Of Fire and Ice

Today marks six weeks.
Six weeks ago I took to bed a pounding headache,
Six weeks ago I awoke in a firey furnace.

But today, like so many days recently passed,
I awoke with gratefulness.
Not just because my health is much improved,
But because the remnants of my affliction
Reverberate still within me.

And with each new day I find a way,
To embrace the scrappy reminders with affection.
Like glowing embers after the inferno’s blaze,
The crackling sparks remind, remand, revive;
Jolting consciousness to awaken!

Wake Up!
To gratitude in gratefulness,
To acceptance in peacefulness,
To mystery in wonderment,
To strength in weakness,
To growth in restfulness.

Today marks six weeks.
Six weeks of persisting amidst the refiner’s fire.
Six weeks of re-learning, re-remembering, re-renewing!
Six weeks of gifting, receiving, and growing through it all;
Six weeks later, fully awake, fully alive!

 

Never fear the moments
you imagine will FREEZE you:
unexpected blasts of cold
can be what DRAWS you nearer
to the FLAME of His love.

Darn the COLD.

Thank God for the FIRE.

Welcome to the CLUB
of those braving the cold blasts
in a thousand DAILY ways. 

Every one of US,
in one HURTING WAY or another,
is in this CLUB.

The grace that’s in this MOMENT
is your MANNA.

Wish for the past
and you drink POISON.

Worry about the future
and you eat FIRE.

Stay in this MOMENT
and you eat the MANNA
needed for NOW.

The Way of Abundance ~ Ann Voskamp

grow through

The Refinery

In Going All Out, I describe my return to my running self and how energized I felt to be training for my first Marathon race. Since that post from May-2018, my race venue changed from NYC to Arlington, VA, but the change in venue did not reduce my delight in purposefully running again.  During the early summer months, it seemed surreal, the long runs, the speed workouts, challenging as they were, all of them gave me delight in knowing I was prepairing my body and mind for an epic event…running 26.2 miles on October 28, 2018!

If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.
Kathrine Switzer

Then, on August 10th, the wheels came off. Over a 24-hour period my body went from seemingly healthy and turned into a raging conflagration steeped in the melting pot of a full-blown shingles viral attack. I could not believe that this hideous malady had found me out. For all my good health and strength and well-being, I was laid out in such weakness, and racked with the firey pains so common to this hideous malady. How could this happen so suddenly, without warning? I was dumbstruck…awestruck really…with my unhappy fortune and especially for the disruption this had brought to my marathon training!

For three weeks I did little more than rest; and I use the word metaphorically. Sleep did not restore or invigorate; sleep could not be caught or latched onto; sleep only took me away from myself and cast me into strange, mysterious places of unknowing. Perhaps it was due to a lack of sleep together with a steady dose of unrelieved pain, but whatever the cause, I also realized a fermenting growth of anxiety sprouting like ugly weeds in my garden. Something like dispair seemed to ooze into my consciousness. I noticed these downward thoughts even while I accepted and acknowledged the fact that I am no different or exceptional from anyone else. None of us is immune from illness and disease. Even people who do everything right for their body can and will, from time to time, succomb to break-ins or break-downs in their well-being.

If we were to examine our diseases poetically, we might find a wealth of imagery that could speak to the way we live our lives. Following up on that imagery, we could attune our lives and allow ourselves to be corrected by the disease. That is what I mean when I say that without sickness we wouldn’t be cured, physically and psychologically. Care of the Soul ~ Thomas Moore

Thankfully, by the end of week three, I had an ephipany, a bolt out of the blue, rekindling the dark place of my pitiful thinking. Like an arrow finding its bulls-eye, the thought hit center and ran my runner’s soul clean through: You may actively recover your running (body) with the mindset of starting the marathon race! You may not be able to finish all 26.2 miles, but at least you may purpose to begin training…again. YES! YES, YES, INDEED! To toe the start line, come what may, would be my very own victory. Victory over illness; victory over dispair; victory over defeated thinking. The barb hit its mark!

