From Type A to Type Ahh

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World – Ghandi


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Origins

new-beginningsI was listening to a podcast this week about origin stories.  I thought about how much had changed in my life over the last 20 months.  It is a lot.  Since I am nearly 50, I was trying to think what made me want to change some things about my life.  From appearances I would have seemed pretty successful and to have everything under control.  I was respected in my career, had a good marriage, home, fiends, etc.  I think most of the time I was on autopilot and in those moments I wasn’t, I was usually pretty reactive and frankly pretty raw.  I had a lot of the things we think about as being ideal.  The reality was I was often restless, snarky, judgmental, angry, and mean.  What I lacked was what I really wanted, more peace.  I wanted to feel internally what it looked like I had externally to most people.

Why all of a sudden?  Then listening to this podcast I thought what was my origin story? At first I thought,  nothing. Then my mind drifted back to 2013-15.  That was not a super time for me.  What is that saying, if everything can go wrong it will go wrong.  My husband and I were robbed twice the first time was a shock and then the second time about 3 months later.  After they had watched the house and made sure we replaced everything.  We were renting and our landlord decided the house was safe enough he was not going to make any changes. So we broke our lease, with his consent, and had to find a new place to live rapidly.  The situation was not ideal. It was our most stressful move.  The house we moved into needed work none of it was done.  I had to keep leaving work to get things finished.  I had a brand new boss. Also our previous landlord, the one who did nothing to prevent the repeated break-ins, decided he would not refund our deposit since we left after being robbed twice in 3-months.

I was taking care of my mother who was having eye surgery at the time.  Then in the spring I got a phone call.  We were not celebrating Easter. My brother was in the hospital.  By that evening we were all in the hospital when his surgeon told us they removed his colon but the cancer was everywhere and he very little time left.  He was gone in less than 2 weeks.  We had not been close, but he did live with my mother and handle some day to day duties, so now I needed to find someway to take care of her.  In the meantime my aunt fell and went in to rehab.  My sister ended up with some severe chronic health problems.

I was stressed, tired, overwhelmed, everyone was looking to me and I was trying to keep it together.  My husband was there every step of the way but I am afraid I took out most of my frustration on him.  I had running as an outlet and it helped.  I needed something else.  The what else was not immediately obvious. In fact I tried several things.  Then at the end of 2016 I injured my foot and they said no running.  I am not going to lie.  I was hanging on by a thread.  That is when I decided to try one thing.  Meditate everyday even if just for a minute.  If you read this blog you will know that it has helped me in so many ways to become a better, truer version of myself. By doing that I have been able to give more openly to those I care about and causes I value.  What kicked you into change?


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Merry Christmas

 

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Hubby and I last week at the Jeff Galloway Half

It is Christmas today and I hope everyone is enjoying time and making memories with their families.  This has been a pretty successful slow Christmas for me.  I thought I would take a moment to wish you all a happy holiday and record, mostly for me what made this holiday successful.

  1. Hubby and I don’t do gifts.  What we do instead is both take off the end of the year for his school break.  We spend time together and are able to slow down and fully appreciate all that we have, especially each other.
  2. Even though I was fortunate enough to be invited to a couple of parties, some I even intended to go to, I ended up saying no to all of them.  A snow storm pushed back the minimal Christmas activities I had to accomplish and I did not want to experience that harried Christmas rush.
  3. We don’t really do gifts for anyone, instead we donate to charities that mean something to them.
  4. Christmas is for children, and it is certainly the most fun to shop for kids.  Since hubby and I do not have kids we adopt a kid for Christmas from the local Boys and Girls Club.  It is fun to see if we can fulfill their Christmas list within the program’s budget cap.
  5. Listening to Christmas Music, taking  walk through the lights in your neighborhood costs zero dollars but provides the warm holiday glow.
  6. Spoil our cats.  This is where we fall down on the minimalism train. Our cats are spoiled, super spoiled.  They have floor to ceiling posts in almost every room, beds and toys.  I guess at its heart minimalism clears the way for what is important.  To hubby and I, that is our cats.  Also though they have a lot now, all 5 are rescues who were thrown away like trash, by someone else.
  7. Kept up my healthy habits.  You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the holidays but being healthy really helps.  I always found time to run and meditate.  Returning to a vegetarian diet really helped keep holiday over-indulgence to a minimum.  Left some room and calories for the occasional glass of wine too.

I hope you and yours are happy and healthy this Christmas and ready to start 2018.  Merry Christmas.

