Life in Particular

Think...Feel...Be....BodyWise!

To live life sleeping is to live as feather, blown in the breeze.
To live life trusting is to live as eagle, peaceful above the fray.
To live life fearing is to live as coward, afraid of that which is not.
To live life embracing is to live as mother, alive to possibility.
To live life doubting is to live as beast, restless to roam.
To live life accepting is to live as child, carefree in bliss.
To live life striving is to live as competitor, stranger of idleness.
To live life dying is to live as divine, extravagant without end.
To live life loving is to live as fire, burning unconsumed.

Doesn’t everything die at last and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver

Particular

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Novel Days

Unprecedented, provocative, onerous…whoa this! These days are full of novelty for our generation. This is our collective reality, and it is frightening and unsettling for all peoples living on Earth under Heaven. Even so, I believe these times have provisioned us with an advantage if we might avail ourselves of it.

If during our collective time-out we endeavor to center and quite ourselves in genuine introspection and reflection, then perhaps we might see our way clear. For much will be required of us, in the days ahead, given our present circumstances. Whether we are able to grow, heal and move forward, together, peaceably, is our most urgent connumdrum. Might these novel days allow us to reconstruct our human relations for the better? Might we become our very own heros, and beakons of hope for the generations which follow behind us? Only the unfolding of the days ahead will inform whether this novel illness has made us better or worse for one another.

Perhaps the following insights and wisdom from some of our esteemed poets, authors, performers and spiritual leaders will provision and enlarge our thinking as we navigate these days of COVID-19.

There is nothing like calamity for refreshing the moment. Ironically, the last several years my life had begun to feel shapeless, like underwear with the elastic gone, the days down around my ankles. Now there is an intensity to the humblest things–buying paper towels, laundry detergent, dog food, keeping the household running in Rich’s absence. Shopping contains the future. As my daughter Jennifer says, shopping is hope. Abigail Thomas – A Three Dog Life

It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though limits to our abilities do not exist. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

What you learn is often determined by what you need to know. If you think you’re weak, you will learn that you are strong. If you think you are indestructible, you will learn that you are fragile. In the end though, you will learn that you are human. You are no more and no less than all those who are learning their lessons as you learn yours. John Bingham

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Eckhart Tolle 

We are often deluded by the idea that only big things can change the future. We feel overwhelmed by problems that demand impressive solutions, universal buy-ins, and large infusions of cash. We forget the power of simple acts of influence, of moments of compassion, of small stands for justice — how teachers, parents, friends, and even strangers can redirect the trajectory of history in a moment. If we truly believe that everything is connected, that we live in a sacred web, then every single action has influence over every other action. We are enormously powerful when we act to do what is good and beautiful and just — and in how we choose to react when something or someone threatens or shames us. Fr. Richard Rohr

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences — and all events are blessings given to us to learn from. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The most powerful weapon against adversity is having a sense of choice.  When we don’t have control, we lose the capacity to cope. We were born to choose, so let us learn how to do it. If we believe we have some degree of control over the outcome, then we are more likely to choose to persist, to find a way through whatever adversity we face. Steve Magness

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished…that will be the beginning. Louis L’Amour


The Ripple Effect

Think...Feel...Be....BodyWise!

The other day I came across a news item in Runner’s World had which told the story of one man’s determination to finish a 5K race every month in 2015. The story began with Derek Mitchell’s last place finish at the Kansas City Big 12 5K. Some folks might not be so keen to have this sort of story told about themselves. But for Derek Mitchell, he’s a man on the move…a man who currently weighs in around 570 pounds. He was tempted to quit before he completed the first mile, but he kept his mental focus on his goal…crossing the finish line.

Derek’s story reminded me of so many things that are important to keeping us on track when we set our sights on a future goal. But two things seemed most critical: practice (training) for the race event and having a support system (family, friends, peers). These two components…

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An Invitation to Revolution

A repost from February 2015

Think...Feel...Be....BodyWise!