A funny thing happened on my way to the Marathon…to be continued!

MCM

 

Quote

Endure

There’s a lot of happiness in this world that depends on being brave enough to keep working when it’d be easier to quit. Nothing good gets started without getting to work —and nothing great gets finished without staying at the work.
The Way of Abundance ~ Ann Voskamp


Endurance is not just the ability to bear a difficult thing, but to turn it into glory.
William Barclay


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Quote

In Pursuit

EXCELLENCE IS NOT RANDOM.

It is also more than a short-term ambition, accident, or accomplishment.

It is developed by design and achieved by setting and tenaciously pursuing high, competitive goals.

The greatest champions in history have all had a long-range vision and plan of what they wanted to accomplish in tandem with a complete daily devotion to their specialization.

Having daily or weekly improvement goals to meet will help ensure that you are always working right.

Stay focused on performing daily acts of excellence in the face of temptations to get sidetracked.

The Champion’s Mind ~ Jim Afremow, PhD


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FROM: LET YOUR MIND RUN by DEENA KASTOR

At the core of many of his stories was a distinction between success and excellence. Success was “having“: money, awards, status. Excellence was “being“: living your values, having them guide your daily life. Pursue excellence, Coach (Joe Vigil) would say, and success will follow.


Philippians 4:8 (NIV ~ Bible)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


 

Going All Out

I’m back! Back to running that is. I’m almost afraid to make such a public announcement, afraid I’ll jinx myself, because I’ve been away from my running self for well over a year. That my slump coincided with the passing of my mother is understandable, on an intellectual and emotional level, of course.

But on the physical and cognitive level, I could not accept that this once happy activity flat-lined without my permission. While I faithfully moved my legs on the treadmill, I could not muster the desire to go outside for runs around town. Something had changed for me and my running life. I do not know when or why or how I lost my happy running self. All I know was this: that girl was long gone! And she left me to run alone!

I eventually came to terms with the change, and I settled into a solitary routine which moved my body, but not my spirit. I accepted the fact that I was doing my body good even though I wasn’t experiencing the familiar endorphin rush. I entered 5K and 10K races here and there throughout the passing months, but more and more I felt like I was running in someone else’s body. I continued to run because I could, but I was lost, disconnected from by best self.

During those long months, I found solace by reading about running, or about famous runner athletes; I read about sports psychology and the power of the mind to enhance performance. All these things kept my head and heart in the sport. Most importantly, reading about running gave me hope…hope that I would eventually rediscover my focus, my muse, my love for happy running in the near future.

And then as providence would have it, this past January, an email appeared in my inbox. It’s subject line singularily suggestive and ultimately sinister:

Apply Today for the 2018 TCS New York City Marathon

What sort of a joke was this? I don’t run marathons! Why did those people from New York send me this email. I almost deleted the email without opening it. And I’m not sure why I even felt compelled to open it. But I did. And before I could think the whole thing through, I actually found myself applying for the marathon entry raffle. It took me less than two minutes to complete my registration. With one final push of the SUBMIT button, I became a player. What did I have to lose? Nothing!

More importantly, what did I have to gain? First and foremost in my mind, I would have to schedule a trip to New York City for sure. A trip to the place of my birth, which of course I have always wanted to visit since I was raised on the west coast of southern California from the age of 2 onward.

But wait, if I won an entry, that meant I would need to TRAIN to complete a marathon: 26.2 miles of running in one day! I’ve heard myself say out loud, on many occations, and often in mixed company, that running a marathon is a crazy, over-rated amount of running to ask a body, especially MY BODY, to do! Good grief, what had I done? What was I thinking? I had potentially committed myself to run a marathon! 26.2 MILES! Oh my, that was and still is a frightening thought. But wait, what are the chances of my winning an entry? 1 in 16,000! HA! No worries…I am not that lucky. But what if I am?