 


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What I Learned from Winter Storm Benji

I live in Georgia and I have off and on since I was 12 years old.  Mostly on, if you must know.  Two weeks ago I experienced something I have never experienced in 36 years here.  We got 10-inches of snow.  As you can see it was quite beautiful.  I should be writing about the majesty of this once in a southern girl’s lifetime experience.  I wish I could say that I was able to let go of being out of power for nearly 3 days and surrender to the moment.  That would not really be the truth.  If I am being perfectly honest there was good and bad out of the experience and it served to further teach me both, how far I have come and how far I have left to go.  I believe our whole life is a work in a progress.  Sometimes we feel like we are nailing it and sometimes we feel like we are being nailed by it.

To say the region was somewhat unprepared for an actual snow storm is an understatement.  We are usually a rumor of snow, strip the shelves of bread and milk kind of people in Atlanta.  This time was different.  We were coming off a few years of anticipated winter events that never were.  Even our usually jacked up local meteorologists had a “chill it is just flurries” vibe as the models rolled in hinting at a more serious event.  Well the snow started falling Friday morning and by 10 AM businesses and schools were issuing early closings.  I was excited about a weekend snowed in with hubby and my cats though a little frustrated that it might put me further behind my chill holiday schedule.  That changed pretty much as I slid into our garage after a challenging ride home.  I think I was in the door 5 minutes when our power went out for the first time.  This time it as out a little less than 4 hours.

When it came back I was grateful.  I was so nervous about my husband making it home because they dismissed elementary school last.  I was truly grateful when he pulled up even though I had to yell out that the garage door would not work because we had no power.  Still we were able to enjoy a run in big fluffy snow.  This is not the kind we ever see.  I could fully immerse myself in that.  The power remained on that evening and I felt a sense of gratitude and peace that you get when you realize the riches of having a home and all of your loved ones safe.

Long story short we awoke at 4 AM Saturday to a cold house and no power.  It had gone out sometime during the night as snow continued to accumulate all night, into the morning.   There were catastrophic power outages, icy and snowy roads.  We were without power until Sunday evening at 7 PM.  This turned out to be earlier than many folks were restored.  I would like to say that I handled it all in stride.  I was frustrated and aggravated.  I had cold kitties, a dark house, dwindling battery on my cellphone, no knowledge of how to disengage my garage doors, and little to no food in the house.  The frustration was definitely a companion.  I will say, though I had moments of frustration, I was calmer than I would have been in the past.  I was able to meditate, I was able to recognize we still had much, even without power.  In all of this there was gratitude to be found.

My Winter Storm Benji Gratitude List

  1. We had a house, even a cold one.
  2. The cats, though cold, were eating and using each other and us to keep warm
  3. We had costs, gloves, blankets, flashlights, batteries, a boom box, and candles
  4. The Chinese place that delivered every tofu dish on their menu on Saturday through the snow.
  5. My husband.  He chipped away ice on the driveway, set up a kitty snow camp, and reminded me of what truly good partners we are.
  6. My mom who kept calling and checking in and told us how to disengage our garage doors
  7. We could turn on the cars to warm the kitties and charge our phones
  8. A gas stove that allowed us to make tea and coffee
  9. Wine, enough said.
  10. Social media.  That may sound weird but during the storm social media made us feel connected to friends and family some offering help and a place to warm up, some comparing our new Little House on the Prairie lifestyles.  Also it helped us keep up to date with the power issues and road conditions.

All in all we made out okay.  When the power came back on and ever since I have been more cognizant of how truly easy our lives really are.  I am also grateful to all the lineman, who were probably also out of power but slept in their trucks, drove in dangerous conditions, and did dangerous work to get power restored.

 

 

 


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Giving Back and Getting More

volunteers Do you volunteer?  I mean with time, and your heart and energy behind a cause?  If not why not?  That is a question I had to answer.  I always saw myself as the kind of person who would volunteer.  I have causes, and activities I am passionate about. I care about my community and the greater good.

Truth was I had no problem volunteering for my profession.  I gave a lot to water related organizations in time and leadership.  Though I care passionately about my career field and water, it is not all I care about.  It was the only place I volunteered.  I had to take a hard look at that.

What I found was not that flattering.  It was easy to volunteer in my profession because work allowed it and the time investment I made, with small exceptions, was time I would have dedicated to my job.  The time I had trouble dedicating was my own.  I believed in these things and causes and certainly believed that people should give back in their community.  It just seemed whenever I really had an opportunity I thought more about what I would have to give up, my time, and my resources.

This idea did not align with what I have been working on, so head long into volunteering I had to jump.  I decided to pursue two things.  First was a joint venture with my husband.  This way volunteering was something we could do together.  Two years ago we started coaching a running club at his school.  The school is a low-income school, primarily hispanic population.  We coach a running club through Atlanta Track Club every Friday for twenty weeks a year.  It turned out to be fun.  We get to do something we enjoy, run.  We get to inspire that love of running in kids and we can be a support and role model for at risk kids.  Since this happens Friday after work and with my husband the dreaded time loss was minimized.  After that success I decided to do something I have wanted to do for years, volunteer in animal rescue.  Specifically, volunteer with cats.

This was not something I would do with my husband and not something I could do within work hours.  I was going have to give of my time, my heart, and my personal resources.  I started small by attending a training and volunteering for a couple of spaced out outreach events for Good Mews, a local cage-free, No Kill shelter.  As I began to volunteer I found that I did not really lose anything like I feared.  I gained so much more.  I now volunteer regularly as a team lead for programs like Reading to Cats and Yoga with Cats.  I recently became a Kitty Buddy committing 30 minutes a week to help a shy and under socialized cat get used to people so they are more adoptable.

I have really gotten more out of these volunteer experiences, than I give.  For the professional volunteering I have gained contacts, leadership experience, and knowledge.  From the running club I have a shared experience with my husband, exercise, and I get to participate with his school which helps me appreciate what he does more.  At Good Mews I am truly helping a cause close to my heart.  I have made new friends and talk about a stress reducer: lunch hour spent with 100 cats.  Maybe not for everybody but for me.  If you think you can’t volunteer, start slowly.  I have found that I feel more aligned with what I always said I believe is important.


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What Running Taught Me about Marriage

IMG_2604My husband has 2 pet peeves about us as a couple.  We can never order the same thing at a restaurant and we can’t go out of the house wearing the same thing.  You might think who would?  My husband and I are runners so we race a lot and belong to the same track club so we have a number of identical shirts.  I believe my husband would stop at a mall to buy a new shirt before we would show up at a restaurant in matching couple attire.  At that restaurant there is a moment of tense silence before one of us declares what we will order, for fear the other one has eyed the same thing.

I guess this could be annoying.  It is just one of those things we have learned to laugh at, by that I mean I make relentless fun of it and he politely chuckles along at his own foibles. Long relationships require an even deeper sense of humor.  We have been together for 25 years and lived together for the last 24.  If you had asked me 7 years ago if I knew my husband I would have said absolutely.  But for his 45th birthday he made one request.  ” I want you to run one race with me.  That is what I want for my birthday.”  He might just as effectively asked me to give him a trip around the world, the latter seeming more likely.  My husband is an athlete, a naturally talented, but also hard-working athlete. He has played: soccer, basketball, done track, etc.  Me on the other hand, I believe I still hold the record at my high school for the slowest timed mile all 4 years of school.  I say this not to brag, but to set the scene for this request.  Yet somehow, following several colorful expletives, I found myself in running shoes at a 5K on his birthday.  Where I promptly declared “take a good look, this is the last time you will ever see me run.”  To check how “alterative” that fact was, see first paragraph.

Besides gaining a sense that I could do more than I thought I could, running has taught me so much about myself, my husband, and my marriage.  The first thing I learned was during that very first race.  My husband is someone who can be counted on, and who shows up.  He started that race with me and my painfully slow  12 minute mile until he was convinced I would be fine.  He went to finish his race and as I was about a 1/2 mile from finishing something I thought impossible; he came out of nowhere and ran me in, full of support.  He would demonstrate that support over and over as I pursued longer distances and he waited in blazing heat and freezing weather to meet at the last mile of half marathons and run me in. He ran his first half last December and even though I was two months into rehabbing platars fasciitis, I was there following him and I ran him in the last mile.

I have learned I am stronger than I thought and that most challenges may feel physically impossible, but are really a mental game.  Hence meditation has helped my running and my ability to handle challenges.  Watching my husband who is a streak runner, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter, he runs everyday at least a mile. He has demonstrated his uncompromising ability to commit.   Today is day 1275 of his current streak.  It really just underscored what I already knew.  Believe it or not, I am not always easy to live with or totally delightful. Yet he stays, all the time he makes the choice to stay.  I guess I am his marriage streak or his mental tolerance streak or maybe both.  My husband is a bastion of commitment, and no matter how much I have tried over the years to throw him off his game he just comes back fighting harder for our marriage.

Lastly, running is a living metaphor of our marriage.  We often run together.  If you don’t do that regularly you might not appreciate how hard it actually is.  You have to tune in totally to your partner at that moment.  Everyday every run is different.  When one partner is strong and the other weak, tired, or injured there is a real-time adjustment.  One of you has to sacrifice your run to encourage the other to finish strong.  I always say in the best marriages the partners make strong the broken parts in each other.  That is never more evident than when you are running together.  We are older now and we find that we “race” less, we still go but the competitive edge has worn off.  Now we run with the hard-earned synchronicity of 25 years of alternating between leading and lagging.  It is a fun ride.