Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Climbing the walls

If you had asked me at the beginning of this month where I'd be at the end of it, I would never have predicted here. But that is the beauty of life. When it closes a door, it opens a window. And I will jump out that window. Because I know that endings make room for new beginnings, sad times make room for happy times, and wherever life leads me, it will be one fantastic journey.

When I was a baby, I would habitually climb out of my crib and fall on the floor. I don't know why. It doesn't make any sense. It's just my nature. I can't be a bird in a cage, no matter how nice of a cage it is. I will always be climbing the walls. You can't set me free and expect me not to fly away. And I don't want to feel bad about that. It's who I am and I can't change it.

I want a big, adventurous life. I want to see everything. And I want you to come with me. If you don't want to, that's cool. I get it. But I have to keep moving. Because for me, happiness is movement and people, laughter and love, learning and growing and pushing the limits. So that's where I'm going.

I don't want to choose sides. I want to love everyone and run through the woods and laugh so hard my stomach hurts and eat cookies.

I know that part of the adventure is taking risks, being uncomfortable, getting hurt. I will stumble, I will fall, I will cry. But I will get back up again and I will smile. Onward and upward. Climbing the walls.

Lyric of the moment: "Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on, across the universe..."

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 Race #4: Flower City Half Marathon

The Flower City Half has always been one of my favorite races in Rochester. I love the course - the music, the hills, the cemetery, the fact that it runs right past my street. This year was my third time running this race and I think the real reason I enjoy it so much is that I've always had great company on this course. And that, my friends, is my only race strategy: relax and run next to a good friend. Bonus points if said friend happens to be a tall, funny dude.

My only goals for this race were to relax and enjoy it, no worries, no stress. But when Pete said he'd never run a half marathon under 2 hours, I was all like it's on, that is totally happening today! And it did. We finished in 1:57 and change. Sometimes I know things.

I don't know what it is about this course - maybe muscle memory from all the training runs Eric and I used to do on it - but as soon as it starts, my body is all it's go time! and takes off. I even love the hills, plus I know there are going to be drummers at the top! This year I even got to watch a helicopter land as we were running out of Mt. Hope Cemetery and into U of R. And, best of all, Pete held my hand as we crossed the finish line.

"Clap along if you know what happiness is to you?" What
are my hands doing in this picture?

Another great day in the books! The only downside to this race was that twice I saw a sign that said "Hey girl, Ryan Gosling is waiting for you at the finish!" but sadly I must have missed him. Gotta run faster next year ;)

I'm falling in love with trail running but I will always love the roads too. I want to run everywhere - roads, trails, beaches, to the moon!

Lyric of the moment: "Come on with me. Tramps like us, baby we were born to run..."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Onward and ever more awesome

I use the word awesome a lot. I can't help it. Life is breathtakingly, awe-inspiringly, mind-bogglingly amazing and I don't understand how anyone could not be head-over-heels in love with it.

Take this weekend, for example. So Friday when I was leaving work, this happened:

Bill: "What's the matter, kid? You look tired."
Me: I kept getting woken up with charlie horses last night."
Bill: Good luck with your Charlies and your Charlie Horses. Calling boyfriends a horse, that's a new one."
Me: (laughing hysterically)
Bill: "Geez I really have to watch what I say around you. It can be misconstrued."
Me: (almost dying from laughing)
Bill: We have a strange friendship, don't we?

Then I came home to find awesome packages from Emelyn and Gram. And so began a weekend of awesomeness that included a free yoga class that was a good workout and a good laugh, drinking hot chocolate at The Little with Pete and Chris while listening to a lady sing one of my favorite Cake songs, watching Pete rock the duathlon Saturday, falling asleep on the couch and waking up to Mozzie cuddling with me/snoring in my face, pizza and movie night and running the Flower City Half Marathon with Pete on Sunday.

Pete said he'd never had anyone come cheer for him in a race before. But how could I not? This is the guy who, when I was sad from a breakup, somehow arranged it, from out of town no less, so that when I showed up to pilates my class had already been paid for and I was handed a care package of bananas and chocolate. And I think everyone should get to have a crew. For races and for life.

I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about things I did wrong so that I can find a better way forward. But then I have days like these and I think about all the people who have shown up for me in my life, and I realize, for all my failings, I must have done something right.

Lyric of the moment: "These feelings won't go away, they've been knocking me sideways..."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Notes to self

On cookies: Sometimes you find a cookie that is so delicious it makes you wonder what those other things were you thought were cookies, because they were not anywhere close to this. And once you find the epitome of cookies, you can't go back.