If I am that lucky, then there is no time to lose! I can not waste a month, or any months, of unfocused running because 26.2 miles is a very long way! Wait a minute…I signed up to run a Marathon? Well, no… not just yet. That happens later. I would have a month of anxious waiting to do before I would know the outcome of the raffle.

You can probably predict the outcome of my raffle entry. However, I will not spoil that story in this post. In the meantime, though, you should know that during the days of waiting for the raffle announcment, I was pretending to be a runner again. I was running and pretending to train for a Marathon. And while I was pretending, a funny thing happened along the way…I met and found my happy running self again.

And I think I like this new, updated version of me. The reluctant marathon girl. I think I like what she has become; what she has done for me. She has given me a purpose for running. She has given me a goal to aim towards; she has renewed my focus which I thought I had lost for good. She has given me a reason to run (achieve) and a distance (fear) to overcome. Yippee! I have met my hero, and alas she is me!

Now all I need is a plan…but first, I will need to run…did I mention I’ve never run 26.2 miles at once…EVER?

Even though I may never know what propelled me to submit that fateful lottery entry, I am so very glad I did, because I’ve never felt so good, so alive since I’ve begun my training. I AM ALL IN! To be continued…

Nothing beats the inner peace of mind of knowing that you went all out with your best attitude and expended your full effort. Doing your best by discovering the borders of your physical limits is also your own true gauge of personal success.  Jim Afremow ~ The Champion’s Mind

 

I Remember…My Little Red Shoes

Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.
Ryunosuke Satoro

One of my favorite childhood memories is about getting new shoes….play shoes! My favorite play shoes from the time I was three years old until about seven or eight years old, were PF Flyers. I LOVED my play shoes; and I especially loved when they were new. I loved how they smelled out of the box: a little rubbery, a little like starched canvas. I would spend a great deal of time inspecting my shoes at home. I would run my fingers over the clean, bumpy, gum soles and I would press my pudgy finger tips into the bright, squishy insoles…insoles strewn with fanciful graphics and words I could not read.

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Deb in her shoes ca. 1965

I remember being intrigued by the rectangular box on the heel of each shoe. Each box so beautifully bright and blue atop the contrasting white, wrap-around rubber. But most of all, the favorite part of my new shoes were their unscuffed white toe-caps, which of course, I thought made them look so very strong and keen, ready for fun. For many days after receiving my new shoes, I would line them up on the floor of my closet next to my old play shoes. Then I would notice the stark contrast between the two sets.

I would think about all the days of playing I had done wearing my old shoes; no wonder they looked so tired and shabby. How many days of play would it take, I wondered, before my new shoes resembled my old shoes. I pondered whether it was possible to keep my new shoes forever new, and then a sad thought appeared. I realized the only way to keep my new shoes new, would be for me not to wear them for play. That was an unbearable thought, because new shoes are meant to be worn and played in! And so at a tender age I learned a helpful lesson from my little red shoes: everything new eventually grows old, but adventure, real or imagined, may always be had simply by lacing on a new pair of shoes.

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My current collection for play

What If?

My two favorite words: What If?

There is a world of possibility instantly created by uttering these two words, and the simplicity of invoking a new reality brings giddy delight whenever I consider the potential of What If?

Imagination is the raw ability to conjure up a different reality. If a person can dream, then he or she can imagine. If people can ask “what if” or move in the world “as if,” then they have imagination. ~ Eric Liu & Scott Noppe-Brandon

What If…I only had one job?
What If that one job was to just be Love?
What would my world, my reality look like if that became true for me?
How would I approach my days and my many roles from this perspective?

What is Love after all?

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (the Message)

At home, as wife and mother and grandmother…what if I believed and acted (behaved) as if the most important thing for me to do is to show those with whom I live, through the myriad and mundane, how Love acts.

At work as employer and employee…how does Love live in the workplace?

In my community…how does Love behave in the midst of so many others so very different from myself?

What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change.  Ann Voskamp

Being Love is indeed a VERY BIG JOB…I need no other work to fill my days but this one thing, and a little inspired imagination.

What about you? Do you ever wonder, What If….?

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller