When more is better

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Temple Building

Distance running didn’t come naturally to me. I’m a sprinter, and have been ever since I outran the neighborhood boys back in grade school. In my 20s, I tried distance running a few times, but it never really stuck. I rarely felt as if I could breathe very well, and my legs always itched. I figured out the solution to both of those things years later – a histamine blocker and pacing.

Yesterday’s run was a good one. This route had manageable hills and after 3 miles, I had energy left, but no time.

It takes me anywhere from a half mile to a mile to get warmed up. During those first 5-10 minutes, I’m looking for a comfortable stride length and finding a good cadence for my breathing. Around mile two I get in a groove. I relax and settle into the run, especially if it’s a familiar route.

The third mile varies. Depending on my level of fitness, I experience fatigue during the first half. I slow down a bit, especially if I was pushing things earlier. Sometimes I start wondering how much longer I have before I arrive at home base.

Unless I’m short on sleep or fuel, I shake it off by the second half of the mile. By then, I’ve gotten my breath back, my legs back, and I’m rocking out. Yet for years, that was the end of the run. Eventually I discovered the magic of mile four.

That fourth mile? That’s the sweet spot. I’m warm. Breaths come and go in energizing rhythms. My stride opens. I’m pushing it until I cross the finish line. The endorphins are in full effect. Life is great.

These days I’m back at 3 because I’m finding new routes and running hilly terrain for the first time. It’s a tough slog, really. Training on hills is more than a notion.  I’m looking forward to developing my fitness, and eventually finding 4 sweet again. After that? We’ll see.

Seeing to the ugly

30 Day Blog Challenge

“The less of yourself you feel when you are with someone, the less of them you should probably see!” – Lakara Foster

I logged into Facebook this evening, and my friend Tia had the quote above as her status update. I quickly commented, “That’s a word,” and I meant it.

I totally agree with that sentiment. I’m nearly 40, and the best thing about being 39 1/2 is the fact I’ve spent nearly a decade living  authentically. It was as if some magic switch turned on at or around my 30th birthday, and I shed the bullshit and suddenly became myself. The dormant me, always there, sprang forth. And even though it’s fair to say I’m still (and always will be) in a state of becoming, being true to myself and learning to live life on my own terms is freeing. It’s joy.

It’s not a secret to close friends and family that I’m in a romantic relationship. It’s been an amazing experience – one in which I’ve been able to grow as an individual and as a partner. It’s beautiful and yet it’s challenging. Not in a toiling, difficult sort of way, but it takes effort. And part of what takes effort is allowing myself to be me. The normal day-to-day is easy. Yet when inevitable moments of tension come up (growth opportunities in corporate speak), there’s always the option to avoid the situation, to play a role, or to be myself.

Sometimes  “myself” has feelings I wish I wouldn’t have. But these feelings, whether or not they align with reason, are human. Experiencing them is what it means to be human. Exploring them openly is what it means to be intimate.  To the degree that you feel you can be honest with a friend, partner or lover – intentionally transparent – that connection is a healthy one.

It’s not easy, but it’s honest. And worth it.

Sticking to the script

30 Day Blog Challenge

I knew exactly what I was going to write about today. I really did. But two things kept me from it.

One was time. I simply ran out of it today. The other was was my memory. I completely forgot! I was so focused on finishing work by midnight, blogging slipped my mind.

I remembered in the nick of time. So here I am, in the bed, dictating into my phone. And you know what? That counts, too.

Back on it tomorrow. For real.

Just keep swimming

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative

“I think that a lot of people in our country have gotten depressed, pinned in, pinned down with living lives they don’t want…tell me what your dreams are. What are you chasing? It’s not impossible.” ~Diana Nyad

There are lots of big stories in the news right now. Some of national import, others of international import, but the one of personal import is about badass Diana Nyad. She’s a 64-year-old marathon swimmer, she set a new record, and perhaps most importantly, she refused to be defeated by time, circumstances or self-doubt. She went for an Xtreme Dream and made it come true.

Age is not an excuse for giving up. Allowing yourself to grow passive and draw back is a sign of personal defeat. There may be a retirement age at work, but there is no retirement age in life. ~Daisaku Ikeda

Nyad swam 110.4 statue miles  in just under 53 hours, making the trek from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. She wasn’t without protection – donning a special suit and mask to protect her from the jellyfish which foiled her previous attempt. And she wasn’t alone – her team was with her, stopping her for feedings and rest and making sure her path was as passable as possible.