On stumbles: If you stumble, if you fall, no worries. That is part of the experience. Whatever happens you will be fine. Because you have built your life in such a way that you will always be fine. But don't wield your independence like a sword. You don't always need to have an escape plan. There are some places so good there is no need for escape.

On effort: Hard work and effort are important. But the hard way isn't necessarily the right way. Sometimes the best way forward is to let go. If you're where you're meant to be, your hard work will feel easy, effortless. You won't have to worry about it. It will just be.

On capes: If someone asks if you want to wear a cape, say yes. Every time. There is no other answer.

Lyric of the moment: "This could be the very minute I'm aware I'm alive. All these places feel like home..." (Because the Mazda and I are currently listening to The Last Kiss soundtrack. The movie was meh but the soundtrack is soooo good. And if you have a good soundtrack, you can do anything.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

A good traveler

I always make wishes over railroad tracks. Not because there's some magic in touching my hands to the ceiling and lifting my feet off the ground when driving over railroad tracks. But because it's those split seconds where I have to decide what to wish for that I find out what I really want.

I wished for a relationship that goes the distance. (Which I probably shouldn't have told you, since now it might not come true. Or maybe it will. I'm not hip to the Universe's rules of wish fulfillment.) But I'm trying to be a good traveler. And "a good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." So I think my real wish is to be a positive influence on everyone I meet, a force of love, laughter, adventure and ridiculousness. The truth is that however long you stay, I will always love you. That is the Robot experience. Bring your passport.

The only way I can think to proceed is to leave behind expectations, fears, insecurities and doubts and embrace the crap out of wherever I am. I don't know what the future holds but I do believe all the roads lead to Awesometown.

Lyric of the moment: "You give me strength to beat the odds and overcome my fears. You make me feel like I belong under the sun...If there's love, I just want to have something to do with it. I just wanna feel yours..."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Adventurers care not for shoulds

Yesterday I read something along the lines of "Joy is the natural outcome of being where you're supposed to be." Actually I think it said "where you should be." But adventurers care not for shoulds. You don't have to feel pressured by the shoulds. There is no right time. There is no right path. There are only the risks you take and the rewards that ensue. Just go to the places and do the things and spend time with the people who bring you the most joy. Just take a leap of faith. You can be a wanderer and not be fated to a life of loneliness. (At least I hope that last part is true. I'm counting on it.)

This is a pep talk I wrote for myself. Because The Doubts and The Shoulds were colluding against me. They are tricky, those bastards. They know just how to get to me. So I did the only logical thing. I put Metric's Synthetica on repeat, bought myself a half coffee half hot chocolate and went on my merry way.

Lyric of the moment: "Where I've been, I was bound to leave behind...I'm speeding out of reach. Oh, you're the one I had to meet...Wanderlust will carry us on..." And also: "Nothing I've ever done right happened on the safe side..."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Person of Jen

I remember as a kid having to fill out forms that asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I never knew how to fill in the blank because I didn't feel a calling to any particular profession. I did have some ideas about the kind of person I wanted to be, and I thought that was the more important question.

It wasn't until I learned about Confucianism that I knew what I should have written in all those blanks: When I grow up I want to be a Person of Jen.

"The Chinese term jen has been translated into English as "humanity," "benevolence," "goodness," "Perfect Goodness," etc. It is a difficult concept to translate because it doesn't really refer to any specific type of virtue or positive endowment, but refers to an inner capacity possessed by all human beings to do good, as human beings should. In the Chinese "essence-function" perception, jen can be understood as the essence of all kinds of manifestations of virtuosity: wisdom, filial piety, reverence, courtesy, love, sincerity, etc., all of which are aspects, or functions of jen. Through one's efforts at practicing at the function of jen, one may enhance and develop one's jen, until one may be called a Superior Man, or even better, a "Person of jen.""

I think about this whenever I'm at a crossroads, when one path ends and I'm like now what? Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing, I want to be a force of love and goodness. I'm sure I have failed at this many times, but I will keep trying.

I don't know the details of what the future holds. Only that it will be awesome. Because if I try to do everything with love, awesomeness will ensue. 

Lyric of the moment: "Jen, put your arms around someone soft. Take it as it comes, trust your heart, trust me. You know it, Jen..."

Monday, April 14, 2014

New possibilities for awesomeness

The thing I love about life is that it is possible to feel sorrow and elation in the same week, that all the things I think are endings turn out to be new possibilities for awesomeness, that whatever happens I can find happiness in it. I will probably still have some moments of sadness or loneliness but mostly what I feel right now is openness and optimism.