Definition: revolution (n.) a sudden, complete or marked change in something

Whether or not we like it, growth (physical, mental, social, spiritual) requires revolution; a change in direction or movement or thought. There can be no progress, no creative flow, no gains in health or fitness without change. It is notable too, that all of creation, both visible and invisible, is designed to thrive in the realm of change. The seasons and their regular permeations support the growth cycles of all living things in the seas and on the land. Our bodies are best nourished when we eat those foods that grow in season; a diet limited in variation is a diet destined to promote disease and ill health.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new. Socrates

In the realm of education, business, and…

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DECIDE…TO…MOVE

Think...Feel...Be....BodyWise!

Living in a healthy, strong body does not happen by chance, but rather by choice. This is most honestly true if the body you are living in has celebrated at least 50 birthdays. If your current body is one of the 50+ year old models, do you regularly choose to move yourself in a way which might be construed as exercise? Do you walk, jog, lift weights, bike, dance, swim, go to a gym or fitness class at least once a day? If not, how about these activities: sweeping or vacuuming floors, washing dishes by hand; cleaning windows; gardening. Do not discount your household activities, they require bodily movement and as such, may be considered purposeful exercise for your body.

Whatever activities you do to move your body for well-being, the best fitness outcome will occur when you actively, mindfully move yourself every day. If not everyday, how about every other day? If you cannot or choose not to…

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Singing Solo for Awhile

These are difficult trying days brooding down upon us, and the irony of today’s calendar date is not lost on me: March 15…aye…beware the Ides of March! Indeed, there is much ado about everything in the news and media reports. I am certain that tomorrow’s reports will contintue to enlarge our wonders and our fears. As one of my choir friends wrote to me in an email today: “When C.L. notified us of the cancellation of our chorale concert, I new that the world was coming to an end!”

Oh the agony of betrayal…beware the Ides of March! It does seem so evident, does it not…that we, the children of earth, have been betrayed by nature; stripped naked, to our core; our bodily immunities vanquished to ground zero in the face of the novel virus.  Fire and brimstone seems our lot, sinners all in the hands of any angry god.

And yet of late, while temperatures across the globe have been rising, I have noticed here and there…quickinings…in the spheres above…in the souls upon…in the waters’ risings below…our sickness has been long in coming. We cannot separate nor cut our ties to our native beginnings. We belong to the earth and she to us. And still, I get the sense, in the quickening, that this scourge is not come to destroy us, but rather to refine…to purify. This plague of the winds has not come to forever harm, but to awaken the sleeping children of every nation. If only we might rouse ourselves and realize…Love has been in our midst all along…now it descends heavily upon us…threatening to lay us low…but everything is not as it seems.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
Sing.

– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM; March 13th 2020
(LOCKDOWN ~ an excert)

Six months ago I stumbled across a folk song well known by many, but novel to myself. It has quite a storied history and came into being around 1868. Upon hearing the poetry of the lyrics and its haunting melody, I was overcome with emotion to the point of tears. Six months ago I wanted to know why I had never heard this song in all of my 57 years. Today, these lyrics still move me greatly and I am grateful I found this music as it will surely be a balm to my soul in the days ahead. Perhaps you will find it likewise. How can I keep from singing? I most certainly cannot!

How Can I Keep From Singing
Lyrics sung by Audry Assad

My life flows on in endless song,
Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the sweet, though far-off hymn,
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes, the cloud grows thin,
I see the blue above it.
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart
A fountain ever springing!
For all things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?


Angel on the Pathway

Total strangers we were yesterday morning; total strangers we are still. And yet, something magical transpired between myself and this grand-motherly woman while we made our way towards one another from opposite directions on the urban pathway. In the midst of my breathless striding, this gentile, walking-woman looked directly into my face. Then she paused ever so briefly as I passed by, and in the blinking of an eye, I noticed her eyes looking into mine.