Xtreme Dreams Require Relentless Pursuit

The seed to swim to Florida was first planted in Nyad as a young girl, and she made her initial attempt at the age of 29. That attempt, and the next three were beset by obstacles she couldn’t overcome. Despite the disappointing setbacks, she refused to give up on her dream without trying one last time.

You have a dream 35 years ago — doesn’t come to fruition, but you move on with life. But it’s somewhere back there. ~Diana Nyad

Not only is she a lifelong swimmer and dreamer, Nyad is also a lifelong learner. Although 35 years passed between her initial attempt and her final, successful one, Nyad said she learned we should never give up, we’re never too old to chase our dreams, and even solitary sports like swimming are a team effort.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about goals in recent years. And as I’ve hinted in the past, I have a lifelong dream or two I’m pursuing. As beautifully illustrated by Nyad’s victory, dreams don’t simply come true on their own. It’s not enough to have one. It’s not enough to hope and wish it will come true. It takes effort. Human action steps. And sometimes, even with planning and preparation, it’s not enough to go for it once.

Anyone who has ever made a resolution discovers that the strength of that determination fades in time. The moment you feel that is when you should make a fresh determination. Tell yourself, “OK! I will start again from now!” If you fall down seven times, get up an eighth. Don’t give up when you feel discouraged—just pick yourself up and renew your determination each time. ~Daisaku Ikeda

It took Nyad five attempts  – five – over the course of more than 30 years. This tells as much about physical skill and endurance as it does about patience and perseverance.

But just as important as the thought to never give up, is the seriousness of intent and clarity of purpose. That 8-year-old Nyad dreamed of swimming the Florida straits, and 20-something-year-old Nyad was a successful endurance swimmer wasn’t happenstance.  Furthermore, that 64-year-old Nyad was ultimately successful, wasn’t a matter of luck. It was the culmination of focused determination and untold hours and years of disciplined work.

These are habits I’m developing in myself. Mostly I’m working to overcome my own efforts at self-sabotage through procrastination, something Joshunda tweeted about recently. It’s a process, but then again, growing and evolving always is. The point, at least for me, is to keep striving. Or, as Dory said in Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming.”

The worst mistake you can make is to give up on yourself and stop challenging yourself for fear of failure. Keep moving forward with a firm eye on the future, telling yourself, “I’ll start from today!” “I’ll start afresh from now, from this very moment!” ~Daisaku Ikeda

Sages, worthies and resolve

30 Day Blog Challenge

I attended a monthly Word Peace Prayer Meeting for my Buddhist sect yesterday. During the meeting, Alvin Munson shared a faith-based experience about personal development and living his dream of being a writer.  He shared several meaningful quotes that struck a chord with me.

The essence of what he said is based on guidance from Daisaku Ikeda: Faith means setting goals. View faith as a process that leads to success. The resolve to accomplish your goal is what counts.

In Nichiren Buddhism, personal development, also known as human revolution, often hinges on the resolve to take action. The resolve to begin when circumstances seem daunting. The resolve to continue when things are tough. The resolve to begin again after a major setback. Faith, in essence, is about believing in your ability to persevere.

It’s not the belief that you can magically avoid obstacles. After all, Nichiren wrote, “No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.” But striving onward, resolved to win over your own weaknesses is the crux of Buddhist faith. The question is, how can I develop my life and expand my capacity to accomplish my goals? It’s not about besting others, but ultimately about besting ourselves.

What are you resolved to accomplish this month? This year? This lifetime? How will you grow in order to be successful?

Thirty days hath September

30 Day Blog Challenge

I’m young at heart, and recently celebrated my 39 1/2 birthday, but few things keep you as flexible and free-spirited as children.  Last night was a good reminder of that.

Fire and Ice SorryFour of us negotiated pawns in the new “fire and ice” version of Sorry, when we stopped to comment on the intermittent percussion piercing the quiet evening.

Blue went to investigate and came to report there were fireworks nearby! You may not know this, but fireworks are one of my favorite things.  “I wanna see!” said my inner 10-year-old, and we dashed outside to check them out.

Barefoot, we stood in the grass, craning necks and blocking  street lights with palms to admire the colorful blasts lighting the sky. The youngest among us decided it was a great time to run around and requested we time him as he ran back and forth between mailboxes.