I wrote this in 2011, and it's still what I want. It will always be what I want:

Universe, what I really want is to go new places and try new things and spend time with awesome and hilarious people. I'd like to go on fabulous trips. I want to feel like part of a team. And I'd love to cross the finish line of an epic race holding someone's hand.

Sometimes I'm still afraid that, out of all the possible options, no one would choose me, continuously, every day, forever. But I certainly wouldn't mind being proven wrong on that. In any event, I can't let the fears and the mean thoughts hold me back. I've got too much adventuring to do.

Lyric of the moment: "And if you were to ask me, after all that we've been through. Still believe in magic? Oh yes I do. Of course I do..."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Race #3: Mess The Dress

Some of the best people to get dirty with
Mess is a pretty apt description of how I felt this week. Physically exhausted from a cold and emotionally exhausted from a breakup, I felt less than stellar when I woke up Saturday morning. But I've always believed in running as a panacea. And you'd be hard pressed to find a better cure than putting on a dress and running muddy, mucky trails with some amazing and hilarious pals. Mess The Dress, a 5 mile mud race/prom at Black Creek Park was the most fun I've ever had at a race. Or a prom for that matter.

By far, my best ever prom date.

I feel lucky to know the kind of people who would think of such an awesome idea, the kind of people who can execute it to perfection, and the kind of people who will happily dress up and run through the mess alongside you. I'm not at all photogenic, but in every picture from this day, I am smiling or laughing. I loved all of it, from the gorgeous, sunny day to the ridiculous dresses to the great company.

I don't even know how I ran this race. I certainly didn't think I had anything left in me. But I've always had my best runs when I have a lot of emotional shit to work through. And I felt so good after Saturday, I ran 17 miles with the crew on Sunday.

I feel like all I've done this weekend is run and laugh. And it was just what I needed.

Lyric of the moment: "What you don't have you don't need it now. What you don't know you can feel it somehow. It's a beautiful day..."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Thomas Edison heart

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy told me that the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42. Which I think must mean 42 people. Find 42 people who are your soulmates and your solemates and your puppy kindred spirits and make them your family and spend your life loving and hugging and laughing and running around the world and jumping out of airplanes and climbing on everything and sitting around campfires and having all the conversations.

But I am sad because my people are leaving. My parents are moving away and I lost Mike and his family, and I can't do this alone. I mean, I can. I am capable of it. I just don't want to. What is the point of life if not to share it with other people?

And I know I should let go. Take a deep breath, trust that everything will be copacetic, ride the wave where it takes me. But I can't. Because I have a Thomas Edison heart. It's all "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." It still thinks that if it just keeps giving, it can fix everything. I cannot decide if it is an idiot or a savant. It always leads me to the places, the people, the challenges and the lessons I need. But it never knows when to stop fighting for a lost cause. Because it doesn't believe that anyone is ever truly a lost cause.

I don't understand when people say we don't want the same things. We may have different ways of going about it, but deep down we all want the same things: to be happy and fulfilled, to be truly known and to love and be loved unconditionally.

Lyric of the moment: "I was just wondering if you'd come along. To hold up my head when my head won't hold on. I'll do the same if the same's what you want..."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Even when the cookie crumbles, it is still delicious

I don't know if this is real or just my memory of it, but there is a move in Mortal Kombat where the announcer yells "Finish him!" and the victor reaches into his opponent's body and rips out his heart. And, here's the thing that always got me, the heart is still beating. That is the most accurate description of how I feel right now. As much as I dislike feeling all ripped apart and gutted, I know that my heart keeps on beating. That every time I love someone my heart gets bigger and stronger and happier, it loves harder and more unconditionally.

And this is why I can never be a cynic. Because people, even at their worst moments, are the absolute best. Even when the cookie crumbles, it is still delicious.

But seriously, enough of this sad shit. I am going to Easter Island. I don't know exactly when or how but it is happening.

Lyric of the moment: "You'll be given love. You'll be taken care of. You'll be given love. You have to trust it. Maybe not from the sources you have poured yours, maybe not from the directions you are staring at. Twist your head around. It's all around you. All is full of love..."

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A no good, very sad day

So this is what pure, unadulterated sadness feels like. It's different this time. The first two times I felt all the feelings, but now I'm just sad. I don't even know how I'm still crying. It seems like I should have used up all the tears in the universe by now. And I also feel like a huge idiot. For believing in impossible things and failing to learn the same lessons over and over again. But there's nothing I can do and I have no regrets. It's just really freaking sad.

