ran, I thought about how her caretakers had described her final day (Valentine’s Day). Her dementia prevented her from speaking, but she’d been happy that day. Like every day she dressed, ate real food, and interacted with people.

“She brushed her teeth.” She loved her water pick and would sometimes brush her teeth for 20 minutes in the morning, while in the shower. (Apparently she could make quite a mess) She’d been to the dentist, weeks before she died, and was noted to have an incredibly healthy mouth.

“She colored in her coloring books.” The big toddler crayons were the easiest for her to hold and she used them with great zeal. Her kitchen, where she sat the most, was covered with colorful pages of Disney characters and doe-eyed animals.

“She played ‘tennis’ and ‘golfed’.“ Tennis = volleying a big foam ball with badminton rackets.  Golf = whacking the big foam ball across the floor with the racket. Even though many of her basic functions were disappearing, her coordination and competitive spirit persisted.

“She biked a ¼ mile.” I hadn’t understood what this meant until I got to her house. Her caretakers had brought in a recumbent stationary bike and glued comfortable Velcro slippers to the pedals. She pedaled every day. When she was younger, I’d known her to ride horses, swim, and walk – never to ride a bike. So she had picked up cycling sometime in her early 90s. (So awesome) She biked a ¼ mile on her last day.

At the end of the day, she was exceptionally tired and incredibly weak and needed to be carried to bed. She slept peacefully, without pain that night. She died of natural causes at home, in her own bed, early the next morning. Exactly the way she had wanted to.

Her day sounded like a modified version of the days before dementia. She was very much a creature of habit (or disciplined, if you asked her). She had changed a lot, but she was still very much herself.

10 miles later, it felt like things made sense, like there were as they were supposed to be.