Suddenly it was a race. We each staked out lanes in the middle of the empty street and scouted a finish line. A nearby fire hydrant seemed a good marker, and I silently questioned the wisdom of sprinting in a dress without so much as a warm up or stretch. Off we went, legs flying, balls of feet smacking pavement.

Seconds later it was over. Breathless, laughing, we turned around and walked back, girls gloating – the clear winners. Back indoors we finished our game. Boys the winners that time.

And with that, August ended with a bang.

Now it’s the first day of September, and it’s time to begin blogging again. This post opens the month and opens my next 30 and 30 challenge. Over the next 30 days, my plan is to write 30 posts. As always, they’ll be about whatever moves me at the time. I hope you’ll hang around.

See you tomorrow.

xoxo

Love, violence and transformations: A recap.

30 Day Blog Challenge

March was a great month of endings, beginnings, and transformations in general. I updated this space every day while in the midst of a whirlwind. The high energy and nonstop pace is in full swing for another couple of days, but I wanted to take a breath to share the top posts from last month.

So I just moved. And I don’t know about you, but for me moving is a special process full of resistance, excitement, and everything in between. I was slow to get started, but eventually, I did start packing. I’ve only spent one night in my new place, so no, I’m not settled yet.

I’m always fascinated by narratives and the power of story, and maybe some of you are too? This blog about knowing your family’s narrative, got a lot of attention.

Early in the month I wrote about the importance of telling your own story – if not to others, then at the very least, to yourself. I didn’t know that post and subsequent events in the real world would set the stage for me to share my own story of sexual violence. I’ve been investigating my rape narrative for nearly two years now, and I felt moved to share my side of things with the ex who violated me. Readers and friends asked me what I hoped to gain by all of this. I wrote this in response. I found myself writing so much about sexual violence in March, I added a new category. I’ve been quiet on the topic as of late, but I expect to be writing more about it in the coming months.

Violence of any kind takes place when there is an absence of love. I don’t believe individuals and subsequently, society, can truly be whole without a serious infusion of love

Here’s to healing.

Be true.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative

Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and again? What is it, and why does it move you?

If you summon your courage to challenge something, you’ll never regret it. How sad it would be to spend your life wishing, “If only I had a little more courage.” Whatever the outcome, the important thing is to take a step forward on the path that you believe is right. There’s no need to worry about what others may think. It’s your life, after all. Be true to yourself. ~Daisaku Ikeda

I first saw this quote in the November 2012 issue of Living Buddhism magazine. Sae Chonabayashi said it encouraged her to pursue her dreams. It encouraged me to do the same. At the time I read the piece, I was at a crossroads; I was unsure about quite a few things. That quote resonated, and I got clear on next steps in a hurry.

Life is short and no one wakes up in my skin every morning except me. I have plans and dreams, and it’s quite possible they won’t work out as I’d like…but I have to try.  I’ve always been one to play it safe. But safe isn’t always satisfactory, and time passes way too quickly these days for me to waste it in any state of dissatisfaction. So whatever the outcome, in eleven days, I’m moving forward on a new path.

I embrace possibilities and love.

To thine own self, be true.

NaBloPoMo March 2013

What do you want? #rapeculture #vaw

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative, Sexual Violence

NaBloPoMo March 2013People who have witnessed the recent steps on my journey have sent me good wishes and hopes for the outcome I want. Truth be told, the healing, the outcome I wanted for myself, happened long ago. But I’ve started to talk publicly about it. And I recently told my ex my thoughts about our past. This has inspired the following question from many corners:

What do you want?

I want to agitate.
I want to make people feel uncomfortable.
I want to counter rape culture.
I want people to stop blaming victims.
I want to add my voice to the chorus of survivors.
I want partners to question their entitlement over another’s body.
I want people to talk. Especially men to their friends and brothers. To their sons and lovers.

Rape culture is allowed to fester, in part, because of our silence. So I am speaking up, speaking back. I want to speak more often and with more eloquence. I want to help survivors speak, too.

I want to make a difference.

Just asking. #rapeculture #vaw

30 Day Blog Challenge, Sexual Violence

Is it possible he really forgot?

It’s been twenty years. I’m the one who was traumatized. I’m the one who said nothing. Did nothing.

Well, that’s not really accurate.

I buried it. Allegedly got over it and got on with it. Honestly, I tucked it away from sight, but it was never very far. I carried it with me into each new year. Into every new relationship. It colored every subsequent encounter. Every single one.

So it leads me to wonder: is it possible for someone to inflict such harm upon another and not recognize it as such?

Apparently it is.