Her eyes sparkled with intent, and held my curious, questioning gaze. Her eyes seemed locked onto mine with keen attention. This is not the usual behavior between strangers on the pathway, At most, passersby offer a polite nod of the head or flick a hand with an easy wave. However, in those brief seconds, our eyes locked onto the other’s in seeming recognition. And then it happened, before I could break my gaze, a brilliant smile shone from her face.

Something like an electric shock-wave rippled across the span of my heart-space. Such genuine delight and joy displayed in that moment…that millisecond. How could so much love and joy exude from one unknown to me? A stranger, bestirring such strong, warm emotion within my being?

“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli

Who does that? Walkers and joggers? How many strangers make eye contact and smile with such vigor in passing another as to impart such joyful enthusiasm upon the unsuspecting psyche of an unknown other?

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” – Mother Teresa

And yet, twenty-four hours later, I still see her, the walking-path angel. I see her eyes… as they are seeing me…seeking me…searching my face and upon finding me, beaming her joy directly into my heart-space. Our chance passing? A random timing? I do not know, but I am grateful for the amazing microburst of happiness this encounter poured into my being…right there on the urban path during yesterday’s Sunday morning run. I was instantly undone…over-come…over-run by the waves of my own heart’s awakening joy. All because of one, very large, authentic, heartfelt smile.

Thank you, my beautiful, smiling, pathway-angel..for reminding me of this simple grace…the power of love warms hearts with joy, when we bestow a smile on our face.


Sleeper…Wake Up!

A New Year (and decade) has dawned…it’s January, 2020 and my thoughts turn white when I consider the clean, blank pages of my new calendar. Yet when I regard the clean emptiness of the coming days, I am soon overwhelmed by the many potentials and possibilities which lay ahead.

Caught up in the swirling inertia of this forward thinking, I notice how strongly I desire to fill, to create, to plan every detail of the 365 days which are, as of yet, unborn to me. And then I feel the weight of all this ambition and scheming, it bears down strongly upon my imagination…and thankfully, it presses me down to earth. The weight of my heavy thinking brings me full circle…back to myself…back to the real-ness of now…and the trance is broken…the white-ness of today, in this space of now is all that I am granted to hold and manage. The white space of today, begs for shape, texture, color and form. How will I render and memorialize these many passing moments? By being fully awake, alert and engaged with all that comes to pass before me…whether the moments are peopled or solitary. Today will be like no other.

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.” Eckhart Tolle

A sobering connection, I realize…how easy our enticement…to swap out our present moments for the mirage of our future days. We are so enamored with the sparkle of our imagined tomorrows that we don’t even realize our sleepwalking through the adventures of today. The white space of so many tomorrows becomes like the soft nothingness of white noise which lulls dreamers fast to sleep. Ahh…white, empty, blank-ness…behold…I give you, the sleeper!

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences — and all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Shall we commence, sleepers one and all, on the new of this year, to rouse ourselves awake! May we become vigilant, rather than impervious, to the beauty of now, whatever and however it unfolds before us. Can we embrace the imperfect present-ness without condition or prejudice? Is it possible to awaken our inner child-likeness so we may delight in the simplicity of each precious moment?

“Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings.” Anthony de Mello

What do we have to lose by living in sync with reality, even when its ugliness is our only companion? Or rather, what may we gain by living in harmony with the essence and purity of reality? Is that even possible for wanna-be sleepwalkers?

Clearly, for each of us, time is of the essence. If we desire to be awakened to our very own ‘reality’, in all its unfiltered real-ness, then it’s time to rouse from our collective slumber. This rousing will require us to make many inquiries into our own thinking and believing thoughts. If we are suffering with some aspect of reality, then perhaps it is the result of some belief or attachment we have formed which will need to be dropped in order to live real and free with ourselves. (Note: read anything by Anthony de Mello for futher insights on this principle.)

Do you not feel the urgency to embrace this day before another one passes? Can you not hear the clock’s tick-tick-tickling you to your senses? Wake up oh sleeper, wake up! Your life is waiting for you to live it…fully aware…fully alive. Your life is a mighty work of art waiting for you to aspire and inspire its creation. It’s a New Year…are you game for the living?

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware — joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” Henry Miller


Cultivating Gratitude

Our Thanksgiving holiday is only a few days away, so it seems quite natural to sit here at my desk this early Monday morning in contemplation of those things for which I am thankful. How blessed I am indeed…there is so much for which I am grateful. This year has been full, overflowing even, with so many good things: vacations; running/biking race weekend getaways; home improvement projects; memory making family events.
Of course, this year has also had a fair share of illness, loss, and business challenges.

And yet, as I consider the past 300+ days I have lived this year, I cringe when I realize the frenzy in which I inhabited those days. How could I have sped through so much living with so little attention? Busyness is the spoiler of modern living; and I am such a modern girl in this regards. One glimpse of my day-timer reveals the disconnect of an over-booked life. Seriously, my days are packed. If my calendar was a credit card, it would be  completely maxed out!

No amount of regret changes the past people, no amount of anxiety changes the future, but any amount of gratitude changes the present.
Ann Voskamp, The Way of Abundance

Even now as I look back on this year, it feels like I have lived like some kind of ship-wrecked survivor…swimming, floating, treading water in open sea with no land in sight. The promise of rest, visible on the horizon, vanishes with the setting sun. And when I finally reach the shore of my destination (a weekend or vacation), true rest and restoration was fleeting at best. I may as well be chasing a desert’s mirage.

The capacity to reflect well and deeply on daily life is an achievement. To reflect well you have to be comfortable with a degree of solitude, because reflection requires some quiet and aloneness.
Thomas Moore, An Ageless Soul

Even reflecting on this busyness of mine feels wearisome, but I am hopeful because I have not yet lost sight of myself altogether. Because even now, in these moments of contemplation, there is a welling up of hope, not resignation. In my heart of hearts I am truly grateful for all that I have been granted to accomplish this year. Good health and bodily strength this year has given me a solid platform for training myself and assisting many of my clients towards better health and fitness.  This is most fulfilling work; this work energizes me even while it wears me down to catch my breath. Nonetheless, I am grateful for this work; it is highly meaningful to me.

The quality of life is in proportion, always, to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

But as I consult with myself and the wisdom of those of whom I read and with whom I acquaint, I am jolted back to reality; to alertness; to attention. Cultivating gratitude into my life is just like cultivating fitness into my life. In order for these attributes to grow strong and stable, they require daily doses of my full, undivided attention.

To flex my gratitude muscle will require repetitions (minutes per set) of quiet thoughtfulness interspersed throughout each day. Regular bouts of purposeful contemplation are truly the most refreshing, gratitude building exercises I may perform. Even just writing about this practice brings me a sense of peace, quiet and purpose. This morning’s interlude has already instructed me, and changed me so that even now I perceive more clearly how to grow this grace into my bustling life.

There is ecstasy in paying attention. You can get into a kind of Wordsworthian openness to the world, where you see in everything the essence of holiness, a sign that God is implicit in all of creation.
Anne Lamot, Bird by Bird

Tomorrow or maybe a day or two after the holiday, I will have to spend some time thinking about how I’ll attack and conquer my frightful day-timer in 2020! But first, it is time for me to rest…and be thankful for the lesson learned today.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! I hope your holiday finds you digging into a plate full of yummy food with a heart full of grateful appreciation.

Watch this beautiful video to cultivate gratitude, everyday:

Gratitude: The Short Film by Louie Schwartzberg from ecodads on Vimeo.

 


An Honor Bestowed

The following is the body of an article posted in Runner’s World+ in October 2019.

I HOPE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS WITH MY RUN JOURNEY

I became a serious ‘runner’ about 10 years ago, after I developed chronic, debilitating back and hip pain in my early 40s. Intuitively I knew I needed to move, but initially even walking much was painful. Eventually, I asked my husband to purchase a treadmill for my use at home, and thereafter I spent some quality time on it for many months. Slowly but surely, I was able to go from walking to jogging. Once I felt strong enough, I ventured outdoors to run in my neighborhood. Did I mention I live in the high desert? At 4500-feet elevation! Heavy breathing was a constant while running in my hill country. It used to demoralize me. But I stuck with my runs because my back and hips were no longer hurting. It would take years of running in my community before I felt like I was making any gains. But eventually, I did get stronger. I ran my first race (10K) six years ago because a friend asked me to help her train for a half marathon. Our training for that distance has led to running many races over the past five years. And because I do most of my running in my community, I have been able to encourage and train others in my town who want or need to become more active. This is especially fulfilling to me; running has not only enriched and improved my life, but it has become a vehicle by which I may encourage others to begin their run journeys too.

WHY I JOINED RW+

I joined RW+ to have access to every good thing RW offers. I simply could not imagine losing access to regular online articles and features; additionally, having the paper magazine means I can share RW with those whom I train; especially those new to running who have not yet enjoyed reading RW.

RUNNING HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MY BODY IS STRONG

Running makes me feel strong and younger than my years. And it makes me feel accomplished; especially when I have a race on my calendar and a training plan that beckons me to stay on course with the hard workouts. I am naturally lazy and afraid of over-committing myself (physically), so running has taught me that my body is strong…most of the time it is stronger than I believe it to be.

What motivates me to run? Keeping ahead of my own aging! That’s what motivates me. When I make gains in my running strength and stamina, I am loathe to go backward. Some reversals in fitness are out of our control (accidents, illness, etc), so the fact that fitness is a dynamic moving target keeps me moving, and running as much as I can. And I love feeling younger and stronger than I was in my 20s, 30s and 40s. Plus, running gives me an opportunity to have ‘me time’, and unlike other indulgences, running is not a guilty pleasure, but rather a place of happy sanctuary from daily stress. Of course, there are negative motivators too, like how I feel when I don’t run (lack of energy, weight gain, aches/pains). So on most days I am pretty motivated to move my feet happily outdoors or on the treadmill.

I NEED TO RUN IN THE MORNING

My work schedule is full of training appointments and group classes I teach. Most days if I don’t run first thing in the morning, I won’t have time or energy to run in the evening. Sometimes I will run twice a day (two easy, short runs) to fit around a full day of appointments. The weekends are used for easy and or long runs if I’m training for a race.

I RUN IN MY COMMUNITY

I run a variety of routes in my home town during the week, mostly on the streets leaving straight away from my home. I live in the high desert, so the terrain provides excellent hill and altitude (4500-feet elevation) training. Depending on my energy level and current training plan, I’ll pick a route to match my mood and available time. And because my community is rural desert, there is an endless array of trails to run on too. But mostly, during the week, I just like being in my community, running through the neighborhoods and enjoying the natural beauty and serenity running provides me. When I need an extra boost of running encouragement, I’ll drive into town (30 minutes south and 2000-feet lower in elevation) to run on the city’s urban multi-use trails. This really is an ego pump…running fast (relative to home) on the urban paths with so many other happy runners is quite energizing.

FAVORITE GEAR

The one item I almost always wear for all my 3+ mile runs is my running hydration pack by Nathan. This pack is designed gender specific and boasts a 2-liter bladder which accommodates my hydration needs when running in the dry southwest. My pack carries everything I need (phone, nutrition, first aid, keys, etc) without the uncomfortable bounce of a waist belt or fanny pack. Of course I ALWAYS wear my Garmin Fenix 5s GPS watch with my heart rate strap monitor to keep myself honest on easy run days and to feel like a hero when I run on the urban pathways.

I WANT TO BE A LIFE-LONG RUNNER

I would like to run another marathon in 2020 and finish within 4.5 to 5.0 hours. I ran my first marathon last year (Marine Corps Marathon) after contracting shingles two months before the race. The fact I finished the race at all was an amazing accomplishment given my health status on race day. I hope to run two more half marathons before attempting my second full marathon. But really my most important running goal is to be a life-long runner; and if I can run happy through the rest of my decades, then I will consider myself a fulfilled runner indeed!