So I'm alone again. (Well, not entirely alone. I still have Mozzie. Though he is very confused. He keeps looking at me with his big puppy eyes and licking me.) And I know I'll be fine. Life goes on. And so do I. It's what I do. Ever the unstoppable force.

Life is awesome and people are awesome and I just want to stop being sad so I can get back to being awesome.

Please send hugs.

Lyric of the moment: "And what she said was something beautiful. To give your love no matter what..."

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Almond butter and other epiphanies

I was slightly annoyed that my doctor sent me a letter implying there was something to be worried about, only to charge me another $15 copay and then tell me it was basically nothing. I was unaware I was dealing with the Fox News of doctors. But all's well that ends well. And if I have to pay $15 for news, I'll take good news over bad any day.

To be honest, I was never really that worried. I think other people were worried for me, and maybe I should have been, but I just never think that anything bad is going to happen to me. And since I am incredibly lucky, that delusion has proven to be true time and time again.

I've spent a significant amount of time this week running through mud and rain and trails that were more like streams. And I realized that the more I struggle against it, the more I want it to be something it's not, the more miserable I will be. But if I embrace the messiness and chaos, I will enjoy it. There is awesomeness on a dry trail on a warm, sunny day and there is awesomeness on a muddy, rainy, sloppy one. There is no right path. There is something amazing to see on all of them. If things get messy, I can always get clean again. If I fall down, I can always get back up again. On the sloppiest, slipperiest slopes, someone will be there to lend a helping hand.

Someday my luck might run out and I might have a smash up with some bad news. So I want to remember this: I don't have to struggle against it. I can embrace it and find the humor in it and make the best of it and ask for help (or maybe just almond butter. Thanks to the awesomeness of Pete, I have discovered that the AB&B sandwich is as delicious as my one true love, the PB&B) and keep going.

Lyric of the moment: "But after that the floodgates opened up. And I fell in love with everyone I saw..." (Because it's one of my all-time favorites. And so so true.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The best of what's around

The funny thing about life is that some weeks you find out your inside parts are misbehaving and you get a flat tire, but you also run through trails of mud and snow and calf-deep ice water and you run after bunnies on the roads before dawn and you survive your second pilates class and you get to spend time with some of your most favorite people (and your most favorite puppy) and you laugh so hard your face hurts. And you realize, time and again, that it matters not what happens, but who you're with when it does. Life, even in its darkest moments, is infinitely, unimaginably, overwhelmingly beautiful. But it's even more so when you have great company. I am exceedingly thankful for every kind word, laugh, hug, shoulder to cry on and shared ice cream of my 32 years on your planet. If you're reading this, then I assume we're friends, so you should know I think you're the best and I love you forever. If we're not friends, we should be. Let's get on that.

Lyric of the moment: "See you and me have a better time than most can dream, have it better than the best. So we can pull on through whatever tears at us, whatever holds us down. And if nothing can be done, we'll make the best of what's around. Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters..."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Abnormalities and awesome sauce

Yesterday I received a letter from the doctor that said, and I'm paraphrasing:

Remember a couple of weeks ago when we awkwardly shoved all the metal stuff up in your business? Good times, am I right? Well we found something abnormal. Is that vague enough for you? Ok, we'll give you a little hint. Cancerous cells were not seen. See how we even bolded the not for emphasis? But that's all we're giving you. You are abnormal and require further testing. Lucky you, you get to come back to the office so we can prod at all your lady parts some more. It's like a bad date that never ends! Oh, but don't try to call us now to make an appointment. It's too late now. You have to wait until tomorrow morning. We'd just like to give you extra time to ponder what could be wrong with you. You're welcome.

Given time to think about all the possible non-cancerous abnormalities that could be lurking up in my insides, I have come to the only logical conclusion. I'm pretty sure that when I go in for a follow-up appointment, they're going to say "Did we say abnormal? We meant abnormally awesome. Congratulations, you now have superpowers!"

The good news is that my follow-up is on Friday, so I took the day off. Meaning that now I can go to the midnight showing of the new Captain America movie!

Robot: turning abnormalities into awesome sauce since 1981.

Lyric of the moment: "Here come bad news talking this and that. Yeah, give me all you got, don't hold back. Well I should probably warn you I'll be just fine. Yeah, no offense to you, don't waste your time. Here's why, because I'm happy..."